3Brothers: The Kingdom of Al Mamlakah

My FLGS Spirit Games runs a yearly convention at our local town hall called Beer & Pretzels, it’s quite informal with plenty of board games and the like to be borrowed from the games library that can be played over the day, it has a cool relaxed atmosphere, both myself and my wife Hannah have been going for a number of years.

This year, since I’ve been enjoying my 3Brothers D&D 5E campaign that I’m running online so much, I decided to run a one-shot set in a different area of the campaign world, getting the players to help further define a different area of the world. I’ve put out a call to people that I know and will hopefully have my wife, a long-time friend of ours and a couple of my regular 3Brothers players coming down for the weekend and joining in with this one-shot.

After canvassing their opinion we’ve landed on the idea of a desert kingdom ruled by a dynasty of elemental-blooded Pharoahs, drawing inspiration heavily from Ancient Egypt; below is a map of where this kingdom (that I have called Al Mamlakah) fits into my world map of Talamh.

screenshot

I’m planning to get the players to help me define this desert kingdom more when they get down here but I’ve drafted out a rough framework and some character generation options (drawing on the Elemental Evil Players Handbook and some other resources I found on the internet) in a handout:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuUjl5RThPemR2NWc/view?usp=sharing

I hope to post a written report of the session after it has taken place, I’ll also add the report as an adventure log to my obsidian portal site.

Post LARP post

Aside

Well i’m sure you’ll have noticed that all’s been quiet on the Red Dice blogging front for the past few days; that’s because i’ve been indulging in the other aspect of the roleplaying hobby that I enjoy, namely LARP. For those of you who may not be aware of LARP (or LRP as it’s sometime’s called), it stands for Live Action Role-Play and is basically a group of people who act out or physical represent the action of a roleplay game (to some degree or other depending on the system). Now I first remember hearing about LARP when I was reading the second edition Vampire the Masquerade rulebook; it talked about the possibility of acting out some more conversational scenes but didn’t really include any rules or much in the way of suggestions how to do that so I didn’t really think much of it.

The next exposure I had to LARP was when I was mooching around my FLGS Spirit Games and heard someone discussing a Minds Eye Theatre Vampire game that was going at the nearby station hotel; being really into the Masquerade at the time I went along and for the duration of that game I enjoyed playing various vampires, first in a Sabbat game run by a good friend of mine and then later in other various games. Mind’s Eye Theatre is a game where you act out what your character is doing but whenever combat or anything occurs there is a system (normally based on rock-paper-scissors) that takes over; this is a bit of a compromise and puts MET halfway between tabletop and LARP to my mind, the advantage being you can run it in much smaller surroundings and more cheaply without having to worry about insurance or anything (since it’s none contact) but on the other side games (especially combat heavy games) can get really bogged down and it can take ages to resolve a large combat.

That’s not to say that MET cannot be enjoyable, I still play in a Werewolf: the Apocalypse game that I very much enjoy and have run a Hunter: the Reckoning game in the past where I tried to bridge the gap between contact LARP and MET, I don’t think the experiment was without it’s flaws but the people who played in the game seemed to enjoy it.

I play in a couple of contact LARP systems, the Outcast system (which I help crew and very much enjoy) and the Lorien Trust system (where I play a type of fey known as a redcap); these systems actually have a contact based combat system where foam latex weapons with solid cores are used. The Lorien Trust runs four main events in the UK, two in May and two in August, i’ve just got back from the second May event, known as the Great Edrejan Fayre (previously the Heartland Games); the premise for the event is basically a fantasy world version of the olympics where the various nations of the fictional world gather together and compete in different games. I’m not really into the games themselves TBH personally, although I certainly don’t begrudge the people who enjoy them, so the GEF is normally a fairly quiet event for me, sort of a “rest event.”

This event got off to a fairly slow start but on the second day everything to get much busier; I few of the highlights for me were:

  • Oberron king of the Fey visiting the mortal plane.
  • Getting to do some more diplomacy (my character being a diplomat for our faction).
  • Swearing fealty to Arcadia and the two newly elected fey princes (one seelie, one unseelie).
  • Accompanying a group back to my IC home the Everwood to locate a mute fey’s missing memories.
  • Having another player redcap fill me in on what he has found out about our races history and being able to potentially help out with that.

This brings me to one of the fundamental conflicts I have when it comes to contact LARP systems, by nature i’m not a particularly physically active person and to a great extent contact LARPs rely on your OOC abilities (for example: i’m not a fast runner so i’m never going to play some incredibly athletic character); given that I don’t have enough money to do LARP and other holidays, live-action events double as my holidays so I at least want to relax a little bit. I do normally come away from events feeling like I enjoyed it but that I could have done more during the event if only i’d been a bit more awake or more motivated.

That said, i’m working on motivating myself more and had an excellent time at the GEF, i’m part of a group of beastkin, urucks and fey called Squad D, and I always enjoy hanging around with my friends, also really enjoying my redcap character; hoping to start delving a bit more into the racial background of the fey as time goes forward.

I also tend to die a lot at LARPs and so i’ve always got half an eye to my next character, currently I have two in the pipeline, a dwarf and a dark-elf but i’m hoping to survive for a while as my current character since i’m really enjoying that at the moment.

Perhaps I just need to take more energy drinks to LARP? 😉

Beer & Pretzels 2015

Every year my FLGS Spirit Games hosts a gaming convention at the local town hall called Beer & Pretzels; I normally have a wander down each year and this year was no exception, after trundling down to the store to buy Age of Rebellion myself and Hannah (my lovely wife) headed back to the town hall and stopped in.

There is normally far more wargaming and boardgaming than RP that goes on at the convention, it’s good fun if you love those things, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, my wargaming years are far behind me and i’ve never really been one for boardgames; the idea of spending hours allocating resources and pushing playing pieces around a board may be some peoples idea of fun (and if you love that stuff, go for it, have fun) but to me it sounds like being trapped in some unfathomable level of hell (that’s right i’m looking at you Settlers of Catan). However today I was feeling decidely chipper with an excellent one-shot of Edge of Empire under my belt, a great number of energy drinks quaffed and the prospect of purchasing a copy of Age of Rebellion in the near future, so my wife persuaded me to give some boardgames a go.

I must say that in the few hours we spent there I actually had a great deal of time, perhaps my previous grumblings about board/card games (except Battlestar Galactica and Family Business, those games are ace) were unfounded, or rather only applied to a few games in particular.

librium 2First of all we played a game called Librium, it’s basically a cool variant on Jenga, where you put cards with slots into a centre card mounted on a magnet (normally stuck on a bottle top or from a pendulum, we bought a set that comes in a can serving as the base – well cool); we actually met the creator there and also spoke to him the previous year, very nice bloke and he gave me a complimentary clear plastic laser-cut keyring which is has now proudly taken it’s place on my big bunch of keys (love a freebie).

 

We then went on to play a game called Trax which is all about building the longest line of your colour out of tiles in an eight-by-eight grid, i’m sad to say that this game looked a lot more fun than it turned out to be; originally it looked like there was a limit on the types of patterns you had on your tiles but it turned out each one was double sided and had the same design. It was an interesting concept but not one I’ll be racing back to revisit.

Myself and Hannah then returned this game to the extensive lending library of games that is provided at Beer & Pretzels (a great feature of the convention that, whilst not possible at larger cons, does make B&P stand out) and pulled out a game called Forbidden Island.

Forbidden Island turned out to be an excellent co-op game where you race as a team (playing randomly dealt character each with a special ability) to collect four mysterious treasures and escape in a helicopter as the island sinks around you. This was a great fun game, simple to understand that we played a number of times, the first we escaped with a sizable time margin, the second we lost because in the first couple of turns Hannah’s character drowned as the part of the island she stood on sank and, if a character goes out of the game then it’s game over. Our friend Guy turned up just as we were about to pack the game away so we had another game, this time missing out by the narrowest of margins, the helipad sinking as we ran towards it; although we’d lost we reversed that turn and did things slightly differently (christening it a ‘directors cut alternate ending’) to see if we could’ve won. Turns out we could have, but I suppose that’s the benefit of hindsight.

Another cool thing was one of my friends from LARP, Andrea turning up and say hello so that was cool; unfortunately Hannah had work to do and I was itching to read some Starwars goodness so we heading home at about 5pm.

Overall a very enjoyable day and, if you’re ever in the Burton area of the UK around this time of year I highly recommend you give Beers & Pretzels a look.

 

Star Trek Hack: Skill list

Okay, the first thing I want to look at in my attempt to create a Star Trek hack is the skill list; in Fate Core the skill list is at the centre of the game, it is your skills that affect your stress boxes (the amount of damage that you can take in combat) and determine how likely (or unlikely) you are to succeed at a task.
This is the default Fate Core skill list:

  • Athletics
  • Burglary
  • Contacts
  • Crafts
  • Deceive
  • Drive
  • Empathy
  • Fight
  • Investigate
  • Lore
  • Notice
  • Physique
  • Provoke
  • Rapport
  • Resources
  • Shoot
  • Stealth
  • Will
When I asked Simon (who i’m writing the hack for) how specific he wanted the skill list to be in the trek hack his response was:

Vehicles will be done I think best by general type Star ship, Shuttle, Aircraft, Ground vehicle & I would use an edge to reflect greater skill in a particular vehicle of a given type.


With this in mind i’ve looked at how I can add a few skills onto the list to make it more appropriate for a science-fiction setting without adding too many additional skills; this has mainly come down to splitting some skills like drive, shoot and lore into specific skills.
Then it occurred to me that it would probably be easier (rather than starting from scratch) to look for an existing science-fiction skill list online and then trim it down/expand it to meet the needs of the trek hack; with this in mind I turned to the Disapora SRD skill list (which I had already used as a basis for my 40K hack some time ago).
  • Athletics – physical agility.
  • Brawling (combat) – bare fist fighting.
  • Deceive – convincing people that a lie is the truth.
  • Intimidation
  • Investigate – examining clues and searching for solutions to problems.
  • Notice – spotting things, general alertness.
  • Profession: <choice> – choose a profession to use for this skill; some appropriate professions are listed below:
    • Command officer
    • Communications officer
    • Engineering officer
    • Pilot
    • Science officer
  • Rapport – relating to others socially.
  • Stamina – how tough the character is (affects physical stress track).
  • Stealth – sneaking, thievery, etc
  • Survival – surviving in the wilderness, roughing it.
  • Vehicle – driving (non-space) vehicles.
  • Weaponry (guns) – knowledge of how to use and maintain weaponry of the appropriate type.
  • Weaponry (melee) – knowledge of how to use and maintain weaponry of the appropriate type.
  • Will – how strong of will the character is (affects the mental stress track).

Fate: Boldly going where no-one has gone before…

For those of you who aren’t aware I play in a small (1 GM + 3 players inc. myself), very interesting Star Trek inspired game run by my friend Simon at our FLGS Spirit Games; the game is set in a pre-Enterprise (the series) era and involves the players being the crew of an earth experimental ship built to test out new technologies. In the first session we were conducting tests on an experimental warp drive that effectively created a stable wormhole through which a ship could pass rather than folding space the way I believe a standard Star Trek warp drive does (although I may be wrong, although I enjoy Star Trek, i’m not the font of knowledge where it is concerned).
In a plot reminiscent of Star Voyager (although as Simon pointed out “Without the rubbish all-powerful alien bit in it”) something went wrong during the testing of the experimental drive and a motley crew of scientists, engineers and communications officers found ourselves hurtling through the galaxy at ridiculously high speeds, facing the prospect of eventually starving to death if we couldn’t find a way to de-activate the drive, which seemed to be emitting an energy field that barred access to it. Eventually we managed to use the point defence lasers on the testbed ship to damage the drive enough so that we could de-activate it without splattering ourselves over whatever quadrant we happened to be in.
As the game stands at the moment (about 3/4 sessions in) we find ourselves in a strange area of space where a human-like species called the Destroyers are waging a genocidal war against all other species in the area; giving that these Destroyers are human-like (and may possibly be descended from the earth population, although they have evolved separately since) we feel a certain responsibility and have decided to stay and try to help resolve the problem with them. Given that the Destroyers are extremely unreasonable and see their attempt to wipe out an alien life as some sort of holy crusade this means that we have effectively pitched our testbed ship into a war, and are now trying to weld together an alliance of the Talansidry, Athlar and other species we have encountered to deal with the Destroyers.
So what does this have to do with Fate?

Well, when we originally started Simon was going to use the BRP system from Chaosium (made famous in Call of Cthulhu and other games); however, without really having a lot of prep time due to the spectre of real-life interfering with roleplay preparation (the way it is wont to do from time to time) it hasn’t been possible for him to get the game ready for using the BRP system.
Given that I spend so much of my time banging on about Fate, Simon has volunteered me to write a quick and simple Fate hack for the game; this is a task that I was happy to undertake, especially since i’ve already done a Fate Core science-fiction hack (Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader), albeit of a very different sub-genre.
Before I even started to look at creating a hack I plan to send Simon a few questions so I can be sure that the hack does what he wants, the questions are below (Simon’s answers are noted in blue):
  • How detailed do you want the list of skills to be? For example, are you happy with just having a pilot skill or would you prefer a pilot skill for different vehicles?

Vehicles will be done I think best by general type Star ship, Shuttle, Aircraft, Ground vehicle & I would use an edge to reflect greater skill in a particular vehicle of a given type.

  • How detailed do you want the handling of equipment to be? Would you prefer each bit of equipment to be noted down and have an effect are are you happy to hand-wave this and focus on just major pieces that have a plot impact?

Largely yes, as it’s the narrative which matters most, however equipment will be listed by name as most of it permits use of skills in a way an unequipped character just cant. For example a perception check with a tricorder or equivalent will allow the character to see stuff his unaided eye would never notice at all. Same goes for the ships sensors scanners and computers used in analysis and research.
Weapons would work in a bit more detail as no one wants their character killed by gm’s fiat however its axiomatic to the setting that weapons are designed to kill and do so rather well especially the higher tech ones. This is one of the reasons for the seeti8ng emphasis on resolving conflict by negotiation.

  • How much detail do you want to put into space battles and the like? Are these just going to be handled narratively or do you want solid rules for them (either is not a problem)?
Space battles I would do most of them narratively with success or failure at skill checks where requested driving the narrative in a particular direction. 
With these answers gathered i’m about ready to start work on the hack.