Monday, 22 April 2019

Frozen Skies Episode 21: Endgame

So after a lunchtime shoot-out in a country pub, the crew prepared themselves for an assault on Spitsworth Manor. Expecting a recreation of the Forlorn Hope or the Charge of the Light Brigade, almost nobody could've expected the explosive finale. It was a night to remember, one filled with ferocious battle, fiery destruction and the fall of many a great name.


Assault on Precinct 13 Spitsworth Manor

Having previously scouted the manor grounds and spotted a company of guards present, thus learning the grim odds against them, the crew decided to go all out. The limo they'd acquired from Edmund Spitsworth was packed with explosives and driven towards the main gates with Gren at the wheel, though he managed to bail out but rolled badly and was left momentarily winded. The Rolls-Royce missile on four wheels hurtled towards the heavy gates,collided with them and then exploded taking one of the guards by the gate with it. Gren, now recovered but with a few aching bruises, sniped the other guard before Jacob ran through the gate before sliding along the wet grass mowing down guards with his pair of machine pistols.

Meanwhile, Sebastian and Herbert flew in on the latter's young dragonhawk to provide some aerial support before the crew's airship arrived. It was at this point that the crew discovered the manor was defended by anti-aircraft guns, primarily when one of the guns mysteriously exploded and killed its crew when it tried shooting at the dragonhawk. Sebastian then spotted a couple more AA guns and took one of them out by sniping its pile of ammo. Some of the ratings from the crew's airship then assaulted the main courtyard, only to be cut down to a man by the guards...leaving a chief petty officer called Mick McGuire as the last man standing and with the luck of the devil.

Being the coward that he was, Reginald used his gizmos to turn invisible and ran away.

The third and final AA gun got a shot off that injured the dragonhawk, though Herbert and Sebastian managed to stay on and keep the giant bird in the air. Sebastian sniped the gunner whilst Jacob and Gren took out the rest of the gun's crew in order to capture the gun. The AA gun was turned round to point at the house, the intention to blast a hole in the wall rather than trying to storm any of the doors. Also, the crew's airship arrived...

...only for an explosive fireball to rip through its innards and blast the aero-vessel apart. With the death groan of some great levitation of the sky, the flaming wreckage carried forward and downward towards the manor. With a thundering crash, the wrecked airship smashed into the building and completely destroyed it along with the crew's plans. It was then everyone realized that nobody had seen Alex since leaving the pub earlier and, knowing his character, put two and two together. 

Gren and Jacob vowed to hunt down Alex and have their vengeance on him, the rest decided to scatter to the four winds and strike their own paths.

Epilogue

"Ah, I've been expecting you gentlemen." Andrei smiled as the two men entered his study. "You come seeking information as to the current whereabouts of your...former...compatriot Mr Stondheim haven't you?"

"I thought as much." Replied the Tylander keeper of secrets. "But, I must ask, what do you offer by way of payment?"

* ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * 

He had alot of time to think, the sole walker down a lonely country lane with no real destination in mind. He had his pension from the Service after being demobbed, plus he'd put aside some of his wages from the logging company and then the crew. This was cash that he could draw upon for the essentials; food in his belly, a room for the night, new clothes and perhaps a ticket to wherever he wished. His real asset was his winnings from card games amongst the crew and some of the casino tables. Yes, it would be more than enough to buy himself an airship and get together a crew to fly it.

"Life as a free trader, Captain McGuire." Muttered Mick before he smiled. "I like the sound of that."

 * ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * 

It was a case that would puzzle the Commonwealth Garda, a crime had been committed...two in fact...but the Powers That Be were quite happy for the matter to be brushed under the rug. A lord, long thought to be a respectable member of the community, turned out to be an infamous crime boss who's influence spread far and wide before he was found dead. Understandably, the Establishment wanted the matter kept quiet and so it was. Though what was curious was that one of the man's offices had been broken into and quite clearly a pair of pistols had been stolen, yet the Garda was told in no uncertain terms that this thief never ever happened.

A short while later, the offices in question burned down.

Short while after that, a certain Elisa Spitsworth received a letter. A smile spread across her face as she read it and a hand rested on her belly.

* ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * 

They say in the Alyeskan Outlands there is a man, a supposed doctor, who rides a dragonhawk like a Windryder but is not of those people. He travels the wilderness from settlement to settlement, lending his skills as a medicine man before moving on again. Though they say he lacks in wisdom and his mouth, occasionally, has a habit of running off without him.

* ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * 

If you walk the streets of Lindun, or any other town or city in the Home Isles, you'll come across the Glimmer Man. He wears threadbare clothes, but holds with a manner that betrays an aristocratic background. Usually found on street corners trying to entertain passer-bys with displays of his gizmos cobbled together from pieces of scrap so that he could beg for the odd coin or two.

* ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ * 

A figure, with quite clearly a gun in their hand, stepped into the alley ahead of him whilst another blocked the way behind him. The first figure spoke, a familiar voice echoing across the years and laden with dread. "Hello Alex...remember us?"

"We'd like a word or two..."

It was quite clear that at least one person was going to be leaving the alley in a wooden box. 

Thoughts

What, THAT was most certainly an explosive finale.

Despite all the characters surviving, it was decided by the group that it was a good enough moment to finish the campaign there. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed it and its almost a shame that its over, especially now I have to think extra hard if I wish to continue weekly blog posts. Though my next few posts are likely to be the various plotlines that I wanted to do but didn't get to.

Though a Frozen Skies game may be run on the RPG site SavageRifts at some point in the future.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Commonwealth Revisited: The Garda


Continuing the effort to take another look at the Commonwealth and make revisions where needed, we take a look at the Commonwealth’s national police force; the Garda.

We take a look at the Garda’s origins and how it became the force it is today. In addition, we’ll also take a look at the Garda’s current roles and some ideas for including the Garda in your games of Frozen Skies.

Keepers of the King’s Peace

The Commonwealth Garda has its origins as the Righ Garda, effectively the King’s Guards. To begin with the Garda were little more than bodyguards, though successive monarchs gradually expanded the role and duties of the Garda to help spread the monarch’s influence over what would become the Commonwealth. Charged with upholding the King’s Peace, the Garda was given much wider jurisdiction than the various town and city watches in addition to being ranked above them.

As power shifted from the monarch to the Commonwealth’s parliament, the role and responsibilities of the Garda were formalized. Over time the system of town watches proved to be inadequate and they ended up be gradually absorbed by the Garda until it became the Commonwealth’s main law enforcement agency.

Present Day

Today the Garda provides day-to-day local policing within the Home Isles, though it does have jurisdiction in other territories despite their own local police forces. The main public image of the Garda is of uniformed officers patrolling the streets or, less commonly, in patrol cars. On the whole the Garda is a largely unarmed force, certain units within the Garda do routinely carry firearms but generally the Garda likes to escalate things to the military in instances involving firearms.

The Garda has plain-clothes detectives organized into either the Detective Branch or Special Branch. The former deals with investigation and detective work concerning fighting crime. Special Branch, on the other hand, tends to focus its efforts on counter-intelligence and cases that effect the national interest and security. Unlike the Commonwealth’s intelligence services, Special Branch has the power to arrest spies and is frequently called upon to do so.

Though air security is generally in the hands of the Royal Aero-Fleet, the Garda does maintain its own Air Wing to combat aerial crime within the Home Isles. Blimps of the Garda Air Wing are a common sight over the towns and cities of the Home Isles, though the Air Wing also has a squadron or two of light fighters on its books stationed in the capital of Lindun. Air Wing officers are also placed on passenger airships as effectively sky marshals, particularly if there is an important passenger or valuable cargo onboard.

Use in Games

The most obvious way to use the Garda is as an opponent for the characters, though the Garda could also serve as a useful ally. If the characters go down the sky pirate route there is a good chance that they’ll have a run-in with the Garda sooner or later. Similarly, if the characters commit a high profile crime in the Home Isles they can expect the Garda to come after them. On the flip side, if the characters are working for the Commonwealth they can expect to find a valuable ally in the Garda.

The other way to include the Garda is to run a Garda base campaign with the characters being members of either the Detective Branch, Special Branch or the Air Wing. There is a degree of overlap in the work done by these departments, so it is possible for the characters to work alongside colleagues from other departments or form part of a multi-department team.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Frozen Skies Episode 20: Two Pints of Cider and a SMG

Previously, the crew put their plan into action to restore Reginald to his family's good graces...or at least to gain unrestricted access to the Spitsworth family wealth. This week was the next stage of the plan, one that concerned Reginald's sister Elisa. The hope was to convince her to come along and stage a kidnapping and then rescue by Reginald.As it turned out, things really go to plan nor as expected.


A Little Softening Up

Jacob continued his 'torture' of Reginald and Edmund to help authenticity to the whole kidnapping plan. When asked who was the more valuable one both brothers agreed that it was Edmund, strangely Reginald was quicker off the mark in saying this. After Reginald was dragged from the room, Jacob then leaned on Edmund to tell him what the Spitsworth brother knew. Edmund spilled his guys, though figuratively rather than literally, and told Jacob everything he knew about the Spitsworth family's dealings.

Jacob then divulged the information with Alex whilst Sebastian made preparations to meet Elisa.

To The Manor Born

Sebastian had arranged to meet up with Elisa at the same village inn where the crew had been put up after their lodgings on the Spitsworth estate mysteriously burned down. New guy Gren and Herbert went along as Sebastian's bodyguards whilst Jacob and Alex sought out a local street gang to hire. The idea was that Jacon would lead the gang to 'kidnap' Elisa and Sebastian's bodyguards would pretend to put up a fight.

Only Elisa wasn't at the inn when the trio arrived.

Puzzled, the trio sat down at a table in the barroom with only a couple of farm workers and the bartender for company. Sebastian wracked his mind to make sure he had the right information and have the right information to Elisa. Just then Gren's Danger Sense kicks off and a dozen well armed and well equipped mercs step out from where they'd been hiding. The lead merc announced that they'd been waiting for the characters and that "His Lordship wants a word with ye."

So outnumbered four-to-one by a bunch of SMG toting mercs and with their escape route cut off, the trio meekly surrendered and agreed to go meet His Lordship....opened fire on the mercs.

Gren had spotted that a ceiling beam was propped up by a wooden post in the middle of the room and shouted to Sebastian to shoot it out. Herbert, meanwhile, kicked over one of the tables to provide some cover for the trio as Sebastian blew away the post with his guns before being yanked back into by Gren. Then Gren opened fire on the mercs as the ceiling made disturbing noises and began to sag as dust and bits of plaster started trickling down. The mercs responded with a barrage of around a dozen SMGs, though strangely did little more than perhaps nick Gren and Sebastian with splinters from the table.

With a resounding crash the ceiling gave way and came down, quickly filling the room with a cloud of dust that impeded the shooting of those present but having no other real effect. Gren got a shot off before Jacob, Alex and one of the street gang goons arrived. Jacob fired blindly from round the door before Alex walked in and called for a ceasefire, stalling the mercs along enough for him to move into cover behind the bar and for the dust cloud to settle. Alex then abruptly ended the ceasefire by shooting his gun cane point blank range at the nearest merc before ducking down behind the bar, others had taken advantage of the ceasefire to move into better positions before the gunfight resumed.

The rest of the mercs were then whittled down in short order with the crew taking nothing more than flesh wounds if that. They then looted the mercs, letting the street gang take their pickings in lieu of payment before the pub was put to the torch. The crew radically changed their plan and decided to do an all-out assault on Spitsworth Manor, but had the foresight to scout it out first. Good thing as it turned out that the Manor was guarded by a company of mercs, requiring a revision of the crew's planned assault.

Thoughts

I'd figured there was going to be a fight this session, but thought the players would go straight to an assault on Spitsworth Manor. Then again I was expecting the players to agree to go meet Lord Charleston rather than fight, though should I really be that surprised?

Adventure Cards proved to be extremely useful for the players as the cards allowed them to negate or completely ignore damage as one of the characters almost ended up dying twice. Regardless the fight proved useful for me as it felt like a challenge for the characters and encouraged them to take advantage of stuff like cover, etc.

Next session looks like it could potentially be the last depending on what the characters do and how lucky they end up being.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Rogue’s Gallery: Queen Lothwyn


An ongoing project at the moment is going through and nailing the background lore for the wider world of the Frozen Skies setting.  Part of this has included a series of recent posts covering a revision of the Commonwealth and part of its military in the form of the Royal Aero-Fleet. Plan to do a few more posts concerning the Commonwealth, but realized that I haven’t written much about the most important person in the Commonwealth: Queen Lothwyn II.



All Hail the Banrigh!

Banrigh (Queen) Lothwyn has been the Commonwealth’s monarch since just after the end of the Great Darmonican War, having inherited the crown following the death of her father King Alfred. Not only did she had to contend with being the youngest ruler in Darmonica, she also had to get used to a world at peace after growing up in one at war. Her coronation was seen as a fresh start after thirty years of war, though her reign thus far has seen an uneasy peace hold sway and tensions once again on the rise.

Though she doesn’t actually govern the Commonwealth she has a lot of influence to direct policy, though she has rarely used this power.

Appearance

Lothwyn stands round 5’6” tall and is of slim build. She has coal black hair with slate grey eyes and a pale complexion. On both arms she has Celtic style blue spiral tattoos that run from her wrists up to her shoulders.

Role

As the head of state of the Commonwealth, Lothwyn has very little real power and performs a largely ceremonial role. The actual day-to-day running of the Commonwealth is done by the government headed by the Taoiseach (Leader or Prime Minister), though he and his ministers are held accountable by the Commonwealth’s parliament. Despite her ceremonial role, Lothwyn remains the commander-in-chief of the Commonwealth’s military as well as the ability to dismiss and appoint a new Taoiseach in addition to dissolving parliament.

The Queen has a handful of other duties that include giving Royal Assent to new legislation passed by parliament, thus making them into law. She is advised by the Provost Court, a body made up of her vice-regal representatives in various provinces and certain large towns. Depending on what they represent, the members of the Court are called Provosts or Lord Provosts and effectively act as mayors or state governors.

Use in Games

Given that she is the Commonwealth’s head of state, it is very unlikely that the player characters will get to meet Queen Lothwyn unless they’ve done a great service to the Commonwealth. It is more likely for Lothwyn to be in the background, for example a town could turn out to see her visit and thus provide a distraction for the characters to rob the town’s bank.