Talking more of open strategy games. Why?
Because currently, why living in a new place, this is my method of gaming with folks I’ve said goodbye to.
So, I’ve just been dreaming these things up to the point where I got a Blades in the Dark OSG up and running the same day as posting an article about it. Eight players, one mob, six turns, yeesh. ‘Tis a deep, wonderful hole I’ve dug myself. See the very end of this report for a cute little announcement about it.
So yes, I’m keeping the conversation about these alive because I have a selfish interest in them. But why not just call it an interest then?
Examples of these games have been asked for, so edit one I shall.
This is the Landover game, played out by six buddies of mine over eight turns. It got wild.
Now, instead of just throwing EVERYTHING at you, we’re going to take a perspective of one character alongside the reports. Note: there is a massive element of the game missing here in the form of side conversations, secret messages, and general scheming. I don’t have access to all of the talking back and forth.
For this the king of Landover, Evan Johnson, will be our eyes and ears in Landover.
King of Landover: The most recent buyer of the title of king in Landover, looking to secure their throne.
Lords of the Greensward: Selfish men that represent a majority of the human population in Landover. They tire of dragon raids and spineless kings.
Strabo: The dragon of Landover. Bored and lonely, but most assuredly the strongest being in the magical kingdom.
The River Master: The fairy leader of Elderew, the city of outcasts from the mists and the fairy world. Secretive and protective.
The Mark, Lord of Abaddon: Nested in Abaddon, the underworld of Landover, the Mark strikes without warning to throw the magical kingdom into chaos.
Nightshade: A castaway magic user in Deep Fell who is in it for the power.
G’home Gnomes: A pathetic bunch that can’t defend themselves and always pledge loyalties to their strongest savior.
The Trolls of Melchor: This clan of trolls is hungry all the time. They are stupid and easily manipulated into a blinding rage.
Evan’s Objectives and Positions
-Win the pledges of the other Actors
-Remove the Tarnish from the Sterling Silver
-Defeat the Mark in single combat
-Start in Sterling Silver
-Worn medallion = protection from evil magics
-Questor = incompetent court wizard
-Abernathy = cursed terrier scribe cook
-An empty treasury
A new king has come to Landover who purchased the right to rule from the wizard who calls himself Meeks. Many have tried to hold the kingship before and failed…
Evan’s Turn 1 Action
Action: I am going to the Heart to show myself, fight in a tournament if need be, and be introduced to the people.
Outcome: Prove my worthiness to rule Landover to the Lords of the Greensward and whoever else may show up.
-I am near the Heart, so I can spend more time in preparation with the terrain
-I have the promise of Meeks that I will be king.
-I am genuine about trying to be a good king.
Turn 1 Report
Evan Johnson hosts a ceremony to establish his rite to rule of Landover, which takes place at The Heart. “Do you pledge to protect the realm and give your very life to do so should it be required?” Afterwards, the King holds his own in an impromptu duel with a knight of the Greensward. The court wizard of the King casts a spell poorly and makes it rain all over the food. The dog scribe condemns him for his stupidity. Many go home cold and hungry.
The G’home Gnomes make an appearance at the ceremony and throw themselves at the feet of the Lords of the Greensward. “Save our people from the trolls of the north! They eat us like rabbits!” “Tender, tender rabbits…”
Meanwhile, terror seizes the heart of the rural peasants of Greensward as an abomination of Abaddon attacks, spitting fire in its beetle form and spewing vomit as a creature of the deep. Then an unexpected savior arrives in the form of STRABO THE DRAGON. The people are grateful, but when worship is demanded of them, some grow afraid. Others do not hesitate and slay the cowards, birthing their pledge of fealty to their new protector in blood. Cries of “great is the dragon!” can be heard throughout the land…
Ref Private Message to Evan #1
The ceremony is sparsely attended for a coronation. Or what you imagine a coronation would be like. An old wizard, a dog, a fairy Ranger, the G’home Gnomes, the men of Greensward are there. Questor conducts the rites from a dusty tome. “Do you pledge to protect the realm and give your very life to do so should it be required?”
Afterwards, you do well in the impromptu duel with a Greensward knight. Many watch excitedly. It seems no recent “kings” have stepped up to equally dangerous challenges. However, after the fight Abernathy warns you that the blade of the knight was poisoned. He could smell it so.
Questor attempts to conjure preparations for the meal and ends up instead copying the current weather of Lake Country instead, which is cold and rainy. Many of the guests are soaking wet. Questor apologizes for his mistake.
Evan’s Turn 2 Action
(Now this is where I did a bad job of enforcing the “you only get one action” rule. It gets messy fast.)
Action: Send Imere and Questor to Fire Springs.
Outcome: This action is meant to map out and get an understanding of the lair itself. Through this, other Actors can make their way there and slay Strabo or rob his hoard.
Leverage: This can be accomplished because Imere is a ranger. Strabo also seems to be leaving his lair, so that danger may not present itself. If push comes to shove, Questor can teleport them away.
Action: Go with Abernathy through Greensward.
Outcome: This action will show me as a leader who is for the people and means to help the people. I am hoping to begin rallying the people against Strabo.
Leverage: Because of my previous actions at the Heart, the people have already seen my honesty. I also know that the people are sick of Strabo. One Lord has already pledged to me, so the people are beginning to lean toward me, and by mapping out Strabo’s lair I will gain the allegiance of another.
Turn 2 Report
There is a commotion in Elderew. A short skirmish takes places, resulting in a Greensward victory.
The dragon continues to grow in both size and force. He has seized farms and food, though Strabo touches it naught.
King Evan rallies peasants in Greensward that are eager for a better life ahead.
A loud CRACK! echoes all the way from the Fire Springs.
Lots of blood has been shed. This was truly a grizzly few days in Landover…
Ref Private Message to Evan #2
The ranger Imere arrives on the scene just as you finish a speech. “High Lord! The Mark! He resides in the Fire Springs! Questor gave himself up so that I could escape to tell you. Sir, we must get him back. I owe that wizard my life!”
You go to the Greensward and rally a small force of peasants. But they seem keen on leaving the Greensward and moving into Sterling Silver. They fear the dragon.
Evan’s Turn 3 Action
Action: Take Abernathy and Imere with me and whatever Greensward people I have with me to where the cultists are.
Outcome: Take them away from Strabo’s influence or kill them to weaken his hold on the land .
Leverage: I will promise the peoples after this one skirmish they can move into Sterling Silver and I don’t expect the cultists to have really any more fighting experience then them.
Turn 3 Report
The King of Landover gives chase to the Dragon Cult that flees north. As the dragon turns to devour his foes, a knight appears and shields his king. A blinding flash can be seen for miles. Awe for the king grows…
All other activities lurk in the corners of Landover…
Ref Private Message to Evan #3
You and your militia trail Strabo. Seems he is heading north. You draw swords, the men yell, and then…
You black out.
You are later told that the Paladin came to your defense. He appeared and fought off Strabo, much to the amazement of Imere, Abernathy, and all the people, including many of the once-cultists. They pledge their loyalty.
You are also told that the two ranger hostages have been delivered to Sterling Silver from the Lords of the Greensward. The same Lords are using the training grounds and other facilities of the castle in your absence.
Evan’s Turn 4 Action
Action: Take the people back to Sterling Silver and train with those who wish to become an army, otherwise the people are welcome to stay. I’m also gonna have Abernathy keep an eye on Nightshade who will be using my library to research the Mark’s portal.
Outcome: I need an army that is loyal to me if I’m gonna take out Strabo, and I don’t particularly trust Nightshade, so I want to make sure he’s up to stuff, but if he does what he said, it may help me 1-v-1 the Mark.
Leverage: Training has already begun by the Lords, so they’re ready, and Jed is on my turf so he can’t rely deny my guy without putting a target on himself.
Turn 4 Report
Silence shrouds the south ward as Lord Lacdannan (A Lord of the Greensward) looks from his balcony north toward Rhyndweir. He then yelps as the roof collapses and a massive claw seizes him into the night. His leg joint is pulled from its socket as he continues crying out, hanging in the air over the Greensward. Strabo is seen flying northwards once again.
Yells can also be heard this night in Melchor. The trolls wail as they are feasted upon by vengeful gnomes. Tortures begin…
Cries are heard too in East Ward. A defense is raised and the abominations continue the offensive over the next few days. The fighting is at a standstill. The East is deprived of resources and in dire need. The armies of Abaddon laugh with malicious mirth.
The forges of Elderew run hot this night. Such has not been for a hundred years…
Ref Private Message to Evan #4
“High Lord, Nightshade kept to his research of the portals. But why we allow this, this SORCERER access to our precious library is beyond me.” Abernathy growls, very much like a dog and then excuses himself, embarrassed.
He returns, asking “M’lord? What of Questor? When shall we rescue him? It pains me to admit, but I miss the old scarecrow… Pardon.” He leaves again.
The rangers (there are three here if I’m not mistaken?) take up the training of the peasants. You now have a small unit of archers, loyal to the guardian of their families.
Abernathy bursts into the chambers. “HIGH LORD! The Tarnish! It’s! It’s!” He runs outside and beckons you follow. Sure enough, the Tarnish is beginning to fade, the primary color of true silver coming back to the castle once again. A toast is raised that night to your good health as King of Landover…
Evan’s Turn 5 Action
Note: I’m returning the River Master’s rangers and giving my archers to the Lords to retake the East Ward
Action: I’m going to the East Ward to fight the Mark, leaving Abernathy behind at Sterling Silver to help the River Master’s daughter and pick up Questor because the Mark is supposedly letting him go
Outcome: I beat the Mark, fulfilling my quest, and help kill off the abominations
Leverage: I got a necklace that protects me from evil magic, the River Master gave me a demon killing sword, the Lords and I have been pretending to be on bad terms so I will be unexpected, and the Lords will be fighting head on the abominations
Turn 5 Report
The horde of abominations outside East War are reinforced by a titan abomination with the head of a goat, ox, and goose in frightening combination. The Armies of the Greensward arrive with knights, gnomes, and archers under the leadership of Lord Corbic.
They do battle with the forces of Abaddon and force them to flee. King Evan, not finding The Mark on the battlefield, challenges the titan and does away with its demon-eyed goat-head. The rest of the body leads the retreat east.
Yet the damage is already done. East Ward has been demolished. One man of the Greensward, called Tom decries the incompetence of the Lords of the Greensward and leads the remaining farmers away. “To Rhyndweir!” he cries. “To the embrace of the dragon!”
Note: The timespan of each action has now shortened a bit. We are fast-approaching the end here.
Ref Private Message to Evan #5
The Mark is not here. You challenge the titan abomination and win soundly. Many cheer, a handful still have doubts. “He cannot summon the Paladin like the kings of old… What good is he?” Those that grumble side with Strabo.
Willow has been safely delivered to Sterling Silver.
There is no trace of Questor here at the East Ward.
Evan’s Turn 6 Action
Action: going to Lake Irrylyn to mess up the Mark’s portal and him
Outcome: I wanna beat up the Mark to fulfill that quest
Leverage: everything in my previous action, plus however many people are helping this I am going to be particularly wary of Strabo. I know he’s coming and is after me
Turn 6 Report
At the Fire Springs, Stabo and his cult swoop in, but The Mark has already fled through the portal here. As the dragon lands, an explosion is set off, propelling cultists and abominations alike into the sky. The Springs have been rigged to detonate by a scoundrel magic-user…
The portal to Abaddon at the Fire Springs is closed. The portal to Abaddon at Lake Irrylyn is closed.
The game of cat-and-mouse continues!
Ref’s Private Message to Evan #6
The Mark is not here (at Lake Irrylyn). You successfully close the portal.
Evan’s Turn 7 Action
Action: marry the River Master’s daughter at Sterling Silver and send Imere to find the Mark and track him in preparation for the last turn.
Outcome: by marrying her, I will have officially strengthened the ties with the fey, and Imere tracking the Mark will help me go to the right spot next time so I can give a blanket “I’m going to the Mark” without going to the wrong spot
Leverage: Imere is a master scout, and I think the abomination is in the North Ward, so I’ll have him start there and go where he needs to
Turn 7 Report
Love is in the air!
King Evan announces his wedding ceremony to the River Master’s daughter and invites those he chooses, but as with many public events, more show up than are actually invited.
Strabo, for example, arrives as an honored guest of the father of the bride. He and his, erm, followers, act as proper guests, eating and drinking and by all accounts behaving well.
Abernathy has made everything prim and proper, everything set in the colors of silver and green; the colors of the crown and the River Master. During the ceremony, overseen by Questor, the final bit of tarnish fades from the walls. The clear bell from the castle rings out over the gathering, swelling the hearts of many…
…As the North Ward burns in spite and suffering.
Ref’s Private Message to Evan #7
Questor arrives at Sterling Silver. “High Lord! The sorcerer of the Deep Fell and I were the ones to set off the Fire Springs! Such a spectacular explosion has never been seen before in all of Landover! Please, do me the honor of taking me back into your good service, my king.”
Imere: “The Mark is in the North Ward. He may attempt to flee through the portal.”
The library is unharmed.
Evan’s Turn 8 Action
Action: Im going to the North Ward or wherever else to beat the Mark
Outcome: finish the quest, unite the land
Leverage: sword and amulet, he thinks I’m gonna be betrayed by the Lords in the North Ward, and my mage and Nightshade will be trying to magically track him if we need to go elsewhere, and Imere can track him too, and The River Master should be helping too
Turn 8 Report
The climactic battlefront emerges. The North Ward becomes the centerpiece.
The Mark continues to ravage the city, with his two-headed titan as a cruel and angry master of its citizens.
Enter the Lords of the Greensward, who are granted access to the city. Confusion. Surprise. Ungodly metamorphosis. Half of the men are transformed by the Mark, which then murder the other half in their abhorrent rage. Corbric himself assumes a demonic form.
Then arrives the King of Landover, his dog-scribe and fool-wizard at his side, followed by the true believers of the power of the crown.
The forces of good and evil clash among the rubble.
A horn blows. The rangers and exiled fairies of Elderew have arrived with the dragon flying overhead, ridden by their leader, the River Master. Many abominations are consumed in fire and filled with iron arrows.
Suddenly, the Mark enters the field. SNAP! A trap cage of magic is placed around him and the King Evan, held secured by Nightshade and Questor. The Mark accepts this and charges. The medallion of the Kings of Old glows.
The Paladin arrives.
Except Evan is the Paladin. He sees through his eyes, becoming the famed protector of Landover. Triumph.
Followed by bleak disaster.
An incredible mass of stone and rubble is thrown from the sky at Nightshade, disrupting the spell. Strabo laughs a hideous laugh as the River Master too is also cast down from on high, bones broken. With his imprisonment gone, the Mark flees through the portal.
The Paladin stands and throws his sword with deadly aim, spearing the Mark in his shoulder before he makes his escape. The battle is over.
The North Ward is nothing. The Greensward is scorched. Only Sterling Silver remains untouched, standing tall and shining brightly.
Landover celebrates its King for his mettle. The River Master is restored after a time. Strabo broods with his brood for the next several years. Nightshade, though cripple, provides counsel to the King in Sterling Silver. The Lords of the Greensward revert to human form and are arrested for their act of treason. The Mark is lurks in Abaddon, hunched and fuming from his wounds.
The telling is done
The tale is now over
A new reign begun
In wild Landover
If you made it this far in reading, congrats. Heartfelt thanks after all the time this took putting it together. 🙂
If you’re THIS interested in open strategy games, consider joining in as a part of the citizenry MOB of Crow’s Foot in the previously mentioned Blades in the Dark Open Strategy Game.