Sunday, May 23, 2021

Deepnight Revelation: Calling for Volunteers...


This post has two purposes: it is a guide to the players in my upcoming Space Opera Season 3 campaign on character creation, and also an invitation to my readers to join the campaign indirectly by creating an NPC crew member for the ship at the centre of the campaign.


I backed the Mongoose Traveller: The Deepnight Revelation kickstarter, which will deliver soon. I am planning to modify the campaign and use it as the basis for my campaign. The campaign describes the mission of the ship of that name, and players will play crew members of that ship.

As the ship has around 500 crew members, and I have only a fraction of that number in players, I am asking you, my readers, to help by creating NPC characters to crew my ship. These characters will interact with our PCs, and go on away missions with them. I hope to post reports from our sessions, so you can follow the adventures of the ship and her crew.

The Story So Far...

In the 20-something-eth century, our galaxy is divided into three parts: the human-dominant United Confederation (UC) on one side, the Rakashan-dominated Tazanian Empire (TE) on the other, and a large Neutral Zone (NZ) of independent systems acting as a buffer/no-fly zone between them.

Two years ago, an extra-galactic species of aliens nicknamed the Grens - basically genestealers - invaded our galaxy during a war between the UC and the TE, and nearly wiped us out. With the PCs' help, our galaxy managed to defeat the Grens, and afterwards discovered the wormhole through which they entered our galaxy.

To ensure that such an invasion never happens again, the UC, TE, and NZ decided to pool their resources and send a ship through the wormhole to find the home of the Grens and hopefully... end them.

They refitted a cruiser, named Deepnight Revelation, and appointed a human (from the UC) as the captain and a Rakashan (the feline humanoid species of the TE) as her XO. The crew are all volunteers recruited from the UC and TE military, and civilians from UC, TE, and NZ who possess the talents which might be useful on this expedition. They are all volunteers because no one is even sure that the ship can survive the passage through the wormhole, let alone get back. There are some 500 crew members, deployed in various departments such as Command, Flight/Helm/Navigation, Engineering, Operations/Logistics/Medical, Tactical/Security, and "Mission Command and Science" - crew with unique talents that are not about day-to-day shipboard operations.

Creating your Character

It's a Space Opera setting, so feel free to make up a species; we use mainly Star Wars prepainted miniatures for our game, so if your species resembles one of the stock Star Wars species it will be easier to find a representation for you. As long as your character is roughly human-sized, it should be good. You can be organic, android, or Star Wars kind of droid. Psionics is rare, and in our game more or less limited to the Serrans, of whom there are not many around.

Do let me know the following about your characters:



Your origins

Your training/skills/vocation/shipboard assignment

Why you volunteered for the mission

What is something you brought with you

What is something you left behind

I may not use the character 'as is', but modify the description to suit the needs of the game, but I will attribute the creator in my session reports if I use your character (and if you wish me to).

You can post your character in the Comments section.

Thanks in advance. The galaxy thanks you for your service.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Sorcery! 2 - Kidnap the Archpriest

With only two days to plan and execute the kidnapping, our villains split up to gather information and help.

They learned that the College of Sorcery is housed in what was previously a fort on an island on a tributary of the Goldflow river. The college is connected to the Great Temple of Libra via an exclusive sheltered wooden bridge, which Morgana and the senior members of the college would use to go to Goncol's funeral.

Making the rounds around the city, they learned that Morgana was guarded by her own personal bodyguards, known as the Black Guards, who were formidable warriors, and considered themselves above the law. Morgana was guarded by at least a dozen of the Black Guards every time she left the college - a head-on confrontation was not going to work.

They also learned that there was much unhappiness among the populace over the corruption of the nobles and the college elites, among of whom were the merchant Bertrand, who held most of the college's contracts - from supplying food, laundry, to the hiring of non-academic staff - but had not been receiving his payments as promised by the Bursar.

With these information at hand, our villains formulated their plan.

They convinced Bertrand that they would gain leverage over the Bursar and ensure that he received his payment if he could get them into the college. Thus, the day before the funeral Gearfried, posing as Bertrand's assistant, visited the Bursar at his office inside the college to try to collect on the debt, while Malus, disguised as a food deliveryman, entered the college via the service entrance.

The Bursar fobbed Bertrand off with vague promises, but during that time Gearfried was able to surmise where he kept his ledgers.

Malus meanwhile deposited the tainted onions which would cause food poisoning to the whole college, and then sneaked off to explore the grounds. He was confronted by Morgana's Butler, who ordered him to be seized and locked up in the gatehouse, where he would await his execution the next day as a suspected thief.

Back at the tavern, the party learned of Malus' fate from the town crier. They were counting on Malus' reconnaissance for information on the grounds, and now they would have to do without it.

The tainted onions did their work, and many of the college staff came down with food poisoning. A call went out to Bertrand to supply temporary staff to the college.

Zamm and Horovar were hired as guards, and at the first opportunity they tracked down Malus and freed him. Malus gave what information he had learned about the grounds to the two, and helped disguise Horovar as the Butler using the disguise kit they stole from Goncol's mansion, and afterwards, his nerves shot, he fled the college.

Zhora, Zul, and Silent entered the college as servants. Silent, using the information given to him by Gearfired, broke into the Bursar's office, stole the ledger, and left. Later, Gearfried would determine that the Bursar had in fact been diverting funds from the college to his own purse instead of paying Bertrand, and the merchant would use that information to not just get repaid in full, but also secure contracts for many years to come...

Zhora and Zul took a trolley of bed linen from the laundry room, and made their way to the academic staff quarters, where they eventually found Morgana's chamber, guarded by two Black Guards. Zhora was allowed into the chamber, where she found a weakened Morgana in bed. She offered Morgana a drugged drink, and when she fell into a deep sleep, placed the silver torc V had given them around her neck.

Just then the door to the chamber opened, and Horovar, disguised as the Butler, entered. Together, they bundled Morgana into a bedsheet, and hid her in the trolley. They then wheeled the trolley out, and rejoined Zamm and Zul.

Horovar shed his disguise and put on his guard uniform again, and together the four made their way to the wooden bridge. There, Horovar and Zamm sent the two guards away, claiming to be their relief, and opened the door to the bridge.

Zhora and Zul then began to lower Morgana to the river with a rope. At the same time, Penn, who was waiting with a boatmen they had hired, began to approach the bridge.

Their actions did not go unnoticed, and an alarm began to go out. Zamm and Horovar despatched the two guards at the far end of the bridge by throwing them over the side of the bridge, and jammed the door shut.

Guards gathered on the battlements of the college walls, but the archers were afraid of shooting for fear of harming Morgana. One by one Zhora, Zul, Horovar, and Zamm lowered themselves or jumped into the river, but not before Horovar destroyed the supports of the bridge using acid, causing the whole structure to collapse into the water.

The boatman rowed towards the harbour, but going was slow - Zamm and Zul went once more into the water, and swam for the bank.

Arriving at the bank, Zul made his way to the Great Temple, where a crowd had gathered in anticipation of the free bread and ale that would be given away at Goncol's funeral, and started a rumour that there was not enough bread for everyone. This soon led to a riot, which impeded the progress of the guards sent to intercept the boat.

The boat, now lighter, approached a stone bridge that spanned the river before it joined the Goldflow river. A thick steel chain spanned the river, cutting off their escape. Standing on the bridge were four Black Guards, and they held grappling hooks in their hands.

Penn nocked arrows to his bow, and shot at the Black Guards when they came into range. His arrows found their mark through the joints in the armour of the Black Guards, and one by one they went down. Meanwhile, Horovar set a bunch of herbs he carried with him, which let out a thick cloud of acrid smoke whaich hid them.

Horovar lowered Morgana into the water, leaving only her face above the water. Then, covering her face with the handkerchief of invisibility they stole from Goncol's vault, he drew a big breath, dove under the water, and dragged Morgana behind him as he swam to the bank.

Penn and the boatman likewise made their escape, but Zhora, too weak to swim to safety, was swept along by the current of the water, until she reached the steel chain that spanned the river.

Horovar reached the bank of the river, and here he was met by Gearfried, who had monitored their progress from the bank. Leaving Morgana to Gearfried, Horovar raced to the stone bridge and rescued Zhora.

By now the riot had escalated, and there were fires in several parts of the city, and in the chaos our villains were able to deliver the limp form of Morgana to the waiting ship at the harbour, and then vanish into the crowd...

That evening they once again met V at The Hanged Man, where they were given their promised reward, and asked to meet him again the next day, once he had extracted the information he needed.

Prepping and Running the Game

This mission was based on Kidnap the Archpriest, also by Skerples. I was first introduced to the module by a Youtube review, and had wanted to run it for the longest time - our "evil" campaign allowed me to finally do so.

I had to make several changes to the module, but I preserved the core premises: the party had to kidnap a VIP guarded by formidable warriors, alive, and bring him/her to the harbour. I also kept the map, which I believe saved me a lot of time.

Now the actual heist planning and execution took place over a session and a half, with the players abandoning their initial plan halfway and then improvising on the plan they ultimately decided on. The account above is a very abridged version of the shenanigans that they engaged in.

One thing about the original module puzzled me though. The college/castle building is connected to the Temple/Cathedral via a sheltered wooden bridge, which the priests would use to attend the ceremony at the latter site. Curiously, in the original module the Archpriest (the target of the kidnapping) is known to not be attending the event. It seemed like such a Chekov's gun that I could not bring myself to make that the case in my game, planning perhaps to later announce that Morgana had decided at the last moment to not attend, if the players did not plan to seize her when she is crossing the bridge.

Players being players, the became fixated on the bridge - which is fair as this was the one place they could be relatively sure Morgana would be passing through at a pre-known time. To make it easier for them to visualise the bridge and plan, I decided that the bridge looked like this one:

It seemed just about open enough for them to attempt to seize Morgana when she crosses the bridge, but eventually the decided that taking on a dozen Black Guards was not a viable option.

They also explored other options and did some prep work which did not end up being used, such as getting some expensive clothes and armour with the intention of disguising themselves as nobles, and scouting out the Temple grounds. Other work they did, like learning that the crowd could be incited to riot, hiring a 'transporter', and finding Bertrand the merchant and figuring out how to make use of his contact with the college, were cobbled together to form their final plan.

I was pretty happy with their eventual plan of poisoning the whole college and then infiltrating the place as temp staff, as well as their clever use of the handkerchief of invisibility to get Morgana off the boat and to the bank.

The whole heist did come close to falling apart (as it happens in heist movies) when Malus was caught, but thanks to his tempering with the lock on the doors to the college's treasury, it was assumed that he was just a thief, and I did not have to put the whole college on alert or bring forward Morgana's plans to leave.

We are just one session away from ending the campaign, but unfortunately for us new COVID restrictions mean that we will not be able to meet again until at least the middle of June.

I hope to spend this time planning my next campaign, and perhaps put up a post about creating characters for that campaign for my players, and inviting my readers to create NPCs for the campaign too. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Games I Offer

Before COVID, I had the opportunity to GM for people at our local conventions. With restrictions having eased, I thought it would be timely to write a post about the games I can offer for the reference of convention and club organisers.

1. The Delivery Job

Rules: Savage Worlds Adventure Edition
Genre: Scif-fi, Space Opera 
Content Concern: Violence, Drug and Substance Abuse

Player characters are members of the Galactic Teamsters Guild - space truckers! Fly to exotic planets, meet interesting people, hand them their packages, and make sure they sign on the invoice!

Recommended for those who want a light-hearted game.

2. The Darkest Hour

Rules: Dragon Age RPG
Genre: Dark Fantasy 
Content Concern: Violence, Violence against children, Religion, Slavery

Player characters all meet at a tavern... where they are swept up in events that will force them to make a difficult moral decision.

Recommended for fans of the Dragon Age franchise.

3. A Shadow on the Mist

Rules: The Hero's Journey, Second Edition
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Content Concern: Violence

Set in Anglo-Saxon England during the time of the Viking invasion, the player characters must leave their village and journey into the unknown and towards their destiny.

Recommended for fans of The Last Kingdom.

All games are for up to 4 players. No experience is required - new players are welcomed.

Pre-generated characters, dice, and stationery are provided.

Combat will be played using figurines and battle-maps.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Blood Bowl 2021 League Round #4

Round 4 of the tournament saw my skavens face the dwarves once again, and they suffered a heavy defeat.

While I was able to score a touchdown in the first half, I was unable to stop the dwarves from equalising soon afterwards.

In the second half the dwarves scored a second touchdown. I started the fourth drive with only seven players, three having been killed and a fourth only narrowly escaping death thanks to the apothecary. I ran a Gutter runner deep into the dwarven half of the field, and held my thrower (who had possession of the ball) deep in my own half, hoping to do a last-turn pass and touchdown.

But he wasn't far back enough. Two dwarven runners charged my thrower, knocked him down, and one of them took possession of the ball and scored a third point for the dwarves.

This was a costly defeat for my team which will see me having to employ several journeymen the next game. At this point the dwarves have secured a place in the finals, and my skavens are struggling with the other two teams for a place. I will likely have to win the two remaining games in the preliminary round to qualify, and at the rate of casualty I am taking now, it will not be easy.

At the end of the fourth game, the standing is as follows:

Kazak Killers: 12

Badland Brawlers: 7

Skavenholme Scallywags: 4

Middenheim Marauders: 0

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Sorcery! 2 - Magical Murder Mansion Part 2

Our villains defeated the strange water being that rose out of the fountain, and retrieved the second gold key from inside it. Then, after taking a moment to catch their breaths, they entered the hedge maze, headed to the tower at its centre.

They soon realised that the strangling vines that formed the maze shifted constantly, making it easy to lose one's way, and as they wandered through the maze, they could hear the low bellow of a huge beast stalking them. Horovar used all his skills to try to guide the party safely to the tower, but eventually he realised that to reach the tower, they would have to face the beast stalking them.

Entering a small clearing that was before the tower, they came face to face with a minotaur. Zhora and Silent leapt into attack, while Penn held back, shooting arrows at the beast. Horovar stepped behind the hedges "to summon a creature" (see PC profiles here), and soon a wolf appeared and started attacking the minotaur too. After a hard fought battle the party slew the beast; the wolf departed, and Horovar rejoined the party.

Our villains bound their wounds, and stepped up to the tower's doors. They inserted the two golden keys they have found, turned them - the door opened. Inside, they found a spiral staircase leading upwards, and also to the basement, where they knew the vault was.

Climbing the stairs to the first storey, they found Goncol's alchemical laboratory. There, they found a large clear tank on a table in the centre of the room, and at the bottom of the tank laid a third key. Forewarned by the clues left by Goncol, the party approached cautiously, and was able to determine that the clear yellow liquid inside the tank was a strong acid. Using the glass apparatus within the lab, our villains removed much of the contents of the tank and pured them onto the stone floor, which corroded part of it. Eventually they were able to lower the level of the acid sufficiently to fish the key out with a wooden pole. They were now one key away.

Continuing upwards, our villains came into Goncol's library. Here were all manner of magical tomes, and also what appeared to be Goncol's autobiography, but no golden key.

The next floor held a large chamber, with arcane patterns carved onto the floor. Near the staircase was a silver whistle hanging on a wall hook. Zhora recognised the patterns as a summoning circle, and the party wisely decided to leave the room and press onwards.

As the party entered the highest floor, they found that the walls and roof of the room was transparent. This was Goncol's astrological observatory. In the centre of the room was an astronomical model of the planets. Through the walls of the observatory the party could see the eastern sky starting to turn light - they had little time left before the king's men could arrive.

Our villains searched the room, but could not find a key. Then Penn had an idea: what if the line from the clues left by Goncol:

The other is not found upon this Earth, to find it you must return to my birth

referred to the model's position?

The party moved the model to what the planets would have looked like on the day of Goncol's birth, based on the autobiography they found in the library. when they had done so, they heard the sound of a click, and one of the planet models opened up: inside was the fourth key.

Hurry to the basement, the party opened the steel door to the vault with their four keys. The vault consisted of three rooms. In the first were held mundane treasures. In the second were several magical items and spell components, which the party pocketed. In the final chamber there was a plinth, upon which was an ivory scroll case.

Despite promising not to open the case, Horovar decided to do so. Peering inside, he found a scroll. Removing the scroll from the case, they found that it was a letter, seemingly from the last king. On the back of the page they found a hurriedly scribbled reply (see here). Returning the scroll to the case, the party made their way back to the front gate, pausing briefly only for Horovar to start a fire inside the mansion. On their way back to the city they passed the king's men, who were riding quickly towards the plume of smoke that now issued from the mansion...

That evening the party met once more at The Hanged Man. 'V' turned up as promised, received the scroll case, and paid our villains. He then gave them their second mission: to kidnap Morgana the Arch-Sorceress.

The Arch-Sorceress, who now resided in the College of Sorcery in Arkleton, he explained, was scheduled to attend Goncol's funeral at the Grand Temple of Libra in two day's time. Thereafter she will return to her tower in the hills, which was guarded by sorcery and her personal army of Blackguards, and from which any attempt to capture her would be impossible. The party had but two days to capture her, and bring her to the docks at Arkleton, where they will deliver her to a waiting ship, and receive their reward.

'V' emphasised that she was to be captured alive for questioning, and handed them a silver torc which he told them was to be placed upon Morgana's neck to prevent her from using her magic, and then left.

Prepping and Running the Game

This session is of course a continuation of the module we started the session before, and we actually went on to play the start of the module for the second mission, but for narrative purpose I will write about that in the next post.

The exploration of the dungeon was a straightforward puzzle-dungeon.

The real trap of the dungeon was actually the summoning chamber. There was no reward to be had at the chamber, but I left the set-up temptingly obvious, in the hope that Horovar's player will simply not be able to resist blowing on the silver whistle, which would have summoned a monster which the party would have to defeat in combat, something which they were in no shape to do at that point in time. I was happy to be disappointed.

There were a couple of combats this session, both against "monsters", which meant that the rules for Parrying and Dodging were not applicable. As a result we were not able to experience the full potential of the Forbidden Lands combat system, which is one of the reasons why I decided to use the rules. The next module will feature human opponents, which will allow us to try them out, but as it will be a heist scenario, there is a chance that we may play through the whole mission without combat.

Overall I have been satisfied with the rules. There are limited healing options, and playing as written the party would have been unable to progress at all at some points. Fortunately we were playing a mission with a ticking clock, so I was able to make the ruling that they could heal up at the expense of time. This will probably be something I will do for the next module too.