The Gratitude of Princes, Part 1: Jalizar, March 2510

Posted: 6 August 2012 in Tryouts
Tags: ,

My latest experiment is a Savage Worlds PBEM game in the Beasts & Barbarians setting, using THW’s Larger Than Life as the story engine. This worked well in a solo game, and I want to see how it survives interaction with players. (I will use the B&B scenario generator at some point, but not today.) I’m uncertain how often this thread will get updated, it depends on how often the players email me.

Ochirtanai and Bjorn find themselves in Jalizar, City of Thieves, for divers reasons. In Ochirtanai’s case, this is most likely raw curiousity; in Bjorn’s, he has probably arrived by ship, been signed off at the end of the voyage, and is looking for new employment and adventure.

Ochirtanai is a Valk, and Bjorn a Northlander, so neither one is especially popular, even in the rough tavern where they find themselves. It’s noticeable that a number of patrons prefer to stand rather than sit with them, and they gravitate to the same table. The size of both Bjorn and his greataxe has so far precluded any objections beyond muttering.

Ochirtanai has persuaded the barman to open a tab for them, and each of them – knowing themselves to be completely devoid of money, and expecting the other to pay – is unconcerned about how this bill will be settled. Ochirtanai’s loyal if unprepossessing steed, Altanerdene, is sitting contentedly in the stables attached to the tavern.

Jalizar has clearly seen better days. The people are on the low side of average height, tanned, with mostly brown hair and dark eyes, dressed in tunics and sandals, with the occasional cloak in evidence. Ochirtanai is feeling quietly smug at having got through the gates into the city, which is more than the mighty Dhaar managed with the largest Valk horde ever known; admittedly, she isn’t trying to burn it and pillage it, but let’s not quibble about details.

I arbitrarily assign the PCs an effective Rep of 4, and roll Rep + 1d6 to determine what their mission will be (LTL table p. 28). I get a total of 7, which tells me their mission will be to retrieve an object. Rolling for the Big Bad using the tables on LTL p. 29, I quickly determine that he is a civilised native, equal in Rep to the PCs, and his intent is to steal a weapon. I decide that his Rep being equal means he is the same rank as the PCs, namely Novice, and that the weapon is the item the PCs must retrieve. I review the Relics on B&B pp. 115-119 and decide the Imp’s Mandible is a suitable object, which prompts me to introduce a Tricarnian Priest-Prince as the PCs’ patron.

Despite the lack of fermented mare’s milk and mead, Bjorn and Ochirtanai are settling in to a drinking competition, when their attention is attracted by the sudden silence. Looking around, they see this is caused by the arrival of a regal figure in very expensive clothing, a robe of green silk, with a well-made sword at his side. Both adventurers can tell by its condition that it sees little action, and is more a badge of status. The figure catches their attention as he is bald, and his skin is black – not the “black” of the Ivory Savannah tribes, who are really more of a dark brown, but the jet black of onyx. His lip has the curl of one habitually wearing a cruel sneer, and he is followed by a pair of slaves.

He does not ask whether he can join the pair, but simply sits. The slaves stand respectfully a pace behind him. He waves for service, and turns up his nose at the tavern’s finest wine, but sighs and sips at it distastefully anyway, displaying a large, expensive ring on the middle finger of his right hand.

“I am Prince Baaltasar,” he announces, “and as you may have guessed I am from Tricarnia. I require assistance from discreet, yet skilled, individuals, and my divinations led me to you, in this tavern. I have need of an object, whose whereabouts are currently unclear to me, and I will pay well for it.”

“I’m listening,” says Ochirtanai, so far unimpressed. Bjorn knows little of Tricarnian Princes, other than that they are reputed to be fearsome sorcerors and cruel slavemasters, and regards him with some suspicion.

Next, I roll on the table on LTL p. 30; 1d6 + PC Rep (4) + number of clues found to date (0) = 9, so the PCs must get information from someone in a story advancing scene.

“Have you heard of the Mandible of Xarigas? No? Well, I am not surprised – a certain type and level of education are required. It is a jawbone, of less than normal size, with unusual sharp teeth. It would be of great assistance to me in my studies, and I am prepared to offer you 500 Moons each to deliver it to me intact, and without drawing attention to me – my rivals would stop at nothing to embarrass me in this regard, which is why I must act in secret and have need of intermediaries. You should begin by speaking to Makis, who sells curiousities and antiquities. One of my slaves will direct you to his shop if you wish.”

Bjorn and Ochirtanai look at each other. Ochirtanai’s curiousity bump is definitely engaged.

  1. Andy, what’s THW’s Larger Than Life?

    • andyslack says:

      Two Hour Wargames (THW) specialises in tabletop wargame/RPG hybrids intended for solo or co-operative play. Larger Than Life is the one aimed at recreating pulp adventures.

      I spent a lot of time looking for viable solo gaming rules, and THW’s are the best ones I’ve found. This also makes them good for zero-prep GMing. There are a couple of free rules sets on their website – one for modern military and one for no-magic fantasy – and a range of others from single combat to company operations, with titles for historical, fantasy, SF, survival horror, and other genres. Highly recommended.

  2. David says:

    Great ideas!

  3. Sean says:

    Looks like a good use of LTL. I just got it and am looking to do Pulp Horror with it, but it looks like it can be used as a story generator for any system. Right now WHAA falls a little flat in terms of story for me.

  4. brassjester says:

    Have you tried using Rory’s Story Cubes to generate ideas?

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