Thursday 31 March 2011

RMS Titanic

Less of a fully blown plot more of a plot outline suitable for a one or two session Steampunk or Alternate History game.

The PCs are a mix of passengers and crew aboard the RMS Titanic on it's maiden journey from Southampton to NewYork when it finds itself on a collision course with an iceberg.  The captain and crew give the iceberg a wide berth only to find some hours later that the iceberg is following them.

The iceberg is infact the cleverly disguised ocean going mothership of the twisted genius Fu Manchu who launches his attack on the Titanic in the guise of manned mini submarines.  These small submersibles are designed to punch a neat hole in the side of the ship and disgorge their contents, blood thirsty Malay pirates, into the bowels of the ship and take it over from the inside out.

The PCs must:
  • overcome the pirates
  • discover what Fu Manchu wants with the ship
  • ensure that it completes its journey.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Monday Motivations #12

Been hectic at work the last couple of weeks so this is a little late: 

Article #12 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class.  I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.

What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché.


5. Family Business - Your childhood was a strange one, you were home schooled by both your parents in subjects as diverse as languages, preparation and application of poisons, mathematics, esoteric missile weapons.  You never questioned why you were being taught these skills.  On your 16th Birthday your father told you to go into town and deliver a letter to the baker insisting that you wore your best leather gloves.  Only moments after the baker read the letter his face turned purple and he keeled over stone dead.  You gingerly picked up the letter and to your amazement the postscript was written to you in your father's hand it read. "Happy Birthday Son, congratulations on completing your first job and welcome to the family business.  Now clean up any evidence that you poisoned the baker and come home..."


3. A Father's Secret - You were never close to your father and always saw him as an old an frail man, his body wracked by illness, old age and the rigours of farming life.  When he died during one particularly harsh winter you buried him as custom demands.  Being some twenty years old yourself and with no desire to continue trying to scratch a living from the soil you decided to sell the farm and move to the nearby town.  When you were sorting out the valuables from amongst his possessions you found a book, scrawled within it's pages in his familiar hand were journal entries describing the most fantastic adventures and acts of heroism you could imagine.  Was this really your father whose exploits you were reading about?  The final page was addressed to you and told you where to look for the sword and armour that your father had hidden and that his dying wish was that even though he had not schooled you in the ways of war, that you would take up the sword and shield and fight for truth, justice and honour...


4. True Wisdom from Experience - It is written in the teachings of one of the most venerable ancestors of your temple that one cannot be taught wisdom from a book and that the truly wise must learn from experience.  This tennet has been handed down to each and every monk of your order since and has formed one of the most important lessons that a novice must undertake... The life outside.  Stripped of the comforts of a daily routine and the wise words of his teachers a novice must journey outside the temple for a period of not less than 1 year and return to the temple to be tested by the abbot himself.  Some novices return and fail the test, fewer rise to join the ranks of the teachers, most are never seen or heard from again...

5. The Watchers - It is said that History is written by the victor.  This is untrue, History is written by you and your fellow monks of the order of the all seeing eye.  Once you have completed your training you are despatched to all the corners of the known world to record the passing of events.  Whenever a battle is fought you account for the losses from each side and the amount of land given or taken, you and your brothers have witnessed momentous cosmic events, the birth of kings, the death of dynasties and the rise and fall of nations all with an impartial impassive eye...


5. Side Effects - After that nasty business with the mayor's wife's skin turning purple there was little call for your remedies in your home town.  You decided that there was more money to be made on the open road, so you sold what little possessions you had to buy a small covered wagon and set yourself up as a doktor of physick selling your own remedies for common ailments as you pass through the towns and villages on your way to who knows where...


Tuesday 22 March 2011

No Monday Motivations this week

Sorry folks, but there's no new Monday Motivations this week as, in the words of the Fast Show's Jesse "I are mostly been having... a campaign arc breakthrough".  Once it's safe to spill the beans I will let the idea loose on this blog.

Saturday 19 March 2011

TLOD Campaign Report: The Teaser Trailer

Whilst running my current campaign game tonight I did something new and dropped in a teaser trailer. Whilst the PCs made their way back out of a forest after completing a mission they glimpsed a tower through a gap in the trees.  I made them struggle to hack through the jungle before being ultimately frightened off by a giant bear.

I hope that they appreciate the payback in a future session...

You can read about their exploits in my campaign site The Lands of Dual

Thursday 17 March 2011

Character Accents: Rastamouse "'im proper tuff"

UK readers will no doubt be aware of the mild furore that Rastamouse has been causing since he debuted on the BBC childrens channel CBeebies.  For those not acquainted, Rastamouse is a rastafarian mouse detective who along with his band "Da Easy Crew" solves minor crimes in mouseland.  The issue causing all this consternation  is should a public broadcaster (the BBC) be teaching impressionable under-fives Jamaican Patois.

I'm not going to concern myself with the wailings of the Daily Mail readership but draw your attention to this excellent resource which will help you to learn how to speak patois for those essential Jamaican character accents.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Citymorphs #021 to #024

Another 4 Citymorphs this week, and the secret theme is revealed...

#021 - Hospital District

A tightly packed complex of hospitals clinics and spa nestled in some parkland make Morphia the envy of most of her neighbours.  Morphians benefit from the wide variety of treatments for most common ailments and not just battlefield injuries. 

#022 - Beverley's Hills

Some of the richest Morphian residents have chosen to set up their homes in this lush but stepped landscape which overlooks the town.  Thought to have been created by an enraged mage many hundreds of years ago is the real secret that it keeps the residents looking young beyond their years... 

#023 - Citywall Breach

Many years ago in the last great siege this section of wall was breached in a powerful explosion, fusing the remaining stones together.  Over the years the residents using this new shortcut have worn a path over the earthmound and through the breach establishing a thoroughfare. 

#024 - Market

I thought it was about time that I provided a marketplace for the inhabitants to buy and sell all of life's little essentials.  A wide variety of stalls occupy the dirt square with a fountain at it's centre.  Animal pens are to be found in the southeast corner of this tile and the borders are filled with an assortment of cannopied shops and restaurants.

And the secret theme?

If you arrange tiles #013 to #022 in order they spell out CITYMORPHS, see:

which I've also added to my T-Shirt Store.


Monday 14 March 2011

Monday Motivations #11

Article #11 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class.  I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.

What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché.


5. Star Child - You do not remember much about your early childhood other than that your foster parents found you in a shallow ditch blasted in a corn field.  As you grew older and your powers manifested themselves they warned you to learn to hide that you were different lest others find out and turn against you.  When in your teens they succumbed to the ravages of old age there was nothing to stop you forging out into a new and strange world in search of answers...


3.  The Great Thespian - Your early years were an idyl spent playing with your brothers and sisters in the caravans of your parents travelling theatre.  Your schooling consisted of mimicking your favourite characters from the tragedies and comedies you saw your parents play night after night as you travelled from town to town.  As a teen you learned all the theatrical arts from actor to stage hand and honed your skills at night in supporting roles. 

Your parents recognized that somehow your performances, even in the smallest of parts would often bewitch and delight the audience, but they could never understand where this talent came from.  Until after a successful night playing in a sleepy village in the middle of nowhere a wizened old man asked to see your parents after the performance.  He said that your skill was the work of magic and as an illusionist of the first rank he could not allow your parents to waste your talent on the stage and proposed that he make you his apprentice. 

When several weeks later you had journeyed a thousand leagues from your homeland the illusionist disposed of his cunningly crafted disguise and revealed his true identity, he was infact the great thespian himself. You stood awestruck at the deception he had perpetrated on you and your parents and only narrowly avoided being skewered by his sword.  As he lunged and you parried, he explained how he could not allow a talent like yours to overshadow his own and had decided to ensure that you would never upstage him.  Sadly his talents did not extend to swordplay and his orations were cut short as you jabbed your rapier through his heart...

2. Dishonourable Conduct - Although you were happy being just a regular soldier in the Kings army, you never enjoyed the rough housing or esprit de corps as the officers called it.  Sometimes you thought your comrades were as bad as the enemy you were sent to into battle to kill.  All this changed for you when after a particularly bloodthirsty engagement you had to defend a young village girl from being sullied by one of your own sergeants.  You stood trial by courts martial for acts of insubordination, and were it not for the pleadings of the chaplain your neck would have long since been stretched by the hangman's noose.  Your punishment was commuted to life servitude in the order of paladins, a band of desperate men who, forced to give up their fate to the mercy of God, were despatched to the farthest reaches of the kingdom to despatch the Kings enemies no matter how suicidal the mission or overwhelming the odds.


4. A Man in a Woman's World - You didn't realise it at the time, but all through your childhood your grandmother taught you the ways of the spirit world.  How to bend nature to do your bidding and when to bend to nature's will.  The skills and knowledge which have been passed down from mother to daughter since time began are not normally taught to boys but your grandmother insisted that as your parents only child you were to be taught these lessons lest the old ways be lost to future generations.  When the time came for her to pass into the spirit realm, the druids from the other nearby villages assembled to appoint her successor.  Their shock as you were presented to them was palpable, and even though you demonstrated your extensive knowledge of the rites and incantations your grandmother had so patiently taught you they would not accept you as one of their equals and cast you out as an abomination...


3.  Collectors of Truth - The training was arduous and the mortality rate high, but only the most proficient students of your order are selected to become collectors.  Their mission, to be despatched to the four corners of the world to accumulate knowledge in all it's forms and to return it to the monastery for recording and analysis by the multitude of scribes.  To survive the dangers of the outside world a collector must be wise beyond his years in order to identify Truth from Untruth, have the mental capacity to store the knowledge and possess the self preservation skills necessary to protect it on it's often perilous journey home...

Saturday 12 March 2011

UPDATE 2: RPG Google Mapping with MAPLib

I recently blogged my experiences with MAPLib 6 months on, wherein I postulated that if the map had placenames next to it's markers it might reach KILLER APP status.  Well, it looks like the guys at MAPLib were listening as lo and behold placenames now feature on my map and I didn't have to lift a finger to add them, awesome work guys.

I've been Dave'd...

For all of you out there following the Citymorph articles I've been posting, Dave Millar has kindly included my morphs in his Dave's Mapper Tool.  Admittedly citymorph's need a bit more fineagling than most but the results are very rewarding.  5 minutes spent rotating and swapping the odd tile here and there and hey presto!

A medieval urban sprawl is born...

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Citymorphs #017 to #020

4 more Citymorphs for you this week, have you spotted the secret theme yet...

#017 - The Docks

The Bigger vessels need somewhere sheltered to do their running repairs out of mainstream river traffic.
A recent addition to the docks are the three large cranes which are singularly responsible for halving the stevedore labour force which would have been loading and loading the ships that berth here.  Needless to say the Stevedores Guild is mobilizing as we speak and there is likely to be an all out strike. 

#018 - The Keep

If the city walls should be breached the Morphian Lord has somewhere heavily fortified to retreat to.  However, in times of peace it has become little more than a museum in which to house many of the cities archives and is popular among the scholars of the university district.  Several enterprising market traders have therefore set up their stalls within its shadow to catch the passing students who are alway in need of parchment, writing instruments and ink. 

#019 - The Bath House District

Morphians like to keep clean so the municipal council invested heabily in it's public waterworks schemes.  The Great Bath House in the centre is fed continually with clean water and it disgorges it's waste into the river.  Only the richest can afford the luxuries of private bathing in these sumptuous surroundings.  Downstream are the ever popular public bathing steps where even the common man can bathe in full view of his peers.    

#020 - The Bastille

Morphians who fall foul of the law are incarcerated in this prison which rests on a pillar of bassalt giving its inmates commanding views over the city.  The Barracks block at the foot of the hill ensures that there is a ready supply of soldiers to keep any unrest among the prison population to an absolute minimum.

Monday 7 March 2011

Monday Motivations #10

Article #10 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class.  I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.

What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché.


5.  Left Behind - Last year your tribe set out on a raiding voyage and all was right with the world.  You pillaged a handful of villages along the coast, and then took the river inland like you had done many times.  However, when you rounded the bend near a particularly fertile spot of the countryside, to your horror the townsfolk were lining the banks of the river.  They'd never done this before, usually they were compliant and played by the rules, you raided their villages for crops, livestock and the odd wife and afterwards they went about whatever it was that they had to do to make ready for your visit next year.  When they started firing wave after wave if flaming arrows at the boat, the chief had had enough and ordered you to turn the boat around.  The oarsmen stroked the water with a new sense of urgency but it was not enough to put you out of range of the villagers bows.  When an arrow stuck you in the back you staggered to the side of the boat, slipped on the blood of your childhood friend Boggart and tumbled overboard, banging your head on the side of the boat.  You came too some minutes later as you drifted downstream, luckily you hadn't drowned, but there was no sign of the boat and you were a long way from home in a strange land full of people who wanted to kill you... 


5.  Roll the bones - your god demands blood sacrifice every solstice to give thanks for the bounteous crop which will sustain it through the winter.  This year however when you performed the choosing ritual and cast the bones to select a goat to sacrifice you were horrified.  Instead of pointing to one of the assembled animals it indicated that this years sacrifice would be human and would be the chieftains daughter.  You hastily performed the ritual three more times and each time the bones indicated that the god wanted the chieftains daughter in payment for his favours...


2.  World Harmony - Your order shoulders the heavy burden of  maintaining a ritual without which the world would eventually stop.   Your brothers chant perpetually all day every day, this constant background tone vibrates through everything on the planet and keeps the world in a constant state of movement.  People of a good nature will vibrate in harmony those of an evil disposition will vibrate dissonantly.  Your job is to journey out into the unknown and detect these dissonants and either train them to resonate harmoniously or to despatch them...


1.  Inquisitor
- The king and his descendants have used your kind for hundreds of years to keep the kingdom free of dissent.  Your job is to travel from town to village to sniff out signs of rebellion using your powers of persuasion and mind reading.  "What happens after you write your report is not your concern" were the words of your old teacher, but you know that the people you report on are never seen or heard from again.  When you returned home some months ago, your father's mind was full of rebellious thoughts about the kingdom, you planted a masking which might last a year, but if another inquisitor were to read his mind he'd be able to tell that it was your spell...

2. The Puppeteer
- You can't remember when your powers awoke, you've always been able to suggest things to people and they've done what you asked.  As you got older the tasks you asked people to perform for you were a means to enrich yourself and ultimately brought you to the attentions of the local sheriff and his mind was not as easy to control as the others especially when he had his mage with him.  You read the guards intentions from some distance away, the night they came to arrest you and you've been on the run ever since...

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Citymorphs #013 to #016

Four more citymorphs to keep your appetite's whetted...

#013 - Parkland - 002

A small urban park surrounded by small buildings and some sort of barrack type building possibly a stables.  I leave the rest up to you. 

#014 - A River Runs Through It

More open spaces to keep the population healthy and happy.  A river runs through this one with a sort of tunnel affair.  On Sundays you just can't move for Anglers trying to land the big black pike that is rumoured to live in the river... 

#015 - Crematorium

Despite all the green spaces when you shuffle of the mortal coil your relatives won't wont you cluttering up the house so they bring your corpse here.  If you're rich enough they might bury you in one of the few grave plots that they've still got free, otherwise it's up the chimney like the rest of us. 

#016 - Temple District

The Gods like their worshippers to build big ostentatious Temples in their honour and big wide avenues along which to process.