maxwriter

Journalist and GM, presently writing freelance for Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine.

Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death – Falls Run

On Tuesday, December 23, 1890, two strangers boarded the crowded train in Baltimore, Maryland. There were three engines on the train, the first of which had a huge snow plow affixed to it. These were followed by the coal car, a baggage car, a dining car, and three Pullman sleeper cars. The two men found themselves sitting together in the center Pullman sleeper car.

Robert James Blair was 32 years old. A tall, slim man of average appearance, he wore rough clothing and had a thick beard and mustache. His hair was fairly long. He was returning to Cincinnati from Baltimore with his brother’s body. His brother had died of consumption and Blair had come east from his home in Nevada to settle the man’s affairs.

Dr. Johann Jacob Heintz was 30 years old and had only recently started his own practice. He was a plain-looking man of slight build with blonde hair and blue eyes. A pair of gold-rimmed glasses was perched on his nose. He dressed in a very nice suit and wore a fine overcoat with a fur collar. He also wore a silk top hat and carried a physician’s bag and a violin case. Originally from Pennsylvania, his family had moved to Ohio when he was young. He now practiced medicine in Baltimore. He was en route to his sister’s family for the holidays and had safely seen the crate with the four Christmas presents stowed in the baggage car.

On August 3, 2012, I ran the Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death scenario “Falls Run” by James Wyatt (Dungeon Adventures #67) for Steve and Erik.

Journal entries of the session can be found here:

http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1751-Ravenloft-Masque-of-the-Red-Death-Falls-Run-Part-1
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1750-Ravenloft-Masque-of-the-Red-Death-Falls-Run-Part-2
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1749-Ravenloft-Masque-of-the-Red-Death-Falls-Run-Part-3

The game was also video recording. The playlist of nine videos can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1567AAFBD4864D1B

Bughunters (Amazing Engine) – Unnatural Selection

In its first attempts at colonizing the stars, United Terra discovered that the galaxy hosted horrible dangers. But given the incredible distances involved, the extent of those dangers remained unknown. In a growing effort to gain better information of Sol’s galactic neighborhood, United Terra decided to pepper the stars in Sol’s vicinity with a virtual shotgun blast of colony ships. Whereas Terra’s initial colonies were sent out in colonizer ships – huge, lumbering vessels carrying great contingents of colonists, incredible arrays of equipment, several years worth of supplies, and entire companies of synthetic human troops for protection – the colonies of the new effort were being sent in lightly loaded modified combat landers carrying just half a hundred colonists, minimal prefab buildings, barely enough supplies for six months of survival, and a mere squad of low-ranking United Terra Reconnaissance and Peacekeeping Force (UTRPF) troops.

The synthetic humans were relatively new as well. Vat-grown clones of human volunteers, specially modified to serve as starships crews, combat teams, and general troubleshooters for the human race, they were all part of UTRPF and superior than humans in many ways. They had been physically enhanced to react more quickly, to keep moving longer, and to endure more punishment in battle. Mentally, they were able to withstand the psychological stresses of hyperspace travel, a situation that disoriented normal humans sometimes to the point of madness.

Six brand-new UTRPF (utter-puff) troopers were quartered at UTRPF’s training facilities on Stargate station. PFC Jackson was the ranking synth in the group. His donor background was an infantry lieutenant with the U.S. Army, giving him more military expertise than would be expected of a private. He was armed with an assault rifle (with grenade launcher), several hand grenades of various type, and body armor. Private Two Fisk was the lowest ranking member of the squad and got most of the crappy jobs. His donor had been a factory worker and from him, Fisk had inherited a natural skill with various electronic, computer, and mechanical repair. He was also armed with an assault rifle and grenade launcher, hand grenades, and body armor. Private Two Boomer was listed as the heavy weapons expert in the group and his donor had also been a factory worker. In addition to his heavy pistol, he was responsible for a grenade launcher, a flame thrower, and had the typical body armor. He was a little miffed that Jackson was the squad leader, having only one week of seniority over Boomer. Flatline was the group’s radio operator and also a Private Two. His donor had been an office clerk but the recording was 46% patchy. It wasn’t easy making do with only half a set of memories, but his donor had died during the trauma of undergoing a mental recording for his cloned brain. He was quiet about his donor’s past and carried only a heavy pistol. Doc Martin was the squad’s medic and also a Private Two. His donor background was a chemistry professor who had been very intelligent. He was armed with an assault rifle. Finally, Runningwolf was the squad’s scout, also a Private Two, and armed with a heavy pistol and a laser sniper rifle.

On March 16, 2012, I ran a game of Bughunters at CaesarCon 2012. The scenario was Unnatural Selection” by Lester W. Smith from Polyhedron Magazine # 96. The players were Adam, Neal, Steve, and Rick.

The journal entry for the game can be found at http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1702-Bughunters-Unnatural-Selection-2012-03-16-CaesarCon

A video of the game is on YouTube though the audio is not very good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax0aG4r9bmM

Dark Sun – Mystery of the Ancients

A group of four adventurers awoke in the city of Tyr in the Year of Desert’s Fury in the 190th King’s Age, also known as Free Year 11 in the free city. They had been in Tyr for some months and their funds were running low. The four had fallen in together and found that they were not bad companions, and so had found shelter together in the city of Tyr.

Orin was a half-giant warrior who stood over 11 feet tall and weighed more than 1500 pounds. His weapons included a giant-sized datchi club, an arena weapon with a five-foot-long head made of dried insect hive and embedded with teeth and claws attached to a three-foot-long bone handle; a lotulis, crescent blades with barbed spikes near the points mounted at either end of a long shaft; and a sling. He wore little more than hide armor and carried a great shield, the latter constructed of layers of hardened leather stretched over a bone frame.

Ran Ger was a human ranger who carried a longbow; a master’s whip made of leather with a carved bone handle inlaid with decorative elements; three cahulaks, each consisting of a pair of four-bladed bone heads tied to either end of a 12-foot length of rope; and five alhulaks, each consisting of a five-foot length of rope with a four-bladed grappling hook at one end, the other end being secured to a two-foot-long handle. He wore leather armor.

Varthir Markorum was an elf with disheveled hair. A preserver by trade, he wore no armor and carried only a staff to defend himself with. However, he also was well-versed in the use of magic. His heart was as black as night.

Aeoleus was a half-elf druid who wore studded leather armor and carried a small shield for protection. He used a composite short bow and carried a spear, but his most prized possession was a ceramic flute. He rarely spoke.

On Feb. 3, 2012, I ran a game of Dark Sun using the introductory scenario for Jeff, Ken, Steve, and Erik.

The journal entry for the game can be found http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1692-Dark-Sun-Revised-and-Expanded-Mystery-of-the-Ancients-2012-02-04

Behind Enemy Lines – The Jaws of the Trap

By August 1944, the Allies had broken out of Normandy, pushed the Germans back, and retaken Paris. However, the invasion had run out of steam and both sides were consolidated in central France. The Nazis were on the run but the German war machine was still strong. On August 27, 1944, five soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division had gathered at the tent used by Major Joseph Taylor as his HQ in a tiny, broken village in France. The five had volunteered for what had only been described to each of them as a “dangerous mission” behind enemy lines.

The 19-year-old Corporal Thomas Sawyer had a nickname of “Lefty” because he had been an amateur boxer in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. He usually preferred the M1 Garand rifle. He had only been with the 1st Infantry since Normandy and was also trained in demolitions. Private First Class Norris Polk was from the hills of Tennessee. He was an excellent pistol shot and carried a .45 automatic as well as an M1 carbine. His first action with the 1st Infantry had been at Normandy. Private First Class Richard “Dick” Carter was from Philadelphia. He was usually armed with a .45 automatic pistol and a Thompson M1 sub-machinegun. He had served with the 1st Infantry since Sicily, having come up Italy with the Big Red One and been part of storming the beaches at Normandy as well. He was rated as a medic. Buck Private Syd Lafayette was a small, wiry New York City kid. A sniper, he preferred a Springfield M1903 rifle with a scope. He had served with the 1st Infantry since Italy and had been one of those who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Finally among their number was Buck Private Bobby Smith, a solid young man with dark hair from Akron, Ohio. Rated as a medic, he also carried a Thompson M1 sub-machinegun and was a very solid youth. He had been the manager of a chain grocery store back home and had been with the 1st Infantry since Normandy.

They were to go behind enemy lines on a commando mission to blow up a bridge at exactly the right moment to keep an SS Panzer Unit from flanking the Allied forces.

On Nov. 28, 2011, I ran one of the introductory scenarios in the original Behind Enemy Lines boxed set for Stephen, Jeff, Eric, and Ken.

The journal entry for the game can be found here: http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1675-Behind-Enemy-Lines-11-28-2011

Top Secret – Operation Sprechenhaltestelle, Code Name: Pisces Part 2

The Agency was a secret, international espionage agency that hired spies from all over the free world to take on assignments that crossed international borders. Four agents had been assembled by the agency in May of 1980.

Eric Taft was a British spy who had worked with MI-5. He was known to carry a switchblade and a .45 semi-automatic pistol with a barrel extender. Earl Geofferies was an American and rumored to have been a top agent with the CIA. He was proficient in all forms of hand to hand combat and was known to carry a Walther PPK with a silencer. Fletcher David Reed, also American, had worked in various agencies. He was armed with a 9mm short Walther PPK but he preferred to kill with his bare hands. Wayne Jeffries was a member of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). He carried a .45 semi-automatic pistol and never went anywhere without his umbrella.

They were sent into the village of Sprechenhaltestelle near Hamburg to stop the capture and slavery of east to west defectors going on there and rescue a pair of energy technicians who were in the neighborhood and get to them to the west.

On Sept. 16, 2011, I ran a game of Top Secret for my friends Stephen, Jeff, Erik, and Jeff. I use the introductory scenario from the boxed set. This is the conclusion of that game.

The journal entry for the game can be found here: http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1657-Top-Secret-game-9-17-11