My games are submitted for Coulee Con, an annual gaming convention in my area.
A month ago I had been telling folks that I was going to be running Monolith’s Conan board game, all day, every day. This was because time constraints made most offerings—even rpg offerings—smaller, tactical scenarios, and Monolith Conan is 100% this kind of experience anyway. I also was going to run it because I just really like the game, and, since I privilege long rpg campaigns in my Monday night home game, I never get a chance to play it.
But when it came right down to submitting events, I realized that I feel more comfortable offering what grows directly out of what has been occupying me creatively lately, and so here is what I submitted to TableTop:
Middle-Earth Role Playing: Shadows Under Amon Muina
Long before The One Ring, there was Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP). This adventure, using Iron Crown Enterprises’s original 1986 game, is based on Tolkien’s aborted sequel “The New Shadow” and involves PCs investigating a Fourth Age secret cult within the suburbs of Minas Tirith.
Rolemaster: Grendel’s Lair
Play out the first part of the epic Old English poem Beowulf using Iron Crown Enterprises’s Rolemaster system. This scenario was offered last Coulee Con but with a different rpg system.
Rolemaster: The Green Wight
Explore the Green Howe for a deadly date with the Green Wight! This scenario uses Iron Crown Enterprises’s Rolemaster system to reimagine and retell the ultimate events of the epic Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
(If you wish to see any of these adventures in detail, please visit my Middle-Earth Role Playing/Rolemaster page on this site. Home gamers, this does not mean you!)
A lot of Rolemaster there, yep. I think, if things continue along these lines, I might have to join the Order of the Iron Crown.
The “Rolemaster” I’m offering is sort of an interesting experiment for con play, too. I have devised my own character sheets for both MERP and RM2 that use the NPC tables for quick generation of the only stats that should matter for con play. I will allow players to customize their characters, however, by using Background Points to increase adventuring skills, buy Secondary Skills, or roll on item tables. I’m also innovating an additional resource that allows players to reroll one or more of the percentile dice by spending Power Points (a resource usually reserved solely for spell-casting). If this “con rule” works out, I might consider offering it at home.
The Weeping Lady Barcorodon
Last session was a “beard party,” as a gamer who wasn’t able to attend called it. This meant that the only ones present were myself and two other gamers, those of us who have sizable enough beards.
For being just a party of two, these two gamers did quite well. They were rolling fantastically and so quite easily dispatching a number of Walking Dead, mostly by allowing them out of their niches (the poor things had been scratching and pushing at their cupboard doors for some time) and hacking at them or burning them as they tried to get out.
This session was the first “evolution” to the full RM2 attack and critical tables, and since I had them all “cut out” (the previous owner had done a lot of that cutting for me), put into plastic and affixed with easily identifiable tabs in a binder, it went pretty smoothly. I think the one thing I forgot was that critical effects are supposed to be one step lower on Walking Dead, and I’m still forgetting to consult all relevant weapon stats while rolling on the attack tables. I heard someone on a podcast recently refer to what, back in the day, he and his friends began to call “Volo’s Law.” As many know, Volo is an unreliable researcher, a fictional character developed for one of D&D’s properties — Forgotten Realms, I think. Whenever this player’s group realized, belatedly, that they had forgotten something in the game, they simply said, “Oh, well, that’s Volo’s Law,” which was to mean that sometimes things just don’t go the way they are “supposed to,” an accurate enough reflection of reality itself, I believe, and so I’m using this sentiment also to shrug away seeming inconsistencies in my simulationist game, as well.
This last session got most interesting when the players encountered the statue of the Weeping Lady of Barcorodon. Now, I had no idea this was her name until the Hobbit Scout character, with the Lore Secondary Skill that he uses a lot, rolled really quite well on a Static Maneuver. I allowed that he hadn’t come across anything in Dunadan records, but he did remember, from somewhere in his subconscious, a Shire song called “The Ballad of Berry Salt-Tears.” In the midst of the adventure I was able to improv the basic sketch of the folk tale, and I since then I have written the ballad itself.
The Ballad of Berry Salt-Tears
A Shire Song
Berry Salt-tears wept beside
The ocean’s splashing strand.
Her lover, sailing on, had gone
From out the warded land.
For many years he had been lost
In Ulmo’s crashing seas,
Not one long night in all that time
Had Berry’s weeping ceased.
Her tears fell from the ocean’s edge
Into the churning waves,
And, mingled with Uinen’s blood,
Flowed through abyssal caves.
Until it reached yon lover’s soul
Where long he had abode
In mansions built of glowing coral
Where deepest waters flowed.
And so his soul was called across
The fathoms to his love,
And from the surf he told his tale
To where she wept above.
He had been wrecked at stormy sea
So many years ago;
Two porpoises his lifeless corse
Bore fathoms deep below.
To Ulmo’s land beneath the sea
Where elves eternal dwell,
And given form of watery mien
Maintain a ceaseless revel.
And Berry Salt-tear too may go
And live beneath the sea
If love for him she had enough,
Her home to ever flee.
But Berry Salt-tear balked a beat
At that uncanny offer,
And in that time the moon broke free
From wispy gray cloud cover.
No more within the sucking tide
Against the sea-spray rocks
Did suitor float with loving gaze
And seafoam streaming locks.
And Berry Salt-tear rose from where
She’d wept for her lost man,
And ever since that day, they say,
She never cried again.
Whence this Barcorodon/Berry Salt-tears? Well, it’s origin, much like the statue of Kardakion (feet on the backs of two porpoises, at the entrance to the crypt) comes from the box text of the adventure Crypts of Kardak from Creation’s Edge Games (though the box text statue is two twining snakes and nothing at all like I devised), this one, much more directly, comes from a description of what the adventure calls the “Weeping Maiden.” Again, as with some of the dungeon elements that I described last post, there is magical light and non-natural “explanations” for things, so I happily reskinned the statue here. There was supernal light, though mine came from the shallow basin in her hands into which the statue wept. The adventure descibes the tears falling into a basin at her feet. And the tears themselves? I made them natural cave-flow formations that dripped down from the ceiling, becoming one with her hair and trailing down around her shoulders. There was some magic here — undoubtedly MERP’s “Channeling” magic — but only in the tears that collected in the basin. The rest formed more rock flows, like candle wax, that dripped down over the sides of this shallow glowing bowl.
The session was a success. The Hobbit Scout had much more difficulty with a Crypt Rat than either he or the Dunadan Ranger had had with the Walking Dead. He was reduced below 0 hp but brought back with a Ring of Healing. They are ready to recommence exploring the Crypt next session, hopefully with some new recruits (other gamers).
I also have struck on a great idea for campaign xp. Every session, PCs gain 1,000 xp in addition to the regular calculated xp per the tables in MERP and in RM. Should these characters die, new characters can be created with xp equal to 1,000 per session in which the gamer has participated. All other xp, specific to those particular deceased characters, are lost though.