Thursday, 28 December 2017

Yakuza 2019 - Actual Play Report #1: Amphetamine Logic

So it finally happened, what you've all been waiting for.  I finally sat down and played a roleplaying game in a capacity other than as a GM for the first time in three years!  We ran a modern-day Yakuza game using the Interlock System from Cyberpunk 2020.  You can read about how this came about and the character's stats by clicking here.  The GM who is running me through this campaign was the player in the Aki Campaign.  The first actual play report of which you can find here.  What follows is the events that transpired in the first session of our campaign.  Here goes.

Let the Good Times Roll

The avatar for my character Tae Joon-Ho.
A mid-level Yakuza amphetamine dealer.
So our game starts off in my character Tae Joon-Ho's apartment.  A single room apartment of about 4 and a half tatami mats.  His superior in the Akemi-gumi Takahiro Koizumi (who Joon-Ho calls Aniki or bro as a sign of respect) stops by to drop off this month's kilo of Adderall.  The two proceed to get drunk on convenience store beer and high as kites on amphetamines.  Joon-Ho's girlfriend Miu had to work at the cabaret that night so the two men had the apartment to themselves.   Takahiro took this opportunity to tell Joon-Ho some good news.  

"You work a little harder and you'll be upped in no time!  We'll be equals instead of me being your boss.  Mr. Yoshida is a friend of mine, he's as greedy as a cat, but that ain't a bad thing.  Keep doing what you're doing, and I'll put in a good word.  The two of us go way back."  

Looking like a dog that'd been being shown a stick to fetch Joon-Ho said.  "You mean it, Bro!  We're gonna be equals!" Enthusiasm was Joon-Ho's middle name.  

"In all but experience and age." said Takahiro laughing at his own joke.  "You're hardworking, you deserve it.  It won't come right away, but it'll happen.  I've told Mr. Yoshida about you, and once he meets you he's gonna see what you have.  No more of this low-level dealing for you, I'm talking the big jobs.  BIG money." 

Joon-Ho laughed in anticipation a big shit-eating grin spread across his face.  Raising his beer can in offering of a toast he said "Kampai!" to which Takahiro reciprocated, both of them downing their drinks.

The Hangover

Takahiro Koizumi, Joon-Ho's immediate
superior and best friend.  Unlike myself
my GM has chosen to use real life photos
for character portraits.  I actually quite
like the look of Takahiro's.
The celebration continued well into the night, despite being hopped up on amphetamines.  The two men somehow managed to get some sleep, passing out on the floor of the small apartment.  By the time they'd both woken up it was near-noon the next day.  Both of them had horrific hangovers, the cocktail hard drugs and alcohol creating a head splitting pain.  "Could you go get me some smokes, kid? ...I'm... no gonna be able to get up for a while..." Takahiro's voice was despondent.  Of the two of him he had come down the hardest from his high.  "This hangover is killing me..."  

"Sure thing, Bro." Joon-Ho was a little less enthusiastic than he had been last night.  He was pinching his forehead as a result of his own hangover, but he was faring a great deal better than Takahiro.  Joon-Ho left his boss and his apartment departing for the local corner store to buy cigarettes.  

Shuichi Takenaka 

As Joon-Ho walked to the local corner store, he passed a bar that he did business out of.  Outside was Shuichi Takenaka a dealer from the Izumi-gumi that Joon-Ho knew because they shared the same profession but otherwise knew very little about.  Shuichi was talking to someone giving what sounded like a sales pitch "Right now, the cost is lower, but who knows what it'll be like tomorrow.  It's a vulnerable market after all."  Son of a bitch!  He was selling amphetamines on Joon-Ho's turf.  (How dare you sell drugs in this neighbourhood!  That's my job!) 

Shuichi was connected with the Izumi-gumi a younger, smaller and less prestigious group than Joon-Ho's own organization the Akemi-gumi.  (That was all the information that the GM would offer me without a Streetwise roll.  I told her it'd be more in character for Joon-Ho to act without knowing all the facts).  As a loyal member of the Akemi-gumi, Joon-Ho couldn't let small-fry like this piss all over their turf!  He started approaching the rival dealer, making himself appear non-threatening.  Acting like he was just a guy running into an old friend outside a bar.  "Mr. Takenaka of the Izumi-gumi, right?"  Before Shuichi could say anything in response, Joon-Ho caught him square in the face.  With a Tae Kwon Do punch so powerful that it knocked the dealer to the ground unconscious.  He turned to the customer that had been trying to buy from Shuichi.  "Something wrong pal?" like he was asking a stranger about their car troubles.  Which was very intimidating considering that he'd just knocked out a man without any apparent provocation.  (As a side note the GM was not expecting me to go this route, apparently I derailed quite a bit by doing this.  I stand by it as doing what anyone would have done if they caught a rival dealer red-handed selling on their turf).  

"S-s-s-sorry sir." Shuichi's frightened customer turned tail and ran.  Dropping his wallet which he had had out to pay for Shuichi's product.  The frightened man ran back to collect the wallet in a clumsy sort of way.  Then ran away again, never looking back at Joon-Ho.  Who was content to let him go, a guy who scared that easily wasn't about to go running to the cops.  He picked up the unconscious Shuichi trying to pass it off as someone helping a drunk guy walk home.  He discovered about a half-kilo of amphetamines on Shuichi which Joon-Ho stuffed back in the rival dealer's inner pocket.  Shuichi would have a lot of explaining to do, once they got back to Joon-Ho's apartment.  Where Joon-Ho planned to interrogate the Izumi Yakuza along with Takahiro.

The Body

When Joon-Ho got to his apartment the door was unlocked, Takahiro must have left.  It didn't matter Joon-Ho was certain that Takahiro would come running back.  Once he got a call about Shuichi dealing on their Akemi turf, Takahiro would want some answers.  Joon-Ho opened the door dragging the unconscious rival dealer into the apartment and that is when he saw it.  

Takahiro was lying on the floor, covered in blood.  A revolver, similar to the one that Joon-Ho kept in the Apartment's AC unit was in his hand.  It didn't make sense!  A lot of users became depressed after they came down, but they usually didn't kill themselves if they had a supply at hand.  There was a whole kilo of Adderall in the AC unit along with the Smith and Wesson!  Unceremoniously dropping the unconscious Shuichi to the apartment floor, Joon-Ho ran over to Takahiro's body.  "Fuck!  Bro, Bro!" he yelled at the unmoving form on his apartment floor, shaking Takahiro and checking for a pulse.  He found none.  His mind went blank, how had this happened?  He checked his dead superior's jacket pockets (I figured it'd be kind of awkward to reach into the pants pockets), finding some business cards, a pack of smokes with one remaining cigarette and about two doses of Adderall.

There was nothing he could do to help his friend, and Joon-Ho was beginning to fear the worst.  He went over to the apartment's AC pulling off the panel and looking inside.  The entire kilo that Takahiro had delivered last night was gone!  So was Joon-Ho's Smith & Wesson, he could no longer deny it.  His best friend was lying dead in his apartment killed by his own gun!  A rage at the helplessness he felt boiled up inside Joon-Ho prompting his to punch the wall in frustration.  "Motherfucker!" the pain of his hand breaking (the GM said that punching a wall required 1d10 damage, of which I took 5.  I didn't change my decision to punch the wall since it seemed like a really in character thing to do) was nothing compared to the anger he felt right now!  He turned around to survey the mess he'd gotten himself into, the door was wide open and heard someone running down the metal stairs outside his apartment!  He glanced near the doorway where he'd left Shuichi he was gone!

Joon-Ho wasted no time, running out his the door of his apartment like a bat out of hell.  Hurtling down the metal staircase in pursuit of the fleeing Yakuza.  It was too late.  As he came to the bottom of the stairs, Shuichi was nowhere to be seen.  Joon-Ho decided to give up his pursuit of the rival dealer for now.  He'd get his if it was the last thing that Joon-Ho ever did.  For now there was a more pressing matter of body and a gun that needed disposing of.  (I failed my Athletics check to pursue Shuichi, so I couldn't interrogate him.  I figured it was a better idea to get rid of the evidence thank you Dogtown Felon's Handbook by Johnathan Ridd).

Cleaning the Mess

Joon-Ho climbed the stairs back to his apartment.  Once inside he grabbed some tissues and carefully extracted the revolver out of Takahiro's hand.  Careful not to get any fingerprints on it.  After that it was a walk down to the local river to dump the piece.  (I was incredibly nervous about Joon-Ho getting caught with the gun on his person.  By like a police stop and search or something, the firearm possession laws are pretty strict in Japan.  I was expecting the GM to take advantage of that fact, thankfully she didn't).  Wrapped in enough tissues to last a man a lifetime the gun sank to the bottom of the river, while a few of the tissues floated before sinking.  Satisfied that the murder weapon would never again see the light of day, Joon-Ho set out in search of a payphone.

When he finally found one he dropped one hundred Yen into it.  Enough to pay for a ten minute phone call, long enough to explain the situation, but not so long that he'd be exposed longer than he'd have to be.  That's when the withdrawal from the amphetamines hit him.  (The GM was using a drug system of her own design which I was very impressed by.  I wasn't expecting her to be implementing house rules this early in her career as a GM.  But hey, more power to her).  Joon-Ho was losing his shit.  He had no idea who had killed his friend.  It could have been that bastard Shuichi, it could have been his girlfriend Miu it could have been the people he was about to call.  For all he knew he could have killed Takahiro himself while high and not have realized it!  He glanced furiously around the phone-booth, even the people walking outside on the street could be suspects.  

Marv from Frank Miller's Sin City, the above quote from him pretty much sums up Joon-Ho's and my own thought process
at this point. 

He popped a dose of Adderall, he did not need to be dealing with withdrawal right now.  (I figured if I was in Joon-Ho's position I'd start popping pills too).  Gulping down the pills he tapped impatiently on the phone box, waiting for the call to connect.  The gun he could take care of on his own, to get Takahiro's body out of his apartment, he'd need to call in some help.  Right now he was trying to get in touch of Mr. Yoshida Goro, the one man who Joon-Ho could call when everything was fucked up.  Ordinarily it'd be Takahiro that he'd call, but Takahiro was dead and part of the Joon-Ho's current problem.  The phone clicked as he connected with the Yoshida's office.  A woman answered on the other end of the line Yoshida's secretary "Hello, Yoshida office, may I ask who's calling?"

A Japanese payphone not unlike the one that Joon-Ho made
his call to the Yoshida office from.
"Tae Joon-Ho, I work for Mr. Koizumi, I need to speak with Mr. Yoshida." Joon-Ho was trying his best to mind his manners under the stress.  
"If you want to speak to Mr. Yoshida, you'll have to set up an appointment and come down in person." replied the Secretary trying her best to be helpful and failing.  
Joon-Ho took another opportunity to look around at his surroundings outside the phone booth.  He was feeling kind of exposed and vulnerable out in the open like this.  
"This is an emergency, I need to speak with Mr. Yoshida, now!" he wasn't shouting but his initial politeness was now gone.  
"Sorry, sir, but you'll have to come down in person.  I'm sure you understand how it is." the secretary on the other end was stilling maintaining her professionalism.  Even if Joon-Ho wasn't.  He was becoming more and more panicked with each delay to speaking with Mr. Yoshida.  
"I would, but I just came back to my apartment to find my Boss murdered!  You have to put Mr. Yoshida on the phone now!" 

There was a click on the other end of the line as the secretary hung up.  Realizing that his last life-line had just hung up on him, Joon-Ho lost what little of his cool was left.  He started slamming the receiver agains the phone (Robert deNiro in Goodfellas when he finds out Joe Pesci's been murdered style) cursing at the voice that was no longer on the other end.  "Motherfucker!  Son of a Bitch!  Fucking bastard!"      


Overall it was a great first session, I was kind of disappointed that Takahiro was killed so early on.  His death did serve as the impetus for a lot of the action of this session.  So I forgive my GM for killing off one of the friends that I rolled for Joon-Ho's Lifepath.  She didn't pull any punches starting right off by taking away the two pieces of gear that were (in my opinion) most important the character.  His stash of drugs and his piece.  Not to be vindictive but to propel the story forward.  Which I personally think is the mark of a great GM, not bad for her first time.  Considering I did something similar when we ran the Aki campaign.  For those of you that haven't read that actual play report.  In short I kidnapped the player's girlfriend/dependent in the first session.  We ended the session with Joon-Ho still in the phone booth wondering how the hell he was going to get out of this one.  Which was a great place to end it really, the plan is to pick up again on this upcoming Wednesday.  Until next time have a good day and may you roll many crits.  If you liked this actual play report be sure to +1, comment below and follow this blog.  Bye for now.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Hunters: U-69 - Second & Third Patrols: December 1940 & February 1941

U-69's second Patrol probably looked a lot like this,
sitting around waiting to run into some action.
That never really came.
My second actual play report of The Hunters: 
German U-Boats at War 1939-1943.  You can find the first one here.  Without further ado let's dive right in.

The Second Patrol

U-69's second patrol was by and large uneventful with no large ships sunk.  The U-Boat had been assigned the task of dropping off an Abwehr (German Intelligence for those of you not in the know) agent off the shore of Ireland.  Before continuing with their primary mission of sinking Allied shipping around the British Isles.  Other than having to crash dive to avoid an anti-submarine plane on their first attempt to put the agent ashore.  The mission was largely a success.  The actual sinking of ships left something to be desired consisting of two small freighters.  The Bassano weighing in at 4800 tons and the destroyer escorted Soloy weighing in at 4400 tons.  U-69 sank the Bassano at close range using the boat's deck-gun.  While the Soloy was sunk in a submerged night-time approach, using all four of the forward torpedoes.  (Both Kapitan-leutnant Fechner and myself the player have a policy of not returning to port with Torpedoes, which we haven't been successful in upholding due to a lack of targets).  The Soloy's escort was thrown into disarray after their charge was sunk.  Allowing U-69 to slip away undetected.  The boat then docked back in Brest for refitting. A total of 9200 tons sunk on its second patrol, bringing its overall total up to 20,000 tons.  Just two patrols and Kommandant Fechner is a fifth of the way towards earning himself a Knight's Cross.

February 1941 - Third Patrol

Once U-69's refitting was finished in February the boat once again departed from Brest.  Returning to its favoured hunting grounds of the British Isles.  The voyage from the Bay of Biscay to the North Channel was safe and uneventful.  The action started when the watch spotted a convoy coming right towards the boat, not that far out from Belfast!  Kapitan-leutant Fechner quickly gave the order to dive to avoid detection in broad daylight.  Then ordered a submerged approach towards the convoy.  They came upon two small freighters the Thorstrand at 3000 tons, and the Dalcroy at 4600 tons.  There was also the large freighter Bronte at 5300 tons and the tanker Casanare weighing 5400 tons.  Ignoring the two small freighters, Fechner gave the order to fire on the larger Bronte and the tanker Casanare.  Two torpedoes from the forward tubes apiece.  Both salvos hit their marks, doing just enough damage to sink the two ships.  The escorts taken completely by surprise were unable to locate U-69.

The aftermath of U-69's first attack on the convoy.
Kapit√§nleutnant Fechner gave the order to continue following the convoy.  Who knew if they'd have another opportunity to use their torpedoes for the rest of the patrol.  He had prey within his sights and he intended to sink as much of the convoy as he could.  Approaching the British ships from another direction he ordered the boat to surface within their midst.  Once again the officers scrambled out the hatch of U-69 and into the conning tower.  Examining their surroundings through their binoculars, scanning for the right target.  Behind them was small freighter The Royal Sceptre weighing 4800 tons.  To their bow there were another two small freighters the Scoresby at 3800 tons and the Tweed at 2700 tons.  The juiciest prize however was the tanker Havbor weighing in at 7600 tons.  To date the largest ship that U-69 had ever encountered.  Fechner made his decision in no time at all, the forward torpedoes would all be fired at the Havbor.  He wanted to sink that tanker no matter what!  Meanwhile the aft torpedo would be fired at the Royal Sceptre.  Why settle for sinking one ship when he had an opportunity to sink two!  They hit Havbor no problem (with such a large target how could they miss?) but they didn't sink her.  She was smoking, damaged and on fire in some places but she was still mobile, if somewhat slowed.  The aft torpedo failed to make contact with the Royal Sceptre. A disappointment, but Kapitanleutnant Fechner shrugged it off.  The Sceptre was small potatoes it was the Havbor he wanted!

Miraculously U-69 managed to remain undetected by the convoy's destroyer escort.  They continued to follow the limping Havbor and surfaced later that same night.  Coming up in front of the tanker and firing another torpedo at close range!  It was the straw that broke the camel's back as the Havbor went up in flames and began to sink below the surface.  Of course there were consequences to U-69's finishing blow on the Havbor as for the first time in the boat's illustrious career.  They were detected by escorting destroyers!  While the depth charge barrage proved to be short, for the crew it seemed like an eternity.  Before they were able to escape the destroyers.  At which point Fechner called off pursuit of the convoy, they were down to their last four torpedoes.  They'd already used ten on this one convoy and who knew if they'd run into another.  The escort had already detected them and might do it again.  Best to use the better part of valour, Fechner was a daring commander, but he wasn't suicidal!

Alarm! Enemy Aircraft!

A B-24 attacks U-69, ignore the US markings the one that
attacked U-69 was most definitely a RAF plane.
The crew of U-69 quickly found their next target in the form of the small freighter Thirlby.  Weighing in at 4900, they came upon her in broad daylight.  Kapitanleutnant ordered the deck-gun to fire on her at close range, their first volley of shells going wide.  Their second volley connected with the freighter, though not doing enough damage to the ship to sink her.  Fechner ordered the deck-gun's crew to reload for a finishing salvo, when out of nowhere there came the droning of airplane propellers!  There was no time to crash dive!  U-69's Kommandant yelled at his Second Watch Officer to get the Flak crew into position.  It was a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his days.  The plane dropped it's cargo of bombs, Fechner ducked his head behind the conning tower!  Seawater sprayed up from where the payload landed and then was a loud sound like thunder at close range!  Fechner was just turning to order the Flak-gun to fire on the aircraft.  When he saw them blow to pieces, men went flying into the sea!  Some barely recognizable as the shrapnel turned them into hamburger!  

The Kommandant screamed "Everyone below deck, move it, dive, dive!" The Second Watch Officer protested "We have wounded!"
"They're dead!  If you don't want to join them, get below deck now!" retorted Fechner as he pushed his protesting subordinate towards the hatch.  The pair of them jumped down, there was no time for climbing.  Fechner barely fastened the hatch behind him and ordered the helmsman to dive as fast as he could.  He quickly checked himself for wounds, there was some distance between himself and the Flak-gun when the bomb dropped.  He had to be sure though, he sighed in relief when he found himself unharmed.  Then came the guilt.  The whole thing stank of cowardice, eight (in game terms it was more like ten) of his men were dead.  And what had he done?  He'd run with his tail between his legs without even giving them a proper burial at sea.  Without a sunken freighter to offer their souls as a justification for their deaths.  He could feel the Second Watch Officer's eyes on him.  The lower-ranked man thought Fechner a coward and Fechner knew he was right.

When they resurfaced to check the damage the Lead Engineer told Fechner that the Flak-gun was inoperable and unrepairable.  Something that Fechner could tell just by looking.  He should have aborted the mission then and there without a Flak-gun they were sitting ducks.  Waiting to be ambushed by the next Allied plane that came along.  He couldn't make peace with himself though.  He couldn't go home without sinking another ship to make up for the Flak-crew's deaths.  He gave some speech about honouring their deaths as justification to his crew.  The words felt as hollow to him as they probably did to the crew, but they followed his orders regardless.  The search for new targets proved fruitless, he only found himself scanning the skies whenever he came above deck.  More frightened of another plane than he was of British Destroyers.  U-69 pulled back into Brest, based on the numbers it was a victory to the men it was a sobering defeat.  One that they smoked their first after-patrol cigarette and drank their beer to forget.  In another two months the boat would be refitted and they would have to go back on patrol.

The Wall of the Fallen

I decided to do a little collection of ships sunk by U-69 this game.  (Where I could find photographs). The Soloy was especially difficult to track down a photo of.
The Norwegian M/S
Soloy after the Bassano
in December 1940.

The British SS Bassano sunk by
U-69 in December of 1940.
The British Tanker SS Casanare sunk
by U-69 in February of 1941. 


The Norwegian Tanker M/S Havbor
part of the same convoy as the Casanare
and the Bronte.  Sunk the following night.

The British SS Bronte sunk by U-69
the same night as the Casanare.


U-69's second patrol was largely straightforward with nothing incredibly exciting happening in retrospect.  (Don't get me wrong I was still sweating bullets whenever I rolled a Escort's detection roll or to see if a torpedo hit).  Things really got really exciting on the third patrol though.  I rolled a convoy result straight off the bat and a particularly juicy one at that.  Starting off with the a Large Freighter and a Tanker.  Then another Tanker when I decided to continue following the convoy!  (I like to think of it as making up for failing to sink the Lincoln Ellsworth last session).  I'm honestly amazed that my luck has held out for this long, usually when I play Roleplaying or any other type of game.  I get such lousy rolls, not with the Hunters though, it's been nothing but success after success.  (Except when for a few rolls to hit or to determine duds here or there).  The first taste of U-69's mortality came when I was detected by the Havbor's escort after sinking it.  I really thought it was game over then.
Roughly the emotional breakdown I had when U-69 was
nearly sunk by depth-charging and later that plane.

It was even worse when we were attacked while trying to sink the Thirlby.  The whole time I was hoping against hope that I wouldn't roll Kommandant when damage indicated a crew hit.  The game would have automatically ended if that were the case.  I was so glad when it turned out to be just generic crew.  (I had three more to spare).  Unlike Kapitan-Leutnant Fechner who appears to be incredibly haunted by the deaths of his men.  I've mentioned it before but I really love how The Hunters forces you to mentally make up a narrative as you play it.  The damage to the Flak-gun and the KIA Crew were just perfect.  You couldn't have written a better story.  So now the boat has made port in Brest safely (for the most part) for the third time in its career.  With a total of 38,300 tonnage sunk to its name, U-69 has been very prolific in its short time at sea.  Since this was the third patrol the Crew also gets promoted to Veteran status.  Which makes sense since they've engaged two convoys, sunk a number of ships, escaped depth charging and an air attack on their boat.  They're no longer the fresh-faced boys that left on their first patrol five months ago.  They're the bearded Wolves of the depths that Royal Navy sailors live in fear of!  

So there's my actual-play report of my second and third sessions of The Hunters.  So far the game has been very exciting and a lot of fun.  I definitely see this having a lot of replay value as you never really know what's going to happen next.  Until next time be sure to +1, comment and follow this blog.  As always may the dice be ever in your favour and have a nice day.

Friday, 22 December 2017

The Hunters: U-69 - First Patrol: October 1940

The cover of the The Hunters Rulebook.
So this isn't really a Roleplaying Game like a usually play.  I only really discovered The Hunters yesterday and decided to run a game of it since my Cyberpunk 2020 Yakuza game got called off last minute.  For those of you that don't know The Hunters is a solitaire Wargame of U-Boat warfare from 1939 to 1943.  Where the player takes on the role of a German U-Boat commander.  The objective is to sink as much tonnage of Allied shipping as possible.  If any of what I just said appeals to you, you can read more about the game by pressing the following link.  I you have a problem with playing Germans there is also a sister game called Silent Victory, where you play American Submariners in the Pacific.  So I ran myself through the maiden voyage of a Type VII C U-Boat and honestly had quite a bit of fun.  I decided to write up something resembling an actual play report in narrative form.

October 1st, 1940 - Brest France

Our story begins at the U-Boat Pen at Brest, where the newly promoted Kapitan-leutnant Josef Fechner.  (When you first start a game of The Hunters you are required to choose a Boat Model.  Give it a name and then name it's Kommandant.  I chose the name Fechner because it was a nice simple name that I could pronounce and because it sounds like a familiar four-letter word).  Has been given command of a brand new Type VII C U-Boat, number U-69 by the Kriegsmarine.  (I chose U-69 because who wouldn't?)  Which the crew has wasted no time in graffitiing with the German phrase "Er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" directed at their British enemies.  After cutting his teeth as a First Watch Officer aboard a Typer VII A, Kaleun Fechner eagerly awaits his first assignment as a U-Boat commander is his own right.  So much so that the night before departure he buys his entire crew a round in celebration at the local cabaret!

The U-Boat Pens at Brest, not built until 1941.  But we'll
ignore that fact for the sake of the narrative.
The crew's high spirits are somewhat dampened by their assignment however.  While they'll still be taking the fight to Tommies around the British Isles, they'll be doing it with a lot less torpedoes.  As their forward and aft torpedo tubes have initially been loaded with mines.  U-69 must deliver the mines before continuing on their main mission of sinking Allied ships.  A mission that neither the crew or their Kommandant relish.  Kapitan-leutnant Fechner was so against the mine-laying mission that he tried to petition up the chain of command to get U-69 reassigned.  The U-Bootwaffe command is having none of it though.  So our intrepid commander has to settle for the lesser load of torpedoes.  You can't rack up any tonnage to the boat's name with mines.  (Since you're not around to see if they sink any ships).  So their morale still high even if they're less than enthusiastic about their mission, U-69 sets out from Brest.

First Leg of the Journey

The trip to the British Isles is uneventful (and safe) as U-69 runs into no Allied Anti-Sub planes.  They also don't run into any lone ships, much to the disappointment of the crew.  Even with their torpedo tubes carrying mines, they could still sink a ship on its own with the 8.8 cm deck-gun.  Alas the Second Watch-Officer and his crew of deck-gunners have to go without the target practice.  U-69 sails into the Irish Sea unopposed and drops its load of mines.  In a position in the centre of a triangle between the Irish ports of Dublin and Belfast, and the English ports of Liverpool and Manchester.  Having completed their unwelcome mission U-69 makes way through the North Channel.  From their heading a ways out into the Atlantic off the Northwestern coast of Ireland.  Kapitan-leutnant is eager to make up for lost time and find a British convoy to sink.  U-69 spends some time patrolling this Northwestern approach to Ireland, before finding their quarry a British Convoy headed right for them!

The Convoy

Upon the Night-time sighting of the Convoy, Kapitan-leutnant Fechner ordered the boat to dive.  He planned to get in the middle of the Convoy itself and then resurface.  Upon surfacing he would order the firing of all torpedo tubes, both forward and aft.  (All of this was a very dangerous way of going about things.  Attacking at Close Range in The Hunters means that an Escort has chance to detect you before you can even take a single shot.  Firing from both Bow and Aft tubes also made it more likely that the Escort will detect you after you fire.  While making a Night Surface Attack means that they're  more likely to damage your U-Boat in the first round of depth-charging.  All of this was balanced out by making it easier to hit ships with a larger amount of tonnage).  U-69 slipped in among the ships of the convoy and brought itself up to periscope depth.  Absolutely sure that the coast was clear, Fechner gave the order to surface.  Before climbing out the hatch into the boat's conning tower.  The other officers right at his heels, eager to pick out their prize.  

Probably what it looked like ordering the attack on the
Sarita, Lincoln Ellsworth and the Manuela.
Looking through his binoculars Fechner scanned the horizon.  To their bow were two fat tankers, both over 5000 tons if not 6000 tons.  (The Sarita and the Lincoln Ellsworth, 5800 tons and 5600 tons respectively).  To their aft were two smaller freighters 5000 tons and below.  (The Manuela at 5000 tons and the Leonidas M at 4600 tons).  He gave the order torpedoes 1&2 at the Sarita, torpedoes 3&4 at the Lincoln Ellsworth and the aft torpedo was to be fired at the Manuela.  All officers except himself and the First Watch Officer were to go below deck.  First the forward tubes would be fired while the aft would be fired at the last minute before they dove to make their escape. Fechner watched eagerly as the forward torpedoes raced towards their respective targets.  The tanker Sarita was the first to go, bursting into a brilliant orange flame.  As a torpedo struck its side, Fechner theorized that the explosion had set the Sarita's cargo of oil ablaze!  By comparison the Sarita's sister tanker's hit was less impressive.  U-69 had damaged her of that Fechner was sure.  To what extent?  He couldn't say.  The attack on the Manuela was a hurried one as Fechner didn't want to stick around long enough, for the destroyers to figure what had happened.  U-69 dove after firing their last loaded torpedo, rushing to get out of the midst of the convoy.  

The Follow-Up Attack

After waiting a couple hours Fechner ordered the boat back up to periscope depth.  He couldn't believe their luck so far!  The destroyers had been taken completely by surprise and hadn't even come close to finding U-69.  Clearly the Escort hadn't been expecting such a bold and daring attack right in their midst.  As he scanned the horizon he could see the Lincoln Ellsworth limping from the damage their torpedo had done.  Kapitan-leutnant Fechner was less than pleased to see that their aft torpedo had not connected with its target of the Manuela.  He gave the order to load the last four torpedoes aboard the boat.  The Lincoln Ellsworth was damaged and Fechner intended to finish the job!  Another opportunity like this might never present itself.  He gave the order to follow the convoy at a distance, hoping that the escort would abandon the damaged Tanker.  They followed the convoy as the sun came up as the day passed and as a new night fell.  In hopes that the convoy would leave the Lincoln Ellsworth to it's fate.  No such luck.

The destroyers and the small freighters had slowed their speed, to keep pace with the wounded ship.  Like a herd of cattle staying with a pregnant cow, while a wolf nips at their heels.  There would be no surfacing to break the Lincoln Ellsworth's back with the deck-gun.  While he would have liked to save torpedoes, U-69's Kommandant drooled at the prospect of a second shot at multiple targets.  This time it would be a submerged approach at close range.  (The boat only had G7e Electric torpedoes left, which were harder to land a hit with at medium and long range.  I wanted to hedge my bets to actually land a hit on my targets).  They couldn't make a surface attack in the midst of the enemy's ranks again.  The destroyers would be on the lookout for such a maneuver.  They didn't have a torpedo to fire from the aft tube anyways.  They approached undetected by the escort.  Torpedoes 1&2 would be aimed at the Lincoln Ellsworth, while Torpedoes 3&4 would target the Manuela.  Fechner was a little miffed about their aft torpedo missing the small Freighter on their first approach.  He also didn't want to put all his eggs in one basket, why sink one ship when he could sink two?  The torpedoes fired on the Lincoln Ellsworth didn't go off, either they missed or were duds.  (I hit the tanker I just ended up rolling a Dud on both torpedoes).  While at least one of the torpedoes aimed at the Manuela connected putting a hole in the small freighter.  Which Fechner knew from his experience as a First Watch Officer, would sink a freighter of that size eventually.  (I rolled a miss with the first torpedo and hit with the second).  

The Voyage Home

Fechner decided to cut his losses and run.  There were no more torpedoes and the British Destroyers weren't going to abandon the Lincoln Ellsworth after losing a second ship.  So he gave the order to break contact with the convoy, somewhat bitter that he'd sunk the small-fry freighter rather than his original target, of the fat oil tanker.  That prize, it seemed was a luxury that he'd have to forgo.  (That didn't mean he had to be happy about it though).  He was angry the entire voyage home, venting most of his frustration by berating his hapless First Watch Officer.  Blaming him and the torpedo crew for the failed sinking of the Lincoln Ellsworth.  The crew learned to live somewhat in fear of their Kommandant's temper that voyage.  His mood only soured further when off the southern Irish Coast towards Cornwall, they came upon a single-ship escorted by Destroyers.  This time the targets of his wrath were high command, for saddling him with a Mine-laying mission. that deprived him of the torpedoes necessary to make an attack on the escorted ship.  If the destroyers hadn't been there he could have attacked the ship with the deck-gun.  With the bitter taste of defeat in his mouth, he gave the order to let the ship go.  The words were like poison in his mouth, as U-69 slinked back to Brest with their tails between their legs.  Fechner took to throwing his coffee mug, pencils and whatever else seemed like it'd withstand the throw.  Whenever they received word of another boat's successful patrol over the radio.

Due to the patrol not being a complete failure, (they managed to sink two ships, in one patrol) Fechner kept his initial promise upon leaving Brest.  Of buying a round at the local cabaret for the whole crew.  He drank his beer in silent fury as he waited for their boat to be refitted.  A task that wouldn't be complete until December, at which point he'd make up for what he viewed as a sub-standard (no pun intended) patrol on his part.

The Norwegian Tanker Sarita.
Formerly the British Melania, sunk
by U-69 off the North West coast of
The American Manuela, sunk by U-69
the night after it sank the Sarita.


I had a lot fun playing The Hunters.  One thing I found myself doing while playing was making up a narrative about the random encounters rolled.  Making up something of a personality for the boat's Kommandant and what his reactions to certain events would be.  I was playing with a very aggressive (and perhaps not that smart) style of play, which involved taking a lot of risks.  In exchange for a lot of payoff in the form of bigger ships and a better chance of hitting them.  I decided that the Kommandant of U-69 should have a very gung-ho, aggressive personality to go along with this style of play.  Which led to him being something of a tyrant aboard his boat, when things didn't go the way he planned.  I think he's sort of what would happen if Niedermeyer from Animal House, tried to be A Father to His Men and kept failing at it.  10,800 tonnage on your first patrol is nothing to sneeze at.  Yet he couldn't just settle for it he wanted the Lincoln Ellsworth and couldn't get it.  (I really wanted to sink that tanker as well as the Manuela, 16,400 tons on U-69's first Patrol would've been awesome!)  A few more patrols like this one and Kapitan-leutnant Josef Fechner will earn himself a Knight's Cross by December of 1941.  As you can no doubt tell by my enthusiasm in writing The Hunters is intense.  I was sweating bullets whenever I rolled to see if the convoy's escort detected me.  I can't believe the amount of luck I had, if any of those rolls had failed I would've been a goner.  Anyways if you liked this post be sure to +1, comment and follow this Blog.  As always may the dice be ever in your favour and have a nice day.   

Thursday, 14 December 2017

When Hell Freezes Over - First Time Taking a Player's Role in Three Years

Now I've been interested in roleplaying a for about nine years now.  (I just turned 21 on December 13th).  About a third of that time was spent just familiarizing myself with the rules for D&D 4th Edition.  While another third of that time was spent playing with my regular D&D group in High School.  The remaining third was spent GMing various games for various short-lived groups.  Due to the fact that I'm the one most interested in Tabletop Roleplaying in my immediate area.  It often falls to me to fill the seat of Game Master.  A throne that sometimes becomes uncomfortable if sat on for too long.  What I'm talking about is GM burnout.  I've been running Mutants and Masterminds Single-Player game.  For the same player that I ran the Aki Cyberpunk 2020 Single-Player Campaign for.  Lately I'd been feeling uninspired, having to call off 3 to 4 different game sessions in as many weeks.  I finally decided to fess up and tell my player as such.  She did something that I never expected, she offered to run a campaign for me.  I used to think that the only time one of my players would assume the GM role, would be when Hell froze over.  (Given the type of weather up here in Canada it wouldn't surprise me if it has).

The Game

So of course I asked her what sort of game she wanted to run.  She asked what was a good system for beginner GMs.  What instantly sprang to mind was D&D, but that presented some problems.  As I'm not at all familiar with 5th Edition and despite my initial love for 4th Edition when I was 12.  It is unplayable.  I started thinking about what games had good generic systems.  Unfortunately I wasn't familiar enough with any of them at least not enough to coach a new GM through using them.  Finding myself up against a wall, I asked what sort of story she was thinking of running.  She said that she wanted to run a Battle Royale-esque game.  That's when it hit me.  Cyberpunk 2020, it was so simple just Stat + Skill + 1d10 = Success or Failure.  She was also already familiar with it.  So it was perfect.  We wasted no time and got right down to character creation a few hours later. 

Meet Tae Joon-Ho
We ended up rolling up Tae Joon-Ho an ethnic Korean and low-level Yakuza Amphetamine dealer.  His entire back story ended up coming out of Cyberpunk 2020's Lifepath System.  (The character kind of took on a life of it's own and the GM mentioned possibly changing the Battle Royale premise.  To have the story match the character rather than forcing the character to match the story).  

Some things you need to know about Joon-Ho.  He is all around friendly and charismatic guy (for a Yakuza anyway).  From a background full of poverty, saddled with a family debt.  He suffers from an Amphetamine addiction born from recreationally getting high on his own supply.  Has been accused of murder (of which he was acquitted a miracle in the Japanese legal system) and is overall something of a scumbag.  Which I personally think makes him a very interesting character to play.  You can find his character sheet here if you care to take a look.

This post is a little rough compared to my standard fare.  That's largely because I don't really know what the game is going to be about overall.  All I know is that we're going to be following this character the two of us created and that it's going to be set in Modern-Day Japan (rather than Cyberpunk Dystopic Japan).  I just thought I'd write a short post about it since I haven't written a post in quite some time.  As always be sure to +1, comment and follow.  Have a nice day and may you roll many crits.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Gotham City Blues - A Campaign for DC Adventures

One of two Batman comics I picked up while in
New York and the inspiration for this campaign.
So I'm going to begin this post, by telling you little story about myself.  During my last year of High School my Drama class (in association with the rest of Arts program) took a trip to New York City.  By and large I considered the whole trip to be something of a bust.  New York wasn't as spectacular as a life-time (at that point of 18 years) of consuming Pop Culture had made it out to be.  The monuments weren't particularly grand, the food was alright (but not world class) and the free periods were largely spent walking around in boredom, since I'm not the kind of person who shops in Times Square.  There were a number of saving graces though.  I managed to pick up a poster for a friend of mine (actually the friend who's the single player in most of my games), did a great Dustin Hoffman impression when someone else in the group stepped on my foot (Hey, I'm walking here!) and picked up a few purchases which I was quite happy with.  Two of which were DVD copies of Lonesome Dove and In the Streets of Laredo to replace my old VHS copies.  (It's amazing what you can find in an upstate New York Cracker Barrel).  The other two were a pair of Batman comic collections.  The famous A Death in the Family storyline (which has not aged well in my personal opinion) and Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty, the critically acclaimed 40 issue police procedural about Gotham's Major Crimes Unit (of which the book contains the first ten issues).

It was the latter that inspired this particular Campaign pitch.  Which goes something like this.  The characters are members of GCPD's Major Crimes Unit, or to be more specific that particular unit's Night shift.  Pretty much one of the toughest assignments a Gotham cop can get.  The unit is mostly comprised of fanatically honest cops who genuinely want to do good.  Or those that are in the dog-house with the higher ups.  It's a thankless job with hard hours and cops from other units dumping unsolved cases on you.  If that weren't enough pressure you're responsible for cases that deal with Bat's extensive rogue's gallery.  Other cops make drug-busts, you make drug-busts on dealers selling product made by the Scarecrow himself!  
Pretty much what you can look forward to being a cop in Major Crimes.
The Gotham City Blues campaign would use the DC Adventures ruleset.  Which is essentially Mutants and Masterminds, specifically themed towards running games set in the DC Comics Universe.  The players will all be detectives of the GCPD Major Crimes Unit, which deals with cases of a high profile.  High profile meaning those of a politically sensitive nature or involving quote un-quote Super-villains.  (What could be more politically sensitive than a cornucopia of crooks, that escape from Arkham Asylum every other week).  I'd be using a number of various outside resources from other games besides DC Adventures.  The Agents of Freedom sourcebook from Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition would prove to be an indispensable resource for this campaign.  As would this series of posts over at BlargedyBlarg by Moonsylver.  Which include a number of home-brew rules that I personally think would add a lot to Gotham City Blues.  His post on Nightly Patrols could work just as well for random encounters for Cops on patrol in Gotham (with a bit of tweaking for the setting and characters of course).

The Map that I would using for the campaign, which I believe is taken from
the Cataclysm storyline.  You can find it through a simple Google Image
search.  I found this particular one in Pinterest Post which allows you to
zoom in.
City Map and Points of Interest Matched up to Districts from MoonSylver's Patrol Tables

  • (29) Tricorner Yards - (10) Waterfront District
  • (28) Tricorner - (22) Suburbs, Working-Class
  • (56, 40) Chinatown - (7) Chinatown
  • (37, 38, 39, 42) Midtown - (16) Downtown
  • (43) Fashion District - (3) University District
  • (34, 35, 36) Upper West Side - (16) Downtown
  • (30, 31, 32) Robinson Park - (9) Midtown
  • (33) Chelsea - (3) University District
  • (18, 19) Coventry - (22) Suburbs, Working-Class
  • (45, 46, 53, 54) Upper East Side - (16) Downtown
  • (1, 7, 11, 12) Burnley - (12) The Bowery
  • (10) Rogers Yacht Basin - (5) Suburbs, Upper Class

  • (9) Amusement Mile - (14) Small Neighbouring Community
  • (2) Arkham Asylum - (17) Suburbs, Outskirts
  • (24, 25) Gotham International Airport & Gotham Light and Power - (21) Airport District

The players would make players of Power Level 5 with a total of 75 power points.  Most of which would be invested in skills, equipment and benefits, rather than being invested in Superpowers.  Usually the players would be assigned cases to work, being paired up in groups of two.  Representing different partnerships within the Night Shift, though every once in while.  Though every once in while, they'll be required to work in a group of four or more.  For when a case is to big or dangerous to be handled by just two people.  Every once in while they'll have a non-existent caseload, during which I'll run them through random encounters rolled on Moonsylver's tables.  I'll also try to focus a little on the personal lives of the characters, introducing love interests, families.  The sort of people that can be used against them.  Who knows?  I might even go the route of the Killing Joke and have one of the players' loved ones injured or kidnapped by a recurring Super-villain.  (Not the Joker though, that'd be too obvious.  Maybe one of the more obscure ones).

If you're familiar with Watchmen, that should tell you how I plan to handle
the PCs attempts to capture any of Gotham's various vigilantes.
Speaking of Super-villains the players will be interacting with NPCs that are very prominent in the comics.  Ranging from the head of the MCU Maggie Sawyer to the Batman himself.  One of the common complaints you hear about running games set in existing franchises.  Is that the players end up being overshadowed by the property's established characters or timelines.  It is a complaint that you often hear about with games set in the Star Wars Universe.  I personally am planning to go the route of having the players be able to have a major impact on the world.  A common criticism you hear from a lot of comic book fans, is why doesn't someone just kill the villains?  Rather than arresting them just to have them bust out of Arkham a few issues later.  The players are welcome to kill the villains, but they have to realize that there will be consequences to such actions.  Legal consequences, they may have to go through a hearing, be investigated by Internal Affairs, etc.  They may also decide that they want to arrest one of Gotham's many vigilantes.  (My personal money would be on, at least one player starting an effort to arrest Batman).  Of course there will be rules to this sort of this.  The players would not be able to use out-of-character knowledge to aid their investigation.  None of this "I have a sudden urge to explore the grounds of Wayne Manor" crap.  Also the players will have to realize that apprehension of any of these vigilantes will not be an easy task.  Across how many different mediums have the police tried to capture Batman?  Every single time he gives them a run for their money.  Beating the holy hell out of Swat Teams in various comics, movies, TV series and video games.  The point is that the players are going to have a hard time doing it.  Even if they manage to corner him, he may be suddenly saved by a deus ex machina.  As has often happened in the various storylines and media.  Of course I will make a point not to overuse it or to fudge rolls.  As a comic book reader I sometimes get tired when deus ex machina gets overused.  If the players do manage to corner a vigilante and I feel they've fought hard for a victory, then I am inclined to let their hard work pay off.

Anyways I feel that I've rambled on long enough about this.  So I'll get around to wrapping the whole thing up.  Overall I think this would be a fun experiment to run at some point.  When I have more players than I currently have at the present moment.  Honestly if it wasn't for the fact that I'd be the one running this campaign, I'd love to play as a PC in this.  I imagine I'd either make a grizzled veteran cop like Harvey Bullock or a guy who was previously pulled out of undercover work who has some issues to deal with like Mick Belkar from Hill Street Blues.  These are really more just rough notes I wrote down for later, I may never make use of them.  Like a lot of the stuff that I write on this blog, it's mostly here for the purposes of archiving.  To make sure I don't forget some of the great ideas for games that I've come up with over the years.  I always encourage my readers to take inspiration from anything I write to use in their own campaigns.  As that's actually how I've come up with a lot of great ideas of my own.  By reading what other RPG bloggers have written.  Anyway I said that I would wrap this up and I'm a man of my word.  Until next time, have a good day and may the dice be ever in your favour.  

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Campaign Pitch - Cyberpunk 2020: Something Rotten

The poster for the movie that inspired this
If you couldn't already tell by my profile picture, I'm a fan of Japanese film-maker Akira Kurosawa.  There are, however many of his films that I have yet to watch.  Among these is the film The Bad Sleep Well.  I was scrolling through a site I use for movie recommendations, when this one came up.  The blurb described it as "A combination of Hamlet with Film Noir tropes, set in the corporate world of post-war Japan."  Many know Kurosawa for his samurai films like Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress (which would later inspire Star Wars: A New Hope).  What many don't know is also made many films set during modern times (well as modern as the period he was living in at the time).  The Bad Sleep Well in particular was meant to be something of a critique of post-war corporate politicking.  It isn't Kurosawa's first time mixing Japanese culture with Shakespeare either.  He also did it first in Throne of Blood (1957) and later Ran (1985).  Both of which are based on MacBeth and King Lear respectively.

Alright I've got my film fanboying out of the way.  So what does this have to do with Cyberpunk?  Quite a lot actually.  It has been a while since I ran a cyberpunk game.  (My player got a little tired of playing dark horses and wanted to play a more heroic character.  Which I felt was incredibly out of place in cyberpunk.  So we've started a superhero campaign using Mutants and Masterminds instead).  So when I suddenly got inspired by this movie's blurb I decided to run with it.

One of the many arcologies that the company
owns all over the world.
The pitch goes something like this.  The player is a son/daughter of a corporate official who was killed in a recent corporate purge.  The corporation of course has shifted the blame towards a rival.  The player's character of course the knows the truth.  Or at least learns it at the outset of the campaign.  (A mysterious recording or document delivered anonymously to the player makes a great stand-in.  For the ghost that visits Hamlet).  Of course the corporation has stuck the character in a minor management position within the company.  Since they need to make it look like they're taking care of their own, after such a tragic loss.  (Again they're sticking with the story that it was a rival corporation).  With the truth as an impetus, the idea is for the character to use their position within the company to take revenge upon those that killed their family.  What better revenge than destroying the company from inside?  It will of course be incredibly dangerous.  Discovery of the player's role in sabotaging the company's enterprises will bring a traitor's death.  Not even medieval nations were as cruel in their punishment of treason.  (An idea that had crossed my mind.  Is having a sadistic head of security, who loves to make trophies out of traitors.  One idea was that he removes their brains and replaces them robot CPUs, turning them into the loyal servants they failed to be in life.  If you have a better suggestion, leave it in the comments.  I'd love to see what you come up with).  Also bringing down a corporation is no small feat, especially a large international one like this one.  If I didn't do my own world-building in my campaigns, Arasaka would be a perfect candidate.  It would require a lot of plotting and double-dealing on the part of the player.  It would also definitely be more of a globe-trotting campaign than I usually run.  (The idea of the having a session in Tokyo one week, then one in Dubai the next and then another still in Manhattan.  Is just too tempting to me).  In comparison I usually run campaigns that are more street-punk in nature.  Usually being confined to a small district of a sprawl.

Ideally this would be a solo campaign.  Best run with a player that's willing to be given a pre-generated character and then run with them.  Then again it could also be used for a group of four or five players as well.  One of whom plays the young executive out for revenge.  While the others play various members of his entourage.  Such as his bodyguard/head of security, his personal physician (a Medtech of some description), a Media consultant, a personal Fixer and perhaps a Netrunner to dig up more dirt on his rivals.  For such a campaign I'd probably consult this article by Richard Balmer over at his blog Vircades Project.  Of course such a game would require a lot of maturity on the part of the players.  To follow the lead of one player, of course I don't mean that they would be mindless henchmen to the Corporate player.  They could just as easily betray the central character.  Which would lead to an interest final arc of burning the candle at both ends.  Thematically a very cyberpunk concept.

Your family gave everything in the service of the company and they were
more than happy to take it from you.  Only problem is they took too much.
Like carrion birds they have grown fat off of your misery.  Now it's time
for this dog to have his day.  There will be a reckoning.  You'll take
everything they've built and bring it crashing down on their heads.
Something interesting I've noticed about this entire concept overall is this.  It goes against a lot of the principles that I've previously established in my style of GMing.  When I run Cyberpunk 2020 I generally don't go in with a fixed concept for a campaign in mind.  Letting the characters' Lifepaths decide what kind of campaign it going to be.  It also involves creating the characters that the player/s would play.  Something I don't typically do since I feel that character creation is one of the personal freedoms that is intrinsic to Tabletop RPGs.  It's just that I liked the idea of this story so much, that there were parts of it that emerged in defiance to my usual style.  Which I think creatively as a GM is a great thing.  You always have to be discovering new things about your style of gaming.  It needs to constantly evolve from game to game, in order to maintain an interesting variety.  Anyways I feel like I've rambled on long enough.  If you liked this post be sure to share, +1, comment and follow.  Until next time have a good day and may you roll many crits.            

Monday, 6 November 2017

Gaming Classic Literature: Long John Silver for Poison'd

The system I will be using.
One of my favourite characters in all of literature is Long John Silver.  The grand-daddy of all fictional pirates.  If Robert Louis Stevenson hadn't written Treasure Island without Silver as the villain.  I doubt that pirates like Jack Sparrow would ever have been put to screen.  So much of what we think of when we think of pirates is owed to Long John.  So to honour him I decided to stat him up in Vincent Baker's Poison'd.  Now this game by the creator of Apocalypse World and Dogs in the Vineyard has an air of controversy around it.  Largely due to an unfortunate incident, (the specifics of which you can find in this 1d4chan article about the game).  Despite that I like Poison'd, I find it to be the perfect mix of story-telling with brutal Pirate action.  Which I think works great for creating the villain of Treasure Island.  So without further ado, let's jump right into it.

1. Choosing Silver's Position

The book tells us that Silver served aboard the ship Walrus with the infamous Captain Flint.  Where Silver was Flint's quartermaster, meaning he was pretty much in charge of the ship's day to day running of the ship.  When it wasn't in combat.  Which makes sense since Silver is shown to be incredibly intelligent and forward-thinking, compared to his fellow pirates.  While most of Flint's old crew seems to have wasted all of their money on rum and women.  Reducing themselves to beggars, forcing them to take part in Silver's plan to go in search of Flint's treasure.  Silver has set himself up quite a nice for himself, running a Tavern known as the Spyglass and having saved his plunder in a bank in Bristol.  Making him a perfect candidate for the position.  The only reason I didn't make Silver a Cook is because in Poison'd the assumption is that the ship's cook poisoned the captain of the ship.  Forcing the characters to deal with the aftermath.  

2. Choosing Silver's Sins

Poison'd requires that the player choose a number of Sins that the character has committed.  Now the list isn't exactly in line with the actions of the characters in Stevenson's book.  Since it was written in the Victorian era of 1883, when what you could publish on paper was a lot more restricted in terms of content.  While Poison'd is written more for a modern adult audience.  It took some thinking but I was eventually able to come up with a list of Sins that fit Silver.  Murder and robbery were a must given his profession, I took both twice.  Since he appears to be incredibly unrepentant about the whole thing.  Since he plans the Mutiny aboard the Hispaniola, something tells me that this isn't his first rodeo.  The only other Sins that were fit with Silver's character Adultery and Blasphemy.  Didn't seem to fit, given that he is shown to be something of a pious man.  Admonishing his fellow pirates when they cut out a page of the Bible to make a Blackspot for him.  When they decide that he's no longer fit to be Captain.  Adultery didn't seem to fit either since Long John is married.  (A fact that is often left out of film adaptations of the book).  To an ex-slave by the name of Rebecca Silver, he trusts to close his bank account and sell his tavern.  After he leaves Bristol in search of Flint's treasure.  This leaves us with a total of Devil 5 and Soul 3.  This tells us that Silver is incredibly brave in the face of danger.  Yet can't stand to endure punishment or torture.  Which I believe is in keeping with his character in the book.  

3. What has Silver Suffered?
My primary reference for constructing his character
based on how he's described in the book.

Very little is known about Silver's past.  All we know is that he is a man of some education (when compared to his fellows) and that he's served with famous pirates such as Edward England and Captain Flint.  Chances are before he was a quartermaster he rose through the ranks as an ordinary seaman.  His going to sea might not have been of his own free will.  Many sailors of the era, including those that served aboard Navy, merchant and Pirate ships, were impressed.  Kidnapped from the streets of a local port and forced into service by a pressgang.  Under any of these commands he would have suffered beatings and lashings as punishment.  He has also suffered mutilation in the form of his missing left leg.  Which he claims to have lost in a broadside in service to the Royal Navy.  While I imagine the him losing it in service of King and Country is a load of BS, I do believe the part about losing it in a broadside.  If your going to lie about something you might as well include some true-ish details.  Finally Silver has suffered damnation at the hands of one Tom.  A crew member who told Silver he would go to the devil, after Silver's compatriots murdered Tom's friend Allan.  All this while Long John was trying to convince Tom to join in the mutiny against Captain Smollett.  This brings Silver's Brutality score up to 5, he's suffered quite a bit in his lifetime.  One could make the argument for adding Imprisonment to the list bringing Silver's Brutality up to 6.  That is if you counted being Marooned as being the same as being Imprisoned.  Since being Marooned is not an option for something your character could have suffered in the past.  Silver claimed to have served with the Pirate Captain Edward England, who was later mutinied against and marooned along with a few men who stood by his side.  Supposedly there was a one-legged maroonee who in one theory served as inspiration to the character of Silver.

4. Choosing Silver's Ambitions

Choosing Long John's ambitions is a simple matter, he's nothing if not ambitious.  The problem is that most of his ambitions aren't covered by the Poison'd rule system.  This presented something of a problem, because Ambition is the stat that covers deception and cunning.  Something that Silver has in spades, since he's able to make himself well-liked among the officers of the Hispaniola.  Despite the fact that he's planning to lead a mutiny against them upon reaching the island.  I did however manage to finagle a list of ambitions that resembles his ambitions.  First off he wants to be Captain, he's spent his life following the orders of various Captains and obviously wants to be one himself.  Otherwise why go to the trouble of leading the mutiny on the Hispaniola.  He also wishes to own land, the closest thing to owning a tavern I could find in the ruleset.  He wants to spit in the eye of the devil, to never have to pay for his lifetime of wicked deeds.  Finally Silver wants to be regarded highly by society.  That's why he goes after Flint's treasure to set himself up as a wealthy man.  It's his defining characteristic, everything he does in the book is in pursuit of being thought of highly by others.  Even the way he refers to himself as a "gentleman of fortune" is an obvious attempt to add an air of legitimacy, to what he does for a living.  Altogether it brings his Ambition up to 4, not as high as some of his others.  But a respectable score nonetheless.   

5. Choosing Silver's Armaments

Every pirate created under Poison'd comes equipped with a wicked long knife, a cutlass and a flintlock pistol.  So it's safe to assume that Long John Silver will be equipped with these as well.  The rules instruct the player to pick at most two more weapons.  While they can choose to not take anymore.  I don't think I've ever met a role-player that'd ever turn down extra weaponry though.  Silver is described as a tall man.  Israel "Another Step Mr. Hands and I'll blow your brains out" Hands says of him "A lion's nothing alongside of Long John!  I seen him grapple four and knock their heads together - him unarmed." he's obviously a capable unarmed fighter.  So combining that and his height, I decided to give him "Not a weapon, but your pirate's a great hulking brute with with fists like big stones."  I also decided to give him a brace of pistols since in some versions of the story he kills Tom with a pair of pistols.  Rather than throwing his crutch, breaking Tom's back and then slitting his throat with a knife.  This is also where I marked down that he was missing most of his left leg.  Altogether this brings his Profile stat up to 3.  It's not the maximum, but he could certainly hold his own in a fight.

My preferred screen portrayal of Silver, by Charlton Heston.
In the made-for-TV movie Treasure Island.  To his left is
Jim Hawkins as played by a young Christian Bale.
Long John "Barbecue" Silver, quartermaster
Sins: Murder x2, mutiny, robbery x2
Devil: 5
Soul: 3
Suffered: Beating, damnation, impressment, lashing, mutilation
Brutality: 5
Ambitions: to be captain, to own land, to spit in the eye of the devil, to be regarded highly by society.
Ambition: 4
Brinksmanship: 5
I go armed with knife, cutlass, a brace of pistols and I'm a hulking brute with fists like stones.  I am missing a leg, lost in a broadside.
Profile: 3

So there you have Silver's full stats.  Overall I'm quite happy with how he turned out.  It was a little harder to work with the Poison'd ruleset than I had initially thought it would be.  Long John Silver is pretty tame for a pirate as far as the rules are concerned.  I doubt he'd last long among the type of pirates you can create in Poison'd.  Which kind of works since near the end of the story his band of mutinous treasure-hunters in turn mutiny against him.  It might not be long before he'd end up on the wrong end of a sword or pistol.  If he didn't end up getting hung by some magistrate.  As always be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.  +1, reshare and follow for more from me.  As always have a good day and may the dice be ever in your favour.      

Friday, 3 November 2017

One-Shots I'll Probably Never Run - 1950s New Mexico

I've had an original Xbox for some years now.  A hand-me-down from my Aunt and Uncle, which I didn't really get into playing until the early years of High School.  The one game that I played relentlessly?  The third-person shooter parody of 1950s UFO films, Destroy All Humans.  It recently struck me that it'd be a good idea to run a one-shot for Call of Cthulhu, set during the 1950s.  Using the reference material found in the Atomic-Age Cthulhu.  So without further delay let's dive right into it.
The game that largely inspired this post.

The Pitch

It's 1950 in the sleepy little town of Totally-not-Roswell New Mexico.  Not much to do in this one horse town.  Except work, hang around the local diner and go to the drive-in.  Nothing exciting's happened around here since the Old West days.  

At least not until strange things start happening.  Starts out a local farmer's cattle are found cut to pieces.  A local hooligan's prized souped-up roadster is found crashed into a ditch not far from town.  With no sign of either the hooligan or the girl he was with.  Things only get stranger when a pair of FBI agents show up and start nosing around Totally-not-Roswell.  Next thing you know a bunch of Soldiers from the nearby base start camping outside of town.  Near where the occurrences have been taking place.  Claiming it's part of a "training exercise", something's not right about the whole thing.  One thing's for sure though this is the most excitement that's happened around here in decades.  Now if only someone could figure out what all the fuss was about.

Character Archetypes

A number of character types came to mind when I first thought of this idea. 
  • Western Lawman (Investigator's Companion Vol. 2): This could represent the town's small Sheriff called upon to investigate the disappearances and the cattle mutilations.  Given the location he may even still operate on horseback. 
  • Farmer/Rancher (Investigator's Companion Vol. 2): Could actually be owner of the cows that were mutilated.  Or just a rubber-necking neighbour who likes sticking his nose into other people's business more than he likes working.  
  • Reporter/Newspaper Editor (Investigator's Companion Vol. 2): Perhaps the sole employee of the one newspaper in town or an out-of-towner just passing through.  (Maybe his car broke down and he's stuck in Totally-not-Roswell until it's fixed).  He'd definitely take an interest in the strange goings-on around town.  
  • Student/Greaser/Teeny-Bopper: Bored teenager with nothing better to do.  The Student from the Investigator's Companion could represent the Nerd, or with the right hobby skills he could be a Jock trying to get a scholarship out of this one-horse town.  The Greaser from the Atomic Age sourcebook could be used to represent your local delinquent.  The Teeny-Bopper would be similar to the Flapper from the Investigator's Companion.  As both are primarily interested in the latest thing of their respective eras.  (Is it just me or is this starting to sound like an Archie comic?)  Anyone of these Occupations could be used to represent the bored teenager, who gets caught up snooping where they shouldn't. 
As an afterthought in case any of these characters served during World War Two.  I would use the rules from the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion to represent Investigators' experience in WW1.  All you would really have to do is get rid of some choices that wouldn't logically be available during WW2. 


So there you have it a Pitch for a one-shot set during the 1950s in New Mexico.  Based largely on the UFO films of the same era.  I personally think that the setting has some potential for an exciting game of Call of Cthulhu.  Let me know what you think in the comments below, don't forget to +1, reshare and follow.  As always may the dice be ever in your favour and have a nice day.