Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Atomic Robo RPG Character Generation Worksheet

Last year, I ran a few sessions of Atomic Robo - The Roleplaying Game. In the writeup of the first session, I mentioned and posted a link to an ARRPG character generation worksheet I put together.

Since it got lost in the text, I'm reposting it here: Atomic Robo Character Generation Worksheet

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dystopian Universe RPG Beta Playtest - Organization and Character Generation

Towards the end of July, Evil Hat Productions put out a call for playtesters to try out the Beta version of The Dystopian Universe Roleplaying Game. It's a modified version of the Fate system set in the same world as Indie Boards & Cards' games CoupThe Resistance, and One Night Revolution. Long-time gaming friend Marty got accepted into the beta playtest and asked fellow podcaster Alex, my friend Adam, and myself to participate.

So, on August 28, we got together over Roll20 (another first for us) and started building out Paris Nouveau and our characters within it.

Although we did character generation first, I'm going to show the steps in reverse order as, in hindsight, that makes the most sense. Particularly since building the Government before La Resistance gives them something to resist against.

The Government!
Taking into account that every Citoyen is plugged into Augmented or Virtual Reality (AR or VR) and is doing pattern matching for the Government, it makes sense that they'd try to convince their drones that servitude leads to a better AR/VR experience. Therefore:

Slogan: Paris Nouveau: A Better Reality for Every Citoyen

We decided that there's just not enough resources (food, water, living space, etc.) for the citizenry, therefore, it's best to let the weak die (or kill them outright for the smallest infraction). Since all the wastewater gets recycled, it makes sense to also recycle the biomass. Therefore, deceased Citoyens are reprocessed into Artificial Protein Extract (APE).

Scandal: APE is People!

Trying to limit The Government's ability to mess with us directly, we chose:
Corporate: Investing in Infrastructure - During the debrief, if you have any leftover fate points, you can put up to 2 of them in your bank.

However, Marty made sure he could mess with us, so he chose:
Security: Surveillance Optimization -  You start every scene with +2 blowback.

La Resistance!
Adam decided he wanted to play the Malcontent and named her Coquin. Since Coquin became the de-facto leader of our little party, we let him choose our Manifesto. He simply chose to borrow from events happening in Real Life™.

Manifesto: Make Paris Nouveau Great Again!

Since Adam's Malcontent will have the social skills covered and my Cleaner will have the combat skills covered, we wanted to give Alex's Hacker, Raphael, a place to shine.

Weakness: Plagued by Compromised Communications

Trying to give Coquin a leg up, we chose the branch of the tree that would get the people behind her:
Support: Hearts and Minds - Whenever you create a prep advantage with Maneuver, it gets 2 additional boosts.

I tried to talk Adam and Alex into going further down the Support branch, but they decided having access to gear and supplies was more important. They chose:
Resources: Hijacked Shipments - With a prep action, you can requisition equipment with a total cost of 1 or lower.

Viktor Le Nettoyeur (Viktor The Cleaner)
It should come as no surprise that I'm a big fan of Luc Besson's films and Jean Reno's acting. So, when presented with the opportunity to play a French Cleaner, of course I jumped at the chance! I even went so far as to call him Viktor, although I changed the name slightly and chose Dolph Lundgren as his stand-in (sorry Jean!) - I can't be TOO obvious...

With my archetype chosen (and thus my social class), I printed out the provided playsheet and started filling it in.

The playsheet provides questions that prompt you to generate your aspects. Here are mine:

The mission comes first.
I am too efficient for the general good.
Coquin and I are of like minds.
The Ambassador is too far reaching.
Enough Citoyens have paid the Government's price.

In this variation of Fate, they've distilled your abilities or skills down into four Means, similar to Approaches from Fate Accelerated. I wanted Viktor to obviously be capable of taking someone out and to be able to watch from the shadows, therefore I chose:

Fight: +3, Manipulate: +1, Maneuver +2, Observe +2

Once again, the playsheet provides a list of stunts; I just had to pick them. I ended up with:
Great Wealth (Default) - The cost of equipment that I buy is 1 lower than usual, to a minimum of 1.
Stealth Augmentations - I can spend a fate point to disappear from a scene. I can show up during a later exchange in a different scene.
Kill Without Hesitation - When I deal physical harm, I can give the GM 1 blowback to force my opponent to mark an additional condition, provided my intent is to kill.
Slippery - I get +2 to avoid detection with Maneuver.
By choosing four stunts, I had to reduce my Refresh (starting Fate points) by one.

Backstory (Extra Credit):
Coquin is making a name for herself in La Resistance. So much so, that her name has come to the Government's attention. As such, they have decided to put Viktor close to her. Providing a cleaner to La Resistance is quite a bit of overkill (literally), but that's what La Resistance is looking for and The Government trusts Viktor to get the job done.

Little does the Government know, but Viktor is starting to feel the pressure of being their favorite precision tool. Particularly since target selection has widened from well-known dissidents to faceless rabble-rousers.

Being this close to Coquin, Viktor realizes her words and his feelings are not so very different at all. Late night discussions with Coquin huddled around gas lanterns in La Cave have grown longer. It wouldn't take much to push Viktor's alignment needle over to that of La Resistance.

That does it for organization and character generation! We're now ready to play!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Gen Con 2016 Recap

I'll give this year's Gen Con, "The Best Four Days in Gaming™," a solid 'Good Time.' But, for me, it was also strange.

It didn't feel quite like Gen Cons of years past. It could have been that we were screwed by both the housing and event lotteries (luckily, we got housing sorted out). It could have been that this was the first year I actually Game Mastered a couple of roleplaying sessions (I've done so at other cons, just not THE Con). It could have been that I didn't do nearly the miniature painting I've done in previous years.
Will Call line out the door and around the block, but we get our own Grand Ballroom?
Most notably, attendance exploded again, but seminars weren't well attended—the prevailing theory is that gaming culture is more accepting and expanding, but there is now so much more to do, that some events suffer. Likewise, the exhibit hall was expanded by about a third, but several vendors seemed to be absent (or maybe I couldn't find them?).

Mmmmm... Ham, turkey, bacon,
cheese and wasabi on a pretzel bun...
Ten of us arrived in Indianapolis early Wednesday afternoon. After checking into the hotel and taking care of parking, we went to stand in the Will Call line to get our badges. In years past, the line wound its way through a half or three-quarters of the Indiana Convention Center. This year, we joined the line just outside the Northwest doors. (See the picture above, taken as we were returning to the hotel...)

To avoid the restaurant wait we had last year, we hit up the food trucks. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a Greedo sandwich from Der Pretzel Wagen!

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and staked out a game room. After checking with hotel management, we ended up with a whole Grand Ballroom to ourselves. Weird...

Shortly after, since I was running two sessions of Numenera for Monte Cook Games, I had to step out to attend the Volunteer Game Masters meeting. There I picked up my MCG shirt and badge holder, the adventure book containing the games we were running, and a nice Cypher System portfolio. Afterwards, there was a meet-and-greet with the designers and staff of Monte Cook Games. I didn't stay long as I wanted to get back to spending time with friends I hadn't seen in a while, so back to the Grand Ballroom I went.

By that time, Marty, Alex, and Jason from Play The Game Podcast joined us. Since there was a request to play Fiasco, Andy, the three Fiasco virgins (Brendan, DJ, and Shashank), and I secured a table and started the setup.  We all agreed to run Marty's and my playset, The Depot. I finally got a chance to try it outside of a playtesting capacity! I ended up the crime lord, Roscoe Biggins, of this frozen micro-community. DJ and Andy ended up as call girls, Betty Sue and "Diamond" Johnson, in my employ. Shashank was the town sheriff, Morgan Truman Wainwright, with a drug addiction - that I was providing for. And Brendan was the town deputy, Brant McGunter, who had some weird relationship with Diamond. Check out the wonderful mess we ended up with:
A picture is worth a thousand... oh, whatever.
Since I didn't have any speed painting to do yet, I thought I'd participate in the Exhibit Hall Opening Ceremonies, which is really just waiting for the doors to open and riding the waves of bodies surging into the hall. I made a bee line for the Infinity/Warsenal booth to pick up the Gen Con 2016 Bundle, which includes the Operation: Red Veil box set, Miyamoto Musashi (a beautiful two miniature set), and the Gen Con exclusive Unknown Ranger. While I was waiting in line, I couldn't take my eyes off Warsenal's Kum Garage. I ended up circling back and picking that up later.

At 1:00, I was able to fill a seat in the Impact! Miniatures Speed Painting event. I was hoping we'd paint an urban warrior or something, but we were given a Chibi Evil Fighter to paint. Chibi's not my thing, so my heart wasn't in it. Somewhere during that session, Mike arrived and acted as my own private heckler. Following that round, at 2:00,  Mike and I both secured seats for the Reaper Miniatures Speed paint. We were given Salim Ghadafar to paint—a really cool miniature with a lot of detail. I like what I did with it, but apparently I didn't have enough contrast.

Afterwards, Mike and I attempted another run at the hall. The one takeaway from that run was that we came across the Role 4 Initiative booth. They were selling decent quality, slightly larger, EASIER TO READ polyhedral dice at $3 a set with a buy-three-get-one-free deal. Mike jumped at the deal. If I wasn't already swimming in dice, I would have too.

We quickly stopped at the Serendipity Mobile Catering truck to pick up a Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese with Truffle Fries and a side of crab cake. Yum!

After devouring dinner, Mike and I parted ways as I was heading to Evil Hat's State of the Hat panel, ran by Sean Nittner and Chris Hanrahan.
7 new books and 3 ENnie nominees! That's 10 products.
This will become important later.
As I had mentioned, event attendance was off. Previous years, the room was mostly full. This year, there were maybe seven of us in the audience. These were the tweets I sent during the panel:
  • Lenny Balsera is now Fate Line Developer for Evil Hat?!?
  • Kaiju Incorporated card game and RPG to be released at the same time. First half of next year?
  • Dresden Files Accelerated and Cooperative Card Game second half of next year?
  • A bunch of Fate Toolkits and Worlds of Adventure in the pipe.
If you are looking for a more complete list of topics covered, Sean Nittner posted his notes for that panel in the comments of this discussion: https://plus.google.com/+ScottAcker/posts/bNAxdPBuEG7

At the beginning of the panel, they handed out some nice swag: Spirit of the Century patches and Fate bookmarks. At the end, Sean pulled an Oprah Winfrey and told us to check the back of the patches. Each patch had a number written on it. I was number 1! Sean then called us up in order and allowed us to pick and keep from the ten products (eleven if you count the Fate Dice). I chose War of Ashes - Fate of Agaptus as it's gorgeous and I didn't already own it. If you're keeping score, that also means a few items still went home with Chris and Sean.

From there, I ran back to the hotel to collect my thoughts and my Numenera gear to be ready to GM my first session of Skein of the Blackbone Bride for Monte Cook Games. It's important to note that in all my um-teen years of going to Gen Con, this was the first time I was running a role-playing game. I've game mastered games at other cons to varying success, but this is the Big League. Fortunately, all my prep work, including subjecting the regular Friday night gaming group to a Numenera side-track, paid off. I knew the adventure well, was able to keep pacing up, and the players completed the session with a win and with just a bit of time to spare. The game ended with applause! Definitely the highlight of the con for me!

After basking in the glow, I returned my gear back to the room and joined the rest of the crew back in the Grand Ballroom (no longer the only table there) to round out the evening with some quick games.

I ended up filling in for Chad as they were playing Entropy. Blurb from the website: "Entropy is a fast-paced competitive card game of risk and deception, combining simultaneous action selection mechanics with order resolution." It's a very pretty game, particularly when you can piece together all four of your fractured Realities, which I did, to win the game. Unfortunately, the ease of understanding the rules is mired in setting-specific jargon.

We finished out the night playing I Hate Zombies, created by Board Game Geek and published by Steve Jackson Games. Players alternate taking the role of zombie or survivor and the zombies take turns attacking the survivors. Combat is resolved with rock-paper-scissors! Each survivor card has a special ability perk that gives them a chance against the zombies, but, out of three games, the zombies never lost.

The next morning, I got up early to try to get into the 10:00 Painting with Angel Giraldez class as I was unable to score any of them during event registration. Unfortunately for me, all ticket-holders arrived.

So, I decided to return to the Exhibit hall to continue the crawl through the aisles. This year, Upper Deck Entertainment released their deck-building game, Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China. I did not check it out, but I couldn't pass up snapping a picture of the Pork Chop Express!
"Like I told my last wife, I said, 'Honey, I never drive faster than I can see. Besides that, it's all in the reflexes.'"

At 2:00, I headed back to the Miniature Hobby Events area as I had an actual Reaper Speed Painting ticket. We were given Vonsalay, the Half Orc Wizard to paint. Since she had a flowy gown on, I thought I'd try an experiment with translucency, and try to show a little leg through the gown. The experiment started out fine, but I guess I put too many 'glazes' on and the detail was lost. The judge gave it about a two second glance.

From there, it was off to Game Design 101 with Mike Pondsmith, of Cyberpunk 2020 and R. Talsorian Games fame and game designer (and DJ and comedian) Ryan Miller. I didn't get much out of the panel, but it was nice to see Mike Pondsmith back on the speaking circuit.

The early morning was getting to me, so I went back to the hotel for a quick nap before prepping myelf for my second session running Skein of the Blackbone Bride. This session didn't go as well as the first. The pacing wasn't as tight and the PCs had a rough time getting through the big boss battle at the end. I'm going to chalk it up to the following: I didn't read the players' frustration early enough, the adventure pits first tier PCs against seventh tier baddies (which I nerfed, but not enough), players may not have seen all the resources available on their character sheets, and the tactics were off. Live and learn, I guess.

After returning to the hotel, I popped back down to join the crew and play a quick round of Gloom. I forgot how delightfully dark the screw-your-neighbor card game is. Just before we finished it up, Brendan showed up with a new copy of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu. It's a different, Lovecraftian take on traditional Pandemic, where you have to seal four gates while trying not to wake The Old Ones. At first, we found it to be too easy, however that was before we realized we weren't following ALL of the rules.

Saturday I slept in a little before resuming my "hall crawl". Then, at 1:00, I headed up to the Miniature Hobby Events area to take my Two Brush Blending class with Bryan Beck of Paladin Miniatures Studio. I've done two-brush blending before, but this helped me hone my skills—you want translucent paint, pull the blend from only the top edge, use a soft damp brush, and clean up the excess water and pigment.

Since the Monte Cook Games seminar was the same time as the class, I ran to their booth to find out what I missed. To my surprise, it was still going on! So, I hustled over to the Westin, was handed a T-shirt, playing card, and a magnet, and then sat down. My butt wasn't in the seat for longer than a minute before they thanked everybody for coming and ended the session. However, there was an excited murmur about a Kickstarter for a new game called the Invisible Sun and a mysterious black box. So I headed back to the booth to find out more.

Invisible Sun is MCG's new premium roleplaying game focused on storytelling. It's supposedly designed to take into account the current-day gamer's busy lifestyle in that it can handle short gaming sessions, missing players, and even includes a mobile app to handle some between-game mechanics.

Here's a bunch of relevant links:

When I got back to the booth, I saw folks lining up to have the card they received at the seminar stamped, and then they were handed a secret envelope with a seal and a "do not open until" date. Fortunately, I didn't lose my card in all the running about, so I presented it for a stamp and received my secret envelope:

The Kickstarter for Invisible Sun starts on the same date - August 15 - and I'm excited to see what's in the envelope.

The sunburst maze I created at the booth.
Since I was already in the exhibit hall, I decided to do some more wandering until dinner time. On my way out of the hall, I stopped at the FoxMind booth to demo their Maze Racers Game. I was huge into mazes as a kid and Maze Racers totally tapped into that side of me. I could play it solo just for the zen-like experience. When I found out they were offering it at a $25 Gen Con price, I ordered it immediately. As I was finishing up checking out, Brad called.

Brad already had a table at Mikado Japanese Restaurant, so I rushed out of the hall and met him there. The sushi was decent—definitely get the Seafood Puff, even though it probably goes against all Japanese cuisine. We had a nice long dinner and got to catch up on things—Brad was still excited about watching the U.S. Championship Klask Finals Tournament. He was so into it, he bought a set without even playing it!

Once we settled up the bill, we headed back to the Grand Ballroom to finish out the last night of gaming at Gen Con 2016. I was hoping to meet up with some of the CAGWIC friends to play Fiasco or Nights Black Agents or Call of Cthulhu, but that fell through.

We played a few quick rounds of Klask with Brad's new set. Rich ended up trouncing us all.

After seeing the Watch Ya' Mouth video, Brad decided he had to get that game for us to play at Gen Con. He says there are many different games available, but he picked up Watch Yo Mouth because they could ship it to him in time for the con. After some hemming and hawing about how sanitary the cheek spreaders are (yeah, cheek spreaders—Brad brought individual baggies for them and you just toss them in the dishwasher when you're done), we played. It is indeed hilarious to play. We ended up laughing ourselves hoarse! Unfortunately, once you've gone through the included cards, you know them all. They need some sort of webpage or app that generates thousands of phrases to try.

Once we recovered from Watch Yo Mouth, I wanted to keep up the pace with smaller quicker games, so Marty, Alex, Janson, and I played a round of Kittens in a Blender with the Expansion Pack I picked up from the Kickstarter.

We followed that up with Isle of Skye, a bidding and tile placement game similar to the Castles of Mad King Ludwig, but I found that there were too many facets to keep track of that late in the day.

We finished out the night with a few hands of Schrödinger’s Cats, a card game I backed on Kickstarter. It's a bluffing and deduction game, similar to Liar's Dice, with a cute mechanic where each player has a Cat Physicist Doctorate that changes up the rules a tad.

Last day. We packed up the cars, checked out of the hotel, and made one last run at the convention hall for last minute gifts. I finally decided to pick up a copy of the Cypher System Rulebook with a coupon I found on the Monte Cook Games Twitter Feed. I also finally found the Games and Gears booth. I really want these guys to knock it out of the park. I really do! I love the idea of brushes that store into the handles. Great for painting at conventions. Unfortunately, their quality wavers. I still picked up the Gen Con Collectors Brush Set MK3, as it contains the fine-tipped brushes I want from them. Unfortunately, I found clear tape on the brush ends to help maintain a snug fit into the handles and it's already scraping off.

Since I didn't make it to any of the Speed Painting Finals this year, the obligatory photo is replaced by one of our crew this year:
Back Row: Shashank, Jeremy, Jon, Adam, Chad, Brad, Pete, Chewing Lady
Front Row: DJ
Finally, here's a photo of my book haul from this year:
From left to right: The Sprawl (Powered by the Apocalypse)War of Ashes - Fate of AgaptusTorment: Tides of Numenera—The Explorer’s GuideCypher System Rulebook, the Gen Con 2016 Adventures booklet, Cypher System Portfolio

Next year, Gen Con. Next year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Modding and Painting Secret Weapon Miniatures' Traffic Pylons

I believe it was Adepticon where I first saw and picked up Secret Weapon Miniatures' Traffic Pylons. They come 10 to a pack and are beautifully cast out of resin. The master appears to have been a 3-D printed model as there is some minimal texture to the casts. The only bit of flash appeared to be at the top of the pylon. And so, I dutifully started cutting and filing them off. I had gotten through eight of them before I realized, "Hey, waitaminute! Aren't there supposed to be handles on these things?!?" So off to google image search to see what they look like in real life...
Side note: if you do a Google Image Search yourself, use 'traffic barrel' or 'construction barrel', otherwise, you'll end up with a ton of pictures of traffic CONES.
Well, look at that! Those little ridges are supposed to represent the handles. Well, since I shaved most of them off, and I wanted better looking handles anyway, I had to remake them myself.

I had some 1mm X 2mm styrene strips on hand that would fit the bill. In order to make a solid connection joint, I would have to cut slots in the tops of the pylons for the styrene to fit in. I had already done the cleanup work, I just had to cut the slot with a razor saw and square file like so:

Once all the slots were cut, I:
  1. Glued in the styrene strip with Sinbad Glue
  2. Chamfered the corners with some diagonal cutters
  3. Drilled three pilot holes with a pin vise drill
  4. Enlarged the holes with a larger bit
  5. Cleaned them up with a hobby knife
  6. Rounded the corners with a sanding block
You can see the progression here:

I did not drill holes that would be used to bolt a barricade light on as I felt it would weaken the styrene too much.

For the basecoat, I wanted to see if I could skip priming and go straight to a good 'construction barrel orange'. Fortunately, I found a can Rustoleum Fire Orange Satin Spray Paint that was perfect. I applied several coats to smooth over any remaining seams in the handles and to minimize the surface texture you get from casting a 3-D printed model.

Since the cones might get or be placed tipped over, I hit the bottom of them with a quick coat of black primer.

Then, since, in the real world, the stripes are actually stickers, I wanted some of the stripes to look like they were scratched and peeled off. So I separated the pylons into three groups – "new", "used", and "old and busted". I applied some Vallejo Liquid Mask to the last two groups to an appropriate degree:

You'll see that I was test-fitting screwing a computer motherboard standoff into the bottom of the pylons. Since I was going to be painting 40 stripes, I figured I would screw the standoff into the exact center of the pylons and use a cordless drill to slowly spin them so I could just hold a loaded brush in place and let the drill do the work.

I got it to work with quite a bit of trial and error, but I wouldn't recommend it. You have to get the pilot hole centered correctly and the standoff screwed in as straight as possible.

For the orange stripes, I used Reaper HD Fireball Orange (29806). For the white stripes, I used Reaper Pure White (09039). To simulate making it look like it was a reflective material, I liberally added Vallejo Metal Medium – probably 2:1 metal medium to base color. I also tweaked the orange stripe color with yellow and orange inks.

Here's the result with the mask peeled off:

Since the Rustoleum basecoat was slightly glossy, I couldn't use acrylic on the bases as it kept chipping off. I ended up busting out my trusty Testors Flat Black Enamel for the bases.

I saved my work with a quick coat of Testors Dullcote.

Now on to weathering.

If you do the Google Image Search, you will see that several of the recycled tire bases have faded over time. I simulated this by applying glazes of Reaper Splintered Bone (09273) in varying numbers of applications.

To dirty up the pylons themselves, I applied washes of Vallejo Black Wash and Secret Weapon Miniatures Armor Wash in varying degrees.

I then used a black china marker to simulate tire and asphalt scuffs, like so:

The next step was to splatter on small amounts of black paint with a toothbrush, to simulate splashes of tar.

That's probably where I should have stopped.

However, I decided I wanted to give them a filter of Testors Concrete Flat to make it look like they were coated in a film of concrete dust. Unfortunately, I think I went overboard with the airbrush:

Oh well, they look okay and will work perfectly well as tabletop terrain.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Avoid Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs in Your Workspace

Are you using Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs to light your miniature painting or model building workspace? Well, according Stony Brook University, you shouldn't be, as they are unhealthy for your skin.

According to a study Stony Brook did in 2012, CFLs emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation that causes damage to healthy skin cells. You can read about it here:

If you need more proof, here is some further reading:
Now, I will point out that most of the above references state that they see the biggest issue when working within a foot of the light source and say that generally being around CFLs is not a problem. But, my hands are usually less than two feet away, and I'm sure my big bald head gets some of that UV goodness.

I have since swapped out my two 100W daylight compact fluorescent bulbs for 100W equivalent daylight LED bulbs. They are just as bright and don't have the warmup time my old CFLs did.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Warsenal Comanche Tower Lamp Build

At Gen Con 2015, I made my obligatory stop at the Corvus Belli Infinity booth. (You can check out my full Gen Con 2015 Recap.) This year, they shared their booth with Warsenal.

As I was wandering around checking out all the beautifully painted models and terrain, I noticed a neat little terrain kit for under ten bucks: the Warsenal Comanche Tower Lamps. It consists of three unpainted, unassembled, laser-cut MDF and acrylic lamp posts. I figured they would be a quick project resulting in some cool sci-fi scenery. I also wanted to try out a new painting and weathering technique, and, at that price, wouldn't be too put out if it they didn't turn out like I was hoping they would.

Assembly and Painting
Assembly is straightforward – just copy the photo on the package. First, I punched out the MDF pieces and glued them together with basic PVA ("white glue").

Next, I used canned spray paint to lay down my base coats. I left the solar panels still attached to their mirrored acrylic sheet and spray painted only the back side of them with a dark blue. This enhanced the solar panel look. Then, I painted the assembled MDF posts, the same backside of the solar panels, and one side of the fluorescent yellow "light bars" (also left in their acrylic sheet) a shiny aluminum color. I followed this up with a couple of coats of Testors Dullcote to knock the shine back considerably, while still maintaining a metallic sheen, and to provide a surface for the weathering step. Somewhere in there, I brush painted the power/control boxes.

At this point, I punched out the solar panels and light bars, cleaned them up with a file, and then glued them in place with 5-minute epoxy. I chose epoxy as it wouldn't damage the basecoat and has a body to it that can fill the tiny gap in the slots the pieces slide into.

At Gen Con 2013, I took Dave Pauwels' Liber Metallica class. Fantastic class! I love the way he uses NMM (Non-Metallic Metal) techniques with metallic paints. So far, it's my favorite metals technique as you get the best of both worlds. Anyway, as part of the class materials, he provided two metal washes; a bluish grey and a reddish brown. They are made from Golden Fluid Acrylics and both start with Raw Umber. The bluish grey uses Paynes Gray as the primary color and the reddish brown uses Burnt Sienna as the primary color. They are then both thinned down to wash consistency with water. You will have to experiment with the ratios to get a color and consistency you like. 
I used these two washes along with Secret Weapon Armor Wash to dirty up the lamps. The Paynes Gray wash gives them a darker, almost oxidized patina, the Burnt Sienna provides rust effects, and the Armor Wash gives them a general filth.

The last step is to wire the solar panels to the power/control boxes. The kit came with some black string for this purpose, but I didn't feel it would look or hang right. So, instead, I used some old black telephone wire. Since it was too small for the pre-cut holes, I ended up stripping the very end of the wire, and putting on some very small heat-shrink tubing. This had the added effect of looking like strain relief or an electrical boot. I glued the ends of the wire in with cyanoacrylate. (Check out my Sinbad Glue article!)
Overall, I am very pleased with the finished result—both the look of the lamps and the results of my weathering experiment. I should point out that, since I painted one side of the fluorescent yellow "light bars", they don't do the cool glowing effect seen in the package art at the top of the page. Also, due to their height, the lights are a bit wobbly, so you may want to tape or poster putty them to your gaming surface.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Shadow of the Century - Part 2: Smash and Grab

Last week, we sat down to run our first play session of the Shadow of the Century beta playtest!

The Pharmacy Scene from La Femme Nikita - Yeah, it was released in 1990—but FILMED in 1989!
We ran with three players again, but only one of three had attended the Pitch Session. Fortunately, one of the new players asked me to work up Hackerman from Kung Fury as a character ahead of time. The other new player decided to go with the pregenerated "Loose Cannon" character form the sample characters provided—we modified the aspect Mason's Gunning for Me to reflect one of the NPCs from the Pitch Session, so it became Biggins' Gunning for Me.

So, our characters for the night are:
Raymond James - Brain/Detective/Warrior
High Concept: Centurion Historian
Trouble: “Actually…..”
Call to Action: Following in the footsteps of the Spirits

Hackerman - Brain/Hacker/Inventor
High Concept: Hacker at Large
Trouble: Inappropriate Innuendo
Call to Action: With Great Processing Power Comes Great Responsibility

Officer Riza Colak - Cop/Loose Cannon(Gonzo)/Wheelman
High Concept: Cop on the Edge
Trouble: Biggins' Gunning for Me
Call to Action: None yet


In order to introduce the characters, I decided to do a series of scenes where each player describes their character doing their thing, getting caught, and making a hasty escape—to be scooped up by their mysterious benefactor. Ya know, the ol' "Everyone Meets Everyone" trope.

Ken described a giant Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse, but stacked with rows and rows of cardboard file boxes. Raymond James has pulled several off the shelves and is rifling through them. A security guard shows up and asks him who he is and why he's here. Raymond starts, "Well, sir, I'm from the University of..." and pretends to pat himself down for ID. The guard doesn't buy it and radios in to the front desk. Raymond scatters the contents of a box in the air to conceal his escape and ducks out a side door. Waiting for him is a white and gold custom conversion van. An elderly gentleman opens the passenger door and beckons him to jump inside. Once in, the old man jams a cane on the gas pedal and they're off.

Josh explains that Hackerman is convinced that Tastee-Freez is tied up in some big government conspiracy. He's broken into the back room of a local Tastee-Freez and is in the process of dialing in to their corporate records using a Tandy 1000 and a giant modem, when the assistant manager walks in. Hackerman explains that the sequencing board doesn't match the left-handed thrommel-meister, followed by more technobabble. The assistant manager goes to grab the manager, at which point Hackerman bolts, dropping the chunky modem in the process. Waiting for him is a white and gold custom conversion van. An elderly gentleman in a wheelchair slides open the side door and beckons him to jump inside. Once in, a bookish fellow stomps on the gas pedal and they're off.

Sarah sets the scene as a stakeout at a "typical 80's warehouse by the docks". (Josh starts playing "Crockett's Theme".) Officer Riza Colak is there with a fat cassette recorder. She's trying to get evidence that dirty cops from her precinct are getting paid by local drug dealers to look the other way. Just as it gets to the juicy bit, a rat knocks over some bottles, drawing their attention to her. Riza runs for it, bullets whizzing past, and ducks into a nearby parking structure. Waiting for her is a white and gold custom conversion van. A nerd with giant glasses and a mullet slides open the side door. An elderly gentleman in a wheelchair beckons her to jump inside. Once in, a bookish fellow stomps on the gas pedal and they're off.

The elderly gentleman introduces himself as Angus MacGregor. He explains that he's been gathering individuals with particular skillsets to, "help make the world a better place." Riza's not buying it. Raymond steps in to explain that Angus is the Spirit of Longing and a former member of the now defunct Century Club—an organization made up of exceptional individuals who, at one time, kept the forces of evil in check. Angus wants to reconnect old Centurion friends and try to make a difference again. Riza's still not buying it, saying she's got her own corruption to weed out. Angus finally convinces her by pointing out she could be more effective by going bigger: "try to cut them off at the head rather than try to whittle them down at their feet."

Angus directs Raymond to take them to their base of operations—an abandoned police station in the middle of an unpopulated and forgotten chunk of Miami. They park next to Riza's new "squad car"—a shiny new Mustang. Once inside, they have free reign and access to all the resources they could ever need. Hackerman is in heaven!

The Scene of the Crime

After getting settled, Angus calls the three of them into a meeting room. He presents them with a seemingly innocuous newspaper article—a drug store robbery where the crooks got away even though the place was surrounded by police. Something about it seems familiar to Raymond, but he can't put his finger on it. They go to check it out.

The drug store is a mom-n-pop shop currently surrounded by crime scene tape. The front window is smashed in and shelves are overturned.

Raymond heads to the pharmacy counter directly and finds paperwork spilled everywhere. None of the paperwork is newer than three months ago. Drug bottles not on the shelves have been lined up on the counter as if to be counted.

Hackerman makes a beeline to the office and discovers mom and pop have a brand new computer and security camera system. He begins downloading the contents of the computer to floppy disks. He also checks for the video tape of the moment of the break in. Not surprisingly, it's been taken as evidence.

Riza goes to the police station that handled the case to get a copy of the police report. As she's waiting for copies to be made, she notices an officer suspiciously pick up the phone and place a call. She can barely make out him saying, "you told me to call if she shows up. Well, she's here," before he quickly hangs up. With the copy of the report in hand, she stops by the tattletale's desk and makes her presence known before returning to the crime scene.

When Raymond is done examining the drug counter, he heads upstairs to where mom and pop live and questions them. They confirm that multiple people broke in, smashed the place, and took very little – just some loose cash and a couple of bottles of pills. The police arrived quickly, surrounded the place, and the noise from the store below just kind of stopped. The officers were unable to find anybody.

Hackerman starts to unpack all of his gear and starts building a "Magnetic Resonance Convergence Processor" using his Weird Science stunt. He succeeds, and gives it the stunt "When using the Magnetic Resonance Convergence Processor to process electro-magnetic signals, you get a +2 to Hacking to reconstruct those signals". Hackerman starts it running as it reads the magnetic residue image on the head of the video recorder and samples the camera cells and wiring to try to recreate the missing footage of the break in.

Riza compares the police report to evidence on scene. It also confirms that some small bills and a few handfuls of drugs were taken.

The Magnetic Resonance Convergence Processor finishes and ejects a newly minted video cassette. They all decide to pack up and head back to base.

Shortly after leaving the scene, Riza sees flashing lights in her rearview mirror. She diligently pulls over and Officer Joey Biggins steps out and over and leans on her car door. For all his bravado, Riza simply defects everything. Seeing as he's not going to get anything out of her, he smashes the Mustang's taillights for his trouble and moves along. During the rest of the ride back, Hackerman expounds the various ways he's going to make life difficult for Officer Biggins. When it's suggested he sign Biggins up for the Columbia Record & Tape Club, Hackerman states that's over the line as it's equivalent to being punished for war crimes.

Home Base Sweet Home Base

Back at base, Hackerman makes a big production of wheeling out the front-projection TV and gathering everybody around to check it out. Everybody gets a good chuckle when Raymond suggests this is an awful lot of effort just to show off his porn collection.

Hackerman ignores the comment and loads up his video reconstruction. A fuzzy black and white image appears on the screen...

Interior of the drug store.
A brick enters the frame, shards of glass following.
Three individuals enter, two bulky men and a woman with large hair.
One man enters the pharmacy and starts going through stacks of paperwork, throwing them on the floor as he goes.
The woman disappears into the office.
The other man starts pushing over shelves and smashing things.
After a minute or two, the woman returns with a scroll of dot-matrix printout.
Flashing lights begin to reflect off the walls.
The man in the pharmacy stuffs some pill bottles into his jacket pockets, smashes the register on the floor, pockets some cash, and throws the cash drawer at the ceiling light, plunging him into darkness.
The woman returns to the office and flips off the lights.
The remaining man makes a few false starts in various directions before deciding on a darkened corner.
Police officers enter the building from various directions, their flashlights reveal empty spaces where people were just moments before.

Riza loses it. She can't believe people just disappeared into the walls. Angus MacGregor asks her, "now do you see what we are dealing with?" Riza storms off for a stiff drink.

It finally clicks in Raymond's head: That's where he knows that ability From! The Grey Ghost used to able to do that! Angus confirms Ray's discovery and surmises that somebody has the Grey Ghost captive and is somehow extracting his powers.

Hackerman starts reconstructing the contents of mom and pop's computer from floppy disks...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Shadow of the Century - Character Workup: Hackerman

When we sat down to do the Pitch Session for Shadow of the Century, a few of our regular players weren't able to make it, because Life™. One player, Josh, sent the following consolation note:

"Make me this guy as a character:"

That's Hackerman, from the crowdfunded short film, Kung Fury. Which, itself, is a love letter to the 80's. I need to sit down and watch the completed film, but what I've seen is FANTASTIC!

So, just before the first play session, I worked up Hackerman based on just the above video (really, I should watch the whole thing). Here's the result:

The above is all "Beta" – the final version may be different.
I decided to give him a gonzo stunt to see how the "take two stunts, mash them together, and give it some wacky flavor" works out in play.

I did want to give him a stunt that allows him to hack anything as long as he could conceivable connect a computer to it. However, I decided to stick with the spirit of the playtest and use only stunts as written.

Josh was pleased.

P.S. I watched Kung Fury in its entirety. It IS FANTASTIC! Doesn't add much to the character of Hackerman—the above video does a better job characterizing him.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Shadow of the Century - Part 1. The Pitch Session

In 2006, Evil Hat published Spirit of the Century, a pulp role-playing game set in the 1920's and using the Fate system. Its premise is that, at the stroke of midnight, at the beginning of the century, extraordinary people—Spirit Centurions—are born with an innate urge to fight evil, right wrongs, shine light in the shadows, and generally make the world a better place.

Recently, Evil hat released Young Centurions to Fate Core and Fate More Kickstarter backers. Young Centurions uses the Fate Accelerated rules and posits, "what were the Centurions like as teenagers?"

Fast forward along that timeline to the 80's. Roles have flipped—the bad guys, specifically Shadow Centurions, are taking positions of power in megacorporations and political offices, and the good guys, the Spirit Centurions, are now relegated to the shadows and hiding their identities. However, they are still trying to do good and make change through their proxies: New-Wave Heroes. This is where the players come in.

The brilliance of Shadow of the Century is that it totally embraces the tropes of the 80's. Take several of the movies and TV shows of the 80's: The A-Team, Airwolf, Big Trouble in Little China, Charlie's Angels, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Goonies, Knight Rider, Magnum P.I... and you can imagine the old Spirit Centurions directing the young heroes to go out and make a difference!
(Hannibal, Archangel, Egg, Charlie, Uncle Jesse, Chester Copperpot(?), Devon, Higgins respectively.)

Recently, Evil Hat announced a Shadow of the Century beta playtest. Our regular play group was fortunate enough to get in on it. I've spent the last five days devouring the playtest document. Shadow of the Century uses the Fate Core system, but includes a simplified system of roles for character generation, simplified rules for generating NPCs, and lays out steps for having a Montage! The background text really captures the feel of the 80's—the energy, the excesses, the emerging technology we now take for granted. This Friday, we sat down to do the "Pitch Session".

The Pitch Session is where you set the tone, basic plot, and characters of your game's story. We repeatedly commented on how it felt very much like we were a bunch of writers trying to come up with a new TV show or movie to pitch to some media bigwigs.

Phase One: Format
First, you decide if you will be playing as if you are shooting a movie or a TV series. A movie has big, fast action and a shorter overall story arc. A TV series has a much longer major story arc and several smaller "season" story arcs that can be wrapped up quickly. Since our group suffers from what we call "Gamer ADD" and the fact that we want to get four or five sessions in before the playtest ends, we decided we were going to treat our game as a movie.

Phase Two: Gonzometer
The Gonzometer gives you guidelines for how crazy and wacky you want your game to be—from your basic competent action heroes, all the way to alien invasions and robots from the future. We set it at level 2 (out of 4)—just slightly supernatural.

Phase Three: Issues
It took us a while to figure out in what direction we wanted to take the game. The first thought was to concentrate on the Cold War, but decided that, in nuclear war, nobody wins. Eventually, we worked our way towards a group similar to the crew from the movie Sneakers. Even though that movie was from 1992, we liked the idea of outlaws with special skill sets trying to make up for their previous transgressions—possibly with supernatural abilities.

After some further discussion, it was decided a Centurion runs the group and he’s trying to rescue other Centurions. Since we needed to focus on just one rescue, one player suggested a very old Centurion. Since Young Centurions mentioned the Grey Ghost was from the 1800's, he was our man.

Big Issue: We have to rescue the Grey Ghost.
Subplot Issue: Criminals are using Grey-Ghost-like abilities to commit crimes - this needs to be stopped.

Phase Four and Seven: Heroes
Keith decided he wanted to play the ladies man who's secretly a huge computer nerd.
Mike Smith - Face/Hacker/Thief
High concept: Undercover Nerd
Trouble: Nerdgasm
Call to Action: Repenting former thief

Ken wanted to play the bookworm who's been following the exploits of the Century Club for as long as he can remember. In almost a stalker-like fashion, he wants to be one.
Raymond James - Brain/Detective/Warrior
High concept: Centurion Historian
Trouble: “Actually…..”
Call to Action: Following in the footsteps of the Spirits

And Michael decided he wanted to play a hippie pharmacologist who's stickin' it to the man!
Sunshine - Alchemist (Gonzo)/Detective/Saboteur
High concept: Tactical Alchemist
Trouble: Bad trips
Call to Action: Fighting the Man

Phase Five and Six: Cast and Villains
These phases are kind of a neat twist on Fate world building. In this case, all the players quickly generate three NPCs each by writing down names on three note cards and passing them to the left. Then everybody adds a quick note to each name and passes them on for another round of quick notes.
We changed it up slightly in that we did them as a "card draft": Write down names on three note cards, pass them to the left. Pick one card, pass the remaining two to the left. Pick one card, pass the remaining to the left. Everybody will end up with three cards from different people. Add a note to each one and repeat the process.

We had the most fun with these phases.

Here's what we ended up with. NPCs chosen as "villains" are marked with an *:
Alexa Park - Heiress to a Hotel Magnate, Big into biker culture
Big Pete - Bouncer at TechNoir, Trained in martial arts
Dr. Raymond Cunningham - Has a PhD in Philosophy, Always wears a surgical mask
Lenny the Snitch - Key witness to an ongoing investigation, Has no middle fingers
Mr. Zero - Buys and sells “questionable” electronics, Always wears a Captain Planet Inspector Gadget t-shirt
*Officer Joey Biggins - Detective, Takes payoffs from gangs
Sally Maxwell - Wealthy daughter of the Maxwells of the Maxwell Museum, Never seen without a “boy toy” on her arm
Samantha Patel - Girlfriend of drug kingpin __________, Does his books and is secretly siphoning off funds
*Slick Steve - User car salesman, Makes under-the-table deals with corporate types
*Tryn Velcog - Standoffish Greek hacker, Stands 5’8”, but 6’ with hair
*Vieger AKA “Switch” - Norwegian hacker–Tryn’s nemesis, Split personality disorder
Zed Kalista - Owns a pawn shop, Obsessed with Ninjas

Finally, a suggestion was made for another “Bad Guy”. Here's the notes we took: Technophobe, Can render tech dead with  an EMP-like touch. 

Now I just have to figure out who has the Grey Ghost and why for next week!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Katanas & Trenchcoats - A Cheat Sheet!

Occasionally, when I am learning a new system, I will make a cheat sheet as I go through the rules. I just so happened to make one for Katanas & Trenchcoats. It was useful as a handout when I ran K&T for my buddy Keith's birthday.

I got permission to distribute it, so you can get a copy by clicking on this image:
If you find any errors, omissions, complications, etc., please contact me and I will do my best to make the corrections.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Katanas & Trenchcoats - Fire & Lightning

Copyright 2015, Ryan Macklin

So, my buddy Keith asked me to run a roleplaying game for his birthday. I asked him what he was looking for genre-wise and he said, "Magic. A world full of magic."

Now, when he said that, I hope he didn't see me slump in my chair. In my experience, magic systems in RPGs are overly complicated – long lists of spells, tricky drain mechanics, flipping through books to find what effects do, arguing about the same... Even my current go-to system, Fate, doesn't have an explicit spell system – it has dozens.

So, I was just about to whip out my copy of the Fate System Toolkit, when I remembered that one of Fate's authors, Ryan Macklin, had recently released his latest episode for his recent RPG, Katanas & Trenchcoats: Episode 7: Celestial Boogaloo, in which he includes rules for celestial sorcery. Best of all, they take up maybe three-quarters of a page! It doesn't hurt that Keith is a knife and sword collector. I guess I'm running Katanas & Trenchcoats...

So, what is this Katanas & Trenchcoats RPG
Ryan Macklin (Mythender, Fate Core, Dresden Files RPG, various Pathfinder, and many others) has apparently been noodling on a dark and sexy roleplaying game about immortals doing battle with swords, a'la 90's movies and television, since at least 2014. Since talking Fate with Macklin over coffee at GenCon 2014, I've been following his blog. In March of this year, giant hints about an actual sword-swinging, trenchcoat-donning roleplaying game started showing up. And on April 1, he dropped the bomb and released it: Katanas & Trenchcoats - Episode 1: Welcome to Darkest Vancouver.

Since Macklin released it on April Fool's Day – in three editions: Basic, Premium, and Immortal – there was some discussion that it was an elaborate hoax. But, it soon became clear that it was a real thing that you could spend real money on – with the proceeds going to Seattle Children's Hospital. Since I am also a contributor to his Patreon, I purchased it at an insider's discount (but missed out on the Immortal edition - dang...).

Packed into 22 pages (not including covers and character sheet) is a fairly complete roleplaying system of epic sword fights between brooding immortals. Macklin and his fellow authors (dozens!) do an impeccable job of capturing the tone of those 90's shows in their writing. I can't help but read their mocking love for the genre without hearing the voice of the Movie Trailer Voice Guy or Mr. Torgue from Borderlands 2.

How does it play?
Character Generation:
To get the ball rolling, I emailed Keith and Dave (the other player) an intro blurb to explain the concept and set the tone, and asked them to noodle on their characters' backgrounds as laid out in the rules: Saga, Personal Tragedy, Badass Rep, Inner Deal, Historical Influence, Origin Story, and Name. To my surprise, when we got together to put the finishing touches on their characters and begin playing, Dave showed up with a page of background; Keith had THREE PAGES! I made sure to reward them with Grandeur appropriately (see below).

To finish up the characters, they rolled 3d10 for their birth year. Dave rolled triple threes, making him "Triple Edged!" I gave Keith three edges as it was his birthday. They then proceeded to choose their Traits, Skills, and Edges, and fill out their character sheets. I have summarized their characters in the following table:

SAGA Viscount Vero "Feenix" Vivicar "VOID"
PERSONAL TRAGEDY Herr Emberedge killed my love Odelia. My parents were killed by the monarch's assassin.
BADASS REP I burn debt collectors with fire I bring nothing into a fight except pure skill. A foe once said, "The look in your eyes is so empty..."
INNER DEAL I appreciate brandy and other fine beverages. Aristocratic. I want to provide equality for the underdogs. My long term goal is to find the man who let me live and gave me his katana with the promise to fight again in 200 years.
HISTORICAL INFLUENCE I participated in the Boston Tea Party. I free indentured servants, usually by torching their masters' fields (or toes)... I fought to liberate the Scottish in the Battle of Bannockburn. I fought alongside the British against the Spanish Armada.
ORIGIN STORY I was in the Roman Legion. I was Orelius' personal accountant. After some shady business, Orelius and the Emperor's Advisor locked me in my home and set it on fire. This is when I first discovered I was immortal and could set myself ablaze at will. My parents wanted to change the status quo for farmers. The monarch, not having any of it sent an assassin to kill my family. After murdering my parents, the assassin went after me. Lightning struck the assassin just as he plunged his sword into my chest. The lighting toasted the assassin, saved me, and melted the sword into the my chest. I have since discovered I can deflect metal by adjusting the electricity around me.
PRIMARY TRAIT Mystical Talent - Flames Mystical Talent - Electricity
EDGES Armor of Passion
Majestic Accent
Human Torch
Deadly Hanzo Steel (a "gift" from Herr Emberedge)
Electromagnetic Parry/Reposte
Steel Wound
THRONE OF COMFORT The urn of Odelia's ashes. My parents' home in Portsmouth, England.

Actual Play:
Failing to follow my suggestion to start the game knowing each other, I had to force them together. We agreed that Herr Emberedge, who killed Feenix's love Ophelia, was the same man who gave Void his sword, vowing to return for it in 200 years. Perfect!

Now to start playing! The section, "Being a Damn Story Master," does a clever, albeit brief, job of hitting important storytelling bullet points. One of those bullet points is to start the game with a bang, something I regularly try to do, and includes three tables to randomly generate such a scene. Keith and Dave had provided enough background that all I needed was a location. Rolling on the "Where You Are Now" table, I got:  "4. A houseboat, some distance from the docks." I changed the houseboat to Herr Emberedge's yacht, set it on fire, and put Void on the dock, watching it burn. Feenix arrives on the scene and spots the unmistakeable Hanzo Steel strapped to a shadowy figure's back – who must be Emberedge! A fight ensues...

I find that combat is the fastest way to introduce players to new game systems, so we were on track. Swords are drawn and steel flashes. Feenix bursts into flames chasing Void off the dock and into the water. Feenix follows and Void electrifies the seawater as he enters. Eventually, the cloud of confusion is lifted and they realize they are after the same man.

The conflict resolution system feels epic! It basically boils down to: somebody acts and somebody else reacts. Actions are simmered down to three: Attack!, Boost (basically setting up for your next action, kind of like Create an Advantage in Fate), or Push (anything not an Attack! or Boost). Both participants then roll a fistful of ten-sided dice based on the Skill and Trait they are using, and whoever gets the most successes (each die that rolls a 7 or above) wins. What particularly makes it feel epic is that you can respond to an Attack! with an Attack! Edges are easy to implement and add that extra color to already outrageous characters.

After questioning the legless harbor master, fighting off muscleheads in suits who happen upon the immortals in the apartment of a dead security guard, and skydiving into Herr Emberedge's surgical implement factory, Feuerkante, Void (with a bum leg from epically failing his skydiving roll) and Feenix face off against Herr Emberedge himself.

Void and Feenix spend a few cycles keeping Emberedge talking; not because they care what he has to say, but because they want to recover from the wounds they received wading through Emberedge's goons. Once combat begins in earnest, sword nicks are traded back and forth. Void uses his Electromagnetic Parry to deflect a deadly blow. Feenix uses his Armor of Passion to save himself and responds by burning a saved up Boost, setting himself ablaze, and directing it at Herr Embererdge. He rolls a ton of d10s with a corresponding number of successes, and Herr Emberedge..... fails miserably – no successes. He goes down in a trail of smoke.

Void and Feenix attempt to vanquish their archenemy permanently, fail to land the perfect blow, and Herr Emberedge disappears in a puff of ash – to appear again when they least expect him...

What's your take on it?
We all agreed we had a good time playing immortals beating on other immortals with sharp objects. However, from the Story Master's (SM) point-of-view, I felt the rules, as presented, were a tad incomplete.

I would have liked a bit more guidance on how to set opposing difficulties. The only thing I could find was one sentence: "The SM just picks a difficulty between one and, oh, ten dice; more dice means harder."

In a similar vein, even though the authors provide a couple of pages on how to generate other supernatural beings, there's nothing on how to tackle statting up "mooks" that inevitably fill the ranks of those other supernaturals.

Finally, Katanas & Trenchcoats includes a Grandeur Rank, a reward system for good roleplaying. It provides a mechanical way for "showing favoritism" in game. I just wish it did more, like power Edges or modify die rolls.

Overall, we had fun playing K&T. Hopefully, the minor omissions will be tackled in the future Episodes Ryan Macklin has hinted at releasing.

I totally forgot to use this playlist while running it!

Edit: Corrected to note that dozens of authors contributed to making K&T a reality. Sorry guys!