Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Campfire stories

I was away camping last week and, since I knew I was going to be camping, I prepared an adventure to run for the family.  Naturally when camping you want to travel light so I grabbed my Beacon book, a couple pencils, the character sheets from last camping trip and looked through the list of One Page Dungeons for a suitable adventure.  That's as portable as anyone could want I figure.  I had to look through a bunch of good adventure candidates, but I finally chose the Citadel of the Severed Hand by Rob S.  I picked it because it had a dwarf ruin theme, but primarily because it featured different factions of bad guys, which I thought would be fun and useful when playing with a small party.  I liked the dwarf ruins angle because I've tried to keep the surrounds of Milham of a consistent tone when running adventures for no reason other than the place sprang up as my attempt to do something like the Westmarches Sandbox campaign.  It's my fond hope that one day far in the future enough people will have played in that setting that two strangers might meet and strike up a conversation based on the mention of a particular location or event.  "Excuse me, but I heard you mention that my mother seems as charming as a Fox Hollow prostitute, and I was wondering if you had ever played Beacon?"

It didn't hurt that there were these "myconids" all over the woods...
Anyway, it was a good adventure and the family enjoyed it.  I downplayed the evil demon angle and recast the main bad lady as an orcish witch (a level 4 Enchanter) because the party was small and still fairly low level.  It was just scary enough for my kids and they spent most of the adventure sneaking around and trying to avoid conflict, allowing the orcs in the woods to cause a distraction while they snuck in via the creepy mushroom caves.  We played while sitting around the campfire this time at my wife's suggestion, rolling dice into a bowl and me reading my notes by lantern hanging from a nearby tree. That was a good deal because it tested my theory that RPGs work better in the darkness.  At one point the kids almost dropped their pencils in horror as I gleefully described the spore riddled corpse of an unlucky adventurer in those dark mushroom caves.  And yes we dropped the dice bowl a couple times.

The highlight of the night was when the witch 'summoned' a terrible dragon, and the party was sure that their goose was cooked, but then the druid cast a swarm of bats to distract it and because of the bats, they figured out it was all an illusion.  Pretty exciting for a 10 year old!

I also had a chance to finish up some work on a one-shot Ashen Stars adventure when it was raining and we were stuck in the tents.  Ashen Stars is a pretty great science fiction rpg based on the Gum Shoe system, and I have been wanting to run a game using it for a while now.  I've never written a real investigative type adventure, and those require a lot more preparation than I'm used to, but I wanted to try it and I'm so glad I did.  I got to run that adventure last weekend, and boy was that a fun game.  I probably should write that up sometime.

So overall camping was a win for gaming.  And when we got back home I saw that my copy of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess hardcover was waiting at my door!

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