I have a confession to make: I never got into professional wrestling. I seem to have completely missed the boat when it came to the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin, and my memories of Dwayne Johnson are all as an actor. So, in that vein, digging into luchador culture is like jumping straight to eight ounces of sweet black-tar heroin. It is with this proverbial drug trip that Sangre y Mascaras, the Powered by the Apocalypse homage to luchador movies, jumps into the action.
It’s that time of year again: Memorial Day has come and gone and school is out, or soon to be. Maybe you spent a bit too much preparing for a party, or have found yourself at loose ends with the changing of the seasons, or need to save up to be able to take that vacation you’re planning. For whatever reason, the idea of dropping a decent chunk of your paycheck on a new sourcebook is…well, not your top priority. Well, fear not, because we at Cannibal Halfling Gaming know what it’s like to be at loose ends. Let’s take a dive back into the vault for a cheaper, but no less entertaining find in a set of mechanics entitled “Knave”, a cheap, short, and easy to understand ruleset that allows GMs and players to convert nearly any OSR, and more importantly, multiple games into a single cohesive system.
From the bowels of amusement we stab at thee! Last week we covered an overview of Allies and Adversaries, but now it’s time for some fun, to breathe some life into the words and number on the page. These might not be the most serious or mechanically maximized characters we’ve ever built, but they are a nice way to show off the new character choices that Allies and Adversaries offers: The Ewok, Jawa and Tusken Raider. So, take a gander at the Oddball Defense Force!
In general, among the writers here at Cannibal Halfling Games, we are attracted to the things that we write about for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s because it is something at the cutting edge of mechanical development. Sometimes, it’s excitement at projects to come. Other times, it’s remembering a forgotten project that could use a bit more love. And, once in a while, we see something that makes us snort with laughter and say “Oh, I have to see that!” It was the final of these that had me take a look at the recent supplement for the Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games, Allies and Adversaries.
“Snowhaven has hosted a theocracy, two civil wars, a magi uprising, been partially burned to the ground, and had one small bout of cannibalism, yet still, she shambles on.” As opening lines to a setting book go, you can do a lot worse. I came across Snowhaven on Kickstarter a while back. The authors described it as “snowpunk”, a new genre they were trying to make stick. The way that the authors described it, they wanted to take the steampunk elements of technology and apply it to a fantasy setting, but also keep the sense of “grim isolation” that winter brings. Rather than having your standard bright, optimistic theme of “gaslamp fantasy”, the people of Snowhaven dwell in a brutally harsh cold water port, filled with intrigue between the noble houses and the Illuminate Church. Technology has not been soaring by leaps and bounds because of a new age of whimsy, discovery and exploration; it has advanced because it is the only way for them to survive (they weren’t kidding about the cannibalism thing).
A few days ago we here at CHG were surprised to discover that we had been awarded a free copy of a Changeling: The Lost sourcebook from the Storytellers Vault by the name of Venice Unmasked, written by Christopher Handley. So, keeping in mind what I had learned from the new edition (or perhaps, completely forgetting it and getting swept up by a True Fae), I decided to take a look. But perhaps, I am getting ahead of myself: what is the Storytellers Vault? I had never heard of it before.
Maybe it’s because I’m in dire need of a fix before Episode IX is released, but I find myself drifting back to the end of The Last Jedi. I know that it’s a polarizing topic for a lot of fans, but I keep thinking of the possibilities and implications left by the ending. The interesting part is, going at the question of “How Do I Build a Campaign?”, previous Star Wars Meet the Campaigns have created a location and then built up hooks around it. This method doesn’t work as well for something as broad as the entire galaxy. It might be simpler to have a GM pick a planet and say “this is what is happening here”, but unless we are talking about a popular setting like Nar Shaddaa, a write up for places of interest is less useful because there is little to keep players there without railroading them.
So, after some thought, I’ve decided to try coming at this from the other direction: rather than picking a location and populating it with plot hooks, this Meet the Campaign is setting up themes and using bits and pieces from throughout the system in order to build a framework that spurs a wide background of characters into the action. Unlike the previous entries, this installment is system specific for Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG, but the themes are universal (or galactic) enough to be transferred over. And just to be sure, as this takes place after the events of The Last Jedi, spoilers will abound, so consider yourself warned.
The political kingmaker is the fairest of them all, with a designer suit, a killer intellect, and a smile that will make men follow her anywhere. She is a master of the boardroom and has a knack for deal making, even when the terms seem a bit, well, strange. If you agree to them in jest, you may be surprised when you are compelled to follow through. The bartender is a short man, barely noticeable behind the counter. He’s quick with a smile, and a drink, and is always willing to hear a gripe or a complaint, and offer a quick word of comfort to the concerned bar patron. What is odd is the number of filled shot glasses he keeps over the lintel as a marker. The private eye has streaks of grey throughout his raven black hair. His eyes are quick and dart to the sides wildly. His smile, while charming, seems to have a few too many teeth. He’s been following up on a number of abusive husband cases lately. It’s a bit odd how so many have seemed to disappear, but no body, no crime. It might seem as if all of these characters have nothing in common, were it not for their enemy: the beings who took them away to a far off land, and who may come to take them again. And for that, these Changelings will join together to stay alive.
Nar Shaddaa is a popular stop for Star Wars campaigns due to the gritty, cyberpunk feel. It has all the elements of a seedy underbelly, with equal chances for players to be heroes and crooks. In my mind, it has the plot density to not only be a stopping point, but a place to house an entire urban campaign. This is a setup for players and GMs who might wish to use Nar Shaddaa as the primary focus of a campaign, or simply the place that players frequent to repair, turn their haul into credits, or to unwind a bit. I am generally a fan of incorporating the players’ stories, drives, and foibles into how the story unfolds, which makes writing a plot at the outset difficult. Instead, we are going to populate the urban sprawl of Nar Shaddaa with factions, and places of interest for our players to run into. The factions have primary drives, which is to say, what they will be trying to accomplish according to the status quo. From there, the players’ choices will be what moves (or doesn’t move) the paths of those around them.
Memories are a powerful thing. They define much of who and what we are, and even when the edges become hazy some things, some impressions, remain crystal clear in our psyches. I can’t remember how long ago it was (though math tells me that we are pushing 20 years now), but I can remember who I was with and what we were doing (trying the dangerous addiction that is Magic: The Gathering) when I was first introduced to my Friendly Local Game Store. Looking back, it was dingy and in a sketchy part of the neighborhood, but I would wind up spending so much time there over the years that I can’t help but look back at it with fondness.
It was on one of those trips that I was saw something that caught my eye: a card game that I hadn’t seen before, but whose art reminded me of some of the new cartoons I was seeing at the time. I wound up buying a pack and trying out the game and, I had no idea what I had stumbled into. I played for a while, found some of the tie-in novels, and largely forgot about it as a part of my adolescence that I would likely never see again. Suddenly, in the last six months, Legend of the Five Rings (commonly referred to as L5R) came back into my life. I not only found that there a Tabletop RPG version of the franchise, I found myself playing in two different editions: the 4th edition, originally published by the original creators Alderac Entertainment Group, and the new version created by Fantasy Flight Gaming. I found myself marveling at how different they were, and yet, how strong of a fanbase I found for each. After having played a bit of both, it seemed worthwhile to look at some of the pivot points at which the game changes.