Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 7

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

Tonight’s game picks up immediately where the last session left off. Sebastian looking over the railing of the scaffold, watching Walter Lewis’ body drop out of sight like a ball on a plinko board. He straightens and looks to his right to see Goofy also looking over the rail. Goofy straightens and turns to Sebastian, “Gawrsh, that was somethin’. That’s a lucky wrench. You keep that wrench. Bye now.” And disappears like the picture on a television that’s been turned off.

In a panic and with his thoughts racing, Sebastian gathers up his tool bag, stuffs the wrench inside, and leaves the area. He goes through the maintenance corridors, looking over his shoulder. Thinking he was followed, he ducks into a workshop where he’s startled by Jonathan McBhee, who sits at his shop desk.

Sweaty and pale, Sebastian makes small talk and tells Jonathan that he thinks he’s coming down with something. He takes Jonathan’s advice about calling it a day and going home sick.

Da’Mon finishes My Name is Dirk A. and begins to look on the internet for information on the Phobetor. He comes across a number of conflicting mentions. Some that say it’s a demon or spirit. Some that say it is a title. Others that say it’s connect to a group like the Inquisition. In the end, Da’Mon decides to go to his most trusted source, his deceased grandmother. The ritual preparations begin.

Alexander sits in the Waffle House pondering what his dream meant and looking at pictures of Cindy. His searches on the dark web have provided him with conflicting information and may be the ramblings of madmen. One website has a gallery of pictures. Pictures of doors that are rumored entrances for the House of Many Doors. Clicking through the gallery he comes to a stop when he sees the door to Club 33. Alexander looks at the time. Almost lunch. He invites the other to meet him at the Waffle House.

Patrick is driving when he gets the text and begins to head to the Waffle House. He notices that he’s being tailed and manages to drop back and see two men in a Fiat that match the description Sebastian gave of the men that broke into his home. Patrick stops at a light and then races through cross traffic, leaving the Fiat behind. He gets Alexander’s text, shortly followed by Sebastian’s asking if he could be picked up.

On the way to get Sebastian, Patrick gets a text from Maris, saying that Goofy has been following her around the park and it’s creeping her out. He tells her to call out sick, get changed, and meet him in the parking lot. Once at the Magic Kingdom, he calls Maris and it rings through to voicemail. He texts and doesn’t get a response. Sebastian gets in and they go to Waffle House.

Da’Mon calls up the spirit of his grandmother and asks about the Phobetor. She tells him he should leave that stuff along. Never you mind about that business. That they like to makes sure people don’t know about this business of spirits and such. That some of them gave his grandfather trouble when he was trying to sell gris-gris to people. After he lets his grandma rest, he sees the text and tells the others that he’s on the way.

Once they have all gathered, Sebastian shares his encounter with Walter and Goofy. Da’Mon tells of what he’s learned about Phobetors while Patrick reveals his encounter with the guys in the Fiat and Maris’ message and her sudden silence. Alexander shows them the picture of Club 33 and it’s relation to the House of Many Doors. He is also fearful for Cindy and Patrick gets another security guard to check on her. His friend, Mike, reports that Cindy is safe but has to go because there is a report of a missing kid.

In light of Maris’ silence, the Waffle House Four decide they must all go to the Magic Kingdom and try to find her. Alexander waits for them outside the Utilidors as Da’Mon, Sebastian, and Patrick check her dressing room. They find her cellphone on the ground and her regular clothes still in her locker. On the surveillance camera outside the locker room, they see her enter but never leave. Searching the locker room, there are no other exits.

Da’Mon checks the corridor where he last found Mickey and the atmosphere is heavier. Like two worlds are overlapping. And he hears more voices. Not just of Mickey but Minnie and Donald. They’re much louder than before. He remember’s that he has Toodles and briefly considers using it to contact Mickey but doesn’t want to enter into a deal with him.

The Four decide to go to Club 33. Patrick enters first and finds that it’s business as usual. He goes to a back entrance off the kitchen and texts Alexander to bring the other so he can let them in. He opens the door and they file in and Alexander is gone.

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Tachyon Squadron & Capital Ship Combat in Fate Core

Tachyon Squadron. I’d been hearing this title coming from Evil Hat for about a year now without really knowing what it was other than it sounded cool. Then about 3 weeks ago, some art dropped. Fred Hicks and Clark Valentine dropped a few more hints. Finally, the Kickstarter dropped and I was even more excited.

I love Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, Star Wars…and going a little more obscure, Space: Above and Beyond. The Last Starfighter? Yep. I loved starfighter combat. I remember the first time I saw a Starfury spin on it’s axis to fire behind it and thinking how I’d never seen that in science fiction combat before.

And Tachyon Squadron was promising all the excitement of space combat and military sci-fi campaigns. And after reading the text complete manuscript that comes with pledging, I think Tachyon Squadron will deliver.

And the first thing I wanted along with it was capital ship combat.

Along with the fighter combat, I want big ships beating each other up, just like the Galactic facing off against a basestar. Or a Mon Calamari cruiser against a star destroyer.

While the next stretch goal promises Top Gun style of play, including pilot/co-pilot star fighters and Millennium Falcon-style ship combat, it is leaving off providing us with the big ships.

But all hope isn’t lost.

Fate Space Toolkit

The very first stretch goal of the Tachyon Squadron Kickstarter was the text complete Fate Space Toolkit. Following in the steps of the Fate Adversary Toolkit and Fate Horror Toolkit, it promises:

Scratch your sci-fi Fate itch with a sneak peek at the text of the Fate Space Toolkit, a mechanical marvel full of system elements and ideas you can drop into your Tachyon campaign, or hack to create your own deep space setting.

So capital ship combat may very well lie within the pages of this book…and I hope they do.

In the meantime, my brain has been repeatedly coming back to how to do it with what we have in Tachyon Squadron.

What’s We’ve Learned From Media

Most star of what we think of when we see capital ship combat is based on naval battles where large ships with big guns hammer away at each other until one of the other sink. When we look at capital ship combat in television and movies we often see the same thing.

So lets take a look at some of our favorite shows.

Star Trek

No matter whether it’s TOS, TNG, DS9 or Voyager, capital ship combat boils down to big ships wailing on each other with phasers and torpedoes. In TOS, you never really see two ships on the screen at the same time. While at the Battle of Wolf 359 and First Contact, the ships maneuver around each other but the weapons rarely miss. The only difference comes in the Kelvin timeline where Federation ships have point defense cannons (phasers?) that take out torpedoes.

Star Wars

In the original trilogy, more capital ships are taken out by fighters than other capital ships. We saw green blobs shoot out from star destroyers. We saw a planet based ion cannon disable a star destroyer. But the only large scale weapon was the Death Star taking out capital ships at the Battle of Endor.

In the prequels, we see largely the same thing, although my memory of how General Grievous’ ship is taken out in Revenge of the Sith is foggy.

And again, in the new trilogy, we see the same green blobs taking out ships in The Last Jedi while in we know star destroyers have torpedoes from The Force Awakens.

New Battlestar Galactica

Overall, most of the weaponry used against capital ships include batteries of large cannons and nuclear missiles. There are anti-fighter batteries to deal with the large number of Cylon fighters. The Cylon raiders also use missiles to take out large civilian ships.

Babylon 5

Again, we seem ships beating away at each other but instead of cannons and missles, we see large scale energy weapons that seem to slice ships in half like salami.

The Expanse

Ships are very fragile. The primary weapon between large ships are missiles and torpedoes. And the primary mode of defense are the previously mentioned point defense cannons. In the novels, the Rocinante does end up getting a rail gun and since most ships are fragile, a rail gun round will pass through most ships doing damage along the way.

So the overall theme is that capital ships beat on each other until either one or the other leaves the engagement or ends up a rapidly fragmenting mass of metal…or expanding ball of flames or energy…depending on the setting.

My Ideas

Tachyon Squadron uses a Maneuver Chart to track who acts when and who can attack whom. Capital ships, space stations and planetary defenses occupy a section the chart marked special where anyone fighters can attack it no matter its position on the chart. Meanwhile the weapons on the capital ships occupy other spaces on the chart indicating when they can act and who they can attack.

I would continue to use the chart in that way and I would add the large scale ordinance to the order of combat.

While star fighters would be able to attack all the weaponry on a capital ship. The large batteries and torpedoes wouldn’t be able to attack fighters.

Point Defense Cannons or other countermeasures could be represented by a gear stunt which changes a die to a success against missiles or torpedoes.

Most capital ships are capable of jumping to warp or hyperspace or some other form of interstellar travel. In some fiction, this is a way to escape an engagement. It often takes time to prepare for the jump to light speed or whatever. So a new maneuver might be calculate the jump.

In calculating the jump, succeeding with style might mean being able to jump during the current. Regular success might allow the ship to jump at the end of turn. Success with a cost could mean a greater delay or incorrect jump. Along with this another gear stunt might be a Navigation Computer.

Player characters may be assigned crew positions as seen in other games like Stars Without Number and Coriolis, such as Conn, Tactical, Engineering. The PCs actions may largely revolve around direct actions and creating advantages. Much of this may just reassign actions that a fighter pilot may do themselves among several characters.  The captain or commander, in particular, may be involved in creating advantages for other PCs to use in their positions. For example, in TNG, Picard has ordered Attack Pattern Delta which creates an advantage that Worf can invoke to attack the Borg Cube.

The one area I haven’t figured out is how to handle multiple batteries of weapons of you have one player character as the Tactical officer. Perhaps that player chooses a particular action to take in the round, either directly controlling a particular battery or while the other batteries default to a basic crew skills. Or they create an advantage that the crew skill can benefit from by invoking.

Other Fate based science fiction games have had ships larger than fighters, such as Bulldogs. Ships have had aspects that represents…him…aspects of the ship. Some possible aspects for capital ship might represent the crew, such as Veteran Crew. Another might be the class of ship or its place in the fleet, like Flagship.

Casualties to the crew may be handled in the same way that the fighter pilot is injured in Tachyon Squadron, with each injuring impacting a percentage of the crew or equalling some form of democratization.

At the moment, that’s all I got. These are my initial thoughts on the subject of capital ship combat in Fate. I’m going to continue developing it for myself at least.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 6

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

(After an overnight stay at a hospital and a difficult work schedule for myself, I was finally able to get back together with my group)

Tonight was an exposition heavy session but not without some serious events occurring.

​Jimmy greets the Waffle House Four as they walk into Carmine Oddities, “What the fuck happened to you?” addressing Sebastian. After a mumbled response and assurances that trouble won’t be coming to his door, Jimmy proceeds to tell them what he learned about the box. The box is a key to one of the rooms in the House of Renunciation, which is, as Jimmy explained to the Disney employees, like the Utilidors behind reality. The cabal pressed Jimmy for more information. Were there books on this sort of thing? Jimmy points them to a copy of My Name Is Dirk A.

Before going to the Waffle House, they swing by Sebastian’s so he can get some things.

Alexander eagerly takes the book and begins reading on the car ride to the Waffle House. ​The book reads like a combination of AA bible and William S. Burroughs. Strange names and terms bombard Alexander as he looks for mention of the House of Renunciation. He comes across references to “the house with many rooms” and “God’s crash pad” but nothing specific so he begins to look on the web, finding conflicting reports. Mentions of places that can change the most frivolous aspect of a person to their essential selves. That the place exists. The place doesn’t exist. The place isn’t a place but an entity. That it has helpers that operate in the world. It is indeed the internet: for each item mentioning some aspect of the House; another denies that aspect. As Alexander continues his research, the others leave for their homes.

​As he works, Alexander suddenly realizes that he is in a family room of some house. It has a giant 1950s TV in a wooden cabinet. A shelf is filled with board games any family would play but it is the walls that draw his attention. Filled with pictures of families of all different stripes. Of all ethnicity and genders. And the pictures change. When he goes back to a picture, it will be of a different family. Alexander then notices that Cindy is sitting on the couch watching a small child play. “Alex, it finally came today,” she says.

​She pulls out an envelope with a Disney logo on it. “See, the wristbands came today. William is so excited!” The small boy begins to jump up and down cheering, “Disney! Disney! Disney!”

​Alexander looks around the room trying to decide whether he is dreaming and if he is, he has to wake up and take down notes about this dream. He awakens in the Waffle House. Jeanie looks at him, “Wow, you were really out. Whatcha want to eat?”

​Da’Mon finds a PDF of My Name Is Dirk A. and begins to read. He heads home around midnight, reading as he goes, highlighting parts that he comes across. He begins to understand that the book is a cautionary tale about drawing too much attention and how doing so can “wake the tiger.” It is an allegory but for what, Da’Mon is not quite sure. As he reads, he comes across what he recognizes as a ritual to take on the mantle of something called a Phobetor. The ritual seems simple enough. If only he knew what a Phobetor is.

​Sebastian and Patrick share the hard copy of the book. They leave together so that Sebastian can crash at Patrick’s and go to work the next day. Patrick drops Sebastian at work where he picks up a stack of work orders. He looks to see if any of them will take him near one of the other black boxes. As luck would have it, it does.

​He goes to Space Mountain and finds Walter Lewis waiting for him. “I think you have something that belongs to me.” Sebastian plays dumb which seems to annoy Walter. “Come now. Let’s put our big boy pants on and talk man to man.” Sebastian turns, pretending to begin work, grabs a wrench, turns and strike Walter across the face. A flap of skin exposing bone opens on Walter’s head as he tumbles and hangs off the edge of the scaffolding. Sebastian grabs his legs and flips him over the side.

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing

I have a strong and abiding nostalgia for this game, even though I have never, ever done anything more than create a character for it…by myself…alone…in my room.
I think it’s safe to say that for most gamers my age, some version of D&D was the first RPG they ever had exposure to. I remember being over my friend’s house and seeing the red box version of D&D but I had no idea what it was. I was far more interested in playing with my G.I. Joe figures.
Several years later, I had finally gotten into reading and CYOA games and really dug the Lone Wolf series of game books. Then my dad and I went to Ireland to visit family. We were in Eason bookstore on O’Connell Street in Dublin. I wandered upstairs to the science fiction section (and where they had the toys) and came across the 1st edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing Game.
Warhammer_Fantasy_Roleplay_First_Edition_ColourPlatesCover550
I was love at first sight. The artwork hooked me. The career tables. All of it. It was stunning. My dad got it for me. I spent hours looking through it. I even tried to do something with it. I tried to puzzle it out with a couple cousins but none of us had any frame of reference of what to do with it.
It sat on my self at home for years and I slowly collected the other supplements. By supplements, I mean The Enemy Within campaign. The Death on the Reik box set. I got getting Something Rotten in Kislev signed by the author at The Game Room in Woodbridge Center mall. Their fiction line. To this day, Drachenfels continues to be one of my all time favorite books.
And I never even played the game.
Even when the second edition came out. It always seemed to be during a time when I just didn’t have a group.
Same thing with the FFG’s 3rd Edition, although it was too fiddly for me.
So it is coming around again. And I have a group. So maybe this time…

Games I Want To Run

Some time back I had made a short list of campaign ideas. I’m going to update that list. And by update I pretty much mean make a new list.

  • Delta Green: I still want to run this but it has fallen down the list a little just because I’ve played horror and I’m currently running a horror game, however surreal it may be. I’d run either the new Delta Green Roleplaying Game or The Fall of Delta Green. I’d also like to develop the WWII scenario that I had started as a one shot.
  • Dusk City Outlaws: I had backed the Kickstarter and gotten the digital rewards and promptly forgotten it until Rob Donoghue of Evil Hat and The Walking Mind blog started talking about it on Twitter. So I revisited it. I love The Lies of Locke Lamorra and Leverage and find Dusk City Outlaws much more accessible than Blades in the Dark. Plus there are enough scenarios available that I could easily run a campaign. I’ve been disenchanted with fantasy (no pun intended) and this might be a way to whet my appetite for the genre again.
  • Cypher System WWII Occult Game: I started working on character types for this. My idea is kinda of like B.P.R.D. but more along the Universal horror movies and less Cthulhu Mythos type stuff. I chose the Cypher System because it does a great job of making special characters and it’s easy to make NPCs. This is probably way on the back burner as I have a lot of development to do.
  • Sandbox Science Fiction Game: I haven’t run a science fiction game. This idea has a couple of options. First is a Stars Without Number game. I’d have the players decide what sort of game they want to play, part of the military or merchants. Group goals, etc. The second idea is much more ambitious. I’d like to use Microscope to make the setting and then use Fate Core for the characters and system.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 5

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

Sebastian’s player was late due to some appointments so we started the session with the other members of the Waffle House Four (Three) getting together the next day. Also this session was a little shorter because I started to get a headache that just wasn’t quitting.

Da’Mon, Patrick and Alexander meet at the Waffle House and become concerned when Sebastian doesn’t show up. Da’Mon texts him and doesn’t get a response. Worried for their friend, Alexander and Patrick head to his place to check on him while Da’Mon goes to work.

Patrick and Alexander find Sebastian’s apartment door kicked in and his apartment trashed. They find Sebastian’s cellphone in a back room. A neighbor tells them he saw three men (it was only two) kick in the apartment and then go running off. He doesn’t know where Sebastian is but hopes he’s okay.

Patrick and Alexander spend the rest of the day checking out the area to see if they find Sebastian. When they don’t have success with that, they clean up his apartment and wait for him there until its time to go back to Carmine Oddities to follow up with Jimmy.

Meanwhile, Da’Mon goes to work and starts his shift. During one of his breaks, he is walking through the Utilidors when the color drains from the area and Pluto appears. Da’Mon immediately pulls out his phone and starts recording. Pluto urges Da’Mon to follow him down a corridor and leads him to an ornate door. Going through the door, Da’Mon finds a colorful, cheerful Mickey wearing tarry cloth robe and drinking a scotch.

Mickey explains to Da’Mon that he knows that Goofy has been weighing on his mind a lot recently and that he shouldn’t be too hard on Goofy because he isn’t in control of his own actions. When Da’Mon asks who is controlling Goofy, Mickey says that it is so hard to tell because mortals are so hard to tell apart. There are only a few special mortals, and Da’Mon is one of them. Mickey explains that he and his friends have been here for so long and that they’ve been confined here for so long. Once, they were able to roam the land.

Hearing this last part, Da’Mon suggests that perhaps he can help Mickey and his friends. Mickey asks if Da’Mon is suggesting they make a bargain. Da’Mon becomes wary and says that he couldn’t enter into a bargain without his friends knowing about it and that he would have to talk it over. Da’Mon is also leery of accepting a drink from Mickey.

Mickey says he understands and offers him an easy way to find his way to him again. He give Da’Mon Toodles and tells him that to find him again, all he needs to do is take Toodles out and say, “Oh, Toodles!” and it will guide him to Mickey.

When Da’Mon leaves, he finds himself back in the Utilidors with the hallway gone. He checks his phone and finds darkness and spectral images fill the video that he took. In addition, three hours have passed. Da’Mon panics that he is going to lose his job. When he encounters his supervisor, he says that he had passed out.

Before going back out into the park, he texts Patrick, “Hinkey shit. Really hinkey shit.”

After work, Patrick and Alexander pick up Da’Mon and drive to Carmine Oddities. Da’Mon relates his encounter with Mickey while Patrick and Alexander tell him of Sebastian’s apartment.

They pull up in front of Carmine Oddities and head to the door as they are hailed by a familiar voice.

The night before…

Sebastian comes out from between two buildings and sees the two figures come out of his apartment. They spot him and Sebastian takes off through the complex running between cars, across the parking lots, and through bushes with the two men in pursuit. Racing down one of the main streets bumping into people, Sebastian narrowly missing being hit by a car, instead sliding smoothly across the hood and continues running. He manages to catch a bus just as it begins to pull away from the stop and leave his pursuers behind and promptly throws up.

After taking several buses, he goes to a low rent motel and passes out from exhaustion. He awakes mid morning and finds a payphone to call out from work because he just can’t lose his job. Sebastian goes to the Waffle House and finds that his friends aren’t there. He decides to take a circuitous route to Carmine Oddities and waits at a nearby McDonald’s. When he sees his friends pull up, he quickly leaves and calls out to them.

His friends are glad to see him and worried about the news that he brings while Sebastian is also shocked by Da’Mon’s encounter. Patrick suggests that he goes back to Sebastian’s apartment and waits with him to see if his assailants return.

The four of them turn toward the door of Carmine Oddities to see what news Jimmy has for them.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 4

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

The players logged in to Roll20 and was greeted by this:

Give it back

It’s two days before the Waffle House Four head to Carmine Oddities Boutique to try to learn about the box. The cabal is trying to keep a low profile.

In that time, Sebastian checks to see if John McBhee is still working in the park and finds that he is still fulfilling work orders. He spots Goofy several times during his rounds, even in places where costumed Cast Members wouldn’t normally be.

Da’Mon is on edge and constantly on the lookout for Creepy Goofy but doesn’t spot him. He regularly talks to his deceased grandmother, often hoping for an answer to guiding him through the current situation.

During Patrick’s shifts, he also spots Goofy several times and finds it to be more than coincidence that it is in places before he arrives there. He tries to bring some normalcy to his life by going out with his girlfriend, Maris.

Alexander tries to be low key and continues to visit the park daily. He checks in with Cindy and Larry. Larry seems to be his usual self. While talking with Cindy, Alexander asks her if she ever goes on any of the rides. In that moment, he remembers a moment when he was standing on line for a ride with Cindy, laughing and talking. Alexander begins to sweat and panics. He awkwardly excuses himself and flees the park. He sits in his car and waits to calm down before driving to the Waffle House.

Alexander is the last to arrive at the Waffle House. He looks shaken to the core and tells the cabal of this memory. He questions who he is and wonders if he is the same person from that memory. He wonders if Cindy has been changed. Alexander wonders if any of them are who they think they are.

Patrick remembers going on the rides while Sebastian knows he has tested the rides after repairs. Da’Mon knows that he has never gone on any of the rides at Disney World and thinks this is unusual in and of itself.

Alexander reasons that he has to be who he thinks he is, that his parents are the same.

Once Alexander has calmed down, Patrick and Sebastian tell the others that Goofy seemed to be following them during their days at the park.

Following this, the Waffle House Four go to Carmine Oddities Boutique to speak with the owner, Jimmy. After being greeted and Da’Mon making introductions, they show him the box. Jimmy examines the circuit board with a jeweler’s glass and finds minuscule writing on the circuits in several different languages. He can make out saying about family in several of the languages. Sayings about happy families.

Jimmy tells them that the box appears to be some form of sympathetic magick linked to directing families or having some sort of influence over families. Jimmy asks them what the hell is going on and the cabal clues him in by showing the footage of Goofy.

Alexander wonders if it will only affect families that are happy, while Da’Mon says that maybe it’s doing something good and putting people that shouldn’t be together with other people. Sebastian responds strongly to this, saying that’s not how it’s done, to which Da’Mon replies that maybe it is.

Jimmy offers to try to learn more about the box by talking to a couple of people that know more. Seeing their hesitation, he says that he will have something for them in 24 hours. Da’Mon expresses his concern about Goofy coming after him outside the park. Jimmy thinks that its a spirit, possibly a loa riding a horse and can’t leave the park.

Leaving the box with Jimmy, the cabal discusses their next move. After some deliberation, they decide they need to capture Goofy. Da’Mon thinks he will need to consult the spirits to learn how to capture this entity.

Sebastian returns to his apartment that evening. As he unlocks his door, he hears footsteps behind him. He turns to seem two guys from Disney, a couple of jerkwads.

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

As he turns, they rush toward him. Sebastian enters his apartment, slams the door shut, and pushes the couch against the door. They begin to break the door down. Sebastian calls 911 while the duo continue to pound against the door which begins to crack. Sebastian looks for a place to hide or a way out. As the door begins to break, he climbs out his window and runs in a panic as door finally gives way. In his rush, Sebastian gets turned around and ends up in front of his own apartment as his pursuers come out of his apartment and spot him.

Suddenly, the race is on…