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We got played by the god damned Corsair Council like a fiddle!
When Grima comes knocking you better have answers. A giant eye peering into your window.
Jayani and her crew kicks in your door and Ministry’s “Bad Blood” starts blasting. After kicking your ass, she drops off a rolled up carpet and says “take care of this, and we’re square”.
Azira, gray-haired, leprosy-scarred… seeks out her lover from when they were young, Yufar, and begs for a new chance. His liver is made of stone.
A teen in way over her head, Ibiala, picks up a sword for the first time and says, without a doubt, “I can do it”.
Esari, the goblin musician, was the only one to pack food for the trip to a treasure island.
Tarala just wanted to ask Setara a couple of questions. With her bow. And arrow. In fact, forget about the questions, except: where can I buy a canoe in the middle of the night?
Started my side campaign, 1001 Nights Off.
The idea is other characters, perhaps other cities, perhaps other rulesets, same continuity. For when we have smaller player counts. Two–three players + DM. For extra games (we already did the main CC game this week, Thursday).
We played Cthulhu Dark. Beggars in Qudra, 1367. (Qudra is the city that’s at war with Hawa in our main campaign.) It suited us very well and my players, one of them had been stoked AF and the other had been very reluctant, they both liked it. I turned Ammot (a weird al-Qadim–monster) part of the life cycle of Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, and I also had that when the cult (the Hand of the Gray Queen) had made the nest for the DYoSN, they had unearthed Hook Horrors (from the 5e MM) and trained them to do their bidding. So there were a mix of different monsters which I was concerned would dilute the horror but eh the session was good!
I wrote the scenario using the random template generators in Silent Legions, pretty much by the book with two tags, but instead of Silent Legions custom pantheon and bestiary, I used the above mentioned D&D monsters + the DYoSN from Trail of Cthulhu — and the “sample investigation” cues in that book I applied to the scenario that Silent Legions had generated (it just happened to fit very well). I generated a random gross dreamscape in donjon.bin.sh which one of the characters constantly got sucked into when he got insight. Every time, the stinking mire was higher and higher and he carved for longer and longer.
Then Microscope for the first time. We used Chronicle right away (after a while, I explained “and this and this are the differences compared to vanilla Microscope) and one of the players said”Yeah, but I can see why the exp added these, I like these changes“. (Not saying we’re never going to do vanilla, just that we… really loved Chronicle!)
We did the story of the party’s boat from the main campaign from before our nakhuda and rubban Kezim bought our zarug (zarug is a type of boat), the Ummuhm. Apparently it got the name 150 years ago, when it was built to contain a wildly rampant djinn!
It was a wild story with fights against sea monsters, enemy fireball blasting sorcerers, and the Ummuhm was at one point shrunken down to tiny size and put into a bottle! The players wanted to continue this one game of Chronicle, they’re like “there’s so much left to fill in!” We only did two lenses (i.o.w. I, the first legacy, never got to be lens). And, we were so tired. We didn’t do the “this is going to be the last focus” thing either because we thought we would play longer. But we played so wildly. I was jumping around and laughing as the djinn Zobeida and her (also djinn) husband Hafam. I was playing the scenes like kids would play them!
A lot of our scenes were very short. We’re not used yet to not answering the question right away. Our very last scene we kind of got the knack of it. I understood where the player was going… but it wasn’t explicitly stated.
OK, one more thing about Microscope. The advice in Explorer is that the stories often aren’t pretty good as linear stories. They feel good at the table but when you tell it in chronological order, it’s often “yeah, of course”. So since I want to write up our 1001 Nights Off games as “tales” for our campaign site, that has been a riddle for me. But… it’s Scheherezade-style! I can go tale in a tale! First tell the story about how Dusty “One-Armed” Karim fled the ship after it being sunk by a fireball spell. Then later tell the story about how he, years prior, added the nickname “One-Armed” in a fight against gawwar samakat (an already established sea monster in our campaign—we paletted it). Then later tell the story about when the ship was in a bottle, then later tell the story about how the ship even had met the djinn Zobeida in the first place etc etc. I can wrap it up in fiction instead of as if it were an AP report, but I can still get the more interesting order rather than the chronological order. Best of both worlds♥
We were playing slowly because we had been playing an intense game of Cthulhu Dark, then got candy and were learning Microscope, discussing the rules, and also discussing our main campaign, talking about it and things that were going on in it. (Which… is one of my underhanded goals with 1001 Nights Off… to increase the players (including my own) knowledge about the setting, the situation, the genre, the political geography etc).
Edit: Oh, yeah, palette thoughts. Our palette was pretty… “well, most of these are pretty obvious but we added them just to make sure”-ish. Since we’re playing in a very well defined, established setting, al-Qadim (and, trying to get to know that setting even better is one of the points of 1001 Nights Off). One good addition was gawwar samakat, a sea monster that’s been legendary in one of the PC:s backstory in the main campaign (but who hasn’t shown up in the main campaign yet) through our fanfics about that PC. The fact that it was added made we could discuss beforehand if it would be kosher or not to feature in our Chronicle. Another good addition that another player added was “In this chronicle, the Ummuhm can’t spelljam, but other spelljammer ships can feature”. Very specific and very clear.
Edit again: Instead of the cards, we used an outline program (I have a pretty souped-up org-mode with my own hacks). I type faster than any of our longhands, so I was taking dictation. We weren’t sure about how good the overview was since we’ve never played any other way. It’s the first time I’ve ever used any sort of digital thing while roleplaying. (We’ve played Fiasco from PDF, which works for me because you only do it during setup, tilt & outcome, not while actually doing the scenes.) But we liked this well enough.
@Dreamer, I'm intrigued by your play of Our Last Best Hope; when I played it with some friends a few months it did not go well...I read that rule book several times, but there were still way too many various pieces to keep track of, and there were several times when were sat there going..."Wait? Why are we rolling?" Maybe I'll have to read your play and give it another shot.
Watching Mark Truman Diaz facilitate the game on a youtube video helped a lot, especially seeing how he prompted the players to flesh out the fiction around the Threats. I've still managed to mess up by forgetting to add harm, to reduce the size of the threat, give myself story points, etc.
Ben, what was your take on the games?
One of the very cool things about Mind of Margaret is that you can play fairly ordinary events in a way that's still very interesting because we're seeing it from the point of view of the conflicting emotions in the protagonist's head.
CW graphic violence, cultural appropriation
1001 Nights Off! We did Chronicle again. The consensus was (and I was pretty neutral on this) that the crew that started the last chronicle could continue playing it for a while (I was feeling pretty happy with it as it was but there are always more stories to tell about that ship. This time we started telling the story about Setara’s jambiya. Plenty of NPCs from the main campaign figured.
I was good about not “GM:ing” that part of the game (as per Microscope’s warnings); the ideas the other players had about them really fit in with my view of them.
But… we ran into problem with people trying to game the system to get more of their own “telling” in.
I was the first to be guilty of that. I was legacy and wanted to add a dictated scene but I had no event where it fit or even a period where it really fit. So I thought “Maaaaybe it can be tacked onto this event” [really far fetched]. I wasn’t feeling malicious, I wasn’t thinking “hehe I can get away with something”, I was thinking it was fine. But that is how selfish acts are done. “Maaaybe this is fine”.
I ended up really regretting that.
It created a lot of contradictions and knots and made it hard for us to place other scenes. When it became untenable, we had a talk about it. We did two things to fix it – we changed it from a dictated scene to an event, and we renamed the period for it to fit. (Yes, so out of place was it that it didn’t even fit in the period!!!)
It was changed to “Bint digging up the knife from a lonely grave on a Beauty Mark island” and the period’s name was changed from “Setara has the knife” to “Setara gets the knife”.
Both of these changes benefited me… I got more “telling out of it”. OTOH, it was the cleanest fix. But later another player tried a similar thing. He wanted to start an RP scene.
We already had the event “Bint hears that the knife once cut of the caliphs fingers” and the scene “Bint hears how the knife cut the fingers and summoned efreet from another pirate, hears the directions to find the adventurers that has the knife, but kills the pirate after hearing the directions”.
I said “I want to add ‘Bint chases after the adventures’ as an RP scene”. (Normally he’s good about doing Question, Setup, Required/Banned, but now he said this.)
And we were like… “That sounds like an event” but he said “But I want to do it as a scene” and we said “OK, cool, but what event would that be attached to?” and we had this long long frustrating talk about what are scenes, what are events. And we were talking honestly about how we both had been trying to game the system to get more scenes in. (If we were playing with physical cards we might have avoided this argument.)
Another frustrating “game the system” clash came when I had set a scene and put in: “Required: Spared adventurer. + At least one member of the Blue Roses” and “Banned: Nahua”. So I was last to pick. First the spared adventurer got picked. Then another player (not the same as the one in the last clash) picked “I’m another member of the Blue Roses, heh heh, so you have to be the member of the Blue Roses”. I mean… can you do that? I wanted at least one member of the Blue Roses to be present. And as soon as that’s satisfied, the requirement is satisfied…?! And I can pick freely?
And that very same scene led to our fourth problem. We knew from playing that the knife was found buried with a body in a lonely grave.
And I put the question “Why did Bint [the captain of the zarug “The Blue Roses”] spare one adventurer’s life?”, set up “On the lonely island”, and the character requirements above.
And I had the idea, held pretty loosely, that Bint killed all the others but let one adventurer live for longer, I had no idea why (hence RP scene), but that that adventurer was going to be the body in the lonely grave. But, in order to make the idea looser in my mind, I put out “At least one member of the Blue Roses” instead of “Bint” (who was anchor character for the period btw). But when the “So you have to pick the member of the Blue Roses” trick got pulled, I said “FINE! I’ll pick Bint then. OK? So it’s settled.” And the idea really solidified in my mind.
And the player of that adventurer really tried so hard to avoid getting put into that lonely grave. And I was thinking “MAN he’s so stubborn, he’s ruining the scene”. In hindsight, of course I was in the wrong there. He was following the rules. The other player, the “another member”, he was thinking, like me, that “oh, so that’s the body in the grave, how satisfying, of course it is”, (To our credit, there was a misunderstanding: the player thought “The question was ‘why did you spare?’ so we need to play the scene so that I’m spared”, while the rest of us, including me, the question poser, thought the question was “Why had this adventurer, who was now about to be killed, been spared up until now?” — To our anti-credit, he is within his right to misunderstand the question like that, willingly or mistakenly. It’s my duty to pose questions clearly and unambiguously, and to roll with the punches when someone finds a “loophole” especially when they find it by mistake) so we started pushing for the adventurer to be killed anyway etc etc. But before we put it to the vote, the adventurer said “Wait. How is killing me answering the question?” and the “another member” saved the day and started asking me, IC as Bint, “Oh, captain, by the way… why did we let her live?” etc etc and we resolved it. And we let it unknown whether or not the adventurer was the body in the lonely grave or not. Phew. Long story over. Sorry.
We were good about arguing, about being honest about our own bad behaviour and how we felt about the others’ behavior, and we all said “this was a really good session overall and let’s play Chronicle again soon”. The topic drifted to cultural appropriation and al-Qadim and I’m glad that we all said “Yes, it’s a problem, potentially a big problem”. It was a sign that we’re approaching it with open eyes. (It was a longer discussion but this is but a margin!)♥♥♥ [I know I dropped two bombs here, us struggling with learning the Chronicle rules + politics! But. Don’t. Or, rather: new threads! I promise I’ll show up there.]
Abnormal Things by @Orion Canning. That sounds like an awesome and creepy game, makes me think of the moth-man, and stories with flesh eating bugs that are usually afraid of light. Were the moths attracted to lights? That's even more scary, if you have to be careful not to let them see your flashlight.All the games I've played have taken places in America, albeit often strange and remote places in America. I'm curious where you're from and how a Slovenian town might differ from an American one. It's always good to hear from people playing a game I made so thanks a lot for talking about it!
We played the fifth of our 1001 Nights Off, continuing the Dogs in the Vineyard subcampaign.
Writing this part ahead of posting the post-play report tonight because I just finished prep for the second town.
Using some story cubes, the al-Qadim hierarchy of sin (Fortunes & Fates pp 16-17), and a random NPC generator, and relying on my experience running Sine Nomine style tag-mashups as a guide for what feels “grabby”, I was done in a few minutes. Also hooked in some existing NPCs from the main CC game. The end result was a much more focused town and one that looks like it’s going to feel a lot more true to our take on al-Qadim.
I used the aQ sin hierachy and the NPC generator last time as well, but this time I felt more sure about the process and it went faster and looks better. Just like how the first time I’m walking somewhere new in the city, it feels like it takes ages because I’m unsure “is this the right street” etc; even though I’m constantly walking in the right direction, the minutes fly by and it feels like it takes ages. But the second time walking there I relax, just walk, and it feels a lot faster and straighter. The last town had too much stuff, this might have too little. We’ll see. I feel good about it.
Also, after last time, I was like… “there’s not going to be much left of this DitV town generator process if I’m going to be so post-poly & endoqueer about the sex stuff”. But now I feel relaxed in thinking that there are many other things that the game can be about. Last time started with skipping prayers, felt a little tame so I cranked it up to public drunkenness, felt even tamer so it got to murder right there in the first town. End result: a pretty messy town with a mix of “this is what the fuss is about?” with “hmm, this might be a bit much for the first town”.
OK, the rest of this post was written after the session. We had a great session, more coherent, more believable, very thematic with lots of info on the mamluk’s dutiful branch, lots of CvC, lots of very nearly dying, lots of doubt and angst!
The conflict was over some stolen weapons. I was kinda thinking that a more innocent crime would be a great contrast to last time and I think was right. “Do we really kill them for hiring someone to steal weapons?”