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Sep 5, 2018

Chimera Playtest v3 - Session 1



INTRODUCTION

It's been months since our group sat down to play, mainly because I've been working on finishing the Chimera rulebook to begin close beta testing with other groups. Now that I am 90% done with the system (with some minor updates here and there) we decided to take the rules for a spin in a new setting I've been cooking up for some time called Awakened. Here are 10 important facts about the setting:


  1. If an animal, plant, or object exists in the real world, it can be a playable character. Awakened is all about anthropomorphic animals, plants, fungi, and sometimes even objects coexisting in a world without humans or any creatures like us. 
  2. Tone & Attitude. Awakened is influenced by  Asian cultures such as Korea, Japan, the Chinese Xuanhuan genre which focuses on fictional stories that remix Chinese folklore/mythology with foreign elements & settings, and other east Asian countries. This is just another westerner's take on an Asian themed setting (think kung fu panda, Avatar, and biomutant all mixed in one setting).
  3. A world of Spirits & Alchemy. From time inmemorial spirits have been present in the world of Awakened. They regulate and sometimes alter the natural course of the mortal world and as a result they are revered and often feared, but not as much as alchemists. Before the Warring Clans period and the appearance of the Transmuting Mist, alchemists were seen as mere apothecaries, but now their admixtures has given the creatures of the Mist Lands better physical and spiritual health, dragonpowder, and the dreadful ability to use the Core of spirits and powerful creatures to fuel magic weapons and other inventions.
  4. A world of Duality. The Mist Lands are plagued with the constant struggle between the opposing forces that constitute this world. negative and positive energy, civilization vs nature, enlightenment vs instincts, and so on. The creatures of the Mist Lands are in a perpetual journey to find balance and harmony among these conflicts in order to find eternal peace in the spirit world.
  5. A World of Heroes.  From the smog islands to the north, to the islands of a thousand peaks to the south, the Mist Lands is a place where heroes don't only thrive but flourish! Warring clans, angered spirits, corrupted warlords, oppressed villagers, and dangerous beasts all form part of this world that is in constant need of heroes to set things right.
  6. The Transmuting Mist. Was a phenomenon that occurred at the end of the Warring Clans period. Very few creatures are alive that had seen the effects but the legends say that the same mist the first awakened saw when they first came to be came back to punish those in the land. The Transmuting Mist reverted many awakened into a feral state, most of the landscape changed, animals and plants grew bigger, others were merged into one. It was just catastrophic! In a way, thanks to the mist the majority of the clans stopped fighting for food and territory and concentrated on understanding the changes the mist had caused on their land and how they would adapt.
  7. The Great Guardian Spirits. The legends speak of a vast number of spirits that protected the land, each one of them in charge of an aspect of mortal life. It is believed they were the ones that thought the first group of animals how to awaken. During the Warring Clans period their numbers dwindled, some of them retained some of their former power and now look over particular landmarks rich in spiritual energy. From those that remain, the greatest of them are the last two dragons; the Dragon Above and the Dragon Below.
  8. The Two Dragons. The Dragon Above oversees all aspects of life without interfering too much in them. The legends say that it can control water, rain, thunder, and the weather in general. It is believed the Dragon Above roams the skies of the Mist Lands to protect it from some nameless threat. Others believe it holds the broken shell of the world together by endlessly moving around it. On particular stormy days, you can see the Dragon Above coiling and flying about between the thundering clouds in the distance.The Dragon Below oversees the journey all spirits make from the mortal world to the Waiting Halls of the dead and finally their ascend to the spirit world. No one has seen the Dragon Below but it is believed that when the earth shakes, the Dragon Below is displeased.
  9. The Core. Each creature has or is born with a core that increases in power as the creature gains more experience in life, gathers energy, becomes wiser and acquires knowledge, and their magical or martial prowess is honed.  The Core is the essence of all beings and they are highly sought after in order to produce magic items, make intricate mechanisms or machines to work, and in some cases they are wanted to be consumed by other creatures in order to increase their own power quickly. The process is difficult and known by a few, all thanks to Iron Wyrm, the emperor of the Iron Empire.
  10. The Iron Empire. Thousands of years later after the Transmuting Mist period, a powerful wyrm called Iron Wyrm appeared in the northern region known now as the Iron Empire. It consumed the core of one of the most powerful guardian spirits of those lands and with its new obtained powers and the help of alchemists, it began to conquer the different clans in its vicinity. Its goal was to unify all the awakened clans under one banner and use their collective knowledge to prosper and forge a more civilized nation. Many resisted, specially the monkey king in the jungle. After one hundred years of conflict, Iron Wyrm briefly united all the clans and formed the Iron Empire.

CAST

Black String  - Male Wolverine (Bard)
Gray Feather - Male Barn Owl - (Psion)
Swift Claw - Female Cheetah - (Monk)


THE SESSION

The session begins in a small village called Croaker Crossroads, near the border of the Disputed Lands and Many Rivers. It is the first day of the month of the Weeping Dragon and as it is custom, the rain festival will be celebrated with the appearance of the new moon.

Our heroes arribe at the village to join the celebration; Black String looking for a good crowd to play his music with his harp bow and the rest just there to enjoy themselves and wait for the first rain of the year to come. As the new moon starts to appear the frogs and toads from the temple descend to the center of the village and begin their croaking chants as a form of prayer to the Dragon Above and deliver the rain the need. After 30 minutes of chanting the rain finally comes and the villagers as well as the heroes get ready to watch the fireworks and share some rice wine as the first raindrops fall, but something is not right.

Gray Feather was perched on the roof of a small house when he noticed 6 shadowy figures tempering with the rice wine reserves that were temporarily left unguarded by the guards that went to have a drink. Gray Feather tried to warn the guards but they were too busy drinking and enjoying the rain to listen. He looked around and conveniently found Black String and Swift Claw leaning against the walls of the same house he was perched. He got upside down and twisted his head to face them correctly and told them of what he saw hoping they would help him check out what was happening. They agreed and proceeded carefully.

Upon getting a scent  of the heroes the 6 shadowy figures divided into pairs and bolted out of there. Each one of them tried to chase after them but the only one that succeeded was Swift Claw with her amazing speed. Unfortunately  for her, she received a serious wound by the hands of one of the rats and was forced to retreat as well. Black String went back to the barrels to try and figure out what they put in them but he was too late, one of the barrels had been taken to give more rice wine to the attendees.

Not short after that people began to drop to the floor in random areas which was followed up with the screams of those who were near them. Then, screams and fighting sounds were coming from the local temple from where the frog priests descended. The heroes rushed to the temple fearing the shadowy figures that escaped were responsible for what was happening in the temple.

It was a a massacre! Most of the people in the temple were dead except for Silent Croak, the elder toad that served as the headmaster of place. He was fighting 6 rat warriors who were close to beating him. The heroes intervened and succeeded (but not without taking heavy damage) in defeating them all but one who was allowed to escape by Silent Croak.

Silent Croak used an ultrasound croak to make the bells of the temple ring and warn the village's scouts of the fleeing rat. He offered food and shelter to the heroes while they awaited for the scout's report the next morning. The scouts discovered the rat had gone into the Disputed Lands which confirmed Silent Croak's suspicion; this was an attempt to disrupt the ceremony to cause a drought and inevitably a war which was something previous clans of boars and rats benefited from during the Warring Clans period.

The heroes decided to venture forth into the Disputed Lands to uncover why the rats attacked the temple.


conclusion

It was an incredibly short session but it was a lot of fun. While the group was making the characters I was going through the process I wrote for writing adventures and making enemies and with less than 25 minutes to prepare before they were finished (they had to go over the updates I had made to the system plus we had to wait for a player that had arrived later than expected) there wasn't enough time to prepare something more elaborated, which is fine since the system is made for those occasions.

One of the biggest changes I made was to how powers worked. At the begging if you wanted to make a character that was lets say a mage, you would need to take the Manifest Power talent which would give you 3 Power Points that basically worked like Ammo (they would lose one on partial successes while manifesting powers), then choose a power source (like arcane, divine, psionics, energy, or science) which would give you a benefit, then you would choose a power group such as charm, illusion, or telekinesis and take a power from there.

It seemed simple enough but as we played I grew concerned that the power system rewarded players that maxed their cunning and willpower stat by giving them virtually unlimited uses of their powers since it was unlikely they would miss. I devised another method for powers:

Gaining PowersTo gain powers you must first choose the Manifest Power talent under the Wilder Talent tree on page XX. Once you have taken the talent you need to make a few choices (see below),  
Choose a Power SourceAs the name implies, power sources are from where your powers originate. This choice is purely cosmetic in most cases, however, some of them might make minor mechanical changes to how powers work to fit the theme they describe.Choose a Power Group & a PowerAll powers that share a similar theme are put together under a power group. When you first choose the Manifest Power talent you get to choose a power group which you get to add to your list of power groups you have access to, and then you get to choose a power from that same power group and add that power to your list of powers known. Each power group also has special effects or benefits right under their description which you also get when you add them to your list of power groups you have access to.
 As your character progresses you can spend 1 XP to add one additional power from a power group you have access to or you could also choose to spend 1 XP to gain access to a new power group you do not have access to instead. If you do, you add the power group to your list and you gain the special effects or benefits under its description but not to the powers listed under it. 
Learning New Power Groups & PowersTo learn new power groups or powers you need to spend some downtime researching and practicing in order to learn them in addition to spending 1 XP. The GM will tell you how long it will take. If you find tutelage the time is reduced by half, leaving you with leisure time to pursue other activities during your downtime.
This method requires that the player spends power points before manifesting a power regardless of if they miss or succeed. In my mind this method was fair but after seeing it in action it seems that a player that doesn't focus primarily on manifesting powers is going to miss most of them and they would ran out of power points very quick. Ill have to sit down and rethink how powers work.