19th Level

Subscribe to 19th Level feed
RPGs, science fiction, fantasy, gadgets, and anything else that comes up.Daniel Stacknoreply@blogger.comBlogger430125
Updated: 10 hours 23 min ago

Resuming a Classic-Era Cthulhu Campaign

11 hours 20 min ago

After some discussion with the group, for our Call of Cthulhu game we decided to bring back some characters from our campaign which took place in 1918-1919, beginning with an adventure set during the Great War (Chaosium's No Mans' Land).

I've been giving some thoughts as to the best way to do this. It's been about two years in real time since we last played that game. I'm definitely going to take advantage of that gap and will be introducing a one to two year gap in the game as well, pushing the timeline to 1920 or 1921. I think the passage in time can be used for a number of purposes.

We've three regular players in the game plus myself. One of the players has decided to go for a new character, having recently torn through HP Lovecraft's works (having previous familiarity form the game) - he's been eyeing an antiquarian. Another of the characters has been learning about the Cthulhu Mythos, having delved into the Book of Eibon. That time is useful to give him time to fully read the tome and to learn a spell or two. He's also a bit on the unstable side and may be able to take advantage of that downtime to indulge in some sanity-boosting activities to delay the inevitable slide into madness. Finally we've a young budding librarian from Harlem who might spend some time studying at the Miskatonic University.

As I review our old campaign material and consider where to go from there I'm reminded of a few ideas I had from our previous game. The first of which is that HP Lovecraft was an unreliable narrator. The stories he wrote were true... to the best of his knowledge. This means names, dates, and places may have some inaccuracies to them. This means, for example, it might be our characters who face "The Dunwich Horror" - and it also means the dates ascribed to his tales might be wrong. If it serves the campaign to have the raid on Innsmouth take place in 1921 then we can do so.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fiction Review: Lovecraft Country

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 02:45

“Arkham,” Atticus said. “The letter says Mom’s ancestors come from Arkham, Massachusetts.” Arkham: home of the corpse reanimator Herbert West, and of Miskatonic University, which had sponsored the fossil-hunting expedition to the mountains of madness. “It is made up, right? I mean—”  “Oh, yeah,” George said. “Lovecraft based it on Salem, I think, but it’s not a real place . . . Let me see that letter.” Atticus handed it to him and George studied it, squinting and tilting his head side to side. “It’s a ‘d,’” he said finally.
Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country is an unusual novel - it is a collection of interconnected tales about Atticus Turner and his friends and family in the 1950s.

Atticus is an African-American from Chicago. He is from an upper middle class family, with an uncle who owns a travel agency and publishes the Safe Negro Travel Guide, based upon the real world Negro Motorist Green Book which provided African-American travelers advice on what businesses would service their vehicles, where they could stay and eat on the road, etc. It's depressing as hell to reflect that there was a need for such a book.

Atticus is a veteran of the Korean War. He'd spent some time working in Florida but living in the south did not agree with him so when he received a strange letter from his estranged father he jumped at the excuse to head back home. Atticus loves science fiction, a love he shares with his uncle George. His father, Montrose, is less a fan of such works - he especially dislikes Lovecraft, having dug up some of Lovecraft's nastier writings on African-Americans.

However, Montrose is missing, having traveled to Ardham, Massachusetts, tracking down his late wife's family background. We learn that she (and Atticus) are descended from a powerful sorcerer and his slave - a slave who ran off around the same time that sorcerer performed  a disastrous experiment. This makes Attiucs the sole surviving direct descendant of that sorcerer and of great interest to the sorcerers (they prefer the term "natural philosophers") who have reformed it. The current head is a member of that family, but not a direct descendant like Atticus.

The novel tells the tale of Atticus, along with his family and friends, as they deal with both the supernatural and the reality of being black men and women living in a world where racism is comfortably institutionalized. The stories in the novel run the gamut of HP Lovecraft's tales - secret cults, ghost stories, physical transformation, visits to far off alien worlds, etc.

I greatly enjoyed the use of Lovecraftian ideas in a story with African-American protagonists, given Lovecraft's own racist views. Montrose berates his son for his fondness of Lovecraft, uncovering Lovecraft's poem "On the Creation of Niggers" as evidence.

These stories also make for great inspiration for a Call of Cthulhu game. Atticus and company have multiple contacts with the supernatural over a period of several months, similar to how a group of Call of Cthulhu investigators will have multiple adventures.

Jordan Peele is making this novel into an HBO series. I think it has the potential to be a great show and will be looking forward to it.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reflections on the Passing of Chris Cornell

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 01:53

Andrew Wood. Kurt Cobain. Layne Staley. Scott Weiland. And now Chris Cornell.

Grunge music really took off late 1991, the start of my junior year at the University of Connecticut. I graduated in May of 1994 (taking five years due to time spent on co-op). For the second half of my time at UConn, the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, and Soundgarden provided the soundtrack. I loved classic rock like the Beatles and Queen and I'd yet to fully discover the greatness of David Bowie. But the grunge music of the early to mid-1990's inevitably brings me back to my early twenties. I don't think I could ever explain what a seismic change those opening chords of Smells Like Teen Spirit marked for many in my generation. And now so many of them are gone. It's not a unique phenomenon -  earlier generations experienced the losses of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, and Janis Joplin.

Like many of his musical generation, Cornell suffered from mental health issues of anxiety and depression and had a history of drug addiction. There is some question as to whether his anti-anxiety medication could have played a role in his suicide.

If explaining the impact of grunge music in the 1990's is hard to those who weren't there, explaining anxiety and depression are even harder. They are topics that get a lot of well-meaning commentary. I've seen people I love a great deal suffering greatly from these conditions, turning into people I could barely recognize. I've heard people talk of the evils of medication and I understand their concerns - and share many of them. But there's no magic solution. What works for one person might not work for another. Heck, what works for one person one day might at another point stop working. I do know I've seen people pulled from the brink of suicide from a combination of therapy and depression.

I think the cruelest thing about depression and anxiety is they can sabotage treatment. With depression, you can feel you deserve the way you fell. You feel you don't deserve to get better. This is how you should feel. With some forms of anxiety you can convince yourself of all the things that might go wrong with your treatment. And in the background the feeling, sometimes reinforced by other people, that if only you were a little bit tougher, you'd be able to tough your way through it.

I don't know the details of Chris Cornell's mental health issues. I don't for a second think he was a coward. I've heard people I love explain how they feel I'd be better off without them. That feeling of being a burden. I don't have any answers. I wish he and so may others of his generation were still with us and not in such pain. And I hope his loved ones find some peace.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fiction Review: The Dead Zone

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 01:50

It's been a long time since I read Stephen King's The Dead Zone. I believe I received it as a Christmas gift in a boxed set back around 1987. First published in 1979, The Dead Zone isn't really a horror novel - it is more a crossover of a political thriller and a tale of a man gifted/cursed with psychic powers.

What I found striking was how the book both worked as a period piece and how it is relevant today. It tells the story of John Smith - yes, that's his real name. Ever since an accident he had as very young boy (one he has no memory of) he's had the occasional psychic flash. This is illustrated in the beginning of the novel, set in October of 1970, where he and his girlfriend Sarah, both first-year teachers, are at a carnival and he has a wild streak of luck at the wheel of fortune. However, his luck soon turns ill as he gets in a car accident which puts him in a coma with nearly no chance of recovery.

We follow Sarah as she meets Johnny's parents, Herb and Vera, for the first time in the hospital. They all react in different ways. Vera becomes very extremely religious (she'd already been extremely religious), getting involved in various doomsday cults. Herb is horrified by his wife's instability and while he greatly loves his only child, is at the point that he wishes John would die and be free. Sarah stays in touch with John's father and struggles with the loss-but-not-loss of a man she had just begun to love. Eventually she moves on with her life and marries, with Herb's blessing and attendance.

Of course Johnny wakes up. Four and half years later. He discovers the world has changed, in huge and in small ways. There is of course the shock of his girlfriend now being married. And there is the shift in politics, with the Vietnam War over and Richard Nixon gone.

Johnny's psychic flashes have become far more powerful - a form of psychometry - by touching a person or object he can often (though by no means always) get flashes of the future or the past. His ability to trigger it is not reliable but when it does activate it is always accurate. Though the future he sees can be changed with these warnings.

The rest of the novel deals with Johnny getting a psychic flash that an up and coming independent politician, Greg Stillson, will one day become president - and will be a disastrous president. Around this main storyline Johnny has to learn to walk again, his muscles having atrophied. And he has to handle being an occasional celebrity as word of his abilities becomes known, though by no means universally believed. Johnny really wants to go back to teaching, something that proves rather difficult given the reputation he acquires, especially after a desperate Castle Rock police force makes use of him to find a serial killer.

Written in a period when it seemed to be open season on incumbents, especially Republican ones, it's interesting to view Stillson through a more modern lens. Stillson, though at his core quite ruthless, presents a bit of a whacky exterior, giving out free hot dogs at his rallies (one of his platforms, as well as send all pollution into space). His unconventional nature obviously makes one think of Donald Trump (and depending on one's political views, the danger Stillson represents).

In addition to the big story elements, the small ones are just as vital to the story. Johnny's relaitonship with his parents, his father in particular, is vital. As is his attempts to reconcile what happened with Sarah - the feeling that they were cheated out of a life they should have had together.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Old Ones Shall Be - Planning the Next Cthulhu Campaign

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 03:09

After some discussions with my gaming group and time spent in creative pondering it appears that up next is some form of the Cthulhu Mythos. I'm in the process of drilling down to see just what that means.

We could continue one of two previous campaigns, a traditional 1920s game and a pulp Gaslight-era one. While the Gaslight-era was fun, my inclination is to return to a more traditional 1920s or 1930s period. New characters might be in order as our group has gotten a bit smaller since then (truthfully I found the group a little too large for Call of Cthulhu though it did help when the body count got high).

I'm considering three possible campaigns. The first is your "traditional" 1920-something era campaign, most likely set in Lovecraft country. I found my players tend to do very well when faced with the "impossible" odds a normal Cthulhu game presents. That's not to say such a game is safe - far from it.

We did enjoy a number of pulp elements in our Gaslight-era campaign, to the extent I'm giving some consideration to a more straightforward pulp game set in the 1930s, with globetrotting, Nazis to punch, and forbidden cults to defeat.

The final option would also be in the 1930s, making use of Pelgrane Press' Trail of Cthulhu game. I'm a bit torn on this option - the Call of Cthulhu RPG is one of my favorite RPG systems. But I have an admiration for the laser focus of Pelgrane's Gumshoe system, with everything designed to drive an investigation forward. I love the hard-boiled detective tales of the likes of Raymond Chandler and would like to take it for a spin.

Image Credit - "The Call of Cthulhu" by Hugh Rankin, Weird Tales (February 1928)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wayward Kickstarters May 2017 Edition

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 15:22

I was updating my backed projects on Kickstarter with projects I've received and I decided it was time to do an update as to what projects are way overdue...

First, the good news. There were some Kickstarters over the past several months that I finally received overdue rewards on. These include:

Next, the products for which I've not yet received the full set of awards and are considerably overdue. In some cases I've received some of the rewards and also many times I'm still pretty confident of a happy outcome.
  • Gallery of Evil - Due in February 2013. I have the PDF for this supplement to Capes, Cowls, and Villains Foul but the physical book is considerably overdue. I'm foggy on the prognosis of closure - Spectrum Games is still a going concern and shipping other products but the last communication on this was November 2016.
  • Punktown: An RPG Setting for Call of Cthulhu® and BRP Gaming - Due in August 2013. There is still communication on this claiming progress is being made and the PDF should be available "in weeks". Unfortunately similar updates had been made previously. It's a pity as Miskatonic River Press had done some fantastic Call of Cthulhu work.
  • Mekton Zero - Due April 2014. I suspect R. Talsorian massively underestimated their resources. Updates continue and I do believe this will get finished, though I suspect it's still a long way to go...
  • Call of Cthulhu: The Writhing Dark - Playing Cards and Tarot - Due April 2014, last update August 2016. I suspect this is money lost.
  • Promised Sands for Sixcess Core - Due February 2014, updates continue. I suspect it will come out at some point, though like Mekton Zero, I'm not expecting it any time soon.
  • Raiders of R’lyeh: Horror Adventure RPG and Mythos Sandbox! - Due February 2014. I've received some digital content but no signs of the final product. Last update December 2016. I've a bad feeling about ever getting this.
  • TimeWatch: GUMSHOE Investigative Time Travel RPG - Due November 2014. It was hit by delays and stretch goal creep. I have all of the digital rewards and all but one of the physical which is being readied for release. Communication has for the most part been good, though there was a period of silence at one point. Though I'm unhappy with the delays I don't regret backing this.
  • World War Cthulhu: Cold War for the Call of Cthulhu RPG - Due April 2016. Hit by a number of stretch goals, though even with that, pretty overdue. Thankfully the core and first supplement have been released both digitally and physically. Pretty sure the remainder will be delivered. Really would like the Our American Cousins sourcebook...
  • Metamorphosis Alpha: Epsilon City - Due March 2016. I've received digital rewards and it is apparently printed and en route to USA. 
  • Tales of the Caribbean - Due June 2016. I've received most of this, with a final supplement still in production. Communication regular.
  • Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game - Due March 2016. Hit by a ton of stretch goals. I've received the Agent's Handbook. Updates are regular. Arc Dream has a tendency to be late but produce awesome products.
Note that I'm not considering 7th Sea - 2nd Edition late. It smashed through goals but it was always understood the goals would be released on a schedule. The core boo and first supplements are out and sneak previews are being given for work under development. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fate Lessons #3: Star Wars Campaign Evaluation

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:46

Last night we wrapped up our Fate Accelerated Star Wars game, at least for the time being. We ended at a good breaking point, with our heroes escaping from Alderaan as the Death Star destroyed it and broadcasting footage of this act of terror across the galaxy. Sure the Empire initially wanted to be very public with the Death Star, but after its destruction they'd have preferred keeping it hush-hush. It's hard to intimidate the galaxy with a weapon you no longer have. A write-up of the adventure itself will be forthcoming but since we decided to try something else next game (with the option to come back to it at a later point) this is a good time to reflect on our first completed Fate campaign, albeit a short six-session one. I've played and run Fate games in the past but this is the first time we kept on to a conclusion.

To begin, and this is related to the Fate Accelerated variant, the size of the rulebook was quite an adjustment. The rulebook is very short. Now as the folks at Evil Hat have pointed out, Fate Accelerated is not really a separate game from Fate Core. Anything in Fate Core can be used in Fate Accelerated. But I made it a point to keep to just Fate Accelerated. I found myself as a result making an awful lot of stuff up on the fly. The rules of Fate Accelerated provide a framework, they don't come close to covering every possible situation - nor do they even attempt to. An example of needing to make things up was the need to make up my own starship combat rules. We got to try them out last night and they worked rather well. There's certainly many other ways starship combat could have been realized, but the rules we used definitely worked.

One thing that required a bit of adjustment was the realization you could do anything but you needed to use common sense. There are no rules for weapon damage in Fate Accelerated. You simply take an Attack action to attempt to hit a foe. However, common sense became important. If, for example, you've no ranged weapon, you simply can't attack a foe some four meters away without closing. This also makes created aspects more than just something that can be invoked - one must remember they are also true. For example, if you have a disarmed Aspect after a Sith Lord Created an Advantage against you, it isn't just something that can be invoked against you. Also, you can't do anything that would require your weapon. You'd need to Overcome that Aspect to get your weapon back. It might be a trivial action if no one is trying to stop you from picking up your weapon. On the other hand, if you are in a large barroom brawl, getting your weapon back might be quite tough.

This all required a fair amount of discussion at our (virtual) table as we decided what made the most sense. It was actually a fun part of the game as we discussed various options.

If I were done it again I'd probably have done something like the Dresden Files Accelerated (DFA) mantles - essentially, templates that have their own set of stunts (and unique stress tracks, though I don't think I'd have needed that for Star Wars). I found that, especially early on, things felt a little too open-ended as we felt our way around. One of the things I like about DFA is that those mantles help provide direction without putting a large crimp on creativity.

We also neglected character advancement for the most part. I'd long been worried that advancement was too rapid in Fate Accelerated which makes this doubly ironic. That said, doing it again I'd probably have pushed for more focus on advancement. When we ended the characters didn't yet have their full allotment of Aspects and Stunts, something I'd like to remedy in the future. I think after each adventure it'd make sense to discuss if any new Aspects are appropriate, if any should probably go away, etc.

For the most part I think it was fun. I'm not 100% what we're going to play next. Most likely it will be Dresden Files Accelerated, something I've been wanting to play for ages and something that would allow us to take advantage of what we've learned in this game. There's also the possibility of some Call of Cthulhu or perhaps a Gumshoe game like Trail of Cthulhu or Timewatch. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

FAE Star Wars Actual Play: Operation Shadowstrike

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 01:43

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....
Star Wars: Tales of Rebellion
Episode III: Operation Shadowstrike

The Rebel operative code-named Prodigal One has crashed in his Y-Wing on the planet NCW-781. This agent had been gathering intelligence information about double-agents embedded within the Rebel Alliance.

Gaven Stark, Marcus Doha, and R2-C4 have been dispatched on a U-Wing fighter to NCW-781 to retrieve Prodigal One's information and, if possible, the agent as well. While the Alliance has managed to distract an imperial Strike cruiser into leaving the system, elite Imperial Deathtroopers are searching for Prodigal One.

To evade detection as long as possible, the team must risk a high-altitude drop and fly to the surface in stealth-enhanced combat paragliders...

Cast of Characters:

  • R2-C4 - Rogue Imperial assassin droid
  • Gaven Stark - Idealistic former Imperial army officer
  • Marcus Doha - Veteran Clone Trooper who has lived an active life since the Clone Wars
Based on the adventure "Operation: Shadowstrike" by Eric S. Trautmann in Star Wars Instant Adventures. Note that this is a bit of a brief writeup. A little bit more can be found at Fate Lessons #2 - Tossing Death Troopers off the Cliff.
Scene 1: The DropThe drop was a bit on the hair-raising side what with the air being incredibly thin, a dim moonlight their only light source, and needing to drop several kilometers before the repulsorlift enginges could be engaged - all while evading Imperial sensors. They made it down to their landing point with only a few scrapes and began the several hours walk to the Y-wing's crash site.

Scene 2: DeathtroopersAs they walked between two low cliffs they saw above them a trio of dark-suited Deathtroopers on patrol. R2-C4 continued forward to provide a distraction while Doha circled behind them and Stark attacked from the side. With the advantage of surprise they managed to take out the troopers, though poor C4 got a bit banged up.Scene 3: EscapeThe trio reached the trapped Y-wing and found a message with Prodigal One's location, encrypted with an Alliance code. They found him hiding in some nearby caves and took him to the nearby pickup point just as the sun began rising. However, seeing an Imperial Floating Fortress crashing into the pickup point they sprinted to the alternate point, battling more Deathtroopers and COMPNOR CompForce soldiers. The CompForce soldiers were far easier to deal with, having been trained more in enforcing the ideals of the New Order than in fighting... Banged up, they managed to hold off the Imperials long enough to be picked up by their U-wing and escape back to the Rebel Base on Yavin IV...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Time for the Jedi to End

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 02:19

“Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.”-  Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
It's been a rough journey for Luke Skywalker. He's gone from "I am a Jedi, like my father before me" to "it's time for the Jedi to end".
With The Last Jedi not out for several months I find myself unable to avoid some fanboy speculation regarding Luke's declaration.
It seems unlikely that Luke is totally ending the idea of an order of Force users who protect the galaxy. After all, from the teaser we can see he is training Rey. There's been some speculation that he'll bring balance to the Force by embracing both the Light and Dark Sides of the Force. I think there's something to this, but not in the sense of some order of "Grey Jedi". I'm pretty certain that Luke will remain a good guy - he was tempted by the Dark Side of the Force and survived by learning not to fight. 
Looking at the Jedi Knights it seems they are a flawed organization. They have the best of intentions but I think they live in denial, constantly fighting against fear and anger. Looking at the yin and yang symbol of Taosim, a clear inspiration for the Force, we see balance - there is both light and dark. And in the midst of both there is a small element of the other.

The problem I see with the Jedi is while they aspire to achieve a balance, they seem to do so by too much denial as opposed to managing their emotions. Which I believe makes them susceptible to excesses when they finally act on them. Probably the two best examples of what the Jedi should have been (and what I suspect Luke will try to build) are Qui-Gon in The Phantom Menace and Luke in Return of the Jedi.
Qui-Gon is the only Jedi who was a major character yet never mentioned the Dark Side of the Force.To him it was just the will of the Force. He went where the Force took him. He lived in the moment, doing what he felt was right. 
Luke himself went through a difficult journey in Return of the Jedi. He gave into his anger, nearly letting it consume him. But like the symbol for yin and yang, in the midst of all that anger and hate there was a bit of peace. He saw where that path had taken his father. And he realized there was no course of action he could take. He could not kill his father without giving into the Dark Side. He could not kill the Emperor. So he chose to do nothing, trusting in the Force. He allowed himself to stop worrying about the future - the flaw Yoda had pointed out in The Empire Strikes Back. Doing so nearly killed him but in the end it is what led to the demise of the Sith. This doesn't mean he didn't feel anger or hate - he clearly did. He likely felt fear too - perhaps not fear for his own life, but rather what would happen to the galaxy were he to die in his confrontation. In the end he moved past all of that.
However, too much on the other side could be harmful as well. The Jedi knew this - consider how Anakin's love for his wife had within it the seeds of hate, fear, and jealousy. Luke's love for his sister provoked him into nearly giving into the Dark Side. However, Anakin's love for his son finally allowed him to escape from the Dark Side.
What does Luke need to build? I believe he needs to build an order that does a better job of acknowledging and managing emotions. Love is not always good, fear is not always bad.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How Is Fate Working for Star Wars?

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 13:11

I've had the opportunity to use every official Star Wars RPG out there. I've played all three incarnations of the West End Games Star Wars RPG, all three of the Wizards of the Coast, and an Edge of the Empire Game that borrowed material from Age of Rebellion and Force and Destiny.

I've had fun with all of them and if I were in another group that proposed any of those games I'd be fine playing any of them. It was a bit unusual for me to take a stab at going my own way with a home-brew Star Wars game. I'd thought about using Savage Worlds in the past and did a one-off Wushu Star Wars game once but Fate was a bit out there for me given my earlier experiences with it were a bit so-so - I liked it but I was unable to really grok it.

What I wound up doing was deliberately avoid other adaptations of Star Wars for Fate. Now that I've been playing it for a while I've gotten more comfortable checking out what others had done but I wanted to start as minimalist as possible. We've no Force-users in the group and haven't made use of vehicular combat, though the latter will be changing in next week's game. I'm also pretty certain I'd be able to handle a Jedi or other Force-user pretty easily should we want to add one, but to be honest I've been enjoying the Rogue One feel of a group without Force-users.

What I discovered was Fate Accelerated as written, pretty much did what I wanted it to do. Which was a bit surprising, given how darn short it is. There are two big lessons (and probably lots of smaller ones) we've needed to absorb - and are still getting better at absorbing. The first is in accepting the abstractions of Fate, especially in its accelerated incarnation. A character attacking with a knife can do as much damage as one with a lightsaber. In Rogue One we see a stick used rather effectively against Stormtroopers. I've been fortunate with all the players avoiding min-maxing when it comes to using the various Fate approaches to determine their actions - it's not that they don't look for the best approach they can use, but I've not run into cases of stretched credibility, like a Flash backstab... Similarly, I've seen cases where characters were getting their tails kicked in by a baddie and they survived by forcing him to change his approach.

Second, we've been learning to really pound on Aspects and on creating Advantages. In a lot of games I've played taking a round to get a bonus often isn't worth the effort. However, in Fate it is an essential part of the game. I realized we were beginning to grok the system as the Advantage creations became as common, if not more so, than Attack actions.

I think it's worked rather well for Star Wars, fitting in well with Star Wars being a universe whose heroes and villains are extremely competent individuals who don't depend on their gadgets. In the Geonosis arena, Obi-Wan and Anakin survive without the use of their lightsabers and Luke takes on the Rancor without a weapon at all. When it comes to gadgets, droids like R2-D2 just happen to have what they need.

Have I found the perfect game that I'll play forever more? Almost certainly not - heck I can easily see at some point wanting a crunchier Star Wars game. And there certainly are times I like a bit more of a simulation-style game, with everything broken down. I'm sure there's a Dungeon Crawl Classics or Call of Cthulhu game in out future at some point. If I were to bet, I'd guess our next campaign will be Dresden Files Accelerated, also using Fate Accelerated. That said, even though I've been distracted here and there by shiny stuff, I'm hoping to keep this going a while longer yet.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

First Thoughts on Fate Accelerated Vehicle Combat

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 01:48

One request I've received for our Fate Accelerated Star Wars game is the inclusion of some space battles. I've shied away from them as I got my handle on Fate in general.

As I consider this, my inclination is to stay true to Fate Accelerated and keep things simple. Probably the most important factor in Star Wars vehicle battles is the pilot. Han Solo takes a freighter through an asteroid field that destroys smaller and presumably more agile TIE fighters pursuing him. Anakin Skywalker manages to "land" a battleship that is literally falling apart.

With this in mind, I want to stay clear of giving a vehicle full stats. Rather, I will focus on aspects. If a freighter is clunky, that can be realized via aspects. Consider this possible realization of the Millennium Falcon:

  • Fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy
  • Prone to breakdowns
  • Armed with twin quad lasers and antipersonnel guns
  • Smuggling compartments
This series of aspects would allow the crew to realize most of what we see the Falcon do in the movies. The aspect "fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy" can be invoked to get more speed out of her. The armaments will most commonly be used to establish facts and to enable characters to shoot at other vessels. It could also be invoked to get bonuses when using those weapons. The breakdowns are a bit of a trouble aspect, likely used deliberately by the crew to get some Fate points or by opposition to trigger breakdowns. The hyperdrive problems in Empire Strikes Back are a clear example of this. 
Consider your typical TIE fighter:
  • Fast  Imperial fighter
  • Unshielded and fragile
  • Twin blasters
This opens a few questions as to how one handles stress and consequences. Generally speaking, I don't think I'd give a vehicle in Fate Accelerated stress points - rather I'd have the pilot and possibly the co-pilot use theirs, since they come back after every scene. A possible exception would be when I don't even bother statting out the pilot but rather treat the pilot and vessel as one, something one would likely do for mook vessels. Allowing a co-pilot to give stress points might be too much - it would certainly stretch out battles, but that might desirable in such cases.
I believe I would give ships their own consequences, though only for important ships. Mook ships don't get consequences. However, the definition of a mook ship is pretty flexible. In The Force Awakens, the TIE fighter that Poe and Finn commandeer is no mook ship but were it to be piloted by some unnamed character it would be.
I'd also want to consider how to handle a vessel which appears owing to a player having an aspect for it. For example, Han Solo would likely have "Captain of the Millennium Falcon" as one of his aspects. I lean towards that giving him one free invoke per game session of one of the Falcon's aspects. 
I'm not fully where I want to be but I am getting close. I'm not quite certain how I want to handle copilots and gunners. I might want to think about allowing some ships to have stunts. But I think if I were to need to do a starship battle in a hurry I could. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fiction Review: The Magicians

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 00:43

I first read Lev Grossman's The Magicians when it first came out. I've been on a bit of an urban fantasy kick lately and have begun watching the Syfy series based upon it. I just finished a reread.

Looking at sites like Goodreads and Amazon one discovers opinions on The Magicians are extremely varied. I'm definitely one of the people who greatly enjoyed it but definitely be aware there are people who hate it just as much...

The Magicians takes us through several years of Quentin Coldwater's life. We are introduced to him as a 17-year old high school senior in Brooklyn. He is a super-genius, heading for a likely Ivy League education. He's never particularly happy for long - the television series has him formally diagnosed with depression and having seen enough of it in my life I would agree with that diagnosis. He is a great fan of the "Fillory" series of novels - 1930s novels about a group of British children who find their way into the magical realm of Fillory. These are an obvious and unapologetic expy for CS Lewis' Narnia novels.

Early in the novel, Quentin passes a surprise entrance examination from Brakebills College  for Magical Pedagogy. One of his friends from Brooklyn, Julia, whom he has a crush on, also takes the exam but fails. Those who fail have their memory of the exam wiped and replaced with a convincing alibi. Those students from non-magical family, are given plausible covers, backed by magic, that they are attending an obscure but prestigious college.

Brakebills is a five-year program, with each class made up of twenty students. It is the only such program in North America, though there are others on other continents. Over the course of the novel, Quentin becomes overjoyed that magic is real and he can do it and makes friends at the college and falls in love. However his joy doesn't last - he always becomes discontented. His life after graduation is a bit of a disaster of drinking, drug-use, and partying with other magicians. At the worst point in his life he discovers Fillory is real and is able to travel there.

However, even Fillory doesn't make Quentin happy. The overall theme of the book is Quentin keeps waiting for something to make him happy - but nothing ever will, for the barrier to his happiness is himself. The book itself never discusses depression aside from the dean of Brakebills suggesting he consider therapy, but I think a convincing case could be made for Quentin suffering from some pretty bad depression. Quentin arrives in Fillory and comes to see he's not the heroic figure he always imagined himself as - he's the person who could waste his life, betray his girlfriend, and make mistakes that get people killed.

Probably as a result of me being much like Quentin, longing for Narnia or the chance to be a Jedi Knight, the novel really spoke to me. The discontentment he often felt reminded me of myself in college - if only something would make me happy. If I could get a girlfriend, get good grades, get a good job, have something wonderful happen to me that would change everything...

The magical world presented is both wonderful and dark. More than one character opines that magicians get their power from their unhappiness, their discontentment with reality as it is. But what does a magician do after graduation? Whatever they want - but often it sends them plunging into unhappiness as they can't figure out what it is they want and they look in vain for meaning in their lives. Quentin's girlfriend's parents are magicians and are utterly miserable. However, there are other moments filled with joy, learning they can reshape reality. But it is dangerous - a magical prank leads to the death of one character in Quentin's first year and we learn of a tragic relationship which led to the apparent death of one student, another resigning, and a professor leaving the campus.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

What's Distracting Me in RPGs - April 2017 Edition

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 01:37

The good news is I'm still giving thought to the current Fate Accelerated Star Wars game. May 4th is close and it'd be a massive shame to not be playing Star Wars close to it. I'm thinking of ways to tie into Rogue One, perhaps having the characters be meeting with Bail Organa as he readies Alderaan for war, only to find themselves on the run from a space station the size of a small moon... To be honest, I've still a number of ideas and there's a request for some space battles in the game (which I've shied away from thus far).

We did take a break for this week's session - having just come back from Disney World there was no way I'd be prepped so a member of the group ran a session of No Country For Old Kobolds. I'm pleased to say my first Kobold, LeFou Gaston, died a heroic death, killing two flying turtles after being launched from a giant spork (alas he and the second flying turtle mainly died from falling...)

I've been digesting Dresden Files Accelerated - our Star Wars game has really made me appreciate what can be done with Fate Accelerated and if I were to bet on our next game, this is high up there. I've also been rereading Lev Grossman's Magicians novels and been watching the tv series based on them.

For whatever reason I've been thinking about westerns lately - most notably, Kenzer and Co.'s Aces & Eights, for which they are doing a Kickstarter for a 2nd edition. The 1st edition is a gorgeous game, albeit one I've never had the chance to play but would like to. It is extremely crunchy, though in a way I like and fitting well with the genre. For example, combat is broken down into units of a tenth of a second, making decisions like whether to fire off a quick but inaccurate shot vs. taking longer to aim critical.

I've also been thinking about Lankhmar-style games - I'm rather looking forward to the Dungeon Crawl Classics release of it but that is over a year away.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Back From Disney

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 00:52

There was a bit of a delay in my normal update cadence due to the family vacationing in Walt Disney World in Orlando. Alas, it is time to come back to the real world - especially as such vacations seem to directly attach themselves to one's finances...

I know a number of people aren't big fans of Disney World as it isn't "real". I can absolutely understand that criticism, though I suppose the escape from reality is much of the appeal we find in the trip. According to my handy Gear S3 watch we walked a few gazillion miles and despite eating rather well I seem to have dropped a few pounds (albeit with a number of pounds to go).

As a gamer, I find lots of shiny stuff when I go on vacations - visiting Colonial Williamsburg, for example, gives me all sorts of ideas for games set around the American Revolution. One thing that Disney World does is present illusions. Walking through Star Tours and one feels one is preparing to board a Star Wars spaceship. Daughter Jasmine and I waited to meet with Kylo Ren and Chewbacca - Kylo was surprisingly intimidating.

A visit to Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom provides the feel of a future as was seen in the earlier years of science fiction - EE Smith's Lensman characters would feel quite at home with the aesthetic found there.

The Frontierland and Adventureland areas of Magic Kingdom also provide inspirations - from Pirates of the Caribbean for the Golden Age of Piracy to the Old West feel of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Animal Kingdom has the feel of 1920s and 1930s pulp adventures -from the Everest Expedition roller coaster (where I think my youngest was trying to kill me...) with its yeti to the feel of adventures in the wild in Kilimanjaro Safaris to time traveling to meet dinosaurs...

Obviously we didn't make the trip for gaming inspirations - it was a great time away from the "real world" with family - a chance to be goofy - and a chance to meet with Goofy...

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fate Lessons #2 - Tossing Death Troopers off the Cliff

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 02:07

In this week's Star Wars adventure, our heroes were on a mission to extract a Rebel agent who had crashed on a planet and was being pursued by the Evil Galactic Empire. It's based on the old West End Games' Stat Wars adventure "Operation: Shadowstrike" contained within Instant Adventures.

My previous post on lessons I've learned in GM-ing Fate was rather popular and I found the exercise useful for myself as well so I'm continuing that idea here.

I've had some discussions on the use of sticky notes and marking up of the map. There's one reason I do that - if not I doubt we'd be doing much with Aspects. Most of us having been gaming for a long time and are got our start with more "traditional" games. As a result, it's likely we'd totally forget what Aspects were in play - it's something I ran into playing Atomic Robo a few years back.

One encounter in our adventure wound up having a nice combination of environmental Aspects as well as created Advantages. Walking through woods our heroes spotted some Imperial death troopers before they themselves were spotted. This saw a variety of Aspects getting created by the PCs - for example, the assassin droid did not hide but rather strolled down the canyon between two low cliffs, getting the attention of one of the troopers - and creating the Aspect "droid distraction" with a free invoke.

A former clone trooper, Doha, attacked from ambush, with the Aspect "never see it coming". A former Imperial officer, Stark, took advantage of the droid distraction to slug a death trooper with a baton from behind. Seeing that he was one point of damage short of totally taking the trooper out in one hit, he spent a Fate point to invoke the Aspect "steep drop" so that the attack knocked the trooper off the cliff, the combination of the blow and killing him. Stark had intended from the start to send the trooper off the cliff - spending the Fate point added the bonus damage that resulted from this maneuver.

We definitely got a bit more traction out of environmental Aspects this adventure, something I had been hoping for. Next adventure I want to focus a bit more on Aspects being used to compel actions. We also saw how while players do get a fair amount of narrative control, danger still exists, with R2-C4 being forced to take some consequences in the battle with the death troopers.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fiction Review: It

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 02:00

He touches his wife’s smooth back as she sleeps her warm sleep and dreams her own dreams; he thinks that it is good to be a child, but it is also good to be grownup and able to consider the mystery of childhood . . . its beliefs and desires.  - Stephen King, ItIt defeated me the first time I attempted to read it. I was introduced to Stephen King by a classmate in, if I recall correctly, in my junior year of high school. I borrowed a number of her copies and acquired my own from the local Waldenbooks. For whatever reason, I was never quite able to finish It. I made it through many of his books (The Gunslinger and The Stand were my favorites at the time) but It was a bit too much.

Fast forward to 2011 and I finally got around to completing It, reading it in audiobook form. What's really odd is what a gap was. My recollection is I tried reading It in 1989 or so, so it was about 22 years later. It itself takes place in two time periods, 1958 and 1985, with the 11-year olds of the 1958 period now 38-years old. Similarly the 17-year old I was when I first attempted the novel was then a 39-year old.

I reflect on this because so much of It is not about the horror that plagues the Maine town of Derry. Rather it is about growing up and what we lose - and what we gain in so doing. It is about the horror of falling out of touch with the friends who meant the world to you once upon a time. The girl or boy you were madly in love with. The bike you absolutely had to have. What terrified you as a child. What you dreamed of. It's hard for me to read It without thinking of the child I once was.

The protagonists of It are "the Losers' Club", a group of seven kids who come together in summer of 1958. Pretty much every childhood outcast is there in the group. You've got their leader Bill, who has a stutter that worsened after his brother was killed by It. Ben, the clever fat kid. Richie, the geeky wise-cracker. Beverly, the only girl in the group, poor and having a physically abusive father. Mike, the only black kid in the group - in a town where his family are the only African-Americans around. Stan, the Jewish kid of the group. And Eddie, whose mother inflicts upon him a variety of phantom illnesses. 
The monster of the story is simply "It" - a creature that can take the form of whatever one fears. It lives off of fear and prefers children. The Losers' Club defeats It in 1958 - this is no spoiler, as a large part of the plot is them reassembling in 1985 upon learning that It has survived and returned. However, all of them save Mike initially have no recollection of what happened back in 1958 - or even of each other for that matter. Though they were the best of friends, they had literally forgotten each other by adulthood. Mike remembered as he stayed in Darry - serving as the "lighthouse keeper". Those who left Derry all became fantastically successful. Some are happy - Bill for example is a successful fiction and movie writer, married to an actress. Others have repeated mistakes of their childhoods - Beverly married an abusive man and Eddie is married to a mirror image of his mother. 
As the Losers' Club comes back together, its members begin remembering what had happened to them back in 1958 - and they begin to realize that whatever magic they had back in 1958 as kids will need to be recaptured by these adults. Can they do that? 
For me, the conflict with It is an awesome part of the book but not the best part of it. Rather, I was totally taken by the examination of the magic of childhood, how we leave that behind as we grow up, and the need to keep some part of it alive. But adulthood isn't bad - for you can truly come to appreciate your childhood from the lens of adulthood. 
King has always had a talent at creating great characters and those of It are among those that I find myself wondering what they are now up to as senior citizens. I'm looking forward to the upcoming film adaptation, which is splitting it into two movies, covering the Losers' Club as kids and adults (and moving the past period to the 1980s so the contemporary period can be in the present day). One unfortunate effect of doing this will be making the story linear whereas a large part of the book is about the adults slowly piecing their childhood memories back together. It's an understandable decision, but likely one of unfortunate necessity.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Some Lessons From a Semi-Successful Fate GM

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 02:19

While I'm still quite a ways away from achieving Fate system mastery, I'm definitely getting the hang of it - so much so that it's making me resist the shiny call of trying some other games (though now that I think of it, I could do Dresden Files Accelerated).
Looking at the map from a recent game the first thing I'd say I've learned is it is vital that everyone know the Aspects that are currently in play. Even though I play using a virtual tabletop in Roll20, I've gotten into the habit of using sticky notes to list the aspects of all of the NPCs as well as writing down the environmental aspects. One thing that's been challenging for me mentally is including aspects that the characters do not know about - the players still know about them. Now, if they want their characters to be able to get a free usage out of them they'll need to have their characters perform an action to "discover" that aspect. 
I've also learned to be cautious about overpowering the opposition. Initially I'd tended to make an NPC have the same number of consequences and stress boxes as PCs. I've learned that that model works best if an NPC will appear in multiple scenes. If an NPC appears only in one scene and he or she is statted out as if the equivalent of a PC then the battle will take quite long with the NPC having a large reserve of consequences and stress to draw from - for just that scene. On the other hand, PCs consequences often appear in multiple scenes.
Just like any other game, it is easy to get caught into a cycle of attack-defend-attack-defend. A good model of avoiding this can be found in the Star Wars film Attack of the Clones -  when Jango Fett and Obi-Wan battled, it was an evenly matched fight despite Jango having no Force powers. He managed to disarm Obi-Wan early in the fight (creating a disarmed Aspect which prevented Obi-Wan from making lightsaber attacks until he could overcome it which Jango made difficult). The key here was Jango knew Obi-Wan's best attack modes and did everything he could to prevent Obi-Wan from being able to justify using them.
One area I still have a challenge in is in making use of environmental aspects such as rough terrain, fires, etc. I'll attempt to have NPCs leverage such aspects in our next adventure.

Map Credit: Miska Fredman. Go check out his Patreon - his maps are first rate and well worth supporting.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Old School Stuff That Bugged Me Back in the Day

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 01:48

DM: "Black Dougal, you find out that you missed a tiny discolored needle in the latch. Roll a saving throw vs. Poison, please!" Dougal (rolling): "Missed it!" DM: "Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead." Fredrik: "I'm grabbing his pack to carry treasure in." Rebecca: "I'm giving Black Dougal the last rites of my church."- D&D Basic Rules, 1981, p. B59.
As an older gamer, I tend to like a lot of aspects of the Old School Renaissance. As I began having children, discovered that spending a lot of time balancing encounters, making sure I gave out just the right amount of treasure, calculated stats properly, etc. was not how I wanted to spend my time. Indeed, I often didn't have the time. It really made me appreciate many of the tropes from the beginning of the RPG hobby. That's not to say I don't enjoy new-fangled stuff. I'm enjoying running a Fate Accelerated Star Wars game, I played an Urban Shadows one-shot last year that was great fun, and I'll likely be playing in a No Country For Old Kobolds adventure in the near future.

In this post, I'll be discussing some of the things about old school gaming that I didn't like - back when it wasn't old school but the current thing. Some of these things actually have been improved in newer incarnations of D&D - and are absolutely available for porting back. Not all of this is exclusive to D&D and related games mind you, though much of it is.

Probably the greatest sin in old school gaming products was in organization. In those old gaming books it was sometimes a nightmare to find a rule. To this day I'm a bit unclear on what a "freely improvable skill" in Aftermath! really means. Similarly it was years until I finally understood what the speed factor of a weapon was. This is something that retroclones often address - for example Swords & Wizardry and Lamentations of the Flame Princess are far better organized than older versions of D&D - though as a result it is easy to miss porting certain rules found in the original game.

Another peeve was starting characters that were ineffective. For example, the D&D thief has starting skills so low so as to be a likely death sentence - consider the fate of poor Black Dougal in the magenta D&D Basic Rules. He fails at his attempt to find a trap (10% at first level) and therefore suffers death. Similarly, magic-users wandered around with their one spell and otherwise uselessness. These are all things I've house-ruled - and aren't particularly difficult to house-rule. For example, one can make it reasonably easy for magic-users to produce spell scrolls and one can give some relief to the thief's all-or-nothing nature.
On the other end of the spectrum, there was the possibility of a character getting too competent. For example, upon reaching around 10th level, a cleric can destroy pretty much any undead he or she meet without making a single roll. Similarly, such a character's saving throws and attack rolls often get extremely good. Again, there are often reasonable solutions to these problems. For example, intelligent undead can always be granted a saving throw or a cleric can be denied the ability to automatically destroy undead, perhaps turning into a damaging smite. Lamentations of the Flame Princess made turning occupy a spell slot. Attack roll inflation is often reduced in modern clones, with their emphasis on "high level" being around 10th level.

None of this should be taken as an indictment on old school gaming. As I've discussed, often issues can be easily house-ruled - and house-ruling in older games is far easier than doing so in newer ones.

PS - The true tragedy of Black Dougal is they never actually make certain he's dead - no time to mourn, grab his pack and give him last rites. Poor guy!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Thinking About Time Travel RPGs

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 02:09

It occurs to me that one of the genres I've not gamed in for years is that of time travel. I'm pretty certain I've had the occasional time travel adventure but I'm thinking more a game dedicated around time travel. I had a Star Trek game about a starship that bounced from one parallel universe to another that was rather fun, but that was in the late 1990s/early 2000s - nothing since then as far as I can recall.

That's a bit surprising, as I love both the time travel genre and history in general. I think one of the things that makes it challenging is how to handle such things as paradox. The game I'm most familiar with as far as handling situations like this is Pelgrane Press' Timewatch which makes paradox a gameable mechanic. It's in your best interests to avoid outright paradox while dancing around it. For example, if your characters were to be imprisoned, it would be quite the paradox to have your characters just vanish from their prison cell. On the other hand, if your characters were to happen to find a key that been hidden by your future selves... Well, still a paradox perhaps, but not as bad.

Doctor Who is a bit less concerned with complexities such as paradox, with the show itself less than consistent about what they involve. The modern show has been a bit more consistent than it had been in its original incarnation, embracing the idea of a "fixed point in time" - something even a Time Lord would be unable to change - though not for the Doctor's occasional attempts, such as seen in The Waters of Mars.

Timemaster from the 1980s is a clear ancestor of games like Timewatch, featuring PCs whose mission it is to preserve the timeline - as well as, if memory serves, parallel Earths' timelines as well. Though it has been ages since I read through it.

Were I to do a time travel game today I would probably discuss with my group what they were looking for - if they were more interested in the adventure aspect Doctor Who might be more appealing whereas a game which embaced things like paradox would steer me towards something like Timewatch...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

FAE Star Wars Actual Play: Gallisport Recruitment

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:49

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....
Star Wars: Tales of Rebellion
Episode II: Gallisport Recruitment

Having captured the Clone Wars-era shipyard of Admiral Bayran, the Rebellion is searching for a worthy person to convert the Separatist yard to production of Rebel craft.

Reviewing intelligence data with their sponsor Bail Organa on Alderaan, our freedom fighters discover that the woman they want may be in the system they just departed - in the city of Gallisport on Shesharile 5. There, Rayne Toruna, an aging Twi'lek engineer, leads a swoop gang known as the Mynocks.

During the Clone Wars, Toruna was one of Kuat Drive Yards lead engineers, having created the Delta-7 and A-Wing fighters. She left KDY after seeing what the Empire was using her creations for. If Toruna could be persuaded to join the Rebellion, the Separatist Shipyard could soon be producing fighters for the Rebellion against the Evil Galactic Empire...

Cast of Characters:

  • R2-C4 - Rogue Imperial assassin droid
  • Gaven Stark - Idealistic former Imperial army officer
  • Marcus Doha - Veteran Clone Trooper who has lived an active life since the Clone Wars

Scene 1: Gallisport ArrivalOur heroes arrived on Gallisport in a modified Firespray-31 patrol ship, the Unseen Servant. Gallisport was not much of a port these days, with its population half of what it once was during the industrial boom years before the Clone Wars. It now had next to no Imperial presence, with the Imperial Star Destroyer Magistratus having recently been destroyed - but not before most Imperial personnel had been evacuated, in preparation for a brutal bombardment that hadn't happened. The population was nervous while waiting to see if another Star Destroyer would complete this mission.
Doha took his granddaughter with him, not wanting to leave her aboard their ship. This proved to not much safer, as their droid taxi was visited by members of one of the Mynock's rival swoop gangs, the Spiders, who attempted to collect a "toll". However, Doha recognized the poor upkeep of their swoops and convinced their leader, the cybog Zaran, they were too dangerous prey - and pointed out to them a relatively unprotected Imperial shipment that had landed shortly after they had.Scene 2: The Mynock BarOur heroes were able to find Rayne Toruna at the Mynock's Bar. She proved willing to strike a blow against the Empire, though she insisted they do something for her first. Her lieutenant, Mara Berus, had been captured trying to infiltrate the Imperial Communications and Records Tower on the outskirts of the city. The rest of the Imperial garrison had been abandoned but this tower still was occupied and she was being held at a detention block in its basement. Berus was trying to determine if the Magistratus' plans for bombardment had been ordered by the Empire or if they had been acting on their own initiative. Toruna needed that information and her lieutenant liberated.
Scene 3: The Comm TowerThough part of a garrison, the Communications and Records Tower was now largely isolated, with much of the garrison bombed and burned. Doha scaled it, climbing to the top level walkway while R2-C4 and Stark made use of jetpacks and similar accouterments. Doha was a bit more merciful in his taking out of Imperial troopers, though they did manage to retrieve the needed information - the captain of the Magistratus had been operating on his own initiative, trying to convince Governor Tarkin of how impressive he could be... 
C4 attempted to bring up the lift, an effort that did not go well, given much of its astromech circuitry had replaced by assassination protocols. With an alarm blaring, it sent a grenade down the lift shaft, destroying the stormtrooper team headed up to deal with them.
The detention block in the basement (reached by climbing down the smoking shaft) proved a dangerous destination - though they made it through a pair of bored guards who barely flinched at another explosion, beyond were well-organized stormtroopers commanded by Major Tallus, an Imperial officer who Stark had once had brought up on charges of accepting bribes - and in so doing, sabotaging his career.
R2-C4 filled the room with smoke, providing cover and the heroes made fairly short work of the stormtroopers. Tallus, a master with the force pike, proved a more difficult challenge. Though they were eventually victorious, they were quite bloodied, with Stark emerging with a shattered nose. Tallus being unconscious but not dead, they took him prisoner as they rescued Berus.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs