Saturday, 17 June 2017

Rogue Trader 1987 Week 1 Wrap Up

So, I visited Warhammer World last week, and they have reprints of the first edition of 40k, one of my favourite books growing up. I couldn't help myself, but the purchase was made on the condition I actually make use of the book. This is that.

So, the set-up is rag-tag groups of mercenaries take on jobs as they see fit, building their bands with 150 points. Success means getting paid, which is more points to grow the band.

THE BANDS

The Frawgmn - 10 Slann with chainswords and hoverboards, which are disgustingly cheap.

Expurgatorum Eternus - I sold the setting as 'Mad Max but 40k' and this player went in on that. 4 weird, zany characters and 10 gretchins armed with nothing but slings, shields and frag grenades.

The Culture Club - In Cyberpunk Tuesday, one of the players rolled literally Boy George, who had a following known, naturally, as the Culture Club (made up entirely of cyber-psycho boostergangers). These guys follow suit, being led by our favourite member of the Culture Club, Langurious Rex. They've all got armour and big big guns.

Morgok - Rather than a gang, this player is one ork, with maximum values across the range and a huge arsenal. He believes he is the re-incarnation of both Mork and Gork.

The Gaslighters - Basically scotsmen with gas grenades and masks. Hilariously bad accents free!

FLAME FARMIN' FLURAG FIRE FARMER - One of my players always plays against type. Always. So he bought a BATTLE TRACTOR and gave it flamers.

The Rowdy Four - Four Beastmen champions and a halfling they follow, for obvious reasons.

WEEK 1 MISSIONS AND RUMOURS

EMPLOYER - Sir Rotheschilde von Gutchensmark
MISSION - Capture living specimens of the Crawler - Stun prods will be provided.
EXPECTED RESISTANCE - None
PAY - 5 per Specimen

(capture monsters - 5 points per creature captured - npc gang arrives in 1d6 turns(
(CRAWLERS, 10 of em)

EMPLOYER - East Side Farmers Union Bloc
MISSION - Liberate our stolen cattle from the West Region Agricropper Group
EXPECTED RESISTANCE - Minimal Guards
PAY - 45 points for Returning Cattle

(steal a cattle herd from generics - couple of guards + farmers w/ shotguns - 1 small dinosaur turns up in 2d4 turns)

RUMOUR:

"Big Larry sez there's a secret cache of weapons and shit in the mountains! I'll show ye where, if you get the next round..."

(RUMOUR - abandoned weapons cache in the mountains - cache has become nest for AMBULLS (2-3 of them - they can tunnel)

stuff in cache - 2 medipacks, cameleoline, rad-counter, rad suit, plasma pistol, 2 plasma grenades, heavy stubber, 10 points worth of random shit)


Stuff in brackets above is the hidden information the players didn't have access to.

Nearly everyone went for the rumour, with only The Rowdy Four and Flurag deciding to tackle the farm - except Flurag didn't. Instead, using his battle tractor, he killed the people waiting to collect the cattle, and took their stuff, including the reward. Since they didn't have heavy weapons, they were entirely unable to fight back.

The Rowdy Four, meanwhile, had a decent engagement against the farmers with their shotguns...until the dinosaurs turned up.


The dinosaurs ruined everything, nearly killing 2 of the beastmen before being distracted with delicious horseflesh. They did manage to wrangle the cattle, only to be severely fucked over by Flurag's take on the situation. Revenge will be had.

Despite everyone deciding the turn up for the rumour, Morgok and The Frawgmn were both equipped with hoverboards, turning up significantly earlier. This resulted in incredibly tense hover-board duels, chainswords bouncing off Morgok's stupidly thick hide, eventually resulting in Morgok stealing the Frawgmns Heavy Bolter, before flying off into the sunset.

Rules-wise this was an utter bastard, due to the continuous movement. The fiction occuring was incredibly cool however, so it worked out pretty nicely.

As Morgok fled, the other warbands began to roll up - causing the Frawgmn to dismount and enter the tunnel systems, running into...

Ambulls! The Frawgmn were utterly butchered, the entire group murdered whilst the warbands on the surface struck an accord. They decided to split the loot three ways, having heard the screaming and tearing coming from then tunnels.

Expurgatorum Eternus was split by a ravine from the others, and ran quickly into an ambull, which killed the entire command group bar Doc Hairy, leading to the rebranding of the group into Doc Hairy and the boys. Whilst this was going on, Morgok returned, swooping into the tunnels atop his hoverboard. Running into and Ambull, and utterly destroying it with a multi-melta. Not finding the hidden cache quickly enough, he decided to leave again, letting the other 3 bands split the loot. Eventually, after cooking a few more ambulls, the found the hidden cache and returned to Helsreach.

ROGUE TRADER IS REALLY FUN FOR THIS SMALL SCALE STUFF EVEN IF THE RULES ARE A TAD CLUNKY I RECOMMEND PLAYING IT HIGHLY

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Acid Death Fantasy - Thousand Sultans Generator

The petty sultans and emirs are many, ruling in luxury across the broken lands, precious water cupped in mailed palm. It is a hobby among them to compete with their titles.

1d10
Title








of/the
Honorific






and… (roll again)
1
Emir
thousand stars
2
Malik
Supreme Wisdom
3
Sultan
Rider on the Wind
4
Haleim
Crusher of Serpents
5
Sharif
Jewelled Eminence
6
Ensi
Chosen by a Legion of Divines
7
Patesi
Sage of Sages
8
Lugal
Boundless (Mercy, Strength, Riches, Wisdom)
9
En
of [titles]
10
Lord
Gift to all Peoples

Though war does sometimes erupt across the wastes, they prefer to compete in other ways, an endless cycle of fashions and fads.

d20
Current Fad
1
Beasts - the most exotic, dangerous or mundane.
2
Slaves - the most beautiful, athletic or educated.
3
Poems - the most ground-breaking or traditional.
4
Palaces - the most humble or spectacular.
5
Feasts - the most sumptuous or daring.
6
Drugs - the hardest or the most cultured.
7
Esteemed Guests - the most noble, educated or barbaric.
8
Bound Demons - the most, the most hideous or otherworldly.
9
Personal Champions - the least likely or most proficient.
10
Ugliest Wretches - quantity or quality?
11
Arcane Lore - the most hidden or powerful.
12
Largest Harem - most mixed or heterogeneous.
13
Finest Garments - the most beautifully useless or practical.
14
Most Pious - to a known or unknown deity.
15
Sponsor of adventurers - the most widely spending or focused.
16
Most beloved or despised.
17
Finest Personal Guards - obvious or subtle.
18
Deadliest Dungeon - fair or totally unfair.
19
Most illustrious genealogy.
20
Most non-materialistic.

Of course, each sultanate has its own problems.

d10
Troubles afoot
1
Slave Uprising.
2
Rouge Wizard(s) attempting usurpation.
3
Mercenaries, unpaid, running rampant.
4
Infestation of monsters has taken hold.
5
Plague.
6
Disturbed ruins causing havoc.
7
A huge lack of money on all levels.
8
War with a neighbour.
9
A prophecy of doom approaches the promised date.
10
Migrant population causing issues with locals.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Ruined Cities Are Really Hard

Or, dealing with hyper-dense 'dungeons'.

A lot of my stuff revolves around dead cities, ruined cities, cities where something went wrong. This is me putting some thoughts about such environments being really hard to play whilst satisfying some of the stuff I like to do.

See the city. It is dead, filled with buildings bereft of their original purpose, re-imagined as lairs, traps and storehouses for treasure. Compare this to the traditional dungeon - each room has specified exits and entrances, whereas the city offers a practical infinity of entrances, exits, and approaches. This, in addition to the sheer sizes, is a problem to be solved. Two main approaches spring to mind.

Abstraction.
Movement through and the contents of the majority of structures are abstracted, often through the use of procedural generation (this house has *dice dice* nothing) - those structures which do contain items of interest are 'zoomed' into, breaking away from the strategic (travel-based) and moving into the tactical, individual level movement, most obviously combat. This is intuitive, and means the game isn't a slog of this house is empty, after the players describe surrounding yet another ruined manor. However, such zooming immediately informs players that something interesting is about to happen, whether this been combat, traps or a secret to be discovered, meaning they will deploy in a manner to take maximal advantage of the environment. (More on environment usage later.)

The characters, assumably, will be moving and acting in a far less cautious manner during standard travel. (This could, of course, be considered in the abstraction, moving far slower in the strategic view.)  This effect ruins the opportunity for players to be surprised - although, a solution for this would be utilizing more active opponents, who attempt to engage from surprise, forcing the players into positions less advantageous as they are the defenders, adapting to the situation as dictated by the ambushers. Such an addition rewards players defining themselves scouting and planning for such situations, dictating a marching order taking advantage of the nuances of the specific buildings and streets in the encounter area.

This, however, runs into another issue within abstracting the dense urban environment. Using generic floor-plans and streets leads to strings of encounters effectively occurring within the same environment, a street lacking in interesting nuance, with the same layout of buildings offering the same opportunities. Generating an interesting and unique street and/or floorplan(s) however, is going to take time - the opposite of what a surprise engagement offers. Building a large library of interesting nuances yet somewhat universal layouts would negate this somewhat - but then the difference between the abstraction and a complete mapping shrink, reaching the point where complete mapping might make more sense. The balance between a nuanced and interesting engagement locale with the speed of the generation is very hard to strike.

Complete Mapping
Completely mapping a dense, decaying urban environment is a gargantuan amount of work, which immediately makes this option less appealing. Even ignoring this significant limitation, we run into the fact such a huge amount of information is really hard to use at the table. Each structure would require some form of representation, informing (or inspiring) the GM as to the external and internal structure of the building. This could be achieved through some form of short-hand tags or keywords, the combination of these phrases rapidly building a mental image to be imparted to the players. Such a system would require a degree of training in the GM, even just to simply learn this skill. The advantage of such complete mapping is the ability to instantly determine the form and nuance of the locale an engagement is occurring within - the GM will know through a system of tags there is a barricade which offers either side an advantage, without the need for a potentially cumbersome or slow generation system. The key to achieving a working Complete Mapping is a really effective manner of splitting information into table-usable chunks, with both player-facing and GM-facing maps and information available.

Both are hard and leave me wanting somewhat. Whadda you guys do?

Friday, 19 May 2017

Acid Death Fantasy - Weird Desert Backgrounds for Troika!

ACID DEATH FANTASY

For use with Troika! - Luke Gearing

"The slate was not wiped clean - it was shattered into countless jagged pieces, splintering a new world with the debris of the old."

What happened is long forgotten. Remains of it, barely understood by the most learned scholars, are rife throughout the lands, but most are too busy surviving to ponder these relics, else maintaining their strangleholds on water and power, power and water.
The greatest living city of the desert is Shalar, that breeding ground of pleasure and nightmare. All people, all faiths, all goods have a stake in Shalar, ruled by the Many Crowned King/Queen and her terrible guard, a thousand strong. The wealth of Shalar is untouched, uncontested, and many covet the throne.
Spinning outwards of Shalar are the Thousand Sultanates, a great miscellany of egotism, pride and petty squabbles. There is much wealth, for the titles of these many pretenders are not entirely false. They compete endlessly in their petty games, although all are inevitably forgotten as the hubris of the ruler eventually causes a fall. The oldest, and most stable are the closest to Shalar, whilst the peripheral Emirs and Maliks barely stake a hold for more than a generation.
Beyond this anarchic sprawl are the Wastes, riddled with all manner of nomads and tribes, and beasts beneath the sands, all bowing in respect to the worms which roam freely between the dunes. The Alqai, four armed workers of metal, emerge from the Duneholds to sell exquisitely worked goods, or else to continue the age-old war on the Dune Riders, their slender boats neatly slicing the sand.
The Southern Wastes are the homes of the Slow Tribes, brutal reptilian peoples leaving artful piles of butchered limbs whenever they find a settlement of desperate people seeking some modicum of respite from the heat.
To the East, the Plastic Sea, a miraculous sea made entirely of liquid plastic. Upon contact with living skin, it sets solid, leading to the coast being filled with the Coated Men, duelling each other in elegant, fatal contest, having made the choice to die young and glorious, coated in flexible plastic armour.
The verdant jungles of the North would offer respite from the desert, if not for the patriarchal Azure Apes. Whilst the stable nests will happily accept visitors, the zones between are haunted by failed alpha-males, who gladly prey upon travellers to build their strength for a challenge against an aging nest-master. Not even these desperate beasts dare try themselves against the shining, metallic ruins scattered about the jungle.
To the West is the graveyard of the Old Gods, their steel skeletons looming over a great and terrible Rubble. Once a city of the chosen peoples of these gods, their undoing was terrible, their grey stone, unknown to us, marred with their burnt shadows still.

(Backgrounds after jump)


Sunday, 26 March 2017

10 Islands

*Go Away Sunday Players*

Part of a larger sea-based encounter table.

d10
Island
1
A pathetic spit of land, where the survivors of a shipwreck squat, miserable. They have enough rations to last another d12 days. 3d8 of them remain. They were :
1.       Nilfenbergian Navy
2.       Angmarrian Privateers
3.       Merchants
4.       Whalers
5.       Unaffiliated pirates.
6.       Colonists set for the new world.
2
3
A witch-prison colony, run by the Nilfenbergians before the war. They are running out of supplies. Some of the soldiers think they should wake the wizards up, see if they can summon supplies. The priest threatens to throw them to the sharks. 3d12 wizards, drugged brainless. 3d20 guards, with 1d10 cannons. 1 priest.
4
A larger island, dotted with huge stone heads. Each contains an aborted embryonic god, killed by their jealous parents. The culture who built them destroyed themselves in the process, and so their gods died with them.
5
Kidknap crab spawning ground (See Broken System #0)
6
The final degenerate remnants of an island forced to cannibalism. 5d20 remain, squatting in rotten huts or else hunting one another. Each has 2HD, and fights with bone weapons.
7
The Cage (See Broken System #0)
8
A pirate king and her fortress. All are welcome, if they pay her extortionate docking fees (100sp a night). It is still filled with pirates and slavers. Her captive sea-priests destroy any ship causing ruckus in the waters surrounding.
9
A thin lip surrounding a huge yawning bit, many ship-lengths across. The pit is lined with:
1.       Fresh/Aged stone brick.
2.       Perfect/cracked glass.
3.       Living/dead flesh.
4.       Bones.
5.       Shimmering metal.
6.       Light - blinding white.
0
The Funeral Isle, a grave for a civilization long dead. Six black granite pillars ring a central point, each encrusted with the achievements of this dead people. The central point contains grave goods. Disturbing the goods awakens the Guardian. The island is pockmarked with craters from the weapons of the Guardian.
Achievements :
1.       Creation of the Humans.
2.       Puncturing the womb of sky.
3.       Creation of concept-driven war machines.
4.       Taming the soul itself.
5.       Capturing the senses with their art.
6.       Their own destruction.
There are three items of value to loot :
1.       Painting of Blinding Beauty. Alien suns and stars above a landscape barren. Utterly beautiful and haunting. Studying it for over a minute causes a choice : either destroy your eyes, and never behold a pretender to the beauty of the painting, or else dedicate yourself to the destruction of all beauty bar the painting. Worth 50000sp.
2.       The control panel for their flying vessels, all long departed or destroyed. It could be used like a shield, intricate, complex yet sturdy. Worth 8000sp.
3.       A miniature version of the concept-bombs, containing the concept of the perception of time. It has two settings - compress, causing the target to experience a thousand years in a single second, or elongate, making a second seem like a thousand years. It is good for one use, and does not give immortality. Worth 50000sp.
The Guardian.
A colossal titan of brass, emerging some miles off the coast of the Funeral Isle, kicking up huge waves (potentially destroying any ship too close to the isle). Three large spheres make up the body, from which sprout seven legs, shimmering in the sun. The largest of the spheres is the brain, and is filled with conceptual killing. Given enough time, the killing would evolve into violent, chaotic art. The other two spheres are Spelltrap Arrays, which absorb up to 50 spell levels worth of spells each. If overloaded, they explode, killing the Guardian. It can use the arrays to fire beams, which deal 1d8 per spell level expended, and requiring a save vs paralysis to dodge. A kick or stomp from its legs could easily destroy any ship. If one were able to clamber up the leg, the conceptual killing could be tamed with a truthful oath of pacifism, leaving the entire machine inert. It has 50 Ship HP. Replacing the grave goods satisfies it, but it will watch until the intruders leave.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Angmairre, City of Sailors and Whores

**Mild Spoilers Sunday Game**

The kingdom has no knights, only sea captains. All nobles must serve as a captain on at least one sea-voyage to keep their hereditary titles.

Within the Palace of Splinters, a looming structure built of captured enemy ships, sits the weak King Telwar Liq, a puppet to his warmongering wife, Celine Liq. The agitates for war against the Nilfenbergians. The court, thus far, have kept her in check. All assassination attempts have failed, miserably. She takes each attempt as proof of Nilfenbergian aggression.

During the day, the city is thronged with porters and traders, hawking exotic wares of all types, the ale houses filled with sailors on shore leave. At night, the sailors have had their fill of drink, and partake in brawling or prostitutes. They are famed for their skills, and a sea-captain is wise to give extended shore-leave here. The slave markets of Angmairre are huge, and it is the only place on the continent where slavery is legal.

1d8 Encounters in Angmairre
1 - 1d4 Runaway Slaves, 50% chance perused hotly. Keeping them would be theft, but grant you loyal companions. (60% level 1 fighter, else level 1 specialist with randomly distributed skills)

2 - A huge brawl between sailors, d20 a side. They're all laughing and complimenting one another on good technique. Drawing weapons is a sure way to get killed.

3 - 1d6 Sailors acting as a press gang. They'll ignore people they don't think they could bludgeon into submission.

4 - A Nilfenbergian witch-refugee, unable to join the College without a reference, but unable to ply her trade without membership papers. She seeks a group to travel with. 1d4th Level MU.

5 - 1d6 Nobles dressed up gaudily as nautical beasts, en route to a party, surrounded with 2d4 guards.

6 - 1d4 Druids, infiltrating the city to destroy it from the inside. They are usually rooted out and destroyed by the College within a week. They keep trying anyway.

7 -  Nilfenbergian spies, posing as merchants. No war is planned, as they are engaged against the Demon Sultanate, but it pays to keep an eye on the last remaining free kingdom on the continent.

8 - Adventurers! Here for 1) a job 2) looking for work 3) R&R 4) you.

If an adventurer stays in one of the more lavish establishments whilst still bearing their arms and the general demeanor of a ruffian, they are inevitably approached with work. 

1d8 Jobs From Nobility & Pay
1 - Slander an opposing house. Use your imagination. 500sp+
2 - Sink a ship. This could be a rival house or someone else in the family. 1000sp+
3 - Ruin a political marriage by causing one of the betrothed to fall in love and marry someone else. 1000sp+
4 - Apply pressure to a house wizard of the College to turn traitor to the family they currently serve. 750sp+
5 - Collect monster eggs to build a menagerie to rival any other. Price is per-egg, going up for more dangerous/rare creatures.
6 - Murder the current heir. 1500sp+
7 - Burn down the holdings of a rival. 300sp+
8 - Find something to greatly embarrass a rival in court without destroying their reputation. 750sp+


Monday, 20 February 2017

Urythx, the World Whale, the Eater of Stars, Extinguisher of Suns

Urythx protects and provides, albeit unknowingly. The bone spires of the Good Folk, teased out from her flesh, erupt across her star-bleached back, whilst the degenerates cling to her belly, reveling in their parasitic relationship with Urythx, siphoning the light she feeds upon. As she moves to claim another sun as her own, they drift down on their corded tubes of gut and raid the sun-slaved worlds, bringing back slaves and such exotic goods.

Death-driven fanatics dwell upon each of her eight ponderous paddles, each waging war upon their neighbors to advance to the front-most position, ignorant of their cousins on the other flank of Urythx.

Upon her wise crown cling the starmad Sunseekers, gazing on as Urythx drives onward to another distant fleck of light.

The tail is forbidden. The cold of the Outer Dark intrudes strongest there, and those who supposedly squat among it have madnesses of long darks and blistering void - the Outer Dark having wrapped itself about their minds and spines.

People of the Tail
Skill 9
Stam 13
Init 1 (4 in darkness)
Armour 1 (frost-hardened flesh)
Damage as Small Beast or Weapon
Mein - 1 - show 2 - observe 3 - sacrifice 4 - embrace 5- capture 6 - imitate
Has access to the spell Drown, but functions as them filling your lungs with vacuum instead.

Urythx glares forwards and about with her six eyes, each crusted with the debris of stars extinguished. It is not known if she is the only one of her kind, but nowhere across the spheres as her like been seen before.

Upon the tips of her slender whiskers are madmen-prophets, caught between the Outer Dark and the light Urythx seeks so hungrily. The pilgrimage to seek their wisdom is perilous, many drifting free of her blessed gravity and drifting into the Outer Dark, extinguished forever.

Goods are either pirated from the sun-slaved worlds, grown and harvested from Urythx or her parasites, or the rare native metals caught from her blow-hole, which expels the waste from a digestion system built for suns. Monsters are far more common than metals, but the desperate try still.

All vegetation upon Urythx is parasitic, stealing their sustenance from her flesh. The native animals do not fly, but favour armour or camouflage.

HookCrab
Skill 9
Stam 21
Init 3
Armour 3
Damage - 2 attacks, one with small gripping claws (small beast) and then, if successful, the large crushing claws, attacking as a large beast.
Mein 1- hungry 2- idle 3 - evasive 4- cautious 5 - protective 6 - terrified
Something like a crab, but with a shell curving into a sharp point, hanging over their mandibles. They have two sets of claws, a huge killing pair and a smaller grappling pair for holding prey in place. They have 4 jewelled eyes, placed evenly around them, and scuttle across Urythx's hide with their six hook-tipped legs.

Gaseous Giants
Skill 8
Stam 18
Init 2
Armour 3 (mostly incoporeal)
Damage as Fusil but melee range
Mein 1 - morose 2 - confused 3 - homicidal 4 - vengeful 5 - accepting 6 - hopeful
The few sundwelling gaseous giants who avoided digestion by Urythx, belched forth from her blowhole.Many of their siblings have been obliterated, yet they were spared, lost, aimless and guilty. Why us?

Ghostsun Embryos
Skill 11
Stam 15
Init 5
Armour 2
Dam - casts Ember
Mein 1 - curious 2 - hungry 3 - upset 4 - betrayed 5 - needy 6 - berserk
The spirits of potential suns never birthed due to Urythx, their potential cut short. They now haunt the essence of their parent-to-be, which has been absorbed by their killer. They roam both within and without, uncomprehending of their fate, unless told. This is what causes them to go berserk, tearing about the villages until their unformed minds forget once more.

Solar Wraiths
Skill 7
Stam 12
Init 2
Armour 1
Damage as Weapon
Mein 1 - seeking 2 - begging 3 - depressed 4 - bitter 5 - raging 6 - satisfied
The ghosts of sun-worshippers, now denied their afterlife, their god extinguished forever. They crave light, but it merely reminds them of what they have lost.