Free RPG Day, the tour.
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  1. #1

    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    Free RPG Day, the tour.

    I've started a little project around Free RPG day, I want to familiarize our group with the rules of the games so we can run or play them on the day. I'll also offer help installing the demos of Hero Lab and the DDI character builder. By doing this I hope to support the event and it's sponsors. I initially thought of restricting the games to the 2009 event but I may drift to other sponsors from the past.

    The games in the order I'd like to run them, follow. Some are not yet available so I have to pick a stand in, some similar if not the same rules, but I would appreciate any advice on getting better matches.

    Hollow Earth Expedition: A cinematic pulp game "...inspired by the literary works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle"

    Rogue Trader: Actually 'Dark Heresy' because the specific quick start isn't available yet.

    Geist: This one too will have to be by facsimile. I'm considering using 'Hunter the vigil' or 'Changeling the lost'. My players may decide this one.

    Castles & Crusades: We'll use the quick start rules http://www.trolllord.com/cnc/ccqs.html

    Paizo Pathfinder: I'm considering running "Revenge of the Kobold King" using Beta prejens, or doing group chargen with the Beta. I'd love to have 5th level pregens from the soon to be released version, are there any in the previews?

    WotC D&D Eberron: I think I'll do something with the Eberron preview material, the 'train' from DDI Dragon might be a good start.

    The games that have some issues for this project are: Claymore Entertainments "Hero's Bane", it isn't available in any form. Other than reading the web site I'm not sure what to do. Tunnels and Trolls as well as Polymancer seem to have canceled participation, which is a bummer, I started this project with T&T. I may do T&T anyway, in fact I think I will. Finally, Dragon Warriors. The quick start will not be available until Free RPG Day.

    Any advice or experiences on these games or what to run would be greatly appreciated. I'll post about the games with lessons learned and anecdotes of the table.

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  2. #2

    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    For Hollow Earth Expedition there is the 2008 quick start and adventure and pregens. In their downloads page you can find an example of play and other adventures. More pregens can be found at their Secrets of the Surface World Supplement page and one more at their Mysteries suplement page.

    It's a dice pool system that uses rolled evens as successes and can use any group of dice. The players choices of which dice to use was interesting, some chose D20's some chose D6's only a couple used a mash up of different dice. I used as many different dice as I could. Each stat and skill is a number for the amount of dice to roll for task resolution, which is rolled against a set number of required successes. Combat is slightly different, a number of dice are rolled for the weapon and the defender rolls their defense, the difference in success is the amount of damage. There are called shots and aiming and burst/full auto fire and a couple of other combat actions. This game also has style points for purchasing extra dice or powering character traits and other benefits. The quick start rules don't really go into how powered traits work so we, unfortunately, skipped using that feature.

    The art on the pregen character sheets is gorgeous and very evocative. I printed them out in their full color glory so I could display them for the players to choose. Those sheets set the mood immediately, and my players oohed and awed over them as they decided which to play. The included background text furthered the atmosphere and really helped the players with their chosen PCs. Note that some of the backgrounds do not fit with the adventure. I didn't restrict pregens but instead changed the beginning to add a bit about how those characters came to be with the rest. Finally about the pregens, some of the others I pointed out use magic, you'll have to make up magic your self, it isn't in the quick start. I don't count that as a knock, just a notice, I think the magic is for a supplement that the quick start wasn't meant to cover.

    The adventure is a great introduction to some of the setting tropes. [spoiler]Dinosaurs, lost world, jungle wilderness, Nazi's that need punching[/spoiler] and a pulpy atmosphere. I'm not entirely sure what I am meant to mean by pulp, but if it's world war II era grand adventure with a bit of mystery and magic, it has it. It can also end in a cliff hanger of sorts with the players [spoiler]stranded in the Hollow Earth with cool leads and even a captured Nazi submarine[/spoiler]. That is great quick start design, it left my players wanting more, they want to continue with the characters they picked and find out what happens. Just note that it is a lot of combat, the adventure is there and the bones for lots of rp is there, but you'll need to flesh out some of it. Reading between the lines and playing the NPCs to their full should go a long way.
    Last edited by darjr; Sunday, 31st May, 2009 at 02:38 AM.
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  3. #3

    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    Please note that spoilers abound. There is so much here I'd have to spoiler that It would all be blanked out. So I hope this warning suffices.

    After the players picked their characters and read their backgrounds I ran for them an introductory encounter. I needed to rationalize their backgrounds. For instance one character was already lost in the hollow earth. For him I added that he had, finally, escaped and was rescued from the middle of the ocean by the very crew the pc's had hired to take them on their little adventure, I wanted to rename him 'John Colicos'.

    So all the PC's were together on one ship out in the middle of the ocean, add one mysterious strange storm and the adventure began. The storm was so terrible that the PC's tied themselves to the decking in hopes of ridding it out and not being washed overboard or in hopes of not being trapped below decks in case the ship capsized or sunk. The long deserate struggle lead to unconsciousness.

    The next morning, in a calm sea, under a baking sun, slowly rousing to the sound of snuffling and the smell of rotten fish they were jarred awake by an ear splitting roar, the screaming of a crew member, and the 'tang' of snapping metal. A monster had risen from the sea, grabbed a crewman with a maw full of dagger like teeth and torn him from the decking.

    While fighting off the monster the 'martial artist' character was being drug off the boat by a rope he was using to strangle the creature while the 'pilot' was hovering out of reach on her jet pack filling the thing full of lead, while scion and lost traveler desperately hacked at it's throat as the big game hunter and the sniper blazed away at the beasts head. After, the big game hunter collected his trophy and the party attended to the listing boat, trying to find land before they were all swimming.

    Of course there were more monsters approaching the boat, attacking it and eventually sinking it. The mad dash to get into the life boats was a bit of fun as they gathered fuel and other weird survival items, now knowing that they were not in Kansas anymore. To rush away from the pleaseasaurs the 'pilot' took to the air to drag the wooden life boats behind her.

    Making land and losing the second boat and it's compliment of NPC's, they have a last tangle with the sea monsters as they drag themselves onto the beach. They make it to the jungle line, with a wooden life boat, a small supply of fuel, an assortment of weapons, a jetpack, and gobs of dead sandy pleaseasaurus for food.

    The strange collection of PC's were, the daredevil pilot, a martial artist cook wandering hero, the scion of Atlantis (a school girl with a sword), a rugged explorer (sniper), the lost traveler (Mr lone survivor), and the big game hunter (Clayton!). There would be one more PC to join us later, but that player decided not to start off playing, she wanted to observe the game at first.

    Raptors, any dinosaur game, after a certain movie, has to have raptors. One of the PC's even exclaimed "I've seen this movie before!". The players, thanks to the lost traveler, knew they were being hunted, and I got to add a mysterious observer sensed by the martial artist. The PC's were able to pick the place of defense, backed up to a dirt cliff, and use the boat as a 'shield', the snipers grand idea. The raptors exploded out of the jungle hurling themselves at the boats hull. I had fun describing the drubbing noise the raptors made against the hull of the boat and seeing the players reactions knowing what was in store for them. Shooting and attacking over the boat the PC's survived. The last remaining NPC's, however, were drug off into the jungle, and the pilot spotted their mysterious observer while she zoomed around the jungle canopy.

    The observer was an ape man. A native of the hollow earth. At this point our reluctant player jumped into the game, playing the ape man to the hilt, especially after she learned that the ape man only spoke a little French and German and no English. I think she loved the pantomime.

    The ape man lead the party to a camp, a camp of horror. The fellows extended family and friends were being held prisoner, brutally forced to labor, by a group of Nazi's. These foul SS soldiers and their Nazi submarine crewmen were beating the ape men into submission in order to excavate a bizarre ancient ruin. Some were digging but most were caged and guarded. In the background, floating in a river, with a single guard, was the Nazi's submarine. The PC's assumed that the Nazi's were stranded here much like they were.

    The PC's, haven gotten the drop on the Nazi's, took up positions. The big game hunter and the sniper climbed tree's in order to attack with suppressing, withering, cross fire. The martial artist and the pilot began to sneak toward the camp. The scion and translator stayed with the ape man near the sniper in hopes of assisting him choose targets. The lost traveler followed behind the sneaks to back them up when the fight began.

    The martial artist was heard, and the Nazi's began to hunt for him. The Pilot took off in a roar attempting to distract the Nazi's, zooming and zig zagging through the camp blazing away with her machine gun. The martial artist was able to, twice, use Nazi's as weapons, clubs of a sort, to attack other Nazi's. The ape men guards, fearing the attack of the ape men, began to shoot into the make shift cage. The snipers, however, were able to release them with aimed shots to the cage's mechanism.

    The PC's overcame the Nazi's, freed the ape men and treated the survivors, stopped the Submariners from scuttling their boat, and won the day. The ape men threw a huge celebration in the PC's honor and gave them a bit of a lesson about the area, with it's nearby pirate town. As an aside they also discovered, in the sub, an enigma machine, and a coded letter to the government of Mexico, reminiscent of the Zimmerman telegraph.

    With a captured German sub, news of possible human allies, support of the native ape men, a captured submarine, and a need to get home, we ended the adventure.

    This was only a summary. There are things I have not detailed, or am having trouble detailing. For instance, the martial artist fighting the Nazi's was wonderful fun as he swung them around by their ankles. The Pilot was huge laughs as she zoomed around the camp drawing Nazi fire. The player of the sniper, learning that the ape man and the scion were in his tree with him exclaimed "How many people are in this thing". It was a lot of fun, and we want, no, need, to get the full rules and play it some more.
    Last edited by darjr; Sunday, 31st May, 2009 at 07:32 AM.
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  4. #4

    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    erg...

    I won't make the day. I'll miss free rpg day.

    I think I'll keep doing this however. Right. Until. The. Bitter. End.
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  5. #5

    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    This last Sunday we played the Dark Heresy quick start adventure, Shattered Hope.

    The first thing that struck me was that the rules are embedded within the adventure. I understand why they did it, and it's probably a good idea for a published product, but being unable to print out the quick start rules for my players was cumbersome. Speaking of printing, the pdf is in that style that eats toner like candy.

    Like the HEX quick start, there are some things on the character sheets that are not explained in the quick start rules. We dealt with those on the fly using house rules.

    Some house rules we added because the stats of the pregens were to low. I'll admit that I may have missed something in the rules, but the players kept missing checks left and right, it was a recurring theme. As an example, since the melee characters had a nice +10 they could get while charging, we added something similar to the ranged attacks with aiming and bracing bonuses.

    The adventure has some great setup scenes in the beginning for a lot of role play but then ended up, in the end, as a dungeon crawl. It did cover the bases of the rules and the dungeon has a nice little loophole for sharp players to pick up on with a little feeding by the GM, I do have to give the players all the credit. I liked the dungeon crawl, and it had some points for adding nice bits of story.

    The game also has 'fate' points, though we only actually used them once. I didn't quite understand that the adventure as written needed more things the players could sink their teeth into and improvise with, until near the very end. But boy did they take those items and run with em.

    There are more pregens and adventures at the site, even another intro, none that quite fit the bill of a quick one shot. After looking at the other intro adventure, however, I've decided that I should have read that one as well.

    I'll go over the rules in a following post.

    One last thing, the adventure, and the game, are very dark. There are no heroes, not really. I eventually took out a couple of scenes because we had kids playing and I was a little concerned, probably overly so. The scenes weren't gore filled, or overly violent, or sexual in nature, just very very grim and depressing.
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