Hunt Rolls in Trophy Gold – part perception roll, part random encounter roll

Hunt Rolls in Trophy Gold – part perception roll, part random encounter roll

3 gold coins, a stag with a fire between its antlers and a hunting dagger - how I think of Trophy Gold....

I was explaining what Hunt rolls did in Trophy Gold and described them as part perception roll, part random encounter roll but they offer a little more than that. On rolls of 1-5 the result is the character encounters something terrible. Lots of wiggle room there. The situation at hand guides what it means and offers space for the GM to find out through play.

Old Sword Subject Divider
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1942.552

Character, who is fae-born, is searching through a sarcophagus in the ancient king’s barrow. They’ve used their skill with spirits to speak to the ghost of the ancient king who is buried there and know that the king’s corpse is under a false bottom. The king was legit and the placement of the treasure is actually in the adventure description.

But still, the character describes searching through the treasure and I ask for a Hunt roll. This isn’t to decide if the treasure is there; we already know it is there. This isn’t to see if the ghoul is hiding there; the ghoul is already slain (probably could’ve tossed in an extra ghoul but that feels off to me). The roll says the player gets a Hunt Token and encounters something terrible. Hm.

I realize something about the king, who had asked that the treasure-hunters leave him his crown so that future folk know that he is a mighty king buried here. The king hunted fae-born and their skulls and masks adorn his coffin. That is the terrible thing encountered, something upsetting and unsettling to the character. I had described the king’s crown as being iron adored with jewels – the iron crown was a symbol of fae-hunters, I now realize.

The character takes the crown and takes the fae-born skulls and masks to bury in the forest. “Leave the body here, crownless, so folk will think this barrow belonging to a commoner.”

This detail about the king is just white-space on the map that I got to fill in through dice results and play.

If the player had rolled a 6, maybe they’d want to use that Hunt token for an extra treasure. “The king was holding out on you and didn’t tell you about the signet ring in his boot.” Maybe not. Either way, I use the Hunt roll to learn new details to put on the bones of the adventure as I know it. The bones don’t change but the details do.

Old Sword Subject Divider
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1942.552

I’m enjoying the Hunt roll as a tool for getting dice to the table whenever a player uses their character to show curiosity. I often ask what that search looks like before rolling and move from there. As the dice say, in Trophy Gold, you’ll offer encounter something terrible – be it a ghoul in a barrow or the skulls of lost ancestors, that is up to the logic of the table.

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4 – Buzz, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

4 – Buzz, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

I had read an incursion that had themes that fit this group all too well. I decided to pitch it to them in-game to see if they were interested in doing some work for the Governor of Ft. Durhin.

Roots of Old Kalduhr title pic

Beams of light streak down on subterranean stone with a climber in front of a faceless statue of a Lost Sister in a cyclopean alcove.
https://trophyrpg.com/

The group got back from their first foray into the Roots of Old Kalduhr, set up a household and took a side-job.

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a
Moments
Ancient and worn gold coin with Trophy Gold written above it.

Their established household is a tree-house, taken from the Old Kalduhr and planted where an old shack used to stand. Jim’s idea and I dig it, bringing the creepy forest to them.

Ancient and worn gold coin

Aaron described Kel’s ruin as having more to do with his headspace than with wounds, so he sparred with Delinia Alger, the head of the Governor’s Kingsguard to clear his head. She asked if they wanted to do a scouting mission for the Governor, looking into what was driving refugees from Wellslode. They said yes and so the incursion, A Heart Hums in Darkness by Michael Van Vleet began.

Ancient and worn gold coin

The Governor offered them 3 Coin when they returned and would pay for the burden of any extra Hirelings they wanted to take on. They hired reliable Aksil once again, reassuring him that Baso was leaving Tortoise, the Dollem construct from the Orphan Villa, in the household to guard it while they were gone. “They bees follow the Queen of Millions, some kind of queen bee-thing.”

The Governor offered to double the money if they could kill the bees’ queen and 4 Coin total if they could get the bees to agree to move.

Ancient and worn gold coin

Aksil had mentioned that he had heard some adventurer-types had burned down the Humming Woods, leading to the bees invading Wellslode. Baso followed up and asked the governor some questions about it and ended with, “Any idea where we can find those adventurers?” I asked for a Hunt Roll and he got a good ole “encounter something terrible.”

“Yeah, Stefan, was a part of that posse that lit fire to the Humming Wood and he’s been camping by the wells for a while now.” Knowing something terrible was waiting out there for them, Kel and Pela wanted nothing to do with that but Baso grabbed Tortoise and headed over.

Yeah, Stefan was a beeswax construct, taken right out of the Incursion. It seemed the obvious thing. They talked to the Stefan Construct, who parroted shit back to them. Baso wanted to bring the construct with them but no one else was having it. They left with the beeswax construct standing guard outside the door, Tortoise inside, arms folded. Was Tortoise glaring at the beeswax construct? Surely that is your imagination…

Ancient and worn gold coin

At the edge of Wellslode, three constructs in militia livery were outside of a cheese shop. Kel immediately wanted to see if they were constructs and got an “encounter something terrible,” so the three constructs looked exactly like the characters.

Ancient and worn gold coin

Another encounter-something-terrible led to an elderly refugee leaning against the tree, holding his belongings in a blanket, to be crying honey, complaining of hearing the Hum in his head. Kel lost his composure a bit and demanded to know if the beeswax trio had something to do with the old man’s condition. They pleaded ignorance. Did Pela say last rites over the man? I’ll ask next game.

We ended with the constructs agreeing to take the treasure-hunters to the Queen of Millions as long as they left the torches that Baso was making from the cheese shop’s cheese-cloth behind. Baso went into the shop, put the torches in his bag and claimed he left them inside. Off they went…

Devil's Bargain with a scary black and white stag with a flame above its head between its horns.

Devil’s Bargains from this session:

I think it was all Hunt rolls this session, no Risk Rolls yet.

What is a Devil’s Bargain, you ask? From the book:

Treasure-hunters laugh at danger, fueled by the folly of their pride. But failure nips at their heels, waiting
for the perfect moment to strike. When you gather dice to make a Risk Roll, the gm or any other player
can offer you a bonus light die if you accept a Devil’s Bargain from them. Common Devil’s Bargains include:

Causing collateral damage or unintended harm 

Getting lost or separated from your companions

Sacrificing an item or piece of treasure

Betraying a fellow treasure-hunter
Attracting unwanted attention

The Devil’s Bargain occurs regardless of the outcome of the roll. You make the deal, pay the price, and get the bonus die. The Devil’s Bargain is always a free choice. If you don’t like one, just reject it (or suggest how to alter it so you might consider taking it).

Anyone may veto or suggest alterations to a proposed Devil’s Bargain, especially if it would also impact their treasure-hunter. You may only offer and accept Devil’s Bargains when making a Risk Roll.
https://trophyrpg.com/
Bestiary with Trophy Gold and Trophy Dark symbols embossed on the worn leather of an ancient looking tome.

Bestiary

We do need to name the Beeswax constructs…

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: Baso is leaning into the folk horror creepiness – having Tortoise do dances while he tells stories to the children about the glory of violence. Pela

Ready for Next Week: I’ve got the rest of this adventure ready but I’ll look it over one more time.

More?

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Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

This session was played via Zoom on 5/6/2022

Hirelings 2: The Creepy Lot

Hirelings 2: The Creepy Lot

“I don’t trust them, though. They court danger. And they’re quite unscrupulous graverobbers for the most part. Anything for gold and experience.”

Perdido Street Station, China Miéville

More folk for your Treasure-hunters, Barrow-delvers and Tomb-thieves to hire when they need more hands on deck. In case this first lot wasn’t enough.

I’ll likely compile these into a zine. If so, there will be a running commentary from Chatwyn and Sprunt on each hireling.

Gaf the Grab

	Graf the Blade was a debt collector in Ambaret. When he is drunk, he will tell those who will listen of his days hunting those with debts everywhere from the Rose District to the Salt District until he cries from guilt and begs the listener for forgiveness.
	Graf will always suggest that his comrades venture to one more destination to grab just a little more treasure. None know who holds Graf's debt that pressures him to take on work as a Hireling but he fears them more than any beast in the Old Kalduhr. 

Ambush
Persistance
	Chest-Plate  
	Old Rusted War Cutlass

Burden: 2
     Depending on who you ask, they could be a young Fae-born who found an ancient mask and is acting in a tradition linking back to the Kalduhri Empire's fall or an ancient power ready to rise again. the Gudfeljou has been called a charm against the forest's hunger and has been accused of being the forest's own agent. Is the he a recent immigrant to Fort Durhin or is she an ancient creature who watched with hate in their eyes as the governor arrived with half a dozen kingsguard and a few dozen indentured servants?  
	They smell of autumn - apples, sweat and burning leaves. When they do choose to speak, the Gudfeljou's hands move along with the words like deft puppets acting out a fable.

					RITUAL: Summon
					RITUAL: Bolt
						Heirloom Compass 														Skinning Knife	
						Burden: 2
	The Herd is a masked beast-cult that offers its members for hire to Treasure-Hunters venturing into the forest. Their  uncanny masks depict herd animals, sometimes domesticated beasts and they never willingly take them off in view of others. While a cheap hire, they are half a step away from becoming a Beast of some kind, frolicking into the Kalduhr's fell embrace.
	Their skills are often a mix of their pre-cult backgrounds and a trait taken in from their mask (or do they choose masks because they already had those traits?). They revere Beast-bitten and will listen to them before anyone else who isn't in the cult's hierarchy.
	Herdsfolk are hired in groups of 3 and answer to whatever the Treasure-Hunters choose to call them.
Choose or roll 2 Skills
	Mask (counts as armor)
	Farm Implement of some kind

Burden: 1
Terhain

	The Durhin Dozen left Ft. Durhin as Treasure-Hunter legends, heading to Ambaret to delve sites that they had learned were untouched beneath the city. The city's opulence was too much for them. Under intense social pressure the famous adventuring posse splintered in a series of infamous brawls and feuds.
	Terhain was born in Ft. Durhin to a family of laborers and has returned to her home in the wake of the Dozen's breaking. She is covered in Kalduhri artifacts and full of swagger. Rumors say that she is close to being able to retire and wants to engage in a handful of delves as a well paid Hireling so that she can found her own borderlands village with her extensive family behind high walls.
Lore
Tactics						
				Kalduhri Shield Generator (armor)
				Serpent Folk Psi-Crown (weapon)

Burden: 3

And more Hirelings are wandering the streets of Fort Durhin, looking for coin…

Great stuff, Gregory!

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3 – Out from the Roots, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

3 – Out from the Roots, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

I read over Level 1 again and read over a deeper incursion at Jason Cordova’s suggestion because of links it has to the current adventure; the Trophy Discord is a nice community (INVITE LINK).

While I run the game I’ve got 4 tabs: Trophy Gold and Trophy Loom, another for Paid for in Blood and one more for our Jamboard. This session I only used the Jamboard and the Mega-Incursion write-up, first level printed out so I can write notes on it.

Roots of Old Kalduhr title pic

Beams of light streak down on subterranean stone with a climber in front of a faceless statue of a Lost Sister in a cyclopean alcove.
https://trophyrpg.com/

It was Jim and Aaron this game as Jay had some work stuff come up. With Jim’s permission, we decided he had left camp, following a beautiful piper’s tune but had lost it when he heard a bell ring. Jay‘s character and Jim’s (Baso and Pela) switched places somehow because of the constructs with the silver bells’ magic that we don’t understand but makes it easier to explain the rotating cast. The constucts were dubbed Dollems (rhymes with golem) by Jim.

Characters and Hireling:

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a
Moments
Ancient and worn gold coin with Trophy Gold written above it.

Jim got his feet under him fast. Baso looted the silver bell off of the Dollums and Jim suggested that perhaps the animals around the fountain were some kind of astrology. I jumped on that; yes, the 6 animals (lion, griffon, pig, rooster, bull and tortoise) were for children born during various times of year and the 7th, the cthonic beast whose statue was broken, was for children who knew nothing of their births.

“Thanks, Jim. Now you’ve made me help make me sad by making something up with me. Are you happy now?”

The silver bell had no clapper…

Ancient and worn gold coin

In the Common Room was another Dollem, this one with a tortoise head. Baso mimicked its movements, holding the silver bell on his own hand. I asked for a Risk Roll and through dice and Devil’s Bargains, the Tortoise Dollem was bound to Baso, who now had an understanding of the bells – “You feel as if you are 3 rings away from a cliff-face, from being sent to a terrible place that you don’t want to fall into.” On the wall, in Old Kalduhri, Aksi read the inscription in bright but faded letters, “Good children get to sit, bad children get the pit.”

When the Griffon Dollem showed up, they held it at bay and took the bell off of its right hand. It looked confused for a moment and then went back to searching the Common Room, in cupboards and under tables. At some point Jim proclaimed, “Baso can ring the bell now even though it has no clapper,” and that made perfect sense. The Tortoise, when given a command, gave Baso a condescending pat on the head. Cartwheels seem to be an introduction and also a way of saying, “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome.”

Ancient and worn gold coin

Something so strange happened that I nearly forgot to write about it. Someone was in the midst of a Risk Roll (I think it was Aaron) and Jim’s Devil’s Bargain was about the bell breaking and doing something unexpected. He left that to me to decide, like a fell gift under a watchful and ancient Kalduhri tree.

I decided the bell broke and brought something out of the pit. A blob made of half a dozen children rolled across the Common Room, screaming and crying and singing. When they didn’t engage with it, it rolled into the barracks, as if remembering its old life (lives?). They debated killing it but in the end, left it.

As Baso said, “If we don’t destroy that thing I’m going to find myself thinking of it whenever I try to sleep…”

Ancient and worn gold coin

Kel and Aksi went into the office to look for the money; Baso stayed in the courtyard, dancing and humming, hoping to keep any other Dollems away. When the Rooster Dollem jumped out of the wardrobe, Aksi and Kel tried to destroy it but a bell went off – only 2 more until they were sent to the pit. Aaron did the math and spent 3 Hunt Tokens. Aaron narrated hulking out, Wolf Beast-Bitten Style, and smashing the room to pieces, coming out with the gold over his shoulder. Jim added a nice detail, the gold was in the remnants of one of the Dollem’s silk jackets.

At one point in the midst of this glorious frightening mess, Aaron said something about the events reminding Kel of how his monarchs in the Caliginous Grove were turned to wood and I need to go back and dig a little at that.

Ancient and worn gold coin

I did some describing of the way home, as Jim hadn’t been at the game where they ventured down. Aaron mentioned that they were going to take a careful route to avoid the Cave Hounds that were eating Treasure-Hunter remains on their way in.

I had a Devil’s Bargain about the exit being complicated because of the excess of blood they used in the ritual to enter the Roots. Chatwyn and Sprunt were there, waiting to rob them. Chatwyn had a crossbow. Listed among the weaknesses of the Lost Treasure-Hunters was intimidation, so when Baso approached them with his Tortoise Dollem (yes, it followed him out of the delve) and asked if they wanted to play and the Tortoise reached into its porcelain head and wound up a music box that played an off-key lullaby, they just backed off. Chatwyn even gave up the crossbow when Baso asked for it.

	Among Treasure-Hunters, this duo has a well-earned reputation for being reliable and near-impossible to rattle, even in the midst of the horrors the ancient forest can vomit forth.
	Their views on weakness are harsh. If any of the Treasure Hunters should hit 5 Ruin the duo will seek out (and sometimes even dsicuss) ways to leave them behind or push them more fully to their doom.
	"Doom's edge turns folk desperate and desperate folk is dangerous to those around them."
	Lovers or Comrades? Survivors of a failed revolution or the last servants of a dead noble house? None know. What is known is that for the right price they will venture into the Old Kalduhr with you.
	Some say the only thing that could break them is having to decide what to do if one of them should reach doom's edge.
	Burden 4 because they will never agree to be separated.

Chatwyn
Poisons
Hunting
	Assassin's 
	Blowgun
	12 Iron 
	Spikes

Sprunt
Rituals 
Destruction
	Spiked Morningstar
	Tent (2 person)
Ancient and worn gold coin

They got back to Fort Duhrin without incident and Aksi made them tea and let them know that if they needed help with a future delve, they’d gladly join them as long as the Tortoise Dollem was nowhere near them.

Devil's Bargain with a scary black and white stag with a flame above its head between its horns.

Devil’s Bargains from this session:

I did not write down the Devil’s Bargains this game, which is a bummer. I know that the Dollem being bound to Baso came from one and the broken bell bringing the child-blob out of the pit was from another. They are good shit and one of the secret sauces of keeping everyone involved in every roll and marshalling the creativity at the table in a cool way.

What is a Devil’s Bargain, you ask? From the book:

Treasure-hunters laugh at danger, fueled by the folly of their pride. But failure nips at their heels, waiting
for the perfect moment to strike. When you gather dice to make a Risk Roll, the gm or any other player
can offer you a bonus light die if you accept a Devil’s Bargain from them. Common Devil’s Bargains include:

Causing collateral damage or unintended harm 

Getting lost or separated from your companions

Sacrificing an item or piece of treasure

Betraying a fellow treasure-hunter
Attracting unwanted attention

The Devil’s Bargain occurs regardless of the outcome of the roll. You make the deal, pay the price, and get the bonus die. The Devil’s Bargain is always a free choice. If you don’t like one, just reject it (or suggest how to alter it so you might consider taking it).

Anyone may veto or suggest alterations to a proposed Devil’s Bargain, especially if it would also impact their treasure-hunter. You may only offer and accept Devil’s Bargains when making a Risk Roll.
https://trophyrpg.com/
Bestiary with Trophy Gold and Trophy Dark symbols embossed on the worn leather of an ancient looking tome.

Bestiary

Dollems, a creepy name for creepy monsters…

Lost Treasure Hunters? Vultures…did someone call them that?

Child Blob Things need a name

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: The 3 Hunt Tokens to get the Set Goal is not only a fun way to game the system a bit but it works as a pacing mechanic in a way that I can’t quite describe yet but have seen in both runs of Trophy Gold I’ve GM’ed. Trophy Gold can be pretty deadly and the fantasy horror can be a little unsettling. It is cool to be able to spend the capital from one’s past curiosity and cash out. Speaking of which, I feel like the horror elements came out in this session; I’ll email the group and just check in, give room for folks to contact me and to stop play if something in a future session is not fun-horror-movie-creepy but shitty-trauma-creepy.

Ready for Next Week: I’ll read over the Hearthfire downtime rules this weekend and brush up on the rest of the Roots of Kalduhr mega-incursion; it is a delightfully easy read that is also easy to use at the table.

More?

These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

This session was played via Zoom on 4/29/22

2 – Down, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

2 – Down, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

Read over the first level of the Roots of Old Kalduhr – The Climb, the Streets and the first level Sets. Naturally, I decided to jump into the Set I seem to have barely skimmed.

Roots of Old Kalduhr title pic

Beams of light streak down on subterranean stone with a climber in front of a faceless statue of a Lost Sister in a cyclopean alcove.
https://trophyrpg.com/

Last game Kel and Baso and Aksil made camp after getting lost in the forest. This week, Baso’s player was feeling poorly and so Aaron’s character, Kel, and the NPC Hireling, Aksil, had to meet Jay’s character, Pela.

I had read the Climb and the Streets but the Set they eventually arrived at I had only skimmed but the way the Sets are laid out, short sweet descriptions and lots of bullet-points, make them easy to jump into as we go. If I had needed to, I could’ve easily just asked for a minute to read it over but it wasn’t necessary this time.

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a
Moments
Ancient and worn gold coin with Trophy Gold written above it.

We decided that Kel and Pela had known each other back in the day before they had set aside their backgrounds. Aaron described Kel as reaching for a purpose like he had when he was a Kingsguard and Jay described Pela as growing his hair out and trying to move past his days as a priest. When I asked how hard we had to work to figure out where Pela had been or how Kel and Baso had been separated, I was assured the table wasn’t fretting about it all that much. We got to playing and will figure the rest out later.

Ancient and worn gold coin

In the midst of ancient statues to primordial deities whose names are lost to time, worn away by wind and rain was a Kalduhri glyph and a scroll amidst some leavings. After some Hunt rolls to figure out the details, Pela did the Ritual, spilling some of their own blood and asking Kel to spill theirs in order to open the entrance to the Roots of Old Kalduhr (see cool-ass Devil’s Bargains below).

Ancient and worn gold coin

The entry led to The Climb, which was a huge, hewn pit with stairways corkscrewing downward. Kel found tracks of Treasure-Hunters who had come before them and the Hunt roll asked for something awful – so one of the Treasure-Hunters had been killed by their comrade. They had to fight the Petty Imps, left behind by the Treasure-Hunters’ in-fighting and violence – they took a short-sword off of the corpse.

Ancient and worn gold coin

Aaron asked me about the architecture and I started to stutter a response and so he helped me out, “Judd, I’m going to see what I can learn about Old Kalduhri society from the buildings.” After the Hunt Roll, I described the simple, square villas in this area and how he could tell that the Kalduhri society was highly hierarchical, with these simple hovels giving way to villas and then on to palaces made of stalagmites and stalactites – also, Cave Hounds…

Ancient and worn gold coin

I had described crystal lights flickering on as they passed, but not creating really useful light, just making the shadows creepier. Kel got out a torch when I asked who was dealing with the lack of light and they made their way around a pack of Cave Hounds, gnawing on the flesh and bones of another dead Treasure-Hunter. I asked how they were looking for an area with treasure. Aaron said they were looking for areas where the crystal lights were in good repair – and with that, I picked my Set.

Ancient and worn gold coin

They found a villa that was in unnaturally good repair. There was a fountain in the courtyard with a statue of children leading 6 animals in a circle – one of the animals’ statues was broken. Kel put the broken one together and I said it was a Cthonic creature that was unsettling. Pela was sifting through the algae-thick water when the construct attacked them with a porcelain-lion head and a silver bell in one hand.

The unnamed construct went down after some effort, dealing out Ruin as it went. We ended the game with the construct ringing its silver bell as it perished and other silver bells answering the call throughout the villa.

Devil's Bargain with a scary black and white stag with a flame above its head between its horns.

Devil’s Bargains from this session:

Exit will be complicated by forest creatures, drawn by the blood…

The denizens will look at Pela as a Blood-giver…

What is a blood-giver? We’ll find out in play.

Spear Subject Divider

What is a Devil’s Bargain, you ask? From the book:

Treasure-hunters laugh at danger, fueled by the folly of their pride. But failure nips at their heels, waiting
for the perfect moment to strike. When you gather dice to make a Risk Roll, the gm or any other player
can offer you a bonus light die if you accept a Devil’s Bargain from them. Common Devil’s Bargains include:

Causing collateral damage or unintended harm 

Getting lost or separated from your companions

Sacrificing an item or piece of treasure

Betraying a fellow treasure-hunter
Attracting unwanted attention

The Devil’s Bargain occurs regardless of the outcome of the roll. You make the deal, pay the price, and get the bonus die. The Devil’s Bargain is always a free choice. If you don’t like one, just reject it (or suggest how to alter it so you might consider taking it).

Anyone may veto or suggest alterations to a proposed Devil’s Bargain, especially if it would also impact their treasure-hunter. You may only offer and accept Devil’s Bargains when making a Risk Roll.
https://trophyrpg.com/
Bestiary with Trophy Gold and Trophy Dark symbols embossed on the worn leather of an ancient looking tome.

Petty Imp, ghostly spectres, ENDURANCE: 4
Weakness: holy stuff

Cave Hounds, six eyes, crunch bone, long legged crocodile

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: On one hand, I want to read the rest of the Sets carefully. On the other hand, if I don’t it won’t be the end of the world.

Ready for Next Week: Do they want to run or delve on or spend 3 Treasure Tokens, get the treasure and get the eff outta there?

These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

This session was played via Zoom on

Hirelings

Hirelings

These are hirelings I have made for our Trophy Gold game but are clearly useable for whatever medium you use for pretending to delve into demon-haunted ruins for “the gold and experience,” as China Miéville said.

Whenever I asked questions about the characters I realized that for me almost all of the answers were YES but I’m sure you’ll have your own answers and your own questions.

Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Will I ever put together a fictional duo with names as good as Chatwyn & Sprunt? I doubt it. The search terms that got me there are hazy, maybe 15th century British surnames? I saw Sprunt and knew right away that was the name for our guy with the spiked mace. Chatwyn followed suit.

	Among Treasure-Hunters, this duo has a well-earned reputation for being reliable and near-impossible to rattle, even in the midst of the horrors the ancient forest can vomit forth.
	Their views on weakness are harsh. If any of the Treasure Hunters should hit 5 Ruin the duo will seek out (and sometimes even dsicuss) ways to leave them behind or push them more fully to their doom.
	"Doom's edge turns folk desperate and desperate folk is dangerous to those around them."
	Lovers or Comrades? Survivors of a failed revolution or the last servants of a dead noble house? None know. What is known is that for the right price they will venture into the Old Kalduhr with you.
	Some say the only thing that could break them is having to decide what to do if one of them should reach doom's edge.
	Burden 4 because they will never agree to be separated.

Chatwyn
Poisons
Hunting
	Assassin's 
	Blowgun
	12 Iron 
	Spikes

Sprunt
Rituals 
Destruction
	Spiked Morningstar
	Tent (2 person)
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Aksil is who got hired in our Friday game and I like them very much. Their name came from doing some searching on Berber names from Morocco.

AKSIL THE SPEAR

	Aksil ventured across the continent to see the legendary forest that felled the Kalduhri Empire, having heard stories from their mother, whose witch-tutor had told her tales of the Old Kalduhr.  
	In the fort, Aksil is friendly, boisterous and full of good humor. Once in the forest, Aksil is quiet and often veiled, not wanting to draw the forest's attention.
	As they have grown older, their dreams of opening a tea shop and some day returning home are dimming. they are worried that too many of the forest's demons have tasted their blood and that if they should perish here their soul will never make the long journey back to their ancestors in the Sea of Bone before the Forest claims them.
	
Aksil
Perception
Tactics
	Spear
	Tea Pot &
	3 cups

	Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

One of the many problems with grabbing art from the British Library’s flickr account is finding cool warrior women. I had this image saved for a long time and decided they could fight in skirts when I saw an image illustrating what girding one’s loins meant back in the old days. The names were taken from Lithuanian villages, an homage to my mother’s side of the family.

	The Rubis Sisters escaped the forest village where they were born before they could be sacrificed to a demonic forest spirit, now they venture into the forest on their own terms as hirelings, never delving together so that the forest demon who they escaped from will be less likely to pick up their scent.
	When danger looms, they gird their skirts and take out the ancestral daggers brought from their homes. They are guarded by defense wards worn around their necks.
	How many Rubis Sisters are there? Is Rubis their family name or the name of their village?
	It is whispered that when they have stockpiled enough weapons and saved enough gold they will return to the village that tried to sacrifice them and make sure that never happens again.
Skills? Roll or choose from Trophy Gold's second page.
	Village Dagger
	Necklace Wards

	Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Dhea was made by cutting and pasting a witch about to be burned onto the armored body of one of her captors. The name Dhea came from nowhere. I wonder if she’ll be burned or lead a new religion or find some other path.

	Dhea only recently arrived at Fort Durhin. Her fame is oddly growing because she put up posters, made from cut-outs from wanted posters and the Governor's Proclamations, advertising her services to Treasure-Hunters looking for a hireling.
	She is called The Living Sister because a small but growing following of laborers and beggars say she has worked miracles among the sick and the destitute and has strange tattoos of antlers that peak out from the edges of her garb. It is only a matter of time before someone comes looking for a Witch to either burn on a pyre or recruit for a cult.
	Plants
	Vigilance
		Halbred
		Breastplate
		Helm

		Burden 3
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

This is another pic I had been sitting on for a while. He almost seemed too put together for Fort Duhrin but I decided that was part of his strangeness.

     Is Olde Prince an awakened Kalduhri monarch, born during the empire's golden age? Is this enigmantic and odd creature a mannekin construct with a mask woven from Kalduhri arcane science and ancient faery glammers? Or are they just a strange old man in a suit of armor and tattered leopard-skin cape who loves Kalduhri poetry and seeking treasure in demon-haunted broken places?
	You will likely find the Olde Prince sitting somewhere quiet and isolated in Fort Duhrin, humming a strange tune with a smile as if they are enjoying a joke only they know. If you ask him why he is going into the forest covered in iron armor but with no weapon he'll likely say something like, "Well, then, we will have to find a treasure I can swing at a monster first thing..."

					Flattery
					Lore
						Full Harness (counts as 4 pieces of armor!)
						Book of Ancient Kalduhri Poetry

						Burden: 5
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

I wrote about Piye and broke my own damned heart. If you use these NPC’s in your games and Piye gets home, please let me know. I found his name in a list of ancient Kushite monarchs.

	Piye bankrolled a merchant caravan of epic scope. He charted a dangerous and ambitious path. His caravan would trek across the Sea of Bone's oasis-forts. He pushed on to the golden city of Ambaret and from there through the strange borderlands towns. Finally, the caravan arrived at the strangest of bordertown of all -  Fort Duhrin. The original plan was to do all of this and return having made a fortune. 
	It was a gamble but his cousins, siblings and children signed on as guards, scouts, and drovers. Bandits, beasts, disease, and worse plagued them. Piye lost this gamble and now needs to send what remains of his family back home in as safe a manner as possible.
	If you hire him, he will get what treasure he can and send some family home before setting out into the forest again. But if during the delve you gain his trust, he will tell you that for 10 coin, he will fund another caravan and show you the finest delves across the entire wondrous world. If you pledge to fund this caravan his Ruin will go to 4, even if you are lying.
	Paths
	Deals
		Summon & ward 		Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

When we played I only had Chatwyn and Sprunt, the Rubis Sisters and Aksil. The rest will be in town if the players should survive their first delve to return to Fort Duhrin. I am rooting for them but the forest and the fort seem determined to devour them and their dreams. If you meet any of these NPC’s in your games, please let me know how their fates turn out.

Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Here they are without text in case you want to add in your own backstories or stat-blocks. If you use them I’d love to hear about it.

A stag in black in white with fire in its eyes and a flame floating between its antlers, its light reflecting off the stag's antlers and head.

Felt like a fitting way to end this article.
The End

My threadless shop has cool stuff with the designs below and more; please check it out. 100% of artists’ proceeds go to amazing organizations doing important work.

1 – Into the Forest, Trophy Gold: The Roots of Old Kalduhr

1 – Into the Forest, Trophy Gold: The Roots of Old Kalduhr

We’ve got characters ready to play Trophy Gold. 2 of the 3 were made from the Trophy Gold Character Generator. I had a jamboard ready, some hirelings prepped and had been futzing with a pinterest board all week.

Roots of Old Kalduhr

We began the game in Fort Durhrin, in the midst of the hangover of a festival to celebrate someone brave enough to venture into the Roots of Old Kalduhr. Baso, Jim’s character, had slept with a treasure-hunter named Osto, who had died of a heart-attack, and the Fort’s cryptic laws meant that Baso had to take on the dead treasure-hunter’s debt and go into the forest in their stead. When I asked Jim where Baso was as the game began he told me that Baso was chained up so they wouldn’t run away from their obligation. Kel entered Fort Duhrin to meet up with the recently deceased Osto, to venture into the Roots of Old Kalduhr, the most famous delve in an ancient forest dense with danger and strangeness.

Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Moments in Play

Osto’s ghost was talking to Baso while they were in Fort Duhrin but no one else could see them. Everyone took this in stride; Jim had fun talking to the air.

They hired Aksil the Spear, an elder hireling known for this experience from the Borderlands to the Bone Sea. I made Hireling Cards.

Aksil the Spear

As they crossed the marker that let them know that they were entering the forest, I let them know that there are strange villages along the forest’s border that are used to treasure hunter visitors. Baso said, “I bet if one of us dragged another wounded of us into one of those villages, they’d just eat us. Better to sleep in the forest, I think.” Aksil disagreed, “Sleeping in the forest is dangerous.”

As they crossed into the forest, Osto’s ghost disappeared.

I wasn’t sure what to do to show the forest’s strangeness. I had the Trophy Loom pdf open in a tab, I went to the Deep Kalduhr entries by Paul Baldowski and this jumped out at me:

The Imprisoned Fae entry: A cage of dull green metal displays the
contorted skeleton of a fairy-like creature
wearing an elaborate crown trimmed with
fur. The cage dangles high above the ground
from a vicious-looking barb—abandoned
sticks, hooks, rope, and polearms scatter the
floor beneath.

It got an immediate reaction. Kel was sad at seeing the bones where butterfly wings would have fluttered and Baso put out honey and bread for the God Neighbors. Baso also left a vine crown that fell from the cage, “My first treasure…”

I am not even sure how to describe the series of die rolls that came next that led to the treasure-hunters lost in the forest. It was a blur of Hunt Rolls, Risk Rolls, Devil’s Bargains and cool shit. The cult that imprisons fae caught the group’s scent when Kel used magic to tear the cage apart with his bare hands. Aksil led them to a hill that was actually a hill-sized beast that awoke and Basto speared into the cult’s path.

In the end, they were lost in the forest and made camp under a stone overhang where they found a beast-born skull. Aaron said something about the skull being his character’s skull. Hell yeah.

“How do you know this is your skull, Kel?” Turns out, Kel broke his collar-bone when he was a young Kingsguard sworn to the Caliginous Grove’s monarchs and the skeleton had evidence of the exact same break, wearing the Grove’s livery.

As they sipped tea and dusk fell to night, Aksil said, “This was a good first day in the forest. Perhaps when the sun rises we will find our way.”

Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Added to the Bestiary

Grwllah – beast mistaken for a hill, can be prodded to go in a direction with a spear, head rises first when awakened

Order of the Dead Stag – cult that hunts faeries and beast-born, led by a cursed fey power – Orion?

Snags – sharp toothed little faery folk

Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: This game, as the kids say, slaps. The way it marshals everyone’s creativity for every roll in a way that isn’t overly story-gamey is a damned pleasure to play.

Ready for Next Week: I’ll print out and read over the first bits of the Roots of Old Kalduhr and daydream about the entryway.

These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

This session was played via Zoom on Friday, April 15th, 2022

Minotaur Civil War and Current Events

From Module to Incursion

I wrote a twitter thread about tonight’s game and I thought that got it out of my system but no, there’s more rattling around for me to chew on.

(NOTE: I’m re-reading this blog post and watching myself try to write a normal actual play post and failing to filter out how odd and wrong everything is right now. Maybe because it feels surreal to be gaming right now. There is going to be a game soon when I turn to my friends and say something like, “See you next game; I hope we’re still gaming in a democracy-shaped republic.”)

Thunderspire Labyrinth offered the inspiration – the treasure-hunters chasing a group of shitty people (in this case human traffickers who sold people to ghouls for food and slavery). The shitty people ran into the ruins of a minotaur city, said to be cursed and devil-haunted – you know, the usual.

The module itself was a bit too much for me, so I distilled it down to 5 sets, grabbing names and details from the module as needed:

  • Saruun Khel’s Gate
  • The Lantern Road
  • The Great Stair
  • The Flooded City
  • The Thunderspire Peak

Here’s the full write-up if you want to see what I worked off of today.

I wanted the players to know that there was more than one way in, so I made the goal of the first set: Decide how you want to enter Saruun Khel. The players were savvy. They watched the ravens flying around the gate, noticed that the older ravens refused to enter and only the younger ravens went in at all.

Saruun Khel

I’m not sure why a fantasy story about a beautiful city, full of bullish folk who worshipped labyrinthine choice and devils and demons falling to civil war because of the worship of a selfish liar full of secrets would appeal to me right now.

Drew made his Hunt roll to know the history of the place. His none-too-bright former gladiator knew the history of Saruun Khel because there was a gladitorial game based on the city’s civil war. Love it.

Sometimes Trophy Gold’s Hunt rolls call on the GM to say something the players find that is terrifying. Sometimes they find what they are looking for but still, run across something terrifying. It isn’t always a monster encounter.

When Revel was looking for a map of the city, I had to offer something terrifying.

“Here’s what is terrifying. This city was really beautiful. It was an architectural marvel, a flittering jewel in this mountain and now it is a flooded ruin. Now it is nothing but a dungeon to loot because of civil war.”

Yeah, it is obvious that shit is on my mind.

Griffons and Dragons

There was another cool moment where Revel charged a griffon. It was a dangerous move and Drew knew it. The actions of the other two characters entirely saved his ass. Rasei fired arrows at it and I had archery as a weakness of griffons – John had his character, Theoden do something so smart that I wrote it down as a new weakness. He used a spell to imitate a dragon call.

Of course griffons would be scared of dragons; it is the only predator above them on the food chain in the mountains. Those two actions, both utilizing weaknesses, dipped the griffon’s Endurance so that their roll defeated it.

I’d like to take this moment to say that describing a griffon dragging a goat up onto an 8 foot rock and eating it was fun. Giant eagle maw cracking bones and horns and hooves; the sound of it must be terrifying. That was a fun GM moment.

I knew there was a dragon in the Tomb Mountains but didn’t know if it was awake. Today I found out it was awake now. John’s character, Theoden, imitated a dragon-call to scare the griffon and then a few Hunt rolls demanded something terrifying.

Yup, dragon’s awake. What would wake up a dragon fast? A dragon-call. Mountain ranges aren’t big enough for two dragons.

I decided there was a scholar from the capital studying griffons in the peak.

The Big Score

Drew’s ex-gladiator said, “Where do minotaur store their taxes?”

The city is entirely flooded. The tombs are on hilltops, so they only have knee-deep water in them but the rest of the mountain is a big moongator tank. One can see the tops of towers and cathedral spires in the murky water. The players are thinking about ways to drain that water or freeze it and dig through the ice.

I had a panicked second – what would I do if they drained Saruun Khel?

It was a short second of panic. Here’s what I’d do.

In Trophy Gold you are saving up to get 50 gold and achieve your drive. What if they drained the minotaur city and defeated whatever was still guarding the city streets?

What if I just said, “Good job, you all achieve your Drives. Roll up new characters. You see a city just opened up called New Khel and adventurers are flocking to it. From this metropolis you can go delving in the underdeeps or along the surface of the dragon-haunted Tomb Mountains.”

Maybe they just do it. Maybe they’d just change the world a bit and we’d take some time to adventure in that changed world and see what treasures are worth hunting in it.

Maybe you can build something on the wreckage of a minotaur civil war.

Or maybe they’ll get eaten by the moongator, stalking the floodwaters, a moon-colored monster.

We’ll see.

Vote. Be prepared.

See you on the other side.

An odd night on a barren hill

When I have the energy to do so, I try to write a short synopsis of our Trophy Gold games. The dice kept telling me that strange and terrible things were happening. Who am I to ignore them?

This was tonight’s synopsis:

In which the treasure-hunters made camp on a hill after meeting a lost soul, discussed theology, went to bed for the night, thinking that they would wake up and go plunder the Palace of the Skeleton God with Blackwolf.


The Sisters, gods, devils, and saints of this world had different plans – very different plans.

It was complicated. A goat that had lost its herd instincts entered camp and was accidentally lit on fire – an amorphous blob-beast, drawn to the hill by the sorcery, ate the flaming goat and took on its characteristics. The treasure-hunters fought the flaming goat-blog-man and killed it.


Somewhere in there a god was spoken to in all of its fell, patriarchal glory and a soulless copy of Elezio (Evilezio), an illusion of Elezio brought to life by a sorcerous mishap, gave terrible dating advice to Revel.


Sometimes it just goes like that.


We’ll get to the Palace next week.


“Even by wizard standards that was a pretty fucking crazy night.” – Blackwolf, Wizard

Inspiration Goat Table Techniques #1

I used the above technique in the Thursday night Trophy Gold game and got a wonderful tale from Jesse. He told me about how his orphan pickpocket broke into a noble’s house and had to kill the noble in order to get out.

I loved it because it wasn’t a kill that made the world a better place (well, depending on the noble) and there was a touch of shame in it. This kid was a treasure-hunter because they had lived a tough life and this was the only clear vocation open to them.


Inspiration goat now has a twitter account that will act as a place for me to share these new weekly table techniques and the Daydreaming about Dragons podcast: