Monday, January 27, 2014

Battle-Bug Burrows [Mini-Map Monday]

Way down in the Battle Bug Burrows, the Fly Girls, the Beetle Boys, and the Spider Priests wage a three-way war for dominance. The Contested Cavern is full of valuable fungal resources that all factions covet. Arachnoid evil stirs from the spiral paths of the Web Lord's Walk. Meanwhile, a small enclave of gnomes hunkers down defends their holdings from the fallout of monster-on-monster war.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Funkadelic Frankenstein for Fate Accelerated??

Back in 2009, I wrote a QAGS games called Funkadelic Frankenstein on the Mean Streets of Monstertown that got a bit of positive press and some decent reviews. It's a "monsterspoitation" setting about groovy-sleazy monsters in the grindhouse-70s New York. Like a weird mix of Dan Brereton's Nocturnals, Hellboy, Black Dynamite, and MachetteIt's easily the second weirdest thing I've written (this is the first). I'm still pretty proud of the book (the art, not so much), but I've often thought of going back to the setting, expanding and refining things.

Cut to now and my current fascination with Fate Core and Fate Accelerated. It occurred to me how well Funky Frank would work with FAE. Flashy, Forceful, Sneaky, Clever, Fast, Careful--those are all elements of grindhouse action. Monster types work great as a part of a High Concept, and QAGS's Weaknesses port over nicely as FAE Troubles. Stunts are great to define specific monster powers as well as action movie specialties.

I've been working on bits of Funky Frank FAE all week while I've been on vacation, focusing especially on monster types and stunts. I'm pretty happy with what I've got so far. Below is a little sample--a write-up of Prometheus Jones (the Funkadellic Frankenstien himself) as well as a handful of stunts for various monsters.

High Concept: Funkadelic Frankenstein
Trouble: Can’t refuse a lady
Other Aspects: The undead private dick who’s a sex machine with all the chicks, Packs a big gun, Smooth operator

Just talkin' about Prometheus Jones...
+3: Forceful
+2: Flashy, Clever
+1: Sneaky, Careful
+0: Quick

Because I am super strong, I get +2 to Forcefully Overcome Obstacles when I rely entirely on brute strength.

Because I’m one bad mother, once per session I can ignore all stress from any one attack.

Because I am a master detective, I get +2 when I Cleverly Overcome Obstacles when I am investigating a case.

Because I am super strong I get +2 to Forcefully Overcome Obstacles when I rely entirely on brute strength

Because I am powered by lightning and chemicals, once per session I can instantly  remove a minor consequence by exposing myself to a powerful source of electricity.

Because I can toss people around like rag dolls, once per session, when I successfully forcefully Attack someone, I can also move them up to two zones away.

Because I know the sewers like the back of my slimy, webbed hand, Once per session I can show up in any scene, no matter how improbable, provided that it has access to the sewer tunnels.

Because I am used to the inky depths of the oceans, I get +2 when I carefully overcome obstacles related to seeing through darkness, smoke, or fog.

Because I can talk to fish, I get +2 when I cleverly create an Advantage based on information gleaned from a friendly fish.

Because I can transform into a bat, Once per session I can show up in any scene, no matter how far away, provided that I could fly there.

Because I can turn into mist, once per session, for one scene, I can become immune to physical damage, except for attacks by weapons to which vampires are vulnerable, but I cannot make physical attacks either. Also, I can bypass any barrier, as long as it isn't air tight, although I cannot manipulate solid objects in this state.

Because I can bend the minds of the weak-willed, I get +2 when I sneakily create an advantage while in conversation with someone.

Because I have fearsome fangs and teeth, I get +2 when I forcefully attack a single opponent in close combat.

Because I have feral reflexes, I get +2 when I quickly Overcome Obstacles by leaping or climbing.

Because I’m the leader of the pack, once per session I can summon a group of dogs to help me for a scene.
Group of Dogs
Rag-tag pack of mangy mutts
Skilled (+2) at: Dog-piling on an enemy, causing a ruckus or a fracas
Bad (-2) at: Working without supervision, being distracted by things that distract dogs
Stress: OOO (six dogs)

Because I can breathe fire, once per session I can forcefully attack all characters in a single zone, up to one zone away, with a single action.

Because I’m a hot little number, I get +2 to Flashily create an advantage when I seduce someone.

Because I am a native of Hell, I get A +2 when I forcefully defend against fire attacks.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quix Bravo (Star Wars FAE character)

As happens, this past Monday only two of us were able to attend our Monday Skype game. Neither of us had any one-on-one stuff prepared, so no game happened. But next time we're going to be prepared. My friend (Al, from MTMJ and Porcelain Llama) asked what I'd be in the mood for. We're both enjoying Fate Accelerated, so that was a given. I said I've been on a Star Wars kick lately, and thus the game was decided.

Of course, if I'm going to play Star Wars, I'm going to play a Jedi. Here's the guy I came up with (not actually sure what era we're going to use).

Quix Bravo

High Concept: Two-Fisted Jedi Sentinel
Trouble: Quixotic
Other Aspects:
Master of Jar’Kai
Raised in the Coruscant Undercity
Sparks, my heavily-modified power-droid sidekick

+3: Flashy
+2: Clever, Forceful
+1: Quick, Careful
+0: Sneaky

Because I wield a lightsaber in each hand, I get a +2 when I Flashily Attack groups of nameless mooks.

Because I know Force Push, I get +2 when I Forcefully Attack at a range with telekinesis.

Because I have a shady past, I get +2 when I Cleverly Overcome Obstacles when I have to get somewhere I don’t belong.

Stress:  OOO

Mild -2
Moderate -4
Severe -6

Aspect: Heavily modified power-droid

Approaches: Careful +2, Sneaky +1

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Map With No Name [Mini-Map Monday]

I like this map, but I can't quite come up with a crazy back-story for it.  So, I'm just going to leave it a blank slate--a generic map for whatever. It's got all my favorite map things: bridges over underground rivers, weird lakes, crafted rooms leading to natural caverns, all that. Enjoy!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Isle of Abaddon (Session 4): "A Real Slugfest!"

My Isle of Abaddon campaign is moving along nicely. This session took place January 11th over Google Hangouts.

Our Heroes:
Curatos - Cleric of Bramah 1, Lawful (played by Glen)
Mournith - Fighter 1, Neutral (played by Bert)
Lasoleg Looseleaf - Elf 1, Neutral (played by Chris)
Zollo - Magic User 1, Neutral (played by Rob)
Mooklah the Grooch - Grooch 1, Neutral (played by Jack)

After defeating the evil in the burial mound of Gilliard Wolfclan, the party returns to Rook’s Landing to rest and recover. Our session starts with our party answering a dinner invitation from the eccentric gnome alchemist, Doctor Malachia J. Katzenjammer. Katzenjammer’s dining room furniture has been adapted to fit human sizes, but is made in such a way that it is obvious that the carpenter has never met  a human; none of the furniture fits them properly. Still, Katznejammer proves to be a gracious host. Roast giant snail with gravy, mashed turnips, and plenty of decent brandy is on the menu.

Also present at the party is a man in fancy green robes and unfortunate hair, Herbunculous Skruggs. Skruggs is a sage from the mainland, specializing in archaeology and mollusks. He has come to Abaddon to continue his studies,and is debating setting up shop in Rook’s Landing (he has an appointment with Lord Rook tomorrow).

The party takes this opportunity to ask Skruggs about the magic sword they found in Gilliard Wolfclan’s tomb. They are concerned that the bone and meteoric iron weapon might be cursed. Skruggs informs him that the sword is of the style given to the greatest warrior chiefs of the barbarian tribes in Times of Old. While the sword (along with the entire Wolfclan) likely has a poor reputation with the local tribes, it probably isn't cursed. Curatos’s Detect Evil spell declares it clean, as well.

After dinner, Katzenjammer has business proposal for the party. One of the wizards who lived on Abaddon 300 years ago was Keldon Kesterloth, an alchemist of some note. Katzenjammer and Skruggs have located what they believe is the location of the ruins of Kesterloth’s old manor house. Katzenjammer wants the party to go the the manor and retrieve Kesterloth’s magical cauldron. This artifact will allow Katnzenjammer to greatly increase his own alchemical skills. He will pay the party the sum of 500 gold crowns for the cauldron’s retrieval.

The party agrees, and after some haggling, they get Dr. Katzenjammer to foot the bill for some horses, a wagon, and some traveling supplies. The party isn't sure how “ruined” the ruins are, so they decide to get some hirelings, specifically, some laborers to do some heavy digging and a torchbearer.

After spreading some gold around, they hire two diggers--the brothers Raig and Wormore (Kickassistan’s current series of henchman articles has come in very handy.) They also convince Katzenjammer to write a letter of introduction to one of his cousins, a failing potter’s apprentice named Ribitzi Badgerfarb. Ribitzi hates potting, and the gnome is happy to join the party as a torchbearer once they buy out his apprenticeship contract.

Loaded with gear and support crew, the party finally heads out, bearing north along the coast and avoiding the hills, which they have been informed are “dangerous.” On the first day out, Mournith, acting as party scout, spots a group of small humanoids sacked out in the shadows of a copse of trees. Taking the better part of valor, the party skirts around the unknown monsters and continues on their way uninterrupted. Eventually they come upon the ruins of Kesterloth’s Manor. The once fine house has been mostly burnt to the ground. Only a few walls, a short tower, a couple of ground floor bedrooms, and the ruins of an elegant staircase remain on the surface. Mysterious gray slime covers much of the ruined tile floors, like massive snail trails.

It’s coming on dark, and the party decides to check out the ground floor before sacking out for the night. In one ruined bedroom, they discover a nest of giant rats. They wipe out the vermin, suffering a few bites. The humans worry a bit about disease, but Mooklah the Grooch is happily immune. Picking through the rats’ nest, they find not 2000 coppers, but an old silver and ruby ring, still around a human finger bone, old and well-gnawed.

Beneath the staircase they find an old door, rusted shut. After battering this down, they discover stairs leading down to the cellar. The party leaves that be for now. The second bedroom and its attached office are free of monsters. A bookshelf hold the ruins of many books about history and finance. In the false bottom of a drawer in the ruins of an old desk, Curatos and Lasoleg discover a silver dagger and an old brass key. .

Finally, they check out the “tower” where the silver-gray slime is thickest. The tower is in fact a first-floor room with the ruins of a second-floor room on top of it. Battering down the slime-stuck door, they discover that the room is thick with slime. Large clusters of yellow-green nodules, the size and shape of footballs, are stuck in the corners. Stairs lead up to the second-floor room. Lasoleg shoots some arrows into the clusters, and nothing happens. He enters the room to retrieve his arrows.

Suddenly, everyone outside is covered in sticky gray slime that sprays down upon them from somewhere above. A striped slug, about five-feet long clings to the side of the tower, spraying the PCs with slime, reducing their dexterity and movement. The killer mollusk leaps from the wall and lands on Mooklah, chomping him with its lamprey-like mouth. It’s wicked fast for a slug.

The party counterattacks. Curatos and Mooklah are disturbed to discover that the slug is immune to their blunt weapons (mace and maul, respectively). Lasoleg’s arrows pepper the creature, and Mournith cleaves into it with the Wolfclan sword. After a few rounds, the slug lies dead and in pieces.

Satisfied that the ground floor is now relatively safe, the party camps out for the night.

Striped Killer Slug

A monster that troubled my Lamentations of the Labyrinth Lord players last weekend.

Striped Killer Slug

No. Enc: 1d4
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement: 60' (20)
AC: 5
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6
Save: F3
Morale: 8
Horde Class: none
XP: 80

The stripped killer slug is a carnivorous mollusk 3-to-5-feet in length and weighing as much as a large dog. While not as fast as a human, it is disturbingly quick and agile for a slug.

The stripped killer slug can cling to sheer surfaces.

The slug is immune to blunt attacks.

Three times per day, the slug can spit a 60’ cone of sticky slime.Any character caught in the slime must save vs. breath weapon. if the save fails, the character’s movement is cut in half. Additionally, the character’s AC worsens by 2 points, and they suffer a -2 to missile attacks. It takes 3d4 rounds of dedicated work for a character to remove the slime from their body.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fate Accelerated: Star Wars

When I was brainstorming games to pitch for my home group, I kept looking at various Fate Core hacks for Star Wars. Many were good, but none of them quite did what I, personally, wanted them to do. More recently I've been taking a second look at Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE), and I think it might have my answers.

I've actually been playing FAE for several months in the "Machines of Loving Grace" campaign on the Porcelain Llama Theater Podcast. That game involves a lot of "walking and talking" though, and actual dice rolls and game mechanics and stuff rarely comes up. I never really got a full appreciation for the simple elegance of FAE.

I thought FAE was simply a rules-light "junior" version of Fate Core--something you use for one-shots and pick-up games where you don't want to think about stuff too much. It wasn't for "serious" games (Machines of Love and Grace notwithstanding, apparently). It wasn't until recently, when I was poking around game blogs looking for Fate stuff that I discovered elegant write-ups for Warhammer 40K, Conan, etc., that I realized how versitile and robust FAE can actually be. There's a lot you can do with it that I didn't realize. It all comes down to the group all knowing and agreeing on "this is what a space marine can do," and "this is what Hyborea is like," or "this is what a Jedi can do."

So yeah, to make a long story short, if I ever get the chance to run Star Wars, I think Fate Accelerated is going to work best for the kind of space-ninja pulp adventures that I want. No need to worry about stating out the Force as an Extra.You want to knock over a bunch of war droid with Force Push? Roll Forceful. Bam! Wanna deflect a blaster bolt with your lightsaber? Roll Quick or Flashy. Pow!

As an experiment, I wrote up some famous Star Wars characters with FAE. Everyone always writes up Han Solo and R2-D2 for this sort of thing, so I did C-3PO, Jango Fett, and Lando Calrissian instead. Also Obi-Wan Kenobi, because if the prequels reminded me of one thing, its's that Obi-Wan is and always was my favorite character.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
High Concept: Heroic Jedi Guardian
Trouble: Qui-Gon’s Bad Influence
Other Aspects: City Boy, Friends in Low Places, “The Negotiator”

Careful +1
Clever +2
Flashy +1
Forceful +0
Quick +2
Sneaky +3

Because I know the Jedi Mind Trick, I get a +2 when I Sneakily create an advantage when I am in a conversation with someone.

Because I wield a lightsaber, I get a +2 when I Quickly defend against ranged attacks.

Because you can follow me by the trail of severed arms, once per session, when I force an opponent to take a consequence, I can force them to take a consequence one level higher.

High Concept: Golden Protocol Droid
Trouble: Fussy and excitable and nobody really likes me
Other Aspects: I am fluent in over eight-million forms of communication, This is my counterpart R2-D2, Loyal to a fault

Careful +2
Clever +2
Flashy +1
Forceful +0
Quick +1
Sneaky +3

Because no one pays attention to a droid, I get +2 when I Sneakily Defend when I am trying to say out of combat.

Because for some reason people believe me, I get a +2 when I Cleverly Create an Advantage when I make a bold-faced lie.

Because I don’t know how I got into this mess, once per session I can show up wherever I happen to be needed, no matter how improbable, as long as I can (theoretically) provide a long and complicated explanation.

Jango Fett
High Concept: Mandalorian Bounty Hunter
Trouble: Loyal only to the highest bidder
Other Aspects: Dripping with weapons,  "I'm just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe,” A clone of my own

Careful +2
Clever +2
Flashy +1
Forceful +0
Quick +3
Sneaky +1

Because I carry a blaster in each hand, I get +2 when I Quickly Attack at range.

Because my backpack has jets, once per session, as my action on my turn, I can leave a scene, even in the middle of a conflict, without making a concession, provided I could fly my way out of there.

Because I wear Mandalorian Battle Armor, once per session, I can ignore damage from any source.

Lando Calrissian

High Concept: Gambler made good
Trouble: “This deal is getting worse all the time.”
Other Aspects: Administrator of Cloud City, Ace in the hole, Smooth operator

Careful +1
Clever +2
Flashy +3
Forceful +0
Quick +1
Sneaky +2

Because I can turn on the charm like nobody’s business I get +2 when I Flashily Create an Advantage when I make a first impression.

Because I always have more than one plan going at a time, once per session I can create or remove a scene aspect thanks to some contingency plan I had running in the background all along.

Because I am a liar and scoundrel, I get a +2 when I Sneakily Defend against someone trying to see through my deception.