Tales From The Loop #1

Ran my first session of TftL tonight.

It was a mini intro scenario to populate the kids lives. There were two kids in this starter adventure – they were 13 year old twins. One chose Weirdo, (Kennet) the other Jock (Olaf). Kennet’s special item is his Walkman, Olafs is his BMX.

We learned their mum (Camille) is considered hot, their sister (Astrid) is a pain, her boyfriend is ok. There’s a dumb guy in their class Rurik who they can’t rely on to make excuses for them, there’s a 3-kid rival gang. We learned their Dad left their mum and moved away with his girlfriend. They haven’t seen him in two years.
I discovered I want a lot more detail on the towns. Even just maps. We based them in Stenhamra just because we couldn’t reconcile how to get them to school any other way.

PLOT BELOW (spoilers)

Continue reading “Tales From The Loop #1”

The One Ring

I was really surprised to see this arrive: The One Ring

This is the latest game based around The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The art is simply amazing and the only reservation I have is around the binding, which may be fine but, equally, might be a pain in the butt for actual play. And, to be fair, some sort of GM screen would have been great. All in all, Cubicle 7 have knocked this one out of the park: again.

It is September in the Year of Our Lord, Twelve Hundred and Nineteen

Having met The Greek, Paul Akritas, at the agreed location in the city of Praha, Tangui ex Bonisagus and his loyal servant, Godfroi, start out on their journey towards Budapest. They are joined on the road by a Redcap named Jacques who hails from the Languedoc of France. While these are not strictly countrymen, there is enough commonality between the two Magi to ensure a fast companionship on the road. The Greek, however, remains suspicious.

The first day is not uneventful. Godfroi spots two unmounted figures shadowing the group in the forest as they approach the Brod townlands and the Greek confronts two horsemen who seem to be catching up. It is then they realise the enormity of their journey as none of them have but a smattering of the rough Slavic tongues of the region. Their own communication is difficult – a pidgin made of Bretonian, French, Latin and German. The horsemen jabber their excuses and ride ahead. The unmounted figures have vanished into the murk of the woods.

Two hours later, the four arrive, their horses foot-dragging exhausted, in the village of Brod. The locals are perplexed at their visitors but Jacques convinces them they mean no harm and they are led to a grain store, dry and warm.

Early next morning they are woken with the smell of cooked edges and rye-oat biscuits fried in suet, washed down with a weak beer. And the journey starts again, next stop Brno!

And the result is…

The answer to my last message was a resounding “Ars Magica”.

I’m happy about this because I had some of my best fun with Ars Magica back in the 90s. The campaign of Y Draig Goch, a Covenant in the Stonehenge Tribunal, dominated by the Tremere magus, Callistratus, and a rag-tag group of junior Magi, Consors and surly Grogs. The main sourcebook I used for this was Pendragon “Beyond The Wall”.

Notable Characters:
Stefan Barbarossa, Bjornaer Magus
Sheridan of the Imposing Beard and Piercing Stare, Grog Sergeant
Randle – “I’m just a cook”

But we’re starting a new game. I still like the idea of being ‘hunted’ so that will be a theme as the players want to play in the Transylvania Tribunal, there are some leads already. There’s really no comparison between Wales and Transylvania. Luckily I have a few more books on Transylvania.

Yes, they’re for “Vampire: The Dark Ages” but what would Transylvania be without some sort of concession to vampires? And it seems to be the only Mythic Europe tribunal that hasn’t been covered by some sort of sourcebook.

Email sent to gaming group

The plan is to have a Plan B game to turn to.

I’m happy to run one though you’d have to choose between:

  1. Ars Magica (campaigns over years, trouple play, multiple characters – what’s not to like?)
  2. Smallville (I’d love to try this out with the Batman legend or maybe
  3. Traveller (No ideas here but sure I could think of something)

I might be convinced to run something like Dr Who again or maybe GODLIKE.


I’m a fan of the Smallville series (so much so that the collected series is on my Amazon wishlist for October when it’s released). I’ve not watched all of it – only about 20 or so episodes across all of the series. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a “no tights, no capes” story of Superman before he became Superman. They link most “supernatural” phenomena to the Kryptonite meteor rocks but other than that it’s an episodic relationship drama (where people don’t tell people all the facts in order to prolong confusion).

But even better than the series, is the RPG. It’s got a really nice way to build characters and it’s fun watching people build them, as you can see from this “Gotham” thread and, more recently, from this “MARVELS” thread.

The former thread explores the Batman story in the years while Bruce Wayne was in college and when he started to form into the person he would become. The story in the thread explores the relationships that he would have made, his contemporaries and the reasons behind some of the stories. It’s excellently written and provides a great backstory to even the movies.

The latter thread does much the same but the lead characters are the Fantastic Four, with the addition of Tony Stark and Victor von Doom. Relationships between these ‘science heroes’ are fraught even in the beginning and it’s fun to speculate on the individuals who they would have met during their early life. Who would know that two of them would spend considerable amounts of their life wearing armoured suits?

Here’s forty shillings on the drum, For those that volunteers do come

I’ve been on a little bit of a Napoleonics obsession recently. Part of it starts from reading the Bernard Cornwell ‘Sharpe’ novels and then following up by downloading the entire collection of TV movies from iTunes. At £14.99 for 15 episodes (each 140 minutes), it’s a bargain to me. And I’ve loaded them on computer, streamed to Apple TV, watched on iPad. I even got a hold of the soundtrack!

In addition to that, I’ve bought a wee raft of books to go along with the obsession and a quick internet search brought me to an evil place of lust. I’ve not bought that lustworthy gadget and I doubt I will, but isn’t it a thing of beauty?

It’s not entirely a new development as I have always been a fan of Jane Austen period dramas and they’re obviously set during the same sort of time period. It’s therefore no surprise that an examination of the period would lead me to the officers of the stories – Colonel Brandon, George Wickham, Captain Frederick Wentworth, Captain Harville, Captain James Benwick. Some of them refer explicitly to the wars (such as Wentworth, from Persuasion) but most dwell on the officers at home.

I always thought that getting interested in the Napoleonics was something that good gamers did when they got old and grey and, to be honest, I was right. I am old and grey and I’m now, after all these years, interested in Napoleonics. Not in the miniatures stuff of course, but in the preparation of a game set around the time of the Peninsular war.

The problem with “military campaigns” is that there is a rank structure. Every game with rank structure, from Twilight 2000 to Star Trek, suffers a little from this. There are orders to be followed, missions to be completed and it’s important to be able to run a cohesive unit. Disasters in this have led to numerous in-jokes such as “Uh oh, he scanned the planet” (referring to the use of active sensors on a stealth mission) and others.

Some games get around this by giving the player characters an uncommon degree of independence – SLA Industries system of BPNs overcomes this extremely effectively with the illusion of choice. The method I intend to use would be to provide the players with relatively senior roles and “specialist” reputations and skills – not unlike Major Hogan, Major Nairn and Major Munro of the Sharpe TV series. There’s something awfully romantic about the period and when you add in the necessary degree of independence, that enjoyed by Hawkeye (in The Last of the Mohicans, set in 1757) and you have an epic story in the making – and epic stories is what this is all about. There will be death, but there will be great heroism.

I’ve played with the idea of a small group of disgraced nobles who had enough money to buy a commission being shipped around Europe doing dirty work for various rulers, receiving treaties and mission papers, purchasing graces to win back their reputations and garnering their own wealth. The opening of the campaign is delivering a bribe to the Russian court, which goes slightly awry and leads them to be named the SOBAKI (‘dogs’).

So, what do you think?

DWAITAS: Episode 0

Our first character is Constable Bob Hawkins:

October 3rd 1889, Blackfriars.
Tonight has been slow. Apart from cuffing the ear of some pickpockets, Blackfriars has never been so quiet. It’s like the night is expecting something to happen. You roust a prostitute and her John out of an alleyway and then you notice…a silver door.

The Silver Door

It’s roughly hewn and seems unreal, superimposed on the dank reality of Victorian London. As you draw near you can tell it’s cold, colder than the air on this smoggy London night, colder than the chill from the Thames.

You reach out, conscious of the chill emanating from the plain silver metal and the door opens, sliding almost imperceptibly into the brickwork. Darkness beckons beyond and one step later, you’re inside.


There’s a low hum emanating from the very walls of the room itself.

Control Room Hum (MP3)

The door opposite you flashes and standing suddenly is a lithe figure in a form fitting uniform – it looks like a young woman with some sort of dark paint over her naked body! Scandalous! The figure is wearing some sort of ball on her head and wheels on her feet. Her hands seem to be replaced with spiky, nasty weapons. Your right hand drops to your nightstick and your left grasps your whistle.

You take a step back and blow on the whistle but your back hits the door, which had silently closed behind you.

Our second character is Zanna Hughes, a late 21st Century Murderball player:

It’s the top of the innings and Caligary, top player in the Eastern League is bearing down on a lone player, unsupported by her team but holding the ball, a silvery and slipper globe with a suspension field. He readies his chainsword and primes his illegal taser upgrade. A flick of his wrist and the taser fires at the fleeing figure. Missed! He’s got fourteen seconds before she’s even in the score zone and they’re about to enter the Maze. All sorts of bad things can happen in the Maze.

The walls of the Maze close in – a chicane-like tunnel with holes and loops from which an opponent can leap. Zanna ducks and weaves from tunnel to tunnel trying to stay ahead – one false move and she could wipe out on the slippery surface or receive a horrible injury from a chainsword slash. The ball feels light in her hand so she grips it tighter. A dark tunnel ahead and she speeds towards it and through… into a strange bronze control room…and it takes a real effort to not crash into the console in the middle. Coming out of the door opposite is a stocky man in a black coat – he reaches for a hefty stick and blows a whistle…

Meanwhile, a dimension away Caligary slams into a silver door which materialised in a tunnel. He dislocates his shoulder, cracks four ribs and loses the match.

and finally, our Time Lord, The Lords Marshal.

Awake. A comforting low hum (with an equally comforting clank) emanates from the floor of the room. Your cheek is wet, your tongue confirms it is the coppery tang of blood. Pain. A throbbing pain in your right temple is likely the source of the blood.

You’re in a room walled by roundels, everything is a bronze colour. The room you’re in is empty other than you and a doorway.

You hear a high pitched whistle from the doorway. You instinctively reach for the book. The book.

This will be followed by “Episode 1: The Thief of Never”

WatchTower New England – Episode 3

Robotic Rampage Stopped By Raw Recruits

by Rhonda McAvoy of The Boston Globe
March 18th, 2002

The Prudential Center was subject to a brutal attack this morning at around 8am. Three robotic figures burst out of one of the iconic “Duck Tour” tour buses to go on a deadly rampage through downtown commuters. The three were finally put down by new WatchTower recruits, most notably the terrifying destructive powers of Sapphire and Trace.

17 Bostonians were killed during the attack, and over 80 were injured before WatchTower’s new “B” team arrived on the scene. While it’s unclear what roles the team members play, the two women on the team both used their disintegration powers to great effect, taking care of all three robots in under a minute, and saving us from further death and destruction.

The origin of the robots is still unknown, although an anonymous source at the WatchTower lays the blame at the feet of the Downward Spiral group, known to have been terrorizing important religious sites on the east coast. While many a shopper may worship the almighty dollar at the Pru, it seems unlikely that an anti-Christian group would attack there.


The Doctor uses an “old” Type 40 TARDIS. IT travels in space and time. It’s bigger on the inside than the outside. It has a broken Chameleon Circuit which means it’s stuck in the form of a police box.

Doctor Who, like Star Trek, has it’s own sort of technobabble.

From the Whoniverse

The bulk of a TARDIS is made up of Block-Transfer Mathematics. This form of Distributed Cluster Algebra was first developed by the people of the planet Logopolis. It is based on the idea that the essence of matter is structure and the essence of structure is mathematics. Using the hexadecimal notations of Block-Transfer it is possible to create Space-Time Events through pure calculation. An event or object can be described by thinking the correct Block-Transfer equations and it will instantly become reality.

These calculations are powered by raw Artron Energy. Block-Transfer Mathematics can only be computed with an organic brain because the mathematics alter the nature of reality. This would cause a traditional computer to malfunction. The original equations can however be recorded in traditional non-organic storage media such as bubble memory

When I was reading a lot about Doctor Who (around the time of the FASA RPG) it was made plain to me that the inside of a TARDIS is a completely different dimension to the outside of a TARDIS and that indeed, the outside of a TARDIS was nothing but a doorway to the TARDIS. Which is why it can materialise and dematerialise – it’s just a mathematical construct. This also explains why a TARDIS is functionally indestructible and it’s doors impenetrable.

So, the question remains, how far can you push a TARDIS?

How big can the inside be?

How many doors to the outside can there be?

This is all leading up to a game I’m prepping for Graham, Jim and Rory. They’ll encounter a TARDIS which is planetary in size, with a million doors.


I’ve been reading a lot of Doctor Who stuff recently since receiving the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (DWAITAS) RPG. I haven’t actually been reading the RPG though. I figure that the rules are secondary to the creation of compelling adventures.

I finished Tom Baker’s “Robot” and “The Ark in Space” as well as the entire first series of the Doctor Who reboot (The Eccleston series). And I’ve been spending an indecent amount of time on the DWAITAS forums.

In the first episode of the Torchwood TV series, it’s stated that Torchwood Four went missing some time ago. (It’s a sly reference to Babylon 4, from the Babylon 5 TV series as it also ‘disappeared’). My plan is to use the missing Torchwood Four team as the start of the adventure. Sure – they went missing – but it’s where they went that is interesting.

Kage Baker writes about The Company. A future organisation that recruits people in the past and gets them to steal and hide items of famous antiquity which are then sold. This has similarities to the Warheads who move between dimensions and time periods stealing technology and valuables for their employer, Mys-Tech. Another inspiration is Gatecrasher and the Technet who ventured to 14th Century Peru to steal a unique mathematical model of the universe carved from rock crystal which was fated to be destroyed in an earthquake.

Clause 374 of the Shadow Proclamation stated that “theft of an artefact of great cultural value legitimises the use of lethal force to ensure the artefact’s recovery”.

So – where does Torchood Four fit in? The Torchwood team, obviously removed from Earth somehow, find themselves without resources, without money, without ammunition, on an alien world. They do what they can but in order to find their way back to Earth and also in order to survive, they have to resort to selling their services; services which include a pretty good knowledge of history and mythology.

So, the team, rag-tag, beaten but not down, missing a few but gaining a few, battles on to get passage back to Earth.

OK, this means the GM has to apply some hefty Deus Ex Machina to keep them from hijacking the first time-machine they come across and travelling back to 2 minutes after they left. This could be handled easily by having their time-transporters be similar to prisoner monitoring bracelets. They might be indestructable, they might be keyed together, they might be able to channel ‘motivation’ from their unseen masters. Hopefully, though, the players won’t decide to just return home – they’ll embrace the freedom and get to play through the concept of the galactic government of the Shadow Proclamation – if there’s government, then there’s trade. And some of these places might be good to start.

The Doctor has arrived!

The new Dr Who RPG from Cubicle 7
The new Dr Who RPG from Cubicle 7

It arrived. And I’ve been preparing.

I’ved watched five episodes of Torchwood (the Children of Earth miniseries) as well as four episodes of Tom Baker’s Doctor (Robot) and a few episodes of Tennant’s Doctor (Silence in the Library, Stolen Earth). I’ve got plans to watch all of Eccleston’s Doctor over the weekend. I’d avoided most of the Doctor Who new stuff – having been soured of the Doctor by successively Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann and to be honest I’d never really warmed to David Tennant’s portrayal – it just seemed a little madcap, a little too camp.

So, it’s looking like Delta Green may be on hold for a while due to the holidays and some folks personal situations so I’m kinda keen to see what the fuss is all about.

I may have also ordered a copy of the Dr Who Technical Manual from Noble Knight Games. I already own a copy somewhere in the depths of my parents house – which, interestingly enough, I won when I was a kid from a competition which ran in the Daily Mail. It’s the sort of fanboi hardback that every kid in the world should have. It even included things I’d never heard of – Movellans, CyberMats and other things from earlier in the many series that make up the canon. With over seven hundred episodes out there – it’s a lot for anyone to take in and I’d previously only really watched part of Tom Baker, most of Peter Davidson and part of Colin Baker’s runs on the role. But you can also view the contents of it right here:

The Doctor Who Technical Manual

Places to go for extra fun?

How about the Official Cubicle 7 Dr Who: Adventures in Time and Space online forum? There’s already heaps of adventure seeds, character and kit writeups and discussions of campaigns that could be run.

Or maybe the Vortex Oracle for quick generation of Dr Who adventure seeds?

WatchTower New England – Episode 2

Sunday March 17, 2002 (St. Patrick’s Day)

From the log of Karl Maclean, WTNE Controller

8am: New recruits have lasted 24 hours without injury or fatality. Void seems to have settled into a leadership role, and may make a decent long-term recruit should we choose to extend their contract. Seven seems somewhat unreliable and bears closer scrutiny – he’s already made it into the media and seems to bask in attention. Kimono is more reliable but suffers from severe cultural disadvantages here in the US: this is somewhat counterbalanced by his immense powers. Trace is, as expected, insufferably young.

10am: Fifth recruit arrived today from Texas. While he looks good enough to eat, he’s sadly lacking between the ears.

4pm: New team reports a lead on the whereabouts of the old team, due to a tip-off from The Chancer. A previously unknown exotic with dimensional powers trapped and abandoned them in another dimension, with seemingly no way of recovering. Kimono negotiated some kind of agreement with the guy, but it sounds like he was conned. I don’t think Mr Canning will be happy, but then again, I doubt he’d be happy even if they brought back the old team safe and sound. I’ve e-mailed him.

7pm: Got word that we have a sixth exotic joining us tomorrow. No idea who she is or what her abilities are. Christ, it’s like superhero kindergarten.

3am: Yes, Canning is not happy. Big fucking surprise. I’m drawing up permanent contracts just in case.

WatchTower New England Episode 1

WatchTower secretly recruits new members

by Rhonda McAvoy of The Boston Globe
March 17th, 2002

Unknown WatchTower Operative floats over Old Ship Church
Unknown WatchTower Operative floats over Old Ship Church

Three new WatchTower operatives were spotted yesterday in and around the greater metro area. While no information has been forthcoming from the New England franchise, the identity of one of the new recruits has been confirmed as Vanja Mestrovic, also known as Void. Void’s intimidating black and featureless body was seen in Stoughton yesterday morning and in Hingham yesterday afternoon. He was accompanied by two old men of Asian decent, and all were wearing WatchTower clothing.

“Void’s a good guy,” says Jimmy Cortez, who worked with him at Devon Energy, an oil company. “It takes a while to get used to him having eight eyes, but he’s got a heart of gold.” Whether that’s true remains to be seen. Katherine Simmons, manager at Ikea in Stoughton, told us that he was very intimidating. “He walked in here, butt naked, with his two crazy friends and I gotta tell ya, I was scared.” Simmons wasn’t able to tell us anything about why the trio visited her store, as the investigation is still ongoing.

The sightings in Hingham were centered around the Old Ship Church. One of Void’s companions, who identified himself to local tourists as “Seven” levitated up over the church to survey the roof. The third man, wearing a thick Japanese kimono bearing the WatchTower logo, is still to be identified. The minister of the church, Rev. Kenneth H. Read-Brown stated that the WatchTower was there as a precautionary measure, given the recent spate of anti-church exotic crime on the East Coast being perpetrated by the so-called Downward Spiral group.

Does this mean that WTNE has decided to hire more operatives? While it has long been the opinion of this reporter that six is too few, why choose now to recruit? And why the secrecy? As of yet, no-one at WatchTower New England or HQ in San Francisco has been willing to comment on this development.

WatchTower State Coverage and the New England Team

Franchise mapThis map shows all 50 states, and which WatchTower franchise(s) cover each state. Those states which are shaded with two colours have agreements with two franchises, and either will respond depending on availability.

The north-east used to be covered by the WatchTower New York, but a series of blunders a few years ago by the operatives at the time created a split. New England and DC created their own franchises and New York’s influence was reduced considerably and awarded to a different vendor (Jack White). New England’s franchise is owned by a consortium led by commercial real estate magnate, Chris Pfeiffer.

The current New England team (codenames and powers):

  • Claymore – Can detonate objects remotely
  • Silverhawk – Silver-armored fast flier
  • Firewall – Fire generator and manipulator
  • Nimbus – Weather controller
  • Gemini – Creates replicas of herself

The two men on the team (Claymore and Firewall) are both capable of vast amounts of destruction. As a result, they have both loyal followers and loud detractors. To date, they have both sufficiently avoided any collateral damage that would result in the kind of bad publicity which shut down the New York franchise. Some say it’s only a matter of time …

WatchTower Franchise Map

WatchTower LogoThere are currently 10 WatchTower franchises in N. America, with a number of others under consideration by both WatchTower Inc. and various city and state governments. View WatchTower franchises on a map.

Each franchise has its own charter of specific responsibilities (primarily geographical) but in times of crisis, operatives from other franchises will help out. As can be seen on the map, many areas are without direct coverage. Exotic crime tends to be less common in these areas, and support for local law enforcement comes from both Fortress and on an ad-hoc basis from WatchTower (usually with a very hefty hourly fee).

The X-1 visa

The late 80s and early 90s saw an upswing in exotic crime, as beleaguered WatchTower franchises were stretched trying to find members willing and able to combat this rising tide.

In response in 1994, Bill Clinton signed into law the Exotic Foreign Workers Act, which passed with slim majorities in both House and Senate. This law created a new visa, the X-1, which allowed foreign exotics to live and work in the United States on a two-year rolling term. This shored up the immediate needs at the time, and continues to allow WatchTower franchises to bolster their rosters in a hurry.

Some of the conditions of the visa include:

  • Fortress screening (DNA samples, fingerprints, various scans – mechanical and exotic, etc.)
  • Can only accept employment in a role in which their exotic abilities are needed
  • Cannot apply for permanent residency

In return for these fairly stringent conditions, the application is processed fairly quickly (within about six weeks, which is lightning fast for the State Department).

WatchTower New England

All of New England is protected under one WatchTower franchise (WT-NE), which has offices in each of the state capitals (Boston, Hartford, Providence, Montpelier and Augusta) but is headquartered in Boston. To be precise, the HQ is in Cambridge, MA (want to see what it looks like?).

The satellite offices are primarily administrative, although each is known to have the supplies necessary to act as a base of operations for any given action being taken by WT operatives. At any given time, WT-NE employs around 200 people, and between 8 and 12 exotics.

Watch this space for WT-NE making news headlines …

WatchTower – What Everyone Knows

The world is similar to the world we live in now. We have all the same political, social and environmental issues, the same level of media, technology and education, the same strip malls, gas guzzlers and sitcoms.

People with exotic powers first came to the public eye in the late 50s, with a series of highly publicized crimes perpetrated by someone who could turn themselves invisible. Although this person was never caught, a team of exotic crime-fighters, known as “The American Dream,” was formed to help the people of the United States feel safer at night.

There is still no satisfactory explanation as to the origin of exotic abilities. Roughly 1 in 100,000 people manifests some kind of unexplained ability, ranging from the fairly mundane (such as Martin R. from Dallas, Texas, who can instantly tell the gender of any animal and when it last procreated) to the awesomely destructive that had previously only been the stuff of legend.

Exotic crime rose as more and more super-powered people emerged. In response, some of the original members of The American Dream (with endorsement from then-president Lyndon B. Johnson, along with other political, commercial and popular support) founded an organization named the WatchTower, aimed at fighting crime across the United States.

It quickly became impossible to fight crime over such a vast area, and the WatchTower privatized and branched out into several franchises. Over time this became the de facto standard for cities and/or states to protect themselves against exotic crime. The WatchTower has since spread to the rest of the world, with franchises on every populated continent.

Fortress formed at the same time as WatchTower’s privatization. For security’s sake, not much is known about this branch of the government. They detain exotic criminals and are often involved in their apprehension, sometimes working with (and sometimes against) WatchTower operatives. The world’s only known prison for exotic criminals is run by Fortress and it’s location is a closely guarded secret.

Back from hiatus – some new WatchTower

My move to Canada and subsequent birth of my daughter kind of put my gaming on hold, but now I’m back in a regular group and I’m looking to run a WatchTower game with them. This will be my first time doing a bunch of things:

  • Running a supers game
  • Running Marvel system
  • Running WatchTower
  • Running a game for this group

I’m using Marvel for the main reason as we used it in the past: it’s easy to pick up 🙂 It’s been ages since I’ve run anything: with the exception of a brief (and bland) Pendragon scenario in 2007, the last thing I ran was some D&D in 2004 when I was thinking of writing for WotC. Unlike Matt, I don’t have the plug-n-play-GM gene, so I’m intending to put a bunch of prep work into this.

Now all I need to do is switch to polyphasic sleep so I get an extra three or four hours in my day.

What’s up?

For the last few months we’ve been playing in Michael’s RuneQuest game and tomorrow night is the first chapter of Graham’s new Delta Green scenario.

In terms of my own reading, I’ve been concentrating on Humanydyne. I just want a simple game to tide me over and the post-modern ‘post-human’ ghettos of San Sepulchro really inspire me.


For those who haven’t been paying attention – Humanydyne is a near future RPG set in a world where there are superhumans, where Baja California has been annexed into a superhuman nation and where some sort of superhuman-precipitated disaster broke up the moon (with horrifying but strangely not apocalyptic results).

As the game is in French, my progress has been really slow and I’ve considered both asking a friend and hiring folk to help me translate it – not just for my own uses – but for the wider possibility of publishing a translation (don’t tell him but Jared would be perfect for this). It’s meant to be published by his friends in Cubicle 7 but from what I can see, they’re insanely busy already.

So, at the moment, I’m reading it at my own speed…

Last Night’s Game

I’ve been in a gaming group for nearly three years now and l ran my first game for them (or more properly two of the usual three). I’ve been echoing about it for a while and they know I was keen on Godlike, then Wildtalents, then Jorune and half a dozen other games.

So, last night we started.

After a brief handout explaining the political situation in 1949 (the game setting), the state of the world, the state of technology and the popular movies and music that year, the players received a letter that they were being co-opted into the Peacetime Draft. After a journey to Virginia, the players were introduced to the characters who would be in the game.

Jim was playing Charlie Roper. An enlisted African-American who never saw action in World War 2 (probably due to issues with authority). He lives in a dingy apartment in LA and has a job keeping the books for local shops. Charlie has the ability to induce siezures in living systems.

Graham was playing Drew Fraser. A college professor who also had a decorated career during World War 2. He has a fiancée, a tenure at the University of Chicago and a good life. He also has the ability to ‘play’ with vectors of invisible force (essentially similar to a telekinetic).

There were three other characters.

Sergeant Roger Stevens – a career Marine with an impressive build and a raft of military related skills. He also has the ability to vocally command others to perform tasks in a form of mental domination. It’s not dependent on language but does require that the target hear him.

Elijah Zaida is a young kid who encountered some sort of energy parasite that the Office of Special Projects believes is extraterrestrial. As a side effect, he’s apparently invulnerable.

Doctor Ian Parker, MD is an unwell man who insists on wearing a thick coat. We don’t know any more about him.

The Players were introduced to Senator Joe McCarthy who ranted for a couple of minutes on the dangers of letting down our guard. After he left, the briefing was continued by two CIA agents, Remsing and Dean. Remsing is relatively sympathetic to the PCs, Dean is from the southern states and refers to God in his speeches.

They were then told that Roper and Fraser would be accompanying Stevens to a small island off the coast of Alaska. Contested territory – to see what was going on there. Something large was moving around. This starter was inspired by Issue 2 of Warren Ellis’ Planetary comic book and I used a couple of scenes from the comic to illustrate some scenes.

They take a long flight to some godforsaken airfield in Alaska, then a helicopter onwards. The island is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide and consists of snow covered mountains, dense forests and permafrost. They set the helicopter down at the only flat plain, a short stretch of ground leading to the only beach.

After camouflaging the helicopter, they hike to the foot of one of the mountains and are faintly disturbed to find a footprint – a booted footprint. They set a watch and camp for the night – during the night Fraser is disturbed to hear the sound of giant leathery wings….

Next day, they hike to the top of the mountain and as they reach the top, the wind carries the stench of decay. Over the ridge of the hill, protected by dense trees and snowfall is a massive corpse.

What creeps them out more is that they find a Japanese soldier in the bowels of the beast, eating the flesh. The soldier is unable to speak english and the PCs are unable to speak Japanese but they managed to force him to draw in the dirt – how he got there…

He claims he was flying a plane and was attacked by a giant pteranodon-type creature which forced him to bail out. He had been surviving by eating the flesh of this giant lizard.

They took him as a prisoner and returned to the helicopter. As they took off, they noticed another giant object…

…which caused them to land and take more pictures. Finally able to leave, they take off…

…and return to Alaska, then take a military transport back to Langley for debriefing.

Dean and Remsing provide a short debrief – they’re pleased with the outcome, very pleased that the things out there are dead and explain that the pictures were blank, possibly due to high levels of radiation on the island…

More to come….next session.

The System I was using was a very cut down version of Humanydyne, which I’ve mentioned before. The PCs were pre-generated, there was no combat and there were only really a couple of power rolls and perception rolls. Next time we play this I’ll actually have translated the combat section from the French…

Zombi: spitballing a ‘lookout’ mechanic

After playing Left4Dead probably a little too much, I’m left with the interesting problem of wanting to emulate a little of the in-game mechanic in my (and your) favourite RPG about Zombies.

I’m also somewhat inspired by the Trust mechanics from “The Mountain Witch“.

I’m looking to emulate the advantages of sticking together, of taking a risk when you know there are others looking out for you and the ability to ‘summon a saviour’ which, in Left4Dead, is handled in music, dialogue, and video graphics.

Zombi: resurfacing on RPG.net

ZOMBI got mentioned on RPG.net tonight.

Originally Posted by CHARLIBANANAS
I’d also say ZOMBI The earth won’t hold the dead…I was surprised to see mentioned so quickly, I have AFMBE and Savage Worlds but zombi does exactly what I want from a Zombie game, and it was cheap…Other than that WoD.

Originally Posted by BigJackBrass
Zombi is a great little game and rarely seems to get mentioned. Since I’m pushed for time I’ll just direct you to Jeff’s gameblog and his description of it as one of Five Overlooked RPGs.

Excellent. Special thanks to CHARLIBANANAS and BigJackBrass.

Left4Dead, on Expert

“It’s a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, I can’t be held accountable for my actions!!!!”

Some of us (me, Savage_MF, kinnygraham and Pulse4333) have been playing this in the evenings and I must say it’s probably the best FPS I’ve played in a while due to the need to be co-operative rather than selfish.

And it has Zombies. So it’s win-win as far as I’m concerned.

Jorune Revisited

After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to revisit Jorune.

From Wikipedia

“Skyrealms of Jorune was based on a science-fantasy background (of the planetary romance subtype) created by Andrew Leker, initially for a school writing assignment. The setting was somewhat comparable to the Barsoom of the John Carter novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, in that it was a barbaric fantasy world populated by sword-wielding heroes who encountered strange alien beings and technologies.”

Jorune, first edition was published in 1984 (which means that next year it will celebrate it’s 25th Anniversary). I was first introduced to the game by John (a friend who has moved on) and from then I developed a deep and long-lasting love for the game. It inspired me more than Tekumel, left me hungering for more and irked me when I discovered that due to personalities and high claims on the value of the intellectual property, Jorune would never again be printed in another edition. (Reviews on RPG.net)

Second edition boxed sets still show up every now and then and Chessex still have a stock of the books they published:

SRP 02000 Skyrealms of Jorune™ RPG $20.00
SRP 02001 Sholari Pack™ (Jorune™ GM Screen & Modules) $16.00
SRP 02010 The Sobayid Atlas™ (for Jorune™) $16.00
SRP 02100 Innocents of Gauss™ (Jorune™ Module) $10.00
SRP 02101 The Gire of Sillipus™ (Jorune™ Module) $12.00
Call 888-243-7739 if you want to order any.

For my weekly group I’ve been toying with many ideas what to run. First of all a GODLIKE game seemed right as it would give me my superhero fix. Secondly I considered a 1950s era superhero game inspired partly by Warren Ellis’ Planetary. But at the moment my heart is set on running Jorune – converting the system to BRP (using Nick Middleton’s BRP rules as a basis and Cthulhu Dark Ages as the medium). It’s similar enough, and yet different to, the other games we have been playing. (The group is heavily slanted towards BRP-based games – we’ve played RuneQuest, Delta Green and Gaslight so far over the last two and a half years).

Jorune never really caught on though it seemed more popular than some culture games insofar as it managed to have an entire computer game created for it.

So, what have I done?

Firstly I’ve created a Jorune character sheet, (front and back) which is in PDF format and can be downloaded. I’m not challenging copyrights here – just enabling some gamers. While a character sheet is only a start and not a destination by any means, it’s going to be the first thing that my players experience – other than the Tauther guide – that is!

And where can you find more information?

I’d start with the Jorune Yahoo Group. Move quickly on to Jorune.org. And the have a look at Robert Dushay‘s and SholariJames‘ pages.

I’m going to give it a go. I need to do more work on Jorune BRP I think but it’s a starter for 10.

Not the first time I’ve been Left4Dead

From the Wikipedia page for Left4Dead
Left 4 Dead is a co-operative, survival horror, first-person shooter game by Turtle Rock Studios.
“Left 4 Dead puts four human playable or AI-controlled Survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic against hordes of aggressive “Infected” (zombies). These Infected are controlled by an AI that dynamically balances difficulty and mood depending on the players’ progress and situation. In an alternate game mode, human players can control up to four different monsters with special abilities and cooperate to stop the Survivor players.

The common infected encountered during the game are fast and agile, weak individually but overpowering the survivors with numbers. Besides common infected there are five boss infected, whose mutations grant them special abilities that make them much more dangerous.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing Left4Dead over the last couple of days – there’s something really satisfying in playing one of the ‘boss infected’ and stopping the PCs from reaching their safehouse. The music is excellent and really adds to the atmosphere. I’ve written up some statistics and additional rules for running a Left4Dead game using the Zombi rules and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

The stats for a basic zombi are:

GunPlay:0 CloseCombat : 5
B&E Action: 3 Stealthing: 3
Movement: 5 Awareness: 5
Scrounging: 0 Persuasion: 3
Survival: 3 Medical: 0

Modified Rules for Left4Dead:
Fast Zombis:

Rule: When someone comes within sight or hearing range of a Zombi it will run at the source of the noise and climb over objects to reach the source. This is especially dangerous where car or building alarms are concerned – the Zombi is especially attracted to these sources of noise, something that can be taken advantage of when a grenade is retrofitted with sound and light emitters. Zombis move at normal humans speeds.

Ganging Up:

Rule: When large numbers of zombis gang up, they will attempt to beat, hit or bite the survivor. Zombi attacks are simple closecombat attacks but if a PC is attacked by more than 4 zombis, then they have their panic rating reduced by two for every 4 zombis present – this can be very serious if attacked by 10+ zombis. A GM will roll the attack once for four zombis involved in the attack and if the result is a hit, add one point to the damage score. e.g Four Zombis attack a Player. They score a hit and roll once for damage, (1d6/3)+1 giving a result between 2 and 3 points of damage. If eight zombis make the same attack, it is treated as two groups of four. The only defense against this is a Shove which is a CloseCombat attack made by the survivor against the group. Only one group of four can be shoved at any one time and this requires that the Survivor make a successful CloseCombat attack taking into account his reduced Panic rating. There’s an advantage to keeping your back to a wall.

Fire Damage:

Rule: All zombis are severely affected by fire and even a small blaze will cause 1d6 damage per turn.

The most common boss infected is the Hunter, who has a pounce attack that pins survivors to the ground and renders them unable to defend themselves while the Hunter attacks.

Rule: The Hunter can leap up to sixty feet ( 20 metres ) in any direction. If it makes a successful Movement, then it will land on a Survivor within range and pin them. The only defense on this is assistance from other Survivors (or shooting the Hunter first by winning initiative). Once pinned, the Hunter does not need to make CloseCombat rolls to successfully hurt the Survivor but inflicts 1d6/3 every turn.

The Smoker has a long, grasping tongue which can capture survivors and drag them away from their teammates.

Rule: The Smoker may make an Awareness roll to ensnare and drag a Survivor up to thirty feet (10 metres). The survivor may again only be released through the intervention of another Survivor. Once ensnared, the Survivor is helpless against other attacks (from other Zombies) and after 1 turn of dragging, will also be attacked by the Smoker itself for 1d6/3 per turn.

The Boomer, a bloated infected whose vomit and bile attract the common infected and temporarily blinds the player.

Rule: A successful Movement roll means the Boomer has successfully vomited over every Survivor within 10 feet (3 metres). If shot, the Boomer will explode and coat everyone within the same range in his foul-smelling bile. The Boomer only has 5 hit points so this can happen easily. Once covered in the bile, the Survivor’s panic rating drops by a full five points for two turns as the liquid distorts vision. The bile will also attract every Zombi within a kilometre (half mile) to the Survivors (GMs will likely roll 2d6+6 to see how many show up.

The Tank is a huge, muscular infected and the most difficult to kill. The Tanks can knock the survivors back a distance and throw objects in the environment or large pieces of earth.

Rule: The Tank’s CloseCombat Score increases to 10. It may also pick up rocks and anything to hand and throw them using it’s Movement score with a range of 100 feet (30 metres) doing up to 1d6 damage. This may be dodged. The Tank has thirty hit points and will therefore take a lot of gunfire to take down.

The Witch is not aggressive, unlike the other boss infected. She will not attack the player unless provoked; by loud noises, lights or being near her. However her attack is the most damaging, on all difficulties her attack will knock down a player in one hit and on the expert difficulty is instantly fatal.

Rule: The Witch has Movement 10 and CloseCombat 10. She also has 30 hit points. But she will not move unless there is loud noise within 10 feet (3 metres). She will then attack doing 1d6 damage per successful hit.

Terms (Left4Dead, Hunter, Smoker, Boomer, Tank and Witch) and contexts used in this post are likely trademarks of Valve Software and is not meant to infringe. The game is $49 on Steam and also available in good games stores worldwide.