This is going to be both a writeup of our first Yellow King RPG scenario (played over two sessions) and some notes on prepping for the game. I wanted to use the ad lib skills I’d picked up while running Blades in the more structured GUMSHOE environment. Spoilers for the game follow; players please do not read.
Most of my hobby time in 2010 went to playing Living Forgotten Realms. I had a really good time doing it, for the most part. As I recall I’d been playing since early 2009; I know I started playing in Boston and it turned into our main gaming outlet once we moved down to the Baltimore area.
In 2010, I decided to try and play 50 LFR games over the course of the year, and further decided to blog them all in one of those occasional fits of organization I have. This was a wildly unambitious goal, as it turned out. I wound up playing or GMing 120 games. I’m pretty sure I pushed through one or two of those in December so that I could hit a round number.
I never did hit epic tier with Reed. I can’t imagine how I would dig up enough players to do that even informally now; kind of a pity. Man, he was a great character, though. I used to start out adventures by hiring a bunch of townsfolk to cheer him and Faral on their way out of town.
Anyhow! For some reason I did all that blogging on a Tumblr, and it occurred to me today that some day that’ll go away, so I spent an hour or so importing them back to WordPress and fixing up the tags. A few of the links will be broken unless I get around to fixing them eventually, but the whole insane year is now captured under the lfr2010 tag. Call it a very very small slice of gaming history.
Boy, either my cell phone camera was really terrible or Tumblr killed the resolution on my photos. Sorry about that.
The other night five of us got together with the intention of playing a 2-3 session game of Beyond the Wall. Our experience with D&D variants ranged from lots to little; we’ve just finished a lengthy Blades in the Dark campaign, so we’re used to gaming with each other. Here’s how the first session went.
The point of all this isn’t that I did amazing prep. I wanted to push myself towards sandbox style improvised play and using index cards (total: 115) was an excellent way to keep myself from getting too wordy. I offer my illegible handwriting in hopes that other GMs with crappy handwriting will find the example useful.
Here’s the list of posts:
- The postmortem and closing thoughts
- All the character and crew sheets (plus index cards for my notes on them)
- The characters’ long term projects
- Factions in both Doskvol and Skovland
- Session write-ups on the wiki
- Session notes on index cards
- Two props: a newspaper and a letter
- The scribbled down prep notes for the sessions
Almost forgot! I handed the players this letter towards the beginning of the last session. “The individual of whom we spoke” was Etty’s demon-possessed mom. Before Setarra possessed her and before she got engaged to Lord Scurlock (the aged child), she was stuck in Ironhook Prison as a result of the fall of their noble house.
And our final chunk of index cards! For some reason I shuffled progress clocks drawn for heists in with the plots and setup stack; no harm done but I’d keep them with the session notes next time.
Most of the cards from the stack of plots I actually used are in fact clocks. Among the others are examples of my favorite prep technique; I used the random score generator table to generate three or four scores, which fit tidily on one card, and then mostly let actual play determine which one was interesting.
Amusingly enough, the more detailed notes I drew up almost never got used. Ulf Ironborn’s lair notes were the only ones that turned out to be relevant, and that was a total GM force — Ulf beat up their bartender pal Rigney for being a racist jerk. It’s not like I didn’t know how the Hexhounds would react to that.
Let’s do the factions tonight as well, I’m on a roll.
These are split into two chunks for ease of reading: the Doskvol factions and the Skovland factions. For some reason I didn’t make a card for the Imperials. Those last couple of faction clocks both would have lived on the Imperials card, though.
I was not as diligent at establishing proper faction clocks as I might have been, and I mostly slacked on putting together new ones when the old ones were completed. They were still insanely handy. I mentioned this a few posts ago, but literally any game with NPC factions would benefit from faction clocks and the mechanic would graft cleanly onto just about anything.
The Skovland factions are a bit cleaner since I had a better idea of what I was doing. Still pretty simple, though! Here’s the faction, here’s some background, a couple of key NPCs, and evocative adjectives to remind me what the factions and NPCs are like.
All the stuff the player characters wanted to get done between sessions. Make Owl-Human was probably the worst project they ever embarked upon, but it turned out useful in the end. Here’re the ones they completed:
And here’s the projects they didn’t quite wrap up. Figuring out Strangford’s plans and creating the Order of the Feather were both started in our very final downtime at the end of the last session. I admire their perseverance.
By the by, there was a wiki for this campaign and I maintained it pretty well for about five sessions; if you want actual quality write-ups for the early days, go there.
I’m not even going to try and make sense of these. And, um, sorry about the handwriting. You’ll note that early on I just filled up index cards; later on I got smart and started dating them. If/when I do this again, I’m going to date every single index card I use — some of the threat clocks in particular are totally mysterious to me and I’d love to know which sessions they’re associated with.
Sometimes I meticulously recorded downtime actions. Sometimes I did not.
One might think that the Hexhounds never talked about anything but moral transgressions and Dock’s love life; that would be untrue. I just found those kinds of quotes really funny so I wrote them down more often.