A blog for The Urutsk Cycle and Related Subjects,
including the URUTSK: World of Mystery RPG.
Shipwrecked survivors of a galaxy-spanning empire (ruined when the core exploded) settle upon a wetlands world occupied by humans and other species. They then poke through ruins of their Ancient ancestors as they strive to regain space and then, starflight.
Search This Blog
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Isle of Slavers; 2e Gamma World Boxed Set; Play-by-Post Urutsk Game-
--When the adventure is played-out, I intend to reveal it here as a .pdf for your enjoyment. If it meets with your approval, I may submit it to Fight On!
My second edition Gamma World boxed set from an eBay purchase arrived today, as advertised, minus the map, but no sweat, as I still had my map. It also included 7 transparent green Gamescience dice (minus the 10's-die, plus a second d6), that I have Crayola'd white.
--Although 2e has less of an OS-feel than 1e, it is a fine and solid game-platform, and I especially like a lot of the changes and expansions to Mutations.
If I receive enough interest, I would like to run an Urutsk play-by-post game.
--I am most familiar with www.playbyweb.com, but would be open to other venues if heartily suggested.
---If interested, please leave a comment on this post to that effect.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
[Playtest Campaign] The Isle of Slavers Pt. 1-
Ship escaped island inhabited by Qetswn family >> Sighted another island >> Almost ran aground >> PCs took ship's boat to shore >> Mountain cleft in two with fresh water channel bisecting the sandy & scrub island >> fairly busy pier >> only smallcraft able to reach pier due to shallows >> press gang combat avoided >> Notice Vrun and other non-'primitives' shackled, etc. >> extortionist fees to remain free (125 count per person so long as writ in possession) >> PCs enter tavern >> Strong (grog + ale) >> Uneasy >> Tybalt inquires after securing an educated, martially-proficient, orange-skinned (a Dokirin skin colouration possibility: range from Amber to Violet) individual >> Told that, if present on island, 1800+ count cost >> Hear shouting out in the courtyard >> Identify some of the voices as those from their ship >> Combat begins >> 4 Rounds, little damage to PCs, although there is plenty of action, and weapons accidentally discarded; NPC weapon snapped by Ymyk; Delver depletes most of his lightning-ring charges frying several 2FD fighter-types >> 5th Round I am about to Crit Darius when I am recalled to home base: Father has fallen for 2nd time >> I zip back home (20+ miles) >> 2nd try gets Pops into Mom's chair in living room.
Provided next week is on, I intend on resuming combat from that point.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
[RPG] UPDATED Critical Strikes & Attack Bonus ][-
Since I allow characters to purchase Levelled-capabilities, like Attack Bonus, at one-higher than their current Character-Level, I've pushed the value back to +5 AB, which is purchasable at Character-Level 4.
Crit- | Attack Bonus-
20. | AB +1 -- +4
19+ | AB +5 -- +9
18+ | AB +10-- +14
17+ | AB +15-- +19
16+ | AB +20 <
So far, I have two very strong votes for a Critical Hit determination Chart-thingie.
--Looking at my Arduin book, I ... > sigh <
---What can I say, guys? This stuff is not attack-type specific; ranges from low-power 'paper cut' to 'body shredded: instant death'. I'd rather give weapons/attacks the power they deserve and have it pretty clear that getting shot by a Mk. VII Blaster is just absolutely going to ruin your day from the game-maths, rather than even Rolemasterean Effect Type Charts, as silly-fun as those are.
I've looked at the Avalon Hill RuneQuest Deluxe box; I've even broken out AFTERMATH!, and neither of them goes anywhere into that kind of detail.
--I'm afraid that if folks want that kind of detail, they'll have to write up their own charts or what-have-you.
[RPG] 'Give them charts!' (Location Redux)-
It has become fairly apparent that the 100 Archetypal Locations isn't going to work in the format I had originally intended, and that several charts would be the better solution.
--As it stands, including a four or five paragraph explanation, I am already up to 5k words. I know you folks don't want to read huge blocks of data only to swap-out particulars.
"Give them charts to roll on!"
You got it, or, at least, will get them.
--Fortunately, extracting the data into the new format won't be an epic undertaking.
[RPG] Distribution of Urutskan Climatic Zones-
Here is a sample of the current sub-project:
Main Entries by Urutskan Climate-
11-27 - Tundra : is a vast, stark, frozen landscape for much of the year, making it impossible for trees to grow. The bare rocky land can generally only support heath, lichen, and moss.
28-48 - Subarctic : generally consist of peat bogs, rough herbs, grasses, and sedges. Characteristic large land mammals include Utdayk (moose), Ushko (bears), Kyn (reindeer), and Shaleske (wolves).
49-65 - Taiga : defined by both ‘lichen woodlands’ bordering the Subarctic and consisting of tree spreads with lichen ground cover, and ‘closed forests’ bordering the Temperate Cool composed of densely-spaced trees with mossy ground cover. This zone is the single largest percentage of forest on the planet.
66-76 - Temperate Cool : are humid with a forest canopy composed tall mature trees, a shade tolerant understory, a sub-canopy of smaller mature trees, saplings, and suppressed juvenile trees awaiting an opening in the canopy. Below the sub-canopy is a shrub layer of low growing woody plants, and diverse ground cover.
77-84 - Continental : typically, winter temperatures are cold enough to support snow cover each year, while summer produces moderate precipitation. These regions are a mixture of forest, tall-grass prairie, and very productive farmlands.
85-86 - Temperate Warm : typified by rains throughout the year, hot and very wet summers, and mild winters with occasional cold spells. These regions are ideally suited to agriculture, especially that of citruses, grapes, melons, and olives.
87-91 - Subtropical : characteristically cool winters and hot, humid summers, with significant amounts of precipitation throughout the year in most areas. Winter rainfall is derived from large storms that westerly winds steer eastward, while summer rainfall occurs during thunderstorms, occasional tropical storms, and hurricanes/typhoons.
92-99 - Tropical : marked by high temperatures, very humid and cloudy conditions, and heavy rainfall. While winds are usually light, powerful tropical storms can be problematic. The sun is nearly overhead in these regions so it is evenly hot all year. No where else in the world are conditions as ideal for sprawling, lush warm-climate rainforests.
00 - Arid/Hyperarid : any area characterised by a net moisture deficit, and receives less than 10" annual rainfall. These climates include arid areas in temperate regions, and often appear devoid of life, but the flora and fauna have adapted to survive extremely hot days and cold nights when the temperature plummets.
The range to the left is both the percentile-die roll for random determination on the 'big map' scale of overland travel, as well as the actual percentage distribution of the various climatic zones found on Urutsk.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
[RPG] Critical Strikes & Attack Bonus-
--He didn't feel that the One Round switch-out to re-allocate Focus was enough of a balancing factor to reflect the cheaper cost, especially given the fact that AB and Fo can be used in conjunction.
He and his wargaming buddy then offered slightly more complicated ideas to make Focus more finicky, such as requiring a roll to Maintain Focus, and so forth.
--While I think that is a cool idea, I'm pretty certain that the same net effect can be achieved without adding a recurring mechanism, let alone one that requires an additional roll.
Prior to his noting that mathematical error on my part, I had been contemplating the nature of Critical Strikes, and how I wanted character skill/ability/prowess to reflect more on their frequency than the simple 'dumb luck' of rolling a 20 on the die.
--I am currently thinking of the following, or something like it:
* (AB / 2) lowers the Critical Threshold
This simply means that more proficient fighters would benefit from more frequent Critical Strikes.
AB +2: 19-20
AB +4: 18-20
AB +6: 17-20
I still plan on revising the cost of both AB and Focus, but I am asking for your input on the matter of removing pure luck from the Critical Strike.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
[Playtest Campaign] Latitude Adjustment-
LGS owner made a 3rd-Level Yaesh Archer (Mutant).
Ashta and Mela Mela were the early focus and as they and the rest of the party made their way across the Ocean of Storms, the galleon-style craft encountered 30' swells.
--The seas of the eastern-most Windswept Straits required shallow-draught vessels particular to these waters to transport the party one one vessel, and their new furnishings and other bulky cargo (food stores) on a second. The party had three weeks to acclimatise to the humid (sub-)tropics.
Ashta, still possessing the Ring of Scorpion Control from the Lost Island adventure, took the opportunity to call five of the largest scorps she could, and received lobster-sized buggers. With them in tow, and one on her shoulder, she and Mela left the jungles and encountered an old woman, her pupil, and three young boys along the trail back into the town proper.
--The women bowed, facing the ground, and the boys couldn't help but stare at the tall and muscular, pale, platinum-blonde warrior woman who had arrived on a floating island blown there by clouds --clearly a goddess of Life and Death, with her sizeable scorpion retinue and Mela cohort. The older woman reached out and lightly grasped the hem of Ashta's cloak, which the other noticed.
---Fast Forward: Mela the alchemist/apothecary/healer diagnosed her condition as parasitic-induced liver-distress exacerbated by malnourishment. Sixteen other kinfolk of the woman came to understand that the goddess would heal them all.
Ashta served as the rally for Mela's regimen which included purchasing them several goats and the receiving chickens (or, more precisely Urutsken analogues) in reverence, and the hope that his family, too, would received the goddess' blessing.
--After four days of concoction, using scorp venom to aid in the anti-parasite meds, Mela began the treatment of 24 individuals. Three days later, she emerged from the large hovel, to find the entire village outside awaiting her. The crowd garnered the attention of a civil servant of the Imperial (WICE) Governor, who chastened her and Ashta for wasting their time on primitive lessers too foolish to learn from their superiors, and that if word spread of these 'miracles' riots would surely ensue, and the bloodshed would be upon Ashta's head (the uncouth Highlands barbarian that she is). His revulsion as a scorp crawled up onto her shoulder and began aggression-posturing was not well hidden, but he maintained his composure as he skidaddled out of the village.
---The two built a rain-collector and filtration system, and instructed the folk to use better hygiene (not letting the children drink from the animals' troughs, etc.) but the instructions were not entirely understood, and instead became a ritual procedure. The girls left after telling the villagers to spread the good news, just to spite the civserve, not really grasping the far-reaching repercussions of their decision.
Off on the two large Dhows, one day into the trip, the winds bestilled for three additional days, then a tropical storm (00 on the wind-strength table) rolled through, sinking the cargo ship, although the crew made it over to the passenger craft. The next five days were little to no wind, and the three-day food stores, now strained, failed.
--I concocted an on the spot 4d6 test where each character had to roll higher on their 4d6 to not succumb to faintness and lethargy. At first, it was Mela who was not doing well, but as Ashta began sharing her meal with the other, Ashta finally fell unconscious. Mela used her skills to cultivate quick algae and distil fresh water for the crew. Finally, a Norwester wind blew them close enough to an island for the crew and passengers to disembark. One crewman had died.
I then brought the Hun-like Yaesh Archer to the island via a fae-curse after he tried to rope a horse-woman in a placid mossy hollow in the granite hills of the pasture lands. In a flash of lightning, he was transported to a similar spot on, yes, you guessed it, that island, a world away.
--Great accented speech and acting on his part brought the ridiculous fiat back in line with the rest of the game, and his character (as yet, unnamed) began to observe the group on the beach. He observed them netting hares and began to hunt them himself. His Chameleon Powers and high Secret and Silence percentages aided him in securing three hares, the island literally coursing with them.
---He discovered a strange clearing with a cluster of odd fungus around which several large hares were circling, all in the same direction. He also found three trails made, apparently, by a crippled human. He followed one and found a shack composed of shipwreck and island materials. Eventually, the Yaesh joined the group on the beach, communicated the shack's location. They investigated.
Combat ensued when a Qetswn => KetSoon <= dashed up to Ashta and barely bit her for 1 DP through her Amazonian armour. Furious series of really good rolls failed to hit the creature's ridiculously high Defence, and then, when Ashta landed a blow, it had no effect due to needing a magic or high-energy source. The archer's mutation, however, allowed him to damage it and the relatively frail thing went down with an arrow through the soft pallet driven under its chin. It was quickly determined that the humanoid Monstrous Being was a male of the species, and its human-hair belt with golden buckle, and its bone dagger were absconded with as Ashta retreated.
--Cries of, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" from the kits in the shack led the archer to foolishly think it safe enough to retrieve a few arrows, when he saw a humanoid shadow fall across his. "I don't turn, I just run." Jumping onto a palm frond reduced his falling rate and he only sustained 9 DP upon rolling down the sloped incline of the hill before landing in a sea-grape leaf tree which snared several of his minor bits of equipment.
---The entire group grabbed what food and supplies they could and DD's back to the ship whereupon they caught that last few hours of wind --enough to carry them from the island. Two additional days of becallmed winds, and then finally enough to make it to the next inhabited and well-visited island.
We held it there.
Friday, August 21, 2009
[Playtest Campaign] Windswept Straits, Ahoy!-
At the end of the 'Find the spaceship, save the city' scenario, the PCs asked their Kherstic League patrons for a governance role.
--While I am interested in that now misty and near-mythical 'endgame win', I don't want it too soon (the Primary PCs are about 7th level, while their 2ndaries are about 5th).
To bring them up a level or two, I have plans for a piratical, island-hopping, Fort-reinforcing string of ideas to which I hope they will take well.
--Located in the Windswept Straits across the Ocean of Storms, the setting mirrors the Caribbean insomuch as that it has the peninsular Riverland area to the north/west, and a great number of islands with a melange of cultures, immediately above the Chaos Isles that are the rough analogue of a detached South America (roughly to southern Brazil). These islands and isles, keys, and sand bars are inhabited by the fierce and generally insane Khark, and their high-born cousins, the Kaukara ('World-Wise Ones').
Neither a Columbian apologist, nor a Columbian hater, I hope to illustrate the difficulties of attempting to bridge such radically different cultures, should the party (eventually? Inevitably?) cross their path.
--Meanwhile, the Western Isles Concord Empire (WICE) fortifications in the region, rife with VCA and Federated City Council (etc.) intrigues, as well as the occasional sorcerer(ess), and plantation uprising will hopefully hold their attention and drive them closer to their desired goal of becoming Stronghold Builders and Governors in their own right.
An after-action report this weekend or Monday.
Have fun gaming! :D
Thursday, August 20, 2009
[RPG] New material for Referee's Manual underway-
Case in point: 100 Archetypal locations with 10 sub-headings each, all to be utilised on the spot, or Empyrean-forbid, used in prep-work by the Ref'.
--The entries form a skeleton upon which to hang necessary scraps of meat as the questions are asked, or the events necessitate their delineation.
---Even with 100 locations, it would be easy to tire of the repetition. That's where the ten sub-headings come in. Each can be quickly adjusted, thus expanding the full kettle to a base of 1k discrete locales.
Each gives a gloss on: 1). environment, 2). resources, 3). security of locale, 4). culture, 5). artefacts, 6). relation to other locales, 7). beliefs, 8). peace/prosperity or lack thereof, 9). population's feelings regarding the government, and 10). the degree of power the government holds over the population.
--All of the above is generic and independent of Terrain rolls, and has no intrinsic effect upon Encounters.
---I write my usual encouragement/empowerment bit hoping to free folks from literalistic enslavement to RaW and die rolls, while still providing enough meat to sate a beast.
I'll be busy with this for a bit.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
[Gaming] An Unused Play By Web Character-
--What a waste.
Character (c) Copyright 2007 Kyrinn S. Eis
Dame Raquel Malfoy-
The Dame stands 5'6" and still retains her dancer's figure. She is wont to wear a reinforced bodice regardless of her other elements of dress. While she is entirely comfortable in proper society, amongst lessers she scandalously wears trousers of buckskin leather, and the high, soft boots en vogue with musketeers.
Upon her hips are crossed belts, one which hangs with the trusty rapier she often makes final negotiations, and the other with its sister main gauche parrying blade/sword breaker.
Her descent is perhaps Alsatian, as it clearly favours more Germanic features than Gaulic. However, her French is flawless and harkens to Provence. Her Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, and Scots Gaelic are also all flavoured with native accents. The few who have ever heard her speak German may have realised a more Boehm-inflection before their death.
When the Dame speaks English, it is with a noticeable French accent. Her Latin is Classical.
The Dame's ship is named, Nephthys, and is a shallow-draught, mixed-rigging vessel with a more than reasonable cargo hold to its small crew size. It bristles with Culverin mounts and Demi-Culverin emplacements. The Dame prefers grapeshot, so as to minimise the damage to vessels she boards.
In no way does Dame Malfoy disguise her casual disregard for human life.
Her sorcery is based upon many long decades of research from such diverse sources as tribal witchdoctors of Africa, to Oriental Alchemy and Black Magic, to more commonplace Kabbalistic and Sumerian/Babylonian mysticism and theurgy.
Raquel is a false name, which is a private joke, referencing the term, Rake-hell; one who stokes the flames of hell through their wanton lifestyle. In truth, the woman has long ago abandoned carnal excess for the power she has gained through her studies and the few pacts to which she has bound herself. When she feels she needs to act the tart, or the sly woman of the world, she does so with practised skill.
Of late, after the discovery that her last child had taken to the life of a pirate, and been hanged for the offence, the Dame has begun to soften. At present, she toys with the idea of founding a nation free from all social constraints, where all humans, even the black and red primitives and yellow heathen can live without fear of the Church. She has Florida in mind for this notion, and has made inroads to deal with the pirates which frequent the so-called Keys, and the Ten Thousand Islands of the south-west of the peninsula.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Vicarious GenCon Loot-
* a set of teal opaque Gamescience dice (getting a black Crayola treatment)
* Fiegel & Grayson's HELLAS: Warriors of Sun and Stone (Omni System) [VERY nice]
* a silly Troll Lord Games Dungeon Mapping Sheets quadrille pad (with Key at the bottom of each page)
Monday, August 17, 2009
[Playtest Campaign] Off to new adventures [RPG] Art & Layout-
I will spare you the lengthy details.
--High Tech items found; Abbekqorru captain and two human crew encountered; ship prevented from detonating; infected Hierophantic Church faction encountered; extra-dimensional gateway being studied by the Kherstic League; characters to be rewarded with a higher position in the organisation.
The LGS owner, and one of his room mates, have expressed an interest in joining the game, so, if that happens, the game looks like it may survive the loss of the Ray-man. We'll see how it survives others' school schedules.
--I hope the other set of players I ran for will not be a one shot
Peter Mullen has recently sent me six or seven black and white pieces for the interior, out of the 35 I have envisaged, and they look mighty fine.
--Their placement will ultimately determine the layout of the Manuals.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
[RPG] "Who Let Slip the Dogs of War?" -or- "The Hunters, Hunted"-
--They decided to use the Point-Design system (7k points -- making them 3rd Level), and so we had the full bells-and-whistles experience. Derek decided to play a mutant Durn divine spellcaster, and spent a long time tweaking that aspect, although the other two had been finished for a good 20-25 minutes.
---That said, the spellcaster had enormous flexibility and utility with a fire-based theme.
The scenario took place on The Fortifications of Wlor, just off the northern cost of the Durn continent, and involved the human Western Isles treasure-/big-game hunter and his mutant Yaesh fellow hunter searching for large flightless birds. They had travelled from Vrun Berror aboard a tramp freighter and had encountered ethnic and political antipathy from the miscreant crew. Their dinghy ride to shore was in the company of a Dokirin woman who had sequestered herself in her stateroom to avoid worse treatment.
--The fishing pier to the southeast of the main port was operated by the Guild Council fishermen, and quickly the group fell afoul of local roughs at a drinking and seafood shack at 1AM. A somewhat comical smakdown was lain upon the goons, and the band of four decided to investigate the portion of the island in the direction the non-Durn gangers had come. A second fight changed the tune as two Critical Hits dropped party members (although they were healed by Derek's character and the Dokirin NPC), and the surviving enemy fled as best possible while pursued.
---Further reconnaissance marked out the gang's complex near the island dictator's fortress (which should have been a clue), which the party avoided, and they instead found lodging in a very run-down place overlooking the quaint squalor of the main city. Their morning to afternoon rest found the party refreshed and ready for more troublefinding.
Purchasing three bottles of the best local hootch and eight commemorative shot glasses, the party took off once again, to a location advertised on a handbill stuffed under all the doors of the lodging. The indicated route took visitors past the gang's complex, and the party were justifiably wary. Returning to the foot of the hill at which the previous fight had taken place, looking for bound gangers, the group instead witnessed the gang members being rescued by a large group of well-armed government forces, whom the party avoided as they pressed on to examine the site marked on the map.
--Unbeknownst to them, the party was being observed from a higher altitude upon the sloping terrain. They then chanced upon a clearing filled with 60+ troops, in the process of torture and rape against foreigners who vaguely resembled the N/PCs. Trying to stealthily creep out of the clearing before being noticed, the party members were ambushed by their pursuers, one armed with a reciprocating heavy coilstock, the other with a 'hand-choppa' light coilstock. The fight was one marked by wounds on both sides; a successful death-from-above strike by the Western Isles hunter that flung the reciprocator-gunner down the slope and broke his neck; a desperate battle for the reciprocator as the Yaesh hunter was wounded with two bolts in his leg, hobbling downhill and the Durn battle-priest following after him in the hopes of escaping the fighting and healing his wounded companion. Those two made it to concealment, and the wounds were healed.
---The Dokirin woman had demonstrated that she possessed a cloak of Improved Invisibility in the first fight back at the shack, and had disappeared before this battle. The Great White Hunter desperately battled for control of the reciprocator and was discovered by troops from the encampment whereupon a second running battle and escape and evasion was played out against a large portion of the troops, while the other two PCs were E&Eing it further northeast, constantly being discovered by their pursuers.
Heading back toward the populated side of the island, WI hunter always managed to escape death, although wounded and hounded by 30+ paramilitary troops. He spotted smoke from the gang's complex, and as he continued to hug the curvature of the hillside, began to see emaciated Vrun fleeing from that direction. Most (women and children alike) were mowed down by the paramilitary that chanced upon them, but a few escaped when an explosion took out all but two of the tightly clustered search party (the survivors had arms blown off and quickly died).
--Meanwhile, at the other end of the island, the two PCs were constantly beset upon by their hunters, but managed to enter the thick palm forest and hide; the government forces unwilling to enter the terrain.
---The WI hunter was reunited with the Dokirin woman, Dasuel (who had initially claimed to 'document wildlife for the Federated Cities Council' of Marnharnnna) who was responsible for liberating the captives at the complex. Together with the fortunate survivors, they fled upon a fishing sail boat out to a larger vessel awaiting them. It turned out to be a Vrun Continental Authority naval ship and when the rest of the party's plight was explained, a rescue mission was initiated after dark. Villagers helped the two stranded PCs in exchange for blessings, and the VCA commandos rendered medical aid before departing with them.
Official VCA thanks, 500 count (each), and 1300 XP (each) was the reward.
--There is talk of playing again, soon.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
[RPG] James Hargrove's UWoM (p)review-
Friday, July 24, 2009
Urutsk: Petal Thrones For The New Millenium?Posted by James at 3:33 PM
I stumbled across this the other day and committed to blog about it when I had some free time, so here I am. The brainchild of Kyrinn S. Eis, Urutsk is a strange, alien, fantasy world that isn't easily compared to simple medieval analogues such as Greyhawk or The Forgotten Realms. Characters play mutated humans (the product of eugenics) in a strange world populated by giant bugs and other beasties more befitting a Science Fiction novel than Medieval Europe.
While Urutsk isn't yet finished, the naming conventions of the setting, the mechanics, and the flavor text all combine to create an offering unlike anything else to have risen from the Old School Renaissance. Urutsk isn't just another clone. It manages to be fresh, exciting, and new — while also harkening back to the strange, alien, wonder of TSR's second oldest role playing game. If you get a chance, you simply must give Urutsk a look.
I chanced upon the post and was rather cheered by it.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
[Gaming] SO's 3.5 and Rackham's AT-43-
* 3.5: Wolf-shifter Elf and my this-that-and-everything character scout up to the outskirts of 'Gaehile' > sp? < (Wilderlands of High Fantasy), and my PC remains somewhat hidden while he goes back to fetch the rest of the party. Hobgobs detect me, and a fight erupts, a horn is sounded, reinforcements arrive as the party enters this alleyway. Classic error on our part. We slog through the first wave (my remarkable hits were met with crummy damage) and soon we are really taking hits left and right. Two party members each break to either side and flush out the Hobgob archers pincussioning us as their better armoured buddies stop the rest of us in our tracks. We eventually waste the first wave and move a bit just as the reinforcements begin to perforate my PC to within 3 of unconsciousness. The fight really engaged us, and she felt pretty good afterwards. --We said our fare-thee-well's to 'Ray', and headed for the other LGS.
* AT-43: Bought about $100 of 3 for 2 deals, and now have four of the (5?) faction Army Books. I purchased the Twins and Urod for my Red Bloc faction after using them in our intro-game a couple of weeks ago; picked up the MedTec set (2 busty nurses, and a doctor, plus a few cargo boxes as dressing); and purchased my SO a King Buggy flying vehicle for her Karman Gorilla faction.
--We played, and I had the twins piloting Urod alongside my much liked UNA Wing Troopers (Jump Packs) in a joint anti-Ape mission. Since this was our first unsupervised game, we had to dig around and find rules, making it a 3+ hour experience, but some of that was purchasing stuff, etc.
---I won this one (Urod with the Twins is a really tough cookie) with only two UNA troopers lost, to her entire force killed and the Buggy 'esplowded'.
* Thoughts on the two combats: While this is an 'Apples-to-Oranges' comparison, I'd say that the flexibility of the RPG, especially one in which the non-combatants Wizard was forced to crossbow a lot, and my 'not-a-meleer' only affected one Hobgob with Colour Spray, and thereafter missed with Acid Splash, and hit for 1 HP with Ray of Frost, reinforced the fun chaos of largely uncoordinated fights (arising from the on-the-fly stop-gapping and 'flanking'), while demonstrating how crazy it is for goobers like PCs to be doing the business of grunts and grogs.
--AT-43, for the variety of gear/attacks/movement capabilities the units possess, illustrated how deadly tight clusters of troops can be when 'bad stuff goes down' in their area. Fortunately, SO's last-stand AoE attack against my troopers wouldn't have been able to wipe them out due to the 6cm Command Radius and the standard wargamey rule that the Commander is the last figure to die, even with a drift, but still, it could have been messier. Likewise, Eligibility for Cover saved my UNAs (minus one) while my propitious Overwatch took out two of her damned dirty stinking apes pretty early on.
:: Which do I prefer?
--Lemonade. No, seriously. I like running in a more martially-informed RPG crew who are also quick-enough to adapt to new circumstances and be able to operate as meaningful detachments for as long as necessary, or conducive, before shoring up again and pressing on.
The Troll combat from last Friday, in which I got to illustrate the grogs' more tactical understanding (holding the chokepoint with a heavy flamer, while coilstock archers were harrassing the caster and his guard, made the PCs' defending those elements with melee support a really nicely oiled death machine ('skill + chance' as another blog has mentioned the wisdom of Ken St. Andre).
--I am hoping that as the SO GMs more, and plays AT-43, more, her playing tactically in my game will be a natural outgrowth.
I love the challenge. :)
Monday, August 10, 2009
Fluff Placement- (Poll closed)
Sunday, August 9, 2009
[Playtest Campaign][Gaming] Two Games in Two Days-
The party, minus Delver/CiCi's player (I played them) covered four sub-levels (a subterranean tower of sorts), down to a port with cryo-sleep bays (five occupied, three intact), and learnt a bit more of the history of Qerzyk.
--They are now faced with the option of leaving with an Abbekqorru spaceship captain and his two surviving human crew (one male, one female), or finish their prescribed mission from the Kherstic League to prevent the ship from departing the sea-cave port facility.
During their delve, they faced a horribly-'virulent' fungal plague (almost lost a PC to it twice); two armed Trolls with a Human-Troll spell-caster; a psychic artefact that contacted an Outer Leviathan who possessed the character who was killed (the same guy who'd previously telepathically contacted the Aelbaan and had lost his prior body), before the party members who were able to resist his Empathy-induced fear-effect, killed him.
--They found heli-coil ammunition canisters for bullpup weapons of the Ancients; 5 space-suits; four small fire-extinguishers; 15 'bullpup pistols' not really designed to fire from those larger heli-coils (much lower reliability: Fumble on a 01-05); and sundry items like disinfectant wipe pouches (hundreds of them), and spoiled concentrated rations, and partially-decayed utensil + spices packages.
I was in P_Armstrong's Saturday-night Skype B/X game, and had a good time.
--We had 6 characters (five players), plus Mr. Armstrong hosting the Gametable and Skype connections.
* Harpy: Vanquished in one Round, and a positive contact gained in Shewolf.
Next game scheduled for a fortnight.
Friday, August 7, 2009
crawls back into sarcophagus
Today, I'll be equipped with my trusty polyhedral dice and a few choice maps, in the hopes of wowing folks with the game.
Have a good Friday/etc.
--Catch you later.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
[Blogosphere][Gaming] Gardens of Delight- (updated)
Your humour, interests, passions, and rants often inspire my commentary (however tangential or insipid) and more than occasionally, I find myself creatively inspired.
Reading Ryan's Save vs. Poison, today, I was inspired to define Blue Lotus flower in gaming terms in a comment.
--Here I present it, and a few other botanicals (over the course of the day) in Urutsk gaming terms:
* Blue Lotus-
:: is both a vasodilator (good for the menfolks) and a relaxant.
Usage: Smoked, or ingested decoction/infusion.
Critical Test: Health at +2 to overcome effects; otherwise (45 minutes - Physique score) duration per dose.
-1 on Initiative
-1 on Certitude, Reasoning, and Balance Tests
+1 per die damage suffered from Edged weapons due to increased blood flow
+2 on Leverage and Constitution Tests
+1 on Resolve, and any sort of 'creativity' Tests
:: Blue Lotus flower, by itself, is a mild relaxant and generally improves the mood of the smoker or imbiber, without having a deleterious narcotic effect. It is also used in an aphrodisiacal application (and often in conjunction with other preparations) for males due to the increased blood flow that it enables.
:: When used in conjunction with other botanicals, increases their overall effect by roughly 20%, largely through the vasodilation action.
:: The smoke is a slightly musty and rather dense affair, while the teas or wines made with the leaves have a pleasant, if herbal taste.
25 dct per 1.5 oz. of dried flowers
:: is a moderate relaxant, and a mild hallucinogen.
Usage: Ingested (also as decoction/infusion), or Smoked.
Critical Test: Health to overcome effects; otherwise (45 minutes - Physique score) duration per dose, although the potency of the plant may impose a higher Threshold, or increase the duration. Ingesting the plant requires 2 to 3x the normal amount to be smoked, but does impose a 22 or higher Threshold, and depending on the amount ingested, can extend the duration of the effect for hours.
-2 on Initiative
-2 on Reasoning, and Balance Tests
+1 on Certitude Tests and Experience Critical Tests
+2 on Resolve, and any sort of 'creativity' Tests
:: Five-frond is a medicinal plant with multifarious applications, raging from pain-reliever to diuretic, as well as calming the digestive tract and increasing appetite. It is also used in many spiritual applications, whether directly ingested or inhaled, or in incense.
:: Virtually every Human ethnicity and Humanoid tribe uses Five-frond in some capacity, from the simple recreational relaxant, to the complex alchemical concoction.
:: It has an extremely low toxicity level to its effective dosage strength, and it is virtually impossible to suffer physical toxicity effects. However, even mild dosages of highly potent plants can induce a profound and varied array of psychological effects upon the user. These may be benign or even beneficial, or may be a terrifying and nightmarish mishmash of confused images and deep-seated fears represented in iconic plays of the imagination. In general, the less experience one has with this plant's effects, the more extreme the effect (one way or the other), while habitual users (recreational or shamanic) often feel they gain deep insights through the use.
5 cct per 1 oz. of commercially grown and cultivated dried vegetative buds (ubiquitous growth throughout Urutsk's temperate or warmer climes, or cultivated indoors in Arctic northern climates. The Black Crown has enormous hot-house production fields under Black Glass enclosures in the vast undisturbed frozen north.), otherwise, free.
* Hkraff Leaf-
:: acts as a vasoconstrictor, a stimulant, and a relaxant, based on speed of intake.
Usage: Chewed, Smoked, or Snorted.
Critical Test: Health with 22 Threshold to overcome effects; otherwise (30 minutes - Physique score) duration per dose.
-1 on Certitude, Reasoning if dosage missed, until next dosage
-1 per die damage suffered from Edged weapons due to decreased blood flow
+1 on Resolve (-1, instead, if dosage is missed)
:: Hkraff is an unusual botanical in that it offers very little benefit (or perceived benefit), until the addict is under its sway.
:: While it can be used as a stimulant, by taking in small, sharp breaths (or bumps of it nasally), if longer draws of the smoke are inhaled, it instead acts as a whole body relaxant.
:: The third usage, most popular with work crews, soldiers, and long-haul merchants, is that of a slow-release 'chew' placed between gums and lip, usually of the lower palate, with the toxic juices produced in the saliva, spat out.
:: Ingesting dried Hkraff leaf, will act as a purgative within (1d4 + Constitution) minutes.
:: Eating the green plant has limited nutritional value, but is most often prescribed medicinally to act as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory.
:: Those who have become chemically dependant upon Hkraff find themselves increasingly more irritable as the span between dosages increases. If the individual is a highly irritable or nervous one before Hkraff usage, the intensity of their mood will only increase as the supply in their system decreases. This fact alone makes 'kicking the habit' especially unpleasant for the afflicted.
:: The first time, and every time thereafter that Hkraff is taken into the system in an non-purgative or low-dose medicinal application, the individual must make an unmodified Health Critical Test, or become addicted.
:: Treating Hkraff addiction is generally best accomplished through the use of Catnip or Five-frond, with the substitute gradually increased and the Hkraff gradually reduced and finally eliminated entirely.
5 ct per 3 oz. of dried leaves, shredded
:: is a powerful medicinal with strong hallucinogenic effects.
Usage: Ingested (pill formulation) or Insinuated (via needle or actual syringe).
Critical Test: Health with 25 Threshold to overcome effects; otherwise (3d6 days - Physique score) duration per dose.
+1 on Initiative
+1 on Certitude, Reasoning, and Balance Tests
-3 on Leverage and Constitution Tests
:: Klahs is a rare compound formed of three different fungi (one subterranean, and two high-altitude lichen). The formulation is difficult to achieve due to the rapid decomposition of the fungus.
:: When administered through insinuation, the subject begins to feel the psychogenic effects within the hour if the resistance Threshold is not met or exceeded. This results in what seem to be optical illusions and auditory hallucinations. In reality, these symptoms are cursory Psychic effects as the subject's brain is being altered, and new neural connections are being formed. At the end of the first (few) doses, the subject becomes increasingly synesthetic (experiencing multiple sense feedback to stimuli, such as hearing light, or smelling colour, etc.).
:: After roughly seven successful treatments (as the formulation rapidly breaks down and must be prepared every other day or so), the subject gains 1d3 beneficial mental aberrations, and 1 detrimental physical aberration (the total value of which is not to exceed 2,400 points, if the construction method is employed). Ingested formulations require roughly two to three times the number of doses to achieve the same results, although the first few will produce considerable, and long-lasting hallucinations along with the synesthetic effects.
:: When the initial treatment has run its course, the subject will find that the beneficial aberrations must be maintained through future daily doses. Without this regimen, the beneficial aberrations rapidly diminish, and they are left with a feeling of psychic vacancy, as well as an exaggerated awareness of their gained detrimental aberration, effectively raising the Threshold of all actions by a cumulative +1 per day. Should no further doses be received for over one month, the subject usually either dies, or takes their own life.
:: If doses are administered again after a span without it being in the subject's system, it will take up to three days for full restoration of the beneficial aberrations, with the least powerful of them being restored first, and so on.
:: The above listed modifiers are essentially permanent, once the Klahs has effected aberration.
1,500 to 4,500 ct per dose, based on availability of the insinuated formulation, or one-third that price for the pill form.
:: is both a vasoconstrictor and a euphoric relaxant.
Usage: Ingested brew.
Critical Test: Health to overcome effects; otherwise (45 minutes - Physique score) duration per dose.
-1 on Initiative
-1 on Certitude, Reasoning, and Balance Tests
-1 per die damage suffered from Edged weapons due to decreased blood flow
+1 on Leverage and Constitution Tests
+1 on Resolve
:: Shaz is a fermented drink made from the roots and stalks of the Ylurn plant. It has a bitter, smoky flavour, and produces a thick 'head' of foam at the top of the mug.
:: Shaz has many different names, and uncounted local variations, including additional ingredients and varying potency. It is only slightly alcoholic in content, as the fermentation of the vegetative matter catalyses a secondary process which prevents wholesale conversion of sugars. The effect is relatively similar to alcohol inebriation, but with the added euphoria found in more exotic botanicals.
:: Shaz and its derivative blends are the usual first offering in make-peace meetings between potential rival groups.
:: Shaz is easily as psychologically 'addictive' as alcohol-abuse, but is less likely to result in morose imbibers. Sadly, it is equally impairing to motor-skills as well as the imbiber's judgement.
5 dct per 20 fl.oz. serving
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
[General][Gaming] "But You're Wrong, Steve. You See, It's Only Solitare"-
--I hope to have his last session, this Friday, be memorable for him.
Part of my Classic-Play years were spent listening to a LOT of Jethro Tull, and as I type this, Chequred Flag, off of the Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Die album, is just ending, and Warchild is beginning.
--Not only do certain albums/songs remind me of certain times and games, but they seem to re-activate centres in my brain with the same sort of creative energies present then.
My mother, of all people, reminded me that I ran a lot of Call of Cthulhu (two or more years of 36-hour sessions each weekend), far removed from the 'right way' of dealing with the Mythos, but a method that kept even the more jaded GMs and picky players coming back.
--What was I doing then that worked so well, and had I lost it in the meanwhile?
---Happily, no, I still have the mental film projector playing in my mind, and am able to articulate it in 'real-time' keeping the PCs on their toes as much as Indy was forced to be back in Raiders, while keeping them totally off-kilter as regards what's around the next turn.
It's not in the holy writ of mouldering and soft-drink stained folio sized booklets, kids. Rather, it is in your noggin and in your heart. Loving the scenes you are describing. It seems to me, that unless you love the game you are running, you cannot expect your players to give much of a good golly about it, either.
--Formulae, charts, and reconstituting a 'lost art' through philosophising the perceived intent of other, now departed, game-players turned 'pros' is a deathtrap, in my worthless opinion.
So, what do I have planned for Friday? I can't tell you that, because now a few of my play group have the URL to this blog, but I can tell you that I am already thinking of the to-be-published Adventure Locations and how they are going to be set up, and even what they'll look like, whether I digi-paint the covers myself, or I continue to utilise Peter Mullen's excellent artistic tallents, or grab the talents of other great artists available in the Classic-Play community and elseswhere.
--To that end, I have made a contact of a local printer and wargamer, and need to discuss the technomantic page layout-look I am seeking for in Autumn Garden Vol. I. I'll need to get my Wacom digital tablet to communicate with my PC again, and then give this guy my roughs rendered in the various art programmes I've fiddled with for over a decade.
Furthermore, I have found a means of securing an actual boxed game release venue ready for brick and mortar stores, as well as selling them out of my home. This prospect, filling a boxed set with custom dice and up to date catalogue and other bit-inserts, thrills me with the same sort of giddiness that I felt when a really cool game caught my eye on The Compleat Strategist, Davie, Florida store when I was a wee cur in my tender teens.
--Likewise, cardboard figures have now progressed to the point where custom artwork can result in game-specific runs, Print on Demand, so that's pretty toe-curling (except my freshly broken one, that is).
Time for chocolate! :D
Sunday, August 2, 2009
[Playtest Campaign] "Undead, undead, undead..."-
Meanwhile, the bumbling foo-- the Adventurers determined that if a non-Human were closely accompanied by a Human, the automated defences wouldn't fire. They entered the Bainsidhe room, and fought her to death. Her demise sounded like dishes shattering and glass being ground underfoot. They hoisted Tybalt's body (smoke or mist wafting from his mouth and nostrils) and Dee-dee'd out of the kill-zone without opening the other door. Report that the LS irises had re-opened, and the M-a-A's and the other two (three) party members had descended to meet them.
On the way down and back up, some other sort of undead was seen behind the shimmering blue force field, pounding on it to get at them. Once back up, the irises were sealed.
The plan to map out the rest of Level One was initiated with troops, carpenters building hides to block-off corridors, and other reasonable measures met with good result, slaying most of the undead Screaming Wom carriers (wax in the ear provided a +4 to the Control Critical Test), but even the wax-in-the-ear trick didn't work for a few of the party and they instead fled to the inn across the way from the surface entrance (formerly named bum alley for the dead vagrants found therein) now blocked off with hasty construction, and the establishment 'procured' by the Kherstic Academy as a supply centre and field hospital. With 'whisky' in their systems, as well as the wax, they were able to secure themselves enough to enter the 'dungeon' again.
The Wargs had been commanding some of the Screaming Worm undead to help them batter-down the door to the kennel, but that had been stopped, although the Warg are still in there, ready to fling themselves into the fray.
Now in the third barracks, the party, M-a-A's, and those poor High Risk Armed Security dupes ;) encountered a trio of Lich-like creatures --magick using-- who proptly killed 13 personnel with some sort of plasma weapon ('electric-acid stream') and forced a Resolve test, which was largely failed except for Byllys and a few others. More NPC deaths as the two lesser undead of the trio (diadem, and wand each) were controlled by the greater of the three (crown, hate-filled scrying sphere, and full staff) marched up the stairs toward the party, while the M-a-A's hid in a side passage and waited for a reasonable opportunity to attack the rear front.
Another plasma-stream lashed out, after which melee was enjoined and one of the minors was engaged by Darius, CiCi, Ashta, and Delver; Wojo 'mind-blasted' the major, and they saw the damage was instead transferred to the two minors. Deafening and Blinding attacks knocked out most of the party's ability to fight. ~~~ The two minors were dropped, and finally the combination of the remaining forces, and two of the M-a-A's were permanently blinded as the major undead disappeared in an indigo flash that left the scorched stones of the passage carven with deep sigils.
We held it there while the SO and I went to play AT-43; her Karmans beating my Red Blocs when my UNA 'allies' were taken out by her and her 'ally' Theians.
--Dang, but that system is super-fast and plenty of fun.
During the game the LGS owner took me and a fellow Classic-Play player (Wojo/Vish') to task for our lack of concern/interest in minis 'back in the day', and offered to run (tool us in) an AD&D game sometime soon. Joy. > eye-roll <
So, what did you game this weekend?
Saturday, August 1, 2009
A The Grand Tapestry Exclusive: Jeff Berry: "What's Old School Gaming?"-
(c) Copyright 2009 Jeff Berry All Rights Reserved. Used here by permission of the author.
Linking to this article is permitted.
I'm a dinosaur, I think...
(This is a short little essay on gaming styles that might be of interest to folks, in response to the various postings I've been reading lately.
All opinions are my own, no warranty express or implied, and are packed by weight, not by volume; some settling of contents may have occurred during shipping and handling...)
Okay, I give up. What's 'old school gaming', and how does it apply to miniatures and role-playing games? I've just managed to get my head around the 'simulationist' and 'narrativist' schools of role-playing games, sorta, but now I'm even more confused. I got started in miniatures back about 1970, and in role-playing about 1975, and I have the feeling that I'm either a dinosaur or trapped like an insect in ancient amber; I still do things the way I have been doing them since that ancient and long-lost time, both in miniatures games and in RPGs.
Am I an 'old school gamer', or just imprisoned by the conditioning I got at the hands of Dave Arneson (of D&D), and Phil Barker (of EPT)?
For the benefit of those of you in the audience who hadn't been born yet, gaming back then consisted of historical miniatures. Period. Sure, some folks had been calling their medieval figures 'orcs' and 'elves' so they could play out the battles from Middle-Earth, and if you took the five SPI "Prestags" board games and put all the maps together - and sorted the counters from all five by color - you had a mega-game that looked just like Tolkein but evaded copyright issues; but, oh my patient listeners, the world of RPGs as you know them just didn't exist.
Enter, stage left, a bunch of bored Twin Cities Napoleonics players; enter, stage right, a bunch of bored medieval players from Lake Geneva.
Net result, D&D, followed in short order in the Twin Cities by something really weird called "Empire of the Petal Throne": all three of the authors involved were old hands at historical miniatures, and their first sets of rules reflected this - the 'Simulationist' school of game design, they tell me. Dave Arneson was a particular example of this kind of design; he was a perfectionist at getting all of the little details nailed down before the players showed up on his doorstep, and he played - like they did - for keeps. Sitting down with Dave to play with him was an invitation to having your heart cut out, doused with Tabasco sauce, and eaten with great glee; you - like all of the folks who regularly played in that group - had to be quick on the uptake, fast on the draw, and really smart; you had to know your stuff, or you'd get handed your head on a platter. The only exception to that was if you were a new player, and didn't come into the game session with an attitude; if you were polite and reasonable, that bunch of unreformed Visigoths would be more then happy to help you learn the game and the rules.
Phil Barker certainly did his own rules, of course, but his natural flair for story-telling usually showed through the rules mechanics.
Tekumel was the setting for his stories and fiction writing, and those of us who gamed with him were the 'bit players' in the story arc and quite often provided him with the 'local color' he used in his books.
Very quickly, he dropped using any rules more complicated then the following:
Prof. Mohammed abd Rahman Barker's Perfected Game Rules:
1) We both roll dice.
2) If you roll high, your view of reality prevails.
3) If I roll high, my view of reality prevails.
4) If we're close, we negotiate.
Simple, yes? I still use this complex and detailed set of rules to this very day, which - I assume - makes me a 'Narrativist' like Phil. Mind you, I also do all of my research and planning ahead of each game session, just like Dave did, so I guess I'm sort of a hybrid of the two genres. And just perhaps, is this hybrid 'old school'? The major objective of any game run by either of those two was to have fun; if there wasn't a laugh or two around the table in the course of the mayhem, we all thought we were slipping up somehow. I try very hard to make sure my players have fun, and I also make damn sure that I know my source material, too.
Over on the miniatures table, I run games pretty much the same way.
Yes, I confess, I did write a set of miniatures rules for Tekumel; it's still in print, still being played, and still being denounced as "too simplistic" by historical gamers (who have never played it) and as "too complicated" by RPG gamers (who have never played it). I might modestly mention that both types of gamers who have played the thing discover that it's neither, but that may not be important; what is important is that I try very hard to provide players with a good time; everyone gets something to do, everyone gets a laugh and some fun, and everyone gets to play equally heroically. I do the figures and the scenery, and that's where I get my jollies; I'm a model-builder before I'm a gamer. (Which may be rank heresy, and probably the subject of another essay.)
So, I think I'm a fossil. I game the same way both Dave and Phil did, and my players don't look at the published rules very much; they seem to be having fun at game sessions, which think is the point of the exercise. We keep it light, simple, and fun; is this 'old school'?
I realise that the above will not settle the matter for either the Old Guard, the OSR or New School crowd, but then again, nothing is likely to do so.
Sally-forth unto Adventure, Honour, and Glory!