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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" ]


  1. Interesting. As I read, I thought that there could have been moments when Eli might have expressed or exposed genuine fear during this session. Are you waiting for a cue from Mythic or another accessory to trigger Eli's fear? How much of your own control over Eli are you exerting compared to other characters? Session 8 and 9 had some serious upheaval in Eli's life's status quo thanks to Ainus. Has Eli handled a possessing insane spirit and jail time too well?

  2. Hey JF!

    Good points as usual. I really appreciate the feedback. :)

    I'm in full control of Eli as a "PC", but I take cues from Mythic for the other characters. The out of character knowledge that I have as a player has affected how I've had Eli act, though.

    When Ainus entered the scene, I knew I was playing in the "Call To Adventure" phase, and I also knew that Ainus was both wearing both the Herald and Trickster masks, and not the Shadow (at least for now). I was also kind of self-conscious about having Eli act as if he had no idea what could be causing his parents' behaviour, because I thought it would be cliched, so I had him try the most obvious answer (chuck the portrait away). I've also rationalized his unusual actions as stemming out of concern for his parents-- kinda like being forced to be brave out of not knowing where to turn and desperation.

    I should have probably had Eli try to look for help against Ainus, as a more realistic response, but one thing about expressing what the hero fears is that those fears are about the dangers of undertaking the quest. At some point Eli will have to heed the Call that Ainus has delivered and begin the journey.

    What do you think?

  3. I see your point.

    Fear of undertaking the quest actually works well for what has been established about this character thus far (home, stable & studious pursuits, etc).

    Right. Carry on!


Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, ideas.