First actual play report!
Normal Thursday RPG group. Wasn’t prepared to run our normal Savage Worlds campaign; we were going to do board games but I offered a one shot. We were down a player.
Our group consisted of Terrance, the human wizard from Bumpton, a small old market town; Gorm Foekiller, the halfling barbarian who was exiled from his tribe for killing the tribe’s unicorn; and Flowerblossom, a human druid from the Purple Forests of Soren Carr, whose tell was that his purple hair came with him whenever he changed shape.
I posited the premise to the group: You were in a Temple, and there was a Portal in the Temple. Nine characters went in, but Bad Things Happened, and only three of you made it to the Portal. On the other side, was a Bastion.
To Gorm, I posed the following questions: Whose Temple was it and why did you go there? Where was the Temple? Gorm answered that the Temple was to Feng’Narr, the God of Death, deep within the abandoned Capital City of the Ancient Empire of the Golem People.
To Flowerblossom, I posed the questions: Where is the Bastion? Who holds it? Who do they hold it against? Flowerbossom answered that the Bastion was the Purgatorial Wall, holding back the Angels, and was a fell castle held by Fallen Angels.
To Terrance, I asked: What was the Bad Thing that Happened, and whose fault was it? It was the Bard’s – he dropped his lute when sneaking past some REALLY Ugly Dudes, and Gorm lept through the Portal, and Terrance followed.
With that, we were off.
The group had just landed on the far side of the Portal. They were in a cathedral-like room (from an aesthetic standpoint). On the far side was a large door and two Golem-crafted turrets. There was a chasm in the middle, and a shattered bridge. Terrance and Gorm tried to avoid the turrets, while Flowerblossom turned into a bird and flew between the turrets, causing them to attack each other, blowing them both up.
During the fight, Terrance lost his staff down the chasm. Flowerblossom flew around like a badass and got the staff back. Gorm attempted to cross the chasm with rope, while Terrance decided the Portal was likely a place of power and just recreated the bridge. The extra cost was it was unbelievably noisy, and the magic reverberated off the Portal, drawing the attention of others.
Opening the door across the bridge, the players discovered a room with a rotating circular floor trap and a statue of a fallen angel. The “trap” was meant only to provide terrain trickiness during a fight with the statue, but the players got Gorm and Terrance across it and then Flowerblossom just flew over it. Goddamn druids. The fallen angel statue (twenty feet tall) came to life as they got to the other side. Gorm was a pimp, but got beaten up and lost his non-dominant fingers in the process. Terrance did what wizards do in a fight when trying to conserve their spells. Flowerblossom returned from bird form to human in mid-flight, thwacking the statue with his shillelagh. Then, our halfling barbarian rolled under the stone-spear-tentacle-wings (going for an evil-Tyrael vibe) and stabbed the statue in the leg, finally ending the magic while getting Shaky as the tentacle-wings slammed his head into the floor.
Past the statue room, the players encountered a large cathedral room hundreds of feet wide and filled with massive columns rising into the air, with claw marks rending holes in the ceiling. The players explored, finding a dais wherein sound was amplified. Flowerblossom tried to call to birds in the area for help from the dais, Discerning the Reality that the sound amplification nature of the dais plus bird chirps would carry for miles. Terrance tried to Detect Magic, but was overwhelmed by the divine power of the columns (used to corrupt divine goodness), and screamed in pain while standing on the dais, echoing loudly and attracting attention.
Immediately, goblins with batwings started crashing through the cathedral windows. They attacked en masse. Gorm and Flowerblossom the Panther got to work. Wave after wave of goblin fell to the pair. Terrance wanted to use a ritual to knock everybody down. We “discussed,” and came to the conclusion that he could seal the room if he got to the wall. Terrance took off while Flowerblossom and Gorm continued to murderhobo. Two goblins crashed in front of Terrance and through their spears at them. He wanted to dodge under the spears and hit them with Magic Missiles. A natural 12 on DD, a 10 on Casting, and an 8 on 2d4 damage. Terrance threw his bag of books and staff into the air, rolled under the spears, filled each goblin’s face with a handful of Magic Missile, caught his gear and made it to the wall. He sealed the room, white alabaster magic covering the walls, while Gorm and Flowerbossom finished off the Goblins.
They decided to rest while the room was sealed. Flowerblossom in his infinite WIS pointed out he would take watch since he didn’t need to eat. He rolled his dice, however, and realized he did need to sleep. While the party was passed out, a giant gargoyle twenty feet long with an even greater wingspan ripped open a hole in the roof, fell to the ground, and shouted “WHO IS IN MY HOME?!”
Preparation: While I’ve read the rules a dozen times, I hadn’t thought I was going to run, so that was intense. I’ll be running a session in June for which I am prepared, and I have cards for druid forms and all that jazz. Running it by the seat of my pants was exhausting, but fun. Having not played traditional fantasy in two-plus years, I felt mildly overwhelmed.
Ritual: Potent, but fun. I remembered that the GM could only limit, not prohibit, but I forgot that the wizard doesn’t even need to roll. Such a great power. The fact that “place of power” isn’t defined is both a boon and a bane. I love that it’s not quantified (so that there’s some wiggle room), but when the PCs are in a Bastion of Fallen Angels in their eternal war with the forces of Heaven, it kinda makes the whole place a “place of power.” So that was fudgy. I told Terrance that in the cathedral chamber it was a place of power, but the nature of the room/columns and his lack of understanding of divine magic, it would corrupt whatever he tried to do.
Creativity of GM: I feel like somebody who does a 5K every weekend and feels “fit” suddenly deciding to try out CrossFit. I got my ass handed to me. That thing was exhausting.
Creativity of Players: Terrance pointed out that DW requires a far greater contribution (creatively) on the players’ part. I agree. We all had a blast (I think?), but it definitely delegates some responsibility for campaign creation to the players, which can be taxing. Nirvana Players might be slightly off-put by this game.
Druid Form: Man, DW really allows you to build a class around this power. When Flowerblossom chose a second form, a panther, and I gave him a move “Strike Quickly,” his player was concerned that it might not be fun for me if he kept choosing the same creature, especially since he had an auto-hit. I told him not to worry about it, partly because I was creatively exhausted, so if he wanted it I was fine with it, and mostly because, as I pointed out to him, a 6- on his shapeshift roll was carte blanche for me to really fuck with him.
Waves of Creatures: I remembered this halfway through the goblin fight, that tracking individual HP is less important. Will make greater use of that in the future. A great mechanic.
Had a blast, can’t wait to do it again.
With Wil Horsley, Michael Smith, and Philip Clarke.