The Stakes of Soft Horizon

For a few reasons playtesting stalled on Soft Horizon. Not because we broke the game, but due to real life issues. Stepping away from Soft Horizon might prove very valuable for me when I next GM half of a session.

Don’t worry fans of my travels, those aren’t forgotten. The reason I never labelled this *just* a travel blog is because its more diverse, I’d call it a blog about my life. That permits me the latitude to write about the things that interest me; travel, gaming, photography, etc… For now, the focus seems to be RPGing, probably because I haven’t had a proper outlet for it in years.

The last session of Soft Horizon unfolded like in a tale of two halves. Alas, these halves proved unequal in quality.
The half I ran, sucked. It sucked hard. It sucked harder than a petulant Charybdis. (Or a politician attempting to be honest).
And it was my fault. Brad, kindly, accepted part of the blame for missing an opportunity to make it more memorable but the reality of the failure falls at my feet.

And honestly, that’s fine.
Playtesting is meant to improve the game, and one of the by-products seems to be Brad’s determination to improve my GM’ing skills. (He as a big job).

The biggest mistake I make, something I have to remind myself of every time I prepare for a session is to *Think Big*.

In the upcoming session Brad’s character wants to summon a god and enter into negotiations. The character travelled to the plane best suited for that and met a high priest who should be capable of summoning said deity.

That’s where we left it.

I’m glad we did. It took me a while to determine the appropriate challenge for Cap’n Finn. I realized as I mulled over options what my major stumbling block continually proves to be in Soft Horizon. The challenges need to be an on epic scale and too much of my childhood reading involved the classic hero’s journey. The main character’s coming-of-age story into adulthood, of chasing around to fetching various magical and mystical items before entering the end game with the lessons learned along the way helping the group overcoming the seemingly unstoppable evil.
Anyone who has read (or see) Lord of the Rings knows this tale, The Princess Bride does a much more humourous version of it, even the Wizard of Oz offers up essentially the same story. After accomplishing a set of tasks, improving their abilities and learning a valuable lesson about friendship/love/devotion/piety/… the hero receives a just reward.


Cap’n Finn already is a legendary (albeit diminutive) character of this set of six planes. He doesn’t need to fetch a perfectly spherical stone so the high priest can summon the god of stone, Efron, for a meeting. (This was, alas, my initial concept). Nope, that’s too easy. He’s got wings and challenge would be less finding the stone as it would be carrying it back.
Yippee! Epic scale indeed. Can the sprite lug a pebble to the mud mosque.

Luckily, Brad directed me to one of his major inspirations as a youth, Roger Zelazny‘s Nine Princes in Amber.
And… why the fuck am I just reading this book now? Holy shit, the first five chapters of this book blew my creative mind! THIS is the scale I need to think on. It’s not a scuffle with the city guards, its an aeons spanning blood feud with an undead king or a malevolent demon. Battles are not small scouting skirmishes but armies clashing on fields that will become the stories of myth. When a character loses a battle of wits with another, their reputation suffers such indignities as become the butt of jokes across the plane.
Anyone who hasn’t read Nine Princes in Amber and likes fantasy fiction, go read it, now. Go to your local used book store or pick it up online. A tersely written 170 pages of pure inspiration.

I adjusted the impending conflict accordingly.
Hopefully it works out, that will be up to my storytelling skills and how the dice fall.
But the challenge will prove appropriate for a being of Cap’n Finn’s stature.

Win or lose, I can live with that, because the whole point of these sessions is to push and test the rule and boundaries that encapsulate the Soft Horizon.


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