The Beta Campaign. I made have made previous mention to it in a past article, but what precisely is it? While we at Cannibal Halfling are hardly going to take credit for the idea of running multiple campaigns within a group, I think we owe it to at least mention its benefits. When I initially joined a particular group, through which I met the fellow CH staff, a lot of the focus was on a single campaign. This is not to complain about that, and I had a great deal of fun, but as we keep playing throughout the years there are things that I have noticed as we take on new responsibilities in our lives.
Yar! Yo ho, me hearties yo ho! Today, we are going to be exploring Pirates of Drinax, a supplement and campaign for Mongoose Traveller (we’ve previously done a Meet the Party), where the party is brought in to be privateers…and then allowed to do whatever they want, so long as they are willing to pay the consequences for it!
A few years ago, I was eager to chat with a friend regarding a popular movie franchise (one involving a wisecracking raccoon). While I gushed I can remember joking that Rocket Raccoon was “(Character’s Name Redacted) Spirit Animal”, to which he responded “Dude, Rocket is your spirit animal!”
Now, in real life, that is hardly the case. But as I’ve thought back on it, a lot of my characters had fallen around that pattern: a cocky, wisecracking, tech-focused character who was more than willing to risk the overall safety of the party to make things “interesting”. Looking back, I had seen the original Guardians of the Galaxy film just as I had started a character in Edge of the Empire, and it bled through.
Having players choose pre-existing characters from works of fiction to serve as models for their own is a fairly common occurrence. In fact, clones of Drizzt Do’Urden became so popular that its use has been parodied (in Order of the Stick and Goblins, just to name two). For that matter, historical figures are fairly common. A lot of people want to play their version of Rommel or the Red Baron.
After over a dozen years of playing tabletop RPGs and nearly as many systems, I got excited about a new game. I had played fantasy and sci-fi and supernatural and post-apocalyptic games, but here was one for my favorite genre, horror (the names and faces of the games have been withheld because this is not a review). The problem I ran into was that I couldn’t find anybody who wanted to run the damn game. Then one day my boyfriend suggested to me that *I* run it. Oh boy. So now I was a Game Master (GM). What exactly had I gotten myself into? Let me tell you a bit about some things I learned in my first forays into GMing. I promise you’ll make your own mistakes, but maybe you can at least avoid mine.
I have a confession to make: I am a massive fanboy for the Dresden Files. A few years ago, I was having a rough summer: I had broken up with a long term girlfriend, I was finding out that my degree was worth less than I thought it was worth, and I was preparing to move to Philadelphia, a city where I knew absolutely no one. And in that time, I finally had the chance to read a book series that I had heard fellow nerds go on about. As I visited a new city with crammed together townhouses, a decidedly different attitude, and loads of history, it became fun to look for ogres under train trestles, secret societies in Independence Hall, and ways to dig into a city where strange but wonderful things lurked.
The Empire reigns across the galaxy even as an alliance of resistance fighters and rebels begins to form to overthrow Imperial oppression. A space station with the power to kill worlds is still being constructed near Scarif. A group known as the Spectres still fights to free the planet Lothal. The Imperial Senate stands impotent, but certain members secretly resist. A boy on Tatooine still has no idea what his future has in store. It’s a new era in galactic history, and you can find what you need to play in it within the pages of Dawn of Rebellion, the newest Star Wars Roleplaying supplement from Fantasy Flight Games!
A few years ago, I played in my first (and currently only) GURPS game. It was set in the early Age of Sail, using GURPS rules for tech levels where we had to find a new heir to the crown in Tudor-era England after an explosion kills Henry VIII. The game was, in predictable fashion for my group and the system, a little wacky: the leader of the sailing expedition had neglected to put points in either sailing, swimming or leadership. The doctor was a manic depressive pyromaniac (aboard a wooden ship). Our priest was actively planning to betray the party, and the rest of us learned it, leading to each trying to out-scheme each other. The game never finished, but for all the craziness, I still have fond memories of it.
So you’re walking, and you’re walking, and you’re walking, and a big scary dragon shows up! Traveling and wilderness exploration in Dungeons and Dragons can be fraught with peril, of course, but they can also be a little more nuanced than that. There are of course rules, in both 5th Edition’s Player’s Handbook and its Dungeon Master’s Guide, for traveling in the spaces between civilizations, but February’s Unearthed Arcana gets a little more specific still. I cracked open both books and compared them to the UA material, so let’s see what it means to head Into the Wild!
The party has made it to the throne room of the dark lord, stumbling from wounds and shepherding the last of their spells and strength. As they enter the lord stands up and boasts of how outmatched they are, and it’s hard to argue with him as minions lurk in the shadows. Still, the cleric steps forth to rebuke the dark one – only to gurgle as the tip of a short sword emerges from his chest. As the body falls and party members turn to face the culprit the party rogue holds up his bloody blade and swears fealty to the dark lord. Around the table players turn themselves to face the rogue’s player, voices starting to rise, as he shrugs and says “It’s what my character would do!”
“I’m writing this anonymously, because I’m spilling some secrets that aren’t supposed to slip out. Just know that I’m on the right side of true history – whatever TimeWatch says it is – and I’ve done my best to make that happen. And if I screwed up a few times? Well, no one’s perfect . . .” So begins the blurb on the back of a manuscript that has recently fallen into my hands, a century and change after a TimeWatch agent delivered it for publication and the entire print run vanished months later. It’s been out again for more than a year now, though, so apparently whoever made it vanish from the time stream didn’t manage to do so a second time around. Before history gets rewritten once more and I forget I ever read it, let’s review The Book of Changing Years from Pelgrane Press!