*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 28, 2020, 07:59:44 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 211 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Heroquest] Xian Quan, the Well of Souls, session 1  (Read 6380 times)
Doyce
Member

Posts: 442


WWW
« on: January 17, 2005, 01:14:49 PM »

[Game Account from a player's point of view, with parentheical notes by me as to who's who from the original Well of Souls.]

(15 Jan 2005)

It is the afternoon before the Night of Bitter Scales.  

Man Xun (Maslin), a traditional Taoist in his 80s (as most of his generation were -- a generation or two ago, Taoists held sway in the courts, whereas now it is the Buddhists) -- will, that night, with other prominent local Taoists and Kung Aoshi (Eustef) -- go out and offer sacrifices.  Master Li (a PC taoist wizard once prominent in the courts and now exiled from same -- and secretly the father of (the very buddhist) Sister Jian).  The peasants will also do their bits.  

To this day, they offer propitiatory worship (i.e., "here's a sacrifice - please stay away") to Ruiban of the Slithering Dark, who was banished in mythic times, but who is said to still hide in the crevices of the world, brooding and vengeful. Should the peasants ever stop their practice, they believe the realm would again be invaded by fiendish Snake Things.

Aoshi, with his guards and prominent Taoists, goes out and does his thing every year, even though he's a faithful buddhist... in support of the people of his prefecture -- for which is well-regarded.

The 'royal' group involved in the ritual will pass through Seven Mountains Village (Stalos), Jiong's territory.  Jiong (a PC, who met with Man Xun earlier) is there to salute the small group.  Man Xun will be having lunch with Jiong, Kung Huigong (Hugo), and Ro (PC) the next morning -- his three 'favorite young men'.

* Jiong is not going to the ritual, but is asked to keep an eye out on the border between his and Man Xun's districts.  He checks with his (four) soldiers as to who will be going participating in local rites, and plans on being on the road when the boss rides by.

* Master Li spends the day checking out costumes for the villagers and helping them prepare.  Since he moved to the area, he's slowly taken over the village 'old' rituals, and this is the first time in several years that he won't be in the village for this event, due to the Prefect's invitation.

* Eliang, who believes that knowledge is power, arranges to sneak out and follow her father's group to the Taoist ritual.  As an educated Buddhist, she's somewhat curious about who is involved in the ritual with her father.  As a daughter who wants to maintain her autonomy, she craves bargaining chips.

* Ro will be going down to his father's (Man Xun's) village with his servant and "bonding" with the "common people".

* Notably, Huigong (Hugo) and Gunlang (Guilbert) are not going with their father for the ritual.  Huigong asked to be included, which led to Aoshi requesting Gunlang's presence.  Gunlang refused, which led to an argument, which in turn led to Aoshi refusing Huigong's request in turn.

The shrine/ceremony takes place in a natural amphitheater.  Guards are put out by the mouth of the valley, and in the far corners.  Kung Aoshi is polite and respectful to Man Xun, but clearly treats him as one of his ''father's'' advisors, included out of respect, but no personal bond.  Master Li is accorded the respect due a presiding priest, but no more.

Master Li successfully completes the ritual, which involves water censors and five sacrificed chickens.  

----

Eilang tries to observe who is attending, and, through a heroic effort, manages to find a way in to do so; the only ones she recognizes are Man Xun, Master Li, and Kung Aoshi, along with Au Li.  

Folks head to their respective homes afterwards, leaving Aoshi and the four guards to head home to the castle, where Kai Ling (Collette) and the castle staff waits to welcome him back, per tradition.  Huigong is in his room (though he headed to town later), while Gunlang is down in town.  The Imperial Magistrate Ratao (Ratier) -- Aoshi's liason with the Provice Governor -- is there, looking distastefully on the proceedings.  

Eliang goes to town and, disgusted by Gunlang's absence at the castle's traditional welcome back, takes his horses.  She tracks down Huigong, who is at Zhi Wang's home, whomping on a straw dummy ("not 'practice' in any real sense of the word" she is informed by Zhi Wang, "merely venting").  She confronts Huigong, and chides him for not being at the castle when his father returned.  She tries to recruit him into further tormenting of Gunlang (as a means of placating her, if not Father), but he declines.  She goes back and opens the windows to Gunlang's room wide, so as to provide a chilly reception when he staggers home.

----

Breakfast with Man Xun, Jiong, and Ro.  Nothing had happened on patrol the evening previous, and Ro opines that the villagers were generous.  Huigong notes that he'd heard all went well.  Various discussions about Gunlang commence, with Huigong trying to be diplomatic about his brother's shortcomings.

Soldiers arrive.  Man Xun goes to see them.  Jiong and Huigong chat, while Ro eats breakfast.

Man Xun comes back to the room to take Huigang away with him.  He reveals that Aoshi has failed to awaken this morning.  Huigong immediately departs Man Xun's home.  In the meantime, Man Xun says he has several details to work out, and that Jiong and Ro must excuse him.  He mentions that while he is gone, Ro should act as legate for the village, should become necessary.

Why would it become necessary?

It turns out that Man Xun is under "protective custody," traveling back to the castle, under guard, in a locked and barred coach.  Ro, immediately discerning that the Captain in charge neither makes nor breaks policy, rides back to the Kung castle quickly, overtaking Huigong on the road and arriving with him.  Jiong follows after interrogating the guard captain about what's going on.

Meanwhile, Master Li is being arrested, too.

----

''Earlier ...''

Eliang is summoned to the Lord Kung's chambers.  Feng Shirong (Serge) is there, Au Li (Alfan) is there, Master Ran (Father Rance) is there, Ratao (Ratier) is there.  Kai Ling (Collette) is there (clinging to Aoshi's hand).  Aoshi cannot be awakened.  Eliang tries to get Kai Ling to move back before she attempts to ascertain the cause of his sleep (mostly because she wants Kai Ling away from her father), but fails; after her divining, she can only tell there is magic involved (by process of elimination), but cannot tell more.

Ratao approaches her, inquiring about the (EVIL! TAOIST!) rituals from the previous evening, thinking that something might have happened during the ceremony that would be at the root of this illness.  She rats on the people whom she saw at the ceremony without revealing anything about her spying (and somewhat put out that she can't immediately think of a way to hang the whole thing on Kai Ling).  Both during and after their conversation, she fights off a sense of nausea -- probably some strong backlash with her recent interaction with the magic on Aoshi.

----

Ro and Huigong arrive at the castle first.  Gunlang is just arriving (walking to the castle from the town below, and still drunk), and Huigong chastises him in the courtyard -- an activity that is still goig on as Jiong rides up.  As the family frets, Feng Shirong is giving orders for the borders to be secured against anyone who might take advantage of the Lord's illness.

Ro (as he is riding in) had used "Words on the Wind" to listen to the conversations within the castle -- it is a well-executed magic, and he picks up various important pieces of conversation throughout the manse. With this information, he decides to go to Feng Shirong and him know that he's in charge of Man Xun's district (with witnesses!)  Shirong assures him that Man Xun won't be thrown in jail, etc.; the questioning (requested earlier by Ratou) is pro forma.  Master Ran is, meanwhile, summoning good Buddhists to the Baron's side to participate in a structured ritual to try and revive him.  Ro sends his servant Fong to pass the word to the guards at his father's village (Blue Gate).

Shirong intercepts Jiong as he heads to the Lord's rooms and grills him as to whether Ro is a good choice to control Blue Gate at this time.  Jiong backs Ro, because Man Xun does.  Shirong informs him that Kai Ling is looking for him, and that they (the Captains in charge of the defense of the Prefecture) are to meet just before Noon to determine what is to be done.

Jiong joins Kai Ling at the Prefect's side, along with Master Ran, Sister Jian and Ro.  All three of Aoshi's children are in attendance as well.

----

Master Li is escorted to a jail cell in Kung Well, separate from the others.  Not a dungeon, more of a drunk tank, but confining.  Man Xun is also in the building, but merely as a 'guest'.

----

Those performing the buddhist ritual augment it in support of Master Ran, and the air fills with tension.  Eliang fights her earlier nausea, but throws up, Ro pales at the strain (and roiling stomach), but Jiong doesn't even break a sweat. Gunlang is also violently ill (though odds are good that this is more to do with the wine he drank the night before than the current ritual), while Huigang maintains total control.

Something seems to tear in the air, springing loose, and the Spirit World become visible, the bed holding Aoshi writhing with spirit snakes, the veil that was concealing them suddenly rent open.  Master Ran is thrown back to the wall; Sister Jian runs to his aid.  Kai Ling faints, and Jiong runs to her, casting a glance to Sister Jian.  

Eliang's "vomit" is actually snakes -- everyone reels back from this gruesome display -- but the things vanish before they hit the floor.  (Eliang, in turn, is convinced that Kai Ling fainted rather than facing her own evil ...)

----

Off in the jail, Master Li senses the magical tension even from as far away as the town... something old and evil breaking revealing itself.  He looks out the small barred window of his cell toward the castle and notes the twisting the clouds above.  He considers for a moment, reaches with his mind into one of the many magical talismans on his person and suddenly a black crow sits on the window ledge in place of Master Li -- this is obviously all a Buddhist trap to keep him away from Aoshi and the means to exonerating himself.  He flies off toward the castle (and the conveniently open window of Gunlang's chambers) even as he hears Ratier arrive in the outer office of the jail.

----

Eliang wants to aid Master Ran, but cannot -- he body is wracked with spasms.  Huigong helps her to her room.  When he returns, he speaks briefly to Ro, letting him know that he can expect Huigong's full support in assuring Man Xun's speedy release from custody.

Jiong carries his mother to her room, and then returns to Huigang to offer his support and ask how he can help -- outraged as well by the scapegoating of Taoists (well, by the scapegoating of Man Xun, at any rate).

Ro opines to Huigong that Ratao is the one who is behind all this, but also thinks Ratao is the one who has the most dangerous authority in the current situation and doesn't want to make waves or enemies (especially since he doesn't think that it's likely that Man Xun will be in for long).

Master Li arrives at the castle and returns to his normal appearance within Gunlangs rooms.

----

Annnnd Scene.

What worked:
 - This was a really interesting set up, and so far has been quite interesting to play.  Most interesting of all was that all four of the players had provided characters that were in many ways very much against type for their normal style of play:  the "sidekick or loner" player is playing the leader-type Jiong, the "straightforward butt-kicker" player is playing the intrigue-prone Eliang, and so forth.

 - Like my currently "standard" Spring Fountain game (run mostly with a different group), the players went much longer into the evening than their norm, with good focus on the events of the game even when they weren't involved.  This is a more 'indie' group than my DnD converts, though, so I sort of expected this.

 - Also like the other group, the players requested another session of play ASAP.  I couldn't oblige their request for another session the next day, unfortunately, but we definitely want to play again while things are still fresh.

What didn't work:
 - Chargen.  I love the HQ system, but first-time players AGONIZE over their choices quite a bit, ESPECIALLY when they didn't have a clear vision for their character -- they tend to be wishy-washy and try to do too much.  We finally decided to play with several character storing character points for allocation "as you go".  Conversely, folks who have played before, or who had very clear character concepts, had their character's done in no time.

- Magic.  Making up an animist tradition on the spot/on the fly is a pain in the butt.  In execution during play, it works fine, but again -- with players who expect a drop-down list of choices and a template to work from... it's a strain.  It literally took us about four hours to finish up two characters -- one of which had been sketched out the week before.
Logged

--
Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2005, 03:06:28 PM »

Hi Doyce,

I'm glad to hear everyone's enjoying the scenario as far as players- it might also be neat to hear about how you, personally, feel about running it.  That is, do you find that the conflicts and subconflicts work as good "ammo" for you to keep things interesting, are they easy enough to portray, and/or just too complex? How hard to you find setting up for play with WoS?

As far as HQ and chargen... Like a lot of other games that can "do anything", players need a lot of guidance.  Keywords are useful, but if not that, at least get something like a 3 sentence summary of the character and make the players write it down.  It serves as sort of a beacon for the players to keep on focus.

As far as magic- yeah.  It can definitely be a pain in the ass if you don't have anything prepared.  Theist magic is pretty easy because you just lay out 3 affinities, but the other kinds are a lot harder to just up and produce without a little thought.  But 4 hours?  I would have just called it at an hour and said, "Look, we'll make up as we go."

Chris
Logged
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2005, 03:24:48 PM »

Hi Doyce,

Which method of character creation did you use?  The 100 word description? Lists?  How did you go about it?  I'd love to hear more details.

Following up on Chris' post, my guess would be that letting the players do the paragraph description of the PC -- really going to town with what they see and feel about the character -- and then helping them underline the key words would really pay off.  But I might be dreaming.

I'd love to hear more on this,

Christopher
Logged

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Doyce
Member

Posts: 442


WWW
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2005, 03:32:30 PM »

Quote from: Bankuei
I'm glad to hear everyone's enjoying the scenario as far as players- it might also be neat to hear about how you, personally, feel about running it.  That is, do you find that the conflicts and subconflicts work as good "ammo" for you to keep things interesting, are they easy enough to portray, and/or just too complex? How hard to you find setting up for play with WoS?


Personally, I think it's a fantastic setup. I have to acknowledge that there's some NPC's who'll never see play -- notably this usually works out as Deliam and his merchant nemesis at a bare minimum, and usually no one has ties to folks like Trencaval and Alfan, but I think the glut of cool NPCs is a benefit -- it gives players a large r-map to stick their colored pins in and make their marks.

Serge is usually good to play as an over-zealous hard ass.  I let the people he has gathered to serve him speak volumes about his nature.  

Hugo is almost always seen in a sympathetic light, even with a one or two-line description from the briefing.

The Church NPCs were largely ignored in the first game, but much more central in the second (though issues of religion are large in both).

I think the strongest initial conflict in the traditional game is the one between folks trying to pick an heir and those who think Eustef's recovery should be the priority.

In the second game... well, that's not clear yet.  I think it's a great indicator that I have a player who's in both games and made completely different characters with very different takes on the NPCs.

I think, personally, that the whole thing is really a brilliant "Throne War" in the Amber DRPG style... but honestly better than most Amber Throne Wars ever come off.  Just that thought alone has gotten me started on the road to an HQ write-up for the Amber setting (for all that I'll probably never run it.)

One other mechanical thing I really like is that the set-up for the game and it's typical conclusion will take you through every type of situation covered in the HQ Game Aid from Issaries, up to and including he bits on gaining community support... since that's what I'm providing to all my players, it's a really neat tie-in... I make a point of mentioning where the rules reference is as I situation comes up, so that people can get used to everything.

And I like the art.  The art kicks ass.  I print everyone out in color so I can cut them out and tape them to a big sheet of paper in a visible R-Map that people can see and reference during the game.  (Sans PCs.)
Logged

--
Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2005, 05:02:09 PM »

Hi Doyce,

Quote
Hugo is almost always seen in a sympathetic light, even with a one or two-line description from the briefing.


I think the fact that he's supposed to be the more competant of the brothers plus Guilbert's personal issues tends to put Hugo in the sympathetic role.  Sometimes I wonder what would happen if someone played Guilbert without the drinking, just not up to task and Hugo as the prodigy genius? :)

Quote
And I like the art. The art kicks ass. I print everyone out in color so I can cut them out and tape them to a big sheet of paper in a visible R-Map that people can see and reference during the game. (Sans PCs.)


That means a lot to me.  I kinda cringe at the art myself- I guess you're always your own worst critic, right?  I found players have an easier time following a web of drama when you have visual references, and that pretty much was the plan of including the artwork.

Chris
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2005, 09:34:21 AM »

Chris may be right that the narrative method might help, but, then again, it might lead to a character with just as few abilities as the player writes very long sentences with few descriptors. Can't hurt to try, I suppose.

What I do when I see a player struggling, is to finish up with any ideas they do have, and then just call the character done right then, saving any unused points for later. No need to have the player struggle with it unneccessarily. I think it's a great feature of the game that one can put down on the sheet precisely as much as one has at the moment, and then start playing with just that.

IOW, there's no imperative to finish the character. So, again, my advice is just to quit as soon as the ideas stop coming.


As for the second issue, making up any keyword takes extra time. Making up magic keywords takes up even more than that. Animism keywords take the longest of all. In part because you really have to have the player understanding just how animism is organized, which isn't simple.

Basically, either commit to the extra time that a new keyword is going to take, or just stick to examples. I've found that the investment in making new keywords is worth it, however, for several reasons. For one, you then have the keyword for someone else to play later - and it can still be made unique, but with much less effort (for animism, you can add a practice, for instance). For another, players who've made their own keywords in my games have been very invested in them. So I think it's very worthwhile.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Doyce
Member

Posts: 442


WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2005, 10:03:30 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Chris may be right that the narrative method might help, but, then again, it might lead to a character with just as few abilities as the player writes very long sentences with few descriptors. Can't hurt to try, I suppose.


We've done pretty much all list-method up to this point -- simply because it's hard to do a 'good' narrative method when the setting is hazy -- there's a strong need to over-explain what you mean.

Quote
What I do when I see a player struggling, is to finish up with any ideas they do have, and then just call the character done right then, saving any unused points for later.


My wife suggested this for one player (Aorong's) when they got hung up on their last five character points, and that worked out just fine.

With the other character -- we had:
 - A new player.
 - Using magic.
 - Animism.
 - Taoist-style...
 - which really has no good 'similar-system' to 'fake it' with in the book.

So that just plain took awhile.  The upside of that was that I think the end result was quite tasty and useful.  But it took a LONG time, and I should have had more sleep beforehand.

Quote
I've found that the investment in making new keywords is worth it, however, for several reasons.


All of which I agree with -- everything we did creates great material for games we might run later.
Logged

--
Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!