Showing posts from April, 2012

Oh, Poo!

I finally got spam on one of my posts, so I'm instituting captcha and restricting comments to registered users. Crap, I hate doing that. I really, really hate captcha.

Regency/Gothic Design Journal One: Hindrances and True Love

Even if you've never read Pride and Prejudice or seen one of its many adaptations, you are familiar with certain tropes of romance fiction codified by Jane Austen.  Unless you've been living in a cave on Mars your whole life, you've read, watched, or heard something that falls into the the romantic comedy category.  Maybe it was "Bridget Jones' Diary" or "High Fidelity."  Maybe it was "Shaun of the Dead" or "Thor."  Whatever it was, it presented the search for love as a quest for self-perfection.

Yep, self-perfection.

(And yes, "Thor" is a romantic comedy.  Cute meet?  Sparks fly?  The mighty hammer Meow-meow?  Romantic comedy.)

A romantic comedy hero or heroine is much more beset by personal failings than external adversaries in the quest for love.  He or she or both of them together must overcome his or her or their personal failings in order to be worthy of love.  Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy are both bese…

Why I'm Obsessed with the 18th Century

I was born in 1973.  I literally grew up watching this, and in fact wrote and (badly) illustrated a story for my kindergarten class about characters named Dinny, Moore, and Lance.  I still think this is Monty Python's best sketch ever.

Pirates of the Spanish Main Sessions Reports 5 & 6

Or, "Perhaps it was a player and not the miniatures slowing things down."

Sessions five and six were played back-to-back with a change in players and emphasis prompting the second half of last Saturday's game to be considered a separate session (with bennies redistributed to the players and additional experience awarded).  The PCs in the first session were Nana, Elias, Gunter, McSliceathroat, Commodore Wendy, and Kit.  The second session featured Nana, McSliceathroat, Lady Wendy, and Kit.

Session 5

Lacking any clear objective, the players looked at the maps and began suggesting places to which to sail.  Isla La Blanquilla was selected because it seemed interestingly mysterious.  Knowing nothing about the place aside from what's in the PotSM rulebook, I decided it was the home to the Order of St. Brendan -- a Celtic Christian secret order of monks who have catalogued the hiding places of all the weirdness in the world (and who curse like the cast of "The Commitme…

Pirates of the Spanish Main Session Report 4

In which things get crazy...

As mentioned back in this post, we decided to forgo miniatures and maps in our fourth PotSM game.  Freed of the time consumption required to move figure flats around and liberated from the tyranny of maps, I got to work doing what I do best as a DM: winging it.  Characters in attendance were Nana, Elias, Johnny McSliceathroat, Captain Wendy, and Kit.

Since they were still in Port-Au-Prince (a civilized, law-abiding port), I decided it was about time Elias Cordwinder's "Wanted" hindrance caught up with him so I gave him a Notice roll versus a group of thief-catchers tailing him.  He won, so I let him lead them into an ambush.  Nana rolled so well on her Stealth that I let her get the drop on them.  She cut four down with one Sweep of her katana, won initiative on the next round, and cut the remainder down with another Sweep.  Their leader, a mysterious German duelist who is not Gunter decided discretion was the better part of valor.

Kit sugges…

Le Vin et La Vie (or What I'm Actually Running Right Now)

After an amusing but unsatisfying turn at superheroes (NEWSFLASH -- Batman-style vigilantes are sexy, but not very romantic), Robin and I have turned to swashbuckling again.  I really, really want to run some good swordfights and the Age of Sail is far more romantic than the streets of Hudson City.

I'm trying to work in a deliberate tongue-in-cheek humor by having all the characters named after wines -- Madamoiselle de Malbec, Duc du Burgundy, Marquise du Chablis, Monsieur de Pinot Noir.  I'm having a lot of fun with the names; we're making an effort to sample French wines right now and we've concluded we don't like Burgundy-style wines, so all the Burgundy styles and grapes get to be the bad guys.

I wasn't exactly sure of the era when we played the first two games, but I've decided it must be about 1740 or so (I played the first couple of games as closer to 1660, but that just isn't going to work).  Enlightened thought is on the rise but nobody's …

Unsurprising Results

My thanks to everybody who voted in the Regency Romance mashup poll (can you believe my idiot auto-correct recognizes "mashup" but not "Regency?") and extra thanks for all the encouraging comments.  As I expected when I started the poll, Gothic Horror won by a big margin.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters started a literary mashup boom, so the concept has to be popular with someone.

(My heartfelt thanks to those who voted for the Arthurian Regency concept; Arthuriana was a boyhood love, and I still feel it tugging on my heartstrings from time to time.)

Rats, now I have to read P&P&Z just so I can not do what they did.  And -- if I'm going to make a stab at professionally publishing this thing instead of just releasing it as a fan work -- I've got to get the project done before the P&P&Z movie gets released sometime next year.  (Assuming it's still in production; all the directors and actresses k…

Last Day to Vote

It's the last day to vote in my goofy poll. My thanks to all who have voted so far!

The Drops of God -- Even More Savaged!

I went nuts and added a bunch of content to my The Drops of God post.  Another Edge, more wine-tasting rules, and more characters await!

The Drops of God - Savaged!

The Drops of God is a manga by the writing duo of Tadashi Agi and artist Shu Okimoto (yes, writing duo under one name; the Japanese are weird). Like many manga, it's the story of a plucky young man with an amazing talent who battles rivals and gets stronger on his way to becoming world champion -- only, in this case, it's about wine-tasting. Seriously.

It is awesome.

I am learning so much about wine by reading this series. Robin expressed our admiration for it much better than I could over on Vitis Poema but I thought I'd give a try here -- by statting up some elements for Savage Worlds.

Wine Tasting

Whether they are shonen (boy's manga) or seinen (men's manga) heroes, the defining attribute of Japanese heroes is their tireless spirit. Wine tasting in The Drops of God is a transformative, transporting experience; the characters literally have visions while drinking great wines (like seeing Queen in concert or reliving a childhood memory). It is therefore appr…

Poll is still up

The Regency poll is still up if you haven't voted. Gothic Horror is winning by a wide margin, but I basically expected that.

I'm thinking about ways to use the other companions and toolkits. A pulp Regency would basically resemble the "adventure romance" subgenre you can currently find on bookshelves (and typified by my favorite living author, Loretta Chase). A superheroic Regency would look a lot like Zorro or the Wold Newton universe. I've heard there's a sci-fi series (the Vorkosgian saga?) with Regency overtones; I'll have to track that down.

POLL: Regency + ?

If you were going to play in a Savage Setting based in Jane Austen-style Regency Romance, would you rather see it paired up with Gothic Horror or Arthurian legend?

Like most RPG bloggers, I fantasize about publishing professionally or semi-professionally.  Given that the majority of my gaming over the last decade has been romance-infused solo sessions with my wife, I'd like to take that experience and translate it into the written word.  The long-sought Savage Jane Austen setting seems like a perfect opportunity

Most Savage Settings, however, are a mash-up of unexpected genres: fantasy + alien invasion, military + horror, Pirates of the Caribbean + Pirates of Dark Water, etc.  The two genres that I think would best fit with the Regency are:

Gothic Horror - Jane Austen was a contemporary of Mary Shelley and Lord Byron; the heyday of the Gothic novel was during Austen's lifetime and her novel Northanger Abbey is a satire of the prevalence of the Gothic.  The classic Gothic is ac…

Horror Companion

Picked up the dead tree version of the Horror Companion at Dragon's Lair, my local FLGS/FLCS (along with the latest issue of "The Lone Ranger") today. Looking forward to reading it.

Pirates of the Spanish Main Session Report 3

So...  This was basically a continuation of the "Eye of Kilquato" part of the previous session.  We didn't use maps and so got to wing it a bit more.  The characters in attendance were Nana, Elias, Gunter, the Mad Arab, and Kit (obviously; I really shouldn't bother to mention Kit).

One of my players tends to be a bit of an attention hog (it is not my wife).  During session 3, I resolved this problem by having everyone draw initiative cards for non-combat situations too.  I forgot to do that this time.  That was a mistake.

The PCs and their skeleton crew sailed to Cartegena to negotiate the return of the governor's sister.  Gunter decided to woo Esperanza and left her pining for his return after they ransomed her.  Nana piqued the interest of Commandante Luys de Alva, Esperanza's fiancee, but the pirates' tenuous safety  in Cartegena left her no time to pursue that attraction.    The players decided that rather than plunge straight into a dungeon crawl, the…

Pirates of the Spanish Main Session Report 2

The second PotSM game was a mashup of "The Wreck of the Solarah" from Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition and "The Eye of Kilquato." The characters in attendance were Nana, Elias, Gunter, Captain Wendy, Johnny McSliceathroat, and Kit.

I chose to smoosh the two adventures together because I already had the EoK maps printed up (I've run it several times for different groups) and I wanted to give the PCs a better chance of recovering the treasure.  I twisted things by having the Kilquato worshippers be worshippers of Lovecraft's Dagon instead, and explaining the tribesmen's greenish skin as the Innsmouth look.We opened the session with a statement of the Social Contract.  It worked -- briefly.Gunter's player got the clockwork arm he'd been begging for (+1 to damage rolls and Toughness).  I really didn't want to include Clockwork Punk in the setting because I wanted a more swords and sorcery/Robert E. Howard vibe, but it shut him up.  Besides, …


Here's a random thought:

In an X-Men-style superhero game, you could begin each session with a "Danger Room exercise" in which the players are encouraged to try out new ways to use their powers and push their characters to their limits. No bennies could be spent in the Danger Room, but raises on awesome new stunts and the like would be rewarded with extra bennies in "real life."

Or something like that.

Pirates of the Spanish Main Session Report 1

The first Pirates of the Spanish Main session that I ran several months back was a pretty direct use of the One Sheet Adventure "Smuggler's Song."  The characters were Nana, Elias, Gunter, and Kit.

Since all the players chose landlubbers, I was happy I chose to include a GM PC in the mix.  Gunter's player objected that I would abuse my power.  Seriously, dude, you've known me for twenty years and gamed with me for six months and you really think I'm going to do that?  I'm 38!  I've grown up!  And none of your PCs even knew how to row the boat ashore!Elias cased Father Theodore's place for valuables while Gunter mocked Caribbean society.  Hey!  I just noticed Chris Williams invoked using Fatigue to emulate drunkenness.  Why isn't this a regular part of the rules?The landing party planned to go to Lady Elaine's place next, but were spotted by the watch.  Nana and Elias hid in the dark but Kit (who was carrying all the contraband) a…

Pirates of the Spanish Main Campaign Characters

When I began this Pirates of the Spanish Main campaign, I decided that I wanted my PCs to have a chance to catch up to the grossly overpowered embedded setting NPCs -- beyond legendary characters like Captain Blackheart and Jack Hawkins -- so I allowed everybody to simply take an NPC archetype from a list I made of roughly even-powered archetypes from the PotSM and Solomon Kane bestiaries and then take additional Hindrances to customize the character. This allowed for really quick character creation and gave me the ability to start throwing tougher opponents at the PCs immediately.

(I like to use a lot of Wild Card NPCs; it just isn't fun if the bad guys go down with one good hit.)

The cast includes:

Kurokawa Nana (Robin EB) - a Skilled Duelist (PotSM p. 224). As her name implies, Nana is Japanese. She was inspired by the discovery a year or so ago of a katana in the ruins of Port Royal (as seen in this documentary). Her backstory is that she was exiled to Sado Island by her fami…

In Which Sean Gives Up the Use of Miniatures

I've had a once-a-month-or so Pirates of the Spanish Main campaign going for a while and yesterday we had our fourth session.  The players are friends of mine from my college days a decade ago who -- with the exception of my wife Robin -- don't really have much RPG experience.  This didn't keep us from having one of the most rollicking good games I've had since the glory days of high school (where, admittedly, the only glory to be found was in gaming).

Oddly, I owe that good time to abandoning the use of miniatures.  I never used minis before taking up Savage Worlds a couple of years back, but I've used them in all of the group games I've run with various sets of gamers over the last couple of years.  I got to really enjoy them, but I realize now that they're pretty damned time-consuming.  It's amazing how many minutes you can waste counting out squares.

Because we didn't use minis, I was able to run a back-alley ambush, a brutal naval battle, a lop…