Archive for January, 2014

Post Nuclear Reno, part 3

January 29, 2014

Last week our erstwhile band of wasteland rogues hit up a nearby geothermal plant to rack up some scrap metal, also scoring some tools and a mule from nearby farms.  Prof. Dink took adventage of the downtime to work on a spring-fired mortar.  After a couple of days of looting they set off for the South Exchange, their cart filled to brimming with scrap metal and pipes.

09c18f9c71f373f2562de52207d25c6a_largeAlong the way they spot a road-block (quickly circumvented) and, a short while later, hide from a passing group of raiders, eventually arriving at a ruined medical facility.  Pappy’s map indicated that a locked, and therefore hopefully un-looted, vault occupied the basement.  The map did not mention the dog-sized mutant scorpions (nor the one, horse-sized, scorpion trapped in the pharmacy…with the vault).  After a harrowing scorpion fight, “Jim” manages to crack the vault (with the help of a salvaged stethoscope).  Inside is a wealth of various drugs and medications…a veritable post-apocalyptic treasure hoard.  Dr. Gaz also managed to salvage enough usable lab gear to make a serviceable chemistry lab.

Next stop, the South Exchange, to off-load some of their loot.  While the South Exchange is not overly large, it is well protected and hosts a number of merchant stalls.  They’re basically able to find most of the gear they need (within their price range, anyways), even locating a “quantum demagnetizer” for the boys back at the geothermal plant.  They make arrangements for a courier to deliver the device to the plant so that they wouldn’t have to make a trip back themselves (aka: an adventure seed that didn’t work out quite the way I’d thought…oh well, it happens).  They spend a few days at the Exchange, where Prof. Dink manages to isolate some radioactive material from giant scorpion guts by using Totya as an improvised human centrifuge.  Dr. Gaz spends the time concocting a home-brew anti-radiation medication using some locally gathered herbs mixed with his trademarked radioactive hooch (as you can tell, this game isn’t real heavy on “science”).

Dungeons & Shopping fulfilled, the party moves on to Fort Stanley, where they’ve been led to believe there’s a high demand for metal.  Moving up McCarren Blvd. they soon hear the approaching sounds of an actual, running combustion vehicle.  Dashing behind some ruined office buildings, they observe what is essentially a ‘technical,’ complete with mounted machinegun, come around a corner and start driving down McCarren in their direction.  Markings on the vehicle indicate these raiders work for the Pit Boss.  Despite the raider’s heavy armaments (or perhaps because of them) the group launches a hasty ambush against the raiders.  There’s brief talk of using Dr. Gaz’s assistant, Klara, as raider bait, but she won’t have anything to do with it and stalks off.

patechnicalProf. Dink finally got to field test his spring mortar, hitting several raiders riding in the back of the technical with a hail of rocks.  Several attacks target the machine-gunner as well, but he’s a tough bastard and doesn’t go down; he spins the gun and hoses the area with lead.  Attempting to escape the ambush, the technical driver floors it, but a well-placed gunshot by Dr. Gaz makes his head disappear; the technical crashes into some derelict vehicles, bursting into flames.  Prof. Dink convinces the surviving raiders to surrender; the rest of the party acts quickly to retrieve the machinegun (a SAW) and what little ammunition remained before it all went up in flames.  The surviving raiders are…disposed of.

The party spends the night in a well-secured office complex, setting bear traps and frag ‘nade booby-traps along likely access points.  No one disturbs them, but in the middle of the night Dr. Gaz, on sentry duty, notices that Fort Stanley, only a few miles away, seems to be under attack.  They decide to rush to their fort’s aid, hoping to burnish their credentials as saviors and general good guys (and, perhaps, out of a bit of guilt over the way the raiders were…disposed of).  Rushing up McCarren they find that Fort Stanley is under coordinated attack by a sizeable force of humanoid mutants.

And the session ended with the PCs maneuvering behind the mutants to launch a surprise attack of their own.

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This session I introduced the use of a ‘salvage deck’ for random looted salvage.  It’s a mixture of consumable items (like food and meds), useful items (tools and equipment), components for making jury-rigged stuff (scrap metal, duct tape, wire and the like) and junk loot items that are suitable either as novelties for the characters or, more likely, can be sold to merchants for slugs.  However, it doesn’t incorporate things like weapons and armor, standard rations or any custom items the players go looking for (there’s simply too much stuff for the deck to properly cover every contingency).

However, as a quick-loot generator it worked pretty well and my players seemed to really like it.  It made it much easier to trade items between players.  And when they use or sell the stuff, they just turn in the card to me, without having write down and erase everything they find.  Personally I’m not entirely satisfied with the hybrid of card loot and traditional bookkeeping.  If I could do it again, I’d try to base the entire loot and salvage system off of the cards, though it would take some contrivance to justify in-game.  As I can’t really do it all over at this point, I’ll stick with the hybrid approach and take notes for using an “all loot card” system another day.

Another thing I noticed this session, while I actively encouraged players to wheel-and-deal with merchants, haggling for the best prices they can get, the process really bogged down when they went to the South Exchange.  While some of the players really got into it, I could tell that other players, who aren’t big on haggling over every last shell casing, were starting to get bored.  So I think next time they go someplace with a lot of merchants (like the Exchange) I’ll just say that all items are sold at list price, and the merchants buy at 1/2 list price – take-it-or-leave-it.   That should hopefully speed up the Dungeons & Shopping portion of the game.

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PFBB Kingdoms

January 23, 2014

paizoultimatecampaignAttached is a simplified version of the kingdom building rules from Paizo’s Ultimate Campaign sourcebook for use with the Pathfinder Beginner Box rules.  I haven’t had a chance to play test this yet, so please let me know if you run into any significant issues.  You’ll need some hex paper for mapping out your kingdom and recording the location of improvements and such.

 

PFBB Kingdoms (PDF)

I’m working on a simplified version of the mass combat rules, as well.  PFBB WAR! should be forthcoming in a week or two.

Cheers.

Post Nuclear Reno, Part II

January 22, 2014

Continuing from last week’s session, the “heroes” of Kelbyville awaken to find the settlement blockaded by a gang of 40 or so raiders, who had apparently followed their trail from the mutant spider cave the previous day.  The raiders claim to represent the “Pit Boss” and have come to collect the town’s taxes.  The townsfolk are somewhat indecisive, but the party, unwilling to part with any salvage, helpfully encourages them to fight to the death.  The townsfolk are largely unconvinced.  There is some talk of luring the raider boss into town for “talks” and then killing him.  The townsfolk are unconvinced of this plan of action, as well.

The issue is forced when a slave in the raider group, a former mariachi, yells that someone from the town is getting ready to attack.  A nearby raider, tired from an all-night march, turns in surprise and shoots a Kelbyvillsian off the town wall.  The fight is on and, in the confusion, the mariachi escapes bondage, though not before taking a few moments to recover his stolen property (his guitar case, mariachi outfit and old guitar, absent strings).

Before long, the raider boss is dead, thanks to Dr. Gaz’s marksmanship and the rest of the raiders routed.  The party loots and celebrates and Dr. Gaz goes into the radioactive moonshine apocalypsecitybusiness.  Fast forward a week, and the party, with their new mariachi BFF, decides to visit a nearby settlement called Double R.  They hear there’s a ‘gun guy’ there, plus it’s close to one of Pappy’s old salvage stashes.  At Double R, the mariachi visits Larry the Gun Guy to trade in some looted gun parts for a functional piece (plus guitar strings and a few extra bullets).  “Jim” goes looking for a bullet-proof vest; the only one in town is owned by the sheriff, and he won’t part with it for any price (well, not for any price “Jim” is willing to pay).

After trading, the party heads out to find Pappy’s stash, but “Jim” mysteriously decides to stay behind, declaring that he’ll catch up to the group later that night.  Heading out, Dr. Gaz and the mariachi run into another group of raiders tormenting a young woman.  They quickly dispatch the raider scum and free the woman, Klara.  Dr. Gaz invites her to become his medical assistant.  “But I don’t have any medical training,” Klara says, to which Dr. Gaz replies “Don’t worry, neither do I.”

A short while later the trio have located Pappy’s stash, hidden in the attic of a still standing house.  The stash consists of a jerry can of gas, some canned food, candy bars, 5 packs of smokes and a stack of porno mags.  While celebrating their newfound wealth, they quickly realize that something is moving down in the house below them.  A quick inspection shows that they’ve been cornered by a pack of wild dogs.  And no ordinary dogs these…they’re acting way too ‘tactical’ for the party’s liking.  A few well-placed crossbow shots from the roof scatter the pack, giving the group an opening to run for it.  And run they do.

boyandhisdog

A Boy and His Dog

Darkness is falling, a pack of ‘smart’ dogs is on their tail and they have no idea where “Jim” is.  Somehow, though, they manage to stumble into one another in the gathering darkness.  “Jim” is mute on his activities in Double R, but soon the party sees lights from a large group coming from the direction of town.  Let’s call this group, for lack of a better word, a ‘posse.’  Hiding in the ruins, the party speculates that maybe the dogs and the ‘posse’ will wipe one another out, leaving them some easy loots.  No such luck, however, as the dog pack retreats in the face the large, well-armed group from Double R.  Soon the ‘posse’ circles back towards town and our heroes are alone in the cold, wasteland night.

Despite fervent questioning, “Jim” denies any wrongdoing while in Double R that night, though he does suggest the group may want to give the town a wide berth on their way back to Kelbyville.  Wisely, the group heeds his advice.

Fast forward 24-hours, and a posse from Double R enters Kelbyville to speak with the sheriff.  It seems that a group of strangers, claiming to be from Kelbyville, had passed through Double R the day before to do some trading.  One in particular tried very hard to buy their sheriff’s bullet-proof vest, though the sheriff simply wouldn’t part with it.  Later that night, the sheriff was found murdered, his vest and weapons missing.  One of the Kelbyvillsians, someone with a thick accent, passed out the Double R gate only shortly before the sheriff’s body was found.  Fortunately for “Jim,” he’s really good at hiding.  A search of Kelbyville fails to turn up anything, though the sheriff promises to send word to Double R as soon as “Jim” shows up again.

That night the party concludes that Kelbyville has dried up for them.  While “Jim” slips over the wall, the others pack up their pick-up-bed cart and head off for greener pastures.  Looking at Pappy’s map, they see a major trade outpost called the South Exchange that’s not too far to the north.  There is a raider base between them and the Exchange, but they can circle around and hit up a medical facility that’s marked on the map; apparently it has a locked vault in the basement.

First, though, they want to pick up a load of scrap metal so they have some scratch to trade at the Exchange.  Not too far to the south is an old geo-thermal plant, which should have plenty of scrap metal (and maybe tools) lying around.  Along the way they loot a leaf spring from an over-turned truck, reasoning it could be fashioned into some kind of sword with a bit of work.  They arrive at the plant to discover three guys banging away on some machinery.  Completely out of character, they party doesn’t ambush and murder these strangers and loot their cooling bodies.  Instead, they befriend and even help them!

It seems these three young guys have read up on engineering and machinery and think they can get the geo-thermal plant working again.  If so, they’d be able to sell power to nearby settlements.  Plus, the plant would actually make a good, defensible settlement with a bit of work.  With working power, it would be paradise.  While some party members start gathering scrap metal the restorationists don’t need, “Jim” and Dr. Gaz decide to check out some farms marked on the map, hoping to purchase a beast of burden to pull their now heavily-laden cart.

Along the way they encounter an easily frightened mutant bear, that runs away when they yell and bang some metal together.  The farmers are suspicious, but open to trade, especially when they learn that Gaz is a “doctor.”  An exchange of ‘medical’ services, plus a few bullets, and the group is one mule richer.  And that’s where we ended.

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I started using a couple of props last night.  The marked-up map of Reno seems to be a phenomenal success, giving the group plenty of juicy adventure leads and yet leaving the game completely sand-boxy.  I told them they couldn’t tape up the disintegrating map, or write anything on it, until they’d acquired the appropriate materials in-game.

As of the game I hadn’t yet received my plastic bullets from Amazon, but one of the players brought a box of actual 9mm rounds, so we used those as currency props for the game.  The players liked being able to see and hold their “money.”  It made them think twice before firing a gun, knowing they’d have to hand a bullet in to the GM.  In fact, maybe it worked too well, for they’re starting to rack up more bullets than I’d anticipated at this stage.  Probably time to give them a good reason to use those bullets. 😉

I’d started working on a set of salvage cards as well.  But as I was working on them, it occurred to me that I couldn’t possibly cover every possibility, a concern born out by some of the  salvage requests players made during the game (such as the leaf spring, for example).  However, they still seem excited by the idea of ‘loot’ cards.  So instead of trying to make cards for every conceivable item, I’ll probably just use them for ‘junk’ loot and consumable items.  We’ll see how they work out next week.

Bring on the Apocalypse

January 14, 2014

noghost-female-concept1v2-colorwork-hyacinthgames-konstantinosskenteridisGot the chance to kick off a new post-apocalypse campaign using the World of Mutants system.  It’s a very minimalist set of rules but seems to work fairly well (so far, at least).

Our hardy band of survivors consists of Dr. Gaz (he’s legally obligated to inform you that he doesn’t have a medical license), Totya (a massive brute with a small mind, a big heart and even bigger muscles), and two wayward scouts from the Hazardous Waste/Nuclear Fallout Facility at Yucca Mountain: Professor Dink (expert in Bark Beetles) and Vladimir “Jim” (former corrupt security guard at the facility).  The campaign is set in the greater post-nuclear Reno region.

The game starts with the PCs held captive by slavers for several days.  Herded towards an uncertain fate, the band stops one day so the boss can visit a nearby settlement.  Shoving the group into an old culvert, the gang boss heads off, telling the ‘boys’ to keep an eye on the slaves until he gets back.  But it’s not long before the ‘boys’ are drunk and fighting, giving the group the perfect opportunity to earn their freedom.  The drunken raiders are quickly subdued, netting the party a handy crossbow, a lead pipe (and other cudgels), some dried rat meat, a bottle of irradiated hooch and various trinkets taken from the raiders.  They decide to lay a trap for the boss and murder the surviving gangers in their sleep that night.

On the morn, the boss returns and stumbles into the PC’s trap.  Dr. Gaz hits the boss with a well-placed crossbow bolt, sending the thug running for his life.  Totya quickly runs the raider down and caves his head in with a massive chunk of concrete, though not before being clipped by a couple of rounds from the raider’s automatic pistol.  They loot said pistol, four bullets, an old billy club, leather armor and one condom (used).

Spotting the nearby settlement, the group heads for it hoping to find work.  It’s a dilapidated shanty-town made from tin roofing sheets.  The locals tell them the town of  approximately 100 souls is Kelbyville, named after the town’s founder and sheriff.  Making a bee line for the general store, the group stocks up on a few supplies.  Dr. Gaz purchases an old can of paint, makes himself a shingle and goes into the doctoring business in town.

Told of a giant, mutant coyote, dubbed El Diablo by the locals, the party undertakes to rid Kelbyville of this menace.  Tracking the beast down in the hills west of town, they catch up to it near dusk as it feeds on…something.  To their horror, the group discovers El Diablo is a two-headed coyote nearly as big as a horse.  Careful to stay downwind, they lay a trap for the abomination.  As Totya draws the monster close the rest attack it with ranged weapons, hoping to bring it down quickly (or, at least, severely injure it).

“Jim’s” pistol finds it mark, hitting the creature in the flank and causing it to flee the trap almost before it’s sprung.  Professor Dink hurls a home-made spear at the creature, catching it in the leg and slowing it enough for Totya to catch up and give it a good bashing with his trusty concrete chunk (breaking it in the process).  Severely wounded, and one head either dead or knocked unconscious, the group gangs up on the coyote to give it a good ol’ fashioned curb-stomping, killing it wasteland style (though the beast managed to get in one last radioactive bite on the simple giant).  They spend the night dragging the carcass back to Kelbyville, where the group is hailed as heroes.  They’re officially inducted into the Kelbyville Scouts & Hunters Guild (which grants no benefits whatsoever).  Kelbyville uses every last piece of the massive canine, with the group’s share coming to a princely 50 bullets!  And they waste no time spending their new found wealth, cleaning out the Kelbyville General Store in the process.

wastelandtornadoWith fame comes new opportunities.  The next day the party is approached by an old trader/prospector/salvager named Pappy.  Pappy is an old man set to retire, but he needs to retrieve one last stash of goods, hidden not too far away.  Unfortunately, the cave he’s hidden his goods in has recently been inhabited by dog-sized mutant spiders.  He’s too old to go up against spiders, but the heroes of Kelbyville could surely get the job done.  In exchange, Pappy agrees to give the party his old map of the Reno region, complete with marked locations, notes and even places he’s hidden a few supply caches.  Such a map can set the group up for a lifetime (well, for a lifetime in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, anyways).  The group agrees and the next day they set off to the south to find Pappy’s cave.

Following the old freeway for a few hours, “Jim” spots another party coming up from the north: 8 raiders armed with at least a couple of rifles.  The group hides, hoping to avoid contact.  But as the raiders approach they can tell that three of the raiders are actually slaves pulling a cart (made from an old pickup bed, of course).  Springing an ambush, one rifle man is severely wounded with a crossbow bolt in the leg and the boss, riding in the cart, is hit in the neck.  Professor Dink yells out to the slaves, encouraging them to throw off the (literal) yoke of their oppressors; the slaves proceed to beat the crap out of the wounded rifle man.

Distracted by the commotion up front, the two raiders behind the cart don’t notice Totya loping up behind them.  With a flourish, one is nearly split in two by Totya’s shiny new fireaxe (okay, not really all that shiny, but it is quite sharp).  Seeing his companion split in twain, the other raider drops his crossbow and runs for the hills, but doesn’t get far as Prof. Dink’s incredibly aerodynamic spear pins him to the ground.  The raider boss gets off a single burst with a sub-machinegun before Totya lumbers into the back of the cart and hacks him down.  The last rifleman runs for it but falls, pin cushioned by crossbow bolts, before he can take more than a few steps.  The party nets a cart, a couple of rifles, SMG, 8 rounds of ammo and various foodstuffs and hooch.  They give the crossbows to the slaves and send them in the direction of Kelbyville.

Continuing on, they find Pappy’s cave about an hour later.  The ‘cave’ formed in the ruins of a collapsed overpass.  Finding evidence of a massive spider infestation within, they gather up a huge pile of dead brush and set it ablaze, fanning the smoke into the cave as best they can.  “Jim” notices that a good portion of the smoke is also drifting skyward, easily visible from miles around.  But they don’t spot anyone nearby, so they continue with the plan.  Soon enough, a tidal wave of spiders come pouring out of the cave, scattering in all directions. When the wave peters out to a trickle, they extinguish the flames and enter the cave, quickly locating Pappy’s hidden stash.

On their way out, however, the spiders start back into the cave, blocking their exit.  They opt to just run for it and make it through well enough.  Professor Dink, using his book smarts, covers himself with spider ichor and egg goo; so camouflaged he is able to just waltz past the spiders, almost completely ignored.  The good professor would have made it out unharmed had he not attempted to capture a couple of small spiders nesting in his hair.  He’s bitten for his trouble, and would have died from radioactive spider venom absent the good Dr. Gaz’s timely application of a poultice.

Successfully retrieving Pappy’s goods, they head back to Kelbyville, dragging the semi-conscious Professor with them.  Reaching the spot of the previous slaver ambush, “Jim” looks back and notices a column of dust heading in the direction of the spider cave.  Realizing someone is on their trail, they opt to march straight back to town rather than risk camping and being caught out in the open by an unknown force.

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tumblr_mmm0pvhqav1qh4857o1_500So that’s where the game ended.  I thought it went pretty well considering I wasn’t expecting to actually run a game last night.  I want to use some props in this campaign and towards that end I’ll give the players an actual copy of Pappy’s map (I have an old, beat up map of Reno that I can mark up with Pappy’s notes, giving them plenty of adventure seeds).  I’ll also use some plastic toy bullets to track the PC’s currency/ammo, and make up some loot cards representing the junk they salvage from the wastelands.

What will they find in post-nuclear Reno?  Among other things: the wasteland warlord known only as the Pit Boss, who’s trying to conquer the entire Reno region; mysterious military forces infiltrating through the irradiated Sierra mountains from occupied California; the mystery of the Carson City Crater (provided they find a way to navigate through the Washoe Valley wastelands); the Gator Men, living in the sewers and maintenance tunnels of Old Reno; gangs fighting over the blasted ruins of Sparks; the Caughlin Clans cannibals; the Lovelock roadblock, blocking all traffic headed east on I-80; and the ever elusive military bunker complex, code name 6-D, long searched for by Pappy, but never found (though he had some ideas).

Cheers!

Happy New Years!

January 1, 2014

Happy New Years!

In the coming year (hopefully soon) I’d like to run another ‘old school’ game for our group here.  Pathfinder is starting to get a bit stale, so it’d be nice to mix things up a bit with some old school ‘save or die’ gaming.

This time, however, I’d like to run a post-apocalypse game.  Not exactly Gamma World, probably something closer to Fallout.  I was thinking about employing some props, too.  You can get plastic bullets pretty cheap, and bottle caps as well.  Maybe a ‘junk loot’ card deck, too.

abandonedcityFor systems, I’m deliberating between the super rules-lite World of Mutants, or a home-brewed version of Swords & Wizardry Whitebox.  However, the group I game with here tends to prefer more complex systems, so I may have to settle for a modified version of Pathfinder Beginner Box.  Whatever it is, though, I’d like a system that players can roll up characters at the table in a few minutes and start playing (I anticipate a somewhat lethal game).

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At any rate, I hope you have a great new years.  Cheers.


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