Tuesday, May 31, 2011

[Resources] Mines

Mines are fascinating. Egyptians mined for gold in Nubia and the Athenians mined for silver at Laurium. The Romans used water and then fire to mine for precious metals. The modern world was built on the minerals (gold, uranium, silver, and more, even chalk) removed from the Earth and mining is still a thriving business today.

They called Moria a mine. And it was. But it was also a dungeon filled with orcs. And it seems that few dungeons are actually mines when more of them should be so. Unfortunately, some only have the props of mines (picks, tunnels and loose stone) instead of the actual mine with a gold vein standing right out there to tempt the PCs.

The classic D&D module B2: Keep on the Borderlands has the Caves of Chaos, a dungeon complex that should be a thriving mine. The various monsters should keep digging (or at least force their slaves to do it), for iron and gold, changing the tunnels and landscape so that PCs have a hard time actually keeping good maps.

Next time you create a dungeon, add a mine and have it grow during play. After all, those rules of tunneling should be used for something.

Monday, May 30, 2011

[Missing in Gaming] Secrets Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

I found Rackham's Cadwallon: The Free City RPG used for cheap a few years ago but haven't been able to gather up Secrets Vol. 1 (few copies to be found) and Vol. 2 (currently only in French). Rackham stopped the line about 2-3 years ago and no further development occurred. They concentrated on Confrontation, the miniature rules the world of Cadwallon is based in, until going out of business in October 2010.

The art for Cadwallon is wonderful, which is the main reason I picked it up. As for the system, I'd probably use another, more generic one, like Savage Worlds or even True20.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

[Savage Worlds] The Winter War Campaign, Session 3: Ring of Fire

A week after the events of last session, the PCs are told by the villagers that the boat is ready to use. One night a few days later, their guards spot a light in the ruins of the manor above the group's hidden smugglers' cave.

Looking from one of the cave exits, they see flickering firelight and shadows. Fire in the night tends to attract the various unaligned (or "wild") undead. That could cause some problems for the PCs and the villagers under their care.

They approached the ruins from the two directions, one group sneaking up the hidden stairwell within the ruins and the other approaching from the cave exit. Joe walked boldly forward and encountered an old drinking buddy, Colin, armed with a longbow. Colin and Joe were in the bar together when Joe got pinched for brawling (Colin threw the first punch at Joe).

Several people noticed that Colin was well armed, some of which was arms from the City of Grath, which had fallen to the Kings of the Iron Crown a number of weeks ago.

After talking with Colin, they found out that he'd been given the same choice as them (brawling was the crime, just like Joe) and that he's wandered around with some people, including Joe's other friend Steve, who was supposed to meet Colin after being separated due to a problem with zombie dogs.

Colin and Steve had stumbled upon a weapons caravan from Grath and, since there were no survivors (he was kinda vague with why there were no survivors), they took the equipment and hid it - it is about a week and a half on foot from where they were now but closer (and faster) by boat.

The rest of the party didn't trust Colin much but were interested in the weapons and equipment from Grath, so they formed an uneasy alliance. Because of this lack of trust, the PCs met their boat at a beach, rather than let Colin know about their lair.

They sailed into the night, spotting several signal pyres along the shore. The signal pyres were guarded by bandits and they attacked and took each one, to prevent further encroachment by the Kings of the Iron Crown.

The session ended with the PCs booby-trapping several signal fires with explosive Boom Hawk eggs and flaming oil. That went well (though it could have been ... painful).

Next time: the weapons cache!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

[Resources] Ad Deir

Like Al Khazneh, Ad Deir (The Monastery) is also in Petra, Jordan. Carved into the mountainside in the 1st century by the Nabataeans, an ancient Arab kingdom conquered by Roman Emperor Trajan, the Monastery sits on the slope of Mount Hor in the former-Nabataean capital city.

It, along with the Treasury, makes a great setting for most games.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

[Resources] Al Khazneh

You've seen Al Khazneh (The Treasury) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Herge's Adventures of Tintin: The Red Sea Sharks.

Located in Petra, in Jordan, the Treasury was carved in the sandstone sometime before 200AD and exhibits excellent classical Greek architecture.

Because it looks so cool, Al Khazneh can be used in any fantasy medieval game, as an ancient temple to long-lost gods, a destination for a 1930s two-fisted adventure, or a modern spy game where the evil genius has his secret lair.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[1938] Flame Fougasse

A Flame Fougasse is an anti-tank explosive mine that covers the target with flaming liquid. The advantage of this style of weapon was it was cheaply assembled as a trap to attack vehicles and men, as all that's needed is a barrel filled with a gas/oil mixture, some explosives and a hill or road bank (safety fougasse) or a spot on the side of the road (demigasse).

This weapon was developed in early 1938 by Royalist forces when it was used to great effect on the outskirts of Liverpool during a failed LFS push. Soon the secret of it leaked out and now all sides are using it in the Civil War.

Flame Fougasse (Savage Worlds)
Range: 25 (in large cone template)
Damage: 2d10 on the turn it explodes, the burning liquid sticks to the victim or vehicle, causing a fire check of 4-6 on a d6 with a successful Agility check to take half damage.
Note: A critical failure on setting up the weapon will cause a premature explosion.

Monday, May 23, 2011

[Blogs] Gothridge Manor

Gothridge Manor is an excellent blog that I've been reading for a while. Two posts from last year really stood out to me - Always Pay the Elf and Driving NPCs Insane (or as I like to think of them as How Run a Rat-Bastard Elf in a Cool Way) - as well as the excellent Newbie Blogger Awards.

Check it out.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

[Savage Worlds] The Winter War Campaign, Session 2: The Blizzard

The PCs found themselves in the ruins of a village called Brin. The surviving villagers (about 40, mostly old men, women and children, and young boys, with few adult men) threw themselves upon the mercy of the PCs and eventually the group found an old smugglers cave, in the cliffs above Lake Sri and below a ruined manor house. Winter was full upon them, with deep snow and howling winds - the shelter of the cave was welcome indeed.

After a few weeks in the cave, the community was thriving. One day, some villagers came to the PCs. The night before, a villager on guard duty went missing. This lead the PCs into the snow to search for him, where they chanced upon a caravan in dire straights. A ring of fire was around one of the tents, fueled by the survivors. The rest of the caravan camp was flash-frozen. Animals and people stood around, covered in ice.

When the brave PCs approached, the survivors screamed at them to flee. The iced-corpses attacked and during the battle, many feats of greatness were performed! When they questioned the survivors, they found out they were fleeing the city of Grath (the sister city of Gath, the one the PCs started in) after it had fallen to the Kings of the Iron Crown and their Necromancer allies. A freak storm had killed many in the caravan and then animated the corpses with a craving towards the living.

The PCs found the missing villager with the caravan survivors and he was catatonic from his ordeal. Packing up the frozen animal meat (them's good eatin'), the PCs returned to their shelter with the survivors in tow. What this means for the future, who stole the villager and what he experienced in the night and snow, who is to know? Only the Goddess Iridia protects them now.

Next time: meeting an "old friend."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

[Vids] Odyssey 5

The world is destroyed. The only witnesses are the astronauts on the Space Shuttle Odyssey. These five survivors are near death when they encounter an alien who saves them, lets them know that he has visited over 50 worlds like theirs that has been destroyed, and gives them the opportunity to maybe change the future by going 5 years into the past.

With little choice, they accept. And find themselves in the past, in their past bodies, with all the problems and situations to repeat over, in addition to saving the world.

That's the start of the short-lived Canadian sci-fi series, Odyssey 5, that ran for 20 episodes in 2002. Peter Weller plays astronaut Chuck Taggart, a brash-and-aging pilot, Sebastian Roche plays scientist and slut Kurt Mendel. Christopher Gorham is Chuck's son, Neil, who starts as a 22 year old and is dropped back into a 17 year old body. TV reporter Sarah Forbes (played by Leslie Silva) finds herself having to deal with her son's cancer all over again (in the future, he had died). And astronaut Angela Perry is played by Tamara Thomas, a young woman with a politically connected father.

The episodes that I've watched so far (~6) are pretty good but they haven't yet hit their stride. I look forward to seeing how the characters develop more and seeing whether it will reach a good stopping point (due to cancellation) or if it's going to be an overall disappointment (loss of potential). We'll see.

Friday, May 20, 2011

[Resources] A Secret Message in Lincoln's Watch

The Smithsonian reported a secret message hidden in Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch in March 2009.

The secret inscription reads: “Jonathan Dillon April 13-1861 Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon April 13-1861 Washington thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon.”

Dillon, working for a Washington, D.C. jeweler, inscribed the message when he was repairing Lincoln's watch. The story was passed from Dillon, down the generations, to his great, great grandson Doug Stiles, an attorney from Illinois. It took Lincoln's 200th birthday to prompt Stiles to call the curator of the Smithsonian to tell him this tale.

And the curator believed his story. So, they opened the watch and found the inscription.

This is a great story that can be used in your game. A secret message, leading to some other adventure, hidden in some simple object that the PCs acquire. It would be especially good if the object was in their possession for a long time (game-wise).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

[1938] Submarine U-152

In November 1918, the German submarine U-152 surrendered at Harwich, England. But I start the story at the end of WWI, not earlier.

U-152 , a Type U-151 submarine, was built to be a mobile quartermaster for other subs, but was changed to a combat sub mid construction. She was commissioned a year before she surrendered, in October, and then started her cruise by sinking American schooner Julia Frances in January 1918, and another, the Whyland, in March 1918. In September, she fought two US Navy ships, oiler USS George G. Henry (who managed to escape, heavily damaged) and cargo ship USS Ticonderoga (which was sunk). Her last prize was the Norwegian barque Stifinder. The submariners boarded the ship and scuttled her in October.

After that, nothing more until 1921, when she sank on her way to the scrapyard.

But what if that hadn't happened? What if Naval Intelligence kept the little sub that could and operated it all the way up to 1938? What if this little sub is the first modern black project?

No worries, I'm not going to stat this out in Savage Worlds. Best to leave it as a transport or a scene where adventure takes place. But which side is she on? What would the Liverpool Free State do with her? Or the Isle of Man, for that matter. Her fate could be up to the PCs, either by being crew or taking her in a surprise attack. Either way, it'll be exciting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

[Monsters] The Knights of October

The Knights of October are a mystical bunch, useful for games set from the Revolutionary War to the present. You can even use them during the Crusades. They make great enemy mooks for Savage Worlds.

I have used them in several games, including the Savage Colonial Gothic game, most of which the PCs had no idea who they were or what their story was.

Knight of October (usually 6-8 of them appear)

Agility d6 Spirit d8 Smarts d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Pace 6 Parry 5 Toughness 6 Charisma -2

Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), Wizard.

Hindrances: Mean, Death Wish (bring about their version of the End of the World).

Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d6, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Arcana) d8, Notice d8, Shooting d6, Spellcasting d10, Taunt d6.

Power Points: 15
Powers: bolt, armor, detect/conceal arcana, light.

Dagger, Str + d4.

Monday, May 16, 2011

[My Collection] Burning Wheel

I picked up most of the Burning Wheel books at Gencon 2008. The only ones that I don't have are the two in the Burning Empires series, the Adventure Burner and Under a Serpent Sun. I got Mouse Guard later (and currently have the box set on pre-order).  

Written by Luke Crane, it's a crunchy system, with life paths, beliefs that inspire characters and a variety of different subsystems which are fascinating. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to play it (I would need to do that before I sought to run).

There are two reviews on RPG.net (1, 2) and five reviews for Mouse Guard (3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

[Characters] The Cavalier

"A Child of Honour, a Gentleman well borne and bred, that loves his king for conscience sake, of a clearer countenance, and bolder look than other men, because of a more loyal Heart." -- Edward Simmons, chaplain to King Charles I.

Simmons was describing a Cavalier. And this painting of soldiers breaking into a house, facing an old man, with flowing white hair, standing there to greet them, arms crossed and sword at hip, is quite compelling.

Old Cavalier
Agility d6  Smarts d4  Spirit d6  Strength d8  Vigor d6
Parry 6  Toughness 6  Pace 5  Charisma +2

Edges: Noble, Brawny

Hindrances: Loyal (m), Vow (m), Elderly (M)

Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d6, Gambling d8, Knowledge (Battle) d8, Stealth d6, Notice d6.

Rapier, Damage: STR + d6, Wt. 4.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

[Savage Worlds] The Winter War Campaign, Session 1: Five Minutes to Live

The PCs started all together in the same jail cell in the City of Gath in the middle of the no-man's land of the Southern Freeholds. For a variety of reasons, they were incarcerated: Joe had been involved in a brawl. McFee was caught in a police sweep and held, forgotten in the cells. Sir Aerik was there as a result of a "mild" family disagreement. Father Ashley for public drunkenness. Edwin for insubordination and desertion. Keldon for theft and Rick for brawling. Nostro was thrown in for conspiracy.

The PCs had spent a number of months, most of the summer, in the cell. As fall came, the tenor of the jail changed. The hard cases (murderers, rapist, etc.) were all taken out, hung and their bodies burned.

The one friendly guard to them told them that the rules had changed, since the Kings of the Iron Crown had come. They were taken to the Hall of Justice and given a less-than-5-minute trial, all resulting in a sentence of death, to be carried out immediately.

The PCs were loaded onto a wagon and taken out of the city, to a desolate hill with a hangman's gibbet and an unlit pyre. The sergeant unloaded them from the cart and announced that they had been charged and found guilty and the City of Gath had every right to hang them on that gibbet right now.

They were given a chance, however. If they continued the fight against the Kings of the Iron Crown and their necromancer's allies during the winter (and managed to survive), then they would receive a full pardon. As expected, the PCs decided to take that chance.

Their friendly guard reloaded them onto the wagon (still in chains) and took them farther out, where a donkey and cart, loaded with what little supplies the City could spare, as well as the PCs own equipment, awaited them.

The guard expressed that they will be hung if found as bandits or if they attempt to flee the area (the rest of the Southern Freeholds had their descriptions). If spring comes and they're alive and fighting on the right side, then they'll be free. He left them there and went back to Gath.

The PCs decided to head out immediately and find shelter. The snows hadn't come in yet but were expected soon. They were attacked by zombie dogs and the fight was deadly - Father Ashley used his holy power to destroy many of them and the rest of the PCs took care of the rest.

Sir Aerik knew of a farm nearby and they went there. The farm turned out to be occupied by troops from one of the Kings of the Iron Crown, a group called Malarkey's Crew (they knew that Malarkey had been killed a few months before, but had no idea who was running the band).

A quick fight later - with Joe fighting four bandits at once, Nostro cleaning up with his magic, McFee tripping and pinning a bandit to the ground with his twin swords, and Edwin shooting a fleeing bandit in the back - they took the farm. The bandits had some good equipment, as well as horses, longswords and longbows. There was food still in the fields and they spent some time collecting that as well. The next week, they spotted an undead force heading towards the farm.

A cloaked figure on an undead skeleton horse lead a group of zombies and a gigantic spider against the farm. The initial volley of missile fire scored some minor hits on the spider but Sir Aerik succeeded in slaying the monster with an excellent bow shot. The PCs then retreated into the defensible house, closing the shutters and laying in wait for the zombie hordes. The enemy fired the barn and the outbuildings, as well as the remaining unpicked fields and the zombies attacked. The melee was over fairly quick but when the PCs emerged from the house to put out the barn and save the horses, the mysterious rider and the corpse of the gigantic spider were gone!

The session ended with a fire fighting action and the horses were saved as well as most of the grain they had harvested.

Next session: The Smugglers' Cave!

Friday, May 13, 2011

[Resource] Corpse Road

A Corpse Road was a pathway to the cemetery, often an official processional that was used. Sometimes called bier roads, coffin roads, lych way or corpse way (among others), their physical presence created a body of folklore around them, all associated with death and the dead - spirits, ghosts and various other undead were 'tuned' to the road.

The lych way ended in the cemetery and often had the same status, a place where the dead pass. The rules that the spirit world went by included having a straight path for the dead, because curves or tangles (or even obstructions) confuse and stymie the dead (something that wasn't considered a good thing).

Few corpse roads still exist (or are known as such) but they would be an interesting bit in a game, adding more of a death ritual to games filled with the drama of conflict and the dead.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

[1938] Mutiny in the Royal Navy

The history of the Royal Navy in the 1930s was fraught with drama. For two days in September 1931, Royal Naval ships were in full mutiny at Invergordon, Scotland. It was over pay and, while polite (mostly) to the officers, several ships worth of men refused to follow orders.

This occurred a full 5 years before the state we find ourselves in and my belief that the situation wouldn't have changed much in less than a decade. With the appointment of Mosley and the fracture of the Empire, the Royal Navy, for the most part, went anti-Fascist, most actually Red. The majority of ships mutinied and Royalist officers were seized and put in the brig.

There were few engagements between the pro- and anti-Royalist navies until mid-1938. The HMS Dorsetshire and the HMS Cornwall supported the Liverpool Free State and the Isle of Man. Mosley ordered the nearest loyal naval vessel, the HMS Hood, as well as the Royal Air Force to break that support. Ironically, on May 1st, Fascist and Royalist forces attacked both ships, with the Hood starting a bombardment and the RAF attacking from above. By the end of the fighting, the Dorsetshire and the Cornwall were still afloat (the Cornwall took extensive damage) but the Hood was sunk, with a loss of over 1000 men.

Before this time, rival ships had been simply content to "pass in the night." With the direct attack by a Royalist ship, the shooting war between the different naval forces began in earnest. Newspapers on both sides of the conflict used the sinking of the Hood and the loss of life to paint the other side as the aggressors and their side was true. The true news, however, was that the Royal Navy, a military tradition since the 16th century, had reached its nadir.

Monday, May 9, 2011

[Vids] Keen Eddie

"Hi, I'm Eddie...how do you like me so far?"
Only 13 original episodes of Keen Eddie were aired in 2003 on Fox. I remember watching the first few but then missed the rest. To my loss. So I picked up the beginning/ending season from Netflix to see them all.

It's not bad - typical fish out of water, brash police show, with that London fun. The beautiful (and pre-famous I believe) Sienna Miller was the lust interest Fiona Bickerton while NYPD Detective Eddie Arlette was played by Mark Valley. The cast was rounded out with New Scotland Yard Inspector Monty Pippin (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and Superintendent Nathanial Johnson (Colin Salmon). Humor came in the form of the angry Bull Terrier named Pete and Rudy Alexander, a failed actor (Alexei Sayle).

I really enjoyed this short-lived series and can see many things about it that would be really good for a modern London campaign. Or even just a cop-show game. I'll see what I can do about that, then.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

[Savage Worlds] The Winter War Campaign, Background

The Annals of the Winter War

"The events of the winter of 951-952ia (1), known collectively as the Winter War, begins not at the first frost, but a full 9 months prior. The Kings of the Iron Crown (2), with their Necromancer allies (3), invaded the Southern Freeholds two weeks before the Spring thaw, in Latewinter (4), 951ia. They gained ground steadily over the course of the Spring, taking five major cities, numerous towns and manors, and uncounted villages by Vernal.

The Southern Freeholds were in desperate straights and called to their most friendly neighbors, the Northern Kingdom, for relief. Troops, funds, and, more importantly, the Knights of Iridia streamed south, halting the advance by the end of Planting . For the next four months, from Flowers to Leaffall, the battles raged across the Southern Freeholds, with neither party gaining nor holding much ground.

The Kings of the Iron Crown were wily but when faced with the strength and resolve of the Knights of Iridia, they often fell back. But there were many places along the battle lines where there were no knights, and so they made advances in some parts while losing in others.

The introduction of the undead on the invaders' side in Flowers, 951ia, changed the tide for a time. Undead, previously unknown to the people of both Northern Kingdom and the Southern Freeholds, had a terrifying effect - once staunch allies who fell in battle returned the next day to fight against their former comrades - that was horrific as well as demoralizing.

Again, in the face of these overwhelming odds, the Knights of Iridia rallied the defenders of the Freeholds and fought both living and dead enemy at all opportunities. The brief advances the Kings of the Iron Crown gained in Flowers, with their undead creature "Zombies" and "Skeletons" (5), faltered in Summertide and the battles raged all the more fiercely.

Not only were the defenders fighting for their lives, lands and peoples, they were also fighting for their eternal rest with the goddess Iridia. It became common practice to burn the dead (6), all the dead from both sides, rather than leave them as fodder for the necromancers.

At the end of the fighting season, the battle lines stretched all across the Southern Freeholds, from the Ashford Mountains to the shores of vast Lake Betian. Fifty miles north and south of this line was a no man's land of ruined villages, bloody battlefields and burned farms. The few Freehold cities that remained free were depopulated as the armies of the Northern Kingdom, including many Knights of Iridia, marched home for winter quarters in Autumnal. Some northerners remained behind for a variety of reasons - local loves, desire for gain, in gaol, out of faith or revenge, to name a few - and mixed with refugees from the occupied Freeholds. It left many of the cities in quite a state.

Cities and towns completely turned out their gaols, hanging the worst criminals (7) and giving pardon to others - as long as they continued to fight against their hated enemies, the Kings of the Iron Crown and the Necromancers.

These rag-tag warbands of deserters and thieves, brawlers and drunkards, laze-abouts and losers, with some few Knights of Iridia who stayed, were let loose on the ruined piece of land to wage the war as they saw fit, either to become Kings of the Iron Crown themselves or die against them. Many towns instituted policies to prevent the former and few regretted the latter (unless their corpses went unburned), with the hope that in the Spring, they would have caused more damage to the enemy than to the Freeholds.

Neither side expected what really happened."

From the Annals of the Winter War, Volume 1, written by Columbanus, Monk of Iridia, Abbey of the Western Pines, Great Northern Kingdom, 975ia.

(1) The 951st/952nd year since Iridia ascended into the heavens. ia is the common abbreviation of Iridia Ascendant.
(2) Kings of the Iron Crown is a Southern Freehold colloquialism for bandit chieftains.
(3) "Necromancer" was a new word at the time, as Undead were heretofore unknown prior to 951ia. The provenance of the word is unknown but many believe it is the name of the first wizard with these powers over the dead. The few Necromancers or Kings of the Iron Crown that were captured during the time were either unwilling to explain it's true history or unable due to lack of specific knowledge.
(4) The new Iridian Calendar is made of of 12 months: Deepwinter (January), Latewinter (February), Storms (March), Vernal (April), Planting (May), Flowers (June), Summertide (July), Highsun (August), Leaffall (September), Autumnal (October), Firstwinter (November) and Nightal (December). The old Iridian Calendar consisted of four seasons and a dozen or more feast days but became difficult to delineate sufficiently and fell into disuse by 397ia.
(5) "Zombies" and "Skeletons" were a colloquialism that developed during the Winter War. While "Skeletons" are an accurate description of that type of undead, it is unknown where the term "Zombie" came from, though it could be a bastardization from an Old Iridian phrase "Chom Bes" (to eat voraciously). Unfortunately, no one has provided any support for that possibility.
(6) A practice still in observance in many areas of the Southern Freeholds and Northern Kingdom.
(7) According to scant records of the time this mainly consisted of murderers and rapists.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

[Resources] The Circus!

The greatness of the Circus, whether a source of horror or wonder, cannot be ignored. From the pathetic and tragic Mammy Fortuna's Traveling Carnival from Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn to the eerie and dangerous Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show from Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, even the seminal Circus theme music (the Entrance of the Gladiators), all speak volumes to the way fantasy and reality mix in the Circus, including the language of the Carny.

Adventures in the carnival can cross the genres of heroism and tragedy, damnation and redemption. Starting a game in one makes everyone at the table realize that this isn't going to be your regular game. Investigating a murder under the Big Top or searching for clues to the Big Bad's secret plan for world domination can add that spice to the game session. Cliche? Who cares, just mix it up!

Friday, May 6, 2011

[1938] Sticky Bomb

The Sticky Bomb was a World War II British anti-tank weapon made from nitro and adhesive, and with a 5-second fuse. The official name was the Anti-Tank No. 74 Hand Grenade.

First issued in 1940 to Home Guard troops, the weapon was also used by regular army. Considered by some to be a stop-gap at a time when Britain lacked effective anti-tank weapons, it took a personal order by Churchill for 3 million of the bombs to be made.

Despite it's flaws (adhering to dusty, dirty or muddy vehicles was a problem), it was effective. In fact, in 1943, six German tanks were taken out in a little town called Thala in North Africa by these sticky bombs.

In 1938: A Very British Civil War, the sticky bomb is used by all sides of the conflict (or at least those who have the materials to do so) in an attempt to disable and destroy the various forms of mobile armor that have been scrounged, built, requisitioned or bought.

In terms of Savage Worlds, the Sticky Bomb is as follows:

Range: 1/2/4, Damage: 3d8, Notes: AP 3 (5 if well-secured to hull).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] Mousetrap/Pingpong Ball Simulation

Students in an A.P. Chemistry class at Horizon Science Academy came up with a simulated nuclear reaction using pingpong balls and mousetraps. Very cool.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

[1938] Dirigible! R100 and R101 on the loose

Continuing with the air-power for my 1938: A Very British Civil War Isle of Man campaign, I present the rival dirigibles, R100 and R101.

During late WWI and the interwar period, several rigid dirigibles, the R series, were developed for the British military. The R series included:
  • R23X class (serial R27 and R29, first flights 1918),
  • R31 class (serial R31, first flight 1918, and R32, first flight 1919),
  • R33 class (serial R33 and R34, first flights 1919),
  • R36 class (serial R36, first flight 1921, and the never built R37),
  • R38 class (serial R38, first flight 1921, with R39, R40 and R41 never built),
  • R80 class (serial R80, first flight 1920), and
  • R100 class (serial R100 and R101, first flights 1929)
When R38 crashed during her first flight in 1921 near the city of Hull, the military project was closed. Despite a re-vamp in 1925, with R33 (and a whole adventure story about that), things then petered off until 1929, when R100 and R101 were developed and flown. Two separate groups developed these ships - a private company Vickers built the "Capitalist Airship" R100, while the Government Air Ministry built the "the Socialist Airship" R101. Both flew in 1929, with the R101 crashing in late 1930, killing 48 of the 55 passengers and crew. This final event ended the British dirigible program.

But what could be in an alternate timeline? Perhaps both R100 and R101, the "Capitalist" and "Socialist" airships survived to 1938. Perhaps they took sides similar to their nicknames. Perhaps they now spend the bulk of the Very British Civil War playing a cat-and-mouse game in the clouds, fighting their own version of the war. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

So here are the stats for R100 and R101 (using Clint Black's Savage Crimson Skies rules). They're the same, pretty much, but have some different glitches.

And to prevent anything from shortening the adventure (one shot and *boom*), they use helium (in 1935, the British government managed to get a contract from the US for their two flagships), so the very explosive hydrogen hasn't been used for a couple of years. No *boom*.

R100/R101 (3 points)
  • R100: 37 + 63 passengers (max capacity 100)
  • R101: 45 (15 minimum) + 55 passengers (max capacity 100)
Speed: 8 (Average, 2 points)
  • R100: maximum speed: 81.5 mph, cruising speed: 50 mph, range: 4095 miles
  • R101: maximum speed: 71 mph, cruising speed: 63 mph, range: 4000 miles
Toughness: 12 (2) (Poor)
  • 8x Machineguns (Range: 15/30/60, Damage: 2d8, RoF: 3, Notes: AP2) (Poor)
Hard Points: 0 (Poor)

Glitches (1, -1 point):

  • R100 - Engine Overheating- This aircraft’s engine overheats when stressed. When performing any maneuver with a –4 or worse modifier, this vehicle suffers an additional –2 modifier.
  • R101 - Fuel Hog- This aircraft suffers a –2 modifier when rolling for fuel usage.

Upgrades (2, 2 points):
VTOL (dirigible) - stall speed is 0 (see Decreased Stall Speed).

Improved Handling- All Piloting rolls gain a +1 bonus.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

[Resources] Barding, the Horse Kind

Horse barding is still used in this modern age, especially in bullfighting. A caparison (a cloth cover on a horse, once part of medieval barding) called a "peto" is used by Picadores, the two horsemen who stab the bull with spears to "improve" the bull's performance during the fight.

The peto is a thick quilted padding that protects the horse from the bull. Prior to using these, horses often were killed by the bull. With the armor, horses can still get injured - internal injuries and broken ribs.

Petos can be used in a modern or post-apocalyptic campaign fairly easily - protecting valuable horses in any combat situation, from spies chasing a bad guy into a bullfighting ring during a performance to a group of mounted fighters battling mutants in the atomic wasteland.

In terms of Savage Worlds, a peto is heavily-quilted armor (+1 to Toughness), weighs 35 lbs and costs $250.

For Microlite20 Modern, it provides +2 AC protection, weighs 35 lbs and costs $250.

Monday, May 2, 2011

[Savage Worlds] The Winter War Campaign

I asked my buddy Christian if I could co-opt his old D20 Winter War campaign. So I rounded up a crew to play it out, made up some novice Savage Worlds characters and came up with a background write-up (which I'll provide in a following post).

I met the majority of these folks online and gathered them together at a local game shop. The PCs are:
  • Joe Redwing, a big warrior with a big sword (played by J).
  • Sir Aerik Blackmoor, an old nobleman (played by C).
  • McFee, a swordsman that wields two swords (played by D).
  • Nostro, a wizard (played by N).
  • Father Ashley, a priest of Iridia (played by J).
  • Edwin, a scout with a wild boar companion (played by M).
  • Keldon Blackwood, an axe-man (played by S).
  • Rick Hardrick, a mediocre swordsman (played by C).
I plan on writing up the sessions (each named after an appropriate Johnny Cash song) and posting them, as well as the characters involved, so keep checking back.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

[Auld Lang 'Zine] 1001+1 Nights, Issue #50

Issue #50, One Thousand and One Nights and One Night RPG Campaign Design 'zine
Issue no. 50 of One Thousand and One Nights and One Night Campaign Design 'zine was published in November 2009.

Issue no. 49 was supposed to be the last issue since I had been publishing my other 'zine, Switching to Guns, for a while. But nostalgia brought me back to this old 'zine for a final show: a very fun Iron Kingdoms adventure on the High Seas, with a rousing battle and an exploding boat. Can't beat that with a stick!

Again, no more game notes.