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Silent Titans, Part 1: Whiskey, Hogs, and Roofies

After a long wait, it finally arrived: 
So much swag 
Feverishly digested it over several nights. Invited players in with promises of British cheekiness, Arthurian legends, Nausicaa, Alien-esque body horror, and Jacob's Ladder style "your world is no longer correct" creepiness. But no clear explanation of what's going to happen. Cause I need their minds wrecked.

Prep time

So I have these wonderful map and paper miniature books that Jacob Hurst went to great lengths to select the best cardstock for use at the table. But now I can't bring myself to take scissors to them. They're too nice! I might want to run Silent Titans again sometime!

(I shouldn't fool myself. With the backlog of adventure modules I have and limited game time, this is my one chance to ever run this. Hey, me. Cut the books up. Write notes in them. Do it...)

I re-printed everything onto lesser cardstock and cut that up instead.

I split the map for the first titan into its various rooms, so I could reveal them one-at-a-time as the players explored.

Did a Google Maps street view walkthrough of Wirral, England. If you're trying to run this and haven't done so, I can't recommend it enough. You will see what might be in Patrick Stuart's mind as he writes of its hills, marshes, and suburban landscapes.
And that's it. Players show up, I read the opening text straight from the book (cause Patrick's writing here is just too good to pass up). Dementia Bomb! Your minds are wrecked! You're clinging to a silver staircase as the winds of a time tornado try to violently throw you off. You hear oinking and laughter from above. You can barely remember who you are and have no idea where this is or how you got here.

We roll stats and then we meet...

Our players

  • Ragnar Bluetooth - Viking berserker, or possibly berserk member of Norwegian parliament. Still kind of vague there.
  • Kaeso Clovius Cato - Roman Legionnaire whose accent is full on "Itsa me! Mario!" because none of our group knows what a Roman accent sounds like.
  • Fred Daggs - 17 year old and member of the Home Guard of WW2 England. Full of tea, sandwiches, and teenage angst.
  • Alice Bramble - Daughter of a pirate and faking at nobility. Carrying around a family-sized bottle of Rohypnol for unknown reasons. (Patrick was very specific that it's a "family-sized" bottle.)
  • Cathleen Core - Irish Insurrectionist and washingwoman. Equipped with a hook hand and a bottle of whiskey. (I'm really tired of the stereotype that all Irish people have hook hands.)

Events


  • The majority of the players decide they don't like this pig, he needs to be stopped, lets take the fight straight to him. Only problem is that there are several large apes armed with tommy guns at the top of the staircase.
  • Fred lays down some covering fire from halfway up the staircase. Ragnar and Kaeso charge straight up the stairs. but they expend all their effort against the winds of the time tornado. They end their turns at the top of the staircase, face-to-face with Doctor Hog's Brain Apes.
  • Alice and Cathleen decide to investigate the pair of doors, Bronze and Ebony.
  • Alice steps through the Bronze doorway and finds herself standing on the deck of a wooden ship at sea. Dead bodies and signs of combat all around. Examining one of the bodies, she sees that the wounds were clearly caused by the weapons the party was carrying. What were they doing here? Why were they fighting these people?
  • Cathleen opens the Ebony door and looks inside. A dark shaft, with multitudes of chains suspended in the air, briefly visible from small flashes of light in the room. The sound of ticking above. Cathleen leaps for one of the chains, successfully grabs ahold, and begins climbing.
  • The fight on the staircase continues. Brain Apes are picking up players and throwing them around. Tommy Guns are firing. Brain Grenades are tossed around. Fred snipes from a distance, Kaeso pins an ape's foot to the ground with his gladius, Ragnar cleaves through them, and Alice throws acid in an ape's face.
The paper minis are a lot of fun

  • As the Brain Apes fall dead, their bowler hats fall off their heads, and their brains come tumbling out. Engorged and infected with some kind of fungus. A stream of silver ants come flooding out of the dead apes' eye sockets and crawling towards the players.
  • Silver ants crawl into Ragnar's ears and eyes and begin infecting his brain. "Oink. Oink. Obey me, slave." he hears in his mind.
  • Back in the clock tower, Cathleen successfully climbs the chains to the top. Inside she finds a maze of gears, dials, springs, and pendulums. The entire mechanism of this giant clock seems ready to explode under its own kinetic energy. Sparks fly, springs and gears fly loose. All the while, gold skeletons run around, grabbing after loose parts and trying to repair the machine.
  • Cathleen tries to swipe a golden piece of gear. One of the skeleton comes charging at her, sharp bony fingers clawing towards her. She drops the piece before the skeleton strikes. Its attention immediately turns to the gear, picking it up and running back to replace it in the great machinery.
  • As the skeleton is moving away, Cathleen notices an hour glass of swirling sand in its ribcage. She fires at it, shattering the glass. The sand drifts away, and the skeleton decays into dust.
  • Cathleen winds her way safely through the maze of machinery and finds her way to the clock face. She finds a small door, opens it, and finds herself at the top of the silver staircase, where her friends have just defeated the Brain Apes. Ragnar is visibly twitching from the silver ants crawling over his brain.
  • A combination of Cathleen's whiskey and Alice's Rohypnol administered to Ragnar drives the ants from his mind. Unfortunately, Alice has now succumbed to the infection. "Oink. Oink. Bring them to me, slave."
  • The party turns their attention to the great golden door in front of them. It is slightly ajar. Clearly their piggy foe must be inside.
  • Inside, a staircase made of bone leading up to a titanic skull. A huge sword driven into the top of the skull. Two more Brain Apes standing guard on the stairs.
  • Another battle. Apes tossing more bodies around. A brain grenade goes off, turning Fred's mind to pure rage (combined with his normal teenage angst). Ragnar activates his viking (or Norwegian parliament) berserk-ing and charges the apes. Alice intentionally misses. ("Oink. Oink. Betray your friends, slave.")
  • The two ape guards are defeated. More silver ants stream from their dead brains. Fred begins to be infected. "Oink."
  • The party ascends the bone staircase into the skull of the titan. Inside, they find a grand hall, slightly flooded from leaks in the ceiling above. Looking up, they see the brain of the titan, strands of silver ants reach towards it like a cancerous web. Through the eyes of the titan's skull, they can see a future world at war, burning. In the middle of the hall rises a spinal altar of bone, several golden glowing diamonds protruding from it.
  • In the middle of all of this is their enemy, Doctor Duroc Hog. He is suspended like a marionette doll on silver strands of ants. Before him lies a machine, part music instrument, part babbage computer. Streams of silver ants come out from its many valves.
  • "You are too late, fools! Oink. Oink. Nothing can stop the Titans' rise!"
  • A fight commences. The party begins attacking both the machine and Dr. Hog. Alice throws acid to eat through the outer shell of the machine. Other party members strike at Dr. Hog directly. But both the machine and Dr. Hog have a lot of HP.
  • Dr. Hog counterattacks. He fires his strange Dimension-Gun at Fred, turning his body to jelly. He plays a few notes on the keyboard. More silver ants stream out and try to infect the party.
  • Fred puts his jellied body to good use and dives between the exposed gears of the machine, gunking up its operation for a turn. The next time Dr. Hog tries to play his keyboard, no sound or ants emerge.
  • The fight continues on. Party members fluctuate from infected by ants to sound of mind. From unwillingly protecting Dr. Hog to damaging him as much as they can. More shots of the Dimension-Gun. Ragnar and Alice are both turned to ghostly forms. They must pass WIL saves in order to affect the physical world.
  • Doctor Hog triumphantly announces, "The machine has nearly finished its work. Any moment now, and the Titan Chronos shall be mine!" The brain above begins glowly brightly as the web of silver ants penetrates further into it.
  • I give the players one last turn before the machine finishes its job and Doctor Hog is victorious. He has no HP and little Strength left.
  • Ragnar and Fred damage him. He passes his STR saves. It all comes down to Alice, her body still a ghostly form. Any damage at all will likely finish off Doctor Hog.
  • Alice rolls her WIL save... and fails. Her still ethereal body and claymore pass through Doctor Hog's body without harm.
  • "It is done! Oink! Oink! Victory is mine, you fools! I win!"
  • The entire Titan tower begins shaking furiously. The roof of Chronos' skull caves in, releasing a flood of water from the Seas of Time. The party frantically tries to hold onto their possessions (DEX save to not lose the stuff in your hands) as they are swept away. The last they see of Doctor Hoctor is a wave engulfing him as he oinks "Victory!"
  • The party awakes, floating on water of grey, amongst an endless sea of grey, beneath a horizonless, grey sky. Before them lies a seawall, wide as the eye can see. Standing upon the wall is a young pig, in a tweed jacket and wearing a silver mask in the shape of a moon. "What are you doing down there?"

Questions before next time


  • Where does the party go from here? What motivation will hook them?

What worked well?


  • Doctor Duroc Hog is an amazingly fun villain.
  • Character creation is quick (as to be expected from Into the Odd) and the characters all have wonderful quirks.
  • The infection by ants mechanism was fun, and my players did a great job of role playing it.
  • Starting characters off with their minds erased and no idea of what is going on was an excellent way to give impact to the strangeness of this place.
  • The bullet point descriptions for each location -- which I know there's been discussion about the effectiveness of -- worked well for me. Especially with the key points being in bold text.

What didn't?


  • As always, screwed up or forgot a few details of the setting. Nothing major.
  • Been a little while since I ran Into the Odd, so I missed some good opportunities for interesting dilemmas and saves.
  • Cutting the map into several pieces probably wasn't worth it. Next time, I think I'll use the map book as-is. As somebody else said, the abstract nature of the art means that the map won't spoil much while simultaneously acting as good motivation to explore. "Just what the heck is that thing drawn there?"
  • The dungeon as presented is absent much physical details about each area, which I am bad at filling in quickly. I know who or roughly what is in each area, but the layout of each area, physical obstacles, barriers, furniture, small random things to interact with are largely absent. So the rooms felt kind of empty, and straightforward combat was the frequently chosen action. I just wasn't provided enough in each area to spark lateral thinking.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the entertaining writeup. I like your style - I’ve gotten a lot of ideas out of your writeups in the past, and a good feel for whether I’d get value out of what you’ve been running: sort of a review as a hidden bonus to the play report, as well as some insight into your GM’s mind & style. I’ve been curious about whether or not Silent Titans is for me. Enough to make me think I may want to run something quite that strange in the future for some of my players, but as a special something. It also looks like I’d really need a physical copy to do things justice. Your writeup indicatates ST is probably a bit too ‘odd’ for my groups general tastes so any experiments with it won’t be any time soon. If some other milder experiments in oddness work out then it’ll definitely be there on the radar, but like you: too much backlog, and not enough time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A physical copy of Silent Titans is worth it just because it's gorgeous!

      I think there's a good degree of flexibility with how you could play the themes of Silent Titans. My players approach the "oddness" from a humorous direction. But the oddness could also be approached as horror.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing, its really interesting reading someone else's take on the book. Makes me excited to pull out this first dungeon, I wana take Dr. Hog for a spin!

    Its interesting you mention the rooms feeling sparse. From what I have run, ive found the rooms to be full of interesting details to riff on, though i have not run Chronos (Only Hilb). It does read a lot more like a set piece battle than a fully fledged dungeon to be fair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I could benefit from a re-read of several of the dungeons, possibly sketching down an idea of what each space could look like and what could be there.

      Delete
  3. Glad to see you're back at it! I was starting to worry you'd retired from blogging.

    I like the write-up and the pictures. It's really cool to see Silent Titans in action, including the minis. I would do the same thing you did and print them out from PDF to cut those up instead.

    Incidentally, have you seen Alex Schroeder's "Hex Describe" project? I ask because it reminds me of something you were working on awhile ago, setting up automatic generators to produce a hex crawl. He also tried having it fit to a grid instead of a hex map recently, although I can't find that link at the moment. https://alexschroeder.ch/wiki/Hex_Describe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Was on a short hiatus from referee duties. Been playing in a friend's 5e "Curse of Strahd" game. A couple of my players also bought me my first 3d printer as a thank you gift. So that's been eating away at my free time. I should really write about some of the things I'm making with that.

      Yes, I've seen "Hex Describe" before. The best of the current random hexcrawl generators, imho. The random generator app I was working on has been put on the backlog. I kind of lost interest in it as the last campaign ended and I no longer had any immediate use for it. Will probably pick it up again when I start preparing a new hexcrawl.

      Delete

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