Monday, 27 February 2012

Another Night on the Isle of The Earthshaker

So, I finally got the chance to get back into Danerous Brian's Isle of The Earthshaker Campaign.

God damn, but I love it.

I'm currently playing Peliakos, a city guard in his late teens, who was picked for the fine duty of escoting several nobles and clerics during a routine sail to Zama. Turns out, things did not go to plan...

Check it out HERE and remember to follow the good man!

I love the "Expeditionary" aspect of the campaign - every session should end at a "home base", so people who cannot make it are able to sit a game out (good, because there's about 15 players at the moment...). It's very Old School in its approach - food and water are chief concerns, along with envoironmental factors (the setting's based on Ancient Greece, so bronze armour is the order of the day. Now try wearing that on a hot day...). It's gritty, it's grim (we've somehow only had three fatalities) and it's awesome. I'm also a fan of the setting (Edarnia), and like exploring its mythology and places. It's also one of the few game sI've been in where exploration was one of the key joys - finding nre places, and seeing the effects of the player's actions on the environment.

It's pretty cool, and as I've said before - I can learn a lot from Brian.

MTV's Death Valley

A TV series that is begging to be done as at least a one-shot...

In case the video isn't working, a summation:

One year ago, vampires, werewolves and zombies descended upon California's San Fernando Valley. Authorities remain baffled by their origins.

These are the stories of the cops that capture the monsters, and the camera crew that captures the cops.

In other words - it's COPS, with the Undead. And it's awesome.

Risus would be amazing to represent the sheer ridiculousness of the situations the UTF get themselves into, and some of the more personal arguments they get into...

At first, I thought that something tactical might help, like GURPS or maybe a hacked Shadowrun - but no, watching it, it's still about simple comedy mixed with awesome action. Risus does both of those pretty well.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Rogue Trader One-on-One: Part Seven: Something Old, Someone New...

While fleeing from the Eldar attack, Allesaunder (the Chief Navigator) informed Claudia of a strange set of readings out in realspace - possibly a salvageable ship. The Lord-Captain, having no fear of Space Hulks (or Genestealers), decided to pop out of the Warp and check it out. What she found could change the fortunes of her somewhat-floundering dynasty forever.

She assumed it was a ship. It was a huge, black sphere (with a diameter comparable to the length of her ship). Scanning and careful observation found a large emblem patterned (almost etched, nought but a millimetre deep) into the front of the ship - a huge Imperial Aquila. After several hours of checking and double checking their results, her Tech-Priests got back to her - explaining that this ship was somewhere in the region of 10,000 years old, maybe more. This living relic may very well have been the first Human vessel in the Expanse - and judging by the readings, it still held some power!

Clearly, the Explorators were incredibly excited - some of the lesser Techpriests were even observed weeping with joy (and possibly terror). As the Captain announced they were to board the ship, the three Chief Explorators each argued that they should lead the mission, and be the first Adeptus Mechanicus member to step foot on such a vessel - eager to hog the glory of such a find. They pestered her with gifts, personal messages, even servo-skulls with pre-recorded vox signals. In the end, however, she told each of them to load up two shuttles with equipment, men and servitors, in separate shuttle bays - each was to thin they would be the first on-board. In fact, Claudia had picked who would accompany her as the first Tech-Priest on board - Harry, her assisstant with some minor Heretek leanings (well, he likes to fiddle with Xeno-Tech, nothing too serious). She also brought along her personal guard, along with Jayne (Head of Security, a 6'6" Catachanian gun-nut), as well as servitors and as much exploration equipment she could muster.

As they left (and the other Explorators behind them), they each split to find a docking bay in a "quarter" of the spherical ship - the plan being, they could quickly search the ship, figure out how to get it running, and return it to the Mechanicus (at some point) for a huge monetary reward (and, of course, the Glory of The Imperium, and the respect of the AdMech, but mainly the money).

Upon pulling into the docking bays (which seemed to open as they approached), however, they were faced with their first problem - inside, seemingly activated by their approach, were many servitors - far too smooth and flawless, and nowhere near biological enough to be Imperial tech. With all the bravo that a Rogue Trader should possess, she strode off the shuttle to inspect the beings. It took her looking round to see Harry hiding in the store cupboard to realise she was face-to face with something that the AdMech were intent to destroy - real-life Men of Iron. Abominable Intelligence.

OHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCK (In the player's own words)

As she sprinted back to the shuttle, she realised - they did not respond to her presence. At all. They simply worked away at their chosen function, whether sealing the doors, maintaining the shuttle, or (in the case of the larger, less-humanoid ones) performing whatever they were designed to do. Showing little fear (and despite the protests of her crew), she approached one of the Silica Animus, face to faceplate, and had a look. She spotted a small hexagramic ward on its forehead- the kind she had only seen in and around Warp Engines (and occasionally on representations of the Great Heroes of the Witch-Hunters). The figure did not break from its duties, or otherwise react to her presence, even as she began talking to it (Harry later explained that she was lucky she didn't take one of the Explorators with her - they would've shot her for that). She eventually convinced the team to come forward, and set up a forward base of operations within the hangar, while she, Jayne, Harry and a few guards went exploring. Their first challenge was the door out of the hanger.

One of the lesser Tech-Priests tried all her finest prayers and benedictions, even sparking some incense as she chanted (and was summarily put out by a small hovering Silica Animus with a fire extinguisher). She offered Harry the task of trying, which he accepted with the sign of The Cog - a clenched fist, with a flat, splayed hand behind it. Without hesitation or noise, the door opened - apparently, the Mechanicus had once ran this vessel, though it was unlike anything any living Tech-Priest had ever seen. The corridors were smooth, pearlescent white, made of some unknown substance (almost like translucent white plastic, though infinitely stronger).

As they worked their way through the corridors, Claudia received a vox-call from one of the other Explorators - none of the other teams had left their shuttles, on account of the Men of Iron. Claudia explained they were safe to approach, though not to let any of them come to harm - just in case.

In no time at all, one of the Tech-Priests had located some kind of access port - he believed he could attempt to use his MIU (Mind Impulse Unit) to interface with the machine, but feared the results. Harry, however, stepped forward bravely, though only under the caveat that someone be ready to shoot him should some wretched tainted A.I. infect him with its cyberExplorators to follow suit, and they each memorised a set of the schematics.

The exploration of the ship carried on at a much faster pace, now the crew knew what they were searching for - while the Lord-Captain was interested in finding the bridge and getting the old boat moving, the other teams were to locate the engine room, the storage areas, and the crew quarters respectively.

The crew quarters were found first - and judging by the somewhat spartan look of them, along with effigies of the Omnissah and other Mechanicus effects on the place, they deduced this might, at some point, have been a scientific vessel. Not much else could be taken from them. The storage areas (which they learned made up the lower third or so of the ship) had a variety of items - from fresh fruit and veg held in great stasis chambers, to clothing made of some odd, semi-metallic substance (picture retro-future "spaceclothes"), to unusual samples of a bewildering variety of materials. Most of the holds were empty, and it seemed the ones on use were clumped together near one side.

The bridge and engine room proved to be somewhat more unusual. The engine room (they could only deduce its function form the labelling on the schematics) was a large sphere, in the dead-centre of the ship - criss-crossed with spindly platforms, and the interior wall coated in strange studs. The schematics showed that each stud contained a collection of power cables and other assorted bits and pieces, stretching out through the ship, spidering their way through the systems like blood vessels from a heart. After attempting many, many different rituals and benedictions, the Explorator managed to locate the "On" button by falling over onto a console and nudging it with his elbow. In the centre of the sphere, seemingly unsupported, a small ball of light appeared, with wisps of vapour flowing from it into the studs. All over the ship, systems that had been dormant seemed to flare to life, lending the place a pleasant warm glow.

In the bridge, the Lord-Captain was having a nosey when something caught her eye - a corridor that wasn't covered by the schematic maps. In fact, it seemed to be a small "negative" space on the map - nothing there at all. Always the inquisitive type,  she decided to investigate. Picking her way through a darkened corridor to a room light only with red emergency lighting, she found a most unusual sight - a series on "passenger" stasis pods, each bearing a single occupant - bar one, which was broken. The inhabitants were varied - one was heavily tattooed, lean and cruel looking, one was obviously a Lady of some class, one even appeared to be an ancient Tech-Priest (or something similar) - but one in particular caught her eye.

The figure inside was huge - at least 7 feet.  He was muscled in ways that Claudia had never seen, and bore battle scars that no man should have been able to survive. Within an instant she was sure she stood in the presence of an Astartes - one of the Emperor's Space Marines. Many fevered prayers to the Emperor were shared amongst the crew.

Harry the Heretek confirmed that the pods were still active, and running on emergency power - the inhabitants might even be woken up, should they take care. Claudia called as many of the Explorators and Tech-Priests on the ship as she could, and they began the delicate process of extracting the first inhabitant - the heavily tattooed man, bearing the hallmarks of a Hive ganger. As they brought him round (somewhat in shock), they worked on getting the others out as well. All seemed to be alright, despite many thousands of years in stasis.

By the time they finally got around to awakening the Astartes, the Captain's excitement was palpable. She watched eagerly as the field was turned off, the door to the pod sliding back...

And within seconds, a hand shot out from the pod, grabbing the nearest Tech-Priest by the face-plate and squeezing.

"Who are you?"

The Space Marine's deep, basso voice near enough caused a holy terror amongst the crew.

So, my players has been asking to recruit a Space Marine for some time - she got the idea when she heard one of her friends was running a pre-Heresy game using Deathwatch. So, here's her big chance!

Thursday, 23 February 2012


The appeal of the Clockwork Nirvana is easy to see, to some - a place of true order, a stunning vista of cogs, each containing a set of the unusual denizens of the Plane. Those who dedicate their lives to upholding the Law (whether lawmen, Guvnors, or scientists/wizards/sciencewizards) find the rhythmic grinding of the Cogs to be the most peaceful noise in the Multiverse. Many migrate to Mechanus before they shuffle of the mortal coil (and onto an immortal Cog), settling themselves on one of the outer cogs. The essence of the Plane can affect them, and their descendants, leading to the Mechanus-Touched.

Mechanus-Touched are strange beings. While many (to start) simply look like "perfect" version of their parent species (no blemishes, perfectly symmetrical features), there are a few things that set them apart. Firstly, their skin has an odd, metallic sheen to it - rendering it anything from pure porcelain white to deep, dark burnished copper (there are even a few rare Mechanus-Touched goblins, whose skin resembles verdigris). Few have any hair - those who do tend to keep it short and practical, though those with long hair have been noted to look like they were growing wiring or coiled springs from their heads and faces. They have angular features and a "solemn" caste to their features.

However, their natural appearance is nothing compared to the steps many take upon reaching adulthood. In order to feel a greater connection to their "home" Plane, many begin replacing parts of themselves with machinery, animated through magic. These are crafted to perfectly fit with their individual colouration and shape, meaning that they might even go unnoticed aside from close scrutiny. However, for every hand that could pass as natural, there are those with great Modron-like legs, or sections of their torso replaced with open clockwork. While such sights are somewhat accepted on the Planes, it is advisable to disguise such variances when on the Prime Material Plane - Primes can be a little jumpy over those who are so heavily modified.

While physically, they may end up divergent, in personality, they are incredibly similar - so similar, in fact, that many theorise they may have some link to the Modron "collective consciousness" or "Hive Mind" (or perhaps have formed one for themselves). They are polite to a fault, Lawful to a tee, and very hesitant to act rashly. Some have been known to spend days planning for a small decision, pouring over figures and models, devouring as much information as they can before finally managing to make their mind up. Most end up in positions of accountancy, where their skills and natural talent with numbers can be put to good use.

Several Mechanus-Touched hold down lives in Sigil - mostly as Guvnors or lawyers. One in particular who is well known is Alus Alpha-Six, a Mechanus-Touched Gnome who controls the day-to-day comings and goings of the City Court or The Courthouse, the Fraternity of Order's headquarters in Sigil. Alus Alpha-Six (he politely requests you use his full designation) acts as a mix of secretary and PDA for the current Factol (and has served in this role to a few factols over the past two-hundred and ninety-two years, five months and twelve days). He is small, with skin the colour of very well-kept copper, with perfectly Gnomish features. His left hand had been replaced with a mechanical contraption that can act as either a hand or (with a flick of the wrist) a quill (pre-inked), a dagger, or a wand (he'll pick one or two useful spells each morning to prepare).

Thursday, 16 February 2012

More Planetouched: Ysgard-Touched

Ysgard-Touched are the heroes and villains of great sagas and epic tales - whether they want to be or not. Ysgard is a place of eternal battle, where the mightiest of men prove their valour and courage forevermore.

Many settlers here come to be closer to their Gods, though some find themselves here for the challenge of proving themselves to the locals. As usual, Ysgard-Touched are mainly human, though Orcs, Half-Orcs, Dwarves, Goliaths, and other "barbaric" humanoids (of Good or Neutral alignment) frequently settle here.

Your average Ysgard-Touched is tall, strappingly-built, and damn handsome (or pretty, for the females - though there are a higher amount of masculine-looking Ysgard-Touched than in most populations). They normally grown their hair long, and it comes in shades of red, black or brown, frequently in wild curls and braids. They hold the Plane's sense of heroism in their hearts - they are friendly (if boisterous), stoic (if prone to manic periods of happiness), and valorous (if occasionally prone to great rages).

Many are adept on one particular field, to almost superhuman levels - where one is "the strongest in the land", another is smart, some are fast, or wise, etc. - much in the manner of great heroes of folk-tales. Some are just plain all-rounders - not as great as their fellows, but pretty decent in all areas of application. These are frequently achieved through perseverance and hard work - though equally, the man who does nothing but drink and whore can find himself easily the strongest of his fellows.

Personality-wise, your average Ysgard-Touched can vary - from the great stoic warrior, taciturn and reserved until he hits the battlefield, to the great charmers, expert storytellers and Skalds. Most sit somewhere between these two extremes - they are mostly personable, happy people, always wanting for competition and a chance to prove themselves. They follow a strong oral tradition, and can often be heard reciting great epics, or quoting the deeds and sayings of great heroes past.

Most will, at some point in their life, become adventurers - the chance to prove themselves as great heroes is too strong to ignore. Most are trained from an early age to swing a blade, move well in armour, and shoot a bow - indeed, by the time they reach their teens, they are expected to have taken part in a hunt and bloodied a beast. Many will take very physical paths, such as athletes and warriors, and will be as competitive as they can be about their chosen pursuit. Few, however, take to magic with any great focus - it is seen as "untrustworthy" for mortals to wield, and generally the provenance of Powers and their Proxies to be flinging magic around.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


A slightly less common form of Planetouched, Beastlands-Touched are usually wild animals - bigger, stronger, more intelligent, more... real than others of their kind. However, some humanoid creatures wish to feel more in touch with Nature, and decide to move out to the Beastlands. Mainly, it's Humans, Elves, Gnomes, and Orcs, but really, any creature may become Beastlands-Touched.

These Beastlands-Touched are animalistic, atavistic, and can vary right through from kind-hearted souls to savage hunters. Oddly, while the Plane itself is considered Good, many of its inhabitants come closer to Neutral, but then again, it's somewhat less strict than other Planes, and leans towards the Chaotic side more than anything else.

Physically, some are simply more than human - they adorn themselves with the spirits and shades of a totem animal, taking their features. So, the Leopard Totems are fast, cunning creatures, while Bear Totems are strong, tough and fearless. Some take this farther, taking physical aspects of their Totem - from animalistic features (we've all seen that dude who looks like an eagle, etc.) right through to the odd man/animal hybrids (though these are exceedingly rare, requiring sacrificing a large chunk of humanity to join so thoroughly with their Totem). Most will take at least a behaviour of their totem animal (so, Wolf Totems will be cunning and territorial, Snake Totems will be inclined towards stealth, and striking at just the right moment, etc).

Mentally, many are concerned with the upholding of Nature's order, and feel only a slight compulsion towards aspects of "Good" and "Evil". They don't have a "standard" mindset like many other Planetouched - there are simply too many animals to follow, and too many viewpoints to see the world.

Some Beastlands-Touched end up in service to the Animal Lords of their Totem, held aloft as powerful warriors and champions of their species. Some are sent on missions of great import to other Planes by their Lords, while others are possessed of a natural wanderlust, finding their way across the Planes in search of adventure. Regardless, despite their rarity, they can turn up just about anywhere.

In Sigil, one of the most well-known Beastlands-Touched is Shaasi Lightfoot, a Cat-Totem dancer (and part-time burglar) who works out of several of the local taverns, singing and dancing for coin (and then taking a few valuables in the dead of night). Lesser known outside of "urban legend" is Ithaliel, an Elf who was taken in by Ananzi, the Spider Lord, and has slowly but surely taken on aspects of his Totem. He managed to escape, disgusted by what he had become (on his Prime, Elves had maintained a thousand-year all-out war with the Spider-worshipping Drow). Now, this half-spider creature lurks in the darkest corners of the Hive Ward, scraping out survival in the hopes that he can find a way to reverse his condition.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


The Tarterian Depths are a soulless place, where Evil is the main driving force. Few (bar The Revolutionary League) would ever choose to live on Carceri, but some have no choice - whether they were accidentally Plane Shifted, or fell through the wrong colour pool at the wrong time. Some even came in large enough numbers to have children, even attempt to settle down - though they soon learned to regret their mistake.

Physically, many appear slight and even weak by average standards - but they have an avaricious cunning that more than makes up for it. Most often, they have a cruel caste to their features - a permanent "smirk" like they're going to fuck someone over, but they just haven't decided who yet. Thin mouths filled with teeth that are far too sharp , eyes which seem to glow with the tiniest hint of inner red light, grey-ish or chalk-like skin and minor disfigurements (such as claw-like hands or nails, forked tongues, vestigial tails, heterochromia, warped bodily proportions) are also all features commonly found on Carceri-Touched.

Carceri-Touched are driven by their greed and selfishness. While many people believe they are the centre of the multiverse, your average Carceri-Touched takes this to heart - believing themselves to be the most important as well (after all, how could the Multiverse exist without him?). They don't see other people as "real" - just further aspects of the rest of the universe as it revolves around them. As such, they have no qualms about killing or stealing from people - but believe heartily in revenge upon those who would dare think do the same to them. They are, to their core, Neutral Evil - the exemplars of greed. Many are also somewhat convinced that their existence is defined by suffering - whether feeling it, or sharing it with others.

In Sigil, many join The Fated, abusing the philosophies of their brothers to no end, while some become Doomguard or join the Bleak Cabal. Where they can, they will try and get themselves into positions of power, so that they might gain as much for themselves as they can, and to better cause suffering for it. Many become adventurers out of sheer avarice. or some cruel desire to spread the suffering of their existence out to others.

In Sigil, there is one Carceri-Touched of some importance - Talath Blacktooth, a Carceri-Touched Halfling who has (apparently) just made himself the first Cleric of... himself. He teaches a form of Enlightened Self Interest to those he finds interesting (or wants to rip off later), and encourages the local Barmies to worship him where he can.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Planetouched: Limbo-Touched

So, previously, I looked at some of the Lesser Planetouched (like Tieflings and Aasimar), but one of the ideas that kinda stuck with me was those who were more touched by the essence of a Plane (similarly to Genasi) than having interbred with its inhabitants.

Take Limbo - a place of pure madness, creation, and weirdo giant frog-things.

Purple Bicycle Nfllarg!

The Limbo-Touched are an odd lot. You might mistake them for random Barmies or Xaositects, from a distance - but up close, you can see some of the tell-tale signs. They are somewhat mutable in apperance - their features shift and reform ever so slightly when they react. Many have some unusual characteristic, like one eye larger than the other, unnatural skin or hair colours, or a generally misshapen apperance. Often, these will change without any real warning - though some Limbo-Touched are apparently capable of doing so using raw willpower. Even this subconscious shapeshifting leaves them tough - more often than not, wounds just don't phase the Limbo-Touched, or at least they're to batshit crazy to notice them.

Most come from Human stock, though as with all Planetouched, there is some variation - mainly Halflings, Gnomes, and Elves, although nearly any race may be affected by their stay in Limbo.

In terms of personality, they're a mixed bunch. Of course, it doesn't help that this applies to individuals as well - while one minute, they're kissing your mother, next minute they'll punch your baby. You can never truly predict what a Limbo-Touched will do next, and often, they will do everyhting within their power to ensure that their next movement is totally unexpected (learn to be fucking terrified of Limbo-Touched Sorcerers).

In Sigil, many join the ranks of the Xaositects, where their nature makes them very popular. A few join the Indeps, or just don't join a Faction at all. Most cannot hold down jobs or any form of secure arrangements - so a fair few become adventurers, brigands and thieves.

Mutable Alignment
If you use with the classic 9-point Alignment Chart, Limbo-Touched are Always Chaotic Neutral. However, each morning (or hour, or whenever the hell you please), roll on this chart:

Limbo-Touched Alignment
1 - Lawful Good
2 - Neutral Good
3 - Chaotic Good
4 - Lawful Neutral
5 - True Neutral
6 - Chaotic Neutral
7 - Lawful Evil
8 - Neutral Evil
9 - Chaotic Evil
0 - Reroll

This will be how the Limbo-Touched feels like acting. Note, this does not mean their alignment changes - just that that's what they want to do at that particular point. Remember these are closer to guidlines - they will do their best to stick to them, but could just as easily get bored and try something new.

I was gonna put up some more "crunch" for this, but in the end, I realised - I'll be using these for Risus - and if I want any other system, I can convert them as needed. Plus, I think it would really cramp their style, hooking them into any system. They're generic enough that you can re-make them for any system you might wish!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Yet Another Risus Plot-Seed: My Funny Valentine

So, in time for Valentines Day, a small "sit-rom-com" game, Risus style!

It doesn't have to be played during this over-commercialised excuse for conglomerate SuperCorps to make even more money, but it'll certainly fit a lot better.

It's the week before Valentines, and the office is abuzz with excitement. Mainly because the new intern, Sarah Sweaterpuppies, has recently (and very publicly) become single.

With her "Pale Skinned Brunette" looks, ridiculously impractical choices of office attire, and relative easy-ness, she's the prime candidate for many a man's (and quite a few women's) affections.

Now, the race is on to get her out for a romantic Valentine's Meal - but who will win?

Players should make a selection of average office-worker types (though the setting can be changed to anything from a school, the Space Commando Training Barracks, to a retirement home for extra added Funny Old People). Each players has to not only attempt to win Ms. Sweaterpuppies' affections, but also fend off the other competitors.

This will lead to lots of player-on-player Conflict - so, make the most of it!

Suggestions For Characters and Cliches
The Genius Slacker - the guy who is ridiculously talented in one aspect of operations, but has little drive to do anything but play Minesweeper or ogle co-workers while manning the coffee machine.
Cliches: Stupidly Talented/Ridiculously Bored IT Tech, Last One In and First To Leave, The Diet of KINGS (JOLT Cola and Cheetos)

The Ruthless Businessman - the guy who'd do anything to make a quick buck. Expect to see him flogging his own granny, your soul, anything to meet his targets and climb that corporate ladder.
Cliches: Acolyte of Gordon Gekko, Armani-Wearing Corporate Shark, Mean Streak a Mile Wide

The Lothario - the office man-slut. Nearly every girl in the office has had a drunken Christmas Party fumble with this guy.
Cliches: Knows What The Ladies Like, Treat 'Em Mean and Keep 'Em Keen, Sex-God in Slacks

The Hopeless Romantic - the slightly nebbish, underweight, overworked copy-boy (with the looks of a young male model) who's normally a shoe-in for "Protagonist" in these sorts of movies.
Cliches: A-dork-able Teenager, Heavily Overstretched Copy Boy, Makes a Mean Coffee

The Goth Chick - the girl who dresses outrageously at the weekends, and allows some spillover when she's in the office - tattoos peek out over the collar of her blouse, there's more piercings in her ears than most people have on their entire bodies, etc.
Cliches: Lovecraft and Witch-Hearts, Surprisingly Competent Goth Lab Tech, Can Out-Drink a Moose

Of course,these are just suggestions - feel free to twist, add and remove from them as you wish!

Now, there will be a few challenges faced by the players:

  • The first will be their co-workers. You might all work in the same cubicle farm, but that doesn't make you friends. Players can roll against each other to try and stop schemes, plots, and generally do anything they can to one-up each other. A sample conflict might be buying gifts and leaving notes - in the first round, one player might buy flowers, only to find the card swapped at the last minute with a message reading "Sorry your dog died :( " (picture her face when she sees you craning your neck to see her reaction to that), or their flowers swapped out with a far more expensive bouquet from another suitor. In the second round, they might get their gift to her, and dash the other player's plans to incapacitate them. These conflicts should stay within the realm of one-up-manship, and not spill over into physical fights (unless it would be much funnier for it to do so).
  • Next will be Sarah herself. You'd be looking to wear down her defensive cliches - whether you lay them out as "Ivory-Towered Ice Queen", "Kind-Hearted Party Girl", or "Dirty Sexy Femme Fatale", her Cliches will determine the appropriate course of action - whether it's acting the chump and taking her bait, or talking about your volunteer work at the Shelter For War-Orphaned Kittens.
  • There will also be unrelated conflicts - convincing your boss you're working, not flirting, or attempting to get to the florists and back in your incredibly restrictive lunch break. Other players may even try and add problems to these plans, adding an extra layer of conflict to the proceedings (in essence, forming a Team/Grunt Squad with the Obstacle, with the usual rules applying).
  • Once one of you secures the date, it's not plain sailing - the other players can team up and attempt to ruin your date, through the most ridiculous means possible (for this, I might advise giving the winning player a slight boost in Cliche power to avoid being hosed instantly).

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Planescape: How Do You Kill The Immortal Woman?

So, a few more NPCs that have been brewing at the back of my mind...

Tanis Vassily, The Immortal Tiefling

So, there are a few rules most cutter should follow: never short-change a Devil, never question the Lady of Pain, and never, ever gamble with anyone involved with a Power of Trickery. Sadly, Tanis ignored that last one.

A Doomguard through and through, she believes in the Power of Entropy, and began explaining it presence to some random Gnomish Cleric in her local bubhouse, when she was already well in her cups. She claimed that Entropy touched everything - people, Planes, even Powers could and one day would die, rot, and dissipate themselves into nothingness. The Cleric begged to differ, and set her a challenge.

She had to die.

Simple as that? Tanis thought she'd be a fool not to take the Cleric up on such an offer, and settled a small wager. No-one's really sure what she offered, but she seems reluctant to tell anyone.

Needless to say, she packed up her things, sorted her last requests, and had a friend ready and waiting for a quick Resurrection spell when she won the bet. She came back to the bubhouse, found the Cleric, and stabbed herself in the throat. She was, understandably, very annoyed when she awoke in the local Healer's Rest, having been saved by a passing kindly Cleric of a Power of Healing. So, she walked back into the bubhouse, found the Gnome once more, and took him outside. She scaled the side of one of the many great buildings in the Hive Ward, and dived off head first - only to be saved by a passing laundry cart. She made several more attempts, ranging from starting fights with Fiends in the street to setting up complicated "certain death" traps, as built by her on-off accomplice Rikka Thornfoot, the Kobold Traps Expert.

Each time, she found herself alive and well - weapons were blunted, arrows missed, traps failed, circumstances led to her surviving even under the least likely odds.

She later found out that the Cleric was, in fact, a Proxy of some powerful trickster God of some Prime - and he had given her a "Gift" of luck. No matter the reasoning, she would always survive her attempts to die, forevermore, till she decided to give up and admit her defeat to the Gnome.

It's now many years later, and she is still searching for a way to break her "curse" - though every attempt has so far been met with failure. She's been using this luck to help with her previous career as an adventuring Thief - and so far, it's kept her out of too much trouble.

"Blessed" by the Power of Luck* [4]
Never Trust a Tiefling (3)
Surprisingly Chipper Doomguard (3)

*Note that this should only be used when she wishes to deliberately invoke it, or influence it in some way - she does not need to roll to avoid death. The Luck God's got that covered for her. It can be used, however, to figure out how injured, embarrased, or otherwise set back she gets without dying.

I nicked the idea from Hymneth over on, which he posted up in their Adventure Hook Junction 1, wherein she was the focal point of the adventure - the players had to figure out how to kill her. I just thought I'd flesh her out, and stat her for Risus. I introduced her by having her crash through their roof, having spent the past 4 days plummeting through the Elemental Plane of Air, hoping to hit something, and eventually falling through a natural portal into Sigil, breaking her fall on steep rooftops, spouts, and finally the group's pile of cloaks and clothing.

In appearance, she's fairly short, just pushing 5 feet, with a wiry build. She has a grab-bag of Tiefling features - a reddish hue, three-inch horns, slightly pointed ears, solid black eyes and a few sharp teeth here and there. Her dark hair is normally wore in dreadlocks, tied back with a black ribbon.

Style-wise, she's all about the black - like and good Doomguard. However, she shuns some of the more sombre fashions favoured by the sect, and wears asymmetrical clothing, lots of jewellery and accessories, and a few stray piercings. She has the Doomguard symbol acid-etched on her left wrist, mostly hidden with bangles and charms.

Personality-wise, she's surprisingly cheery, cheeky,and fun-loving, for a cursed woman who thinks that eternal nothingness is the most fun thing she could be doing. She'll spend hours chatting about the finer points of Entropy, without slipping into the dour mood many Doomguard do.

She makes a great random NPC cohort, an adventure seed, or a general background character.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Role-Playing Mastery, by E.Gary Gygax

So, I found a copy of this book floating about, and I thought I'd give it a read, and write up my thoughts here.

Gygax had something that a lot of modern games, focused on interpersonal relationships and high drama, miss out on in the big picture: a real sense of fun. It's clear he loved the game he made, and the other he played. He marks out one of the big differences between RPGs and other forms of entertainment - immersion. Not just from the point of view that you are acting out your own tale,but that you have the chance to actively interact with another person's

He also looks at "The Spirit" of games - the way they are intended to be played. Here's his take on D&D...

"For example purposes (and despite already having made the point that the spirit of a game cannot be defined in so many words), I shall attempt to characterize the spirit of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game. This is a fantasy RPG predicated on the assumption that the human race, by and large, is made up of good people. Humans, with the help of their demi-human allies (dwarfs, elves, gnomes, etc.), are and should remain the predominant force in the world. They have achieved and continue to hold on to this status, despite the ever-present threat of evil, mainly because of the dedication, honor, and unselfishness of the most heroic humans and demi-humans-the characters whose roles are taken by the players of the game. Although players can take the roles of “bad guys” if they so choose, and if the game master allows it, evil exists in the game primarily as an obstacle for player characters to overcome. If they succeed in doing this, as time goes on, player characters become more experienced and more powerful - which enables them to contest successfully against increasingly stronger evil adversaries. Each character, by virtue of his or her chosen profession, has strengths and weaknesses distinctly different from those possessed by other types of characters. No single character has all the skills and resources needed to guarantee success in all endeavors; favorable results can usually only be achieved through group effort. No single player character wins, in the sense that he or she defeats all other player characters; the goal of the forces of good can only be attained through cooperation, so that victory is a group achievement rather than an individual one."

For some reason, this quote has really rung with me - I mean, it's such a succinct take on "Heroic Fantasy". It's also cool as all fuck.
I'll write up a proper review and thoughts/quotes from each chapter once I've got the chance to read the whole thing, but there you go!