Monday, January 31, 2011

[Resources] The Wizards Three

Need a couple or more historical wizards? There are at least three in the books: Two known each as the "Wizard Earl" and another fellow named Michael Scot.

Henry Percy, the 9th Earl of Northumberland, aka the Wizard Earl, was born in 1564 and became known for his scientific and alchemical knowledge plus his immense library, one of the largest in England at the time. His circle of friends included Queen Elizabeth's astrologer, John Dee, and he was a member of a scientific circle that Shakespeare referred to as the "School of Night." He spent 17 years in the Tower of London, a prisoner of  King James I of England and VI of Scotland as a suspected conspirator in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He died on the 5th of November (ironic, no?), 1632.

Gerald FitzGerald, the 11th Earl of Kildare, was also known as the Wizard Earl. He was born in 1525 and died in 1585. He was an Irish Peer and escaped to Belgium after his half-brother, the 10th Earl, along with five of his uncles, were executed. He was educated in a monestary, spent time in Italy and Tripoli, and finally regained his lands. He became known as an alchemist and had a sinister reputation of having magical abilities. After he died, his ghost, mounted on a ghostly white horse with silver-shod horseshoes, is reputed to return to Kilkea Castle every seventh year (his next appearance is scheduled for 2012).

The final wizard is Michael Scot (1175 - 1232). Born in Scotland, Scot was educated in Durham, Oxford and Paris. He focused on mathematics and astrology, as well as philosophy and theology, becoming an ordained priest. He wrote at least four manuscripts, dealing with the occult and alchemy, and became known as a wizard shortly following his "death," which is assumed 1232 but no records remain. He was reputed to provide his friends with magical food, brought by spirits from the tables of the kings of Europe, as well as turned a coven of witches into a stone circle (a stone circle that has 51 stones - not quite the usual 13 for a witches coven).

These three wizards are just a tip of the iceberg (you can definitely find a few more in the histories) and can be used in any Earth setting, from the Elizabethan era to modern day, fantasy to scientific, and action/adventure to mystery. Give it a go!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

[1938] The Isle of Man Campaign

File:Isle of Man map-en.svg
After a failed attempt by BUF forces to invade the Isle of Man in 1938, the remnants of the invasion force landed in Port St. Mary and quickly took the town. Soon, they found themselves under siege, with only the sea to receive resupply from Mosley.

The rest of the Isle is now in a protracted action against the entrenched fascist forces in Port St. Mary. In the midst of this scene, the PCs are native Manx islanders who have a vested interest in getting the BUF soldiery out of the port and off the island. Perhaps loved ones are in the town, or possibly they seek revenge against atrocities done, or even a treasure without compare is hidden in a basement. Each of the PCs will have some reason to get the fascists out of that town and off th isle.

Night actions, sea raids on Mosley supply ships, and using the re-armed British Mark V tank from the Castletown Great War Memorial to storm the trenches, all the while waging a espionage war with Royalist spies in Douglas, will keep the PCs very busy in this part of 1938: A Very British Civil War.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

[My Collection] Harn

From the mists of time, Hârn came. Written by the late and much lamented N. Robin Crossby and first published by Columbia Games in 1983, it slid into a sea of RPGs with a radical idea - realistic, medieval fantasy, with low-power magic and limited to the bare minimum staple of fantasy races: humans, elves, dwarves and orcs. Columbia Games was never a powerhouse in the early 80s, in fact, by any stretch of the imagination, it was one of the first true "indie" game companies.

Originally Harn was simply a campaign setting but later became an RPG in it's own right, with the publication of HarnMaster in 1986 (with 2nd and 3rd editions published in 1996 and 2002, respectively). The detail was astounding and probably, to many minds at the time, boring as hell. Why bother dealing with minutia when you could be slaying orcs? Well, sometimes that minutia is damn interesting.

This was another game that I missed (even though it was being published less than 120 miles from my home in the PNW). I don't even remember hearing about Harn until the late 80s or early 90s, though I probably saw the ads in Dragon Magazine. That didn't stop me from getting most of the supplements that I want. Unfortunately, I still lack some issues of the Encyclopedia Harnica (Issues 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 11) and just one of the magic pamphlets (Savorya). has a whole mess of reviews on the subject (with just a sampling 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) which may prove interesting to you and A Paladin in Citadel blog recently had an excellent post on it as well.

Friday, January 28, 2011

[1938] Timeline, Part 2: The Alternate Timeline


Continuing the timeline of 1938: A Very British Civil War (reference Edward VIII Cocktail Bar forum thread):

1936, December 7: King Edward VIII and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin meet a second time, where the King informs the prime minister he will marry Mrs. Simpson. Baldwin and the cabinet resign.

1936, December 11: The King asks his friend Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), to be prime minister.

1936, mid-late December: In light of an unelected prime minister, both houses of parliament walk out, leaving Mosley to form a rump parliament. Across the country, people protest the appointment of Mosley as well as the parliament. The BUF take to the streets in response, attacking protesters.

1937, January: Opposition by the The Church of England to the King's planned marriage increases in most of the United Kingdom. Additionally, anti-Mosley protests and riots occur across the country.

1937, February: The King authorizes the Chief Constables to create auxiliary constabularies to assist police in quelling the unrest. Often, these constabularies are staffed with BUF members, prompting many to call them "Mosley's Legion."  In Scotland, the cities of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee experience a wide variety of protests and strikes, all aimed at the Mosley administration.

1937, February 15: Supply trains for the BUF and the army are hijacked near Nottingham, with no clues to the culprits. The local rail union chapters are suspected.

1937, April. The Scottish Kirk issues a statement decrying the King planned marriage.

1937, April 4: The BUF fight at several protests, including York and Wighill.

1937, April 12: A military supply convoy is ambushed in Yorkshire near Ferrybridge. The Yorkshire Communist Collective claim responsibility.

1937, May 12: In the midst of King Edward VIII formal coronation, shots are fired at the royal car. BUF soldiers fire onto the crowds, sparking the Guards regiments to retaliate against the BUF.

1937, May 13: The King orders Mosley to declare martial law. The Scots, Welsh and Irish Guards regiments are disbanded at the King's orders. Mosley expands the auxiliary constabularies powers. The United Kingdom is in civil war.

1937, late May: Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom, declaring the King unfit. The Scots Guards are welcomed home with full honors. Between June and September, several Scottish regiments desert and return home, bringing their not inconsiderable equipment with them. The BUF are violently forced from Scotland.

1937, June: Wales splits between a national movement in the north and those loyal to the King in the south. The mayor of Cardiff welcomes the Welsh Guards home and bases them in the city. Many coal pits in the south create socialist militias. The BUF elements of the auxiliary constabularies form their own official BUF Legions, separate from police control and answerable to Mosley.

1937, August: Dock workers strike in Liverpool.

1937, September: With more authorized powers, the BUF attempt to break the Liverpool dock strike and the city explodes in violence. The Liverpool Regiment defects to support the city council and the Liverpool Free State soon forms. Royalist forces lay seige to Liverpool.

1937, September: Military campaigns into Scotland, with battles at Sumburgh, Castlegate and Glasgow. A final battle at the Bridge of Dee formally establishes Scottish independence. Cornwall experiences growing violence.

1937, November: British troops, with loyalty split between Cornwall and the King, fire on each other. The Scottish border is fortified by both sides.

1938, January: Indian troops are moved to tension points around the Empire, like the Middle East, to facilitate a recall of troops to England. The BUF march on Canterbury to capture the city and the Archbishop. The attack ends in a military and propaganda disaster for Mosley and the King. The Archbishop of Canterbury, in league with other bishops, forms the Anglican League as a result.

1938, February:  The BUF Canterbury front stalls in the Medway. Mosley appoints BUF governors and administrators across the Empire. Canada and Australia decline the appointments.

1938, March: BUF militia attempt to disrupt the nascent Scottish Republic.

1938, April: Carlisle is shelled.

1938, May: General Wynd-Grator receives rushed orders to return to England. Gathering his army around him, he marches to Acre and sets sail to England.

1938, June: BUF troops invade the Isle of Man but the Islanders, with Scottish assistance, turns back the invasion. Port St. Mary is occupied by the remnants of the BUF invasion force and soon under siege by Manx forces.

1938, July: Wynd-Grator establishes a base in the Channel Islands to raid (and eventually invade) England.

1938, August: Scottish forces under command of Admiral James Douglas-Buccleah, land near Liverpool to aid the Liverpool Free State. The Royalist army bars the Scots from the city, so Douglas-Buccleah marches south, causing havok along the way.

1938, September 3: Scottish forces capture Shrewsbury then retreat through northern Wales to the coast.

1938, September: Scottish forces return to Scotland via boat.

1938, October: The International Brigades withdraw from Spain.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

[Aftermath!] GURPS Operation Morpheus, Session 4, Part 2

Session Four: Part 2: "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (April 4, 2104)

Important PCs: James (S), Bill (X), Bob (E), Alexis (C)

Important NPCs: Robbie the PolRob, Nasdaq the Robot, and assorted Giant Spiders.

The Carslaw Building, as they found out by doing some simple research, houses the Student Union, as well as some Administrative and Math Department offices.

Group B again gets in the saddle and prepares for action. They load up their Land Rover again with the electrical generator and also bring along food and water, not knowing how long they will be out. With Robbie the PolRob and Nasdaq the Robot along, Group B leaves Anderson Stuart at 9 AM and drives to the Carslaw Building, only a few blocks away.

Carslaw is a large four-storied L shaped building with a separate auditorium out-building. They drive around Carslaw and notice that all the ground floor doors, with the exception of the main front doors, are sealed with heavy plates welded over the doors and that all the first floor windows have metal shutters also welded shut. The second and above floor windows just have sealed metal shutters, probably bolted from the inside.

Parking between the auditorium and the main building, out of sight of the main road and in a relatively secure spot, Group B disembarks and leaves Robbie to guard the car. The Group gets into a short discussion about Robbie's verbal orders concerning the car and who should be allowed access to it. With that issue ironed out, they decide to check out the auditorium first.

Entering the auditorium, with James in the lead and the rest following, the Group finds an old, makeshift field hospital. Scores of body bags, most filled, are piled everywhere around the floor. Used medical supplies - needles, empty bags of medical fluids, syrettes, bandages, scalpels, surgical scrubs and more - are scattered among the many surgical tables. Powerful battery-powered halogen lamps are placed above the tables, their batteries now run down.

Bob expresses interest in opening some of the body bags to determine how the occupants died but is quickly shouted down by the rest of the Group. Both Bill and James believe that this was a combat hospital - the sheer amount of shredded and age-blackened uniform battle dress bear this out - and that this was used during the defense of the University, 100 years ago.

Looking around, James finds several pieces of unknown combat armor. On the inside of the armor they find Russian letters. James says that it was probably Spetz-Naz issued armor. Finding nothing of value in the auditorium, the Group heads to the main building.

Opening the wide, wooden double front doors, they enter the dark recesses of a large foyer/hall with openings leading to the rest of the building in each wall. Flashlights out, James leads the way with Bob second and the rest following, the Group head towards the opening opposite the front doors.

Looking through the opening, they all see that, with their limited flashlights, a majority of the building is an empty shell. Across the building, they see one huge hole in the ceiling and several smaller holes, each illuminating a pile of roof debris with sunlight.

Believing that there may be some of the upper floors still intact in the darkened areas of Carslaw or that there may be a bunker, the Group decides to explore a little. Bill and Alexis stay by the foyer, while James, Bob and Nasdaq walk towards the largest pile of sunlit debris. Nasdaq turns on its personal spotlight.

Half way across this cavernous floor, James leaves Bob and Nasdaq and continues on towards the debris alone, holding his Gauss Needler at the ready. Bob covers James with his M16. James approaches the large debris pile and almost goes completely around it but realizes it will cut him off visually from Bob and company. He turns to come back and is knocked to the floor by a sudden attack!

Bob sees a giant thing jump from the shadows onto James' back and knock him to the ground. James quick-draws his pistol and fires over his shoulder at his attacker, shooting three rounds off right next to his ear. Filled with horror and disbelief at seeing Giant Spider #1 jump on James, Bob nonetheless opens fire and kills Giant Spider #1. Bill, seeing James get attacked, rushes toward him to render medical aid.

Suddenly, all around them they hear the sounds of many, many, many Giant Spiders moving. Bill drops, completely fainting at such a horrific noise. James drops his pistol and lies stunned by the sheer horror of it all as Bob orders Nasdaq to go get James.

Taking short steps backward, Bob brings his M16 to bear all around him, keeping moving to avoid being a tempting target for these 8-legged horrors. Alexis moves up to Bill and, with Bill's collar in one hand and her M16 in the other, slowly drags Bill towards the foyer and escape. Bob quickly radios to Robbie to come assist them.

James recovers his senses and his Needler as Nasdaq grabs his collar and lifts him to standing position. The two of them start walking back to the foyer, with Nasdaq covering Bob and James watching both their backs. Bob, meanwhile, notices two Giant Spiders (#3 and #4) descending on Alexis and Bill and opens fire, striking one but only wounding it. The wounded Giant Spider #2 drops on Alexis and she uses her Judo training to smash it to the floor under her. It grapples her, pinning her arms to her sides. Giant Spider #3 lands on Bill and quickly gets him lifted to carry off.

As two more Giant Spiders (#5 and #6) descend on Alexis, causing her to freak out, Bob, still taking short steps toward the foyer, fires at Giant Spider #2, killing it, then turns his gun on but missing Giant Spider #3.

Suddenly, Nasdaq fires his built-in Gauss Needler full burst, killing Giant Spider #7 hanging above Bob's head. Giant Spider #7 drops onto Bob, striking him but not knocking him down.

Giant Spiders #3 and #6 get Bill in their clutches and start dragging him off as Giant Spider #5 wrestles Alexis to the ground. In it's many arms, Alexis is helpless as the spider drags her toward the darkness. Bob fires on Giant Spider #5 and kills it, freeing Alexis, as James turns around and has Nasdaq cover their backs.

Alexis amazingly still has her M16 and both she and Bob kill Giant Spider #6. Alexis is the only one close enough to hear Giant Spider #3 cry "No, Mommie!" as Giant Spider #6 dies. Shaken but resolute, Alexis brings her gun to bear on Giant Spider #3 as James fires the killing shot from his Needler into Giant Spider #3.

With seven dead Giant Spiders around them, Group B opts for a tactical retreat - quickly crossing the foyer and getting the hell out of Carslaw.

Once outside and together with Robbie, Alexis tells the others what the spider said and believes that they are intelligent! James wonders where he dropped his pistol. Suddenly, the Group realizes that they are being observed from the rooftops by the spiders and James spots something!

End Session Four.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

[1938] Timeline, Part 1: What Happened in Our Time

File:General gouraud french army world war i machinegun marne 1918.JPEG

Here's the first part of the timeline for 1938: A Very British Civil War (reference Edward VIII Cocktail Bar forum thread), including the important events in the prior decades, which had a lot of effects on the current conflict.
The Great War:
1914 - 1918: The Great War. 1.1 million soldiers in the British Imperial Forces die over the course of the war.

Interwar period:
1918 - 1921: Economic output falls in the United Kingdom by 25%

1918, August 30: 12,000 men of the London Metropolitan Police Force strike for better pay, pensions and pension rights for widows. 

1919, mid-year: A series of police strikes occur all over England. The Police Act of 1919 establishes the Police Federation, a union separate from trade unions.

1922: Hunger marches to London, organized by the National Unemployed Workers' Movement. These marches are repeated in 1928, 1930, 1932, 1934 and 1936.

1926, May 3 - 13: In an unsuccessful attempt to get the government involved, the Trades Union Congress called a  General Strike which lasted 10 days to protect wages.

1929: Unemployment at 1 million.

1929, October 29: The Stock Market Crash in the United States of America heralds the beginning of the Great Depression, sending aftershocks throughout the world. In Britain, it is known as the Great Slump. Almost overnight, demand for British products dried up.

1930: Unemployment increases to 2.5 million (nearly 20% of the workforce).

1931, September 15 - 16: Royal Navy sailors mutiny at Invergordon, Scotland, over reduction in pay.

1932, October: Sir Oswald Mosley forms the British Union of Fascists (BUF).

1936: Farmers refuse to pay tithes to the Church of England in what was known as the Tithe War.

1936, July 17: The Spanish Civil War starts when General Franco leads fascist rebels against the  Second Spanish Republic after the election of leftist President Manuel Azaña.

1936, September: Volunteers leave for Spain.

1936, October: 200 protesters march from Jarrow to London, over 300 miles, to petition Parliament about unemployment and poverty.

1936, October 4: A riot breaks out between the police protecting the BUF and 100,000 anti-fascist protesters in an event known as The Battle of Cable Street.

1936, November 16: The King meets with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to discuss the King's desire to marry double-divorcee Wallis Simpson. Baldwin informs the king that the government will resign en masse if he marries her. Baldwin's view is held by the other Commonwealth countries.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

[Vids] The Unusuals

The Unusuals was a short-lived cop show that originally aired in 2009. Only 10 episodes were made before it was cancelled by ABC.

It's a combined comedy-drama, with some pretty funny and at the same time heavy stuff: one of the minor characters has a brain tumor and another wears body armor because he thinks he's going to get shot. Since these two are partners, it is both tragic and comic.

The main characters are played by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Amber Tamblyn (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). Jeremy's Detective Walsh is by far the better watch, playing a cool cop surrounded by oddballs, while Amber's Detective Shraeger doesn't quite hit all the cylinders (at least in the first few episodes I've seen) but I'm hopeful.

I'm liking the show so far. With only 10 episodes, it may not build up steam enough to have some good development, character and overall story arc-wise, but it's given me some ideas for a cop-inspired modern game.

Maybe I'll write up my thoughts on this and post them sometime.

Monday, January 24, 2011

[Blogs] Marchland

My friend Mark has written up his urban fantasy Savage Worlds campaign setting, Marchland, on his blog (You may remember this campaign from my earlier posts 1, 2 and 3). The campaign is set in the town of Brighton Bay, near Seattle, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest (you can get there by ferry).

So far he's got info on the town and surrounding geography (including 15 town locations written up, from the Town Hall to Fort Allard State Park and Froudian Slip pub to Pine Grove Cemetery, with the Public Market, St. Mary's Cathedral and the ODDitorium in between.

A heading for characters gives three excellent setting-specific examples, Revenants, Fae-Blooded and Grave Touched, along with Edges and Hindrances for Savage Worlds.

Mark explores the Fae in another section, creating Fae Boons and Scourges for PCs and NPCs, while his Spirits section does similarly for the ghostly, with Spirit Favors and Burdens.

The remaining three web pages outline Magic, the Otherworld, and a Bestiary.

There's good stuff here for an urban fantasy game, enough that I haven't fully read through it all. I suggest you check it out.

Hmmm. A thought comes to mind ... having a cross-city adventure, with Mark's Marchland and my Fae Portland (see Issue 1 and 11 of my Switching to Guns 'zine).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today is the first anniversary of Asshat Paladins.

I've done a year worth of posts so I'm taking today off. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

[Characters] Harry Lime

File:Orson Welles 1937.jpg
In the 1949 classic noir film The Third Man, Orson Welles plays immoral black-marketeer Harry Lime trying desperately to escape war-ravaged Vienna right after World War II.

Harry steals a new antibiotic called penicillin from local military hospitals, dilutes it then sells it on the black market, to the detriment of his customers. He fakes his own death to take the money and run, escaping the law on all sides: Soviet, American, British and French.

Unfortunately, his old friend Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) shows up and tries to find out what happened to Harry. Hearing that Harry had been struck and killed by a truck, he investigates, trying to find a mysterious third man spotted at the scene of the accident when only two had been reported. I won't ruin any more of the movie for you but I suggest you watch it. Orson Welles is excellent.

Now back to our Harry.

He's wonderfully immoral. A perfect NPC for any game. Either as a foil for the PCs or a black market contact or a friend that becomes an enemy over time. And he's damn useful in any genre.

When Holly asks him "Have you ever seen any of your victims?" Harry responds:

"You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax - the only way you can save money nowadays."


"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."


"Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs - it's the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I." 

and when Holly says "You used to believe in God." Harry corrects him:

"Oh, I still do believe in God, old man. I believe in God and Mercy and all that. But the dead are happier dead. They don't miss much here, poor devils."

Watch the film. Use Harry in your next game. And, don't worry, I'm not going to bother writing up his stats because you should decide what skills, abilities and qualities make him fit your game best. Just make sure he's perfectly immoral and have fun with him. You won't be disappointed.

I'll let Harry end this post with his best:

"What did you want me to do? Be reasonable. You didn't expect me to give myself up... 'It's a far, far better thing that I do.' The old limelight. The fall of the curtain. Oh, Holly, you and I aren't heroes. The world doesn't make any heroes outside of your stories. "

Friday, January 21, 2011

[Resources] The Lost Tomb of Caligula

A thief found the lost tomb of Caligula!

The thief was caught loading a 2.5 meter (over 8 foot) statue, worth a million Euros, of the emperor onto a truck. After questioning by police, the criminal led them to the site, on the shores of Lake Nemi, south of Rome.

I don't know about you but that is a pretty cool adventure story, perfect for an RPG. Is this an opportunity to spring the Tomb of Horrors on the players of a medieval scenario? Or more like King Tut's Tomb (including requisite curse) set in the 1930s? Or an action-adventure ala National Treasure with world-spanning clues for a modern game? So many ways to run this.

I'd be interested to see if anyone does this. Maybe I'll find some time to map out the tomb myself.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

[Aftermath!] GURPS Operation Morpheus, Session 4, Part 1

Session Four: Part 1: "Question Everything" (April 1 - 3, 2104)

Important PCs: James (S), Bill (X), Bob (E), Alexis (C)

Important NPCs: Miles Dayton, Rich Johnson, Amanda Hayes, John Ritter, Andy Smith, Reactor Controller at Anderson Stuart Bunker, Steve Miller, IT Lead at Anderson Stuart Bunker, Jill St. John, biologist at Anderson Stuart Bunker, Matt Borselli, various other Uni Survivors.

Group A and Group B return to Anderson Stuart Bunkers with the University Reactor on full automated power.

James and Miles spend their down time investigating the crazy PolRobs, learning about their weaknesses and best target locations. They also use the undamaged parts to re-build damaged sections of Robbie the PolRob. James and Miles also remove the crazy PolRobs computer cores and give them to Alexis to check. Miles and James also tell each other about what they've seen around the Uni campus - Miles mentions a partially-destroyed Soviet helicopter in the ruins of St. John's College.

Bill assists James and Miles in this project as well as spends a good amount of time studying medicine. Talking to Dr. Shaw and several other doctors in Anderson Stuart allows Bill to improve his skills.

Alexis spends time with the Anderson Stuart IT group, headed by Steve Miller, bringing them up to speed on the Trojan Horse program and assists them in trying to overcome it. Most of her time is spent on the computer. When James and Miles bring Alexis the crazy PolRobs computer cores, she finds that they were not programmed to attack Group B. Instead she finds evidence of hard drive damage in each of them which mixed their Civilian Goodwill programming with their Combat Protocols programming. Alexis learns about how PolRobs are programmed and writes a few test programs for Robbie.

Bob goes to the biology department and gives biologist Jill St. John the unknown creature fur. Jill says she'll take a look at it and let him know what she finds out. Bob then meets with Andy about the whole Reactor thing. He also assists Andy and a group of Uni militia in returning to the Physics Building and setting up automated/watchdog systems for the Reactor. Bob notices when he goes back to the Physics Building that the lights are all back to normal (dim) around the University Campus. Andy instructs Bob on how to start up any other reactor he might find on campus. Jill calls up Bob and lets him know that the fur is not of any known species (circa 2003 knowledge) but it has some similarities with rats. Jill and Bob have dinner and discuss the matter further.

After these few days of rest and study, Matt from Supply brings both Group A and Group B some new weapons. Each Group gets 2 new Gauss Needler Rifles. Each is overpowered (10D IMP damage) and has limited ammunition (each gun gets 2 - 100 round clips). Each gun can fire single shot, short burst (3), and full burst (20). James and Alexis arm themselves with these guns, as Miles and Amanda are chosen to get them for Group A.

Group B is back on duty and decides to follow Alexis's lead: "Carslaw Building. Security Code: Transmit-Chocolate-Novel-Eight-Five-Niner-Jacket"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

[Blogs] A Character For Every Game
A Character For Every Game blog is an excellent resource for OSR fiends. Dyson, the blog writer, is full of great stuff, including character write-ups and (more importantly) maps!

Just check out the Dyson's Delve, a 11 level dungeon that is cool beyond cool. But he doesn't stop there - another is Atarin's Delve. And there's also Dodecahedron No. 1 and Peridane's Tomb!  Wait a sec, you can't swing a dead and disease-bearing polecat* around his blog without hitting at least 151 different cool things before breakfast.

In fact, what are you waiting for? Stop wasting your time reading my crap and go there now!

* Note: The author intends no insult to any dead and disease-bearing polecats out there or to those who love or have loved their own dead and disease-bearing polecat.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

[Resources] Scramjet X-51 WaveRider!

Boeing tested the unmanned X-51 WaveRider on May 26th, 2010, reaching Mach 5 in over 200 seconds of flight with the longest scramjet burn of 140 seconds. While the proposed speed was Mach 6 for 300 seconds, this is just another step to potentially replace bulky oxidizers needed to boost rockets into space and achieve real space travel.

You can use this fine bit of technology in a modern espionage game or alien invasion setting or even in a future explore-past-the-solar-system campaign.

Monday, January 17, 2011

[Quotes] Cole Younger

"We tried a desperate game and lost. But we are rough men used to rough ways, and we will abide by the consequences." - Cole Younger, 1876, member of the James-Younger Gang

Sunday, January 16, 2011

[1938] Setting Up the Campaign

File:NationaalArchief uboat155London.jpg
After reading through the six 1938: A Very British Civil War books I received before Christmas and checking out the Edward VIII Cocktail Bar forum (the official forums of the VBCW), I decided to prepare a Savage Worlds campaign.

The reference materials I'm going use are Savage Worlds Explorers Edition and Savage Worlds Weird War II (an excellent book that is close enough to the time period that it will work well) plus some of the stuff from Savage UNIT (edges, hindrances and such, even though it's considered modern era), as well as the six 1938: A Very British Civil War series books: Main Sourcebook (MS), The Gathering Storm, Part 1 (GS1), The Gathering Storm, Part 2 (GS2), The Fall of the Empire (FE), A Guide to the Anglican League (GAL), Factions, Flags and Formations, Volume 1 (FFF).

In addition to the campaign notes, I'll also be writing up some specific vehicles, weapons and such that I'll be using, some from the Great War and some from the 20s and 30s. But that's not all.

The single change in the setting material is that I'm going to nix the Spanish Civil War (though I'm going to include it in the "official" timeline I will post in over the next few 1938 posts). The reason I'm going to ignore it is that I think that having the main conflict in England, while the rest of the world uses it as they used the Spanish Civil War - as a cockpit to try out equipment and tactics and other stuff that was later used in WWII. So Franco and the rest of the Nationalist generals end up dead, killed by Spaniards loyal to the elected government of Spain, all within two or so weeks of the start. It becomes a short footnote in history, an attempted coup that failed utterly. So the International Brigades are going to be forming up and going to England instead. That will give plenty of  role-playing opportunities for my players.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

[Resources] The Tombs

"What is this dismal fronted pile of bastard Egyptian, like an enchanter's palace in a melodrama?" - Charles Dickens, American Notes, 1842

The Tombs was a jail in New York City on lower Manhattan. Originally built in 1838 on a full block of the city to hold the police, courts and jail, the structure looked like an ancient Egyptian mausoleum and was designed for 300 prisoners.

It's official name was the New York Halls of Justice and House of Detention but it was colloquially called The Tombs. The building was replaced in 1902 (The Tombs II) and then again in 1941 (The Tombs III) and renamed the Manhattan House of Detention. The Tombs III finally was closed in 1974 and replaced with another jail, this one The Tombs IV.

The Tombs appears in popular culture and is a great resource for GMs with the history of jails in New York.

Friday, January 14, 2011

[Monsters] Blood Ravens

Blood Ravens are magical and terrifying creatures that feed on the blood and flesh of their victims. Their habit is desolate moors and wilderness areas. The ravens usual tactic is to swarm lone travelers and drain them of their blood, then feed on the corpse. When faced with a group, they follow then ambush stragglers or attack at night.

Blood Raven
Agility d10 Smarts d4 (A) Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Pace 2 Parry 6 Toughness 4 Charisma -0-

Special Abilities: Flight (Pace 15, Acceleration 5), Beak Attack (STR+d6), Blood Drain (on successful Beak Attack, victim must make Vigor check or gain one level of Fatigue), Size -2, Slow (Pace 2 on ground), Alertness

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d6, Intimidation d8, Notice d6+2.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

[Aftermath!] GURPS Operation Morpheus, Session 4, Cut Scenes

Tuesday sessions - GURPS Operation Morpheus Session 4 (October 23, 2003)

Session Four: "I don't like Spiders and Snakes" (April 1 - 4, 2104)

The Computer System: In a darkened room, a large mainframe computer is working away. On many monitors around the room are images flashing too fast for the human eye. On one monitor is a view of the University defense perimeter. Robots are seen clearing the defense perimeter of useful weapons and equipment from the dead.

The Loonies: Aftermath of the fight with the mysterious creatures. Dead lying everywhere, each killed in a very messy manner - by teeth and claws of these dangerous creatures. All the dead, however, are just the humans. None of the dead includes these creatures and it is quite obvious that many of the creatures died in this assault. Bob (E) manages to get some of the unknown creature's fur for analysis!

The Russians: Again a meeting of this council group. Vladimir stands before the group and talks extensively, all the time pointing to various spots on a map of Sydney. Natasha and Ivor seem to agree with Vladimir while Nikoli and many other council members obviously disagree.

Garden Island Dockyards: The dockyards are surrounded by a defense perimeter similar to but more extensive than Sydney University. In drydock sits the CVN 83 USS Coral Sea, a Nimitz class Carrier. A flock of seagulls fly by and the guns on the perimeter, as well as defense guns on the Coral Sea, track the flock but do not fire. Hundreds of PolRobs and SecRobs patrol the silent compound.

Domain Commune: Several council members, Karma Stephens, Robert Weale, and Deborah Maynard, meet and trade with an independent group, which most of the local communities call "Pirate Corp$." This local group is known as the Practical Smokers. There are about 7 members to this group. Weapons, armor and equipment are indifferent. Several members have bows, one has a crossbow, three have black powder rifles and one even has an old M16. Armor ranges from heavy leather to old police riot gear to chain mail. Swords and clubs hang from belts and many knives are thrust through belts and into boot tops.

Downtown Sydney: That group of strange robed people move through the darkness in downtown Sydney, chanting in Latin (all good chanting has to be in Latin, you know).

The Duchy of Sydney: An Eastlake noble, Baron Robert Dylan, receives reports from patrols about unusual creatures that have been sighted in the ruins but dismisses it as "foolish talk."

The Mystery Man: Still in the same room, the man is watching the computer monitor. On the computer monitor is a view of the Sydney University Physics building mainframe computer. The bookmark in the book "Poisons for Professionals" is in a later chapter.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

[My Collection] Wyrd is Bond

Key20 is now out of business ( needs to update their info). Before they went under, I managed to pick up Wyrd is Bond.

The brief is rap, and rap singers, are able to tap into magic and do magical things. The world isn't quite ready for magic to come from gang bangers and street thugs, though. And there are a bunch of different gangs around, each with a different magical schtick, which are outlined in the book. It's an interesting premise that I hope to explore sometime in the future. Whether I actually use the rule set or not, it's a good resource. Find it if you can. has two reviews (1, 2) and a couple of threads on it (3, 4).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

[Monsters] Huginn and Muninn

Thought and Memory, they are called, Huginn and Muninn. They supposedly work for Odin, but in any semi-magical setting, they can be used as information gatherers of any one-eyed knowledge god. But let's just pretend that they're Odin's very own.

Muninn seeks the slain and Huginn looks for hanged men (at least according to some verses) but that was in the past. They're much more than that now. Odin doesn't mind, though. As long as they bring him what he wants, he's satisfied.

I'm presenting their stats simply because maybe, just maybe, they'll be in a fight. But usually that's a last resort for them. They wander about the world (or worlds) gathering information, talking to people here and animals there, getting it all. And they're free with it, as long as the price is right.

Sometimes a nice rabbit, sometimes part of a song, then the other times, when a favor or even your soul will do nicely. And they always collect. If anything, don't bother trying to cheat them. They've got contacts everywhere who owe them and they always collect, one way or the other.

Just remember: they're not human and they're definitely not just animals, either. Forget that at your peril.

Thought or Memory (WC)
Agility d10 Smarts d12 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Pace 2 Parry 6 Toughness 4 Charisma +2

Special Abilities: Flight (Pace 20, Acceleration 5), Beak Attack (STR+d6), Size -2, Slow (Pace 2 on ground), Alertness, Connections, Quick, Improved Level-Headed, Investigator, Acrobat, Charismatic.

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d8, Intimidation d8, Streetwise d10+2, Knowledge (History) d10, Knowledge (Languages) d12, Knowledge (Riddles) d8, Investigation d12+2, Persuasion d12+2, Notice d12+2.

Monday, January 10, 2011

[Alignment] Lawful Good

Lawful Good, "Crusader"

A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

[Resources] Wife Selling

Wife selling - who'da thunk?

In England during the 17th century, it was pretty hard to get a divorce, so enterprising husbands sold their wives instead. Since English law saw women as subordinate to men in marriage, it was an unusual response to the lack of separation and divorce with many judges claiming they had not right to stop the sale.

If it was a possibility in Jolly Ole England, what makes it more of a possibility in a fantasy setting? Even if slavery is unlawful, this could be a different form of it and not quite up to the law to resolve for a time.

I think I'm going to include this in a game sometime. Will the PCs stop the sale, find out why the family is being broken up? Or will one of them purchase a new wife, only to sell her again later. Or have them encounter a wife who's been sold, begging them for her safety and freedom. I haven't decided which but it'll be interesting and definitely bring the drama.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

[Hi Tech] The Puke Pistol

The PK-27, aka the "Puke" Pistol, is a short-range sonic weapon used by private security and police units to disable evil-doers and security threats in a non-lethal way.

PK-27 Sonic Pistol
Range: 5/10/20
Damage: victim makes Vigor check at -2 or be Shaken. A roll of 1, no matter the Wild Die roll, results in a level of Fatigue and causes the victim to "lose their lunch" and other bodily functions.
RoF: 1
Cost: 150
Weight: 2
Shots: 10
Notes: AP 2; sealed, rigid armor protects against any damage.

Friday, January 7, 2011

[My Collection] Fiasco

Billed as the Coen Brothers RPG, Fiasco has a fine following, especially gaining a boost after Wil Wheaton plugged it from GenCon 2010 via Twitter.

I was meaning to pick it up before all the hoop-la from Wil and have still to read it but I took a look recently over at the Bully Pulpit website at all the playsets for the game: WWII, Elizabethan England, Alaska, post-Civil War, and more. I'm definitely going to download them all! has only two reviews (1, 2), all good.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

[Aftermath!] GURPS Operation Morpheus, Session 3, Part 2

Session Three: Part 2: "Is It Like Today?" (April 1, 2104)

Important PCs: James (S), Bill (X), Bob (E), Alexis (C)

Important NPCs: Miles Dayton, Rich Johnson, Amanda Hayes, John Ritter, Andy Smith, Reactor Controller at Anderson Stuart Bunker, Steve Miller, IT Lead at Anderson Stuart Bunker, Robbie the PolRob, Nasdaq the Robot, various SecRobs, and several Uni Council Members.

The Reactor is working perfectly, and is fully operational. Group A and Group B are ordered to return to Anderson Stuart for R&R and additionally are ordered not to mess with the Ethernet connections for the Physics Building - the Council will determine if the Trojan Horse program presents a threat. James, however, disconnects the Ethernet connections contrary to these orders while Miles looks on, definitely not disagreeing with James.

As they leave the Physics Building with the crazy but no longer operational PolRobs, the lights are on in all the buildings around the University campus. James wonders why they all don't go around and shut off the lights but the Groups head home.

End Session Three.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

[Resources] The Black Lords of Florida

You've never heard of the Black Lords of Florida? Not surprising. I first became aware of them while watching Veronica Mars in episode "You Think You Know Somebody" (episode 5, season 1) from a throw-away line in the midst of some snappy banter, so they must be important enough for that daring and beautiful master sleuth to find out a little bit about them.

In fact, the "of Florida" is incorrect now. Sure, they started "The Great Game" (to use a term from Kipling's Kim) in Florida but have broadened their horizons to worldwide influence ever since.

Since they don't appear on any list of secret societies or are linked to any conspiracies (I know because I've checked with all my sources), you have to wonder - are they that good that they wouldn't appear on even a 5-person 'zine called "Conspiracy Theory"?

Maybe but I've had little luck. Taking some time investigating, I came up with two pieces of information and a bit of speculation.

First the information, which falls into two parts:

1. The Seminole is the collegiate annual of the University of Florida (aka UF, est. 1853). In the rare 1941 issue (few copies have come to light), graduating Senior Richard Rudley, the Class of '41 valedictorian, lists the following as his activities:

Student Government
Glee Club
Economic Club
BLFx13 = FBK
Chess Club

"BLF" is obviously the Black Lords of Florida. But what or who is "FBK?" Is it a person or some sort of code? Well, since Richard was killed two months after graduating while in London by a stray bomb (at least that's the story, though there are some descrepancies in the various reports I have seen on his death), we'll never know exactly but here's what I think.

UF, has only one "secret society," the Florida Blue Key (FBK) society. The initials match up. Now, compared to the nearly 20 secret societies at Yale, FBK has nearly the same level of influence at UF as Skull and Bones has at Yale. And FBK has branch societies all across the U.S. Since FBK was formed (1923), they've had the movers and shakers of the Florida elite set as members, which make it an excellent recruiting ground of the up-and-coming for the Black Lords (or at the very least a ready stable of shock troops and patsies for them).

2. The second bit of information is a rich guy named Conrad Black, a Canadian citizen with an English title, Lord of Crossharbour, was convicted of fraud in Illinois and served time in a prison in Florida. Sure, a tenuous link ("Black," "Lord" and "Florida") but maybe they had something to do with that.

Now the speculation: Does their name itself provides some clues? The more salacious among us could go completely off the rails and wildly speculate that they're a Satanic-based cult, a response to the Masons, or even that they're some sort of Voodoo drug gang operating out of Miami. I won't do that.

Lords obviously means they are lording over the rest of us, so it makes sense for there to be only "lords" in the organization, probably using minions and underlings who have no idea who they are working for to do their bidding.

Black has a lot of connotations, from secrecy and evil magic to superstition and expression. The term in this case (due to the hidden nature of the group) definitely goes toward the secrecy definition. However, it could also be linked to the evil magic and superstition (as most secret societies have quite a bit of occult lore and archaic ceremonies built into their regular proceedings).

So how many Black Lords of Florida are there? Well, we still have the part of the clue "BLFx13" from Rudley's notes. Does the x13 mean the Lords are 13 in number? It makes sense in a numerology view (as many secret societies also have special "magical" numbers), after all, 13 is a powerful "black" number.

But the scant information is troubling, to say the least. Even Skull and Bones is relatively "open" compared to the BLFs. Maybe one day, we'll know more. In the meantime, I'll keep searching for more info and keep you updated.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

[Monsters] Cauldron-Born

The Cauldron-Born are undead created with the aid of a magical cauldron. Originally a product of Welsh mythology, they appeared as unstoppable warriors without fear or speech in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and they also appear in the D20 Stargate SG-1 RPG supplement Living Gods: Stargate System Lords as shock-troops for the Goa'uld System Lord Manannan mac Lir. They differ from regular Zombies because they are warriors, not ravenous monsters bent on eating people, and are instead silent monsters bent on killing people in the most merciless, efficient and ruthless manner possible.

The requirement of a cauldron to create undead for a campaign setting would be pretty cool, especially if, after repeated use, the cauldron becomes more and more magical and twisted towards evil undead creation, thereby tying the magician to using the same cauldron (or losing the ability to create undead until a specific vow is fulfilled in the event the item is lost, stolen or destroyed).

In terms of Savage Worlds, the Cauldron-Born are as follows:

Agility d8 Smarts d4 Spirit d8 Strength d8 Vigor d12
Pace 6 Parry 6 Toughness 12 (2) Charisma -4

Abilities: Fearless, Fear -2 (Guts check -2), Undead (+2 to recover from Shaken, +2 to toughness), Frenzy.

Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d8, Intimidation d8, Notice d6.

Sword (STR+d8), Armor (+2).

Monday, January 3, 2011

[Resources] Abandoned Airplanes and Airfields

There are a lot of ruins and ruined planes to see on the internet. It's got it's own community of people who are interested in these things (as I mentioned previously in my Gunkanjima post). Like this one, the weburbanist.

Need a creepy photo for a horror game? Or an aerial view of an abandoned landing strip for a modern cop game? How about a airplane graveyard? Check out these pics and use them in your game.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

[My Collection] 1938: A Very British Civil War

I first heard of 1938: A Very British Civil War from this thread on It's a setting for miniature warfare, not an actual RPG. The setting is based around the Edward VIII abdication crisis in an alternate Britain.

Edward refuses to abdicate and marries Mrs. Simpson, throwing the country into chaos as a result. The government walks out, so does the Anglican Church, and the King appoints a fascist to Prime Minister. That pushes the country to splinter. Now Royalist forces, supplemented by the British Union of Fascists, are fighting trade unions, leftists, army and navy deserters, Church of England clergy, and more, in a scrum for the fate of the Empire.

That is so cool! So I found the Solway Crafts and Miniatures website and searched the web for news on it, where I found a number of reviews/links (1, 2), including the main forum for the setting (the Edward VIII Cocktail Bar, over at the Gentlemens Wargame Parlour).

So I bought it. In fact, I bought the first 6 books of the series, sight-unseen:
  • Sourcebook 1, second edition
  • Sourcebook 2: The Gathering Storm, Part 1: Scotland and the North
  • Sourcebook 2: The Gathering Storm, Part 2: The Midlands and the South
  • Sourcebook 3: The Fall of Empire
  • Factions, Flags and Formations
  • A Guide to the Anglican League
About a week later, I got them and I have not been disappointed. I plan on getting the rest as they come out (one of which did while I was reading them). And the main benefit of the books is that there are no rules. It's all setting.

And so I'm going to create a Savage Worlds 1938: A Very British Civil War campaign. Look for it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Almost a year since I started this Blog. Wow, how the time has flown.

Anyways, I hope your new year is the best!

Good gaming, all.