The Progress On Istoria

Several weeks ago, at the genesis of this blog, I wrote about the Monday night role-playing game some friends and I were playing over the summer. I explained the concept and the plans we had for it, so if you're not familiar with what Istoria is, you can find the link to the previous post here. Well, it's been a month since we officially got underway with Istoria, with two sessions of Dawn of Worlds under our belt, followed by two sessions of an exploration-based campaign run with the Fate system (and interspersed with a one-shot horror/survival session set on a tropical island GMed by David). I've recorded all of the sessions as audio files, and maybe I'll share snippets of those as we continue on, but they are much too long, boring, and filled with random things that don't have to do with RPG to be of much interest on this website. I would, however, like to give you all a quick write-up and review of how it's going so far--how much fun we've been having, some of the concepts we've been playing with, and what we like about the systems we've been running. 

First off, the two sessions of Dawn of Worlds (where we world build our campaign setting piece by piece, race by race, event by event) have gone splendidly. We've created several different races and cultures all over the world (including angel-like militaristic socialists, sapient parasitic insects, spherical jet-propelled blobs that have a society, and eighty-yard long many-eyeballed starfish people), lots of cool non-sapient creatures (fish-snakes with gigantic wing spans, gigantic colossi that serve as walking cities for the sapient parasitic insects, and six-legged rhino-sharks), and a theme for the magic of the world (information-based, all magic systems are sub-systems of an umbrella system called "Marking" that allows one to draw information from something and transmit it somehow). The world has five moons, which causes some really weird tidal phenomena to occur on a predictable basis, and has a hotter than normal average temperature, causing the poles to be warmer and the equator to be super-tropical, almost uninhabitable at some points. There are dozens of little things that we've made up over the two DoW sessions, and many more that are being dreamed up as we begin our Fate campaign, but it would take forever to share them all here. Suffice it to say, we're having a lot of fun and making up some really cool stuff.

Now, on to Fate. I'm the Gamemaster for the first campaign of Istoria, entitled The Promise of Safe Return, named off of Rise Against's amazing song "Wait For Me" from Endgame. As I said, we're running the Fate system, and I have been pleasantly surprised at the ease and fun of running it. Character creation is fun, highly collaborative, and based almost entirely on story rather than mechanics. Most of the creation of a character is deciding what their past was like and what "aspects" (traits, essentially) they have because of those events that shaped their lives. It also encourages the characters to have already met, have formed opinions about the other characters, and create lots of hooks for the Gamemaster to grab onto when he needs story seeds. The system as a whole is very collaborative and relies on the efforts of everyone involved to move the story along. Essentially, a player is rewarded an in-game currency called "fate points" whenever a character's aspect causes them problems in the story. And they have to spend those to use their good traits. It's a constant give and take that makes the game much more collaborative, as I said.

Alright, into the story of The Promise of Safe Return. The player characters are all part of an expedition being sent overland across the main continent to discover new resources, trade routes, races, and a possible site for a new colony (as they are being trailed several days behind by a larger expedition for that express purpose--forming a colony). The expeditions are being funded by the Rovert Exploratory Company, a human-based organization from the Homeland (the continent to the north of the one being traversed). The expedition, however, is being based out of the nation founded five-hundred years ago when human colonists came to this continent in the first place and made friends with a race of desert-dwellers with chitinous skin that use air pressure instead of water to pump their blood cells around their body, called Sansur in their own tongue (though Sandie is the common slang word used to reference them). Here is our main cast:

  • My brother Connor plays as Tirsov, a young, curious human scholar who loves studying new cultures and is probably the least competent (in terms of survival) of the party. He has a magic book that can record what he says without ink.
  • David plays as Rultis Meinvred, a human Krova (knight-like organization that uses a version of the Marking magic) who was put on this mission by his superiors to get him out of the way. He's kind of an embarrassment.
  • Jared plays as Zoya, a human Yelloweye (a member of an organization of monster hunters that use magic to steal monster's abilities) that gets herself into more trouble than she probably should. (Yes, Jared is playing a girl. Yes, we all know how weird that is.) She has an apprentice named Muhai, a human girl who's just as wild as her master.
  • Trevor plays Remis, a Sandie ex-Yelloweye that doesn't agree with the way his former peers mess with the natural balance of things. He reluctantly agreed to lead the forward expedition, and he's been regretting that decision every minute. Oh, and he has a velociraptor as a pet.
  • Becca plays as Ziktang, a rugged human hunter/survivalist that has a way with people, is strong and skilled, but intensely afraid of both the dark and his own strength. Yeah, we're not sure how he's a hunter either. He hides being afraid of the dark really well.

There are several other important people in the forward expedition (which numbers at twenty-five altogether), but they're not quite as important as the player characters.

Anyway, the characters began their journey from the last town on the frontier before uncharted territory begins. Their first obstacle? A mountain range like a spine down the center of the continent. After some trouble among the ranks (naturally, mostly involving Jared) including failed attempts at flirting by Connor directed at Jared's apprentice, very, very successful attempts at flirting from David at Jared's apprentice, and Jared's subsequent mistake in thinking that Connor might have succeeded and the inevitable "threaten Connor's life" scene, the party finally got underway. After some issues involving Jared accidentally spouting out some untrue information about his character's sexuality, the soldiers hired to keep the party safe stopped flirting with his character and started mocking her. This continued on for some time. The characters also discussed various legends revolving around what might be living in the mountains--the Sandies have many tales about giants living in said mountains. 

Oh, and they hunted lions. That happened too.

They finally reached the foothills of the mountains and set up a base camp from which to do some exploring to figure out both what would be a safe way to go through the mountains and is there any danger nearby? Trevor, Jared, Connor, and Becca (leaving David back at base camp, mostly because he had already left for the night in real life) set out to do said exploring, and came across some interesting things. First, they tracked tyrannosaurus tracks, which led them to not only the remains of a humanoid that had been partially devoured by said dinosaur, but also to some sort of effigy and an eight-foot long blade that might be a giant's paring knife.

They quickly left the region and went back to base camp. Then they headed north instead of south, looking at some passes there that might be promising. They discovered what eventually turned out to be an entire overgrown city built into the sides of a canyon. After resisting the urge to explore a distant tower, they made their way to a crater lake that was much more westardly than the tower, which was covered in temple-like structures strung out like spiderwebs across the water. Since it was both dark and raining, they decided to spend the night in one such building. Connor found a hundred-foot tall mosaic depicting the deity he plays in Dawn of Worlds--the god of the sun. After waking up and having the chance to see more of the temple, Connor also realized how well-tended the structure was. This wasn't abandoned like the rest of the city was. He found a well-trimmed garden, and soon afterward he found a dragon. 

A giant soon followed, and that's where we ended the session. 

We've had a lot of fun so far--made a lot of great jokes, had some interesting ideas pop up in the midst of play, and generally enjoyed ourselves and the game. So far, we're all liking Fate, and hopefully that continues as we delve further into the system. Once I'm really familiar with it, I'll probably do a review of the game and what it offers, in case any of you are interested in picking it up (it's free on the internet). 

Well, that's about all from this end. Monday we continue the adventure, which is part one of the campaign, and entitled "Do You See The World?" (Also a reference to "Wait For Me" by Rise Against.) It should be a blast. Until next time! 

Oh, happy Fourth of July, by the way, and thanks again for reading.