2020-07-30 Drifting without a campaign

Things are still up in the air. We played two sessions of Finsterland. We’ll play the end of the second intro adventure next time, and possibly start with the creation of characters for Katzhulhu/Cathulhu. I was hoping that these weeks without having to referee would recharge my batteries. I’d be reading The Drow War and be enthused about an invasion from evil spider elves from the depths of the earth. But… not yet. No yet.

I’m starting to get that familiar feeling where I’m reading a ton of pages, I’ve reached page 117, started skimming the house of the Colombe Mansion, and… I don’t know. Nothing. I don’t feel excited about running this.

So now what. As far as I remember my creativity isn’t good when “powering through.” Excitement doesn’t come with hard work. So I could turn to Hex Describe. That always seems to work because it’s open ended, the stuff requires me to connect the dots, so to speak, and that’s an initial form of engagement, at least. And then I’m slowly drawn in.

Alternatively, I’m still fascinated by Silent Titans. I’m easily influenced I fear and now that I’ve read “The Ramanan Sivaranjan Awards for Excellence in Gaming 2020” mentioning Silent Titans, I’m once again interested.

Here’s what he says:

The world Patrick describes and Dirk illustrates in his abstract style is so thoroughly weird and unique. I was worried it was perhaps too weird: how do you even run this thing? But no, that was a foolish concern! I’ve been running this adventure straight from the book! It’s worked out great. – Ramanan

That sounds promising. Perhaps I should just use it with the Into the Odd rules that come with the book. No weird translation to Halberds & Helmets.

Perhaps, as a first step, I should start reading it again. See whether it grabs me.



I ran a Mausritter adventure a few weeks back for my group. It’s rules are basically Into the Odd with a few variations and I quite liked its simplicity, though it did take a bit getting used to the “you just roll damage” combat, it DID make combat so much less of a drag on the session, and rewards planning ahead (getting the initiative/surprise really makes a difference).

Derik 2020-07-31 11:42 UTC

It’d be interesting to see for sure. I played in a play by post campaign for a while using Into the Odd and I ended being on the “those” people – started missing turns and then just faded away. (I’m sorry!) I don’t remember much about the combat system, which means it was probably OK enough because it just got out of the way, or the referee was so skilful it just didn’t register.

I also read some of your recent blog posts and noticed the part about watching out for foxes (and then seeing them again!) – so cute! I’m also the kind of person that wakes up at night and goes to look at the street because we used to sometimes see a fox, but not any more. It seems that this summer they picked a different den.

– Alex 2020-07-31 13:12 UTC

I’ve been running it using Electric Bastionland, which I realised after the fact might be subtly different than what’s presented in the book. (No levelling, for example.) I think Patrick wrote things based on an earlier iteration of the rules. No matter, it’s all quite similar and simple.

The adventure is relatively easy to run straight from the book. The dungeons in particular. The overland has a lot of stuff going on, and I think making your own notes as you play is probably useful and good.

I wish there was maybe more interconnection between NPCs and more stuff pushing you to explore the Titans beyond their being an obvious source of treasure. (https://www.pillowfort.social/posts/1592634)

Ramanan 2020-07-31 19:14 UTC

Yeah, right now I’m skimming back and forth and trying to imagine how it would work at the table – do your read the poetic prose to players or do you translate it to English? Do you cooperate at the table in giving meaning to words like “ego machine”? I fear the translation on the fly to German…

– Alex Schroeder 2020-08-01 09:17 UTC

I would often just read the bullet points out to the players straight up. The descriptions are often quite terse. Also some of them are so wild I think you need to because they describe something so abstract or nonsensical.

Ramanan 2020-08-02 11:21 UTC

I have Silent Titans, but find the art (and especially the maps) aggressively offputting. I just can’t see myself looking at it while running a game, and the maps are... just too confusing. I feel like arty maps really get in the way of readable/usable maps.

Derik 2020-08-02 13:47 UTC

I totally get that! I wrote about it last year:

… so then I leafed through Silent Titans and felt that it was even more abstract, even less usable, less showable, nothing I could look at and interpret as a map, or an image of a creature, or a location, but a jumble of things that provide an emotional reaction, a jumble of something, a weirdness, and I don’t deny that it fascinates me, but at the same time it’s also a bit in that line of art I like less, that I find less useful for a product that I don’t just buy to be entertained but to aid me at the table, to be useful in a very specific way. – 2019-05-15 The purpose of art in a RPG product

– Alex 2020-08-02 14:49 UTC

I think the whole space is meant to be kind of unintelligible. I think the maps work at conveying that idea. They are more art than traditional maps. I think this is fine, though: the dungeons are pretty simple and all structured identically. It’s not really an adventure about dungeon crawling exploration. I actually just show the players the maps because they are too pretty not to share, and they don’t really reveal much because they are so abstract.

Ramanan 2020-08-03 02:41 UTC

Ah, interesting! That would cut one of the annoyances I often have with referee-facing art that you can’t show to players. If the map is art and the art is inspirational and navigating the map isn’t part of the challenge, then you might as well share it.

Perhaps I also have a wrong impression about the nature of the thing. I used to think: this is a great psychedelic mini-setting, urban adventure, wilderness, dungeon crawl, all in one, twenty sessions worth of material – when it could just as well be five very simple and small psychedelic dungeons in a weird town, one or two sessions for each.

I’m going to read a bit more today and see how it goes.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-08-03 05:35 UTC

I am curious about other ways to run it. I’m 5 sessions in, and have been trying to run it like I would any other adventure. But I’m not 100% sold that works. The random travel in the regions above the Titans feels a bit too random. I have been trying to think of other approaches that make it feel less like slot machine travel in play. I suspect you could borrow ideas from the story game scene and do a lot more hard framing of things. There is a lot going on in the book, and lots of ways to approach playing I suspect.

Ramanan 2020-08-04 19:26 UTC

Ah, now you’re really making me want to give it a try! 😀

– Alex 2020-08-04 20:38 UTC

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