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Episode 3 – Constantinople:

April 4th: Thyri and Edmondo’s new galley makes better time heading into the wind than Pironti’s cog, so they make it to Constantinople a day ahead of the rest. The surviving pirates, newly converted to Christianity, decide staying in your service beats being left stranded and penniless in a hostile foreign country where they don’t speak the language. Edmondo checks in with his Church contacts, while Thyri sells the ship for a tidy profit and then disappears…

 

April 5th: Pironti’s ship arrives, and Edmondo links up with Aeddan, Abida & Geralt. You learn that the Emperor Basil is in the field with the Imperial Army at Antioch. You find Thyri beating the crap out of some Varangian Guard for information on some people she’s looking for, which is apparently how she’s spent the last 24 hours; you keep her from killing the Varangian and getting arrested. Edmondo takes Aeddan & Geralt to a bath house to meet with the Archbishop of Milan, who is here trying to arrange a marriage between (Western) Emperor Otto III and a Byzantine princess. They discuss local church politics: the Patriarch of Constantinople has passed away, and several clergymen are vying to succeed him.

 

Thyri & Abida go to a cock fight, where they run into “co-Emperor” Constantine VIII, Emperor Basil’s younger brother – a hedonistic fool with no political power or responsibilities. Thyri makes out with Constantine, and then they leave him hanging with the 11th Century equivalent of “Call Me.”

 

April 6th: The next day, Archbishop Arnulf arranges for you all to formally meet with Constantine in his box at the Hippodrome. Everyone is surprised to learn that Thyri and Constantine already know one another, and they [ahem] renew their acquaintance while Edmondo regales everyone with the (somewhat embellished) story of your battle with the pirates. Abida talks with Constantine’s daughter, Princess Zoe Porphyrogenita ("born in the purple"), and sells her on the idea of marrying Emperor Otto; the deal is sealed and Zoe is formally betrothed to Otto.

 

Meanwhile, Aeddan and Geralt spot a strange, charismatic-looking foreigner in the stands who they noticed preaching in the Forum yesterday. Asking around, they learn he is Radhames an Envoy from Prince Kor. He presented Constantine with a Concubine – a mesmerizing young woman named Suren – and in return has been given the right to preach “the Gospel of Kor” in the City. Word is that Kor’s army is SE of the Caspian Sea moving against the Ghaznavid Empire and/or the Buyid Emirates – which, if true, might indicate that his military strength is greater than you had believed.

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9 Sessions in, here are some random thoughts/observations on how things are going, some specific to this campaign, and some applicable to fantasy gaming more generally:

 

Tl:dr - everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. After last week's game, two players were debating whether that session was the Best Game Session Ever, or only in their personal Top 10. So I'll take that as a win! (Who knew being captured and tortured by the Antichrist wound be such a crowd-pleaser?)

 

One challenge has been that roughly half the PCs are outdoorsey types with poor social skills, and the other half are urban-social characters with poor outdoorsey skills. So when we're in the city doing political intrigue, half the players are bored/useless, and when we're on the road/wilderness, the other half are bored/useless. So I'm working harder to bridge that gap and keep everyone engaged at the same time.

 

As I've alluded to elsewhere, the lack of a common tongue has been more of a pain in the butt than I expected. Aside from several info-dumps almost getting completely missed due to language differences, I think it's made some of the players feel a step removed from the action when they can't talk to the NPCs directly. So I've gained a new appreciation for that RPG trope.

 

The thing about low-fantasy games is: once you let the PCs have magic, they're going to expect to use it regularly. As well they should - they paid points for them, after all. But it's harder to maintain the feel of "magic is this really rare thing" when literally every combat includes at least one verifiable miracle. I'm moving into acceptance on this one - nothing I can do about it now without nerfing entire character concepts.

 

Along similar lines, in hindsight I kinda wish I'd been more restrictive about the use of magical Healing. Harder to keep things gritty when the Priest heals everybody's wounds as soon as the battle is over. But the idea was to use Biblical miracles as the basis, and particularly in the NT 90% of them were some form of healing.

 

Another thing about low fantasy games is it can be really hard to work in things from a PC's backstory - family dynamics, clan politics, etc - when they're all 2000+ miles from home. I thought of that in terms of whether or not something is worth a Complication, but it also has I think made it harder for a couple players to get into character because their backstories just don't come up as often.

 

The problem with prophecies (like the Book of Revelation and its equivalent passages in the Quoran): if things play out exactly as prophesied, then there are no surprises. And if things don't follow the script exactly, then you have subverted/nullified the prophecy. "As It Was Foretold" has always been my least-favorite literary device, and frankly this has only reinforced that for me.

 

Google Earth and the Internet generally are a godsend for historical games! "So what does the terrain north of us look like?" "I dunno, let's take a look..." (Mostly doing that between games, not actually at the table.) Similarly, being able to pull up paintings of what 11th Century Constantinople actually looked like really makes things feel more real and lived in.

 

For someone whose knowledge of medieval history has been very Europe-centric, researching what's going on east of the Bosporus has been highly educational. I mean I knew 11th century Europe was basically a backwater, but I hadn't fully appreciated just how much. The further east they travel it's like moving forward in time several centuries. And I keep looking into areas that in my mind were blank spots on the map, and finding out actually it's been highly settled and developed for 2000 years at this point. Sobering to realize just how selective my education has been.

 

And after struggling to pronounce actual Arabic names like Mahmud bin Sebuktigin, and Abol-Hasan Qābūs ibn Wušmagīr ibn Ziyar Sams al-maʿālī, I will never again make fun of fantasy authors for their unpronounceable names.

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Along similar lines, in hindsight I kinda wish I'd been more restrictive about the use of magical Healing. Harder to keep things gritty when the Priest heals everybody's wounds as soon as the battle is over. But the idea was to use Biblical miracles as the basis, and particularly in the NT 90% of them were some form of healing.

 

 

 

To be fair, the disciples who followed Christ saw lots of miracles that He performed, but the general public did not see them.

 

Hence the PC's are the disciples seeing the miracles and being part of history...  Just a different view for you

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Fun Fact! The terms Faerie and Fae are actually from the later middle ages, and aren't in use in the 11th Century.

 

Among the Norse/Germans/Anglo-Saxons, they're the Alfir or Elves.

To the Irish & Scottish, they're the Aos sí or Sidhe ("people of the mounds").

To the Welsh, they're known as the Tylwyth Teg ("fair family”).

In Slavic/Russian lands, they're called the Villa.

Greco-Roman culture doesn't have Elves per se, but the Nymphs are probably the closest parallel.

 

I decided to go with "Fey" as the name they call themselves.

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On ‎7‎/‎14‎/‎2016 at 5:11 PM, bigdamnhero said:

Heh, I can't believe I didn't catch this before, but Prince Kor, Steve's version of the Antichrist in Post-Apoc Hero, is built on 666 points. :rofl:

Sounds like a sicks sicks sicks joke.

On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2016 at 11:05 AM, bigdamnhero said:

Fun Fact! The terms Faerie and Fae are actually from the later middle ages, and aren't in use in the 11th Century.

 

Among the Norse/Germans/Anglo-Saxons, they're the Alfir or Elves.

To the Irish & Scottish, they're the Aos sí or Sidhe ("people of the mounds").

To the Welsh, they're known as the Tylwyth Teg ("fair family”).

In Slavic/Russian lands, they're called the Villa.

Greco-Roman culture doesn't have Elves per se, but the Nymphs are probably the closest parallel.

 

I decided to go with "Fey" as the name they call themselves.

Don't stop there - do the player characters go to the fey world or what?

Lucius Alexander

The palindromedary says they could have a fay old time

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On 10/31/2017 at 6:17 PM, Lucius said:

Don't stop there - do the player characters go to the fey world or what?

They did, a couple times actually. Tldr...

 

In an early adventure, they had saved a couple of kids from a pack of wolves; it turned out the kids were fey, so it earned them some Faerie Karma Points.

 

Several sessions later, they were on the run from the Antichrist's forces outside of Rey (modern-day Tehran), ducked into a cave to hide...and came out in Faerie. (Faerie Karma Payback.) They spent a few days in a nearby fey village recovering from their wounds, made some new friends, and underwent a few friendly challenges: an archery contest, a swords duel, a footrace, and a story-telling contest. They also volunteered to find The Lost Swords Of The Fey somewhere in the world of men and return them to their new fey friends. Oh, and they killed a couple fomorians, as you do.

 

One of the PCs took his new fey girlfriend as a Contact, so she has popped up a few times since then.

 

Several sessions later, they managed to recover the two McGuffins swords and return them to the fey - which will have consequences down the road a bit. They also accidentally started a war between the fey and the fomorians, which will also have consequences down the road!

 

Our last session, they needed to get from Ireland to Italy in a hurry, so they decided to take a "shortcut" through faerie. It remains to be seen how that's going to work out for them... :eg:

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