January 30, 2013

Tales from the Edge of the Empire: Escape from Mos Shutta, Part 1

Hooray for last minute gaming plan changes!

Originally, last night I and my Saturday Night gaming buddies were slated to finish out what promised to be a high-stakes Dresden Files RPG scenario worthy of the calamity and property damage of the man himself. Sadly, between Friday night and Saturday morning, the GM had come down with a head cold and barely had a voice with which to speak due to illness as well as her day-job. So, while charades and pantomime can be a fun diversion, they're no way to run an RPG, especially for what is likely to be the capstone of the on-again, off-again campaign.  I wonder if there'll be a need for a zombie T-rex to once again tread the Chicago streets?  Hoping not, but it'd still be cool as hell.

So, rather than call the whole thing off, we decided to accelerate the schedule for when I'd run this same group through the "Escape from Mos Shutta" adventure that came with the Fantasy Flight Games' Edge of the Empire Beginner Box set.  I'd run this adventure before for my Wednesday Night crew, who used the pre-gens as this was their first experience with Edge of the Empire and they wanted to get into the action ASAP.

Well, my Saturday group had already taken EotE for a test-spin when I ran a modified version of "Rescue at Ord Mantell" for them back around early November or so.  So not being EotE virgins, they all agreed that they wanted to build their own characters using the Beta rules, with a couple pointing out that in their many years of gaming (and I do mean many), official pre-gens often had a number of problems, chief amongst those problems being said pre-gens after often sub-par.  We did have one neophyte, who'd missed the prior EotE test-spin due to work-related issues (namely, show up to work or show up on the unemployment line the next business day), but the other four players all had a level of comfort with EotE's dice pool mechanic and how different combat was from Saga Edition.
A little over an hour later, we had five freshly minted player characters, made using the Beta rules along with the Final Week Update that FFG provided at the closing of the EotE beta testing period.  The neophyte opted for a fairly simple build, that of a Wookiee Hired Gun/Marauder who wound up with the name Dewryyhn courtesy of the random Wookiee name tables in the back of WotC's Galactic Campaign Guide for the RCR (main, are those charts handy to have in situations like this), though he was quickly saddled with the rather emasculating nickname of Dewie.  The rest of the line-up was as follows:

- Neesa Eyan, a (busty & sultry voiced) female Twi'lek Explorer/Trader
- Raith Bardo, a dark-skinned male Human Smuggler/Pilot
- Shodu Farr, a male Rodian Bounty Hunter/Survivalist
- R2-V05 aka Vos, a masculine programmed droid Technician/Mechanic

I'm gonna step down for a moment to discuss Vos.  That player, who'd had quite a bit of fun playing an R6 astromech in my long-defunct SWSE Alternate Universe campaign, had asked if he could play an astromech in this game.  Now the Beta rules for EotE do present droids as a PC option, but the intent is for PCs to be playing 4th degree combat-capable droids, such as IG-88 or HK-47.  However, it was easy enough to tweak things to let Vos be a 2nd degree droid and Silhouette 0 without any other mechanical changes being required; the player pointed out that being smaller was both a boon and hindrance, as he'd be easier to toss around but only be a tougher target for vehicle weapons or really big creatures like wampas and banthas.  And I must say, compared to how droids started out in the EotE beta, they can be some pretty kick-ass characters, so long as you keep to the notion of "droid PC as a specialist" rather than "droid PC as a generalist", but then much the same is true for most of the available PC races.  Being this was the first time seeing a Droid PC in actual play, I was pretty impressed with just how versatile this "species" could be, and the 4th Degree aspect can easily be dropped, as was done with Vos, whose player adhered to the "can't deliberately injure organics" restriction that most droids have.

I also hewed pretty darn close to the rules as provided in the Beta and Final Week Updates (no fan-made talents or species), with one exception that was both minor and probably far-reaching in terms of a running campaign.  I doubled the listed starting credits for my PCs, providing them with 1000 credits instead of the paltry 500 credits the rules state.  What I found is that only three of the five PCs took extra Obligation, with Shodu opting for an extra 1K credits so that he could have both a blaster carbine and padded armor while Dewie and Raith opted for 5 extra starting experience to buy an extra talent that they really wanted.  I had a brief discussion with Brian Casey aka Fiddleback on Twitter about this, and this group had previously discussed the low starting credit amounts and that FFG's intent was to force players into buying Obligation.  Lewin Suul also piped in on that conversation by saying that his group had very little interest in EotE because the PCs started out so poor.  But as Sterling Hershey mentioned on Episode 3: The Obligameter of the revised Order 66 podcast, the game doesn't suddenly break if you provide the PCs with some extra starting gear to fit their concepts.  And given that all five of my PCs had done just that, buying gear that generally fit with their concepts, handing out an extra 500 credits will probably be my default house rule for EotE for the foreseeable future, presuming the final version doesn't up the default credit limit already.
So, with PCs at the ready, I compiled their respective Obligations and rolled to see which of them would come up, and someone's did, appropriately enough Raith’s Debt, though I didn’t roll doubles.  The other PCs weren’t overly thrilled at having to lower their Strain Thresholds by one, but I did state that each of their Obligations were tied to Teemo in some way, and in this instance the Strain Threshold penalty was due to their issues with Teemo coming to a head, with Raith getting the worst of it due to having lost his prior ship and a valuable load of exotics.   I handed out a few copies of the combat cheat sheets created by sumqui, played the opening crawl that was created by L0thar (both gents being posters over at FFG's EotE forums), appropriate minis were selected for the PCs (I love having the full run of WotC's SW minis, but they can be a pain to lug around), the Destiny Pool established, and so the adventure got underway...

The adventure starts with the PCs each scrambling into a seedy cantina in the equally seedy small town of Mos Shutta on Tatooine, looking to escape not only the oppressive heat of the midday suns but also a bunch of Gamorrean goons sent by Teemo the Hutt, who is none too pleased with any of the heroes for a number of reasons at the moment.  They need to do something to try and make themselves as inconspicuous as possible, and I open the floor for what skills they want to use, setting the Difficulty at Easy (1 Difficulty/purple die) as per the adventure.

Not missing a beat, Neesa spots a couple of older men at a table playing Pazaak, and immediately struts over and asks to be dealt in a sultry voice while dropping 50 credits on the table, and easily aces her Charm check as she takes up a seat while putting the goods on display.
Raith and Vos (who've worked together in the past, so at least one person can speak Binary) decide to just pull up to the bar and pretend that nothing's wrong, requiring a Cool check. The droid fails with 1 Threat, suffering a point of Strain, but Raith rolls the first Triumph of the night, and is soon sipping some fine Corellian whiskey like he's been there all day.

Shodu opts to grab a table close the stage where a scantily clad Twi'lek woman is dancing, but positioned so that he can see the door and counting on the change in lighting forcing any of his pursuers to have to pause to let their eyes adjust, giving him a few critical seconds to ready his carbine.  I ask for a Stealth roll, as while he's in the open so to speak, he's trying to be sneaky about it, and he rolls a lone success with two Advantage, which he uses for a Boost/blue die to be set aside for his next roll, figuring it'll either be for initiative or shooting.

Dewie instead wanted to hide in the rafters, and with his mighty Wookiee strength and climbing skill does so with amazing grace for such a large, brawny creature.

A few minutes later, the Gamorreans that were pursuing them (one for each PC) stumble in and look around, not seeing anything that strikes them as amiss... until one of them lays eyes on Vos.  Squealing in a mix of anger and delight, the thugs begin making their way towards the droid... which for Shodu is his cue to open fire.  He does so at Short Range, does rolls well enough to kill one of the Gamorreans and give himself a boost die on his next roll, which turns out to be Vigilance as all hell begins to break loose.

The PCs all end up going first, and the Gamorreans are badly trounced by the PCs, with notable moments being Dewie taking  down a goon with a Clothesline From Hell (Brawl attack that rolled a record eight successes, though enough Threat to give him a s4Setback/black die on his next action) and Neesa quickly scrambling to grab as many of the credits from the Pazaak game as she could when the table got knocked over due to a Gamorrean whiffing horribly in an attempt to beat down the Wookiee.  In keeping with being a 2nd Degree droid, Vos used the Stun setting on his built-in light blaster, only getting to attack once but setting up a kill shot for Raith (boost die), but the little astromech simply isn't built for ranged combat. This opening combat of the adventure only took two rounds, with Shodu and Dewie being the stars of the show even without Dewie using his vibro-ax, and none of the PCs were badly injured; Dewie took the only damage at a measly 2 Wounds out of 20.

Realizing they need to get sparse, the PCs decide to shakedown the (rightfully) alarmed bartender, though Neesa once again proves the virtue of kind words over harsh language as she easily charms the barkeep into answering their questions.  The adventure itself doesn't really provide the means to direct the PCs to the next encounter, but I ad-libbed and had the barkeep provide the info dump.  Namely, that last night an irate Trandoshan hunter named Trex had been in, loudly complaining about the price the junk shop owner Vorn was asking for a replacement hypermatter reactor ignitor (HMRI), to say nothing of the installation costs, to get his ship, the Krayt Fang, up and flying again, to say nothing of Teemo not being able to deliver on the astromech droid (Vos as it so happens) that the hunter was promised in exchange for returning a group of escaped labor slaves to the slagworks, a series of mines that provides a portion of the Hutt's fiscal leverage on Tatooine.  Seeing a chance to learn more, Vos plugs into the handily available public access terminal in the cantina (bought for the low cost of a single Light Side Destiny Point) and sets about using his Computers skill to see what he can find out about Trex, the Krayt Fang, and what sort of buzz Teemo's put on the street about them.  They learn that Trex has been rather lax in paying his docking fees, and the ship has been locked down by spaceport control and is secured at Docking Bay Aurek.  The docking fees are pretty high, being far more credits than all of the PCs have put together.  It's at this point the idea of working as a group, at least long enough to get off Tatooine and Teemo's slimy reach, is broached, and in true PC fashion, they all agree to work together for at least that long, though Neesa does mention something about incorporating as a free trader outfit, causing Shodu to roll his eyes.  In a moment that was both amusing and a nice tip of the hat to A New Hope, Raith used the large credit coin he'd scooped up from the floor and tosses it to the barkeep as the group leaves, saying "Sorry 'bout the mess," in a rather jovial tone, leaving the barkeep with five dead Gamorreans to dispose of, a Twi'lek dancing girl that's scared out of her mind and refusing to come out from the backstage area, and two old gamblers grousing about how their credits were stolen by the other Twi'lek tramp.

With a bit of caution and stealth, the group manages to make it to Vorn's junk shop, figuring it's the closest and they can't really get anywhere without that HRMI as the Krayt Fang is the only ship docked at Mos Shutta and Teemo's got guards at the few exits to the town.  Vorn proves to be an irascible older Human, even going so far as to berate and kick a beat-up old R5 unit before sending it back outside to finish some task.  Vos opts to have a chat with his cousin while the rest of the PCs set about getting the HMRI from Vorn.  However, Vorn is pretty adamant about keeping the part set aside for Trex, and doesn't buy Raith's story about them being there to pick up the part for Trex, particularly without a payment being made.  Dewie considers showing the junk dealer why it's a bad idea to upset a Wookiee, but he's been a resident of these parts (fighting in Teemo's gladiator pits) long enough to know that starting a ruckus here would be bad, and settles for playing the quiet heavy.  Shodu opts to stay outside and keep watch in case more Teemo-employed trouble shows up.  Neesa steps up, and while she's soon got Vorn eating out of her hand, she's still a bit creeped out by just how lecherous this unkempt Human is, suffering Strain in the process.

Meanwhile, Vos strikes up a conversation with the old agromech, R5-K3, whose a surly old droid.  Through the power of roleplaying, Vos convinces K3 to cause a distraction, enabling Vos to grab the needed part, as K3 hates his owner and Vos really wants to help Raith and his new friends.

Neesa manages to swing the conversation around to maybe buying the HRMI from Vorn by offering a better price than Trex, hiding the fact that she's not in possession of a ship of her own at the moment. Even with all her sweet-talking, she can't get him to go lower than 600 credits (which is what Trex would be paying), which is a bit steep for her tastes, and she's very hesitant to suggest an exchange of favors as part of the deal, given where Vorn's gaze seems to be lingering.  Just as she's about to give up and ask the other PCs to help cover the costs, the R5 droid rolls in, with Vos not far behind.  Raith then strikes upon an idea, and bluffs Vorn into showing them the part so that they can verify that it's in good working order and he's not trying to cheat them.  Vorn's a bit incensed, but agrees and reveals where the part is, and what it looks like.  Seeing an opportunity, Neesa convinces the junk dealer to let their astromech examine the part, which he grudgingly agrees to with an added complaint that he can't entirely trust his agromech's scanners half the time anyway.  VOS good-naturedly confirms that this is indeed the right part and is in fine working order, but before Vorn can try to up the price given the "fine quality of the merchandise as assessed by their own droid," R5 causes the necessary disturbance, bringing a whole rack of delicate and valuable parts crashing down.  This sets Vorn off, and he gets so angry that he forgets about the HMRI and is hell-bent on turning the R5 into scrap metal.  With a shared grins amidst the players, the group high-tails it out, getting the needed part without paying a single credit, leading Raith to quip that it's a steal of a deal, earning a collective round of groans for that one.

With the HRMI in hand, the group now decides to tackle getting the Krayt Fang out of lockdown.  It's now late in the afternoon, and those residents of Mos Shutta that are not indentured to Teemo and make an honest living are starting to filter out into the streets.  The increased crowds mean more bodies for the heroes to try and lose themselves amidst, but it also means that Teemo's got more eyes on the street to look for them.  Where in Saga Edition I might have called for a prolonged skill challenge, in EotE I simply called for a group Stealth test against an Average difficulty, but with one setback die.  They all roll, only instead of calculating each PC's successes individually, I tally the group totals, tracking the amount of successes, failures, advantages, and threats generated on each roll.  How well they did here would determine whether they were ambushed or not for an upcoming encounter.  Seeing as how nobody was trained in Stealth, it was going to be straight ability score rolls, though Shodu did have a talent that give him a boost die on Stealth checks, and both he and Raith spent Destiny Points to upgrade their checks in the hopes of generating more successes, especially given Dewie's abysmal roll (three failures and 1 advantage), which proved beneficial as the group squeaked by with one success but also three threat.  Yes, I did give the players a maliciously wicked grin.

They reach spaceport control without (apparent) incident, and are coldly greeted by a pair of security droids, both of which look combat capable. Against common logic, the group decides to split up, with Raith, Nessa, and Shodu trying to get in through the front door while Vos and Dewie opt to look for another way, such as a side door or something.  I should probably mention that Vos only speaks Binary, and only Raith can really understand the little astromech.

Raith is ready to try and bluff his way past, but Nessa tells the smuggler to follow her lead, informing the droids they are there on behalf the Teemo to settle the overdue docking fees that Trex has racked up.  I figure this is a bit of stretch, especially given how some of that threat from the group Stealth roll was applied, and apply a setback dice.  Lucky for them, Nessa has a convincing demeanor, and with Raith providing an assist to grant the Twi'lek a boost die on her roll, she easily bluffs the droids and smooth talks her way past them without triggering their suspicion protocols.

Meanwhile, Vos and Dewie, being unaware of their allies' success, are poking around the back, and Vos notices a side door.  The door is locked, but Vos has little trouble disabling the lock.  Before it can whistle to the Wookiee that they've got their way in, a human wearing rugged-looking armor (I used a Journeyman Hunter, dropping the distruputor and swapping the laminate armor for padded armor) rounds the corner and spots the pair.  Exclaiming that "you're two of those people that Teemo's looking for!," the human draws his heavy blaster pistol (his showing up was the remaining two points of threat).  Vigilance is rolled as neither side was expecting a fight, and the human hunter winds up going first, and scores a lucky critical hit on the Wookiee, dealing only a few points of damage but leaving the mighty warrior slightly dazed (setback die on all skill checks for the rest of the encounter).  Needless to say, the Wookiee is pissed, enough that he unslings his vibro-ax and with teeth bared, hews into the hapless bounty hunter, dealing a critical hit in return, leaving the poor schlub blinded and barely alive.  Vos starts chirping that they need to go, and darts inside the door, but Dewie wants blood.  The hunter tries to scramble away, pretty much out of the fight, but Dewie mercilessly strides up and stomps the poor hunter's head into the dirt.  If there were a method of tracking dark side in this games, Dewie would have triggered it for his ruthless execution of the near-helpless hunter.  Satisfied, he turns around and storms through the side door to spaceport control.

Inside, the woman in charge, Overseer Brynn has just welcomed an Imperial shuttle to Mos Shutta, and she is proving far less susceptible to Neesa's wiles; the human woman apparently has a deep-seated disgust for Teemo.  Shodu picks up that the overseer has her hand near a panel that looks suspiciously like an alarm button, and quietly tells the others that they'd best play it safe and not force a fight, especially as there are two more droids inside and there is now an Imperial presence on the planet.  Raith quickly and fairly quietly mentions that with Docking Bay Aurek being taken by the Krayt Fang, that leaves Docking Bay Besh, which is a lot closer to spaceport control.  Neesa drops some her bluster and tries again to convince Brynn that they are there to arrange for payment of Trex's late fees, or at least some portion of them up front.  While Neesa does net a single success, she also generates the only Despair for the night.  At that point, Vos wheels in, with Dewie stomping in right behind the droid, vibro-ax still in hand and radiating very clearly that the Wookiee is pissed.  Brynn screams in alarm and the two security droids immediately spring into action.  With Raith snarking that "this is why we can't have nice things!", once again Vigilance is rolled to determine initiative.  It's gonna be tense, as there's 1 PC action, then an NPC gets to go, and if Brynn hits that alarm...

Knowing he's got to make that first shot count, Shodu quickly unslings his rifle, sets the weapon to stun, and fires on Brynn.  The dice gods smile, as he's able to knock her unconscious with a single shot.  This however makes him the primary target of the security droids, who open fire on the Rodian hunter and leave him with a few new patches of charred flesh for his trouble (he was quite glad to have bought padded armor instead of settling for heavy clothing).  With the jig being up, Raith draws his blaster and fires on one droid while Dewie barrels into the other, pushing hapless support staff out of his way in his eagerness to destroy the other droid.  But the droid proves a sturdier foe than anticipated, and it takes a shot from Neesa's blaster to drop the Wookiee's opponent.  Knowing that he's out of his element here, Vos quickly wheels over to the main control terminal and plugs in, quickly seeing to slice the computers and unlock the docking clamps.  The adventure lists this as an Average difficulty check, but an alarm's been sounded so I bump it up to Hard and spend a Destiny Point to upgrade the difficulty.  But Vos takes it in stride, and easily slices the mainframe to unlock the clamps, using his Triumph to insert a bit of code to prevent anyone from locking down the ship for the next twenty-four hours and the advantage to grant Raith and Shodu a boost die on their next actions.  Raith finishes off the droid he'd shot at before, and as the two security droids from outside enter, Shodu turns and blows the head off one of them after switching his rifle back to its lethal setting and drawing a bead on its optic visor.  Technically Shodu acted out of turn, as the droids' turns hadn't finished yet, but he was willing to spend a Destiny Point for it, so I let it happen (the party had entirely too many Light Side Destiny Points at that point, so anything to get the PCs to spend them).  The remaining droid took quick stock of threats detected, and wound up taking a shot at Raith, leaving Nessa and Vos as the only two PCs that had avoided taking damage so far.  Dewie charges at the last droid standing and buries his vibro-ax into its torso, ripping it asunder with a critical hit.

So, with the droids defeated and the Krayt Fang removed from lockdown, the PCs figured it'd just be a quick jaunt over to Docking Bay Aurek, install the HMRI, and take off.  Right... (said in the voice of Bill Cosby during his old Noah skit).  No sooner than the PCs take five steps, they spot a two groups of stormtroopers, one from either end of the road.  Turns out Teemo has some Imperial connections, as a member of the closer of the two groups of stormtroopers points at the group and loudly says, "There they are, get them!"  I think Raith said it best with a simple "Well... poodoo."  And then we broke for dinner.  Yeah, the players railed at that one, but our order of Chinese had just shown up (complete with an order of Kung Pao chicken), and I was hungry.

And that’s where I’ll end this particular post, which as wound up a lot longer than I expected.  I’ll wrap up the adventure, and provide some insight as to various on-the-fly tweaks I made to the adventure, both what most of them where (though I’m sure a few have been spotted already) and why I made them.

You can find L0thar’s opening crawl for Escape from Mos Shutta in the first post of this thread over at the Fantasy Flight Games’ EotE Beginner Box forum:

January 21, 2013

And lo, there was a flurry of writing...

Not too much to say, other than it can be pretty amazing how much writing one can get done if one simply sets aside the time to do so and sticks to doing said writing.  Also amazing how much pizza one person can eat while doing that writing; it's been many a year since I polished off a 12-cut pie in the course of a single day all by my lonesome.

I'd decided a few days ago, after realizing that I had nothing prep'd for a weekly Heroes on Demand entry for the Gaming Security Agency.  Quite a shock, as I'd gotten used to having a few buffer articles just in case I hit a dry spell.  After a coin toss, taking a break to go watch a move, and then a brief scramble to get an article together, I decided it was well past time to correct that.

But I also figured that if I was going to spend a day doing nothing but writing articles, why limit myself to just character builds?  Per a Twitter conversation with Brian Casey, aka Agent 00 on the GSA or more commonly known as Fiddleback on Twitter and d20 Radio forums and former host of the Game On! podcast, it came up that something he'd like to see is vehicle and equipment articles.  They didn't have to be for Star Wars, but seeing as how I'm such a Star Wars junkie, that's what I ended up going with.  I've got a handful of vehicles written up for FFG's Star Wars: Edge of the Empire game (primarily the Beta, but I don't think there's going to be any huge changes between the Beta version and the final product when it comes out in a few months).  I'm sure there are plenty of other players and GMs that have compiled homebrewed stats for various creatures, rides, and gear that have never seen print in an official supplement, and there's probably a lot of other gamers that might benefit from your creativity.

For the Heroes on Demand series, while I've been the primary contributor to it (seems fitting, since it was my brainchild to being with), there's been a few other folks that have made some fine contributions.  I don't know how many of my fellow Agents at the GSA will read this, but you guys are more than welcome to make your own contributions, and they emphatically don't have to be for Star Wars.  Ben Erickson aka Agent 66 aka Cyril did an entry for Pathfinder, and I've done entries for Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing 2nd edition, Cubicle 7's One Ring, Evil Hat's Dresden Files RPG, and AEG's Legend of the Five Rings.  Frankly, there's been a real dearth of D&D builds, and though I'm pretty much out of D&D at the moment, I know there's folks that are still actively playing many versions of D&D, from 1st Edition to 4th Edition, so there's room for GSA Agents to contribute their own Heroes on Demand articles for D&D characters, regardless of where you fall in the D&D Edition War.

And I know there are plenty of older RPGs that are still being played even though the companies that produced them have either dropped the line or simply gone out of business, and what better way to encourage folks to check out the games you've loved for so long than to do a review on it?  I myself did just that, taking a look at what is on my gaming shelf as opposed to being boxed up in my storage closet, and why it's sitting on my gaming shelf.  While only Dresden Files has so far really hit the "you really gotta play this game!" button for me, games like Green Ronin's Dragon Age and Wildfire Studios' CthulhuTech are on my shelf alongside such notables as Star Wars (various editions) and Deadlands for a reason.

Also, as I mentioned to a couple of friends via Twitter, contributions don't have to just be reviews of active/hot RPGs or character builds.  The GSA has some great articles on campaign advice and fleshing out character backstory, as well as a very informative look into how Edge of the Empire's dice pool system came into being by none other than Jay Little, the man responsible for said system; talking about getting your dirt straight from the horse's moutth, you can't do much better than that.  Dave Villegas aka Agent 42 aka GM Dave has started up a designer blog about Hauler, a new card game that Gamer Nation Studios as a follow-up to their very enjoyable Edition Wars card game.

Ben and his ever-so-charming wife Nateal had a Build-Off Competition series of articles going, noting their respective efforts in designing their own campaign.  It was really neat to see their respective thought processes, and while I myself am not currently working on any sort of campaign, I'm sure there are other people who are.  One thing that can always be useful to new GMs is advice and examples by old-hat GMs on how to go about building a campaign or setting of their own.  We even have at least one professionally published author amongst the GSA Agents who could probably offer some insight into creating your own setting and telling stories within that setting.

So I guess maybe this is my attempt at a call to arms, both to my fellow GSA Agents that are already signed-up and to those that have yet to jump on board.  If you're interested in providing resources to your fellow gamers, be they board gamers, table-top gamers, or card gamers, the GSA is on the lookout and in need of submissions.  The submission guidelines are pretty straight-forward; keep it fun, keep it informative, keep it honest and fair (while my review of the EotE Beginner Box was overall very positive, there were a couple of minor quibbles I had), and pictures are nice as are links to the companies involved in the game you're talking about, though in a number of cases Brian has proven willing and able to do the picture hunting.

The GSA has been in existence for six months, and while we've covered a pretty impressive amount of ground in that time, there's the feeling that we could cover so much more.

Okay, really didn't mean for this to turn into a long-winded soap box speech.  Sorry 'bout that.

Oh, and some semi-obligatory links if you are interested in signing up to be a GSA Agent:

GSA Article Submission Guidelines

GSA Writers Wanted!

Honestly, when the GSA first started, I wasn't sure how much of a commitment I'd be able to make, or for how long.  So I was quite surprised to learn that in the course of six months, I've written almost a full fifth of the site's articles... not bad for a part-time gig.

January 11, 2013

Two posts in the same month? Madness!

Nope, not Sparta.  At least not the last time I checked.

Hopefully, if you've been following along with this little blog of mine, you've also been keeping tabs on the Gaming Security Agency, devoted to whatever aspects of gaming the rather broad stable of authors feel like gabbing about.

If so, then I hope you've been enjoying the Heroes on Demand series, something I started on a bit of a lark way back in the early days of the GSA, and has apparently become one of the sites' running features.  Truthfully, I was really hoping other people would be contributing ready-to-play PCs from a variety of different systems, as there's not really any way I can cover ever RPG out there, either because I don't have the books (most versions of D&D) or simply don't have the interest (Pathfinder and White Wolf's offerings)

Lately though, I've taken to adapting characters that have been seeing actual play in the games I'm in.  The process actually started off with Estevan Ramirez do Soldano del Castillo, a Castillian duelist, which was released along with my review of the long-defunct 7th Seas RPG on "Talk Like A Pirate" Day appropriately enough.  I had meant to also have an actual pirate character, but I got a bit too wrapped in trying to find a good image for Estevan to get said pirate built.

The next Hero on Demand that had seen actual play was my proto-Ranger Branden, a Dalelands Warden that was published quite appropriately on December 14th, the day that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hit theaters.  Depending on responses from the rest of my Saturday play group, I may be using their characters as Heroes on Demand submissions, particularly the two Hobbit PCs as they were quite entertaining.

A couple weeks later, I do the same with bringing a couple characters from the Dresden Files psuedo-campaign I'm in, starting off with a fellow gamer's PC, one Jessie Armstrong, a modern day Amazon that's been described at the table as being "Karrin Murphy with an extra foot of height and super-powers," particularly after she almost literally turned a ghoul into a pretzel (in the first session no less!), to the point we debated having her change one of her aspects to "Cute Bruiser."

And this week, I keep up the from-table-to-article parade, this time putting my own PC up for grabs.  To be honest, Danny Copperfield has been a lot of fun to play, not only for the fact of being a badass wizard (not quite up to Harry Dresden levels of badassery, but then who is?) but just that I can be rewarded in-game for being an irreverent smart-ass, something I tend to do with most of my characters anyway.  To say nothing of the sheer versatility of the magic system that Evil Hat put together for this RPG... honestly, Danny is the first spellcaster that I've truly enjoyed playing, as the way magic works in the Dresden Files RPG is so incredibly open and freeform that the only real limit on what a spellcaster can do in this game is your imagination.  Hell, one of the campaign's comedy gold moments was Danny creating an impromptu spell to send him hurtling through the air away from Mayantec-wannabe villains (after snagging the special knife they needed to complete their crazy end-of-Western-civilization-as-we-know-it ritual), complete with the classic Goofy Holler as he went zipping away to a not-quite-so-soft-landing after soaring several blocks through open air.  Or taking a page from Gandalf the Grey's playbook and making himself seem a hell of a lot more impressive than his usual twentysomething self would be to a group of mobsters?  Then there's turning a Red Court Vampire into charbroiled gibbles and bits with a super-concentrated blast of eldtrich flame after being openly mocked by said RCV; his buddies (all thralls) were a lot less gung-ho after their ring leader went ka-blooey.  Not as hilariously cool as impaling a vampire with a guided frozen turkey missile, but having the GM (female, if it matters) describing the reactions of the thralls at being spattered with steaming bits of their ex-master still brings a collective grin to the group's face.

So for future Heroes on Demand articles?  Not sure yet, though I've got a couple more in the pipeline, including a White Court Vampire who doubles as a rock star and a chivalrous young knight, just to name a couple.  I will say that this series has been quite entertaining, as it forces me to come up with a variety of different concepts as well as a chance to explore how those concepts might come together into the form of a playable character.  I've not yet heard of any of these characters have actually been used in peoples' games, which would be cool in and of itself, but one can always hope.

January 4, 2013

My Big List of Star Wars Saga Edition NPCs, now on GoogleDocs

Not much of an update, as nothing super-exciting been going on of late.

Saw the Hobbit on opening weekend, and enjoyed it quite a lot.  Which given how much I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, that was pretty much a given.

Like the title says, I've finally gotten off my duff and put my big ol' listing of NPCs for the Star Wars Saga Edition RPG up on GoogleDocs.  It can be downloaded here:


In Star Wars news though, I've been playing a fair amount of FFG's new Edge of the Empire system, having run the Beginner Box adventure for my Wednesday gaming group, who enjoyed it quite a bit.  Enough so that they're eager to play the follow-up adventure Long Arm of the Hutt, available as a free download off of FFG's website.

Recently finished the audiobook version of Jim Butcher's Cold Days, the latest installment of his Dresden File series.  As seems to be the case for poor Harry Dresden, victory in the end was bittersweet at best, but it was an enjoyable story, and I very much enjoyed having James Marsters back doing the narration.  Nothing against John Glover and his narration of Ghost Story, but James has these different characters down pat, giving each character their own voice that reflects their mannerisms and mindsets perfectly.

Not much else to say, other than I've been plugging away at various articles for the GSA (Gaming Security Agency) website, getting the first of my three Deadlands-based reviews up, this one for Deadlands: Reloaded, with Hell on Earth: Reloaded and Deadlands: Noir on their way.  Also been playing around with CthulhuTech, both in terms of writing a review (still not happy with what I've written so far, and I'm on the third attempt) and in maybe seeing about getting a mini-campaign together for it.

Oh, and Happy New Year.