GoFH: The Dead in Skogenby

Friday night I had my first session of what I hope to be many set in the Gulf of False Hope setting I have been working on (still working on the next post for it, it’s just been slow going with all the other things I have going on). I won’t be making a habit of writing up play reports for this game if we start doing more of it, mainly because I want the players to be responsible for information sharing between groups in this game, but I promised some people on the Torchbearer G+ group I would tell them how it went.

This session was supposed to be a test run of Torchbearer, as well as a kind of gauge of interest in dungeon crawl type play.  My Torchbearer experience was (and still kind of is) rather limited, and everyone I had invited, was either new to Torchbearer, or new to RPGs in general, so I decided to go with one of the official introductory adventures, electing on “The Dread Crypt of Skogenby” over “Under the House of the Three Squires” due to the former being much more likely to be able to be resolved in a single session.

We ended up NOT resolving Skogenby tonight, and, in fact, we didn’t get very far at all.  I will not spoil any part of the module that my players did not get to, but spoilers for the early parts we DID get to follow. Continue reading


What I have been up to

Been a very busy last couple of weeks for me, doing a lot of things that are not blogging about games.  A few highlights include:Been a very busy last couple of weeks for me, doing a lot of things that are not blogging about games.  A few highlights include:

  • PAX West: I’ve had the privilege of getting PAX Prime/West tickets the last three years, and going is always fun, but I am always tired after and question if it is worth the hotel expense and the crowds.  Inevitably by the time tickets go on sale next year I have decided that it is and go on the hunt to snag them again.  I went to a lot of cool panels this year, got some free stuff, and got to play a few game demos at the booths.  It was a good trip overall.
  • Inheritance: I just got my wooden edition of Luke Crane’s LARP.  Getting the nine people I need together to play it might be a challenge, but I’ll make it happen one way or another.  If my cellphone camera wasn’t broken I would show you how nice it looks, but otherwise you’ll have to take my word for it.
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen: I am obsessing over this game right now, and am also very bad at it (I am playing on the highest difficulty, but I am not having much success).  I think it is debatable if this DLC is worth the price of admission, but it does add a very good amount of content to the game, and I am having fun with it.  A fun little note is that my character pool (custom soldiers that can show up in every run you do) is mostly characters from RPGs I’ve played in, both my PCs, other PCs, and notable NPCs.  Kento, Maxim, and Anya also fill out the roles of the new classes, (as a Reaper, Skirmisher, and Templar respectively).  Might add the Shepherds to my roster at some point too now that I am thinking about it.
  • Disneyland: Not really gaming related, but it was a week long trip that was keeping me from trying to really get anything to happen before then.  Loads of fun.

This week, my night classes pick up again, but once I settle into my schedule I might try to get a game of Torchbearer going with some of my IRL friends and if it goes over well actually transition into running the Gulf (which I will get back on finishing that Calendar on here shortly).

Kento’s Story – Session 3 – Raid on the Black Onis [End]

I was sick two weeks ago, and Blaine had some important business last week so there was a gap in our games.  While we managed to meet this week, shifting schedules meant that this would be the last of Kento and Maxim’s games, at least for the foreseeable future.  We started late, and we wanted to make this a good session to end on, so we didn’t really go into beliefs and such, because there was only one goal that mattered.

Rescue Yabe Nana.

We start off right where we left off 4 weeks ago, Kento had just gotten a letter from Sone Baba, his pirate friend, that his boat had been attacked, and the girl had disappeared in the struggle.   Now, at one point I think I had a plan of exactly where she was and why, but at the time I only recalled the vague outline, but I ran with it.

The first thing Kento does is prostate himself before his uncle, confessing to his negligence and promising to make it right.  The Yabe clan chief tells him to go deal with it.  If he returns with his Granddaughter safe and sound, all will be forgiven, but “otherwise, don’t come back at all”.

Kento wants to circle up a pirate who can help him figure out who took Nana.  I set the ob at 3 (1 base +1 lower station, +1 specific knowledge).  Failure.  My go to with failed circles is having them find the guy, but they’re gonna sell the PC out at the first opportunity.   It’s not a bad failure condition for circles in my opinion, but since I knew it was the last session, I should have brought it to the front quicker.

Anyway, Kento meets this pirate captain, Shun.  A bit of back and forth and Kento reveals that this group attacked Sone Baba’s ship, took a VIP, and is probably working with the Hirafune.  Shun thinks he knows who Kento is talking about, and where they might be found, but he wants something for it.  Kento tries to intimidate him into talking, but fails.  Shun offers to take him there with his crew, but says if they don’t  get enough loot out of the bargain, they’ll get it out of a ransom for him and Nana.

Kento reluctantly agrees, and sails downriver with Shun and his crew.  They land where the river cuts through a swamp and begin a trek inland.  I pause a bit to describe the stench and the sensation of shoes getting stuck in the muck, but eventually they see a wooden fortress in the distance.  Kento tells Shun’s crew to wait for the signal and that he’ll go in first.

He scouts around looking for a good point of entry, but has to make do with a difficult one that involves trekking through chest high swamp water and still climbing the wall between two sentries.  He manages to make the stealthy roll and gets inside and manages to kill one of the sentries and throw his body over the side.  He takes the guy’s mask and tries to light the wall on fire, but only manages to get a small part of it.

Still it causes a commotion, but unfortunately he gets himself caught up in a bucket line with some of the bandits trying to put things out.  Through a bit of luck he manages to sneak into one of the buildings and finds himself in the mess/meeting hall of the bandits, a few men are using the tables to play dice but he convinces them to go help with the fire.   He then barricades the door with a table, and checks out the building.  The main floor has the mess, kitchen and pantry, while upstairs has the barracks.  He decides he wants into the pantry but it turns out it is locked.  He fails the roll to bust down the door, and so I decide that he DOES manage to get it open, but it takes him multiple attempts and made enough noise to wake up some of the bandits upstairs.

He very quickly grabs what alcohol he can find and smashes it on the floor to start another fire.  He then tries to run out the door, but finds it blocked by a table.   He’s not quick enough to remove it before the bandits catch up to him and pull their knives.

We do a quick Bloody Vs.  Him with brawling, and the Bandits with their knives skills and bonuses for numbers.  The dice favor Kento and we say it went down like one of those scenes in a kung-fu movie where the group of thugs just attack one or two at a time and get owned, with one of those moves being him using that bucket from the bucket line he still had and getting right over someone’s head.  He tosses those guys into the fire and then moves quickly to another building.

This one is a small number of prison cells, mostly empty.  Inside there only seems to be one of the Black Onis sleeping off a bit too much to drink, and the captain of the boat Nana was on.  Kento asks him where Nana is, and he said he is in their leader’s lodgings, but wants Kento to help get him out of here.  Kento agrees, but can’t find the keys, it seems the jailer took them when he went to go help fight the fires.  Kento promises to help, but he has to get Nana first, and the captain agrees to that, although reluctantly.

Kento makes it to the leader’s buildings, and finds some guards inside.  These ones don’t seem too keen on leaving their post for some pesky fire, and so Kento cuts them down.

He comes face to face with the Bandit leader, who is annoyed, but ready for a good scrap.  I knew what sort of weapon I wanted for this guy, one of those really huge spiked club things.  I think the Kanabo was the correct choice, but in the heat of the moment looking things up I got the impression that it was a listing for a smaller, one handed club.  I ended up using the SQ Hammer stats from BWG.  For his stats, I ended up using the Lizard Man stat block.  In retrospect, the leader of the Black Onis should have been an actual Oni!  However, I didn’t think of it in the moment, and I think things worked out anyway.

We do a full Fight!  The first exchange has this neat thing where they exchange blocks and strikes.  I only put the bandit leader in 1d armor, but it works out for him, netting him only a superficial.  The second round Kento’s armor deflects a powerful blow from his club, and Kento gets int he second superficial on the guy, but no major blows yet.

In the third exchange, I have him shift into an aggressive stance, and prepare a great strike, Kento sneaks in a strike during his wind up for the great strike, and manages to roll 5 successes!  It’s a superb hit but Kento’s weapon has no VA and I have 2 armor dice., both of them come up traitors and that superb hit is a mortal wound.  I describe the bandit leader raising his mighty club above his head ready for a mighty strike and Kento using that opportunity to drive his sword through the Bandit’s heart!  He takes the leader’s head and finds Nana in the next room.

Nana is fine, (since these bandits were working for Kento’s uncle) but not entirely grateful to the person who, in her mind, got her into this mess in the first place!  Still, she’s rather go with him than stay here so the two try to sneak out the same way Kento got in.  Unfortunately, the whole camp is now active, both fighting the fire, and fighting off Shun’s crew who took the fire as their cue.  I give Kento some advantage dice but they don’t help.

His route takes him by the windows of the jail, and its captive calls out to Kento expecting him to honor his promise to rescue him.  Kento tries to pry the wood from the walls and let him out that way, but without proper tools it proves too difficult for him.  The pirate captain suggests he get the keys from the jailer.  Kento agrees, but, not wanting to fight all these bandits, decides to use the head of their leader and claim leadership of the Black Onis.

Burning Wheel conveniently lists the Conspicuous obstacle forgetting everyone’s attention in the middle of a battle, it’s 5.  Kento does NOT roll 5 successes, and so he only gets a few people’s attention, and while they WILL grab their friend’s attention, they are not about to do so to declare Kento their new leader!

Unfortunately, it had gotten late, and as much as we would have liked to get to a better wrap up point, that cliffhanger will have to do.  We even skipped artha, which we’ll have to do if we ever meet again to continue Kento’s story because he is OUT.  For now at least, this is where Kento (and Maxim’s) story ends.  It was a fun series of games, and I might do another blog post sometime in a bit about my impressions of 1 on 1 Burning Wheel overall, but I will say I would totally do it again!

Battlestars Without Number

I recently backed the revised edition of Stars Without Number on Kickstarter, which runs until the 30th of this month.*  As a backer, I got access to the free beta rules, which, came with the message “You are welcome to share this link or this beta PDF freely with others, or post it up where it’s appropriate and polite.”.  I’m going to go ahead and assume I can arbitrate what is “appropriate and polite” on my own blog, but I will remove that link if requested to do so.  I also make no guarantees how long that link will be good after the campaign ends.

*I feel a bit weird linking to an active Kickstarter, so I’ll make a few things clear before I move on.  I am not affiliated with this Kickstarter in any way beyond being a backer (and I will tell you if I ever am).  I can not promise that the project creator will deliver all, some, or any of the promised rewards.  I have personally backed plenty of projects on Kickstarter and while I have been mostly happy with the results, I have also had projects deliver rewards that were below the quality promised or implied, projects that have had to cancel and issue a refund/partial refund, and projects that have run off with my money never to be heard from again.  Anything you donate to any crowdfunding campaign should be an amount you can afford to never see any return out of.  This warning is not directed at any project or project creator in particular, but rather something you should keep in mind before you back ANY project.

Anyway, I’ve been reading the beta pdf, and like any good RPG book, it is making me think about the types of games I would like to run in it.  The things that really caught my eye for a game was some of the ship upgrades, and part of the history section where they talked about some of psitech.  I read the various upgrades that allowed a ship to be self-sufficient (although good luck fitting them all on one ship), and I immediately pictured a Star Trek sort of situation.  In particular, I was thinking of Voyager, a long and dangerous journey with no guarantees of ever making it to their destination.  When reading about some of the ancient lost technology, I found the idea of psychic powered jump gates pretty cool as well.

Those two concepts mixed together in my brain, along with the ever classic far future sci-fi trope of searching for lost earth.  And eventually I settled on this concept, an old rim world still has a jumpgate.  It was damaged during the Scream and all the psychics who knew how to work it died, but it is mostly intact.  What little Pre-silence records survive indicate that this gate very well could have been a direct line to earth!  Their psychics think they could actually get this old gate working again, but they need people on the other side to do so.

The PCs are dispatched to find the other end of this gate (and, ideally, Earth), only given an approximate meta-space heading, carrying with them a team of psychics in cold-sleep who can open the gate from the other side.  They also have a secondary objective of gathering as much data as they can on the worlds they encounter along the way (scientific, biological, technological, astrological, etc).

The PCs will be the leaders of this expedition, sent out by agents of their own local system government.  They’d take on the roles of the Captain, Bridge crew and department heads of the ship (or the Admiral and several captains if they have multipule ships). Tracking down the exact coordinates of the other end, dealing with potentially hostile locals, and determining the proper course, will be up to them. Almost no expense was spared on this mission.  As such, the PCs can start with whatever ship they want (or even a handful of ships), that they think they will need for this mission, with the following conditions:

  • Tech Level 4, no or limited Pretech components, an exception is the drive rating
  • A Drive rating of at least 4.
  • Limit to 1 Capital class ship
  • They need a set of Cold Sleep Pods/Exodus Bays to contain at least 100 psychics they are supposed to deliver.  If they lose these, their mission is a failure and they are only getting home (if they do at all) the long way.  Extra slots in those systems can be used for replacement crew.  Extra systems could carry more psychics.
  • They need enough Colony Cores to take care of the entire crew, plus everyone in cold sleep (people probably WILL die along the way, but they aren’t allowed to assume that).
  • While they don’t have to pay for the ship, they DO have to keep it fueled, maintain it, and keep the crew fed and breathing.  They don’t have to pay the crew per se, but they do have to manage morale, and shore leave with some stipends would certainly help with that.

Depending on the ship(s) the players come up with, they may need to work or barter for any supplies, resources or facilities.  Even a self-sustaining ship/fleet will still need to make contact with the locals to get local star maps and Rutters, and damage in battle or just a bad spike drill can put such a fleet in just as bad (or worse) need as if they never had those upgrades at all.  Depending on the players, and how seriously they take their secondary objective, it might end up being a race to complete the mission with as little delays as possible, or a more exploratory game involving finding interesting stuff scattered throughout unknown space.

Either way, it would require the types of players who actually enjoy figuring out the logistics of the situation, as well an agreement of how the PC/PC hierarchy structure works if one of them is in command, but it seems like it would be a lot of fun!  I’ll almost certainly have to back burner this idea for the foreseeable future, as I am still working on the Gulf, but I might be able to dig it out at somepoint (hopefully after the full rules come out).

A bit of an aside, I have never actually seen Battlestar Galactica, been meaning to, just haven’t got to it. I just know the general concept of this game is close to the premise of the show, and it made a good pun for the title.

Maxim’s Story – Session 03 – Into the Fire [End]

This was a fun session.  I need to say that first, because I am likely going to spend a lot of time complaining about things that went wrong.  But I did have fun, so lets clear that up first.

We pick up right where we left off, the church had just erupted in Sorcerous Fire, and Maxim did not know where Anya was.  The explosion had knocked the barricaded door off of its hinges and so Maxim braved the flames to get inside.  Inside there was a body, and no one else.  The place was not safe, so Maxim got close enough to determine the body was not a woman, and got out of there before the building fell down on him.  The arcane fire died down, and so Maxim checks where Anya was posted.

He finds signs of a struggle, one of her daggers, and a taunting message scrawled in blood, great.  He follows footprints in the snow until they abruptly end.  He stands there for a while, trying to figure out his next move, when he hears a voice call out to him.  It turns out to be Breven, who is armed with a crossbow.  They talk for a bit, turns out he is with the masked man that Maxim killed earlier.  Maxim admits it, but gets frustrated with the whole conversion, and asks Breven to help him find his friend or shoot him, and Breven agrees to help (perhaps wanting another sword arm to take down Nikita).

Breven uses some magic (of course he is a wizard as well) and is able to continue following the tracks.  Maxim fails a forte test against exhaustion and cold and is going to be at an obstacle penalty until he rests.  They find more bandits, Maxim fails a roll and kills an unknown guy in one of their tents, but they manage to take them out.  The one surviving bandit doesn’t want to talk and Maxim gets pissed and tries to torture the guy (which he is not good at), mangling his hand, and knocking him out.  They investigate the dead guy, and Maxim identifies him as a noble.  He might have known something, but Maxim is not in the mood to feel too bad about it.  He takes everything valuable he can find while they plot their next step.  Maxim is actually up to 8 cash die at this point, so pay wise this job wasn’t that bad.

They have no leads, so when Alexi comes and tells Maxim the village is on fire, much like what happened at the church.   Maxim reluctantly goes back to help.  He meets Sergey in town who asks him to help organize a bucket line, but Maxim knows that won’t really help with magic fire, and he spots a group of strange men in the distance, assumes the wizard’s gotta be with them, and so he rides towards them on a Militia Horse.

There is Nikita with some of his goons, and he has Anya tied up.  Maxim wants to negotiate for her, and Nikita asks what’s a shitty mage like her to him.  Maxim doesn’t want to admit that she is basically the only friend he’s got at the moment (she is), and he certainly isn’t going to say he loves her (he might). He wanted to not seem too desperate about it.

So he says “She’s a good fuck”, which is hugely insensitive especially given Anya’s background, but it is what he says.  Whoops.  Nikita doesn’t seem to want to negotiate for her, so he just suggests he’ll see that for himself and tries to leave.  Maxim stopped giving a shit about the possibility of getting help from this guy right then.  I shoot him in the back.

Or rather, I try to.  I spend some artha to shake off my exhaustion for the scene, like you would a wound.  I put my will to live persona into my Bow skill.  I BARELY make the roll.

…And he no-sells it.  This was bad Burning Wheel play.  I think one of us (not necessarily Blaine) should have caught it.   What happened right there was that I only succeeded at my task, hitting him with an arrow, not my intent, killing the fucker.  I actually don’t know WHY the arrow did nothing, might have been armor, might have been magic.  But whatever it was it should have either increased the obstacle, or I should have been told it wasn’t a valid intent (because magic) and we could have just gone directly to the no-sell. We both got caught up in the moment over the particulars of the rules right there, which happens, but the game would likely have been better (or at least a more satisfying use of my last persona) had we followed them more closely.

I then get in a Fight! with this guy.  I won’t go into the blow by blow but I get off my horse for the sole reason that I don’t want to get into the mounted combat rules.  I also waste two actions cutting Anya free which I take a Midi at the end of.  Now, I was fine with this, Maxim’s only real goal was to free Anya, if he HAPPENED to get out of this fight intact as well, that was just a bonus.  I make it to the end of the round, fails to disengage, just barely, but my horse would likely have made it.  I take a 2nd midi, which knocks Maxim out.

He wakes up some time later in what’s left of the town with the various friendly NPCs looking after him, his wounds have been treated, but have not closed.  He asks for Anya and she got taken again.  It’s annoying because Maxim had a pretty good block and strike situation set up, which, if he had used that from the beginning instead of cutting her free to apparently no use, he might have won.

He tries to stand, fails, and tries again.  Eventually he gets up and starts putting his armor back on and getting his things together.  He’s told he should rest (and at -2 dice he really really should), but he asks Breven if the Winter Wolves (their unit in the war), ever left a man behind.  Breven admits they didn’t and offers to go with Maxim, his group is trying to take out Nikita as well after all.  Maxim welcomes the help and we call it there.

I at the very least get a nice handful of artha for all of this, but that is all likely going to the health tests I still have to make, and it is likely going to be a bit of a rough road ahead.  Maxim has a handful of skills he simply can’t use because of his injuries and most of the remaining skills are at b2 until he recovers.  The upside being, if he survives long enough, he’ll likely earn some sweet stat tests between now and then.  There were definitely some shaky spots near the end there where I think our communication/rules mastery could have been better, but I do want to reiterate that I did have fun overall.


Added Projects Page

See here or the top menu bar.  Just trying to collect my major content in a single page for easy access, for both your sake and my own.  It’s a bit empty right now, but hopefully I can change that over time!

Still brewing the next Gulf Post and also something minor to post between now and when that goes live.  Look forward to it!

Building The Gulf of False Hope, Part 3: The Saint’s Calendar


– Gary Gygax, Dungeon Master’s Guide

Considering the nature of the type of game I want to run in The Gulf I feel that this line from Gygax rings true for this particular game, even if it might not hold for some more narrative type games. For this purpose, and because I think it is neat, I’d like to have a formal calendar that is used by the People of Asila, and, Therefore, the Settlers of the Gulf. While I will mess with the length of a year/months/weeks, I am going to keep an approximate 24 hour day, with normal earth like time-keeping, just to keep things simple. Continue reading