I'll start with the notes I made for the session, which I scrawled down desperately between helping the players make their characters. The characters were normal starting characters, and I decided on a short quest, with 3 objectives, which gave me a starting Strife pool of 30, and a single NPC limit of 16.
Here's the stuff I rolled on Agon's nifty tables:
Island: Burning sands & red stone canyons
Communities: Devout worshipers with temples
Events: Recovering from natural disaster
Gods: Aphrodite, Dionysus, Athena
Desires: Hide, Incite, Slay
Artifacts: Ring or Amulet
Beasts: Obsidian Scorpion
Men: Pirates of the Red Banner
Hot damn, that's a sweet setup. A burning desert with red stone canyons populated by an Obsidian Scorpion? Sign me up! I may have been extra jazzed for this because I've recently been reading Judd's excellent Dictionary of Mu, and thus the phrase "burning sands" immediately slaps my brain into submission.
So, I thought about some further detail on the island. Recent natural disaster, eh? Well, when I looked at the type of community, an earthquake was the obvious answer. There's something sad about seeing beautiful white marble temples in ruin. Especially if the community is built into the terraced sides of a winding series of red rock cliff faces. So, at that point, I was starting to get a definite feel for this island. Agon's little charts made it very easy... and they didn't stop there.
So, a divine directive to Slay matches up pretty obviously with the Obsidian Scorpion - that's a no-brainer. The question, though, is which god? I decided on Aphrodite. Her head priest in the temple city had been stung by the Scorpion, and lay dying of its primordial venom. She wants the heroes to slay the scorpion and brew an antidote from its venom. This came to me in a flash as I noticed that Billy's character - Ceas, son of Abas - favored Apollo and had a d10 in Heal. I figured it would be interesting to have a big fight against a monstrous beast - and then have the real climax be a battle of medicine to save the head priest. It would also give me a chance to test out how Agon's battle system handled both a physical fight, and something a bit more abstract. I'll admit I was also thinking about the coolness of healing conflicts in Dogs in the Vineyard.
So, here's the quest as it stood so far:
Athena wants you to use the Obsidian Scorpion's venom to heal the head priest of her temple.
- Find out how to brew the antidote from the Scorpion's venom.
- Find out where the lair is.
- Slay the Obsidian Scorpion.
For the second objective, I figured that only the stricken high priest would know - since the Scorpion migrates across the desert in patterns arcane and unknowable. Easy enough, right? Except that the high priest was delirious with the effects of the venom. They'd need to win a Contest to get him lucid enough to divulge the Scorpion's current whereabouts.
So, at this point, the two characters were finished. We had:
Fleet-Footed Icarus, Son of Kratos (d6)
Beloved of Hermes
Insight d6, Grace d10, Might d6, Spirit d6
Heal d6, Lore d4, Music d8, Orate d6
Athletics d6, Cunning d8, Hunt d6, Wrestle d4
Aim d4, Shield d6, Spear d8, Sword d6
Weapons: Bow d8+1, Spear d8 d6, Shield d8, Sword 2d6
Far-Reaching Ceas, Son of Abas (d6)
Beloved of Apollo
Insight d6, Grace, d8, Might d6, Spirit d6
Heal d10, Lore d6, Music d4, Orate d4
Athletics d8, Cunning d6, Hunt d6, Wrestle d4
Aim d4, Shield d6, Spear d6, Sword d10
Weapons: Javelin d6+1, Sword 2d6, Sword 2d6, Shield d8
Achievements went pretty well - each of them earned an Oath from the other. I followed the book's advice and used the Achievements to establish a prior relationship between the characters. Both scenes took place during the recent war, and I felt this whole process really helped not only to cement the comrade/rival relationship between the two characters, but also to give them a little more depth of character.
So, after that, I gave the two of them a break to grab drinks or whatnot while I scribbled down a few NPCs. I knew that I had to create the Obsidian Scorpion and the old wise woman. I figured I'd also create a bandit leader, so that I could have a quick, simple battle to get a better handle on the system before the big fight with the Scorpion.
Obsidian Scorpion (d8)
Insight d4, Grace d6, Might d8, Spirit d8
Heal d4, Lore d4, Music d4, Orate d4
Athletics d8, Cunning d8, Hunt d8, Wrestle d4
Aim d8, Shield d4, Spear d4, Sword d10
Armor d10, Divine Favor: 6
Weapons: Claws 2d6/2d6 (swords), Stinger d6+1 (javelin)
Powers: Natural Weapons, Multi-Strike
Old Anteia (d6)
Insight d8, Grace d4, Might d4, Spirit d8
Heal d10, Lore d10, Music d4, Orate d4
Athletics d6, Cunning d10, Hunt d4, Wrestle d4
Aim d6, Shield d6, Spear d6, Sword d6
Charax, Bandit Chieftan (d6)
Insight d6, Grace d6, Might d6, Spirit d6
Heal d6, Lore d6, Music d6, Orate d6
Athletics d8, Cunning d4, Hunt d6, Wrestle d6
Aim d10, Shield d6, Spear d8, Sword d4
Weapons: Bow d8+1, Spear d8 d6, Shield d8
And I figured I'd give Charax two bandit minions:
Strife: 1 each
Arete d6, Battle d8, Craft d4, Sport d6
Weapons: Spear d8 d6, Shield d8
The cool part is that creating these NPCs only took about 4 or 5 minutes. David and Billy were barely back from getting their drinks by the time I was done.
Now, a note about the range strip. For miniatures, I decided to use the pieces from Risk: Godstorm, since they have a decidedly Greek flavor to them. I decided that I'd use the men for men (duh), the elephants for Beasts, and then either one of the gods or an elephant for Monsters, whichever fit the Monster's appearance better. It worked out really well in play.
Anyway, that's enough for the first part. I wanted to go into a lot of detail on the creation of the quest to highlight just how easy it was. Agon does a really good job of providing you with the building blocks you need to make a good session. I'll get into the meat of play with my next post. That will be written as more of an overview, rather than the step-by-step approach I took here.