Sunday, March 6, 2016

The setting and Mission Area 2 - Another example for The Grind!

I have yet to get a problematic draw in the system I wrote about yesterday. It makes me happy :) Since it's so easy to make and has a high variety due to interpretation, I thought about doing some more examples here on the old blog, which you could use as short adventures in your own game, just read as another example for what I talked about in that first post or to get an impression how I imagine the world in The Grind looks like ... But first I'd like to talk about that setting a bit more. On with it!

A World of Woe ...

Dwarves are gone but for the drunkards in the slums of the big cities. Elves are worse as they prefer to dream themselves to death and who wants to see that?! Fairies are the new roof rats, carrying diseases and everything that isn't nailed to the ground. They're also loudmouths, but nothing a crossbow bolt couldn't cure.

Yeah, the trolls ... Those poor suckers got it worst, as the establishment really hates them. You won't see many of them in the near future. Well, maybe the odd skull mounted to a wall, but that's it. Who else? Well, there are those who already lived in the trash when civilization had been still on the up and up. You know, those deemed dirty and bad company, like the goblins and the ratfolk. Turned out they're good people. Or as good as you'd expect with the world in the gutters.

Humans? Eh, humans get along. Sure, there are those just used for the "cause" and even those fighting back, but humans thrive when adapting. And they are thriving right now, I'll tell you that. So easily manipulated and satisfied. Reward cruelty and they go the extra mile. We still don't know what caused the great cataclysm, but what we know now is that the demons found a warm welcome. Not armies of noble knights fighting them, but backstabbing greedy bastards and those stupid enough to believe the demon's Propaganda of a "better world".

You won't believe it, but some even sell their body for a few bucks. All they get is a cheap clockwerck automaton body so they can keep working and a small crystal for their soul to get trapped in. Sounds sad? Well, they won't stop telling you how it's the best thing that happened to them in their whole life. Think about that for a while ...

Glimpses of a world in ruins

The Grind describes a dystopian fantasy setting. A world after an apocalypse where the gods lost and hell took reign on earth. Turned out demons aren't that different from the rest. They got their rules and politics and ambitions and in the end they didn't change that much at the top.

Sure, industrial plants, pollution, slums, the battlefields full with the corpses of those who actually did fight back and the magic fallout where they took desperate measures ... all that misery and people still keep saying it could be worse. If you work yourself to shreds, you can pay for some cheap grub and a roof on over the head. Actually, the population increased under the demon's rule, all desperate to obey for a buck.

I won't say there is hope, but there is resistance. Dragons aligned to form an army, something believed to be impossible before. There are rumors of a hidden realm where they still keep the demons at bay and use humanoid pawns to intrigue among each other instead clawing themselves to death.

There is the Last God, once tricked into a prison of unbreakable ice by some giants, he was the only god strong enough to survive the onslaught. His temples form pockets with glimpses of what the world looked before hell broke lose. Churches, green pastures, round and happy faces ... His paladins  are called Odal's Is (The Ice of Odal) and travel the world in full plate to spread the world and confront evil where they find it. But also pilgrims take it upon them to travel through the demon infested world from pocket to pocket to prove their faith to Odal, the one true god. They are all a bit fanatic and racist preachy, I'm afraid.

And there is Niffelhaven, the fabled city of portals, ruled by powerful mages who managed to built an effective shield against the demon armies at their front gate. Their wizards roam the ruins of the world. Some gather knowledge, some are on the road to nuke demons back to hell and others go from settlement to settlement to recruit those with potential for citizenship. 

Just listen to The Wizard by Black Sabbath to get the vibe I'm going for:


There are also rumors of dwarves who buried themselves deep, deep underground, building powerful weapons close to the hot core of earth and an army to wield them. You won't hear it often, but people whisper in the streets about bands of short but stocky and bearded warriors in powerful symbiotic mushroom suits savaging demons like a force of natures. I've seen a dwarf in tears after hearing one of those stories, mumbling the words Meg'alchmor  with a tremble in his voice...

The gutter fights back, too

And in the dark corners of a world gone to shit, there are those left with nothing but anger and a club to express it. The form bands of Grinders to loot the ruins of the ancient and sabotage the elite along the way. They are underground warriors in a secret urban war, faced with demonized military they call "crows", monsters, snitches and Propaganda. Each cell has their own weird believes, cults, really, following petty gods. Some even wielding the power to scare evil away and heal wounds.

A street with thugs in the infamous Five Points of yore and pretty much
what I have in mind, but fantasy trappings ... [source]
This is the world they fight in. They hope for nothing but to get powerful enough to kick back even harder with magic, shotguns or clockwerck prosthesis, making them feel the anger.

And now for that second example ...

Yeah, I went a bit over board here, but I wanted to give an impression about the setting before I show how and why I interpret those cards. It almost goes without saying that with changing the setting and playing around with the cards a bit, you'll end up with totally different missions, adventures even or investigations. Just change "objectives" in the rules to "secrets" or "motives" and you already changed a lot into a different direction. 

Anyway, here we go again (24 card draw):

Open in new tab for more detail ...
1. A Free Agent as the Main Theme

Five of Diamonds is the first card here (a resource, but nothing high, just plenty), after that it's two cards with non-sentient beings en masse. This is the main theme of the area and the next pile (most likely a town of sorts, with the Queen of Hearts leading ...) depends on it, I'll say it is a giant lake with lots of fish.

2. The Queen of Hearts - a small fisher town

What we have here is a small town that barely gets by (only two of diamonds as resource ... not much business here) and a lower demon residing in his own district, not in a high function (last card in the pile) but most certainly the meanest bastard in town (only demon card) and the main influence on the next pile ...

The town is an interesting target, as it is rather weak, but offers a shrine that could get useful for the group. But there is that demon in the way first.

3. Another Free Agent - Humanoids and Resources

I'd say this is a caravan, constantly travelling between the town and the next pile, with the lower demon getting fat on the profit and the people in town starving at a full table. I think the dynamics here could get quite interesting in a game, as those piles are really depending on each other!

4. A Dungeon!

The meat of the whole area. this is where the main action will be. A Dungeon complex with a protected (three of clubs) enemy (Ace of Clubs) as objective and a mid level demons with a small army of two kinds of evil critters. They depend on those resources the caravan brings on a regular basis and that's how that lower level demon still has the upper hand in this relationship. Next question is what they are doing there, with no resources in that dungeon to speak of.

The Ace being the second card after the leading card in that pile would indicate that someone has a reason to be in that Dungeon (say, a wizard) and is doing some research with his team and under the protection of the demon. That wizard is to be stopped from finding out whatever he is about to find out ...

Also, where there is a demon, there is also a shrine.

5. More Grinders in the area!

Another group has set up camp somewhere underground (the Heart) near or even connected to the dungeon (depending on it, because next pile) and the group is to make contact to an ally there, most likely for some resources and for help to kill that wizard. But that group also has problem ...

6. Critters fighting for territory ...

And that problem is an Alpha Brute with four missing cards (incomplete pile are considered aggressive/destructive towards the next pile in order ...). Those Grinders took a very dangerous place to stay because they needed to be close to the dungeon (some dependency because of pile order) and the price they pay is some mean beast don't liking the new neighbors. They have the situation somewhat under control (being the higher pile with more cards and all), maybe they managed to barricade some tunnels. But that beast will get pretty active pretty soon.

Maybe the group will be able to help a bit with that situation to fulfill their objective with those Grinders which should get them closer to killing that stupid wizard?

Summary

That's what I'd do with this draw. There is a dungeon near a great lake where a team of researchers is looking for information to help the evil empire with something. Could be part of a bigger thing, something like weapons of mass destruction they are working on to get rid off some of the opposition ... I'll say that the dungeon is a former dwarven hold where, as the legend goes, some powerful alchemist developed a poison of sorts to fight dragons.

The dungeon is in ruins now and only partly accessible. The demon overseeing the operation resides in the base camp they set up in some part of the dungeon still accessible, her critters (a couple of very intelligent and poisonous snakes for the Jack and some big and ugly blabbering demon rats as support. Clearing the dungeon goes rather slow, but sooner or later they'll hit the mother load and find what they are looking for. Killing the lead wizard goes a long way to avoiding this, so that's what needs to happen.

The group also needs to contact another group of Grinders that hide in the area somewhere close to the dungeon, somewhere also underground and maybe even connected to the dungeon. They are threatened by something big, but what it is is unknown (last pile ...). Getting them helping the group might go a long towards getting rid of that wizard.

The dungeon gets regular deliveries from a nearby town. The citizens starve under the lower demon organizing that caravan and gets himself and his crew rather fat. Guy dreams of making it big, obviously.

There are two shrines in the area that could be of interest for the group ...

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I think this works. Lots to do for the group, two significant objectives and the shrines as soft targets, if you will. How to solve this would be totally to the group and how successful they work the area. It's also totally enough (for me at least) to get a game going.

How the cards could be used during the game and what exactly those numbers could mean (as I'm just using them for inspiration and rough guidelines right now) will be part of another couple of posts. Every time I'll write one of those, I'll round it up with another example for using the cards.

Thanks for reading all this. Please feel free to comment your impressions, ideas and questions about it if you have them. Comments are always welcome :)


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