Frostgrave: The beginning – Dark Alchemy [actual play, mini-review]

Most of my posting’s been confined to Tumblr of late, but the blog deserves more attention than I’ve been giving it. Just haven’t been doing much gaming stuff since the Holidays.

I have, however, been horsing around with some Egyptian terrain and minis for a LONG-ass time, but never really got around to doing anything about it. I’ll post more images later on that score. In March the Frostgrave bug hit me and the 50-foot Lesbian at about the same time. Last Saturday we got our first practice games in; we both made quickie solo runs through all three levels of Dark Alchemy. We’re currently using soldier options from all of the books, but I haven’t had a chance to pick up Breeding Pits yet. She’s dyslexic, so part of the delay has been in converting all the text from the game books and tables into a printable, DL-friendly font and format. I personally recommend the open-source Dyslexie, which she says works “amazingly”.

My own warband is based on the excellent line of war-nuns from Reaper Minis (most from the ass-tastic desks of Werner Klocke and Bobby Jackson). I originally bought them for Mordheim but all three of the groups I put together managed to dissolve before dice ever hit table. Such is Gamer ADD..

The Band

In the main group, from L-R, back-front, we have:
Javelineer/Peltast (from Thaw of the Lich Lord) – Javelins are a nice, cheap missile option, especially important since it’s hard to find missile-equipped nun models. You can get away with using them for pretty much any spearmen you have lying around, too – which is great if you’re using leftover historical minis instead of purpose-built fantasy stuff.
Inquisitrix (based on Bob Ridolfi’s “Veronica Duskraven”) – a Sellsword Mercenary Captain. Bonuses: Movement and Shoot, Hand Weapon, Dagger, Crossbow, Coup-de-Grace and Leadership
Thief (Ral Partha Assassin with a new dagger made from plasticard) This guy used to be one of my PC models, so he’s been rotting in the bitz box since.. well, since Ral Partha was still a company that sold miniatures.
Nun-at-arms. Her shield is converted from a Pirates of the Spanish Main coin token, with paper reinforcements and wood texture scored into the surface. The hammer is all filed plasticard and paperclip, although it broke in-play and I need to pin it again.
Nun-at-arms. For this one I filed down her ridiculous little cestus and dropped a Hoplite round-shield on top.
2 Wardogs (old 3e Elven Hounds from Games Workshop)
Leader – Thaumaturge (The old Mordheim Sigmarite special character, whom I’ve used in the past as a priest in my Sisters of Battle armies). Hand-weapon, dagger, and a lot of support spells Beauty, Heal, Miraculous Cure, Dispel, Write Scroll, Brew Potion, Reveal Secret, and Planar Tear, which has wound up being one of my most useful choices to date.
In the background are some of the minis I’m making into “statues” (mostly oversized ~35mm figures), and on the right are the backups for later gameplay. I have a Templar, some angels (in case I pick up summoning spells..), another infantrywoman, a couple Pack Mules/Thugs, and my future Apprentice (Friar Stone)
The basic idea is to send the Captain in with a squad of faster minis (dogs and the Thief) to wolfpack heavier targets, while my Wizard slings Beauty and support spells onto the Nuns-at-arms for treasure-hauling purposes. The band-size limits in Dark Alchemy, not to mention the way all enemies are Constructs, Beasts, or Undead, is going to hamper the Hell out of my strategy for now, but what kind of wargamer doesn’t like a challenge? :P

My opponent has chosen an amusing evil wizard model (Orcish Witch Doctor) and a SHIT-TON of Aztec goblins, plus a few LotR Orcs I traded her out of my bitz bin. She successfully pulled an Animal Companion, so I’m loaning her a Utahraptor model I had lying around to use as a Snow Leopard. I.. kinda love how fucking gonzo Frostgrave lets you get when building warbands, and I’m really looking forward to the Sinbad/Pirates/East India thingy they’re putting out in September.

The games went quickly, and even with the half-finished terrain they looked pretty darned good. The first scenario is extremely easy as long as you just immediately dogpile the Abomination. If you try to sneak around it’ll peck you to death, but 14 HP just isn’t enough once a Wizard with +6 from her buddies starts swinging her hammers on it. As soon as it’s gone, the whole game is basically “send one person to fuck up the rats and a dog off to open the door”
The second fight was interesting, with the random skellie (or in this case, Mummy) placement making things get hairy fast. My wizard got slowed down by casting and then dogpiled by a sudden swarm of mobs that appeared right next to her, pecked to death by flames/scarabs. Generally, though things like Dimensional Rift’s small but almost-guaranteed damage are more than enough to handle packs of mummies. Grenade and Explosive Cocktails (both of which the Goblins had in abundance) also see them off quickly.
That third scenario is a beast, though; both of us escaped with only a single model, though she got her wizard off and I only managed to get my Captain out.  To fit the Egyptian-fantasy setting we made a couple fluff changes. The Fire-slingers became Mummy Queens and small animated statues of various gods summoning scarab swarms (c.f. the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies), and the flame areas were likewise swapped for Beetle Swarms.

Overall, Dark Alchemy was a hell of a lot of fun. We both walked out with a couple hundred GP, no deaths, 7-8 levels on the Wizards, and a nice assortment of Magic Items (she got a Hand Weapon+1,  Ring +1 and Staff of Power +3, plus a Grimoire and 6 potions: I got less cash and only 1 Grimoire but 14 potions.) She selected a Treasure Vault as her home base, and I went for a Temple.
Once I get some more GC together to buy a Roost, I have an excellent Falconer miniature and some cool eagle models that I’ll be using as Blood Crows instead of the dogs. The lack of missile support really hurt me in scenario 3, and my Crossbow captain made the lion’s share of my kills. I’ll be adding a bow to one of my two-weapon leftover nuns at some point to make a Ranger, or possibly converting one of my backup Sci-fi models with a crossbow or arquebus to get a Marskwoman. I’m worried about those rings and staves; in the last game I bumped up my wizard’s Dispel skill but with what she can do using Enchant Weapon I’m not pleased..

Current state of the warband:
Base: Temple (of course)
Level 8 Thaumaturge – added Circle of Protection, levelled Health (+1), improved Planar Tear (x2), Write Scroll (x1), Heal (x2), Brew Potion (x1), Dispel (x1)
Apprentice w/ Staff and a crapload of very nasty potions
Level 3 Captain, now with Sprint and boosted Shoot (x2).
2 Nuns-at-arms
2 Warhounds
Thief (will be replacing with a Ranger/Markswoman shortly)


General update (BT, LotFP, RL)

Been away for a while, and while I’ve been getting a lot done in meatspace I just haven’t had the right kind of energy or focus for extensive writing these last few moons (I’ve still posted a bit on tumblr and the LotFP G+ groups, just not enough material/fucks to hack at the KB here for a while) . Not to mention, I haven’t been getting much if any table time in (although that’s changing), so there really hasn’t been much to write about.
Oh, and my fourth wedding anniversary is tomorrow.
So.. general update time.


On the blog front:
Went back and fixed some broken links as well as doing minor edits to a couple of posts as playtesting shakes out. Notably, Camo Specs Online (the BT color reference site) went down and had to completely restructure, so I had to fix all those links. I bumped all my drafts to the top of the queue to see what’s salvageable.
I’m also going to be revising the sidebar links and adding a few new cool people to the list, as well as removing dead sites. If you happen to see something let me know.

Kickstarter updates:
Got my copies of World of the Lost, Towers Two, and England Upturn’d. All are amusing in their own ways. Reviews as can be arsed.

Robotech RPG Tactics continues to be a mass clusterfucking event, with Palladium now weeping crocodile tears about how hard it is to make new sprue layouts while promising us the same shit they have been since Wayne stopped talking last year. Kevin got hit by a truck and people were celebrating in the comments because at least the header on the Pallladium updates changed for a week. I need to get a few more items before continuing work on the build reviews for the Archer/Spartan, Warhammer/Tomahawk, and Longbow/Phalanx.

The Skyway Project buildings are fucking awesome.

Gameplay updates:
Got my friend A. into BattleTech, and we’ve done a couple of training fights now as well as dicking around watching ’70s and ’80s Real Robot anime. Much fun was had, and BATTLETECH occurred

Ran a picaresque game with Scenic Dunnsmouth for my folks on the 4th, using the characters from the Thanksgiving game as well as a couple new rolls. It got cut off right after a Big Reveal ™, but at a place that allows adding or subtracting characters as necessary. Play report shortly, along with house rules in use.

Meatspace projects: (project logs in line for several of these)
I’ve successfully sorted nearly 20 years’ worth of loose papers – including DM notes, half-finished projects, dead campaigns, and reference files. All of my gaming books are likewise sorted. I built new display shelves for my desk out of a deceased bookcase, and I’ve cut the panels for a chemical and paint storage rack as well.

One of my friends bought a folk-banjo at an artist’s garage sale, and I’m pretty sure I can do one. So I’ve salvaged most of the materials and gotten some tools together; just need strings and elements for the neck. I’ll be blogging my progress as it goes.

Finished one large piece of 6mm terrain. It’s a busted wall based on the shore defenses in Ha Shih Dao in the first missions of Steel Battalion. I also mounted and prepped a half-dozen California Base Turrets, along with a surprise FrankenMech Mechaturm, a massive wall, an assortment of bunkered buildings based on the ERTL Space Shuttle labs and sattelites, and some Quonset huts.

Painted and/or prepped a huge number of models for the Black Widow project. Photos coming this afternoon.

Bought a hardcopy of The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and soft-copies of various BT books (IntOps, CampOps, RS:Industrials, CM:Mercs).

I’ve built up some post-apoc minis for This is Not a Test, and grabbed an assortment of terrain. I also organized and repaired/re-stored all my modular terrain systems. I have a shitload of terrain.

Finished another few props for the local theater folks, including a Kodak Brownie 1880’s model and a couple of books.

Joined the local makerspace, and I’m likely going to be teaching a class on scratch-making half-timbred buildings for Mordheim and the like. Watch this space for deets.

Thanks for putting up with my shit. Have a shiny.

Thanks for putting up with my shit. Have a shiny.

“The Forgotten”, Session 5 (Actual Play, LotFP)

Had an entertaining, if startlingly combat-free, session this week. Brother #3 (the good Doctor) managed to get a real weekend off for the first time in a while, and brought his fiancee. She’s never played, but was interested. One of the other players couldn’t make it (due to work), so she got to be hung-over all session.

As an aside:
I’m not sure if the Savage class is mechanically more attractive than the others, if it fills a particular evocative need, or if I just wrote it well, but for some reason around a third of my players in the three campaigns and one-shot sessions I’ve run have taken them (the rest are basically Specialists – there are a total of 3 Fighters and one Cleric out of over 20 characters rolled).

Anyway, brother’s fiancee set about hammering out a Savage of her own – a Polynesian shark-cultist, lost in a storm during his rite of passage, and wandering the seas as a navigator looking for home.

Andrew Wyeth - "Gust of Wind" from "The Black Arrow"


Where we left off:
Last session, Elizabeth discovered and purchased her father’s cabin boy in a slave market, deliberately concealing her reason by claiming him as an, ahem, “lady’s companion”. She quietly questioned him in the cabin about her father’s ship’s fate. He’d been thrown overboard from the Crow’s nest during a strangely-colored storm, and saved by a hunk of planking. The Corsairs picked him up and sold him out of Morocco, and he knew no more.

During the interview, the lookout and one of the PCs spotted a lion made of hellfire stalking along the coast towards the ship; they immediately weighed anchor and bailed for the Canaries. Three days out, they overtook a battle-in-progress between a Portugese carvel and a Corsair dhow. It was not going well for the merchants, who had been dismasted. There was a short argument amongst the crew about which flag to run up before they engaged, but eventually “French” won out. The Wind of Avarice‘s crew successfully sunk the pirate dhow, but blew up one of their own swivel guns with a misfire (mortally wounding a crew-man). The pirates had just enough momentum and position to ram and board; most of the Corsairs made it onto the carvel’s deck. The PCs closed and counter-boarded, sweping the pirates from her decks. Several misfires and an extremely successful Physic roll later, they recovered a half-dozen each of guns and blades, plus 8 prisoners, and saved two of their own crew as well as a mortally-wounded Portugese. For charity’s sake, they escorted the limping carvel back into her last port-of-call (their own destination as well), pulling in in the late afternoon.

The island’s governor begged off thanking the party and paying the bounty for the corsairs they had captured, citing “important business”. The Berbers were hauled off into the dock to await trial, and our “heroes” prepared to go get unrighteously pissed. Meanwhile, Sailing-master Michel set about finding materials for repairing the Wind‘s burst seams and mild hull damage from its repeated ramming adventures, and paying the ship’s tunnage taxes.

This session:
Conceding to the general mood, I fired up my Alestorm station on Pandora, because we’re well out of the territory for Berber music.
Also, apparently Alestorm has decided that they should do some Dimmu Borgir on the side (fast forward to 4:10 for the abrupt whiplash into full-on Swedish Death mode, then at 6:20 they’re back in Scottish Pirate, and shift off to power metal in the ~6:40 range..)

As we began play, Hernando’s player was slightly crestfallen when I pointed out that they hadn’t actually committed any acts of piracy per se – just sex trafficking, slave trading, smuggling, murder, fraud, grand larceny, sales by defraud, tampering with the fabric of Reality, more murder, providing aid and comfort to a fugitive, probable accessory to regicide, incitement to riot, arson, mayhem and maiming, torture, desecration, and espionage.
In five fucking sessions, I might add.
On the bright side, they don’t have any active governmental death-warrants yet, so there’s that.

Anywho, the party immediately decided to split up, which would have been a bad idea if my random encounter dice hadn’t had other ideas. Seriously, 12 rolls and no encounters? What the shit.

• Doctor Byron: CAROUSING TIME! He burned over 400sp, making a contact with the local “crimelord” and acquiring a dose each of purple, white, and crimson lotus, a bottle of something resembling habu-sake but with a frog inside, and a vial containing a sticky neon-orange oil (a curare extract). He was instructed not to take any of them in combination, and “don’t make any plans” for the day he used the frog-booze. He also picked up a useful rumor: there’s a pirate base somewhere to the North, and they should stay outa them waters if they don’t want a fight.
He passed out drunk in the rafters of the inn, there to stay the night.

• Hernando: Has been feeling increasingly itchy since he read a certain book during the Forgive Us run. He unpacked the Black Eagle, determined to use a combination of threats and a crowbar to extract magical knowledge from it (Bonus points for roleplaying a fighter with a tragically low Wisdom, I suppose). Unfortunately, after a badly-failed saving throw, he passed out; dreaming of a great black eagle with the face of a man ripping at the top of his skull, he took a couple points of Wisdom damage. Waking up, he wrapped it in an iron band, roped onto the steering-anchor, and hucked it into the harbor. This is clearly going to go well for him..
He awoke covered in fur, and spent most of the morning shaving.

• Brygytte: Got tanked, got into a pit-fight alongside Ol’ Roy, and won. Down 3 HP, up 300sp (mostly in jewelry and small coin). She came back to the ship shortly thereafter: during the fight, she’d heard rumors of mysterious stranglings each night in the town. All were known “trouble-makers”, but no-one on a ship or outside the town’s walls had been taken. No-one was sure who the culprit was, though all and sundry believed that deviltry was afoot *gesture to avert the Evil Eye*.

• Elizabeth: Tapped one of the remaining whiskey-tuns, leaving with a cask of whiskey, and bought a chicken. She asked one of the local urchins to take her to the “most respected grandmother” in town, but the urchin (blowing his reaction roll) decided to take her to the most-feared grandmother – Mama Odie’ – before fleeing. Mama was currently preparing to cast a divination for a strapping young Polynesian man; Elizabeth hailed him in (almost) his native tongue, and asked after his business. They chatted briefly while the houdoun did her thang, coming up with the prophecy “Travel with this woman, and you shall find your long-sought home“.
Elizabeth then made offerings to Mama for guidance; one set of boxcars later (given her CHR and gift modifiers, it was more like a 15..), and after providing the priestess with a “thing of him” – E’s father’s diary – she began casting the ritual again.

Seek the Violet sky.
Offer the sky a fish, and a bird to the sea.
Lay eyes on no man
for a night and a day.
The place you seek you soon shall see

The business transacted, Mama Odie proceeded to get roaring drunk, offering Elizabeth an interestingly-filgreed skull, which she claimed was a trapped spell (a scroll of Palsied Affect). Elizabeth returned home at a “seemly” hour, and slept the sleep of the non-damned.

• Two sailors disappeared during the night.

Re-united in the morning (well, other than Byron’s drunk rafter-sleeping ass), the PCs discussed their next course of action. Hernando, Brygitte, and the silent Polynesian grabbed a few samples of the furniture they’d jacked from the thieves’ guild in Tangiers, looking to sell it off at the sugar plantation outside town. On the way, Byron noticed that the workers appeared to be restive – bunching into small groups, working very slowly, and talking amongst themselves a bit much.
After being rudely rebuffed by the butler (“We don’t accept *sniff* peddlers here, sirs”), they managed to hail the young bounder in charge from the yard. Following another very positive reaction, he offered to buy their furniture and whiskey, and sell them un-processed cane at a very favorable rate – provided these charming adventurers gave him their tales. Cue in-character exposition to get brother’s fiancee up to speed… “Alonso”, the given name of the young master, seemed particularly interested in their harrowing and almost completely false account of their escape from  Marseilles (which also omitted their wizardly encounters in that city, and the other magic items they’d acquired).
Byron recognized the gentleman as being an agent of the Queen of France, in this Portugese port, and offered to discuss “personal matters” with him in French. After the PCs alerted him to the brewing unrest, he requested that they take a letter to his “associate” Bernardo Larriva, in a small tower on the northwest of the town.
Brygitte and the Polynesian returned to the ship to organize a working-party, quietly preparing the ship for action under cover of unloading the cargo.

Bernardo turned out to be a ferrety, whispering man with sharp white streaks in his red hair and many dueling scars – including a ragged slash across his throat. He accepted the letter and informed the PCs that they’d “know when he needed them”. He also passed a successful Sleight of Hand roll…

The night passed rather uneventfully, though one of the lookouts sighted three black sails coming from the Northeast, which slipped around a headland in the early morning.

Items of business:
• The governor is probably butthurt about several minor diplomatic insults.
• Slave revolts gonna slave revolt.
• The ship’s crew is perilously short of extra hands, and she still needs to finish her repairs before leaving “civilization” (such as it is).

GM tracking info. Feel free to disregard.
Price index:
Rum, other alcohol up 20%. Food down 10%. Luxury clothing down 12%. Luxury furniture up 10+%. Others as Rural or rolled as necessary.

Ship’s armory (not including PC weaponry):
2 swivel guns, 8 breeches (requires 10 shots’ worth of powder per shot)
1 light cannon, with 20 balls (requires 25 shots’ worth of powder per shot)
3 linstocks
9 50-shot casks of gunpowder, plus 30 shot’s worth in an opened cask
Four-stone-and-five of lead
10 match-lock calivers and muskets (all loaded and prepped)
2 flintlock pistols
100 feet of match-cord

Current haul/cargo status:
~50gp worth of silk clothing, packed in chests (2500 silver shillings) (smuggling hold)
20t of unprocessed sugar-cane (20 gp/1000sp)
1t of grain and biscuit (1gp/50sp)
1 tapped tun of fine whiskey (smuggling hold)
1 untapped Tun of rum
4 bottles of good French wine (sent as a “tip” by “Alonso”)

1 curious eikon of Solomon, adorned in Arabic characters.
1 magic bird, who is apparently a giant asshole.
1 sheaf of extremely incriminating blackmail papers on assorted Tangierines
1 sheaf of accounting records for the Tangierine theives’ guild.
3 charts of assorted clarity and value; one appears to be a treasure map pointing to a location to the NW of the island they’re currently docked at.

70 pieces of gold (3500 sp)

Crew (current, reflecting casualties and roster changes):
Captain Hernando Velasques
Doctor Wm. Byron
Quartermistress Lady Elizabeth
Sailing-Master Michel St.-Jourdain (NPC, 2nd-level Specialist with 5d in Sailing-craft, 3d in Languages)
L’t. of Marines Brygitte Benoit (Henchman)
Cabin Boys Ol’ Roy and William Holt (official position: Catamite to ship’s quartermistress)
Marines – 1 1st-level Specialist, 1 1st-level Savage (both currently unnamed ><)
Sailors – 19 able-bodied, 3 wounded.
Civilians – Malika bint-Gifar (wife of Hernando, NPC, 0-level Specialist or is she?)

A Sample Mage, using my generator from earlier (LotFP, NPCs, Spoilers)

Spoilers for my players under the jump. Plz to go away, thank you.


So, this is one of the mages I made for last week’s session, using that generator from the last post plus some of the other stuff I’m working on..

International Tabletop Day BattleTech BatRep

Events at Sakuracon prevented the BT game I was hoping to get in last Saturday night. To compensate, we managed to get in a game at the last minute this Saturday for ITTD at Gabi’s in the new upstairs section. As a bonus, I managed to paint this Victor in a little over half an hour, while my opponent was stuck in traffic.

Yes, it's a Koffing. I'll finish the base tomorrow and get him sealed up to go with the rest of my pirates..


Deets below the break.


Battle of Sector 001 (Attack Wing AAR)

Took part in another Attack Wing tournament, this time for the Battle of Sector 001. Brought a Klink swarm build, which was a bad idea in retrospect (all the winning builds were 90-point juggernaught setups). This time I pulled the Vorta Vor, which means no matter what I pull in two weeks I’ll finally have either a Gavroche or a Saber (since I know someone who’s trading the Gavroche off)

Vor’ChA – class battlecruiser
-K’Nera (Disable crew on target or gain +1 attack dice)
– Photon Topedoes (Vor’ChA variant)
– Bu’kaH (Crew, discard to repair 2 damage)

K’T’ingA – class heavy cruiser
– Nu’daQ (Captain, converts a BS to a hit)

IKS Somraw – Raptor-class frigate
– Generic Captain
– Photon Torpedoes (Raptor variant)

IRW Vorta Vor
– Commander Charnavek (the one from “The Enterprise Incident”)
– Advanced Cloak (God I love this thing)
– Plasma Torpedoes

Counter-attack die (resource)

What I did Wrong
I assigned the wrong captains to the ships. I should have dropped K’Nera, and put a higher-skilled captain on the Raptor, or a Klink Advanced Weapon System on one of the cruisers. Swarm lists are just too vulnerable; I only need something that can survive three rounds of the hellfire the Borg drop.  Also, I dropped my 1-straight template while I was leaving the house.

What I did right
I didn’t foul any of my own ships, and did some amazing maneuvering. I even managed to tactically foul an enemy ship and then vaporize it with the Borg Cube (since it couldn’t use one of it’s bullshit “let’s stick Dominion, United Earth Space Service, Romulan, and Klingon cards on the same ship” combos). The Counter-attack die is amazing against the Borg cube once its adaptations start spiking, since they can’t defend the damage away. I managed to run down and kill a Borg Sphere, even if I lost that game by FIVE FUCKING POINTS (ahem). Incidentally, if your ships are worth less than 20 points, you actually gain Battle Points if they die and you can successfully kill the Cube or Sphere..
Bu’KaH saved my Vor’Cha twice in two games. More repair/shield repair cards, especially ones that act as a free action, could have kept me in the action and probably won the second game for me.
High-end fuckery with the Advanced Cloak made that little Warbird absolutely obscene.

What I’m doing Next Time
Really, this covers two different things. Next game will be Wolf 359 again..
Since the TO is no longer offering bonuses for making faction-pure fleets (the second prizes are now getting rolled for, which is bullshit but better than dealing with the drama “sportsmanship” prizes wind up causing), I think I’m going to put the Advanced Cloak on a Defiant for the next Battle of 001, and running a Defiant/Voyager build. As far as Wolf 359, however, the Klingon swarm actually ran quite well; I’m going to add a little more repair, and put Konmel (If ship is not cloaked, repair one shield) on the Raptor.

Although it’s damned tempting to take Superior Intellect and steal someone’s bullshit upgrades just to watch them burn. Once I have my Maquis fleet, my pretty..

Family Fun (Actual play)

Ran a game this week! AND I finally killed one of the bastards – even if the Cleric managed to save him shortly thereafter.

I was down in Oregon for my cousin’s wedding (glorious: the groom wore a Regency riding-coat, purple silk waistcoat and cravat, and pulled it off), and crashed at my sister’s place for a few nights.

We wound up with almost the entire family around a table for the first time in ages (missing 2 brothers due to work). It’s been a LONG time since I’ve had to run 8 people at once. Fortunately, we had a fairly sober table (‘cept for the drunken goat and his pet Irishman), which made things much easier. The game itself continues to run fast and clean. I tested out the LotFP fast-roll sheets (see the house rules link, above), which worked like a charm; the equipment lists continue to be a sticking point, however, and I think I may just need to set up some of my patented “Generic Adventuring Packs” on 3×5 cards again. More on that later. Still, I actually had players deliberately minimizing their gear to avoid encumbrance penalties, buying pack-animals, and using their remaining gear and weapons in much more creative ways. Guns continue to be a huge hit with the players, and a great deal of fun to manage; strategic misfires changed the outcome of several fights. I found a few minor points on the gun sheets I need to clean up and make clearer, so those will be addressed soon.   The players also continue to avoid spellcasting like the plague*, making me a sad monkey. Time to break out the wizards…

*Current total of characters rolled up for my games: 6 Specialists, 5 Fighters, 2 Savages (both shamans), 1 Cleric, and 0 Mages.

The players, in order of seniority:
• Malcom O’Maihle, Irish Whitesmith (Specialist). Notable items: cold iron dagger, tinsmithing gear, and Oliver the English Goat (“Called him that so I could beat him without feelin’ too guilty”) [Dad]
• Guysponge Fourpwood, Mighty Pirate (Fighter). Notable items: Fat sack of cash, Kettle Hat, Pig Latin proficiency. [Sister #1]
• Arturus Falconwrath, Dilettante and Upper-class Twit (Specialist). Notable Items: Elspeth the Camel-sheep (a pack-llama), Rifled carbine, attitude, disownment from family. [Sister #2]
• Giselle, Venetian whore Spy (Specialist). Kelptomania, hourglass, lockpicks, other tools of trade. History with “Arturus”. [Wife]
• Matahi, South-Seas Harpooner [Savage]. Taboos out the ass, shark-tooth sword, flensing knife, harpoons, the Arm of Zotz (God, I love that spell), assorted shaman’s tools. [Brother #2]
•  Kerwin, German Jäeger [Fighter]. Uniform, rifle, one of the only German-speakers in the party. Excellent character portrait. [Sister #3]
• Rajahan, Persian mercenary [Fighter]. One of the few players who brought shelter. Someone’s going to sleep way better than the rest.. [Sister #4]
• James, Cleric. Had Holy water and a good old “Holy-water sprinkler”. Only PC with a shield or armor heavier than a buffcoat. [Brother #4]

Plus one character who went unplayed due to its owner deciding that bed was the better alternative to math.

Scenario: Players are shipwrecked on the Isle of the Forgotten; items are what they’ve managed to salvage/lay claim on. The party were on two separate ships, both wrecked in the same storm, and of several differing religions, which I forsee making life interesting if we pick these poor bastards up again.  Mild spoilers for “Better Than any Man” below the cut, so if you still haven’t read it, go get it. (I re-skinned the Farmhouse complex from BTaM on the fly into a recently-raided Polynesian village.)


“The Forgotten” Session 3 (Actual Play!)

Continuing on from Sunday’s session..
Damn, this got ugly. If it weren’t for the henchman sacrificing her armor, the services of a (startlingly tolerant) wizard, and the blessings of Buckshot, the party would be dead right now. As-is, several of them are permanently scarred physically and all of them mentally. God I love this job. (From one of my rogues: “That was the most Metal game of D&D I’ve ever played”.)

As you may recall, I’m running the new module Forgive Us”, by Kelvin Green (Full review coming tomorrow, after I have time to digest it all). Spoilers after the break.

We left our “heroes” as they released a competing party’s magic-user (bound and gagged) to his fate in the dhimmi quarter of Tangiers. It was now 12:30, and they had about 5 1/2 hours until sunset and the probable seizure of their ship..

—————-Here be spoilage————–


“The Forgotten” Session 2: Delicate Negotiations.

Or, “There is no such thing as a Diplomacy Crowbar”.
AKA, “I’ve got three fluid ounces of Diplomacy right here.”

In this session, I ran the first half of Forgive Us, albeit heavily Arabicised. Spoilers coming up after the fold. I used various random generators on Abulafia  (link goes to the primary one) for the quick name changes, and changed the tavern to a whorehouse, but kept almost the entirety of the module intact.

On returning from their revels, the party were met on the deck by Sailmaster Miguel, who revealed:
• the party’s contacts were nowhere to be found
• they had 5 tons of liquor on board in a Dry port
• And the bribe to the customs inspectors would expire at sundown.
The party quickly agreed to head to the local smuggler’s den and investigate. They found the location abandoned, with a strange blue flag flying from the warehouse, and the locals mostly surly. Mostly…

[Hence there be spoilers and shit]——————————————

Island of the Forgotten: Session 1 (actual play!)

Finally got in the first session of that campaign I was working on. It has, of course, gone at once completely buggerfuck off the rails and Just As Planned ™. In addition, I was.. somewhat impaired at the time.

The party currently consists of Hernando the Spaniard deserter, William “T.” Byron (“you can tell that’s his real name, it’s stitched into his boots!) – alleged Doctor of Medicine – and the dowager Dame Elizabeth (last name omitted), newly-inherited rogue archeologist in search of her latchkey father.

Our assumed time is the late 1600s, with the party seeking passage (each for their own reasons) to Zanzibar from Marseilles. Alas, this was not to be, but I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Our lady Knight advertised for likely fellows of stout arm and short brain at the sign of the Prancing Goat (famed for powerful cheese and weak wine). A half-dozen men and one dog volunteer their services; “Ol’Roy” the female masitff and her handler Brygyd sign on as men-at-arms, and Hernando as a full-share partner, with several others turned away. Roy and Hernando hit it off immediately, although Roy seems to hate literally everyone and everything else (and can’t hit for beans in combat). With a party assembled, they sought passage on some ship; Mr. “Byron”, sent by his captain to find passengers for an ENTIRELY LEGITIMATE trip to Zanzibar, soon offered compelling terms. Returning to the ship, the doctor was approached by an emissary for a mysterious woman named “Estelle”, inviting him to come to her mansion for a spot of delivery work to Algiers. Again, the party declined. Thanks to a successful surprise roll, they managed to avoid a massive religious riot, before exacerbating it (fucking PCs) and attempting to use the cover of the ensuing fire to get in a spot of looting.

Three days later, and six hours out from Algiers, they got ambushed by a small pirate galley – and tore it apart. Ol’Roy managed to do absolutely nothing, the hireling hid and brained a pirate with a pipe. The party did somewhat better. Our good doctor garrotted a boarder below-decks and shot another in the face, slitting the throat of a third – one of whom was a former applicant to the party (the pirates had hired on two of the rejected hirelings, and been paid handsomely to deliver Estelle’s item). Doc Byron then hilariously badly failed his Physic roll to stabilize the ship’s First Mate, determining that amputation was the best way to cure the damage the Mate’s exploding pistols had done to his hands. It was not.
Dame Elizabeth missed with every shot, though she managed to dash her opponent’s blade from his hands and very efficiently brain him with her rifle.
Meanwhile Hernando accidentally shot the PC’s vessel’s captain along with the pirates’, killing both (firing into melee for the.. win?). Both crews failed their morale checks, and only the fact that the pirates won initiative that round saved the PC’s ship from surrendering (sometimes it pays to go second). Hernando immediately rallied the disheartened crew, and holed the galley with the ship’s pair of light swivel guns (see here).
Total spoils: 20 galley slaves (freed and ransomed in Algiers), 4 captured men-at-arms, including the remaining former applicant (sold into slavery by the party for ~10sp – slaves being worth 1sp per 2hp), gems totalling 10k sp (split with the galley’s crew, PCs only got about 900 each), a couple maps, and a lead box containing a golden lion decorated in Scythian motifs (Estelle’s item – it had an address letter for a notable personage in Algiers attached. Of course the party immediately opened it). Every party member with the skill blew their Occultism roll, so they’ll just have to play with it to find out how it works. *snicker*
They also got an assortment of moderate-quality boarding weaponry, 4 matchlock calivers, and a brace of pistols.
And the good ship “Yvette”. She has a reputation. They haven’t gotten into her cargo hold yet.

Hernando managed to win the respect of enough men to be acclaimed Captain despite the doctor’s technical claim on the position, and so the crew enters Algiers seeking refit, ale, and whores (the Lady Elizabeth interjects at this point to assert that she seeks only the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, not that of the vine, nor indeed of the loins). Carouse rolls (using these rules) ensued for the “gentlemen” of the party.
Doctor “Byron” gained several hundred XP, but was fined by the authorities for issuing a challenge to a duel with the butt of his shotgun, then welshing on the duel due to a violent hangover. Hernando seduced.. someone. He’s not quite sure, but he appears to be in love. Now he needs to find her. And his wallet. And the pants they were in.
Meanwhile, the much more sedate Lady Elizabeth visited the home of a scholar she located from her father’s papers, inquiring after her paternal relative. His ship, it would seem, was last seen in these parts chartered for an undisclosed location in the Pacific. Despite being a semiannual visitor in the past, the vessel has not been seen again these last 5 years. Unfortunately, the gentleman was not versed in Scythian antiquities. Also unfortunately, she opened the box inside his study.

Join us next time, as “Byron” levels up, Ol’ Roy continues to aggressively slobber and fawn on every passer-by while snarling furiously, a tongueless Italian deserter plots his revenge, and various things are lit on fire.
I’ll be frankly surprised if they aren’t flying the black flag on the wrong goddamned side of the planet in three sessions. This is gonna be great.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Quick-start sheet

Quick links to a document I worked up for my campaign. Note that there are several minor rules changes here, particularly the addition of my new guns, a class, skill tweaks, and some rearrangement of items.
PDF Format: LotFP quickstart sheet
ODF (in case you want to edit it for your own campaign) LotFP Quickstart Sheet

The font is IM Fell English Canon, in 10 point, available from this site. Though they’re a little small on the screen, I assure you they’re perfectly readable at the table.

Alpha Strike Battle Report

Hand still broken. Fun!

Nonetheless, my brother (ktforg, not one of the other 4..) was down from Seattle this week. We rolled up his character for the upcoming LotFP game, and I managed to get in another quickie test game of Alpha strike with him. Like a dumbass, I forgot to charge my phone before we left, so no pics of the game, although there are some of the materials. Forces were a Kurita Lance (Atlas -D, Dragon -1N, Panther -9R, Locust -1V) against the Steiner lace from a few posts back with a stock Marauder -3R swapped out for the Wolverine.

Dramatis Personae. Yes, the Butcher is still incomplete. *sigh*

He took the Elsies and had a slight points advantage along with more access to Overheaters, but I had the only jumper. Even with the 3025 tech, it made for an interesting game. It ended up only taking about 40 minutes, and came down to some pretty tight dice rolls in the end. First blood went to him, with the Commando gutting my Locust with a backshot even as I missed one on his Marauder. Leter, his Banshee ate an ammo crit on the first point of struc damage and the Marauder overheated heavily on a gamble of a shot that failed. Meanwhile, my Dragon hung on with only one point of Struc left far longer than it should have, and the Atlas was down to two struc itself, but in the end I managed to punch the MAD to death and he was staring down a cripped-up Atlas and a virgin Panther with just a crippled COM-1D Commando (a weapons and a fire-control crit), so we called it.

• Adding in forced retreat rules would have made this game a 10-minute tie. The Atlas, MAD, Banshee, and Dragon would all have had to retreat long before they were lost, and the Banshee might well have survived without the Dragon pecking at its ass for three turns. The rules would be very harsh on Lights and mediums, however, and I think I’d revise it to “Half of their original structure or less remaining”. I’m now certain I could run some of the more gonzo missions in the old BT mission books in an afternoon with no problem at all (I’d have to add in some way of reflecting the busted-ass ‘Mechs in some of the scenarios, like that one Irregular with the no-rear-armor Rifleman or the poor girl with the prematurely firing Griffin).
• That -1E Locust is a whore to actually kill once it finds some woods to play in. I needed 4 turns of continuous fire to kill it, and it finally died to a charge from the Atlas rather than weapons fire (since the additional cover modifier didn’t apply at that point).
• On that note, Light mechs’ semi-abusive evasion advantage can be at least partially negated by melee. Since most only have 2 0r 3 armor, a TSM Medium with jets would likely be able to catch them and wreck their collective faces.
• The custom cards I made worked excellently: you can fit and track an entire Lance on a single 3×5 card, which beats the Hell out of the official cards. I need three for a Company instead of 12.Alpha Strike Cards

I’m starting to like AS for this:
This is all I need to play a complete company-level game – a 5×8″ case and 3 3×5 cards, along with 12 paperclips.

More playtime, and a Firefall diversion

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Jim linked my review right after I went south on a wedding anniversary vacation, then I had a crapload of convention work and a houseguest up from the Carolinas. Oh, and this. Because Tribes devs making a Tribes MMO? Fuck. Yes. Plays pretty much like I remember, only without catching a rail in the forehead every time you set foot outside your base in anything less than a super-heavy suit.

On the RPG front, I took the Guns Guns Guns! files down south. Got a bit more work done, but brother #2 decided to haul out the Basic books and have a go with the sibs and parents. I finally got to trot out Pragha the Blue, aka Pragha the Perverse, summoner and seige-mage extraordinaire. Extraordinary in this case because he’d gambled away his spellbook (a severe drinking binge and gambling off his gear is how I usually explain restarting any character at low levels..) and gotten shafted with no actual offensive spells. Managed to walk away with the highest body count, after casting “kerosene, vodka, and torch” on a patrol of beastmen, then getting another group to flee the dungeon after giving me all their money ( I told them that Dad’s dwarf was magically slowed down by throwing money at him, and I’d use it to slow him down more effectively while they ran away. I totally didn’t.), and using Control Fires on the beastmen’s cook (or rather, the fire he was bent over in the surprise round). Fun times. I almost managed to convince the party to just steal the Beastie’s stolen cargo boats to sell them down the river, but that was shouted down (rightly so) as unadventurous. Adventure ended with us locked in a small room whose walls were (postem my wife deciding to sit in a throne in a room clearly marked all over with snakes and shit) bleeding snakes profusely. Good times.


This Friday, we had the Carolina guest up, so we took the nigh-obligatory trip to Mount Rainier. Of course, the clouds rolled in immediately.IMG_20130712_121025_357Got a couple surprisingly good photos of the peak, though, they rose for a few minutes while we were up Paradise way.
IMG_20130712_121710_085There was still ~2 feet of snow on the ridge in mid-July, although it was patchier elsewhere.
Here’s a shot down into the valley, with a blatantly posing marmot thrown in. Cheeky little bastard didn’t even whistle, just started hamming it up when he saw cameras come out.
IMG_20130712_122014_610Some delectable steel from the trip outIMG_20130712_151057_617
Wrenched my knee on the way out, spent Saturday laid up and Sunday over at Dragonfest judging the cosplay contest. Couldn’t take photos from the stage, sadly, but a fantastic pony gijinka, a Tiny Tina from BL2, and a Fire Emblem:Radiant Dawn Ike won. There was also a adult/child Black Butler pair that were frigging adorable, and picked up “Judges’ Choice”.  Judging was tough, there were a lot of really good costumes, but it did make my at-con job easier to know who won right away :b

That pretty much catches us up to now, so back to the plotting board. Gonna spend a good chunk of tonight eating homemade tacos and casting/painting robutts.

Got actual play time – and a wife – this weekend

Got married on Saturday, so I should be able to start actually posting regularly again. We had an afterparty (it was originally scheduled for Dante’s, on account of good food and no cover, but we had to move when the bartenders kept turning up the music too loud for us to play [in other news, Schultzy’s is an amazing place and the servers are fucking fantastic]).
We dicked around a lot, joked much, and basically things were as I remembered them
Lessons Learned:
• I paced the adventure well, but it could have used a lot more polish. Still, I got back into the swing of running a game pretty quickly: I managed to handle a fractious party of 9 (and almost kill them) without ever putting them into combat. I like PvE puzzly dungeons..
• On that note – I’m going to have to write this sucker down and re-run it later for a smaller group. I came up with an utterly badass idea in play, and it integrated seamlessly with what I already had. Plus it kept the players busy and amused for about half an hour.
• Have equipment lists organized and ready to go – and possibly also a simple character gen booklet for each player. Having 9 players, 4 of whom were buck newbies, really ate into the available playtime.
• Though I didn’t have the time to organize it fully, using booklets of randomly generated spells, and prayerbooks for the Clerics would have sped things up even more. Maybe have a deck of spell cards with the spell summaries printed on them – players can pick one card per level, and then take a semi-random spellbook based on their “discipline”/Master.
• LotFP and Basic integrate pretty seamlessly as long as you can keep the differences in your head. Being able to snap-convert the odds from d6 to d% to d20 helps even more.
• Floating-point rolls didn’t slow down gameplay at all, and actually made play much more fluid (since they made metagaming the rolls essentially impossible) – although the roughly 5 gallons of beer consumed by the players didn’t hurt one whit.
• Jesus Christ I missed my best friends. Steveman and [Redacted] are damned fun to have at a table, and their ladies weren’t half shabby.
• George the halfling has made me want to stat up my own LotFP Bard class (woo, Language skills!), but making it something other than a specialist will be hard. Maybe more skills, but I’m leery of that – still, with Raggi leaning much more to the Morale/Fate interpretation of HP, it’d be a healing class with some badass abilities (roll Bardic skill to cancel/heal/reduce HP loss from forced marches, improve campsite healing, &c.)