Godbound is a d20 joint from Sine Nomine with no classes, feat-like powers and a spin on hit-dice that allow players to kick bad-ass monsters and the world they inhabit straight in the teeth. Like Stars Without Number, it has inspiring tables to help the sandbox GM to make things, both the night before and at the table in a pinch.
I sent the players the one word blurbs on the Nations of the Realm and they chose Vissio, which is essentially a quasi-Renaissance Italy with scheming merchant princes, fine artists, clockwork limbs and poets. I wrote up some notes on Maltesta and claimed an island right off the Vissian coast as ours. The way the book is laid out, each nation is laid out on its own single page. That is really handy.
The night before, I rolled up on the court charts, fleshing out the Malatesta Nobility, the local cathedral and the merchants behind the local slave trade. At the end of chargen, we had a member of a secret society of assassins whose dad Duke Claudio Malatesta. We had a former pit fighter whose mother freed her from slavery through blood and sweat and now led a gang, the Laughing Priests. And to round it out, we had a majestic gargoyle.
I started the game during a masque ball at the castle and started pushing buttons. We had some quick combats with mortals which was a nice way to show how fragile mortals were to them. Even with some bad dice luck, humans were fragile. After a whole session, we found out how fragile society was when a pantheon of demi-gods start throwing their weight around.
I rolled up the 3 courts (Malatesta aristocrats, the local slavers and the church hierarchy in the local cathedral) but went in with a few ideas. Here were the things lurking in the background of the game as it went on:
- The Malatesta family has a tarrasque under the castle that they can kinda-sorta control…or at least they can send it after someone at great cost. It is up to the church to call it back.
- The local slave traders are fighting off being bought out by a Bright Republic corporate interest.
- The duke’s vizier has an Efreet bound to him.
- The Cathedral can call upon an angel that will inhabit a beautiful statue made of marble and gold and do divine will stuff.
Before the game, I asked Aaron if he had the Monster Manual, the Monster Manual 2 and the Field Folio handy. He did (of course he did).
We warmed up with the Pit-fighter vs. 2 gladiators…the gargoyle vs. an assassin…the assassin vs. another assassin and we’d rolled some dice against humans, fragile, puny all-too-mortal humans. Someone was trying to have Claudio killed and honestly, if the assassin hadn’t been her daughter, he wouldn’t have lived through that first night.
Or as she put it, “Dad, you are making it really hard to keep you alive right now.”
The first real legit combat was against the Efreet and it was fun. The way damage works means Hit Dice = Hit points at the scale we’re operating on. So when the Efreet doled out some damage and didn’t fall to the first round of attacks while sneering, “I’m not handing out any wishes today,” the gargoyle used a power granted to him for having the Earth Word of Power. He blew out the floor, dropping the Efreet right on to the Tarrasque who was slumbering in the caverns beneath the caves where they were fighting.
For a big fight with the Angel statue I grabbed the weakest angel template out of the Godbound book and proceeded to eff the pantheon (Godbound’s term for party/posse/fellowship/troupe/etc.) up. Goliath the Gargoyle made some brutal decisions with his miracle powers and nearly killed the angel in one shot. I had the angel concentrate all 3 attacks, describing the angel’s actions, “It says if you want the spear, you can have it, throws the golden spear at you and proceeds to pummel you with its marble fists.”
The dice told us that we had a dead gargoyle…but…BUT he had the Earth Word and that means that nothing stone can harm him. He took the first die of damage from the spear but the rest didn’t go off. The assassin killed the angel with a bow-shot. There was a cool description of her going into her quiver and finding an arrow she’d never seen before, with a Tarrasque horn tip.
By the end of the session, the group had leveled up to 2nd level. They spent their Influence and Dominion and ended slavery on Malatesta Island. With 3 godlings at the table, combats become fun fast without being overly complicated or slow. I’d be curious to see how things would shake out once I got more adept at making antagonists and the players got more adept at using their powers together.
IIf this game were to continue (I played with friends I was visiting from out of town) I’d be looking at fiery creatures and thinking about the City of Brass (the Efreet they fought got away, after all) and visiting other planes through the Night Roads. I’d be curious to see what kind of cults the characters start up – see what their religions look like as they become more and more godlike. The pantheon would have to figure out how they are going to deal with the Tarrasque that they managed to get shoved back into its cave.
I want to roll on the courts charts and make a Demon Lord’s Hell-planes and an ancient dragon’s spy ring and an invading army of Githyanki. I want to look at the local map and seed some parasite gods, some made gods and other fun stuff from the book.
Essentially, like any good game book – after playing it and read it over, I want to play more Godbound.
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