Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Numenera - The Devil's Spine - Session 1

The Devil's Spine Campaign Log

Welcome to our group's campaign log for The Devil's Spine, a mega-adventure by +Monte Cook for the Numenera campaign setting.  This is my second crack at this terrific module, my first taking place over two years ago, back when I first started GM'ing Numenera.  I've learned quite a bit since then, and have thoroughly enjoyed so many of the enigmatic and peculiar aspects that can only be found in the Ninth World.  But something about this adventure continued to call to me.  I really wanted to circle back and give it another go!

I'll be perfectly up front with you all: this is going to just be a simple campaign log.  Don't expect too much commentary at the beginning of each session report.  Initially I was just going to do one, massive log that I updated week after week, but I got a little nervous of deleting the entire thing by accident with continued editing of the same post.  I also don't want you to expect any high-quality writing here... this is pretty much just going to be an information dump session after session.  

If you have any questions or remarks about The Devil's Spine adventure, our campaign, or anything else Numenera related, please feel free to leave a comment below!


Okay, I said no commentary, but I need to add a little commentary when it comes to my players and the characters they created.  I absolutely adore each of these imaginative designs.  During last night's session we spent the first hour ironing out descriptions and backgrounds, and creating connections between each of the characters.  That way, when we started the actual adventure, there actually appeared to be real relationships between the five Numenera hunters.

So here's our crew:

Belmodan, a Resourceful Seeker who Wields a Whip, played by +andrew lyon 

  • Description:  Short.  Wears an anachronistic hat and leather jacket.  Carries an energy whip.
  • Background:  Discovered a synth time capsule, found a strange exotic laser disk of an explorer being chased by a gigantic boulder.  Decided to pattern his own appearance after this person.  Now he travels the land with his energy whip and the laser disk, in search of adventure.  
  • Connection: Keane always seems to be getting in Belmodan's way, and is frequently struck by the Seeker's energy whip in combat.  

Keane, a Rebellious Glaive who Likes to Break Things, played by +Craig McCullough 

  • Description:  A big, strong, well armored anarchist, who doesn't like the government.  
  • Background:  Keane is a biomechanically modified warrior, created by the nobility of the Pytharon Empire for reasons unknown.
  • Connection:  Keane promised PL4T0 to break the first thing that he is commanded to.  This opportunity hasn't quite presented itself yet.

Nero, a Mad Nano who Travels Through Time, played by +David Howard 

  • Description:  A crazy, muttering man dressed in eclectic assorted fashion styles.  Many of his garments seem to be from impossible time periods.  Constantly plagued by deja vu. 
  • Background:  A bearer of forbidden knowledge who does not remember his past per se.  Nero has multiple memories of his past, but with chunks of missing time.  Occasionally he blacks out only to not remember who he is.   Nero is convinced that time itself has rewritten him.  
  • Connection:  Nero is a distant ancestor of Ruun.  Ruun anchors Nero to the present.  

PL4T0, an Artificially Intelligent Jack who Resides in Silicon, played by +Marc Plourde

  • Description: A tiny, floating 5" dodecahedron wearing an aviator cap.
  • Background:  A helper-bot-droid-thing created by a prior world's civilization.  One part extra hands, one part knowledge database.  PL4T0 has a multitude of skills programmed into its memory bank, but many are not accessible because it's been in a low power state for quite some time.  
  • Connection:  PL4T0 picked up and activated by Nero after a long dormancy.  Nero did not realize that PL4T0 was a self aware entity at first, but is learning this over time. 

Ruun, an Exiled Glaive who Gazes into the Abyss, played by +William Keller 

  • Description:  A 7' tall, lanky, late teen.  Very greasy and dirty, with a feral  appearance.  Covered in deformities.
  • Background:  Ruun was a normal kid until around ten years old when he was abducted from his village.  Ruun does not know who or what abducted him, but occasionally has flashbacks to bright lights and experimentation.  Six weeks later he returned, but started to change physically.  Ruun grew abnormally fast, freaking out the rest of his village.  Eventually he was driven out of the village, and learned his fighting abilities on his own.  
  • Connection: Keane and Belmodan know that it's beneficial for Ruun to occasionally eat a creature every few days.

Session 1 

Day 1

A reckless band of numenera hunters recently came to the city of Uxphon, just north of the Steadfast.  Two of the wanderers, Keane and Belmodan, had been friends and companions for the last five years, exploring all along the edge of the Steadfast and the Beyond.  Three months ago, during a jaunt into the Beyond, the two compatriots met Ruun, a young barbarian with a wild temper and feral appetite.  Not long after, a bizarre man named Nero approached the party, with a strange interest in Ruun.  The last member of the crew, PL4T0, was actually discovered by Nero during a numenera hunting excursion, with the nano believing the small hovering bot to be an artifact from the prior world.  

After a month of learning the in's and out's of Uxphon, Keane offered his team up to the local rebellion efforts.  Keane's contact with the rebellion was a man named Doomi Laast.  The rebels sought to overthrow the local oligarchy, and free the people of the Uxphon.  For their first mission, Keane's team was to ransack the home of Baron Tichronus, and keep any interesting pieces of numenera or information that could be useful to the rebellion.

The team broke into the home and started their search.  One of PL4T0's cyphers showed four occupants: one on the main floor, and three in an area below the estate.  Upon entering the home, Nero popped a reflex-improving cypher.  The chemical inadvertently gave Nero a vision of being in this place before, but in a prior world when it the Earth was part of the Grand Galactic Empire of [an unpronounceable guttural noise].  Nero made several loud comments, drawing the attention of Dorial, the house's butler.  Dorial wasn't ready for visitors, but before he could call the guard, the butler was cornered, threatened, and told to stay quiet and out of the way.  

The party then started searching the house.  Along the western side of the estate was a great, circular, two story library.  PL4T0's cypher showed that there were three human sized creatures below the library, so Belmodan and Nero began going through the books.  Eventually they found a set of buttons with weird symbols.  Collectively using their skills, abilities, and pieces numenera, the trio uncovered a secret chamber below their feet.  But when they triggered the right combination of buttons, the floor disappeared, and everyone tumbled down thirty feet.  Everyone but Ruun, who was busy in the kitchen eating pickles.

The secret chamber was full of purple eggs, with weird slithering creatures moving around the fallen adventurers' feet.  At the edge of the chamber, three naked humans with black spines huddled together.  PL4T0 went to investigate the humans, but the rest of his human companions soon learned that the weird slithering creatures were not so mundane.  The creatures crawled up their legs and took root in the numenera hunters' backs.  Belmodan and Keane removed their garments, revealing that they now had black spines of their own!  

The PL4T0 tried helping its companions remove the parasites, but when the bot attacked them, the naked humans rushed into combat.  A brutal combat ensued, with Belmodan ripping off several of the naked humans' legs with his energy whip.  Ruun eventually came to investigate what was going on, but was pushed into the hole by Dorial.  Ruun caught the ledge, lifted himself up, and then pushed Dorial down.  Then Ruun jumped down thirty feet onto Dorial's head, killing the butler.  

When the naked humans were killed, the party heard two things.  The first was a woman's voice above, in the estate foyer, calling for the Baron.  The second was the scratching of a stone woman's form, sliding out from a fleshy passage in the southern wall of the pit. 


"I call reverse dibs." - Marc on getting murdered.  

"I was here before the hills were made!" - Nero started stating loudly upon entering the Tichronus Estate.

"I'm going to cup him in the face and say 'I'm going to kill you in a moment.'" - David (playing Nero) to Dorial.

"I'm just thinking Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark would've ended really early if there had been a laser whip." - Marc commenting on Andy's character Belmodan, and all of the leg-ripping-off action going on.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fowl Deeds - A Gods of the Fall Thanksgaming Adventure

Thanksgaming is becoming a Walls family tradition in our house.  This tradition started two years ago, when I ran a turkey-themed game of The Strange for my family in Delaware.  The experience went so well that we went for repeat last year but with just the wife and kids.  Well now it's just expected that I am going to do a Thanksgiving themed game every year!  

If you're interested in those escapades, here are the links:

This year, however, we're changing things up a bit.  

First, I decided to change out The Strange for +Bruce R Cordell's dark fantasy Cypher System setting: Gods of the Fall.  

Second, instead of giving you a big adventure recap, showcasing how much fun we had playing, I thought I'd just share the adventure with you, so that you can run it for your own gaming group!  We'll be running it for our family tonight, and I may even chat about the results later, but the main focus of this blog post is to give you something to try out.  

One more thing... the map.  A lot of the inspiration for this map came from The Fallen Keep, a terrific piece by +Miska Fredman.  If you'd like a high-res version of this map, with multiple variations, you can download it now over at DrivethruRPG.  Alternatively, you can be supercool like me and just become one of Miska's patrons over on his Patreon page.  That's how I roll, and I suggest you roll with me!

Now... on to the adventure... 

Fowl Deeds


With the quality of an afterlife in question, many in the city of Cryserech cheat death by undergoing a process known as the Necromigration.  This process involves the participant paying a healthy sum, getting ritually murdered, and then returning to life as a Reanimated corpse.  

But what if there was another way to extend one's life?  

Vincenzo Vincenzi, a native Cryseran, developed an alternative that would allow the participants to continue living in a flesh and blood form, albeit with a few added feathers.  A bit of a mad scientist and expert alchemist, Vincenzo had worked on a way to transfer the consciousness of an individual from one body to another.  But with a lack of willing human participants, Vincenzo turned to the one creature that he knew he could count on.  Trained War Turkeys.  While serving in the Cryseran military, Vincenzo trained war turkeys for combat.  With their reinforced beaks, and stealthy manner, War Turkeys were silent killers while War Hounds just tended to do a lot of barking.  

Vincenzo's method was simple.  An alchemical formula was mixed and placed in a large jar. The patient looking to transfer their consciousness would have their brain liquified and then poured from the nose into the same jar.  The host's brain was then liquified and removed as well.  So long as Vincenzo performed the process within a few minutes, all he had to do was pour the patient's brains (mixed with the chemicals) into the host's nostril, and the organ would reform.  


Although the initial process was just supposed to be tested on turkeys, eventually it could be used from human to human.  Perhaps an old human could have their brain poured into the skull of a criminal or slave.  The opportunities were endless!  But Vincenzo needed a plan, and he had some War Turkeys.  So he had his assistant Daphne attempt the process on him, using one of his War Turkeys as the host.  But Daphne made a mistake!  She didn't fully liquify the brain of the War Turkey.  So when Vincenzo's brain porridge was poured into the skull of the host, it fused with some of the remaining Turkey brain bits.  

Vincenzo retained much of his own consciousness, but also many of the motives of a regular Trained War Turkey - destruction, gobbling, and a "turkey-kind first" attitude.  Vincenzo Vincenzi took on the moniker of the Foulest Fowl, and started up the Feathered Salvation, an organization that offered the citizens of Cryserech a true alternative to the Necromigration: the Fowl Soul Transplantation.  

Starting the Adventure

The player characters (PC's) have been approached by Ishver, the Necromigration Conductor of Cryserech.  Ishver has heard that a new and terrible alternative to the Necromigration has been researched by a mad alchemist who calls himself the Foulest Fowl.  The wicked scientist, and his Feathered Salvation, is attempting to lure Cryserans to the edge of the Dead Wood where they can attempt a process that will allow them to keep a flesh and blood form, and get a brand new body.  The Foulest Fowl even claims that his new process doesn't even require getting staked to a pole and left to die... it's supposed to be a lot less painful actually.

Ishver can't have that!  

The Necromigration Conductor needs the Foulest Fowl dealt with.  Although the PC's aren't required to kill the mad alchemist, they need to shut down his operation as soon as possible.  If successful, the PC's will be given a great boon of some kind.  Most likely a sack of stars and all the turkey they can eat  

Arriving at the Fallen Keep

When the PC's arrive at the edge of the Dead Wood, it does not take long to come across the Fallen Keep.  It is important to keep in mind the scene from the edge the forest.
  • First it's quite dark.  This is the Nightlands, so there is no sun within view.  
  • It's also stormy.  
    • This could lead to a really nasty GM Intrusion opportunity, with one of the PC's getting struck by lightning.  Level 5 Might Defense roll or be reduced down the damage track one step for 10 minutes.  Wait, that's a pretty nasty GM Intrusion isn't it?  Tough... this is Thanksgiving... and that's how we roll!
  • If the PC's search (difficulty 5) they will find large turkey tracks in the mud surrounding the broken walls of the keep.

Map courtesy of +Miska Fredman! Get yours here.

Entering the Keep

The outer wall of the Fallen Keep is broken in several places but fairly easy to navigate.  Entering through the obvious entrance seems to make sense, but there's a gobbling risk.  
  • Going through the eastern entrance brings about the wrath of three Trained War Turkeys.  Each Trained War Turkey attacks from darkness, attempting to surprise the PC's (level 6 difficulty, given the darkness).  If they win, they get to attack first.  
  • Climbing the broken walls is easier, with only a difficulty 2 to not trip and fall (3 points of Might damage).    

Upper Keep

The main portion of the keep is rather empty.  A single hallway circles the central chamber.  Of course, there is danger in this area as well.  
  • If the PC's haven't encountered the 3 Trained War Turkeys in the outer area, they attack the PC's from behind when they enter this area.
  • The northernmost chamber of this area is full of dead turkey carcasses.  These are the Trained War turkeys who have died in surgery.  There are six corpses in all, and if the PC's search them (Level 4 difficulty), they will find signs that some kind of procedure was done to them, as well as the nature.
  • The central chamber leads to the roof of the keep.  There, the PC's will find cages full of carrier pigeons, and hundreds of parchment letters reading the following:  "Friends of Cryserech, know that there is an alternative to the foul Necromigration.  Join the Feathered Salvation, and transfer your soul to a living, breathing creature today!"  
  • The eastern chamber has a stairwell that leads down into the Cellar Level 1.

Cellar Level 1

The chambers on this level were built by Vincenzo's now dead servants to serve as living quarters for those looking to take on their new form.  Now they reek of dead flesh, and are home to the Ghoubblers: the failed experiments of Vincenzo.  While his own experiment worked, he is no longer able to do the procedure properly.  
  • Ghoulbbler attack!  In one of these rooms the party is attacked by a trio of Ghoulbblers.  These beasts fight to the death, and make a lot of noise doing so.  
  • In the common room, the PC's will find the dead bodies of several older humans.  Most have been pecked terribly by Ghoulbblers.  All are wearing ceremonial turkey feathered robes.  
  • The dungeon in this cellar houses three humans that tried to change their mind.  Dilbers, Mack, and Jalla.  The three humans are all in their mid to late sixties, and will claim that they feared becoming undead.  They also didn't want to become turkeys, and once they discovered the terrible procedure, they revolted.  Unfortunately they were all captured and placed in the dungeon.  
  • Also in the dungeon is Daphne.  Daphne refuses to assist her former teacher Vincenzo in performing any more operations, but the Foulest Fowl cannot kill her, as she is the only person who was able to perform the procedure successfully.  Daphne wants her freedom, and claims that Vincenzo was once a good man until his mind got "gobbled."  

Cellar Level 2

The heart of the operation, here's where Vincenzo is attempting to change the world... one turkey at a time.   
  • If the PC's search the cellar chambers without being careful to remain quiet, they should be under constant attack by Ghoubblers.  Throw two or three against them every so often.  
  • The Nest is home to the remaining Trained War Turkeys.  There are five left alive, as well as a nest of smaller eggs.  On their home turf the Trained War Turkeys fight much more brutally, causing an additional 2 points of damage with their savage beaks.  
    • GM Intrusion idea!  While fighting the Trained War Turkeys, the PC's fail to notice several chicks stalking them on the ceiling.  Several of the chicks descend on a PC and peck at their eyes.  They are blinded for the next round, and must make a Speed test (level 3) to pry them off after.  
  • The PC's can search the Cesspool, full of Turkey poo, and uncover 1d3 random cyphers.  These are all eggs that have been warped by the alchemy.  
  • Vincenzo is located in the Slaughter Chamber... er... I mean Surgery Room.  This is where he'll make the final stand, with at least one Ghoulbbler at his side.
    • GM Intrusion Idea... GROUP INTRUSION!  If the PC's have freed Daphne, she will lead them through the secret door into the Slaughter Chamber.  Essentially she is delivering the PC's to their potential doom, and will try to assist her former master.  Treat Daphne as a Level 4 threat with 12 health.  Instead of attacking, she will work to increase the difficulty of all PC actions by 1 step during the battle until she is defeated.  
  • If the PC's search, they can find a secret path outside of the Nest that leads to thousands upon thousands of turkey nests in a much greater chamber.  There is no way the PC's can deal with this threat now, especially as they start to hatch.  Probably best to get out now!


With Vincenzo defeated or captured, the PC's can return to Cryserech and speak with Ishver.  They will certainly get a reward, and if they speak of the greater threat, Ishver may give the PC's a small force of soldiers to defeat the threat.  This could lead to a second turkey-themed Gods of the Fall adventure... of your own design!

Fowl Bestiary

  • Trained War Turkey - 3 (9):  Vincenzo only selected the finest war turkeys for his Fowl Soul Transplantation stock.  These Trained War Turkeys are used like attack dogs.
    • Motive:  Protect the Fallen Keep.
    • Environment:  Anywhere around the Fallen Keep, or in the occasional Cryserech military unit.
    • Health:  9
    • Damage Inflicted:  4
    • Armor:  0
    • Movement:  Short, can fly a short distance as well.
    • Modifications:  Evade traps and Stealth as Level 5
    • Combat:  The Trained War Turkey prefers to glide in for a stealthy attack and then flee.  
    • Interaction:  Trained War Turkey's can't be reasoned with or bargained with.  They will find you.  They will kill you.
    • Use:  Trained War Turkeys are a little known secret of Cryserech's military.  
    • Loot:  None
  • Ghoulbbler - 4 (12):  The failed husk of a botched Fowl Soul Transplantation.  
    • Motive:  Death!
    • Environment:  Anywhere around the Fallen Keep.  
    • Health:  12
    • Damage Inflicted:  5
    • Armor:  1
    • Movement:  Short, can also glide a short distance
    • Modifications:  Stealth as Level 5.  Ghoulbbler's are creepy buggers!
    • Combat:  Ghoulbbler's prefer to attack through stealth an assassination.  On the first round of combat, if the target is surprised or hasn't attacked yet, the Ghoulbbler's attack is at a difficulty of 6. 
    • Interaction:  Ghoulbblers may be the broken experiments of Vincenzo, but they still serve their master.
    • Use:  Even if the Fallen Keep is cleansed of evil, there still may be a few Ghoulbbler's running around the area. An infestation of Ghoulbblers in Cryserech could be a fun adventure too.
    • Loot:  Every fourth Ghoulbbler may have a cypher in their tummy.  
  • Vicenzo Vincenzi, the Foulest Fowl -  6 (18):  Ringleader of the Feathered Salvation.  
    • Motive:  To find a way to mass-produce the process of Fowl Soul Transplantation as an alternative to the necromigration.
    • Environment:  Anywhere in the Cryserech region of the Nightlands.
    • Health:  25
    • Damage Inflicted:  8, with steel reinforced beak
    • Armor:  2, with armored feathers
    • Movement:  Short, can also glide a short distance
    • Modifications:  Speed Defense is reduced to Level 5, as Vincenzo is still getting used to his new form. 
    • Combat:  Vincenzo can use an alchemical formulation every round, in addition to his fierce beak attack:
      • Cranberry Concoction:  Sugary boost that increases Vincenzo's Speed Defense to Level 7 for one round.
      • Gravy Boat:  Slathering pool of oily sauce that can be tossed at one target. Level 5 speed defense roll to dodge.  If struck, the target immediately drops to the ground, unable to stand for the round.  
      • Mind Melting Yams:  Steaming hot yams are lobbed at the target.  Level 6 Intellect Defense or the target starts seeing images of themselves getting stuffed, basted, and cooked.  These mental images increase the difficulties of all the target's actions by 1 step for the next round.   
    • Interaction:  Vincenzo would rather talk his way out of combat before having to resort to violence.  But he isn't afraid to toss some gravy!
    • Use:  Vincenzo fits into this adventure, but he could be a recurring villain in an entire holiday themed adventure.  
    • Loot:  1d3 Cyphers (alchemical formulations).  

*     *     *

I hope you enjoyed this third annual turkey-themed Cypher System escapade!  If you happen to run Fowl Deeds with your own group, please let me know how it goes.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

5 Reasons to Love Weird Discoveries

On Friday afternoon I started feeling this... itch.  Hard to describe really.  Kind of a tingle at the base of my spine that slowly crawled up my back like a roving pack of nanite-infused spiderlings.  The itch made it's way to the base of my neck and then injected itself via a synth syringe into my skull.

The itch was Numenera, and it started taking over my mind.  The Ninth World was calling, and I needed to return home, and fast!  So I did what just about everyone does nowadays to get a game going.  I went on social media and put out a call for players.

From the time I first posted to the game's start I had exactly twenty-seven hours and twenty-one minutes to prepare an adventure.  No sweat, although unfortunately I had a lot on my plate that restricted my adventure prep time.  Friday was Light Up Night in Pittsburgh, and I had already dedicated Saturday morning and early afternoon to prepare for a Gary Con 2017 adventure I was working on.  

I knew that I needed help.  I walked up to my bookshelf, and listened carefully.  

"Psst," I heard from my books.  I thought the sound was coming from the upper right part of the shelf.  "Over here."  

Glancing up to the shelf, I flipped through the books, searching for the weird voice.  "Hello?" I whispered carefully.  

Astoundingly, my copy of Weird Discoveries by +Monte Cook flew off of the shelf and landed at my feet.  The pages flapped fervently as the tome spoke with a strong Navarene accent.  

"I will help you play."  

I gave Weird Discoveries a freeze-framed high five and then the two of us walked downstairs, hand in hand, just a few hours before game-time.  

True story.

Five Reasons to Love

Weird Discoveries is an essential buy for any Numenera game master in 2016, especially those over thirty, with full-time jobs, spouses, kids, and goldendoodles.  No time to prepare for a big game?  Weird Discoveries has your back.  Your kids are looking for a sweet bedtime story?  Let Weird Discoveries soothe them into some bizarre dreams.  

I'm pretty crappy with reviews, so I thought the best way to share my thoughts on Weird Discoveries would be to list out the Five Reasons that everyone should love this Numenera adventure compendium.  

Reason One - Ten Adventures

The number one reason for buying Weird Discoveries is for the adventures.  You get ten of them in total, an each can be played as a stand-alone adventure or one-shot.  Pretty straight forward reason for a quick purchase!  I have the book in both print and PDF, but if I could only have one it would be the electronic format.  While I prefer to read print books, I would rather GM from a printed copy that I can write on, highlight, and pretty much tear apart.  

Reason Two - Sleek Formatting 

After I read the first adventure in Weird Discoveries I had to give it a second read.  The new format, touted well ahead of the books' release, took a little getting used to.  

The first two pages of each adventure give an outline of the entire quest, from start to finish.  There's a summary, some light detail, a suggested starting and end point, and a list of "Keys" - plot points or devices that carry the story forward.  

The second two pages consist of a map and/or flow-chart of the adventure's structure.  Here's where I got a little hung up during my first read.  I noticed that the Keys could be found in multiple sections of the adventure.  Wait, what?  Let me read that again.

Actually it ended up making a lot of sense!  Each adventure is designed so that the plot keys can show up in several possible locations of the adventure.  So if you're trying to run a quick, two-hour demo, there's a reduced chance of missing something important.  Pretty sharp!  

The last two pages of each adventure give the GM a lot more detail behind the adventure, and yet are totally unnecessary for the game to make sense.  Want to run a quick one-shot?  Just read the first four pages.  Want to stretch the adventure out for multiple sessions?  Pages five and six give you more detail, as well as ways to set the adventure into an ongoing campaign.  

Reason Three - Pre-gens Anyone?

I've run Numenera for a lot of Numenewbies, and using the same pre-gen characters from Vortex can get a bit old.  Weird Discoveries is a package deal, however, and it comes with six ready-to-play characters for your table:

  • A Stealthy Jack who Crafts Illusions
  • A Strong-Willed Nano who Commands Mental Powers
  • A Clever Nano who Focuses Mind Over Matter
  • A Swift Glaive who Fights with Panache
  • A Graceful Glaive who Masters Weaponry
  • A Mechanical Jack who Fuses Flesh and Steel

I really appreciate how each character has been created using the Numenera corebook, and don't include anything from the Character Options books.  While I have everything in the Numenera line, most new players start with just the corebook or the streamlined Numenera Player's Guide.  So a new GM can grab Weird Discoveries and have everything they need for folks playing one of these six characters.  

Reason Four - Cyphers at the Ready

You can't play a Cypher System game without cyphers... that would be utter madness!  But it can be easy to forget about the little devices, especially if you're running a game for new players (or if you haven't run the game in four months.)  Rolling up cyphers mid-game tends to slow things down, which is why I usually select them ahead of time.  Weird Discoveries does this for you!

Pages ten and eleven of Weird Discoveries includes thirty-six pre-generated cyphers for you to use with your friends and players.  So when the adventure calls for handing one of these out, just pick one from the list.  The level and effects are already listed out.  If you have the adventure in PDF form, I recommend printing these two pages and then cutting each cypher out, maybe taping it to an index card for easy organization.

Reason Five - Show 'Ems

I love visual aids, especially when someone else does the drawing!  My maps tend to be a hot mess, and my drawings aren't much better than glorified stick figures and basic geometric shapes.  Weird Discoveries includes a whole section of "Show 'Ems" so that you can give your players a true taste of the weird.  I ran last night's adventure on Google Hangouts, so I had the PDF pulled up next to the hangout window.  When it came time to show a picture, I just screen-shared.  So simple!  

My Choice

So what did we end up playing last night?  I went with Please Help Us, an adventure that centers around a small group of explorers trapped within a tiny holding cell in the middle of a forest.  Minutes before starting the adventure, however, I learned that two of my players owned Weird Discoveries, and admitted to reading many of the adventures.  

To change directions on my crew, I quickly reskinned the adventure, having it take place inside the mouth of a two-kilometer long, ancient, decaying humanoid resting by the Clock of Kala.  The humanoid looked a lot like Robocop.  All of the scenes of the adventure took place inside the giant humanoid's mouth, with the "Machine in the Wall" being more of a "Machine in the Tonsil."  I also turned all of the abhumans into walking, talking white blood cells that had gained intelligence and wore clothing.  

We had a great cast of characters for this romp:

  • +Alex Perucchini played Sidon-Barrex, the Lattimor Jack who Entertains.
  • +Chalice In Chains played Voren, the Mechanical Glaive who Fuses Flesh with Steel
  • +David Howard played Ptolemy, the Artificially Intelligent Seeker who Speaks to the Datasphere
  • +William Keller played Ruun, the Impulsive Glaive who Gazes into the Abyss
It had been four months since I had last GM's Numenera, although I did get a chance to be a player in +Troy Pichelman's game at Gen Con 2016.  As we moved through the adventure last night, all of the wonder and delightful weirdness came back to me.  My separation from the Cypher System had been too long, and my homesickness for the Ninth World ebbed.

*     *     *

I returned Weird Discoveries to my book shelf, well after midnight.  

"Thanks, I guess," I said to the book.  

"No problem, dude," Weird Discoveries laughed.  "Anytime."  

We did a quick and in no way awkward fist bump before I placed the book on the shelf.  I walked to the edge of the room and turned out the light.  

"Iadace, Weird Discoveries," I called softly.  But there was no answer.  From the gentle snoring, and melodic flutter of its pages, I could tell that Weird Discoveries had already fallen asleep.  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Week of Star Wars Gaming - Part Two

I think I'm getting the hang of this Star Wars - Edge of the Empire system, albeit at the detriment of my kids' bedtime.  If you haven't read Part One of our full Week of Star Wars Gaming, go back and give it a read.  Here's the continuation of this glorious, Force-filled week... 


"41-VEX, I've got forty-one reasons for you to buy a dewback!" - Jumper Mappy, the Mos Shuuta Dewback Rancher trying to close a deal with the party's Droid Colonist.

On Wednesday we debuted out brand new Star Wars Rebels, Season 2 collection.  Cooper and I watched two episodes while Evie did homework.  Carrie didn't get home from an event until later, so we had to wait until 9pm again to get back to our Edge of the Empire game.  

While Episode I of Escape from Mos Shuuta was fun, especially learning the new game mechanics, we had a much smoother and engaging night during Episode II.  Everyone started getting the hang of the rules system, which made gameplay a lot faster.  Also, the adventure came off the rails, and the party was able to explore the city of Mos Shuuta a little before continuing along the path.  

Perhaps my favorite scenes all involved Cooper's Droid Colonist, 41-VEX, and the purchase of his new dewback named Mitchy.  Cooper insisted that he wanted to visit the dewback stables, and then had to have one of the lizards.  Once purchased (after some shrewd haggling), Mitchy became a full-fledged party member.  

When the party faced off with some pesky stormtroopers, 41-VEX and his trusty steed charged into combat.  Cooper even used his dewback to talk his way past the droid guards out in front of the landing bay.  Cooper insisted that the droids should pet the dewback, and then had a tremendous Coerce roll.  So the entire team entered the facility while the guards were busy admiring Mitchy's silky scales.

Cooper wasn't the only one with crazy ideas.  In order to get into the landing bay with the Krayt Fang, Oskara (played by +Carina W.) claimed to be the new janitors for the landing bay.  The ruse worked, although I informed my daughter that her "Despair" die result meant that the landing bay staff wanted her to clean an incoming Imperial shuttle.  After some quick thinking the party slinked off in stealth-mode, quietly arriving just outside of the Krayt Fang.  

Thursday - Friday

Technically we skipped the Star Wars "gaming" on Thursday and Friday, mostly because of work and then I had a DCCRPG game last night.  But I did get some great swag in the mail: Heroes of the Resistance!  Now I've got the updated Millennium Falcon from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as Poe's T-70 X-Wing.  


On Saturday morning we resurrected our old tradition of "Dunkin' & Dragons."  But instead of Dunkin' Donuts we went with Peace Love and Little Donuts, and instead of Dragons we went with Star Wars.  Yes, it was time to complete our run through Escape from Mos Shuuta.

On to Episode III...

Finally the party reached the Krayt Fang, and we were about to take off into the Stars.  Continuing with their stealthy plan of disguising themselves as janitors, Oskara, Lowhrrick, 41-VEX, and Pash convinced the droids to let them on board the YT-1300 freighter for some light cleaning.  

As soon as they were all on board, however, the team attempted to take out the security droids quietly, before Trex the Trandoshan could figure out what was going on.  

The plan didn't quite work out... as planned.  Oskara did a stealthy attack, as did Pash, but 41-VEX didn't get the memo.  The droid used a stun grenade, lobbing it down the corridor towards the cockpit, hitting the security droids, Trex, and even Oskara!  Cooper was amused.  

After slaying Trex, 41-VEX ran back to the engineering compartment and repaired the broken Hyperspace thingie.  The Krayt Fang roared into the skies above Mos Shuuta and into the black, never ending night of space.  

The last part of the adventure was a short space battle between the party's YT-1300 freighter and a pair of TIE Fighters.  The action was quick and exciting, and since we only had four players, everyone had something fun to do.  I asked the group if they enjoyed the game, and everyone gave me a big grin.


Jen wanted to make sure that I got a picture of her quote for Pash...

... and Evie spent a lot of time working on her own character art.  

Even Cooper had some stuff to share!

All in all, I think we had a fantastic time with Edge of the Empire.  I had my reservations with the dice mechanics again, especially with tallying them up.  I've had the chance to play in a few games of Age of Rebellion on Google+ and Roll 20, but we always use a dice-app to calculate the results.  But as we moved along in our live-table game, the dice calculating went faster and faster.  It really got easy when the symbols clicked with Carrie, and she was able to guide her brother... and mom... through the results.  

I'm thinking about continuing the story of these four characters on Tuesday night, with the Long Arm of the Hutt. 

Oh, and we also played some Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures today!

Cooper has sat in on a few games with me and his sister Evie, but has never had the opportunity to fly against someone in a solo match.  Well, today Cooper decided to take to the stars on his own!  Cracking open our Ghost and Phantom box, we toyed with the idea of Cooper flying the Ghost... but then again that's a tough ship for a first timer. 

Since he really wanted to play as Hera Syndulla, the best pilot from Star Wars: Rebels, I set Cooper up with the Phantom.

We each went with 25 points, and I picked a Scum and Villainy ship, the Kihraxz fighter.  I've only flown it once or twice before, and never with a one on one, but it seemed like a balanced battle.  

I think the kiddo needs a bit more time in cockpit!  He darted straight past my fighter, and then relied on a dorsal turret upgrade to pepper me from medium range.  Maybe another round or two would've helped him get a victory, but I got very lucky towards the end of the game.  

In the end, I was able to shoot down Cooper's Phantom, forcing the Lothal Rebels to perform a rescue mission and save their pilot.  At least Chopper was on board the shuttle to keep Hera company.