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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Something one of my players painted for her FWTD character

That's how she imagines her character meeting the NPC Sitting Oak* from my Fates Worse than Death campaign.
If you're wondering, the man is about 230 cm tall due to genetic augmentation (which anyone can purchase in this setting). He's also a powerlifter, and works as a bouncer in a run down hotel his nephew is running, and has a weird sense of humour, so it all fits.

The picture is how we decided their meeting would go, whenever they meet (or if they have met already. We're still talking about it, since it doesn't matter in the game right now).

"When he learns she's a Bleeder, Sitting Oak picks Vian by the neck and puts her on a chair. Then he disappears in the kitchen and comes back with a bowl.
'No running, please. You eat. Now. We'll talk later.'"


*Yes, the name makes no sense in Native Indian traditions. Sitting Oak picked it for a reason when he decided to abandon those. The players don't know the reason. Actually, like most people, they think he's still following them. He's not disabusing anyone of these notions.


Here's her DeviantArt account.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Skin Borg NPC for FWTD


Abdul "Neen" Taylor
Level 3 Skin Borg
Social Class: Well
Attributes: AWR 7, AGY 13, CHM 5, END 8, INL 11, SPD 10, STH 11, WIL 8, BLD 3, BDY 4, INCY 5
Skills:
    Archeology/Paleontology (5)
    Boxing (6)
    Chemical Analysis (6)
    Computer Modeling (5)
    Forensic Pathology (6)
    Genetics: Anatomical (4)
    Genetics: Botanical (3)
    Knife Fighting (3)
    Law: Basic (6)
    Law: Tech (5)
    Light Sleep (3)
    Nanoengineering (5)
    Programming: Virus (2)
    Sniffing (2)
    Sports (6)
    Street Fighting: Unarmed (1)
    Swimming (4)
    Wrestling (1)
Property:
    In Pockets: Switchblade, Lock Picks: Professional, Lock Picks: Professional, Cellphone
    On Person: Palmtop (Organizer), 2 Knives (Combat), Wetsuit, Steel Toed Boots, Various Armor, Bug Sweeper
    Body Modifications: Cracks
    Armor: None
Personality/Psychology:
    Goals: Abdul wants to help people and make the world a better place.
    Sexuality: Abdul is heterosexual.
    Relationships: Abdul wants a monogamous relationship and wants or has kids.
    Violence: Abdul uses violence, but only against people who are weaker and when there is no chance of getting caught.
    Self-Improvement: Abdul doesn’t think anything needs to be changed about himself.
    Fears: Abdul's greatest fear is having his terrible secret exposed.’
    Social Skills: Abdul has satisfactory social skills
    Personality: Abdul is patronizing, egalitarian, easily confused, unable to say 'no.'
    Bad Habits: Abdul has no bad habits
    Hates: Abdul hates dirt/ugliness
    Soft Spot: Abdul always likes/trusts/helps leaders
    Personal Ideals: Selfless Martyr, Witty Banterer
    Worldviews: Animalist, Buddhist, Humor
    Neurological Issues: Abdul has no real problems.
    Religion: Abdul is a Christian.
    Politics: Abdul is not interested in politics or has no particular ideology.
    Drugs: Abdul uses drugs every night, whatever he can get a hold of.
Background:
    Culture/Nationality: Abdul was raised in America in an immigrant community.
    Family: Abdul's (biological) family lives outside the city, he doesn’t speak to them often.
Appearance:
    Ethnicity: Abdul is mostly or wholly Caucasian.
    Style: Abdul usually wears an Old School Gang style.
    Outfit: Baseball cap, bright red lipstick and thick black eyeliner, grey denim jacket, cargo pants, knee and elbow pads, expensive basketball shoes

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Two reviews - Volant and Soul's calling

I just noticed two reviews by the sincerely yours have been published. So, you can read about Volant and Soul's calling here.

http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/15/15915.phtml
http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/15/15914.phtml

Funny enough, both received 5/5 for substance. Is it a good time to be a gamer? Yes, I'd certainly say so!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Martial arts and settings - Musings

About non-setting specific martial arts supplements.
The short of it is: they either end up looking a lot like GURPS: Martial arts for 4th edition, or it's likely didn't do a good enough job.
The reason for that is, almost all martial arts are setting-specific (wrestling is the only exception I can think of). That's the often-overlooked truth, even something as minor as different styles of shoes can lead to profound changes. If people tend to wear leather or heavy cloth, attacks to the head become extremely important. Go south (shut up, you perverts-southern settings with lighter clothing), and you get much more finger attacks, pressure points and body shots. And these aren't even the most important factors.
Then we add the most common weapons and most common tactics you might encounter, and some styles end up being more in vogue, because they're lucky to have their weaknesses overlooked, or their strong parts are allowed to shine more often. Something as often overlooked as the size of the guard has HUGE influence on what defences one can use. With a katana, it's beating away more often than parrying in the fencing sense, because the tsuba doesn't protect your fingers nearly as much.

When some styles appear that solve most issues, the rest of the teachers try to emulate the successful ones, to find their own solutions to the same problems, or a mix of both. Or they go the "tradition/health" route. Or they go out of business (meaning not many people get to study it, even if they keep teaching it). That often means that if the situation changes, and an unpopular style would be a better fit, it often has to be re-invented anew.


Just some random thoughts on stuff I find lends flavour to an RPG combat. Sometimes, I'm thinking of expanding it into a supplement for some system and setting. At other times, I don't see the point, because who would be interested?

[FWTD] A Black Trader operating in Skin Borgs territory

Antoinette "Big Bill" Griffin

She's the Black Trader near the bridge, who's selling "skins" to the Skin Borgs... since recently, she's been doing so at discounted prices.
Being the charmer, she wants to exploit people sexually.Her "speciality" in illegal business, however, is seeling mental installation time. On top of that, she arranges for addicts to fight to the death. They're given impractical knives, stoned on God Killer, and sent to entertain the public. Antoinette takes a share of the bets and the admission tax.
Recently, her ring has been exposed by a NYPD "sting" and she suspects she has been caught on tape running the show. She's right, as our Utopia child can attest.


Level 2 Trader
Social Class: Indie
Attributes: AWR 10, AGY 7, CHM 11, END 5, INL 11, SPD 9, STH 9, WIL 5, BLD 4, BDY 4, INCY 4
Skills:
    Card Counting (1)
    City Knowledge (2)
    Corporations (2)
    Law (Basic) (1)
    Law (International) (1)
    Mental Programming (3)
    Music (1)
    Network Protocols (2)
    Pathology (1)
    Poisons (4)
    Precognition (2)
    Programming: VR (2)
    Self-defence weapons (2)
    Slam (1)
    Street Drugs (1)
    Trading (1) 

Property:
    In Pockets: Cigarettes and Lighter, Keychain Flashlight, 2 Taser Guns, $30 worth of drugs and the necessary drug paraphernalia
    On Person: Instrument (Electronic), Palmtop (Linework), Sterilization Spray, Drake Blood Poison, Drake Deleriant, Chlorine Cocktail, Laptop (Used), Cellular Modem, Swiss Army Knife (Electronic, Large), Cellphone (Used), Pepper Spray, Gasmask
    Body Modifications: None
    Armor: None

Personality/Psychology:
    Goals: Antoinette wants to be a good member of her religion.
    Sexuality: Antoinette is heterosexual.
    Relationships: Antoinette wants to exploit people sexually.
    Violence: Antoinette uses violence as a tool for making money.
    Self-Improvement: Antoinette thinks she doesn't need to change.
    Fears: Antoinette's greatest fear is a disfiguring disease.
    Social Skills: Outside of business negotiations, Antoinette is shy, awkward or oblivious unless she feels she's holding all the cards.
    Personality: Antoinette is brave, grandiose, wants to control everything.
    Bad Habits: Antoinette thinks in absolutes.
    Hates: Antoinette hates weak people
    Soft Spot: Antoinette always likes/trusts/helps charming people
    Personal Ideals: Cool Under Pressure, Mature Wisdom, Witty Banterer
    Worldviews: Ponderer, Superstitious, Utilitarian
    Neurological Issues: Antoinette has no real problems.
    Religion: Antoinette is Roman Catholic.
    Politics: Antoinette is not interested in politics.
    Drugs: Antoinette is addicted to drugs, not trying hard to quit.

Background:
    Culture/Nationality: Antoinette was raised in America by 'ordinary' Americans and fees pride about her heritage.
    Family: Antoinette's (biological) family lives outside the city, Antoinette keeps her lifestyle secret from them. 

Appearance:
    Ethnicity: Antoinette is mostly or wholly Caucasian.
    Style: Antoinette usually wears an extreme Goth style. She's attractive above the average, probably due to some doctor's skill.
    Outfit: Spiky black hair with long bangs, white face powder, black t-shirt with a band name on it, black pants, elbow-length velvet gloves with fur fringe, shiny black dress-shoes. Sometimes, she dresses in a Roman toga instead, especially on tournaments. In that case, she also sits on a throne.
She's usually accompanied by two bodyguards, former pit-fighters that are genetically modified to be huge.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

What are your players ready to do?

After last session in my FWTD campaign, I joked that I'd give a free level in Subway Fighting* if they bring me a clip with them practising it IRL for at least 15 seconds.
I didn't expect anyone to take the offer. However, it seems I was wrong.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IltDw-I4e4g

I'm actually glad I didn't offer them a free level in Seduction, the clip might have been awkward!

Still, what are your players ready to do for a free skill?


*That's the skill in the setting of using the trains and the momentum of the moving subway to your advantage.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

FWTD: Violence, justice and the Flying Spaghetti Monster (sessions 7 and 8, or 9 and 10)

Last time, we had played 3 sessions, and I blogged about 2 of them. Now we've had one more, so let me tell you about the other 2 of them.


Dimitri
The man had a score to settle with the guy who had injured him with a bolt. He turned to some profilers (Math Addicts), and was informed that the profile said he would move to their territory for his next strike, and the likely window of time when he would be striking again.
He prowled on a roof, and masked himself. When Roofers passed, they failed to notice him, but he called them to warn them about the Hunter. Since he had unveiled his presence, and had a warning, they decided not to beat him.
He hid below the roofs and started observing. By pure chance, one of the Roofers noticed a bolt with a note. She picked it up, and then a bolt hit next her in the foot.
Then the Roofers started looking for the shooter. Unsuccessfully.
On the other hand, Dimitri had managed to find out where the arrow came from. So he sneaked there, and managed to actually surprise the guy.
It was a naked man who had had the chameleon skin genetic disor... upgrade. All he wore was a crossbow, bolts, and a small tube with something, but that was about it.
Dimitri charged him. Well, he tried to sneak, but the guy sensed him already, and assumed a martial arts stance. So he charged.
The first time, he was stopped by a kick in the chest, and his stab missed. So he tried stabbing him lethally, and missed again, being punished by another kick.
Damn, that one was tough, he thought as he finally managed to stab him in the ribs, too. Then it went his way, with the guy getting stabbed in the spleen, too, in exchange for another bone-wrenching kick. And then another exchange.
Then both looked each other in the eyes, and the Hunter decided it's all or nothing. So he waited for the Orphan to attack him again, and tried to parry and hit him with a kick to the temple.
Dimitri missed the kick, but then the guy also didn't manage to parry. So they both crumbled on top of each other.
The Roofers found them in time to save Dimitri. Nobody bothered with the Hunter, and Dimitri awoke in a room near a roof.
On the other hand, the man had got himself an invitation to a Roofers party - only natural, since he was injured defending one of them who had become a Hunter's target. He agreed, only asking them to notify the Orphans.
First thing that happened, he and the survivor (she was limping even worse than him) got medals for outliving their enemy. That was the idea of the Roofers battle general...
The medals were made out of pumpkin. Actually, they had just cut two round pieces in the pumpkin, one for each of them... than decided to cut a mouth in the pumpkin, and to put a candle inside. Halloween was earlier this year!
But as a bonus, they had a lot of pumpkin, so they made pies with it. Everybody approved them (actually, a few more pumpkins had been necessary, but that meant more Halloween pumpkins at the end).
Dimitri spoke with one of the Roofers' founders, and (probably seduced by the pie), expressed a desire to join them. She was flattered, but didn't show it, and just told him to make friends, and hang nearby. He got directed to Carla, who was big enough without the Giantism genetic augmentation, and she wanted to hear all about his fight.
"This guy didn't look strong to me, what happened?"
"He was kicking and jumping around?"
"Yeah, I hate those guys myself. They don't stand next to you to fight like men!"
However, she soon left him, disappointed by the lack of a blow-by-blow account. Deciding he's not fit to dance, he went below the roof to rest and share a joint. A few more people joined them...
And then they heard screams from the roof. Deciding to check, in the corridor they met 3 Siders. Only one of them had her crossbow readied, though, and the stoned/high Roofers were in their way to the retreat.
The bolt sailed over their heads hamrlessly, though. And though one of the Roofers got stabbed, two Siders had been cut down by Roofers swords.
On the roof, however, there was a carnage. Siders had ambushed the party, shot the guards from one of the sides, and unleashed a volley or two on the party-goers. There were probably no other casualties on the Siders' part than the two they met on the way.
Dimitri tried to help them with the first aid, then went back to the Orphanage. The guys there were glad to see him this time, and gave him a rest. It was rumoured he had found and dealt with a Hunter - one of those that picked their targets at random.
Orphans tend to hate those guys. So he's looking at more respect in the near future.

Meanwhile, an Animalist...
...was looking at his battered friends. They had gone to help some friends - from the Freaks, no less - and found that a Freak had info about a possible "Colin strain", as he put it. Seems like he was a Colin Hunter, too. Anyway, they had gone on to hunt some Colins, and did that - even captured a couple - but 2 or 3 had escaped.
Then, being animalists, they went to have sushi, by the suggestion of one of them who has been born in China, and only arrived to Manhattan recently. He was known for being prone to violence (and being known for that among Animalists means something...), dangerous behaviour (same thing...), playing Tai Chi in the mornings, and for asking people "are you yellow?" whenever someone suggested a sensible course of action that avoided confrontation. Hence, his street name had become, unsurprisingly, Yellow.
"I'm Yellow, but not yellow, just Chinese. You yellow?" was a popular sentence with him. Yeah, he's an ESL, and not really good at English, to boot.
They considered briefly how one can get to hunt Colins. Then they heard about Mauler addicts, and the PC suggested a hunt outside Animal wars. One of the others agreed.
They managed to track them - by scent and skill - and to surprise the addicts in an abandoned house. The plan was to have the PC climb to the window and jump on top of them with claws while the others were preparing to charge them.
And it failed, with the PC dropping from the window after losing balance. The Maulers attacked him.
The other Animalist with him was a martial arts freak. Not only did they break them one by one, they didn't even get hurt...at least not anything all that important. The PC was counting "frags", like in Animal Wars. The other guy was surprised, and he didn't wait to ask him about it.
"Sure, it's necessary to kill them, they were dangerous. But did you enjoy killing them?"
"You mean you didn't?"
Both stared at each other in disbelief, and adjusted their opinions accordingly-and mostly, downwards.
After that, the PC got accosted by Yellow.
"I hear you kill lotsa guys?"
"I did."
"Wanna try a real fighter?"
"Have anyone in mind?"
"Yeah, a Chinese fighter!"
So, that was a challenge? It was-Yellow was establishing the pecking order. And they squared up.
Now, the PC didn't really stand a chance, but Yellow just applied him locks to control him, after disbalancing him. Well, whenever he managed. Once, a boxing pain/stun punch did hit him under the ribs... which he amazed of.
Of course, being used to pain, Yellow was unphased, but he appreciated the skill of the opponent who had reached him. The PC, however, was crestfallen.
"Why did I lose so easily?"
"You not Chinese!"
"You're a racist, huh?"
"You talkin' bull! You not Chinese, so you never seen a real master. Can't compete with Yellow!"
Yeah, I know - the man just wanted to say he's had better teachers. But he had trouble remembering the word that's equivalent to Shifu, "teacher", and the grammar turned out to be beyond him...
"Well, you're really strong. Want to make some money?"
"Yellow never says no when you talkin' money!"
"Want to capture one of those Colins? These Colin Hunters might pay to get one of them. Or the city might pay. Or whoever."
"No! That boring!"
"Boring? Colin is strong."
"No! Colin stupid! Easy to find, just boring!"
"Stupid? I hear he's actually rather smart..."
"No! He stupid. He needs big-ass machine, right?"
"Mental installer? Yeah, sure."
"Yeah, this shit! How many like it in city? Who owns them?"
"Well... mostly black traders and city authorities."
"Yeah! Colin stupid! He needs machine. Go to one of those. Stay outside. Wait for old lady, little child and young man. They go there and kill guards. Then you kill them. That be Colin!"
"Oh... yeah. That's smart!"
"Yellow is smart. He Chinese!"
(He actually means "that's what I used to do in China..." but whatever).
"Yeah, and you're not racist."
"No, Yellow not racist! Go now! Watch machine. Wait. Call Yellow when old lady and little child arrive."
"Shouldn't we call someone else, too?"
"No! If he kills guards, we kill Colin, might take machine for us!"
And with that, Yellow went to his home in the Homosexual district - where he hunts for bi-ladies - and left him to his own devices.
The PC, however, failed miserably when he went to see a Black Trader you've heard about if you follow this blog. He didn't even think to ask to get some mental program installed, and just asked him which Black Traders have mental installers.
Then he tried to bribe the Black Trader. Not being the generous type, he offered... a whole $5.
The Balck trader brought him a glass of water.
"That's what you can get for $5. And do yourself a favour... if you go to another Black Trader, don't ask for sensitive information. Most might think you want to take it from them, these machines are expensive!"
The PC took back his money and showed him the finger going out. The trader stopped the Saints of the Corner who had reached for their weapons, and drank the water himself.
"Sometimes, I can afford a 5$ drink", he mused.
Next, the PC spoke with the Colin Hunter he knows, and realised Colin Hunters don't actually have much money to pay. So he went to sneak around the Church of Colin.
After failing another Climbing check to get on the roof - which is good, because the Roofers are enraged this day - he attracted the attention of a Colinite. He got him to the attention of Reverand Colin McKray, and the PC claimed he has always believed in Colin, secretly.
He was immediately taught the prayer to Colin and how to honour the living god/gods/goddesses. And he got invited to tonight's prayers.
He's still wondering whether he should go.

The guys from out of town...
A Neo had joined the Utopia child in the hotel - or rather, he had been pointed in the same direction. After all, the owner and the bouncer were both from his commune.
The two with the Utopia child briefly exchanged glances, and went to their rooms.
However, they ran out together, when they heard a crack. When they appeared, a trio of armed guys had just toppled the owner and were, more or less, in the process of extracting a rackett payment. The big one with the mace went to them and sent them away.
"Not your job here, little ones!"
The Sitting Oak was nowhere in sight. Probably upstairs. This was a hit and run operation, and well-prepared at that. The Neo turned back.
"Then I should go", he answered, and added to me. "To take my bow and arrows, of course!"
The Utopia child was more straightforward. And he was angry at being called "little", though the man was almost as big as Sitting Oak.
"I need to demand that you leave in peace, or I'd have to apply force."
The big guy swung towards his head, and fell down. The other one was already at the top of the stairs.
Long story short, they curbstomped the guys. Both have been trained in dealing with armed attackers (one of them with RBSD teachers, the other one by Chulukua masters, but their styles didn't even differ too much). Taking the opposition down was fast for both, their defence was good, and they didn't hesitate to stomp a guy once he's down. Oh, and once one of them released the owner, he knocked him down with a thrown beer mug.
That turned out to be plenty. So they gave them to the Sitting Oak half a minute later, when he arrived. The Utopia child had some mistaken notions still.
"You're going to call police, right?"
"What for? We can't convict them for racketeering, we ain't got all the documents and they might close us."
"But you offer a necessary service."
"Documents don't really say that."
"Then shouldn't you call the Math Addicts? It's their turf."
"They're not so territorial, and these guys haven't actually broken their rules."
"Then who are the powers you should give them to?"
"Me", the Sitting Oak answered shortly. "I'm supposed to be the bouncer in this place!"
The sense of duty won and the guy stepped aside, fully assured he's doing as he's supposed to. The Sitting Oak dragged the three away for some more "education", and then they got invited to share the dinner of the owner and Sitting Oak.
The Utopia Child was curious what the two believed in. As it turned out, the owner followed Goddolar, and Sitting Oak claimed adherence to the precepts of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Which he honoured every time there were spaghetti at the table.
Since his utopian commune didn't care what you believe in, as long as it's sincere, he was completely fine with these answers. Both were pretty devoted, as far as he could tell.
Now, both of them were looking for work. The owner offered them a place at the Homosexual district, where a friend of his was looking for a bouncer that's not some backwards guy, and has the restraint not to try and hit on the patrons of either sex, unless his company is clearly wanted.
Both claimed they fit. They were, however, also interested in the Night Shift. As far as he could tell, they were recruiting, too.
Both of them decided to apply.
They did, but went to apply during the day.
Now, the fun part is, the Animalist player is actually a cop IRL. So I'm just going to add his comments.
They got them to fill papers, and write motivational letters. The Neo wrote nothing, and asked the cop, Lopez (a big, blond guy with blue eyes) for advice. "Just write you wanted a job."
The Utopia child wrote that he's in it in order to serve and protect people.
The cop glanced at their motivational letters and told him "first exam: go find the doughnuts machine, bring three donuts".
While he was gone, Lopez asked the Neo. "Are you friends?"
"Yeah, we fought together."
"I see. OK, Night Shift will fit you best, both of you!"
And then he ate all 3 doughnuts that the guy brought to them.
Comment from my player: These guys are just like real cops!
They got to listen to the rules, how to do things by the manual (with maximum brutality when necessary, but only if you can defend your actions), and so on. Things only changed when the Night Shift started arriving in numbers. There Day Shift left many fast food boxes, and pointed them to the two newbies. Bets have been made rather fast, and they were questioned about their motives to want to join.
Then they assigned them three guys that have been hurt to lecture them about the stuff they should know. You know... don't grab a person with dreadlocks, unless you've got good protective gloves. There might be wire in them. Don't let them keep anything that might be used as a weapon-and then remember there might be something you haven't noticed, and they might pull it out and cut you. Don't get hurt. Keep guys with implanted claws at reach, they tend to be good with them. Same for Mauler addicts.
Oh, and don't forget to read them the rights, if you're arresting them. Everybody's guilty, for something if not for another. Ask for reinforcements, attack with superior numbers and tactics. Keep safe at all costs, because the city doesn't want to pay your healing - nor does it want to have you out of work for long. (And always pretend you were going by the manual in front of people, but the thing is, you must first get the job done. However, they noted the Utopia child doesn't find it easy to bend rules. So they decided to leave it to the instructors).
Then we got to their patrol. The two rookies were assigned to patrol on Luther Boulevard, with Leila, a very balanced young Night Shift, showing them the ropes.
First thing the balanced, friendly young lady did, was to attach spikes to her club going out of the police station.
"Why do you transform this weapon into a lethal one?"
"Because lethal force might be necessary."
"You said that's going to be a routine patrol."
"Do you know how many people have died on routine patrols?"
The guy looked at his own swords - he has his own, and has taken the sword of one of the guys he beat. It's actually a quite good one, being forged by the Swordsmiths, although not their best by far. And not really the same as his own masterwork weapon.
So they went, and Leila pointed it out to them.
"First test at police work. Someone is breaking the order, by urinating in public. Stop that!"
The two approached the wino. "Sir, I must demand you stop this and go home!"
"But I'm home, how come I can't piss in my home?"
"No, old drunk, you're at the street!"
"Which means I'm home."
For some reason, they haven't considered the meaning of "street person". While the dialogue continued, the wino finished his job, and went away. They found Leila almost without breath for laughing.
Their second task was a bit more serious. There was a mentally disturbed person who was shouting about the threat of the Kalor. "They're putting thoughts in your heads! They plan to take over the world!"
Yeah, sure.
In short, they tried to negotiate, but a blunder at some point made him start shouting again. So they took him down and restrained him. They had no idea how to stop him shouting, though, if they weren't to strangle him.
Then Leila walked next to the guy and showed him her "upgraded" nightstick. Then she bent to whisper in his ear, while they were still restraining him.
"Shut up and go whereever you call "home". Or I'm going to break your bones, one by one."
"..."
She motioned them to release him.
The guy actually made his roll to restore his calm in order to avoid a beating, and fled. She was expecting him to get violent.
Yes, Leila isn't the best at dealing with mentally disturbed people. Although at this point, my cop player mentioned "man, I'm almost feeling like I'm at work!"
I actually took it as a compliment to my research.
However, after that, things started getting weird. First, they met Imogene “The Dead Woman” Barrett. (from Beyond the Eyes of Madness). Leila recognised her and immediately pretended they've found a real body.
So she arranged to leave them with her. "I'm going to be looking for traces!"
The Utopia child was as steadfast as ever.
"I'm coming with you".
The Neo remained to keep her, but he was much too preoccupied about a possible killer. At the end, Imogene rose and left, leaving the two speechless.
Leila laughed a lot and explained to them it's The Dead Woman, who seeks to entice people into raping her "corpse", and has implants that allow her to look like a corpse. "That's how she gets off. And I wanted to see whether any of you would succumb, because if you're running this way, I'd like to know."
She didn't mention that they would likely be curbstomped when they got back to the police station, before being thrown out of the NYPD. But she presumed it's clear, what police department wants a necrophiliac in their midst?
However, the night was still young, when a pusher gang came up. There were 6 guys selling stuff. Leila jumped on the two rookies, and took them down, then motioned them silent, before crawling away.
She called reinforcements.
"Who are those people?"
"They're working for the mob."
"Shouldn't we arrest them?"
"Yes. Now wait for reinforcements."
The first trio arrived soon-ish, and remained hidden. When the third trio arrived, the pushers noticed them, and knowing they're basically at war with the Night Shift, tried to break away. Except they were surrounded. Leila turned to the Neo, who kept silent.
"I want you to drop the first one that reaches under his clothes for a hidden weapon".
One of them did, indeed, and the guy shot him in the throat with his bow. Then the pushers tried to gang on police officers 2:1 in order to clean a way.
One officer got tackled, another got his face slashed by a machete. In return, Leila dropped a guy with a skullcrusher, and the Utopia child gave a painful cut to one of the gangers. Another got dropped by a cop with a telescopic baton, and another got locked by a tonfa.
At this point, the remaining two tried to surrender. Tried to, because Leila had swung towards the head of one as he dropped his weapon and raised his hands. She didn't manage to stop the hit.
The guy needed emergency help. They were all happy that the Utopia child has medical training, or that knockout blow would have killed him.
Their first patrol was a raging success.


Glossary of Terms in the Fates Worse Than Death setting
Also: as stated at the beginning of this post, here are some terms.
It's the latest session of my campaign in the Fates Worse Than Death setting.
Colin is a self-replicating serial killer that "downloads" his mind in the mind of victims via technology, and "overwrites" their identity, replacing them. Math Addicts, Freaks, Humankalories, Hummingbirds and Orphans are gangs in 2080 Manhattan, and number in the hundreds, some in the thousands. Skin Borgs are an aggressive gang that's contained at 145th street. They're recognisable by, hold on to it, the fact that they wear very heavy armours (or high-tech armours that provide the same protection)!
Pusher gangs are the footsoldiers of the Drug lords, which have a monopoly on the drug market that they have wrested away from the gangs. Gangs are more like mutual protection societies, since they can't sell drugs, the city is monitored against importing guns, and the gang of Sexologists forbids pimps from working. These are, as we know, the three greatest sources of income for organised crime. For example, while the Day Shift is the corrupt part of the NYPD, the non-corrupt cops are practically acting like a gang in the setting, and are known as the Night Shift. They're also accused of acting like a gang more than like cops.
Also, many gang members are part of societies that fight the spread of Colin...while people elsewhere consider him an urban myth. But in the ghetto, there are people worshipping him/them as a god/gods (they're morons and suck, yes, if you ask me, but then nobody threatens them, because Colin might take offence). This makes Colin Hunters that much more useful.
Hope that helps.
Also, I need to remind you that there is a video tutorial for the setting if you're interested to learn more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYoof0c9jao
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2Kj6V9rIH8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-gLwYaHOs0
As I said, FWTD is an involved setting.
Which makes it similar to all the other settings I like, come to think of it.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Ran Tenra Bansho Zero on the second Open RPG Day 2013

Maybe you know what is going on in my home city. If so, I'm just describing today's events.
Maybe you don't care. If so, sorry, this post isn't for you.
For those that don't know, but care, we're making an Open RPG Day. We actually borrowed the idea from Free RPG Day, except we're not offering free materials. You just get to try new systems, settings and new GMs, all for free (bring your own snacks, though).
We're now hoping to make it a monthly event, too.

So, last time, I ran In Dark Alleys, which I talked about on that blog. Today was the time for Tenra Bansho Zero - we actually went to an anime convention and invited people that seemed interested.
Only a couple of them actually came to try RPGs, but at least some on my table were fans of the genre. And even one newbie is better than nothing, in my book.


So, what happened? Since TBZ is really character-focused, it makes sense to tell you about the stories of the individual PCs.

The Yoroi Armour Hunter had to leave early for RL reasons. Well, it happens. At least he saved a small girl from a village that has been devastated by an ayakashi.

The Annelidist doctor tried to help a man who has been infected with the Immortality Worm against his will. Turns out, the damiyo Ishikawa Hikaru has been using prisoners of war in this way, in order to create nearly inderstructible shock troops and spies. The guy is actually trampling the Southern Shinto Court, and is well-known for near-perfect intelligence services.
Except he had no idea how to remove an annelid like that one. So they went to Mount Hiro to converse with Tengu!
On the way, he found a village that has been devastated. He got an idea that this might be something supernatural, and left after taking the only survivor-a black chicken.
Then he heard the music of shamisen, and they prowled in this direction. After he met the woman, dressed as a geisha, who was practicing on a clearing, he realised she reminds him of his niece.
She viewed a man who didn't flinch at her being obviously an unnatural person-not many geisha practice lots of kms away from civilisation, in a mountain - and hoped against hope he can take her away, from a marriage she had come to abhor.
She also knew the tengu - drunkards and cads, all of them - and suggested she could introduce them. Oh, and it's better we leave before her husband is here...
So they left for Mount Hiro with the wife of the Green Dragon of the Hiro Mountain.
It didn't work. Avoiding him, I mean. They tried to run, he outran them. They tried to hide, and a wood spirit offered them to hide them - for a price. They refused to give him the immortal guy to eat, and he shouted. The Ayakashi came to see them.
It was actually his wife that opened the hostilities. The immortal guy tried to fight, though he only had a knife. The shapeshifting woman and her husband both exchanged lightning strikes, and took them, almost ignoring the PC.
That is, until he managed to hit the Green Dragon with his Talonfang worms, and rend him apart. His wife was at her last legs at this moment, but he managed to heal her and they met the tengu spirits.
Removing the immortality annelid was actually possible for them, but they didn't know how to implant it into our annelid user-and he had come to covet the power and safety this worm represented. So he kept it, hoping to be able to implant it himself some day, after research.
The scout, on the other hand, went back to his home village, and knew he's just a man. No more than a man. And this allowed him to share in the joys and griefs of others, which was what he wanted.
The ayakashi wife never got to sleep with her saviour - which almost disappointed her - but she was now free to study humans as she wished, changing her appearance to suit her.
Everybody was free, or had a new goal. It was a good work.

The kugutsu was set free by her master. The Ishikawa daimyo has come to take her, but her master claimed she needed to pass one more test. He left a samurai and went back to his castle.
The master, however, was disappointed with the daimyo and ordered her to put the samurai to sleep with some specially spiced tea, and run. As an obedient girl, she ran, taking only her soulgem katana and spare clothes. He had mentioned he'd run, himself.
When she looked back, she noticed there was a big fire in the house. Assuming her master had burned the samurai, she ran even faster, and reached next city around noon, dressed as a ronin.

The shinobi had been sent to dispatch a runaway ninja. He did, without major difficulty. The other guy didn't even have implanted soulgems!
So he brought his head back. Except there was nobody in that village, either. The people had been kidnapped, almost without signs of a struggle. There was a torn piece of cloth with the mon of Ishikaru.
He set to find them, and his first lead was what he suspected to be a false one. Nonetheless, he went to check on the armies of the war-like daimyo.
He reached the next city around noon, dressed as a trader.

The eyes of a ronin and a trader met in front of a city.
The ronin thought it was somebody she knew.
The trader thought that's a very nice boy, and wanted to screw him. He also noticed he had bribed the guards instead of showing a pass.
So they went to each other.
"Do I know you?"
"I would have remembered you."
And so, over a dish and a cup of sake, they reached an agreement that the trader would hire the ronin as a guard. While doing this, they proceeded to totally, utterly ignore the kijin veterans in the room.
Word of advice, don't ignore dangerous people, not look at them for long. Both mark you as targets.
And so their leader went to challenge them. They actually bought him sake, and invited everyone at their table, but then another social mistake lead to a duel.
"You sure you don't want more guards?"
"You think I can't manage?"
Ah well, that was quite in genre. And the fight was tetsubo against sword.
The sword won by cutting up the shoulder of the tetsubo-wielder in an aiuti strike, after having injured him already. Luckily, the kugutsu didn't suffer major broken bones, and healed on the way to the army.
Things changed when they passed through a battlefield-more of a skirmish, actually. The "guard" wanted to help anyone that might be still alive, and bury the rest. The "trader" wanted to know what kind of guard gets sick from the sight of dead bodies.
At the end, they saved a couple people and got directions to where the army of the Ishikawa had retreated to. The ninja made short work of finding them, and they had to devise a plan to enter it, in order to check for his missing relatives.
So the kugutsu offered herself as the bait. The ninja gladly "returned" her after "saving her" from her "abductors". They learned here that both the samurai and the kugutsu master had been killed in the fire.
Lots of lying later, they were waiting for the daimyo, and looking for ways to get around. The Kugutsu asked about the village, hinting the people in it might have something to do with her abductors. When it was confirmed they were here - "forced recruitement" as they put it - the ninja forged a document about them, threw it away and sneakily followed the guy who found it. As expected, he hastily brought it to the overseer of the villagers.
The only trouble was, they were guarded by kongohki. And the shinobi actually had liked workinf for himself much better than being owned by his clan.
So he let them being recruited, and went to hire himself separately to the daimyo. After receiving 10% of the price of a kugutsu-Ishikawa never rips a working bounty hunter! - he was richer by 500 000 ryo, which basically meant he'd never need to work again.
The kugutsu wasn't too thrilled, but she had put her faith in the shinobi. Now she had to pay for it by living as property for a while. After that, she had slipped away again.


My opinion on Tenra Bansho Zero:
The system is nothing special, and is neither more "character-focused" nor faster than other games, really (the latter might change given players that know the system better). However, that's not where the strength of the system lies, IME.
The part about Karma and having a limit on it however, forces players to roleplay changes in the PCs' personalities constantly. And that's a good thing in my book. It works better both for creating drama, and for more naturally evolving changes in the characters.
Or rather, let me quote what Regina (forum name) just wrote on Facebook. Keep in mind, it was her first session ever, so she's as unbiased as they come!

Today's game was great. Allegedly began with a mission, but finally it changed my destiny and behaviour. Almost like in real life - you do not know how you can change and what goals you will have.

As I like to say, that's one of the greatest compliments a GM can receive (unless it's damning with faint praise - it might mean that the game wasn't focused enough. Let's hope that's not the case, especially since she had expressed interest in playing again).

Next Open RPG Day is planned for August. We might mean in the meantime as well, but we'll see.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

1st Open RPG Day for 2013: Little Boy Lost (In Dark Alleys)

On 22.06.20013 we had an Open RPG Day (like Free RPG Day, except you don't get hardcopies of the quickstarts) in Sofia. Of course, I was one of the organizers (helping to round up other GMs) and ran a game of In Dark Alleys.
The idea is to have more Open RPG Days, too.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***
I assume you know the (free) adventure Little boy lost, as well.


So, I ran the game as presented. Only 4 players decided to join the horror game, so we played with those. The rest failed to show up in time.
They found the stuff in the boy's room, and while one of them liked the cold teddy bear, the chain positively creeped them out. The first channel was the valley of the dead souls, so they got the idea they should arm themselves when shades ran through them.
They got to see the Memory halls, and almost fought the Ego. The reason? "Behind closed doors, there's probably the things she hasn't seen yet!"
I think they actually got the idea of being wrong by meta-gaming, because I was cackling, much as I was trying to hide it.
The important part was, they found the memory of Mel watching the kid, and were able to see he was watching a particular channel. Then the group went ahead and passed without major incidents through everything but the Deserted city - didn't roll that one. They knew what they were looking for, though.
And then the group went on and found the idyllic landscape place. They went towards the music, brandishing knives, and one of them failed to resist the call. She put herself in the circle, while the rest of them had to deal with the toy-like monsters.
The psychology student got absorbed by a monster which was already mortally wounded. The rest of them killed another, but were shepharded towards sitting in the circle.
Meanwhile one of the monsters absorbed another. The boy was crying already.
Then one of the things went on and was trying to absorb the self-defence girl. As an answer, she stabbed it while it was saying "goo", stabbed it, then stabbed it again as an opposed attack, and managed to push it off herself.
A frantic fighting retreat ensued. Mel got eaten, as well, and not in the nice, sloppy way.
The managed to drop most of the other monsters, and fought them to a stand-still while they were trying to push themselves out of the TV. The programmer even ran back to grab the grey remote, which was dropped in the first fight. He came back successfully, and stabbed the last one in the back, while it was midway across the TV. It pulled back, and he jumped into the room. Then they managed to change the channel, and cut the last one across the middle.
"But Mel is still there!"
"No, she isn't, not any more."
"Oh..."
I even gave them some Minor Touched Abilities as "XP". Then the rest of them arrived late (I handled the pre-gens to the players who had lost a PC).
One of them found it funny and decided to explore more. They freed the monk, who told them whatever he had found.
Then they went to the Land of the Dead. And the new guy went in the wrong direction.
The bat-like monster swooped the newly-touched self-defence expert and dropped her, dead.
For some reason, he decided to keep going in the same direction. The same happened to him.
The others turned off the TV for good, put the boy to sleep, and told the mother Mel had an early period, which in her case was rather painful. "We took care of the boy and kept the house, miss, no problems!"
She bought it and they went away, knowing more about what is real and what isn't than before. They're now suitable to become 1st level characters, if I ever run the game.

/SPOILERS

All in all, the players enjoyed the game. All of them are coming for more RPGs on the 2nd Open RPG Day 2013 this week. Some are going to bring friends as well, so I call that a success.