Best Selling

Saturday, September 7, 2019

CT: Shattered Worlds, The Siamese Syndicate, One-Shot

Need a Traveller Encounter Fast? Here is one for the harried Referee; (made using the Augmented Reality city kit!)
A New Plot for the next group of Pcs: The PC's are confronted by mysterious deaths in their concourse and are motivated to find the answer. A.C.M.W screamsheets are on the story. 
What’s going on: Rob ‘Infidel’ Castro, per orders from the Siamese Syndicate, a fixer network, is testing the “Acoustic Weapon Sensor for the Nordeast Corporation. It is being kept at a Nordeast Safehouse(???). And is triangulating a “field of death” around the Nelson Hale Block off of Cruikshank Concourse. Nordeast hopes to buy a minor nation state on the restricted planet of Port Prince Peace.
Angry Citizens Media Web, a pro-labor propaganda outlet. ACMW is trying to uncover the cause of these deaths. They have a lead on this Siamese Syndicate.
Local Conflict: Castro is experiencing TREACHERY. The Angry Citizens Media Web possibly infiltrated the Siames Syndicate fixer network and are trying to uncover the Accoustic Weapon Sensor tests which are killing their friends and neighbors.
Fixer Network "Boss":
Shaven head, wears grey suit, bulky, and sombre. He is obsessed with "zone" dancing in public places. Secretly employed by the Huron corporation, follows their instructions acting as a Siamese Syndicte diploment.
Area Event: Development/Investment leading to Rapidly Escilating Fatalities from the McGuffin.
McGuffin: Accoustic Weapon Sensor is causing the fatalities.
Where is this all located? Vanders Colony Dome 1, Cruikshank Concourse, Nelson Hale Building, as well as the Bio-sculpt sex studio Aztechnology, in ARchLuxury Apartments building complex.
Nelson Hale is mostly 2’s and 4’s (apartment type), pumped of course.
Current Events; Oil spill on Cruikshank has caused an Agit-Pop Flash Demonstration led by the Copy Catz. Ad-Lib is looking for “Infidel” Castro. He thinks he might know something about what’s going on.
NPC Names: Bashar Ad-Lib; ACMW Reporter,
Boris Yelpin’; Ad-Lib’s camerman
Dilemmas Dangers, Gang Leader of Copy Catz
Wes Dekine, Siamese Syndicate Boss
Dot Avi, Siamese Syndicate Boss
Salted Hashbrowns, Nordeasat Corp. Scientist
Uetake Kunio, Nordeast Corp. Agent
Greto Giles; Nelson Hale Urchin
Tarzan Lopez; Cruikshank Concourse scavanger
Opening Sounds: Police band radio, “Attention mobile unit. Confidential informant advises possible facilitation. Sending Threat-Let. Suspect cover is Wes Dekine, uploading profile dump, no further information. Please respond.”
Gang in the neighborhood: The Copy Catz, composed of 24d10 members led by an adult, . They fight with mixed weapons and their tactics tend towards assault and flank. The gang's primary reason for being is Political (Conservative); they love gambling and HATE daylight! The gang's symbol is two cat skulls facing each other. Gang memebers tend to wear yellow/gold attire. They usually have music from the latest Agit-Band. When first encountered, their initial reaction will be hostile, watch and wait for attack of opportunity. You encounter 3 members hanging out on a corner.
The Gang: Dilemmas Dangers (leader), C8A6B7, light auto, not skilled.
Gangmember Stats; 777773,
Hot Swap, Mad Dog, Booker Numbers, Bad Hayes, Gay Nava, Commodore 69, Computer-1.
Then there are 120 more soldiers of the line which need calling up from Cruikshank neighborhood.
Random Encounters:

Encounter 1 (Pest Control)

Blood-Matted Fitz-Trap, a dangerous predator found on the Skalvil wastes. 4HP, Bite (1d6). What the frak is it doing in the dome? A Copy Catz foolishly brought one back after field trials of the A.W.S. His body is nearby. What do the Copy Catz have to do with wild animals?

Encounter 2 (Hot Cyber Goods)

Urchin Greto Giles14 DEX, 4HP, Knife (d6). She is leading a Scavenger Tarzan Lopez 2HP, Taser (d8 stun damage) to try and sell their cybermodem. Essential part to the AWS. Copy Catz, on Infidel’s orders, are tracking them down. The pair look nervous. As if they know what they have is hot, dangerous goods.

Encounter 3 (Residents pleading for help)

Body Pit: Copy Catz members are disposing of jellied bodies in the Nelson Hale Block.

Encounter 4 (Hot and ready to rock)

Eviction Squad: Roll random reaction to see how it goes down. 1d10+SS+Int=stand down #. They are juiced and ready to pop!

Encounter 5 (Breaking & Entering) Exploitable for entry; Samuel Gompers Building.

Working for Needful to dispense street hygene. Security techs to silence the persistent alarm. These are possible angles to get access into the building. Needful Hygiene Dispensers: You will be deployed to a building lobby or reception area, and sometimes you'll operate in the street, where you will remain for the duration of the gig. You will be supplied with a paper coverall, nitrile gloves and a 20L back-mounted tank full of hand sanitiser, or other germicidal, dispensed by trigger pump to hygiene conscious citizens. You may leave your patch once you've run out of gel. Pay is docked per 500ml remaining at the end of your shift. The tank must be returned in good condition, but the gloves and coverall are yours to keep.

Encounter 6 (News scoop!)
Angry Citizens Media Web (ACMW link-95)reporter Bashar Ad-Lib and his camera man is onto the story. He wants to try and find the source and is looking for people handy with sensor equipment and electronic counter-measures to do some triangulation.
What is happening at ARchLuxury Apartments, 10 floors, malfunctioning alarm, a crime scene, the building looks gothic, pristine. Remote Assistants grant access. Eyeball recognition. The whole thing is encased in plastic siding.

Friday, September 6, 2019

OSR XP Awards Expanded

The conceit of XP for gold in Dungeons & Dragons is to incentivize adventuring. To face unknown peril in the hopes of in-game rewards. And since then DMs and PCs have argued for and have given XP for behavior outside of wealth accumulation. A great example of this mechanic is found in TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes. The game incentivizes heroic action by awarding “Karma” points. The spending of Karma point values by the PC is then used to turn in-game failures into successes for the hero. Do more heroic stuff during the game and your PC continues to enhance their ability to successfully pull off heroic stuff! Play it safe (and decidedly non-heroic) and the PC will not have a means to pull the proverbial fat out of the fire when the stakes are nigh insurmountable.

And there I have let the XP for gold standard lay. The end-all and be-all means of OSR-character advancement, while expanded means of character advancement I accepted in any other game as well as the conceit implied. I mean, I never had reason to change OSR experience awards. Sure it forced me to become oblivious to standard economic reality in my fantasy settings, and what it would require for in-game financial management, let alone where are the staggering tall stacks of cash being kept! But I was young, impressionable and really didn’t care. My sandbox DM hands were kept out of meddling with value judgments and in-game awards outside of the prescribed method.

But now I am older and game time is not had everyday. It is three times a month or less. Me and my players will be long dead before multiple campaign worlds will be played out and characters risen to heroic, high fantastic deeds if I kept XP count strictly on coin. Besides, my interest in player motivation and player-driven goals leads to no other conclusion than XP awards for goals, activities and actions.

My current OSR campaign, the Dying Earth of Rom’Myr, started as a genre-enforcing thought experiment by restricting PC class. Basically house-ruling the character creation rules to suit the game worlds genre. Without diving into too much detail, here is the long and short of it. Decidedly pulp-flavored fantasy the default class is Thief. Good attributes qualify the budding PC for any of the other six character classes available. But restricting character class wasn’t going to get my desire across. That of incentivizing PC play inline with genre tropes typical of the literature.

For this task I had to offer up XP awards for actions and behaviors. For example, I wanted the PCs to take a look at some great indie-OSR product as well as take faction affiliation more seriously. Therefore I offered 250 points for a god from the Petty-Gods compendium at character creation. Completing “jobs” for Patrons gave more XP than just their financial award. Achieving party-agreed upon goals generated XP awards, causing story-appropriate reactions and results gained XP, engaging with the campaign world’s people and places gains XP.

How these XP’s are rated and distributed has been an ongoing experiment, really just giving out group XP rewards for great game play. Here is a good example of my evolving thought on these XP awards. The PCs placed a modest wager on a racing long shot. They then involved themselves mightily in the races intrigue and double-dealing to orchestrate a win! Against all odds the PCs slapped their marker down at the betting window, achieving an 8,000 dollar win! Except the poor never win in Rom’Myr. Just like the real world, when the powers that be are denied they call foul and cancel the payout! No gold, no XP. I did not like this, not one bit. So the crown and cathedral confiscated the “fairly” won spoils. Why do the PCs get no XP? The players themselves achieved an amazing in-game feat, one worthy of cataloging in any dying earth tale. So I gave the party the 8,000 XP.

Look, I want my players to succeed. That is why I don’t fudge to-hit and damage rolls. It makes those miraculous rolls, those narrow odds achieved, really memorable. I also don’t want them to toil endlessly for thousands of coin to achieve heroic stature and reputation. The geometric expansion of XP totals forces me to litter the game world with ridiculous treasure caches otherwise. Screw that noise. Specifically, cash and gems generates instant XP. Items of value must be converted into cash before XP is awarded. Pulling off risky actions typical of the genre grants individual awards. Now I am rewarded by having good players. Players who “do stuff”. They most likely would play in-character even without artificial XP awards. But sometimes they want to play it safe, drift away from trouble and take the road more traveled to save their hides. Turning up the possible XP available makes ignoring new, dangerous hooks and threads just that more harder. That the call to adventure, and its awards, can be found in completing well known tropes and attitudes. I think rewarding the PCs for completing goals agreed upon by the party the most satisfying of all. This “rapid” advancement drives the game with a fast pace, the other great ingredient marking a good game. This idea of additional XP awards driving pace is something for another blog post itself. Suffice to say, reward your PCs for doing stuff. Not just with coin and magic. But with meaningful XP awards.

Gambling Mechanic for your Online OSR Game

A great roadside attraction thrills your fantasy players. The promise of unexpected boons and banes from carnival games is a thrill not unlike gambling. Most tavern encounters and back-alley interactions are spiced up with an odd game of chance or ridiculous custom being played out. In a FTF game going “all-in” with a game of cash poker can be done in real time if the DM and PCs agree. While not necessary, the “game-within-a-game” has not uncommon interest for your average gamer. Just like a mass combat encounter where the DM and players through down miniture armies and work out the fight with a table-top wargame, so to can gambling games be so straightforwardly delivered.

Image result for fantasy tavern characters

Not so online. The DM can’t whip out a deck of cards and start dealing, all the while laying out house-rules. Falling back on the hobby’s early improvisational roots, you can roll out both use real gambling games to play for a winner. Online, not so much.

Besides the physical barrier to play, if some PCs are in to gaming while others want to move on to other goals this can cause disruption in play for everyone if the games of chance take too long. I therefore conjured up a quick way to resolve exotic card games while retaining a reusable mechanic which gives the thrill of hitting a payout!

For my occasion I came up with a poker game called “Dragon Master”, and resolved it thusly; any PC who wants to play a hand must put up an ante. This is added with all other antes to give the starting “pot”. The DM decides how many additional players are so the number is correct. Now each PC must Save vs. Poison to get a playable hand, a hand worth betting on. If not then the PC looses their ante and must wait for another round to play. The NPC’s the players are gambling against never roll for a playable hand. This set up is completely player-facing. If only one PC is gaming against others than rolling for a playable hand is straight forward. Roll your Poison Save till you succeed. Pay the amount of antes equal to the number of hands you were “dealt” before you stayed in.

Now the PCs declare their wagers and roll to win. This is resolved with an attribute roll. The PCs are free to choose from Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma. Both the DM and any active PC players roll a d20. Winner is the highest number without going over their chosen attribute. Rolling over your attribute represents folding, losing in a showdown, however the PCs and DM want to role play the encounter. There is nothing in the way for any amount of role play PCs want to do because the final dice roll always gives you the winner.

I give my PCs xp for every bit of cash they win, even if they loose it all in following hands. Nothing sharpens a card player like taking a few beatings along the way! The improving saving throw with character advancement complements the idea of a more experienced traveler and adventurer getting mre playable hands. Face it, good card players are more than likely to have had a wide variety of wordly experiences, and PC level is a good representation of this in game terms. The d20 throw against attribute counts both the edge a character may have with high numbers while at the same time these flat rolls can also throw surprises!

So, to recap;

1. Place your ante.
2. Roll save versus poison to continue, or loose ante.
3. A saved ante now must be wagered on, PCs still in declare their wagers.
4. Roll d20. Highest number without going over attribute wins.
5. Repeat.