Saturday, February 27, 2016

"You owe us money."

"You owe us money."

In many ways, it was through those four simple words that our shakedown mission got a lot more complicated...

So, as you might recall from my previous post, I was part of a Savage Worlds game a while ago. My character, a mutant with transparent skin and hair who can pull out bones to use as weapons (think Ransik from Power Rangers Time Force), is named Remini. The other party members were, as Remini came to learn, a detective/professor (the only "normal" human in the group); a bone golem armed with a cannon; a crab person; a subtly racist ghost, who repeatedly called Remini "Skinny"; and a person who was constantly uttering oaths to Thor. We were employed as low-level enforcers for a mafia family run by Top Hat Thomas, in the futuristic year of 192X.

Our first mission (which would end up being the only one we accomplished for that session) was to collect some debts from a man living in a run-down residential area. I had the highest driving skill in the party (d6, on a scale of d4 to d12... and my character was the best driver out of six people). As such, I drove them to the house, using some cream makeup and sunglasses to hide my rather frightening appearance, and tagging along in the back when the party walked up to the door. The bone golem knocked, and the door opened; just the man we were looking for.

"You owe us money," said the bone golem.

The man immediately closed the door and locked it. This made the bone golem very unhappy... to the point that he (it?) pulled out the aforementioned cannon, and blasted the door down. The cannonball tore through the house, splintering several pieces of furniture and finally embedding itself in the entryway floor. Some of the party entered the house, and found the man hurriedly loading a rifle; he attempted to shoot the golem, but didn't even cause a scratch.

While this was going on, the detective/professor was busy sneaking upstairs, checking for any sign that our debtor had some of his funds stashed in the house. She succeeded only in finding a piggy bank with about $30 in cash.

Meanwhile, the man fled through the rear door into the back yard. As he raced through his neighbor's yard, the ghost summoned a spectral steed and gave chase; I hopped on the horse's back behind him. The jockey, however, had failed to make either himself or his horse visible, so to all outside observers I looked like I was floating through the air, bow-legged. We caught up to the man, and I hit him in the back with a sword pulled from my leg; the blow would have killed him violently (at 5d6 damage, with exploding dice!) if I hadn't spent a Bennie to change it into a non-lethal blow. Our quarry was knocked out, and the ghost took the opportunity to possess him and dig through his mind.

There, he found the man's bank account information, and learned that said account contained at least twice the amount that he owed Top Hat Thomas. Unfortunately, the police were on their way, as we inferred from the distant sound of sirens. The devotee of Thor started praying, and a storm started brewing that delayed the cops; he was nowhere to be found when we were hurriedly trying to eliminate the evidence of our assault on the house. I hopped into the driver's seat of the car, and everyone except for the ghost (who was still possessing the man) piled in as we quickly drove away, narrowly avoiding the arrival of the police.

The ghost stayed behind, and repeatedly failed to convince the police that the loud gunfire was the result of an accident while cleaning his rifle. They took him away in the squad car, where the man succeeded in ejecting his ethereal guest from his body, and began freaking out when he realized that he was in the back of a police interceptor. Worried that he might talk, the ghost made a last desperate shot with a spectral pistol... and succeeded. The man's head exploded, along with the rear windshield, and the neighbors were too frightened to say anything about what they saw. (It also helped that said debtor was not well liked by his neighbors in the first place.)

Needless to say, a grand time was had by all. And all of the players and the GM involved did a great job of including me, and my first time playing in about two years went very smoothly.

(Note: I'll be going back and adding some tags to all of my past blog posts, and I'll be using them going forward.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Level Up!

I finally got one of my AD&D 2nd Edition players to 2nd level (a rogue, unsurprisingly). This has been a longstanding goal of mine; now I just need to get the priest and the two warriors up there...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My AD&D2 campaign wiki

My self-created wiki for my AD&D 2nd Edition campaign is now up and running. Most of the class information is up (except for the priest classes and some of the specialist wizards), and I'll be updating and adding things until the wiki basically has all of the rules from the Player's Handbook. (You may notice that a lot of text is taken verbatim from the PHB, albeit altered to reflect rule changes and to be gender-neutral; obviously, I am not making any money off of this. Fair use, and all that.)

Eventually, I'll be adding some more setting information, and finishing the player characters' descriptions. I'll also be doing some updating of that nature on the Weebsite for the campaign.

Here's a brief, incomplete list of some of the changes I've made from the core rules:
  • Method I (3d6 in order) is used to generate ability scores for NPCs and for deliberately "ordinary" characters. Method V (4d6 drop low, arrange as desired) is used for PCs. This means that it's difficult to qualify for classes like the paladin or bard, but not impossible.
  • Gnomes are out as a core race. The only significant mechanical difference that distinguishes gnomes from dwarves and halflings is their ability to be illusionists. I simply make the Tallfellow subrace of halflings able to be illusionists (even multi-classed); no need for gnomes. The rules are still in the PHB, so if someone desperately wants to play a gnome, I won't stop them, but I won't bend over backwards to include gnome-centric character options.
  • Humans cannot be mages; only elves and half-elves can, and even there it's on a case-by-case basis. The setting rationale is that humans lack the innate connection to magic that those of elven descent share; the mechanical reason is that I want magic to be slightly less commonplace, and I want to encourage people to play as specialists.
  • Assassins and monks, as they are implemented in Greyhawk: The Scarlet Brotherhood, are here, but only on a case-by-case basis; assassins are all evil, while monks may not mesh well with the setting in all cases. I'm considering putting the necromancer class into this category as well.
    (Side note: I don't recommend buying the PDF in that link until they clean up the PDF a little bit; it's a pretty rough scan. Some people have also said that it's missing the maps, too.)
  • Alignment is there as a guideline for character behavior, not as some kind of cosmic force.
  • Weapon proficiencies and NWPs are out; weapon specialization (for fighters) and secondary skills are used.
More details are on the wiki, and more will be added as I have time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Savage Worlds is pretty damned cool

So, this past Friday I had the chance to play in a Savage Worlds game. This was a lot of firsts for me; not only was it the first time I have gotten to play (rather than referee) in years, it was my first time playing a tabletop RPG that uses a point-buy system for character generation; my first go-round with a multi-genre system; and my first time playing in a group that was already well-established.

Fortunately, all of these went well; the point-buy system wasn't too hard to figure out with help from the GM (even if I do tend to be paralyzed by unlimited choice - and I do mean unlimited, since the GM had the superhero and Western books), the characters worked well together, and the group was fairly welcoming and willing to forgive my lack of SW experience. I played a mutant with transparent skin and hair, who has only one (extremely near-sighted) eye, and can pull out bones from the body which transform into bladed weapons.

I might write more about how this session went, in a later post, but right now I'm very excited by two other role-playing opportunities I have. The first is a possible spot as a player in an upcoming D&D 5th Edition game, which I also intend to write about if it does in fact happen. I'll leave the second for a slightly later post.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Least Serious Game

Lately, I've been contemplating rebooting my entire D&D campaign. Why?

Well, I've been gradually shifting some of the world's events in a dark direction. There are horror elements - more Gothic than anything else, although I have had a couple of body-horror ideas to make my players' skin crawl - which culminated in a near-death at the hands of what two of the players hypothesized is some kind of eldritch god. (I'm not telling.) In fact, now that we've tentatively switched to AD&D2, I've had half a mind to cough up ten bucks for the nice PDFs of some Ravenloft books.

And who is running in this campaign at the moment? A cleric named Thebabicus, a druid named Steve (whose player has, so far, shown up to two of the last five sessions), and - until recently - a B/X elf named Boss Awesome. This group of mountebanks have dubbed themselves Team Awesomesauce. Pretty hard to take things seriously when everyone treats it like a joke.

Given this, I'm tempted to just have a Poison Rain Vornado come and sweep the party off to a faraway land that's almost as goofy as they are.

The other reason I want to reboot is that I finally bought the Cook/Marsh Expert Rulebook, and it's pretty cool. I've actually started on a little project which I hope to write more about soon, which this acquisition has finally made possible. For a while, I was thinking of running a game using Basic Fantasy. Pros: Good rules, easy to run, free to download (and print, at my university), and I already have a paperback copy. Cons: Some of the rules aren't to my liking. I realize that house-rules are easy to implement with this and other OSR games, but I have this feeling like it's not worth my time to modify the rules too much. If I have to change a bunch of the rules, why not just play a game that has those rules the way I like it?

Which is why I'll probably go with B/X if I reboot my campaign. I'm debating who to invite back. I feel like having a break where we play video games for a while will ease the frustration they might feel at switching systems again, much less back to the one we started with! The slowly forming "core" group has three good players who (from what I gather) would be fine with a serious game if it was presented to a fresh audience, and one player who has a great deal of rules mastery (having spent years running the Rules Cyclopedia) but a tendency to make a joke out of things. I've started sketching out a less serious campaign, and I might invite him back to that one; alternatively, I might try out one of his own gonzo campaigns, and play for a while.

Speaking of me playing: that's another reason to use B/X. If B did want to be the Dungeon Master for a while, the Basic Rulebook would be a hell of a lot easier to learn from than AD&D2 (the latter of which has, at least in the DMG, some pretty bad advice in it).

On the other hand, I've recently started talking to a guy I've known tangentially for a few years, who has a good deal of experience running various editions of D&D (including 5e, for which I might join his campaign if he gets one going), as well as Savage Worlds. I'd certainly like to have a good number of people available for a B/X game. Plus, one of J's friends came last time, and did a pretty good job. The more the merrier... especially since I'm planning to use B/X by the book for the Less Serious Game.

That's right! Uniform weapon damage! No negative hit points! (Maybe maximum HP at 1st level, but that's it.) Ha-HA!!

I feel like this is how Barry Sonnenfeld would do it if he was a DM: darkly funny and often absurd, but very deadly to the unwary (or unlucky).

Well, it's 1:21 AM as I finish up this post. Sorry if it's a little disorganized and weird... but for those of you who play OD&D on the reg', that shouldn't be a problem, should it? :D

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Lately I've gotten a couple of shout-outs on other blogs. A few days ago, JB of B/X Blackrazor pointed out a couple of possible solutions to my conundrum on uniform weapon damage, and then mentioned me in his post on axes. And now, Stelios of The Word of Stelios has mentioned my recent post on gender in gaming in a post recounting some similar experiences.

I'm glad to see that I've been writing some things worthy of taking notice, but even nicer is Stelios' description of this 'spot as "a new blog worth reading".

Wow. What can I say, but... thank you! Thanks to both JB and Stelios for their insights and kind words. I'll do my best not to disappoint!