The Call of Darkness: steps 3 and 4

This game is based on Cthulhu Dark by Graham Walmsley and Nine Steps And A Bloody Heart (NSAABH) by Lino Pang aka Riccardo Fregi. I am also using the subset of the Game Master’s Apprentice (GMA) deck from Alone (Larcenous Designs) for inspiration.


Since Gwendolyn seems so passionate about their investigation, Carlos and Bessie ask her to find someone skilled in the Hebraic language to read the rest of Abel’s notes.

[This is an attempt to draw an additional card: something that NSAABH allows to do once during each group of scenes 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and, optionally, when drawing the Ace of Hearts. To make things interesting, I decided that the heroes must roll a 6 to have access to the extra card. They cooperate in convincing Gwendolyn, also rolling an Insight die.

Carlos:5 Bessie:3 Insight:4 – not enough]

Gwendolyn says she has no idea where to find someone qualified and trustworthy. She will try asking her connections in the next days.

Step 3 – Card: Ace of Diamonds. The Horror is not the Great Cthulhu, but some lesser creature

[I think I need an NPC who has witness the rites of the cult. Oracle: is it Farema or a new NPC (50/50) New NPC Male or Female? A man GMA: Bargain Religious Knowledge ]

The City Newspaper publishes an article about an English student gone lunatic. Livius Lyndon studies anthropology at the City University: he contacted the police narrating a story about a group of people worshipping blood-thirsty aliens of maybe demons. He was terrified, possibly under the effect of drugs. Livius was promptly assigned to the local mental asylum. Gwendolyn this time is able to help: she has a friend in a leading position at the asylum. She obtains permission for Carlos to visit the patient.

[Investigate: Human die + Insight die: 1 + 2. Carlos will find out very little]

Livius is still terrified. He refuses to speak with Carlos. As speaking to himself, he says half sentences like: “they called that thing and it came…. it spoke to them… I even paid to be there, my greed for knowledge has doomed me…”

Step 4 – Card: 4 of Clubs – The main meeting point of the cult is not at a warehouse


On a free night, Carlos and Bessie explore the industrial area, where the deceased Eruk (see Step 1) used to work as a security guard. They hope to hear the mysterious pounding music reported by Eruk.

[Investigation Carlos:1 Bessie:2 Insight:6 – they found more than they wanted to, and they will need to roll and Insight test. GMA: meet fraudolent]

They hear noises from inside a warehouse: when they look inside, they see smugglers unloading crates of tequila from a truck. The men see them and chase them. [GMA: stones of all shapes and sizes]

Bessie and Carlos manage to hide in a yard full of building material. In the dark, they stumble upon a heap of dismembered bodies.

[Insight test – Carlos:6 (new Insight level:3) – Bessie:6 (new Insight level:4)]

The two heroes are totally terrified.

[Since this double 6 roll is so exceptional, I decide it’s a good moment to try getting the bonus card for steps 4-6. Investigation – Human dice + Insight die: 3,5,6 – Success! But a new Insight test will be needed. Carlos: 5 (new level:4) Bessie:4 (level unchanged:4)]

Bonus Card – 2 of Spades – A Clergyman

[Oracle: Christian or Zoroastrian? (50/50) Christian]

Carlos recognizes the head of Father Miguel, a priest at a Catholic church he sometimes frequents.

Investigation deck summary:

Who is the leader of the cult? – SPADES: 1.Sen.Irving; 2.A Clergyman or woman; 3.An Artist; 4.The Owner of the Sun Palace Hotel(Gwendolyn); 5.Prof.Heidelberg [Only 3 suspects remain as the leaders of the cult: the Senator and the Professor suggested by Gwendolyn and as still mysterious Artist]

What is their main meeting place? – CLUBS: 1.A Mountain Lake; 2.A Graveyard; 3:A Mansion; 4.A Warehouse; 5.The Sun Palace Hotel; 6.A Church

What is the inhuman horror they serve? – DIAMONDS: 1.Cthulhu; 2.Fthaggua; 3.The Deep Ones; 4.The Mi-Go

Keera the Sunderer 2: the Gauls lose their chariots

An Ironsworn solo campaign, with battles fight with the Commands and Colors Ancients boardgame rules. Battles are won by the first side who destroys six enemy units. See campaign set-up here. [This is a gaming campaign: please do not expect historic accuracy]

Previous Events: Keera is the leader of a Gallic clan: the Sunderers. She allies with the Wind-Riders, lead by Mogurix, in order to march South towards the richest lands that once were Gallic and are now controlled by the Romans. But when the two clans are ready to move, they are attacked by a Roman army.


Mogurix; the leader of the Wind-Riders, a clan allied with Keera’s Sunderers

Lavinia:  Mogurix’ wife. A Healer who was born a Roman but was adopted by the Gauls when a child.

Beltros: a Druid and the oldest member of Keera’s Sunderers. He disapproves the expedition South, believing that the risks of war should be avoided whenever possible.


Keera and Mogurix lead their clans in the battle against a Roman legion. Mogurix leads the chariots and cavalry of the Wind Riders on the left wing; Keera is at the centre of the line, with the main body of the Gallic warriors.


The two wings are the first to engage combat, while the warriors wait behind. The chariots are destroyed in the first impact [G:0 R:1], but the cavalry opens a gap in the Roman line and rushes through it.


Yet, the now isolated unit is doomed: the Romans surround it and destroy it [G:0 R:2]. The Gauls also lose a Warrior unit on their right flank [G:0 R:3].


Mogurix falls back and joins the leftmost group of warriors. The Roman line advances at Double Time and the two main bodies of infantry engage a furious fight.

The Roman elite soldiers attack the centre of the Gallic line

Keera is initially successful, destroying the two Roman Heavy Infantry units and a Medium Infantry unit [G:3 R:3]; one of the Roman leaders is now alone in the middle of the battlefield. But also Keera’s men are now in bad shape.


The second Roman leader comes to the aid of his colleague with his cavalry, but this counter-attack is only partly a success, with heavy losses on both sides [G:5 R:5].

The Roman Cavalry charges Keera

While Keera is forced to retreat, Mogurix drives the final blow by killing the isolated Roman leader. [G:6 R:5]


This Battle is only a Weak Hit for the Gauls (Pay the Price). They are now able to begin their Southward journey, but all their chariots have been destroyed in the battle and they will fight with only 11 units instead of 12 until they can rebuild them.


Keera’s current situation:

Stats – Edge:1 Heart:2 Iron:2 Shadow:3 Wits:1
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:0
Vow: find the tomb of Dag in the South (Dangerous) – Progress:0
Background Vow: plunder a major Roman city (Extreme) Progress:0

Cybela and the Iron Talisman 5: intrigue at the war council

A solo campaign with plastic toys based on the Ironsworn RPG and the OnePageRules Grimdark Future Firefight skirmishing rules (but this is a purely Ironsworn session).
See setup here.

Previous events: The Duchy of Elfbrook has been attacked by the Duchy of Boarwood. Duchess Cybela of Elfbrook is the best remotely-controlled-mecha-pilot around: she swears a vow to rescue her friend Tahuta, who has snatched the Iron Talisman from the hands of the invaders but is now trapped in the Boarwood-occupied territory. The town of Abon is freed, but Cybela’s power mecha is destroyed in battle. Etana, the chief engineer at the Mechanization Ministry, assigns her a much less powerful machine. Nevertheless, Cybela plays a vital role in re-conquering Axeford. Stonetower, the ultimate goal, is now in sight.


  • Duke Themon of Elfbrook – Cybela’s father
  • Archmage Brynn, uncle of Cybela and leader of the Cult. A powerful and ambiguous man.
  • Tahuta – an agent in Elfbrook special forces and Cybela’s best friend.
  • Etana – chief engineer at the Mechanization Ministry. She favours AI robots over human-controlled mecha.

In this session, I focus on what happens at court, far from the battlefield.
Will this involve a new NPC? [50/50] Oracle: YES
Male or Female? [50/50] Male
NPC Role: Raider
NPC Goal: Harm a rival

Is the rival Cybela? [50/50] Oracle: YES

Count Fanir is the second best mecha-pilot in Elfbrook. He is a fervent adept of the cult. At the war council, Archmage Brynn suggests that Fanir should replace Cybela in the fight for Stonetower: he says he is worried about the safety of the young Duchess but, now that the war seems to be nearly over, he really intends to promote his pupil.
Face Danger: Challenge:5,10 Action:5+3Wits=8 / Weak Hit (-1 Momentum)
Cybela must use all her dialectical skills to convince the war council that her involvement in the operations is essential. She also suggests that this could not be a good time to introduce new people in key roles. The final decision is that she can keep her position, but Fanir will be placed to her side in the next battles: he will use a robot of a different model, so that it will be possible to measure the effectiveness of the two different machines. To Cybela it is clear that the competition will not be so much among different mecha-models as among the two pilots.


Cybela’s current situation:

Stats: Edge:2 Heart:1 Iron:2 Shadow:1 Wits:3
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:1 Momentum:1
Vow: retrieve the Iron Talisman (Troublesome) Progress:5
Background Vow: limit the power of the Cult (Extreme) Progress:0

Goldsworn 4 – Reaching Isla de la Fuente

[An Ironsworn pirate adventure set in the fictional Islas Nuevas archipelago]

Previous Events: The Danish captain Haf Moriensen has just arrived to the Roca Larga island from Europe on his ship, the Rebis. While Haf and his quartermaster Ithela are in town, Haf’s younger sister Miranda and part of the crew disappear from the ship. The Captain swears a vow to find Miranda. The girl has been imprisoned by Sir Alban Kinry, the English governor of the island: he will free her after the Rebis has secretly taken him to a nearby island and back. Haf agrees and the Rebis sails towards Isla de la Fuente. They are attacked by English pirates, but the Danish win the fight and capture their Ship.

Main character: Captain Haf Moriensen
Edge:+1 Heart:+1 Iron:+2 Shadows:+3 Wits:+2
Health:5 Spirit:3 Supply:4 Momentum:5

Path – WATERBORN Gather Information, Face Danger and Secure an Advantage at +1 when using water-related knowledge and skills.
Ritual – DIVINATION Gather Information by a blood-form of bibliomancy.
Custom – BATTLESHIP Mighty: Strike and Clash at +1 and to +1 harm in naval combat. Ship Health: 5

Miranda (Haf’s sister) [oracle: a young and kind bandit, i.e. pirate]
Ithela (quartermaster of the Rebis) – an African warrior fond of bone amulets [oracle: a Dangerous and Artistic Hunter]
Morien (Haf’s brother) a Danish occultist and merchant [oracle: Confident and Adventurous]

Other NPCs
Sir Alban Kinry – the jealous and stubborn English governor of Roca Larga
Brian Reese – an English pirate defeated by the Rebis

Background Vow: – Epic. Seize an Atlantean source of occult power that must be hidden somewhere in the Islas Nuevas. Progress: 0
Dangerous Vow: Find Miranda. Progress: 2
Journey to Isla de la Fuente, Progress:3

While the the crew celebrates their victory on the English pirates, Captain Moriensen, Sir Kinry, Ithela and a couple of other officers search the Angry Boar for valuable objects. Haf and Kinry find two interesting objects in the cabin of the English captain:
D6 1. map 4.idol 5.mask 6.jewel 2.BOOK 3.BOX

In a small chest, they find what appear to have been the possessions of a Portuguese phyisician, including a manuscript that appears to be his personal journal and a beautiful inlaid ivory box, decorated with a caduceus and Greek inscriptions. The box is empty.

Which of the two do Haf and Kinry prefer? [50/50] Haf:Book Kinry:Book

Haf tries to COMPEL Kinry in taking the box, leaving the manuscript to him. He tells Kinry that the Greek inscription is a love spell: if an objected belonging to a woman is closed in the box, she will love the owner of the box.
C:8,10 A:6+3(shadow)=9 WEAK HIT
What does Kinry ask in reply: [Oracle: Risk Honour]
Kinry agrees to take the box, but he asks in exchange that Haf swears to help him with an illegal and not exactly honourable mission he is going to attempt while in Isla de la Fuente.

Haf accepts and SWEARS A [Troublesome] VOW on his golden medallion:
C:3,10 A:6+1(Heart)=7 WEAK HIT Momentum+1=6
Haf has no idea of what the mission could be, but he feels things are going well. He almost begins to like Kinry.

That night, Haf begins reading the Portuguese journal. His knowledge of the language is limited, but the author must have been interested in alchemy. He mentions hearing first hand report of the fountain of eternal youth to be in one of the Islas Nuevas. Could this be related with the mythical source of power that Haf is searching? I mark 1 tick progress on Haf’s background vow.

Make Camp C:3,8 A:4+4(supply)=8 WEAK HIT (+1 one next action)
Journey C:5,3 A:5+1(Wits)+1=7 STRONG HIT (Journey progress now 6)

The next morning, they reach the French-ruled island of Placeforte.
SOJOURN C:6,9 A:3+1(Heart)=4 MISS
The French turn out to be hostile. They have to sell the Angry Bear at a very low price: but the damaged English ship is too slow and it’s better to get rid of it anyway.

Journey C:1,10 A:5+1(Wits)=6 WEAK HIT -1 Supply (now 3)
Journey progress: 9


Reach Destination C:1,4 STRONG HIT +2 Health
They reach Isla de la Fuente. The island is ruled by
D6 1,2.France 3,4.England 5,6.Spain = France
With the money gained from selling the Angry Bear, they can buy all what is needed to finish repairing the Rebis, which is now in perfect shape (Ship’s health back to 5).
I mark progress on Haf’s vow to free Miranda (now progress=4)

What is Kinry’s secret and not too honourable mission?
[Oracle: Find Creature] Two months earlier, the wife of the French governor died while giving birth to her first child. [Male of Female? 50/50 Male] Kinry is the true father of the baby and he intends to kidnap it and take it to Roca Larga.

Current situation:
Health:5 Spirit:3 Supply:3 Momentum:6
“Health” of the Rebis: 5
Epic Background Vow: (source of occult power) Progress:0.25
Dangerous Vow (free Miranda) Progress:4
Troublesome Vow (help Kinry kidnap his son) Progress: 0

Goldsworn 3 – the Angry Boar

[An Ironsworn pirate adventure set in the fictional Islas Nuevas archipelago]

Previous Events: Captain’s Haf Moriensen ship, the Rebis, has just arrived to the Roca Larga island from Europe. While Haf and his quartermaster Ithela are in town, Haf’s younger sister Miranda and part of the crew disappear from the ship. The Captain swears a vow to find Miranda. The girl has been imprisoned by Sir Alban Kinry, the English governor of the island: he will free her  after the Rebis has secretly taken him to a nearby island and back.

Main character: Captain Haf Moriensen
Edge:+1 Heart:+1 Iron:+2 Shadows:+3 Wits:+2
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:2

Path – WATERBORN Gather Information, Face Danger and Secure an Advantage at +1 when using water-related knowledge and skills.
Ritual – DIVINATION Gather Information by a blood-form of bibliomancy.
Custom – BATTLESHIP Mighty: Strike and Clash at +1 and to +1 harm in naval combat. Ship Health: 5

Miranda (Haf’s sister) [oracle: a young and kind bandit, i.e. pirate]
Ithela (quartermaster of the Rebis) – an African warrior fond of bone amulets [oracle: a Dangerous and Artistic Hunter]
Morien (Haf’s brother) a Danish occultist and merchant [oracle: Confident and Adventurous]

Other NPCs
Sir Alban Kinry – the jealous and stubborn English governor of Roca Larga

Background Vow: – Epic. Seize an Atlantean source of occult power that must be hidden somewhere in the Islas Nuevas. Progress: 0
Dangerous Vow: Find Miranda. Progress: 0

At midnight, Sir Alban Kinry boards the Rebis.
Is he escorted? [Likely] NO
He is disguised as a pirate, with two pistols and a fake moustache. He asks Captain Moriensen to be introduced to the crew as “Albert”.


At dawn, the Rebis leaves the port.
Is Kinry’s destination really a nearby island? [50/50] YES
They set sails towards Isla de la Fuente, about 200 miles North-West of Roca Larga.

Undertake a [Troublesome] Journey:

Challenge:5,8 Action:1+2(Wits)=3 MISS


In the early afternoon, a pirate ship flying English colours sails towards the Rebis (the purple ship). The Rebis steers to the West, to take advantage of the South-East wind and try to outrun the English ship, but they cannot avoid the fight: a [Dangerous] opponent.

Enter the Fray: Challenge:6,2 | Action:3+1(Heart)=4 WEAK HIT +2 Momentum (=5)
Now that they are closer, Moriensen is not impressed by the strength of the English ship: even if Sir Kinry does not seem happy with the trouble, this could be a good chance to make some money.


Face Danger: Challenge:1,5 | Action:3+2(Wits)+1(Waterborn)=6 STRONG HIT (+1 Momentum=6)
Captain Moriensen orders to lower half of the sails, so they will offer a smaller target. The English, feeling sure that they are now faster than the Rebis, change direction, coming to a momentary stop when taking their ship’s bow through the wind: the position seems perfect to rake the Rebis with a starboard broadside, but they miss their shot. The Danes feel even more confident that they can conquer the English ship.

Strike Miss

Strike: Challenge:6,10 | Action:1+1(Edge)+1(Mighty-Ship)=3 MISS
The Rebis turns Eastward: the Danes can rake the approaching English ship in their turn, but a gush of wind at the critical moment stops their cannonballs short.
Pay the Price: it’s stressful. (Spirit=3)
Endure Stress: Challenge:10,4 Action:5+3(Spirit)=8 Press on
The Captain feels he has given the order too soon: he should have waited for the opponent to be closer. The English are approaching swiftly and Haf has wasted the opportunity of making damage at long range.

Face Danger:
Challenge:7,4 | Action:1+1(Waterborn)+2(Iron)=4 MISS
[Action=1 all damage will be inflicted to the Rebis, -2 Health=3]
The English manage to align the two ships side be side and then fire the port-side guns: they hit the rigs and sails, the Rebis will be even slower now. Three sailors are killed.
Companion Endure Harm – Challenge:7,10 | Action:3+3(Ship’s Health)=6 MISS (-1 Momentum=5)

Captain Moriensen assesses the damages: the hull has not been hit and the crew has already reloaded the starboard-side guns, but now also the English have had the time to do so. The two ships fire at the same moment.


Clash: Challenge:5,5[a match] | Action:6+1(Mighty-Ship)+1(Edge)=8 STRONG HIT
I will count the match as an extra Damage point; Progress from 0 to 10 with a single broadside!
End the Fight: Challenge:5,3 vs 10 STRONG HIT

The English ship either A.Explodes or Immobilized [50/50]: B
The main-mast of the Angry Boar has fallen, badly damaging the fore-mast and killing several pirates. The Rebis can easily manoeuvre to the front of the English ship, threatening it with its guns. The English Captain (Brian Reese) and his crew are glad to yield their ship and all their belongings in exchange of their lives: after helping fix the fore-mast of their ship and being searched one by one for valuable objects, the surviving Englishmen leave on board of two small boats.

Ithela takes command of the Angry Boar, together with half the crew of the Rebis, and the two ships continue their journey, with great satisfaction of Sir Kinry.
Undertake a [Troublesome] Journey: Challenge:5,3 Action:2+2(Wits)=4 WEAK HIT (Progress=3)
At dusk, they reach a desert islet only ten miles South of the French-ruled Placeforte island. They find the Angry Board totally lacking in provisions: the celebration for their victory is at the expenses of their supplies (-1=4).

Current situation:
Health:5 Spirit:3 Supply:4 Momentum:5
“Health” of the Rebis: 3
Epic Background Vow: (source of occult power) Progress:0
Dangerous Vow (free Miranda) Progress:2
Journey to Isla de la Fuente, Progress:3

Goldsworn 2 – Sir Kinry’s trick

[An Ironsworn pirate adventure set in the fictional Islas Nuevas archipelago]

Previous Events: Captain’s Haf Moriensen ship, the Rebis, has just arrived to the Roca Larga island from Europe. While Haf and his quartermaster Ithela are in town, Haf’s young sister Miranda and part of the crew disappear from the ship.

Main character: Captain Haf Moriensen
Edge:+1 Heart:+1 Iron:+2 Shadows:+3 Wits:+2
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:2

Path – WATERBORN Gather Information, Face Danger and Secure an Advantage at +1 when using water-related knowledge and skills.
Ritual – DIVINATION Gather Information by a blood-form of bibliomancy.
Custom – BATTLESHIP Mighty: Strike and Clash at +1 and to +1 harm in naval combat.

Miranda (Haf’s sister) [oracle: a young and kind bandit, i.e. pirate]
Ithela (quartermaster of the Rebis) – an African warrior fond of bone amulets [oracle: a Dangerous and Artistic Hunter]
Morien (Haf’s brother) a Danish occultist and merchant [oracle: Confident and Adventurous]

Background Vow: – Epic. Seize an Atlantean source of occult power that must be hidden somewhere in the Islas Nuevas.

On the deck of the Rebis, in front of the whole crew, Haf vows to find his sister: he solemnly swears on a golden sun-shaped medallion.

[This will be a Dangerous quest]
Swear an Iron Vow: Challenge:8,6 Action:5+1(Heart)+1(bond)=7
Weak hit: +1 Momentum.

Haf his determined, but he has no hint of what to do. He and Ithela are preparing to use blood-divination to find out more, when a guard summons the Captain to the palace of Sir Alban Kinry, the English governor of Roca Larga.

Kinry is a [oracle: jealous and stubborn] man. He tells Haf he has his sister and sailors. The men will be immediately returned but, before freeing Miranda, he has a small favour to ask.
[goal oracle: Travel to a place]
He must go to a nearby island, only a couple of days away [a Troublesome journey], and must do so in total secrecy. A newly arrived Danish ship that nobody knows is perfect and the Rebis seems swift and well-armed. They will leave the next day. Kinry will only stay at his destination for one day: they will be back in less than one week. Haf can only agree to this “proposal” (I mark 2 progress on the new vow) and the governor can be a useful ally for the future. Haf’s men are immediately freed and they confirm that they and Miranda have been treated well.

Current situation:
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:3
Epic Background Vow: (source of occult power) Progress:0
Dangerous Vow (free Miranda) Progress:2

Amara of Whitebridge 7 – Redhall

[An Ironsworn adventure in the Ironlands. I have played these fights with the Song of Blades and Heroes ruleset by Ganesha Games. Larger battles are played with the Ancient One Hour Wargames rules by Neil Thomas]

Main character: Amara
Edge:+1 Heart:+3 Iron:+2 Shadow:+2 Wits:+1
Health:3 Spirit:2 Supply:1 Momentum:7

Place Whitebrige – a riverside village
NW Haven (near the center of the Ironlands)

Martial Focus – BRAWLER Secure an Advantage by engaging in close-quarters brawling.
Ritual – AUGUR Summon a murder of crows and ask a single question.
Path – HERBALIST Heal people using herbal remedies.

Deshi (Amara’s father) [oracle: stingy and manipulative forager]
Lestara (Whitebridge overseer) [oracle: generous and powerful healer]
Quinn (Amara’s cousin) strong and dumb warrior
Lago – an attractive and friendly warrior from Redhall

Other NPCs:
Zura – a warrior from Whitebridge who wants to replace Lestara as overseer
Kaivan – the son of the Stoneford healer
Lona – Lago’s sister, another Redhall prominent warrior

Background Vow: – Extreme. When Amara’s father Deshi was overseer, he started a feud with the nearby Stoneford community (another village on the same river, twenty miles NE of Whitebridge). Amara intends to mend the conflict started by her father. Progress: 0.5
Vow: – Dangerous. Let Lestara be overseer for the next seven years. Progress:2

Previous events: Amara, Quinn and the crossbowman Delos attack a group of broken that are raiding the area. The heroes are defeated. The overseer Lestara harshly critiques Amara’s initiative, which ended in favouring Lestara’s rival Zura. Amara, Quinn and Delos leave Whitebridge heading for Stoneford. The Stoneford river-idol is stolen and the heroes join the villagers in the hunt for the thieves, but the idol was stolen by the Makari, a mysterious invading army, as a diversion to help in the occupation of Stoneford. The party joins a successful counter attack against the Makari: the leader is the friendly Lago of Redhall – it’s love at first sight with Amara. Amara, Quinn, Delos and Lago travel towards Whitebridge where the Makari, with the help of Zura, have imprisoned Lestara. They free Lestara, but Lago and Quinn fall in the fierce fight with the Makari. Lestara has more bad news: the trolls are going to join the Makari in their invasion of Northern Haven.


Amara, Lestara and Delos leave from Whitebridge heading for Redhall, a troublesome journey.

Undertake a Journey: Challenge:1,4 Action:2+1(Wits)=3 weak hit
They are at 0 supply: unprepared

They proceed: Challenge:4,2 Action:2+1=3 Weak Hit. -1 momentum (now 6)

Challenge:7,3 Action:1+1=2 MISS. Pay the price: the journey takes extra time. -1 momentum (5)

Challenge: 3,1 Action:1+1=2 Weak Hit

Reach your destination – Challenge:3,9 Progress:9 Weak Hit

They reach Redhall, but there is some trouble going on.
[Oracle 7 – Settlement Trouble] Rival settlement
Lona, Lago’s sister that Amara hoped to befriend, will be away for a while. She has been sent to the rival settlement of Longlake to negotiate a truce and possible an alliance to face together the Makari.

Can the heroes “sojourn” in Redhall? [likely] YES

Sojourn: Challenge:1,10 Action:2+3(Heart)=5 Weak Hit
The “unprepared” condition is cleared and they take +2 supply (now 2)

Amara, with the help of Lestara, tries to forge a bond with Maya, Redhall overseer and mother of Lago and Lona.
Forge a bond – Challenge:3,2 Action:1+3(Heart)=4 Strong Hit
(+2 Spirit, now at 4)

Maya asks Amara to travel South, to the forest were the twin sisters Varena and Purena live. They are said to be great sorcerers and an authority among the Broken. The task is again to build a temporary alliance: with the help of the Broken, it could be possible to free Whitebridge from the Makari, hopefully rescuing Lago and Quinn, if they are still alive. Amara will travel with her loyal companion Delos and two Redhall warriors, while Lestara will remain in Redhall. The new bond with the Redhall overseer brings 2 progress in the Vow of having Lestara being overseer of Whitebridge for the next seven years.

Finding Varena and Purena will be a Formidable Journey.
Undertake a journey: Challenge:4,1 Action:1+1(Wits)=2 Weak Hit
(-1 supply, now at 1) Progress:1

The party decides to resupply.
Challenge:6,10 Action:2+1(Wits)=3 MISS – In the next session, there will be fight.

Current situation:
Health:3 Spirit:4 Supply:1 Momentum:5
Background Vow, Extreme: (alliance with Stoneford) Progress:0.5
Vow, Dangerous: (have Lestara oversee for the next years) Progress:4


6 Years of Solo Games

On January 28 2012 I published my first post on this blog.


It’s six years since then and I thought this could be a good time for some retrospective reflection. I published 185 posts, initially in Italian, then switching to English. I don’t remember which system I used for my first posts: they seem to be pure map-based world building. In these early experiments I already sketched simple drawings of my characters: something I have continued doing with all the different settings and games I have played. Later experiments with this initial fantasy setting (the “Albus” world) included Mythic, John Fiore’s 9Qs and Two Hours Wargames “Chain Reaction”.

I tried a few games of 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars. While I loved the idea of drawing planet portraits, the game proved too “rail-roaded” for my taste.

In April 2012, I invested 5 Eur in the plastic army men I still use for my games. I must have played a hundred games with a dozen different rule-sets with these guys! These could easily have been the best spent 5 Euros in my life.

There was a long gap in my games lasting until September 2014. When I resumed playing, I was still blogging in Italian, but I had discovered Five Core by Ivan Soresen. My first games with this system were about Italian partisans in ww2.

I then switched to English and to a different setting (cold war fights on Mars: Red Planet 58). The campaign started with Ivan’s Five Core, but I later switched to Pulp Alley.

Red Planet was possibly my most extensive campaign. I also experimented with using a board game (Patrol Lost) to create game maps and that was the subject of my first Lone Wolf Roleplaying G+ post. I got a new set of soldiers (10mm, this time) and started collecting old toy cars I buy at flea markets.

The most ambitious project in 2015 was a solo go at Lady Blackbird: a simple RPG with an amazing setting. I played 10 sessions with the game, but I was bogged down by the relatively high number of PCs. Too many open threads, in the end. The sessions I remember more fondly are those based on Chris Stieha’s RND random zine.

I also played a few Dungeon games with the delightful Dungeon Squad II by Jason Morningstar.

For #SGAM2015, I started the Weirdgate 88 project: a silly setting of soldiers vs robots vs monsters which I mostly used to play with plastic toys and WarStuff, by One Page Rules.

I experimented more with isometric maps with both 3D toy soldiers and paper flats. One of the first applications was to ancient skirmishes with Song of Shadows and Dust by Ganesha Games. “Isometric 2.5D” is a style of play that I greatly enjoy: I think I will revisit it in the future.

In 2017 I made a new ambitious go at solo RPGs, with a campaign based on Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance (Eve of Tschai). It was very free-form, with ample use of paper minis and isometric sketches. I left the campaign in a much better state than Lady Blackbird (having a single protagonist is clearly more manageable for me). I might decide to continue this campaign, some day. The idea of exploring a world that is only partially known is of the greatest appeal. I am particularly proud of the Tschai globe I created at the start of the campaign.

The rest of the year mostly was about skirmish games with Chain Reaction by Two Hour Wargames, the bug-hunting Stay Frosty RPG by Casey G (for SGAM, still in the Weirdgate setting) and, finally, a go at the WW2 hex-based wargame Valor and Victory, with a return to the Italian resistance and scenarios inspired by One Hour Wargames (a book by Neil Thomas).

So what was this all about? Is it possible to see patterns with a few years of perspective?

All in all, I guess there are three recurring themes. In order of increasing “gaming” ambition:

    • War War II (in particular, in Italy). I now realise this is a period I am interested in from a historical point of view. I love books and movies about the subject. In my opinion, that was the last time that Europe went through something really epic. My games, however simple and silly, are a way to get in touch with the terribly meaningful events of those times. Anyway, this theme obviously lends itself to a structured “wargaming” approach, with specific rules and scenarios.
    • While WW2 is history, my games often deviate towards a lighter SF variant (cold war on Mars, or army vs monsters). Rule-wise, this can be the same as WW2, but obviously the underlying story is less constrained, which makes games more challenging from my point of view.
    • The most challenging projects have been those closer to proper role-playing/world building. It was interesting to re-discover that this was the subject of my very first posts. This is the area I am less comfortable with: the total freedom and the need to rely on random oracles instead of “facts” risk to put me off or entrap me in inconsistency and overly complex plots. My most successful attempts in this line have been in the context of solid (however imaginary) settings: Lady Blackbird and Jack Vance.



In my disorderly way, I cover the whole span from pure wargaming to free-form role-games, I guess that I will often find myself exploring the middle ground: skirmish games with some kind of background story. We will see. At the moment, I have no definite plan, but the near-term one of finishing my Valor and Victory + Ironsworn Sicily ww2 campaign.

Road to Xyzab 2 – Tentacles and anarchy

Second episode of my #SGAM2017 Stay Frosty game also using Zach Best’s UNE scifi-flavoured by Todd Zircher.

Previous Events: Gammon (an Infantry veteran) and Rhyne (a psychic) have been ordered to investigate an alien demon-trap in Xyzab. The squad also includes two goons. They are soon confronted by aliens and bugs: Gammon and the goons are wounded.

Board 3: the area includes a larger building at the North. The squad soon spots a giant octopus [8 HD, multiple attacks, double damage] slowly moving towards them down the stairs from the roof of the building (PEF 1). The second PEF resolves as Tension Explodes! One of goons fails his save and goes apeshit: he turns his back and runs away! The third PEF increasing Tension (now Tension level is 1).


The three remaining guys shoot at the monster octopus. As they do so, they hear someone crying for help from inside the building. Rhyne’s shot is perfectly aimed and hits the beast in an eye [critical hit]: for a moment it seems to have been killed, but it’s just stunned. The squad moves closer and Gammon throws a grenade causing huge damage to the beast, kill it takes another round of shots from the whole team.


When the reddish horror finally stands still, the squad cautiously enter the building. They find a guy locked in the room [I rolled #8 on my table of pre-canned UNE NPCs].


8 plebeian repairman
Power level is: Comparable [3 HD]
Motivations are: overthrow opulence
embrace harmony
realize lust
Conversation mood is: neutral
NPC bearing is: insane – chaos
Conversation seeds: news, air, force, result, country

Tao is an eminent member of AAAA (Anti Alien Anarchist Association). The psychic tortures of the aliens seem to have traumatised him: he seems unable to think and speak clearly. Apparently, he was imprisoned by the collaborationists, who planned to trade him for one of their leaders captured by the Earthlings. Tao says he can lead the squad to  an alien-controlled building that might be where the demon-trap his. He also has news of the forthcoming arrival of a horde of flying bugs. Gammon contacts the HQ asking if they should trust Tao’s incoherent ramblings [FU RPG die 6 YES AND]: affirmative! The HQ also points out that Tao’s safety is vital: they expect him to know a huge amount of useful information.

Tao – An Anti-Alien Anarchist

Road to Xyzab 1 – Gammon and Rhyne

I have generated two characters for my #SGAM2017 Stay Frosty games. My squad consists of these two main characters and a couple of goons / red jackets.
The setting is what I have been using during the last year or so: Earth is under attack through some alien space-gates. The invading army includes snail-like and giant anthropomorphic giants as well as dinosaurs and giant bugs (whatever plastic toys I can grab): the aliens are supported by humans that are simply called “collaborationists”.


Here are the two heroes:

Lt. Rhyne – Psychic (3rd level)

HP: 11
Brains 8+; Brawn: 12+; DEX:10+; Willpower: 8+
Armed with a pistol
Powers: Cloud Mind; Mind Stab; Telepathy

I generated this profile using Zach Best’s UNE scifi-flavoured by Todd Zircher.

Character type is: cunning actor
Motivations are: possess family, assist force, discover pride
Conversation mood is cautious
Bearing is inquisitive – demand
Conversation seeds: case, team, law, name, space

Rhyne is a deceptive guy. He is good at hiding his feeling and his thoughts. We can assume that he is loyal to the cause of the Earthlings, but he could surprise us. Actually, Rhyne is quite selfish. His main goal is surviving the war so that he can make a family and be on his own.

Private Gammon – veteran Infantry soldier (3rd level)

HP: 15
Brains 11+; Brawn: 9+; DEX:9+; Willpower: 12

Armed with rifle and grenades

Character type is: needy bodyguard

Motivations are: contact criminals, plunder freedom, distress pride

Conversation mood is cautious
Bearing is hostile – rage

Conversation seeds day, hour, family, service, level+

Gammon is one of the few people who get along well with Rhyne. He also is not the talkative type. He is fond of his work in the army: it gives him a socially acceptable way to channel his anger. His main responsibility is the safety of Rhyne, whose psychic powers are extremely valuable: Gammon is sure that by keeping Rhyne alive he will gain much credit with his superior officers. He is is eager to see his value explicitly recognized by others.

The mission

Stay Frosty mission generator suggested: [Investigate Artefact]
I used the Game Master’s apprentice Deck to get additional details: [Trap Eternal Daemon]

Gammon and Rhyne must reach the small village of Xyzab. They will have to acquire information about an alien device that is meant to capture a very powerful star-being, making his power available to the snail aliens as an additional weapon against the Earthlings.

First Session

Three snail aliens!

Board 1: the team is on the road to Xyzab! [I play on each board three white PEF -Potential Enemy Force- markers; I resolve each with a Danger Die roll].
The first roll is Consumable Depleted and has no effect.
The second roll is an encounter! I roll several enemies with a total of 6 HD. I go for three snail aliens, 3 HD each. The aliens attack with their psychic eye-rays and hit both the goons. Gammon and the goons respond effectively and take down the aliens.
Third roll: Tension explodes! Since tension was only 1, it barely has any effect.


Board 2: The first two PEFs are Stress (Tension now +2). The third PEF is another hostile encounter (Tension +3). These turn out to be two nasty armoured bugs, dealing double damage. The cockroach is 3HD strong, the grasshopper 2HD. Gammon moves to his left to face the cockroach. Rhyne uses his Mind Stab power against the grasshopper, but fails [he will not be able to use the power again before resting]. The goons kill the grasshopper, but in the meantime Gammon has a hard time fighting the cockroach: the bug reaches him; Gammon hits, but the bug inflicts him 10 hit points of damage! The goons join forces with Gammon and, after a long hand to hand fight, manage to kill it.

Gammon is badly wounded. The goons more lightly wounded. Rhyne is OK, but he cannot use Mind Stab.