Thursday, November 29, 2012

Overreaction Thursday

So, what's new with D&D? Not much! It's been about a month since the latest playtest package - which is seeing almost zero action at our house in favor of "real" games. The lack of interest in it made me realize that this is the first holiday season in a long time where there is not a current version of D&D for sale - think about it ... we're done with 4th edition releases but there's not a new edition on the shelves yet nor do we have a release date for the next version.

In 2007 4E had been announced at Gen Con but there was still some 3E stuff out as late as October and there was at least an announced release date.

Prior to that there was a pretty solid run from 2000-2006 with 3E stuff. Even the 1995-1999 tail end of 2E had interesting stuff like the player's option books, Alternity, the 98 Greyhawk revival, the core rules CDROM, and the Dragon Archive. I think you have to go back to 1988 for a similar gap though  I'm not sure as the Dragon insert was in the Feb 1989 issue, so we may have still been unaware in the holiday season of '88. Prior to that new stuff was pretty consistent going back to the 70's and at that point you're getting into "before me" time.

So it's a little weird this year. I suppose I can still pick up some 4E stuff for the Apprentices - we are still playing it after all - but I'm not going to go nuts with it.

  • What about Pathfinder? Sure, the "NPC Codex" - fine for DM's, not much use for players. We're not doing much with Pathfinder right now anyway.
  • Fantasy Hero? GURPS? Runequest? - either not interested or no news so nope.
  • Savage Worlds? Might look at that new Deluxe rulebook I mentioned a few posts back. The price is certainly right.
  • ICONS? - Still no Team-Up
  • Marvel - They have the basic books and there's not much else besides the Civil War event books. Not sure they need a copy, especially if I'm going to be running it for them.
  • Champions? We have plenty of 4th & 5th edition and I'm not looking to buy into 6th edition right now so nope.
  • Mutants and Masterminds? They have core books for 2E & 3E so there's not much else they need as players.
  • Star Wars? There's not anything but the beta of that FFG set. Not paying for a beta, and not terribly interested anyway. 
  • Star Trek? Who has the license for this now? Where is it? Even Traveller Prime Directive was pushed into 2013 so no go there either.
  • Deathwatch - hmmmm, maybe. I got them Rogue Trader last year and I don;t think either of them has bothered to read the book yet.
So it's kind of thin right now for RPG gift type stuff as far as things we play or might play soon. Maybe the 4E Essentials Rules Compendium and the Savage Worlds book, the Pathfinder core or Deathwatch if I find a deal or run out of other ideas. Fortunately 40K and the Xbox are always good for this kind of thing.

Other stuff:
  • They're releasing a hardcover compilation of the Slavelords (A-series) adventures and the S-series adventures. OK, I suppose, but don't we all have this already? Those of us who care anyway? This seems to me like a clear effort to separate veteran gamers from their money to keep the machine running while Next is in development. Nothing wrong with that and they have just as much right to the money as people on ebay but I'm not really interested in buying them yet again.
  • There was some general stuff about class design here and an earlier article about "expertise dice" here that didn't really punch a button for me one way or another. It's hard for me to describe the general feeling of apathy I have with Next. I just really don't care that much about it - I don't hate it, I just don't see anything that really excites me about it and that's a weird place to be for me.
  • I liked Ed Greenwood's article on trade and such as much as anything else I saw in the last few weeks.
  • For old schoolers who might have missed it Greyhawk Grognard had a post defending level drains that made some interesting points. I still don't like losing levels - and I didn't back when it was new - but he does provide another point of view.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FC2K B1: The Spatula City Massacre

Something was clearly afoot, thought the Knight of Justice, as he followed the unsuspecting ninja through the city. Why would a ninja be headed for ...

As other ninjas swarmed out of the darkness and entered the store his suspicions were confirmed - this was something big...

Our heroes:

  • Knight of Justice (Costumed Adventurer) played by Dave, one of my regular grown up players*
  • Stella the Mystic (Mystic) played by Lady Blacksteel
  • Angel of Justice (Flying Mentalist) played by Apprentice Red
  • U.S. Patriot (Paragon) played by Steve, another one of my regular grown up crew
The game is Mutants and Masterminds Second Edition. The setting is Freedom City. The reason is that I have a ton of stuff for M&M 2E in general and Freedom City in particular. So, rather than taking on another conversion job (see the two D&D 4E campaigns I'm running) I decided to run straight up second edition until I run out of material. 

Another new wrinkle here besides the system is that I'm running it with Hero Lab, using that for character construction and also using the tactical console to run things in play. The earlier experiment was a success so I'm adopting it for the whole campaign.

I've named this branch FC2K "B#" because this is a different group of players and characters that will be on a different track than the Apprentices most of the time, though I hope to work in some crossovers if the opportunity arises. The primarily-Apprentices branch is the A branch. Just trying to keep things organized from the start in the hopes that these turn into decade-long campaigns - hey, you never know!

Anyway, the original plan was to run one of the Dr. Null adventures from Lame Mage, which I really really like. We had some problems with character generation and printers and holiday stuff which meant that when we finally sat down to play I did not actually have the bad guys set up in Hero Lab which is kind of required to use the tac console. During the general cutting up while the DM frantically tried to type in data inspiration struck and I tossed that plan and went with a new, totally off-the-cuff adventure that was in no way influenced by having seen much of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie earlier in the day. 

Plan A - Discarded!

Our 4 heroes were drawn to Spatula City one December evening. The Knight was following a ninja encountered while he was on patrol. Stella was drawn by a magical surge that seemed to be inside the building. Angel was inside the store in his secret identity of someonewhosenameIcannotrecallandamnotevensureIwasgiven to buy his mom a spatula for Christmas. Patriot was flying overhead when he heard a commotion coming from the place (a bit later than the rest).

As a pair of ninjas took up a guard position outside the main entrance, Knight and Stella approached through the parking lot. Not really seeing each other, he threw smoke pellets to blind the ninjas while she threw a confusion spell to keep them busy. The knight then leaped over a parked car, boot-kicking one of them back into the wall (and aided by his night-vision goggles, one of several customizations to the standard equipment made by Dave).

Inside, ninjas began menacing several of the customers while the apparent leader, brandishing a sword and dressed all in red, interrogated the store manager. Nearby a very large (Growth 4) hulking brute that looked somewhat rhino-ish sneered at the pathetic human customers and employees.

The Brute totally did not look like this
As the manager is thrown to the ground amidst words like "disrespect" the Angel of Justice springs into action! He blasts the red menace who whirls on him, drawing steel! A running duel begins as Angel tries to stay up out of reach while using his telekinetic abilities against the surprisingly mobile (to Apprentice Red, anyway) leader of the ninja force and his thirsty steel blade.

The ninja leader totally did not look like this, either

In the sky overhead, U.S. Patriot notices smoke coming from the entrance of a nearby retail establishment and another caped figure rushing into it. He also hears the sound of a fight from inside so he smashes thru a window and flies inside, looking to punch the biggest, baddest thing in the room as it looms over the prone store manager. He delivers a solid punch, stunning the rhino-like creature, but not putting him down for the count as he was hoping to do.

At the store entrance ninjas rush to stop the cape-wearing crusader and the mystic mistress as they force their way inside, dispatching ninjas left and right. The Angel and the Red Ninja bounce all over the store, with the hero occasionally taking out a ninja instead of blasting the leader, who is difficult to hit..

Back at the Customer Service desk, the Rhino-thing hits Patriot hard enough to send him thru the wall of the store. Patriot flies back in, lands another solid one on the brute, and gets knocked back thru the wall by the followup punch. 

Name: U.S. Patriot
Signature Skill: Knocking people through walls 
As the rest of the ninjas fall to the Knight and the Lady, Angel and Patriot decide to change things up a bit, as Angel leads the Red Ninja back to the center of the store and sets him up for the Patriot. The red, white, and blue hero then connects with a blow that would have been plenty hurty to the 12' mutated rhino - but this time the target is the not-quite 6' ninja leader who had been having a pretty good day so far. This punches him up through the ceiling, out onto the parking lot, and into unconsciousness.

Now it was time to gang up on the rhino-guy and they did. Although at least one hero was laid out by the end, they did manage to bring down the big beast thru teamwork and persistence. 

Who were these guys? Why were they berating the manager of the local Spatula City? What was the magical disturbance sensed by Stella the Mystic? What happened to that red ninja guy Patriot punched through the ceiling? All good questions, and the answers will have to wait for the next session! 

DM Notes: Yes, this one was verging on the silly but once we got going it was a lot of fun. A dozen ninjas, a weapon master, and a hulking brute made for a fine fight against 4 new heroes. We mostly used the archetypes from the core book but Dave tweaked his adventurer somewhat ("why would I want to create darkness in a 30' radius that I can't see through?") and Red made up his own character based on an old character he had created previously. For the store I used a map from the "Final Days" miniatures game which finally proved useful after years on the shelf.

I felt like an idiot for not having the villainy already entered in the tool but that's part of the learning curve. I'm happy with the way it turned out regardless. Also: not a bank robbery, which is my traditional way of kicking off a supers campaign and which was specifically mentioned by Red - "please don't make it a a bank robbery" - mission accomplished.

We learned a bit more about the combat system and everyone picked it up fairly quickly. I'm getting more y proficient with the tool so things ran quickly enough once we got started. That color-coded damage chart on the inside of the DM screen is pretty handy. With a high toughness and a very high knockback modifier it was hard for anyone to hurt the Brute even the paragon, but they managed. He wasn't going to go flying nearly as far as the normal-sized ninja leader though. Knocking people through walls is just one of those signature super things and I'm happy to have it popping up already in this game.

I've told the players they can make changes to their characters over the next few sessions as we learn the game. It's probably going to be our backup game now - when we don't have enough available to play D&D then it's going to be an M&M night. I'm pretty happy about that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FC2K A1: Giant Robot Attack!

Freedom City, circa 2000 AD: all is peaceful, then a siren goes off as a trio of giant robots lumbers into the city, stepping on cars, smashing buildings, and sending panicked mobs of citizens screaming in all directions!

Where is the Freedom League?

What, they're out of town?

Who will save the citizens of Freedom City?

Answer: Callisto the Gadgeteer and Mr. Krats, the Battlesuited Golden Knight!

These heroes will not be appearing in this recap
I've named this part of the campaign FC2K "A#" because this is a the first session I've run with the intention of continuing it as a campaign and it will mainly be the Apprentices most of the time. I have a second group (more on that tomorrow) with some of my main players and that will be the "B" branch though if we can work in some crossovers I will do so.

This was mainly an experiment to check out using Hero Lab and its tactical console to run a session and see if I could tear myself away from our tried and true index card system for d20 games. The rest of the boys were busy so I recruited Apprentice Who to help me out and he picked a Gadgeteer and a Batlesuit as his characters. He immediately started giving them names and a backstory - more than I was actually looking for this time, but I wasn't going to discourage him.

Tres Hombres
Being young and equipped with superpowers, his first instinct was to blast the robots. This proved to be ineffective and resulted in the robots throwing cars at his heroes. So, in a burst of creativity I rarely see in veteran gamers he decided to fly over (jetpack you know) and land on the robot's head, searching for a way to disable it with his technical skills. 

Within a round or two he had a panel open and had pulled the plug  - success! Are we done yet? Oh no!

Meanwhile Mr. Krats had discovered the joys of "power attack" used against a colossal target and was blasting away at one of the megabots and dodging thrown mailboxes and newspaper machines like a pro. 

It's Mr. Krats!
At the same time Callisto was not satisfied with simply shutting down one of the bots - he spent the next few rounds reprogramming the thing to be his friend. So as Krats finishes off the second bot, Callisto and the first bot stomp over and start blasting and throwing cars at the third bot. The battle ends with a crushing blow from the friendly bot smashing down the third bot as the two heroes blast away. Then they turn and walk away with their new friend as the city begins its return to normalcy.

Who sent the bots? What was their mission? What secrets can be learned from examining the reprogrammed bot? We will have to wait until the next session to find out!

DM Notes: This wasn't really intended to kick off a campaign - it was just supposed to be a dry run with the game and Hero Lab to give me some hands-on experience with it. Apprentice Who got very fired up about it though and was talking about it for the next three days, and pretty soon the other Apprentices were asking me if they could play in (Who's) game! So I started looking at my stuff and figuring out a few options and decided to just use Freedom City for anything I run in M&M 2E to give me the maximum amount of material usage. Other games will likely end up in my homebrew Atomic City but this stuff all fits nicely together in Freedom so why not go with it?

Next session will probably happen this coming weekend. I suspect the heroes will be investigating the mystery of the giant robots, and you never know where that might lead.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Marvel Heroic: An Outstanding Example of Actual Play

This is by far the best recap of an actual MHRP campaign that I have read yet:


I think this sounds like an awesome campaign. I'm probably going to steal a whole bunch of it.

Motivational Monday

Guess what I ran over the holiday break?

Alright that one is kinda lame

Better. I ran another game too.

It was a good holiday.