Trying out L5R 5e character creation with The Grey Crane (Kakita Toshimoko/Greg Stafford)

I thought I’d experiment with the new rules for Legend of the Five Rings RPG this weekend, starting a twitter poll asking which Clan to create a PC.  However, the RPG community had the very sad news of the death of Greg Stafford, wonderful game designer and mystic.  John Wick discussed the role Greg had on him as a person and as a gamer, and in his warm and well-written blog mentions that a character in the L5R setting was Greg, namely the Grey Crane, Kakita Toshimoko, sensei of Doji Hoturi and master of the Kakita Duelling Academy.  Hence, for this first try out of the full character generation rules, and in honour of Greg. I’ll try to create the Grey Crane as a young man, perhaps with some more shamanic elements.

L5Rcore

The Game of Twenty Questions

Part 1: Core Identity (Clan and Family)

All characters begin with Rank 1 in all Rings, and 0 in all Skills

Q1: What Clan does your character belong to? 

Given the above, the Kakita are a family of the Crane Clan. This gives +1 Air Ring, +1 Culture Skill, and Status of 35.  Bushido for the Phoenix focuses on Courtesy.

Q2: What family does your character belong to? 

The Grey Crane is a member of the Kakita family, a family known for its skill in duelling.  This grants +1 Air or +1 Fire, and either +1 Aesthetics or +1 Meditation.  Fire is a creative ring so I think I’ll take a +1 there and a +1 Aesthetics to reflect Greg’s imagination and inspiration.  He has a starting Glory of 44 and 7 koku.

Dragon's_Claw_Katana_1

Part II: Role and School

Q3. What is your character’s role and school?

Kakita Toshimoko is going to train in the Kakita Duelist School (Artisan, Bushi).

This grants +1 to both Air and Earth Rings and I can choose five skill increases of +1 out of Courtesy, Design, Fitness, Martial Arts (Melee), Meditation, Sentiment, and Smithing.

I’ll take +1 Courtesy, +1 Martial Arts (Melee), +1 Sentiment, +1 Fitness, +1 Meditation

Available Techniques: Kata, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: he gains Iajitsu Cut: Rising Blade (something I noted on my reading – this is a rank 2 kata, but prerequisites are ignored for techniques gained during char gen), and can choose Shallow Waters or Weight of Duty as a beginning Shuji.  I’ll choose Shallow Waters (helps the Grey Crane detect people’s desires and ninjo).

He has a starting Honor of 50 and the following School Ability and Equipment:

Way of the Crane (School Ability)

Starting Outfit: Travelling and ceremonial clothes, daisho, yari, travelling pack, attendant (I could have swapped the spear for a bow, and the attendant for a pony).

Q4: How does your character stand out within their school?

This is a choice to increase one Ring.  I’m thinking the Greg in the Grey Crane will have made him stand out as being self-aware, insightful and mystical, so will take +1 Void

Part III: Honor & Glory

Q5.  Who is your character’s lord and what is their duty to them?

Reading up on Kakita Toshimoko, he served with the Imperial Guard initially as an impulsive young samurai, but after worked alongside his father, Kakita Toshimo in the academy.

So, we’ll say his lord is also his father, Kakita Toshimo, and his duty, or giri, at present is to serve is an assistant instructor at the Kakita dueling academy.

Toshimoko1

Q6.  What does your character long for?

Again, thinking of Greg, I’m going to say Toshimoko’s ninjo is spiritual enlightenment – this is more typically an aspiration for monks, shugenja, and those of the Dragon Clan so will certainly be a conflict for a Crane bushi, particularly one who is rather constrained by teaching in the dueling academy.

Q7. What is your character’s opinion of their Clan?

Despite his mystical side, Toshimoko thinks highly of his clan and wishes to serve them to the best of his ability. This grants him +5 Glory.

Q8.  What does your character think of Bushido?

Kakita Toshimoko  would endorse Bushido, and the Crane emphasis on Courtesy.  This grants him +10 Honor.

Part IV: Strengths and Weaknesses

Q9.  What is your character’s greatest accomplishment so far?

This steps aligns with the choice of a distinction advantage.

I’m thinking to combine his mystical side with his time with the Imperial forces – when a young samurai, patrolling near the wall, Toshimoko detected and defeated a Shadowlands infiltrator.

He gained the distinction Sixth Sense

Q10. What holds your character back the most in life?

Here I get to choose an adversity disadvantage. Hard to know for Toshimoko – in some of the literature of the setting, he enjoys his sake and the company of women but not to extent of being addicted or a compulsive flirt.  However, issues of paternity crop for him as a NPC in the beginner box adventure, so I am going to select Bitter Betrothal – perhaps his tour of duty, and now the hours he spends at the academy, has lead to him neglecting his wife and family.

Q11.  What activity makes your character feel at peace?

Here I get to pick a Passion linked to the Grey Crane’s hobbies and interests.  Looking over the list, Enlightenment is an option and I think will enhance the shamanistic side of Greg I want to reflect.

Enlightenment (Void) 


Type: Spiritual
 Description: You are devoted to the principles revealed in the Tao of Shinsei and are well on your way to transcending this existence. 
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Enlightenment passion: 


  • You feel no attachment to mundane items and earthly titles; you cannot be tempted with material wealth or the promise of power. 

  • After performing a check to detach yourself from material concerns (such as a Meditation [Void] check to contemplate your place in the universe or a Survival [Void] check to exist in harmony with your environment), you remove 3 strife. 


 

IMG_2325

Q12. What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?

Here I get to choose a Specific Anxiety.  It mentions the younger Toshimoko as impulsive so I will select the Impatience anxiety.

Q13.  Who has your character learned the most from during their life?

I’m thinking the greatest influence on him will have been his father, Kakita Toshimo.

Here, I get to pick an advantage or a  disadvantage and one rank in the a skill linked to the relationship.

Despite wanting to take another disadvantage so I can get +1 Theology, I can’t think of another which fits the character concept.  So developing the impulsive bushi idea further, I’ll take Daredevil as an advantage.

Part V: Personality and Behavior

Q14. What do people notice first upon encountering your character?

He has a long plait down his back, he does not dye his hair as many Crane too, but even as a young man there are streaks of grey in his hair.  He walks nimbly on the balls of his feet, never at rest, and in a scroll case he carries a copy of the Tao of Shinsei.

Q15. How does your character react to stressful situations?

He becomes more jocular and less respectful – this can extend to insulting people with immature jibes.

Q16. What are your character’s preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organisations, and traditions?

He had a close relationship with the Imperial Forces, with the Kakita Dueling Academy and has developed a friendship with a visiting Togashi monk.

As a gift, he received a finger of jade from the Imperial Guard.

Part VI: Ancestry and Family

Q17.  How would your character’s parents describe them?

Toshimoko’s parents are proud of him – they would describe him as a promising young duelist and teacher, if slightly impulsive.  They are concerned about his spiritual side, but are glad their son honors the Kami, the Fortunes, and the teachings of Shinsei.

Here I get to increase a skill by +1, and will take Theology to reflect the above tension and again Greg’s shamanism

Q18.  Who was your character named to honor?

Slightly complex as Toshimoko is a diminutive version of Toshimo. However, like this step so perhaps can think where Toshimo comes from in family.  I get to roll 2d10 on a random table to find out facts about ancestor named after, and can pick one of these ancestors and then a further d10 to find out more if indicated.

I rolled a 9 and 5.  Looking at table 2-1, can pick Imperial Heritage or Discovery.  Former fits more I think.  Get +10 Status and the Blessed Lineage advantage.

Q19.  What is your character’s personal name?

Toshimoko, reflecting he is the son of Toshimo.

Q20.  How should your character die?

Toshimoko hopes leave behind the academy in the near future and die defending Crane lands against their enemies, or better, he wishes to re-join the Imperial Guard and defend the Emperor against the minions of Fu Leng, and die in this duty.

Toshimoko's_Death

To sum up, The Grey Crane

Clan: Crane

Family: Kakita

School: Kakita Duelist School

School Rank: 1

Air                   Earth               Fire                  Water              Void

3                       2                       2                       1                        2

Honor: 60

Glory: 49

Status: 45

Ninjo: spiritual enlightenment

Giri: Assistant instructor at Kakita dueling academy.

Distinctions: Sixth Sense; Blessed Lineage.

Adversities: Bitter Betrothal

Passions: Enlightenment; Daredevil.

Anxieties: Impulsive.

Personal Outburst: He becomes more jocular and less respectful – this can extend to insulting people with immature jibes.

Skills: Culture 1, Aesthetics 1, Courtesy 1, Martial Arts (Melee) 1, Sentiment 1, Fitness 1, Meditation 1, Theology 1.

School Ability: Way of the Crane.

Techniques:  Kata – Iajitsu Cut: Rising Blade; Shuji – Shallow Waters.

Endurance                  Composure                  Focus               Vigilance

8                                    6                                    5                        2

Void Points: 2

 

Please let me know if I’ve got anything wrong!  Vale The Grey Crane Greg Stafford,

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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4e – trying out character creation.

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Artur the Herb Gatherer

So, going to try out the preview PDF for WFRP4e and character creation – thought it would help me get to grips with new edition, plus see how the PC emulates those from 1e games.

Step 1 Species.

You have the option of picking a race, or rolling and getting an additional 20XP.  I’ll take the XP and roll d100.

39, Human.

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.25.27I’m good with and any roll from 01-90 will get you a human.

Character

Human

20 XP

 

 

Step 2. Class and Career

A few options here – random roll and get 50XP, roll three times and pick for 25 XP, or pick. I’ll go for middle option so can pick from a shortlist.

First roll, 71. Riverfolk Class, Smuggler Career

Second roll, 40. Peasant Class Herbalist Career

Third roll, 05. Academics Class, Nun Career

Interesting choices here…. My temptation is to go for Herbalist. Not sure how the careers link up, but may be an option to go from the this launch into wizard, witch or mystic career.

So, so far we have:

Human Peasant Herbalist, 45 XP. Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.25.54

Step 3. Attributes

Again, we have three choices here.  Roll in order, and take the result for 50XP.  Roll, and arrange as you like for 25 XP, or, roll again or allocate 100 points. I think I’ll go for middle option – roll and allocate.

For my ten 2d10 rolls I get: 12, 12, 10, 12, 16, 13, 11, 16, 16, 19.

A pretty impressive set of rolls – most lying around the average mark, but several rather above. Given the PC is a Herbalist, I’ll put the highest in Intelligence, and I think because he needs to get on with his other patients and aspires to more arcane pursuits, other high scores to Fellowship and Willpower and perhaps Toughness so can resist the diseases he comes into contact with.

 

Hence:

WS   BS    S     T     Agi  Ini   Dex   Int   Wil   Fel   W   Fate  Resilience   Extra Points Move

30     32    31   36    32   33    32     39    36     36    12    2       1                   3                     4

I can spend the 3 extra points to improve Fate and Resilience – former representing luck, and latter grit and resolve.  I have a feel he may be more resilient than lucky, so will put two of the three points into resilience, and one point into fate.

WS   BS    S     T     Agi  Ini   Dex   Int   Wil   Fel   W   Fate  Resilience   Move

30     32    31   36    32   33    32     39    36     36    12    3       3                         4

Have to choose a motivation to impact on rolepaying and as a means to regain Fortune points (equal to Fate initially).  I see the young herbalist as someone curious, learning from his practical work and being an unschooled innovator.

Motivation: ‘curious and always learning’

Next, is advancing characteristics.  Can allocate 5 advances (each one equal to one point I think) to three attributes marked with a ‘+’ in the advance scheme.  These are, Toughness, Initiative and Agility.

Think I’ll add 4 to Toughness, increasing it to 40 and in turn my Toughness bonus, and +1 Agility. This will also help Wounds (increasing from 12 to 14).

WS   BS    S     T     Agi  Ini   Dex   Int   Wil   Fel   W   Fate  Resilience   Move

30     32    31   40    33   33    32     39    36     36    14    3       3                         4

Step 4.  Skills and Talents

First, species skills and talents.  As a Reiklander, I can pick, from a list, 3 skills to gain 5 Advances, and 3 skills to gain 3 Advances.

He’s a villager serving a local community so I think Animal Care, Gossip and Haggle fit well for the +5%; for the next three I’ll pick Charm, Cool, and Lore (Reikland) for the +3%.

He gets three random talents – I roll 52 (Noble Blood), 58 (Perfect Pitch), and 87 (Suave).

This is the fun of random rolls!  Something of a swerve ball in my character conception, but interesting elements to weave into his personality and backstory.

I can then pick one of Doomed, Savvy, or Suave. He’s got Suave from random roll.  Doomed seems to benefit next PC if this one dies, whereas Savvy increases Intelligence, so will go for that.

For Career Skills and Talents, I can add 40 Advances to eight skills (no more than 10 to one), and can choose a single talent.

Reviewing the first level of the Herbalist Career, Herb Gatherer, I think I’ll do the default of adding +5 to each career skill thus:

Charm Animal +5

Climb +5

Endurance +5

Lore (Herbs) +5

Outdoor Survival +5

Perception +5

Swim +5

Trade (Herbalist) +5

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.42.21

Talents – I can choose from Acute Sense (Taste), Orientation, Rover, Strider.

Of these, I like Rover, which helps sneaking around rural environments.

 

Step 5.  Trappings

These are based upon class, career and (for cash) status too.

Peasants get: Cloak, Clothing, Dagger, Pouch, Sling Bag containing Rations (1 day).

Herbalists get: Boots, Cloak, Sling Bag containing Assortment of Herbs.

Status is Brass 2 – so he gets 4d10 brass pennies, I rolled 24

 

Step 6. Adding details.

Here, get to choose name, some descriptive and psychological features.

I’ll call him Artur and will have to think about surname and how to integrate his noble blood with being a peasant herb gatherer!

Age for a human is 15+d10, I rolled a 2 so 17.

Rolling for eye colour and hair colour, I get pale grey eyes and golden brown hair for Artur.

Height is 4’9” +2d10” – I roll a 16, for 6’1”. Tall lad!

I can know choose short- and long-term ambitions.  This should be with GM input but for this practice character creation I’ll go with:

Short-term – earn the affection of the local Lord’s daughter

Long-term – become apprenticed at the College of Magic.

Step 7. Party

Probably can’t do this step at this stage.

Step 8. Bring your character to life.

10 helpful questions to generate a backstory – something to come back to when have read the setting chapter.

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.42.41

Step 9.  Advancement.

Artur has accrued 70 XP from character creation and using random tables in part.  He’s improved each of his career skills by 5 advantages and has a career talent.  To complete the herb gatherer career he also needs to increase his three career characteristics by +5 each.  He’s increased Toughness by +4, and Agility +1 so far.  70XP will get him two advances in characteristics (25 XP each) and leave 20XP.

I’ll use the two characteristic advances to increase Toughness by +1 (so he’s added a +5 in total and ‘completed’ that) and Initiative by +1.  To complete this career he needs to pick up a further four advances in Agility and in Initiative.  At that point I think Artur will consider switching to Hedge Witch…

So, finally we have:

Artur, a human herb-gatherer.  17 years of age, 6’1”.  Pale grey hair and golden brown eyes.

Status Brass 2

Characteristics (factoring in advances, savvy and suave traits)

WS    BS     S     T     Agi   Ini   Dex    Int   Wil   Fel     W   Fate  Resilience   Move

30      32    31   41    33     34     32      44    36      41    14      3          3                  4

 

Skills

Charm Animal +5

Climb +5

Endurance +5

Lore (Herbs) +5

Outdoor Survival +5

Perception +5

Swim +5

Trade (Herbalist) +5

Animal Care +5

Gossip +5

Haggle +5

Charm +3

Cool +3

Lore (Reikland) +3

 

Talents

Rover

Noble Blood

Suave

Savvy

Perfect Pitch

 

Trappings

Cloak x2, Clothing, Dagger, Pouch, Sling Bag containing Rations (1 day), Boots, Sling Bag containing Assortment of Herbs.

20 XP remaining

 

TBC: surname, background (how do I fit in noble blood? or roll again?), and party details.

 

 

 

Games planned for The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff

Here are some details for the games on offer for our mini-con in Leamington on 22nd September.  Booking for slots open soon!

All day 

GM: Dirk

System: RuneQuest – Roleplaying in Glorantha

Pitch: The Broken Tower and beyond …

Welcome to Greg Stafford’s World of Glorantha! Glorantha is a mythic world of mortals and gods, myths and cults, monsters and heroes. In Glorantha, the Runes permeate everything, and mastery of Runes allows astonishing feats of bravery and magic. Glorantha is an ancient world, and has known many ages, but now it is at the brink of the greatest conflict it has ever known… the Hero Wars.

An introductory game for people who want to (re) discover Glorantha and the new RuneQuest.

Max players: 6

10am-1.30pm

Table 1

GM: Matt H

System: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – hopefully 4e but if not out, 2e

Pitch:  Through the Drakwald – Archaon may be defeated but the beasts of the Drakwald remain. Woe to the traveller who braves the depths of the forest.

– A 2e introductory adventure in Middenland, set amid an Empire reeling from the ravages of Chaos.

Max Players: 6

Table 2 

GM: Griff

System: Monster of the Week (Powered by the Apocalypse)

Pitch: “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” is an original folk-horror / monster slaying scenario for the action-packed and narratively exquisite Monster of the Week. We’re headed back to
1970s Hookland – Britain’s forgotten county – investigating the brutal exsanguination of beauty queens, regional weathermen and retired pirate radio station presenters.

Kipper ties, cravats and flares are encouraged, but optional.

Max Players:5

Table 3

GM: Jimbo

System: Genesys

Pitch: God Save The Queen!
A Rip-snorting Victorian Steampunk Adventure Of Thrilling Detection, Monkeys and Mayhem!

Max players: 4-6

Table 4

GM: Lee

System: Dungeon Crawl Classics

Pitch: Not in Kansas Anymore: A 0-level Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG funnel adventure in which characters from 1970’s Earth are plucked from their own dimension and transported to another altogether weirder one…

Those are men in realistic rubber lizard costumes, right?

Max players: 6

Table 5

GM: Matt G

System: Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed.

Pitch: In the small Welsh town of Caerleon in the mid 90’s ” Chrono Quest” the pilot to an archaeology themed TV series being pitched to Channel 5 find something older than the Roman Fortress of Isca Augusta 

Max players: 4-5 

Table 6

GM: Andrew

System: Feng Shui 2e

Pitch: Fast and furious fun set in ancient China, with martial arts slapstick

Max Players: 7

Table 7

GM: Dave

System: Fate Core Eclipse Phase

Pitch: A team of Firewall agents descend into the stormy upper Jovian atmosphere to investigate a virtual slave trade

Max players: 5

2.30pm-6pm

Table 1

GM: Kai

System: D&D5e (tweaked) for Farrir, the setting for the Wizard on the Wynd podcast

Pitch: Farrirn’s have avoided the coves to the south east of Cullen’s Bay for sometime now and fisherfolk won’t go within two miles of Ynys Sâl. Strange singing, sickly greens lights and dark shapes beneath the water have led to many fanciful tales. A monster lives in the caves, the island is haunted and the spawn of Ul-gratch-theen gather beneath the waves. No one knows the truth and no one is that keen to find out, so this stretch of rocky coastline has been left, wild and abandoned.

Then the first baby went missing.

The hysteria and grief was felt all throughout Cullen’s Bay. Unusual, but perhaps it had been taken by a starved wolf? The Greenlady communed with the local wildlife, but no answers came. Then the second baby was taken. After the third, a call went out for brave adventurers to seek the cause of the kidnappings.

Max players: 6 (12 pregens provided)

Table 2

GM: Blythy

System: Numenera

Pitch: For years, the village of Droznish on the Plains of Kataru eked out an existence from the arid lands surrounding it. Until Astari came along – a young girl found wandering the barren wastes to the east with no memory of how she got there. Astari had a gift – she awoke an ancient piece of prior-world technology that had simply sat in the village as a curiosity for as long as anyone could remember. Since Astari woke the machine, the crops have grown quickly and abundantly. Droznish has now enjoyed twenty years of bumper crops. But now Astari has disappeared, the machine sleeps once again and the crops fail. The villagers are desperate and hope that you can help find Astari before famine takes hold.

Max Players: 6

Table 3 

GM: Kat

System: Star Trek Adventures

Pitch: On stardate 3715.3, the Federation starship USS Enterprise arrives at Gamma Trianguli VI, a planet that appears to be a tropical paradise with very rich natural resources. A small team of crew are dispatched including the Medical Officer, Scientist and other personnel. They quickly find the paradise is extremely hostile; however, transporting back to the ship is impossible as an energy field is drawing power from the Enterprise rendering the transporters inoperable. They must find the source of the energy field before the Enterprise is doomed and them with it.
Max players: 6

Table 4

GM: Ian

System: HeroQuest Glorantha

Pitch: Temertain Must Die

——————————–

Six Humakti, beset by nightmares and dark pasts, haunted by the Household of Death but promised absolution from their failures, seek a blade with which to restore honour and justice. One of them must wield it, to fell a Prince and save a kingdom. They will triumph or die, perhaps both, but most of all gain absolution for their sins.

 Max players: 6

Table 5

 GM: Wayne

System: Savage Worlds Explorers Edition: Space 1889 Red Sands

Pitch:  Ghosts from the Past
An archaeology team have found something in the Martian desert. Something that they are unwilling to communicate through normal channels. Her Majesty’s Foreign Office has dispatched a team of experts aboard the good aether ship, HMS Lively to ascertain the details.

 Max players: 4-6

Table 6

GM: Neil

System: Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Pitch: The Village of Maisoncelle

24th October 1415

Henry V, determined to strengthen his rule in France is leading the English Army on a wearying march from Harfleur to Calais when it is halted by the French Army commanded by Charles d’Albret, Constable of France.

Camped around the village of Maisoncelle, bordered to the northwest by Agincourt woods and the north by Tramecourt woods, a calmness has settled upon the English men-at-arms and archers as they contemplate their fates. For tomorrow they will take to the field against a French Army at least 5 times their size.

Walter Thornton, a Knight, company leader and favourite of Henry’s has uncharacteristically disappeared on the eve of battle. Now Henry calls upon the ‘Aliquam Martialis’, his sergeants-at-arms to find Walter, return him to his command, or if he has deserted, execute him. If only it was that simple…

Max players: 6

Table 7

 GM: Adam

System: Shadowrun 3rdedition, Seattle 2057

Pitch: You thought your life had gone to drek when you got caught on a ‘run and thrown in prison. But after getting sprung out things got even worse.

Turns out a friend had turned on you and now you’re out they need to finish the job i.e. you. And the guy who broke you out wants you to find something that doesn’t exist or he’ll blow your fraggin’ brainpan up.

Just another day in the shadows? Or the worst fraggin’ day ever?

Max Players: 6

The Owlbear and the Wizard’s Staff: Warwickshire RPG mini-con. 22nd September, 2018.

Together with Matt (@chimpy20), Lee (@leejneilson) and Griff (@doc_griffiths), we are arranging a one-day RPG event in Warwickshire on 22nd September.

The Bear and the Ragged Staff is the symbol of the Earls of Warwick and, subsequently, of the County, and we thought eminently suitable for a D&D makeover, and hence  the Con’s name became The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff.  Thanks to Mrs Griff for the stunning artwork.

We’re going to try and keep it simple.

RPG sessions morning and afternoon, with a lunch break.  Time for a trip to the pub at the end of the day.  We’ve hired the Band Factory in Leamington as our venue – lots of space to spread out tables, near the railway station, pubs, and places to eat.

We’ll open the doors at 9am and the first RPG sessions run from 10am-1.30pm, break for lunch, and second session run from 2.30pm-6pm.

So far, we have 6 tables confirmed for each session with very kind GMs offering their services.  Games on offer are likely to include Dungeon Crawl Classics, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Star Trek Adventures, Numenera, Shadowrun, RuneQuest Glorantha, HeroQuest Glorantha, Call of Cthulhu, Space 1889,  Monster of the Week, Feng Shui, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Hoping to have a 7th table with Star Wars (AM) and D&D 5e (PM).

I’m waiting to finalise the venue hire and will then set up tickets via Eventbrite, ideally to be available in the latter part of March.

Hoping to see you there!

@asako_soh

asakosoh@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Reflections on RPGing in 2017

Where to start… perhaps with overall impressions and then a bit more of a detailed breakdown.  Personally, job-wise, I’m in a better place that I was this time last year when I was uncertain as to how my post might be configured in 2017, and how my role might be changing.  Getting a new position early in 2017 has helped remove a lot of anxiety and am enjoying the role since having started in August.  This has also cut down on commuting and on-call duties, but can occasionally be busier with longer days, and trips away for conferences.

MB+pipe

From a gaming perspective, I feel like I’ve done a little less than in 2016.  This perception is most likely due to the fact that two once-weekly on-line gaming groups weren’t as active this year, but there have been other opportunities.  Themes from 2016 revolved around playing lots of FFG Star Wars RPG, the excitement of hearing about Star Trek Adventures, and discovering Swedish RPGs and beginning playing Symbaroum and reading Coriolis. Some of these themes have continued: we’ve finished a Symbaroum and Star Wars campaign, and I’ve run and played a fair bit of Trek.  A new and surprising feature has been the amount of D&D5e played.

 

Conventions

Three conventions this year.  I was sad to miss The Grand Tribunal in Cheltenham, a celebration of RPGs from Atlas Games  but it clashed with family holiday but did get to UK Games Expo, Grogmeet, and Dragonmeet.

Expo, as ever, was great.  This year given the price of rooms, and the difficulty in finding one, I commuted for the three days – not too bad for me from Warwickshire – either driving or getting a lift.  The Expo was a great three days in gaming, and after going for several years, I’m getting to find the right balance between running games, playing games, and having time for ‘mooching’ – wandering around stands, chatting with friends, grabbing a beer.

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Shiny happy people

I’d run a few of the Star Trek Adventures play-test adventures in the latter part of 2016/early 2017 so when submissions opened for the Expo I offered to run a session of Trek.  I was surprised to see how popular it was and that it speedily was over-booked, so ended up offering a second session so that could accommodate the bulk of players who wanted to try it.  I enjoyed both these sessions and hope the players did too.  I was delighted to get to the Modiphius stand during the Con too and take part in a play-test with Nathan Dowdell @N01H3r3 , writer and designer for the game, and all-round good guy.

 

In addition to trying the Star Trek Adventures play-test, having time to wander the main halls allowed me to try out games at the Chaosium stand, to try Starfinder with the Paizo team, and to meet Twitter chum @nucaica

 

 

I was delighted to catch up with Adam @RPGKitchen and try out his fun XPd8 system.  I’d booked into a Mage game on the last day.  I’d missed out on RPG’s in the bulk of the 90’s and early 00’s so White Wolf games have largely passed me by, so this was a good way to get a feel for the setting and mechanics of the game.  One of my hopes for 2017 was to play or run Coriolis.  We haven’t managed this in either an on-line or face to face group, but was very pleased to get into @RemiFayomi ‘s game at the Con.

 

I managed to do some shopping, picking up some bargains for 7th Sea, Fate, MERP, and Shadowrun.  Honoured to be interviewed, alongside @kb98 and @richgreen01  by @rolistespod after his interview with Rick Meints of Chaosium.  For a listen to our ramblings, try here .

 

And after what felt like a long summer, Grogmeet in November.  Although, I couldn’t manage to hang around in Manchester until the Sunday (and enjoy a visit to Salford Lads Club), I did manage to get to the Con on the Friday and hence take part in Grogmeet Eve.  This is the second such event the Armchair Adventurers (@theGROGNARDfile , @sjamb7 and @Edinthesand ) have arranged.  This is a great meeting and I strongly recommend anyone who can to try and attend.  On Friday night, I was fortunate to get into an excellent game of Numenera run by Judge Blythy and on the Saturday I ran the first part of the Enemy Within Campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1e.  In the afternoon, I achieved one of my 2016 and 2017 gaming ambitions, and got to play HeroQuest Glorantha with none other than  @ian_h_cooper ,  with @mikemason looking on from his CoC table next door.  The WFRP seemed to go down well – chaos and deprivation on display, and got through the scenario in the allotted time.  Great to hear that C7 are going to be re-releasing the excellent Enemy Within for their new version of WFRP.  HeroQuest was fab – I got to play a ‘social justice warrior’ and enjoyed being an irritant to the other players and Ian helped me get my head around HeroQuest.  One of the nicest things about Grogmeet is the people and the chance to have a good chat in the pub after the games.

 

I failed to get to Dragonmeet last year due to a family emergency.  Enjoyed my attendance this year.  I was surprised by how small it seemed – I think because the Expo has been the convention I’ve attended the most often, that this has set my expectations, so in my head Dragonmeet was going to be like Expo, ‘but a bit smaller’. It felt a very different affair but also more relaxed and gave me more opportunities, given the scale, to bump into people and have a chat.  Booking into RPG sessions was rather chaotic – had no chance of getting on a morning game despite having arrived shortly after opening, but did get onto a session of Unknown Armies in the afternoon.  Being linked to a room, the other players, and the GM seems to involve having to join a scrum and be shouted at for a period of time.  Not terribly pleasant.

Alongside the game of Unknown Armies, I enjoyed getting to the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff panel, and the Chaosium Glorantha panel.  Other highlights were meeting Gareth Hanrahan @mytholder (and hearing that he was working on Moria for The One Ring!), and Kai from @wizardonthewynd , in their embodied existence (Wizard on the Wynd has been a big part of my listening in 2017, an awesome podcast and highly recommended).  I was also lucky to chat to @grahamwalmsley and for him to kindly sign a copy of his Cthulhu Dark.  I picked up some funky dice for the kids from @DnDiceUK and saw a printed copy of the excellent Spy Master from @symatt and @GMCarlplus5 .

 

 

On-line games

I’ve really enjoyed playing Pendragon RPG as a PBEM this year, very skilfully GM’d by @DissectingWrlds . This has been a wonderfully rich experience but I’ve been a bad player as tend to post erratically – I think the idea of reading and responding to text online reminds me too much of replying to paper and grant reviewers!  I’l try and be better in 2018 – Sir Aneirin has a crone wife and two kids to protect!  

I’ve been lucky enough to play in two Grogsquad games – one of Nights Black Agents run by @kinnygraham and the other Top Secret, run by Dirk for those who support the Grognard Files podcast.  I can’t claim to be much of an expert at espionage games, or the genre, but had a great time.  I’m probably not enough of a tactician and planner to be a good covert operative but very happy when the gunfight starts.  Here’s the write up of the first session from Dirk.

 

 

It’s hard to think of 2017 without thinking about Trump, North Korea, Brexit, and the UK government.  But the biggest geopolitical upheaval was Theresa May calling a surprise election to produce a strong and stable government (PM’s plans, like those of GM’s, tend to go awry when meet their voters (or players)).  This meant that Steven @sjamb7 was unable to attend the UK GamesExpo (I think he is Conservative Chief Whip or something) and hence was unable to join the game of Star Trek Adventures he’d been down for.  So I suggested to run Star Trek online, with Steven and with other Trekkies – @pedr ,@Seren_Silver , and @ThisIsNotIain , together making up the crew of the USS Thunderchild, and having our own twitch stream and twitter account @STBestOfTimes . We’ve been playing through a combination of the Living Campaign (starting with Convoy SE-119 by @scribe_ineti ), adventures from These are the Voyages (Biological Clock by @trek_lug ) and some home-brew sessions to bring out the backstories of the PCs.  Looking forward to more in 2018. Blythy and Dirk very kindly discussed this game and the rules of Star Trek Adventures in the Grognard Files review of the year here

 

In parallel to running Star Trek Adventures, I’ve been able to be part of a game, playing Captain Senek of the USS Stan Lee with @pilky ,@tallulahmaait , @MissJenHart , and @tarasis.  The next session will be my first game of the New Year – interested to see if Senek has recovered from the his sick bed after being battered by zealots!

Face to face

In addition to the Con games, I’ve been part of four tabletop groups – one is an erratic weekend evening group, meeting every 4-8weeks, where we’ve played the Star Wars RPG and Masks, a Sunday morning breakfast RPG club (with @Chimpy20  @giryan @Er0_0  @doc_griffiths and others), where we finished off the Copper Crown campaign for Symbaroum and have since been playing The Strange RPG, a fortnightly D&D 5e group, and a ‘dads and sons’ D&D 5e group.

 

Running Symbaroum has been one of my best experiences as a GM and I think for 2018 I should go back to running or playing more of this game – I’ve submitted a session to UK Games Expo and I’ve been backing the instalments of the Throne of Thorns campaign on Kickstarter.   The evening group has been continuing with Star Wars with @jimbohawkins running a fab Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny campaign. In my prior EoTE game, I’d played Xim Chamra, a gunslinger who was great fun.  In D&D terms, Xim was a ‘glass cannon’, a striker or a sorcerer, capable of dealing out a lot of ranged damage but being rather fragile.  He also wasn’t too bad as a backup pilot and as the face of the team – a Han Solo if you like.  Minerva in the AoR/FaD game was very different – a mystic seer who was more of a Cleric or control wizard – I pumped my XP into talent trees, force powers, and force rating such that rather than being involved directly in combat, she supported the team by her divinatory powers, battle meditation, and healing. 

The influence of Critical Role in pulling in new people into the hobby seems to have reached Warwickshire.  Together with @Chimpy20  and @doc_griffiths ,  I attended a ‘meetup’ in a local coffee shop of people who wanted to try D&D after watching Matthew Mercer and gang.  This led to a fortnightly D&D group which has been great – have a Tiefling Wizard and a Dark Elf Monk I am playing, and together with my Human Druid in the game I play with my son, means that 2017 has been a year of three new D&D PCs and perhaps has made D&D the game I’ve played the most!

A managed to squeeze in a one-shot between Christmas and New Year – my friends keen to try the Star Trek Adventures Quickstart, which allowed me to try out my tokens, funky dice, and GM screen.

 

Looking ahead

I’ve mentioned a few hopes for the new year – to continue as a player and a GM with Star Trek Adventures, and to go back to Symbaroum.  I’d like to run some Pendragon and spent 2016/17 trying to pick up a few e-bay bargains.  D&D will continue – hopefully with @Chimpy20 ‘s Amberscar game, but also with my son, his mate, and the other dad.  I’m also thinking of exploring the game more as a GM than just as a player.

I’d still like to play or run Coriolis and given that 2018 is going to be the year of Glorantha, I’d like to play/run each of RuneQuest in Glorantha, 13th Age Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha .  I’d also like to run or play some of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition.

 

Another goal is to get back to running The One Ring, one of those games where setting and mechanics fuse perfectly , and I hope to play through the Rohan-based Oaths of the Riddermark adventures with @dampscot , @spookshow71,  @xtamsynx  @craigpbrown and @Burekeii .

Although correlation is not causation, I note that I ran Star Wars D6 RPG from West End Games at Grogmeet 2016, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition at Grogmeet 2017, and that 2018 will bring a release of the Star Wars RPG 30th anniversary edition from  Fantasy Flight Games and a 4th edition of WFRP from Cubicle 7.  Hoping these new releases will bring new players to the games who missed them first time around and other gamers back to them who may have forgotten how good they are.  I’d like to see both games features at cons or in my groups.

For many years I’d been hoping for a new Star Trek RPG and 2016 granted that wish with the news of Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius and its release in 2017. 2017 brought the news of a 5th edition of Legend of the Five Rings, my favourite RPG.  As can be seen from this post and that from last year, I like the system that underpins FFG’s Star Wars RPG and am an admirer of @lindevi as a writer and game designer, so am confident the new edition will be great – the beta can be found here.  Hope to play this in 2018 and have already began thinking about how to convert Asako Soh to the new system.

L5r

To close, those of us who are Twitter-active Warwickshire RPGers (me, @Chimpy20 @doc_griffiths @jimbohawkins @LeeJNeilson ) are hoping to arrange a one-day mini con locally in September.  Be great to see you!

Asako Soh, reimagined for FFG’s Legend of the Five Rings RPG Beta

I thought I’d try and re-create my pseudonym and L5R4e PC,  Asako Soh, Phoenix Clan Shugenja, using the recently released Beta rules for Fantasy Flight Games’ Legend of the Five Rings RPG, by the wonderful Katrina Ostrander @lindevi

I was really pleased to hear Katrina was involved in the new L5R, as knew her to be a huge fan of the game and the setting, and had enjoyed her work in the Star Wars RPG.

I’ve gone through character creation as detailed in the beta rules and summarised Asako Soh at the end.  Copied rules text is in a phoenix red below.

The Game of Twenty Questions

Part 1: Core Identity (Clan and Family)

All characters begin with Rank 1 in all Rings, and 0 in all Skills

Q1: What Clan does your character belong to? 

Easy one, Phoenix. This gives +1 Void Ring, +1 Theology Skill, and Status of 30.  Bushido for the Phoenix focuses on Righteousness.

Q2: What family does your character belong to? 

Soh is a member of the Asako clan, monks, scholars, tutors and courtiers of the Clan.  This grant +1 Air Ring, +1 Culture and Theology Skills, and Glory of 40.

Part II: Role and School

Q3. What is your character’s role and school?

When I first created Asako Soh for the 4e rules, I saw him as an ascetic mystic, a diviner contemplating the Void, whose thinking could err into heresy.  As such he is a Shugenja and trains in the Isawa Elementalist School as a Shugenja.

This grants +1 to both Fire and Water Rings and I can choose three skill increases from Composition, Courtesy, Medicine, Meditation, Performance, Theology.  He has already had two increases to Theology, so Soh will take +1 Meditation, Courtesy, and Composition.

Available Techniques: Invocations, Shuji, Rituals

Starting Techniques: Invocations – can choose 3 from Extinguish, Grasp of Earth, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air.  Soh specialised in Void magic in 4e, with some lesser expertise in Fire and Earth.  The Prayers he had at Rank 1 aren’t available here but will pick Grasp of Earth, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air.

Starting Rituals: Commune with Spirits, Divination.

He has a starting Honor of 40 and the following School Ability and Equipment:

One with the Elements (School Ability): The Isawa Elementalist School excels not at one particular elemental art, but at the discipline of invocation itself. Its teachings are widely applicable across many different ap- peals to the kami, making its practitioners especially versatile. 
Once per scene when making the check to activate an invocation technique, before Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool, you may reduce the TN of the check by your school rank. 


Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, wakizashi, knife, scroll satchel, traveling pack, 5 koku.

Q4: How does your character stand out within their school?

This is a choice to increase one Ring.  Asako Soh specialised In void and the mystical, so will take +1 Void

Part III: Honor & Glory

Q5.  What is your character’s duty to their lord?

A common setup for L5R has been for the PCs to be assistants to Emerald Magistrates, allowing Samurai of different Clans to work together, investigating events over the Empire.  Asako Soh reached School Rank 4 in 4e and was aspiring to become an Asako Inquisitor, so I’m going to say his duty is an investigator of Maho and his Lord is an Asako Inquisitor.

I’ll have as his Giri, ‘Investigate Maho for the Asako Inquisitors’.

Q6.  What does your character long for?

One of the reasons why I like the Asako family is their philosophy referred to as The Path of Man, the idea that humankind can transcend itself, and become Fortunes.

For Soh’s Ninjo, I’ll select ‘to explore and teach The Path of Man’.

Q7. What is your character’s opinion of their Clan?

Asako Soh had a rather ambivalent view of the Phoenix Clan – on one hand, he was a skilled Shugenja and scholar, on the other, he resented the control of the Isawa family and his loyalty was more to the Asako family and the Inquisition, than the Elemental Masters.  On balance, Asako Soh believes in peace, serving the Empire through magic and spiritual rites, and hence will support his Clan.  This grants him +5 Glory.

Q8.  What does your character think of Bushido?

Asako Soh would endorse Bushido, and the Phoenix emphasis on Righteousness.  This grants him +10 Honor.

Part IV: Strengths and Weaknesses

Q9.  What is your character’s greatest accomplishment so far?

This steps aligns with the choice of a distinction advantage.

I would be keen to take an advantage like Ishiken-Do, as existed in prior editions of L5R, and opening up Void magic for Asako Soh.   In its absence so far in these rules, I think I’ll build upon my idea of linking Asako Soh to the Inquisitors and pick:

Support of Asako Inquisitors (Water) 


Type: Interpersonal 
Description: Whether through your own efforts or simple good fortune, you have gained the support of a particular faction or organization. Confer with the GM to select a campaign-appropriate group when choosing this advantage. 


Effects: The following apply to a character with the Support of [One Group] distinction: 


  • You have proven yourself to a particular group, who is willing to help you when doing so will not damage their reputation. They will offer you their hospitality, including meals, a place to rest, and medical attention if they have a healer. They will also grant you access to their other facilities, such as laboratories, libraries, smithies, stables, or sparring rooms. 

  • When performing a check to interact with the chosen group that relies on your rapport with them (such as a Command [Water] check to is- sue them orders or a Performance [Water] check to cause an audience of them to desire something), you may reroll up to two dice during Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool. 


I’ll say that his greatest achievement has been to detect a Maho-tsukai operating in Phoenix lands, shortly after his gempukku, bringing her to the attention of the Inquisitors.

inquisitor

Q10. What holds your character back the most in life?

Here I get to choose an adversity disadvantage.  In 4e, Soh was ascetic, a pacifist, and lame.  There’s the option to have lost a leg, but wanted more to signify Soh as being infirm and slow moving so will pick:

Fractured Spine (Earth)

Type: Physical, Scar

Description: Your spine has been badly damaged, and while it has likely healed (or will heal), it causes you discomfort and makes it hard to push your body to its limits.

Effect: The following apply to a character with the Fractured Spine adversity:

  • You have suffered major trauma to the spine, and harsh impacts cause you to be shot through with agonizing pain. You can only lift and carry half the weight that someone of your strength normally could. 

  • When you make a check to resist harm or exhaustion (such as a Fit- ness [Earth] check to shrug off further injury or a Labor [Earth] check to carry heavy objects as part of building a structure), you must choose and reroll 2 dice showing  or  After resolving the check, if you failed, you regain 1 Void point. 


Q11.  What activity makes your character feel at peace?

Here I get to pick a Passion linked to Soh’s hobbies and interests.  Looking over the list, Enlightenment is an option.  So I think Asako Soh feels at peace when meditating, reflecting on the Path of Man, and seeking his own personal transcendence.  This also picks up some similar features to the ascetic disadvantage he had in 4e.

Enlightenment (Void) 


Type: Spiritual
Description: You are devoted to the principles revealed in the Tao of Shinsei and are well on your way to transcending this existence. 
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Enlightenment passion: 


  • You feel no attachment to mundane items and earthly titles; you cannot be tempted with material wealth or the promise of power. 

  • After performing a check to detach yourself from material concerns (such as a Meditation [Void] check to contemplate your place in the universe or a Survival [Void] check to exist in harmony with your environment), you remove 3 strife. 


Q12. What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?

Here I get to choose a Specific Anxiety. To reflect his pacifist nature, and his kindness towards common people, I’ll pick:

Softheartedness (Fire) 


Type: Interpersonal, Mental 
Description: Samurai are warriors, yet war is not in your nature. Despite any skill with the blade or experience on the field that you might accrue, the sight of the suffering of others wrenches at you in a way your code as a samurai says it should not. When you do kill someone, you feel incredible guilt over it, even if you did not intend for them to die. 
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Softheartedness anxiety: 


If given the choice to kill someone or spare them, you always spare their life, even if it is not in your interest to let them live. 
After performing a check to kill others or let them die (such as a Government (Fire) check to estimate the burden a war would place on the common people or a Martial Arts [Ranged] (Fire) check to shoot to kill), you suffer 3 strife. If this causes you to suffer an Outburst (see page 16), gain 1 Void point.

Q13.  Who has your character learned the most from during their life?

Asako Soh studied with one of the Henshin Monks of the Asako Clan, learning something of the Path of Man. His Mentor is Asako Ishi.

asako monk

Here, I get to pick an advantage or a  disadvantage and one rank in the a skill linked to the relationship.

I like the idea of being haunted, a ghost mocking Soh for his seriousness and temerity in pursuing Enlightenment.

Haunting (Void) 
Type: Interpersonal, Spiritual
Description: A ghost, an ancestor spirit, or a spirit from another realm is 
haunting you. 
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Haunted adversity: 


The spirit has their own agenda (determined by the GM), which interferes with yours at inopportune times. 


When you make a check to defy the will of the spirit haunting you (such as a Meditation [Void] check to find solace in meditation or a Skulduggery [Void] check to perform disreputable acts to survive), during Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool, you must choose and reroll 2 dice showing or results. After resolving the check, if you failed, you regain 1 Void point. 


This could be accompanied by a skill.  For the skill, I’d take Sentiment +1 as the Henshin’s teaching opens up Soh to be aware of others more fully.

Other option, is to for an advantage,  and I am torn between Sixth Sense or Indomitable Will. Given his mystic nature, I’d go for the former on balance:

Sixth Sense (Void)

Description: You are especially in tune with the spirit world, even if you cannot hear or speak to the kami directly. If you do have the gifts of a shugenja, you are especially sensitive to mystical phenomena.

Effects: The following apply to a character with the Sixth Sense distinction:

  • You have an instinctive sense of supernatural beings, and you can feel the presence of spirits and similar beings even when they have not chosen to reveal themselves. This feeling is ominous in the presence of beings with evil intentions and neutral when the beings are simply going about their business as usual.
  • When performing a check for which you need to follow your hunches (such as a Meditation [Void] check to generate initiative during a duel or a Theology [Void] check to detect a snarl in the invisible threads of the universe), you may reroll up to two dice during Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool.

Weighing it up, I think Sixth Sense suits Soh more, as a Void Mystic, rather than Haunted + skill rank in Sentiment, so will go for that.

Part V: Personality and Behavior

Q14. What detail do others find most striking about your character?

Frayed, fading scarlet Phoenix robes, limp, and shaved head – monk-like appearance.

Q15. How does your character react to stressful situations?

Furrow his brows, narrow his eyes, and clench his jaw.

Soh did occasionally get angry in 4e – calling down fire on those who offended or blocked him.  Hence, I’ll pick ‘becomes enraged’ as his outburst.

Q16. What are your character’s preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organisations, and traditions?

Close relationship with Asako Inquisitors, more troubled relationship with Elemental Masters of Phoenix Clan, and friendly relations with Monks and Dragon Clan.  Traditionally, there can be alliance between the Scorpion and Phoenix Clans, and Soh values the loyalty of the Scorpion and their flexible minds.

Part VI: Ancestry and Family

Q17.  How would your character’s parents describe them?

Asako Soh’s parents are proud of him – for anyone in the Phoenix Clan, being granted the gift of speaking with the kami is a great honor.  Privately, they wish he was a simple tutor or scholar rather than risking his life investigating Maho.  They would describe him as a proud, intelligent, stubborn young man.

Q18.  Who was your character named to honor?

This is good!  Random table to find out facts about ancestor named after.  Get to roll 1d10 twice and choose result.

I rolled a 6 and 1.  Looking at table 2-1, can pick Famous Deed or Ruthless Victor.  Former fits more I think.  Get +3 Glory and roll for item that was given to ancestor as reward.  Rolled a 1 again – a family heirloom weapon as a starting item.

ancestor

Q19.  What is your character’s personal name?

A nice list here in the rules, with meanings.  But I will pick Soh, found on the L5R.wikia.com many years ago.

Q20.  How should your character die?

Soh hopes to achieve immortality as a God, but fears either falling foul of taint and being killed himself by the Inquisitors, or at the hands of an Oni or Maho-tsukai.

So, that’s the twenty questions answered and this gives us the all new Asako Soh

Clan: Phoenix

Family: Asako

School: Isawa Elementalist School

School Rank: 1

Air                   Earth               Fire                  Water              Void

2                       1                       2                       2                        3

Honor: 50

Glory: 48

Status: 30

Ninjo: to explore and teach The Path of Man

Giri: Investigate Maho for the Asako Inquisitors

Distinctions: Support of Asako Inquisitors (Water); Sixth Sense (Void)

Adversities: Fractured Spine (Earth).

Passions: Enlightenment (Void);

Anxieties: Softheartedness (Fire);

Personal Outburst: Furrow his brows, narrow his eyes, and clench his jaw. ‘Becomes enraged’

Skills: Culture 1, Theology 2, Meditation 1, Courtesy 1, Composition 1.

School Ability: One with the Elements

Techniques – Rituals: Commune with Spirits, Divination;  Invocations: Grasp of Earth, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air

Resilience                   Composure                  Focus               Vigilance

6                                    6                                    4                        2

Void Points: 1

Isawa_shug

Hopefully ready to call the air kami again and fly above the enemies of Rokugan!

Please let me know if I’ve got anything wrong – now to re-read rules and see what the numbers mean.

 

Reflections on a 2016 of gaming

It does seem a little narcissistic to write anything about my own RPGing over the last 12 months and apologies in advance, but I hope it is of some interest.  However, at least it will serve as a record to me of my RPG  activity and of my impressions at the end of the year. I’ve thought of a few themes that have stood out for me: GMing at Cons, gaming on-line, and what the actual games are I’ve played most of over the year. Despite the geopolitical horrors of the year, it’s been a good one for gaming.

Conventions

So, I think over the year I’ve managed to get to four gaming conventions and I was registered for Dragonmeet but sadly couldn’t attend in in the end. One of my goals for 2016 was to run some games at conventions.  I’ve run RPGs for groups, both face to face and on-line, and with gamers I’d not met before at clubs I’ve been part of over the years, but until 2016, hadn’t offered a gaming slot at an organised convention.

My first experience came at the kind invitation of @paulbaalham to run a game at the UK D&D Tweetup, held at The Dice Cup in Nottingham in March.  I’ve not played an awful lot of either D&D or Pathfinder, and Paul kindly let me offer a game of 13th Age, and I ran the excellent Free RPG Day adventure Make Your Own Luck , by the great Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. I really enjoyed running this and was pleased that my players were people I’d met on Twitter. I should also thank Pelgrane, Wade Rockett and Cat Tobin for the stuff they sent to help me run the game. 13th Age remains my favourite level/class-based fantasy RPG.

So after my first experience, I was keen to do some more and offered up two games at the UK Games Expo in June.  I decided to go for a game I’d not had a lot of experience of and offer Shadow of the Demon Lord and an old favourite, Legend of the Five Rings.  For the former, I had a chance to playtest with some local gaming friends,  to try and figure out if it was practicable to run both a ‘starting’ and a ‘novice’ adventure, with levelling up in-between, in a 4-hour session.  This turned out to be do-able so I ran a double bill of  The Slaver’s Lash and The Demon’s Wet Nurse at the Expo.

For Legend of the Five Rings, I ran another Free RPG day release, this time Legacy of Disaster .  This latter session began a little badly – it was a Saturday morning and I’d dashed over to the Chaosium stand in the tradehall (7th edition CoC selling out!) and returned only five minutes before the start time, and two of my players gave me some grief for not being there at least 10 minutes before the start time (as specified in the instructions to GMs, apparently).  However, we recovered from this slightly rocky opening and had a great session – not least because a couple of the players knew the setting really well, and the others were new to it, and it was fun to see them getting into roleplaying honourable samurai with tough choices.

In addition to running, I was able to play in three excellent games too.  If my love of L5R doesn’t quite give it away, I very much enjoy Wuxia RPGs and was able to play in @gspearing ‘s game of Qin, and @boreders game of Symbaroum (of which, more later).  Finally, I was able to get a session in with players with whom I game on line with most weeks – we were all able to get tickets in on a 7th ed Call of Cthulhu game, run by Tim Evans. This was one of my best RPG experiences ever, not only because of the game, the players, and the GM, but due to the Twin Peaks elements of the story.

The next convention I attended was The Grand Tribunal in Cheltenham in August.  This originally was an Ars Magica convention but seems to have broadened to include other RPGs from Atlas Games too.  Here I didn’t run but managed to play in a couple of sessions – one of Ars Magica and one of Feng Shui, run by the excellent @dimbyd .  I didn’t really understand the freeform LARP which opened the day (I just wandered around aimlessly, being confused, until I decided to attack stuff – my tried and true RPG tactic), but it was a wonderfully friendly meeting, with a great raffle, and fish and chips.  Very grateful to @CJR23 for the warm welcome.  Here’s the link for the next Grand Tribunal 2017 .

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The final Con was the fabulous Grogmeet in Manchester in November, organised by Dirk the Dice from @theGrognardfile and the other Armchair Adventurers.  Dirk kindly let me run the old West End Games d6 Star Wars RPG and I used the adventure ‘Rebel Breakout’, from the 1987 1st edition of the game, and created an opening crawl.

The Revised Expanded Updated (‘REUP’) version of Star Wars RPG is free to download here and the free D6 Space rules are here

Here’s a fab video of the day from Dirk (Grogmeet 2016) showing some of the games happening at this very friendly event, and my own reflections on the game written for the Grogzine, which Patreons can download here .  I really enjoyed this day – it was great to meet the Adventurers in the flesh, enjoy a couple of pints afterwards, and a good chat on the train back with @doc_griffiths.  Looking forward to Grogmeet 2017 and thinking about Ars Magica, Marvel Super Heroes, FASA Star Trek RPG or 1st edition Legend of the Five Rings.

On-line gaming

Since meeting Tamsyn (@xtamsynx) and Craig (@craigpbrown) IRL at the 2014 UK Games Expo, we’ve been playing online most weeks – together with Col (@dampscot), Paul (spookshow71), Blakey (@Burekeii), and initially, Liam (@Evoroth).  This continued throughout 2016, despite busy lives, and we’ve played a wide variety of games including Call of Cthulhu, Far Trek, Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea, Solomon Kane, Rippers, Dresden Files Accelerated Edition, The One Ring, Shadow of the Demon Lord, Dragon Age, City of Mists, Monsterhearts, and a Fate Accelerated version of Nights Black Agents.

Far Trek RPG is free to download here and gives a super experience of playing in the Star Trek TOS setting. I was pleased to get a game of City of Mists in and I ran the free starter. It seemed to go well and gave me the chance of running a ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ game – looking forward to the full game being released.

I’ve also been playing a regular on-line game of Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG with @chimpy20 and @chrissyspill and others.  This took place most weeks, except for a bit of a gap when Matt was moving house during which I ran some of The One Ring.  Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPG has been the game I’ve played most of over the year – because of the weekly on-line game and that we’ve been playing it too in our face to face tabletop group. I’ve really liked the gradual character progression (with Xim Chamra now being a rather dangerous gunslinger and assassin), the flexible choices available, and, if you wish to get into it, the modifications the PCs can make to their ships and equipment.  The game’s mechanics keep every roll interesting and give the players a key role in generating narrative.  The game feels very dramatic with lots high action and I hope to play more in 2017.

In addition to these more regular games, I was very grateful to @dimbyd for inviting me to an ad hoc game of Feng Shui on roll20 and to @chimpy20, @rpgkitchen, @zos93, and Dave, from our tabletop group, for getting together at short notice to try the first playtest for Modiphius’ Star Trek Adventures (sign up here) .

RuneQuest 2 (or ‘Classic’) has a rather special place in my heart.  Not only did I play it ‘back in the day’, but when I moved to Warwickshire, and joined a local gaming club, it was the first RPG I got invited to join after a hiatus of about 12-13 years.  Hence, I was delighted by Chaosium’s kickstarter to republish this edition  and to join a game of RQ2, ‘The Sea Caves’ (part of the Old School Resource Pack), run by Dirk the Dice (@theGrognardfiles). We played as Humakt Ducks, with me as Mal Hard.  The screenshot below shows Eddy checking the fumble rules as he lost his left leg – yet again. Dirk has kindly written up the session here and here’s a link to another RQ2 game that Dirk ran for the RPG Academy crew just the other night.

There’s a lot of Glorantha on the horizon, not only Heroquest Glorantha (which I picked up from the UK Games Expo) but also 13th Age Glorantha and a new edition of RuneQuest (with design notes found here at Chaosium’s blog).

Games I’ve Played Tabletop

In addition to games on-line and at Cons, there have been those I’ve played around a kitchen table.  The year started well with a one-shot Pathfinder session.  Sadly, I can’t get to the Gaming Club I mentioned above at present (due to week day commuting) but we got together for a RPG session of ‘We Be Goblins’.  This was rather a hoot, but the amount of prep did surprise me.  Here’s the infamous Goblin Song and the free PDF of the adventure.

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My main tabletop group meets every 4-6 weeks and we’ve had a good year.  We began with Keltia, run by Stef, before moving into Star Wars Force and Destiny, run by Matt (@chimpy20), and then moved the same PCs into an Age of Rebellion game run by Jimbo (@jimbohawkins).  This has been a great contrast to the on-line Star Wars game – more moral challenges and my PC, Minerva Voight (a seer/Makashi duelist) is much less combat-focused than Xim, having spent XP on developing her more supportive and divinatory force powers.

 

Stef and I have also met up with our families on a couple of occasions and played Hero Kids with the children.  Hoping to get another date together soon to try No Thank You, Evil!

 

I’ve also become part of an occasional Sunday morning group – we first met to try the new Conan RPG quickstart (available here free), but it was also where I tested out my plans for Shadow of the Demon Lord in preparation for the UK Games Expo.  Since then, we’ve tried The Strange, playing the highly recommended Eschatology Code and are now working our way through The Copper Crown campaign for Symbaroum. I’ve been really impressed by Symbaroum – I had a great time playing it at the Expo, and found it smooth to run.  Easy rules, players roll all the dice, and a very rich and evocative setting, with magic in the game being inherently corrupting.

Finally, I was lucky to get to a session of Dungeon Crawl Classics, run by @leejneilson, at a FLGS in Rugby, together with @doc_griffiths.  We played through the surreal and dangerous funnel adventure,  The Hole in the Sky, getting to the end but with a rather reduced party of PCs.  Hoping to do more – for a fun, gonzo, dungeon crawling experience, DCC is hard to beat.

Final Thoughts and Looking Forward

Looking at the above, I’m rather amazed at the amount of gaming I have got in over the year, despite work, family commitments, the need for sleep etc.  What is clear is that in terms of hours it has been the Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games which I have played most of, being both a tabletop and on-line game for this year.  On-line gaming has really opened up opportunities – it is much easier to play on-line for a couple of hours  in the evening after work, than arrange a 4-hour session face to face.  Plus, you don’t need to go out, and can raid the fridge for beer.  It has also meant that people I have met on-line or at Cons are now people I can game with.

At the end of the year, it is playing Symbaroum and reading the beta of Coriolis that are at the forefront of my mind.  I think 2017 will be a year where I hope to play more Swedish RPGs, including Mutant Year Zero and Tales from the Loop.  I also think that the RPGs being put out by Modiphius, using the 2d20 system will feature highly – I’m a huge fan of Star Trek and hope to do more of the play-testing and pre-order Star Trek Adventures in January, in advance of release at GenCon.  Several of us backed Conan, so that too will feature.

I like games of occult and magic, so hope to play Unknown Armies and Kult, and am always happy to play or run the excellent The One Ring, and I want to run some more Cthulhu (whether Trail or Call). I hope to try HeroQuest Glorantha (still sad to have missed @dimbyd’s Dragonmeet game) and gain some more experience of ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ games – perhaps try Monster of the Week.   Of course, if I can find players that are up for it, the Rokugan of Legend of the Five Rings or the Mythic Europe of Ars Magica are also always waiting, and still want to play in any of the Worlds of Darkness. I’ve just finished off character creation for a PBEM game of King Arthur Pendragon, to start in the new year.

 

Finally, and thinking of the next generation, I’ve recently met the dad of one of my son’s friends.  He is a gamer too, and he and his son have been playing some Dungeons and Dragons 5e.  We’re all meeting up for some boardgames soon, but we both hope that may develop into some RPG sessions with our boys.

This has become rather longer than planned.  Apologies for wittering on and, if nothing else, the links may be useful. I hope everyone has a wonderful new year and best wishes for 2017.  I hope the dice land well for you and that we all get some good games in.