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!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Savaging Settings: Starcraft Broodwar - The Zerg

Few games have made an impact on the gaming world as huge as the Starcraft series. Mostly known for its demanding competitive aspects, the Starcraft games also feature a rich history of an entire cluster of worlds, explored in detail not only through the main game storyline, but through novels, online publications, art-books, developer commentary, and many other sources.

While it may seem limiting in its scope at first, being an RTS game which focuses almost exclusively on the military side of things, the Starcraft universe offers a playground for almost any kind of RPG campaign one can imagine.
This series of Savaging Settings postings will explore each of the three main races of the Starcraft universe from a mechanical side, offer stats, setting rules, and descriptions, and will conclude with an entry about adventures and campaigns. This series will focus on the original Starcraft games, Starcraft and Starcraft: Broodwar. Supplements for the changes and units introduced with Starcraft II may follow at a later time.
I will kick of this voyage with my favourite race:

The Zerg

Surfacing to the public eye in 2499 on the backwater colony world of Chau Sara, the Zerg quickly establish themselves to be a terrifying enemy, a writhing and mutating plague of biblical proportions. Hunted mercilessly by both Protoss and Terrans, the Swarm nevertheless manages to conquer and infest a large number of planets, including the Protoss home-planet of Aiur. Controlled by the Overmind, the Zerg Cerebrates and queens carry its will throughout known (and unknown) space, guiding the Swarm broods towards their goal. The exact nature of that goal is unknown. The Swarm broods seem to attack anything in their way, with only conquest and assimilation on their collective minds.

Live for the Swarm!

Wherever the Zerg go, they infest all living things, assimilate them into their fold to adept to new territories and further the Swarms strife towards perfection. Upon arriving on a new planet a Zerg brood first establishes a hive cluster, a base of operations from where they spread further. Hive clusters consist of buildings, although the term is used lightly. Zerg buildings are their own living, breathing entities, and not all of them are immobile.
Zerg Hatchery
In the beginning of a hive cluster's existence, there is only a single hatchery. This central building spawns larvae, small creatures capable of mutating into any Zerg required by the hive cluster. While transforming into another form, a larva is protected by an egg. Despite their fragile looks, these eggs are capable of withstanding almost any natural and man-made dangers, making a Zerg infestation very hard to eradicate, as the eggs can survive under pretty much any environmental condition.
A Zerg hatchery also functions as a nexus point for the spread of creep. Zerg creep is a thick carpet of organic matter, completely blanketing the area of Zerg activity. Not only does it serve as a foundation for Zerg buildings, it also allows the swarm to move around quickly, supply its buildings and troops with nutrition, and also functions as a kind of warning system. Cerebrates and queens are aware of anything that happens on their hive cluster's creep. Sneaking up on Zerg, difficult under most circumstances, is all but impossible on creep without highly specialised gear... and even then only when there are no Overlords around.
As the needs of the Swarm increase, more buildings are added to the growing hive cluster. These allow the Zerg to access different strains of their vast DNA repository and morph the larvae into different Zerg forces.

Setting Rules

Zerg are vicious aliens, driven by a single intellect of seemingly limitless capabilities. They have evolved over countless generations, assimilating and mutating benevolent strains of traits from creatures across the galaxies. They are, in the most literal sense of the words, a well oiled organic machine bred for war.

Creep Dwellers
The creep provides nutrition, biofeedback, and shelter to all Zerg. While on or above creep, all Zerg make a Natural Healing roll every hour. Zerg buildings regenerate as per the GMs discretion. Creep also allows Zerg for significantly easier movement. All Zerg ground forces increase their Pace by 2 while on creep.

Fearless, not entirely mindless
Only a fracture of Zerg actually possess self-awareness. The mindless broods are controlled by these nodes of the Swarm intellect: Cerebrates, Brood Queens, and Overlords, all of which in turn are under direct control of the Overmind. When not under direct control, Zerg resort to a sort of hive mind. Zerg units receive a +2 bonus to recover from being Shaken when within 5" of another Zerg creature or building.

Infiltration Masters
All Zerg ground forces have the ability to burrow themselves in all but the densest of materials. Even man-made concrete poses little hindrance for their digging abilities. Zerg ground forces may burrow and hide underground. They can't move while burrowed and receive a +2 bonus to Stealth rolls.

Unbound Travellers
Zerg air units are able to leave a planet's atmosphere and gravity field by means unknown. In space they must be supplied nutrition by Overlords.

DNA Weavers
During their crusade amongst the stars the Zerg encountered and assimilated countless creatures, adding their DNA to the Zerg's repository. This allows them to mutate their units as needed for any given environment or situation, at frightening speed. There are possible mutations provided for certain Zerg creatures. These may or may not apply to the encountered Zerg forces as per the GM's discretion.

Zerg Units

Ground Forces:

Cerebrates and the Overmind
Controlling the innumerable broods isn't an easy task, not even for a being as powerful as the Overmind. It created the Cerebrates, huge worm-like creatures of immense psionic power, who in term each control a brood. These broods are often specialised to perform a specific task, or provide highly refined versions of Zerg creatures. The Cerebrates in turn rely on Brood Queens and Overlords to control their forces. The flesh of a Cerebrate may be slain, but unless such an attack is carried out with a very specific type of damage the Cerebrate will regenerate within mere hours. Only during the Brood War was it revealed that the Protoss' Dark Templar possess the power to ultimately kill a Cerebrate. I will not provide stats for the Overmind and its Cerebrates, as both are plot devices and possess psionic power beyond the scope of any character.

Eggs and Larvae
The live of any given Zerg creature starts as a larva, grown in a hatchery. From there the hive mind chooses what is needed for the given situation and the larva is encased by an egg, only to be reborn as the required Zerg. Larvae are truly mindless, they are only capable of crawling a short distance, feeding from the creep, and transforming into an egg. The egg itself is surprisingly durable. It has a Toughness of 20 (10).

The Drone is the basic worker of the Zerg broods. Drones collect resources too sturdy to be directly absorbed by creep, and mutate into buildings. Fully grown drones measure around 150 centimetres.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Fighting d4, Notice d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 4, Toughness: 6 (2)
Special Abilities:
Armour +2: Carapace Armour
Claws: Str + d4, AP 1
Floating: Drones hover slightly above the ground and ignore most difficult terrain
Metamorphosis: When supplied with enough nourishment, a drone may metamorph itself into any Zerg structure required by the Swarm. With the exception of a hatchery this requires creep.

Zerglings are the Swarm's scouts and trackers. They are the vanguard of a Zerg invasion, adept at locating prey and remaining unseen until it is too late. The Zergling in itself is a capable warrior, but easily felled by a trained force. Unfortunately for most defenders, Zerglings seldom appear alone. They usually travel in small to large groups before the actual invasion, and are grown in uncountable numbers during the fighting. Zerglings grow stunningly fast and reach a size of about 180 centimetres head to tail-end.
Zergling with Metabolic Boost ("Speedling")
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Climbing d6, Notice d8, Stealth d8, Survival d8, Tracking d8
Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 7 (2)
Special Abilities:
Armour +2: Carapace Armour
Claws: Str + d6, AP 2
Low Light Vision: Zergling eyes adapt easily to low-light conditions. They ignore penalties for Dim and Dark Lighting.
Possible Mutations:
Metabolic Boost: the Zergling gains the Fleet-Footed Edge
Adrenal Glands: the Zergling gains the Improved Frenzy Edge and their damage becomes Heavy Damage

The Hydralisk is often used as the symbol of the Swarm's power and bloodlust. Evolved from traits gathered from peaceful herbivores, these ruthless creatures are not even a shadow of their former existence. Used in huge numbers as spearhead and shock troops, Hydralisks are found in every engagement. Despite their snake-like appearance, they move with ease across any terrain. Their main weapon, sharp needle spines, are propelled by muscle force alone and are able to penetrate surprisingly thick armour.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d8

Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d8, Notice d6, Shooting d8, Tracking d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 12 (4)
Special Abilities:
Size +2: Hydralisks grow up to 6 meters tall
Armour +4: Carapace Armour
Claws: Str + d6 AP 2
Needle Spines: Damage 2d8 + 1, RoF 1, Range 24/48/96, AP 4
Possible Mutations:
Muscular Augments: increases Pace to 8
Grooved Spines: increases Needle Spines range to 30/60/120

Lurkers are not created from larvae, but mutate directly out of Hydralisks. They bare little to no resemblance to their former form, as Lurkers are only able to attack at a vastly reduced range and only when buried. Their spines shoot out in waves to the surface, inflicting heavy damage to everything in their path that is not Zerg. While Lurkers are very hard to detect when buried, they are all but defenceless against melee attacks.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d8

Skills: Fighting d4, Notice d6, Shooting d8, Tracking d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 4, Toughness: 12 (4)
Special Abilities:
Size +2: Lurkers grow up to 6 meters tall
Armour +4: Carapace Armour
Needle Spine Waves: like the Burst power, AP 6, used with Shooting.

These towering hulks of muscle and razer-sharp bone-blades are the pinnacle of Zerg ferocity. Bred as siege-breakers, there is little in the known systems to slow an Ultralisk down, let alone stop it in its tracks. Dwarfing even Terran tanks, Ultralisks are capable of taking out entire units of Terran Marines with one swoop of their giant tusks. Even tank-armour is little more than an annoyance to this beast.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4(Z),
Spirit d8, Strength d12+4, Vigor d10
Skills: Fighting d10, Intimidation d8, Notice d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 7, Toughness: 46 (30)
Special Abilities:
Size +9: Ultralisks tower over most tanks
Gargantuan: Attackers add +4 to their Fighting or Shooting rolls when attacking an Ultralisk due to its massive size. Ultralisks may only be damaged by Heavy Weapons.
Armour +30: Carapace Armour, counts as Heavy Armour
Claws: Str + d10, AP 30, HW
Improved Sweep: claws as long as a truck and a surprising mobility make the area around an Ultralisk a death-zone
Redundant Organs: Ultralisks ignore Wound Modifiers when soaking damage.
Possible Mutations:
Anabolic Synthesis: Increases Pace to 8
Chitinous Plating: Raises Armour to +40

Just like the name suggests, Defilers are bringers of pestilence and death wherever they go. Acting as a harassment and support unit, the Defiler has little means to directly defend itself on the battlefield, but can be devastating to enemy formations. Unleashed on civilian populations without protection, a single one of these creatures is able to eradicate whole colonies.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8(Z), Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d4, Survival d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 4, Toughness: 12 (4)
Special Abilities:
Size +2: Defilers grow up to 5 meters long
Armour +4: Carapace Armour
Defiler Abilities: Defilers use Smarts to cast their Spell-abilities and have 15 Power Points
Consume: the Defiler may consume another Zerg creature to immediately regain 3 + Size Power Points
Dark Swarm: The Defiler is able to cast Obscure with a range of Smarts x 5 and with an LBT. This is a large cloud of stinking mists, filled with tiny gnawing creatures.
Metasynaptic Processes: Defilers gain the Rapid Recharge Edge while burrowed
Possible Mutations:
Plague: Fast-acting carcinoma with incredibly high infection rates grow directly on the Lurker, which it is able to eject via poisonous clouds. It has the Blast power with either Acid or Disease trapping (it may choose the trapping every time it casts Plague). The disease is Long-Term Chronic, Major Debilitating.

Air Units:

The flying Overlords are the backbone of the Overmind's control over the Swarm. While not as powerful as the Brood Queens, Overlords make up for their lack of abilities through sheer numbers. They act as relays for the Overmind's psionic signals to the broods, and, depending on their DNA strain, as fast mobile detectors and troop transporters.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d12, Vigor d10
Skills: Notice d10, Tracking d8
Pace: -, Parry: 2, Toughness: 21 (4)
Special Abilities:
Flight: Overlords have a Flying Pace of 4 and a Climb of 0. They may not run.
Size +10: Overlords are immensely huge creatures, capable of lifting up such large beasts as Ultralisks.
Huge: Attackers add +4 to their Fighting or Shooting rolls when attacking an Overlord due to its massive size.
Armour +4: Carapace Armour; counts as Heavy Armour.
Detector: Overlords ignore up to 6 points of penalties when searching for creatures (including penalties for invisibility).
Possible Mutations:
Ventral Sacks: Allows the Overlord to transport ground forces.
Pneumatized Carapace: The Overlord's Flying Pace increases to 6. They may now run.

 Brood Queen
Psionicly connected to the Cerebrates, Brood Queens are powerful nodes of the Overmind's will. They are able to directly control vast numbers of Zerg, and their more direct abilities make them a feared sight on any battlefield.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Notice d8, Shooting d10, Tracking d8
Pace: -, Parry: 2, Toughness: 16 (4)
Special Abilities:
Flight: Brood Queens have a Flying Pace of 8 and a Climb of 1.
Size +6: Fully grown Brood Queens are about as big as an adult elephant.
Large: Attackers add +2 to their Fighting or Shooting rolls when attacking a Brood Queen due to its large size.
Armour +4: Carapace Armour
Infest Terran Building: Brood Queens may infest any Terran building they can safely approach. Civilians caught this way are then transformed into Infested Terrans.
Queen Abilities: Brood Queens use Shooting to cast their abilities. They have 25 Power Points.
Parasite: The Brood Queen launches a small parasite which attaches itself to any other unit the Brood Queen can see (Range 12/24/48). If the target is biological in nature this parasite bonds with the target and may only be removed by nano-tech medical equipment. This is a trapping of the Farsight Power and allows the Brood Queen to see through the attached parasite. The duration is extended to "1 hour (1/hour)".
Possible Mutations:
Ensnare: Allows the Brood Queen to cast the Entangle Power. The Brood Queen shoots globs of sticky slime at the target(s).
Spawn Broodling: Allows the Brood Queen to cast the Bolt Power. The Brood Queen launches a special parasite at the target, which burrows inside the target and consumes it from within. Should the target die from this ability, two Broodlings burst from the corpse and attack any non-Zerg creatures nearby.
Gamete Melosis: The Brood Queen's Power Points increase to 35.

This winged menace usually appears in large swarms. Their screeching can be heard from far away and strikes terror into the hearts of those who know about Mutalisks. Their large bodies house strong muscles, able to spew glaive worms at terrifying speed. Leathery wings carry the Mutalisk across the battlefield. They are very agile, but slow to take up speed. A Mutalisk's blood is highly corrosive, dissecting specimen is at this point all but impossible.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d8,
Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d8, Shooting d8, Tracking d6
Pace: -, Parry: 5, Toughness: 11 (4)
Special Abilities:
Flight: Mutalisks have a Flying Pace of 6 and a Climb of 3.
Size +2: Mutalisks grow to up to 5 meters tall
Armour +4: Carapace Armour
Glaive Worms: Damage 2d8, RoF 1, Range 12/24/48, AP 4
Bouncing Projectiles: With a Raise on the Shooting roll the Mutalisk may also make a free attack against an additional target within 5" of the original target. This can happen a maximum of two times per round.
Acidic Blood: If a Mutalisk is killed by explosive means everyone under a MBT centered on the dead Mutalisk takes 2d6 AP 4 acid damage (other Mutalisks take the damage, but ignore the AP).
Minor Regenerative Abilities: Mutalisk Extras gain a +2 bonus on Vigor rolls to check if they are Incapacitated or dead after a fight.

These large flying beasts evolve directly out of Mutalisks. Devourers are heavy flyers, bred to take on enemy airborne forces. Most small craft don't even bother them and they are able to face Terran Battlecruisers heads-on. Their mutated anatomy prevents them from shooting at steep downwards angles, so they can't attack ground forces.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6(Z), Spirit d8, Strength d10,
Vigor d10
Skills: Notice d6, Shooting d10
Pace: -, Parry: 2, Toughness: 26 (15)
Special Abilities:
Flight: Devourers have a Flying Pace of 6 and a Climb 1.
Size +4: Devourers measure about 10 metres.
Large: Attackers add +2 to their Fighting or Shooting rolls when attacking a Devourer due to its large size.
Armour +15: Carapace Armour, counts as Heavy Armour.
Acidic Globs: Damage 3d8, RoF 1, Range 24/48/96, AP 20, HW
Acid Spores: When hit by the Devourer's Acidic Globs the armour of the target and all adjacent non-Zerg's units is reduced by 1. This effect stacks up to 10 times and lasts for the entire combat.

The Guardian is the second strain of large flying Zerg to mutate directly out of a Mutalisk. It evolved to complement the Devourer on the battlefield, as Guardians are bred to spit highly corrosive acid over huge distances onto ground forces. Their exact method of flight baffles scientists, as Guardian's have no wings. This seems to result in a rather slow movement. For some reason they are unable to use their ranged attack in space, although they are perfectly capable of space travel.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6(Z), Spirit d8, Strength d10,
Vigor d10
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d6, Shooting d10
Pace: -, Parry: 5, Toughness: 26 (15)
Special Abilities:
Flight: Guardians have a Flying Pace of 4 and a Climb 0.
Size +4: Guardians measure about 10 metres.
Large: Attackers add +2 to their Fighting or Shooting rolls when attacking a Guardian due to its large size.
Armour +15: Carapace Armour, counts as Heavy Armour.
Acidic Globs: Damage 3d8, RoF 1, Range 30/60/120, AP 20, HW

Scourges are perhaps one of the most terrifying Zerg creatures. Not because of their physique, as Scourges are only about the size of a Zergling. They aren't very durable either. What makes them such fearsome organisms is their means of attack. Scourges descend onto their targets in swarms and trigger a biological chain-reaction inside their bodies, which ends with them detonating in a deadly cloud of carapace shrapnel and acidic plasma. Even a few hits from Scourges can take out a Terran Battlecruiser.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Stealth d8, Survival d8, Tracking d8
Pace: -, Parry: 2, Toughness: 7 (2)
Special Abilities:
Flight: Scourges have a Flying Pace of 8 and a Climb 3.
Armour +2: Carapace Armour
Plasma Metamorphosis: When a Scourge reaches its intended target it detonates itself. This attack automatically deals 3d8 AP 20 Heavy Damage in an SBT centred on the Scourge. This attack requires the Scourge to be airborne, so it doesn't work on ground targets.

Special Units:

Infested Terran
When a Brood Queen infests a Terran Building any humans still inside are caught and assimilated into the Swarm. These Infested Terrans are a terror to behold, clad in pieces of armour and covered by organic Zerg matter. Their personality is shredded by this experience, replaced by suicidal obedience to the Swarm. In rare cases the Swarm keeps a person's intellect intact to further the Swarm's goals. They retain all their memories and skills, but they are completely obedient and loyal to their new Zerg masters.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Shooting d8
Pace: 8, Parry: 6, Toughness: 8 (2)
Special Abilities:
Armour +2: Carapace Armour
Plasma Metamorphosis: When an Infested Terran reaches its intended target it detonates itself. This attack automatically deals 3d8 AP 20 Heavy Damage in an SBT centred on the Infested Terran.

Growing from flesh-eating parasites injected by Brood Queens into their unlucky targets, Broodlings are small in size, but driven by ferocious hunger and rage. They burst from their hosts and attack anything in sight.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4(Z), Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8
Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 6 (2)
Special Abilities:
Size -1: Broodlings are about the size of a Terran dog
Armour +2: Carapace Armour
Claws: Str + d6, AP 2
Supercharged Metabolism: Broodlings live for only a short time, but they make up for it with reckless abandon. They have the Improved Frenzy Edge. On the downside, however, Broodlings only live for 5 rounds.

Copyright NoticeThe Zerg Race logo and screenshots from the Starcraft II level editor are copyrighted by Blizzard Entertainment. The use in this blogpost qualifies as authorized for fansite use under United States and applicable international copyright law.

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:

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Savaging Settings: Savage Fallout

While there are publications out there with specific rules to handle the theme and tropes of gaming in post-apocalyptic wastelands, personally I always ask myself "Do I really need new rules to do this? What's in the Core Rulebook and maybe the Companions that will solve what I intend to do for this specific setting?".

(Industrial Wasteland, by Coulter Sunderman)
Fallout, as per the video games, is a combat-heavy setting - at least that is how it's designed to and usually played. The core rules include everything needed for this, from combat rules to the sticks and stones and plasma guns and powered armour. It also includes a bestiary, which allows for easy creation of your own monsters. Take an Ogre or a Troll, modify accordingly and name it Super Mutant. The Giant Spider makes for a great Radscorpion. Zombies are a great template to create Feral Ghouls.

Fallout is about collecting stuff and bartering off what you don't need to get the items you want. Collecting items is easy, either take their possessions from your slain enemies, steal what isn't bolted down, or scavenge the ruins of a past long gone. Scavenging can easily be done as a trapping of the Survival skill. If you want to add a little more spice to it, handle a Scavenge Run as a Dramatic Task. A success rewards the character with loot appropriate to the ruins, a failure means they stumbled upon something nasty (a nest of Radscorpions, some Super Mutants, a Raider group, a dangerous sink of radiation, to give just a few examples). This also illustrates the point of safety in numbers, as a group is more likely to succeed in a dramatic task. Of course, there is the negotiation about shares of the loot.

While Barter isn't included in the core rules as written, use it as a trapping of Streetwise. Knowing how to even find somebody in the wastelands who will buy what you dug out of that mouldy old ruin is half the challenge, after all. A failure doesn't necessarily mean you are stuck with your loot, but selling it may get you fewer bottle caps than you hoped for, or the trader buys only a small amount of what you have to offer, or he only trades in other items you don't need at the moment - there are so many possibilities.

Crafting is a Repair roll, as soon as the character bartered/stole/looted/scavenged all the parts they needed. Of course they also need a shop where they can work in peace and tools don't come cheap in the dusty future.

If you want to include some of the more exotic items from the series, have a look at Weird Science. Stimpack? That's the Healing Power right there. Rad Away? Use the Healing Power, but with the trapping of removing levels of fatigue from Radiation. EMP grenades? The Blast Power with the trapping of only affecting those darn robots. Simply by using this approach it balances out the problem of the video game, where the player has an abundance of everything after 10 hours of gaming.

And that's really all you need to run Savage Fallout with the $9.99 Core Rulebook. Obviously this leaves a lot to do for the GM. It doesn't provide long lists of lootable resources, recipes for items and weapons, equipment, and such. I do not consider this a hindrance to a game. Instead, I see this as a creative exercise. Of course the GM needs to know about the fluff of the setting, but creating stats for creatures on the fly in my mind even adds to the setting. It illustrates the unpredictability of radiation effects.
Also, don't prepare lists of what is found where. Have the players tell you what they are looking for. If they know where to go, then that's where the session will take them. If not, then they better find somebody who knows. Simply wandering into the blue is incredibly dangerous in the wastelands, and while the rewards may be worth it, death (claws) may always be just around the next irradiated corner.

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

Savage Shadowrun, by ManuFS (Shadowrun Second Edition in Savage Worlds)

I proudly present to you, my very own take at converting the acclaimed Shadowrun setting to Savage Worlds. Specifically, the world of Shadowrun as it was in version 2 of the game back in 1992. The Matrix is still wired, the Streetsam doesn't have to worry about a Hacker bricking his Boosted Reflexes (mainly because there are no Hackers here, this is Decker country!), Shaman still commune with Spirits of Nature... but don't worry, everybody is still out to get you.

This is still a work in progress. I have been running sessions for more than a year now, so I know it holds up very well at the table (yes, even Deckers!), but there is still a lot of room for improvement. As with any conversion, feedback is most welcome.

You can find a download link in the pages section in the sidebar, or click here.

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