Saturday, February 27, 2016

Battle for Zorpel: the Sensor Array

This is report #10 in the Battle for Zorpel.

The human soldiers had to retrieve components from a sensor array in the ruins of another outpost. The robots had the mission to destroy the same sensors.
Board setup. The sensor array is the blue box near the ruins.
The humans started in a patch of woods. James moved first but one of the robots spotted him and fired. The laser shots nearly hit him and, being in the open, he ran away. Then Mack had the idea of tossing a smoke grenade at the robots. He moved out of the woods, avoided enemy fire and tossed the grenade at the enemies, blocking their sight [the grenade impact point is marked with the red slime]. Igor then rushed to the ruins. The robots then dashed into the nearby patch of woods and Mack took cover in the ruins.
The grenade landed on the perfect spot. Too bad it was too late to make much of a difference.
The robots then moved out of the woods. Mack fired at them with no effect. One robot took down Mack, the other took down Igor. Karl fled before he suffered the same fate.
A terrifying sight: the robot team storms out of the woods firing their lasers.
A terrible defeat for the humans, and campaign progress is back to 0. Karl raised to level 2 rifleman, and James remained a level 1 Scout.

I did not remember to use the smoke grenade until James suffered a bail result from reaction fire. If I had, the humans might have been able to win.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Soldiers for MapTool

I have created a simple pack of top-down tokens of sci-fi soldiers in light armor, suitable for colonial forces or scout squads. These include soldiers with rifles, a heavy repeating laser and sergeants with submachine guns, all in four skin tones. Here is the preview:
The compressed file with all tokens and the Inkscape file used to build them can be obtained clicking here. The files are shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Battle for Zorpel: Medical supplies

This is report #9 in the Battle for Zorpel.

In this mission, James, Karl and Leon must recover medical supplies in an abandoned outpost, while a robot team must complete their patrol. [Human objective is the yellow marker with a cross, robot objectives are the three blue ones.]
Game setup
The human soldiers crossed the patch of woods to approach the abandoned buildings. Karl saw the robot patrol approaching and ran into the woods. James moved ahead and got the supplies, while the robots advanced. Leon moved out of the woods and shot one of the robots down.
"But I saw the human enter the woods!"... "Surprise!" BOOM
One robot entered the patch of woods while the other set an ambush on the corner of a nearby building. However, Karl rushed to provide cover for James. As James moved out of the building, a quick exchange of fire ensued, with the humans taking down the ambushing robot.
Ok, now let's get out of here before anyone gets hurt by a bad die roll...
Before the remaining robot managed to get out of the woods, the human trio dashed out of the outpost. A laser blast burned a mark on Karl's helmet but he was not hurt.

The mission was a success and Karl was promoted to rifleman. Campaign progress advanced to +2.

Leon was reassigned to another platoon, but Mack (level 1 Support) arrived [I rolled the campaign events Recruit and Reassigned].

The next mission will be a standard military mission in 4 campaign days, so Igor will join the team.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Vagrant - leaving New Hope

"Captain's log #0192," Winston paused to hold a chuckle. "We are on our way to Letos II, after contact with what I suppose were Hishen slavers." Pingh sighed, "You suppose? In the Hishen navy this statement would get you punished! After all this time, you still find it funny to play captain of the ship?" The Hishen twitched his small hands in the air. "Why don't you go check on our passenger?", Winston answered in an annoyed tone. Pingh didn't answer as he left the bridge.

This is the first report on the Vagrant campaign. Our crew started in New Hope City, after a failed meeting with someone who would buy the data pack from Winston.

Month #1
While Winston's team decided what to do, he received a call from someone who might be interested in the data he was selling. [ This was a random event: a Chillin' encounter at a Low End tavern. ] Winston was not sure what this was about, but ended going to the meeting alone. On the way, he met a Xeog named Kay who also seemed to be looking for work but was not impressed by Winston's talk.
The meeting place was named "Astra," a dirty tavern in the Low End district. Winston ordered a drink and waited a couple of hours -- nothing.

As he left, late in the night, a ganger tried to rob Winston. The young bandit was nervous, firing his pistol before Winston could try anything. Luckily, he missed and Winston fired back. He didn't bother to check if the guy was dead. A few days later, the police interrogated him about the crime but let him go.

Later in the month, Winston got a job with a Transporter. Apparently, a fellow investigative reporter, a Hishen name Keorn, needed to go to Letos II but didn't want to use a regular passenger ship. Letos was on the 5th ring, hot in the dispute between Gaea Prime and the Hishen. Still, the pay would be good and Winston was getting tired of New Hope, so he accepted the deal.

The Vagrant - a Transport-class ship
Month #2
While preparing for the travel to Letos II, Winston was called again for an interrogation by the police about some random crime in the Low End district. Maybe he got into their suspects list after the shoot out with the robber...

Finally, the crew set out to Sector 1 of the 3rd Ring, a necessary step to jump out to the 5th Ring. On their way, they met a Gaea Prime trader ship and a Star Navy cutter. In both cases, Winston's charismatic personality allowed him to avoid any trouble. [ The ships were due to the resolution of possible enemy forces for the month. ]

Month #3
Before they could make the jump, the Vagrant was intercepted by a Gaea Prime military ship. Winston transferred the ship's and crew records, knowing that these patrols were more concerned with pirates and infiltrators. Still, all this contact with Gaea Prime ships made Keorn anxious.

The team finally jumped into the 5th Ring, and Letos II was in Sector 1 (the same as the jump gate.) On the last leg of the journey, they were greeted by the independent businessmen that roam the space farther from Gaea Prime domain. First, a small Zhuh-Zhuh pirate ship approached them but somehow Winston managed to intimidate them into looking elsewhere for prey. Then a Hishen trade ship approached. Tanya detected their scanners inspecting the Vagrant. Not to take any chances, Pingh passed for ship's Captain and dismissed them.

For now, Winston's lifetime total rep dice remains at zero but that should change after he arrives at Letos II.

Only as I was writing this report I noticed that the player can keep resolving PEFs during a Chillin' encounter -- so it is still possible to find someone interested in selling or buying contraband even if the original contact was not found. Of course, this makes things more risky...

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Battle for Zorpel: Sneaky Robots

This is report #8 on the Battle for Zorpel.

Following a successful offensive, the humans repel the skelebots from another settlement. In this mission, James (carrying the detonation charges), Karl and Leon must destroy a robot power core that was detected in the woods, probably left behind as the robots retired. Meanwhile, a group of robot scouts is in the same area, intent on retrieving a data storage system (which was not even detected by the human command.)
Game setup. Robots at the top edge with red bases, soldiers at the bottom edge, with blue bases. The human objective is marked in red, the robot objective is marked in yellow.
The human team moved in between the ruins and woods, watching carefully for enemy contact. They knew some robots might still be in the area but their mission was very clear.
[Both sides moved avoiding contact. The robots left a sentinel to guard the human objective while the other two went for their own objective, which was reached by the fourth turn.]

Leon's energy tracker indicated that the energy core was close. He and James stepped into the woods in a coordinated movement and surprised a robot sentry, firing their rifles until it dropped to the ground. Meanwhile, Karl was standing guard near the ruins. In a moment of distraction, two skelebots dashed past him before he could fire.
[The robots started to get away with the data system, while the human soldiers managed to attack and destroy the enemy sentry.]
Robots rolled a Scurry turn, avoiding the human sentry. Then the humans rolled a firefight and killed the robot sentry.
Karl warned his companions over the commlink and moved towards them. James was concentrated setting the demolition charge on the energy core, but Leon moved out of the woods in time to fire at one of the robots as they escaped.
[In the seventh turn, the robot carrying the data system left the board. Then the humans set their demolition charge, and Leon caused the remaining skelebot to bail.]

The three soldiers reported their action to their commander, still unsure of what the robots were doing there, and why they avoided engaging.

This was a human victory, 8 points to 5. However, as both sides achieved their objectives and the robots rolled higher for overall progress, the campaign progress score decreased to -1. Then I rolled a "War Advances" random event, which pushed the progress score back to 0.

Leon was promoted to rifleman. The next mission will be a regular mission after 2 campaign days, so Igor will not be available yet.

The second mission in this campaign had similar parameters but the different setup changed the game entirely.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Vagrant - a 5150 campaign

Following my playtest review of Fringe Space, I decided to continue Winston's adventures as a campaign using rules from Fringe Space and 5150 Urban Renewal.

The idea is to play an open-ended campaign. Every six months (campaign turns) I will evaluate Winston's situation to decide if the campaign should go on. Of course, if Winston dies along the way, the campaign is over.
The Vagrant crew
The campaign is named after Winston's ship, a trader class vessel. The ship crew consists of Winston, acting as captain of the ship, Pingh and Tanya (42 years old Basic female, Rep 3, Initiative, Poser, Resilient). Axor just hangs by while on the ship.

The campaign will start where my last report left: Winston and friends are at New Hope City, with a data stick full of stolen corporate information.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Battle for Zorpel: Salvage

This is report #7 on the Battle for Zorpel.

In this mission, the human soldiers must salvage some electronics left in a ruined area overgrown with vegetation. A robot patrol spotted them and moved in to destroy the equipment or kill any soldiers.

The humans are Igor (grunt), James (level 1 Scout), Karl (grunt) and Leon (grunt). There are two regular robots, one riflebot and one assault robot.
Board setup for the mission.
The humans went first and reached their objective right away. The robots approached, trying to attack their objective [I rolled to choose if they would attack the humans (1-4) or focus on their objective (5-6), the result was a 5]. Meanwhile, Igor was positioned to cover the approach of other robots.

A robot grunt entered Igor's field of view. He fired but missed, then the robot took him out of action. In the nearby woods, while Karl retrieved the salvage, Leon fired at the robots. One of them was destroyed, the other bailed out [this happened during a firefight turn].
Igor is taken out of the fight by the approaching skelebot.
The riflebot moved back into the woods, but Karl snap fired at it, knocking it down. Meanwhile, the other robots advanced and fire at their second objective.
One robot out of action, another knocked down.
Having completed their mission, the soldiers moved out, dragging Igor with them.

This was a victory for the human soldiers, made easier by the random assignment of map edges for the forces. The campaign progress is back to zero (from -2 in the previous game).

Igor was seriously wounded and it will take 10 campaign days to recover.

The next mission will be a standard military mission after 4 campaign days, so Igor will not be available.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tunnels and Trolls Classic Solos

As a backer of the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls crowdfunding, I also received the Adventurers Compendium (in PDF format.) It is a compilation of 10 solo adventures (and some GM adventures too), originally published from 1978 to the early 80's. Looking for a quick RPG fix, I decided to try some of them (being fully aware that many of them are brutal.)

To keep to "old school" traditions, I rolled a character (although Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls does have an option for point-buy character creation.) Thus was born Brelok, the rogue. From his attributes, we can see that Brelok is quite frail and not really charming; an odd, twitchy man hiding in the shadows and stealing what he needs:

Brelok (level 1 human rogue)
STR 6, CON 17, DEX 4, SPD 14
IQ 12, WIZ 5, LK 13, CHR 4
Personal adds: +3
Talents: lock-picking, stealth
Items: high quality dagger (2d6+4), 20x caltrops, leather armor (3 hits), lock picks, basic delver's package, 6gp.

(Note: personal adds are a bonus added during combat by the character. For those curious about this game, there is a free short version of the rules.)

The wannabe warrior
And off went Brelok for a stroll in the wilds, only to be captured by barbarians, stripped of his possessions and put to a trial to determine if he is the reincarnation of a legendary king. That is how the mini solo adventure "Kingmaker" starts. It did not last very long: in the first trial, Brelok was crushed in combat against a much tougher opponent.

After such a quick career, Brelok went to the Abyss, a solo adventure for dead characters, included in the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls book. Not that he fared much better there, being dragged to hell by a demonic creature right away.

The smuggler
In a parallel dimension, Brelok II tried to smuggle drugs into the city of Gull, in the solo adventure "Golden Dust, Red Death". Not only did he make a good job of it, but he gained 2000gp and 1000 adventure points. 

With these gains, Brelok II raised STR to 8, DEX to 7, SPD to 17, LK to 15. These changes increased his personal adds to +8. He also purchased a high quality shortsword (3d6+4) and a suit of brigandine (8 hits, -2 DEX).

After these upgrades, Brelok II went to another shopping session at the Great Bazaar of Khazan, starting "A Sworded Adventure". He got mugged but got 200 adventure points in the process, more than enough to raise LK to 16 (add 1 to his personal adds.)

Enjoying his good luck so far, Brelok II traveled to a distant fishing village, in "Seven Ayes." There he found his doom in a tavern filled with weird and ugly folk (and I cannot add more without giving out spoilers.)

I am still amazed at how open and rules-light Tunnels and Trolls is, compared to other "old-school" RPGs. Looking at its 1st edition reprint, the same core ideas present in the Deluxe edition are already there. This alone makes it inviting for narrative play and solo play. The vast amount of solo adventures is good, too.

The mini solo adventures that I tried can be really brutal. I am convinced that if a given adventure is recommended for characters up to, say, level 4, then a level 4 character is required -- preferably a warrior with a lot of personal adds.