Showing posts from October, 2017

Solo Gaming Appreciation Month

I've recently learned that November is "Solo Gaming Appreciation Month" (SGAM)--a time when a number of us Solo gamers work together to share stories that are linked in someway. 2017 is a bit of a special year, as we all come together to commemorate and celebrate the life of  +Zach Best , who was not only a wonderful member of our community, but an outstanding creator as well. His work through Conjecture Games  has been a major factor in many of our journey's. While many Solo gamers will be aiming to create new games or tools to use, I will be focused on something a bit more humble, an Actual Play. I was already working on one , but I want to put that on hiatus and focus on the works that Zach had created. The first is CRGE, the Conjectural Roleplaying GM Emulator .  This is Zach's take on the GM Oracle, and a bit of story framework. It is incredibly well regarded within the scene, considered by many to be superior to my beloved Mythic . I picked it up due t

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 3

Still in Halderton, trying to understand what caused the rumors of a resistance, Deirik and Ygvard learn of a young woman named Tianna who may have some of the information they seek. They make their way out to Tianna's family farmstead and end up dealing with Tianna's overly protective mother who all but forces them to leave her land. However, Tianna is intrigued and meets the two at a fence further out in their fields. She, being 18 years old, is impetuous and has like-minded friends, so she explains that when the orcs were hurting her mother some weeks ago, Tianna decided enough was enough. Knowing that she couldn't attack just the one orc, she gathered a large group of the young adults of Halderton and ambushed all the orcs in town. Deirik and Ygvard realize that this is no resistance, only kids who thought they were doing the right thing and have only made matters worse. This explains the aggressive anti-rebellion attitude of Seamus, the town elder; he doesn't wan

A Lonely Hope--Scene 5

Scarlet Vampire A Lonely Hope Scene 5 H anson had run into another deadend trying to get help from Samuel , and has left the park frustrated and annoyed. Rolling for the next scene, I got the following prompt: Be waylaid by a hostile Actor with a Clue. Face a Fight instead of a check. Normally, I would use various tools to randomly determine this Actor, but this time I don’t. Almost immediately, an image came to my head of a big, tough guy, covered in burning tattoos, consumed by an unquenchable fire.  I decide his combat prowess is typical for the Story (Physical Threat 2, or 7), and that he is going to try and ambush Hanson. But, to keep things interesting, I decide that his tattoos mean that his attacks are going to be aggravated . Which means that Hanson both will not be able to soak the damage for this combat, but also that they will be particularly hard to heal. It also means that she could face final death in this fight. Is he able to ambush he

A Lonely Hope -- Scene 4

Scarlet Vampire A Lonely Hope Scene 4 At the end of the last Scene , Hanson was dumped into the sewers, after being beaten to near death by Cora. She fed as best she could from the rats that crawled around her, barely sustaining herself. At dusk, she crawled out and fed as best she could. Each victim gave her more strength and helped her to heal. Finally, she made her way back to her apartment, grabbed a quick shower and a change of clothes. Gina was of course worried for her, and Gypsy has left multiple messages. Hanson placated Gina, and ignored the phone calls. She grabs a good-sized satchel to complete her ensemble, and disconnects the sawed-off shotgun she keeps under desk and stashes it in the purse. She’s not sure when, or if, she’ll run into Cora again, but she’s going to be ready. As Hanson took a “Rest” for the last Scene, allowing her to heal all her wounds, and replenish her Blood Pool and all spent Willpower points. The still-unknown Opponent, however, gained

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 2

Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf all grab some well-deserved rest in the safety of the ogre's large tent. When they awake, they recall they're on a relatively short timeline. Voldash and his army should be arriving at Halderton in less than two months, and they still need to get there, connect with the rebellion, and empower them to win the impending fight! The Men of Mjarn take some time to discuss Krogan's orders to them. He told them that he wanted to recruit these hobgoblins to *his* forces, not that they were to be used against Voldash. Do they take even more time and take the hobgoblins to him now? Or do they press forward with the hobgoblins to Halderton? After much consideration, they choose the latter plan and give the command for the hobgoblins to pack camp and prepare to march.

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 1

Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf all have a meeting with Lord Krogan, for whom they’ve been working for a short time. He informs them of their first “big” assignment. They are to go to the town of Halderton, to the East, where there are rumors of an active resistance underway. This town is in the territory of another legate, Lord Voldash, who shares a border with Krogan. The latest word is that Voldash is headed to Highwall, the Shadow Capital, to requisition more troops to stomp this rebellion and best estimates put him returning in approximately 2 months. Krogan wants the Men of Mjarn to ensure the rebellion wins and Voldash is embarrassed.

A Lonely Hope -- Scenes 2 & 3

Scarlet Vampire A Lonely Hope Scene 2 Hanson stopped in front of the Quick Stop Shop Convenience store. It was a rundown store located in a half-empty shopping strip on the edge of town. The place seemed dead—based on the signs in the window, it looked like most of their clients came for the calling cards, lotto tickets, and rolling papers. But a few shops down, past the closed shoe store and Chinese restaurant, was the only sign of life, a dive bar. It didn’t even have a name, just a neon green shamrock in the window. Clearly, they didn’t care to advertise. That’s where he got hired , she thought. A guy out for a drink, looking for anything. Gets paid, grabs some smokes, and heads out to the “quick and easy” job . She parked her grey Camry in the parking lot towards the back, making sure it was a decent distance from any other cars and angled to get out quickly. As she stepped out, she noticed her side. The bullet hole had healed, but her

A Lonely Hope Scene 1

Scarlet Vampire A Lonely Hope Following the events of the Prologue , Hanson is attempting to shadow the stranger. To accomplish this, I use the mechanics from Vampire . Shadowing someone requires two separate rolls. The first is to Track the target, and the second is to remain Unseen . Tracking involves a Perception+Investigation (Hanson has 6 dice for this roll) against a difficulty of 5 (the streets are practically empty around here). Remaining unseen is a Dexterity+Stealth (also 6 dice) against a difficulty of 8. The same empty streets make remaining unnoticed very difficult. Shadowing : Rolling 6 dice, Hanson gets 6,2,4,1,5,7 , she gets three successes against a difficulty of 5. But, the 1 costs her a success, leaving her with just two. Still more than enough to keep the target in site. Unseen: Rolling 6 dice, Hanson gets 1,10,1,7,1,3 . She gets one success against a difficulty of 8. But, the three 1’s means that she not only fails t

A Lonely Hope -- Prologue

Scarlet Vampire A Lonely Hope With all the prep work out of the way ( here ), I'm ready to start playing.  I've gone ahead and created a brief chart to keep track of all the various narrative elements for the game, and I'll be updating it after each scene. And with that, we're ready to start.  Victory Points Heat Hanson 0 Opponent 0 0 Investigation & Action Scene Count Scene Number Type Description Result Prologue  

Session "0" for Scarlet Vampire

The tools are all in place. Now it is time to begin the game. Base Game: Vampire: The Masquerade (1st Edition)  Not familiar with Vampire? Check out the Primer Story Structure: Scarlet Vampire Oracle: Mythic Other Tools: Universal NPC Emulator, Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator , and Everyone, Everywhere Story Setup Theme: 3 Conspiracy. Powerful forces are aligning together for nefarious ends. Well, more nefarious than is typical for vampires. Threat: Physical 2 , Social 5 , Mental 3 . Narrative Summary: A  Target aspires to advance their business or status but an Antagonist opposes them Draw the Target and choose how they are trying to advance themselves. Either draw the Antagonist immediately or spend an Investigation scene discovering who is causing the obstacles. Scenes revolve either around trying to help the Target’s goal or trying to prevent Antagonist sabotage.

The Corruption Saga: Prologue

At the end of the Trader (Traitor) Saga , Deirik and Eirik had met their end at the hands of a pack of goblin worg-riders. However, after some time had passed, both the players (and the GM, honestly) expressed desire to play that game again along with a couple other friends who were interested in joining the adventure. So… we decided to apply the concept of a Fate Worse Than Death . So, rather than die, Deirik and Eirik faced a turn of events so dreadful that they may have been better off staying dead: Deirik and Eirik were, instead, captured by the goblin worg-riders and taken to the nearby city of Steel Hill. This city is the forge of the Shadow, where most of the vardatches (orcish swords) and plate are made to arm and armor Izrador’s legions. To supply this never-ending effort, massive slave camps are sent into the iron mines of the nearby mountains. Deirik and Eirik were enslaved and put to work for the next 4 years. During this time in the camp, Deirik and Eirik met

A Fate Worse Than Death

You've spent the past few months prepping for an exciting new game. You've purchased various supplements and adventures. You've carefully crafted NPC's and settings, and have done your best to make an exciting and engaging game. What do you do when everything falls apart? When the dice turn against the players? Or one simple plan turns out to be a disaster? When the entire party faces extinction at the hands of a "Total Party Kill?"

Creating a Random Vampire

Now that we have the basics for creating a random vampire in place, let's see what we can come up with. Oh, quick note, I did some light touch ups on the random vampire post--cleaned up the tables, and added an "age of death" option. Step 1 Background Gender 8 Female Age of Death 6 Early to Mid Thirties Cultural Background 8 Natural Born American Ethnic Background 1 Caucasian/White Step 2 Concept Nature 21 Traditionalist Demeanor 7 Conformist Concept 6 Investigator Clan 1 Brujah

Midnight: The Men of Mjarn - Trader (Traitor) Saga

The Trader (Traitor) Saga The game begins with Deirik and Eirik’s family’s trading stop in the city of White Cliff. They have already dropped off the goods they are giving and are headed to the location where the goods they are receiving are hidden. Deirik and Eirik, and the rest of their father’s crew go to the barn with their goods to retrieve, only to find the crates and barrels are empty and they’re being approached by an orcish force. During the ensuing battle, several of the men die, including their father, Yakob. While their Uncle, Torvald the Elder, offers to take the lead, Deirik is the rightful leader according to the rules of succession and takes on the mantle of captain. With no goods to retrieve, and no knowledge of the people Yakob worked with or deals in place, the brothers take it one step at a time and go to the city of White Cliff to talk to their cousin, Torvald the Younger, whom they find was abducted by Legate Voldash too long ago for them to follow. Rhald

Random Vampire

Random character creation is pretty antithetical to Vampire , in all honesty. The game values deep and nuanced characters far more than disposable volume, and as such each character, both PC's and NPC's, are meant to be built with care and consideration. Also, the mechanical aspect of character creation is so damn quick that, once a character is conceived, it takes only a few minutes for even a new player to fill out the sheet. Given that, why would I bother with random creation at all? Well, for a few reasons actually. The first is the search for inspiration. Sometimes you want to make a character and don't yet know who this character will be. In the past, I've used some different tools to help me figure out who the character is, using tools like  Central Casting , the "random Preludes" of the Masquerade Players Kit , and the Universal NPC Emulator . All have their virtues, but I wanted to try something different--instead of coming up with a character and

Scarlet Vampire

Inspired by some recent games I've been playing, I'm going to start up a new Actual Play for Vampire: The Masquerade . As I've already posted a few of these, I want to do something slightly different for this play-through. Well, two things. The first, is a something I like to call "Scarlet Vampire," which I detail below. The second is a "random vampire generator," which will require its own post ( here ). Scarlet Vampire, is, essentially a variation on the Solo Urban Adventures rules from  +Kevin Crawford 's excellent OSR game Scarlet Heroes . If you don't have this already, get it. It's a fantastic game on its own, and a wonderful resource for anyone interested in either Solo or OSR style gaming. Pretty much everything Crawford puts out is top notch, and he's one of the best indie developers working right now. What I really enjoy about the rules he created is their ability to allow for failure . Failure is an underappreciated elemen

Midnight: The Men of Mjarn - Characters

In such an oppressive world, something has to set you apart from the masses or you would never even consider going up against the Shadow and his forces. In Midnight, that “something” is a Heroic Path , a piece of your lineage that links you to something powerful or magical. You can be Giantblooded or Charismatic, Quickened or Dragonblooded. The characters that the players created for the Men of Mjarn campaign sagas are these:

The World of Midnight

The best way to describe the Midnight Setting is to say “imagine a world in which Sauron won.” Izrador, The Shadow, the god of evil, was cast out of the heavens by the other gods and fell to the planet Aryth’s continent of Eredane. As he fell, he cast a veil between the mortal realm and that of the heavens such that the gods who betrayed him cannot pierce it. There he began to wage war on the good races of the land:

Ravenous: The Coyote

Ravenous The Coyote Spring, 1991 Kali, Masaru, and Chester drove their beat up Gremlin to the outskirts of Escondido, California. They had talked about this for months now--the shared desire to strike out at the monsters that dominated their world, to gain revenge on those who had destroyed them, to force the world to make some sort of sense. What had once been fantasy was about to become reality. And now that it was here, that it was happening, all their big talk and assured confidence faded away.  They had come all this way to kill a man none of them had ever met. It was Masaru who gave them the information. Half-remembered from years ago, when he was still breathing. His fellow hunters had talked about a probably vampire in this small town, someone involved with human trafficking. Rumor had it that he imported a girls from Mexico and others countries further south, then sold them off down the line. But not all of them were sold. Some went "missing." His

Ravenous House Rules: Out of Clan Disciplines

The final significant House Rule I'll be implementing for Ravenous is how Out of Clan Disciplines are handled. In Vampire , each Clan of vampires has three "Clan Disciplines"--for example, Brujah have Potence, Celerity, and Presence. There's naturally a desire for players (and, often, characters) to learn more than just their inherent abilities.  Over time, I've become less forgiving of easy access to Out of Clan Disciplines. This is for three interrelated reasons. First, characters rapidly become very similar, taking away from the distinctiveness of each Clan. If everyone has Potence AND Celerity AND Fortitude, then what really makes any of them different? Secondly, most systems/guidelines place a different cost in terms of effort and risk in learning different Disciplines. "Physical" ones are pretty easy, "Common" ones (Dominate, Obfuscate, Presence, etc.) are about average, with only the "Unique" ones requiring special access or

Ravenous House Rules: Experience

Whenever I think I about "experience points," they always strike me as being odd things.  Thanks to video games, they're pretty well baked into the popular concept of Role-Playing Games, even though they're not really required for them. I mean, you have games like Amber or original Traveler that have no Experience. Or games like Fate (where players can adjust skills between sessions) or Call of Cthulhu (where skills are improved as a result of checks and rolls), both of which all for character progression or change without the need for "experience points" per se. But, when it comes to player direct games, XP can be an incredible tool. It allows the players to know what the goals are, to work independently toward those goals, and to make key story decisions on their own term, without requiring the Game Master to define and pace the story. The classic example, of course, is Dungeons & Dragons. In the original game, players gained XP for each Gold Piece t

Ravenous House Rules: Downtime

As part of my new Ravenous game, I'm implementing a few House Rules. Some are ideas I've been mulling over for Vampire for a while (the Downtime system) while others are more custom for this particular Chronicle ( Experience and Out of Clan Disciplines ).  The first is the Downtime rules. Two things have always bothered me a bit with Vampire. The first is the tendency of the game to fall into a "night by night" kind of situation, where each session flows into the next and adventure piles on adventure and after a year of unlife, the characters have the stats of Elders and the whole city is a smoking ruin behind them. The second (related) is the speed in which characters develop--they start off barely able to load a gun (Firearms 1) and after a few months of play, they're the greatest shooters in the world (Firearms 5).  Which is absurd...each dot represents an exponential increase in ability. Science of 1 is a High School student--and a particularly nerdy o


I've started up a new Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle. I decided to do something a bit different, at least for me, and to run it as a Sabbat game, as well as running for the first time via Roll20 . I've run a few games over Roll20 before, and played quite a bit more, but never a full Vampire one. It has been quite a while since I last ran Sabbat. Generally, I'm not a huge fan of this group--it's an odd combination of both too complicated (juggling different Paths) and too simplistic. The Pack focus leaves the players emotionally and socially isolated from the wider world, which limits the kinds of stories I can tell, and the hyper-violence rapidly gets boring for me. I had thought I had found a way to square this circle, but expanding the Pack beyond the immediate circle of players, and really focusing on its role in the wider world. I had though of a chronicle similar to the TV series Sons of Anarchy, where the Pack is the main character, and conflicts within the