Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grey Ranks Chapter 1

Monkey-Wrenching The Occupation

"...Igo Sym, an actor who sold out his country for money. Radio Lightning thought better of you, Igo."

Mission: Kill the traitor Igo Sym

Situation Elements:

"Your parents want to kill me!"
"Maria Grekowa, an agonized neighbor"
"A letter authorizing the bearer to break curfew"
"A sturdy pair of boots, spotted with blood"

Our mission scenes start off with Romani. He is tasked with scouting out Igo Sym's location. He takes Chess along with him and sneaks out through the steam tunnels under the University of Warsaw. He and Chess slip through the sewers of City Center emerging in an alleyway near the actor's home. They case the building, attempting to find a way in and are discovered by the next door neighbor. They gain the information about the fact that he has been frequenting a certain bar and head back to inform the group.

Next Kraut is tasked with acquiring a firearm for the assassination. She heads to Ochota, and breaks into a neighbors house. Sneaking around the home she finds and steal a revolver, bringing it back to the group's headquarters.

Warsaw is the one tasked with killing the traitor. The entire group heads back into City Center, with Romani leading them to the bar that Igo Sym has been going to. He stays outside watching for trouble while the other three head into the bar. Warsaw kicks in the sex appeal and uses it to get close to Sym. She then pull out the revolver and shoots him point blank after accusing him of being a traitor. She and the other two flee the bar as quickly as possible. As they flee they hear the signal from Romani, Germans are incoming.

Chess is tasked with distracting the Germans in order to facilitate the group's escape. He grabs the gun from Warsaw and then heads in the opposite direction from the group before firing it off a few times, attracting the patrol's attention. They chase him for a time before he manages to ditch them enough to hide himself and set up an ambush. Springing the ambush he kills one of the two Germans. He then lies down near the body and plays dead as well. When the other German arrives he surprises and kills him. He grabs a sturdy pair of boots from one of the dead Germans and flees back to the sewers, making his way to the groups hideout to meet up with the rest of them.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Grey Ranks Session 1

So this last Thursday evening we started our first game of Grey Ranks. We got character creation and the introductory chapter finished in the time that we had. We will be continuing with the game tomorrow, Sunday. I'm hoping we can knock out the rest of the play through; though if we can't we'll get close and maybe be able to finish it out later in the week.

Here are the characters that are being played:

Player: Jeremy
Name: Czeslaw Sazinsky
Psuedonym: Chess
Home: City Center
Hold Dear: Family
Symbol: Crumpled Red Cloth Napkin
Age: 15
Reps: Careless, Isolated

Player: Skye
Name: Julia Zebanowicz
Psuedonym: Warsaw
Home: Wola
Hold Dear: City
Symbol: Royal Castle
Age: 17
Reps: Eye-catching, Angry

Player: Torrie
Name: Erika Stanislawa
Psuedonym: Kraut
Home: Ochota
Hold Dear: First Love
Symbol: Locket
Age: 16
Reps: Stand-offish, Ashamed

Player: Jonathan
Name: Ivan Sikorska
Psuedonym: Romani
Home: Old Town
Hold Dear: Friends
Symbol: Book of Fairy Tales
Age: 15
Reps: Shy, Outsider

Character creation is a fairly simple process. You pick a name and a psuedonym first. I wanted my character to be of Russian Gypsy descent, so I went with a name that sounded somewhat Russian, and gave him the nickname Romani.

Then you pick an age, I went with 15 to symbolize the fact that the character will be a bit more reckless and a bit less capable in relationship scenes. Also because I plan on using his birthday for a scene during the play through and I didn't want him to jump up to the max age.

Next is picking a section of Warsaw to be from. My selection was Old Town, the run down and ancient/historical portion of the city. And thats all you do before the introductory chapter.

Then you play through the first chapter. There are only mission scenes, no personal ones, in this chapter. Also, you automatically succeed in this chapter; its meant as a vehicle for learning the game and learning about your characters. After you've done all the scenes for it you finish up character creation.

For our first chapter we ended up latching on to a blurb about a traitor to the Polish people in the Radio Lightning transcript (short radio messages that preface each chapter and give setting information for it). We decided the mission was to take him out. Romani scouted out his home and ended up learning from a neighbor that he had been spending a lot of time at a local bar. Kraut snuck into her neighbors house and stole a gun for the mission. Warsaw was the driving force behind the mission so she took point and did the deed. Chess distracted a guard patrol as we made our escape, pulling some daring moves and keeping us from being caught. I'll probably put more exact details in a separate post.

The next step is to pick what your character Holds Dear. The choices are Family, Friends, Faith, City, Country, and First Love. Each player must choose a different one from the list. We didn't have any issues there, cause everyone immediately gravitated towards different ones. I at first was going to go with Faith; but I later had some great ideas for Friends, so I went with that. After you pick the concept you pick a concrete symbol of it. This symbol can be used 3 times over the course of the game to get a big die and a reroll; its invoked, threatened, and then destroyed. My symbol is a book of fairy tales that was given to him by his childhood best friend, Maria.

Then you go around the table and each character is assigned two reputations by the other players. These must start out as negative aspects. They will change to positive ones during the game as your character grows up. I got Shy and Outsider.

Finally you each create an NPC to help fill out the dramatis persona list. I decided to create Maria, my childhood friend. You just pick a name and a trait (I gave her Unlucky, deciding my character watched over her a lot when they were kids; because of her horrible luck) and a brief idea of who they are and how they fit in to your world. And then you are done.

I'm really looking forward to playing on Sunday. This is a heavy game, with lots of potential for very emotional situations and RPing; and I hope it achieves that potential. I want to explore the engaging but tragic stories we have before us with these 4 characters. It's going to be hard, but fun.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bold New Frontiers

So I've been listening to a fun podcast that John introduced me to called Actual People, Actual Play. It's a fun, short little podcast where a group of RPG gamers discuss the games they are playing and their impressions of the systems. Specifically they try to focus on how the "mechanics of the game affect the fiction". It has been fun to hear other people's opinions on some systems I've played or have looked at playing; and the group is full of intelligent people so its interesting to hear them discuss their ideas and opinions.

One of the other benefits of the podcast is that they do episodes of one shot games here and there in their lineup; usually between the bigger games or when someone can't make it and they have to delay the big game. This has introduced me to quite a few interesting sounding games; and looking up those games has led to some other ones as well. It's also introduced me to some new RPG concepts; like GM-less games, which is something I'm very much looking forward to trying out in the not too distant future.

And that brings us to the point of the post; here is a list of some of the RPGs that I'm really itching to try out; either playing or running, with the ones I'm most interested in being up near the top:

Grey Ranks: this is one of those GM-less games. In fact its been called the "gold standard of GM-less games." The players play members of the Grey Ranks, Polish teenagers who were recruited into the Polish Resistance during World War II. The game is supposedly very engaging and emotionally involving. The system intrigues me, the subject matter is one I'm interested in, and the GM-less thing sounds like a lot of fun. This is at the top of my list to play as soon as I can afford the $12 for the PDF.

Ars Magica: Ars Magica is an cool RPG based in a fantasy version of medieval Europe; they call it "Mythic Europe." The world seems very neat, I love the fact that the fluff gives great power to the Divine and the Christian God. The magic system is also very interesting; it's a very well known and respected system. It allows for a free form style of magic where you basically can create whatever type of spells and effects you want or need in order to accomplish your goals. It is this free form system that makes it fit well with a campaign concept I have floating around in my brain. Looking forward to writing that up and trying it out sometime.

Montsegur 1244: "A story game about burning for your belief" This is the tagline for Montsegur 1244. Another GM-less game you play one of the hundreds of Cathars who were trapped in the castle Montsegur when it was besieged by the Albigensian Crusade. The game tells the stories of these people and the courses their lives took in these trying and extraordinary times. It seems a very dramatic and human game.

Zombie Cinema: I don't know all the details about this game but in the Actual People, Actual Play podcast about this game they basically played The Three Musketeers + Zombies. The podcast made it sound like a ton of fun and it seems like the game is some what modular. By that I mean you can play in different settings and time periods, and then just add zombies! This is an awesome idea!! I look forward to picking this up and trying it out. It may also be a GM-less game, I can't remember.

Under the Bed: "The stuffed animals, toy trucks, and action figures of your childhood did more for you than you remember. They were your guardians, advocates, and friends, putting their lives on the line for you. Do you have what it takes to be a toy?" This straight up sounds awesome!! That's almost all the information available on the web page about the game, but I am totally sold.

My Life With Master: Don't know anything about the game besides the basics of the theme and setting. Sounds super fun. Hopefully it will be.

Burning Empires: This is one of the three games that uses the Burning Wheel system that I've been recently using in my Mouse Guard campaign. I very much love the system and I've enjoyed the campaign quite a bit. The game system is very systematic and structured; which my brain enjoys. Its crazy sci-fi with intelligent brain worms and powered armor and lasers and spaceships and all that jazz, which my brain also enjoys. I want to play it at sometime, and I'll probably be able to through Magpie Night. I may also run it for some friends at some point.

Dresden Files RPG: Dresden files = straight up insanely awesome books. A game where you can play a holy sword wielding Champion of God = straight up insanely awesome RPG. This game is a no brainer sell for me, I can't wait to play.

The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach: "Are you willing to swallow a soul-eating telepathic insect bent on destroying human civilzation?.....Even if it will get you tenure?" That is the weird and hilarious question that this game asks. Its a GM-less game about the insane politics of academia, mixed in with supernatural evil-ness. A great combination in my opinion.

Rogue Trader: Playing a space merchant prince at and beyond the edges of known space in the dark future of the 41st Millenium. Or playing one of the amazing specialist veterans that make up his or her crew. Exploring the edges of space, fighting orks and eldar, plundering space booty, sounds like a great time to me! I got the book cheap because of a water damage sale, and I haven't looked at it yet; but the D6 Generation guys talk about it a lot and really like it.

Shadowrun: THE cyberpunk game. Magic, cyborgs, spirits, robots, supernatural beings, and super corporations. I love the setting of this game. Love love love it. I don't know anything about the system; but I'll take whatever in order to play in this world.

Houses of the Blooded: a high concept fantasy game that is very heavy on politics and intrigue and nobility and that sort of stuff. Reading stuff like the Wheel of Time series lately has put me in the mood for this type of thing. Plus I met the designer at a con I went to recently and he was a very interesting and cool guy. He is the one that told me about Ars Magica.

Serial Homicide Unit: Yet another GM-less game, you delve into the lives of the victims of a serial killer and of the group of cops that is trying to catch him. Seems interesting; mainly because I like puzzle/whodunit situations.

Oh and if you are one of the people who plays RPGs with me, let me know what your interested in in order to help hone my choices when I go to buy some of these.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

So Ends this Tail...I mean Tale!

Mouse Guard is over. Finally managed to squeeze in the last session of my short mouse-y campaign. Had a lot of fun running it but I was done with story and ready to finish it up. I think my players really enjoyed the game overall. We had a good number of fun times, some hilarious moments, some great role playing, and even some total ass-kicking!!

I also may have driven one of my players insane. These things happen.

In retrospect we all seemed to enjoy the opportunity we had to play a new, very different system. But I feel we all also really felt that it would have been much more enjoyable if we had a better grasp of the rules. As I said its a very different system, and there are some fairly fiddly bits; as well as some unclear wording. These things did cause some amount of trouble here and there but overall we handled them and pulled out a good game.

In the end I really enjoyed it. I look forward to running the last part of the adventure as a bit of a stand alone game for the Magpie Night soon. I also am hoping to venture back into the Burning Wheel system again in the future, probably using the Burning Empires game.