Friday, December 28, 2012
This year, I received Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, and Mongoose's Traveller: Core Rule Book.
Over the years, I think I've probably played five percent of the RPGs I've own. That's a wild guess, but it seems about right. It used to be finding players was the biggest issue. Now the issue is time. Life is funny.
Traveller was one of those games I that I was super excited about when I discovered it in 1981 - soon after my discoverer of Dungeons and Dragons. I ran a few adventures, but the players were far more interested in fantasy, and I think my ability to pull of sci-fi wasn't as great at the time. My attempts later with Star Frontiers were a much bigger hit.
That didn't stop me from continuing to buy Traveller, Traveller: 2300, MegaTraveller, and Traveller: New Era products. I'd sit around and make characters, design starships, and populate stellar subsectors. All my copies disappeared in various moves and book cullings over the years. Then I found Stars Without Number, which has been filling my sci-fi RPG void very well.
Except . . . SWN is extremely abstract about a lot of things, including world creation and starship building - two of my favorite parts of Traveller. During play, the abstract system is wonderful for creating scenarios and having a great ship battle in a short amount of time. But when I'm sitting around, thinking about potential scenario or trying to get a fix on what a shuttle actually looks like and how combat would flow inside, I reach for the detail of Traveller - which just isn't there.
Of course, I make it up as I go along and everything is okay. But sometime I just want some structure - and Traveller was all about structure. I picked up a battered copy of the MegaTraveller Referee's Guide to try to stitch ship building in - but it just wasn't flowing well. This Mongoose edition of the game, while similar, appears to be a much better match.
But part of me says that they maybe NEED that. Traveller is supposed to take away a big part of meta-gaming by focusing the players on what their character are doing NOW, as opposed to how they should shuffle points or prepare for the next level and worry about that upcoming HP roll. It gives them a character - one they didn't exactly expect - and says PLAY THIS NOW!
I'd like to see that in action one day in a longer campaign. How would it change the player's attitudes? Oh well. I don't see it happening. But I will be stealing the ship stuff and grafting it into my SWN game - assuming that I have the LEET SKILLS to do so.
Okay, I've probably talked enough about Traveller. Now, on to Doctor Who!
I was surprised as hell when I got Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. It's a box. It's a heavy box. Heavy. It's crammed packed with shit. Pretty shit.
Okay, I thought, nice try, guys. You spat out a pretty looking game designed by the BBC marketing department to increase the reach of the Doctor Who 'brand.'
Then I began to dig into the books, and was surprised there there looks to be an actual game here - a game designed by people who might know what they are doing.
In the beginning of the players book, it tells a story about Rory - one of the characters (well, WAS one,) of the TV show. The little story involves huge and strange shaped objects going missing all over the universe, and the TARDIS crew trying to track them down. The shapes were odd - tetrahedrons, octahedrons, dodecahedrons, icosahedrons, an the like. Turns out a race of giants was stealing these huge objects to play a role playing game.
Okay, yeah, it was stupid. Doctor Who is often stupid. But it's stupid for a reason, and if you just lay back and relax and go with it, the stupid turns into cool. And that was cool. Like bow-ties and fezzes. And that little story was a nod back in time to the beginning, to Dungeons & Dragons. The game doesn't even use all those dice. It just uses the d6. But they chose to mention the dice anyway. And that tells me that the designers are MY KIND OF PEOPLE.
I have a lot more to read, but the base game appears very cool. You can make whichever character you like - a rival Timelord or a street sweeper or Goldie Hawn circa 1968. The mechanics are basically a 2d6 point by system, like Traveller made love to Champions-lite or something. It's simple, with various levels of success or failure. Nothing innovative here - just comfortable.
Actually, the box, the books, the feel . . . it's all comfortable. Opening it gave me a similar feel to that of opening the old D&D box way back in 1981 - except full color and glossy. Interesting. I think they did that on purpose. AND, this thing is currently cheaper that the Traveller book on Amazon. Go figure.
Regretfully, I doubt I'll ever find enough people interested in playing it in person. Even The Boy is all MEH about Doctor Who these days. He never got over the change from #10 to #11.
So I'm really happy with my Christmas presents. Maybe I should just make some characters, pull out the Mythic Game Master Emulator, and play these in the wee hours of the night.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
The players have, understandably, been somewhat reluctant to go take a visit.
I'm not sure who came up with the idea. Perhaps it was Merwyn. Perhaps it was me. But whoever had the idea - it was awesome. Simply turn the adventure into a Stars Without Number/DCCRPG Funnel Mashup.
Welcome to the universe of zero level Stars Without Number characters. They have no class. They have d4 for hit points. They only have 4 skills and three pieces of equipment. And you can't decide on any of it!
I'll be running this next week. I don't think that all nine of our players will show up for this, but if they did, that would be 9x4=36 ponential corpses to be ripped to shreds in a horrific feeding frenzy of character death.
So, here are the character creation steps:
- Create up to 4 characters.
- Roll 3d6 straight for: STR, INT, WIS, DEX, CON and CHA. Note Ability mods as normal.
- No Class, prime attributes, attack bonus, or special class ability.
- Roll Hit points - 1d4 plus CON bonus.
- All saves are at 17.
- Roll 2d10 once to determine Occupation, Skills, and Equipment. See tables below. Skills provide a ZERO level and equipment is AS-IS, no trades. Additional ammo available from corpses of fallen comrades. Stop whining. You are here to die. Quickly.
- Write it all down on the handy dandy sheet (provided below.)
- Poof! You are done.
- If a character survives, she/he may be upgraded to 1st level and enter the regular campaign.
|Astrophysicist||Profession/Astrophysicist, Science, Tech/Astronautic, Vehicle/Space|
|Combat Engineer||Combat/Projectile, Exosuit, Security, Stealth|
|Corporate Suit||Bureaucracy, Business, Leadership, Persuade|
|Field Researcher||Science, Tech/Maltech, Tech/Postech, Tech/Pretech|
|Gunner||Athletics, Combat/Gunnery, Exosuit, Vehicle/Land|
|Infantry||Combat/Projectile, Combat/Unarmed, Exosuit, Gambling|
|Journalist||Bureaucracy, Culture/Criminal, Exosuit, Persuade|
|Mechanic||Exosuit, Gambling, Tech/Astronautic, Tech/Postech|
|Medic||Athletics, Exosuit, Perception, Tech/Medical|
|Officer||Combat/Projectile, Exosuit, Leadership, Tactics|
|Pilot||Combat/Projectile, Culture/Spacer, Vehicle/Grav, Vehicle/Space|
|Planetary Scientist||Profession/Geology, Science, Tech/Postech, Vehicle/Land|
|Priest||Culture/World, Perception, Persuade, Religion|
|Scout||Culture/Traveller, Exosuit, Navigation, Survival|
|Security Analyst||Combat/Unarmed, Perception, Security, Tech/Postech|
|Sniper||Combat/Projectile, Exosuit, Perception, Stealth|
|Space Marine||Combat/Energy, Combat/Primitive, Combat/Unarmed, Exosuit|
|Xenoarchaeologist||Artist/Plastics, Culture/Alien, History, Science|
|Xenobiologist||Bureaucracy, Profession/Xenobiology, Science, Tech/Medical|
|Astrophysicist||Dataslab, Survey Scanner, Vacc Suit|
|Combat Engineer||Instapanel, Spike Thrower, Vacc Suit|
|Corporate Suit||Dataslab, Portabox, Vacc Suit|
|Field Researcher||Toolkit/Postech, Toolkit/Pretech, Vacc Suit|
|Gunner||Heavy Machine Gun, Metatool, Vacc Suit|
|Infantry||Mag Rifle, Telescoping Pole, Vacc Suit|
|Journalist||Argus Web, Dataslab, Vacc Suit|
|Mechanic||Toolkit/Astronautic, Toolkit/Postech, Vacc Suit|
|Medic||Lazarus Patch, Medkit, Vacc Suit|
|Officer||Binoculars, Mag Pistol, Vacc Suit|
|Pilot||Metatool, Void Carbine, Vacc Suit|
|Planetary Scientist||Dataslab, Survey Scanner, Vacc Suit|
|Priest||Survival Kit, Translator Torc, Vacc Suit|
|Scout||Navcomp, Survival Kit, Vacc Suit|
|Security Analyst||Dataslab, Survey Scanner, Vacc Suit|
|Sniper||Climbing Harness, Sniper Rifle, Vacc Suit|
|Space Marine||Assault Suit, Grenade (x2), Laser Rifle|
|Xenoarchaeologist||Dataslab, Survey Scanner, Vacc Suit|
|Xenobiologist||Dataslab, Bioscanner, Vacc Suit|
This should be fun. And horrific. And sad.
Please feel free to use any of this for your own games.
Please feel free to use any of this for your own games.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Then it's obviously time for GERMAN CLUB MUSIC!
You can danke me later! (I BLAME YOU, SPOTIFY!)
Nachtleben - MURANO meets TOKA feat. Dumbstruke
Morgens immer müde - Laing
Du & Ich - Colina
Party (Ich Will Abgehn) - Die Atzen
Dynamit - Kollegah & Farid Bang
You can danke me later! (I BLAME YOU, SPOTIFY!)
Thursday, December 20, 2012
|HO HO DIE.|
The scouts are getting rusty. I swear. Come on, a robot Santa, reindeer, and elf? That has to mean trouble.
Kal Kek and Roswell were in the Zócalo, and Kal Kek was acting kind of grumpy. The elf came over to cheer him up by pulling out a pistol and shooting him. Then the Santa open his mouth wide and began spewing a green mist that turned people into glowing eyed yellow zombies.
|Robot Santas are mostly evil. Mostly.|
Much chaos and battle ensue. Eventually, the evil robots were blown up, but Roswell the (sort of) good robot was blown up in the process. Kal Kek grabbed his C3-P0-like head and ran with it like a football back to the ship.
While escaping from the zombie gas, Dr. Ramapudi followed Newt, through the station's air ducts. Newt was the eight year old psychic girl that the scouts had rescued in an earlier episode from an crazed interplannar entity that had inhabited her body for 600 years. Well, Newt, being a bit untrusting, had stockpiled rifles and grenades in the air ducts, just in case something like this happened.
Eventually, the party made it back to the ship, where they found out that the Reprieve had been undergoing maintenance and had it's engines dismantled. Having no other craft that could mount a defense versus the Skorpios attack fleet, they hopped in the Molten Rain mech suit assault shuttle and blasted off.
The Skorpios Cruiser was actually an old, run-down ship constructive with run-down, primitive parts at the Lost colony of Ukraine, so luckily, it didn't have much defense against seven human size projectiles shot at it. The scouts didn't have much defense against being shot at a cruiser, either. Kal Kek ented up penetrating a armored turret with his head.
The scouts began to dig through the ship like miners, using the mechs' urban assault abilities to turn the cruiser's bulkhead's into Swiss cheese. They plugged Roswell's C3-P0 head into a computer conduit in a maintenance tunnel to begin the cyber assault. Roswell took over a pack of maintenance bots that launched an assault on the bridge while the party split up in an attempt to take over engineering, nullify the angry grav tank muscling it's was through the maintenance shafts, and eliminate the threat of unattended cafeterias.
|Admiral Beringer looses eye in attack.|
The guns on the asteroid base mopped up the stream of evacuees and the scouts took control of the devastated, burnt out hulk. Regretfully, the resident psychic was killed in a munitions explosion. Attempts to revive him by The Boy using an untested nanotech revitalization system proved to have horrific results, turning the dead body into an ever expanding ball of gray goo that was eventually isolated by Aquila scientists.
As a reward for saving the day, Admiral Beringer cancelled the scheduled court-martial of the group for horrendous crimes to humanity that they had perpetrated on previous missions. Merry Christmas, Redshirts, Merry Christmas.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
|Dice Bomb by ~j-burgess|
The Top Seven RPGs I've Played
- D&D 4e
- Champions 4e
- AD&D 2e
- Holmes D&D (or Molday Basic - they kind of blur)
- Gama World 1e
- Shadowrun (maybe tied with Risus)
That one in first place is kind of odd, but I guess it is true. I blame my participation in the RPGA for that. ;p
GMing is much easier, since I do it a lot more:
The Top Seven RPGs I've Run
- D&D 4e
- Stars Without Number
- GURPS Space
- Twilight: 2000
- Fantasy HERO
Funny how this doesn't represent what my Top Seven Favorites are. :)
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Recently, I received a message about my post Doctor Who in Arabic from Jon at BroaDWcast, asking about the doctor Who shows I watched back when I lived in Saudi Arabia. The site is a guide to foreign airdates and worldwide transmissions of Doctor Who.
Well, turns out they have a heap of information there about when and where the good Doctor has been broadcast around the word over the last umpty-ump decades. A lot. I think part of it has to do with a search for the lost Doctor Who episodes. A while back, BBC deleted a heck of a lot of archival material - which included many old episodes. There is a hope that may someone, somewhere, stashed some tapes in a cupboard or something.
Anyway, Jon took my vague memories, tracked them back to a particular television station out of Qatar, and even had an episode list of what I most likely saw. FROM 1978 and 1979. WOW.
I do hope I gave him helpful information as well. The episodes were in black and white, dubbed over in Arabic, and subbed in English, which was weird - so who knows, maybe that will be useful? :)
Anyway, it was pretty fun exercise - and help me straighten out some fuzzy memories.
So let this be a lesson - if you have any odd things you've done or strange memories that no one else has - jot them down in a blog post. You never know when or how they might be useful.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Last year, I got the the gaming crew each a copy of the Swords and Wizardry Whitebox Rules. That went over well, with it actually being used to spread the gospel of the OSR to uninitiated gamers.
This year, I didn't have so much money - especially since the regular gaming crew is up to ten people now. So I went the less expensive route of hand crafting some presents.
I made hand painted dice and handed them out in tonight's gaming session.
These are Redshirt Dice. See the little red shirts? The Star Trek Emblem is a six. The red shirt is a one. Each player got a pair, so when they roll double red shirts, they fail their skill check hard. Yay!
Adelaide made some awesome dice bags for us too. Everyone got a very different type. I didn't get a photo of them all, but I got a picture of the most important one - mine. I have named it THE SPACE BAG.
It is sooo big, I can fit a sixteenth of my dice in it. It's perfect for the Redshirts game. :)
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
|DCCRPG Funnel in Action|
We had our second DCC game on Saturday. If you'll remember, I had an arrangement with the our DM in which I was playing a gaggle of potential initiates into a witch's coven - the survivor being granted membership into that select group.
Well, good old Florence had leveled up from Zero to One in the middle of the dungeon, and by the grace of another unlucky party member with a grimoire, learned all of her 1st level spells while stumbling around in the dark reading it. Somewhere she had found a Vampirella outfit, and the rest was history.
Come to find out, the witch's coven was just a bunch of emo goth girls who knew nothing about magic.
They were completely freaked that Florence could now light cigarettes without a lighter, kill people with a cloud of red gas, and rip herself into 7 ultra-dimensional copies at will. So, Florence decided that she would become the new coven leader, and with the help of Bob the Butcher (he co-party demonic cleric,) taught the coven nonsensical and embarrassing rituals involving running around naked in a corn field during the equinoxes and solstices and that to retain their imaginary witchcraft power that they had to remain virgins forever and ever.
Okay, yeah, that one is going to come back and haunt me - but is was hilarious.
After shaking down the mayor of the town for everything he had, the party left. Florence grabbed one of the coven members, a beggar girl named Clarissa, to be her personal lackey. I mean, retainer. Adminstrative assistant. Um . . . horse watcher.
After a dungeon crawl where I'm sure the party pissed off every underground faction possible, including any potential allies, things came to a head in a room with a glowing electrical ball on a pedestal and a vast amount of angry hooded mages.
We were having our assess handed to us as the hooded goons broke though our lines and began dealing heavy damage. I was sure the electric ball was important. I suggested to the Boy that he pick it up and throw it at the mages.
Even if it did no damage, well, it should have been good for some battlefield chaos.
The Boy had Will the Ranger pick it up. Well . . that is not exactly what happened. Will touched the electric ball and he turned to dust.
I kept on blowing Florence's spell casting rolls. That's harsh in DCC. One success would have turned the battle, but nope. It was not going to happen. Bob was knocked to 0 hp, leaving Florence, Kyrus, and a room full of hooded goons.
Florence remained motionless while the hooded cultists moved all of the bodies (and charred dust) to an altar called the 'Altar of Life,' or somesuch thing. There were dead bodies in voting booths and it got kind of confusing, but Florence slunk off of the altar before the bolts hit here dead friends and somehow moved their minds into the minds of the dead bodies in voting booths.
In the confusion, she hastily donned an ornamental hood and tried to blend in with everyone. I got a distinct Sandahl Bergman sneaking into the Serpent Temple vibe. But that's about where we left off - with everyone else rolling up new characters - new stats, new professions, new bodies - everything - but the same names and memories.
So, it was a TPK - minus one. Sort of. Maybe Florence pretended to be dead well enough to appease the Gods of Death. Maybe? Just a little? Pleeeeeaaasse?
Friday, December 7, 2012
|Petty Officer 2nd Class Owlicious|
Crazy-Ass Tim and Adelaide's record of the adventure is at From the Ashes. I recommend reading it, since it's good, and I won't be going over the particulars here. Go ahead, I'll wait.
While I'm waiting, I'll point out the picture to the left. The party was invited to a fancy dinner during the adventure. Adelaide found a dress she wanted her character to wear online, so had the ship's clothes printer spit it out. The original dress is over on Crazy-Ass Tim's page, so go over there if you haven't done so. This is just my attempt at drawing a truly stunning dress.
Actually, all of the players went found clothes on their phones or laptops. No, I don't have one of those phones. I am happy with my decision to NOT have one of those phones. But you know, it certainly adds an amazing dynamic to a tabletop game.
During the game, Adelaide even went and dug up pictures of what she thought the high tech spaceship looked like. Heck. They were perfect. And while taking a gander, I saw a name on the web page that was sooo much better than the name I had created for the main NPC, that I changed it then and there.
Now, we've used people's phones to pull up a name we couldn't remember, or a picture of something I'm describing that someone just can't quite get. but it does seem to be growing into a bigger part of our lives, even around my table, a place which normally has had, at it's height, a mechanical pencil for its technological apex.
The use of gaming technology on Wednesday culminated in a completely spontaneous full length Bollywood dance routine by Crazy-Ass Tim's character Dr. Ramapudi and a blonde administrative assistant named Yvonne that he had become smitten with - including a dance track on the laptop and holographic backup dancers in the star ship.
It reminded my a heck of a lot of the Bollywood movie Marigold. Yes, you probably don't have enough Bollywood in your life. Marigold is a fine entry point for the uninitiated to start.
I'm still reeling from the fact that in my gritty, character chewing horror show of a sci-fi game that a romantic music and dance production spring up out of thin air. But really, I guess I shouldn't expect anything less. :)
I don't have to do anything to keep them amused at all. In fact, they amuse me far more.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Now, I've done holidays inside of RPGs before. My favorite has usually been Halloween in D&D. That's no-brainer right there, especially if you use zombies.
I don't think I've ever done Christmas in Space before, though, and definitely not in Stars Without Number. I'm not exactly sure what I should do. Something horrific, of course. Cthulhu Claus. Yeah. I like the sound of that. Well, maybe that wouldn't the the best Christmas present for the players, but it would be one heck of a present for me. Ho ho ho.
I supposed, at the very least, the characters should exchange gifts. I'll let them mull that over in their minds. Great - not only do they need to really go shopping, they have to go virtually shopping as well! ;)
So has anyone else put Christmas into their games? Anything good come out of it? Anything horrible?
Here is the timeline, for what it is worth:
|2/2/3200||The Reprieve blasts out of Perimeter Station Nine.|
|2/7/3200||Arrival at Three Sisters system.|
|2/9/3200||Exploration of the Biotonics Ark 3 begins.|
|2/15/3200||Arrival at Ukraine system.|
|2/19/3200||Alpha Team captures a Ukrainian Patrol Boat.|
|2/25/3200||Escape to Three Sisters system.|
|2/28/3200||Beginning of the construction of Beachhead Base.|
|6/11/3200||Completion of Beachhead Base.|
|6/28/3200||Arrival at Banyan system.|
|7/1/3200||Alpha Team delivers gun printer to the Brambles.|
|7/2/3200||Lifter pyramid explored.|
|8/2/3200||Arrival at Tunguska system.|
|8/3/3200||Submerged Jump Portal discovered in ocean.|
|9/4/3200||Ship building activities complete.|
|10/3/3200||Arrival at Thomas Jefferson.|
|10/4/3200||Alpha Team encounters Warchou and Berserkers.|
|10/24/3200||The court-martial and execution of Lt. O'Brien.|
|11/21/3200||Arrival at Levant system.|
|11/24/3200||Alpha Team acquires the Molten Rain.|
|12/8/3200||Refueling stop at Tunguska reveals mystery ship.|
|12/9/3200||Alpha Team meets Charles Shuttleworth.|
|12/24/3200||Arrival at Beachhead Base on Christmas Eve.|
Ho ho ho!
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Hmm, I might have given away too much with that sentence. :)
Oh yes, a key . . .
Black - Explored Space (inasmuch as space can be explored in SWN)
Purple - 'Hunch' Space (big bags of guesses from old charts, here-say, and psychic divination)
Dark Blue - The righteous Aquila Union
Orange - The Ptolemy Wilds, controlled by the Alliance of Independent Systems
Red - The foul fungal Skorpios Empire
White - The El Dorado Archipelago, a sort of close cluster in the El Dorado Sector
Yellow - A horrible, horrible place filled with genocidal machines and dog-bear things with horns.
Light Blue - The New Mandate, a place quite unknown to the PCs, that sounds pretty well organized.
Okay, that's about it.
- Ark :)
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I really don't get people that don't like the idea of the funnel. That's okay. I don't have to understand a point of view for it to be perfectly valid. But the funnel was one of the things that drew me to the game. Actually, DCC was one of the first games I wanted to PLAY in a long, long time. Maybe since 1981. Now, of course, when I say 'play,' I meant, be a players, as opposed to being the DM. I'd DM anything - at least once. Heck, I'd DM a game about players taking on the persona of rebellious dust bunnies if it meant that I could chase them with a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
But playing - yeah - the funnel, the dice, and the spell rules really sold it to me. DCC takes the good parts of D&D and Rolemaster and smooshed them together. Yeah, I said Rolemaster. That was my game of choice for a couple of years there after ditching D&D. Oh, the glorious critical hit and fumble tables . . .
Crazy-Ass Tim ran the game for me, the Boy, Merwyn, and Kaye. Not content to leave things alone, I had bargained for a slightly different character setup than the standard. I decided that my characters were all potential initiates into a coven of witches, and the survivor of the first adventure would be the wannabe-witch that was allowed into the gaggle of evocatrixes. I really wanted to play a wizard class, and the opportunity to cackle madly when casting black magic was too good of an opportunity to miss.
The roster of coven abecedarians was as follows:
- Petunia the wimpy, clumsy, unlucky Urchin, who had never seen plants growing before,
- Florence the Healer, build like a brick shithouse with a Stamina of 18,
- Carly the Minstrel, who bets you think she wrote a song about you, but she didn't, and
- Sorcha the idiot Alchemist, I mean, like, doesn't know salt from pepper.
Then upon entering the dungeon, Petunia, Carly, and Sorcha fell into a pit and died, accidentally killing a few other players in the process, as detailed in Crazy-Ass Tim's blog.
Body count was HIGH in the game. The four of us players ran through well over 30 characters before the end of the dungeon. Each time we were getting low, we'd find a cage full of PCs ready to refresh our ranks, just like in Left4Dead 2.
Florence found some other Covenette buddies in a cage too, including:
- Chardonnay the Gravedigger,
- Seville the razor wielding Barber (I mean, BEAUTY TECHNICIAN), and
- Heidi the frail Teutonic Woods(wo)man.
Seville killed most of the rest of the party withe a beautiful fumble on a oil flask lob. Have you ever noticed that little 'G' on the '1' side of a GameScience d20? I saw that a lot. Anyway, her hands were burnt beyond recognition, but she survived for a good long while. Until Seville's leg was cut off with a giant scissor trap.
OH THE GLORIOUS FUCKING IRONY.
Everyone else also had wonderful deaths too, whether from horrible curses, being charred by flame spitting monsters, or being granted special 'wishes' by a lunatic madman demigod.
I mean, Kaye, really. What did you expect when you said 'okay, I have my character wish to be raised from a level zero nobody to a level one INSERT CLASS HERE. You actually said 'INSERT CLASS HERE.'
The monsters let loose from that ritual finished off all of the 'extra' characters. And then, to get out of the dungeon, there was a single SAVE OR DIE roll for each character.
Like I mentioned in the title, I really do think that the Funnel is a kind of mentally beneficial. It's Flooding, or Exposure Therapy. Players tend to have a lot of anxieties about their character's dying. Mine - I had them huddling in back at the beginning, afraid to do anythign lest they breathed wrong. and in the end, Florence was there screaming on an altar in a skimpy bathing suit while the the forces of hell swirled about her nubile flesh.
I think it also helps the DM. Each time when I run a game, any game, I am extremely anxious about the first kill. I mean, it's like a first kiss on a date. You grope around, copping a feel here and there, rolling a d20 over and over again trying to hit. With the first kiss completed - you know where you stand and can continue on confidently. The first kill in a campaign is the same - you know you can kill the PCs, and the player didn't run off crying home to mommy and threaten to never play again.
Um, did I just equate killing PCs to heavy petting?
Yeah . . . I did.
Anyway, yes, DCC is a great game. Crazy-Ass Tim pulled off a really good session, and it was one of the most memorable ever. Everyone was very happy.
And now that we have put so much work into our 1st level characters, we REALLY want them to live. :)
Monday, December 3, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
So I'm finally catching up in the Redshirts Recaps. This one is from Wednesday night's game. This was one of those games where the players surprised me on several levels. I mean, not like recent outrageous traitorous behavior, but innovative thinking.
The players were trapped on the bombed out, eternal war planet of Levant, their ship destroyed by airborne nanobot clouds. They had one mission - find a working spacecraft and get the heck off the planet. AIs deep within the planet were running the war, keeping each of their pet factions fed and armed with gigantic underground factories.
So, I gave the players the location of the nanobot shooting missiles that prevented safe atmospheric flight. I gave them the location of a storage hangar full of spacecraft. I gave them directions. I gave them mech suits and trained them in their use.
And what do you think the players did?
They started asking how the food and supplies arrived from the underground factories. They started asking where the AIs were. They began to fiddle with the pneumatic tubes that delivered the food and ammo. They put one in maintenance mode and began to decent into the depths of the planet, looking for the nearest AI. They sought out an old Terran Mandate emergency soldier freeze bank, took the official brain chips out of the mummified remains, found a old nursery and the brain chip resequencer inside, CUT INTO THEIR OWN HEADS AND IMPLANTED RESEQUENCED WIFI IDENTITY CHIPS INTO THEIR OWN BRAINS and proceeded to go talk to nearest AI, pretending to be people that would have authority over the AI.
Oh, and the AI in question, named Vicente, presented a holographic image that looked just like Ricky Martin. See - I didn't leave you hanging about the whole Ricky Martin question, now did I? :)
So were is the breakdown from our own Sweet Adelaide:
- One night Titus disappears in front of everyone’s eyes. In the morning everyone is brought to the bar where they see their old friend Professor Ramapudi and a new person named Gustav Adler.
- Gustav has a message for Lt. Mark Five which he tells him soon after meeting him which is “You broke the ship, find a new one, blah blah blah!”
- Lt. Mark Five shrugs it off with a “sounds about right” and Gustav seems to be accepted unquestioningly.
- Professor Ramapudi talks to a random man around about computer things and is told there is none. He searches for “wifi” and finds some from down below, he then tries to connect.
- Owlicious attempts to open one of the tubes that regularly gives food and supplies and a man warns her against it just in time.
- “John Smith” casually starts talking to the man trying to figure out a way to get down into the factories below.
- Professor Ramapudi hacks into a tube and turns it into maintenance mode and Owlicious opens it so they can then see into it.
- Everyone turns on either their mag boots in their suits or gravs down the tube.
- As they head down “John Smith” receives a transmission from the man in charge and asks them what they are doing. “Smith” talks him into believing they are doing the job they were ordered to but in another way. Before the transmission ends “Smith” is warned about drones that will come and attack them if they aren’t careful.
- As the crew rounds a bend Kal Kek see’s that there is a big room up ahead that has a 500ft drop to the floor below and he pauses to consider the options.
- Everyone decides it would be best to ignore this room and continue on.
- Once they do everyone notices a drone approach them and ask who they are, they lie about being maintenance crew and it believes them and flies away.
- Another AI looking like Teddy flies by looking slightly angry and Owlicious is excited but contains herself.
- Kal Kek at the front then see’s something floating towards them. Owlicious scans it and see’s that it is an AI riding a Kawasaki grav vehicle towards them.
- Feeling threatened the wild Kal Kek preps his guns for firing.
- Owlicious awakens Teddy and questions him about the AI and is informed that it is a more intelligent AI then himself. They hold fire until it approaches.
- “Smith” starts speaking to it wondering why it’s there if its not a maintenance drone. He tells them he was there hiding from the warchow.
- They take the AI as a new part of the group and he shares an ass full of information about what goes on around the planet.
- He leads them to a giant room that looks much like a data room, except there are thousands of bodies instead of data. The AI opens the computer and the team asks him to search for the highest rank. There only happen to be 10 “master chiefs” which the group then tells him to take out so they can loot.
- “Doc” Davies takes their brain chips out and then attempts to implant it into Kal Keks brain, which at first doesn’t go so well, but she later is able to successfully to do it.
- She then attempts to do the same thing to Desmond Conners but accidently cuts a part of his brain before fixing it and once again succeeding.
- She then artfully implants them into the rest of the crew without any problems; she’s an expert neurosurgeon! LEVEL UP!
- Gustav does her surgery but cuts a part of her brain before getting the chip correctly in. She wasn’t pleased.
- The new AI goes on a trip with Professor Ramapudi to get a chip remodifier and when they receive it they return to try and remodify everyone’s newly implanted chip, it works for everyone but “Doc” Davies and “Smith” but they remove and replace new ones that are already modified with no problem.
- The next day they go in search of an elevator that the AI conveniently left out knowing about until now and when they find it they see that it is large enough to fit a large ship. The group decides to use it and head to the warchive.
- The group reaches a giant data room and in walks a Titan robot who then askes who is in charge, “Smith” lies and makes it believe he is in charge but it does stand down. A holographic image of a man claiming to be AI ---(?) starts talking to them.
- The new AI attempts to hack the Titan and fails causing it to aim its guns at him and warn him to stop. He does it again anyway and this time succeeds.
- The core starts closing itself and Kal Kek opens fire blasting through the window. Gustav moves to stop the closing door and in the process gets his mech stuck there.
- “Smith” starts bartering with the AI and manages to talk it into letting them go. The elevators behind them open and a ship is waiting there.
- Everyone gets into the ship and start feeling like they are moving upward. The AI’s face appears at the pilots seat and calls them all irritating humans. Everyone feels complimented.
- The Ai then fires a missile at the ship as it leaves but the new team member AI fires an EMT cannon at it and the nanobot swarm dies before it can even start. Lt. Five floors it out of there before something more bad happens.
- The Aquila come to pick them up and credits roll.
So, the intrepid crew escaped the planet armed to the teeth, and with a brand new shuttle. Well, a 600 year old shuttle. But it's new to them.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
There is a lot of exposition in the book. A lot. Exposition can ruin a book and make is a boring, lifeless hunk of pulp. But Reynolds is so good at exposition, it makes the novel.
There is a story. Actually, a really good one. It takes place over decades of time with multiple viewpoint characters. That type of storytelling can get confused and jumbled in the wrong hands, but Reynolds pulls it off very well. It's kind of hard to regurgitate understandably to someone, else, though.
In fact, rather than try to sum up a plot or something, it would probably do better to just describe some things in the book:
- A dead alien planet settled by an entire city of archaeologists.
- A kilometer long, slower than light spacecraft with a technological biology all its own.
- A nanitic plague that takes over technological and biological processes.
- Aliens wrapped in cocoons of space-time.
- Ancient technologies beyond imagining.
- Lovecraftian horrors and insanity.
- Cities mutating beyond control.
- Brain hijacking.
- A planet that is not a planet.
- An assassin, and astronaut, and a novelist walk into a baroque spider, and two get drunk.
- Melding Plague
- Conjoiners, Demarchists, and Ultras
- Triumvirs Volyova, Sajaki, and Hegazi
- Pattern Jugglers, Inhibitors, and Shrouders
- Nostalgia for Infinity
I soooo want to take the ideas from this book and fashion a game setting. Actually, I've been sprinkling the Redshirts games liberally with some of them. But Reynolds has written quite a few books in this same setting - I need to go digest those as well.
So yeah, I recommend the book highly. :)
The Thanksgiving week adventure brought the players to the planet Levant, a nanobot infested warzone that looked like Beirut in the '80s. Unsurprisingly, the group's flying saucer was eaten by a cloud of air defense nanobots while they were still flying it. I mean, who didn't see that coming? The players landed the ship in a bombed out soccer stadium just as the nanobots digested the maneuver thrusters, and they bailed out alive just in time to meet the Levant Liberation Front.
The LLF were a group of humans that were fighting a group of Warchou on the planet, and had been fighting for 600 years. Deep beneath the crust, AIs with factories constantly spat out food, clothing, weapons, and ammo for all sides, keeping the war going on and on and on - forever.
It was an excellent excuse to kit the party up with an endless supply of mech suits, if I do say so myself. Here is the blow-by-blow from Adelaide:
- The team wakes back up, O’Brien has been court marshaled for revealing top secret information to the Warchow and shipped out to space in his undies.
- “Doc” Davies holds Owlicious’ hair as she vomits her intestines out. Again.
- HerMANdez debriefs the group again and orders them to go to a planet called Levant. Teddy pilots the ship while Lt. Five and Kal Kek defreeze in the back. He then hands over the ship once Lt. Five is fully awakened.
- Owlicious scans the planet as they approach and see it is vastly polluted and there is movement (vehicles, energy charges, etc.) that make it look like a warzone.
- They break the cloud bank and two communications open up with their ship. One in German and the other something that seems similar to the Warchow.
- A missile gets fired at the group as they are being warned off by the human communications. Lt. Five artfully moves the ship out of the way but when the missile blows up it explodes into a black cloud of nanobots which quickly reaches the ship on its own.
- While the nanobots start demolishing the ship Lt. Five lands it into a soccer field on the planet and everyone quickly jumps out. Kal Kek and Owlicious don’t make it out quickly enough and their suits are destroyed leaving them in just street clothes.
- A giant mech-suited person comes out and start speaking in German to the group, which Owlicious translates to the rest, and after a while 6 other mechs come out and lead the group back to their command post to wait.
- The command post inside actually looks like a deserted bar and the team nervously looks around while waiting to see what happens. Titus jumps up into the rafters and stealthily hides with his bow and arrows out.
- Another man comes into the bar, this time speaking English, and tries to get information from the group but “John Smith” confidently lies to him about most of it.
- The group is then asked to sign up with these peoples military in return for supplies and care or nothing if they refuse. Everyone signs on and many use aliases.
- After a day of training the group had already received from Aquila they are given mech suits and set out on a patrol mission.
- On the patrol they encounter 4 Warchow children in mech suits and the team annihilates them gleefully but not before Desmond gets hit with a chainsaw after he was wrestling with one.
- Kaye wants to us his gravharness to fly naked at one of the mechs to attack them with his bow and arrows so he is now going to be assigned the name Cupid. Imagine a giant African man with a jetpack wearing nothing and shooting arrows at giant mechs. Laughs were had by all.
So, we left off with the party marooned on Levant. Will they ever make it out alive? Tune in next time, for the further adventures of Redshirts!
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
In a D&D game that would be nothing strange. It would not even be that strange in a tramp steamer space opera. But Redshirts is a military scouting expedition. Yeah, it's specifically set so far away from the brass back home that the PCs have a lot of autonomy and leeway in how they accomplish a given mission, but the results of this particular mission were on the order of several levels below 'complete screw up' and dangerously approaching 'fire everyone and outsource to the another dimension.'
So, between games, I had the players give email testimony in various courts-martial regarding the mission, having the top brass level charges against the scouts. They really got into it. I swear, some of them must have had lawyers coaching them. It was funny.
Here are some quotes from various players:
"On charge D. Spacer Kal Kek's attempted murder of Lt. Miles O'Brien. Not Guilty, the Lt. O’Brien is a traitorous scumbag, and he was about to divulge the location of the secret asteroid base and the rendezvous location for the ancient mother ship to a known race of hostile creatures."Yeah. Miles O'Brien was his name. Yeah. Anyway, more quotes:
"On charge C. Spacer Kal Kek's negligent discharge in the death of Lt. Commander Nathaniel Taylor. Guilty, but I wish it to be here recorded that I was attempting the execution of a well thought out rescue plan to retrieve Lt. Cmdr. Taylor. But despite my best intentions, my understanding of the spatial rotation of space born rotating mass was lacking, and I could not preform the calculation well under pressure. These facts lead to a miscalculation and a mis-fire. I there for ask for the leniency of the court in sentencing as it was not my intention to damage the Lt. Cmdr. Taylor, but rather to assist in his rescue."and:
"Spacer Kal Kek's attempted murder of Lt. Miles O'Brien. Not Guilty. Officers have the right to put down members of the team that are endangering the mission. Kal Kek was simply the weapon used to do so. Due to incompetent training Lt. Miles O'Brien was only wounded. Requesting Kal Kek be put into Field Arms Training course to better prepare for such events. Requesting Lt. Commander Mark Five be sent for a brush up on Officer Training, with possible officer candidate evaluation. Lt. Miles O'Brien should have been apprehended after such an encounter, yet was not. This is against regulations."and this gem:
"Lt. Miles O'Brien's high treason against the Union. Guilty. Knowing full well that these aliens had already exterminated the humans in the area, O'Brien gave away the biggest secret known to team, endangering the mission and all Humans in the sector. Requesting evaluation of loyalty, Evaluation of officer candidacy, Psychological Evaluation, Back ground check, Drug check."In the end, all charges were dropped except one. I mean, really, all of the friendly fire was basically a lot of natural 1s rolled one after the other, and a DM who is a prick. (Yay me!)
Lt. Miles O'Brien was convicted of high treason against sanctity of the Aquila Union, and had his rank reduced to Midshipman. He was then released on his own recognizance into the depths of space without directional control or atmospheric succor.
One player thought that meant I was giving him a shuttle and letting him go. Funny . . .
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The first 'race' was Saberhagen's Berserkers - those spaceship-robots programmed to wipe out all life in the galaxy. I loved the Berserker series, and I even called them Beserkers in the game. The PCs keep calling them 'reapers.' Grrr.
The second race is the Warchou. Actually, I had it in my mind that the word was spelled WARCHOW, but the players have emailed me about them, all spelling it WARCHOU like some strange zeitgeist was whispering to them (except Adelaide,) so I kneel to the zeitgeist and spell it WARCHOU now. Anyway, have a giant love fest with the Kzinti, the Klingons, the Billy Goats Gruff, a megaphone, a laugh-track from a sitcom in the 1970s, and a tribe of dancing bears, and those are the Warchou.
The Warchou live for glorious, hand-to-hand battle, even if they have to jump out of their spacecraft and go take on alien robot battlecruisers toe-to-toe. They love to laugh. And they love to shout everything they say. This makes few other races really want to talk with them. The Warchou are not interested in science or technology or history or algebra or anything you'd learn in school. They really just want to kill things and laugh about it, stealing other races' starships and weapons when given the chance.
What surprised me about this session was the unexpected TREASON. The Warchou fully admitted to killing all of the humans on 13 planets, but despite this, and despite being on a super secret military scouting mission, Lt. O'Brien the psychic decided to tell murderous aliens everything they were up to, detail all of their high technology, and give them the location of their secret stealth mother ship. It was a rather jaw dropping moment.
Oh, and their CO Lt. Commander Taylor died. Shot to death by his own crew. Oops.
So here is the Ballad of the Redshirts, as sung by Adelaide the bard/scientist:
- The group awakes and now there is another robot that is in the room with them. (this was Fixer)
- Their ship was taken but Owlicious was allowed to keep Teddy. (the AI)
- They are told there are a lot of ships fighting each other and they are supposed to find out who those people are.
- They head off and not too long into their trip Owlicious notices another ship heading their way.
- Lt. Commander Mark Five artfully dodges that ship and another two head their way which he also dodges.
- The group hears some weird noises from the waves Lt. Commander Taylor hacked into and Owlicious knows it can not be made from any human.
- One of these ships comes and attaches to the group's ship and they see it is a metal squid like thing. Owlicious fires the heat cannon at it but it does nothing.
- The squid manages to break into the hull and Lt. Commander Taylor punches the shit out of one of the tentacles.
- Miles O’Brian teleports a grenade at the squid that hurts it but doesn't kill it, unfortunately shrapnel from the grenade flows into the ship but luckily no one takes damage from it.
- Owlicious notices on her sensors 4 more squids are coming.
- A tentacle wraps around Miles and Kal kek neatly avoids another before firing at it and missing.
- Desmond Connors fires a pre-tech laser at a tentacle and hits. Robot RC1140 “Fixer” also fires but misses.
- Owlicious fires the heat cannon again and this time blows a chunk of it off. It then flies off with Lt. Commander Taylor grasped in its tentacle. Lt. Commander Five fires a gun and it hits Lt. Commander Taylor in the leg.
- Then Kal Kek fires and hits Lt. Commander Taylor in the stomach, knocking him unconscious.
- Connor fires at the tentacle and actually hits it, freeing the dying Lt. Commander Taylor. “Fixer” jumps out in his grav-harness to attempt to bring Lt. Commander Taylor back. He succeeds and grapples unto him.
- Lt. Commander Five flies the ship gently off with the two of them hanging behind.
- When they finally get Lt. Commander Taylor back in Owlicious and Miles slap some laz patches on them until he stabilizes.
- Another squid attaches to the ship but derps out and can’t seem to get his tentacles in the hole. A third one misses its attachment at first but later gets it and starts fighting with the last one to get inside.
- Another broadcast of unintelligible noise and they unsuccessfully try to communicate. Owlicious decides it would be best to slap Lt. Commander Taylor awake. He then immediately starts speaking with the creature communicating over the coms and talks it into assisting them.
- Suddenly a man-bear-dog appears on the screen riding a jetpack and is headed towards the group screaming.
- O’Brian decides to pull out his history book to try and figure these things out, but is unsuccessful.
- Owlicious looks it up the new “ally” while the boys are firing at the squids and believes it is a War Chow.
- Lt. Commander Taylor jumps out of the ship to try and mimic the War Chow in punching them but misses his jump completely.
- The squid that the War Chow is attacking tries to smack him off but misses and smacks itself.
- Another one gets into the ship but Kal Kek burst fires at it and almost completely killed it. “Fixer” misses with a chainsaw sword and falls out of the ship, O’Brian nearly hurts himself punching the same one.
- Lt. Commander Five fires the main cannon and sends shrapnel all over the place when he blows the squid up.
- Lt. Commander Taylor decided it would be an excellent idea to snap the seal off his extra oxygen tank and use it to propel himself towards another squid. He hits it hard and kills himself, spinning his body out farther away from the group.
- Kal Kek opens fire at yet another squid and smashes its face in again.
- “Fixer” follows in Lt. Commander Taylors shoes and goes straight for the core of a squid and misses. O’Brian goes outside as well to punch a squid and misses as well.
- Everybody but Lt. Commander Five and Owlicious are punching things, I’m tired of writing that.
- Another two squids come and latch onto the ship. Omega team coms in yelling that they are under attack. Yeah, like anyone else gives a shit. Toodles Omega team.
- Five more ships looking the same as the first war chow arrive and four other war chows come out and start punching squids knocking the squids armor off and the team quickly jumps in to help defeat the last of them.
- Owlicious awakens Teddy and orders him to try and save Lt. Commander Taylor but he is unable to do so.
- The war chow are preparing to leave when O’brain decides it would be a wise idea to let them know the Aquila are in possession of high tech level ships and the war chow then declare they will set out to retrieve them.
- Kel Kak Shoots O’brain for being a traitor but it doesn’t kill him.
- The team heads back to the Aquila with their tails between their legs to sleep off another however-long defeat.
So, the intrepid crew didn't do too well this time around - but at least they survived. Well, some of them did. Sort of.