Tabletop RPGs – Bundles of Doom

If anyone out there doesn’t yet know the Bundle of Holding folks, it’s time you did.

They are single-handedly responsible for depleting my pension fund and the college fund of the kids I don’t have. But hey, it goes to chariddy, so that’s ok.

Follow them on Twitter, or sign up for their e-mail alerts and you too can enjoy the luxurious feeling of having more RPG systems in your reading list than you can read if you live to be 120. Do it for nostalgia, new systems, or just plain nerdhood.

I hate these guys. Which in Ysh-speak means I love these guys. Can’t post more, I’m chewing up my crappy bandwidth downloading the latest offering. Click below for said latest offering.

never enough RPGs

Freebie Calendar – The Roll of Doom

So in the end there were only like 3 names to roll between for my ah-mayzing calendar giveaway, literally:

And since I’m a useless tosser and forgot that yesterday was Monday and The Great Roll-Off day, I’m going to roll it live right now. Please try to contain your excitement.

We’re going to use our handy-dandy Wizards of the Coast dice roller:

WOTC roller

And we’re going to roll 1d3. We could roll 1d6 and assign two numbers to each contestant. Or 1d100 and ignore the 100, or… Whoops sorry, going all nerdy there for a second. Stephanie shall be 1, Syl shall be 2, and TBCKAB shall be 3. 4 is right out. Anyway, heeeeeere we go. Drum-roll please…..

winner

Syl wins the calendar!

/corks pop /applause /and-the-crowd-of-5-goes-wild

kermitwildIncidentally, the main image results for Googling “Kermit goes wild” are enough to make you lose your faith in humanity. Assuming you had any to begin with.

@Syl, you’re going to have to PM me your snail-mail address, though there’s no huge hurry since I don’t have either calendar yet. I’m guessing this won’t happen until the new year. You can reach me at ysharros at gmail dot com.

Tabletop RPGs – Firefly

Burn the land and boil the sea

I’m jumping around all these shiny new-to-me systems like a flea with another flea up its butt, and I have to admit the idea of playing Firefly is super-hyper-duper-attractive, at least on paper. In RPGs like in so many other games, sometimes the idea of playing something is a lot better than the actual experience, but we don’t always know until we try it. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to try it.

The Clues before Snooze  group (oh yes please, get me a better name, I’ll pay you in free mints) is now two groups, cunningly named Left-Pondians (North-America) and Right-Pondians (Europe). We’re sitting at 3-6 players for the Left-Pondians and currently 3 for the Right-Pondians, and there are spaces left in the Europe-time group if anyone is interested; let me know in the comments or wherever.*

We have no idea what we’re going to play next, in either group, though I’m glad they all had a good enough time with the Dresden Files Accelerated Edition playtesting to want to carry on. I’m certainly not going to force a system or setting on anyone, though I will definitely argue for trying Firefly in at least one of them, likely the Right-Pondians because Brian, one of our Left-Pondian players, is *gasp* not a die-hard fan of the series. I know, right?! (Here’s an excellent post on how it’s warm and comfy as a childhood Saturday in front of the telly. And yes, Mr. Fillion is totes swoon-worthy as the complete smart yet stupid, slightly bumbling but strong almost-bad-boy, thinking girl’s crumpet package. Ahem. Where were we?)

Firefly

So, yes. Going to be trying this one out, even if I have to play with myself.

Play IT with myself.

Yes. That.

You can’t take the sky from me

In my quest to remember how to GM (which is roughly like riding a bicycle) and almost certainly as a desperate displacement tactic so that I don’t actually have to think about the upcoming don’t-yet-exist omg-what-shall-we-do campaigns — because I’m glutton enough to want to do it not once, but twice, for two different groups — I’ve been reading system books, GMing books, prepping books, GMing and gaming and playing and RPG websites and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! My brand-new download of Evernote is already brimming with things to read, remember, or consider.

I’ve even downloaded the demo version of Scrivener to see if it’ll help me manage my games more effectively, because my management technique is pretty much exactly like what I described my brain to be: an explosion in a gummy-bear factory:

gummybearexplosion

I’ve only run through the tutorial but so far it seems pretty awesome. It’s structured, which will help me, but not so structured that my brain rebels and goes FUCK YOU I’M JUST GOING TO USE POST-IT NOTES THAT WILL FALL OFF THE MONITOR AND GET EATEN BY THE DOGS AND THEN YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHO THE BIG BAD WAS WHO TRAPPED TIMMY DOWN THE MINE.

My brain likes to shout at me. The meds should be kicking in any day now.

They also do an idea-jotter that’s kinda-sorta-but-not-quite like a mind-mapping program, called Snapple. No wait, Scrapple. No, that’s not it. Scapple!

Best of all, both versions come with a 30-day trial which is a genuine 30 days of use trial, not a 30-days-from-when-you-install-it trial. That’s the kind of demo I like, especially when it’s for a product that looks as though I might seriously want it. They’re giving me plenty of time to become irretrievably hooked… and then buying them isn’t even that expensive. Oh, they are cunning.

Anyway, to get back to the original point, I’ve added about a million new sites to the Feedly feed I don’t check nearly enough, because somehow in all the other crap going on in my life I’ll find the time to read 25 blog posts every day. (Said lots of people, perhaps, but not me, ever.**)

Here are two I found just today, shared because they cropped up in my search for Firefly reviews and I loved the style and tone of both of them: The Reef and Ed Plays Games. Also, as a French person and French-speaker, I can’t not like someone whose domain name is Nasty Anemone.

All right then. Since this blog post is itself a displacement activity that I’m doing to delay the time I have to sit down and try to brainstorm some campaign ideas (because I want to have a few ideas the groups can spitball off rather than starting in a vacuum and the inevitable awkward silence***), I’d best toddle off and do that thing.

Just like riding a bicycle…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* The groups are intended to meet for sessions once every two weeks, since even in my RPG-deprived state I don’t think I can run two sessions and attend another as a player every week. Prospective players will be asked to commit to that as best they can, or there’s little point in having a ‘regular’ gaming group. We’re currently using Roll20 as a VTT platform and it works rather better than I expected, though we haven’t exactly stretched its capacities so far.

** But I live in hope. I am going to give Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done method another shot in the new year. I’m half-hooked from my first read-through of the method some months back but have yet to apply most of the principles. But I will. Because as a chronically anxious person with real issues finding meds that work, anything that lets me empty the whirling morass that is my brain and occasionally actually relax, knowing that things are under some semblance of control, would be wonderful.

*** See what I did there?

 

 

Christmanukkahwanza freebie

Now that the Kickstarter is over, I have a buddy one of Matthew Stawicki’s 2016 Calendar to give away for the Holidays*. Comment below, or on G+/FB/Twitter and your name will be added to a hat. I’ll do a random roll thingy on Monday the 14th.

I’m not certain I can swing sending this outside the US. International shipping rates are crazy at the moment… But feel free to take a shot if you want one.

Stawicki calendar 2016
* I have no idea whether I’ll actually get my calendars in time to send them on for Xmas, so I use the term loosely.

IntPiPoMo – final miscellanea

I was going to write about how the Sims seems to have ended up as my go-to solo game for the last 6 years (since the Sims 3 came out, in fact), but I can’t seem to find my old Sims 3 screenshots. They’re not lost — they’re just buried in what is now a secondary-secondary drive slaved in from the computer I had back in 2009. And I can’t be arsed to go find them.

Instead, here are a few of the other screenies I came across while looking for the ones you’re not going to see.

Guild Wars 2

I didn’t play it for more than a few weeks, but it sure was pretty.

GW2_2

gw2_3

gw2_4

gw2_5

gw2_6

FFXIV – A Realm Reborn

After a very unfortunate beta and first launch (tried one and therefore skipped the other), FFXIV came back better, stronger and faster. I thought I’d play it until the earth got swallowed by the sun, but like so many other MMOs I’ve played in the last decade, it didn’t stick. I’m not sure why, because I have very fond memories of it — aside from the need to do dungeons to progress the main story whether I wanted to or not — but as I wrote elsewhere I think that has a lot more to do with me and the lack of a constant group of known-people (friends, even) to play with than with any flaws in the game itself.

ffxiv_01

ffxiv_02

ffxiv_03

ffxiv_04

…Aaaand, that’s 50 (52 for the nit-picky). If Thanksgiving weekend food-excess and torpor allow, I might post a few more before November becomes December, but don’t count on it. Thank God for IntPiPoMo, or I might not have posted at all this month! Ahhh Blaugust, where art thou?

Happy Thankstuffing, US folks. Belated Thanksgiving, Canadia folks. Booyah, everyone else.

IntPiPoMo – Dragon Ages

[For the benefit of Gamer Girl’s sanity, these are pix 22-43.]

I have not finished a single one of the Dragon Age games, but I still enjoyed the hell out of what time I spent in them — which is almost none for DA:Inq, but I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually; it pouts at me every time I open Origin and then click on the Sims 4. And I have literally five million screenshots from the various games, which in non-hyperbole-land translates to somewhere around 1,000. Which is still quite a lot.

So here are a few of them for IntPiPoMo. Click to enlarge as usual.

Dragon Age: Origins

[Edit — so I didn’t mean to put in quite so many DAO pix but seriously, they’re all awesome and they all bring back memories, which is exactly what screenshots should do. I might just have to play the game again over Thanksgiving…]

“What’s all this Ridley Scott pollen shit in the air anyway? My allergies are killing me.”

DAO1One of my favourite characters ever, looks-wise. Even though bald and tattooed isn’t usually my thing. She was just BADASS.

DAO2Another badass DAO character. Come to think of it, they were all badass, even the elves (and that’s saying something).

DAO3Yes, I really liked playing the Origin stories. Don’t judge me.

DAO4A) I’m kinda liking this bald thing. It’s a lot more comfortable under helmets. B) My armour may have totally ridiculous cleavage, but at least I’m not wearing a belt over my boobs like that witch bint up there.

DAO5

But she does get all the best lines.

DAO12

Shit just got real, yo.

DAO6Demon bad.

DAO8

DAO7

Hey hero lady, I don’t suppose you can do something about us constantly being covered in blood? My dry-cleaning and armour-scouring bills are killing me.

DAO9

And of course, a dragon.. or eight.

DAO10DAO11

Dragon Age 2 – The Unsubtitled

Still with the dragons?! Oh right, it’s Dragon Age…

DA2_1

Morrigan’s mum, also dragony, also clearly a graduate of the Maleficent School of Sartorial Style.

DA2_2

If the kid says “Enchantment? Enchantment!” ever, at all, where I can hear him, I’m going to gouge his eyes out with a spoon. And I’m not even sure why…

DA2_3

And, uh, that’s it apparently. I got a bit further than that in game but it just wasn’t grabbing me as much.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Which is still better than how far I got in this game: maybe 3 hours and barely out of the tutorial (I think). Even so, I have 90 screenshots, which averages out to one every 2 minutes, so either I knew IntPiPoMo was coming up (a whole year down the line almost to the day), or I just thought the game was very pretty. Hell, even the “Game is loading” screen was awesome.

I should actually play this sometime, I suspect.

DAI_1

I’m only in the character creation section and already I’m way more badass than the other bints you made. Keep me. We will kill many things together.

Sorrow2_1

Holy crap these game controls SUCK. Or YOU suck. You almost made me shoot an arrow up my own butt!

DAI_2

I swear, guys, I have no idea where that’s coming from!

DAI_3

DA:I demon – now with 25% more arachnid!

DAI_4

Did I die and end up in Medieval Band heaven? Well, at least the outfit’s not bad.

DAI_5

 

 

 

 

 

IntPiPoMo – Pets and places

I’m not much of one to be photographed, and I don’t much care about photographing other people, however horrible and antisocial that may sound. But landscapes, the weather, my pets and other animals… those I do like to take pictures of. Here are a few of the ones I found when going through the 2013 folders. Note that I am an enthusiastic but entirely unskilled photographer.

You know, I could make a killer slide set from those, invite some friends over, and drive them all insane by forcing them to watch 3,000 slides that nobody but me gives a shit about.

In the meantime, here’s a half-dozen or so. That’s only worth 1d4 SAN points. Click for much larger versions.

None of the images are processed (I wouldn’t know how).

1 & 2: We live on the eastern slopes of the Sandia mountains near Albuquerque, and they’re different from moment to moment 365 days a year. Our sunsets are really short but they make up for it by being quite frequently incandescent. I keep trying to capture the colours but don’t usually succeed.

Sunset over the Sandias

Sunset2

3. Only one snow picture. I’m being restrained, because it occurs to me that not everyone finds cold wet white stuff as fascinating as I do.

Snow1

4-9 : My dogs and assorted other animals. Neva, the husky, gives the one of the best head-tilts I’ve ever seen on a dog. The birds are just cute, and hard to capture (for me, anyway).

Neva1
What?
Wait, what?
Wait, what?
Basenji in the snow
Basenji in the snow

Birds1

Birds2

Hummingbird3

And finally, 10: A picture of my grandad’s house. No, seriously, it’s a picture of Chambord Castle in the Loire valley, which is only a few miles from where my grandad used to live. I am not allowed to bring people to that area without a) making them visit lots of local markets, sample lots of cheese and sample even more wine and b) making them visit this particular castle among the gajillons that line the various rivers of the region. The castle itself is some medieval e-peen thing where the French king Francis I was trying to prove that he had a bigger one than everyone else.

Chambord2

 

IntPiPoMo – Warhammer Online

I have to do some Warhammer Online screenies, because getting into that beta and joining Casualties of War (a guild by bloggers for bloggers (and anyone else)) was what started this blog. And through this blog I’ve met millions and millions of new people — okay, a couple hundred maybe. And a few dozen of those I like a lot and am friends with (is it YOU? Is it not you? And if it isn’t you, why isn’t it you?!). And a handful of those I am now good friends with, some of them even IRL. So yeah, definite turning point that was.

Besides, it was an excruciating amount of fun, if only for a little while. It’s also the only MMO ever where I played a healer as a healer (as opposed to playing a Shadow Priest or a Feral Druid) and had fun doing it. I don’t seem to have many screenshots of Amariel the Archmage, but that’s probably because I was too busy spamming heals in scenarios to actually stop and take pictures. The pix below are therefore from Ysharros, my solo char.

Kaltlauf 1900

I don’t remember what all the places are, but that’s ok. I remember the fun. And as a little nostalgia kick for anyone else who played, here’s a link to THE DUDE WITH THE THING. It actually applies to pretty much any PvP carry-the-thing scenario. There is one rule: KILL THE DUDE WITH THE THING.

Ysh and big skelly

Ysh and the Big Nasty

 

Tabletop – DFAE Playtest – Session 3 write-up

This is the write-up for the third playtesting session for the Dresden Files Accelerated Edition. All the players were present for this one and I think much fun was had by all.

The scenario is designed to be deliberately open-ended — it can be played as a stand-alone adventure or can be hooked into a larger campaign if the group decides to carry on beyond the playtesting requirements; either way, one more session should resolve the primary Euphorium plotline (who’s making and selling it, how, why, for what benefit/group/purpose, etc.).

Jeremiah ToomsAs it stands, I’m fairly sure we’re going to need to split the UK and US contingents because scheduling is a pure bitch with a total time-zone difference of 7 hours and players with weird and wonderful work schedules. That’s life beyond the time-rich college-age, I guess. We’ll figure it out.

I kicked around the idea of starting a whole nother blog for tabletop stuff, but was convinced by various people (and my own instincts) to just keep things all together here. Those who prefer one type of post over another can simply pick and choose, and I don’t need to muck about with a whole new identity thing in a whole new corner of the intertubes. I like this particular corner.

Anyway, here’s session three. Yes, there was finally some combat!

The character pictures have been cribbed off the internet and all credit where credit might be due — my players found them, sue them if you must.

DFAE Playtest – Session 3

Characters present:

Cieran Muldoon, Wyldfae Undertaker to the supes of Seattle
Korbin Stevens, Chaotic Good wizard and research professional
Jeremiah Tooms, Small-Time Mortal Street Criminal
Sasha Travis, Streetwise EMT (and were-Crow)

Euphorium for the masses

Session 3 begins where Session 2 left off.

Korbin and Linda and the Loony in the Library

We cut back to Korbin Stevens, whose absence from the previous scenes is explained in a short flashback.

While at the Lois Lanes he receives a call from Linda Phyllis, the ever-helpful librarian from the Restricted Occult collection in the social sciences/anthropology wing of the U-Dub library. She claims to have found a volume she thinks Korbin would find very useful in his research – and to anyone but Korbin, it’s obvious Linda has a thing for Korbin and is (mostly) trying to find an excuse to see him again. Korbin, however, is blissfully oblivious – but he does head up to the library.

Korbin Stevens

Linda has just offered Korbin a cup of coffee in the librarians’ break-room when one of the handful of students working in that part of the library begins to act out violently, ripping up the book he was reading before hurling it away from him and starting on another. The librarians and other students are shocked, of course, but Korbin has a feeling this might be another Euphorium event. The other librarian (not Linda) tries to call the security desk downstairs, but the phone makes an ominous crackling FZZZZT noise and produces a puff of smoke before going dead. Looking innocent, Korbin moves away a few feet, but the [wizard’s hex] damage is done.

The student carries on hurling books in random directions. A couple of the students flee. One decides to capture the meltdown on his phone for immediate upload to YouTube. One crouches down under a desk. And the last student, a blond-haired girl, merely sits where she was, gazing at the ape-shit student as though she’s watching a particularly pleasant romantic comedy. When the ape-shit student hurls a book at her, yelling unprintable imprecations, she merely shifts aside to avoid it but doesn’t otherwise react.

As this is going on, Korbin [clearly begging the GM to have something horrible happen to him one of these days] decides to use the Sight on the violent student. [DFAE has mechanics for this. Korbin fails the roll, but decides to apply some stress to it and manages to nudge it up into a success.] [The GM now knows to ask for additional stress bonuses to be applied BEFORE the roll, so that she doesn’t have to describe the same Sight event twice in two different ways.]

What he sees is confusing, but that’s the Sight for ya. Where the angry student’s head should be, Korbin instead sees a hole, like a tear in the fabric of reality, and through that hole he sees a field of tall, purple, poppy-like flowers under a dark violet starless sky. Instead of the flower-head, however, these plants have a large eye which weeps a deep purple-black sap. The plants appear to be being scythed down (literally) in sheaves, and as they fall, they scream. Korbin is fairly sure he’s seeing into a section of the Nevernever.

He closes his Sight and ponders his options for a moment, then decides that the safest course of action for everyone would be to knock the violent student out.

One excellent roll and a sleep spell later, the student collapses in a heap mid-swear word and begins to snore. Korbin knows he only has a few minutes until sunset, at which point the spell will likely unravel. He tells the other students the kid has clearly been working too hard and must have had some kind of breakdown, then hauls said kid into a surprisingly well-practiced fireman’s carry and dumps him on the couch in the librarians’ break-room.

He barely has time to wake the kid up and offer him some strong coffee before security shows up, in the form of a huffing middle-aged officer who thought the last place anything strenuous would ever happen would be a University library.

When questioned, the kid reveals he has no memory of becoming violent. He does hope he didn’t hurt anyone, and then admits he’s been taking ‘smart drugs’ to do better and stay awake. Maybe those are having unfortunate side-effects? Korbin is relatively sure the young man is telling the truth as he knows it.

Long story short, Linda dresses the kid down as only a librarian can but tells the security officer that the matter need go no further provided the student pays for any damaged books.

Korbin decides he’d better try to join up with his friends and let them know what just happened. His research date appointment with Linda will have to wait. [The research is relevant to Korbin’s backstory and trouble, not to the current scenario.] On his way out of the library, he notes the young blond woman is no longer there.

Discussion, Theory, Analysis

He joins the other PCs at Muldoon & Sons, and as they are discussing the evening’s rather packed events, Jeremiah (having woken up) attracts their attention to a news story he just caught on his phone, which states that a young blond woman was found dead at the U-Dub library a few hours ago. Her picture matches that of the woman Korbin saw in the library (the one who was presumably on Euphorium).

Impelled by Sasha, who is extremely unhappy at the rising body count, the PCs decide that the Euphorium needs to be examined in more detail and reach out to their contacts:

  • Sasha hands a vial over to a (mortal, not in-the-know) lab tech acquaintance of hers (“Bob”), not expecting much but figuring it can’t hurt. The tech reports back that the vial contains water, a little alcohol, something unknown, and something else unknown that is a lot like blood but not really – perhaps something synthetic? Maybe it’s True Blood, heh heh. And can he have another vial to examine because this stuff is super interesting and he’s never seen anything like it before? Wisely, Sasha refuses.
  • Cieran hands a vial over to the person he routinely uses to inspect… unorthodox… substances. [A forensic scientist working in ____ who also happens to be a changeling (based on the ‘Bones’ tropes). The GM makes recurring-NPC notes for both squints.] Said squint’s report is not much more helpful: water, alcohol, something unknown but probably from the Nevernever, and something else unknown that is but isn’t quite blood. Cieran immediately deduces [correctly] that this last element is likely White Court vampire blood – though this is not scientifically confirmed as yet.
  • Korbin, meanwhile, does his own examination of the Euphorium. Rather than trying to analyse its composition, however, he decides to try to trace the vial’s origin. [For playtesting purposes, this is run as a particular kind of ritual whose main purpose is to move the action forward to a new scene or location.] Korbin succeeds with style [we got a lot of those during the session, though sadly none were from the GM], and with a few hours of concentration and a series of increasingly large-scale maps manages to track the vial down to an abandoned industrial complex on the outskirts of town.
  • Jeremiah, not blessed with ‘squint’ friends, takes the day to catch up on some sleep.

A few other things happen during that day. When she comes off duty from her fire station Sasha is very unsubtly told by a couple of cops to back off the Euphorium business; she recognizes one as one of the off-duty policemen at the Hot Lips, and clearly he recognized her too. She gives them as much attitude as she dares, but is left angry and a little shaken. Cieran spots – and easily shakes, thanks to his Pathfinder stunt – some goons watching his place of business, presumably sent by Rhonda McLaine to make sure he, too, keeps his nose out of White Court affairs.

Sasha Travis

Jeremiah, meanwhile, receives an aggrieved and whiny phonecall from Devlin, demanding his phone back. Amused, Jeremiah agrees.

That evening the PCs meet up at the Lanes to compare notes before piling into Korbin’s ageing (but difficult to hex) Saab and heading for the nastier part of town. Having grown up ‘on the streets’, Sasha has heard of the area and can tell the others that it has a bad reputation. Even most desperate among the homeless tend to avoid it, for no reason anyone can directly point to. It’s just got a bad aura.

From Lanes to Planes

They park near the complex, which turns out to be some aerospace-related facility that is now closed down and unused. Jeremiah goes on ahead to scout the area and try to narrow down what building they might be looking for, based on Korbin’s pointed “sort of that way” instructions. His Sneak roll is so good that he entirely avoids the two armed guards, locates a likely-looking building, and leads the other PCs to it without tripping any alarms.

The building in question seems to be an administrative and warehouse building, with offices at the end where the PCs came in. Following Korbin’s magical tracking sense, they venture carefully into the back of the building, passing some recent signs of use as they go (new candy bar wrappers, discarded fast food bags and soda cans, etc.). The PCs all have a vaguely uneasy feeling, except for Cieran who apparently is not fazed in the slightest [and appears to be sliding closer and closer to Winter, as subsequent events will show].

After a few tense but uneventful moments of exploration, Jeremiah (in the lead) spots a key-pad locked and alarmed door with a camera mounted above it. He stops the group and examines the setup, which seems to be one of those cheap systems the user can link to their smartphone. The PCs ask Korbin whether he can hex stuff on purpose, or does it only happen when he doesn’t want it to, and after a successful roll Korbin proves that it’s the former; the light on top of the camera winks out and the keypad turns off.

The PCs stop to sense the air around them. Korbin, occupied by his tracking spell, senses nothing in particular. Jeremiah hears several people on the other side of the door, as does Sasha, and Cieran gets a feeling of thin-ness from somewhere up ahead that usually signals a weak spot between the real world and the Nevernever.

Cieran Muldoon
Cieran Muldoon

[Around this point the GM asks the players to confirm what weapons they brought with them. Sasha has her First Aid kit and nothing else. Korbin has his magic. Cieran has brought his silver Fae-made sword, a slim blade which looks perfectly capable of murder. And Jeremiah (who does have access to a gun but chose not to bring one) proudly brandishes his favourite weapon: a pool ball in a long white tube sock.

[And here, in a nutshell, we have the difference between Cieran – ages-old scion of Faerie nobility and (so it is rumoured) possessed of dragonsblood, however reduced his current circumstances may be – and Jeremiah, a barely out of his teens scion of the streets and unknown (but probably unsavoury) parents. This is probably also where the PCs suddenly gelled as a group of PCs, staring at each other in a darkened corridor and trying to laugh quietly enough to avoid alerting the guards. Great moment.]

[Also at this point, Sasha’s player had to leave but agreed to allow the remaining players to semi-play her, provided nobody threw her into gaping pits of lava or otherwise got the character killed.]

Jeremiah, in fine Stealthy fettle this evening, does another amazing roll and manages to crack open the door and peer inside without attracting anyone’s attention. He sees what the GM describes as an industrial kitchen and the players immediately describe as a meth lab (not far off the mark, as it turns out). The large room also contains a TV, currently showing a football game that’s being watched by two armed guards and a better-dressed, sharper-looking guard who is probably their boss. Beyond them, working at prep tables covered in distillation and cooking equipment, Jeremiah spots three odd-looking figures: two look like short, wizened children, and one looks like a shrunken, angry Danny de Vito. “Oh,” says Jeremiah’s player [completely accurately, as it happens], “He looks just like a goblin!” He also sees some commercial-sized fridges, some cabinets and lockers, a stack of plastic tubs and wicker trugs, and a second door.

Here’s a screenshot of the Roll20 map I sketched out with my amazing freehand drawing talents (as it stands at the end of the session). Names were added for a modicum of clarity. It’s not van Gogh but it was certainly more than enough for the game. Click for larger version.

Fight in Euphorium Lab

Finally! A Fight!

Some planning ensues. A diversion is needed. The guards must be separated, ideally drawn out, and then disabled so that the PCs can examine this meth lab more closely. (Sasha’s previously-stated plan was to try to disrupt the production of Euphorium by eliminating or adulterating one of the unknown ingredients, if they could be found. Presumably this kitchen is where said ingredients must be.)

Jeremiah and Korbin make their way down the corridor, into a warehouse and loading area, and to the far side of the second door leading to the kitchen. Cieran and Sasha (veiled by Cieran) wait near the kitchen door. Then, subtle as ever, Jeremiah bangs loudly on the door and prepares to kosh whoever comes through it.

For such a simple, one might say not overly intelligent plan (considering the guards are armed with Uzis and the PCs have one sword and a pool-ball-in-a-sock [and Korbin’s magic, of course]), it succeeds brilliantly. The PCs continue to roll like the heroes they are while the GM remains apparently unable to roll higher than zero. One guard pokes his upper body through the door and in a swift one-two, Jeremiah koshes him (aiming for the head but hitting the shoulder) while Korbin reprises his earlier sleep spell and knocks him out cold. Jeremiah and Korbin then hit the deck in order to avoid a handful of shots fired by the guard boss. Jeremiah grabs the first guard’s Uzi, deciding that a gun might not be such a bad thing to have after all.

Meanwhile, the second guard comes out the other door into the hallway where Cieran and Sasha are waiting. Cieran lunges at him and does so well he is able to skewer the guard through the forearm and make him drop his weapon. Sasha nips in and kicks the Uzi down the corridor, then changes her mind and runs to pick it up.

Jeremiah decides it’s time to get in the kitchen. He ducks, dives and rolls his way into the prep and cooking area. The two wizened child-like creatures are moving away in alarm, heading towards the back wall of the room, but the Danny de Vito-like goblin is ignoring the commotion and carrying on with his distillation. He seems quite intent.

Korbin, for his part, reckons it’s time to take out the guard boss. He crafts a masterful illusion of a grenade which he lobs over the half-wall that separates the kitchen area from the guard area, aiming at the place where the guard boss seems to have taken cover. He succeeds so well (against a terrible roll from the target) that the guard boss believes he’s hit and passes out.

At the same time, Cieran rips his blade out of the second guard’s arm and plunges it back in, this time directly through the heart. It’s a quick death. Barely pausing, Cieran enters the room and notes that the ‘grenade’ apparently didn’t do any damage whatsoever, although the guard boss is out cold on the floor next to the TV. He’s about to tie up that loose end for good when Sasha grabs his arm and stops him. Cieran shrugs and moves on.

Jeremiah, now in the middle of the prep area, stands up, brandishes the first guard’s Uzi, and yells “Freeze, suckas!”

The wizened child-like creatures ignore him. They are staring intently at the back wall of the room, which begins to shimmer as though through heat haze. The de Vito-like goblin has finally backed away from his cooking, but instead of joining his underlings by the slowly coalescing portal, he heads towards the commercial fridges.

Cieran notes with satisfaction that his hunch was right: the two sous-chefs are undoubtedly opening a portal to the Nevernever. He strides across the room to examine the stack of tubs and trugs. In the latter he sees the remains of plant stalks. In the former, he sees piles of what look like eyeballs sitting in a dark purple, sap-like liquid.

The session had to end there, because it was getting rather late for the poor UK players. Thus endeth the third of the minimum number of play sessions we needed to get done for the playtest.

–End of Session 3–