Thursday, 20 February 2014

Basilica Construction Log 2

Today I finished gluing together all of the main superstructure of the model Basilica I'm making as Anima Tactics scenery. Updates since the previous log are the completion of both towers, the inclusion of stairs inside the towers, the addition of corbels to hold up various removable roof segments - and, of course, actually gluing the upper works together rather than just dry-fitting them.

Aerial front view of the fully-assembled Basilica.

Still to do are various railings, windows, doors, and column details. Most of these will be made from 1.5mm plywood, but I didn't manage to complete and cut the designs for these pieces before I stopped working somewhere with a laser engraver. Once I get the designs together, though, I'll email them through for the guys to cut and post back to me. I also need to paint it, but obviously I'll need to wait until the final details are assembled.

Aerial side view.

Aerial rear view.

I've included Celia in most of the pictures to give you a guided tour and provide a sense of scale.

The imposing facade (although I forgot to add the Church symbol for this shot)

The front doors.

View from the entrance, looking up at the vaulted ceiling.

Sunlight streaming through the choir windows.

Slightly less blinding shot from the front entrance.

The building comes apart to allow access to various floors during a game. The entire upper works come off, as do the transept roofs and bridges, and three additional storeys of towers.
You can just see the plywood Church symbol on the front.

Fully disassembled into its separate pieces.

Celia on the transept bridge (transept roof removed)

In the following series of photos, you can follow Celia up the stairs to the top of the left tower.

On the ground floor, the tower stairs are accessed from an arch at the end of the aisle.

The first floor provides access to the aisle rooftop, and also has an arch overlooking the nave (not shown).

The second floor stairs are fully enclosed.

The third floor provides access to the main rooftop. It's also the top of the staircase.

The fourth floor is a bell-tower, and can only be reached by climbing or leaping.
The Church symbol on the front is more clearly visible here.

The very top of the structure, the tower roof is accessible only by climbing or leaping.

I've recently started introducing some new friends to Anima Tactics, and I'm looking forward to playing a game on this scenery now the majority of it is together!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Ryuutama: The Swamp Witch

This is a continuation of the journey from Millane to Frog Hollow. James didn't make it this time, but we had two new players. The start of the session involved creating and equipping characters for Geoff and Tony, and levelling up Mickey and Sasha's characters who'd made the journey last time.

I'd mapped the area around Frog Hollow, and built in some potential quests and destinations. It made for a bit of extra work, since I wasn't sure where they would decide to go, but I prefer to give the players a choice rather than tell them "you're going here." I didn't actually get the time to fully detail all the quests, but I had enough of an idea what was going on that I could wing it.

In many of my games, I've set up XP so everyone gains experience and levels at the same time regardless of whether their character has been present or not. For games such as Savage Worlds, it's more important for everyone to have similar capabilities so they can face the same challenges and contribute meaningfully to combat. However, in Ryuutama experience is directly tied to the number and difficulty of journeys undertaken, and I think it fits the style of the game better to have characters gain XP and level separately based on their individual experiences. The exponential XP requirements mean that hopefully regular players won't get too far ahead, and the increases in capability are mostly fairly subtle.
  • Geoff plays Walker, a Merchant/Magic character based in Frog Hollow. He knows Summer magic, and his personal item is a broken pocket-knife.
  • +Michael plays Yamahaki, a Minstrel/Attack character. His personal item is a silver flute that he can't play, a gift from his father.
  • +Sasha plays Nisonoya, a Hunter/Technical character who wants to see Frog Hollow's zoo to catalogue many different creatures. His personal item is a necklace.
  • Tony plays Adelric Heathcraw, a Noble/Attack character and disreputable scion of the small noble family that rules Frog Hollow. He wields a katana and wakizashi, and his personal item is a cracked monocle.
Mickey acted as the party's Diary Keeper, and wrote up his own Actual Play too.

Since James wasn't present, I said that Karin had separated from the others when they arrived in town to deal with her personal pilgrimage. Yamahaki and Nisonoya go to the tavern, where they meet Walker and Adelric, and sample the local specialty, Froghollow Ale.

The local brewmaster offers them a job. A witch in the swamp is turning people into frogs, which is hampering their ability to harvest Froghollow Ale's secret ingredient - in fact, they are down to the last few barrels! He offers 500 gold each if they can go into the swamp and stop the witch!

Since he is also enthusiastically discussing the menagerie, Nisonoya is approached by a man who works there. He mentions that the menagerie is always after new creatures, and they'd heard tale of a dangerous creature roaming the rocky wastes some days to the northeast. The zoo would pay 4000 gold for a live creature!

Since the swamp is closer, the group decides to deal with the witch first. The next morning, they set off into the swamp during a sweltering hot day. Everybody suffers from the hard journey, and the confusing environment and loud calls of frogs and insects disorients them and they make poor progress.

By evening, only halfway through the swamp, they come across a mysterious forest of giant mushrooms. Adelric has heard tales of this mysterious place, said to confuse and disorient travellers. Yamahaki takes the lead in setting up camp; at Nisonoya's suggestion they carve a hut into the stalk of a giant mushroom, and despite the environment they enjoy a superb night's sleep!

By morning the party is fully refreshed, but their condition is mostly low apart from Adelric who always seems to be in tip-top shape.

Geoff had to bow out early at this point, so I said Walker was feeling a bit under the weather. While still able to follow along, he wasn't able to participate in skill checks or combat. We basically had him following along with the pack-chocobo.

The travellers head into the imposing mushroom forest as it starts to rain. They make excellent progress, but at one point find themselves in the company of four large Poison Toads! The creatures leap to the attack, surprising poor Adelric and managing to poison Nisonoya as well! Adelric revises his stance and the combat starts to turn in their favour. Although the front-line fighters make good progress against the Toads, it's Yamahaki's crossbow that finishes most of them off.

 By noon they reach the centre of this mysterious forest that, by all rights, shouldn't even fit inside the swamp. They come across a clearing with a massive toadstool mansion in the centre, and knock on the door. A young witch on a broomstick flies out of an upper window and asks if they've come to be turned into frogs as well! They negotiate, discovering that the witch has turned people into frogs because they have been taking too much rag-weed from the swamp and damaging the ecosystem. In the end they reach a compromise - the villagers can harvest one cartload of rag-weed a month, and the witch will return the townsfolk that have been transformed.

Satisfied with the deal, the travellers return and camp at the mushroom hut they carved the night before.

Since the "mushroom hut" was the result of a Critical Camping Check, I let them have the result of a standard Success on their Camp Check this night without having to roll for it.

The next day they manage the hard slog through the foggy swamp and make it back to Frog Hollow by lunchtime, bringing with them a few villagers they found wandering around having been returned to human form. The brewmaster reluctantly accepts the deal they've brokered, coming up with plans to cultivate the rag-weed in the town and maybe turn Froghollow Ale into a boutique microbrewed product. He also pays them an extra 200 gold each to keep the secret ingredient a secret.

We wrapped the session up there, with the group looking at capturing the dangerous wild beast for the menagerie next time. Adelric and Walker advanced to Level 2, while the other two are most of the way to Level 3.

I did have my Ryuujin, Gerubera, written up and following the party. She's a Green Dragon, but her goal is to see the travellers gain strength through adversity so she doesn't like providing much direct help. I chose the Bénédiction "Elite Enemy", which I would have used on a Poison Toad if they'd ended up fighting the witch. I also would have used it on the mysterious monster that the menagerie wants, if they'd decided to do that quest first. Her Réveil is "Gift of the Dragon" which provides extra food and water, something they haven't needed yet. As it was, I didn't have to intervene at all, so Gerubera remains at a distance.

I wanted to see the travellers dealing with very difficult terrain, and also wanted to make it more than a day trip to the middle of the swamp and back. The magical mushroom forest was a "space within a space" that I used to make the journey a little longer. They only had to travel half-way through the swamp, then half-way through the forest, but because they got a little lost it ended up being a three day round trip.

They actually fared pretty well despite the Topography difficulty on all three days being an 11. It was hard going, and most of the time people lost half their HP from Movement, but they did OK. It might have been a different matter if they'd battled the witch and lost more Health.

Condition and Statuses featured more heavily this time, thanks to the Poison Toads' attacks causing Poison 6. Since several characters happened to roll a low Condition that day, I was actually able to see a Status effect sticking. Nisonoya was affected by the poison straight away, and remained poisoned the next day partly because his penalised Strength made it harder for him to roll a good Condition. Adelric was hit with Poison 6 while he had Condition 14 so it had no immediate effect, but only rolled Condition 4 the next day - so apparently it took a while to set in.

I wasn't sure how the game would fare, dealing with small side-quests from town hubs, considering it's built around three-day journeys between towns. I wasn't sure how to deal with Town Threats like the witch as part of a standard journey, unless the standard Ryuutama setup means I'd make them go through the Swamp and have them run into the witch then. However, doing a short day-trip there and back makes the journey about the same distance as a regular journey, so it all worked out pretty well.

I'm looking forward to the next session, although given the episodic nature of the game it is eminently suitable for picking up and putting down on a whim.

>>> To be continued!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ryuutama: Millane to Frog Hollow

Due to player availability, I ended up starting a three-player game of Ryuutama instead of continuing our Apocalypse World game.

The party's Diary Keeper has posted an account of the journey, so I'm going to focus more on how I prepped and ran the game.

GM Preparation

Ryuutama normally relies on the GM to plan out the journey over about three days, including the weather and encounters. Day 1 will be Rainy Grassland, Day 2 will be Cloudy Hills and an encounter with five Mob Beasts, and so on. This allows the difficulty of the journey to be tailored to the capability of the party.

However, I like the idea of giving players a choice over their route, so I made up a simple hex map. Unlike my solo game though, it was designed with a Level 1 party in mind rather than being entirely randomly generated. To get from their starting town of Millane to their destination of Frog Hollow, they'd mostly have to pass over Grassland. I put in an area of Hills and Woods, but the main feature was a Swamp. The group would have the choice of a three-day journey if they went through the Swamp, or a four-day journey to go around it.

Also in the spirit of hexcrawl, I noted down the weather forecast for a few days. Regardless of where they are each day, there will be specific weather in effect for that day. I started out with Rain, then Cloudy, then Fog, then any additional days would be Clear. I set it up this way so on the second day, if they kept to the Grasslands, they'd have to ford a swollen stream. If they took to the more difficult Hills it would be drier.

Lastly, I made up a simple random encounter table. Each day there's a 1 in 4 chance of an encounter. Since I wasn't sure how much of a challenge I could throw at the party, I picked one Level 1 or 2 monster for each type of terrain, along with a random number encountered.


Making character is pretty quick and easy, but equipping them takes somewhat longer! I prefer to go with the full equipment options rather than the simplified "Picnic" rules, so everyone spent a while shopping for gear and supplies.

  • James plays Karin, a Healer/Technical character on a family pilgrimage to Frog Hollow. Her personal item is a pink scarf given to her by her mother before she set off.
  • +Michael plays Yamahaki, a Minstrel/Attack character. His personal item is a silver flute that he can't play, a gift from his father.
  • +Sasha plays Nisonoya, a Hunter/Technical character who wants to see Frog Hollow's zoo to catalogue many different creatures. His personal item is a necklace.

I made them take one bad attribute on their free starting weapon, so Karin has a gross great-axe (covered in gore), Yamahaki an uncool crossbow (with fluffy dice), and Nisonoya a gross wakiszashi (the handle is covered in sticky goo from a slime monster). Karin managed to buy a suit of gross uncool smelly light armour, although I forgot to ask what that was like. Nisonoya ended up with a pair of smelly climbing shoes. Apart from that, they managed to buy most things without having to take any negative tags to reduce the cost. They even pitched in to buy the Party Kit, including a pack animal (chocobo).

I meant to make up a Ryuujin, but was so busy assisting with character creation that I forgot! It's definitely a Green Ryuujin, but is obviously following the characters at a safe distance this time around. I don't think the Ryuujin can do much to affect the first journey anyway, unless it spends Life Points, since they usually don't gain slots to put powers in until Level 2.

Town Creation

I established a few details about their destination - the village of Frog Hollow (pop. 300) was founded where a swamp meets grasslands. I then wrote down the other town questions on scraps of paper and each of the players chose one to fill in. I then fleshed out the remaining answers.

The players decided that Frog Hollow featured a zoo, a church, and a brewery. The local specialty is Froghollow Ale, made with a secret ingredient. The town is threatened by a witch in the swamp who's been turning people into frogs.

I concluded that it was an Aristocracy, ruled by a small local noble family. The town is permeated by the dark bluish-black of swamp mud, but highlighted by the friendly golden glow of lanterns. The funky smell of yeast and rotting vegetables lies over the village like a blanket.

Day 1: Grassland / Rain

The characters are all inhabitants of Millane, a town with cobbled streets, windmills, and white plastered houses with terracotta roofs, surrounded by lush farms, fields, and boundless grasslands. For various reasons, they have come together to travel to the village of Frog Hollow which is about four days away.

Shortly after they set off, it began to rain. Yamahaki had a fairly low Condition roll for the day, but as I experienced with my solo game Condition didn't really become a factor throughout the journey. They succeeded on all their Travel rolls (some only just), and even tracked and defeated a poor solitary Mob Beast.

Day 2: Hills / Cloudy

Since the plains were still sodden from the rain yesterday, the group decided to head up into the hills. They found their way okay, although Karin got a bit worn out from travelling. Although they avoided the flooded river on the grasslands, I put a landslide hazard in their path. Luckily they spotted signs that the hillside was unstable, and hung back just as the earth gave way and slid across the path! Using rope and climbing gear, they managed to cross over the landslide and continue safely on their way.

Day 3: Grassland / Fog

From the hillside, the group could see out across the swamp. Frog Hollow lay on the other side; they could get there by evening if they went straight through the swamp, but they opted to take the longer route around through the grassland. Nisonoya had been catching small game as they travelled, so they were in no danger of running out of food.

The grassland was swathed in fog, but even so Nisonoya found the tracks of a Mob Beast pack. They opted to track them down, and defeated them all. Karin sustained a minor injury, and also rolled the only Fumble of the journey while attacking with her great-axe. Nisonoya managed to harvest the Mob Beasts' fangs. I made him roll once for the group rather than once per beast, and as he rolled exceptionally well I granted him one High-Quality Fang as well.

Day 4: Grassland / Clear

As we were running low on session time, we skimmed over Day 4. Movement and Direction checks were both made, but I didn't check for an encounter. They arrived safely at Frog Hollow as the sun was setting.


We didn't have time to do any roleplaying at their destination, or do much end of session bookwork. Everybody gained 210 XP for the journey, so they'll level up before we start the next session.

I found it to be an enjoyable game, lighthearted and with laughs and cheers around the table. It made a stark contrast to our recent tense first session of Apocalypse World the week before!

I would like to see Condition come into play, so I may need to plan some more difficult journeys and do a bit more reading up on monsters so I can offer a bit more of a challenge. I have a feeling that the next session might involve dealing with the swamp witch, but although it's difficult terrain it's really only a day-trip. If I throw in some complicating factors, though, it might form a decent adventure.

Before the next session, I'll also write up my Ryuujin properly. Since I've overseen one journey, it'll go to Level 2 and actually get some slots for powers.

>>> The Swamp Witch