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Star Wars Rogue Two – Less is More

March 31, 2017 Comments off

Recently I put together a FFG Star Wars adventure for Mace West called Rogue 2. The synopsis was brief, and apparently intriguing enough to fill the table months before the con:

“You are part of an elite commando team for the Rebel Alliance. The Empire has demonstrated the fearsome and devastating power of the Death Star. It is up to you to stand up for freedom in the galaxy. Your comlink indicates a summons to the briefing room with High Command. This next mission is going to be something big. Hopefully you’ll live long enough to tell about it!”

I studied episodes of Rebels, as well as Episode IV and what I could remember from Rogue One (this was shortly after the theatrical release) and did some research about what could happen in the short time frame between Rogue One and A New Hope. In one of the behind the scenes clips for Rogue One the writers revealed they wanted to include  Wedge Antilles in the planetary shield battle on Scarif, but realized he would have never seen it since at the beginning of the battle of Yavin he says, “Look at the size of that thing…” So where is Wedge during Rogue One?

Enter Rogue Two: The Antilles Extraction. Those of you familiar with how I have run several Bounty Hunter missions will know I like to plan for a three-act structure, maybe with an optional fourth, if there is time. I play-tested this once before the con, then ran it at the con, and both times we ran out of time in our 4-hour block before getting to Act III. That being said, the sessions were great fun, but one day I plan on getting to the third act. Here is the basic outline:

Act I – Planning/Infiltration

Act II – Rescue/Escape

Act III – The Emperor’s Snare – Interdictor Showdown

With just a few other notes, a very basic map, and a small deck of probable baddies/NPCs from the adversary decks, we were off! I’ve found the more I run this system, the better it is to provide a small sandbox like a map of a ship or facility, then literally let the dice fall where they may. Relying not only on my creativity, but leaning on the players to help interpret FFG dice results has been some of the most fun I’ve had running or playing an RPG… ever.

While my actual adventure notes were pretty slim, I did a bit of research before the session to help flesh it out on the fly during the session. Researching prison facilities in Star Wars led me to discover an old Dark Horse comic called Han Solo at Stars’ End which was based on a novel by Brian Daley. I didn’t go so far as to read the novel, but I used some of the visuals to inspire the map of the exterior of the facility. The shape of the prison is a tall silo that reminded me of the cells from an episode of the Clone Wars that required floating repulsor sleds to reach them (S3E7). Beyond that, I wanted a reason Wedge and his squad were captured alive, and what better than an Interdictor cruiser to capture both ships and pilots.

 

ACT I

The first part of the session is planning the infiltration and requesting additional gear from Rebel High Command. The briefing is short on details, just the rudimentary reconnaissance scan gathered from an A-wing at long range. Mytus VII is a moon-like rock with no atmosphere and little natural gravity. I provided the squad with a choice of two available ships for infiltration: a U-Wing (with some home-brewed stats borrowed from forums) or a captured Imperial Lambda shuttle. Beyond that, they could make reasonable requests for other equipment that may be around the Yavin IV base. The playtest group requested a few speeder bikes (non-military versions, granted) and the con group requested ascension cables (which came in *very* handy). Now to plan the approach: land outside the facility and approach on foot or speeder? Land at the end of one of the tubes? Brazenly fly into one of the hangars? Any of these are options using this approach. The pre-gens I provided did not include any humans, which limited their options for posing as imperials in stolen uniforms, so both groups opted to land their U-wing (both chose the U-wing) well outside the facility and made a stealthy approach. The con team had the foresight to request an astromech droid to keep the engine running and stand by to fly in and pick them up. How they get in from here is entirely up to the table. The playtest group took out a pair of bored guards at the end of a landing tube, and stealthily made their way in to the main facility. The con group set some remote explosives on the outside of one of the tubes to the hangar, and took out a gunnery crew in one of the turbolasers.

ACT II

Now the team is in the facility, they need to find which cells have their rebel pilots and successfully extract them from the vertical tower of cells in the center of the complex. Optionally (if they are somehow captured) they could be facing off against gladiator droids in the arena on the very top level of the central tower (this is in reference to a scene in the comic) but this did not come up either time I ran it. Leaving the interior of the facility vague gives the game master great flexibility to improvise. Elevators or turbolifts can be anywhere you need them to be, as well as interior doors, tunnels to the turbolaser batteries, utilities like power and gravity generation may be in the basement. If your team seems stumped, provide them with options in a rudimentary directory (“Hmm, this says central generator on B1, arena on level 42, Warden’s Office on 41…” etc.) they can pull up from any terminal or datajack. Regardless of how they eventually get there, this will lead to an encounter with Imperial Dungeoneers in repulsor sleds. Judging from the visuals in the Clone Wars, I set up a central control tower, and at least three sleds with two dungeoneers on them a piece. Since this is an Imperial facility, I replaced the floating little cam bots in Clone Wars with interrogation droids, which make for pretty nice rival-level adversaries. This is generally where the stealth part of the mission breaks down. Alarms start going off, you can send in squads of storm troopers and their red-pauldroned sergeants as back up. Both times I ran it, this involved a few PCs in the central tower identifying the cells of the rebel pilots, and a few PCs going from cell to cell, freeing them. The con team set the gravity generators into a diagnostic mode that turned the gravity both off and on every two minutes, adding to the chaos. Once you retrieve Wedge and his squad (4-6 pilots) they reveal they were captured by the Emperor’s Snare, an Interdictor Cruiser that ripped their squad out of hyperspace. Their ships are still intact, and recoverable, if the team can capture the impound hangar. This can lead to a battle with TIEs on the base. I would encourage GMs to use group checks to narrate how the squad is doing rather than rolling a bunch of checks for NPCs, and let the PC squad take ship actions as normal. The rebels will likely outgun the Imperials until…

Act III

The Emperor’s Snare drops out of hyperspace on the horizon. Now both the commandos and the pilots are trapped unless the commandos can board that Interdictor and shutdown the gravity wells! I wrote this before watching the amazing Rebels Season 3 finale in which Interdictor cruisers play a big role, but if you are looking for inspiration for this chapter, check out the end of Rebels season 3! Having run out of time both times I ran this scenario we never actually made it this far, but I would suggest more group checks for the rebel pilots while having the PCs make some daring checks to board the bridge of the Interdictor and either shut it down or (more likely) sabotage the gravity wells before escaping. If the U-wing is still intact they may be able to take that, or if its destroyed in the ensuing battle, have them find some other shuttle or escape craft in a battle to the hangar bay. In a truly Rogue 2 like twist, the commandos may be captured or even killed in the attempt to disable the Snare and ensure the pilots get back to Yavin for the battle against the Death Star!

I hope you enjoy this adventure outline. I’m providing the map I used as well as six pre-gens for potential commandos below. Happy gaming, and may the Force be with you!

Rogue2map

GotalSaboteur

BothanQuartermaster

GranFigurehead

SullustanDriver

KyuzoHeavy

DurosInstructor

IthorianMedic

Asheville Comic Expo (A.C.E.) 2014 Preview

August 19, 2014 Comments off

ace-14-poster-webJust one month until the 3rd Annual Asheville Comic Expo! Once again, the Skyland Games crew is organizing the RPG gaming, and just like the rest of the show, tabletop RPGs will be bigger and more diverse than previous years! We’ve got a warhorn going so you can reserve your spot at the table. This year we’ll have Star Wars Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion, as well as several Dungeon Crawl Classics tables, a 5E starter set table for those eager to try the newest edition of D&D, and of course the ever popular Pathfinder tables.

In addition to the awesome artwork on display in artist alley, a lot of special guests are attending this year. It’s a great opportunity to meet writers and artists from Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, DC, and some really great indie work!

Of course it wouldn’t be ACE without comics and a lot of awesome cosplay. Get some more use out of that awesome get up you made for DragonCon or GenCon and enter the costume contest! It has been a really impressive showing in previous years.

This year the convention will be upstairs in a larger space! Previous years it was held in what can generally be described as the basement of the Civic Center, but no longer! 2014 we are moving out of the basement! Check out the awesome comics, elaborate costumes, gorgeous art, and play some games! Come out and support this awesome endeavor to make ACE 2014 the best yet! See you there!

Free RPG Day

May 19, 2014 Comments off

freelogo2014Free RPG Day is just one month away! If you haven’t ever participated I would suggest finding a store near you and joining in on the fun this year! It also marks the 3rd anniversary of our local FLGS The Wyvern’s Tale opening their doors. If you’re joining me at the ‘Tale, be sure and sign up for a seat at the table on the warhorn. This year I’ll be running the offering from Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box! I was disappointed to see that Fantasy Flight didn’t contribute a Star Wars module for their new Age of Rebellion, but I’ll be running the beginner box anyway.

Despite FF not contributing, the offerings this year look pretty awesome. Pelgrane Press is offering an adventure for their 13th Age system called Make Your Own Luck. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve heard very good things, and the maps and factions in the core rule book are really cool. They have a lot of great games going for them, including Timewatch, a kickstarter for a time-travelling RPG.

There are a ton of great books from Catalyst Game Labs this year. If you missed them last year, Battletech and Shadowrun are sharing a book with quickstart rules for each game, and the Cosmic Patrol quickstart is back! New this year is the Valiant Quickstart which looks like a really cool superhero game for the Valiant comic universe. It looks like they’ll be releasing a lot of free stuff in the coming months in support of this game, so keep an eye out!

It’s a great day to support your local friendly gaming store, try some RPGs, and have an awesome time! If I don’t see you around my table, I hope you participate this year and tell your friends! Game on!

 

Kickstarter and Convention Round Up

November 18, 2013 Comments off

lne1While not strictly gaming related, one of our Skyland Games guys has created his very first Kickstarter: the comic book adventures of Lark & Eagle. The story is about two down on their luck heroes given a second chance to earn redemption after a disastrous mission by a new reality television show called “Hero Overhaul”. The comic is written by Steve Johnson and will be illustrated by Toro Diego and lettered by Tom Orzechowski.

Another friend of mine, Lee Bretschneider has his own Kickstarter currently funding: Role Play, a series of dice portrait tee shirts. Lee is an awesome illustrator and was the creator of one of my favorite tee shirts: Go Gnolls! Being a former Seminole and avid D&D player (plus an afficiando of all things gnollish), it speaks to me. I’ve worn the other one down to where it’s beginning to fade, so it may be time to hit Redbubble and pick out a new one.

dieshirtsLast weekend, I attended MACE in Charlotte, North Carolina. MACE has been held for the last couple years just a few hours away from home, but I’d never attended although the other Skylanders had. Steve and I both attended and I had a blast. All the Pathfinder I could care to play and/or run, plus boardgames, Mecha- Warhamm- Warma- Hordes… or whatever it’s called, and even some LARP, MACE has something for everyone. At least in the Pathfinder Society tables, I found it to be a total “couples con”. Every single game I ran or played had either one or two couples at the table. I’m not saying it’s unheard of, as we have a married couple in our local home game, and we have a few that attend our Pathfinder Society Lodge days at The Wyvern’s Tale, but couples playing (at least that many and that consistently) was a new experience for me. It’s always good when your significant others are involved in your hobbies, and a convention is a good place for a weekend getaway too.

In January, several of us are attending SCARAB in South Carolina. I went last year and had a great time, and this year they are moving the convention to a bigger and better space. I’m still wiped out by my weekend game-fest, but looking forward to this one coming up… and with luck I’ll be wearing my new d12 tee shirt and reading the first issue of Lark & Eagle while I’m there.

Kicking and Screaming

October 21, 2013 Comments off

So as to not bore you all with another set of Pathfinder Pregen Parties, I decided to go with an article about Kickstarter.  As a group, we at Skyland Games all have new ideas gushing out of our heads and no way to produce a decent product without having large sums of cash on hand.  And yes, it can get messy in the man-cave with all those ideas just lying on the floor of the man-cave.

The advantage to Kickstarter is that you do not need a lump sum of cash handy or try to find an investor that will loan you what you need without taking a large chunk of the profits.  I am more inclined to donate a little money for an idea that I think is neat and could go farther than just the Kickstarter campaign.  Crowdfunding works on so many levels, whether the project is big or small, with the possibility of your idea exploding and reaching many more people after the campaign.

I love the idea of crowdfunding.  Well, I love the idea so much that I am starting my own Kickstarter campaign in a couple of weeks.  But I am breaking off from our group for this project and going with a comic book.  Being that I severely lack in drawing skills, I have found an awesome artist and I can concentrate on telling an amazing story with complex interesting characters to entertain millions.  Well… maybe a couple hundred folks. 

What I have figured out from following other Kickstarters is to be prepared for anything and everything.  Make sure you provide examples and samples in your campaign to build excitement and have good, meaningful rewards to show appreciation to your backers.  But the one thing that backers need to understand is that you are not purchasing the product, you are donating funds and receiving a reward.  Also be prepared with a couple stretch goals so that you are not caught without the ability to add a little more to the project, whether it is another item or upgrading the quality of the product.  And be prepared to go through with it.  Don’t be afraid and just do it!

I think this is hitting a high note with me today because I just got the preliminary character sketches back, and… let’s just say – ‘Wow!’

ACE 2013 – Asheville Comic Expo Gaming

September 8, 2013 Comments off

flierround1It is nearly time! Join us at the 2nd Annual Asheville Comic Expo! Skyland Games is in charge of organizing the tabletop RPGs, and we’ve got some great tables this year! Check out the full schedule and guarantee your spot at the table by registering at our warhorn for the event.

Admission is $5 for all day, and kids 12 and under get in free!

The venue will be the same as last year in the expo space at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville. The easiest parking is at the civic center parking deck, and the entrance to the Expo will be off Hiawassee St. on the North side of the center.

Sure you’ve read about Star Wars: Edge of the Empire here, well now is your chance to charge up your blaster and hit the hyperdrive! Maybe you’d like a more traditional dungeon delve, with a twist: check out Dungeon Crawl Classics. Like your Worlds nice and Savage? Try Slipstream, a sci-fi adventure world full of jetpacks and rayguns! Pathfinder more your speed? Why not try it from a Goblin perspective in We Be Goblins, or discover who has claimed an ancient siege castle in Master of the Fallen Fortress. New to Pathfinder? Sign up for In Service to Lore, an awesome introductory adventure to Pathfinder Society, the organized play version of the Pathfinder game. Want to get the next generation of gamers off on the right foot? Sign up your younglings for the Pathfinder Kids table, offered in both time slots, and featuring the excellent Pathfinder Beginner Box!

Last year the costumes and costume contest were fantastic! Dust off you capes, and practice your best hero pose because the cosplayers will be out in force. It also makes for some excellent people watching! All kinds of comic and toy vendors will be on hand, as well as artists, and a Friendly Local Game Store or two!

Show your support of our local comic convention, and maybe play an RPG or two! See you there!

Gygax Magazine Review

February 26, 2013 2 comments

GygaxCover

The King is Dead. Long live the King!

 

If you love roleplaying games (and if you’re reading this, you probably do) do yourself a favor and subscribe to Gygax Magazine. I really enjoyed any issue of Kobold Quarterly I could get my hands on. I even wrote about it here. To my eternal shame, I never actually subscribed and in the meantime, KQ has printed its last issue. While I didn’t personally have a Dragon magazine subscription, I have since perused old issues and developed a real appreciation for what that publication did not only to grow Dungeons and Dragons, but to increase and diversify both the audience and the genres for RPGs as a hobby.

Gygax magazine is pitch perfect in every category as far as I’m concerned. Not only was the staff wise enough to bring on Wolfgang Baur (the kobold-in-chief) and provide a corner for KQ material, they went back to the classic format of Dragon magazine both in layout and design. First and foremost, the classic oil painting cover featuring a fantastic but also humorous situation, using the same font as the old Dragon for the title, as well as similar text in the upper right of the price and few articles within. Inside, the contents page is formatted almost exactly like issues from the mid-80s, and the articles are formatted in triple columns and fairly plain titles. It just feels… right.

One of the most fascinating articles was about the cosmology of RPGs by James Carpio. James has done a great job breaking down the different waves and movements in the RPG hobby into stars in a galaxy. This includes a really cool two-page graphic depicting most of the major RPGs and games that use the same type of mechanics or design ideas. It’s a really cool graphical representation of the games over time and may help you find some cool games you missed.

My favorite thing about the magazine is it’s inclusive feel, taking on all game systems and all types of players. There are articles that would appeal to old-guard gamers about improv DMing, and bridging generations. There are nitty-gritty articles that break down which is mathematically statistically better: +1 damage or +1 to hit? There are cutting edge articles talking about the future of gaming, and online table tops. Essentially there is something for everyone!

Towards the end of course, there are the comics! Classics like Order of the Stick, as well as What’s New with Phil and Dixie, and one that was new to me, Marvin the Mage. All and all, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don’t let this magazine fail! Subscribe and support an excellent resource for roleplaying games!

Categories: Adventure, Books, Comics, DnD, Retro, Reviews, RPGs