Sunday, November 19, 2017

SWN Firefly Episode 1, Part 2

Allen Al-Khan, with some brief attempts at humor that fall stunningly flat, explains the ‘opportunity’ that she has for the crew:

In the outer system a facility exists that tended to the needs of wealthy and elite families that required discrete care for family members. This facility was also allegedly equipped with the latest in Alliance tech.

For reasons unknown, there is an open contract on demolishing the facility in question which she has accepted, and the crew’s cut would come to 150,000 credits.

Problem: The location of said facility is unknown.

Solution: A former medical professional who worked at the facility, named Sai-Jin knows its whereabouts and is on Algol.

Problem: She is attempting to sell herself into slavery.

Double Problem: Two closed contracts exist for her termination. One of the parties that is trying to fulfill the contract is a low-quality outfit, the other is an unknown, but highly effective individual operator.


Time is of the essence, as their source of information is getting closer to slavery, and her assassins are getting closer to her.

Wash and Jayne agree to the terms, and spend the next hour eating a relaxing lunch.

Once they are done, they drive to a parking garage near an entrance to the Undercity and descend , their noses assailed by a combination of fresh death and stale excrement, although it might be the other way around…

While the topside is a stark contrast of the haves and havenots, the undercity is the parasite that feeds on them both, providing ample opportunity for personal advancement and destruction.

Perhaps it was the high-carb lunch and drinks that prevented the duo from picking up the tail that followed them here from the Eye of Iblis. After a few minutes in the Undercity, the three thugs following them made their presence known, their leader brandishing a pistol and demanding to know the location of Sai-Jin.

12 seconds later, two of the thugs had been cut apart by Jayne’s combat rifle, while the third had become quite amenable to Wash’s attempt to talk him down.

They learn that this ‘team’ was one of the two  operating on the closed kill contract, but they had no information other than guidance from their employer to follow Allen’s lackies… Wash and Jayne.

After some additional exploration, they find the name of a local slave trader: Salvador Tally.

Eventually they come to an otherwise non-descript building that everyone quite conspicuously avoids. A large sign names the place ‘Tally’s Hoes’, a slightly less large sign notes the establishment is closed, and the guard wearing a duster, leaning against the door carefully eyeing Jayne basically notes that something of interest is going on in the building.






Saturday, November 18, 2017

SWN Firefly. Episode 1 Part 1




Today is Freedom Day, celebrating the mostly successful efforts of the Independent Planets to win the right of self rule ten years ago.
Relations with the Alliance remain tense, and the very nature of the Independent Planets ensures internal clashes as well.

Jayne is acting captain, as Mal and Book both departed in a hurry to find where RIver had run off to. Mal paused briefly to place Jayne in command, much to everyone’s surprise.

Zoe just shook her head sadly, Mal surely had his reasons, and quite possibly they were not all that well thought out.

They were a ‘Naval’ crew, however in the Independent Planets mold which meant each ship was effectively a privateer during peacetime, and would only assemble in small cadres to fight if needed, and if the captains agreed. This cadre model worked well against the Alliance (who preferred ‘terrorist cell’ to ‘naval cadre’ who could afford to field cruisers and the like where the IPN was working with patrol boats and repurposed freighters.

The IPN did not make the mistake of directly throwing all of their ships into a pitched battle with the Alliance, instead they would cede territory, stretching out the Alliance supply lines and raid the supply vessels, only striking the cruisers when they were low on supplies.

When the Alliance bombed Shadow into oblivion as a show of force, IPN forces responded by sabotaging Londinium’s ‘Nuke Snuffer’ and detonating multiple nuclear devices in New Cardiff.
The team that infiltrated and disabled the nuke snuffer were told that this would just be a demonstration of IPN capabilities, no actual weapons would be deployed.

Obviously this was a lie.

The destruction of New Cardiff could have pushed the Alliance to wage a total war of annihilation against the IPN, but it also  taught them that it would not be a one way massacre. The corporations in the Alliance found the outcome of this exercise did not look promising on their balance sheets, so peace was sought.

Shrewder minds in the Alliance also knew that there would be some benefit in having a very… ‘libertarian’ neighboring state where the shining ideals and restrictive laws of the Alliance did not apply. This could be of benefit to those parties in the Alliance that had a desire to conduct research or explore business opportunities that would be difficult to do at home.

Jayne and Wash were on their way to the Eye of Iblis, located on Algol.

Algol is a desert planet, with one city… named Algol consisting of two parts: the Overcity and the Undercity.  Neither part has many redeeming qualities, but the Overcity was less likely to get one killed.

The Eye of Iblis is owned and operated by  Allen Al-Khan, who is one of the crew’s more magnificent patrons (The Navy expects captains to largely provide for themselves in peacetime, hence the IPN effectively works like a cross between a reserve military force and an organized crime family.)

After a brief inspection at the door, the pair are ushered in by a small, toady looking maitre-de who seats them in a booth far away from the high class guests. A large man in an ill fitting suit wheels what appears to be a large black and white television to the table, it flcikers to life and the face of Allen-Al-Khan appears.

Specifically, she appears disappointed when she sees that Mal is not present, and only Jayne and Wash answered her summons.

"This will have to do" she sighs...


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Gencon 50 Day 1, Part 1



This year I arrived in Indy a day early (Wednesday night instead of Thursday night) anticipating
the first Gencon where I could experience all 4 days of the convention for the first time.

That wouldn't happen this year.

At any rate, after getting up nice and early, throwing down the following nutritious breakfast:



I headed to my first game.





System: The Dark Eye
Duration: 2 Hours
Character: Blessed One of Rondra 





This was setup as an introduction to 'The Dark Eye', which is Germany's dominant RPG in various incarnations over the last couple of decades. The newest edition was also Kickstarted for an English language version as well and seems to be doing fairly well judging by Kickstarter results.

The system itself is moderately crunchy, with a huge amount of work front-loaded during character creation. Characters do not have classes, but are based on 'point buy' with additions/subtractions by choosing various advantages and disadvantages (ex. My character was prone to long soliloquies as her disadvantage. Coupled with the religious restrictions by being a Blessed One of Rondra made for some interesting roleplay opportunities.)

Combat checks are either single d20 roll under for combat (Active attack and Active parry) with several maneuvers available for characters to train in.

Skill checks are 3d20 where players strive to roll under the three attributes associated with the skill (ex. a skill might list Sag/Sag/Dex indicating that you need to roll under Sagacity twice and Dexterity once.) Any failure means the skill check fails, but training a skill gives you Skill Ranks, points that can be used to offset failures. (ex. rolling a 12 when you needed to roll a 10 or under you spend 2 points of Skill Rank) Every 3 points of Skill Rank left is a Quality Level which dictates the degree by which you succeed which helps dictate such things as spell duration, reduced time for crafting checks and the like.

On paper it seemed clunky, but in play it yielded interesting results. A highly skilled player would always be able to get a Higher QL, but a player with higher attributes could usually pull off a base success which seems to simulate the well trained professional versus the naturally talented amateur quite nicely.

The plot was simple:

We were at the inn as the regional beer-fest was underway (I did say this was German right?). Of course  a fight threatens to break out over some gambling gone awry as a big brute accuses a small , ratlike man of cheating.

As he advances on him, my character casts a 'Protect the Innocent' spell (cant remember the exact name), which entices the brute to steer away from his target and focus on my character.

Most of the fight that followed was the brute and myself and the brute slugging each other until he dropped (I was using an ability to hit harder at the cost of any active defense.)

Every time in every bar in every game... Ever


The Dark Eye has a 'life point' system, but given the point-buy nature of the characters there is no hitpoint bloat as you gain skills. Being a fairly combat oriented character, I had 31 LP, with a two handed sword doing 2d6+4 on a base hit which should give some sense of the potential lethality of combat. (Added to this, for every 1/4 LP you drop you gain a level of Pain, each of which raises the difficulty of your checks by 1.)

After the fight we basically had the choice of two storylines to follow:

1) Find out why nobody came back from the brewery.
2) Find the owner of the bag of severed ears that we found on a table during the fight.

We chose #2.

This led to quite a few interrogations and revealed a decent amount of social conflict support
in the system.

Through a few twists and turns, we ended up confronting a druid who had apparently been making some blood sacrifices while utilizing the services of a serial killer in the city. Our rogue interrupted a ritual he was performing, which caused a tree that he was facing to strike out and kill the druid with one hit.

The rogue threw some oil on the tree, and attempted to throw a lantern at it.

The rogue fumbled (Natural 20, followed by a confirmation)

The rogue was on fire.

Casting the spell I cast earlier, the tree tore itself out of the ground and began...lumbering
towards me as the dwarf charged in with its Axe.

We eventually set the tree on fire, but not before the rogue passed out, and the dwarf was terribly wounded.

So some qualifiers here:

1) I love fantasy RPGs

2) I hate hit-point bloat

3) Not a fan of levels

With that in mind, The Dark Eye was my 2nd favorite game of the convention. It is grittier
than D&D, but not to the level of Shadow of the Demon Lord. Thematically it seems similar
to 'the Witcher'.

The amount of Lore in the game world is fairly overwhelming, and it is 'living' in that new events
occur every year in the official timeline.


Next Up:

A missing GM and surprise Star Trek

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of



So tonight I wanted to see how combat in the new Conan RPG.

Maeve is considered to be the the PC, while Edric is a 'Nemesis' NPC (An NPC that uses the full rules that apply to PCs, in a similar fashion to Wildcards and Extras in Savage Worlds.)

(These are also the characters found in the free Quickstart that can be found here.)

Maeve saw Edric enter the clearing, he was expecting him to make his move quickly, while the bounty on Maeve's head was 'fresh'. Maeve had his bow at hand, and had a decent amount of range between him and Edric which should allow him at least a few shots before the grizzled Nemedian mercenary could close the distance.

Both Maeve and Edric start this conflict aware of each other, and at Long distance. Unfortunately for Maeve their is no 'interesting' terrain between him and Edric. Maeve has three 'Fortune' points, and the GM has 3 Doom points to start. Unless the GM pays for it, PCs go first.

Knowing that he needs to make this count, Maeve takes a deep breath and looses a volley at Edric.

In game terms, a Volley expends one unit of ammunition, addition 1d20 to the test pool and 1 damage dice. Maeve is also going to spend one of his three fortune points which gives him a d20 set to '1'.

Rolling 3d20, he gets (1,16 and 11). The objective is to roll under your applicable skill which gets one success.

 If you roll under the Focus number you get two. In this case, Maeve gets 2 successes for the one he rolled as his Focus is 4, 1 Success for the 11, and none for the 16 which is just over his skill of 15.

The fortune point he spent for the '1' d20 gives him two more for a total of 5. His warbow has a range of Long which is right where Edric is (if he was one step closer or farther there would be an additional level of difficulty) .

5 Successes versus the difficulty of 1 leaves him with 4 'Momentum' a currency that he can use or bank for additional tricks.

Edric is going to try to parry, which is only possible against ranged weapons if one has a shield. Parrying is a Reaction and all reactions cost an escalating number of Doom (either GM spending, player giving) for each successive Reaction. Edric has a shield which gives him one 'free' Parry a turn, as well as a talent that would reduce the cost by one, effectively letting him Parry twice a round with no penalty.

The GM is going to spend a point of Doom to give Edric another d20 on his Parry attempt. Rolling 3d20 Edric gets (4, 9 and 14). The 4 and the 9 give two Successes and this is subtracted from Maeve's successes, still leaving him with 2'Momentum' , spending 1 point to bypass 2 points (all) of Edric's armor, and 1 point to roll another damage dice.

Maeve inflicts 5 damage dice, plus 1 for the volley, plus 1 for the Momentum spend for a total of 7 dice that coincidentally do 7 points of damage to his right arm.

Damage comes off 'Vigor' stress boxes, with every 5 causing a Wound, or every hit after stress is depleted causing a Wound as well. Not wanting to suffer the death spiral this early, the GM has Edric sacrifice his shield to avoid the wound (Once per scene a PC or Nemesis can sacrifice a shield or armor location to void a wound. Stress damage still occurs however.)

Edric throws his shield up between himself and the flight of arrows, his shield has seen a bit of use, and it sunders under the impact of multiple arrows as he throws his other arm up in a vain attempt to protect himself.

Edric is now down to 2 Vigor from 9.

Edric charges towards Maeve across the field, locking onto him with his Steely Gaze as he closes, to 
assure Maeve that his best just wasn't good enough.

Edric is using a Threaten attack, given he is running the difficulty is at 2, meaning he needs 2 successes, so the GM burns another Doom point rolling (3, 20 and 15). This is not good enough, and a 20 means a Complication occurred, the GM rules that Edric is too focused on his Threat and paying less attention to his charge putting him off balance which means his next roll will be at a difficulty of 2.

Maeve looks at his oncoming attacker with vague amusement as he stumbles a bit rushing towards him, loosing one last volley of arrows.

Maeve is going to roll 2d20 + 1d20 for the volley and will buy another d20 with a Doom point which the GM gladly accepts. His difficulty is 3 given the warbow's range is Long as Edric is almost on top of him. He rolls (3, 11, 15 and 18) which gives him 2 Momentum.
Edric will spend that Doom point to attempt to Dodge as he can no longer Parry given what happened to his shield. The GM will also burn the last Doom point to add d20 to the roll as Edric is taking a penalty for stumbling.

No luck.

Maeve rolls 5d damage,rolling 6 points of damaging and bypassing 1 point of armor, doing 5 points of damage as another arrow hit's Edric's right arm. He now had 1 Wound and will suffer a penalty equal to the number of Wounds to all Physical tasks.

Maeve uses the 2 Momentum for a 'Swift Action' as he draws his sword and attempts to stab Edric, spending another Fortune point to add a 1 to the pool. Rolling 2d20 (1,5,6) combined with the Fortune spend this gives him 5 Momentum, spending 1 to Penetrate armor and the other 4 are spent on additional 4 damage on top of the 4 damage rolled straight to Edric's torso. Since Edric is at 0 Vigor, 5+ points of damage will inflict 2 Wounds.

Another arrow slammed home, followed by the archer ripped his sword free from the scabbard and carving a gorey opening in Edric's belly. Edric stumbles forward knowing that this is his last fight, but he plans on taking his new 'friend' to hell with him.

Edric is at +3 difficulty for everything, meaning he needs to roll 4 successes to hit. Fortunately he rolls a 3 and a 2, which are under his Focus. Maeve fails the Parry as the blade hits his unprotected head for 6 points of damage. Maeve has neither armor on that location to sacrifice or a shield, so he takes 1 Wound.

The smug disappeared from Maeve's face as Edric opened an ugly gash across his mouth and nose. Both men stared at each other through bloodied eyes as the full moon emerged, its rays glinting off of their readied steel as well as revealing the skulking forms of Pictish warriors slowly encircling them. 

Crom was either feeling humorous or he was in a black mood indeed... No telling the difference with that grey god thought Maeve. The two men came to a quiet understanding before turning to meet their new common enemy.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hommlet and Surrounds




What is currently 'known' with regards to Hommlet(t) and its surrounding area.

A few notes:


  • There is a river that runs roughly parallel and to the south of the Eastern Road. On the other side of this is a magical field of an indeterminate nature that appears to extend overhead as well. The current size and expanse of this field is unknown.
  • The Hexes are about 6 miles across.
  • ElfHolme has an awesome buffet.



Hommlet Ep.3: Can't make a Hommlet without breaking a few eggs...



Airaborne bolted from the castle as soon as he could, making his way through the forest in pursuit of Lankershem.

Just as he was about to skirt a clearing, he heard Elvish voices, moving closers he saw four elves kneeling over another elf whom they have restrained.

"Do not fear, brother!" Said one elf as he plunged a dagger into the heart of the one they were restraining.

The only sound that followed was the stabbed elf thanking his brothers, and that he could now remember.

Well not quite the only sound... Airaborne had taken an involuntary step back, creating a loud crunching sound as he stepped on a stick.

The elves turned menacingly in his direction as let fly an arrow at the elf holding the dagger before racing back into the forest to evade them.

Hommlett 

"Milady, Mayor Muchausan has requested your presence in the morning." Said the overly enthusiastic guard.

"Perhaps you and your pet goblin would care to adjourn for the evening at the inn?"

(S)Elfie was cross.

Axel was also cross, but somewhat used to the treatment humans and most of the other races gave to the greenskins.

(S)Elfie eventually did retire to the inn, briefly noting some strange ashen markings on the faces of several patrons. While she retired to a comfortable room, Axel went to the stables to sleep.

Airaborne burst through the treeline into Hommlett at dusk. He immediately noticed what appeared to be a procession of hooded figures carrying what appeared to be corpses into the Mayors house. Discretely moving to jnvestigate, he sees that they are being taken down a set of stairs, and he can hear in the distance:

" Brothers and sisters shall rise again
     We serve the Mothers
        The Mothers of Lies
           The Bringers of Truth..."

(S)Elfie awoke at the sound of the two hooded figures opening the door to her room.

" She has not Awoken, the Mother is not yet ready."

The door closes, and (S)Elfie makes her way downstairs quietly, finding both Axel and Airaborne skulking about as hooded figures make their way house to house to the sounds of screaming.

After a brief encounter with the re-reanimated Lankershem, the party learns that the Cat Lady is enroute to the Temple of the Third Day with the newly not dead Great Druid. Her goals are unknown, but the murderous undead Lankershem wishes to assure the party that her intentions align with their own before skulking off into the shadows.

On the way to the Mayor's house, a local guard greets (S)Elfie and hails her as one of the 13 Mothers. 

She rolls with it, and the party proceeds to the Mayor's house where they un-crucify a villager who had apparently rejected being #Woke and went to the basement to see what all the chanting and stabbing was all about.


Knock Kock...
Looking through the keyhole, it is noted that the Mayor appears to be communicating with the Empress whose visage can be seen hovering over a fire pit in the middle of the room.
Fortunately, the chanting has stopped, unfortunately this appears to be due to the fact that most of the participants int the chanting have transformed into undead warriors, their skin sloughing off of their bodies into congealed piles on the floor.

The reasoned response the party chose was to kick in the door and fight.

Which they did.

- Axel went down twice due to the floating sword that appeared in the hallway while the party held dealt with the horde of skeletons trying to squeeze through the door.
- (S)elfie used her magic to gravely inconvenience the enemy forces.
- Airaborne eventually broke through the skeletons to charge into the room, pulling them away from the door and allowing Axel to down the mayor with a single bow shot.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hommlet Ep.2: Finger Food


awk·ward
ˈôkwərd/
adjective
  1. 1.
    causing difficulty; hard to do or deal with.

    "It is really awkward when the undead cat that was in your party turns out to have been part of a plan, instituted by a dark power, to steal the body of the Great Druid to bring about the potential re-ending of the world."

    synonyms:difficulttricky

Introducing: 
As Burbank is removed from the throne room for questioning, (S)elfie proceeds to gaslight the guard into believing that Lankershem is in fact, a nice kitty who may have some small personality issues. 

The Empress performs the royal version of a facepalm.

While this is ongoing, the Bugbear monk, Grumm notes that the kitty was probably just hungry, as he is quite hungry as well. The Royal Chef looks horrified upon hearing this and directs Grumm to the door marked 'refuse', which she assures him is Elvish for 'buffet'.

This provokes accusations of racism, which summons forth the Royal Sensitivity Training Officer who quickly removes the chef for re-education/vicious whippings.

Grumm descends upon the real Elvish buffet as the kitchen staff cry in anticipation of the carnage soon to be unleashed upon their careful presentation and layout.

The Empress sighs and assures the party that her kingdom believes in the equality of all of the 'Lesser Races' , nodding towards the non-elves in the room.

With that teaching moment behind them, the Empress 'requests' that the remaining members of the party depart to stop this undead cat monster from delivering the remains of the Great Druid to whomever plans on using it in some presumably profane ritual to kill them all.

(Sidenote: Cat Lady with necromantic tendancies + undead kitty that transforms into an undead feline killing machine = probable antagonist.)

Axel and (S)elfie both agree, as does Grumm who emerges from the banquet hall clutching fist-fulls of 'chicken wings', that seem suspiciously 'gnome finger' shaped. The party departs the presence of the Empress, enduring only a mild amount of 'oh no she didn't' on the way out.

Moving westward, down the Great Eastern Road, headed back to Hommlet the party spies their abandoned cart, the bodies of the 'cultists' (i.e. Imperial Druidic Order) as well as what remains of their horse, which has either been brutally slain, or had a random wilderness encounter with a Chaotic Evil Chiropractor.

Grumm moves in to investigate the remains, noting that it appears to have been clawed at by quite a few humanoid creatures lacking actual claws, and bearing many wounds similar to what would expect from say the now rising, quite obviously undead bodies on the road around him.

Axel was looting...investigating the cart, so gets a bit of cover as the undead loose their bows at him, (S)elfie is not quite as lucky, but Grumm just grabs an arrow and throws it back into on of the archers with a sickening thud.

Axel leads one of the undead on a bit of run back to the rest of the group, while (S)elfie moves between two of them and unleashes a thunderous barrage, knocking them both back while Grum continues to channel the less creepy aspects of David Carradine.

As the final adversary slides off of the end of (S)elfie's rapier, it says in a loud, yet hollow and distant voice "They are here!"

Time to leave.

The Princess hops into the cart to rest while Grumm pulls the cart towards Hommlet (paying an Inspiration to disregard his fatigue doing so)

Hours later, smoke from a once again burning Hommlet is on the horizon. Peering down, they can see what appears to be a seven foot tall, bipedal version of Lankershim tearing through the villagers. (S)elfie doubts that it is sweet Lankershim, but as it turn in their direction with its jaws agape they notice the absence of its tongue and its sweet, but creepy undead cat features before it tears the throat out of another innocent.

Axel levels his bow, and plants a shaft in Lankershim's back. Howling with rage it charges towards the party, but not before Axel lands another shaft on target and (S)elfie viciously mocks it with her bardic magic (and bagpipes) causing it to stumble over itself in rage... The Bane spell also didn't help it.

By the time it closed with a calmly waiting Grumm, it could not land a blow while it continued to receive abuse , arrows and kung-fu from the party.

It did land a solid, but non undead-lycanthropic inducing bite on Grumm before succumbing to the inevitable.

Racing into town, the party finds the Hommlet Militia bravely standing watch over the 'good part' of Hommlet while the bad part continues to burn.

All is not lost, however as the Militia inform the Princess that both the Cat Lady and the Great Druid were seen heading west. True, he had a strange faraway look in his eyes, and kept repeating in a distant, echoey voice: "Help me, Help me" but the militia were just happy to see that he was both alive and leaving their jurisdiction.

Where were they headed? What dark plan had the Cat Lady set in motion? Is it true that Gnomes go great with buffalo sauce? Where the **** is Airaborne?