Sunday, August 20, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 20

A bit more practical a question.

Not sure what the best source is, but some sources I use include DriveThruRPG, and RPGNow for pdfs, Noble Knight Games, ebay, and used bookstores.

Yes, used bookstores. Especially here in New York City, out-of-print RPGs often turn up at used bookstores. Rarely do you see the hard to find early stuff, but you never know, so it's usually worth your time to check in you're in the market for such things.

Besides, who doesn't love used bookstores?

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 19

Long, good weekend.

What do we have here?

I don't know.

Seriously, I do not know. I'm not sure I've ever really considered which games have great writing as opposed to being great games. Yes, I have read games with great writing, and others with poor writing, but I never made a list of the best and worst in my mind. I also don't know that I especially separated the 'writing' from the games that they're in. 

Some of these questions are difficult to answer, not because the question challenges my sensibilities, or makes me think, but because they ask questions I don't really think about the answers to.

My favorite games are games I've read, and re-read many times. I suppose that had great writing. If not, I guess I love crappy writing. 

Whatever works.

Barking Alien

Friday, August 18, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 18

In the 'Easy question that's actually hard to answer' category we have...

I would have said this question was a no-brainer, but if I'm being honest, it's not that simple to answer after all. 

I can name the games I've played most often, in no particular order as to which was played more than another, but picking one as tops is pretty hard.

I play a lot of different games. I modify practically all of them. I kitbash games, and merge parts together. I invent my own. That said, there are a number of games I repeatedly come back to, and run with minimal alterations (see Question #16).

Which was played most is difficult because I might say Star Wars D6 by West End Games, and then a week later run a game of Champions 4E. I hadn't played Ars Magica in forever, then ended up running a game for one group, only to start another campaign with a different group two months later.

The games I've played most in my 40 years in the hobby are (in no particular order - er, besides alphabetically):

Champions, 4th Edition (ICE/Hero Games)
Star Trek, Role Playing Game, TOS and TNG (Last Unicorn Games)
Star Trek, The Role Playing Game (FASA)
Star Wars, The Role Playing Game, Second Edition (West End Games)
Traveller, Classic/MegaTraveller hybrid (Games Design Workshop)

Honorable mention goes to Ars Magica, Mekton I & II, Mutants & Masterminds 2nd and 3rd, Teenagers from Outer Space, and Villains & Vigilantes.

I play a lot of different games.

Barking Alien

Thursday, August 17, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 17

Oh @#%$. This question.

I don't buy food I'm not going to eat.
I don't buy clothes I'm not going to wear.
I don't own a TV because I only watch a few TV shows, and they're all on the internet.

I don't @#%$ing own games I'm not going to @#%$ing play.


Barking Alien

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 16

This next do I answer this?

Seriously, do people actually do this? Play games 'as is'?

Like, exactly how they read it in the book. Exactly?

Really? C'mon, you're pulling my leg.

Gosh. The thought of it is...disheartening somehow. It makes me feel sad.

I couldn't do it. I wouldn't want to. 

There is no game I enjoy without some sort of modification. 

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 15

Wow! Hey look everybody!

Come see, come see! Come on! 

They included a question just for me!



I modify a lot of games. 

I think I ran a game as-is in 1985 once...or was it '83? I really don't recall exactly. Honestly, maybe I dreamed it.

Considering the fact that A) I feel a lot games are overwritten without actually paying attention to trying to represent their respective genres, and B) I'm a tinkerer, and kit-basher by nature, I've adapted dozens upon dozens of games over the years.

In the 9 years this blog has been around, you've seen me turn Traveller into Star Wars (and consider turning it into Star Trek), Faery's Tale Deluxe into The Smurfs, heard tell of Teenagers from Outer Space being turned into everything from Wizard of Oz, and Time Travel, to Galaxy Quest and even American Superheroes. I toyed with using it to run My Hero Academia, but decided to hack apart three other games into an original system.

Marvel Heroic makes a great game for running American cartoons, or Japanese anime. InSpectres can easily be adapted to run Sci-Fi Survival. 

Honestly, if I have to choose the game I adapt the most, or have adapted the most, it would be TFOS. I've done sooo much with that game. It's just so simple, and easy to add stuff to. 

I do love me some RPG-hacking.

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 14

I'm still behind, but gaining fast!

Open-ended campaigns are my preferred approach to RPGs. I would rather run a game this way then any other. 

Games that are not designed for long term, open-ended campaign play absolutely serve a purpose, and have a definite place in ones gaming collection. There are a number of them on my own shelves.

While it is possible to run my own game, The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show, as a long term game with no definitive end, I fully don't expect that's what people are going to do with it. It, like Toon, Teenagers from Outer Space, Hunter Planet, Fiasco, and many other fantastic RPGs, these games are best a breaks from the usual, and familiar.

However, any game which focuses on exploration of the setting(s), and the characters, where power creep is relatively slow, or at least manageable, and you can change things up from time, to time without throwing the whole thing out of whack works for me for open-ended play.

I especially like games where the PCs are people living in the universe of the game. These are some of the best games for open-ended play because the players are following the lives of character who are native to the setting, and as such they may live, work, have adventures, get married, have kids, grow old, and die like real people. You are then able to play their kids, or grand kids. Life goes on, as they say, and a virtual life does the same except with space travel, magic, and more explosions.

My favorites for this type of game include:

Star Trek, using Last Unicorn's ICON System, RPG.

Traveller, using my Classic/MegaTraveller hybrid rules.

Champions, 4th edition of course, for Supers that keep on trucking. 

and while D&D isn't my favorite game by any stretch, I do concede that it is well built for open-ended, long term play. 

Others I've had success with include Star Wars (WEG D6), Villains & Vigilantes, Mutants & Masterminds, Mekton, and Teenagers from Outer Space (yeah, I know what I said, but it's possible to use the game for longer term play if you really want to).

OK, that's it for that. What's next?

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 13

Are you challenging me? Are You challenging Me?

I don't see any other blog here so you must be challenging me. 

Come at me bro.

This question seems quite apropos considering I'm celebrating my 40th year in the gaming hobby. 

In order for me to answer this question, and for you out there to understand my answer, I have to start at the beginning of it all with my first gaming experience. 

From the first moments of the first game, I and those I was playing with at the time, approached the game [Basic Dungeons and Dragons, Holmes version, 1977] differently then most people did, as I have come to realize over the years. 

As a result of this divergent starting point, my gaming experiences took a different path then that of many of my fellow veteran gamers. After 40 years on that alternate path, my present looks a lot different as well, or rather it does when I am gaming 'my way'.

A recent conversation with a friend, whom a game with regularly, about my recent My Hero Academia based game really brought those differences to light. We had basic, fundamental differences on what makes for a fun game, what players in a game do, and what role the rules play in the fun, and why. Neither right, nor wrong, our opinions clearly marked what feels right, or wrong to each of us. 

My point?

Numerous gaming experiences throughout my gaming history changed how I play, starting with the very first one. 

It kept on changing.

I like to think it keeps on changing, and sometimes it goes back to what works best.

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 12

Another art question, huh?

Ugh. I have no idea.

As with Question #5, this one is hard to answer as lots of games do a pretty fair to good job of this.

Take into account the fact that I play a lot of IP based games, and I have to say my opinions on the matter are biased at best. Most licensed games use concept art, and photos taken directly from the TV show, movie, or comic they are based on. Instant inspiration if you are enough of a fan of that thing to have purchased a table top game based on it.

Did the FASA Star Trek RPG, or West End Games' Star Wars have good interior art? You bet your booty they did. They had stills from the things they were based on. 

A lot of games could use some help in this regard. Teenagers from Outer Space, Mekton, and many Superhero RPGs should be ashamed. Games based on visual media that don't have great visuals are annoying at best, insulting at worst.

Spend 15 seconds on Pinterest, or DeviantArt before making your game and hire one the bajillion talented artists. I know the guy a few desks down is your pal, and you guys built this game together, but damn it, he can NOT draw in a style even vaguely reminiscent of Anime, or Manga. No. Just, just no. 

Also, I am a fan of Japanese Anime/Manga art in many of its various interpretations, as well as a collector of Japanese table-top RPGs. While many of the latter don't have as much art as you'd expect, the art is always amazing, inspiring, and perfect for the product utilizing it. I am biased, but basically I am saying that some of the most inspiring interior art in an RPG product I've ever seen is probably in games a lot of people have never heard of here in the West.

Where was I? Oh yeah, most inspiring really got me. 

Barking Alien

One for All

Recapping our first session of My Hero Academia: American Ultra...

For those unfamiliar with My Hero Academia, it proposes a world where some 8, or 9 generations from now (roughly), about 80% of the world's population has some form of superpower, known as a 'Quirk'.

Quirks vary widely, and may manifest as relatively minor abilities such as breathing underwater, or moving very small, lightweight objects with one's mind, to devastating levels of super strength, or the power to generate intense heat and flames.

In the Japanese Manga and Anime it is explained that to prevent Japan from descending into pure chaos as a result of these conditions, it was made generally illegal to use ones' Quirk in public for any reason. It is highly illegal to use ones Quirk against another person, or against public buildings, or private property.

There are still those who attempt to abuse, or unlawfully benefit from their Quirk. As police generally do not use their Quirks in combat situations (adhering to, and upholding the same laws that apply to citizens), the profession of Hero was developed to handle such criminals. 

In order to be a professional Hero, one much qualify for a Hero License. Once a license is obtained, it is common for new Heroes to join up with one of the many privately operated (but government approved) Hero Agencies.

As with any vocations, schools were developed to help teach potential professional do-gooders how to be Heroes. Staffed by former, and current Pro-Heroes, Japan's most famous and well regarded high school is Ultra Academy (UA) High School in Musutafu, Japan * (thought to be located Shizuoka Prefecture).

Japan's greatest hero is All Might, whose rather unusual quirk is known as One for All

Our campaign is set in the USA of this world, beginning around the same time as the events in the Japanese Manga begin. There are a number of differences between my American setting, and that of the Japanese original.

First, American laws are a bit more flexible, and relaxed, which means the police do occasionally use minor quirks to help with their police work, delivery boys bike across town with an occasional burst of super speed, and causal quirk use in public places is not illegal, though it may be frowned upon in certain areas. By contrast, the penalties for aggressive quirk use with the intent to cause harm are much more severe. 

The US in general, and New York especially, sees more crime than Japan does, and it's Hero organizations are set up differently to respond to that. Instead of privatized companies and agencies, American Heroes are split into teams overseen by one, or more government agencies. While most superhero teams operate on either a city, state, or federal level, it is not the city, state, or even Department of Defense that has jurisdiction over them. Instead it is a series of Supers specific groups, and departments such as the US Department of Quirk Affairs, and Welfare, and Q.U.A.N.T.U.M. (the Quirk User Anti-terrorism Network Tactical Unit Monitor).

There are hero schools in the USA as well, with the best known and respected being American Ultra (AU) High School. To be a professional Hero on any level, American heroes also need to obtain a license just like the Heroes of Japan, and AU is the recommended place to start training for such a calling, and career. 

Episode 1: 'Favorite Sons and Daughters'

I opened with a prologue scene (which the PCs were not involved in), in which America's greatest hero, Favorite Son, and a protege'/sidekick hero named Waterbug, are chasing down a superhuman assassin named Killjoy. Favorite Son knows for a fact that Killjoy ran down a particular alley, and has cornered him there. Favorite Son sent other members of his team to surround the block just in case Killjoy made an attempt to escape. Waterbug is there to watch, and learn, and alert the other team members if things get nasty.

The thing is, Killjoy, though very dangerous, is no match for Favorite Son. While Killjoy is similar to Marvel's Deadpool, or DC's Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, he is not as good, or as powerful as those men. Favorite Son meanwhile is similar to Captain America, though decidedly more powerful, and possessing an additional superpower unknown to most of the world's populace (and not mentioned here). 

The lights in the alley go out suddenly, and Waterbug, who thought he saw something seconds before, is suddenly gripped with severe, debilitating doubt, sadness, and despair. Obviously the work of Killjoy (Quirk: Sorrow - Emotion Control that absorbs positive feelings, and thoughts, and heightens negative feelings, sadness, and depression).

Suddenly, Waterbug is stabbed through the chest by a katana! As he clutches his chest, and slumps to the ground, Favorite Son spins around searching for his attacker, and is stabbed as well. Both men are left bleeding in the alley...

And we cut to the next morning, where the top news story on every station is the death of Favorite Son (oh, and Waterbug). Heroes, current and retired, speak on how this terrible tragedy could have happened. Most agree that while the evidence points to Killjoy murdering the two heroes, it seems so unlikely that Favorite Son couldn't have taken him on. 

Flags across the country fly at half staff. A National Moment of Silence is declared in the early morning hours. A rifle salute is given at Arlington National Cemetery. 

That day, a Monday, marked a very special day for American Ultra High School, the USA's premiere Hero Training School, located in New York City, New York. It was the day accepted applicants were to take their placement tests to see what class, and department they'd be in.

Many recommended cancelling the event, including well known Superheroes and government officials. However, the school's principal, the beloved, long time heroine Timeless Beauty, declared that after the moment of silence the placement tests would go on as planned.

Timeless Beauty was a close, personal friend of Favorite Son, and gave a rousing speech about how he would want them to go on with the vital task of training the next generation of heroic defenders of peace, justice, and good will. He would want to send the message that, "Our spirit remains intact. Our mission never more clear."

Scene cut to the front of American Ultra High School, where over 120 students, their parents, family, friends, and teachers gather together waiting for the event to begin. And the placement exams truly are an event, and a time honored tradition at AU. 

The PCs are in the crowd, eager to see who else will be attending classes with them, who the teachers are, and what more (if anything) they can learn about the passing of Favorite Son.

The PCs are:

Darien Thomas (Played by Dave)

Quirk: Ball Lightning - Darien surrounds himself with a field of electricity that is dangerous to come into contact with (you could get electrocuted! Stay grounded! Wear rubber gloves!). After charging up for a few seconds, he can shoot himself throw the air like a lightning bolt. The field remains the whole time, making him a cross between an electricity character, and Marvel's Cannonball. 

Darien is the son of two very famous pro-heroes. His mother is the extremely popular Electric Blue, whose electricity quirk is one of the top versions in the world. His father is the well liked, but less popular Momentum. His Quirk is called Unstoppable, and he is a bit like the Juggernaut of Marvel Comics. 

The family is wealthy, upper class, but environmentally, and socially conscious. They are popular among the Superhero set, as well as the public (though Mom, and Son more than Dad, as he can be a little gruff). Darien grew up with Superheroes the way a lot of Celebrity's kids grow up knowing Hollywood types. 

On the surface, Darien is 'the popular kid', and seems a bit shallow and showy. In truth, he plays that part because its what the public expects. With closer connections, family and friends, he is very serious about being a hero. He is more down to Earth than one would expect.

There's a lot of pressure for Darien to do well, especially from his parents, but he remains a good natured, friendly sort who is trying hard to take it all in stride. 

Darien is friends with a number of other pro-Superhero 'celebrity kids', such as...

Jax Reed (Played by Marcus) 

Quirk: Sound Control - Jax can control sound. He can increase, or decrease the volume of any sound around him, including silencing loud explosions. Jax can not create, or completely eliminate a sound however, and when he appears to silence something, he must release that sound somewhere else. He can of course create sound by snapping, or speaking, but he can't, for instance, think of a sound and have it happen. 

The power is pretty versatile, though Jax is most accustomed to using it as a blast by absorbing the vibrations of loud noises and redirecting them. 

Jax, like Darien, is a legacy. His grandfather was the well known hero Sonic Marvel, who eventually retired from Superheroing to become a political and social activist, and community leader. 

Jax's parents are apparently quite wealthy, having made money off of granddad's fame. They run a business that produces the Sonic Marvel animated cartoon, makes the action figures, t-shirts, and assists in funding his charity and non-profit work. 

By contrast, Jax and his grandfather live in a middle income neighborhood, enjoying a simple 'blue collar' lifestyle. Sonic Marvel wanted Jax to grow up the same way he did, hoping that would lead to his grandson gaining the same morals, and sense of right and wrong that he has.

Sonic Marvel was a major advocate of a low-income housing program backed by the Catholic Church which is the current residence of...

Seph Rigard (Played by Jeff)

Quirk: Belief-Shaping - Seph can transform belief in himself, in his ideals, and in his goals into solid, and semi-solid 'energy' that he can then shape into various useful forms. If others join him in achieving the same goal, or give him encouragement (i.e. believe in him, or share his belief), he has more energy to work with. 

Essentially, he is like a Green Lantern, or possibly, a Blue Lantern. He can not perform fine manipulation, or create fine details thus far. Nor can he generate any of the side effect powers many Green Lanterns seem to be able to manifest (Creating a fire extinguisher that actually puts out fire, or a Sonar machine that bounces sound waves). The power is still incredibly useful, flexible, and potentially dangerous.

Seph has a very interesting background, though much of it remains a mystery. 

He is originally from England. Following the disappearance of his parents, his older sister became a rebellious youth, acting out as hero, or villain as her needs, and desires suited her. After a near disastrous run in with a powerful pro-Superhero, she decided to make a change for herself, and her younger brother.

Brother and sister came to America, and help, housing, and friendship through the Church. One particular priest took to looking after them personally, and became a mentor for Seph. During one of their talks, the priest told Seph, "You are destined to do great things. You will make a difference in the world, but only if you believe you can." Seph took this to heart, and with the priest's help, applied to American Ultra High School. 

Seph is very philosophical, and seems older, and wiser than his years. He gets along well with the other PCs, though each is a very different personality.

As the PCs interacted with each other, they also met a slew of their future classmates. Among them were...

Chenrong Leung - Childhood friend of Darien's who can teleport short distances (only a few inches or so), very often, and very quickly. The strobe light-like effect makes it very hard to hit her, or lock onto her with quirk attacks. It also gives her low-level super speed.

Chet Walters - A jerky jock with a quirk that creates a basketball sized 'kinetic ball'. 

Desiree Alvarez - Very self-assured girl with density increase resulting in super durability, and strength.

Jeremy Byrne - A nerdy kid with powerful heat vision.

Jesse Kirkman - Zombie looking girl who appears to be undead. Doesn't tire, breath, etc.

Lana Poe - A quiet, blue haired, pale skinned girl with a chilling touch.

Mikita Sferson - Daughter of the pro-hero 'The Viking'. She can generate disc shaped 'shields' of force.

Spencer Greyson - A kid with grey skin, white hair, pointy ears, and antenna. His quirk enables him to temporary redirect the pull of gravity, making people, or objects appear to fall up, backward, or sideways.

Rocco Sargossi - A large, super strong, super tough lobster/man hybrid. His quirk is that he can breath water as easily as air, and swim as easily as he walks, or runs.

These are just a few of the many NPC students I introduced, but they were the ones that got the most attention. 

After a bit of role-playing, and getting familiar with both their PCs, the NPCs, and the setting, the players got ready for the 'placement test' to come. 

I had the AU High School staff assemble the crowd, and direct everyone's attention to the principal, Timeless Beauty. I gave a short, impassioned speech (as the principal) about what the school was about, and how they are carrying on Favorite Son's passion of helping people, and stopping those who would abuse their gifts. 

It really went over well with the guys, building the relationship between the principal, Favorite Son, the bigger plot, and the world for future sessions. 

After that, the group was totally jazzed to get to the action/adventure part of the game. 

And I will tell you all about time.

Plus Ultra!

Barking Alien

Monday, August 14, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 11

Yeah, yeah, I'm behind. I know. I'm hurrying. Geez. Keep your shirt on.

Well that's easy...

Granted, it's hard to pick just one, but if I had to I would look no further than...


One of my all time favorite RPGs, especially with the modifications I made, TFOS is long overdue for a revival. 

With the immense, and widespread popularity of Anime, and Manga in the USA, this game could be revised, expanded, and re-released with little effort. I would probably utilize all new art, hiring artists with a genuine grasp of the current Anime/Manga art styles.

I've discussed this game many times on the blog. 

Notable entries include Direct Hits and Campaigns A-to-Z: Blast City Blues. Check'em out.

Man, oh man I would love to be in charge of a new edition of this game.


Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 10

What have we here? of these...

I try to go to several places to get different opinions. 

Among the many places I go to are:

Drivethrurpg, EN World, Facebook RPG Groups, Google+, RPG.Net, RPGNow, and various gaming blogs. I also get a lot of reviews from friends who have purchased it first. 

There are a ton of places to find reviews, should I want them. I don't often want, or need them, but it is interesting to see what others think about a particular game from time to time.

Don't know what else to say on this one.


Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 9

Hi everybody!

I've been away on a little vacation, and now that I'm back I see I have some catching up to do on the ol' RPGaDay Challenge.

Let's get to it!

Huh. Interesting. I sense...a pattern maybe? A theme? Let me check something.

It seems there is a preoccupation with duration this year. A question about the best game for two hours of play, ten sessions, and ongoing, or open-ended. 


While some games definitely work better than others for extended campaigns, I don't usually think of games in this way. I tend to think of a story, an idea, or a theme, and then I consider how long it will take me to explore that idea, or story. 

If I want to run a short campaign set in the Star Trek universe that explores the finals days of the Federation-Romulan War. As I plan out the key elements, I think I can do it in six, 4 hour sessions. 

If I want to run a campaign that sees a World War II fighter pilot lost in the magical world of Oz. If I have standard 6-8 hours sessions (the standard session length for my face-to-face, weekend groups), I can probably get everything sorted in three, or four sessions. 

If I were going to revisit my Gonzo-Sci-Fi-Romantic Comedy-Anime/Manga setting of 'Blast City Blues', I'd want to run it for a least six sessions, and as many as twelve (you know, the length of most classic OVA series, or Japanese Anime TV seasons). 

The length of time doesn't determine the game. The game determines the length of time. 

Barking Alien

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 8

We are now up to question number eight...

ROTFL! Muhuwahahahaha!

Heheh. Whew. Wow. Ha. Let me...let me catch my breath. OK. Let me read that again...

LMAO! Hahahahaha! *Wheeze* *Cough* Haha! OMG! Heh. Woohoo.

If you are going to run a game that's only lasting two hours, I'm going to go do something else.

Next question!

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 7

Here's where we get serious folks...

I've been very fortunate to have had quite a lot of impactful sessions in my 40 years of gaming.

There is pretty much nothing cooler than those moments when a game's story, or a PC's actions, elicit real emotion from those gathered at the table.

As a player, most of my experiences with truly impactful sessions all come from the three and a half to four years I spent as part of my friend Will's Champions game, The Age of Chaos

Particularly notable moments there included the murder of NPC Tachyon's sister, with Tachyon, and Nightforce (a PC) failing to prevent it.

Tachyon's powers had overloaded several years earlier, and he could no longer use them safely, so he had retired from the Superhero scene. When a villain named Mr. Grim revealed he had kidnapped Tachyon's sister (a popular and well respected reporter), and threatened to kill her, Tachyon activated his powers without thinking.

While this shot him from New York to a small island off the Greek coast in the blink of an eye, the initial activation caused an explosion in the small alleyway in NYC where he had been standing that set the very air aflame for nearly two city blocks in all directions. Two fellow heroes (one a PC, and one an NPC) were killed, and another badly wounded.

Tachyon still arrived too late. Just before his rage overtook him, and he purposely took Mr. Grim's life, the PC hero Nightforce (who had been investigating, and tracking Grim for days), appeared out of nowhere (having already infiltrated Grim's hideout), and killed Grim himself with a sharp 'Nightarang' to the head.

The UN officials that oversaw our super team, Project: UNITY (a sub-division of the international SHIELD-like organization known as UNTIL) deemed Tachyon's actions an accident, and Nightforce's actions necessary (he actually threw his weapon a split second before Grim fired the gun that killed Tachyon's sister - but it simply didn't travel as fast as a bullet going only a few inches away). 

Nightforce reveals that in his secret identity, he had been dating Tachyon's sister for the better part of a year. Tachyon didn't except the UN courts' decision. He deemed himself guilty, a danger to his fellow heroes, and the citizens of the world. Racked with guilt, he had himself committed to the maximum security super-prison known as Stronghold. 

Tachyon and Nightforce

That was just one of a dozen such stories like it from that campaign.

As far as games I've run, again, there are a lot of sessions I can call upon, though one particular one springs to mind. Is was, believe it, or not, in D&D...

I hope I can do it justice in the retelling.

I'll take you back in time to 1998-99. We were a little further than mid-way through the first campaign of Dungeons and Dragons I'd run with my ex-wife/then girlfriend. 

As noted in the past, my D&D setting is very much influenced by Superhero comic books, Japanese Anime, and folklore. It has been referred to by friends as D&D-But-Not, or D&D-for-those-who-don't-like-D&D. 

In this particular session, my ex-wife's character, the High Elven Warrior/Wizard Ceren-Dee WindDrake, was leading part of her team on a mission to chase down the group's arch-nemesis, the Ash Elf known as ShadowHaunt. 

While Ceren-Dee, Vek-Tan the Mighty (a Half-Ogre), and a Wilder (Halfling) named Thistlecap, sailed with Captain Praxis, and the crew of the Siren's Wake, in pursuit of ShadowHaunt's vessel and the previously-thought-mythic 'Pearl of The Ages' he had obtained, Ceren-Dee's commanding officer Sheylan Everleaf, and the good hearted, scoundrel Dalor EverBurnGreen fought off ShadowHaunt's minions (undead Sailors, and Pirates) to enable the Siren's Wake's departure.

Sheylan and Ceren-Dee had recently revealed deep, romantic feelings for each other, and it was with heavy heart that she left him behind to fight the hordes of Dave Jones' locker. It was his order however, as he knew Vek-Tan to be the best sailor among them, Thistlecap to be the most crafty, and cunning of their lot, and Ceren-Dee's magic over wind, and weather to be the best chance they had of catching their enemy's craft.

Victory seemed likely until a rogue wave, an unexpected, rolling wall from the Northeast, crashed into both ships. The 'Pearl of The Ages' fell overboard into the sea as a second, even larger wave crested the horizon. When it struck, Ceren-Dee, Vek-Tan, and Thistlecap were hurled into the briny deep. 

Using their respective skills, and a good dose of teamwork, the three heroes of the Winghorn Guard managed to surface, but their ship was nowhere to be found. They drifted for hours, perhaps half a day, watching an oddly dark, clouded sky roil above them. A storm? No. Something more ominous...

Eventually the trio was picked up by a passing ship, which bore the markings of the Winghorn Guard, though it was in dreadful shape and crewed by weary, war worn sailing men, and women. The crew was shocked to see them, as if they were ghosts. Eventually the heroes were introduced to the ship's captain, and his wife...far older versions of two of Ceren-Dee's dearest friends, and allies, Gestral Ronnamoor, and Promelia of Thebius. 

The Pearl and it's magic had sent the trio of heroes through time, into a very frightening future. This world was under the protection of a Winghorn Guard that tolerated no infraction of law and order, no matter how small. Nations had been toppled, orders of knights disarmed in favor of the constantly watchful eyes of the Guard. Gestral and Promelia had left the order years ago, unable to be a party to it's growing totalitarian attitude.

The heroes (the players) had automatically assumed ShadowHaunt had somehow taken over the Winghorn Guard and used it to rule the world. Not so. ShadowHaunt was dead, killed by the Guard member who changed the protectors of peace into an army of oppression. 

Sheylan Everleaf.

Apparently, when Ceren-Dee, Vek-Tan, and Thistlecap disappeared from the timeline, it was assumed that ShadowHaunt had killed them. Sheylan, heart-broken to depths even he did not realize, spent the days, weeks, months, and years that followed hunting ShadowHaunt down. If ShadowHaunt made allies, Sheylan slew them. If he had a plan, Sheylan thwarted it. Everleaf grew in power, rank, and prestige until he essentially lead the Winghorn Guard. If he thought you might be in league with ShadowHaunt, or even in league with an ally of ShadowHaunt's, he would find you, and you would burn.

The scenario and the subsequent travels through this dark future brought honest-to-goodness tears to my ex-wife's face. All the participants played their parts with Oscar-worthy performances. It was a pretty emotionally draining session, but it ended with tears of joy. 

Ceren-Dee and her teammates tracked down future-Sheylan, and showed him that not only was Ceren-Dee not dead, but that there was a way to prevent all this sorrow and anger from spilling out and drowning Aerth (the campaign world). However, in a fantastic speech by my ex-wife, she explained that no amount of love makes up for the kind of anger, and hatred that could doom a world to what this one had become. She realized Sheylan held deep within him a great darkness, even in her own time. He loved her yes, but he needed her as well, to teach him how to lose, how to fail, without carrying the burden of the world on his shoulders and a fire for vengeance in his heart.

Eventually, the team worked to locate the Pearl of The Ages, and counteract its effect using a clever interpretation of a spell in their repertoire (I forget which one). By combining the power of the spell, the Pearl, and other bits, the trio of time travelers were able to return home.

When Ceren-Dee and Sheylan were reunited, there were more tears, a lot of laughter, and discussions about the present, and the future. 

Until next question...

Barking Alien