The Sword, the Crown, and the Unspeakable Power of Bodemere

Started by Cramulus, April 14, 2020, 04:01:39 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


As my Dungeon World campaign wraps up, I'm looking for the next tabletop to check out. I've landed on The Sword, the Crown, and the Unspeakable Power (or SCUP for short). Here's the thumbnail:

► It uses the Powered By The Apocalypse rules engine, which is the same mechanics as Dungeon World. That is, for any action, you roll 2d6, add a stat. If you get a 10+, you succeed, 7-9 is a 'success with a cost or consequence', and 6- is fail. Very simple, lots of narrative control.

► The game is styled after Game of Thrones. The characters are all powerful people, major figures in the setting. Most of the game's drama takes place between the characters. (as opposed to D&D or Dungeon World, where the group is assumed to be a party cooperating to overcome challenges set by the DM)

► Like Dungeon World, the setting is generated by the players at the first session. You do this "mythology creation" workshop, in which the group talks through a world myth. You start with a prompt, "In the beginning, _______" and then fill in the blank. The book gives you some options, and if you want, you can roll a die, but you could also make something up.

1. The world was pristine and unsullied.
2. There was peace between all.
3. We lived in harmony with nature.
4. It was a golden age of prosperity and knowledge.
5. Dangerous things were sealed away.
6. Times were hard, but we got by with what we had.

1. A never before seen threat arose.
2. A new power emerged in the land.
3. We meddled in what we should not.
4. Rightful rule was challenged.
5. Our ancient ways were cast aside or forgotten.
6. Supernatural powers unleashed their wrath.

There are six beats to the world myth. After you've set it up, then you flesh out the details and talk specifics. From this conversation, the setting emerges.

► Each player may choose one 'playbook', which is essentially the character classes....

"The Sword" is martial power...
The Gauntlet is an amazing fighter (think: Jamie Lannister)
The Spur commands a force of warriors (think: Jon Snow)
The Black Hood is an assassin (think: Arya Stark)
The Screw is a torturer, inquisitor... can get info out of people (think: Ramses Bolton)

"The Crown" is social power...
The Crown playbook lets you play a king or queen. (think: Cersei)
The Voice is an advisor (think: Tyrion)
The Bloodletter is a doctor or academic, who Knows Things and holds power over life and death (think: Sam Tarley)
The Lyre is like a bard, celebrity, influential type. They deal in information and can spread rumors (think: Varys)

"The Unspeakable Power" is magical power...
The Beloved is basically a cult leader. There's something special about you, and as a result, you have a cult of 20-30 people that follow you around and think you're the chosen one. You can tap into the Unspeakable Power. (think: Daenerys)
The Adept has magical powers, see things that should not be seen. (think: Bran)
The Hex is a witch or sorcerer, who wields powerful curses (think: Melissandre)

► And then at session 1, when you create characters, you thread them together. Each playbook has a few built-in relationships... you choose two of them and then assign them to other characters at the table. For example, the bloodletter (doctor) character points to someone and says "You need me to keep someone you care about alive." Then you work out who that is. It might even be another character at the table!

► Most of the plot will have to do with intrigues, power plays, and betrayals. There is combat, but it's not handled in super-fine detail... when you fight somebody, it's usually about dominance or power rather than actually killing them. A whole combat is resolved with 1-3 dice rolls. You roll dice, it gives you a mechanical outcome, and then the players involved fill in the fluff about what actually happened.

► Each character has a faction that you generate at the beginning of the game. Some characters have patrons, people they work for -- in many cases, this is also another PC. For example, if someone is playing The Crown, then someone playing the Voice will be their advisor, someone playing The Spur will be their general. At the beginning of each session, yo make some die rolls which indicate your current status with your patron and faction. You could begin the session in good graces with bonus resources, or in a bad state where you're going to have to do some tasks or favors to get back into favor.

The factions are also tools to drive drama. They mean that each character has a group that expects something from them. And even if the characters are not at odds, their factions probably are.

► You have a pool of "honor" points, representing your reptuation and the value of your name. You can spend honor to get favors from your faction, or use moves like DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? --- when you're talking to any character, you can spend 1 Honor and say "Do you know who I am?" -- the target then has to improvise something impressive they've recently heard about your character.

► The Unspeakable Power is an intelligent evil force. In any given setting, it could be different things. If a character has magical abilities, whether they know it or not, that ability actually comes from the Unspeakable Power. It is a force of temptation and sin. Every character has a move called "Whisper to the Unspeakable Power". If you whisper "I'd sell my soul to humiliate that guy", the unspeakable power will hear your request, and whisper something back, possibly granting you what you desire. This is a game where you can always make a deal with the devil. And eventually, it will come back at you.

► After many sessions, you'll have accumulated enough "advancement" (this game's version of XP) to buy stuff from a list... one of the things you can purchase is "end of season" moves. These are big narrative events like Game of Thrones' Red Wedding. Using an End of Season move delivers a big twist or dramatic conclusion to a character's story. It will probably end the campaign, or at the least, significantly change your character. After an End of Season move, the king might lose all of his power and end up as a beggar on the street. Or a mage might finally succumb to the temptation of the unspeakable power and ruin their own lives.

It seems like a really wild game. I like the idea that the GM doesn't really create the story, they just facilitate the threads that players put out there. Lots of agency, lots of room for plot to emerge.


Because I am AN IDIOT, I seem to have started two simultaneous SCUP campaigns. One of them is with my town buddies, and the other is with my larp-designer friends.

The settings that each group created are cool as shit. The mythology workshop is pretty tight. Let me tell you about the first one...

The first group (Which I call the "Sleepy Hollow RP Gang", since we live in sleepy hollow) wanted to do a game with a 1750s aesthetic. The setting is called Bodemere. Nobles are fancy and decadent, wear lots of lace and bigass powdered wigs. Commoners are grungy, superstitious, and wear tricorner hats. Rapiers and pistols are common weapons.

The short version of the "world myth" is:

The region, Bodemere, used to be ruled by an evil sorcerer king named Bodemont. He a tyrant, but was eventually betrayed by his court, and his spirit was imprisoned in his own soul-stealing sickle. Though Bodemont is defeated, his sickle is now a source of magic - those who are connected to it can use an aspect of Bodemont's power (mainly necromancy). So the sickle was sealed away.

The freed cities in Bodemont's realm became now self-governed, independant city-states. The cities are now rich and decadent, and the people there observe a strict social order organized by caste and profession. Time passed.

In the wilderness outside of the cities, heretics dabbled in forbidden spells, things that should have remained buried. They eventually brought Bodemont's magic back into the world. The sustained use of Bodemont's magic led to a horrible phenomenon -- a plague of poltergeists, violent spirits arising from the legions of people killed by Bodemont. The poltergeists could not be checked. They ravaged the cities and drove all of the leaders mad. Eventually, the poltergeist plague subsided and civilization started to put itself back together.

Eventually the church stood against the heretics and led a holy inquisition, purging them from the forests and countryside. The people who live in the small villages and wilderness between cities now fear the church and hate the cities. These people call themselves the Kin, but the city-folk derisively call them Kindling.

During this period, the church began to use magic too. What no one knows, except the church's highest deacons, is that their magic secretly comes from Bodemont as well. Perhaps the secrets of magic were extracted from the heretics during the inquisition, and Bodemont's power was just too tempting to ignore.

Today, the Kin are restless. Superstitious and cultish, there are signs that a massive revolt against [the yet unnamed city in which the game takes place]. Within the Kin, there are Heretics, witches who still use Bodemont's magic.

And enough time has passed that the public opinion about the Kin is changing. The poltergeist plague has been mostly forgotten, and the heretic's magic is very tempting. Rumor has it that some witches are even invited to courtly gatherings, so that the nobles (who are getting tired of the church's judgmental fingerwagging) can ask them for magical favors. The common-folk of the city are incensed by this -- we don't have access to the nobles, but the Kindling do??

And while he has been gone for millenia, Bodemont still seems to be a presence... they say that if you whisper to him, he will hear it. And if you ask him for something, he may find a way to grant it. Those who reach out to Bodemont are persecuted by the church, but it's probably happening more commonly than anyone will admit.

That's the broad brush-strokes of the setting. The nobles, commoners, kin, heretics, and church are all in the same place, all wanting different things from each other. The church has an inquisition-mindset, the nobles have a decadent and indulgent mindset, the commoners have a superstitious and paranoid mindset, and the kin have a rural and irreverent mindset.

We haven't made characters yet, but people could choose from any of those groups.  And again, basically the plot will be a game-of-thronesesque story of intrigue and betrayal.

Doktor Howl

Quote from: Cramulus on April 26, 2020, 01:21:20 PM
, since we live in sleepy hollow)

For now.

Anyway, that campaign world idea is awesome as hell.
Molon Lube



Editing to add the character concepts:

  • Lord Camus Seneca, the Crown, is the ruler of Bodemere
  • Drosera, the Screw, is the chief inquisitor of the church. Drosera works for Deacon Augustine, one of the four deacons of the Four Moons religion.
  • Crow's Eye, the Gauntlet, is the king's personal knight. A member of the Swords of Seneca (the royal knights), he answers to the king directly, but also serves Sir Bastion, the commander of the royal knights
  • Metal Legion, the Black Hood, is an assassin who works for a group called the Unwanted. They are agitators and rebels who resist the rule of the city. The Unwanted protect the Kin (or as they are known in the city--Kindling), the peasants who live in villages outside the city walls

Politically, the Swords of Seneca and the Church are in opposition to each other. The royal knights try to protect the king from the church's influence, and the church wants to be involved in all royal decisions.

Ran a session for the Bodemere group (which is the one with the 1750s aesthetic).

  • It's festival week in the city - there is to be a large sacrifice in public later.
  • The first scene of the game takes place in the royal court... the crown (Lord Seneca) has just heard a bunch of complaints about this pox that is running through the city. People blame the witches. Lord Seneca's cousin, who manages many of the affairs of state, suggests that we should find a scapegoat to blame this on. If we burn a witch or something, it will make the people feel like we have it under control.
  • The Gauntlet (royal knight) and the Screw (church inquisitor) are at odds.. the church is trying to get more influence in the royal court, and the Swords of Seneca (royal knights) are trying to block this.
  • Lord Seneca sends his knight (Crow's Eye--the Gauntlet) to go into mud town and investigate the pox.
  • The church insists that they be included in this inquiry.. so The Screw, Drosera, is dispatched to assist Crow's Eye
  • So these two enemies are now on a quest together, to go shake down some peasants and get to the bottom of this pox. Both have been told by their leaders "You'd better do better than the other one."

  • They arrive in mud town and the Black Hood (who works for a witch-friendly group) finds out immediately. He spies on them while they investigate.
  • The duo shakes down a bunch of peasants, but in the process, gets surrounded by people and is drawn into a scuffle. The Gauntlet is fine. But the Screw gets slashed by a dagger. She's not hurt that badly, but the Gauntlet pressures her to quit the quest and return to the castle.
  • Kind of a cool game mechanic right here... the Gauntlet used the move 'persuade with leverage' to get the Screw to fuck off. Because he used the skill on a PC, the player still gets to decide whether their character is persuaded or not.. but the skill incentivizes it. The Screw got an Avancement Point for quitting the mission and returning to the castle.
  • The Gauntlet continued to shake down peasants for info until he found out that the group called the Unwanted is behind this pox. (that's the group the Black Hood works for)

  • The Gauntlet returns to court. He and the Screw present their story to the king. The King is disappointed with the Screw for not finding anything out, so he tries to humiliate her by ordering her to dance before the court. She burns a point of honor to Refuse. The Refusal works, but she feels guilty for disobeying a royal order, and gets a -1 penalty to her next die roll. (that's baked into how the 'Refuse An Obligation' roll works)

  • The Black Hood reports to his boss that the crown is onto them. They decide to plan a surprise for the big sacrifical ritual that's happening in town this week. The Black Hood tracks down a witch named Serena and asks her to help take a shot at the church during this ritual. She agrees in trade for a favor later.
  • At the ritual, the heads of the church are sacrificing these four great stallions. There's a huge crowd of people. When the stallions die, the witch uses her magic and reanimates them. These four headless horses begin bucking and stamping and crushing people. Chaos erupts. People panic.
  • The Crown notices Serena casting, but she slips into the crowd... the crown recognizes her because she used to be a royal knight, but disgraced herself and the crown stripped her of her rank, banished her from the castle... (we haven't established why yet.)
  • The Gauntlet and the king fight back the undead horses and manage to put them down.. but the people are still unsettled by this religious ritual going haywire.. the king tries to make a speech to make it seem like he has everything under control, but it doesn't go well

  • While this was going on, the black hood broke into a church and stole one of the city's four religious relics, a silver cup called the Lunar Chalice. As the session ends, he whispers to the unspeakable power and asks it what will happen in the future... the black hood now knows that the crown is gunning for Serena, and he got a whiff that the church's magic is the same magic that witches use.

It was a cool session! Very different than D&D. People said it felt like game of thrones, very cinematic.


I really dig that narrative approach, cram, can't wait to hear more


Event Prologue: (results of the beginning-of-session die rolls)

• The kingdom is in turmoil right now - the atrocity at the ritual is still heavy in people's minds. Faith in the church has been shaken. And rumor has it, some preacher out in the woods is agitating the kindling. The people of Bodemere are basically all in an idle stupor. (this is a consequence from the king failing his beginning-of-session Heavy is the Head roll.. it means he has not managed the kingdom well in the last few weeks)

• Our story begins with the assassin Metal Legion approaching Serena the witch. ((I'm only now realizing that Serena was the main character from the TV show Bewitched... damn it)) He owes her a favor for using her necromancy to disrupt the recent church ritual. She needs him to steal something... the Swords of Seneca (the royal knights) all carry these special swords, they are basically a badge of office. Serena wants one of them. Metal Legion agrees to go investigate it.

• The King's family has let him know that there's a plot within the castle... they have discovered that some courtier (they're not sure who) is delivering a report on the courtly activities to someone in the church. Now, one of the four Deacons is a regular attendee at court, so this is not that unusual.. but that man (Deacon Augustine) is supposed to be the church's liason to the crown. So if someone else in the church is getting a report, something is up. The royal family suggests that the king send his knight to go beat up whoever this is, to send a message. The king has other ideas.


• Metal Legion snuck into some training barracks for royal knights, in order to steal a sword... he found the royal knight Crow's Eye, drinking with Commander Lehigh (who's in charge of training new knights). Metal Legion managed to steal Lehigh's sword and escape into the night.

• Crow's Eye went out to the sticks to talk to Metal Legion. I kinda forget why, TBH. But within the conversation, something went bad, and Kindling began to circle around the knight and size him up. Metal Legion warned them to back off, but they ignored him... A scuffle broke out and Crow's Eye beheaded one of them while taking no damage himself. Covered in blood again, he returned to the castle.

• The King asked the inquisitor, Drosera, to investigate the leak in the castle. This puts Drosera between a rock and a hard place - on one hand, the king is asking her a favor, and the leaker is not aligned with Drosera's patron (Deacon Augustine), he probably works for a rival deacon... but to expose the church's spy would also be taking action against her own faction, the church. But Drosera agrees to help the king, seeing more benefits than drawbacks.

• Drosera sends her two lackeys to investigate, and eventually kidnap the leaker. The player fails the die roll, so the lackeys show up at Drosera's chambers, out of breath, looking worried. They said that they identified the leaker, he's a courtier named Laurence. But they didn't manage to bag Lauence--in fact, he got away, and now knows that church people are after him.

• Laurence ran to Crow's Eye's room at the castle. He bangs on the door. "Brother... you have to help me!" FLASHBACK: Laurence, like Crow's Eye, was an orphan raised by Prioress Bessamine. Laurence is like Crow's Eye's half-brother--they've known each other for 30 years. Laurence begs Crow's Eye, "People from the church are after me... can you protect me?" Crow's Eye agrees, and hides Laurence in his chambers.

• I'm not sure why... but Crow's Eye decides to send Laurence to arrange a meeting with Commander Lehigh (whose barracks are just outside the city walls). Laurence warns Crow's Eye, "I don't think it's safe for me to be out in public right now, what if the church goons grab me?" Crow's Eye gives Laurence a talk about fear and sends him out anyway. Laurence says, "Well, on the bright side, I'll be out of the castle..."

• As Laurence makes his way through the castle to slip out, Drosera grabs him and pulls a bag over his head. Laurence is captured and dragged to Deacon Augustine's church. Deep beneath the catacombs, there is a little black cell with no windows. Laurence is stashed there.

• Drosera fetches the King, Lord Seneca, telling him that she has the man he was looking for. Does he want to help question Laurence? The King leaves the castle, is seen entering the church, and follows Drosera down to the torture chamber. There, they torture Laurence until he tells them that he works for Deacon Decimus. Laurence is permanently scarred by the torture, but agrees to act as a double agent. He'll inform Drosera what Deacon Augustine is up to.

The Next Day...

• The next day, Crow's Eye realizes that his message was not received. He confers with Lehigh and realizes that Laurence never made it to the barracks. Asking around, he hears rumors about Laurence being dragged out of the castle by "someone from the church". He shows up at Deacon Augustine's church, and demands an audience with the Deacon. He is met by Drosera.

• Crow's Eye demands that Drosera tell him where Laurence is. Drosera lies, but Crow's Eye can tell she's hiding something. He threatens her - release him, or I'm going to drag you back to the castle for justice. Drosera refuses, but Crow's Eye doesn't follow up on the threat. But he then threatens her again -- tell me about Laurence, or I'm going to hurt you. She says nothing, so Crow's Eye grabs her by the head and smashes it into a church pew. Drosera flees the scene, escaping the church. Crow's Eye power walks to the castle.

• Crow's Eye marches into the royal court to demand justice, and finds Drosera is already there with the King. He explains that Drosera kidnapped a courtier, and the king waves it off. He knows. Laurence is a traitor. Crow's Eye asks -- if he's committed a crime against the royal house, why is he still alive? Drosera answers that he's a useful traitor.

Crow's Eye bitterly excuses himself from the royal court. He now knows that the other Swords of Seneca are correct -- the Church's influence over the Crown is a real problem. The royal knights have to redouble their efforts to protect the king from being manipulated like this.

• Metal Legion gives the sword he stole to Serena the Witch. She thanks him, explaining that this is an important part of an uncoming plot...

• Metal Legion informs his boss, Orton No-Nose, that the chalice they stole... through it, Metal Legion suspects that the church magic is the same kind of magic that the heretics use.

• The King, sensing that Crow's Eye is very confused right now, possibly questioning his loyalties, takes his Royal Knight for a walk in the castle gardens. He explains to Crow's Eye that Metal Legion knows something about the king, a dangerous secret.. The King reveals that the secret regards the king's long lost twin brother. But he says nothing more. Crow's Eye is now even more concerned with the leverage that the Church has over the king.


Episode Premise

• The undead which isolate this kingdom from the others have massed up. The roads are filled with ghouls. There is currently no route to other kingdoms. Bodemere is isolated, a far journey from the next kingdom over. With the roads blocked, they are alone.

• In the village outside the city, Metal Legion (the Black Hood) meets with his patron, Orton No-Nose, and the witch Serena. Serena reveals the illusion spell she's been working on. Using the stolen Knight's Sword, she can disguise someone as a Sword of Seneca. Metal Legion is tasked with embarrassing or poisoning Sir Bastion.  Metal Legion asks his rival, Nigel, to go protect Simon Van Leyden, the heretic preacher.

• Deacon Augustine charges Inquisitor Drosera with the task of either recovering the stolen Lunar Chalice, or identifying who stole it to begin with.

Gameplay Begins

• Drosera visits the small village outside the city and tracks down where the Lunar Chalice is held. She attempts to kidnap the heretic preacher, Simon Van Leyden, but is disrupted by Nigel (Metal Legion's guildmate and Rival). In the scuffle, she ends up slitting Simon Van Leyden's throat. Nigel attacks and wounds Drosera, and she dashes into the church. Thinking quickly, she manages to obtain the Lunar Chalice and escape out a second story window. Drosera gives the Lunar Chalice to her patron, Deacon Augustine.

• In the castle, King Seneca decides to ride forward and meet the undead, clear the rode himself. Crow's Eye rides with him, along with Drosera, and a small company of knights. In the woods, the army encounters a large force of ghouls. They crash into it, trying to cut a path through. The King sends Drosera back to the kingdom to fetch clerics. In the center of it, there seems to be some kind of death knight - a glowing, red necromantic energy inhabiting an empty suit of armor.  Though the soldiers weapons are not blessed, King Seneca clears the road, and exposes this creature to an attack from Crow's Eye. Crow's Eye faces it in battle, but after taking a few wounds, does not feel he can defeat it. The army quits the road, having dispersed the undead host.

• While the king is out of town, Metal Legion infiltrates the castle while disguised as a Royal Knight. He approaches Sir Bastion, who is busy handling the administration and logistics of commanding the city guard in the king's absence. Identifying himself as "Sir Stoner" (lol), one of commander Lehigh's recruits, Metal Legion advises Sir Bastion that a plot is afoot, and that the church is about to try something. Sir Bastion agrees to send some knights to look into it.

• Metal Legion enters Deacon Decimus' church. Disguised as a royal knight, the assassin meets with the Deacon in his private chambers. He makes a direct threat on the church, attempting to agitate the church against the royal knights. Meanwhile, Drosera (sent by the king to fetch clerics) arrives at the church, bursts into the room. She opens the door in time to see Deacon Decimus on the floor, a royal knight standing over him. Metal Legion leaves, leaving Drosera alone with Decimus. Seizing on the opportunity, Drosera assassinates Deacon Decimus and escapes through an open window. She believes that this implicates Sir Bastion, and therefore, the Royal Knights. (funny... implicating the royal knights and agitating the church against the knights was also Metal Legion's plan)

• At sunrise, Lord Seneca and Crow's Eye return, victorious, from the battle with the undead. Sir Bastion tells Crow's Eye that something's going on with the church, some kind of plot is afoot, and he'd like Crow's Eye to investigate.

• Crow's Eye shows up at Deacon Decimus' church, pushes the clerics out of the way, and strides towards Decimus' chamber. Crow's Eye opens the door and discovers a dead body, blood everywhere. He notes the open window, and the slashes on Decimus' neck, clearly made by Claws. He investigates and finds that not only "Sir Stoner" was there, but also someone who was on church/castle business. Crow's Eye determines that someone has disguised themself as a knight, so he returns to the castle, furious at his Patron Sir Bastion for being tricked. He calls out his Patron and flips a table, then is censured for that. Sir Crow's Eye is going off the god damn rails.

• Lord Seneca calls to the Unspeakable Power, asking for guidance.. But no answer comes. People in the castle begin to whisper about the dark things the king says in secret when all the doors are closed.

• Drosera also whispers to the Unspeakable Power, and learns that the Church's Deacons are plotting to get permission to raise an army. (the church has been forbidden from raising a militia outside of the clerics needed to bless weapons)


•The king's road now clear, the city of Bodemere is bustling with trade.

•Several people learn of the potential successor to Deacon Decimus: Subdeacon Exodus. The Subdeacon, like his predecessor, hates the royal knights and Deacon Augustine. But what's different about him is that he preaches peace with the Kin - his mission is to convert them and get them to attend the churches in the city, pulling htem away from their renegade heretic preachers.

•Drosera sent Friar Laurence to gather information on Deacon Exodus. She told him that if he delivers useful info, he will be freed of his obligation to her. Laurence has been tortured, and is visibly scarred, but is too intimidated to spill the secret about who tortured him.

•Crow's Eye met with Commander Lehigh to commiserate with him. Crow's Eye considered Lehigh a father figure. Lehigh was disgraced after the theft of his sword, happy to have a friend to drink with. Crow's Eye was desperate to find who is wielding the magic behind the "Shadow Walker", the shape shifter terrorizing the city. Lehigh said that he only knows of two witches - Tril (who used to sell him Moon Tea), and Serena, who is a former Sword of Seneca, disgraced and stripped of her position for heresy. Commander Lehigh suspects that this was never true--that the accusation of heresy was a church plot designed to hurt the royal knights.

•Metal Legion had his illusion refreshed by the witch Serena. He now appears as another person. The people of Bodemere are beginning to whisper of the Shadow Walker, the shape shifter sowing discord. He asked Sereana whose throat needs to be slit now - she said that Commander Lehigh and Deacon Augustine are her biggest targets right now.

•Crow's Eye visited King Camus and requested knights to form an elite guard, to protect the king from the Shadow Walker. King Camus granted this, but is displeased by Crow's Eye's lack of discipline and disrespect for his order. The King ordered Crow's Eye to wear a humiliating garment in punishment for his failures. Crow's Eye refused. He gathered a small company of knights (in plain clothes) to increase security in the castle. In trade for these men, he was tasked by other knights with intimidating Subdeacon Exodus and convincing him not to become the Deacon.

•Orwell (the king's cousin) met with Drosera privately in the Moon Room, and hired her to find out where the Unwanted are based. Drosera warned the king about Subdeacon Exodus.

•Subdeacon Exodus met with Lord Camus, offered a gift - if the king can return the Lunar Chalice, he can perform a miracle with it - enchanting Seneca's sword.

•Crow's Eye met with Subdeacon Exodus, and offered protection in trade for him blessing the Knight's Swords during the next undead attack. Exodus countered that he will do this if Crow's Eye asks the King to allow Exodus a channel to the crown. Just outside of the church, Crow's Eye grabbed Lawrence and shook him, trying to get him to say who tortured him, to say to whom he is leaking info. A crowd formed. Lawrence backed away, and Subdeacon Exodus interposed himself between Crow's Eye and his friend the Friar. Crow's Eye persuaded Exodus that this interrogation was in the best interest of both the knights and the church.. They went into a private chamber in the church, where Laurence revealed (under threat of being beaten within an inch of his life) that he was tortured by both Drosera and the King. Crow's Eye pivoted, using this information to put pressure on Exodus - you'd better behave, because you now see what the king is capable of.

•Metal Legion infiltrated the barracks where Commander Lehigh works. While disguised, he came into Lehigh's office to deliver a report, but stabbed the man to death. Metal Legion attempted to escape the barracks, but had to hide until nightfall.

•Meanwhile, Crow's Eye showed up at the barracks, learned of Lehigh's death, and began to have an emotional breakdown. He wanted to investigate the scene, but knights sequestered him. A combination of his flipping the table on Sir Bastion, his refusal to follow the king's humiliating order, and Crow's Eye's general recklessness and madness in the past few weeks has caused the knights to view Crow's Eye as a potentially dangerous element. But by sequestering him and trying to get him to calm down, Metal Legion was able to escape the barracks unnoticed.

•Metal Legion had the unwanted spread rumors of the Shadow Walker. The city is now filled with fanciful tales of this mysterious, face-shifting assassin. People are paranoid, seeing the Shadow Walker behind every corner.

•Drosera tortured Lawrence into agreeing to find out who stole the Lunar Chalice. He now bears fresh scars, but won't tell who tortured him. Laurence is intimidated - he does not know how to find out this information. Drosera doesn't care.

•Metal Legion attempted to assassinate Deacon Augustine.. Disguised as a royal knight, he showed up at Augustine's church at night, and attempted to get an audience with the Deacon. Begging for an opportunity to confess, Deacon Augustine was not persuaded. After all, many people have been stabbed to death in their own offices in the past few weeks, and rumors of the Shadow Walker are everywhere -- Deacon Augustine is not easily persuaded to speak to an unknown knight in private. Metal Legion was surrounded, a group of increasingly suspicious priests circled around him.  Metal Legion threw his sword at Augustine, revealing himself as the Shadow Walker. Augustine was injured, but survived. Metal Legion shouted his own name, striking fear into the priests, and then made a hasty exit. Outside the church, the other Unwanted were waiting, disguised to look like Metal Legion. As the assassin burst out of the church doors, he was in a crowd of people dressed similarly to him, who scattered in different directions. The assassin escaped into the night.

•Lord Camus used his familial power to grant status to someone -- elevating one of the Kin, named Jean Reynard, as Reeve. Reeve Reynard will serve as a liaison to the court, speaking on behalf of the Kin. Reynard met the royal court, and the King asked what he could do to please the Kin. Reeve Reynard begged the king to not let any more blood be shed in the villages outside the city - for weeks now, knights and church-officials have been butchering people in the streets.

•Crow's Eye gathered his company of knights and marched towards the outer villages, determined to get revenge for Commander Lehigh.

•Drosera confirmed that Augustine survived the attack, then tried to invoke the unspeakable power. She failed, and the power demanded blood. She bled in sacrifice, slitting both wrists -- but the sacrifice was not enough, and the power denied her an answer anyway.

•Lord Seneca, too, invoked the unspeakable power. In an attempt to discover where the Unwanted are centered, he prayed to the darkness in his private chamber. His hand momentarily possessed, he pointed to a village on a map where the Unwanted operate out of. But Bodemont told Lord Seneca that he now knows who he really is - is not Camus, but Voltaire.

Is anybody reading these?  should I continue? :lol:



all good! just glad to know someone's interested in these. I'll cut out some of the extraneous actions in order to make this more readable... Here's the record of last night's session:


The city of Bodemere is crowded, stuffed with travelers and merchants now that the roads are clear. Because of the city's isolation, people travel a great distance to get here -- so when they arrive, they want to stay for a while. All encounters in public places are crowded. Lots of witnesses, bystanders, and provocteurs are around.

Orton No-Nose and Serena (the leaders of the Unwanted) told Metal Legion that they know the king is coming with knights.. They need a plan. Should we set a trap? Move our hideout? Metal Legion recommended they evacuate the village. This would take some work - not just moving physical objects, but also briefing their network of contacts about where the Unwanted are going.


Crow's Eye found Tril, the witch, and attempted to coerce her to spill where Serena is... Tril offered him some moon tea. Suspecting a trap, Crow's Eye force-fed her her own moon tea. The witch immediately fell back into her chair, zoned out, in a mystic trance. Crow's Eye couldn't wake her, so he and his knights searched her hut. He discovered a book that lists the meeting times and places for heretical services. They meet in the woods, in special spots, during certain moon phases. This is evidence that Tril is a witch, and also tells Crow's Eye where to find their gatherings.

Young Subdeacon Exodus was elevated to Deacon. He is now the 'lord of blessings', the Deacon with the ability to bless things--most importantly, weapons that will be used to fight undead. There was a large (and very crowded) public ceremony in front of the Cathedral of the Lunar Hosts. The crowd lined up to receive a blessing from the new Deacon. Metal Legion received a blessing, made eye contact with the Deacon. Then King Camus arrived with his procession, and received the blessing. While upon the dais, he ordered Exodus to bless the knight's weapons before they ride tomorrow - they are heading to the villages outside the city to "make war on the kin". Exodus said that he would not bless the weapons if innocent kin blood would be spilled. But he mentioned that he had agreed to do this for Crow's Eye, and as long as the king is only looking for witches and promises to spare the innocent, then Exodus would perform the task.

Metal Legion searched for a new hideout for the Unwanted. He broke into the castle, and found an archival storage area where old maps and scrolls and blueprints are stored. In these diagrams, he found a secret passage into the castle, and a location where guards used to meet underground when there were city riots. This would be a good new location for the Unwanted. Knowing that the king and his men are coming, Metal Legion helped Orton No-Nose and Serena break down their holdings in the village, brief their contacts, and move their hideout into the city.

Drosera seduced the king's cousin, Orwell. In this encounter, she learned that he has ambitions against the crown. He would betray the crown if it advanced his status within his family--made him look good and his cousin look bad.

The Unwanted were only halfway done moving their camp when the king arrived with the Swords of Seneca. Metal Legion watched from hiding as they attacked the Unwanted who were busy loading up carts and breaking down yurts. Crow's Eye stepped into a yurt and faced off against two burly men. He killed both of them, only suffering two small wounds in the process. Several Unwanted were captured, bound, and brought before King Camus. He demanded to know where the Unwanted have moved, but they did not know - so the king ordered them to be thrown in the dungeon, to be questioned by the Inquisitor later.

Metal Legion secured the Unwanted's position inside their new hideout (which basically looks like the Ragged Flagon from Skyrim - an underground guild holding). He then explored the city, following up on a rumor about an assassin who attempted to murder the previous king, King Kafka. When the assasination attempt failed, the assassin was thrown from the black tower by the king himself. Metal Legion discovered his skeletal remains, still clutching the assassination weapon. This weapon, called <something I can't remember> is an assassins-creed-style Hidden Blade made from a dragon's tooth. Weapons like this were only made under the lich Bodemont's rule - it is ancient and valuable.

As the credits rolled and the sun set on Bodemere, Metal Legion stood on the roof of a building and played guitar.


You didn't make Metal Legion negotiate a series of traps and puzzles (complete with convenient ways back up if he falls down) to secure the weapon of a legendary assassin? For shame.


heh, what you're actually seeing here is the SCUP equivalent of 'leveling up'.

Every session, the person sitting on your left and the person sitting on your right will "highlight" one of your stats. Once per scene, when you use a highlighted stat, you gain an advancement point. And your friends are bastards, so they will probably highlight stats that you suck with, encouraging you to play outside of your comfort zone.

Each character has three "entanglements" -- each session, the M.C. (me) will "highlight" one of them. An Entanglement is like the basic roleplaying thrust of any given character class. For example, the Entanglements for the Screw (inquisitor) character are:
Sell information for a price to someone dangerous or nefarious.
Harm someone on behalf of an important person.
Indulge in a secret pleasure with another.

You get 1 advancement point per session for fulfilling your highlighted entanglement. If you can't figure out what to do, playing towards your entanglement is a simple way to get "XP".

You also get an advancement point (up to 1 per session) when you use an Honor move (basically something that uses your reputation).

After you get 5 advancement points, you can erase them and gain an Advancement, which is some way your character changes. One of the possible options is to choose a new skill from another class.

In the last session, Metal Legion gained an Advancement and chose a move from the Gauntlet class, a move which gives him a legendary weapon. He got to choose features of that weapon from a list. And because it's basically a level-up option, the player gets to narrate how they got it (hence the lack of challenge in finding it).

plus, I had already made Metal Legion sweat real hard when he tried to find a new hideout -- he had to enter and exit the castle without notice... which was two opportunties to really fuck up and get captured. In D&D, you step through every beat of how that works... in this game, we tend to handle something like that as a single die roll, and then the player describes what shots we'd see if this was a TV show. So Metal Legion passed his "face duress" roll, and then narrated a scene where he's disguised as a peasant with a grievance he's bringing to the king, but then gets out of line and slips down an unwatched corridor, quickly ducking past occupied rooms, eventually sneaking into the quiet and empty part of the castle.

When you get to your sixth Advancement, you get to choose from a second tier of options which includes the game-ending "End of Season" moves, and crazy options like making a second PC that you can play simultaneously.


An interesting level-up system! Definitely seems a little more adversarial than most, which I suppose plays very well into the more intrigue-laden approach as well.

Sometimes I'll use rolls like that as well. If I say a character's action is successful, I tend to let them narrate out precisely how it works for them and let them situate it in a larger "scene" for everyone else.


yeah, a lot of the action in this game is very "zoomed out" compared to D&D. Like, if someone is gonna go into a dungeon and find a magical artifact, we probably resolve that with one die roll.

And I try to give players more agency in how the scene looks. Like there was a scene a few events ago where Metal Legion was hidden, and trying to steal a sword from a knight, while that knight drank with the Gauntlet.

The player began by asking me typical D&D-style questions -- how far am I from the sword? where is the closest escape route? and he started to feel less confident because of the way I described it. But grabbing the sword and running is gonna resolve with 1 die roll, and this game doesn't adjust the roll for "difficulty", so the geographic layout of the room is actually not that important.

I changed gears and said "Why don't YOU tell us -- what does this room look like? Where would your character be hiding?" Like, we try to talk about the cinematic aspects of the character and scene, rather than the specific tactical nuances.