The latest gaming tag to do the rounds on Twitter is that of #RPGStruck4, where people post up images for 4 games that define them, my own post for it was this:
Each has been superceded by newer (and generally improved) editions but in terms of impact on my gaming these have each had a significant impact Torg Serenity Demon Hunters Legend of the Five Rings#RPGStruck4pic.twitter.com/Erc3gbg0gg
and while most people have been posting without explanation I wanted to briefly dig into why these four games are personally significant.
Torg – Long after it had gone out of print this was my introduction to tabletop gaming. I’d LARPed before, I’d participated in freeform play by posts but had never rolled dice or filled in a traditional character sheet. As an introduction to ttRPGs I couldn’t have asked for more. I was hooked and before long was itching to run my own game, largely thanks to how well Snap, our amazing GM, had run that first campaign.
Serenity – My first foray into GMing was… disastrous. A massive Firefly fan I’d eagerly picked up the game on its release and dived into learning the system which was very different from what I’d experienced up to that point. I’d prepped heavily, with a focus squarely on all the wrong things and the first session was a catalogue of errors. Somehow it didn’t put me off running games and Cortex quickly cemented itself into one of my go to systems, which neatly leads me on to…
Demon Hunters – As is evidenced by the plethora of posts about it you could say I’m a bit of a fan. While I knew of The Gamers it was the original Demon Hunters that made me a true fan of Dead Gentlemen Productions. It’s my go to light hearted setting, perfect for both one off sessions between campaigns as well as campaigns themselves. The setting can handle over the top chaotic slapstick as or serious urban fantasy (I tend to drift toward the former) and the writing is just as fun, to the extent that it’s almost as good to read as it is run. The second edition builds on the first with a new system, refreshed lore and brand new comic book look based on the short lived webcomic. Oh and a few adventures by yours truly.
Legend of the Five Rings – When it comes to games with hefty reputations few can compete with the world of Rokugan and it’s samurai society. The setting clearly defines not only the role of PCs within that society but sets out clear expectations for their behaviour and consequences for going against those very expectations. Framed by the tenets of Bushido and an honourable ideal it’s a world where doing the right thing almost always has consequences, in stark contrast to the kill, loot, profit style espoused by many D&D games. It’s not only a world that I love returning to but once that has influenced my wider thinking on the positioning of PCs within wider settings and idea of lasting consequences.
Following some final tweaking the first character sheet template is now complete as is the first release, the Aether Knight. Rarely encountered on the mortal planes Aether Knights serve as guardians of the veil between worlds and, in their natural form, neutral in the eternal fight between Good and Evil. Unfortunately as so often is the case their purpose can be tainted by those willing to shed blood to fuel illicit magics. Dragged into the moral realms they are used as nigh unstoppable assassins and hunters, bound to a mission until it is completed or they are destroyed.
Aether Knights represent a significant challenge for Chapters even at the highest level and are designed to be employed by the DM as opponents that must be out-thought rather than out-fought. With their invulnerability to physical weaponry, high number of conditions and ability to bypass mild conditions when using their sword they are an opponent that no group should take lightly.
Next up, adjusting the template for minions and mobs.
Version 2 of the Demon Hunters character sheet is pretty much complete and works out most of the issues with the original. It has all of the elements and is visually clearer with stunts moved to the right hand side of the sheet.
The spacing is much better but still not perfect. Looking at the page as a whole the columns on the left hand half would benefit from being reduced slightly in width while the text would also benefit from the alignment of the paragraphs.
The contents of the preview are for the first creature, the Aether Knight. As with the sheet it’s at a nearly there stage, I’m happy with the overall contents but need to tweak a few of the elements.
While the first five members of The Undesirables came together pretty smoothly I’ve hit something of a roadblock with the final member, a middle Eastern blood mage. Neither the aspects nor the stunts seem to be coming together so instead of struggling along with it I spent some time putting the character sheets and backgrounds for the other PCs together.
Ultimately these will be updated for inclusion in the final adventure but that’s a long way off. Short term my plan is to put together a starter and bundle them together so they are available for all. Until then you can download just the characters here: The_Undesirables
I’ve got a few Demon Hunters projects in the early stages of production right now. One is planning a game for my own stag weekend, which will kick off by getting my old group back together for a one-shot of Demon Hunters. The adventure I’m planning is actually part of a bigger mission, Rocket Demons of Antiquity. Ultimately the finished product will take place over two time frames, modern and the Victorian eras. For the latter, I intend to include a set of pre-generated characters, led by none other than Mina Harker from Bram Stokers Dracula. Her draft text is presented below:
Mina Harker, leader of the Undesirables
After their encounter with Dracula, the Harkers were brought into the Brotherhood by Abraham Van Helsing. They had already seen too much for any other option. While Johnathon rapidly progressed within the organisation Mina was side-lined thanks to the inherent sexism of the era and unspoken fears that she had been forever tainted by Dracula. Relegated to the archives she took it upon herself to form a team comprised of those who the Brotherhood considered incompatible with modern Victorian morals. Supernaturals, infernals, undesirables.
So long as they retain a spark of good within their souls Mina will work with them. Using insights gleaned from mission reports, historical records and the Brotherhood’s ability to tap into telegraph/telephone networks worldwide Mina directs this group of outcasts, operating outside and around Brotherhood channels and limitations. Her intellect and position within the Brotherhood ensures that her team are able to get to and deal with incidents that fall outside the remit of all but the highest Chapters.
Mystic arts d4
Covert ops d10
Social engineering d6
Combat & tactics d4
Concept: Ostracised mastermind archivist
Trouble: Forced to prove myself over and over
Discipline 1: Operating under the Brotherhood’s radar
Discipline 2: No detail too small
Discipline 3: Just a woman!?! I’ll show you, you $@&hole!
Stunt 1: Because I just need to collate the evidence I get +2 when I cleverly overcome or create advantages by piecing together existing clues
Stunt 2: Because I must be free to act despite the expectations of society once per session I may flawlessly fashion or obtain a disguise that will let me act freely in my current location (The disguise may be male or female but not of a specific individual)
Stunt 3: Because I will not fall under their control I get +2 when I forcefully overcome supernatural attempts to influence me
Happy Anniversary, the second episode from Demon Hunters: Slice of Life was released to Kickstarter backers this weekend and as with the first episode I have pledged to release an adventure starter inspired by the episode (you can find the first one here). I don’t want to drop any spoilers for the episode but suffice to say that it has already provided the seed of an idea centred around something I haven’t tried before: a hostage situation. The format will be the same as for Missionary Opposition, 3-4 pages with a combination of background, locations and NPCs. In place of the magical tome for the first mission I’m going to introduce something shamelessly stolen from The Sprawl – a mission clock with a twist, as well as being affected by the actions of the PCs it will serve as a timer for the mission. I’m still only fleshing out the details but my aim is for it to work akin to the GMs Demon Dice pool but restricted to a single roll to set the difficulty of the final skill challenge. In addition to adding dice over the course of the mission as a countdown character actions at crucial points will increase or decrease the pool, even if the reasons why aren’t immediately obvious to the players.
Alongside this adventure starter I have a second adventure in the works. This one is at a much earlier stage but will be getting a partial playtest when I GM it at my own stag party in a few weeks. Set, at least partially, during the Victorian era it will focus on a non-Brotherhood team. A team of outsiders, of outcasts. Of undesirables battling steampunk Rocket Demons.
Missionary Opposition is an Adventure Starter for Dead Gentlemen’s Demon Hunters: A Comedy of Terrors. It was inspired by the first episode of Demon Hunters: Slice of Life and is the first in a series that I’ll be releasing for the game. Going forward each will be based upon an episode of the series and will provide adventure inspiration in a condensed 3-4 page format. In the vein of Dungeon World’s adventure starters these are not fully fledged adventures but serve as building blocks. Within each you will find:
The Briefing – The background to the mission, an opening teaser and the core Mission Sinistra to guide your planning.
Locations – Important locales with suggested aspects, intel, threats and events. How they link together is left for the group to determine during play.
DMCs – The individuals and monsters central to the events detailed in the briefing. The aim is to detail the primary antagonist, a supernatural threat or mob and a normal who has been unwittingly caught up in events.
As always please do share, repost and reblog to spread the word that this is out there.