Saturday, March 10, 2018

An Idea for an Open Table Game: Falcon's Gate

I've been thinking of starting an open table game in the future.  My job has been getting more and more demanding of late, so the concept of an open table game – sporadic, spontaneous play sessions, whenever time allows, with potentially different groups of players each session and no serious commitment on anyone's part – has been presenting itself in my mind as an increasingly good option.

My best idea for such at game, at the moment, is this one.



The Ancients and Their Underworld Gates

In an age before men and their kin walked the earth, the world was ruled by the Ancients. Little is known of this elder folk, beyond what is gleaned from the underworld complexes in which they dwelt. The underworld realms of the Ancients open out onto the surface world in structures now known as underworld gates.

Falcon's Gate: An Underworld Entry Near the Town of Tercel.

The Curse of the Grey Coast and the Lost King

For almost a decade the Kingdom of the Grey Coast has suffered from misery and misfortune. Many believe the kingdom cursed. In a dream, a vision came to King Peregrin. The key to the land's salvation lay in the recovery of an artifact, the Iron Crown of the Ancients.

The Iron Crown, seen in King Peregrin's Dream.

Peregrin's vision revealed the crown in a chamber deep in the underworld near the city of Tercel. Three years ago the king led his most trusted retainers on an expedition to recover the crown. The party never returned.

Peregrin, the Lost King.

Tercel and Its Underworld Gate

Tercel is a small port town known as the Hope and the Sadness of the Grey Coast. It lies at the foot of a wooded ridge sloping to the sea. At the top of the ridge is an underworld entry known as Falcon's Gate. It is here that King Peregrin was last seen, and it is here that people believe the Iron Crown can still be found.

Tercel, the Hope and Sadness of the Grey Coast.

Adventurers in Tercel

Adventurers from across the kingdom come to Tercel to plumb the underworld depths beneath Falcon's Gate. Some seek only plunder, some hope to rescue the king, and others seek the crown that will heal the land.


For an open table game, this concept has some advantages:

1. There would be no group-specific long-term plot lines to complicate things and make group (in-)consistency an issue. There are just three overarching "default goals" that any group could select from when entering the underworld gate: find the king (or clues to his fate), find the crown (or clues to its whereabouts), or just go treasure-hunting. This is a feature of open table gaming that makes it appealing for "pick-up and play."

2. There could still be really short mini-hooks (e.g. the gnomes in room X offer to pay the PCs to deal with the bugbears in room Y that have been harassing them, or similar scenarios) easily resolved in a single session, or else easily ignored.

3. Everything a player would ever need to know about the world is in the text above, which weighs in at fewer than 300 words (less than one page). All the context anyone needs in order to start playing can be absorbed in under 90 seconds.

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