8/5/20

[Session Report] Mike's Dungeons - Magical Girl Dungeon Squad #4

Two delves this morning. First with Elise, Felicia, Dorethiel and Cujo. Second with the latter two and a ton of men-at-arms. Quick report.

Expedition #4
• Sneaked past the green dragon, who's now hanging out in the first level.

• Went NE, defeated (with sleep) a trio of chaotic robbers. Got some informations out of them - the Ungod of Spiders, Queen of the Underworld Sandaramat calls the faithful through the Bell of Awakening, somewhere down. Got some loot too!

• Went back home with a few bags of copper and silver pieces.


Expedition #5
• Lots of preparation - eight hirelings/henchmen/men-at-arm. On the way to the dungeon, the party of 10 surprised 9 chaotic brigands. They were friendly and shared info - the Ogres were rallied to their warband of ~100 strong, led by Black Douglas and his mysterious right-hand man. They plan on attacking the Keep.

• Went west to kill the northmen from expedition #1. Found them fighting two bugbears, weak. One berzerking northman was killed, the other, Konrad, was charmed by the elf. He is now under her control, and cannot disobey, although he still has his own mind.

Nearly pulled Chainmail for a battle with the brigands! Maybe I'll prepare a Chainmail type battle for the assault on the keep? The Lord of the Keep gave the PCs a mission though, regarding the brigands' camp. Maybe they'll take the fight to them!

8/2/20

Reading Shadowrun 1st Edition - Introduction

I don't know much about Shadowrun - I read bits and pieces here and there, ran four different short campaigns using a variety of systems because the official rules are insane. Anyways, working on Shadowrun stuff, I decided to read the whole 1E book, not skimming anything, and write down my thoughts and comments, like they used to do on RPG.net back in the days (maybe they still do?)

Dust off your copy and read alongside me so that you can tell me how much I'm wrong/misunderstanding stuff in the comments.

Oh, and of course this is going to be a mess I'm not writing an essay or anything. I'll just be taking notes as I go through the text. Here's the Introduction Chapter, which is some flavor fiction and the basics of the setting, mostly expressed through a summary of the major historical points since the early 90s.

• I love that cover. Anyone with taste knows this cover is great. Moving on.

• Interestingly, Deckers were also called Technomancers back then. It's right in the first introduction pitch that tells you what the game is about (first the setting, then who you play as). Not to be confused with 3E Technomancers, who became 4E Otakus, and then Technomancers again in 5E.

• The three main "classes" are Technomancers, Street Samurai and Mages.

• What's a magesword? One of the characters in the opening story has one.
That sounds cool! I want one. Maybe people had more medieval weaponry in 1E and it just went away as the game evolved. But I'm all about the raw, vintage stuff, so this is my jam.

• Sasquatches play drum and bass in clubs! I thought they were treated as monsters back in 2050! Maybe it's like a variant of Troll and FASA just assumed there were more than the standard versions of each race and just didn't feel the need to specify them all. Maybe you can be a pixie! (EDIT: after checking, turns out they were accepted as a sentient species in 2042!)

• Some Elves talk like they're out of the magical woodlands of Brocéliandre, I swear. "The ice will not concern us, Sweet Lady Tsung. I have the key that will unlock the castle gates. [...]" Then he calls her Lady Fair. I think that's pretty fun. Not sure how it works, culturally, but fun.

• Also Shadowrunners are damned paranoid. There's no such thing as a party. You don't ask questions that you don't need answered and you're constantly bidding and testing each others to keep your street cred.

• Three PCs - one Elf Decker, one Mage or Shaman (I'm betting on Mage) and one Street Samurai. Also, the Elf has no human cultural/ethnicity background in his description, the lady I think is of some asian descent, and the samurai is a native.

• They all have their own bike, which fit their personnalities.

• Damn, "Trog turf" - Orks and Trolls are in ghettos but they're also like, nearly monsters or something? Or is it like, casual racism implied in the writing?

• Oh wow I'm slow. It took me four pages of intro fiction to realize these are the characters on the cover art!

• Astral scanning is spooky on a sixth sense kind of level. Street samurai doesn't feel good when Sally does magic. Also, she's scanning what is basically a USB key! You can jinx a USB key with hexes!

• The setting sounds way more fantasy in its culture and ways of thinking. "as fine as fairy thread" is a descriptor you might use.

• Dozens of Orks swarm the PCs! They're fantasy monsters alright. Implications...

• Trolls are just Orks but bigger. The group of orks had a troll and he's only described as part of that group. These pesky green skins, always trying to take over middle earth and abusing welfare.

• So the first job you're introduced to is as simple as breaking into an ATM machine for some quick cash, and ends with no more money than they started with, but now they also pissed off some Orks and rentacops.

• The basic process for megacorps to become stronger than nations was that they prepared proper armies in third world countries, then "helped" tides of civil disobedience and urban violence explode into near civil wars until the nations had to ask for private security as backup to control the population.

• So in retaliation to Corporate landgrab of federal lands (natural parks and indian reservations), a group of conservationists and indian-rights activists took over a nuclear missile silo, and launched the missile towards the Soviet Union. People didn't know about it at first, but the US president knew and was expecting a nuclear war...and then the missiles just disappeared! This is mysterious and cool. I do not care about the metaplot beyond 1E and even then I'd probably skip the adventures too. I bet there's explanations for this, but as it stands? Very fun. I bet there's a lot of conspiracy theories in 2050 about these missiles. Holy shit and they made concentration camps after that!

• People can interface without a deck, as long as they have interface jacks. It's just very very dangerous.

• What happened to the USSR? Is it still standing in 2050?

8/1/20

[Session Report] Fast-Forward #3 - The Ginseng Job

Ran some Fast-Forward today. Manny and Min's players couldn't make, so we head Mayweather and two newcomers to the Tokyo Bay Area Crew - Alexey Pcholsky and Yop Hyun-Su.

What Happened
• The Crew met Herr Schwarz in a Dorian Gray-themed VR Room and got briefed: Ginseng, a Samsara Industries subsidiary, are hiring the crew. They were to extract a Dr. Hernandez from a Xipe Totec research facility (re-purposed off-shore oil rig). She'd been taken hostage by a crew of ecoterrorists a few hours earlier, and they would have a 20h window of opportunity to grab her and get her to her new corporation before her employees would notice what was going on and send their own strike team. There's also a cop, Lt. Watanabe, who needs rescuing in the refugee flotilla, and can provide additional intel.

• They meet the helicopter pilot who's gonna carry them around on missions - Beard, or "BB". Very eager guy. And decide to go rescue Watanabe, who they can track on satellite link. He's held in the hold of a shady restaurant place.

• To avoid attracting unwanted attention, they'll navigate the flotilla (a sort of floating shantytown in the Kamusi Sacrificed Zone) by motorboat. Some young thugs try to extort some money out of leaving their boat alone, but are outweirded by Alexei.

• At the restaurant, the streetwise Hyun-Su and drug-dealing Mayweather get the barman to let them go in the back, where they meet a creepy eel-faced guy with a combat full prosthetic body and his two goons. They start negotiating, but things go south quick. Quicker even due to wired reflexes, Alexei takes the Eel down and Hyun-Su goes down the hold where he grabs a very injured but still spunky Watanabe. They take the neural chip of the Eel as a "hostage" and get away. At the end, Watanabe throws the chip in the sea and they all run in the refugee crowd.

That's another gang the crew made enemies of.

• Watanabe is thankful and tells them what he knows - the terrorists' numbers, where they come from, and how they recently acquired an amphibious walking tank! Now that's something new to account for. Eventually they thank him and let him loose away from the Sacrificed Zone so he doesn't get stabbed on his way out.

• Party decided to do some shopping - a limpet mine, a pair of frag grenades, a flashbang and some silencers for their guns.

• The plan would be: the chopper goes in for a distraction if the PCs get caught, and they'll go by boat to infiltrate the oil rig in the middle of the night. It went decently enough.



• They approached by boat as planned, took a guard down and took his clothes and armour. They then navigated the base not really sure where to find the scientist. They quickly got found out though, and hid in the lab, where, luckily, the scientist and her assistants were in. Apparently not under any supervision from the "hostage takers".



• At this point, a misunderstanding got cleared up: Dr. Hernandez was here of her own volition, working alongside the terrorists. But the time was for action, and the crew didn't want to hear much of it. They had a job to do and a walking tank was crawling on the roof, trying to get to them.

• So Hyun-Su blew it up with a limpet mine from below. Some more grenades and everyone was running away to the motorboat. Another well placed frag took care of the tank, and a bunch of the ecoterrorists got killed. No civilian casualties; though the scientist was not happy about the situation.

• They got her to a safe house where men in black were waiting, they took her and gave the party their money. Later this week, news of a new breakthrough in pharmaceutical science revealed that the super-rich could know reverse the natural degeneration of their cells, and essentially increase their lifespans tenfolds. All thanks to the work of Ginseng's top scientists.


Some Notes
• The new rules work pretty well I think. Skipping the damage roll was the right call. Since it's 2d6 I can also just ad lib any throw by going "just hit X+", I love it.

• The party went fairly grey/black hat on this one. We were nearly out of time IRL and they were in a hurry IG too, so they didn't really try to listen to how the scientist lady was planning on faking her death and distributing her research data on the global web.

7/28/20

[Session Report] Mike's Dungeons - Magical Girl Dungeon Squad #3

More of the text-based game!

Cujo and Felicia were NPCs for most of this one.

Expedition #2
• Found a dying boar near the dungeon's entrance. The elf soothed its pain while Felicia killed it. Then the party butchered it for meat, only to be interrupted near the end of the process by a young green dragon they fled from.

Expedition #3
• Foiled an ambush by two bandits at the first door. Lots of failed attack rolls led the party to be doused in oil. One of the henchmen threw the torch at one bandit, knocking him out. The other rushed to grab the torch and immolate the whole party... Dorethiel and Cujo throw good daggers, saving the group once again.

• The survivor is interrogated, revealing his name: Jango, and a bit of map for the first level. There's chaotic robbers to the north-east, some "hoppers" nearby and some bags of copper coins in their hideout. They let him go eventually.

• Next, they go back to the centipedes room, and explore a long corridor to the west of that. And they get surprised by two giant spiders (3HD). Noldred is killed on the spot, Elise barely makes it, again. They decide to call it quits for today.

• At the entrance, the green dragon is waiting for them. They hold the door closed, and Elise tries to talk to it - it responds! It wants food, so they leave the bandit corpse and spiders to it and it agrees to let them go. 

7/26/20

[Session Report] Mike's Dungeons - Magical Girl Dungeon Squad #2

Joined by another player today - Cujo the Magic-User.

What Happened?
• While debating how to best use their lights after the first torch went out, the party heard the two blackguards from earlier arriving from the south, and tried to set up an ambush involving oil. The enemy sniffed it out though, and decided to back off without a fight.

• Cujo magically poofed into existence at this point, banter ensued as he knew Elise and Felicia.

• After some introductions, the party goes west, reaches an intersection, and gets charged by pig-faced men. They win the fight, though Elise is on the verge of death with 1 hit point left, and the hireling Noldred runs away. They grab a Key (E) and backtrack to the entrance.

• On the way home, the group is ambushed by ogres! The leader Gardakan calls himself Baron of Brackenwood and demands a toll in gold or flesh. The party convinces him to send three ogres to escort them back into the dungeon and get the corpses of the pig-men. The party also decides to check the room the orcs' came from, finding a chest, which the ogres promptly steal from them.

• Once out, Gardakan lets the party go and taunts them, throwing a bunch of copper from the chest at their feet. He also mentions that the caves hide the Temple of Chaos, with an entrance in the third level.

• Back home, the party enjoys some goat milk and finds Noldred drunk and boasting "his exploits" to the locals.

Some Observations
• OD&D combat without initiative works pretty well and fast with text. It's also brutal, but fair. At low level, the whiff factor of AC isn't really noticeable, and IIRC, it's not that much of a problem in 3LBB since higher level have much better chances to hit even AC 2.

• Wilderness encounters are pretty much a representation of uncaring, cruel nature. There's no level scaling at all (though even that won't save you in the dungeon if you stumble upon a troll or something).

7/22/20

[Session Report] Mike's Dungeons - Magical Girl Dungeon Squad

I woke up early and caught some peeps interested in playing OD&D at 3am (US time), so I pulled out Mike's Dungeons and we played for a little while. It went well, though most of the time was spent setting things up as I'm not used to running text games. Overall, it was a fun experience.

The Save vs TPK Generator gives a LOT of "Child" tag descriptors, so the crew was made up of three sixteen years old, two veterans, one elf medium, plus two henchmen.

Decades ago, the Caves of Chaos were purged by mad men and Quixotic "heroes", helping the Lord of the Keep in the liberation of this patch of the Borderlands from chaos. Lately, things haven't looked so good, and someone found the entrance of the mysterious Cave of the Unknown. Adventurers being needed once again, the Lord made a call to arms.

Child Fighters Elise and Felicia, and Elf Child Crusader Dorethiel hired Mulson (vendetta against goblins) and Noldred (fence), gave them some gear and went on an adventure!

• Scouting the hill hiding the cave (a rocky formation shaped like a beastly skull with an open fanged mouth as the entrance), the party found the rotting corpse of a lone adventurer peppered with bolts.

• Exploring the dungeon, the party found a pair of chaotic warriors with white skulls painted on their black plate armours. Some tense parley, then they left the warriors to their own devices. They did mention a "call" they had heard that led them here, and seemed to be slavers/raiders/cannibals of some sort.

• Further into the dungeon, they found a room full of red glass urns swarming with three giant centipedes, but baited them out of the urns with food so they could find...nothing. Worthless baubbles.

That's pretty much it.

Mike's Dungeons is solid, though like Palace of the Vampire Queen, it relies on the the referee to improvise details and colour. I can work with that.

6/26/20

[Session Report] Fast-Forward #2 - Some are Born to Sweet Delight (pt. 2)

We played the second part of my cyberpunk adventure. Min's player couldn't join us, and followed as an NPC.

Characters
• Emmanuel "Manny" Cruz - Street Doc
• Kholwé "Mayweather" Mbani - Enforcer
• Fish-Faced Min & Big Mo' (NPCs)

What Happened?
• Opening the coffin locker where Allison's stalker was hiding, the party found a fresh corpse - died from sensory overload in simsense (braindance). He had been stalking the target and was jacked in her mind last night.

• Through his coffin's computer monitor, they watched her get picked up by the Swede (white suit, white gloves) and get to the Harasu Skin Massage Parlour. Where she got stabbed with a needle and fell asleep, only to wake up to buzzing noises and intense pain - which killed the stalker through biofeedback.

• They call Big Mo' to warn him that Allison might be dead, and he gets pissed and sad, and is on his way to fuck up whoever did it to her. Turns out he was closer to her than he initially mentioned.

• Arriving at Harusa Skin, the crew decided to be sneaky. They climbed from the back onto the roof, opened a skylight and, after checking that the place was mostly deserted, took the security guys (three yakuza-looking dudes) by surprise by slamming the secroom door open and holding them up. One did try to move and got a hole in the chest (though the doc patched him up and sent Min to bring him to Doc Orwell's clinic so he wouldn't die). They also grabbed the high schooler at the reception before she could flee and brought her into the room.

• Checking the other rooms, they found a hidden hatch leading to an underground lab door, locked with a security card none of the security people had in their pockets (or gave them). Oh, and while Manny was exploring, Mayweather ordered pizza for the hostages, and some udon noodles for the crew. Gotta eat.

• Later on, two masseuses arrived and nearly escaped but were held up and added to the list of hostages. They said Mr. Andersson (the Swede) was on his way with a new "client". He called one of them, and Mayweather had her pretend everything was fine. The ruse worked.

• They ambushed Snorri Andersson, let the escort boy accompanying him get away and started recording everything he said. Explaining that they were the Tokyo Private Police Force, and that he was under arrest for illegal organ-legging and conspiracy. He kept his cool and suggested they might be unhinged, but cooperated. Leading him down the lab, he opened the door and revealed a ripper doc clinic with freezers full of parts, two very calm doctors and Allison Wonderland, missing her lower body and a liver, but still alive and sedated.

• After calming down Big Mo' who threatened to paint the walls with Andersson's brains, they decided to negotiate: they would take Andersson's 5,000 nuyen company credit card to an ATM, use the money to pay what Allison owed to Big Mo' and what they now owed to Doc Orwell for patching up goons that they shot, and keep the rest as payment for the job. Manny also spent hours under more anti-sleep drugs to help the docs operate on Allison to give her new parts so that she could live a somewhat normal life. Big Mo', having realized his fuck up, agreed to pay for her physical therapy. She would later call the crew to thank them somewhat dryly, and explain that Big Mo didn't exactly tell the truth - she left him after he started getting violent, and she had paid the rig with both of their work, when he was still with her. Big Mo' also agreed to call Mr. Schwartz, the fixer he works for, and put it a good word for the very clean job the crew had pulled off.

Threads
• The Picadilly Gang (angry psychotic clown gangbangers, one of them survived to tell the tale)
• Wounded Templar in Recovery at Doc Orwell's (saved by Manny, an enemy of the Templars)
• Snorri Andersson of Odin Security (blackmailed by the Crew, "no hard feelings")

Post-Session Thoughts
• This one went pretty well. Took us about 3h tops with some time spent debriefing and wrapping up the money issues. Slight adjustments to combat rules made it even faster and still very lethal - though I have yet to find a good occasion to try it against the PCs; ambushes are what it's all about, the security guys had no chance - and in retrospect, they should have cooperated there, no reason to risk their lives.