Friday, January 1, 2016

Star Wars: Goti Station

New year. New blog post.  This one is about Star Wars.

I recently watched the original trilogy with my wife, who had never seen a New Hope or Empire and hadn't seen Jedi since she was a child.  She loved them, and I was reminded of how much I loved them.  Hence this campaign idea.  I hope to run something like it later in the year, but right now I'm running WFRP again in Middenheim, my favorite fantasy city, and I am hoping that campaign will last long enough that this one can't start anytime soon.

Goti Station was once a mining colony on the outer edge of Hutt Space.  It is essentially a collection of asteroids connected by durasteel struts and turbolifts.  In the first years after Palpatine declared the New Order, a crime lord named Borba the Hutt* purchased the colony as well as a number of very large hyperdrives.  He affixed these to Goti Station and shot the entire thing into deep space, far from any star.

Borba now uses the station as a mobile command center for a vast, and territorially disparate, criminal empire.  Goti Station floats in the blackness between systems, making jumps to crucial junctures between planets and then moving on before imperial agents can catch the scent.  Their are sometimes complications, like asteroids tearing off in hyperspace, but nothing so great as to deter Borba's plan.

The PCs are fugitives from the Empire - force users hunted by the inquisition, bounty hunters who violated proper jurisdictional codes, princes who made enemies of a Grand Moff, etc.  They have made their way, through the use of contacts or through Borba's actively seeking them out, onto Goti Station.  In exchange for credits (or more likely Borba's company scrip) and refuge form the Empire, the PCs must perform services for the various miscreants who run the station.

These typically take the form of adventures on planets near the current location of Goti Station.  The GM (i.e. me) will create 1-5 hooks each for 2 to 3 nearby planets.  A single hook may be an isolated adventure, a connected mini-campaign comprised of multiple hooks on the same planet, or part of a web of scenarios that includes multiple planets.

Whenever the PCs kick the hornets' nest of Imperial Law Enforcement too hard, Goti Station will have to jump somewhere else and a new list of hooks will be created.  Should they decide to kick the hornets' nest, pick it up in their hands, and proverbially rub it on their genitals, then the Empire may very well find and attack Goti Station, forcing the PCs to either fight to defend their shitty home or to leave it in search of a new hiding place.  The later option would necessitate a new campaign model, but since it would develop organically out of the players' actions I think that could work.

Typical threats would include gross crime lords, trandoshan slavers, bounty hunters, imperial inquisitors, dark side prophets, and the robed weirdos of the Emperor's ruling council.  Why those guys?  Because those guys are why I like Star Wars.

*Borba is not actually a Hutt.  He is a Tarsunt that underwent extensive genetic modifications in order to be accepted by Hutt crime bosses on Nar Shadda.  His hideously bloated form must now continually float in a bacta tank or he will die.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Classes of Nightwick: The Rogue

It was big in the blogosphere a couple of weeks ago to post your version of the rogue/thief/whatever.  I couldn't find my houserules document until just now... so here's mine.

Rogues in the World of Nightwick are ne'er-do-wells who live by their wits. They are, unfortunately for the World and its people, quite common.

Rogue Advancement
Sneak Attack

Rogue Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Restrictions: Rogues can use any weapon and wear any armor; however, they cannot use their skills if wearing armor heavier than leather.

Skills: Rogues possess skills that aid them in their attempts to gain precious lucre.  These include Climb, Hear Noise, Open Doors, Pick Lock, and Search.  The chances given on the chart above are for a d6.  In the case of skills that have their own attribute based chart, such as Open Doors, the rogue uses either the skill chart or the attribute chart - whichever is higher. Rogues also use this x in 6 chance to determine the chance that they surprise an opponent when sneaking off alone.  Note that rogues carrying lit torches or lanterns still cannot surprise monsters in a dungeon.

Sneak Attack: If attacking a surprised or otherwise unaware opponent, a Rogue multiplies any damage dealt with a melee weapon by the number indicated on the chart above.

Saving Throw: Rogues gain a +2 bonus to saves against poison and death effects.

Grave Robber (Rogue Bonus Class)
Grave robbers are those members of Dark Country society that have been forced to make their living through various nefarious means.  As the title says, this typically involves looting the corpses of the dead.

Grave Robber Class Abilities
Prerequisites: Constitution 12+, Charisma 8-

Strike to Stun: If undetected, a Graverobber can attempt to stun a human or humanoid opponent that is vulnerable to such an attack using a blunt instrument.  The Grave robber must make a to hit roll against the opponent they wish to stun.  If the hit is successful, the opponent must make a saving throw or be knocked unconscious for 1d6 turns.

Mountebank (Rogue Bonus Class)
Mountebanks are the flimm-flamm men of the World of Nightwick. While typically more at home in urban areas, they may be found anywhere were gold can be acquired.

Mountebank Class Features
Prerequisites: Wisdom 8-, Charisma 15+

Spell Casting: Mountebanks may attempt to cast spells found on magic user spell scrolls; however, in order to do so successfully they must make a successful saving throw with a penalty equal to the level of the spell.   If the saving throw is failed, the opposite of the intended effect of the spell occurs, usually in a way that is reflected back on the mountebank.  A mountebank may also attempt to cast a spell directly from a spellbook; however, a second saving throw must be made or else the spell disappears permanently from the book. 

Roll 1d10 to determine you're previous career and some of your starting equipment.

Bottle of cheap whiskey, begging cup
Bunko Artist
Deck of cards, hand mirror
Cattle Rustler
50' rope, torn burlap mask
Dung Gatherer
Bag of dung, shovel
Cudgel, 1d6 missing teeth
Deck of marked cards, loaded dice
Lute, puffy shirt
Bow, 12 arrows, leather armor
Wooden hoe, a pig
Small push cart
Stick with 1d6 dead rats tied to it, “trained” potato bear
Chest with secret compartment
50' rope, black domino mask

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Battletech Scenario: Advance Guard Action

Just in time for Halloween here's... a Battletech scenario?  Whatever.

This scenario is a conversion of one of Charles Grant's Tabletop Teasers (specifically the Advance Guard Action).

An earlier game my wife and I played using a different scenario

Alexandria is a planet devastated by war.  Once one of the jewels of the Star League, its position on the border between the Lyran Commonwealth and Draconis Combine has meant it is subject to constant raiding.  In November of 3029, these raids came to a head when the Draconis Combine deployed elements of the 2nd Legion of Vega to capture some valuable lostech believed to be on the planet.  House Steiner quickly deployed elements of the 15th Arcturan Guards to intercept.

Both sides planned on engaging in ground north of the ruined city where the lostech lay.  Believing the Legion of Vega to be in control of a factory their, the commander of the Arcturan Guards deployed a recon lance to move north and seize a nearby bridge to use in assaulting the factory.  The commander of the Legion of Vega, believing the Guards hold the bridge, similarly sent a light lance to take the factory.  When the two lances arrived they found that neither position was occupied...

Use the Battleforce 2 and Open Terrain 2 maps as shown.  The attacker places 4 buildings within two hexes of Hex 1312 on Open Terrain 2.  These buildings count as being 1 level and indestructible for the purposes of this scenario.

They line up better with my physical maps.

The defender consists of a recon lance of the Arcturan Guards

Lt. Eudora Hale (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4), CN9-A Centurion
WO. Rahman Bugti (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4), ASN-21 Assassin
Mechwarrior Jake Estrada (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4), WLF-1 Wolfhound
Mechwarrior Venkatesha Taska (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4) COM-2D Commando

The defender deploys their forces along the southern edge of the map.

The attacker consists of a pursuit lance of the Legion of Vega.

Talon Sergeant Van Matias (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4), WTH-1 Whitworth
Sergeant Harumi Higashida (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4), HER-2S Hermes II
Mechwarrior Francisca Akajima (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4), SDR-5V Spider
Mechwarrior Hilda Larsen (Piloting 5, Gunnery 4), FS9-H Firestarter

The attacker deploys their forces along the northern edge of the map.

The defender's goal is to secure the bridge as planned with a secondary goal of securing the factory.  The attacker's goals are the inverse.  To secure an area, the player must have a mech within two hexes of its central square and their opponent must not have a mech in the same vicinity.  The scenario ends after 10 turns.

Both sides each hold their respective objectives at the end of 10 turns OR neither side holds its objective at the end of 10 turns.  Note: the second condition includes holding the enemies objective but not your own. 

Minor Victory
One side holds their respective objective while the other side's is contested.

Major Victory
One side holds both objectives.

At the beginning of turn 5 there is a chance that reinforcements will arrive for either or both sides.  When that turn begins, both players should roll 1d6 and consult the chart below.

2 medium mechs (no more than 100 tons total)
1 assault and one heavy mech (no more than 165 tons total)
1 assault mech
1 heavy mech
No reinforcements this turn.  Roll again next turn.
Reinforcements are pinned down and will not arrive.

If reinforcements arrive, deploy them along the player's home edge.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Superheroes: Year One

Despite my posts about the end of the world, I've actually been running FASERIP/Marvel Superheroes for a few weeks now.  I've been missing making hexmaps and figuring out what ruins go where and whatever, which is why I was thinking about those other ideas, but I'm having a lot of fun running a supers game.  This is the first time I've ever been able to get one to go for more than one session, mostly because my players seem into it.  I'm still trying to find my sea legs with it, but I think it's going well.

I originally wanted it to be kind of a sandbox-y affair but that ended up being untenable in part because of the nature of the genre and in part because my players wanted to start sooner than I could get one prepped.  What we've been doing instead is a thing that I think is a fairly common practice on G+ where I throw out somewhere around three different hooks and they pick one to pursue.  Most of the first few sessions were them trailing after Mysterio (report on that shortly), but the other threads were open if they wanted them.

This pitch is not based on what I am running.  Instead it's based on something that came up in a conversation I had with Cole.  The premise is that it is the first year that anyone in the world has been a superhero, your PCs are those first superheroes, and you are in the most crime ridden city in the US.  For this idea to work, you probably need something within the power-scale of Robert's Marvel '78 houserules.  My gut says that you should try to stick to "basically a tough human but with fancy gadgets," but seeing the players try to figure out how to turn any situation into one where their powers are useful is part of the fun of the game.*

However it's not really who the characters are that makes this idea interesting but the structure.  It is, to borrow Zak's parlance, an anti-sandbox.  The city needs to be so crime ridden that the upright heroes are fighting an uphill battle.  The cops either "don't go" into certain districts or are so corrupt that they implicitly or actively support the criminal activities of the various crime lords.  Crime lords that, at the start, are of the more mundane variety.

I hope to be able to go into this more at length in a future post, but here are the basics of how you set up your anti-sandbox:  First you divide the city into districts and give each one (or groups of them) to various crime lords.  You don't want too many that the prep becomes overwhelming but you also don't want to have all the power in the hands of a single figure.  Even Kingpin had to tangle with the Maggia.  Next you create some rackets the crime lords are running.  In the end you're going to want the rackets to be in a kind of onion-skin pattern, with hints in each leading to some deeper secret, but all you really need to design at the beginning are the outer layers for each crook.

PCs get hints about these rackets from their contacts, friends, or just from beating up some thug they know to be associated with the appropriate gang.  As they bust up the various rackets eventually one or more of the crime lords will collapse.  That's when the game enters Year Two.  The costumed antics of the PCs inspire villainous NPCs who become supervillains, replacing the structured organized crime of the crime lords with madness and pumpkin bombs.  Eventually the threats might become even greater - requiring the PCs to enter Subterranea or travel to the Savage Land or to outer space or whatever.

This structure has some quirks to it.  The main one is that it turns from an anti-sandbox where the players are making their decisions to a more typical supers game where the heroes are reacting to crimes.  This might be a bad thing or it might not be depending on what you think of typical supers games.  Layered within that is a more positive element, I think, which is that the game has a more obvious sense of advancement.  You have kinda three tiers - crime lords, supervillains, cosmic threats - and advancing through them is not something one normally sees in a supers game.

The biggest negative I can see is that it's hard to integrate pre-existing heroes into this scheme.  For one thing, I can't really think of a Year One type thing that involves a team.  I guess you can do the Bat Family, but even then Robin and Bat Girl are pretty clearly aspects of a post-Year One Batman. Some of you may not see a problem here, but I've found running a game for people playing pre-existing heroes extremely fun, in no small part because they roleplay more than I've ever seen in any other game.**  Also, superheroes are kind of silly.  I think they're silly in a wonderful way, but making something intentionally silly is a good way to tell your players "this setting doesn't matter."  Picking Moon Knight or whoever alleviates this somewhat because the character is taken seriously in the comics even if the things he's doing are inherently silly in a real world context.  

A smaller negative would be the lack of enemy variety within a tier.  You'd spend a good chunk of your early career not fighting a guy in a costume.  That's kinda lame.  However, I think the progression from tier to tier will help alleviate that somewhat.  Plus, Marvel Characters don't swing as wildly in power over time as D&D ones due, so you can always try to punch above or below your weight class.

* That is a post all on its own I plan to do semi-soon.
**Post on this coming later too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Unfocused Thoughts on the End of the World

So I saw Fury Road and we're about twelve hours away from a Fallout related announcement and I have two post-apocalyptic campaign ideas kind floating around my head and I want to flesh them out a little.  I always find these kinds of posts are good for doing that.

Instead of doing two separate posts, I decided to juxtapose the two because it's unlikely I would run both.  The first idea is one I've had in my head since college, and one I've mentioned vaguely on this blog before.  I recently found a download for wilderness mapper, which is what I used to make the map back in college, and it got me all nostalgic.  Both of these maps were made with that program.

  • Game takes place in the Tennessee River Valley and possibly the neighboring areas because I obviously mapped them out, but they're worse off because...
  • The apocalypse (Pox Eclipse) was caused by a number of factors (probably) that have lead to an extreme level of pollution.  The valley was somewhat protected from it, whereas the flatter areas of the united states are toxic wastelands.
  • In addition to the normal radiation/glow-cloud hazards normally found in such games players will have to deal with acid rain and acid snow.  The weather charts are gonna be rough.
  • The general biome is kind of like Gobi-style cold desert with the chemically reserved remains of dead trees.  Visually kinda like the Road I guess, but slightly more in the future.
  • Basic settlement types - normal people trying to get by in like a trade town,  descendents of survivalists who group together in roving bands of raiders, bunkers filled with now like albino-troglodyte descendents of rich people and government officials, and mormons.
  • Players are 3rd or 4th generation apocalypse survivors.  Some really really old guy in the village was a kid when people had iphones and roads and stuff.
  • No cars.  Everyone rides 'orses, which are like our horses but skinnier and with a weirdly squamous hide.  They also raise Big Pigs which are similarly squamous... big pigs.  Like Hogzilla big.
  • Mutated animals, humans, raiders, and the occasional robot will be the kinds of things you fight.  The mutants will have certain types or species with very similar characteristics, which might make them less mutant-y but it allows me to use the X-com Method.
  • The ruins of Knoxville might be a ruin crawl.  They also house the largest settlement int he area.  It's called Utuka (Oo-tuh-kuh).
  • There's a group of raiders with a big fort in the mountains called Warburg.
  • Dungeon types are old science installations, military compounds, survivalist caches, fall out shelters or vaults, and old monuments in the cities.
  • Tech and ammo is unrealistically preserved and mutants unrealistically evolved because those are the genre conventions and I like them.
  • One of the ruins on the above map (in the extreme south) is Talladega, which will either be a big Thunderdome for the few people left int he wastes or the only place where there are still cars.
  • To do a thing I first did on G+ it's these guys in this place fighting these things.
Ok now for my second idea.  This one is easier for me to do because it is closer to Mutant Future and thus I don't have to do any work modifying a system or something.  It is called Mutassippi.

  • Gamma World or Mutant Future levels of far in the future, coastline has changed,  technology was more advanced pre-fall, etc.
  • Party is based out of Hadesburg, the Mutant Future version of my home town of Hattiesburg.
  • Most humans are mutants but more of the Futurama variety, with like a third arm coming out of their back or no ears or something simple like that.  If you're playing a mutant it is because that mutants mutations are extreme.
  • The islands that make up what was once Mississippi and Louisiana are hotter than their modern counterparts, which accounts for all the "jungle."  A lot of said jungle is still like cypress trees and hanging moss though for aesthetic reasons.
  • Dzhakson is the ruin crawl in this one.
  • Northern Mutassippi is dominated (as much as anything in Mutassippi can be dominated) by the Brotherhood of Man.  They're mutated humans that think they are the actual pure strain of humanity and they hunt pure strain humans and subjugate other mutants.
  • Dungeons include some of the things mentioned in the Tennessee writeup but also can include more fanciful facilities like spaceports and cloning facilities.
  • There is an assumption in this setting that before the fall more people moved to Mississippi because of its abundance of water.
  • I may or may not mandate that all mutant animals be reptiles or amphibians of some nature.  I guess I also like the idea of mutant opossums.
  • This setting also gets buzzed by flying saucers and may have a saucer-men colony on it.
  • I'm going to make some single shot firearms available to starting PCs and they will clearly be of the Planet of the Apes variety
  • This guy in this place fighting this thing.

Demon Princes of Nightwick: Armadeus

Before I begin my discussion of the Great King of Hell known to mortals as Armadeus, it is important that I establish the nature of such creatures.  As creatures of the Law, Men feel the innate urge to categorize things.  As beings of chaos the demons of the Pit defy categorization.  However, it is part of Armadeus's trickery that he mimics the Law.  He is a divider, but his divisions are false.  He is a shepherd but he places wolves among the sheep.  He is a ruler but he walks unseen among his subjects.  His madness is subtle, but be wary of thinking one can understand him, for false understanding is his purview.  To know him is to be ruled by him.

It is said that Armadeus commands sixty-six legions of Demons commanded by the Twenty-two Dukes.  He sends these on great campaigns of lies and deceit in the World.  Their weapons are promises unfulfilled  and sorrow and ruin.  It is said that he was the first to silence of the Holy Thrum of God within men and spread the languages among them so they could no longer understand the true meaning of the law.  In the Realm of Man it is said he first divided the nations, but the clergy of Karse and the Iron Kingdoms resent this idea for obvious reasons.

It seems that the Emperor of Lies has difficulty manifesting in the World, which might explain his reliance on his lieutenants.  When he is summoned he appears as a shadowy figure in a great cloak wearing a great helm or crown of bronze.  His eyes appear as spots of light in a color that does not normally exist in the spectrum of colors created by light in the World.  Its closest Worldly equivalent is mauve.

His pacts are sealed with the taking of the supplicants eye.  Is crown and helmet are "studded" with these eyes and it is said that he can use them to see anything his supplicants can see.  Texts are divided on whether or not he replaces the eye, covers it with a patch of skin, or leaves only a festering hole that refuses to heal.

Unlike the Horned One who makes his cults among women and the downtrodden, the Master of Hate seeks out individuals of noble bearing and ambition.  He is particularly fond of seducing members of the Church, for he knows they all too often wish to wield the temporal sword more than the spiritual.  Princes too know his whispered promises and he offers them cups full of bile which turn them with spite against their own race.  This is not to say that he ignores paupers, for he knows that they can be turned to his purposes with the same lies and promises of power.  Armadeus knows that in Men's hearts are filled with envy for their fellow man.  He knows because he put it there.

When his supplicants organize themselves into cults they are known to wear hooded robes bearing the symbol of an shining eye.  Often this means that the eye is wreathed in flame, but more commonly it is depicted as being inside a pyramid of light, a hollow mockery of the tetraphim.

Armadeus's promises of power sometimes find their way into the ears of those who study the magical arts.  He is the Lord of Bone and Commander of the Damned, and those who follow him gain power over the corpses of the dead.  Or so they believe.  In truth no man can control the Restless Dead for long and those who are tricked into believing they can usually find themselves among their number.  Though necromancers may have a tenuous hold over the undead, Armadeus and his Dukes control them utterly.  Even among vampires, liches, and other seemingly intelligent forms of undead agency is an illusion.  They are the unliving avatars of his will. It may appear to Men that these creatures often scheme against each other, and this is true.  Armadeus may be a manipulator, but remember he is mad.  He is not the Law and his attempts at empire are undone by his own machinations in the same manner as those of his supplicants.

Monday, April 6, 2015


This list should not be taken as comprehensive but represents the must numerous or prominent non-human foes of the Daggermen.

The bird-things are a recent threat to the Daggermen and the rest of the People.  They sometimes hover about the body of Wodanaz, carting his flesh off in great ribbons.  It is said that they were once normal crows but by eating the god they have been twisted into things.  They walker in the manner of the People and commonly wield weapons plundered from old tombs.  Some of the larger and more bloated examples have been known to cast magic.  Their long, black beaks often twist and warp such that each "kaw" is preceded by a great shuddering and snapping.

The ancestors of the People do not always rest quietly in their mounds.  When their descendents have dishonored them or their graves are desecrated they may come to haunt the living as draugos, devouring food stores, killing men and making them slaves.  These are not the mindless undead commanded by the priests of the White God.  These creatures are clever and can change their shape to wolves or bats or trees or weeds but never men.  Their true forms are always hungry but cannot truly eat and thus the meat they ingest merely causes their body to bloat hideously while their faces remain emaciated and locked in a rictus grin.

When a village has truly sinned against its ancestors they send the Blood Rain which soaks the earth of their barrows and causes all who die to raise as draugos.  Such villages rarely survive for they may only be slain by weapons or warriors of great Power.

The stunted beings who hide in caves are said to have once been the smiths of the gods.  Now they raid.  They come when the men are bent in hall-rest and burn steads and still cattle.  They trade too.  Their speech is slow and ponderous, but their metal goods are magnificent in quality.

Some of the People raid them too, particularly the Redmen.  It is said that the Redmen eat the dweargos.  There are no gods to punish them and even the oldest and wisest crones do not know if they would be punished if there were.

Once even the gods feared the thurisos, but those they feared died in Ragnarok.  The ones that are left are stunted and lame, at least by their standards.  They were too cowardly to die with their brethren but unfortunately they are not too cowardly to raid the People.  Down from the hills and out from the forests they come, breaking into halls and grabbing up men and cattle to swallow.

The most fearsome thurisaz known to the Daggermen is called Belcher.  His great body is emaciated and his skull shows through his black face.  Perhaps he was one of the Muspell, for his head is ringed in smoke which he belches forth from his great, nearly toothless mouth.  He alone among the thurisos encountered by the Daggermen still knows the use of weapons.

Truzlo are mockeries of the people.  Born in the last days when the Sun and Moon still shone, their mothers were witches and crones from the people and their fathers were evil spirits of the forest and the swamps.  The Daggermen claim it was the Spear People whose witches were their mothers, but the Spear People claim it was the Red Men.  Who knows what the Red Men think.

Truzlo vary in size.  Some can be large as three men but most are small.  They skulk in what is left of the forests or in the hills and come down in great swarms to drive out the People.  Some of their chiefs, if such creatures can be said to have chiefs, know the magics of the People.

Like the thurisos, the Wurmiz that are left in Middle Earth's acres are but a shadow of their former selves.  They are cowards too but they are covetous, and men and dweargos still work in gold.  Moved with spite against the People or with the lust for gold they fly down, breaking river-ice, smashing stones, and burning men.  Their hoards still hold great treasures from when the Sun and Moon still shone.