Tag Archives: empire of ashes

Sixth “Empire of Ashes” Session Summary Posted

Now that this new noble guy is safely dead, we consolidate our position in:

Valix Drogue’s old manor is now officially Versane Manor, and we get the dead noble guy’s majordomo to make that nice and legal.  Chuck the GM handed out minions for each of us to run!  The assassin, the majordomo, the doctor, a squad of infantry, a squad of archers, and a double batch of household slaves.  I got the assassin.  We set the rest to guarding/improving the house.  Everyone is quite good-natured about Versane delcaring himself clearly in charge of everything.

Chuck apparently expected us to do something else – rush off to the aid of the city, or something.  Not us!  We have a manor!  We clear a graveyard, some hunter’s cabins, and a local village of undead.  Now we just need some more peasants to staff it.

And they’re all jealous of my horns.


Fifth “Empire of Ashes” Session Summary Posted

This was a short session, as we went to see Watchmen beforehand.  (And everyone liked it, despite all the naysayers out there).

This session starts with some noble and his retinue rolling up and claiming they own the manor house we just cleared of undead!  Turns out the guy’s the husband of the lady we let loose from Valix Drogue’s dungeon.  Apparently he had something to do with her being in there, as he is with a new mistress already.  I was fine with that, and willing to take a job to go finish her off, but the guy had the balls to offer us 2000 silver for the job.  Killing a noble’s worth 10k at least, 2k is an insult.  So when the assassin showed up for him – we decided to help her out.  No one insults Versane and lives to tell about it.

The session scribe had to leave early, so here’s the quick version of how it finished:

Versane and the assassin fought the Groarg captain and two tough mooks for like ten rounds with no one hurting anyone else.  Finally their sorcerer opened the door and zapped Versane, who filled him full of arrow holes for his temerity.

Downstairs, Garret engaged guard after guard out in the yard, not hurting a one of them, while Ardreth and Seth zap-and-stun them off him.  They were down to three opponents, two of them stunned, when Ardreth decided to come upstairs and help.

Sadly, all three of those guys downstairs then activated in ninja mode.  Two of them ran up and slashed Seth into little pieces.  Bennie spends and fleeing only bought him like a round.  Garret engaged and finally killed the third one but too late for Seth.

Ardreth showed up and zapped the crap out of the Groarg captain.  He still  fought all three of us us off for like five rounds with three wounds on him.  We finally killed all of them, as the two guards who killed Seth showed up.  They saw we were badass and ran off.

And… that’s about it!  The assassin killed the Baron and the paralyzed chickie. The majordomo and doctor surrendered (well, the majordomo just tried to stay between us and the Baron, but that was less “combat” and more “step around him”).

So yes, Tim died again.  He loves making new characters anyway.

Fourth “Empire of Ashes” Session Summary Posted

Another episode of our dark fantasy, Savage Worlds shenanigans has arrived!  It’s not enough that we’ve killed Valix Drogue and everyone who ever knew him in the city.  Now we’re off to find his country manor and kill everyone who ever knew him there as well.  Because that’s just the way we roll.

We’re somewhat beaten to the punch by the demiplane of Ravenloft, as his manor is now surrounded by mists and inhabited by undead.  We fight a witch or something, and a lich or something.  And ghost light pillars and bone piles.  We were unclear on a lot of it.  But Bruce’s session summary is quite entertaining, read it at:

The session kinda went bad and people were grumpy towards the end; there was even a bit of GM/player squabbling.  This is a common enough problem so I’ll talk about it frankly.  Your input on similar situations and potential resolutions is welcome!

Seed Issues

1.  Chuck, our erstwhile GM, runs a good game but has one weakness – description.  When game world descriptions are incomplete or confusing, it hinders the PCs from being clear on what’s going on.  We had a number of encounters where there was pretty much no setup, just minis put onto a tactical map and we’re off to combat.  “Are those goblin minis the zombies again this time?”  Tactical maps and minis can actually be even more confusing than not having them when some of the minis/features are representative of what’s going on and others aren’t, and there’s not a clear explanation of what the party sees.

2.   We have a fairly large group for this game and it can be chaotic anyway with people rambling on about random stuff. Even from the start, there were times where the GM was trying to get a word in edgewise for like 5 minutes while people babbled on loudly about whatever story, movie review, or whatever came to their mind.  (I’m guilty of this one too.)

Now, these two things can both be overcome, until the “death spiral” starts.

The Death Spiral

Here’s what happened.  Confused players got a little disaffected and bored and started paying less attention and being even more disruptive.  People would wander away from the table for long periods or be doing other things.  Our host was running some kind of loud industrial equipment at inopportune times by halfway through the session.  During the final combat, it had gotten so bad it was comical.  Chuck was trying to explain what these ghost light pillar things were, and every time he tried to clarify it the host’s girlfriend would hit “puree” on a food processor located 4 feet from us.  Needless to say, this was obviously wearing upon the GM’s poise.

As we’re gamers, and therefore by definition good Marty McFly conflict avoidance types, we all just let this build up till near the end open arguing broke out between the GM and players about a typical “you’re trying to weasel your way out of a trapped area now that it’s been triggered” thing, which was of course not what was really bothering anyone.

So at the end, things ended normally, but I think with negative aftereffects, with some players less enthused about the campaign and the GM less enthused about doing a lot of work for seemingly less than grateful players.

What To Do?

I’m sure everyone will get over it, most of these guys have been gaming together for a decade or something.  I’m “the new guy” because I’ve only been here for five years.  So this isn’t a crisis of Biblical proportions.  But how do you stop the spirals from happening?

It’s easy to say “nip it in the bud early.”  But no one wants to be a hardass out of the gate, and some amount of game disruptions and/or weak descriptions just happen, you can’t make a federal case out of it when it happens on occassion.  But then you start to feel like interrupting the flow of things to address problems is harder later on.  Once it’s already been going this way, it’s hard for the GM to say halfway through the session, “Look, you guys shut the fuck up and pay attention if you want me to be running this game!”   (Though frankly I would have backed that play.)   How do you get back on track, and “gently?”

Third “Empire of Ashes” Session Summary Posted

Well, we’re certainly not heroes in the traditional sense.  We murdered fifty men to get a trinket back.  And we’re OK with that as long as there’s money, honor, booty, and drugs in it for us.  (Heck, it sounds like we’re not even getting it back to its rightful owner, but that’s someone else’s problem.)

It could have gone better – after killing Valix Drogue and everyone else in his zip code, we lost half our party to some meddling priests!  Some of it was bad luck, some of it was that we were wounded, some of it was battle fatigue.  We’d pretty much been in back to back battles for three sessions and so rather than negotiate or use tactics, Garret just started a fight and we were scattered and uncoordinated.  Who dies and who lives?  You’ll just have to read the session summary!   Our experiment with Savage Worlds and Chuck’s homebrew setting continues, in:

Second “Empire of Ashes” Session Summary Posted

In our second session of Chuck‘s Savage Worlds game, we kill and kill and kill our way towards Valix Drogue the plumpy rogue.  Read the session summary for the gruesome details.

We’ve gotten used to the system now and it’s going smoothly.  We had seven players, however, so the card-based initiative was a little problematic with getting cards to and from people down a long table and seeing when they need to go in combat – admittedly, mainly a problem because some players were too busy discussing Robot Chicken episodes to pay sufficient attention to the game.  I fully support Chuck using a Taser on any player that needs it.

Also, we’ve earned two advances and have spiffed our characters up some.  As an archer, I’m finding there’s not many good edges for novice Archers to take so I’m focusing on bumping my stats and skills until we get to the Seasoned “rank.”

Bruce the Mostly Absent was here this time.  It was nice because his character was more “good” than the rest of us so it provided a suitable foil (no one else really minds when I have a Muppaphone constructed from the heads of our dead opponents).   Once we beat Arturo the Fence, he was cooperative so I was going to let him go with only the penalty of chopping off one of his hands for being a filthy filthy thief.  I was even letting him choose which hand!  What more could you ask for?  Bruce’s Vashaen was like, “That’s monstrous!”  Paul’s Thul-Eth said “What, you’re going to let him live!?!”  Call me the happy medium.

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First “Empire of Ashes” Session Summary Posted

We’ve been stuck in the D&D Ghetto too much lately, so Chuck put together a new Savage Worlds game!  We’re all nonhuman freaks in a dark fantasy setting of his conception.  All the details are on the session summary page!

I enjoyed the system.  The card-based initiative and the bennies were nice.  Combat definitely went faster than in D&D – we started late, took some time finishing up our characters, etc. but still went through adventure initiation and four combats in one session.  As session scribe, I was having trouble keeping up with the action (not a problem in our D&D combats).

The main dice mechanic is still a little fiddly; I’m sure it’s because we’re not used to it yet but it’s still reasonably crunchy with the different difficulty numbers and “raises” if you beat your to hit by 4 and all that.  The bit that slows it down the most is that you don’t know the difficulty to hit, so there’s a lot of back and forth about “did I hit, did I get a raise?”  As I was an archer (ranged weapons hit on a flat 4) it was easier.

I liked Chuck’s setting, a bunch of weird new PC races is always nice,and I’ve been wanting a good gritty Thieves’ World kind of character lately. Something about settings with character flaws always encourages us to take loads of them, and then to become some horrendous scallywags.  This was no exception.

Anyway, check out the full session summary!    We all had a good time.