[OSR Actual Play] Greysands Campaign - call for IRC players



  • I have lots to say about this game and Moldvay, as you might expect, but I'm at work currently so a lengthy discourse is gunna have to wait until this evening.

    I welcome video chat with open arms. I appreciate that some might be nervous about verbal/visual communication given that English is a second language or whathaveyou, but I'm willing to experiment. Even if I'm the only person speaking into a mic and the rest of you type your responses and questions in IRC it would speed up play greatly and ease much pressure on these Lazy DM shoulders. That said, I love faces, voices and the unwritten performative/ritual aspect of D&D: so seeing you all around the virtual table would be great!

    All told, I feel that this session wasn't quite as punchy as the last one. I'll go into this later, but there are some encounters that would have been worth pushing. The pirate attack was tense, but ultimately lacking real character. Low on detail. The fish were really skimmed over due to exhaustion on my part and what could be a good moment of tension and surprise became a very bland occurrence. You know you're fucking up running Sea Fantasy when you have to clearly explain that, yes, this amount of fish in the sea is supernatural - the context and foreshadowing of the encounter should denote its mystical quality: sudden changes in weather, crew mood and other subtle signifiers of a sudden shift away from reality. A transgression of the day-to-day medievalism of the setting.

    Any questions? Keen for those tables?
  • Any suggestions for a webcam? Of all the gamer hardware I have, that one's never made the list.
  • What a world we live in! I'm amazed that I was momentarily surprised you don't own some kind of camera - how privileged am I? One in my phone, one in my computer - totally took them for granted. Hm, no Camera and no Mic? Googlehangouts works with smart phones if you have one.
  • I think my Macbook Air is all outfitted for this kind of thing but I've never been on any kind of video chat. I've been meaning try it for ages, but I keep using lack of hardware as an excuse to keep playing text-based games. Of course, I can type about as fast as I can think of what to say -- so I have a different set of behavioral drivers. How important is it to have a set of mic and headphones rather than just using whatever the laptop has built in?
  • Eero, what were your recommendations for things I should have thought through about Prince Shom's situation to set the hexploration up right? Just background and financial situation? Were there specifics?
  • I'm just going to use whatever the laptop has built in and see how it goes. I find it somewhat awkward to get expensive specialty gear just to get into what's supposed to be fun hobby time. If people are creeped out by the horrible video and sound quality, I'll just return to the text game.
  • I have a headset mike of reportedly acceptable quality, just no camera. (I don't even have a dumbphone. Had one, used it to take spam calls, dropped it.)
  • Eero, what were your recommendations for things I should have thought through about Prince Shom's situation to set the hexploration up right? Just background and financial situation? Were there specifics?
    Yesterday? No specifics came up that I recall. The specifics depend on your general approach vector anyway. I could say stuff about where I start building something like that, and where I stop (to leave the rest for play), but that might not be so useful.

    Regarding audiovisual equipment, I would be surprised if AV quality of all things became an issue. I'd rather expect somebody's Internet connection to give up, as I have difficulty imagining the microphone that were theoretically functional but nevertheless so crappy that it couldn't be used for this. I believe it to the the case, though, that we can't mix text and voice effectively; if we find that key players can't connect due to technical issues, then in text medium we stay for now...
  • My experience has been that the built-in, default microphones and cameras which come with most modern laptops/smartphones/etc are plenty sufficient for video chat, particularly for gaming purposes (where you generally don't need high quality). But connection speed/quality, as Eero says, is a major consideration. (As are sleeping children!)

    I'm up for either, personally. Hope to catch you there next time!

    (I'm also working up three adventure hooks myself, using different methods, so one of these days I may be able to host a game myself; sadly, my schedule isn't too forgiving these days.)
  • Christopher is also developing a delightful adventure concept: it's about being low-level minions of a NPC who is making a move to establish a mining colony in the wilderness. So basically the "domain game" of high level D&D, except played from the perspective of the followers. Perhaps we'll see that soon.

    Last night we didn't get a Hangout, as there weren't enough Hangout-enabled players. We played an IRC session instead, which became an impressive tour de force in "criminal fantasy fiction": we saw the nightlife of Carrion, we saw mysterious trysts in the night, we saw breaking and entering, and at the end the thieves' guild came and took all the loot away from the unlicensed freelancer master thief Debby. She got to join the Guild, though, so in that regard her new career in thievery is looking bright.

    Also, Mike should know that his atrociously unfair 3rd level wizard had his immediate monetary problems alleviated: his take on the night's caper ended up being over a hundred ecus, which at his rate of consumption should last for almost three weeks of easy living in Carrion, the occupation capital and city of iniquity.
  • edited April 2014
    I'd be interested in hearing why you felt my 3rd Level Wizard was atrociously unfair but still permitted it. If there's some implication of procedural fault here, I deny responsibility. ;)

    Ok, Notice: I'm interested in running (hopefully) the final and triumphal leg of the Sea Adventure either tonight or over the weekend. Who's available and when? Latecomers and newbies welcomed with open arms.

    I'd want to speak rather than type, as a rule, but sleeping children and technologic restrictions are constraints on this I'll accept gracefully. I reckon it would be fairly easy and unproblematic for me, the DM, to speak into a mic in response to player typing over IRC. I'm actually dyspraxic and the IRC medium has become highly stressful: I simply can't type as fast as my players! I can, however, talk rings around you all.
  • I probably become available today around midnight your time. I'm almost certainly unavailable for all of Saturday. And Sunday might work. I'm probably iffy enough at this time that you should plan on my absence and maybe I'll get lucky with the timing and hop in. Still not sure about the Hangouts gaming, but it's worth a try.
  • I'd be interested in hearing why you felt my 3rd Level Wizard was atrociously unfair but still permitted it. If there's some implication of procedural fault here, I deny responsibility. ;)
    I'm just griping. There is no procedural fault. I admittedly still don't know if the procedure is correct, this being the first time ever that I've actually had someone pick that option. Interesting in that regard.
  • edited April 2014
    Zero difference between my Wizard and a Lv. 1 character in terms of play, with the exception that I had a few more spell options (sleep, light and invisibility certainly aren't gamebreakers) and couldn't be killed in a single blow. Certainly nothing I could abuse for gain. The "reward" of levelling is largely about the HD gain rather than anything tangible in terms of altering my experience of gameplay. Ran a game IRL with 3rd Level PCs with a random magic item apiece and we had no troubles at all.
  • edited April 2014
    Speaking as a guy who had a lv. 1 character killed in a single blow in a Greysands game, I'd consider starting at level 3 to be atrociously unfair. Ish.

    I mean... if everyone's fine with it, that's cool; if you propose a game of one adventurer PC (level 3) and several henchmen PC (level 1), that's both cool and interesting. And it's certainly a fact of life that not all characters in a scenario will be equal, that's also cool.

    But if I'm gonna play Dark Souls then so is everyone else dammit! :D

    if sleep isn't a gamebreaker, you're doing it wrong
  • I'm not claiming that there would be practical game-play problems from doing such things. It would be a foolish claim to make, considering how many do such things. Besides, if 3rd level characters broke the game, then it would make no sense to play them when the level is achieved legitimately. I just don't understand the character choice myself, as for me doing it as a player would be a complete repudiation of everything the game stands for. It'd be like asking to have an extra $100,000 in Monopoly at the start - I would never do it unless I wanted to show throat and play a practice game with a master, with a major handicap in my favour.

    In case it should sound strange for me to say that I don't understand a choice while still maintaining that it is a valid choice to make, think of it in terms of constitutional rights: I'm not just doing rhetorical grandstanding when I say that I think that players have inalienable creative rights in D&D (as opposed to the autocratic model where the GM is king), I genuinely do think that there are things that players can do even when I don't understand or appreciate those choices myself. The play that actually occurs is truly a cooperative endeavour, which means that sometimes you have things occur that would never happen if you were playing all the positions yourself.

    My model of the game has it that play cannot occur unless a scenario is arrived at in full consensus, which is why players technically speaking have a strong negotiation position for playing whatever they want as their characters: if you want a 3rd level character and I don't want you to have that, then one of us necessarily has to give in or we can't play together at all. My current constitutional strategy is to not contest the issue as GM or co-player, partly because nobody has ever pushed that far on the matter.

    (And as I said, this is an interesting situation for me, as it's new - I have no idea if my thinking on the matter might change in the future because of the experience, especially if other players feel the inclination to start with high-level characters as well. I could imagine myself deciding at some point in the future that I don't want to play or GM for a group that starts PCs above 1st level. Don't know yet.)
  • if sleep isn't a gamebreaker, you're doing it wrong
    Yes, of course the 3rd level character is a massive shift; not as big as a legit 3rd leveler would be (lacks funds and positioning), but massive nonetheless. Invisibility alone is a game changer comparable to Flight or any such versatile linch-pins of magitech. No idea what Mike's on about in that regard :D
  • On playing:

    I'm not available today, but I am free for most of the weekend, so count me in! I'll be reading for scheduling details...

    On 3rd-level Wizards:

    I find this odd, just as Eero does.

    But, for those of us who weren't there, can you fill us in on the details? How and why did this come about?

    (I recall that when I joined the Seafaring game in-progress, I made a roll on the list of passengers to see which character I would play. I believe the Sultan - who had been established as a mid-level magic-user - was on that list. If I had rolled that result, it seems to me to be fairly reasonable to start play as a 3rd-level-Wizard, as it had been effectively negotiated as a possible outcome and then left to the dice.)
  • edited April 2014
    Game changer is not the same as game breaker. I defy you both to abuse either of Invisibility or Sleep to the point where I refuse to play with you any more.

    Paul, I literally said "I want to be 3rd Level" and didn't get much fuss, only bemusement. I should have pushed this and gone for level 7 or 10!

    It was an experiment. I've never played a higher level character in oD&D before nor have I ever seen anyone just say "I want two additional levels for no reason" and thought now was my chance.
  • Played a solo game tonight -- discovered that the missing inkeep's son was taken into the fae forest as a changeling. Alas poor Harl!
  • Mike's Sexventure on the Silent Dusk continues on Sunday, regular time! (whatever that is. 7 PM GMT? 8?)

    When we last saw the ship, we had just dodged a pirate ship by Charming their pirate captain and telling him to go do something else entirely, but we are now stuck in a magical boon of plentiful seafood. On the other hand, the pirate ship is now behind us and there's a non-zero chance to meet some friendly ships from Carrion to help use deal with the mess if it catches up.
  • Alas! Winds change, and I won't be able to make it to today's session after all. Feel free to go on without me, though!
  • edited April 2014
    Oh no! Well, yes, I can run this evening if people are around. Any new faces interested?

    Any chance of getting some video going? I'd love to talk over some game theory in person, even if we later transfer over to IRC again.
  • Oh no! Well, yes, I can run this evening if people are around. Any new faces interested?
    I should be able to join at least the start of the session as long as it's on IRC. I'm available from 6 pm GMT and want to leave for bed at about 10 pm GMT, to catch at least 5-6 hours of sleep. I realize that may exclude me from the bulk of the session, but that's OK.

    I'm sorry that you find GMing over IRC stressful, Mike. I guess playing is less stressful, as you don't have to respond to everyone and can watch the other players talk to the GM for while. Is that your experience with Eero as GM? For me IRC has turned out to be the opposite of stressful, almost meditative. It's not because I'm a fast typist, I'm not, but because I've embraced the slightly slower tempo than if we would sit around a table talking. I haven't experienced that you've been extra slow or anything, so I hope that you don't put any unnecessary stress on yourself. The GM is usually the choke point anyway, also at the table, so I've been interpreting any small delay as "the GM is thinking/planning" or "the GM is consulting his tables".

    I'll check in to #habavaara tonight to see if the game is on.
  • edited April 2014
    The magic school of fish has dragged the poor Silent Dusk two hexes away from Carrion directly into the hex where we last saw the pirates. What ever will happen?!? Travels to be continued at 2000 GMT (in 40 minutes!).
  • How has the climate in the Northlands been thus far depicted?
  • How has the climate in the Northlands been thus far depicted?
    Nordic, really. Around Carrion it's like Norway. Further up the coast (more east than north), towards Hyperborea, the climate is increasingly arctic - think upper Canada, near the Pole.

    The landscape is magically unstabilized, though, so there are warmer areas. Xylarthen's Bay up near Hyperborea is warmer than the environs, for example, as is the Dunnsmouth river delta. Usually these differences aren't very notable, but far in-land they can be severe, particularly in the Wastes - there is apparently a "Yellow Forest" in the Wastes, a tropical jungle region severely aberrant compared to the general climate.
  • edited April 2014
    So anything can be explained into the setting, got it!

    I was wondering about what animals and people and stuff ought to be shoved into Opening the Dunn random tables. But I think my "whatever is vaguely justifiable in tenth century Northern Europe plus anything else I want if I want it" sensibility will work out well enough.
  • Yes, sounds good to me. I find myself not using humanoid monsters in the hexcrawling unless they're in some source material I'm using, but that's just my preconceptions - I believe that Grey Shores know of at least some sorts of goblins and orcs and gnolls and such, rare as they are - and civilized urbanites and villagers likely have never seen such in this day and age. Remains of the Greenwitch's slave regiments from the war, no doubt...
  • Tenth Century? Man, I wish we were playing with such historical precision. Feels like we lurch all over, from 1066 to 1810. From the Normans to Napoleon. There are certainly some very captial-m Modern ideas and themes floating around. I feel like the crew of the Silent Dusk could be equipped with muskets and cannon and fit in just fine with pre-established concepts.
  • Certainly. As an example, the Carrionite thieving action we've had lately has been set in a social milieu mostly resembling 18th century Europe. It is also notable that the naval tech is clearly post-Renaissance.

    Then again, the interior is in many ways quite medieval. It's a post-apocalyptic world, inconsistencies in culture are to be expected.
  • edited April 2014
    I've been trying to be really undetailed in regards to the naval tech. I was hoping to go for Hellenistic/Viking Galleys rather than Early Modern Galleons, but the dynamics of the Age of Sail are much more culturally ready to us in our imaginations.

    I was a little surprised by how expressly 18th Century Carrion is! Casinos! I was expecting something more like London c.1666 - rotten and wet, filled with plague and crime... but in a much more (late, late-)Medieval way!

    So, what would have happened if I gave the Silent Dusk cannon? Or had Napoleonic-style Fae regiments marching into the Real from Elfland? What if they have Ancient beam muskets? Is there a conflict of vision, and if so can we reach compromise or am I utterly trashing your notion of a artistically integral world with my perhaps wildly anachronistic elements/themes?
  • I suspect that there is no conflict of vision there. Nobody's gone there yet, but when somebody does actually call on the market at Carrion, I promise to try to sell them a functioning laser pistol from the wizard wars. Should work wonders in breaking down assumptions about bog-standard Gygaxian fantasy.

    As for the Casino at Carrion (and the Arena as well!), it is obviously primarily an artifact of the fact that I'm running a pre-existing city spec from a guy who's much more into the Majestic Wilderlands than I am - it wouldn't be there if I was running my own material. Which is, of course, a major motivation for liberally mixing various sources. In the case of Carrion it works, though, I think - it shows us how the city is yearning for the presumably much more modern federal era :D
  • See, this is what I'm talking about when I say "textuality." The "text" of this city-map has compelled you to include the arena and casino, which in turn are obliged to make sense within the setting. Carrion is richer for these areas of friction. The "text" of Tunnels & Trolls might be similarly obliged?

    Oh man, I was hoping to hear the words "laser pistol" from your lips! Ha ha, TURN LOOSE THE FLOOD GATES! It's time for the whimsy to roll forth!
  • You say whimsy, I say reasoned setting development. You should check out some American underground fantasy from the '50s to '70s sometime (or just read more 2000 AD) - having laser pistols (a rare, legend-tinged remain of a gentler age) being sold in a post-magiwar setting is entirely genre conventional. I don't feel at all lost in the Grey Sands setting, so far everything makes sense to me.

    As for text-based creativity, it's the same as all creativity: you take risks, and some things work and some things don't. Wisdom is to have some sense of what does and what doesn't. I would not have chosen this source material for Carrion if I wasn't confident that I could work with it. Meanwhile, I'm pretty certain that nothing of interest is going to occur if I incorporate certain elements of the T&T rules.
  • Heh heh, we started the best campaign arc ever with Christopher and Daumantas. In "Harvest Moon: Newton-on-the-Woldt" we're hapless farmers staking out land in the middle of the D&D wilderness. Just in the process of finding out whether we'll starve to death in the first winter, before even finding a suitable place for our farm.
  • Ooh, I might have a good adventure hook for you farmer lot...
  • edited April 2014
    Eero and Daumantas (in particular, but anyone, of course), I worked up the following rules for winter weather around Newton. Does it seem like this will represent winter as I described it? Any problems with this system that I'm not seeing?


    I should also note, that there are options for the local weather to be altered from this base state by encounter rolls, so don't assume this is the only thing going into it.
  • Heh, an amusingly iterative process regarding winter weather. We shall have to see what kinds of results that provides.
  • That seems fine to me, so long as you don't mind an occasionally really wide temperature spread ("Today, expect a high of 10, and a low of -18!").

    (Aside: I'm not sure how the spreadsheet actually works, but that's probably because I've never used Google spreadsheets before.)
  • The spreadsheet doesn't actually do anything in this case. It's just a handy table-format tool. Also, I was planning on rolling the weather for each week, not day. I can punt based on the weekly weather if/when we need the temperature at any given moment of time.
  • How's farming going? Is it suitably adventurous or is the engagement placed elsewhere? D&D Survivalism?

  • A bit of both.

    As the baseline, we're trying to build a log cabin at the beginning of winter, as well as support our foodstock with trapping and hunting. There's only the two of us, so an injury or death means either of these projects will suffer greatly and the other might very well simply die to exposure of lack of food.

    We also get random wilderness encounters. The last one was a man (and an able fighter) stumbling out of the woods, claiming that his party was destroyed by a monstrous man with huge cat on a chain and a log for a weapon. My character set out to find the location of the attack, mostly because there may still have been supplies there, as well as to get a bead on this probable ogre's location.

    So that's your typical adventure - treasure, monster, barely known location.

    So a probable ogre was seen just a problem to be avoided. However, by the time my character had set out to track the stumbling survivor, it was getting dark already. At that point, I realized that spending a night in the woods during winter with no fire with me was more scary than an ogre with a pet cougar - you can avoid one but not the other - and had my character turn back.

    So far the adventurous side is mostly tension-building. There are dangers out in the woods, unfriendly tribes and monsters. But the very fact that you need all of your effort just to stay alive out there and than your plan is to stay in the wilderness rather than just cross it means that these dangers feel like actual dangers to be avoided or dealt with, rather than adventures to undertake.

    I quite like it!
  • Only a little unhappy I wasn't invited to the party because it sounds like a lot of fun!

    I simply don't know why there isn't more Survivalist D&D - especially considering the popularity of recent video games in the genre. "Build a log cabin in the scary woods!" sounds just as compelling to me as "Kill things in the scary dungeon!"

    How's XP working, or is survival its own reward? Surely gold is useless to a man who can't buy anything. 1000XP for finishing the cabin or something?

    I'd been contemplating survivalism in D&D with the Sea-crawl, seeing as shipwreck and washing up on a random desert island is a significantly possible outcome for the Silent Dusk.
  • Haven't worried too much about the xp scheme yet. I do know that we're gaining 100 xp per hectare of farmland we develop, and surely there'll be xp involved in hooking a wife at some point - an essential ingredient in creating a successful farming household, you know.
  • Well, it's an "everyone's invited" sort of deal, but we don't really have a schedule. All of the current players (me, Eero, and the GM Christopher) simply have IRC running in the background, so when all of us are on at the same time, we simply do a pickup game.

    If anyone wants to join the useful social practice of always being online, sort of, you can download and install an IRC client, such as mIRC: http://www.mirc.com/get.html ; type /server open.ircnet.net in the white window that opens up, and type /j #habavaara to join. You can then minimize the program and chat at your leisure. Or you can just look up an IRC tutorial online, plenty of those.

    As for the XP scheme... It's a fairly traditional deal, with bolt-ons like the 100 xp/hectare of farmland. I believe the idea is that we'll go on adventures anyway, and either get their value as quests, or get raw cash to buy things with and get XP from that.
  • And more specifically, Mike, you entered the channel on Tuesday when we were gearing up, were offered a chance to play and instead talked about other stuff for two or three hours and then left. So it's not only an "everyone's invited" deal as Daumantas correctly notes, you had the specific opportunity to play.

    Want to play next time? Anyone else?
  • Sorry, Chris. Have I rubbed you the wrong way? I recall I turned up, declined to run Silent Dusk (as there weren't enough players, not due to time limits) and then got engaged in conversation about D&D stuff: I didn't realise I was stopping you running a game. Shesh, way to guilt trip a guy. The impression I got was that you were discussing a "farm game" but it wasn't going ahead yet. :/
  • Nice to hear about this. I'll be on the lookout for a session! (And I was quite serious when I said that I have a potential adventure hook for said farmers.)
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