Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Strange Western Tales #7 - Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold, a Strange Western Tale for the Savage Worlds and Weird West systems in the Bullets and Tequila setting

Get Ready: A family of mountain moonshiners might have discovered the most wonderful cocktail of booze in the world. Now they'll have to defend it from the proprietors of an outlaw saloon.

Get Set: The Atkinson family has been living in the Ozarks for a generation and moonshining much longer than that. Their batches have never been as consistent as they'd like, but they've always made a consistent living from their home-brewed booze. But something about their new residence, whether it's the flowering trees or the burbling spring where they collect their water, has made the newest batch of 'shine something close to divine ambrosia. Clancy Atkinson, the family patriarch, originally started selling it to local cowpokes, who grew so enamored of it that they refused to go to local saloons. As a result, every place that sells booze in Pine Gulch is buying the 'Sunshine,' as it has come to be known. Billy and Lucky Atkinson, the younger sons of the clan, are the primary couriers of the shine, bringing a load of the stuff into Pine Gulch twice per week.

Go!: Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that the Atkinsons should be profiting from their good fortune. Betty Barton, the proprietor of the Cowpuncher Saloon, has gotten a group of her customers together, mostly outlaws and other unsavory types, to stage a coup of the Atkinson family estate. They plan to take the Atkinson family hostage and force them to produce the Sunshine for their own lucrative gain, exporting it outside of the Ozarks to points West and East.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Strange Western Tales #6 - The Red Spectre

The Red Spectre, a Strange Western Tale for the Savage Worlds and Weird West systems in the Bullets and Tequila setting

Get Ready: A masked vigilante has been responsible for the deaths of many ex-Confederate 'traitors to the cause.' Now, he's after one of your party.

Get Set: Spotted in towns all across the Kansas and Oklahoma territory, the Red Spectre still wears the gray long coat of a Confederate officer and a Jack Flag-style mask of the Stars and Bars. He kills his victims with point-blank shotgun blasts and marks where their bodies falls with the word 'Traitor' written in red. So far, 9 men and women have fallen to his trail of vengeance. The Pinkerton Detective Agency has an operative following the case (an excellent source for clues and a convenient dude to die before your PC)

Go!: The Red Spectre has a crew of Klan-style raiders devoted to his cause that he can call to action if his first assassination attempt fails. They don't try and be subtle: expect fire and brimstone on horseback

Notable NPCs

The Red Spectre
Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Fighting d8, Intimidation d10, Investigation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Notice d8, Riding d8, Shooting d10, Stealth d10, Streetwise d6, Taunt, d6, Tracking d8
Charisma: +0 (-4) Pace: 6 Parry: 7 Toughness: 6 (8)
Hindrances: Arrogant, Bloodthirsty, Vengeful, Wanted
Edges: Block, Command, Inspire, Marksman, Quick Draw, Steady Hands, Strong Willed, Trademark Weapon (Trusty Pigknuckle)
Gear: Trusty Pigknuckle (12/24/48, RoF 1-2, 1-3d6, +2 to Shooting), LeMat Pistol (12/24/48, RoF 1, 2d6, AP 1, underslung shotgun barrel), Chainmail Vest (+2 to Armor), quality horse

Home stretch

It's been a pretty hectic personal week for me, so getting to my September Short Adventures has unfortunately not been a priority. I'm going to see how many I can churn out this week (it'll have to be about 2-3 adventures per day at this point) but I want to finish what I started. School stopped me from finishing the April A to Z challenge and I'll be gol danged if it's gonna happen again.

Heist Plan #5 - The Curtain Call

The Job: The Curtain Call

The Set-Up: The City of Masks takes its opera very seriously. The only thing more elaborate than the sets and costumes are the riches on display in the audience. Every year, the largest opera production is the Black Ship of Vesperia at the Coronet opera house, a dramatic aria about the romance between a pirate captain and a princess imprisoned by a wizard. The box office alone takes in over 20,000 gold pieces, without factoring in donations or the sales of wine, not to mention how much money you could make kidnapping a lead player before their big number.

Why It's Impossible: The Coronet runs a very tight security shift. Unauthorized personnel are forcibly escorted from the wings of the theater by large men and women, but they're not the only ones. Cloaked guardians, floating inches above the ground patrol the halls of the theater, including the backstage, the cat walks and the dome ceiling that opens up onto the sky. No one knows where they came from, but every employee of the Coronet knows to stay clear of them. There's also the chance that you'll come across a doting aristocratic fan or scheming talent agent that might not take too kindly to outside observers.

The Cracks
  • There are tons of stagehands, costumers and chorus members all around the theater, ample opportunities to disguise one's self.
  • The catacombs under the opera house can be accessed through many different secret passages in the City, from the houses of Parliament to the brothels of the Red Quarter. Just watch out for cloaks
  • Bianca Corrovaddo, the alto playing the role of Lucretio, the milkmaid disguised as a male pirate, is getting sick of playing second fiddle in Coronet productions. If you come across her, she's willing to parlay: if you kidnap her and hold her for ransom, she'll cooperate completely in exchange for half the ransom. She's also willing to help your group kidnap another member of the cast for a finder's fee. If she's kidnapped against her will, she will be an awful prisoner.
The Twist: The cast of the Black Ship of Vesperia isn't completely human. Some of the more unearthly choruses are provided by a pair of harpies, who have exchanged their predatory lives for more comfortable existences.

Notable NPCs

Cloaked Creatures
HD 3; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 claw (1d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Paralyzing cry, cannot be hit by nonmagical weapons.

Glulinda and Parsimony, Harpy Chorus HD 4; AC 7 [12]; Atk 2 talons (1d3); Move 6 (Fly 18); Save 13; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Flight, Siren-song

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Strange Western Tales #5 - High Noon Run

High Noon Run, a Strange Western Tale for the Savage Worlds and Weird West systems in the Bullets and Tequila setting

Get Ready: A double agent informer for the Pinkertons needs your help to make it to the local Agency safehouse alive.

Get Set: Slim Garfunkle was a really crappy outlaw. But what skills he lacked at bushwhacking and safe blowing, he more than made up for with open ears and a welcoming disposition. After being caught during a robbery in Tulsa, Garfunkle was approached by the Pinkertons and recruited as an informer. The Agency engineered his escape and paid him $200 a month; in return, Garfunkle would send weekly letters to a safehouse, containing coded information on bandit movements, hideouts and planned robberies. Things were going great until two days ago, when one of the members of the Punch and Judy gang caught Garfunkle sending his letter and received a whack on the head for their trouble. Now Garfunkle's on the run and looking for someone to help him out.

Go!: The Pinkerton safehouse is in the small city of Red Fork, hidden in the back of a general store. The quickest route to get there is by train, but if it's known that Garfunkle's on the train, there will definitely be an awesome train gunfight. Ike and Wilma Teller, the husband and wife outlaws who head the Punch and Judy gang, have lost three men to the Pinkertons and they really want the responsible party dead.

Notable NPCs

Slim Garfunkle, confidential informant
Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Climbing d4, Fighting d6, Gambling d4, Investigation d8, Knowledge (Bank Robbing) d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d6, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d8
Charisma: 0 Pace: 8 Parry: 5 Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Thin Skinned (suffers an additional -1 for wound penalties), Enemy (Punch and Judy gang)
Edges: Alertness, Investigator, Fleet Footed
Gear: Colt Lightning (12/24/48, RoF 1, 2d6, AP 1)

Ike Teller, cranky old outlaw
Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Fighting d4, Knowledge (Explosives) d10, Lockpicking d4, Notice d6, Riding d6, Shooting d4, Streetwise d8, Survival d6, Taunt d6
Charisma: -1 Pace: 5 Parry: 4 Toughness: 6
Hindrances: Elderly, Habit (Tobacco, minor)
Edges: Command, Inspire, Level-Headed, Marksman
Gear: Shotgun (12/24/48, RoF 1-2, 1-3d6), Dynamite-firing crossbow (15/30/60, 2d6, MBT), 10 sticks of dynamite

Wilma Teller
Coming soon!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Strange Western Tales #4 - Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love, a Strange Western Tale for the Savage Worlds and Weird West systems in the Bullets and Tequila setting

Get Ready: A pair of mad scientist siblings and their respective goons battle for supremacy over a town with a nearby aluminum mine.

Get Set: Horace and Prescott Van Dyne both vied for their father's affection so fiercely that their rivalry only grew after an untimely lightning accident ended the half-crazed scientist's life. Now both have their eyes set on the town of Zenith, who have been waiting on the Alcoa company to assess their newly discovered veins of aluminum oxide. For each brother, the metal could prove to be the tipping point in their war against each other: Horace's boiler suits (big fireproof diving helmet suits with flamethrowers) could be made lighter and more protective, while Prescott's fleet of war balloons would be armored and could carry more powerful weaponry. The citizens of Zenith are terrified of the lunatic factions that have overtaken their town and refuse to leave the laundry and dry goods store; just about every other building is occupied by one gang or another.

Go!: Each faction has its camp set up around Zenith: Horace's men have taken over the town hall and Prescott has made an Ikea-like construction around the water tower. Each vie for the mines located outside of Zenith, but the air rifles of the ballooners or the coal-boiling behemoth motor cart of the boilers have created a stalemate. The PCs could turn the tides toward one brother or the other, or take the whole operation down, Yojimbo-style.

Notable NPCs

Boiler Suit Goons
Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Fighting d6, Intimidation d4, Notice d4, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Survival d4
Charisma: 0 Pace: 5 Parry: 5 Toughness: 6 (7/10)
Edges: None
Gear: Flamethrower (Cone template, 2d10, ignores Armor, 5 shots), Boiler Suit (+1/+4 vs Fire, reduced Speed to 5)
Note: You can target the fuel tank (-2), which causes a blowback explosion (2d10 damage to goon)

Air Crew
Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Climbing d6, Fighting d6, Notice d8, Piloting d6, Shooting d6, Taunt d4
Charisma: 0 Pace: 6 Parry: 5 Toughness: 5
Edges: Steady Hands
Gear: Air Rifle (20/40/80, RoF 1, 2d6+2, AP 2), boating knife (2d4), Navy coat, nice moustache

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Heist Plan #3 - Hot Potato

The Job: Hot Potato

The Set-Up: In a previous score, one of the PCs has come into possession of a beautiful cats-eye gem. The stone is bad luck, through and through. If the PC has tried to sell it, it continues to return to their possession in increasingly bizarre ways and just makes their luck worse. Usual fences refuse to buy the stone again and are starting to shy away from the group entirely. Now you've got to figure out a way to get rid of this cursed piece of rock before it destroys all of your lives.

Why It's Impossible: Whoever enchanted this rock was not messing around. Any local artificers or lay clerics you know can't seem to break the curse on your party member. You'll either need to get the help of a very divine cleric (who might not be sympathetic to your plight) or talk to the gem's previous owner about it (who's beefed up his or her home security after the PCs took off with their possessions.) Neither way seems like a good idea.

The Cracks
  • It would be much easier to talk to the former owner of the gem outside of their fortress-like abode. Going to meet a client, shopping for new jewelry or furniture, the possibilities are endless.
  • Indol the Left-Handed is the high priest of the God of Thieves (or your game's trickster god equivalent). He's got the divine know-how to remove the curse from your party member, but owing him a favor is probably worse than their current predicament.
The Twist: Your previous mark couldn't be happier that you've taken the gem. They've been trying to get rid of it for years to no avail. The defenses that are being constructed are not to prevent any further thefts; they're meant to keep the PCs from ever trying to return the gem.

Notable NPCs

Indol the Left-Handed, 8th level Cleric St 9 In 13 Wi 16 Cn 14 De 10 Ch 16, 40hp, Ring of Protection +1, Leather Armor +1, Wayfinder (short sword +1, locate objects), Scarab of Protection

Card Hunter: A Different Sort of Virtual Tabletop

Somehow, while looking through my Steam library, I came across a link from my XCOM: UFO Defense entry to an interview with Jon Chey, one of the co-founders of Irrational Games and the developer of a new online game called Card Hunter.

I think this game might be the closest thing I have ever seen to tabletop gaming on a computer.

In their own words:

Card Hunter is an online collectible card game with some twists:

  • It’s free to play and you win cards by playing the game, not by buying expensive booster packs.
  • Search dungeons to find treasure and then equip your loot to build out your decks.
  • Use your cards to move your characters and battle monsters’ decks.

We’re taking two great flavours and combining them into something new. Classic fantasy adventuring meets collectible card gaming!

Tired of pressing buttons while grinding away at quests? Card Hunter is all about skill – your skill at deck building and playing your cards. Tired of paying for endless new card sets? Card Hunter lets you win by playing, not by paying.

The game is being designed by many former members of the Irrational Games team, as well as Kevin Kulp, a game designer who "once won Best DM for three years running with Gen Con’s RPGA." Oh, and Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias of Magic: the Gathering fame. Honestly, the person I'm most excited about is Ben Lee, who was the artistic director behind all of the Silver Age goodness of Freedom Force and seems to be putting that same kind of thematic dedication into all of the preview art for Card Hunter.

Seriously, check out that old-school flavor! If that doesn't make you excited, I don't know what will.

(All images linked from Card Hunter's gallery page: http://www.cardhunter.com/gallery/)

Friday, September 16, 2011

So, City State of the Invincible Overlord...


For the past two weeks, I've started playing in a Castles and Crusades game at seemingly the only FLGS in the South Jersey area. Though the most recent campaign is usually run by our blogging buddy Drance from Once More Unto the Breach!, this week's game was run by the group's previous DM in the City State of the Invincible Overlord.

What a location!

The previous campaign had started in March and as a result, there were plenty of stories to be told about the Church of the All-Seeing Eye, conflicts between rival merchant houses manufactured by the PCs and a giant underground combat in a buried temple to some sort of Giant Spider God. This session was mostly focused on continuing havoc caused in the city state by working to fulfill the prophecies developed by the abolitionist group cum religion known at the table as the All-Seeing Eye. Our efforts to purchase gunpowder in order to collapse the eastern wall of the massive obsidian Cryptic Citadel proved fruitful, but once we entered the palace (thanks to the barbarian's possession of the Eagle's Talon, a magic sword once owned by the 4th Invincible Overlord), we discovered that it was completely hollow and occupied by a giant tentacled eyeball that looked at us, caused a brief dose of vertigo, then closed back up.

When we left the temple to retrieve more explosives, we found the city in ruins, burnt and demolished with a giant web-encrusted hand smashed down on top of our warehouse. After a bit of confusion, we discovered that we were now shrunk down and inhabiting a full-scale model of the City State that the PCs had encountered while fighting the Spider God's forces earlier in the campaign. We went to return to the pyramid to fix things, triggered the eyeball again, then returned to a pristine model of the City State with no one around.

Now, most people would stop and think about this situation at this time. But not us! We went and triggered the eyeball at least 3 more times before realizing that we were now five levels deep inside the original burned model and about the size of specks of dust. And that was when the adventure ended.

So, next week?

(Image from the Judges' Guild website: http://www.judgesguild.com/images/misc/csio_ca.jpg)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Something I feel like I should share...

I listen to audio books while I cook, clean and do my walks around my new hometown. Today, I started a Western story called The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion, written by Loren D. Estleman, a funny and decidedly cinematic Western novel with a phenomenal introduction that I think captures what I want to do with a Western RPG. What follows is a selection of that first chapter, trimmed a bit as to try and avoid copyright infringement:

Most of what follows took place in the West.

Not just any West.

It was the West of legend and suckling-memory, where drifters caked head to heel with dust swilled red-eye whiskey at long mahogany bars, punching holes in the tin ceilings with their big Colts to impress their half-naked, quartz-eyed hostesses; where buffalo thunder across gaunt desert, grass ocean, and the great mountain ranges where the earth showed its tusks, stopping only to splash in the wallows and scratch their burlap hides against the cowcatchers of the Central and Western Pacific and the mighty Atchison; where red-lacquer Concords barreled down the western face of the Divide, pulled by teams of six with eyes rolling white, whips cracking like Winchesters above their heads; where glistening black locomotives charged across trestles of latticework oak, burning scrubwood in greasy black steamers and blasting their arrogant whistles; where highwaymen in slouch hats and long dusters pulled bandannas up over their faces and stepped suddenly from behind boulders, firing at the sky and bellowing at shotgun messengers to throw up their hands and throw down the box; where all the towns were named Lockjaw and Busted Straight, Diablo and Purgatory and Spunk.

A West where all the gamblers wore linen and pomade and dealt aces from both sides of the deck and derringers from inside their sleeves; where cowboys ate beans and drank coffee around campfires to harmonica music, and everything was heavily seasoned with tin. At sunup, drowsy and stiff, the cowboys drove undulating herds of grumbling, lowing, high-strung longhorns past ridges where feathered warriors balanced their horses square on the edge, bows and lances raised against the sky while the brass section blared and kettle drums pounded. Gun battles cleared busy streets in a twinkling and bullets rang off piles of rock in the alkali flats with p-tweeeeeee!, kicking dust into the eyes of lawman and outlaw alike. The U.S. Cavalry was invincible, and bandits and gunfighters were celebrities, trailing battalions of paparazzi in brown derbies: Custer had yet to stand on his hill, Jesse to turn his back on Bob, and Wild Bill to draw his fabled hand. All the wagon trains came with concertinas, and all the undertakers and hangmen looked like John Carradine.

... It was the West of Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and Billy the Kid; but it was also the West of William S. Hart, Roy Rogers and John Wayne. It was big enough to encompass the bombastery of Buffalo Bill and Cecil B. DeMille and the skullduggery of the bloody brothers Harte.

This was Johnny Vermillion's West; a West that should have been, but never quite was.
Yep, I think that covers a lot of it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Strange Western Tales #3 - Pedal to the Metal

Pedal to the Metal, a Strange Western Tale for the Savage Worlds and Weird West systems in the Bullets and Tequila setting

Get Ready: Defiance, Utah is hosting the unveiling of the world's first prototype motor carriage! How long will it take until someone tries to steal it?

Get Set: Chosen as an automotive testing grounds for the nearby salt flats, Defiance is a pious town taking in a glut of Eastern journalists and engineers out of territorial pride. Cyrus Lipscombe, the inventor of the motor carriage, is a good Mormon boy who intends to manufacture his creation in Utah. This insistence on keeping the potential wealth out of the hands of industrialists and robber barons is the primary reason that two teams of spies and thieves have embedded themselves in the crowds of press and supporters descending on Defiance. Neither group is aware of the other and clashes will most likely occur.

Go!: The thieves will try and make off with the motor carriage at night, killing the guards or knocking them unconscious. If the carriage is well-protected or one group brings itself out in the open, the other will attempt to steal it during the trials on the salt flats. However, there is only so much of the experimental oil solution that powers the vehicle, so it will eventually have to be drawn by horses or pulled by a wagon.

Notable Stats

Motor Carriage: Acc/Top Speed 5/15; Toughness: 10 (2); Crew: 1+3

Mortimer Buckles, JP Morgan's man in Utah
Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Driving d6, Fighting d6, Investigation d8, Knowledge (Business) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting d6, Streetwise d8
Charisma: +0 Pace: 5 Parry: 5 Toughness: 7
Hindrances: Obese, Vow (Work for JP Morgan)
Edges: Combat Reflexes, Command, Inspire, Investigator, Level Headed
Weapons: Volcanic repeater (12/24/48, RoF 1, 2d6, AP 1)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Strange Western Tales #2 - The Best Around

The Best Around, a Strange Western Tale for the Savage Worlds system in the Bullets and Tequila setting

Get Ready: "A martial arts tournament held during the American Civil War by Emperor Norton with several shadowy tongs and cartels backing it. Draws in all sorts of fighters from around the world." (shamelessly stolen from Conrad Grey on RPGNet)

Get Set: Emperor Norton, the eccentric quasi-monarch of San Francisco, has become enamored of hand-to-hand combat after being introduced to Kung-Fu by the inhabitants of the city's Chinatown district. He has become consumed with a desire to observe and test the prowess of every type of martial art that he can observe. As word of his obsession begins to spread across San Francisco, a consortium of Chinese tongs decide to assist the Emperor in sponsoring a tournament. The Suey Sing, Bing Kong and Hop Sing tongs agree to a tenuous truce for profit's sake and work with Emperor Norton to set up the tournament, while controlling all of the gambling profits on the side.

Each tong has a champion included in the contest and impeccably monogrammed invitations from the Emperor have been sent all over the globe, to French Savate stars, English catch wrestlers, Japanese jiujutsu masters and many more (maybe even to a PC of yours!)

Go!: The Norton Invitational will definitely have underhanded dealings, personal sabotage, conspiracies and metric tons of people being kicked in the face. However, the biggest threat to the competition and the profits made is probably the Kwang Duck tong. Excluded from the tournament planning, the Kwang Duck will most likely attempt to destroy the tournament as the finals are reached. A newly acquired Gatling gun will be the star attraction.

Notable NPCs

Guo Liaushu, tong champion
Agility d10, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Climbing d6, Fighting d10, Knowledge (Cooking) d6, Notice d8, Riding d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d8
Charisma: +2 Pace: 6 Parry: 8 Toughness: 6
Hindrances: Arrogant
Edges: Attractive, Block, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Martial Artist, Quick, Superior Kung-Fu (Shaolin Temple)

Arthur Armstrong, English wrestling star
Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d10, Vigor d10
Fighting d10, Intimidation d8, Notice d6, Repair d6, Shooting d4, Streetwise d4, Survival d6
Charisma: -2 Pace: 5 Parry: 7 Toughness: 8
Hindrances: Ugly, Slowpoke
Edges: Brawny, Improved Nerves of Steel, Martial Artist, Superior Kung-Fu (Shuai Chao [Catch Wrestling]), Sweep

Friday, September 9, 2011

Strange Western Tales #1 - The House Always Wins

The House Always Wins, a Strange Western Tale for the Savage Worlds and Weird West systems in the Bullets and Tequila setting

Get Ready: There are anachronistic old-timey billboards advertising a 'Gambler's Paradise' called Hutter's Fortune in the Nevada Territory. When the PCs arrive, they find a small town built around a massive casino called the Silverlode. Are the odds really fair?

Get Set: Hutter's Fortune mostly consists of rows of hotels and boarding houses, a general store or two, some cafes and a church, all radiating off from the Silverlode casino. The Silverlode is basically a modern casino if built in the Wild West. There are tables for every game you can think of, showgirls and saloon music, a gigantic bar offering Eastern and European delicacies like absinthe alongside the bar whiskey and tequila and much more. Table monitors dressed in the style of Pinkerton agents keep the peace and remove gamblers who accuse the house of cheating. The casino's owner, Jacob Hutter, comes out onto the casino floor every once in a while and interacts with patrons and staff before retreating once more into the lower levels of the casino.

Go!: The basement of the Silverlode is one gigantic Bond-villain-lair level con operation. Dozens of operators, statisticians and guards work at rigging the outcome of each table through the use of magnets, trick decks and any other nefarious dealings that you can think of. At the center of it all is a constantly clicking Babbage Engine-style machine, spitting out a line of tickertape calculating profits and losses.

Weird Western Twist: The central Babbage machine is actually sentient and will attempt to protect itself with claw grabbers and other industrial machinery should it be attacked.

Notable NPCs

Jacob Hutter, Casino owner
Casino guards
(*) Sentient Babbage engine

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heist Plan #2 - Brothel in the Sky

So, the Labor Day weekend is finally finished and I am back in the South Jersey saddle. Time to catch up on these adventures.

The Job: Brothel in the Sky

The Score: There are plenty of tall towers in Quohal, but only one of them has no visible way of entering. Locals call it the Sparkling Spire and rumor has it that this ornate structure is the home of the Emperor's secret harem, full of lovely women of all races and creeds collected by the monarch over his exceptionally long life. If the finery of its parapets are any indication of the wealth within, it would be a hell of a score. Maybe in more ways than one.

Why It's Impossible: Seriously, there's no way into the tower from the ground. Everyone that you know in Quohal has tried, but there's nothing: no illusory walls, no concealed door, nothing. From what you can see of the structure, it goes up 15 stories before the tower even starts having windows. Even once you've reached these upper levels, there's no telling what lies beyond them.

The Cracks
  • Though there's no possible entrance at street level, intrepid adventurers may take to the sewers below Quohal, where a secret tunnel guarded by monstrous humanoids leads to a secret way in: one really, really long ladder. Feel free to put Elmer Bernstein's The Stairs on in the background while the players figure out how not to fall off while they ascend hundreds of feet of ladder.
  • The PCs could also try reaching the tower by the air. The sheer stone surface of its lower half is studded with balconies, buttresses and other potential handholds. They just require you to have some sort of very high vantage point or perhaps a flying getaway driver.

The Twist: What the rest of the city thinks is just an elaborate house of pleasure is actually the real seat of Quahol's government. The real Emperor died decades ago within the Spire's gilded walls and ever since, the denizens of the Sparkling Spire have collectively taken his place. This council includes a multitude of races, including human, elves, dwarves, bound dryads (their trees are located within the tower) and even a doppelganger, who impersonates the Emperor in public. Any adventurer who makes his or her way up to the highest reaches of the Spire will definitely become involved in these machinations as a knowledgeable party.

  • Sewer Creatures: HD 2; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d3) or by weapon (1d8); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Blindsense 60 ft., Camoflague (75% chance of not being noticed while waiting in ambush.)
  • Elder Dryads: HD 5; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 life drain (1d8 + 1d8 healing); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Charm Person (-2), Entangle (as Web), Plant Growth.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Heist Plan #1 - Mutiny on the Dowry

The Job: Mutiny on the Dowry

The Score: The heir apparent of your city's nobility, Prince Heinrich, has just celebrated his wedding nuptials with the Lady Mernau, the fair and somewhat older daughter of the Duke of Okkuz. Their honeymoon journey will consist of a carriage caravan transporting the happy couple and their respective entourages between Okkuz and your fair city. Though most of the gentry assume that this is just an overly public and traffic-causing ceremony, you've learned that the real purpose of this cross-kingdom convoy is to transport all of the new princess's worldly possessions to her new home.

Why It's Impossible: There is never a point where the caravan is unguarded. Soldiers from both Okkuz and your home city have been assigned to protect the newlyweds, not to mention the constant swarm of servants, drivers and other support personnel. If even one carriage goes missing, the entire procession will lock down and the militaries of both cities will be tasked to bring you in at any cost.

The Cracks
  • The aforementioned swarm means that disguised folks can easily 'join up' with the caravan, provided that they have a good enough story.
  • At night, the caravan runs on a skeleton crew of paid professionals. If they can be distracted or misdirected, the rest of the caravan will be relatively unprotected.
  • Lady Mernau's entourage only contains a single wizard, Flidwick Pontos, who tends to enjoy a good drink. From what you can gather with your magical senses, only the prince and princess's carriages are protected by spells.
The Twist: The gems, gold and other finery in the caravan are protected by another guard entirely. Flidwick Pontos's real talent is not in sorcery, but magical tinkering. Concealed within the majority of wealth-bearing carriages are mechanical sentries disguised as brooches, lamps, candlesticks and other potentially stealable items.

  • Brooch Bug HD 1d4; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 bite (1d2 + paralysis); Move 9; Save 18; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Immune to Sleep, Charm, Hold Person; Paralytic Bite (Save or Paralyzed for 2d4 turns)
  • Lantern Sentry HD 1; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 flame spout (1d6 fire damage); Move 9; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Immune to Sleep, Charm, Hold Person

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A September of Short Adventures

Every once in a while, the Old School blogosphere has these collaborative events, both official and unofficial: the April A to Z project, Zak's Secret Arneson Gift Exchange and Gigacrawler and the most recent Building a Better GM, inspired by ckutalik's over at the Hill Cantons. Of the different events that I have taken part in, I've always felt that they have at least encouraged me to post more regularly, if not more competently.

This month, Matt at Asshat Paladins convened a little challenge called the September of Short Adventures, where each of the participants will create 25 compact adventure scenarios over the course of the month. If anything, something like this is just what I've been looking for to keep me hunched over my notebook on a part-time basis while I look for work.

I intend to create a series of different adventures, capers and conflicts for at least two different settings and systems during this September: Bullets and Tequila, my cinematic Wild West adventures with a slight twist towards the strange, and Heist D&D, presenting thefts, swindles and break-ins for use with Old School fantasy-type RPGs. Where stats are concerned, B&T will be dual statted in Savage Worlds and Stuart Robertson's Weird West RPG and Heist D&D will be put together in Swords and Wizardry-style Ascending and Descending AC.