Category Archives: RPG

RetCon 2014: Day the Second – Spaghetti Dinner


Saturday night was time to play the All Flesh Must Be Eaten game that I had been anticipating since RetCon 2013.

For those who don’t know, last year I had the extreme pleasure of playing a vital role in the Saturday Night AFMBE game.

“See? I have this patch right here! Do you know what this means boy?”

N7 - 'cause I'm hard core

It means “I’m a paint-balling wannabe soldier with no authority whatsoever, and a Firearms Skill of 1.”

“You think you have the right to ask me to turn over my gun because you *claim* to be an officer of the law? Well where’s your badge, law-man?”  I wait a beat to glare meaningfully at the individual in the hospital gown standing before me. “Well that’s what I thought. I am the one with the gun, and I am not stupid enough to turn that gun over to you because you asked. You didn’t even ask nice! What’s that? You think you have more skill with this here firearm than I do? Would you care to be a demonstration of my shooting ability?”

For the record – the person playing the alleged law-man was being a big jerk.

For the record – I am capable of playing an even bigger jerk.

I may have died that night, but I died so that the hotties might live. I died secure in the knowledge that, had I lived, I would have gotten laid.

Since that time I have been told, in no uncertain terms that I must play in the Saturday Night AFMBE game at RetCon 2014 and, if possible, play an even bigger jerk.

challenge accepted

 

This year I got to play a trigger happy gun toting maniac with a wide variety Firearms Skills of either 4 or 5 (very nice for AFMBE) , and a slight Cruel Streak (1). Welcome to a “Fistful O’ Zombies”!

We started off the evening at the local saloon, which a group of banditos had just walked into.  This looked like an opportune time to start polishing my shotgun while consuming my whiskey.

One of the banditos was giving the waitress a look that did not sit right with me, so when a different bandito (there were three) flipped a card table over I took that as a good excuse to blow a whole in the chest of the rude guy with the lewed eye. The preacher-man in our party decided to try to heal this poor unfortunate soul who had done nothing to deserve getting shot in the chest (giving that waitress the stink-eye was what you’d call “ill-advised”), but when he laid his hallowed hands on the guy the body shot backwards through the chair he had still been sitting in and fell on the floor in a smoking heap. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who hated banditos. I figured maybe it was time I started goin’ to church regular again.

In other news, shit was about to get real.

We managed to put down two of what we now knew to be zombies at the bar but the third escaped. We tracked him, and discovered that a whole zombie gang was headed straight for town! We acquired a map of the town indicating the day (tomorrow), and a name, but not much else. The sheriff was drunk, the townies were in danger, and after we cleared those three undead gang members from the saloon we pretty much had an all-you-can-drink-buffet goin’ on for us here so we were NOT going to let that saloon go down without a fight!

We fought zombie horses, we fought a whole gang of zombie a*holes, we fought a demon straight outta Hell and somehow or other they all wound up with lead poisoning by the time the evening was through.

Was my character a big jerk? Yes. Yes she was. She shot people in the face with a shotgun just for lookin’ at other people funny. She was rude, loud, obnoxious, and certainly better than any hombre! I could go into detail, but I’m pretty sure you had to be there.

When the game was over there would be only one day left of RetCon 2014.

It always ends too soon.

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RetCon 2014: Day the Second – Savage Afternoon


The day began with coffee, as all days should, and then a Savage Worlds adventure I wrote called “The Search for the Dreaming Temple”. If you’ve ever seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” you know what I was going for here*: the hunt for a powerful artifact, Nazis, a map with a moving red dot on it to indicate travel to a foreign country. We spared no cliche.

I had figured on the team hiring some small boat to get them to Victoria Falls, the suspected location of the Dreaming Temple, but they wound up exploding their find a boat roll so I felt it necessary to let them get on a larger boat. So much for the hippo attack and getting stranded with a long walk through the jungle to go. Instead, they wound up on a boat with a group of four blonde Europeans. Fortunately they had received a communique at the hotel with an intercepted message indicating that the Nazis were also searching for the temple, so they immediately assumed that the Europeans were the other team trying to beat them to the temple. The research assistant was sent to investigate the potential threat.

The German research assistant.

He said he was a German Jew, so everyone broke out the Dewar’s and the Lucky Strikes and started cleaning their guns.

Later that night he was sent, by himself, to find out about the competing team without any supervision.

I am fully aware that was redundant. It bore repeating.

He promptly warned the other team that they had been spotted, that he was already in place with the American team, and that the American team had asked him to drug them to slow them down. (He also left the vials of sedative for them in case they found a use for the drugs.)

He returned and told the rest of the team that it was cool; they were just big game hunters on safari.

Oh! While he was out he also shot the American Anthropologist, and somehow (I can’t imagine how), convinced the others that it must have been someone on the crew who had been bribed to try to stop them. It was OK though: some Dewar’s and a pack of Lucky Strikes helped the good Doctor fix the Anthropologist right up!

The entrance to the temple was at the bottom of a still pool of water at the top edge of Victoria Falls. The team found boot prints trampling the river bank, and knew they had to hurry. It wasn’t easy, but they found their way in.

Within the temple they were seeking a crown that granted mind control abilities to the wearer. Naturally I printed pictures of many statues, two of which were wearing crowns. One of those two statues was standing on a dais surrounded by statues of cat warriors. It was 30 feet tall and had an ostentatious Hathoric crown on its head. The other was roughly 10 feet tall, stood way off in the back of the room, and had a much more sedate looking crown on its head. I’m sure you can guess which crown the Strong Back was sent after.

I’m sure you can also guess which crown the Research Assistant made a stealthy beeline for. Notice rolls all failed to spot him.

The true crown was snatched with careful timing to ensure that any trap that sprung would be tied to the goings on at the 30 foot tall statue. Both crowns were snatched. The other statues came to life and began to give chase. The cavern began to flood. The intrepid adventurers ran like the wind!

And arrived safe and sound in the arms of the Nazis waiting for them at the banks of the river, their guide line to safety in the hands of the fräulein in charge.

Ooooopsie!

Knowing their spy was in place the fräulein felt no need to put the rest of her troops at risk when they could just wait for the Americans to surface and hand them the crown.

It was a tense situation with the Nazis demanding the crown be turned over to them. Demands and quips were exchanged. The eminent archaeologist attempted to use the crown’s awesome powers to get the Nazis to turn on each other, never guessing he had the wrong crown. He started with a simple request to toss back the grappling hook on the guide rope, which they did, but when he ordered one of them to shoot their leader he instead shot at Dr. Smith… rolling a twenty-three to hit (I exploded that D6 3 times!), and almost incapacitating him with that one shot.

“You have seen both our dedication to our cause, AND our fine marksmanship. You vill send ze crown to us vit… dat von. He vas being reasonable before you forced us to get unpleasant.”

Of course she indicated the Research Assistant.

Not only did Dr Smith hand what he thought was the crown to the Research Assistant, who already had the real crown tucked into his pack, he insisted on writing out a letter of commendation stating that the man deserved his doctorate for his services during this trip.

The Research Assistant then makes his way back to the shore with all of the items, offhandedly tosses the crown from Dr Smith to a Nazi goon requesting that he “hold this a minute”, says “I almost feel bad about this”, whips out a sharp knife and cuts the guide rope. He then opens his pack revealing the true crown! The adventure closes with him handing it off to the fräulein in charge, and readily admitting that he was the one who shot the Anthropologist.

It was a good day to be the GM.

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*and if you haven’t seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” you are hereby ordered to correct that situation immediately.

RetCon 2014: Day the First


Ran “Adrift” as an “All Flesh MUST Be Eaten” module tonight. Never having run AFMBE before I was a little nervous, but it ran very easily and I had a blast!

One highlight (of many) was how easily the biologist whipped up a super deadly poison, and used it to kill a creature who was cooperating with them. The team then came close to accidentally poisoning a community of amphibioids by dumping the poisoned amphibioid’s body into the lake. I did specifically state that the level six success meant that the poison would work far more effectively than they could have imagined. Let me tell you, they would have brought down a lot of messy amphibioid death on themselves if they hadn’t argued about it and wound up burning the body instead.

And when that same biologist performed an autopsy and declared himself not guilty of killing the creature, who must have had a bad reaction to something he ate, I was amazed by how he managed to not lie at all during it. Well done, sir.

For the record, they poisoned the creature because the physicist (who left Earth to get away from the aliens that had been patiently awaiting the perfect moment to abduct her) was convinced that it was highly intelligent and playing possum until the perfect moment to strike. How she convinced the others of this I’m not quite sure, as I was working with the medical doctor who was trying to teach it to speak English.

The medical doctor was not pleased by the rather sudden and unanticipated death.

I was also impressed with how close to the lake they choose to be despite the fact that most of them couldn’t swim.

One poor redshirt NPC (Codename: Alpha) almost drowned in the lake except that the medical doctor jumped in and saved him, and the team contemplated trying to transplant the poisoned amphibioid’s gills into his chest so he wouldn’t drowned anymore. Remember that super poison? Yeah, I remembered it too.

The medical doctor wound up stumbling across the planet’s big nasty secret, but I won’t post any spoilers here because it’s time for me to catch a few winks before “RetCon 2014: Day the Second” begins!

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What I Really Need Are Minions


It’s never a dull moment for the GM. Last week my computer decided that I had to replace the CMOS Battery, the power supply unit, and the hard drive. This wouldn’t have been so bad had the hard drive not taken a good 12 hours to format, and had I not needed to install about a bazillion software updates.

The good news is that I now have a fully operational battle station with about 10 times the capacity to store crap I find online.

I can now download all the things!

The bad news is that I’m behind schedule with writing my RetCon modules, but never fret. I will work tirelessly to get them done on time because that’s the kind of good friend I am. Also because I know I will thoroughly enjoy watching people’s faces as events unfold.

On Saturday afternoon I will be running a Savage Worlds Superheroes module called Excelsior! Will Stan Lee get to make a rousing appearance before thousands of adoring true believers at San Diego Comic Con? Will some nefarious plot unfold to spoil the day? Will anyone step up to the plate to help Stan make his appointed rounds? Will SDCC ever be the same? Only you can answer these questions, and more, during the Saturday Afternoon session of Savage Worlds Superheroes at RetCon: Long Island’s Gaming Convention!

What’s more: not only will this be an entirely “New-To-Savage-Worlds” friendly game (I firmly believe that gaming conventions are all about exploring new gaming systems)… there are fabulous prizes! The Crown Publishing Group has generously provided me with autographed copies of Ex-Patriots and Ex-Communication from Peter Clines‘s “Ex-Heroes” series!

Signed by Author Peter Clines!

Signed by Author Peter Clines!

Each book is a fully contained story set in a world where the Zombocalypse has happened, and now the heroes are struggling to save what remains of civilization. While I highly endorse reading them all, you won’t be lost if you don’t start with book one. (Which is always a plus in my humble opinion.)

Exheroes ExPatriots ExCommunication Books

Thank You Crown Publishing!

RetCon is 8/23 through 8/25 2013 in Plainview, NY.

Pre-registration is open until Sunday.

And of course you can also buy tickets at the door.

Fun Will Be Had!

I hope to see you there!

Mages Make Me Cry

Flexible and Adaptable:


I have been a bad friend, and for that I apologize. Life has been… busy. I do hate it when life gets in the way of the important stuff, like gaming, but it does happen from time to time.

I’m back now, so enough of that.

Among the things keeping me busy is RetCon prep! It’s that time of year again, and this time around I’ll be running Savage Worlds. It’s a whole new system for me from the GM side, which is exciting and fun! It’s also a lot of work trying to get the game balance in my head and making sure I have the rules for various situations down pat. I have three totally different modules in three very different genres brewing in my brain as I write this. There will be more specifics as the dates of RetCon (8/23 – 8/25) draw nearer. I will say this though: prizes for the Super Villains game I’m running made their way into my hands today and they are very sweet – if you like autographed books about Super Heroes and Zombies that is! And who doesn’t like that?

So I’m pretty busy on the work front (things are really ramping up in my little corner of the 9-5) AND being constantly distracted by story ideas involving Space Colonialists, 1940’s Relic Hunters, and Super Villains. Fortunately my coworkers have accepted that I’m an odd duck. There are so many possible plot threads, so many areas to explore, so many ways I can really ruin a PCs day that I can’t reasonably expect to get to them all in a single session of each scenario… and so there will be a wide range of what I call “modular elements” for my one-shot adventures.

Putting elements into a one-shot adventure is in many ways like furnishing an apartment. You want to have enough furniture to have a sense of style, and make the place look interesting and lived in. You also don’t want to have so much furniture that somebody calls the Hoarders crew about you. Having moved a few times myself (and very recently I might add) I have learned the joy of having modular pieces, because you don’t need any particular one of them, so if you don’t have room for an L shaped sofa now you don’t need to buy one. However, if you buy a modular piece, then when you move into a bigger place you can get a matching piece to have that enormo-sofa you always dreamed of for game nights without needing to ditch the piece that you originally purchased! (Leaving you more money for games!)

Of course, there are certain elements that you do need, your apartment won’t be very liveable without a fridge for example. Adventure plotting is the same. You need certain key elements to get your story across to the players. However, if you find that they are ripping through those necessary plot elements way too fast, or maybe you’ve decided to run the same adventure again and have a longer time slot to fill, or perhaps you are finding that they need to be led to the clues by the hand like young children,  you can sneak in a modular element to fill that need if you have one prepped that suits the adventure.

For example, when I wrote my Asylum adventure I hoped that I would get to run it for a group of people who would really ham up the idea of being a film crew making a “Ghost Hunters” type of TV show and act out some on-screen monologue-ing  and such. Of course, I had to accept the fact that there was every possibility that the people I had at the table wouldn’t be into that level of improv, so I dreamed up some NPCs they might run into on the grounds of the abandoned asylum in case I needed to fill some time. There are some gang bangers who might be tagging the dilapidated buildings, some ravers partying in the potter’s field, some elderly folks visiting the graves of relatives buried at the site, a care-taker who can be played as either a surly pain in the rump, knowledgeable source of historical information, or a kick-ass man of action depending upon how the game is running, and of course the odd cultist or two who might be up to any kind of shenanigans. None of these characters are necessary to drive the story along if the players thoroughly investigate and want to act out the filming. (Which is planned for tabletop play, but really could be used as a LARP night if one is so inclined and has a good location handy.) I planned the game with handouts containing information that are given to players who make certain discoveries during the game, so that they can describe what they uncovered in their own character’s words. Those handouts are the key elements. Of course, it’s always possible that they will simply pass around the piece of paper and then look at me to “give” them something to interact with, which is where the Modular NPC Elements come in. They are organically woven into the narrative so they won’t feel like something just thrown together as filler, but at the same time they aren’t necessary to drive the plot so they can be dropped in favor of other things that are working well without the game feeling rushed.

Another good thing about well planned modular elements is that they can be ported into other adventure if you put a fresh coat of paint on them. Gang bangers in an seedy location can be easily re-purposed as head hunters in a jungle, or organized thugs. The nuisance/crazy/knowledgeable/kickass/all-of-the-above groundskeeper could be a drifter, a doorman, a homeless person, a wealthy eccentric, or a malfunctioning android depending upon your setting. The raw stats will largely carry over, you just need to spice them up with the right ties to the location and theme of the adventure.

And the best part is – when you run the adventure again you can toss in different elements this time! They are all right there for you, so whatever strikes your fancy and fits in with the players’ choices is all good if you have it prepped.

Remember, the players will nine times out of ten refuse to do something that makes any kind of rational sense whatsoever. You will want to have a few modular elements prepped and ready to make them suffer for it!

 

Mages Make Me Cry

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