Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gave Barbarians of the Aftermath a Run

A few weeks ago (finally posting up) my wife and I gave Barbarians of the Aftermath a whirl in the setting we developed for our Live Action Airsoft System so that we could jumpstart the game. I gotta say, BoA is very well done. We used the MythicGM Emulator along with the story generator in the PDF to get things rolling. Equipment selection was a breeze. Instead of the point buy system we just picked what characters typically had in our game. Off we went!

First, the PCs:


Polly was an accomplished Actress [1] in local theater but to pay the bills she worked as a Computer Technician [2]. That was before the world went dark. After she became a member of a local Militia [1] with respectable skills.

Str 1, Agi, 1, Min 2, App 0
Bra 1, Mel 0, Ran 1, Def 2

Lucky, Determined (to rebuild society), City Dweller

Weapon: Remington 870 shotgun

Ty Lawson

Ty grew up as a Farmer [2] who was known to have a bit of a touch as a Mechanic [0]. After graduating school he became a Police Officer [1] but that didn't last long. After the world got tossed into the hand basked Ty put his skills to use as a Militia [1] member defending the small town where he grew up.

Str 1, Agi 2, Min 1, App 0
Bra 0, Mel 1, Ran 2, Def 1

Passionate (rebuilding society), Determined, Poor Hearing

Weapons: M4, 1911

The PC had to survive bad choices in a house. The foes were rabble and an NPC who was a madman who only wanted to spread suffering and disaster. So, the in-game setup was that the PCs misjudged how long it would take to get to said house in the city. They arrived just before dark. But they figured that they'd be in and out in no time.

Once inside they began rummaging for the professor's notebook but their search was interrupted by sounds of intruders. They snuck upstairs hoping that whoever it was would move on. No such luck. Crouching in the darkness they trained their weapons on the stairs waiting. BLAM! Ty flips on his rail mounted combat light and Polly pulls the trigger on her Remington. The shotgun sent two rabble to their doom; their life gone before their corpses finished tumbling to the foot of the stairs. Ty tugs Polly's shoulder to move to new positions. He knew that they're try another assault. This time they came up the stairs with guns blazing, shooting into black emptiness. Ty flipped his M4 over the railing, flipped on the combat light and sent a few more rabble packing. Their bodies collapsed where they stood on the stairs.

Downstairs the house front door slams shaking the whole place. An angry voice flares up and the sound of someone getting punched could be heard if the PC's ears weren't ringing from all the gunfire.

Taking the commotions and noise downstairs the PCs again take up new positions. Just in time. Two grenades are tossed up into rooms adjacent to the top the stairs and go off. The explosions are incredibly loud but harmless except to the interior decorating.

As suddenly as the violence erupted the house goes quiet. The sound of glass breaking can be heard and the stark blackness of the night is pushed back by the bluish orange smear of flame of molotov cocktails.

Ty finds an ironing board and kicks off the legs. He's got a crazy idea. He's going to surf down the stairs while crouched on the board so that the egress will be faster than running and his profile will be smaller hopefully making him harder to hit. After all, he figures that they've got the front door covered - a sort of funnel of death in reverse. He takes a few deep breaths, holds his M4 against his body and kicks off.

As the former farm boy surfs down the stairs enemy fire riddles the railing and bannister. As he hits the foot of the stairs the board catches on the two guys that Polly smacked with the shotgun sending Ty rolling. He somehow manages to go with the flow and catches himself upright on his haunches, his M4 aimed at the door but he slams his shoulder against the wall that causes a wince.

As Ty lays down cover fire Polly runs down the steps and moves to take position. Ty's M4 goes black. Out of ammo. Polly annihilates the rabble at the door with one more dose of lead and she moves to take a new position.

As Polly was moving and Ty was drawing the 1911 from his chest rig two more figures burst into the great room now partially illuminated by the growing fire upstairs. One of the men had the booming voice heard before. He was a madman blazing away recklessly with a pistol in each hand.

Ty trains his weapon on the madman and squeezes off a round and he sees his target dive behind an overstuffed chair. He almost forgets that Polly too is engaged in mortal combat. Their gunfire sounds like distant thunder.

What looks like a giant figure leaps over the tumbling chair and comes at Ty showing a scarred face filled with inhuman rage. The 1911 barks two more times - the rounds going errant or causing no discomfort could not be told. The madman continued his course and crashed into Ty driving him backwards into a corner and began to pummel.

Polly by now was wounded in her fight against the twilight enemy. She was battling to find advantage.

Ty was seeing stars and relegation to giving up was rising in the back of his mind when a voice told him to get up. Determined, the former police officer turned militia member took a firm grip on his lifeline. He stuck the 1911 into the madman's gut and twice pulled the trigger. Slicked with blood, Ty woozily stumbled to push the massive once angry man off him. He was beaten to within an inch of unconsciousness (1 LB remaining).

Gasping, as he rose from his knees he saw Polly's limbs go awry as she sprawled backwards across the arm of a couch landing in a most unnatural position. (-4 LB)

Ty left out a yell of pure anger but he couldn't hear it over blasts still ringing in his ears. One more blast flares in the room and the rabble himself sprawls backward onto the dining room table.

The fight is over.

Ty tends to Polly discovering that she's still alive. Now he's got to figure out the next step.

That was the end of our session. Nathaniel and Simon. Great, great game design. We loved it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Epic followup

Over at I was asked how the mechanics worked for the story. I only gave a little glimpse in my writeup so here goes...

The mechanics forced the fiction to go the way it did. The PCs absolutely had to sneak up onto every encounter and try to gain absolute surprise. If you gain complete surprise and land your first strike then it's a critical. While a critical may not take them out completely it puts them right at death's door and virtually precludes them swinging back or doing pretty much anything else which was crucial. Neither of the PCs were armored up very heavily. If either one would have taken a hit or two and the alarm sounded then they would have been in big trouble. There was no chance that they could have waded through the outlaws. In a way the game's vibe felt like The Riddle of Steel. Perhaps it was the fact that if you work the combat options to your advantage you really do have an advantage. In combat you declare your intent at the top of the turn. If something in the game environment changes and you want to change your intent you have to drop an action option to do so. In that sense it felt like a few games but Burning Wheel in particular. It doesn't clone BW but carries a bit of that spirit.

Running the NPCs was pretty straight forward. 2D10 + Skill + Modifier > 5 = success in a static style test. When it's versus someone else the winner is he who rolls higher. Back in the cave with the small waterfalls splashing down from the ceiling (with the help of Mythic) we determined that the the difficulty modifier for hearing someone move was +5 or threshold 10. At several points we just figured that our PCs were doomed. The dice were not kind to the outlaw bandits.

Just to round out a bit of the mechanics even though they didn't show up in the session, a natural 2 is a fumble (low critical) and a natural 20 is a critical success (high critical). There is a small chart for each type of critical. The table is enough to give you the big picture of the crit and you fill in the rest. It's not as specifically exhaustive as Rolemaster or The Riddle of Steel. It's a good middle ground design choice. I really liked it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just gave Epic Role Playing for a whirl

Tonight we gave Epic a whirl using the Mythic GM Emulator. Holy mother of gaming!

My wife's character Elsbith was a rangery agile Leaf Walker. My character Wulfred was a mercenary with intuition as his natural talent. The setup was that we were on recon to find out why our main force didn't come back with the noble's 5 year old son who was being held captive by a group of outlaws.

The PCs reconnoiter the area where they suspect the boy is being held. They find a cave entrance amazingly being guarded by a single bandit. They achieve full surprise on the guard and launch two arrows into the poor sap. With it being full surprise each shot is a critical. One arrow to the head and the other to the neck. He goes down without a squeak. Elsbith and Wulfred sneak into the cave entrance to find that it opens up into a large underground complex. Amazingly it is well lit but still shadows lingered on the edges of the natural rock.

Up ahead the PCs see bodies - bodies of their men being looted by 3 hunched figures. Again Elsbith and Wulfred hold the upper hand with full surprise. This time the PCs act with swords drawn. Elsbith's sword strikes true and crumples the hunched figure with a stroke. Wulfred's strike lands on his opponent's arm breaking it. The struck bandit fumbles onto his back stunned by the sudden attack. The third figure looks up with abject horror in his eyes. Wulfred charges toward him hoping that he can strike the man down before the alarm is called. Elsbith brings up the rear with a bit more caution.

Wulfred swings his sword but the bandit evades while drawing a dagger. It's bad but it's all he's got. Before the bandit can take advantage of Wulfred being flat footed after the charge Elsbith runs him through with her long sword and he collapses in death. Elsbith watches down the hall while Wulfred drags the badly wounded bandit with the broken arm back into a crevice where a small waterfall splashes. Wulfred signals for Elsbith to come back where she begins doing some medical treatment to stabilize his wound. Wulfred begins interrogation but the bandit's resolve is strong and he holds firm. He's persuaded to give up information when Elsbith stops first aid. They find out that there's a side entrance to the area where the boy is being held. The main entrance goes through the main living quarters where there are up to 10 bandits.

The wounded bandit is bound and gagged. The plan is to take him along when they egress out of the cave. So, up the PCs climb up a short natural stone wall. They find that it's dark but wide open. By torch light they find an old suspension bridge slack across a chasm. The sound of fast running water boils out of the chasm so they figure that if they fall they are done for. Elsbith listens for bandits while Wulfred examines the bridge. His father was a siege engineer which led to him apprenticing in Siege Engineering for a military noble. He successfully appraises the problem - the main ropes are simply loose and would support two people if tightened up. With Elsbith's help the bridge repair is finished in no time.

Elsbith and Wulfred make their way across the bridge and immediately see a point of light ahead - the illuminated main passage. Taking up position on the edge of light and shadow Elsbith peeks around the corner to see a bandit killing time in the main hall. The PCs dash across the passage to take up a better position. Somehow the bandit didn't see them. It didn't hurt that the sound of churning water was louder here because of a series of small waterfalls plunging down from the ceiling to an unseen underground river. Two arrows dropped the sole bandit like a rag doll. Wulfred rushes out into the light and drags the downed bandit back into the shadows where he and Elsbith check their bearings. They figure that heading left would take them back toward the cave entrance on the way through the main living quarters. So they go right.

The PCs pick their way forward till they hear two voices. Voices of a man and a child. The man is trying to force the boy to eat. Wulfred times his attack with the gesticulations of the bandit who is yelling at the boy. Wulfred swings his sword into the bandit's right hip. The bandit buckles but does not fall from the strike. He spins around swinging his fist but Wulfred steps back from the punch. The next stroke decapitates the stumbling bandit. The headless body stumbles and falls sideways crashing into a bucket of gruel. Wulfred doesn't hesitate and dashes forward to muzzle the whimpering boy. The entire time Elsbith watches the main passage and sweats bullets hearing the noise coming from the back chamber.

Wulfred sneaks out to Elsbith's position revealing to her that the boy is chained but that the key was not on the bandit in the room. While Elsibth keeps watch Wulfred checks the nearest dead bandit. Again no key! They decide to hurry back and check their tied up captive. It's very unlikely that he has the key but it's worth checking. Maybe he can tell them who does. Against the odds he has it! Hmm, he's more important than first thought. Perhaps the leader? The PCs don't have time to dawdle so they head directly back to the boy and remove his shackles. Wulfric gags the him, slings him up over his shoulder and heads back through the side passage - completing extrication along with a prisoner as a prize.