Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

[Distinguished Flying Cross] Lockheed Electra Miss de Meaner

The Miss de Meaner is a battered Lockheed Electra. It's more than a vehicle - it's home, work-place, comfort and refuge for the crew.

Start a fight and you'll get four pairs of fists in your face. Cheat the crew and they'll take you up to 10,000 feet and drop you (well, maybe only Diego).

But threaten the plane? Well, Katie bar the door, you haven't heard of the trouble you've just opened. They will put you down, hard.

Miss de Meaner (Lockheed Electric, 2 points)
Crew: 4 (pilot, co-pilot, mechanic, cargo master)
Speed: 8 (Average, 2 points)
Toughness: 12 (2) (Poor)
Weaponry: None mounted
Hard Points: 0 (Poor)

Glitches (1, -1 point):

  • Location Weakness (rudder)- This aircraft has a weak point in a certain location that can have dire effects if hit in combat. The location requires a called shot at –2 to hit, but the GM adds +2 to the roll on the Critical Hit table if a wound is caused.
Upgrades (1, 1 points):
  • Improved Engine- This aircraft’s engine is capable of performing in extreme conditions. It negates 2 points of Piloting penalties. This Tune Up can be taken twice for cumulative effects.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[Sea Roads] The Peoples of the Archipelago

The peoples of the Archipalego are uniformly red-brown skinned and dark haired, with the exception of the Grak, who are white skinned with blond or red hair. The average Archipalegan is between 5 foot 5 and 5 foot 9 tall and between 15 and 25 stone in weight, with women traditionally shorter and lighter than men.

The common language of the Sea Roads is Kaqe and the written text is Kaqic Runes, though the Grak speak a different language altogether. Kaqe is a bastardization of the True Speech and, while having little actual magical power, some words are suspiciously close to their original roots. Literacy is abnormally high for this technology level as both reading and writing is encouraged for all levels of society, though the majority of people are semi-literate and able to read most things slowly. Memorization is also encouraged, for the variety of songs and lays that are popular along the Sea Roads.

There is no religion in the Archipelago, with the exception of ancestor worship among the Grak, but there is veneration of few sites true to the Old Powers of the earth and the sea amongst the islands. The very concept of a god or gods is foreign to the inhabitants of the Sea Roads.

Professions range from sailor to soldier, witch to wizard, smith to carpenter, farmer to fisherman, and merchant to prince, to name a few. Most islanders are familiar with the sea, having sailed it since infancy, but a few on the larger isles have no such skill, seeing the sea from afar but never actually living or working on it, though this is rare. In every town can be found a witch or sorcerer, a head man or woman, a carpenter, a smith and a tavern keeper. The few cities have much more, while the smaller villages and hamlets have even less.

Trade is carried out by barter or with ivory or gold. The technology level of the world is early iron, with bronze still prevalent. Fashion includes tunics and hose or robes for men, women and wizards, and cloaks with hoods.

Monday, June 27, 2011

[Savage Worlds] Winter War Campaign, Session Six: Sailor On A Concrete Sea

Session six of the Winter War campaign involved naval action!

The PCs escaped the Ghoul cave and found the weapon stash from Grath. They quickly loaded their booty onto the fishing boat and made for deeper water on Lake Sri.

Soon, they spotted two sails in the distance - two larger boats approaching. They figured that the boats were faster than they were, so they tried to fool them with plague markings.

When that didn't work, they got ready to fight. One boat turned out to be from Malarky's Crew and the other was unknown. Sir Aerik in the crows nest spotted a figure on board who could only have been one of the hated Necromancers.

The two boats soon closed the distance but Captain McFee managed to get some good rolls (with the help of the rest of the crew) and found some shallows that mired the Malarky ship. With the Necromancer and his undead crew still in full pursuit, they were soon overhauled and attacked.

The battle was fierce - the Necromancer used his magic staff to blast their sail and topple their mast (unfortunately for Sir Aerik in the crows nest) but the mast fell onto the Necromancer's ship. Father Ashley used his holy power against the zombies but the evil dead were protected by the powers of the Necromancer.

With the PCs fighting for their lives against zombies, several concentrated on taking out the Necromancer - Sir Aerik, Nostro the Wizard, McPhee and Keldon the Ax all tried to take him down.

He caught Sir Aerik's sword with his left hand and Keldon's ax with his right and totally ignored McPhee's feeble attacks. Finally, Nostro the Wizard unleashed ultimate death onto the Necromancer, blowing his body to pieces into the lake waters.

The session ended with the PCs in full command of the Necromancer's ship and looking towards Malarky's ship on the shoals.

Next Session: Another boarding action!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

[1938] Locations: The Howe

The Howe is the main southern base of the Manx forces, comprised of the bulk of the Ramsey Company (Captain Arthur Gride, commanding) and the Liverpool Free Staters (Lt. Colonel Arthur Havisham, commanding).

The Howe is directly west of Port St. Mary, along the Howe Road, past the intersection of the Glen Chass Road. There are a half-dozen houses and shops, including The Howe Public House, along the Howe Road. Most of the outbuildings are occupied by soldiers and the Pub is the command HQ (but is open most days to the locals). Trenches surround the hamlet as a raid early in the fighting brought the idea home that a seige doesn't always work the way you'd think.

The Manx forces regularly patrol the Glen Chass Road, down to the Fistard Road, where another Manx company is dug in. After that first raid, not much is happening along this front but that doesn't mean that the troops are lax - the opposite in fact. Gride and Havisham work well together, maintaining distinct commands while drilling their troops to support each other. Gride is more cautious while Havisham is more daring. Between the two of them, the region they control is totally theirs.

The Howe is a good place for PCs to interact with fellow Manx forces, in a bucolic setting without bullets flying. Additionally, there is some espionage work here, as several of the resistance groups in Port St. Mary send info to the Howe.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

[Resources] The Polish Winged Hussars

I was reading the Book of Worlds blog and came across this post about the Winged Hussars, which included a link to a movie about them. Check out the blog, the film clip and the wikipedia article, they're well worth it.

As an aside: I first saw a drawing of them by Donna Barr in the RPG Lace and Steel, originally published by TAGG in the early 90s (and by Pharos Press for the second edition). Now Golden Elm is in charge of it (whether they actually bring it back into print remains to be seen).

Friday, June 24, 2011

[Characters] Henry Taggart

Henry Taggart was one of the main crew of the Miss de Meaner. He prefers using a Tommy Gun nicknamed "The Hammer" when in a gunfight and throwing knives as a matter of course.

Henry Taggart (WC)

Agility d10 Smarts d8 Spirit d6 Strength d10 Vigor d8
Pace 6 Parry 8 Toughness 6 Charisma -0-

Hindrances: Enemy (M), Loyal, Bloodthirsty.

Edges: Trademark Weapon, Frenzy, Block, Marksman, No Mercy.

Skills: Fighting d10, Shooting d10, Guts d4, Driving d4, Repair d4, Notice d6, Throwing d6.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] 19

19 was an immediate and international hit in 1985, I remember playing Twilight 2000 and FGU's Aftermath! to this song.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

[Sea Roads] A Brief History and Geography

The world came into being from the sea over 2000 years ago. According to legend, five wizards stood forth and called out the True Names of the lands, parting the sea and raising islands up. Who these five wizards were or where they came from is subject to mass speculation and even larger legend. Suffice it to say it was they who made the world of men possible.

The sea, however, did not give up land very easily and only a few thousand islands, some large but the majority small, dot the world in a far-flung archipelago, with plenty of water in-between.

Over the next millennia, men traveled to and inhabited most of the isles, developing skills of carpentry and ship building, smelting and smithing, magic and language, farming and fishing, trade and even war in the process. They created the Sea Roads, the travel and trade routes that wind their way through the islands, following the shores and currents, mapping the whirlpools and sargassos, marking the doldrums and the freshwater springs.

The overall world is known as the Archipalego of the Sea Roads or simply either the Archipalego or the Sea Roads. It is divided into five parts, the Inner Sea, the Middle Sea, and the three Reaches of the Outer Sea - the Widdershin Reach, the Deiseil Reach, and the Spinward Reach. The Middle Sea rings the Inner Sea and is surrounded by the Reaches. The Widdershin Reach covers an arc from the East to the Northwest, the Deiseil Reach stretches from the East to the Southwest, and the Spinward Reach is from the Southwest to the Northwest.

The largest number of islands. as well as the largest islands, are in the Inner Sea, some say over five hundred, if one was bothered enough to count. The Middle Sea holds at least as many in at least five times the area. The Reaches have most far flung islands, all told about a thousand islands.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

[Blog] Red Box Blog

One of the blogs I read is Red Box Blog.

Back in January, The Red DM posted an article titled "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Cards" about the announced WOTC D&D Fortune Cards.

The Red DM came up with his own Fortune Cards, using a standard playing card deck. Each suit has a different effect, from saving throw bonuses, extra temporary hit points, bonuses to hit and increased damage dealt. The range of the effect depends on the number/face card drawn.

This is so cool, I'll be using this in the future!

For this post alone, I urge you to check out the Red Box Blog - you won't regret it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

[Resources] Fort du Portalet

The Fort du Portalet is a French fortress in the Pyrenees Mountains. Constructed between 1842 and 1870, the fort was placed to control the Somport Pass between France and Spain. Situated 100 yards above the original toll location, the fort was designed to garrison nearly 500 men.

Occupied for over 50 years by the 18th Pau Infantry Regiment, it became a summer camp from 1925 until 1939. After the start of World War II, it became a Vichy prison and, ironically, Philippe Petain, the former head of Vichy France, was imprisoned there briefly after the war.

The 18th returned to the Fort, occupying it until 1952. After mothballing the fort in 1962, the military sold it in 1966. A series of owners managed to let it slowly collapse into ruin until it finally became a national monument (2005) and a restoration project began.

A website with some cool pics of the fort is here. Many of the pictures are haunting in their simplicity. Another has just a few pics but they show better the size of the fort. A third site has a few pictures and an original sketch. Another set of photos is in Wikipedia Commons.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

[1938] Up Armored Truck

With the start of the Very British Civil War, armor, and especially light armored cars, were in short supply. Many militaries, however, have solved the problem in the short-term by armoring lorries with as thick a plate as they can find.

Here's an example of one 2 ton truck, in Savage World terms:

Up Armored 2.0 Tonne Truck:
Acc/Top Speed: 5/40Toughness: 13/8(4/2)
Crew: 2 (driver, gunner) +10 passengers
Notes: Four-Wheel Drive, Soft-sided; Toughness 8 for the undercarriage.
.30 Cal Machine Gun (Range: 30/60/120, Damage: 2d8+1, ROF 3, AP 2)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

[Resources] Charles Dickens

We all read the works of Charles Dickens in high school: Great Expectations, Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Bleak House and Nicholas Nickleby, just to name a few.

And the stories, while long and boring from a typical high school viewpoint, actually are excellent and some of the greatest pieces of literature of all time. The usefulness of these stories in any game you might run is immense - unrequited love and ironic tragedy, dastardly revenge and forlorn hope, deep despair and silly happiness, vast wealth and crushing poverty - all of it, is useful.

At the minimum, I've been using the list of Dickensian characters in my 1938 game (and several other Victorian-Era games), which, in addition to the names of the characters, provides a short description of events and situations that the character is involved in during the course of the books. Already made up NPCs? From literature? Holy Cats!

Friday, June 17, 2011

[Quotes] Ursula LeGuin

"Here lay a dead Karg with yellow hair long, loose, and bloody; there lay the village tanner, killed in battle like a king." - A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin, Chapter 1: Warriors in the Mist

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

[Resources] Wizards Project

The Wizards Project is a research project that studies lie detection. According to the study, a "wizard" is one who can detect a lie 80% of the time, as opposed to the average person. The study tested 20,000 people and found 50 (roughly 0.25%) that could be considered wizards. One of the researchers, Paul Ekman, is the basis for the TV show Lie to Me.

Imagine throwing in this research into a game? The Wizards Project would work great in a modern or near-future Psionics based game, as either a psi protection group or a group with shady (possibly government or corporate) dealings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

[Characters] Lee Smith

Lee Smith joined the Miss de Meaner crew during the Mummy adventure. He proved his usefulness against the Nazi war machine and the raid on the slave camp.

Lee Smith (WC)

Agility d8 Smarts d8 Spirit d8 Strength d10 Vigor d10
Pace 6 Parry 7 Toughness 8 Charisma -0-

Hindrances: Vow (M), Death Wish, Vengeful.

Edges: Berserker, Brawny, Two-fisted, Improved Level Headed, Sweep, No Mercy, Giant Killer.

Skills: Fighting d10, Shooting d8,Guts d6, Notice d6, Investigation d6, Stealth d6.

Monday, June 13, 2011

[Savage Worlds] Winter War Campaign, Session 5: The Running Kind

Session five continued with the party trapped in an underground maze, menaced by ghoul children.

Two cut scenes occurred: In one, a Necromancer congratulated Colin on ridding him of the PCs and gaining the title of King of the Iron Crown for Malarky's gang. In the second, a white arm came out of the darkness and drained one of the civilians in the PCs' lair, killing him.

After fighting several waves of ghoul children, they discovered that all of them came back to unlife after each fight. A convincing persuasion roll managed to get the ghouls to go back to their master and gave the PCs some time to figure out a plan of escape.

The maze turned them around so they tied themselves together and wandered the maze blind in order to avoid the magical confusion trap. They kept their hands on the walls to keep their sense of direction. They made some good progress but stumbled upon a room larger than the tunnels and were forced to open their eyes because of an attack by a swarm of rats!

Using fire and magic, they managed to kill off the rats without taking too much damage but the ghoul children returned, bringing with them their master, a Greater Ghoul.

After some chitchat and insults back and forth, the battle was engaged. The Greater Ghoul was deadly in combat, able to paralyze them with a touch and doing extreme amounts of damage. They killed him once but he came back a second time, which they then killed. Before he "reformed," Nostro cast a Locate spell to find the exit and they RAN.

Near the exit they found an ancient gold-inlaid holy stone that prevented the ghouls from leaving the maze and were blessed by the holiness in the stone.

The exit turned out to be a cave that had some military supplies from Grath stored in it and they quickly took the gear and retreated back to their boat.

Next time: Return to the Smugglers' Cave

Sunday, June 12, 2011

[Sea Roads] Book List

"He went straight to the shelf and took down the two Lore-Books, which Ogion had never yet opened in his presence." - A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin, Chapter 2: The Shadow.

My inspirational book list for Sea Roads is as follows:

The Earthsea novels by Ursula K. LeGuin:
I've chosen these specifically and not the later novels because I felt the trilogy pre-1975 was the best of the lot and the following two novels didn't speak to me as much as these did. However, I found myself enjoying the compilation Tales so I've added that book.

The Darwath novels by Barbara Hambly:

I like these Hambly books because they have a very similar flavor of wizards as Earthsea - a connection to spells, names and natural magic ability that I found very compelling.

Reference material:
Both of these books are wonderful references, not only of Earthsea information but other fantasy worlds that will provide ideas for the setting.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

[1938] Locations: the Four Roads

The Four Roads is located just outside of Port St. Mary, at the intersection of Plantation Road and Beach Road, and Station Road and Bay View Road. The Four Roads intersection is currently controlled by Platoon 3, Company B, of the BUF Solway Legion.

Commanded by Lt. Mulberry Hawk, the BUF soldiers support the rest of Company B located at the Port St Mary Railway Station, keeping the road open to the village. The BUF have dug full trenches along the roads and into the fields around. There are no nearby buildings, so the habitations are crude and rough, and the men are miserable most of the time. Couple that with the road being used (and most of the trenches below the raised roadways) makes the trenches hazardous as well as uncomfortable - two lorries took a dive into a trench last week during the rains, killing several soldiers. Resentment is starting to grow among the lower ranks.

On both sides of the Four Roads, the Manx forces are arrayed. To the west along Truggan Road, Lt. William Guppy commands the 1st Union Mills Platoon, 1st Douglas Company. To the east, along the Beach Road, Lt. Richard Payne commands the Castledown Militia, Castledown Company. These platoons have better accommodations, including actual buildings, but they have set up a half-dozen trenches in their area. Morale is rather high for both as well.

The fighting here is not as intense as at some other places, but shots do ring out on a regular basis.A push to cut off the Port St. Mary Railroad Station is in the works, and tunnels to the intersection have been underway for some time.

Tonight, we're making the push - can you take that trench over there while the Castledown Militia makes a feint? Good chaps!

Friday, June 10, 2011

[Characters] Diego Jackson

Diego Jackson is the pilot for the battered Lockheed Electra Miss de Meaner and the gruffest of the lot. He's got a good heart but can be rather harsh, especially when dealing with threats to his plane and his crew.

Diego Jackson (WC)

Agility d8 Smarts d8 Spirit d8 Strength d8 Vigor d8
Pace 6 Parry 5 Toughness 6 Charisma -0-

Hindrances: Enemy (M), Loyal, Quirk: Always wears flying togs.

Edges: Ace, Quick, Two-fisted.

Skills: Fighting d6, Piloting d8, Shooting d8, Guts d6, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Repair d4, Driving d6, Knowledge (Occult) d8.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] The Final Countdown

Another vid from the 80's that got us thinking about the end of the world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

[Resources] Propp's Morphology

Vladimir Propp was a Russian literary theorist who wrote Morphology of the Folktale (1928), which broke up the structure of the folktale. Though unknown in the west until the 1950s, Propp's treatise includes 8 characters and 31 functions.

The 31 functions of the folktale are step-by-step, allowing for jumps forward but no regression. They include (to name a few) absent family members, the villain's reconnaissance, villainy, receipt of a magical agent, pursuit, transfiguration of the hero and the villain punished.

Take at look at the morphology. It may help your game.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

[Savage Worlds] Winter War Campaign, Session 4: Suffer Little Children

Session four continued where session three ended off: The party went ashore to find the useful military equipment that Joe's "friend" Colin stashed.

They noticed that the land they entered was diseased and that disease was not of natural origin. Colin led them through the woods, about five miles from the coast, where they found an old shack, built partially from the ruins of a tower. After listening at the door, Colin led them inside. The inside wasn't much better. It looked long abandoned. Colin fetched a hidden lantern and lit it, turning towards a barred cellar door. He explained that he and Steve had found the place and hidden the loot in the caves beneath the cellar.

He led them down into the cellar (which was filled with junk, probably of the same era as the tower) and through a stone door. The door opened into a cave and Colin stopped to listen but didn't hear anything. The group trouped through the door and the sudden click behind them as the door shut told them that things were about to go rapidly wrong.

The door completely disappeared and Colin looked at them funny before collapsing into a pile of clothes - an enchantment! The lantern went out as he dropped it and for a short while there was a scramble to get light. The PCs found a carved chess pawn with mystical writing on it in the clothes, which turned out to be rotted and useless, as well as "Colin's" equipment - a pitted and rusted longsword and a useless bow.

The party found themselves trapped in a series of tunnels and spent some time trying to get out. They heard children playing in the darkness and before long they were attacked by child ghouls (which freaked them out). The child ghouls attacked them twice, each time wandering off after a round or two. One of the PCs was paralyzed by their ghoulish touch but Father Ashley managed to bring him out of it.

The session ended with the party wandering in circles, finishing the second fight with the child ghouls and no obvious way out!

Next time: ESCAPE!

Monday, June 6, 2011

[Resources] The Society of King Charles the Martyr

The Society of King Charles the Martyr is an Anglican group dedicated to "intercessory prayer for the defence of the Church of England against the attacks of her enemies."

The Society is dedicated to the only King of England to be executed, Charles I. Canonised by the Church of England after the English Reformation in 1660, he was considered the first martyr because he was unwilling to "abandon the Church and give up episcopacy" (High Anglicanism).

The modern Society has a variety of objectives, including getting the Feast of St. Charles (January 30th) reinstated, intercessory prayer, and support to dedicated churches.

The Society can be used in a modern-era game as a group working against the player characters, a patron in a post-Reformation campaign or part of a conspiracy in a Victorian-Era mystery.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

[1938] Mort's Blog

The Battle of Henton
When I joined the Edward VIII Cocktail Bar forum over on the Gentlemans Wargames Parlour, Mort was one of the first fellows to welcome me to the fold of 1938: A Very British Civil War.

Mort's 1938 Scrapbook blog is excellent, providing great pictures of miniatures, a look into his 1938 notes  and the war games he gets into over in England.

It's so good, I included it in my blog roll. Check it out!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

[Sea Roads] Introduction and Inspiration

"The oarsmen were coming aboard now, for the ship was to go out into the roadstead before night fell, and sail with the ebb-tide near dawn."  - A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin, Chapter 2: The Shadow.

Yes, I'm at it again. I'm creating a new Savage Worlds campaign called Sea Roads. It will be a human-centric, magic-filled setting, in the spaces between a gigantic sea and the archipelago of islands strung within.

The primary inspiration for this was the Earthsea series of books by  Ursula K. Le Guin. After re-reading (for the umpteenth time) A Wizard of Earthsea recently, I searched the internet for any RPG that was similar and found only a few threads here and there, so I decided to do one on my own.

While this campaign setting will be an homage to the Earthsea world, it won't be canon. I'm keeping the sea and the islands, true names and true speech, but leaving behind the Dry Lands, the male-centric (and celibate) wizardry and some of the other bits.

There are other novels that I'll use for inspiration as well and I'll mention them in another post and why I'm using them. For place names and more, I'll be using Google Translate to get English words converted into a real-world language that has some linguistic consistency. I've decided to use Swahili for those words.

I think this campaign setting is an opportunity to move away from the standard fantasy tropes, avoiding the Middle Ages and Europe, elves and dwarves and orcs, for something different.

We'll see how it turns out.

Friday, June 3, 2011

[Resources] Shepherd's Crook

A shepherd's crook is a staff with a hooked end, that's used to hook sheep on the legs or neck. A more formalized version, the crosier is often used by priests in religious services.

The usefulness of this hook in a combat situation, above the standard staff, could, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, not be understated enough.

Here's the staff for Savage Worlds:

Shepherd's Crook
Damage: STR + d6; Wt.: 8#; Reach: 1; Notes: Parry +1, +1 to Agility Tricks, 2 hands.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

[Atomic Thursday] 99 Red Balloons

One of the vids from the 80's that exemplified the expected Nuclear Apocalypse.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

[Characters] George McJiminy

George McJiminy is a lucky fellow. The seventh son of the seventh son, he is the younger brother to Angus, Brian, Charles, David, Everett, and Francis. The PCs in my Distinguished Flying Cross Pulp Savage Worlds campaign met Francis a while ago and didn't have a good impression. George, however, is nothing like Francis. While Francis is a liar, a cheat and possibly a white-slaver mercenary, George is a stand-up guy, forthright and (fairly) honest, especially in regards to the job the crew of the Miss de Meaner is doing.

George McJiminy (WC)

Agility d8 Smarts d6 Spirit d8 Strength d10 Vigor d6
Pace 6 Parry 6 Toughness 5 Charisma +4

Hindrances: Enemy (M), Loyal, Quirk

Edges: Common Bond, Attractive, Luck, Great Luck, Two-fisted, Charismatic, Connections.

Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d6, Knowledge (Accounting) d6, Guts d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Throwing d6, Taunt d4, Pilot d4, Intimidation d4, Investigation d4.