Monday 28 May 2018

Frozen Skies Session One: Getting Airborne

After the 'warm-up' session a couple of weeks back, the group began its first proper session of the campaign. This was where the group got their characters established and how they worked (or not worked) together as a team. It was also interesting in that there was some unexpected aerial combat, though more on that later on.

Welcome to the Outlands

Play started with the characters being established as freelancers working for a timber company called Outland Lumber Co. Description and a little of the backstory of each character was then shared as well as their starting location of the company town of Bowerstead Post.

They were called into the office of the town's foreman and told that they were being given a job to deliver supplies to a logging camp located near a twin pair of hills known as Taran's Bluffs. The list of items was food, medicine, new tools and some mail for the loggers based at the camp. They were also approached by a man, Ardan Gowan, who asked the characters to deliver a small package to a workman called Tolbert. Jack refuses to take the package until Ardan reveals what it is, in the end Ardan reluctantly opens the package to show that it is a small wooden box containing peppermints. Alex decided to do a search based Notice to make sure nothing was hidden in the box, a high roll turned up nothing but the peppermints. 

After they'd finished loading their airship, the characters set off to the logging camp. All seemed to go well until a trio of specks appeared on the horizon...


The specks soon turned out to be medium fighters aiming to intercept the character's airship. Jack took the airship's controls whilst the others fought among themselves over who was manning what turrets, ultimately George took the front turret, Alex the rear turret and Herbert manning the turret of the Marauder still attached underneath the belly of the airship. Jack threw the airship into a tight bank round, swinging the airship round almost 180 degrees. George fired off a burst from the twin 50-cal MGs in his turret and scored two hits on one of the fighter, though only one did enough damage to inflict a wound. The fighter's pilot failed both their Out of Control and Bail Out rolls, something that would set the standard of my dice rolling for the evening.

Herbert and Alex fired off bursts from their respective turrets, though only Alex scored a hit but failed to do anything more and the pilot just managed to stay in control. One of the fighters tried shooting the airship's engines but missed (will explain at the end), the other managed to do a Jink manoeuvre to improve its Evasion (thus stopped Herbert from doing much against it) but failed to do much with its shooting.

Next round saw Jack throw the airship into a tight turn, causing the two fighters to overshoot. One of the fighters tried doing an Immelmann turn to bring itself back around and failed miserably, but managed to stay in control (as well as burning through all my GM bennies). The other elected to try a much more sedate turn. Both fighters ended up falling victim to a burst of fire from the turret Herbert was manning, both pilots failed to bail out (one completely failed on a 1). Once again it was just the airship and the open sky.

White Wolves

At Jack's insistence, the characters went to investigate and then salvage what they could from the fighters they had shot down. Upon finding the crash site for two of the planes the characters discovered that the planes were Kestral medium fighters, both had a picture of a white wolf's head on the fuselage. The pilot of the first wrecked plane they came across was death from a broken neck, though he wore a pilot's jacket with the same white wolf picture on the back and a necklace of wolf teeth.

Jack and Alex checked out one of the other crashed fighters, finding the pilot still alive, trapped and firing potshots at them with a revolver. Jack managed to duck into cover behind a handy tree whilst Alex ran over, rested the end of his cane gun on the edge of the cockpit and pulled the trigger. Needless to say, the pilot wasn't able to make much of a response after that. Regardless, the characters salvaged the guns and ammo from both crashed fighters whilst noting the location of the third. 

Jack helped himself to a jacket from one of the dead pilots, noting the white wolf picture. The group as a whole didn't seem to be too fussed that they'd been attacked by sky pirates, then again they had shot the planes down with ease. Regardless, they re-boarded their airship and Jack bolted two of the salvaged machine guns to either side of the airship. They then continued back on track to the logging camp at Taran's Bluffs.

Trouble With Windryders

Arriving at the logging camp they found it under a state of siege, barricades set up all around it as well as stockades. They were greeted by the camp foreman. Mosley, who explained that the camp had recently started suffering attacks from the local Windryder tribe. He went to explain that it was unusual and shortly before the attacks started, a group of men came through the camp in a hurry. Mosley asked whether the characters could help and Jack offered to trade Mosley one of the salvaged machine guns with some ammo, eventually managed to barter it for a key and some bottles of whiskey.

Alex went and tracked down Tolbert to give him the peppermints they'd been asked to deliver, receiving Tolbert's thanks and an explanation that the mints was one of the few 'luxuries' he could get out in the wilderness. Herbert went to see whether he could lend any assistance to the camp's doctor whilst Sebastion and George ended up unloading the supplies from the airship.

Once the airship had been unloaded, and despite Mosley's plea for help, Jack decided that the group should head back to Bowerstead Post now their 'job' had been completed. Jack argued that Mosley wasn't 'their' boss and so he could only ask them to help, additionally Jack wanted to get paid. So they departed Taran's Bluffs, leaving a fair number of disappointed people behind them.


For the air combat segment I allowed the players to have an Evasion stat on the airship, Jack's high Piloting skill of d10 meant that the sky pirates struggled to hit the airship (though my bad dice rolling was a big factor as well). Going forwards any and all airships are going to have a TN of 4 like normal Shooting attacks, but I'm otherwise happy with how the air combat went.

Additionally, its looking like some sort of incentive/orders from the boss is going to be needed to get the characters to go on certain adventures. Jack's player is playing the character as being bit of a douche, I just need to be aware of this for the rest of the campaign. Though Jack's player is looking to make more modifications to the airship, some of which I may be able to incorporate into future Frozen Skies related material.

The sky pirates with the white wolf symbol has given a potential plot hook to use later on, though remains to be seen how they handle future 'jobs' from Ardan Gowan.

Monday 21 May 2018

Frozen Skies: Expanded Airship Rules Ideas

So running a Frozen Skies campaign gives me the opportunity to try stuff out beyond the typical scope of a one shot adventure. One of the ideas that I wish to develop and playtest is expanded rules for airships and combat involving them. This will of course feed into Skies of Crimson, the next book that is planned for Frozen Skies.

Aircraft vs Airship

Mentioned under the Airship Combat rules is that weapons over a certain size are able to hurt airships, meaning the options of an aircraft are pretty limited. Have a few ideas to address this as discussed below.

Called Shots - Basically works the same as normal ranged combat; characters can target specific parts of the airship. This would incur a -4 penalty on the Shooting roll and can target the following locations; Engines, Controls and Weapon Mount. This attack inflicts the effects described on the Airship Critical Hit Table in Frozen Skies for the locations, but it doesn't actually inflict a wound on the airship.

The idea here is that the aircraft would be disabling the airship rather than killing it outright.

Gas Cells - Another idea I'm toying with is something that could allow aircraft to actually hurt an airship; targeting its gas cells.

Targeting the gas cells would grant the attacking aircraft a +2 on its Shooting rolls, though I am toying with the idea of halving the airship's Toughness for these type of attacks. Gas cells would then suffer wounds as per the normal damage rules, additionally the airship will begin losing height at a rate of 1d10" per wound. Also, gas cell wounds inflict a -1 penalty on Piloting skill rolls like normal wounds and this will be cumulative with the airship's regular wounds and other modifiers. The fourth and each successive wound thereafter should be considered as wounds on the airship itself, potentially meaning that the airship will be losing altitude at a rate of 6d10" per round.

This method means its easier for an attacking aircraft to do but it requires a greater effort.

Monday 14 May 2018

Frozen Skies Session Zero: Taking Flight

Some back I mentioned about running a Frozen Skies campaign, recently had a character creation session or 'Session Zero' if you will. Partially because we had a new player and partial because it had been a while since we last played anything Savage Worlds related, we did a short combat to get to grips with how everything works. So this week's post will be a rundown of the characters and an after action report of the brief combat. Going forward, I'll be alternating between campaign posts and Utherwald Press related posts.

Cast of Scoundrels

We have a crew of five characters who are to brave the frozen skies of Alyeska, complete with their own airship (more on that in a bit). They all hail from a diverse range of different backgrounds and, in one particular case, different countries.

Alex Sondheim - Petty street thug, grew up picking pockets and extorting shopkeepers.

Herbert Schilling - Former doctor's apprentice from Lindun, recently finished national service posting at Calharrow.

George Packer -  Served in the Royal Aero-Marines, now heavy weapons specialist and secondary pilot for the group.

Jack "Tag" Rollews - Mercenary pilot and mechanic, originates from the Coalition.

Sebastion Jones - Sharpshooter.

As stated earlier, they have an airship; The Waylander

She's an old Rover-class scout airship that saw service during the Great Darmonican War and got sold off after the armistice. It sports hooks to mount a pair of fighter-reconnaissance aircraft to extend its patrol radius and for self-defence. Additionally, it boasts a pair of gun turrets armed with twin 50-cal machine guns. 

At present they have a single escort aircraft; A Blackforge Marauder that's been named "Gilias".

Smoke Street Shootout

After character creation was done and the players had sorted out their airship, we had a bit of time to run through a bit of combat. This was partially to get used to the rules again, partially to show how the system works for Herbert's player since he's new to the group and to tabletop RPGs.

The scenario was pretty straight forwards; the group ran afoul of a street gang that outnumbered them two-to-one.

Jack's player got lucky and received a Joker in the first round of combat, but elected to hold their action. Herbert's player ended up going first, got into cover behind a truck and fired off a shot from their rifle. George was next, firing a burst from his machine gun whilst Alex edged closer to the thugs and fired his revolver. Jack and Sebastion broke into a nearby building with the intent of using the upper floor as a sniping point. By the time the thugs went, one of them had been Shaken (and would remain so). The return exchange of fire from the thugs was terrible, so a good bunch of them decided to leap-frog through some cover in order to get to George and Herbert. The thug leader fired his weapon, which produced a beam of light rather than a bullet, at Alex.

Round two saw Herbert getting a Joker and going first again, this time downing one of the thugs. George's efforts with the machine gun put down a couple more thugs. Jack and Sebastion reach the upper floor, Jack then spotted for Seb by using his pair of binoculars. Allow Jack to do a Notice roll, a success and each raise then gave +1 to Seb's Shooting roll (IIRC he got a raise and so Seb got +2 to his own roll). Seb then fired at the thug leader and managed to roll 24 on his damage roll, the thug leader managed to do a Soak roll but was left with two wounds. Alex then moved up to do a melee attack on the thug leader and...failed.

The thugs continued to move forwards, but their shooting was just as ineffective as it was during the first round. The thug leader spent a benny to remove Shaken and proved just as bad in melee against Alex. Due to time constraints we had to call it quits there, though everyone seemed to enjoyed it.

Thoughts: Range and cover modifiers do have a big impact, plus it was nice seeing the players thinking tactically.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Kickstarter Update

OK, Frozen Skies Kickstarter update time.

Right, that magic word...FULFILMENT

We've pretty much finished checking through for typos and errors, now its a case of doing the last few corrections and edits before finalizing the files prior to them being uploaded to DriveThruRPG. There will probably be bit of a delay since the files will be needed to be validated by DriveThru, once they've been approved see can then see about sending out copies of Frozen Skies.

So now would be a very good time to ensure that your Kickstarter details are correct, a survey should go out at some point in the next few weeks so that the process of fulfilment can be done. The focus will be on getting Frozen Skies out, after that we can turn our attention to the rest of the Kickstarter rewards.

Oh, and theres another magic word....FEEDBACK

Released a Kickstarter draft PDF of Frozen Skies via a Backer-only update a few months back, have asked for feedback whether theres any changes needed to be made. Now is the last chance to get that feedback in.

Monday 7 May 2018

The Gwentshire Chronicles: The Mist-Bound

We're returning to the County of Gwentshire and taking a look at a few ideas concerning the Mist-Bound. This group of entities serve as sentinels, standing guard against otherworldly beings trying to break through the weak point in reality located in Gwentshire.
Doing things a little differently this week by having this week's post up on Patreon before it goes live on the blog. 
The Mist-Bound
The Mist-Bound are a group of five entities who guard the rift in the walls between worlds and stop otherworldly beings from slipping through. They are widely believed to have been druids who underwent a ritual to become the Mist-Bound, something that is said to have occurred before the Roman conquest of the British Isles.
Normally they are very covert, preferring to conduct their eternal duty away from Human eyes. On the few occasions that they have materialized before a person, there has never been more than five of them and they all appear as cloaked figures surrounded by mist. There doesn't seem to be a clear leader and generally they all seem to be male, though one is said to to be female from the tone and accent of their voice.
They seem to have some sort of relationship with the spectral black hound 'Grim Jack'. Its not clear whether the hound is a servant of the Mist-Bound or an ally, but no known hostility between the two has been recorded. Its only on very rare occasions that Grim Jack has been seen in the company of the Mist-Bound.
Over the centuries the Mist-Bound's power has been steadily eroded, first by the raise of Christianity and then later by the destruction of ancient sites beginning during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. Decline in the Mist-Bound powers has meant a weakening of their vigilance on the Gwentshire rift and greater chances of things being able to slip through. A spite of 'weirdness' in the 1970s was said to have been caused by a housing development destroying a key site, something that forced the Mist-Bound to enlist the aid of mortals.
The Neopagan movement has seen a revival of the Mist-Bound's strength and power, thus allowing them to catch more of the smaller beings trying to slip through the crack between worlds. However, Human activity has been a threat to the Mist-Bound is likely to continue to be so.