Friday, December 11, 2020

Grizzlethorpe and the Running of the Bears (Ryuutama)

I’ve been playing Ryuutama with Leighton, Anne, and Peter for several months now. Ryuutama is a charming, pastoral RPG about nice people travelling from town to town, meeting new people, helping with their problems, buying and selling trade goods, and seeing the sights. With the real world on fire and everything, we all decided that playing something nice and pleasant was what we really wanted. Ryuutama has fit the bill nicely. It also lets me indulge in one of my favorite GM activities—creating quirky little villages and filling them with eccentric NPCs.

That brings us to the village of Grizzlethorpe and their annual festival, the Running of the Bears.  You know how in Pamplona, Spain they run bulls through the streets while the citizens run in front of them to prove their courage? It’s just like that in Grizzlethorpe, but with bears.

Isn’t that dangerous? Yes, it is! Don’t people get brutally injured, scarred, and maimed? Yes, they do! But the people of Grizzlethorpe are proud of their tradition and are happy to include willing visitors in the festivities.

And the bears? Why they love it of course. These humans willingly bring them into their town and let them run amok and beat people up. The bears have a good thing going, so they don’t ruin it by killing (many) villagers. Just some good-natured maiming.

The players, perhaps wisely, declined joining in the Running of the Bears. They just watched from the sidelines. That’s too bad, because I wrote up rules for the Running of theBears!

The Running of the Bears takes place in four legs:

Leg 1: The participants try to outrace the bears. Roll Dex+Dex (Diff: 8) to put some distance between you and the bears or suffer 1d10 damage from bear mauling!

Leg 2: The bears coordinate their chase and try to pen you in! Roll Int+Dex (Diff: 8) to avoid getting flanked by bears. Take 1d10 damage if you fail, as the bears gnaw on you some more.

Leg 3: The villagers have taken down the bridge that crosses the creek that runs through town. What a fun joke! Roll Dex+Str (Diff: 10) to leap over the creek. If you fail take 1d10 damage as a bear violently smacks you across to the other side.

Leg 4: You’re almost to the safety of the finish-tower where the villagers will pull you up to safety. Roll Dex+Dex (diff: 9) to get there before the bears catch you! Take 1d10 damage and suffer the Crippled: 6 condition if you fail.


Grizzlethorpe, using a village map I found online somewhere (sorry!)

My GM Notes for the village of Grizzlethorpe:

Terrain: Deep Forest (Diff: 10)

Specialty Goods: Wooden housewares

Town Food: Crusted honey cakes

Pleasant woodland village of 500.

Full of fantasy-expy faux-Slavs and faux-Germans.

Large, multi-generational homes. Black Forest style. Long hipped roofs with eaves that almost touch the ground.

Lots of woodwork carved with images of bears and swans. Red and green paints in abundance.

Robust, friendly people of Gladian stock. Many with horrible scars. Outgoing and amicable.

Town council consists of the the oldest resident, the elected sheriff, the head woodsman, and the winner of the Running of the Bears.


Places of Interest

Magda’s Beerhaus

  • Single daughter Beverly

Shrine to Rowenna, the Girl Hero

  • Flanked by dragon statures

Martin Jimjam’s Tannery and Leatherworking

  • Missing legs.

Runcible Hawk’s Sundry and General Goods

Griff Harbo’s Goatlery


People of Interest

Intense young activist Hesperline Preet does not approve of all this bear wrangling

  • Sign reads: “I Stand Firmly Opposed to the Exploitation of Bears!”

Ancillary Scrumm – Griff’ Harbo’s brother-in-law. Chief bear wrangler.    Big scar diagonally bisecting his head. Looks like his face is misaligned.

Olly Yumpster – Band leader of local barumpapapa band. Round, and red-faced. Missing several teeth.


Job Board

Take several barrels of Grizzlethorpe Stout to the Drunken Diva tavern in Larksong

  • Stanislav Garr – Local brewer. 6 barrels (size 5 each). Jennifer at the Drunken Diva in Larksong will pay 500 gp for each barrel.

Collect several pints of honey from the speckled bees in the forest for Sigfrid the Baker

  • Will pay 200gp for each pint.

Procure a Walking Broom from Dwimmerstaff for Magda’s Beerhaus.

  • Magda will pay triple the purchase price. Get a receipt.



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