Hey, this is Peggy this time! I am the co-author of the Jaldonkillers Saga and one of the playtesters. An interesting mix of duties. I was aware of the meta-plot for book one, Valley of Plenty, and the rest of the saga, but the scenes in the book were often a surprise for me. Even the ones I helped to brainstorm for! I’ve sat down with the notes I took for our playtest sessions with our group and wanted to share some tidbits from it and how they helped shape the game you, hopefully, have in your digital hands.
To start, let me introduce the characters who journeyed with Hara and Ula in their early childhood. Alphabetically, to be neat about it, there was:
Armakt, a boy who is the oldest of everyone by a year. He is from the Bentorthenoring bloodline and a true City Jay. (To the point he worried about getting his sandals and tunic dirty once!)
Daradrella (Drella to most), a girl who is the smallest of the group. (She is waiting for a growth spurt which her father assures her is coming any day now.) She is from the Odvarning bloodline and will fight someone who accuses her of being a City Jay. Even if she lives in the city and quite enjoys the comforts there. This is my PC.
Ivarna, a girl who early on was more of a follower and eager to let the wilder of the Wildlings decide on the fun. She is from the Ardantharning bloodline and is easygoing.
Qorlmakt, a boy who sticks to Armakt, perhaps as the only boys in the Wildlings they feel the need to stay close to one another. He is from the Etharlinning bloodline, but he less of a City Jay than his best friend Armakt.
We started the players off without knowing they would be children. They were asked to bring a name to the next game and that was all. From there, we walked them through childhood character creation and the game began!
Our players have been using HQ:G for another campaign, but this was a good refresher for everyone. We played through the childhood games up to the Battle for Bloody Peak. All the players rolled very well, and one opponent fumbled and was torn from his pony by a bunch of kids acting like frogs. I determined this fellow (Uroxric) to be Drella’s cousin and used that to raise her Odvarning bloodline rating. I also added a relationship to my sheet here as Drella fell madly in love with Verineth, another Darlings.
This is where the frogs came in. Drella had become obsessed with them earlier as a more fun alternative to Ula’s beloved Stick Rock Game. She was not allowed to throw frogs at the stick. So, when the Wildlings tromped all over the Darlings and Derinna shouted for ransom, Drella demanded frogs. A LOT of frogs.
And that is how the froggy bits of the game came to be. You’re welcome!
During one delivery of frogs, the PCs met Harreth who offered to take the brightly colored frogs delivered and make headbands from the skins. It was after this they were pressed into service to find Banthis. Our Wildlings saved Banthis with the delivery of three large frogs. Drella and Ivarna stayed out most of the night to catch two, and in the morning the rest of the Wildlings caught the other. No adults knew of the escapade.
First, everyone picked a background. Armakt went Warrior, Drella Gatherer, Ivarna Horse Friend (both her parents are followers of Redalda), and Qorlmakt Hunter. Everyone rolled on the Interlude table and the results were interesting.
Armakt lost both his parents and gained extra attention from a mentor. The story worked out well together, and it was determined his mother had been out hunting and was killed by a jack o’bear and his father had gone to avenge her and not returned. This loss had Edora Fire-Eyes, the queen’s sister and a devotee of Elmal, take him in and give him extra training. He added a hatred of jack o’bears and a mentor on his sheet from this interlude.
Drella rolled for a rival, that’ll leave a scar, and the king’s eye. I decided she had been out running in the morning. She is obsessed with the hero Perniski Fleetfoot, the reason he is in the book, and re-enacted his run most every morning around Dundealosford, dying at someone’s feet to end it every time. While doing this one time, she saw a stickpicker’s house on fire. Racing in to help rescue their children with no thought led to serious consequences. Toward the end she succumbed to the flames and smoke and had burn scars down the right side of her body from the neck down. This act brought her to the king’s attention. This also added the stickpicker family to her sheet as a relationship ability. The friendly rivalry is a continuation of her relationship with her cousin Uroxric.
Ivarna rolled for a love interest, a found treasure (not on the final draft interlude chart), and growing into her face. Because of her new prettiness, Orbrast, one of Charanric’s sons from the Redwithers camp, took an interest in her. She also, while out exploring, found an old bronze helmet that turned out to be magic with the ability to blind everyone with a flash of light once per day.
Qorlmakt first rolled an expected growth spurt. (Which made things interesting later when picking out a pony.) He also did a favor for Losoric Ghostmantle the shaman and received for it a Cold Torch charm. He chose to keep this a secret from the other Wildlings, which led to mistrust later. Finally, he had some awful luck and owes someone a favor. Derinna, in fact. She has yet to call in the favor. This, he also kept from everyone.
Most fun was the epithet roll. Armakt got Peacemaker, Drella was now Drella Wordweaver, Ivarna became Ivarna Bonecrusher (no one expects the pretty girls!), and Qorlmakt got Sweetsong.
This was all done through email to save us time and we jumped into the next session ready to go after sharing our rolls with each other.
The rescue of Adelric was done according to the book, with a few exceptions. Shawn said it surprised him how taken the group was with Adelric. We sent the Praxian packing with just his pants and divided up the rest of his goods. We didn’t want to kill him, and no one really thought of a captive. Adelric was a lot of fun and would later become an honorary Wildling. At the Redwithers camp there was a captured rhino a couple Wildlings tried to ride, and they then went with Obrast (already being crushed on by Ivarna thanks to her Interlude roll) to see the Wildman living in the thicket. The story seed from the end of the section came from that encounter.
Back at Dundealosford, Drella traded the White Bull armor they’d taken from the Bison rider (changed to llama for the book) for a favor from the shaman Ghostmantle. The shirt, finely embroidered and washed and soaked, was given to her one true love Verineth. Ivarna kept a pretty bag, Armakt had given the sword to Charanric, and Qorlmakt kept a flint skinning knife.
The next adventure had the Wildlings get their ponies.
Since Armakt rolled Horse Chosen on his second interlude roll, he did not pick a pony, but was picked by one. Named Guardian, the Wildlings like to remark he is one of the best fighters in their group. Not all the Wildlings took the offers of assistance to help with their pony tricks. Half of the player characters did it on their own or asked parents for help. Qorlmakt received assistance from Derina and Uroxric offered to help Drella, but Verineth did as well and she chose her to help. Other than Drella’s fumble, written off as her too busy crushing and the onlooking children waiting to see what antics she might get up to, the training went well.
During the races, everything went smoothly until the long distance race when Hara fumbled and Armakt used Guardian to help keep her from being trampled. Qorlmakt also used his large frame to assist. The tricks went a little off the rails. The night before, the Wildlings had invited Adelric to become an honorary Wildling by playing a prank. He cut half of Alcinda’s hair off and hid the rest in the saddlebags of Varhingan the Parinda. Oops. Luckily, Ghostmantle was summoned to help settle the matter before the King and was able to prove Varhingan’s innocent.
Ivarna rolled another love interest in her second interlude and this became Varhingan, quickly smitten with her and she reciprocated. In the end, Armakt and his Wonder Horse won the overall champion, but the Wildlings took every race and trick.
The interlude two rolls followed the end of the race adventures. There was also a 9 point raise for everyone to show what they had been up to the last few years of near adulthood. Our Wildlings again had an interesting time.
Armakt rolled for his horse (as mentioned) and Find Treasure and Owe a Favor. These last two were rolled into one adventure where he was out with Verineth and they found a particularly eye-catching gold armband. She told Armakt to keep it, but he would owe her a favor.
Ivarna rolled the aforementioned love interest, leaving Orbrast behind to focus on Varhingan. She also rolled for Hero Worshipper, a young Blue Jay impressed with her abilities at the New Rider’s Festival which gave her a new relationship ability. This led to her learning a new trick (Look What I Can Do!) as she was having to wrestle more with those annoyed by her hero wrestler’s talking her up.
Drella had some awful luck. I rolled a dead parent, and the dice determined it to be her Dad, her hero. It left her disjointed so her mother, a thane, Drafted her into the fyrd one season with the promise of teaching her to use her father’s bow. When that didn’t work we got to That’ll Leave a Scar AGAIN. This time she was nearly killed trying to ride that rhino again at the Redwithers’ camp.
Qorlmakt found himself pressed into service (Drafted) by the fyrd and there met a Friendly Rival in a fighter the same size as him. He also rolled for a new sibling so was adding two new relationship abilities to his sheet.
And this is where I will wrap up this playtest log. Our players enjoyed it so much in the early days we had to add another childhood adventure. In our group we average 2 rp sessions to 1 combat-type session. Our players have a lot to say! If there are things you would like to know about the playtest I have not mentioned, please ask me in the comments and I will respond.
This weekend I will write up the latter part of our playtest. We just wrapped up the book part this week and will do our “wrap-up” session next week.