This was a short little week, only really two days of normal work. On Monday and Tuesday we had a hackathon, and I joined in with a couple of other developers making some changes to the job queueing library we use, a fork of que, in particular we renamed it and all of its database tables to “kent”, which is the site of a very long queue. This is so we could, potentially, migrate back to original que at some point by running it in parallel with our fork while we transition.
Wednesday and Thursday were normal team work, continuing on the same project.
And then on Friday we had a company-wide day off. There are four of those Fridays each year, and they’re in addition to the normal paid time off, which is quite nice.
No books finished this week, though I’ve got a few things on the go.
This week I wrote a post on fleshing out clan Iuwoi, one of the Aslan clans involved in the adventure The Borderland Run by Mongoose Publishing. I greatly enjoyed this module and, even though they didn’t manage to achieve what they wanted, so did the players.
I like the look of Forbidden Lands enough to run a one-shot, and this week I’ve been reading it more closely with an eye to possibly running a campaign. If the one-shot goes well, I’ll buy the full rules, and make a decision.
But from what I can see, the game has a few weird problems I’d probably have to house-rule to fix:
The first major problem is that it’s a hex-crawling game but you can’t get actually lost when travelling around. When you move to a new hex the party’s pathfinder makes a check and, if they fail, you might get lost in the new hex. So you always manage to move into the hex you intend to, you just might then have to get your bearings or overcome some obstacle before you can then move to another one.
This is kind of weird because getting lost and not knowing which hex you’re in seems like a big part of hexcrawls to me. I think this is because the game world has a canonical map which you’re supposed to share with the players and mark their progress on, and it’s a bit hard to play the “ooh, which hex are you really in?” game when there is an objective world map.
So I’d probably change the “leading the way mishaps” table to have a higher chance of getting lost and, rather than get lost in the new hex, roll a d6 to determine which adjacent hex the party actually enter (where rolling for the hex they wanted to enter means they just stay in the same hex).
The second major problem, which may be addressed in the full rules, is that there’s actually no rules for exploring a hex. It just says that exploration is done in the same quarter-day units as all other activities. Which leads me to conclude that either:
- Anything to explore is supposed to be really obvious. The challenge isn’t in finding the secrets, but in dealing with them.
- The GM is just supposed to just make a ruling every time the players want to explore.
The latter feels like a glaring omission for a game so heavily based around hexcrawling, so it must be the former. Which is alright I guess, but I would prefer to have both obvious and non-obvious things in the world. Everything being obvious kind of works in the default setting, which is that nobody has really travelled for the last few centuries due to the Blood Mist, so that’s why there’s all this obvious stuff lying around untouched. But that justification doesn’t work in a different setting.
So I’d probably copy some exploration / surveying rules from another system. Or make something up. For example, this could work: “every person-quarter spent surveying the hex (if multiple people are surveying they have to split up and survey different areas) grants a cumulative 1 in 6 chance of finding all the secrets”, which then means it takes a single person at most a day-and-a-half to survey a hex, and less time if they have help.
There are some other niggling things, like weather not affecting the chance of a good night’s rest outdoors, and not being able to forage while travelling (which is understandable but I’d probably allow it if travelling along a road or other obvious landmark), and a quarter-day’s rest or sleep restoring all damage. But those are lesser issues which can be more easily resolved. Overall, it looks good, and despite these two major flaws I’m still pretty confident I’ll like it.
I’ve also been looking into Dolmenwood this week. I started watching a fun Dolmenwood actual-play using the OSE rules1 and I’m now pretty confident it would be a hit with my group. I’ve got the current draft books from the patreon, and have been skimming through them between watching episodes.
I’m not really sure about running a one-shot though. It feels like a lot of the fun of Dolmenwood is in getting to know the NPCs and places, and the strange adventures to be had are just one part of that, so I’m not too sure how to give it a whirl without just announcing this will be our next campaign.
I think I might be souring on the idea of a one-shot, as in a one or two session self-contained adventure, entirely. I’m finding that one thing I enjoy quite a lot in a game is developing relationships between the party and NPCs, and there’s basically no scope for that in a one-shot. This means that, while a one-shot can be a good way to try out a system or setting, they’re not really a good way to get a feel for what a campaign would be like. I’m thinking of pivoting towards short campaigns of five to ten sessions instead. But that’s a much higher time commitment, which makes them a bit more awkward to fit in around other campaigns…
I’m also not sure what system to use for it. I don’t really want to use OSE. Will Forbidden Lands be fitting? We’ll see. I’m not looking forward to having to convert all the monsters, stats, spells (etc) though.
Running Traveller in Foundry went well, so well in fact that the other GM in the group (who’s running Whitehack) suggested moving their game to Foundry too.
There’s one player who missed the session, so I want to try it out with them present before deciding to drop my Roll20 subscription, but it’s looking promising.2
I’m not usually a fan of actual-plays, I find just listening to or watching other people play a game not that fun. But recently I’ve started getting into them as a means of learning a system, setting, or adventure, and I quite like them for that. When getting ready to run The Borderland Run in my Traveller campaign, I watched an actual-play of that which I took some ideas from. It’s helpful to see how another GM approaches a situation; but I don’t think I’d watch one I wasn’t learning anything from.↩︎
It looks like ending my subscription shouldn’t actually lose anything, all character stats will remain even though I lose my custom character sheets, and all uploads will remain even though I get less space, but I’d still prefer to know everyone is definitely on board before taking the potentially destructive step.↩︎