Thursday, April 14, 2016

New Life for West End Games

Back in the late '80s and early '90s, West End Games (WEG) was a major player in the tabletop rpg industry. Best known for the classic Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, WEG also held licenses at various times for Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Xena: Warrior Princess and Men in Black. It also developed classic games such as Paranoia and TORG. Unfortunately, even the Star Wars license couldn't sustain the company, which declared bankruptcy in 1998. In 2003, WEG, now stripped of all its licenses, was purchased by Eric Gibson, who hoped to develop its game mechanic, which became known as the d6 System. Gibson's company published the core rules as three books, d6 Space, d6 Fantasy and d6 Adventure as well as announcing the release of Bill Coffin's Septimus campaign world. However, it could not repeat WEG's past success. In 2008, Gibson dissolved the company, released the d6 system and Septimus as OGL and sold off its remaining IPs. Gibson retained nothing except rights to the name. Apparently, the name still has some value, however, because Stewart Wieck, one of the original designers of Vampire: The Masquerade and other White Wolf titles has just announced that he has acquired the rights to WEG. The first plan for WEG is to make all the d6 products and Septimus, which are currently available for free download, available for print-on-demand. Wieck has also set up a Kickstarter to bring back Web and Starship, an '80s era boardgame published by WEG.

I once had a great deal of fondness for WEG and still have a sizeable collection of original SW:TRG books as well as all the free d6 content. Although I've long since moved on to other games, that nostalgia will probably entice me to keep an eye on new WEG developments.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ultimate Intrigue - Early thoughts

First and foremost, as the title suggests, this book is highly focused towards an intrigue style adventure/campaign. It works best in at low levels or in a low magic environment. If you are like me and looking for cool things to inject into a standard campaign you will be somewhat disappointed. This book is full of options but I found most of them to be very niche.

The Vigilante is pretty cool but I can't see myself playing one which is a bit of a shame. This could be one of those classes, like the Oracle, that I grow to appreciate over time but currently I don't see enough to excite me. The Avenger (Fighter) type Vigilante has great social options, and can do pretty good damage but I'm not sure they have enough defensive options. Overall I think the Avenger is decent and much more useful compared to the Stalker.

The Stalker (Rogue) seems to be built around the element of surprise. The problem with Pathfinder is that it tends not to support "one hit kill" style that the stalker seems to be built around. The stalker is devastating on the first round but then find its usefulness drop off severely.  I suppose you could pull the video game stunt of running away for 2 minutes until everything resets but no GM I know would allow you to get away with something so gamey.

Most of the new feats are geared towards an intrigue game although there are a few notable exceptions. Starry Grace brings me one step closer to finally be able to run a PC built around effectively using Star Knives.

Most of the Archetypes are niche as well. Many of the trades are for Intrigue options which won't be so useful in a standard game so form that point of view most of the archetypes are downgrades. Once I get the module for HeroLab I'll do more than throw some numbers together on paper but from a quick and dirty standpoint, many were very lackluster from a combat standpoint.

Overall the book contains lots of creative ideas and options but most are focused on an Intrigue style game which could be a lot of fun but we tend to play a more direct style.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Savage Tides 10 - Tides of Dread

With 30 days until the Crimson Fleet arrives, the PCs began to improve the colony itself. The harbor was booby trapped and defensive structures were built. The Wall was strengthened and the militia expanded and better trained. Scouts maintained a vigilant watch to ensure the colony would have sufficient warning before the Fleets arrival.

The PCs expected the Pirates to attempt a direct assault on the harbor and so had the Jade Ravens guarding the rear and side gates.

The Crimson Fleet arrived almost exactly on schedule . Everyone had time to take their positions before the battle began. Bytor and McDougal assumed command of a Trebuchet on each side of the Harbor opening. As the Fleet approached, one of the 6 ships split off and began to sail to the south around the island as the other five continued forward and began to exchange siege weapon fire with the colony.

The outer two Trebuchets were taken out by Fireballs originating from one of the pirate ships. Bytor abandoned his position to join with his team mates on the beach but McDougal opted to stay. As the Pirates began disembarking into longboats for the assault, McDougal prepared his spell that would catch many of them in a whirlpool. The tactic succeeded and many of the pirates caught in the whirl pool drowned while the rest were trapped outside of the harbor entrance.

More siege fire was exchanged but before long the ammunition was expended and a standoff resulted. Four Flesh golems rose out of the surf and began dismantling the beach defenses. Meanwhile, McDougal sneaked aboard the pirate ship containing the Fireball caster. He was quickly confronted by 5 human looking pirates but began to question things when they attacked him with slam attacks and bites. The "human" pirate wizard targeted him with more fire spells and McDougal was forced to withdraw. Realizing that the whirlpool was not going away anytime soon, the main pirate landing group rowed off to another landing point.

As he arrived on the beach he assisted the rest of the party in taking out the golem trash leaving the harbor once again secure.

A signal was sent from the side gate and the PCs rushed over to find the Jade Raven locked in combat with 40+ pirates.  Between the two groups of heroes the pirates didn't last long however more foes entered the battle. Four Vrocks flew over head and began to dance. Two rounds passed with the PCs feeling rather impotent having no effective ranged attack modes (Trevain the Wizard was MIA), fortunately the Jade Raven proved they are not completely useless and downed one of the Vrocks. Furious that their dance was interrupted they charged the two groups of PCs. Much Carnage was unleashed but eventually the heroes stood triumphant.

Another winged humanoid flew over the village and landed near the Mayornenshi and Vanderboren manors. The heroes were at first hesitant to investigate knowing that the main body of pirates had yet to arrive but after hearing screams, decided to help.

The Vanderboren manor's door had been ripped from its hinges and one of the servants lay unconscious in the door way. Moving inside quickly they found Lavinia squared off with some demonic creature. The PCs quickly realized that this thing was once Lavinia's brother Vanthus.

Vanthus tried to compel the PCs to leave but they managed to throw off the Suggestion and the battle began. Vanthus was pretty nasty but against 4 PCs and Lady Lavinia he didn't have a chance. Just before his death he pulled a fist sized Black Pearl from his pocket, smeared his blood on it and then wished the PCs to Hell as he dropped the floor.

All of the PCs dove for it and all missed it save for Isis who had to spend a Hero Point to reroll his reflex save to catch it. Vanthus tried to Sunder the Pearl but Isis was able to protect it. McDougal stabbed Vanthus and finished him off.

At this point the remaining pirates called for a retreat and in their haste left two of the ships behind including the ship Vanthus was captaining, the Brine Harlot.

The colony of Farhsore survived relatively intact. Only a few building were damaged by siege weapons and only a dozen or so colonists lost their lives - mainly Trebuchet crews.

With the colony defended from the pirates, Farshore's future must now be decided.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Savage Tide 9 - Tides of Dread

I've been distracted so this post is a bit late but here goes:

The PCs arrived at long last in Farshore only to find it aflame. The natives dropped everyone off on the beach and then paddled away quickly not wanting to get involved. The description of the scene laid out several encounters that largely involved pirates running amuck killing colonists and burning buildings. Isis first rescued Tilde Swenten from a burning building. Next, the colony's alchemist, Hervik Aldwattle was laying on the beach bleeding out so Bytor healed him up.

A melee broke out at the burning church between several pirates and the PCs but the pirates went down pretty easily. The pirate leader was standing by the well killing anyone who came near and preventing the colonists from forming a bucket brigade to extinguish the fires. He hit pretty hard but Slipknot Pete died just like the other pirates and the PCs got the flames extinguished.

As the smoke cleared, Lavinia, the Jade Ravens and Lord Manthalay Mayornenshi. Lord Manthaly is Avner's uncle and wasn't initially happy to see him. Manthalay provided leadership to the colony in the Vanderboren's absence and is less than happy at Lavinia's attempts to take back control. The Jade raven's were unhappy with the way Lavinia introduced the PCs to the colony as "saviours of the colony" since they had battled the pirates as well.

One of the pirates had been captured alive and after being charmed was interrogated. He explained that the pirates were third party contractors for the Crimson fleet and mostly they collected exotic animals and shipped them back to civilization for sale. They had been told to scout the colony for a coming attack by the Crimson Fleet but seeing it so poorly defended, Pete got greedy and attacked.

Lefty the pirate warned everyone not to be around when the pirates arrived which should be in about 60 days. After some discussions the decision was made to try and defend the colony. A long list of potential improvements was drawn up and the PCs decided that the first order of business was to recover their ship - the Sea Wyvern. Lavinia made the Blue Nixie and the colony's carpenter available but first they would need more pitch. This tarry substance was normally acquired from the natives but lately it had been unavailable.  The PCs decided to visit the natives to aquire more tar and ask for their assistance in the coming battle as well.

The smaller villages refused to help unless the village of Tanaroa assisted as well. Tanaroa was the largest of the native settlements and was located at the great wall. The prestige of guarding the wall gave the village leadership in the loose native confederacy.

Upon arriving in Tanaroa, the PCs found a religious ceremony underway. The native were chanting around a burning effigy of a bat-like creature. The effigy came to life, threatened the village if the stolen idol was not returned. To back-up its threat, a far off volcano began to erupt. The PCs immediately began to wonder if the strange idol they found on their journey to the Isle of Dread might be the stolen idol in question. The natives confirmed their suspicion and after appeasing the natives suspicions that the PCs were the thieves, the villagers offered to provide guides to the Temple of Zotzilaha.

Upon entering the Temple, the Avatar of Zotzilaha immediately attacked them. Iowa the Bard displayed the idol to the Avatar and it ceased to attack them. The avatar opened a secret chamber and commanded the PCs to place the idol within. For returning the stolen idol, it offered each PC a treasure from the room. The avatar spotted a rolled up leather strip and commanded the PCs to take the strip and its contents with them as it was not a sanctified offering to Zotzilaha. Wrapped in the strip was a pointy tooth - a fang. Trevain suspected that the magic item was in fact an artifact. They took it with them and left.

With the villagers appeased, the PCs proceeded to the tar pits. The villagers warned them that a large dinosaur had taken up residence in the area and was preventing anyone or anything from collecting tar. At the Pits they found a large Tyrannosaurus Rex  chasing a bunch of small creatures that looked like a cross between Rocket Racoon and the lemurs from Madagascar - the Phanaton.

Trevain charmed the enormous beast thinking it would be perfect to use to defend the colony from pirates. The problem was they had no way to control it. No one had any skill at handling animals and no one had any magic for the job. After spending a great deal of time trying to come up with a solution they ended up killing it.

The Phanaton were thrilled that the tar pits were once again clear of large threats and offered to take the PC back to their village for a feast. The PCs knowing a plot hook when they hear one accepted and journeyed with the small creatures. Along the way to their Ewok tree house, they were ambushed by strange creatures called Skinwalkers that had not been seen in this part of the island in many years. The remaining Phanaton introduced the PCs to their tribe and told the PCs a tale of the Rakastas, the sister race of the Skinwalkers.
The Rakastas were a peaceful race of jaguarfolk and battled their corrupted brethren. The Skinwalkers continued to grow in power and eventually drove the Rakastas to extinction. The Phanaton were pretty sure that the Rakastas had created a weapon depot to battle their evil cousins but never had the chance to use it. Perhaps the PCs would be interested in it.

The PCs found the temple and it was largely unguarded. Only a Coatl remained, it she only long enough to tell the tale of the Rakastas and encouraged the PCs to take the treasures of the now vanquished Rakastas and use them to fight evil.

The PCs took the choicest weapons for themselves and then arranged with the colony for the rest to be transported back as well as confirmed that there was now enough pitch available to repair their ship.

The Blue Nixie set for towards the wreck of the Sea Wyvern. She carefully maneuvered through the reefs until she pulled up close to the Sea Wyvern, still trapped on the reef. A battle with an aquatic creature known as a Kopru broke out but the PCs were able to slay it and claim its treasure - a Headband of Wisdom +4, that it was creating.

A week of hard work and the Sea Wyvern was seaworthy again. The two ships set sail and returned to Farshore with 4 weeks remaining until the pirates are due to arrive.