Saturday, June 25, 2016

In Which We Go Beyond the Wall

My steampunk Savage Worlds game didn't run last night due to various things. I did end up running an off-the-cuff session of Beyond the Wall with three players, one of whom was gaming for the first time. We created characters using the playbooks, and the ladies picked the Untested Thief, Would-Be Knight and Witch's Prentice. We created the village and added places and people, with one player delightedly adding illustrated buildings and places to the map as we went.

I used The Angered Fae scenario pack, but I deviated heavily from what I rolled up. One of the elements from the Witch's Prentice's backstory fit really well with the idea of some angered fae, so I ran with that instead, noted a couple of choices/paths in my head, and off we went.

Our three PCs were Bellona (Would-Be Knight), Matilda (Witch's Prentice), and Chad (Untested Thief) The village was plagued for weeks with terrible portents, and finally attacked by the Wild Hunt. The PCs set about investigating, finally figuring out that one of the villagers, Amelia, was pregnant with the child of the local fae lord. While they all personally had grudges against her, Matilda's master (the town's witch) had sworn to protect the woman and her unborn child and wouldn't back down. Rather than cross the old woman, the PCs did some digging, made an uncomfortable deal with the Pukka, killed a Redcap, and managed to work out a Persephone-esque custody deal between the fae lord and the child's mother. The PCs didn't go the easiest route, but they went a pretty solid one. They saved the village. Chad managed to get his hands on an antlered helmet from the fae knights of the Wild Hunt. A good time was had by all.

I thought the pacing and tone of the game were uneven, but the players deflected my self-criticism. I do think that overall the game was good. I'd play this village and this PC set again, or happily roll up a new village.

One thing we all agreed on is that character creation/village creation in Beyond the Wall is fun. I like games where character creation is fun in and of itself. I'd add BtW to the list that includes Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st and 2nd editons) and Traveller. (Although that's funny, because usually I hate the way Traveller actually plays out as a game.)

I'm glad I bought a print copy of Beyond the Wall and that I've already had a chance to kick the tires on it. I almost want to run it on Sunday at KantCon, but I'm already running two fantasy games based on D&D mechanics.

7/7 would recommend.

Friday, June 24, 2016


So Mutant Crawl Classics looks cool and Faith looks cool and it makes me with I still had Dungeon Crawl Classics and that I had picked up Mutant Crawl Classics and I also really like the cover of OpenQuest 2nd edition annnnnnnnnnnd adfdfjadljfkaldsj al;sdfjj

Ruins & Ronin PCs for The Devil Rakan

I've generated the PCs for the Ruins  & Ronin game I'll be running at KantCon. Players are free to change the name and gender of their characters.

Here I've represented the four classes detailed in the Ruins & Ronin book (bujin, sohei, shugenja, half-ogre), as well as three classes posted on Mike's blog (kensai, ninja, headhunter), one of his "experimental" classes he posted online for his Deluxe edition plans (gakusho), and a race he posted on his blog as well. (The hengeyokai, though this one advances as a shugenja as well) I had to change a few details about the gakusho to make it fit in better with the White Box mechanics.

I've sorted the characters out so that there are three fighters, three tricky/experty types, and three spell-casters.

Asano Teiji - 4th level Bujin          
Str 14          Hit Points: 15                 Alignment: Lawful
Int 9            Base Hit Bonus: +2        Languages: Imperial
Wis 10       Armor Class: 20
Dex 11      Saving Throw: 13
Con 13      Movement Rate: 6
Cha 8                  

Special Abilities: Chanbara*, Follow-Through, +1 save vs. death/poison

Gear: Katana (1d6/1d6+1), wakazashi (1d6), daikyu w/20 armor-piercing arrows (1d6+2),  o-yori armor, horse, manservant, saddlebags containing 1 week's provisions, cooking utensils

*Chanbara is just a dressed-up name for the fighter's ability to make multiple attacks against 1 HD opponents. That ability isn't present in R&R, but I've given it to this character regardless.

Teiji is the youngest son of a minor samurai noble. He stands to inherit virtually nothing, leaving him with high social standing and expectations but without the means to live such a lifestyle. He ends up taking various assignments from his father's lord, most of which he considers beneath this one.

Asano Nori - 4th level Kensai         
Str 9         Hit Points: 14                    Alignment: Neutral
Int 8         Base Hit Bonus:  +2          Languages: Imperial
Wis 14    Armor Class: 15
Dex 16   Saving Throw: 12
Con 10    Movement Rate: 12
Cha 9                  

Special Abilities: Favored Weapon (Naginata), Life-Saving Parry, Natural Defenses, +1 save vs. death and fear

Gear:Naginata (1d6+2) , tanto (1d6-1),  simple traveler's clothing, backpack, provisions for 1 week,

Background: Nori is Teiji's cousin. She also stands to inherit little, so she instead chose to become one of the "battle maidens," women who choose not to marry and instead study weapon arts as a form of philosophy. Nori has proven a capable fighter and her presence is often a deterrent for peasants who are considering brigandry.

Oki- 4th level Half-Ogre        
Str 15     Hit Points: 16                    Alignment: Lawful
Int 7       Base Hit Bonus:  +2          Languages: Imperial
Wis 9     Armor Class: 15
Dex 12   Saving Throw: 13/8
Con 13   Movement Rate: 12
Cha 8                  

Special Abilities: Iron Constitution, Ogre's Ferociousness

Gear: Flail (1d6+3), custom-fitted armor pieces (do-maru, jingasa, haidate), large sack filled with foodstuffs

Background: Oki-Ono was born to a woman who appeared on the outskirts of the land one night. She died during childbirth. The village was ready to destroy the obviously inhuman child, but Koharu (see below) intervened. The half-ogre was raised to be a loyal and steadfast protector. Although he is a fierce friend and a natural protector of the innocent and helpless, the lord often sends him on missions for intimidation factor.

Payang- 4th level Headhunter       
Str   13       Hit Points: 25                    Alignment: Neutral
Int   12     Base Hit Bonus:  +2          Languages: Lakang, Imperial, one slot open
Wis   8     Armor Class: 12
Dex  13    Saving Throw: 12
Con 15     Movement Rate: 12
Cha  5                 

Special Abilities: Sturdy Constitution, +2 save vs. death and poison, Ambush, Track Outdoors

Gear: yari (1d6), daikyu w/12 frog crotch arrows and 12 hummingbird arrows (1d6+1/1d6-1), blowgun w/10 darts (1 dmg), thick fur hide armor, hide sling bag containing food, jar of numbing poison (5 doses), jar of killing poison (save or 1d6-2 dmg each round)

Background: A warrior from the southern tropics, Payang was captured by slavers and ended up being sold to the local lord. When he saved the lord's life on a hunting trip, he was freed and offered the chance to become a paid retainer.

Koga Yui- 4th level Ninja       
Str   10      Hit Points: 9               Alignment: Neutral
Int    13     Base Hit Bonus:  +1   Languages: Imperial,
Wis  10    Armor Class: 12
Dex  17    Saving Throw: 11
Con 10     Movement Rate: 12
Cha  15                 

Special Abilities: Ninja Abilities, Backstab, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Read Languages, +2 saving throw vs. death or poison

Gear: 6 shuriken (1d6-2), kusari-gama (1d6), tanto (1d6-1),  simple traveler's clothes, backpack containing ninja garb, grapnel, 40 ft silk rope, 10 caltrops, 4 flash powder pellets, flint and steel

Background: The Koga ninja clan hires its services out to various noble houses. Yui is on the payroll of the local lord, and often travels under the guise of a minor bureaucrat or sometimes a traveling herbalist. While her companions may suspect Yui's true profession, most of them are gracious enough not to mention it.

Inugami- 4th level Hengeyokai
Str   10     Hit Points: 8 /4                Alignment: Chaotic
Int    17    Base Hit Bonus:  +0        Languages: Imperial, Oni, Spirit, Elemental
Wis  14   Armor Class: 10/10
Dex  9    Saving Throw: 12
Con 12   Movement Rate: 12/12
Cha  6                 

Special Abilities: Dark Vision, Tracking, Spell Casting, Shapeshifting, +2 saving throws vs. magic

Gear: elegant enchanted clothing, magic tanto +1 (1d6 dmg)

Spells Known:
1st level- Charm Person, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Sleep
2nd level- Detect Chaos, Detect Thoughts, Invisibility I, Web

Background: Inugami has no name. A malevolent dog-spirit created by an onmyouji sorcerer, Inugami was defeated and bound by Airi. He presently serves the local lord, bound under a spell of compulsion.

Koharu- 4th level Sohei
Str   15      Hit Points: 18              Alignment: Lawful
Int    9       Base Hit Bonus:  +1    Languages: Imperial
Wis  15     Armor Class: 15
Dex  8       Saving Throw: 11
Con 15     Movement Rate: 12
Cha  12                 

Special Abilities: Spellcasting, +2 save vs. death and poison, Banish Undead

Gear: Tetsubo (1d6+1), paired jitte (1d6+1), hankyu w/ 15 leaf head arrows (1d6), prayer beads, hanburi helmet, do-maru chest plate, sote arm guards, suneate shin guards, wicker backpack containing food, provisions, ceremonial implements

Background: Koharu was bigger than any boy in the village, but they kept their comments very, very quiet. Unmarriageable, she ended up studying in the temple and becoming a temple soldier. The locals see her as a friend and protector, so she is often sent to handle delicate situations that just might require some violence.

Bawa, Old Man- 4th level Shugenja
Str    7        Hit Points: 9             Alignment: Neutral
Int    14     Base Hit Bonus: +0   Languages: Imperial, Oni, Spirit, Elemental
Wis  10    Armor Class: 10
Dex  11    Saving Throw: 12
Con  9      Movement Rate: 12
Cha  12                 

Special Abilities: Spell Casting, +2 save vs. magic

Gear: Tanto (1d6-2), robes, belt pouches containing dried fruits/nuts, spell ingredients

Spells Known:
1st level- Detect Magic, Hold Portal, Light I, Protection from Chaos I, Read Languages, Read Magic
2nd level- Detect Chaos, Detect Invisibility, Knock, Locate Object, Phantasmal Force

Background: The Old Man has always lived in a hut on the edge of the land. He practices strange magics and auguries, and the villagers are afraid of him. The local lord knows his wisdom, however, and consults him in return for making sure that superstitious peasants leave him alone. For him to actually come out of his hut, however, is a signal that something must be truly wrong.

Airi- 3rd level Gakusho
Str  8      Hit Points: 10          Alignment: Lawful
Int   12   Base Hit Bonus: +0  Languages: Imperial, Oni, Spirit
Wis  14  Armor Class: 10
Dex   11 Saving Throw: 12
Con   11 Movement Rate: 12
Cha  13                 

Special Abilities: Spell Casting, +2 save vs. magic, Banish Spirits

Gear: jo stick (1d6-1), elaborate robes, wicker backpack containing simple rations, ceremonial materials

Background: Airi has always been a shrine priestess, as far back as many can remember. She's remarkably sturdy for an old woman, and her mystical powers are well known to populace. When she leaves her shrine, it's usually a sign that something dark and sinister is afoot or that someone is in need of urgent treatment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Christian sent me his zine, The Tolling of the Great Black Bell, issues 9 and 10 in the mail last week. I didn't know I was getting two I need to go back and pay him for the second one...

I got my copy of Beyond the Wall, and it is flippin' gorgeous. This is easily one of the most beautiful gaming books I have ever owned.

I got an email notification on my phone at my second job yesterday afternoon about the PDF of the Savage RIFTS Player's Guide being available through their website. Of course, by the time I got home to log in an get it, excessive web traffic had reduced Pinnacle's website to smoking digital ruins. I still can't access the site today. Le sigh. Hopefully I'll be able to get it before too long.

In other news, I have only a single spot left open in my OneDice Urban Fantasy game at KantCon and one in my Ruins & Ronin game. I am strongly considering a 5th game because I have nothing going on Sunday morning. I probably won't do BtW, because I'm already running two D&D-style fantasy games at the con. Maybe I'll just play board games Sunday morning... running four games is already more GMing in a weekend than I've ever done at a KantCon before.

Addendum: I ordered a print copy of Mythras Imperative from Lulu, because the cover speaks to me. (As did the cover of OpenQuest) Also, it was pretty cheap and I found like three different Lulu coupons lurking in my email. Five steps forward, six steps back.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Free RPG Day

So I went to Free RPG Day this last weekend. My LGS sets a limit of three items with no repeats. I also popped in after lunch and I suspect much of the table was plundered. I was in a lazy kind of mood that day and didn't feel like driving to other stores. Here's what I picked up:

Gaming Paper: Seems pretty useful. I have an erasable battle mat for combat- when I feel like using it- but these seem kind of useful for when I don't want to draw out a detailed building. Of course, that limits me to the building configurations included in the sampler. Still, not a bad product.

Faith: A sci-fi rpg that has some kind of playing card-based resolution system. I don't know because they only kind of explain the rules. The tiny little pamphlet is mostly a graphic novel with some lore sidebars and a totally unnecessary comic strip of characters in the game universe playing the roleplaying game, including a subplot about an alien who is on his phone the entire time and not paying attention. Cute, but I'd have maybe preferred more information about the rules. The art is cool and the lore seems cool, but this isn't so much a free rpg or even a set of quickstart rules as it is a teaser trailer on paper. Oh, and the advertised "adventure seed" is this: you're smugglers and you get captured by the evil empire type guys. Ground breaking stuff.
This is a game I'd consider buying, but only as material for my preferred sci-fi rules chassis.

Slugs (with umlaut): So this is a bestiary for LotFP. It has thirty-two variations of giant slugs. So that's what that is. I predict that LotFP's Free RPG Day offerings will forever leave me pining for something the likes of Better Than Any Man. Oh, and only one slug has genitals for a face. This is less than I expected, but of course you have to have one, because apparently you can't be weird without genital monsters.  \m/
I'm also not a huge fan of the cover, which is not the imagine he used to promote the book...I thought that was going to be the cover.

Other stuff I took a look at and very nearly picked up:

*Mutant Crawl Classics- I no longer own Dungeon Crawl Classics (well, the rule book- I own lots of the adventures because I really like them), but if I did I would totally buy this game. As it stands, I will probably buy the adventures to use with Mutant Future. There was also a Lankhmar thing included, but I honestly don't give a flip about Lankhmar.

*The Dark Eye, 5th Edition- Like a no-good ex who you still contact every once in awhile, I picked up and leafed through the second attempt at bringing Das Schwarze Auge to the English-speaking world. I just... no. The artwork is amazing and lush, but I just don't like the mechanics. That whole three-rolls-to-use-a-skill with point pools to modify the dice if any of your three skill rolls fail is just... not for me.

Now, despite my bagging on it a little, Jim Raggi's little bestiary was probably the most useful item I picked up. Although I am stuck comparing everything released after Better Than Any Man unfavorably to that most excellent tome, I will concede that Raggi's produces Free RPG Day things that can be used, and have more utility than quick start rules or a one-shot adventure. He has a little rant in the beginning that calls out most Free RPG Day products being crippleware rules for a $50 core book (I'm paraphrasing since I don't have the thing handy).

And now, back to not working on things I'm supposed to be working on because I am tired and crabby like 85% of my waking hours and will likely be so until the end of next week. (After that, I'll go back to my normal tired-and-crabby percentage of 40%)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Even More OneDice Urban Fantasy Characters

More folks you might find when cruising the supernatural community of San Francisco.

Bimal (Naga-kin)

Strong 1 (0)  Clever 3  Quick 3 (4)   Magic 1
Health: 3  Defense: 6  Magic Defense: 9 (12) Movement: 30 (40)
Skills: Dodgy 1, Computer 2, Language 1 [English],  Negotiation 2, (Perception 1)
Gifts: Quicker, Shapeshifting (snake)
Weaknesses: None
Gear: High-end smart phone, laptop bag containing high-end laptop, clothing barely considered business casual

Background: Bimal Atwal grew up an only child in a strict household. Many things about his life were determined by his parents from an early age, primarily that he would attend college and become a computer software engineer like his father. Unfortunately for his parents, Bimal possessed little desire for hard work; his talents were in faking it, bluffing, and cheating. Bimal sleazed his way through college, taking a middling position in a middling firm where he could coast under the radar while plying his preferred trade: information brokering.  Bimal was caught snooping by the Shadow Council. The next day he found himself sitting in Von's office, facing an interesting dilemma: turn his talents toward the bidding of the Shadow Council, or find himself in trouble with both his mundane job and the supernatural community.

Maureen (Artificer)

Strong 1  Clever 3  Quick 1  Magic 3
Health: 3   Defense: 3  Magic Defense: 9  Movement: 10
Skills: Artificing 2, Business 1, Dodgy 1, Negotiation 2
Gifts: Cleverer, The Sight
Weaknesses: None
Gear: trendy glasses, hipster-chic clothes, handmade shoulder-bag full of simple artificing supplies and Sephora stuff, iPhone 6, bottle of "monster mace" made from silver nitrate and holy water.

Background: Maureen "Moe" Nading was born Cale Nading, the oldest son of a trucker and a medical transcriptionist in small-town Iowa. She moved to Des Moines during her transition to live with her aunt. It was there that she discovered her ability to see the true nature of reality. Her aunt, delighted that Maureen had discovered her natural talents, taught her the basics of creating simple charms and talismans. Moe had a talent for artificing far beyond anything her aunt had ever seen. She was apprenticed to Watts, a dwarf artificer living in the mountains of northern Montana. Life was difficult under his tutelage, and Moe was only too glad to finally strike out on her own. She's since taken up residence in San Francisco and has become a licensed artificer working mostly for the Shadow Council.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Royal Society Events

Updates from my original campaign setup, events both local and global.

Two months have passed, and it is now May of 1888.

*The National Geographic Society begins financing expeditions into mountainous regions of Alaska. In addition, the Society claims that member (and son-in-law of the principle founder) Alexander Graham Bell has developed a sonar device that will allow them to accurately map the ocean floor.

*Rudolph Carl von Steuben vows to destroy the legacy of Charles Babbage, vanishing from the public eye shortly thereafter. Henry Provost Babbage declines any official comment.

*Athens continues rapid modernization, baffling industrialists and economists around the world. Valerois Stais is appointed as a special advisor to the Prime Minster of Greece.

 *War continues in British West Africa. Despite efforts to downplay it, the British are being driven back by the mysterious warlord Makaia. Tabloids accuse the United States or Germany of supplying the African soldiers with modern weaponry.

*Two months ago, the Spring-Heeled Jack was revealed to be a gang of individuals who were being armed by Cedric Blackwell, a disgraced industrialist attempting to finance his illegal weapons manufacturing.

*The Labour Reform Party continues to clash regularly with police and private security forces across the industrial sectors of London. The LRP is torn between members who advocate for reform at any cost and those who urge members to seek nonviolent means of social change.

*The area of London known as "The Bleaks" becomes a hotbed of superstition as people report seeing a ghostly man with no skin lurking in the old factories. He is colloquially called "The Bone Man."

*In the United States, Nikola Tesla demonstrates wireless transmission of electric power at one of his laboratories in Manhattan. Thomas Edison publically denounces it as a "stage magician's parlor trick."

Getting Slugged This Saturday

Free RPG Day is this Saturday. I'm excited for Jim Raggi's advertised free 32 page bestiary.

I hope it hearkens back to the halcyon days of Free RPG Day products like Better Than Any Man.

I f'n love BTAM. It's one of the best gaming products on my shelf.

Although, unless I missed a crucial illustration in the ongoing implied story of the Flame Princess and her pals, she's looking awfully....intact... on the cover. LotFP fans will surely understand what I'm talking about. It's also quite likely that I have missed something, as I felt kind of soured on the whole line after Skull Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children.

But with a name like Slugs, with an umlaut, I feel like we're getting back to the kind of stuff I dig on.

My play is to drop by the local game store bright and early to snag a copy.

...funny, I can't even remember what I got for FRPG Day last year...must've been underwhelming.

Campaign Idea: Abyss

So there's this board game, Abyss. It's not always my cup of tea on a given evening, it does have a very unusual and interesting setting, not to mention some badass artwork.

I think it would be a dandy setting for one of your heavy narrative games like Fate.

Just a thought. (These days I'm more about quick thoughts than actual blog entries... this will likely change in July)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Blank Stare

Pretty much not working on the bestiary until I'm no longer working 11 hours a day Monday through Friday. Luckily, this grind ends on June 28th. Right now my routine is get up, go to work, go home, shovel food into my mouth, play video games/, go to bed. Sure, there are variations, but that's pretty much my day to day.

I will jump in with this, though:

I ran into John, the GM of the Engines & Empires game I played in last year. (And I may have mentioned this five or six times, but he's also the author of E&E.) He's currently running Beyond the Wall, and from his description alone I downloaded it (and ordered a print copy because it's got a beautiful cover and very evocative art)




The magic system is very much something I've been hoping for to replace the Vancian system. The flavor is one that I've wanted to try out for some time. Though I haven't quite finished reading it, it encroaches on LotF for my favorite OSR rule set variation.

Meanwhile, my Thousand Dead Babies and Ruins & Ronin games have picked up a player each, leaving only one space in each game. There aren't a lot of events going on Sunday, so I'm considering running a fifth game.

And now, back to my Sisyphean grind.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Grind is Real

I'm going to be straight with you: I haven't written so much as one word for the White Box Cyberpunk Bestiary. I'm working two summer jobs and running my Savage Worlds campaign and I just haven't found the motivation. I will, though... I didn't spend all that time and energy on the classes, task resolution, equipment, etc just to give up now.

A tiny voice in the back of my head is telling me that I should cancel my trip to KantCon and use the money I was going to spend on hotel, food, and gas for more responsible things that need done.

...there's a slightly bigger voice, though, that tells me to flip the bird to the tiny voice, and also to sign up for a beginning miniatures painting seminar AND to run a 5th game, since the offerings still seem kind of light. It also tells me that both presidential candidates are shapeshifting aliens. (Haha, just kidding NSA spy dudes...trying to brighten your day)

On the real, though, I'm leaning towards indulging my id and doing what is essentially the only fun thing I'm going to get to do this summer. Gutter covers can wait another season.

If you happen to be going to KantCon in July, I have one or two spaces open in each of the games I'm running, except for Starships & Spacemen 2nd edition. (That always turns out to be my most popular game)

Stuff I'm running at KantCon, recap:

You Never Get a Second Chance... (Starships & Spacemen, 2nd edition) - Captain Valdez and the crew of the CSS Armiger must search for a first contact party that went missing on a new planet. Can they save the missing party and salvage relations between the Confederation and a new species? This session is actually full as of now.

The Goat, the Bassinet, and the Dark, Dark Woods (Lamentations of the Flame Princess) - This is actually the Zzarchov Kowolski module "A Thousand Dead Babies," but I was asked to consider running it under a different name because the convention is family friendly. (I still slapped an 18+ age minimum on it and mentioned that it is potentially disturbing) I'm sure there are people who would pooh-pooh my decision to abide by their request, but those people can eat some of these. I'm also using LotFP as the rule set even though I don't think it was expressly written for it. Two spots open!

Djinn and Tonics (OneDice Urban Fantasy) - The characters work for the Shadow Council of San Francisco, essentially the police force of the supernatural community. (Think Dylan Dog or Night Watch) A mysterious, unsanctioned alchemist is peddling dangerous and unpredictable potions. The Shadow Council has dispatched the PCs to find out who this alchemist is and put him out of business. One space left.

The Devil Rakan (Ruins & Ronin) - When a remote village failed to pay taxes, the local lord sent a group of tax collectors. Only one returned, bearing horrific injuries and babbling about devils before dying. Now the lord has sent a special team of troubleshooters- monks, mystics, and samurai - to figure out what's happening and put a stop to it. Oh, and about those taxes... room for two more players.

I'm also playing in a session of All Flesh Must Be Eaten and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

My plate might be too full already, but my Sunday morning is completely empty. I've also noticed surprisingly little FATE on the docket this year... usually there are a couple of games that I invariably fail to get into. I honestly would just like to see how the game plays in real life around a real table.

The bestiary will get done when it gets done. I also feel like I need a different name, because most of the antagonist ideas I and others have submitted are not beasts, but men... maybe I should call it the dudetiary. (yuk yuk)