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Planning a game for Snowdon

First thing to do is choose a system.

As we were planning to play this whilst on the side of a mountain (Mount Snowdon) I wanted one that only needed one book and as few dice as possible. Also something simple that didn’t require a lot of looking up rules and that was easy enough to explain to anyone who had not played it before.

The cinematic unisystem by Eden Studios sprang to mind, simple, rules light and only needs 1d10 per player, but which game? Well, when I saw there was a place near Snowdon called Hell’s Mouth Bay, there was only one choice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG! If you are unfamiliar with this game, check out our review here before continuing.

 

Next, get inspiration.

Wales has a fantastic rich folklore to plunder and a quick Google-search came up with a number of possible tales. The one that caught my eye was the story of Rhita Gawr, the giant who fought king Arthur on top of Snowdon. The legend goes that Rhitta Gawr thought himself to be the one true King and so went round killing all the other kings of England and Wales. When he had defeated an opponent, he would cut off their beard in a show of dominance, and after a time he has so many beards he stitched them into a cloak that he wore as a symbol of his power. Eventually his path crossed that of a young king Arthur who was still unable to grow a full beard. The armies of the 2 kings clashed and during the battle king Arthur challenged Rhitta Gawr to single combat. The giant accepted and the two faced off on top of mount Snowdon. Arthur killed the giant who was buried under a cairn that, according to legend, has stood at the summit until the café was built in the late 20th century. (Apologies to any Arthurian scholars for the butchering I have given this story by the way.)

 

How does that become a game?

What elements can we take from our inspiration? Remember this isn’t an exam so we don’t have to be too accurate here and can change things to suit our needs. Also remember what game you will be playing when deciding the mood and theme, in this case it is Buffy the Vampire Slayer so a mix of the supernatural with a bit of comedy is order of the day.

I started by making a list of the things I wanted to bring into the game.

King Arthur

Rhita Gawr

Cutting off peoples beards

Fight on top of Snowdon

Café being built/cairn being disturbed

Cloak of beards

What if, when they were building the café and Rhita Gawr’s cairn was disturbed, someone found his cloak of beards and by wearing it was able to channel his spirit? This person then went round at night attacking hikers with long beards and cutting them off. This gives us our bad guy and a way for the players to discover the plot i.e. by finding a hiker missing their beard. So what would the spirits goal be? Getting back at King Arthur. Maybe there is some kind of King Arthur Festival going on and the spirit is able to cause trouble somehow. Perhaps thats why the PC’s are in town.

 

The characters.

The Buffy RPG comes with a wide range of pre-made characters that should do just fine, so long as someone is the Slayer and someone the Watcher, the others can be other members of the slayer’s circle of friends. This should save time skipping character creation and given that this is just a one-shot game, the players are less likely to mind having a character handed to them. It will also help those players who are unfamiliar with the show who might find it difficult coming up with a character that would fit the setting.

 

The finished product

The Beginning

The watcher (name to be chosen by the player) receives a letter from an old friend from the Watchers council, Phyllius Clayton, and expert in Arthurian legend. He has been working in Wales for the past few years and has been doing some “fascinating research” at the top of mount Snowdon and would love to discuss it with his old friend in person. There is going to be a king Arthur festival taking place in the nearby town of Hell’s Mouth Bay and Phyllius thought the watcher might like to attend and bring the slayer along.

The Watcher, Slayer and as many of her friends as necessary fly to Wales to stay in a local BnB and will meet Phyllius, who is staying in the hotel (works better than a cafe) at the top of Snowdon.

The Middle

Whilst in town, the group may experience the following events/hear the following rumours:-

* Sightings of a giant stalking the mountain.

* Actors dressed as Arthur and his knights become possessed and start attacking audience.

* Head of the Arthurian society has not been seen for a few days – turns up at home having been attacked and his beard removed.

* Local think Phyllius Clayton is a bit strange and has been doing something suspicious on the mountain

* Other bearded men in town the group meet turn up with their beards missing, disorientated and talking about a giant who attacked them.

* All susptious events started to happen after hotel was build some months ago.

* The owner of the hotel, Mr. Glanmor, is not happy about all the incidents of knights attacking tourists (once this has happened a few times) as he feels it is affecting his business.

Behind the scenes

Hopefully the rumours will make the PCs think it is their friend Phyllius who is behind the attacks but it is actually Mr. Glanmor. When the hotel was built and the cairn was bulldozed, he discovered the cloak of Rhita Gawr. When he put it on he became processed by the spirit of the giant and would stalk the side of Snowdon looking for beards to steal! Mr Glanmor kidnapped Phyllius Clayton and is holding him at his hotel and is now forcing him to help with his dastardly plan. Glanmor/Rhita Gawr wants to rid the world of King Arthurs legacy so, with phyllius’ knowledge of the arcane (he is a member of the Watchers council afterall) to turn the knights/actors against the audience, thereby bringing an end to any celebrations involving king Arthur.

The End

The PCs will eventually find their way to the top of Snowdon where they will find the hotel patrolled by knights under the thrall of Glanmor/Gawr. Phyllius is being held in a hotel room with the door barred, he has had his once lusterus beard cut off (of course) and is quite disorientated when the PCs find him. He does at least tell them where to find Glanmor (which will be where ever suits the purposes of the game best).

In the final showdown between the PCs and Glanmor, Glanmor can take no damage until certain conditions are met. The only way to figure out these condition is for the watcher, and any other academically gifted characters, have translated a medieval welsh occult text that was in Phyllius’s room. Once translated and the conditions can be fulfilled, then Glanmor can take damage and the slayer and other combat oriented characters can finish him off.

Possible conditions (pick one that fits at the time)

* Cut off his beard

* Remove/destroy his cloak

* Only killed by people without a beard

* A certain passage needs to be read from the book

Payoff

Game ends with group celebrating in the pub/BnB with Phyllius and any other friends they have made, enjoying the rest of the festival (or keen to get away!).