Thursday, February 14, 2019

Operation Whitebox: Just Before A Bridge Too Far

I’d been excited to play Operation Whitebox for a long time, and I finally got to run it. For this first game, we used only the core rules.  Next time, I’d like to use the Tactical Combat Rules and the Stalingrad setting.

I invited two friends who are interested or at least neutral on the idea of playing an rpg set in WWII, and out of the blue my wife decided to join us. This is very, very rare and I was excited to have her in the game. We played over Roll20, using Hangouts for voice and video.

Character creation was fun and easy; both of my friends picked the Grunt character class while my wife picked Wheelman.  In order to go for a more cinematic approach, I told them to roll 4 dice and pick the best 3, assigning the scores in whatever order they wanted. We used the Advanced Attribute Bonus table to maximize any bonuses they might get, and I declared we were playing on Heroic Level, which uses d10s for Hit Dice.  I had everyone start with 1 die at max (10+CON bonuses) and the Grunts rolled an additional d10 randomly.

It was fun going through the briefing; I found good maps that showed the goal of Operation Market Garden, which was going to kick off the morning after this mission. The players could see the big picture, the area around the target building in Osterbeek just south of Arnhem, and photos of both the Hartstein Hotel and Field Marshal Walter Model, the target.

They were to parachute in, link up with Dutch resistance who would escort them to the enemy HQ (the hotel), and then terminate the field marshal.

They would then evacuate to a stone church on the shore of the Rhine River and wait for pickup by Dutch Resistance, in a boat.  If they could not, they knew where to go, north or south, to link up with incoming Allied forces.  Going north to Arnhem would be a bad idea, but only one of the players knew that, and his character didn’t...

I had them roll for a Very Unlikely Problem during the paradrop, and sure enough one of the Grunts rolled a 1.  I declared he’d lost a piece of equipment, and he randomly determined it was his knife.

They met a married couple from Dutch Resistance who escorted them to Model’s HQ (the hotel). I’d initially planned to have them run into a patrol on the way there, but randomized it instead, and they were able to stay hidden while it rolled past.

The Dutch melted back into the woods after dropping off our commandos.  The characters observed the hotel (an old mansion), the guards surrounding it, and the armored cars, half-tracks, and long black staff car parked in front. 

They decided to disable the vehicles and wire the staff car with explosives, and the Wheelman got busy.  There was a close shave when a guard dropped a cigarette butt on the ground next to the car she was working on and was told to pick it up by an officer, but he was too agitated to notice her, and she continued working.

Once done she made her way back to the Grunts.  At this point I put up a detailed grid map of the mansion and tokens they could control to show me their position.  One Grunt ran up to jimmy the lock on the door, while the Wheelman, an Athlete and high in both Strength and Dexterity, climbed up the side of the hotel to the roof. She quickly cut the telephone lines.

The other Grunt ran in once the side door was opened, and they found themselves in a store room.  They barricaded the door to the sitting room with almost supernatural quiet and ease (critical success roll) and covered everything in cooking oil and hard liquor.  A server came back for more wine and found the door blocked, at which point the Grunts set fire to the room and moved down a short hallway.

They busted in on a small barracks.  Three soldiers were in there, lounging and talking, and were very surprised.  The Grunts, armed with suppressed light pistols, took their free round to fire, and both missed. They then used their Combat Machine traits to fire again, and both missed. They started the next round with initiative and fired twice each, lightly wounding one of the Germans.  The Germans returned fire, hitting one of the Grunts.

Meanwhile on the roof, the Wheelman could see and smell smoke, and when a couple officers and soldiers fled from the sitting room, she dropped a grenade on them, killing them all.  She did the same to a couple soldiers who ran to the side door.

The Battle of the Barracks went on for several more rounds, with the same Grunt taking more damage, before they were able to finish off the German soldiers.  Hearing rapid footsteps coming down the stairs, they figured the field marshal was trying to escape, and moved to head him off.

The wounded Grunt moved to very close range and fired at the NCO guard who appeared, killing him.  The field marshal was next, who made a tough roll to run past the Grunt and over the body of his guard, getting outside the front door of the hotel.  The last NCO came down the stairs and attacked the Grunt with a dagger, wounding him yet again.

The Wheelman heard the shots and took position on the roof at the front of the hotel.  Upon seeing the target come flying out the door, she dropped her third grenade of the evening, blowing the field marshal to bits.  Mission accomplished.

Inside, the two Grunts were battling the remaining NCO, a big guy.  It was hand-to-hand, with daggers and rifle butts.  They finally took him down, and noticed he was wearing an unusual camouflage uniform, with insignia of the 2nd Panzer Division.  They were not supposed to be there, so they had discovered important intel.

Between the 3 of them they took out the remaining guards in front and jumped in the only vehicle the Wheelman hadn’t disabled, an armored car.  She sped off, while one of the Grunts fired the autocannon, cutting down an NCO that came around the corner of the hotel.

I ended it there, as the time difference with my friends in London made it pretty late for a Sunday night, but it was a lot of fun and a lot of action in a short amount of time!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

My Hangout Gaming Group's 2018 Annual Awards

Written by Lloyd Gyan

Yes it was a tough contender, with Games coming out of the woodwork to score ALL the points in all the wrong places. We had some surprising twists in certain categories.

Best System:
Yes this award goes to god's gift on dice and possibility. Considering the crazy amount of games that went through this year, this was not chosen lightly, and I think we can all agree that the winner impressed us with its style, understanding, and adaptation to our gaming formula

Tied 1st place: Rovers, and 2d Engine

Rovers by Aviatrix Games has come out of nowhere to completely dominate our Space Game market. What started off as a simple one page document run on off-days spawned a 5 part series that none of us expected. It was only beaten by the 2D engine game Tales from the Water Margin written by our own Ricardo Lenzi. Both games were very much top contenders for this role, so it's nice to see a tie for systems in a world where we were all so very much divided.

Runners up: Scum & Villany, Forbidden Lands, L5R 5th Edition, One Ring.

Best Setting:
This award goes to the world that mostly wowed us with its lore, people, and style. A fantastic universe that helps secure the winning name and structure is a difficult task, considering how many worlds we end up seeing each year, and this award is not one to be given lightly.

1st Place: Shadow of the Demon Lord

Shadow of the Demon lord will not win any awards for the dice mechanic, but what it will win is its hollow aesthetic of a dark, desperate world, where monsters are monsters and heroes are just monsters with hats on. This dark fantasy romp through two sessions stayed so deep within the hearts of the boys that it echoes throughout the rest of the awards, and may easily be back here again for next year's prizes.

Runner Up: Coriolis, Forbidden Lands, Lone wolf, Symborum, L5R 5th Ed, 2D Engine

Coriolis Effect winner:
Everyone has a bad day here and there. Walk past a broken mirror, under a ladder, scare a black cat, etc. And suddenly your luck is against you. You just cannot stop yourself from rolling those Crit failures. Nothing goes your way in the form of dice. And you hate it. This award goes to the game that we basically cannot seem to do well in no matter how hard we try, where the mechanics and the dice are just solidly out to get us. Name after the only game in the entire group’s lifetime that killed a character in the first session (Coriolis).

1st Place: Mutant Mechatron

The idea of being a badass robot in a world where the humans are gone was beyond exciting. The GM brought us into a special universe of robot speeches, power outages, and the core reason why we don't let Certain Members of the group make up their character on his own before the rest of us do. However, using the same mechanic as the Coriolis game did not help in the slightest, and we ended up in the last session trapped in a submarine bound for God knows where. Great game, but we can't roll dice for crap.

Runner up: Shadow Of the Demon Lord, Feet Dry, Scum & Villiany, Apocalypse World

Repeat Offender:
Some games are just too good for two sessions a year. This is the game and system that absolutely captivated us to no end. We loved everything about this game (or we didn't really feel we had enough gameplay to fully appreciate it) and we would love to see it again.

1st Place: Rovers

Naturally, this is no surprise to anybody. It has the most amount of requests to be run, some of us have already expressed an idea of expanding it, and it was one GM’s go-to for 'game to run for the group that I don't have to think too hard about'.  We will be seeing more of Rovers as we go along.

Runner up: Scum & Villainy, L5R 5ed, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Forbidden Lands, Coriolis

Some games were a bit too... much. Too much of one thing, not enough of another. This is an odd category, as its for games that we feel not only that we did not enjoy, but for games we have seen quite enough of. The factors that make up what goes into this category are plentiful, and not a snide against the people who ran it.

1st Place: Mysteries of the Yokai
We spent a lot of time in fantasy Japan, either as Samurais, Outlaws, or badass ninjas. But no game confused us more than the Mysteries of the Yokai and its 4d chess character generation. For a game with such potential, it is a shame to see a labor of love with such little love given to it by its players. But then again, having actually played the game, its placement seems perfectly justified, even by the GM himself.

Runner up: Symbourum, Mysteries of the Yokai, 5e, Mechatron, Shadow of the Demonlord

Coming Soon
Finally, here is the list of games that people have been 'Requesting' that we possibly take a lot at. A lot of these are new to us, and we all have our reasons, so I will do my best to put them in perspective as much as I can:

Technoir is a fantastic game from 2012 that went up against Lady Blackbird for Ennie contender in 2012. A Game that uses verbs, adjectives, and burning your connections with your friends to get shit done, in a cyberpunk neo noir universe.

High Plains Samurai is a fantastically visual game where we play the writers of characters, in a Wild West magical world with samurais and cowboys. Definitely on the top of the list.

Never Tell me the Odds recently got Kickstarted to an obscene amount of cash for a very VERY indie game. Not sure how they will play here, but it is Prince Valiant levels of simple.

Blades Against Darkness Turbo created by Dylan Green blessed us with its new version of the Blades against Darkness Forged in the Dark game that runs faster, harder and better. He used the phrase Castlevania-lite and that instantly bought me in, although how it will work remains to be seen

The Expanse is a Green Ronin license jackpot, by slapping the popular series The Expanse with its non-award winning Space Age system, going through the Savage Worlds greatest trick: Licenses Sell.

Warhammer 4e is the fourth iteration of the popular Warhammer franchise (after FFG finally lost the liscence to it) taken over by Cubicle 7. Although it is recently released, how similar it will be to the other systems is going to be if it makes it or breaks it.

Nahual is a mexican roleplaying game essentially about killing gods and wearing them like jewelry. Expect a very culture-based roleplaying game the likes of which Fantasy Asia has never seen before.

Mutant Year Zero is the game that started it all for Free League, and their second biggest breadwinner. Now a video game, and possibly a movie (think Tank girl and you're practically there) nothing has come close to creating its own popular franchise in roleplaying game form than Mutant: Year Zero.

Psi Run is another classic from yesteryear. An indie game where you explore your memories and abilities after waking up in a horrible situation. Very much what the players make of it will determine what the game will be.

Dying Earth is a romp into a... well...dying earth. A Game that favors exploration, discovery of old technology, and adventure through uncharted territory. It also uses Gumshoe.

Achtung 2d20  “Set in WWII, a band of Allied heroes fight a Secret War against the Nazi occult.”  It does sound interesting...

And so we have it. Thank you very much for one of the best years of Gaming, and we will see you all in MeWe for now on, because Google+ will soon be a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Friday, October 19, 2018

New Games and Old, Tactical and Theater of the Mind


1) I started playing Starfinder, through the Starfinder Society. It's challenging to travel 40 min, meet new people on a rotating basis, and play a game that I'm learning, but generally fun. The lore is interesting, the graphics are amazing, the options are many.  There's a lot of dice-rolling, much more than I'm used to, everything seems to require a skill. The amount of paperwork and accounting is truly epic. Luckily I just look annoyed or confused and someone else does it for me, so that works out fine.

2) My most-downloaded game product is my free Hyborian intro-adventure for The Black Hack. I gave myself 3 months to add some detail and produce 2 maps, before the 2nd ed of Black Hack came out. I failed. Maps and monster stats are hard for me, apparently. Deep sigh.

3) I'm really loving Everywhen, RPG rules powered by Barbarians of Lemuria. I wondered how it would do in a more skirmish-focused game, and it did great. Fast, easy, exciting and still plenty of room for role-playing. Looking forward to 2nd playtest of my Time Trippers game on Saturday.

4) The Fantasy Trip. I enjoy it for the tactical combat, and it produces moments of excitement and humor on a regular basis.  I'm very curious to see what it's like in social situations and exploring an enemy location. I worry it might feel too mechanical.

If you're still reading, the thing I'm thinking about today is whether someone who's blind could play Everywhen: Time Trippers or TFT online. I think Time Trippers is possible--if the GM explained movement and combat options, described the terrain, etc. TFT would be harder I think; it's the opposite of "theater of the mind."  I'd like to test this out sometime.

A board game by SPI in 1978, a setting hack for a role-playing game in 2018

Thursday, September 21, 2017

John Wick, Retired: Ver 2.0

Can you and your fellow Assassins survive being hunted by John Wick? Probably not all of you.  Maybe just one.  Possibly none. 

Version 2.0 includes several optional rules you can add to the game, including a PVP option. This is my reskin of the awesome Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf by Matthew J. McPherson.

Download it here:  John Wick, Retired ver 2.0

By GlebTheZombie on Deviant Art

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

John Wick, Retired

Inspired by a conversation I found online, and wanting badly to play a game set in the world of John Wick, I decided to reskin Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf.  Many thanks to Matthew J. McPherson for his fun, simple framework.  You can play John Wick, Retired as serious or as silly as you want.

Download it here:  John Wick, Retired

Art by abiku009 on Deviant Art

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The 100: the Game Setting

I'm a big fan of the sci-fi post-apocalyptic setting, and The CW's  "The 100" struck me as a particularly good one. I also think it lends itself to a good game world if you expand it to include factions and ruins exploration. Sort of a "The 100" meets "The Morrow Project", "Aftermath!", or even "Gamma World", when played less-gonzo.

So here I present my fan project, just-for-fun, Barbarians of Lemuria: The 100 game! 

This first link takes you to my The 100 Setting Primer, all fluff and pretty pictures, for those who need a refresher on the world or have never seen the show. Spoilers ahead:

The 100: the Game Setting Primer

This link takes you to the master doc with rules for playing in the world of The 100, using the Barbarians of Lemuria rules system:

The 100: the Game

If you've never watched the show, get past the first three episodes and you'll be hooked.  If you're already a fan of the show, I hope the setting I've created here will allow you to run games in the exciting, dangerous world of The 100!

This could be you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Conan-Inspired Scenario for The Black Hack

I wrote a simple, introductory scenario for The Black Hack roleplaying game.  I've updated it with a map and more detail, but tried to keep it simple and low on description; when I ran it myself, it was fast and full of action.

So here you go: The Black Sword of Shem

The far south-western coast of Zingara, in the hot, bustling, river-port town of Jerida, at a tavern and gambling hall.

The characters have been traveling together, and have blown all their wealth on booze and gambling.  They are hung over, and they are in debt.

The Honorable Senior Magistrate Vilerius arrives to the tavern, of which is he part-owner, with a squad of veteran spearmen.  They surround the party, and the Magistrate holds an improvised court.

"You are in debt.  Debt is not allowed; it is illegal, you are outlaws.  But I won't throw you in prison, indefinitely, if you'll do me a simple favor: head down the coast past Argos, and just over the border to Shem.  Bring me back the Sword of Justice.  Don't return without it.  You can keep anything else you find in the tomb, and I’ll even provide a ship and a guide."

And so it begins.