This week I read:
Volume 2 of The Halls of Arden Vul by Richard Barton
I figured that since the players had made a beeline to level 6 of the dungeon, I shouldn’t count on them sticking with the “easy” floors. I’d previously read levels 7 and 10, so I spent some time this weekend skimming through levels 8 and 9. Now there’s just volume 3 to go, which has all the sub-levels.
The Halls of Arden Vul
The players returned to a higher-up level of the dungeon to try to connect two disparate parts of their map. They failed, but they did discover a magic chair which lets them view parts of the dungeon from afar, which they used to learn some things about the layout which will hopefully bear fruit in later sessions.
Then, fancy new weapons and new retainers in tow, they went to clear out a secret room full of ghouls which drove them off last time. It was a piece of cake. Sure, one PC got temporarily paralysed, but otherwise the ghouls were very little threat (though it helped that I was rolling terribly the whole combat). And now they have another haul of treasure to lug out of the dungeon and back to town.
You go five sessions with the players being penniless bums running away from everything which even looks at them menacingly, and then they get one lucky break and really turn things around.
No session next week because I’m visiting friends, but hopefully I’ll get up to a little Delta Green then instead.
Thousand Year Old Vampire
I am Chloe, daughter and only child of Akakios of Athens. We live on a small farm with our slave boy, Pelagios, who I discovered hiding in a cave one day as I tended to our sheep. The neighbouring farm is owned by a rich man, and his son, Nikon, humiliates me with his courting and his displays of wealth, intended to win my favour so that he may then win our farm.
Or, I should say, I was Chloe.
Yesterday, while leaving the market, I met a travelling warrior, Pyrrhos, who charmed me with his honeyed words and hypnotic eyes and convinced me to run away with him. I was a fool, perhaps Nikon had got to me and I just needed to escape. That night, I refused Pyrrhos’s advances and he flew into a rage. Before my very eyes, his face contorted with inhuman anger and his hands changed into twisted claws, he struck me once, tearing out my throat, and left me to die alone in the cold.
But I did not die. Though the wound on my neck still bleeds, and though I can only speak with a whisper, I live. I cover the wound with the woollen coat I was so proud to have made, now dyed red, but I cannot hide it for long.
How will I live now? What will happen to my father and our farm?
So goes the first entry in my vampire’s diary.
Thousand Year Old Vampire is a solo journalling RPG about being, well, a thousand-year-old vampire (or thereabouts). Your character sheet consists of memories (but only a limited number of them, your vampire can’t remember everything), significant NPCs, skills (which can be anything, it’s free-form), and resources (likewise).
You play the game by rolling
1d10 - 1d6, advancing forwards (or backwards) that many prompts, and doing what it says. Each prompt has three variations, so if you go in a circle you still get something new.
Prompts are things like
You are recognised for what you are by another creature like yourself. Create an immortal Character, lose a Resource, and gain a Skill. What did you lose to them?
An enemy Character uses a lost Resource to turn your few friends against you. Check three Skills to regain the Resource, or check one Skill to barely survive. Which former friend did you kill? Where do you flee?
They’re pretty broad and open to interpretation, but tie into enough of the character sheet to make it interesting. With my vampire, Chloe, so far she has:
- Hypnotised her father with her vampiric gaze to not question why she always keeps her neck covered (an ever-bleeding wound left by the vampire who turned her), and felt disgusted with herself for doing so.
- Accidentally killed Pelagios, their slave boy, because he saw the wound and in a panic she tackled him to the ground (and his head into a rock) to prevent him from running off to tell others.
- Ran away from home and been taken in by an old vampire living in a cave in the nearby forest and feeding on the occasional hunter.
- Been ambushed by a hunting party while she slept and killed them all to escape, realising in the aftermath that her father was amongst them.
- Taken up work as a servant in the residence of a rich man, but something went wrong with using her vampiric gaze to hypnotize him and he dropped to the ground dead.
- Been pursued by a witch-hunter, set after her by relatives of the dead man.
- Fled into the forest taking up residence in a cave and inadvertently become a local deity for a clan of hunters who bring her offerings in exchange for protection while on the hunt.
It’s really a very good system for inspiring creativity. I’m not sure whether to continue the story of Chloe, or whether to stop and start again with a new vampire. I think, having engaged with some of the prompts, I’d be able to choose better skills and NPCs this time, since most of Chloe’s quickly became irrelevant.
Well, the summer heat didn’t last long. My living room has barely passed 25C this week, so with a fan on it’s been very tolerable. The pollen has been pretty bad though, so I’ve been constantly feeling like the underside of my skin is itching.