Friday, May 15, 2020

Bunnies and Burrows: Risus Edition


Bunnies and Burrows was a game that came out in the 80's from Fantasy Flight Games and was actually revolutionary for its time. It was one of the first games to have a skill system. Anyway, I did a conversion of it using Risus awhile back and I figured I would share.

Character Creation

Standard Character Creation: 10 dice per core rules

Special Character Creation Bonus: Due to the very fortunate nature of rabbits, they all begin play with three Lucky Shots at no cost.

New Clichés:

  • Warren Watch (being big and tough, protecting the Warren)
  • Hoplite (being Swift, scouting ahead)
  • Engineer (inventing simple contraptions, understanding human machinery)
  • Seer* (using ESP, having scary dreams)
  • Empathetic Healer* (healing other rabbits wounds)
  • Herbalist* (identifying plants, preparing snuffballs)
  • Storyteller* (telling entertaining tales, enthralling whoever is listening)
  • Bun Fu Martial Artist* (doing cool moves, beating up enemies)
  • Maverick (living alone, wondering around)
  • Bunny King (ruling all other rabbits, eating a lot of food)
  • General (head of the Efrafa, militant, strong)
  • Captain ( answers only to the General of the Efrafa, brave, loyal)
  • Rabbit (being fast, skittish, and generally rabbit like)
* Can be Double Bumped


Encounters

Wondering Encounters: The wilderness is a scary place and other animals besides rabbits occupy it. When a rabbit(s) is outside, above ground, and unhidden wondering encounters are more frequent and could possibly be encounters with predators. When a rabbit(s) is concealed and above ground encounters happen less frequent and when the rabbit(s) are safely tucked in their burrows at night wondering encounters are very rare. The GM makes the roll in secret and the implements the effects in game. (This is a GM tool and can be used as needed). This is accomplished in the following order;

Occupant Encounters As rabbits explore the world they come across traps, manmade structures, and other environmental features. As rabbits go exploring the GM can make a roll on the following table to cause a random environmental encounter of some kind (again, this is an optional GM tool). The GM rolls secretly the following table;

The Predatory Critters All predatory critters should have something along these stat lines.

Random Predator

- Random Predator Name [1-6]

- Secondary Cliché [1-4] (Optional)

- Third Cliché [1-3] (Optional)


Random Predator Swarms/Packs

- Random Predator Swarms/Pack Name [1-12]

- Secondary Cliché [1-6] (Optional)

- Third Cliché [1-4] (Optional)

Examples of Predators: Wild Dogs, Fox, Coyote, Dog, Wolf, House Cat, Bobcat, Cougar, Weasel, Ferret, Badger, Wolverine, Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Mongoose, Flying Wolves, Crow, Raven, Falcon, Harrier, Rough-Legged Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Great Horned Howl, Eagle, Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, Snapping Turtle, Scorpion, Tarantula, Black Widow, Water Spider, and Wasp Nest.


The Neutral Critters: The Neutral Critters follow the same rules as Predatory creatures except these creatures are not going to try to automatically harm the rabbits.
Examples of Neutral Animals: Vulture, Pheasant, Pigeon, Robin, Sparrow, Killdeer, Blackbird, Squirrel, Cow, Horse, Jackrabbit, Marmot, Armadillo, Mole, Garter Snake, Hog-Noses Snake, Tortoise, Lizard, Grasshopper, Beetle, Butterfly, Ant Nest, Dragonfly, Earthworm, Blue Jay, Grouse, Starling, Deer Mouse, Quail, Pack Rat, Porcupine, Opossum, Raccoon, Skunk, Salamander, Cicada, Moth/Caterpillar, Termite Nest, Honey Bee, Earthworm, Wild Pig, Centipede, Spider, Cockroach, Goose, Sea Gull, Heron, Duck, Beaver, Bull Frog, and Elk.

The Humans: Humans are usually big and scary and rabbits really do not understand them. Human stats should be tailored around the following example;

Farmer John

This human owns a lot of land and farms produce as well as own cows as well as chickens. He carries around a gun for foxes and other predators but has a soft spot for the rabbits as long as they stay out of the miss’s garden.

- Human [1-6]

- Old Quirky Farmer [1-5]

- Rusty Tractor Maker/Fixer [1-4]

Advanced Options

With these options in play, players can spend their character creation on something other than Clichés. Players can receive 3 Lucky Dice or 5 Questing Dice per 1 die of character creation die spent. Due to the lucky nature of rabbits, only one character creation dice can be spent on Lucky Shots, for a Maximum of 6.

Lucky Shot: Using a Lucky Shot boosts one of your Clichés by one die per Lucky Shot used. This can give you just the amount of edge or the “luck” on an important roll. Your Lucky Shots recharge between game sessions but cannot be hoarded.

Questing Dice: Questing Dice are Lucky Shots with a focus. They are less flexible because they are tired to a character personal quest, a specific mission, a burning passion or hatred, and a love that defines them. Characters that are not on a specific quest should not be allowed to use questing dice and cannot be used for something broad. They can only be used to boost in anything standing in the way to the characters personal quest.

With Hooks and Tales in play, the player can bargain with the GM for extra character creation dice after giving his character a Hook and/or a Tale.

Hooks: A hook is some significant character flaw - an obsession, a weakness, a sworn vow, a permanent crippling injury - that the GM finds so juicy and will use it to make the characters life more interesting or more difficult. This is worth one extra die.

Tales: A “tale” is a written biography describing his/her life before the events of the start of the game. The tale does not need to be long, a few pages or so. This is worth one extra die.



Lupine Glossrry


Bob-Stones: A traditional game among rabbits.
The Crixa: The center of Efrafa, at the crossing point of two bridle paths
Efrafa: The name of the warren founded by General Woundwort
El-Ahrairah: The rabbit folk hero. The name (Elil-hrair-rah) means “Enemies-Thousand-Prince” = The Prince of a Thousand Enemies.
Elil: Enemies of Rabbits
Embleer: Stinking (Ex. The smell of fox)
Flay: Food (Ex. Grass or other fodder)
Flayrah: Usually good food such a lettuce or carrots.
Frith: The sun, personified as a God by rabbits. Frithrah! = The Lord Sun, used as an exclamation.
Fu Inle: After Moonrise
Hlao: Any dimple or depression in the glass, such that as that formed by a daisy plant or thistle, which can also hold moisture. Also the name of a rabbit.
Hlao-roo: “Little Hlao”. An affectionate diminutive of the name Hlao.
Hlessi: A rabbit living above ground, without a regular hole or warren. A wondering rabbit living in the open. (Plural, Hlessil).
Homba: A fox. (Plural, hombil).
Hrair: A great many, an uncountable number, any number above 4. U Hrair = The Thousand Enemies.
Hrairoo: “Little Thousand”. The name of Fiver in Lapine
Hraka: Droppings, excreta
Hrududu: A tractor, car, or any other motor vehicle.
Hyzenthlay: Literally, “Shine-dew-fur” = fur shining like dew. The name of a doe.
Inle: Literally, the moon; also moonrise. But a second meaning carries the idea of darkness, fear, and death.
Lendri: A Badger
Marli: A doe, also carries the meaning mother.
M’saion: “We meet them”
Narn: Nice, pleasant (to eat).
Ni-Frith: Noon.
Nildro-hain: “Blackbirds Song.” A name of a doe.
Owsla: The strongest rabbits in the warren, the ruling cliché.
Owslafa: The council police. (A word found only in the Efrafa).
Pfeffa: A cat.
Rah: A prince, leader, or chief rabbit. Usually used as a suffix. (Ex. Threarah = Lord Threar).
Roo: Used as a suffix to donate diminutive. (Ex. Hrairoo).
Sayn: Groundsel
Silf: Outside, that is, not underground.
Silflay: To go above ground and feed. Literally, to feed outside. Also used as a noun.
Tharn: Stupefied, distraught, hypnotized with fear. But can also, in certain contexts, mean “looking foolish” or again “heart-broken” or forlorn.
Thethuthinnang: “Movement of Leaves”. The name of a doe.
Thlay: Fur.
Thlayli: “Fur-headed”. A nick name.
Threar: A rowan tree, or mountain ash.
Vair: To excrete, pass droppings.
Yona: A hedgehog.
Zorn: Destroyed, murdered. Denotes a catastrophe.

SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT BUNNIES...

  • Rabbits can only count to 4, anything higher than that is simply “a lot”.
  • Rabbits hands are different than yours and mine.
  • Rabbits have a lot of enemies and they all should have a lot of dice.
  • Rabbits cannot understand human language. 
  • Rabbits can make small backpacks or “side” bags to hold small items in.

This also includes tables (for GM and Player use), sample characters, and cliche descriptions.

Some additional resources and references;

  1. The Original Fantasy Flight Games Bunnies and Burrows
  2. Bunnies and Burrows GURPS
  3. Third Edition of Bunnies and Burrows (This looks really amazing but I do not know anything about it). There is also a "lite" version.
  4. Red of Tooth (A rules lite bunnies game)
  5. The Warren (A powered by the apocalypse bunnies game)
I cannot forget to mention that these games were probably inspired by Watership Down by Richard Adams and this is basically required reading for anyone wanting to run a game like Bunnies and Burrows. To be honest, it is a great book in general and well worth a read regardless of your gaming preferences.


I will also recommend reading Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams. This book does a great job at depicting the world of cats (all the characters are cats, etc.) and would help with the mindset of a Bunnies ans Burrows style of game.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Chronicles of Neverwhere: Rules of the House


As I continue work on my upcoming campaign that will be using The Black Hack Second Edition I have been working on some rules of the house. The Black Hack Second Edition is something I have had to tweak the least so that has been really nice. 

Anyway, without further ado, here is the rules of the house:


I have also decided to use a predetermined item cost list as this game is going to be run online and character creation has happened at different times with players and I losing the price lists I have rolled up. I basically took the price list from Old School Essentials and added black powder weapons. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Skittering Horrors of Terror


We have all encountered countless monsters and NPS's that have been truly the stuff of nightmares. There are a few that stand out to me that truly make me which makes me want to make my PC's run away. I have created a top five list of the most terrifying monsters to encounter.

This list is going to be focused on the fantasy genre of monsters and does not include situations, NPCs, and monsters or characters from World of Darkness or other games.

1. The Illithid - A.K.A. Mind Flayer


The Illithid is an very intelligent foe that posses various mental powers and has a complex society in the Underdark and other places. They are rarely if ever encountered by accident and they always are flanked by various slaves and mind controlled monsters for brute strength.

Their true horror is in their own natural abilities. The main being they can stun a foe and then extract its brain with their tentacled mouth and eat it. Though to be honest, it an encounter you either want try to appeal to their intellect (as they are hyper intelligent), win the fight, or retreat. My first encounter with Illithid's ended up with the party being captures and forced into their slave ranks. The party spent a lot of time planning their escape and creating allies (even with one of the Illithids) before a mostly successful escape was possible (there was one causality and the rest of the party was in bad shape). With that being said, that RP experience was a lot of fun. The Illithid have a pretty evocative ecology and sociology, I would highly recommend getting a copy of Lords of Madness.

2. The Gelatinous Cube


The cube has caused my TPK's then any other monster I have ever come across. It is basically invisible, does a solid amount of acid damage, and engulfs those who fight it. Once engulfed the victim can't breath, is considered restrained, and takes acid damage every turn as they are basically being digested. Others can attempt to pull the person out but they are subject to damage when doing this. The 3.x and older versions had a paralysis effect to make them even more deadly. In 5th edition of Dungeons an Dragons they lost their paralysis ability but it does not make them any less deadly. This is a great breakdown of the Gelatinous Cube through the ages.

3. The Rust Monster


The Rust Monsters ability to eat any metal is more terrifying then its bite. With a mere touch of its feelers it can turn armor, weapons, etc. to rust which it will then devour. Even enchanted metals are not safe. I have lost some great weapons and armor to this scourge of the realms. 



The stench of death follows this monster around and that alone in the dark is enough to set anyone on edge. If that was not enough alone, they possess the ability to climb and are perfect ambush predators. What makes them truly horrifying is their poisonous bite that causes paralysis and the purpose for this makes it worse as they want bodies to lay their eggs in. For me, what adds the additional "nope" factor is that they remind me of the creatures in Star Wars that negate and eat the force around them (I cannot remember what they are called but they are in the book Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter for sure. 



These are not a specific creature but a DM named Tucker ran an encounter with a tribe of Kobolds the took up resident on the first level of a dungeon. This tribe was not the usual cannon fodder of monsters just standing there waiting to be murdered, they were actually prepared! This made them a living and breathing aspect of the dungeon which gave the dungeon and the kobolds personality with dimension (because lets face it, all kinds of things happen in the dark places of the world when the players are not around). These kobolds laid traps, snipped them with crossbows through murder holes with planned escaped routes, through molotav cocktails over burning barricades that they pushed around with pikes, they wore armor, used gorilla warfare tactics, locked doors, etc. The level of preparedness can cause sheer panic in players who fear for their characters life and who have never encountered monsters that used terrain  to their advantage (and other tactics).

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Detroit Suck City: Episode 3



Note: The player who is portraying Auron did not make it to this session due to a previous engagement. 

As the crew slept and rotated guard the night passed without incident. The morning light found everyone looking through the Black Star lair again and dividing up the loot. 


The crew then headed out and cautiously made their way down the stairs, expecting an ambush at every turn. Surprisingly enough, the track out of the bridge was uneventful. As they made landfall their noses were assaulted by a foul smelling stench that could not be mistaken for anything else except rotting bodies. Ladmar made the suggestion of following their noses and the crew was in agreement. The smell seemed to be coming from inland and the easiest root would be to follow the rail road tracks. 

After some time traveling while eyeballing the treeline for any signs of aggression the smell got stronger and become almost unbearable as they approached a couple of rail cars. Jiminy took lead as crickets do not have noses and quickly discovered a rail car full of rotting bloated corpses that appeared to be half eaten.


Jiminy noticed that on top of this heap was a freshly dead body of a bald man that appeared to be well dressed. Jiminy pulled him out of the rail car for the rest of the crew to inspect. As Parrot, Gren, and Wilhelm were searching the body Jiminy and Ladmar stood by on guard. Wilhelm (and is the only one that can read) discovered a note on the body the preached about how mutants were an abomination and they need to enslaved and/or purged from this land. As Wilhelm shared this information with everyone conversation ensued about what this could mean and how wide spread this ideology is. 

During this conversation no one noticed the sounds of dirt moving and in an instant a giant six armed crab armed with two assault rifles erupted from the ground. 


Before anyone could act, the entire crew got caught in a hail of bullets and chaos ensued. Ladmar, Jiminey, and Wilhelm charged the crab as Gren and Parrot took cover behind the rail cars to take shots at it from a distance. They close encounter members of the crew dodged legs, claws, and random assault rifle fire as trying to hack off the crabs legs with the backup of their ranged support. The crab lost a few legs and flailed knocking over one of the rail cars the Parrot and Gren where using as cover - in a split second they both realized that it is safer to be in melee range of the crab and during the charge Gren took a face full of automatic rifle fire and dropped unceremoniously in the dirt. 

Wilhelm, Ladmar, and Jiminy where able to get under the lopsided crab (hard to walk with missing legs) and deliver deadly blows to the softer underside of the crab. The crew continued to pummel the crabs body in mulch until it stopped twitching. 

In the aftermath, the crew were able to burn the rail of bodies and added Gren to the pile. Then they pushed one of the rail cars as far away from the site of the carnage they could manage and took shelter in it to rest and recover from their wounds. 

This is where Episode 3 ended...



Friday, May 1, 2020

Mythbusters: OSR Edition Ch. 2


My post Regarding Character Death led me to write the post titled Mythbusters: OSR Edition which mostly focused on attributes at character creation and hit points. This latter post led to a lot of traffic and garnered a lot of feedback. Most of the feedback was positive but there were to common points that some people tried to make with me. 

The first point was that I was told to go look at OD&D and B/X as my book examples where from AD&D 1e. I stated in my original post that same game in the OSR are retro-clones that stay close to their source material outside of some minor re-organization, better clarifications, and maybe some sidebars for optional rules. There is nothing wrong with these games and they can be fun. 

The second point is what made me dive back into some research because it just made some things click. Anyway, there was some people that told me that starting characters were not meant to be heroic but they will become heroic at later levels.  

So after following the bouncy ball I realized that there is a third myth that permeates the OSR. This being the myth of...starting characters not being heroic because of rules as written.


Going back to the source material...

1. When David Arneson started his initial "Fantasy Game" using the Chainmail Fantasy rules, the players started as Heroes (equivalent to 4 normal men, or 4th level in D&D), and being able to progress up to Superheroes (as 8 men, or 8th level). With that ruleset, there simply weren't any other options for him to start with. (See: Gygax, Dragon #7, "The Origins of D&D".)

2. In 2002, Gary posted about some additional rules he used when he ran OD&D;

"Just a quick note to say I still DM some using the three booklets sans any of the additional supplements :wink: It is very much an exercise in free-wheeling game-mastering and roleplay, that. 

I do allow elven PCs to operate in both classes, F/MU, but Clerics don't get any spells at 1st level, just as the book says. 

As for skills, I just ask for a reasonable background for the character, then decide if the capacity is logical for that. then I use the closest stat likely for the skill, have the check made against that with 3d6. Old fashioned, yes, but it fits"
3. Then we can turn to the interview Robert Fisher did with Gary Gygax in 2005 about some games he ran. When Gary Gygax ran a games with OD&D he did not run them as written. It is extremely plausable that most of the games from the beginning were house ruled. His style of running games has become know as Gygaxian OD&D. These house rules were taken from Q&A's with Gary Gygax on Dragon's Foot and on En World.
  • Not using the supplements. Only the three little books.
  • Ability scores rolled as best 3 out of 4d6. Arrange scores to taste.
  • All PCs get 1d6 hp/level. HP rolls are rerolled on a 1.
  • Fighters get +1 HP/die. All PCs get +1 HP/die if Con > 14.
  • Fighters do +1 damage if Str > 14.
  • Dex doesn’t affect AC. (It does affect missile attack “to hit” rolls.)
  • PCs started at 3rd level.
  • PCs are unconscious at 0 hp. They can go as low as level +1 before death. (A 4th level fighter can be brought as low as -5 hp & just be unconscious.) A healing potion or cure spell restores them immediately.
  • 1d6 for surprise. 1=1 round. 2=2 rounds. 3 or more=no surprise.
  • PCs must declare actions before initiative. Casters must declare the specific spell being cast.
  • 1d6 for initiative. A tie means simultaneous.
  • A casting caster whose side loses initiative will lose his spell if hit.
  • No training necessary to gain a level.
  • To acquire new spells: Casters must find scrolls, spellbooks, or a friendly higher-level caster.
  • Clerics don’t need spellbooks. (The original books can be read to imply that they do.)
  • Gary IDs most magic items immediately (charging large sums of money when they return to town to rest & recuperate for this service). (This is because the players are anxious to get back into the dungeon & don’t want to bother with in-town adventures.) Potions must still be tasted to ID, though. Unusual items require a trip to the striped mage.
4. On en EN world post in early July 2007, Gary clarified that MUs with a 15 or better Int or Clerics with a 15 or better Wis a bonus 1st level spell slot. Thus, a Cleric can have one 1st level spell at 1st level.

 Dave Arneson’s Basement circa 1971. Dave Arneson’s role-playing group, consisting of Bill Hoyt, Duane Jenkins, Pete Gaylord, David Megarry et al. Photo by Arneson. (Photo: Dave Arneson, Dave Arneson Archive, curated by Paul Stormberg)

 5. Circa 2007, Gary talked about some of these rules (some of them overlap with above);
  • STR > 14: +1 to hit and +1 to damage if a Fighter
  • INT > 14: +1 1st level m-u spell
  • WIS > 14: +1 1st level cleric spell
  • DEX > 14: +1 to AC, and +1 to move silently
  • CON > 14: +1 HP per HD (same as a Fighter class gets, +2 if a Fighter)
  • CHA > 14: +1 (positive) on reaction checks
  • HPs: Characters are only unconscious at 0 HPs. For each level a character may have a minus HP total equal to the level, so a 1st level PC is dead at -2, a 2nd level at -3, etc.
  • When taking damage allow -1 HP per character level 
It is interesting to note that a lot of both Arneson and Gygax's house rules and/or play style revolved around character livability (especially at early levels). Another point to this was that because the capacity to take more hits for PCs; they get to assess whether they're in trouble/over their heads, flee, and fight another day. These rules also can make the game more fun, create more variations between characters, more chance to really get into the immersion of your character, so there is more stuff to do, less messing around in town recovering from wounds, researching spells, and id'ing items. Gary Gygax spent a lot of time iterating these points in articles in the first twenty issues or so of Dragon Magazine. In these articles he also spent a lot of time harping against critical hits and things of that nature. 

All of this really comes down to the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. If there are DM's and/or players out there that are convinced that the only way to game for them is rules as written (RAW) then they can play what they want and it does not bother me a bit. As long as they do not turn preachy about the "one true way". Though, I am pretty sure every time someone quotes RAW, a players dice betrays them. I can imagine these DM's quoting Judge Lex;


"Save that sh*t for the rookies. 20 years I've been gaming. You know what rules as written is, Dredd? It's a f***ing meat grinder. People go in one end, and meat comes out the other. All we do is turn the handle."
To further illustrate that I do not think the authors ever intended them to be played rules as written (with the caveat that people should understand the base rules before altering), I will turn to the three little brown books themselves.
"These rules are as complete as possible within the limitations imposed by the space of three booklets. That is, they cover the major aspects of fantasy campaigns but still remain flexible. As with any other set of miniatures rules they are guidelines to follow in designing your own fantastic-medieval campaign. They provide the framework around which you will build a game of simplicity or tremendous complexity — your time and imagination are about the only limiting factors, and the fact that you have purchased these rules tends to indicate that there is no lack of imagination — the fascination of the game will tend to make participants find more and more time. We advise, however, that a campaign be begun slowly, following the steps outlined herein, so as to avoid becoming too bogged down with unfamiliar details at first. That way your campaign will build naturally, at the pace best suited to the referee and players, smoothing the way for all concerned. New details can be added and old "laws" altered so as to provide continually new and different situations. In addition, the players themselves will interact in such a way as to make the campaign variable and unique, and this is quite desirable. If you are a player purchasing the DUNGEONS and DRAGONS rules in order to improve your situation in an existing campaign, you will find that there is a great advantage in knowing what is herein. If your referee has made changes in the rules and/or tables, simply note them in pencil (for who knows when some flux of the cosmos will make things shift once again!), and keep the rules nearby as you play. A quick check of some rule or table may bring hidden treasure or save your game "life".
Men & Magic (Vol. 1) details what characters can be played, potentials, limitations, and various magical spells. Monsters & Treasure (Vol. II) describes the beasts and creatures which will be encountered, as well as the kind and amount of treasure they are likely to guard, including magical items. Finally, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (Vol. Ill) tells how to set up and actually play the campaign. It is presented last in order to allow the reader to gain the perspective necessary — the understanding of the two preceding booklets. Read through the entire work in the order presented before you attempt to play."


My final thoughts are going to revolve around Dungeon Crawl Classics, as it was also brought up as an example. This game has really took the deadly angle and myths of the OSR and made it really fun. The game starts out with all players creating four 0 level commoners and then they go adventuring which is known as the death funnel. Anyone who survives gets to become heroic and level up to a real character. I have personally had a lot of fun with this and some great stories have been recorded. An experience like this is mostly enjoyable from players from all different backgrounds but the death funnel is a short and fleeting part of the campaign. After it is over, the characters have proven themselves to be more then average men and deserve to have a fighting chance.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Chronicles of Neverwhere: Dhampir


The curse and the White had brought an increase of monsters and other creatures of the night. This increase has led to more interactions between the two. Most of these interactions are negative but some of them have led to the rise of the Dhampir. 

No one really knows exactly how they are created. It seems that every time a Dhampir is asked about their origin they tell a different story. Then again, maybe all of the the stories are correct and their are many paths to the Dhampir existence. 

Some of the stories around the tavern include:

  • A pregnant female is fed on by a vampire and process alters their unborn baby
  • A strange aspect of the animating force behind the vampires immortal existence allows them to occasionally father children
  • In siring another vampire, the process gets interrupted or does not take as it and the process halts half way through
  • A rare effect of the curse and instead of becoming twisted, the person transforms into something more sophisticated 
  • An ancient blood rite left over from the days of the Titans
  • A curse of the Gods for leading a violent life and taking innocent life

The fancy PDF* can be downloaded here

 *This was made possible with the input and amazing formatting skills of Vance A. His blog can be found here. I recommend giving it a read.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Detroit Suck City: Episode 2


The crew regrouped on the landing as Jiminy regained his sight. During this time, Parrot discussed a plan where he would run up the stairs and act like he was running for the rest of the crew because he was the only human looking. This would put Parrot in a position to help us from the rear in things went south. The plan was discussed and it was decided on that it would be a good idea.

The plan took action and the star children we encountered on the stairwell let Parrot pass as the rest of the crew were met with resistance. The few star children that tried to stop the rest of the crew on the stairs met with a swift end as the numbers were in the crew favors. This was regardless of the their attempts to blind as it seemed each one of the star children had that ability.

When the crew got to the top of the stairs they were met with a whole gathering of star children that were armed with black star maces. Parrot was able to run right past them and stood towards the back of the group trying to talk to them but all of the star children just starred blankly before attacking the rest of the crew.


The situation quickly became pure chaos as the crew started to slash, crush, and cross bolt their way through the star children's ranks. Between the sounds of melee, bright flashes were emitted by various star children in attempt to hinder the crew. Some of them were momentarily stunned but miraculously none of them ended up blind. After the star children's bodies started to hit the floor, what looked like an adult star person stepped away from the ranks raised up a rifle and took some shots, one of which went right through Jiminy's carapace and the other grazed Lladnar. It was this moment that Parrot jumped into action and was able to knock the rifle out of the star persons hands. Parrot found himself engaged with this star person who drew a long metal rod from his belt with copper wire around the end that started to him with electricity. A single strike from this rod left Parrot paralyzed on the floor.

Lladnar, Auron, Gren, and Jiminy were able to drop another star child each before loud squeaking was heard. The star adult sounded the retreat and the remaining star children all took off down the hallway. 


Three squeakers came running down the hall to try to take a bite out of the already battered crew. Jiminy decided to head the wall and escape through one of the gaping holes and crawl along the outside of bridge as the rest of the crew followed him with an intent to take up his lead and offer him cover. Gren turned around and charged the squeakers with his spines impaling a squeaker or two as Lladnar and Auron charged behind him.

With Grens help, Auron was able to cut a squeaker in twain and Lladmar kept another busy. It was then that Jiminy jumped through the wall behind the squeakers to flank them. With one powerful blow from his mace, he sent a squeaker out one of the openings in the bridge to a watery grave below. In this moment the remaining squeaker decided it was time to turn tale and vanished down the hallway.


The crew regroups and tries to rose Parrot but he is still out cold. The prop him up against the wall with Lladmar as a guard and the rest if them decide to cautiously explore down the hallway. The first couple rooms yielded nothing of interest except some dirty sleeping mats, clothes, and a few star maces. About halfway down the hallway a room was discovered that had a large wooden desk in it, a sleeping mat, a chest in the corner, and a large backpack like sack with a bigger sword resting against it. 

The desk held some papers, pens, and other objects that no one else knew about. There was a strange metal box discovered that Jiminy was able to mess with and open up. Nothing else was gleamed of its purpose. 

The sack on the ground produced some nicer clothes, chainmail, rations, a map of the surrounding areas, and various odd boubles.

As Auron and Gren tried to open the chest in the corner and failed, Jiminy came over feeling confident with his luck with the metal box to be able to open the chest. Jiminy was successful and inside the chest currency was found, a few grenades were found, some rations, and a strange metal cylinder with a button on top. Jiminy knew what the grenades were and kept those along with the metal cylinder. Auron pocketed the currency and Gren took the rations. On the way out of the room Gren grabbed the big sword and gave it to Lladmar but during the return walk moans of pain were noticed and the crew set out to investigate farther down the hall. Lladmar pulled up the rear carrying the unconscious Parrot. 

The crew found themselves on the other side of the bridge with the stairwell rounding down, a room to the left, and a room to the right in the corner. The room ended up being a kitchen of sorts and Lladmar decided to take up guard at the stairwell as the party entered the room in the right hand hand corner. Upon entering the room they discovered it was full of things they have never seen before and a naked man was on the table, moaning in pain, attached to various wires and a large tub coming from a metallic sack in the ceiling that led into the naked mans chest. 


Auron wanted to kill whoever was on the table as he explained the Star people were obviously turning this person into one of them and to be honest, the person looked behind saving. It would be a mercy Auron pointed out. The rest of the crew talked him down and during this conversation the person on the table started to stir and moan for help. Jiminy and Gren helped unhook him from the wiring and rubes as carefully as they could and then sat him up. 

The naked man introduced himself and Wilhelm and he was sent on a mission to acquire new technology for his people. Wilhelm went on to explain how during his travels he was ambushed by the star people and that was the last thing he remembered. Wilhelm started to ask about his clothes and gear. Gren said he saw some stuff that looked like it could fit him and ran off to get the sack that was found in one of the other rooms. When Gren returned, the crew helped him get dressed but Wilhelm was to week to walk. It was quickly decided that they needed to get off of the bridge and make camp on land just in case the squeakers or star people came back. The crew helped Wilhem up and acted as support as the exited the room. Llandmar was told to ransack the kitchen and the room, then to follow quickly behind. 

Down the stairs the crew went with Lladmar trailing with Parrot. They shortly ran right into a group of heavily armed and armored Hoopers that were coming up the stairs with large sacks. Both sides were surprised to see each other but Wilhelm and Jiminy took the conversation lead and the Hoopers explained they are traders and were coming to sell their usual supplies to the star people which they did not like very much but business was business. After some unsucessful haggling that left the Hoopers very annoyed, Auron paid them their full asking price (for some sacks of grain, carrots, and rations) and some additional coins for information about the land beyond the bridge. The Hoopers only explained that is more dangerous at night and how we should stay away from the red light. The hoopers also suggested we camp here tonight and set off in the morning. 

The crew decided to take up resident in the lab with the table and set an alternating watch. IT was during this time that Wilhelm noticed the two handed sword that Llandnar was carrying and explained how that was his. After some arguing back and forth Llandnar reluctantly cave up the sword and went to find his old one. Then the crew settled in for the night and ate very well. 

This was were Episode 2 ended...

Detroit Suck City: Episode 1


You're no hero.

You're a wasteland wanderer:
a mutant, 
a seeker,
a robot killer,
a stoic shaman guarding forgotten ancient sciences.

You seek triumph and technology,
winning it with mutations and magic, 
soaked in the radiation and quantum fields of the altered, the savage, the semi-intelligent, and the artificially intelligent. 
The crew fares from Zlugtown a grungy little shanty town of mutant animals (with a few humanoids). The island has a massive old gravel pit, rail yard, and warehouses. Half of it is a radioactive wasteland where a stray tactical nuke landed. It is tribal and barely tech 1 bordering on pre-historical. Nice place to grow up though.

The entire crew is called in front of the town leadership to investigate a glowing red light that has been seen from across the waters in the mainland. These individuals were called on because they were outcasts in a world of outcasts. They had no family, no town responsibilities, and no official duties to speak of. All of the characters took the mission to earn their own fame within their community but each had their own personal reasons for doing this as well.


The crew decided to to head out at first light so everyone could spend the night getting sleep, preparing, and saying whatever goodbyes they felt like. The first light of day had hooves, feet, and paws hitting the broken pavement of the bridge and all seemed quite until they came to a section of the bridge that was covered in vegetation. Auron got really nervous and started to ask and look around for a way around the vegetation as he insisted that he would not go anywhere near those plants. It was then that Jiminy told everyone that he went on a scouting missing a few days before and those plants are alive and have the ability to shoot spines.


The crew was able to to discover a path down the side of the bridge onto the support beams and beyond. This path was obvious made as it consisted of chunks of wood, scrap metal, and wire all attached together to make a foot path along the underside of this bridge. Everyone was careful but despite a healthy dose of paranoia for the unknown (as no one ever left the island before) the crew was ambushed by four squeakers (which are mutated ferrets)!


The battle was fought behind and in front of the flanked crew as Jimeny took the lead at the front of the party and Auron took the lead at the back of the party. This was because the walkway was very thin and only in a few places could they stand should to shoulder. The squeakers attacked ferociously and inflicted some heavy wounds on Jiminy and Auron caught a few teeth. During the class, Parrot ended up shooting Ladmar in the back with his crossbow. At this point, the crew was considering retreat but then a high pitched squeaking was heard over the sounds of melee and the squeakers ran off, vanishing down the bridge.  

The crew pressed on and as they passed under the section of the bridge where the vegetation started they noticed all kinds of roots and plant matter was hanging down from the ceiling. Auron quickened his pace and kept looking up for any signs of movement as he forgot about the threat of the squeakers. They then came to a collapsed area were Jiminy easily jumped to the platform on the other side. The rest of the crew side climbed the crisscross lattice work to the other side. This platform shortly led to the control tower of the bridge with a door.

Auron led the way and a short way inside down on an makeshift floor discovered what appeared to be a mother squeaker with a litter of pups. The mother just started at Auron and company before Auron suffered a lapse in tactical judgement and told his friends to close their eyes. Once their eyes were closed Auron unleashed a bright flash from his eyes that illuminated the whole tower and blinded the squeakers. 

Parrot noticed a girl looking down at them from a few floors and announced it to the rest of the party. The mystery girl quickly started to run up the stairs and Jiminy sprang into action, leaping a few stories to catch the girl on a landed. As soon as he landed, he barely had time to notice she had a very rough tattoo of a black star over her face before he was blinded by a flash and the girl knocked Jiminy over the head. This blow to the caused Jiminy to fall back down the stairs to the next land and gave the mystery girl a chance to escape. 

The rest of the crew rushed to Jiminys aid.


That is were Episode 1 ended.

Detroit Suck City: Session 0


About a month ago I was invited to play in a Gamma World Second Edition game online from someone who I had experience gaming with before (an previous online GM). I snapped at the chance because it sounded like it was going to be a lot of fun and lets face it, its Gamma World. Shenanigans is almost a requirement. So, the group was recruited and characters were made. I have to say, we are one hell of a motley crew.

INTRODUCING ZLUG FORCE 1
 Left to Right: Ladnar the Bullman, Wilhem the "PSH", Gren the porcupine bear, Jiminy the cricket, Parrot the human, and Auron the panda man.

Ladnar the bullman: Despite being nearly blind as a bat, Lladnar is a big happy bull-like being. He firmly believes that he has a mission To Do Good (TM), he just doesn't really know what that is. He has survived in the Pits by being bigger and appearing grumpier than everyone else. He also did a stint as a gate guard were he acquired his sword and crossbow. His previous employer hasn't realized this yet.

Wilhem the "PSH": Is part of a only human community and acts as a technology finder. Due to an unforate serious of events, his fates have become intertwined with the rest of us.

Gren the Porcupine Bear: Small,scrawny and skinny for a bear. Good with tools. Slow moving for a bear since human hands make 4 legged walking uncomfortable. Grew up around humans. This small stature bearman bears back is covered with long, sharp, porcupine like spines.

Jiminy the Cricket: Jiminy is one of a litter of a dozen muto-crickets, most of which did not survive. I cannot speak definitely on this but rumor has it he survived by eating his siblings.


Parrot the "Human": Parrot was born to a normal couple of mutants - Blue Max, his father, had blue skin and was able to alter his size at will, Think Lizzy, his mother, was physically a normal human, but had a bunch of mental powers. Right after birth, as a newborn, Parrot didn't cry as normal babies, but he did imitate the sound of everyone and everything he could hear. That got on his parents nerves even more than any newborn should - so they plugged his ears, so that he didn't unconsciously imitate any and all sounds he heard and ruin everyone's nerves. His parroting ability earned him his name - Parrot. During his childhood he spent a lot of time with the other children of the settlement, where he got beaten up regularly due to his tendency to imitate their speech - this time deliberately, just to provoke them. Those regular beatings brought to light his regenerative mutation powers. He healed almost as quickly as he got beaten up. Despite this rough childhood he kept his cheerful nature and good spirits. After years of regular beatings, he simply "knew" when things will get rough. He was never to be surprised of any kind of attack. Not that this did do him any good, as he was still beaten up most of the time, but he now kept seeing this coming. After puberty set in, he suddenly knew how to get back at those bullies: he could think those bastards' heads to bleed from their nose. His mental blast power manifested and he was given a bit of training by other mental mutated folks to use it in a more controlled fashion by mental blasting some wild animals that were somewhat edible. Interestingly, on such hunting forays Parrot was often attacked by wildlife that usually avoids human(oids). Apparently, after a few weeks without getting beaten up, he subconsciously attracted aggressive animals - and he had no way to shut this trouble-magnet trait down. Parrot was always fascinated by the ancient an enigmatic technology of the folks of Old. So he joined the tribe's tinkerers a bit in trying to figure out how some artefacts might work. He showed some aptitude in this kind of work, but he didn't keep interested long enough to become a crafter himself. Recently declared "mature" by the tribe's elders he had to join a "colorful" group on a dangerous mission beyond the river.


Auron the Panda Man: Auron (the panda man) grew up in Zlugtown but has never taken to kindly to authority or taken life to seriously. He spent a good amount of time fighting in the pits for fame and money before getting bored and basically becoming a bouncer for the more seedier locations on the island.

He is very direct and does not sugar coat situations or what he wants. His personality is like his sword - short on nuance, long on badass.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Review: Star Dogs - Referee's Handbook


I have already talked about the Star Dogs - Player's Handbook in depth here. Per conversations with the author, the Players Guide was created as a vehicle for the Referee's Handbook and for his smooth ship combat rules. The opening page of the books states;

"The Star Dogs Referee's Guide is a collection of tools, tables, and generators for referees running a science fiction tabletop roleplaying campaign. While it has been written for Star Dogs, it is system neutral and can be used with any Science Fiction tabletop rule set."
As a disclaimer, I was provided a cope for review purposes.

Presentation: The cover is full and the interior is presented in clean double columns. The interior art is sparse, black and white, and has a distressed look like the cover. It really matches the feel for the game. The book itself is organized with a table of contents and everything you roll on is very easy to understand.


I am going to deviate from my usual review formula and use the tools and tables and roll up some awesomeness.

Planet Generation

  • Landscape: Decaying meat mounds, ever pushed skyward from an ever growing flesh core
  • Atmosphere: Fire, Flames, and burning
  • Planet Population: Free Humans (Dominate Population)
Space Station Generation 

  • Population (Dominant): Alien Civilization 
  • Key Purpose: Restaurant Center 
  • Atmosphere: Endless Charms hang from ropes and string
  • This also has tables to randomize the map and to stock various rooms
NPC Generator

  • Expertise: Vat Farming
  • Modus Operandi: Works through impressive technology
  • Appearance: Flower or generally vegetative tattoos
  • NPC Want: Find immediate relief to severe pain
Alien Species Generator

  • Basic Form: Bull
  • Form Manifestation: Bloody, fleshy, inside out with organs on display
  • Armor Technology Level: Medium Armor (+4AC)
  • Weapon Technology Level: Modern melee weapons
  • Communication Method: Via comlog on the data plane
  • Special Ability: Psionics and thought power
  • Culture: Two factions have recently formed in the species, there is simmering tension that often erupts into open violence 
  • Want: Protect some technology recently discovered/uncovered
Final Thoughts: I only used the Referee's Handbook to roll up a handful examples. There are tables and information for creating cultures, space sectors, mission generator, dangerous sectors, impressive technology, advanced combat, random space encounter, spacecraft generator, and a nebula generator. This book is really dripping with inspiration and I think it could be used for different genres as well. I think this is worth picking up for the inspiration alone.

You can acquire the pdf here and the physical copy here.