Time After Time

You know the Time Loop story? Where the protagonists are stuck repeating the same events over and over? You may remember it from Groundhog Day, Star Trek, or Dark Matter. It’s everywhere.

I wanted to run a time loop session for my Predation group, and make it fun. I’ve seen a bunch of these, but the one that really made me want to do this in a roleplaying game was Dark Matter’s All the Time in the World. Instead of focusing on one or two characters who knew they were time-looping, it started with one and added a character each loop until the whole gang was in on the secret. Perfect for a roleplaying group.

Predation-Cover

“I’m Going to Mess with Your Agency.”

For many games, messing with player agency is the worst thing a GM can do. So of course I wanted to do it.

I started out announcing I was going to do it before we got going. I did this to let them know this will be a different session and that I was going to do commit a terrible GM sin. 4 out of my 5 players were fine with this announcement. The 5th gave me a baleful stare. “This better be good.”

The Setup

I started with the newest edition to our gaming group, and told her she was gesturing wildly and talking nonsense, then told the heavy of the group “You can’t stand her raving so you hold her off the ground and clamp your hand over her mouth. Now you can hear the others decide what to do.”

As the rest of the group decided what to do about the strange sleeping aliens (think shape-shifting mind flayers who ride dinosaurs) and the shoggoth who was advancing, I sprung the first TPK. A secret door popped open, an arm came out holding a gun that shot a black hole into the chamber with the PCs. The black hole errupted with terrible damage, sucked the PCs to it and then let them fall down a giant hole and into the maws of a hungry shoggoth. Everyone dies.

Shoggoth

Click

I run the same scene again and this time let the new player go, telling her she’s been stuck in this loop and died over and over. “What do you do different this time?” I let her know she can attempt to convince one other PC the truth. I let the other players know they have no memory. My players are great, so those who have no memory ham it up, telling her to “calm down and take a chill pill.”

She convinces another PC, and they steal the black hole gun and throw the mind flayery creature to the shoggoth.

Then the way out gets blocked by a giant plug and the shoggoths eat everyone. TPK.

Click

I randomly choose another PC to remember. Now there are 3, and they know the secret door is about to open. Old squid head loses his black hole projector and the whole group runs out before the plug closes. The party sees strange transdimensional beings ripping apart the high tech lab they were in last session. Everyone shrugs and runs out and hears one of the strange creatures say “Ut oh.” Then everyone dies in a thermonuclear explosion as the fusion reactor gets torn up and goes boom.

Click

We start with the secret door, throw the squid-head to the shoggoth, run past the plug, and drive off the creatures ripping apart the reactor. In the jungle, there is an ambush by mind flayery creatures riding upgraded Utah raptors. TPK.

mind flayer on a giant croc
Not a Utah Raptor

Click

I had one more time loop ready to go, but reading the table I could see enough was enough. They used the black hole projector on the shoggoths and found a secret subway out of the area and I ended the loop. We had some more fun, but the time looping came to an end.

Takeaways

I asked the players if was fun or frustrating. “Both.”

“That was really fun! Frustrating to die again and again, sure. But the pace… was absolutely perfect. Great job with the distracting glimmer of hope that we might actually escape!

and

I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was almost a riddle we had to solve. Or do trial and error – as we did.”

As a GM I loved it. So many TPKs! 😉 I won’t use this again this campaign. Maybe in a time travel game like TimeWatch it might work multiple times, but in a normal campaign I think once and done is great.

Get Those Print Books and Cards Now!

Holiday Rush

Our printer, Lightning Source, is about to get slammed for the holidays. To get your book or deck of cards on time, order soon.

This affects all our print products you buy online.

For Numenera: The Sun Below: City on the Edge and The Sun Below: Sleeping Lady.

For 13th Age: Gods and Icons, Gods and Icons Player’s Companion, and Icons and Conditions

For 5E: The Gods Have Spoken

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From Lightning Source:

SEASONAL PRINT ON DEMAND SHIPPING SCHEDULE

Because of high seasonal demands placed on carriers and Lightning Source production facilities, please place your print on demand orders by the following dates so we can make our best efforts to get them to you in time for the holidays:

  • Hardcover: November 24th, 2017
  • Softcover: December 1st, 2017

FLGS

You can pick up The Gods Have Spoken, Gods and Icons and the Gods and Icons Player’s Companion at your Friendly Local Game Store! A great way to support gaming and your community.

Which stores? Check here.

If they don’t have it in stock, ask them to order it from Indie Press Revolution (IPR).

Indie Press Revolution; Dread Unicorn Games

And see our Brick & Mortar PDF Guarantee

Gelatinous Dragon

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Gelatinous Dragon

Here’s some art from the Gods and Icons Upgrade Pack, for the 13th Age Roleplaying Game. I was going to add a gelatinous owlbear, which seems so 13th Age, but I worried the fine folks at Fire Opal might do the same and then think of the confusion. 😉

This is obviously the huge version of the gelatinous dragon, but don’t worry, we have the stats for a large one as well.

21 new monsters make the Gods and Icons Upgrade pack the mini-bestiary you need now!

Art by Daniell and Garret Reeser

Recipe for Adventure

Hey, game masters, ever wonder what the heck you’re going to run next game? Sometimes a little research can make it all come together. For what it’s worth, he’re how I made my last adventure.

Start with an Idea and an Internet Search

Throw your idea into a search engine and see what comes up. Or just jump right to Wikipedia and start your search there.

My idea: Nicolas Flamel, alchemist. NicholasflamelI knew he was a big name in alchemy and used in a number of fictional works (Harry Potter for one). Wikipeida tells me more.

I find that according to legend he A: Discovered the Philospher’s Stone and B: Found the secret to eternal life. What’s not to like about that?

There’s a bit about his gravestone and where he was buried in Paris. More research finds that the graveyards of Paris were all dug up and the bones of SIX MILLION PEOPLE put into catacombs, really old limestone mines that undermine the city of Paris.

Now, if you live in Paris, this is old news to you, but to me it’s the best thing ever. After inhaling the very great Wikipedia article on the Catacombs of Paris, I search for “Catacombs of Paris Movies” because why not? And I find As Above, So Below. I love movies, so I rent it (Amazon Prime) watch it, and take notes for the adventure.

  • Giant walls made of bones and skulls
  • Unlit, but still hot candles that show someone is down in the catacombs
  • Women in white robes and face paint singing
  • Crawling over bones
  • “To Get Out Go Down” said by an out of touch person that the characters knew years ago
  • Growing fear
  • Dead end except for brackish water that can be swum through to reach hidden chambers
  • The undecayed corpse of a crusader knight
  • Collapsing passages
  • Having to move, and the only way forward is also down
  • Entrances that vanish
  • Panic in the dark

And so on. I filled up every square centimeter of a page while watching. I would pause the movie to jot down a note. I used maybe 1/5 of my notes, but it was great to make all of them. The movie helped me improv the adventure in the catacombs.

as above so belowMy game isn’t set in the modern day like As Above, So Below was, but so much translated to my 1895 setting (play testing the Yellow King RPG). If I was running D&D or 13th Age or a Cthulhu game, almost all would still work. I’m not saying the movie is the best horror movie ever (there are serious flaws), but it is so damned stealable for great catacomb crawling adventures. Plus Perdita Weeks and the rest of the cast do a great job, and I found it watchable.

Watching movies as game prep!

Putting it Together

I used a player’s backstory (I think my sister is a werewolf) as the hook, and had the sister connected with an NPC, Pascal Saccard, who vanished into the catacombs after reading “The King in Yellow” and researching Nicolas Flamel.

1200px-DJJ_1_Catacombes_de_Paris
Not a movie prop, this is real.

I had a number of scenes straight from the movie, including having the players find Pascal in an unreachable space. I played him as remote and haunted. He would answer yes or no questions with a nod or head shake, then stare at the limestone wall. He told them to “go out you must go down.”

I needed Flamel in the catacombs, and hey, he “found eternal life,” so of course he’s a vampire.

I ran through the game system’s mental hazards and listed those I thought we’d hit: looking at / reading the King in Yellow, seeing things that can’t be like the passageway they just crawled out of vanishing without a trace, and so on. I looked up what I could do with a cave in, and made notes so I could find it in play.

Actual Play

In play, the cave-in was more fun because despite me making the roll harder for the people in the back, the one in the middle failed, so the freaked out person in the back crawled screaming over the middle PC, shoving his face down into the bones while the roof caved in.

Cave-ins,  underwater swimming in the dark, odd visions, and worse took a toll. By the time they confronted the crusader corpse, they were pretty depleted in fine horror movie fashion. The meeting with the vampiric Nicolas Flamel gave them the clue they needed for the next game. He doesn’t like the Yellow King any more than they do, so he advised they track down all the copies of the play and destroy them.

A good time was had by all.

Gods and Icons Upgrade Pack

We’re hammering out the final sections of the Gods and Icons Upgrade pack, a 13th Age roleplaying game supplement that adds to Gods and Icons. So what’s in it?

Art

We have new art for the gods, great for showing your players or helping you with descriptions.

  • We have three pantheon symbols, one for each pantheon
  • Three new images per pantheon
    • Bright Gods: The Path of Earth, The Path of Heaven, and Perikalo
    • Thirsty Gods: Balamet, Chazda, and Ixtaa
    • Old Gods: Delkrey, The Lords, and Tullet
Path_of_Heaven_v1
Path of Heaven, by Alysha Lach

We also have new creature art for the bestiary (below).

Saints

A short list of saints from all the pantheons. Great for picking names of shrines, NPCs, and bars. St. Schmavic is the patron saint of bars for the Old Gods.

Bestiary

New creatures, most with strong connections to the gods. This is the biggest section of The Gods and Icons Upgrade Pack. A great selection of creatures from level 1 to 12.

Lord Tenebras Noctem 800w
Devil: Lord Noctem by Justin Wyatt

Status

We’re revising it now, and it will soon go to editorial, then layout, then ship.

Format

This will be a PDF.