Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nan Tuck's Ghost

I was hoping to have this ready yesterday but I was ill and ended up cowering on the sofa for the entire evening. So I'm sorry that it's a little bit late but here's my Halloween offering for 2013: Nan Tuck's Ghost. It's a short adventure that should only take one evening to complete and is almost system neutral; there's one bit that mentions mechanics used in Call of Cthulhu, D&D, and Savage Worlds, but that's more an attempt to be helpful than anything.

Let me know how you get on with the adventure. I suspect it will be quite deadly; when I played it there was only one surviving player-character and that's because they weren't present for the grisly finale. Have fun!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Grim and Perilous Initiative

The second edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay ditches the Initiative statistic used in the tabletop wargame and the first edition of the rpg; instead it introduces a mechanic that suggests that someone noticed that the book was going to press without rules for deciding turn order. It's a bit half-hearted to say the least so in The Enemy Within we're using a system that I stole from the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game. It goes a little something like this:

  1. Each player rolls 1d10 and adds the result to the first digit of their character's Agility statistic; the GM does the same for each unique non-player-character or group.
  2. Whoever got the highest total goes first; ties are decided by the highest Agility score or an opposed Agility test if scores match. When when their turn is finished they decide who goes next; this doesn't have to be one of their allies.
  3. Repeat step 2 until every character and group has had a turn; whoever goes last chooses the character or group that goes first next turn.

Players can spend a Fortune Point to interrupt the turn order and if the GM wishes to interrupt a player, he or she must award that player a Fortune Point. I must admit that I'm not sure what effect this has on the Delay combat action; I suspect it will replace that option but it's not come up in the game yet.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My RPG Person Profile

Zak's latest idea looks useful, so here goes.

I'm currently running (at home): The Enemy Within for third edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, only I'm running it in the second edition. You can read session summaries here.

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (at home) include: Nothing; we just finished a big Pathfinder campaign and we only meet once a week so I'm not playing anything right now. Once The Enemy Within is done I'll get to play for a bit again.

I'm currently running (online): Nothing. There was a plan to run some Rogue Trader on G+ but I ran out of time and courage.

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (online) include: Nothing. I haven't played online in ages. I'd love to get back into it.

I would especially like to play: 13th Age; I bought it ages ago but haven't had a chance to play it yet.

...but would also try: Almost anything.

I live in: Brighton, on England's sometimes-sunny coast.

2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like: The AD&D2 Monstrous Manual, Vornheim, pre-100 White Dwarf.

2 or 3 novels I like: Dracula, The War of the Worlds, Wuthering Heights. I need to read some more recent books.

2 or 3 movies I like: Halloween, My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke.

Best place to find me on-line: Here most of the time or Google+ on occasion.

I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: got at least one good idea.

I really do not want to hear about: how rule system X is the best rule system ever and is perfect for anything and all other rules systems are inferior in every possible way.

I think dead orc babies are: a good indication that some angry orc parents are coming your way soon.

Games I'm in are like: a cultural cliché. We drink a lot of tea.

Free RPG Content I made is available here: under the stuff you can use tag on this blog or under the same tag on my older blog. I also wrote two One Page Dungeon winners.

You can buy RPG stuff I made here: I did the art for Death Love Doom and some of the art in The B/X Companion and The Complete B/X Adventurer and a few of the later issues of Fight On! but everything I've written is so far available for free.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Worst Garden Party Ever

My prediction from the last session was a bit off; Rudiger Adler did not get shot. In fact, he didn't suffer a single injury, but then again all the player-characters did this session was provide security for a noble's garden party, and how dangerous can that be?

Last time, the party got in a scuffle while protecting Clothilde von Alptraum as part of a scheme to draw out some bandits; draw them out they did, and discovered that at least one band seemed to be made up of members of the Averheim city guard, or perhaps the roadwardens; the text of the adventure is a bit unclear on the name of the organisation, which is not ideal in an investigative scenario.

One of the bandits was captured alive -- another escaped, which should keep the player-characters on their toes -- and was taken back to the von Alptraum manor house, where the dwarf Magnar attempted -- torture having been forbidden by Clothilde -- to intimidate him into telling them why he was carrying equipment belonging to the city guard and who he was working for. Alas, Magnar fumbled the interrogation and all he managed to get from the prisoner was a sneer.

Returning to Averheim, the party discovered that their work for the bureaucrat Curd Weiss had been observed by Weiss' employer, Graf Friedrich von Kaufman and, pleased with their success, the Graf met with them to offer them another job. He was planning a garden party for some of his friends and contacts, in order to show off some items acquired in an expedition he'd funded to the Southlands - the Warhammer equivalent of sub-Saharan Africa -- and because of all these rumours of corrupt city guardsman he asked the party to provide security at the event. They would be joined by two other hirelings: the trollslayer Thorek and wood elf Dran Durel.

Aelric was overjoyed to be invited to a high society gathering but crestfallen when he discovered that he was to be hired muscle; this didn't stop him trying his best to ingratiate himself with the assembled nobility. Magnar noted that the party was taking place on the central lawn of a menagerie -- featuring a griffon, a rhinox, and a giant spider, amongst others -- and set about arranging defences. One could argue that Magnar was being paranoid but this is a role-playing game, so of course the monsters were going to get loose.

First though, the nobles had to engage in petty arguments with one another., and Claudia Leitdorf -- a potential heir to the throne of Averland -- excused herself from the party with "a headache". Soon after, an unnamed witch hunter turned up -- worrying Aelric enough that for the first time in the event he kept a low profile -- and caused a great deal of distress for the Light Wizard Mauer, Captain Baerfaust of the city guard, and von Kaufman himself, before leaving in as abrupt manner as she arrived. Baerfaust left the party in the witch hunter's wake and Mauer left after a blistering row with von Kaufman over some of the artefacts brought back from overseas.

To break the tension somewhat, Amalie, one of the ladies-in-waiting, suggested a game of hide-and-seek in the nearby hedge maze; Magnar again assumed the worst and insisted on following her into the maze and standing guard, although she did at least manage to convince the taciturn dwarf to stay quiet and hide around a corner so he wouldn't spoil the game.

The griffon somehow got out of its cage -- surprise! -- and plunged into the maze looking for its dinner. There was also a great explosion -- this came as more of a surprise -- and von Kaufman's exhibit of exotic treasures was engulfed in a cloud of acrid smoke. Magnar stayed where he was while Rudiger and Thorek rushed into the maze to attempt to rescue the people within. Meanwhile, Aelric and Dran Durel set about rescuing those caught in the explosion.

Once again we were reminded that Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is not Pathfinder as the griffon almost killed Magnar and Thorek -- only the expenditure of Fate Points saved the two dwarfs -- but Rudiger managed to escape unscathed through the perspicacious decision to hide and crawl away when he saw the trollslayer cartwheeling through the air, blood and fluids spewing from his open belly.

Baerfaust's guardsmen arrived at last -- having been barred from the event by von Kaufman -- and finished off the griffon, and although von Kaufman's falconer and another noble's jester had been eaten by the beast, and Clothilde's bodyguard was killed in the explosion, the Graf thanked the player-characters for doing their best to save everyone.

This chapter had its challenges as a lot of it involved non-player-characters talking to each other, and there's always a danger with that of excluding the players; I hope I managed to avoid the worst of that although it did feel at times as if I was performing a one man show. The maze set-piece is also tricky as it's a bit clumsy and slow as written; I decided to make it a bit more abstract in order to speed it up and I think it worked a bit better.

Next time: the aftermath of the party and further investigations into the identity of the Black Hood.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away

Last time, the elf Aelric Shadowstar, the dwarf Magnar, and the human rogue Rudiger Adler mooched around Averheim's dock district, looking for the plot. In doing so they uncovered gossip about subjects as diverse as a new crime boss, possible war in the north, and a hunchbacked mutant stalking the docks. They also beat up a teenage pickpocket and discovered the body of a murdered criminal; they decided to keep watch near the corpse in the hope that the killer would return, which would have been a good idea had they not spent the evening getting drunk. As a result they each closed their eyes -- just for a little bit, mind you -- only to wake up a few hours later, covered in morning dew, curled up next to a murder victim, and with a small crowd looking on.

This is why we love Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

At some point Aelric remembered he had the use of an actual house, with proper doors and windows and everything, so the party stopped sleeping wherever they happened to collapse and after a night in relative luxury they returned to the docks to find that cheerful busker-cum-informant Ute had gone missing like so many before; they almost seemed upset by this but I couldn't tell if it was because they liked her or because they'd lost a resource. While looking into this latest disappearance the party stumbled upon another dead gangster, this time getting the CSI treatment from Light Wizard Konrad Mauer, who was being played by William Hartnell's Doctor Who.

After spending the past few days mixing with the lower classes, Aelric was quite pleased to meet Mauer who -- as both a wizard and a noble -- was almost as good as an elf. Mauer confirmed their suspicions that there was some sort of magic involved in the killings and also seemed quite taken with Adler's theory of a mutant scorpion man running around Averheim.

Soon after they met the bureaucrat Curd Weiss, who gave them a job; to discover the location of a goods wagon that had gone missing somewhere just outside the city. Off they went, bumping into a Strigany pedlar -- and I suspect, contemplating robbing him -- and just after lunch discovering wheel tracks leading off the road into a copse sheltered among some light hills. Suspecting that they had found the missing wagon, Adler and Magnar tried to sneak up for a better look. Magnar succeeded. Adler got three arrows in the face.

This is why we love Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Aelric's horse got a stray arrow in the rump so it decided to go home with or without the dwarf and the human target. Upon returning to Averheim the party failed to convince Weiss to send an army after the bandit snipers but did somehow manage to command a higher fee for their services; perhaps Weiss felt sorry for Adler, sitting there with bandages wrapped around his head like a citizen of Nehekhara. He also gave them another job, to escort a noble to her country mansion as part of an elaborate plan to draw some bandits into a trap.

The next day the player-characters met Clothilde von Alptraum and accompanied her and her wizened bodyguard and coachman into the countryside. Of course they were ambushed and of course Adler got beaten up again, but in the end the bandits were vanquished by the adventurers. During the looting that followed Adler discovered that the criminals may have been members of the Averheim city guard. Dun-dun-dunnnn!

Or something.

Now that we've got past the somewhat awkward introduction The Enemy Within II: Electric Booglaoo is flowing a bit better and the players are getting more involved, coming up with all sorts of theories about what's going on in Averheim and who might be behind it all. Adler's obsession with the Mutant Scorpion Man™ was a particular highlight, as was his unfortunate encounter with the first group of bandits; I have to admit to being a bit surprised at the players' retreat but that's perhaps a result of months of playing Pathfinder, where we tore through all opposition without blinking. WFRP is quite a different game and seeing Adler go into critical condition in the first couple of rounds of combat brought that home.

There's a lot of meeting-and-greeting in this new version of The Enemy Within -- again in stark contrast to Pathfinder -- but the players seem to be enjoying it and I'm keen to find out what they think of the many characters they've encountered; already Magnar is working with Konrad Mauer and Aelric is keen to forge links with everyone, as long as they are of the right class, of course.

Next time: some stuff happens and Adler probably gets shot again.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Enemy Within II: Enemy Withiner

With Pathfinder behind us until we have a mental lapse and decide we want to do some more swords and mathery, my group started playing The (New) Enemy Within yesterday with me taking on the GM duties. It's a strong campaign with lots of interesting twists and turns and some exciting set pieces so I think it will be a lot of fun, but it's got a bit of a clumsy beginning, an odd mix of railroad -- you must investigate the disappearances at the docks! -- and sandbox -- here are four billion clues and NPCs; you sort through them! -- but with a little bit of effort and a sporting approach from my players -- recognising that if they don't pursue the thread there won't be a campaign to play -- things seem to have got off to a good start.

The campaign was written for the third edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay but we're playing it with the second edition and I've been converting things on the fly; so far this hasn't been a problem as the book is rather light on actual rules and for a game full of funny dice and odd resolution mechanics, WFRP3 is quite easy to convert back to the earlier edition. Behold!

Quick and Dirty WFRP3 to WFRP2 Conversions:

As a general rule of thumb, multiply a WFRP3 statistic by ten to get the WFRP2 value, use Strength for Weapon Skill and Agility for Ballistic Skill, use Soak Value as Armour Points, and transfer Wounds over as they are. Skills and talents aren't an exact match but you should be able to get close enough; it may be that the resulting WFRP2 character will have abilities they shouldn't have by standard construction rules but I don't tend to worry about that sort of thing.

We play again on Friday; the player-characters have picked up some clues and have a number of theories about the disappearances, and have even made a new friend. As might be expected, I ended the game session with the cheerful news that said friend has gone missing.