Thursday, March 17, 2016

Don't drop it!

Originally posted on 2009.10.24

One of the sweetest and coolest tricks of my 7th sleeve is a scene, where heroes must act (be it fight, jump, swing, whatever) and do swashuckling style deeds holding something that must not be dropped.

The list is really big if you think about it - baby, gunpowder keg over a water / sewage, bottle of the best wine ever, treasure chest, The flower, a bottle of nitrogliceryne...

Out of experience I can assure you, that even the toughest of the teams needs to push to their limits to handle the basic adversary. And you can imagine the actions they perform!

Take a Montaigne swordsman, who can't use his dagger, because he's carrying a baby. And he needs to jump over the chasm or climb a scaffolding. Luckily his teammate is already on the roof so the baby can be thrown up... What? The partner needs to defend himself? So now he's hot to choose, whether he fends off the enemies, or throws himself to the edge of the roof to grab the crying bundle.

Oh! You think it's easy to balance on the roof beams, carrying a chest full of diamonds? Especially, when brutes are closing fast from front and behind? Or when you need to throw up a bottle of 1480' Don-whateverignion, punch'em in the face and grab the bottle back? Or jumping back and forth Vodaccian balconies, while carrying The flower she asked you to bring her?

Certainly brigns a LOT of fun!

One of my groups remembers well a variant of this trick -
They infiltrate San Cristobal Inquisition headquarters. Dressed as Inquisitors, they march through gardens imitating patrols. They manage "Mission Impossible" feats of agility to get into Inquisition's storages in need for The ultimate weapon that will help them to save the blablabla (you know the story). The only thing they know is that the thing they're looking for is known as "Needle of the Sun" and was requisitioned from the Castilian nobleman's house.
They search through museum's attick and storages, digging through priceless treasures and artifacts. They penetrate stacks of weapons without a clue for what they're after.
And suddenly, their gaze falls upon a large table, with an obelisk stuck right in the middle - a sundial, taken from the Castilian's holding. "The needle of the Sun" is the obelisk. 2 meters high stone, chopped into a pike. The only way to use it, is to blast it from some large cannon or machine! And while you could get your hands on a balista or a cannon of a proper size, carrying the thing out of Inquisition's HQ will be quite a feat!

The look on their faces - PRICELESS!

Well - the heroes are no weaklings! They grabbed it, lowered it on the ropes, carried through the gardens, sneaked with that through the patrol lines with ladies working out the distractions...

Seriously, this is one you should try! Have fun!

This means war! Well - battle at least!

Originally posted 2009.11.04

Do you ever experience the case, when the group works the palaces for a while and situation get a bit slowish for swashbuckling adventure? They go too far with philosophy and the action cools down, while you are in the middle of trying to heat it up? Or the characters are in the midst of negotiations, and suddenly it turns out the proper skills reach amazing 2s? While the whole swashbuckling skill portfolio adds up to a bull's eye's score. Or it's just another sesion on the court and you want to "throw in the granade" without having to build up the place again after the action?

Ok - you've just reached the point, where you can plug in one of my favorite scenarios - Pillow fight!

What is it?

As usual, the courts are full of bored noblemen, who try to kill the time with amusements. It works out the best in Montaigne, but you can pull it out in Vodacce, Castile, Avalon or even Vendel, if you put enough flavour.

So - somebody gets an idea, to stage a battle with aristocrats for once doing the actual fighting. Not that they don't feel like they're fighting all the wars, but you probably know the paticipating numbers of the real battlefields, don't ya?
Obviously, anyone geting hurt would be an insult and scandal, so the weapons are pillows, kisses and witty ripostes.

Actually you can work out the type of the battle and it's rules freely. Who fights whom, is it "king of the hill" type of a battle, or a team against team (e.g. hero and a unit of brutes fight similar squad). Get through all sort of gladiator fights - you'll get sound ideas. One of my later ones - I've made a Montaignish reconstruction of the Thea-real battle. It was the assault of Montaigne nobleman on the El Moro, defended by the dames and ladies ("After all, everyone in Montaigne knows that Castilians fight like women!" At least, until the Eisen-born lady had a word to say in that matter ;) ).

You can shape the scene to your will as well. It might be a constructed model of battlefield, it might be garden labirynth, a meadow during a picnic, regular arena during national parade. Anything will do.

So, you've got the place, it's time to choose weapons and armours!

Each of participants gets a shiny, fluffy pillow. Than he gets to choose his HitPoints. Yea - you read it right. You need to check if someone died in battle, and who lived to walk in glory.
I use hats. The characters get to pick a covering of their scalp. As long as they have it on their heads, they're "alive" and fit to fight.
And that's the first trick you get - woe and misery to those who choose a fitting bonnet with a ribbon to hold it on! Shame and boo on him! You want to show how tough are you? Than put on this huge, wobbly, hardly holding on, high closhe! Or a swan-shaped one with lots of ribbons! Or a horseheaded construction placed on top of your head.
Remember - shame on those, who want to play safe (and are barely visible from the tribunes! )!

When all are ready, after they take the ribbons, scarfs, garders, handkerchiefs and whatever other parts of the attire you can imagine from the ladies (and/or gents) of their hearts... When the trumpets are done with announcing all of the noble participants... They enter the scene! They gaze upon the battlefield, look their nemesis fearlessly in the eyes and discretly fix the powder on their faces, to cover the sweat...

Make the moment as big as it can be! They're ready to sacrifice everything. For fame! For glory!! For victory!!!

Then tha battle begins! With the thunders of applause, background full of screams of heartbroken dames, and calls for medic, when the emotions are too high and the ladies faint!
You are responsible for the surrounding! Don't make it funny! It's a battle! The truest of the battles most of the participants will ever get!

The mechanics you attach to that is up to you. You can storytell, use the dice, get full rules work on it. Whatever suits you. As long as the hat is on, you're fighting!

And for the end, I've left the sweetest and juiciest part of the trick - the pillow fight is not a regular clash. It always carries court consequences. How many of them, what kind - it's all up to you. I'll give you some ideas, that I used:

- Reputation - the one to win the battle, is a God for a while. Well - Achilles at least! He seats next to the host, everyone wants to have a selfie portrait with him, ladies leave their husbands just to stand next to him (or her...). He rocks!

- Romance - "If you want to prove to me, win this battle as a feat!" You want to prove your love? Than win this battle! You remember "A knight's tale"? Than you know what I'm talking.
And what if the hero defeats everyone to win his love, discrediting some powerfull nobles on the way? Or messing up some set up machinations and bets, that powerfull grey eminences have planned for that battle? UPS is the least to say...

- Political machinations - "My dear prince... Let's make a deal. If your champion wins over mine, I'll hand you Barcino with the land around it. What say you?" When talks like that happen in the lobbies, a moment prior the battle a butler with a note comes to hero, and gives full instructions who is to be defeated and compromised. The character "just" needs to work out the details in the full light of the audience! Oh! And pray some dandy doesn't have too much of a motivation mentioned above under the "Romance" section! Hopefully, he doesn't have more drama too!

- Feuds - "I don't like him. He doesn't like me. We enter this ground and everyone will witness who will kick the other's butt!"
Once upon a time, when I did the squad pillow fight, based on the "King of the hill" rules, where each hero could field a brute squad. If he pulled it out of the hat obviously.
Mr. "Moraly impared" Pirate was approached by a bunch of seasoned soldiers and asked for a favour - one of the contestants was a Sergant, they reaaally didn't like. The soldiers oathed to serve under Raul for that battle, under one condition - they manouver to "fight" the Sarge during the battle. And they did get that chance. They fought like hell broke! The crowd couldn't see too well in the cloud of dust, that rose around that particular combat, but the Sarge thought bravely against that men! He thought long, to be more precise... Especially, that the soldiers were holding his hat on him, so he wouldn't fall down to quickly. And all that in the spotlights and applause for the fair contest that was played under the carefull eye of an audience.
And there was more interesting groups to mention on that day - bunch of peasants who agreed to fight for the food thy got as a reward, leaving all the glory to the hero. Or on the other end of a scale, a group of officers who wanted to prove their worth under the carefull eye of their general. I can tell you, that was one of the fiercest battles I ever pulled off, even if it had "joy", "peacefull" and "safe" stamped all over it!

What's more - even during the battle itself, scheming and politics was more important than the skill itself! In the end, two player's heroes that were left standing, were pretending to fight while negotiationg the outcome and share of the prize!

Pure honey on the sweetness scale!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cultural differences

I'm following posts about new places we'll visit on Thea, and my mind is grinding all the ideas I can throw against my players. We'll have so many cultures mixing around. That is a great potential for conflict!

One of the ideas came up, when I remembered something from my personal history.
You see - I have an international projects in my background. And when I started studying it, I was wandering what can they teach me about working with fellow students from other continents? We've known each other, partied together. We were great friends.

Than it turned out, that someone was from culture not used to taking orders from a women (guess who was our manager?). Someone was working nights only, cause he was having fun during the days (you can imagine attendance). Some people were dead serious about deadlines, and for some it was... Just guidelines. Our studies depended on us being able to work together as a team. On week 3 of the project I was so glad we don't have guns, cause we'd shoot each other on every meeting.

Back to 7th Sea.

Everyone has a gun.
A blade. A ship full of canons. Some of them have their own armadas.

And now imagine, they slightly misunderstand their intentions.

Imagine two "diplomats" (representatives, chieftains, bosses - whatever) trying to work out at least non agression pact on the first contact. Both of them need to keep their nerves, men steady and hands away from weapons...

Just for the sake of example:

Rokuganis, when handing a gift expect it to be given thrice. So they can turn it down twice, and let the offerer a chance to prove his intentions are clear and the gift is ment to be offered. Any other protocole is considered dishonorable - either someone was not honest about intention of giving, or they changed their mind and found the person to be gifted is not worthy the gift.

Where I come from, we're serious about the gifts as well. It's ok to turn down the gift (for multiply reasons), but expecting me to give a gift and than ask for taking it, is offensive.

So imagine a meeting of two diplomats O(grish) and R(okugani) - skipping all the translation issues I could bring up:

O: Please accept this masterwork of our culture as a sign of our mutual friendship, good will and true intentions...
R: Oh, that is so wonderfull, that it should be gifted to a person of higher standing. I'm humbled with your offer...
O: Ok.
R: What? You mean I'm not good enough to be offered this?
O: You said you are not the person to be adressed, so I take your word to be true!
R: You sugest I could be lying?

Aaaah... And they do have guns, swords and reason. And they did want to make peace... It's just those little cultural differences, that can turn a sunny afternoon into blood-red evening.

So imagine how many cultural, religious and personal behaviours you can turn into a game situation if you want to. Court protocoles, bargaining, throwing challenges, religious services. They are all part of the world, they can be easly overstepped, and often people are very serious about them.

So why not using them?!

What are your ideas? Any concepts you'd like share? I'd love to read about them!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Quo vadis Thea?

You probably've seen the 16th project update by J.Wick. You didn't? Well - there's something you need to catch up quickly!

The thing is, there's new land coming in: "The Land of Gold anf Fire". And that's another one, which makes me dizzy with the scope of the project and number of new places in plan.

It's like so far we've been looking at Thea through magnifying glass, and now we're just standing up to look at the big picture!

And honestly, since I've learned about "The New World", I was like - "Wut? What's wrong with the old Thea?! I've had so much fun over there, why going somewhere else? JW don't dilute! Just take what was great and make it even better!"

But than I took some sleep. Did some thinking (yea - it happens, even to ogres. It's a slow process but nevertheless...). Eventually I figured something else - I've been on the old Thea. I mean everywhere. I've sneaked upon the bears in Ussuria (not a good idea!), challenged Vestens for a fair duel (not a good idea again), called Vodaccian a liar (Well... You can see where it's going!) and even told a Montaigne tailor, that it's not a cloth that makes a man (Actually... Never mind the comment - you can imagine.).

So what JW is doing now, seems like making a new place I want to go. A lot of new places I want to go!

With all the old nations squeezed into only two books, the horizon seems like a great new direction!

After all, if you look at our yard, so many good stories were told outside of the old continent. "Zorro" happens in California, "Pirates of the Carrabean" are - duh! In Carrabean! And in case you didn't notice, Africa is so much stuck with piracy, that it still can't shake off the pirates of their shores!
So it seems like there's a lot of potential outside of old Thea, even before we start mentioning all the cool names from history books like: Cortez, Magellan, William Adams (check wikipedia if he doesn't ring the bell).

So after a second thought, I'm all thumbs up about the idea. I wander though, what are your opinions - are you excited to go outside, or you're planning to stay on the continent?

Dla tych co po polskiemu

Back on 7th Sea!

Strretch yarr backs, ya paunchy, onion-eyed strumpets!

Tha Wicked Admirral is rraisin' a fleet again, and I'm not gonna grro fat when it's all happenin'!

Ya hearrd tha worrd?! He got some locos payin' forr dat, so dat is not some fancy, nurrturred noodle mouthed montaignac idea! Dat' is forreal'! Dat' is adventurr we'rr talkin' and I'm gonna be parrt of dat'!
So get yarr saucy buttocks sweatin' and rready ship forr sailin'!

Wherr is my carrpenta'?!

What'd'ya mean dat' blog-ship's no good?! Dat' beauty sailed the seas for yearrs! Stuck for yearrs now ya say? Ya see those lazy sheep-grrowin' ex-pirrates down therr? Let me show ya how the cato'o'nine can spurr'eirr fawnin' crook-patted rridges! They'll dig herr out in no time, so ya get yarr hands on worrk and check the hold, if it can carry all dat gold I'm gonna plundarr! Pay whoevarr' ya need, kick tha rrest wherr tha sun don' shine' but get me swayin' by the sunset of tha thirrd day! On tha dawn of fifth day, Thea will look to the horrizon and they'll see us, bannerrs wavin' and underr full sails! Go! Make it happen!

I can feel the wind of change is comin' and I'm gonna set da sail to catch da verry firrst brreeze of it!