Sunday, June 27, 2021

Blood Sword 5E Kickstarter

I got really excited about this kickstarter when I came across it a couple of weeks back.

I bought and played through all the gamebooks in the original series back in the 80s; although set in the Dragon Warriors world, I have always felt that the storyline was too fantastical (mythical?) compared to the world presented in the RPG books, which means that it may be a good fit with 5E rules?

It's been a while since I set a campaign in Legend - maybe this kickstarter will give me a reason to do that again.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #1

Captain's Log, T001*

Upon exiting the wormhole our ship was right away shaken by a series of impact, which we were able to determine to be from a drifting field of debris, consisting of ice and what appeared to be planetary fragments. As the debris were numerous and of mixed composition and scattered electromagnetic waves in a non-uniform fashion, we were unable to navigate through the debris field safely.

On Mr Stamper's advice I order boats to be launched from the ship to determine a safe path through the debris field and for crew upon them to place demolition charges to clear the larger pieces of debris. Due to the density of the debris, the operation necessitated the deployment of a broadcast relay boat to maintain communications between the ship and the boats.

Two hours into the operation, a demolition charge being placed by the crew on Boat 13 went off prematurely, causing the boat to lose power and spin out of control with three of the crew still tethered to its hull.

Before a rescue boat could be organised, the pilot of Boat 01 (which was serving as the broadcast relay and safety boat) Lieutenant Xebac disobeyed orders and started off to intercept Boat 13. Boat 01 was struck by a debris and Lieutenant Xebac was rendered unconscious, and the cockpit began to depressurise.

The remaining crew on Boat 01 responded to this unexpected series of events admirably: Crewman (Probationary) Ajax (of the Deck Department) sealed the breach in the cockpit, while Sergeant Ahab (of the Security Department) took control of the boat.

With the communication to the ship lost due to their movement, the crew of Boat 01 decided to continue the rescue effort on their own. Social Scientist Goldfone was able to located Boat 13, and Sergeant Ahab piloted the boat expertly, matching the spin of Boat 13 perfectly as he moved the two boats into contact and then gradually reduce the momentum to wind the tethers around the hulls of both boats. Scout Trooper Blake, Mr Ajax, and Mr Goldfone were then able to recover the crew of Boat 13 into Boat 01, where they were given medical aid by Corpsman Wootue.

The crew of Boat 01 - excepting Lieutenant Xebac -were given commendations for their action, and Mr Ajax was formally inducted to the crew of the ship and was granted full crew privileges. Lieutenant Xebac was put on report for his actions.

Having cleared the debris field, Astrography was able to determine that we were in the Tadpole Galaxy, having emerged at the end of the shorter spiral arm, and that the transit, while it took merely two minutes for us, had in fact taken 294 days.

Tadpole Galaxy, some 420 million light years from our galaxy

It was further determined that there were multiple sources of psionic emanations from many parts of the galaxy, with the most prominent coming from the 'tail' end of the galaxy. While the journey to the tail end could be made in 10 weeks at maximum speed, after conferring with the Mission Command team, the decision was taken to take the safer course and to travel to the main body of the galaxy in short jumps, and to gather intelligence and replenish our fuel, water, and food as the opportunities presented themselves.

At Astrography's recommendation, our next waypoint will be a strong radio signal 50 parsecs from our current location, which they have named Radio Source Vilaakasii.

Captain's Log, T010

We completed our survey of the Vilaakasii region today, and are making preparations to jump to our next waypoint. Exploration of the systems QVS-88 and QVS-122 had revealed two terrestrial planets that once supported life - in the case of QVS-122 a pre-hyperspace civilisation - and which should by all accounts still support life. While the mass extinction of life on the two planets can be explained by the supernova event that resulted in the Vilaakasii black hole, Life Sciences Department cannot explain why life had not re-emerged on these planets after 800,000 years. We are awaiting the results of Social Sciences Officer Dr Gregrorio Tsoukalos' field-survey.

* - for this series I will employ this dating convention to indicate days after the transit through the wormhole.

Prepping and Running the Game

The start of a new campaign is always exciting for me as a GM, although my first sessions are usually a little stilted as I try to get back into rhythm.

I was aware that the first session would be a lot of talking and a little playing, as there was a lot of scene-setting and plot exposition to be done, plus a player who is new to both the backstory and the Savage Worlds system.

My general plan is to run the campaign more or less in the order of the module, but to fit my backstory, I had to make the part of the galaxy that the ship first pass through a dead zone. This meant no discovery of alien species, and of course no interaction or combat with them. To inject some action into the session, I lifted an incident from Book 3 and used it as my first action scene.

I am gratified that the players responded admirably, and took the opportunity to roleplay their new characters: Ajax being super-eager to prove himself a useful member of the crew, Goldfone making wisecracks, and Ahab taking command of the situation like a marine sergeant - the boat rescue episode will remain one of the memorable stories in my career as a GM.

I had the opportunity to introduce quite a few NPC crew members this session, some of whom were created by friends and fellow forummers. I expect that over the next few session a few of them will become "crowd favourites" and recurring NPCs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Space Opera Season 3: Deepnight Revelation

This week, our group returned to our Space Opera campaign, which I have been planning for before the last session of the previous season ended.

(You can read about Season 2 of the campaign here.)

The basis for this campaign is Deepnight Revelation, an epic Mongoose Traveller campaign which seems to dovetail with our campaign so far. As we have two new players in our group whom I wanted to introduce to the campaign, I decided to employ troupe play with the players from the previous campaigns playing their old characters, plus a new, less experienced character, and for the new players to play new characters too.

For rules I stuck with Savage Worlds, which has served us well so far. The SW rules are nowhere as detailed or "hard" as Traveller, but I suspect even if we were using Traveller rules I would still be playing fast and loose.

I imagine the campaign to play like episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, with the players playing the main characters, and with a cast of recurring NPC crew members.

In our version of the campaign, we follow the mission of the starship Deepnight Revelation as it travels through the wormhole to reach the galaxy which the Grens have come from, and as they explore that galaxy with the goal to end the Gren threat if possible. The Deepnight Revelation has a crew of close to 500, and so I employed the help of my friends, readers, and fellow forummers to create character concepts for the crew. I will introduce them as they appear in the story.

For the main cast (NPCs in italics), we have:


Captain Beverly Reid, human, United Confederation - Previously on a career path to become the captain of a carrier, she gave up her plan to become captain of the Deepnight Revelation when she learned about the mission.

Commander Zruke, Rakashan, Tazanian Empire - Previously in command of a Tazanian troop ship, Commander Zruke was accused of cowardice during the Gren Wars and stripped of his commission. He was invited to command a Tazanian "freikorps" ship and distinguished himself in that role, eventually participating in the Battle for Earth. When Captain Beverly Reid was given command of the Deepnight Revelation, she requested for Zruke as her First Officer, and Zruke was re-commissioned and assigned to the ship.

Mission Officer Nick Johnson, human, Neutral Zone - Ex-cop from the United Confederation who fled to the Neutral Zone after being falsely accused for the murder of his wife.

Mission Officer Kumra Ka'an, space yeti, Neutral Zone - A former criminal, Kumra Ka'an was captain of The Magpie until its destruction on Pallas during the Battle for Earth.

Mission Officer RB-62, re-programmed droid, Neutral Zone - RB left his leadership position in the Robot Collective to join his old crew on Deepnight Revelation.

Mission Officer AJ Stamper, human, Neutral Zone - A former space-miner and a demolition expert.


Petty Officer Jet Black, human, Neutral Zone - A crew of The Magpie, Jet left the Teamsters Guild to join the Deepnight mission as an engineering team leader.


Marine Sergeant Ahab, Rakashan, Tazanian Empire - A marine and a veteran of the Gren War.

Marine Scout-Trooper Blake, human, Neutral Zone - 

Lieutenant (Doctor) Cho Sen Wan, human, United Confederation - Trained as a surgeon, Lieutenant Cho is also a taekwondo practitioner.

Lieutenant Junior Grade (Doctor) Balilaika, human, United Confederation -

Crewman Ajax, Serran, Neutral Zone - His application to join the mission having been rejected due to the lack of  any outstanding talent, Ajax successfully stowed-away on the Deepnight Revelation. When he was discovered, he was assigned as probationary crew in the Deck Department.


Social Science Officer Gregorio Tsoukalos, human (?), United Confederation - Xeno-archaeologist and head of the Social Science Department.

Social Scientist Ippy Goldfone, human, Neutral Zone - A social media celebrity and communications equipment expert who joined the Deepnight Revelation mission to rescue his waning career.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sorcery! 2 - The Jailbreak Job

Three days after their successful kidnapping of Morgana, Horovar, Penn, Silent, and Zhora were on their way east in a mule-cart, disguised as salted-fish merchants. Malus, Zul, Gearfried, and Zamm remained in Arkleton, waiting for instructions for their next job from V.

The party's destination was a little fishing village three days from the capital, where they would find and kill Glowulf, who had returned to his home village to become a simple fisherman.

Arriving late at night on the third day, they were taken into the home of the village headman, who fed them and offered them accommodation for the night. The party's inquisitiveness made the headman suspicious, and after he left them for the night, Horovar and Penn followed him secretly, and found that he had gone to tip Glowulf off at his fishing hut. Glowulf thanked the headman, and requested that the villagers not intervene if the was any trouble.

Returning to the hall, our villains decided to launch an attack on Glowulf's home. Entering the hut simultaneously from the front and back doors, they found the place in darkness. Penn shot an arrow into the bedroll in the corner... and heard the arrow sink into the wooden floor with a dull thud.

At the same time, two figures entered the room from the back door: it was Glowulf and Valerian. The two demanded to know who had sent our villains on their mission, but they were in no mood to talk. A melee ensued, and Glowulf was cut down and decapitated, while Valerian was knocked unconscious and taken prisoner. By now the commotion had drawn the attention of the villagers, who crowded around the hut with their improvised weapons. The party threatened to kill Valerian if they villagers did not disperse, but they did not comply - it was only when Penn and Horovar slew a few of them that the rest fled, allowing our villains to get away.

Our villains now made their way westward, towards Arkleton, with Glowulf's head in a bag and Valerian bound. On the second day they were overtaken by mounted guards dressed in the livery of Arkleton, coming from the east. The guards attempted to arrest our villains for the murders they committed in the fishing village, but they were not about to give themselves up without a fight. After a short, sharp fight, the four guards were dead, and Horovar laid gravely wounded on the ground. Valerian asked to be untied so he could aid the barbarian, and was unbound.

As he tended to Horovar's wounds, Valerian revealed that he had remained in Arkleton incognito after escaping from Goncol's laboratory, but had come to the fishing village to warn Glowulf after he learnt of Goncol's death and Morgana's kidnapping - whoever was responsible for those acts no doubt wanted them silenced for their part in their mission twenty years ago. As their mission was known only to few who were closest to the late king, whoever sent them would have to be someone high in the kingdom's hierarchy. And just as they were being silenced, Valerian warned the party, they were now probably being set up by whomever had sent the guards from Arkleton. Horovar, Silent, Zhora, and Valerian took the guards' clothes and horses, and with Penn driving the mule-cart, they returned to Arkleton.

When they returned to their respective inns, our villains learned that their companions had been arrested in the night they day after they had left by city guards, and were now held at the guard-house of the Fourteenth precinct.

Realising that whomever sent the guards after them would soon learn that they had failed in their mission, our villains decided to break their companions out of the jail immediately.

Penn started a fire in a neighbouring precinct, and an alarm was raised, drawing some of the guards from the Fourteenth there. Then, returning to the Fourteenth precinct, he shot the guard in the tower with a well-aimed arrow. Still in their guises as city guards, Horovar, Zhora, and Silent entered the guard-house, and struck down the guard at the front. The guard captain was similarly struck down when he emerged from his room, taken by surprise. The party entered the dungeon below the guard-house to find the last guard cowering in a corner - he was despatched, and his keys taken.

The party quickly located and freed Malus, Zul, Gearfried, and Zamm - bruised but still alive. When they emerged from the guard-house, they found Valerian on the street, and the bodies of two bounty-hunters behind him - someone had hired them to lie in wait for the party.

Now convinced that they would not be safe in the city, or indeed Analand, our villains decided to flee the city on their stolen horses - but where will they go? Perhaps, Horovar suggested, they will find safety in Mampang?

Prepping and Running the Game

After weeks of lockdown, we were finally able to play the conclusion of our Sorcery! campaign.

I was hoping that the revelation that Valerian was still alive would cause the players to question their mission, but as they were already suspecting that V was not in fact Valerian, they decided to complete their mission and kill Glowulf anyway. Fortunately for me, they decided to spare Valerian - why kill someone if you are not getting paid for it, right? - and that gave me a way to carry on the story.

The guards sent to arrest the party were supposed to arrive at the village in the morning, when it was expected that they would be fresh from their battle with Glowulf and therefore wounded or exhausted and therefore easy prey. Unfortunately for me the players decided to arrive late at night, and aroused suspicion with their questioning of the headman, and thus threw everything off.

The second half of the session was based on the Dusk City Outlaws module The Jailbreak Job. The modules in the series are short - 4 pages of text in this case - but provide enough information for the GM to run a full session. They are worth a look if you are running a campaign for a party of rogues or evil/not-quite-legal characters.

The campaign ended with some unresolved plot threads, which will allow us to have another sequel campaign in the future. Will the party flee to Mampang? Will they learn the true identity of V? Only time will tell...