Saturday, June 22, 2019

Pathfinder 2 vs. D&D 5e vs, Savage Worlds and More

My brother and his family are visiting this summer, and he's started running Ghosts of Saltmarsh for us as a summer series. It's been fun so far, and we've just finished the first module, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. Here are a few pictures of our raid on the smugglers' ship from last night.




For those who are interested, by the way, here's a link to more pictures of my brother's projects.


This has brought a number of issues to my mind, including the following.

  • It's fun to be playing D&D again. I know that Pathfinder is 3rd Edition by another name, but still. 
  • The more rules-light take of 5e has been a nice change of pace. I ran Pathfinder for my 2017-18 campaign, and sometimes the heavy mechanics slow down the pace of play. 
  • Along those lines, I enjoyed running Savage Worlds for my 2018-19 campaign; it was a nice change of pace, and I still have plenty of material for future adventures. 
  • I've been hearing and reading mixed reviews for Pathfinder 2,  which makes me wonder if I want to buy into the new system. I could, of course, continue playing the old one, for which I have lots of books, but when I run games at conventions it's nicer when they are still widely available in print. 
  • Green Ronin also announced that they'll be relaunching their iconic Freeport setting--the one that started my interest in pirates and thus led to me creating this blog in the first place--for a new game system. Scuttlebutt has it that this will be Fantasy Age, Green Ronin's own game. I'm really torn about the idea of buying a new game just to be able to play in Freeport. 

Only time will tell...

-Nate

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Traveling Show

I've been working on a Savage Worlds/The Sixth Gun scenario for a gaming weekend that my brother and I are planning with some old college buddies; presented here are the pregenerated characters that I've made for it.

-Nate




Using these Characters
First and foremost, these characters are designed to be pregenerated heroes for use with the scenario “Truth and Consequences” along with any others that might follow it. To that end, players should select one of the roles, and then make up a name, descriptive details and perhaps even a background for each character. On the other hand, a GM could provide that information and thus use them as interesting NPCs for adding to adventures and campaigns.



Character:
Strong Person
All your life you've been bigger and stronger than others. Sometimes this has been helpful, but at other times people have been afraid of you. For that reason, you were recruited to join a traveling show, in order to perform feats of strength such as bending bars, lifting heavy objects and even wrestling unsuspecting locals. In this way you've also been able to earn the respect of your fellow entertainers, sticking up for them in difficult situations and when conflict arises.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Strength d10, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d10, Swimming d6, Throwing d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 7, Toughness: 6
Edges: Brawler, Brawny
Hindrances: Sluggish
Gear: Light clothing, folding knife (Range 3/6/12, Damage d10+d4, RoF 1), unarmed attack (Damage d10+2).

Notes




































Character:
Fortune Teller
You've always had a sense for things in this world beyond the perception of others, including magical auras and even the whispering voices of the dead. This has allowed you to gain valuable information for your own use—which has included convincing local dupes to pay you to hear word of their lost loved ones, unrealized aspirations, and the like. Your fellow entertainers do recognize that you've learned a lot, and thus are a fount of knowledge.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d4, Vigor d4
Skills: Fighting d4, Investigation d8, Knowledge d8, Notice d10, Persuasion d8, Spellcasting d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 5”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 4
Edges: Arcane Background (Sorcery)
Hindrances: Elderly
Powers: Detect/conceal arcana, dispel, grave speak; Power Points: 15.
Gear: Fancy clothing, spellbook, crystal ball, various spell components, walking stick—treat as a club (Damage d4+d4).

Notes


































Character:
Acrobat
You've always been quick on your feet, with fast reflexes and a light step. What is more, you're skilled at tumbling, juggling and similar feats, including the use of thrown weapons. You've even been able to turn that into viable employment, working as an acrobat in a traveling group of entertainers. Of course, the fact that you're good at climbing and as stealthy as a cat has also proven useful, albeit for less forthright endeavors in which you've been involved.
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d8, Stealth d10, Throwing d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Dodge, Quick
Hindrances: Overconfident
Gear: Light clothing, folding knife (Range 3/6/12, Damage d10+d4, RoF 1).

Notes




































Character:
Acrobat
You've always been quick on your feet, with fast reflexes and a light step. What is more, you're skilled at tumbling, juggling and similar feats, including the use of thrown weapons. You've even been able to turn that into viable employment, working as an acrobat in a traveling group of entertainers. Of course, the fact that you're good at climbing and as stealthy as a cat has also proven useful, albeit for less forthright endeavors in which you've been involved.
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d8, Stealth d10, Throwing d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Dodge, Quick
Hindrances: Overconfident
Gear: Light clothing, folding knife (Range 3/6/12, Damage d10+d4, RoF 1).

Notes




































Character:
Trick Shooter
Your pistols are like parts of your own body, extensions of your arms and hands. All your life you've had a knack for sharp shooting; you can hit a bird on the wing, and even shoot the aces out of a hurled deck of cards. You've put this skill to good use as a part of this traveling show. More recently, though, you've made good use of your guns in dealing with those locals who haven't taken a shine to the troupe's entertainments, or when you or one of your associates has committed some kind of offense.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Boating d8, Lockpicking d8, Riding d10, Shooting d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Marksman, Quick Draw
Hindrances: Impulsive
Gear: Cowboy clothing, two Colt Navy revolvers (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).

Notes




































Character:
Witch Doctor
You come from a culture beyond the ken of most people who live in America. For that reason, people regard you as a curiosity at best, and a dangerous freak at the worst. While this in many places has led you to be ostracized and even persecuted, you've found acceptance among a traveling group of entertainers who all have their own unusual qualities. Additionally, your ability to enhance, protect and even heal the others has made you a valuable and trusted member of the group.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Healing d8, Survival d8, Tracking d6, Tribal Medicine d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), New Power
Hindrances: Outsider
Powers: Boost/lower Trait, deflection, healing; Power Points: 10.
Gear: Primitive clothing, totem (you pick the animal), tomahawk (Range 3/6/12, Damage d6+d6, RoF 1).

Notes



































Character:
Barker
You have a strong voice and a way with words, two qualities that you've paired to make yourself into quite the salesperson. That has also allowed you to gather around yourself a curious (some might say freakish) group of individuals, all of whom have special talents that you incorporate into your traveling show. Now, it's been alleged from time to time that your cohorts engage in less scrupulous of their talents, but so far you've usually been able to talk your way through such accusations.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Knowledge d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Streetwise d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 4
Edges: Alertness, Command
Hindrances: Curious
Gear: Fancy clothing, Knuckleduster .22 (Range 5/10/20, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).

Notes



































Using the Traveling Show in The Sixth Gun Adventures and Campaigns
This group of interesting individuals can be used in many different ways, including the following possibilities.

  • They could stage their entertainments aboard the steamboat River Maiden, performing in each town at which it stops. This could be in conjunction with the Great River Poker Tournament, which is likely to attract people with bad intentions.
  • The New World Theater in Galveston, Texas is another good venue, although that could bring them into conflict with the Sisters of Salem—otherwise known as the Caliban Company—who are also agents of the Invisible College.
  • In this way, their acts might be paired with the Great River Poker Tournament or Miles Jameson's exhibition of Native American artifacts.
  • The characters' combined abilities make them capable retrieval specialists, ones who might be employed by the Pinkertons or the Black Stars.
  • Of course, they might also be in the thievery business for themselves, visiting various towns and pilfering what they can.
  • The traveling show would benefit from acquiring a collection of unusual items, such as the Hand of Glory, the aforementioned Native American artifacts, or the like.
  • Eventually this group will run afoul of nefarious people such as Angelica Smith or Edmond Bouchard, and conflict will ensue. 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Good (Free) Stuff from Dog House Rules



My interest in western RPGs was first piqued when, at Gen Con a few years back, I found a copy of the Sidewinder Reloaded RPG for sale at a discount. That was back when 3rd Edition was giving way to 4th, and a game that used d20 Modern as its core rules was being phased out. That book proved to be a remarkably comprehensive set of rules for running adventures in the western genre, and I was intrigued. What is more, I learned that the game's publisher, Dog House Rules, also produced some high-quality supplemental material, especially the Fort Griffin Trilogy of setting books and the lovely little scenario Johnny Comes Marching Home. Even so, I was also gradually losing my taste for the mechanically heavy d20 Modern system, and so never ran much with that rulebook. 

Not long thereafter, on Free Comic Book Day in May of 2011, I found a free copy of Oni Publishing's The Sixth Gun #1. I was hooked, and went on to collect that series for the following five years. I was also excited when I saw the Kickstarter for a Sixth Gun RPG from Pinnacle Entertainment Group, using the Savage Worlds rules. While I'd dabbled in writing and running scenarios using that RPG, most notably in the Pirates of the Spanish Main setting, I didn't have much experience with it. That quickly changed as I began developing ideas for a series of adventures that developed into my current campaign, which I call Manifested Destinies. 

It was to my pleasant surprise, then, when I learned that Dog House Rules was converting much of its d20 material over to Savage Worlds. That had already been the case with Johnny and two other adventures, but now is also the case for Fort Griffin. It was in looking at that hefty text that I also found the following three free supplements, part of their Six Guns line, each of which presents a group of historical NPCs ready for use in any kind of Savage Worlds western game.

The first of these supplements presents the notorious James-Younger gang. It provides stats, naturally, for Frank and Jesse James; Cole and Jim Younger; as well as Clell Miller and Arthur McCoy. It also provides printable half-page reference sheets for the characters, along with half a page of works cited, which I appreciate. 


Next up is a supplement dedicated to the Earps and Mastersons. It provides stats, of course, for Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp; and Bat, Ed and Jim Masterson. Once again there are half-page stat sheets and references for further reading. 


The third supplement is titled Wild and Woolly Women. The ladies presented in it include Calamity Jane, Belle Starr, Pearl Hart, Charley Parkhurst, Poker Alice Ivers, and Annie Oakley. This was the most interesting supplement to read, since the stories of these women were not as familiar as those of the preceding bandits and lawmen. Also, the list of references for this one is longer than those for the other two. 


Using These Supplements in Savage Worlds Western Adventures and Campaign
Presented below are just a few ways in which a GM (Judge) could work these characters into various plots.
  • As raiders and bank robbers, the members of the James-Younger Gang are synonymous with loot. This could include money or other items taken from various bank and train robberies, or even material from back during their days serving under the infamous Bill Quantrill during the heated conflicts of the Civil War.
  • Various members of the Earp and Masterson families served as deputies of the US Marshals; who is to say they weren't actually members of the Black Stars, tasked with investigating occult-related crimes and other such mysteries?
  • The women presented in the third supplement are such a colorful bunch that they could add drama to any adventure.