Monday, 26 November 2018

The King is dead, long live the King!

Savage Shadowrun is not available anymore. I had to take it down for obvious reasons (don't worry, I did not get sued). I guess it was a dream to think it could just go on forever. I now have to ask something of all of you. If you still have a copy of Savage Shadowrun and/or a snapshot of Savage X-Com:EW, please do NOT share these, anywhere. What you do at home in your games is your thing, but those two conversions have my name on it, and if somebody in charge of those IPs actually does decide to act, I'll be the one at the gallows. So, if you have them, enjoy them, but keep them on your local drives! Thank you. So what about all the work already accomplished? To be honest, at this point I don't know. Since there seems to be no easy way to just get a list of trademarks a specific company holds, I am looking at many hours of work just to make sure I do not step on any toes. If/when I will have the time and energy for that... I don't know. Thank you guys for standing by me all those years of development. Thank you if you downloaded and read it, enjoy it, gave me feedback, or just nodded at it. It meant the world to me, and still does.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

History of my DIY Bennies - the road so far

I have been making custom Bennies pretty much from the start of my Savage Worlds "career". Right now I am able to produce Bennies tailored to every game I want to play in or run, but the road to get here has been a long one. Let me tell you the story of my making custom Bennies from the beginning.

The very first Bennies I used weren't actually something I'd call "custom Bennies". They were simple glass beads, which I sorted by colour and assigned one to each player. I got them from Amazon, in a big bag of mixed form beads.
They served their purpose, but they didn't really add anything to the game. They were markers for a meta-resource used in the game we played, not props helping us to immerse ourselves better in the universe we were playing in. I wanted to get some nice-looking Bennies, but the official ones were impossible to get in Germany for reasonable amounts of money. So I had to get creative.

The first step on the road to the great Bennies I bring to the table now was a rather small one. I had bought wooden disks to use as markers on a battlemap, about 1 inch in diameter. Through a lucky coincidence I found out there were sticker sheets available, pre-cut with circular cuts, which fit those disks. These became my first true custom Bennies, made for Savage Warhammer 40k (Dark Heresy) and Savage Deus Ex games. They had some big problems, though. As you can see, the Imperial Crest isn't truly centred, and there's a black line going through the cyberpunk Benny.

This happened because the sticker sheet came with an MS Word document to align the images on the page to where the pre-cuts were on the sheet, but they didn't truly align, no matter how I modified the printer settings or which way I inserted the paper. The idea was sound, but using the pre-cut sheets clearly didn't work for what I wanted to do.

The next step saw two major changes. First I changed from the wooden disks to actual poker chips. Those I could also buy in bulk, and they came blank. They also had an inner diameter of exactly 1 inch, which was perfect, as I could buy a circular 1-inch-diameter paper punch tool. Now I was able to freely design motives for the Bennies, print them onto full-sized sticker sheets, cut them myself and apply them on the poker chips. I used this method for a long time, producing Bennies for games I ran (Deadlands Reloaded, Savage Rifts), and games I played in (Saga of the Goblin Horde).



This worked well, but after a while I got frustrated with the plain look of the Bennies. Also the 1-inch print area proved to be rather limiting. I tackled these problems in two steps. The first step saw me switching to a different brand of poker chip, which came with a shiny surface and, luckily, a design that still fit the 1-inch cut prints perfectly.

While this improved the visual aspect of the Bennies, I still wasn't happy. By another lucky coincidence I stumbled across a paper punch tool with a diameter exactly equal to the inner area of the new brand of poker chips, 1.25-inch in diameter. I experimented with this new tool and the result was stunning in difference:


I lost the shiny border around the smaller 1-inch print, but I gained an incredible amount of area to put the actual Benny image on. I quickly started to replace my older Bennies with new ones, with better designs now that I had so much more area to work with.



This is my de-facto standard for producing custom Bennies right now. I am very happy with the outcome. They handle like poker chips, and if it wasn't for my cheap inkjet I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between mine and official Bennies.

If you want to produce high-quality custom Bennies for your own games, please watch this video I made explaining the whole process. You will also find links to the tools I use in the video's description: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4J8ZLa-Iuc

Friday, 28 October 2016

All Hallows' Thief


Halloween, Halloween
Strangest sights I’ve ever seen,
Corporate Goons, stealthy Drones,
Mercs and Gangers,
Warfare Zones.
Halloween, Halloween
Deadliest I’ve ever seen!

This PDF brings you an adventure framework to run for your Interface Zero 2.0, Daring Tales of the Sprawl, Savage Shadowrun, or any other urban setting game. It assumes a more gritty dystopian tone, but it could be run in a modern setting as well.
Strictly speaking it is not a Savage Worlds One Sheet, as there are no stat blocks or mechanical passages in it. Instead All Hallows' Thief provides you with an overview of the situation, the important NPCs, and the main location. Due to this generic approach the GM will have to adapt it for their respective games, but this being Savage Worlds it should be easy to do so.
So what is it about? A stolen piece of art, a desperate art thief and his double-crossing fence, a ruthless gang, the Yakuza, and a band of player characters smack dab in the middle of it all. The tricks are high stakes and the treats may either be a fat paycheck, or a bullet with the character's name on it.

You can find All Hallows' Thief here (PDF):

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Saga of the Goblin Horde continues

A few months ago I had the great pleasure of being able to sit down with my girlfriend as players and enjoy a game of Saga of the Goblin Horde, run by non other than its creator, Richard "Zadmar" Woolcock. Last Saturday Richard once again offered to run his brainchild, this time for the monthly gathering of Munich's roleplayers. Not only were my girlfriend and I able to join his game again, but I also got to add to the game with some props! Table tents, paper minis, status tokens, and of course custom Bennies.
This time there were not two, but six players (a new record for Richard). Due to the Setting Rules of SotGH, this meant not 6 but 30 creatures under player control on the field! Of course this being Savage Worlds, it handled nicely and we got two fights done that day, not to mention all the other great stuff! But I get ahead of myself.







I will talk about the mechanics first, and then give my impression how it translated into narrative and fun at the table.

The players chose from the SotGH archetypes published so far plus one quick addition (the Goblin Princess), so the gang-bosses setting out to wreak havoc upon the humans were the River Goblin, Goblin Scout, Goblin Pyromancer, Goblin Psionicist, Goblin Wolf Rider, and the Goblin Princess.
We had roughly 7 hours available to us, so Richard opted to run two adventures back to back: Dungeon Squat and Pub Crawl.

Dungeon Squat is a refreshing take on the typical dungeon exploration session. Instead of being the ones clearing the dungeon, here the goblins are the land lords... and pretty pissed at the invading humans! Problem is, there's a lot of the invaders, so what to do...?
Richard devised a simple and quick answer to that question. The goblins seeded the cave with traps, which came in the form of custom made cards, each representing a trap to be prepared by the goblins. Each trap had a corresponding skill assigned to it, and was prepared by the goblins scouting the cave for fitting trap locations - Notice rolls; these rolls would provide a modifier for when the trap was actually sprung (-2 for critical failure, -1 for failure, +0 for success, +1 for each raise.).

Mechanics: Thus prepared we awaited the arrival of the humans. Expecting cowardly borderland goblins and some quick loot, they had no idea what they were walking into. Each player had been assigned two traps, according to their goblin's skills (the cards were drawn randomly by the players, but afterwards could be freely exchanged, as long as every player had two cards in the end). To release a trap, the player chose a human to inflict it upon and rolled the corresponding skill noted on the trap card.
Players were dealt cards from the action deck to determine their order of play. Also, a clubs card meant some kind of complication, which should be narrated, and inflicted a -2 on the trap skill roll. The result of the trap skill roll inflicted either damage to the goblin, their target, or both (Critical Failure: Suffer 4d6 damage; Failure: Suffer 3d6 damage; Success: Suffer 2d6 damage. The adventurer suffers 2 wounds; Raise: The adventurer suffers 2 wounds and loses their Bennies; also each killed adventurer netted the killer goblin's player a Benny).
After the last trap was sprung we switched to tactical combat on a battlemap and charged the remaining adventurers and their henchmen. I believe we outright killed three of them, and severly wounded a few more. This helped a lot, but of course some goblin flunkies still died for the greater good. To quote Izzy Toecutter, "Shit happens." 10 Wildcard Adventurers and their 12 henchmen walked into that cave. Only the bard lived, because we willed it so (order from the big chief, somebody had to tell the tale to the other humans and all that). The tactical battle went quick and fluid, despite the huge number of minis.

Narrative: We started at the main Redfang Tribe encampment, where we received our orders from Chief Bignose: the humans are getting bolder and need to be taught a lesson! Ambush them, make our point, then go and burn down their meeting places for adventurers so no more will come... "taverns" or whatever the humans call them.
Travelling to the ambush site took about a day, and interludes were used to give out some initial bennies and share some nice (ahem) stories about love, tragedy, victories, and desires. The archetypes provide great hooks for this, and the tales told by the players began to set the mood.
When we arrived at the cave where we were supposed to take on the humans, the local borderland goblins had funny ideas about our presence. What ideas we will never know, because Maeson Crispyface blasted the leader and second-in-command of the borderland goblins in the face. With fireballs. That shut them up and the Redfang goblins got to work.
The trap card mechanic was an awesome way to handle a trapped dungeon, and it made the narration easy and lots of fun! Describing how our traps inflicted horror upon horror on the clueless human invaders had the whole table roaring with cheer and laughter time and time again. During a campaign game the cards could be used simply as pointers, to let the players come up with their own ideas, but for a one-shot game it was perfect. Everybody couldn't get to their turn fast enough to narrate more pain and suffering onto the hapless humans.
The big fight afterwards was a great bowl of laughter, mayhem, and many confused dying humans. Some players actually narrated the use of leftovers of the sprung traps in the fights. As per our orders, we let the bard live to tell the tale. Skally Finback really wanted a song to be sung about him, but the terrified bard couldn't hold a note. Probably for the best.







Pub Crawl is an adventure which can be run stand-alone, but ties in neatly after Dungeon Squat. Not content with the annihilation of the adventuring party, the goblins set out to teach the humans a lesson in humility. The objective was to destroy the three taverns in the nearby town.

Mechanics: Another interlude brought some more Bennies during the travel to the town, and a run-in with a guard patrol was resolved with Quick Combat. Afterwards simple sneak rolls got the goblins successfully into town.
Tavern #1 was a very new building, made from wood. The Goblin Psionicist mind-controlled a patron to start a fight, which provided enough distraction so that the Goblin Pyromancer could get to work, and the wooden tavern didn't stand a chance.
Tavern #2 saw the beginning of rainfall, so simply fireballing it was no option, but collapsing it from underneath via a Stealth and aceing Strength Check by the River Goblin did the trick just fine.
Tavern #3 was partially built over water. At this point the guards were alerted and the patrons had barred some of the doors. This was fought as a tactical combat, followed by a Dramatic Task to break the wooden support beams in the water and collapse the whole tavern into the river. The Goblin Princess had it done by round 3, without breaking a sweat. Yes, she's scary like that.
Following the collapse of the tavern, every guard and armed human in town set out to hunt the goblins down! A Chase ensued, with the goblins riding a stolen tavern down the river, with many humans in hot pursuit by horse on the riverbanks and boats on the river. The chase concluded with the tavern reaching the waterfalls, were the goblins showed the blessing of the luck of the brave, and the few humans who actually made it to the bottom of the fall alive were quickly dispatched via Quick Combat.

Narrative: By now the players had a good grasp on interludes and some more tales were told. Ambushing the guard patrol was a lot of fun... well, for the goblins. Our humour is lost on humans, I guess. The raid on tavern #1 went smoothly. The Goblin Psionicist mind-controlled a patron and tried to start a fight. His friends, assuming to poor fellow simply had a few ales too many, tried to restrain him. Meanwhile, the Goblin Pyromancer snuck through the kitchen, grabbed a few heavy items, entered the bar room, and smashed a whole wall of bottled spirits. A fireball later the patrons were running for their lives, the tavern caught fire quickly, and the goblins continued on through town.
Tavern #2 wouldn't go down that easily (or so we thought). Built from stone and with rain setting in, this could have been a problem, but the River Goblin spotted the partially broken support columns in the tavern's cellar, and went to break them down. Meanwhile, spotting a roaring tavern brawl happening in the tavern, the Goblin Princess didn't want to miss out on the fun and joined the brawl... with her sword. The ensuing chaos and panic alerted the guards, but also gave the River Goblin enough time and distraction to finish crushing one support column, and down the second tavern went.
Tavern #3 proved a more difficult target. Build partially over the river, it too had support columns as a weak point, but these were massive and underwater. The River Goblin scouted ahead, and determined they could be collapsed if pulled by a rope strong enough. Problem was, the only place to apply the right angle of leverage was inside the tavern, where a bunch of alerted sailors had barred some of the doors and were prepared for a fight.
The goblin gang leaders shrugged and sent their flunkies to break down the doors. A fight wasn't a hindrance to them, it was entertainment! Not so much for the goblin flunkies who got beaten to death by the sailors and other patrons of the tavern - which in the end did make absolutely no difference. Wading through the blood of slain humans the goblins fixed ropes to the support columns and pulled them clean apart. Well, the Goblin Princess did, for the most part.
The tavern roared into the river, a broken building now more resembling a very strange raft stocked with ale and spirits. The goblins rode their loot down the river, pursued by humans in boats and on horses. A mind-controlled ballista took out the more heavy defences, the Goblin Scout sent arrow after arrow into the pursuers, the River Goblin was death from below incarnate, and the Goblin Pyromancer couldn't stop swearing because everything was just too bloody wet!


This chase led the goblins on their tavern-raft along the river, straight to and down the waterfalls. The Goblin Princess of course travelled in style - inside an empty keg. By luck and skill all goblins made it to the bottom of the falls without major injuries, but all gang leaders were running dangerously low on flunkies. Luckily only a few humans had followed them down the waterfall (probably because they couldn't turn their boats around in time). A few well-placed fireballs, arrows, and bites took care of that problem.
Mission accomplished! And some nice loot to show off in the Redfang camp. Satisfied with their work the goblins set out on the journey home.

Conclusion: Richard not only has a knack for interesting new mechanics, he also uses the existing core mechanics in fun ways that tie in neatly with the narrative. He tends to run games favouring the mechanical side of Savage Worlds (which I like a lot), but it never bogs down the narrative! Instead it provides a great base for telling epic stories and ties in perfectly with his lively descriptions of scenery and NPC/PC actions.

Saga of the Goblin Horde provides a rich environment to play not-average goblins. The archetypes are well thought-out, quick to pick up, and fun to play. The adventures allow you to explore well-known situations in fantasy games through a refreshing new perspective. If you haven't already, check out the SotGH one-sheets Richard published so far!

Final Verdict: 5/5 dead goblin flunkies, would plunder again!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

D-Bee File: The Phoenix



Hailing from lands and dimensions of blazing fires, the Phoenixes found their way to Earth through the Rifts®. They are intelligent and gentle creatures, perfectly aware of the destruction their natural form is able to bring. Despite their reputation as bringers of fiery doom, Phoenixes are good-natured creatures, often fighting for those who cannot defend themselves.

Note: This race is custom built to fit the Burster Iconic Framework. To use it with a different framework I suggest you switch one level of Flight for Environmental Resistance (Fire) and reduce the need for rest from “inside fire” to “near fire”.

This D-Bee was created with the Savage Rifts® custom races rules. You can download the PDF from Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9ilRupFha7zZlVEOGhEY2QwQlk

Friday, 6 May 2016

In Vino Veritas - Session 1



 
[This article contains heavy spoilers regarding the Weird War I PPC 'In Vino Veritas'. You have been warned.]

A short while ago I ran the first scenario of Weird War I's PPC In Vino Veritas. Although we lost a player before the game even started (conflict of schedule, the Heeresleitung, German Army High Command, really screwed that one up) the remaining two guys had a blast (quite literally). I will give a rundown of the session, my decisions for events within the session, how it affected the players/characters, and what I learned from that.

Because this would be my first time running Weird War I, and because I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to familiarize myself with the background given in the War Master's Handbook, I restricted characters to mundane people: no Magic, Psionics, Weird Science, and/or Miracles. This was done mostly because I didn't want to screw up anything about the Weird background of Weird War I when it came to character knowledge. I may have been overly paranoid in that. After the session I offered the players the option to modify their characters, or create a new character, with an Arcane Background, if they so wished. Luckily, they were happy with what they had. But I get ahead of myself.

One of the players owned a copy of Weird War I, the other had only heard about the setting, and both had never played it before. So to start things of and ease them into the fray, I began by trying out the Narrative Missions. The more creative you can be spontaneously, the better these will work. For me, they worked really great - I saw the cards, thought about it for a few seconds, and constructed an event around the cards drawn and the rolls the players were required to make:
  • -King of Diamonds (Phyiscal) for the NCO (failed his Strength roll)
  • -5 of Clubs (Combat) for the Squaddie (failed his Shooting roll)
  • -Joker for the extras (lucky bastards)
I narrated the squad to be out on patrol in a lorry near the Belgian-German border during the start of the war, and them getting caught in an ambush (to set the tone of the Belgian resistance being fierce and not all that rational at times): a tree felled across the road. The NCO shouted orders and joined his driver to push the log off of the road, while the Squaddie and the other troops laid down covering fire to repel the attackers. Since both failed their rolls, this meant in this case they managed to get their respective tasks done, but got wounded in the process by the attackers - slightly crazed seeming partisans. The extras (their squad mates) of course got out of the ambush without even a single wounded, only a few bumps and bruises.
Overall, I really like the Narrative Missions. They provided a short scenario with opportunities for short snippets of roleplay, while giving me as the GM a platform to set the tone for the game, the mood of the setting, and even introduce plot-relevant hooks and information. If overused I could see the Narrative Missions getting repetitive, but if used in moderation, and paired with the Mission Generator, this is a great tool and adds a lot of value to the game.

Next I started the actual scenario. Because of there being only two players I modified the numbers a little bit, and made the choice of using this session to focus on getting the PPC's pot rolling without that much danger to the PC's (but, of course, dice can always ace, so in theory nobody was ever truly save).

Having had some r&r in a conquered Belgian village after their patrol, the PC's where in the right mood I was going for. They where still looking forward to joining the actual front, but it was dawning to them that war may not be all that glorious. After finally receiving their marching orders and the long march to Liege they encountered the leaving German wounded soldiers, as per the PPC scenario description. The mood turned gloomy really fast. Of course it didn't help that I assigned them (with a few extras) to a night patrol of the streets around the command post, where only the Sqaddie's danger sense saved them from walking into an ambush by a left-over Belgian machine-gun unit.
Due to an enemy of the NCO (another NCO, who for the time was in charge of distributing ammo) they didn't have grenades. Trying to flank the machine-gun they discovered the two Belgian soldiers mutilating the German soldier's corpse, fear checks were made (and some failed), and all Belgians and one German extra subsequently died in a close-quarter melee and firefight (you will be missed, Soldat Schultz).
There were 5 Belgian soldiers (the 2 crazies and 3 soldiers still manning a machine-gun after getting cut off from their main force), 2 PCs and 8 friendly extras. I tried to even the odds with Belgian grenades, but the dice where really in favour of the Germans in this fight. Soldat Schultz died in a Wild Attack in Round 1 of the encounter, and that was the first and last time the Belgian soldiers hit anything! Not even with grenades.
The NCO sent some men back with the captured Belgian machine-gun and Soldat Schultz's corpse, and finished the patrol without further incidents. Returning to the command post the Squaddie checked the rumour mill and confirmed that something was off. Nobody could lay a finger on the cause, but the fighting in Belgium wasn't what anybody had expected. Crazy Belgians, right?

The next day started with a one hour bombardment of the Liege forts, which I narrated quite extensively to give an impression of the massive industrialized firepower to the players. When they stormed their assigned fort and the Belgian soldiers opened fire with everything they had left, I had the players make straight Agility checks to dodge the flying debris and ricochets, a failed role resulting in one level of Fatigue from bumps and bruises. This I did because I didn't want to play through a lengthy part of "cover-hopping", but still communicate the dangers of storming at an armed fort to the players. The NCO failed his roll and, leading his men from the front, took one level of bumps and bruises Fatigue.
The clearing of the lower fort went exactly to PPC plan, with the Squaddie throwing a grenade into the occupied room and the Belgian soldiers all failing their "throw back" roles. A big blast later, the Squaddie scouted the remains of the room and its now dead occupants. He found the uncovered room and the cross (and decided to hide and keep it! Sweet!), and now we are well on the way in the story.

We all very much enjoyed this session (about 4 hours) and I really hope I can find the time to run the rest of the PPC. Coupled with the mission generator (which I have yet to try out) and the Narrative Missions, I can see it being a very enjoyable trip for all involved.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

One Sheet: Complex 41


Complex 41 is a One Sheet I created for a German RPG collaboration project and want to share with the English speaking Savages also. This adventure sends the characters through an electronic nightmare. Conceived as an entertainment device, this Virtual Reality will spin completely out of control and have the characters run for their very lives. Not only do they have to survive, but also find an exit amidst the madness.

It's designed for a group of everyday people, but it could also be used as a filler mission for an Interface Zero game, or as an idea for something that happened somewhere else and now the players have to figure out what went down.

Download: Complex 41 One Sheet on Google Drive