Ghostbusters in Boston

I was in Boston meeting Miller and Bryan for the first time in person (as well as some of Miller’s friends.) This is the Ghostbusters game we played. The players built their franchises and their characters, which was at least as fun as the adventure itself.

The national Ghostbusters franchise (with Cora Smythe, director) has an annual Spengler Paranormal Elimination and Study Conference (SPEC). The theme this year was “Best Practices” with the informal objective of working on grant proposals to get funding to investigate why the ectoplasmic tides are rising worldwide. Boston was selected as the host city and franchise.

Three franchises sent reps to the conference.

Boston Ghostbusters

Their logo added a bowtie to the caught ghost. Their version of the theme song is performed by a string quartet.

They get around in a Mercedes G Wagon that has shrink-wrapped back-up jumpsuits in case they need to talk to people and have gotten messy–image is important. (The back door has a mirror so they can get the look ‘just so.’) The jumpsuits are black, with embroidered faux tuxedo black and white.

The main base is out on the sea fort, with a 1 car boat ferry. The containment unit for the ghosts is underwater, for security reasons.

They are on civic probation because the mayor’s son wants his own paranormal elimination franchise, and the Ghostbusters are competition, so one slip and the mayor is eager to shut them down. Their main defense is their reputation as completely competent ghost eliminators; no repeat business with them.

They are also on probation with the franchise licensing, because there are rumors they have indulged in “frightening”; releasing ghosts, then showing up and making a big deal of capturing them, to look like heroes and bilk the gullible of cash.

Jeraldo (pronounced ‘Heraldo’) is their gear maintenance expert, staff, and butler. He is a dignified Latin American butler with crisp manners and attention to detail.

Their presentation at the conference was going to be the metrics for how to measure the efficacy of a ghost capture field, and how to adjust and modulate how information is recorded to refine and improve the function of the traps themselves.

  • Theodore Biltmore (Kay) is totally by the book, local expert for tech and gear and also their occult scholar, into the crystals and moldy books. 3
  • Michael Masterson (Mark) is also into regulations, but he takes point on missions and serves as the team’s diplomat–talking to people. 3

Salem Ghostbusters

Their logo mounts the captured ghost on a broomstick. They are based in the Peabody Essex Museum. Rather than having an emergency vehicle, they have special permits for public transit systems, combined with collapsible Segue backpacks.

Salem is a problem, mounted on a trouble spot where supernatural energies converge. That keeps the supernatural threat level high enough to keep the franchise in business. They also rely on grant money, as they are a start-up out of MIT, part of a business incubator model.

They are on civic probation and franchise probation because of what happened to Trevor, last Halloween.

We don’t talk about what happened to Trevor.

Their presentation at the conference was going to be on city wide wards; apparently the light rail system was put in by an occultist, and with some supplemental flourishes, it serves as a massive restraining system to keep the energies under Salem in check. What can we learn about that so we can use it in other cities?

  • Quincy Hamilton (Anthony) is a savvy tech and gear man who runs point on missions. 2
  • Marco Peabody Essex (Miller) is a rebel, who handles the driving and finances for his team. 5

St. Louis Ghostbusters

Their logo puts the caught ghost in the St. Louis Arch. This hard-living franchise of paranormal exterminators is a family affair that used to be a laundry business, transitioning with the last of their funds to paranormal elimination (and dry cleaning). They still use the old laundry and the delivery truck for their new business.

Their funding stream is limited, so most of the gear is repurposed and doesn’t fit (and sometimes doesn’t work at all.) While they are resourceful and “out of the box thinkers” they have an uneasy relationship with the city because they blew up the St. Louis Arch–it may be the Gateway to the West, but a massive Ghost Dance on the plains sent shadowy herds of buffalo and long-gone warriors stampeding towards the real world through the gate, and they had to be stopped.

Ma runs the office and keeps the books, the biggest fan of her wayward boys, and a vicious combatant when faced with bureaucratic hurdles. (Before she married into the family, she was a bail bondsman.)

Their presentation at the conference was going to be on “practical ghostbusting” on a budget, with whatever materials were on hand. They didn’t even make a PowerPoint.

  • Cecil Howard (Bryan) is a hotshot always showing off what he can do with the tech and gear, and also serving as the enforcer if anything gets out of hand. 5
  • Morrigan Murphy (Dachary) was a hotshot too, always showing off, and the fixer who could find anyone or anything in St. Louis. She also ran point on the team missions. 3

The Conference

The day before, when Director Smythe arrived, she observed that they didn’t have sufficient space and energy supply for the convention at their current venue. Biltmore and Masterson scrambled, leaning on a local warehouse owner they’d serviced, and they got the whole conference rearranged in a brick building in Seaport that was adequate for the conference needs.

At the conference, they met Dylan Smunter, EPA oversight (outgoing supervision for Ghostbusters) and they also met the Department of Energy liaison who would be taking over. Things were going pretty well at the conference, the first presentation was smooth. That’s when they got the call from Boston HQ.

The Call

After the first presentation was over, they got a call from Jerald that there was an emergency just four blocks away; a class 3 apparition, potentially, and some class 2s and maybe even a few class 1s. Like some sort of warehouse rave for the undead.

Boston Ghostbusters quickly compelled the St. Louis Ghostbusters to put on their embroidered tux jumpsuits (“If you operate in our town, you must look the part,”) and while St. Louis and Boston headed down on the G Wagon, Salem sent their fancy drone ahead, with Hamilton piloting and Essex running the sensor array.

The first wave of Boston Ghostbusters went in; one was startled while taking readings, he fell and broke his arm. He made it out to the parking lot as they arrived, and said his partner was still in the warehouse; he made eye contact with something in there and he was just counting his fingers over and over again, totally freaked out.

They called in an ambulance, then the 4 Ghostbusters headed in cautiously. They were connected with the Salem Ghostbusters by tactical network, so they got some intelligence about what the drone was seeing.

Apparently there were a number of shambling level 1 spirits, but those were harmless (if startling) echoes of the dead. There were also 3 furtively moving level 2 spirits, more aggressive and aware but unable to do much more than jump scares and minor telekinesis. But somewhere in the static there might be something bigger.

They saw the level 1s, looked like normal people who died around this area over time. When they faced a level 2, it seemed to be wearing some sort of tattered prison uniform; they put it down with ropy cables of charged neutrinos, sort of sawing a boat in half and cutting a hole in the roof before getting a bead on the ghost.

Then the first wave Ghostbuster who lost his cool and was counting his fingers was executed. They turned to see the level 3 apparition, wearing combat fatigues and a gas mask (but missing legs.) The ghost had a machete that had a distressingly real edge.

As they brought their weapons to bear, it escaped, and they began a cat and mouse hunt through the warehouse. As this went on, the Salem Ghostbusters continued fine-tuning their instruments, and they saw a line of energy emanating from somewhere, feeding into the warehouse–as though ghosts were being transmitted there, or woken there. Using the drone’s fast flying capability, they traced the line of energy , zooming out over the open sea.

Meanwhile Biltmore found the ghost when it hurled its machete and pinned him to the wall through his shoulder bones. The others opened up, and managed to restrain the powerful ghost in a trap; the whole area went slack, the other ghosts vanishing.

The drone closed in on a lighthouse, where some paramilitary operatives were approaching the island in a speedboat. The drone got a good look as they ran in, shutting down the power on the transmission, and hauling the gear out to the boat. It looked like the work of Sal Godowski, a Russian scientist with some pretty unethical ideas about ghosts who was legally banned from working on the technology about ten years ago. As for the employees and speedboat, the drone took lots of pictures before it reached the end of its flight time and had to return or be lost.

The Ghostbusters got medical care for those who needed it, and the conference could go on, but there were dark questions raised about whether that haunting was intentional or not, and whether it was intended as some kind of sick test. The story was just beginning!

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Monster NPC decks are out!

I did the writing for these, and I think they are really neat! It is an interesting challenge to set a baseline and throw out hooks for a GM to work with, all in the space of the back of a card. Read the samples to see how it works.

http://www.rpgnow.com/product/207139/NPC-Portraits-Deck-Monsters

monster npcs

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Chaos Monks, Archives of the Yak Coven

Paito (Simon) and Karasu (Shaun) stayed in Kuan Loon with their three hobgoblin mercenaries. Choy Crabbreaker (Iris) wasn’t there, having been distracted in the Palace of the Red Glove. Weighing the relative benefits of going back to the shrine of law or investigating how to join the Society of Small Swords or do something else, they decided to look into the Society.

Nessie (Kristy), Yoya (Mark), and Kang (Michael) were recent arrivals in Kuan Loon, and they had an all-night dominoes game where they won and lost many strange things and ended up with no money and a sort of random assortment of gear. They too decided to look into membership with the Society of Small Swords.

Joining the Society of Small Swords

The Society was hosting a demonstration, where some of their members would do acrobatic shows and feats of derring do before a crowd in a courtyard of their compound. At the show, Yoya did some pickpocketing while the others watched the performance and then sought out the Master of Arms, Ruten.

Ruten told them that he had some work for those not associated with the Society, and gave instruction to meet him at a lean-to stable after the show. They did, and he led them by a back way to a tower where they could talk privately.

The Society’s treasurer, Jusa, has turned up missing. Ruten privately suspects the Transcendent Yack Philosophical Coven of abducting him somehow; the Coven’s focus of study is the 1001 Pagodas, and there is some paranoia between the Society and the Coven because of COURSE the Society does not share all secrets with them. The Coven has so much research and such that they have sprawling galleries that no one visits any more.

Ruten asked the monks to infiltrate the Coven by going into a shrine’s basement and finding the secret passage, then getting into the archives from there and finding their way to where the prisoner might be kept.

They agreed to look into it, and Ruten directed them to the shrine of one of the Nine Benevolent Gods, Death.

Into the Archives

They went into the shrine and searched it, eventually finding a secret passage revealed by touching the lotus carving so a door by the frieze opened. Two of the armored hobgoblins were too big to fit through the narrow opening, so they took one down. His name was Juju.

In the shadowed room below, they found some feral barbarian hobgoblins, and before a fight broke out Juju communicated with them in their own foul language. They took a shine to the intruders, once they realized the intruders weren’t here for them, and they led the monks through several galleries to the edge of their territories.

Along the way they saw whole libraries ruined by book slug nests, and rippling pools of standing water long undisturbed, and sagging architecture forgotten by time.

Eventually they reached the edge of the barbarian squatter territory. They thanked their guides, and squeezed under the half-down rusted portcullis, triggering a trap that Yoya neatly evaded. Careful, they continued on not knowing the way.

They felt a vibration through the stone, and found a large chamber where massive bees (bodies the size of a human torso) were building a comb. They decided the honey was not worth the risk, and they took the long way around.

Bandits

They heard voices, and Yoya snuck ahead to find bandits planning a score. He returned to the others, and everyone approached, but they made enough noise to alert the bandits; all 8 of them charged the monks, who fell back into a hallway. Nessie had two long spears, so she loaned one out and two of the monks fought from the second rank as the bandits charged in.

Juju was in the front rank with Karasu, but he was hacked down in the battle. The rest of the monks survived the clash, leaving six bandits dead; the two leaders declined to fill in as others died in the gory hallway, and they retreated.

The monks examined the maps and papers, finding they were old maps of part of the archives, all imperfect. But the bandits had marked where they were, and where the back door to the Yak compound was, and where the treasure room was, though they needed a whistle to get there.

They treated wounds, then took the maps and headed for the back door to the Coven’s headquarters, pretty sure the Coven hired these bandits for muscle.

The Back Door

They found the heavy reinforced door, and debated how to get through. First they would take out the door keeper; Nessie poised one of her spears by the view slot, and they knocked on the door. The slot slid open, and Kang used his Shadow Bolt to kill the guard (the spear wasn’t needed.)

[Shadow Bolt. The monk fires magic into his or her shadow, and the bolt comes out of the shadow of a target within 30 feet who is touching his or her shadow, hitting automatically for 1d6 damage per level.]

The door was still locked. They took the lamp by the door and doused the oil on the heavy wood, but that burned off to no effect. Then they took drills and bored holes, hoping to get at the cross bar so they could lift it from the outside; after almost an hour of effort, nothing had yet succeeded.

Unfortunately a massive pack of short, cone-headed critters had come out of a nearby tunnel, and settled in, throwing weird curses and arrows at the hard-pressed monks.

Angry and desperate, Karasu led the others in an effort to just batter the door down, trusting to their might and powers of entropy to destroy the barrier. Hurling themselves at the barrier hard enough to bloody it, the monks took turns banging into it while the others traded shots with the vicious chittering mob lurking behind mounds of trash and rocks in the lower tunnel.

At the last moment, they broke through the door, and they piled in slamming it shut behind them.

The Treasure Room

Feeling vulnerable because of their injuries, they decided rather than trying to bluff or chop their way out through the Coven above, they’d take their chances with the treasure room; the dead door guard had a robe, a ring of keys, and a whistle! Paito put on the robe, and gripped the whistle in his teeth, and held up his shield, then they all went back out.

Sure enough, the whistle chased away the short and vicious trash-dwellers. They followed the map to the treasure room, and used a key to open it. They found Jusa there, surprised to see them but eager to leave.

They loaded themselves down with 400 copper pieces, 1,100 silver pieces, 400 gold pieces, a fantastical jade orb the size of a baby’s head, and a charm shaped like a fist.

They retraced their steps out past the trash-dweller territory, following the map towards where an exit should be. Sure enough, they climbed out to the street, and no one dared interfere with the battered but numerous group as they returned directly to the compound of the Small Swords Society. Delighted to see Jusa, the guards let them in immediately.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Ruten was so pleased with their work that he offered to fence their goods for free, and even do money changing to denominations they preferred without taking a cut. The jade orb was worth 2,400 gold pieces. A sleepy sage identified the lucky charm as a Lucky Charm of Never Letting Go (61). They split the loot, and broke the news of Juju’s death to Ko-gi, the leader of the hobgobins (who broke his sword to a shortsword and kept it.)

yoon-suin
META REFLECTIONS

We left the carousing and shopping and so forth for next session. This game is a turducken of awesome, with Yoon-Suin as the frame, and Kwantoom as a walled city within the Yellow City on the God River, and Maze Rats as the rules and magic. This session, the 3 new characters hit second level, and one of the two second level characters hit third level (and the other one might through carousing.)

I generated the characters’ social circles and rumors and known associates and all as suggested by Yoon Suin, but instead of data-dumping that all on the players, I’m using that as my guideline for putting together adventures.

For example, the Small Swords Society has a missing treasurer, and is in a paranoid relationship with the Transcendent Yak Philosophical Coven; rather than just telling them that, their first mission is to rescue the missing treasurer from the Coven. I immediately use the sprawling unvisited archives as the adventure site, and introduce them to two of the three important characters in the Society while also laying the groundwork for pagoda visits.

This way, if they take an unexpected bounce I’ve got my club fighting groups and rumors and significant NPCs and so forth ready to improvise, but I can also present them paths forward that will reveal these elements of the setting and connect them to characters. That’s pretty cool.

Here is my updated setting document. Yoon-Suin Background 2

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Chaos Monks, First Session

“Chaos Monks” is a turducken of awesome. Take the Mad Monks of Kwantoom, make it a walled off city within the Yellow City at the mouth of the God River in Yoon-Suin, then use the Maze Rats rule set to run it.yoon-suin

We started out with three characters. Chi-Ling (Iris) and Paito (Simon) were counterfeiters with a well-run operation, and Tai Shiro Long (Shaun) was the street performer who was a lookout on the street outside. The authorities arrested them and threw them in the dungeon, and in the same dungeon a warlock finished his incantations scrawled on the walls of his cell and summoned a demon. In the resulting chaos explosion, only these three survived, and they were changed  somewhat by the experience.

Now when things are too orderly they feel a pressure, an irritation and pain, like tinnitus, that ebbs in the presence of chaos and swells in the presence of law. Our game starts with them camped by a shrine to the Dreaming One, a god-like kraken that lives in the Azure Sea beyond the Gulf of Morays. He squats, with a tentacled face and stubby folded wings, and near that statue the noise of Law is blessedly quiet.

cthulhu0031As for the equipment, they were heading towards being blackout drunk when a nearby pawn shop had a going-out-of-business sale, and when they regained their senses, they had a variety of treasures that they JUST HAD TO HAVE the night before–lengths of chain, handfuls of iron spikes, a packet of medicine, and so on.

Choyshu, the First Crappy Village

They stroll in to see some local grubby bullies from a martial arts school beating up on one of the monk pilgrims. Chi-Ling brashly pushed through the middle of the knot of bullies to get to the well, while the others circled around, but now they had the bully’s attention.

So the martial artist says something rude, and Tai Shiro Long just unloads on him and destroys his head with a brutal martial arts assault. Abandoning the pilgrims, the bullies whipped our their weapons and attached the chaos monks, killing Tai Shiro Long immediately.

Witnessing this death was oddly liberating and transformative to one of the pilgrims, Karasu (Shaun), who leaped into the fray. The three chaos monks slew the martial arts bullies without a scratch (if you don’t count poor Tai Shiro Long.) Karasu took Tai’s gear.

The townspeople celebrated, relieved to be free of the martial arts school bullies, and they gave the chaos monks a feast (though the mayor did observe that to prevent a ghost from rising, it would be an expensive 1 gp funeral for each corpse.) They couldn’t pay for that, but the mayor said he’d cover it if they’d help his cousin, who was the mayor of a coastal village one day’s travel away. They agreed.

A Rough Night

That night they bedded enthusiastic locals in the barn. Paito had a great night, as did Karasu–but Karasu’s lover was in a relationship with a burly woman who came after him with a pitchfork, and he managed to evade that situation while the cheating woman tried to get her lover to calm down.

Chi-Ling was not so fortunate. She woke up with no clothes or gear. Her fellow monks helped her cobble an outfit together, and asked around to find out her lover was Choy, the miller. They grimly headed to the mill-pond.

Choy was wearing Chi-Ling’s fancy clothes and practicing with her fang staff, feeling very smug about his theft. Chi-Ling charged him, but missed, and as he ran she chased him until she had him cornered–and he stabbed her right through the heart with her own fang staff.

As she fell, something snapped in Choy’s long-suffering wife (Iris), who saw this transpire from inside the house. She had enough of her cheating man! She caught up the cleaver she’d been using to prepare the duck, and ran from the house, assaulting Choy. He managed to dodge her attacks, and with a swipe, he cut her down too!

Surrounded by dead women, he felt a change come over him, a strange openness to chaos. He appealed to the other monks, he could go with them, as their numbers were down and he couldn’t stay here after this. They shrugged and agreed, eating Choy’s wife’s food before taking Choy (Iris) with them on the road (still wearing the dead monk’s fancy ladyclothes and carrying her fang staff.) Let the mayor provide a funeral for two more corpses.

Sazhang, the Second Crappy Village

They arrived at a tent settlement at a crossroads, and found it was the village of Sazhang but moved two miles inland and living in tents. They saw the mayor from the last town, but it wasn’t him, it was his cousin, the mayor of this town.

He told them that a big specimen of crabbish (crab man) had wrecked their fishing boats and trashed their houses, and now guarded their village’s strip of beach so crabs could thrive there. They agreed to sort it out–in the morning. So the mayor let them sleep in a hunter’s tent. He was their best hunter, but a snake got him in the jungle that morning, so his tent was available.

The next morning they headed to the beach. First Paito talked to the mayor, asking for rags and oil so he could make flaming arrows. The mayor gave him a sack of dirty undergarments and a bottle of oil, so Paito made some oil (and mayor) soaked arrowhead wrappings.

They saw the wrecked houses and boats, and crabs scuttling everywhere. Paito’s plan was to climb up in the highest house wreckage and cover the other two, while they lured the crabbish out of hiding by starting a fire near the waterfront using the rest of the oil and rags.

Crabbish

By Cedric Plante

 

So as Choy and Karasu walked along the waterline, Paito climbed up to the only second-story wreckage and kept an eye out. He saw the crabbish approach from the water, then breach, roaring, to charge. Paito loosed arrows at it while the other two ran to find netting in the wrecked fishing boats to help slow this thing down. The crabbish (who had gems glinting in its carapace) started battering the ruined house so Paito shot a few arrows, then slid down from the high point using his rope. As he sprinted through the wrecked village, the infuriated crabbish chased him, while the other monks were safely out of range at the waterfront.

 

Which was the exact OPPOSITE of Paito’s plan.

He ran out of village wreckage to duck through, ending the crabbish’s disadvantage to shear him in half with its massive claws. However, the other monks found netting by this point,and hurled it over the crabbish. Choy used his fancy footwork and fast hands to loop netting over broken stumps of house pylons, while Karasu flexed his mighty muscles. Together, they distracted and slowed the crabbish as it continued trying to kill Paito.

As the crabbish bucked and struggled to tear the net and escape, they sensed the ghostly hands of the fisherman who wove the net (and was killed by the crabbish) helping hold it together, aiding them as they sought vengeance for his death. (Just some flavor when the dice were lucky.)

But the net couldn’t hold, and as the crabbish furiously wrecked everything around it, they fell back for a moment before closing in for the final flurry of violence that slew the massive beast. They wasted no time in prizing the gems out of its shell.

By the time they fetched the village to enjoy the feast, the crabs had swarmed the crabbish and eaten most of it; but they were easy to catch by the bucketful, so everyone still feasted. And the monks offered up a ritual to help those slain on the beach rest easy.

The Shrine of Order

They bought bows and arrows with some of the spoils, and headed onward. One night they all had bad dreams of a very tidy shrine, and its very orderly guardian, harshing the organic churning of their thoughts with painful pattern and rigidity. As they discussed this dream in the morning, finding that they all had the same dream, the innkeeper told them about a nearby Shrine of Order with its guardian of law. They decided they needed to take a look.

warrior-of-orderA perfumed eunuch from Kwantoom was going there too, taking an important message and flanked by guards. They steered clear of him, approaching from the bog side, infiltrating and using the grappling hook and rope to climb up on the wall.

They saw the four shrine servants, and the armored champion of law doing katas in heavy armor while the bored eunuch waited to talk to him. But we can’t disrupt the schedule, can we?!

They got out their bows, and lined up to fire in ambush all at once. They loosed the shafts, which sailed through the air but were subverted by the forces of order, landing around the champion in a perfect triangle of misses!

The chaos monks just couldn’t handle it, so they scarpered down the rope and retreated into the swamp, shaken by their brush with order that overwhelmed their puny resistance.

Kwantoom

kwantoomThey arrived in Kwantoom. Ever the thrifty sorts, they headed to Kuan Loon, the trashed and poor part of the city. Trying a shortcut through a basement (they could see light on the other side, what could be the harm?) they disturbed a nest of cobras. Fortunately they were able to back out carefully, and not engage.

Karasu chatted up a visiting mercenary who was familiar with the area, asking after where they could buy makeup (because Choy Crabbreaker wanted some.) The friendly mercenary directed them to the Palace of the Red Glove, on the other side of the fighting pits.

While they headed that way, a cabbage merchant’s cart broke, spilling cabbages everywhere. They jumped back, but bumped into three seriously ugly warriors, who snarled at them in a language they didn’t understand. Karasu managed to stare them down without escalating to violence, and they decided they liked him. They gave him a medallion that matched their sword hilts; even though he didn’t speak their language (and wasn’t sure what they were) he was their new boss.

They bought some drinks in the Palace of the Red Glove, and while Choy was getting makeup and new clothes, the bartender explained to Karasu that his new friends were hobgoblins, and he was their mercenary boss–and good luck.

Maybe it was time to return to the Shrine of Order.

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Guns of Telluria: The Rising

greater kc rpg day I ran a session of Guns of Telluria (Into the Odd) for the game day. I barely managed two players, and in the afternoon I had no players.

  • “Jeb.” (Shaun) He was recon in the army, but since he quietly left without saying goodbye, he didn’t share his name around. He was a survivor of the death run on the Soot King in Topeka; best let everyone think he died. He also had a porter, Jim Jackson, a man with a great mustache.
  • Peter Henson. (Jason) This poor bastard was experimented on by the fey, they rendered his skin translucent so they could see what was going on in there. He’s still kind of see-through, which people find off-putting.

These veterans of the Tellurian War met up and travel together, both finding some companionship in the other despite their various troubles. In September 1922, they headed to the town of Pralis–or more accurately, to the tent city called Refuge, where the inhabitants of Pralis went for about a week.

The Rising

Every two years the fish people rise out of the lake and kill everything in Pralis, torching the buildings and running amok. The town developed a response of leaving for that easily predictable weekend, then returning after the fish folk slope off under the water, safe for a couple more years.

They headed to Pralis because Peter’s twin brother Arthur lives in town. Arthur was the only one in Peter’s family who knows he’s still alive. Also, “Jeb” knew the mayor from way back, and he got a telegram that the mayor wanted his help.

Refuge

They arrived in the tent city, riding past the fire-and-brimstone tent revival led by Solomon Davis, who was preaching that this attack was just a front, and followers of Dagon (both fish-person and human like) were having big orgies under the cover of violence–he would take volunteers in to root out that abomination!

They also rode past Gabriella Turnstile’s camp. Her rich uncle’s will specified she could only take possession of the mansion and wealth if she did so during the Rising, so she was hiring defenders at $10 each (and the veterans signed on. They were going into town anyway, so why not?)

Finally, they got into the camp proper and found where Arthur’s tent was set up by his neighbors in town. He had not arrived, however. The neighbor girl, Minnie May from across the way, speculated he headed off to make sure the girl he was sweet on, a ceramics sculptor, was safe and he got caught in the Rising.

Meanwhile Jeb talked to the mayor, who tasked him with figuring out where these fish people were coming from so they could launch some sort of counter-attack when the time was right. And, also, to check on his inlaws in the stone tavern in the center of town; they fortified their place and refused to evacuate. Jeb saw the rolling armory, and met the sheriff, and was generally sworn in to help the town out.

Into Pralis

The next morning they traveled into Pralis with the fortified coach. They got a short distance into town when they were spotted by fish people, who attacked in force. Jeb was scouting ahead, but he managed to get back to the coach as Peter fired repeatedly from the cover of the coach roof fortifications. A thrown hatchet downed Peter, so Jeb grabbed him and cut a horse loose of the doomed carriage, barely escaping as his porter Jim and the whole expedition fell to the fishy grip of the attackers.

The fish people headed them off as they tried to reach the fortified stone inn with the mayor’s inlaws, the main defensible spot in town where some townsfolk stayed. Children with rifles helped snipe the way clear from the stone tower, and the veterans made it into the inn.

Finding the Twin

After consulting with the inn keeper, they determined he was okay. Before more time elapsed, they headed out through a trap door sally port to go rescue Arthur, Peter’s twin. They snuck through town, and managed to cross the bridge unseen as the fish people did some sort of weird looting through the district, building a raft with some items on it in the river.

They found the potter’s house, with a fish man inside. Jeb distracted the fish man so Peter could shank him, and they found a trap door with lots of supplies, Arthur, and the very pretty potter woman named Alana.

They thought about waiting it out there, but then horses approached. The veterans urged the potter and the twin to stay underground, and they stepped out to confront Reverend Davis and his crowd of heavily-armed do-gooders. They managed to convince the Reverend nothing untoward was happening here, and the Reverend rode on (sticking to the outskirts, not yet braving the town.)

The Mysterious Raft

Peter provided cover as Jeb approached the raft to see what the fish people were so happily collecting; weird, it was white dresses along with accessories like shoes and jewelry. Then Jeb was spotted, and he raced away, running after the preacher. He slowed down as needed to keep them on his trail, firing off the occasional shot to keep their interest. Then he managed to run them into the preacher’s crowd, and the fish people made short work of the zealots with the help of Jeb’s firebomb and judicious shooting.

Meanwhile Peter watched a few fish people finish loading the raft and tow it out to the lake.

They regrouped at the bridge and returned to the potter’s house to wait out the last day of the Rising.

Aftermath

When it was all over, the mayor gave Peter and Jeb $50 each (along with the $10 they got for riding shotgun on the coach.) The mayor speculated that the raft might be headed out to the stone ruins that appeared about the same time the fish people did (ancient ruins on a brand-new site.) Maybe there were clues there.

But for now, it was all over, and Arthur made them promise to stay and get some food, rest, and family time before continuing their adventures.

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A Year in Gaming, 2016

I got 94 games in, one more than last year. Maybe in 2017 I’ll hit 100! Let’s not get carried away.

The Friday Table

I wanted to get 20 sessions of Edge City in, and we sure did (right at 20.) The game has leveled out and I can see how to make it work for almost everyone at the table, so I’m going to keep that goal of another 20 Edge City sessions in 2017. If I can get more, I will.

My goal of leveling out and picking only a few games to run at the Friday table started out wildly unrealistic a few years back, then transitioned to too difficult, but momentum kept me pressing the number of games back, and in 2016 I can finally see how I might keep it down to 3 or 4 games.

My Friday table focused on Edge City and Axes and Anvils. We did have a number of other games briefly; we tried out an arc of old Warhammer, we had a couple sessions of The World Between for Fictive Hack, tried out some Dead of Night for a couple sessions, played Fictive Avengers as a present for a friend, and they helped test a couple sessions of the Black Space Hack.

Online, Running Games

Online, I ran Silent Legions for 4 arcs, totaling 16 sessions. That was going along really well and then people got busy and we didn’t schedule another arc, and we have continued not scheduling another arc.

I ran the last arc for the Unrecommendables using my Knives of Duskwall hack of Blades in the Dark, and by the time we limped across the finish line I got the feeling that game had run its course. No follow up planned.

I ran some Dead of Night online, as well as at the game table, and got a pretty good sense of how it runs. It is really structured for one shots and pacing is really tricky, so that was a great experiment but not going to find its way into the regular toolbox.

The Ghostbusters hack of Lasers and Feelings worked great, and if I had some Ghostbusters fans it would be a go-to for one shot or campaign play. But I don’t, really, so that one sits on the shelf. (This may be a good point to note that due to a crisis of confidence I went back through all the stuff I hung on the blog for people to check out and heavily pruned it back. Ghostbusters made the cut and got to stay.)

I made a hack of Star Wars d6 that looks really interesting on paper but didn’t work very well at the game table and needs either major work or a layer of dust. You can guess which it is getting.

The Black Space Hack was fun, and I have hopes it will come out in 2017.

I had some good times with Guns of Telluria, and I’m reaching the usual point in adaptation where I’m itchy enough that it makes more sense to transition to a similar rule set from the inspiration, but not use the inspiring rule set itself. Makes things cleaner for IP, and gives me a freer hand. That does set the project back some, but I was playing it more than developing it anyway, so I didn’t really have any momentum.

I must say, much of what I have from the OSR works REALLY well for Guns of Telluria. If your overall theme is poking through the wreckage left behind by a war between humanity at a WW I tech level and various fey courts, there is a lot of good stuff. Castle Gargantua, Vornheim (as a treaty city that didn’t go to war) and Barrowmaze (where Vornheim buries their rulers).  That’s just for a start.

I used Roll 20 more this year too, mostly hosting Guns of Telluria. I figured out some good techniques for using that site to bolster the effectiveness of presenting my game there. That’s always good.

I also tried Viewscream for the first time! I think everybody needs a practice run before they get a handle on how it is played, but the game is great and should get more play (in my opinion.) It is super low prep, and you basically need Hangouts and you can engage it.

Running For Game Day–Blades in the Dark

I ran quite a bit of standard Blades in the Dark, for 3 game days (total 7 sessions.) One of the days, I had a group of 4 in the morning, and all 4 came back and brought another for the afternoon session; that’s flattering. I look forward to the game coming out!

Games I Played

I got to play some games too. Shaun ran a session of Axes and Anvils for the Friday table. I got to check off two bucket list items this year online.

I also got to play 2 games of Blackmash with Bryan; I would like to have more of that!

I played Call of Cthulu for a couple sessions with Scott Dorward, and a session of Cthulhu Pulp. That was great, and playing with Scott online is a goal I’ve had for years! He did reduce one of the players to texting him threats during the game, which is something I haven’t seen before. Good stuff.

I also finally got to play in a game by Jack Shear online! I’ve adapted a lot of his material for other games, and adjusted it to fit my own sensibilities, so it was great to be actually in one of his inspiring games. It was D&D 5e in Krevborna for Gothic fantasy. I cycled through 3 characters across 15 sessions (only one of them died.) I can’t remember the last time I had that many sessions of a single setting in a year, so that’s pretty great.

A Bleaker Note

I just could not get a game of Lasers and Feelings together at all this year. That saddens me some, I admit.

My ability to get online games together has dried up altogether as well, in the last half of 2016. I had quite a few games I set up with a couple weeks notice that I just could not get two players together to confirm the time. All you really need are some good anchor players who want to play and have some flexibility, and then pulling in others around the edges (and them recruiting too) keeps you in enough players to play. If you can’t get and keep those anchor players, though, it’s rough out there.

I mean, I know people are busy, but you begin to wonder; is it me? Surely word of mouth about my games is good, people want in, right? Maybe not? It’s hard to get feedback from players that confirms or denies that sort of thinking.

Thanks to Players

So that transitions to a thank you to my players. Without you there would be no game sessions. Thank you for playing with me, and I hope to see you at my game table in 2017.

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One of my favorite Star Trek things ever.

Posting it here so I’ll always be able to find it.

My favorite Star Trek show is Enterprise, and I’m not sorry.

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