Not Quite Dead Yet! A Quick Recap of the Last Month

Wow, it has been almost a month since I posted anything here, that’s my bad. Been a bit hectic during my normal writing time and on top of that I was busy with some fun gaming stuff as well.

The Good Shepherds: We’ll start with the bad news. Since I last posted about the Shepherds a full month and a half ago we have played exactly twice. The second time being on the 26th, during which we finally all came out and admitted that we didn’t feel all that much investment in the game. It’s a solid group, and we wanted to keep playing with each other, so we decided to put the Shepherds away and try a different game for a while. Right now it is looking like we’re going to be playing some version of Mage, I’ll keep you posted.

Devil Survivor: We got 2 sessions in during the last 4 weeks, one I had to miss because of a dental appointment, and the one this week Caine’s player had a scheduling conflict. I’ll include a more detailed recap when I write up our next session, but the short version is that our pair of heroes have armed a rebel group with the demon summoning program and Caine got himself a new demon.

And here is a quick rundown of the fun stuff that kept me from writing about fun stuff.

Triforcebearer: A lot of the writing time I DID have was dedicated to this instead. It is a collection of Zelda races as classes for Luke Crane’s old school dungeon crawl game Torchbearer. It was a pretty fun exercise making them (even if a good chunk of the class abilities are just lifts from existing classes), not to mention I am happy I actually FINISHED a homebrew, instead of just stopping at the half-baked idea stage. I haven’t got a chance to playtest them yet, but I hope to do so in the future if I get a chance.

Video Games: Probably really my primary hobby, even if I blog about RPGs more often. The fact that you don’t have to schedule play time with several other busy people contributes to that a bit, I’d say. Eitehr way the last month or so has been a sweet time for gaming for me, with some highlights including:

  • Breath of the Wild – Probably an obvious one given the fact I just mentioned my Zelda homebrew above. It’s a high quality game, and the ability of the switch to play it on the go is pretty neat as well. I still actually have like 10 shrines left to get before I get all of them. Might not be my favorite Zelda game of all time, but it is really close.
  • Nier: Automata – Picked this up after hearing some really good things about it, and was not disappointed. is solid in both the story and gameplay department, something Platinum Games, does really well. Would highly recommend
  • Persona 5 – Just came out Tuesday, and I have had class and other things keeping me from diving deep into it, but I have been hyped about this game for a while, hopefully it lives up to it.

Gamestorm: Just this last weekend we had our local gaming convention here in the Portland/Vancouver area, focuses on boardgaming and RPGs and all around a good time. When I first went, I’d go with a huge group of friends and we’d just check out games from the game library and hang out together the whole con. As folks got busier and the price has gone up, less of my friends go, and this year it was just down to me and a few that were working the convention. I spent a lot of time in organized games with randoms this year, which has some of its own charms. Some highlights:

  • Twilight Imperium – Game was scheduled to start at 9am. I ended up leaving at 8:30pm. It took a while to set up and tear down (the game owner had been at it an hour before we were scheduled to start), but most of that time was just due to the fact that we were playing with 7 people. I generally don’t much care for “I have to wait for my turn” as a complaint in board-gaming, but it was a lot of downtime in the game, and there were so many people that you couldn’t really interact with them. I think it was worth the time investment, but I think I would prefer to try it with 3 to 5 players instead of 7. At least I get the gamer cred for having finished a game of it!
  • 5e – I wanted to get some D&D in, and they had a lot of slots open. I grabbed the wizard pregen and named him ‘Mizzerio the Great’ and spent my time speaking in the wizard voice. Not exactly a deep character but was fun for a big con game. I generally prefer 4e, but 5e isn’t really a bad edition altogether. Killed some Kobolds and lava demons, and had a good time all around.
  • 13th age – Killed more kobolds, AND a corrupted dragon! I hadn’t played 13th age before but it was pretty neat. Fun fact that in both this game and the 5e game the Kobolds attacked us immediately after my character tried to greet them. Not like you show up to con games expecting to talk your way out of a fight, but the parallels were pretty funny. GM did a good job getting some roleplaying in for everyone considering how many people we had, so that was nice.
  • Shadowrun: Anarchy – tried out Shadowrun’s new “lighter” version. Still a pretty big book, but it is noticeably smaller than the 5e one, so I guess that counts? This session was early morning on the last day of the convention, so there was literally only one other player for this game. Our goal was to kidnap this guy, and drop him off at another corp (who didn’t want him there). The kidnapping went smooth as it could go, we basically convinced the mark to walk right up to our van and my Troll gangleader just put him in a choke hold and off we went. The other place was guarded, and we thought we could try to talk our way past them, but then they asked for my ID (which I did in fact have a fake one, but it was in much smaller print than my characters real, criminal id). I pulled my gun on them and we got in a fight. I ended up arrested, and my partner ran away cause of some bad luck with dice on our parts. Mission failed, but still a fun time.
  • Battlestar Galactica – Got a chance to play this with about 5 people. There were no cylons in the first deal of the cards, so the human side did really well and had practically won by the time the cylons second set of ids were dealt. I and the other brand new player were both dealt Cylon cards at that time, and so we had no real chance. Still a neat game though.
  • Dungeon Busters – A cute tiny game about beating monsters in a dungeon. Play the lowest card and you get points if the group still beats the monster, but lose points if the group loses. Really small but I thought it was fun enough to grab after the convention.

I’ll try to keep you all more up to date in the future!


Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 11 – Tomb Raiders


I posted last week about trying harder to drive more when I wasn’t really feeling it, but I am not sure if I lived up to that last night. It wasn’t really apathy like it was last week, as it was a rather ill-timed headache/migraine. While I took some Ibuprofen right before we started, I didn’t feel any real relief until after we ended. I am also fairly sure (we play via voice chat online) that Nymn’s player was sick as well (he certainly sounded sick). My focus wasn’t all there, and I had to step away once or twice, but I will recount what I remember.

We started off finishing leveling up the crew. We floated a few ideas, but we were having trouble committing to anything. Eventually, we settled on the fact that we wanted a workshop for Nymn to invent in and such, and, lacking any better ideas for what to do with the other upgrade, put it in quality weapons. It’s probably not the choice we would have made if we were all in the mood to advocate for getting what we thought was “the best” decision, but they’re both choices that should be “nice to have”.

Anyway, we start out with our “Demonic Notice”, in which we get called in by Lady Penderin, the noble we helped out in session 5. None of us REALLY remembered her except the GM, but I did seem to recall that Sarge hadn’t met her, Sola did. Sarge doesn’t really trust her all too much, mostly due to meta concerns (my headache, I think being among them), so he refuses to give her his real name. She doesn’t like Scurlock much either and we trade some information with her.

We get stuck on deciding jobs again, which seems to be a bit of a sticking point for us as a group, but again about half of us are not in top medical form. Lady Penderin offers a job with the reward being some amulets to like, resist undead fear or something? I am utterly convinced they are cursed or going to track us or something, and so ask some very specific questions utilizing my “like looking in a mirror” ability to try and determine they aren’t.

My questions are answered to my satisfaction (barring “From a certain point of view” type bullshit, but I’ve yet to have any issues with my current GM in that regard). I’d still rather say no, but I have nothing to offer as an alternative to it, so we end up going for it.

The job is to break into some guy’s tomb, steal something he was buried with. The twist is that it is in the lost district, and that another gang (The Silver Nails IIRC) is also looking for it. We decide to take our boat out (to get past the lightning barrier), land near the graveyard in question, and make the rest of the way on foot. We botch the engagement, and so our landing zone is full of ghosts. We manage to ward them off with our spiritbane charms and sneak to the graveyard in a few quick group actions.

We have to locate the right tomb, and so we end up rolling survey, which results in a crit! We manage to find it before our rivals even know we are on their turf. The door is locked with some magic stuff, and so we just decide to break it down. Nymn has the ability to wreck quite, and so we don’t have to worry about making too much noise. It’s a really useful ability, but it does make my heavy investment into wreck (back when Nymn’s player was playing Loki) kind of irrelevant.

We get inside, only at THIS point to realize we have no idea what we are looking for. We do a quick flashback to get told that it is a golden eye, and it is likely inside this guy’s coffin itself. We debate just prying it open, but I decide to look for traps. I have to push myself cause I believe the only PC who had study at this point is Sola. But thanks to that and some help I manage to find another magical trap.

We try to disarm this one, fail (making the situation desperate), and then just decide to smash it, grab the eye, and run. A success on that roll means we make it out just in the nick of time, before a stone slab would have trapped us in there. We manage to sneak back onto our boat, and get out of dodge with the Silver nails never even knowing we were there.

We roll unquiet dead on our entanglements, the ghost whose tomb we robbed is pissed at us for taking his eye. And downtime ends up mostly being recovery and training. I bench Sarge to let him recover from his stress and minor injury, and will bust out Sola again next week.

Not much exp going around this week, except for Nymn who did alright for himself. I got a whole lot of nothing, mainly because my head still hurt and I wanted to finish more than I wanted to lobby, but I might take another look and see if the group agrees with me if I find anything now that my head is clear.

Hopefully Sola will get to bust some ghosts next time!

Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 10 – By land or by Sea


Last night was weird for me, I wasn’t in the right head-space to game, and felt rather largely apathetic for most of it. On one hand, my normal willingness to speak up makes it very easy for me to dominate the limelight with this group, and I do WANT the other PCs to step up more, but I still think i was a bit of a drag on this session. I think the game actually still ended up okay, and I perked up a bit during the actiony parts (old D&D roots showing up, I guess), but my group deserved better than that.

Anyway, we started with some book keeping, mainly because we were converting to v8. I can’t quite speak for Nymn and Echoes, but Sarge’s sheet was largely unchanged (although not to be trifled with was tweaked to be an activated instead of a passive ability), and the Crew sheet came out basically unchanged. We were at v7 “strong” before, really close to ranking up, so we decided that to account for the removal of “firm” the crew would stay the same distance away from ranking up and from then on we would use the new track.

We recapped what happened last time and did a short free play. Echoes wanted to spy on what Scurlock was doing out at sea, and almost flubbed the roll except for help from Nymn. It was one of those moments where Echoes’ player rolled the dice JUST as Nymn volunteered to help. He had rolled snake eyes, but our GM was kind and let him add on the help die after the fact, which came up a six! We find out our vampire friend keeps going to the same 5 points out in the bay, which form a pentagram, but never dares enter the pentagram itself. Spooky.

We end up rolling on the new smuggler opportunities chart and get “Heiress needs to leave the city to meet her forbidden love. If you make it look like a kidnapping she’ll split the ransom”, fun! We’d been meaning to go out into the death-lands anyway so it’s the perfect job to do while our ship is in dock getting its new anti-leviathan gun installed! Her lover is some Deathland Scavenger and so all we need to do is get her a few miles out of the city.

New rules mean that we no longer have an espionage hunting ground as smugglers and instead have a favored cargo (people). Because this heiress IS part of our favored cargo we get a free downtime action to prep. We use this to acquire an asset, in this case, some rail jacks who will let us hitch a ride out of town on a cargo car without too many questions. We botch the roll but pay some coin to get up to the minimum quality.

Now, the only issue is the doing. We have our client lead her carriage driver down a questionable alley where we set up a barricade. Complicating matters, is the 1 we roll on engagement. It seems like a rival gang also wants in on this action (the red sashes, I think? I don’t really recall). Echoes manages to get the drop on them though, and takes out their leader, scaring them off.

Sarge then leaps up onto the carriage, and take out the driver, but I get shot by her escort inside the cab. I manage to ace the resistance roll so Sarge is only a LITTLE shot, but no real stress lost. Sarge Nymn then detonates the barricades we set up (I don’t think we even had a formal flashback to setting that up, but it worked). And then I try to drive the carriage away. Sarge doesn’t actually HAVE finesse (the skill we use for driving), but I push myself, and get help for two dice. I manage to roll boxcars, and so we manage to crit. I suggest that not only does the carriage make a clean getaway, but Nymn and Echoes manage to hop on first.

We board the train, hoboroll off of it, and prowl across the deathlands to the rendezvous point. We spend some time in the company of the scavengers, Nymn and Sarge try to make some friends by telling old war stories. We succeed, but our boosting starts to get the attention of demons of the deathlands, which starts a clock. Uh-oh.

We get paid, and make it back to town. We manage to score enough rep and coin in the process to make it to tier 1! We’re on the map now, for good or for ill. Unluckily, we roll “demonic notice” on entanglement, so those demons aren’t gonna wait to mess with us after all! Crew manages to level up as well, but we didn’t have time to decide what we wanted to spend the rank up on, so we’ll leave that until next time.

Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 9 – Risk & Reward


A nasty bug going around kept us from meeting last week, but the Shepherds were back at it last night! We started off getting some info from our spy we placed in Scurlock’s place a bit back. Finding out that our Vampire pal is up to something down at the docks. We meet with our dock contact, Elynn from our smuggler’s sheet, who points us in the right direction. All we really find out is that he’s been taking a boat out onto the bay, moving around in strange patterns with weird hooded figures on board. It’s a bit spooky, but with me playing Sarge instead of Sola, none of us have the occult specialty ready to try and figure out what he is doing. As a result, our take away from that is that he has a boat. We decide that our long term project to install weapons on the Kraken isn’t quite going fast enough, and so we’ll hire someone to do it for us, just in case we run into that boat.

We meet with another contact on our crew sheet, Sera, the arms dealer. We take a bit and decide she is the cheeriest arms dealer around, cause she LOVES her job (especially the making things go boom part). We talk it out over tea, and give her our last two coin as a down payment on a big-ass 8 coin gun, designed to potentially injure a leviathan if we need to. That said, we still need get the last 6 coin for the rest of the payment. We decide to see if the Hive could use any contractors at the moment, and they give us what looks like a simple pickup.

We have to go all the way to the Dagger Isles, and there are rumors of pirates around, but we’re not too worried… Until we roll a 1 for engagement, looks like there was a reason the Hive didn’t put one of their own on it. It’s a decent clock to make the trip, and the first result is a mixed one. We’re making progress, but we run into a small fleet of pirates straight away. We try a flashback to Nymn tinkering with the engine to make it go faster so we can out run them, but he wiffs that, and Echoes wiffs the (now limited effect) roll to escape.

The pirates board, and we jump into the fight! Sarge is right up in the thick of it with them, and Echoes is up in the crow’s nest shooting them. We’re spending stress, and spend some armor, but we manage to push them back. Now, these guys came in on three boats, and we managed to beat them all at once, AND I still have my heavy armor slot left, so I think it’d be a good idea to counter-board one of these. Nymn and Echoes are both of very limited help here, since they don’t have the stress left, but Sarge manages to fight his way to the captain of one of the ships, and take his head.

I declare that the ship is mine and I’ll cut down anyone who wants to try anything otherwise, using my last slot on my fine scary weapon (the Unity Saber), and Echoes spending his last free stress to help, and manage to get a 6! The crew seems like they’ll go with it, for now. I offer to split the profit of the sale of the ship with them if they help me bring it into port, and we take a detour to do so quickly before they change their minds.

The ship brings in 10 coin, but I keep my word and let the crew of the ship split 5 of that among themselves. We briefly consider bailing on the job at this point when Nymn points out that he has a personal coin he’d throw in to bring that profit up to the 6 we need. Sarge is 2 stress away from getting a trauma, and has no armor left, and the other two are only 1 (but have armor). We decide to keep going, mostly because one of our Crew’s tenets is that we don’t back out of a deal.

We have some fails and mixed results getting the rest of the way, but we’re starting to get near our end time so most of them are just quick consequences. Our engine dies and we have to cut into the ship profits again when Nymn fails at fixxing it. We end up getting dangerously close to a leviathan, and then when we get a mixed result AGAIN, Echoes gets injured (although his armor ends up taking it) and knocked overboard. We end up making it without anyone traumaing out, get paid, and call it a win!

I believe all of us double-vice for our main actions. Sarge stashes his coin leftover after paying Sera, and Nymn trains with it, while Echoes tries to establish a safe house for when we inevitably bring the wrath of a vampire down on us before we are ready (the GM was kind enough to inform us that the clock for that is called “Lord Scurlock doesn’t believe in half-measures), but rolls badly and gets a poor-quality one. We describe him as just being a tailor who might be willing to put up with us for a bit, but it is something.

We got a lot of desperate xp this session, and each got at least 1 for our respective “Address a challenge with…” option. Our playbook also managed to score one in each category, and we are pretty close to hitting the needed rep to tier up. As a result, we’re probably going for money again next time, as we kinda spent it all on a big gun (totally worth it) and we need to pull 4 coin together to tier up. There’s also been talk of doing a land based job next session, so maybe the Kraken will be getting the gun installed next time!

Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 8 – Smooth Criminals


We ended last session with the Shepherds going to war with the canal dockers. As legitimate business people, the canal dockers sturck back in the best way they knew how. They were suing us. Now, the threat of that had already been looming, so this didn’t come as too much of a shock, but it was much sooner than we anticipated. Echoes got served, and that started a clock until our day in court, so we had to move quickly.

Now we had the deed to the building, but it had been signed under very clear duress, and so that wouldn’t quite be enough on its own. Now, I had been planning on tracking down an corrupt notary and getting the signing notarized as a long term project to legitimize the deal, but this meant we had to do it NOW. Our story, we decided, was that the dockers were having a ghost problem with the property, and so decided to sell it on the cheap to us. Once we took care of the ghosts, they wanted the property back and so were trying to say we stole it. All of this is technically true, although, obviously we are leaving out key details, like why the ghosts were there or why they “decided” to sell to us, or that “cheap” was free.

If I recall correctly, we got a 4 or 5 to find the guy, which meant the court clock got ticked, and we had to pay through the nose for his services (3 coin, I think). We still had a good amount of time even after the clock tick, so we decided to try and get public opinion on our side as well. We went to our friends the Ink Rakes, and tried to get them to publish our side of the story. Echoes failed his sway roll (two threes), and so they weren’t inclined to believe that this was true. Echoes ended up making a resistance roll to reduce that consequence (first time we resisted something other than harm), and rolled a 6, so he took no stress in the process. He managed to convince them that this story would be worth it, but we had to grease some palms in the process (another coin down).

Our vault was now empty, and we needed to hire a lawyer. We asked if we had time to make some coin between now and the trial, and the answer was yes. We went to our friends in The Lost, and they happened to have just the thing for us. They had some assets who had attracted too much heat in the imperial city, but if we could bring them to Doskvol, they might be of more use here. The big thing was that the people we were trying to extract were under watch.

We get to the Imperial City with very little trouble, (although I think the pirates we pissed off took note of us). We do a quick recon of the situation, and determine that we need to pull the guards that are performing stakeout away so we can sneak our targets out. Nymn decides to rig up a series of fake bombs, designed to cause people to panic and keep the guards busy, but not actually explode. 6, plus another 6 on engagement. Echoes pretends to have “found” the bomb and tries to get the officers to deal with it, another 6. Sarge uses the ensuing panic as cover to sneak the targets out, and crits. The targets are on our boat and we get out of town before anyone even knew what hit them. We generate minimal heat, and roll an event we don’t qualify for on entanglement.

We take our pay and use it to higher a lawyer, who when we roll fortune for his fee, comes up with a 6. He still ain’t cheap, but he doesn’t take us for a ride either. Thanks to our prep work and the help of our lawyer “Cousin Vinny”, the “sale” of the warehouse we took from the Dockers ends up holding up in court, which means that property is legally ours, instead of just technically ours.

We spend our down time on some training, as well as reducing stress. Things went SO well this evening, that we were actually done early. We didn’t QUITE have enough time to pull off a second score, so we called it there. I didn’t manage to earn any (non-training) exp for Sarge this week, things went a bit too smoothly to address challenges with threats or violence, and that’s okay for now. The crew, however, managed to earn 5 exp, enough for it to level up! We invested in our last training upgrade (insight), and also realized after all the money we spent this session, only being able to hold 4 coin in reserve wasn’t enough, so increased the size of our vault. We also happened to get enough rep this session to increase our hold back up to firm, so if we end the war, we’ll be at strong!

Hopefully Sarge will be able to bash some heads next week!

Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 7 – New Friends, New War


We start off with Loki getting out of prison, Nymn’s player prefered his new character, but we all wanted to see how his incarceration roll went. Thanks to some luck and his “Jailbird” ability, he managed to score a 6, which got us our first prision claim (it was rather unclear if we started with that center one or not, so we just decided you had to get that first), and ment he made a friend on the inside. He liked The Wraiths, so he spent his 6 roll, and the natural +1 he also gets for jailbird, to get them to a +2.

Sarge was back this session, and Nymn wasn’t too happy about finding out ANOTHER Imperial military member was in this crew. Sarge told him that he could suck it up, or if not, there’s the door, but he did mention that he’d heard good things about him via Sola. The game kinda stalls after that for like 15~20 minutes as it becomes clear no one (GM included) has any ideas for a score ready this evening. We kind of spitball for a bit, but don’t really get anywhere, until we finally decide that maybe we could trade favors with the Ink Rakes, we’d help them out, and they would be our “Informants” claim.

They want us to break into a ward boss (Meyer Bordon) house and steal some heretical idol so they have some proof that he had it. I try scoping it out a bit, but don’t roll all too well, so we don’t get much information other than knowing it has a decent amount of staff, some of which are armed. The plan we come up with is to ambush one of the staff when they go out drinking, steal his uniform, and then sneak in disguised as one of the servants.

Echoes manages to track one of these guys to a dark ally and then Sarge manages to get him in a choke hold to knock him out. Unfortunately, due to a Devil’s Bargain Echoes took, the uniform gets damaged in the attempt. Nymn tries to repair it, but botches the roll, resulting in his repair job being just as conspicuous as the tear. Now, we only have one uniform, and Sarge and Nymn only have dots in Command as their social skills, with Echoes being the only one with enough Sway to have a chance of pulling this off. The downside being, he’s pretty high on stress, so he won’t be able to push himself or resist during the job.

Sarge and Nymn park it nearby outside, and we roll for engagement. Things end up ‘Risky’ for Echoes, most of the guys working know each other, so he stands out a bit. He tries to use his spirit charm and an unskilled attune roll to figure out where the idol is, and gets a partial success. He gets an idea of where to go, but people are already starting to get suspicious (2 ticks on a 4 tick clock). He grabs a load of laundry to make it look like he is busy, and makes his way deeper into the house.

He ends up outside a locked door, the owner’s personal study. He tries to pick the lock, with a Devil’s Bargain being the lock conspicuously breaks. He fails, so not only is the lock broken, but he is on the wrong side of it. He finds a nearby window and signals to the street about his issue. And so Nymn sends up some alchemicals so he can try to wreck the door quietly. Unfortunately, Echoes’ wreck isn’t too good either, so, after completely damaging the lock and uselessly freezing it solid, the head butler shows up and demands to know what’s going on here.

Echoes claims that he just noticed it was like that when he got there and thinks someone might have got in there to take something. The GM has him roll sway but (rightly) calls that a desperate roll. Echoes rolls two dice and gets boxcars! Everyone freaks out about what I think is the first crit in like, 4 sessions. The butler not only buys Echoes’ story, but knows another way to open the door to let him in to “investigate”.

Echoes steals the idol, gives it to his pet to take out to the rest of us, while he just walks out the door on the claims of hanging the laundry. We drop the guy whose uniform we stole off on the stoop (with a story about how he literally lost his shirt at the Silver Stag), and make off with our prize.

We get our claim, although we didn’t score any actual money from this job, but we made friends and allies in the Ink Rakes. Our heat only went up a very tiny bit, but it was still JUST enough to put us into the next category thanks to our wanted level. We end up rolling show of force AGAIN on our chart, and decide that the canal dockers aren’t feeling like waiting for the courts to do their job and are taking matters into their own hands. We say screw em, and the Shepherds are once again at war.

Thankfully, we got War Dogs last session so this just gives us a boost to our downtime actions, most of which are vice rolls and training. Sarge manages to advance his playbook, and I take a Veteran for him of the Slide’s “Like Looking in a Mirror”, he also advances Resolve, and so I have him learn consort. Echoes manages to learn Attune. Our heat is high, and we still have a wanted level, and so Loki decides the safest place to ride out this war is in jail, so he heads back there to clear our heat. The crew itself doesn’t get much in the way of exp this week, but we’re making progress.

Next week, we’ll be at war again, which might make a good excuse to take the dockers for what they’ve got!

Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 6 – Do Ghosts Feel Fear?


We play on Sunday evenings, which meant that our last game of 2016 was scheduled on Christmas Day, and our first game of 2017 was scheduled on New Years Day.  We all had stuff to do on Christmas, but by the evening of January 1st we were all ready to play again.

It took us a bit to remember what happened last time, but eventually we recalled the “Unquiet Dead” result on the entanglement table and away we went.  We decided that this was the ghost of one of the Fog Hounds we killed back in Session 4, out for revenge.  It tried creeping up on Echoes, but Echoes got a 6 on his roll (I forget exactly what), and managed to get the better of it.  He unloaded his Electroplasmic rounds into it, but only managed to drive the ghost off (reduced effect).

He went and grabbed Sola, who was more than happy to go re-kill some ghosts, and the two of us went and tracked it down.  A lucky series of 6s later, and Sola has trapped the thing with her Lightning Hook, and personally destroys it with her supply of Electroplasm.  All in all a good time for her.

We move on to discussing this week’s score.  We debate a bit, but the one thing on our claim map that looks neat for smugglers like us is the “Ancient Gate”.  However, we haven’t laid any ground work to get that out of order, and it is like four claims away on the map, so we instead go for the next claim on the way there, which is turf.  Since we have to take said turf from someone, we either have to go to war with our existing enemies, or make a new one but probably not go to war with them right away.

Eventually we settle on the canal dockers, it is turf that makes logical sense for us given our business, and they are neutral to us so we are unlikely to end up at war with them.  We discuss our options, we go in and steal the deed, we negotiate with the owner and kick them out legally, or we kick them out by force of arms.  I jokingly suggest we sick ghosts on them, mainly it is because arcane stuff is what Sola gets exp for.  The others like that plan, so we are going to sick ghosts as a distraction, while we sneak in the back.

Now, Sola doesn’t have ritual or compel, so she can’t quite control ghosts super well, but she can agitate them a bit, and so that is what she does. The engagement roll is a 6, so the environmental conditions are right for her to stir up trouble.  I describe her sitting outside the building in question, drawing arcane circles in her notebook, as she reaches out and starts causing problems in the ghost field.  She has to fill up a small clock, and her first roll reduces things to risky, but makes progress, so the ghosts are noticing her as well.  Her next roll fills the clock with a 6, so she gets the job done and slinks away to meet up with the rest.

Nymn melts the hinges off the back door, and gets great effect, so everyone is busy dealing with the ghosts.  We go find the boss of these guys, who tries pulling a gun on us.  Echoes tries to command him to drop it, but botches the roll, and so gets shot for his effort.  Sola tries to zap the gun out of his hands (with help from some drugs from Nymn), and does succeed, but the man’s spasms from the shock cause her to get shot right before he does.  She is at one stress away from the cap at this point, and so I figure it’d be faster just to take the trauma and be done with it so I resist.  I don’t roll a 6, and so I check “Vicious” off and down she goes for our first Trauma of the game.

Echoes and Nymn now have the Dockers boss at their mercy and so they make him call off his boys, and sign over the deed to us.  This, of course, isn’t exactly legally binding, but it’ll work for now.  They let him go, and we’ll hold onto this turf until he manages to convince the Bluecoats to evict us.  We might be able to find a corrupt notary who will take our side before then, we’ll see.

We manage to scrounge up some coin from our new holdings, but we end up taking very little heat, all things considered.  Our entanglement is Unquiet Dead, AGAIN, so we decide the ghosts we stirred up don’t exactly settle down very easily.  We take our downtime first, Sola recovers from her injury, trains her playbook, and, most importantly, finishes off the long term project Loki started about planting a spy in Lord Scurlock’s manor. We dub this guy Fredenand, and decide the last step Sola takes is to Attune with him to keep this guy from pinging as suspicious on any weird Vampire shit Scurlock might use on him.

The other two vice, recover, and train. After all that is done, we still have a little bit of time, so Sola and Echoes go to deal with the ghosts on their turf. Sola just got ‘vicious’, which I mostly plan on roleplaying involving ghosts, so her plan is just to destroy them all. It’s another clock, but as a whisperer she has several fine tools at her disposal, so she’s knocking half of it out in one go. Things start out risky, and her first roll is a 5. She’s making progress, but those ghosts are backed into a corner and are lashing out as a result, making things desperate. I suggest that Sola doesn’t believe that ghosts actually have emotions, but is enjoying their imitation of fear, and goes to finish them off.

I roll a 4, which means I do it, but take a severe consequence. Possession and an Injury are both suggested, and the GM lets me pick. I say that a ghost tries to possess her, but she takes out a knife and stabs herself to shock it out of her system before finishing the ghost off. That’s a level 3 harm, and we’ve already done downtime, so Sola would have no chance to recover before the next op. The GM throws me a bone, and says Sarge can have recovered from his injury by now, so I’ll just rotate back to my original character next week. It was a Sola heavy session, so it’ll be nice to put her back on the shelf for a bit.

Sola levels up her playbook with the exp she got this week, taking a veteran ability of the Cutter’s “Battleborn”. I picked that to represent her being a bit tougher than most Whisperers due to her time in the military. The crew itself also leveled up, and we ended up taking one of our two veteran abilities on the Breaker’s “War Dogs”. We’re likely gonna end up at war again with SOMEONE here soon enough, so it is good to be prepared for that, and losing a downtime action sucks. The Shepherds are pretty Breakerish anyway, so it is a good fit. I’m ready to play Sarge again starting next week!

Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 5 – This Isn’t the Boat You’re Looking For


We ended last week with Loki having taken the fall for the crew and spending some time in Ironhook, and Sarge having suffered a level 3 harm. The Shepherds may have won the war with the fog hounds, but they were a bit short on manpower as a result. We open with Echoes going over a few things in the Slaughtered Prince, when my substitute character, Sola “Witchcraft” Gratia walks in. I went into detail about Sarge and Sola in this post, but the short version is that she is a Whisperer who worked with Sarge during the war. Her vice is her work as a Spirit Warden, due to a strong hatred of ghosts and spirits.

There are some introductions and Sola explains that she was sent by Sarge, although he wasn’t in much condition to tell her much. Echoes gives her an overview of what the Shepherds are about, how they try to help folks out, and generally stick to their deals. It was neat to hear it from his perspective.

We head out on the boat to pick up our Loki’s replacement, a leech who is also Echoes’ cousin. The final version of him is “The Paladin”, Nymn Fairshaw. Like Sarge and Witchcraft, Nymn was also in the war, although on the other side. His sister contracted an illness that he blames on some of the more ruthless tactics of the Imperials, and so his vice involves taking care of her.

Nymn is not exactly happy to see his cousin rolling with a woman with an Impirial Military Tattoo, and is rather upset by her presense. Sola, meanwhile, is has a much more casual attitude about it, and asks him about his service and says she’s looking foreward to working with him. Although, she does throw in a barb about how “We’re all imperial citizens now”.

They return to Doskvol, and meet with their next client, a noble going by the name of Lady Penderin. She has a “friend”, in Sunfall, a researcher by the name of Morelin Flane, whose research seems to have angered the local lord, Selkerah. There’s some rumors that he’s association with some demonic influences, but we don’t know too much about him. Our job is to go to Sunfall, and get Flane out of the city. Both the newbies are deferential to Echoes in this case, and he feels like taking the job without asking too many questions. Works for me!

Our engagement roll goes poorly (rolling a flat tier 0 for it will do that), so things start off Desperate. The seas are not cooperating, and our only party member with finesse, Nymn, only has 1 dot in it. At first we get lucky, and then I try to help with my tempest ability, giving us favorable winds to get through he more dangerous areas. I end up completely botching that, and getting the attention of a leviathan. Echoes wants to shoot at it, but all he has is a hand rifle, and the GM (pretty fairly) rules that it doesn’t have the scale to affect something that big.

I decide if Magic got me into this mess, it can get me out as well, and I try to attune with the leviathan to convince it that we aren’t worth its time. I pull out some magic tools and tell Echoes to draw a circle so that he can help, and manage to pull off a 6! It’s not exactly pleasant to link with a leviathan, but at least it works! And the rest of the trip ends up pretty uneventful.

When we arrive in Sunfall, we need a plan to get into the university. Everyone decided to go normal load, so just walking in isn’t going to work, so Nymn decides to make a distraction using some explosives. He doesn’t roll very well, so he gets some guards after him.

Meanwhile, Witchcraft and Echoes sneak into the building, although Sola is set to take some harm in the process, luckily, Echoes decides that, since he has Tenacious (and some level 1 harm already from last mission), he can take it instead, so the explosions end up knocking Sola into Echoes, who manages to twist his ankle as a result. We manage to make it to Flane’s office, where Sola uses her Spirit Mask and Lightning Hook to disguise Flane as a Spirit Warden, which, no one is going to look twice at given there are explosions going off.

Nymn, meanwhile, is being chased down by authorities, failing to escape from them, he gets shot for his efforts. He eventually decides to bluff that he has another bomb and yells at them to back off. He gets lucky and gets a 6 and manages to slip away.

The trip back to town is uneventful, and we drop Flane off and get paid, a full 8 coins, 2 go to the vault, and 2 go to each of us. We also get enough rep to push us over the top, taking our hold from weak to firm! We get a small amount of heat from this score, helped by our new cover operation. The entanglement result is “Unquiet Dead”, which we decide is the ghost of one of the Fog Hounds Echoes killed. We’re short on time, so we decide downtime comes first and we’ll take care of that next time.

I don’t remember everyone’s downtime actions in particular, but I do recall in true scoundrel style everyone spent both coins they got on extra actions, stashing away none of them. I do know that Sola indulged her vice (clearing 4 out of her 7 stress), took over Loki’s project to put a spy in Scurlock’s estate, and trained twice (personal and prowess). Exp was pretty good, (although Echoes didn’t get a chance to be violent, since things went too well), and the gang itself hit 4 for 4 (although none of them came up enough to get 2 exp) is almost ready to level up again!

Next Sunday is Christmas, and so all of us have other plans, and I probably will NOT post a filler like I did last week. The Sunday after that is New Years Day, but we play in the evening so we should be good to play that day! Expect to see the Shepherds again in 2 weeks!

Let Me Tell You About My Character: The Good Shepherds – Sarge & Witchcraft

Our GM was sick last night, so the Good Shepherds took the week off. I figured I would take the time to go into a little detail about my characters, both just in case you were interested and to give me an opportunity to flesh them out a bit more to help me when I bring them to the table. Some of this stuff will be new to those just following the Aps, some of it will be even new to my group, and some of it I’ll have come up with during the writing of this. Witchcraft hasn’t actually hit the table yet, and I’ve noticed (at least for me) the execution always drifts a bit from my character concept, so putting it down here should in interesting for comparison later on. This got a bit long, and some may consider this a bit spoilery, so click here to read the whole thing.

Actual Play: The Good Shepherds – Session 4 – Remember Shepherds, This is a Sneaking Mission


A bit of a short session last night, but a pretty intense one. The Good Shepherds were still at war with the Fog Hounds, and as such we planned to keep hitting them. Last week, we found out that they were holding the family member of one of their “contacts” in the ministry of transportation hostage, and, if we could free them, they’d be willing to help us out instead. There is a bit of a pause at the stat of the session where we try to decide if there is anything else we want to do before we pull the trigger. We’re about to skip town for a bit (to transport the girl), and our lair is neither hidden nor secure, so I stash our vault and documents on our ship, which IS hidden when we’re not using it and with us when we are.

Anyway, we look at the score types, and decide that securing the girl is the important bit, with the transport being handled off screen. Echoes and Sarge both get exp for violence, so the temptation for an assault is high, but I feel like if we gun for the girl with force we might end up with a hostage situation. We end up calling this a “stealth” score. The plan is Sarge will start a fight out front, while Loki and Echoes sneak in the back. We feel that if I frame it like Sarge is just picking a fight with these guys we’re at war with, that won’t put the girl in as much danger than if it’s obvious we know she’s there.

It’s not an AWFUL plan, but I make it a lot worse at the last second, by inviting Echoes to back ME up instead. I do it because I know he wants that exp for being in a fight, but I forget that Loki doesn’t have the skills to pull off an infiltration by himself. Our engagement roll puts us in a ‘desperate’ position, which means this place has WAY more people hanging out there than we expect them to. On the upside, I make a good number of desperate rolls as a result and get some good exp that way!

I swear at the Fog Hounds a bit and tell them if they wanna mess with the Shepherds, I’m right here! I roll a 5, and so that will help out Loki, but it also means they shoot me. I take the harm to my armor, and we cut to Loki in a flashback, getting the blueprints of the building from one of his contacts. They’re a bit out of date, but they’ll manage. He then tries to sneak in, suggests a devil’s bargain where he bumps into a guy, and then fails, resulting in MORE guys showing up to deal with him.

We cut back to the fight out front, Sarge is outnumbered, but since he is ‘Not to be Messed With’ it isn’t QUITE as bad as it looks. I quaff my rage essence, and bust out my fine weapon, and manage to still end up slightly ahead in the effect math. The GM asks me what my intent here is and I know Loki isn’t doing too well, so I decide that Sarge is going to take out as many as he can until he gets the all clear, which we all know narratively means he’ll have to WIN. We call this an 8 tick clock, but luckily I am rolling great effect so I can knock out a few pieces in one roll. Another 5 means, I do it, but I’m taking level 3 harm in the process. I waffle, I could bust out heavy armor, but I might need it more later… I ask if my resistance to pain from my rage essence helps at all. There’s a bit of confusion about what I want, but eventually we settle on that for this scene I’d be able to ignore that harm’s effect, but I would still have it. That works for me, so I just take it.

Loki’s player is feeling useless meanwhile, not REALLY having the skills to see a way out of this, and we’ve been less social than he thought we’d be so a lot of his abilities are useless. He’s on the verge of just giving up on the character, when the rest of us tell him that if he doesn’t care if Loki gets killed, then he has nothing to lose by TRYING. He takes to that, and ends up throwing his slumber essence like a smoke bomb at the group, and manages to CRIT. That gets him feeling a bit better, we all have some off nights, and he manages to get the girl. Unfortunately he does flub his next roll and they get cornered.

Outside, we know something has gone wrong by this point, and so it is time for another roll to push inside and help. I roll my 2 skirmish dice and… 6, 6 that’s a crit, and enough to fill up the clock of defeating the guys outside. We push into the building, and manage to extract Loki and the girl and call it mission complete. We get a small handful of coins, and the cover operation claim for our trouble. The GM rules that our cover operation does NOT apply until our next score, and when we add up all the heat factors (including a devil’s bargain I took that added a bit more), we come to exactly 9, enough to push us to the next wanted level even though we had 0 heat going into this. On the plus side, rolling over like this means we’re still in the low level for entanglements, and roll “gang trouble”, which, since we have no cohorts (with flaws or otherwise), does nothing to us.

We take our downtime actions, Sarge is at so high stress and so badly injured that I decide it’ll be more efficient (and more fun) to have him become “lost” for a little while, so I just have him train instead of getting fixed up, this fills up his Prowess track and lets him open up prowl at 1 dot. Loki’s player, while that crit certainly helped him feel a bit better, still wants to take a break from him as well, and so trains to rank up his playbook, and takes jailbird, and takes the fall for our wanted level, bringing us back down to 1. I either missed or forgot what Echoes did with his downtime, but he’s sticking around. While we still took a war down-time this week, the GM said that, for now, we’ve proven to be more trouble than we’re worth to the Fog Hounds, and they are going to back off for the moment.

We handed out exp, and most of us did pretty well. The crew leveled up, and, since we were no longer at war, the need to take War Dogs as a veteran advance was less pressing. I’d still like to take it BEFORE the Shepherds end up at war again (Cause I am pretty sure the game is designed so that avoiding war is pretty difficult), but we took some upgrades instead. We secured our lair, and improved our personal training downtime. Echoes also leveled up his playbook, and took “tenacious”, meaning he can ignore that level 1 harm that’s been bugging him for a while. Next week, while Sarge recovers and spends some much needed family time, and Loki makes some friends in Ironhook, Echoes will be showing two new recruits the ropes. I’ll be playing “Witchcraft”, while Loki’s player will be playing “Chaos”, I’ll talk about them more then!