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.

 

My contribution to Grogzine #1: Star Wars RPG, West End Games

Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. 1st edition, 1987, West End Games.

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We didn’t go on holiday when I was growing up, and there were no gaming shops in my town.  A trip to the exciting metropolis of Birmingham, and the delights of Games Workshop and Virgin Megastore, offered the rare outlet for my RPG addiction (now serviced all too easily by Kickstarter and on-line stores).  However, in 1987 I found myself as a teenager on a somewhat surprising and surreal holiday – a trip to York to the see the recently opened Jorvik Viking museum, but with my mum, sister, and my former infant school teacher and her husband.  Wild times.  I recall a dingy B+B, with all my family in one room, and a bathroom shared with the other guests on the rest of the floor.  In addition to the stomach-churning smells of the museum (is it still the same?  I was too nauseated to ever risk going back), I do remember, to my delight, finding a gaming shop, and stumbling across the Star Wars RPG and buying it with some left over birthday money.  Although I’d been into RPGs for a few years by this point, I’d not been aware of the game having been released, so possibly the holiday coincided closely with the book’s publication in the UK.  Like many of our generation, I’d grown up on the original trilogy of films, and had been collecting the Star Wars Mattel toys when younger.  I was a Star Wars fan.  I can’t claim to ever have been an obsessive, always having a slight preference for the Trek universe, but Star Wars had action, romance and high adventure and the RPG was great fun to play as a teenager.

We played the game a lot – heading off to the local library in our lunch breaks from school to huddle around a table. One friend, keen to be a combat monster, went for the ‘Wookie’, or ‘Bounty Hunter’, and another, with our persuasion, the ‘Smuggler’, who handily came with a Stock Light Freighter for us to whizz around the galaxy in.  My own personal favourite was the ‘Failed Jedi’, whose personality was described as “Cynical, foul-mouthed, and pessimistic – but with a heart of gold.”  He could barely hit anything with his lightsaber, but started with both the Control and Sense Force powers, and the latter allowed you to parry blaster bolts.  Which I still think is a way cool thing to do.  Scum and villainy were battled, beautiful slave girls rescued, and evil Imperial commanders thwarted.

Re-reading the game over the summer, in parallel to playing the excellent recent iterations of the Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games, it struck me as a remarkably modern game.  The game merges attributes and skills, and rather than numbers, each has a value denoted by a number of dice, reminiscent of the Cortex system. However, what struck me most was how the templates and character generation system reminded me of RPGs ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’, and of the Feng Shui RPG:  playbooks/templates of archetypal characters from the setting (‘arrogant noble’, ‘brash pilot’, and the oft spoken of ‘quixotic jedi’) that could be easily modified by the player to create their individual PC. Each template came with a background, suggestions for connections to other characters, and a quote. A very quick and easy way to get started.  As us grognards know, it’s all been done before, and, much like music, was better in the 1980s.

Its perhaps not surprising that I have all the various Star Wars RPGs released since 1987.  What is clear, for the fans and those who’ve played them, is that it is the initial Star Wars RPG from West End Games, together with Fantasy Flight’s Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, and Force and Destiny RPGs more recently, that gets the most admiration, rather than the d20 and Saga editions from Wizards of the Coast.  WEG d6 Star Wars is fast, simple, high action and gives all the feelz of ducking down corridors in the Death Star whilst pew-pewing white-clad Stormtroopers. The books released for the game were influential in their time, interfacing with other media outside of RPGs: they were reputedly used by Lucas Films as an overview of the Star Wars setting and given to authors to guide them when writing novels for the expanded universe.  The game itself went through three editions – the 1st in 1987 (the one I purchased in York, after the horrors of the Jorvik), the 2nd in 1992, and the ‘revised and expanded’ 2nd edition in 1996.   It is this latter edition that is the best and the one for Eddy to pick up from e-bay when on a bargain hunt.  However, if you don’t want to part with any cash, with ‘free’ being the best price,  a fan updated pdf of this is available at http://waveyourgeekflag.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/star-wars-d6-reup-re-updated.html .

Since coming back to the game, my admiration for WEG Star Wars has been further reinforced by a recent podcast interview between Jim McClure and John Wick.  John was discussing his influences when creating my favourite RPG, Legend of the Five Rings.  He cited Pendragon (samurai, as knights, being constrained by honour and duty, but occasionally overwhelmed by passion) and WEG Star Wars.  From the latter he took the mechanics used for Force powers to underpin his system for magic and the spells and prayers of the shugenja of Rokugan.  And as we know, Wick, like Master Yoda, is wise in all things.  I’d like to think my enjoyment in playing my L5R PC, Asako Soh, a Phoenix clan Shugenja, is linked in some way to the fun I had in playing a grouchy, whisky-sodden Jedi in the 80’s.  Although Asako Soh’s personality is very different to my real life persona, I fear the cynical, boozy old man has got rather closer over the years.  To quote the Failed Jedi: “Kids.  Gah. Kids. You wanna learn how to use the Force? Listen when I talk to you. (Wheeze). Damn kids.  Where’s the whiskey?” Mysterious indeed are the ways of the force.

@Asako_Soh, September 2016.

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks to Dirk @theGROGNARDfile for permission to put the article here and for publishing it in the Grogzine.

Here’s a link to a film from the first Grogmeet where the Grogzine was launched:

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Legend of the Five Rings – #Session 8. A Plague of Crimes

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We started the session with a heated discussion between Shiba Ujime and Susumu Zeshin as to the fate of Yuri. Zeshin counsels caution and arguing for greater proof for a legal case, and using what they know about Yuri’s use of Maho to find other possible cultists. However, Ujime, his affinity to the fire kami apparent in his demeanour, feels that it is incumbent on him to deliver punishment to the Maho-tsukai, before others are corrupted and tainted.

Despite Zeshin’s concerns, Ujime begins walking back towards Sencha and onwards to Jouzousho. Tamori Endo meditates, seeking to find clarity in the turbulence, but none comes. Moto Mongke Temur jumps on his horse, following the Phoenix Shugenja, catching him up quickly. Susumu Zeshin, troubled by his friend’s rashness, decides to travel on to Yasuragai Monastery, where the Inquisitor and her yojimbo could have been headed and where also the missing widow and daughter from Sencha had been travelling. Endo decides to follow him to the monastery. Askao Keiji, his fragile mind shattered by his intense contact with the Void, recuperates at the Inn of the Clever Frog.

Ujime and Temur arrive at Jouzousho in the middle of night – as they approach Yuri’s house, they see her young admirer, Ota, skulking about and Temur scares him off. They enter Yuri’s house – Ujime standing over her mother, and Temur draws his scimitar over the sleeping Yuri, ready to behead the witch.  As Temur’s sword flashes downwards, Yuri moves with surprising speed, a jagged knife slashing into her own arm as a ball of dark, oily, fire forms in her hand. The fire flies out to hit Temur squarely in the chest as his scimitar takes Yuri through the breastbone, ripping into her lung and windpipe, leaving her bleeding out on her bedroll. As the samurai catch their breath, Ujime begins speaking to Yuri’s mother, noticing her gaze focus behind her and her eyes widen. He turns, seeing Ota enter, knife in hand, ready to launch himself on Temur. Ujime shouts a warning and Temur, bloody scimitar still in hand, turns. His sword cuts deeply into Ota’s flank, taking his torso clean off his body, leaving his legs standing, blood pumping, until the corpse collapses. Yuri’s mother screams and Ujime tries to calm her, in the process finding out that Yuri has become cold and cruel of late. Shin and Matsei, the doshin, arrive and see what has happened and also report Bondo, the third of their number, has gone missing.   The doshin take the samurai to the Otomo Lord’s residence – as before, he us unable to take part in the discussion and is intoxicated, but his wife accepts Temir and Ujime’s account and thanks them for their help and asks them to look for the missing doshin. The samuria return thanks for the wise Otomo’s aid for the Phoenix and the Naishou governor in routing out cultists. Ujime and Temur leave the village and travel to Yasuragai.

maho

Meanwhile, Zeshin and Endo arrive at the monastery and a young novice, Ikki, takes them into meet the Abbot, Fukai. Fukai appears distracted and forgetful, seemingly unaware of the missing people and murders that have occurred in the villages nearby. However, he confirms that one of his own monks, Etoku, has gone missing whilst working in the gardens. The Abbot mentions that Etoku was friends with another monk, Asai. They visit Etoku’s room and Endo finds an enigmatic poem, where Etoku expresses suspicion of Asai, his motivations and his identity.   Zeshin meets Asai and finds him superficially to be a benign friendly monk but becomes aware that Asai is a highly trained individual – he feigns shock when Zeshin informs him of the Maho-tsukai Yuri, but the Spider is aware of his duplicity. Asai confirms what the samurai had been told by Ikki – namely, that Asai travels around the villages teaching but particularly attends to the people of Koujou.

Yasuragai Monastery

Yasuragai Monastery

Zeshin and Endo dine with the monks in their communal hall, Endo engages Asai in conversation regarding botany and gardening and is impressed by his wide knowledge of the practices of all Clans across Rokugan, clearly a very well-travelled man. As the conversation deepens, Asai turns the topic to Endo’s own life and recognizes him as a key combatant in the Destroyer war. He praises Endo for his audacity and valor in battle, despite Endo’s ongoing remorse for his actions. As the conversation progresses, Zeshin leaves and searches Asai’s room. He finds a hidden compartment in the ceiling; in it is a Scorpion kimono, spell scrolls, and a chop bearing the name ‘Yogo Aguchi’. Zeshin returns things to the box and rejoins his friend.

Ujime and Temur now arrive at the monastery and are talking with Abbot Fukai in his audience room. As with Zeshin and Endo, Ujime and Endo are struck by the Abbot’s vagueness and confusion. The Shugenja’s medical knowledge suggests that the Abbot was neither intoxicated nor subject to the senility which afflicts some ageing Rokuganis. Communing with the kami, Ujime is able to determine that the Abbot’s fire kami were constrained and repressed by dark kansen. Zeshin and Endo meet their friends in the Abbot’s audience chamber Recalling events in Nikesake, Endo and Ujime, with the Abbot’s consent, commence work on a ritual to strengthen the Abbot’s fire kami, freeing his intelligence. The ritual proves to be successful – the Abbot becomes definite and forthright in his manner. He confirms what the Shugenja remember of Yogo Aguchi – that he was a Scorpion Shugenja forced to retire from the Clan 15 years ago due to some embarrassment. The Abbot adds that the Scorpion Shugenja had lost a powerful magical artifact. The party learns that Asai has fled the monastery and, on checking his room, has taken his kimono and scrolls with him

After aiding the Abbot, the Samurai decide to travel to Koujou, the village that Asai commonly visited. Koujou is a modestly-sized village, probably at most 200 people, perched on the banks of a small stream. An elegant arched bridge crosses the stream, and to one side of the bridge is a large wooden building mounting a waterwheel. As it slowly turns, passersby can hear the heavy, laborious “thump, thump” of a giant mortar and pestle within. A medium-large samurai house is located on the edge of the village, with a large garden that overlaps the stream.  The Samurai present themselves to the local lord, Miya Kishin, an elderly man who excuses himself to his garden, asking the arrivals to speak with his son, Miya Kuboti, and the doshin, Koto. Kuboti and Koto confirm that Asai visited the village often, and spent time with family who ran the mill, Chio and her grandchildren. Kuboti adds that the disappearance from their village is Chio’s grandson, Higaisha. Kuboti kindly offers to take the samurai to the mill.

Miya Kuboti

Miya Kuboti

The Samurai enter the mill, the regular thump of the mortar and pestle beating alongside their hearts. As they enter, their eyes accommodating to the dull light inside, they see a fearful, beetle-like Oni in the center, claws snapping. Behind, shuffling into the darkness comes the blind mill-worker, Chio, accompanied by a young woman and the missing Doshin, Bondo, from Jouzousho.

Oni

Oni

Despite the fear the samurai feel, they draw on their honor and the Bushido virtue of Yu, courage. Kuboti turns to the samurai, grinning, his hand on his katana. Moving with speed, he draws, landing a powerful blow on Zeshin. The fight begins in earnest – Zeshin supporting Temur and Endo, defending them from attack, whilst the Unicorn attacks relentlessly with his no-dachi, seemingly oblivious to this wounds. Temur strikes – slaying Kuboti with one mighty blow. The shugenja call on the kami – Endo sending powerful jade blasts at the Oni, piercing his defenses, whilst Ujime breathes gouts of flame across the cultists and the Oni, moving across the mill. The leader of the cultists, Chio, seemingly resists Ujime’s flame, absorbing their force into her amulet, until the power of the kami overwhelms her, leaving her shrieking in flames. The battle is brutal: after Endo inflicting a mighty Jade-charged wound on the Oni, the kami fail to hear his call, perhaps due to his prayers being incoherent due to the beating he receives from the doshin Bondo. Ujime, after burning the cultists, is mortally wounded by the Oni. The Oni’s talons strike him full on the chest, rending him open and tossing him mercilessly across the mill, where he lies unmoving and bleeding out. Despite their wounds, Zeshin and Temur keep on fighting – with the Unicorn dispatching the Oni with a mighty swing of his sword. Zeshin finishes off the doshin as one cultist flees, Temur mounting on his horse, chasing and cutting her down. The session ends with Endo, broken and bloody, crawling across the floor, covered with burned and torn flesh, to the mutilated body of his friend, Ujime.


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Star Wars Edge of the Empire game: introducing Xim Chamra, Falleen Gunslinger

SW_EotEI’m excited to be starting playing in a Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG game on Monday evening, run by @Chimpy20, with whom I regularly game at my place.

Here’s the background info we’ve been given:

The game will be Edge of the Empire based, but using content from the whole trilogy of books. You can use any source when creating your characters, but the only thing I ask if that someone playing owns a copy of the sourcebook you want to use. Let me know if you want to borrow any of my books.

You’ll be starting on the Inner Rim planet of Taanab, at the farming town of Arkridge. Arkridge rests on the rolling grasslands which cover most of Taanab. The planet is well known for it’s agricultural exports, and ships and planetary vehicles are coming and going all the time from Arkridge to the planet’s capital, Pandath, bringing in supplies such as clothing, machinery, and armaments, and departing with foodstuffs like meat, grain and vegetables. Arkridge has a population of about 2500, and is one of myriads of similar farming communities all over the planet. Taanab is on the Perlemian Trade Route, which runs from Coruscant all the way out to Wild Space.

The Galactic Empire has recently taken an interest in Taanab, having paid it little attention since the fall of the Old Republic. The Empire’s motivations in having a larger presence at the system are unclear. In recent months, Imperial dropships have been seen descending onto the grasslands and depositing mobile structures and leaving behind contingents of personnel and soldiers.

The timeline of the adventure is shortly after the Battle of Yavin and destruction of the first Death Star.

Your character should have a reason for being in Arkridge. This is likely to tie into your character’s Background, Motivation, and Obligation/Morality, but need not to. Feel free to make up an NPC/organisation or ask me to give you one, if you need to hook into a particular NPC/. Here are a few ideas:

– You’ve come to Arkridge to investigate the Imperial presence.

– You come from the area originally and are visiting friends or family

– You are a scientist or vet investigating some kind of problem with crops or animals.

– You fly a vessel transporting goods to and from settlements on Taanab.

– You are on the hunt of a criminal or wanted person and your trail has lead you to Arkridge.

– You are a member of the Rebel Alliance seeking support of locals

– You’re selling items of dubious legality to the farmers

– Or whatever you can imagine…

For simplicity’s sake I would prefer not to bring in the Duty system from AoR, but feel expressly free to use Morality from FaD if you are a force user, otherwise pick an Obligation. There are additional obligations in most of the EotE supplements.

@Chimpy20 has also mentioned that we would run Force and Destiny for our tabletop group, so despite the temptation, I thought I’d resist a Force-sensitive character and go for one from the Edge of the Empire books, given that is the main backdrop for the game.

Looking through the books, Smugglers appeal (either pilot or gunslinger), as do Explorers (scouts, or archaeologists) and Technicians (mechanic).  Other players have suggested that they may go for pilot and tech-types so I think a gunslinger may be fun.  I’m not one for playing combat-orientated PCs, but with this build I can perhaps diversify with some inter-personal and criminal skills.  The Falleen as a race seem to fit these ideas – links to the Black Sun, get Charm skill, and Beguiling Pheromones (upgrades Charm, Deception, and Negotiation at the price of some strain).

So here he is, Xim Chamra:

Falleen Smuggler Gunslinger, Xim Chamra

Concept: Xim was the son of a powerful Black Sun Vigo, related to Xizor. He grew up in luxury on Coruscant, conducting operations for his family and the organisation. However, his family recently fell out of favour in an inter-family conflict, many dying to Xizor’s faction. Xim managed to flee, the resources of Black Sun denied him and his details given to the Imperials. Both of these organizations are now hunting for him. Xim is hiding out in the quiet town of Arkridge, on Taanab, trying to set up independent criminal operations.

 Falleenn

Obligation 20, Bounty.

Brawn 2

Agility 3

Intellect 2

Cunning 3

Willpower 2

Presence 3

Beguiling Pheromones – 2 strain to upgrade charm, deception, negotiation.

Career Skills:

Charm 1

Coordination

Deception

Knowledge (Underworld) 1

Perception 1

Piloting (Space)

Skullduggery 1

Streetwise 1

Vigilance 1

Coercion

Cool 1

Knowledge (Outer Rim)

Ranged (Light) 2

Talents:

Rapid Reaction

Motivation: ambition (freedom).

 Wounds: 12

Strain: 14

Soak: 3

Gear:

Blaster pistol (damage 6, crit 3, stun setting)

Heavy clothing

Commlink

Stimpack

Legend of the Five Rings – #Sessions 6 & 7. A Plague of Crimes.

We restarted our L5R campaign with our PC’s in Kawa Forest, in the Naishou Province.

Our uncouth Unicorn Bushi, Moto Mongke Temur, was sparring with the Kenku Taro as Shiba Ujime and Tamori Endo meditated. Taro was pleased with their efforts in helping the Ningyo in the province and was willing for them to return to their primary mission: to investigate the missing Phoenix samurai as requested of them by Asako Kyoshi, an Inquisitor, back in Nikesake.

Before they return to Toshi no Naishou, Taro wishes to strengthen the group. The Champion of Void, Shiba Sakamoto, has left to explore the spirit realms with the Kitsune Soni, his wife. Two figures step into the grove, one, a Spider samurai who our heroes remember from the Blue Tiled Room – Susumu Zeshin. Accompanying him is a nervous looking young man in tattered Phoenix robes, Asako Keiji. Keiji brings a scroll, addressed to Shiba Ujime, and from the Master of Void. The letter renders Keiji into Ujime’s care – to be supported, watched and tested. He is a former peasant, adopted by the clan, due to his unusual ability to commune with the Void. Taro states that Susumu Zeshin will be his Champion of Air, and Asako Keiji his Champion of Void.   Taro informs the group that he may call on them again to support the Five Ancient Races and to protect Rokugan and the Celestial Order from threats from the Colonies.

The group departs, travelling by boat to the capital of the province, Toshi no Naishou. Whilst there, Temur spends time with the Governor’s daughter, Miya Iaimiko, and Zeshin learns of politics in the region and the goal of the Spider Clan in Naishou from Susumu Oiji, a scribe at the governor’s court. Meanwhile, Ujime attends to the spiritual and health needs of the heimin population and Endo enjoys a discussion of botany and gardening with a Crane artisan. The group learns that in addition to the missing Phoenix, several villagers and a Samurai child has also gone missing from a group of villages to the East of the province. Iaimiko accompanies the samurai part-way as they travel to investigate.

Miya Iaimiko

Miya Iaimiko

They stop first at the nearest village of the group, Jouzousho Village. They fail to gain an audience with the village’s Samurai, Otomo Susan, initially but with persistence see him and realize he has lost his honor to decadence: spending his time with his concubine and sake. The Samurai learn from the doshin of the village that there have been three disappearances and a murder over the last several weeks. One of the missing people is a geisha, Hana, whim the locals believe has run off with a lover. However, when the Shugenja find a note to Hana from her purported samurai lover, the calligraphy is of too poor quality to be that of a samurai, even a Crab or a Unicorn. The samurai also learn that the murder and one of the disappearances connect to a beautiful young sake-worker, Yuri, in that they were both her admirers. However, when questioned, Yuri baffles Zeshin with her ability to resist his questioning but Keiji, entering into an alarming trance-like state, confirms that there is more to her than meets the eye and that she hides a dark truth.

Isawa Taeko, Inquisitor

Isawa Taeko, Inquisitor

The samurai travel onto Sencha village, the last known location of the two Phoenix samurai, Isawa Taeko, an Inquisitor, and her yojimbo, Shiba Otembo. The samurai speak with the doshin and the innkeeper at the Inn of the Clever Frog. They find the missing Phoenix’s belongings, including Isawa Taeko’s journal, which Shiba Ujime takes into his safekeeping without reading. Communing with the kami, Ujime finds the road the missing Phoenix have taken, seemingly in haste given the belongings left in the room, and Temur tracks them along the road to Yasuragai monastery, until they leave the road to a clearing in the forest. Here, they spot a piece of Phoenix robe. Keji communes with the Void, taking his spirit back to events that occurred. He returns to his comrades shattered and disturbed – he witnesses the two Phoenix samurai being killed by a foul, flying beetle, an Oni, the yojimbo dismembered and eaten and the Inquisitor carried off in its maw. Ujime once agin asks the kami for guidance – seeking the oni and where he took the Inquisitor, however,  the air kami show him a brief image from before the arrival of the Oni, and Ujime sees a beautiful young woman, Yuri, slashes at her arm and invoking Maho….

Yuri, using Maho

Yuri, using Maho

LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS – A CLASH OF IDEOLOGIES SESSION #5

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Last session we left the Samurai in Inari Seido, meeting Mareshi, the half-Naga husband of the former Dragon Clan champion. He confirms that his mind becomes filled with dark visions at night, of attacking his brother monks and destroying their fields, and pleads for the samurai to aid him, reiterating his wish to be locked in his room until he controls himself.   The Abbot asks the players for their advice – he tells the Samurai that a Crane delegation is on its way to the monastery, offering to protect the monks from the Ningyo, the leader, Kakita Matabei, has written to the Abbot saying that the wisdom of the monks will see that the Crane are best protectors of the Fortunes and the Province.  Shiba Sakomoto recognises the name of the Crane – the Kakita killed his brother in a duel several years ago.

The Samurai approach the bank of the Itochu River as dusk falls, Temur leading the way on his horse.  They are set upon by feral Ningyo and a fierce battle ensues.  The battle ends by a Ningyo from the rushes calling out to the samurai in Rokugani asking them to desist – Sakamoto and Temur kill the last resisting Ningyo and speak with the new arrival, who introduces himself as Nolus.  Nolus tells the players that his people had been told by Itochu no Kami that the samurai would be coming to their aid – he informs that his people are battling one another, and some of the Ningyo have changed in nature, becoming more bestial.  He fears what the Empire will do if the Rokugani remember the Ningyo and seek to destroy them.  The Shugenja know that there is a myth that eating the flesh of Ningyo grants the eater immortality.

Ningyo

Ningyo

The Samurai remove their armour and many of their weapons and accept Nolus’ invitation to follow him and meet his father.  The players find that the Lapis Lazuli amulets given to them by the Kenku Taro allow them breathe and communicate underwater.  Nolus’ father is Athon, ruler of this nest of Ningyo.  He tells the samurai that many of the feral Ningyo have left their home and are attacking his people, he keeps many of them imprisoned and is clearly saddened by the civil war wracking his people.  The Samurai return to the surface, remembering Taro’s promise that Soni would help them resolve the Ningyo’s problems.

250px-Tower_of_the_Ningyo

On returning to the bank, the players see the Crane delegation have arrived. Kakita Matabei and Shiba Sakamoto argue over the death of Sakamoto’s brother, Matabei insulting his honour.  A duel is called.  As the samurai prepare, Sakamoto feels a creature rub up against his leg and sees Soni, in fox form.  She speaks to him privately, offering to help him in the duel in return that he marries her and leaves Ningen-Do with her.  Soni has sensed his religious doubts and wishes to show him the reality of the spirit realms.  Soni imparts some knowledge of Kenku swordsmanship to Sakamoto.  The duel begins with Matebei being very skilled, however, Sakamoto draws deeply on his own Void and that of Soni and is victorious, Matabei committing seppuku with honour.

Kakita Matabei

Kakita Matabei

At the end of the duel, Soni hands over a clear, almost translucent, large pearl to the Samurai asking them to take it to Athon. Soni now calls in on the promise – asking Shiba Ujime to marry her to Shiba Sakamoto – and they leave the mortal realm together.  The samurai return to the Ningyo’s home, giving the pearl to Athon and, as they hand it to him, both Shugenja feel an intense wave of rage and hostility and get an impression of a dark presence, far away, in a tropical jungle.

20110804154743!Dark_Naga

We leave the Samurai with being thanked by Itochu no Kami and returning to Taro, where he begins to train them.

LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS CAMPAIGN – A CLASH OF IDEOLOGY, SESSION 4.

kenku

Taro

Soni turns to meet the cowled figure, the samurai spotting her white fox tails. The small figure pulls back his hood, revealing his bird-like features.  He introduces himself as Taro, one of the last of the Kenku and tells the samurai that Soni, his kitsune companion, has lead them through the Kawa Forest into Chikushodo, something the Shugenja had already suspected.

Taro tells the group that he is concerned – he is worried as to the effect the new Colonies will have on the Celestial Order and Ningen-Do and what horrors and threats may be encountered outside of Rokugan.  But he has concerns closer to home.  He offers to teach the samurai in return for their help in Naishou.  As the samurai talk, Taro sends Soni to fetch Shiba Sakamoto – the players see her turn into a white fox and run through the trees, back towards the boat.

Sakamoto wakens in the boat, sees his friends absent, but a beautiful Phoenix samurai-ko on the bank beckoning to him.  He alights to greet her and she beckons him into the forest and he follows, leading him deeper into the trees and Chikushodo…. As he enters the glade, spying the Kenku, Sakamoto not only sees his friends but watches the Phoenix change shape back into a multi-tailed white fox.

Kitsune_Kohaki

Soni

Taro tells the samurai that he represents one of the Five Ancient Races, the Kenku, the Race of Air.  The Shugenja are aware that many great Rokugani heroes have had Kenku Sensei and having had such is considered a mark of great destiny.  He tests the samurai.  Temur successfully hunts Tsu Fish and is named the Champion of Water, Sakamoto is questioned on Bushido and revenge on his brother’s killer and is named Champion of Void, Ujime sees a vision of his wife and his former friend Sister Yuriki in the pool and is asked to discourse on love and duty and is named Champion of Fire, Endo is asked to speak about his role and his arrogance in the Destroyer War and is named Champion of Earth.  “And I will represent Air, until my other Champion arrives”, Taro tells them.

Taro begins his teaching, telling the Samurai of the Five Ancient Races and the Spirit Realms, and asks the Samurai to aid his ‘cousins of water’.  Taro has learned that the Ningyo of the Itochu river have began acting out of character, leaving the water and tormenting the monks of Inari Seido.  Taro says that Soni has learned that one of the monks has become insane and the monastery fears for him.  Taro passes each Samurai a lapis lazuli amulet that he tells them will allow them to enter the realm of the Ningyo, he asks them to visit the monastery and help the Ningyo as he fears the province’s response to the the mer-folk. Soni will bring them further aid if needed.

The samurai return to their boat, led back to the mortal realm by Soni in fox form.  They travel back along the Itochu River, towards Inari Seido, briefly stopping off at the Governor’s Palace in Toshi No Naishou, agreeing to return to help find the missing Phoenix.  As they travel along the river, Endo and Ujime commune with Itochu no Kami, who appears as a blue, bearded man bearing a basket of fish.  He too asks the samurai for their aid and is concerned about the taint in the river and the effect it is having on the Ningyo.  The Samurai arrive at the monastery, impressed by the statue of the Fortune of Rice, and meet the abbot Goichi.

Goichi

Goichi

Goichi explains that merfolk have been raiding the monastery’s fields at night, damaging the crops, and frightening the novices.  However, he is most worried about one of the brothers who has asked to be locked up at night due to his recent aberrant behaviour.  Goichi explains that as dusk comes, brother Mareshi would run to the river’s edge, shouting in a strange tongue and walking into the water, yet remember nothing of events the next morning.  The samurai are taken to the monk’s cell – as the door is opened, and the monk is seen meditating inside, Endo is shocked as he recognises him. The monk was formerly Mirumoto Mareshi, the half-Naga husband of the former Dragon Clan Champion.