Saturday, 29 July 2017

Silly Campaigns I'll Probably Never Get to Run: High School Tankery

So it's been more than a week, since my last post.  I've spent most of that time writing, then deleting my next post.  Those of you that have been following this blog, probably know that most of them have been rather serious.  That's what I had been trying to write, another serious post.  The problem was that I'm sick of writing serious posts.  I just don't find them fun to write at the moment.  The blog is called Stories and Other Such Distractions, right?  So why don't I distract myself from serious posts; by writing a silly post?  After I had this little conversation with myself I had the perfect thing to write about.

Essentially the thought process that led up to this post.
So for those of you that aren't aware of the fact.  I'm something of an otaku (that's Japanese for someone who's obsessed with something, when used in English conversation it  usually refers to a fan of anime).  I am also a history buff, one of my specialties being World War 2.  As such one of my guilty pleasure Anime Series is the show Girls und Panzer.  If I'm honest with myself it's a money-grab series.  Regardless the concept is so out of left field as to have grabbed my attention.  Before watching this series I never really had an interest in Tank Warfare.  It just didn't interest me.  After watching Girls und Panzer, a few of Lindybeige's videos on Tanks, Arnold Schwarzenegger's escapades in his M-47 Patton and Extra Credits History's videos on the Battle of Kursk, I've become something of a Tank nut.  Now you may be thinking, why don't I just run a straight World War 2 campaign?  Simply put?  I want this to be more for fun, than for story.  More like Steve Jackson's Car Wars, with tanks, than Fury.  Good clean fun, not a horrifyingly gritty War Story.  It's like playing with your toy trucks, when you were a kid, only a little more structured.

The Campaign (If you can call it that) 

So this campaign would take place in essentially the world that Girls und Panzer, takes place in.  A world where World War Two tank warfare has become a high school sport.  (If it had been offered at my school, I might actually have had an extracurricular, other than theatre on my transcripts).  Why?  Does it really require an explanation?  It's just cool alright.  Two things that I'd change about the setting would be as follows.  
  • The sport (hereon referred to as Tankery) would be uni-sex.  (I found the explanation for why it was all-female in the Anime was unsatisfactory). 
  • The schools aren't on old Aircraft Carriers.  (Again one of those things about the series, that just didn't work for me).
For a system I would either use Mutants and Masterminds (The Mecha and Manga sourcebook as well as the Golden Age sourcebook, would make great resources) or GURPS.  For GURPS I would use a variant of the Armour Crewman Template from GURPS WW2.  Dropping certain skills, advantages and disadvantages, that might be appropriate for a Soldiers, but not for High School athletes.  The Motor Pool sourcebook in particular would be especially useful for such a game.  I would handle tank on tank combat by ruling that any hit that would ordinarily injure the crew.  Would instead just take the tank out of combat (the show hand-waved this away as them using special shells), so no one actually gets injured (except maybe getting knocked unconscious in the most serious cases).

The players would be from a school that's starting out in Tankery.  Equipped with a mishmash of Tanks from various different countries.  (This way the players can choose whatever kind of tank they want to crew).  Each player (hopefully about five total) would be responsible for the creation of a tank's crew.  The one restriction I would put on the selection of tanks would be that they can't be ridiculously rare or overpowered.  (A school just starting out isn't going to be able to get their hands on a Tiger).  

So there you have it a silly campaign that I'll probably never get to run.  Hope you enjoyed reading this, after my long break from writing.  I hope to get back to some more serious posts later on down the line.  Until then, have a nice day and may the dice always be in your favour. 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Masks the New Generation: Character Concepts

Once again I have decided to do some character concepts for another Powered by the Apocalypse game.  This time I decided to take a crack at Magpie Games' game of teenage Superheroes.  Masks the New Generation.  A game meant to portray stories, reminiscent of Young Justice or X-Men Evolution.  The drama that results when you take the angst of being a teenager and then throw in Superpowers.  You can find the play-sheets here.  Without further ado let's jump into our first character concept.

Kensei (The Beacon Playbook)

Real Name: Brandon Williams   

Gender: Man
Ethnicity: Asian or South Asian
Face: Smiling
Clothing: Stylish 
Costume: Gaudy 
Abilities: Swords and Martial Arts

Brandon's playbook is that of a Beacon.  One that doesn't have any particularly extraordinary powers and no real purpose to be a hero.  Other than that it's fun.  In Brandon's case it's all he ever wanted to be.  His grandparents are descendants of a Samurai family that later ran a Kendo school in Japan.  A heritage they later came to be ashamed of once World War Two ended.  With their country in ruin and their livelihood outlawed by the occupying American government.  They cast aside their past and immigrated to Halcyon City and from that point on became obsessed with Americanizing themselves.  They even went so far as to push Brandon's mother into marrying an American.  

They of course didn't count on Brandon learning about his family's past.  Which he discovered when his elementary school assigned a project on family history.  Discovering his family's past awakened something in him, something that he had always been searching for.  A purpose something to dedicate himself, an ideal.  From that moment on he knew that he wanted to become a modern-day samurai.  Somebody dedicated to virtuous warriordom.  (The ideal isn't exactly realistic or historically accurate.  But then again nothing about being a superhero is). 

How did you gain your skills?
Brandon ended up dedicating himself to learning various martial arts after his revelation.   Including Karate, Judo and most importantly Kendo.  He dual-wields, but has no formal training in that style. 

When did you first put on your costume?
Shortly after he finally had all the necessary pieces.  His first time taking it out in public?  On a small-time patrol against a neighbourhood grocery store stickup.

Who, outside of the team, thinks you shouldn't be a superhero?
It would most definitely be his parents and grandparents.  If they knew, they'd be horrified.  Otherwise it could be any number of established heroes who think Brandon's way in over his head.

Why do you try to be a hero? 
Brandon tries to be a hero, because he believes that it brings out the best in him.  It's the same as the samurai ideal, that he idolizes.  He's at his best when he's saving people and fighting evil-doers.  

Why do you care about the team? 
The team is a brotherhood.  A group of likeminded individuals, with similar powers that he can interact with.  He see kindred spirits in them, ones that he could never find anywhere else.  

As you can see Brandon is a little overeager and perhaps naive about this whole hero thing.  Which I think fits perfectly for the Beacon playbook, which is meant to be something of a thrill seeker.  For starting moves I would personally pick Won't Let You Down to reflect his enthusiasm for teamwork.  I would also pick Suck it Domitian to reflect his dedication to the ideals of Bushido.  Later on down the road I could also see him taking No Powers and not nearly enough training.  He also seems to have an affinity for taking moves from the Legacy or Janus playbooks. 
I imagine this is somewhat like what the original design for Kensei's costume looked like.
This was created on Hero Machine 2.5

Myrmidon (The Legacy Playbook)

Real Name: Alexandra Ormond 

Gender: Transgressing
Ethnicity: White 
Clothing: School Uniform
Costume: Traditional 
Insignia: None 
Abilities: Divine Armour, Magic Weaponry, God-Like Beauty (Legacy Powers she doesn't have: mythic might, legendary speed). 

The Legacy is the latest member of a long tradition of a superheroes and Alexandra Ormond is no different.  Her legacy is the hero Myrmidon.  The legacy is passed down through a suit of armour and weapons, that her great great grandfather Aristotle Ormond a British Archaeologist (and contemporary of T.E. Lawrence, though it might be more fitting to call him a grave-robber) found while on a dig near Anatolia while looking for the ruins of Troy.  The armour became part of Aristotle's private collection of artifacts, which followed him to America when he immigrated to Halcyon City after World War 1.  It was eventually inherited by his son Alexander Ormond the First.  Alexander the First discovered the divine power of the collection by accident.  When his home was burglarized by members of the Thule Society in the late 1930s.  He put the Nazi burglars to flight and shortly thereafter took up the persona of Myrmidon!  Fighting against whatever evils plagued the nation, ultimately fighting in costume for the United States when World War 2 rolled around.

Since then there have been two other Myrmidons and two other Alexander Ormonds.  Alexander Ormond the Third was Alexandra's father, who died during the Bronze Age.  Becoming the first Myrmidon in the history of the legacy to fall in battle with the enemy.  Shortly before Alexandra was born.  Refusing to let the legacy die with his only son, Alexander Ormond the Second (still alive but retired from a life of heroism) took it upon himself to train his granddaughter in the ways of combat.  In hopes that the family tradition would never die.

Name the different members of your legacy (at least two):

Alexander Ormond the Second is retired and quite judgemental.  Nothing Alexandra ever does seems to live up to his high expectations.  Besides being a disappointment on account of her sex.  Alexandra has also failed to manifest the signature mythic might and legendary speed of the Myrmidon legacy.  Instead only being able to wear the armour, wield the weapons and having the traditional good looks of the Greek Heroes of old.  Only being able to really look the part, rather than actually playing it.

Ares the God of War is the greatest opponent your legacy has ever faced...and is still at large.  The God of War has been a foe ever since Alexander the First faced him during World War 2.  When the god was revealed to have been supporting Nazi Germany from behind the scenes!  Since then he has been a constant thorn in the side of the Myrmidons.  He was also the one responsible for the death of Alexandra's father!

When did you officially become a part of your legacy?
Despite being trained to fight with spear, sword and shield in full armour since childhood.  The collection's powers only manifested when Alexandra turned fifteen.  The traditional age at which boys in Ancient Greece were considered to be men.  As you can guess this hasn't done much for her self-esteem.

What's the greatest accomplishment of your legacy?
The defeat of Ares during the fall of Berlin in 1945.

How does the public perceive your legacy?
With an attitude akin to "Cerebus the Three-Headed Dog that guards the underworld has been unleashed in the land of the living, somebody get Myrmidon!"  Otherwise they a pretty much left in peace, ignored and only called upon when something requiring their special skills happens.  Kind of like how you only call upon a hero who constantly time-travels when you need something to do with time-travel fixed.

How does you legacy tie into your reasons for being a hero?
It doesn't.  Alexandra was never asked if she wanted to be a hero.  It was just expected of her as a child (note the term) Myrmidon legacy.  It's a burden that was forced upon her from birth, which has brought her nothing but stress, disdain and a gender identity crisis.  If she could walk away from it, she probably would.

Why do you care about the team?
Simply put, because they're the only friends that she has.  Her grandfather never let her have a normal childhood, which includes friends.  They were weaknesses that could be used against her, nosey children that could accidentally uncover the identity of the family.  Unleash unspeakable evils of the Ancient World.  They were never allowed over at the Ormond's Mansion and she was never allowed to leave the house for what her grandfather referred to as "childish games".  He tolerates the team because they are "peers" rather than friends, fellow heroes and potential allies.  For the first time in her life Alexandra has a group of people that can be thought of as friends.  That's why she care's about the team.    

Alexandra is someone who struggles with her identity.  In that she doesn't have one other than what her Legacy tells her it should be.  That's partly why I put her gender as transgressing.  She knows that her grandfather begrudges her being born a girl when all of the Legacy's members have been men.  Yet he has always treated her the same way he might treat a boy.  Making such comments as "Take it like a man" or "You fight like a girl" all of which are comments he frequently makes during daily sparring.  She's not sure what she's supposed to be and has never been given an opportunity to figure it out for herself.  It's part of the reason I think one of her starting moves should be The Legacy Matters.  To reflect the control that her Grandfather has over her.  I also think she should have the move I Know What I Am.  For the one thing that she has clarity in her life about.  She knows that she cares about her teammates, it's one of the only things in her life that feels right and normal.  Later on down the line, I can see her gaining the mythic might and legendary speed as she matures.  Which will be a major milestone for her character.
What the Myrmidon armour and weapons look like in the display case at the Ormond mansion.
Also created with Hero Machine 2.5

Inferno (The Nova Playbook)

Real Name: Dante Torres

Gender: Man
Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino
Skin: Normal
Clothing: Dark
Costume: None
Abilities: Elemental Control (Fire)

Dante's creation owes a lot to the character Warren Peace, from the Disney movie Sky High.  That character's concept always interested me, a teenager that has a mom who's a Super Hero and dad who is a Super Villain.  Dante was the result of my desire to explore this interesting concept.  What happens when a Super Hero and a Super Villain have a child?  What sort of conflict can arise from such a relationship.  I decided early on that Dante is the son of two Bronze age supers.  A superhero that upheld the values of her Silver Age predecessors named Firebird.  His father a former Protege or Beacon type super (who I have not come up with a name for) that slowly became disillusioned with Heroism, slowly sliding into Anti-Hero vigilantism, before finally going full-blown super-villain.  Sort of along the lines of the Red Hood.  I figured that was the only way such a relationship could really result, as people who fall in love tend to share similar ideals (at least at first).  The couple eventually separated (divorced) after Dante's father escaped from a intervention on the part of some of his former super-heroic colleagues.

When did you first use your powers?  Who was the first person you accidentally hurt with your powers?
The answer to these questions is linked.  When Dante was thirteen years old, his Dad showed up after having been missing for almost eight years.  Dante hadn't seen him since he was about five.  He remembered the man who had been his father, had been someone he'd looked up to and been proud of.  So rather than contacting any of his mother's colleagues he went for a walk with his dad.  Just to hear him out.  As the conversation wore on though Dante realized he didn't like what his father had to say.  When dear old dad grabbed him in a fit of rage, that's when it happened.  Dante unleashed a burst of flames that horribly scarred the entire right side of his face.  The enraged Super-Villain fled under a stream of curses, screams of pain and the smell of burning flesh.  That was six years ago.

Who outside the team helps you control your powers?
The answer would be Firebird Dante's mother.  Their powers are almost identical so she is naturally the best candidate when it comes to the technical aspect.  The problem is that Dante is almost as estranged with his mom as he is with his dad.  Talking with her tends to make him angry, which in turn tends to make it harder to control his powers.  The techniques are solid, when he uses them.  It's just that going through the learning process with her infuriates him.

Why do you continue to use your powers?
Honestly if he could he would just shut them off and leave them it at that.  Unfortunately trouble has a way of following Dante wherever he goes.  The kind of trouble that usually requires him to use his powers against it.

Why do you care about the team?
He doesn't, they just keep turning up where he is.  Further dragging him into a world where he doesn't want to be.  I guess deep down despite his reluctance Dante still inherited his parent's desire to see right done in the world.

Now for Dante's demeanour locked down is the obvious choice.  He doesn't like to get close to people, the way he sees it.  Everyone he's ever been close to has ended up hurting him in the end.  First his Mother when she told him that Dad was never coming home.  Then his Dad when he finally did come home.  In terms of Moves Dante can probably choose whatever Flares seem appropriate.  Later on down the line he might want to pick up moves from the Bull and the Delinquent Playbooks.
Warren Peace the inspiration for Dante.
So there you have it three character concepts for Masks a New Generation.  I had a lot of fun writing these and I hope you enjoyed reading them.  Feel free to use these these in your own game if you need inspiration or the like.  Be sure to +1 and Re-share.  Have a good day and may your rolls always be high.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

How I Create Characters For: Cyberpunk 2020

"Let me show you how this thing here works."
For the past few days I've been making some posts over at the Cyberpunk 2020 Google+ Community.  They really got me fired up to write something about Cyberpunk 2020 for the blog.  For a starter I decided I would do something about the house rules I use to create characters for R. Talsorian's game of the dark future.  (This is also the first post where I'll be experimenting with images in my posts).  So without further ado let's jump right into it.

The Lifepath

Now while I love Cyberpunk 2020 to pieces.  One of the things I will fault it on is this.  They put one of the most interesting parts of character creation, the Lifepath in Chapter Three of the book.  When it should be in Chapter Two.  For those of you that don't know what the Lifepath is.  The Lifepath is a series of random rolls or choices that determines your character's background.  To quote from the Core Rulebook "It's like climbing out of the clone vat.  You got this half-formed person standing, dripping with slime.  You got some stats, maybe a vague idea of where you're going with the character, but nothing else.  So how do you take this Blank and make him really Cyberpunk?"  That's what the Lifepath is for, it's meant to give you a character with "Plot Complications" built into them.  That the GM can bring up in gameplay to make the story more interesting.  An incredibly advanced story-telling concept for a RPG that was written in the late 80s to early 90s.  Through the rolls and choices on the various charts in Chapter 3 you create a character's Ethnic Origins, their style of dress, family background (including whether you have some sort of trauma in your past), how old the character is and the life events that shaped them into the Cyber-Criminal they are today (or is it tomorrow?).  When I have players create characters for Cyberpunk games (during a planned Session 0 so the players have some common consensus on what kind of story is being told) I have them roll on the Lifepath first.  I will explain my motivations for doing so further down this page.  I pretty much use the Lifepath as is in the book except for a few changes listed below.  
  1.    I give my players a choice for the number and size of dice they roll to determine their character's age.  They can choose 2d6+16 or 3d10+16.  The first choice is traditional for Cyberpunk characters since they're supposed to die young (Edgerunning is a dangerous business, all you can hope for is to go out in a blaze of glory).  The second option is for players who want to play more experienced, older (and possibly washed up) characters.  Cyberpunk has a lot of genre similarities with Film Noir and characters in such films tend to be older, more cynical, less idealistic (think Deckard in Bladerunner or Armitage in Neuromancer).  
  2. I skip part 3: Motivations (page 36 for those of you following along at home) and come back to it after the Life Events have been rolled.  This is a section where you can choose to roll or choose from the options listed.  Since the Life Events tend to reveal quite a bit about the character's personality.  I decided it's better to just choose Motivations after we know the character's whole life story.  
  3. On the Life Events Table a result of 9-10 yields Nothing Happened That Year.  I have always hated this result, as my players in the past always seemed to roll it multiple times.  Great if you're a player who doesn't want to roll a result of Disaster Strikes!  Not so great if you're a GM that wants grist for the story-mill.  To remedy this I came up with a House Rule (more of those to come, don't worry) if you roll a 9-10, you re-roll twice and the two results are somehow related to each other.  (Example you get Romantic Involvement twice.  Rolling on the appropriate subtables you get Happy love affair and Fast Affairs and Hot Dates.  Looks like you've been having some fun on the side!)  The exception to this rule is once the character reaches 25 years old.  By that points life kind of slows down as the character matures (at least as much as cybernetic street-criminals can) and their wild oats have been sown.  Once that happens the player can choose to forgo the roll twice house rule and keep the result of Nothing Happened that Year.
  4. Speaking of 25 years old, because life starts to slow down, you have to roll less Life Events.  You only roll Life Events once every two years. 
  5. A word on Friends & Enemies, those subtables have players roll to determine the extent of your relationship.  As friends or enemies, one of the parts that precedes that step never quite sat well with me.  They had you roll the friends sex, which depending on the relationship rolled could have you having old lovers of the same sex.  I know it's the twenty-first century, but some players still aren't comfortable roleplaying someone attracted to the same sex.  So in my games I let the players choose, the sex of their character's ex-lovers.  Some will be totally cool with playing bi or homosexual characters, others won't and that's okay.  It's an important part of a GM's job to make sure everyone has a good time and doesn't feel outside of their comfort zone.  That's why this rule exists. 
  6. Speaking of Romantic Involvement I usually interpret a Happy Love Affair as continuing over the course of the years.  Only ending when a Tragic Love Affair is rolled.  Even when a Love Affair with Problems is rolled, that doesn't mean the relationship is entirely over.  Unless the player interprets it as being over based on their interpretation of events rolled.  Love is something that people spend their entire lives searching for.  I personally imagine that the same is true even in the Dark Future of cyberpunk fiction.  It might even be more important than ever, in this cynical future.  Like the comedian George Carlin once said "Behind cynic is a disappointed idealist." love is an ideal that even the most disappointed of idealists might want to hang onto.  
A classic example of a Cyberpunk Couple.

Statting 'em Up

Now that we have an idea of what the character is like, we can get down into the mechanics of character creation.  (I can hear the Min-maxers and Power Gamers salivating already).  Now before you start going wild with spending your Attribute Points, I have to break some bad news to you.   My game usually uses the Ocelot's Alternate Character Generation System.  Under the section on Attributes the author Gary Astleford recommends a pool of 54 points to be spent on Attributes.  For a gritty, down-to-earth feel.  Since at lot of my games tend to be more gutter-punk than corporate mercenaries, it's perfect for my style of campaigns.  You might think that that's the end as far as Attributes are concerned, but there's more.

  1. You remember the Lifepath?  Some results from that can lead to reduced Attributes, make sure to minus the points lost from your Pool of Attribute points.  (Example: Your character picks up a disease or drug addiction.  -1 to Reflex.  Your character gets into an accident and is horribly disfigured.  -5 to Attractiveness.  Your character picks up a mental disorder.  -1 to Cool).  
  2. Did you decide to make a character older than 30 years old?  I got some more bad news for you.  According to Ocelot's Alternate Character Generation System, characters past the age of 30 have to pick a single stat from REF, MA or BODY and roll against it.  Every two years until age 40 when it becomes every year, until the age of 55 when it becomes twice a year.  The character must roll against their unmodified stat (before cyberware, drugs, etc.) if the result is equal or lower, the character loses one point in that stat.  You may not roll against the same stat consecutively, when you reach 1 point in a stat you are crippled, when you reach 0 your character is a corpse.  Tough luck punk. 
  3. I also tend to have players select Mental & Social stats that reflect their Lifepath Results.  According to the essay in Interface Magazine Volume 1, Issue 2.  Characters with low empathy  (about 4 or below) having lots of enemies and failed romances, while characters with high empathy (7 or more) tend to have lots of friends and successful romances.   
  4. One last thing, you no longer put points into Movement Allowance.  It is now determined by adding together Reflex and Body, then dividing them by 2, rounding down.  This house rule is the result of me having players that used Movement Allowance as dump stat.  Resulting in ridiculously slow characters, this rule is mostly a way to save players from their own stupidity (there'll be plenty of time for them screwing themselves over when the game has started, they don't need a head-start). 

Getting Skill-wise 

Now using Ocelot's Alternate Character Generation System (link here if you need a refresher) the characters get the standard pool of 40 skill points.  Pickup skills are determined by the character's age.  For those of you expecting to pick your Role's skill packages now, sorry to be the bearer of more bad news.  The Roles have been thrown out in favour of a GURPS-esque classless system.  That means that most of the Special Ability Skills are out as well.  Including the over-powered Combat Sense (which has been replaced with two separate Advantages, more on that later).  The only Special Ability Skills to remain are those that were irreplaceable.  In this case the Netrunner's Interface skill (which works a little differently) and the MedTech's MedTech skill, they are now ordinary skills that anyone can acquire with Improvement Point multipliers of x3.  Any other variations are listed below. 
  1. Interface is divided into two sets of ten skills, representing the characters ability to perform different hacking.  The full rules of this way of Netrunning can be found at Run.Net 
  2. While the Roles have been done away with, they still make excellent guidelines for players to create their characters from.  Much like how GURPS uses templates to guide it's character creation.  Feel free to take and add whatever skills you think your character would have.  (Within reason.  GMs it's your job to pay attention and moderate your player's skill choices). 
  3. A note on Pickup Skills.  I use the Subordinate Skill Packages from Interface Magazine Volume 1 Issue 2, onward.  I find they're a good way to direct players to pick skills that are consistent with their backgrounds.  
  4. I find that the skill values as listed in the Core Book make good reference points for choosing how many points to put into a particular skill.

Advantages and Disadvantages

So one of the key alterations Ocelot made in his alternate character generation system.  Was the addition of Advantages and Disadvantages along the lines of GURPS.  I largely keep these the same as listed except for a few minor alterations of my own.

  1. I got rid of the Friends Advantage and the Enemies Disadvantage.  Since I made an alteration to the Lifepath system the characters are more likely to get a result of a friend or an enemy.  Making this set, somewhat redundant. 
  2. I also got rid of Cyber-Affinity and Cyber-Rejection.  Since I don't use the Humanity Loss rules as written in the Core Rulebook. More on that later.  
  3. The Favour Advantage is also gone, since it is also an advantage that comes up often in the Lifepath.  
  4. Contacts are also out the window.  Personally I feel that the characters should have contacts equal to whatever their Streetwise Skill is.  At +2 they know people who can get them "hot" items, they can score drugs, etc.  At +5 they know professional gunmen that can be brought in for extra muscle.  Also everyone who has cyberware probably knows someone who installed it or someone that does maintenance.  It is however up to the GM to referee when the players go overboard.  Make sure that the characters aren't abusing this system.  If they treat contacts poorly, have them disappear, refuse to speak to the players, spread bad rumours about them.
  5. If the character has a background where they were members of a Gang, Workgang, Nomad Pack or Pirate Fleet.  I require them to purchase the Brotherhood advantage.  The same goes for if they currently work for a Corporation, they need to put points into the Resources advantage. 

Buying Equipment & Alienation

Now we come to the part of character generation that every player loves.  Buying their characters' equipment.  Pretty much anything goes, but is subject to GM fiat.  Here are my personal rules for the acquiring of equipment. 
  1.  At character creation everything is priced as listed in the book it came from.  There are no modifiers for legality, surgery cost, etc.  
  2. The characters roll yearly for the money they earned and make purchases based on those funds.  The formula for yearly earnings works out roughly like this.  (Two Highest stats added together, then averaged.  The resulting number is highest earnings modifier that the character will ever have.  The player's modifier starts at 1 and goes up by 1 each year.  Until it reaches the highest it can be.  The modifier is multiplied by a roll of 1d10, which is in turn multiplied by 200.  (Example: For your first year you have a modifier of 1.  You get lucky and roll a 10 on the d10 and multiply it by 200, resulting in total earnings of 2000 [Eurodollars, NuYen, whatever you use as currency]).  You either purchase what you can afford to buy that year with that money, pay off any debts from the Lifepath or save your money for a more expensive purchase next year. 
  3. Since one of the main purchases that the characters make before they buy anything else is Cyberware.  I thought it was appropriate to include how I handle humanity loss in the game in the section on Equipment.  I use Richard Balmer's Alienation rules, which I have found to be the best way of tracking Humanity Loss.  Since it encourages roleplaying and doesn't just give the characters a pool of points that slowly, but surely diminishes.  (If that's really how it worked, Cyberware would never have been allowed to be sold on the general market).  You can find those rules by pressing this link.
  4. Once the characters have made all the purchases they wish, any remaining funds go into their Credcard account (or maybe not if they prefer to keep under the radar).  If they have no money left over you may use this optional rule to give them some pocket money.  Roll 1d10 times 20, they now have sufficient money to foot the bill at diner or a shady dive bar.  Better get hustling punks.
Among my player's purchases in a recent character generation for a Solo campaign.
A Mitsubishi Kaneda Motorcycle with cyber-controls.
So there you have it.  How I generate characters for R. Talsorian's classic game of the Dark Future, Cyberpunk 2020.  If there is anything that wasn't clear about this post.  Please don't hesitate to comment.  If you liked this post, be sure to show your support by +1ing and re-sharing it.  As always have a good day and may you roll many crits.  

Friday, 7 July 2017

One-Shots I'll Probably Never Get to Run: The Ghost and the Darkness

Last winter I watched a movie called the Ghost and the Darkness.  Starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas.  I got to thinking about it the other day and I thought "wow this would make a great horror one-shot".  So I've decided to write down some thoughts about how I would "game" the Ghost and the Darkness.  The basic plot of the movie is something like Jaws.  Only instead of a giant man-eating shark haunting the waters of Martha's Vineyard-esque resort town.  You have two large man-eating Tsavo Lion stalking the Hindu workers of an East African railroad camp.

Choosing a System

There are two systems that instantly sprung to mind when I decided I wanted to write a one-shot based on this movie.  Cthulhu by Gaslight and Dread.  Both of these systems are exclusively horror games, which in their own ways do a great job of portraying the horror genre.  Call of Cthulhu uses a sanity mechanic to measure the character's reactions to witnessing horrible sights.  The by Gaslight expansion also covers the era that this game would take place the 1890s.  Dread on the other hand is a largely narrative game that uses a unique mechanic of a Jenga Tower to resolve action.  Anyone who has played the game Jenga will tell you how intense it can sometimes get, when you are playing for keeps.  As the game progresses the stakes get higher and the more likely one of the players will die off, just like in your typical horror movie.  I think both games are valid choices for this one-shot, so I don't think I will be choosing any particular one at this point in time.  

The Set-Up 

The game will have the players taking the roles of members of a railway construction crew.  At the Tsavo River crossing in Kenya.  They have been tasked with building a bridge across the river as part of the Uganda-Mombasa railway being built by the British Empire.  Roles would include the Chief Engineer, the head of the camp's Infirmary, a Missionary, a head of Railroad Security and various Hindi/native labourers.  Shortly after arriving one of the labourers is found dead after being dragged from his tent in the middle of the night.  The characters of course don't witness this.  They just find the remains of the worker outside of the camp the next day.  To set them on the wrong path, I would make the worker that was killed either a foreman or a labourer that had been working for the railroad for some time.  Creating a red herring that maybe the death was the result of foul-play.  A murder made to look like a mauling by a wild animal, so another labourer could steal the wealthy labourer's earnings.  This is what Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson the man who actually shot and killed the Tsavo Man-eaters thought when the initial attacks started.  For extra measure to make the players take the bait, I would have the deadman's earnings disappear from his personal effects (the culprit one of his opportunistic co-workers).

More attacks would soon follow (shortly after the characters concluded their investigation into the matter of the stolen money).  Perhaps with one or more of the characters being among the next victims.  This might be the first time that the characters see one of the lions.  It would be up to the players to figure out a way to deal with this (at the moment) pest.  Normal methods of hunting will result in failure, (using a donkey as bait for example, these lions prefer human flesh) if the characters camp the spot of a recent attack, the lions move onto somewhere new.  Sometimes days, even weeks will pass without there being an attack. 

Absence of a threat won't be enough to quell the worker's fear though.  In real life Patterson's workers all but threatened to kill him on account of the attacks not happening until he showed up at the Tsavo Crossing.  Dealing with worker revolt and desertion will also be a danger unto itself.  It might even be appropriate to have a group of workers kill one of the players, in hopes of appeasing what they perceive as Demons in the form of lions.  One of the stories I've heard is that some of the workers at Tsavo actually believed the lions were really the spirits of two tribal shamans, intent on driving the white man out of Africa.  It's an aspect of the story that I would really love to play up.  As this is a horror game, it might even be true.  The Lion's really could be evil spirits, such a plot wouldn't be out of place in a Call of Cthulhu game.  There was certainly enough things that happened, to fuel these rumours.  At one point Patterson constructed a railcar that he used to trap one of the lions.  In the car was ten Indian Sepoys with rifles, standing behind steel bars to separate themselves from the animal.  They apparently fired at the lion at point-blank range for a rifle.  Unable to hit it as the lion was roaring and trying to attack them through the bars, the noise from their rifles disoriented them.  The car filled with smoke because the guns they used didn't use smokeless gunpowder.  One of the Sepoys ended up going deaf from all the noise.  Eventually one of the bullets hit the gate on the other end of the car and made it possible for the lion to escape.  After such an incident it would be hard not to believe that the animals were ghosts.

In Conclusion

These are just some thoughts on a One-Shot that I'll probably never get to run.  It would have to rely heavily on the players never having seen the Ghost and the Darkness.  As that would ruin the sense of immersion, that is necessary when you want to scare players in a horror scenario.  Also I would try to keep the characters from seeing the lions for as long as I could.  Since a lion in itself is not very terrifying, unless you're standing right in front of one looking to attack you.  If a character is killed while alone I wouldn't describe what kills them, instead I would describe the other characters finding their corpse the next day.  If they find the corpse at all.   So there it is, what do you think?  Be sure to +1, comment and follow.  Have a nice day and enjoy your games.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Campaigns I'll Probably Never Get to Run: Reverse Dungeon

When I was younger I read a series of comics called Dungeon.  Written by French authors Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim, you can buy the books here.  Dungeon was something of a parody of the classic Dungeons and Dragons tropes of dungeon-delving and monster-slaying.  It's primary actors live in the  previously mentioned Dungeon, which is run something like a business.  Adventurers are lured there in hopes that they will bring various trinkets and magic items to add to the ever expanding wealth of the Dungeon.  The cast is essentially the monsters that the players would ordinarily fight.  The Dungeon is any number of mega-dungeons that have been published over the years.  The Caves of Chaos, Castle Ravenloft, the Tomb of Horrors, Undermountain and of course Castle Greyhawk.

Running the Dungeon

My proposal is this.  A campaign where, rather than barging into and looting the dungeon.  You play the monsters that call it home.  The party would be made up of any manner of mismatched, misfit, creatures that the players cared to create.  I mentioned that the comic Dungeon is an inspiration.  I've done some research on the topic of playing Monsters and Villains in D&D.  There is a 2nd Edition module called Reverse Dungeon (where this post takes its name from), the Way of the Wicked adventure path for Pathfinder and Savage Species for D&D Three point Five.  There is also a variant of Dungeon World that has this as the norm.

Potential Plots

  • Protecting the Dungeon from various adventuring parties that come to loot and slay the inhabitants (several plots of the Dungeon Comic revolve around this)
  • Exploring the parts of the Dungeon that are unknown even to its inhabitants (example the Drow  or Illithid City way below the level that the characters currently inhabit)
  • Going on adventures on the surface (linking up with a branch of the Dungeon that you have lost contact with, retrieving a macguffin that is essential to the Dungeon's survival, etc.)
  • Avoiding areas of the Dungeon that are inhabited by monsters more dangerous than the players (a Medusa does nicely for this plot)
Compared to my other campaign pitch this one is a little lacklustre.  Largely on account of it being an incredibly broad topic in comparison to Shanghai 1930.  Yet at the same time be incredibly limited in the scope (a flaw of Dungeon-Delving fantasy in itself, I've found).  This is definitely a campaign where I would have to see what characters the players created before I ran it.  As the plot would largely need to be built around what types of monsters were thrown into the mix.  I hope you've enjoyed my musings on this potential subversion of classic Dungeon Delving.  Have a nice day and may your dice roll true.    

Monday, 3 July 2017

World Wide Wrestling RPG: Character Concepts

Now to start with, I am not a fan of wrestling.  I grew up without cable or satellite as a kid (we watched movies on the VCR).  As a result I never saw wrestling on television.  I grew up to be a nerd in the years leading up to and including High School.  Sports of any kind were out, in terms of watching them, they just didn't interest me.  To this day I don't even get excited when the Olympics are being streamed on Youtube or the like.
So why am I interested in the WWW RPG if I have no interest in Wrestling itself.  It's because Wrestling isn't a sport, it's theatre.  I have a background in theatre and writing, so while I might not be interested in a particular medium.  I am always interested in a well executed story.  The World Wide Wrestling RPG by Nathan D. Paoletta is the the game that taught me that.  You can find the game's website here.  Reading the game as Nathan presents it really sets my blood to boiling.  The same way it boiled when I watched Fury Road or when I hold the wooden sword I have in my room.  It unleashes that wave of testosterone everybody gets when they do something, that's kind of ridiculous but at the same time so freaking cool!  So in honour of this wave of crazy testosterone I thought I'd write up some character concepts for the WWW RPG.  These are just some awesome Wrestlers that I thought up after taking a glance at the Gimmicks for WWW RPG.  Feel free to use them in your own game or just read for the entertainment value.

Black Knight (The Monster Gimmick)
This ain't your Monty Python's Black Knight.  This guy is one bad dude.  No one knows where he came from and he never talks about it, he's too busy bashing his opponents onto the canvas.  I imagine his entrance as overblown and kind of odd.  It involves him riding out on a gigantic Shire Horse in full jousting tack, while he sits atop in full armour.  (Sword, lance and all).  Meanwhile a medieval cover of War Pigs kind of like this plays, while the lights are dimmed and smoke machines bathe the stadium in mist.  He's meant to feel otherworldly, like he's stepped through the fabric of myth and time to do battle against the modern era's mightiest warriors.  His costume in the ring is made-up of a black tunic/surcoat and his head is covered by a Great Helm at all times (a great Prize for "for the Mask" match. For those of you concerned about safety the WWW-RPG rulebook does say that this is wrestling if it had an unlimited Special Effects Budget).  Black Knight is definitely a Heel, there is no question about it, his gimmick is based on one of the oldest villains in Western Storytelling.  I very much see him as having the Intimidating Move to start.  As well as the "Not of this World" move.  His signature match would be "The Battle of the Bridge" like the old stories.  If you want to cross the bridge you have to defeat the Black Knight that's guarding it.  I'm imagining they actually replace the ordinary mat with a replica of a stone bridge and put it over a pool filled with water.  Whoever gets dunked first, loses.

Demon King Nobunaga (The Ace Gimmick)
This previous winter I really got into the Sengoku era of Japanese History.  So that's what inspired this character, I decided to use to the Ace from the International Incident to represent the first Shogun since the Sengoku started.  Demon King Nobunaga is top of his division and Creative really plays this fact up.  They give him the biggest budget possible for his entrance.  Which is High-Concept and Production filled.  The entrance involves him being proceeded by an army of extras dressed in replica Sengoku-era foot-soldier armour.  Carried in on a portable shrine (like the kind you might see at a Japanese festival) surrounded by a harem of models dressed as (incredibly sexualized) Geishas.  All of this while a J-Rock song by the Japanese equivalent of Sabaton (about one of Oda Nobunaga's greatest victories) plays over the loud speakers.  I imagine Demon King Nobunaga as looking something like a beefed up version of Toshiro Mifune in Throne of Blood.  Dressed in a sleeveless kimono in the Oda colours of Black and Yellow.  I definitely believe that his starting move should be Amazing Entrance since it's meant to have the biggest budget of the division.  To overshadow any other player character's entrance, to give them something to aspire to pull the rug out from under.  It goes without saying that the Demon King is a Heel.

The Kid (The Technician Gimmick)
The Kid is a relative newcomer to the division.  He started out as an indie wrestler in his home city of Calgary.  Where he was discovered by one of the division's scouts.  They latched onto him and gave him his persona The Kid.  The Kid is a modern-day cowboy, creative wants to turn him into something of an American Icon.  (Again he's Canadian)  I personally wanted thought that a subplot about a minor scandal over his origins would be kind of interesting.  Speaking as someone who's been on the internet for a while, fans tend to latch onto the stupidest little details.  (Such as an American Icon actually being from Canada).  The Kid's entrance is Generic and kind of Easy.  He rides in on a Harley Davidson, while Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive plays.  The Kid's costume is made up of a Poncho (ala Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy), Boots and the ever-present Hat with stampede string.  In terms of moves I would give him Versatile (meant to reflect the Outlaw nature of his persona) and Excellence of Execution, to get the most out of his finishing move.  Speaking of his finishing move, The Kid is the only one these characters that I've given a named finishing move.  His finishing move is the Bronco Buster (it's really just a Camel Clutch, some announcer called the Bronco Buster and the name stuck, much to The Kid's Dismay).

So there you have it.  My attempt at creating a stable of Wrestlers for the Worldwide Wrestling RPG. Be sure to +1, share and comment if you liked this post.  Have a nice day and may the dice be ever in your favour.