Pathfinder Adventure Card Game solo play


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I recently picked up a copy of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Skulls & Shackles. The 18th and 19th century fantasy pirate genre (Pirates of the Caribbean), while still being worthy and all that, never really interested me as a gaming topic. 16th century golden-age piracy a little bit more. High fantasy pirates, as this is kind of geared to be, fits into my current Parsantium campaign with some simple modifications.

This blog article is in two parts: actual review of the game as a mechanical exercise, and the story that I managed to tell myself in the Parsantium context using these cards and mechanisms.

The game review

The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (PACG) system uses a sophisticated card draw mechanism that pits a ‘Character’ card (in the traditional RPG sense) that has characteristics, against a randomised set of opponent and circumstance cards.

Victory is achieved by encountering and defeating cards using the talents your character possesses. These talents include any innate skills your character may have, along with the usual array of fantasy elements of weapons and armour and spells and equipment and so on.

There are many different cards types and getting into the game at first is daunting. I watched several YouTube videos of game play before I got the general gist of things and then could make sense of the printed rules. Having said that the basic idea is simple: sort the cards into types, and there is a handy visual guide to advise you how to stack them in the pre-formed box. Your character has a preferred set of equipments (weapons, armour and so on) and you select these from those relevant decks. Once done you have a deck of 15 cards. This is your health, or hit points. Damage costs you cards. Using items that are lost costs you cards. Run out of cards and you’re dead.

Following the prescribed set up there are adventures, that have scenarios, that have locations. Each location has a similar set of cards that are randomly aded to make their deck. These include the major villains and their henchmen.

Each turn, you expose a ‘Blessings’ card. This is the timer – run out of those and the game ends and you’ve lost – but they also have effects that you can exploit. This is a subtle meta-game element that I like. Mechanically it is simple, but it carries a strong sub-conscious message that this is a fantasy world where inexplicable stuff happens and fate can have a meaningful effect on you.

Then you put your counter on a location card, indicating that you are exploring there, and turn over the top card of that location. It may be a monster, or loot to pinch, or some kind of impediment to progress (a ‘barrier’). You roll dice based on the particular challenge, adding and subtracting factors depending on the relevant skills you possess, and objects, and weapons and spells… and so on.

And repeat.

Until you find the main villain and defeat them, or die.

It is a procedural game. Set the clocks and crank the handle. Once you get over the learning curve the process is straightforward, but since every card is an exception it can appear more complex as you take into account the ‘if, then, but, plus, minus, unless’ that is a result of the many cards up and exposed and in your own hand.

Final verdict?

It’s no Reiner Knizia masterpiece of elegance and choice. It is a game of detail and complexity posing as depth. But that’s not a bad thing. It does deliver plenty of atmosphere if you are willing to slow down and read the cards and think about what’s going on and, dare I say it, make a story out of it.

Admittedly I have only played once and solo, so I cannot speak to the experience of having the preferred four players interacting. But from that solo perspective I got a lot of pleasure out of this on a rainy day-off-work by keeping a notepad and thinking about what each turn of the card would look like if this were a full social RPG. But I could easily imagine it becoming tedious if your objective were to turn cards and treat it as no more than a mathematical problem.

Price wise, it’s pretty reasonable as these things go now days. While not exactly comparable because the tactical miniatures element is missing, one can still say it compares favourably.

As a final measure of value I do believe that I will play this again – and there’s no higher praise than that – though I am now very much looking forward to this as it is well more in my core interest zone.

The story

[I removed all the firearm related cards from the decks]

Once upon a time there was an assassin called Naseeba Hamid (using the characteristics of the Rogue Wu Shen) who was in the employ of the Great Caliph of Aqhran. The Caliph had become concerned over the increase of pirate activity in the Corsair’s Sea. Trade to Loranto and Parsantium had been attacked, of course, but so had the routes to the wilds of Ferez and Qardib. Attacks had become more common. Something had to be done. The Caliph summoned his Chancellor and outlined the actions: an agent was to be sent to investigate what was at the heart of this increase.

Naseeba started the search at the Floating shipyard near the port of Ferez. Following a tense diplomatic encounter when one of the pirate ships pulled in for repairs she joined a treasure hunt that eventually confronted a swamp ghoul. The ghoul was too tough for her and, severely wounded, she followed a new clue to Lonely island, a dot of land in the gulf to the east of of Rezana (Lonely Island). There Naseeba wandered, avoiding an ambush and then finding magical weapons locked in stone that she could not shift, even when using the Onyx of Constitution.

After much searching she found Adaro Barbarian, a Sahuagin (the card said merfolk – could be any aquatic creature I decided) chieftain who seemed to be in charge of everything. Taking careful aim with her crossbow, and tipping the bolt with poison, she nailed him, but he survived and fled. Following him back to the Floating Shipyard she again attacked the swamp ghoul. The battle raged for many hours, with Nasseeba using every trick in her assassin’s book until at last the beast was dead.

But alas, in her weakened state she was no match for the recovered Adaro and he killed her before she had a chance to report back to the Caliph.

So what do we know?

  • There is an island off the coast of eastern Bathura that is the pirate’s base
  • That a major leader is a Sahuagin, implying a whole bunch of plot elements
  • That there is a haven for pirates off the port of Ferez
  • The Caliph does not know who or where the threat is coming from
  • The threat has not been removed

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The ‘game’ lasted 17 turns. One could slow down a lot more and flesh out an entire story this way.

Shadows of Brimstone play


IMG_0480.JPGOur monthly game session rolled around and Andrew was suffering from some alien virus or other and couldn’t make it. We decided that instead of continuing the N1 module we would boardgame.

We’d started a game of Shadows of Brimstone another time and I was keen to get back to it. Selecting at random I was an Indian Scout, for all that it mattered.

Rather than break out the plastic figures, we thought to try out the flats that I’d just bought from Arcknight. Here they are on the board, and I think they come up very well.

What to say about Shadows? It has excellent production values. Everything about it is a delight to behold. It has a steep learning curve at the beginning, but once you know how it works, play is very fast. In fact once we had the measure of it, it became pretty obvious that it was a fairly simple procedural game. So much so that I wondered exactly what choices the character has. As far as I can tell the choices are entirely tactical: where to move your character on the board, and when to use items. Otherwise, allowing for the randomisers, the game could play itself.

Is this a criticism? Not really. And I understand and appreciate why many people really like this game. It has a lot going for it. And perhaps if you had a group of natural story tellers that were enlivening the dice rolling with description it could be quite immersive, but for me the curtain behind which the wizard sat was a little too obvious.

The question has to be would I play again? Yes, with some reservations. Moving from ‘room’ to ‘room’ gets old after the second rotation. Because pretty much exactly the same thing happens every time. Sure there may be different monsters, but the available reactions are the same: roll dice; find thing; discover monsters; roll dice to kill or be killed. If this was the tactical resolution mechanism for a narrative role playing game, or a game that made more of the time outside of the mines/dungeons, then it could have a very sound place. I could easily see this as the basis for a much bigger story telling setting, with everyone just going to the tiles and counters for the battles.

Alternatively, you could treat this specifically as a regular tournament style of game where well versed players go on either timed or scored jaunts and built up a ‘campaign’ in that way.

In both cases this is where a lot of ‘mainstream’ role playing games have gone with tiles and counters and so on. And from that perspective Shadows fulfils that function admirably.

5e monster description for Parsantium – a newly identified Daeva


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succubus_by_mlappas-d4vpf7eDeceivers are charismatic and bold, possessing strong similarities with Succubi and Incubi. They are not overtly aggressive, shying away from direct combat. Instead they prefer to work their way into positions of trust within societies, where they then pervert individual people with promises of pleasures and other extreme sensations. In this way they are most successful with people who already have tendencies towards sadism, masochism and lust. Once under the influence of the Daeva, she then ‘plays’ with them: conducting ‘experiments’. If directly attacked she attempts to keep her foes at bay with magic, but then if cornered will strike out with claws and horns.

If ‘killed’ the Daeva returns to her home plane where she waits until summoned again. It is not known if there are one or many Daeva of this type. Historical examples have been identified by the names of Mashtrues, Khabeban, Dhokebaaz, Duzenbaz.

Gazember is the name of the particular Daeva identified as being the creature responsible for creating the orcs through perversion of the original elf stock, though only of those already susceptible to the lure of the dark.

Size/Type: Medium Fiend, Chaotic evil
Hit Dice: 7d8+35 (66 hp)
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 22 (+4 Dex, +8 natural)
Attack: Claw +12 melee (1d6+5)
Full Attack: 2 claws +12 melee (1d6+5) and horn gore +7 melee (1d6+2)
Special Attacks: Sneak attack +2d6, spell-like abilities, summon demon
Saves: Str +0, Dex +4, Con +4, Int +2, Wis +1, Cha +5
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 19, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 21
Skills: Climb +15, Disable Device +12, Disguise +13, Escape Artist +11, Hide +19, Listen +19, Move Silently +19, Open Lock +11, Search +20, Sleight of Hand +11, Survival +1 (+3 following tracks), Use Rope +1 (+3 with bindings)
Damage resistances Bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
Condition immunities Charmed, exhaustion, frightened
Senses Darkvision 60ft, Keen senses (elf trait)
Challenge Rating: 6 (1800 XP)

A Deceiver’s natural weapons, as well as any weapons it wields, are treated as chaotic-aligned and evil-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Mask of the Wild: a Deceiver may attempt to hide even when only partially obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, most, and other natural phenomenon. Deceivers will always attempt to escape through this method if they are personally threatened.

Sneak Attack (Ex): A Deceiver can make a sneak attack like a rogue, dealing an extra 2d6 points of damage whenever a foe is denied his or her Dexterity bonus, or when flanking.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will—darkness, dispel magic, shapechange. Caster level 7th.

Known spells, cast at 7th level: Polymorph, Fear, Charm (animal, monster & person)

Skills: Deceivers have a +8 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Search checks.

A true history of the Orcs of Parsantium


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Daeva 1Long ago a Daeva known as The Deceiver (Gazember, Matquara and many other names) came to the court of the Winter King and promised him pleasures and experiences beyond his imagination.

It is not known whether this event happened before or after the King’s estrangement from his wife, the Summer Queen. What is known is that the Queen distrusted Gazember and forbade her from speaking to the court. So instead the creature whispered in secret to those that would listen.

She built a following of elves that had already started on their path to the dark world and slowly, one by one, ensnared them.

By the time the King realised that his people were disappearing and banished Gazember, a sizeable stock of elves had been ensnared. In shadowy glades deep within the forest the Daeva conducted her foul experiments of cross breeding and magical mutation.

A short crusade followed, and the King led his army against the Daeva and her hellish creations. She fled, along with the few surviving and most resilient of her monsters, and took up residence in the dark spaces beneath the Forgesmoke Mountains.

It was roughly at this time that the elf King and Queen became estranged, but there were many causes behind that acrimonious split than just this one event. The King’s infidelities had become too frequent to ignore.

Many centuries passed and it was assumed that the Daeva had crawled away and died along with her beasts. But evil rumours became associated with those mountains. Sturdy dwarves told of creatures more cunning and terrible than any goblinoid, and expanded their caverns with caution. Even the stolid bugbears, single-minded hobgoblins and their pets, the goblins, shuddered in fear at what was breeding deep at the root of the mountains.

The vast forest to the north of the mountains changed as well, as if a toxin was spreading through the soil or air. It took on a new name of Gloomtangle and became the home of giant spiders, poisoned rivers, malevolent trees, and elves of a very unpleasant sort.

Then, in 1122, after a century of intermittent skirmishes with an unknown type of creature, The Orcs vomited out from the western spur of the mountain and surged down the Bathuran peninsula. Orcs: tortured and mutated elves, so twisted with pain and hate that they were ferocious, relentless, almost unstoppable. Rezana fell and with it the entire Western Empire collapsed. Loranto only survived because of its position upon the water: its navy keeping the horde at bay.

For 200 years the Orcs consolidated their position on the Bathuran peninsula, and spread throughout the Forgesmoke Mountains. This created a refugee crisis of not just humans and dwarfs. In 1443 Kalgroth Ironheart led an army of bugbears, hobgoblins and goblins out of the mountains along the Via Bathura to sack Parsantium. It seems likely that they had been displaced by the expanding Orcs. The goblinoids were defeated, but not before they had despoiled the area between the eastern Corsairs’ Sea and the Istra River.

Now, in 1545, the goblinoids pose only a minor threat as the few refugee tribes maraud on the edges of the mountains from which they were dispossessed, the forests were they dare not go, and the resurgent human lands to south and north. Instead the threat to Parsantium from the west comes from the growing presence of the Orcs. And questions have been asked, in private at least, what had the elves to do with this whole catastrophe? And can they be trusted now?

N1, Reptile Cult, session one


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A quick update of the first session of the classic 1st Ed, AD&D module N1. Against the Cult of the Reptile God. We played using 5E rules, for what that is worth, set in the beautiful campaign setting of Parsantium. The players were 2nd level: Paladin, Monk, Sorcerer and Rogue. We also tried to video conference in Alan with his newly created Bard, but that presented some significant challenges. We will try again next time with some different technical experiments – I’ll write these up separately when we’ve cracked the problems.

danube village

After the lads had cleaned up the mess of the Daeva’s attempt to recover her physical form, they stooged around town for a month or two. The big city, Parsantium, capitol of the world, the Queen of Cities, offered them plenty of distractions to keep them busy.

One day, Lieutenant Saurish of the Tribunal approached them with a job. A citizen had been receiving disturbing letters from his sister up in a border town. There was nothing immediately actionable in the letters but they were suspicious. The party was invited to investigate; minimal expenses paid. Last minute shopping equipped the thief with a hand crossbow, much to the amusement of the rest: G75 ($1500) for that? Yeah, but it’s really cool…

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 6.34.35 PMOrlane (we agreed that it probably had a better Greek sounding name but I hadn’t bothered to translate the module very well) was up near the delta of the Istra (Danube) and was a reasonably old colony that had been ravaged by the hobgoblin invasion 100 years ago and was now recovering. New blood had flowed in, including the sister of the complainant. On questioning, the brother could tell nothing more. He was a simple monk/scholar who had turned to the authorities for help.

The names of cults and religions in the letters were researched and turned up some interesting clues. The cult of Manassangra was mentioned, as was the more benign cult of Ushas.

It was September, and the heroes decided to take one of the last galleys of the season that was going to Karjolat, and paid to have it drop them off at the mouth of the Istra. Attempts to find something to smuggle didn’t come to much as they realised they were not actually going to Karjolat but instead some back water village. None the less, they did conclude for future reference that they could possible make some money trading tea, medicine and spices to that far northern city. The trip was only a couple of days because the winds were strong.

The Istra delta was huge and boggy with many outlets to the sea and islands. It was a perfect haven for pirates, they saw, and could well be a fantastic place for a city to take advantage of the trade along the river. But now the villages were mean and broken down: depopulated after the hobgoblin hordes had passed through. The heroes collected what rumours they could (bugger all) and moved up stream.

At Orlane itself the heroes  methodically walked the circuit around the lake and interacted with many of the local population. This gave them a good feel for the paranoid nature of many of the residents, and for the almost perverse friendliness of others. Finally they settled into the Slumbering Serpent (menacing music), and then sneaked out of the window in the dead of night to investigate the temple. And at that point we quit for the night.

Highlights of the session:

  • Rogue tries to figure out how to rob a weapons shop, instead concluding that maybe buying might be safer, only to have buyer’s remorse once he’d shelled out the hard cash. He planned to rob the place and recover the cost but this came to nothing (but it was worth a laugh)
  • Bard suggests negotiating a trade/smuggling deal to bring in banned goods from Karjolat to Parsantium, conscious that they weren’t going to Karjolat and that this would therefore put them on someone’s death list. It didn’t happen, but it was an impressive commercial scheme
  • Sorcerer, notorious drinker, swears off wine, confounding the rest of the party. Deep suspicions form about whether he has been possessed
  • Paladin, noted authority on all things, declares that in Karjolat they will not be interested in buying opium, instead that they might well be interested in invading Parsantine territory to stamp it out
  • Monk reveals more about his tragic upbringing and strong Tiangao origins. This again raises the central mystery of the party and it’s place in the developing story: how come so many fae creatures have come together at this time?
  • At the village, rogue attempted to sneak through someone’s yard, only to discover that there was no opportunity to hide and nearly got plugged for his trouble. Later redeeming himself he eluded the tailing farmer’s son. Later again he climbed on the roof of the Golden Grain taverna, but then in a final indignity he had a bad set of rolls and was ‘spotted’ by guard geese and they honked like mad
  • In the Slumbering Serpent, paladin was gently informed that the belt buckle he had been using as an excuse to meet blacksmith/silversmith types – because that was the link in the original call to action – was actually a very tawdry piece and maybe he should just get a new one
  • And finally, the likely lads were exposed to the casual racism of this setting. They were nice boys, but well, they were elves, you know? Now I’m not racial, but they’re sneaky aren’t they?, present company excepted, of course. Always sneaking about…

Dark Daeva playtest for Parsantium


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whisperscoverv1bI had the opportunity to DM a playtest of Richard Green’s Whispers of the Dark Daeva for his magnificent setting, Parsantium. The version we had was for D&D 5e. There is another version for Pathfinder. This cannot be a full review as the adventure is still in pre-production, but what I can give is my impressions of the work so far.

Parsantium is a fantasy setting with usual suspects of high magic and expected fantasy races. Where Parsantium is significantly different from the usual high-fantasy fare is in its cultural setting. It is based on a fictionalised Constantinople of roughly 900 to 1,000AD. Access to other expected cultures such as Indian and Chinese are present, and a fictionalised monotheistic culture to the south is a Caliphate and is clearly designed to draw in Arabian Nights sensibilities. The Parsantium setting is a well-realised world, primarily focussed on the city itself at this time. There is a tantalising back story reaching some 2,000 years with clues enough to build some spectacular story-arcs. The clues are already there. Parsantium is clearly a labour of love, and it shows – in a good way.

Whispers of the Dark Daeva is the first official adventure written by Richard and its sets up beginning players and GMs with several cues to get into the setting. In brief, the story calls for the adventurers to be drawn into an investigation. This can be for a private citizen or it could be for the authorities. This latter was the way our game developed. There have been murders… and someone is responsible. There are thrilling chases, brushes with the law, the ubiquitous dungeon crawl, and a boss encounter that if you’ve been playing it right, is very difficult for more reasons than just hit points.

The playtest version is 55 pages long with only supporting illustrations (maps) not finished art. The layout is clear with sections clearly and usefully titled. At the beginning there is a scenario introduction and an introduction to the overall setting. This is useful as it sets the scene for players in what is probably their first contact with the setting. The introductions set the scene for further adventures and raise questions for inquisitive players. This is all done clearly and succinctly.

Stats for monsters and NPC are nicely set out with the relevant information available in a way that is easy to consume. Layers of clues and a progression from discovery to discovery reads well. Tension builds well and on several occasions our group of characters did not expect to live. The conclusion was tense and satisfying.

Whispers of the Dark Daeva will suit players and DMs that are looking for a little more cerebral kind of play. The plot is not difficult, and there is plenty of opportunity for sword play. Magic users and thieves will not be left out either. But the setting itself means that a party that expects an anarchic world where they can turn up and loot and murder will find themselves in a lot of trouble. Parsantium is a civilised city, with a functioning bureaucracy and a City Watch who’s job does not extend to being cannon fodder. Involving themselves in this hunt for the cause of the mysterious deaths means dealing with functionaries in conversational ways.

Even without this being a finished product, and with some development still to go, I was more than satisfied with exposing this to the players. And they enjoyed both the general setting and this scenario is particular to want to immerse themselves more. That’s a good recommendation.

Look out for it is my advice, and buy it when you can.

Flight profile around the gates


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skewFlipAgain, let me repeat, this is not a story based on canon law for Fading Suns, Dune, WH40k, Traveller or any other published setting. It is my development that pinches ideas from these sources.

Way out past the edge of solar systems can be found star gates. These are massive rings, some thousands of kilometres in circumference that humans have now discovered and are using, built by an ancient and extinct alien species. These gates connect to one another, giving near instantaneous travel between these places. To use this means of transportation a ship must be equipped with a ‘warp’ drive, and have advanced think-machines that can process the massive amounts of data necessary and be able to interpret the so-called gate-keys that code for the transit. Gate-keys are jealously guarded by the Charioteers’ Guild, a professional engineering and piloting organisation that has the monopoly on reproduction and possession of the keys. Reproduction is all that humans have managed so far – coding new keys has not yet been reverse engineered from the ancient alien examples.

And so…

Near each gate the Charioteers’ Guild maintains a permanently crewed station. This is port control. When a ship arrives at the gate it calls port control and asks for transit permission. Control will have had plenty of lead time as the ship would have been seen coming and communications would have been long ago established. The exiting ship will be fitted into the schedule and then will wait the hours or days until it is time to go. When ready, a Pilot from the guild comes aboard carrying the relevant key and any other special equipment or private messages. The ship is then pushed towards the gate by the port authority tugs, and then passes through, out of the universe for a short period of time and then, if all has gone well, back into the universe many light years away.

When the ship arrives in the new system, the new port control makes contact, flash-sends any important data, and one of the escorting tugs that has recorded the flight data is ejected to snap back through the gate to report successful transfer. This usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. If no confirmation arrives back at the exit system after half an hour, emergency procedures begin, locking down the gate and sending investigative drones, then crewed emergency vessels.

Assuming that everything has gone well, and gate accidents are rare but not impossible, the Pilot exits the ship to the port control station, and the ship is free to head in-system. Using local tug boats and thrusters, the ship is manoeuvred away from the gate. This can take hours to days to ensure that when the big engines come on they do not cause any damage. When ready, and courses have been plotted, the ship starts up its fusion-torches and accelerates away. At the half way point to the target planet the torches are extinguished, the ship turns around, and then reignites the engines to decelerate. This accelerate, rotate, decelerate routine can take anything up to six months. The plumes of the deceleration are visible to the target system for this period, filling the skies like comets. There is little to no chance of ‘sneaking up’ on a planet.

For big ships like the Typhoon Maiden (TyMa), a floating trading city, throughout this period communications have been going on with the inhabited places in the new solar system. Merchants will be researching and then reaching out to potential markets in order to buy and sell goods. By the time the ship comes to rest over a planet the wheels of commerce are already spinning and the process of logistics takes over: getting the shuttles to the surface with goods to sell and getting the bought goods back to the ship and stored – all as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of competitors. Anyone still wondering what they are going to do by the time they get into orbit have already missed all the lucrative deals.

The TyMa typically stays in orbit around the main inhabited planet for one to two years, allowing trade not only between the man planet but with any other inhabited bodies. It is rare that a big ship like the TyMa would shuttle around a solar system from planet to planet – instead it makes the small ships come to it. This allows for a lot of trade to be conducted, and for a ship that would probably have a regular circuit of worlds (though possibly taking decades to complete) this allows a certain amount of future planning to occur. “That was a great batch of whisky. When I’m back in ten years I’ll have some of the batch you’re putting down now,” for example.

Also while in orbit there will be movement of people. Some people will want to move off the ship and settle down on a planet. Others will decide they want a taste of travel and will come aboard. Along with the legal and documented transfers there will be the normal deserters from the ship, and stowaways to the ship. Given the size of the TyMa, with its official capacity of 18,000, keeping track of even the legal citizens is hard. This movement of people, especially since the ship is civilian and therefore people are technically free to do anything they want, means that knowledge of occupation is only approximate.

Once all transfers are complete, the ship is manoeuvred out of orbit and transits to the gate. It takes almost the exact same time to get back to the gate as it took to come from the gate, allowing for the differences in orbits that will have occurred in between. But importantly, there are no shortcuts.

Loose ends from the Typhoon Maiden’s visit to Cadiz


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Bab5_Jump-Gate_openingWhen I started this story I randomly generated a name. That was, ‘The Mascot’. This still makes no sense, but it is worth keeping in mind as the final episode of the campaign should specifically tie up that loose end.

These are the other loose ends and thoughts about this episode:

1) Jump/Gate tech. The Typhoon Maiden (TyMa) arrived in Imperial Space using it’s own warp engines. These are now useless because the mutant Navigator is dead. However, they have been modified to work with the JumpWeb gates using the Keys supplied by the Charioteer’s Guild. Given that few of the remaining mutant Astrogators understood the working principles of the warp drive, and the Engineering staff are concerned with keeping things running rather than understanding, it seems likely that the TyMa is completely at the mercy of the Charioteer’s Guild. Their monopoly is not challenged by the TyMa. Therefore, port authorities in each system will deal with the TyMa in exactly the same way as they would any other ship arriving and leaving by exactly the same mechanism: the gates.

2) The Astrogators have turned their complete attention to listening to the warp to reestablish contact with their immortal god/demon in the Imperium. This will have interesting consequences as they traverse the gates and suffer/enjoy the Sathraic Mysteries. What are the implications for the activities of the Religious Police (RePo)?

3) The TyMa stayed in Cadiz space for over a year, repairing itself, reconfiguring its engines and trading. It then powered out system for a couple of months to the gate. There will be a lot of new (alien) technology and goods aboard. It is likely that there are many new people on board, and many may have stayed on Cadiz.

4) Of the characters, Lantedo would not be missed; Locum was registered but such a small fish it would be assumed he came to a bad end somewhere; Pårole was at a loose end and had not been incorporated into any new military or civil structure, and it would be assumed he probably went AWOL on Cadiz; Gnosticos was a robot and so no one would care. Phesigns would be missed by his father, who would make enquiries. It would be known that he was detained by SePo but then released. It might be known or guessed that he went down to Cadiz, but that would be all that could be determined. Phesigns’ father might agitate amongst the other families (need to explore the families in more detail sometime) because he suspects foul play. The shuttle is unlikely to be missed in any case as it was only one of thousands of vehicles that come and go from the vast hangers every day. Ultimately, the disappearance of the party remains either a mystery or unnoticed as the TyMa powers out.

5) With Phesigns’ father making enquiries, SePo may open a case (as might Criminal Police KriPo). Missing citizens is nothing in itself, but all of the recently detained people simultaneously disappearing does seem more than a coincidence. We can assume that surveillance combing might uncover the initial negotiations on the park deck. These people will be subject to closer scrutiny.

6) All we know for sure is that the people that hired the party did not get any information back from the party. We know they were confronted by security forces – but whose? We do not know for sure. Whoever they were, they are now in possession of the damaging intelligence that the Vau conference and treaty was somehow sabotaged. House Decados is known for its superior intelligence network – does this mean that they somehow missed something vital and were digging it up, or were they always in possession of the information and were trying to bury it? Or was it someone else altogether, perhaps the Vau themselves? Massive open thread…

7) Finally, it will now be known that an alien ship, the TyMa, is in Imperial Space. Genetically and culturally the new comers are very similar to the indigenes. All of the Houses will be trying to work out how to use these visitors to their own advantage in dynastic struggles.

Solo game using 5Core


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The lad has been at home after having had all four wisdom teeth out. This has me on nurse duty but that is not a full time job. All I have to do is check him regularly and make sure he’s drugged up, eating (custard and yoghurt) and keeping warm and rested.

To fill in the rest of the time I decided to do a story telling game using the Typhoon Maiden background. The story bit can be found in the link. After a while I got to the part that I couldn’t be bothered narrating and so decided to go for a solo war-game.

This was an ad-hoc thing and nothing that I had been building scenery or collecting miniatures for. I used some Star Wars plastics and paper maps, supplemented with a few pieces of 3D terrain to lift it a bit. I’m using the FiveCore and Five Parsecs from Home rules, and I used some simple randomisers to control the antagonist force.

The heroes, if they can be called that, were Phesigns, a junior gangster trying to make a mark for himself; Pårole, a soldier without his regiment; Locum, a street kid just trying to get ahead; Lantedo, a hacker; and Gnosticos, an ex-military robot that just happened to be sitting on a shuttle that the team could use because things are so confused aboard the Typhoon Maiden that no one had asked her what she was doing.

The mission was to interrogate the security system of a seedy bar in a once prosperous city Phoenix Park on Cadiz. Read more about this in the story section. Suffice to say the table action started as the heroes arrived in the general location to find that a government security team were already there doing exactly the same thing.

In brief:

  1. There were multiple potential terminals that could be used, but only one still had a connection to the old data. Both sides had to search. The Security guys were already there and each turn I rolled to see if they had found the right terminal. This was represented by the little red blocks that showed negative (not the right terminal).
  2. Phesigns and Gnosticos boldly walked straight up the corridor ignoring the first two possible terminals, probably indicating that Phesigns knew more than he was telling the others. They got all the way to the main security door and successfully opened it. Unfortunately this set off an alarm.
  3. The Security forces got a ‘Scurry’ result on their activation and charged towards the breach. Pårole snapped off a shot and downed one of them. On his recovery roll this poor defender of the people bled out and died.
  4. Firing from the doorway, Phesigns made another of the Security officers retreat. But as he was doing this the back door was over-ridden and another guard burst in demanding their surrender.
  5. Then it all went to shit, really. The guard still covering the main door caught sight of Pårole and calmly plugged him. Locum administered first aid with his high-tech stabiliser, but it was all over for probably the most capable of the crew. Lantedo made a dash for the main door but was gunned down before he could make it: again a snap fire with a perfect ‘out-of-action’ result. Meanwhile, Gnosticos decided to go hand to hand with the Security guard who’d arrived via the back door. Her weakened arm must have been the deciding factor and she was decisively smashed.
  6. It seemed pretty clear to me that Phesigns would have dropped his pistol and started blubbering at this point, and Locum was too busy attending to Pårole to have noticed the handcuffs going on.

And so ends the first story set on the Typhoon Maiden. The survivors, Phesigns, Locum and Pårole (should he survive in a third world hospital), are under arrest by Decados heavies and as aliens that have broken and entered, and then killed an official, it seems unlikely they’ll be seeing daylight again for a very long time.

From a story point of view we know that the conference that was to have occurred with the Vau so long ago was an embarrassment for House Decados and that there are secrets still hidden. Whatever was in that security system is now in the hands of House Decados and not the people that hired the team of amateurs from the Typhoon Maiden.

The Typhoon Maiden itself, that monstrous city, will move through a gate to a different planet for the next story, and a new team will be generated.

Frostgrave/Sandtomb pieces for Good Friday


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No particular connection between these pieces other than they have all been waiting to be finished for too long.

First is a Reaper Miniatures Marilith that I felt fitted the Mediterranean/Arabian Nights/Greco-Roman/Byzantine feel. Handsome girl.

Next is a mashup figure, one of Eureka’s that I added a huge Kite shield to and a sword. Unfortunately I cannot remember what range he was from and searching the site doesn’t get me there either. I seem to recall he was some kind of stone age guy and his heroic posture made me convert him to fantasy hero. He’s one of my barbarians for Frostgrave/Sandtomb, for sure.

Then I have a statue. The original piece came from one of the collectable pre-painted miniatures games – the one that had something to do with dreams? Anyway, I thought it had a good general shape and scale for this game. The pillar is a wooden block that I carved a couple of nicks in before dabbing grey & white daubs with a heavy brush so it left texture. Along with this I have an old GW Lord of the Rings piece that, while the columns do not automatically fit, it is generic enough to pass.

Finally I have another tropical fish shop find, a Chinese temple/library/tomb. Again, this doesn’t fit into an Egyptian ruin setting. But my setting is Parsantium which has connections to fantasy China. My ruined city has been wandering around in space and time for a thousand years. Any old shit could have gone on there.

Everything, naturally, has a base (and coating if terrain) that is wind blown with the red dust of the desert.


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