Vastlands ep.0-The Mistmill Fight Club

The end result of character creation – a whole town of adventure awaiting!

Right, its been a while.
The Plague, The Youngling. Its all conspired to keep me away from creative stuff.
But that being said, there has been some gaming and imaginative stuff going on. The Castaldo game went for 6 sessions, but then fell apart because of some genre-dissonance…

So we swapped to a more “violent criminals” game, Blades in the Dark, and that went really well, 12 sessions (which I might have to post a little about later). But after that game came to an epic conclusion, I got a request for something more “traditional”. So it was decided to try some old school D&D type game: 6 stats, d20, Wizard, Thief, Fighter, and all that jazz.

A challenge is that coming from a more narrative game (BitD) to OSR is a big mental leap. One thing I noticed with Blades was that the character creation was fantastic – having a common bond (the gang) really pulled all the players together and made the game feel more immersive. The closest I’ve seen to this is the “playbook” character creation from “Beyond the Wall”. What is more, that game is super compatible with B/X D&D (and so a slew of others). So we started with the following setup:
– Pick a playbook based on what you want to play.
– We go around rolling on the random tables creating our character (stats, history, HP, spells, links etc)
– While creating characters, we are prompted to create bits of the home town by drawing on a map.
– The I picked OSE classes that closest matched the character, and the player picked one for future advancement.

This worked brilliantly. Each roll gave a little bit of the character’s childhood as well as people in town they interacted with. It also gave me as GM lots of hooks I could use! More importantly it gave the players some great hooks as to how their characters might behave toward each other. I heartily endorse using these playbooks (or going whole hog and using the game system!)

What came out the other side was the “Mistmill Fightclub”. Four young adults who grew up and got into trouble together, and would look out for one another come hell or high water!

Alette Brynmore – The Lord’s forgotten daughter
The Brynmore family are the hereditary rulers of Mistmill Manor and the surrounding town. Generations ago the family drove off the barbarous Goat-Kin and claimed the fertile lands around the river. Alette grew up beholden to the family name, always solving problems for townsfolk, but never mentioning her own. She chafed under the restrictive demands of the family, and often snuck off to meet her friend Aaron, a peasant boy. When she couldn’t get out, she spend her time in the highest tower looking north towards the looming forest, reading books about mythical beasts. She spent much time caring for her grandmother, who taught her the secret of the family – their knowledge of the language of the Crows.
With the help of another friend from town, Solvang, she stopped a plot among the town guard to steal from the family vault

Estmund Brychan – Squire.
The Brychan family are known for their elegance and beauty. Estmund was sent to squire for one of the Brynmore sons to toughen up. He took his quest seriously, and became the toughest among all the squires (and townies who fought them). An earnest young man always looking to help, he became friends with the Head Butler Wilfram, and helped around the Manor a lot. His Knight, Sir Brynmore, was a good match, always charming and gallant, until he was killed in a jousting match against Sir Guillifer due to an accident. The grief stricken widow was comforted by Alette and Estmund, and decided to stay in Mistmill even when her mother came in person demanding that she come home. To this day Estmund keeps his Knight’s mantle to remind him to strive to be his best.

Prudence – The Witch’s apprentice.
Brought up in a farm outside of Mistmill. She led the poorer children in their battles against the “fancy folk”, and every time she visited town she would spend time with the fisher-folk swapping stories. The local Witch grew interested in this commanding child, and asked Prue to be her apprentice. Under the Witch’s tutelage, Prue learned the secrets of the spirits of the forest and learned how to summon her own servant. She nearly lost her life when a hooded stranger tried to take the Witch. Only thanks to the additional help of Estmund were they able to turn the tide and drive off this stranger. The Witch was spooked by this assault, and went into hiding in the forest.

Solvang – student of the dark arts
Son of the town tailor, he spent much of his time weaving on the loom alongside Chiara his sister. He joined the children’s battles, taking out his frustrations and never backing down. He also spent time with the fisher-folk and traders, listening to the stories of far-off places down the river. Solvang was captivated by the stories of a Foreign Stranger who regularly visited the town. He eventually began to learn strange occult secrets from this man. One day he suddenly disappeared and left behind a Book of Ritual Magic, from which he learnt the dark secrets of necromancy. Sharing their secrets, Prue and Solvang ventured into an ancient tomb on the edges of the forest, and Solvang’s dark powers helped save Prue from a dark spirit they awakened. He took an Iron Crown from those dark passages.

I have to say again – I LOVED this process. It took a lot longer than expected when doing this over discord, but the joint creation of the town and local setting was just gold. As the players rolled up the events for their character, they gained stats, abilities, and got to put places and people on the map of the town. These events and places really gave me a lot of threads to work with in making the game interesting. It also made everyone excited to see where these characters go in the future!

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