Skyless City: Session 17 – Welcome to Heaven

In third and final season of our Jadepunk campaign, our heroes have moved to the upper-class Tengoku District, still looking for a way to strike at the corrupt Governor who controls Kausao; but following a kidnapping they make a surprise discovery about the nature of the threat to the city.

Continue reading

How I use Fronts in my Jadepunk Game

Recently I chatted on-air with James Chambers about the organisational aid called Fronts that is featured in the various ‘powered by the apocalypse’ games (Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, Tremulus, etc) and how they could be used in other games to help a GM organise their plots and keep track of what is going on. You can find the video here:

You can also find more about Fronts and how they work specifically here: http://www.dungeonworldsrd.com/fronts

Essentially a Front is a GM tool where you create adventure and campaign fronts, each of which features a number of dangers (opponents, hazardous lairs etc), an impending doom (how the world will be changed for the worst if the plot reaches it’s conclusion) and grim portents (events that occur as your campaign progresses to move your plot forward). Each of the PbtA games offers a number of different potential dangers (related to their theme and type of game) and sample moves or actions for those dangers to take.

For example: An oppressive government might have “kidnap an enemy” as one of their potential moves.

This great as a GM tool because it allows you to create your fronts and have them written down for easy reference, the abbreviated form forces you to think about what is important for this particular plot rather than going OTT and writing hundreds of pages that don’t end up getting used and also any time you have a spare moment or a lull in your game you can have a look at the list of moves for the dangers on your Fronts and use one or more of them to move the plot along.

 

I think Fronts are a great way of GMs keeping track of their information and it is a technique that I have taken to using in most games that I run; below are some examples of Fronts used in my currently running Jadepunk game.

If you are one of my players then please do not read this until after the game has concluded.


 

Campaign Front

  • The 13th Governor’s plans for Kausao.

Dangers

13th Governor (warlord, dictator (Apoc World), impulse: to control)
Impending doom – Tyranny (creating a world government with Kausao at the head)
Grim portents:
1 – Uses Windrider crash to justify more draconian laws.
2 – Recruits volunteers to create a new organisation ‘The All-Seeing Eye’, building a new facility on the site of the old Council of Nine building.
3 – Marries Kaiyu Misake, Empress of the Kaiyu Nation.
4 – Uses black jade clockwork and allies to take control of Aerum Nation.
5 – With two of the major nations behind it Kausao becomes the new capital of the world, Governor declares himself Emperor with the head of each nation serving as his viceroys.

Isaku Sota/Sota Family (grotesque (Apoc World)-crave mastery, impulse: to create a clockwork empire)
Impending doom – Pestilence (the replacement of weak flesh with machinery, and the rise of clockwork over primitive biology)
Grim portents:
1 – Provides clockwork warriors in return for access to black jade.
2 – Performs horrible experiments in an attempt to understand black jade.
3 – Manages to create the worlds first “synthetic jade” blood jade.
4 – Discovers a way of using blood jade to create intelligent clockwork creatures.
5 – Sota’s clockwork warriors forcibly convert their creator into a clockwork creature like themselves, he becomes the Iron King.

Kaiyu Misake (impulse: absorb those in power & grow)
Impending doom – Tyranny (ensuring that the Kaiyu nation (and herself personally) become one of the pre-eminent world powers)
Grim portents:
1 – Misake becomes Empress of the Kaiyu Empire following her father’s death.
2 – Brings Kaiyu navy to Kausao to support her husband, becomes a devout follower of a deviant sect of the Way of Suffering.
3 – Calls upon Kaiyu allies to help overthrow the Aerum Empire.
4 – Begins to host lavish parties for nobles, encouraging debauchery and that they take joy in their exalted status.
5 – Is given control of the All Seeing Eye, Kausao becomes a place where no-one dare speak out against the Governor or Misake lest they be arrested by the secret police and enslaved to one of Misake’s Sybarite dens.


Adventure Front

  • The Aerum War on Kausao

Dangers

Kausao Government (ambitious organisation, impulse: maintain the status quo)
Impending doom – Usurpation (replacing the current Aerum regime with one more sympathetic to Kausao)
Grim portents:
1 – Isaku Sota presents the Governor with mechanised armour for his soldiers (adapted from his own clockwork armour).
2 – Using the mechanised armour the Governor launches a full scale assault (backed by the Kaiyu) on the airship fleet.
3 – The Kaiyu are unaware that a group of Shadow Warriors were dispatched to the Aerum Nation as soon as the Governor received word of their potential dissatisfaction; the Shadow Warriors strike and kill Aerum Koji the ruler of the nation.
4 – Using agents in the Aerum government a puppet ruler who follows Kausao’s lead is chosen; he then requests the assistance of Kausao in putting down rebels.
5 – Governor sends mech-armoured troops to back up his puppet ruler, Aerum nation now becomes a satrapy of Kausao.

Aerum Koji/Aerum Nation (Horde, impulse: to grow stronger and overcome all resistance in Kausao)
Impending doom – Tyranny (annexing Kausao and making it a province of the Aerum Empire)
Grim portents:
1 – Aerum Koji realises that Governor is moving to a pro-Kaiyu stance and realises that the Windrider incident was designed to disgrace their nation as a prelude to most overt hostile actions by the Governor.
2 – When word of the wedding is received Koji dispatches an assault airfleet to demand the Governor stands down.
3 – Airfleet come under attack from the Kaiyu Navy and the Governor’s forces, eventually they are defeated by the new mech-armoured troops.
4 – When word of Koji’s assassination occurs and word of his replacement reaches the airfleet many of them realise that the Aerum Nation belongs to Kausao, and rather than give in they take their ships and retreat into neutral lands becoming rebels and hoping to one day free their homeland.
5 –

Uddoratto Syndicate (ambitious organisation, impulse: to infest from within/take by subterfuge)
Impending doom – Impoverishment (seeking to prolong the conflict so that they can get maximum profit out of it)
Grim portents:
1 – The original plan was for the Kausao forces to wait until they were fired upon first, a member of the Uddoratto accidentally ordered a bombardment from the Kaiyu navy to begin.
2 – Uddoratto members attempt to leak plans for the mech-armour to the Aerum forces.
3 – During the chaos looting is widespread, many of the goods stolen fall into Uddoratto hands or are fenced by them.
4 – When the Aerum are defeated, it is a member of the Uddorratto Syndicate who is elected to rule the country on the Governor’s behalf.
5 – Under their rulership the Aerum Empire becomes a dark place ruled by bandit lords and brigands.


 

 

Jadepunk ready made stat blocks

For those of you who may not be aware, i’m a massive fan of the Fate system by Evil Hat Productions in particular Fate Accelerated Edition is the build of the game that is my go to game when wanting to run a quick one-shot or even just a game that players can jump into quickly and enjoy getting caught up in playing the characters they envision rather than getting snarled up in overly complex character creations processes and hundreds of pages of complex rules.
Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE for short) using six Approaches to define the stats of characters (instead of Skills as with Fate Core), choosing to define character less by what they know and what they do but more by how they do it, these Approaches are:
  • Careful
  • Clever
  • Flashy
  • Forceful
  • Quick
  • Sneaky

(If you want to know more about Fate Accelerated you can find details on the excellent SRD site here: http://fate-srd.com/fate-accelerated-fae-menu)

One of the things I love about FAE is that right at the start it gives you six example spreads of Approaches to create six archetypal characters:

  • The Brute:
    Forceful +3, Careful and Flashy +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Clever +0
  • The All-Star:
    Quick +3, Forceful and Flashy +2, Clever and Careful +1, Sneaky +0
  • The Trickster:
    Clever +3, Sneaky and Flashy +2, Forceful and Quick +1, Careful +0
  • The Guardian:
    Careful +3, Forceful and Clever +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Flashy +0
  • The Thief:
    Sneaky +3, Careful and Quick +2, Clever and Flashy +1, Forceful +0
  • The Swashbuckler:
    Flashy +3, Quick and Clever +2, Forceful and Sneaky +1, Careful +0

These samples spreads are a great time saving device if you are playing a quick pick up game or you just want to jump straight in, you pick the type of character you want to play, bang on some Aspects and Stunts and you’re good to go.

So you might be wondering why i’m banging on about Fate Accelerated when the title of the post mentions Jadepunk; well recently i’ve been running a Jadepunk game using Google Hangouts for a small group (you can see the actual plays here if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMlEyLAkrE__EfHHAfYIIekLdh4qwJxOK) and it seems to be going quite well, we’re on our ninth session. For those of you who aren’t aware Jadepunk is a game by Re-Roll Productions that uses a slightly tweaked of the Fate rules to tell exciting stories that blend elements of Wuxia, the wild west and steampunk fantasy into a very compelling and exciting setting full of potential for great storytelling; Jadepunk uses a number of Professions rather than Approaches or Skills to define characters:

  • Aristocrat
  • Engineer
  • Explore
  • Fighter
  • Scholar
  • Scoundrel

However there’s one thing that isn’t in Jadepunk that i’d have liked to have seen, yep you guessed it, the example stats spreads that are found in Fate Accelerated Edition; you could argue that they’re not really necessary and (truth be told) I don’t think the game suffers massively from their absence, however they are a handy thing to have access to so i’ve come up with six archetypal character Profession spreads for you to use in your Jadepunk game:

  • The Honourable Warrior/Samurai:
    Aristocrat +2, Engineer +0, Explorer +1, Fighter +3, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1
  • The Jadetech Engineer:
    Aristocrat +1, Engineer +3, Explorer +2, Fighter +0, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1
  • The Idle Noble:
    Aristocrat +3, Engineer +0, Explorer +1, Fighter +1, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +2
  • The Sage:
    Aristocrat +2, Engineer +1, Explorer +2, Fighter +0, Scholar +3, Scoundrel +1
  • The Thief/Shadowy Assassin:
    Aristocrat +0, Engineer +1, Explorer +2, Fighter +2, Scholar +1, Scoundrel +3
  • The Pioneer/Explorer:
    Aristocrat +0, Engineer +1, Explorer +3, Fighter +2, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1 

     

[RPG] Jadepunk Character Sheets

Some small alterations have taken place on the characters getting them ready for the first session (I tend to allow players to make minor alterations to their character sheets up until the third session), below are the current backgrounds and character sheets that we have.
Ba Tu Satoru
The man who would be known as Ba Tu Satoru was the son of the sculptor Yutaka Kazami. When he was a small boy, he made a friend at school, whose father was Isaku Jirou. One day, the fathers collaborated in a contest run by one of the council of 9, the goal was to present to them the greatest clockwork sculpture (fame and fortune as the reward). Kazami, being a sculptor by trade, lacked skill at engineering and making clockwork, while Jirou was poor at aesthetics, but they worked together to cover each other’s faults. Additionally, since his father’s eyesight began to fail, Ba Tu would help Kazami by working on the finer details of the sculptures for him, though everyone else believed that he was just there to watch.
On the last day of the contest, Jirou betrayed Kazami. He made his own son stop Kazami’s son from trying to help his father. Jirou’s son, while crying and begging for forgiveness, bound his best friend’s wrists and legs and went into Jirou ‘s hideout with him. Jirou locked him in, until he could come back .Meanwhile, Kazami killed Jirou in a rage and then fled the city, abandoning the search for his son. Since Jirou could not arrive back to release Ba Tu after the completion the boy began to starve in his prison.
Ba Tu would have eventually died, had it not been for the chance arrival of Dogen Hōinbō, a blind professional assassin who just happened to be passing by at the time with his dog Kuro, who noticed the pair. Hōinbō saved the boy and took him in. The trauma caused by his near-death experience left him unable to recall much from before his rescue.
Sora Yoshida
Born to a Naramel nomadic tribe called the Red Talons Sora Yoshida spent his child hood years hunting for red jade out in the desert wastes with his family. Educated by the elders of his tribe Sora, became accustomed to the traditions and beliefs of the old gods, the pursuit of virtue.
While navigating the dune sea Sora came across a long abandoned village, uncovered by the erratic winds that trap the unwary. Upon approach an airship crashed into the village with a thunderous roar, not unlike laughter to Sora’s ears. Racing to search for survivors, only one is found close to death and covered in strange, almost animated tattoos. 
Before Sora could react the man grabs him by both fore arms and whispers to him, “My time is at an end but yours is just beginning, you have been chosen for a great task, Sora and I am afraid a difficult burden”.
The deserts are no place for children, so unlike the other clans Naramel’s youngsters grow up fast, usually gaining a hard survivalists edge. Sora already had enough problems with the weird dreams and compulsions that seemed separate from his own. He had though the incident at the abandoned village was a nightmare he had dreamt up until the incident at grey tower trading post. He had been unpacking satchels of red jade to be bartered for provisions when he suddenly found himself involved in a dispute with a water merchant and the local militia. 
With a strength that seemed beyond him he threw the guards into the fortified town wall.
To prevent his execution for this folly his clan smuggled him out and sent him to a distant relative in Kausao city.  There he confided in what would become his mentor about what he had witnessed, He believed the solution was to honour the old gods through an ancient series of traditional dances. Secretly also a martial art Sora spent several years practicing and perfecting this tradition. That is until his mentor’s temple is shut down by corrupt law enforcement cracking down upon any form of martial arts.
This leads Sora to end up coming into contact with the City’s less savoury characters in order to survive.  
In return for a favour owed Sora was able to learn something of his “condition” from a contraband book. It tells various tales of the land, some familiar to him while others totally alien. The tale of the laughing emperor was particularly interesting. It spoke of a legend of a man who managed to imprison a powerful spirit referred to as a djinn whose magic came from magical ink that adorned its body. Forced to aid in the creation of an empire, when the mocking emperor made a grave error in insulting the creature wishing it could stop him if he could, knowing that spirit could no directly lay a hand upon his owner. The djinn in retribution sacrificed itself into a thousand shards reportedly imbuing individuals who come into contact with them with the power to fight tyranny. 
A small faded illustration of a man bearing remarkable tattoos not dissimilar to Sora’s own was also provided. Most interesting was the bracelet the sketched described as being the way in which this dangerous legacy can be used. 
To find this item if possible and learn to control his tattoos Sora decides the time has come to fight back.
Kaiyu Yuuto



Background TBC

[Actual Play] Skyless City – Session 1

This is the first session of our new Jadepunk campaign, it finds our heroes aboard a sabotaged Aerum airship plummeting towards Kausao, perhaps our heroes weren’t the only ones attempting to take advantage of the Governor’s aerial tour of the city? But can they allow the massive collateral damage that the airship crash will cause?