Saturday, September 18, 2021

HAWT: Character Sheet Reveal!

 

It is a funny thing, but something I always look at and judge in all role-playing games is the character sheet. I want a character sheet to be functional, clean, intuitive, and well organized. It does not have to be fancy or have a lot of art as long as it has what I have already listed. Now, if a character sheet can be functional and posses that artistic edge, well that is the best for both worlds. 

That best of both worlds is something I worked hard for when I was designing the character sheet for Have Axe, Will Travel. I am really proud of how the character sheet turned out. 

For those of you that are following at home, I am sure you are wondering about the progress on the rest of the game. Well, there has been some hiccups with layout and I am working hard trying to make sure I have included all of my ideas as well as to double check for typos. 

I am looking forward to when it will be officially in layout.


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Lost Love for the D20

 

So, over the years I have been falling out of love with d20 based systems. I know have stated this before, but these days I prefer rules light games. Though lately, what love I had left for d20 based games is waning more and more. 

It could be that I has gaming heavily in the 3.x era where every idea, genre, and game had a d20 version and all of the of new games used a version of the d20 system. 

But maybe it is part of the swingy-ness (it lacks any type of curve - I call it the Chaos die) of the d20 but I think the majority of my current frustrations are because the d20 is usually attached to rules heavy systems. Rules heavy systems tend to have a lot of baggage. 


My frustrations have become apparent during my current DnD 5e game I am playing in. Do not get my wrong, I am having a lot of fun with the story, the people I am playing with (I think there is about 145 years of gaming experience between us). all of the characters (including mine) and their interactions. It is the system that gets in the way of immersion and full enjoyment.There are still pauses to look up various rules and sometimes there is decision lock as some of the smallest decisions can get very technical. 

The final part of my frustrations is that as far as DnD has come from AD&D/3.x to what it is now it has fallen short. Using the same mechanics for skills does not create very skilled characters and there are a lot of classes that o not have uses (or effective uses) for bonus actions compared to other classes - the action economy is in shambles.  


Now with this being said, I have found some creative iterations of using a d20 for resolution. Some of these iterations include using the roll under method (what a lot of people did back in the 70s and 80s), the d20 + bonus die for skill, and advantage/disadvantage (though this is just a clever way to stop obscene bonuses or penalties and not a system in itself).

This more of a rant then anything, but I have been noticing (except for very rare instances these day) that no matter how much I am interested in a game I tend to avoid it if it uses any type of d20 systems. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Motley Crew: Session 2 and 3

 Session 2

Then party continues down the corridor as Tonic, using his dark vision scouts ahead. Tonic starts to round a corner but hears voices coming from the next open area and returns to the rest of the party to inform them of the situation. Theran decides to send his familiar, a weasel to further investigate the situation and finds four people. 

Tonic tells the rest of the party he will start the ambush and for everyone to follow his lead. Tonic slinks around the corner and unleashes his arrows as the man holding the spear screams in agony. A female with a bloody shield charges Tonic, wildly swinging her mace but misses. The rest of party charges in and takes up defensive positions. 


Theran quickly fires a bolt of fire but misses as Tonic catches a solid blow from his opponents mace which sends him staggering back. The battle ensues but the God Bane seems to be empowering his people and the party appears to be in dire straights and almost deadly blows start land with startling consistency. In a fit of rage, Uthar screams and swings his greatsword with all of his might that results in cutting the female opponent in half. Before the two halves of the body hits the floor Theran motions to a torch which flies off of the wall and collides with the last two remaining opponents that explode in a shower of sparks dropping them. 

In the wake of the blood lust, the party realizes that the three guards were interrogating a prisoner chained up to the back wall in the shadows. As Gabriel goes to free the prisoner, two armored fists fly off am armored statue and misses Gabriel's head by an hair. Tonic is quick to react and connects with an arrow to one of the fists in midair as Gabriel grabs the other one and tries to put it on but fails to do so. During this effort the other fist rings Gabriels bell as Tonic skewers it with an arrow, pinning it to wall and both fists stop moving. After confirming that the fists are not a threat, they party frees the prisoner and quickly learns that he is a noble and was being held for political reasons. He promises that of he is seen to safety he will make sure everyone gets an award. Merrick decides to lead him back to the bathhouse so he can be returned to safety with a degree of certainty. 

As merrick and the noble person heads back to the bathhouse, one of the guards moans and rolls over and bravely exclaims that we have all just signed our death certificate. Gabriel and Tonic picks up the guard, and chains him up where the prisoner was. After a few rounds of questioning, no information is given and Uthar finally has enough. Uthar walks over to the chained up guard, sticks the point of his dagger in the guards nose, and cuts a new slit in it. The guard grunts in pain but says, "I am still not telling you anything. You have no idea who my boss is". Theran grins maniacally and exclaims, "wrong answer" as he pulls down the guards pants and lines up a golf shot. The guard quickly changers his toon and explains how many people should be down here and how his boss is in a hidden room behind the torture chamber. The guard continues to sing like a canary and uses his limited hand movements to point to what door they need to take and the various direction they need to head in to find the torture chamber and the hidden door beyond that chamber. Just as Tonic walks over and paths the guard on the head, Merrick returns, sees the situation, and throws up his hands and says, "I do not even want to know. Can we get going?"

The party continues their journey following the guards instructions as the finally make it out of the wetness of the sewer and onto drier paths. They come across a corridor with multiple doors and the party starts investigating the doors and opening them one by one. Tonic opens one of the doors only to find himself face to face with multiple zombies and before Tonic can react, the zombies start to shamble forward. Tonic yells for help as he takes a few steps back narrowly missing becoming a snack. Tonic is able to drop back and fire an arrow but notices that is does not seem very effective and slings his bow so he can draw his short sword. The rest of the party rushes to the area as more zombies continue to spill out of the room. The corridor becomes a melody of steel rending undead flesh as Merrick, Theran, Uthar, Gabriel, and Tonic dance around the swarm of zombies - felling them one by one. Uthar dispatches the last zombie with an annoyed grunt as he removes the zombies head with a swing of his greatsword. Uthar movesa forward to inspect the room they were locked in and finds nothing of note. It appears it was just zombie storage? 

Theran goes for the next door and cautiously cracks it open just enough to pick in. The room appears to be empty except for a sarcophagus in the far end of the room. Theran and Merrick cautiously enter the room as the rest of the party stands guard outside of the room. As they reach the sarcophagus they find it empty except for gel like liquid filling a 1/4 of it. Theran decides to reach into the liquid and discovers that it has a false bottom. Theran then finds a mummy and casts a spell to detect if any magic is present and he gets a feeling there is something magical. Merrick helps Theran pull the mummy out of the sarcophagus respectfully and then Theran discovers a leather pouch that has a pair of gemstone eyes. Theran pockets the entire pouch and Merrick returns the mummy to its resting place. 


The party finds nothing else of note in the remaining rooms and continues on their journey. They eventually find themselves in the torture chamber as they notice two people chained up on to one of the walls. Tonic walks over for a closer inspection as he is about to exclaim they are both dead he notices that the female Tiefling is breathing and quickly frees her as he cradles her to the ground. Tonic gives her some water and she seems to regain some of her energy and wakes up. The party learns from the Tiefling that the leadership of the cult has always been members of the the royal family. The party decides to take the tiefling with them and learns that her name is Amber. Theran gives Amber a dagger so she has the ability to defend herself. 

Tonic scouts ahead through the far door in the chamber and runs right into a guard. Tonic quickly snaps off an arrow but the guard yells Intruders and retreats down the hallway. The rest of the party hearing this, charges in as multiple guards rush in to stop them. Uthar drops one of the guards as Gabriel and Tonic drop another couple with their arrows and bolts. The remaining two guards retreat into the next room and close the door. Merrick without wasting any time, charges through the door, splintering it, and pushes the remaining two guards further into the room. Uthar joins Merrick in the room and they both make short work of the guards. The party then explores each of the remaining doors. The first door was a now empty barracks where the guards were living. 

As the party opens the second door, they are hit with the unmistakable stench of blood and they notice there is a sarcophagus in the center of the room that is over flowing with blood. As they cautiously search the room, Gabriel finds an old lady, in rags, heavily breathing behind the Sarcophagus. The old lady acts really sweet but she gives Gabriel the creeps as something just feels off. Theran goes to retrieve Amber from her hiding place and she states that she has never seen the old lady before. Gabriel's bad vibes feelign intensifies and shoves Theran out of the way as an intense wave of murderous intent washed over him and the old lady stabs Gabriel. 

Tonic sees this interaction and quickly fires of ann arrow that connects squarely with the old ladies hip as the old lady stabs Theran which drops him. Merrick senses the evil and charges in with his polearm and smites the old lady with extreme prejudice as Merrick's strike erupts in glowing golden light. The holy strike breaks the old ladies illusion and she is revealed to be a beautiful young woman. The battle continues but their opponent is tougher then she looks and leaves the various party members gasping for air and hoping for a miracle. After suffering another holy blow from Merrick, the lady tries to escape but Uthar takes her lack on concentration and cuts her down.

As the party is left to catch their breath and wonder what in the nine hells just happened, Tonic secretly picks up the ladies dagger and slips it into one of his sheaths. 

Session 3

Disclaimer: I was not present for Session 3, so here is the best I could do with the notes I got from the other players. 

After regrouping from the attack of the old lady, the party is able to locate the hidden door the leader is hiding behind and they charge in with a hope of surprise. Though, the leader was ready but by himself. They leader of the cult fought fiercely but eventually was no match for the numbers of the party. 

As the leader took his last breath, the party decides it is time to head topside and prepare their report to the Capt. When the excited the bath house, they were ambushed by a group of people wearing all black and silver dragon masks. During the onslaught, one of the members dragon mask got knocked off revealing a beautiful women that Uthar instantly falls in love with. Uthar's pleas for her and the dragon masked assailants to stop their assault go unheard as Uthar is forced to cut his love down, with tears in his eyes. 

The few remaining dragon masked attackers flee at the sight of the dawn. 


Friday, August 13, 2021

Risus Changes Hands

 

I stumbled across this information by accident but it floored me. S. John Ross, the creator of Risus: The Anything RPG has sold it to Dave LeCompte of Big Dice Games.

I did not see any announcements or discussions about it in the usual places and it seems to have happened rather quietly. This information came up during a conversation about how Kort'thalis Publishing has acquired the rights to Encounter Critical from S. John Ross.  

The first hyperlink is the press release from S. John Ross's blog dated 06/07/2021. It was put up for sale on 05/28/2021.

Regardless of the reasons for passing the torch (as there is not much outside of speculation), I do have high hopes for the future of Risus in the hands of Dave and Big Dice Games. Dave has been really responsive and the focus as laid out in the press release is going to be fulfilling the Kickstarter obligations that was funded in 2012. The last update on the KS page was in 2015. 

Outside of the kickstarter obligation (which is first and foremost), there are a few other points:

  •  Risus will remain free!
  • Open call for stick figure artists.
  • Open call for freelance work to write 10 page adventures and approx. 64 page world books. 
  • The International Order of Risus will remain intact and continue to move forward. 
  • More stuff to come after the KS fulfillment. 

I have been thinking about this a lot since I found out about it and honestly and I am really excited about this change. I think it is going to bring great things to Risus and the related community. One of the most unique things about Risus is it is really a community and that community has been continuously creating content  and going on Risus powered adventures. Now, it looks like Risus is going to a renewed focus and support from Dave and Big Dice Games. 

I cannot wait for what the future holds for Risus. 

If you are interested in freelance opportunities, please feel free to email dave at risusrpg dot com. 

Update 08/18/2021

So, this post has generated some better insight on the situation and I was given a link to a blog post that gives a better explanation on S. John Ross's state of mind and reasoning why he put Risus up for sale. Basically, outside of his health and financial issues, it seems to come down to the ye olde argument regarding high trust vs. low trust games and how S. John Ross thinks there is no room for his low trust style and games in today's gaming community. I think he is wrong, as the revitalization of DIY style of gaming, OSR, FKR, and other such movements show a swing in the other direction. The above link has screenshots from S. John Ross's twitter account and the like. It is an interesting read and provides powerful insight. 

 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Min-Maxing and Efficiency

 

Before I even get started, I am a big proponent of defining terms. When someone brings up the concept of min-maxing or accuses someone of min-maxing there is a certain archetype in that persons mind. This archetype is usually of someone that only cares about stats on the character sheet, combat, how to bring the most cheese to the table (by cheese I mean min-maxing everything to the limit of the rules), and is not really interested in roleplaying. 

With that being said, there are systems that make min-maxing easier and others harder. Then there are some systems that having a well rounded character is the sweet spot due to the genre, mechanics, style, etc. Though, this discussion commonly comes up in Dungeons and Dragons and all other d20 (especially 2nd edition to 3.x) derived games. 

There is also something called efficiency and efficiency is something that is in important in these d20 derived games. To define terms again, by efficiency I mean someone who understands the system, is able to create a character they want and what they want their character to be good at, and enjoys the roleplaying aspect of the game. This is because if your character does not have one or two focuses (usually two is the max before efficiency starts to drop due to MAD and other factors. Commonly these focuses are split between combat/social/exploration) it will tend to be alright in a lot of areas but not really good in anything. This can make things really frustrating for the player when the dice start to hit the table as Lady Luck is a fickle mistress. I am speaking from personal experience and what I have seen at the table.

What really grinds my gears is when people accuse efficient players as min-maxing. I personally find this rude and it makes me feel like the person doing the accusing really does not understand the mechanical implications of the game. Maybe this comes from jealously when other characters are more effective at various aspects and they have to rely on high d20 rolls which are manipulated by Lady Luck. It also comes from frustration as lack of successes on the average.

If a player is struggling with the mechanical aspects of the game they should ask for help from an efficient player. 

If a player is going to accuse another player of something, they should be using the right terms. 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

HAWT: Art Preview

 

By amazing luck I have found a great artist and I have had the honor of working with said artist for sometime. He has done some character sketches for me in the past but now is working on the art for Have Axe, Will Travel as we speak. 

I love his style and it fits perfectly with the soul of my game that I am trying to capture. Without further ado, here is a sneak peek...


Fine, a second peak....

Alright, I will be nice. One final peek behind the curtain...

Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about the artist. I love his art, he is easy to work with, and communicates very well. I am beyond excited on another round of art coming in. If you need work done, you can find him at Inked Gas.

As for the rest of the game? The core text is edited and I am sending out the adventure to be edited that will be included in the core book. It is a matter of putting the pieces together, finishing up some contract work, and jumping through the hoops of formatting. I do not have a date yet but I will let everyone know when I am comfortable giving out soft timelines. 

Thank you all for the support.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Antediluvian Rumors

Due to the varies canon changes throughout the editions (in addition to there being lot of rumors and very few hard facts in the meta plot) it can be hard to keep track of what happened to what Antediluvian, who are the clan founders in Vampire the Masquerade. I have taken the time and tried to track down where and what the Antediluvians are doing in the modern nights. 

I have used the Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition timeline changes, information from Beckett's Jyhad Diary, and the information presented in Vampire 5th Edition

 

What They are Doing or Where They Are

§

  • Banu Haqim: The last anyone saw of Haqim was in 121 CE at the British Isles where he was engaged in philosophical conversations with Mithras. Since then, attempts to find him has failed. It is rumored that he is in torpor in the Azerbaijan/Iran/Turkmenistan though some believe he is awake but remains hidden.
  • Cappadocian: Cappadocius was diablierized by Augustus Giovanni in 1444 CE.
  • Brujah: Brujah was diablierized by Troile in the second city.
  • Ministry: After a brief awakening in 33 AD, Sutekh disappeared from view and has not been seen since (but left vague prophecies about his return). Despite this, a Ventrue named Nasch came upon a cult known as the Coil of Lion allegedly harbored Sutekh’s body in the 14th century. Nasch then drank from Sutekh’s body which sent Nasch into torpor for a century.
  • Gangrel: Ennoia has drifted in and out of torpor since the fall of Enoch. It is unknown whether she is awake or not in the modern nights.
  • Giovanni: Augustus Giovanni is believed to be a casualty of the Second Inquisition.
  • Lasombra: Physically slain and allegedly diablierized by Gratiano de Veronese at the start of the Anarch revolt.
  • Malkavian: Malkav is thought to be in torpor somewhere in Jerusalem where it is thought that his madness has caused the constant state of chaos in that area. It has also been theorized that all Malkavians may or may not have drunk him causing their “cobweb” mental connection with all other members.
  • Nosferatu: Absimillard was last recorded to have retreated to the far ends of the Earth after his scarring and creation of the Nicktuku. Absimillard was disappointed in his children for creating embracing others and created the Nicktuku to hunt them. Modern Nosferatu's stem from one of his original childes.
  • Ravnos: Zapathasura awoke insane with the pain from the death of his children at the hands of the Kuei-jin. This event caused the Week of Nightmares and ended with Zapathasura being destroyed by concentrated sunlight (from satellites) after surviving spiritual nukes and destroying three Bodhisattvas.
  • Saulot: Tricked Tremere into diablierizing him in which he took over Tremere’s body in 1133 CE. Last rumors place him at Hunedoara Castle pretending to be a servant.
  • Toreador: Arikel is currently thought to be awake and residing in Greece.
  • Tremere: The soul of Tremere resides in the body of his childe Goratrix (while Goratrix soul is confined in a mirror) since 1133 CE. Goratrix is trying to lead those Tremere that followed him to rebuild the pyramid after the destruction of the Chantry in Vienna by the hands of the Second Inquisition.
  • Troile: Troile descended into the Earth in the arms of Moloch to hide from the Romans where they salted the earth and performed a ritual to trap them there. Though, in recent nights, there is evidence that they have been moved and reside under the
  • Tzimisce: Was allegedly diablierized by Lugoj at the start of the Anarch Revolt but it was discovered that the Eldest faked his own diablerie and eventually when into torpor. In the modern nights, the Eldest body was brought to New York where he awakened, shed his giant flesh crafted body, and is now on the search for his siblings to find answers.
  • Ventrue: The clan Ventrue claim that their founder Veddartha was ambushed and killed by Brujah on the outskirts of the Second City.

Interesting Rumors of the Night

  • Arula: There is four beings who lay in torpor in Enoch, who may or may not be members of the Third Generation. Their names are Al-Mahri, Loz, Nergal, and Ninmug.  

Friday, April 2, 2021

Review: Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise


This is the big follow up release of Cha'alt and just like the original, production values are very high and there were only 1,000 released of  the deluxe physical copies. Cha'alt Malaise continues with the themes of the gonzo fantasy/science fiction/Heavy Metal/Gamma World with a dash of Cthulhu on a Dune world but goes a step further and advances the timeline from the original events of Cha'alt by eighteen months. This is going to be a review with a different structure as Cha'alt Fuchsia Malaise is a beast of its own.

For a disclaimer, I was given a pdf/physical copy of this book for review purposes. 

Presentation: Between the hardback slip covered book you get 230 pages of full color printed on paper stock that reminds me of one of those coffee table art books. All of the art and maps that is included takes up an entire page or two page spread with purple-ish alien language and symbols and generously placed in the book to keep the theme going. It is type set in two columns with some tables taking up a full page. This is all typeset against a parchment style background which does not make it hard to read. Though, it would be hell on your printers. 

Essentials: This section deals with the basics. It includes information on the races of Cha'alt and gives you all kinds of useful tables. The tables lean towards referee utility but this is some great tables for players and all of the tables have plenty of inspiration. There is the usual fair such as morale, alignment, NPCs, Loyalty, Hirelings, and reaction but others such as disguise, enamored, social hierarchy, death is not the end, Cha'alt names, dehydration, how to use this NPC, backgrounds, and many others. These tables are set up on d6s, d8s, d12s, d20s, and even a d100. These tables do not always follow traditional thinking and some of them are setting specific. I think one of my favorite aspects in this book is one that is a list of suggestions.

This list is Murder-Hobo regrets. It is basically used when a player does something murder hobo like, etc. The list has basically repentance on in the ranges from saying a prayer for the fallen, notifying their next of kin, killing one of their enemies, etc. 

City of A'agrybah: The next sections details the Golden City. It goes into detail about its history, politics, a day in the life,  noble houses, places of interest, a d100 table for unlikely events, plot seeds to go to the city/be inside the city, and a few other pieces of information. The section provides enough information to help the GM build the city but it is not overwhelming.

Encounters: In this section, there is a few encounter tables, Fuchsia Putrescence, traveling at night, the meteorite, clown worms, sub ways, galactic tyrants, and some sorcery. 

Scenarios: This section offers three different scenarios/adventures. The first one is Fuchsia Flesh Pit, which is an experiment of a wizard that is recently deceased. The girl that beckons the party came to this flesh pit looking for the other half of the glove she stole from the wizard, but she had to realize that it's dangerous to go alone: there are tentacles, mutant clams, evil cultists, a whispering elder monstrosity, and other gonzo stuff within the organic pit. She tries to persuade the party into coming down and helping her out, after which she would try to betray them and leave with the treasure. 

Tower of Vromka-ad, is the home of the dead wizard that created the flesh pit. Since Vromka'ad's death the servants have taken over, and are now busy bickering among themselves. There are twelve color coded rooms which could be reached by touching the corresponding orb in the entrance. Each room as its one focus point but there is not much else of note in the rooms. There are not a lot of servants and most of them are not worth messing with. There also is not a lot of treasure except for the room with the three warriors and some magic items. This easily ties into the Flesh Pits as a second location. 

Tomb of Va'an, Zayne: Va'an Zayne was a sorcerer and writer, whose tomb is mentioned a lot in the rumors tables. This tomb offers a good deal of interactivity combined with a bunch of unique NPCs. There is a writers circle right at the entrance, energy beings taunting cultists, a statue that can summon demon, etc. Another cool aspect is that the tomb is tied to Cha'alt's metaplot in a couple of ways. These type of details are always nice and some of my favorite. The place was raided by Tha'anos recently and there are revelations about the true nature of the Old Ones and the planet's future.

Elysium:  This describes a floating station in the sky that was built by aliens. It starts off talking about the different aliens, factions, security systems, personnel, and politics. Then the section opens up into a room by room description and there are 56 of them. There is a lot going in this station and a lot of NPCs have their own agendas. There are also connections that that party can discover about the over arching meta plot which are Easter eggs on crack. Elysium is a pretty opened ended location set up as a very large dungeon and the party can pick up various plot points, blow up the whole thing, set up shop, and so on.

S'kbah Pilgrimage: This is an event on Cha'alt due to a series of unfortunate events. This effects the setting of Cha'alt and the players can interaction with it or not but interacting with it is the only sure way to affect the course of events. This provides numerous locations with moving parts.

Appendixes: This section includes the complete rules of Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Revised, Cha'Alt Ascended, and Old School Renaissance like a Fucking Boss. The very pieces of crunch that exist around Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise are designed to sue with Crimson Dragon Slayer Revised. 

Final Thoughts: I think the art and layout is great on top of Fuchsia Malaise offering a ton of setting information to Cha'alt. It really expands on the world and advances the world (various plot points) by eighteen months. It does this advancement well and it does not feel heavy handed.

I was really hoping that the City of A'agrybah (this section was the part I was looking forward to the most) was going to get the same treatment as the Black Pyramid did in the original Cha'alt release but it did not. I really wanted to see a city location within Cha'alt to get the mega dungeon treatment with locations, NPCs, adventure hooks, countless reasons to keep returning to the city, and enough intrigue where the campaign would never need to leave that location. Having a city set up this way with all of the weirdness, gonzoness, and flavor that Cha'alt has to offer would have really sent this release over the top. Regardless of this, we do still get a solid foundation with various locations, some tables, notable NPCs, notable royal houses, and a few other story aspects. I just think it fell short of its potential. 

The S'kbah Pilgrimage is an interesting event that spans a good chunk of Cha'alt with plenty of story seeds and ways the party could interact with it. It also gives a good amount of setting information. This could be set up where the players could interact with it at various points of its progression which I think is a very clever idea. Though, the chain of events feels rushed and I think this could have been expanded upon as it is part of the meta plot.

I feel like the author set up Elysium to be the apex of this release for its "mega dungeon". At 56 rooms it does accomplish this in size and scope but I am glad it does not have the mega dungeon feel. Elysium feels more like a neutral location that has its own plot points and moving parts. It almost feels like the party is takes a trip to Alpha Blue but it is has nothing to do with Alpha Blue - I am just talking about the open ended feel of the location. This whole section is written with hints of the sense of humor found in the works of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. I personally appreciate this but your mileage may very.

This release adds a lot of the original Cha'alt release and it was a lot of fun to read cover to the cover.

You can find it here;


 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Detroit Suck City: Episode 16

 

The crew recovers from the battle as dark starts to fall in the burn. The crew decides to check out one of the industry buildings to camp for the night. As they search the building, they find a bunch of burnt up equipment, engines, a communicator box, and some kind of wheeled chair. In one of the main doorways, the crew comes across an old man that looks like he was beat up pretty bad and after a paranoid standoff it was determined that the old man was not a threat. After  some continued conversation the old man asks for help and waves toward the shadows and out come some women, children, and a few other older adults. The leader of this new group explains how the Star People destroyed their village and they are all of the survivors. The crew decides that they should share the space and Wilhelm takes the first watch by jumping on his Po Dog and conducting an area check. 

Early the next morning the crew decides to continue their trek towards the river and 9s attached his hover bike to the busted hover van in an effort to conserve proof. As the day wears in the crew comes to an area that appears to be a sea of junk. The Po Dog growls and refuses to move forward. As the crew dismounts to investigate what is aggravating the Po Dog, large pseudo pods erupt from the sea of junk and start to swing wildly around before the main mass rises out of the ground which appears to be a gelatinous mound with a face that  looked like someone took a blowtorch to Spongebob. Wilhelm reacts first to this threat and throws one of the mysterious grenades that he has picked up. The grenade hits center mass and sinks into the bulk of the creatures body as it continues to swing its pseudo pods around to grab some of the crew members. Luckily for the nimble crew no one gets snatched up and as they prepare for another barrage they hear a muffled explosion and the gelatinous creature expands like a balloon before collapsing in on itself (and the newly created crater) which sends junk and chunks of go flying. Wilhelm quickly realized that the grenade he through was a Tor grenade which basically designated the creatures lower 2/3s. 


As Wilhelm is congratulating the Po Dog the crew hears engines in the distance and decides to set up an ambush. They barely have enough time to place their beat up van in the middle of the road to act as a block and find hiding places before it sounds like the engines are right on them. The crew witnesses a procession of motorcycles, some cars, a few trucks, and a tanker that all had the red death symbol painted on them. With a few quick glances from their respective ambush positions, the crew decides to lay low and them pass. 

The crew continues on without much incident until they come over a large rise and in the distance they see a tower with a blinking red light. As Wilhelm confirms this with his binoculars, the crew decides to mark its location for later investigation. They were hired for a job and need to see it through. The crew decides to camp in the brush of the ridge as it offers a good vantage point. 

The next day the crew continues the journey towards the river and decide to zig zag between the buildings for cover. As they are rounding one of these corners they run into some very large lizard like people riding six legged horsed that are pulling a cart. Both parties look surprised but Wilhelm raises his hand in an hello fashion and 9s explains that they do not look immediately hostile and we should just pass them slowly. As the two traveling parties gets closer, Wilhelm waves at them and asks, "How goes it"? The lizard people respond in a language that does not sound overly friendly as they grip their weapons but do not draw them. 9s whispers steady to the rest of the crew. Both sides keep an eye on each other until they are both are out of sight.

As few miles down the road the crew is able to see the river and they spot a boat in it as well. The crew halts and sends Wilhelm to scout ahead. After sometime Wilhelm returns and explains to the rest of the crew that just over the next hill there is a dock with a man that runs a ferry which appears to be a lucrative business as there is a small line of farmers and people trying to peddle their wares down there. Wilhelm goes on to explain that people have been vanishing and there is a factory where people go in but never come out.  The crew makes their way to the ferry and on their crossing they end up buying a goat from one of the farmers. By the time they trek up the bank it is getting dark and they decide to seek shelter in one of the partially collapsed buildings that line the river. As dark falls, the crew enjoys some fire roasted goat courtesy of 9s and does their best to relax.

Just another day in Detroit Suck City...


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

HAWT: Something Wicked This Way Comes

I have worked on many projects throughout my time as a gamer. Most of them have been various home brew projects but over the last ten years I have been listed as a play tester in numerous publications, been mentioned as a special consultant in others, I have done a decent amount of freelance work, and even published games under my own gaming company. Each project I have worked on I have been passionate about. 

Though, about six months ago I was working on another project but inspiration hit me from reading an old forum post. This project, Have Axe, Will Travel is probably the most excited I have been about a gaming project I have ever been.

Have Axe, Will Travel is a rules light fantasy game that has an implied setting through the art, magic, and various writings. It uses a 2d6 system for its core resolution because there is something about the primal simplicity of a couple of d6s. 

It will include the following:

  • Free Form Character Creation
  • Advantage/Disadvantage 
  • Elemental Magic
  • Inventory System
  • Equipment Lists
  • Bestiary
  • Discourses on Gaming Theory 
  • 9+ Art Pieces
 There are more updates and sneak peaks to come. Stay tuned!

 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Motley Crew: Session 1


The party has been recently hired into the famous mercenary band of the Flaming Fists that help the city guard of Baldur's Gate with the day to day operation of the city. They were placed in the same squad and have been working together for a couple of weeks. Though, recently the city is plagued by refuges from the outside that are fleeing a destroyed town and panic on the inside as people talk about how Baldur's Gate could be next. 

The party is standing with the rest of their comrades as they try to keep the peace because people in Baldur's Gate want out of the city and the refugees want in the city.  The party witnesses Capt. Zogg and a good number of Flaming Fists wade into the crowd to disperse it as it was starting to get agitated. Theren decides to stand back and watch the events unfold as Garrick and Tonic wades into the crowd throwing pushing, shoving, and cracks whips to get the populace to disperse. Merrick stands on an overturned cart and gives a moving speech on how people need to return to their homes and let the professionals work on the situation.

As the crows starts to disperse, one of the Flaming Fists knocks down a peasant and picks up his coin purse and mutters some obscenities mixed in with a thank you. Garrick sees this and summons a whip made out of water to ensnare the hand with the coin purse which causes the mercenary to drop it. Garrick tells the peasant to take his money and go home as Garrick starts giving a lecture on duty. As this is happening Uthar steps forward, Tonic drops his hood to reveal is Drow nature, and before the situation could escalate any further Capt. Zogg moves towards the situation and orders Garrick to release his the mercenary and Garrick complies begrudgingly. The party explains their side and Capt. Zogg yells back at there are bigger things to worry about and before the argument could get out of hand  Merrick explains that they were sent by some people in government to Capt. Zogg for a special assignment. 


Capt. Zogg shakes his head and takes a deep breath. He then goes on to explain that the Cult of the Dead Three have taken root in the city and that he has a person that is an undercover informant by the name of Tarina that could point is in the right direction.

Tonic explains to his fellow companions that he knows the place well and it is no place for the faint of heart. The party soon finds themselves in the smokey room of the Elfsong Tavern where all the furniture is bolted down and this is mean looking female half ogre and a suit of armor standing at opposite ends if the room (the main bouncers). Tonic blows the half ogre a kiss and slaps on the patrons on the shoulder and asks, "How is the arm healing?"

After sometime the part finds Tarina upstairs playing some dice and Tonic eagerly joins the game. After a few games Uthar leans close to Tarina and whispers that Capt. Zogg sent them. Tarina and Zogg remove themselves from the circle of the dice players as Tonic continues to throw a few more rounds and the rest of the party spreads out to keep an eye on as much as the bar as possible. After some time Uthar returns from his meeting and passes the word around that Tarina will not give us the information we need until this evening. We are free to wait at the tavern or come back as long as we are back before sunset. The party grumbles and Tonic tells Merrick that he has some pending business he needs to take care of and will return before sunset. 

The rest of the part decides to wait at the tavern and enjoy some food and drink and take up various positions around the tavern to avoid any surprises as Garrick finds a place where he can look out one of the few windows (they tend to get broken). Late in the afternoon the pale figure of the ghost elf appears (where the tavern gets its namesake) and starts singing a dirge. After the ghost sings a few more songs she vanishes and the party listens to the political, conspiracy theory, and obscene stories from the patrons. 

Shortly after the sun starts to set eight people walk into the bar that are obviously pirates. The leader as an eye patch and offers a flagon of ale and some coin to anyone who can direct them to Tarina. Theren takes his flagon of ale and walks up the stairs without saying a word. One of the pirates with a peg leg slaps one of the patrons on the back to try to get information about Tarina and as the patron is about to speak Merrick takes a few steps forward and asks, "Isn't it a little early for the rats to be off their barges?". The pirates do not take kindly to this and send of their men with weapons drawn towards Merrick and Garrick responds by taking a few steps back and throwing an ice knife at one of the approaching pirates which explode on contact and shows some of the pirates with ice shrapnel. Merrick takes advantage of the distraction and trips one of the pirates that got to close to him with his halberd. The pirate with the eye patch yells, "so you want to do this the hard way?" and motions more of his men  to charge forward. Theren from the top floor drops one of the pirates with a Firebolt, Merrick catches one of the pirates with his halberd, Garrick exchanges blows with another one, and Uthar charges another pirate with his great sword and ends up cutting him in half. The pirate yells over the chaos, "I am Deadeye!" and charges into the fray swing his scimitar which bites deeply into Merrick, Garrick continues to tangle with his foe, and Merrick is able to break skin on Dead Eye to try to create some space between the two. Theren who still has the high ground, throws down some Magic Missile that makes some of the pirates yelp in pain. Dead Eye, continues his onslaught and drops Merrick and Garrick. 

Tonic kicks in the tavern door and fires some arrows into the pirate that was engaged with Uthar and says to his fellow friends, "How rude, starting a party without me!". Uthar cuts down another pirate before he is dropped by Dead Eye and Theren throws an ice knife which ends another pirates life. Tonic keeps up his barrage of arrows as Dead Eye quickly realizes that it is just him and one of his men left. The remaining pirate also realizes this and makes a run for it as Theren stands up on the balcony and starts waving his hands in the air and saying magic words. Dead Eye takes cover behind an upturned table and says, "I will pay you more then you can imagine for Tarina, bring her to me at the docks, I think you are the only one with any intelligence here". Dead Eye then sprints for the door and takes a partying shot from Tonic which the arrow bites deep into his hip and it does not slow Dead Eye down. 

Tonic decides to take chase of Dead Eye as the rest of the party tries to assess the situation that just unfolded. 

After sometime, Tonic returns dragging Dead Eyes body with him and places a handful of jewelry in Merricks hands. In the aftermath, the party realizes that Garrick did not survive his encounter with Dead Eye and the party pays for use of one of the private rooms to try to talk as the bar staff moves quickly to clean up the mess. Tonic passes some coin to the bartender and says he is sorry for the mess as he enters the room the rest of the party went in to. Merrick holding his head, quickly corners Tonic and an heated argument enures about his whereabouts and if he was around then Garrick might still be alive - Tonic during the lecture shrugs his shoulders and mouths "Scoundrel". During this argument, Theren notices a note slipped under the door and starts to read it. The note is signed by Tarina and explains that suspected members of the cult are seen going in and out of a certain bath house at night but it operates normally during the day. 

The party takes a few days to recover and one of those days, a bright eye recruit with papers from Capt. Zogg shows up at the Elfsong tavern and singles out Merrick who was eating breakfast. The young recruits name is Gabriel and in Zogg's letter, he offers his condolences at their loss but understands that they will need all the help the can get. After Gabriel is introduced to everyone over some ale and breakfast they decide to head to the spa in the morning and see what they can find. They have badges and writs of authority to act under Flaming Fist business even though they were advised to leave their uniforms behind. 

The party makes their way to the bathhouse and inspects the outside for any type of secret entrance as mentioned in Tarina's note. As they enter the bath house they see some people enjoying the baths and are approached by one of the workers asking if the need help. Uthar flashes his badge and explains they are on Flaming Fist business and are looking for someone that is wanted. The party continues their investigation and ends up corning two masseuses in the back rooms as Tonic gets a hint that one of his not being honest with their questions about the foot traffic they have seen. Tonic pulls out a rope and explains that we can do this the hard way or the easy way. Merrick sees this interaction and jumps to explain that the employees look sick and need to take the day off and offers them all some gold if they close early. During this interaction Theren finds a hidden door in one of the back rooms and announces that to the party. The guilty masseuse quickly says that all she knows is people at night come and go and their only task is to keep business running as normal. 

The party makes sure the everyone exits the building (who has not already) and locks up the place. After a quick conversation they decide to head down in the tunnels with Tonic taking a lead position to scout ahead. The party walks through the dark tunnels for awhile before coming to three doors, each of the doors depicts one of the Dead Three on them. Tonic opens the door to the left and finds that the path quickly descends into ankle deep muck and the path on the right does the same. Tonic with the rest of the party close behind him at this point opens the middle door to find three people in black robes laying on the ground in a triangle with a torch in the middle. Tonic does not hesitate and stabs two of them before anyone else can react. Merrick and some of the other party members are distracted by their shock as the third cultist in a black robe stands up and starts to cast a spell as the one of them on the ground tries to take a swing at Tonic from the ground with a spiked skull flail. The cultists fall quickly to Merricks and Tonics blades as Merrick turns to Tonic and yells, "What if they were disguised prisoners or something?". Tonic once again shrugs his shoulders and mouths "Scoundrel" before he explains out loud that he prefers to live to enjoy life.

___________________________________________________________________________________

PLAYERS THOUGHTS: There was a lot of good interaction in this session and it was great how the different players approached different problems. The bar fight was really interesting as I did not think my character would be gone that long on my unfinished business (which ended up being a assassination mission by a chance of the die that the DM rolled). The mission was successful with a few complications. What also made the bar fight interesting is that a few people forgot about certain class and racial abilities as well as the DMs dice were hot! I think our DM must have rolled about 5-7 criticals. 

The shrugging my shoulders and scoundrel joke came into play as one of the players joked out of character about how Jack would look at his fellows whenever he did something underhanded and he would shrug and say "pirate". The joke stuck and my character adopted that stand but replaced the word pirate with scoundrel. 

I was really impressed with the player that played Garrick in his RP and how he took his character's death on the chin even when the DM gave him out to survive. The player decided to keep the death and roll up a new character. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Review: Mausritter

 

Mausritter is a game that popped up on the various Into the Odd fan groups/social media that I was interested in because I have been a long time fan of Redwall and Mouse Guard. Though, the timing was bad and it passed me by in the early stages. It started as a hack for Into the Odd but moved over to itch and quickly went from a handful of pages to having its own soul. I actually lost track of the game for awhile until someone brought it up and I found the community surrounding Mausritter. The community alone sold me on looking into the game. 

Disclaimer: A physical copy was provided to me for review/demo purposes. 

Presentation: Mausritter clocks in at a 43 page hardback book with mostly a two column layout. There are some areas (such as equipment, etc.) where the formatting becomes three columns. There is a generous amount of black and white pencil art, equipment drawings, and three pages of full page art. I think one of the more unique things about the this book is that the cover has a cutout into the interior page where you see an adventuring mouse. When you open the cover, you get a full black and white two page art spread. Another thing the formatting of Mausritter does is that the interior back cover has useful tables on it that actually starts on page 42. This trend (putting GM screen style information on the inside of the covers) is something I really appreciate and like. 

Character Creation: Character Creation follows these stews;

  1. Roll 3d6 (keeping the highest two dice) in order for Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower
  2. Roll d6 for your Hit Protection (HP)
  3. Roll d6 for your Starting Pips (Currency)
  4. Cross reference your starting HP with your starting Pips on the background table. This is what your mouse was before becoming an adventurer. This table provides 36 different options.
  5. Record Starting Equipment: Start with Torches, Rations, Two Items from the background, and a Weapon of your choice. 
  6. Roll or Choose birthsign, coat, and physical detail. 

Resolution: The core resolution system is a d20 roll under your attribute. If an action requires a roll or something your character is doing could result in something interesting happening, then roll a d20 and if it is equal to or under your attribute it is considered a success. During contested rolls, the lowest successful roll is the winner. 

Combat is resolved in the following steps:

  1. If you are not attacking unsuspecting foes then make a Dex save to act before your opponents. This sets the the initiative order.
  2. Attacks always hit
  3. Calculate damage by amount rolled minus any damage reduction from armor. Damage is dealt first to HP and then dealt to the Str attribute after there is no more HP
  4. Once Str damage is taken, the character must make an Str Attribute check with their current score (after damage). If this check fails, the character takes critical damage. This means that the character takes the injured condition and are incapacitated until tended to by an ally and take a short rest. If left unattended the character will die in 6 exploration turns. 
If an attack is hindered, then it does d4 damage (like firing through cover) and if an attack is enhanced (I have the high ground) it does d10 damage.


 Crunch: The core resolution mechanic covers most things but there are a few subsystems:

  • Advantage/Disadvantage: When a character has advantage they roll 2d20 and choose which one they want. When they have disadvantage, they roll 2d20 and the GM chooses which result.
  • Inventory: Each character has a right/left paw slots, two body slots, and what amounts to six backpack slots. Items fill in the various slots and some items require a certain slot to be used. Every items usually has three usage levels and when those three levels are marked off then the item is either broken or all used up. Some items such as ammo, weapons, and armor have a usage die to be rolled on a d6 after a combat or similar situation. On a 4+ mark a usage. Other items such as rations you automatically mark a use after every meal and torches/lanterns you mark a use after every 6 turns. 
  • Spells: Runes are carved into clay tablets that house a spirit, these take an inventory slot.  TO cast a spell, the character holds the tablet and says the magic words. Then the player can choose how many dice to invest (up to the maximum amount of usage) for each dice that comes up a 4+, mark a usage. The effect of the spell is depends on the number of [Dice] invested and the [Sum] of the results. When a clay tablets last usage is marked, it becomes inert and must be recharged. Each spell has its own way that it needs to be recharged. Whenever one or more 6s are rolled, the caster takes d6 Wil for each 6 result - this is considered a miscast.
  • Time: Time is broken up into three different segments. A round is used for combat and it is less then a minute. Turn is a timescale used for an adventuring site and is about 10 minutes. Each turn is enough time to explore a room or perform an action or two.Watch is a time scale used for wilderness travel. Each watch is 6 hours and there four watches in a day. It usually takes a sing watch to travel a single hex (or about a mile). 
  • Conditions: There are various conditions that a mouse can gain. Conditions take up a slot in inventory and if your inventory is full then an item gets replaced with the condition. Each different condition has their own requirements for removal. 
  • Rest and Healing: There a three ways to heal and recover. A short rest takes a turn and with a swig of water you can regain 1d6+1 HP. A Long rest takes a watch and with some sleep and a meal will restore all HP. If HP is full, heal d6 to an attribute. A Full rest takes a weak back in safety and will heal all attributes, HP, and remove long term conditions. 
  • Pips: Are the currency of the realms. A mouse can carry 250 pips in their pockets etc. before they need a Pip Purse which takes up an inventory slot and allows an additional 250 pips to be carried. In most settlements, their are banks that can store pips (for a fee at withdrawal) and a lot of settlements are more then happy to barter.

Final Thoughts:  Mausritter is a fun game that really took the Into the Odd core mechanic/character creation and turned it into something unique. I am also a big fan of the theme of this game. Unlike other games the deal with woodland creatures, Mausritter is about mouse sized mice vs. the world and the world is a very big and dangerous place. This really adds a sense of wonder to the setting and the game play. 

I am also a very big fan of the inventory system. I think it is genius and really plays into the OSR idea of resource management. It is simple, intuitive, and is almost its own mini game inside the game. The PDF comes with item sheets that can cut out and used to save writing and the sheet itself. There are also blank tiles for people to make up their own items. 

I also enjoy how the magic works, it adds to the setting and helps keep the magic feeling well magical. 

Mausritter also has a very strong GM section with some great tools and advice. In the back there is a tables to generate hexes and you end up with a great adventuring area with plot hooks that could be easily expanded or you could have multiple of these sites over a large area. 

Now, for those that do not have any experience with Into the Odd or Electric Bastionland, the line about how attacks auto hit. Do not let this discourage you, it is a feature not a bug. Mausritter and other games that use this core mechanic really want you to think of more creative ways to solve problems or overcome obstacles then just trying to solve everything with a sword. Plus it makes drawing said sword serious business. It has really changed how I view HP. 

I think this game is good and fun for all ages. Though, with that being said it can be deadly and for younger children I would suggest after character creation adding some additional HP. 

One of the best things about this game is the community, they are all very supportive and there is a ton of fan content and 3rd party releases out there that the inspiration is limitless. I would highly recommend getting involved with community. 

The game can be found here:

The box set (which includes the core book, item sheets, Honey in the Rafters Adventure, character sheet pad, and the GM screen is currently sold out. There is rumors of more box sets being produced but it will not be for sometime.  

Community Links:

These two Kickstarters funded recently but I highly suggest following them as I believe both are going to offer pre-order options through backerkit. 


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Motley Crew: Session 0

 

After a series of unfortunate events (the quarantine, jobs, life, etc) stopped my local group from gaming outside of a few one shots ran by various members, we were able to get a Dungeons and Dragons 5e Campaign off of the ground.

After some discussion, the GM decided to run Descent into Avernus. So, this is everyone's one and only SPOILER WARNING! If anyone reading this plans to play in this campaign or is playing in it, there will be spoilers in the play reports. 


Without further ado, I will introduce our adventurers!

Garrett (H): Garrett is a Human Druid. Garrett is a folk hero who gives aid to those who can not help themselves. Originally from the deep north, Garrett escaped just ahead of a hunting party; he promised to return and free his people. Garret has a good heard and will not stand for any wrong done in his presence.
 

CAUSE OF DEATH: The sword of the Pirate Dead Eye in Elfsong Tavern during Session 1...

Merrick (B): Merrick Hawklin is a Human Paladin, of the Corymr Hawklins. Rough edged, but humble and down to earth despite his noble upbringing. Merrick acted as a local constable for a many years before succumbing to the need to fighter the bigger good fight which led him to putting in for an replacement. He hopes to earn the right to join the Purple Dragoons of Cormyr.


Theren (M): Theren Silverstar is a young Elf Wizard who just turned 100. His clan was slaughtered by orcs. He gathers experience and fame to fortify civilization’s edge, as a base of operations to take the fight back to the orcs. Theren is a practical and prudent man, using his skills and peoples ignorance to the best of his abilities. 



Tonic (T): Many years ago, a Drow trading post was raided under false pretense and just about all were killed. One of the Knights found a Drow baby and could not bring himself to kill it. So, he took it home and the Knight and his Wife raised the Drow child. During this time, the child was educated, trained in combat by his adopted father, and was basically the village secret as the drow child became known by the nickname of Tonic and was well liked by most. During Tonic's young adult years, the local lord found out about a village harboring a Drow and made a lot of threats and offered a lot of rewards to find who and where this Drow was. Tonic, to save his family and the village any trouble, left on his own to find his way in the world. 

Due to his lineage, Tonic ended up in a lot of fights and has plenty of scars to prove it. Tonic soon realized that people of a certain character and related jobs care a lot less what you look like as long as you do your job. This led Tonic down the road of being an enforcer for local guilds but eventually his dad's voice about honor crept back and he slightly altered his professional focus - he still thrives in the underground but works as a bounty hunter for whoever will pay. Regardless of this, Tonic is a logical man who has flexible morals but is loyal down to his last breath to his friends.

Bond/Flaw (Unknown to the rest of the Party): Before he found himself in Baldur's Gate, he once fell for a lady who didn't care about how he looked. Well, she fell victim to a mugging gone wrong and when Tonic returned to her city after a job to discover this fact, he tracked down the people that did it, killed them, and framed someone else for the crime.

 

Uthar (P): Uthar is a fighting Goliath that left his tribe as a young adult after a caravan stopped to trade for carouse for a week. Uthar saw all the glitter and glory that the wider world could offer. Uthar then spent a good amount of time working as a caravan guard and doing various mercenary work which lead him to Baldur's Gate. Uthar tends to get attention being 8 ft. tall and covered in tribal tattoos and scars from countless battles.
 


Gabriel: Gabriel made his living as a tracker, hunter, and teaching rich overfed nobles how to rough it in the woods. After a particular pompous noble decided to make Gabriel's life a living hell after a suffering a stupidity induced injury, Gabriel decided to get out of that business and started to travel from village to village and hunting for them. This eventually led Gabriel to Baldur's Gate where mercenary work become his only option for income. Gabriel was sent by Capt. Zogg to reinforce a particularly Motley Crew....
 


These people found themselves at Baldur's Gate for different reasons and each one have been within the Baldur's walls for various amounts of time. They well recruited into the Flaming Fists and were put together into a squad. They have been working together for weeks...