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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 9

(Previous session can be found here.)

In this session I played out the "Refusal Of The Call," stage. I decided that since the refusal is supposed to make things harder or more tragic for the hero, I'd assign a chaos factor of 3 to the whole stage (the previous stages have been played with chaos factor 5).

My plan originally was to roll randomly for which archetype 'mask' a character would wear (or ask a Mythic fate question). I'm having somewhat mixed feelings about the results, though. One reason is that the archetypes seem to manifest on their own at times, from my subconscious. Another reason, which perhaps I should feel more positive about, is that I get unexpected answers that make things more challenging, or more odd, story wise.

For example, Ainus of Apos is wearing the mask of the Herald archetype (the one who's issuing the Call To Adventure) as an indirect result of various Mythic questions in the context that I was playing in, which was the Call To Adventure. Since Ainus first made his appearance in that context, it was just natural that he'd manifest the Call.

On the other hand, in the back of my mind, I had also started to think of him as the Mentor, as he stereotypically fit that concept as well, but when rolling randomly, I got the Trickster-- hence his ironic (and what I hope are comical) quips, etc.

In the end, I think it has worked out for the better. I hope you think so too!

On the subject of the Shock mechanics I chose, I am now feeling somewhat ambivalent about the Integrity vs Corruption praxis (Brawn vs Brains seems useful). I need to find a way to inject more of that theme throughout the story. If I interpret those stats' meanings more broadly, then I think I can work with it as in Madness vs Sanity. Or, perhaps a more literal meaning as in Eli's Integrity when it comes to his commitment to his parents.

Any suggestions or thoughts are welcome for those who are taking the time to read. :)
Session 9 - Refusal of the Call (Chaos Factor 3)

[The overall purpose of the stage is to show that the Hero's adventure is not to be taken lightly by:
  • Signaling or showing the risks, the danger and the high stakes of the adventure. Making the danger clear.
  • Displaying what the hero is afraid of, and find a way to express it (why is he refusing). ]

Walking back from the docks, Eli is half regretting his action, in fear of finding that some sort of disaster has befallen his home and family. Perhaps he acted too rashly. He doesn't know anything about sorcery or magic-- is this even real? He sure hopes he's just having a nightmare.

As he approaches his family home from a distance, he begins to feel some relief seeing that it's still standing. No fire, no screaming, and no commotion of any kind can be seen or heard; everything is as peaceful as one could hope.

Still, just the same, upon arriving at the door, he holds his breath before opening it.

"Thank goodness. Everything is in order," he says to himself noticing that everything is in it's place in the living room. 

"Wait...the portrait," he says half expecting it to be back on the living room wall, like the spooky stories he's read in the past. He lets out a sigh of both alleviation and exhaustion, as he plops himself down on a cushy chair. 

[Is the rest of the night uneventful? No.
What happens? PC Negative: Punish-Bureaucracy.]

"I want him sent to prison," Eli hears Ichard's voice come from the dining room, as he's about to fall asleep on the living room chair. Before he has a chance to protest, he is seized by two eager guards, and made to walk all the way to the town's prison.

[Random Event: Ambiguous Event: Malice-Allies]

When they arrive at the prison, he is led to his lonely cell. On the way, dangerous looking men eye him with an air of threatening malice*.

[Does anything else happen that night? No.]

Night turns into late morning and Eli is surprised that he was able to fall sleep at all-- tiredness won in the end.

[Does anyone from the family come to visit Eli? yes.
is it Ichard? No. It's Bryne.
Is Bryne angry? No. Worried? No.
Has she come to bail him out? yes.]

Bryne comes to get Eli out of jail. Eli is silent for most of the walk home as Bryne talks about what he did with the portrait. She mostly expresses confusion as to why Eli would do such a thing but does not seem concerned or angry, which is completely strange for her.

[Random Event: PC Positive: Beautifully/Inspect-Abnormal/Food]

Eli notices that Bryne has been carrying a beautifully embroidered bag, out of which she takes out a container with some fermented vegetables.

[Mythic says she considers that kind of food below her, but doesn't skip a beat or stop to think about it when Eli brings that up.]

"Mom, I thought you hated those. Don't you always say they are low-brow food?"

"A person can change their mind once in a while, can't they Eli?" she says somewhat defensively, yet with humor."Here," she says handing him the container and a wooden spoon,"You must be starving."

"Thanks," he says as he starts to eat. "Where is father? Is he at work?"

"No." [Where is he then? Trust-Wishes] "He went down to draw water from the town's wishing well."

Eli knows that his father would never miss a day of work. "Fine, Ainus, enough of this charade," Eli says exasperatedly.

[Is Ainus in conscious control during the day? No.]

"Ainus? Dear, are you sure you are quite alright?"

"I don't know," he mutters to himself, and takes a few more bites in silence as they walk. "Mother, why did dad have me put in prison over an old painting?"

[Pursue-Bureaucracy] As if the answer was the most obvious thing in the world, Bryne declares: "Eli, son, you know your father is a stickler for the rules."

Eli realizes that questioning his parents in this state is useless. He will have to wait until Ainus is back in conscious control. He is, however, still concerned about his parents' increasingly bizarre behavior.

[Random Event: NPC Action (Thor): Malice-Misfortune]

Thor calls out Eli's name, as he runs towards him. After respectfully greeting Bryne, he asks if Eli can join him. Eli looks at Bryne, who seems to have no objections, other than exhorting him to be careful, so the two friends walk off.

"I went to see you in prison, but you were already gone. What happened?!"

"How did you know?"

"The news is already all over town that you stole from your parents!"

Thor doesn't mention anything about Bryne's or Ichard's strange behaviour, so apparently no one has noticed yet. It's been but a night anyway.

"I didn't steal anything, Thor. I threw away a cursed portrait."

"What?" Thor asks incredulously.

"My family has been hexed, Thor. You must help me," Eli says while grabbing Thor's shoulders.

[Does Thor help Eli? Very Likely: Extreme No! (99)

I didn't like Mythic's answer, so I declared this to be a conflict, a la Shock.

Mythic's "intent" is that if Thor wins using Corruption, he uncharacteristically abandons Eli. My "intent" is that if Eli wins using Brains, he is able to convince Thor to help.

My four rolls for Eli's four features were all horrible, so Thor won with a single success.

Eli gains a new feature: "I am truly on my own"]

"Hexed you say?" A wide eyed and suddenly pale Thor says, and before Eli can continue, the usually brave Thor is running down the street away from Eli.

"Thor!" Eli calls out after him, even trying to run after him, but Thor soon disappears down the corner of the busy cobbled street. A crestfallen Eli gives up his pursuit, and decides to head back to his house which feels less like home with each passing hour.

[When he gets home, is Ichard there? yes
What is he doing? Negligence-Friendship]

When Eli arrives at the house, he finds that an excited Ichard is planning a last minute feast for old friends that he has not kept much in touch with.

[Does anything else happen this day? No.]


The guests begin to arrive lat in the evening, despite the short notice. As the evening progresses, they find themselves pleasantly surprised with Bryne's new found friendliness and more down-to-earth character. However, the guests seem to chalk up their new eccentricities to the fact that they hadn't really seen the Brann's socially since Ichard married Bryne.

Even though he hears his father's voice this time, Eli has noticed that it is now Ainus who is in conscious control of him. Some of the mannerisms are Ichard's, and some he can recognize as Ainus'-- such as his use of humorous irony, and his erudite knowledge of things his father would never be interested in.

[Does he ever take conscious control of Bryne? Yes.] To a lesser degree, he starts to recognize some subtle mannerisms in Bryne, that tell him his hold on her is unconscious at the moment.

Eli watches in uncomfortable silence as the guests enjoy themselves, eating a variety of small plates containing colorful morsels of delicacies they'd never had before. He is afraid to make a scene as he knows his father's livelihood depends on his reputation-- and he is afraid they, or he, might be sent away if the community thought they had become mad. Who knows what they would do if they thought they were cursed.  

[Random Event: Remote Event: Open-Magic

I came up with two interpretations, and rolled to see if the the first one was true. Since it wasn't, then the second one was true by default.

1) The gods have released something from the underworld to hunt Eli. (I'm trying to find a motivation for Eli to get off his ass) (51-No)
2) Thor has visited a reputed witch to find out what is happening to Eli and his family. (yes by default)

Does Ainus manage to block her when he becomes aware? yes.]

After the last guests leave the house, Eli is ready to confront Ainus, when the Magus says in annoyance to no one in particular: "Oh, how rude!"

[Cut to Thor and the witch.]

Prior to Ainus becoming aware of their snooping, Thor was sitting down in front of a splintered table, at the smelly old tenement apartment where the withered old witch lives (mythic). She asked Thor to write down his friends name, and after looking at it for a few seconds, the witch slammed down a knife in the center of the paper as if defending herself from danger.

"What?" A concerned Thor asked.
"This young man's soul is in grave jeopardy," she recoils from the paper.

Thor gulps, and manages to ask: "From who?"

[Mythic: Attainment-Inside. I can think of only two interpretations:

-From inside his house, meaning, Ainus. (Mythic says No)
-From himself. (Mythic says No)
-From inside the bowels of the earth; something threat released by the gods. (yes by default)]

"From the bowels of the earth, judgement is coming," she says. "I can't see any more."

[What does Thor do? Three options I can think of:

- His fear is overcome by his integrity/loyalty towards friendship (Mythic said Extreme No with a roll of 100)
- He decides to remain uninvolved out of fear. (Yes, by default)

Does he at least try to warn Eli? Yes.]

With hands shaking, Thor handed over the silver coins that the witch had demanded as payment. Then he scrambled out the door as fast as he could. Scraping with bullies to protect his friend was one thing, but challenging dark powers was beyond what he could do. He knew he was being a horrible friend, but Thor decided to stay as far away from Eli as he could.

Yet a persistent part of him persisted in nagging: "I should at least warn him. I owe a friend at least that much."

A letter detailing all that the witch said would later be found by Eli at his door. It also would say, "I am sorry, Eli. I can't face this with you."


Back at the Brann's house, Ainus tells Eli, "I hate it when people snoop," after blocking the witch's sight. 

"What do you mean?" asks Eli, looking out the window.

[Is Ainus aware of what the witch saw? Yes. ]

"No, not that kind of snooping. You might want to pick up that letter your friend just slipped under the door."

Eli hadn't heard anything, but it was true. There was a piece of folded paper under the door. After reading it, Eli goes pale.

"Why don't you sit down, I don't want you passing out and breaking any of your mother's china."

Eli sits down and tries to gather his wits, "Is any of this true?"

"I'm afraid so," says Ichard/Ainus as he leans against the doorway to the dining room. "You better get started."

"Where do I even start!" Eli shouts in anger. "You say you helped me in the past, but all you are doing is wrecking my life! Why aren't you helping me if we both truly share the same fate!"

[Why isn't he helping Eli? Create-Friendship

Ainus' friend will.

How will Ainus himself help? Assist-Food]

"Who said I won't? Who do you think will prepare your sandwich for the road?"

Eli buries his head in his hands not finding the humor in the quip.

[Who are Ainus' friends? [Persecute-Investment] 
 Disciples of his, invested in his teachings.]

"You will seek the help of my remaining disciple."

"Where can I find this person?"


-Is in prison, insane. [Mythic said Yes]
-Is now a hermit trying to regain mental balance after losing it. [No, by default.]]

Ainus' remaining disciple is actually in prison after becoming insane. Ainus clears his throat and says "'s a long story."


I think that in this session the dangers have been signaled through play. I don't that what Eli is afraid of has been articulated yet, so this Refusal stage is not done yet (it will soon be over). Then I'm supposed to move to the "Meeting With The Mentor" stage.

Right now more or less rigidly following each stage. It could be interesting to roll for these at random.

*[as Richard Pryor would say,"Thank God we got jails" ]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 8

(Click here for the previous session.)

[In this session I was both able to find out what are the stakes for Eli, and move on to the "Call To Adventure Phase", and even sneak in the beginning of the "Refusal of the Call" ]

An improbable reversal of luck changes the fishing fortunes of the two young men. As they walk back to their homes, they each carry no less than five fish. So excited is Eli that he almost forgot his travelogue book, were it not that Thor remembered to carry it for him.

[Mythic: Desert Balance/kookily graceful.]
Eli makes it home in time for dinner and is confronted by a new prominent painting inside the living room. The subject is a quite unusual looking man, who somehow manages to also be elegant and graceful; eccentric would be the word. [kookily graceful]

Bryne greets Eli and asks him if he likes the painting.

"It's interesting, mother."
[Who is he, and how did he go mad (desert-balance)?  For the man's bio, I used the Rory Story Cubes]

"This was Anius of Apos, Eli. An ancient artist, Magus, world historian and traveller. He is obscure even among those of us interested in history, and those who waste their time in occult circles," Bryne rolls her eyes as she mentions of the last group.
"A Magus, eh," says Eli, looking closer in wonder.

"The superstitions surrounding him are quite colorful. It is rumored that he went mad in his search for the mythical Keys Of Fortune, said to grant their owner success in all of his endeavors. Those given to flights of fancy speculate that he found darkness instead."

"Old wives' tales," Eli says, trying to impress his mom.
"Not quite." She sees Eli's confused expression and adds, "Not literally true, of course. Those tales are usually metaphors, dear."
"Of course," Eli says trying to hide his embarrassment.
"I would have never dreamt of finding anything like this in Hart's Island, and at The Emerald Harlequin of all places. It's usually full of mundane trash. It must have come from a visiting stranger."
"That is quite a stroke of luck, Mother."
"Yes," she smiles. "My interest is purely historical, of course. Shall we sit down to dinner? Your father is waiting."
[NPC Positive: Struggle-Rumor]
Dinner goes by uneventfully, but before they retire to bed, Bryne surprises Ichard with a present: A gold insignia purportedly belonging to a soldier of the "Hidden Army", that is rumored to sere the Emperor. Ichard is very appreciative, as he collects martial trinkets.
[Time to find out what's at stake for Eli. Mythic says the mysterious painting is involved, and that it affects Eli's parents: Oppose-The Mundane]
Eli wakes up and as he sleepily makes his way downstairs for breakfast, he does a double take when he sees Ichard at the table, reading a book on the art of abstract mosaics. His father reading a book? He's never had any interest in books!
Eli almost jumps out of his skin when Bryne hugs him from behind, and kisses him good morning, and lovingly puts a steaming bowl of oatmeal down for Eli, before sitting down next to Ichard. It's not like her at all to show her affection in this manner. And serving him? She usually won't lift a hand to help the maid.
A bemused Eli sits down to chow on his oatmeal, thinking that maybe they should bring more wonderful antiques to The Emerald Harlequin, when the strangeness of the situation hits him in full force. The portrait!

Eli eats a few bites, while watching the strangeness of their behavior unfold, and he can't help but think of some of the spooky stories he's read. Are they playing a practical joke on him? No, his father doesn't have the time to waste on silliness like this. And his mother? She doesn't have that much of a sense of humor.

He eyes the portrait with suspicion: "I'll get rid of it tonight." He is surprised at his own decisiveness, and the irony of that is not lost on him. 

That night Eli sneaks downstairs to get rid of the portrait that he believes is the source of all the strangeness. He finds it's light enough that he can carry it by himself.
[Random Event: Move Away from Thread: Break-Enemies]
As he un-mounts the painting from the wall, he clumsily breaks a small vase. It is then that he hears someone clear their throat.
"What do you think you are doing?" says a voice he can't recognize. When he looks over, it's Ichard.
"I thought I would just get to the point, rather than try to trick you into thinking I'm your father," Ichard continues in that same unknown voice.
Eli assumes the voice belongs to the person in the portrait: Ainus of Apos. Despite his trembling knees, and failing voice, he says in false bravado, "It's just as well you don't waste your time. I'm aware of what you are doing, and I'm getting rid of you." He tries not to be scared as he walks past Ichard/Ainus towards the door.
"Oh, I see. That's the kind of gratitude I get for helping you all of these years."
"You forgot that I already know you're not really my father," Eli opens the door.
"That's not what I meant. Remember the scary fellow following you around and making your life miserable?"
"Pardon me?" says a non-plussed Eli, knowing that Ichard/Ainus is not talking about Brelward.
"Ah, yes, how quickly sullen youth forgets, tsk tsk."

Eli almost drops the painting. "Did you get rid of the creature?" He hadn't thought about it in years, trying to rationalize it away as childish fancy.
"Who else?" The old Magus says cockily.
Eli studies Ichard's eyes, and finally asks, "What do you want? We don't have your Keys of Fortune, or whatever it is that you're questing after. Please leave my family alone."
"You don't have them? Oh my, I must have made a mistake! Please accept my apologies. I will be out of your life as soon as I collect my luggage."
"Irony won't stop me," Eli smiles insincerely gesturing at the portrait in his hands.
"Go ahead, it won't do any good," Ichard/Ainus yawns. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"We'll see about that."
"It might even make things worse, who knows," he shrugs as he gets up to walk up the stairs.  
"You're bluffing."
"Maybe I am. Good night."

Eli makes it only a few steps out the door, and turns back. Catching Ichard/Ainus midway through the stairs, he asks, "Alright, what do you want?"

"I was trying to answer that before you so rudely walked out on me." He gestures for the young man to hand over the portrait, and Eli does so reluctantly.

[What does Ainus want? Judge-Attention]
After Eli sits, Ichard/Ainus continues, "You see, young man, you and I are both in a peculiar predicament."
"Oh really? What would that be?"
"We have both drawn the attention, and eternal judgement of the gods."
"I've never done anything so terrible as to offend the 'gods'"
"Not in this life," Ichard/Ainus smiles and winks.

"Then why haven't they struck me dead already?"

[Mythic: Spy A Path] "They sent a creature to report on your current life...and dispense a bit of divine punishment, perhaps."

"Well, the creature is long gone, so thank you. However, I don't think your divine problem is any of my concern," Eli says getting up.

"For someone who reads so much you don't seem all that bright, son."

"Oh, I'm the dull one, am I? If there are such things as 'gods', how can anyone escape their divine judgement? "

"Why, I'm glad you asked: You force them to bargain by taking away what they love," Ichard/Ainus says with a mischievous smile.

"You are as mad as the rumours say," Eli grabs the painting from Ichard/Ainus, who doesn't struggle.
"I already told you it won't help."

"I'll take my chances," says Eli, now angrily heading out the door for good. In the back of his mind, he is still concerned with how unconcerned Ainus was about the portrait, but he marches on all the way to the docks.

"Maybe he's bluffing and can't do anything to defend himself,"  he rationalizes, as he stands on the edge of the sea wall. Taking a deep breath he hurls the painting into the ocean, and watches it float out of sight with the tidal current.

All he cares about is for his parents to be safe, and everything to return to normal.

Edit: Click here for Session 9.   

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 7

(Click here for the previous session.)

[What follows is all based on Mythic rolls in one way or another. I know my writing is attrocious, so I've made an effort to make it more readable. Ironically, imagining the dialogue based on Mythic rolls has felt closer to solo-roleplaying than ever. :)]

Years have passed since the garden incident, all but forgotten by Eli, who is now on the brink of becoming a young adult. On this day, the morning light outside is so bright that one would think the Sun is in a particularly jolly mood.

Eli, on the other hand, wakes up once more with an emotional malaise that has no specific reason. He mopes around bed, not even bothering to change out of his sleeping clothes. Neither the bright Sun, nor the happily bustling crowd enjoying the day out in seem to care, however.


"Except for Thor, of course," Eli mutters to himself upon hearing his good friend's booming voice coming from the street in front. He pretends he doesn't hear, but the voice becomes louder and more insistent, so he shuffles out of bed towards the window.

"There you are," bellows Thor, smiling.
Eli can't seem to summon much enthusiasm. "Good morning, Thor."

Upon taking a look at Eli in his night clothes, Thor cracks, "I could hear you snoring all the way from my home, so I knew I'd find you here."

"Oh, knock it off, Winterlocke," Eli says, referring to Thor by his last name, as he usually does when annoyed.

"Oh, lighten up Brann," Thor says in mock imitation of his friend's mannerisms. "Take off your night dress, and bring your fishing gear. We're going to Dubhearth Pier."

"I'm not really in the mood for fishing. I was thinking of visiting the library."

"Always the library with you-- just bring a book!" Eli hesitates, and then Thor threatens: "You better drag your rump down, or I'll stay here chanting your name until you do!"
Eli's had enough of the silliness, so he just goes back to bed.

"Eeeli, Eeeli!" Thor wasn't bluffing. The chanting gets louder and louder and it doesn't take long until Eli hears Bryne, his mother, chastising Thor for making a ruckus.

Eli doesn't want yet another lecture on how she'll never finish her history tome unless Thor and him stop disturbing her much needed peace and quiet, so he pre-emptively grabs his fishing gear, and a set of fresh clothes. He grabs the first book on top of a pile, "The Ice Forest: A Travelogue"[Mythic: "cooly-beautiful"], and thinks to himself, "That'll do."

As he's rushing out the door to join his good friend, his mom hollers behind him: "Eli! You haven't even had your breakfast!"
"Don't worry Ms. Brann," calls out Thor as they begin walking down the street. "We'll be catching our own breakfast today!"


The two friends have been sitting at Dubhearth pier for a while, with their feet as well as their fishing lines inside the water. The only thing they've managed to catch so far is a starfish, and that only happened because Eli threw his line the wrong way. To say that their breakfast has been delayed would be an understatement.

On the one hand, Lady Fortune smiles at them as Thor came prepared: bread and meat for some sandwiches. On the other hand, she frowns at them since Thor neglected to look closely enough at the freshness of the food: the bread is mouldy, and the meat doesn't smell quite right up close to their noses [threateningly-ruined].

"We're just doing wonderfully today," Eli says with irony, putting his sandwich down in disgust.

Thor, finally succumbing to Eli's mood as if it was a contagious disease, wistfullly puts his own ruined lunch down. "I'm sorry, Eli. I just wanted us to have fun."

Knowing he's just ruined Thor's day as well, a guilty feeling Eli now tries to make it up to his friend by trying to cheer things up. "Well, it's not that bad, I guess. Perhaps, we can use this as bait for the fish."

"I guess," Thor shrugs, as if Eli's attempt is too little and too late.

"Besides, we don't have to go hungry. We can pick some Wisdom Fruit at Old Spirebog's," he says pointing at the nearby orchard.

"Those trees don't belong to us, Eli."

"Come on, he won't mind one or two missing fruit." [Here Eli had a conflict with Thor. He rolled using Brains, and Thor rolled using Integrity. The intent was to convince Thor it would be OK. Eli lost.]

"I'm warning you, Brann," Thor threatens. "You touch one fruit, and you'll be taking a swim."

"You can't be serious," says Eli as he starts to get up, but then freezes midway through when Thor says:

"Oh my, you look mighty hot, Eli. I bet the water feels very good."

"Fine, fine. You win," he says sitting back down. "I hope we catch something soon."

[This was more of an additional color scene in the "Ordinary World". The last thing I need to do before I move on to the next phase is to establish more concretely what will be at stake. I've already found the answer through Mythic, but I need to roleplay it out. :)

Sadly, I'd like to spend more one on one time with Bryne, Eli's mother, to give her more depth but I think this phase has dragged out enough. Perhaps in the next phase.]

Edit: Click here for Session #8.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 6

(Click here for the previous session)

Situation: It's been a few weeks, and Eli is almost finished with restoring his late Grandpa's garden. He takes a breather and looks down the cobble stone street, outside the garden, and notices that almost all of the buildings are proudly displaying the flag of Hart Island. It's not so much a separatist feeling, as it is that Hart Island locals see themselves as different, in a special way, from the rest of the Empire [Mythic: Loyally-Lavish].

[What is the conflict? NPC Action: Agree-Friendship]: Brelward and his gang were trying to unsuccessfully recruit Thor, a new kid in town. Thor is a very big boy for his age, so it's a no brainer Brelward would want him in his gang. They very wisely move on after being rebuffed.

However, they see an irresistible target for their attention now: Eli. They happen to have a bunch of rotten eggs with them, which they were going to use to pelt Eli's dad, but what better target than Eli!

[I don't bother to roll against Brawn to see if they hit, because I happen to agree with where Mythic is taking this.]

Splat, crack, splat! Eli covers himself, so he at least avoids a hit on the face, but being covered with foul smelling yolk and egg whites all over.

[How does Thor intervene? "dangerously ugly"] Apparently, Thor doesn't quite know his own strength. With one swift punch to the top of the head, he knocks out cold one of Brelward's sidekicks.

Brelward is not quite scared yet, however, as four of his companions are still backing him up. They all try to gang up on Thor. Eli decides to try and help by tricking Brelward and his gang into thinking the guards are coming to break the fight up.

[This is clearly a conflict for the Brawn scale between Brelward, his gang, and Thor. Mythic decrees that Brelward's gang members are one Action Rank below him on Brawn. Their collective intent is to take Thor down, while Thor's intent is to take them down.

Eli's intent is to use his Brains to trick Brelward and his gang into running away from the supposed guards.

Sidekicks: Brain vs Brawn: Low
Brelward: Brain vs Brawn: Weak
Thor: Brain vs Brawn: Minuscule
Eli: Brain vs Brawn: Exceptional

The sidekicks roll: 2 sucesses
Brelward: 1 success
Thor: 3 successes
Eli: 2 successes

Mythic dictates that Thor will focus his anger on the sidekicks first. The sidekicks will successes are cancelled out by two of Thor's. Brelward's success is cancelled out by one of mine. That means both Thor and Eli succeed in their intents.]

Thor easily knocks two of the youths heads together and they're out cold. The two remaining ones each receive a blow that kocks them on their seats.

Eli, on his part, runs down to the nearby corner of the street, and yells to a non existent guard: "Right here officer! Brelward and his friends are ganging up on him!" This, along with the handful they just got in the form of Thor is enough to make those that remain conscious want run away with their tails between their legs, leaving their unconscious compadres behind.

Eli goes up to Thor: "Are you alright?"
Thor, opening and closing his hand: "I may have hurt my hand." Motioning with his head at one of the three kids just now starting to wake up, "That one with the big head probably did it."
Eli: "I think my mom keeps some ointment in her cabinet. Don't go anywhere!"
Thor nods, and Eli bolts towards the house.

Meanwhile, the remaining bullies apologize to Thor, and ask him if they can join his gang. "I don't want a gang," he says dismissively.

[NPC Action: Propose Failure]

They leave Thor alone to lick their wounds, but not before taunting him with: "That's right you're a loner and a fool! We'll get you!"

Eli comes back with the ointment, and a bandage. "That's it. Rub your hand with it, then wrap this around."

As Thor tends to his hand, Eli studies him closely. At first he thought he was an older kid, but his face looks about Eli's age-- maybe younger. "You know, that was just like Willow Morganthe"
Thor: "Willow who?"
Eli: "She was a warrior."
Thor, raising an eyebrow: "She?"
Eli stammers: "I-I-I didn't mean you look like a girl. You're just very fierce like a warrior."
Thor smiles, obviously liking the comparison. "My older brother was a warrior." Then the smiles fades into sadness for a brief moment and he says: "I have to go."
Eli: "Wait! Erm...Thanks for helping me."
Thor, a slight smile returning: "Well, thanks for scaring them with that ruse. I think I was outnumbered."
Eli, stretching his hand awkwardly: "My name's Eli."
"Thor," he says, shaking Eli's hand heartily.
Eli: "Say, if you're new to town, I can show you around tomorrow. I like to read a lot about the history here."
Not knowing many people, and already having made enemies, Thor doesn't see why not. "Sure. I'll meet you here. See ya!" Then he walks home.

Years later, when looking back at this moment, they would both wonder at how circumstance brought together two very different personalities and made them such good friends.

* Since Brelward and the gang of kids lost their intent, in theory, I should grant them one more feature (thus increasing their dice). One thing that might not be so good, though, is to have the features grow out of control.

Anyway, their new feature will be "Will abandon companions at the first sign of trouble"

Edit: Click here for Session #7.

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 5 (some chargen)

After finishing the last session, I've decided that it's time to put some stats down on paper, as I've been relying on the Mythic fate chart for everything. Well, I will still be relying on it, but the character's stats will be my point of reference.

I had mentioned earlier that I liked the way that the Shock rpg handled stats, so I've tried to incorporate that. However, I also think that each phase of the world should have a Mythic Chaos rank associated with it, as it seems that the hero's fortunes rise and fall depending on each stage. I also think that some stages will need to be broken down into sub-stages with their own chaos rank. 
Like, for example, in the "Crossing The First Threshold" phase, we don't want the hero to fail miserably, or the story gets stuck. So, I think that Phase should have a high chaos rank, and a high chance of success for the hero, with lucky breaks, etc.

In the "Ordeal" phase, the chaos rank should probably be lower near its beginning (sub-stage), when the hero should be at his/her lowest of lows,. Then it should rise near its end.

Now, of course, if chance surprises me and say, the hero fails at "Crossing The First Threshold", I'll have to find an in-story reason to deal with that, and try again. I think it's hard trying to maintain a balance between a coherent story and an interactive game. :)

Going back to the vaguely Shock style stats, I've decided that the overarching four stats for everyone will be Brains vs Brawn, and Integrity vs Corruption. I think those themes seem to have manifested themselves through play so far, and it makes sense that the story should be about those.

The way that Shock stats work is that you pick a number between 3 and 8 for each "praxis". In order to succeed you have to roll a d10 and come up under or over that "fulcrum" depending on which side of the "praxis" you're choosing. For example, if I chose Eli to have a 8 for his "Brains vs Brawn" praxis, it would mean that I have to roll under 8 using a d10, if Eli is using his Brains. If trying to use Brawn, I'd need to roll over 8.
Also, each protagonist in Shock has Features, which are characteristics that make your Protagonist unique. For each Feature a character has, a d10 is available when rolling against a stat/praxis. When a protagonist fails a roll (and only when they fail), that character gets to add a new feature, and an additional d10 to his arsenal.  This is supposed to emulate a changing tide of fortune.

How am I trying to adapt this to Mythic and the Chaos rank? Well, I decided pick an "Acting Rank" for each Praxis, and the rest is pretty much like Shock: roll over or under Exceptional odds for a success depending on which side of the scale is being used. So, for example, I picked an "Exceptional" rank for Eli's Brains vs Brawn praxis. Eli needs to roll under Exceptional if using his Brains, and over Exceptional if using his Brawn.

Note that I'm using the Mythic "Acting Rank" as if it was an "Odds" rank. It translates to the same thing, but the "Acting Rank" definitions sound better to my ear.

The other thing I will be trying to emulate from Shock is the way it uses pools of d10's to count successes. Instead of pools of  d10's, I'll be using pools of d100's (or 6 d10's). So for each feature, I'll have a d100 (or a pair of d10's).

One thing I'll do differently from Shock is that I won't be using the d4's for defensive rolls, but each character's successes will cancel the opposing character's successes. I haven't thought this out, so I'm not sure how it will look like in play, but I'm anticipating a lot of rolling!

Here are the first three characters (one of them we haven't met in play yet):


  • Braniac and Artist. Knowledge seeker.
  • Unassertive & scared of confrontation.
  • Wants peace and affection.
  • Does not like to swim (gained during lost conflict in  Session 7)
  • Brains vs Brawn : Exceptional (Eli needs to roll under Exceptional Odds for a success using Brains, and over Exceptional Difficulty for a success using Brawn . The actual number to beat changes depending on Chaos Factor.)
  • Integrity vs Corruption: High

Brelward  (audience boos)

  • Cowardly bully
  • (Mythic: Mockingly-Petite) Insecure about his height (a short beefy bully)
  • (Mythic: Boldly-Ruined) A spoilt brat (ruined-->spoiled)
  • Will abandon friends to save his own skin. (Gained during lost conflict in Session 6)
  • Brains vs Brawn: Weak (Roll under Weak Odds if using Brains, Roll over Weak Difficulty if using Brawn. His strong side of the scale is Brawn.)
  • Integrity vs Corruption: Below Average (Mythic didn't put him too far down the Corruption scale)

Thor  (Eli's friend/protector)

  • Highly principled; to a fault maybe. (see Integrity vs Corruption praxis)
  • Brave, but not very smart. (reflecting his Brains vs Brawn praxis)
  • (Mythic: Energetically- Lame Agile) An athletic kid.
  • Brains vs Brawn: Minuscule  (Roll under Minuscule Odds if using Brains, roll over Minuscule Difficulty if using Brawn)
  • Integrity vs Corruption: Incredible (highly principled kid, to a fault maybe)


One interesting, and potentially neat thing about using opposed stats is the sharp contrasts they create. Weakling geniuses, vs physically gifted dim bulbs. :) That can change with time, if they fail enough and get more dice to roll.

Edit: Click here for Session #6.

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 4

After finishing the last session , I've begun to wonder what is the optimal number of scenes to play for a back story. Four sessions feel quite long already, but I still don't have the answers to some important questions I'm supposed to establish in the "Ordinary World" phase.


Situation: Ichard, Eli's father, is a successful exporter of  what is colloquially known as "Wisdom Cider." The name comes from the fruit of which this cider is made, which is unsurprisingly known as "Wisdom Fruit."

Wisdom Fruit has now been grown over much of the Empire for centuries, but Hart's Island still retains the distinction of being the originator of the finest Wisdom Cider. This is fortunate for Ichard and other local businessmen in the trade.

Eli's second favorite hangout is his dad's office. When not drawing, or having his nose buried in a book,  Eli likes to sit near his father's desk, and watch Ichard manage the business. Today one of his younger salesmen tried to impress Ichard by bragging about convincing a bulk buyer to pay three times the normal price. He sure wasn't expecting gruff response he got from Eli's dad, as well as a long lecture on how integrity and fairness is crucial to his business. To add insult to what must surely feel like an injury for this young man, Ichard has instructed him to find the buyer, and not only give the extra money back, but apologize, on penalty of being fired. Growing up, it has been clear to the boy that his father is not necessarily loved, because he is a demanding boss, but is greatly respected.  

After dismissing the ambitious young man, Ichard turns to Eli and says with a wink: "How do you think I handled that?"
Eli feels a bit sorry for the young employee. He smiles and shrugs. "I think you scared him." 
Ichard leans over and rubs his son's hair, "He should be scared. If I was in the habit of taking advantage of others, I wouldn't be in business long."

[Conflict from Mythic: "Celebrate-Good"]

"By the by, Eli, I have some news for you," Ichard says. Eli can't quite read his expression, but it seems as if his father is somewhat conflicted. "It's about the Grüns."

That's Brelward's family, who also happen to be their business rivals.

"What happened dad?"
"Well, nothing. Not yet." He takes a deep breath. "You see, we've been fierce competitors for years, and just a few months ago Frank Grün dropped by..."
Eli's beginning to feel concerned, when his dad tells him, "It was a friendly business visit. We've been discussing the matter, and it'd be good for our business."
Eli sighs in relief, and smiles, but his father is not smiling."There's a catch. He invited us to Brelward's birthday celebration."
"Do I have to go?"
"Now, son, I know how the little runt picks on you. I wouldn't force you to go. Knowing the Grüns, it's possible they could be offended...but it's up to you. Just think about it."


When the day comes, Eli begs off, since he is scared of Brelward, and his mind keeps imagining all the different ways that Brelward would torture and humiliate him. Ichard does not insist, or hold his decision against him, though.

Later that day, however, Eli hears what he thinks is hushed arguing. He sneaks close to the doorway in order to eavesdrop, catches his father in mid rant.

"He called you a haughty hag!"
"How dare he," Eli hears Bryne, his mother, say.
"I challenged him to a fist fight, but Frank Grün is a coward," Ichard says with distaste.
Usually, Bryne would look down on violent tendencies as brutish, but this time Eli notes that she grunts with approval.

After most of the anger has been vented, Ichard sounds more concerned when he says: "He said he would run me out of business."
The eavesdropping Eli is not the only person surprised by Bryne when she says: "Not if you run him out of business first."

 [Mythic threw a couple of random events that I need to resolve in this session. One is PC-Negative: Trust-Magic.]

The next day, in the morning, Ichard drops by Eli's room with a knock. A still sleepy Eli notices that his father seems somewhat angry at something.

"I found these shoes downstairs. Are these yours, Eli?"
"Yes, father," Eli nods.
"Young man, I want to know why you destroyed your Grandpa Eli's flower garden."
The garden was planted by Grandpa Eli, who passed away a few years ago.Eli was very fond of him and would never think of doing that. "Dad, I haven't even left bed yet!" he protests.

"Eli, your shoe prints are all over the garden."

Eli runs downstairs and looks out to the garden to find that indeed his shoe prints, and that all the plants are wilted. In his mind, Eli instantly blames Brelward and his gang, when out in the street, a distance from the house, he catches another distant brief flash of the creature that was chasing him days ago. It's luminescent eyes mock Eli from beneath a hood.

[NPC-Action: Lie-Environment]

His dad clears his throat behind him. "Son, look at me," he says while kneeling down. "You have not forgotten what I've taught you about having integrity, have you?"
"No, father."
"Then why did you lie? I'm very disappointed, son," his father says, and Eli realizes that perhaps his father will never trust his word again like before.

"I forgive you, Eli. However, you are not allowed to go to the library until you finish planting a new garden for Grandpa Eli. I want you to know how much work work and love he put into it."

Eli knows better than to protest at this point. "Yes, father." 

Ichard leaves Eli, who is looking out the window at the garden, wondering how to even get started.

Edit: Click here for Session #5.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 3

Well, I couldn't quite stay away from this story. :) I am still playing through the Ordinary World, as in the last session. Mythic has thrown an interesting and unexpected twist at me. At first I wasn't quite happy, but it turned out to be quite fun. There is some concern which I will explain.

As I've been reading about the Monomyth, I've learned about the various archetypes defined in the theory, such as the Trickster, the Herald, the Shapeshifter, etc. According to the information I've read, these are not always tied to a specific character, but can be thought of as "masks" that any character can wear to serve a function in the story. My intention was to have these masks be randomly assigned to characters, but I was thinking I would make masks available only at certain points in the structure of the story. For example, my plan was to leave the Herald archetype off until after the "Ordinary World" phase, in what is called the "Call To Adventure" phase.

I have broken that rule in my session, somewhat forced by Mythic. I think it might work, and perhaps it means I don't need to be too rigid about the structure. You be the judge!
So far, this is some of what has been established in the first two sessions:
  • Eli is both an artistic and intellectual individual
  • This town [still to be named] wasw forcibly incorporated to the Empire centuries ago.
  • Eli has somewhat likeminded friends, except in their learned snobishness.
  • Local folks who are more educated tend to look down on the other locals, and their "parochial" views.
It's not clear yet to me whether locals know much or care much about their past. I don't know if their insularity is due to their pride, or some other disatisfaction with the Empire. There are also hints that the educated folks might be more cosmopolitan-minded, or more outward looking.

What follows is the write up for this session:

Situation: Eli and Ulen are walking home from the library, excitedly conversing about how the librarian [to be named] showed up Brelward.

[What is the conflict? Mythic: separate-intrigues]

Ulen parts ways with Eli as they walk past Ulen's street. Not long after Ulen leaves, Eli becomes aware of being followed*. He catches a very brief glimpse of something that he would vaguely remember later as "ageless"-- and threatening**.

Eli picks up his pace, and then full of fear, just bolts home. Somehow, nobody seems to notice he is being followed, which convinces Eli that it allowed itself to be seen only by him. 
As fate would have it, Eli does eventually bump into Brelward's gang, minus their leader. They only laugh at him, though, seeing as he's scared to death.

They taunt him. "Watch where you're going Twig!"

Whatever was chasing him, does not catch up as Eli makes it home.

Our hero is glad to find his mom at home, but he looks out the window with concern.

[Random Event: Move towards a thread. "Malice-Adversaries". I interpret that as a reaction from his mom]

"Are those little brutes bothering you again?" She asks with some concern, and annoyance, going towards the window herself.
Eli only manages to nod.

With an irritated sigh, she turns from the window after not seeing anything. Somewhat absentmindedly she puts her hand on Eli's shoulder, and tells him what she always tells him: "They are just jealous of your talent, my dear." With that she goes back to her scholarly work on ascetic monks of old. 

No kisses or hugs from Mom. Eli would usually feel somewhat hurt and needy, but today he's just too scared. He looks out the window again, but does not see "it" again.

* This is where Mythic threw me a curve-ball. I asked whether it was Brelward, and got a no. I then asked if it was Brelward's gang, and got another no. Then I asked if it was some other bully (being really rigid with my questions), and got another no!

**The creature or being that Eli felt was following him was discovered through Mythic questions. Since Mythic left me with no options that I could think of, I broke my rule regarding using Monomyth Archetypes, and asked whether it was the Shadow archetype; possibly a manifestation of it. That's when I got a yes, so it may be a foreshadowing (no pun intended).

Edit: Click here for Session #4.

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: Monomyth structure - Session 2

Since my last session, I've been hashing some details out in my head like what I want to do for mechanics, and stats. I very much like the way that the Shock rpg both simplifies and infuses a theme in its handling of stats with its "praxis scales," so I've decided to use that. I don't want anything too complicated anyway as I'm a scatterhead, and this is my first time trying this structure out. :)

Given the hero's background and the presence of bullies in the previous writeup,  I think it's pretty obvious that one of the emerging themes is "Brains vs Brawn."

In addition to that, I also think that two things can be inferred:
  • Our hero's family is wealthy enough to send him to study in the capital.
  • The town is part of an Empire.
Other things have been revealed to me in this session regarding this town and its inhabitants. I decided to skip right ahead to the 'young boy/pre-teen' phase. The characters I'm interested in meeting are:
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • The bullies
  • Our hero's friends
During the session, I found out what some of the NPCs names are. In this session, I got to put on the player's hat, even though I didn't use stats yet.
Another thing I borrowed from the Shock rpg is the setup of the scene as a static situation ready to be interrupted by an antagonist.  There were a lot of Mythic Fate questions, but I only wrote down the real relevant ones. You can pretty much assume that all NPC actions came from Mythic in some form.

Also, this is still in the "Ordinary World" phase of the monomyth. Here is the writeup:

Situation: (Altered Scene) Our hero, Eli, is sitting inside the library; reading up on local history. His specific subject is a local man woman who, centuries ago, served in the Empire legion with honors fought against an encroaching Empire. Her name was Willow Morganthe.

Keeping Eli company are his motley crew of studious friends. While he reads about the female warrior, his companions are having a heated argument about the local culture-- how it is backwards, closed minded, and parochial [Mythic: Abandon-new ideas]. Obviously, these precocious kids are probably parroting their parents.  

[I get a Random Event from Mythic. NPC Positive-Create-Good (I erroneously interpreted this as a PC Positive)] Creepy looking Ulen [Mythic description: Adventurously Macabre] takes notice of a portrait Eli has created, based on what he's read so far about Willow Morganthe. He quietly passes it around to the rest of the group, who one by one fall silent in appreciation of how well it was drawn. They all praise our hero on his artistic skill.

[That's the static situation: A bunch of nerdy kids enjoying themselves. :) What's the conflict? Mythic: Violate-Victory. The bullies make their entrance now.]

Someone snatches the portrait from Ulen. It's Brelward, their tormentor. 

[Mythic described Eli as "Offensively Strong." That doesn't quite make sense, so using the S.C.A.M.P.E.R principle, I took the opposite of Strong and the description wa "Offensively Weak". Hence the offensive nickname below.]

"Look, it's Twig's girlfriend," he mocks. That's his nickname for Eli.

Ulen attempts to get the picture back from Brelward in vain. [Mythic throws another Random Event here: PC Positive"Antagonize-Victory". Using S.C.A.M.P.E.R again, I change that to "Help-Victory".]

The librarian in charge intervenes, taking the drawn portrait from Brelward.

"Why, this is quite a good portrait, Ulen," says the librarian.
"It's actually Eli's, sir,", says Ulen.
"Oh," says the librarian. "Well done, Eli."
"Thank you, sir" says Eli.
"Do you mind if I keep it? I'd like to frame it and put it on that wall."

Both pleased and embarrased, Eli answers, "No...of course not, Sir."
The librarian nods, and then turns to Brelward. Not even bothering to address him by his name, he shooes him away saying:

"Now, if you're not going to read or study, you better leave."

Brelward leaves as he gives Eli a threatening look.

Edit: Click here for Session #3.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month: First attempt at roleplaying using the Monomyth structure

As part of Solo Game Appreciation Month, I decided to put to the test some ideas I read on using the monomyth structure as a guide my solo play. I honestly cannot say this session so far has been real roleplaying, except in the sense of having my GM hat on. :) It was still enjoyable, though, and reminded me of my feeble attempts to create roleplaying plots for my friends.

I’ve heard that the Aria rpg used the monomyth, but I’ve never had the pleasure of finding a copy so I made an attempt to roll up my own using information on the net, and also in “The Writer’s Journey” book by Christopher Vogler (excellent book). I have a lot of loose ideas and notes lying around, but here is my first attempt at a concrete structure for the “Ordinary World” phase of the monomyth structure (as always feedback is greatly appreciated!):

Ordinary World

The purpose of the following questions is to discover through play (as much as possible) what their answers are.

  • What does our hero's "Ordinary World" look like?
  • (Optional) How does it contrast to the “Special World”? (You may not know this yet and that’s OK).
  • What is the hero’s outer problem? (The hero is assumed to be the PC, though not necessarily, I guess).
  • What is the hero’s inner problem? (It can be a flaw, a psychic/emotional wound, a lack of something, etc.)
  • What makes the (imaginary?) audience identify with the hero? What is his universal drive, goal, desire or need?
  • What is at stake for the hero?
  • What is the story’s premise or theme? What is the story about? What single idea or quality is it about? (Usually it can be an underlying assumption about an aspect of life like “love conquers all”.)

Once again, the purpose is to discover the answers to these questions through play. I thought that having a few phases in the hero's backstory for applying these questions might be useful and fun.  I chose the following life phases:

  • Before the hero is born.
  • When the hero is born.
  • When the hero is but a baby.
  • When the hero is a toddler.
  • When the hero is a young girl/boy.
  • When the hero is a teen.
  • When the hero is a young adult.
  • When the hero is an adult.
  • Etc. as needed.

In my session so far, I did not make use of all of these life stages. My assumption is that one will choose randomly, cherry pick, or use them all depending on taste.

Also, in my solo play test, I found that some of this discovery happens in GM-mode (as if prepping an adventure for others). I am also anticipating being able to answer some of these questions through actual roleplay in this “Ordinary World” (i.e. player mode).

Below is my write up for what initially was an exploration of “What does the world look like?”, but as I played (again, in GM-mode), I found myself  encountering hints and details regarding other questions as well.

For now, I’m provisionally calling this adventure, “The Intellectual” (how imaginative!):

(First I asked Mythic, “What does this Ordinary World look like?” Answer: Inform-Messages. There were more questions along the way, but I did not write them down. Also, in the back of my mind, there has been an assumption that this will be a setting in the medieval fantasy vein.)

The setting is a medieval town where a great library is located, and (Altered Scene) where, formerly, the center for the regional messenger post service used to be. This service does not exist anymore, though the deteriorated and abandoned building still stands in town. The great library still exists, but it is in bad condition.

A stranger might be struck at how the rest of the town is in good order, but eventually would realize the reason for that: the townies have a strong anti-intellectual streak in them, and are a rather insular lot (thus why they have no use for the messenger post). It should come as no surprise that this town is located on a relatively remote island (think Nantucket if you’re familiar with Massachusetts).

By the time our hero is born, none of the above conditions have changed.

Our hero’s father is a merchant, and much like his fellow townies, he is not much interested in intellectual pursuits. He is, however, a very kind man, who shows his love for his child. By contrast, the mother is almost the opposite: a relatively cold intellectual, who is not so kind due to her tendency to look down on the other town dwellers as uneducated.

While the hero was growing up as a toddler, his mother used to read to him at home and at the great library. As a boy, she generally encouraged him towards pursuits of the mind. However, compared to the hero’s affectionate father, she was cold and distant in a way.

Most people in town have assumed that our hero is as much of a snob as his mother, solely because he spends a lot of time in the library, and takes after his mother in terms of his interests. As a result, he has been bullied throughout his young life—though never when he is in the company of his good friend [to be named], who acts as a deterrent due to his size and ability to put a hurting on most.

The adventure will begin in earnest when the hero is in his teens. The hero’s mom has been pushing Dad to send our hero to a school located in the Empire’s capital, far far way. The schools in the hometown are not good enough.
I am not yet ready to begin the next phase of the monomyth as I want to spend some more time in this Ordinary World to find out more about the NPCs taking form in this very humble beginning. :) I also still need to figure out how I will use elements of roleplaying systems such as stats, resolution mechanics, etc. I definitely know that they will not be used in the usual way.

As always, feedback is appreciated!

Edit: Click here for Session #2 of this ongoing game.