All posts by Aki

Meet the Party: Scum and Villainy

A washed out veteran with a knack for pushing his luck at the right moment on high stakes jobs. A illegitimate noblewoman, using her inherited charm and connections to build a shadow kingdom of her own. A grieving father, who can hold together a ship together with duct tape and prayers, but can’t do the same for himself. An ace pilot, disillusioned about the costs of war and desperate to find work after fighting on the losing side.Meet the Party brings you ready-to-play characters, complete with backgrounds and relationships, for use both in your own games and as inspiration for creating characters of your own.   Strap on your holster and fire up the engines, it’s time to be space cowboy bad guys!

Last week we went over the recent Forged in the Dark product from Off Guard Games and  Evil Hat Productions, Scum and Villainy. There was a small bit of table fiction in the beginning of the review, and it struck a chord. What followed was the groundwork for a group of smugglers, blockade runners and overall Ne’er-do-wells for profit, the crew of the Freefall.


Scoundrel – Ari “Zen” Soto

The Veteran of the Core Wars

Heritage: Imperial

Background: Military-Core Wars Veteran

Vice: Obligation – Those left behind

Look: Male, Worn Uniform

Close Friend: Battro, a bounty hunter who was a comrade

Rival: Nyx, a moneylender who is on Ari’s case

Starting Ability: Serendipitous (Your crew starts with +1 gambit when the pool resets)

Special Ability: Never Tell Me the Odds (You generate gambits on desperate rolls. You may also generate gambits even if you spent a gambit)

 

Attributes and Skills

Insight ()()()()()()

Prowess ()()()()()()

Helm 1

Scramble 1

Skulk 1

Scrap 1

Resolve ()()()()()()

Command 1

Sway 2

Special Items: Fine Blaster Pistol (or Pair 2 slots ), Fine Coat, Loaded Dice or Trick Holo-cards, Forged Documents, Mystic Ammunition, Personal Memento (italicized items don’t require Load)

 

Backstory: Ari was raised in the core, mostly taking it for granted that he was born into the center of civilization. As a dutiful citizen, it was his patriotic duty to volunteer when the core, and his zeal and his willingness to take chances earned his way up to an NCO rating. However, the fighting would take a toll on him. He watched as his comrades fell around him as a result of his risky plans, and the losses weighed on him. When he finished his tour, he felt an obligation to the families of his fallen men, and tried to raise money to send to them. However, he couldn’t find any way to do so legally, and began working as a smuggler. Working as a criminal led him to a brotherhood of a different kind, one where it was not unusual to be stabbed in the back. Looking to recreate something closer to his old unit, he began to search out for similar lost souls, ones he felt could be trusted…at least as long as the pay was good. Ari stays cool under pressure, and is doesn’t back down in a risky situation, which carries over to his ability Never Tell Me the Odds. Normally, the party can only regain Gambit on Risky rolls, but Ari can on accrue Desperate rolls as well, helping out his risky ways.

 

THE SPEAKER – Samara “Sammi” Wren

The Financier

Heritage: Wanderer

Background: Noble

Vice: Luxury – Grand Parties

Look: Female, Loose Silks, Tight Pants

Close Friend: Je-Zee, her diplomat father

Rival/Enemy: Arryn, a noble half-sibling who despises her

Staring Ability: Air of Respectability (You get an extra downtime activity to acquire
assets or lay low)

Special Ability: Favors Owed (During downtime, you get +1 d when you acquire assets

or lay low. Any time you gather info, take +1d)

 

Attributes and Skills

Insight ()()()()()()

Study 1

Doctor 2

Prowess ()()()()()()

Resolve ()()()()()()

Command 2

Consort 2

 

Special Items: Fine Clothes, Legitimate ID, Luxury Item, Luxury Item, Large Luxury Item, Memento of a Past Encounter

 

Backstory: Samara’s upbringing was…well, unconventional for the most part. Her father was a diplomat from the Core, who was almost constantly on the move. It was along the way that her Je-Zee met her mother, and took her as a paramour…something that his noble wife was not happy with. Regardless of his reasons, his popularity and charm caused him to come off as an eccentric and Samara was raised as an acknowledged illegitimate child. Her father’s ability to charm and ingratiate people rubbed off on her, and she loved the high life, always seeing the best of wherever she went. However, it became clear that stood nothing to inherit, as everything would pass to Aryn, her legitimate sibling.

 

It was at one of these high life parties that she began to notice a trend of movers and shakers using the gathering for some illicit smuggling. With her wide path of travel, she was able to point some people in the right direction and she found himself with quite a few number of Favors Owed to her. It just so happened that she found herself in need of a reliable smuggler when she ran into Ari, who needed a startup and the two have found themselves in a mutually beneficial arrangement. While she often will drop off the ship to go planetside to take care of business, she enjoys being able to sneak off for something more exciting, and her trips tend to drum up paydays.

 

MECHANIC – Greeg “Grease” Kromyl

The Ship Mechanic

Heritage: Spacer

Background: Guilder

Vice: Stupor – Alcohol

Look: Male, Work Boots, Suspenders

Close Friend: Slice, a junkyard owner who gives him first shot at the good stuff

Rival: Nisa, a previous employer who fired him for drunkenness

Special Ability: Tinker: When you work on a clock with rig or hack, or when you study

a schematic, fill +1 segment.

Starting Ability: Bailing Wire and Mech-Tape: You get an extra downtime activity to repair, and the repair activity costs you 0 cred.

 

Attributes and Skills

Insight ()()()()()()

Rig 2

Hack 2

Study 1

Prowess ()()()()()()

Scramble 1

Resolve ()()()()()()

Attune 1

Special Items: Fine Hacking Rig, Fine Ship Repair Tools, Small Drone, Vision-Enhancing Goggles, Spare Parts, Genius Pet

 

Backstory: Grease grew up a spacer, learning the workings of mechanics by necessity to keep parts working on the ship. He found that he had a natural aptitude: machines almost seemed to “speak” to him as he brought them to life. With his skills, he was brought onboard the Guild as a ship mechanic. He settled down to start a family and was mostly content with his life, modest as it was.

What changed it was his son leaving to go to war. Grease begged him not to, but his son had no intention of staying in the guild with his father. In less than a year, his son was killed in combat. Distraught, Grease hit the bottle hard, breaking up his marriage and causing him to be kicked out of the guild. With no pension, and no benefits, Grease was awash when he was approached by Ari, his son’s former CO. Ari helped him sober up, and offered him a job. With stability, and someone to can alternately care for him and kick his ass, Grease has managed to return some normalcy to his life. He isn’t a huge fan of this smuggling thing, but it pays the bills and keeps him working and he can bring every dirty trick in the book from his Guild days to keep things running.

 

THE PILOT – Ren “Highball” Indigo

The Adrenaline Junkie

Heritage: Colonist

Background: Military

Vice: Addiction – Stims

Look: Ambiguous, Flight Suit

Close Friend: Choss, a professional racer who likes to share tips

Rival: Mav, a former mentor who is still fighting for “the cause”

Starting Ability: Ace Pilot (You have potency on all speed-related rolls. When you roll to resist the consequences of piloting, gain +1d)

Special Ability: Keen Eye (You have sharp eyes and notice small details many might
overlook. Gain +1d when firing ship guns or making trick shots.)

Attributes and Skills

Insight ()()()()()()

Rig 1

Study 1

Prowess ()()()()()()

Helm 2

Scrap 2

Scramble 1

Resolve ()()()()()()

 

Special Items: Fine Customized Spacesuit, Fine Small Urbot, Fine Mechanics Kit, Grappling Hook, Guild License, Victory Cigars

 

Backstory:Colonies were once a wild frontier, a place where people could make a life for themselves without the rules and scrutiny of life back in “civilization”. They might not have had much, but they were free to settle things themselves how they saw fit. The Hegemony didn’t see things that way, annexing the colonies that had been formed. Ren immediately jumped at the call.

 

In the beginning, the colonies held their own pretty well, and Ren made a name as a sharp pilot and a hardened veteran. However, as the war dragged along, supplies and manpower began stretched thin, causing them to resort to more desperate tactics: raiding civilian shipping as pirates. It was too much for Ren, who was shocked at how far things had gone, prompting a quick exit from the cause.

 

Work was lean after that. There wasn’t much call for new pilots for the Hegemony, especially ones with murky backgrounds, most fellow veterans weren’t on speaking terms. Ren actually encountered Ari at battlefield graveyard, each set to mourn each other’s side. Ari was putting a crew together, and wasn’t picky about history, as long as neither side asked too many questions. Ren is a keen eye in the cockpit, and knows how to get the Freefall crew out of sticky situations.


How They Interact

Ari: Samara is, for now, a bit of an uneasy partnership. She comes from a life of luxury that is absolutely alien to him, and it boggles his mind that she can step from that life to that of a criminal. It is uncomfortable to be in her pocket like this, but he can’t deny that work has been coming in a great deal more frequently.

 

Ari still has a soft spot for Grease, mostly out of guilt for the loss of Grease’s son, and that guilt causes him to turn a blind eye more often than not. Ari knows that the drinking is a problem, but he can’t bring himself to be too harsh…for now. It isn’t just Grease’s own life that he’s risking now.

 

There’s something intensely familiar about Ren, eyes that light up with a dark thrill. Ari’s heard people describe something similar about himself and it surprised him to find that there were others like him. There’s always wariness between them, but Ari can’t bring himself to hate Ren. Both of them have done things they would rather not talk about, and as much as he might enjoy a confidant, he’s letting things lie for now.

 

Samara: There’s something charming about Ari, the almost perpetual half smirk and a willingness to make the play for the greatest reward, no matter the cost. He makes her feel like a faker at times, which makes her want to step into the action more. She could do worse than having a dashing scoundrel by her side the next time Arryn wants to make things personal, and she’s happy that she can rely on Ari to pull together and manage the crew.

 

Grease is a drunk, and she cannot be too far away from him. She had attempted to convince Ari to cut the man loose, but then she saw the change in maintenance expenses. She doesn’t know how (especially with the cost of booze), but the man is a genius at cost cutting while keep the ship up and running. She’s giving him a pass, but if he slips, make no mistake, she wants him gone.

 

Ren is quite a thrill to ride with! Samara has no idea where Ari found him (or her?), but Ren has made a few crazy stunts in flight. She would be willing to cozy up to Ren, except for the fact that Ren seems to always be glaring daggers in her direction. She can’t remember doing anything particularly bad, and Ari has been particularly tight lipped about it. He has assured her that it won’t be a problem, and Ren seems perfectly capable.

 

Grease: Ari is a good kid, and someone who he owes a great debt to. Ari disagrees, but the death of his son is Grease’s own fault for being unable to stop him from enlisting. The man needs to stop torturing himself…that’s Grease’s cross to bear. Ari gets on him for his drinking, but it’s mostly affectionate, and it is a bittersweet reminder of his old family.

 

Samara is a damn fine woman. She’s far too young for him of course, and she very clearly has no interest in an old codger like him, so it’s strictly an academic observation. He might be a drunk, but he’s seen enough of the signs of a hustler when he sees one. After all, he’s been a mark more times than he can count. It’s a strangely comforting thing to see that she is just like the rest of the, no matter what airs she puts on, and the extra creds she brings in are no joke.

 

Grease feels uncomfortable around Ren. Ren is notoriously tight lipped about the past, but over time it’s become obvious that Ren has some kind of military experience. There’s something…wrong about the terms Ren uses though, ways of saying things that don’t sound like the way his own son and Ari describe them, which means there’s a good chance Ren was on the other side. Grease hasn’t brought it up with him. Maybe he doesn’t want to know…maybe he knows how he would react if he knew for sure.

Ren: It’s a bit odd working with someone on the other side of the war, but Ren can see the same regret and loss in Ari. Both have been pretty disillusioned with their respective sides, which makes for fair cooperation. His plans are usually a lot of fun, and he lets Ren do some crazy stunts in the process, so there are definitely worse bosses.

 

Samara is a walking, talking embodiment of everything Ren hates about the core worlds. As far as Ren can tell, she doesn’t do anything but swan around in fancy dresses and go to parties, and yet she brings in more coin than anyone in the crew. The way Ari tells it though, that extra coin is what keeps the ship afloat and in repair after some of Ren’s own “forceful” maneuvers push it to the limit so for now Samara is a necessary evil.

 

Grease tends to make Ren feel guilty. It was easy to fight the Core when you hated them, but seeing the family of the other side and their sorrows has a nasty side effect of reminding you that they are human. The man clearly is going through some issues going by the booze on his breath, but he is free enough with his drinks, even when he is at his wariest.


The Freefall

CF-350 Series Scarab-class Freighter

Size: Freighter (Medium, can land on planets)

Starting gambits: 3

Crew Reputation: Honorable

STARTING SYSTEMS
Crew quality (0/3).
Engines (1/4). Installed: Jump Drive

Hull (2/5). Installed: Cargo Hold, Smuggling Compartments.
Comms (0/4). Installed: None.
Weapons (1/2). Installed:Particle Cannons

STARTING UPGRADES
Auxiliary: Galley.

Training: Insight.

Particle Cannons

False Ship Papers

 

The Freefall is mainly equipped to run deliveries, smuggle items and break blockades. While not completely street legal, they boast a pair of Particle Cannons to chase off persistent pursuers. If they need to go somewhere they shouldn’t be allowed, their False Ship Papers are useful for sliding past customs.

The Future

There are plenty of ways for the future to go, but there are definitely some tracks laid. The crew of the Freefall will acquire more group experience for taking on delivery and smuggling jobs, and while they are free to take on a whole host of other challenges and puzzles, the first few sessions at least will likely steer them in that direction. Samara’s contacts will provide plenty of work, at least to start, and will be likely to continue as long as good work is done. But crews who make good money don’t stay anonymous for long, and there will be rivals and law enforcement aplenty to keep them on their toes.

 

However, their most dangerous enemies may be themselves. They are all interconnected by the mutual needs of the situation but there are definitely fault lines. This could help develop the characters, and help them get over their issues…or it could split up the team. The only way to know is to play!

The Independents: Scum and Villainy

“Easy does it friend.” Ari raises his hands as Marx levels his gun. He raises his voice again across the hanger. “You wouldn’t want to do anything hasty now. I’m sure there’s room to negotiate here. All we want is to get paid, and the artifact is yours.” Already the situation was looking bad. Marx, the supposed buyer they were set up to deal with, chose to bring his own group of thugs, and it seemed like their idea of negotiation involves bullets.

Continue reading The Independents: Scum and Villainy

The Independents: Monster of the Week

A dark shadow lurks at the edge of town. Bodies with strange markings have been found throughout the city. Strange omens appear in the skies. Who will face these grim threats? A blue collar warlock, pulling out his street smarts as much as his arcane knowledge? A girl once given a “gift” by a faerie godmother, that helps (and compels) her to action? The last member of a defunct Order, sworn to stop Nazi experiments of the same? The roaming hunter, traveling from town to town to find the creature who killed his brother? The government agent who has stumbled into something larger, and can’t look away? Together, they will find out…why all these different monsters always seem to arrive like clockwork on one day of the week. It’s uncanny. This is Monster of the Week!

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ENnies Wonk: Best Free Game 2018

Surprise, it’s not the normal Level One Wonk this time, though I am gladly ripping off his format. At the start of the month, nominations for the ENnie awards were released. The nominations present a wonderful resource for GMs and gamers, and similarly for game reviewers. It had turned out that a number of nominations were games that we had written about in the past, but there were plenty more for us to study as well. In particular, there was one category that interested me: Best Free Game. Occasionally, players and GMs run on tight finances but still require their gaming fix. SRDs are plenty helpful, but sometimes you want to try something a bit different. A number of these games are more demos or skins for games that stop early than full, completely ready out of the box systems, but it is enough to get started, and to see if you enjoy the product enough to buy the full version . . . or creative players and GMs might be able to push it beyond expectations. These are only cursory reviews, and if something interests you, I fully recommend checking them out. They are, after all, free.

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City of Mist Review

The smoke from the hookah lounge downtown swims through the place, heavy and sweet. At a back lounge sits a bald man with a gold hoop earing who knows just what you need to do to get what you want…if are able to ignore the literal fire flickering in his eyes. In the Industrial District’s meatpacking plant, a grizzled old timer working the graveyard shift wonders how life passed him by, noting with some curiosity how his skin didn’t break on that saw, when he slipped and ponders why all the leftover animal parts always seem to vanish when he takes a nap on the job…and why he just gets hungrier whenever that happens. In the financial district there is a business guru who, despite his age, always seems to be in exceptional vigor and with an improbable knack for turning seemingly useless investments into gold…and nobody seems to know how long he’s been here? It’s like he’s practically immortal. But lots of strange things happen in The City. Once its inhabitants were wide eyed and agape, but now they’ve seen it all…or so they like to think.

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Adventure Log: Flight of the Albatross, Part 1

I have previously written about my interest in the Traveller setting, more specifically the Pirates of Drinax as a Beta Campaign, and over the past few months I have actually managed to get it off the ground! I am a more inexperienced GM, and this campaign has marked the first time I have gotten a campaign to two whole sessions! As such, I’ll keep up the tradition of our other CH GM’s and offer a bit of a “Lessons Learned” post-mortem.


The Kingdom of Drinax was once a prosperous Star Kingdom, a rich collection of worlds. Their technology, used to construct the ostentatious marvel known as the Floating Palace, rivaled even the greatest advances of the Human Imperium and the Aslan Hierate with advanced medical care, engineering breakthroughs, and a potent military force for a Star Nation their size. Their ships were a storied blend of art and performance, with their Harrier-class commerce raiders the bane to pirates, smugglers, and blockade runners who would dare ignore the law of their domain.

 

But with their advancement, their kings grew arrogant. When Aslan traders ventured forward, Drinax levied taxes against them, and proved willing to back that up with force. In response, the Aslan ravaged Drinax, scorching the planet under a planetary bombardment so severe that it was rendered nigh uninhabitable. Its space fleet was crushed, its kingdom dissolved. Yet, for all that, the Aslan spared the Floating Palace, the home of the planet’s aristocracy and the scientists who had built and maintained it. The ambitious generals and brilliant engineers who had raised up Drinax survived, but in a cruel twist of fate, no longer had any resources to rebuild.

 

That was over a century ago.

 

Now, King Oleb sits on the throne (one he can barely fit his girth into anymore), and dreams of rebuilding his kingdom. Now he has uncovered a tool to do just that: a newly restored Harrier-class ship, what was once the pride and joy of the Drinaxi navy. With some help from his daughter Princess Rao, he has an idea of how he wants to use it, a way to send emissaries to the old members of his Star Nation, to amass a fighting force capable of holding off invasion, and to force the Imperium and Hierate to the bargaining table: Privateers.


 

The party was summoned to King Oleb, lured by a variety of promises.

 

For Newton Zephyr, it was the chance for the former pirate to go legit. After years of seeing friends and fellow pirates meet their end or be forced to run for the rest of their days, Newt was tempted by the offer to become a privateer, a legally sanctioned pirate who had the chance to buy/earn a noble title that would grant his services legitimacy.

 

For Festus, it was the chance to have full access to technology that amazed and astounded him. Festus had been a craftsman on the planet of Asim, a planet kept in poverty by its rulers. About 20 years ago, Drinax had conquered and colonized Asim in order to have a reliable food supply, and life markedly improved for its residents. With the stars opened up to him, he became a scout, exploring the subsector that had been opened up to him. King Oleb had initially signed him on due to his skills as an artisan (getting the jeweled inlays right is tricky you know), and Princess Rao had recognized the wisdom of having a well seasoned scout to act as navigator.

 

For Wolf, a wandering Vaugr assassin, it was potentially finding a place. As an oddity amongst most of the stretch of the galaxy, the work offered good pay, and it was the chance to settle in for a while. Having a skilled operative for boarding operations seemed to be a wise idea.

 

The king managed to make some time in between rounds of courtesans (he was interested in redheads that week), who cheerfully waved to Festus on their way out. King Oleb laid out the basic ground rules. They were charged with disrupting the shipping in the region for both the Aslan and Imperium, and to build a pirate fleet to defend Drinax when the time comes. He would lend his newly refurbished Harrier-class ship to the party (emphasis on “lend”), would make Drinax a haven where they could easily fence stolen goods, and would offer them a secret letter of marque. While this would not do the party a great deal of good if captured by a major power, it would act as a retroactive pardon for all actions. In return Oleb would ask for 10% of their earning off the top…and insist that they follow a certain code of conduct. Oleb wanted to use this venture to rebuild a kingdom. Random atrocities do not convince people to follow his banner. Finally, as one last kicker, if they succeeded, Princess Rao would be the bride of one of them!

 

That same Princess would enter the chamber a moment later with the next round of courtesans, appearing to be a cross between bemused and furious, but too composed to say anything to her father. She lead the party out of the chamber, leaving her father with his courtesans. Upon leaving, she began serious discussions about the details. She and Festus revealed that Festus had been long part of the operation to restore the ship, and it soon became apparent that Rao was in charge of the gritty details and overall planning of the operation.

 

The first task she gave the party was to put together the beginning of a long term crew, and take the ship out for stress testing. The group decided to stick with mostly cheaper, less specialized NPCs to help the crew, hiring on a pair a gunners and a contingent of marines. After jumping to Asim, the party deliberated on where to go for their initial test run. They immediately rejected the notion of attacking the closest planet, Khusai, as it was a well known military outpost dedicated to hunting pirates such as themselves. Instead, they planned to travel deeper into Aslan space, setting a course to less well protected stops along the trade route such as the Camoran or Oiwoiieaw. However, to do so, the limit of their jump drive would require them to make a stop in open space.

 

Upon exiting hyperspace, the group immediately activated the Holographic Hull, hoping that the stealth modifications on their Jump Drive (the standard form of hyperspace transport) would prevent anyone knowing they had arrived. Mostly on a lark, they chose to check their sensors to determine if anyone else was out here. To everyone’s surprise (including the GM’s, due to a lucky roll on a random table) there was a prime target, a heavy freighter, continuing along its course without responding to the party’s arrival. With their stealth systems fully online, the party managed to get within perfect firing range, Newt opened with a pinpoint barrage on the ship’s fuel supply using the Harrier’S particle cannon. Usually the tonnage and firepower advantage of a heavy freighter would be more than enough to deal with a pirate of the Harrier-class’s size, but with a vicious sucker punch it was slow to react. With the element of surprise, and a massive advantage in maneuverability, the pirates took advantage with the gunners opening a massive missile barrage at the freighter’s turret banks. Out of character, the gunners rolled a crit on top of an already favorable roll. This led Festus’ player to excitedly announce “Oh, we are keeping those guys!”

 

With their target’s defenses crippled, and their chances of escape quickly fading, Newt hailed the Aslan ship, ordering it to cut thrust and surrender. The Captain, a snarling Aslan, angrily refused, howling that he would fight to the last . . . until a clear voice on his end commanded him “Stand down Captain!”

 

The Captain seemed taken aback, but obeyed the command. A female Aslan of distinguished bearing entered the frame. She identified herself as “Lady Aisha” and reprimanded these “Imperium warmongers” for this unproved attack but said  that, as despicable their actions were, she would gladly hand over her entire cargo if it meant sparing her crew. This immediately set off some suspicions. In no way had the party identified itself as part of the Imperium, and the cargo space of the Harrier-class was utterly dwarfed by what a heavy freighter could have carried. It didn’t take long for Festus to read between the lines: Lady Aisha was offering a portion of her cargo, figuring that the loss of a decent chunk would still be less expensive than severe damage to the ship, or the cost of lives for her people even if their numbers could make a truly nasty fight of a hostile boarding attempt. Even more, she was looking for a way to turn the situation to a political advantage by claiming that she was attacked by the Imperium. Impressed, the party agreed to terms and docked with their target.

 

The transfer of goods was relatively simple. Though Wolf and Festus managed to quickly place a few tracking programs in the ship, they weren’t able to see how successful they were because Lady Aisha greeted them in person, flanked by her guards. The besieged ship handed over enough of their cargo to fill the Harrier-class’s cargo bay, fortunately with basic agricultural supplies that would be easy to offload without requiring a fence, and at a fair price.

 

Festus slyly offered that if Lady Aisha had any rivals which she would like to see suffer similar treatment, they would be glad to act on it for her. In fact, as a show of good faith, when he reached the nearest neutral port of Asim, he would have a rescue ship sent out to help her. Lady Aisha seemed bemused about the offer, and stated that it was a privilege to deal with “proper professionals”. There seemed to be mutual respect as the party departed, jumping coreward in an indirect route back to Asim, so that it would not be as obvious as to where they were headed.

 

The return trip was jubilant. The newly minted pirate band had a hull full of cargo and no serious damage. The gunners were joyously celebrated for their good work, and were bestowed the monickers of Mav and Swan. After some deliberation, the group decided on a name for the ship: The Albatross, because there was something in a really old poem about it being bad luck to shoot at one.

 

It was only upon their return to Asim and their break into atmosphere when an urgent holomessage from Princess Rao was patched through. “What,” she demanded, “did you do?”

 


My first big lesson of this campaign was preparation. As the saying goes, no plan survives first contact, so I had tried to cover every base possible in a fairly open setting. I wanted to do some stress testing of my own (though in this case, the system mechanics rather than the ship’s) so I wanted to keep myself open, and tried to prepare for any situation. However, because I tried to spread myself out to resolve any path the players took, I was a bit surprised to discover that they took the simplest straight line objective I offered. I had expected something to go off course quickly, and I hadn’t prepared fully for the most obvious thing that would be in a game with space pirates: Space Combat.

 

In retrospect, it should have been the obvious move. In the end, the GM is almost never prepared for everything (as I have seen) but a lesson learned was to at least prepare for the most obvious. If players do something that truly comes out of left field, I feel a bit better about winging it on something obscure rather than something that should have been a core ruleset to know.

 

On a more positive note, I want to bring up what I learned about the effect of making Named NPC’s. It’s a little touch that often fleshes out a character more than “Faceless Mook # 3”. The funny thing is that I had nothing, and I mean zero, written in advance for the NPCs who became Mav and Swan (our gunner pair) and Lady Aisha. I wasn’t sure what my players were going to roll for their characters, so I made no assumptions about their skill level at different skill functions, so I didn’t plan a crew. I assumed that I would be able to fill in any positions in need with baseline crewmembers using the rules for the book. Only, when it came for the gunners to fire, they critted on a called shot. Immediately, my players declared that they had to keep these guys around, and agreed to pay them a higher cut for bonuses on their rolls going forward. That is how Mav and Swan were born.

 

With Lady Aisha, again, I had zero plan with her and she would not have existed were it not for random chance. I was not expecting my players to find anything interesting in open space, so you can imagine my surprise when the roll came up with a Rich Trader, a ship with an especially high value cargo. On top of that, when I rolled at random for a “prey quirk” the dice came up with a noble onboard. I suddenly needed to justify A) what a noble was doing onboard a merchant ship in open space and B) how I could justify the players overrunning a ship when they were dearly outnumbered. A commanding Lady Aisha, functioning as a brilliant, cunning, hands on leader for her house answered both, and gave me an intriguing character for my players to come across to boot. It was entirely an accident, but it is a welcome one.

Play By Post

Back a decade ago, in 2008, I was fascinated by Code Geass, a mecha and fantasy anime series. While looking around I found a forum with people creating their own stories, imagining themselves on different sides of the conflict and imagining their own strategies. I had seen roleplaying threads on other internet forums, but this was something different: an entire board, devoted to making a game to be played. Rules were pretty much non-existent, other than the admins and mods making pointed suggestions, and rewarding players who played out uncomfortable or losing scenarios or roleplayed richly. There were no game mechanics. But I had found my first Play by Post. For me, the roleplaying and storytelling aspect of gaming was the best part and it was often overlooked at my school’s gaming club and the few sessions with friends. This was all about the story, and through that I met two of the people I game with now. As a note, driving out of state to the house of someone you’ve only known online, and not telling people where you are going might not be the safest idea, but it’s how I met a really cool group of people.

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A Glimpse Into the Vault: Epic Spell Wars Of the Battle Wizards

This week in the vault, we are going to reach for something a little…different. In fact, you could say it is EFFIN’ EPIC. OH YEAHHHHHH! There has been recurring jokes in many campaigns that I’ve been in, certain over the top scenes deserve to be airbrushed on the side of whatever transport we have that counts as a van. (Once game had a space Winnebago, so let’s not judge). So when I say that Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards is over the top, I mean that playing 80s metal over your play would be a thematic decision which would work. This is a game that found the top, and magically kicked its ass so hard it saw the curvature of the Earth. As the game phrases itself in its own rulebook, it is about “Ball Rocking Magic” and it crams every bit of over the top, Rule of Cool justification to cover its play.

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The Independents: Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game Starter Kit

A hush falls over Megapolis City. Citizen Dawn stands from atop his platform, looking over the destruction that her minions have wrought. “I am burdened with a great purpose.” Her voice, though not raised, seems to echo in the dead silence of the normally bustling street. “The bright lure of freedom has led you away from the joy of service. Service to people like me. I am here to correct that mistake.”

Splash Page: “Not if we have anything to say about it!” *The Freedom Five burst into frame* “Let’s go team!”

Based on the popular fixed-deck card game Sentinels of the Multiverse by Greater Than Games, Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game takes you inside the capes of its heroes, pitting them against various dangers and threats which plague the city. Players take up the mantles of very familiar sounding superheroes, combining the backstory from the card games with fresh RPG mechanics and greater narrative freedom. The Starter Kit provides a copy of the rule book, six characters to choose from, and a number of missions, enough to get a campaign of your adventures in Megapolis City going.

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