Don't forget about Dre

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: Don't forget about Dre

Epyllion is a Kickstarter game, made by Marissa Kelly, cofounder of Magpie Games. I bought it a few days ago at Origins based on that cover, basically. It is not a dragon epic. Its Kickstarter bills at as YA fiction like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, and I would argue it really isn't that either. Its closest relative, to my mind, is My Little Pony, but it is not actually that good at it. The core is the Apocalypse Engine...but it isn't that good at that, either.

But hey, maybe the fluff is good! It gets top billing in the table of contents, after all. The game is about the lands of Dragonia, and how the ancient dragons drove away the Darkness, but now it is returning, and you and your young clutch of dragons must stop it and "discover the true value of friendship."

Dragonia is a massive megacontinent with a nearby archipelago, covering vastly different terrains. It is a tough place, but dragons thrive there. Their capital, Capital, is always packed with dragons of all kinds, and full of meeting gardens and rooftop eating basin restaurants. It is also home to the rulers of Dragonia, the Council, whose members are appointed by the dragon Houses to represent all dragons. They often use young clutches as messengers, as they usually have plenty of free time anyway.

Dragons, as a note, have neither sex nor gender.

When two dragons love each other very much, they get permission to form an affinity clutch, which is a social unit dedicated to caring for each other and, with further permission, laying eggs. The eggs are laid in a nest containing a rare or precious object, to soothe and comfort the clutch, and watched over by magic plant golems, called Guardians, who take care of the eggs while the parents are working. The Guardians also assign the hatchlings, once they hatch, to a dragon House to be raised. No one knows how this planty sorting hat works.

Dragon hierarchy is purely age-based, and every dragon of every age knows dris place. Older dragons are much bigger than young ones, and most buildings are made with older ones in mind. Young dragons have weaker but more versatile magic, while older ones specialize more but are more potent. The five age groups are Raw-Scaled Drake, Winged Drake, Long-Toothed Dragon, Bearded Dragon, and Elder Dragon.

Raw-Scaled Drakes have soft scales and can only glide, not fly. Older dragons are expected to help them. Winged Drakes can fly, but not for long distances. They are bigger, but not big by dragon standards, and can call on younger dragons to help carry stuff. They lose connection with one of the moons and its magic. Long-Toothed Dragons have strong jaw, can fly very far and are quite big. They are heavily relied on. Bearded Dragons are old giants, strong and potent. They have lost three moon ties, but have great magical power in the other two. They are leaders. ElderDragons are immensely potent, and some never reach is stage. They require tons of rest,and are elders and teachers, cared for above all other concerns.

Some can arise, becoming Ancients or Mystics. Ancients sacrifice their bodies to become mute lunar spirits, wandering and serving the will of the moons. For this, an Ancient is given a special nest dre can use as a home to be communicated with at. Mystics become statues that can give advice to those that seek them out.

Next time: Houses.

The Dragon Is Wise, A Sage Among The Ignorant

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: The Dragon Is Wise, A Sage Among The Ignorant

Dragonia is ruled by a council selected by the Great Houses, who each represent a different viewpoint, to ensure a diversity of views overseeing dragon lands. These Houses are Brynback, Kebros, Myndoth, Rothscar, Semscale and Tessith. They are changed with maintaining the land and the dragon cities, but they focus less on physical territory and more on using resources in a certain way to bolster their perspective and Dragonia. Each has a role to play, and dragons take their house traditions seriously, "even when they find themselves rebelling against their elders." So I guess dragons never rebel against their House as a whole? "Older dragons often write of the day they realized that they were becoming their elders, the time in which they realized the value of ways that they once thought of as foolish and wasteful."

House Brynback, the House of Steel, is also known as the noble house due to its dedication to tradition and the status quo. Their symbol is the "two-horned skull of honor," which symbolizes that their commitment is bone-deep. The founders of the House were the first to call dragons to band together to make Dragonia a "better place to fly for the less fortunate," and this eventually formed the Great Houses. They train their dragonkin in the art of governing and leading wisely. To them, this tradition is everything, and it is keeping to their time-tested ways that keeps Dragonia strong. It is said that the finest of them of all was Barge the Steel Champion, now an Ancient. Dre never thought much about philosophy, but when a dragon needs advice, there's usually a story about Barge that's relevant, though they can often contradict each other. When asked about this, elders say "Steel is strong and resilient but interpretations must change and shift with the times." Sure, okay. Their motto is "True honor is bone deep."

House Kebros, the House of Ruby, is also known as the fallen house due to their role in the ancient War of Shadow. Their symbol is a blade piercing a gem, to represnet their dedication to serving Dragonia regardless of the cost. They see the threats to dragon society and are first to move to protect it, even if it will hurt them greatly to do so. They are highly pragmatic, based on the tradition of their founding elder, Keetsah the Chosen. Dre is renowned for using the magic of the moons to destroy a massive hoard of treasure that threatened to divide dragonkind out of envy and greed, despite the fact that dre had a very strong hatchright claim to it. I am using words from the book, which reads exactly like this at all times. Anyway, as a result of this, the Houses were formed to guard and protect the resources of Dragonia from misuse. However, many of House Kebros joined the corrupt forces of the Darkness in the War of Shadow, tranishing their reputation and causing many to distrust the house as a whole. While dre remains a powerful mystic, Keetsah's statue was covered in silk after the war, so no one could hear dris wisdom. Some of the house believe they must do anything they can to redeem themselves, while others try to justify the betrayal as a sacrifice made to ensure dragonkin had a future. Their motto is "We are but blind until all is lost."

House Myndoth, the House of Oak, is known as the house of secrets because they focus on perserving knowledge and gathering secret ritual. Their symbol is an oak tree and "armament", because "like growth rings of a tree, the most valuable secrets guard themselves." They have many strongholds made to hold artifacts and magical knowledge, and they believe that secrets should be carefully nurtured and respected. They can be dangerous, beautiful or helpful, just like plants, and wisdom, they say, is knowing how to use each. Their founder was Olgz Gentlemind, who planted the first Guardian grove to look after dragon eggs. It is said that dre waited to reveal the secret of making the Guardians until after the Council was formed, and dre never revealed how dre came upon it in the first place. Now, Olgz is an Ancient in service to the Spirit Moon. The House's membership often pledges itself to keeping one specific kind of secret each, mastering that type utterly, while others look for new mysteries to collect and preserve, which are not yet understood, because "a known unknown is better than an unknown unknown." Their motto is "A secret known by many is no secret at all."

House Rothscar, the House of Gold, is called the architect house due to their dedication in...making buildings. Their symbol is a crown, to symbolize "dominance over excellence." They are the ones that began the tradition of recognizing elders for their achievements and dedicating strongholds to them, started by the founder Riptide the Hungry, who saw the need to preserve the individuality of dragonkind even as dragons united together. He is now a Mystic, and his advice remains the same: reward ambition and excellence with rank and honor. Beyond that, the house's goals are basically just 'make really good buildings and plans and strategies.' Whatever you do, they want you to be perfect at it. Their motto is "Failure is temporary; excellence is eternal."

House Semscale is the House of Jade, known as the house of many paths because they encourage all dragons to pursue enlightenment no matter what they do. Their symbol is a "skycompass" full of stars, to show that there is no single right path. They encourage the young to find their own way. Their founder, Sish Wind Walker, is remember as 'the trailblaszer' who first guided dragons to join the Houses. Eventually dre became an Ancient, but legend holds that every Council member once met the Ancient Sish as young drakes, so many hope to eventually meet the Ancient in hopes of their future advancement. The house has a long tradition of mentoring younger drakes, believing that elders have much to teach the young, and many Semscale elders refuse to ascend until their mentees are "their equals, both in age and in wisdom." So...never, because everyone ages at the same rate? Their motto is "A path walked once is walked enough."

House Tessith, the House of Diamond, is known as the house without a home due to the loss of their lands in the War of Shadow. Their symbol ius a dragon on a diamond, to remind them that much can be made from constant pressure and little resources. They were formed when the dragon Hummsinger sang a song of celebration and the other dragon Tash Broken Beak gathered all the house founders, speaking to them and forming what would become the Dragon Council. The song is still credited today as inspiring Tash, and is still sung in the Council chambers. They once had many magnificent lands, but these were destroyed in the War of Shadow. Some, however, saw the loss as a new chance and led the house to its current nomaidc existence, building wilderness outposts and temporary strongholds rather than anything permanent. However, a few seek to regain the house's former glory, gathering wealth and building bigger and bigger strongholds. Their motto is "Many confuse need with comfort."

Next time: Moon magic.

The Dragon Is As Agile As He Is Strong, Before The Wings Comes The Feline Leap

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: The Dragon Is As Agile As He Is Strong, Before The Wings Comes The Feline Leap

So, legend has it that the first Ancient was Orvash the Voiceless One. Apparently dragons pissed off the moons with their arrogance, so they took away their magic and threw a tsunami at Dragonia. For one hundred "sun cycles" Orvash kept it at bay with dris strength and will. Stories vary, but all end the same - Orvash, at dris final breath, faces down a wave that could destroy the entire dre gives thanks to the moons for their service, dying as dre does. This calms the moons, the wave vanishes, and Orvash is raised as the first Ancient. Since then, the moons grant magic to dragons in recognition of Orvash's humility.

The five moons are the Liberty Moon, which has power over purification and freedom, the Spirit Moon, which has "vigor" over growth and healing, the Stone Moon, which has "strength" over protection and resilience, the Storm Moon, which has "fortitude" over force and chaos, and the Void Moon, which has "energy" over negation and deflection. Moon magic is shaped by your vision of it, but can be unpredictable and hard to control. Drakes lose access to moons over time, but become more potent in the moons they do have magic from.

The wild lands of Dragonia are dangerous even for dragons, with old ruins and strange creatures. All of the animals are chimerical mixes of normal ones from Earth. The example given is the monbaba, part monkey, part badger and part bat, which is a fierce flying thing with a prehensile tail. These animals tend to be mystical and magical in undefined ways. Few dragons understand these beasts, and even fewer can speak to them as if they were people.

The other kind of wild things out there are monsters. Monsters are "so foul, they display only one aspect of a beast." So...they're animals. Normal animals. Just really big ones. These are apparently terrifying. They seem empowered by the Darkness and they are extremely tough and hard to get rid of. Perhaps they are even tougher and more resilient than the Darkness. Those that hunt them are the monster stalkers, who head out into the wilderness to kill them. See, monsters mostly keep to themselves, but they're always growing and getting stronger. Sometimes they'll show up and go after eggs, and that's a problem.

Dragons have many kinds of clutch, the basic social unit. These are formal family groups that help each other out. You can only be in one clutch at a time, and it must be sponsored by an elder dragon, because reasons. The pilgrimage clutch is a clutch formed to do quests and solve problems. They do missions for the Council. Affinity clutches are dedicated to "care and compassion between clutchmates." Ceremony clutches are there to host parties. No, really, that's it. Cultivation clutches are there to care for nature and the wildlife. Trade clutches are like a trade guild or artist colony. Wellness clutches are dedicated to the physical and mental health of other dragons.

Now we get details on the War of Shadow! It happened long, long ago, so only elders were alive to experience it. All dragons across Dragonia had to fight to protect the world from a shadow so dark it could blot out the moons. So yes, the Darkness is literal darkness. It corrupted people, objects and animals, forcing them against each other, and evne made dragons disregard their traditions, the greatest of evils. Many dragons were lost in the War, fighting each other, and so were many lands. However, at the last moment, the dragonkin drove the Darkness back, the traitors were returned to the fold and all was well. The name of the war was in honor of Flyreign, whose visions of the Darkness helped lead Dragonia out of shadow, even though dre was struck down by dris own corrupted clutch. Since then, many have forgotten Flyreign's dying prophecy of the Darkness' return.

The Darkness lurks in every dragon, in the form of greed, selfishness and pride. It aims to corrupt dragons by force or temptation, turning them against their obligations and traditions. However, the Council is denying all rumors of the Darkness returning. They probably don't even believe it, because the Darkness is subtle for a giant magical cloud of darkness. They are happy to leave investigations of the rumors to pilgrimage clutches.

Next time: I skip ahead and do playbooks because we're in the chargen chapter but playbooks are at the end of the book. Actually I should probably explain the core moves before I do that, so chargen and those.

The Dragon is perceptive, his eyes alert as his mind. Only he discerns a difference in a mirror.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: The Dragon is perceptive, his eyes alert as his mind. Only he discerns a difference in a mirror.

So, chargen. You pick your playbook, and we'll get to those. Then name, description (you can look like whatever kind of dragon you want) and your color. Your color is very important and while you can have other patterns mixed in, one color is the color of your friendship gems, which you put in a pile in front of you. Then you pick one of two Houses to belong to, determined by your playbook. This gives you a house obligation, and in any session where you fulfill that obligation, you can erase a Shadow from your Shadow track.

Your stats are Charm, Courage and Cunning. You get to give +1 to one of them from your base values determined by playbook. You also get a Virtue, chosen from two listed for your playbook. This is the virtue you like to see others demonstrate, and whenever another player shows that virtue, you can give them a Friendship Gem, regardless of if your character is present or not. Friendship gems are primarily spent and returned to their giver to activate moon magic, and you can't do magic with your own gems - just those given to you by others.

You get one move from your playbook in addition to its signature move. Then you go through your Fellowship, which determines what friendship gems you and the others have to start and how you get along with the clutch.

So, what moves are there for our three stats? Quite a few, actually. And, like in Dungeon World, you mark XP whenever you fail a roll. Some moves will ask you to roll +Friendship Gems, you roll and add the total number of gems you have from the clutchmate in question, but do not return them. When you roll +Friendship Gems Returned, you pick a number of gems to return to the player that gave them to you and roll, adding that number. You don't get the gems back even if you fail.

You also may have to mark Shadows for various reasons - getting hurt, triggering effects that cause it, etc. You fill in a box on your Shadow track for that, as you are temporarily corrupted. Whenever you mark a Shadow you pick a Shadow condition associated with that Shadow box, and you must choose to immediately take an action reflecting one of the following:
Once you fill the whole track, you become your Shadowself, which is like Darkest Self in Monsterhearts. This lasts until you meet the trigger to end it.

So, moves! Let's see what they actually are.

When you act despite danger, roll +Courage. On a 10+, you succeed despite the odds. On a 7-9, you fumble, stumble, or embarrass yourself. The DM will offer you a worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice.

When you stand up to an older dragon (NPC), roll +Courage. On a hit, they acknowledge your worth and address your concerns. Pick one:
On a 7-9, also pick one:

When you convince a dragon, roll +Charm.
For NPCs: On a hit, they will do it if you offer them a favor, gift, or useful information. On a 7-9, they don't get it quite right or they don't tell you everything you need to know.
For Clutchmates: On a 10+, both. On a 7-9, pick one:

When you try to mislead or trick another dragon, roll +Cunning. On a hit, they are fooled for a moment; you learn a valuable secret or create an opportunity. On a 10+, you either get both benefits or you confuse them for some time.

When you study another dragon, roll +Charm. On a 10+, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1.

When you spend a moment to survey an ancient or arcane area, roll +Cunnin. On a 10+, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1.

When you call on the magic of the moons, roll +Friendship Gems Returned. On a 10+, both. On a 7-9, pick 1:
On a miss, the moons act as they will, without your guidance.

When you give in to the Darkness, mark a Shadow and roll +Shadows Marked. On a 10+, you harness the Darkness, casting powerful shadow magic. On a 7-9, you harness that same magic, but it's powerful - almost too powerful. On a miss, the Darkness chooses how the magic manifests, without your guidance.

When you help or hinder a clutchmate after they have rolled, roll +Friendship Gems (max +3). On a hit, add +1 or -2 to the roll. On a 7-9, you expose yourself to cost, complication, or harm. You cannot help or hinder your clutchmates while they are calling upon the moons.

Also, when you end a session, you ask the following questions as well as removing a Shadow if you met your Obligation:
For each "yes", you mark XP. When you fill your XP track, you erase it and take an advancement. When you have taken all the advancements for your age bracket, you advance an age bracket.

Next time: Age brackets and playbooks.

Do you glow with radiant moonlight and emerge changed?

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: Do you glow with radiant moonlight and emerge changed?

So, in Raw-Scaled Drake, your XP bar is five ticks long, you get a base of +0 to call on the moons before spending Friendship Gems and you can call on all five moons. Your three advances are 'Take another move from your playbook', 'advance your signature move' and 'take +1 to any stat (max +3)'. Then you become a Winged Drake and can fly. Your XP bar is now four ticks long, you only get access to four of the moons, and you still have base +0 to call on the moons. You get the same three advances before you move to the next weight age class. At that point you move to Long-Toothed Dragon. You lose access to a second moon, but now you get a base of +1 to call on the moons. Your XP bar is still four ticks, but instead of being able to take a move from your playbook, that advance is 'take another move from another playbook'.

When you advance to Bearded Dragon, your XP bar is now three ticks long, you have a base of +2 to call on the moons and you lose access to a third moon. You have only two advances this time - advancing your signature move and 'take a ritual of your House':

When you hit Elder, you get base of +3 to call on the moons but only have one moon to call on. Your XP bar is three ticks, and you have two advances: 'your House dedicates a stronghold to you' and 'retire your character into a Mystic or Ancient'. When you get the stronghold, you get to decide what it's for and where it is. When you become an Ancient, you tell the DM where it happens and what you look like after, as well as where you go after and why your moon wants you there. If you become a Mystic, you tell the DM instead what your statue looks like and what's written on its base. You become an NPC either way and, if you want to keep playing, have to start over with a new playbook and a baby dragon.

Speaking of playbooks...our list is the Academic, the Crafter, the Daredevil, the Nature Adept, the Seer and the Warrior. You know, all basic dragon archetypes.

We start with the Academic, or nerd dragon. They get a base of Charm +0. Courage -1 qand Cunning +1, and their Virtue is either Curiosity or Honesty. Their Obligation is either Myndoth (Discover something important about an ancient mystery) or Semscale (Defuse a tense situation between dragons from different houses). They give one Friendship Gem to one dragon because dre guided the Clutch when lost in the capital, and a second to a dragon that showed them the threat of the Darkness by getting their nose out of a book. They take a Friendship Gem from a dragon that doesn't understand dragon history and the importance of the old ways, as they will teach that dragon.

The core move of the Academic is Field of Expertise: You carry one of the Great Tomes of Dragon Knowledge. Mark which one you keep with you always:
When you consult the tomes you carry for information, tell the DM what you find and roll +tomes consulted. On a 10+, the information is accurate and complete; take +1 forward to act on the answers. On a 7-9, something is missing or mythic, useful but not everything you need. On a miss, you've got something terribly wrong; the DM will let you know what you got wrong when you need to know.
When you advance the move, you mark a new tome and tell the DM who gave it to you.

Other moves:

Old Debts: When you stand up to an older dragon by reminding them of debts and obligations long forgotten, roll +Cunning instead of +Courage.

An Ear For The Arcane: When you listen closely to a magic ritual, roll +Cunning. On a 10+, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1. Take +1 forward to acting on the answers. On a miss, the ritual ensnares you, the DM will tell you how.

Peer Review: When you go to your friends for advice about a specific problem, give them a Friendship Gem and hear what they have to say. If you follow their advice, tell them to mark experience; you get a +1 ongoing to see it through. If you ignore their advice, mark a Shadow.

Familiar With The Old Ways: When you study a Bearded or Elder Dragon, add these questions to the move list:

The Academic's Shadowself is: You've Held your tongue for too long. You have the best plans to move your Clutch forward and no one knows the history of Dragonia better than you do. Make sure your clutch knows how smart you truly are. You are The Academic. Return from your Shadowself when a friend convinces you to admit that you don't have all the answers.

Next time: The Crafter and the Daredevil.

So where is dre even going to put that ring?

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: So where is dre even going to put that ring?

The Crafter is the art dragon. They get base Charm -1, Courage +0 and Cunning +1. Their Virtue is either Ambition or Tradition, and their Obligation is either Kebros (Put yourself in danger to obtain rare materials or treasures) or Rothscar (Design something to help a friend solve a tricky problem). They give one Friendship Gem to someone who inspired them to leave their worskhop to fight the Darkness and another to someone who has their back when their tinkering gets into trouble. They take a Friendship Gem from someone who asked them to make something useful for the clutch.

The core move of Crafter is Dragon Trade: You are known for your gifts in the draconic arts. Mark two mediums you have dedicated yourself to from the list below:
When you create something in your medium, roll +Cunning. On a 10+, pick 2. On a 7-9, pick one.
On a miss, the work is fundamentally flawed. The DM will reveal how at a later time.
When you advance this move, you mark two new mediums and say who taught you to master them.

Other moves:

An Eye for Detail: When you study another dragon after complimenting them on a unique feature or object they possess, roll +Cunning instead of +Charm.

Crafty Claw: When you repair broken equipment or machinery, roll +Cunning. On a 10+, you do it, no problem. On a 7 -9, it's possible to get it moving again, but only at a cost. The DM will tell you what you have to do to fix it up. On a miss, something vital is missing or permanently broken.

Monument to the Moons: When you create (and describe) a work of art, you can call upon the Moons and store the effects inside your piece. Name an event that will activate the item, and the magic will be released when it is triggered.

Saddlebag of Potential: You collect odds of ends, including bits of armament and ancient artifacts, just in case the inspiration strikes. When you search your saddlebag for something small enough to be carried with you, roll +Cunning. On a 10+, you have just the thing, or close enough. On a 7-9, you have something similar, but it's incomplete or flawed. On a miss, you've used it recently, but you might be able to get it back.

The Crafter's Shadowself is: More than an artist, you are a machinist. You see dragons as tools to be wielded, manipulated, and forced to see their true potential. Make sure your clutch sees your vision for Dragonia. You are The Crafter. Return from your Shadowself when a friend convinces you to admit that you care more about dragons than objects.

The Daredevil Daredevil starts with base Charm -1, Courage +1 and Cunning +0. Their Virtue is either Cooperation or Discretion, and their Obligation is either Brynbak (Convince a member of your Clutch to undertake a dangerous task) or Rothscar (Put yourself in between danger and a Clutchmate). They give one Friendship Gem to someone that made them fel welcome in the Clutch when their beast companion fell ill, and another to someone that taught them not to underestimate the Darkness. They take a Friendshi[ Gem from someone they saved from a monster.

Beast companion, you ask? Why, that's the signature move! You find yourself in precarious situations that other dragonkin avoid, but your beast companion will follow you anywhere. Just like other wildlife in Dragonia, your beast companion has aspects of many different animals. Choose up to three. If you only circle one, other creatures of Dragonia will view your companion as a monster, but somehow you two manage.
Abilities (choose one):
When you advance this move, mark a new ability and tell how the beast got its new talent.

Other moves:

Danger is My Middle Name: Take +1 ongoing to acting despite danger to overcome physical obstacles.

Clear Headed: When you charge headfirst into a dangerous situation, roll +Courag.e On a hit, ask one or more of the questions from the list and take +1 forward to act on the answers. On a 10+, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1:
On a miss, someone gets the jump on you before you can get your bearings, putting you in a tough spot and separating you from your friends.

Slippery Scales: When you attempt to escape any form of physical entrapment, roll +Courage. On a 10+, you escape. On a 7-9, you slip away, but you leave something important behind or attract unwanted attention; the DM will tell you which. On a miss, you still get away, but the costs are great: mark a Shadow.

Share the Load: When a fellow dragon is about to mark a Shadow, you can mark off a Shadow on your Shadow Track instead. You don't have to act on the Shadow, but it stays marked until you clear your Shadow Track.

The Daredevil's Shadowself is: You are fast, furious, and unstoppable. No danger is too great for you to face, and you don't need a Clutch to slow you down. Make sure your clutch always sees you out in front. You are The Daredevil. Return from your Shadowself when a friend convinces oyu to admit that you need your Clutch.

Next time: The Nature Adept and the Seer.

That dragon is bulging out its cheeks really hard.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: That dragon is bulging out its cheeks really hard.

The Nature Adept is a dragon druid. It has base Charm +1, Courage -1 and Cunning +0. Its virtue is either Honor or Independence, and its Obligation is either Myndoth (Avoid detection or infiltrate a location) or Tessith (Restore a symbol or sanctuary of the wild). It gives one Friendship Gem to someone who was a voice of reason when dealing with older dragons and another to someone who helped defend a sacred space from the Darkness. It takes a Gem from someone who it taught to listen to an animal.

The core move of the Nature Adept is Wild Speech: You share this world with beasts and creatures of the wild. The calls of these creatures are a second language to you. You can understand and communicate with animals in a basic tongue of the land, allowing you to study them, insist they accept your help, and mislead or trick them as if they were dragons. (NOTE: 'insist they accept your help' is not a move.)
When you advance this move, you pick one of stone, water, earth, fire, wind, ice, wood, or metal each time. You then explain to the DM how you learned to speak to that element.

Other moves:

Master of Two Worlds: When you act despite danger while traveling through the wild, roll +Charm instead of +Courage.

Spirit Guide: You have attracted the attention of the land itself. A small spirit guide follows you wherever you go, offering aid and counsel. When you ask your spirit guide for advice, roll +Charm. On a 10+, mark experience and take +1 forward if you follow its guidance. On a 7-9, take a +1 forward if you do as it says and mark a Shadow if you don't. On a miss, the spirit is insistent; if you ignore its advice, it leaves your side until you are able to make amends.

Smokescreen: When you keep still in natural surroundings, you blend in and are nearly invisible. Enemies cannot spot you until you move or speak.

Beast of the Land: When you commune with the spirits native to the land, roll +Charm. On a 10+, they impart their wisdom upon you; ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1. On a miss, the spirits are in trouble and need help with a ritual of their own.

The Nature Adept's Shadowself: You are pure and one with nature. Dragonia is a distant memory, a false artifice obscuring the true destiny of the land. Make sure your clutch knows how much you value the wild over Dragonia. You are The Nature Adept. Return from your Shadowself when a friend convinces you to acknowledge the value of dragon culture.

The Seer is a fortune-telling and Darkness-seeing dragon. Its Virtues are the same as the Nature Adept's - Honor and Independence. It has base Charm +1, Courage +0 and Cunning -1, and its Obligation is either Kebros (Mark a Shadow while engaging the Darkness) or Semscale (Use secret knowledge of the Darkness to aid another). It gives a Friendship Gem to someone that helped save it from the Darkness. It takes a Gem from someone whose knowledge is unparalleled in the Clutch but who does not see the danger ahead, and another from someone it dreamed of long before they met.

The core move is Haunting Visions: You are haunted by visions of the Darkness. At the start of the session, roll +Charm. On a hit, you've seen a vision of the Darkness that will aid your Clutch's efforts; learn something useful and interesting about the tasks at hand. On a 10+, you've seen the true face of the Darkness; ask the DM a followup question as well. On a miss, your vision is too dark to aid you; the future it foretells is grim and painful.
When you advance this move, you pick one new feature from this list and say who helped you gain it. When you roll Haunting Visions, you may:

Other moves:

One of Them: When you mislead or trick a dragon corrupted by the Darkness, roll +Charm instead of +Cunning.

Wyrmtongue: Return a Gem and ask the Darkness for something you need. The DM will tell you what it costs. If you pay the price, the Darkness will deliver it.

Secret Catcher: Add the following options to study another dragon before they have seen you.

Touch the Darkness: When you consume a piece of the Darkness, roll +Charm. On a hit, the Darkness grants you a vision and answers your questions. Choose one from the list below. On a 10+, choose two. The visions...
On a 7-9, also choose one. The visions...
On a miss, you attract the attention of the Darkness itself.

The Seer's Shadowself: You are magnetic and persuasive. You know dragonkin cannot be trusted any more than the Darkness can; you may have to traffic in lies and backroom deals to get things done. Make sure your clutch knows you are willing to sacrifice their feelings to get the job done. You are the Seer. Return from your Shadowself when a friend convinces you to trust a dragon you do not know.

Next time: The Warrior.

Oh shit I forgot to draw an arm

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: Oh shit I forgot to draw an arm

The Warrior is the final playbook, in theory for fighty dragons. They get base Charm +0, Courage +1 and Cunning -1, and their Virtue is either Daring or Humor. Their Obligation is either Brynbak (Destroy an unnatural menace born of Darkness) or Tessith (Defend someone weaker than you fro mthe Darkness). They give a Friendship gem to someone that's stood by their side in fighting a monster of Darkness and nother to someone who was there when they were most vulnerable, and take a gem from someone they are training in politics. Politics? Yes, politics.

The core move of the Warrior is Scales of Honor: You have dedicated your life to the betterment of Dragonia. Choose one boon:
Mark a Shadow each time you conceal or hide one or more of your boons. When you advance this move, mark a new boon and tell how you earned it.

Other moves:

Battle Plan: When you face an enemy in combat, roll +Courage. On a hit, ask 2. On a 7-9, ask 1. You get +1 when acting on the answers.
On a miss, they catch you off guard. Take -1 ongoing until you can assert your dominance or rally your allies.

Dragonheart: You are a true friend to your Clutchmates; you may give Gems to characters that act according to either of your virtues.

All Fired Up: Once per session, you can return a Friendship Gem to act despite danger with a 10+.

Lies Do Not Become Us: When you speak frankly with a character, you can ask their player a question from the list below. If they answer it truthfully, they may then ask you a question from the list. You must answer truthfully.

The Warrior's Shadowself: You are unstoppable, a hurricane whose might will singlehandedly shatter the Darkness. Dragonia must be protected and no one else is strong enough to help you. Make sure the clutch knows you are the only one who can save Dragonia. You are The Warrior. Return from your Shadowself when a friend convinces you to ask for help.

Overall, I think most of these playbooks are dogshit. They all have boring stat-replacer moves, which is bad, especially with only three stats and a likelihood to honestly be pretty decent at all of them - the worst you will ever be is -1, and that's if you don't spend your free stat bonus to get that to +0. Further, many of them have just giant useless lists of stuff for what they can do with their signature move - the Crafter's move advancing won't actually make them better at anything, just give them more silly things to pick off the list of mediums. The Daredevil is barely coherent and has no apparent theme to any of its powers. The Nature Adept is probably the best of them, with a relatively coherent theme and set of moves that only have a few glaring flaws. The use of the Darkest Self in this game is not very good and I don't know why it's there. And, of course, I have no idea what genre these playbooks are meant to emulate. None are especially dragon-y, and if they're meant to be the My Little Pony cast, there's some notable missing things (Pinkie Pie) and the Seer is just weird. So I really have no idea what's going on here.

Next time: GM advice!

Physician, heal thyself

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: Phsyician, heal thyself

We begin with the GM's three agendas for Epyllion, and I'll take them one by one.

First: Make Dragonia feel draconic. The book advice is to be creative and to avoid using 'human' language and perspective in explaining - a restaurant table is a giant rough basin or dining slab, sports involve boulders and lakes. much of the game as it's written seems to ignore that its protagonists are all dragons. Hell, someone brought up to me recently that the art includes a lot of swords in some of the sigils, which are definitely not designed for use by critters with claws and giant fangs.

Second: Make the clutch's choices meaningful. The players should be allowed to change large things about the setting, including traditions or the land itself. The DM should remind them that their decisions mattered when the world and NPCs come up. Okay, sure, that's decent enough advice, and the game doesn't seem to directly contradict it.

Third: Play to find out what happens. So, you know, the Apocalypse Engine standard. Don't try to control what the group does, let them make their own choices.

Then we start to go over the DM's Principles, which are the rules the DM has to follow, as opposed to the agendas, which are goals to pursue.

First: Fill Dragonia with adventure, mystery, and wonder. Quote: "Dragonia isn't a monotonous slog of dragon happenings, and neither is your story!" So put in weird landscapes, things and plots. We are told that literally anything could be corrupted by Darkness or blessed by the moons, so I guess your default adventure is 'a random magic thing happens to your stuff.'

Second: Address the dragons, not the players.. So, again, Apocalypse World standard.

Third: Make your move, but root it in the fiction. Your standard 'don't use the name of a DM move, describe it'. Except the advice on how to describe it is not necessarily the best - it just says to "work a little magic into the description" and only has one example. This is a thing that I feel is better done in other * World games.

Fourth: Make the history and traditions of Dragonia matter. We're big on those traditions, here. Bringing up history and traditions in your game and making them important to current events is very important, regardless of how the clutch reacts to tradition, apparently. (Except, again, the game is very clear that Tradition Is Always Good.)

Fifth: Present the houses as dynamic and evolving, but root them in the past. We are told that all politics, obligations and traditions should be filtered through the Houses, but also that we should be showing how different two dragons of the same House can be despite being united in loyalty to the traditions. Also that dragons should treat the different Houses differently from each other. So again, basically #4 but more setting-specific.

Sixth: Ask provocative questions and build on the answers. Which it turns out broadly translates to 'when you need ideas about people or places, ask your players to answer questions about them to get the history behind it for ideas.' Decent enough advice.

Seventh: Exaggerate the hierarchy of size and age across Dragonia. Which is to say, the game is again going 'Dragonia is built on top of a hierarchy of age and size, be sure to play that up constantly.' Everything is built for old dragons and the society is designed for them, and young dragons don't yet fit in.

Eighth: Name each dragon, give them a description and desire. So basically, make sure the clutch cares about NPCs, make them more than a faceless mob and give them stuff they want.

Ninth: Challenge the clutch's preconceptions and prejudices. Basically, the advice here is to go 'ah, but what is true evil after all' even when the Darkness is, in fact, the manifest cloud of evil darkness. The example is to have a dragon who kidnaps a Council member turn out to instead by just desperate for supplies and vulnerable, or a big animal terrorizing a festival has actually been hurt by the locals. "Explore the ways the Darkness can manifest in good intentions, and show how cruelty and evil deeds can be enacted without corruption." Except, again, corruption is defined as anger, selfishness, pride, etc.

Tenth: Be a fan of the players' characters. We all know what htis means by now, it's an Apocalypse World standby.

Last: Remind them of the creeping Darkness. Essentially, every problem should ultimately lead back to the Darkness. Even small conflicts and issues are doors for the Darkness to take hold, because it's everywhere and in everyone.

Next time: More advice.

When your clutch seems to be getting along with Fayright Thunderbelly and the encounter seems a bit boring...

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Epyllion: When your clutch seems to be getting along with Fayright Thunderbelly and the encounter seems a bit boring...

We are now discussing moves! A brief discussion is had on moves being soft or hard, depending on how nasty a thing you are doing. The trick is to balance soft and hard moves. The game instructs the DM to make a move when there's a lull in the action, a player misses a roll or there is a golden opportunity to do so. Basically, the DM does stuff when things get boring or when the PCs mess up somehow. Moves push the story along. The game divides them into Wilderness, Culture and Darkness Moves.

Wilderness moves are:
Put someone in a high-stakes situation, either directly or by threatening offscreen NPCs.
Reveal a new and fantastic creature, because the game is very proud of its chimerical animals.
Awaken something better left sleeping, which I assume can be metaphorical as well as the literal 'you find a bear,' but you never know with this game.
Take away one of the clutch's Things. Things is being used as a game term here for the very first time in the book!
Obfuscate the way home, to remind the PCs that the wilderness isn't home for dragons.
Unleash chaos, disruptive and unmanageable.
Tempt a dragon with mysteries and ruins.
Present a path or structure for exploration.
Show the roots of Darkness taking hold, which...I find odd, because really, it's hard to corrupt stuff that isn't even people, but sure. Maybe monsters or something, or an animal that's a real asshole.

Culture moves are:
Announce off-screen challenges and conflicts, because nothing makes the game more exciting than off-screen stuff.
Pressure them with competing ideologies, and I have no idea what they're competing with because as we've seen, the game doesn't have a coherent ideology besides 'tradition is always good.'
Turn their move back on them, which isn't a hard move anywhere else because...reasons.
Reveal an unpleasant truth, again culture-only because...why are these even divided up?
Charge them with a task or obligation.
Offer an opportunity, with or without a cost.
Lock down an important place.
Show the Darkness feeding on a dragon's pain.

Darkness moves are:
Corrupt them with Shadows.
Announce the coming Darkness, which is infuriatingly vague.
Confront them with corruption.
Reveal the Darkness's hold on Dragonia.
Demand a meaningful sacrifice.
Bind someone or something to an object. What?
Put someone in direct and immediate danger.
Activate the clutch's stuff's downsides. So it's stuff, now, not Things?
Tempt them with power and promises.

We then get some 'tips and tricks' which boil down to borrowing stuff other people made, albeit with credits. The first is John Stavropolous' X-Card, and this baffles me, because a game that wants to be MLP With Dragons should absolutely not need to go into uncomfortable territory in the first place. Though it does note that the X-Card "can be used for the tone of the story" - so you can tone police if you think dragons can't, say, be clowns. They also suggest "roses and thorns" which is a fancy way of saying 'ask everyone for one thing they thought was good and one thing they didn't like.'

That's basically the game. There's a bit on hazards, but it's really just more of the same - examples of problems you can get from animals, friendship, traditions, etc., or how to use a countdown clock to track an event's progress, though that is so vague that you might as well not use the clock because there's no real specifics on when to advance it besides 'when it feels right.' Oh, and it talks about custom moves, for when new situations come up or when hazards need to feel special, but go into no real detail on what is and isn't appropriate for them besides the basic '10+ is success, 7-9 has a cost' stuff. Instead it points us at Urban Shadows, with a warning that it "isn't a book for small drakes."

And finally, in a perfect encapsulation of the tonal incoherence of this book, the list of inspirational media! Books and movies are combined, and are: Avengers, Dragonheart, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Lord of hte Rings, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Princess Mononoke and Percy Jackson. Games: 7th Sea, Apocalypse World, Blood and Honor, Dungeon World, Houses of the Blooded, Monsterhearts, Mouse Guard, Urban Shadows. Television: My Little Pony: Friendshi Is Magic, Sailor Moon. Video GameS: Legend of Spyro, Mass Effect, Skies of Arcadia.

I defy you to find a linking thread to those lists.

The End.

The other major things I purchased at Origins were Ninja Crusade 2e and Blades in the Dark, both of which are much better books.