A Fistful of Roses, Part II: Fire and Blood (WIP)

Hey guys, welcome back to my campaign journal for A Fistful of Roses, the Savage Worlds cyberpunk campaign I’m playing in using the Interface Zero 2.0 setting. For anyone who hasn’t seen part one, you can check it out here: A Fistful of Roses, Part I: My Name Is Roxy

Alright. Posting part two of this, but as you might have noticed from the title, this is very much still a work in progress. Honestly it’s been a struggle to write this part, I haven’t been able to get it to a point I’m happy with. But it’s been a few weeks longer than I’d planned between posts, and I need to move on to other stuff. I’ll be coming back when I’ve had a chance to get some feedback so I can try to fix it up, but if I let myself dwell on it now I’ll never let it go.

A quick note. As is almost always the case, we’ve changed a few things about the setting, and made our own assumptions when something may not be perfectly clear in the book (or we’ve just missed it somehow). So we’ve assumed that the Tendril Access Processors (TAPs) that people have implanted in their heads act as general comms devices as well as providing augmented reality feeds and data access. We also changed the JUMP bikes a bit, neither the GM or I were a huge fan of the Formula One looking cars shown in the sourcebook for them, both of us had been picturing motorcycles that hover instead of having wheels, kind of halfway between a high end sports bike and an ATV. Actually I’m not even sure if they’re meant to hover or not, or are just able to leap into the air when needed. Either way, that’s how they look in our game.

All of that said, hope you enjoy it, and as always, feedback is very much appreciated.

NOTE: Profanity is a little more prevalent in this one than the first entry. I’m still working out Roxy’s character, and I’m leaning towards making her relatively foul mouthed and prone to bursts of anger.

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A Fistful of Roses, Part II: Fire and Blood

0015 Hours – The Strange Island, Korea Town

Shit. It’s after midnight, and I’m still sitting here, nursing another beer, waiting for Felix’s damn bartender to show up so we can get down to business. At least the night hasn’t been a total write-off. Turns out that hybrid couple those Bloody Hand gangers were hassling run the local hardware store. Said they’d have something for me in a few days, a thank you for running off the goons. I’ll have to try to keep ’em sweet, it’s always handy to be on friendly terms with gunrunners. Still, it doesn’t look like things are going to calm down here any time soon, and I’ve got other places to be. Felix and I’ll just have to have our chat another time.

I savour the last of my beer. It’s heavy and rich, bitter-sweet with undertones of chocolate and coffee. I push the glass away, the taste of  toasted hops and malted barley lingering on my tongue. Hell, forget about finding a fixer, I’d come back just for another glass. I stand, stretching, the leather of my impact suit hugging my body, a familiar, comfortable feeling. No point trying to say goodbye to Felix, he’s busy serving the crowd. A hand darts out from behind the bar, grabs my wrist as I turn to leave. Clawed and lightly furred … I follow the arm back to see Felix looking over my shoulder. He’s worried, I can see it. Slitted pupils wide, tufted ears laid flat against his skull. Something’s got him spooked good and proper.

“Trouble coming,” he hisses, leaning in close. “Your friends are back, and they’ve brought company. I figure this ain’t good for either of us, so what’s say we back each other up here. I turn to follow his gaze out to the street. The gangers from before are on approach to the bar, along with a group of their friends. Four of the others look like carbon copies of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, same shitty tatts and grubby gang colours. The last one though … looks like they went crying to their boss-man. Same sort of thug, just trussed up in a badly fitted suit instead of the leathers and muscle tops the street crew favour.

“Deal. But the drinks are on you after this,” I shoot back at him, a grin on my face. “And I’ll be expecting some extra consideration when we’re negotiating my cut for any jobs we might work together in the future.” I’m whistling in the dark, trying to hide the rising panic. Three, even four of these guys between us, easy. Seven … Well, I hope Felix has some heavy ordinance back there with him, ’cause all I’ve got is my revolver and a pair of stun-gloves. They’re just street trash, but a near four to one advantage is going to count for a lot. I pull the gloves out of my pocket and slip them on. There’s a faint buzzing in my palms as they hum to life, and I slide a hand behind my back, drawing my revolver and flicking off the safety, concealing it between my leg and the bar

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A Fistful of Roses, Part I: My Name is Roxy

Well, this is a few days later than I’d wanted, thanks to a weekend spent with my parents and some longer than anticipated days at work.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve joined a new cyberpunk game run by my friend Chris. We’re using Interface Zero 2.0,  for Savage Worlds. Great cyberpunk setting, has a few elements that veer more into transhumanism than cyberpunk (the human/animal hybrids and so on), but in the main it’s a very genre faithful setting. Lots of hacking, virtual reality, mechanical augmentations, people wired for augmented reality, and a lot of shiny chrome and bright neon contrasted with the filthy streets and gritty nature of day-to-day survival in the urban sprawl. Being Savage Worlds, it mostly conforms to the core rules, but adds some more complex rules for things like hacking (the Science Fiction companion for Savage Worlds actually recommends using these rules for any other games that need hacking rules), cybernetic augmentation and so on, as well as adding, removing or modifying Edges and Hindrances as appropriate for the genre. One of the bigger changes is the addition of occupations, where each character has to pick an occupation based on their concept. There’s a pretty extensive list, with everything from bartenders and pizza delivery guys right up the chain to the corporate executives and mob bosses. Your occupation provides certain benefits fitting the concept, as well as a regular source of extra income every time you received an Advance (every 5 experience points). The default setting for the game is North America, but there are supplements coming out for other locations, like the Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun sourcebook.

Given how much I enjoyed the character concept I came up with, especially after seeing how she ran in the first session of the game, I figured I may as well keep an in character campaign journal for her and chronicle the events of the game. Then I decided to make things difficult for myself and write it in first person perspective and present tense, because apparently I’m a masochist. So I asked Chris what the campaign was called, and was duly confused and curious when I was informed it has been named “A Fistful of Roses”. No, I don’t know why. But I can’t wait to find out.

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Reign of Winter: The Bard and the Dragon

So I felt this needed to be posted while it’s still relatively fresh in my mind. As some of you might remember, the only game I’m playing in instead of running right now (well, until the Numenera game starts up again) is a Pathfinder campaign, Reign of Winter, run by my sometimes co-blogger Professor Jimbles. It’s a campaign that explores a number of themes, with the earliest one introduced being Russian folklore, including Baba Yaga, her dancing hut and her three riders; household spirits like the Domovoi; Winter Witches; cruel fae and never-ending magical winters. The folklore theme looks to be continuing through the whole campaign, but I know that later on additional elements of plane hopping and so on will be added (book 5 is called Rasputin Must Die! and features a WWII scene on the front cover… looking forward to that).

Anyway, when it came time to roll up a character for this game, I went with something I haven’t done in a very long time, and went Bard. Initially I made a Soundstriker archetype Bard, but after a rather heated discussion thread started on the Paizo messageboards between players and the developers regarding changes to the class, and there was no confirmation about the ruling for a long time (in fact, there still hasn’t been official errata released), I spoke to Jimbles and asked if I could re-roll as a Thundercaller, as it had a similar flavour to what I wanted from my Soundstriker anyway. Now, for those of you not familiar the various classes of D&D 3.5/Pathfinder, I’ll explain.

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Hollowpoint Playtest – Setting the Scene

NOTE: There’s been a bit of a change of plan on how this is going to work. This update is going to cover the basic rules and the setup of the session. That’s just so I can get something posted. The following update will involve a detailed report on the actual game, written as a report to the Board of Directors of the Firm (the organisation the player characters work for). My housemate suggested taking this different approach to it as a way to potentially work around my writer’s block. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a public holiday here tomorrow, so I’ll get up early, have some eggs benedict for breakfast and try to get cracking on it. Fingers crossed. .

Hey guys, thought it was time I get something posted. It’s been longer than I intended again, as recovery from my accident and sorting out insurance took far longer than I expected. At this stage I’m still going to be without my scooter for at least a couple of weeks, and it’s making life awkward as hell in the meantime. I do have a loaner, but it’s a tiny little 150cc, and has trouble cracking 80km/h, so I only really use it to get to and from work.

Anyway, I’m still working on the campaign journal and starting to realise it may be a long time coming, but it’ll get there eventually. In the mean time, I thought I’d share some details on a playtest we ran a couple of weeks ago for a game I picked up a month or so ago, Hollowpoint. It’s an indie RPG produced by VSCA, the same guys who made the hard science fiction FATE setting Diaspora. Rather than using the FATE or FATE Core system though, Hollowpoint uses its own system, based on building matching sets of d6s from a dice pool. It’s a fast paced, cinematic, brutal little system, and is specifically designed to emulate high violence movies, television series and comics. In fact, the book calls out some of my favourite films and graphic novels as inspiration, including Reservoir Dogs and 100 Bullets.

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Reign of Winter – GM Perspective.

So, I fucked it.

Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but certainly, running a Pathfinder game was far more work than I expected, and it makes me appreciate the sheer amount of extra effort Keegan puts in above what the adventure path gives him.

Firstly, I haven’t run a rules heavy system since I was 14, where I mangled d20 Modern to represent school. It trainwrecked horribly, but it at least made some people laugh for a session. After that, I entered my WoD phase, being one of those oft-cursed eternal players demanding to be entertained. After some time I began writing Bard: The Crescendo (a WoD template, like Vampire, Geist and Changeling) with some friends. Eventually it fell to me to test the system. It went okay.

When Keegan wanted a turn playing Pathfinder, he thought I could do a decent job (uhh?) of running an adventure path, and gently pressured me into taking the job. What can I say, I can be an entitled jerk. He set me up with the core, our copy of Hero Lab and The Snows of Summer to bone up on.

Much like a Puritan high school, there was less boning up than would be healthy for everyone involved.

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Reign of Winter – Cold, but I’m still here…

So, once again I’m bloody sick. I’m seriously starting to wonder if my body is ever going to completely recover from the series of respiratory tract and chest infections I had during and after my visit to China. I’ve been coughing on and off since then, even after a third round of antibiotics to clear out the last of the infection. Thankfully this time it doesn’t seem to be too bad, though I am more than a little annoyed that I started getting ill the Saturday before a week off on leave. Again with the coughing, but it’s not as nasty as last time. No fever either, just a constant dull ache all over my body. Still, I’m not going to let that stop me from going to see Lindsey Stirling tomorrow night. I’ve been looking forward to this for a month now, and I’ll be damned if illness is going to keep me from it… I’ll just have to stand very quietly at the back and hope there’s some seating available.

Anyway, now that I’ve got my bitching out of the way, it looks like it’s time for another update. As I mentioned last time, this is going to be an introduction to the Reign of Winter campaign that Jimbles is running for me. I was quite excited to have a chance to play in a Pathfinder game, as normally I end up running them, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to actually be a player in a D&D 3.5 game, and I’ve never yet been on the player’s side of the GM screen in Pathfinder, apart from once with a group that fell apart within the first session.

That's one mean looking old lady...

That’s one mean looking old lady…

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Shattered Star: The Crew.

Our Blog-master decided my post was competent, and made him want to post here more himself. Perhaps in a manly “possession” sense. I can dig it. Because of that, it’s now my job to throw the occasional ham-fisted attempt at bloggery.

I’m playing in the Shattered Star game. I’ve played Aeros Rasta (Remember that guy who smacked himself in the face with a hammer?) finding a cool image and writing a simple fun backstory for him before we all died in the spider-holocaust. And yet… I wasn’t that upset when he died. Actually, I was a little pleased. It seems healing is not for me, or… Change is fascinating.

In an attempt to make this new party more permanent, evocative and interesting, I’d like to set out a small outline, and perhaps a brief description of each of the characters in our new party.

[Editors Note: having read this, it occurs to me that Jimbles has been adding a few flourishes to these characters that don’t exist in the personalities that the actual players have given them in game. And by a few flourishes, I mean he’s making stuff up out of whole cloth. That said, it’s pretty awesome… so I’ll allow it.]

Michael Best
Benjamin Dawson
Michael Aranda
Evan Radovanovic
Myself, James Woodman.

The paladin Gregor Roth, worshipper of the mighty god ____ known for his philosophy of “manning up” and “getting the fuck on with it, our paladin also exemplifies these traits. seeming something similar yo Sten the Qunari. on many an occasion, he has “cut the knot” by stating something similar to “It’s a devil. Kill it.” He fights with a massive falchion, given as a present from his order, the reward for being the strongest candidate in a year.

Zogalypse, Wildblooded Sorcerer of Umbra: A dark man, some say born from shadow, darkness and power, Zogalypse lives to prove himself and bring glory to the Pathfinder society. Collecting the Shards is a good start. Burning things to the ground is only just a means to an end. Dominion over the forces raging through him is a the only reason people can see past his dark heritage, and that used to hurt. Perhaps he can ride these idiots to glory.

Azaezel Blightblade the Magus: Another party member of demonic heritage, Azaezel has seemingly made a pact with a blade of dark, hypnotic metal. He’s found a way to cast some spells THROUGH the weapon. He makes devastating huge swings that crackle with Eldritch energy, lightning being a favourite. And yet, this power hides an even darker secret: Azaezel is not sure of himself. How should he react to hellspawn? Why does he feel uncomfortable in churches occasionally? And more importantly, why does Gregor seem less scary on some days?

Zamnil Blackaxe the spell-less Ranger:
Zamnil Blackaxe is a dwarf hailing from a century of trench warfare in the most brutal fashion possible. It has carved a name in his soul and mood. As a lead trail-blazer, the underground became his home and parade ground. While Zamnil can track smoother than an elf, he feels no kinship with the earth. He has learned the texture and feel because it was life or death… Mostly death. Zamnil wields hand axes with a talent borne of experience. He sees these companions as a way to earn a living without having to see Orcblood ever again.

Keira Strongarm, Human Archer: Keira lives in a world that was supposed to be denied to her. At first it was “You are too weak to use the longbow effectively.” When she drew the night watchman’s longbow at 8, it changed. “Your… Body makes true mastery out of your reach.” When she skewered an apple at 60 paces, the complaint changed. Father took away her weapon, and stated “You have duties at home, stop pretending to be a soldier.” She snuck away at night and carved her own bow, starting a life of a traveling trapper. It was only natural to come across the pathfinders.

That’s the basics. We’ve managed a few sessions without dying horribly, though Gregor came close. While we are relatively devoid of healing (PALLY IS FOR FITE) we are playing cautious.

Any questions?

Listening to: Hands Like Houses’ new album. I can’t place a genre on these beauties, but I do know they’ve matched the power and energy of the first album, avoiding the “Sophomore slump” like pros.