Monday, 25 February 2013

Mech RPGs

Yesterday afternoon I watched the second Evangelion Rebuild movie (micro-review: I liked it, I didn't understand all of it necessarily, but I liked it) and it got me wondering over on G+ - "are there any good giant mech defending the world RPGs?"

By this morning there were nearly 70 comments and it seems that noisms is going to hack his G+ Pendragon campaign to feature giant robots in a star-spanning feudal future. Yay for asking simple questions.

Meanwhile, I'm still thinking about giant robots saving the world. I have a couple of days of holiday this week, and in between enjoying cafes, reading some fiction and going on a couple of long walks, I think I want to noodle out some giant mech thoughts. Because why not, eh?

Mechanics light on the crunch, hopefully not too heavy on the teenage moping (I'm looking at you again Evangelion). One thought that did come to mind would be to use something of the Dogs in the Vineyard style and attach dice to character traits and mech ability... But that's just a first thought. I don't want 800 different options for mech heads combined with 2000 more different kinds of light railgun. We'll see.

CthulhuTech was suggested to me so I'm checking it out!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Actual Play: Somewhere South

Last night Patrick and I were the only ones available for games night. After a quick discussion we decided to play something as a bit of a oneshot, and so I used Tales of the Scarecrow as a starting point for an evening's adventure...

Patrick quickly rolled up a party for himself; while he generated four sets of stats, I used Vornheim NPC tables to create some people to populate the world, and pulled some names out of the air ("Usher Beak, who is a herbalist, has asked you to take a chest to a friend of his in the nearby city of Wetham; you've been on the road a day..."). Patrick used Vornheim to name all of his characters - including pulling the detail that Vaskin, his fighter, was in fact two goblins standing on shoulders. Awesome.

But I'll try to keep as many details out as possible.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Future Spending Spree

Some day soon, the stars will align. On that day I won't have to think about saving for house-moving, or be immediately wondering about how to fund some crazy work idea. On that day I will be free to go wild and buy games! And when I do, these are the ones at the top of my list...

Hot War (link)
This looks interesting. An alternate 1960s, the cold war has gone nuclear - and then things went bad... I love the vibe of the description, and the illustration and design in the preview. Something sinister in 1960s London gives me a hundred ideas all at once for setting and plot hooks.

3:16 (link)
The reviews at DriveThruRPG say it all really. After playing Diaspora a little, I would love to play a sci-fi game, and 3:16 looks like it would comfortably fit the bill. David W, one of the players in our group, has mentioned running something sci-fi, possibly Traveller. Maybe once we reach a suitable pause point with Somewhere North we will head for the stars...

Weird New World (link)
I've only read the description, but from that it sounds like this might give me some neat ideas for what lies beyond the mountains in Somewhere North. The hidden valley of the halflings is not simply going to be ten miles past the mountains. There are Drazils to be sure, but what else is there? Maybe Weird New World can help to fill in some of the blanks.

Tower of the Stargazer (link)
Several things attract me to this pdf; first there is the price, you can't go wrong for a couple of euros. Second is that it is more LotFP goodness, and I'm quite hooked on that at the moment. More importantly, there is the inclusion of the following phrase in the description: "Tower of the Stargazer is a specially designed introductory module with material specifically for beginning Referees, with notes detailing not only what is included in the adventure, but why." I'm really enjoying writing stuff at the moment for the campaign I'm running, but am also wondering if the stuff that I am writing is only usable by me (because I know my own shorthand, I know what I might do with a prompt - would someone else? etc). Seeing some discussion on that might be helpful - especially if I decide to do something with these materials later.

Death Frost Doom (link)
I've read lots of bits and pieces about this, and everything I've read about it leads me to think that it's near a small village, about fifty miles from the city of Zelman in Somewhere North, on the road between the Bridge and the city. I think that on the long road between the Bridge and the city the players might find cause to stop there and to wonder whether they have what it takes to go near the church in search of treasure...

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Somewhere North: Shaggy Pigs

Shaggy Pigs are huge wild boar-like creatures that roam the northern winterlands. An adult can grow to seven feet in length, has great tusks and thick carpets of hair covering it. The most distinctive feature of the Shaggy Pig are the two sets of hind legs that it has, which allow it to run at quick speeds over icy and snowy terrain; it runs with an unusual gait and can keep a pace for many miles.

In the wild they run in packs and are omnivorous, instinctively burrowing for exotic, nourishing tubers and then chasing down wild deer – and whatever else they can find. Shaggy Pigs have been semi-domesticated by Pugs. They use them to pull their sleds, and are known to be used as battle-mounts by pairs of Pugs, who will ride with slings and short swords.

Shaggy Pig
AC as leather armour and shield, 4HD. They attack anything that looks tasty by running in and trying to gore it to death with long tusks (d8 damage). In the wild they run in packs of 4+d6 pigs; young swine are not normally found in the wild, as they are kept in a sty by the pack. Shaggy Pigs are fiercely territorial and belligerent.

If tracked to a regular feeding area, adventurers might be able to find some of the strange tubers that they dig for. Shaggy Pigs uproot them for sustenance, however they have a strange effect on non-pigs...

If eating a tuber found by a Shaggy Pig, roll 2d6:

2-3: Makes the eater appear two years younger (takes 5 minutes; permanent effect). 8: Eaten raw, mild poison; cooked CON +1.
4: As Cure Light Wounds. Mild poison if eaten more than three times (CON check or lose 2 CON for 2d8 days; if make check, 1 CON penalty for d4 days). 9: Nose grows an inch. Improved Bushcraft by 1.
5: Causes ESP effects for 8d6 hours. After a day, save vs magic every hour or collapse until effects wear off. 10: Skin emits a foul odour for d8 weeks. Soap and perfume won't cover it.
6: Resist Cold for a week. 11: Gives excellent nightvision.
7: Save vs poison. Fail and canine teeth grow d2 inches. (permanent) 12: The next time the eater sleeps they age 10 years (permanent effect).

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Somewhere North: A Guardian

The now-extinct northern Dwarves were not natural magic users, but they were very capable in crafting magical effects from various rare ores. This extended to giving life to various pseudo-mechanical creatures and beings, and even to giving life to assemblies of flesh. An unhealthy competition arose between various lords as to who could create the most dangerous guardian for their palace or home. One of the most feared, by legend, was the Guardian of the Palace of the Perfect Moon.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Actual Play: Somewhere North, session 8

Previously: Kulk and Joonas arrived at the Palace of the Perfect Moon, a minor underground castle of the Dwarven Lord Strangeli. They investigated a few areas, finding magical darkness (that temporarily blinded Kulk), skeletons and giant mechanical spiders. They sustained a few injuries, but mostly did will with just finding treasure. Resolving to delve deeper into the lower levels, they venture into the palace again...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Somewhere North: Pugs

Pugs are curious things. They are like twisted up halflings, typically short but with proportional limbs. Their faces are difficult to read, as they seem to be permanently screwed-up into disgusted expressions. A pug has floppy dog/rabbit ears jutting out from the sides of its head. Pugs wear furs and skins to keep warm and are moderately intelligent. They construct wooden buildings and are great, natural carpenters.

However they much prefer to take what they can find.

Pugs will settle in any building that they can find to ward against the cold. Out of the mountains and in the south they roam around in small bands and try to stay hidden, sneaking into villages and taking animals – even small children – for food. These small groups are outliers. Further north they teem through the mountains, whole warbands serving under Pug Warlords. Their spiritual leaders sacrifice the impure and the un-pug to draw life and power for greater and more terrible actions. It is rumoured that some of them worship Drazils and Greater Drazils, and make offerings to bring the Final Winter.

Pugs hate halflings and Dwarves. They have never been as far north as the halfling valleys (no-one has, the way is hidden) but they have taken control of some Dwarven buildings and former outposts. It is rumoured that they have found their way in to the Kingdom, but who can say for sure? It is so long since anyone has been to the Kingdom...

They are fearful of the Bridge, and will only cross it under duress or threat from a Warlord.

Around 10% of Pugs can understand human speech.

2/3HD. No armour or leather armour. Will be armed with one of the following: short sword, sling, dagger, club.

Pug Cleric
2/3HD. Leather armour and wielding a carved staff. The staff is a little awkward and big for combat (-1 to hit). A typical cleric will have two 1st level spells.

Pug Warlord
4/5HD. Warlords and their sons are big for Pugs, and can be anything up to four-and-a-half feet in height. They wear inherited chainmail and will usually wield two-handed axes or clubs to show their troops that they are tough. They are often pissed off about something.

Encounters with Pugs
When encountering Pugs in the wild, roll d6:

1-2: Small group.
There are 2d4 pugs, a third of them have 3HD. There will be no particular leader, whichever one has the most hit points will be deemed most fit to lead. Barring strange circumstances they'll have 2d20 silver between them.

3-4. Medium group.
There are 6+3d6 pugs, a third have 3HD. One person in the group will be a cleric. 50% of the time there will be a particularly big pug with 4HD, however it will be wearing leather armour and won't be the son of a warlord. A medium group will have 20+d100 silver.

5. Large group.
20+3d10 pugs in the group. A quarter of them have 3HD, including two clerics. The leader of the group will be a warlord's son, 4HD, wearing chainmail and desperate to prove himself. About a quarter in total will be willing to ride shaggy pigs in to battle, trying to sling enemies. In their booty they will be carrying 4d100 silver and 2d6 gold.

6. Warband.
Potentially, a force to be reckoned with. 50+d100 pugs, a quarter with 3HD. There will be a cleric for every twenty pugs (rounded down). The materials and possessions of the band will be carried on carts/sleds pulled by shaggy pigs. Pugs will ride pigs into a fight. The Pug Warlord in charge will have 5HD and will have two sons with him who have 4HD. A pug warband take their spoils with them in chests: 600+2d100 silver and 3d20 gold.

(Pugs have been met several times in my Somewhere North campaign)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Making Things Up

Just bringing together some thoughts on where the setting for Somewhere North is coming from...

It all started with wanting to run something using Lamentations of the Flame Princess. And since it was nearly Christmas, I offered to do a one-shot. I made up an "evil Santa's house" and saw what happened when noisms and Patrick went there. After that they seemed to be enjoying things, so we kept playing. A campaign was born.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Somewhere North: The Vaeltaja

The Vaeltaja are nomads on the snowy plains. They wander on the snow and ice, and settle in their groups for the true winter. Where else is there to go? To the city of Zelman? Ha! They care not for the cities, nor for the towns. If pressed and in need they will go to a village or hamlet to trade, but even these are strange places for some of them.

They know where to fish, where to hunt, where to hide - and they know WHEN to do all of these things too. They travel in large groups, deer and ice ponies pulling great covered sleds - caravans of men, women and children - hunters and fishers, makers and leaders, warriors and mystics. Each large group is one great extended family. Groups meet and trade (resources, rumours) from time to time. Some of them are open to travellers stopping with them, especially if they would brave the snow in true winter.

Nomad Family
There are 10d20 people in a group. Each group will have a patriarch and matriarch and this "first family" has 2+d6 members.
For every 10 people rounded up, one will be a hunter (leather armour, dagger, sword, shield, bow) and will have some responsibility for finding meat. In two-thirds of Vaeltaja families they will have people adept at fishing, and the group will have made camp around a water source. In these cases there will be one fisherman for every 15 people in the family.
There are 2d4 spiritual/clerical people in a group. They will worship either the spirit of the open plain or a particular family spirit.
Many others in the family will be craftsmen, makers, food-gatherers, bards, ostlers and armourers. They share responsibility for the community and while they do have large extended families the "family" is more of a collective than one bonded truly by blood.
Everyone over the age of 4 will carry a weapon of some kind.

What determines the family's outlook? Roll a d12.

1. Family are wary of outsiders. 7. Family speak a bizarre language.
2. Family worship an ancient spirit. 8. Family are well-armed and warriors.
3. Family possess a Dwarven treasure. 9. Family are wealthy.
4. Family rob travellers. 10. Family are keeping a monster.
5. Family have a rivalry with another group. 11. Family are poor scavengers.
6. Family recently suffered an attack on them. 12. Family are at war with a band of pugs.

How is the favourite son of the family known? Roll a d20.

1. Great Axe 6. Pathfinder 11. Firstborn 16. Knifeman
2. Singer 7. Mead-drinker 12. The Runt 17. Spirit-friend
3. Pug-slayer 8. Bastard sword 13. Mutant 18. Monster-slayer
4. One-arm 9. Farseer 14. Wolf-slayer 19. The Fast
5. Fisherman 10. Future-sight 15. Goatherd 20. The Mute

There are 111 people in the Hentunen family, a group known for being well-skilled as warriors. Arto and Liisi are the head people in the group, and they have two young daughters. An organised band of twelve hunters keeps the family in wild deer and shaggy pig flesh, and a small but skilled group of fishermen bore holes in the ice over lakes to find prized fish. Half a dozen clerics worship Kalevi, the protector of travellers. Kimi the Mead-drinker is the favourite son of the clan, known for his exploits in drinking contests.