Saturday, September 19, 2020

BIGGER THAN BIG. TALLER THAN TALL.

M. Asif Khan grew up in a Pakistani village surrounded by the Himalayas. As the mountains dominated his vision, they similarly dominated his life. He started mountain climbing to conquer these titans and symbolically rise above his origins. He was not prepared for how literal this would be.

While scaling a recently shifted mountainside, Asif discovered a metallic giant packed in the ice and snow, thawing out under the sun. He drew close to the enormous figure and reached out, brushing the metal skin with his fingertips. In a flash the figure disappeared into Asif. The sudden cavity in the mountainside quickly filled with a crush of tumbling ice, snow, and scree dragging him along.

Though he fell just a man, Asif emerged from the rubble and scree as BRUM - THE MOUNTAIN AMONG MONSTERS.

In its last act the alien bestowed the Titan Factor on Asif. Now able to attain tremendous stature, Brum led a successful career combating, and sometimes cooperating with, the planet's Daikaiju. A career that functionally ended when Stellar Tyrant Ophiuchus invaded from the solar system. Joining forces with the Daikaiju, they repelled the Tyrant at great cost: Ptera Khan would never fly again, Anglax was blinded, and Brum couldn't change back into Asif. Now forever a Titan.

Now a resident of the Bonin Island Refuge, Brum must negotiate a new equilibrium.

ATTRIBUTES
Agility d8 Smarts d6 Spirit d8 Strength d12+16 Vigor d10

SKILLS
Academics d6, Athletics d10, Common Knowledge d6, Fighting d8, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Science d6

PACE 6 PARRY 6 TOUGHNESS 53 (30)

HINDRANCES
Enemy (Major, The Stellar Tyrant believes all Titan Factors belong to him), Heroic (Major)

EDGES
Brute, Iron Jaw, Mutation (Size x2), 

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Blunt Force Trauma - 2d12+16, AP 24
Dependency (Sunlight, the only thing that sustains him)
Racial Enemy (Daikaiju, his unwilling "housemates" hold a grudge)
Sapient (Brum is capable of complex thought and full speech)
Size 18 (Larger than your average Daikaiju, Brum has Heavy Armor, can suffer three additional wounds and Stomp)


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Tuesday Reviewsday: ThunderCats (2011)

 

We're drowning in fantastic animation. In the age of Avatar, Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power you're easily forgiven the sin of overlooking the excellent 2011 ThunderCats series. After all, it hasn't been on any streaming service as far as I know.

Recently added to Hulu, the 2011 series was planned for 52 episodes but tragically cut in half when the toy sales failed to meet expectations. I don't use the word "tragic" lightly considering how good the 26 episodes were I wish the studio could have finished their tale. I hold no nostalgia for the original series and this series grabbed me by the throat. The stakes are high, the animation fluid, the voice acting is top notch, and the characters draw you in. In the alternate world where the 2011 ThunderCats reached its conclusion, we might praise it as effusively as Avatar: the Last Airbender.

Both ThunderCats (1985) and ThunderCats (2011) are streaming on Hulu right now.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Borchardbriar: We All Lift Together



Cell Table

Rank

Rep

Resistance

Expertise

0

0

0

Start with 2 Network Contacts, a Hideout, and 1 Defense

1

1

1

Wild Cards joining your Cell gain d4 Repair

2

2

1

Gain a Network Contact. Current members gain an Edge.

3

3

2

Wild Cards joining your cell gain d4 Battle

4

4

2

The Cell gains a Benny any Wild card or Extra can use.

5

5

3

Wild Cards joining your cell gain the Trademark Weapon Edge

6

6

3

Gain a Network Contact.Current members gain an Edge.

7

7

4

Wild Cards joining your cell gain the No Mercy Edge

8

8

4

The Cell gains a Benny any Wild card or Extra can use.

Increasing the Cell's Rank costs a number of Food equal to the next Rank.


Rep is a measure of renown among the oppressed and heat from the oppressor. 


Resistance is a bonus to Battle rolls. Certain Hideout Edges allow you to add this bonus to other rolls as well.


The Hideout starts with 1 Defense. You can choose from: deadfall (burst), smoke wires (darkness), lockjaw traps (ensnare), or clay pots with stinging insects (summon minion). The powers are activated with a d8, or the highest Repair skill in the Cell, and 10 Power Points.

Feel free to create your own with GM approval.


Hideout Edges - A Cell's maximum number of Hideout Edges is equal to the Cell’s Rank.


BELLS & WIRES

You’ve strung thin wire across every entryway and set small bells to act as a crude alarm system. Incidentally you’ve gotten good and bypassing similar arrangements, add +1 to Stealth and Thievery checks indoors.


BOLTHOLE

The hideout has an escape tunnel running into a nearby district. The tunnel is tight and can be collapsed to block pursuit. Though this can cause problems for larger members of the Resistance.


BUNKS

Maybe your home isn’t safe since you fell into the Resistance. Or you don’t have a home. Either way the Hideout has bunks for you to sleep in. Add Resistance in opposed rolls to be tracked since you can vary your patterns.


DISTILLERY

It ain’t much but you can produce the basis for myriad elixirs and potions: snakebite. Of course you could always just drink it. You receive 1 shot of Snakebite per Wild Card at the beginning of each caper or adventure. You can take this Hideout Edge multiple times but instead you add 1 shot of Snakebite each time, to be distributed separately.


GUTTER FLEET

Down the canal there’s a skiff or two tied off to a hidden dock. Add Resistance to your first Boating check during a Dramatic Task.


INFIRMARY

With a bed for long term convalescence, bandages, and a cabinet packed with herbal remedies; you're ready when things go sideways. Add Resistance to your Recovery rolls to bounce back from the Injury Table.


IMPREGNABLE

Most Hideouts have one active Defense, but you’ve developed additional lines of Defense. Choose one: an additional Defense, increase the Power Points by 10, or increase the activation die by one step. You can take this Hideout Edge multiple times but you have to pick a different option each time.


PACTSTONE FOUNDATION

Your Hideout’s foundations were laid with stone from the Bad Old Days before Reynard ascended to the throne. You can knap pactstone shards for use in small, light weapons like knives and arrows. During the Muster Phase, add +2 to your test to procure such items.


PARTNERS IN CRIME

The Meow Street Runners are fracturing and some have abandoned their posts. Now they’re on your side with inside information. You generate an additional caper and draw an additional action card during dramatic tasks. You can choose which card to use.


PRINTING PRESS

With wondrous machinery you can now get the word out. When you Muster Forces, add a d4 to the number of Extras you rally to the cause. You can take this Edge multiple times.


SECRET SHRINE

Maybe y’all built it yourselves or maybe it was here before you moved in, but in a small alcove there’s a shrine to the 3 Forgotten Seasons. Choose one: Albina the Spring Sow, Chaunteclure the Summer Bantam, or Gilgen the Winter Elk. During the Muster phase, you may choose to pray at the shrine and make a Spirit roll. If you’re successful gain one below power with a reserve of Power Points equal to you roll for the rest of the Caper. Use Persuasion for power activation.

  • Albina, the Spring Sow - Growth

  • Chaunteclure, the Summer Bantam - Warrior’s Gift

  • Gilgen, the Winter Elk -  Slumber


SORCEROUS SANCTUM

Ritual reagents and sanctified space allow the canny sorcerer to craft Talismans of various sorts and perform rituals held in check until the right moment. Add Resistance to your first power activation or power damage roll per caper.


THE STACKS

Piles of books pile up in a hideout corner. Thumbing through them can prove useful. Add Resistance to Research and Academics checks.


VOLUND'S STONE

Getting a piece of Pactstone to sharpen blades rather than blunt them is no mean feat. All Cell members with the Trademark Weapon Edge now add Resistance to damage rolls


WAREHOUSES

Somewhere off-site you have space to hold contraband and hide people. Reduce the Crackdown by 1 when you steal material, liberate tithes, or kidnap someone.


WORK BENCH

Equipped with a cornucopia of tools, the cell is now better able to prepare the materials for their mission. Add Resistance to Repair rolls needed to create or maintain the means of mayhem.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tuesday Reviewsday: Corto Maltese


Corto Maltese is a series of European action/adventure comics by famed Italian creator, Hugo Pratt, chronicling the life of its titular character through the early decades of the 20th century. Though related to Tintin, Gil Jordan, Lupin III, and other continental adventurers, Corto carries himself more as a pulpy Sinbad the Sailor. Embarking on adventures for lost Imperial Spanish gold and thwarting Nazi spies for the sake of outrunning boredom than the allure of wealth or pursuit of truth. Along the way he crosses paths with historical figures like Rasputin, Butch Cassidy, Ernest Hemingway, and Jack London.

With striking black and white art from an artist at the height of his powers and narrative depth belying comics, Corto Maltese is well worth the time. Especially if you love pulp adventure tales staring colonialism's ugliness full-on. This series is definitely in the Old Man's Bar DNA. The stories have most recently been translated and printed by IDW and some animation was done 4-5 years ago.



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Tuesday Reviewsday: The Sinner

We're all spending time at home as the Troubles extend into a 4th month and probably watching a lot of TV. If so, you've found you can only watch Terriers (on Hulu right now) so many times before you need a new crime drama. You can replace Terriers with something else more fitting your tastes - True Detective, Black Spot, The Shield, Bosch, The Glades, or what-have-you. But the sentiment is the same.

There's a LOT of good media out there but we consistently return to the crime drama/police procedural well for some degree of comfort. Even in the most hardboiled or noir story offer a structure delineating the good, the bad, and the bad-but-good-enough-to-live-with into boxes and delivering some sort of justice in an increasingly unjust world. The Sinner dumps those comfortable boxes out on the floor and kicks the contents into the wall where hey break and spill, leaking their contents into a runny mess defying a shallow viewing. In the first season Jessica Biel plays Cora Tanetti, a seemingly placid housewife, who stabs a man to death at a public beach in upstate New York. Bill Pullman plays Detective Harry Ambrose, a police detective on the rocks, who feels a pull that Cora's crime is a part of something larger and, like a bad tooth, just can't leave it alone.

If you enjoy being pushed out into deep water and feeling your way back to shore, then The Sinner would be for you.


The Sinner seasons 1 & 2 are currently on Netflix.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Tuesday Reviewsday: Space Dandy

Hey everybody, Aaron here. It's been a long time since my last post, but I've been really busy writing adventures and mysteries for games such as: Savage Rifts, Trophy, and Brindlewood Bay. Besides being the Head Writer for a ZineQuest 2 Kickstarter project Oligarchy - a game of political folly. Those are all wrapping up in the near future so I have time to get back to Tuesday Reviewsday. 

Earlier this month we finished watching Space Dandy! a science fiction comedy anime from Shinchiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo fame. Over the course of the series, the titular character travels the star in his tiki themed spaceship searching for alien lifeforms, falling in love, and hanging out at an interstellar Hooters. It's a love letter to fishbowl helmets, rayguns, scantily clad ladies, Americana, and high adventure across a lurid galaxy. Every episode shares a loose continuity but rarely impact one another. Which is probably for the better since that gives each episode room to breathe, no matter how gonzo or ridiculous the individual premise may seem. 

Overall the show alternates between lighthearted and poignant, delivering  a heartfelt salute to its influences while leaning on animation's strengths. Similar to Watanabe's other series the soundtrack is impeccable. I mean, watch this:


If you like pulpy sci-fi stories like Flash Gordon, the Original Star Trek, Secret of Sinharat or Barbarella you should check out Space Dandy! You can watch it on Hulu.

If you'd rather have dandy adventures in space for your next tabletop game, then check out Troika! the Otherworld's Favorite Roleplaying Game (art free SRD here) and try out Across the Humpbacked Sky, Baby! from Carol and I. It's a collaborative framework for creating weird aliens and some weird planets for them to hide on.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

TROIKA! - The Tears of Time

On the surface, Guardia resembles any mythical medieval sphere across the humpbacked sky except a hyperdimensional parasite, the Devourer, slumbers at the world's heart. Its dreams peel away at potential timelines, grooming all life to an ideal form for consumption. This process left the wall between epochs thin if you wish to travel between them.

Upon arriving via golden barge, you can enter a "time gate" to visit 3 other distinct eras: Prehistory - where humans, dinosaurs, and lizard-men are locked in a struggle for survival, the Middle Ages -  a high romance of knights and magic, and the Wastes- where destitute humans huddle for shelter in arcologies away from the mutants and killer robots outside. A research mission from the Academy of Doors can be found in Truce, trying to find a path to the "End of Time".


SILENT SWORDSMAN
Your life was so simple before the Millenium Fair. Then the mysterious beauty stepped into your inventor friend's telepod, tearing a hole through the immaterium of time and space. You leaped in after her and found yourself adrift among the humpbacked sky.

Possessions
Headband
Katana (Damage as Longsword)
Padded Vest (Light Armor)
Eager to Help

Advanced Skills
4 Whirling Swordplay
2 Left-handed
2 Time Traveler
1 Spell - Jolt

GIRL GENIUS
A brilliant inventor and the swordsman's childhood friend. Since the princess got herself lost with your telepod you feel responsible to track her down. Bouncing from sphere to sphere, you haven't found her but you repaired some friends along the way.

Possessions
Pea Shooter (Damage as Pistolet)Pouch with 20 Bullets
Toolkit
Taban's Vest (Light Armor)

Advanced Skills
3 Mathmology
2 Mechanical Genius
2 Spell - Explode 
2 Time Traveler
1 Pistolet Fighting
1 Hammer Fighting

RUNAWAY PRINCESS
Bored with palace life you slipped out to enjoy the Millenium Fair. Too bad you also slipped through space and time. Stupid telepod. Now you have no idea where, much less when, you are.

Possessions
Bowgun (Damage as Crossbow)
10 Quarrels
A Mystical Pendant (Roll twice for any Oops! test and choose one of the results)
Maiden Suit (Light Armor)
A Case of Mistake Identity

Advanced Skills 3 Spell - Drown
2 Second Sight
2 Blonde Bombshell
1 Healing
1 Crossbow Fighting

FROG-FACED CAVALIER
Once a squire in service of the Kingdom's Royal Family, following the death of your mentor at the demon king's hand you're trapped in a monstrous form. Now you seek revenge and your lost queen across the shining spheres.

Possessions
Cursed Frog Form (Do all the things frogs do)
Greatsword
A Love for Their Queen
Bronze Mail (Modest Armor)

Advanced Skills
3 Etiquette
3 Knightly Combat
3 Leg Day
1 Awareness

Special
You may test Luck to ignore the downsides of a curse.

ACHY BREAKY AUTOMATON
Originally built to assist mankind in the post-apocalyptic wasteland after the Devourer at the world's heart emerged and stripped all life. With some vague recollection of the way the world was, you set out to do more.

Possessions
Kaiser Arm (Damage as Maul)
Steel Body (Achy Breaky Automatons always count as Modestly Armored)
Sympathy for Humanity

Advanced Skills
3 My Body Is Full of Weapons
2 Voluntary Arborist
2 If They Had a Heart
2 Keep On Ticking

Special
When you suffer Mighty Damage roll Keep On Ticking. If you succeed then lose a system instead of taking damage: optics, speakers, memory banks, arms, or legs.

QUEEN OF THE STONE AGE
Chief of a tribe locked in constant war with lizard-men. You left your people with allies from the distant future, reassured you would return in seconds of your departure. It's been 3 years.

Possessions
Piece of the Dreamstone
Enormous Club (Damage as Club)
Queenly Authority

Advanced Skills 4 Strength
2 Club Fighting
2 Fierce Courage
1 Blonde Bombshell

Special
You can eat 6 Provisions per day to recover Stamina. You can't improve or acquire any ranged Weapon Skills but you can always throw boulders with Strength.

DEMON KING
You were the prince of a golden age until you brushed against the Devourer's sleeping mind. Flung through space and far flung epochs, you long to resurrect your lost kingdom. Stabilizing a new time gate to your home era may be the solution.

Possessions
Moonsharp Scythe (Damage as Spear)
Raven Armor (Light Armor)
Grief For a Bygone Age

Advanced Skills 2 Spell - Firebolt
2 Spell -Thunder
2 Spell - Ward
2 Spear Fighting
1 Astrology
1 Second Sight