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Author Topic: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes  (Read 581073 times)

Loud Whispers

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8745 on: October 25, 2021, 05:58:57 am »

Most Lovecraftian things in Lovecraft aren't very scary. Most of the times characters see a Lovecraftian creature they're curious (scientists inspecting the elder beings in ATMOM, the psychiatrist who speaks to the thing living in Joe Slater Beyond the Wall of Sleep) and there are very few moments where someone goes insane who wasn't already insane, and of those who do get "shook" they mostly all return to normal form - even the guys who saw Cthulhu didn't lose their minds. Off the top of my head only the guy who fucked with Nyalarthotep by calling him a fraud and a charlatan (lol), the guy who got transported to the end of the world, the guy who got Dagon'd and the guy who discovered that worm-wizards walk amongst us were horrified to their core, as opposed to terrified momentarily (e.g. OH FUCK A SHOGGOTH RUN vs I don't want to live anymore to be quite honest). There's also all the dream cycle stuff where the character is arguably not insane, but they have gotten used to things that makes them look insane. Idk where I'm going with this tbh

Cthulhu

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8746 on: October 25, 2021, 12:05:09 pm »

Started rereading the king in yellow, the original short story collection.  Repairer of Reputations is a great one about an insane person.  It's set in a really weird, sinister version of 1920s America (the book was written in like 1895) where suicide is legal and they're building "Government Lethal Chambers" in every city, Jews have been expelled from the country, there's a reservation for black people, a lot of weird ugly things but as the book goes on the narrator is so clearly insane that even those basic facts about the setting become suspect.  He shows up in the campaign as well, along with the repairer himself, Mr. Wilde.  And if you try to leave the hotel I mentioned, you can end up trapped in the book version of America.

I agree that Lovecraft stuff as written is mostly kind of bad, and insanity is kind of bad.  Insanity works in impossible landscapes because as a player's sanity goes down you can ratchet up the king in yellow shit for them, representing it less as "i'm insane" and more as "i'm seeing things the way they really are."

Which works in mundanity too.  In my eyes, Lovecraft insanity is this.  Or more generally, someone is insane when their worldview makes them unable to function in normal society.  Like, finding out Cthulhu is real doesn't mean you suddenly have schizophrenia, but when your PC kills a bunch of people and burns down a building and tells the police "i had to do it, they were secretly a cult trying to summon cthulhu, which is a giant monster under the ocean that wants to wipe out humanity" what are they gonna call you in the newspapers?  Yeah.

I think DG/CoC need a strong core of mundanity for the weird shit to hit properly.  The new DG builds this into the system with bonds, you have a life outside being a DG agent and part of the game is trying to balance your normal obligations with DG's obligations, and watching everything slowly fall apart under the pressure. 


But even in the horror itself, I think it should mostly be more mundane hazards to life and limb, with the supernatural as an intrusion on the mundane world, not the norm.  If I did a coc/dg campaign I would probably heavily limit the threats in the world, like the game is specifically about the mi-go, or Cthulhu, etc.  There's too much shit, a campaign starts to feel like scooby doo if you're too varied with it.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 12:37:06 pm by Cthulhu »
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Egan_BW

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8747 on: October 25, 2021, 12:44:21 pm »

That moment when you build up 40 Insight and realize that the city was full of giant mind-boggling monsters clinging to the buildings all along and you just couldn't see them~
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Skynet

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8748 on: October 25, 2021, 02:03:12 pm »

I’m actually planning on running a DG campaign that uses Impossible Landscapes, and may even produce AARs (not just for people to read, but also so that I remember what happened). And yeah, I plan on cannibalizing sections of the campaign. Railroads may be fun to read, but far less fun to play.

As an interesting note, the campaign itself takes place in an alternate timeline that is meant to be a sequel to a non-DG campaign. The players were British politicians in 1986 who managed to prevent World War Three from turning nuclear. As a result, the United States and the Soviet Union are now allied together, creating The Network.

The Network actively researches the occult, while trying to stop “disruptive” research that could threaten their power. They view MJ-12 with suspicion, since they love doing research…but they’re otherwise legal. Delta Green, by contrast, are seen as dangerous terrorists (thanks to MJ-12’s shenanigans).

There is also one added issue. In the 1990s, the Masquerade (the unwritten agreement by the elite to keep people ignorant about the supernatural) broke down due to technological advancement making it impractical to keep secrets. So people now know that the supernatural is real, but are are ignorant of the details. This means you have a society that is prepared to deal with the occult (which means you don’t look insane when you’re talking about a raid)…but then you have a society that might also be more vulnerable to it as well (since familiarity might lead to unnecessary risk-taking) and you still want to cover stuff up (so people don’t realize how bad things are going to get…and you don’t want average citizens to get ideas about weaponizing the Mythos).

This is the timeline document I gave my players, which essentially said most of what I said above. The reason I posted all this though is because:

« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 02:05:23 pm by Skynet »
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Loud Whispers

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8749 on: October 25, 2021, 03:28:07 pm »

Which works in mundanity too.  In my eyes, Lovecraft insanity is this.  Or more generally, someone is insane when their worldview makes them unable to function in normal society.  Like, finding out Cthulhu is real doesn't mean you suddenly have schizophrenia, but when your PC kills a bunch of people and burns down a building and tells the police "i had to do it, they were secretly a cult trying to summon cthulhu, which is a giant monster under the ocean that wants to wipe out humanity" what are they gonna call you in the newspapers?  Yeah.
Ah yea, that's the way to do it. Helps to isolate player characters too from civil society

wierd

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8750 on: October 26, 2021, 08:57:13 am »

This is why i LOVE the idea of a "raised with chronic exposure to mythos beings" character taking SAN damage from normal suburbia, such as a trip to the mall, but being just fine when having a chat with a starfish-headed elder thing about the finer points of bbq.
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Loud Whispers

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8751 on: October 26, 2021, 10:27:11 am »

This is why i LOVE the idea of a "raised with chronic exposure to mythos beings" character taking SAN damage from normal suburbia, such as a trip to the mall, but being just fine when having a chat with a starfish-headed elder thing about the finer points of bbq.
Reminds me of a dark heresy game where one of our acolytes started acting "crazy" because he was trying to warn us that there was a demon which hunted after everyone which knew it existed, but he couldn't communicate that without also making us aware of the demon which was after him, and he refused to allow us to discover what was going on lest the demon seek us too. "Nothing's after me! Nothing!"

...Whilst refusing to dwell in any building with a door or window.

Kagus

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8752 on: November 02, 2021, 05:15:01 am »

So, we have a bit of a loudmouth player in our campaign. He has a tendency to just sort of barge into any ongoing scene and contribute nothing at high volume. Occasionally straight up talking over someone else in order to tell the DM (or the table at large) about some new feature of his own character that he's just realized, sometimes accompanied by a full and unabridged reading of a spell description that he's just discovered.

Already we're off to a great start. Mechanically, his character is a bit borked as well, as he's a full cleric and I don't think has ever had Bless prepared, instead opting to use his spell slots on casting Guiding Bolt with all the accuracy 14 WIS can provide you at level 6. He *has* discovered Spirit Guardians though, so even with his highly questionable tactics he tends to deal a lion's share of the damage in fights with multiple opponents (and then be extraordinarily pleased with himself).


Normally, I don't really have that much of a problem with him. Sure, him interrupting me, trying to butt into my character's scenes, and afterwards thinking that he was the star of the show is one thing... But last night there was a curious little quip out of him that's left me having a bit of a ponder.

In the session where my character joined this campaign, we traveled out into the desert and ended up falling into an underground warren/hive of beasties, with smaller ones coming straight out of holes in the walls and surrounding us. I had put together a "defensive swashbuckler" with a shield, and as this was also my first time playing with this character I didn't really have a great idea of what all I could do with him to contribute to combat. But when the DM announced that another critter was making its way out of one of the holes near me, I asked how large the hole itself was, and whether or not I could plug it by just shoving my shield over the opening. He said yes, and instead of a fully active enemy attacking our rear I just had to make an opposed athletics check. While not necessarily a "defining moment" for my character, it did show to the other players at least that I was capable of some small amount of lateral thinking in order to solve things in an interesting way. And it did end up being kind of an important note in that battle as a whole.


Last night we ventured into a new underground network, and the loudmouth player was commenting on how if he saw little holes in the walls down here too he'd get flashbacks to that time in the desert, and that he was "ready to plug them with his shield again".

He seems to have rewritten the narrative in his head so that he was the one who came up with that idea. I... I dunno man. I figured I must have misheard him, but I checked with a couple of the other players and they got the impression that's what he meant too. It's kinda surreal.

Loud Whispers

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8753 on: November 02, 2021, 06:10:07 am »

Major main character syndrome. How experienced are they with ttrpgs? I've had three players like that before, both were edgy chuunis but after talking them through it they grew out of it over time. The third of them however has never grown out of it, becoming calcified in their spotlight huffing ways, but at least we are great friends irl. But a corrective memory? That is something I've never had to deal with in game

Kagus

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8754 on: November 02, 2021, 01:57:06 pm »

How experienced are they with ttrpgs?

Technically? About 13+ years. One of the other players, an eternal DM who's acting as DnD grandfather for the rest of the group, mentioned that they both started at the same time.

He added that only one of them really learned much of anything during that period.


He's an interesting chap, to be sure. I've been in parties with people who felt that they should be the hero and muscled their way to the front of the line, but in order to do said muscling you kinda have to be aware of the fact that the other people are there. This guy is legitimately oblivious to half the stuff going on around him.

scriver

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8755 on: November 04, 2021, 10:27:07 am »

Kagus I don't know whether to laugh or cry
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delphonso

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8756 on: November 04, 2021, 06:10:15 pm »

13 years - boy he must have had quite some adventures if he remembers everything the party did as /his own character/ doing them.

Grim Portent

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8757 on: November 10, 2021, 08:49:30 pm »

So I've decided to post another meandering write up of an idea for that dark fantasy setting I posted some bits of a while back. My D&D group is likely going to be playing another game by the same GM, in the same setting as our last few games, so I won't be getting a chance to actually play with the setting properly for a while, so writing ideas down is all I've got for the time being.

Pre-face is that I don't much care for Mind Flayers, I find a lot of their fluff uninspired, them being essentially cthulhoid zombie vampires, as a result I spent a while thinking about what aspects I think are worth keeping for a re-imagining of them. It's honestly not a lot. In any case, for your perusal, I present;


The Alchemist Lords of Tarrik, and the Elixer of Life

Tarrik is something of a black sheep among the provinces of the Aurogentum empire, it's people pallid, docile and artless, the nobility corrupt and decadent even by the standards of the imperial gentry and the land polluted and poisoned by magical and industrial waste. Despite this the province is immensely wealthy and influential, powerful enough to defy the empire's state religion and openly engage in arts widely considered blasphemous and heretical without censure.

The source of this power and wealth is the alchemical and magical talents of the Alchemist Lords, the ruling elite of Tarrik. These scholar-kings have long delved into the forbidden arcane arts, striving for power, knowledge and immortality. Their experiments have resulted in potions, tinctures and balms that can heal grievous injuries, regrow body parts, extend human life, as well as darker products such as potions capable rendering humans complacent and biddable, weaponised toxins, pain enhancers and all manner of addictive substances. These flow forth into the empire in exchange for gold and favours, for all but the most pious nobles and priests are eager to buy the creations of the mad intellects of Tarrik, for who does not wish to forestall death, to regain the glories of youth, or mould the minds of others?

The greatest achievement of the lords of Tarrik is the Elixer of Life, a grandiose term for a costly and disfiguring transmutative potion they created several centuries ago. The elixer extends the human lifespan to several centuries, some of those who have taken it have lived to be over five hundred years old, rivaling the lifespan of even elves, as well as increasing the mental and mystical abilities of the imbiber. The elixer is not without it's downsides however, the subject mutates over several years, their skin becoming rubbery or scaled, and their mouth and sometimes entire head changing to more closely resemble the jaws of a lamprey, the beak of a squid or the entire head of an aquatic lifeform. The only commonality is that all possess a long, thin tongue, sharp like a razor and flexible like an eel, able to pierce through skin, flesh and bone. In addition the resulting horror becomes dependant on the consumption of brain matter, spinal tissue and cerebral fluid, failing to consume such substances on a regular basis causes the individual to starve as readily as any normal man would if denied food and drink.

It would be easy for the Alchemist Lords to devolve into cannibals, feeding on their citizens to prolong their own perverse existence, but such practices are considered gauche by the majority of Tarrik's nobility. Those who have drunk the elixer and remain in good standing instead choose to dine on the neural tissue of animals, expending vast quantities of money on importing animals from the far reaches of the empire and beyond to consume in extravagant orgies of consumption. A feast can see thousands of animals, songbirds, tropical beasts, noble stags, mighty bears, mice fed on grapes and honey, live fish brought from the ocean, all brought to the estates of the monstrous alchemists to be butchered or served alive, their spines torn out and sucked clean of nerve tissue, their brains plucked from their skulls and their cranial fluids served in opulent chalices. The flesh, skin and bones then rendered into alchemical reagents or donated as a miscellaneous slop to the normal men and women who of Tarrik.

Tarrik itself is rotting, the land poisoned by the waste products of the nobility's experiments, the industrial practices needed to keep them supplied with glassware and metal tools, and by the copious quantities of garbage resulting from their ruinous importation of animals. The streets of most towns and cities are thick with animal waste, churned by the passage of a near unending stream of wagons and hooves, bringing livestock and raw materials to Tarrik and shipping potions out. The rivers and lakes are thick with mats of algae, and shimmer with toxic runoff, the sky black with soot and alchemical fumes. Much of the local wildlife has been driven to near extinction over the past few centuries, hunted in droves to feed the appetities of the lords of the land.
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Urist McScoopbeard

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8758 on: November 10, 2021, 10:32:26 pm »

In other news, I just DMed my second session of SWRPG the other day! Everyone had a blast and I am feeling very confident about DMing now. Still learning a lot of the in and outs of SWRPG, but it's fun for sure.
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scriver

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Re: Dungeons & Dragons / PNP games thread: The Barren Snowflake Wastes
« Reply #8759 on: November 11, 2021, 11:24:18 am »

May the dice be with you!
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