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Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2021 2:02 am
  

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Megaversal® Ambassador

Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:25 pm
Posts: 1657
Location: Reno, Nevada
This is my current campaign. It's hosted on Roll20 and focuses on a small town in Central Arkansas. I didn't use the Tomorrow Legion stuff at all. Please feel free to offer comments, suggestions, and feedback as you wish.

Players
Lia - Eugenia Green
Matt - Zero Day
Shawn - Cowboys

GM Commentary
Tyrell was unavailable due to a Saturday shift at his job. I wrote a quick, single session linear adventure about two hours before the game began that would allow the three available players to utilize their skills and abilities. I intend to run this campaign as a player-directed sandbox, so a point to point story like this isn't supposed to be the norm.

I ran things in a fairly straightforward manner up to the point that the group reached Ft. Eldorado. I couldn't predict exactly how they would attempt to extract Howard Johnson or what NPCs they would need to interact with, but I am fairly comfortable improvising this sort of thing. When circumstances left things in question, I injected chance by rolling a single ten-sided die. Something bad would happen on a one, while something very good would happen on a ten. Two ones came up, no tens. This isn't an official Savage Worlds mechanic, but I think it worked well.

I handled everything in theater of the mind. If I had prepared the adventure a bit earlier, I could have set up maps for the ambush encounter, the street map outside the detention center, and the interior of the detention center. Even without them, it played out smoothly. Roll20's interface allows me to throw up a rule reference handout for everyone conveniently, which I enjoy and think will make using the more specialized subsystems easier.

Overall I think it was a successful session that gave everyone a chance to see how the mechanics of the game work and try out different elements of their character. If there's anything that was not satisfactory for anyone, I hope they will take the opportunity to make some revisions to their character.

Shawn and I did have a small disagreement regarding feedback on whether the plan arrived at by the group was thorough or flawed. I will not be offering such feedback without an appropriate die roll. If you would like that degree of oversight, I recommend investing in the Battle skill.

Session 1 Recap
The party is called to The Caged Bird by Felicia Howard to discuss a job. Howard Johnson, an associate of hers has been detained by the Coalition in Ft. El Dorado. She explains that her organization can't be directly connected to his extraction, but it is necessary that he not be transferred to Chi Town for interrogation. She offers the party 50K credits per person if they bring Howard to her. She also loans them a Mountaineer ATV to get the party down to Ft. El Dorado, with the promise that they can keep the vehicle if they are successful. The party naturally accepts because this is a linear adventure and experienced players can recognize a railroad when they see one. I probably could have skipped the quest giving scene entirely, but I wanted to give the players the chance to negotiate and ask questions.

Zero Day takes the wheel, he is the only character with the Drive skill which may be an oversite that another player may wish to correct. The drive down to Ft. El Dorado is expected to take about six hours in that it's through some rough terrain. This is an error on my part. I should have asked if they wanted to take the trade route to save time, but I was focused on the planned combat encounter. They may have elected to go through the rough terrain anyway to avoid being observed.

The party discovers that their route has been blocked by felled trees. It's a very obvious attempt at an ambush and rather than take the bait, they establish an alternate route that will take them an hour out of their way and reverse course. A pair of brodkil break cover and open fire on the vehicle with laser rifles, which are insufficient to penetrate its MDC armor. Cowboys pops out of the cupola and eliminates both brodkil with a single magically enhanced shot from his sniper rifle. Assuming that there are more brodkil hiding in the woods, the party elects to leave the scene rather than search the bodies. I had expected this to be a longer combat encounter, but I always approve of players avoiding a fight rather than engaging in true murderhoboism.

Arriving at Ft. El Dorado, the party observes the shantytown and bazaar outside the main gate. This is Little Sorcerytown, a place I made up that falls into a legal gray area. Canonically, the use of magic powers is forbidden in Ft. El Dorado, but it seemed reasonable to me that it would be permitted outside the walls of the city and these kinds of shantytowns are described elsewhere, such as the Chi Town 'Burbs. It also gave me an excuse to explain these conditions, as did the interaction with the gate guard.

After passing through the gate, the party does a drive by of the detention building. They observe that Ft. El Dorado is densely packed and bustling with activity. The Ultra Tech Incorporated juicer clinic is located on the same street as the detention facility. The party sees a truckload of volunteers arriving there before proceeding on to a saloon known to Cowboys that has rooms for rent. I failed to actually charge the party for their stay there, but the cost would have been negligible probably less than a thousand credits for the three or four days that they stayed.

After settling in, the group seeks out the means to observe the interior of the detention center. Zero Day finds a junk shop to acquire the parts necessary to set up a makeshift monitor patch to invade the CCTV system. Eugenia and Cowboys visit Little Sorcerytown so she can connect with the local magic-user community in the hope that they have had people inside the detention center already. These interactions gave us the opportunity to try out the Social Conflict rules for haggling over the price of the parts and for Lia to take advantage of her I Know a Guy edge.

The mechanics for I Know a Guy basically grant a character a variable version of Connections related to any aspect of their identity/concept. So in this case Eugenia being a Ley Line Walker allows her to connect to the local magical community just by finding someone in it to talk to. Her innate ability to use detect arcana makes this pretty easy. Wandering the many stalls in the bazaar offering charms and potions, she and Cowboys find one that is selling genuine magic items; among them a small golden amulet engraved with Atlantean script. They converse briefly with the vendor, a d-bee that they later learn calls himself Lucius, wearing the mask and breathing apparatus popular with Ley Line Walkers. Cowboys purchases the amulet, which grants the wearer an additional reserve of five PPE, to smooth over an introduction. Lucius casts a spell and asks them to wait. After twenty minutes, a robed and hooded woman arrives and asks them to come with her.

The woman leads them deeper into the shanty town and brings them inside her hut. There she draws back the hood of her cloak revealing that she is an albino and introduces herself as Shanira. Shanira shows them a hand-drawn diagram of the interior of the detention center and shares that it is possible to bribe one of the guards to get someone out.

Returning to the room, the party shares what they've learned. Zero Day's hacking into the CCTV system shows them the exact layout of the detention center, where the guards are located, and allows them to see that there are three prisoners; Howard Johnson, a dogboy, and a very large reptilian d-bee. Cowboys follows up with the corrupt guard the following day to explore the possibility of buying a solution to the puzzle. The guard discloses that for a substantial bribe he can arrange for the release of either of the other two prisoners, both of whom are sentenced to death. Arranging for the release of Johnson is more complicated though because he is awaiting transfer to Chi Town. He tells Cowboys that it can be done for 300K.

Ruling out that course of action, the party brainstorms possible options for extracting Johnson using their available resources. Plans include teleporting him out of the cell while replacing him with a magical illusion, looping the CCTV feed to reduce guard response, using illusion to impersonate deadboys and take custody of him, acquire city guard uniforms and insert prisoner transfer orders, use illusions to impersonate city guards and take custody of the prisoner with fake interrogation orders. Cowboys takes a day to explore the possibility of acquiring uniforms, but discovers that the body armor worn by guards is too expensive.

With that option removed, the group decides to have Zero Day hack into the computer system and insert orders for Johnson to be turned over to city guards for interrogation. They then use illusions to make their ATV look like a guard transport and to make Cowboys and Zero Day look like guards. With the orders in the system and the illusions being successful, the plan goes off without a hitch. The only tension in the scene comes from the limited amount of time that they can sustain their illusions and whether or not they are observed changing from one appearance to another.

The group is stopped on the way out of the city and questioned regarding their vehicle. Someone did observe it changing, but Cowboys bluffs his way through. The drive back to Hot Springs is uneventful and Felicia delivers the promised payment. In addition to the money, the truck, and an improved relationship with the local black marketeer, everyone was awarded an Advance.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 2:39 pm
  

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Megaversal® Ambassador

Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:25 pm
Posts: 1657
Location: Reno, Nevada
Players
Lia - Eugenia Green
Matt - Zero Day
Shawn - Cowboys
Tyrell - Echo

GM Commentary
Our pregame discussion revolved around some of Tyrell's character background. He expected that I might shoot some of his ideas down, but honestly Rifts is the game where almost anything goes and I try to take that to heart when I can. As long as a player avoids negating the work I've done on the local setting or establishing immediate goals that are in some way going to dominate the narrative, I'm good.

I had no specific plan for this session. I want the players to take the wheel, and for the most part I was not disappointed. We spent about three hours engaged in role-play and exposition. The players interacted with half a dozen NPCs as we discussed the characters activities during a month of downtime and some relevant setting elements. It was a bit meandering, but that's completely normal for this kind of game and I think it was mostly good for everyone.

Some of the pertinent setting information that we went over were how common it is for people to know about Atlantis, what the process of applying magic tattoos is like, the social standing of mutant animals in the Coalition, relative technology levels and literacy in the area, the general affiliation of Dweomer and its population of demons and dragons, the size of dragons. The details regarding Dweomer are particularly important because Shawn included training there in his character's background.

On the downside, this session exposed some significant lack of system fluency on my part and that of the players. It was a good learning opportunity, though I am concerned that it was more frustrating and painful than educational for the players. Savage Worlds mechanics are fairly simple, though the application of raises to damage is a bit awkward in implementation.

Session 2 Recap
We opened the session with Savage Worlds' Interludes to cover the month of downtime. This is an interesting subsystem for travel, backstory, and downtime that applies a little structure to filling in details based on the suit of a drawn card. Players earn a bennie (which may be spent during play for rerolls and damage negation) for participating. Those became valuable later on. I think it's a useful tool, as well as a good warmup exercise, and I intend to use it pretty frequently moving forward.

I didn't make note of what cards were dealt for the downtime Interludes. I'll have to do that in the future just for my recap. Lia decided that Eugenia would spend the month studying with her mentor, a Ley Line Walker named Carol Saskin, learning about agriculture and how to play the harmonica. This added a connection to the town in the form of the mentor, which may prove valuable later. Shawn had Cowboys visit the neighboring kingdom of the Malvern Regency and investigate the possibility of overthrowing the current regent to install one more friendly toward unifying the region in resistance to the Coalition. That could have larger consequences should he attempt to pursue regime change or if the Malverns take notice of his activities. Tyrell's had Echo spend the month in introspective self-exploration and studying tactics with the sheriff and deputy. This established some connections with the local law enforcement and sets up the character to buy the Battle skill. Matt had Zero Day practice his Research skill and establish a working relationship with Rynn, the Techno-Wizard. Again, setting up a useful connection for later.

As an additional event that occurred during downtime, Cowboys had an incident at The Caged Bird where a regular patron, Osiris Voyager, noticed the Atlantean amulet that he acquired in Ft. El Dorado and panicked. The heavily tattooed man fled from the bar, exhibiting superhuman strength as he flung other patrons out of his way. After a brief conversation with Killian Ortolan, the proprietor, Cowboys learns that Voyager claims to be an escaped slave from Atlantis.

After learning that the people most likely to have pre-Cataclysm maps of the area are the current and the former mayors of Hot Springs from Rynn, Zero Day visits the home of Archibald Blood. The former mayor's home is stately and has many amenities that are rare in Hot Springs. This brings to Zero Days mind fragments of memories. He is greeted by the former mayor's personal secretary (I initially described them as butler, but that's not how the interaction ended up going) who inquires regarding Zero Day's business with Mr. Blood and makes an appointment for the coming Wednesday.

At the Caged Bird, Echo attempts to feel out Killian Ortolan's feelings toward the Coalition and whether the bar owner would be receptive to his recruiting resistance fighters there. The Caged Bird welcomes anyone, and the barroom has a very diverse assortment of patrons, so it could be a good place to meet people that share the mutant cat's desire to bring down the Coalition. Ortolan is an obvious mutant himself, with fuchsia skin, white hair, and pupilless white eyes. However, he expresses some offense at Echo's line of questioning and shares that he is actually from Chi Town. Ortolan would like to return to a larger city, but due to some legal issues he finds himself in Hot Springs for the foreseeable future. Echo let the matter drop.

Zero Day and Cowboys join Echo at the bar where they observe a man in a white suit with a red shirt and shoes chatting with Felicia Howard, the black marketeer. After the man departs, Cowboys approaches her to inquire about the man. Felicia initially rebuffs him, insisting that she wants to keep their relationship professional. Cowboys is exceptionally persuasive though and cajoles her into sharing that the man is Egbert Low, an emissary from the Federation of Magic. Low has offered her organization a consignment of valuable magical items. This part of a larger effort to build a relationship with Hot Springs. Egbert is staying at The Dark Pool, a bath house that draws water from one of the magical springs.

Eugenia is staying with Carol Saskin, who is visited by Egbert Low. He and Carol are cordial and friendly. Their conversation implies that they've known each other quite a while and that Carol has some connection to the Federation. Eugenia shares that she is from Lazlo, which draws a small amount of curiosity from Egbert.

After deciding that a representative of the Federation of Magic would be interesting to talk with, Cowboys, Echo, and Zero Day head to the bathhouse to meet him. On their way, they are jumped by two juicers (extras) and a mega-juicer (wild-card). Zero Day spotted them, spoiling the ambush. The combat lasted about six rounds as the juicers attempted to use their vibro-swords to murder our heroes. It was a little rough mechanically as we're still feeling out the rules. Two PCs died when the mega juicer combusted. I declared that the fight didn't actually happen since I think it's too early to lose player characters. We'll chalk it up to learning the game and maybe have a do-over at some point.

I learned a few useful things from the combat. Vibro-weapons are brutal in that they're megadamage attacks which will mostly be made against non-megadamage targets, provoking a roll on the Injury table per the Gritty Damage setting rule. I may just throw Gritty Damage out; it adds another thing to keep track of and leads to permanent injures that may severely compromise a character. The multiple action rules are not conveniently built into Roll20, which requires a bit of juggling small modifiers. There's a workaround using the Rate of Fire field which we may want to try. Worse perhaps, the Frenzy Edge isn't built in, making it awkward to use. Since Improved Frenzy is the means by which the game offsets multiple action penalties for juicers and some other speedy characters, I'll have to work out a better way to use it. Bennies are essential for characters to survive in this game and I will have to be more liberal in distributing them.

Everyone was awarded an advance. I encouraged the players to adjust their characters with what they learned. Shawn is considering switching to a more combative character because the fight was much tougher than he thought combats in this game would be. I could also try to take it down a notch, though juicers really are far from the worst thing that's been published for Savage Rifts. Another option would be to acquire a bodyguard NPC for his current character.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:22 pm
  

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Megaversal® Ambassador

Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:25 pm
Posts: 1657
Location: Reno, Nevada
Players
Lia - Eugenia Green
Matt - Zero Day
Shawn - Jäger
Tyrell - Echo

GM Commentary
This week PEG added compendium support for SWADE to Roll20, including a few useful tables and macro features. I had already gone to the effort of creating rule handouts for the entire core rules, which will continue to be useful when I need to show something specific to the players, but the compendium's searchability is very nice to have. Hopefully this will help the Roll20 development community to integrate more Edges into the game seamlessly too and new functionality will be added as we move forward.

Most of my prep for the week focused on writing some detailed notes for a story based on Matt's character background. While I could easily convert that into a nice linear story that the group could run through, I much prefer to break it up with other plot threads that engage the rest of the group individually and interweave as much as I can. I still need to finish going through the existing list of NPCs to explore motivations and goals for them, which will help add depth to them while convoluting the story of the player characters in some exciting ways.

Pregame conversation was mostly social this week, which was nice. We went over the new functions available for the game through Roll20. Then we briefly touched on the subject of salvage and repairing damaged weapons. We'll need to go into a bit more detail on that at some point. Essentially though, I want to play it as a damaged weapon is more or less irreparable. Multiple damaged weapons can be stripped for parts that Zero Day can use to McGuyver something useful from, or that he can spend a Dramatic Action building a permanent device out of over the course of several days. Later in the session we discussed forms of long distance communication, how they can be intercepted, and common types of cypher applied to thwart those efforts.

Shawn did elect to replace Cowboys with a more melee oriented character. The character is loosely based on one from the Girl Genius comic and its backstory for it will be a little more challenging to work into the story, but I'm confident that I can make it happen. We had to discuss the character's appearance and mannerisms a little bit since those deviated from the original.

Session 3 Recap
While I had initially intended to just retcon out the entire attempted murder, I ultimately just changed it to have the heroes prevail. Cowboys exited the scene rather than being killed and may reappear at a later date. That did prompt a brief discussion about players running multiple characters, which is fairly normal during a combat for Savage Worlds.

After defeating their assailants (presumably the tide was turned by Jäger), the team searched the intact bodies and discovered that both juicers carried a photo of Echo and one had a coaster from a bar in Ft. El Dorado on him. Both had credit sticks that were later determined to have 35K credits each. The third body had been incinerated beyond recognition and everything on it reduced to so much slag and junk.

The team, having determined that splitting up is a bad idea, then determined to notify the sheriff of the assault. On their way to the jail, the met him and his deputy. Xenophon questions the player characters briefly while Delta uses her mutant canine senses to examine them and the scene. The sheriff seems to accept that they were not at fault and tells them that he knows where to find them if he has any other questions.

The team then proceeds on to the Dark Pool, continuing their efforts to learn more about Egbert Low. Arriving in short order, Eugenia observes the persistent low-level magical aura of the place. This is part of the enchanted waters that feed the baths here. The team takes rooms and arranges for a bath, sending word to Egbert Low that they wish to meet. Two tanks of hot spring water and a fountain fed by a cold spring are in the room and the team is provided icewater and fruit. When Low arrives wearing nothing more than a robe, he is accompanied by a petite young woman in a business suit that does not speak. He introduces her as his associate, Miss Glass. She removes his robe and stands completely unmoving next to the fountain.

Low is heavily tattooed with mystical symbols and circles that Eugenia recognizes as intended to protect him. She is not specifically familiar with this magical tradition, but the symbols are familiar enough. She considers casting speak language but decides that her casting a spell might not be appreciated. In spite of his affiliation with the Federation of Magic and the tattoos, Eugenia does not perceive anything magical about either Egbert Low or his associate.

After getting into the bath, Low inquires regarding their business with him. Echo comes quickly to the point and asks if the Federation might be able to provide him with intelligence on Coalition troop dispositions and movements in the area. Egbert confirms that this is something that can be done, for quid pro quo; though he does not offer any specific information at this time and does not stipulate what he will expect in return. Jäger inquires whether Egbert is familiar with the Heterodyne, and isn't surprised to find out that he doesn't. Low suggests that they use Felicia Howard as their go-between when Echo has an operation that he needs intel for. The black marketeer will be able to reach him no matter where his business takes him.

Having concluded their negotiations for now, Egbert spends the remainder of the evening regaling the team with tales of the Magic Zone and the Federation. He is a very charming person and a good time is had by all. After the Federation envoy bids them good night, Echo notices that not only has Miss Glass not uttered a word or moved a muscle in a couple hours, she does not appear to have sweat in the incredibly hot and humid room and her clothes are as perfectly pressed as when she entered.

Everyone was awarded an advance.

_________________
Contact me if you're looking for games in Reno, Nevada.
Resources


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