Running A Flint & Feather Narrative Campaign – Part Five

March 4, 2019 by crew

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We're back with Crucible Crush discussing some of the magical and mystical elements of Flint & Feather you can bring to the tabletop.

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Mist Raven chanted the song of their nation. This kept the Shaman connected to his identity and all of creation. Singing songs and drumming opened the lines of communication to the spirit world in traditional Iroquoian culture. Mist Raven was praying thru his song to help get advice, direction, and give thanks.

Read Part One Here

Read Part Two Here

Read Part Three Here

Read Part Four Here

Mist Raven also used the drum to bridge the connection to the spirit world and to grow strong. The drum is a sacred item. Mist Raven had honoured his drum by having a special feast for it only the day before, now he used his drum to call the Stone Coat.

Stone Coat is the name of a mythological rock giant of the Iroquois-speaking tribes. In some tribal traditions there is only one Stone Coat, while in others, there is a whole race of them. Stone Coats are described as being about twice as tall as humans, with their bodies covered in rock-hard scales that repel all normal weapons. They are associated with winter and ice, and they hunt and eat humans.

Mist Raven was using drum beating and chanting to aid the process of calling the Stone Coat Giant. The Giant will then be asked to depart and hunt the enemy of Mist Raven and his tribe. Mist Raven the Shaman entered into a trance and traversed the underworld or went a great distance in this world to seek the Giant and bring him back to where the enemy now camped. His ritual was answered as the bellow of the Stone Giant could be heard off to the North and growing closer.

The use of Shamans in Flint and Feather brings an element of Iroquoian legend and mythology to our Flint and Feather tabletop games. Not only can they summon Oki’s which are the spirits of things in nature they can also perform magic that will help your warriors in the game. These can be simple aids like a +1 CV modifier to your Shooting rolls or extra movement to a group of warriors.

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One of the many Shaman Figures available in our War Band Box Sets HERE

To add this fantastical element to the game we had to come up with a system that the players could use on the tabletop that brought in the aspects of legend and mythology but also represented those components of the First Nations culture. One of the main ways that the First Nations peoples connect with the spirit world is thru drums and dancing. Therefore we made the use of spells in the game based on the dancing and singing rituals of the people. We wanted the feel to be different than a “fantasy” game where a wizard just conjures a fireball. The singing and dancing and the concept of walking the underground, or being in a “trance”, were the concepts behind our design of this “magic” system.

We may have taken some liberty here with the actual factual representation of life in the legendary times of the First Nations peoples. Please don’t judge us based on authenticity but rather allow us to add this fantasy element to an exciting tabletop game. I would also mention that the addition of the mythical or the use of “magic” in the game is completely optional but we feel it brings out the flavour and elements of the period within the tabletop experience. However it may not be extremely historically accurate, nor may it belong in your version of our game.

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A Shaman in Wolf Form, one of the spells in Flint and Feather. We used a Reaper miniature also available through our website.

Due to the ritualistic nature of these elements, we felt the Shaman could get lost in the spirit world summoning the power or Oki that he desired to affect the game. Sometimes this path leads him astray as he wanders in the “spirit world”. This is represented by the random element of rolling dice as the spell is created. Also, it becomes more powerful as more time is spent in the “spirit world” trance. So how does this actually work in game terms?

The Shaman is provided with an Orenda Sheet. He rolls a single D6 each time that he performs the “Create a Spell” Action in the game and places the dice in the appropriate box on the Orenda Sheet. The Shaman must be activated and the “Create a Spell” Action is one of the advanced Actions in the game. In this way, the Shaman will build “power” by adding more and more dice to the Orenda Sheet each turn that he takes the “Create a Spell” Action.

The Shaman also has the option to reroll dice if he desires, and he can place the dice on the Orenda Sheet into the spells as he desires. When the player finally decides he wishes to cast the spell that the Shaman has created he must make an Orenda Roll trying to achieve the Orenda Value of the Shaman or less on a single D6 to perform the spell. If the roll is not successful the Shaman is locked into the spirit world, in a trance and continues in his pursuit until the next time he uses the “Create a Spell” Action. He does not lose the spell he is just having trouble harnessing the spirits. Another important point is you can cast a spell immediately upon completion of placing the proper dice in the desired spell.

This just gets the spells into the game sooner. In this manner, it can take up to three Actions, or in one turn, you can have a spell ready to cast. Some spells take longer because they are more powerful and thus require more dice.

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A Stone Coat Giant from the Spirit Creatures box set.

Some spells can be difficult to control as the Oki or “spirits” are not necessarily “happy” to help when summoned. These spells can require another die roll to control, or in some instances, Shamans can be required to make an opposed roll to see which player controls the Oki or creature.

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A water elemental attacks a warrior in the creek. We used cellophane for the creature.

There is a chart in the rulebook on page 82 which lists the different Oki’s that can be summoned. It is up to the Shaman to choose the Oki he would like to summon based on the CV level of the spell he is using.

Some of the Oki’s that are available are:

  • A Puff of Air, that blows an arrow aside from a firing warrior, giving him a -1CV to shooting
  • A boulder as tall as a man appears where the Shaman desires and rolls 6” in a straight line, hitting all warriors within a 2” wide path
  • Or one of the mythological creatures of the period including the Great Horned Serpent, Naked Bear or Flying Head

This table allows Shamans to call on the most appropriate Oki for the situation as it occurs in the tabletop game.

Healing In Flint & Feather

This is a great way to keep your War Band going, bringing warriors back into play who’s CV may be reduced due to wounds. It is also important if you make that “six” roll in your Activation bringing the dreaded Medicine Roll which brings out the unpredictable Medicine Card and limits your Actions in that turn. The Medicine Roll also causes a check on your wounded warriors. If you have had a Healer check those wounded figures then the results can be much more favourable for your War Band.

To this day, the Iroquois believe that they are protected in times of need. Praying to the great being can redirect fierce winds that threaten them and heal those who are ill. The various Medicine Societies can go through houses in the community, driving away sickness, disease and evil spirits. The False Face members use turtle shell rattles, shaking them and rubbing them along the floors and walls.

In game terms, we represent this on the tabletop by providing a Healer. The Healer is a Key Character, which means they have a few advantages over the Basic Characters. They get to choose their card in Close Combat rather than pick it at random and they can choose targets to shoot at rather than determine them randomly. The Shaman and the Healer both get random abilities chosen for them at the beginning of the game. This can come as an advantage or in some cases a disadvantage.

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We did not cover the Shining Wood, Flintlock Muskets in Flint and Feather but you can acquire these weapons in the campaign game.

The Campaign Game adds Key Character specific abilities for the Healer and Shaman which brings more variation to the game. However, neither the Shaman nor the Healer is self-activated in terms of the Activation Table which hinders their ability to perform their specific role in the game. They are both quite useful in the game it just takes planning and experience with the rules in order to make exceptional use of their abilities.

Requiring the players to make decisions about the best way to utilize their figures was a key design element when we created this game. Also, the inability of a Great Warrior to be everywhere and control every aspect of the tabletop battle was also a key design element. We believe the elegant manner which the rules allow players to work thru these situations makes the game more fun and challenging.

Again many of the abilities of the Healer would more likely be performed at the Longhouse rather than at the battlefield, but we have extended their abilities in order to have them affect the tabletop game which we are playing.

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Warriors advancing. The bow armed warriors lead the way.

Healers must move to an injured comrade and spend an Action with the figure in order to make a Healing Roll. Once again the figure must roll equal to or less than the Healing Value (HV) of the Healer in order to improve the injured warrior by one CV of wound level. In subsequent Activations, the Healer may affect more healing on the figure if it is needed, in the case of a Deep or Mortal Wound. It should be noted that regular warriors may attempt to heal their injured counterparts as well. However, they roll on a chart rather than against their HV and they can only repair one CV wound level to an injured figure.

In the Campaign Game. the Healer figure becomes even more important because wounds can affect the long term success of Key Characters and Special Characters. Having a Healer lessen a wound to one of these figures before they get off the battlefield will improve your War Band Survival and lesson the degrading of your War Band over the duration of the campaign. Choosing one of your Striplings to become a Healer thru Experience and Promotion can greatly affect the long term results of your game.

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A great shot of some canoes going down the river in a tabletop game. There are canoe rules covered in the game. We used cellophane for the waterfalls in the background and it came out great in the picture.

This concludes our article about the spiritual aspects of Flint and Feather and also concludes our overview of most of the key elements of the game. We will finish our series in the final installment of articles by looking at Spirit Creatures and then looking forward to what is coming next in the Flint and Feather universe (spoiler alert!).

What do you think about the fantastical elements of Flint & Feather and will you be using them in your games?

By Lee VanSchaik

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"Due to the ritualistic nature of these elements, we felt the Shaman could get lost in the spirit world..."

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