Monday, 14 January 2019

Frozen Skies Session 14: The Expendables

After a break due to Christmas and New Years, the group met up again to continue the campaign...though we were short a couple of players. We picked things up from where we'd left off, the immediate aftermath of Tag's death and the surviving crew needing to escape the wrecked skyship. It was a chance to use the Chase Rules from SWADE, which I'll give my thoughts on later, and the crew then made their next move.


Erm...Run?!

Alex, Herbert and Sebastian reached the cargo hold of the wrecked aero-vessel just as Tag finally perished after killing the last Ghost Hound. Whilst Sebastian stood guard, Herbert quickly check Tag's body and confirmed that he was beyond saving, Alex, hearing the howls of the other beasts onboard, quickly grabbed some items from Tag's corpse (including the artefact they'd come for) before suggesting that they make their way back to the Stormrider with all due haste.

During the flight through the icy corridors and passageways of the wreck, the crew found themselves being pursued by a pack of four Ghost Hounds. Due to the head-start the crew had, only one of the beasts managed to get close enough to get a mouthful of Sebastian's coat. The good doctor and the sharpshooter managed to deal with the beasts with well placed rifle shots, Alex was focused on getting to safety.

The Tyranny of  Captain Alex

Having made it back to the safety of the Stormrider, Alex immediately ordered two crewmen (the two who had restrained him when things became heated previously) to head out to the wreck to start salvaging it. Alex then proceeded to release Reginald from the brig and got him to 'test' the Stormrider's main guns in the direction of the skyship wreck, smashing the ice round it and trapping the two crewmen in a tomb of metal and ice. With that act of petty vengeance concluded, Alex then cemented his captaincy and introduced a new set of rules for the airship ratings to follow.

Having established himself as the new captain, Alex then ordered a course be made for Broken Spires despite the crew's original plan of avoiding the pirate haven. Though with Alex being the only one giving orders and a general lack of other ideas, Broken Spires it was. Approaching the canyons that were the natural gates to the ramshackle town, another airship was spotted ahead of them making for the settlement as well. This airship bore the name 'Ogman's Hand' below a large picture of a hand of playing decks, though the airship made no move towards the Stormrider and came into one of the aero-docks.

After docking the Stormrider, Alex's plan started to become clear as he sent some ratings out for supplies before taking Sebastian with him to go visit Natasha Rogan and her outfit of female sky pirates. Meeting with the leader of the Banshees, Alex informed her of Tag's death and of the supposed Commonwealth plot against Broken Spires. Tash took both pieces of information with a stoic calmness, then listened to Alex's offer of perhaps using the latter to possibly take out a rival gang. After explaining about the 'politics' of Broken Spires and how it was governed by an uneasy alliance of the most powerful captains, Tash said that she would consider the offer. When Alex asked about a certain broker of secrets that Tag had dealings with, Tash said she would see about getting word to them.

The crew stayed in Broken Spires for a couple of days until they were approached by a smartly dressed gentleman, who identified himself as an agent of Andrei. The man first stated that Andrei had requested the crew's presence in Gravenburgh for a meeting, also stated that Andrei now owned both the Stormrider and the front company that Alex had setup. Needless to say, preparations were made for a hasty departure to Gravenburgh.

Ah, Andrei I Presume?

The crew arrived in Gravenburgh at the meeting point, a warehouse district close to the airfield that was strangely deserted despite it being the middle of the day. Sebastian set himself up with his rifle on top of a nearby warehouse to give him a good vantage in case of trouble and he confirmed that the immediate area was quiet. There was a sole limbo with a uniformed driver waiting patiently, though only Alex was allowed into the passenger compartment whilst the driver remained outside.

Waiting inside the limbo was Andrei, who greeted Alex and offered condolences with regards to Tag's death. The two then proceeded to talk business, chiefly the two job offers that Andrei had previously discussed with Tag. Alex agreed to hand over the box from the skyship wreck that resulted in Tag's death, he also agreed to do the airship heist job that the crew had been reluctant to do. After payment was agreed upon and Andrei handed over the necessary information, the crew set about preparing themselves.

Thoughts

As mentioned, we got to use the Chase rules from SWADE.

We went for the 9 Chase Card setup recommended in the rulebook, a pack of 4 Ghost Hounds on Card 1 with the PCs on Card 3 to represent a head-start. There seemed to be a little bit of confusion between Actions and Free Actions, though things still went fairly smoothly as everyone was mainly focused on keeping ahead of the beasts and 'escaping' from the skyship wreck. It proved to be pretty short, lasting only two rounds before the players managed to defeat the Ghost Hounds. The beasts, for that part, failed to catch up and only got lucky when they went before a player. For melee only characters, it seems they need to start closer to their opponents during setup or ensure they get higher ranked Action Cards.

I really really like the SWADE Chase Rules over their Deluxe ancestor, though I need to try them out more so my group gets used to using them.

As for the campaign itself, despite my fear of a setup with Tag's death it appears we're still on track with regards to plot. Though the players have managed to trigger some stuff early and thats open up a few opportunities for me to advance the plot.

Monday, 7 January 2019

The Commonwealth Revisited

Welcome to 2019!

Currently working on getting Frozen Skies updated to SWADE, going through and changing rules where needed so that they're in-line with the newest edition of Savage Worlds. Though its got me thinking about the setting more, in particular its background and world history with the view of tightening it up and making things clearer. There are a few areas of the fluff that I'd like to improve and develop upon, make things more coherent in their details. The Commonwealth is something I wish to take another look at and incorporate some ideas and changes.


The Commonwealth: An Alternative Take

I've posted previously about the Commonwealth, mainly to get a few solid details down and set in stone as I developed the rest of the world beyond Alyeska. People have probably noticed a strong British feel for the Commonwealth, this is partially deliberate but something that I wish to tone down. As an alternative I wish to develop a general Celtic feel to the Commonwealth, an aspect of which already exists in the setting (the sky goddess Taran is a nod to Taranis).

How the Commonwealth is governed is going to remain largely unchanged; there is still a monarch and a parliament to rule over the country. The monarch may have different or alternative titles, perhaps one in 'English' (for the reader) and a title in the actual language of the the Commonwealth. The government will have a similar thing with its title, though its structure is likely to be a little bit different.

Though I am looking at including a new body between the monarch and the government called the Provost Council. The Council is a formal body of advisers to the monarch made up of his/her's representatives at the provincial and county levels, they are known as Lord Provosts and Provosts respectively. They are generally appointed by the monarch on the advise of the provincial governments. It basically functions like a privy council, though it does have the power to make decisions in the monarch's absence.

There is a sort of national law enforcement agency called the Garda (after the Irish Garda), though this functions along similar lines to the FBI or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Garda would generally be tasked to deal with so-called 'high crimes' or cases that effect the national interests of the Commonwealth. There would be more traditional police forces at the provincial and city level, though considering calling these town and city watches.

Mulling the idea of making the Commonwealth a clan based society. The idea being is that each clan is made up of a core family after which the clan is named, plus a number of affiliated families who are linked to the core family but have different surnames. Additionally, each clan maintains its own militia forces mainly protect the clan's interests as well as to help defend the Commonwealth should the need arise. 

To resolve internal disputes and help keep the clan's legal affairs in order, each clan will appoint an official known as a Justiciar. In addition to handling internal clan disputes, the Clan Justiciar also the official that deals with marriages, death certificates, etc. A Lord High Justiciar is appointed by the Crown and is charged with ensuring with keeping the peace between the various clans. Each also has a recognised speaker or representative called a Ravener, who acts in the Clan Chief's stead. The title is used to reflect the use of ravens as messenger birds and that the post holder acts as a messenger for the Clan.

Thats some ideas I have at the moment, though if they prove to be a big hit with people I'll see about developing them further.  

Monday, 24 December 2018

Death's Chase: SWADE Edition

Part of the process of updating Frozen Skies to SWADE includes going over various rules. This includes the rules for the Death's Chase air race, basically adapting it for the new Chase rules. Recently got the chance to playtest it, so this week's post is the setup and how things worked out.

Additionally; Happy Holidays folk, will be taking a break until the New Year.


The Setup

*All agreed upon a row of 15 cards with everyone starting on Card 1.

*A single 'lap' was along the entire row, then looping back round to Card 1 for the next lap.

*The modifiers for Complications were in effect when it came to Shooting rolls, reasoning that the target aircraft is constantly moving about to dodge pillars of rock, etc. (Later realize that we'd forgotten about Unstable Platform and Recoil).

*Everyone got to automatically move one card before doing any Actions, basically to try and keep things mobile.
 
Everyone also got d8 for both Piloting, Repair and Shooting in addition to the Edges Ace and Ace Gunner (from Frozen Skies). Otherwise, we followed the Chase rules in SWADE, trying to keep things simple.
 
How It Worked & Feedback
 
For the most part it seemed to work, though it was clear some further tweaks were needed and the group came up with some ideas after the game.

*Having the Complications modifiers being active for Shooting seemed to be a good idea, though the players suggested extending them to manoeuvrers.This would certainly help encourage more of a "seat of your pants flying" feel. (Though the modifiers for Shooting will be dropped)

*Something that did crop up was that for 2 or 3 turns a couple of players effectively 'looped' back and forth between two cards. The players suggested making dropping back along the cards just a normal Action (so no Free Action) and requiring a roll to do so. (Though discussion with others the only change is probably going to be requiring a roll for dropping back)

*Attacking targets on the same card, suggestion here was to probably only allow it if the aircraft as a turret or side mounted pintle weapons.

*Another thing discussed was make it more of a difference between aircraft when it comes to speed, though as a group we didn't really come up with any solutions. I have thought about the possibility of having it so that aircraft move a card for each 100 MPH of their speed before doing stuff like Change Position, the latter bit could be a boost to move an extra card or two. There was also a suggestion to expand upon the modifiers above to include bonuses on Heart and Diamond Chase Cards, basically to represent the aircraft going flat out on a relatively clear stretch of the course.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Frozen Skies Adventure Edition

So Savage Worlds Adventure Edition has been released (at least to Kickstarter backers at time of writing) and the non-disclosure agreement lifted, means I'm free to talk about how SWADE will effect Frozen Skies. Stated previously that I'll be doing an Update & Errata PDF dubbed 'Black Ice', basically covering the changes to Frozen Skies that will be incorporated into the SWADE version. So this week we'll be taking a look at some of those changes and one or two new ideas.





Edges & Hindrances

Least one Edge (Mechanic) has been dropped since the Mr Fix It Edge works mechanically the same with similar requirements.

Social Edges & Hindrances have been updated to work with the new Networking rules. Some work slightly different in SWADE than they did in SWD, likewise they've had the bonuses they provide brought inline with SWADE.

Ace Gunner is one of the Edges that have been completely changed; No longer does it provide a flat bonus to Shooting with vehicle mounted weapons, rather it now acts as a modifier for rolls on the Vehicle Critical Hit Table.

Pilot's Instincts is a new Edge and one that works by granting a bonus to your aircraft's Evasion score when you have an Action Card of 5 or less.

Aircraft & Combat

Aircraft have been updated to match the new vehicle stats in SWADE, though this has resulted in a reworking of the Aircraft Creation Rules. This means some of the aircraft modifications have been changed to match the new vehicle stats. For example, Airbrakes now provides a bonus to Handling when the aircraft is at less than half its Top Speed.

There will be some new modifications such as Armoured Cockpit which adds armor for Crew results on the Vehicle Critical Hit Table. I'm also toying with the idea of allowing extra spaces on an aircraft for modifications, but at the expense of reduced Handling.

Another new thing I'm looking at for aerial combat is different altitude levels, mainly for modifiers based on which altitude the aircraft is flying at and other factors. This could potentially effect aircraft modifications.

Death's Chase

Though an extension of the aircraft rules for Frozen Skies, it deserves its own mention.

I've already posted on social media that it will be based on the new chase rules for SWADE, though expand upon what those rules a little bit. The new chase rules use a second deck of cards to determine the chase, ranging from relative distance between those involved and complications. Though the value of the cards are normally only use to determine complications when they come up, I'm thinking of extending that to provide modifiers to both Piloting and Shooting rules regardless of whether there is a complication or not. My thought was that the cards themselves would represent the actual course of the race.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Frozen Skies Episode 13: Tomb of Ice and Metal

Now flying the airship Stormrider following efforts last time to chart a new course for the crew's future, it was time to conduct their first venture with the new aero-vessel. Though it wasn't entirely plain sailing as there was dragonhawk related shenanigans, including an encounter with a flock of wild dragonhawks. The glory of finding an Alyeskan legend was tempered by the death of a key member of the crew.


Et tu, Mutt?

His breath steamed in the chilled air like a locomotive as he laid there gasping in pain from where the best had savaged his leg. Blood pooled round him as it poured from the ravaged flesh, though ice crystals were starting to form as the warmth was sucked from it and it began to freeze.What little he knew about battlefield triage was enough to tell him what he needed to know.

He wasn't coming out of this one alive.

The beast growled as it circled round, blood matting the fur round its mouth as it bared its teeth and snarled. Desperately he worked the action on his pistol and managed to extract the round that had caused the firearm to jam, just in time as the hound started charging towards him.

He could hear the shouts of the others, but they were too late...too damn late.

With great effort he brought the gun to bare as the animal leapt towards him, snarling as it bared its teeth and its pure white eyes seemed to burn with malice.

A strange calm seemed to come upon him and time seemed to slow as he resigned himself to his fate.

He was going to die here.

Die in this tomb of ice and metal.

Three Days Earlier...

The crew had opted to spend the night in Bowerstead Post and move on in the morning, some took it as the chance to deal with outstanding business in the settlement. Herbert sought out Ardan, seeking to enquire about the infant dragonhawk running amok in his warehouse. A deal was struck; Herbert could take the dragonhawk in exchange for an undisclosed favour being called in by Ardan at a later date. Happy, Herbert sneaked the dragonhawk onto the airship and stowed it on the orlop deck (lowest deck) of the airship with some crates of food.

All was going well until one of the ratings came down in search of some spare parts, though they made an abrupt U-turn upon seeing the dragonhawk and made to hurry back the way they came. Herbert ran after the rating and tackled them, though the rating managed to call out for help and word soon floated up to Tag on the bridge. Sebastian got sent down to see what the matter was, though when he reported back to the bridge he got told by Tag to deal with the problem. Though when he tried to get Herbert to get rid off the beast, Herbert managed to persuade the sharpshooter to let him keep the creature.

Over the next couple of days Tag eventually found out when a flock of dragonhawks encountered the airship and circled round it squawking and screeching. One of the crew mentioned about the young dragonhawk had brought onboard, after which Herbert was called to the bridge. Alex, meanwhile, had gone to one of the MG positions with the intent of shooting down the beasts....only for the gun to jam immediately (which turned out to be one 'upgraded' by Reginald). Back on the bridge Herbert explained himself and, despite his misgivings, Tag reluctantly agreed that the creature could stay but Herbert was fully responsible for it. The wild dragonhaks, in the mean time, had parted ways with the Stormrider.

Finding an Alyeskan Legend

A day or so later, the airship arrived in the area of Ragnar Point and the crew set about seeking a legend of Alyeskan lore; the Wreck of the Skellig.

After searching the sea ice for quite some time and eventually they were rewarded by spotting an object sticking out of the ice. Upon closer examination it appeared to be a wrecked skyship, half-buried in the ice. The ice round the wreck cracked alarmingly and so only a handful dare venture to cross over to the wreck, though moving at a slow and careful pace. The crew managed to reach the wreck without mishap.

Exploring the dark interior of the wreck they came across the skeleton remains of its crew, though no clue as to what befell the skyship and its crew. Though as they explored deeper into the wrecked aero-vessel the crew became aware that they weren't alone, rapid tapping noises and half-glimpsed shadows served to heighten the tension in the air. Alex was the first to be attacked, receiving a strike from behind that somehow failed to inflict any harm. Turning, Alex was able to see that his attacker was some type of wolf-like creature with silvery grey fur and pure white eyes. Though a shot at point blank from his gun crane soon put the beast down.

Sebastian was next to be attacked, but easily dealt with his foe. Though the crew could now all hear howls echoing throughout the wreck, prompting Tag to hasten down to the cargo hold in order to grab an item that Andrei had requested. However, in the cargo hold he encountered four of the beasts waiting for him. Two of them, in their aggressive haste to attack Tag, slipped on the icy floor and went sprawling. Having only two foes presenting an immediate threat, Tag was able to deal with them in short order. The third he also managed to deal with swiftly, but his pistol jammed and the four managed to get in to ravage Tag's leg. Collapsing to the floor and feeling his lifeblood flowing freely from him, Tag desperately tried to get his pistol cleared. He could hear the others coming, but he knew they would be too late.

The beast circled round and leapt to strike the killing blow, though Tag managed to get his pistol working and delivered a killing blow upon the beast. Ultimately, it was too little too late as the beast's momentum carried it forward and its teeth clamped round Tag's throat. As the others finally burst into the cargo hold, the last of Tag's life force left him.

Thoughts

Wow, a character death that wasn't at the hands of another character.

I'd be the first to admit that I thought the characters were going to be other tasks, though something that they may still end up doing at a later date. Though Tag's death was unexpected and puts a little bit of a spanner in the works for plot later in the campaign, though that can be worked around. Tag's player admitted that he was looking to retire the character soon, so Tag's death worked out.

Does now mean that technically isn't a captain no more, though I'm looking at addressing this.

Monday, 3 December 2018

What Is...Aerothium?

With a new edition of Savage Worlds on the horizon, I've been going through and updating Frozen Skies to reflect the new rules. Alot of this has been mostly changes to stats, Edges and Hindrances. It is also a golden opportunity to go through the fluff of the setting, edit and improve the parts I'm not 100% happy with. The objective of this is to try and make the fluff more clear by tracking down and rewriting the contradictions about the setting, basically to make things a little less disjointed. The first of this so-called "What Is...?" series is a look at the lifting gas of the air vessels found within the setting; AEROTHIUM.


Whole Lotta Lift-ing

More commonly known as 'Lift Gas', Aerothium is the lifting gas used to give the airships of Darmonica erm...lift. Though in its natural state it is actually a mineral mined from the ground, then refined using an alchemical process to turn it into a gas. It is believed that the Ancient Terrans were the first to discover the process and then used Aerothium to enable their skyships through the skies. After the Fall of the Ancients the knowledge was lost, though it was rediscovered through a mixture of experimentation and the finding of fragments of information. It is widely acknowledged that modern processes of refining Aerothium are nowhere near as efficient as those used by the Ancients.

Aerothium gas, as mentioned, is used as the lifting gas for aero-vessels in the world of Darmonica. Though whilst not actually able to produce much lift on its own, it has an advantage over other gases in that it can be manipulated into producing more lift. It was discovered that if an electrical current was run through some Aerothium, the gas became lighter and thus had more lift. The greater the current, the greater the lift produced. It meant that aero-vessels could be larger and have greater carrying capacity. Though over time, Aerothium degrades with use and requires ever greater amount of current in order to continue producing lift. Typically, most aero-vessels will have their Aerothium replaced on a regular basis.

Currently, nobody is sure what the finite limit is for usable lift from Aerothium. There have been reports of wrecked skyships, dubbed 'air hulks', with Aerothium still in their gas cells riding lightning storms. It is believed that lightning strikes on these wrecks energize the gas in much the same way as an electrical current in normal operations. Though the fate of most air hulks, save for those salvaged, it unknown and thus it has been difficult for any serious studies to be conducted.

Thanks to the Skywright's Guild monopoly on Aerothium there exists a black market, unfortunately this tends to be for used gas siphoned from wrecked airships. Only the criminal or desperate would buy the stuff due to the increased risk for disaster with the reduced amount of usable lift available.

Using Aerothium In-game

Aerothium could be used as the plot device for an adventure, typically with the characters need to get their hands on some for their airship or to sell to a crime lord. The latter option could work for a campaign as the crime lord finds he's been sold used Aerothium and comes after the characters in order to get some revenge.

More game mechanic wise, Aerothium could have a big impact on the characters' airship as it degrades. Every time the character actually piloting the airship critical fails their Piloting roll a -1 penalty is incurred to the airship's Handling, to a maximum of -4. This penalty is removed when the Aerothium is replaced.

Additionally, different grades of Aerothium can be used with penalties or bonuses to an airship's Handling depending on the grade.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Frozen Skies Episode 12: Paranoia Keeps Us Apart

Last time, the crew had an encounter with the Shackleton Detective Agency who had a bounty warrant for one of the crew. They had also had made some serious plans about their future, achieving the long-term goal of one of the characters. This session saw the Shackletons being dealt with and the crew's own paranoia driving events and resulting in player vs player combat.


Meeting the Shackletons

Having already agreed to meet the Shackletons at one of the hotels in Gravenburgh, the crew set about making plans and preparations. Reginald set about crafting some gadgets aided by Herbert, just a few items that may or may not come in useful. Tag spoke to Sebastian about possible reasons why there may be a bounty on him, Sebastian mentioned that he was part of a vigilante group in his earlier years that ran afoul of somebody who had the law in their pocket. Though Reginald did reveal that he knew the Shackleton's employer, a certain Lord Bellington, who was involved in his father's business dealings (but didn't mention one critical fact).

Following day the crew set out for the hotel to meet the Shackletons in order to resolve matters, though Alex split off from the group to complete his own task. They also brought along most of the ratings from the airship, leaving the crew chief Maguire and a couple of hands to guard the airship. At the hotel only Tag and Sebastian went inside to meet the Shackletons whilst the rest of the crew remained nearby, though there was only one Shackleton waiting for them in the hotel's saloon. The Shackleton identified himself by presenting a Shackleton Detective badge and produced the warrant when Tag asked to see it. Checking the name on the warrant, Tag explained that the person mentioned in the bounty was dead and that he had a death certificate to prove it (Alex had actually created Sebastian a new identity some time back). A letter also was handed to the detective, unaware that it was a fake letter crafted by Alex to sucker the Shackletons onto a gang he'd had some recent bother with.

So the Shackleton, Tag and Sebastain (or whatever name he was now using) went and got the death certificate officially confirmed. The detective then got his warrant voided at a local police station, though took a copy of the death certificate as 'proof' for his employer. Before parting ways, the detective revealed some key information; Lord Bellington was to be Reginald's future brother-in-law and wasn't happy to find that his bride-to-be had been sallied by another man (Sebastian). His Lordship wanted Sebastian brought back to the Home Isles alive, so that he could challenge him to a duel. The Shackleton also said that the crew could expect to be let alone by the Shackletons, but couldn't vouch for his employer.

The crew met up again, though Reginald went round town soon afterwards to do some shopping for various pieces. Top of his list was radio parts to create tracking beacons for the crew. Tag meanwhile spoke to Alex and used a couple of his past aliases, prompting a response from the self-styled money man and con artist. Tag then went onto explain how he'd met a broker of secrets called Andrei, but warned Alex against trying anything rash. There was an uneasy agreement made that they would wait until they'd learned more about Andrei before moving against him, but in the meantime they would take any work he offered.

Bittersweet Homecoming

With their business in Gravenburgh concluded for the time being, the crew set off with both the Waylander and the now repaired air hulk bound for Bowerstead Post. They intended to hand the Waylander back over to the logging company, then go forwards flying their recently acquired airship which had been christened the Stormrider (strangely fitting since it had been rescued from a storm). They also met up with Ardan Gowan, who was less than happy to see them. He wasn't happy because the smuggling job he'd hired them to do went south and they didn't deliver all the goods, so he only paid them half of what was promised. He also wasn't happy that a dragonhawk egg they'd left him had hatched and he now had to deal with a young dragonhawk that was the size of a horse. Alex remembered he'd left another egg in his apartment at Bowerstead and hurried off to check it, thankfully it hadn't hatched and so they sell had an egg to sell.

Herbert and Reginald headed over to a makeshift shooting range at Bowestead Post to practice their skill at arms. Reginald in particular wanted to get some practice using a glimmer gun he'd picked up, though first time he tried firing it the Ancient Terran weapon exploded and injured both him and the good doctor. Sebastain had been observing the proceedings and Alex got wind of the incident, joining the dots that Reginald had used glimmer rock in the tracking beacons and so had technically planted explosives on everyone. After the duo had dealt with their wounds, Reginald found himself being confronted by Alex about the 'explosives'. Things ended up getting a bit heated and Reginald deployed his two mechanical bodyguards against both Alex and Herbert, though the automatons got scrapped by Alex and Sebastian in short order. Sebastian had also rounded up some of the crew to grapple and thus restrain the combatants in an attempt to calm things down.

It was at this point that Tag rocked up with a 50-calibre rifle and stunned everyone into silence. After giving everyone an ear-bashing for brawling with one another, he asked what had happened before giving Reginald another ear-bashing and introducing the butt of the rifle to his head thus knocking him out. Everyone got dismissed and Herbert dragged Reginald to the Stormrider's infirmary to tend to the additional wounds the tinkerer had suffered in the brawl, though a 'mishap' saw Reginald gain a facial scar. Tag set about getting the crew ready to complete Andrei's job.

In the airship's cargo hold, a certain egg started shaking as cracks appeared....

Thoughts

Well, that was unexpected.

Everyone had turned up for this session expecting a big fight with the Shackletons, though neither side were actually willing to fight unless the other pushed things. Regardless, it probably won't be the last that the crew hear of the Shackletons or Lord Bellington.

That said, combat still ended up happening...just in a way nobody expected. It ended up being quite hilarious as people still got to play Adventure Cards they'd picked as part of their plans for the expected big fight. Shaking in their Boots had been taken by Tag with the intention of using against the Shackletons, but proved to be a godsend when the crew brawl broke out. Likewise, Sebastian used Angry Mob to summon some of the airship ratings to restrain Herbert, Reginald and Sebastian. Reginald's scar was the result of Herbert using the Hot Iron and Whiskey card to heal his wounds from the brawl.

It is interesting to note that Herbert's player has decided to take the Beast Master Edge as his next Advance, he wants to harness the dragonhawk from the second egg. So I'm having to figure out the stats for a young dragonhawk and how long it takes to grow and mature. Players like making things easy for their GMs don't they?

Lastly, Alex's letter to the Shackletons could potentially spell trouble for the crew later on.

Monday, 19 November 2018

The Shackletons

The world of Darmonica boasts many different organisations, ranging from small outfits to transnational corporate entities. Each one has varying levels of influence and reach, all determining their impact upon the world. One organisation that has made a name for itself (though some say infamously so) is the Shackleton Detective Agency.


The Shackletons

The Shackletons can trace their origins to over a century ago to the magistrate Archibald Shackleton, who chose to establish an official group of thief-takers to help combat the growing crime in the boroughs of the Commonwealth's capital of Lindun. Though within a handful of decades, Shackleton's force was made redundant by the establishment of a more formal police force. Increasingly, the Shackletons had been hired by business concerns and industrialists to help improve their corporate security. Over time the Shackletons grew ever more involved with strikebreaking, first by providing guards for factories to protect them from strikers and then acting as strike-breakers themselves.

It was in the years just before the Great Darmonican War that the Shackletons acquired their infamous reputation, an incident that many have since dubbed the 'Battle of Blackgreave'. Against the backdrop of a widespread coal miner's strike, a number of picket line had been established by the strikers. One of these picket lines was at the Blackgreave Coking Works, which turned coal into coke for the steel industry. The strikers had strengthened their picket at Blackgreave in order to halt coal supplies to the coking works to create a major disruption for the Commonwealth's industries. Having already earned a reputation as strikebreakers, the Shackletons were called in to ensure that coal supplies got through to the plant. The resulting clash saw many of the strikers dead or wounded, though officials ensured that any outcry against the Shackletons was hushed up but they had become to be seen as a tool of the industrialists.

Aside from their strikebreaking efforts, the Shackletons still retain their original role as private detectives...though admittedly for wealthy clients. They also work as bounty hunters, though again only for wealthy clients and only in certain situations. Typically the 'bounty' that the Shackleton normally handle are warrants applied by wealthy patrons against persons who have 'wronged' them in some fashion. Since the warrant is issued by a magistrate there has to be reasonable grounds for approval, a measure designed to limit the warrants being abused. It does give the Shackletons the powers of peace officers in that they can technically arrest their target, though the warrant has to be presented to local police forces and the arrest declared once it has been made. Despite efforts to limit the practice, the upper class of society does tend to use the warrants to ensure that opponents turn up for duels arranged to settle disputes.

Game & Adventure Ideas

The common way for the Shackletons to be used in your games is as adversaries of the players, especially if the players have run afoul of a nobleman. Alternatively, the Shackletons could work with the players either to help the players or have the players help the detectives escort a 'prisoner'.

It is suggested that the Shackletons have d8 in skills such as Intimidation, Notice, Shooting and any other skill that is felt to be suitable.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Frozen Skies Episode 11: Of Leaders and Trailers

Last time on Adventures of the Waylander, the crew had dealt with the military court martial of ship's doctor Herbert Schilling. They had also come across an air hulk in the ocean crossing on their return back to Alyeska, managing to successfully tow the derelict airship back to port. This session saw the tying up of loose ends and making decisions that will affect the crew's future.


Back to the 'Burgh

After concluding Herbert's court martial, and with the doctor getting an honourable discharge, the crew set course for Gravenburgh once more. This was to see how the repairs were progressing on the air hulk, plus the chance for individual members of the crew to take care of business. Herbert had to find an army pay office to collect ten months worth of back-pay from his military service, Alex had to visit the local Board of Trade office to deal with some paperwork whilst Tag attended to some other matters.

The vast majority of the crew (Alex, Herbert and Reginald) headed out together, first to the army pay office and then the Board of Trade office. Tag detailed Sebastian to keep an eye on Alex, so he tried trailing the group and absolutely failed to be discreet and got spotted by the group. Additionally, Sebastian failed to spot that he himself was being followed by a pair of men in greatcoats and wide-brim hats. Alex, on the other hand, did spot the men and managed to loop round through some alleyways to get behind them. When the others reached the army pay office, Alex tried causing a scene by pickpocketing a random passer-by and placed their wallet on one of the men before alerting the crowd to a 'thief'.

The ruckus drew the attention of the soldiers and a military provost was sent out to question the man, though the man was allowed to go after presenting some paperwork to the provost. When Herbert asked about it, all he got told was that the man had presented a warrant. Alex, meanwhile, tried chasing after the second man but lost him in the alleyways. With the two men remaining a mystery for the time being, the group carried on to the Board of Trade office where Alex registered a company and the group headed back to the airship.

Tag went and met up with the broker of secrets Andrei, finally agreeing to the terms and method of selling the location of the glimmer rock deposit as an auction with royalties. Andrei had also found a buyer for the dragonhawk egg the crew had stashed at Bowerstead Post, in addition to a job. The job was basically an aerial heist; an airship was due in Alyeska in the next few days carrying highly valuable jewellery but the crew will have to board said airship. Andrei gave Tag the relevant details before the latter left.

When the crew arrived back at the Waylander, they spotted a greatcoat wearing man with a wide-brim hat speaking to one of the airfield workers. Sebastian was sharp-eyed enough to spot coin being exchanged, though it wasn't clear exactly what for. Tag was informed about the men who'd been trailing the crew and the incident with the airfield worker, whom the crew decided to track down. The worker was found in a nearby pub with his workmates enjoying a celebratory drink for he'd received a bonus equal to a week's wages. Tag bought a drink for everyone present before the crew spoke to the worker, who revealed he'd been asked about what airships had arrived from the Home Isles recently. On the way back to their airship, the crew encountered another of the strange men without incident and some of the airship's ratings reported they'd been asked questions about the airship.

Back onboard the Waylander, Tag called a meeting. It was revealed that Tag and Alex had been busy setting things up to form their own company, effectively end their contract with the logging company and operate solely as freelancers. It would involve handing the Waylander back to the logging company and then operate the air hulk they'd recovered, plus taking on jobs that were questionable on how legal they actually were. Oh and the crew would have to sign contracts and be working for Tag, though everyone agreed to do so. The crew's next few moves and the aerial heist job were discussed.

Following day the crew headed back into town, Sebastian went with Tag this time as supplies were gathered for the trip to Bowerstead Post. Just as he'd hoped, Tag spotted one of the greatcoated men following them. Tag went over to the man and demanded what he was up to, turned out the guy was part of a team of bounty hunters. They had a warrant for Sebastian to be captured alive and taken back to the Home Isles, it also appeared that some nobleman had placed the bounty. Sebastian didn't recognise the nobelman's name, though the bounty hunter said he was happy to come to an agreement that avoided any bloodshed. Tag agreed to meet the bounty hunters at the hotel where the bounty hunters claimed they were staying.

Both sides then went their separate ways and started planning...

Thoughts

It was a bit ironic with the bounty hunters, Sebastian has Wanted as a minor Hindrance and his player and Tag's were discussing said Hindrance with the view of developing some plot relating to it. The bounty was bit of a surprise for both, though unrelated to Sebastian's Hindrance as me and his player have now hashed something out. The expectation for the next session is some combat, though I suspect Tag's player to pull off some trick as he tends to prefer role-playing over combat. Though it likely that it'll come down to whoever has the most bases covered.

The players deciding to go a more freelancer route was half-expected, I'd known Tag's player had been working towards his own enterprise for some time. Coming across the air hulk by chance was probably the incentive needed to shift up a gear, but it is something I feel is a natural progression as part of the campaign as the players have been working towards getting 'their' own airship. The air hulk will have to be kitted out and I need to figure out stats.

Whilst discussing their plans for the future, the players did discuss Broken Spires and the 'supposed' military campaign against it. They decided to aid Broken Spires, chiefly by tipping off certain parties in the pirate haven. Aiding Broken Spires does potentially mean risks to the crew's kickbacks from the glimmer rock deposit that they've now finally sold the location of.

Oh, and plot I'd been hoping would be triggered has now finally been triggered!

Monday, 5 November 2018

Darkwatch: Welcome to Ravenscroft

Couple of months back I was going over ideas for various setting ideas other than Frozen Skies, this included a dark fantasy setting called Darkwatch. I'm still hashing out ideas and getting details set down in concrete. Part of this is finally naming and getting down some details on the city thats the core of the setting.


Welcome to Ravenscroft

As stated previously, the city of Ravenscroft was occupied by a dark force before being liberated and so the setting covers the city in the aftermath of battle. Parts of the city lies in ruins and it hasn't recovered its pre-occupation population. What citizens there are make a living by shifting through the derbies of battle looking for their next meal...or become a meal for something that lurks in the shadows of the city.

Governance

Ravenscroft is effectively under the rule of a military governor, the Lord Provost, and martial law as it has become a major staging point for supplies and troops destined for other fronts. So its garrison of troops must act as the city's watch in addition to their normally military duties, though they are hampered by the demands of the fighting happening elsewhere. So Ravenscroft's garrison is made up of those unfit to fight on the front line be it due to age, injuries or scars of a different type.

The Darkwatch

It isn't entirely clear where the 'Darkwatch' name originated from, but it has become the de facto name of Ravenscroft's garrison. As all able-bodied men are required for the fighting elsewhere, the Darkwatch has to make do with the derbies of battle. Struggling to meet its manpower needs, the Darkwatch has had to accept those unfit for service, those with dubious pasts and even women into its ranks.

The main job of the Darkwatch is to ensure the unhindered passage of supplies, arms and soldiers to other fronts. It also has the task of keeping law and order among what exists of the city's civilian population and root out agents of the dark forces that had recently occupied the city. It is a thankless task with little in the way of reward other than board, slightly better rations and a handful of coins each week.

As each district of Ravenscroft is reclaimed and secured, a suitable building gets commandeered as a district watch house to act as the man base of operations for the Darkwatch in a given district. Additional watch posts will be established, though are only manned on a part time basis and function more as rest stops for the Darkwatch.

The Districts

There are many districts that make up the city of Ravenscroft, here are just a few.

Aldwell - An impoverished district prior to the occupation, though much of it was levelled during the fighting. Gives way to the Welgate district to the south with the Rugate district to the east and separated from the Rowmarket district to the west by the Aldbrook stream. Its northern boundary is industrial waterfront on the River Morr, a mighty river that bisects the city. 

Blackhall - Location of the Palace of Blackhall, seat of the Lord of Ravenscroft prior to the city's occupation. Largely destroyed by an explosion of dark magic when the city was liberated, though the fires are still smouldering.

Rowmarket - Featured the city's biggest market of the same name and a range of commercial interests, now serves as the seat of the Lord Provost of Ravenscroft and the HQ of the Darkwatch.

Rudgate - Home to many warehouses and wharfs of the city's docks.

Welgate - District on the southern side of Ravenscroft, also where the Aldbrook enters the city on its way to feed into the River Morr. It was a slightly better off district compared to Aldwell, but suffered as equally bad during the fighting. Now home to the tent cities of the armies staging through the city.