Sunday, August 18, 2019

What? More Than Three Months?

I was looking at Old School RPG Planet, which I highly recommend, and noticed that my blog was underlined for some reason. Hovering over it, I saw that it was because I hadn't updated in over 90 days! What‽

Okay, so I think I'm just going to update on what has been going on with my gaming. I will divide this into four parts, one for the GURPS game I was running and the one I am currently running, one for the AD&D 1e game I am currently playing, one for the Call of Cthulhu game I am currently playing, and the final one for the Fantasy Wargaming game that I am currently preparing. That's going to get long, so I think that I should put in a cut tag.


When I last updated, I was finishing up the Deindustrial Future game. The players attacked the ranch house and ultimately banished the demon who was possessing the ranch owner. There was a lot of blood and excitement. I don't remember any further details and my players refuse to write session recaps, apparently, even if offered character points. Oh, well.

After that, we started preparing for the current game, of which two play sessions have occurred. There were also a number of character creation sessions. One player, who I'll call S, didn't seem to be able to wrap their head around how martial arts works in GURPS, so changed concept from super martial artist to brick, which then had to be toned down from the template in Supers due to the point total (600) allowed. That did work out very well, as my abbreviated recap will show. Another player was added to the group, who I'll use E to designate, whose first character was basically just unkillable and also a terrorist apparently? With a bomb-making habit? That character really didn't fit, so E made a new character who is a genius inventor with a humanoid robot drone he can control. The other two were pretty easy. One, I'll call them D, took the rubberman template and boosted it up to 600 points, making a very tough character indeed, while the other, C, took the electricity blaster template and added some things, mostly skills.

I did offer at the beginning to allow the players to adjust or even change their characters if they don't work out like they hope. That will become relevant.

The first play session was basically a non-combat, get-to-know-you session where the players were introduced to each other, to the employees of the company for which they were going to work, and so on. Briefly, a year ago, about one in a thousand people woke up with some degree of amazing abilities. Around one in a million were at the degree of power that the players show. (Secretly, it's about one in a hundred people, but most abilities are very minor and easily concealed.) After the first couple of months resulted in lots of abuses of powers, the Special Talents, as they became known, have seen a lot of prejudice—to the degree of being afflicted with Social Stigma: Minority Group, or else having a Secret that can bring that out. Things quieted down, and now, a year later, a special investigative corporation has been formed in Seattle to advise and assist the police department. This is called Special Talents Investigations, and there is speculation that someone with some prejudice against Special Talents was involved in selecting the name with its abbreviation of STI.

So, in the first session, the players were in a meeting room, about to meet their administrator, when the bomb-making character of E's set off a small explosive device. This, of course, set off the fire system, and pretty much ruined the first headquarters building for several weeks. Spending emergency funds, STI rented a floor of a downtown high-rise for temporary use. The PCs then met each other, the STI administrator, and two technicians. Most of that session, though, was taken up by some character tweaking advice.

In the first actual play session, the PCs were all taking their first, printed, paychecks to a local bank branch for deposit, cashing, or the like, when they noticed that all of the tellers were acting oddly, as if under coercion. At that point, gunmen appeared from two doors into the back area of the bank, and the players went into action. D's rubberman character reached out to protect a customer and get them out of the line of fire, S's brick ran to pick up another customer and get them to the exit, E's inventor ran for cover and called his robot drone over to go into full control mode, and C's electrical blaster moved to get out of the line of fire and then approach one of the gunmen. Unknown to the players at first, the two visible gunmen were instances of one Special Talent, James, whose ability is to be able to appear in six different places at once, carrying the same set of equipment, but each a completely independent instance. Each is, however, able to communicate by private telecommunication/mindshare. At this point, the players were unaware of the two other Special Talents attacking the bank branch.

Seeing the mechanical man, the first instance of James loaded his grenade launcher with a HEDP grenade, finally firing as the robot approached. Unfortunately, he missed, the grenade continuing past the robot to impact a teller station, killing the poor employee who was taking cover behind that desk. A fragment also struck E's inventor character in the leg, which would ultimately result in him falling unconscious and the robot reverting to its basic programming, which was fairly rudimentary. D's rubberman spends a lot of the session taking a point of damage here and there, largely protected by his Injury Tolerance: Diffuse.

After the robot commits to heading after the first gunman, and while S's brick moves back to try to do some first aid for E's inventor, a streak of a speedster, Daphne, bursts out of the second entrance, while two more instances of James wait in the corridor behind that door with their guns trained in case anyone tries to move to the back of the bank. The players are quite surprised by what a level of Altered Time Rate, a Basic Move of 20, and a final Dodge of 20 (Basic Speed 12, Enhanced Dodge 4, and Enhanced Time Sense) can do. Unfortunately for Daphne, even her Lightning Strike power's added Striking ST and an aluminum baseball bat aren't able to do very much against characters with DR20, which includes both the robot and the brick. She is able to easily avoid their attacks in return, though, so she starts to get a little bit cocky. Notice that the third antagonist has not yet shown up.

This is getting long, so I'll just note that four further significant things happened. First, C's blaster opened the door and stepped into the corridor beyond. This triggered the Waits from the two instances of James. Even so, C's blaster was able to Create electricity in the corridor, setting up a pool of static charge that would do 2d per turn to anything in it. Taking full-auto bursts in the chest, C's character went down, mortally wounded. The James instances ran out of the static electricity that was hurting them.

Second, S's brick finally confronted Daphne with a direct Move and Attack boxing punch, getting a critical hit! That prevents Daphne from using any active defense, so she is unable to dodge, and takes a solid blow to the torso. Knocked back a hex and barely hanging on to her consciousness, Daphne then stumbles (still with a Move of 10 and two turns for every turn anyone else takes) for the exit, calling out, "Code Alpha!" to an instance of James who happens to be coming in at that moment. Code Alpha, as it turns out, is a backup plan to inform the sixth James instance to let the third attacker, a mentalist, know to scan for minds and cause them to fall asleep, which will be the fourth significant incident.

Third, E's robot punches a James instance in the torso, where he is wearing body armor with trauma plates. Now, I couldn't find the note about trauma plates being semi-ablative within ten seconds, which is my rule of thumb to just keep playing and sort everything out later, and I also forgot to apply the Flexible Armor rules, which is my mistake. Unfortunately, E decided to take that moment to start whining about how the game was unrealistic and blah, blah, blah. The player is a little uptight when they aren't "winning"—which as an aside causes them to avoid competitive games in favor of cooperative ones, which I respect; knowing their own limitations and working around them is commendable. Unfortunately, I am not sure how to deal with a player who acts out like that. They also become physically tense in those situations, which in turn causes me to get a little twitchy because I want to make things better for the person—I am the sort of person who wants to help others in distress, and someone's hands shaking reads to my backbrain as distress—but I also want to keep the game going. I welcome advice on the subject.

Finally, the mentalist, alerted by James, begins taking down the PCs with a Sleep Affliction power, the robot, immune to such, grabs its inventor and takes him to a private recovery facility, and the rest of the PCs are rushed to a nearby hospital once paramedics and police finally arrive. The PCs later see a news report of the incident where a reporter is interviewing an influential woman who is trying to become governor, and who just happened to be outside the bank as everything went down.

If C wants to trade their blaster character for another, then I'll let that character die in the hospital. Otherwise, he'll recover under the expert care of the doctors there. In any case, the players (and their characters, of course) are very upset at James for killing the teller.


I am so happy to finally get a chance to play this after so many years. We're using a flowchart built out of the ADDICT analysis of how AD&D combat is supposed to go, done by "skidoo". There's a discussion of the flowchart here, as well as a link to the file. I printed it out at Lulu, for under $10 (including shipping) in color, and we're probably going to print at least one more.

For the first time ever playing AD&D, I rolled a Charisma of 17 and all of the other stats appropriate for a Paladin, so I thought I'd give that a go. The other players include a Druid, an Elf Fighter/Magic User, and a Half-Orc Thief. The DM has relaxed the restrictions on what alignments a Paladin can adventure with (he is himself a Christian Pastor, and believes that those who act for Good in the world must engage with those who are not in a positive manner).

We are apparently playing some pre-designed adventure of some sort. First, we went to a village to stop a plague of people becoming zombies. This involved looting a castle and finding a ring of some kind of necromantic magic that had gotten into the water supply. Next, we've traveled on what seems to be a snipe hunt, trying to get parts of a monster that doesn't, according to the locals, exist. We've also found ourselves involved in skirmishes with a goblin tribe. That's going well.

Call of Cthulhu

A friend of mine who is a horror author has decided to run the game, and invited me along with some others to play, usually once a month. We've done some pre-designed adventures that were basically quick railroads, as often happens with CoC adventures. Those have been learning experiences for my friend, and so he has decided to skip all that and go on to Masks of Nyarlathotep. Since I've never played that one before, I am looking forward to it. Still have to make up my two characters for the more long-term campaign, but I'm probably going to be playing a writer and a wealthy dilettante. The best thing about this game is that we have introduced one friend to roleplaying for the first time, where most of us have played to one degree or another, and she has decided that she absolutely loves it.

I dunno, not much more to say about that one right now.

Fantasy Wargaming

The players in my GURPS game have said that they are interested in playing a Fantasy Wargaming game, so I have decided to take my idea of turning the twenty Kingdoms of the SCA into a setting. The players are going to show up in the city of Madrone, in the Kingdom of An Tir. I am therefore putting that together. The city will be done up in a manner that is inspired by City-State of the Invincible Overlord, but with my own experiences of that and some other ideas I've seen over the years. I am putting together a map first, at a scale of one square to 10 feet, with the squares being ten to the inch and the paper being 22" × 17". I've sketched out the city and the shoreline on regular 8½" × 11", 4 squares to the inch graph paper, and each quarter of that paper will be one sheet of the larger paper. That means that each quarter inch will be a full inch on the larger paper. Anyway, as it stands, I've got enough room for a population of roughly 12,000 to 13,000 people in the city, which seems about right for a major city in a "points of light" style setting. The hard part is going to be filling in the buildings, but it just means putting in the effort. Then I get to use the city forever afterward. Doing it in pencil means that I can make things happen and change, too.

I am definitely going to have encounter charts for the various streets and markets, both during the day and at night. People will be listed in a simplified format in the key, based on the listings for spirits in FW and the listings for NPCs in CSIO, along with any rumors they might know. Inns and taverns will have a basic menu. Other establishments will just indicate what sort of business they are, and leave prices to All This and a 10' Pole if they aren't in FW already.

The House Rules I am going to add to FW from the start will be:

  • Starting characters get a free 1000XP to put where the player wants, with the recommendation to take them all in one category so that the character has a full level.
  • Female characters will have 2000XP, and only take a -1 Social Class, but they will be affected by the other modifiers as listed.
  • Astrology will not affect Social Class.
  • I don't want to deal with anti-semitism, and that's pretty antithetical to the SCA (remember that the setting is based loosely on the SCA, I'm planning to even incorporate actual SCA history into the setting, suitably altered), so any results on the "Bogey" table of "Jewish" will just be re-rolled (characters may be Jewish, but in game mechanical terms that will have no effect other than they can't appeal to Saints or other Christian figures; I may have to define some angels for Jews to make appeals to if a player wants to be Jewish) and there will be no Cabalists.
  • The only religions, for game purposes, will be Christian, Satanist, and Heathen. Heathen will represent pretty much the whole gamut of related religions, Irish Gentlidecht and similar Celtic heathen religions, Slavic heathen religions, and so on. It's close enough for the purposes of a game that is mainly being played to help with developing the game for modern use anyway. In development, I plan to treat the various heathen religions, Judaism, Islam, and so on separately and in more detail, but right now I just want to get something on the table for play.
So, that's what I've got going right now. Any comments, advice, whatever will be appreciated, though I don't guarantee that I'll take or agree with them!

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