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....


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...


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.


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.