Jan 102010


For today’s adventure we were joined by a new player. Bob Jumper is a master pilot with an experimental aircraft and a Flash Gordon flair. Those of you who GM regularly will note subtle changes in my world as a new player’s goals are injected into my previous designs.

UJ – Union Jane

H – The Hunter

Bob – Bob Jumper

A strange semicircular cloud has appeared over San Francisco. Detective O’Houlihan(O’H) approaches UJ and H with a summons from the mayor (Sunny Jim). So, they go to his office. They find there as well Bob Jumper, an ace pilot, ladies’ man, and adventurer (also of the Century Club). The mayor tells him that they want a pilot to investigate the cloud, and they need a really good one because of all the flying concrete debris from the destroyed Etheropia. The mayor also says that an explanation is needed for all the unsavory occurrences in the city lately, and that he doesn’t have one, and that’s when he reveals the journalists. They flash annoying camera bulbs, and ask H how many people he’s killed. At first he gives them a cold stare, but then he says, “What business is it of yours?” UJ tells them that the city is going to be attacked by a Chinese crime boss who calls himself Doctor Jin. Bob tells them that basically they’re wasting valuable time because the cloud has to be investigated, and our intrepid heroes manage finally to get out of the mayor’s office with their reputations intact. O’H says that there was an incident that he wanted to call attention to, and which he couldn’t pin on UJ and H because they were at the press conference. Police had gotten a call, and found 16 bodies of The Dawn Fist tong members. UJ asked to see the crime scene. UJ, H and Bob all went. The bodies were in a building with no windows and only one door. There were oddly shaped long glass shards on the floor. The bodies had claw marks from a tiger, and there were claw imprints of a lizard on the floor. This was determined by H. It appeared that the people had been brought into the building and then killed when something very heavy had crashed through the roof (the building had two or three more stories) and killed them all. There also turned out to be secret rooms with more bodies in them. One of the rooms opened onto a sewer passage. The party goes in, and hears sobbing. It turns out to be an Asian woman who by her dress seems to have been a cigarette girl for the Dawn Fist’s gambling parlor. Bob calms her down, and gets a police translator named Rosie. Rosie says the woman keeps saying “The tiger came out of the darkness, and it walked like a man” or something. Bob and H go to Bob’s plane, an experimental, well-armored plane with guns called the X-5, to go check on the cloud. UJ goes to find a map of the sewer system at the library. Bob and H find near the cloud a roughly humanoid thing with dragonfly-like wings (out of character: The Brother of the Wind = demon #2 of 7). H jumps onto it, while Bob shoots at it. H then tries to pull its wings off. He successfully pulls one off and realizes he is above the city; way above the city. Bob flies the X-5 in an attempt to catch H as he falls. The creature lets out a cry, and a Chinese dragon appears (out of character: King of the Storm, demon #3 of 7). It sends lightning Bob’s and H’s way. Meanwhile, UJ locates a map at the city planner’s office after meeting some helpful people at the library. She finds the sewer section from the last adventure with the Axe Gang, and sees that the whole sewer system is connected. She finds a place with a manhole entrance where she thinks a man-tiger could be hiding. She’s escorted there by a police officer assigned by O’H to keep an eye on her because “I don’t trust her.” She enters and finds a stash of money littering the floor. Then she hears a metallic growl and is attacked by the huge tiger man (out of character: Lord of the Hunt, demon #4 of 7–moving right along aren’t we?). Meanwhile, H tries to jump onto the dragon and ends up stuck on its tail. Bob has to catch H, again. Bob points out that this is new for him. He usually only catches damsels in distress, but he’ll make an exception for H. The X-5 gets damaged by dragon lightning. Bob has H pilot the plane (which he does amazingly well for someone without the Pilot skill) while Bob makes his repairs in mid-air. They shoot at the dragon some more. H tries to jump on the dragon again. The dragonfly man finally hit the ground, out of commission. H ended up falling onto/into a building. By now they’ve helped set fire to and otherwise damage a number of buildings. They eventually kill the dragon. I think they even caused it to fall apart. (Metal and armor rain down onto the unprotected streets.) The dragon, the dragonfly man, and, as it’s eventually revealed, the tiger man were part clockwork machine, like the “fire samurai” from the last adventure (obviously these were three of Dr. Jin’s seven “demons”). It is discovered that hidden up in the cloud there was a balloon craft with the remains of another clockwork/organic creature. The creature was putting this yellow stuff into the air that had something to do with/was causing the cloud. After the dragon’s demise the clouds above the city became normal again. Somewhere along the line Bob flies through a building, which was cool. Somewhere else along the line he also informs H about the parachutes under the seats, which H notes would have been a big help a little while ago when he was falling. Bob says, “We’re not done falling yet!” The plane is again damaged, but he has to land to fix it. Back in the sewer UJ and the tiger man beat on each other. The tiger man eventually decides to vanish into shadows, and UJ with her crappy Alertness can’t find him (oh yes, she got a flashlight from O’H) until he jumps her from behind. Eventually she beats him up so bad that he ends up trying to crawl away towards the ocean. Bob lands the X-5 at an airfield where he gets people to help with repairs. UJ hauls the tiger man up out of the sewer and tries to take him to the police station. She finds the old Chinese guy who was the interpreter in the last game and asks him to ask the creature where Jin is. At first the guy doesn’t want to ask, but he relents. The creature surprises them all and says in English, “He is already here,” and dies. A ticking sound is heard from the body. UJ yells “Run!” and “There’s a bomb!” It so happens that Bob’s nearby, and that he has the Aspect “Throw Me the Bomb.” Thankfully, he disarms the bomb, and the city is saved, for now. But as H kept saying, “The press is going to eat us alive!”

The power of SOTC is again revealed as a player can drop in without so much as a character sheet and integrate into the story almost seamlessly. Bob Jumper also took my adventure into a more sci-fi dieselpunk direction than I had originally intended, as will no doubt be seen in future installments.

Be well.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , ,
Dec 252009

Greetings to those of you in the Sunset World. I was hoping to have another Diaspora writeup, but circumstance conspires against us. (Doesn’t it always?)

But, no matter. Our next Spirit of the Century adventure followed some reading I did about San Francisco and its Barbary Coast district. I highly recommend The Secrets of San Francisco by Chaosium for details of this peculiar era of Old Frisco’s history.

Again, my littlest player came through for me. What would I do without her?

Union Jane – UJ

The Hunter – H

Suddenly UJ and H find themselves in San Francisco in 1927. There’s going to be a memorial service on Thursday for the first victims of the Petrifying Wind, in which there will be an official unveiling of commemorative statues. UJ and H are to represent the Century Club. But since H took the silver coins from the ship in the last adventure, he and UJ decide to get them appraised and sold. So they go to a coin appraiser, who tells them they’re worth twenty dollars apiece. He can’t buy them (he can’t afford to), but he knows someone who will, so he sets up an appointment for them with this guy in a few days. Outside the building UJ and H hear a commotion and see that there’s a man beating up an old woman, and they’re surrounded by a crowd of women. H dramatically jumps out a window to save her (he lands stylishly on top of a car, blowing out all its windows), while UJ runs down some stairs and out of the building to help. H attacks the man, who is tattooed, strangely. Eventually the man decides to run, and H chases him. The women carry the old woman to a building marked “The Gray Swan,” (turns out to be a brothel) and UJ follows them. In the meantime, H attacks and kills the guy. He searches the body and finds some papers written in Chinese. Also of note was that the guy had tattoos on his hands. One hand with a sunrise and the other with a sunset. H heads to the Gray Swan to find UJ. When UJ enters “The Swan” she sees the old woman being tended to by a white woman (all the other women are Asian). They’re all naturally suspicious of UJ and H, but UJ convinces them that they don’t mean any harm and want to help. Turns out the white woman is their madam. She implies that the old woman (Mama Han) was targeted by a tong, and that the tongs have become increasingly hostile to anyone who defies them. She also said that the Asian women were “slaves” who’d been brought from China. There are three tongs: Dawn Fist, Axe Gang, and One Thousand Fists. Mama Han (a former “slave”) has “the sight,” says the madam, and she keeps murmuring that “The hunter is coming.” She has also said that a “Doctor Jin” (Dr J) is coming. UJ and H take “the hunter” to be H. Dr J is apparently a very evil person from China that no one likes to speak of. The madam gets one of the Asian women who can speak English (named Rosie, because why the hell not?) to tell UJ and H about him. She said that Dr J makes “demons,” (think she was also the one who mentioned that he traveled with “the Seven”) and that when he comes, something bad is going to happen. She also thinks that maybe one of the tongs has insulted Dr J, and that’s why he’s on his way. The Axe Gang has heavily fortified their headquarters. The madam also took UJ and H down into a secret room to show us a bunch of women sewing, who she said would be in danger when Dr J came. H wanted to find the Axe Gang’s headquarters, but the women wouldn’t tell us. (They might not have known, actually.) Turned out that a union acquaintance of UJ’s had mentioned the Axe Gang, so UJ and H went to talk to him. He said he’d met a coolie who knew about the Axe Gang, and told us where to reach him. The coolie was found in a bakery, where UJ and H were first greeted by a Chinese woman. UJ had to bribe her to get her to let them see the coolie, and then UJ had to bribe the coolie to get him to talk, since he was afraid of the Axe Gang and Dr J. Of Dr J, he said that a tong in China had killed Dr J’s “grocer boy,” who was actually an old man (even though it was said that Dr J doesn’t eat like normal people, among other horrible things), and that afterward the tong’s hideouts started getting destroyed. The coolie wouldn’t tell us how to get to the Axe Gang’s headquarters, so UJ asked if there was a back way or secret entrance. He mentioned a sewer, and said that the leader here of the Axe Gang was fond of mussels and noodles. The coolie mentioned Pier 9. (This pier happened to be in the same location as the Petrifying Wind memorial statues.) He mentioned more than once something along the lines of “When they torture you to find out who told you about them, don’t mention me!” In gratitude for his help, H bought a cake. As he carried the cake through the city streets, urchins started following him. He gave the cake to them to get them to stop following him. As UJ and H headed to the pier at night (H said to look for noodles and mussels as a gift), they were confronted by five guys. One seemed to ask for beer money, and UJ said, “What?” He said “Screw it,” and they attacked. UJ and H killed them, after which they went to the beach where the pier was, but it was high tide and they couldn’t detect anything that looked like some kind of entranceway. They decided to hang out on a park bench. H didn’t have to sleep, but UJ rested on the bench. A policeman named O’Houlihan (O’H) confronted them and told them that they weren’t supposed to be there, and did they know anything about these five guys who’d just been killed nearby? UJ and H said they didn’t, but O’H continued to harass them, so they showed him their Century Club membership cards, which finally caused him to let them go about their business. Since it was almost daylight but too early to find noodles and mussels, and it was almost time for the appointment with the coin buyer, UJ and H went to a coffee vendor and UJ had some coffee. They eventually met the buyer. H and the buyer haggled a bit, and eventually the price of ten dollars per coin was agreed upon (because he couldn’t afford to buy them all for twenty dollars each, he said.) They all went to a bank nearby so he could pay H, which he did. There were one thousand coins, by the way. All of a sudden there was a really loud noise outside. The buyer left in the opposite direction of the noise. H jumped out a window, again, to see what was going on. UJ rolled 4 pluses and impressively jumped off a fire escape after him. Turned out that a boat had plowed into the pier (Pier 9, of course). There was fire, debris and screaming people. Firefighters started arriving. UJ and H went to help, and heard a woman screaming, “My baby!” Turned out to be a kid in the water, hanging on to a piece of debris. H and UJ swam out and H grabbed the kid. Somehow UJ helped him swim and/or hang onto the kid as they tried to get back to shore. ( I nearly accidentally killed the entire party here, oops.) They actually got pretty burned before they got back onto the beach, but the kid was safe. They approached the boat, which was flying a Greek flag. O’H came up to them and “asked” if they wanted to board the ship. So they did, followed by O’H and a few of his men. (H jumped onto the ship, UJ nearly fell trying to get on but was pulled up by H, then the total dork policemen went up on a ladder.) First thing that was noticed was the two Chinese symbols probably painted in blood on this door of a cabin on deck. O’H got an elderly Chinese man who was their translator, and this guy said the symbols meant “Dr J arrives” or something like that. Two of O’H’s men opened the cabin door, which was unlocked, went in and then ran out in a state of almost-puking. UJ and H went in and saw that the “steering wheel” or whatever it’s called on a ship had been mostly torn out and replaced by something that was partly made out of human muscles. UJ and H searched the rest of the ship. All they found of note (other than that there was no one and no bodies on board) was that the galley was bloody and appeared to have been used as an operating room. Wait a minute, there was something else, which was that there seemed to have been cushioned pod-like areas that looked like they were meant to protect seven things that were now no longer in evidence. At some point UJ and H left the ship and O’H and his men, and found these kids on the beach, who said that one of their number (named Billy) said that he saw monsters leaving the ship. The other kids thought Billy was lying, but UJ and H questioned him, and he said he saw flying creatures and “a lady with one red eye,” and that (at least some) of them had entered this hole, which UJ and H hadn’t seen before because of the high tide (uh-oh). The kids said they weren’t supposed to go in there because of high tide. H bought the kids some noodles and mussels from a beach stand. Then he and UJ entered the hole, which was a tunnel with burn marks (with the magic of Fate points, they miraculously found that they had flashlights, which they needed to see in the dark tunnel). Eventually they found (a) room(s) with bodies and more burn marks. At some point, they found a door, inside of which were the remains of some damaged stairs, which they had difficulty climbing. They then entered a room that was on fire, and there they were attacked by 25 tong members with axes. At the start, fifteen attacked H and ten attacked UJ. Eventually UJ and H killed them all, although they sustained quite a bit of damage. They then reached a room where they saw a “man” wearing strange, Asian-looking armor who had fire instead of eyes and who was killing the leader of the Axe Gang. The creature jumped out of a window. H attacked and did so well that he severed one of the creature’s arms. Some other people showed up–firemen? But they didn’t stay long. UJ and H kept attacking the creature, and were doing very well, in sharp contrast to when they had to fight the 25 tong members. At one point the creature had trouble turning its head. Eventually H got the idea to attack the creature’s armor. He rolled so well that he clawed off a piece of its chestpiece, revealing a clockwork mixed in with human organs, including two eye stalks. The thing then burst into flames, and some fluid spilled out of it, and it was no more. Later it was determined that if UJ and H could understand Mandarin, they would have known that the creature said “Thank you” when it died. It turned out that that wasn’t Dr J (as H thought earlier), but one of Dr J’s “Seven.” And then that annoyance O’H showed up, accused UJ and H of being suspicious and tried to handcuff them, but UJ intimidated him into not doing so.

And the session ended there.

’till next time. Enjoy the Holidays.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , ,
Dec 062009

This was our next adventure. Again, it is written by my best player. :) It is offered here in its mostly unedited raw form. There was a no-show on the player side so I thought I’d run a sidebar to tie together the arcs. I needn’t have bothered, since one of the players changed characters yet again. This would become a theme for him. SOTC supports this, so the story changes slightly to match his new priorities.


After destruction of the sky city of Etheropia, UJ and the Hunter (H) began hunting down various rogue cultists who had to find new hideouts. Turns out also that Etheropia’s destruction created an “asteroid field” of floating debris that occasionally rains down on “mostly” Europe in sharp, destructive particles in showers called the Petrifying Winds. Also, this debris field causes problems for heavier-than-air aircraft, so now dirigibles are relied upon for air transport. UJ and H are tooling around in a boat piloted by a crew loyal to Doctor Tigre-Morte. Their mission was to, in disguise, buy some nasty supernatural weapons (“demonbound” weapons) from these smugglers with cult ties. UJ was forewoman of twenty longshoremen who were there to load and unload the weapons. She and H arrived somewhere on the coast of Africa at a small village, and were met by a Spanish guy named Diego. He took H off to a saloon, and UJ got directed to a warehouse with her men. H got to meet this nasty leader guy called Atwon (full name: The Great Atwon) who offered him cheap alcohol. The saloon had a bunch of guys and a serving woman lounging in it. Atwon demanded payment, but asked for 20k instead of the agreed-on 10k. H refused to pay extra and Atwon offered to take the 10k, plus all the longshoremen to use in the unspeakable rituals involved in constructing the demonbound weapons. (He also complained about the quality of victims in the area, and how UJ and H had healthy men who’d make good sacrifices). Atwon killed poor Diego after Diego mentioned taking a cut of the 10k. He used a demonbound dagger on Diego, and the dagger drank his blood. Atwon mentioned something about how hard his business was, and H said, “Maybe you should get out of it.” Atwon offered H a position in his organization as a slave. H refused, and said, “I bet my friend has killed all your men and is heading this way.” Atwon said he’d take that bet. In the meantime, at the warehouse UJ and the longshoremen were met by an attractive, out-of-place, squeaky-voiced guy (later dubbed “the accountant”). He asked for the foreman and was surprised when UJ got pushed forward. There was this tattooed guy there who thought he recognized UJ, but UJ didn’t recognize him, and managed to convince him that he didn’t know her (out of character: he was a cultist who’d managed to escape our (meaning Jolly Rogers, the Crimson Specter and UJ) destruction of the sky fortress that contained the sky ash drug manufacturing facility in an earlier adventure. This was the game where Jolly dropped the building on CS and UJ). Tattoo Guy (TG) complained to the accountant that he and his guys hadn’t been paid, and so he sent one of his guys (called Sylvan) to the saloon to get a receipt of payment, and then we’d be allowed to take the shipment out of the warehouse. Sylvan made two trips. On the second one, Atwon told him to bring back UJ’s ear. Back at the warehouse, TG’s men started setting up the small boxes in preparation for them to be moved out. There were big boxes in the warehouse. One of them had the sound of someone sobbing inside it. UJ sidled up secretly to it and tried to look in. A finger popped out and touched her, and a voice said, “Help! They’re going to kill us!” UJ whispered, “Hang on.” TG started yelling at an underling, threatening him for poorly handling the boxes. They then grinned unsavorily at UJ and her guys. UJ went to TG and said something like, “I don’t trust you. I think you’re up to something.” He laughed and said , “Shut up, we’re in charge here, girlie,” whereupon UJ attacked and put some of his guys out of commission. Sylvan came back and failed to cut off UJ’s ear. The longshoremen found some rum and started drinking and cheering UJ on. UJ left the building in order to draw the baddies out into the street to get H’s attention (the saloon was only a few blocks away). Originally when UJ arrived at the warehouse, the street had contained people, but now the street was deserted. At the saloon someone commented, “She’s making a lot of noise for someone with no ear,” and someone looked out a window and said, “She’s coming this way!” At some point, H said the following things or thereabouts to Atwon: “I can kill you fast, or I can kill you slow,” and “I should let you run into the jungle. It’d be fun to hunt you down.” Eventually Atwon said to his men, “Seize him,” and his minions tried, but at this point H attacked. Atwon had a nasty magical spear, which was probably demonbound. He hurt H with it pretty badly. Oh yes, you weren’t supposed to touch or even really be near any of these weapons, because they would try to inspire in you homicidal rage. The longshoremen joined in on the fight, using shovels. So we got a bonus because they acted as our minions. A few of them even attacked Atwon. Eventually, Atwon found himself alone, and when he was about to die, he broke the spear, causing forces of evil or hatred or something to flow out and make UJ and H make Resolve checks (which failed). The longshoremen began burying the dead bad guys. Frightened villagers began peeking out of windows, and then an old man who turned out to be Diego Sr. approached. He asked if we’d bury his son, which the longshoremen did. He offered us food, even though the villagers didn’t have much. H said, “Oh, no, we couldn’t possibly..ooh, mangoes!” Diego Sr. said the cultists killed all the young men in the village and took all the weapons, and did their rituals out in the open. UJ freed the people in the boxes, who were women and children from other villages. They were welcomed by the villagers, but some or all of them decided to try to make it back to their own villages. The longshoremen started to fix buildings, etc. UJ and H wondered what to do about the demonbound weapons, since it was up to us. Could have dropped them in the ocean and the water would eventually destroy them because they were made of ordinary materials that had been enchanted; they were assassin weapons, meant to basically only be used once, but H was worried that doing that would adversely affect the ocean (there was mention of producing “demon fish”), so it was decided, thru H’s Contacting skill, that we would have the weapons unenchanted because there was a story of a holy man on an island somewhere who could do this. H thought the longshoremen should stay at the village to help out, which they did. UJ said we could pick the longshoremen up later. We headed off to find the island, after locating a Santeria priest named Carlos who knew where the island was. Actually, Carlos performed a ritual involving a rattle and an executed chicken and an arcane symbol drawn on the deck to find out how to get to the island. Because of that sort of thing, the crew were initially wary of Carlos. UJ tied the boxes down securely with some rope. We approached the island, due to Carlos standing on deck and pointing in various directions. There were actually two islands. One was big, and the other was small and ugly, with a volcano. Suddenly there was a big storm; UJ and H rescued a sailor who was almost washed off the ship. Carlos, who was standing on the deck, was swept away by a wave. After more Athletics rolls to avoid giant waves, the ship capsized onto the volcanic island (dubbed island “A” by H). The weapon boxes broke and the weapons were scattered on the beach, and UJ yelled to the crewmen not to touch them. The storm stopped. We went inland, following a “hidden path” and found a clearing with a graveyard filled with 25 small, extremely old and weathered crosses. What was weirder was that the graves were empty depressions. Upon leaving we got attacked by rather large poisonous spiders. They sort of almost poisoned UJ. We killed them, but further along on this trip we were attacked by more spiders; don’t remember how many times. They killed at least three of the sailors, one of whom said something like, “Tell my wife I love her,” and another said, “I love you, Jane” before dying. One of the guys who died did so in UJ’s arms as she was trying ineffectually to save him. She did save at least one guy (but possibly from a killer snake; see below). Anyway, eventually we trekked on down the path and found a lagoon with a partially sunken ship (note: some of the following stuff about the ship was adapted from a GURPS Horror adventure). It was anchored there, and only the (mossy) deck was above water. H, who had the higher Survival skill, surmised that it was salt water. He decided to jump onto the ship to check it out. UJ said to yell if he needed any help, and he told her to yell if she needed any help. There was an open window in the raised structure on the deck (structure called the poop deck, for horrible reasons), and a hatch in the middle of the deck. H entered the poop deck, which contained a galley. Below the galley was the captain’s quarters, which H eventually broke down (it was pretty hard to break open). Inside was the corpse of a guy in seventeenth-century garb. The open window mentioned above led into this room. The room also had a strongbox, which H opened. It contained some silver and a journal, both of which H took, although the journal partially crumbled in his hands. From what he could read (he’d had to fashion a torch, since no one had any sort of a light source), this had been a trading vessel called the Eliza, from the seventeenth century. It had made it into this lagoon after being forced onto the island by a storm. A foraging party was sent out but didn’t come back. They were then attacked by mysterious beings, who were later determined to be the reanimated dead foragers. Eventually, they killed everyone but the captain, who holed up in his quarters, ending his journal with the words “I am in God’s hands now.” He ended up with a huge hole in his chest. There was a “spare” room next to the captain’s room, which was empty. H also explored the gun deck. The gun deck had a hatch right below the above-deck hatch. H opened it and found a partially flooded hold with debris floating around. He decided to leave. While he was on board, UJ could hear some cussing coming from the ship as H struggled to open things and then six red-eyed snakes attacked her and the sailors. Eventually, she killed the snakes. (By the end of the game we’d lost six sailors; we were supposed to keep at least six or we wouldn’t be able to leave because UJ and H couldn’t repair the boat.) It was getting dark, so we decided to spend the night there on the beach. H took watch because he doesn’t need sleep. He didn’t notice (until it was too late) three guys come out of nowhere and attack him. They just started biting him. H killed two and UJ killed one. Right afterward one of the sailors got his heart somehow ripped out of his chest. The heart vanished upon leaving his body. They turned out to be zombies made from the three sailors who’d been killed. Next day we continued on the path, which ended at the volcano. There was a treacherous-looking path up the volcano, and at the end of that path (about midway up the volcano) was an entranceway that had columns with evil-looking statues. Not surprisingly, the sailors elected to not go on the path. H and UJ did, however (having to make Athletics rolls), and found a room, at the end of which was a hallway, which was filled with a bunch of corpses of long-dead, probably-dead-when-the-Eliza-got-to-the-island priestly-looking guys suspended by ropes. There was another entranceway at the end of this hall Through that entranceway was a room with an altar with hideous creatures carved on it, and six hearts, a few of them fresh and one of them extremely fresh, sitting on it. There was a light shining in through a hole in the ceiling, shining down onto the altar. H decided to climb the rather slippery walls to see what was through the hole (he has the Human Spider stunt).Turned out to be the sky. While he was up there an undead priest tried to pull his heart out, causing him to fall (but he didn’t get hurt because he has Safe Fall).This priest’s heart-removing ability was due to this magical mace. He also had a ritual knife that was one of those enhancement weapons (forgot the name; Rare Artifact or Gadget or something) and a cape made out of human (at least partly face) skin. A big old fight ensued. He was one bad-ass mofo who managed to cause us to use up all our Fate points. UJ set him on fire with the torch, but he eventually beat out the fire. She then proceeded to try to bash him on the head, which she managed, except he had a very durable head for a dead guy. She disarmed him of his mace and knife. She decided to do that after finding out that the knife could do that attacking-your-shadow thing that Eric Somebody the evil proto-Nazi wizard guy from way back could do. It pinned her shadow down, so she couldn’t move. Dead Priest (DP) tried to do that to H, but failed. DP waved part of his cape at us, which was so hideous we had to make Resolve rolls to avoid being paralyzed with fear. UJ succeeded, but H was paralyzed momentarily. UJ tore the cape off DP, revealing a thong-wearing, burned zombie. She continued to wail away on his head. Eventually H chopped DP’s head off, thus finishing him off. We decided to visit the other island, in the hopes of finding the holy man. He was indeed on the other island, along with Carlos, who had somehow survived and had a bowl of chicken for us. He said he could unenchant the weapons for us, which he did. He warned us to stay away from the other island, because there was evilness there. We told him we knew that already.

Remember to have fun.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , ,
Dec 012009

Hello Lodgers,

Here is another installment of SOTC. Someone tied to the previous adventure in that consequences from previous episode actions continue to haunt our heroes.  Basically, these APs become the continuing adventures of Union Jane (UJ) as she is the only protagonist to stick with the same character. She provides an interesting tie-in for the many (seriously) guest stars who would grace my game throughout its various arcs.

Two new characters: Juju Man and Death, respectively. Death (D) is a thin vampire with claws made out of solidified blood. He came from the underside/underworld of Etheropia. These eight or nine or so ghouls (Minions of a rival vampire) started following him. They wanted to kill him (because when the party splits up, call in the ninjas!).  He ended up taking refuge on the surface and found Juju Man (JJM) outside. JJM, who is a gaunt voodoo master (a “bokor”), intimidated the ghouls and they fled. While this was happening, UJ was still on the Sky’s Mistress dirigible, which was flying out of control towards Etheropia due to Petra (see last session) having vengefully fired a Pneumagun at it. A loa called Papa Legba (a real fun scene for me. Papa pulls rank and tells JJM one of his daughters needs help. This becomes a running gag through the adventure. Out of character, there was much speculation as to why UJ was a worker’s rights advocate for a voodoo spirit) appeared to JJM and Death (by this time they were in the city proper, and they saw a big shadow over the city) and told them that basically there was an out-of-control ship on its way containing a woman with a piece of paper, and they had to do something about it. UJ headed to the cockpit to try and keep the dirigible from hitting an orphanage. She managed to miss it but began heading for another building. D managed to jump onto the bottom of the cockpit, hanging on by digging his claws into the hull. He was able to open a door and come in. UJ asked if he could pilot a dirigible. He said no but that he could grab her and safely jump out of the dirigible. (He was a Human Spider and acrobatics expert.) UJ agreed with his plan. After they jumped out, the dirigible crashed into the building and caught on fire. People began jumping out of the building. Two firemen came to try to put out the fire. JJM got on top of a building, and more ghouls pursued him. UJ and D went up to help. Fighting ensued, and eventually the ghouls were no longer a problem. JJM was the first to notice that these ghostly moths had appeared on people’s shoulders and were saying to them, “Fight, fight, fear, fear” over and over. Eventually, UJ and D noticed them too. They had their own moths, as it turned out. Meanwhile, the fire in/on the dirigible and building unnerved D (he had an aversion to fire), and UJ gently dragged him away from the dirigible and told him to ignore the bug on his shoulder. JJM’s Mysteries knowledge told him that the moths were Shadow Moths and that the “Queen of Night” would be a harbinger of their appearance (ha ha, horrors from previous adventures), and that they would lead to the doom of all civilizations. UJ was able to confirm that this Queen was the Night Mother from a previous adventure. Almost everyone the party saw had the moths; some were frightened of them, and others were listening to them and going off to get weapons. The only people who had no moths were children. UJ spoke to one, and ended up being followed by a group of children, who she fortunately was able to persuade to go home. At this time the party was heading to an occult library, at the behest of JJM. This library was one of the tallest buildings in the city, except for the lab of Dr. Tigre-Morte (who was apparently staying pretty secluded in there, experimenting and not caring too much about what was going on among the populace, like a typical mad scientist). UJ’s contacts showed where to find the library, because she knew union people who had delivered furniture to such a place (teamsters are everywhere.). This attendant there wouldn’t let the party in at first, but JJM and D intimidated him into changing his mind.  (JJM’s Intimidation ability allows him to, well, among other things, unhinge his jaw and widen his ribs.) (Short pause in game while we regain control of the laughter. The store probably sold two more copies based on the laughing alone.) The party found a giant book in a dark area of the library that had a cool name: Book of the Forgotten Poets. It contained references to a pre-Atlantean people called the Poets, who could speak words that created objects. What seemed to have happened was that they created the moths, and the moths ultimately made them destroy themselves. It also said the moths would require a pool, sacrifices and servants (in order to create a hive of them). Once out of the library, on top of a tenement, JJM summoned a female entity (Erzulie, “she who would speak the secret words”) who was related to Papa Legba to ask where the moths could be found. This was the reason the party at some point needed some herbs, including what turned out to be the white flower UJ had been carrying around in a pocket since she pulled it out of the ground it was growing in in front of the gate the Nazis had activated through which the Night Mother came in an earlier adventure with the Hunter, Jolly Roger and the Crimson Specter. The summoning actually was the reason those items were needed; they were necessary for the summoning ritual. One of the other things necessary was a sacrifice, for which a pigeon would do. So D killed a pigeon. Afterwards JJM reanimated it. Then D killed the resulting zombie pigeon. JJM asked Erzulie where the problems were coming from. She pointed to the moths on the party’s shoulders. JJM clarified his question to mean their source. She indicated the House of Tenshuro. UJ knew this to be a Yakuza HQ (where else would I get my ninjas?) that union people avoided (their specialties were drugs and something else). Etheropia had two other organized crime HQs: the House of Finn (headed by an Irish guy. This wasn’t a yakuza group. They specialized in prostitution and drugs) and the House of Henzo  (who specialized in drugs and gambling). They all were having problems with the drug side of things because UJ, Jolly and the Hunter and the Musician in the previous adventure had disrupted the supply of the sky ash drug by ultimately destroying the fortress where it was being made, and causing this huge mess at the same time). The party headed to the House of Tenshuro. JJM hung back while D decided to just go up to the entrance, accompanied by UJ. D asked to come in, and a head guard type guy (there were about fifteen or so samurai out front) said he’d ask his lord. He left and didn’t come back for a long time, then told D and UJ that they couldn’t see the lord. D said something like, “I’ll have to kill you then.” The head guard guy was about to attack when UJ bashed him. In the ensuing fight, UJ rolled really well and killed a bunch of them. JJM reanimated seven of them. Afterwards, he went in with his new retinue. UJ followed, but D was temporarily delayed because he couldn’t help drinking some of all the blood. Inside JJM entered a courtyard and surprised three engineer types who were laying dynamite around a pool. JJM intimidated them; he tied up at least two of them. He took (some of) the explosives and secured them to some/all of the zombies. Oh yeah, turned out all/some of the dead samurais had living moths hiding inside them, which climbed out of their mouths upon death and flew up into an upstairs window. The party came upon this eight-foot-tall guy in a robe. He took off the robe to reveal himself to be a human(oid) with the head of a hyena (sewn on). D attacked him and got stuck to him by his claws. Hyena Guy (HG) flung D across the room. JJM used an artifact, the Ankh of Osiris. It caused a light to burn Hyena Guy, and the “Light of Osiris” to flood into the courtyard. Hyena Guy was stunned and gave a look of newfound respect to JJM. UJ bashed HG’s kneecaps so eventually he couldn’t walk and fell to his knees and burst into flames (but continued to attack). Sometime during the battle, HG summoned a giant spider, which D attacked. D pulled off two of its legs and beat it with them. It turned out that HG was a form of undead. JJM ordered some zombies to go and get blown up by the spider and HG. UJ got caught in (one of) the resulting blast(s) and took a lot of hits to her Health. JJM also somehow gave some blood to D to give him extra fighting power (D’s Weapon of Destiny was his blood–yes, his blood). Eventually the party killed HG and the spider. Oh yeah, during this fight and also the one with Goodwin (see below) the party had Resolve problems due to magic being used against them: JJM saw images from his Horrific Past (an Aspect) and UJ saw and heard her dead friend Arturo (another Aspect), which caused JJM and UJ to be temporarily distracted. The party then headed to this other pool that was about ten feet deep and had a brown gemlike object about the size of a human head at the bottom. D and JJM didn’t want to enter the water. (They were all sporting multiple consequences and full tracks.) JJM surmised that this thing was the hive. UJ swam down and brought it up. JJM determined that it was indeed the hive, but not finished. At this point, Officer Goodwin(main antagonist) arrived on the scene. His eyes were like shadows. JJM destroyed the hive and Goodwin said, “Do you know how long it took to make that?” or something. He then attacked, but with magic. He spoke words of power. He attacked the party’s Resolves. He also formed a shield of tentacles (Block with Mysteries). JJM ordered some of this zombies to shield UJ as she attacked Goodwin (Counterblock – mysteries). She faked him out with a feint (because he formed the shield only in the direction in which he was being attacked. Now, the party worked as a team and started placing aspects and free tags for the fighters), causing him to be off guard for a moment and giving him a taggable Aspect. Eventually D tore him open. He had moths inside his chest, which dissolved. He had been the deranged spirit of the last remaining Poet. At this point, the city began to crack into four pieces. D saved UJ again by catching her as she fell toward the part of the city that was starting to tumble away, because she rolled so crappy on Athletics but he rolled well. Some or all of the zombies guarding UJ, had, moments before, managed to save her from falling debris by shielding her. That was where the session ended.

Post any questions you may have in the comments. This was a while ago and our memory of it is pretty faint. I remember a lot of fun and the priceless expressions on the heroes’ faces when they realized that the big bad had just arrived and they were sucking wind on fate points. Classic terror. I believe one player summed it up like this: “We gotta take this guy down in the first exchange or we’re &%^^%$!”

One piece of critique here: SOTC makes this sort of timing very difficult but well worth it. The kind of fight it takes to wear down a full party is epic and players love that. When it’s done there will be dozens of bodies on the ground and the heroes will have no fate points left.  They leave the game drained so I usually aim this sort of thing for every third adventure. This fits my triptych adventure arc style.

My next adventure to post is a filler adventure because a player went missing: “The Hunt for Red Eliza.”  (Just kidding.)

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , ,
Nov 192009

Sorry, sorry…I know I said I’d try for one post a week. But I have a really good excuse. You see, there was this monkey, a giant space monkey. He needed a ride home and I was heading that way so I said, “What the hell. Why not?” Well, you’ve probably noticed my bandages by now, right? No? Well, never mind then. Suffice it to say the monkey and I have gone our separate ways. I got bandages and he got tetanus. (Long story.)

So, how about two quick posts this week to make up for my negligence? I knew you’d agree.

Part 3 of my Diaspora adventure. I post here  my player’s writeup.

Diaspora, Iron Spiral’s first adventure, 11/14/09  Note: My player came up with a new name, so cool.

IS (Iron Spiral) was selling lichen at some market somewhere, when the GM decided to try the social mini game. There was one other salesperson there, a woman also selling lichen. We had one customer, a man who to start with wasn’t looking at either of our stalls; he was checking out refractory materials nearby. IS decided to say to him, “Hey, what do you think of that near miss between two ships last week that almost caused a political scandal between Gemma and Demon Rock?” or something close to that, because she recognized that he was a pilot from his clothing. He said he was a pilot, but hadn’t been there. She said, “But I saw you on the news!” That caused him to say he hadn’t been there, but he had been on the news before. The other saleswoman said something like “Come get your lichen cakes while they’re hot,” which failed to grip him. IS turned out to have a fancy lichen sculpture/painting of two fleets of ships in front of a nebula. The ships were made out of iron, the rest out of variously colored and textured lichen (IS has a high Art skill). The pilot came over and admired the artwork. He said he was a Gemman pilot of a trade ship, and then he lowered his voice and said they had a goddess on board. IS asked what she was the goddess of, and he said the goddess of light and shadows, which turned out to mean that she could use a technology that could create impressive light-based phenomena. He said he’d buy all her lichen if she sold it for half off. There was a little haggling and he eventually agreed to buy the lichen at 47% off, which wasn’t really much of a deal, but what the hell. At the same time the other saleswoman had put on some weird music to try to get his attention, but gave up when she saw that he’d bought from IS. (End of social mini-game.) Oh yes, part of the 47% off deal was that IS would also get to meet the goddess. The pilot’s name was Gene-G(Gene) asked when IS would be free to meet the goddess, and IS said, “Well, since you bought all my stock, how about right now?” IS took down her stall and helped him carry the lichen to his ship, which was named the Cloudburst. The ship was very impressive. It also had gold decorations befitting a goddess. It had an odd smell coming from deeper inside. G led IS to a strange, large room which he said was called the ship “park.” This was where the smell was coming from, for it had grass and trees and a stream, all of which IS had heard about but never seen personally. Sometime while they were talking, during which G became quite animated when IS told him she was also a pilot and he started rattling on about the Cloudburst’s engines, G mentioned that the goddess had a “pet savage” who turned out to be a man from Demon Rock. This man had what G called a “thing” that G believed should be locked up because it was so dangerous, but that the goddess said would probably then break loose and kill people, so no, it got to stay free. G said he’d make an offering to the goddess of the lichen, and then IS could meet her. They headed toward the goddess’ office. IS thought she saw something metallic following them, but wasn’t sure. She mentioned this to G and he said he didn’t see anything. Then a voice said, “She’s right,” and a huge man in an antique armored vac suit with a horned helmet suddenly appeared, along with a very large granite boar. This was Deng, the “pet savage,” and his granite boar, whose name was Snaps and Drools (Snaps for short). G was extremely startled. D(Deng) said to G that the goddess wanted to see him, alone. It was about letting unauthorized people onto the ship. G hurried off to her office. D said he was the ship security officer, and asked why IS was there. She told him. He said, “Well, you’re here, so you might as well get the rest of the tour of the ship.” She petted S(Snaps) and it licked her. D said, “He thinks you taste good.” While D escorted IS, he told her that there was a vacancy on board for a secondary pilot, because the secondary pilot had gotten injured by S (he shouldn’t have tried to play with S). IS got to meet the goddess, Tu-Anon-Romten, who G had said was the least popular in her family, and that her father (also a god) had given her the Cloudburst in order to get her out of his hair. T(Tu-Anon-Romten) appeared backed by a godlike glow, and offered IS the pilot job. IS accepted. IS had a tearful farewell with her parents. Her father gave her an energy gun that had belonged to her grandfather. T also arrived and gave IS’s family gifts, which had been tribute given to her by some worshippers. IS boarded the ship. After she familiarized herself with the bridge, T appeared by hologram and gave commands. T also revealed that IS was the new captain, replacing G, who’d been demoted to secondary pilot. T ordered that they fly to Plug. It took a day to get to Demon Rock, at which one had to refuel in order to get to Plug. Actually IS took the ship to the Demon Rock refueling station, not the planet. The administrator assigned the Cloudburst one of the last to be refuelled, which pissed off T. T had D, S and IS come with her on a visit to the administrator. Inside the station, two Demon Rock guards saw them and reached for their weapons, but D made signs at them, and they saluted and stood aside. The station actually had Gemmans and Demon Rockans working there, plus I think a few visitors from Plug. T had D order S to burrow/eat through the administrator’s door. Inside was a terrified Gemman administrator. S started eating some of the furniture in the room. T and IS convinced the administrator to move the Cloudburst up to #5 in the list, out of about 180 ships. The administrator claimed he didn’t know the Cloudburst had a goddess on board. T wanted the #1 spot, but the administrator told her that was taken by the God of Heavy Weapons and Machine Guns, so T backed off. So now it wasn’t going to take weeks to get refuelled; only a few days. As they were returning to the ship, they noticed that they’d turned up on the news. D was not happy. T gave D and IS the day off and thanked them for their support. IS asked to meet D at the park, where she asked why he was unhappy about being on the news, and he said it was because he was something of a celebrity on Demon Rock because of his saving that warren from rogue granite boars and taming a wild one, which isn’t something normally done (taming a wild granite boar, that is). He said he preferred to lead a low-key life. He asked IS out to dinner on the station. Said he knew a good restaurant, which was owned by his foster mother, and he wanted IS to meet her. On the way to, and during dinner, S had taken the form of a large walking stick that D held. D explained that normal granite boars eventually decided to stop shapeshifting and settled on a preferred shape, but not S. D’s foster mom was a tall, tough blonde named Ping. She and IS liked each other. She chastised D for not writing, then they started talking about life on Demon Rock, which was better because there hadn’t been any recent granite boar attacks. IS, feeling paranoid, noticed four young vac-suited Demon Rock women at another table watching, but they seemed to be only interested in staring at D. IS commented how much she liked the view of the Hyathis nebula from Demon Rock, because at the Triskidar Belt, all you could see was the nebula’s top left tendril. P(Ping) said she’d like to visit the Triskidar Belt again because she hadn’t in a long time, and IS encouraged her because now happened to be the regular but infrequent occurrence in which the Hyathis tendril would move, as seen from the Belt. It was an altogether pleasant dinner, after which, back at the ship, IS went to bed. Okay, nothing adrenaline-pumping happened, but I had fun.

As you might have guessed, there is quite a lot of player-based story being added here. My GM style is to create realistic NPCs with goals (usually clearer stated in their aspects). Each NPC will follow their goal to its logical conclusion if the players are willing to follow that course. This allows me the flexibility to drop story threads as they become uninteresting to players. It also creates an organic “lived-in” feeling for the universe, which some players respond to. It has its complications as well. A large group (I’ve run up to twelve players at once) will immediately start splitting off to pursue their characters’ interests. This can be a challenge for a GM and all that parallel processing can bog a game down. There is also a certain player type who will take advantage of loopholes in the system, derail the adventure, or attack apparently important NPCs. These players are flummoxed by this method of driving a story. Since each NPC carries a goal he or she is trying to reach, exclusive of the players, they are quickly outnumbered and neutralized, usually, by other players.

That’s how I do it anyway.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , ,
Nov 042009

Hello again,

I’ve delayed writing a review of Spirit of the Century (SOTC)  by Evil Hat for, well, really, no good reason. I didn’t have a blog at the time I ran these. No excuse, I know. SOTC was the first FATE-based game I had purchased. Oh, I’d purchased a few FUDGE-based games, but this FATE thing was new. I thought I’d give it a fair shakedown. I even found a Meet-Up that was semi-local to me and joined a group. The GM of that group moved on after a couple of games and I took over. The Actual Play (AP) sessions I’ll be posting are a record of the games I ran with the exception of the very first one, because that is a PDF I’ll be posting for download after it is cleaned up (i.e., readable).

Mechanically, FATE takes the typical D&D player a little time to find their footing. The aspect system takes a little getting used to. In practice, I had a group of folks with mixed experience levels. So, most of the learning curve was pretty smooth overall.  SOTC has the advantage of being simple for a player to enter and exit an ongoing campaign, because all characters are at the peak of their careers. No tedious leveling up to the fun stuff.

The setting is open. It is loosely set in the 1920s and revolves around an organization of heroes who call themselves Centurions. My take on the setting carried a steampunk flavor based off my intro adventure about a dangerous cult from ancient Atlantis fronting a proto-Nazi terror cell in Brazil. The action centered around a floating city of ex-convicts, sky pirates, and cultural outcasts. But enough of that; I loved SOTC and ran it for the better part of a year for a variety of characters. I had a few regulars and a bunch of drop-ins.

Our scene opens in a popular Etheropia (flying city, currently hovering near Rio) bar on open mic night.

J = Jolly Roger, the Sky Pirate

UJ = Union Jane, Bad Ass Crowdbreaker

TM = The Musician (Guitarist/Werewolf)

MM =  Minnetonka Mike (Gun Man)

D = Darken (Stealth Expert/Living Shadow)

J, UJ, TM, MM & D were all in a bar on Etheropia.TM was performing with a guitar. UJ & J were sitting at a booth. MM was at the bar (he’s a crack shot ex-circus performer cowboy drinker type). A beautiful auburn-haired woman who looked like she was in charge of something was there. D decided to try to seduce her. MM decided to eavesdrop on the action, while ordering a drink. D detected him and surreptitiously told the bartender to give MM a lousy drink. D was so insulting in his come-ons that the woman, who’d introduced herself as Captain Petra, captain of the Sky’s Mistress (a dirigible), pulled a lightning sword on him. He took it from her. Somewhere around this time a bunch of members of the Gray Sharks (they were members of the pirate group whose flying fortress the party attacked in the last adventure. They were manufacturing a hallucinogenic drug called “sky ash”) revealed themselves to be in the bar and attacked the party. J decided to throw a brass exploding monkey in the middle of them.  UJ dove under the table and MM started shooting. TM attacked (eventually he experienced “Blood Rage,” one of his aspects, in which he became a homicidal maniac). Everyone defended themselves, basically, although D might have caused some of the opponents to back off because they thought he’d be extra-dangerous since he didn’t know how to use a sword. He ended up breaking the sword. J tried to shoot Petra and/or her minions, but D put himself between them and J, so J shot him instead. Eventually, all the Gray Sharks were killed, but Petra and her all-female minions kidnapped D. MM, who’d had some experience dealing with animals, convinced TM not to attack the rest of the party (since now that all the opponents were dead or gone, the Blood Rage compelled him to try to attack anyone who was left), and TM transformed back to normal. One of TM’s biggest fans, Luigi (and there had been fans mobbing TM in the bar before the fight started) turned out to work for the “port authority” or something, and he was able to lead the party to where the Sky’s Mistress was supposed to be moored. UJ used her influence to tell the dockworkers to delay the dirigible, since it was in the process of trying to leave. All the workers went on break. Once there, UJ also faked a document to order the dirigible to stay docked, with help from a fellow unionist. So Petra had two of her women shoot the mooring ropes. Oh, yes, while the rest of the party was concerned with trying to keep the dirigible  from leaving/getting onto it before it left, Petra had mostly stripped D and tied him up and fetched some olive oil and a cage of weasels. D was hoping to be rescued soon. TM had climbed onto one of the mooring ropes, trying to enter the dirigible. After the mooring ropes had been shot free of the dock, MM and UJ managed to jump and grab onto the flying-away ropes. MM got his own rope; UJ jumped onto the rope TM was on. MM wasn’t able to get in at first because the closest door was closed, but he shot the lock off or something, because he eventually got in. TM was able to open a door close to him and UJ, & they both climbed in. Everyone had to make Resolve rolls to not be stunned by the appearance of D, who had in the meantime managed to slip free of his bonds, grab the box of weasels & was threatening the crew members who were there (oh God). In the meantime, J somehow had found his own way into the dirigible, possibly using his jet belt, and had gone to the cargo hold, where he found mechanical stuff. All the crew members who were in the room with D (except Petra, who had withdrawn) surrendered. One said, “Please get this weasel off my leg.” Petra had gone through a door, and TM and UJ followed her. I don’t remember exactly the sequence of events hereafter, but at some point four or so semi-humanoid robots attacked MM and J. J couldn’t hurt them with his lightning guns or re-engineer them or something like that, because all the robots (except maybe for the engineer bot; see below) were steam-based. TM & UJ ended up getting attacked by wolflike robots, whom they defeated. TM and UJ got separated; I think TM went off to help MM and J. MM shot at least one of the robots in this vulnerable spot they had that looked like a green glass plate. After those robots were taken care of, J and MM went off and found the engineer who had designed all these robots, who was alone in the engine room. Oh yes, J had at some point surmised that Petra had copied some of his technology. MM intimidated the engineer into surrendering. She said she was Petra’s prisoner. He asked her to stop the dirigible. She ended up releasing more wolf robots, & shedding her human-looking skin to turn out to be a robot herself.  D put himself between J & Petra as J was preparing to shoot, and J shot him. Somehow D had confronted Petra again, and she stacked so many modifiers on him, so to speak, that she made him her willing servant. He ended up with a new aspect: “In Love with Petra.” She said she’d been looking for a second-in-command. She allowed him access to some controls which would release more robots on us, which he did. (There turned out to be a maze of tunnels in the dirigible that had allowed her to escape). UJ tried to go to where all the noise was, but she was blocked by six marines who ran in and were about to start assembling something. She talked them into telling her what they wanted to build, and into leaving the dirigible (which had by this time landed on the dock).They were going to build a self-destruct device. UJ talked them into believing she would finish making the device for them. After they left she looked into the boxes of materials and found mechanical stuff she didn’t recognize, including some stuff that glowed. She decided to toss the boxes into the ocean. In the meantime, the others were fighting the engineerbot and her wolfbots. MM managed to pin her under some of the wolfbots, and he or J shot up all but one of the wolfbots on her. UJ headed for where the others were. On her way there, she saw Petra and D in a lifeboat thing, and D was rowing it away. UJ entered the room and stabbed the engineerbot in an eye with her battle staff, thus blinding her. She was blinded for only a moment though; she pulled out a screwdriver and repaired her eyes. I think it was MM or maybe it was J or maybe it was both of them, but she ended up being damaged by one or both of them so badly that she decided to shut down. They tied her up. The remaining wolfbots were destroyed; they had been severely damaged. J and MM decided to claim the dirigible. The party searched it and found two things:  a link between Petra’s group and the Gray Sharks, and the other was a letter from Goodwin to Petra, asking her to meet him. Goodwin was a police officer who, for reasons yet unknown, killed his family in the last adventure. He’d gone missing from his job. He had been noticed lurking in a warehouse near the place where the biplane was parked that the party then used to fly to the Gray Shark fortress, but the party didn’t confront him at all.

It is clear to the casual observer that gameplay can twist and turn as players generate their own content within the GM’s setting. This adventure would have been a fight against the Gray Shark pirate clan. But, instead the players played Fate points to link Petra’s group of pirates to the Gray Sharks. Originally, I had intended Petra to provide the troops and ships for an epic battle. It still worked out that way in the end, but Petra ended up firmly on the enemy side of things. She took her pet player with her, as well. :)

Tons o’ fun.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , , ,
Oct 302009

A small break from games for something more serious. A message from the sunset world. Recently, a friend at work experienced a death in the family.  His brief and heartfelt warning and request are below.

Many of you that have seen the news, know that a little girl from Vacaville died last Sunday. She tested positive with the H1N1 virus. Well that little girl was my niece. Her name was Alexis and she was only 6 years old. There are two reasons why I am sending this message to all of you one is because many of you have kids, and you need to be very aware of this virus. Protect yourself and everyone around you. Get educated about this virus and if you or your kids are sick stay at home and do not spread this deadly virus. The second reason why I sending this message is just to inform you that my family has set up a foundation that will help cover all the services for my little niece. Alexis Clara Foundation at Wells Fargo Account # 6174118924. I would appreciate from the bottom of my heart any little donation.

Thanks, <edit>

If you can a small donation would be greatly appreciated by the family. You can always tell people you were mugged in the back alley of the internet.

Swine Flu info

Thanks for visiting. Next week I’ll be covering Spirit of the century. I ran a year or so of adventures I want to post. (Just in case there are people still on the fence about SOTC. )

Posted by Lodger Tagged with:
Oct 212009

Swashbucklers of the 7 skies
by Chad Underkoffler
ISBN: 978-0-9771534-5-9


A beautiful book. The rule book is an eclectic collection of quotes neatly wrapped by an unconventional system of rules. The setting is what I want to write about, briefly. The setting is where some players will stare agog and others will cackle and neatly fit themselves in. It is very much a strange place.

The world is a snow globe divided into different zones or “skies”. All extant land  is made up of floating islands which are governed by nations of various styles. These islands slowly travel around a column of fire which acts as a sun. The various zones act as seasons. All travel is by flying ship or giant omnivorous parrot. I’d characterize the setting as flamboyant. A good match for the swashbuckling musketeer motif.

I don’t want to do to much review here as the full scope and setting of this book must be read to be understood. I’d rather let my Actual Play set the tone.

Actual Play: Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies

The book is littered with Star Wars allusions. In keeping with this my player wanted to create a Jedi knight type character. The rule set facilitated this easily.

The ancient order of the Jodai knights sends one of its young acolytes to act as a spy and gather information on anything strange that may indicate the activities of the Dread Lords of the Seething Isles. The acolyte Ikari Mamiil, a Jodai knight of the Zultanate, sets herself up as a trader on Crail. She spends many days establishing herself and strikes up a business relationship with an innkeeper named Rum Bob. Rum Bob points out a group of Crailish sailors. He claims they have a monster story she might like. The sailors are arguing with one of their number about a strange man in red and blue who may or may not have been guiding a giant sky shark. His crewmates  insist he had been hitting the rum too hard. They are interrupted by three Ilwuzii pirates with a beef. Apparently, their ship was destroyed as they were attempting to loot the Crail vessel. Ikari succeeds in getting them seriously drunk on Rum Bob’s “special” rum. There is much bonding and it is quickly discovered that Ikari is quite wealthy and in need of a crew to find this shark. She is quickly elected captain. The two wrecked vessels are quickly looted for parts to create a small fast vessel Ikari dubs the “Shark’s Bane.”

She tells her crew that they will be hunting tree hoppers in the jungle sky for a profit. This area is also nearby where the two ships were attacked. Ikari and another crew member climb into a grove of wheel trees with the intent of flushing some tree hoppers into some quickly handcrafted sticky vine web nets using smoke from a torch and a noisemaker.

Ikari and “Little” Bob are quickly attacked by blue men who seem to be extremely irate. She uses Jodai knight mental powers (Gift of the Basilisk) to create the illusion of a giant shark behind herself. The blue men savages quickly run in terror leaving Little Bob none the wiser. The terror of the blue men flushes many tree hoppers into the nets of the Shark’s Bane.

As they attempt to leave the trees, a wandering explorer named Sir Regivald Movisu hails them from a small cloud ship skiff. He cunningly questions Ikari and Little Bob about what they are doing and where they will be going with their cargo. Ikari wonders how Sir Regivald came to be so deep in the jungle sky without a larger, better-provisioned vessel. Sir Regivald claims that he is only scouting around trying to learn more about the blue men. Ikari wishes him luck and she and Little Bob return to the Shark’s Bane. Once on board they learn of the immense load of snapping tree hoppers they have captured and Ikari orders her crew to set sail for Crail. Almost no time later, the Shark’s Bane comes upon a wreck. The vessel show signs of having been rammed by something big. A team of crew go aboard to find survivors. Ikari believes that this may be Sir Regivald’s ship. Her crew returns with a giant shark tooth and no survivors. Oddly, they also found evidence of cannon damage. Ikari decides to continue on to the Sea of Stones, but as the Shark’s Bane is moving away a massive sky shark bursts from a wheel tree grove and attacks.

The shark is immense and has a blue wood platform bristling with cannons chained to its back. Standing in blue and scarlet near the shark’s head is Sir Regivald the Seething Lord. The shark attacks the Shark’s Bane. Ikari orders her crew to load cannon and turn to fire on the shark. The first volley catches the shark in an unarmored section by a lucky shot. The shark’s return fire damages more crew than ship. Ikari orders her crew to reload and turn for another firing resolution. Ikari sacrifices some of her crew’s advantages to provide a sniper in her crow’s nest a clear shot at Sir Regivald while she concentrates her Gift of the Basilisk on breaking the Seething Lord’s hold over his mount. In an amazing display of random chance, luck favors her and Sir Regivald is shot as she simultaneously disrupted his control of the shark. The shark tears away into the jungle attempting to scrape the blue men gun crew off its back and eat them. Ikari’s search party finds no survivors but they do find Sir Regivald’s journal in a black metal box. He claims to have perfected an alchemical formula for the enlarging of wildlife. He mentions a special project for which he is raising money by using a giant shark for pirate attacks. Ikari vows to cure the shark so that the Seething Lords cannot use it for their evil plans. She warns the Jodai council that she believes that the lords of the Seething Isle are using alchemical formulae to create giant monsters to raise money for some terrible purpose. Her crew remains clueless as to her true identity. Though Little Bob has his suspicions, the rest of the crew has already caught him with more than his fair share of rum and so doesn’t listen to him. Ikari manages to trade her catch for a princely sum. The crew is more than happy to continue in her employ.

Pros: Extremely flexible system, amazing level of setting detail, clear examples of play.

Cons: No index, difficult to run as solo adventure.

Ikari Mamiil, Jodai Knight Spy

Foible: Jodai code of honor

Motivation: Honor (+2) Good

Nationality:  Colronan Zultanate (+2) Good

Past: Water harvester (+2) Good

Swashbuckling Forte: Jodai Knight (+2) Good


Gift of the Basilisk (+2) Good

Gift of the Pegasus (+2) Good

Gift of the Merhorse (+2) Good

Techniques: Idiom: Precision, Maneuver: Parry, Weapon: Saber, Vs:Lords of Seething Isle (Seeth Lords), Situation: Honor Bound

after the adventure she picked up the Ephemera: Skyship Captain (+2) Good

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , ,
Oct 122009

I’m trying for one post a week here. No promises though, this isn’t the back alley of the internet for no reason.

I wanted to post a couple of quick additions to my diaspora game. The gadgets. Diaspora includes a framework to build technologies from scratch. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s a neat technique so I’ll begin.

My players should be forewarned. Possible spoiler alert.

Meet their new employer, Tu-Anon-Romten. A Gemman aspiring to goddesshood.

Gemman culture is unique in that the disparity between the haves and have-nots is so vast that those at the top of the chain decided to play deity. They get away with this largely because at some level everyone in their culture plays along. Think of this as celebrity culture gone nuts. The gemma system is littered with ancient tech. This has allowed them to advance rapidly. However, there are pockets of technology even above the one they have achieved. These trinkets are what have empowered the “gods of gemma.” Each “pantheon” is a family or corporate structure supported at the top by an individual who controls some extremely high tech. The gods take their titles from the equipment they control. For example, the “god of military excursions” controls an armed interface vehicle (shuttle) of T3 level.

Having described the world she comes from, here is Tu-Anon-Romten, least popular daughter of the Romten pantheon.


Aspects: Gemma Godlet, Romten Pantheon, The Art of war, The Holo Orb, Work the scene, Drama’vore, Unmade Beauty, Drones’ Rights advocate, Unpopular daughter, Politically necessary to Daddy


MG-Art (Allow the use of the Holo-Orb, Art operates as psych war. Culture is never a limiting factor

Have a thing: Holo-Orb (T3)

Swap a Skill: Physical Presence – Swap Art for Charm 3 (She is an expert in holo art, dance, music, poetry few can resist her attention)

Superb: Arts

Great: Assets, Brokerage

Good: Agility, Stamina, Resolve

Decent: Energy Weapon, Brawl, Intimidate, Tactics

Average: Pilot, Aircraft, Engineer, C/T (Demon rock), Computer

The Holo-Orb – Given as a toy to his least favored daughter the patriarch of the Romten Pantheon inadvertently handed a potent weapon to Tu-Anon.  The Orb can be used to create holographic art around the user, shaping the mood and lighting of a room at the users whim. This allows Tu-Anon to use her Art to place temporary aspects at will. Something her Father has come to rely on due to his poor oratory skills. It is also a potent weapon, its holograms can have a “solidity” allowing them to attack as an energy weapon. Tu refers to these hard images as elementals.

T3 gives an energy weapon 10 build points.

Harm 2 (4bp)

Penetration 2 (2bp)

Min Range: 0 (4bp)

Max Range: 1 (-3 bp)

Dispersed fire (1 bp) (area attack)

Transfer aspect [Holographic Art] (1bp)

Undetectable (1bp)

Low recoil (free)

More later,

The Lodger

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , ,
Oct 072009

Diaspora, Hard Science-Fiction Role-Playing With FATE
by B. Murray, C. W. Marshall, T. Dyke, and B. Kerr
ISBN: 9780981171005


Hello, it’s been a long time since my last review. So, I have some catching up to do. The FATE system seems to be spawning a variety of offshoots. In terms of diversity, I see this as a good thing. These games are supported by FATE’s use of the Open Gaming License. Diaspora is one of these offshoots. Offered as a hard science game, it names Traveller specifically as one of its inspirations.

Hard science fiction means, among other things: no gravity without some form of acceleration (no magical artificial gravity), FTL is not possible without a wormhole (slipstream), and spacecraft are big cans which will never see the surface of a planet (unless they’re crashing).

The general setting is one of collapse and renewal. In the distant past, the ancestors on Earth mastered a level of technology which allowed the traversing of slipknots. This technology led them to colonize the stars and systems which were connected, and then from these colonies to locate still more systems to colonize until something happened, when the connections were broken and rearranged. Then comes a dark age period followed by a resurgence of technology and society. It is this second period that is being explored in Diaspora.

System Creation

Step One is to create a cluster of systems connected by naturally occurring slipknots. The system for this is to randomly generate 3 stats for each system in the cluster: Technology (T-4 to T4), Environment (E-4 to E4), Resources (R-4 to R4).

The number of systems is chosen by a table or group of players including the GM: roughly 6 to 12 systems. Each system is given 2 aspects based on its stats and one aspect concerning the system’s relationship with the other systems.

The random generation of these systems affects the characters as they are generated. I’ll include my group’s generated system and characters near the end as an example. My group created a set of systems that I found personally fascinating. The direction of the campaign quickly shaped itself around the combined desires of the player and GM. This approach to campaign building might cause a more traditional group some ideological problems. I encourage these groups to give this a try. I believe they will find the differences rewarding.

Character Generation

Players use a system of generation very similar to Spirit of the Century by Evil Hat. The typical mechanic is to tie characters together at generation. An interesting note is that in Diaspora the characters are indirectly affected by the random generation of the various systems.


The skill list has been tightened up and focused on the hard science genre from its SOTC background. The FATE ladder has some minor changes to it; nothing major really.


Each character has three to pick. The stunts are very different from those in SOTC. They are very roughly built around the character that will use them. As such, they have a very customized feeling which adds to the feeling of uniqueness of the characters.


Another unique development for the FATE system found in Diaspora, the mini-games, are designed to break conflict down into a mapped area in which the combatants maneuver for advantage. This mechanic could bridge between D&D4e and FATE. It provides a way to use figures and a visual aid for all types of conflict up to platoon level combat. I personally haven’t been able to use it yet but it looks really interesting. I am particularly interested in the space combat version.

The scope of the mini-game is the following:
Personal Combat
Space Combat
Social Combat
Platoon Combat

The book covers the setup, mapping, etc. required for the mini-game.

Build Tech System

The very back of the book discusses the building of various science fiction tropes using a build point system. The system allows the GM to build up various tech levels of hard science fiction equipment including a discussion of psionics and nonhuman lifeforms. Their example is a blaster staff from the base tech level required to support that type of technology to the high tech version available to a culture nearing collapse(T4).


Diaspora has been referred to as dystopian. That is certainly a possible path cluster generation could take. The actual interpretation of a system’s stats is left to the table. So, while a dystopian direction could be created it is not a requirement. I personally found the prevailing theme to be one of rebirth. As systems reach T4 (collapse level technology) the people there effectively cease to matter to the affairs of the local cluster, for a variety of possible reasons. Those that are left behind restart the process of reaching for a golden age while alternatively suppressing or destroying their neighbors. The cycle of civilization begins again.

In short, I found Diaspora to be very cool.

Example Cluster: 6 Systems
Zeb’s Folly: T0, E1, R1; Slipknots[Gemma]
Aspects: Zeb Screwed Up, Jealous of Gemma, Haunted
Description: Zeb’s Folly was founded by a settler from Gemma. Seeking a fortune in rediscovered technology, Zeb crashed on a garden planet. The settlers that followed him promptly awoke something very old which has been suppressing their population. The population has stabilized at a fixed number and any birth not accompanied by a death results in a random citizen vanishing. For this reason there are no visitors allowed on the planet and a very thorough census is kept.

Gemma: T2, E1, R-2; Slipknots[Zeb’s Folly, Triskidar Belt, Demonrock, Plug]
Aspects: Think They Are Gods, Insecure, Lucky Find(tech field)
Description: Gemma clawed its way back into its solar system only to discover that someone had already been there and vanished. Whoever it had been had left stockpiles of resources and equipment behind. Gemma became the first and only system in the cluster to have slipstream drives. They decided to try passing themselves off as gods to the lower tech peoples of the cluster with mixed success until the Triskidar Belt.

Triskidar Belt: T1, E-4, R-1; Slipknots[Gemma, Demonrock]
Aspects: Scraping To Survive, This Is What’s Left, Ruled By the Tribes
Description: The tribes are an aggressive culture completely divorced from terrestrial life. Living in massive Home ships, they have the most experienced crews and pilots and the second highest technology developed. The Belters quickly resorted to piracy of Gemma’s shipping and began trading slip drive to other systems. They embargoed their side of the slipknots and established trade posts. The Tribes of Iron, Steel, and Copper claimed the northern slipknot, and Zinc, Hematite, and Silicon claimed the southern. The remaining tribes, Tin, Granite, Zinc, and Diamond,  have to be content with either raids or trade with the two power blocs. The Belters were not amused by what Gemma did to Demonrock, and their vessels are very carefully searched upon arrival.

Demonrock: T-3, E-2, R-3; Slipknots[Triskidar Belt, Plug]
Aspects: Benighted, Hopeful, Gemma’s Hostile Failed Experiment
Description: Life exists only in the warrens deep in the planet. Gemma tested some biological technology recovered from an earlier age. The granite boars were supposed to strip a planet of its resources and then die out. All resources, even the people living there would be reduced to usable neat bundles for processing. The boars turned out to be T3 technology and beyond Gemma’s ability to deal with. Strong, intelligent (for animals), and resistant to weaponry, the boars would have wiped out human life, but the warriors of Warren A12 performed an act of bravery bordering on insanity, with spectacular results. They captured a nest of unborn young and developed techniques for indoctrinating the granite boars. Using their soldiers and breeding to domestication, they created an army called the Packs. The Packs quickly broke up the larger concentrations of boars and drove Gemma from the system. They are now allied with Triskidar Belters.

Plug: T-1, E-3, R-1; Slipknots[Demonrock, Krim]
Aspects: Cold Rock, Cold Hearts; Insular Freaks; Bought and Paid For By Gemma
Description: Before Demonrock had been liberated, the people of Plug had begun selling their system off to Gemma. The ultra-rich elites quickly sold off anyone and anything of value to reach Gemma and live there in a life of luxury unequaled even by native Gemmans. Those that remain have a profit motive and xenophobia unmatched in the cluster.

Krim: T-1, E2, R1; Slipknots[Plug]
Aspects: Deluded Non-Conservationists, About to Be Visited by Aliens, Constantly Disappointed By the Wrong Type of Aliens (i.e., Tourists)
Description: The people of Krim live in a system of garden worlds and riches. They have no concept of restraint and very little conflict. Anyone who disagrees simply moves to another world and builds a life there. Often they strip mine living worlds to gain capital for their frivolous projects. These projects are largely based around when the next aliens will arrive and give them more resources. So far, the only aliens to arrive have been the annoying Gemmans, but everyone is sure the enlightened superaliens will arrive any day. The people of Krim are mostly crazy. Government is a system of competing alien worship cults. Conflict has been avoided because of the many garden worlds and the more extreme cults’ tendency to kill themselves off to greet their alien masters.

Example Characters:
Deng of Demonrock
Phase 1
Aspects: Deng distinguishes himself in battle and becomes a Boar Master in training.
The Battle for Warren D5
Natural Born handler

Phase 2
Aspects: Deng and his pack singlehandedly drive a pack of rogue boars from Warren E2. The trainers guild recognizes him for official membership.
Boar Guild Membership
Savior of Warren E2

Phase 3
Aspects: Deng’s pack is shattered after a prolonged guerrilla war in Warren B6. Only Deng and the alpha of the rogue pack survive. Deng decides to rebuild his pack around this aggressive alpha boar. No one trusts an ex-rogue, but a Triskidar Belter caught in the battle offers him a place offworld.
Twin Combatants
Gnashes Fangs and Drools Is My Alpha

Phase 4
Aspects: Rescuing a Triskidar lichen trader has many rewards.
This Pilot is Hot!
War Is In the Heavens

Phase 5
Aspects: Deng met a crazed Gemman. She needs security on her ship. She pays well, but everyone has to call her “Goddess.”
Dealing in Delusion
Well Paid

Superb: Animal Handler
Great: Alertness,Intimidation
Good: Agility, Stamina, Slugthrower
Decent: Stealth, Survival, Tactics, Assets
Average: Brokerage, Resolve, Culture Tech(Gemma), Charm, MicroG

Military Grade: Animal Handler–Handle animals at a subconscious level. Get them to perform feats outside their normal ability
Have a Thing: Engineered Lifeform (T3): Granite Boar–Basically a tool allowing Animal Handling to make attacks
Swap a Skill: Beast Lord–Swap tactics for Animal Handling

Health [] [] [] [] []
Composure [] [] [] [] []
Wealth [] [] [] []

Iron Tiger of the Triskidar Belt
Phase 1
Aspects: Tiger is a member of the Iron tribe. She longs for freedom from her home ship.
Iron Tribe
Cramped By the Home Ship

Phase 2
Aspects: Tiger is assigned to harvest lichens from asteroid farms. This is not good for her social skills.
Harvesting Lichen By Pre-Programmed Seasons
Hopeful, Yet Boring

Phase 3
Aspects: Brought to Demonrock to trade rare lichens for stolen goods, Tiger is caught up in a vicious granite boar attack and barely survives.
Peddling My Lichen
Why Is It My Turn?

Phase 4
Aspects: Assisting the extremely fit Deng come to terms with the loss of his pack. She suggests he train the rogue boar.
Cat and Mouse

Phase 5
Aspects: Tiger met a crazed Gemman. She needs a pilot on her ship. She pays well, but everyone has to call her “Goddess.”
Saving For a Ship of My Own
Gemmans Are Weird

Superb: Pilot
Great: Art (Lichen Cooking), Navigation
Good: Repair, MicroG, Energy Weapon
Decent: Computer, Culture Tech(Gemma), Alertness, Aircraft
Average: Engineering, EVA, Agility, Medical, Science

Military Grade: Piloting
Have a Thing: Robotic PDA (T3)–Mobile communications equipment
Swap a Skill: War Pilot–Swap Communications for Piloting

Health [] [] []
Composure [] [] []
Wealth [] [] []

Note: The diaspora people are offering a free die set for a posted AP. Those who are interested should do so. I did. But, quantities are limited so no dawdling.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , , ,