You All Meet in a Tavern Turns 1 Year Old!

A year ago today, I turned this blog into public mode.  Launching with 3 back posts, I’ve made ever so slightly less than an average of one post a week since then, and that average is held up cause early on I had a decent number of weeks with 2 posts in that week.

While I would like to have a better average than that, I am  happy with the fact that I am still going at it a year on.  I recall launching this blog with the intent of sticking with it, but in the back of my mind there was a very real possibility that it would not last to the New Year, or fall apart as soon as I no longer needed a place to write up The Good Shepherds APs.  But, one year later, here I am, still putting things out, even if it is at a slower rate than I feel it should be.

In the pipeline are that Gulf Holiday post which is progressing, if slowly, the next Gulf Session should be starting a few hours after this goes live, so that should be interesting (can’t promise a recap as I really want to leave that to my players to inform each other about what happened).  And I am still plugging away at the Triforcebearer classes, I’d probably have another one out by now, except I decided to tackle the Rito Bard and decided I need a whole Song magic sub system instead of just level up benefits like I had in the rough draft.  Donno if the Bard and Song magic will be what I post next or if I will put that aside to do one of the other ones, but I still do plan to get all of them out at some point.  After that, maybe I’ll do some Zelda monsters, who knows?

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have came along and read my ramblings over the last year.  Hopefully I have posted something that was useful or at least interesting to you, and I hope you’ll bear with me in the future.  Here’s to another year of gaming!


Triforcebearer: Hylians and Gerudo



Earlier this year, I posted a few homebrew classes/stocks for Torchbearer on the (now defunct) Burning Wheel Forums. These stocks were the Gerudo, Gorons, Rito, Sheikah, and (Sea) Zora all featured in the Legend of Zelda series, the most recent entry, Breath of the Wild, in particular. You can find the originals posts (levels 1 to 5) here.

While I personally find the idea of a Zelda hack for Torchbearer cool (or else I wouldn’t have put forth the effort to make one), I feel obligated to point out that the player characters of a Torchbearer game are, just by the nature of the game, not quite on the same heroic level as Link tends to be in the Zelda games. I’m not looking at changing the core game loop, so going into the dungeon will still be a harrowing experience that slowly grinds the PCs down. This is still a game for old school style adventures, set in Hyrule because the group thinks it makes a cool setting. It’s not really for telling a climatic good vs evil style epic in the style of the video games themselves. Such a story might emerge organically from the exploits of PCs who are both very lucky and very skilled, but if that is your primary goal for a game set in Hyrule, I advise you to look elsewhere.

That all said, I want to revisit those classes I made earlier and expand them to level 10. I will be cleaning up the first 5 levels as well, but you should still consider these classes an open playtest. If you ever take any of these for a spin, I’d love feedback about what worked and what didn’t.

This post will briefly cover Hylians, and then post the Gerudo Spellblade.

Hylians and Foreigners

Hyrule is predominately populated by humans. The three most notable groups being the ethnic Hylians, the Gerudo and the Sheikah. Gerudo and Sheikah are both represented by their own stock and class, and will be described later. Ethnic Hylians are notable for their pointed ears, supposedly so they can better hear the gods. They, along with round eared foreign humans (or of foreign decent), follow the standard rules for the Human stock in Torchbearer.

If you wish for the Human nature questions to more accurately reflect the setting replace ‘Elves and Dwarves’ in question 2 with ‘Spirits and Fairies’ and ‘Goblins’ in question 3 with ‘Bokoblins’.

Gerudo Spellblade

The all-female tribe of the Gerudo Desert, the Gerudo are known for their tanned skin, fiery red hair, and their martial and magical prowess. It is said that in ancient times the Gerudo were once in conflict with the Hylians, to the point where some claimed that the Calamity Ganon itself was Gerudo in origin. While nowadays Gerudo exist mostly peacefully with the other races, the Gerudo Spellblades carry on their mighty legacy, with a mix of martial skills and spellcasting ability.

This class most strongly draws on Ganondorf (various games) and Urbosa (BotW) as its main source of inspiration, as both were mighty warriors with strong magic. Mechanically, it serves much the same role in a party as an elf.  This class was referred to as the Gerudo Shaman in the original forum post.

Gerudo Spellblade Class Overview Gerudo Spellblade Starting Options
Born of the Sun and Sands Gerudo are a product of the harsh climate in which they make their home, tough and strong, they tend to rush at challenges head on. This can not only get them into trouble, but also makes them a little intimidating to outsiders.
Raw Abilities Will 4, Health 4 Wises Choice one of Desert-wise or Hylain Voe-Wise, take a second wise of your choice.
Skills Fighter 3, Arcanist 3, Survivalist 3, Lore Master 2, Pathfinder 2, Scholar 2 Starting Weapon Dagger
Starting Trait Born of the Sun and Sands Starting Spells One random magician/elf spell

The Image of the Desert Goddess

Whether by some divine act or quirk of biology, Gerudo mothers almost always give birth to daughters with strong Gerudo traits despite what should be generations of dilution of the bloodline. Males are extremely rare, with tales saying that a male child will be born to a Gerudo only once a century. In ancient times, such a male child would be destined to become their king, but in almost any era he would very likely be valued too highly to have to turn to a life of Adventuring, and is also likely to be a reincarnation of Ganon. As a result Gerudo PCs are all female.

Gerudo Nature

Write Nature: Gerudo on your character sheet. Your descriptors are Boasting, Demanding and Enduring. Gerudo characters have a base Nature of 3. Answer the following questions to determine your final starting Nature score, and possibly some traits.

Gerudo Nature Questions:

Questions 1 & 2 are the same as the Hylian Nature questions 1 and 2 as described above.

3) Do you thrive in the blistering winds of the Gerudo Desert, or do you seek out the cool breeze of other lands?

  • If you thrive in the heat, increase your nature by 1.
  • If you seek out other lands, you may replace or increase your home trait with Adventurous or Lost.

Gerudo Spellblade Level Benefits

Level 1
Spellblade: You start with a first circle magician spell, chosen at random. You can wield a dagger, bow, polearm or sword (but not two handed swords) and wear leather armor. You cannot use a shield (except as described below) or a helmet.  Each level, choose a level benefit or a new spell (following the same spell progression as an elf ranger).

Level 2
Wilder: as the level 2 Ranger ability

Level 3
Desert Flower Duelist: A pair of swords (one in each hand) can be used like a shield. Must be armed like a regular shield in a conflict. Further, you may cast spells with a sword in each hand, but still need one hand free to cast if you are holding anything but two swords.

Level 4
Bravado: The boldness, tenacity, and size of Gerudo fighters can be awe-inspiring, or, failing that, more terrifying than the enemy. As long as you do not have the Afraid condition, your allies may help you regardless of if they are Afraid.

Level 5
Gerudo Master: Double the benefits of using a polearm, sword, or shield in a fight: choose polearm, sword, or shield. A sword grants +2D per action; a polearm grands +2d to feint and +2d to defend; a shield grands +4d to defend. Note that picking shield does not grant you the ability to use a shield if you cannot already do so, but if you pick shield Gerudo Master does apply when using two swords as a shield with Desert Flower Duelist.

Level 6
Desert Guide: You never need to test or suffer an additional factor due to hot or dry weather. You may provide this benefit to any of your companions at the cost of one draught of water per test avoided or factor removed.

Level 7
Gerudo Steed: You receive a black Gerudo Mare with a fiery mane. As the level 7 Ranger Elven Steed benefit.

Level 8
Gifted: Increase your rank cap for your Fighter or Arcanist skill from 6 to 7, choose which when you take this ability. You may advance the chosen skill to rank 7 as per the standard advancement rules with seven successful and six failed tests.

Level 9
Gerudo Champion: Use Level instead of Will or Health as base disposition for Kill, Capture, and Battle conflicts.

Level 10
Heroic Ability: Choose Pathfinder, Health or Survivalist. The chosen ability becomes “heroic.” When rolling this skill/ability, 3-6 indicates a success (rather than the standard 4-6).
Daughter of Din: Increase Might by 1 (from 3 to 4), further, when you are alone or the highest (or tied for highest) might in a group, you may kill creatures with might equal to yours +2, and do battle against creatures with might equal to yours +4.

Image from Wikimedia commons: link

Building The Gulf of False Hope, Part 4: Adventurers

My Gulf holiday post is still coming along, slowly, but it is coming along (hopefully I can finish them before my players get to them), but it seems like there was another post to get out in the meantime!

I was thinking of something I told the group on our first session: “Adventurers are like lawyers, no one really likes them until they need some themselves.”  My Dad, although not a lawyer, does work in the legal profession, so I have a fair amount of respect for those who do, but I think the cliche got the point across.  Still, I was kicking it around and trying to further crystallize how the average Joe in the Gulf would feel about adventurers in general.

To some extent, the settlers of Pericolosa are more sympathetic than the people of Asila.  After all, either they or their parents or grandparents had to have some sort of adventurous spirit to leave the safety of their old life and start again from scratch in a land full of dangerous creatures.  On the other hand, when adventurers set out from Asila, they go far away, while in the Gulf, their going into ruins practically in your backyard.  There is also a sense among most people in the Gulf that the amount of risk they took is fine and reasonable, but much more than that is just crazy.

While each group has its own perspectives on adventurers, there are a few commonalities that go across cultures.  Adventurers, typically, are smelly, dirty homeless people.  They make their living through robbing the dead, stealing things from terrible monsters, or worse, turning to actual banditry.  They often have no (or minimal) ties to the community, and are liable to skip town at a moment’s notice.  When they pay at all, it’s almost always in strange ancient coins, or in barter for objects that are probably cursed, or the monster they stole it from wants it back.

Still, there is money to be made in dealing with them, and most adventurers are desperate enough that they just have to put up with some price gouging here and there, or carrying enough ancient treasure back with them that they don’t care.  As a result, most communities will put up with them as long as their coin holds out, but not much longer.  Still, in times of crisis, many communities are more than happy to leave the dangerous thing that needs doing in the hands of slightly deranged outsiders.  Expertly resolving these crises can sometimes lead to the individual adventurers involved being welcomed as an honorary member of the community, although they are just as often given a curt “Thanks” and sent on their way.

While, naturally, perspectives on Adventurers vary from individual to individual on the micro level, when looked at as a whole, there are some prevailing trends that generally hold true for most of the races of the Gulf:


When compared to the other, longer lived races, the idea of risking it all for the one big score is a very human mindset.  Every stock is capable of producing people foolish/desperate enough to take up the life, but humans seem to understand the mentality the best.  As a result, most adventurers are human.  Still, the fact that humans who don’t take up the life are likely to UNDERSTAND, doesn’t mean they LIKE adventurers.  At the very least most normal folks wish those smelly, dangerous hobos would go practice their “trade” somewhere else.

Even among humans that don’t have the temperament for adventuring, the propensity for risk-taking and expansion that is most common among the stock results in most villages on the edge and fringes of civilization being human.  Since adventures tend to operate just beyond those fringes, those human villages tend to be the same ones that bear the brunt of the damage when some reckless adventurers piss off, but don’t actually bother to kill a dangerous beast or tribe of goblins.  The fact that human villages actually interact with Adventurers the most, and thus see the most of their poor behavior (if such behavior is the exception or the rule can be debated), doesn’t help either.


While Halflings communities can be found in most decent sized human towns (and visa-versa), Halfling culture can vary from Human culture in several ways.  The most relevant being that, unlike humans, most Halflings just don’t get it.  Going on adventures is just not something a respectable Halfling would do!  A Halfling that has fallen on hard times should have an extended family that can take them in until they get back on their feet.  Even if said Halfling is an orphan and somehow has no family friends that will take them in (a rare case among the general population, but not uncommon among adventurers), wealthy members of their home community would often take them on as a servant, even if they had little need of one.  Honest work like that would surely be more preferable to life on the Road in dark and dangerous places.

Any Halfling that is forced to take up the life must have something WRONG with them if they have no “honest” way to make a living and no one to take them in.  Any Halfling that CHOOSES the life of an adventurer must be even worse!  The other stocks are (to a Halfling) all kind of strange anyway, but Halflings tend to mistrust their own Adventurers even more.  Still, while none would admit it in polite company, many Halflings LOVE to hear stories of grand adventures, especially those that star their own kind.


To the Elves, there is nothing strange about leaving your home to wander the world for a few decades.   There really is nothing strange about “living in harmony with nature” (read: being homeless) while you do it either.  The issue arises with what adventurers DO while wandering.  Elves, with their long lifespan, are naturally one of the more risk averse stocks, and generally take the long view of things.  They tend to prefer the known, safe way of doing things than to take the risk to innovate.  To take the small, guaranteed, gain than to risk it all on a big score.   This is further compounded by the fact that, while a “big score” might last a human and their children a lifetime, money that will last 100 years is not enough for an elf to retire on.

Further, even among the civilized races, elves have a strong taboo against violating the sanctity of the dead.   Merely touching a corpse is only done by their mystics, with intense purification rituals before and after.  Not only is robbing the dead forbidden, but simply entering their spaces, the very same abandoned ruins that Adventurers often raid, a terrible sin.  To the Elves, this is not without good reason.  With their long memories they often know that there is, more often than not, a good reason that lost and abandoned places came to be that way.  They know that the world is much better off if things buried in many of those ruins stay buried.   Violating these places is not only a strain on the spirit of those who do so, but a danger to all involved.

The elven risk averse mentality is antithetical to the one that produces most adventurers, and their social taboos label such things immoral and dangerous.  As a result, few Elves take up the life, and those that do are typically even further removed from their community than Adventurers from other stocks.


The Dwarven word for “Adventurer” more is also their word for “Unemployed”, and both are held in a particularly low regard.   Adventurers don’t craft great works of beauty and they don’t contribute to the good of the hold or their Clan.   The only thing they seem to be good for is that sometimes they manage to bring back rare materials that real dwarves can use to enhance their works, but those times seem few and far between.  Dwarves who don’t contribute are only barely better than Oathbreakers and Cowards (if they aren’t those as well), and Adventuring is not seen as a a profession, let alone an honorable one.

There is a major exception to this in Dwarven culture, and that is the “Grand Venture”.  The actual process of a Grand Venture is not really that much different from what Adventurers do (go to a place, kill/sneak by/outwit the inhabitants, and then loot it), however the key difference is in the (official) justification.  A Grand Venture is one where a group of Dwarves seek out to avenge a great wrong.  This wrong must have been perpetuated against the entire hold or an entire clan, not a personal matter (unless a clever Dwarf can frame the personal matter as an insult to his entire clan), and it must be suitably grand in scope.  Claiming an ancestral hold, recovering a stolen clan masterpiece, even making war are typical examples.   Dwarf grudges being what they are though, what is seen as an honorable Grand Venture for one clan, can be seen as an unprovoked attack by those they perpetrate it against, and can spark feuds that last for generations.

In such cases when the Grand Venture is seen as justified to a Dwarven society, it is not only socially acceptable, but even honorable to abandon your work and strike out when the opportunity presents itself, although they are expected to return to it when their task is complete.  Dwarves on a Grand Venture typically avoid the semi-slur of the Adventurer title, typically taking on a term equivalent to  “Avenger” or something similar.  Some Dwarven adventurers often try to pass themselves off as being on a Grand Venture to avoid the social stigma, how successful this is depends on the Dwarf, and how good their story is.

Why does anyone do this?

In spite, or perhaps because of most seeing them as outsiders, Adventurers are arguably the most free of anyone who lives in the gulf.  Their livelihood is not tied to a specific location or community.   They are not bound by the roles and rule of the caste of their birth. The treasure found in lost ruins can make most wealthier than a lifetime of work in the professions of their parents.  They owe their allegiance to no one save their comrades and patron Saint-Hero (although some authority figures would disagree with that one).  They get to see and experience more than many in their lifetimes.

The life is hard, and many turn to it because they lack the opportunity to do anything else. The majority of adventurers don’t even make it to their first score.  Even those that do survive and make a living off of it, the grind eventually wears them down to the point where they are not physically and/or emotionally capable of continuing it any more.  Still, many wouldn’t trade the life for anything else.

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.