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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Savage Worlds - Dracula

This month's game landed squarely on Halloween and I opted to run a game instead of finding something else to do.  It was also our first time at Guardian Games.  They are in a new location and I love the new store, so I had to try gaming there.  I got a big, private room to play in, but their hours are shorter than our other venue, so some time management came into effect.

My friend and co-GM Brian (AKA HawaiianBrian on various Savage Worlds forums) wrote up an adventure based on the classic story of Dracula. The PCs were Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker (Jonathan Harker's wife), Abraham van Helsing, Dr. Jack Seward, Sir Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris.

If you are familiar with the classic story, the game starts before Mina is enthralled by Dracula, but the second act is during the time when she is starting to be influenced by the vampire.

Throughout the adventure, there are journal entries that are used to set up the next scene.  I thought this was a great way to introduce the next scene - some of which are weeks apart.  I took it a step further and had the player read the journal entries for their character. The players enjoyed that, too.

Before I detail out the game, I will highlight the best part of the night: right before the scene where the characters approach Lucy's tomb, there was quite a in-character discussion (yes, role playing!) about whether or not there are such things as vampires and about Dracula, his three brides and, potentially, Lucy.  This may have cut into our time, but I would not have had it any other way; the players enjoyed the in-character debate.

Act I
The first act is after the death of the group's friend, Lucy.  Van Helsing is trying to prove to the rest of the group of the existence of vampires, and most of the group is skeptical.  The plan is to go into the crypt at night and if her body is in the coffin, then Van Helsing will have to find another way to prove his claims.  If, however, the body is not there, that is some proof to his story.  As it turns out, the group shows up in the daytime and obviously the body is there.  They wait around until dark, and the body rises out of its grave.  A battle ensues with the characters fighting a vampire and the vampire attempting to get away.

The casket is open; Lucy walks!

The burst template shows the influence of a cross being used against the vampire.

The party all gangs up on Lucy to pin her to the ground and ultimately stake her.
Act II
This act is primarily a search and destroy mission.  Dracula has brought large crates of dirt from Transylvania and the characters decide to consecrate the earth so that Dracula does not have a refuge in England.  They find all but one box.  Due to time, I had to really speed this act up, but the flavor was still there.

The last act is to follow Dracula to his castle in Transylvania and, hopefully, destroy the creature.  There are several scenes in here that include a chase scene (wolves chasing the carriage) and some gypsy protectors who attempt to prevent the heroes from gaining entrance to the castle.  Once they are in the castle, the characters search for the Nosferatu, and encountering either his three brides, or himself.  Hopefully not all at the same time.  As it turns out, the party managed to get into the castle during the day, surprising the three wives, but their screams and deaths alert Dracula.  The final battle was fairly fast as Savage Worlds exploding damage dice sometimes shortcuts drama to an exciting quick end.

Final showdown in the brides' chamber with Dracula
Thanks for reading and watch for another posting chronicling my games.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Savage Worlds: High Space

Late posting.. I ran the game on September 26th, and it has taken me this long to post.  Sorry.

This game is in the setting of High Space, by Storyweaver Games.  I ran the "Blind Threat" scenario that can likely be free if you work it right. (Look at the site.) I paid the $3 and ran a enjoyable game for everyone.

The Setting
The PDF purchase from is $15 and the Core Rules is quite the set.  You get the Character Analects, the Fleet Manual and The Lantern.

Character Analects is the setting book we all expect for a Savage Worlds setting with Races, Edges, Hindrances, Skills, and unique setting qualities.

Some unique things about this setting are Culture, Career, Equilibrium, and Gear purchasing.

First, Culture.  Items like Aristocrat, Militant, Beyonder and more.  These give your character a background of how he grew up in the universe; they also give you some skills.  I hadn't mentioned it yet, but in character creation you only get 13 skill points, where typically 15 are used, and Culture gives you the missing skill points.

Careers are current or very recent job paths the character has had. This gives you access to benefits that are usually equipment beyond a Novice's grasp.

Gear purchasing is done based by rank, not credits or money.  Acquisition rank is used for getting and keeping equipment.  If characters are found with equipment beyond their rank, they have a hard time keeping it.

Equilibrium is a new attribute that is specific to life in space: cryo travel, space maneuvering, bionic implants, and encountering alien species.  It seems to be a lot like Sanity in a horror game, because you roll checks whenever you encounter something to keep from flipping out.  Unlike a Sanity check, Equilibrium doesn't reduce, it is only effective for the current scene.

Fleet Manual
This is the ship building manual to make ships.  They are built like typical Savage Worlds characters: the ships have Manuever, Computing, FTL (Faster Than Light), Displacement, and Quality.  There are also derived stats of Pace and Toughness.  Ships can have hindrances and edges, too.  Building out a ship was really fun.  There is a lot to play with.

There is an option to play a ship as a character which I tried setting up.  I built an AI which was the ship's computer.  I am not sure if I did it correctly...  No one played that character anyway, so we didn't get to play test it.

The Lantern
The Universe.  This guide describes races, planets, corporations, organizations, and political entities.  This is your sandbox.  And a plot point campaign outline.  All the plot points are sold separately, it seems, something I just figured out.  The Lantern also has a plot hook generator and a lot of tools to create your own adventures in High Space.

The Game
First off, characters were chosen.  I built a typical crew of a space ship and used some alien races and even androids.  I also built an AI character to be the ship. One good thing about Storyweaver, they built Hero Lab files, and since I am a heavy user of Hero Lab, this was very welcome.  Turns out there needs to be some fixing of the files, but I got the unofficial updates from my buddy who works at Lone Wolf for the Savage Worlds piece.  I was then able to make characters for the game.

The adventure was planned to split the party: they go off into space to make a deal and when the deal is done, the crew left behind on the planet have a short window of time to get the goods the deal was made for.  Both of the deals used an extended diplomatic mechanic using the dramatic tasks method.  Alternately, the adventure wrote in some pre-negotiation bits that impact the rolls for the dramatic task.

After each of these, there was an incident to introduce some combat, including ship battles.  The players opted out of the ship battle in an interesting way.  They had done such a good job negotiating that they managed an extra bit.  They used this bit to pay off the 'Pirate' in space to avoid combat.  The incident on planet side wasn't so friendly; they were attacked outright.  The party defended themselves quite adequately. With a big ass gun.

The next scene was implementing the plan, to put a security scrambler on a network of a corporate plant.  The scrambler replicates a signal and destroys the communication network of the corporation.  With the job finished, the party launches to space for their getaway.  One of the corporate ships is nearby and intercepts the ship.  The battle is engaged.  After a few rounds, the players manage to destroy the other ship and make good on their escape.

Overall Impression
I like the rules, with the exception of Equilibrium.  I might house rule it out as I don't think it really adds much.  Cyberware, AIs and aliens are well done, although I haven't really dove in as deep as I could.  I love the ship building and the rules for the ships; I think that was really well done.  The Sandbox setting is very detailed and should be very useful.  I don't like that each plot point is a new PDF to buy, and they aren't all available yet.  Hopefully when they are all done, you can get them bundled.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Savage Worlds: Low Life

Low Life - "A Hello to Arms"

My game takes place once a month on the last Thursday.  I've been running this monthly session for about a year now, introducing new players to Savage Worlds and experienced gamers to new and different settings.  This month we take a look at the setting Low Life from Andy Hopp at Mutha Oith Creations.  I ran the freely available "A Hello to Arms" one-sheet.

Warning: There be spoilers ahead.

Thoughts, opinions and squall (could be seen as a review of the setting):

Handy Tip: Low Life has its own language; Oith is Earth, hoomanrace is human race, etc.  Open your mind when reading this or anything else about Low Life

Low Life is a post-post-post-apocalyptic setting that takes place in the far away future, like one or two million years from now.  There were several happenings that cleared the Oith of the hoomanrace.

This game is funny.  To some people.  I originally thought it was over the top and I wasn't too sure I was ready to play a game highly influenced on bathroom humor.  The group I played with this session embraced the setting and really took it to the comedic level it needed to be.  After the game, my opinion is that this setting is very playable, but you have to have the right group.  I personally know of two gamers who won't touch this setting with a 10-yort pole. (Yort is the unit of measurement in Oith.)

You might typically call the group of PCs, the party, the group, or the adventurers.  In Low Life, they are known as the Heap. Characters are generally not "nice" folks.  Savage Worlds in general doesn't have an alignment structure, but Low Life tends to push the characters to the miscreant side of the spectrum.  Everyone is out for themselves.  Not necessarily evil, but definitely not Nice or Good. Near the end of the game, there was definitely a heavy smell of "everyone out for themselves", all running to escape while leaving one of their number alone with two big ass baddies.


Hoomans have long been dead. Other lifeforms have evolved over millions of years: Werms (descended from Worms), Croaches (Cockroaches), Cremefillions (Snack cakes i.e. Twinkies or Ding Dongs), Bodul (very, very, very loosely hooman based), Tizin't (odd mixtures, tisn't anything), and Piles (sentient waste product).  At some point there was the ripping open of the planet which opened up Middle Oith which caused the Horcs and Smelves to appear.  Also, through the years, aliens had landed on Oith and these evolved into Oofos.


Magic is tweaked to fit the setting.  Typical magic is Hokus-Poking. Mental Magic or Psionics is Dementalism. Miracles is Holy Rolling. Weird Science is simply Weirdness. Conjuration magic is called Contamination. Potion magic is Smellcasting and the "potions" are called reeks.

Stuff (Gear)

Gear is appropriate to the setting with the expected humorous twists.  What makes this setting unique (and I've seen a lot of Savage Worlds settings!) is the weapon creation system.  You can customize weapons to absurd proportions and make some pretty fun stuff. Some of the stock custom weapons in the book are Ginormous Scissors, Battle Tongs and a Big Ass Cleaver.  When I made a character, I took advantage of the Cremefillian racial ability which is that they can ignore strength requirements for weapons.  I created a sling that did d12+d12 damage.  Yeah, I regretted it a little when a player decided to play that character I created.  But, with a shooting of d4, it wasn't too bad.

One question I had surfaced when I started reading information on the weapons.  All of them seem to be based on the original Savage Worlds rules.  In the first version of Savage Worlds, all weapons were Strength+X where X was the size of the weapon.  A Longsword, for example, would be a +2 weapon.  The current (Deluxe) rules size the weapon with a die type - which also is the minimum strength required to use the weapon.  Now the Longsword is a d6 weapon.  For this longsword, the old system would be strength +2, and the new version would be strength +d6.  The major difference is that two dice are rolled the new way.  The Low Life based weapons look like the older system.  I am not sure if this is an oversight (as Andy may have the original rules and used that as a base...) or if it was a designer decision.  Either way, it doesn't matter too much; the weapon creation is pretty fun.

Everything is priced in clams, the Low Life currency.

The Game

The one-sheet came with four characters. I decided to have a character creation session where four more characters were created. I had 6 players and 8 pre-gens.  This was the Heap that was used.

Player name: Character name - Race - Description.
In order around the table starting on my left:

Kevin: Googene Umberford XII - Croach - Googene is secretly not a criminal, but an actor (a ham in Low Life terms) researching a criminal role.
Ben: Smellvyn - Pile - Wields a mighty self-returning cleaver.
Abby: Captain Cupquake - Cremefillian - Prostitute with a french accent. Part of a Stanist cult that reveres clams above all else.
Sarah: Dayvid - Croach - A Macgyver / repair guy with some fighting skillz.
Brian: Chunky - Tizn't - 1/3rd Chicken, 1/3rd Monkey, 1/3rd Marshmallow - all bluster!  Two headed Hocus Poker.
John: Swovvy  Zinkleman - Oofo - Dementalist, and the coooooolest guy on Oith.


I printed out a page of paper minis that I had gotten from Andy for the game and offered them up to the group - Only two characters used paper minis - the Cremefillion and the Pile.  I also went through all my plastic and metal miniatures and picked some odd ones out; here are my choices.

All the main baddies, from back left to right: Odre and the Primordeal Goon (multiples). Front: Horc guard.
Oofos and other weirdos.

The overall concept of this adventure is to go steal some Hocus-Poked arms, complete with hands and elbows.  The Heap is affiliated with an organized crime group, and the Boss happens to be (literally) armless.  This is actually fairly common in Low Life; it's a hindrance to the setting. The magic hocus-poked arms are part of a roving exhibit at the local museum.  The hook is that they want to steal these arms and use them to ingratiate themselves to the Boss, Dregzie the Schnoz.

The Heap starts out in a bar where they overhear some oldsters talking about the arms in the museum. After some discussion of how they might go about getting these limbs, the Heap decides to split into two groups: one to scout the museum and one to hit the streets for some information.

Museum Team (Googene, Chunky, and Swovvy):
5 clams to get in, and they spend a few hours there walking around trying not to look too suspicious. Eventually they make it to the special display on the 6th floor where the arms are on display.  They get into the room and search around, looking for security devices and measures.  There is an obvious security door and grate at the entrance to the room.  In the interior of the room, the scouts see some suspended reeks on the ceiling.  Satisfied with the information they have gathered, they decide to leave the museum.  On the way out, Chunky gets a tshirt with 2 neck holes to accommodate his two heads.

Street Team (Smellvyn, Captain Cupquake, Dayvid):
This team starts sniffing around the outside of the museum looking for anyone who might have some information about the museum or the arms exhibit.  The Captain decides to see if she can make some money and get some information at the same time.  She approaches some guards on break and seduces two of them into a "date".

The Heap gets back together and shares information.  Dayvid crafts some fake arms.  Plans are flying around like mosquitoes, with ideas about how to sneak the fake arms in, do the switch and make their escape.  There is even talk of just giving the fake arms to the Boss and selling the stolen arms for their own profit.  See? not a very "nice" set of characters...

The next scene is the "date" with the two guards and the cremefillian, Captain Cupquake.  I keep it vague but wanted to reward a good plan, even if it is pretty edgy as a prostitution scene.  I decide to abstract it using the dramatic task rules. On the final turn, Captain Cupquake gets a Queen of Clubs - signifying a complication. I offer a benny if she can decide / invent her own complication and she comes up with that she ran out of cream filling. I decide to require a vigor roll to overcome this complication, and a success with two raises is rolled.  The date ends well for Captain Cupquake, and the next is the pillow talk phase to get information about the museum security and the arms exhibit.  More information is learned, including the password to get into the room where the arms are kept.  At this point, the guards have lost their usefulness and it was decided that they would kill the guards afterwards.

The secret phrase 'Tippytoes' is yelled out from CC; Smellvyn and Dayvid come in to help finish them off.  One of them almost gets away. They think of a few ways to try to clean the scene, and decide that the best solution is the Croaches in the group will eat the bodies to destroy the evidence, saving the uniforms for later, of course.

The Werm Guard / john is shaken while the other guard /john runs away.
Night approaches and the Heap again decides on a two-pronged attack.  One team (Dayvid and Chunky) will climb the outside of the building and attempt to get into the museum through a window.  The other team (Googene, Smellvyn, Captain Cupquake and Swovvy) use the guards' uniforms from earlier and stage a ruse to get into the museum.

Infiltration Team:  Climbing up the building, they both fail at the third floor; losing their grip, they fall back to the ground.  Chunky takes minimal damage while Dayvid takes 3 wounds.  One soak roll later, they climb the building again, stopping this time at the second floor. Attempting a smooth break-in, Chunky manages to smash the window, though loudly.  But at least it's open.

Meanwhile, Team Ruse is talking to the exterior guards and telling them of something they overheard earlier detailing a plan to break into the museum and steal the arms.  Swovvy and Googene are dressed in the guards' uniforms while CC and Smellvyn are in fake handcuffs.  The head guard is called in to review the situation.  Several rolls with raises later, the head guard (a Horc) is convinced he needs to see this security flaw.  He calls all the other guards and everyone climbs the stairs all the way up to the 6th floor to the room with the arms in it.

Back to Infiltration Team; they enter the museum through their broken window, hearing guard kazoos being blown.  Once they figure out that it is not because of them, they use the distraction to go up to the 6th floor, arriving before Team Ruse.  After shouting the password they learned earlier from the guards: "Open the goosin' door", the door opens and a huge creature (an Odre) is seen standing in the room.  He doesn't attack them right away (they knew the password, after all); he just watches them.  Swovvy grabs the arms.  The Odre now does his job of keeping the arms in the room. He attacks Chunky and Swovvy.

At this time, the other group, along with the head guard and 12 other guards, make it up to the 6th floor.  A move is made, and the three members of the Heap attacking the guards, while Dayvid rushes to the exhibit room.

At the top of the stairs everyone is following the head guard.  Dayvid rushes in.
Dayvid has the arms and is making his break going through the mass of Werm and Croach guards.
Dayvid grabs the arms from Swovvy and makes his escape, running onto another part of the 6th floor.  Meanwhile, the head guard is taken down; the Heap manages to get out of the museum with the stolen limbs, with Chunky and Captain Cupquake suffering a few wounds each.

There is undoubtedly more to the story, but time caught up with us and we had to kill the session there, a successful, if bloody, heist.


The game was a great time.  We had two players completely brand new to RPGs and they brought enthusiasm and imagination to the game rarely seen by even experienced gamers.  The players all made the night funny and creative, and I find myself thinking this is one of the better games I've ever run.

Is Low Life for you and your group?  Maybe.  If you've got open minds, an acceptance of some rude humor and events, and some pretty wild imaginations, this game can be a lot of fun.

A few years back, I met game designer Mike Pondsmith (Teenagers From Outer Space and Cyberpunk).  I had him sign my TFOS books, and we chatted about how a funny game is difficult to run. This game was very successful because the players took control of the situation, made it happen, and made it work.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Savage Supers

Ultimate Agenda - from Daring Entertainment

Every month I run a Savage Worlds game at Red Castle Games, and I've been running requested settings.  This month I ran a Superhero setting, using Savage Worlds core rules, the Super Powers Companion, and a one-shot adventure from Daring Entertainment called Ultimate Agenda in their Hellbrood setting.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures.  I used flat paper miniatures (borrowed from a friend, Brian) from Steve Jackson Games - an old product; I'm not sure if you can buy them anymore.  Enough preamble, on with the game report!

Warning: spoilers ahead.  If you haven't played this scenario, you will learn some things about it.

This genre was requested from several players and there was enough interest that a few players made characters.  I chose to use the Hellbrood setting due to some personal interaction with the folks over at Daring, and I thought I'd give it a shot.  These game sessions are not only for my players to learn Savage Worlds, but when I can learn a setting to see what its all about, then that's great and a win-win.

Hellbrood is a setting with not only superheroes but also alien races: Atlanteans (from under Earth's seas), Martians (from Mars), Lunarians (from the Moon), and the Necroleans - a race dedicated to eradicating all other life forms in the Universe.  The Necroleans use a biotechnology to enslave other races, forcing them to become mindless servants.  Zombies, really.  Really?  Zombies in a superhero game?  Yeah, it went there.  I wasn't too keen on the mixing of the two, but it worked out okay.  I am not sure I'd want to run a full-on campaign in this setting, but a few one-offs would be fine.  That's just me being honest.  I just am not too impressed when a setting is called 'new' because it mixes two or more genres.  And I am guilty of it, too; I think it's cool to dimension portal Orcs into a modern setting, give 'em guns and let them rip society a new one.  I am not a huge fan of zombies in gaming in general. You might think that's the cat's meow, and if it is, this setting would be awesome for you! Aaaaanyway, back to the setting features.  They tweak the humans to give them more power points instead of a free edge (really, you're getting the PowerPoints edge) and other races get other racial bits.  We all played humans, so I really didn't delve into the other races too deeply, but on a cursory reading, they looked pretty well thought out.  One new item they add is the Power Stunts.  Spend a special Heroic benny and you can gain powerpoints to either increase an existing power or temporarily gain a completely different power.  It lasts until the end of the round or 2 rounds with a raise.  I won't give away the mechanic due to copyright issues, but essentially a Spirit roll is involved.  And Fastball is detailed out - a really strong hero can throw another hero to give the thrown hero an attack bonus.  It also adds a reputation derived stat.  One more item: GM Bennies.  These are unlimited to the GM, but when one is used, it is given to the player it most affects. I liked this because I typically use my GM bennies pretty freely to save my baddies' bacon, but this made me stop and think a little before I soaked the roll.  I can also declare it a Heroic Benny and use the Power Stunt for a bad guy, then a hero gets that Heroic Benny.

I think that is enough on the setting and my opinion on it. Let's get on with it.

With the pre-gens from the scenario and custom made characters, we were ready and set to go.  We started with the preamble of the Hellbrood setting a little, and the past 2-3 months of activity about where the heroes are now.

The party finds themselves on patrol in the Alphabet district in New York City late in the night.  A few mundane encounters while on Patrol:
  • They run across and thwart a mugging: one would be two gangbangers are attempting to steal food two women found scavenging.  The heroes intercede and get the women home safely.
  • Several Hellbrood (zombies, essentially) have gained entrance to a home and are attacking a father and his little girl.  Turns out the little girl opened the door to try to get her kitty back inside.
At this point I decide to push the game into the main plot and skip the next encounter.  The main plot starts with the murder of a man, who had been missing for a few days.  He'd left because he and his wife had been arguing.  After questioning everyone in the building, the characters find out that something fast and green killed the man and ran off into a nearby alley.  Searching the scene reveals very little except for some metallic flakes in the wounds on the dead body.

They search around and follow some tracks.  Rounding a corner, they see a huge lizard attacking another man in the street.  The man drops and the lizard spies the characters and runs.  Before they can reach him, he slips down a manhole into the sewers.  The heroes follows the lizard into the sewers and gives chase.

As the chase goes deeper into the sewers, the lizard jumps and sticks to the ceiling.  In the distance there are figures in the darkness, a half dozen or so humanoids shuffling along the sewer tunnel.  The figures turn around: they are faceless with red glowing eyes.  There are two humans with faces, but with a silvery surface on their skin. The silvery skinned humans are both carrying an unconscious person and continue on their path.  The red glowing eyes of the others grow brighter and they raise their hands, which start to glow blue immediately.  Bolts of energy shoot at the characters from the robots hands.  The lizard creature joins the heroes in a fight with the robots.  After the robots are defeated, the silvery humans are left to deal with.  The Lizardman speaks and introduces himself as Dr. Varanus.  He speaks slowly, as if it is difficult, and informs the heroes of the growing concern he has of a hidden laboratory he's located in the sewers.

The heroes follow Varanus to this underground laboratory.  Here's where the meat of the plot is, and I won't give it away, but suffice it to say, this is a really big fight.  So big, that NPC superheroes show up and each player ends up running their own character and another NPC superhero.  This took quite a long time to play out, even in Savage Worlds.

The night ended a little later than planned and on a pretty high note.  The group definitely had a good time.  I always enjoy running games and, sure, I made a few mistakes here and there but the end result was a good time and a good game.

Next month is Low Life from Andy Hopp!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Savage Worlds Gambling tweak

Sure, the gambling rules in Savage Worlds work, and they work pretty well, but there isn't an elimination factor except for actually tracking money, and when you run out, you're out.  I set out to abstractly simulate a Texas Hold 'em style elimination tournament, and I think these rules would work for most any poker game, and maybe even other gambling types. I haven't really run its paces for other games like blackjack or Pai Gow.  I had a specific scenario I wanted to play out; the gambling rules didn't quite cut it.  These rules are  inspired by the chase rules and the dramatic task rules and with the use of the cards.  I had posted this on the Pinnacle forums at one point, but I've made some changes since then.


I used this in a game where only one PC had gambling or was interested in gambling, and I had set up a situation where he was in a game to attain a particular item.  Using the idea of players running NPCs, I created some other NPC gamblers and had all the players gambling, but with NPCs - and extras at that.  I merely facilitated and everyone got to play.  This was a huge success because in a lot of roleplaying situations, only one character cares about gambling (typically, maybe you'll have a cheating duo), and if he wants to ply his trade, everyone else is bored, or the GM has him make a few rolls for the night of gambling, and everyone moves on.  Every player gets in on the fun.  The gambling character was trying to win a specific item by winning the tournament.  What was interesting was the fact that all the players wanted the PC to win, but played their NPC true to form rather than manipulating them to let the PC win.

On to the rules, already, jeez!!


  • Each round simulates a few hands of poker, not a specific number of hands or even time period.
  • Each round is resolved with a SINGLE card, determined like Savage Worlds initiative rules.  Except for the Joker - see below.  If you are holding the Ace of Spades, you know you are going to win. The point of getting additional cards is to get more chances to win.
  • When a Joker is dealt out, it is immediately revealed and 2 cards replace it.  It does not give the gambler any bonuses to rolls.  It also causes a reshuffle of the deck.
  • Obtain more cards by rolling gambling checks and vs. rolls with Persuasion and / or Intimidation.  If no one opts to roll against you for Persuasion and / or Intimidation, the Target Number (TN) is 4.
  • Clubs are complications; if you do not win, you are out. If you are knocked out, the player who won that round gets your chips. This simulates an ‘all in’ move.
Anything in italics are my comments, views and / or opinions based on playing this out a few times.

Detailed Breakdown:

First off, deal everyone playing a card.  Players should look at it, but keep it hidden. This card is critical... If you have a high card like an Ace or a King, you may not want to cheat.
  • Decide if you're going to cheat or not cheat; this is open knowledge to the players. This is Out Of Character Knowledge; players may not react to it.  Using two colors of hidden stones may be a good idea - one red and one green, everyone puts one in their hand - red indicates cheating - and reveals at the same time.  This may reduce the "ah, hell, if everyone else is cheating, I might as well" behavior.
  • Each player rolls on the gambling skill.  A success and each raise earns another card.  If you roll a 1 on your skill die and you are cheating, you are caught.  Best situation is that you will be kicked out of the game forfeiting all monies; worst situation, well, we'll leave that up to your GM.
  • Persuade and / or Intimidate. One character (per skill) can choose to use their people skills to gain an advantage.  Initiate either one of these skills with a roll at -2 (everyone expects some table talk.) Roll the intended skill; then anyone can choose to counter you with an opposed check. If you hit with a raise (4 over the highest other player), you get another card; no additional cards are dealt for extra raises. Or if no one chooses to counter you and you get a standard success (TN 4), you get a card. A maximum of 2 additional cards (1 for persuasion, 1 for intimidate) can be dealt out per round. If a character doesn’t have the skills to counter the roll, then Persuasion is countered with Smarts -2, and Intimidation uses Spirit -2. This simulates Table Talk, Chip Stacks, Lucky Hands, etc.
  • Reveal cards.  Highest card wins. Ties are broken in reverse alpha order (SHDC). Ace of Spades is the highest card, 2 of Clubs is the lowest. Winner receives a chip.  Clubs are complications; if you do not win, you are eliminated. When you are knocked out, the player who knocks you out gets your chips. This simulates an ‘all in’ move.

Additional card rules:

  • Jokers are immediately shown face up; that player gets 2 additional cards: 1 as a bonus, 1 to replace the Joker.
  • Play a predetermined number of rounds or number of chips. The most chips after the number of rounds, or the first to a number of chips, will show the winner. (5 rounds or 3 chips is my suggestion.) If it is an elimination tournament, play until one player is left with chips after a minimum number of rounds (again, 5 is recommended). This could mean that if at the end of 5 rounds of an elimination tournament, one player has 5 chips, he would win. Or if only two players had chips, and one chances with a high club, the other player eliminates them and wins the tournament. Players with no chips can be assumed to have been eliminated through standard chip erosion. 
You can use the standard SW gambling payout using this system, although it's a little cumbersome for that. First have everyone agree on the stakes, depending on your monetary system, you could use as the "win", $10, 6 gold coins, 40 credits, etc. The lowest card pays the highest card the difference times the stake. The next lowest pays the second highest the difference times the stake, and so on. If there’s an odd man left in the middle, he breaks even. This simulates a per-hand case.


Bob and Lucy are gambling PCs in a tournament; the GM has either specific opponents (could be extras or wild cards) or generic ones. Depending on the situation, the other gamblers could just be straight up d6 average people, or each one could have customized gambling, Persuasion and / or Intimidation skills. I would recommend not giving an NPC both Persuasion and Intimidation. The game is going to be a 3 round minimum elimination tournament. The NPCs in play are Chuck and Penny, both with a Gambling of d8, Chuck with Intimidation of d6 and Penny with Persuasion at d8. Bob has Gambling at d10 with Intimidation at d6, and Lucy Gambling at d4 and Persuasion at d6 (+4 for both attractive edges).

Example of play:

Deal cards:
Bob Red Joker Lucy 10S Chuck 4D Penny 8H - Bob immediately shows the Joker and he gets 2 replacement cards: 10C and 2C.
Bob has received only club cards, so he's going to cheat. Lucy is not going to chance it. Chuck has a low card, so he's going to cheat. Penny also decides to cheat.
Gambling rolls:
Bob (+2 for cheating) rolls a 4 and a 3 on his wild die, with a +2, so 6 is his best result. This earns him one more card - 5D. Lucy rolls a 6 and a 10 with both her skill and wild die acing. The 10 earns her 2 cards; 7S and 4C.Chuck (+2 for cheating) rolls a 5, plus two is 7, earning one card: KC. Penny (+2 for cheating) rolls a 2, for a total of 4 which earns one card, an AH.
Persuasion / Intimidation phase:
Bob still doesn't like his cards, and decides to Intimidate (-2 for initiating it) and rolls a best result of a 0. Lucy doesn't roll. Chuck rolls a 3. Penny doesn't roll. Because of Bob's total of 0, and Chuck's roll of 3, no one earns a card for Intimidation because there is no 4 or greater difference.
Lucy decides to Talk Up the table with Persuasion (-2 for initiating) and gets a best result of 6. Bob doesn't roll. Chuck doesn't roll. Penny decides to try to outsmart Lucy and rolls a 15! This earns Penny a card for Persuasion: 3D.
Card Choices
Bob decides the 10C isn't good enough to win and a Club would eliminate him, so he opts to show the 5D. Lucy 10S. Chuck thinks the KC is good enough to win, so he takes a chance with it. Penny shows the AH.
Bob goes on to the next round. Lucy also goes on to the next round. Chuck is eliminated due to the King of Clubs; he made a tough choice and is out. Penny wins the round and a chip.

This abstractly shows several hands of poker where at the end of the round of gambling, Penny is obviously doing well, Chuck played poorly (and was out pretty early in the night), whereas Bob and Lucy are playing competently holding their own.

Hellfrost mini-campaign

Hellfrost Mini-Campaign - To Karad Kahn

More reports from my monthly game at Red Castle Games.  After a few one-shots, I decided to start a mini-campaign for the HellFrost setting from Triple Ace Games.

Inspiration / Rune Magic

What inspired me originally was when I was looking through the Player's Guide when I first got the Hellfrost books.  I was reading, to learn and plan some possible character concepts, when I ran across Rune Magic.  I had already planned to make an Elementalist and when re-reading the magic section, I took another look at Rune Magic.  I decided that to make a Magic User who relied purely on Rune Magic would spin into advancement tedium as each Rune requires its own skill to advance.

Additionally, each Rune only provides 3 specific spells, and some of them (Boost/Lower Trait) are very limited to the Rune type.  So I tucked that into the back of my mind and focused instead on my Elementalist for our pending game.  Afterwards, I would look at Rune Magic, Frost Dwarves and explore some more ideas.

Eventually, I went back to read up the Rune Magic again. I thought it would be pretty neat to make a party of all Frost Dwarves, each with their own Rune to cast magic. (If you pair the Rune with your Profession, you get a boon to your skill set with some points put into the magic of the Rune.)  I made 8 Dwarves, each with a unique Rune that was coupled with his skill set.  For example, I gave the leader the Communication Rune, the archer the Arrow Rune, the Thief the Stealth Rune, Fighters got the Cut Rune and the Battle Runes, etc.  I did 2 non-Rune Magic users: a Skald (Hellfrost's Bard) and a Cleric.  Even though there was a Healing Rune, I wanted a full Cleric.

Now that I had a party, I needed them to do something. I started reading the Gazetteer about Dwarves and their cities and found an interesting snippet: The capital city of Karad Kahn has not been heard from since before the "Ice Rise" (515 years or so) - the event that ended the Blizzard War.  Also during the Blizzard War, another city, Karad Dahn, was found collapsed, with all the population under it.  To this day, there are a few hundred Dwarves posted there to keep out any would-be looters.  I figured that the party may be doing some of their own looting, calling it artifact retrieval or something, and one of my party found an interesting item: a book, the journal of the ruler of Karad Dahn from 500 years ago. Reading this journal, the Dwarf thinks that whatever happened here 500 years ago might have happened to Karad Kahn.  He gathers a few of his stout friends and travels to Karad Zor to do some research and maybe get some support for reclaiming Karad Kahn.

The Campaign

Starting off with 10XP Frost Dwarves, I got them on the road, into a traveling adventure, one that took them a little out of their way, but earned them some XP.  It was 'The Vermin Lord' adventure for which I had a beautifully hand drawn map (made by my own partner Meran niCuill). I had short-cut a bunch of adventure hooks and basically threw them into the adventure with rat swarms and a local food shortage.  They were hooked in the middle of the written adventure by a dead messenger whose message they felt responsible for delivery. This led them to a town overrun with rats and then into an abandoned temple there.  Inside, were two major bad guys, the Rat King and Gautrek, the Pestilence Lord. Walking into an ambush, they fought valiantly to overcome the odds. Gautrek ended up escaping.

With that experience under their belts, [XP!] the Frost Dwarves made Seasoned rank. A few random encounters later, they found themselves at Karad Zor, the Dwarven city located halfway from Karad Dahn to Karad Kahn.  Here they took advantage of the library, researched items from the journal, and read up on several Hellfrost beasts, hoping to gain an advantage in any fight they might have against these forces that the journal hinted at.  Other notes in the journal led them to believe that Karad Kahn and Karad Dahn were attacked in a similar manner - from underground.

As things were made clearer, the ground started shaking and a hole opened up with a massive Bore Worm breaching through the library of Karad Zor.  The heroes sprang into action, attempting to stop the initial force.  This was a pretty major battle which, again, the Dwarves managed to overcome.  After the battle, a few scouts were sent into the tunnels, only to return with news of an advancing underground army of Worms.  They had little time to prepare for a siege, but with some good ideas for planning, the battle began.

I used the Savage Worlds Mass Combat rules for this. The population of the Dwarven City was greatly outnumbered, but they had the home turf advantage.  I actually ran the rules incorrectly, but the outcome ended up with both armies being decimated, with the Dwarves managing to survive the slaughter, leaving mostly women and children in Karad Zor.  In the aftermath, because most Dwarves lived in Karad Zor, we calculated that this attack killed about 50% of the Dwarves on the continent, a very heavy price. A supplemental army was recalled from abroad, so the players chose to press the attack to try to retake Karad Kahn. I gave them a choice to go with another mass battle or to go a different route - attempt to get into Karad Kahn using the army as a distraction to face the Paladin of Thurm and the mighty Hellfrost Dragon that had taken over Karad Kahn.  They opted to go into the single combat with the Paladin and the Dragon.  With a few extras in there, the battle was actually pretty short, with the Dwarves taking minor damage, one incapacitated and a few wounds all around.


I originally planned the Dwarves to continue to Karad Kahn in an overland route, but since this was a monthly game, I had already spent 6 months getting to Karad Zor, and felt it was time to move on. I moved the battle to Karad Zor instead.  There would have been a lot of interesting in-game persuasion to get Karad Zor to put up an army to make a siege of Karad Kahn, and the overland travel would have been mostly short cut since a traveling army wouldn't really run into any random encounters.  I really wanted to end the campaign, but not just stop it cold with no ending.  After all is said and done, I am happy with the results.

Some observations on running a monthly game at a game store:

  • I get a lot of player variety. I get folks who only show up for one session to learn the system, some are curious about the big map I have laying on the table, and some repeats showing up almost every month.  A campaign doesn't fit this model as I am continually re-capping the previous sessions to players who have zero background in the plot.

  • Due to time constraints on players and having new players, I have to extend my adventures.  Adventures that I think will wrap up in one night, typically take two.  This is usually because of new players and generally the pace of the game is a slower than when playing with a set of knowledgeable  players.

  • On the plus side, I think I have introduced quite a few people to the Savage Worlds system and I know that several people have bought the rulebook and maybe a Companion or two.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Breaking Murphy

As I've been running a monthly game of Savage Worlds at a local game store for almost a year now, I think it's time to start posting some play reports, reviews, thoughts, and pictures from these sessions.  I'll start the wrong way and begin with the last one, and work my way backwards.  At least until I find a reasonable stopping point. Or I get bored, which is more likely.

This month we visited Wellstone City, a modern urban crime setting from Silver Gryphon Games.  Wellstone City is an island in the state of Louisiana, with a long, rich history.  But right now, it's full of crime.  Three major organizations, several smaller organizations, street gangs, SWAT, and police make for a rich environment in which to play.  SGG has quite a few adventures ready-to-run for a reasonable price.  RPGNow seems to have a better selection right now for their Wellstone City adventures for sale.  I ran "Breaking Murphy".  It's a bank heist of the Murphy Savings and Loan.  I also had on hand a printed map of the bank from Fabled Environments.  This I got printed in large format at a local copy shop for $9.  RPGNow has a Breaking Murphy bundle with the adventure and the map.  Okay, enough talk of product and sales; on to the game!

Some more preamble: I love crime fiction.  Pulp Fiction, Sin City, Leverage, White Collar and more.  Thieves' World (a 70s fantasy short story collection, my long time love) fits in pretty well, too.  I don't necessarily want to run a game of bad guys being bad guys, but bad guys taking out badder guys for a good reason is different.  Or a bad guy trying to be good, but it's just not in the cards for him, so he's constantly in trouble or struggling against a boss or something.  I don't really have a vision for a perfect game, but I do have a vision for good games.  This game, "Breaking Murphy",  really struck true for a good time, and it keeps everyone on their feet and thinking.

To restate, the adventure is a bank heist of a bank called Murphy Savings and Loan.  It's a pretty straight set-up; a call comes in and the characters have a day to plan a heist.  There's some hand waving about how this heist has been hinted at, so the characters have done some preliminary research, but not enough for "go" time.  Now it IS "go" time, and the characters need to have the contents of a safe deposit box in under 24 hours.  The adventure is written to make the call to the characters early in the morning, and the heist happens that day, usually in the afternoon. So, I botched that; the players figured out that they could go when the bank opens (or rather, before) and get the goods before it got busy.  That was their plan.

Now, a bank heist is done in the movies quite a bit, and there are always the random elements of heroes, a pregnant lady, a parade or other events that mess up the best of plans.  "Breaking Murphy" uses a random event generator that has 52 events that can happen.  This, of course, uses a deck of cards to determine which events occur.  The adventure has 4 card pulls to toss a jumble of shit at the players.  I actually had 4 sets of 4 events each; we randomly picked one before the game started.

Meet the Players / Characters

Paul Green, Cracker - Played by Brian (Code name John Kennedy)
Marcus Wellington, Sniper - Played by Kevin (Code name Billy Clinton)
Nick Sparks, Demolitions - Played by Andy (Code name George Washington)
Ivan Gormanski, Enforcer - Played by Aaron (Code name Teddy Roosevelt)
Petrov Gormanski, Enforcer - Played by Chris (Code name Dick Nixon)
Greg "Buzz" Danzer, Wheelman - Played by GM as an NPC (Code name George Bush)
The code names were used instead of their real names. Duh.

Planning and Scouting

The group started with a planning phase, continued with a scout phase, another planning session, and finally, the execution phase.  The first planning phase was to decide how to do some scouting before they have to pull the job on the following day.  The scouting goes fairly well; Ivan and Petrov go in to open an account, an investment CD.  They get the layout of the bank and a run of the employees.  Paul goes in (he's the cracker) under the guise of renting a safe deposit box.  During the conversation, the bank manager Marcos, thinks he can upsell to the vault safe deposit box over the standard ones.  This is exactly what Paul wants.  They go into the vault for a look around.  This pretty much ends the scouting session, and the next planning session evolves to a 'just before the bank opens' strong arm heist.  They'll grab the bank manager as he arrives at the bank, go in and take care of it with minimal witnesses or additional people who could bungle up the job.

Images not taken during the actual game; I mocked them up in my game room.  They do accurately reflect the minis during the game.  In my game room, we added trees, but otherwise it is the same.

Job Execution

A crisp summer morning and the crew finds themselves across the street in a diner's parking lot.  The bank is nestled on the edge of a business park; around the business park are several restaurants and coffee shops.  Sharp eyes fall upon a van down the street; it's got a logo of some celebrity reality show and there are plenty of cameras around, not yet rolling but the crew is checking and prepping their equipment.  Paul's curious nature gets the better of him and he goes to check out the van and camera crew.  They tell him they're there to film "a day in the life" of a famous musician, Harry Connick, Jr.  He's a Louisiana native, didn't you know?  Some idle chit chat and Paul's back at the car.  (This is one of the random events I pulled - a reality show filming.  They are supposed to enter the bank during the job, but... I had to improvise a bit.)

Finally, the bank manager's car comes into view; the gang's car gets fired up and ready for action.  As soon as the bank manager, Marcos, parks, the gang's car is immediately driven up to and stopped behind it. They jump out.  Marcos immediately locks his car doors and waits for the inevitable.  Ivan rushes the car, punching and smashing out the window.  He grabs for Marcos and cannot quite reach him.  He reflexively opens the car door and grabs Marcos, dragging him to his feet on the parking lot pavement. Petrov searches Marcos and strips him of keys, phone and anything else he finds.

Keys are tossed to Paul and they all make their way to the front door.  Using the keys, Paul opens the door and together they enter the empty bank, with the sound of the entry alarm beeping for attention.  Nick convinces Marcos that if he does everything they say, he'll be safe and unhurt.  Ivan threatens Marcos with much harm if he doesn't comply.  Marcos steps over, enters a code and the alarm stops beeping.  The gang leads Marcos to the door for the hall that leads to the vault.  Buzz contacts the team saying he's monitoring the police scanner and that a bomb threat has been called in for the area, for one of the buildings in the business park.  Cops are coming in, and soon.  Lots of cops. (Random event #2, BTW.)  Nick casually pulls out a burner phone, dials a number and says, "Someone will have to go check THAT out, too."  A few miles away, an explosion blows a wall out of an abandoned restaurant building, causing several calls to the police.

The gang get to the secure hallway door, which is locked with a badge reader.  Marcos says his badge is in his desk in his office.  Paul still has the keys, so he goes and retrieves it.  While Paul is leaving Marcos' office with the security badge, a car pulls into the parking lot. 

Stationed by the front door, Marcus tells the gang about the well-dressed Italian man, who stepped out of the vintage muscle car he had pulled up in. He is now walking up to the bank.

"Who the hell is that?" presses Ivan.

"Um, C-C-Carlo, I-I-I have an appointment w-w-w-with him before the bank opens; he's on the b-b-board of trustees", stutters Marcos. (Random Event #3.)

Carlo slows down, and is staring hard into the bank.  He stops, reaches into his coat for something, and steps behind a corner for cover, showing that he's noticed them.  He keeps his eye on the inside of the bank as he dials a number on his cell phone, puts it up to his ear, and pulls out a pistol.

Inside the bank, Marcus backs away from the door, away from Carlo's viewline, and heads towards the rest of the folks who have made it to the vault.  It takes little convincing to get Marcos to do the combination on the vault. It only takes him one try.  The vault opens; Petrov and Ivan pull Marcos to the side, while Nick and Paul enter the vault, locate box #42, and get to work.  Paul has one of the two keys, and has to pick the other lock.  It takes him less than a minute.  The box is pulled out and opened on a table in the vault.  Paul opens it, and they are staring at a metal briefcase with a black LED screen attached to the side of it.  The screen flashes a few times and the number "00:48" pops up on the screen.  It changes to "00:47"; then "00:46".  Nick looks at it, quickly determines the case is booby trapped with a bomb, rolls up his sleeves, and gets to work. 

Paul announces, "There is a bomb."

Marcos freaks out, breaks away from Ivan, and starts running into the bank lobby.  Ivan gets a quick punch in, knocking Marcos out.  Pissed off, Ivan draws his knife, kneels down and cuts Marcos across the throat, ending the poor man's life in an instant.  Petrov laughs, Paul and Nick are aghast with the sudden action, but soldier on.

After a tense 30 seconds or so, Nick manages to defuse the detonation. Nick takes the briefcase, complete with contents and the defused bomb, and the gang heads towards the back fire exit. Paul calls Buzz for a pick up at the door. 

Buzz pulls into the parking lot, heading around the building towards the back door, when Carlo (remember Carlo?) aims and fires at Buzz. The driver's window glass drops in a cascade of chunks and Buzz takes a wound in the shoulder, impairing his driving a bit. He gets to the emergency fire door, which bursts open, with Paul, Marcus and Nick rushing out, getting into the car.  Behind them, the fire alarm starts screeching. Petrov and Ivan reach the front door, unlock it and engage Carlos in a fire fight.

The camera crew hasn't been able to resist all this brouhaha and has been filming the action for sometime now. The crew is driving closer for a better view of the scene. 

After several exchanges of gunfire, Carlos goes down in a bloody heap.  Ivan opens up with his submachine gun on the van full of the production crew to try to scare them off.  It works pretty well.  Buzz attempts a fancy maneuver to get the gang's car around quickly, the bullet in his shoulder preventing a successful "bootlegger".  Buzz limps the car around, making it over to Ivan and Petrov, who pile into the car.  Peeling out, Buzz drives into traffic and threads his way through the streets to get out of the area as quickly as possible.  A chase ensues with three cop cars.  Bullets are fired from both sides, with one from Marcus in the engine block of one of the cop cars, not enough to stop it cold, but definitely enough to drop him from the chase.  A few turns later and Buzz manages an escape from the other two cars.

That's the end.  It was good to use the Savage Worlds chase rules at the end - something I hadn't planned on, but it worked out pretty well.  Have I mentioned that I love the Savage Worlds system?

Friday, May 24, 2013


Kickstarter. You know it.  You love it.  And you hate it.  As do I.

I'll give you a run-down of my Kickstarter activity, because I know you are riveted to your seat to know what I put my money into.  It's like voting.

First off, I have a 100% success rate.  Meaning, I've not gone into a project and had it fail.  They all got successfully funded; many of them much more so. I'm not going to bore you with a list of them - oh wait, I am. But I'll try to entertain you with some colorful commentary of the cooler projects, and my take on them.

Let's try a cut and paste... frelling hell, it worked.  Yay, Blogspot! Aaaand after some HTML editing, and reversing the order... Ok, here we go...

Deadlands Noir
First ever to join... Still waiting on the printed product and some physical rewards.  This was fun because several from my game group joined as well.  This was the hook. 

No Security: Horror Scenarios in the Great Depression
I felt this was a great kickstarter; the guy wants to release his game scenarios for free, to everyone. Backers get bonus bits. Most of these have already been written, and I even got my limited edition mini!  And the scenarios should be usable in Realms of Cthulhu!!

Nightmare Magazine
One of Meran's.  She's getting them in her email and has been enjoying them. 

Dwarven Adventurers Box Set
These were cool, watching the designers show the new designs and such.. The actual product was nice; I have painted a few of them.  They come in handy for my monthly HellFrost game. 

OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console
This was the coolest, I thought.  An Android-based gaming console... So small I can travel with it!  Currently, they are shipping as I write this, but I haven't gotten any notification that I will get mine soon.

Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution Of Gaming Miniatures
This was a big one.. We went in balls deep on this one, getting almost all the extras / stretch goal minis. We are expecting over 300 miniatures - some not so miniature: a few of those dragons are pretty big!

Wild Card Creator
Because I am a Savage Worlds whore, I supported this. I use Hero Lab, but I wanted to see how this guy was going to support importing PDFs of the product I already owned. He's still working on it, and I'm still using Hero Lab.

Deadlands: Raven Graphic Novel
Again, Savage Worlds related, and a comic!  Best of both worlds.  Issue #3 (of 4) should be released soon. 

tremulus: a storytelling game of lovecraftian horror
Because I liked Fiasco, and because I generally like everything Reality Blurs (Sean Preston) does.  This looks great, but we need to find someone to run it well to understand it better.  Currently waiting on the printed product, which should be soon according to updates.

Cthulhu Playing Cards
This was the first deck of cards project.  I have Savage Worlds "Realms of Cthulhu" and thought this would be a great deck to use for it.  I was right. 

Savage Outfitter - Savage Worlds Has Gone Digital
Another Savage Worlds software product.  It was cheap and comes with online tools to manage your stuff from anywhere... I actually don't have high hopes for this one - they still don't have the Character Creator done.  Hero Lab to the rescue!

Hellfrost Land of Fire - Arabian Nights RPG Fantasy Setting
Savage Worlds Whore..  I love HellFrost, and now they have added a continent.. I guess it's like World of Warcraft (which I don't play); add a new continent, and everyone will jump to it.  We'll see. 

Fearful Symmetries: An Anthology of Horror
Ellen is a FaceBook friend of Meran's and I met her in New York when I was there.  We like her stuff and wanted to support her.  It should be good readin'. 

Mine Kafon
This is just cool... A tumbleweed landmine finder / detonator. We jumped in and got some lights made from the end disc bits.  Should be cool over our wet bar!

The White Rabbit Playing Cards
Another deck.. the art is pretty cool.  Haven't received it yet, but it should be close to shipping. 

SEED: The Untold Story, Documentary Film
Got it, and I haven't watched it, but I think Meran has. 

Interface Zero 2.0: Full Metal Cyberpunk
Savage Worlds whore part... 4 or 5 depending if you count the card decks, because SW uses cards.. Anyhow, 1.0 was good but I never bought the book - we got the PDFs for free! 

Dicecards: The World's Geekiest Dice Bag in a Deck of Cards
I got the 'print it yourself' option and there should be an Android app, too.  This was just interesting. 

Achtung! Cthulhu - The WW2 Keeper's & Investigator's Guides
More source material for gaming... Realms of Cthulhu again...

The Tomorrow Girl: Dresden Codak Volume 1
Meran wanted this one; I think it'll be pretty cool. 

Albino Dragon's Synthesis Cyberpunk Playing Cards
Another deck of cards, to go with the Interface Zero 2.0 - even though I got the stretch goal deck of cards in that one, too... too many decks of cards? Not possible! 

Harry Palmer: Starstruck - or "Old Proldiers Never Die"
This looks great! and Lee Moyer is coloring it.  He's a neat guy and a great artist. 

FlashCity Stories, a Cyberpunk Flash Fiction e-Book
More Cyberpunk!  Source material for Interface Zero.  And only a dollar! 

The Name of the Wind Playing Cards
Because we seem to be supporting all these guys' projects... We love card decks and Patrick's books, too.

TRAKLINE: A new kind of belt for men
Pretty cool... no more holes, it's a slick (as in good design, not friction) slider grip track... if that makes sense..
There's the link; go look for yourself.

Girl Genius Volume 12 Printing and Reprint Frenzy!
Because it is fricken' Girl Genius!

Low Life; The Rise of the Lowly, Core Rulebook
As I said before, I am a Savage Worlds whore. I bought this book already, and he's redoing it a bit.. so I am just in it for the PDFs.

So there you have it: My Kickstarter Habit. By the way things look, I'll be doing this for a while...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stumptown comic fest

Portland, Oregon!  Stumptown Comics fest!

Meran and I decided to go.  Mostly because Meran found out that two of the guests were two of her favorites in the comic book universe.  We went to get books signed by Phil Foglio (Girl Genius, Myth Adventures) and Bill Willingham (Elementals, Fables).  We also met quite a few new artists, new books and met some folks that we knew about, but didn't catch our eye in the original guest list.  Christopher Herndon is one of those folks - great guy, great artist and a lot of fun to chat with.

We prepared for the worst.. We've been to a few local comic / book / self-publishing shows here, but with these big names, it's gonna be crowded.. I mean not SDCC-crowded, but I made sure we padded our time to prepare to wait in lines for book signings and prioritized all the books so that if there was a limit, we knew what we were willing to forgo.

Well, seeing as how this was in Portland, OR, and not San Diego; there were virtually no lines, and no limits!

First stop was Phil Foglio (We walked past Bill's spot as he hadn't showed up yet).  In preparation for this, I had drudged up an old TPB of the Myth Adventures Volume One for Phil to sign, and dammit, he had a hardcover of volume one AND two.. So, we bought that, and a pin [awesome!], and 2 novels.. and probably something I am forgetting.. [a Girl Genius bag] All in all, Phil got a good sale and we got all our books signed.  He was fun to talk to as well.  I forgot to get a picture...

Next, we backtracked to where Bill was sitting and started chatting with him. We started pulling books out for him to sign, and he was happy to do it.  Meran had a good conversation with him [fangirl!!], while I was managing the books, plastic covers and the 'to do' and 'done' piles.  We had quite a few for him to sign.

With those two main stops done, we started walking the aisles of exhibitors.  We took way too much time with Christopher Herndon, but I think he enjoyed the time as much as we did. We found Evan Daum of webcomic Rice Boy fame; Meran almost squee'd!

That was our day.  We had fun, and got some good books signed by some good folks.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GameStorm 15

Another year of GameStorm.  It was great, as always.  I didn't get to play in a 'Call of Cthulu' game that I had signed up for, but that's okay, I left a little early on Sunday and mowed the lawn. Yeah, I know.

The headlining feature for me this year was that I ran / setup / spearheaded the first annual GameStorm Savage Saturday Night!  I became the assistant to the RPG coordinator, which wasn't really important, but it made me a staff member this year, so I got in for free.  We got 6 GM's to agree to run in the 7-11pm slot on Saturday night, and we had almost 100% full tables.  The games that were run were:
  • Deadlands Noir - Pinnacle's newest setting, Deadlands set in the 1930's in New Orleans
  • Ghostbusters - a homebrewed game
  • Interface Zero - 1.0, but with 2.0 elements
  • Hellride - the Gamestorm classic Savage Worlds recurring adventure
  • Clockwork Justice League - steampunk and supers.. What??
  • Agents of Oblivion - Spies and horror
Games I played this year were almost all RPG's: Doctor Who, Mistborn, Fudge (Cyberpunk setting) and board game / miniatures game: X-Wing.
Games I ran this year were both Savage Worlds: Wellstone City (Modern crime noir) and Agents Of Oblivion (Spy / horror).

Doctor Who:
Run by my 'con buddy' Aaron Bowman.  His concept was from a very early Doctor Who episode (and forgive me if I murder this, Doctor Who fans, I like the show, but not an avid fan!) where the Doctor jettisoned 25% of the TARDIS.  Aaron's game was based on what happens to 25% of infinity, where did it go, and what can happen?  We blinked around some space time, and saved Earth.

Based on the books, and again, I haven't read them, so I was enjoying the game for the game.  We were on a mission to steal a silk-wrapped envelope.  Our opportunity was at a party / dancing ball that was being held.  The Mistborn system, besides having all of the magic from the books of 'burning metals' to user your powers, there was the introduction of a different resolution system using d6 dice pools.  It worked very well as a lot of our 'combat' was actually social interaction where characters were rolling for success with social graces that would be at such an event.  It was a lot of fun.
Mistborn Dice pool system:  Basically, you get a number of d6's based on your skill level and various focus skills and maybe a GM adjustment.  Roll the dice, and look for pairs, using 1 through 5 (a 6 means something else). the highest pair wins, and the difference of the pairs (in the case of vs. rolls) measures the comparative success.  A pair of 5's beats a pair of 4's, but beats a pair of 1's with a much greater level of success.  The 6's you ask?  They are 'nudges'.. Think of them as tie breakers or extra goodness, or if you lose a vs. roll, nudges can help mitigate the bad things that might happen. A pair of 4's with one nudge would beat a pair of 4's.  And no, 3 or more of a kind don't do anything, just pairs.

Fudge w/ a Cyberpunk setting:
Using the funny fudge +/- dice, we embarked on a mission to find out how a group of folks were staying in the Atral plane for hours or days on end.  It lead us to a military installation, and a very beefed up secure 'commune'.  We found a machine that would permanently put souls in the Astral plane, and stopped it from happening.  The folks stuck there? Well, they wanted immortality, and they got it.  It's the guvment's problem now.

A miniatures game for the Star Wars geek in all of us.  A-wings, Y-wings, X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon vs. Boba Fett's Slave Ship and a passel of Tie fighters.  Luck was on the Rebel's side (mine!) and we didn't lose a single ship.

Wellstone City: Breaking Murphy
The newest adventure from Silver Gryphon Games, I got the map PDF free from Fabled Environments, which pretty much decided which one to run.  It's a bank heist where the characters had to go into a bank vault and get the contents of a safety deposit box, and they have to do it now.  The adventure comes with 52 (use a deck of cards, its Savage Worlds!) complications to the plot.  So if just robbing a bank isn't wild enough, now the characters had to deal with: A vault upgrade, one of the character's mother is in the lobby doing bank business of some sort, a cop car pulls around on routine patrol (although the characters might not know that!) and a errant cigarette starts a fire.  I forgot to initiate the fire, but all the other twists threw some wrenches in the works.  It was a fun game.

Agents of Oblivion: Cats Eye
Agents have to locate and figure out what happened to a crew of scientists that were in an old Vietnam War era bio-tech lab.  The lab was trying to produce soldiers with night vision using cat's, and the experiment went wrong.  Very wrong.

Con Buddy: someone I am friends with, but they don't live near me, so we only see each other at Con's.