Friday, July 3, 2020

Borchardbriar: We All Lift Together

Cell Table








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




Wild Cards joining your Cell gain d4 Repair




Gain a Network Contact. Current members gain an Edge.




Wild Cards joining your cell gain d4 Battle




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




Wild Cards joining your cell gain the Trademark Weapon Edge




Gain a Network Contact.Current members gain an Edge.




Wild Cards joining your cell gain the No Mercy Edge




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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Your Hideout’s foundations were laid with stone from the Bad Old Days before Reynard ascended to the throne. You can flintknap 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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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".

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

Borchardbriar: Clowdertown Blues

Proud Oaks
Where the wealthy play
Upper Garden
The richest part of the city
Braebuck's Ferry
Thieves and markets
Ninian East
The Cathedral
Corim Keep
The old keep, now a neighborhood
Government and the old cat city
Cemeteries and Graymalkin's tower
Heather Reach
Apothecaries and the gentle sort of danger
The Green
Boulevards & mercantile interests
The Fishery & warehouses
Deyna Square
Teashops and merchants
Rillflagg's Terrace
Vice and workhouses
The Litterbox
A shanty town 
The Docks
Gateway to the Burning South
Watched over by the Abbess
The old otter village, now a know of piers and houseboats.
The modern city of Clowdertown was established as two separate holdfasts grew together over time, an otter fishing village on the southern coast and a cat trading settlement in the upper delta. Since then it's endured a searat invasion, hurricanes, the Blight, and Greeneyes' reign of terror. Through it all the city, and its people, have held together. But that was back in the Bad Old Days when events felt fleeting before returning to an illusion of stability. Before the constant pressures of the Tithe and starvation.

These days, Reynard's eternal autumnal boughs frame a city known for two things: its prosperity and carefully balanced "neutrality" regarding the Foxlord. While the rustic villages and riverside towns throughout the land simmer with resentment against the Tithe, the other cities have proven silent, if not eager, collaborators. Clowdertown sends the fewest kits possible and selects them by lottery to maintain a pretense of impartiality. These practices make the city a destination for families at risk and a fertile recruiting ground for any sort of rebellion.

Clowdertown's Oddities
The Abbess - A killer prowling Waterside almost exclusively, their victims are found in a penitent's pose. Though the bounty keeps escalating with each victim, Waterside residents won't help the Meow Street Runners track the Abbess down.

"Feathers" - Notable for the dietary demands of its citizenry, cats and otters' demand for meat supports a thriving fish market and an illegal trade in poached songbirds aka "feathers". Rumors occasionally surface of more exclusive clubs hidden in the richest corners.

Gutter Regattas - Illegal boat races between otter crews to ultimately compete in the Great Row, an annual festival and competition in honor of the Birthing Waters. The winners' families are immune to the Tithe until the next festival.

Poison Gardens - Greeneyes strictly prohibited carrying weapons larger than a knife so the aristocracy found other ways to dispose of rivals. The cultivation and use of toxic, intoxicating, and narcotic plants was one of them. Most common in Verdauga and Heather Reach, you can find small bunches of dubious potency elsewhere.

Reticules -  Small drawstring pouches traditionally containing toxic paste should a beast need to dip a blade or claw for self defense, or assassination.  Now a fashion item embroidered or beaded sometimes signalling political affiliations or more clandestine desires.

What's the deed? (On a Clubs, draw an additional card for "What's Gone Wrong?")
2-5 - Surveillance.
6-8 - Delivery.
9-10 - Sowing unrest
Jack - Infiltration.
Queen - Black-bag job.
King-Ace - Assassination.
Joker - Clash in the open. Re-draw if Resistance is < 4

Where's the spot? (Hearts & Diamonds / Clubs & Spades)
2 - Abbey of the Alley / Fleeting Fetches
3 - Bread & Butter Bakery / Readnola Viaduct
4 - Serenity Bridge / Stormy Crossing
5 - Summermuse Avenue / Owl Track
6 - Ms. Kitty's / The Fishery
7 - Marley's / The Ashamed Rat
8 - Moon Market / Boiling Cauldron
9 - The Bitter Tortoise Theater / Goldguard Trading Company
10 - Goodberry Manse / Humbleblossom Estate
Jack - Tallstone Gatehouse / Duskdirge Garrison
Queen - Hammer & Tongs / Rodrig's Box & Tackle
King - Greeneyes Palace / Crescent Plaza
Ace - The Queen's Island / The Strongford
Joker - The Little Twin / Graymalkin's Tower

Who's the target?
2-5 - Civilian authorities collaborating with Reynard's regime. Who are they? Can they be turned?
6-8 - A small team of Meow Street Runners. Who do they work for? What are they investigating?
9-10 - A fat cat with a monstrous appetite. Which is it - Feathers? The 'nip? Taxidermy? Addermilk?
Jack - A coterie of Reynard's tithe takers. Draw an additional location card for their fall back plan.
Queen -A sorcerer, bard, or chimera who's been untrustworthy. What was their betrayal?
King-Ace - An infamous Wyldbreaker who's in town. What are they known for?
Joker - One of Reynard's winnowers is in town (black = the Bellringer / red = the Penitent)

What's gone wrong?
2-5 - They've been double-crossed by someone. Who was it?
6-8 - The target didn't show. Were they warned?
9-10 - The cell has a parallel opportunity. Draw a new set of cards to generate a parallel caper. Do they split the party?
Jack - Someone's raised the alarm! Bells! Flares! Watchmen on every street corner!
Queen - They've has been ambushed by (Red- Meow Street Runners / Black- Wyldbreaker and retinue). Do they fight or flee?
King-Ace - There's an additional target of opportunity. Do you take it? Draw again for the target.
Joker - Depends. Red Joker = Everything goes smooth, for once. Black Joker = Someone has sold them out, there's a bounty on the cell's heads and the Hunt may begin soon. Increase the Cell's Rep by 2.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Borchardbriar: Unseen Principalities and Unclean Spirits

ARCANE SKILL: Performance (Spirit)
Bards are highly skilled performers but they're more than simple musicians. Scraps of power hide in the shanties, stories, and songs echoing through pubs and churches. A bard coaxes these echoes, drawing on their legendary feats or offering a balm to their comrades.

Suggested Powers: boost trait, darksight, deflection, fear, healing, protection, quickness, speak language, succor, summon ally, warrior's gift
Backlash: Drawing on the Distant Past can leave an open door for phantoms to come forward and relive their glory days. 1 Ghost per Wild Card appears, make reaction rolls for each ghost. This is in addition to normal Backlash.

ARCANE SKILL: Bend Shape (Strength)
Chimeras tap into the land's Wild Magic, flexing an immaterial set of muscles to alter their forms to grow quills, massive size, or a sticky tongue as needed. Many live on the fringes of city and town, hesitant to expose themselves to Wyldbreakers.

Note: A chimera's powers are limited to targeting themselves unless they pay for Additional Recipients or it makes narrative sense.

Suggested Powers: burrow, damage field, entangle, farsight, fly, growth, shape change, and anything else you can work out with your GM.
Backlash: The Wild Magic slips through your grip and runs rampant. All trees, grass, ivy, etc. in a league suddenly grow large, aggressively biting into any buildings, roads, or walls in the vicinity. This is in addition to normal Backlash.

ARCANE SKILL: Spellcasting (Smarts)
Sorcerers understand the World is patchwork stitched together by unseen forces and high powers. Through practice they learn the rituals, gestures, and words in the Watchers' Blue Tongue to command the little needles, producing magical effects when invoked.

Suggested Powers: banish, blind, boost/lower trait, clairvoyance, deflection, detect/conceal arcana, dispel, divination, elemental manipulation, puppet, slow, slumber, teleport, wall walker
Backlash:  There's a catch or snag when you release the spell, the ripping and tearing fundamentally alters the area (large template) until the next full moon. Water is not wet. Fire does not burn. Air chokes. Earth floats into the sky. This is in addition to normal Backlash.

Everybeast has heard a similar tale: a beast has stopped breathing, pulled from a river or similar accident, and thought to be dead. When they cough up the water, or what-have-you, they recover quickly. Nonetheless they were lost to us for a time.

And where were they while not-quite-dead? Stuck as the soil beneath our paws. The Golden Meadow or Dark Forest promised by the Abbey? No. They tell us of a blue expanse full of chill light.

Show me a beast who claims ignorance of this place and I will show you a liar. They've been to the Yonder, an Otherworld arching over our heads we all visit briefly on the cusp of sleep. Which is important to remember. Unlike the Watchers, we're just passing through.

Clutch that Saint's medallion close when you sleep, lest the witch-birds swoop in and steal your good dreams. Those oddities of churning wings and fiery eyes have long memories and witness everything. I bet they remember before Reynard ruled Castle Borchardbriar.

Is it any wonder Sorcerers build towers to entreat them for secrets, power, and patronage?
Bartering the bones of our dead for their greed.

- Crait, Retired Meow Street Runner