Thus began the Adventures of Eowyn...

edited January 2016 in Story Games
I have designed a light two-player storygame about Eowyn's adventures (following the War of the Ring, although it could just easily be set in her earlier life), with some input from Story Games folks in an earlier thread.

I've already started playing it, and I think it's a really fun game. Uses Keys a la Blackbird/TSOY, and a fun but simple die mechanic inspired by Otherkind dice which gives a lot of "bang for the buck".

The game includes lots of adventure seeds and ideas, but requires an experienced and motivated GM.

If you're looking for a fun two-player game, take a look! The rules fit on about two pages, plus a character sheet.

"Thus began the Adventures of Eowyn..." (PDF)

Comments

  • Update 1: fixed a couple of readability issues, added two additional Rumours.
  • A question:

    The game doesn't have a "GM" portion. What techniques, methods, or procedures would you use with this game?

    Which might be best suited to it?

    Double points if they come from a different genre or playstyle, and yet fit the bill.

    A lot of mainstream indie game techniques are almost a must, like Let It Ride from Burning Wheel and Say Yes or Roll the Dice from Dogs in the Vineyard.

    Are there any that seem appropriate but you wouldn't use with this game, or any that seem entirely inappropriate but would, in actuality, be a great fit?
  • Update 2: fixed typos, added more Rumours.
  • Looks pretty awesome, Paul! I really love it!

    From „Rumours“ I really like the last idea of balrog (maybe Lungorthin, Lord of Balrogs? :)). Powerful element and really dreadful one. One part of balrogs, which is especially awesome - is that it is possible for someone powerful enough to defeat them... but they must sacrifice themselves to do so. No one ever survived the defeating of balrog, not even Maia. Gothmog vs. Ecthelion, Glorfindel vs. Balrog and Durin´s bane vs. Gandalf – the victor was always killed in proces.

    I used this element in my gaming as I introduced the „boldog“ (lesser Maia who wore orc body) as general of angmarian hosts. One of the characters recieved a prophecy that he will die if he tries to fight him. All players knew that and accepted it as a fact. And yet, it came down to showdown where this character fought boldog to save some prisoners. He knew full well, that he will die and still did it because it was a right thing to do (I felt it was really Tolkienesque moment). The character died as was predicted, but managed to take that foul creature of old dark days with him in a duel. Really awesome ending of our campaign – strong emotions and victory that was paid dearly.
  • That's an excellent addition! And sounds like a great ending to an epic game.

    How does the text read to you - is it clear enough (for what it is), and does it feel like it could be missing anything?
  • I believe it is clear enough... simple and really nice story game, really focused on story an ideal for the game of two you are planning. There are ideas for many possible game variants there... so I couldn´t have asked for more. :)

    Btw. - I really hope you will write here how your game goes and what ideas you used. :D
  • I asked for GM/play advice for this game. Here are some initial thoughts:

    1. For both players:

    Play will be smoother and more "coherent" if you apply the rules of the game with an eye on the imagined situation taking place. When you decide which dice to draw on, which questions to ask, or which dangers to face, consider what is happening and how it is happening. If it is not clear, ask each other questions to clarify the situation further: "What does that look like?" "How are you doing that?" "What is the door made of?" And so on.

    The clarification will help you apply the rules to the game. When marking dangers, for example, mark only such dangers which flow logically from the events of play. If something seems like it doesn't fit, don't choose that option. Both players should maintain the discipline of following the logic of the imagined situation and applying the rules accordingly.

    2. For the Narrator:

    * Always be on the lookout for opportunities for Eowyn to earn circles from her Key Traits. Point them out to her and ask her what she wants to do. The Key Trait rewards are designed so that following them will complicate her life and enrich the tale.

    At any time when you see such an opportunity, say it: "The young girl really wants you to take her back to her village, even though you explained that it's been overrun by Orcs. Since you promised to deliver her to her family, following through on your word would earn you three circles... do you want to do that, despite the danger?"

    However, always remember to make it clear to the player that the final choice in every situation is theirs; you may apply such pressure to them but you can never violate Eowyn's free will.

    * Carefully observe which events Eowyn's player marks as Victories, and look for opportunities to bring those into play. The player has marked something as a Victory in hopes that it will become relevant again.

    These things will lead you reincorporate material from early adventures.

    * To prepare some interesting situations or adventures for Eowyn, always begin by looking at her character sheet. Try to come up with things which will give her opportunities to earn circles from her Key Traits or apply her Victories. If you have a great idea which doesn't seem to do that, don't discard it just yet, but see if you can modify it to bring in one or both of those things.

    Example: You think it would be really exciting to have a nearby village attacked (and perhaps destroyed) by barbaric marauders. However, this has nothing to do with Eowyn's Traits or Victories.

    She has the Trait "Born Warrior", which an earn her circles is she takes on someone in combat. She also earned a Victory against a Southron lord in an earlier adventure, whom she sent fleeing into ignominous retreat.

    Perfect! Take your original idea and add an element to target each aspect. First, you might decide to place the Southron lord in the attack: perhaps leading it, perhaps among the ranks of the marauders, or perhaps as a traitor who has made the village vulnerable to the attack in the first place.

    Second, include some kind of truly fearsome warrior in the situation. It could be the Southron lord, if that makes sense, or someone else (Eowyn has defeated him already, after all). Make this frightening enemy overconfident and honour-bound, so Eowyn could challenge him to a duel and attempt to defeat him.

    Now the situation is ready: you have created opportunities for Eowyn to earn and spend circles, and reincorporated earlier elements to lend coherence to the story. This isn't some random raid; this is an old enemy coming to harrow her once more.



  • Ecthelion,

    The first chapter of Eowyn's travels South involves her riding through a small town, once a a part of Gondor, long ago, but for now independently ruled by a local Lord (of uncertain lineage). Presumably Elessar will come hither someday and make them bend the knee...

    She finds there a difficult situation:

    In the centre of the town, a young woman is at the gallows, about to be hanged!

    Eowyn decides she's not going to let that go. She rides into the crowd on horseback!

    There followed a daring chase scene, where Eowyn spirited this unknown girl off into the woods (and cut off one of the guards' ears in the process!). She vowed to protect her from the Lord and his men (according to her Key Trait of "True to her Word"), but the hounds found them and took the girl back into custody.

    Disguised as a serving-woman, Eowyn snuck into the keep and escaped with the girl before they could attempt to mete out justice once more. In the process, however, she had to call upon the ghost (which affected the young woman in some strange fashion, though we don't know how just yet), and then the girl killed a guard on their way out. (I'm thinking I'll hint that this was somehow the ghost's influence at play, although it's also a very fitting action for this young woman, who is, unbeknowst to Eowyn, a rebellious, hot-headed freedom fighter with her heart full of anger. But of course she idolizes Eowyn!)

    The backstory, which Eowyn doesn't know just yet, is that this girl has been training to fight with sword and shield (like Eowyn, she found a need to fight during the War of the Ring, and now takes her own protection seriously), and teaching the other women to do so, as well. When a guardsman came to take her sword away from her - after all, that's not a woman's weapon, and not allowed to the villagers - she drew on him and, in the ensuing scuffle, killed him. That's why she was being hanged: for the murder.

    I also have, in my back pocket, a possible complication to the plot, if more is necessary: the woman have found and nursed back to health a war elephant (Oliphaunt/Mumakil). The creature is twisted and mad; if things get worse in the town, the women (a "knitting circle") might unleash it on the Lord's men (or even the gates of the keep).

    That's more-or-less what has been going on. The game has moving along nicely, with all the mechanics supporting our story as well as Eowyn's choices.

  • Paul: Really cool! :D I like it a lot!

    The idea of some independent and petty Lord (in South Gondor/Near Harad I take it) is particulary cool. It gives you a lot of possibilities for your game.

    Where was Eowlyn headed when she ended up in thiss mess? She is wife of prince and really important person, so it is hard for me to believe she would travel alone... was she lost en route (and men of her house are now looking for her) or were the killed/imprisoned?
  • You are certainly correct that a noble woman should not be traveling thus alone and undefended. However, Eowyn's player liked the idea of traveling alone, so off she went! Not the most plausible, admittedly, but fun for us.

    I suppose if we ever needed to justify it we could say that she is known to be flighty and a bit unpredictable (i.e. she just told her household she was leaving on her own, and that was that), or that she snuck away but left someone to impersonate her in her absence.
  • On the other hand... War of Ring has ended and there is no reason for a noble lady to be afraid in her own lands, is there? Why shouldn't she be allowed to roam freely? And Éowyn would most certainly not be tamed and put in cage.
    “What do you fear, lady?" [Aragorn] asked.
    "A cage," [Éowyn] said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
    It is plausible for me that she just went for a ride or to visit distant places of her own land and by mistake or by guilding of Fate... she stumbled across the border. For now, nobody is looking for her, but she will be missed after a while. And than someone will come looking for her... that might be interesting moment as well. :)
  • Loving this, but I'm confused about pushing on: it seems like there's no drawback to it?

    There's an extra stakes question, but I'm also twice as likely to get a hit, so it doesn't seem any more desperate than the first roll. Am I missing something?

    I'd be tempted to hack it so that, instead of counting ones as hits, risking dangers gives you two dice per danger risked.

    Or keeping ones as hits, but saying that dice from round one that match your dangers stand, and you reroll the rest (plus any new dangers you risk.)
  • edited February 2016
    I see what you're saying, Dirk, but you should try it before you hack it. It works pretty nicely, and the psychological incentive to pile on more dangers when you failed the first roll is not to be underestimated.

    I could condone counting dangers from round one as having happened as a possible change. Now you have to add NEW dangers to the second roll, if you want those dice. But that makes the system REALLY harsh.

    Two dice per danger... that's interesting! I'll think on it.

    Both those changes sound promising, but, so far, unnecessary. The math is fairly static, but psychologically it doesn't seem to matter.

    I also considered "6 or 1, but discount any matches" as a possible rule. Use that if you prefer! So if you roll two 6's, that's still just one success.

    In summary, I completely DO expect players to Push On whenever they need to, so I don't mind if there's no particular downside. The first roll is kind of a "freebie" - nail it and you got a "critical hit" of sorts.

    It's roughly like this:

    Nail the first roll? That's like a 10+ in AW (though with the possibility of bad stuff happening, of course).

    If you didn't, now we reroll to see if you have a 7-9 or a miss.
  • edited February 2016
    I gave this some further thought overnight.

    1) Although your logic isn't entirely incorrect, the odds ARE different. The chances of rolling a "full success" are lower on the reroll than they were on the initial roll. Not only do you need two successes, but you have to choose 6's OR 1's (not both added together).

    In effect, your odds of a complete success are much lower (roughly half, though it depends on the number of dice rolled).

    2) If you want to make it harsher, DO trigger dangers on the first roll, which means those dice are removed from play (unless it somehow makes sense to trigger a particular danger twice) and the circumstances are rougher for Eowyn.

    (I'd been considering the second point in design anyway, but backed off at the last minute, as I worried it would seem to unforgiving. In many regards, it works better than the current rules, of course - in particular since it attaches a cost to failure once in a while.)

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • I misread my own rules for a second; I went back and edited the post above to be a little clearer.
  • Ah, ok!
    Sixes OR ones, not both together. That's where I was hung up, thanks for the clarification.
  • edited February 2016
    Right!

    So, for instance, on one die, you can't achieve a full success at all when rerolling (you must add dangers to do that). On two dice, your odds are 11/36 on the first roll, but only 2/36 on the reroll (but you now have a 50% of a "partial success", in addition to your odds of falling prey to a danger you've chosen).
  • Update:

    I've included some advice on how to play the game, clarified Victories, and added rules for hacking the game into a generic game engine.

    Please have a look and let me know if it makes sense!
  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited February 2016
    So, after catching up on the doc, victories absolutely click for me.

    ---

    Fun thing, this tip, under the "as the narrator" part:
    Very well: take your original idea and add an element to bring in both the Trait and the Victory. First, you might decide to place the Southron lord in the attack: perhaps leading it, perhaps among the ranks of the marauders, or perhaps as a traitor who has made the village vulnerable to the attack in the first place.

    If one follows this advice, two things happen.
    Firstly, victories and traits become "motifs"/"themes" for the adventure.
    Secondly, reincorporation of victories and breaking of key traits become the transformative acts and "gifts of the goddess" if one believes in formula of "the hero's journey."
    I don't know how correct this is, just grabbed it off google.
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1b/Heroesjourney.svg/2000px-Heroesjourney.svg.png

    But you even have supernatural aid in form of the companion - maybe even threshold guardian. I dont find "The Hero's journey" universally true or completely satisfying, but its quite cool how your game meshes with it.

    That would be my qualified guess of how they will feel in play.

    ---

    I really love the opposed pushing on by the way, at least in theory. And it packs some punch. You know the mountain witch? It has orthogonal stakes, and if two characters square off, either side can demand Ai-Uchi. Mutual success, basically.

    Maybe you want to add some form of that as an option. We did in one of my earlier games. It created some very intense moments of deliberation and contemplation. The table was completely still while everyone waited on the sides to find out whether they wanted to accept the results.
  • Good observations, J!

    I'll think further on mutual success. It could simply happen on a tie, for example.

    I need to add another detail to conflicts: when pushing on, after the initial roll, the loser's dangers come true, but the victor's do not.
  • I've updated the document. For now, I've incorporated mutual success on any roll where the victor has only a single success. Some playtesting will be in order, however, to see what feels best.
  • One more slight update, clarifying some of the language, without any significant changes to the rules.
  • This game popped up in the "Please list your favourite RPGs" thread, which inspired me to give the text another look-over.

    I found a few typos and clarified a few minor points. Hopefully the text is more clear and solid now! They're subtle changes but helpful.
  • Cool Paul, thanks for offering a cleaned up copy :)
  • In a few days, I'll be playing a fun but entirely not-Lord-of-the-Rings game using this system with three players. This should be great! I should finally have a chance to try out the multiple player conflict mechanics.
  • edited October 2016
    In a few days, I'll be playing a fun but entirely not-Lord-of-the-Rings game using this system with three players. This should be great! I should finally have a chance to try out the multiple player conflict mechanics.
    Paul, how many times have you played TAoE; I might try with my group if you play tested it enough with your group. Especially if you are trying a non-fantasy version, being my group really isn't into fantasy. Anyway, let me know how it goes. And the type of game you will be playing. Thanks :-)

  • edited October 2016
    .
  • Jeff,

    The game is solid, and works quite well. I haven't used multi-player conflicts yet, although I see no reason they wouldn't work. (I can let you know in more detail on Monday!)

    The catch with using the game for other things is simple:

    You need to create your own lists of Qualities and Expertise (and/or Belongings, if relevant; I generally omit those, and assume characters have whatever it is logical for them to have). That's not too hard.

    However, you also need to make your own Key Traits (Eowyn's cover her, well, character, but not other character types, like someone who is sneaky or sadistic, or power-hungry, or a religious fanatic, or...). That part is more challenging or time-consuming, although you could easily grab a list of Keys from The Shadow of Yesterday (and there are lots of fan-made Keys out there) and quickly convert them.

    So, it works, but it requires some work upfront. All the moving parts work well together, but you need some kind of scenario/format for the game, and you need to make up new Key Traits.

    For a game, you could easily take something like Lady Blackbird (or any scenario/situation/adventure you like) and just substitute Eowyn's mechanics.
  • edited October 2016
    Jeff,

    The game is solid, and works quite well. I haven't used multi-player conflicts yet, although I see no reason they wouldn't work. (I can let you know in more detail on Monday!)

    The catch with using the game for other things is simple:

    You need to create your own lists of Qualities and Expertise (and/or Belongings, if relevant; I generally omit those, and assume characters have whatever it is logical for them to have). That's not too hard.

    However, you also need to make your own Key Traits (Eowyn's cover her, well, character, but not other character types, like someone who is sneaky or sadistic, or power-hungry, or a religious fanatic, or...). That part is more challenging or time-consuming, although you could easily grab a list of Keys from The Shadow of Yesterday (and there are lots of fan-made Keys out there) and quickly convert them.

    So, it works, but it requires some work upfront. All the moving parts work well together, but you need some kind of scenario/format for the game, and you need to make up new Key Traits.

    For a game, you could easily take something like Lady Blackbird (or any scenario/situation/adventure you like) and just substitute Eowyn's mechanics.
    Very cool Paul, I saw a website with a bunch of different versions of lady blackbird by some of the big names in design, so it would be cool to switch out some of that stuff to help with the Eowyn game theme. Thanks :-)
  • edited October 2016
    That's exactly the right idea! Good Keys aren't hard to write once you get the idea.

    Some people and groups write up Keys from scratch every time they play - making custom Keys for each character. If your players are patient enough for that, that can work too.

    I'm making custom Keys for each character for my game on Monday, including a "Reverse trigger", which will be interesting to see in practice.
  • @Paul_T
    Cool, I'm not sure what a reverse trigger is. But I'll ask you about it once I get some more background :-)
  • It's some weird technology, and it's not really Eowyn-related... another time!
  • It also occurs to me that the balance of "circles" gained by Eowyn characters isn't crucial, so along as the economy operates and they are gained and spent as play continues.

    This means that you can probably use any other Key-type mechanic as written, without modification. For instance, using Blackbird Keys, and just substituting "circle" for "XP", would work just fine. So, in a pinch, you can simply do that. Same goes for The Shadow of Yesterday Keys, although their numbers are much higher.
  • It also occurs to me that the balance of "circles" gained by Eowyn characters isn't crucial, so along as the economy operates and they are gained and spent as play continues.

    This means that you can probably use any other Key-type mechanic as written, without modification. For instance, using Blackbird Keys, and just substituting "circle" for "XP", would work just fine. So, in a pinch, you can simply do that. Same goes for The Shadow of Yesterday Keys, although their numbers are much higher.
    Cool Paul, thanks for the advice:)
  • Here's a simple, quick and dirty way to use Keys written for Lady Blackbird (or from my game, The Bureau):

    * When you "hit" your Key, add one circle of Courage.

    * When you do something because of a Key you have that's reckless, dangerous, or stupid, add three circles of Courage.

    Making the distinction between these two in play is simple:

    Someone (usually the player) says, "Hey, I'm doing [this thing] because of my Unrequited Love trait. I'm adding three circles."

    That's when you (typically, the GM, in this case) just say:

    "Cool. How is this thing you're doing reckless, dangerous, or stupid?"

    The player will, 99% of the time, give you a perfect reason. Then it's your job to hammer on what they said and to drive it home.

    If they can't come up with something, or their answer is not convincing to the group, no problem - just dial it back to one circle.
  • The list of Keys in the Blackbird Companion, linked to here (Lady Blackbird Hacks) is a very good (perhaps even overwhelming!) list.

    (The Companion also has a number of pieces of advice and mechanics from my own Lady Blackbird hack/adventure, "Dinner in Nightport"! I didn't realize that. Cool.)
  • A quick update:

    Although the rules in "The adventures of Eowyn" are very specific in application, nothing stops you from using them as a generic ruleset. I've done this myself, with success.

    All you need is to be able to write your own Keys (or adapt some from online, as I outline above in this thread).

    I use a "generic handout" which serves as a rules summary when I play this game.

    Here is a Dropbox link to the summary (the Qualities and Expertise are intended for a low fantasy/medieval setting, but you could make your own list for other settings without much trouble):

    https://dropbox.com/s/uaov0k1ykme2pwe/Eowyn%20Generic%20Handout.pdf?dl=0

    At some point, I'll update the original rules document with these, two; they're a little cleaner than the original writeup, so you can consider them to supercede the original rules where they don't match.
Sign In or Register to comment.