If you’ve been around the site for a while, you may know that one of my favorite games in the old-school sphere is Electric Bastionland. Chris McDowall’s game of electropunk weird fantasy is a high watermark in the world of gameable settings, creating the city of Bastion as a thematically consistent setting which still has nearly endless ability to be interpreted, customized, and hacked by players of the game. A city existing right after the discovery of electricity, it is a huge, chaotic place filled with strange beings and objects, unmappable boroughs and streets, and numerous factions, councils, and unions constantly at odds with each other. If that’s not enough, the Underground below, Deep Country surrounding, and the Living Stars above all serve to create a weird world to get lost in.
Electric Bastionland as a game is designed to use as few rules as possible to get everything working, and therefore allow each gaming group flexibility when it comes to which elements of the setting they want to nail down. That said, the game also includes a very clever piece of worldbuilding tech in the form of Borough creation. For a Borough in the city, or an area of the Deep Country or section of the Underground, there are rules for mapping out the key transit routes through the area. These mechanics create a segment of Bastion with a great number of locations and hooks, and one Borough provides more than enough information to start the game.
What I find, though, is that if you want to use Electric Bastionland for a longer game, you’re going to want more than one Borough. It’s quite possible to prep one Borough at a time, let the map expand organically as the characters wander. That said, many people are going to want some form of larger map. While Bastion as a city naturally resists mapping, I think there’s still value in building out a higher level diagram, something that tells you where the bounds of the city are. That’s why I’ve been experimenting with a game creation framework that I call Bigger Bastionland.
Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Bigger Bastionland →
The Galactic Empire brings safety, security, prosperity, and progress to every planet that welcomes its care . . . or so the story goes, anyways. On one Outer Rim world, at first that all seemed true: oppressive nobles were overthrown, social mobility increased, and industry flourished. However, in the mines and the ‘reeducation’ camps the truth of Imperial rule can be found for those brave and/or unfortunate enough to uncover it. The Rebellion fights here despite the Empire’s good publicity, but what path will the different cells take to freedom? How will new additions to the base upset the balance? Check your power packs and calibrate your blaster’s sights, we’re joining up with the rebels of Jumar Base!
Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Star Wars: A Rebellion Divided →
Tired of traveling the same old hyperlanes? Had your fill of fighting off stormtroopers? Sick of owing credits to the Hutts? Outer Rim not far enough out for you? Well, it’s not without risks of its own, but have you ever considered Wild Space? Find a planet of your very own, start from scratch, no Empire, no Rebels, no syndicates? It’ll be an entirely new way of life for you out there, so before you start making the astrogation calculations, let me tell you a little about what you might be getting yourself into…
Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Star Wars: Wild Space Colony →
Spiderman in the Marvel Comics has had a lot of memorable foes. From the more comical such as Shocker and Rhino. To the deathly serious in Green Goblin and Kingpin. Peter Parker and his many fellow Spider-Folks have no shortage of villains who left a mark on the minds of fans. But for me, it was always one villain that was memorized in this ol’ skull the most. Or rather, as I soon came to discover, a group. More like a plague when you think about it.
The Symbiotes. These alien menaces would bind to the most heroic of crusaders, granting them a boon of immense power. At the cost of what made them so heroic. They would prey upon the impulses that, in moderation, make us human. Anger. Hate. Jealousy. Pain. Only, they weren’t content with those impulses remaining moderate. They would take the knob and wind it all the way up to the max. These symbiotes would turn heroes into villains.
And as a kid, that both fascinated and scared the ever living hell out of me. These beings were like the zombie virus storylines on adrenaline. They don’t just turn you into a monster. They do it slowly. They whittle away at who you are, amplifying the parts you’d rather forget and minimizing the aspects you hold dear, bit by bit. They turn your love to obsession. They turn your courage to fanaticism. They turn you into…..well, NOT-you.
And when I think of the idea of horror stories in Marvel, I can’t get closer than the idea of a well done symbiote story. Barring Immortal Hulk, cos that’s friggin’ amazing.
So, let’s discuss how to do a symbiote story in Masks. Let’s discuss horror in Masks: A New Generation.
Continue reading We Are Venom: Using Symbiotes (And Horror) in Masks →
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.
Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Post-The Last Jedi →
The party is simply minding its own business on the streets of Aundair when they’re accosted by “Maestro Hennedy of Gault”. Seems this troubadour has decided he wants to witness your heroic deeds himself, and then make both you and himself famous with the resulting songs. It’s a nice opportunity . . . if he would just. Stop. Talking. And keep himself out of trouble. This is just one of the many encounters, run-ins, and occasions that your adventuring party could run in to with Eberron Random Events: Sharn and the Five Nations by Michael J Winegar!
Continue reading Eberron Random Events: Sharn and the Five Nations →
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.
Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Star Wars: Nar Shaddaa →
Every campaign needs a place for weary adventurers to sit down for a while, enjoy a drink, and maybe find some new work, and that’s no different a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Looking for a cantina for your spacers to visit that’s not on that dust-ball called Tatooine? Need some staff and patrons to interact with? Hooks to kick off your next adventure? Then fire up your hyperdrive and make the jump: we’re heading to the Smuggler’s Moon of Nar Shaddaa to grab a drink and some work at the curiously-themed cantina known as The Astrogation Glitch! Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Star Wars: The Astrogation Glitch Cantina →
Paranoia, West End Games’s RPG of comic dystopia, has become a meme in gaming circles, one of the few games with as strong a play identity as D&D itself. Shouts of ‘treason’ and ludicrous extensions of the color-based ranking system help evoke the feel of a Paranoia session, which tends to consist of different uses of the Alpha Complex backdrop as excuses for players to find more and more inventive ways to accuse each other of treason and/or being a communist or mutant, and then kill each other. Neither West End Games nor Mongoose Publishing, the publishers of the most recent edition of Paranoia, ever did anything to dissuade this. That said, the game has been designed to allow for something a tad more sophisticated.
It should go without saying that all text from this point hence is of ULTRAVIOLET clearance! Do not read, under pain of disintegration (or if you want hidden parts of the game to stay a surprise)!
Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Straight Paranoia →