Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Actual Game Prep Report

There are lots of actual play reports floating around the intertubes but not a whole lot of actual game prep reporting going on.  Most DMs who blog like to present a slightly more polished product than their private notes.  The result of actual gameplay is distilled and refined and published on the blog, but the actual "product" that allowed the gameplay to happen, the DM's notes, the lifeblood of any campaign, are rarely seen.  There are of course exceptions, and I always thrill to see the idiosyncrasies of another master of the dungeon when I am lucky enough to encounter some scans of notes.

As it has been over a year since my last post, I finally had the flash of insight that I should just scan in some of my campaign notes and post them as is rather than waiting for some magical epoch when I have all this free time and I get to do a million little projects that are simmering on the back burner.  I do hope to annotate this post at a later date to explicate my often arcane scribbling.

Click on the Pic to see them in their entirety







Saturday, July 16, 2011

Odds and Ends pt.1

I am going through my big three ring binder full of crap from my Mutant Future campaign today.  I pulled out a few of the gems to share with y'all in a series of posts, hope you enjoy!


Tribe 15:  When I rebooted the campaign on the world of Celestia and included magic in the mix, the party ran across a few members of this group; a little goblin that could teleport and a giant ogre proved particularly troublesome.  Tribe 15 is named after 15 sets of paired glowing spikes designed to be inserted into the eye socket.  The spikes are octagonal in cross-section at their base, and would be totally transparent if not for the intense glowing white light they produce that makes it difficult to look at them directly.  Once both spikes from a matched set are inserted into the eye sockets of a subject, the subject loses normal sight but gains magic detection, x-ray vision, regular vision and heat vision out to a one mile range (telescopic and microscopic only for regular vision, microscopic down to 32x magnification).  The eye spikes can also be used at will to make a ranged attack within 100' for 6d6 damage (energy blast).  In addition, the subject now has a telepathic link (willing or not) with all other members of the tribe.

 Each set of paired spikes has a personality, intelligence and even a spirit bound within, and the spikes constantly attempt to assert dominance over any user.  Once per day, even when just being handled, either spike of a pair may attempt a Willpower attack (WIL 15) to dominate a target in physical contact with the spike.  The spikes were created by the techno-mage known as Mad Albert in the darklands, and basically form a self-perpetuating magic item collection team.  When members of the group fall, the remaining Tribe 15 members search for new "recruits" to stick with the free spikes.  Once dominated by the spikes, the new members meld seamlessly into Tribe 15's unending quest to scour the darklands for magic items and technology to bring to Albert.  The 15 distinct personalities of the spikes fulfill different roles in the group, from squad leaders to melee bruisers to sneaky scout types.

Tribe 15 in play:  The party was really creeped out to discover they were being tailed by a group of mixed creatures with glowing eyes.  All attempts by the party to lose or hide from the pursuers failed (1 mile range xray vision is a bitch!).  When the teleporting goblin isolated a party member and it became clear it was trying to blind the party member with glowing crystal spikes, the party REALLY started freaking out.  This was a great encounter, the powers of the spike, especially x-ray vision and telepathy within the group, really made it hard for the party to run, hide or even effectively engage their opponents.  After a tense combat that ranged up and down the sides of ruined buildings and across a large area of the dark surface, the party managed to escape with one set of these spikes in tow...

Albert's Constructs - Albert's Eyes and Killballs:  The creator of the Tribe 15 spikes also created a number of other constructs that the party heard rumors of but never encountered.  Interestingly, my 4e group HAS encountered these next two, reinforcing the link between Celestia and my 4e campaign world...

Albert's Eye (tiny construct)
HP:1
AC:-4
MV:240' (magical flight, can hover, total maneuverability)
Attacks as 10 HD Creature
AT: 1 (50' stun ray or 10' electric shock )
DMG: stunned for 1d4 rounds / 5d6
Saves as a 20 HD Creature, no damage for effects that would do half damage with successful save

Albert's Eyes are tiny magical constructs that resemble large marbles with a glowing red "A" suspended in the middle.  They can project a 2-dimensional image on any surface out to 50', with the size of the image depending on the distance it is thrown (up to 15' wide at 50' range).  They can also project sound (of volume equivalent to a dozen people being loud) out to 50'.  Objects within 1' can be telekinetically manipulated with 15 pounds of force.

Intelligence:  While not "intelligent" in the true sense, Albert created sophisticated magical artificial intelligences into each eye.  Separate combat avoidance and movement centers allow the eye to fly unharmed while directing other constructs with the impressive battle algorithm that Albert created to enable the eyes to be tiny commanders of his battle machines.  Scouting and tracking modules enable an eye to perform nearly any task Albert needs done in the darklands.

Senses: detect all lifeforms within 50'; telescopic and microscopic regular and heat vision out to three miles; x ray vision to 1000'; hearing augmented to incredible levels with sophisticated magical intelligence filtering out background noise to allow targeted listening of human speech or equivalent at ranges of 1d4 miles (roll once per use, terrain and other conditions result in the variation).

In addition, Albert's Eyes act as a direct conduit for Albert.  Linked to him at creation, he can see and hear through them at any range.  Albert can take direct control of an eye, and by extension, any other constructs that the eye is currently controlling.  It is rumored that Albert can also cast magic through an eye that he has direct control over, but this has not been verified.



Killball (medium construct)
HP: 100
AC:0
Movement: 180' (magical flight, good maneuverability)
Attacks (as 10 HD creature): 3 x longsword AND battleaxe / 3 x machine gun (see below)
Damage: longsword: 2d8+3 / battleaxe: 2d8+4 / machine gun: 2d10 +6

A Killball's HP are divided into half, with 50 HP belonging to a spinning metal ball with three swords for tripod extremities and 50 HP belonging to a metal ball with a battleaxe and heavy machine gun.  Once at least 50 HP damage is taken, roll randomly to see which half is destroyed.  The killball then loses the attacks of that half (either three longsword attacks or the battle axe / heavy machine gun combo).  The two halves of the killball are connected with an invisible magical "tether" that can stretch up to 10', allowing the two halves to potentially engage in melee with two different targets.

The Killball receives +3 bonuses to attack rolls made with the longswords+3, +4 bonus for the battleaxe+4, and +2 bonus for the magical heavy machine gun+2.  These items can be recovered from a downed Killball.  The heavy machine gun has 120 rounds in a belt (40 rounds of continuous fire at 3 shots per round).

Killballs come equipped with a very limited set of pre-programmed actions, including guarding a defined area against intruders, pursuing a target, attacking a target and taking evasive maneuvers.  When within 50' of an Albert's Eye, however, a killball can make use of the eye's combat brain and becomes a very cunning foe.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The End (for now)

After a glorious run of either 54 or 55 sessions (I found a scrap of paper that would appear to be the experience awards for a forgotten "true" first session which would make the numbering I have used all along on this blog off by one) I have decided to cancel my biweekly Mutant Future game.

This is not the end of this blog; I actually hope to resume my 2e Tuesday posts in the near future and I have a TON of material that I generated for the game that I can post now as well!

Incidentally, this also marks the official end of my developing a supplement compatible with Mutant Future that I had hoped to self publish someday.  I had fun making a "fantasy genre" character creation bolt-on for Mutant Future, but it really just whet my appetite to make my own complete game (which I am doing).  Honestly, the play test that I conducted (14 sessions with all new characters rolled up using the Fantasy Quirks rules playing side by side with the surviving Mutant Future characters) was a success.  The new characters with fantasy quirks held their own with but did not overshadow the old characters with mutations.  The magic system worked pretty well in my opinion, and that is considerably more than I say about any published edition of D&D to date.

 I am going to leave the free text version of Fantasy Quirks up forever, all the OGL crap is filled in and correct and the entire thing is open game content.  I was actually quite pleased with the devilish pacts (one way to gain magical powers in Fantasy Quirks is to make a pact with a specific devil, based on "real life" devils drawn from the Goetia - I presented a version of this adapted to D&D on my other blog).  I feel good about adding some more open game content into the great Internet soup.  I hope that somebody will find something of use in it.

I am still DMing my other game and playing in my friend Carter's awesome campaign.  And like I said, I'm not giving up on this blog.

Carry on!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dance Party! (session 54 recap)

Last Sunday's Mutant Future / Fantasy Quirks session at my place unfolded like an 80's movie.  There has been a big social event on the horizon for several sessions now, the annual Spring Stomp dance held in the Sottles (south hills) of post-apocalyptic Eugene, OR.  The citizens of Spanky Butt and the matriarchal Sottle clans come together in a massive grange each spring to feast, drink and dance the night away, culminating in a Line Dance Faceoff between the Sottle folk and the townfolk.  James Bomb, international man of mystery, ladies man and the self proclaimed "face man" of the party, had been invited to the dance as the date of Elise Baumgartner, the beautiful young daughter of a progressive and wealthy Spanky Butt family.

As I have been terribly remiss in posting on this blog, some key bits of back story must be filled in here.  As mentioned in my Force Cage Death Match post, the Sottle women chew a strange black berry that stains their lips dark red, keeps their teeth white, their breath minty... and allows a rage filled demon known as a Blarg Beast to possess them should they lose their cool.  The Sottle menfolk are kept in a drugged stupor by the hurkool leaf they chew, which makes them move terribly slowly but also allows them to become hulk-like combatants if pressed.  The Sottle women seem to be in league with a secret faction of the Knights of Genetic Purity known as the Men of Santo (their symbol, as revealed by a tattoo discovered on the chest of one of Chaplain Squaldorf's slain deacons, may be recognizable to you:
)

The party has seriously messed with the biofuel production which is apparently the primary result of the labor of the massive herds of drugged menfolk, first stealing several 50 gallon fuel drums after a refinery and storage facility was left unguarded in the wake of Hag the Beastmaster (a party member created using my Fantasy Quirks supplement to Mutant Future) sacrificing an entire Sottle enclave to an unknown demonic entity in exchange for great personal power, then blowing up a storage depot with six completely filled 300 gallon tanks waiting to be helicoptered off by members of the Knights of Genetic Purity directed by the Men of Santo (this last bit of information was revealed by a captured KoGP mechanic who was interrogated at length following the destruction of the fuel depot).

Hag the Beastmaster also was responsible for destroying a section of the fortified wall which surrounds Spanky Butt town and blowing up portions of the Brown family residence, a very wealthy and xenophobic/anti-mutant Spanky Butt family.  So in short, the party in general and Hag in particular were in bad standing with both the Sottle folk and the townfolk.

But on the other hand, the party had also just managed to finally destroy Julius Corple and the ziggurat of doom (definitely a subject for another post), so they were also local heroes to some.  People either loved 'em or hated 'em.  One of the younger members of the Brown family, a lad whose name escapes me at the moment, has developed a bit of a schoolboy crush on Kazumi, the halfling samurai who has been serving as James Bomb's bodyguard.  The night before the dance, this boy took a considerable risk by sneaking out and warning Kazumi that he had overheard his father planning to kidnap any party members that attended the dance.  The dance is supposed to be neutral ground, and Mr. Bomb had been assured by his hosts, the Baumgartners, that nothing untoward would happen on the festival day.

So, forewarned is four-armed, as they say in the Mutant Future..  some party members scouted out the location of the dance during the night and discovered some trap doors leading below ground, and the Hag's beast (which is now intelligent and possessing a photographic memory because it was fed several "soul cubes", sugar cubes containing a captured human spirit...) was able to identify the scent trails leading into the trapdoors as being members of the Brown family.

Beyonce Chai parachuted down onto the roof of the grange from her giant eagle mount and set up position with her sniper rifle, while the other party members either waited out in the brush or arrived in the parade convey that left from the town, firing guns into the air the entire way (as is apparently the tradition at this sort of thing).

Three separate assassination attempts were foiled by the careful planning and reconaissance of the party; first, a party member cloaked in shadow (Brent's new character, whose name I also cannot remember without my notes in front of me; he was rolled up at the start of the session after Braziere the half-orc died rapidly last time fighting some advanced terminator bots buck naked for some reason) observing the dance hall from a vantage point inside, saw a number of young toughs associated with the Brown family excuse themselves from the feast and venture outside to the bathrooms en masse.  Beyonce used her remote controlled dragon fly robot's camera to observe what they did; they snuck out into the brush and visited a previously undiscovered trap door, and met a knight of genetic purity there who handed off several small bundles to the scoundrels.  These bundles were pocketed and the posse returned to the dance.

Beyonce radioed in this information to Mr. Bomb and the Hag, the only two party members who had openly attended (the Hag caused quite a stir when she showed up wearing a dress of glowing energy draped over her hunchbacked form).  They were thus not caught unawares when the Brown family henchmen tried to bump into them and brush a soaking wet handerchief across their faces.  Mr. Bomb tried to turn the tables on them and inject one of the incoming ruffians with a strong sedative he had prepared in syringes for the event, but he accidentally stabbed a comely town lass who he was dancing with at the time (damn those critical failures!).  He did, however, manage to grab one of the handkerchiefs from an attacker and save it for future analysis.  Realizing Bomb and the Hag somehow had gotten wind of the plan, the scallywags beat a retreat.  It was later revealed that the chemical covering the handkerchiefs caused anyone inhaling it to get terrible diarrhea.  The dastardly plot was to force Mr. Bomb and the Hag outside to the restrooms, where they would be jumped and drug off into the night.

The second assassination attempt was foiled by Beyonce Chai's decision to hunker down on the roof for the entire dance.  A slender person dressed in ninja garb attempted to use a grappling hook to gain access to the roof, intending to sabotage the machinery that operated the grain elevators and drop a massive platform down onto James Bomb as he participated in the one on one dance offs that took place between the lines of townfolk and Sottle folk in the Line Dance Face Off that was the culmination of the dance.  Beyonce simply lifted the grappling hook up, threw the ninja out into space and blasted him/her with her laser pistol as he fell down!  He barely survived the blasts and fall and disappeared into the night... but he/she will be heard of again, I promise Beyonce that!

The last assassination attempt was foiled by my bad luck at dice rolling.  I had devised a dice pool gambling mechanic to resolve the individual dance showdowns that were the centerpiece of the dance, and James Bomb got lucky when I used my nightly d30 roll on a high bet by his adversary in the dance off, one Georg of the Hilldancer Clan (a group of Sottle men who apparently were not kept drugged by the womenfolk, and who wore distinctive kilts - the dance was the first the players had seen of this faction).  I rolled something terrible, and James ended up winning both that showdown, and eventually, the title of Spring Stomp Champion!

Only fit men and women participate in the individual dance face offs, because the combined mental energy of the two lines of line dancers and the live band actually causes 5d8 damage to be dealt to the loser of each faceoff.  Mr. Bomb knew this risk, but had plenty of HP to deal with the eventuality of a defeat if it came to that... but what he did not know was that old man Brown, that fascist mutant hater, was actually a mutant of considerable power in his own right, and was planning on sending a mind bolt to strike him dead at the exact moment the collective crowd energy dealt him damage if he lost the danceoff.  Alas, the dice did not fall well for me, and all three assassination plots came to naught.

The Hag did, however, detect Mr. Brown's mental mutations through the use of her Detect Magic ability (I had to answer the question right off the bat when I started using my Fantasy Quirks supplement if Detect Magic could detect mutations... as I have explained the power source of both mutations and magic as coming from what I call the shadow world, I reasoned that Detect Magic would work, but would only reveal a very faint trace of magical energy in the presence of mutations; the Hag used her d30 roll to detect the mutations and rolled a 28, so she lucked out and got some powerful leverage against old man Brown...) and ended up blackmailing him with this potentially damning revelation to get him to stop his continual attacks against the party.

All in all, it was a great session!  Oops, I just realized that I missed the part where some party members killed a few guards that were posted at the trapdoor where the Brown family thugs got the drugged handkerchiefs from, with Bozko the shape shifting plant flying in his iron man suit 2.0 (the glargore version recently constructed by the mice in mech suits) to dispose of the bodies far away.  Everyone was too chicken-shit to venture down into the trapdoor, because Hag's beast had smelled a hideous spider-mutant-monstrosity down the hole, and the party had heard that the Brown family kept a mutated spider in their dungeons to use as an interrogator   Maybe next time...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Force Cage Death Match! (Session 51 Report)

That Wascally Wabbit

I am falling farther and farther behind the rabbit.  I still haven't finished session recaps from months ago that explain campaign changing events that are shaping the current game.  Tonight I decided to bravely soldier on ahead, damn the torpedoes, and recap last Sunday's game without sidetracking myself with endless digressions to explain the previously unmentioned.  So this may be a little strange and incomprehensible (even by the standards of my admittedly over-the-top, GONZO!!! Mutant Future / Fantasy Quirks campaign...).

Only six players showed up for the game this week, as James Bomb's player was travelling cross-country to Eugene on Sunday, Bozko's player had a ride fall through, John Doe's player had finals coming up and long standing scheduling conflicts prevent some of our original players from attending.  

Verisimilitude Be Damned!

One of the greatest strengths of my Mutant Future campaign is also its greatest weakness; from the beginning, I stressed that it was perfectly OK as a player to drop in and out of the game.  I wanted to encourage new players to drop in without feeling like they had to make a huge commitment; I wanted to encourage friends who might have one weekend free in a blue moon to drop in and play as a one shot character; I wanted to make this game as low pressure as I could by requiring as little commitment as possible from players in general.

On the pro side, this has led to me introducing a dozen brand new pen and paper RPG players to the hobby, and has led to me refereeing sessions with over ten players for the first time in my DMing career.  This has also led to some strange situations where PCs pop in and out of existence, because I always let everyone present at the start of a session play even if there is no logical way that they could suddenly appear in the action.  Usually I just wave the magic DM's wand and be done with it, but this week I had a meta-game conversation with the players present and asked that they not take actions to advance the game time past the big dance on Saturday that James Bomb had been invited to by the daughter of a leading Sottle socialite.  It was Wednesday in the game, so that gave the players two full days to play around with.

Of Mice and Men

The session started with a trip to the Mice of Camelot to pick up three mech suits (one custom built for Kazumi the halfling samurai and two of the generic mech models the mice use converted for human occupants, a Galahad model and a Robin Hood mech) and four suits of dog boy armor that were supposed to settle a long standing debt the mice owed the party.  While there the party had some liquid analyzed that had been swiped last session from a religious revival in the Sottles.  Chaplain Squaldorff, a long time nemesis of the party that first came to their attention as the religious leader of the group of Knights of Genetic Purity that invaded the Willing Mate valley a while back, conducted the religious revival and first dosed the usually placid and drugged out hillfolk men with an incense that appeared to be some form of amphetamine, then whipped their emotions up to a frenzy, and presented them with a communion of bread and "wine".

James Bomb drank some of that wine last session, and now the party (sans Mr. Bomb) learned what it was: a very potent male fertility drug.  Its effects:  Semen can survive nearly indefinitely without perishing; chance of fertilization is greatly increased; chance of the egg splitting into twins, triplets, quads or even more is over 50%; and offspring are at least 80% sexed male.

Further analysis revealed that James Bomb's semen could now survive even in the vacuum of outer space!  Party members snickered at the thought of what future sessions will surely bring...

The party had also left some alien technology with the mice for them to examine; the teleporter pods and repulsor carts looted from Celestia.  The mice made a major breakthrough with the teleporter pods (I let the party roll the mice's tech roll, and BJ used his d30 roll and got a 9 (on a roll low, d100, Mutant Future-style tech roll).  The mice had both identified how the teleporters worked (a mycelial tissue that generated linked portals with a "skin" of the shadow world between them), and had figured out that they could hack a pod to link to a different pod besides its original mate.  

The broadcast power units in the hovercarts that both powered the repulsors and served as a shield and environmental manipulator had also been reverse engineered to an extent by the mice, to the point that they added a strap-on repulsor flight system to the dog boy suits the party had ordered.  Most interesting to Tilandriel was that the broadcast power seemed to travel through the shadow world, but the machinery interacting with the shadow world was neither biological (like the mycelial tissues used to open wormholes by the Oozyxphg or the similar tissues in the teleporter pods) nor magical in nature.  The shadow circuitry seemed to be entirely created and sustained through controlled frequency and vibration modulation in an enclosed sound chamber.

 The shield technology, a way to extend the forcefields that the mice already used on their mechs out to a scale that could be useful for the party's hovercraft, had been difficult for the mice to crack but they did succeed to an extent.  The Swamp Orca now has an omni-directional 50 HP forcefield that refreshes at the beginning of each round. This shield could be focused down to a minimum of 90 degrees arc of protection, at 100 HP forcefield per round.  A control seat was added so that a party member could take direct control of the forcefield and sacrifice her actions that round to take total control of the shield.  

After the party had spent a good chunk of time with the mice, it was remembered that Beyonce Chai had obtained some strange dark berries from the purse of one of the well kempt Sottle women who seemed to be in charge of the herds of drugged men.  Talandriel examined the berries and discovered that the seeds seemed to be linked to the shadow, a one way connection that would allow something to enter this world from beyond.  Eager to test out another new piece of equipment (the result of an ongoing and fruitful collaboration between the mice and their technology and Tilandriel's elven magic), Tilandriel put on the scanning microscope attachment and turned his mind's eye inwards, looking back through the shadow portals that have replaced his eyes into the shadow world.  He traced the connections back from the seeds and soon realized that some sort of demonic beast could emerge to possess anyone eating the berries.

Someone had the bright idea that maybe the party could use the berries as a focus to gate in some of these demon-beasts so the party could test out the new mech suits in combat!

Force Cage Death Match!

Beyonce Chai was initially reluctant to go along with this plan, even though everyone else was quite taken with the idea.  Once Hag the hideous beastmaster offered to construct a magical force cage to act as a summoning circle, so that the party members who wanted to take place in the combat could be sealed in before the demons were even summoned, Beyonce agreed to give up a few of her berries to use as demon-bait.  Hag is a magic shaper, and last session she sacrificed an entire village of Sottle women (long story) to a demonic entity to double her Constitution, the stat which her force based magic relies upon.  As a result, Hag now has a lot of magical energy, and she successfully constructed a force cage summoning enclosure linked to the berries so that anything drawn through would be unable to leave the enclosure.  Some spiked walls and areas of floor that would trigger columns of fire were added to the force cage, and Tilandriel set up a magical trap that would drain some energy from the beasts as they passed through the portal.

Death Match, round one!  (Hag scouted around the ruined landscape and found a nice big Nash Rambler hubcap to bang on before each summoning...)

A single Blarg Beast came through, and Tilandriel successfully drained some of its energy, suppressing the time ripple effect that would normally surround the beast.  Inside the force cage, Brazier the giant half-orc hefted his new sword (a converted mech weapon, a force great sword with an 8' blade) and stood shoulder to shoulder with Kasumi in her new mech.

Danny's new character (can't remember his name right now), a dragonborn sorcerer made using 4e rules (yes there is a 4e character in my Mutant Future game), hid behind a wall in the force cage in the Robin Hood mech and readied its grenade launcher.

The first beast died before it got to take an action, there was much congratulating all around, and the decision was made to do it again!

Death Match, round two!  Ding!

This time, four blarg beasts came through.  Luckily, Tilandriel again managed to suppress their time ripple fields with his magical trap as they came through the portal.

With four targets, the party only managed to drop one of them in their surprise round.  Now we had a real battle on our hands!  The beasts have three arms, which they used to slash and grab their victims; a second slavering mouth emerged from their stomachs when they successfully grabbed someone.  They also had the ability to leap fifty feet up into the air and then shoot down like an arrow at a target, making a DEX 15 attack for 6d12+36 damage.  The first beast to do that would have killed Brazier, but he sacrificed his armor, leaving him standing naked in the arena wielding his giant sword.  He did not run as his comrades urged him to do.

Danny's character was also dive-bombed, and he had to sacrifice the brand new suit of +5 wooden chainmail that Tilandriel had made/grown and enchanted for him to survive the massively damaging attack.  He then found himself behind the wall of cover that he had been using, engaged one on one with a blarg beast.  Hag switched the force spikes from one side of the wall to the other, and Danny used a power that pushed the beast back into the spikes, just killing it.

The terrain hazards worked well, as another blarg beast was charging at Danny when Brazier used his wind controlling abilities to slam the beast into the force spike wall just as Hag caused the spikes to extend toward the beast.

The third beast abandoned Kazumi as the samurai mech had proven very difficult to hit and Kazumi's Dexterity is so high that the beast had little chance to land its divebomb attack.  It turned its attention to the naked half orc, who again narrowly avoided death when the beast nailed him with all three claws - which would have killed him, but his nictitating field saved his ass this time (a forcefield that flickers in and out of existence, giving a 50% chance of reducing each incoming attack by 10 damage) and prevented twenty damage, giving him just enough time to slaughter the beast with his greatsword next round.

Teach Your Children Well

Tilandriel divided up the magical energy siphoned from the beasts between himself, the artificial soul that he rescued from one of Corple's failed experiments, and the devil Seere (who he contacted last session and negotiated a complicated deal to obtain the devil's help and patronage in return for the soul of one of the telepathic hackers, if the party could free the souls from Mad Albert back in Celestia).

Tilandriel's player has been talking to me about raising the artificial soul and intelligence like it was his child, and has taken several steps toward that.  The shadow cube that houses the intelligence and the shadow circuitry that makes up its soul can also manifest a physical body out of shadow stuff, and when the party defeated one of Corple's shadow panthers a few sessions ago, Tilandriel was able to salvage some of its "shadow modules" (the shadow circuitry that allows the shadow panthers to take different forms and absorb mutations) and install them in his child.

This session, he actually sacrificed 3,000 XP that he was awarded to raise his artificial child up to 1st level.  He told me he is grooming the child to be his next character!  I love it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I love scheming. And plotting.

I don't get to spend much time prepping for my weekly games.  I scribble in my notebook on the bus to and from work.  I grab fifteen minutes here or there, but I never actually sit down for extended prep sessions anymore like I used to think I had to do.

I used to think I had to spend hours creating a fully fleshed out place for the PCs to explore BEFORE the session (heck, before the campaign even started!).  I treated it like an art project; I was creating a four-dimensional sculpture, and a lot of the time, I ended up creating tons of stuff that never saw the light of play.  

What I do now is a lot more like studying for a test than creating an art project.  After a campaign has been going for a while, it generates enough content that you really don't have to create much.  It creates itself.  You just have to sprinkle in some new spices and stir the ingredients around a bit to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot.  I look back at my notes from past sessions and refresh my memory with plot hooks that have slipped through the cracks.  I think about new ways to connect all the things that have happened into a coherent framework.  I think about what the logical responses would be to the PCs actions; responses from the other sentient actors on the scene, responses from the plant and animal life, responses from the land.

I have been getting to do a LOT of plotting and scheming lately, because both of my games took a couple week break over the holidays.  On top of that, I got to fast forward time by a year and a half in my Mutant Future game as a result of some extra-dimensional portal hopping and 4-D teleporting done by the party.

A year and a half is FOREVER in game terms.  My Mutant Future game has met for 48 sessions, and only a few months of game time has passed... until now!  The party ended last session having just been reunited with Daybrak and the badders, and soon enough they will find out what Julius Corple has been up to underneath the ziggurut that he built on top of the military complex during the party's absence.

All I can say is it is going to be fun.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Target 10 System for chart-less Attribute Attack Resolution

Mutant Future contains a chart based resolution mechanic for Willpower attacks.  Many mutations call for a Willpower attack rather than a melee or ranged attack roll; the chance of success in a Willpower attack is determined by cross-indexing the attacker's and defender's attribute score on a chart to get a "to hit" number for a d20 roll.

I took this idea and ran with it, coming up with the general idea of attribute attacks.  Any attribute can be the basis of an attribute attack; just like Mutant Future's Willpower attack, there are Intelligence, Dexterity, Constitution, Strength and Charisma attacks.  I used this a lot while writing the "quirks" (mutations by another name) for my Fantasy Quirks character creation supplement for Mutant Future.  I created a version of the Willpower Attack Table found in Mutant Future for any attribute attack:



There are two things that I like about attribute attacks; they do not gain potency while leveling up unless the ability itself increases, so 1st level characters with high attribute scores can contribute meaningfully alongside high level characters in combat; and (more importantly to me) it makes each attribute a defense.  It makes the random attribute increase that is the result of leveling up 80% of the time in the Mutant Future a much more valuable thing.  In a similar fashion to how 3e and 4e took saves and made defenses out of them, this gives me as a DM an easy mechanic to use for all sorts of attacks against the PCs.  Demonic possession?  A Willpower attack with the demons WIL of 15.  A run of the mill pit trap?  Dexterity attack with an attacking DEX of 10.  I would write the previous example using the following shorthand: DEX10 ATT 3d6 (meaning if the Dexterity attack succeeds against the character, the character takes 3d6 damage).

A cloud of gas?  CON15 ATT, 5d6 dmg save for 1/2

Bribing an official?  Obviously a Charisma attack situation.  I don't always (or even most of the time) call for rolls when players attempt to do things, but it is nice to have an easy and unified mechanic to use when I do.  When I don't know the attribute of a creature or situation (in the case of a pit trap or other inanimate attacker or target), I generally use 5/10/15+ as a good guide:  If the creature is not known for that attribute, or if the challenge is easy, I use 5.  If the creature has no reputation for that attribute, good or bad, or if the challenge is moderately difficult I use 10 as the target attribute.  For a creature known for the attribute in question or a difficult challenge, I will use 15 or more.

Today, I looked at the chart a little closer and realized that I could express the attack resolution in very simple terms to allow attribute attacks on the fly without having to look up a target number on a chart.

I realize that many people love looking up numbers on charts.  In my case, it is often one of the only times I have to refer to a book at all while running my Mutant Future game, and I would just as soon not have to break my stride to look at the attribute attack chart one more time.

So here it is:


The “Target 10TM” system for chart-less attribute attack resolution .

(Target 10TM Carl Nash 2010)

d20 roll + (Attackers Attribute - Defenders Attribute) ≥ 10 = Success


In words:  Subtract the defender’s attribute from the attackers attribute.  The result (positive or negative) is the modifier to the d20 roll.  A modified result equal to or greater than 10 is a success.

Example:  

An attacker with CON 13 makes a CON attack on a defender with CON 15.

Attacker’s CON - Defender’s CON = -2

-2 is the modifier to the d20 roll

The attacker would have to roll a 12 or better (12-2=10)

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