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Thread: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

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    Protomolecule Host Sentinel Ark's Avatar
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    Wink 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Hi!

    So, the first story arc of my Blue Rose campaign is almost over, and I wanted to thank Green Ronin for converting Blue Rose from True 20. I also want to thank the community for their questions, comments, and for dealing with me.

    My friends and I are all fairly new to RPG’s including myself as a first-time DM/GM/Narrator. Our Session 0 started on July 2017, and we’ve been playing about once a month thereafter for a total of 7 sessions so far (includes Session 0 and even a solo session to bring one player back into the group). My players started at Lv1 and will be Lv4 by the time the first story arc is over - averaging about 1 level per 2 sessions.

    This first story arc is a combination of Bones & Flowers, and Shadows of Tanglewood. Stories and encounters were modified and content was added to tie the characters and their motivations into the story. In short, the Sovereign’s Finest failed Shadows of Tanglewood and a separate group of Sovereign’s Finest failed Bones & Flowers. The players are dealing with the aftermath balancing between investigating past events, and putting out fires like missing children and a lurking vampire.*

    I’m having lots of fun, and every month is a learning experience in becoming a better Narrator. Every month feels like I’m making hand-crafting presents for my friends for Christmas. My players are having a blast, and they look forward to seeing their characters grow, change, and discover.

    When the first story arc is over (expected to be by next Sunday or next month), I’ll share with everyone the PC’s at Lv4.

    Lastly, I want to leave you with a few links showing everyone the house rules and some of the homebrew content I made for my group. I made these rules and content for 3 reasons (in order of importance): (1) to accommodate a greater variety of character concepts, (2) to enhance fun, (3) as a critique on Blue Rose and the AGE system. I hope you enjoy reading it and find if encouraging (inspirational? motivating?) to really make your adventures different and unique.

    House Rules
    Action Reference Sheet
    *Rules last updated: April 9, 2018.

    Thank you!

    *I wanted to see how a group of 4 Lv1’s would handle a Thrall Vampire with a small troop of Walking Dead. It took them 3 combat encounters followed by 1 social encounter to “defeat” the vampire.
    Last edited by Sentinel Ark; 04-16-2018 at 03:14 AM. Reason: Revised House Rules based on FAGE Companion and player feedback

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    Protomolecule Host Baroness Nerak's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Hey, good to hear about your campaign going well. I am a new GM myself, two sessions under my belt.

    -Do you have any APs up or collected anywhere? audio or written?

    -Level four in seven sessions is a quite different rate of leveling than I had planned. Did you feel this was a good progression in retrospect? I am expecting level 2, maybe 3, in that time. I was thinking one per arc. I may well be being overly harsh, I have not done level based progression in...some time, honestly, and that was with XP.

    -I looked over the HRs, curious about two things:

    -The change to All-Out attack , it says lose 1d4 not 1 defense. Do you think 1 is all that bad unbalanced a trade off?

    -I am curious of the trade off for having Corruption as a stat. It seemed an odd choice, just curious.

    Glad your game is going well! I hope for similar luck.
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle)
    "It was a dark dark night, even for infravision. I stepped out of my office cave and lit some twigs in my teeth as I looked in the darkness. That was when this dame showed up with tusks for miles, and legs twice as long. 'You Gnaag?' She said. 'Only when I don't get paid' I say. This girl was 22 stone of green trouble. And I was going to walk right into it." -Orc Noir

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    Protomolecule Host Sentinel Ark's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Your campaign seems to be going well based on your player's histories and journals (I've read some but not all - the perspectives are interesting though). Though, personally, I'm more curious to your thoughts on the story and system from a Narrator's point of view.

    - -

    If you've read my previous edit, I mentioned that I didn't have any written ot recorded APs. Sorry. I forgot that I write a journal/diary/history of what happened after each session. So, I do have one but I'm nervous about sharing it because I feel that my creative writing skills is terrible (partly my motivation to work hard and improve as Narrator). Also, I'm not sure if enough people on the forum are interested in my session-to-session madness that is my campaign. I'm far more at home with technical reports and research papers. I am happy to discuss my campaign over Skype (or similar) too.

    - -

    Keep in mind the rate of play. I only play once a month at 3-5 hours per session while you play once a week. So while they're leveling up once per 2 sessions, that's also once per 2 months. I plan on slowing the rate after Lv5 to 3 sessions/level, then 4 sessions/level after Lv10, and 5 sessions/level after Lv15. At 1 session a month, it would take 5.5 years (without a single missed session) to get to Lv20. For reference, it took Critical Role about 5 years to get to Lv20 with the last three years at one session per week.

    Given that, I feel that the leveling rate of 1 per 2 sessions and 1 session per month is pretty good. I feel that Lv1-4 are the beginner levels - used to teach players how to play, get used to roleplaying their characters, and solidify their character concept.

    If I played once a week, I would probably halve, third, or quarter the leveling rate.

    - -

    I updated the House Rules today because I had forgotten about the feedback my players gave to my custom Action Reference Sheets.

    Regarding All-Out Attack (AOA), I feel that the trade off of -1 Defense for +1 Damage isn't worth it because Health scales far faster than Defense.

    I wanted AOA to feel substantial and risky.
    - My first iteration was to make the Defense penalty to Damage bonus ratio 1:2.
    - ‎My second iteration allowed players to choose their Defense penalty (up to -3) and gain a damage bonus equal to twice the penalty (up to +6), but I found that allowing players to decide on their bonus slowed the game down more than I'd like, so...
    - ‎My third iteration used a 1d3 for the Defense penalty, but calculation half of a 1d6 was just annoying, so...
    - ‎My fourth iteration just used a 1d4.

    Also, remember that whatever actions your players have, your NPCs have too. An army of Walking Dead using AOA is very intimidating and it's not like losing 1 Defense from 8 Defense is a significant loss to them.

    - -

    If you embrace Corruption, it becomes a primary stat and is used in place of any other ability for arcana (pg... something. I'm sure you can find it).

    The struggle between Light and Shadow is, to me, one of the things that defines Blue Rose. Setting Corruption as a primary ability reminds the players of that.

    Also, I did it mainly to allow players to build character concepts of a person redeeming themselves from Shadow or are already on a path to Shadow. Or for players to build a person who is morally grey.

    Edit: Revised greatly to provide a better and more thorough answer.

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    Protomolecule Host Baroness Nerak's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    My own story? Or the Overarching game?

    Mechanically I am still sorting out. The stunts are interesting we will see how fluid it becomes.It seems good so far; I am mildly worried about HP exceeding damage, but no sign in actual play so far.

    --

    Is cool, no pressure on you to share. I am just trying to see what other GMs are doing, and I enjoy reading about games as a rule.

    --

    Makes sense. Mine is actually Fortnightly; I am running four games, each meets every other week. This is the Blue Rose one. (the other are Geist the Sin-Eaters (eight years next month) Changeling: The Lost (almost four years) and Castle Falkestein (about six months).

    --

    I see, thanks for explaining the change on AOA. I'll probably leave it as is for now but may change it in the future. The setting different levels certainly SOUNDS good but I can absolutely see that slowing the game down significantly.

    --
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle)
    "It was a dark dark night, even for infravision. I stepped out of my office cave and lit some twigs in my teeth as I looked in the darkness. That was when this dame showed up with tusks for miles, and legs twice as long. 'You Gnaag?' She said. 'Only when I don't get paid' I say. This girl was 22 stone of green trouble. And I was going to walk right into it." -Orc Noir

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    Protomolecule Host Sentinel Ark's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Both story and game. I'm interested to see how other groups play BRAGE, and their thoughts from playing it.

    My friends and I have specific interests, and I had a specific expectation for Blue Rose and the AGE system. Both of which greatly influenced my thoughts on the game and my house rules / homebrew.

    - -

    Even at Lv3, my friends said to me they feel like their characters do not have enough Health. This is partly because, of the few times they got hit, I rolled really well and took a sizable chunk of their Health in one hit.
    - One of the PCs would have reached 0 Health had he not used Cure; and
    - ‎One of the NPCs would have gotten OHKO'd had she not worn armor.

    I've less problems with Health in BRAGE than FAGE (so far) because there are subtle changes between the two systems to make Health more valuable:
    - PCs and NPCs can use the Coup the Grace action (pg 21, I think) to instantly kill a dying or unconscious character. No roll necessary unless it is a ranged attack.
    - ‎There are only 3 ways to be revived: Imbue Unlife arcanum, or a Master Sacred Warrior or Healer.
    - ‎At Lv3 Fatigue, if you are under half Health, you go unconscious.
    - ‎At Lv4 Fatigue, you drop to 0 Health and are dying.
    - ‎Healing overall is more limited. A person can only benefit from the Cure arcanum once per breather, and Healing Elixirs are fairly weak (but pretty good when combined with a short rest). Some of my players were shocked to see that they didn't reach full Health after a short/long rest. I noted to them that the scaling of max Health is faster than the short/long rest Health recovery so it'll only get worse.

    So, to me, being at half Health is a serious condition and should not be taken lightly especially when you're surrounded by enemies. I use that same line of thinking for my NPCs and villains too unless they have the Morale focus, then I wait until they're at quarter health.

    Personally, I'm more having trouble dealing with their Defense. Three out of 4 of my players have a Defense of 15+ (one at 17) since Lv1. One of them is expected to go from 15 to 17 at Lv4 (Martial Arts + 1 Dex) and another from 17 to 20 (Spirit Dancer + Light Shield). Meanwhile, the most visible character (wearing bright orange vestments) has the least Defense of 11 and least max Health.

    --

    Sorry, I thought you said your game was weekly. I must've gotten confused with the weekly updates.

    If it's fortnightly, then I would make it 4 sessions per level until they reach Lv5. However, it ultimately depends on you and your group on how you'd like to pace the story/game.

    - -

    The Blue Rose True 20 book has more variations on attacks, and they allow the player to choose their bonus/penalties. That's where I got the idea of choosing your Defense penalty for AOA then the damage is based off of the penalty. However, I feel like just choosing the action is choice enough and left the penalties/bonuses be decided by a 1d4.

    I'm contemplating adding those attack variations (e.g. Defensive Strike for +Def but -Atk) in as baseline to all players, but (for now) I'm going to test them by having them appear on certain items (I don't want to undermine the Warrior's Expert Strike too much).

    For example, I'm plan on giving to one of my players an item to allow him to gain a +1d4 to attack rolls, but he suffers that much in Defense (like AOA). However, he can consume his Pinpoint Attack (PPA conditions still apply) to negate the Defense penalty. I like these kind of choices (should I deal more damage at the risk of eating more or should I deal less damage and live another round?). Choosing between a +1 or +2 bonus is too granular for my taste.

    On the same item, he can exchange his 1d6 PPA damage for 1 point of Strength damage. It's almost like giving your allies +1 AR against that enemy, and you can grapple him more easily. Add a few more points of Strength damage and the tide of battle can easily shift in the player's favor. So, now he has another level of choice - PPA for 1d6 damage, 1d4 to attack rolls, or 1 Str damage?

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    Protomolecule Host Sentinel Ark's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    These final sessions of the first story arc took longer than I anticipated due to scheduling and sickness.

    Our first story arc is over, and so I provide to the community a link which will lead you to a short summary of each member of the party, and how they grew from levels 1 to 4. Do note that these summaries reflect some of the house rules Iím using (see OP).

    Any questions or comments, let me know!

    Now to work on writing the next story arc...

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    Protomolecule Host Baroness Nerak's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Definitely giving this a look in a day or two when recovered from the weekend.
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle)
    "It was a dark dark night, even for infravision. I stepped out of my office cave and lit some twigs in my teeth as I looked in the darkness. That was when this dame showed up with tusks for miles, and legs twice as long. 'You Gnaag?' She said. 'Only when I don't get paid' I say. This girl was 22 stone of green trouble. And I was going to walk right into it." -Orc Noir

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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Very interesting group! A Vata'an and three Rhyden is a very different group than I am running, and it is interesting to see how they are set up. Are there stronger physical descriptions or pictures of them?

    How did you handle the logistics of the Rhyden's communication? Just never really roll and have them talk? Strictly from a roleplaying perspective, I would be interested in their typical rooming arrangement, if any.

    What was your basis for designing the magic items, FAGE? I've kinda wondered about handling that myself.

    Did the group find itself missing having a warrior?

    Thanks for posting it I like seeing other's games.
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle)
    "It was a dark dark night, even for infravision. I stepped out of my office cave and lit some twigs in my teeth as I looked in the darkness. That was when this dame showed up with tusks for miles, and legs twice as long. 'You Gnaag?' She said. 'Only when I don't get paid' I say. This girl was 22 stone of green trouble. And I was going to walk right into it." -Orc Noir

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    Protomolecule Host Sentinel Ark's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Yea, my group is much more interested in the natural and fantastical side of things. Everybody has at least 5 arcana which forces me to develop a very firm understanding of arcana in Blue Rose and to simplify it where I can. For example, everyone has the Second Sight arcanum and I am not rolling a secret test for each of them every time an NPC uses arcana so I do a Take 8. The same goes for Psychic Shield, Take 8 and if it fails to overcome, you still get a normal resistance test.

    - -

    Physical Descriptions and Pictures

    Lutra has her favorite rock tucked under her armpit. Other than that, nope.

    But I do imagine Aang as being a mash-up of a light-hearted Sephiroth from Final Fantasy wearing Aang’s clothing from the The Last Airbender, Varien as a Great Ape from Dragonball, and Val as the bunny from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (except brown with a white underside).

    For Lutra, I just watch every otter video I can find. Besides sea and river otters, most of them look alike.

    - -

    Communication


    Because we have three Rhydan, I had to adjust how Psychic Contact works on the table mainly for ease of use. I was only expecting there to be one Rhydan but the group seemed to like the benefits and challenges they bring.

    In Session 1, everybody had to establish mental contact with each other through rolls. In this way, I am teaching them how Psychic Contact works in conjunction with Second Sight and Psychic Shield.

    Starting at Session 2, all party members are considered to always be in mental contact with each other and all dialogue are broadcast to the entire party unless they specifically state that they're talking to another PC or that they're breaking mental contact with a PC. We try our best not to meta-game.

    To all other targets of dialogue, Rhydan must follow Psychic Contact as written unless they’ve established a positive relationship (not to be confused with the Relationship mechanic).

    How each of the players dealt with the mental contact limitation so far is different, and I love it:

    Lutra, with her weak grasp of the Aldin language, doesn't bother much with mentally contacting people outside the group. As a player, she pays more attention to (and reacts to) my narration and descriptions than my dialogue. The only times she’ll establish mental contact are to stop people from doing things she does not approve of (e.g. kidnapping children).

    Val is wary of establishing mental contact with strangers because she does not want to be vulnerable to Psychic arcana. So, she'll be a backseat driver and tell Aang or Varien what to say or ask next. She’s basically the nagging angel on your shoulder, and I love it when Aang or Varien do not listen to her.

    Varien, as a player, is fairly good with words, but the dice usually roll against him when trying to establish mental contact. With every failure, he resorts to charades and crude sign language which is another Communication test (of which also tends to fail). This is why he spent his advancements on Communication at Lv2 and Lv4.

    As a Narrator, I often underestimate how awesome it is to be able to communicate over large distances with little notice. Even better, one can send images/impressions. So, what is to stop a PC from sending a series of images to their comrades as they see things happening? I would prefer my players to describe the scene through their character's eyes/filter, but this just means their adversaries can do the same.

    Also, since PCs can whisper amongst themselves in private, I do the same for adversaries if they have the Psychic Contact arcanum or are working under someone who knows it. This has happened on several occasions:
    PC: Why is the he suddenly quiet or doing X?
    Me: Do you have the Mind Reading arcanum?
    PC: No.
    Me: Then you don’t know, unless you can think of another way to sense what is going on. (Hinting a Perception or Second Sight test)
    PC: But I don’t want to get corrupted. (Referring to the fact that reading minds without consent is potentially corrupting, and hint flies over their heads).
    Me: All magic comes with a price. It’s your turn, what do you do?

    - -

    Magic Items

    The base design came from the FAC.

    The items given to my players at Lv4 (Bracer, Cloak, Eye, and Staff) are unique in that I designed them to augment their character concepts, and I wanted to make it extra special by allowing them to choose some of the powers.

    I don’t intend on having other magic items with that level of customization or be made specifically for them unless they want to dedicate a whole side quest or something for it.

    Also, those magic items were made to help smooth out a few strengths, weaknesses, and holes in character design and concepts. For example, Varien has a high damage output compared to the party, so his item allows him to trade the damage from Pinpoint Attack for something with more utility but still combat-focused.

    Another example, Lutra has absurd Defense (17@L1) and adding the Spirit Dancer specialization makes it more absurd (19@L4 and 21@L8). So, I gave her a cloak that acts as light armor to negate her Sidestep (net -1 Defense), but she gets an armor rating of 3. Also, as an advocate of nature, it would be awesome if Lutra could communicate with nature in some way - hence the choice between Animal Speech and Wood Speech (both from FAC).

    - -

    Missing Warrior

    Varien was actually a Warrior in Session 0 with planned specialization for Spirit Dancer. So, having 2 Spirit Dancers in the party would’ve been very interesting. He was going for the capoeira-type combatant.

    After looking into specializations more, I showed him Martial Artist, and he took a liking to it and immediately switched to that and the Expert class before Session 1 started.

    He’s the closest thing the group has to a Warrior given his abilities, albeit slightly more magical, and that is good enough for the group.
    Last edited by Sentinel Ark; 04-19-2018 at 05:55 AM. Reason: Grammar and clarifications

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    Protomolecule Host Baroness Nerak's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Story Arc almost over: A Summary, A Thanks to the Community+Green Ronin, and My House Rules.

    Yeah, I was guessing it was unrolled past a point. That makes the most sense given the cast, and probably what I would do.

    We have called it smart phoning, since we can "call" and "Send a picture" though we have only just gotten one (Tanith) with the spell and even then only as of last session. I mostly run modern games, though, so I am used to the communication over distances, though the hands free reception not a thing factor is nice. I bet I will see more people pick the Arcana up, though. But yeah, the way you are doing it sounds really good.

    It is good the game works fine without a particular class. A feature of the flexibility I suppose, at least after a few levels.

    Thanks for the commentary, I'll be happy to see any updates as they appear.
    Running: Blue Rose AGE (Cat's Cradle)
    "It was a dark dark night, even for infravision. I stepped out of my office cave and lit some twigs in my teeth as I looked in the darkness. That was when this dame showed up with tusks for miles, and legs twice as long. 'You Gnaag?' She said. 'Only when I don't get paid' I say. This girl was 22 stone of green trouble. And I was going to walk right into it." -Orc Noir

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