Squallings of Ghostman

Games, drumming, juggling, home improvements, cooking, comics, dogs, macs, music, etc.

Squall - probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skval: useless chatter (Merriam-Webster)
It's my goal to have the LONGEST blog pages around. Kind of.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Savage Worlds - Deadlands

Trying to catch up on my monthly game postings. I've got quite a lot going on, but I am trying to get 'back on the wagon' blog posting-wise.

My monthly game that I run (I use meetup.com and play at Guardian Games in Portland, OR) and I realized that I had never run Deadlands; Pinnacle's flagship setting. Other GM's had run the setting for this meetup but not myself. My meetup is big enough that I have 2 games available - me and another 'guest' GM.

I upped the standard pre-gens from Pinnacle to 10 XP and added another 2 characters for options. Two of my players had created their own characters. They both made Hucksters: typical. I had 6 players, and once all of the players selected their character, we were ready to start.


The Posse is contacted by the local chapter of "The Agency" to meet at their earliest availability to a local post office for their orders. As independents to the Agency, they are called in to help, but don't have complete obligations. It's not likely they'll refuse the work, however; it is the plot hook.

The Agency's representative fills them in on the goings on. Things are tough down south. Fact is, cowpoke, wagon's ain't been comin' back when they go through the southern Colorado route. Seems likely something is out there that needs takin' care of. Submit a requisition if'n you want some extra equipment, and get goin'... Fast!

Colorado Springs

The trip down was decided to be by train, with the horses being transported with them on a livestock car. I take advantage and do an interlude to get the players one more benny, I think they're going to need it. They also plan a little bit about what to do when they get into town.

The train pulls in and the group starts their plan immediately, if somewhat discordantly. One group talks to the local lawman, and another group goes about finding a wagon figgurin' they'd make them selves out as bait for whatever nasty is out there wreckin' wagons and whatnot.

Questioning the law doesn't get too much, just a rough direction and distance out of town where the latest attack took place.

The Posse finds a waterin' hole to tongue waggle with the locals, but few are talkin' to the strangers. The swinging doors are shoved in loudly and a tall, gaunt man enters the saloon and glances about. He spots the various members of the Posse and approaches one bellied up to the bar, evil in his eyes. He steps up, shouldering the cowpoke in the process. Drinks spill, insults are thrown, cusses called, and the next thing you know, the poor sod from the bar is in the street facin' off with Tall and Gaunt. The town is gathering for the showdown, with interest in their eyes.

Time ticks away, leather is slapped, and lead starts flyin'. Our Posse member is victorious with two quick shots and the man is down, bleeding in the streets. The tension increases as the sky goes dark when a thunderclap and a flash of lightning takes everyone's attention to the sky. When the Posse looks back down, the body of Tall and Gaunt is gone.

Back in the saloon, plans start flyin'; use a wagon for a decoy, search the plains, question some more town folk, wait for another attack to happen, and investigate further on Tall and Gaunt.

The following day, two members go out in the search for a decoy / bait wagon. Several other go pokin' around askin' about the gunman from yesterday. Everyone refers to him as 'The Tax Man'. They have seen him shot down before, and he always comes back. The men he shoots and kills, however, don't come back. When he comes back, he collects a nickel or a penny from everyone in town. No one knows why, and no one bothers to try to stop him.

After some more confirmed stories about the Tax Man, the Posse meets on the edge of town. They mount up, and with the acquired wagon, they head towards the location the Sheriff told them about earlier.

Out on the plains

Traveling for about an hour and the Posse comes across the remains of a wagon. There are no people, bodies or evidence of people left. But hey, Pardner, there are some footprints leading further east, maybe to that there tall mess of rocks. Inspecting the tracks, the Posse counts no less than a dozen separate sets of footprints. And something else, Hoss. Tracks that look like someone, or several someones, was dragged away. Again, probably to the butte in the distance.

Riding towards the rocky hill, the tracks are obvious and easy to follow, it seems impossible that no one else has found this evidence. As the hill gets closer, a cave is spotted. The tracks obviously are going to the cave opening. The cave is closer, and the sun is setting. Torches are lit, bullets are loaded, and preparations made.

The Cave

The cave is dark, damp, and smelly. Smells like rotting bodies, Hoss. Too bad cowboys aren't quiet, maybe they would have surprised them there beasties. Walkin' corpses, it seems, but all different shapes. Good thing the Posse don't scare easily as they manage to work their way through killing the dead. Again.

A few Gaki hear the Posse invading their cave.

More Gaki attacking
Hey there, Cuz, there is another fork in the cave. There might be more troublin' bad news, and guess what? there is. Large creatures made from hundreds of bones with lots of appendages. fighting them is like fighting water, bones break off, and the thing just reforms. Finally, one of the Posse notices a pitch black skull in the middle amid the bony creatures.After a few shots, this black skull is what finally kills the things.

Gaki's are Bone Fiends best friends!
Some time searching results in very little in recovered items, the Posse determines that the Gaki's brought the bodies back here, and the Bone Fiends took advantage of the skeletons. The wagon's goods were likely looted by nearby scuff laws. Another mystery solved, Pardner.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Savage Worlds - Firefly using High Space - Finale!

Wrapping up my short campaign. This posting is a LOT late!

For the introduction, read this posting and read the sessions 2 and 3 and session 4. I am using the High Space rule set and we're playing in the FireFly 'Verse.

After the last session, the characters were still on the planet, and we used that time to refresh memories and to tie up a few loose ends. They have a captured fighter and 4 crates of the drug for Badger. The also found documentation on the project which explains that Blue Sun is behind the manufacture and research of this drug as another attempt to subdue the populace. The drug isn't real close to being ready, but the data is ripe for blasting over the Coretex. After a few preparations, the crew gather into The Golden Ducat and launch into the black.

Orbiting Ship
Immediately upon breaking atmo, the ship is hailed. The orbiting ship around the planet that they avoided on approach is actively looking for them. They are requested to stand down and wait for the authorities who are on their way. Fortunately for the crew, the hailing ship is mostly derelict, it can maintain orbit but not much else. It is of little threat. The crew makes some nasty comments and flies off. Their destination is currently unknown as they don't think that Persephone is the best place for them right now, so they send out some messages to Badger to arrange for an alternate meeting place. Leng manages to hack into the Alliance communications network to monitor activity that might directly include The Golden Ducat or crew.

Ship Interception
Badger responds with a message that if they want paid, they need to drop off the product on Persephone, as arranged. He can help them out with some of the details of landing while wanted, but it will cost them some of their profit. Leng thinks he can create a new ship ID; it should last long enough to land and go.
Sensors and scanners identify two ships approaching for interception. There is also an incoming message informing the crew to surrender and prepare for boarding. The message is coming from a small transport which is escorted by an Alliance cruiser. The cruiser sits with its weapons at the ready.

Comms are still alive with repeated orders to stand down and allow for boarding. Various crew members notice that the ship is not responding as it should, and the AI starts complaining about rude behavior from another ship. Leng starts a security scan and finds that a hidden encrypted channel is being utilized. He traces it and determines that the small transport has linked to the ship systems somehow. Further investigation reveals that this is a hidden channel in the Coretex feed. Saul realizes that it is a private Blue Sun channel, and that the transport and 'The Duck' are both outfitted with the decryption device to access the channel. 'The Duck' appears to be a Blue Sun ship, with an easily accessible channel from the other ship. Leng figures that goes both ways and starts a counter-hack. A few perilous moments pass, and Leng manages to route the other ship into a collision course with the cruiser. Taking advantage of a short time window of confusion, 'The Duck' manages to get away.

Communications to Badger get through, but Badger refuses to meet The Duck anywhere but Persephone. He does set up an alternate landing ID for the ship. This allows them on planet to finish the deal. Badger is quite pleased with the crates of drug, and pays handsomely.

After the deal is done, the crew still has knowledge that they want to spread throughout the 'verse. They decide to use the Duck's communication system with the channel that has military level access to the Coretex. However, they don't want the signal to be traced to them easily, so they look for a public transmission point. They find a public cafe with Coretex terminals that they can use. They hack in to a terminal and route The Duck's communication through it. They set up a looping message to report the information about Blue Sun, the drug program, and who really runs the Alliance government. Outside, a loudspeaker calls for the crew to surrender.

Final Fight!
The cafe empties quickly. All of the civilians who leave are arrested, identified, and put in vehicles. The crew had prepared for this eventuality and prepare the guns they brought. A firefight ensues with the crew trying to get out of the area, taking out several Alliance soldiers. A second wave of soldiers make a perimeter and several pairs of men in lab coats approach. Two by Two, Hands of Blue. The lab coats advance with no weapons in their hands, but with their hands reaching out. Each crew member of The Duck experience a tapping sensation in their heads, as if someone is knocking on their brain. Each crew member fights an invisible attacker, attacking their mind. Miraculously, they all manage to keep the attacks at bay. Under heavy stress, the guns are turned on the lab coated men and fired upon. As the lab coats drop, the mind attacks stop, and the Alliance soldiers resume their attacks on the crew. As the gunfight continues, Steady accesses the ship remotely and gets it to retrieve them. The ship hovers just above the ground as the crew boards for their getaway. Heading for the black, Badger's false ship ID keeps any interception and tracking difficult. An hour later, they seem to be in the clear, but monitoring news channels have conflicting stories about the Alliance, Blue Sun and The Duck.

Wrap up...
Well, that's the end of my little tribute to Firefly and Serenity. The players seemed to enjoy it. In retrospect, I think I may have over emphasized the use of the hacker character and I got a little heavy handed with some plot points.  Additionally, the last fight was a complete off-the-cuff creation at the spur of the moment. My plan was that the men in blue had Telekinetic powers, and they were essentially using the 'Puppet' power on the crew. They were at a negative to cast it since they are all fairly new to the power, the crew all managed to make the Spirit check vs. the casting. 

Additionally, sorry this took me so long to post. New job, less time, blah, blah, blah.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Savage Worlds - Firefly using High Space 4

Researching a little known planet on the rim...  What could go wrong?

For the introduction, read this posting and read the sessions 2 and 3. I am using the High Space rule set and playing in the FireFly 'Verse.

The crew begins play 12 clicks away from the facility that is suspected ofs producing a new drug. They also suspect that the Alliance will use this new drug to pacify the masses, similar to the Miranda project. Wary of more giant beetles, the crew waits until just after sunset before making their way carefully towards the facility.

A few clicks away from the site, they stop to see what they can see. In a tree and using a sniper rifle scope, Eliot sees the compound with a cleared area around it and also spots some security drones. With the first obstacle identified, they plan their approach.

First, Leng and Steady hack into the security drones and shut off all the visual and audio sensors, but leave them flying to keep away suspicions if anyone is watching them. Next, they manage to hack into the compound's network and through the security cameras, learn the layout of the facility. The crew approaches the locked gate, dispatches the security and the lock, and open it quietly. They spread out to take positions throughout the compound:
  • Lock heads straight to the packaging facility to check out any product that is ready to leave.
  • Skeeter and Saul go to the slave quarters to start the rescue / extraction.
  • Leng makes his way to the Surface-to-Air missile station.
  • Bulldog and Elliot scout out the barracks and take up position to prepare for anyone leaving the building.
  • Steady goes to the fighter ship on the launchpad.
Taking up position for when it hits the fan.
The crew isn't as quiet as they could be, but there is little response. They first person to meet resistance is Steady. As he approaches the ship, a door opens and someone fires at him, barely missing him. The two exchange fire, and the rest of the compound is alerted.
Two pilots start their slap fight over a fighter ship.
Skeeter and Saul starts waking the enslaved colonists and get them grouped for an orderly escape. Leng gets into the SAM building and starts working on the security to take it over and / or disable it. While he's in there, he notices a door that he thinks leads to an underground bunker. It has a more complex lock than any of the others here. Meanwhile, there is activity in the barracks; Bulldog and Elliot prepare for action.
Skeeter and Saul are gathering the slave laborers for an escape.
The battle for the ship is a struggle for both pilots, but Steady wounds the enemy badly. The enemy locks himself in the ship and initiates its launch.  Steady works open the hatch and fires on the pilot, missing badly. The pilot rushes Steady with a bar swinging wildly. Steady and the pilot struggle, with Steady finally knocking out the pilot, yelling victoriously at the unconscious form.
The owner of the ship is heavily wounded.
Two facility workers emerge from the barracks wearing nothing but boxers and protective vests, one from each door. Bulldog snipes off the head of one and Elliot drags the other one out, killing him with a knife. Everyone in the barracks are preparing for action, including the General. The knock out windows and start shooting at the crew invading their facility.
Compound "Employees" barricaded in their barracks, shooting at our heroes.
The firefight escalates. Elliot and Lock try to escape in the two trucks with crates in one of them. The General comes out of the barracks building with a machine gun and shoots the trucks up. Bad. Elliot and Lock hide behind the inoperable trucks. Leng opens the gate on the opposite side of the compound sounding an alarm in his haste. The enslaved colonists make it out of gate while Elliot, Lock, and Bulldog fire on the defenders. Bulldog gets out-flanked and goes down. Elliot shoots, and the General with the big machine gun goes down. A few rounds later, there is a cease fire and the compound offers a surrender. The General and the pilot are not dead, but two of the other  are. The crew awaits for their mule to get there (they sent out messages to the two colonists standing at the ready by the mule) and Steady flies off to get 'The Golden Ducat' using the fighter he commandeered.

While waiting, the crew decides to get some answers to the unending list of questions they've got. They learn the site is not Alliance run, but Alliance protected. The site is getting direct orders from the Blue Sun corporation. The locked bunker is opened and there is incriminating documents contained within. The General is not scared of the Alliance, but is visibly concerned about what Blue Sun is going to do when they learn of this incident. To this end, the ship in orbit has already tried to make contact, getting some very terse and vague answers from Steady.

When the ship and mule both get to the facility, the crew loads up some more crates and all of the colonists. Their first stop will be the colony to return the colonists.

Wrap up
That wraps up this session. Our heroes have definitely put themselves on a radar or three. And they know a little more than they did before. Although, they aren't sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Savage Worlds - Firefly using High Space 2 & 3

Wow, am I behind on my posts.. I'll combine the last 2 games in this play session posting.

Into the black in a ship with no name...  What could go wrong?

For the introduction, read this posting. I am using the High Space rule set and playing in the FireFly 'Verse.

As mentioned previously, the ship is unknown to the crew. I provided them with a blank ship sheet (well, they knew the size of the ship, a displacement of d8) and they filled it out as they made their escape through an active space battle between the Alliance and Reavers. Not only did the crew have to navigate safely through a battle scene, they were discovering the capabilities of the ship they just stole.

As the action unfolds, the ship attempts a direct course to get out of the battle area ASAP. The plan is to go FTL when they get to the appropriate distance away from the planet. The space station they just escaped from was orbiting around the planet. In game terms, the ship should be able to hit FTL in 10 combat rounds. In that time, they managed to attract the attention of 2 Reaver ships, one of which they destroyed, and ignore comm requests from the Alliance. Alliance fighters were dispatched to "escort" them back to the space station, but a confusing round of cross fire had the Alliance fighters exchanging fire with Reavers, instead.This confusion led to our heroes' escape.

Finally in FTL space, the crew has found out several things about the ship during their plight in the battle:
  • It's got a leftover AI that seems much like a Jewish Mother. The ship is very concerned for their well being, diet and relationship problems.
  • The ship makes disturbing mechanical noises that are untraceable.
  • Although some weapons are equipped, the ship is built more for speed and stealth.
  • The ship has no ship's log, records, name or signage.
The programmer builds a record for the ship and gets it into the Cortex records. The crew votes in a Captain (the Mechanic) and then finally name the ship: The Golden Ducat, aka 'Duck'. More records are created for the ship and uploaded for record keeping and a general attempt is made to be mostly legal in order to be able to land anywhere slightly civilized. Speaking of which, the next decision is where to go and what to do.

The plot so far is that the truth about the Reavers has been revealed through the Cortex vid channels (ala the Serenity movie) and it has yet to really sink in to the public for any sort of outcry. However, there is the major Reaver / Alliance battle that has been hushed across the 'Verse, and the crew of the 'Duck' witnessed it first hand. This is just one more coverup by the Alliance that the crew might want to reveal. In the meantime, Saul has shared his information about a new drug that the Alliance is testing / manufacturing that is supposed to be similar in quite a few respects to the failed Miranda drug. Many of the crew decide that if they can do something to blacken the eye of the Alliance, then it might be worth doing. Problem is, they know nothing about where this production facility is or really what they can do about it. First things first, the crew needs money and that means a job. Persephone is their decided destination. As an added incentive, one of the characters has Badger as a contact, so this might actually work out.

On Persephone, the crew do some talkin' and dealin' but get right on getting to and talking with Badger. To start off the meetin', the crew shows Badger some of what they found in a hidden hold of the ship. Weapons, though small arms to be sure, but at least they didn't come hat in hand, so to speak... He says they can work out a sale for some pocket money. It helps to get the ball rolling for the second part of the conversation: finding a job. Badger says he's got something a might dicey, and so far no one has taken up the offer. He can provide them fuel and supplies if they do a job for him. The payment terms are left a might vague as far as the return goes, but he's willing to fund them. For now. He tells them of a braggart that came through a while back talkin' about a great new drug that was sure to hit the Core sometime soon. The fella says that folks will be linin' up for it as it's got a great high. Unfortunately, the info was limited and Badger finds it hard to believe. After some time researching, Badger has managed to figure out a location; a planet that some of Skeeter's people, Native American Indians, colonized a few decades ago, that is far out on the rim and who want to be left alone.  Badger thinks that he traced the bragging fella to the same planet, although to or from, he doesn't rightly know. But he's willing to gamble on the crew to find out. The job is simple. Bring back some product, and he'll pay 'em for it. The more, the better, and the sooner, the better. He wants to be the only supplier for as long as he can.

The crew talks over the deal and accepts it. Saul thinks the job and the Alliance drug might be connected or even one and the same. Time isn't wasted as the crew prepares The Duck for flyin' and tries to launch before anyone really takes notice of her. Fortunately, they launch with no questions from the docks. Maybe Badger had something to do with that, too. To the Black they go.

Ever paranoid, the crew decides on a route that will take them to an agriculture planet close by the planet they are heading to, to try and throw off any scent or suspicion. I decided on Whitefall as their destination. The crew spends a day for some information gathering. Skeeter cultivates some information from the well-experienced of the town, while others find gamblin', drinkin' and fightin'. The crew ends up with some idea of folks who come here looking for supplies, always buyin', and never sellin'. And they're a heap a trouble, too, causing folks all kinds of issue. Fortunately, they only show up once a month or so. The local waterin' hole is still cleaning up from their last visit from a few days ago.

Tanned, rested and ready, back into the black they go. They approach the colony world (I called it Terra Ariel - and yes, for you who are in the know, I am using that adventure). They completely avoid the orbiting ship and land near the colonists. They spend a few hours talking with the colonists (mostly Skeeter, as these are his people and some are distant relatives) about what they may know. The colonists are reclusive and avoid any contact; the fact that they have Skeeter on the crew is the only reason their presence is tolerated. They don't gather much information other than that occasionally folks come up missing. They suspect the Others, but any scouting party sent out have never returned. They've never been attacked or confronted; there have been no dealings with the Others at all, except that they both know the existence of each other. The crew voice their intentions of investigation and two young warriors volunteer to help.

The planet is void of any mammals; all of the local fauna is insect-based, and everything has a red hue to it. The Warrior guides help the crew get to within a few miles of the Others' compound, where they decide to stash the Mule and continue on foot. The Warriors are wary, being unfamiliar with this territory. The ground is soft and spongy in spots, leading to one of the crew, Lock, the engineer, falling through the ground and into a giant underground tunnel. A few seconds later, a loud chit-chit-chit sound  appears to be approaching the crew. In the dim light, Lock sees a giant bug rushing at him, apparently to get what looks to be a tasty meal for it. Lock pulls his laser pistol and fires at the approaching bug, causing no damage to its hard shell. Bulldog, Steady and Eliot jump in to help. After a few shots and a twisting attack, the bug is still going strong. The electroblade that was pulled from the weapons stash is most effective as Bulldog nearly cuts it in two with one swing. Just in time, too, as another bug is approaching from the opposite direction. The crew has time to set up a concentrated attack, and that bug is dispatched fairly quickly. They climb out of the tunnel and are able to rest for a bit.

That's where we ended the session; next session will be in the compound...

Monday, April 14, 2014

GameStorm 16

What a Great GameStorm16!
 (Except I suck because I didn't take a single friggin' picture all weekend long.)
Last year I took on a volunteer role at the yearly convention as the Assistant to the RPG coordinator. Which means I do some grunt work for my RPG Coordinator, Ron. I got this role because last year I wanted to organize a Savage Saturday Night.

This year was the 2nd Annual Savage Saturday Night and a new event was added: Fateful Friday Night. Both of these events were successful.  Savage Saturday Night was a full house with 7 games and at least 5 players at each table. Local game store, Guardian Games gave us Dice to hand out! We also had some gift certificates from Pinnacle as prizes. With the dice and certificates, each table had 4 things to give out.

Fateful Friday Night had 4 games with 5-6+ players per game, and the Dresden Files game had over a dozen people signed up for it. Next year we hope to have more Fate GMs for the event in order to accommodate the demand. Local game store, Guardian Games gave us gift certificates to hand out! We also had some gift certificates from Evil Hat as prizes, too.

It's hard to say what my number one highlight of GS16 was, but I must say that it was having a game that I am co-developing in the GameLab. This game has been around for a few decades; it's a card game with a WWII army man theme. It was developed by myself and my friend Ash when we were teens.

We had quite a few play testers from ages 8 to 68 and we got some really good feedback. Now we need to come up with a solid card design and find an artist who wants to draw army men and toy images, so we can publish this bad boy. 

Ash did a great job getting interest in the game and running the demo events. His idea of surrounding the signup sheet with army men got us 10 play tester signups in 5 minutes!

I am going to start a new page and more postings about this in the future, so stay tuned if you're interested.

Shane Hensley and John Goff
This was going to be my highlight until I decided to put Bellum in the Game Lab. 

I was looking forward to this event for over 6 months, ever since I heard that Shane Hensley was going to be our RPG Guest of Honor. And a month or two before this year's GameStorm, we were able to add John Goff to the Con. 

Shane and John both ran several games throughout the weekend and I was privileged to play in a John Goff Deadlands Noir game. I also got to play in two games with Shane as a player, but not in a game where he GMd - I had some time conflicts and choices had to be made. For some photo documentation, here is Shane's Photo record of his trip to the Con. Needless to say, I got Shane to sign my Savage Worlds Deluxe hardback and John Goff to sign my Deadlands Noir hardback.

Then John did something pretty cool. There were a few of us who were part of the Deadlands Noir Kickstarter, and John had all of us sign his copy of the book.

One more item of interest, shortly after GameStorm was over, I received a Private Message on the Pinnacle forums from a guy who was introduced to Savage Worlds at GameStorm. And his first ever game was with Shane as the GM. I thought that that was pretty cool.

Thanks Shane and John for making my GameStorm awesome!
Masters Game
This was a brain child of Ron, the RPG coordinator. Since we all run games on Savage Saturday Night, the idea was to get all the GMs in a game together. This was an off-the-books-by-invite-only secret game. John Goff hadn't arrived yet, but we did have everyone else. Ron ran the game for us. It was a sci-fi themed game that turned a little silly, but was enjoyable.

Low Life
I ran a one-shot of Andy Hopp's Low Life setting for Savage Worlds, twice, once on Friday and once on Sunday.

Both games went well with a lot of character calamity, disgusting references, and good times. This game is great fun to GM; I really have to flex my creative side.

Since the adventure takes place in a six-story building called the "Museum of Random Stuff", I had to come up with exhibits on the fly. I should have had a list of them prepared. My favorites were the Poo Room, the Hall of Smelves, and the Stretchy Pants exhibit.

Agents of Oblivion
My Savage Saturday Night game, as per tradition, was an Agents of Oblivion game.

Each year I use the same agents, but increase their level. Next year they'll have achieved the rank of Seasoned.

This game was an adventure called 'Clear Water' written by Michael Ysker. The agents need to investigate a Mid-Western water bottling plant. The supposition is that an enemy agency, Pandora, is involved in something dastardly at the plant. I won't give away too much of the ending, but it does end up with some aquatic tentacled goodness at the end.