Thursday, 21 February 2019

Happy Blogday


Dreams, magical, forgotten now by all but a few.
Realms of Autumn Twilight whence the dragons flew.
A fire, kindled, burning in the souls of those who 
gaze west into the dying fire, the hue 
of dusk and remember great battles and old friendships that knew 
no fear. How rare to 
feel the depth of true 
imagination. As the sands of our time run through
remember always the Centaur's wisdom and Eagle's view;
each of us holds a place in our hearts where all these legends grew.


Thursday, 14 February 2019

I Hope You're Not Arachnophobic


Issue Cover!
The weather seemed far more agreeable for an evening game this week. The threat of the pub closing early due to snow falling from the skies has passed but the spider-bots attacking the heroes did not!

Although I was expecting this fight to end with the second round, the dice don’t always roll in your favour. Fortunately, I have gotten the impression that the players understood the basics of the system and I was more than glad to see them utilising their characters to the fullest. Unity created a mechanical panther to fight for her and when it got destroyed, she zapped the spider-bots responsible for its destruction with electricity. Wraith took out a small EMP out of her utility belt. Legacy flew up into the air and down into a group of bots. In essence, the heroes destroyed the annoying critters!

This scene that we have just gone through, with spider-bots attacking the Freedom Five (and Unity!), is defined as an Action Scene within the Sentinel Comics system. It differentiates between two types of scenes, the second one being a Montage scene. It is everything that happens between Action scenes and is the main period when heroes can either regain health or interact with the world in other ways. Regaining lost Health during this scene is fairly simple. A character’s Health is divided into three ranges: Green, Yellow and Red. When you take action to regain it, you regain up to the maximum Health of the range one step above your current one. All you have to do is describe how you’re actually doing that. In the event you’re not interested in Health recovery, you can do whatever else you feel like.

Absolute Zero was the only superhero who decided to ask Unity to repair parts of his life-supporting suit, the others opted to investigate what just happened. Wraith emerged out of the sewers informing her team that the machines came from the direction of the sea, but since they were smaller than a person she couldn’t follow their trail through the pipes. Meanwhile, Unity took a closer look at the robots. She managed to quickly ascertain that they were built using designs from Baron Blade, Omnitron, Atlantean and Thorathian technology. All of which the Freedom Five faced in their previous adventures.

They weren't joking when they said the tree was huge!
Just when they were done catching their breath, a distress call from Argent Adept reached them! He asked for assistance at the Akash’Flora tree because some spider-like robots were attacking it. The transmission ended abruptly after the sound of something very heavy falling down. The sounds of battle were also unmistakably there.

Tachyon might have been first to get there but her team mates arrived shortly after. I started to put out cards onto the table as I described the scene before them. Hundreds of spider-bots crawling onto the massive tree, hacking, slashing and drilling into it, putting its pieces into their internal storage compartments. Innocent civilians were webbed onto the tree, making fighting the bots more difficult. Half a dozen spider-bots took positions on higher ground, on buildings and street lights, ready to shoot at anyone interfering with their task. Argent Adept was nowhere to be seen but the massive shadow of an egg-laying giant machine spider loomed before them.

A large clutter of spider-bots!
It was very nice to hear that the players now understood why I didn’t want to skip through the previous fight. In the tutorial fight, as it has been dubbed, I gradually introduced elements of the system. In this one, everything was out and the superheroes felt truly overwhelmed… as is appropriate for superhero comics!

Since this system is reliant on players describing their actions, during my preparations for running this game, I tried to come up with ideas for what the superheroes might do. Many of them were fairly easy to figure out. Absolute Zero, however, gave me some trouble. He has an Ability called the Principle of Dependence which allows him to use the highest rolled die (remember, you roll three dice and normally take the middle result) on an action when he uses his suit to Overcome a Challenge. I struggled greatly coming up with ideas on how to utilise this so I was extremely impressed when his player came up with a brilliant idea.

In order to save the civilians trapped in the spider-webs, Absolute Zero opened parts of his suit, cooling down the moisture in the air and creating a fog to cover the innocent bystanders. Tachyon took care of the rest, releasing them from their bonds with superhuman speed. Bunker decided to engage the biggest and meanest spider-bot but first he needed a bigger gun. He had his orbital satellite deploy an additional cannon that attached itself to his suit’s arm. On their turn, the giant spider-bot laid even more eggs to replace the ones that hatched several other spider-bots which quickly joined the ones attacking Absolute Zero and Tachyon. Legacy gave a rousing speech to boost his team’s morale while the Wraith navigated through the battlefield trying to locate Argent Adept whom she eventually found buried under a ton of rubble.

I originally expected the group to divide their attention between Attacking the Minions and Overcoming Challenges but instead they decided to focus on mainly removing Challenges. Their choice made sense. The trapped civilians were providing them with penalties to their rolls and they suspect Argent Adept might help in the fight. Boosting yourself instead of Attacking the Lieutenant, which that humongous spider-bot is, is also a great choice because unlike Minions, Lieutenants have the annoying ability to ignore damage.

What differentiates this Action scene from the previous one is the inclusion of a timer. Our superheroes have only so much time before the machines get what they came for… which can’t be anything good.
Naturally, we had to take pictures before we left!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Party People


Last week was one of those evenings. Over the years we have had a large number of wayfarers and adventurers through our doors and whilst not all have remained, many will have have left with a weird but welcoming feeling of what this role playing thing is all about. As a public club we bend over as much as possible to fit in part time players, casual or interested visitors and also aliens that have to report back to their overlords. Given a large pool of potential players there are always those evenings when everyone drops in to say hi.


Whilst everyone gets this and the humans among us are both flexible and good natured, GMs are punished somewhat as all of their games hit capacity instantly and last Thursday was no exception. To be fair we were at four games for that last six months and I was not sure how many players would remain with us at rollover but it does seem like the Planescape players have stuck around somewhat to sample our other wares.


So I think we need to repeat the experiment and a fourth game started and as such I will open another D&D 5th, this time set in the DarkSun universe which is not a formally supported world at present but quite easy to adapt - just use a random Faerun module and raise the temperature by 100 degrees and leave to bake for just over a thousand years - serve with a sliced throat.


The basic premise of the world is that several great and powerful necromancers arose to dominate all civilization and as their magic use and abuse drew from the life essence of the surrounding world, so that life inexorably died. Deserts arose where forests once stood and the seas retreated into legend. In the end of days the necromancers ferociously warred against one other and the final damage to an already broken world was catastrophic. What was left is the dying world of Athas.


So I will have a count again this Thursday and if GMs are content to be relieved a little I shall steal some people and co-opt those who are waiting for a warmer adventure.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Sentinel Comics RPG


Going to the club this week knowing I’ll be back in the GMing seat was as exhilarating as it was nerve-wracking. I’ve been looking forward to running the Sentinel Comics RPG for quite some time now. Partly because I’m a fan of the superhero genre and partly because I have thoroughly enjoyed the setting presented in the card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse, which this Role-Playing Game is a continuation of.

I’m not going to lie that I wasn’t nervous. I had to present a new system to a group of players when all I knew was derived from reading the rules and watching gameplay videos on YouTube. Then I had to give people some background information for the setting. All of this got me worried that it might end up being a very tedious session.

We start this issue with the Freedom Five (guest starring Unity!) helping with the reconstruction efforts in the city of Megalopolis where the massive Akash’Flora tree currently resides. The city suffered tremendous damage during the OblivAeon event a few months back when a cosmic entity came to Earth to destroy the concept of reality once and for all. This caused all heroes and villains across dimensions to put aside their differences and fight OblivAeon.

Many have perished during the struggle. The Hero Nightmist sacrificed herself to open portals to other dimensions to call for help across the multiverse. Among other fallen were the Freedom Five’s arch-nemesis Baron Blade, the time-travelling La Comodora, the ever supportive Scholar, Knyfe, even the Egyptian god Ra died in Fanatics arms after he united the other Egyptian gods to lead the most effective assault at OblivAeon during the entire struggle. It was a difficult but now came the time to rebuild and move on.

The devastation left by OblivAeon was plain to see throughout Megalopolis. Tents were set up in areas for those who have lost their homes. Teams of scientists were scanning for ambient cosmic radiation to see which areas were still habitable. Construction companies were running round the clock to make the city operational again. Meanwhile, the Freedom Five did their best to help. Bunker held up a piece of a fallen bridge to allow traffic for the construction companies. Legacy kept an eye from high above for any workers who might be in danger of becoming falling debris. Tachyon sped around town bringing medical supplies to the needy. Unity assisted the scientists and Absolute Zero gave out ice cream to children.

Suddenly, out of the sewers, crawled mail-box sized spider-like machines. They quickly scanned the area and zeroed on the heroes! As noted by one of the players, this was a tutorial fight meant to show people how the system works in practice. During the one round we played we had Absolute Zero freezing the robots from a distance, Bunker and Legacy charging into them, Unity giving tips on the robots’ weak points, Wraith throwing knives and retreating behind a building, and Tachyon making a quick detour to get some burgers before eliminating an entire group with her super-fast punches. In retaliation, the spider-bots assaulted the heroes with their claws and webs.


Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions that day, we had to end the session pre-maturely. Normally we would have played for another hour but, instead, we went outside and had a snowball fight.


Monday, 28 January 2019

Good Character


So the next set of adventures has begun and GMs have been busily brewing up plots and plans in true alchemy fashion. I was slightly concerned that the D&D lot would be left without a suitable genre but it seems most of them have transposed over to GM Jack's 13th Age and after a brief chat with a couple of them after the character generation it seems they are engaged enough to give it a go.


D&D is always the gateway drug for new role players and there is nothing wrong with staying in such a rich ecosystem for ones entire role playing career but one of the nice things about our club is that even rotating three or four games every six months means that after only a few years a very wide variety of environments are offered and a rich experience builds up. Basically its how we raise our Wisdom stat.


In other games, GM Krzy's Sentinels superhero game is being prepared for action and GM Jon's Star Trek crew are being assigned their positions ready for disembarkation. I did hang back myself for the last evening as I wasn't sure on player numbers and their distribution in games. It was a great opportunity to catch up with Warren who has returned for a while, at least as long as his night shifts permit, but as an extra bonus we did a quick character gen and play test of the Mutant Zero system. Another Modiphius brand and coincidentally a Post Apocalyptic system, it was incredibly fast to outline characters and get going - there are only a few archetypes to choose from, perhaps because there are indeed only a few viable professions that can survive a great collapse. Either way the system is built on D6 where a skill value represents the number of dice that can be rolled and successes happen when one or more sixes come up. I am a big fan of quick and easy mechanics and it seems similar to the D6 Star Wars system so I might be tempted to prep a game. Here's the drama and I might add I am liking trailers for RPGs, though like the latest Cthulu, its released alongside the video game.



Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Post Apocalyptic Post


So in keeping with global catastrophes, it would seem that the Italian based Apocalypse game planned for the forthcoming rotation has failed its timely arrive roll. I suppose that's sort of post ironic but on the other hand we can just leave it until next time and it will be something to look forward to, though I'm always curious as to where the end of civilisations may take us. Of course it depends on the circumstances but in broad terms pandemics breed zombies, nuclear wars breed mutants, computers breed paranoia and aliens just breed.

We have already enjoyed a few great PA games over the years and the Wikipedia article is quite faithful in this respect. Its noteworthy that they list Eclipse Phase which we have played and which I very much enjoyed; a sort of Altered Carbon meets The Thing. An "eclipse phase" is the period between when a cell is infected by the virus and when the virus appears within the cell and transforms it. During this period, the cell does not appear to be infected, but it is.


I also recall The Morrow Project from my younger days which was reborn in 4th edition from its faithful fan base in 2013 but whilst I've not heard much feedback it still remains in retail. But I like the idea of characters blearily waking up from stasis pods in the far flung future.


So in a more present time frame GM Krzys will be advancing a Superhero kick starter, I believe in play test before its full release, as we continue to be more cutting edge than the Samurai version of Sweeny Todd.