My extended family sat down last night after Thanksgiving dinner and decided to play a game rather than sit and watch mindless TV. We played a paper version of Battleship that my dad hastily drew out on paper as remembered from his youth. He asked if I could use my skills to make cleaner version for future family game nights. It was a nice family time. I present Naval Battle for you to download and use for your own family gathering.
This isn’t technically an RPG but it is a paper-based game that only requires printing and pencils to play. Rules follow the Battleship game from Hasbro.
Wow has it really been nearly three months since I wrote anything?
Not that I haven’t had things to say but it’s been busy. I’ve reconnected with a bunch of old friends via Facebook. I’ve discovered that as much as I like writing, I enjoy my job more. I’ve been extraordinarily busy with the job. Recently, I was informed that according to the Iowa Newspaper Association, I am one of the top three ad designers in the entire state for the class of newspaper I work for (weekly under 10,000 circulation). I find out exactly where I place at the banquet in February.
The can company is OFFICIALLY sold. We signed the papers last week. Yay!!!!!!!!!
PIT #1 (aka Pvt. Black Spartan) is still learning to be intelligent. Her graduation has been pushed back again due to National Guard needing the same training, but she’s enjoying the challenge.
PIT #2 is now almost as tall as I am (when did that happen?). He’s learning the ins and outs of controlled fishtails on the snow covered roads.
PIT #3 is being 10. He finally agreed to let his mother wash his favorite Christmas present, an official Army fatigue shirt. He received this from his big sister and has worn it nearly every day since Christmas.
Mrs. VS is recovering more every day. Her hair is now long enough that she doesn’t wear wigs anymore.
One Way Express (the puppet team) has taken the tentative steps into video.
We are now digitally recording the morning services at church and will be placing more videos up at YouTube as I get time to edit. Check out my channel http://www.youtube.com/user/vulcanstev
The entire family has been playing Wizard’s 101. We’re enjoying it to the point of possibly getting a second subscription that we can play together instead of watching one person play.
The boys and I are back to a bi-weekly D&D 4e game at The Core in Cedar Falls. I can’t say I much like the hack and slash version of D&D, but it’s time with my boys. Alternate weeks, our local gaming group has begun a Top Secret! campaign, yes let’s resurrect more classic games from the 80′s
I also recently came to terms with my decision to leave Starships of the Third Fleet. The constrictions being placed on my writing from the higher-ups made it less than fun to continue with the group. I’ve also re-found the KSF and resurrected Chris Dehart. Stev isn’t gone. He’s just not onboard the Phoenix anymore. When last seen he, T’Aiya, Phread and Neila had boarded the Ghost Rider and taken off for parts unknown. (I am thinking of posting my stuff here for the world to read).
Hoping it’ll be sooner than March before I post again…
Chris eyed the size of the file, “There’s no reason to duplicate any of the legwork Detective Sorenson has already done. Yeah, Jack, lunch sounds like a good idea.” Looking back at the detective he added, “You got a spare conference room around here?”
Jack replied, “Alright then. You lot get settled in and I’ll go get us a pie.”
Detective Sorenson led the Rangers to Interrogation Room B, where they found a table, four chairs, a single light over the table and no windows. Jack slipped out to track down lunch, and the others hunkered down to pour over the notes, photos, and other documents. Eventually Jack returns with sandwiches and cokes (ed.: In Texas, all soft drinks are ‘cokes’ regardless of the actual brand). At the end of a couple of hours, the team was able to glean the following information:
• Three nights ago reporter Michael Palmer was found dead on the sidewalk outside of the hotel. The case was ruled a suicide.
• Palmer’s body was found by a porter on his way to work at the depot.
• Detective Charlie Sorenson was assigned to the case. He did not agree with official report, and requested assistance from Ranger Co. X to investigate.
• Prior to death being investigated all criminal activity was limited to vagrants and vandals.
• Hotel is owned by the Parr Group (George Parr, aka the “Duke of Duvall County.”)
• The Hotel was opened in 1912.
• A murder allegedly took place in 1922. A young socialite was killed (allegedly by her fiancé). No one was ever arrested for the crime, and there is no official record of the crime.
• A number of underworld figures were reported to have stayed at the hotel
• It was closed in 1951 when the former owner was arrested for tax evasion and was purchased by the Parr Group.
• Parr is content to leave the hotel vacant as “for tax purposes.”
• Palmer was investigating a story about a two Boy Scouts who were spending Halloween in an effort to prove that the hotel wasn’t haunted, but ran out before midnight claiming they had witnessed a ghost in the Panama Hotel.
Jack goes looking for a patrol man to direct him to a good pizza place. On his return he remarks to the team, “I was advised to pass on the pizza. Hope everyone likes ham. What is it with us American’s and not being able to agree on what these beverages are called?”
Now, with Ranger DeHart’s question, he moved closer to the table. “I don’t think so. Said his name was ‘Buddy Jefferson.’” Then he looked at the Crime Scene photo. “Wait the guy on the right side of the picture looks like him, but its pretty fuzzy.”
“But there was also no real evidence of foul play. With other crimes on our docket,” he waved his hand wearily in the general direction of the squad room, “the decision was made to wrap this one up quick.”
The Ranger then looked over at the detective, “We all came in my car, can you rustle up some transportation back to the depot?”
“One last question, Detective. Is there anything hinky about the Parr Group? off the record of course.”
“Well, the Parr Group is a property management company set up by the Parr family out of Duval County. If by ‘hinky’ you mean not completely above board, that describes the Parr family. They pretty much control the county down there, but they tend to deal more in political maneuverings than in murder, and we’ve never had any rumblings of illegal activity out of the Parr Group.”
“OK then, let’s saddle up fellas,” Chris the looked at Gabe, “One more thing before we split up. Gabe, you and Rod meet us over at the Panama when you’re done questioning the porter.”
This Star… Part 1
Well, we’ll be heading over to check out the scene,” Chris said indicating his team. “In the meantime, Detective, I’ll need you to pull EVERY file on the Panama Hotel. However, before we head over, what can you tell me about this?” *holds out the note for the the detective to read*
He looks at the note. “‘A veil covers the billets weight’. Hmm. ” His face is a study in perplexity. He shakes his head and hands it back. “Means nothing to me. Do you think its connected?” He begins gathering his files to share.
While Sorenson is collecting his case files, another detective saunters over, “Walll, lookee here fellers,” he drawls. “These must be the Rangers Sorenson asked fer. Ol’ Homer must be purty desperate. A couple o’ darkies an one o’ them looks like some kinda Injun!” He grins at the team with tobacco-stained teeth.
Jack looks the new comer straight in the eye, “Wow. You must be the chief detective. You the one who figured out it was the fall that killed the fellow?”
“All’s I’m sayin’ is that you don’t look anythin’ like the Rangers I’ve worked with before. Y’all got some ID?’
“Anything you’d like to tell us about Det. Sorenson’s case? Off the record of course,” Chris added softening his glare.
Gabriel looked over to Chris. He seemed to have things well in hand. He looked around at the others to see what they thought of this new detective. He doubted he’d hear much of anything useful from the man himself.
He snorted. “A tin badge don’t mean nuthin’. You can get one o’ them anywhere. Lemme see your Warrants of Authority.”
Sorenson shuffles his feet uncomfortably.
Holding his hand out for the return of his badge, he continued, “Now detective, are you going to answer my question or do I have to hold you as a person of interest?”
Sorenson, awed by the resolute coolness of the Rangers in the face of a possible confrontation, stepped into the space left by the retreating detective. “I’ll be happy to show you the file.”
Gamemaster notes are in italics
You leave the Depot out the front door. From the street, you can see the gateway to the famous Strand, once considered the economic capital of the West, rivaling even Wall Street. But that was before the 1900 Storm. Now, there was evidence of slow decay, as the prosperity shifted north to Houston and even further west to California. To one side lay a closed hotel, with some windows boarded over and others broken. On another nearby street you could clearly make out a sign advertising The Salvation Army.
“Christ, I need a barber,” Jack announced
Chris pulls over at the first barber shop he sees.
You make your way to the headquarters of ‘Galveston’s Finest.’ As you exit the car and make your way to the front door, you pass a number of police, both uniformed and plainclothes. They each look at you a little longer than you’re comfortable with, and then move on.
James doesn’t register anything outwardly, but inside he thinks, “Yeah, we’s black men; get over it!”
“Well, shall we get out of the sun,” Gabriel says to the others as he walks towards the doors.
Chris looked at his car. The only available spot in the GPD’s parking lot left very little room for his Chevy. Thoughts of dinged paint scampered across his brain. Looking up at the cops giving him and his fellow Rangers the ‘eye’, Chris thought it might be best to get the team inside and meet with the Detective. He followed Gabriel and looked over his shoulder at the rest, “No invitations now people.”
Then eyeing Jack running his fingers through his fresh buzz-cut he added, “It’ll grow back eventually, but if y’all gonna take your Daddy’s spot on this roster you need to look the part.”
Jack grinned, “Nah. This is my natural coat. Call the sasquatch-look freshman jitters. I feel much better now.”
You enter the station, and approach the desk sergeant. As you ask for Sorenson, he gives you the once over, and then directs you to the squad room.
Inside, Detective Sorenson is just as the desk sergeant described him: tall, broad-shouldered, sandy-haired and still fairly young-looking. You could just as easily imagine him as a college linebacker as a detective.
Gabriel felt awkward. Was he supposed to introduce himself to the detective, and if so, how? He wasn’t sure how many people even knew about this branch of the Rangers. He looked over to Chris for direction.
Seeing the odd collection led by the man in the pearl-gray hat, Det. Sorenson quickly walks over.
“I’m Charlie Sorenson. You must be the Rangers I asked for…though I didn’t expect a team…. Anyway, I’m glad you came right over. I’d like your thoughts on a case.”
What have I gotten myself into… Jack kept the thought to himself, but was already starting to wonder if he was in over his head.
Chris*tries to get a read on Det Sorenson’s body language*
All eyes in the group were on Chris. “That’s what I get for wearing my Ranger hat,” he thought to himself, “everyone suddenly thinks I’m the leader. Man I sure wish Jack Sr. was here. I’m not sure I’m ready to lead a group.”
Outwardly, Chris broke into a broad grin and tipped his hat back on his head, “Normally, one Ranger is all you need. But the home office thinks your case needs a little more attention than normal.”
He stuck out his hand, grabbed Detective Sorenson’s and pumped it vigorously, “I’m Ranger DeHart,” dropping the hand he gestured at each of the others in turn, “Vargas, Freeman, Cooper & Macher. Why don’t fill us in on the case.”
Detective Sorenson shuffled his feet in an awkward manner, almost as if he were a child caught in an embarrassing situation, “My Captain didn’t think I should call,” he began, slowly. “But things just didn’t add up to me, and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for another opinion.” He took a deep breath. “A Galveston Daily News reporter apparently took a header out of an upper-story window of the old Hotel Panama – you may have seen it on your way over, it’s near the depot. Anyways, officially it’s a suicide, but I’m not so sure. You see, the reporter was still sort of new, and he was looking into reports that the Panama was haunted. A couple of Boy Scouts tried to spend the night there around Halloween, but ran out screaming like Girl Scouts within a couple of hours. Anyway, the department says suicide, my gut says something else.”
Jack raises his eyebrows.
“Hotel Panama?” Chris removed his hat and scratched his head. “That’s a new one on me. I’ve got quite a file on Galveston ghost stories but nothin’ ever mentioned the Hotel Panama.” Placing his hat back on Chris continued, “What else can you tell us, Detective?”
Jack can not mask is utterly incredulous expression.
Gabriel leans back against the wall, settling in for a ghost story. He wondered how it would line up with some of the Native spirit stories he was told as a child.
The Hotel like everything here isn’t familiar to James, as this city isn’t his beat. He does know and respect the instincts of another policeman however.
The detective took another deep breath. “That’s the thing. The hotel has been closed for many years. We’ve had a few vandalism calls out there, and rousted a few hobos, but never a story about ghosts. We figure the Scouts were there to prove to their younger friends that just because the hotel was old and boarded up that it wasn’t necessarily filled with spooks. Then they lit out like their shorts were on fire jabberin’ on about scary voices.”
Jack’s eyebrows go higher.
“How bout the non-ghostly angle? Did the reporter have enemies? Any hoods or Realtors got reason to keep kids and reporters out of the hotel? I seen some mean Realtors before.”
“As far as the reporter was concerned, he was still considered a rookie at the News, and was tryin’ to make his mark. Nobody at the newsroom seemed to know much about him.”
to be continued….
When we last checked in with the party Rididdlethumb found himself stuck in the floor. Before the party could do anything a dozen Bugbears attacked. The party fought back. Nevets cast Befriend Animal and now has a pet Bugbear. R-thumb tried his level best to attack while stuck in the floor. Andrea and Rayne used their cloaks of invisibility. Aria wasn’t very successful in her attacks but her Drow bodyguard beheaded one. Bawb toasted one with a fireball. Hawrayn cast Thunderbolt indoors, killing three. Rayne and Andrea while invisible managed to dispatch one each.
The remaining Bugbears took the better part of valor and retreated. After defeating the Bugbears the team debated whether or not to rescue R-thumb. The Lawful Good characters swayed the vote and eventually R-thumb was rescued from his rocky trap.
The party continued on into the next room, continuing their search for the next piece of the staff. Entering the room they discovered the remaining Bugbears and two Beholders performing a ritualistic human sacrifice. The beheaded Paladin (I’d love to tell you about him but he was dead), on the altar was wearing the same Eye-of-the-Tiger symbol given to the members of our party. Nevets wondered just how many different parties had been sent out to recover the staff as this was at least the fifth failure his current party had stumbled across.
Galahad with an oath, launched himself at the Beholders. Nevets’ Bugbear attacked the Beholders as well now believing them to be her enemies. General pandemonium broke out as the remainder of the party joined the attack. Hawrayn blinded one of the Beholders which then ran around the room, hit the wall, and fell down dead. After defeating the Beholders and Bugbears, Galahad took his sword and drove it into the altar. In a puff of smoke, Molech and Azmandius, two demons appeared. The demons were upset over the fact that the party had interrupted their sacrifice.
Awash in self-assuredness after defeating the last demon they encountered, the team pressed on. Hawrayn sent his three bats in to attack at the same moment he did. Hawrayn missed but in the nexus created by the failed spell, a fourth bat was created. This bat sucked ALL the heat out of Molech and turned him into an ice statue. The rest of the party turned their attention towards Azmandius. The remaining demon was understandably upset over the fact that the team had incapacitated his cohort, “You will Die!” he told the party.
“You first,” Nevets replied as he cocked his fairy dust bow and let fly an arrow. The first arrow missed but the second connected. The resulting explosion caused the demon so much damage that he fled. The party’s armor all began to have ”A”s branded into them. Rididdlethumb and Neaferious Applegate attempted to move the Molech ice statue and became part of the statue. The party was puzzling over the rescue of their now frozen compatriots. Rayne discovered that of the the three doors exiting the room, two were locked and was very warm.
The party opened the warm door and levitated the ice statue through it. The Molech portion of the statue melted away to nothing. Rididdlethumb and Nefearious Applegate were freed, however R-thumb’s bow is now severely afraid of the cold and will refuse to work below 32F….
I’ve been having a lot of fun playing in a PbP game using RISUS rules. It was one of the inspirations for the TwitteRPG (which is still accepting players). However I received quite a few replies of regret, ‘I’d love to play but the time zones would be a problem’. I was thinking what could I do to make TwitteRPG available to those fine folks. Then it hit me, could we do a PbP. I broached the subject with a few of the individuals who expressed an interest in TwitteRPG and was met with an enthusiastic response.
Announcing The Magical Gnome a dedicated Play by Post forum hosted by the NING network. This is a free network and to use it you’ll need a free membership.
The site is still under construction and the forums rules of conduct are still be written. But the basic premise is any game any system. Announce the game on the main page and then start a group for your game. There may be underage members on the network so please mark games appropriately.
You can run your games or join available games.
After a lot of thoughts about what rules set to use for the TwitteRPG game, I realized I wanted something simple, easy to keep track of and not difficult to explain. I decided on Risus. Risus is very simple. You have 10 d6 to spend on cliches used to fight, skill check, whatever.
For those of you familiar with Risus and interested in playing, the setting will be a D&D-like “Storm-the-Castle” Campaign. Please set up your cliches accordingly.
For those of you unfamiliar with Risus, here are some helpful links:
The FREE rules are available here
The Anatomy of a Cliche (an exclusive excerpt @ Unclebear.com)
Quick Guide to the Cliche from Guy Hoyles Risus Pieces site
Go ahead check these out. I’ll wait…..
OK the next thing you need to do is let me know you’re playing. I’m looking for at least 4 regular players but no more than 6/game. The roster will be open for up to 18 so as to facilitate schedules and availability. Let me know with a reply here. Please also let me know your Twitter handle so I can make sure I’m following you. You’ll also need to be following @vulcanstev
A list of players and their characters will be kept over at the Obsidian Portal page for the game.
Games will be announced at least 4 days in advance with the goal of being a regularly scheduled game for folks to put on their calendars. *addendum* – Getting some direct messages asking about when in the day. Apparently folks outside the continental US are interested. We can certainly schedule some games to handle different time zones.
During the coming week I’ll be fleshing out the actual game and setting while the players are working on their characters.
Here’s my sample Risus Character that I’m playing in The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X. Mind you this character was created before I really understood the cliche concept.
Chris DeHart: Tall, dark-haired, wears glasses. Reasonably well-built, but shows the evidence of his desk job posting.
Chris was most recently Company X’s inside man at NASA’s Houston control center. Chris’ main responsibility was to keep tabs on the CIA. The CIA was keeping the “alien” stuff showing up in the moon photography out of the public awareness. Unbeknownst to the public, Rangers 3, 4, 5, and 6 were not failures but did in fact show evidence of an alien base on the moon. Ranger 6, in fact managed to return some of the salvaged tech. Company X was not going to let the feds operate in their own back yard without their knowledge.
Chris is a tech geek and his HP-2116 is his pride and joy. Chris longs to reverse engineer the computer networking ability recovered from the alien moonbase and somehow adapt this for use by human technology.
Chris keeps to a daily regimen of practicing his Tae Kwon Do skills and shooting his pearl-handle Colt M1911A1
Chris does not only dabble in computer technology. On his weekends off he lovingly maintains the ’57 Chevy his father bought new for him on his 18th birthday
Tech-geek (4), Marksman (3), Martial Artist (2), Mechanic (1).
Last night at 7:00pm CDT I attempted the first running of TwitteRPG. It was a success but not in the way I expected. Let me back up just a bit, Wednesday evening, Viri from the Bard of Valiant was on Twitter venting her frustrations at WoW. Somebody suggested playing a tabletop RPG. Viri replied that there was nobody to play with.
Inspiration struck, Viri was online with quite a few friends and we were communicating in real time. This was 90% of what we needed for an RPG game. Without preamble, I typed ‘You are in a damp passageway. Traveling on you come to an intersection. What do you do?”
Viri replied that she listens with a better than average notice skill. I typed back “To the left you hear the muted sounds of laughter. To the right you hear a deep throaty voice call ‘Come here little adventurer.’ Viri replied “I go left.”
By this point, I was getting other comments on my little attempt to cheer up my friend (and later discovered folks commenting on the Twitter feed on my Facebook profile). Right then both Viri and I were called away from our respective keyboards. When I returned I had quite a few “What happens next?” Tweet replies.
So yesterday on the spur of a moment I decided to try to run an RPG game with a little more planning. I announced in the early afternoon that I would be running TwitteRPG later in the evening. When I got home from work I had quite a few “Would love to play but can’t tonight replies”. I also had quite a few request for the rules.
The end result? there is interest in running an RPG over Twitter. However, folks would like more advance notice. Folks would also like the rules. So towards that end I will write up the basic rules this weekend. We will also schedule the next game rather than it be a spur of the moment. In short, the experiment was a success if only for the fact that it showed a definite interest in the game.
Tonight at 8:00pm EDT, 7C,6M, 5p, we will be running the experimental TwitteRPG. You must be following the GM, @vulcanstev at Twitter. This is an experiment. I’ve seen how much fun the #Twittervillestuff is generating and wanted to try something along those lines. Viri from the Bard of Valiant and I tried last night until Real Life suddenly called us both away at the same time.
I was having a blast with it and want to open it up for the Network folks who are on Twitter. Please if you’d like to play let me know by 6:30 CDT so I can get the Tweetdeck filter set up with everyone.
#TwitteRPG – tonight – @vulcanstev DM