Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Antagonist Relations Actual Play Podcast 1 - GM Commentary

First, go listen to Antagonist Relations Podcast - Episode 14 - The Family That Yanks Together as that is the session that I'll be commenting on. A Red and Pleasant Land is abbreviated as aR&PL below. Also, spoilers for the podcast, though I won't post any spoilers for the players about upcoming sessions.

Comments are in roughly chronological order as I listen to the podcast for the umpteenth time...

  • Opening music is the song "Go Ask Alice" from the fantastic Legendary Pink Dots album Asylum.
  • For the record, here are the layers of the system
    • Dungeon World, the D&D inspired hack of Apocalypse World is the foundation.
    • The more particular rule set is World of Dungeons 1979. 
      • World of Dungeons is a complete short roleplaying game that answers the question “If Dungeon World was the latest version of a classic roleplaying game, what would the original look like?”
      • It's a 3pg PDF with all the rules you need where the 1st page is two character sheets, and the 3rd page is half filled by a list of names and also has a quarter page illustration.
      • I got it in a Bundle of Holding bundle, but I'm not sure where it's currently available. Should I ever find out, I'll update this. Looks like you can get it here for free.
    • Character options and jobs are taken from Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer which has quickly stolen my heart and become my go to drop in pick up game campaign setting (more about this in future blog posts...)
    • The setting is mostly A Red and Pleasant Land with a sprinkling of Planarch Codex and an unavoidable amount of my own imagination and some inspiration from comics I've been reading recently (more on that below).
  • Mea culpa, I got the Hit Dice (HD) slightly wrong for World of Dungeons 1979 and left off + CON.
    • PCs should have rolled 2 HD for their level plus HD equal to their CON modifier plus 1 additional for having rested in a comfortable place.
    • So a PC with +1 CON would roll 2+1+1 for 4 HD and kept the best two results.
  • Tables I rolled randomly on... Duplicate listings indicate multiple rolls. All from aR&PL unless otherwise indicated.
    • Adventure Hook
    • Events
    • Job - Who is the Patron or Target? from Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer
    • Instant Garden Landmarks
    • Instant Forest & Garden Complications
    • Animals
    • Animals
    • Fees & Taxes Demanded by Members of the Pale House (I wish more of the tables were titled like this, like the "Idiotic Voivodja Filibuster Conversation Openers" below...)
    • Idiotic Voivodja Filibuster Conversation Openers
    • Objects
    • Instant Interior Rooms
    • Instant Interior Rooms
    • Perplexities in the Interior (Common)
  • Listening to the players discuss directions reminded me that I should have drawn a really schizophrenic series of maps. Seriously, the Dungeon World Principle: Draw Maps, Leave Blanks is a great tool for GMing any game.
  • Children in Wells, one of the main sources of purchasable goods in Voivodja, are one of my favorite concepts from aR&PL, though the Svezdana and Svezdan, the children who appear here had ventured out of their well and ended up hiding by the fountain.
  • Man, I wish I had written down the children's instructions better, because I totally dropped the crocodile statue from the directions the second time I repeated them and the players missed that too. I'm so, so, so tempted to have it turn out that they went to the wrong fort because they didn't go past a crocodile statue but I feel like since the rabbit was at the fort they ended up at I can't get away with that.
  • I've been trying to do more voices as I GM lately, but I don't feel like I did well with the Kangaroo and Mantis to give them distinctive voices and listening back there were times that I couldn't tell quite which I meant to have talking at points.
  • The argument about what direction, clockwise or counter-clockwise, the PCs needed to go around the second crooked tree fills me with joy each time I listen. It reminds me that I need to keep pushing my players to be more specific in their narrative of PC actions.
  • I forgot to roll d100 to determine the GP being assessed in the tax for the Fees & Taxes Demanded by Members of the Pale House but it didn't really matter as none of the PCs had any money left after buying starting equipment.
  • If you can't tell from the players trying to remember what the children told them about the Pale Knight and Pale Pawns, none of the players bothered to take any notes.
  • The Moth the PCs encounter by the tackle box outside the goblin infested fort is completely inspired by the Butterfly from the very excellent and highly recommended graphic novel Pretty Deadly. Seriously, do yourself a giant favor and find a copy to read.
The friendly tear drinking Moth...
  • The Moth mannerism and voice is probably the best NPC characterization I managed this session.
  • World of Dungeons 1979 has Wizards summon Spirits and Demons to get spell effects and I really should remember to have those summoned things ask for creepy things the way I had the Moth ask to drink the PC's tears. I'm still puzzling that particular sub-system out as I'm not entirely satisfied with it as is, so expect more to come on that on this very blog!
  • Between the Moth's thirst for tears, the gallery of glass eyes and the door eyes of the Knob Goblins I threw in a lot of ocular creepiness.
  • The schtick of the rabbit flickering between life and death provided a nice macguffin that let me keep the PCs occupied in the basement of the fort for a while and show that it wasn't the rabbit they needed but the orb that the goblins had that was keeping the rabbit in this liminal state. (For those of you playing the Antagonist Relations blogpost drinking game, you can take a shot for my use of liminal there as it definitely falls under the "Zack uses a literary analysis term")
  • The combat reminds me what a delight it is to run for other GMs with the Ginger Giant putting in that brief and colorful description of his PC spitting on her hands and taking up her hammer. I need to figure out a way to poke and prod other players into adding little embellishments like that as they warm my frozen heart.
  • Another thing this combat reminds me that I need to figure out for World of Dungeons 1979 some more soft and hard moves to make for partial successes for ranged attacks.
  • Going forward I'm going to try and figure out a way to encourage players to make more use of their Heritage moves as Ben definitely passed on a good opportunity to attack from nowhere in order to hoard his hold for later.
  •  Little missed opportunities, Cassandra decides not to try and take a goblin hostage, which could have been a fun RP, but instead she missed on a swing and I whip out the inspired phrase "ducks, dodges and weaves and dashes up the stairs" (For those of you playing the Antagonist Relations blogpost drinking game, take a drink for "Zack uses alliteration as though impersonating an Anglo-Saxon poet.")
  • Croquet comes up for the first, but assuredly not the last time, as the aR&PL book has it's own section on Croquet, just before the Dueling code of Voivodja.
  • Listening to the options I give Ben for his partial success the first time they try and yank the goblins down reminds me that I need to start giving three options instead of two on partial successes.
  • As I mentioned on twitter, I did not mean to create goblins that could be described as Knob Goblins...
  • Also incredibly proud of my description of the knob ripped out of the goblin's skull when the players pull the goblin down.

  • I do feel bad that I didn't do a better job explaining during character creation that the Heal skill required multiple purchases of bandages.
  • The Moth definitely has a taste for blood now... (For those of you playing the Antagonist Relations blogpost drinking game, take a drink now as I have used definitely more than twice in a single blog post...)
  • Also, for the record, Cassandra did roll a 10+ near the beginning of the combat, we had just all forgotten about it by the end, following the tradition of players always remembering poor rolls more than average rolls.
  • Sisters of Stonestrike = S.O.S. for the party name does not bode well.
  • The closing music is "I Feel Blood" of Gazelle Twin's Unflesh album which I got on the recommendation of The Quietus and I heartily recommend.
Final Thoughts/Goals
  • Listening to this a half dozen times and re-listening to the Cave Eagles Dungeon World actual play we recorded last summer, I was struck by how useful and informative it is for me to be able to listen to how I GM. Makes me wish I could record more of my sessions, not necessarily to post, but just so I could go back and hear what I did well, what I could improve and what the players did that I liked to try and encourage more of that.
  • Expect a GM Commentary post like this for each Actual Play podcast going forward, as it was much easier to write them off the audio than back when I wrote Reign commentaries and had to take copious notes during the game, sometimes missing things as I tried frantically to keep my google doc updated with notes or relying on very imperfect memory.  
  • Now that they've been let loose from my imagination I expect that the Knob Goblins will show up elsewhere as well.
  • Even with the audio to go back to for commentaries, I do need to continue to work on taking better notes and taking those notes quickly and clearly if only to reference during play. That missing crocodile statue is going to haunt me for a while.
  • I need to go through aR&PL and use post-its to put in better table names for those tables that don't already have great names. "Animals" and "Events" seem so dull and drab and dreary alongside the fantastic and evocative tables like "Fees & Taxes Demanded by Members of the Pale House" and "Idiotic Voivodja Filibuster Conversation Openers" or even "Intercepted Communiqué" or "Perplexities In the Interior (Common)" (Again, for those of you playing the Antagonist Relations blogpost drinking game, take a drink for "Zack uses alliteration as though impersonating an Anglo-Saxon poet.")

1 comment:

  1. It was a GREAT session. I am eager to get back at it as my Hammer hungers for blood!


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