Sunday, December 8, 2013

So Much To Like, But I Can't Get Past the Wards (Dresden Files RPG)

I really like the Dresden Files novels.  I worked my rear end off getting more or less caught up with the series once I started reading them, because some friends recommended them and I was so happy when I started reading them.  Since I'm a gamer, this led me to the RPG, which I picked up, which becomes a more interesting story.

If you like Dresden, you aren't likely to be disappointed with the fiction and sidebar information in these books, even if you agree about the magic system

I had a very hard time picking up the Fate rules from the Dresden Files RPG books.  I really like them, and they are very pretty, and great sourcebooks for the material. I love the sidebars written in the voice of the characters.  But to actually learn the base mechanics, there just seemed to be too much digression and odd ordering of presentation of the rules, so that I didn't really get a handle on what was going on until I got my preview copy of Fate Core.

This really is a slick RPG system and a nice book, and you can't beat the PDF price

Once I understood the system,  not only did I love the sourcebook material, and the additional in setting fiction, but I really liked the tools to create a lot of "urban fantasy" tropes, like werewolves and half-vampires and fey knights.

But the part I'm still not thrilled with, and the part that makes me hesitant to run the game, is magic.  Especially magic as practiced by the White Council wizards.

It's not that I don't understand how the rules work, but I guess you could say my problems fall into two camps with the rules as written.

1.  While I've not run, or played Fate yet, from most of what I have seen, its a system that greatly benefits from maintaining the flow of the session.  Most of the rules can be remembered without ever cracking a book.  Sure, you may not remember how many refresh a given stunt costs, or how many sessions before you can raise a skill, or how many skills you bump up at a milestone, but that is all stuff you can look up between sessions.

While I'm sure that you eventually get used to the multiple skills, how backlash works, rotes, and how focus items fit into the entire situation, there is going to be a lot of page flipping going on at first if someone wants to play someone like Harry in your game.

2.  Beyond the complexity by itself, it just feels like a lot of the way magic works is counter intuitive to how things work in Fate to begin with.

Want to show backlash for a spell that someone manages to cast that is still beyond their ability to fully control?  That sounds like Succeeding with a Major or Minor Cost or a Compel at just the right moment.

How many focus items do I have, and what do they effect?  Why not break down focus items as their own stunts so that the rules are buried in the same rules for spellcasting and the like.  While lots of wizards do seem to have focus items, it doesn't seem like it's mandatory, so I'm not sure why it's part of the package, and separating the rules into their own stunt would seem more logical.

Magic items?  Again, if something like the Swords of the Cross or the Warden's Swords are stunts, why aren't magic items that a character makes on their own?  It's Fate, so is it really that important to delineate between an item you inherited or found or one that you made, in the rules?

Consumable magic items . . . couldn't most of those be modeled with Create an Advantage?  Possibly with stunts that specifically pertain to getting bonuses from items in very specific instances when you make a potion that does X or Y?

Look, pretty dice!

When I started going back and forth between Fate Core and the Dresden Files book to get a handle on the rules, there were so many times when I ran across the baseline way that Fate does something and then thought that would probably be how the Dresden Files RPG handled a given "thing," only to find out that the book had a whole other, much more complicated way of doing something that the rules already covered really well.

In a perfect world, it would be great to have the Dresden Files RPG out as a supplement to the Fate Core book, without all of the mechanics detailed, and the only rules content being stats and stunts specific to the setting.  I think the all-in-one method made rules presentation more confusing, and the fact that it was it's own RPG based on Fate, instead of being a supplement to the core rules  (which I realize didn't exist when the game came out) just encouraged proprietary sub-systems that didn't need to exist.

As it stands, I have lots of ideas about running a game in the Dresden universe.  I really like the city building information in the book, and most of the stunts are a great set of tools for Urban Fantasy of many different stripes, not just Dresden.  The book is great at making me want to play in this universe.  I just don't know if I want to use magic as it appears in the book, and I don't know that I want to spend the time making up my own list of stunts and suggestions for existing game rules.

I certainly don't regret buying the game, but I'm not sure I would want to run it as is, or would want to invest the time in modifying the system to work the way it should in my brain.

All of that having been said, I'm eagerly awaiting the Dresden Files Fate Accelerated Edition, even if it's going to be quite a bit down the road before it comes out.  I'm hoping there will be a lot more suggestions on how to flavor FAE to fit Dresden and less bolting on of complex subsystems.

Disclaimer:  The subsystems may work just fine.  I haven't played the game, and they may work great.  But as presented, I'm just not that excited about trying them to find out, and I've got a lot of other games on my plate that keep me from wanting to give something I'm not excited about a spin.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Shamelessly Stealing From Other Systems--A Fate Core Idea for Edge of the Empire

While it hasn't come up yet, I was contemplating what I would do to break the deadlock if all of the Destiny Points at the table went all Light or all Dark.  While the core rules mention that the GM can intervene if he thinks the players are intentionally "locking up" the Destiny points, I wanted a more fun, more even handed solution that would be in place right from the start.

Then it occurred to me that there is a really neat solution from Fate that could be implemented.  Compelling Destiny!

If the Destiny points are all Dark or all Light, the players or the GM may Compel their Destiny.  It works like this:

If the Destiny Pool is completely given over to the Dark Side, one of the players may propose something bad that will happen to their character as Destiny has it's way with them.  While the GM has to agree to whatever might happen, it's up to the player to come up with what bad thing might happen to their character.  It might mean upgrading the difficulty of a check, or having a particularly bad consequence befall the character that they can't immediately mitigate.

Once this consequence is agreed upon, the player gets to flip one of the Destiny points from Dark to Light.

If all of the Destiny points are Light side, the GM may come up with a particularly bad thing that will befall one of the NPCs, or may even give the players a boon that they were not expecting and not working towards.  So long as none of the players object to the proposal by the GM, the GM flips one of the Light side points over to the Dark side.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Team Aurek, Inquisitor Madness (Edge of the Empire, November 21st, 2013)

Team Aurek left on on a bit of a cliffhanger.  The team was battered and badly injured by the Ghest in the swamp, most of them were barely walking, and Katya had just seen an Inquisitor and his Shadowtroopers coming towards the house in the swamp.

Before all of this starts, Cid calls the team and mentions that he could call the mining guild friend that Team Aurek saved a few weeks back, and he might be able to sideline a transport for them to escape with  (for some Obligation).  The team is mostly against this course of action.

I think Prawn is on that one there!

Prawn also gets a call about the same time, this time from the Hutt to whom he owes so many credits.  Prawn was presumed dead for several months, but now that he has show up on the Holonet due to Drifter's video uploads, Prawn needs to make a payment, and soon.  But at least he gets to talk to his old friend, Gand the accountant.

This is where the action starts.

  • The Inquisitor briefly stops to talk to the assassin droid.  He ignites his lightsaber, hits the droid twice, and carves him up badly.  The droid shuts down, but the Inquisitor hits an old piece of Cortosis plating that shuts down his lightsaber.
  • Katya uses the Force to slide the assassin droid into the house, then charges out the door to fight the Inquisitor, sacrificing herself to save everyone else.  The Inquisitor seems to recognize her.
  • Half of the team grabs the assassin droid and the navigator and heads out the back door to the navigator's shed and his speeder.  One of the Shadowtroopers is heading around back.

  • Katya is shot by the Shadowtrooper that stays with the Inquisitor, and drops immediately.
  • Prawn sees the Shadowtrooper circling around the back of the house, runs wildly back through the house, and his grappling hook accidentally snares Katya and he drags her along with him to the damaged rented speeder that the team originally piloted.
  • Both speeders take off into the swamp before the Inquisitor or his troopers can do any further damage to the group.

  • Drifter decodes the datapad that Donra recovered last time, and finds a message from Darth Vader himself to House Mecetti, explaining that the Inquisitor is on Nyriaan investigating a shipwreck and a retired navigator that has a mysterious past.
  • On the Nyriaan Skyhook, Donra gets the ship cleared for takeoff with some flirting, but there are odd moments of dropping TK-655's name.

  • The group heads off into space, but because the Skyhook is suppose to be in lockdown, the local Star Destroyer sends a flight of four TIEs to investigate.  The ship outruns the destroyer, and fights through the TIEs.  
  • The ship is badly damaged.  They jump to Tatooine and then to Nar Shaddaa to throw the Imperials off their trail.
  • On Nar Shaddaa, they purchase a new transponder for the ship, to make them harder to trace, and Katya leaves the team, telling them that she is too much of a liability to Cid now that the Inquisitor has seen her.
  • The ship limps back to Polis Massa, and Cid welcomes them in the "buisiness" landing bay.  He tells them that he is sorry that they lost Katya, but it's time to move on to the next phase of their job, when the space station goes into lockdown, with blast doors separating Cid's business from the rest of the station.
  • Cid indicates that he thinks this is an attack by the mysterious crime lord Fade.

Catching Up With Team Besh (Edge of the Empire, November 14th, 2013)

Team Besh has been getting the short end of the stick, with various holidays falling on their night.  Thankfully (?) I had to cancel a session on Team Aurek as well, when I wasn't feeling well.

Cid's job for Team Besh, after they caught their breath a bit from the last session, was to pick up a computer core, head to the "Gateway to Huttspace," the Outland Transit Station, and use that computer core to download a copy of OB, the Czerka computer system that Team Aurek encountered, and Max later sold out to the Empire.

Phase One of Team Besh's mission is to head to Raxus Prime, talk to Xevin Naxt, and find a salvaged computer core that could be reworked for use in this mission.

  • Upon arriving in orbit around Raxus Prime, Garner contacts a legitimate salvage dealer to make their visit look less suspicious.
  • The group stalls out in their negotiation with Xevin, but when there is conflict between Xevin and his new Jawa partners, they play up this disagreement, and they get access to salvaged computer cores at the expense of Xevin's peaceful relations with his Jawa neighbors.
  • Garner makes an impression on Slim Verblixster, a licensed salvage dealer, and is a point of contact for used starship parts that can be obtained legally.

  • At the Outland Transit Station, Dia, Garner, and Krill conspire to slice slaver transit information and pass it on to Garner's contacts, thus derailing slaving operations going into Hutt Space at least to a small degree.

  • The team runs into Hast Kodam, the notorious pirate that Garner tricked into hesitating back when they completed their mission on Malastare.  He doesn't recognize them because of their new YT-2400.
  • T3 finds out that another version of him has survived and has downloaded itself into a Basilisk War Droid owned by Hast Kodam.
  • The team makes contact with OB, and manages to convince him to aid them in downloading his personality.  Krill begins to do so remotely, but it will take almost two days to completely transfer the operating computer.
  • The team runs into some gladiators that were friends of Tor'Waar, one of which has a bounty on his head.  They are upset with Dia for her role in Tor'Waar's woes.  The group is threatening, but no fight breaks out.

  • Doctor Smith attempts to take out the hostile gladiators by volunteering his skills to give the Borhek gladitorial beasts a checkup.  He "boosts" them with his medical expertise, but they still fail to finish off the gladiators.
  • The Basilisk War Droid loses his match, much to T3's delight, and Garner's chagrin, since he bet on the droid.
  • Hast offers to buy the team dinner, and is especially interested in Dia.  While the group talking with the pirate, two figures, the Gungan bounty hunter Deadeye Bodad and the Herglic mercenary Monstro Ybom mention that they are working for the mysterious crime lord Fade and they are here to take Team Besh in, dead or alive.

Playing Catch Up With Team Aurek (Edge of the Empire, November 7th, 2013)

It's a four day weekend, so I can relax by getting caught up on my game summaries from my campaign(s), while hoping that work is a little bit less stressful going into the holiday season!

Team Aurek lost a Wookiee, gained a pre-Rusaan assassin droid, and Cid has a new job for them, one that revolves around heading into the Unknown Regions to pick up a cache of pre-Republic war droids for which he has a buyer.

The coordinates are sketchy, and the Unknown Regions are tricky to navigate to begin with, so Phase One of the job is to pick up a particularly skilled navigator that Cid knows who happens to have retired on the planet Nyriaan.

In addition to the usual crew, Cid is a bit concerned about the team's escapades, and may have a secondary reason for sending the team to Nyriaan, so his personal assistant, Donra Myr, is going along as well.  (Meta explanation:  we were short two people and Dia's player is often in attendance this night as well)

  • Upon arriving at Nyriaan, Prawn is almost certain he can navigate through the storms that continually cover the planet's surface.  Katya isn't nearly as confident of Prawn's abilities, and she manages to influence the Rodian's mind, causing him to land on the Nyriaan skyhook in low orbit instead of flying directly down to the planet.
  • The party is a bit shaken by the huge lift platform that conveys them at high speed and partially without power down to the planet surface, since no one wished to pay a navigator or look for black market navigation gear.
  • Donra informs the group that she may need to keep an eye on House Mecetti interests before they round up their navigator.
  • The group has a very harrowing experience when they attempt to spy on House Mecetti, steal a datapad from a courier of the house, get caught red handed, and barely manage to talk their way out of the situation.
  • The group fails to decode the information on the datapad, and heads into the Nyriaan wilds, into the swamplands where the retired navigator lives.
  • A Ghest, a creature known on Rodia as a Swamp Demon, leaps out at the team's speeder.  Prawn knows exactly what the creature is, and the speeder slams into a tree, but takes minimal damage.
  • The team manages to dispatch the Ghest, but most of the team members are unconscious or badly injured by the creature.
  • The team arrives at the navigator's house in the swamp, and Katya has a strong compulsion to get him to leave with them.  He is resistant to her job offer, but proves relatively adept at medical treatment for the team.

  • The assassin droid is standing on the front porch, holding Donra's gear.  He doesn't notice anything, but Katya glances out the window and notices two black armored Stormtroopers and what appears to be an Imperial Inquisitor emerging from the swamp.

Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm Not Afraid--Fear Checks in Edge of the Empire

Given the four day weekend I've got going on, last night I started something that I have wanted to do for a while.  My idea was to watch all six of the Star Wars movies, taking notes just on the general "Star Wars" things in the movie, as well as the fringe/edge material, but not particularly noting anything that had to do with large scale armies, galactic politics, or the Jedi/Sith aspects of the setting.

While doing this, however, something occurred to me.

Edge of the Empire introduces a fear check into the game, which is presented as "the players see this scary thing, and if they don't make their check, they take stress or end up with setback dice."  Because Star Wars is a very bright, colorful, grandly heroic setting, these don't seem to come up very often.  Heck, the examples use Vader a lot.

Unfortunately, it's really easy to fall into the idea that fear checks should come up with PCs run into Vader or when you have a side tangent about zombies or Rakgouls, or some other horror element that isn't usually present in Star Wars, and maybe again when you Jedi characters go through some kind of trial like the cave on Dagobah, but other than that, it's not a mechanic that comes up much.

But what I noticed watching Episode I  (keep in mind, this is a structural analysis, not content--not too worried about the quality of the story so much as the structure) is that there are several scenes that seem to call out for Fear checks, but using the term "fear" colors the use of the check.

In fact, there seem to be many situations where "fear" checks would be appropriate, but should probably be called something more like "intimidation" checks.

Some examples that came up while watching the movie:

  • Encountering giant creatures that you transport has no real means of fighting.  (Underwater scenes on Naboo)
  • Fleeing from multiple capital ships that you know overmatch your ship.  (Trade Federation blockade)
  • A reminder about a dangerous situation that is a long term problem you can't immediately overcome.  (The message from Sio Bibble about conditions on Naboo)
  • Someone reminding you about the enormity of a given task, especially in light of past performance.  (Anakin's friends talking to him before the podrace, also a good time to upgrade a check given the reminder that the race won't just be hard, but that he's lost every other one and never finished)
  • Restating the importance of a given encounter working out before the group is committed to that course of action.  (Padme's plan to capture the Trade Federation Viceroy and how important that is)

The point is, while these are all situations where a fear check would be perfectly logical, they don't all follow the pattern of "look, there is a thing that is very scary and I have just realized it is here."  Some of them hinge on past performance.  Some of them hinge on "not only is this dangerous, but if we fail there will be long term massive repercussions."

Watching this, with an eye towards game mechanics, and how the game mechanics actually model the storytelling, is in interesting reminder to look for these situations, and even more importantly, to look for opportunities to create situations like this in the game.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Skirting the Edge: Starting Campaign Ideas for Edge of the Empire

I've read a few comments in a few places that sometimes players and GMs don't know exactly what to do with an Edge of the Empire campaign.  An Age of Rebellion game clearly has some assumptions firmly in place.  The players are working for the Rebel Alliance, they are primarily working to oppose the Empire, and if player ideas stall out, the GM can have a mission come down from on high and give the campaign a push.

Edge of the Empire, however, is a bit more wide open.  While all of the players are fringers that have some kind of Obligation, this is a bit less structured than the core assumption of Age of Rebellion.  I think there is also an assumption that with a wide open range of opportunities that the game should be more "sandbox," with the players flying around the galaxy doing what they will, and dealing with Obligations when they come up.

There is nothing wrong with that setup, but it has the same inherit pitfalls of any sandbox campaign, primarily that players can either have no idea what to do next, thus causing the campaign to stall out, or multiple players have ideas on what to do next, and the party is having a hard time choosing between options, thus causing the campaign to stall out.  It also assumes that the GM is going to be able to roll with the player decisions and either have appropriate set pieces that can slot into the player's designs, or will be able to do a lot of entertaining ad libbing in their campaign.

But just because the campaign options are wide open, that doesn't mean that the game doesn't support a strong central concept that might narrow down some of the work the GM has to do to run the game, and to create a bit more texture for the PCs to hang their character concepts on.

When looking at Edge of the Empire ideas, I think it helps to look to the Star Wars material for inspiration for starting campaign structures.  Without further ado, let's take a look at the question, "where do I start?" when running an Edge of the Empire campaign.

The Bounty Hunter and His Support Team

This idea is central to the Bounty Hunter class in The Old Republic game, but it's actually appeared a few other places across Star Wars media.  The basic concept is that you have a bounty hunter, he's got friends that do the things he isn't quite as good at, and he gets steady work from someone that may or may not be his boss, but is clearly the primary source of jobs that the hunter follows up on.

Having a boss or a business manager lets the player relax a bit when it comes to options.  The GM can come up with two or three promising bounties, and the players still get to have some agency on how the campaign moves forward, even as the GM has less than an infinite number of options to develop for future adventures.

Having medics, researchers, and tech support on call all make sense for a bounty hunter that is traveling around the galaxy, because they have to be less of a "jack of all trades" and can focus on being able just bring in the bounties.

The "Bounty Hunter and Support Team" campaign also has a built in campaign twist in the form of rival hunters.  In fact, the rival hunter is almost always built into the campaign concept when it has appear in Star Wars media.

Examples of the the "Bounty Hunter and Support Team" can be found in The Old Republic  (a bounty hunter, his slicer, and some other underworld pickups working for the Mandalorians and participating in the Great Hunt), the old Playstation game Bounty Hunter  (Jango Fett and Zam Wesell working for a Toydarian business manager with a rival Mandalorian on his heels), and the Clone Wars television series  (both Cad Bane and Boba Fett have a cadre of hunters, slicers, and specialists that work with them, in addition to other hunters).

A Team of Fixers

This is a setup that I'm currently using for my Edge of the Empire game.  You have a small time player on the galactic stage that wants to have some fixers, people with a wide range of skills that he can use to do things he needs done to keep his place in the scheme of things.

In this situation, you can reinforce why the players are working for their new employer by having that employer pick them up from a bad situation and/or being the one that provides their starting ship.  This provides a tie to the boss for at least a good number of starting sessions, and can give you a automatic character upon which to hitch their Obligations.

In this setup, the player agency is probably going to come from having more open ended resolutions to the jobs they are handed.  Unlike the hunter option above, the team of fixers may not get multiple job options, but they may have a lot of room to figure out exactly how to do the job they are given.

Talon Karrde's "A List" team of operatives  (Mara Jade, Aves, Ghent, etc.) is an example of this kind of setup, with characters with some disparate backgrounds and skills working for a strong central figure that still lets them go about their missions with a degree of freedom and trust.

Private Survey Team

Another "fringe" campaign that is can bring together a wide range of characters is that of a team working for a small survey company that goes out into Wild Space and the Unknown Regions to survey planets and bring back information to the "civilized" galaxy.

Characters working for a survey company aren't likely to have a lot of say in just randomly wandering the galaxy, but once they get to an individual planet, they can wander to their heart's content on the planet itself.  The prime driver of this sort of campaign will to make sure that the planets are varied, with lots of challenges and sub plots that develop on the planets themselves.

Not only is there likely to be dangerous terrain, animals, a natives on a given planet, but there are smugglers that might wish to do business, or even to hide their location from the greater galaxy.  There might be stowaways that are attempting to get lost on unknown worlds that cause their own complications.  And it's entirely possible that the players might "moonlight" as smugglers in addition to their respectable surveying job.

The Empire cut funding to exploration projects, but individual Moffs are always looking to extend their influence, so taking on Imperial contracts isn't out of the question as well, meaning that the poor, innocent surveyors might run into Rebel opposition as well.

A survey team is going to need navigators, survivalists, and pilots, but once on planet, having some muscle to protect the rest of the team is likely just as important.  Slicers may not be in as much demand on frontier worlds, but you never know when you might run into alien technology and computer systems that predate the Empire or even the Old Republic.

Surveyors are mentioned a lot in Star Wars material, but there aren't many well known characters that have followed this career path.  Gav and Jori Daragon are examples of explorers in this mold, but considering they got their patron Hutt killed and started the Great Hyperspace War  (on accident), maybe your PCs shouldn't use them as examples.

Private Security Firm Employees

Sometimes there seems to be a fine line between bounty hunters and mercenaries, but in general, mercenaries are hired for much more open ended jobs than bounty hunters.  Mercs are usually hired to perform an objective  (guard this building, retake this city, etc.) rather than being given individual targets to neutralize.

This campaign set up is going to have a lot less player input on individual adventures, but that doesn't mean it has to be a railroad.  Characters will still be able to ask around to get information on their opposition.  They might push the boundaries of their own contract to be more pro-active and finish a job before it gets really bad.

Twists in this campaign are going to stem from creating threats that are unexpected.  Other employees turning traitor, weird local creatures, and unexpected opposition are all ways to keep the campaign fresh.  The team may think they are hired to guard a warehouse from thieves, but those thieves end up being members of the Rebel Alliance, for example.

Planets on these campaigns should be varied and provide a lot of flavor.  Not only should the opposition be a bit surprising, but it's important for the player's Obligations to make a simple job much more complicated.  If the players are guarding something, maybe they lose that "thing," and then need to track it down to salvage their jobs.  Maybe the group is hired to take a bandit fortification, and the team has to determine what to do with the slaves taken by the bandits after the fighting is over.

Soldier types are going to get a lot of millage from this kind of campaign, and pilots might be at home if the group has access to vehicles as part of their job.  The group's ship is likely to get less of a workout in this type of campaign, but they may be hired to escort VIPs from place to place, and in this case, gunners and mechanics are going to have a lot more to do.

Mandalorians show up a lot in bounty hunter-centric stories, but there are also a lot of mercenary level stories that feature Mandalorians.  The Star Wars universe has other mercenary groups, like the Echani, which are "culture base" mercenary groups, but groups like the Aurodium Swords specialized in doing things like guarding VIPs across the galaxy.

In the books there is also a bit of an example of mercenary guard action when it comes to books that have featured Dash Rendar, as he was contracted to head a VIP's security in Shadow Games as was also hired to guard Luke Skywalker for a while in Shadows of the Empire.

Travelling Competitors

This one is a a bit of a wild card, but could be fun.  The group in this case is a traveling band of competitors of some sort.  They might be racers, gladiators, shockboxers, or whatever else the players might come up with.  The GMs can design adventures based on where the next competition is scheduled to take place.

In this kind of campaign, again, the Obligations should really complicate a relatively straightforward competition, and there should be all sorts of strange side jobs that come up, from smugglers to murder mysteries.  Just watch Speed Racer sometime.

When it comes to this kind of campaign, a racer or tech dependent competitor will need tech support to keep their equipment in top shape, which allows for a wider range of characters, and medics and bodyguards are never a bad idea for someone that might make his rivals a bit upset with him.

For inspiration from the Star Wars universe, this is actually the setup of the opening story arc of the Droids cartoon.  Not only does Boba Fett make an appearance in this storyline, but his involvement is the result of Obligation!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Team Besh Implosion! Now with 100% Fewer Black Holes (Edge of the Empire 10-18-13)

So, Team Besh was on a space station.  Things were going well.  Okay, that's not true, but they all survived the vicious space pirate takeover of the base and all was right with the galaxy.  Well, maybe not.  Anyway . . .

  • Garner continues to shock the Defel assassin every few minutes.  The station administrator wants him turned over, until the group convinces Sir Artan to tell the station master that the assassin will be remanded to Tapani justice.

  • The group finds the Defel's ship.  It has a bomb on it that has an attached droid brain.  It's set to blow a cargo hold full of Detonite and is using the ship's excellent sensors to read everyone around it, and threatens to blow up if anyone but the Defel comes near.
  • Sir Artan strangely shoves Mundo towards the ship and starts the countdown on the bomb, and then runs the other way.  Mundo offers to try and disarm the bomb while the others track Sir Artan, but the team has other plans.
  • Dia and Tiberius run down Sir Artan while Krill begins to disarm the bomb on the ship.  T3 is still out like a light, or a powered down droid, and Doctor Smith drags him to the borrowed YT-2400, randomly turning things on until he engages the shields in the hope of surviving the blast if the Defel's shop goes up.

  • Krill disarms the bomb, and Tiberius, Dia, and Garner take down the noble, after Dia misses a flying tackle and confirming to Tiberius that she's still a gentle flower.  The noble changes form when he is knocked out, and it is revealed that he is a Clawdite.
  • The group decides to head back to Polis Massa, and they slave the hyperdrive of the Defel's ship to the YT-2400 and let Mundo pilot the assassin's ship.
  • On the week long trip to Polis Massa, the group discusses what to do with their prisoners, and the ramifications of their recent discoveries.  They don't know if Artan was always a Clawdite and they blew his cover, or if he was a replacement, and if House Cadriaan will be upset with them, and if Cid will be upset if House Cadriaan is upset.
  • T3 attempts to rewrite the bomb droid brain with his own personality.  Dia hears the conversation, and tries to stop him.  The droid brain is uploaded with T3's personality, but doesn't want T3 to be the only actual T3, and warns Dia about T3's attempts at immortality and his desire to upgrade to more dangerous forms of mechanical life.

  • Dia is still friends with T3, but she is upset that he lied to her, and Tiberius takes the droid brain and dumps it out the airlock to avoid any potential problems with it, since he only heard part of the conversation and the droid brain sounded dangerous.
  • Tiberius decides a similar move might be appropriate for the Defel assassin, but Garner won't let him kill the assassin in cold blood.  Tiberius fires at the Defel at point blank range with his blaster rifle and misses, Garner prepares to defend the prisoner, and Krill, thinking that the two were going to harm one another, dives for the cockpit and starts to shut down the air in the rest of the ship outside of the cockpit to knock everyone else out so they can "calm down."
  • Doctor Smith is in one of the cabins with the Clawdite, curing him and trying to create a rapport so he can get some information out of him.  Unfortunately, while healing the Clawdite, the Clawdite shifted his hands free of the binders on his hands and he freed himself.
  • The Clawdite attacks the doctor, but Doctor Smith doesn't call for help because he has other plans.  Both Doctor Smith and the Clawdite remain awake as the air thins in the ship.
  • T3 opens the cockpit, and the life support goes back on to full, and the rest of the party begins to discuss the ethics of killing prisoners and of the profession of assassin.  Dia uncomfortably defends the Defel's profession and awkwardly tries to walk the line between not advocating his death and defending assassination, in theory.
  • Doctor Smith defeats the bound and wounded Clawdite, then smothers him to death with a pillow, which he is still doing when the rest of the party opens the door after hearing a blaster bolt in the room.

  • Dia and the others put Doctor Smith in the straight jacket they obtained for him on Malastare.
  • Back home on Polis Massa, the group expects trouble, but Doctor Smith has Imperial credentials no one knew about, and he is released and doesn't incriminate his team.
  • There is a bounty on the Clawdite in another identity, and Tiberius laments that they won't be able to collect the full bounty because they don't have a hunter's license, so Dia takes TK-655 aside and takes care of the paperwork out of earshot and view of everyone else.

  • The party doesn't tell Cid about the dead Clawdite, and Cid gives them some credits for the Defel's ship, pulls some strings to transfer the YT-2400 to the group, and gives the YT-1300 (the Free Enterprise) to Mundo to apologize for the Retirement Party being blown up.
The bulk of the session was comprised of the gigantic fight in the middle, which wasn't long because it was cumbersome, but rather because there was a lot of roleplaying involved as well as the fact that it morphed multiple times, from the party versus T3, to Garner versus Tiberius versus the unconscious Defel, to Krill versus everyone else, to Doctor Smith versus the Clawdite, to the party versus Doctor Smith.

Doctor Smith's reputation has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride with the rest of the group, with T3 starting to warm up to him and Dia being even more wary of him now that he's got Imperial fans.  Also amusing to the GM was the growing circles of paranoia as the group discussed all of the possibilities involving the Clawdite and House Cadriaan.

Catching Up with Honest Cid (Team Aurek, Edge of the Empire 10-10-13)

What was Team Aurek doing while Team Besh was fighting pirates on a locked down space station?  Well, tension was running pretty high from the Force sensitive exile using her powers fairly publicly on Cadomai Prime, the group finding a top secret Imperial weapons test, and Tor'Waar killing Mining Guild guards and posting the images to the Holonet for his fans.

Cid determined it might be time to do some damage control.  A quick call to Dia so that he could use her hunter's license to hire some mercenaries, and the night was off with a bang.

  • Cid had the team use the "back door," and warned them to "fly casual" so that the Imperial patrols in the system wouldn't look too closely at them.  This is something they haven't had to do before.
  • Cid had the buffet set up for the team, but then slowly tried to take members of the team out of the room before "things" could happen.  Most of the team left, but Prawn was extremely paranoid, and Max . . .
  • Max was asked by Cid to stay in the room to keep Tor'Waar calm, since the two are "so close."

  • Krevs, the Trandoshan mercenary that Tor'Waar tangled with on Terminus, came into the room with his team armed with force pikes to haul off Tor'Waar to collect a bounty for the Mining Guild, which Cid had set up so that he and Dia would get a kick back.
  • Prawn dove behind the buffet table and flipped it over while the mercenaries stunned Tor'Waar into unconsciousness, but not before Tor'Waar dove at Krevs and knocked him senseless in one blow.
  • Cid talked to Katya about calling in some favors to bury any investigation of her potential use of the Force, and warned her to be more careful.
  • Cid sent the team to Raxus Prime to rest and relax and to lie low while the heat around their recent activities started to vent a bit.
  • Coming out of hyperspace into the system near Raxus Prime, Prawn bumped a TIE fighter on patrol around the Sienar facility above the planet, but the patrol commander just reprimanded the pilot for being out of formation and apologized to Prawn for the incident.

  • On Raxus Prime, Katya was drawn to the "Junk Temple" constructed by Kazdan Paratus, and the group runs into a thousand year old assassin droid that agrees to join them.  He is upset that the Jedi did nothing for droid rights in the time since the battle of Ruusan.
  • Katya accepts a whole lot of Obligation for getting a chance to absorb some of the knowledge left behind by the psychic impression of Kazdan Paratus.
  • The group finds out that Cid's friend on Raxus Prime has been kidnapped by "savages," and they survive an attack by a relatively sneaky Dianoga which Prawn sees and warns the party about.

  • The "savages" turn out to be a band of jawas that, like Cid's friend, have been squeezed out of their traditional scavenging areas by Sienar.  Although the assassin droid kills a few of the jawas, in the end, Prawn negotiates a truce and a trade agreement between the factions with Max's help.
  • Thankfully this avoids the fight with the walker that the jawas have reassembled to help defend their home.
The flip side of Team Besh having a combat heavy session, diplomacy played a big part in this session, and Prawn, lovable, paranoid, willing to hide the body Rodian that he is was key to that diplomacy.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Catching Up with Honest Cid (Team Besh), the Beginning (Edge of the Empire, 10-3-2013)

When last we saw Team Besh, they were landing on the Skymaster V22 R3 Station in the the Tapani sector after their harrowing escape from both Zann Consortium raiders and a black hole.  Things could only get better from that set of circumstances, correct?

Team Besh checked in at the station, and then all Hell broke lose.

  • Dia almost flashed her bounty hunter's license so that the party wouldn't have to give up their weapons, or at least so she wouldn't have to do so, but then Tiberius bribed the official and everyone walked right in.  Except Doctor Smith, who ran all of his weapons back to the ship before he could witness the bribe.
  • Dia and Mundo spent some quality time at a weapon shop talking about the trade and morning the loss of the Retirement Party.

  • Sir Tulan Artan of House Cadriaan insisted on having the team stay overnight at the station and feeding them at the finest establishment on the station.  Mundo drank too much, and Garner was getting suspicious.
  • Half the party wanted to spend the night on their borrowed ship instead of the rooms on the station, and a Defel assassin attempted to kill Mundo and Sir Artan.  Thankfully T3 was still with them, and called for help.

  • After an epic battle with the Defel, the group defeated him, but Garner noted that the noble seemed to know more than he was letting on. Before he could follow up, however, the entire station was put on shutdown.
  • A pirate that Mundo had brought in a few years back was apparently the security chief of the station, and was offering a price for Mundo's head. 
  • Krill sliced the security systems open from the habitat section of the station, through the mercantile section of the station, and into the security section of the station, while T3 managed to shut down a security droid that attempted to slow them down.
  • T3 reversed the polarity of the security system protecting the security chief's office, and electrocuted the pirate captain's first mate.

  • Team Besh had a truly epic fight with the pirate and his most trusted crew members, who also signed on as security personnel for the station.  Most of the group was banged up quite a bit.  Tiberius went down, and T3 took a vibroaxe to the head that was meant for Dia.
  • Tiberius repeatedly passed out after doing something impressive in combat.  The first time was after Doctor Smith had injected him with a stim to make him more capable in combat.  Tiberius was never awake to see Dia fighting, so he continues to think she is a delicate flower that needs to be protected.

  • Doctor Smith was thrilled to actually have combat injuries to treat, and people to stim in combat, but was nearly gutted by Dia when he came up behind her to inject her.
  • T3 nearly died from a particularly nasty critical, but Krill was naturally talented enough to save T3 from droid oblivion even without having a tool kit handy.
  • The station administrator thanked the crew, paid them a reward, and then gave them a file showing the letters of recommendation that the pirate crew received from a judge in the Expansion region after the criminals had been pardoned by Moff Alimund.
At this point, the group decided to take a breather, rest up, and get ready to head back home to Polis Massa, after finding the Defel's ship and establishing a pattern of shocking the would be assassin every few minutes "just to make sure."

It was interesting to see Team Besh, which had been "Team Diplomacy" up to this point, take on so much violence.  Tiberius is now convinced that he's much more capable in combat than he is, and that he's prone to black out when he goes into a berserker rage.  

Tiberius is sure that Dia is still a delicate flower that needs to be protected, and while the rest of the party saw her go toe to toe with a pirate captain armed with a vibro axe, no one knows that she is a licensed bounty hunter except her boss and her mysterious patrons.  Also, there is a general crew misunderstanding about the nature of Dia and Mundo's relationship.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In Honor of Loki's New Series (Marvel Heroic)

Loki's getting his own series.  To commemorate that momentous announcement, I thought I'd throw together a couple of milestones for Marvel Heroic that represent Loki as a player hero.  These are "general" Loki milestones, not particularly tied to his current, de-aged version or even tied to a particular time period, so if you want Loki running around in your home made events or even Annihilation, here you go.

Oh, and I guess he's in a movie or something too.

(By the way, if you want a good set of Loki stats, look no further than the Plot Points website.  Lots of great characters, and Loki isn't too hard to convert from a Watcher character to a Player hero).

Sometimes, even when you are on the side of the angels  (and your dear brother), you have to stay in practice.

God of Mischief

1 XP  When you convince an ally to take an action based on your direction without explaining why that action is important.

3 XP  When an ally that is heeding your advice takes stress, trauma, or suffers a complication because they were doing what you told them to do.

10 XP  When you abandon your allies at a critical moment and they are all defeated after your departure, or when you are defeated because you remained by your allies side, and they are victorious in part because of your sacrifice.

Sometimes those around you don't realize how important you are.  They must be made to learn.

Burdened with Glorious Purpose

1 XP  Whenever you introduce yourself utilizing an important title, or when those who are addressing your ascribe a title to you.

3 XP  Whenever an ally takes an action that furthers your current joint task and also advances your own long term agenda.

10 XP  Whenever you defeat a major enemy that would have claimed something that rightfully belongs to you, and you either defeat both the enemy and your allies to claim that prize, or you decide that the time is not yet right for your glory to be made manifest, and you warn your allies how close they were to being ground under your heel.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Marvel Heroic . . . 90s Style!

Over the last week I was reading sentiments that run along the line that without a chance for character death, it's hard to actually care about your character in a roleplaying game.  Without debating or affirming that particular statement, this got me thinking about how I would go about making Marvel Heroic a bit more lethal.  What follows is the result of that conjecture.

Optional Rules:  Remember the 90s?

This alternate set of rules for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is intended to make the game potentially more lethal.  

The Trauma Check

Whenever a character has been stressed out of a scene, and if the character causing stress is not pulling their punch, at the end of the scene the character must make a Trauma Check.  This takes place before the scene ends, and so is not part of the next scene.

To make a Trauma Check, the character assembles a dice pool to resist whatever type of stress took them out of the scene.  This is opposed by the Doom Pool, adding in any appropriate Scene Distinctions, Stress, or Complications.

If the character fails their check against the Doom Pool, the character is removed from the Event.  If the character is removed due to Physical Stress, they are dead, and if they are removed due to Emotional or Mental Stress, they are unable to function on a meaningful level, and likely hospitalized for their own good.

A character that succeeds against the Doom Pool in this roll acquires Trauma as per the standard rules.

Allies and Trauma Checks

There are two ways an ally can assist in a Trauma check.  

The first way is for the character that must make the Trauma check to pay an ally to use an appropriate trait die to use in their dice pool.  This represents the ally and the character making the check working together to save the stressed out character.

The second way is for the ally to make the check for the stressed out character.  If this is done, the character may not attempt a second Trauma Check on their own.  They forfeit their own Trauma Check and put their life in the hands of their ally, who assembles an appropriate dice pool to represent their ability to save their ally from their fate.

Watcher Characters and Trauma Checks

If a player character stresses out a Watcher character and does not pull their punch, that character is either killed, or mentally or emotionally damaged beyond the ability to function.  If the Watcher wants that character to survive, he may spend a die from the Doom Pool to represent their successful Trauma Check, at which point the Watcher character suffers Trauma in the manner proscribed in the standard rules.

Unlockables for Trauma Checks

Characters may spend XP to gain benefits related to Trauma Checks.  Remember that these must be purchased before the scene in which the Trauma Check occurs, since XP is only spent during Transition Scenes.

5 XP  Too Stubborn To Give Up.  When you spend 5 XP, if you must make a Trauma Check, if the check fails, you may reroll your pool to give you one last chance to pull yourself from the brink of disaster.

10 XP  It's Not Your Time.  When you spend 10 XP, if you fail a Trauma Check and fail, you may opt to survive and take Trauma as normally prescribed by the rules.  Once you use this option, you cannot do so again until you purchase this unlockable again.

15 XP  Life Changing Moment.  When you spend 15 XP, if you fail a Trauma Check, you may opt to survive instead.  If you do this, you do not take Trauma, but begin the next scene with a d10 Stress in whatever form of Stress took you out of the scene.  In addition, your near death or sanity wrenching experience has galvanized your resolve, and you may use your effect die from the failed Trauma Check as a persistent asset for the rest of the event, representing your new perspective on life.  This asset steps down once each act.  A character may only have one Life Changing Mvent per event.