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Author Topic: Donjons in Liechtenstein  (Read 3436 times)
DaR
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« on: March 08, 2002, 01:39:50 AM »

Okay, so we actually played in Seattle, and the town was called Liechtenstein...

Last night (Thursday), I had the opportunity to play Donjon with Clinton, Chris (Bankuei), and James (Yasha).  We had an absolute blast, and here are the notes I took during the game.  The first part is largely "breathless 'and then'", as these were the things I wrote down as I was trying to get a feel for how the game actually played.  My comments and opinions on the session as a whole are at the end, so skip ahead if you don't need more 'and then'.

Creating Characters

The theme for the night seemed to be religious warriors.  Chris and I both rolled for attributes (Chris rolled triple 6 on his very first roll, ending up with an initial Virility of 6), while James took the option of dividing 18 points among his.  After some brief discussion, Chris decided on a demon hunter, and I ended up with a 'mad priest', while James agonized for a while before choosing a pacifist monk.

Since we were starting with Level 5 characters, we then added an additional 1 attribute point, 24 dice to skills, saves, and the like, and 20 dice for miscellaneous magical and mundane items (with no more than 10 dice in any single item).

Here was my character as he started the evening:
Code:

The Mad Priest of WOTAN

Virility        5
Cerebrality     3
Discernment     4
Adroitness      2
Wherewithal     5
Sociality       2

Flesh Wounds    7
Provisions      3
Wealth          2

Save vs Illusion & Confusion    2
Save vs Poison, Paralysis & Transmogrification  3

Preach the Word of WOTAN                                4
Smite Unbelievers with the Ironshod Book of WOTAN       4
Deflect Magic with the Book of WOTAN                    3
Clerical Magic (Holy, Brimstone)                        3
Battlefield Chirurgy                                    1

Items of Note:

The Book of WOTAN (Damage Rating 3, +3 to Resist Damage, Summon the Handmaidens of WOTAN! +2)
Crazy Patchwork Plate Armor (Armor Rating 3)
Potion of Healing (7 dice)


Chris's character was a Ravaged Demon Hunter, a normal guy who'd been pushed too far.  His skills included: Knowledge of Evil Lore, Holy Rage, Usher Foes to the Afterworld with Sword, and Magic (Banish, Protection).  His primary weapon was a large magical sword, enchanted with hit bonuses.

James' character was a Pacifist Monk, with a variety of very 1st ed D&D weird Monk skills, including things like Feet of the Gecko (wallcrawling), an attribute pumping skill, and a very nice active defense skill.  Among his items were a clockwork bat and a feather which allowed him to coverse with the dead.


Game Session

Clinton didn't have time during the day to prepare much for the adventure, so we ran things pretty much off the cuff.

Setup

Since we all had a theme somewhat in (religion), and had already largely equipped with the character creation dice, we skipped the normal beginning Town sequence, and jumped straight into the wilds.  Pulling some names out of a hat, we were travelling from Stoneheim to Liechtenstein (dammit, I wanted to invade Belgium!), to investigate strange rumors passed to us by the Church of WOTAN.

We arrived at the town in late afternoon to find it dead silent and apparently empty, with the gates half open and swinging in the wind.  Chris made a Lore of Evil roll to see if he recognized anything.  He generated three failures, and Clinton gave him the following facts:

[list=1]
[*] The people are probably all dead.
[*] Many evil things could have done this.
[*] Nothing in the town seems destroyed or damaged by battle.
[/list:o]

The Gate

Chris took the facts and narrated creeping into the town and finding a townsperson speared to the inside of the gate.  Looking around town, everything seems normal, except for the three vaguely manshaped shadows near a barn, with glowing green eyes.  Chris uses his Lore of Evil again, failing once more, and gaining the fact 'They look like people'.  James uses his magic feather to interrogate the body, garnering two successes and stating the facts that 3 men came to the town as salesman of some sort, and the the inhabitants all died singlely, without much warning.  Clinton narrated the body speaking of three merchants coming, who fooled the townspeople and began killing them.  The interview ended when the corpse rasped out a warning.  I chose to cast the first spell of the game, The Holy Light of WOTAN, illuminating the shadows near the barn.  Two successes provide enough light to reveal the creatures as town guards, who react poorly to the light and scuttle back into the barn, leaving a trail of slime.

Preparing to move to the next scene (the Barn), Chris cast a Protection from Evil Spell, and gets 2 failures.  Clinton gives him 'now glowing with a dark red light' and 'fully believe you are protected', even though the spell failed.  James uses his Feet of the Gecko skill to run up the outside of the barn.  With his 3 successes he finds a hole, hears unearthly music and sees a number of weirdly shaped people performing a shambling dance. The narration reveals them to be 'human-shaped rotting cabbage', some form of vegetable monster.  Also inside are the former guardsmen, one of which sees James, locks eyes, and spiderclimbs up the inside of the barn wall using only clawed hands, before attempting to spit acid at him, which he deflected away, and calmly asked what's wrong.  The other guardsmen began scrabbling up the wall.  Chris and I decide to kick down the door, and initiative is rolled.

The Barn

The players collectively roll quite well on initiative, and Chris starts off by taking a couple of fruitless swings at one of the vegatable things, missing once and hitting but doing no damage (despite 12 dice on his damage roll).  Up next, I try magic again, casting WOTAN's Brimstone Strike, and burning a point of Wherewithal to get an extra spell die.  The extra die was used to expand the effect to cover all 4 of the vegetable things, and I rolled 4 successes, turning all four into dead pyres.  Yay!  Up on the roof, James relieves the possesed guard of his axe, rather than doing damage.

My turn again, and I try to go with magic, as it seems to be working for me, trying a Holy Banishment.  1 failure means it just pisses them off. One attacks each player.  After a crappy defense roll, I take 6 successes of damage, which Clinton turns into 5 Virility damage, dropping me right to zero, as the axe nearly cleaves my left arm off in a gout of blood.   Chris actively defends against his, doing 2 wounds of damage.  James actively defends as well, using one of his three successes to knock the guard from the roof onto the floor of the barn, but it avoids taking damage from this.

Using the 5 Virility damage I just took as a bonus to my roll, I direct the geyser of blood into the eyes of the possesed guardsman attacking me, gaining one success (a penalty to Discernment, which has the added benefit of canceling the opponent's next action).  James uses a skill to boost his Adroitness, then I go again, using my potion of healing to stop the bleeding and recover one point of Virility damage, so I can at least hold my weapons.  Using his Adroitness bonus, James uses Gekko Feet to run down the barn wall, 'accidentally' brushing open a panel, which lets sunlight into the barn.  The creatures all scream and waste their actions scrambling into piles of hay to hide from the light, leaving a further trail of slime.

Chris and I collaborate on a spell, casting WOTAN's Magnified Brimstone Banishment.  We don't roll terribly well, but Clinton rolls worse, and we manage to generate 6 success on both 'Brimstone' (Fire damage) and 'Banish'.  Chris uses one as a fact to rip open a Dark Vortex Maw in the air above the guards.  I use two to rip the possessing spirit entities from the bodies, which collapse, burning.  One more goes into setting the whole place on fire, and the last two go into Wherewithal damage to the spirit entities.  Clinton does a great narrative describing the slimy spirits
rising up from the not-so-living torches, and we go straight into the second combat of the night.

The Barn Part II

We reroll initiative and heal a point of damage, as this is effectively a new scene.  The players don't roll nearly so well this time.  Chris uses his Lore of Evil skill, failing once more for 2 dice, which Clinton tells him that he believes the creatures are Souleaters, and that if they touch us, they can eat our souls.

The creatures let out an unearthly shriek.  Chris misses his Save versus Confusion and Illusion and takes 1 Discernment damage, missing his next turn as well.  James and I save successfully.

One spirit tries to spray slime at each player.  James uses active defense, getting a success and tricking the creature into running into the whirling Vortex, which consumes it.  Chris also opts for active defense, stretching his 'Usher foes into the afterworld', meant to be a to-hit enhancer, to literally usher the spirit into the void.  He scores an insane 10 successes on the defense.  The first three he uses to knock the creature attacking him into the vortex with his sword, then uses the remaining ones to chain into an attack on the third and final spirit by smacking the vortex into it with is sword like a baseball bat.  Rolling the remaining 6 dice as an attack, he generates 5 successes, using one to try and enchant his sword from the magical and spiritual energies it's passing through, and using the rest to actually destroy the spirit.  Unfortunately, all it does to his sword is make it turn the darkish green color of the vortex.

Aftermath

At this point the barn comes down and we hightail it out.  Me, with the Adriotness of 2, manages to dodge the burning debris, while Chris and James each take a wound of damage each.

Time for experience tallying.  The Guardsmen were level 5 creatures, the shamblers level 4, and the Spirits Level 6.  Due to some comical dice misrolling adventures, James manages to get 6 experience, while I get 3 and Chris a paltry 2.  A level 7 experience cache also yields nothing, after
more fun with dice.

Normally we'd have looted the bodies, but they were all burning and inside a burning collapsing barn.  So instead, we collected stuff that the Vortex threw out as it disintegrated.  Chris and I opted to increase our provisions from 'stuff from the town that had been tossed around', Chris gaining 2 successes, and myself 5.  James tries for a magic ring of dodging +2, and failed.

At this point we basically called it a night, after Chris made an excellent roll on Lore of Evil and described how the whole town had obviously been taken over and there must be more hideous things hidden around.  In the distance, the spire of a Church of WOTAN loomed, and since the town was too small for sewers or an extensive catecombs, that must be where they're all hiding.

Next week:  Assault on the Desectrated Church

Overall Opinions and Comments

Donjon is hella fun.  Plain and simple.  I'd never actually played before this evening, and it took me almost no time at all to feel comfortable in doing outrageous things (like using my spurting blood as an improvised weapon and thus gaining a bonus to an attack roll for taking damage).

Handling time was a bit slow on occasion.  The problem was not with actually doing the comparison of dice, like I expected, but with actually figuring out how many to roll and then physically doing so.  Doing up proper character sheets would have helped with the former, but not much with the latter.  Basically for level 5 characters we had a number of instances where people were rolling 12 to 15 dice.  My hands just aren't big enough to fit that many d20s in them at once, so several times we ended up rolling things in multiple handfuls and d20s also tend to wander quite a bit as they roll, which didn't help.  We decided we should probably get some Yatzee-like dice cups, to make rolling easier.

Combat is deceptively fast.  We ran a complete combat for 3 PCs and 7 adversaries of approximately the PCs level, in under 45 minutes, including a fair bit of goofing around and waffling for those of us who didn't quite have the system committed to memory.  Compare that to something like D&D, where a single round might take 10 minutes, and a combat might last as many as 10 rounds, and it's actually rather quick.  It definitely doesn't feel like it's dragging.

The couple of new rules clarifications definitely helped.  In particular, adding Cerebrality to spell casting rolls and only doing Magic Gathering once is a major improvement.  Previous sessions of Donjon apparently had some real trouble getting useful spells off, but I managed to get 3 of the 4 I attempted off, and 2 of them had excellent effectiveness.  I really, really like this word-based magic system, and suspect I would probably have to steal it for any homebrew system I build from now on.

The player authorial control is subtle, powerful, and fantastic.  It really sort of sneaks up on you.  At first, you tend to do very traditional and simple things with it, using it to gain small advantages and set up your next cool action.  But by the end of the evening, we were making almost as much adversity for ourselves as Clinton was as GM, setting the scenery on fire and killing monsters only to release the more powerful ones inside.

All in all, a total success for the evening.

(edited to fix some spacing problems)
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Dan Root
Bankuei
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2002, 07:33:42 AM »

Here's the character + stats(Clinton, if you use this as a pregen, let me know how he works with other players)

The Ravaged Demon Hunter
Vir 7
Cer 5
Whe 3
Adr 4
Soc 2
Dis 2

Battling Evil Lore(lore of battling evil, duh!) 5
Usher Foes into the afterworld with large sword 5
Righteous Fury with sword(extra damage) 5
Holy Fervor in combat(defend vs. damage in combat) 2
Holy Magic:  Protection and Banish 2

Fleshwound(I wanna call them hitdice still, dammit!) 7
Save vs. Illusion, etc. 3
Save vs. Transmorgification, etc. 3

Items of note:
Blessed Sword of the Sun
4 damage, +3 to hit
10 dice item

Holy Armor
4 defense, +2 more defense
8 dice item

Holy symbol
2 dice item(um, I'm not sure this gives a bonus to anything, but hell, he's a demon hunter ok?!?)


So, last night was fun.  Terrible fun despite it being just one big ass combat session.  We began to start seeing the great value in team work, by sharing successes with each other in terms of magic use, but I could see it working well for anything in the game, making Teamwork skills fly up there with Spot Trouble or other skills that give narrative control to the players.  

I used my Battling Evil Lore a few times, and got to narrate some really great set ups for Clinton to use:

"We creak open the gate, only to find one of the villagers impaled to the wall by a spear.   He has barely enough life left in him to utter,'Look....out..." and passes out..."

"Obviously demonic forces such as these have possessed the entire townsfolk.  They also fear the light, so they must be hiding somewhere...but this town isn't large enough for extensive sewers, perhaps that old church over there has catacombs...."

Other things I found out about the "deeper" aspects of Donjon :)  :
1) after 8 dice or so, your odds of success do not climb much, but the amount of successes you get when you DO manage to get lucky increase.

2) higher level fights tend to last longer with a lot of misses(or parries)  on both sides.  I think active defense(aka counterattack) is a great way to counter act this, but the massive strike doing 0 damage still happens...

3) we decided instead of having someone give 9 facts for the other person to narrate, after a certain amount of successes it might as well be full narrative control

4)Unless you roll a 20 every time, you CANNOT beat Clinton :P

5)Experience is still based on luck :(  Next time I'm getting the "Learns quickly" ability for xp rolls :)

Chris

edited to add stats
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2002, 08:08:08 AM »

Handling time was a bit slow on occasion. The problem was not with actually doing the comparison of dice, like I expected, but with actually figuring out how many to roll and then physically doing so.

Doesn't Ron call this "lookup time" or something like that, distinguishing it from handling time?
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2002, 08:22:37 AM »

Hi folks,

Search time = all necessary effort up to the dice hitting the table (given that we're talking about Fortune systems)

For instance, in Champions, subtracting his Combat Value from my Combat Value and adding 11, to get the target number.

In Sorcerer, arriving at the total dice to roll based on my Score and any role-playing modifiers.

Handling time = all necessary effort after the dice hitting the table

For instance, in Champions, comparing the number rolled to the target value, then entering the damage sequence (with its own Search + Handling Times subset), then comparing damage (two types, Stun and Body) with protection values, then marking off Stun and Body damage, then establishing Stunning, Knockback, and so on.

In Sorcerer, figuring the number of victories based on the opponent's roll, assigning two types of penalties based on those victories, assessing opponent's condition based on total penalties.

Best,
Ron
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DaR
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Posts: 62


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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2002, 01:22:28 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards


Search time = all necessary effort up to the dice hitting the table (given that we're talking about Fortune systems)

...

Handling time = all necessary effort after the dice hitting the table



Ah.  My mistake.  I somehow got the impression that Search time was solely related to things like looking up the various appropriate rules necessary to determine how to resolve any situation, like finding the combat to-hit charts in 1st ed D&D or list of situation modifiers in 3rd ed.

So, corrected, the Handling time in Donjon was very low, which was a little surprising.  I expected it to be higher, especially with that many dice to look over and compare.  Search time, however, occasionally dragged on.  Not because we had to look things up, but because counting up handfuls of dice required some thought.

I'll also propose one more 'dial' for figuring out how fast a system is.  Casting time,  or perhaps Rolling time, which is how long it actually takes to get from the end of Handling time to the beginning of Search time.  With a single die game, this is obviously going to be very low, effectively non-existant.  However, as last night's Donjon session proved, a in game with a larger dice pool, especially if the dice themselves are fairly large (like d20s, or heaven forbid, actual d100s), rolling 16 dice and keeping them all on the table and not mixed in with the other dice is not necessarily trivial.
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Dan Root
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2002, 04:52:41 PM »

Hey man,

I still think you got'em backwards or something. Search time comes first. Handling time comes second.

Look at it this way, you're a bird looking for breakfast. Right up until the moment you spy the worm, you're in search time; from spearing and struggling with the worm until the broken-down sugars enter your bloodstream, you're in handling time.

So right until the dice hit the table, you're in search time; anything and everything after that is handling time, including reading the dice as well as processing the final numbers.

Best,
Ron
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Yasha
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2002, 04:55:39 PM »

Handling time:

With higher level characters, one roll that has a somewhat long handling time is the initiative roll. After rolling all those dice (level + Discernment + applicable initiative skill), the player must sort the dice values in order to record them in reverse numerical order on a piece of scrap paper.

Sharing successes between character & player

My character (Merrick the Pacifist Monk) avoids causing direct harm to his opponents. If his opponent's actions accidentally lead to their own harm, however, that must be way things were meant to be.

As a player, I wanted Merrick's nonviolently defensive actions to lead to injury and death. The rules of Donjon Krawl allowed me to spend successes on facts, allowing me to share successes between my character's goals and my own.

We've been playing that the first success rolled goes to the success of the character's action, but I'm wondering whether even that success could be taken away from the character by the player and traded for a fact.  Winning the chance to have control over a character's failure might be worthwhile at times.
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--
James "Yasha" Cunningham
Chutneymaker... Mystery Chef... Abe Lincoln Biographer...
DaR
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2002, 05:29:52 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Hey man,

I still think you got'em backwards or something. Search time comes first. Handling time comes second.


Doh!  Sloppy writing and editing on my part.   Yes, search, then handling.


Quote from: Ron Edwards

So right until the dice hit the table, you're in search time; anything and everything after that is handling time, including reading the dice as well as processing the final numbers.


Right.  But my point is that there's a switch between search and handling.  That instant is the dice hitting the table.  Except, if you're rolling 18 gajillion hundred-sided dice, even just 16 twenty-siders, it might actually take more than an instant for them to hit.  In fact, it might take a full moment, as you gather up a couple handfuls and toss 'em.  You're not in Search time, you already know how many you're rolling and you're in the process of doing it.  You're not yet into Handling time, because all the dice aren't on the table to read.  This was the time frame where Donjon took longer than many other games I've played.  Both due to the number and rounded nature of the dice being rolled.  

Several times I saw Chris resort to rolling two groups of dice, just because it would have been too hard to fit them all in his hands and then roll them without sending them all over.  This isn't to say it made the system bog down, not work, or become unenjoyable, but it was definitely something I noticed.  In fact, it's kinda of fun in an over the top sort of  way.

 -DaR
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Dan Root
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2002, 05:41:26 PM »

Hey,

That'd all be Handling, actually. To go to the bird analogy, the bird is stabbing the worm and yankin' at it, and the worm is holding on tight to the ground (and thinking God knows what worm-thoughts). Chopping up the worm (chewing it, in our terms) and swallowing it is more like reading the dice and comparing or otherwise processing the numbers.

Search time is everything spent to find the worm and triangulate on its li'l worm head. So on reflection, in role-playing, I guess the best transition instant is when you reach for the dice in full knowledge of what you are rolling, not "when they hit the table" as I stated before.

Best,
Ron
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DaR
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2002, 05:55:35 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

That'd all be Handling, actually. To go to the bird analogy, the bird is stabbing the worm and yankin' at it, and the worm is holding on tight to the ground (and thinking God knows what worm-thoughts). Chopping up the worm (chewing it, in our terms) and swallowing it is more like reading the dice and comparing or otherwise processing the numbers.


Fair enough.

-DaR
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Dan Root
Jürgen Mayer
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« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2002, 06:30:40 AM »

Quote from: DaR

Since we were starting with Level 5 characters, we then added an additional 1 attribute point, 24 dice to skills, saves, and the like, and 20 dice for miscellaneous magical and mundane items (with no more than 10 dice in any single item).


Hey Clinton, are there official rules for starting with higher level characters? I can't remember reading about them in the Donjon download from GO.

Jürgen Mayer
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URL]http://disastermachine.com[/URLhttp://disastermachine.com
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2002, 01:03:17 PM »

Jurgen -

There's a bit on advancement in that download - use those rules for higher level characters.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
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