Monday, April 28, 2008

Faery's Tale Actual Play:
Liza and the Jewelled Brooch, Part 1

I recently reviewed Faery's Tale, an RPG geared toward the young and/or light-hearted roleplayer. For the last couple weeks, I've been running an adventure for my wife. Certainly, running an RPG for a single player is not the ideal situation for a GM, but this was the only way I could test the system, and I really don't mind it at all - it's gaming, and therefore, it's fun. The only other people I play with are my gaming group from work, and we're always playing Fate/SotC.

This has been a great time for me because my wife's only previous experience roleplaying was years ago, when I was trying to create my own RPG. She was graciously willing to playtest it with me. That was some 4-5 years ago. So, to have her playing with me again has been a joy.

I wrote up the basic plot points and NPCs for an adventure, prepared some other materials for her, including an overhead picture of the house where her PC lives (drawn using Inkscape) and a player cheat sheet which includes all the different types of actions she can take. Game night arrived, we got the kids in bed, pulled out the ol' dice bag, dumped a handful of d6s, and launched into the adventure.

This post is the first in a series of actual play posts where I will record the happenings of the adventure, which I titled, "Liza and the Jewelled Brooch". I will include a few insights and technical details for the players and GMs out there who care about those things (designated with [ ] brackets).

Here are my wife's character's stats:

Liza the Brownie

Body: 4

Mind: 3

Spirit: 2

Starting Essence: 4

Innate Gifts:
- Household magic
- Invisibility

Individual Gifts:
- Alert: perceptive and observant
- Fortunate: +2 to Spirit in tests of luck
- Lore: Well-versed in fairy lore

Because I knew it would be somewhat difficult for my wife's PC to handle an entire adventure by herself, I created an NPC to accompany Liza.

Cherry the Pixie - Liza's good friend

Body: 2

Mind: 3

Spirit: 4

Starting Essence: 8

Innate Gifts:
- Flying
- Pixie Dust

Individual Gifts:
- Inspire: spend 1 Essence to add +2 to another faery’s Attribute score in a challenge
- Sneaky: stealth, silence, concealment, sleight of hand

To begin the adventure, I read the following out loud:
After a good evening’s work, you fell into a deep, restful slumber. The spring air gave you refreshing energy for all of your usual tasks. You left the kitchen properly tidied, having cleaned up spills and dust left by the newlywed Togberts. After a dinner of dark wine, red meat, and sweet-smelling breads, the young couple had hastily set the dishes in piles by the wash basin and headed off to bed. Only last week you had discovered the Togbert’s new home. Sneaking in and finding them in need of a Brownie, you took the opportunity to move in. Having given your last home over to another Brownie as the result of a boon the week before, you were relieved to find the walls of the Togbert home roomy and relatively dust-free.

Now you are sleeping peacefully.

You wake up with a start. You are almost certain you heard a sound out in the kitchen.
Liza races to a hole in the wall where she can see into the kitchen. [I made this an Easy challenge, which has a difficulty of 1, requiring 1 success on the dice, that is, one even number.] She rolled 4 successes, getting to the hole with plenty of time to get a good look at an intruder heading for the open front door. The intruder is a faery for sure, carrying a large bag over his back. As much as her brain tells her it's impossible, she's almost sure that this figure making his escape from the dark kitchen is Markle, the kind brownie who lives in the Blacksmith's shop! Markle is a well-liked faery who makes weapons for noble sprite warriors. Liza can't understand why he would be sneaking into the Togbert home to pilfer items.

Liza scrambles through passages in the walls and exits to the exterior of the house just to the side of the front door. By the time she gets there, the mysterious brownie is gone. Suddenly, some sparkling dust falls down in front of Liza. A moment later, Cherry, Liza's dear friend, lands next to Liza and says, "I was out flying around and saw the front door opened. I thought it seemed strange, so came over to see if everything was all right."

Liza notices a trail through the dirt leading away from the front steps, headed away from the house. This trail was undoubtedly created by the large bag the brownie intruder was toting. Liza asks Cherry to follow the trail and see if she can find the man she thinks is Markle. Cherry flies away and returns saying that she couldn't see him within a few yards.

Liza goes inside and looks around the house, using her Alertness to quickly scan the room. She sees evidence of bits and pieces of moved objects, open drawers and the like, apparently used by the intruder to climb up to a high point on the wall where there hangs a plaque. This plaque usually holds a very valuable jewel-studded brooch - a Togbert family heirloom. But the spot where the brooch usually rests is empty!

Liza leaves the house, closes the door, and suggests to Cherry that they go check the blacksmith's shop to see if Markle is there. She wants to be sure she saw what she thinks she saw. [This event was unexpected. I hadn't thought of this possibility, but these are the things that make GMing fun. So I happily went along to see what my wife would come up with.] Liza asks Cherry if she can spare some pixie dust to make her fly so they can travel more quickly. Cherry agrees. [This was one of those times when I figured this would be the best way to make the story keep moving and I didn't have a problem giving my wife a little help - she was doing this by herself after all. I wanted to make Cherry function somewhat like another player character. So I figured a free sprinkling of pixie dust was a reasonable option.]

The two faeries fly off and quickly arrive at the blacksmith's shop. They try to open the front door by turning the handle. [I gave this a difficulty of Easy (1).] Liza got 1 success. She is able to turn the handle, but it's locked. The gates to the shop are closed, but the faeries slip through a crack and go to access another door into the house. [This also had a difficulty of Easy (1) to turn the handle.] Liza got 3 successes for a hefty turn of the handle, but alas, this door is locked too. Cherry suggests that they go to the hole in the wall where Markle comes out to meet customers. They locate the hole on the exterior of the house and Liza pokes her head inside. She whispers to see if anyone is awake inside. There is no response. At this time, Liza's pixie dust wears off and she can no longer float.

Liza calls Cherry into the dark hallway, carved within the wall, so they can have some light by which to see. They quietly proceed until they reach a point in the hall where another hallway breaks off headed upward. The hall they are in continues forward. Liza climbs up into the upper hallway and sees that Cherry's light just barely illuminates a few articles of a bedroom. Cherry cautiously stays back in the main hallway, keeping watch.

Liza listens before entering the bedroom. Her Alertness tells her that there is no noise from within the room. She now uses her Household Magic to create a small magical ball of light in her hand to see the interior of the bedroom. There is no sign of Markle. In fact, his bed is tidily made and everything seems to be in its proper place, including a number of fancy weapons hanging from the walls.

Liza meets Cherry back in the main hallway and they continue forward until they arrive in Markle's shop. He has this section of the thick wooden wall carved into a tiered workshop. Cherry is still nervous, but Liza is resolved to make sense of things. She uses her light to examine the shop - again, finding no Markle. Liza looks around to see if there is anything she can use as a decoy brooch for the time being, but she sees nothing significant - just a bucket of water, and various blacksmith's tools.

Cherry, cautiously waiting further down the hall insists they be on their way. Liza disappointedly agrees and they return to the exterior of the blacksmith's shop. Liza wants to fly again. [This time, I decided she would need to pay 1 Essence mote to receive more pixie dust from Cherry. It was my way of making her pay to control the NPC to her liking. I'm thinking it might be reasonable to alternate like this - one freebie, one pay. It seems fair enough, especially since Liza is receiving the gift of flight every time Cherry agrees to help her.] So Liza spends 1 Essence and Cherry works up enough pixie dust to share. They float into the air and dart for the Togbert house once again.

Liza realizes that she needs to have the brooch in its place by morning, so she must make haste. The two faeries race north, following the path left in the dirt by the thief's large bag. But then, the trail gets lost as it runs right into a large grassy area. They stop to look around, seeing and hearing nothing. Just then, they hear from overhead: "Hoo! Hoo! Who are you looking for? Who?"

Looking up, they see a black great horned owl who introduces himself as Bwok. The faeries ask if he has seen anyone come this way, to which he replies that, indeed, he has seen someone come this way - a brownie in fact, dragging a large bag slung over his shoulder. But, to the faeries' displeasure, he is not willing to give the information for free. He wants one of two things from them. They must either bring him a mouse to dine on, or, they must tell him a story. He is a lover of fascinating stories. But, he has heard many, many stories, and to think of one he hasn't heard before is quite a task.

Being a brownie, Liza has a natural love for mice, so the first option is out of the question. Yet, to Liza's advantage, she has the Gift of Faery Lore - she knows many great stories, old and new. Because Bwok wanted a story he'd never heard, I decided this would be a somewhat difficult task. Therefore, Liza would have to spend 1 Essence mote to tell such a story. [I gave my wife two options: she could actually make up some interesting story and earn an Essence mote, gaining back her spent Essence - or - she could just say that Liza tells him a great story and not earn the Essence mote. Being new to RPing and not in the mood to come up with something like this on the fly, she chose the latter option.] So Liza spent the Essence mote and told Bwok an amazing story from ancient faery lore called "Twilight" [yes, my wife is very much into the vampire book of the same name], which pleased the owl very well.

Bwok tells the faeries that the brownie they are following went west. He also made it quite clear that, if they intended to catch up with him, they would need to hurry.

That ended our first session. My wife later mentioned that she had enjoyed playing. This was good news to me since she is generally not the sort of person who would readily sign up to play an RPG. She loves board games, but RPGs are a different entity altogether. She had a great attitude and actually continues to look forward to each session.


Anonymous said...

This is great, please keep these posts coming! I had never thought of doing a one to one RGP session, but the setting seems to work fairly nicely. I should give it a try with my wife some day.

On to something completely unrelated: how do you get the nice components pictures in your BGG widget? I use it as well, but I only get pictures of boxes.

Thanks a lot for your very informative blog.

TimothyP said...

The images from the BGG widget are based on the photos you've chosen for your photo gallery on BGG. When you are looking at a pic on BGG, you can click on "Use this image in my collection". The widget pulls from the pictures you've selected in this way.