Category Archives: Gaming

Savage RetCon


Been getting some work done for RetCon 2013. I’ve decided to switch things up this time around and run me some Savage Worlds.

I have to say that the switch felt a bit intimidating at first. I’ve played a lot of systems, but I’ve only ever GMed World of Darkness. That said, I think Savage Worlds is going to be a win.

Once again I am writing my own modules, because it’s one of my favorite parts of GMing. I love getting all of the pieces into place, and then seeing what the players do with them. I have never had a module run the same way twice, and It’s always interesting to see how players interpret the characters they’ve selected and the evidence in front of them.

This year for RetCon I’ve decided to go with a Space Horror story, which admittedly sticks to my horror roots, a pulp adventure story (think Indiana Jones), and for the third I will likely run Super Heroes. Fortunately Savage Worlds has setting books that will accommodate all of the above and I have to say the prices are very reasonable which is fortunate considering as I’ve just moved and have no money left.

The Space Horror is the first one I’m working on. I’ve been playing a lot of Mass Effect and Dead Space lately so I imagine the influence will show. I’m envisioning this one to run pretty dark, but I won’t be in any way surprised when the players turn it into a SyFy Original Motion Picture. That’s the way these things happen sometimes (or most times) and I’m pretty used to it by now.

That’s just how we roll.

 

Mages Make Me Cry

Free RPG Day 2013


Tomorrow (06/15/2013) is Free RPG Day! Hooray!

If you’re new to gaming, or looking to get back into gaming, or want to give a new system a spin, or willing to accept any excuse to play an RPG, tomorrow is a great day to do it.

Also, tomorrow is a great day to find the nearest FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) and show them some love. And don’t go telling me that you don’t know how to find a good olde fashioned FLGS, just pull up the map and find one. That’s an order, dammit!

Now get out there and game!

 

Mages Make Me Cry

 

Good News Everyone!


A few weeks back I mourned the loss of my beloved Ravenblood Games.

While I still mourn that loss, I am happy to say that like The Phoenix a new Game Store will rise from the ashes* of the old!

Legendary Realms Games is having a grand opening party THIS WEEKEND! There will be food, games, and did I mention food? And the LIRP will be there in force. What’s not to love?

Of course it won’t be the same without Pete there to give traumatizing names to people’s characters if they can’t come up with one of their own, or to yell “Nerds… Go Home!” when we overstay our welcome.

In fact, I do believe that we successfully completed our final Ravenblood Mission: Do Not Let Ravenblood Close on 5/25. We hung around until 3AM, and since we paid for our purchases after midnight we kept the store open for one… more… day. (We WON!)

That said, the folks at Legendary Realms are great folks who have been selling us stuff for years at RetCon.  While it won’t be quite the same, it will still be great! And who knows, we may even roll the occasional “Wild Pete” on the Wandering Monster Table – at least until he moves.

So come on down and play some games this Saturday and Sunday (6/8 and 6/9) and have some food. It’s a party!

Legendary Realms Games

 

Mages Make Me Cry

 

*Fortunately for all those are figurative ashes. No Game Store was harmed in the making of this transformation.

To PreGen, Or Not To PreGen


That is the question! Or rather, it was the question during last night’s RPGChat on Twitter.

What’s that? You’re not familiar with RPGChat on Twitter? It seems to me like you need to get yourself on Twitter on Thursday nights from 9pm-10pm (Eastern Time), follow the hashtag #RPGChat, and get yourself in on the awesome fun! And not having a Twitter account is no excuse, ‘cuz Twitter accounts is free so GO DO IT DAMMIT!

OK, now that you have that done let’s discuss the topic at hand, shall we?

Typically, if I’m going to play in a campaign I want to make my own character. This is a character I intend to be living with for an extended period, and it helps me to get into that character’s mindset if I go through the character creation process. It also helps me to figure out the game rules if it’s a system that I’m not already familiar with. All of this is helpful if the intention is to be part of a long running campaign. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and I did spend several years playing a Dragon Blooded character who was made as a pre-gen for a one shot that we all liked so much that the GM turned it into a campaign for us and it was most excellent. That was the exception though, not the rule. As a rule I like to have more control over a character that I will be playing in a campaign.

For a one shot I throw that rulebook against the wall like a Changeling Module! (Even now one of my readers is twitching from her memories of the first time I played Changeling. You’re welcome, Aenaiyah.)

For a one shot I’m all about the random. Give me random charts and a pair of percentiles (no-cheats of course… or Ye Olde Zocchihedron) that will tell me everything about that character down to hair color, shoe size, and what they ate for breakfast that morning. Bring it! Alternately, hand me a pre-gen. It’s just as random as far as I’m concerned (I didn’t make the character after all), and thus the same level of challenge to step away from the possibility of type-casting myself as a player. Challenge me! Make me play a total idiot! (As witnessed here: Adventurer Misadventures – Haints!) Make me play a fanatical pyromaniac with no regard for his own safety and I promise you I will leap on top of the tank my fellow Space Marines are inside of with a flame-thrower reigning fiery death on the surrounding heretics in one hand, and the cigarette I’m lighting off a smoldering chaos demon corpse in the other. I am with you on this ride. All the way.

Just for love of ALL that is holy DO NOT give me three dots in Athletics with a specialty in “Blogging”. (I’m lookin’ at you “Werewolf the Forsaken” Pre-Gens!) There is an art to building pre-gens for a one shot. It’s something I enjoy doing for the modules that I write.  For me, it isn’t enough to just toss some stats on a sheet and call it a pre-gen. I not only want the pre-gens to make sense on their own sheets, I want them to work well together. So OK, one of the pre-gens is dumb as a stump, but you can bet that pre-gen can pick things up and put them down with the best of them and that will become important to the scenario! Another pre-gen will have Sloth as a Vice and the lack of Physical skill dots to back that up, but they will have every Manipulative dot that I can squeeze onto the sheet because the easiest way to catch some ZZZs is to convince the people around you to do everything for you, and by the gods I vow I shall build ways for the player to abuse those skills into the story!

I tend to think of my One Shot Modules like B Movies. Maybe the characters are a film crew shooting the first episode of a new series for the Occult Channel called  “Truly Terrifying Tales” at a long abandoned asylum. Or perhaps the characters are a bunch of rich kids being sent of to a remote boarding school to learn how to be productive members of society. The characters might be a Hunter Cell trying to track down a missing subway train. (And yes, I see what I did there.) The character shells are suitably stereotypical to the setting, making it easier for the players to pick them up and run with them. These are characters most people will have some sense of familiarity with. You don’t need a 13 page background story when two or three sentences of inner monologue will do. Of course the player can always opt to play the personality differently than I suggest (what am I going to do, fire them?), but I find that it’s helpful for new players who maybe aren’t sure how to roll play to give them those couple of sentences to illustrate the character. I also find that more experienced roll players tend to enjoy the challenge of playing them as written.

While obviously playing the pre-gen personalities as written isn’t a requirement, I do make an effort to build them with fun personality conflicts in mind to help the RP. For example, the camera crew includes one jaded camera operator who just wants to shoot some footage and get this over with and god help the producer if he stuck me with some newbie operator on the second camera, and of course the other camera operator is the obligatory newbie who is a big fan of the first and totally into the supernatural! The show’s host actually has some minor supernatural abilities (whether the other characters care to believe that or not) but no physical skills whatsoever, and the producer is just trying to keep everybody in line and make this thing good enough for it to get picked up as a series so they can all get a steady gig out of it. The boarding school kids include a schoolyard bully and toady, a charmer who can get away with anything, a brainy hacker, and a stoner. The Hunters have an electrician and a construction worker who might be able to fix the train, a go-getter medic who wants to make sure that no one got hurt (Heaven Forbid!) with a somewhat less industrious ambulance driving partner, an MTA employee who knows the tunnels inside and out and has a secret hoard of “discarded stuff” nearby (it’s AMAZING what construction materials get left behind after a project), and a police officer in case they run into any unsavory types in the dark tunnels under the city. It has been my experience that the players rise to the occasion and bring these potential conflicts to all new levels. Once a character tossed someone out of a third story window. Good times.

The thing of it is, when you’re at a convention you’re playing outside of your normal group. You might never see these players and this GM again, and there is a limited amount of time on the clock. I don’t want to spend that time building a character. I want to create a story, and I want it to have an ending that’s more satisfying than “and then we ran out of time.” Your mileage may vary, but I have seen someone spend THREE HOURS making a Savage Worlds character for a one shot.

Three!

Hours!

SAVAGE F@&# WORLDS!

Folks, it was not pretty.

Mages Make Me Cry

Finish Him!


It really wasn’t all that difficult for the Scooby Gang to figure out “where” Morgan’s alter ego had set up residence. Morgan had been experimented on during his time with the military, and so to the military base they went!

The base (in Morgan’s mind anyway) was surrounded on three sides by water, making it easy for the soldiers inside to guard the land access. There were cannons and ballistas, of course,  but the Mages had come packing some mystical heat of their own. Damien managed to convince the guards on the nearest wall that the guards on the wall across the courtyard were impostors and needed to be taken out. Apparently he caught on to how much fun it is to use the members of the opposing force against each other. Arrow triggered their fear responses against each other, and hilarity ensued.

Once past the guards on the walls, Aenaiyah cast some Fate magic so that the group would be ‘unlikely’ to run into any patrols. They did run into somebody (I had beefed up security due to certain decisions made by the gang in other sessions) , but managed to subdue him quietly. With very little stumbling about (blasted Fate magic) the Mages make their way to Command and Control.

Successful  stealth rolls all around make it impossible for me to ignore the players endlessly telling me that they are quietly creeping toward the room. This is what they see when they arrive:

The room is filled with heavily armed guards – there are 6 guards easily visible from the door. Two of these are standing at a table in the center of the room. You can’t see the top of the table very well due to its height and distance into the room, but you can see what look like flags sticking up from its surface.  What do you do?

Well, the first thing they do is roll initiative, and who winds up going first but that blasted Acanthus Mage! She uses her Five Dots in Time to stop time in the room for three rounds – and applies her more than 2 dots of Fate to exempt her Cabal Mates from the spell. That means it’s Coup de Grace time. The boys start running around slitting throats and gathering weapons, all easily accomplished in less than three rounds. This might seem un-hero-like, but the fact is that it has been well established that the soldiers here are mere projections and not actual people.

At the front of the room in a swiveling command chair sits a man who looks quite a bit like the Morgan that they are travelling with, only a bit younger-looking and far more physically fit with a more self-assured posture.  Clearly this is the Feaux-Morgan who has been put in charge, and he must be stopped! And so the Mages attempt to attack him! Sadly they had already told the head of the Seers that the man was starting to lose control, and so dutifully the Seers encased him in a transparent ‘control booth’ with access to all the necessary functions and none of that pesky vulnerability the Mages so cleverly warned folks about!

Well played Mages. Well played.

While the Mages with abilities that can (try to) smash the shielding try to get to Feaux-Morgan, Aenaiyah takes a look at the table. It’s clearly some kind of battle map, and she would like to get a closer look at it.

You were expecting a map?

The tabletop is a brain scan. What else would it be? Stuck into the table are flag pins, each with a stylized eye on it. Naturally enough, the Eye Flags represent the presence of the Seers of Panopticon in Morgan’s brain. Aenaiyah then takes the first action that pops into her own brain – she starts removing the flags from the battle map! This is, actually, an excellent idea and one that I had thought of. In so doing, Aenaiyah makes it far less likely that reinforcements will be able to arrive when time starts again.

Meanwhile, back at the transparent control room – the attack oriented Mages are trying all they can to get rid of this nuisance barrier. There are attempts at dispelling it, there are attempts at altering the substance of the “matter”, and there are attempts to portal through it – so far all without success. And then somebody has a success on their WITS+COMP roll and realizes that the water side of this fort has stone gargoyles stationed at intervals, and they (being outside of the room and thus not subject to the stoppage of time) are reacting to the thus-far futile attempts to break through the barrier and get rid of Feaux-Morgan. The Gargoyles come screaming through the air! They break through the windows!! They promptly UTTERLY FAIL their rolls to avoid the effects of the time spell. (Awwwwwwwwww…)

As this happens Aenaiyah goes with the next stray thought that pops into her brain – and I can’t imagine where it came from having certainly not thought about it myself. She decides to start sticking the flag pins into each other “in a stack… pointy pin bottom into flag top”.

Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?

Astral Mage-ipede!

And so, since Aenaiyah pulled the pins OUTSIDE of the brain map, and started sticking them into each other, Seer Brahms (AKA; Dr Blair, AKA: the Head of the Seers) Started forcing an Astral Mage-ipede into their space! And THIS time he didn’t blow his rolls, which means that the Mage-ipede was moving to attack!

What I described to the players (those with enough WITS+COMPOSURE to see it anyway) was a shimmering in the air a little ways above the map table, and a multi-armed and multi-legged creature forcing its way in. It took them a second or two to correlate what was happening with the map pins.

I laughed.

Several things happened at once. The Time Spell wore off, though there were no guards left alive in the room to care about it. Feaux-Morgan started getting rounds, and mostly used them to punch True Morgan in the brain as hard as he could, because his main mission is to prevent True Morgan from regaining control. The Mages split themselves between trying to get to Feaux-Morgan and dealing with the Mage-ipede. The gargoyles broke through the glass windows and started ripping people’s faces off.

Fun was had! I won’t go into a roll-by-roll reenactment (my memory is only so good) but there was much fighting, and there was much damage dished out and taken (on all sides), but eventually Feaux-Morgan was deposed, his body ripped from the command seat, and True Morgan was back in charge. True Morgan’s first act was to release any and all oaths that had been sworn to him which freed Narsil among others, and his last act that the Mages know of was to boot them safely out of his brain so that they wouldn’t wind up trapped there.

Off Screen: Reenie, knowing what the Mages are up to, and where Narsil is, has been scanning his Fate Aura so that she will know if her Mage friends are successful. As soon as they are she gives Glamdring the word. Glamdring, already in position, then grabs Narsil’s sister and runs. Glamdring knew Narsil before his Awakening, which is how she was able to figure out who his sister is, and where she was at the time. This will be followed by much rejoicing (and much long-awaited snogging) and much need for the GM to start working on the next story in the campaign.

And that is the state of the campaign at the moment. Now maybe I should think about getting the next part out of my brain and into my plan book.

:::Insert Laugh of Evil GM Glee Here:::

Mages Make Me Cry

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