One Module, Every Game: The Dresden Files RPG

With the coming of autumn, the weather has grown colder, I’ve been swamped with clueless first-year students, and the game nights of TYR, and by extension the One Module, Every Game project, has returned from its summer break. Also, my Rise of the Runelords campaign, which had two sessions back to back last weekend and another one tomor- well, it’s today now. The pace has been rather gruelling, and I’m afraid this is reflected in the quality, though I’ve strangely not had any complaints yet.

The game we tested out this time was The Dresden Files RPG, a magnificent piece of work from Evil Hat, based on the equally awesome series of novels from Jim Butcher. The novel series is now up to its twelfth instalment. For the record, the second book of the game, Our World, spoils up to the end of the tenth book, Small Favor.

What’s In the Game

The game, and currently the entirety of the game line, is comprised of two books, the main rulebook Your Story, and the world book Our World. The first one is the only one you’ll actually need, containing within its 416 pages all the rules of the game, from character generation to spellcasting, with an example setting of Baltimore thrown in the back of the book. Our World, then, is more of a reference guide to who, what and where in the books, an NPC guide and a monster manual all rolled into one, with a chapter on occult Chicago at the end, described by Billy, one of the in-character commenters of the book, as “this crazy love letter to Weird Chicago.”

That the entire game line consists of just two books, with nothing else announced, doesn’t actually bother me, because after reading these two books, I can’t really think of anything that’s actually missing. It’s a complete package that provides you with enough material to run a hundred games and the tools to come up with more. The only product I can think of adding anything to this is perhaps a GM screen, maybe packaged with an adventure module – and even those are a bit questionable since the game is written to be rather open about secrets and the basic campaign format does not lend itself well to the production of premade adventures. There probably is a format for scenarios that could work with Dresden Files, but it’s not the traditional one.

The reason I don’t think the traditional format for an adventure module is not a good fit for Dresden Files is that the game places a great emphasis on making your own city setting. It’s a game of urban fantasy, with an emphasis on “urban”, and the second chapter – indeed, before the actual character generation rules – is about city creation. It presents guidelines, rules and instructions to create a city and its NPCs, locations and aspects as a collaboration between all members of the gaming group, so that each player may influence the end result and bring in the kind of stuff he’s interested in playing.

This, incidentally, makes the game far from ideal for a one-shot like the one I ran. Ideally, the group should have a separate character creation session, where they generate their characters and the city the game will take place in. (Rogue Trader, I feel, is similar in this, which is why I’ll be running a mini-campaign of three to five sessions plus the character creation session at some point in the near future, instead of a one-shot.)

The ruleset chugging under the bonnet is FATE, adapted from the old Fudge system. It’s one of RPG.net’s darlings, and used by such games as Diaspora, Starblazer Adventures and Spirit of the Century. The ruleset has been licenced under the Open Gaming Licence, and Spirit of the Century has a free online system reference document.

FATE is an odd bird. It’s not quite like any other game system I’m familiar with. For one thing, it uses even funkier dice than roleplaying games usually do. The Fudge dice are six-siders with two blanks, two pluses and two minuses. They’re also very difficult to get. Nobody in Finland sells them and my regular RPG webstore at Paizo is all out. Fortunately, you can use regular six-siders, which most gamers probably have in ample supply, and those of us with a long history of Games Workshop hobbies have even more. (Though the GW dice are cheap little shits that someone recently proved are biased to roll ones well over the 16,6% of the time that they should. Sorry, can’t seem to find the article. If someone can dig it up for me, I’d be much obliged.) Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Gamescience manufactures Fudge dice, either.

Every player needs a set of four dice. This means I’d need 22 more Fudge dice for a proper set, for one GM and four players. Though I’m usually willing to play with up to six, there’s a certain… aspect of the FATE system that makes me want to cap the group at four players. That aspect is the aspect rules.

Aspects are one of the core rules concepts of the game. The core rules concept, you could say. They’re descriptive elements that all characters, cities, scenes and environments have, in varying quantities. A player character will have seven of them. While skills define what a character can do, these define who the character is. Every PC has a high concept aspect that sums up the character in a single phrase. For example, Indiana Jones’ high concept might be Two-Fisted Archaeologist. In addition, he’d probably have aspects like “Nazis. I hate these guys” and “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”

The aspects enter play in that they can be invoked or compelled in situations where they are relevant. For instance, in a fist fight with a burly Nazi (probably portrayed by Pat Roach), Indy could invoke his Two-Fisted Archaeologist aspect, burning a fate point and gaining a +2 bonus on his roll to kick the guy’s ass, or reroll all the dice if they came up crap. If that was insufficient, he could then burn another fate point and invoke “Nazis. I hate these guys” and get another +2. A compel, then, is a negative consequence of the aspect – while infiltrating the Nuremberg Rally, the GM could compel Indy’s “Nazis. I hate these guys” to bring a complication in the scene, in that Indy just can’t bring himself to buddy up with some Obersturmbannführer to get the information he needs. Indy can then burn a fate point to buy off the complication, or accept the complication and earn a fate point. This is the primary mechanic for getting new fate points. You can also invoke aspects other than your own – for instance, when he inevitably gets found out, Indy must flee his pursuers in a stolen uniform, and can invoke the Crowded aspect of the Nuremburg Rally to lose them. That uniform, by the way, was nicked off a captain with the Drunk temporary aspect, which Indy invoked to get the drop on him.

The conflict and damage system also uses aspects. When an attack succeeds, it inflicts stress on the character, on either the Physical, Mental or Social track, depending on the type of conflict. If the result dictates that the character would be taken out, he can buy off stress by taking a consequence aspect. These come in three flavours: mild, moderate and severe. A mild consequence can be Bruised, a moderate one could be a Bad First Degree Burn, while a severe consequence could be a Sucking Chest Wound. While the character retains these aspects – and the worse they are, the longer they stick with you – they can be invoked and compelled like any other aspect. And characters usually don’t have very long stress tracks. There’s also a fourth, special kind of consequence, the extreme consequence, which buys off eight stress, but will also replace one of your other aspects. Permanently.

If, on the other hand, you don’t want a consequence and decide to be taken out, the adversary decides what happens to you, within the realm of reason. However, you still get to describe how this happens. Even if the opponent, after stabbing you, decides that you die, you still get to speak your last words, dying curse or whatever.

The Game in Action

Mostly because I could, I set the adventure in Tampere. Because I had to do game prep in a real hurry, I only had an outline of the adventure’s plotline, which I kept filling in as we went along. I managed to do this without any logical inconsistencies or gaping plot holes.

Frozen Fingers of Midnight, adapted to Dresden Files, was about Helge, the last survivor of the shipwreck of SS Kuru, a steamboat that went down in a storm on Näsijärvi back in 1929. A cabal of evil sorcerers had cast a curse on him that was going to slowly kill him and channel his soul as a sacrifice to the undead spirit of Kuru’s captain. In exchange, the captain would deliver to them the skull of Hugo Salmela, a commander of the Red forces in Tampere during the Finnish Civil War, who is still said to haunt the building where he died in Pyynikki.

Hugo Salmela and the shipwreck of SS Kuru are real. The rest isn’t. Salmela died during the battle of Tampere when some drunkard chucked a primed hand grenade into a grenade crate and took out pretty much the entire Red high command. The ghost of Salmela really is said to haunt the place, which in the 1970’s became the first home of the language department of the Tampere University, and is something of a mascot for the language students’ club. The department moved to the new campus closer to the city centre around 2002, but they took the mascot with them. Personally, I think there’s something in vaguely poor taste about all this, but I’m the one who keeps dropping Nazis everywhere, so I’d probably just keep quiet (fat chance).

I created four half-finished characters for the game. There was Rami Karpainen, a bear lycanthrope with a thing for burning churches and senseless violence; Armo Pohjavirta, an ex-university professor and mathematomancer, actually based on a real math professor from the university, whose lectures were so legendary that people took notes of his quips and posted long quotations on the internet (here and here). They’re in Finnish and mostly untranslateable, but here are a few that I could work with:

“The Lebesgue integral is kind of like those Brezhnev speeches about the friendship of nations; really important and often spoken of, but never actually seen anywhere.”

“This Euler formula is handy to have in your pocket, you see. A gentleman does not sweat these things.”

“There’s nothing so wonderful about these vector value functions that you should think they glow in the dark or something.”

“If you think about that Banach-Tarski paradox, where you partition a sphere into subsets and when you reassemble the pieces it you can come up with any kind of object,  well of course those subsets can’t be like some Sunday school group, they’ve got to be bloody pathologically defined.”

“You should think about this for a while, it’s pretty difficult. I’ve sometimes asked about it in an exam, but then I’ve always had to hit the bottle with a gigantic melancholy.”

He loses a lot in translation. Naturally, the character ended up with the quietest player.

Also, there was a changeling whose human parents were Finnish-Swedish nobility from Kauniainen, and finally That Cop Who Gets All Stuck with Those Cases.

Like I said, I’d only finished the characters halfway. I’d left the last three phase aspects unfilled and let the group work those out among themselves. The way those last three aspects are determined in character creation is that the first of them is your character’s first adventure, a story he starred in. The players each write a sentence or two from that story’s beginning on a piece of paper and assign themselves an aspect from it. Then the papers are then passed around, and the next player is the guest star in that story and writes in the middle part. Then, a third player gets to come in and wrap it up. That way, each PC has participated in three different adventures and has three new aspects.

What we ended up in this case was four “adventures” where the characters mostly ran around each other without anybody accomplishing anything or there even being anything to accomplish. I didn’t contest it at the time since this was a one-shot, but I think that if I saw something that parochial in a campaign, I’d exercise the GM’s prerogative and veto them all. I probably still should’ve done it, since they kinda set the tone for the game, which wasn’t really adventurous.

Since we started late and the character generation took an unexpected amount of time, we didn’t actually get all that much gaming done and the characters ended up barrelling down the main plotline of the adventure and ignoring some clues of other things to be done. They went to find this Helge guy, got into his apartment, found him ill in his bed, got clues about a bunch of Lapp sorcerers, and tracked them down to a boathouse somewhere in the woods of Teisko. Minor violence and a lot of intimidation followed, and the bad guys agreed to break the enchantment if they’d just be let go and the bear guy didn’t kill them. This was done, and their headless bodies were found a few municipalities northwards a couple of days later, after the Wardens got to them. The PCs never went out to encounter this evil undead captain on the lake, or the ghost of Hugo Salmela in Pyynikki.

Now What

Well, when I’m next running the game, I’ll prepare a solid primer of information on the tone, style and rules of the game for the players. None of us really internalized the aspects as a part of the game and invoking and compelling them was rather lazy, possibly because the characters were low-level to begin with and had few fate points.

Yeah, that is a when. The game is awesome, and it inspires me. There will be future games, many of them. In fact, there will be a campaign!

It’s probably the most megalomaniacal campaign concept I’ve come up with, and the wheels are already in motion to make it happen. Now, the game is very city-focused, and it recommends that you base the created city on your own town, or a city you’re at least familiar with, because the familiarity creates more resonance in thep layers for the supernatural elements. Me, I travel a lot between Helsinki and Tampere, and am active in RPG clubs in both cities. In addition, there are fans of the books and the game in Alter Ego, over in Helsinki.

So, the campaign will be named “Helsinki-Tampere All Night Long”, and will have two groups, one in Helsinki and one in Tampere, playing their own games set in their own cities, but unravelling the same plotline from different ends, and affecting one another’s games. There can even be guest stars, and the Game Masters can have PCs of their own.

It’s still in the planning stages, but should kick off sometime next month with character creation sessions in both cities. It will either crash and burn spectacularly, or it will be the awesomest thing ever.

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One Module, Every Game: Dark Heresy

The second session of the One Module, Every Game project was played yesterday, perhaps slightly spilling over into today. Time flies when you’re having fun, and nobody told me it was getting that late.

This time, the game was, as I declared a few weeks ago, Fantasy Flight Games’ licence RPG Dark Heresy. Unlike originally intended, this was actually a game I had previously run, but there was some public demand for it and it’s not difficult to persuade me when it comes to Warhammer 40,000. Knowing the how the game works did give me more time to prepare the adventure itself, for which I generated a cast of premade player characters with short backgrounds and motivations, as well as secret agendas for each. Someone gave me a very good idea over the weekend, which I think I managed to put into practice reasonably well.

I prepared five characters but ended up with only three players because of a number of last-minute cancellations. I think four players would have been ideal, accounting for everybody being unfamiliar with the ruleset, and five would’ve worked perfectly if all players had known the rules. The setup I worked out relied a lot on the players escalating things between themselves and with three, I think it dragged out a bit too long. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, let’s see what we were getting into.

Heresy, Dark

Dark Heresy is the first of three roleplaying games set in the Warhammer 40,000 setting from Games Workshop’s miniatures wargame of the same name. I can recommend almost everything related to Warhammer 40,000 except for Warhammer 40,000 itself. The second game of the trilogy, Rogue Trader, was released late last year and the third, Deathwatch, will be coming out this summer. Whereas Rogue Trader deals with, free merchants and Deathwatch will put you in the size 80 shoes (continental European system) of the Space Marines, Dark Heresy deals with that most unexpected of organisations, the Imperial Inquisition.

For the best description of the setting, check out the TVTropes article. I love that setting. There’s an insane sense of scale – the Imperium of Man spans across the galaxy and a million inhabited worlds. In its armies, it fields everything from lowly footsoldiers with their lasguns to armored personnel carriers for tanks and Gothic, mile-high walking robots. The spaceships are Gothic space cathedrals five miles long and thousands of years old. Everything is BIG. Everything is OLD. Imagine living in there.

In Dark Heresy, the PCs are agents of the Inquisition. They aren’t Inquisitors in their own right, or even the retinue of one, but an independent cell of lower-ranking operatives who may then ascend through the ranks as the game progresses. There’s a recent sourcebook, Ascension, that apparently covers Throne Agents, Interrogators and the Inquisitors themselves as player characters, but I haven’t yet picked it up. It is said to be most excellent, however.

Dark Heresy has a class-based system. The character classes are the usual WH40K fare – Assassin, Arbitrator (from the Adeptus Arbites, the Imperium’s equivalent of the Interpol), guardsman, tech-priest, cleric, psyker, and so forth. They gain experience and use it to purchase skill, talent and ability advances, and when they have burned enough experience points, advance to the next pay grade and unlock a new set of advancements. The character generation and advancement system is highly customisable and reminds me of Dungeons & Dragons, in that there’s a wealth of different abilities to pick and choose from, as well as interesting special stuff in the accessory books like Inquisitor’s Handbook.

The system seems to owe a bit of a debt to the miniatures game. The characters have the some of the same basic stats as the figures in the minis game – Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, and so forth. Agility replaces Initiative, however, and the stat line extends to Intelligence, Perception, Willpower and Fellowship. These fall somewhere between zero and hundred, with the starting characters’ stats averaging around 30. That’s the target number you try to roll under. It may seem low, but the system offers up a bunch of ways to raise your odds and stacking bonuses – aiming, burst fire, and so forth. There’s also the level of difficulty, which gives an adjustment of +30 to -30, but which I found a bit unintuitive, probably because I’m used to D&D. In D&D, you need to set the Difficulty Class of every roll and then the roll must exceed it. However, in Dark Heresy, there’s already a built-in Difficulty Class in the ability score, and slapping on adjustments to this didn’t come naturally. I expect I could get the hang of it were I to play it more, though. Then there are these Degrees of Success. You get one additional Degree of Success for every ten points your roll is under the target number, which occasionally matters, such as when you’re firing bursts, when each additional degree of success scores another hit.

It’s also a bit slower than you’d expect, even with newbies at the table. I’m not exactly a fan of opposed combat, since it adds to the amount of dice rolled. Now, it’s attack roll, parry or dodge roll, damage roll. Now that I consult the rules, I notice we also added a superfluous fourth roll to that, to determine the hit location – according to the rules, the hit location is found by reversing the numbers of the D100 roll to hit, so that a hit roll of 19 becomes the hit location 91 (left leg). There was also an element of option paralysis when the players started crunching numbers to figure out whether the optimum course of action was to take a single shot, shoot with both guns, shoot a burst, or aim and shoot, or whatever. I tried to counter this by hurrying them, to limited effect. I probably need to implement a house rule for declaring an action within ten seconds when it’s your turn or your character is gripped by indecision and freezes like a deer in the headlights.

They can even survive that, thanks to the Fate Points. Each session, your PC has an allocation of Fate Points, usually somewhere from one to three, determined at character generation. You can use them to add a degree of success to your roll, heal 1d5 Wounds, reroll a test, small stuff like that. You can also burn a Fate Point permanently to save yourself from dying, dropping to zero Wounds and unconsciousness. There are situations where the explanation may be convoluted. This does prevent the PCs from kicking the bucket immediately in the campaign.

The After-Action Report

The core idea of how I was going to tackle Frozen Fingers of Midnight in Dark Heresy was spawned last Saturday over a hearty meal with fellow gamers from Alter Ego and TYR. I believe it was Ruutiukko who reiterated his view of Dark Heresy’s similarity in tone with the sci-fi comedy RPG Paranoia, as he did in the comments to a news post I made a few weeks ago. (Come to think of it, he is also a source of one of the main building blocks of the Living Greyhawk module Bright Sun, Black Lion that wrapped up Living Greyhawk in Finland. I need to drink with him more often.) I picked up on the idea and thought: but what if I really run Dark Heresy like Paranoia? For the benefit of those unfamiliar with this most classic of games, in Paranoia the player characters are Troubleshooters working in the Alpha Complex, a giant, sealed city that is entirely controlled by the Computer. The Computer is your friend. As a Troubleshooter, your job is to hunt down Commie mutant traitors.

Of course, it wouldn’t be fun if your character was not both a mutant and a member of a secret society. A proper Paranoia party has conflicting agendas and it’s an accepted and expected fact that sooner or later the party members will start killing each other off. It’s okay, every PC has six clones.

So, in Paranoia, every player knows that’s how the game works and expects it to work out that way. So, I thought, what if I take this paradigm from Paranoia and transplant it in Dark Heresy? When every player has a slip of paper with a secret agenda and no idea whatsoever of what the other characters even might have, it generates… paranoia.

I had five pregenerated characters, anticipating a rush of players, but unfortunately I got three cancellations in quick success and the game day ended up a bit small. In the adjacent room, another GM ran Summerland for two players.

While it would probably have been even slower, I seriously think that four or five players would have been much better. More conflicting agendas at the table would’ve resulted in more tense roleplaying, a quicker escalation and less work for me.

The characters that did end up in the game were Wessell, a Metallican gunslinger assassin, who was actually a mole from another Inquisitor’s cadre of acolytes, planted into one of Inquisitor Jakobus Baur’s cells to gather evidence that Baur is a dangerous radical and employs mutants and heretics; Private Anton Wierzbowski, a guardsman from the Regulus Planetary Defence Force with horrible scars and secret mutations he was trying to keep hidden long enough to escape the clutches of the Inquisition; and Lugo, a mind-scrubbed Arbiter with a secret mission from Inquisitor Baur himself to root out a traitor in the party. I also had a Albus Dimitros, a tech-priest who was a secret member of the heretical sect of the Logicians, and Father Mordecai, a Redemptionist Cleric who would’ve been the only person in the group who would’ve had no hidden agenda whatsoever. It’s just that Redemptionists are heavily into the whole “burn the heretic” spiel, and Father Mordecai had a flamethrower. The flamethrower had a bayonet on it. That bayonet was a chainsaw.

Oh, and he also started with 63 Insanity Points, minor pyromania and enough self-righteousness to justify torturing babies to death, if need be.

A part of my vision for the game was that the PCs would be at each others’ throats before the halfway point and I could just kick back and watch the fireworks. Wessell and Lugo played off each other admirably in this respect, Wierzbowski was a wild card with a justification for killing the entire party, Dimitros could’ve worked the intrigue angle and Mordecai would be putting out the fires with gasoline.

In the beginning, the three acolytes had been invited by Throne Agent Adril Hestram to his office in Hive Sibellus, the largest of the hive cities of Scintilla, the capital of the entire Calixis Sector. Hestram informed them that a couple of hours previously, he had received a missive from other Inquisition agents that a Deathwatch Space Marine, Skelg the Ripper, had been afflicted by a strange disease during a mission to clear out a space hulk in near orbit. Skelg had been hastily dropped off to an Inquisition safe house on a lower level of the hive. No corruption had been detected on him, but they were unwilling to take the risk of bringing him into the main Inquisition facilities in the hive. The acolytes were to go to the safe house, interview Skelg about the events during the mission, and proceed from there. Understandably, they were queasy about things that take Space Marines out of action.

So, they head off to the safe house, take a cab, spend a few hours travelling across the hive. It’s a poor working-class neighbourhood. They locate the safe house easily and ring the doorbell. Nobody answers. They ring it again. Still no answer. At this point, Wessell takes out her Hecuter automatic and shoots the door panel. This does not help.

Having now made a scene (and with the guardsman and the Arbiter visibly in uniform), they start fiddling with the workings of the door, when it’s slid half open from the inside. There’s a guy there, pointing a gun at them, demanding what the hell they are doing. Wessell flips her badge at them, they flip her theirs. It says they’re working for Inquisitor Caruso. (Why, yes, I was improvising these.) They shout at each other for a moment, the guy inside refusing to let them in. Then Lugo spots that the badge is a fake, tips off the others, and Wessell opens fire. A short firefight ensues and ends with the fake acolyte missing an arm and his friend inside the apartment with some serious burns. They find Skelg the Ripper in the adjacent room, a huge man, three meters tall, with a beard down to his waist and shoulders like the doors of a loading dock. He thanks them for taking care of the scoundrels and tells that the original caretakers of the safe house are stuffed in the closet. Skelg would, of course, have slain the enemies of the Imperium himself, but was too weak rise from the bed.

They get the rest of the story from Skelg – his Deathwatch kill-team was clearing out a space hulk called Galactic North that has a reputation for being cursed, popping up here and there across the Calixis Sector seemingly without rhyme, reason, or a crew to man it, doing spontaneous jumps in and out of the Warp. Something happened in the Engineerium of the vessel and Skelg was the only survivor of his squad. He does not remember what happened, but the other squads found him sprawled at an intersection on their way back from other parts of the ship. After that, he woke up in the Medicae Bay of their Battle Barge and was hastily dropped off here when the squad was called off for some swift work elsewhere.

They also interrogate the criminals, who are still alive. Wessell’s interrogation technique is to shoot one of them in the head and then ask questions from the other, which leads to a bit of an argument between her and Lugo. They eventually pump out from the criminal that he was paid by a guy named Bengeirr to come here and take out the guards and wait for reinforcements. They also drag out this Bengeirr’s location – a cargo hangar in an even lower level of the hive. After a quick discussion of whose job it is to execute the second criminal, Lugo shoots him in the face with a shotgun.

Since the safe house has been compromised, they take over another nearby apartment and move Skelg there, then call Adril Hestram and update him on the situation. Hestram sends in a clean-up crew to take care of the bodies and the safe house and the acolytes are to follow up on this Bengeirr lead. Skelg drinks all of Lugo’s booze.

They hand over the situation to the black-clad Stormtroopers that show up and head to the lower hive. After a few hours, they arrive at a cargo hangar. The lights are flickering, the ground is damp, and the people are sickly and weak. There’s a bar nearby, which the flickering neon light proclaims “The Rosy Fi gers”. There’s the hangar, and in front of the hangar, there’s a guard. They can spot the bulge of his shoulder-holstered weapon.

The still-uniformed Lugo and Wierzbowski hang back while Wessell goes to bluff the guard, requesting that she be allowed to see Bengeirr. The guard waffles a bit, but Wessell has such a winning smile and bigger guns than the guard that he contacts his boss via an intercom. Bengeirr brushes them off, leading to Wessell shoving the guard aside and telling Bengeirr that the Inquisition’s agents are after him for what happened at the safe house. At the mention of the Big I, the guard takes off.

Bengeirr agrees to talk with them, but when the doors are opened, the gangers inside open fire. A prolonged firefight ensues. Among other things, Wierzbowski fumbles with a grenade and is perforated with shrapnel, which he acknowledges with but a stoic grunt. One of the thugs has his arm blown off with such force that the bone shards wound a second thug. Bengeirr is firing from an elevated position, but finally Wessell scores a telling hit with her Hecuter autopistol, flinging the enemy leader back many meters. Bengeirr strikes the wall and slumps down, leaving a bloody mess.

Dark Heresy has the best critical hit tables ever. There’s also one critical hit in the energy weapons table where the target bursts into flame, runs screaming 1d10 meters in a random direction, lighting anybody he comes into contact also on fire, and then his head explodes. But I digress.

A short investigation of the hangar and a short-range cargo vessel within turn up some minor murder cult paraphernalia, some illegal firearms and an altar and a decaying headless body in the cargo hold. They also manage to access the computer systems, which reveal that the cargo vessel has been scheduled to make a run today to a spot of empty space a day’s trip flight away. None of the acolytes knows how to pilot a spaceship, though (ironically, Father Mordecai was born and grew up aboard a Battlefleet Calixis battleship, and could’ve pulled it off).

They contact Hestram again and give another situation update – to which the esteemed Throne Agent replies: “I’ll send you a pilot.” The coordinates correspond closely to the last documented sighting of the Galactic North, and Hestram wants them up there now to check out the hulk before it disappears.

So, the pilot, named Hoban, arrives. He makes the cargo ship dance to his tune, spaces the altar in the cargo hold, and takes them to the coordinates. The trip takes some 12 hours. Well, sure enough, the hulk is there, big and dead. They dock.

At this point, the tensions finally surface. Lugo and Wierzbowski are heading to explore the hulk, while Wessell is of the opinion that Hestram is a traitor and trying to get them killed. She stays behind and closes the air lock while Lugo and Wierzbowski go in. Then she pulls a gun on Hoban, manacles him, and stuffs him into a closet while the other acolytes are trying to get her to open the door and talk about it, and calls her boss via a satellite link for . The reply is a curt: “Figure it out for yourself.” Unfortunately, she’d forgotten her com-link with the rest of the party was open when she opened the connection to Inquisitor Rykehuss. When she figures out her mistake, she quickly closes the comm with the party, while Wierzbowski explains to Lugo who Inquisitor Rykehuss is – something of a bogeyman, an ardent witch hunter and a tireless persecutor of heretics both real and imagined.

Finally, she opens the doors, with a gun ready and trained on the other two acolytes, requesting they drop their weapons and the whole bunch return planetside, now.

Yeah, right. A short-range, zero-G firefight ensues. Wessell is liberally toasted by las fire from Wierzbowski, but she manages to score a good hit on Lugo, breaking his ribs, and manages to nearly sever Wierzbowski’s leg with a well-placed shot (a Fate Point is the only thing that saved him). Lugo surrenders. All were bleeding badly and down to critical damages, with Fatigue points to the maximum.

So, Wessell, having the upper hand, tries to interrogate Lugo. She does this in her patented style – she shoots the unconscious Wierzbowski through the head and says: “Speak.” Lugo spills the beans about his secret assignment, Wessell tells that she was working for Rykehuss, and suspects Adril Hestram is the traitor who leaked the location of the safe house to the cultists.

Hoban is released from his comfy closet, Wierzbowski’s body is spaced, and they fly back to Scintilla to be debriefed and processed.

After a few days of gruelling interrogation, they are all released. A few days after that, Wessell is run over by a bus, which then reverses over her, parks, and explodes. Wierzbowski, having burned three Fate Points in quick succession, develops a mutation that allows him to survive hard vacuum. Go figure. Lugo is rewarded and sent on his next assignment, and Jakobus Baur explains the whole plot to him – it was all one big Batman gambit developed to ferret out a traitor in the ranks. Inquisitors Sipowicz and Caruso are both complete fabrications, Deathwatch Captain Skelg the Ripper is hale and whole and soon returning to rejoin his original chapter of Space Wolves, and the murder cult he had manipulated was in the process of being completely wiped out by squads of Arbiters. The hulk was some old trash heap that was being manoeuvred to re-enter the atmosphere, where friction should burn it up. The legend of the Galactic North was quite real, however.

What Went Wrong, What Went Right

First of all, the main sticking point in the adventure was the lack of players. Quicker escalation of the situation would’ve made for a much shorter and more enjoyable game. As it was, we played for nearly six hours, well into the night.

Another thing that stuck out was the Fate Point mechanic. It works in a campaign, but in a one-shot, there is no incentive for the players not to burn through their entire allocation of Fate Points. It got rather ridiculous when Wierzbowski burned through them all to survive a pair of critical hits and being spaced. It was nearly impossible for a PC to die in the game, which I hadn’t taken into account when I crafted the scenario. I think that were I to revisit it, I’d say that PC-on-PC violence cannot be survived with Fate Points or just cut their number to one per character.

Another issue I’ve noticed with the game, both now and in my previous campaign a couple of years back, is that the players too easily fall into the mentality that they’re the cops and the inquisitorial rosette is their badge, when the truth is closer to them being the KGB if the KGB was subject to the Vatican. In the 12th century. People don’t fear them, they’re utterly terrified, and flashing the rosette everywhere they go makes them targets for everyone who doesn’t want the Inquisition anywhere near their operations. This is one of those things that need to be explained to the players in great detail, and then explained again, and then kill off a PC or two to make the point before they learn.

I don’t understand how GMs get this so much more readily.

I improvised a lot of the plot during the game, which may be visible in the humongous plot holes and inconsistencies in the story as presented to the player characters. The last reveal by Baur sorta makes it work in hindsight, though – nothing was real, and it was just a gambit in a shadow war between Inquisitors of different factions.

We also experienced some of the same issues as with the Glorantha game I last blogged about. Two of the players were familiar with the setting, but it has a lot of depth and you can’t make safe assumptions about it, which led to Wessell’s player making a few bad calls that finally resulted in her being squashed beneath a bus, because loose ends are untidy.

I do think the scenario is viable for future use, though, and might fiddle with it for the con season, polish up the plot and the characters.

Next month: Eclipse Phase. We’ll see how that one goes…

One Module, Every Game: King Arthur Pendragon, 5th Edition

Well, unlike some other projects I’ve engaged in the past, this one got off the ground and the first game was played yesterday. I finally settled on The Frozen Fingers of Midnight for the module, which, on hindsight, was a good decision.

The structure of the module is fairly simple, it has room for improvisation and the structure is solid. It also doesn’t ruin the adventure if the players have played through it previously, especially if the adaptation throws a few curveballs their way. D&D adventures aren’t solved the same way as Call of Cthulhu adventures, and so on.

It was fun translating the module. I opted for an epic Grail Quest route with the module, turning the taverns and manors and boathouses of the original into castles. Skelg the Ripper, the cursed Ulfen warrior from the original, was a king of old laid low by a curse cast by an evil baron after the king and the baroness had a tryst. Skelg, in the Pendragon version, was unable to rise from his bed, yet unable to die. The woman, Lady Natalya, was trapped inside an icy mountain floating in a lake behind the baron’s castle.

How’s the Game, Then?

First of all, some observations about the game. Pendragon is very, very good, and very, very different, surprisingly so, from pretty much everything else I’ve played. The key to this difference is the Traits and Passions. You know how in fiction and occasionally mythology, certain characters behave just like they were player characters in D&D? You know, audacious and smart types, who have wildly varied and odd skillsets, limited survival instincts and a knack for creating and then executing completely unexpected and oddball plots that, against all logic, tend to work.

The characters in the Arthur legends are never like that. They have a concept of honour and a code of conduct so deeply ingrained in their behaviour that they will happily work against their own interests and even die or kill friends in duels if that’s what they perceive honour to demand. They mope about, go insane every once in a while and waste away with love. Greg Stafford, the writer of King Arthur Pendragon, comments on Sir Tristram that the way the guy charges into battle every time he sees another knight without so much as a how-do-you-do, the only possibility is that he’s seriously nearsighted and can’t identify the other knights, and every time Greg portrayed Sir Tristram as an NPC, he kept squinting and peering at the players.

The way Pendragon handles this is with the Traits. The Traits are a bunch of sliding scales between different virtues and vices. You’ve got Chaste/Lustful and Energetic/Lazy, and so forth. All of the values between a pair add up to 20, and most are around 10/10 or 13/7 or something along those lines. When they’re 16/4 or even more unbalanced, though, it’s really a significant character trait. The thing here is that in certain situations you must roll a Trait check, and the success or failure of that check limits what you can do in the situation. This often rules out the smart way to deal with the situation. For values of 16 or above, you always roll when it would apply to a situation, for lesser values you have more control.

It’s an interesting mechanic, and though some players are hostile to even the suggestion that someone would take away any control over their character, I think it works. Fortunately, I had no players like that, either.

This isn’t going to be a full review of the game, since I haven’t even read the whole rulebook, but I’ll point out some other things I noted:

First, the one bad thing. The rules are rather unclear and the book could really do with a single page where the basic dice mechanics are explained in a simple way – what to roll, what number you’re aiming for, what’s a critical, what’s a fumble, when do they matter, how bonuses work. The data is there, but it’s now hidden in two or three different places in the rules chapters.

That, there, is my only real complaint. Apart from that, it’s all good.

The game sets out to do one single thing, specialises in it, and then does it very well. Pendragon is meant to run a campaign through the years of King Arthur’s reign, from 485 to 566, from the wars of King Uther Pendragon against the Saxons to the Battle of Camlann and its aftermath, a total of 81 years. The entire time period is covered by the huge brick of a book that is The Great Pendragon Campaign. There also appears to be a campaign supplement named Saxons! for what I believe is the fourth edition of the game that runs a seventy-year campaign from the arrival of the Saxons to the isles in 449 to the Battle of Badon Hill where King Arthur kicked their asses for good in 518. I expect that with sufficient megalomania, the two might be strung together for whopping 117 years of campaign.

There seems to be a recommendation that one year is covered in each game session, so with weekly games (hah!) that campaign would go well into its third year, and even with just one or the other, you’re looking at nearly two years of playing. If I were to start such a game over here with my university group, we’d all have our PhDs before we were done. The thing with The Great Pendragon Campaign, I suppose, is that more than, say, a Paizo adventure path, it desperately needs to be finished. Everybody knows the story already, and they want to be part of the big fight at the end. They want to go down swinging at Camlann.

Sirlarkins over at the RPG Corner has been posting Actual Play reports from his solo Pendragon game that I’ve been reading with great interest. Playing with your significant other as the only player seems to be a good way to finish the campaign at some point in the future.

When you play in a Pendragon campaign, your character will die. In the best-case scenario, I’d expect that at the very least two PCs of every player will give up the ghost. I think four is the likely average. Not only is the combat system positively murderous, but there’s also the sheer length of the campaign, spanning generations of knights. This poses certain challenges for the levelling system and experience mechanics. In most RPGs with this much mechanics, you can expect your PC to get steadily better. Here, they get steadily better and then they die. The next PC, however, gets an inheritance of titles and all that rot and a measure of his predecessor’s Glory. Also, because the Enchantment of Britain kicks technological advancement into overdrive, their starting gear will be a few centuries more advanced than dad’s starting gear.

Of course, this raises the issue of actually making those replacement characters, for which there is the Winter Phase. Because nobody is dumb enough to go a-questing in the winter – it’s pretty cold to ride in armour – the characters are assumed to spend the winter or at least part thereof at their manor or castle or the King’s court or wherever. During Winter Phase, you roll for how much you get in taxes from your peasants, how much of it goes onward to your lord, and if you’re married, whether there are any new children. For existing children, you roll if they survive.

Family and heredity is important in Pendragon. This is also seen in the character generation system, which has a lifepath system for the Salisbury knights, whom the game assumes PCs to be. Except it’s not their lifepath, but their grandfather’s and father’s. From the year 440 when King Constantin is murdered by his own guards to 484 when your PC’s father will (at the latest) die at the Battle of Eburacum, you track their exploits in the various battles and events of history and their accumulated Glory, some of which will then pass on to you. Personally, I think this is an awesome system. I love lifepath systems in general, and this is one of the best I’ve seen.

Finally, as an English major and a literature geek, I must comment on the depth of research that has gone into this thing. Greg Stafford knows his stuff, and it comes through in the writing. The world of King Arthur Pendragon is a fusion of different sources, from the old Welsh myths to Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur to Boorman’s Excalibur. It brings them all together into a cohesive whole and does it well. There’s also a scenario based on Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market”, which I appreciated.

In Actual Play

In translating the module from Pathfinder Society to Pendragon, the first decision I made was to have the action happen in the year 556, during the period when the Knights of the Round Table were questing for the Grail. I did this because I feel that period is most iconic of the stories of the Round Table, and because it gave me a good excuse to have the PCs out in the sticks, looking for adventure and talking to strange men living in the woods. Then I turned the decidedly D&D-y milieu and plot into something more fairytaley, something more suitable for King Arthur’s knights.

Though I dearly love the lifepath character generation, in order to save time I just wrote up the four pre-made PCs from the rulebook. The party thus comprised of the well-rounded average knight, the Roman Christian Sir Berel; the burly pagan huntmaster Sir Pelogres the Lively; the strong and scarred warrior Sir Maurel; and the learned courtier Sir Morganor the Just. The characters were distributed randomly. Sir Berel and Sir Maurel were played by two guys from my regular Rise of the Runelords group, while Sir Pelogres’ and Sir Morganor’s players came through the RPG club. In the adjacent room, another GM was running his homebrewed fantasy game.

They were out looking for the Grail, and were referred by a strange hermit in the forest to go to the Forest of Arden, wherein slept in his hidden castle a great king of yore.

So, off they went and found the Grey Dog Castle. It was a squat little castle, with stout fortifications – very defensible. All around it grew an impenetrable thicket of wild roses. (It was here that I actually made an error regarding my notes – I meant the rose bushes to grow around Castle Bengeirr, as that encounter in the original featured the Rosy Fingers Tavern. This was a very interesting error when you look at the story as a whole and I wonder if my subconscious wasn’t playing tricks here.)

After some debate and an attempt by the reckless Sir Maurel and Sir Berel to cut their way through (“DEUS VULT!” *slash, hack*), aborted by Sir Morganor, scandalised about the possibility of ruining a king’s garden, the knights decided to circle around the castle and look for a way through the thicket. (Here, Sir Maurel rolled for Reckless, which he had at 16, succeeded, and started hacking. Sir Morganor failed his Arbitrary roll and had no choice but to intervene. I’m not sure we played the Traits as they’re supposed to be played, but the players caught on quickly and it resulted in good gaming, which I suppose is what matters.) This they did not find, but the keen eyes of Sir Pelogres discerned a place where the thicket was less thick and they could cut their way through with more ease. They tied their horses to a tree and started hacking. As they passed into the thicket, though, they noticed the bushes were growing back behind them. Foul witchcraft!

Eventually, our brave gardeners broke through the roses and briars and faced the high gate of the castle. Sir Morganor blew his trumpet to announce himself and knocked on the gatekeeper’s door, which opened. Out of it stepped a huge, two-headed man, tall enough to look a mounted knight level in the eye. With his two mouths he announced himself to be the guard of Grey Dog Castle, and that none may enter. Though Sir Morganor introduced himself and his party most courteously, the dialogue soon reached an impasse and more direct methods were required. Sir Morganor, awed by the monster, cowered, while the rest of the knights charged in. The creature fended them off with its club for a moment and its thick hide turned aside Sir Pelogres’ spear as well as Sir Berel’s sword, only Sir Maurel drawing blood. Then, it smacked its club into Sir Pelogres’ face with such force that its weapon broke, and Sir Berel and Sir Maurel used the opportunity to strike their blades deeply into the creature’s flesh (I divided up its weapon skill against multiple opponents as 11 against Sir Maurel and 1 point each for Sirs Berel and Pelogres. It critted against Sir Pelogres and fumbled against Sir Maurel, which I interpreted to mean that it bashes Sir Pelogres’ face in and its weapon, not being a sword, breaks. The other two knights both rolled criticals.)

The giant was down, and begged for mercy, which it received, and lay there bleeding. Sir Berel, wise in the ways of healing, patched up the bleeding Sir Pelogres, whose nose had been bent and broken by the force of the strike.

The knights, having thus bested their foe, entered the castle and met with an ancient man introducing himself as Tyrios, King Skelg’s faithful squire, who had lived here in Grey Dog Castle with his master for all the years of his curse. He took them up into the highest tower to meet the King, a large, broad-chested man who was decrepit in his old age and whose flowing white beard covered the bed. He was not asleep, but after the courtesies had been exchanged, he told that he had made the mistake of loving another man’s wife and had been cursed for his crime. He could not die, but was too weak and infirm to rise from his own bed. He had lain thus for long centuries.

Sir Morganor considered such a long punishment as unjust, as no man has the authority to condemn a man thusly – that power resides with God, and God alone. Vengeance is His, and no one else’s. The knights received directions to the castle of Baron Bengeirr. Bengeirr was not wholly a man of this world, and thus could be expected to still be alive – which he indeed was, as they discovered after having ridden for two more days under the canopy of Arden Forest. Castle Bengeirr was less a defensive fortification than it was a display of the wealth and authority of its owner; all tall spires and turrets. The knights also spied a lake behind the castle, and in the lake, a mountain of ice.

They approached the castle and announced themselves, were greeted, and then let in. They met with Baron Bengeirr, who welcomed them to partake of his hospitality. Upon hearing of their quest, he said he could not help them as he had sworn an oath and it was King Skelg’s fate to suffer. However, compelling arguments from Sir Morganor turned the Baron’s head, and he agreed to joust them, and if he could be unhorsed, he would agree to lift the curse. The best rider among the knights would face him.

Sir Morganor immediately announced this to be him, which Sir Maurel took exception to (Sir Maurel’s Lance skill was 15, Sir Morganor’s 14), justifiably proud of his skill at arms. Sir Morganor would not back down, and thus, it was decided they would compete amongst themselves for the honour of tilting against Baron Bengeirr. Sir Maurel and Sir Morganor tilted against one another four times, each time Sir Maurel landing a solid blow on Sir Morganor, whose lance he avoided altogether or managed to shrug off his shield. In the end, Sir Morganor, though still not unhorsed after four tilts, conceded Sir Maurel to be the superior warrior.

The next day, Sir Maurel faced Baron Bengeirr, and almost anticlimactically, unhorsed the vaunted knight on the first tilt, emerging unscathed himself. Baron Bengeirr was true to his word, however, and told them to get his wife, Lady Natalya, from the mountain of ice in the lake.

This they did, and rowed a small boat inside the mountain to a cave where Lady Natalya sat on the floor, still as beautiful as when King Skelg had first loved her. Indeed, such was her beauty that it profoundly stirred the loins and the hearts of the brave Salisbury knights as well. (I here used a mechanic – which I’m not entirely sure was a good idea – lifted from The Great Pendragon Campaign’s first encounters with Queens Igraine or Guinevere, where the knights first roll Lustful if they will gain a Lust (target) Passion and if they fail that, a Chaste roll for whether they will gain an Amor (target) Passion. Sir Berel managed to get Amor (Lady Natalya), while both Sir Maurel and Sir Pelogres got Lust (Lady Natalya). Sir Morganor the Just was too dedicated to the Grail quest to notice such worldly things.)

Though Lady Natalya requested that she be taken to her beloved Skelg, the knights first attempted to take her to Baron Bengeirr, her lawful husband. Bengeirr, however, refused to meet with them. Sir Morganor, out of respect for the law and tradition of the land, attempted to manipulate the situation, and first dragged out of the castle servants the knowledge of which way Baron Bengeirr’s bedroom windows faced, and then requested that before they travel to Grey Dog Castle, she sing to them, on the shore of the lake.

The ploy did work, after a fashion, and Baron Bengeirr was seen in the window before turning away from his singing wife. As they rode away, from a far hilltop the knights could see the castle’s flags and pennants being lowered as a sign that the lord of the castle was dead. (I have no idea if they did the half-mast thing in medieval England. Probably not, but it does work as a cultural shorthand and I was pulling stuff out of my ass for most of the session. Normally, I prefer to prepare, prepare and then prepare some more, and me running a game with only two pages of notes is almost unheard of.)

Now, the Lusts kicked in. The best trackers of the group were Sirs Pelogres and Maurel, whose new goal in life was to get under Lady Natalya’s dress. They attempted to accomplish this by Flirtation rolls, which they failed miserably, and then by leading the whole party around in circles in the forest to buy more time and opportunities with her. This led to more failed Flirtation rolls as the knights were smooth as sandpaper and Lady Natalya was completely oblivious to their advances. Once Sir Morganor and Sir Berel figured out what the two men were up to, there was a confrontation, and words were had, the knights nearly coming to blows over the Lady’s honour. In the end, Sir Maurel and Sir Pelogres acquiesced and they made for Grey Dog Castle with haste.

At the castle, they took Lady Natalya up to the highest tower where King Skelg lay, and she rushed forth to embrace her love. Immediately, a measure of vitality returned to King Skelg. Though still old and decrepit, he now found the strength to rise up from bed and stand on his own two feet, and requested that he be helped downstairs, to the chapel. He also told the knights that when he had still had his kingdom, many centuries ago, the Grail had been to the north, in the castle of the Fisher King. (Never mind that the Grail hasn’t been in existence for all that many centuries, let alone in England. Then, this is myth and timelines only need to sorta match.)

At the chapel, the King kneeled in front of the altar to pray, while the knights and Lady Natalya stayed behind. A golden light from the heavens lit the King’s kneeling form, and over his head the knights beheld the translucent, dreamlike form of the Holy Grail, the object of their quest. Then, King Skelg collapsed, dead, but with a smile on his lips. The knights were infused with a new sense of purpose for their mission, having been blessed with such a vision of the cup of Christ.

However, there still remained the issue of Lady Natalya, but at this point, lest we be subjected to knights killing their brothers in the house of the Lord, we fade to black.

Thoughts After the Action

An early decision I made in my preparations was to just pare down the rules to their essentials. No Winter Phase, no mass large-scale combat. Pendragon isn’t a light system by any means and trying to understand all of it myself for just one session, let alone foisting the full weight of it upon the players, would have been inadvisable. Thus, we used the bare minimum – skills, combat, traits and passions. We probably also interpreted some of them wrong and forgot others, but that’s the way it goes when you’re learning a new system. You make mistakes, then you read the book some more, learn how things really go, and play right from then on.

The Baron Bengeirr encounter was a bit anticlimactic, and I probably should have made him tougher. I used the stats for Average Knight from the rulebook. With an unfamiliar system, it’s difficult to gauge what the PCs are capable of defeating. The initial encounter with the giant (Small Giant stats) showed the lethality of the combat system, though.

The adventure was a bit of a railroad, partly because of its heritage and partly because of how I rewrote it, but I think Pendragon is more forgiving of such sins than other games. The default mode of play is to go through a set series of historical events without being able to significantly affect their outcome, and most of the really interesting content comes from the players characters’ interaction with one another and reactions to the conundrums posed by their Traits and Passions.

Content-wise, I think I may have made the module a bit too fantastical. However, the players seemed to like it, and I feel I managed to keep the style appropriate for the legends of Arthur, “Lady of Shalott” and perhaps Grimm’s fairy tales.

I didn’t actually notice until after the game that my slight error with the notes and the placement of the roses had pretty firmly made this a retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty, except with switched sexes. Man, I’m so postmodern I subvert fairy tales without even noticing.

It was a good session and a good game. Next month, though, I’ll try for something lighter, or possibly more familiar. Possibly Dark Heresy. I’ve actually run a handful of sessions of Dark Heresy, but I’m hardly a master of the system yet. I’m also a big fan of the setting, and I feel it’d work as a good lead-in for Rogue Trader. Of course, I’m also open for reader suggestions.

One Module, Every Game

I was recently made the guy in charge of organising roleplaying game sessions in the unofficial decision-making body of Tyr, the Tampere University RPG club.

You might assume this is a big thing, but really, Tyr does mostly everything except play RPGs. I think the primary activity of the club is volleyball, nowadays. I’ll see if I can do something about changing this, but that’s not my foremost concern at the moment.

Interestingly, said decision-making body is called the Grey Council, and yes, it does have nine members. So, I’m guessing that makes me a Satai. I love my titles. I’m also the Commissar of the Northern Reaches for the Espoo Science Fiction Club and the Master of Game Masters at Ropecon. Man, I gotta have some calling cards printed.

Anyway, I’m now laying plans for a game day in late February. Possibly making them a monthly thing. Another guy at the club suggested that I use the opportunity to run one-shots of my rather extensive and sadly unplayed collection of games. Then, he followed that up with a forum thread (in Finnish, sorry) where he brought up the idea of creating a single module and running it in every game, adapting it as necessary to the themes and style of the game. Another guy in the thread suggested that were such a project done, a file were created and published online with the adaptation details.

Well, I’ll be doing one better, and blogging about it. Additionally, since I’m lazy, I will not be writing up an adventure, but using a published module, one available in PDF, and cheap. I’m not yet decided on the particular module, but I’m thinking I’ll use either The Frozen Fingers of Midnight by Craig Shackleton or Perils of the Pirate Pact by Matthieu Dayon. They’re affordable, they can be run in four hours, the structure is simple and easily adaptable to any number of settings and genres, they have a variety of different styles of encounters, and the plots don’t really have any whoa-moments that suffer unduly if the player is familiar with the adventure (I’m assuming that I wouldn’t have all new players for every session). Also, having something available to everyone instead of, say, a Living Greyhawk module from my hoard as I was initially suggesting, makes it possible for people to participate if they so wish.

Okay, so nobody probably will, but if someone does, they can, alright?

I’m thinking the first game would be Pendragon, 5th edition, and will probably be following that up with stuff like Eclipse Phase and Rogue Trader. I have enough games I’ve never played to do this ’til the day I die, if I so wish.

Because the only thing that a hundred games I never play are good for is bragging rights, here’s a partial list: Pendragon (5E), Eclipse Phase, Rogue Trader, Og – Unearthed Edition, Star Wreck, Classroom Deathmatch, Tähti, Three Sixteen – Carnage Amongst the Stars, Space: 1889, Savage World of Solomon Kane, Savage Worlds, Spycraft (1E & 2E), Conan D20 Atlantean Edition, Warcraft RPG, BESM (2E & 3E), Victoriana, Wild Talents, Trail of Cthulhu, Ikuisuuden laakso, Itran kaupunki, Heimot, E.N.O.C. – Operaatio Eisenberg, Hounds of the Sea, Poison’d, Parhaaseen katseluaikaan (Finnish edition of Primetime Adventures), Drakar och Demoner (6E), Das Schwarze Auge (The German original of The Dark Eye), Vuoren velho (Mountain Witch in Finnish), FVLMINATA, SLA Industries, Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun (1E & 3E), CthulhuTech, Orpheus, Hunter: the Reckoning, Vampire: the Requiem, Mage: the Awakening, Werewolf: the Forsaken, Werewolf: Wild West, Legend of the Five Rings (2E & 4E), Reign, Astra, Taiga, GURPS (3E), Nobilis, Judge Dredd D20, Sláine D20, Exalted (2E), Qin, Weapons of the Gods, Babylon 5 D20 (2E)…

Yeah. Add to that the stuff I have only in PDF, and the list is easily doubled, and that’s not even counting stuff I’ve played only once, like Delta Green or Feng Shui or Zombeja! Ovella! (Zombie Cinema for you foreigners).

Of course, on the part of the GM – me – this requires that he learns a new game system every month and grasps it well enough to run a game.

If anything ever comes of this, I will post follow-ups.