Friday, January 30, 2015

Actual Play: IKRPG Campaign Episode 1

Well, finally catching up here. Last night (a Thursday), I once again brought my good friends and players into the Iron Kingdoms, this time to play a full-party game in the city of Merin, in Ord.

Scott returned as Gork, newly modified as an Intellectual Gobber Investigator/Pistoleer, but still retaining his penchant for stealing other people's drinks from their tables in crowded taverns.

Aidan returned, but due to events from her prelude Stershan was forced to change his name to Belisar . He remains Trollkin Gunmage/Soldier, and still manages to kick all kinds of ass. Good times.

Returning his appearance in the Fools Rush In system test is Russell, playing Rhulio the Dwarf Warcaster/Field Mechanic from...Rhul. He's as good at naming characters as Abed, apparently. Thus far, Rhulio is an abrasive tee-totaler.

Lastly, new to the IKRPG table is Joseph, playing Tiberio Antelero, Ordic Arcanist/Explorer, a respected author of exotic travelogues, penny dreadfuls, and bodice rippers.

They meet with Tiberio's patron, Padri Duranti, in the Broken Drum for a job offer, but soon are embroiled in a confounding series of violent eruptions by Merin's Khadoran population. Soon the party discovers that they are in a race against time to resolve a plot for bloody vengeance, pitted against an elderly and disfigured one-armed man whose deadly grudge against the Northern Empire may be all-too justified.

IKRPG Session 1: The Evils of Drink

Actual Play: IKRPG Campaign Prelude (Stershan and Gork)

Well, a few weeks late with this one, the Actual Play was recorded two Thursdays ago, but I suppose I need to post this one before I post the second one.

Ever since my good friend and GM Susan over at EpicMiniPainting ran a nice, lengthy IKRPG campaign, I've wanted to run my own, bringing more and more people into the world of Caen and, specifically, into the region of Western Immoren.

This session I had some players cancel, but two were able to make it in, and so I had the distinct pleasure of running a prelude for my buddies Scott and Aidan, who were more than thrilled to come back after I'd previously run Fools Rush In, which also featured them in the pre-gen party.

All the action in this session takes place in the 'officially' Cygnaran city of Fellig that has been long-since cut off from the Cygnar mainland by Khador's southward expansion.

Scott is playing Gork, a Gobber black marketeer and drink-stealer from Merin, while Aidan is playing Stershan, a Trollkin gunmage deserter from the Cygnaran Army who is also the only survivor of his platoon of Arcane Tempest Gunmages.

They become involved with an Ordic military officer who is troubled by his mistress' seeming recent coolness, and hires the gobber and trollkin to follow her and see if she has been 'stepping out' with any other men.

Is everything as it seems? Find out in today's episode of Crit This! Presents...

IKRPG Session 0: For the Love of a Good Woman

Mechanical Errors:

2:18:00ish Gunmages do indeed cast their Rune Shot spells immediately before firing their weapons: they do not need to keep a list of imbued Rune Shots. They do, however, still need to make their bullets beforehand.

2:28:00ish Combat actions in IKRPG are Move, Attack, Quick action. There is no specific order in which you can take them; this is in contrast to the wargame, where one moves then attacks.

2:48:20ish Stat rolls cannot be boosted, only trained skills can be boosted with Feat Points.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Itemized Expenses in RPGs

We've all suffered from under the thumb of GMs who have made us account for every copper spent, every arrow shot, every ration consumed (every half-elf prostitute back-alley murdered, GTA-style), and I'm sure a lot of people are exhausted of the concept of all-consuming accounting when what players most want to do at the table is have their characters shoot arrows into shady fantasy hookers while making it rain and eating the D&D equivalent of filet mignon and then seamlessly move on to ever more glorious acts of simulated sociopathy.

As a player, I tend to agree with the above. As much as I treasure Chargen, I feel that when I sit at a table in front of a GM, the only time I should have to break out the calculator app on my phone is during new character generation or, very occasionally, after a milestone level up is achieved. Having to deal with the minutiae of everyday expenses is tedious enough in the real world, and on those few occasions I actually have the bravery to look at an itemized credit card account statement I feel like the child that is eternally decomposing inside my now-adult psyche just sloughed off another layer of ability to feel pure, unadulterated joy.

That said- and it may come as a surprise to people- but there are players out there that might seek to take advantage of the fact that very few tables tend to enforce even the barest sense of bookkeeping at the table. They purchase expensive weapons in low-money campaigns and fire hails of bullets cast from silvered plutonium. Their materiel expenses per-round can rival a city's yearly operating costs, and they get away with it, too, either in the name of narrative or because we, as GMs, just don't really care to call them on it.

Whether or not this constitutes a problem to you depends on the type of GM you are, and there are all types out there.

Lately, I've become more of a stickler GM. I've begun to sweat the small things, and I've started calling out situations in games where established rules would make some player actions impossible, according to the mechanics of the game.

I'm not saying this to start some kind of discussion over whether or not games are meant to be run RAW (rules as written) or RAI (rules as interpreted). I'm pretty sure those are the proper acronyms...

Actually, quite the opposite. I'm thinking of attempting to figure out a way to ease the burden of bookkeeping so that a middle-ground can be reached. I am reminded of the Pendragon system- possibly due to the fact that I am playing in a weekly Pendragon game- where every year, an accounting phase occurs, called the Winter Phase. It is organized, there are sheets, and charts, and everything else needed to accommodate this potentially-tedious game phase. I am thinking of pirating that line of thinking for my own purposes; definitely not to the extent of the manner that Pendragon does, though.

Rather, what comes to mind is the creation of a sort of itemized expense sheet. Form-fillable, consisting of the monthly cost of room and board, equipment upkeep (included ammunition expenses), and miscellaneous expenses (too many potential draws on income to list here, but also good ways for players to inform as to what they end up doing in their downtime).

This would also be an appropriate location to put in miscellaneous income, for those characters that might have professional skills, in order to offset the drain their expenses come from. This would create a final tally, whereby players know exactly how much surplus money they have each month for carousing, or splurging on equipment; it also means that if their expenses result in a deficit, it shows how much reward/loot money from in-game plot quests they actually accrue.

This would create a simple form that would only need to be updated in the event of a significant character upgrade (in either equipage or status), but would also give the player some sense of bargaining in systems where they were unfamiliar with the value of their currency.

For example, in the IKRPG, an average room in an inn costs 1gc for the night, and each meal at that inn costs 1gc. This may seem high or low or inconsequential (depending on how one is doling out monetary rewards in-game), but it informs that a player living at this level would expect to be paying 120gc for room and board each month in an average living situation. Now, imagine that player's GM were to offer them a job that would take them more than two weeks to conceivably accomplish, but only pay them, say 150gc for it. That might seem like a decent offer, until one realizes that 150gc is to be split between a party of four players.

Suddenly players actually know what their time is worth, GMs know what kind of rewards are actually appropriate towards their players' party, and as such they know what kind of jobs, and the danger associated with those jobs, is likely to be on offer to them.

Just some food for thought. Appropriately enough, I'll be broaching this topic to my IKRPG players hopefully this week, and perhaps we'll see how they take it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Actual Play: Scrolls and Swords

Scrolls and Swords RPG (larger)

Well, after getting linked by my good bro Larkins at the Esoteric Order of Roleplayers, how could I resist actually posting the thing that he, himself, posted?

Indeed, this game, called Scrolls and Swords, was the result of a last-minute decision to play a RPG the day after my birthday, when I had no prior campaign or core game, or one-shot scenario planned. Thus, I found Scrolls and Swords during a rousing game of Scrabble with the family (that I seriously underrepresented at, due to my serious reading of the above rulesheet, and trying to come up with interesting and hilarious takes on classic D&D monsters.)

I actually had a really great time prepping for this game, which involved ten minutes of learning the rules (so easy), and another hour and a half drawing up a hex map, of which the players experienced three locations, but I was happy to hear that Jade was particularly tickled by the concept of the Smorgasfjords, so we will likely be returning to my Scrolls and Swords world soon!

There is much more to fill in on the map, and I have some great character sheets to upload during later sessions, along with potentially more hexes filled in on the above map!

Players: Jade, Russell, Scott

GM: David Schimpff


You can download the episode here (right click, Save As).