The Joker

I wasted much of the day making this, i could have better spent that time statting out characters that will see use again sooner such as Harvey Bullock, Maggie Sawyer, Black Mask II, and Two Face, but hopefully I’ll get to that tonight.

From the Shadow of the Bat: The Final Joke #1 & #2

Closed the second chapter of From the Shadow of the Bat campaign last night. This was where I intended the first chapter to end; but alas my player’s first set of character’s got themselves murdered by the League of Assassins, which I either didn’t write about or just can’t find.

As implied by the title the Joker had escaped from Arkham, again. Now I kind of hate the Joker. I really don’t find the Agent of Chaos a meaningful, entertaining, or most importantly believable archetype. Believable character’s do what they do for a reason, that makes sense to them. The Joker is an anachronism from a time in comics, when simply being the villain was enough of a motivation.

But back to the game, last week was kind of a bust, it’s tough to to gage a new game of BASH for characters you haven’t seen yet. I had a player who was new to the game, he played once before, but this was his first real BASH game.

To set things up, the Joker escaped from Arkham Asylum, and began settling old scores. With the Bat dead, he is obsolete. Batman is the closest thing the Joker has to a friend and he wanted to give him a”nice” memorial service as only he could.

The first thing the Joker did after escaping was to track down Barbara Gordon, and kill her. In so doing he discovered that she was Oracle, and previously Batgirl. This also gave him access to much of the information she had available as well as access to the Oracle persona.

It’s no fun to pull these kind of capers on a completely undefended and unaware city, so using the Oracle persona he tracked down some new heroes who where quite unlikely to stop him. These were folks that oracle had tagged as “keep an eye on, unskilled, danger to self and others.” These were our heroes. The Joker gave them earpieces and introduced himself as Oracle.

After introducing the Oracle the first time it immediately felt like a mistake, that’s what made this opening really work for me I think.

It was time to give them their first job. I wanted to keep things pretty light so I had “Oracle” just have them chase down Harley Quinn, and do a little battle in a deli. This entire story arc was pretty much the Joker’s suicide note. He guided the Heroes to to his biggest fan, and to set up Jason Todd for a fight against the new heroes, when their fight was over, he in his old Red Hood costume shot her through the head killing her and then he escaped.

Left behind at the deli was evidence of an attempted and apparently botched bank robbery, complete with a “Joker” corpse. The good guys when they had a chance sent a tissue sample to “Oracle” to find out if it was legitimate. This led “Oracle” to do what any good villain would do in his place, he lied to them.

This didn’t take long and the first issue was pretty stunted. After some scheduling talk I decided to wrap this storyline up in one more issue.

One of the characters is a former GCPD cop, one of the not corrupt ones.  So he has a police scanner, which allowed them to hear about some gang violence, which they opted to go check out. So they found the Red Hood between the False Facers, and the Joker’s Gang. They thoroughly believed the Red Hood to be responsible for Harley Quinn’s death so this led to them battling all three parties. Eventually they managed to come out on top, though the Red hood was certainly giving them a challenge.

In the ensuing battle one of the Joker’s men contacted him to let him know that all was going according to plan. When it was all over “Oracle” asked our heroes to bring Todd down to the Police station where he would meet them. Then the Bat signal lit up the sky.

When they arrived at the station it became clear that something was amiss. They saw Two men  (Jim Gordon, and Tim Drake) bound and gagged on the roof (I had plans for Nightwing also being there but they where cut when I shortened the story arc), along with the corpses of two women and a dog, the women were Barbara Gordon and Harley Quinn. They seemed to be under the control of a red-head in a wheel chair and a batgirl costume.

When they got closer the figure in the wheel chair arose with a crowbar in one hand, and a deadman’s switch in the other, revealing himself to be the Joker. There was a brief scuffle and the Joker tossed the switch off the roof of the building, starting a chain of explosions beginning with Black Gate Penitentiary and Arkham Asylum and carving a Bat insignia across the city.

And that’s pretty much where we left, the heroes discovered that Gordon and Drake, were subjected to Joker Venom, The Joker was captured and handed over to the police, and the Red Hood managed to escape.

BASH Fantasy: Legends of Steel “The Pirates of the Belsa”

I had the opportunity to run BASH Legends of Steel at Miscon Summer Game Day, given the short amount of time I had to prepare I opted to run the sample adventure, “The Pirates of the Belsa”. I figured it was the perfect time given that it was basically impossible that anybody present had read the adventure. If you going to someday play in the sample adventure I advise you to stop reading as there may be some spoilers, though the adventure is pretty open and there are an awful lot of things in it that are open to Narrator discretion. Also the game surprisingly (to me at any rate) took a turn toward the adult themed, I guess I should have anticipated that from a game where several of the characters are wearing “Sexy Armor”, so if that bothers you now would probably also be a pretty good time to stop reading.

Gaming Legend J. Peters, who introduced me to BASH in the first place, played the archer Risa
William Mattross played Brother Stern an aging War Priest
Robert W. Thompson of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming fame played Talena the Pirate
Brittain Tiller played Anteus the Gladiator
De Silva the Sorcerer was played by Joshua Aronoff
The table was rounded out by Ben Rasley one of my BASH regulars playing the Fugitive Prince Talon Ironhawk.
These are th six iconic characters of Legends of Steel

The game opened with a brief and incomplete explanation of the rules touching on a few of the differences between Legends of Steel and UE for the benefit of the two other BASH familiar players at the table.

Once major questions were out of the way I explained that they had been hired by the merchant Dagobertto to bring the Bandit Joubert “to justice”. The merchant suspects Jouberto and his band of river pirates are to blame for his son’s death, and was not satisfied with the local authorities handling of the situation. Dagobertto arranged a meeting for the players with a Shady character by the name of Jonah.

When they met Jonah, who seemed like the sort of fellow who would sell out his friends for the right price, which was convenient really, given that, that was what they needed, but still he made the players appropriately cautious. Jonah explained to the party that he could get them to the gang but not into it, they would have to manage that themselves. He told them the details of the three trials that one of them would have to choose and accomplish for the group of them to accepted into the pirate band. It was settled that Talena would attempt the Trial of Skill given that she is great at sticking her hand in boxes. (and the innuendo begins)

The party decides that they will set out in the morning and will enjoy the night carousing. (Yea Carousing Table!), Jonah says that this is just as well by him as he really ought to “go see a man about a dog anyway”. This guy is pretty sleazy so Risa decides that she is going to tail him, and she successfully follows him around town as he accomplishes a number of almost certainly illicit but not tremendously suspicious activities.

Whereas after a few hours of drinking Brother Stern made a good friend in the shipping industry, Talena made an enemy for life, and Talon Ironhawk got beaten up and had all his treasure stolen (I let him keep his equipment, because I didn’t want to deal with him not having it in a con setting, in a campaign it would have been more fun to lose it). By morning the princes wounds having been successfully looked after by Anteus the party was as a whole happy to see Jonah and get out of town for a few days.

The party has a lengthy uneventful walk through the woods, where Jonah takes a nap and the others determine that they have reached a gently used and cleverly concealed rendezvous location. A short while later Joubert’s lieutenant Madoc arrives with a small entourage. Surprised to see the party Madoc, who seems to recognize Anteus from his days in the ring, wakes Jonah who after a moment vouches for the PCs to Madoc’s satisfaction.

There is another walk to a small encampment where Talena offers to take the Trial of Skill as previously agreed. As advertised she is great at sticking her hand in boxes, and manages to disable the trap in only two pages (It would have severed her hand after four). Madoc is impressed and the party is eagerly inducted into the pirate band. There is more celebration but this time the PCs themselves are a bit more subdued.

The following day it is to work as Madoc announces that a slave transport is scheduled to be coming down the river soon and they are to raid it, the PCs also. He leads them to the river and places the pirates in groups at strategic locations, and he falls back to watch the new recruits. There was some discussion led by De Silva as to what was going to be done with the slaves, where they to be freed or sold. Madoc laughed and joked that he didn’t get into the river piracy business out of the kindness of his heart.

They perform admirably, Risa knocks two of the many well armed and armored guards into the water, as an opening volley. The guards return fire but miss. She and Talon take out a further three before the craft is within boarding distance. When they are close enough Anteus leaps onto the boat and plows through the guards carrying two of the armored guards off the other side of the boat with him and leaves them to a watery grave. Talena performs a valiant boarding action and manages to kill one guard and wound another. (this game is by the way much deadlier than UE). “He’s Dead, Do It Again” Brother Stern then leaped onto the boat and killed the final eight guards, thanks to the lack of a tac map and possibly over use of the domino effect, though it seems he did throw his back out in the process.

Madoc became at this point thoroughly impressed with the new recruits. They all lead the remaining slaves who carried the ample treasure from the boat quite a distance to the pirates secluded lair. The lair is a series of cavernous caves. This turns out to be an issue for the claustrophobic Risa, who thinks the lair is just a bit too underground for her tastes. She and Anteus her suitor opt to stay outside in the (currently unoccupied) wood and earthen corral.

Inside the party finally encounters Joubert who is impressed with the stories of how the PCs performed in nearly singlehandedly executing this raid. There is much celebration amongst the pirates for the bounty of the raid and amongst the party who are now very close to their goal.

As Talena for the first time in her life out drinks Brother Stern, De Silva keeps a very close analytical eye on the pirates, an incongruous group of barbarians, Joubert, Madoc, and an Exotic looking witch followed by a ferocious looking leopard on Joubert’s arm.

After relating De Silva’s observations that Joubert who was not particularly polite to the PCs whom he seemed to be genuinely impressed by, but was being exceedingly polite to the barbarians, in a manner that suggested he wanted something from them. That the witch who outwardly seemed to be doting on Joubert but was casting furtive glances toward Madoc, who seemed to be at least infatuated by the witch. Joubert and the witch eventually retired to a private chamber. Then I left to allow the party to figure out how they were going to capture or kill the Pirate in his own lair.

And Plan they did.

(adult content follows)

The Plan as they executed it began with Talena attempting to convince Madoc that at three way between them and the witch was a good idea, It turns out that he’s a sucker for the Appeal advantage in combination with Sexy Armor. The problem with that as Madoc put it was that “she was in there with him.” Talena suggested that he could go in and get her out when after Joubert had fallen asleep. There was some talk about the door being locked but then she reminded him how good she was at “sticking her hand in boxes.” Being the sucker that he apparently is for this sort of thing (and a few dice rolls) he agrees that this is a fantastic plan that cannot possibly fail. But he wants to go talk to a couple of his guys anyway. His “guys” position themselves nearby Joubert’s chamber along with the rest of the PC’s except for Risa.

A single very high die roll from Talena later and the chamber door is open, Madoc steals in there is a whispered conversation and a long moment later he comes out again followed by the witch and her cat. The three of them proceed deeper into the cavern complex and a signal is given to Risa.

The distraction portion of the plan part two involves Risa making an absurdly difficult (TN 41) shot to start a brawl between the barbarians and the pirates, which a hero die and a hero point later she makes exactly. At the precise moment she makes this shot Brother Stern uses his light mastery to generally dim the area and De Silva hollers out that the Barbarians are pansies.

Talena then tries to extricate herself from this position she is about to get herself into telling Madoc and the witch that she needs to go back for wine, Madoc buys the story entirely but the witch is suspicious.

As, not a two way brawl between the pirates and the barbarians as was expected, but a three way brawl between the barbarians and two factions of the pirates begin Joubert is roused. Anteus is the first to react, aside from Risa who no longer has an option but wait or enter the Lair in the dark, by herself, and she opted to wait. Anteus charges into the chamber while Joubert is attempting to pull on his trousers, and grabs his pants preventing him from putting them fully on.

Talena who has made it back to the others notices a chest on the other side of Anteus and Joubert, and dutifully forgets everything else in favor of treasure. De Silva attempts to blast Joubert with his sorcerous bolt but misses, Talon and Brother stern both rush in and each wound Joubert. Who does manage to get his pants on and ready himself for battle, but then is nearly immediately suplexed into unconsciousness by Anteus.

Anteus begins carrying Joubert out of the cave while Talena and Brother Stern struggle to carry the chest out as well. As they are leaving Madoc and the witch return and watch as they leave without attempting to interfere in any way.

Madoc smiles as he is now rid of his rival for leadership and for the beautiful witch, She smiles because he sorcerous talons are deeper into Madocs heart than they were into Joubert’s and her power has grown as well.

Excited About Gaming

I was given permission (and frankly a lot of support) to run the upcoming BASH Legends of Steel. Today at Miscon Game Day. I put a fair bit of effort into making the game as easy as possible for the players, who were not allowed to see my copy of the rules, to play. The basic system remains largely unchanged from BASH UE, which I’ve posted about frequently since being introduced to it by Gaming Legend J. Peters, who also played in todays game. There are some tweaks that really help to bring out the Sword and Sorcery flavor of the game.

I don’t want to say much about the game itself since it hasn’t actually come out yet. I did want to say though that today’s session made me excited to run a game again, and that was an amazing feeling.

Spoiler: BASH!, No Heroes.

So my BASH! game is not going to continue. It’s sad.

So here is what was going to happen. Our heroes had been captured by the CDC, and were about to be interogated. After there were asked a series of questions that they don’t know the answers to they would have either escaped or been broken out by Kresh the Cosmomonkey and Professor Jefferies super dog.

Between the interrogation and exposition by Kresh they would learn that the Cold War had not ended in the nineties it had merely shifted focus from nuclear weapons to super soldiers.

They would then have been taken to “Buddy” Christ’s compound. Where they would have a few side adventures dodging government agents and trying to keep thier lives from falling completely apart.

They would eventually follow a trail of breadcrumbs that leads them to Christ’s resurection of Benny the Bomb and their colusion with the government.

Eventually they would have to determine how to deal with the information they have, how and whether to expose or fight the government, and how to deal with being the worlds first Super Heroes.

Sorry for my extended absence

I’ll try to get back into something like a regular posting schedule again. Like I mentioned in my most recent post I’ve been running for the Camarilla Master Storyteller position.This has slowed down a bit now but for a while kept me busier than expected.

I was also chosen to judge the ZombAlert flash fiction contest. In the end it was only a 23 page document I had to read, which took very little time. A few of the stories were a bit, how to but this politely, not good? but there were two or three gems in the bunch.

My BASH! campaign is going to be officially over for a while. At least half of us have been enjoying our night off from gaming, and my gaming schedule is more reasonable for the time which is a bonus.

I thinki could probably handle a return to pbp gaming, but I don’t want to do it. It turns out that I really kind of hate pbp. I’m not sure why but it is an incredibly large stresser for me. It always feel like a chore to read up and post an action every day.

I will post likely tomorrow about my BASH! campaign and whatwas going to happen. Since  I will pretty definitely not be returning to it.

Back to Business

I attempted to run my BASH game this evening. Indeed I put quite  a bit of work into it these past few days, but given that one of my players is about to begin five weeks of Job training we decided it might be best if we held off until he comes back. My intention was that this would be a reasonably action light roleplay heavy session, and we where concerned that the effort would be wasted leading into a five week long hiatus. So we shall wait until then to continue our adventure.

When we return there will totally be a Monkey.

Gaming schedule lightened, again

Just in time for more…

I have withdrawn now from pbp (Play by Post gaming). This was a tough decision for me, but I’ve been leaning towards it for a while now. Unfortunately (for me) the burden of Play by Post is relatively light, given the glacial pace at which it moves. So my load is only lightened slightly.

Fun goes quite a way toward lightening that load further though. My Thursday BASH! game, has picked up from my perspective anyway. I abandoned my Greek Age of Heroes campaign, I could feel it getting repetitive, becoming simply a freak of the week affair, it also had a little to much in common with D&D, which we are all kind of tired of.

Now it is a Supers game again in a world exactly like ours, with supers beginning to emerge. It’s unintentionally a bit like the TV show Heroes. I only ever watched a few episodes, it never really gripped me, but I do have to admit the premise is similar.

The important thing is that my players seem to be having a better time, and so am I. On a cool side note my villain from that first adventure is going to appear in an upcoming official BASH! book.

Killing Ogres and other past times.

In running through The Hook Mountain Massacre we opted to climb the mountain behind the keep, well by climb I mean the Fighter borrowed my character’s cape of the mountebank most of the party dimension doored to the top of the mountain, while the bard and my wizard beast shaped into eagles and flew to the top. The party then used feather fall to assault the main keep directly, effectively locking us into facing this portion of the adventure backwards. Starting with the boss monsters and then working our way back out to deal with minions.

The strategy paid off for us, we dealt with the big boss monster’s reinforcements, then tackled the Boss himself, aide from having class levels he was not particularly memorable, though I imagine he would have been terrifying if we had gone through in the proper order, particularly once the reinforcements arrive. The following week we found a second boss monster, the Lamia in the basement. Which left us this week with tackling every other ogre in the county, It was a lot, I have no idea exactly how many.

My wizard is not a combat specialist, this is relevant. He is greatly skilled in other areas including the creation of magic items. In fact he’s a transmuter and his “forbidden” schools are Evocation and Conjuration, meaning in essence it is a pain for him to cast any sort of combat spells. He did make a wand of fireball a month or so ago, and we were glad of it this week. The Ogre’s plan for dealing with any adventurers foolish enough to venture into the courtyard appears to have been swarm them en-mass and pummel them until they stop moving, a simple but effective strategy. It almost worked too.

There was no better use for that wand. I don’t think there was a time that I managed to hit less than five ogres at once. Having cast exactly one combat spell in the campaign thus far and it not having worked out so well, bringing this much firepower to the battle was refreshingly different.

So at the end we were in possession of a castle, that we were then expected to turn over to some NPCs, there will be some roleplaying on Monday.

Then came The BASH game on thursday, it’s a greek age of heroes sort of thing, and up until this week I feel like it’s been pretty dynamic and BASHey. It is a somewhat, well more than somewhat, fantasy affair. The flexibility of the system is really cool and it can make pretty much anything fun. I’m losing my direction on this game, I don’t have a real end-game in mind, and to me it’s starting to get a little wearying to battle another of Hades’ minions. But once the action started I forgot all about being uncomfortable and it became fun for me again. Although I only managed to get through about half of what I had planned, which is fine, I expect the remaining portion of this issue to take a while.

My big mistake this time was to put the bad guys in a cave. It really lost it’s BASH feel and became D&D again. The dungeon it turns out really defines Dungeons and Dragons. Who knew?

I’ve been busy lately

with that thing I mentioned.

I’ve made the decision that I’m not going to discuss that here any further. It will definitely be a giant time sink, but I have another website where I can talk about that.

So that leaves me with Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords, BASH, SAGA edition pbp, oh yeah and my other Pathfinder game that I play by Skype. Which means that I will probably need to cut some stuff like two games (that require a time slot in my week). I don’t know which two yet, and it’s a hard choice to cut games when other people are so starved for them.

There was no Skype game this week, which I was glad for because I was ill. There was no BASH game last week for the same reason, it will probably end up being canceled tomorrow because almost half my players are in Billings. This works out for us because we need to have an Officer’s meeting, to hash out some of the things that did not get addressed yesterday.

We did have a Game on Monday though. We are still clearing out the Keep backwards. We just found the Lamia in the basement. It’s kind of a dungeon slog right now, but we are still getting in some good RP. We met our new Barbarian, in a moment of social awkwardnessDeep One has opted to make more constructive use of this block of time for a few weeks so unfortunately we are missing our Moral Compass, although our paladin has actually stepped up to that roll a bit.

So there’s my week so far.