Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brief Danger Patrol

I printed out Danger Patrol and brought it along to the "Car Wash" tonight, and actually got to run through a scene of it. Players were Dave VanDyke, Matt "Kub" Kubiak, and a fellow whose name I forget, I had just met him; he was a boardgamer but hadn't tried RPGs before. Robb and Jason had some important video games to play and couldn't be bothered; to be fair, that's kinda why they show up in the first place, not to play hippie games.

Dave and Kub chose randomly (semi-randomly -- Kub drew Alien Professor and I suggested he might want to swap Alien out cause it's kind of a DIY style) and we ended up with Max Powers the Psychic Professor, and Vance Granger, the Two-Fisted Explorer. (TODO: ask Dave the other player's name; it was mentioned once but it went right out of my sieve-like brain.) Our third player, the one who hadn't played RPGs before, chose a Robot Commando named THGHUS (pronounced "Thuggus").

I gave them the teaser, then asked for "Previously..." and we got some setup involving Max uncovering a Neptunian assassination plot, and THGHUS and Vance getting into some trouble with the Neptunians in a rescue plan that got complicated (somehow involving Vance and a Neptunian princess...)

So cards for all those things went out on the table. I explained that we were probably only going to do one scene tonight but all those were available for future scenes, or adding to the existing scene.

Following the suggestion in the rules I cut down the number of crimson apes by two since we had only three players -- TOTALLY unnecessary. "Three hits, no roll" powers are freaking BADASS, and they waded through the threats fairly quickly, even after I decided that the apes turned out to be six-hit threats after all, not three.

It only took two rounds.

First round: the Professor uses his telekinesis to remotely steer the damaged rocketcar to safety (Danger: he landed it on the only nearby surface -- a tanker of rocket fuel! -- safely). He also plugs into the currents controlling the malfunctioning traffic controller system using his gadgets and brings them back into sync. Two threats gone. Like that. (He got a second action because he used a power token for the first.)

Then THGHUS got out his hidden weaponry and lit up the immediately threatening ape, only wounding and angering it, and ending up with the ape hanging off of his robot body which was hanging from the fin of their rocket car by a damaged arm! (only Bashed, no major damage, but still, you could see sparks flying and stuff.)

Time for Vance. Vance is an Explorer, and knows a thing or two about crimson apes. He climbed down THGHUS's body to get eye to eye with the creature. After fending off some wicked blows by the ape, he hit it with a dominance attack -- essentially a staring and screaming contest, or something like that -- which forced it to acknowledge him as alpha. (He made him wear the Cone of Shame, if you will.) The now-docile ape climbed the poor robot's body and sat meekly in the vehicle, just as...

The one remaining ape, who'd been ignored all this turn, dropped onto the car and smacked poor Powers upside the head. (Reduced Hit!) Ape Two was pretty angry to see what had happened Ape One... after all, Ape Two had been the ORIGINAL Alpha. (Danger!)

The next turn though, that ape had no chance. Professor Powers came up with some rubber science about the metal implants in the backs of the apes' heads (which we hadn't noticed up till that point) and how they'd be adversely affected by the currents in the navigation system, which he'd already gotten under his control (3 free hits on an ally's attack for rubber science!). This added to Vance's two-fisted haymaker, so that just as he cold-cocked the ape, the thing's implant went haywire, sending it into a twitching frenzy and making it an easy target for THGHUS's weaponry.

We cut it off after one scene, though we briefly discussed what the interlude scenes would probably have been and where it would go from there.

Fun little game considering I had to do zero prep beyond what was done for me in the rules. There was no discernable difference in play experience between the experienced gamers and the complete newb, except for one point where he got a little caught up in scanning his powers list and it had to be pointed out that he could do anything he darn well pleased, what was on the sheet was just stuff he got an extra bonus for doing.

If I was going to do this again, well, I'd probably pile on the threats a bit more. But maybe the players just got lucky. Or maybe two turns was fine for an intro like this, and if they kept on going, they'd have felt the impact of the power tokens they'd spent pretty soon.

Anyway, yay! I got to run a game!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Some Demons

I've been mulling around an idea for a Sorcerer game.

Inspiration: certain cartoons with humanoid demons and such in them. David Trampier's "Wormy," anything fantasy by Vaughn Bodé, James West, maybe in a more serious vein, old children's book illustrations (Arthur Rackham, Sidney Sime).

Demons (aka imps) are little projections of id-charged ectoplasm from another universe, who can be brought into ours via various ancient rituals. The rituals, and their names, are all old school and traditional -- magic circles, abracadabra, names from the Goetia, the whole nine yards. But the demons, once they're here, have quite modern tastes and attitudes. They tend to be a bunch of little vulgarians, perhaps with Needs for boozing or getting high, cult movies or gambling, sating themselves at all-night buffets, or what not. But of course they're bursting with arcane power.

I'm thinking of two different kinds of Sorcerers, primarily. The NPCs are going to include a bunch of pretentious sorcerous weenies, people you love to hate. A grim gothy sorcerer lord, an ancient bearded cultic badass, and so on. The PCs are going to be primarily ordinary schmucks who happen, by design or by accident, to have gotten access to the old traditions of sorcery and gotten involved with them. It'll be kind of like "play yourself as a sorcerer," but not literally yourself, just the sort of person you might know and hang out with if they were real.

So besides the contrast between the freaky old rituals and the down-to-earth imps would be accompanied by a contrast between the earthy demons and the annoying NPC sorcerers.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this for a while, and started doing a little demon concept art last night.

Blood Red

Do you like art depicting chicks in chainmail? Battle babes? Warrior women? Witches? Demonesses? Of course you do, so go and check out James West's newly revamped Blood Red Comics.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Lady Blackbird - Session 2

The details of the Lady Blackbird game I ran last week are starting to get hazy, so I'd best try and get something written up.

We started with the gang arriving at Nightport and breaking up into several groups. Snargle stayed behind on the ship to work on some security issues. Kale took his mysterious package for delivery and payment. Lady Blackbird, Naomi, and Vance went to meet with August Cross, the information broker.

Kale rented a rickshaw and rode to the estate of Giovanni Canter to deliver the package. The man had no idea who he was, who Harwood was (Harwood was the guy who hired Kale to deliver the box back on Haven) or what was in the box. Upon opening it, a metallic, clockwork monkey was discovered. It came to life and killed Canter and his bodyguard with its razor sharp claws. Kale decided he wanted this monkey so he could examine it closer, and through some clever tactics, and a bit of luck, disabled it with some wire deftly inserted into a hole in the clockwork creature's chest. He quickly loaded it back into the box, emptied Canter's safe and dashed back to the waiting rickshaw. He decided to go to his favorite tavern and celebrate a bit before heading back to The Owl.

The Lady, Naomi and Vance met with Cross at his fancy office. It turned out, he didn't accept money, but only traded in secrets. He knew who all of them were, what with the bounty on them and all. He wanted to know how a Stormblood like Lady Blackbird had come to be intimate with a Fireblood like Uriah Flint. He had also demanded secrets from Naomi and Vance, and they agreed, though he told them he would gather his payment from them another time. They were in his debt. He wrote something on a sheet of paper, placed into an envelope and sealed it with wax. It would lead them to a man who knew how to navigate the Remnants and find Flint. After leaving, they started off to Vance's favorite tavern, when they were ambushed! The ambushers were all human, except for the large, trollish arm that grabbed Lady Blackbird from the shadows...

Snargle, back on The Owl, was busy setting traps and crawling around through the air ducts. He got a visitor: it was Violet! He was freaked out, but let her on board. She wanted to warn him that Noah was on the warpath. She told him he needed to get the rest of The Owl's crew together and get out of Nightport now! There was a lot of awkward conversation, and an even more awkward hug, and Violet left. Snargle ran around the ship, preparing for the worst. Then it arrived. Noah and his hired thugs showed up. Snargle cut all the lights on the ship and prepared himself. He got several of the thugs with his traps, and the others, he ambushed from the air ducts. In the end, it was just Noah, who was very jumpy at this point. Snargle lured him into the mess, and pushed him into the small, walk-in fridge, slammed and bolted the door. As Noah watched through the tiny window, Snargle changed his shape into something vaguely Noah-like. He walked out to the gangplank and looked down at the rest of Noah's men. Could he trick them?

The Lady, Naomi and Vance were surrounded. A Shadowblood troll had just grabbed Lady Blackbird and was dragging her back into the shadows. Vance used his Warpblood to teleport Lady Blackbird to safety (?) on the top of a nearby lamp-post. Naomi confronted the troll. She'd fought trolls before, and made quick work of him, pounding his skull into pulp. Kale stumbled across the scene, heading to the same tavern as the Captain. He grabbed the rickshaw from the rickshaw boy and ran to help the others. Lady Blackbird summoned up a strong wind to clear a path for Kale. She jumped down from the lamp-post and she and Naomi started running to the ship. Vance hopped in the back of the rickshaw and Kale grabbed ahold of it and started running. Vance laid down some suppressive fire to keep the thugs from following or getting too close.

They got back to the docks to find The Owl surrounded and Noah walking down from inside the ship. Snargle, pretending to be Noah, hoped that the Captain would not shoot him without asking questions first. Everyone got onto the ship and Vance walked up to Noah/Snargle and realized right away that it was Snargle... the goblin was not very good at making a perfect shape-shifting disguise, so his "Noah" had a goblin-ish skin tone and Snargle's yellow eyes. Noah/Snargle told the men to stand down. He was going to have a meeting with Captain Vance. The Owl closed up and took off.

Snargle quickly and snivelingly told Vance what had happened and begged not to be shot. Vance told him there'd be no shooting. At this point there were a couple of refreshment scenes, but I can't quite remember the particulars (maybe some of the players can pipe in and help me out.) There was some history set out between Vance and Noah having served together in the Imperial Navy. I also remember a nice little exchange. Kale was being cagey about what was in the box... he was loathe to tell anyone about the clockwork monkey until he had a chance to examine it.

Kale (to the Captain): I would never endanger the ship.
Snargle (sotto voce): What about the crew?

Vance let Noah out of the freezer and they had a nice talk where the Captain let Noah know he was their prisoner for the time being. Noah was not happy, but resigned to his fate. He was locked up in the extra berth.

The note from August Cross was opened. It contained a set of coordinates. Snargle looked at them and was concerned. They were up. Way up. Like, up near the edge of where the atmosphere was. He'd never flown so high before. The Owl could handle it, it was just... strange. He had no idea what could be up there. So up they went, through the cloud-deck and above it. Eventually, the clouds were far below them, and they saw something queer: stars. The sky above them was dark, and stars flickered. Everyone was glued to the portholes.

Then as they approached the coordinates, they saw something. A chunk of rock. On that chunk of rock: a lighthouse, with its light sweeping through the dark sky...

More to come after the next game in two weeks.