Tag Archives: story hour

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.

New Campaign – Spire

spire-cover-blue

Spire

Our newest campaign is based on the Spire RPG.  This is a cool high-concept game – we are all drow living in the Spire, which is a China Mieville-esque super weird giant tower where each level is a whole neighborhood.

But the elves have conquered it and keep us down as an oppressed underclass (along with their human lackeys).  Therefore, we foment rebellion! It’s like Vornheim meets Bas-Lag meets Menzoberranzan meets the Black Panthers and the IRA. Good stuff!

I recently read Melvin Van Peebles’ book Panther and racial politics are a big deal nowadays, so it’s interesting to explore it as a batch of privileged white guys.

Here’s our characters:

  • Firebrand-lo

    Firebrand

    Abu Al-Nisr (Paul), a carrion priest and clutch mate to Tamar and Tariq. He has a hyena to help devour the dead, as is only proper.

  • Tariq Al-Nisr (Me), a firebrand and clutch mate to Abu and Tamar.  He brought Slav into the revolution the old fashioned way, sexing her into radicalization.
  • “Fortunate” Tamar Al-Nisr (Bruce), a Bound and clutch mate to Abu and Tariq.  He rescued Lyddia Jath when she fell from the Perch.
  • Lyddia Jath (Chris), a Vermissian sage. She knows Abu’s secret, which is that he was captured by the gnolls and joined them in fighting the drow army.
  • Theratrix (Matt), a midwife. She saved Abu’s life during the war, not realizing he was fighting alongside the gnolls.
  • Slav (Patrick), a blood witch. She has tasted Lyddia’s blood and believes she’s fated to kill Tariq.
  • Krieth (Kat), a human emissary. Appeared briefly and was gone just as fast.  For the best, humans aren’t trustworthy.

The game system is pretty Apocalypse-y.  Our initial direction for liberating the Spire is to compromise the Hive, the big ass prison blocks, and use that to recruit people to overthrow the hated high elves!  Word of our adventures will come…

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 9.49.47

The Spire (Aboveground)

Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Fourteenth Session

waterspoutFourteenth Session (9 page pdf) – “Escape the Eye” – The shore team returns to the Araska, counts their loot, and sets their course for the Shackles. But a giant waterspout intervenes.

It’s just some giant lizard fighting and then they get back to the Araska with their prize.  But navigating the Eye of Abendego is no picnic, another waterspout bangs up the Araska.  I keep rolling hot on the random weather table.

Then they pass the Bloody Vengeance on its way to the Green Blood on Black Rock local monster fighting festivities! They seem interested so I’ll have more on that next time.

But then, another random weather roll…  How many 00’s can one set of dice hold?  It’s the largest waterspout possible, F5 style. Eek!

Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Thirteenth Session

wendifa

The Wendifa

Thirteenth Session (12 page pdf) – “The Key To War Machine, Part III” – An epic fight with juju zombies and a Wendifa (female witch doctor) has lasting effects as they scour the tomb for the amulet of the Terraken.

Bonus: Jitikai the Wendifa’s Character Sheet (pdf)

More dungeoneering, and then a fight with a Juju oracle! Voodoo all over the place; juju zombies, she zombifies and mind-controls party members.  Fun!  They even leave her alive… Kinda.

 

Reavers on the Seas of Fate, Season Five, Twelfth Session

Twelfth Session (8 page pdf) – “The Key To cannibalWar Machine, Part II” – Cannibals apparently infest the crypt, which in addition to normal crypt dangers keeps the pirates on their toes – and losing some, to the grinding bear traps all over the area.

It’s all sodden dungeon crawling with cannibals this session!  Still using “Tomb of the Necrophage” from Tombs of Golarion.

Easter egg – the cannibal’s chant of “Upote, maepote, maepu, maedepote” is from one of my favorite Karl Orff pieces, “De temporum fine comoedia“.

 

 

Freak Watch – Session Six

The Freak Watch continues their heroics!  See the campaign page for more.

Session Six Session Summary (3 page pdf)

Well, thanks to La Catrina teleporting her possessed mom inside the mansion, now Smorgascorpse himself is on the rampage.  Which is the silliest villain name ever.  But, he summons zombies, takes control of the ghost of Meriweather Lewis, yadda yadda. We execute a complicated plot including a “make the baby disappear like in Willow” gambit and eventually bust his lame skull up.

But, he’ll be back… Floating necromancer skulls are hard to kill.  We decide to go steal more bits for a ritual to put him away for good.  Paul randomly decides they’re at an abandoned amusement park in the Philippines.  Then we google it and find out there really is an abandoned amusement park in the Philippines named “Fantasy World” which is a great cover for an underground SKULL base.

But sadly, this is the last session summary.  We played another time or two and finished out the campaign, but Chris wanted to focus more on playing the game and less on the session summaries because so much of the game’s focus is the interpersonal relationships and personal journey of the characters, and session summarizing kinda gets in the way of interaction.  It’s easier for “long round” mechanics games like Pathfinder, but it can be hard to keep up and participate well in an Apocalypse type game.

Never fear, we all live, Kid Kafka gets turned back human and gets a big ol’ kiss from Teenage Vengeance Shadowblade! La Catrina and The Infamous Wasp make up and decide to be real heroes their own way.

I enjoyed playing La Catrina, the emo Hispanic teenage girl with various family ties. Masks is a good system, we are loving the various Powered by the Apocalypse games and how people can really mold them to suit the exact kind of feel they are looking for.  This campaign definitely came off as “Young Justice”-y and the teenage mind-changing and self-discovery, and the up and down relationships with peers and adults, were deeply hooked both into the roleplay but also the game mechanics in a very satisfying way.

Freak Watch – Session Five

The Freak Watch continues their heroics!  See the campaign page for more.

Session Five Session Summary (5 page pdf)

First, we go to the HQ of the Los Muertos motorcycle gang to call in a favor from Centipede. Then, Kid Kafka disappears into a cocoon.  And La Catrina’s mother gets possessed!

Finally, the group all comes together to fight a killer robot and bunch of goons trying to deliver an explosive statue.

I take a lot of joy in always using a different word for the Infamous Wasp’s name (Incredulous Wasp?  Inconsolable Wasp?) and arguing with him about race and gender politics. He basically is a black teen whose mentor (The Question) has become a Rush Limbaugh style radio host which La Catrina finds incredibly vexing; depending on the state of their relationship her reaction varies from gentle ribbing to “what is wrong with you, you Urkel looking pendejo.”

Freak Watch – Session Four

The Freak Watch continues their heroics!  See the campaign page for more.

Session Four Session Summary (3 page pdf)

Kid Kafka has a bad experience at a Denny’s (par for the course) and then when we find out Junior Musto is going to steal a hovercraft that Rory Limbo is building for the Atomic Skull, we decide to steal it first!

The Masks rules continue to balance us between superheroic action and teen interpersonal drama in an entertaining way.  And Paul takes with good humor our lack of knowledge of the fringes of the DC universe. (La Catrina keeps getting Lady Shiva mixed up with The Centipede because obviously someone named Lady Shiva would have multiple arms, right, it just stands to reason…)

Freak Watch – Session Three

Welcome to the Freak Watch!  See the new campaign page for more.

Session Three Session Summary (5 page pdf)

This session begins with the ghost of Meriweather Lewis hectoring Teenage Vengeance Shadowblade in the haunted mansion that serves as our base.  He warns of a supernatural threat poking around.

smorgascorpse

La Catrina’s Artist’s Rendering Of What Smorgascorpse Must Look Like

La Catrina, Infamous Wasp, and Kid Kafka are driving back from Whitey Gated Community when she calls.  La Catrina, happy to get away from her continuing argument with Wasp, teleports there and they drink Boone’s Farm and commiserate till Zombie Marco probes the perimeter… Apparently TVS raised him (a former capoeira-oriented hero) to help in some fight. He demands she give the shadowblade back to “Smorgascorpse”, some enemy necromancer of TVS’es.

Then the rest of the group shows up, and TVS gets a text from the boys she met in Session One and we go to an underground club to meet them.

So it’s hard to get across in the session summary all the emotions and stuff involved in the session. It’s easy to write down the physical action, but in Masks the emotional action is as important (and it’s what a lot of the mechanics are about).  From La Catrina’s point of view, she went and got paired off with some boring guy who started talking smack about the killer “ripper roach” – obviously Kid Kafka – and got her mad. He missed the increasingly dangerous glint in her eyes as she led him on with “ooo tell me more,” and then she lures him over to an alley to “stand guard while she throws up” and then makes an illusion of the giant killer roach, panicking him.  Kid Kafka and Wasp “come to her rescue” and she’s laughing, she tries to get Kafka to feel good about her “sticking up for him” but he gets mad instead and they have an argument with various game moves involved. 

catpaladin

Paladin Cat!

Then there’s a fight with a bag lady or something, she didn’t pay as much attention to that, though when the zombie rat swarm went towards the club full of kids she did make an illusion of a phalanx of paladin cats that turned them away!Anyway, then we steal a safe, and then we go to a zombie hobo jungle.  Plot ensues. The most interesting part is when Kid Kafka gets overwhelmed with zombies and la Catrina tries to leap into the horde to teleport him out but fails, she suddenly becomes possessed by Santa Muerte, which works well in the short term but then TVS smacks her right out of Catrina. So that seems like it’ll be some long term conflict.

Freak Watch – Session Two

Welcome to the Freak Watch!  See the new campaign page for more.

Session Two Session Summary (4 page pdf)

This session starts with a little vignette for each character.  Kid Kafka goes to see an entomologist friend, La Catrina goes home to see her mother, and The Infamous Wasp goes to the radio studio where the former Question hosts a fringe conservative talk radio show. Teenage Vengeance Shadowblade is not in attendance.

juniormusto

Junior Musto

But then a bunch of bikers – the Los Muertos gang that La Catrina’s brother Lalo is still a part of – roll into the college and start making trouble.  Kid Kafka’s on the scene; the rest of us get over there. Wasp fights all the bikers while Kid Kafka and La Catrina rescue some scientist from Junior Musto (Darkman on crystal meth). Turns out he is a SKULL scientist (you know, some naughty science organization like they have).

The rest of the session is us making him get us into his gated community – apparently all the people working for this plastics company aren’t just in a normal gated community but like an across-a-ferry, super-high-security, ethnics-certainly-not-welcome kind of community. We scope out his house and KK and Catrina drink some of his beers and get a selfie of the underage Catrina sitting in  his lap with a beer for later blackmail purposes.  The super proper Wasp doesn’t like this and sulks outside and he and Catrina engage in an epic text message argument that gets her all upset (actually inflicting the Guilty condition!). But, she got to call him “a square-ass Urkel wanna-be.”

The end of session moves squiggle our stats around!  Stats aren’t fixed in this game, they go up and down with moves, at least at the end of each session and sometimes more. It explains why some of those teen supers are hell on wheels in some episodes and pathetic losers in others!

Freak Watch – Session One

Welcome to the Freak Watch!  See the new campaign page for more.

tidwell-deaths-head-moth-red-web

Death’s Head Moth

Session One Session Summary (9 page pdf)

The first session of Masks is interactive character creation. Paul handed out the playbooks, and I picked the Delinquent; Chris, the Protege; Patrick, The Transformed; and Tim, the Doomed.  He told us we were in Hub City, which is the Detroit-like home of The Question from DC Comics. We came up with…

La Catrina, ex-gang Hispanic girl who got Santa Muerte type powers of illusion and teleportation following a gang shootout. She is a graffiti artist; the graphic above is a representative sample of her work, usually left somewhere inaccessible for someone without her powers.

The Infamous Wasp, a young black man who is the protege of The Question, the retired Rorshach-like former hero of Hub City. He detects and fights and bosses us around.

Kid Kafka, who was transformed into a roach-man on some archaeological dig gone wrong. We’re pretty sure he was a honky before becoming a bug. He has big bug powers (being strong, being indestructible).

Teenage Vengeance Shadowblade, whose name is obviously inspired by the Deadpool movie, is a gender-ambiguous Asian emo. She’s a necromancer and telekinetic and has some magic witchblade thing.

We came up with a backstory driven by the system’s questions about how we came together and had battled The Banshee And The Wailers and generally crashed at TVS’ haunted mansion. (Haunted by the ghost of Meriweather Lewis, I’ll note.)

The first session was mostly a softball; we went to a traveling Egyptian exhibit and were interrupted by “Seismic Prime” and “Centipede” busting up the road and causing trouble. It helped get us used to the mechanics – there’s no ‘roll to bust heads’ maneuver – here, look at the moves for yourself. There’s adult moves to act more directly but even “Directly Engage a Threat” doesn’t do, like, damage to them. A lot of the action – between PCs and NPCs, but also between PCs, are the softer moves.  I finally “defeated” Centipede with Pierce The Mask after rattling her some; she gave me info and scuttled off with me now having Influence over her. Fights generally aren’t to the death or even to the unconsciousness.

An interesting attribute of the rules is that in Dungeon World, our previous Powered by the Apocalypse campaign, the moves are pretty standalone. In Masks there seem to often be logical followup moves and a lot of the collateral effects are e.g. gaining Influence or even causing someone’s stats to shift.

After the fight, both Kid Kafka and TVS had gotten flak from the locals (roach and vampire are attacking, run!), and Wasp and I went back to the mansion and used various moves like “Comfort or Support” on them. In the end it all went well! Paul declared he’d have to put a stop to that.

Our session summaries are less in depth than some campaigns because we’re moving fast and Chris wants to participate in the fun and not just write it down!  I’m also taking notes and adding bits and pieces in post. Enjoy!