Monthly Archives: April 2011

New Star Wars Tat and Inspiration from New Orleans.. Oh yeah..

I just went to New Orleans this weekend with my girlfriend for a nice little jazz and alcohol filled vacation. It was amazing. The atmosphere among those old buildings and the history is amazing.

The way the city vibed has really given me a goal to try to make my cities feel alive in role-playing games.

I really got some insight as to how I want to present certain aspects of Freeport in my current Pirate game.

The French Quarter is a really great place to visit.

While I was there I decided to honor the occasion with a new tattoo.

All hail the Stormtrooper!!

Dread- A Damned Fine Horror Role-Playing Game- and my own Questionnaires

I’ve been waiting for quite some time to get my hands on Dread. The printed version has an expensive price point however, and also it is quite an adventure to even track down an available copy. Luckily it is now available on PDF at Drivethru RPG! You bet your ass that I nabbed that as soon as I realized it was there.

The book itself is small, but packed full with great information. The info isn’t just for a dread game but viable for any rpg you are running where you want to instill a sense of thrill, terror, anticipation, and, yes, dread.

For anyone not familiar with how Dread works; it is a dice-less and, in a manner of speaking, traditional character sheet-less system.

Resolution is handled in a most interesting and intense manner, through a Jenga tower. Whenever a player is attempting something that has a questionable outcome the GM will ask the player to do a pull.

The player can elect NOT to pull and suffer some unfavorable outcome, but not totally detrimental.


The character is on a roof top when the door bursts open and a horde of zombies come spilling out. The player states that they want to run and jump over to the next building. The GM agrees and says that will be 2 pulls; one for the running and one for the jumping.

The tower is already rickety, and if it collapses the player is removed from the game, most likely dying in a totally grisly fashion. The player states he is only going to do one pull and if successful, will determine which action it is for.

After a tense moment the player makes the pull and says it was for the jumping. The GM then paints a scene where the character didn’t have enough running room because of the zombies coming at him and basically had to cold leap across the alleyway. The player slams into the wall and feels a sharp pain in his side and is hanging on, his feet scrapping against the wall. He can hear the zombies below moaning in some sort of perverted excitement at the dangling meal. The character manages to pull himself up onto the roof. The sharp pain in his side burns and catches his breath. “I think I may have fractured a rib”, he thinks to himself.
Mechanically this means that the GM can require the player to make 2 pulls whenever attempting something physical.

If the GM didn’t want to do the above route he could make the player hang on the edge, but instead now has a fear of heights or whatever, require two pulls when having to get near a ledge.

No Character Sheets?

Well not in the traditional sense. The GM makes up a bakers dozen (13) questions for each player. Some of the questions may be the same, but usually they are unique for each character. As the players go through the adventure they will make notes of things that may shape/change their characters. See the end of this post for my examples.

What I am Planning to do

Dread hits a sweet spot for me in its enthusiastic embrace of the abstract. As I recently posted, this is where I’ve been leaning more towards in my normal gaming sessions.

I love running Horror One shots, especially around Halloween. However I’ve been getting the bug again recently to run a horror one shot. This feeling has been egged on by purchasing Dread and the fact that I just started playing Alan Wake for Xbox 360. I really am enjoying it! Has a great narrative flow (although I do agree with many people that his constant narration of stuff can be slightly annoying).

Another thing that has really got me in the mood to run another horror one shot is the entire original Twilight Zone TV series is on Netflix Streaming! That is enough to make me do cartwheels around the room!

I am planning to do a game inspired by Alan Wake, Twilight Zone, and Silent Hill.

The group will be staying at a resort lodge called, “Crane on the Water Relaxation Resort.”

I am writing up this session in a manner that will make it accessible for others who wish to use it or steal stuff from it as inspiration for their own horror game. As soon as I run it I will put it up here on the blog.


Here they are:

Vacation at Crane on the Water Resort- Questionnaire

Character 1

1) What made you want to come on a relaxation retreat alone?

2) What is unique about you?

3) Your major in college was pharmacology until recently. Why did you suddenly change your major and to what?

4) How do you think having your mother be killed in front of you as a child has affected you?

5) What do you feel you are particularly good at?

6) What’s your nickname and how did you get it? How do you feel about it?

7) What do you think is terrible about yourself even though it actually isn’t that bad?

8 ) What was your favorite childhood toy? Why do you still keep it around?

9) You secretly hope to find romance on this trip, what do you plan to do to make that a reality?

10) Do you believe in the supernatural? Why or why not?

11) Is the class half empty or half full? Why do you feel this way?

12) What did you bring with you on this trip?

13) What is your name?

Vacation at Crane on the Water Resort- Questionnaire

Character 2

1) You and your spouse are in a loveless relationship. Do you think this trip will help you rekindle your feelings for one another? If not, why did you come?

2) You really love nature. What about it brings you peace of mind?

3) Why did you have a melt down at work? What happened?

4) What motto did your father ingrain into your head as a child? How has it affected you as an adult?

5) What musical instrument can you play? Why is it important to you?

6) Why are you so angry all the time? What are you afraid you’ll do?

7) Why are you afraid of the dark?

8 ) What is your happiest memory?

9) Do you believe in second chances? Why?

10) Are you a big picture person or a detail orientated person?

11) How does being a parent make you feel?

12) What did you bring with you on this trip?

13) What is your name?

Vacation at Crane on the Water Resort- Questionnaire

Character 3

1) You and your spouse are in a loveless relationship. You planned this trip at save your marriage. Do you think it will work?

2) How do you think your child sees you and your spouse? If negative how do you want to change it?

3) What is your favorite food? Do you over-indulge on it?

4) Your father beat your mother and you when you were a child. Why do you think he never touched your sister?

5) Where did you get that scar?

6) Where do you work? Why were you recently passed up for a promotion?

7) You used to be a big camper until 8 years ago. What happened and why did you stop?

8 ) What is something you accomplished that you are extremely proud of?

9) Why do you think you are always right? What trouble has this gotten you into?

10) What addiction do you hide from your family?

11) Why do you cry when it rains?

12) What did you bring with you on this trip?

13) What is your name?

Vacation at Crane on the Water Resort- Questionnaire

Character 4

1) Your parents fight constantly. What do you want to do about it?

2) How does being forced on this trip make you feel?

3) What happened to your pet recently? How has this made you feel?

4) Why haven’t you told your parents you hear voices? What do they say?

5) What was your first brush with what people would consider supernatural?

6) Why won’t your parents like that you are in a relationship?

7) What are you hoping to experience on this trip?

8 ) What is your favorite subject at school?

9) Do you participate in any after school sports or activities?

10) How does being the youngest person on this trip feel?

11) Which of the guests give you the creeps?

12) What did you bring with you on this trip?

13) What is your name?

Vacation at Crane on the Water Resort- Questionnaire

Character 5

1) Why are you on a vacation retreat? What do you hope to accomplish?

2) What difficulties has OCD caused for you? What is the worst experience you’ve had because of it?

3) What made you start to lose your faith?

4) Why do your friends look to you as a leader? Why does it scare you?

5) You’ve woken up at midnight every night for the past several years. Why? What do you do?

6) Where do you work? Why do you like it?

7) What did you inherit from your father that you keep with you although you’ve never used?

8 ) If you could only save one person would you save a child you didn’t know or friend? Why?

9) What does the color red make you think about? Why?

10) What do you feel is lacking in your life?

11) You’re not a vegetarian, so why don’t you eat chicken?

12) What did you bring with you on this trip?

13) What is your name?

Vacation at Crane on the Water Resort- Questionnaire

Character 6

1) Why is the book, “400 most haunted places in America” in your possession on this relaxation retreat?

2) What happens when you don’t get your morning cup of coffee?

3) What is your earliest memory? Why does it still terrify you to this day?

4) Why were you fired from your job?

5) Why does the sound of rain terrify you?

6) Why do you always act tougher than you really are?

7) Why don’t you mind being alone?

8 ) Who of the guests at this resort grate on your nerves?

9) Why did you drop out of college when you had a 4.0 GPA?

10) In what ways are you like your father? In what ways are you dissimilar from him?

11) Why do you read out-loud?

12) Your luggage was lost at the airport. What is left in your carry on bag?

13) What is your name?

Mouseguarding Dragon Age- Complications, Twists, and Conditions

The other day I mentioned that I figured out where I wanted to go as a GM and what system(s) I would be using/incorporating into my games. I also talked about what sort of conditions I would use in Dragon Age.

Two weeks ago I ran a Dragon Age game via Skype for some friends, and role-players, of mine back in Montana. The game went really well and there were very few snags with Skype (usually just the occasional disconnect).

While I am not going to do a session recap for my Skype games, I am going to give a quick summary and talk about how I used Complications, Twists, and Conditions (C/T/C) to make the adventure more reactive to the player’s choices.

Summary: Into the Fire

The adventure revolved around Nate (An Aavarian Hillsman) and Fletch (A Circle Mage) wandering the land looking for artifacts for the Circle. They came across a village at the southern tip of the Fereldan that was rumored to be near old ruins.

The town was just setting up for a celebration that signaled the end of the fall harvest and the beginning of winter. The players partook of the festivities until a woman screamed that there was a body in the street.

The players ran to investigate and found a dying Templar. He mumbled, “On mission.. all dead.. darkspawn… are coming.”

The village began to panic and the players were basically given three choices of how to proceed. A) Scouting for the Darkspawn to determine their strength and possibly engage. B) Help set up the defenses of the town. C) Help get the people who are able to fight in the village prepped and ready to go.

The players chose to go scouting.

They found the Darkspawn and saw that the force was too large for them to handle alone (20 Genlocks, 1 Genlock Emissary, and 1 Hurlock commander). They rushed back to the town, helped in the defenses as quick as they could. The Darkspawn announced their arrival by setting the small village ablaze with fire arrows.

The fight was brutal and the town lost over half of its citizens.

I also took a page out of the Amber Rage adventure here and made Nate choose between two little children, that he had previously met in the session, to rescue. Both were being chased by Genlocks. He chose the sister and watched the brother be cut in half. It went really and Nate felt the weight of his decision, not because it was children being killed, but because I had introduced him to these characters and tugged at the heart strings a bit

The session ended with the players getting ready to shift through the rubble and bodies to find survivors and put a blade in any lingering Darkspawn.

Putting Some Mouse Guard Into it All

I broke this session into the “blocks” that Dragon Age suggests. The beginning was a role-playing encounter that set the stage and let the players bond with the NPCs of this soon-to-be-doomed town.

The second chunk, depending on the player’s choice, would either be another role-playing encounter or an explorations one. In here is where I inserted Complications, Twists, and Conditions. Based on decisions there could be more mini-RP or combat encounters. More on this below.

The third encounter would be combat and the either successful defense, total razing, or somewhere in between of the village.

The second part was the part where I had to do the most planning and be ready to do the most improvising.

I broke the section into three choices, but was ready to improvise should the players present me with any additional ideas.

Like Mouse Guard each choice had an ability (with a focus) linked to it. If the players wanted to use a different ability (and focus) and could justify it to me, so be it. I had an idea of what I wanted to happen with the success, but also let the player set the stage and accomplishment of their success.

I also had an idea of what I wanted to happen should they fail by introducing a C/T/C.

Three Choices

The three choices I laid out for Nate and Fletch were; Scouting, planning defense, or planning attack.

Planning Defense– This was a cunning or communication ability test that also would allow the players to actively look for things to use in the upcoming battle. If the test was successful the townsfolk and players would have added +1 to their defense (not to mention possibly have a few tricks up their sleaves).

Failure would have resulted in a twist, the Darkspawn arrive much earlier than anticipated, before there is any defense at all really, and the group probably would have had to flee before the onslaught of the Darkspawn.

Planning the Attack– Here was another communication test where the players would rally the scared villagers and prepare for some sort of offensive. If the test was successful the villagers would have felt more confident. Everyone would feel bolstered and all would (including players) receive +1 to attack and damage.

If failed I planned to add a condition Rattled (-1 to attack, defense, and willpower) to the townsfolk and players. They all felt the overwhelming pressure and sense of hopelessness at what they were about to face.

Scouting Ahead– For this choice I also had a side quest of being asked to find six husbands who wandered off into the fields to get even drunker than at the festival itself.

This was a Perception (tracking or searching) test. If succeeded the group would find the husbands alive and passed out. Once awoken 3 would immediately flee to the village while the other 3 could be persuaded to stay and help (Nate told them to go back and protect the village). This bolstered the number of attackers in the village from 14 to 20.

If they failed the test they would have found all of them butchered and a small party of Genlocks standing over the body.

As for finding the Darkspawn it was a Perception (Tracking) test. Success allowed them to sneak up and access the size of the force as well as decide if they wanted to try and tangle with them or set traps etc.

My players decided that the force was too large and it was too risky for them to try anything. So they huffed it back to the village

If the group failed the literally would have walked into the stragglers of Darkspawn, about 5 of them. One would have started sounding an alarm that would have alerted the others. This would have led to the party having to make some decisions on how to proceed and survive.

So there it is, how I used C/T/C that made it so failure just led the adventure in a different direction rather than bringing the game to a screeching halt. For me it was much more fun to have players try what they want and them knowing that failure isn’t just “the end,” but that it leads something different and change how the adventure is going to be played out.

Official Firefly: Hurtlin’ Through the ‘Verse Character Sheet Done!

This is the official character sheet for my Firefly: Hurtlin’ Through the ‘Verse Rules based on AGE: Here’s the document if you are interested:

Firefly Hurtlin Through the Verse V2

Well it’s finally done! I really have to thank my girlfriend Angie for doing all of the hard work on this. She designed the character sheet, using the Dragon Age sheet as a loose reference, and then hand drew it!

So here it is!

Firefly Char Sheet Page 1
Firefly Char Sheet Page 2