Kids RPG Journal – #54 Session 3 Audio

A while back we played our third session of Harrowlands, with mixed results. It was kind of a bummer for me as we set up and then couldn’t play for very long – about half a session – and the kids were already pretty much wiped and had very little attention to give to the game.

One thing I notice, is when the kids are distracted, I get really distracted and have a hard time GMing, I forget things and have trouble making the non-player characters fun. I’m definitely going to think on ways to improve my improv when my children are involved.

The session I was setting up had a little too much chat in the beginning and not much action. I probably should have jumped right into action, but since I’m setting up the location as a potential “quest hub”, I didn’t want to blow through things. The next session will hopefully go longer and be more action packed.

I’ve been putting off editing the audio for some time, and just finally muscled my way through it. We recorded for 38 minutes, but the final audio – subtracting long pauses from the GM, fits from the kids, and a couple other uncomfortable and distracting noises – only ended up being 25 minutes. The audio is a little less clear of the players as my Blue Yeti microphone got disconnected and apparently all the audio was coming in from my laptop, so I am really loud and the others pretty soft.

I’m definitely no audio guru, but I cleaned it up as well as I could.

The group finds themselves stranded at a farm and go to ask for help where they interact with three NPCs: Gurla, Momma Yrla, and Sluglump. They receive a somewhat cold welcome as they seek help getting their cart fixed on the night of the Butcher’s Moon and the Alfablot.

Hopefully, we can get a game in next weekend before the holiday and see where they go when the Alfablot truly begins.

Kids RPG Journal – #48 Wild Hunt Quest

When we last played the Harrowlands game so very long ago, the adventuring party had just survived the bee swarms and crashed their wagon. We will begin the next session in Yrlashof and they will need to find a way to get their wagon repaired. However, there is a problem.

It is the night of Alfablot and not only do folks need to stay off the roads, but no one will offer them hospitality and allow them to come into their home, for the dead travel on this night. The main quest for this session is going to be to survive encounters with any vengeful spirits who wanders too close.

Quest: Night of the Wild Hunt

First, they will carve faces into their turnip lanterns to scare off the spirits (the players will draw scary faces on turnips and we’ll fashion lanterns with them using mini tea lights) and roll to determine how effective their artistic skill is. With the howling wind and lack of time, it might be a challenge.

Turnips for carving to scare off the ghosts of the Wild Hunt

Then starts the procession of the wild hunt, led by the Alf King on his massive spectral boar. If all of the lanterns hold up, then it should be pretty straight-forward, but if not, then they will need to find alternative methods for dealing with any wights who will come into their camp, without fighting. There may be some trickery, parley, wrestling, or offerings to ensure that no one gets hurt. 

map of yrlashof during the Alfablot

I created a number of props for the quest, turnip papers for lamps, a “battle map” of Yrlashof to show where the wild hunt will be passing through, some overhead drawings of hunt members, and the quest image. Additionally, I set up the quest pages on the Harrowlands website for online use:

The Wild Hunt led by the Alf King

Quest: Night of the Wild Hunt

I’m thinking we may be able to play this weekend if things aren’t too crazy. Otherwise, we may have to look into a weeknight game, just to keep the ball rolling.

Kids RPG Journal – #43 Yrlashof Maps

Over the weekend, I’ve been working on preparing maps for the local area to occupy the party, Yrlashof, the stead of Momma Yrla. The plan is to keep the party in this area for a couple of sessions, so I feel like doing a good map is worthy use of my time. I’ve got a few of the buildings down and I’ll be working on some more of the natural features later in the week. The mapped places are currently the main hall, Arg’s bakery, the blacksmith’s forge, a well and some haystacks.

the main hall and Arg's bakery/hut on Yrlashof

Not 100% sure how I’m going to assemble the whole as I’ll be reusing a few of these in different sizes in the next couple of sessions. The next adventure will take place on the grounds outside the main hall, so I’m thinking of putting together  a battle mat setup.

blacksmiths, wells, and haystacks, oh my

Kids RPG Journal – #42 More NPCs Yrlashof

This week I’ve spent some time researching Samhain and Alfablot for the next adventure. The party is going to arrive at the farm at a bad time, and the wind they caused is definitely going to make things worse. The people of Yrlashof are observing the Alfablot, where the rules of hospitality are reversed, and there is to be a ghostly procession, a Wild Hunt, of dokkalfar (dark elves) along the road.

I needed draw up two principal characters for this adventure. First is Momma Yrla, who I drew a while back, but her story has changed significantly since then and the picture no longer reflects the character I want. So, I kept some basics of the drawing , but adjusted her face and outfit, to reflect her position as a former sea king – a ruling pirate. Now she maintains the farm. I recolored her with my new palette to better match the character. The new drawing makes here look a little bit older than I had planned, but I can live with it.

Revised image of Momma Yrla, former pirate, and the lady of Yrlashof.

Second, I drew Momma’s former first-mate who still guards her family, Gurla, a sturdy water-witch. She is gruff and superstitious, coming from the eastern countries. This one actually looks a little younger than I had hoped to make it.

Gurla, Momma Yrla's guardian and former first mate

My next step is to draw an overhead map of the stead where the adventure will take place.

Kids RPG Journal – #41 Revising Art

The regular schedule I have for the the Harrowlands games doesn’t leave a lot of time for dawdling or perfectionism: I run the game session on the weekend. Spend a portion of the next week getting the recording prepped and some recap illustrations done. Then the following week is prepping content for the next game.

The advantages of quickly moving through art pieces is that they are out of the way and I can move on to new ones, the disadvantage is that I have longer to be dissatisfied with them and know I have better ways to make them work. A couple of the pieces I made early on have been bothering me for a while, especially as I’m working them more into the future adventures. They just don’t fit with the narrative I want to tell.

I’ve been loathe to go back and work on things so far and have just been chalking the artwork to a learning experience and moving on, but with the break in the routine due to our trip to Emerald City Comic Con, I had a little bit more breathing room, and I just had to go back and work on a couple of redesigns.

Old version of Arg, the mad baker's hut on Yrlashof. Simply too plain and neat.

In the quiet hours, often sitting on the floor of the hotel bathroom to avoid waking the family, I reworked the small hut of Arg, the mad baker, who lives off of Momma Yrla’s stead. The interior is going to be cluttered and crazy and the sparse and clean exterior I drew earlier just wasn’t going to mesh. I thought about just going back and throwing some boxes and carts in front of it, but I also wanted a large oven jutting out the side, not just a tiny chimney through the roof.

New version of Arg the mad baker's hut. This is a little more cluttered and features a large brick oven.

I still tried to work quickly and did not spend a lot of time on reference (not that it would have been easy to track down a lot of authentic pirate/Viking bakeries), but I feel like this is a stronger and much more interesting design that will fit in better with the characters and adventures.

I’m also using the revised color palettes to keep things just a little bit more consistent.

I have one more character I want to redesign (Momma Yrla) and a few other character designs in the works as I recover from ECCC and get ready for the next game in two weeks.

Kids RPG Journal – #25 Places

Over the weekend, I completed a couple more location drawings and wanted to put them up here.

House of Arg, the mad baker next to the Pumpkin Snarl on Momma Yrla's stead

First, is the house of Arg, the mad baker, who lives within Momma Yrla’s stead. I’ll go a little bit more into him when I do the character illustration. His house/bakery is right next to a massive Pumpkin Snarl.

Viking-style beehives made from hollowed tree stumps.

Second, is some Viking-style beehives set in old, hollowed tree stumps. Bees are going to play an important part in the opening scene for the adventure.

Kids RPG Journal – #24 Catch Up

Process on the game has slowed down a bit as I’ve been playing catch-up at the day job from the holiday weekend. Oddly enough, the weekends are the hardest time for me to get personal work done.

I think it’s due to two reasons: First, I’m around the kids more and spend a lot of my time and energy. Entertaining 6-year-olds is a lot more labor intensive than web development. When I do have a break, I’m either doing chores, or I’m trying to recuperate. Even when they are playing on their own, I sometimes have trouble with focus because of the ambient noise.

Second, there’s no real structure with the weekends. We’re often going somewhere or doing activities that we can’t get in during the week, so I cannot get into a routine as easily.

That said, I made a couple of place drawings this week and worked on adjusting the players’ custom moves.

Yrlashof, jutland-style longhouse of Momma Yrla

Yrlashof, the first real location the players will visit. The long house of Momma Yrla. I based the design of the farm off of Jutland Viking structures, with a little fantasy embellishment.

Viking-style haystacks on Yrlashof

Viking-style haystacks. A sub-location (or zone, to steal from FATE) on the farm. It’s interesting to look into how different certain elements look from what I see in my life. I could get lost in researching how medieval and ancient peoples worked and lived.