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Lost In The Wood

Leonard & Ann Marie Wilson

Teprigoth: Okay, so it's not the city that never sleeps.

But every time it closes it's eyes... it wakes up screaming.

Teprigoth is a sprawling Renaissance metropolis that's grown up organically into a seemingly endless labyrinth of streets and alleys. Going one's whole life without ever catching a glimpse of the world beyond those streets is not only possible for citizens of Teprigoth, it seems to be the norm.

But something sinister is going on in the shadows of the great city. Bad things are happening to people who, if not particularly good, are at least reasonably innocent. People are dying in ways both mysterious and brutal. Even worse, the victims aren't all faceless strangers. And perhaps worst of all, in this low-magic society where anyone who can't hide being non-human gets labeled a demon, and anyone who can't hide having magical talents gets labeled a witch, whoever or whatever is killing people seems inclined to target people with such secrets to hide. Even on the off-chance that you're not one of those people yourself, you have friends and family who are, and the city council is in the business of placing bounties on the heads of demons and witches, not protecting them from "vigilante justice".

Can you stay alive long enough to put an end to the nightmare? Or if you're more inclined to run, can you stay alive long enough to even find the city gate in a town whose urban planning committee seems to have been made up of particularly sadistic minotaurs?

For the sake of those who've expressed interest, Teprigoth is my current RPG campaign, an urban Gothic horror setting which I've been running online using the MapTool virtual tabletop software. At least for now, I'm relying on text-chat instead of voice communication. The action moves more slowly that way, but the players seem pleased with the added immersion factor of text-only, and it certainly works well for my own comfort zone.

The game has been going on for about a year and a half now,  and has been very much a learning experience for me in the ways of online gaming. It began after it became clear that my local gaming group would not be getting back together after various family priorities caused my wife's most recent Pendragon campaign to grind to a halt. Daniel Rivera of d20 Pro, whom I knew from all the wonderful things he'd with my old "Ghost of Mistmoor" adventure, encouraged me to try getting my gaming fix via virtual tabletop software. With his d20 Pro installed and my shining collection of hardly-used D&D 4E books on the shelf, my first thought was that this would be an exercise in electronic miniatures adventuring.

Having long ago found that I possess a particular flair for Gothic horror, I conceived of Teprigoth as a way to combine that atmosphere with all my expectations of virtual-tabletop gaming and needs for accommodating D&D 4E characters. I got together a few friends, both near and far, and we set out to see what we could make of the medium. But before the first session, I'd already decided that D&D wasn't really what I wanted to play. And then I got to wondering if there might be virtual tabletop software that would be a better fit for what I did want to do. It wasn't long before I'd decided that none of the game systems out there were quite what I was looking for. I gave up trying to house-rule an existing system, and admitted that I would be running the campaign using my own 2d10-Teprigoth home brew. Many of the rules remain uncodified -- I finally hit on an experience system I was happy with just two or three months ago, for example -- but that seems to be working out okay for a horror game, where uncertainty is part of the fun.

The alignment of the campaign (per  my earlier "What's Your Role-Play Alignment" post) is "Empath". I've got a life. My player's have lives. We're trying to get together when we can and have some fun, and the game is never so important that it can't be adjusted for the needs of the players. I certainly want rules that are solid enough to provided some structure, but the focus is more on the choices the players make than on the dice they roll. I'm going for story and atmosphere, not tactical simulation.

Perhaps I'll talk more about Teprigoth and the lessons-learned from running it via virtual tabletop, but for now I think this will serve as suitable bird's-eye view of the campaign.






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