Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Collected Silent Titans Play Reports

Collected Silent Titans Play Reports, Spring/Summer 2019

Session 1:

Session 2:

Play report of 2nd session of SILENT TITANS.... folks wander around wir-heal.


  • it became obvious that is hard to leave wir-heal, due to the travelling mechanic. There's only two spots to get to the "southern border" which you have to roll randomly. In addition tracking your own location can be difficult.
  • Court of wapentake happened, went pretty well, fairly disheartening for the convicted player who was sentenced to the gibbet for killing a pig child
  • Near end of session: court of wassail overturned this conviction, freeing the player character (after the player had already made a new character)
  • Players got separated within wir-heal, to avoid too much b.s. gonna start off new session "you all found your way back to legion's fort"
  • They were on a quest from the Cathedral of the Duck to check on the other two churches, they will be rewarded 5 shillings on return to Legion's Fort

Session 3:

 SESSION SUMMARIZATION: They go into R8-BY in search of lost memories after speaking to NPCs about titan-lore. There they find the Wraeca, a scrambled ghost of one PC... after some trouble with the Court of Wapentake this Wraeca is sentenced to "crawl" on all fours for a year.

The Wraeca leads the party to R8-BY's Titan Mouth. Within the titan/dungeon they defeat a giant screaming owl and some associated ghosts... The environment: flooded libraries and stained-glass angel doors.

It takes them a while to understand, but they learn they can open the dungeon's doors with eyes stolen from cephalopod monsters. Wandering further in the Titan, they feed milky fluid to some ghosts and listen to lore-fragments from a giant damaged android. They climb to a central room full of damaged cephalopods. Striking battle there to claim more cephalopod eyes, they win, but are damaged. They choose to retreat from the dungeon.

On the way out they are harassed by ghosts and sadly a PC is lost. They head back to legion's fort, numbering one less...

  • they are learning how to navigate Wir-Heal surprisingly fast, and I think the navigation system is reliably providing strange picaresque elements as well as a melancholy doom.
  • the R8-BY titan went very well, considering the bizarre elements. I really thought the tone came across, and the descriptions went well! Christian Kessler's layout was generally helpful, I just read from the specific notes when they wanted more information. ((should take more time to analyze this later)). Flipping back forth to the monster stats was an issue although a minor one.
  • players were appropriately confused by R8-BY's eternally flooding room, not by first encounter but by their second.
  • I didn't realize until later, but I was misusing the table with the talking damaged android. I was summing all the d8+mods and reading one entry/turn instead of using each d8+mod to read one entry for a total of 3 entries per turn.
  •  I used the R8By map, printed out full color, with unexplored segments of the map covered with scrap paper. It worked really well, particularly bc the more straightforward elements like the hallways and doors are very clear and simple. (there's a picture below)

(I used scraps of an extra copy of the ravens dungeon map to cover the unexplored parts of the R8-By map)
  • I think I'm good at running npcs now as a dm. I should also commend the text. The Wraeca seemed like a challenge to run when I first read it, but I found that the loose and shallow amount of information provided encouraged me to rp the character as glitchy and confused, which is exactly how it should be.
  • the combat; one player (who's pc died) complained that they don't know if they really like it. We had some ambiguity about Critical Damage. I'm generally very generous with initative. Lots of ghosts wrestling each other in this session.
  • overall this game is going very well. The mechanical elements flow smoothly, nothing takes too long as far as I'm concerned. Both wir-heal and the Titan function well, and the Titan in particular is exploding with bizarre detail. I'm having much less trouble describing this detail than I initally feared.

xxxxxxxxAs for difficulty: Into the Odd combat seems to lead to escalating stakes as PCs start taking Critical Damage. IF the last PC is knocked out, everyone dies, but if they kill the monster first, everyone recovers quickly. There was at least one time where one die roll would decide whether everyone died or everyone was fine. I consider one PC death after a dungeon delve to be pretty good result in terms of player demoralization, not too bad.

Silent Titans Session 4:

ok we dropped silent titans gonna do a veins of the earth campaign instead

:/ basically we concluded that the wir-heal navigation system + random encounters was bullshit having to repeat dense adjective-laden prose on a random, frustratin basis, and then encounter one of two wandering Courts, was kinda bullshit like. it just got tiresome after they figured it out, and involved a lot of guessing and for me, stumbling though a lot of dense prose :/

Sunday, June 16, 2019

how my silent titans game crashed and burned

"I stopped paying attention because every time I looked up you were struggling with a series of adjectives"- my friend

The overland exploration part of the Silent Titan is pretty busted. You get to choose between two random paths; the paths themselves are described via complex pieces of prose:

Some examples.

Some of these are a little hard for me to visualize, let alone describe. "Escher-maze of cracked concrete steps."

And the courts kept showing up-- Court of Wapentake, Court of Wassail. 2 primary entries on the random encounter table. Good the first time but stopped being weird and started being repetitive. Not much was happening between iterations of mock trials, parades, and Ouzel visits.

It feels like a failure of with the system. Wir-Heal can be weird to navigate but it shouldn't be onerous and repetitive.

It would also be better if the paths you could take were more succinctly described as paths and not just landscapes. "Do you head over towards the gogmagogic buildings or the dense maquis?" Along with the vocabulary and diction it's a clear case of style over function.

The paths they took would often lead right back to where they started, which grew frustrating. It felt like a slot machine where most results were boring, creating boring gameplay.

Things I should have done to save the game:

  • Not just read the prose describing the paths, but rather use the prose to inspire some simpler options. (In retrospect, I did this: "Tarmac paths or concrete steps"- but it was too late?)
  • Fudge the results on the random encounter table to achieve more interesting results.
  • Completely substitute the navigation system as soon as it stopped working. 
  • The players were trying to ask locals for directions, which I resisted giving. 
 I also think the players could have been more inspired to find the titan's mouths. That might have ameliorated the aimless frustration. 

How it crashed and burned: the end of the 4th session I realized all the business with the tables and rolling options and being marble-mouthed at the prose wasn't working out, and we the gaming group decided to play something else... another Veins of the Earth campaign.

Ironically I'm having similar overworld journey struggles with the exploration rules in Veins, the setting thereof being a giant series of underground caverns.
My new overworld map for Veins.

Navigation in strange environments probably a continuing difficulty for roleplaying game's mechanics... blogosphere dead, unable to sort it out... Nonetheless I'm applying best principles and dropping a massive amount of preparation which has shown itself as unworkable.

I used to get heartbreak over this kind of thing, reading a big beautiful rpg book, preparing for weeks, and then not getting to use most of it... Difficulties in the rpgtext forbidding an ultimate experience. Well I've been through enough to not be too troubled. Maybe it will work out next time.