Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Quick Hits--Obligation, Duty, and Morality for Episodic Games

I really think that Obligation, Duty, and Morality are great mechanics of the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPGs.  I think each one is very well suited to reinforcing they style of game that the subsystem is designed to underscore.  That said, I have seen a few people discuss how to deal with these mechanics in games where characters might drift in and out of a campaign, or where the overall campaign might be more episodic rather than serial.

I would hate to cut the flavor from the game by getting rid of these mechanics, so I thought of something that could be utilized to keep them relevant to the game in a more episodic manner.

If the adventure starts "fresh," not as a continuation of a previous adventure, roll to see if anyone's Obligation, Duty, or Morality would trigger.  If so, then utilized a modified version of the One-Check Combat Resolution roll on page 323 of Edge of the Empire.

Quick Episodic Obligation, Duty, and Morality Checks

  • Determine what exactly happens, based on what actually triggers.  For example, a character with a bounty on his head might run into a bounty hunter, a character with space superiority as their area of interest in the Rebellion may be on a fighter mission, and a character whose Mercy/Apathy triggers might need to decide whether or not to help someone being harassed by Imperials.
  • Lean towards making the scene action oriented.  Since the game is episodic, you need to be able to resolve this quickly, and injury is often a good "side effect" for failure.
  • Action doesn't mean combat.  A thief might steal a cargo skiff and fly like crazy through a canyon to get back to his ship, which could still lead to injury and is action oriented, without being a fight.
  • Shoot for at least a Hard check, and ask the player how they want to resolve the situation and what skill they wish to use to resolve the situation.  
  • Failure in action oriented scenes can cause wounds, strain, or even criticals  (if you chose to upgrade the check).  In addition, a character that fails an Obligation related check might gain 5 Obligation  (or reduce their total by 5 if successful), a character that fails a Duty check fails to get any Duty, and if they succeed, they gain 5 Duty, and a character that fails a Morality related skill check gains a point of Conflict.

The scene framed happens a day or two before the adventure starts, if it make sense.  Any wounds or crits the character picked up carries over.  Essentially the character has an in media res scene that takes place before the actual adventure that only features them, which resolves quickly and carries over a bit into the main adventure.

Individual Tracking

If you are running a campaign where it's going to be fairly likely that people wander in or out of the campaign, you may not want to assess the usual advantage for Duty characters adding their totals together, but keep their Duty totals separate.  As far as Obligation goes, assemble the Obligation chart per session, adding in the people that use that mechanic.  Morality is already a personally tracked item.

What Do I Know About the Force and Destiny Campaign?

So, what's going on in the Force and Destiny game?

I'm going to level with you.  Things move pretty fast in the Force and Destiny game.  We're on the run a lot.  We debate a lot.  So I may miss some things here or there.

To recap where we are at currently:

  • Both Twi'leks and the Gand are paragons of the Light Side.
  • The Mirialan, Chiss, and my Ithorian are not  (stay tuned).
  • We know our human Jedi was murdered, but not by whom.
  • We headed to Dantooine to look for some artifacts, because it seemed safer than Yavin 4.
  • I'm still hearing the voice of a Jedi Master from a holocron that I found.
  • Nobody else hears that Jedi Master.
  • We have another holocron that he recorded earlier in his career.
Upon finding some ruins on Dantooine, we head to where a lost temple should be.  I managed to navigate the party through all of the old Jedi portions of the temple, as I "remember" what it looks like.

The party is a bit concerned about my connection to the mysterious Jedi Master near my head, off to the side.  I pointed out that it is possible that I am just similarly attuned to the gatekeeper of the holocron, which lets me "hear" the gatekeeper even when it's not activated.

That's a thing, right?

We find a workshop deep in the temple complex.  Our Chiss shadow wants to build a new lightsaber for herself, and she starts making plans.  We also manage to find a package, and within the package is a demonic looking mask that appears to amplify fear when utilized by the wearer. I am definitely against using it, but Ritati thinks it might be useful "under the right circumstances."

I am certain Ritati would never make a lightsaber that looks like that.

Further into the temple complex, we find some big doors that the holocron that talks to everybody says haven't been opened by the Jedi, and this section of the temple pre-dates the Jedi portion of the temple by many thousands of years.

Our Gand mystic gets into an argument with the gatekeeper that he can hear  (getting into an argument with the one he can't hear would be a cause for concern).  Things happened.  Hogan, my Ithorian, may have made a comment in front of the Rakata holographic representative that we were Force sensitives, which may have made all of the Rakata equipment kind of hungry for a snack.

We argued about going into the Rakata ruins.  Our cam droid got blown up by Rakata droids.  Eventually we decided it was our responsibility to make sure the Rakata ruins weren't a danger to the farmers on Dantooine now that they were opened.

The ruins were filled with droids, which we managed to convince not to kill or each our Force sensitivity, and weird creatures kept in cages.  As we ventured further into the ruins, we found a volcanic cavern which was inhabited by a four armed mutant Rancor of some kind.

At this point, in hindsight, mistakes may have been made.

  • Ritati put on the demon mask
  • A bit taken in by his fear, Hogan used his powers to harm the Rancor
Simpler times for Hogan.  Before the scary four armed mutant Rancor.

The Gand mystic managed to influence the mutant four armed rancor away.  All the tension drained out of the room.  Sort of.  Except that Hogan had fallen to the Dark Side, fairly certain that he should be causing fear in his enemies if he wanted to keep himself and his allies safe, and Ritati, who is unable to remove the mask, totally understands where Hogan is coming from.

Tune in next session as we topple the Emperor!  Okay, it may take more than one session.

What Do I Know About the Iron Kingdoms Campaign?

If you read this blog  (and I know there might actually be one or two that do . . . I think), then you may have noticed the death of my dearly beloved Rhulic merchant, accountant, trader, bounty hunter, and mercenary, Jurg Cragscale.  By a ghost.  In the basement of our new headquarters.

So far the team has yet to replace the company treasurer.  Admiral Doctor Sir Titimus, our Gobber, is a little too eager to take the position, so the rest of the team has been resistant to his offers.

By decree of the Stonegrinder Irregular's captain, the party decided to rest a bit and hire a few more hands before exploring the ruins more fully, and potentially clearing them out.  This led to hiring our Trollkin, who actively hates Khadorans, and who has no language in common with anyone.

He arrived on the barge, not able to actually talk to the captain, and began eating food.  Our support Gobbers could speak with him, but that made translations a bit shaky.

While the Trollkin was "introducing" himself to our captain, Dahlia and Titimus found my new character, the dashing, handsome, and somewhat on the run Khadoran mercenary Alexi, and his traveling companion, the alchemist and somewhat thief-like Anastasia.  We were eating in a fine establishment in Five Fingers, living off the allowance that Alexi's mother sends him.

Thankfully, Alexi and the Trollkin share a language in common.  Alexi, he is not so good with nuance, so he has not fully picked up on the fact that the Trollkin hates him with a burning passion.  Alexi is a bit thick witted, but ever so charming, so I'm sure eventually he'll make the Trollkin forget the slaughter of his people.  That stuff never lasts.

At any rate, new people hired, bad translations made, the Stonegrinder Irregulars set off to explore their own basement again.

Going further than we did last time, where the heart and soul of the team, dear departed Jurg died, we discovered a room with a pit and spikes.  Alexi's exuberant spirit infected the whole team, and rather than looking for mechanisms that might trigger a pit trap or the floor to drop out, we threw some boards over the pit and walked across.

Still exuberant, we found a wall that we brute force levered up off the ground, and despite signs that other similar contraptions had broken nearby, we shoved some debris under the door after we levered the door up off the ground and went still further into the Basement of Ancient Dooms.

Titimus and Dahlia were watching behind us while the rest of us bravely and valiantly explored a hallway full of doors.  And by bravely and valiantly, I mean that most of the time the Trollkin and Alexi would walk up to the door, wait for anyone else to tell them not to do so, and proceed to break the door down, either with an axe or a blasting pike.

Ghosts showed up and moved the makeshift bridge we made.  We decisively stayed in the tomb as this happened, as if to show the ghosts we weren't afraid to join them.  Their counterpoint to this particular non-maneuver maneuver was to knock the supports holding the door that we leveled up off the ground out of the way, trapping us further into the tomb.  Well played ghosts . . . I don't know how we could have seen that gambit coming  (at least, Alexi wouldn't have).

After breaking down several doors, including a door that probably led to a stash of evil Orgoth artifacts  (which none of us could identify), which cannot now be closed, we continued our tactic of opening every door in the dungeon so as to allow for maximum possibilities for exploration.  Or something.  Alexi is pretty sure that the point of the exercise is to free everything, find a defensible position with a bottleneck, and fight the entire dungeon at one time, with himself and the Trollkin as the battlements for the rest of the party to shoot around.  It's not like that wasn't how he was used in the Khador military.

The group ended up with most of the doors behind us broken open, sealed in this part of the tomb, in a room filled with fear gas.  We have these ghosts right where we want them!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Random Encounters, One Roll Resolution, and D&D 5E

One of the things that I have really loved about Fantasy Flight's Edge of the Empire game is that there is an optional rule for one roll resolutions of combats.  Essentially, you determine that a fight happened, but it's not one of the main plot threads you want to follow up on, but you want it to have consequences.  You set a difficulty, you have you players roll an appropriate skill check for what they did during that combat, and they either get banged up a bit  (and have some wounds they need to deal with, even if they aren't in danger of being defeated), or they pick up a clue or minor trinket from the encounter if they roll really well.

It only just recently occurred to me that you could use this same system for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, regarding random encounters and exploration turns.

One of the good things retained from 4th Edition was the chart on page 121 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.  Essentially it gives a range of DCs, attack bonuses, and damage ranges based on level for hazards, usually traps.

This same range could easily be used in a similar vein to the one roll resolution checks in Fantasy Flight's Edge of the Empire, and be used in whatever exploration turns you wish to use for your characters.

What Happens Between Here and There?

Okay, I'll admit, I'm going to borrow a bit from a third game here, using some ideas from Dungeon World.

Keep in mind, the following terms are relative.  You can determine the actual amount of time as is needed in your campaign, but the "column" used is the important part for mechanics.

Let's say your adventurers are going straight from a big city to a dungeon far away, no stops in between.  You determine that "months" is a really long time in this case.

You would then use the "Deadly" columns for difficulty and damage for any encounter that might cause your PCs injury.

If the majority of the trip takes place in the favored terrain of a party ranger, drop the difficulty down one column.  So in the above example, from "Deadly" to "Dangerous."  If the trip is already at "Setback" level, then all checks are advantage regardless of other circumstances.

Quartermaster--One PC will act as quartermaster, and make a straight intelligence save versus the appropriate DC.  If the check is successful, all of the supplies are kept in good order and everybody is fully healthy and ready to deal with the rigors of the road.  If the check is failed, supplies ran short, and everybody has a level of fatigue.

If PCs have some magic that lets them store food, a means of creating food and water every day, or twice as many provisions as the trip will require, don't worry about this step.

Hunting and Foraging--If the PCs decide to forgo actually buying provisions, one PC  (who cannot be the same PC performing another function on this list), can hunt and forage for food, making a Survival check against the appropriate DC.  If the PCs decide to supplement by bringing at least half the of provisions they need, this check is made with advantage.

If this option is taken, and failed, instead of gaining one level of fatigue, the party members gain two levels of fatigue from their lack of proper provisions.

Guide--The PCs can either have a party member make a Knowledge (Nature) check or a Survival check to guide them from their home base to their destination.  If they have a detailed, accurate map, give them advantage on this roll.

Failure on this check means one of two things.  The path didn't go well.  The PCs either got lost, or they wandered into some natural phenomenon that was especially dangerous.

If the PCs opt to be lost, they gain a level of fatigue, and then make another check.  The total time traveled  (assuming the DM is keeping track for campaign purposes) increases by 50% by each failed check.  If the next check is failed, the PCs have the same decision to make  (dangerous natural terrain or being lost).

Each additional check is made with advantage.  Eventually the PCs will start to see the same landmarks and know what to avoid and where they have been before.

Scout--The scout is checking for tracks and signs of travelers, animals, and potentially hostile creatures in the area.  The scout is making either a perception or a survival check to notice ambushes, lairs, and the like.

If this roll fails, there will be a dangerous encounter that could potentially damage the party.

Dangerous Natural Terrain

The PCs come across a cliff face that they didn't realize was there and some of them might fall.  A forest fire causes them to get singed and breathe in smoke.  A flash flood might buffet them against rocks and trees.  An avalanche might buffet them with rocks.

Look at the terrain, and determine the hazard.  Explain what is going on, and that it is going to do damage.  The DC to avoid the damage is going to be the same one way or the other.  But once you describe the hazard, let the PCs explain what skills, abilities, or class features they will use to avoid the hazard.

There must be a check involved.  A wizard that wants to avoid falling down a cliff by casting fly might still have to make a perception check to notice the hazard in time to cast, for example.  However, if that same wizard wants to say that he blasts the rocks of an avalanche to keep himself safe, let him make an attack roll with his usual spellcasting bonus.

A character may chose to make their check at disadvantage to grant an ally advantage, so long as they can explain how they are aiding their friend.

  • Each time the PCs take damage, they may be healed by spells or use hit dice as normal.

Dangerous Monstrous Encounter

The party runs into someone or something that wants to do them harm.  The DM can still roll on encounter charts if he wants to have an idea of what the encounter is, or he may just know what tends to harrow travelers in the region.  Since these encounters have consequences across the whole trip, there may not be one single encounter, but a running fight with a band of bandits or a tribe of orcs.

Describe what the PCs are facing, in general terms.  Bandits, orcs, dragons swooping out of the sky.  Then allow them to describe how they are attempting to avoid harm.  The DC will be the same  (although there is potentially a second part to this encounter resolution), but there must be a test involved.

For example, a rogue may very well decide to hide from danger whenever it comes about.  In that case, they are making a stealth check to avoid damage.  As above, a character might roll at a disadvantage to grant an ally advantage.  For example, the stealthy rogue might be slitting throats from behind to help his allies, but not directly confronting anyone.

If a PC fails their check against the monstrous encounter, use the attack bonus given under the appropriate column.  If it hits, the PCs take damage from the encounter.  If it misses, they still managed to get out without a scratch.

  • After the PCs take damage, they may be healed by spells or use hit dice as normal.

Upon Arrival

Every spell, hit dice, or resource used, as well as every level of fatigue, is present when the PCs arrive at their destination.  All of the above is to model the aggregate effects of the trip.  So if the PCs traveled for months to reach the Temple of Ultimate Doom and Treasure Storing, as soon as they arrive at the doorstep of the dungeon, they have all of the wounds and fatigue they accrued, as well as lacking all of the spells they used on the way here.  If they want to take rests to recover anything at this point, it will be right here, at adventure central, with whatever consequences that might bring.


As often is the case when I think of something and try to capture it here, there are rules interactions I may not have thought about, and I have not had a chance to try these out in a game myself.  If you see a potential problem, I'd love to discuss it.  If you use this system, I'd also love to hear about it.

In case it isn't clear or I missed a reference here or there, the following games influenced this post:

  • Star Wars--Edge of the Empire  (one roll combat resolution)
  • 13th Age  (narrative based travel)
  • Dungeon World  (party roles for exploration)
  • The One Ring  (for making travel and hazards a really important part of the adventure)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's My Motivation?

Something that strikes me about comments I've heard from time to time about DMs/GMs in class and level based kitching sink fantasy roleplaying games.

While nobody wants to feel like they are being railroaded into doing a specific thing, I've seen people take this to the extreme of having characters not want to take on jobs or adventures to present themselves because they don't know why their character would take that job.

Now, this makes sense in some cases.  If the job in question is some kind of heist, it may be hard to figure out why the paladin or the cleric of the god of law and order will take the job.

But when you get a treasure map to the Dungeon of Vast Mysterious Lost Things, or you have a patron that wants you to investigate a mysterious forest, and you turn down the adventure because you want to know exactly how dangerous it will be and exactly how much reward will be involved, it makes me wonder something.

In Shadowrun, the assumption is that you are playing runners, people looking to make money and take on jobs.  In Call of Cthulhu, you are playing Investigators, people that will run into weird stuff and look into it instead of ignoring it and going home and sleeping with the lights on for the rest of your life.  In Deathwatch you play Space Marines tasked with killing xenos, etc.

In D&D/Pathfinder/d20 whatever you aren't playing average everyday folk who just happen to have a level of fighter or wizard.  You are playing adventurers.  If you don't like the adventures presented to you by the GM, then tell him what kind of trouble you are getting into on your own, or what kind of job you are looking for.

If your adventurer is starting to strike you as someone that might rather settle down and retire unless their patron can assure them that they will be taking two score hirelings to burn down the tents of a goblin warband that they outnumber two to one, and then only take the job if it involves four digit figures of gold pieces . . . think about retiring that character in favor of someone more inclined to wrestle an owlbear for 10 silver pieces on a dare.

The assumption is that you want to be a hero, rich, famous, or powerful, and you are willing to risk your life to do one or more of the above.  Sure, the GM should try to tailor some of the campaign to your character, but you shouldn't make the GM jump through hoops and resort to Plan E just to get you to leave the Inn either.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Moment of Silence for Jurg Cragscale (Iron Kingdoms Recap)

Just in time for the game this Thursday, the miniature that I ordered to represent Jurg Cragscale came in.  Not only that, but one of my friends modified it a bit right off the bat so that he could be holding the sword-cannon bit that I also purchased so that Jurg would be on his way to looking the way he should.

Now, I was a bit daunted about getting him painted.  I'm not good at such things, but, hey, such things are the concern of the future.  For tonight I had a fairly accurate representation of Jurg, with the right weapon and everything, painted or not.

Exciting times!

Our group had earned the deed to an island out in the bay off the coast of Five Fingers.  We survived our clash with Khador and our employment by the Protectorate.  Now we just had to figure out how to get to our new home and clean out any potential squatters that might be out there.

Our Rhulic warcaster Couth, the badly injured Ogrun bodyguard Tokol, and our Nyss  (whose player wasn't present) stayed in camp outside of Five Fingers while the Iosan Dahlia, and the Gobber went with my dwarf to check on legal records and the history of the island, as well as to find a barge or something seaworthy to ferry our wagon and warjack out to the island.

Eventually I wanted to talked to my contacts in the Searforge Commission about trading our captured Khadoran warjack for a Rhulic model, but first, we needed to get some information and a barge.  I talked to my contacts, but only to send a payment in on the contract my old group had before they died.  Unbeknownst to me, Dahlia also contacted her "real" employers, letting them know she killed a human warcaster.  And our gobber wandered off.  He actually did some pre-negotiating before we found him, talking to a human and an Ogrun merchant about used watercraft.

This is not the Dahlia you are looking for. 

We got a new hat for the gobber in an attempt to lure him to us.  I only had to trade my hat for the impressive captain's hat that the gobber  (not our own Sir Doctor-Admiral Titimus, another gobber) was wearing, pumping up it's value by telling all of the stories associated with my time wearing said hat.

We attracted a few more gobbers than I intended with this trick, but Titimus eventually showed up, and we talked to both dealers, and cut a deal with the Ogrun for a solid hull of a riverboat that could serve as a barge.

We met up with the rest of the party, and mysteriously, by the end of the night, our gobber employees  (again, not Sir Doctor-Admiral Titimus, who is clearly a full member of the company) had brought us enough parts for our dwarven warcaster to assemble into a working engine.  They also seemed anxious to go once they brought us the parts.

My research found that there were many people that visited the island, especially adventuresome teens, and that many did not return from the island.  Watch reports indicated that they had likely been pressed into service on various ships in the area.  Still, a lot of disappearances.  The family that had owned the island were worshipers of Menoth and hand deeded the island to the faith.  60 years ago they died, and thus, the Protectorate paid us with their holdings.

The island was small, consisting of a dock and a keep that took up most of the land.  Going in, we were fairly certain something nasty had taken up residence and that the disappearances were probably not just related to press ganging.  We did a fairly careful sweep of the whole keep, before we finally found the sub-levels.

Oh, those wacky sub-levels.

Couth was in the lead, followed by our Tokol, Dahlia, me, and Titimus in the rear.  Our warcaster found the meatier undead lumbering from the crypt before us about the same time that the ghostly undead dropped in to surprise Titimus.

Thankfully, Titimus wasn't fighting the ghost all by himself for very long.  It dropped through the floor, right in front of me.

There was a great deal of ebb and flow in the fight.  It came right down to the wire.  In the end, the Tokol and my beloved Jurg were dead, our boss, Couth had lost an eye and was knocked out, but the rest of the party were victorious.

At this point Titimus reverently looted the bodies, and then proceeded to find every religious symbol anywhere in the keep and threw it in the room before they sealed up the door behind them.

The moral to the story is:  never, ever customize a miniature.  Having a miniature and a detailed backstory is just asking for character death.  Next session, we will all mourn, and then I get to roll out my next character, who may be tempting fate with a semi-detailed backstory, but will never, ever, ever have a customized miniature.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Words "Kobayashi Maru" Do Not Exist In This Universe (Force and Destiny RPG Recap)

When last we left our intrepid exiled Jedi Knights, they had witnessed their shuttle being violated by amorous Icetrompers.  Other stuff happened as well, but that was probably the most noteworthy.  Well, that, and they were traveling across Hoth on Tauntauns carrying a Jedi artifact and another box of Important Jedi Stuff that we had yet to open, because Gand mystic's meditations said the box wasn't of immediate importance to getting off the planet.

A snowspeeder was rapidly approaching us, and leaping out of the snowspeeder was a Zabrak wearing furs and a talisman with a crystal set in it.  The way he jumped out of a moving speeder made it pretty obvious that he was a Force adept of some kind.  It was made even more obvious when he punched Triseth, damaged his armor, and sent him skidding backwards.

Most of us circled around the Zabrak, and briefly discussed whether we should be careful and not use lethal force.  After all, he was a Force user, and maybe we could bring him into the fold.  While we where having that debate, our Jedi shadow Ritati crept over to the snowspeeder and identified Imperial markings on the vehicle.

The Zabrak's mind was shielded from "Schick," our Gand mystic, and his Force assisted martial arts were keeping the rest of us busy.  Bynder (our Twi'lek Jedi hunter) and Triseth managed to take the Zabrak down, but not before Bynder used his flame thrower to catch the Zabrak, Triseth, and Ilvar'sen on fire.  Thankfully Hogan  (my Ithorian healer) got to use his healing powers and feel very useful.

"Who gave out this number? I don't want to risk Squib telemarketers . . . "

Ritati had some . . . difficulty . . . slicing the com unit on the snowspeeder and accidentally opened a channel to the Emperor.   No, seriously.  Apparently our Zabrak friend was an Emperor's Hand, and Ritati had Sheev on speed dial.  He indicated that his Inquisitors already knew we existed and were looking for us, which was a bit disappointing, as galactic level news goes.

Ritati explained this to the group by saying, "my job is not to be seen, which I've obviously failed tonight."

We pressed on to the alternate landing zone for our other shuttle, near the mysterious power generator that we noticed on sensor sweeps.  Apparently that mysterious power generator was the property of a group of proto-rebels on Hoth.  They took our pilot prisoner, and wanted to know who we were.  Before we could get very far into the discussion, we found out that a task force of Star Destroyers were above the planet.

Schick's vision was clouded by the Dark Side, but I let my fear guide me to look for a way to survive, and found that we had a chance to survive if we managed to send out a decoy ship at the same time we left, splitting the Imperial response to our leaving the planet.  The proto-rebels were very upset with us, but a volunteer from their ranks joined with Bynder, who would take the meditation map that amplified Force senses, and "broadcast" his position as they left the planet.

We jumped out of the system, and made our way to Yavin 4  (a place on the star charts that indicated it might have some Force related relics).  Against all odds, Bynder and Smalls Darklighter  (our proto-rebel contact) survived, but nearly died.  Bynder got limb replacement, we filled up the Bacta tanks, and started probing Yavin 4.

We found a big dot of Dark Side power on the planet.  Schick was again clouded by the Dark Side, which wouldn't let him have any details about the Big Dark Spot that he sensed.  I made an impossible Lore check and remembered looking into old legends and myths and recalled a story that claimed (unverified, of course) that Exar Kun had died on Yavin 4 and his spirit had been imprisoned there.

We decided that if the myths were accurate, and if the Big Dark Spot was Exar Kun's spirit, we may want to wait to find any relics on Yavin 4.  Smalls Darklighter left, and we started making plans for where to go next, but not before we placed the mediation mat in the reliquary's hidden storage, and opened the other box.

The other box was filled with lightsaber crystals, which we set about distributing to the Jedi Knights on the ship.  Bynder, who had lost his lightsaber years before, began to make plans to build a new one, while Triseth began wearing the Zabrak's medallion, which gave his body properties similar to those found in Cortosis.

Despite all of this, none of us have really gotten together to talk about the fact that the Inquisitors knew we existed, found our master and killed him, and that the Emperor already had people looking for us.  Given that we have a ship full of people that may not be as dedicated to the vision of restoring the Jedi Order as we are, we might have a problem.  But none of us are really talking about it.

Showdown in Khador (Iron Kingdoms RPG Recap)

Our ill-advised by deifically suggested employment was about to come to a head as the Stonegrinder Irregulars continued their march to the edge of Protectorate held Lael, towards Riversmet.

What did our hero Jurg Cragscale learn this session?

  • Scrutators apparently don't understand the difference between theoretically explaining how bribery works to your interested party members and actually practicing briber, which Jurg would never do in a situation that would make it likely that he would get set on fire.
  • Heading into Khadoran held territory and trying to read Menoth scripture to figure out how Menite informed or Protectorate law works is unlikely to work when one does not read Khadoran.  Thankfully, our helpful Iosan second in command was willing to read me a "bed time story."
  • Gobbers use the word "admiral" very loosely.
Heading towards our ultimate goal, we had two significant exchanges with Khador's military.  The first one involved impressive numbers, but not as much firepower, and we managed to survive that one without many injuries, especially when our Gobber driven wagon was able to run over a good number of them.

The second engagement was more . . . daunting.

Jurg's dear, ever appreciated Ogren bodyguard nearly died in that fight.  There weren't quite as many Khadorans, but they brought a warcaster, a warjack, and a few Man O Wars to the engagement the second time around.

Unfortunately our fearless leader's warjack isn't quite up to a one on one fight with Khador's models.  Also, we learned it doesn't have any head butting pistons in it's neck.  Still, we managed to shell the Urcaen out of a lot of them.  Our Iosan who I have no idea is a member of the Retribution was irrationally excited to sneak in and try to kill their warcaster.

Oh, and we may have gotten backup from the Avatar.  A little.

Before the Khadoran warcaster went away, however, his warjack managed to do quite a bit of damage to our Ogren, and I didn't have a chance to call for help until I had dispatched the Man O War that had pretty good odds of killing me as well, had I not gotten a bit lucky.

In the end, the Harbinger of Menoth rewarded us with some coin and the deed to an island out in the bay off of Five Fingers. And we managed to scavenge a Khadoran warjack, which we're going to try and trade for a more useful Rhulic warjack.  Oh, and the boss managed to save our Ogren's life before he bled to death, so that was good.  Our wagon didn't fare too well though.  The "admiral" was sad.

We made it all the way back to Ord, outside of Five Fingers, waiting to get a ride into town that can carry all of our stuff to the right places as we gear up to clear whatever might be on our abandoned island off of said island.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Geek Television Roundup

I'm caught up on everything I'm watching in my geeky spheres, except for Arrow, because I missed a bunch of last season and I'm waiting to catch up on Netflix.  I have to say, I'm kind of suffering from an embarrassment of riches right now.

Star Wars Rebels

I love this show.  It's like watching someone playing a good Star Wars RPG campaign put to animation, and it feels like classic Star Wars.  Out of the four episodes I've seen, two were great, one was good, and one was okay, but was understandably whimsical.  So long as we maintain that ratio, I'm going to be happy.


Flash loves being a superhero.  Barry is an endearing nerd, instead of being a clone of Wally.  We have a "voice" in show making sure we know what the supervillains should be called, they even managed to (directly) address the problems that other TV superheroes  (and some movie ones at that) have in killing off their villains.  Really pleased with this one so far.

Flash is the kind of show that isn't afraid to actually be about a superhero, which seems to be the biggest hurdle DC has when making movies based on their own properties.  Now I'm just hoping that reference to Grodd wasn't a Easter egg they never intend to follow up on.


I'm pleasantly surprised with this one.  Yeah, its a name dropping police procedural with a side order of long term conspiracy theory looking to be solved.  It's not ground breaking, but its kind of comfortable.  Batman used to be one of my favorite characters, until overexposure and reliance upon the cash cow made me groan at the mention of him, but somehow I'm enjoying this.

That said, this one has the potential to really swing wide to the other side.  I'm not sure how much they can do with this series before they have to either keep treading the same paths or wildly diverging from the Batman mythos.  The early introduction of the precursor to the Venom drug has me a little worried, and I'd complain about the age disparity between Riddler and Batman if I didn't really like the idea of Edward Nygma as a CSI.

Agents of SHIELD

Wow is my opinion of this show different than it was when it first started.  It's almost like the series started a few months too early and had to tread water until they could really pull out all of the stops.  All of my complaints about the least interesting characters on the show have pretty much been resolved.  I even kind of like Skye now, which is like saying "I warmed up to Jar Jar."

Characters that were bland have a lot more depth, the show has a much more focused direction than it did at first, and new, interesting characters have been added, and all of it is managing to introduce Marvel characters that haven't shown up in the movies yet and plot lines that tie into what is going on in the cinematic universe.  I really hope they keep this up.


I'm kind of hoping that next year I feel the same way about Constantine that I do about Agents of SHIELD now.  I didn't hate Agents of SHIELD when it came out, but it felt bland, like it needed a little something else to really get my interest up.  Constantine feels the same way to me.  I like the way Constantine is being portrayed, but there is something missing.  Of the two episodes I've watched, neither one felt particularly compelling, like Constantine needs something to do while the showrunners build up the Coming Darkness later in the season.

I don't dislike it, I just wish I liked it more.  I wish I could put my finger on what's not working for me.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

That Poor Ship (Force and Destiny Session Two)

Disclaimer:  What you are about to read occurred a whole week before anyone in the public saw the Rebels episode "Rise of the Old Masters."  What does that have to do with anything?  Well, you'll see. 

Our team of intrepid Jedi in hiding were tasked with finding Force sensitives and artifacts, keeping them safe on our ship as we travel through the galaxy.  The first place we were going to look for artifacts would be Hoth, specifically in the ancient Starship Graveyard.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, there were already pirates in orbit above the planet.

Apparently for a cut of whatever could be salvaged, they were escorting someone else that knew there were Force artifacts on the planet.  On our way down to the planet, we tried to casually circle, but were hailed by the pirates and given a landing zone.

The pirates told us that we were losing our ship, one way or the other, but they might leave us alone to snag something valuable as long as we didn't put up a fight.  We knew we weren't stranded on Hoth, but they didn't.

At any rate, things happened kind of quickly at this point.  Our Gand mystic ran onto the ship and triggered a device that produced pheromones, and he set them for Ice Trompers.  While our negotiations were turning emphatic and threatening, the trompers arrived.

For some strange reason, our Mirialan grabbed my Ithorian and ran onto the ship.  The Mirialan thought that the ship was still cycling, rather than being completely shut down.  So we were trapped on a ship that had to be started cold.  Thus, the Gand, the Mirialan, and my Ithorian were on the ship.

Our Twi'lek hunter was busy negotiating, and another of our Twi'leks was with him.  The human and Chiss members of the group used the arrival of the Ice Trompers to slip away to find the artifact undetected.

The Ice Trompers provided a distraction because the massive creatures were all surrounding our shuttle attempting to mate with it.  Those of us on the ship had an . . . enlightening view of the entire situation.  We weathered the storm, so to speak, but before we get to our plight, our human and Chiss Jedi had their own adventure.

The human and the Chiss found the ship that housed the artifacts, and found a sealed box as well as some old Jedi battle robes and other ancient equipment. They then tracked down the Gand Findsman that had another box that contained artifacts, and they ambushed him.

The trompers did enough damage to the ship that it was difficult to get out of the ship.  While the Mirialan and the Gand were trying to open the doors, my Ithorian grabbed an item on the ground outside the door using the Force and threw it at the release, opening the door.

. . . and revealing to the pirates that I was Force sensitive.  The negotiations took a very tense turn at that point, since there was likely a bounty on me.  To save everybody else, Hogan turned himself over and claimed that he was the only Jedi fugitive and that the rest of the party knew nothing about his presence.

Thinking quickly, the Gand claimed my bounty as the one valuable thing the pirates would let us claim, and we went on our way.  As we put some distance between ourselves and pirates, I apologized profusely to my friends, and swore to never use my Jedi powers in a reckless or obvious manner again.

. . . at which point the human came leaping back to the rest of us using Force leaps to cover the distance.

Between the Gand and our Twi'lek hunter/survivalist, we wrangled some Tauntauns.  We got to ride Tauntauns!  We were going to travel to the other side of the planet, to the mysterious power generator that we found on our readings earlier, where we should have members of our crew and another shuttle waiting.

We stumbled into a bit of an ambush from some snow cats, but managed them handily enough, and didn't lose our tauntauns.

In the meantime, we found a meditation mat that could amplify the ability of a Jedi to utilize their Jedi senses, in time to feel something powerful and malevolent coming right to us . . .

A Nice Stroll Into the War Zone (Iron Kingdoms Session Two)

So, I mentioned that our intrepid team of mercenaries, the Stonegrinder Irregulars, were hired by the Harbinger of Menoth.  We were invited into her service by multiple fanatics that ran themselves to death delivering her message.  Which of course made us reluctant to say no and just a little terrified of taking the job.

After looking at the various paths we could take to get to our new job, we "wisely" decided to hug the river as we traveled on the edge of the Thornwood.  Before you look at me that way, there really wasn't a good way to get from point A to point B.  Plus, we have a warjack.  Sure, he's small, but he's intimidating.  

A few days into the trip, while camping, we had some visitors.  Nice, friendly Duskwolves.  Well, friendly may have been an overstatement.  They were hungry, and willing to gnaw on us.  There were injuries on both sizes, but only fatalities on one, so that's a good thing.  In the end, my fearless Ogren bodyguard was seriously snacked upon, but he survived, and began the road to good health as we secured passage up the river.

I got to negotiate with a river pirate . . . er . . . I mean a fine river captain for hire.  He did warn us that if there was any sign of trouble, mainly Khador forces, we would get a partial discount and be dropped off the first place that was feasible.  

We had a long boring trip down the river, until we found lots and lots of trees torn up.  It was pretty obvious that this wasn't the work of a storm or anything mundane, and our dear captain decided to refund our cash and drop us off on the banks.

This is when I was inspired as to what our new company uniforms were going to look like.  Durable, supple, thick leather coats and boots, maybe gloves.  And lots of them, to account for new members of the company in the future.

I knew what I uniforms were going to look like because we found out what those uniforms were going to be made out of, and incidentally, what had knocked all of those trees down.  A huge reptilian creature, a Dracodile.  

I would like to say I was useful in this fight.  I guess I was after a fashion.  I gave orders to our allies in order to keep firing on the beast, which gave them a little boost to attack.  Other than that, I just wasted a lot of ammunition on the beast.  

As our Ogren was nearly recovered from the long trip up the river, unfortunately our Nyss storm sorcerer was plucked from the top of the wagon, shook around violently, and dropped back into our wagon, badly injured.  I managed to shoot a tree in the dracodile's path, which kept its jaws busy, briefly.

It took a combination of our Iosan investigator tossing grenades down the creature's gullet and the Ogren beating it repeatedly in the head, and some shelling from the warjack before it died.  And then we had uniform material!  The dracodile may have also swallowed a Khadoran Man O War.  Our fearless leader had us bury the man's body out of respect.  

Eventually we made it to the Protectorate camp, and were escorted to the Harbinger of Menoth. The Harbinger and her forces were pretty impressive.  Apparently our crew were to escort the Harbinger and a small force while her big, obvious forces moved another route and drew the attention of various forces.  

I strongly suspect there is more at play than a simple escort mission, but our team is getting paid their own island in the bay around Five Fingers.  Plus we have uniform material now.  

Personal Observations

I was the annoying player this session.  I'm not sure what was wrong with me, but once I hit on the whole uniform joke, I ran it into the ground.  Had I mentioned it once and then maybe again once the dracodile was dead, it would have been fine, but I had to be getting on everyone's nerves.

I also wasn't having any great ideas for my unorthodox combat ability.  I was giving very boring "orders" when I was giving people boosts, when I should have been thinking of something that sounded much better roleplaying wise.  My negotiation was even pretty weak from a roleplaying point of view.

So, if anybody from the game reads this, I'm sorry I was more of a pain than usual.  I really will try to be less annoying and more useful.