Monday, December 4, 2017

Some Campaign Ideas

In no order, here are some campaign ideas I am toying with:

Conan - You were once the leaders of a prosperous mercenary company. All of that fell apart in the vast desert of Shem. You escaped your last job with a few of your comrades, a potential new patron from the dark heart of Stygia in tow and a hard earned understanding of ghouls.
Your band is in the desert, low on supplies as another storm threatens.   In the distance, the crumbling ruins of a city appear to offer shelter from the coming storm.

Infinity - One of the perks of working for O-12 is that your downtime is usually quite comfortable, as your current resort accommodations will attest. When you notice that several other members of O-12 that you have worked with in the past are also on ‘vacation’ here it doesn’t take long before you realize that this is probably an assignment.
The bomb blast that tears through the hotel restaurant that evening both confirms that suspicion, and makes room service a bit more difficult.

Firefly(Coriolis or Stars Without Number) - You have 150k in your account, but also a cool million credit bounty on your head to go with the cargo of mal-tech picked up from that research station. Speaking of Mal, both he and Book are gone, chasing after River again.
Hopefully Jayne’s contact in the Georgia system pays off and you can transform this troublesome cargo into much needed liquidity.

DND/13thAge/Something else? - The world appears to have come apart… That is ok, it wasn’t going to hold together much longer anyway. You have successfully broken the world apart, the swirling fragments reforming into their original shape, releasing the old darkness from both its physical and mental confines.
You remember who you were… sort of.
The question remains as to what you will become because of this knowledge, or in spite of it.

Degenesis - The fragrant nightmare that dominates what was once France was once thought contained, but no more. The usual protections against the hordes of insects that preface the coming of the pheromancers no longer work. VIllages are swallowed up, ‘willingly’ embracing the monstrosities emerging from the fallen cities, their individuality crushed by the desire to join the horde.
This is a problem that can be solved with the direct application of science… And flamethrowers. Lots of flamethrowers.

Red Space (Stars Without Number) -

The Flume system is an exercise in contrasts:

Flume Prime (or simply Flume) was a near legendary resort world on the Fringe for the fabulously wealthy.

Flume Secundus (Referred to as Forge, Secundus or Hell depending on who you were) is a barely habitable planetoid in the midst of an extremely metal rich asteroid belt at the very edge of the star’s biosphere. Forge was both an extensive mining operation, as well as home to a massive array of civilian and naval shipyards.

The Flume system was in theory a full democracy, with all Citizens participating
in real-time in all government decisions.

Citizenship was based on whether or not you grandfather was a Citizen.

If you were a non-Citizen resident of the Flume system, you were known as a Ward. Wards were viewed as intellectual inferiors and were relegated to performing all of the duties beneath the ‘talents’ of the Citizens, which by the time of the Scream included all physical labor, security and engineering duties. This left the Citizens to focus on their higher purpose of real time meetings and endless policy debates.

When the Scream hit, the gate servicing the Flume system shutdown, as did all newer technologies from the core worlds.

The Citizens immediately set about discussing policies, and debating legal precedent.

The Wards began to starve, until a charismatic leader by the name of Vladimir instigated a rebellion (or terrorist attack). Using several mining ships, Vladimir redirected the path of two small asteroids directing them to Flume Prime where the bulk of the Citizens lived.

The Wards manning the early warning system of the orbitals turned them off, allowing the asteroids to enter the atmosphere and impact the oceans, annihilating 2/3rds of the planetary population in one strike.

While this was happening, the actual rebel military forces seized control of the remaining shipyards as well as Forge.

Vladimir, established the Democratic Meritocracy of Flume, where all men would be equals, some more than others of course.
As the First Ward, Vladimir paved the way for the current ‘Socialist Utopia’ laced with a healthy amount of nepotism, corruption and institutional segregation against any who could claim (or be accused of having) a Citizen as an ancestor.

Flume was ‘fortunate’ in that while it had a high technology base, it was sustainable, and the asteroid strike reduced Flume Prime’s population to ‘sustainable’ levels in one instant, foregoing the famine and diseases that ravaged other worlds.

Today the DMF has taken to the stars once again, sending small scout ships into the void to survey what is left of the Terran Mandate.

One scout is now three weeks overdue while scouting the remote system referred to as Manny’s world on the old Mandat star charts . You and your crew have been tasked with leading a small task force to investigate, and perhaps to prove the DMF’s worth against ‘imperialists’ in battle.

You have been assigned the DMF People’s Retribution, one of the first cruiser size warships built in the Flume systems since the collapse.

Additionally, you will have the DMF Worker’s Hand , a frigate of the line to assist you in your mission.

Success in this mission, (as well as the proper observation of DMF political protocol as taught by your shipboard Polity Ward) will ensure your place in the upper echelons of this ‘society of equals’.

Failure will result in your record being purged at best and your family’s ties to the Citizenry being ‘exposed’ at worst.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

SWN Firefly Episode 1, Part 3

The Sisters looked concerned.

The Alliance officer seated across the table from them stood out like a sore thumb in his ‘disguise’. If he had strolled into the bar in full military regalia it would have been less obvious who he was.

Perhaps that was the point, and he wanted the locals to know who the Sisters were involved with.

Perhaps this was a message.

Perhaps he was an idiot.

Either way he was displeased.

“You put a 500k bounty on an IPN boat? This was supposed to be discrete…” he said, staring at both of the Sisters in a manner that would normally get other players a quick trip 6 feet down.

They were patient.

“You saw the security feeds just as we did”, stated one of the Sisters, eyes unblinking as she stared back at the Alliance officer.

“Our ship had remote hacked into the facility before Allen’s lackeys arrived on the scene, those… things tore through their ship’s doctor in seconds, and one of them apparently survived an EVA with no suit and boarded their ship as they departed… with the Alliance data core.”

The Alliance officer blinked, and paused a moment before responding.

“We still have no idea what was going on on that station, but if rumour begins to circulate that the Alliance was engaged in maltech research… I will hold you both accountable. This needs to be contained.”

“Speaking of things Mal related, that was Mal Reynolds ship” the Sisters replied in unison.

“Up the bounty to 1 million. If he’s feeling greedy he will just try to unload it, but if he can find some way to make the Alliance suffer with whatever is on that core he will do that instead.”

The Sisters nodded.

He was an idiot after all.

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.