Friday, 23 January 2015

Photius Ventaris III

By Sarah M.
We imagine he looks
 something like this
A pompus sounding human NPC who nobody seems to notice most of the time.

Born into the noble house of Ventaris some forty to forty-five years before the start of the story . Photius was educated in a wide range of classical, political and combative arts from the age of seven as befitted a nobleman of the era.
Photius Ventaris III is a man whose precise skills are not yet known to the party however he claims to be a scholar set on recording current events for future posterity, suggesting that he has the bard character class with either perform skill oratory or profession scribe.

Despite being willing to travel into certain danger with his chosen subjects of study, he appears to be carrying no apparent weapon, suggesting some great magical skill, or a well hidden and exotic weapon that is unrecognizable to the player characters and just about anyone else. (I am partial to a mini flail or bladed chain that can attach to a quill or pen, thus turning his scholarly tools into deadly weapons*)
*not sure how this works out in terms of rules. If this sort of weapon can be created it would be really interesting to see, particularly if photius is actually forced to use it. If not, a bard/monk multiclass model will probably work best for this character as he can then be formidable without suddenly having to say that he was equipped with weapons and armour all along.
It soon became apparent however that young Photius was a devoted scholar and applied to the prestigious Blue academy at the age of eighteen (18) to further his studies in history, religion and the arts both fine and arcane. Photius’s performance throughout his academy days earned him the attention of the then royal historian and official scribe Horatio corvastian, who mentored Photius after his graduation until Horatio’s own retirement, after which Photius himself took over the position.
Some evidence in the form of frequent letters home suggests that he was the tutor of the current Lord Ashbury, although his sheltered life may have left him extremely gullible as willingly takes on the active duty of legitimising the prophesies of an oracle and can be talked into holding invisible, intangiable objects and injesting potentially harmful materials. However this may also be due to a certain awkwardness with or inability to understand people of different backgrounds due to a lack of experience outside of academia or the courts of the nobility.

Friday, 21 March 2014

FATE Episode 2: Revenge of the Tutorial

Two new players joined the game, and made two new characters:
- Kalameet, a demonic dragon in a human host, obsessed with making deals
- Voyjek the Soldier Bear, a 10-foot, yellow, were-bear in a highly elastic red shirt.

Suddenly the double doors Ace and Racharzan had used to enter burst open again. Through the doors came Kalameet and Voyjek. With a squeak and a quack, The Boss called for reinforcements from not-so-secret passages on either side of the hole.
Why always red?
Is there a discount red barrel store?

Racharzan struggled to his feet despite the impedance of the soapy water, and pushed the lone swordsman down onto the ground, so that he fell on other butt. while Ace completely failed his Athletics roll in running towards the wizard, and ended in the adjacent zone with the red drums. The wizard gripped the staff in his hands, pointing the end at Ace and shouted "I am Ivan the Pyromancer! You will not defeat Me!" as the flames around him rose up and surged forward onto both Ace and the red oil drums. The On Fire zone aspect left Ivan Slightly Singed, but in return he invoked it to power his spell. He also tagged the Bright Red Barrels to cause a reaction when exposed to his flames. The explosion left Ace Extra Crispy.

Voyjek moved into the fray himself, easily tearing the head from one of the newly-appearing mook's head, and leaving the mook next to the first blood soaked and with years of potential therapy. Kalameet on the other hand, simply strode confidently and causally around the gaping hole and the segmented bodies Ace had left behind him. "Ivan" he called with his hand out stretched. "I've come for you". The badass boast however was undermined when two newly-appeared mooks unloaded their guns around Kalameet's feet, forcing him to stand on the edge of the large hole.

Racharzan finally overwhelmed her enemy, summoning a spiritual sword, slicing into him and forcing him backwards into the bottemless pit. One of The Bosses bodyguards suddenly ran forward towards the pit. "JULIAN!", she screamed, "You KILLED my HUSBAND!". Everyone at the table laughed. Seriously, that's plain evil.

Ace charged out of the soot and smoke at Ivan, swinging his Kawaii-Desu-Neko-Blade an inch away from Ivan and he answered by calling up a half-dome of solid fire, showing off the block action of the magic system. Ace, however, was stronger than the wizards magic and cut though the flames like a cold knife through butter, dispersing the energy. 

Kalameet was rammed by two mooks with swords as they attempted to push him into the bottemless pit, and with Kalameet being on the edge already, were successful. He began to fall just as The Boss let loose a cloud of bullets from the turret, and with it being on the raised platform was able to target a large section of the map. Voyjek shrugged off the hits as flesh wounds, but the two mooks pushing Kalameet were torn to shreds by the flying lead. Kalameet was already falling so the bullets missed him, but Rac wasn't so he decided the best place to go was in the hole too, invoking his main aspect and used unique biology to craft a web to pull himself into the hole and catch Kalameet. From within the hole, Kalameet sent began a physic conversation with the woman who had just lost her husband, quickly learning her name was Julia, and making her a deal to kill someone on her own side, and Kalameet would bring back Julian. They did have a necromancer after all.

Ivan tried to escape Ace by running towards where Julia and The Boss were, but Ace followed close behind. Julia ran back up the stairs of the raised platform and took the controls of the turret from The Boss, aiming it downwards towards Ivan and Ace. A storm of bullets ripped into them, tearing most of Ivan's legs off. Ace, on the other hand, just ripped his shirt off and reflected the bullets off his amazing pecs. Yes, really, that happened, he has the aspect built for perfection

How can something be both
bottemless and be 65 feet deep?
Julia grabbed The Boss and bounded down the stairs, opening an actually secret passageway. Ivan crawled forward and Julia pulled him in. Ace tried to catch them but the strain of the explosion and gunfire caused him to malfunction halfway. Screaming how the party hadn't seen the last of him, Ivan reached to a lever and pulled it shutting the passage down. The two remaining mooks in the warehouse, the two who had shot at Kalameet, fled back into the not-so-secret passageways they had come from. It was then discovered that the bottemless pit wasn't actually bottemless, and Julian was still alive, but badly broken. The party took Julian when they climbed out and left the warehouse.

I liked how Ace's character let The Boss, Julia and Ivan escape, even though he had enough points to have easily bought off the compel. Voyjek didn't get much action story-wise, spending the whole game smashing mooks. Kalameet's player quite enjoyed roleplaying, and we took that in stride. Racharzan's player was good at thinking of different ways to test the rules, and she grabbed some of the magic rules well. Ace's player enjoyed developing on the go, and he seemed to enjoyed the 'Success with Style' rule.

Monday, 17 March 2014

FATE Episode 1: Tutorial

I recently DMed (or GMed, or Refereed, or whatever) a variation of FATE, with many rules from the Dresden Files RPG. It was a campaign spread over a number of weeks held at a local hobby store with only a few regular players. I've decided to write this play-report from a gaming point of view, including some dice rolls and aspects, instead of just a narrative point of view. Any aspects will be in italic type, and skill rolls will be Proper Nouns.

Two Player Characters were created for this game, with both being made on the spot while the rules were being explained during World-building:
Racharzan - An Aracnoid necromancer, a spider-like person from the dangerous wilds of Australia.
A.C.E. - An Automated Centenarian Entity robot from Japan, with a oversized Kawaii-Desu-Neko-Blade.

Episode 1: Tutorial

Was going to draw my own gangster penguin, but this was awesome. Check out more from this artist by following his link.
Mobster Penguin
The party started by barging through the large double doors of a mafia safehouse in order to capture a penguin crime boss with a wizard assistant and a small army of tuxedoed mooks. Because that all makes perfect sense.

The fox-hole was based underground and long fluorescent tubes buzzed overhead revealing what appeared to be a storage room, with crates and barrels against the walls. A seemingly bottomless pit was in the centre of the room. men and women stood either side of the hole, dressed in suits and ties. They carried a combination of shortswords and automatic pistols. A large puddle of soapy water was in front of the hole, like it was being cleaned and then abandoned in a hurry. A pile of bright red barrels sat to the back of the room, each labelled with a hazardous flame symbol and was leaking oily, black liquid. Red barrelsEvery gamer knows what that means. Next to the pile stood another man, this one with a burnt staff of twisted oak and wearing tattered and red-trimmed robes over his suit. Finally, in the corner of the room was a raised platform. Here stood The Boss, Don Pancake McQuack, the leader of the penguin mafia in the city, with two bodyguards and a machine-gun turret.

Determined on their apparent mission to capture the penguin for reasons unknown, they charged forward with no hesitation. The mooks moved forward, a few drawing their swords. One in particular edged precariously around the puddle of soapy water. Ace got his first trial of combat when he jumped forward and completely separated the top half of a mook from the bottom. Others opened fire with their machine pistols, but many bullets only grazed Ace or bounced off his metallic armour.

A swordsman that was planning on rushing against Racharzan was interrupted when ectoplasic, skeletal hands appeared to claw out of the ground, grabbing on to him and brought him down, tearing him apart. It seems Racharzan had gotten the hang of some of the magic rules.

Seeing that the mooks were falling rapidly, The Boss sent his bodyguards down to the fight as well. The man in the robes raised his staff and a took aim at Ace. The power he brought up scorched the area around him setting it on fire, and the rest soared forward in a lance of solid fire. It dug into Ace's defences and pushed him to the edge of his stress, and he retaliated by slashing in a wide arc around him, managing to cut through not only one, but two mooks. The third in the area was temporarily blinded by a rainbow of light released from his Kawaii-Desu-Neko-Blade.

Rac moved forward into the puddle to attack the lone swordsman, but crossing the soapy water was more difficult that expected when he failed his Athletics roll and he fell on butt, not getting the chance to bite him. Now that Rac was on the ground, the gunners took their shots at Racharzan. He took advantage of the fact he was on the ground, using a fate point to take advantage of the otherwise disadvantageous 'fell on butt' aspect, only getting shot in the shoulder as a minor consequence. With Ace heading towards the wizard, Racharzan struggling in a puddle and with The Boss slowly edging towards the machine-gun turret, the session came to an end.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Random Wands and Leaky Casting

“The wand chooses the wizard… it’s not always clear why.”
         - Ollivander, Harry Potter
Wand of Hitting Things

I've read some things on wands lately, including from Courtney at Hack & Slash (Ideas about Wands and On wands) and from Brendan at Necropraxis (Basic Wands and Attack Wands). I'd thought I'd write up a little table that can fit in Fate games if the players decide to loot some magic pile of stuff.

Extra Type
Extra Control
Double Bonus
Extra Disability

Wand Types:
Extra Element and Control: Roll on the appropriate column again, re-rolling until all results are different.
Extra Bonus and Disability: Roll twice on the appropriate column again, re-rolling on a 6.
Strong: Raises minimum weapon value by 1.
Weak: Lowers maximum weapon value by 1.
Unwieldy: Must be held in both hands, or causes a -1 penalty to casting.
Leaky: Roll an extra leak dice when normally required.
Accurate: +1 to hit.
Flexible: Can be used to make either spray attacks, splitting the attack roll to multiple targets, or to make area of effect attacks at -2. Can do both on a double roll.
Short: Can only be used to effect one adjacent zone. On a double, can only be used in same zone.
Dangerous: Leaking also causes a 1-stress physical hit.

Wands normally have a weapon value of between 0 and 5. Anyone using a wand selects the wands current weapon value or lower, and rolls to make a ranged attack with the appropriate control skill. Whether the attack is successful or not, the caster rolls a number of  'leak-dice' equal to the selected weapon value. Any leak-die that appear as a 1 reduces the wands current weapon value by 1.

Example battle: Jean confronts some goons in a warehouse with his Weapon:5 wand. He doesn't want to use too much power now, as he wants to save it for later. He chooses to make an attack at Weapon:2, and makes an attack with Will. He misses, and rolls his leak dice, which land as 2 and 4. A brute of a goon appears from around a corner, and Jean decides to hit with the full Weapon:5. He makes a successful attack, and the leak dice are 1,1,3,4 and 6. The wand is reduced to Weapon:3.

This makes about 450 'regular' wands, with out including extra elements, controls, bonuses, disabilities, or any variation that comes from weapon value when found.
If you count every different type of wand that can be produced here, regardless of weapon value when found, it's a total of 20,520 different variations.

Little girl with wand, ready to
slaughter some orcs for loot
For d20 games, the weapon values could correspond to the stepping stones of polyhedral dice: d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. Since there isn't really a Weapon:0 equivalent, d4 could be the lowest, default wand strength, or it could possibly be d2 or d3.
Other variations could be in leaking. For example, only a single leak die could be rolled and leak occurs if the die results in equal or lower than the weapon value of the attack. It could also be a variation that only a single point of leak can occur per round, regardless of the number of ones. You could just roll one dice, and if it's a 1, the weapon value drops, with no select-your-weapon-value jazz.

Example Wands:
Undine Rod: Water element. Will and Lore controls. Extra Control. Leaky. Found with 3 charges.
Demon Spike: Fire element. Magic control. Strong. Dangerous. Found with 5 charges.
Wand of the Griffon: Air and Earth elements. Lore control. Double Bonus: Extra element, Flexible:spray. Double Disability: Unwieldy and Short. Found with 2 charges.

Monday, 10 March 2014

HeroQuest: A Game of Skulls and Shields

For one of the first posts, after the introduction, I'm going to talk about something I played just the other day. I joined in on a game of HeroQuest.

An old-school game by my standards (Well... 1989) it was originally developed with Games Workshop for the Warhammer Fantasy game, although I didn't guess it at all from playing. So, if you've never played any Warhammer, it's fine, neither had the other 2 players. Or the GM.

You can view all the information on the HeroQuest Wiki, especially in the Mentor's Library, but I'm going to rattle on about it anyway.

The game features four 'Heroes' plunged into dangerous situations controlled by the mad wizard 'Morcar'. The map board is the same for all adventures, but each room, secret doors, traps, monsters, chests and collapsed pathways are changed for each adventure.

There are two types of dice: Plain d6's and not-so-plain d6's with pictures on them. The 'combat dice' have 3 'skull' faces, 2 'hero shield' faces and 1 'monster shield' face. To make an attack a number of dice are rolled and each 'skull' rolled counts as a hit. The defender then rolls a number of dice and each shield that corresponds to their type (hero or monster) negates one hit. Better weapons mean more attack dice rolled, and more armour means more defence dice rolled. This could easily be simulated with plain d6's with a hit on a 4+, a hero defending on a 5+, and a monster saving on a 6.

The classes are also very basic, with four classes. All have preset statistics and abilities, and a number of attack dice, defence dice, movement dice, body points (HP), mind points (Will) and a possible ability. Movement and defence points begin at 2.
The classes are: the Barbarian, with 3 attacks and 8 health but with the only 2 mind and without special abilities; the Dwarf, with 2 attacks, high health of 7, mind of 3, and ability to disable traps; the Elf, with 2 attacks, body 6, mind 4, and the ability to cast a single set of spells; and the Wizard, with a single attack, body of 4, mind 6, and is able to cast from three sets of magic spells.
And now for the fun parts. A few of the elements in the game stood out a lot more than others. The big one was that this game was not designed to be like modern roleplaying games. There are no skills, no checks, no opposed rolls and no customization (except for spells and names). I liked it for the very reason I dislike quite a few other games.

I really liked the spell selection. It was a straightforward as choosing which set I liked best of the four. The wizard chose one set first, then the elf, and the wizard got the other two left over as well. It was as simple as "I like this one, we should probably both have healing, so I'll have this one." That was it.
You could look at a set and figure exactly what it was for. Magic spells sets could be given to magic users in pathfinder for quick character creation. Probably even better for sorcerers, with their already limited spell selection. They could get extra spell slots as a trade-off for the restriction in spell selection, maybe?

Monsters were similar to 4th editions 'minions', a single point of damage and they'd be dead. This is for the basic monsters, and only one creature we came across in two games had any different (A fimir for a boss, with a whooping 2 health).

One of the thing that lead to some of the most fun was looking for treasure. There were 25 treasure cards, and whenever a PC asked to search a room they would draw from the deck. With 6 'Wandering Monster' cards and 4 unavoidable 'Hazard' cards, each drawn cards had the potential to kill the player, especially with any wandering monster getting a free round of attacks. While there are plenty of random treasure and monster generators, with the low health of each character, it felt much more old-school (I still feel weird using that phrase). There is a second game released latter, Advanced HeroQuest, which adds most of these features to create more complex roleplaying rules, but I think I like it the way it is.
I can't help but add my own stories. The game I played on Monday was the first time playing the game, and with two players I hadn't met: The GM, Andrew, and a girl from Germany, DJ. We started off by giving the characters the most original names we could think of: Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and Gandalf. I'm sure you can figure out which one was which.

The first game was a free-for-all with the first player finding the escape getting an extra 100 gold over anything we found ourselves. We started with each character at a different corner of the dungeon. There was no party and no sense of loyalty. Which is probably why two of the four characters ended up dead.
Playing the barbarian, described as "the greatest warrior of all," you think I'd go well in combat. Apparently not. I drew three 'wandering monster' cards, and was tied up fighting a goblin for majority of the game. After losing 6 body points before striking it once, I was laid low by a wandering orc right near the exit. We also learnt that it would be better for the wizard to cast spells much more often, as they're isn't much point holding on to spells when you're dead.

In the second game I played the Elf, and after one player had to go, so no-one played the barbarian. The wizard used the 'pass through rock' spell to escape into a locked room, and from there could cast spells that did not require any line of sight. After I found the boss, guarding a captured knight, a 'sleep' spell had it down before it could act. Unable to defend, the wizard hit it for 4 damage with a long-range fire spell.

The best part, however, was a race to the final treasure chest. The dwarf, with only one health reached the room first. If he chose to search for traps he would automatically disarm them, but the wizard would come in the room the next turn and take the treasure. He chose to open the chest and not only was it empty, but trapped. He suffered a single point of unavoidable damage and died. The wizard looted his body and sold his  helmet to me in exchange for half the gold I earned for rescuing the knight.

And after that long post, I think I've said all I can. I really love the gamble on treasure vs. trap, and simple spell selection and might try something with that.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Shortymonster and Eliza the Witch

I was lucky enough to have recently been given an idea for a NPC, by Paul over at Shortymonster as part of his self-congratulatory post after hitting 10,000 views. The early posts are pretty great for learning the ropes if you're a GM in the making, and for those who wish to improve there games, which should be pretty much everyone.

So here's the idea for a type of character who you could expect to meet while wondering around a steam-punk metropolis. This was all written by Shorty, and there are quite a few more, so I suggest you check it out.

" She always found the symmetry beautiful, watching cogs turn in clockwork motion, instantly able to calculate lines of symmetry in the ticking of second to second to second, each movement changing the pattern as the machinery worked. Eliza always knew how the cogs would mesh, what the patterns would show, and how to use this knowledge. Some called her a Witch, as if her powers of precognition were supernatural in nature, but she just knew how to spot patterns, how to connect the spinning wheels of what is, and see what will be.

People used to travel great distances to have their future laid out for them, back when she was very young. Now she is a little older, nearing twenty, she has spent a large part of her life travelling, learning and teaching as she goes. It’s not just that she sees the future anymore, but by applying her knowledge, she can change it. As long as she likes you, Eliza can raise you from a pauper to a Prince, but she is quick to change her mind, or forget about you entirely, as she turns her attention to the beautiful symmetry that surrounds her, in the shape of the most wondrous devices every crafted…

This lack of focus means she pays so little attention to herself that most imagine her as nothing but a crazy person, with unkempt hair, and mismatching clothes hanging off a frail physique and hiding a plain face. If you were to pass her in the street, not knowing the power she possesses, you would likely cross over to the other side, hearing her mumbling about angles and integers, and lines that reflect perfectly… "

Monday, 3 March 2014

You All Meet in an Inn...

I think some introductions are in order!
My name is Alex and I'm from Australia.

Well, that was a bit short. I might need a little more...

This is my first time writing anything substantial to be put up for the world to judge.
I naturally have much to learn.
Please feel to comment. I happily ask for it, actually!
If anything is odd about the blog, I'd appreciate knowing too, as I said, I'm new to all this.
I also need a logo or something, so that's on the list too.

Last of all, don't be surprised if I don't do anything! If I can't get into the swing of things, it's because I'm a terrible procrastinator.

Thanks for coming to the site, and enjoy!