Roleplaying Games


banner

It’s been a very busy couple of months, but work on the sourcebook for 1930s pulp Istanbul continues. We’re about two-thirds of the way through writing, with layouts getting roughed out. Art orders for maps of the city and the Grand Bazaar are going out soon.

Right now, it’s a pretty vanilla tour guide to the city, but the pulpy bits are getting added soon including two adventure scenarios. The page count is anticipated to be about 80 — about the same size as our Queen of the Orient, and expect a similar price structure. There will be both a Fate and Ubiquity version and the planned release date should be August. Inshallah.

Advertisements

A little something from the ongoing Hollow Earth Exepdition game. The Ahnenerbe has had a bit of help reverse engineering a Vril flying saucer they captured in the Hollow Earth three years ago, and now it is harassing our party…

nazi_ufo_01Developed from a Vril flying saucer returned with the Deutschland mission, the Schwarze Sonne project reverse engineered the Vril technology using available technologies. The repulsor technology is a bit crude and is powered by a pair of Maybach V-12 engines. These flyer saucers are capable of carrying 12 men and have a minimal crew of two — a pilot and an engineer. The standard operating crew includes a second pilot, who also acts as a gunner, a radio and radar operator, and four gunners for the Solothurn turrets on the underside. It is armed with a turret topside carrying a pair of Spandau 7.92mm machine guns, and four turreted 20mm machine guns for ground assault.

SIZE: 8   DEF: 6   STR: 14   SPD: 200   CEIL: 20,000   RNG: 1000   HAN: 0   CREW: 8   PASS: 4 WEAPONRY:  dual Spandaus in turret — Dam: 5L   Rng: 250’   Cap: 250   Rate A   SPD: A; 4 Solothurn 20mm in turrets — Dam 6L   Rng: 500’   Cap: 100   Rate: A   SPD: A

The return of our Hollow Earth Expedition campaign included one of the players wanting to trade out his character, the French cat-burglar/actor for something new. He was leaning toward a character in the classy gentleman spy, John Steed vein but left it to me to build it.

Our adventure coming up was how there was a lost island, possibly a bit of the Hollow Earth that got “stuck” to the Surface World in the South China Sea. I figured we needed someone who was familiar with the lifeforms and might have a direct connection to the mission. Hence this character was born:

Aristotle Strange

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 20.45.07Ari Strange started his life as a philosopher and thinker in the ancient city of Molad, one of the apeman cities arrayed against the Emperor Mot. When the Interior World emerged in 1933, he was deposited in Hong Kong, where his ability to speak and reason earned him study by MI-13, the United Kingdom’s secret science intelligence agency. He was eventually recruited to aid the British with the leftover problems from the emergence of the “ghost world” and has become one of their most skilled, if least secret, agents in the East.

He is incredibly dapper, always well dressed in town, and he prefers a safari suit in the field. He rarely uses guns, preferring one of his custom-made gadget-laden umbrellas. His bowler hat is steel-lined so it can be used as a bludgeoning weapon or shield. He is frequently assigned to missions with two Special Branch officers who have been seconded to MI-13 — Sergeants Thicket and Tweed. Tweed acts as driver for the Bentley 6.5 litre “Green Train” car that MI-13 has issued to the large not-so-secret agent.

Archetype: Spy     Motivation: Knowledge     Nationality: British     Age: 40-45?

Place of Birth: Molad, the Interior World     Date of Birth: June or July, 1889

Ht: 5’11”     Wt: 370 lbs     Hair: Black     Eyes: Brown

ATTRIBUTES: Body: 3   Dexterity: 2   Strength: 4  Charisma: 2   Intelligence: 3   Willpower: 2

Secondary Attributes:  Size: 0   Move: 6   Perception: 5   Initiative: 5   Defense: 5   Stun: 3 Health: 5   Style 5

Resources & Talents: Animal Presence: Use Body for intimidation base, Natural Advantage: Climb (x2 move when climbing), Prehensile Feet, Rank 2: Special Officer, MI-13 (equiv. Lieutenant); Skill Mastery, Academics; Strong: +1 strength at creation

Flaws:  Code of Honor: 1 style pt. when he does the right thing; Curiosity: 1 style pt when it gets him into trouble, Obligation: MI-13, Weird Appearance: -2 social tests with new people.

Languages: Ophiri (native); Ancient Greek, Cantonese, English, Spanish

Skills: Academics 3/6, Athletics 2/ 6, Brawl 2/6, Bureaucracy 2/5, Firearms 1/3, Intimidation 2/5, Investigation 2/5, Larceny 1/3, Linguistics 3/6, Melee 1/5, Science (Biology) 1/4, Stealth 2/4, Survival 3/6

Weaponry: Sword Umbrella   DAM: 2L,  Attack Rating: 7L (Has a small whiskey flask in handle); Shotgun Umbrella (12 gauge): DAM: 4L, Attack Rating: 5L, Rng: 25’, Cap: 1, Rate: 1, Spd: S; Steel-Lined Bowler DAM: 1N, Attack Rating: 6N   Range (thrown): 20’ (Can be used as a shield for Armor 1)

Gadgets: Umbrella with gas spray: Range 10 (Test BODY 3 or fall unconscious for successes x minutes), Umbrella with camera (Can take up to 20 pictures (35mm cartridges), Smith Brothers wristwatch with compass, Belt with secret money pouch (5 gold sovereigns)

Note: I pulled the image off the interwebz at Traditional Games, but there was no citation for the artist who created it. No infringement is intended and as soon as I find a citation I’ll post it.

We finished the mini-campaign we were playing in Tales from the Loop two weeks ago and swung back onto our Hollow Earth Expedition game. The characters were investigating reports of a strange, lost island in the South China Sea near the Philippines, and had been tracking down the crew of a freighter that had escaped in Hong Kong. They found them in the recently closed Peak Hotel — a massive art deco pile from the turn of the century that was closed only a few weeks earlier. In the interim, it was being used by the British government to hold the crew of the Den Wu and question them as to what they had found.

Our characters slipped into the hotel — abandoned and a bit creepy — during a massive thunderstorm. After a bit of sneaking about, they were discovered by the members of British Intelligence, and specifically a group stood up in 1933, after the Hollow Earth Expedition by Admiral Bird and the characters (and with the help of the Ahnenerbe in the airship Deutschland).

MILITARY INTELLIGENCE 13

Known as the “Weird Boys” or the Scientific Intelligence, MI-13 is under the authority of the Home Office. Led by the Chief, MI-13 General Aubrey Milton, and his Deputy Chief, Dr. Trevor Ansom — the man who discovered the White Apes of the Congo, the service hires its people from an eclectic mix of scientists and explorers, soldiers and spies, and mystics. Unlike their other secret services cousins, MI-5 and MI-6, the Weird Boys are not headquartered in London, but in a large country house near Oxford University. Their major stations are Hong Kong, Calcutta, Jerusalem in the Palestinian Mandate, Toronto, and Sydney.

Small teams are sent to investigate sightings of strange creatures possibly related to the “ghost world”, as the emerged Hollow Earth was called, strange events that cannot be explained by current science, and advanced research being conducted by other countries that have recovered some of the technological marvels of the Atlanteans. They have a friendly rivalry with the American Office of Scientific Investigations, but their dealings with the paranormal division of the NKVD have been more violent. Of great concern is the rapid development of repulsion technology by the Ahnenerbe division of the Gestapo, which has been reverse engineering Atlantean flying saucers.

One of the least “secret” of their agents an apeman who had been deposited by the emerging Hollow Earth in Hong Kong — a philosopher named Artistotle who has since adopted the name Aristotle Strange. He has actively immersed himself into the culture of his adoptive Britain.

With a few players down for our usual Hollow Earth Expedition group, we decided to kick the tires on Tales From the Loop. This is a game that’s been getting a bunch of good press — it’s an ” ’80s that never was” game where you play middle school/early high school kids investigating a weird techno-world in Goonies-style adventures.

We used the canned Boulder City, NV setting — it’s a real town, so I hit the interwebz and pulled down as much info on the 1988 BC as I could. We did character creation for three players in the space of a half an hour, using the checklist they had to let the players define the kids’ trouble, pride, and other elements of their personality and family life. We had the trailer park troublemaker who was the leader/defender of the group, his best friend and wannabe musician, their photography geek buddy. They would later be joined by the latchkey kid with a nurse for a mom (“punk rock!”), and the ham radio/phone phreak.

I ran the Our Friends the Machines adventure, more because one of my players is a mover and shaker in the Transformers fandom and I thought he’d appreciate the “Go-Bots of Go-Bots” quality of the adventure. They tracked down the toys that were a distributed intelligence and used the ham radio to good effect to jam their signals and dumb them down. It ran so well, we opted for another adventure.

The system is dead simple: it’s a dice pool of one of your four attributes and the associate skill (if you have it), and maybe a die or two for an iconic item. Get at least one 6 for most things, maybe 2 or more if it’s a really tough task. We’ve been surprised by the number of times we get no successes. Fortunately, there’s a luck and a pride mechanic to let you roll failed dice. You can also “push” the test by taking a condition. The GM doesn’t have to roll, so it’s pretty easy to run the game. The kids can get tired or scared, or injured, but death is off the table, and you get healed up by hanging with your anchor (a person you trust and confide in) or hit the hangout/hideout together. The characters’ is in a bomb shelter in the backyard of the photo geek’s house, complete with bunk beds, a storage room, dumbwaiter to get things into the hideout, and a bar and TV.

Free League is making some great stuff and it is being distributed by the behemoth Modiphius. It’s running $50ish buck for the main book and it’s definitely worth it. Buy the GM screen for the full ’80s gaming experience. I’ve backed the Kickstarter for Things from the Flood the ’90s follow-up/sequel game and should be getting it in a few months. I’ve also picked up Forbidden Lands, their strangely old school-feeling fantasy game using a more complex set of these rules.

So, as you can guess by that last paragraph, I’d say it’s worth the price.

bannerI’ve been hammered this semester with a fair amount of work. The college I work at doubled up my classes (yay, money!), and my teaching certificate program (wait, haven’t you taught for years…yes, but not high school so that’s entirely different! But it’s not…), and the usual collection of life stuff, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busting out words on Gateway to the East, our upcoming guide for pulp-era Istanbul. As with the other Black Campbell books, it’ll be for use with Ubiquity and Fate. I’m estimating a final page count of about 80 pages — on par with our Shanghai book, Queen of the Orient. There will be two adventures included in the sourcebook.

Depending on work schedules next semester, I’m hoping to have this out by the beginning of the coming summer, as end of summer seems to be a popular time for the Kickstarter campaigns of other games to fire up and we got lost in the onslaught this year.

A little something that showed up in a recent game session of Hollow Earth Expedition.

Putilov “Stalin” Stal-2 

xp5a693e0d

This strange aircraft is based on plans stolen from the American project to reverse engineer a Vril flying saucer recovered by the Los Angeles mission to the Hollow Earth. Putilov group created the Stal-2 (Steel-2) — a small flying saucer that uses contra-rotating blades around the circumference to provide lift. The craft is extremely nimble but has problems with arresting fast descents. It takes lots of practice to learn how to fly well, and only a few of these have gotten out into the field. None, so far, have survived testing or use in the wild.

It is armed with a pair of 20mm cannons facing forward that are controlled by the co-pilot/gunner. The craft features a pressurized cabin and can achieve high altitudes.

SIZE: 4     DEF: 6     STR: 10     SPD: 150   CEIL: 21,000     RNG: 300     HAN: +2     CREW: 2     PASS: n/a; Twin 20mm cannons:  Sze: 0   Dam: 8L   Rng: 500’   Cap: 150   Rate; A

Next Page »