Tag Archives: Strange Tales for Roleplayers

Strange Tales for Roleplayers: The Player Who Didn’t Book the Monsters

crossshotsetup-copyOnce there was this roleplayer. He was a bit of a smart type, who didn’t quite respect the rules, men instead did what he could to keep his character alive. The way he did it would often benefit his fellow players, so usually they would not be too loud about it.

The way he did was typically that he would offer the game master his assistance in moving minis and setting up terrain for combats. When he then was moving the models around, a goblin would be placed just out of range, so its attack failed, or a troll would disappear from the horde of monsters. With a bit of trickery the mini was removed from the table.

“Didn’t I have another orc?” or “Wasn’t my goblin archer just within range?” the GM would wonder, but always the player being charming and convincing told the GM, that the monster was gone or somewhere else. When it wasn’t around miniatures the distraction was being created, it was with the GM’s numbers and calculations the player created confusion. Hit Points and Health Levels were being miscalculated, initiative values displaced and so forth.

His success with manipulating his game masters game went to his head, and he began seeing himself as the superior player of the two. That he would be far better as both a player and a game master than his regular GM was.

To prove this he decided, that he would run one of his GM’s adventures for himself. So one day he stole one of the GM’s adventures and sat down to play it by himself.

What he wasn’t aware of was, that all the monsters, he had cheated his game master for, were still around. Hidden in rooms and cellars, in the deep woods and in dark alleys. Monsters that had never been killed or driven off, but instead lay in wait for a vulnerable adventurer to pass by.

So when he sat down to play, one monster after the other came out of the shadows. The orc he had hidden from GM, the troll he had stolen off the battlefield, the goblins hidden behind an elven regimen was still present in GM’s notes, and now they came rushing out, as the player sat down to play. What should have been a harmless journey to the local dungeon became a nightmare, and he ended up watching his character defeated.

To the surprise of the other players and the game master the next time they played, they found his character’s head on a pike outside the local dungeon.

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These stories are chosen and translated from a Danish Advent Calender (“julekalender”) for roleplayers. They are small, independent stories from the major Advent Calender story arc. In Denmark there is a long running tradition for Advent Calender stories (in the shape of radio plays, tv-series, written stories, candles – but also as blogs with 24 daily blog posts counting down to Christmas) in 24 episodes running from the 1st of December til Christmas on the 24th of December (yes, Danes celebrates Christmas on the 24th).

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Strange Tales for Roleplayers: Haunted Games

R. Kahn

R. Kahn

“No one plays Whispering Vault any longer. It has become a ghost town. Last time I visited it, it was empty. Completely empty. It was actually rather scary. Everywhere we went, we could feel the silence.”

Those were the words, that had led her to study the roleplaying game Whispering Vault in order to find out, what it was, that had happened. Now she is sitting in front of him, and on the table between them lies a recorder.

“That was the last time, Charlotte played with us. She has never been able since”. He stops. Stays a bit with the words, and then continues:

“I have never tried anything like it before. We created our characters and immersed into them, and when we started playing, we could that the setting was just empty landscapes. You could hear the echo of emptiness reverberate between the buildings, where ever we went. The silence wasn’t the worst thing, though. Our game master could still bring the setting fairly well to live, even if there was cobwebs and dust in most of the scenes we played. What was worse, was the Hunter or the Shadow which we at first called him … or it. At first we thought it was one of GM’s NPCs, some deadly villain following us from scene to scene, until the final confrontation at the end, but it always just hiding in the shadows. No matter what scene, we were playing, if you just paused a little, you could sense it. What was worse was, when Charlotte decided, that she would confront it. She starred out towards it in all the scenes, we had, and I could sense her character growing ever colder and more distant. Even our GM sensed it, and it was then, that I realized, that it wasn’t one of GM’s NPCs!

The Shadow was also present, when we were playing interparty scenes, for instance at one time we were sitting and planning out next move in the game and studying our clues. Our game master said, he would go brew some more coffee, while we were talking. That was when I saw it for the first time. Saw it for real. Just on the outskirts of the scene, between the shadows, was there something moving about. It was a living darkness with two empty spaces, where the eyes ought to be, and when I starred in its direction, it felt as if my character was being pulled into the abyss, down through its eyes. They drew everything towards them.”

He stops. His voice has become heavy with emotion, and tears are forming around his eyes.

“That wasn’t even the worst. That came later. It was, when our party had split up. Our GM had decided to split us into two different rooms, so we couldn’t hear what was happening with the others. Lars and Charlotte was in the living room, and the rest of us was in the kitchen, and GM was gamemastering for us, when Lars comes by. He is just going for the loo, he explained, and then went there. Shortly after came the scream. Cold and empty.”

She can see, that he is shivering, while recalling the events. His body trembles involuntarily, as if the scream is still echoing in his mind. She notices that, he has to stop himself from instinctively covering his ears. “She sat in the room screaming, just screaming. We went in there all of us. There was nothing to see. We search the room, but it was first afterwards, that she managed to explain, that she had been immersed into her character even after Lars left the room – and then it had come up of the shadows. It had sucked her character into itself just leaving an empty shell. The rest of the night her character wasn’t present in any of the scenes. It was just an empty shell every time she tried to play her character.”

She is about to stop the recording, when he continues:

“That is why I never play alone. I can feel, that it has followed me. Every time we play, no matter the RPG, I can feel its empty eyes staring at me from the dark. My greatest fear is that, we at one time will split up the party, and when that happens, it will come for my character. I not certain, that even the GM can hold it back.”

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These stories are chosen and translated from a Danish Advent Calender (“julekalender”) for roleplayers. They are small, independent stories from the major Advent Calender story arc. In Denmark there is a long running tradition for Advent Calender stories (in the shape of radio plays, tv-series, written stories, candles – but also as blogs with 24 daily blog posts counting down to Christmas) in 24 episodes running from the 1st of December til Christmas on the 24th of December (yes, Danes celebrates Christmas on the 24th).


Strange Tales for Roleplayers: Time Passes

 

Close view of sand flowing through an hourglass. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.Excerpt from the Forbidden RPGforum

Have you noticed, that it can be difficult to return to events, i.e. a combat, in a roleplaying game, if it has been a few weeks since last game session? The cause is simple: Time passes. Not the time, that has passed from the last time, you and I sat and played at the table, for there has obviously passed the aforementioned weeks, but time also passes in the game.

Only a few knows this, but time actually passes during the combat rounds. It passes extremely slow, so it easily gives a sense of time standing still during a combat round, while you choose a form of attack, rolls dice and establishes the result, men minuscule parts of seconds passes none the less.

Since time passes so extremely slow, no one notices. Not even if it is a combat it takes three or fours hours to play through. However when a few weeks passes, and the party has stood in the midst of a fight with a group of orcs and trolls, then time has passed, just a little bit, but now it has come to a part, where you can sense it. That is why, it is difficult to get back into the situation and immerse into it again. There has occurred a timelag, that requires some game time to catch up with. That is why it is better to end the game with the characters going to bed or in some other way leave them with a situation with a longer duration ahead of them. The synchronization becomes less noticeable.

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These stories are chosen and translated from a Danish Advent Calender (“julekalender”) for roleplayers. They are small, independent stories from the major Advent Calender story arc. In Denmark there is a long running tradition for Advent Calender stories (in the shape of radio plays, tv-series, written stories, candles – but also as blogs with 24 daily blog posts counting down to Christmas) in 24 episodes running from the 1st of December til Christmas on the 24th of December (yes, Danes celebrates Christmas on the 24th).


Strange Tales for Roleplayers: The Story of Lars

roleplaying1Report from a Regional Game Master

The probably most embarrassing episode, that I can think of, is the one with Lars. He played any roleplaying game, that had occult over- or undertones, whether it was about ghosts, vampires or werewolves, about angels or demons, or conjurers and witches. There hardly wasn’t the system, Lars hadn’t tried, and I do believe that he for a period played any and all rpg campaigns about the occult. He even started dabbling with tarot cards, not because he believed in the cards, but because he wanted to immerse deeper into the roleplaying and to create a more authentic experience. Oh, there it is again, the ‘authentic’ experience. That’s the strange thing about roleplaying, it is always fiction, we are working with, yet one is always tempted by unattainable realism. Anyway, where was I? Right, Lars and his tarot cards. Anyway for better or worse, after a while Lars found a new group to play with. One by one he dropped his vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, and began to spend more and more time with the new group.

I started receiving complaints. Not from Lars, but from the groups, he usually played with. Those of them, that he still was playing with, mind you. They said he was unfocused and lethargic. That he didn’t write summaries or immersed properly in the game. As regional game master I was called in to have conversation with Lars and assess, what was happening. So … I had a meeting with him. He took the standard tests, he scored mediocre on rules knowledge, miserably on campaign lore and so forth. There was no doubt, that he was loosing it, and I therefore needed to have a talk with him.

So one afternoon he comes into my office. He is smiling all over his face, and when I asked why, he tells me, he is out gaming tonight. It is his new group, the one he is so happy about – and the one from which I had received no complaints at all nor heard about, well actually I wasn’t even sure, whether or not it was a sanctioned group at all – but happy he was. I therefore asked him as the most natural about the group, and what they were playing, and what he thought about it. He told me, it was a pretty new group, they played freeform, fairly much semi-live, and they usually played every fortnight. He was their game master. It was a rather unusual group, he told me. He had met them at the bookstore, when he was looking for inspiration for his character, and they had begun talking. One thing led to another, and soon he had an invitation for a game night at their place. He had been invited directly into their campaign having had a fantastic game night, not much later they invited him to participate again, but they wanted him in the role as their GM. He had asked for rules and systems, but had been told, that they didn’t use that, and that he should just continue in the style, that he had brought, when he participated the first time. He accepted that, and soon he was their regular game master.

“But what were they playing?” I asked him. At first Lars hesitated. It was freeform, he said, but none the less they had a terminology for most things, and with many of these games, that uses their own terms – as you know every system its own title for game master: Dungeon Master, Storyteller, Animator, Game Master, Referee, Keeper of Lore etc. Here he had the title of Medium, and they called their game nights for seances. The campaign, I was told, was centered around their characters trying to contact various NPC’s, who resided on the Astral plane – it sounded a lot like Dungeons & Dragons Planescape but without factions etc. – and Lars’ assignment was to play the various NPC’s, that the other players wanted to talk to. He loved it, for he could use his tarot cards to create NPC’s more or less spontaneously, and he didn’t have to worry much about plot, but just focus on immersing into the characters and deliver the answers, the players’ characters wanted.

I had not the heart to tell him, what was meant by seances and medium, but on the other hand, Lars have never gotten to this much roleplaying before nor immersing this much into so many different NPCs, since he became GM for the spiritists. I have at least never received any complaints from them about his abilities as a GM.

These stories are chosen and translated from a Danish Advent Calender (“julekalender”) for roleplayers. They are small, independent stories from the major Advent Calender story arc. In Denmark there is a long running tradition for Advent Calender stories (in the shape of radio plays, tv-serieroleplaying1s, written stories – but also as blogs with 24 daily blog posts counting down to Christmas) in 24 episodes running from the 1st of December til Christmas on the 24th of December (yes, Danes celebrates Christmas on the 24th).