Swords without Master in… the City of Fire & Coin!

April 2014, Google+

Okay wow, I honestly wasn’t expecting Sw/oM to be THAT fun. Like, I figured I’d get a kick out of it… But oh wow holy damn. Ran through City of Fire and Coin, but with only Manyara and Snorri represented (fewer players showed up than expected). Third player joined for the Discovery phase as Muaphet Ram, but stepped out before the Rogue phase so it was mostly just the wild buddy adventures of Snorri&Manyara.

Things kicked off in the Jovial tone, with the Festival of Laments scenario. Snorri got into a fight with Verthius of the thieves guild, while Manyara brawled with cutthroat goons. It was start and stop, but exciting. The players had some difficulty with the idea of constantly narrating, and slipping and struggling. It went well though, and we generated some mysteries/morals. Our Verthius wouldn’t bleed, because some sort of sorcery. In the end, too many stymies and they handed over the dice.

Discovery scene in a torturer’s prison revealed the torturer was Graiza, their rogue companion they left for dead in the Unsahlak ruins, how he would torture each of them, what the escape routes were, and the fact that Muaphet Ram intentionally tried to kill Graiza to run off with mystic idols — but several stymies just meant they kept not realizing things.

Did a flashback Rogue Phase and followed them back out of Unsahlak after the caverns collapsed and separated them from Muaphet Ram and Graiza. Had cool imagery like a jewel cloak, a feathered snake demon, and an illusory constellation trap.

Cut loose with a Perilous Phase, battling insect warriors in the desert as they traveled via caravan to return to the city with their looted jewels and idols, but they moved on from it quickly.

All the while, this filled up our motif cards.

In the end, with the Endgame, we did a final Rogue phase to show how they escaped Graiza and the thieves guild. Manyara ended the game by incorporating: “Repurposed riches” and “bug guts everywhere” as they bloodily took the torturer’s fingers and smashed his leg with a stolen idol, before fleeing into the night.

High Points:
After narrating how Graiza would torture the rogues, it was exciting to listen to Snorri’s player deliver on it — when we returned to the present and I Demanded she show me how Snorri escapes his bonds, she told me about how the torture had already begun and he was missing his spear-arm, and he used his new leverage to burst the bonds whilst bleeding over everything.

I mentioned off hand the thieves guild had a demon-caller who bargained with devils to give their enforcers powers… and the players loved it, wrote it on a motif, and brought it back in as fast as they could. The motif card encourages that stuff and that’s just really cool to see in action!

Again, the motif card was great inspiration. We had a blank third card, and we were low on time… and that was enough of a cue that I knew I needed to step up my game. So, one two minute breather later and I’ve got imagery and I throw it down on the table for the rogue players to enjoy, and bam onto the motif card it goes. The cards are great reminders of how cool you need to be making things.

My players had fun, and want to interact more with Snorri, Manyara, hollow-skin cursed Verthius, Shakti the demon-caller, the thieves guild, Graiza, and the insidious Muaphet Ram.

We want to see a story immediately following their flight from the thieves guild… and one years from now when Snorri is an accomplished and legendary one-armed spearman… and one in the past, when Snorri and Manyara are young and whole.

The only “Hangup” we came across was that during a Rogue Phase a player asks the overplayer to show how an NPC does something. One of my rogue players Demanded I show how Verthius gained his immortality. In retrospect, I should have vetoed this unless Verthius got it through his own guile, strength, and coolness. At the time I flubbed and stumbled, because we had already mentioned the thieves had their own demon-caller employed, so rather than showing him accomplishing something to do it… I portrayed him pissing off Shakti the caller and getting cursed into being a hollowed-out immortal enforcer.

It wasn’t quite right, and it answered the Mystery on the table. That said, I can see situations cropping up in other games where loaded questions in Discovery or Demands in Rogue Phase could require the Overplayer answer a mystery (an act normally reserved for Endgame). I’d love to hear thoughts on this sort of scenario.

good game.


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