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.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Frozen Skies Episode 10: Venture Edition

Last week, the crew of the Waylander headed to the Commonwealth's Home Isles to answer the summons of Reginald's father. The family reunion proved to be short and bitter sweet as Reginald found himself being disowned by his family in addition to their lodgings being burned down under somewhat hazy circumstances. It was finally decided to take care of some outstanding business and head back to Alyeska to get Herbert's court martial out of the way.


Back to the Frozen Skies

After the cottage fire saw the crew loose their accommodation for the night, and despite the offer of being put up at the local village inn, the crew decided to head back to their airship despite it being a two hour drive in the middle of the night. Upon arrival back at the Waylander, Tag announced that he wanted an early started and that everyone was to be up at 0700 Hours even though it meant every was going to get precious little sleep.

Scant few hours the crew are up again, groggy from the lack of sleep and drinking coffee like its going out of fashion. They contact the nearby military barracks via telephone and arrange for Herbert to be brought to the airship along with his provost escort. Final preparations are made before they get underway and attempt to cross the storm-wracked skies over the Great Ocean to Alyeska. Increasingly foul weather dogs the crew for three days until something is spotted in the clouds ahead, though the clouds part enough to reveal another airship directly in the Waylander's path. Tag managed to steer the Waylander and avoided a collision with the other airship, then circled back round so that they could get a better look at the unexpected company.

The other airship looked like it had taken a fair amount of damage; some of her engines had been blown off, her gasbags were ripped and signs of being shot up by aircraft. No name could be seen as it was obscured by the damage and there was no answer when the crew tried hailing the mysterious airship over the radio. Tag made the decision to have the other airship lashed to the Waylander so that they could board it, if anything to see what was worth salvaging.

Reginald went to check out the airship's electrical systems and generators in her engine room, only to discover that her electricals were all shorted out and the generators dead. With no electrical current to manipulate the Lift Gas, there was a bit of confusion over how the airship was still in the sky until it was realized that the Lift Gas was probably reacting to the electrical charge of the storm.If they took the airship out of the storm it would most likely fall out of the sky as the residual charge from the storm wore off, so getting the electrics back up and running was a priority. Initially Reginald had problems effecting repairs, though by the time Tag came to see what the matter was the problem had been dealt with by Sebastian stumbling across a storage cupboard marked 'Electrical Spares'.

After giving Reginald a chewing out, Tag headed back towards the crew area and the bridge to check up on how well Alex had gotten on. For his part Alex had been checking out the crew quarters and increasingly coming to the opinion that the airship had been attacked by raiders. He also found and disarmed a number of traps, though nothing of value. Alex also came to the rescue when Reginald found explosives in one of the electrical generators when he did his final checks before starting them back up. Having done all they could and, most importantly, got the power back on the crew were able to take the airship under tow.

Arriving in Gravenburg, Tag managed to secure an air dock for the airship by presenting a sealed letter from Lord Spitsworth and making a donation to the Widows and Orphans Fund. Alex spotted somebody who seemed to recognize him before hurrying off, Alex followed the man to a nearby warehouse used by a gang he'd worked with for a time before parting ways. Alex confronted the man, who was surprised to see Alex was alive (but wasn't aware of his new name) and gave the impression that the gang wasn't going to be happy about this state of affairs. Alex then showed the man the explosives he'd acquire earlier and convinced the man to keep their mouth shut until Alex had had a good head start.

Without further delay, it was off to Calharrow and Herbert's date with military justice.

Tag went with Herbert as his defence lawyer, also wore his air force officer's uniform and seemed to know at least one of the officers presiding as part of the judge's panel. The charges of absent without leave and desertion were read out, then the official version of events that Herbert's patrol had been attacked by Wulvers during which he went missing and was presumed dead. Herbert challenged this, claiming that his patrol had deliberately left him behind when they broke camp and that there had been difficulties between him and his comrades. Herbert also cited problems with his superior officer and Tag presented the court with a pile of evidence such as telephone logs that help collaborate Herbert's story. When asked why he didn't report in when he returned to civilisation, Herbert stated it was because he didn't trust the military and feared for his life if his survival was made known.The panel of officers asked a few more questions before they were satisfied, then gave their verdict.

"Not guilty!"

Herbert was cleared of any wrongdoing, given an honourable discharge with back pay and made exempt from further military service. A free man once more, the good doctor was able to join the crew in getting into further trouble...

Thoughts

It was little bit of an interesting game, we started incorporating elements from the new edition of Savage Worlds such as no XP and Bennies being able to do much more. The group also decided to stick with their characters as they currently are, which will limit what of the new rules we can use. The stuff we have included seemed to go down a hit and I'm trying to get into the habit of awarding Bennies.

So yeah, the crew have a potential new airship. I need to finish updating Frozen Skies for SWADE, though some of that will extend into doing some more airship stats.

As for Herbert's trail, part of why it went so well is that the players RPed it well and partially because of my bad dice rolling. We did it as a Social Conflict with three opposed rolls, I pretty much got a 1 on two of those rolls but decided not to spend a bennie to re-roll as I thought it was being RPed really well.

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Skywrights Guild

Since it featured in the most recent session of the Frozen Skies campaign has has already been mentioned a few times on the blog, figured its time to detail the Skywrights Guild. It is a powerful organisation, able to build and maintain a fleet of airships, and wields a fair amount of influence. Whilst it dominates the airship market, it isn't without rivals.


An Aerial Monopoly

The Skywrights Guild is recognized as the largest builder of air- and skyships in Darmonica, having control of aero-shipyards in various countries either directly or through front companies. Outside of national militarizes and trade consortiums, the Guild is also Darmonica's biggest user of skyships and has a network of facilities and support infrastructure to maintain them.

The Guild has its origins not long after the first appearance of airships in Darmonica, a group of inventors and merchants banded together to promote the airship as the future of shipping and trade. Over time they worked up their business and brought out competitors, though they received a huge boost in the fortunes when the skyship first came about. They mainly focused on civilian models, though they took on a large number of military contracts during the Great Darmonican War as the various combatants sought to rapidly build up their aero-fleets.

In the present day the Guild's focus is on skyships, though it still has a hand in the airship market as it licences designs to small companies to build. The Guild does have a second monopoly on Lift Gas, a vitally important component of making airships soar through the skies. The Guild has made sure its virtually the sole supplier of Lift Gas, typically by buying out the mines and refineries needed for its production. The Guild's monopoly on Lift Gas has resulted in a black market for it, though usually of Lift Gas that has been siphoned from someplace and typically of questionable quality.

There are currently attempts by the powers of Darmonica to try and break the Guild's monopolies, none of them are happy with the idea of a transnational entity holding the strings on their precious aero-fleets. The Commonwealth's own Royal Aero-Works is a prime example; a state corporation that builds and maintains the Commonwealth's military airships and skyships has recently started producing civilian models. These civilian air-vessels are primarily being built for the state-owned airline Commonwealth Airways, though there are plans to start offering airships to smaller operators. The biggest problem, however, is going to be breaking the Guild's stranglehold on Lift Gas.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Frozen Skies Episode 9: Home (Isles) Bound

After their tussle with the Dark Claws, the crew of the Waylander opt to head to the Commonwealth's Home Isles to answer the summons of Reginald's father. Did mean that Herbert's court martial was postponed again for another session, this was a necessity as one of the players was out of the country and had asked to be present for the court martial. Though it did mean that the players got to visit and learn more about the world outside of Alyeska.


Across the Great Ocean

The ocean that separates Alyeska from the 'Core' states of Darmonica has been racked by storms since the end of the Great Darmonican War, highly theorized to be part of the fallout from the event known as the 'Blast'. It means that travel across the ocean is difficult, possibly even resulting in damage to the aircraft attempting the trip. Normally the crew would have its Ace pilot Tag, though his player was the one who was absent and as GM I made his piloting rolls as required.I had to spend a couple of bennies right at the start of the game to stop the crew running afoul of certain doom.

So things were off to a good start already.

Thankfully the journey across the ocean proved to be eventual and after a couple of days the mist shrouded hills of the Home Isles came into sight. The crew were also confronted with considerable more shipping, both maritime and aerial, than they'd ever seen in Alyeska. As their airship drew near they soon more plenty of aircraft, ranging from light aeroplanes through to gigantic skyships. They were directed to the main aerodrome that served the Home Isles' capital, Lindun, and as they drifted down into their mooring berth they could see a noticeable military presence in the form of anti-aircraft guns and armed soldiers. Though Herbert also noted that there was a much greater civilian presence compared to when he'd last visited the aerodrome some years earlier.

A military jeep pulled up and a pair of provosts climbed out before approaching the airship, though they did introduce themselves and explained that Herbert was being put under house arrest at a nearby barracks for the duration of the crew's stay in the Home Isles. So, without any real objections from the crew, Herbert went with the provosts and found himself being put in an officer's quarters rather than a barrack block (because 'security'). Herbert received two visitors, the first was from the Army Service Corps to take his measurements for a new uniform to be worn at the court martial. The second visitor was a Lt. Williams from the Judge Advocate General's office to provide consul for the aforementioned court martial.

Lt, Williams explained how the proceedings of the court martial will work, then asked for Herbert's version of events prior to him being absent without leave. Herbert admitted that due to his big mouth he wasn't well liked by his fellow soldiers, plus may have incurred the wrath of a superior officer by talking about said officer's wife whilst within earshot of said officer. He also went onto explain that whilst out in the Wulflands on a patrol he woke up one morning feeling extremely groggy (he swore blindly that he hadn't had a drop of alcohol whilst on patrol) and that the rest of his patrol was gone. Lt. Williams explained that the official version of events was that the patrol had come under attack by wulvers and that Herbert had gone missing in the confusion, later to be listed as missing in action. Lt. Williams also explained that since Herbert was absent from his unit for more than 30 days he'll be tried as a deserter, so strongly suggested sticking to the official version of events in hope of gaining a favourable verdict.

Meanwhile...

The rest of the crew were picked up by a limbo and driven out of the city, noticing the scars still lingering from the war and the reconstruction effort. The city and its new suburbs gave away to the open countryside and after a couple of hours the car drew up in front of a large manor house. Servants ushered them inside to what was called the 'Cream Room' and told them to wait until his Lordship was ready, though a servant remained in the room to keep an eye on the crew. After half an hour, Reginald was called through to speak to his father in the room next door. Alex got close as he could to the door in an attempt to eavesdrop whilst Sebastian discreetly spoke to the house servant about answering the call of nature in order to get a tour of the house.

Reginald's father, Lord Charleston Spitsworth, effectively disowned his eldest child and had changed his will so that Reginald's younger brother Edmund would inherit the family fortune. Additionally, Reginald's access to the family's bank accounts had been blocked and various bank managers made aware of this development. Meanwhile Sebastian ran into and got talking to the youngest if the Spitsworth siblings, Reginald's sister Elisa (who got the Love Interest adventure card played on her). Elisa mentioned that she was going to diplomacy, mainly as a way of escaping house and seeing the world, plus she also mentioned about current tensions between the Commonwealth and the Artian Confederation.

Sebastian rejoined the others, with a silk item showing in the breast pocket of his jacket, just as Reginald comes out from speaking with his father. Tag then gets called into the other room with a letter of introduction, returning a short while later saying that he'd gotten them a job. The crew were then informed that they would not be spending the night in the house as lodgings had been made available elsewhere on the estate. This time they were given a lift in a different car driven by one of the groundsmen and taken to a cottage on the other side of the estate, though the cottage had been untouched for a number of years after its previous occupant died. The crew tidied up the place best they could and picked which room each of them were going to have.

Alex and Sebastian had decided to try and sneak back into the main house later that night, though for completely different reasons. Some night after it'd gotten dark, the pair of them tried sneaking out but were spotted by Reginald who decided to challenge them. Alex tried to persuade Reginald that he and Sebastian were just going out for some fresh air and perhaps a smoke, though Reginald remained unconvinced. Out of frustration, Alex went back into the cottage and set alight to the room that Reginald had claimed before managing to sneak back out of the cottage unnoticed. With Reginald distracted with trying to save his belongings, Alex and Sebastian made for the main house.

Alex went for Lord Spitsworth's office, specifically after any interesting paperwork (the Reveal adventure card was played here). Among the things Alex found was correspondence between Lord Spitsworth and another member of parliament about seeking justification for a military campaign against the pirate haven of Broken Spires. Also, since Lord Spitsworth has strong ties to them, there are papers and deeds relating to the Skywrights Guild. Sensing an opportunity, Alex pockets a couple of blank skyship deeds before sneaking back out the window.

Sebastian, on the other hand, sneaked into the main house in order to see Elisa once more. Alex, now back outside, starts raising the alarm about the fire at the cottage and rouses the entire household. Sebastian uses the commotion to sneak out of the house, then rejoins the others a while later back at the cottage which is now well and truly ablaze despite the efforts of the estate staff tackle the flames. The reunion coincides with the arrival of the local fire engine and Alex convincing the estate staff that the fire was probably caused by an oil lantern being blown over by a gust of wind or knocked over by Reginald's carelessness.

With the crew's lodgings having, quite literally, gone up in smoke arrangements were made for them to be put up for them to be put up for the night at the local village inn. One of the groundsmen was to give them a lift in another car which most of the crew accepted, though Reginald kicked up a fuss.

Thoughts

Admittedly, the opportunity for the characters to travel beyond the boundaries of Alyeska was always there....they took it a bit sooner than expected.

It was a role-play heavy session with no combat, certainly an interesting change of pace. Least I manage to tease some plot, hopefully the players will make a note of it so that it'll come in useful later when that plotline develops. But things are being setup quite nicely by the characters' own actions and in a better way than I'd originally planned.

Hopefully next session the whole group will be present so that we can get Herbert's court martial done and out of the way. Actually spent some time doing some research on court martials, including the old British tradition of using swords. Herbert will be tried as a deserter since he was absent from his unit for more than 30 days, though it'll be interesting to see whether he does as Lt. Williams said and go along with the official story or tries to get evidence that there was a conspiracy to have him killed.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Frozen Skies: SWADE Edition

So a new edition of Savage Worlds recently got announced, mostly consisting of tweaks here and there with new rules. Like a lot of people I've closely been following the previews that have been seen so far, but nothing that seems to majorly effect Frozen Skies. Though ultimately we'll have to wait until the release of the new rules after the Kickstarter later this month.


Frozen Skies: BLACK ICE

BLACK ICE is the codename I'm using for the SWADE update for Frozen Skies, a nod to how the edition was called 'Savage Worlds Black' for a while. Black Ice will be a PDF that will probably be released some point after the SWADE Kickstarter, least when I've had the chance to read through the new rules and see how they effect Frozen Skies. Whilst I cannot say for sure what will be changed, from the previews shown so far there are a couple of things;

*Re-done weapon stats.

*Reworked NPCs.

There may be other changes like, for example, to vehicle combat, etc. It depends what is featured in the new edition, though Black Ice may contain new content and errata for Frozen Skies.

Adventurer's Guild

Pinnacle's other recent announcement was the Savage Worlds Adventurer's Guild (SWAG), a program that will allow people to create and then sell their own Savage Worlds creations through the likes of DriveThruRPG without going through Pinnacle's normal official licensing program. SWAG is a platform for new creators to sell their work.

At present I can't really say much about it until Pinnacle releases more details, though Melior Via has already expressed interest for people to release content for Accursed as part of SWAG. Whilst it would be neat for that to happen with Frozen Skies I would rather wait until SWAG has been running for some quite and I've established more of the setting's framework before opening it up for SWAG.

Regardless, exciting times ahead for Savage Worlds!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Frozen Skies Episode 8: Tussle With The Dark Claws

The adventures of the Airship Waylander continue!

Last time the crew of the Waylander had been contracted by the Royal Alyeskan Air Police to transport a prisoner from the remote town of Prospector's Reach for trial in Gravenburgh. Things had gone well, too well for the characters' liking, least until they came under attack from some sky pirates. The scoundrels of the sky were fended off, though the characters' own fighters were almost wrecked.

This week we tried something a little different and used paper tokens for the aerial combat.


Riding The Clouds

After their previous encounter with the ruffians of the airways, the crew of the Waylander warily flew on southwards with one eye kept on the wild blue yonder. Reggie set to work patching up the airship's two escort fighters, though with assistance from a crewman that ended up being more of a hindrance than a help. Thankfully, Reggie just managed to fix the plane when a lookout called out...



A pair of pirate planes were rapidly closing on the Waylander, opening fire at long range for negligible effect. The Banshee plane was hastily launched and the pilot flew to the port (left) of the airship with the intention of circling around over the airship to take on the pirates. Return fire from the airship managed to hit one of the pirate planes, though with little perceived effect. Though nuisance fire from rifle armed crewmen did seem to give at leat one of the pirates pause for thought.

The pirates attempted to do a strafing run along the Waylander's starboard side to try to knock out her engines, but only seemed to succeed in putting a few holes in the airship's gasbag.Tag managed to swing the airship round so that the pirates received fire from both sides of the airship, in particular from the crew served 50-cal. machine guns that gave a good account of themselves. Both pirates ended up in twisted metal coffins half buried in the snow, at least one appeared to have took damage to their plane's control as they failed to pull out of a spiral.

In The Clear?

With the two pirate plane dealt with, the crew spoke to the police officers escorting the prisoner to find out who might've been attacking them. Turned out that the prisoner was one of the lieutenants for a rather bloodthirsty outfit of sky pirates known as the Dark Claws. This band of cold-blooded killers is known to be particularly ruthless, leaving very few survivors from their attacks and not taking any prisoners.

They had but a few minutes for this to sink before the lookout cried out again, "More bandits!"


The enemy airship opened up at long range with its forward turret, but again for negligible effect. The enemy fighters, on the other hand, shot forward and inflicted solid hits on the Waylander's own escorts. Tag gave orders for the escorts to re-dock with the Waylander before he took the airship down to tree-top level and opened the throttles on the engines with the intention of conducting a tactical withdrawal. Though the Waylander made one final and very impressive parting shot; the rear turret landed some very good hits on one of the pirate fighters and literally made its cockpit explode.

Eventually they reached Alyeska's southern coastline and swung round to approach Gravenburgh from the sea, mainly to reduce the chances of further ambushes. They managed to land without further trouble and were met by the police, who took the prisoner and handed over payment with a little extra on top. They also received a message from Andrei, the broker of secrets that Tag had met previously, that there were a few parties interested in the glimmer rock deposit the crew found and he wanted to know whether Tag had a price in mind or wished for a bidding contest. The crew also made plans to travel to the Commonwealth's Home Isles to resolve the summons from Reggie's father, thus postponing Herbert's court martial.

Thoughts

The paper tokens certainly helped make aerial combat easier as everyone could see what was happening rather than relying on guesswork. Will probably use them again in the future, though have included more pics below. 

Though whilst there wasn't much in the way or airship-to-airship combat, I've been mulling ideas for possible improvements and to add more depth. Airship construction is likely to be a combination of the old Pulp Gear Tookit and the Bombers & Zeppelin supplement for FASA's old Crimson Skies miniatures game. Also considering whether or not to adapt the Altitude system that existed in previous versions of Savage Worlds, it might add something to aerial combat or it might not.

With potential revisions (least far as airships are concerned), ideas for new gear and a new version of Savage Worlds on the horizon I may end up doing a Frozen Skies Companion to cover all of this.

Monday, 24 September 2018

The Gwentshire Chronicles: The Laine Collection

Sometimes, its amazing where you pick up ideas from.

Recently visited the Lynn Museum in Kings Lynn, which proved to be interesting and a gold mine for ideas. The museum had in display a collection of curiosities amassed by the artist and explorer Thomas Baines. The collections features curios from Africa, Australia and even South-East Asia. There was also some stuff on the English Civil War and the Siege of Kings Lynn, another source of ideas which I'll write about in the near future.


The Laine Collection

Officially, the so-called 'Laine Collection' had its genesis in the efforts of Sir Thomas Laine to preserve curios and other artefacts during the English Civil War. Various items were entrusted to Laine by various landowners to safeguard them as Parliamentarian and Royalist forces clashed with one another within the boundaries of the county. Sir Thomas is notable for organizing a wagon train to evacuate the collections during the Siege of Gwentford in 1644, then hid the collection on his estate until after the Restoration. The Collection continued to grow until it was eventually entrusted to the care of the Gwentshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, who later used the Collection for the founding of the 'Gwentford Museum' in 1889. The museum, renamed the Gwentshire County Museum in the early 1900s, still houses the Collection but only has a small part of it on display to the public.

The official story isn't that far off the truth, the Collection was the result of Sir Thomas attempting to safeguard certain artefacts during the English Civil War. It is generally unknown that Sir Thomas had a more secret motivation for doing so; he did it to help the Mist-Bound.

Sir Thomas first became aware of the Mist-Bound in the late 1620s, though at first he thought them to be little more than demons. It was only after an encounter in 1637 that he realised that they were the spiritual guardians of Gwentshire and quickly set about trying to help them however he could. With the outbreak of the English Civil War 1642, Sir Thomas realised that dark forces could use the conflict to strike at the source of the Mist-Bound in hope of critically weakening them. Sir Thomas soon raised a band of men and women to help him acquire artefacts he knew were important to the Mist-Bound so that he could safeguard them, though as a cover he offered protection for the valuables of the local nobility in the area.

The Collection would remain in the care of the Laine family for the next hundred years, though there were attempts by outside forces to destroy it (a fire in the 1760s came close to destroying the whole Collection). Eventually Sit Thomas' descendant, William Laine, would entrust the Collection to the Gwentshire Archaeological and Natural History Society after his son and sole heir was killed during the Crimean War in 1854. The Society set about cataloging the Collection, then decided to use it as the foundation of a museum which opened to the public in 1889. Attempts continued to steal or destroy parts of the Collection, leading the Society to decide to only put a small part of it on public display whilst moving the rest to safe storage. Occasionally, larger parts of the Collection have been put on display as part of some exhibition.

In the present day, the Collection is still housed at the Gwentshire County Museum. An air raid shelter, built during WW2 in the museum's basement, and later refurbished in the 1990s contains the bulk of the Collection. As mentioned previously, a small part is on public display but the items are periodically rotated between being in storage and on display. The museum grants access to the Collection for those who can prove a valid scholarly interest.

Using the Collection

There are a few options for GMs with regards to using the Collection in their games. 

The main option is using the Collection to aid the players, either to fight some supernatural foe or find out key information. The best way of using this is have a player roll Investigation and then add +1 for a success and each raise (to a max of +4) on either a Knowledge (Occult) roll or an attack on a supernatural foe. Other rolls for the bonus include Streetwise or other Knowledge skills, possibly even on Intimidation on certain characters.

Another option is to use the Collection to link campaigns set in different time periods. A 'past' campaign could see the player characters retrieving an item for the Collection and then needing that item in a campaign set years or even decades later. An example could see the characters being part of Sir Thomas' band in the 1640s collecting artefacts against the backdrop of the English Civil War, then having those some items show up in a 1930s era campaign either to stop a big bad or even being stolen by the characters.

Finally the characters could be out to destroy the collection, particularly if they are under the impression that the Mist-Bound are evil beings needing to be defeated. This option could result in the characters releasing a truly evil and powerful being which they'll have to somehow defeat, a task that could've been made more difficult if they have destroyed an item that could have been used to defeat said being.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Frozen Skies Session 7: This Is Fine

Last time we joined the crew of the airship Waylander, two of their fellows had ended up in a police cell as the law tried to get the entire crew booked for smuggling. Though the law would be frustrated in its efforts, it does have other tricks up its sleeves. One of the detained crew members has to face a court martial, the other had urgent summons from home to face an equally dreadful matter.


The Not So Long Arm Of The Law

Previously the crew attempted a smuggling run, though a chance encounter with a wrecked cargo ship gave them a bit of legality by amending the ship's cargo manifest. When they arrived to find the police waiting for them, they were able to claim that their cargo had been salvage. The only thing that the police were able to pin onto the crew that was one of them, the medic, was an army deserter. The newest arrival, the mad scientist Reginald Spitsworth, also got locked up as the police doubted that he was the son of a noble...which he also kicked up quite a fuss about.

Reginald was duly released, though the medic Herbert was held until a military provost arrived to escort him to a court-martial at Calharrow. The crew were also asked by the police to pick up a prisoner, a downed sky pirate, from Prospector's Reach and transport him to Gravenburgh. Both Herbert and Reginald got a chewing out by Tag, plus it was agreed to do the prisoner transport job and then take Herbert to his court-martial.

They flew out to pick up the prisoner without any encounters enroute, once in Prospector's Reach they rolled Vigor due to the cold and Sebastian burned through his bennies to avoid getting a level of Fatigue. Likewise, picking up the prisoner went without a hitch...though the characters were perhaps getting a little paranoid at this point with how well things had gone.

Things Never Go Smooth

Deciding to drop the prisoner off in Gravenburgh first, they flew south-east from Prospector's Reach rather than risk getting too close to Broken Spires. Things were going smoothly until a Spades face card was drawn, signifying enemies. Sure enough five aircraft, one 'Hornet' light fighter and four 'Kestral' medium fighters, launched an attack out of the clouds. Two of the Kestrals took on the crew's Blackforge Marauder, though only one of the enemy aircraft managed to do damage and admittedly that was three wounds in a single pass. The Hornet and other two Kestrals went after the crew's Banshee plane, but between them only managed a couple of wounds (the character had the adventure card that negated damage).

The Marauder limped back to the airship, whilst the Banshee plane took on the sky pirates. The Banshee's Siren was put to great effect, I ruled that making the enemy pilot Shaken granted a +2 bonus to Shooting rolls against them. My notoriously bad dice rolling kicked in and the sky pirates only managed to succeed in damaging the controls of the Banshee plane so that it couldn't turn right. The turrets on the Waylander proved their worth, helping to shoot down the enemies. Only two of the enemies managed to bail out, the rest ended up in a twisted metal coffin. Sebastian, in one of the turrets, took out the last sky pirate by doing an impressive 54 damage.

Thoughts

A high Piloting skill coupled with an agile aircraft (ie bonus to Handling), in the case of the Hornet with Evasion 8, didn't prove to be an issue. It was basically like a high Parry, though maneuvers and tricks can help counter this. I seem to be getting a better handle on range modifiers, it required the use of maneuvers by both sides to negate the penalties for shooting. All-in-all, very happy with how air combat is working out.

This week's post is shorter than I'd like, unfortunately I've struggle to get this written due to various factors but I hope I got the key points covered. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Keep The Home Fires Burning

This week we're looking at another of the planned settings for Utherwald Press and, fittingly enough as I have a cold, its Keep The Home Fires Burning.

It'll pretty much be a few ideas I have in mind for the setting, concepts and possible rules. There will also be an insight in how character players interact with the setting along with a couple of adventure hooks.


The Flu

Central to the setting is going to be the Spanish Flu; at least a quarter of the British population was affected and over 50 million people died because of it worldwide (228,000 in Britain alone). Even Prime Minister David Lloyd George contracted it but survived.

The visual signs of the flu is going to be people coughing and sneezing in addition to overcrowded hospitals. Though there is other things such as theaters, dance halls, churches and other public-gathering places being closed in addition to people wearing anti-germ masks. Carts piled with the flu's victims would also be common.

In game terms the flu would be Long-Term Chronic, Majorly Debilitating. Edges and Hindrances could be used to represent immunity (or lack of) to the flu, also considering something like the Fear Levels from Deadlands but adapted for areas of greater or lesser risk of infection. These 'Infection Levels' would determine the penalty on a Vigor roll to contract the flu, the higher the Level the greater the penalty. Hospitals would have the highest, but something like a large park would have a pretty low Infection Level due to lack of people. Anti-germ masks could provide a bonus here.

The Characters

Decided not to go with any references to MI13, instead the characters will be part of a group known as 'Home Office Auxiliaries'. The characters will have been sworn-in as special constables (unless they're already members of the police) to work for the Home Office by investigating and containing the weirdness that is afflicting London in hopes of keeping it under wraps. Though whilst they are likely to face the weird and supernatural, they are just as likely to deal with more mundane affairs.

One task the characters could expect to do is being called to a hospital to investigate why the bodies in its morgue are being disturbed, only to discover a warren of ghouls under the building. On the other end of scale, the characters could have to deal with a criminal gang who have been peddling a false 'vaccine' for the flu.