Monday, May 31, 2010

[Labyrinth Lord] Magic Weapons, Part 1

I wrote the following article for Christian Walker's Lincoln Middle School D&D Club newsletter last year. It was the first of two parts about allowing characters to build their own magic weapon by adding parts to their favorite blade. I think it was a pretty good first step and have used it a bit in a Labyrinth Lord game I ran but want to use it more in the future.

Magic Swords: A Sum of Parts

Many times in RPGs, an adventurer finds a +1 magic sword and promptly chucks his old sword away. This is sad, as that old sword has brought him through many early battles and victories. What was the history of that mundane sword?

What if his parents, poor farmers, had saved up money, scrimped and saved, to buy this weapon for their child? Was the adventurer using an old blade once owned by a father or an older ancestor, with histories all it's own? Did he receive it from a well-beloved mentor? It's a tragedy to let that weapon fall to the wayside without more than a thought.

But in the game, these considerations don't matter in the rush for more and better magic weapons, because soon, the +1 sword will disappear for the +2 and so on. And as the adventurer gains in skill, he'll need weapons that can strike creatures only affected by magic. To stay true to the story of the character or to maximize the weapon potential? We all know which one wins out.

I propose a different path. One that allows a hero to keep his beloved weapon and improve it during play from treasure hoards and skilled enemies that have fallen to his blade.

See, swords are a sum of parts. They are made up of a hilt and a blade. The hilt has a pommel, grip and crossguard. Sometimes they have a rain guard (added to the crossguard to prevent rain from getting into the scabbard) and a sword knot (also known as a tassel, attached to the pommel or crossguard). The blade has several sections as well, not individual parts but important nonetheless, the tang, fuller, edge, central ridge and point.

Since it is expensive to enchant a whole weapon, most wizards just enchant one or a few parts of the sword, enough to affect the whole weapon. An enchanted grip preventing the wielder from being disarmed or a wolf-shaped pommel allowing additional damage against wolves might be found by characters. A holy blade made with the hair of a saint or a crossguard adding to defence are other kinds of enchanted parts. It is possible to move parts around to other swords, but each sword can only hold so many enchanted parts before they are "full."

A sword has 5 enchantment slots that can be filled, be that with a positive modifier or a special effect. For example, a +1 flaming sword is considered a 2 slot weapon, the same as a +2 sword. Both have only 3 more slots to fill, after that, they've reached their maximum and can no longer be modified.

But what about cursed swords, that staple of fantasy role-playing? They follow the same rules but their curse cannot removed from the sword, nor can any other part be removed once it is added. So a -1 cursed sword can be modified to a -2 cursed sword or a -1 flaming cursed sword. The flaming aspect doesn't change the -1 modifier or the cursed aspect. So it is possible to have a +1 vs undead sword that that is cursed to attract undead.

Positive (and negative) modifiers stack, so adding a +1 modifier part to a +1 sword makes it a +2 sword. However, adding a +1 modifier to a -1 cursed sword does not remove the curse - it becomes a -2 cursed sword and forever changes the +1 part (which cannot be removed).

Most parts can be incorporated into an existing weapon fairly easily. A sword knot can be added in a few minutes to a sword, while it can take up to a half-hour to switch out a pommel, crossguard or grip, given the correct tools and time to do it. For the blade section, it is in the shape of a small replica of the enchanted part, usually no longer than 10 inches. These blade sections, however, takes an additional step to incorporate into the sword.

Because blades are tempered in forges, it is necessary to use a sympathetic ritual to add a blade section to a sword blade. At the least, a wooden mallet, a campfire and an "anvil" are necessary. The campfire is used to heat the receiving sword blade and the enchanted blade section is lain on top of the warmed sword. Then the mallet and "anvil" are used to merge the two together. A wizard, dwarf or elf knows how to perform this ritual innately but once one ritual has been observed, then any class/race can do it. The amount of time is required to perform this ritual is up to the GM, but it should take at least an hour.

Outlined in the tables below are some ideas for magic parts. The enchanted part may have elaborate carving or inscription that matches it's function (a skull pommel to denote an undead bane, or a celtic knotwork crossguard to denote protection).

Table I: Magic Sword Modifier, Roll 1d6
1. +1 to hit/damage (or +1 to AC for crossguard)
2. +1 vs. animal (GMs choice)
3. +1 vs. monster (GMs choice)
4. special attack (see Table III)
5. special effect (see Table IV)
6. cursed weapon (see Table V)

Table II: Magic Sword Part, Roll 1d6
1. Blade (see Table VI)
2. Pommel
3. Grip
4. Crossguard
5. Crossguard/Rainguard
6. Sword Knot

Table III: Special Attack, Roll 1d6
1. +1 vs demons
2. +1 vs devils
3. +1 vs undead
4. +1 vs unicorns
5. +1 vs dragons
6. +1 vs angels

Table IV: Special Effect, Roll 1d6
1. flaming weapon
2. vampiric
3. luck (1d3 wishes)
4. +0 weapon (it's magical but doesn't improve the attack)
5. regeneration
6. cold weapon

Table V: Cursed Weapon, Roll 1d6
1. -1 weapon
2. berserker
3. backbiting
4. -2 weapon
5. delusion
6. reduces intelligence to 3

Table VI: Blade Sections, Roll 1d6
1. Tang
2. Fuller
3. Edge
4. Central ridge
5. Point
6. GMs choice

Sunday, May 30, 2010

[My Collection] Psi World

I'm a big fan of products by Fantasy Games Unlimited. Psi World was one of my '80s games. I bought it and all the supplements and played it all through the '80s.

It gave me the opportunity to play both sides of a situation - one of the possible campaigns was that of government agents fighting against the psi menace hell-bent on taking over the world with their ultra-normal powers. The other was valiant psis trying to protect other psis against the totalitarian government hell-bent on making them a scapegoat for government corruption.

There are a bunch of reviews (1, 2) on and it's on sale online for a good price.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

[In The Game] Rendezvous in Samarra

An old Sufi story about Fate, using the personification of Death as the hammer.

One day, a merchant going about his business in the bazaar unexpectedly encounters a friend of his, who looks very pale and is shaking from fear.

"My friend," he asks, "Whatever is the matter?"

"I must leave this town at once," replies the other, in great agitation, "I shall go immediately to Samara."

"But why?" asks the merchant, much surprised.

"Just now," explains the frightened man," as I was walking here in the bazaar, I saw Death, and I am sure that he noticed me." With those words, the merchant's friend rushes away to prepare for his journey.

The merchant, continuing to stroll among the fine carpets and jewellery, the fruits and spices of the bazaar, himself comes across Death, who speaks to him in this way:

"As I was walking here in the bazaar not long ago, I came across your friend. I must admit that I was surprised to see him here in this town, because I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra."

Does this story end here? Or is the real story what happens in Samarra?

Friday, May 28, 2010

[Resources] Bullet-Proof T-Shirt

As a sort-of-follow-up to my Linothorax post (and which the Bat in the Attic blog actually gave some specific ideas about how to use it in a game as well as some props to me - Thanks, Bats!) , researchers at the University of South Carolina are working on a bulletproof t-shirt. The cotton material is treated with a boron solution then baked in an oven. The heated cotton fibers of the shirt turn into carbon fibers that react with the boron treatment. The result is a boron carbide fabric that is lightweight, flexible and damage resistant.

“The currently used boron-carbide bulk material (used for body armor) is brittle. The boron-carbide nanowires we synthesized keep the same strength and stiffness of the bulk boron carbide but have super-elasticity. They are not only lightweight but also flexible. We should be able to fabricate much tougher body armors using this new technique. It could even be used to produce lightweight, fuel-efficient cars and aircrafts.”

If we can produce the beginnings of lightweight, flexible body armors now, what will 10 years bring? And how will that change science fiction armor in your game? That's up to you to decide but this is a pretty cool concept that I'll use.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

[Aftermath!] The D.C. Campaign: The Pentagon

The Pentagon ("US Army")

Location: Pentagon, Arlington, VA. Bordered on one side by the Potomac River on the east, Arlington Boulevard (US Highway 50) on the north and west, and S Glebe Road (State Route 120) on the west and south. Includes Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer, Army and Navy Country Club, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Population: 900
Military Strength: 650
Military Resources: 25 M60A3 Main Battle Tanks, 21 M113 APCs, 5 Huey Helicopter Gunships.

Treaties: FFA, The Weather Boys, Treaty Hospital

Enemies: Skinheads

Resources: Mainly military equipment, some high-technologies and military expertise and military troops. These guys are the best armed forces in the area, with the best equipment as well as the best training. Most of their arable land has been converted to grain fields and orchards.

Trade: Some non-military weapons, but mostly protection and military technology.

General Reaction: +0

Background: The Pentagon is comprised exclusively of US military personnel who survived the Ruin. These guys are by far the best military unit in the city, messing with them is considered a bad idea.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

[Auld Lang 'Zine] Introduction

In an effort to get all my writings all in one place, I've decided to re-publish my old 'zine issues in this new category. My first 'zine was One Thousand and One Nights and One Night RPG Campaign Design 'zine and ran from February 2007 to March 2009. The first 50 issues will be posted, one at a time, adding commentary, with a look back, plus whatever notes and supporting documents I can find for them.

I hope that you enjoy them!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

[Dresden Files] Hollywoodland

When I get my actual physical copies of the Dresden Files RPG, I want to be ready with a campaign. But what's it going to be about? Where is it going to be set? Hmmm.

Reading through wikipedia one day a few weeks ago, I happened upon an article on Fritz Lang, a famous movie director. That lead me to think what a cool setting Hollywood would be, especially if set pre-/during World War II.

Each of the various factions would be present, from the White Court Vampires to the Red, some of the Fae, the White Council and some werewolves, mixing it up with studio heads, directors, producers, screenwriters, politicians, gangsters, stars and starlets and wanna-be's - in the studios, on the casting couch, in the bars and hotels, on the lot, in the jails - Los Angeles, full of the violence, the magic, and the wine, women and song.

Hollywoodland, 1939 ... yeah!

Monday, May 24, 2010

[My Collection] Feng Shui

I got interested in Feng Shui from Atlas Games a few years ago after listening to a couple of actual play sessions from the Rolemonkeys.

I found a copy at Michael's Books, a used bookstore in Bellingham, Washington, and haven't yet had the opportunity to give it a play, but I hope to (at some point). It's on the list, rest assured. has a whole bunch of reviews (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Since combat is cinematic, you can find a bunch of fight scenes locations that are very evocative.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

[Blogs] Grognardia's Moon Pool

I've been reading James Maliszewski's paean to Old School Grognardia over the past year or so and I really enjoy his style.

Recently, he wrote about a magical pool: The Moon Pool. Ever since B1: In Search of the Unknown, I've been a fan of mysterious pools that do strange things.

This is one pool that I'm going to use, oh, yes.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

and Thou

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, -- and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness --
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Friday, May 21, 2010

[My Collection] Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I have all the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG books from Eden Studios (as well as the Angel RPG stuff, too).

If you are interested in learning more about Unisystem, the system that the game uses (along with All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Witchcraft, Armegeddon, Conspiracy X 2nd edition, Terra Primate, Ghosts of Albion and Army of Darkness), the BBC has a website with the rules (last updated 2005) that they let their watchers (get it, Watchers) have access to in order to understand the rules (a win, in my opinion, on Eden's part). has a number of reviews (1, 2, 3) including some reviews on Monster Smackdown (4, 5), the Slayers Handbook (6), the Magic Box (7, 8, 9) and even Angel (10, 11, 12, 13, 14)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

[Aftermath!] The D.C. Campaign: Arlington Hall

Arlington Hall ("The Mercs")

Location: Arlington Hall Station (US Army), Alexandria, VA. South of Arlington Boulevard (US Highway 50) between S George Mason Drive and S Glebe Road (State Route 120), down to Columbia Pike (SR 244).

Population: 500
Military Strength: 350
Military Resources: 7 M60A3 Main Battle Tanks, 5 M4A4E8 Sherman Tanks, 3 M113 FSV, 4 M113 APCs and 2 M3A1 Halftracks. Large arsenal of small arms and ammunition.

Treaties: FFA, Treaty Hospital, The Weather Boys, Pentagon

Enemies: Mennonites, Skinheads

Resources: Extensive military resources, including weaponry and supplies. They do some farming in the area around Arlington Hall. Operates large groups of scavengers in the northwest D.C.

Trade: Trades mainly in non-weapon military equipment and technological salvage.

General Reaction: +0

Background: The survivors are former US Army personnel stationed at Arlington Hall before the Ruin. They are mercenary military company that has good relations with the Pentagon but are independent of it. They are allied with several Free Companies, usually former members of the community that have close ties.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

[Vids] Harsh Realm

I bought the Harsh Realm DVD set a few weeks ago, when I got The Dresden Files DVDs. I watched the first episode of this when it was on TV, but never saw much about it afterward. I read the comics and when I went to GenCon So-Cal, my friend PP had the DVDs and we watched the first two episodes. I thought they were pretty good so that's why I picked them up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[Resources] It was 30 years ago today

Thirty years ago today, at 8:32AM, Mount Saint Helens blew up. I remember because I was 12 and living in a suburb of Seattle. The blast shook our house and there was a fine layer of ash on our front porch. 57 people died that day and a whole wilderness area was devastated. The ash went miles into the air, spreading to nearly a dozen states, and buried the surrounding countryside, choking rivers, damaging machinery, and falling on the people. The eruption was the topic of conversation for years to come. In fact, most people who live in the shadow of the mountain today still remember and there are lahar warning devices that let people know if a massive mud flow is heading towards them.

The sheer violence of the eruption, the chaos afterwards, in both worlds - man and nature - were the stuff of most apocalyptic fiction. Ash and mud flew from the mountain. Rescue efforts were launched, aborted and tried again. Rivers clogged with debris threatened interstate bridges and destroyed a few of them. Of the 57 dead, most were not found and the mountain became their tomb. Several were celebrities prior to the event and some after. Harry Truman, the crusty owner of the Mount Saint Helens Lodge, refused to leave his home in the days prior and died with his 16 cats. There are several folk songs about him. U.S. Geologist David Johnston, observing St. Helens from the Coldwater II observation post, was also a casualty, probably right after uttering those famous words over the radio: "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" Another observer, Jerry Martin, saw Johnston's post get overwhelmed, radioing "It's gonna get me, too. I can't get out of here ...." before he, too, went silent.

Mt. St. Helens joins other great volcanic catastrophes that, though it lacks the total destruction that Mount Vesuvius meted out to the citizens and cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ancient Rome, still has a lot of drama. A game with characters in the shadow of a soon-to-erupt volcano can add a bit of the furies of nature to any setting.

Monday, May 17, 2010

[My Collection] Everway

I've got two copies of Everway, both of them gotten at a really, really cheap price. I think I paid $4 for one of them. I also have the Spherewalker Sourcebook and a box of the Spherewalker Source Cards.

There are a bunch of reviews for Everway (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and a couple for the Spherewalker Sourcebook (1, 2).

Someone on started a thread about using Everway for Dr. Who. An interesting read. And someone came up with some magic rules for it as well.

You can find more stuff on the Everweb (the oldest unofficial Web site dedicated to Everway) and (in a somewhat in a similar vein) Planewalker.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

[Savage Worlds] Urban Fantasy, Session 1

The Mutant Buddhas got together last Friday at Games and Gizmos in Redmond, Washington. MW ran an Urban Fantasy game set in his fictional Brighton Bay (based partially on Bellingham, Washington). CR played Phyllis Norg the Troll, CS and CB played Don Ling the Sidhe and Natasha Ambrosius the Urban Scholar, BB played the teenage cat-burglar Tom Steele, and newcomer IL played Steve Smith, a grave-touched (raised by ghosts) mortal. I was Nick English, Private Eye.

Due to our collective misfit nature, we had known each other for years, orbiting each other in an asteroid field of other misfits. We had just been at a local science fiction convention and were walking to a nearby restaurant when we passed an alley. A gang of thugs were trashing a homeless guy and we decided to stop it.

Natasha figured out that they were actually Red Caps and Nick stepped forward, lit his cigarette (I created a prop cigarette) with his Hellboy lighter and told them to step away. I rolled a pretty good intimidate roll but not enough to cause them to back down. Phyllis was all set to thrash her some Red Caps and they prepared to fight.

Don did his best to convince the Red Caps to leave but that didn't work out well. Around this whole exchange, certain things developed in play - Nick believed he knew what was going on ("They're that gang, the 7th Street Red Caps, right? Why are they on 42nd and Farrugut?") and seemed oblivious to Steve disappearing in front of his eyes (gravetouched have the ability to turn invisible and other ghostly abilities) expressing "Where the Hell is Steve?!?" (which became a running joke during the game).

Don's failure to get the Red Caps to back down, as well as their cavalier insults aimed towards the group, led Phyllis to fight. The Red Caps were faster, though, and managed to Shake both Nick and Phyllis. When it came time for the party to respond, the Troll and the cat burglar took out two of them in very short order while the Sidhe paralyzed the leader. The combat ended with 4 Red Caps down, one paralyzed and another runnin'. Nick winged him with a shot from his glock but he got away.

The paralyzed Red Cap leader was questioned and Don calmly stated that he expected a favor and information in order for the rest of the party not to smear Red Cap all over the walls in a rather messy fashion. While Natasha and Nick went to find the homeless man, the rest found out that a Johnson had hired the Red Caps to take out the guy, giving them cash (Tom found $200 on the downed Red Caps) and a very nice and exacting drawing of the man.

The "homeless man" turned out to be a rich, successful antique bookseller named Milo Goshtashebi. Nick was convinced he spent several years in Milan and Madrid running various businesses (complete fabrications that were pretty funny with Milo's protestations of them not being the case) but noticed his very quality clothing.

With police rushing to the scene (due to the discharge of a firearm), the party gathered up Milo, picked up some pizza ("Where the Hell is Steve?!?!?"), and went to Milo's house. After eating, we discussed the hit on him. He believed it was a simple mugging but that didn't prove to be the case. Don and Natasha finally convinced him that the Fae world was real by having Phyllis show her true mein and Steve kept disappearing, prompting an exchange between Nick and Don:

"Where the Hell is Steve?!?!"
"You realize he keeps disappearing, right?"
"Yeah, he was right here a minute ago ...."
"No, he disappears!"
"I know, he disappears, he's slippery, that Steve."
"No, he REALLY disappears."
"He's probably in the bathroom."

Nick noticed a red dot on Milo's head and I spent 4 Bennies to jump on him just in time to save his life. After that, Steve appeared and closed the curtains, the party disguised Milo as a sci-fi convention goer and the group planned their escape.

With a good investigation roll, Nick figured Milo's car would be rigged with a bomb. Using the car's remote access/start-up, he started the car (which promptly blew up) and in the confusion and fire, the group escaped with the rest of the condo building inhabitants.

On the way out, we spotted the sniper and Don cast a glamour that showed Milo leaving the condo so the sniper could "take him out." An extremely good roll by CS fooled the sniper and Nick got a vid of it on his cell-phone.

As the party hurried away with the disguised Milo, Nick made a call on a disposable cell-phone to the cops, saying he saw his neighbor Milo getting shot and dragged off by some folks. The police and fire arrived on the scene as the game session came to a close.

The game was very fun. It was good to have tha variety of characters and the players did a good job developing them. We're looking forward to Session 2!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

[Resources] William Meed Collection

The William Meed Collection, at the University of Washington, has an exceptionally large collection of pictures of the Yukon, circa 1900. You can check out the 233 photos that he collected from other photographers or took himself.

As a resource to games set during that period, it's a gem.

Friday, May 14, 2010

[Vids] Dresden Files

The Dresden Files TV show was on the SciFi Channel (now SyFy) in 2007 and was canceled after one season. Based on the Dresden series by Jim Butcher, Amazon had a sale so I picked it up.

I heard lots of bad things about the show but I've been enjoying it. Probably because I've only read a few of the books and don't hold to the "canon purity" that seems to follow books that become TV shows.

It's pretty cheap at Amazon these days, so check it out yourself. Me, I'll be mining it a bit for my upcoming Dresden Files RPG campaign.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

[Aftermath!] The D.C. Campaign: The WPRC

The Washington Peoples Revolutionary Commune ("Commies")

Location: Landover Hills, Hyattsville, MD. Territory stretches from Landover Road (State Route 202) up to Veterans Parkway (SR 410), between Baltimore Washington Parkway (SR 295) and John Hanson Highway (UW Highway 50), including Capital Plaza Mall Shopping Center, Landover Hills Neighborhood Park and Glenridge Recreation Center.

Population: 450
Military Strength: 150
Military Resources: One old and heavily combat damaged M113 APC. Some small arms but mostly crossbows and hand weapons.

Treaties: None.

Enemies: Everyone, especially the Agency.

Resources: Unknown.

Trade: Does not trade with other communities.

General Reaction: -20.

Background: The Communists are a danger in the metropolitan area. They are totally insular, avoiding contact with any of the other communities except to fight. The Pentagon managed to defeat them soundly after they met in pitched battle over a decade ago. Since then, the commies have been limiting their raids to other communities. Large raiding parties scour the city for loot and slaves, fighting anyone they come across. Most everyone believe that the commune is slave-based, just another of the reasons most people hate them. The commune does not support any Free Companies.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

[Savage Worlds] Dragon Hunters: Meroirry Hornblower

The last Dragon Hunter is Meroirry Hornblower, a thief.

Yes, Meroirry is a thief. He'll admit it. Readily. And a good one at that. Trained by the best, the city's Thieves Guild, Meroirry had great plans - riches, riches and riches. Then the Guild Master made a deal with a dragon. And as the Guild learned, watch how you make deals with dragons.

In the end, only Meroirry was left. And his plans of success and retirement with riches died with the rest of the Guild. But he's learned some things about dragons, oh, yes. And they're pretty rich. Rich enough for a halfling to live comfortably for a long, long time.

Yep, that dragon, and all his kind, are going to pay.

Halfling Thief, Novice + 80 XP = Legendary (16 advances)
Agility d12 Spirit d8 Smarts d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Pace 6, Parry 6, Toughness 4, Charisma -0-

Hindrances: Small (racial), Enemy [M], Loyal [m], Quirk [m]
Edges: Luck (racial), Acrobat, Thief, Quick, Ambidextrous, Fleet-Footed, Common Bond, Luck, Great Luck.

Skills: Fighting d8, Climb d8, Notice d6, Guts d4, Lockpicking d6, Throwing d8, Gambling d4, Persuasion d4, Stealth d10, Streetwise d4, Swimming d4, Taunt d4.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

[Resources] Gandalf defeated the Spanish Armada!

According to a 2004 poll, 6% of British youth between 16 and 24 believe Gandalf defeated the Spanish Armada.

That is really cool. What if Gandalf showed up and changed the face of history? What if you mixed the Lord of the Rings and Elizabeth: The Golden Age?

Monday, May 10, 2010

[Alignment] True Neutral

Neutral, "Undecided"

A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil—after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.

Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.

Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

[My Collection] The Dresden Files

I purchased the pre-order of the Dresden Files RPG, Volume 1: Your Story and Volume 2: Our World, from Evil Hat Productions in April. I've downloaded the two "not-quite-final-versions" of the PDFs while I wait for my hardcopies (supposed to ship in June/July).

I've read the first few books of the series and bought the TV show (seriously, it's not that bad), so I'm looking forward to running the game at some point in the future. Maybe I'll even post about that campaign.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

[Pathfinder RPG] The Puddles, Part 2

We continued the Pathfinder RPG game set in the Puddles, a destitute area of the Island City of Absalom, yesterday. TE and I reprised our roles as Makoa Grogbar and Philo Greenwald, and MW continued as the game master. CM and DM couldn't make it and so we NPC'd their characters, Algernon Grogbar and Myles Laycock.

Since the last session ended in the throes of the mystery of Spring-heel Jack, we continued searching for clues. All the Puddles was asleep but we continued for our adventuring spirits were great. To make a long story short, we had found a piece of metal in Burgin's purse and Philo kept it because it reminded him of something. And that lead the group to the circus!

Marcolo is Philo's boss at the circus and in the dead of night, the group went to talk to him. The guard at the gate, Durgan, provided some info when we showed up. Marcolo had a guest and was still up, even at this late hour. When Philo showed him the metal, he reminded Philo that Marcolo had something similar.

As we approached Marcolo's travel caravan, we heard raised voices. Amergin (from the bar) and Marcolo were arguing. "They made a mistake, we won't make the same." and "It can't find us, we're safe." A few other comments were made before we knocked and Marcolo answered.

We explained that Amergin had put of a reward and we'd like the Puddles to go back to being the same crappy place to live, except without Spring-heel Jack. When Philo showed Marcolo the bit of metal and remarked how close it was to Marcolo's jewelry broach, he lied and tried to pass it off as a jeweler's fancy but we weren't fooled.

Amergin looked like he was going to spill but Marcolo gave him a hard look. The party walked Amergin back to the tavern, all the way trying to get him to open up, even mentioning Bergin's missing tongue and how sad it was that he was in the afterlife without the ability to speak. That didn't get much response from Amergin except some pretty white-faced stares.

During the course of conversation, Philo figured out (using his Bardic Knowledge) that both Marcolo and Amergin were from Cheliax and probably knew each other. Philo managed to trick Amergin into revealing that he was from Cheliax and then the party moved on.

We decided to track down Burke to find out more about Burgin and the piece of metal. Argus the gnome bootsmith told the group he remembered that Burgin and Burke's father was a successful merchant who got ruined and ended up in the Puddles. We found Burke drunk at his squat and proceeded to slap him around, asking him some questions. Burgin, it turned out, looked an aweful lot like their father, Ursian. That bit of metal was once owned by their father, who committed suicide by poison about 5 years ago. Their father never talked much about his past but their mother was from Absalom. Bad luck seemed to follow the family.

After the fun of slapping Burke around, Makoa gave him some more booze and the group returned home to discuss what they'd learned. They figured that the bits of metal were part of the symbol of Cheliax, a pentagram. At first, we figured there were 5 people in the mix but with 5 victims of Spring-heel Jack already accounted for, it seemed that there were 7. The pentagram symbol must have had the 5 points of the star and two half-circles. We decided to spend the next morning gathering info about the last 4 victims.

Before the Puddles woke up, Philo slipped out, back to the circus, where he picked up some red paint. A pentagram later on the door of the Soggy Bottom Tavern, Philo headed home. Around noontime, the group assembled at the tavern, where a great crowd had gathered to look at the pentagram. Wild speculation about Amergin's past, including the Mark of Cheliax started. Myles calmly made the observation that Spring-heel Jack must have marked the tavern and it's owners and when Amergin arrived to open up, he did a double-take and the crowd told him that Spring-heel Jack was after him.

The crowd started to get into that whole witch-burning frame of mind and Philo stepped forward to calm the crowd and convinced Amergin to delay opening in order to clean off the symbol. The crowd dispersed, for the time being, and the party joined Amergin inside. Philo told Amergin what they'd found out. That there were 7 victims, but only 5 had died so far. Velara, a whorehouse madam, Porche, an artist, Nicolo, a promoter, Galadin, a slaver, and Burgin, who looked surprisingly like his father Ursian, were the 5 and we figured that Marcolo and Amergin were the other two.

That prompted a scattergun being pointed at them. As Myles and Makoa started to move out of the line of fire, Philo calmly stated that we were Amergin's only hope, who else would help him? After all, we only had to wait for two more murders and Spring-heel Jack would be done and the business of the Puddles would return to normal.

That deflated Amergin and Philo managed to get the whole truth (or at least most of it) from him. The seven were all promised life and success in Cheliax for their souls. They broke the deal and managed to escape to Absalom. They also broke apart the pentagram, each having a piece of it as a protection against being found by a Cheliax hunter. And the hunter turned out to be a fallen angel sent from hell to collect their souls.

We decided to go get Marcolo and Amergin said he was still alive (the pieces of metal had a link to each other and they felt the others die when the demon came for them). Arming himself, Amergin locked up the tavern and we headed back to the circus. Using his Bardic Knowledge, Philo figured that there were two places that Spring-heel Jack would hide out, an abandoned bell-tower or the equally abandoned light house. That's were they were headed to finish this.

Marcolo would have nothing to do with us. We told him to man up and end it but he called us fools and Amergin an ass. During the conversation, Philo lifted his piece of metal and as we walked away, handed it to Amergin. One of the side effects of this metal was it absorbed your soul after death if it was in your possession and no one was interested in that.

A heavy mist descended on the party and we realized that Spring-heel Jack was coming. We raced back to Marcolo and he cursed us for stealing the charm but armed himself for battle. The party arrayed themselves around his caravan and waited.

A soft and polite voice told us that it wasn't our fight and we should leave. Philo, sensing an opportunity, calmly asked what was in it for us and managed to get an amused chuckle from Jack. The mist produced a pair of devils with attacked.

Combat was fierce. Argus provided the group with a powerful divine protection and Philo sang to inspire courage. Myles opened up with his rifle and managed to hurt one of the devils but it was still fighting. Algernon and Makoa fought against an animated rope and defeated it while the rest of us took down the two devils with the aid of a summoned Lantern Archon.

The session ended with the deaths of the two devils as Spring-heel Jack prepared to attack. It was a very satisfying game, Philo got to bitch-slap a drunk, Makoa got to chop up an animated rope, Myles got to shoot his gun and Algernon actually cast some spells besides Detect Magic. I'm enjoying the versatility of using cantrips all the friggin' time, especially Dancing Lights and Guidance, which are very helpful. The bardic abilities are also very cool.

Friday, May 7, 2010

[In The Game] Alternative Religions

I love these motivational posters. A modern game with a Church of Henry Rollins would totally rock.

It would totally beat out the 24 Hour Church of Elvis.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

[Aftermath!] The D.C. Campaign: The Monastery

The Monastery

Location: Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery, Catholic University, Washington, D.C. Bounded by Taylor Street NE to the north and Monroe Street NE to the south, between Harewood Road NE and South Dakota Avenue NE. Includes Catholic University of America, Holy Name College and Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery.

Population: 175
Military Strength: 125
Military Resources: Exhaustive training in hand-to-hand combat. Some small arms, bows and crossbows. A valuable library on military tactics and strategy.

Treaties: FFA, Treaty Hospital


Resources: The monks at the Monastery are the best wine-makers and the best dirty-tricks streetfighters in the District. They have vineyards and other fields around the Monastery. The Military School is still open, but admission is strict and the entrant must obey the school's new bushido, which includes adherence to the religious, moral and combat code of the instructors. The Monastery proper contains a replica of the catacombs in Rome as well as the bones of saints.

Trade: Their main export is wine. They also do a hefty trade in vehicle-grade alcohol.

General Reaction: +0 (+5 if suitable demonstration of streetfighting was presented)

Background: Survivors of the Franciscan Monastery and the St. John's College Military School, they are a unique group of religious fanatics who happen to be expert street fighters. They have developed a code of honor, a new Bushido, for their community as well as any who wish to be taught at the Military School. Often, members choose to go out on "walkabouts" to test their mettle in combat with other survivors, aiding the downtrodden and oppressed. Those who survive their walkabouts are held in hight esteem.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

[My Collection] Ghostbusters RPG

I ignored this game when it first game out in 1986, as well as the second edition, Ghostbusters International (1989). Every now and then, I ran across a copy in a game shop or used bookstore and put it back. It was episode 4 of the Godzilla Gaming Podcast that turned me back onto this game so I started searching around.

I found the 1986 box set at a Half Price Books for an excellent price but haven't managed to collect Ghostbusters International nor the nine supplements yet (they're on my game find list).

There are several reviews on both versions (1, 2, 3) on

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

[Savage Worlds] Dragon Hunters: Roland

Roland is the fourth Dragon Hunter.

An orphan, Roland was left at one of the abbeys of the Brothers of the Holy Flame, a holy order of knights and priests who defend the faithful and do good works among the poor and dispossessed.

Roland learned both warfare and holy knowledge from these Brothers. The martial training built his physical strength while the religious training build his spiritual life. But it was not meant to last. Before he took full orders, a dragon raided the abbey, destroying it and Roland's family, the only family he knew, was killed to a man. Roland escape the flames and destruction only by being forced into the cellars during the fighting and then buried alive under the collapsed church.

After digging himself out and burying his mentors and brothers, he gathered what arms and equipment he could. Laying before the ruined altar, he prayed to the gods for blessing and strength to dedicate himself to hunting down dragons and slaying them. With no food or water for a week, at the point of death, a spirit from the gods approached him and granted him his wish but with a caution - one of his prey will kill him if he fails to keep the faith.

Now imbued with the holy wrath, Roland seeks out dragons to kill, knowing full well his death was foretold at the claws of one of them should he fail to remain pure.

Human Holy Warrior, Novice + 80 XP = Legendary (16 advances)
Agility d8 Spirit d8 Smarts d6 Strength d10 Vigor d8
Pace 6, Parry 7, Toughness 6, Charisma -0-

Hindrances: Enemy [M], Loyal [m], Quirk [m]
Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Holy Warrior, Hard to Kill, Brawny, Trademark Weapon, Frenzy, Improved Frenzy

Skills: Fighting d10, Shooting d8, Faith d10, Notice d8, Knowledge (Religion) d8, Guts d8, Healing d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d6, Stealth d4

Monday, May 3, 2010

[Resources] Seattle is the New Rome

The ancient city of Rome was built among seven hills (Aventinus, Caelius, Capitolinus, Esquilinus, Palatinus, Quirinalis and Viminalis).

Each hill had a character associated with it:

Aventinus was named after a pre-Roman Italian king, rumored to be the son of Hercules and a priestess named Rhea, who was killed and buried there. Remus, one of the founders of Rome, was said to have chosen this hill for his observation station, while Romulus chose the Palatinus, but several sources have it differently, with Romulus on the Aventinus.

Caelius was where the rich and famous lived.

Capitolinus was where the Temple of Jupiter was built and where a human skull was found during the digging of the foundations.

Esquilinus was lush with Holly Oaks and overlooked the Colosseum.

Palatinus was the location of the cave where the she-wolf raised Romulus and Remus and also where the Imperial Palaces for Augustus, Tiberius and Domitian were built.

Quirinalis was the site of a pre-Roman Sabine village and many famous Roman families were very proud of their Sabine heritage.

Viminalis was the smallest of the seven hills.

While many cities claim that they have seven hills like Rome, only one is a true descendant: Seattle.

The seven hills of Seattle were First Hill, Yesler Hill, Second Hill, Denny Hill, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne Hill, Beacon Hill.

First Hill is also called 'Pill Hill' because of all the hospitals that perch on it's heights: Harborview Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center and the old Providence Medical Center (now Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill Campus). This is Seattle's version of Capitolinus.

Yesler Hill was called 'Profanity Hill' by lawyers from by-gone days. Yesler, the start of Skid Road, is the new Palatinus.

Second Hill was also named Renton Hill, after Captain William Renton (1818-1891), a merchant and lumberman of old Seattle. Though both names have now passed out of common usage, it's now considered upper Capitol Hill and upper First Hill by most city residents. This hill attunes with Esquilinus

Denny Hill was razed in several projects between 1897 and 1930. The area is known as the Denny Regrade. From 1897 to 1899, the hill was first regraded along 1st Avenue. A second razing occurred along Pine and Pike Streets from 1902 to 1911 using water from Lake Union with hydraulic mining techniques. A final set of regrades occurred between 1929 to 1930. The remains of Denny Hill analog straight with Viminalis.

Capitol Hill , formerly known as Broadway Hill, has many of the city's old mansions on "Millionaire Row" and is a densely packed neighborhood. The main drag on the hill, Broadway, is the center of Seattle's counterculture. Volunteer Park, a number of churches, including St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, and scores of coffeehouses dot the hill. This matches pretty well with Caelius.

Queen Anne Hill was first settled by David Denny in 1852. The hill became commonly known for the Queen Anne style of homes built on it by 1885. As this hill is named after a pre-Seattle monarch, so is it now Aventinus.

Beacon Hill was nicknamed "Boeing Hill" in the 1950s and 1960s for all the Boeing employees who lived there. A century before that, the early settlers called it Holgate and Hanford Hill. And even before that, the native americans called the hill the Greenish Yellow Spine. The hill now has many asian businesses, mixed in with parks, the old Pacific Medical Center (now used by, cemeteries and the civil rights/community organization, El Centro de la Raza. Filled with strong family ties and proud communities, Beacon Hill is Quirinalis.

How you use this setting is up to you. But I know that when I run a future campaign set in the Seven Hills of Seattle, there will be blood!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

[Cat by John Wick] Jack

Human Name: Jack aka Gentleman Jackson Kenai Elliot
Cat Name: Ahahahaha. No, seriously, what do you want?
Secret Name: Who's asking?

Claws: Strong (4)
Coat: Strong (4)
Face: Best (5)
Fangs: Strong (4)
Legs: Good (3)
Tail: Good (3)

Charmer (3)
Friendly Greeter (2)
Birder (1)
Pounce! (1)

Lives: 9

Saturday, May 1, 2010

[Savage Worlds] Dragon Hunters: Lithdhudil

The third Dragon Hunter is Lithdhudil the Archer.

Lithdhudil of the Wood Elves traveled with his clan through the verdant forest: hunting, feasting, learning the ways of the trees. He and his twin brother became the best archers in their clan and one day, a party of adventurers managed to convince the brothers to join them. The first adventure, against an elder wyrm, went very badly - a mix of bad luck, bad planning and hubris. Lithdhudil was the only survivor and his brother's killer, the wyrm, escaped. Since then, he's spent the last few years seeking this dragon to destroy him.

Wood Elf Archer, Novice + 80 XP = Legendary (16 advances)
Agility d12 Spirit d8 Smarts d8 Strength d6 Vigor d8
Pace 6, Parry 4, Toughness 6, Charisma -0-

Hindrances: All Thumbs (racial), Enemy [M], Loyal [m], Quirk [m]
Edges: Low Light Vision (racial), Woodsman, Marksman, Steady Hands, Trademark Weapon, Improved Trademark Weapon

Skills: Fighting d4, Shooting d10, Notice d8, Guts d8, Throwing d8, Healing d6, Riding d4, Stealth d8, Survival d8, Swimming d4, Tracking d8.