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2017-05-14

Traveller Interstellar Wars - Episode 0

I decided to run a "episode 0" session for my group before they had characters draw up. They had ideas of who they wanted to be, but this gave them a chance to get into character and figure out the characters. I'm not sure how well it went, but it was a fun.

I like to think of this session as the "unaired pilot". It sets up the backstory, but if characters need to change or be alter, it doesn't really matter. Continuity hasn't started yet. ;-)

2017-05-09

New Campaign!

I've been busy lately prepping and working on a new campaign. We're going to be running Traveller Interstellar Wars!



We're going to be using the "default campaign" with group of Free Traders setting out from the Terran Confederation in 2170. Trade, exploration, aliens, war... what else could you want?

As far as rules, I'm using GURPS (of course), but instead of the ship design rules in IW, I've opted to use the GURPS Spaceships rules and combat. I've been working through converting the ships in Interstellar Wars. I've posted them to the SJGames Traveller forums, and will be posting them here soon.

Characters will be 150 points. I've already run an "episode 0" where the players didn't yet have characters built, but we ran through some background and some roleplay to set the stage and let them get a feel for their characters and the world.

So... Hang on travellers.



2017-04-01

5th Realm Session 27 Recap


Backtrack


Picking up where we left on last week, the party backtracked through the keep, then zig-zagged through some alleyways toward the sounds of battle. When they emerged, they were behind a female "rat-thing" that was commanding the rat-things, skin-suits, and rat swarms to climb up the wall to the inner keep.

Solders were on the walls firing crossbows down and battling any thing that made it all the way up.


Battle


The party didn't wait long, and charged in. They headed straight towards the "rat queen". She turned her attention to them, and sent out a blast of magical energy toward Penelope, who failed to dodge. But then Kaz cast Deflect Missile on Penelope and caused the blast to smash into the ground.

Then the party surrounded the queen and all make hits against her. The other creatures began to pull from the keep, and surround the party, but after a few more hits the queen was dead, and the others were killed or fleeing.


Knight and Lord


Moments later the inner gate was opened and knights came out to secure the outer keep. One approached the party and thanked them for the help. His name is Amadeus and is captain of the Red Blades. He took the party to Lord Bedrahm.

The lord thanked the group and asked what he could do for them. They learned that his own lands were hit by the upheaval and he and the Red Blades were securing the keep for his people.

The party told him about Mistwood and the refugees, and he said that if the people of Mistwood were willing to help rebuild the keep, that he would welcome them.


Return and Rejoice


The party decided to travel back and meet up with the traveling group, and a day later had found them. They let them know about what had happened at the keep and about the Lord and his people. The sheriff let them know that he didn't trust the Red Blades (they are former criminals that became "un-landed" knights to fight in the war instead of going to prison), but that he saw little choice.

The group moved to the keep and began to work on a new home.


---


This was a pretty quick session, as it was just the tail end of what I had planned for the previous day. I didn't want to tack on extra events that left the party in a middle of something else.

The "boss" fight was over super quick, before the boss had any real chance to use some of her "tricks" which is fine... I'll file those away for another day. I also hadn't realized how close the party would be if they took the exact route they did, so a bit of (real world) luck added to that.

Overall it was fun and completed the mini-arc of getting the game transitioned to the new location.

2017-03-24

Fifth Realm: Session 26 - A New Beginning

Background:


Several weeks ago, all the known lands were hit with various floods, quakes, shifting land, rising mountains, and other dramatic events that have reshaped the landscape and destroyed many towns.

Refugees from Mistwood have been looking for a new home. A scout returned to camp injured by a wolf attack, but reported that he had spotted an old keep that might still be in good enough shape to house the survivors.

The sheriff (who the survivors have turned to for leadership), has asked that a group follow the scout's direction and see if the keep can support the survivors.

Setting out


The party decided to get some information from the scout (Alec) who was lounging about near the healer's tent. He claims that he was attacked by a huge pack of wolves, but the heroes got the feeling he was exaggerating quite a bit. He was able to provide the group with a detailed map through the forest to where he saw the keep.

Before leaving town the sheriff found the group and told them that we was going to have the people start packing up for the journey as soon as possible. He gave the party two bundles that when burned would create smoke to signal to the town if the keep was safe or not.

An Odd Gnome


The path to the keep was pretty clear, but as the group emerged from the dense woods, they spotted the keep and a small camp along the way.

When they got close to the camp the meet a Gnome who was busy building and hammering and moving about his camp.

He didn't have much useful information for the group, but did offer to sell them various tools he had invented such as a crossbow converted to a "fly swatter" (bolts had flat mesh attached), and mouse traps (which were tiny bear traps).

The party decided to pass on these and continued on to the keep.

Dead Wolves and Broken Bridge


On the path up to the keep the players found the bodies of several wolves, being fed on by large (not giant) rats. An examination didn't yield the cause of death, only that they had been devoured by these rats.

Further up the party found a chasm between the path and the keep, and the drawbridge was broken and hanging by one chain.

Kaz was able to move the end of the broken chain across the path, where the party secured it, and crossed over.

The Keep's Inhabitants


Inside the party found the keep's structures intact but worn and in disuse. While looking around, William heard sounds from around the corner and the group snuck up to check it out.

Unfortunately, they weren't very stealthy and when they got to the corner a group of strange people, in tattered clothes, turned to face them.

The party tried to identify what these "people" were, as something was clearly "wrong" with them. They didn't seem to be zombies, but had some zombie like aspects.

While this evaluation was going on, they began to shift and contort till something that resembled a cross between a man, a skinless dog, and a rat appeared. Then they charged.

These rat-man-monsters rushed the group, but Kaz through down a Grease spell and the others held their ground. The monsters began to fall one by one as they approached, the few getting around the corner were dealt with quickly.

When most have bunched together, Kaz hit them with an explosive fireball. Then dispelled the grease and the party finished off the others before they had a chance to stand.

Further in the party saw a figure dart around a corner, and also heard sounds of conflict from another direction. They decided to follow the figure they saw to an open area further in.

Sickness...


The group managed to be a bit more stealthy this time and managed to spot the man they saw before, who was having a coughing fit.

In the open area near him were four large persons that seemed to be malformed and bloated. And at the far end was a thin man in a cloak and speaking in a strange language.

The sick man then vomited... a rat, before collapsing onto the ground.

From there concealed position, the group took aim and fired (fireball wand and sun-bolt). Which destroyed two of the bloated men... but then they exploded into swarms of rats. The fireball burned enough of the rats that the ones remaining scattered.

Before the creature had time to reach the party, another set of blasts (and a crossbow bolt) took out the other two and the rats of the other swarm. But this left 2 new swarms and the thin man charging in.

The rats swarmed William and Penelope but were quickly sliced through and dispersed. The thin man was also hit with a powerful attack and fell down.

The party rushed him and as he recovered they finished him off before he could cast whatever spell he was preparing.

From his neck Kaz took a magical amulet that has some sort of animal control magic on it (and a picture of a rat). But he was persuaded to not put it on just yet.


We wrapped up there for the night. Next week we'll pick up still in the town.

Thoughts:


This session went really well. First session awkwardness and a new player (new to GURPS as well as the group), didn't seem to cause any troubles. Things moved along at a good pace and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

One thing that I've been working on is "[The GM] should feel free to drop out of combat time whenever dramatically appropriate, and to resume combat time when noncombat action gives way to more fighting." (B362). This as speed up the "lulls" in combat when no actual trading of blows is happening (Readying, closing distances, long actions). 

2017-03-15

Rule of Cool

... or "Crazy Plans are More Likely to Work"

A couple of things occurred to me the other day as I was reflecting on my last game session: 1) When players ask lots of questions, the the odds of doing something "cool" decrease. 2) If something sounds cool, it is more likely to work in my games.

I don't really think about these things during the game. They are not rules that I created... but this is just how things work out in play with my games.

Here is an example. In the last session, the party arrived at the cliff that separates the road from the keep. The drawbridge was damaged and only one of the two chains were holding it up. Someone asked if they could see the wench that held the remaining chain, and I replied that it was on top of the keep's wall between the two towers on either side of the bridge/gate. Then someone asked if the wizard flew up there would he be able to release it, and would the bridge land properly across the gap. I said he could probably release it, but that because the bridge was askew and damaged, it might break and fall. They ended up going with another plan.

But, had someone said, "I want to blast the wench with a fireball so the bridge falls and we can cross", I'd probably allow that to work (assuming they made the roll to hit).

Thinking about this, I realized that when I GM, lots of "technical" questions get the simulations part of my brain working. So, the answers I give are likely to be based on what makes the most logical sense for that situation. But, if someone states some crazy plan, the more creative side of my brain gets going and I want that to happen.

Of course the players need information before they can formulate crazy plans, so there's a bit of a catch-22 going on. But I think recognizing the ways that I GM and what some of the factors that lead to it helps me and my players.

2017-03-14

Fifth Realm: The Story So Far...

The Fifth Realm is the setting I've been running my Fantasy games in for awhile now. It follows the standard fantasy tropes and uses most of the races from Dungeon Fantasy 3. I've run games that are somewhere between the full on Murder-Hobo-re that is Dungeon Fantasy and something closer to "serious" fantasy. The latest world events might just start shifting things a bit towards "dark fantasy" but we'll see how things develop....

Here is a recap of some of the events that have happens leading up to the current events.

The Turning Island Indecent

A few years back a group of adventures arrived in Port Destiny on Turning Island. They were commissioned by the leader of a group of "concerned citizens" to look into a strange temple found deep in the islands jungles. Soon they discovered a cult of a banished god were looking to open a gate way for that god to return to this world and bring about the end times.

They raced across the island seeking to five stones that could heal the magic seal that prevented this dark god from returning. Eventually they were able to defeat the cult and seal the god away, but at a high cost. Each of them lost one of the "elemental" essences.

Mistwood's Troubles

About a year ago the goblins started to attack the remote town of Mistwood. A (new) group of adventurers defended the town, tracked down the goblin hideout and defeated a group of mercenaries and a woman bent on using demonic powers to destroy the town.

Later the adventures chased off a black dragon that was making it's home in some nearby ruins. While there they met a group of orcs and had an unusually friendly experience. They also found a door marked with a seal they had seen before (on an amulet they had sold) and a carving that might have been been left by one of the adventurer's long lost uncle.

They tracked down the amulet, opened the door and found a vast underground realm that had been sealed off for thousands of years. Later they learned that this area was sealed off by a cabal of seven races to prevent crossing worlds as this "under realm" was a boarder land to other dimensions. They also discovered that the uncle had used a necromancy ritual to enter the land of the dead (still intact) in order to escape. The party had to find a lost relic, "The Returning Bell" to rescue him from the land of the dead.

After retrieving the bell, the party found Mistwood occupied by the Inquisition. These were suppose to be the King's most loyal who were tasked with upholding the law. But they betrayed the king and were going to hang the Mayor. The heroes ended up breaking the Mayor out of jail, just in time to learn that the town was in danger of total destruction.

The next morning the party had to get as many people out of town while avoiding the Inquisition. In the middle of the evacuation, the ground began to rumble, split, and rise. Soon it was a mad dash out of town, avoiding sinkholes and land slides.

When the day ended, only a scattered group of refugees were left at the banks of the river nearby. In the following weeks those that remained salvaged what they could. Mistwood was no more, but the troubles for it's people were not yet over....