Author Topic: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower  (Read 3428 times)

Superdave

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Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« on: March 22, 2012, 02:38:09 AM »
Huzzah! This is my first post on this forum, so hello to all. I've only recently been introduced to DW, and I have to say...me like! I'm actually playing in Josh Mannon's game Within the Devil's Reach as Elmore the Mage. But I missed the last game so today I will post an actual play report of my buddy Glenn's campaign Secret's and Lies. This campaign follows the exploits of Valdemaar the Vain (my character, a bard) and Red Creek Rufus (Iserith's character, a ranger) and his loyal coon hound, Belvedere.

The campaign revolves around the intrigue and machinations of three factions that vie for control behind the scenes: the Fey, the Fiends, and the Humans, who want nothing to do with either. We started as two penniless vagabonds in a a local watering hole. Valdemaar needed coin so he went onstage to read from a songbook written in a forgotten tongue. I tried to Fascinate the crowd, but rolled rather poorly. It turns out the songbook was in Elven, and those that were allied with the Fey applauded but those that were not threw rotten fruit at me. So while talking with the locals and gathering information about the town, we found out that there was a wizard named Malgore who lived in a green tower just outside town. Rumor had it that he was quite wealthy and didn't spend much time in his tower. So of course we decided it would be a good idea to loot it.

Valdemaar and Rufus were scouting out the tower when we heard some arcane words being spoken and saw a green doorway appear in the tower where before there was none. From it emerged Malgore the wizard, who was leaving his tower on some important mision. He didn't notice us, but Valdemaar managed to remember the arcane password he used to make the dooorway appear. After making a Bardic Lore roll and repeating the mystic word, we entered the tower.

Inside we saw that there was a circular staircase which wound up the inside of the tower. There was also a door on the bottom floor that had Belvedere's undivided attention. Of course, it was the kitchen and the broken down coon hound and his master, Rufus, decided to search it for food. Little did they know Malgore had left behind a few servants...and not the human kind. There was an animated scarecrow in the kitchen washing dishes and minding his own business. But it scared Belvedere and Rufus decided to take a shot at it with his bow. He lit his arrow in the fireplace next to him and sent a Called Shot Volley right to the scarecrow's head. It burst into flames and fell face first into the sink, the flames put out.

Meanwhile, Valdemaar snuck upstairs and found the wizards bedchamber. There was an animated broom the kept sweeping up and some unseen servant kept trying to take my cloak to hang it up and trying to take off my boots. I had to Defy Danger to get past it to make it up to the third floor. Rufus followed me after looting the silverware and pantry, but failed to Defy Danger on the animated broom and had to grab it and break it in half. He kept the shaft of the broom, claiming it to be a mystic cudgel (which he later lost in a crooked dice game).

On the third floor we found an extensive library and a desk surrounded by arcane dust in an intricate pattern. After searching around taking some rare books of the shelf and making Discern Realities and Spout Lore rolls, we realized that we were not alone. There was a little imp on one of the bookshelves observing us. He told us he served Malgore but wanted his freedom from the wizard and gave Valdemaar a bone ring, which he claimed would allow the bard to learn wizard spells(I had told the GM that I wanted to Multiclass as a wizard). The imp said the ring would allow him to find Valdemaar no matter where he was and that he would teach the bard the arcane arts...but at what price?

We then proceeded up to the roof where we found a beautiful garden, a telescope and a large birdcage with a large black raven inside. A failed Discern Realities roll meant that the raven, who was the wizard's familiar, gave us a frightening stare so we decided discretion as the better part of valor and made our way down the stairs and leave the tower before the wizard returned. Our buzz was wearing off by then anyways...

After some time at the tavern and a Carouse roll, we were told that Malgore the wizard was on the lookout for some thieves that dared break into his tower. Needless to say, we felt we had worn out our welcome in this jerkwater burg and decided to lay low in the forest. Little did we know there were some mischievous little fey and a racist druid in that forest...but that is a tale for another time.

Excerpt from the Saga of Valdemaar the Vain

iserith

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 02:50:50 AM »
I asked you kindly not to bring up the broom handle. Too soon. Too soon.

SecretsLies

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 04:32:52 AM »
Greetings!

I am the DM for Secrets and Lies. I will not add to the story side for now, but add a little behind the scenes adventure creation so that I might get some positive feedback.

Secrets and Lies was a campaign idea I have had for years. When explained to my players that I wanted an organic and story driven game, we decided to opt out of D&D (which we are all very familiar with) and try DW. It was an open enough architecture for me to feel like I could accomplish what I wanted to do. I had planned on trying to completely hack 4e, but we thought it would be too much work to get what I wanted.

I am very happy with the story creation mechanics and I think we all feel we get maximum benefit without tons of prep. No stat blocks!

Agenda was right on, but I added my own principles to keep me on track and true to the vision I had of the campaign. They include:

High Fantasy - Fantastic and Wondrous World
Secrets - Discovery of the hidden (for both GM and players)
Lies - Discovery of "truths" being false
Complicated behind the scenes dynamics
Rich NPCs with mysterious motives/allegiances
Multitudes of organizations; secret societies, fraternities, orders and companies
Unpredictable magic with hidden natures
Grey morals and lots of hard choices.
Mentors, masters, and apprentices - All knowledge has a price
All skills, abilities, powers, etc. will be gained and learned in play

What I didn't want was what I don't like in D&D, where players choose their powers and items from menus that are motivated by power creep and not by in game organic growth. DW has done a good job so far of meeting my principles.

Malgore's Tower was written before I really understood DW. It really only had one front and that was the imp in the library. His motivations were very complicated and there was actually a lot more going on than the players knew. Depending on the PCs interaction with him, things could have turned out any number of ways. It was unwritten and the PCs "wrote" the conclusion. I liked this very much and it started a chain of events that may continue for quite some time hehehe

So my slight gripe. I don't like Discern Realities. I think it is too powerful for a game that revolves around Secrets and Lies. Because of this I will be vague. I don't want a die roll deciding what could be better played out in roleplaying. Interactions with NPCs, if done right, should make the move unneeded imho.

I also almost feel like some of the moves are made to fill space/time for someone that maybe doesn't find interest in playing things out. Examples Carouse and Undertake a Perilous Journey. They just seem awkward. Maybe I just need to modify to fit my wants, or just not use them when I would rather just roleplay through them. Anyone else have good feedback for these concerns?

Otherwise I think we are very satisfied and look forward to future refinements.

-Glenn

mease19

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 11:02:06 AM »
I think you've hit on something important there.  Moves tend to start with a fictional trigger, involve the mechanics, and then return to the fiction.  The tricksy part is that they don't necessarily return to the exact same point in the fiction - sometimes they skip forward a bit.  

In AW, this allows you to smoothly skip over the intimate details of a sex scene, for example, and cut to chase - what's the fallout?  For DW, moves like Make a Perilous Journey or Carouse can be used to quickly sum up what would either be "yup, still walking" or "So, I take yet another sip of my ale" but they don't have to.  

When they say, "Lets go live it up at the tavern" then you can ask "how?" and then follow up with more questions.  As long as they get what's coming to them according to the dice, you can interpolate as much fiction as you want.

Consider also Microfronts.  They're one technique for prepping and inserting self-contained interstitial scenes into your game.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 11:23:48 AM by mease19 »

noofy

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 11:05:24 AM »
Thanks Lads! Great AP, I love it, made me chuckle. I'm an instant fan of Belvedere!

Glenn, your principles sound fine to me, and I would simply use the prompts in Discern Realities and Carouse and Undertake a Perilous Journey to provide the 'tip of the iceberg' in terms of your questioning. Remember, you only have to engage with a move if you feel like the narration warrants it. To do it, do it right?

So if the PC's Carouse, (they return triumphant and throw a big party), don't roll the dice just yet. Dig a little deeper. So what do you do? Where do you hold the party? At the Inn, the wizard's guild? Who is there? Who didn't come? Why not? Roleplay that shit out, throw in a vision of dooms to come or advance a grim portent...

Then when the players make the roll, you have all these wonderful hooks to interpret the results with.  Or you could do it the other way round, make the roll and then roleplay out each choice from the list.

Think of moves as 'guideposts' that focus your fiction, not straightjackets that gloss over potential roleplay. The dice don't make decisions for you, you choose when to use them and they narrow your focus: They force you to interpret the fiction via the lens you have chosen. Fiction first, always.

I really really like your Malgore's tower front and subsequent adventure! I'm looking forward to your groups future AP's in Secrets and Lies. Awesome.

iserith

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2012, 12:42:10 PM »
I'm an instant fan of Belvedere!

Yeah, well, let's see if you'd be such a big fan if he stole the ham you rightfully stole in the first place.

SecretsLies

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2012, 05:31:43 PM »
So let's get into a little of the nitty gritty and see your feedback.

The set-up, pc's have decided that someone they met is a person of interest and engaged with conversation eventually leading to a Discern Realities. I know from my front that this person is in disguise and works for the thieves guild.

So in response to the question of what here is not what it appears, instead of spilling the beans "Oh, they are in disguise, probably working for a secret organization" I would prefer hints and teases. "They said they were from this city, but their accent just doesn't jibe" or "You notice a perfume that isn't from around these parts but it reminds you of your time in <some city>" Teases and dangling hooks that could be followed up with more interaction if the players bite. Maybe nothing more from that specific interaction, but maybe the PCs should follow, or ask around. I think the move should lead to more story building and less being an end all to the current situation. In my form of story building I want answers formed slowly over time, I want a sense of mystery. I also like red herrings, and being told one must tell the truth and the whole truth seems to kill the sense of mystery and wonder. Or maybe I am doing it right by keeping the info limited to what would increase the interest of the story without divulging too much.

Carouse. So the players roll a 7-9 and opt to avoid difficulties because they have other plans. So they pick some information. Well first of all I want PCs to always meet NPCs and gain information regardless of the roll. Even on a 6, you're going to meet a NPC (the sheriff that throws you in the town jail for being drunk). And who is useful, if the story is unwritten every NPC is potentially useful, how do I know? So, yes, it is an interesting move, but I feel limiting and narrow. Do I really need a move to throw a party scene? Can't I have the conversation without the roll?

More later, back to work, and thanks for your indulgence

Glenn

SecretsLies

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2012, 05:36:07 PM »
oops mistake...

Carouse. So the players roll a 7-9 and opt to avoid difficulties because they have other plans. So they don't get anything "useful". Well first of all I want PCs to always meet NPCs and gain information regardless of the roll. Even on a 6, you're going to meet a NPC (the sheriff that throws you in the town jail for being drunk). And who is useful, if the story is unwritten every NPC is potentially useful, how do I know? So, yes, it is an interesting move, but I feel limiting and narrow. Do I really need a move to throw a party scene? Can't I have the conversation without the roll?

iserith

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2012, 05:42:02 PM »
So in response to the question of what here is not what it appears, instead of spilling the beans "Oh, they are in disguise, probably working for a secret organization" I would prefer hints and teases. "They said they were from this city, but their accent just doesn't jibe" or "You notice a perfume that isn't from around these parts but it reminds you of your time in <some city>" Teases and dangling hooks that could be followed up with more interaction if the players bite. Maybe nothing more from that specific interaction, but maybe the PCs should follow, or ask around. I think the move should lead to more story building and less being an end all to the current situation. In my form of story building I want answers formed slowly over time, I want a sense of mystery. I also like red herrings, and being told one must tell the truth and the whole truth seems to kill the sense of mystery and wonder. Or maybe I am doing it right by keeping the info limited to what would increase the interest of the story without divulging too much.

Simple answer as I understand it is that you don't make the move until you've "closely studied the person or situation" (not sure if that's exact quote). The DM makes that call as to when the trigger is satisfied and hopefully it's after the teases and hints and everything else in the scene. It's not an I-win button.

As well, not knowing someone is lying isn't a story. Knowing someone is lying and then doing something about it, is. So you shouldn't be afraid to give up the truth when the player has earned it. They took a risk to make the roll.

Carouse. So the players roll a 7-9 and opt to avoid difficulties because they have other plans. So they pick some information. Well first of all I want PCs to always meet NPCs and gain information regardless of the roll. Even on a 6, you're going to meet a NPC (the sheriff that throws you in the town jail for being drunk). And who is useful, if the story is unwritten every NPC is potentially useful, how do I know? So, yes, it is an interesting move, but I feel limiting and narrow. Do I really need a move to throw a party scene? Can't I have the conversation without the roll?

If you're not "returning triumphant" and "throwing a big party," it's not a Carouse move. Every trip to the tavern isn't necessarily a Carouse. If the PCs opt to pick up new information after you've already given them the information, I think it's fair to tell them you've already given them that and ask if they want something more (and have them be specific). If they indicate they don't need anymore information, they can pick another thing from the list.

Anarchangel

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Re: Actual Play Report - Malgore's Tower
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2012, 06:26:20 AM »
First of all, bear in mind that you are changing the rules of the game by modifying the GMs agenda, so it's likely that some of the other rules won't work for you.

With that in mind...

The set-up, pc's have decided that someone they met is a person of interest and engaged with conversation eventually leading to a Discern Realities. I know from my front that this person is in disguise and works for the thieves guild.

So in response to the question of what here is not what it appears, instead of spilling the beans "Oh, they are in disguise, probably working for a secret organization" I would prefer hints and teases. "They said they were from this city, but their accent just doesn't jibe" or "You notice a perfume that isn't from around these parts but it reminds you of your time in <some city>" Teases and dangling hooks that could be followed up with more interaction if the players bite.

This is exactly how you should play it with the unmodified rules. The answers you give to the questions to the Discern Realities and Spout Lore questions have to follow from the fiction, so you shouldn't just tell them everything about the situation just because they rolled a 10+. There has to be a way for them to discern that information in the fiction. That said, DW is not a mystery game. If you're looking to make it so, you might want to check out Monster of the Week for inspiration for new moves.