Vegas Game Day – October 13

Savage Worlds Scooby-Doo

Another Vegas Game Day, another afternoon of playing Savage Worlds, but this time it was Scooby-Doo and it was a straight up version of the animated series. Other players showed up over time with a Shaggy and a Velma taking their roles first. I wasn’t feeling too good on my Scooby voice so I was relieved when his role was taken by the other guy at the table and I wound up with Fred, which ended up working out perfectly. Fred had the Disadvantage of being Overconfident and also following red herrings, which felt like a good match for me. Plus I’d be the de facto leader of the team.

Fred standup character card for RPG of Scooby-Doo with Scooby Snacks treats in foreground and Mansions of Madness board game tile

GM Jerrod Gunning Goes the Extra Mile: Character Cards, Edible Bennies, and a Haunted Mansion

The Headless Ghost of Col. Sanders

We were on our way to Shaggy’s family reunion in our Mystery Machine van when a strange figure appeared and I easily avoided hitting him with a good Driving roll. We followed him into a Southern plantation mansion and up the stairs past the painting of Colonel Sanders who was pointing down in the painting. Up in the study though we received the first fright of many: the young man had aged rapidly to an old man in his 80s. He claimed to be the realtor, Mr. Hannigan, and we drove him over to the mansion’s owner’s house. Miss Green had inherited the home, but was now selling it. Just as she was telling us more we heard the squeal of tires; the Mystery Machine had been stolen by Mr. Hanigan! Arriving back at the mansion, we encountered his skeleton in the study! Zoinks!

Savage Worlds GM Jerrod Gunning explains a game concept to Scooby-Doo players at Vegas Game Day.

GM Jerrod Gunning Checking Notes for His Savage Worlds Scooby-Doo Game

Frightened Velma lost her glasses in her own vomit, Fred took a paper clue out of Scooby’s mouth and tore it up, and many investigations were made. There was a large meal for Shaggy and Scooby in the old kitchen which had a surprisingly modern fridge, and we eventually met up with the headless ghost of Col. Sanders who tried to scare us off by lobbing his head at us, which saw Shaggy and Velma fleeing, while Scooby and I stood our ground. Velma later Noticed the track wire for the head and the mini projector for the “ghost”.

The adventure culminated with us building a trap to catch the culprit. From some dice rolls we had 15 possible steps in our trap. We were using Mansions of Madness board game tiles for the layout of the game with paper stand-ups of the characters and the van. These helped when we worked out how Scooby and Shaggy would dress up as Union soldiers to lure the ghost while Velma would project a horde of angry escaped slaves to chase the Confederate ghost down the stairs into our elaborate Rube Goldberg trap. The trap started with ketchup and vomit to make the stairs slippery, multiple tripwires, Hanigan’s skull knocking into the “ghost”, a pressure plate releasing a mousetrap that would in turn release a counterweight driving the lawnmower forward to cut a wire, causing the egg beater to move a fan to stoke a candle to inflate a balloon to raise a board to knock over a lamp and eventually ensnare the ghost in a rug. While this was possibly our GM’s favorite point, I wanted to get to the inevitable unmasking. We could use many of our skills and I burned through four Bennies to get re-rolls on my dice. Gunning had thoughtfully gotten us sweet Keebler Scooby Snacks for the Bennies, but my luck was out and I barely contributed anything. Our Scooby-Doo player, Steve, chowed down on his Scooby Snacks as well and also spent the last third or half of the game playing Shaggy too, supplying great voices for them. He role-played both for the lure and the chase was on. When the villain rolled against the trap though, he rolled snake eyes so we easily captured him.

Mansions of Madness board tiles used for Savage Worlds gam of Scooby-Doo

Board Game Tiles from Mansions of Madness Used as a Game Map for Scooby-Doo

Not surprisingly the villain was Mr. Hannigan who was searching for the buried treasure in the house and had concocted an elaborate scheme to drive away any interlopers. We had also failed to locate the treasure with the clue “Soldiers march in single file” which was referencing one of the columns in front of the house, specifically the one that Col. Sanders’ portrait was pointing to. Within we found stacks of Confederate bills and all had a laugh at Hannigan’s hijinks. True to form, Gunning had even considered including outlying characters Scrappy Doo and Scooby-Dum in the game’s session, but didn’t have the time to include them or guest stars like the Harlem Globe Trotters or the Monkees. He had considered having KISS show up, but wants to save that for a more music-oriented adventure where Scooby and the gang are traveling to a concert.

Pathfinder Society – Silent Tide

Partway through PSS 00-01 I found out that I was going through the original Pathfinder Society adventure that started it all and would be the most familiar adventure to most Pathfinder players. While it makes no efforts to introduce a ton of thematic information as PFS 03-11 In Service to Lore does, Silent Tide proved to be a very strong adventure. It helped that we only had two other PCs, the cleric Logar whom I had adventured with before, the Wizard Maladorian Veld, and the NPC rogue Merisiel. She had joined our party because there were only 3 PCs, but if there had been only 2 PCs we would have been unable to play. I have to hand it to GM, Venture Captain Chris Clay, for the way he managed Merisiel because I can quickly resent an NPC foisted upon the party. Merisiel was helpful without being intrusive. The focus remained on the PCs and while there was no PC to PC role-playing going on, I was able to interact in character more with the NPCs than I have been in past games due to the small party size.

Pulled Along by the Silent Tide

While having only three PCs helped in wading into Silent Tide, the adventure is so solidly written by Michael Kortes that only the most jaded of gamers could dismiss its plot. After some opening narration about sloshing through the rain in one of Absalom’s slums (aptly named the Puddles), we came upon the man we were tasked to find, Yargos Gil, but he was chained to three others and being pushed off a cliff by six or so tattooed would-be toughs. This pissed me off. They fell into the waters below to drown, the last one desperately clinging to the cliff edge, but we had the gang of thugs between us. As we battled the gang, the last captive’s strength ran out and they fell. I was hooked.

Dry erase board with miniatures for Pathfinder Society and gaming supplies at Vegas Game Day

Captives Being Drowned and Rescued in Pathfinder Society – Silent Tide

After some serious ass-kicking we managed to save the captives from their watery grave and the rest of the adventure unfolded across at least four more encounters. Without spoiling too much, one encounter does involve problem and puzzle solving. It seemed better suited for our Wizard and Cleric (and Rogue) to deal with so I chilled out a bit, but when a riddle was revealed, I was riveted and worked on solving it and then went on to help with another of the tasks too.

The penultimate encounter saw us arriving at a temple or cathedral.
Me: Whose temple is it?
GM: Abadar.
Me: Abadar, who’s Abadar? Wait, that’s my god!

I was incensed. These undead Black Eschelon bastards were defiling the temple of Abadar? Not on Asir Al-Nimr’s watch! If the surviving member of the temple clergy, the defenseless, injured acolyte, would have Sensed Motive on me she would have found that I was eyeing her as a potential target for not defending the temple more fervently and with her life. As great as my zeal was on such hallowed ground, the last third of the encounter devolved into an odd quagmire of ranged combat for which Asir Al-Nimr was not even equipped and fortunately before I had to start climbing the huge organ pipes, our GM announced we had defeated the menace.

Gaming mat with picture drawn of Absalom granary for Pathfinder adventure Silent Tide with miniatures

Further into Silent Tide We Battled the Undead in a Granary

Their leader remained as well as our real mission objective, retrieving an important item from him. He was cowering in his kennel with his human guards and a canine companion out front named Marrow Chomper. A mighty slice from my greatsword later and Marrow Chomper was dying on the ground, forget the element of surprise! I cut down his master a few turns later after battering down a door that I kind of initially struggled to open and Silent Tide was over. Boasting isn’t really in Asir Al-Nimr’s character, but I do have to say that I was carving the bad guys to little pieces, pulverizing the undead into dust. It may have helped that they mostly had less than 8 hit points to begin with, but retooling Asir was a big part of it too.

Asir Al-Nimr Born Again

Before the game I asked Chris Clay to look over my character with me because I had amassed 873 gold in my two previous adventures and in Pathfinder Society games you are allowed to reconfigure your character before 2nd level. We ended up dropping Asir’s Shield Focus and instead I took up Power Attack. I switched Weapon Focus from Longsword to the Greatsword and purchased a Master-Worked Greatsword and a Master-Worked Breastplate. My AC dropped one from 19 to 18 and my movement dropped from 6 squares to 4, but now I was hitting with +8 on regular attacks doing 2d6+6 damage with the two-handed Greatsword and Power Attacks at +7 for 2d6+9 damage. As a result, I was putting down enemies left and right throughout Silent Tide (besides rolling fairly well).

A Level 2 Fighter Takes the Field

Having completed three PFS adventures, I leveled up! The Fighter section in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook is literally 2 pages long. Besides getting a bonus to Fear saves, I got a small bump in Fortitude and could select an additional Feat. I snatched up Cleave to be able to possibly hit multiple opponents and gained 6 HP plus my Constitution bonus for a total of 8 more HP. I’m really looking forward to my next Pathfinder Society game.

Vegas Games Day – April 14, 2012

Vegas Game Days

Every second Saturday of each month there is a Las Vegas Game Day here in Las Vegas. Originally organized by Mike Sanchez and furthered by Doug Daulton, the Vegas Game Days were first held at one of the Las Vegas Valley Library District’s libraries, but have moved to the Emergency Arts building, near the Fremont Street Experience. There were about 30-40 gamers in attendance when I visited on April 14, 2012, and all of them were friendly and welcoming. There are 6 tables that are used in two different sessions, the first going from 2:00 to 6:00, with the second going from 7:00 to midnight. GMs and players can sign up for games ahead of time on Warhorn, but it’s also possible to just show up and join an RPG or a board game. This is all for free. Before the gaming, there’s also a meeting for Neoncon volunteers.

Hellas: The Deroshia Connection

Cover for Hellas the role playing game showing futuristic Greek spacefarerI had thumbed through Hellas at a Neoncon several years before and found it to be intriguing, so I signed up for the session when I saw it on Warhorn. Two other players came to the table, as well as a third, one of the game’s developers, Jerry D. Grayson. GM Perry Snow had made 5 pregenerated characters in advance for his adventure, the Deroshia Connection.

Hellas blends science fiction with Greek drama and mythology, or as the game’s creators say, it’s 300 meets Chronicles of Riddick. I took the part of the Spartan Isidorios, a skilled Hoplite of Athenia. Our techie and pilot was a Zintar, the odd purple-headed squid people with mechanical suits, occasionally resembling centaurs. Jerry played the diplomat Gregarios rather undiplomatically and our fourth member was a Nymphas Naiad, a sea nymph.

Purple squidlike Zintar in centaur bio-mech suit

The actual Zintar is the purple squid head. He or she is using a suit.

Our party had served together as Galactic Legionaires and was now investigating the mysterious disappearance of a ship’s crew. We took the ship to its intended destination, quickly passing through Slipspace, Hellas’s version of hyperspace or warp speed. Arriving at the moon of Deroshia the GM introduced one of Hellas’s player-enfranchising mechanics: we were asked to describe the moon.

Someone suggested that its liquid-covered surface was liquid nitrogen, while someone else suggested that all of the buildings were on stilts and that even though the liquid was only several feet deep there were strong tidal waves. There was no one on the moon to greet us as we explored, discovering a plot by the snake-race Goregon rebels to attack the Nymphas and inadvertently releasing a security robot, none too pleased with our presence.

We were asked to describe the security robot. Perry Snow was hilarious as the tiny, tinny-voiced robot that we came up with as he fumed at us in an affected catty voice. We made short work of it and I got a taste for the combat system, which was easy to grasp, but had a few interesting elements. Initiative is rolled, but then each character states his intended action starting with the lowest initiative. Being a bad ass Spartan, I blocked a shot with my shield, and we destroyed the defense robot in two turns and set off to foil the Goregon rebels’ plans, after first filling some fuel tanks with some liquid nitrogen and strategizing.

Coming in for a landing on the planet, our party was hailed by the Air Traffic Controller. I tried to make use of another game mechanic, calling on one of Isidorios’s Disadvantages, referencing Senator Orion as I tried to Intimidate the Controller to let us land. I could add dice to my roll, but now the GM could use the Disadvantage against me (and the rest of the party). The three of us were dropped off on a roof overlooking the square where the Golden Horse statue was. Our Zintar released the liquid nitrogen on board over the giant horse as Senator Orion and Anti-Aircraft Tanks opened fire on the ship from down below. It turned out that there weren’t any Goregons inside the horse, but instead there was a bomb, which blew up! Beseeching Hoseidon, the Poseidon analogue, and god of Starry Navigation, the Zintar avoided death. The Nymphas in the square weren’t so fortunate, including my nemesis Orion.

“I caused Orion to lose face, but you have caused him to lose his head.” I complimented our Zintar comrade after she’d landed and she offered Orion’s head to Hoseidon in tribute to the god’s patronage. As we headed towards some sort of Nymphas council several blocks away, I couldn’t resist telling our Nymphas orphan “If you had parents they would have told you to beware Goregons bearing gifts.” Not knowing your parents in Hellas means that your hero probably doesn’t have much Glory, as was the case with our Nymphas.

RPG character sheet for Hellas showing character's disadvantages

Part of Isidorios’s Character Sheet: His Disadvantages and Ambitions

Some great role-playing and a big battle later saw the game end with a wedding! Gregarios proposed and was soon wed to a Nymphas princess with my character Isidorios stepping in as his best man. While the relationships that Hellas promotes are a very cool and integral feature, I was hoping to make use of some of the game’s other mechanics myself, such as beseeching the gods, cursing them, or doing other heroic acts. In a one-off session, earning Glory or Hero Points, while pleasing, is just not the same as it would be in a campaign. Trying to live up to your hero’s Destiny or avoiding his Fate, while at the same time acquiring Glory, a wife, or heroic children of one’s own, are things that really appeal to me.

Hellas has just successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a reprint of the main rulebook. I will be interviewing designer Jerry D. Grayson in the future.

Pathfinder Society: In Service to Lore (First Steps – Part 1)

With some trepidation I went to my first Pathfinder Society game. Published by Paizo, Pathfinder is based on the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons using the Open Gaming License and is set in the world of Golarion. Having looked over the Warhorn signups I decided to create a Fighter to give the party some muscle, naming him Asir Al-Nimr. I was unsure about how much RP there would actually be in this public organized play setting, but knew I wanted a character with an Egyptian feel to him, searching for relics to help rebuild the Osirion Empire. I found out later from my a friend in Oman that Asir Al-Nimr could mean “Juice of the Tiger” in Arabic. I didn’t quite channel Charlie Sheen during the adventure, but I did try to RP once I got my bearings.

Many of the other players were preparing their Level 1 characters when I arrived as well. 3 PCs had died in the Pathfinder Society game the previous session which alarmed me a bit. Eventually the game began. There were no party introductions, but instead directions from our Pathfinder Society boss. We were given 4 tasks to accomplish and sent on our way. Two hours into the adventure, I thought that we’d be finishing soon and was having a so-so time. We’d accomplished 3 of the 4 tasks, but had only had one fight against 3 Dire Rats, which I sadly played no part in dispatching. I did try to flirt and smooth talk Aunty Baldwin, the alcoholic caretaker of an orphanage, but she wasn’t having any Asir Al-Nimr on account of my Filth Fever (and perhaps her morals).

By the end of the evening though, I’d had Filth Fever, my skin had turned blue, and I’d been poisoned. I’d been reduced to 3 HP and our party had struggled for its existence. I’d also had a lot of fun in the interim. I found myself aching to get into combat and hit some stuff with my long sword. I was very surprised by the amount of problem solving that went on throughout our session and the absence of combats. However the last combat more than made up for it as we discovered what a killer Chromatic Spray can be. It dropped 4 of us, leaving our cleric and a ranger to take on the remaining villains on their own, round after round. Despite not having a turn, I was on the edge of my seat to see whether we would survive or not. We did.

Permanent character deaths being so possible definitely adds more to combats. Grinding for gold or the tabletop equivalent is also impossible. That adds a lot of weight to the gold awarded at the end of the game. I am looking forward to carefully spending the 447 gold that we each got, as well as to the next adventure in Golarion.

Hellas RPG images copyright Khepera Publishing, used with permission.