Friday, December 20, 2013

Star Wars Age of Rebellion: No, I Don't Like You Either

This was our second mission in the international game of Star Wars Age of Rebellion that I'm in. Luckily, our GM runs his games using theater of the imagination, using Roll20 for the occasional drawing, map, or graphic. I say luckily because Roll20 pushed through a massive upgrade the night before our game, and I can't get it to work anymore. I'm hoping the issue will magically resolve itself as some of the games I play (Crossfire, Necromunda) cannot be played at all without the Roll20 virtual tabletop working.

And yes, I did try turning it off, and turning it back on.

Anyhow: We landed on Nal Hutta, home of the Hutts. Like Jabba the Hutt. Since they are huge, sentient slugs with little forearms I assume they build things mostly with contract and slave labor. We are in Nar Shadar, "Little Coruscant", "Vertical City."  A huge sprawl of multi-level buildings and flying craft.

Nal Hutta also has Spice processing plants. The Spice in the Star Wars universe is not like the Spice in Dune (although it is based on it) but it is still highly valuable.

There are Imperial stations in orbit, which will become important.  Our shuttle is parked in the spaceport, registered as a private civilian ship.

The party never ends at the Burning Deck.

We go to the "Burning Deck" bar to meet our contact and fixer, Donita.  But Donita has been tailed and only has a couple minutes to give us our mission:

A new TIE Fighter facility in orbit just came on line, and it has a flight school.  The previous facility was destroyed by the Rebels, but the Imperials rebuilt it (like they do). The Alliance wants us to upload a virus into the new facility. It sounds like a piece of cake.

Donita provides a cover story and transponder codes to ID us as an Imperial Survey crew. We have been studying the wreckage of the old facility and want to ensure security upgrades are in place on the new base.
He downs his drink and leaves quickly, sticking us with the tab.

After a moment we go to follow, but Imperials have shown up: A Droideka (rolling military droid) and 3 Colicoids, an insectoid people, armed with blasters.

I make a break for the kitchen, looking for a way up to the roof. The others duck back into the bar and try to look casual. R3 rolls back in quickly.  "R3, you made a mournful noise and you don't have a weapon, so they leave you alone."  A lesson for all of us there, I think.

I am sorely wishing I'd replaced my frag grenade at this point.

I run upstairs but slam into a server with a tray full of stir-fried maggots and calamari, making a horrible noise and attracting attention.  The bartender points the imperials my way. I make it through the kitchen and out a window, where I hang precariously.  After a bit I let myself fall, landing on my feet and joining Trip outside on the side street. We walk away casually as does the rest of the crew, and the Imperials are left empty-handed--but clearly they know something is up.

We get to the shuttle and talk our way past flight control, or at least R3 does by rudely beeping and whistling at them.

R3 locates a map of our location and our destination. We immediately run into a patrol and once again R3 gets us past by befuddling the Imperials with a rapid-fire sequence of vaguely insulting beeps and whistles.

We proceed to our destination without problems but run into guards at the lift we need to ascend up to the level with data access.  Nomi pours on the charm and the guards relax completely, deciding to go on break and letting us know that they'll send some refreshments up in about 3 hours.

So far, so good!

The lift takes us up to the data area, and R3 gets to work. Things start out well, with R3 quietly locking the door to the stormtrooper barracks/break room.  Several attempts are made to upload the virus, but none succeed. Eventually it is R3 who is infected, not the facility.  I gave it a try after mirroring the screens that R3 saw on some monitors, but I too fail, and alarms start to scream.

R3 hitches a ride down on the descending lift, which is no doubt going to return bearing over-eager TIE cadets with blaster pistols. The rest of us descend down a maintenance shaft, and successfully talk our way past a small cadet patrol.

At Nomi's urging, I decide to give it one more try by uploading the virus to a TIE fighter and hoping it will propagate to the network the next time they fly it. But disaster strikes again! Not only do I fail to upload the virus, which by now I believe to be badly designed, but I trigger a security response and my picture is taken in the TIE fighter.  I shoot it a couple times in anger but the damage is done, and my blaster pistol isn't going to wreck a fighter designed for deep space dogfights.

We run back to the shuttle hanger, where it turns out Dany and Trip have been in a heated firefight with a commander and some cadets. They have dispatched the cadets after an initial ruse failed dismally, but the commander has closed with Trip and followed him into our shuttle.  Imagine his surprise when Dany's blaster is pressed up against his temple, and the rest of our crew boards the shuttle like a herd of rampaging banthas. We truss him up like a Blenjeel sand worm on Emperor's Day and stick him in a corner.

We fly out, and the only saving grace of this mission happens now, when Dany circles back to lay down some fire on the TIE hanger, destroying several. Hopefully including the one that took my damn picture.  The base defenses begin to respond, and we get the hell out of there.  You can't win them all.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

World of Dungeons Meets Warhammer Fantasy: Streets of Marienburg

Streets of Marienburg is a very well-done, good-looking Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay hack of World of Dungeons. Not to be confused with Dungeon World. I know it will be though, so here's the difference:

Dungeon World is a fully detailed game that sells for money. World of Dungeons is an extremely simplified, free version that will leave you filling in a lot of blanks.  Streets of Marienburg fills in some of the crucial info missing in World of Dungeons and somehow manages to capture the Old World feel of Warhammer Fantasy.  It has art, color, and a proper font.  You can download Streets of Marienburg here:

*For a character example, see my Wizard (Wolfgang) at the bottom of this entry.*

In our first adventure, before Hank the Fighter joined us, I was out celebrating the Festival of St. Rudolph with Urgrim the Dwarf and Behjet the Gypsy when we stumbled on to a Skaven and human Cult plot to kill and enslave the entire population of Marienburg. Because Skaven make no small plans. Through a combination of luck, violence, and detective work we were able to defeat the Skaven and come out ahead. Nobody believes us about the Skaven though.

They enjoy curved swords and firearms. And they are mean. 

In our second adventure, Hank the Fighter joined us but we lost Behjet the Gypsy. Hank, Urgrim the Dwarf Shaman and me were given an actual job to do for money, by the Signaler's Guild. On the way to the job we found out the hard way that the evil cultists had put a price on the heads of Urgrim and Wolfgang because of our previous plot-foiling. We escaped and made a mental note to come back and kill them all.

I'm in a hurry, but I'll come back to kill you, Skaven scum.

Oakwood Cross Tower, a signal tower that used light, had stopped signaling. We ran into a band of Gypsies who finally provided some useful knowledge after Hank and Urgrim applied good cop/bad cop techniques, and investigated the tower. The entire thing--and everything in it--had turned into wood. Including the Signaler Technician. With a massive use of magic, Wolfgang was able to reverse the effects and free the Signaler from his wooden prison. Which he'd caused by his attempt to transmit the contents of a page from a mysterious book which had magnified and executed the spell written on that page.

Like this, but made entirely of wood.

Rushing downstairs because the building was in imminent danger of collapse, we were attacked by nature spirits or elementals from the forest nearby. Hank and Urgrim fought them off with blades and fire, until the spirits disappeared after some help from a mysterious old lady we had encountered earlier on the road. She was much more than what she appeared, like many things in the Old World.

The Signal tower lost but the Signaler saved, we returned to Marienburg and a nice payment for services rendered. We all went drinking, but while Hank and Wolfgang kept things under control, Urgrim drank and told tales of his forefathers deep into the night. At which point he was attacked and robbed! Opportunistic thieves? Or evidence of anti-Dwarf sentiment in Marienburg?

A new and hungover day has dawned for our adventurers and we shall see what is in store for them down the road.

CHARACTER CREATION IS EASY AND FUN.  Here is my 3rd Level Wizard:

Wolfgang, Imperial Human. Wolfgang is pale as the driven snow from a lifetime of studying indoors, and has a tendency to mutter to himself constantly. He is a knowledge and events addict, keeping track of events both within the Empire and without. Over time he's decided that he should not be constrained in his use of magic, as he's sure he can control it and will not suffer the effects of touching the Warp. So far he's been right... Wolfgang seeks to grown in power and find, buy, or steal whatever he needs to that end, preferably without killing others, but whatever.

Str: 0, Dex: 0, Const: 0, Int: +3, Wis: +2, Char: 0

Level  3, Current Health: 10
Stamina 2d6
Power Score: 4 (2 Stamina plus Wis)

Career: Arcanist
Skills: Mysteries, Academics, Awareness
Abilities: Wizardry, Sorcery (Sorcery Spells: Righteous Fury, Ghostly Candle, Deception-Charm)
Money: 96 Crowns 
Armaments and Trappings:
Skaven Jazail (long flintlock rifle), d6+2 
Urban clothing, a handful of coins in a purse, lantern on a pole
2 vials Quicksilver

Monday, December 9, 2013

Star Wars Age of Rebellion: The Outlaw Vandrin Wales

I've always felt cheated that I didn't get to play any of the Star Wars role-playing games and finally, I have a chance to rectify that. Thanks to the miracle of Google Hangout and Roll20, I'm playing the Fantasy Flight version of Star Wars (Age of Rebellion/Edge of the Empire).  Sometimes it takes an international team to save the universe.

I'm playing an Engineer/Mercenary Soldier with a Death Stick addiction named Booster Wessiri.  We also have an R3 Droid (R3-CON), a Pilot (Dany Eliyaksan), a Force-sensitive Medic (Nomi Moonrider) and an Explorer (Trip Fengris).  We are connected for various reasons and have been operating as a pro-Rebel Alliance mercenary unit for a while now. We are attached to Special Group and designated Unit 822.

We are approached by our fixer agent, Donita, and given a mission: take our ship to planet Kalzoa, an outpost on the edge of nowhere.  Spring the outlaw, pirate captain Vandrin, out of prison and wait for further instructions.  We are on the clock, as Vandrin is set to be executed in 3 days--and it takes a day to get there.

The intel we're able to gather indicates he's being held at the K7 Detention Center, in Capital City. It sounds impossible until we learn that K7 is basically a reinforced bunker building and Capital City is a small backwater town.  The planet Kalzoa itself is dry and inhospitable.

Most important is the Imperial Navy Base located on a moon circling Kalzoa. We're given transponder codes by Donita to identify as Imperial, we don our Imperial uniforms, and we cross our fingers.

We identified ourselves as Imperial bio-inspectors to the spaceport authorities and landed near another ship, which we noticed was marked as an Imperial Customs ship.  A quick search by the droid generated some poor-quality maps of the area, but enough to show us where the prison was along with a few areas of interest to tourists (Sectors Biggest Ball of Arthropod-Generated Mucus) and places to eat (Meat On a Stick, Noodles 'R Us).

Nobody hassled us on the way to the prison, and our Rebel-issued Imperial IDs were good enough to get us past the two guards into the prison administrative area. We explained that we were there to check on the water supply, as reports of Hideous Disease had come in from other parts of the planet. I went up to the roof to "check out the water tanks" but really to keep an eye on the guards out front and report on any interesting traffic. The rest of the team pushed into the prisoner area, identified the cell that Vandrin was in and began to "examine and treat" the guards, which mostly consisted of giving them a sedative and pumping them for information.

When we arrived there were 2 guards out front and 5 inside: 3 guards, 2 prison admins, and 1 protocol droid. Marshall Seltzon was on duty, and it was a fine line getting him paranoid enough about catching a Hideous Water-Borne Illness and preventing him from calling in additional guards. Another guard joined those in front after a bit, and shortly after that 3 goons showed up in a landspeeder--I assumed Vandrin's old crew, there to free him. Couldn't have that as the Rebel Alliance needed him, so I let the team know that we had to act now.

The droid had been out front too, but now rolled back inside where the team now outnumbered the sleepy guards. While they disabled the protocol droid and sprung Vandrin, I dropped a frag grenade on the folks out front. The team heard the blast and ran out with the package, jumping into a police landspeeder. I dropped down from the roof to join them and we sped off back to the ship.

Some fast-talk on our part got us past the Imperial Navy base on the moon, and we sped off to the Jade system. There we were directed by Vandrin to land on a small moon, Opal, which was used as a burial ground and memorial by the asteroid miners and spacers that lived in the sector. Under a gravestone marked "Nok Urda Ron" we found the Imperial diplomatic bag that Vandrin had hidden, of great importance to the Rebels. The droid also found a huge metallic reading nearby, and determined it was a treasure in metals...but we ran out of time and had to leave: a ship had followed us into the system, and Vandrin told us it was his old crew, who had not wanted to spring him, but rather to torture him until he told them where this bag was hidden.

We loaded up the ship and jumped to hyperspace before the other ship could catch up with us. Delivering both Vandrin and the diplomatic bag, our mission was complete and our Rebel bosses very happy. They were even happier when Vandrin told them about the treasure in metals we found on Opal! We were furious about that and confused about his motives, until we learned that he was from Alderaan. After the Empire destroyed his planet he became a true believer, and true believers can be hard to work with.

Looking forward to the next mission.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Apocalypse World: Braceburg Leans into the Psychic Maelstrom

I've played Monster of the Week but didn't have a chance to play the game that the system is based on--Apocalypse World--until recently.  The characters in the game are Niles (the Savvyhead), Brother Bat (the Hocus) and Candy Grip (the Angel).

The labels in parenthesis indicate the type of character they are.
Niles is more than just gifted with machines, he can communicate with them, modify them and make them do things that should be impossible.
Brother Bat is a charismatic, spiritual leader; physically and mentally strong with a large contingent of followers in the settlement.
Candy Grip is the settlement's doctor, concerned with everyone's well-being but often aggravated by people in general and worried that something is trying to kill her. Him. Whatever.

They live in Braceburg, so named after the leader of the settlement, Brace Win.

Green square by river is Nile's van. Two long sheds belong to Brother Bat and his people. Infirmary in the middle with a cross on it for Candy Grip. Building of Danger in foreground.

Brace started off as a big, abusive drunk with a small harem of sister-wives.  Thanks to a highly-motivating speech by Brother Bat, he is still big and abusive but also clear-headed and focused on control of the settlement.  Despite this, Brother Bat's power and influence over the people of the settlement continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Niles has had an unfortunate string of contacts with the Psychic Maelstrom, and is barely holding it together as everything from his toaster to his AK talk to him in distracting and sometimes demanding ways.

Candy was attacked twice by large mutant snakes, increasing Candy's paranoia and general irritation.  Later, Candy had a close encounter of the Postman kind which led to an increase in hospital stock. This came in handy when it was necessary to install a hallucinogen drip in Niles to keep him from going completely nuts. 

Highlights from last session:

Wisher, a waste of a human who had stolen a chicken from Fuze the Chicken Farmer, learned just how much Fuze loved his chickens when Fuze blew his brains out at the communal dinner. Candy narrowly escaped death upon attempting to calm Fuze down, but was rewarded with a new pistol when Brace took it away from Fuze.  Candy and minions recovered Wisher's body and spent the rest of the night chopping it up into medical supplies and spare organs.

Brace confronted Brother Bat about who was in charge, but Brother Bat (as usual) pulled out an epic speech and defused the situation. The effect of the speech was so profound that everyone started confessing to everyone else, intimate details of past transgressions. 

The evening devolved into drunkenness and debauchery. Candy passed on the debauchery but indulged in drunkenness, stupidly using a machine Niles had created to maximize exposure to the Psychic Maelstrom. It did allow Candy to see what Niles was seeing, which was useful. The machine told Niles that Candy smells like black licorice, which thankfully Niles kept to himself.

A persistent threat in the basement of a building left over from before The Apocalypse was dealt with, up to a point. Brother Bat was injured when mutant snakes attacked him, and Candy did a crappy job of patching him up. Niles killed the snakes with his AK, and Brother Bat communicated with a powerful entity that does not seem friendly, but seems to have left the town alone, for now, leaving nothing but prophetic warnings and a bad taste in everyone's mouth.