Category Archives: talk

All Those Lovely NPCs

In a recent comment on a Reavers session summary, flyboy1986 asked:

I’ve marvelled at how each of the crew seem to have a distinct personality (besides being murder-hobos). How do you keep track of everything??

Great question.  Thanks for noticing and I’m glad it comes through!  One of the things that I believe is the most important in an immersive RPG campaign is putting effort into well realized NPCs and bringing them to life.  I would venture to say it’s near impossible to put too much work into that aspect of a campaign.  In our Reavers game, besides the usual crop of villains and lovers and whatnot, they have a crew of over 60 people on their pirate ship.

Some people would have you “abstract that out.” Those people suck. Think about well done movies/TV shows.  They have even minor characters be memorable – even people you don’t hear their names.  To take a naval example, movies like Pirates of the Caribbean or Master and Commander, you feel like you recognize and know a little bit about random ship crew – there’s the ones that get more play than others (the two guys who were soldiers and became pirates in Pirates, the old Hold Fast guy in Master) but the more you see some random swab and remember them and think “oh yeah that’s the flute playing guy” the more realistic a world you get.  And realism of your game world is the table stakes for player investment in the world and NPCs.

Now, I don’t rely on tooling for much of it – here’s the actual documented list of crew on the Teeth of Araska:

Crew

PCs and Command Crew

  1. Captain Sindawe H’kilata Narr, the fist-punchin’ Mwangi monk (Chris).
  2. Quartermaster Ref “Serpent” Jorensen, the staff-bashin’ Ulfen druid/ranger and his snake Saluthra (Paul).
  3. Master Gunner Wogan, the pistol-packin’ celibate cleric of Gozreh (Patrick).
  4. Bosun Tommy Blacktoes, the staff-slingin’ sneaky halfling rogue (was Kevin, now an NPC).
  5. Ship’s Wizard Samaritha, the wand-blastin’ serpentfolk wizard in the guise of a pretty half-elf; Serpent’s wife.
  6. Ship’s Surgeon Hatshepsut, monk and high priestess of a lost civilization and her cobra Naja.
  7. Lavender Lil, a buxom tiefling ex-prostitute, and Tommy’s girlfriend.

Araska Pirates (all have gunnery, a silver plated weapon, and a clw potion)

  1. Gunner’s Mate Stoke, Ftr3, gunner’s mate, married to Tegan, breastplate +1, potion alter self, heavy mace +1
  2. Carpenter Tanned Hank – Ftr3, really, really tanned. Swim skill. Ship’s masterwork spear, breastplate +1
  3. Second Mate Tasty Mike, Ftr3, former Chelish navy, studded leather +1, +1 heavy mace
  4. First Mate Big Mike, Ftr3, from Sargava, part owner of the Vile Fish, studded leather +1, +1 shortsword.
  5. Third Mate Klangin – Ex-Chelish prisoner, half-orc rog4/barb4, some magic
  6. Coxswain Gareb – Ftr3, Andoren, swim skill, ship’s long bow, ring of swimming, cloak of resistance +1, horn of fog
  7. Orgon – Ftr3, short, bald , battleaxe +1
  8. Slasher Jim – Ftr3, knife expert. Azlanti amulet of natural armor +1, trident +1
  9. Dum-dum – Ftr3, simpleton + masterwork wooden shield, shock net

Freedmen (Ex-Chelish slaves) – leather and long spear if not otherwise noted, one silver plated weapon

  1. Bel, ex-eunuch slave – War3, masterwork chain, silver heavy mace
  2. Pirro, porter – Com3, charged spear, mwk heavy shield, potion darkvision
  3. Ori, cook – Com3, ring of protection +1
  4. Sevgi, ex-harem slave – War3, studded leather, cloak resistance +1, +1 longsword, belt incredible dex +2
  5. Kahina, ex-household slave – Rog2, amulet natural armor +1
  6. Karomander, fine craftsman – Exp3

Bunyip Crew (gunners have 1 less rank in Stealth; all have 1d6 SA, 2d6 if flanking with each other)

  1. Billy Breadbasket – Rog1/War2, cook, gay
  2. Feissian Hareskinner – Rog1/War2
  3. Dario – Rog1/War2
  4. Samuel – Rog1/War2, hand axe +1
  5. Taunya – Rog1/War2, master gunner
  6. Clubbreaker Cordell – Rog1/War2
  7. “Sexy Beast” Sapier – Rog1/War2, master gunner, belt giant strength +2
  8. Tiberiu – Rog1/War2, belt giant strength +2
  9. Hovax Littlehands – Rog1/War2
  10. Prand – Rog1/War2

Wandering Dagger Crew (War2 Str +1 Dex +1 Con +1 Prof (sail) +5, Toughness, Power Attack/various AC 14 HP 20 BAB +3  Melee +4 Dmg 1d8+1) mwk flail + mwk wood shield

  1. Thalios Dondrel, son of Mordekai (was first mate)
  2. Blacktop Bill (was quartermaster)
  3. Crazy Jake (was master gunner)
  4. Courtland Breeden
  5. Eamon
  6. Stormy Sherman (allegedly her real name)
  7. Wekk the Cloven – Shoanti

Recruits

  1. Mitabu, the keel-breakin’ Mwangi rogue
  2. Zoamai, the elf-hatin’ half-Mwangi, half-elf sorceress, headband of mental prowess
  3. Olgvik – Bar2/Rog1, Ulfen low-level barbarian with a greataxe, captured at sea, potion expeditious retreat
  4. JJ – seamunculus of a wizard refugee from the Sun Temple Colony
  5. Claxton, Exp3 from the Sun Temple Colony
  6. Nemo – Shipmate
  7. Melella – half-elf druid 1 from Magnimar, druid’s vestment, treant seeds
  8. Rucia – fledgling Desnan ex-waitress from Nidal, cleric 1
  9. Arsonee – a heavily scarred Nidalese fisherwoman
  10. Luca Caletti – Ex-Chelish marine with a black powder sniping rifle
  11. Brancis – Ex-Chelish prisoner
  12. Phamas Harcey – Ex-Chelish prisoner, high profession(sailor)
  13. Aelia – aasimar bedwarmer for Big Mike
  14. Flavia – aasimar bedwarmer for Gareb
  15. Volcatia – aasimar bedwarmer for Little Mike
  16. Said – Rahadoumi cabin boy
  17. Narbus “Lefty” Smeet – Exp2/War1, lad from the Sun Temple Colony
  18. Kutaamo – tengu Rog3
  19. Mandohu – lizardfolk warrior, hat of disguise, ring of feather falling
  20. Chidike – Mwangi ex-slave off the Boastful Shaman
  21. Kunto – Mwangi ex-slave off the Boastful Shaman

Passengers

  1. Marr Eiderson – Ulfen skald (bard).

That’s it. 61 people (including the PCs).  A hefty challenge – but heck, I need to push my own abilities while GMing to get better!

Thalios Dondrel

Thalios Dondrel, Son of Mordekai

Of course all 61 of them didn’t just airdrop in one day. This campaign’s 6 years in. So what I do is, when they’re introduced, try to make sure and include something interesting about each one.  The first crewman they ever met was Thalios Dondrel, son of Mordekai, and besides his name he was butt naked on a ghost ship when they met him, and he speaks in a super-piratey accent all the time. When they met him again much later, they remembered him.

The ex-Chelaxian slaves they rescued, settled on an island, and later went back to recruit as pirates – there was an illustration in the module of Bel, Pirro, and Sevgi. Bel was bald and heavy so I decided he was a eunuch, and he and Sevgi had this weird relationship that then made him really want to go to Druid Witch Regeneration Island to get his gear regrown.  Having actual goals other than “serve the PCs” adds realism and thus

Kahina, Bel, and Pirro

Sevgi, Bel, and Pirro

remembrance. Pirro was human but the PCs kept thinking he was half elf from his picture. Some people say “always go with what the PCs say!” but you have to mix it up – often it’s great to grab onto something the PCs say and add it to the NPC, but in this case I contravened that by saying “nope, human!” so they decided he was pretty metrosexual.

Mix it up.  There’s a handful of crew I use voices for (I don’t use voices for everyone, but JJ the perverted seamunculus gets a Gilbert Gottfried voice), a handful I use body language for (Lavender Lil most notably), others with specific habits (like Slasher Jim the serial killer or Stoke who is kinda deaf and talks loud). Some I’ve got a good picture for that I use, too – just Google it up, or rip pics from gaming PDFs (or even take cell phone pics from print ones). There’s Big Mike and Little Mike, whose names and dynamic I stole from two old gaming buddies I had in Memphis.  A NPC from Nidal has different flavor from a NPC from the Sun Temple Colony in sunken Azlant, or an ex-Chelish military recruit, or an escaped slave. Remember that different players remember things differently – they may be a more visual person or may like Cheliax a lot or whatever, so they’ll glom onto some things another player doesn’t.

And then there’s just incidents of luck.  I roll randomly when they’re in port to see what good and bad things happen, and once one guy gets robbed by a bunch of hookers that becomes part of his character. There’ll be a fight at sea on the ship and I’ll roll some dice and determine that Tanned Hank rushes a monster while others are hanging back, and suddenly the PCs are like “that guy’s crazy, which normally would be good but he’s our only carpenter so we really need to manage protecting him better…”

Then once there’s anything memorable about a character – you double down on it.  Whenever that NPC is involved in something – maybe it has to do with that.  Oh that pirate’s a junkie, so if some random encounter happens to her it is while she’s trying to buy drugs.  A little reinforcement goes a long way. Wogan accidentally said something to Klangin the orc when they found her, so now she’s continually pursuing him romantically (as is the meek Desnan, Rucia), so the chaste cleric is in a weird love triangle.  It makes the NPCs vivid to him and the rest of the PCs (since egging them on has a lot of entertainment value).  I try to never say “a crewman says X.”  It’s always someone specific. I roll 1d61 (computers, it’s easy) and when it tells me Dum-Dum is the crewman on watch, and then I roll a Perception check to notice another ship and he botches it, the PCs are like “Well… He isn’t the brightest, I mean, it’s right there in his name, you can’t really blame him that much.” In the real world, people start interpreting input to reinforce preexisting assumptions they have about people.  This is problematic in the real world but it’s your friend as a GM.

You’ll notice I don’t have much of that written down in the crew list.  It’s in session summaries, but in general when done right people just remember. If it has to be written down, it’s already unsuccessful.

Sometimes I wish I had a more rich relationship mapping tool, and have considered a bit more of a morale/mutiny kind of system – but more tracking or mechanics isn’t strictly needed.  I’ll have one of the PCs make a Diplomacy check if I think the crew’s opinion is at stake over something to see how they take it.

And besides that – just give NPCs some initiative.  I mean, I’ve played in so many games where all the NPCs just sit there like it’s World of fucking Warcraft waiting for PCs to ‘activate’ them.  My PCs know if they leave their pirates around for too long unsupervised they’re going to definitely try to steal, snort, screw, or deface something.  They’re pirates!!!  And they get ideas of their own. Like when they were on Firewatch Island and went on shore considering looting the local monastery.  The PCs found out about zombie attacks and called a boat over from the ship, with a monk in attendance.  They told the crewmen “tonight, there may be a zombie attack…” in kind of a weird leading way.  So the pirates decided that was their captain trying to subtly communicate to them, and rowed back that evening dressed and made up like zombies to “attack the monastery.”  The PCs weren’t sure whether to crack up, be upset, or be impressed with their plan.  NPCs run off, they get married, they drown in a ditch when drunk. They’ve got their own agendas and ideas, they’re racist against elves or are kinda OCD about stuff or are always talking about the inn they’ll buy when they retire rich.  Just take some random thing that comes to mind from a real person or a book/TV/movie character or whatnot from the last week and stick it onto an NPC and watch it grow.

And it pays off.  A number of times they’ve had some random crew member – and not one of the main ones – get into a fix to where I kinda assume they’ll just sail on and let them rot in jail or be kidnapped by a rich pervert or whatever.  But they absolutely don’t, and go out of their way and to great expense and/or danger to rescue them, even if it’s objectively deserved and/or their fault. They’ve invested thousands of gold in magic items into their crew. They trust some, distrust others, enjoy the company of some, not so much of others…  All of the ingredients required to be realistic and memorable.

 

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Weather Generation For Golarion

The topic of weather generation is popular among sim GMs.  The answers boil down to either random tables or using an almanac to find relevant weather from a place/time similar to the campaign’s.

Since I run a naval campaign, specific temperature, wind, etc. is an important part of the game to me and my PCs. I was using a random table method (using tables cobbled together from several sources because no one source has tables that are complete and don’t suck) – but I think I have a new plan along the almanac method line!

Enter VentuSky. Frickin beautiful isn’t it?  An animated map of temperature, wind, etc. for every hour of every day. Wind… Waves… All the info you’d ever want.  And on Golarion most areas are “Earth-like” – my PCs are sailing down the coast of Garund, which can be easily mapped one-to-one with the African coast. In fact, use this very cool interactive Golarion map to set up equivalencies!

The only problem it’s a short window forecast instead of all historical data, so you’re kinda stuck to same time-of-year as current IRL, but I thought I’d share it anyway! I emailed them to see what the chance was of getting historical data in there as well… I’ll update you!

More One Shots!

Well, we’ve been doing one shots this whole year since Wrath of the Righteous wrapped up.  In February I reported on the first few in One Shots!  Since then we’ve played (I may be missing some):

The Gaean Reach, by Bruce.  A GUMSHOE game based on the writings of Jack Vance – yes, of course it’s authored by Robin Laws.  I missed this one, sadly.

Firefly, run by Paul.  I got to play Kaylee!  Trad system, but fun.

Monster of the Week, run by me. Another Powered by the Apocalypse game, went down well. Meant to be like Supernatural or X-Files or whatnot – you know, monster of the week!

Lasers and Feelings, run by Paul. A free one-page game where basically you have two stats, Lasers and Feelings, and they both add up to 6 so one goes up at the expense of the other. Fun, but very freeform.

Fiasco, run by me.  An interesting very narrative game where it’s more about building the story than looking out for “your” character. We did the wild west playset thing and everyone ended up sad and/or dead.

Nain for Reign, run by Tim. Reign is Greg Stolze’s current One Roll Engine game, and Nain is a Gormenghasty setting for it. We enjoyed this too.

Paranoia, run by Paul.  Who doesn’t love Paranoia!?!  I’m hazy what rules we used for this, or if we just used one of the random light systems we’ve been using for many of these one-shots.  In fact, I think maybe it was Cypher System.  Yes, yes it was. Good times.

Alternity Dark*Matter, run by me. We played a big Alternity campaign so everyone knew the system already.  I ran the demo adventure “Exit 23” and murdered nearly all the PCs.

Shadowrun using the Cypher System, run by Paul.  Everyone likes the idea of Shadowrun, no one in their right mind wants to bite off its huge rules system. (Even they have realized this and just rolled out some more rules-light engine for it.) So we did it with the Cypher System from Numenera et al, and it worked out well.  I’m mildly concerned whether that scales to a campaign just because of the “one-shot” nature of the cyphers… Shadowrun is usually aggressively sim.

ICONS, run by me. Random superheroes! The heroes did quite well in beating a time-travelling enemy, Tempus Khan, from  the RetConQuest adventure.

Gods of the Fall, run by Paul. More Cypher System, I missed this one.

Demon: The Descent, run by Tim. Some World of Darkness 2.0.  We had fun demoning it up, but as with all WoD games it’s more like superhero combat.

Unknown Armies, run by Paul – the third edition that we Kickstarted and got an early version of! Always fun, and we all had some magick. We got to play New Inquisition agents mainly because I love the Lawyers, Guns, and Money supplement for 1e so much.

Only War, run by me.  The Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard game!  I used a Free RPG Day quickstart adventure.  We ran out of time at the end and they got killed by Naval orbital barrage, which everyone agreed seemed fitting.  IN THE GRIM DARKNESS OF THE FAR FUTURE THERE IS ONLY WAR.

Savage Rifts, run by Paul . OK, some people manage to bother with the real Shadowrun system, but RIFTS?  Good lord. Luckily, there’s now a Savage Worlds version and I’m happy to report it’s very playable!  We had a glitterboy, a juicer, a cyborg, and a mystic knight and we romped on our opponents (the juicer died of generally being a juicer, but not till the end).

Paul kept trying to run Dramasystem but never got enough people to show (I missed once but not because I was avoiding it).  So, we didn’t get hands on that, but we got to mess with a lot of the cool new systems – Cypher System and Powered by the Apocalypse were the favorites.

We talked and said maybe we should get back to a campaign soon.  So after a 5e one-shot, Paul said he’d be interested in running:

  • Shadowrun using the Cypher System
  • Savage RIFTS
  • Dungeon World, using a Paizo AP

After some talking, the “Paizo AP” part swung us over to Dungeon World.  Pauls ent out a SurveyMonkey to vote on which AP and results will be in soon. We’re interested in how it’ll play out without the “level 10+ turns to shit” syndrome of using Pathfinder itself, and how we’ll balance being player driven with having an AP plot around. Feel free and share, if you’ve done so!

Geek Recreation Day: Boozin’ and Streamin’

man_high_castle_tv_series_mapIn a somewhat-of-a-stretch Beastie Boys homage, I thought I’d bring you all a geeky report on the televisual marathon some of our gaming group just had…

  1. The last episode of the first season of Man In The High Castle, the “the Axis won” Amazon alternate history series based, as is everything else, on a Philip K. Dick story. The series is pretty good, we want season 2 to come out!  The finale was – well, not quite as murderfesty as the end of a Mario Puzo novel, but still reasonably dramatic. For this, we drank two Apple Brandy Spritzers (pronounce it really German-ey! Apple brandy and club soda.).  Last time we watched this series we went to the liquor store trying to find German and Japanese booze, and it was an eye opening experience, because they don’t have any that’s any good.  (Beer and sake don’t count). We’re not frat boys so we’re not drinking Jagermeister or Goldschlager, so some questionable German brandies and some sake were all we could muster from our friendly Twin Liquors.  Even in the show the Nazis drink “American brand whiskey.”  Perhaps their lack of decent distilled spirits was the bond that brought the Axis together (same deal with the Italians – Galliano?  Campari?  They all taste like ass juice.). The powers of gin, vodka, and whiskey came together to tamp their evil asses back into place. Let that be a lesson to you.
  2. Next, a shot of Patron Roca tequila and the pilot of the Amazon series of The Tick.  A lot higher budget and more actioney than the previous ill-fated Patrick Warburton live action adaptation.  Not quite as cool as the cartoon version – the actor for the Tick only 80% sold me on it. He was saying the quotes, but saying them and not feeling them. I’d like to see a full season, but with some Tick improvement.
  3. Then, some Courvosier and the Amazon pilot of Jean Claude Van Johnson, a weird show where JC Van Damme plays himself, but himself as kinda retired and washed up, both from movies and from being an actual black ops agent called “Johnson.” He gets back into both chasing an old flame, to mixed results.  It was entertaining enough but it was a very odd tone – and I don’t think that tone would be sustainable over a series, I think it would inevitably go goofy serial Burn Notice or something, so I don’t think it is a go.
  4. We decided to graduate to movies.  The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse was entertaining since I was a Boy Scout in my youth, and zombies, and just enough boobs for an R rating.  Champ from Anchorman is the scout leader and the ginger from Workaholics is the first zombie kill, and Cloris Leachman is the crazy cat lady. That’s it for people you’ll recognize. Not quite Shaun of the Dead, but not Zombeavers or Zombie Strippers bad.  For this, more tequila, now sipping not shooting.
  5. Next up was The Sasquatch Gang.  Like Napoleon Dynamite but not as good, but vaguely entertaining. We had to turn on the closed captions since the blond shirtless guy mumbles the whole way through Boomhauer-style and the chick gets her jaw wired shut and then hiss-mumbles the rest of the way through. It has the kid from Live Free Or Die Hard and a bunch of other people you don’t know except for a cameo by Napoleon Dynamite. (The similarity to N.D. is neither accidental nor subtle.)  It’s about finding Sasquatch tracks and some small town geeks who do the foam-sword thing and Carl Weathers shows up in a cameo as some glory-chasing cryptozoological expert. For this we had to break out a custom drink I call the Krusty the Klown – it’s Southern Comfort and cherry juice.  Tastes like cherry cough syrup.
  6. And finally, P-51 Dragon Fighter.  This is a goofy made-for-SyFy type movie where Allied pilots in North Africa fight the newest Nazi weapon, dragons, complete with swastikas tattooed on their wings. By the guy who did Jack the Giant Killer and Sand Sharks (man, Sand Sharks sucked).  This was weirdly uneven.  Some of the acting was really good. The sound work was pathetically awful.  We had to turn off the closed captioning nonetheless since it lagged the movie by a full minute. The CGI was halfway decent.  But the costuming budget was approximately $200 total.  They managed to cobble together one halfway decent Nazi uniform and had sadly blank ones on the two other high ranking Nazis; none of the Allies wore anything other than a tan shirt as best as I can remember. Those who had to drive couldn’t drink for this one; luckily it was at my place so more Krusty the Klowns sufficed till the SoCo was gone.

All went according to plan – as we got more drinks in us, worse and worse movies were entertaining and not trying!  I am not sure any of those three movies are watchable fully sober, and I know the latter two certainly are not.  I feel like I’m not remembering some other drink we had, we did something else sippy with ice early on, but I fear the other 8 or so drinks have elided it from memory. This is over like 8 hours though, so it’s not like we were ultra-snockered. Some ice water and cheesesteaks were involved partway through as well.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four Retrospective

I called this season “Family Matters” because it was so family friendly!  Well, OK, it wasn’t family friendly at all.  But the major theme was family.

  • Serpent and his (serpentfolk) wife Samaritha had their egg!
  • The PCs go to help Wogan’s sister and baby nephew in Nisroch!
  • They go back to Staufendorf Island where a would-be wife awaits Sindawe, Serpent’s long lost mother (well, kinda), as well as the bastard children of the pirates from their last raid.

I must say, those who leave family, marital relations, etc. out of their games are missing out. We had some great drama this season of a much more nuanced version that “bad guy gonna blow up world go get ’em!”

This season took more than a year and a half, realtime. In fact, it contains the five year mark of the campaign!

Things I really liked about this season:

  • The PCs returning to Riddleport as conquering heroes, and partying up the place as real pirate players, instead of the hirelings and minions they started out as; dealing with Clegg Zincher as equals, etc. I meant for it to feel gratifying, and like a graduation of sorts. They left as pirate noobs in Season Two and this is their homecoming having made a legendary-scope pirate voyage. They’re unlikely to be back there ever/for a long while so I wanted to wrap it up and put a cherry on top.
  • All of Nidal. It’s crazy spooky and I tried to use every GM technique to bring the suck to life. It’s so bad that even though they could have sold the info for good money, the Araska and Dagger command crews basically agreed to not tell anyone about White Estrid’s approaching attack fleet because “this place needs to get wiped off the fucking map.” And then them having to skedaddle in the middle of the invasion when it all went down!
  • The return to Staufen Manor, and all the bizarre and horrific goings-on, from the erodaemon preying on their greatest desires (including Serpent’s lost mother), to the aasimars who have had iron masks welded to their faces by envy-haunted Amalinda Staufen, to the lacquered bodies of her family and their baby-feast, to the dungeon of amputees that provide meat to feed her new “Ravenous” template. All super jacked up, *and* with the pleasant frisson of the PCs being somewhat to blame for it all.

I liked the Deepmar module OK, but in the end it felt a bit more like filler.  But, I guess the PCs liked it, since they refused to leave before exploring every single nook and cranny of the island. And they got a new love interest for the celibate Wogan – half-orc barbarian Klangin and meek fledgling Nidalese cleric Rucia now both have their eyes set on him, much to his discomfort.

The pacing was also nice, with periods of good honest pirating between the landlubber adventures. The Teeth of Araska and its crew are a major character in their own right, and the PCs spend a lot of time interacting with, training, disciplining, etc. their crewmates.

Sources I used putting together Season Four, besides homebrew:

That’s not a huge amount of published page to get a year and a half out of, but it was well leavened with the PCs’ own plots and my fantasia upon all the published Golarion lore I can get my hands on from the various guidebooks, NPC books, etc.  The deep Golarion lore forms a kind of base layer it all sits on; every trip somewhere has some point of interest or whatnot… Heck the PCs even feel safe asking.  “Oh, what kind of things do they ship out of here?” “Well, lumber goes downriver, primarily darkwood and strangle tree wood.”  “Whoa cool!  Let’s buy some!”  Nowadays for session prep I really just need some notes in Evernote and a Hero Lab portfolio with some NPCs and critters in it, and it all just runs itself.

Player Reflections

Chris (Sindawe) says:

  • I enjoyed the minor missions and the party in Riddleport. But I also enjoyed leaving that place — I had the sense that it was a place we were permitted to touch but not break. And as with all social structures, most PCs don’t have the patience or time to penetrate them without murder and arson. [GM – Heh, it’s pretty appropriate as pirates that being around large settlements where there are consequences for e.g. arson is undesirable. The PCs always needle me about Riddleport being a pirate-started city and it still not letting people go on murder-sprees or burn stuff down… But that’s why the deep blue’s out there!]
  • I liked Deepmar – it had a mystery that we could solve without having something held hostage. Fighting crazy derro was memorable. Mitabu had several moments to shine. [GM – Yeah, this taught me to continue to have a strong exploration element in the game because they really took to it.]
  • I am disappointed that Ed and Ashley didn’t continue gaming with us. [GM – Agreed, Ed hadn’t left quite yet by the end of the season but I think Ashley had, I’ll cover this in a later blog post.]
  • I enjoyed the return to Staufen Manor, though I had hoped to find a baby Sindawe. [GM – I briefly considered this but thought it would be too dark and uncomfortable in what was already one of the darkest sessions to date, apparently I was wrong!]
  • I enjoyed Nidal’s redneck country side and the story around Wogan’s sister. Patrick was given more face time than he wanted and he handled it well. I regret not having Sindawe bathe in the “golden god hot springs”. I also regret that the PCs were not called upon to commit atrocities that guaranteed the sister’s noble position. [GM: Yeah, Patrick is a quiet player and I wanted to put him in a lead role for a little bit, worked out well I thought.]
  • We got away with murder in Nidal, which was nice. [GM: Quite so. Seems like a good vacation shirt slogan. “I got away with murder in Nidal and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”]

The other guys didn’t comment in email.  Their feedback is in summary 35, though, where I asked everyone what they wanted less of, liked and wanted more of, etc. going forward.

Red Markets Kickstarter

Another Kickstarter I can’t live without – Caleb Stokes of Role Playing Public Radio has been working on Red Markets, an economic survival zombie horror game, for a while…  Check it out here!

I like the premise, once you get other people and settlements in your “survival horror” then it becomes less pure struggle and more economic/class struggle… I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout 4 and it’d be nice to do similar stuff with more realism wrapped around it.

It’s already funded, and it’s all about stretch goals from here on out. The previous two I backed were successful; Savage Rifts made $438k and Unknown Armies made $266k.

Savage Worlds Rifts and Unknown Armies 3rd

Finally the gonzo world of Rifts is not tied to the criminally stupid Palladium system. Savage Rifts is coming and you can get in on the Kickstarter now!

Also, the third edition of the great RPG Unknown Armies is in the offing, also on Kickstarter.