What’s VFF Publishing, you ask? Why, it’s my publishing imprint! Yes, I write and publish novels. This blog is about gaming, but I see no reason not to redirect you to the Visions of Fantasy & the Future site if you’re curious about what I write. I write fantasy and sci-fi. You can buy my novels at Amazon and other fine sellers of literature.
This session continues from where session 2 left off: the PCs had just gotten settled in the Rebel Base on Mirial, received their new assignment, and the word came through: Alderaan was obliterated, destroyed by the Empire.
Despite the atmosphere of shock and sorrow permeating the Rebel Base, our heroes had to press on. They had a job to do and despite the latest atrocity by the Empire, duty still called. Listehol was a neighboring system, so flying there to investigate the now-silent listening post would take a few hours at worst. Major Vri’bek had Desperate Measures loaded up with the gear they’d need and they were off!
Navigating to Listehol was fairly simple and the listening post was at the provided coordinates. It seemed lifeless, though, and a fly-by showed the cause: an asteroid collision. They landed on the large landed pad on the outpost’s roof and suited up. With the power out, there was no safe way to get inside, so Lisska forced the turbolift doors and they climbed down. A quick glance around made it obvious what happened: some object collided with the Listening Post’s sensor array, causing an explosion which hurled shrapnel through the transparisteel viewports causing catastrophic depressurization the emergency system were not equipped to handle. All hands were lost.
A quick survey revealed that only two transparisteel windows needed patches and then life support would function again. They made the necessary repairs and went into the utility level to reset the generators. Unfortunately, the sub-level was infested with mynocks. Using the generator’s diagnostic software, Daesha pinpointed the locations of the power drains. The others killed the mynocks attached to the power cables and also cleared them out of the sensor suite’s inner workings.
Once repairs were complete, they returned to Mirial. Strangely, the base’s defenses seemed to be offline and there was no communication from the base upon approach. The hangers were empty, devoid of the shuttles and starfighters assigned to the base, yet there were no signs of hostile actions. Ren piloted Desperate Measures into the hanger bay and they saw a shape crouching over a body on the deck while a mechanic waved at them frantically from within the control room. Their ship drew the attention of the shape devouring the body and it looked up and snarled. It might once have been human, but now was clearly feral and bloodthirsty. Marcus fired the ship’s weapons at it, vaporizing it. They set down in the hanger bay, geared up, and entered the Rebel Base.
They first checked in with the mechanic who had locked himself in the control room. Though the bith mechanic was hysterical, he reported that this wasn’t some sort of attack, but rather the creatures ravaging the base were former rebels! Some of the other officers and technicians were holed up in the med lab and our heroes established contact with Dr. Jerol and Major Vri’bek. Dr. Jerol was able to establish that every feral mutant was a wounded rebel who was treated with the bacta brought from Mother Ithor. Apparently, the bacta was contaminated with a dormant virus so old, it didn’t show up on modern sensors. In fact, the virus was thought to be extinct since no cases had been reported in over a thousand years. It was Dr. Jerol’s opinion that the bacta had been deliberately contaminated with Rakghoul Virus.
Marcus and the others had a horrid revelation: they were allowed to escape from Mother Ithor in order to bring the contaminated bacta back to a rebel base. They fought their way to the medlab and retrieved Dr. Jerol, Major Vri’bek, and the technicians, then returned to the hanger and retrieved the technician from the control room. Due to the isolation nature of the Rebel base, Dr. Jerol was confident the remaining rakghouls would starve to death by the time they returned, and it was highly unlikely they would be able to scale the icy walls of the polar canyons in which the base was located, then trek across hundreds, if not thousands of mile of uninhabited arctic wilderness to civilization. Crammed into Desperate Measures, they returned to the Listehol Listening Post and planned their next move.
Once everyone was settled in the Listening Post, Dr. Jerol informed the crew he believed he could synthesize a vaccine, but it would require a bacta substitute he could use to purge the system and purify the bacta. They would have to go to the Inner Rim system of Manaan and acquire several tanks of kolto, bacta’s precursor. Despite being outdated, kolto was still regulated by the Empire, and Manaan was, in fact, heavily patrolled. Major Vri’bek would accompany them while Dr. Jerol and the technicians remained at the Listening Post.
Preparing to travel to the Empire-controlled, Inner Rim, the crew of Desperate Measures had their work cut out for them….
That’s easy: friends. Apart from my wife, I can’t think of one real friend I have that I didn’t meet through role-playing games. To me, that’s Gary Gygax’s true legacy: the creation of a huge network of friends and colleagues so many of us share. Without the influence of role-playing games, my life would be unrecognizable. I wouldn’t even begin to guess what I’d be doing, who I’d be hanging out with, what my job would be. It has, quite literally, informed every aspect of my life.
I’m sure Vin Diesel will be a popular choice for this one and Stephen Colbert, too. I haven’t actually heard Robin Williams talk about D&D, though he was a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda (hence his daughter’s name). So, I’ll give a shout out to Jon Favreau. I’ve been a fan of his since he played Rudy’s friend in… Rudy. Of course, he’s more famous now as the director of Elf and Iron Man. He credits D&D with helping develop his imagination and storytelling skills. From the L.A. Times in 2008:
Some filmmakers get their start making shaky home movies, others catch the bug in a high school drama class or maybe through an art institute where they put paint to canvas. Favreau has more of an eight-sided education.
“It was Dungeons & Dragons, but I wouldn’t have owned up so quickly a few years ago,” Favreau said sheepishly.
“It’s rough. It’s one of the few groups that even comic-book fans look down on. But it gave me a really strong background in imagination, storytelling, understanding how to create tone and a sense of balance. You’re creating this modular, mythic environment where people can play in it.”
Maybe there should be a new Hollywood respect for eight- and 10-sided dice and a talent for troll tales: Robin Williams, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert and Vin Diesel have all professed their passion (past or present) for the role-playing game.
“It allowed me to not tamp down my imagination; I think there’s a tendency to turn that part of you off,” he said.
“Every kid has imagination, but at a certain age, that spigot gets turned off. I set it aside in high school. I really couldn’t do it now,” Favreau said, shaking his head. “There’s something in my heart — there was such a stigma to it.
“When I was young, it was exciting, but as I got older it felt like it was keeping me from progressing. You’re social in your small circle, but it’s asocial to the wider world.”
Okay, so that’s a total cop-out. After all, I don’t offer new rules, game reviews (well, rarely), or news. I tend to go to ENWorld for that. I’ve been going there since it was Eric Noah’s 3rd Edition D&D News (or whatever it was called in those days). I’ve been there long enough that I lost my original log-in somehow and had to start over (though it has always been JediSoth). Still, despite the years, I’m barely above 1,000 posts in the forums (joined August 2003 (the second time), 1022 posts = average of 85 posts/year). I’m a Professional Lurker.
The game of my youth: AD&D 2nd Edition. By the time 3rd edition came out, I had a measure of system mastery, I could run it in my sleep, and I felt comfortable creating rules content for it that wasn’t unbalanced. I played 2nd edition for its entire life cycle, though I didn’t truly appreciate some of the settings (like Planescape and Spelljammer) until their time was long gone.
Of course, no game is truly dead as long as you still have the rules and can still play it. I play multiple, so-called “dead” games each year at Gary Con, but with the advent of 5th edition D&D, I doubt I’ll go back to 2nd edition AD&D for any reason. 5th edition captures the feel of AD&D for me, and if I was to run it at a convention, I would stick with 1st edition AD&D (though the two games are similar enough mechanically that new players wouldn’t even notice) because it’s what everyone thinks of when they think of the classic version (BECMI, B/X, or Rules Compendium D&D, aka “Basic” is fantastic, too; I would run that again before I run AD&D).
Cross-genre mashups are my favorite, particularly for con games. Games run at conventions, typically one-shot, action-packed scenarios, are perfect for going gonzo and trying out things that you might never attempt in a long-term home game. Consider the following: A Call of Cthulhu game based on a “reality” TV series. Saturday Morning Cartoons cast as Superheroes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with 70s or 80s movie/TV icons. Call of Cthulhu on Gilligan’s Island. A KISS Superhero game. Something that sounds silly for a “serious” weekly game can be perfect for a 3-4 hour convention game where people need to grasp the concept quickly and have near-instant immersion. High concept games are fine, but when you have less than 4 hours to hand out pre-gens, explain the rules & background, and accomplish something during the game, you need all the help you can get.
I don’t really have a favorite inspiration. I’ve taken inspiration from television, film, literature, video games, life, and more. I’ll take inspiration anywhere I can get it and I’m pretty shameless about adapting and idea from one medium for my games. To me, the important thing is not WHERE one gets inspired, but WHAT one does with it.
This question is better answered by someone who dives deep into rules minutiae and loves it there. I don’t. Rules discussions bore me to tears, though I understand the need for games to have rules and have those rules be well-tested. I’m sure whatever I answer here, there will be someone who can explain at length why it’s not revolutionary and why I’m wrong and should feel bad.
BUT, I’m going to go ahead anyway. Damn the torpedoes!
I remember the days when the only way a PC could affect the game world was with a successful attack or skill check. Then came the Brownie Point (and by extension things like Hero Points, Fate Points, Force Points). By whatever name you call it, it was a limited reserve of points the characters could spend to do something extra, be it give themselves a bonus, reroll a failed attempt, or even “break” the rules in some way. Brownie Points, from the West End Games Ghostbusters RPG, by the way, were my first exposure to this concept.
I don’t use House Rules that much because, these days, I rarely play a system for long enough to need to tweak the rules as written. Back in the days of AD&D, though, we had lots of house rules. The house rules I used most were to remove gender restrictions on ability scores and race/level limits. I found when players planned for a long game, most would not considering anything other than male humans because of the restrictions (other than for thieves). Once the restrictions were gone, there was a much greater diversity of characters. If I had to run AD&D again, I would remove the race/class restrictions, too (though not the alignment restrictions for Paladins; they have been and always shall be Lawful Good).
I’m going to be pithy here and just say “the one I’m playing with my friends.”
A good GM and group can overcome the issues of most game systems. When I look back at games I’ve played, I remember what we did as characters, not the mechanics of the game. The perfect game is the one in which I can have fun. That’s it.
- For those of you not keeping up with the Twitters, I'm primarily tweeting over at @hccummings now. 10 hours ago
- Apologies if you saw this earlier: I'm migrated my Twitter over to my oft-neglected @HCCummings account. I need to be more writerly. 2 weeks ago
- In case you missed it this morning, I'm migrated my Twitter over to my oft-neglected @hccummings account. I need to be more writerly. 2 weeks ago
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