Tuesday 19 October 2021

What do you do with your day!? Thoughts on asynchronous play

This blog has an associated discord server: https://discord.gg/NDrtRKs and on it I run a variety of games. I very much like the idea of a open table that people from all over the world can jump in at any time and play. Additionally, because of where I live the tyranny of timezones means that I have a hard time organizing a 3 hour voice/video session online (that and general life commitments). 

This has lead to me thinking about and experimenting with asynchronous play quite a bit recently (over the last 2 years or so). By "asynchronous", I mean that the players and referee don't have to "play" at the same time. The referee can get orders and information from all of the players over a period of time (say, a day or two) then collate them all into one cohesive set of events and then report that back to the players. Repeat that process until the game is done. 

In my recently completed  "Chrorospyrog" game ( https://lizardmandiaries.blogspot.com/2021/08/chorospyrog-player-character-generator.html + https://lizardmandiaries.blogspot.com/2021/08/on-misty-mud-plain-of-fosmuck-often.html ) I formatted the request for "turn orders" to the players as "What do you do with your day?!". This worked very well with that game because I had planned for the game to run for exactly two weeks of in game time and ensured that each players did something interesting in each of those days. 

Asking the players for a days worth of orders (or a half day, or an hour, or week/month/year, etc) allows the referee to get a good idea of what each players is trying to achieve with their characters time and then can work out how all those different orders, ideas, plans and schemes all work together. It avoids one of the issues I see with gaming on discord of certain players taking up a lot of time and attention while they doing something very specific - and the other players are ignored for a period of time.  

Also, this approach eliminates the issue of players being in different timezones. If I give every player 48 hours to give me a days worth of orders for their character that is manageable regardless of your time zone (rather than logging on in during a specific 3 hour window on a weekend). 

This approach probably favors broader stroke games (two weeks in the worm tower city witnessing its civil downfall and a bug invasion for example) but you could always "zoom" in the turn order for a more granular game. Also there is nothing stopping you zooming in and out as required. 

  • During combat you might ask "What do you do with the next 30 seconds?!"
  • During dungeon exploration you might ask 'What do you with the next 5 minutes?!" 
  • During overland exploration you might ask "What do you do with half your day?!

You will get varied amount of details from players in their orders. Some players will give you very specific sets of instructions, whereas some will be happy with a simple sentence with a broad outline of what they want to achieve. Both types of instructions work perfectly well! 

Finally, I've been using freeform or ruleless approach to run these games (specifically using my d6 Kontext Spiel "protocols" inspired by the Free Kriegspiel Revolution: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/363342/Kontext-Spiel-d6 [Free, for those interested]). I'm not quite ready to do a blog post on why I think running games without rules is a incredibly fun and rewarding way to go, but I have been thinking about it of late. Regardless, using a freeform set of protocols avoids rules getting in the way of the the weird and wonderful scenarios you will be presented with from the various player instructions. Having to shoehorn player actions into stricter rules/protocols chews up a lot of time and cognitive load and gets in the way of interaction with the game world. You don't need them! I will do some contextual rolls for each player as appropriate, some get a single roll of the d6, some might get 5 or more. The other beautiful thing of using the freeform system is that I feel very liberated to tackle any type of game that comes to mind, from a skirmish game, to a massive battle between commanders with 100 units each, to single characters spending two weeks in weird decaying city, or strange mutated hobos setting fire to ruined apartment buildings as they are beset by dream spiders, without having to write a new set of rules. I've got everything I need to run any game I can think of (Which is a d6 and a willingness to consider the probability of any attempted action)! 

Give it a go, and if you run a game like this please consider giving me an invite! 

An example I am quite fond of, from the recent Chrorospyrog game: 

Note: There are two players listed here but the Chrorospyrog game had 9 players. The game was divided into a variety of different channels representing ares in the game world. This way players could pursue different goals in different places in the game world without the chat log becoming a confusing mess! 

Additional note: These events took place in the second last day of the game, so the updates were longer and more involved than normal. A referee can make the updates as long or as short as the game requires or they desire. 


  • Alegrin orders the mudmen to begin the production of crab armour for the maggots and themselves. Perhaps in another life the mudmen were smiths - because they do an acceptable job of wrapping the maggots in tooth mail coats. A large amount of arms and armour has been left abandoned in the factories - enough for each of the maggots and the mud men to be wrapped in carapace like layers of tooth mail armour. A few select mudmen and maggots receive heavier armour, plates of bronze, shaped in the vision of the glorious joyful crab! The mudmen even shape some hand armour and weld them with some pick blades to form crab claw gauntlets! The arms and armour are muddy and sooty - but crablike and hardy.... the tower remains empty the whole day - the band is not disturbed!
  • Shyknar Has no success summoning beetles...he feels the mud nearby has been emptied of beetle kind. He feels a pain in the earth. Many beetles have died recently. Though there is hope...though the nearby towers and the muddy earth have been cleared of beetles he can sense that there are others nearby. Shkynar attempts to call the beetles to him all day...but none come...

    That is until sunset.

    Watching the mud plains darken with the setting sun Shkynar, despondent and beetleless, feels a presence of great power...it scuttles largely towards him...The queen!

    The obsidian beetle queen has come! Enraged at the onslaught on her hive she means to bring slaughter directly to the city. She is accompanied by her royal gaurd, huge bear sized rhino beetles. She herself is glorious and huge and shining and dripping with quicksilver.  Her many mandibles drip with acid and eggs pour from her, a carpet of hatchlings behind her.

    She communicates with Shkynar with her overpowering pheromones, "Will you fight for me, Beetle Mancer? Or shall you be devoured? We will return in the morning for your answer"
  • The sun sets, the queen and her royal gaurd and brood are out there on the moon lit plains. Alegrin and Shyknar rest the evening in the factory. On the next and final day, what do they do?!

Shyknar: "I will fight to the end of the earth for you my Queen if I can be your King"

Alegrin: That night, Alegrin is struck with a vision, a vision of crab-beetle empire. (And perhaps himself as a trusted advisor, for do not all great names flourish with right hands behind the scenes?). In the morning the Crab paladins approach the beetle queen, and Alegrin raises his stone and succinctly sets out an offering of unity and marriage on behalf of his comrade-paladin Shyknar. If he's afraid of the rhino-beetles, the eggs, the hatchlings and by the Crab God the pheromones, he doesn't show an iota of it! The towers shall be Hers but also His and the Crab God's! (Of course he's backed up by the Army of the Peace Through Stone Crab God Initiative).


  • The two crab paladins Alegrin and Shyknar leave their abandoned factory stronghold. They march out onto the mudplains of Fosmuck as the sun rises, their retinue of assorted, armored beings, behind them. They march for sometime until they encounter the smell and the hatchling swarm. Treading delicately, to as not crush any royal spawn, they approach the queen in her shallow mud burrow. As they come close she pulls herself out of the earth, revealing her enormous bulk and glory! 
  • The gem of Alegrin is raised, it glows joyfully and calmly! The queen bows her head and hears the proposal of the two paladins. Silence. And then, a flooding of sweet pheromones of joy and acceptance and fertility! The queen is to be married! 
  • The rhino beetle royal guard is stand offish, fossicking their mandibles and claws brusquely...but they accept whatever decision their queen makes. The queen is to marry the half beetle half man abomination...and that is that. 
  • The ceremony is short, as there is a war to be fought, but Shkynar is made a throne of quicksilver rot and served the juiciest of beetle jelly! A feast of pheromones wafts through the air - the assorted maggots, mudmen are most intoxicated, swaying and chanting and praising the joyful crab and his holy emissary the obsidian beetle queen! Oh what glorious and holy days we live in! 
  • Words and pheromones, mud and rot, the engraving of carapace and flesh. The act is done!  Shkynar and the queen of the obsidian beetles are wed! She wishes him to climb up her carapace! A most solemn and holy act! He may fight from her back in the coming battle!

Sunday 17 October 2021

The Saga of Ostermark, Part 1

Here is the first part of the reporting on my 6 player Krieghammer (warhammer using kriegspiel inspired rulings) campaign. I've been running it for about 6 months and the final battle (three players - Skaven, Chaos/Empire and Beastmen) is taking place right now! I ran it on discord, getting private orders from the players (whether those orders for in a battle or commands for travelling across the map) and publicly updating the map/giving important area updates. All of the battles apart from the final one have been in private, so the other players not involved in the battle were not able to get unfair intelligence on the other player's armies. I ran the game using the freeform/ruleless protocols (inspired by the Free Kriegspiel Revolution) outlined in my waraming PDF "Freeform Skirmish Referee": https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/352987/Freeform-Skirmish-Referee 

Find out more about Krieghammer/join the discord and play a game here: http://lizardmandiaries.blogspot.com/2021/04/krieghammer-rules-and-armies.html

I did all of the maps/battle images in Paint.net. 

Original Recruitment Post for the Game/Details on how it was played: 

  • Each player is in control of a faction warband. 
  • Each turn, outside of battle with another player, takes a day. 
  • You will be given a description of the region you are in and then give the orders for what your warband does on that day. 
  • The turns outside of battle will be more broad strokes than the battles. Their purpose is to grow your warband/gather items of power/maybe be killed by NPCs. 
  • The map will make it clear where all the other factions are but you will not know specifically what they are up to. Alliances and communication are possible between the different factions (if somewhat improbable), but each faction outside of the two Empire commanders has their own unique goal to win the scenario. 
  • Battles between player warbands will be resolved in a public battlefield (This ended up being private!)
  • The end is not the end: A win by the Beastmen, Orcs, Skaven or Undead will trigger apocalyptic events that will be dealt with by the other factions in an epilogue of sorts (Both the Skaven and the Beastmen did this - they got a massive amount of troops as a reward!).

The campaign map

Factions, Their Goals and Recruitment information (From the Recruitment Post): 

  • Beastmen, Starts with 15 points: You must raze three towns of the stinking menfolk. More beastpeople will join your cause if you find them in the deep dark forests and woods!  
  • Orcs, Starts with 15 Points: You must prove yourself as a warboss, winning five battles against any of the other factions! More orcs dwell in the mountains, they will be looking for a fight! Goblins are in the woods, bash them into fighting for you!  
  • Skaven, Starts with 20 Points: You emerge in the middle of the Veldt from a tunnel from the under empire. You must capture two human towns and keep each for long enough to build a tunnel beneath the ground. You will be sent more troops overtime from beneath the earth!  
  • 2 x Commanders of The Empire, Starts with 20 Points Each: You must defend The Empire! Cleanse Ostermark of all other factions. You will be sent an allowance from the empire to recruit more men from the towns and villages of the region!   
  • Undead, Starts with 15 Points: Your vampire baron master requires an army of the undead! Raise the dead from the many sites of ancient battles or cemeteries in the region. You must not return south until you have raised an army of undead worth 80 points. 

Some caveats: 

  • Probably not balanced in any way! Your army well may be crushed! 
  • The campaign will probably take a while to play out. 
  • There may be a lull for you when we have to resolve a battle between two warbands

A turn is a day. Each turn you will get a description of the region you are and how your warband's actions from the previous day went. Each turn you provide orders as to what your warband will spend the day doing. All of the above will be done via private message. It generally takes a day to travel between regions - but mountainous/forested regions may take longer! (edited)

Moving to a new region takes a whole day. Doing something in a region also takes a whole day. You can split up your armies but they will be weakened if they meet aggressive groups!

Player Warbands: 

Beastmen, The Peacebane Warherd, led by Beastlord Kurghan Fleshrender.

Orcs, led by Black Orc The Nameless:

Skaven do not exist ( Clan Vaksyne, led by Warlock-Engineer Slatker Fleshfire):

Army of the Empire 1, led by Rifleman Fritz Von Strusseldorf:

Army of the Empire 2, led by Pistolier Grondschlächt von Impfneid-Zugzwang:

Undead, led by Vampire Lord Talos Carrackvane:

Daily Map Updates: Each map updates represents a day - bits and pieces happened in the direct messages between me and the players but I will not present them here in the interest of brevity! 

Day 1. 

Day 2: I didn't upload a map image for some reason....

Day 3: 

Day 4: From the mountains come the roar of "WAAAAAAGGGHHHHH!!!!", heard as far as Muckenhof. The orcs there have been incited, a great beast has been slain and a new great and glorious warboss marches forward, gathering the greenskins! (The Orc commander defeated a Jabberslythe in the mountains!) 

Day 5: 
A great howl comes from the northern black forest. Smoke fills the air. Ryazan is razed by the beastmen. Now diseased men and women flee from the town - they are unable to cross the river into the safety of nearby towns and are lost forever in the chaos infected wood!
Day 6: 

Day 7: In the East the people of the town of Weiler has begun fleeing from the approaching horde of Orcs! They are absolutely terrified at the size of it! Some of the braver/insane fighting men have stayed behind but most of the town has abandoned hope and fled!  Where are the defending armies of The Empire, they cry!

Day 9 (Lost a day here!):
The town of Weiler has been lost to the gleeful destruction of the orc host!

Day 10: The people of Nagenhof and Buckrow have begun to flee their city - fearful of the enormous orc warhost rampaging the land! Some small token hosts of mad defenders remains! Sigmar, they cry, Why has your Empire abandoned us?! Some of the refuges from Buckrow fall dead on the riverbanks - a foul sickness wrecking their fleeing bodies! 

Day 11: Buckrow is lost to the orc menace! Hundreds if not thousands of refugees flee West along the river in search of heroes to save them!

Day 12:  Something feels...wrong, in Ostermark! The dead are raising from the ground in the West!

Battle! The forces of the Beastmen, The Peacebane Warherd, led by Beastlord Kurghan Fleshrender will be attacked by the Army of the Empire 2, led by Pistolier Grondschlächt von Impfneid-Zugzwang, on the river near the ruins of Ryazan! 

A river, just east of the Ruin of Ryazaan. Beastmen on a boat and a troop of The Empire's finest.

•  The scouts of the empire notice something off with the boat first. The beastmen are limp and stiff and staring off into the distance. Only the two beastmen runts appear to be moving. 
•    The ranged units march into position and open fire – they focus on the more lively runts who appear to be steering the boat– the forest echoes with the BOOM of rifles and the arrows and bullets slay the beastman raiders! They fall into the river – dead. 
•    The remaining beastman aboard the barge do nothing in response. As the empire’s units get closer they realise it is a trick! Foul chaos magic has coated the corpses of dead men, beastman, and wild animals in a glamour to make them appear like living beastmen! They are but stinking, rotting corpses!
•    An ungodly HOWL blasts from the north!

•    At the ungodly howl – the two peasant scouts flee! The days marching through up river with endless howling and gibbering and the sight of a boat full of a corpses is too much for them! They run away! 
•    One of the conscripted archers also  jumps in the river and swims South. This madness is too much for her! 
•    Two beastman soothsayers in the woods send gouts of flame at the imperial troops! One is unsettled by their glinting armour and does not cast – but the other sends a fireball at the two Pistoliers! Grondschlächt von Impfneid-Zugzwang is set alight! 
•    5 Beastmen Raiders appear in the nearby woods and fire at the burning pistoleer, Grondschlächt hitting him twice! Both in the arm! He may have trouble firing with this arrow wounded arm! 
•    A stinking plague carrying Nurgle Chaos Spawn emerges slathering from the woods and runs at the mounted knight! It scratches and bleats but is unable to pierce the knights armour or unsettle its mount yet. It is unable nor cares to, reach the targets it was directed to attack! 
•    7 spear wielding beastmen runts appear and charge at the mounted pistoliers! 3 stab at Grondschlächt’s mount, 1 spear wounds its flank! 4 stab at the other pistolier’s mount! It is stabbed twice! Both mount are unsettled by the stabbing at the flames! One of the pistoliers horse bucks but its rider holds tight! 
•    5 Beastmen appear! 3 Smash into the Western Troopers! 1 of the troopers is beheaded by a beastman! The other has its leg cleaved off! Both are slain! The remaining trooper pierces one of the beastman’s arms but does not slay it!

•    The other 2 beastman smash into the mounted knight already beset by the spawn of chaos! A beastman smashes in the leg of the poor horse who crumples to the ground! Dead! 
•    The now unmounted knight hacks at the foul spawn of chaos that is gibbering at him! A might blow! The chaos spawn has its head instantly removed! The melts to the ground oozing pestilence! The knight immediately begins cough and hacking beneath his helmet!
•    The riflemen all reload! The men and women of the empire look at Grondschlächt for direction in this madness! In the north there is howling of yapping and snarling of many vicious wild beast dogs!

•    Grondschlächt opens fire at the Soothsayer launcher of flames in the woods. A VERY lucky shot! Getting it right between its beastly eyes! The soothsayer is dead. Hermann the other pistolier unleashes his pistols at the other Soothsayer – not having as much luck but wounding the casters arms! 
•    Herman, ungodly whispers filling his skull, screams – tears running down his face, “Too many secrets! Oh god the secrets!”, and sends a fireball hurling at one of the western Beastmen! It catches aflame! 
•    The remaining Soothsayer sends a ray of pain towards the westernmost foot knight! His body seizes up in excruciating pain and he drops to the muddy ground, laying on his back in pain and screaming in agony! 
•    The beastman raiders open fire! Hitting one of the riflemen in the leg! The rest of the arrows sink uselessly into the mud. 
•    The riflemen open fire on the remaining Soothsayer. Another crack shot from the guns of man! A bullet in the head! The other soothsayer is killed! The remaining projectiles hit into nearby trees and bushes, uselessly. 

•    Three of the beastman runts charge at the ranged units of the empire, all three stabbing a target with their spears! A rifleman is wounded in the leg. The conscripted archers are stabbed through the belly with spears! Dead!

•    The remaining beastman runts stab at the pistolier’s horses! Not achieving much of anything!
•    The remaining trooper attempts to help his leader! Moving towards the runts attacking his horse! The beastmen warriors nearby to him hack their axes at him! Three hits, a blow to the leg and arm slows the trooper – allowing the third beastman to stomp forward and behead him.

•    On the eastern flank the now unmounted knight coughs and splutters and wheezes in his helmet! He has been infected with some foul plague from the corpse of the spawn of Nurgle. 
•    The beastman nearby to him descend, swinging their axes! SMASH! SMASH! The knights leg armour and helmet are cracked and smashed and destroyed by the blows of the vicious beastmen! 
•    The knight, reeling from the attack and feeling ill, stumbles forward – missing his swing

•    The beastmen swing again – perhaps over confident, the first misses, the second smashes in the leg of the ailing knight. He is bleeding profusely from the wound!
•    The knight stumbles forward and pierces the arm of the beastman! It his last action in life as he tumbles forward into the mud – from his injury and fast acting plague infection. The beastmen hack at his prone form – cleaving his skull beneath his useless helmet.

•    Grondschlächt, see a free path, charges his horse and self into the river to douse the flames, The horse is so far doing ok with this task and the flames have been doused! This act may have affected his gunpowder supplies!

•    The western beastmen hack at the prone and paralysed with agony footknight. He is powerless to stop them hacking him to pieces. He is dead.

•    The units of the empire form up as best they can! The banner man – seeing his friends and comrades ripped to pieces from ghostly beasts that seem to have appeared from now where, throws down his banner and attempts to flee. Nearby runts and beastmen stab and hack him to death. 
•    The Riflemen and Pistoliers all reload! Ready to fire!
•    Another great terrifying HOWL from the woods! The Ruin of Rheden a foul slathering pack of fang hounds bounds out of the woods! Hungry for man flesh!

•    Another booming and doomfilled howl from the North. It is largely aesthetic in nature as the troops of the empire as terrified and unnerved as they could possibly be! 
•    One of the western beastman jumps in the water to douse the flames cooking his beastly body! 
•    The rifleman wildly fire their arms at nearby runts! They are too close and too surrounded and too terrified to get a good shot. They have missed! Gunsmoke fills the air yet again regardless. 
•    Four runts surrounded the rifleman! All stabbing deep into their flesh with their spears! The riflemen are dead. 
•    Another three runts attack the horsed pistoleer! Only one hit! But a deep stab into the flank of the horse! The horse crumples and dies beneath the pistoleer!
•    The raiders in the nearby trees fire at the dismounted Pistolier Hermann! Two arrows hit him! His leg and arm are pierced. 
•    The beleaguered Herman is chopped at by nearby Beastmen! Not the finest blows from the beastmen but…it is enough to slay the already wounded and shocked and battered and fallen from his dead horse Herman. He is slain!

•    Grondschlächt urges his horse ashore, hoping to escape. His sodden pistols amazingly fire! Slaying on of the beastman runts! 
•    Grondschlächt is massively overwhelmed and outnumbered, the horde of beastmen have him surrounded. It is moments before he is ripped from his horse and the horde begins its feast! Grondschlächt is slain along with his men – carrion feast for the beastman horde.

The army of the Empire has been defeated. The beastmen are full and fat with a feast of man flesh!

Monday 11 October 2021

Indoor/Outdoor Place + Random Encounter Generator for A Land of Peace And Rot

Continuing on from this post, which creates overall areas (or hexes) for a weird, dreamy fantasy setting, here is another set of generators for Random Encounters, and specific Places in areas (both indoors and outdoors). There's also a "What Happens Next?!" button for the referee if they ever need it. 

If you like these generators, you can get them in a PDF format (+ the HTML files for the automated generators for offline use) with some illustrated examples and character classes here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/373466/A-Land-of-Peace-and-Rot

And now for the generators!