16 August 2013

No good deed goes unpunished.

I recently mentioned how I had started an Open RPG Night in my city and that each week a random assortment of gamers assemble to play an arbitrarily chosen game. Last week that game was Dungeon World and this week a group of (mostly) different people chose to play Apocalypse World.

This time around I wasn't in the GM's seat and I got to flex my player muscles for the first time in, oh, about six months. And boy did I ever flex those muscles. In less than ten minutes I had put together a chopper named Domino, a man that was best described as a greasy, overweight "leatherdaddy". What can I say? There's just something about Apocalypse World that makes me want to play a sadistic gang leader.

While I was busy bringing Domino to life, the GM had whipped up a zombie apocalypse scenario and the other two players had finished making their Battlebabe (Jayed) and Brainer (Sin). The other two players didn't have a clue how nasty a character Domino would turn out to be. For that matter, neither did I.

Domino and Jayed got off to a bad start before the game even began, with Jayed ending up with some Hx (history) with Domino that had placed them at odds in the past. Domino has a good memory and like any gang leader, he holds grudges. Jayed, on the other hand, was a wasteland hero. You know, the kind of guy that helps people out and has the everyone's best interests in mind. The kind of guy whose naivety gets someone killed. Sin, well what can you say about a Brainer? Domino and Jayed knew nothing about him and he knew everything about us.

Things started rolling with Jayed returning to town after having found a farm, a farm riddled with undead. Where there is a farm there is a food and Sunset Mall, our little community, was desperately in need of food. So where does Jayed turn to get the firepower he needs to clear out those zombies? None other than yours truly, violent gang leader and all around bastard. Domino bargained hard, but Jayed was eventually able to convince him to lend his muscle to cleaning out the farm for a sizable portion of the food. Domino fully intended to keep the farm for himself once he and his gang had occupied it, but Jayed didn't need to know that.

Come the next day things got bloody. Domino had a hard time convincing his gang to travel to the farm and leave their motorcycles behind while they moved through rough terrain. He had to crack a few heads and even kill one rebellious upstart before the gang started moving. From there it went smoothly until the gang got to the farm and Jayed decided he knew better than Domino and started issuing orders to the gang. Domino told him to piss off and Jayed ran off to help Sin.

Sin's story was happening alongside everything else. He was nearly always there, hidden and watching and someone had hired him to dive into a specific zombie's brain to find out the location of their child. That zombie was on the farm and when Jayed found him he was grappling with that zombie and about to go down. Ever the hero, Jayed jumped into save his life. Unfortunately there were too many zombies for the two of them to fight and Jayed had to call for backup. Domino heard the call, walked in, blew the zombies apart with his shotgun and walked away to continue overseeing the destruction.

Once the zombies had been cleared out the gang grabbed what food they could and wanted to head back to Sunset Mall. The farm was away from any roads and the gang wanted no part in actually controlling the farm so Domino was willing to let the farm go. Jayed challenged his leadership a few more times, demanding that they leave guards and build defenses. Neither was done and instead Domino started plotting on what to do with Jayed, who had challenged his authority one too many times.

That night Domino visited Sin and convinced him to use his Brainer powers to walk Jayed right into a trap. Sin agreed, perhaps too eagerly, and a deal was struck. The following morning Jayed was captured and beaten within an inch of his life. He put up a good fight, but on one man is no match for fifteen no matter how tough he is. The game ended with Domino dumping Jayed on the outskirts of Sunset Mall and telling him never to return.


  • I was worried that playing an aggressive character like Domino could ruin the night; however, the group I played with made it work and there were no hurt feelings. I think it helped that I didn't push the inter-character conflict until the end of the session so that it didn't distract from the other events.
  • Apocalypse World was a hit with the two players that had never tried anything beyond D&D. This doesn't surprise me, but it is always nice to see players open up to something unfamiliar.
  • Everyone wanted to play AW again and with the same characters. Jayed's player wanted an opportunity to get  his revenge, so I think we will run AW again in the near future with myself as GM and Domino as an NPC villain.

9 August 2013

Indigo Galleons and Sea Ghouls

This is the 'cover' panel of the trifold.

Last week I hosted the first weekly "Open RPG Night" in my city. I did so with the help of my local RPG Meetup group and while RSVPs were sparse at first, they came flying in during the last 24 hours or so.

The group that assembled consisted of myself and one other RPG fanatic as well as a handful people that were dipping their toes into the hobby or had schedules that don't allow for a regular RPG group. We sat down and voted on a game to play and after about ten minutes of deliberation the group decided on Dungeon World. Genius that I am, I had predicted Dungeon World being selected1 and had printed off a copy of each character sheet and the truly excellent Indigo Galleon adventure.

The Indigo Galleon is what I really want to tell you about today. It is one exceptionally well put together adventure from the mind of one John Aegard. It was written for Dungeon World, but any GM worth their salt should be able to use it with their system of choice.2

Why do I think The Indigo Galleon is so great? Let me count the ways:
  1. It fits on a single piece of paper, double sided.
  2. There are no less than 4 different Fronts.
  3. Three different maps (ship, world, dungeon)
  4. Not a single word waster.
  5. Excellent layout.
  6. 100% free.
This adventure is exactly what I look for in a module that I haven't prepared myself. It places all of the pieces I need for a memorable game in front of me and then leaves it up to me to assemble them. There is none of that flipping through pages to find out what happens if the PCs do X or what is in room Y. No, The Indigo Galleon is content to provide you with an environment pregnant with adventure. It gives you a ship full of ghouls, octopus people preparing a ritual to summon a magical beast, a storm, pirates and a pirate captain that has gone missing.

Dungeon World's fronts have been discussed across the Internet at this point and I'm not going to go into detail on why they're great. I will say that The Indigo Galleon implements them exactly how they should be done, something that I rarely see even from other adventures published for Dungeon World. There are four fronts, all of which are progressing at about the same rate. Heroes are going to be torn between crisis and as they reach the end of their tracks it will all come to a glorious head, or at least it did when we played through the adventure.

My Open RPG Night group finished the adventure in about four hours, but we had to rush it a bit near the end so I think a five hour block is needed to truly do the adventure justice. If we had been planning to carry on with a campaign it would have served as an ideal starter, especially given how the adventure ended (with the heroes hiding in caverns from an enormous sea monster from a summoning gone wrong.)

If you want to take The Indigo Galleon for a spin of your own, you can get it for free from John's website.

1 New gamers or gamers coming back into the hobby almost always the most familiar option. It came as no surprise to me that they picked Dungeon World due to its similarities with a certain other fantasy RPG.
2 One of the best things about Dungeon World is that any adventures written for it are practically system agnostic. Monsters and NPCs are primarily described with keywords and phrases and GM moves are essentially just suggestions on how to handle the adventure.

3 August 2013

Chroma Team Revised

Regular readers of this blog may remember that my game, Chroma Team VS The Terrorlights, was a finalist in this year's Game Chef. I received a lot of good feedback and suggestions on the game and this weekend I sat down and started revising the game. You can view the current version of the game here, and I have kept the original Game Chef entry around for those curious about such things.

The revised game grew has grown by almost a thousand words and includes rule clarifications, math fixes and a few less grammar mistakes and typos. Of course, that doesn't account for anywhere near the increased word count. What does? I'm glad you asked.

City Creation

Chroma Team now feature a city creation aspect. During character creation the players will define important locations of the city they are protecting and lay them out on the table. Threats now target specific locations and if heroes aren't careful those threats will spread across the city.

Threat Proliferation

As mentioned above, if heroes completely fail at overcoming threats those threats will move out across the city and wreak havoc. This new mechanic has the added benefit of giving the push your luck rolls more teeth as well as making the aftermath phase of the game less depressing because heroes can have, at most, only a single failure per location where previously there was no limit.

Super Powers

Heroes now have access to super powers/special abilities. This takes the form a of a simple mechanic that allows players to exchange transformation energy for reducing threats.


The changes to the way threats work and allowing the addition of super powers meant that transformation would no longer work as written. I altered transformation so that instead of gathering energy to reach a transformation state the heroes instead increase their odds of a successful transformation with each threat they overcome.

I think that Chroma Team is definitely an improved game from the original Game Chef entry, but I think it still needs a lot of playtesting and tweaking before it gets to where I would like it to be. Again, you can get Chroma Team Revised here and, as always, I want to hear from you if you play it.


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