Tag Archives: RPGs

Blades In The Dark – Session 5

Fifth Session – A lot of different kinds of activity this session, without the frontal assaults that are our bread and butter.  Of course, our attempt to sneak blackmail material into a police inspector’s house to have some dirt on the Bluecoats goes south and there’s some shooting.

Delazia Finchester, of the Circle of Flame (cult), which is an underground subset of the Centralia Club (National Geographic Society style club), has been on Reis’ “get with” list for a while.  (In other words she’s the Emma Frost of the Inner Circle in the Hellfire Club, but less evil). They want some artifacts that sound exactly like the Vecna stuff – the eye of Kotor, the hand of Kotor, the head heart of Kotor… Reis talks everyone else into it, his primary motivation being that Delazia is hot.

So he summons a spirit, the Hand of Sorrow, to get information.  That starts going awry and we end up sacrificing Stinky Pete, our formerly-homeless hanger-on, to it. We are very careful to keep this both from Kraid and his player Tim, who missed the session, as they are both big Stinky Pete fans.

Then we go to trade that info to the Centralia Club and get unceremoniously shooed away by the doormen and a backup ghost.

Blades In The Dark – Session 4

Fourth Session – The Red Sashes are no more, and we decide to start a fighting pit and start trouble with the Crows. I just watched Dolemite so I ensured that it ended up in a Dolemite-style club confrontation in the end!

We’re getting the hang of the game, so decide we need to expand our turf with a fighting pit (which will generate revenue for us). Of course you can’t do anything without stepping on some other gang, even though we did find a spot that had been off limits due to haunting but had recently been cleansed. We took it over and came up with a bunch of plans that we eventually decided were too complicated, and just started a fighting pit, invited Lampblack gang leader Bazsho Baz, and waited for the Crows to show up and start trouble.

They did; we played a weird game of brinkmanship with having the audience back our play but not so much they get murderized. There’s ghosts!  Shotguns! In the end we capture a couple of them and, since we’re from a professional mercenary unit, ransom them back to the Crows.

And Kraid continues his very long term plan to turn the homeless people in the turf we own into craftsmen, making nets… None of us can figure out why he’s sinking so much effort into it. His new friend Smelly Pete is proving useful, though.

Blades In The Dark – Session 3

Third Session – The Red Sashes decide to get back at us by coming to take over our homeless-infested mansion. A lot of violence ensues. Then when we go to try to sell off some bank notes we liberated, a captain woman decides she’ll ride Marto like a Harley on a bad piece of road.

The fight against the Red Sashes starts off pretty rough – the dice mechanic is not good in general (“get a 6 on a pool of 2d6, and you will be fine…”) and they are all higher tier which means penalties to that.  But the tide turns dramatically when Toad crits with a alchemist-bomb into a crowd of opposition and next thing you know we’re mopping up retreating survivors.

Of course, then we’re at war! So many rules… Downtime actions and gang stuff and clocks and mandatory stress relief and it all requires rolls that have collateral problems. But we’re getting by.  We get a bunch of ship captains and such to cut in on redeeming our stolen bank notes, and one takes a fancy to Marto the Bear, which entertains all of us except Bruce.

Blades In The Dark – Session 2

Second Session – We continue to maneuver with the other gangs like the Crows, Red Sashes, and Lampblacks.  We decide we need some turf so take over a  homeless camp. Starting small.  But we meet some lady in an Eyes Wide Shut kind of cult so that’s cool.

My guy can summon and semi-control ghosts, but when things go bad it’s a problem.  This session, our NPC gang members get in trouble betting in a fighting club and so I try to summon a ghost to break it up and I end up having a Ghostbusters kind of experience where I get an ancient god like Gozer instead but in a latrine instead of a refrigerator.

Then we decide to do a home invasion of some guy called Lord Skinnister.  I forget why, besides all his prostitute murders. Oh, right, it was to pay off the gambling debts of our hapless NPCs. Kraid murders his way through the house and we get to the Lord and his weird S&M dominatrix friend. She holds a knife to my throat but Kraid kills her anyway.  I banish him to the ghost dimension in an attempt to distract the ancient god that keeps bothering me.

The game system is very… game-y.  Luckily we had a discussion about this after the last game – so many of these newer games are kinda “meta”, with a lot of detailed rules about doing things that tempt you to plan, plan, plan, roll without pausing for actual in-character roleplay.  This game has that tendency, but we as a group determined we needed to put extra effort into counteracting that so it’s going well.

 

Blades In The Dark – Session 1

First Session – Welcome to our Blades In The Dark campaign!  Besides character and gang generation, we go to jack with the Red Sashes gang at the behest of the Lampblacks gang who are both destablizing the previously ascendant Crows gang.

Our gang, the Gambler’s Orphans, was a mercenary company on the losing end of a recent war.  Now our base is an orphanage, the Yaggo’s Home For Miscreant Children, in the Six Towers district.  We seek to build ourselves up into a force to be reckoned with!

  • Bruce is Marto “the Bear”, a Hound (murderer type 1).
  • Tim is Kraid Naben, a Cutter (murderer type 2).
  • Patrick is Thaddeus “Toad” Todd, a Leech (doctor/alchemist).
  • Chris is Hasten Doom, a Lurk (thief).
  • Ernest (I) am Reis, a Whisper (ghost wrangler).
  • And Paul is our GM.

We learn how to exercise the rules and plan and execute jobs. The job goes well and we take the Red Sash war treasury.  This is one of those mechanics where you need a 6 on d6 to succeed and succeeding with some major blowback is largely indistinguishable from failure, and you can usually boost up a pure fail into that fail-with-much-pain region.  I had played a one-shot of this game at Chupacabracon and had realized that it’s not much good as a one-shot because so much of the mechanic is about long term clocked goals and incurring wounds and stress and stuff that penalize you in subsequent sessions.

We also learn about their use of the hip new mechanic called “clocks”, which is making a pie-chart kind of circle and using it as a counter towards some goal.

Still Here, Still Gaming…

I know I have trouble posting much any more, but I am putting session summaries up still on the Reavers page.  The campaign’s still going (in fact, I see that we just passed 10 years!).

We’ve been playing other stuff in the off weeks as well – currently, a Blades In The Dark campaign – I’m putting some summaries up (they’re hand written by a player), the campaign page is here.

We briefly played Coriolis but the GM had trouble keeping it going. It’s supposed to be Arabian Nights in space but it kinda felt like all our other space games in the end.

Pathfinder 2e Playtest Retrospective

Well, we played through the Pathfinder 2e “Doomsday Dawn” adventure through 7th level (the first three scenarios, The Lost Star, In Pale Mountain’s Shadow, and Affair at Sombrefell Hall).

It was… fine.  It’s not super different from Pathfinder from a 10,000 foot view. The main changes were:

  • the “three actions a round” thing – you get three actions, which can be any mix of attacks at iterative -5s, or moves, or spells, or whatnot. made rounds take longer, but probably at higher levels cuts down on time since you can’t do 20 attacks.
  • how crits work – if you beat what you need by 10+. More crits but more math.
  • how magic weapons work, with plusses adding whole dice of damage.
  • Spell Points for everyone to power whatever innate abilities, but not spells, which kept confusing us.  Why not Power Points?
  • Random slight spell changes
  • A weird baseball diamond icon used to indicate how many actions something takes instead of just using a damn number
  • encumbrance simplified into “Bulk”
  • magic item slots simplified (?) with “Resonance”

It didn’t seem better or worse really, just different. You may recognize some of these specific rules from 5e, 4e, and other RPGs, none of it was real innovative.

Unfortunately, that is a bit of a deal-killer for us.  We have loads of PF 1e stuff, more than we can ever play.  We play other games too.  There’s no killer feature in PF 2e that makes us say “I really want to play this!” It’s unexciting.  And from running through the adventure, it’s not just on paper – in play it’s the same thing, like Pathfinder 1 but just with some warts removed and some new ones added. Huzzah?

I was leaning on Hero Lab hard for the deep NPC work in Pathfinder.  They’re (Wolf Lair) apparently not carrying on with existing Hero Lab, they’re abandoning it in favor of a new subscription-based online service (Hero Lab Online) that I’d get to pay for new and differently, despite investing probably near $1000 into HL over time. Again, starting over for “different but not better really.”

I mean, I don’t *dis*like the game – but it’s telling me “abandon all previous thousands of dollars of product, for something that’s… like it but slightly different.” And I’m not clear what I’d get out of that.

I love Golarion and their Adventure Paths (I got into it from being a Dragon and Dungeon subscriber and converted over).  They know how to write adventure and setting for sure.  In Pathfinder 1e the mechanics weren’t too revolutionary, but as they went on they had a knack for picking good and iconic classes instead of the weird junk WotC had been doing even in 3e/3.5e.  “Witch, Alchemist, Cavalier”, makes sense!  “Acolyte of the Skin! Candle Caster!” No. The archetype system allowed a lot of class customization and that was cool. Fun game, played it a lot, though I must admit over time the extreme amount of rules content caused us to play other, lighter games about 50/50 (they call it Mathfinder for a reason).  But heck, I’m still running a 5 year old Pathfinder campaign, it’s a good game. They’ve had good instincts and business practices. I wish Paizo well.

To really make PF2 a success like PF1 they’re going to have to come up with something besides “inertia of PF 1e players” to drive adoption. The kids nowadays are moving to D&D 5e. If I’m going to coast, I want to coast on the existing game.  For a new Pathfinder to get me to keep subscribing (to the tune of a lot of $$ per month), I need *something* new and exciting.  It could be more rules light, but doesn’t have to be, it could be anything really innovative. But it’s pretty clear they didn’t have a huge innovation in mind that drove them to make 2e – they just figured it was time and started cobbling something together. Is the setting new?  No, same setting I have 100 supplements for, they’ll just re-release the exact same content with some new stats so I won’t really get anything new.  Do the new rules unlock any new actual kinds of classes or characters?  No, so all the new supplements will just be “and now here’s the witch with some different rules.” What am I supposed to be looking forward to?  There’s not really messaging on that.  Check out their Web page – it’s just like “playtest this now.” It’s not even trying to hype me on something.

When D&D went from 1e to 2e to 3e, each time was a really big change and improvement. Hit tables to THAC0 to DCs level improvement. I just don’t see anything like that in Pathfinder 2e.  If it was released 10 years ago as “our new D&D killer” instead of 1e, I would have loved it and played it and it’d be in the exact same spot as 1e is now, like I say, there’s nothing wrong with it.  But after 10 years, a new edition should be something to really move the needle on your gaming, and after giving it a fair shot at play – it’s just not.  At least not in the current playtest form.  But I don’t have a lot of hope it will change dramatically from the playtest – I mean, I’m sure they’ll fix some of the issues, but you don’t fix “it’s not really that innovative” in a playtest.

I fear the net here is “I and the gamers I know here will keep playing PF 1e, just a bit less each year; we’ll wish Paizo well but not buy much.” Starfinder didn’t grab me (science fantasy isn’t my thing), and PF 2e isn’t grabbing me.  Maybe they’ll put out another RPG that’ll draw me in eventually, but thus far looks like I’ll need to pack up my love for Paizo products, put it in a box, and bring it out and remember it from time to time.