Geek life and custom content for Savage Worlds
One of the characters in my Deadlands game is a student of biology and the occult, in the vein of Charles Fort and other cryptozoologists. I wrote up this professional Edge for him.
Requirements: Knowledge (Biology) d8, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Survival d4
You have made an extensive study of unusual animals that some believe don’t exist, such as the Mojave rattler, prairie ticks, and the chupacabra. You know that such strange animals exist, and have learned something about how to deal with them. You gain a +2 bonus on Knowledge (Occult) checks to identify and answer questions about supernatural creatures. As an action, you may attempt to analyze such a creature (or group of creatures of the same type) with a Knowledge (Occult) roll. On a success, gain one of the following bonuses. On a raise, allies within 6″ of you that can understand your instruction gain the same bonus.
So Pinnacle has jumped in on the whole Kickstarter phenomenon with a new Deadlands setting, Deadlands Noir. Check out the Kickstarter page here.
Honestly, I can’t say I’m that enthused, as much as I love Deadlands. I can see the appeal of Deadlands + Raymond Chandler, but if I was in the mood for Raymond Chandler-esque, I’d probably just play Dresden Files – the actual time period doesn’t interest me much. Call of Cthulhu is already set around the same time and has a lot of the same feel. I don’t see what the Noir setting really brings to the table that Call of Cthulhu or Dresden Files doesn’t already have. The main setting is New Orleans, which I’ve used several times for Dresden Files games already, so I already have a version of the city in my head that feels like “mine”.
I’ll keep an eye on it as it comes closer, and very likely pick up a copy just to mine for ideas for the city if I ever run a DF game set in N’awlins again. I have faith in the writers, after all. The Pinnacle people put out good stuff.
I’m spending the week in a virtual classroom, learning about Exchange 2010 for my job. It’s nice to be picking things up, since I started running an Exchange server without any formal training a couple of years ago. Most of it is things I’ve learned hands-on, but it’s certainly good to see what’s going to be available for our new server and get a better foundation on things I’ve mostly only inferred and read about on the Web.
In the evenings, I’ve been working on getting ahead of things a ways in my Deadlands game. I ran a fairly simple scenario last week (devil bats attack the PC’s ship and try to abduct people, PCs notice a small town also victimized by the devil bat nest, and go to help), though I was happy to get the group’s zeppelin, the Fourth Estate, mapped out. I’m going to put together a more thorough map of it, for which I’m experimenting with different mapping programs. Here’s what I drew on the board last Sunday, in order from the bottom of the gondola to the top (the engine room is actually inside the balloon part of the zeppelin; there are several cramped passageways leading out from the engine room to access the propellers and the top-mounted gun):
Obviously these are just rough maps, drawn with wet-erase markers so I could run the game. But I like the idea of putting out something nicer to look at. Along with the NPC cards, I’m trying to improve the ability of my players to visualize things, and so a nice map of their home base in the game – which will need maps here and there, since it will occasionally be involved in the action – does help.
I’m trying both Dundjinni and Campaign Cartographer for this. I’ve used CC in the past, and dug out my old CDs of it to see how well I remember it. Any other suggestions for map-making software I should use to turn these into game-usable battlemats? I’m going to try and set them up, print them at 1″ scale to 1 yard scale, and then mount that on some black foamboard I bought. I had a player do this once for a ship we were using as a home base, and I loved it – wish I still had them, it was great for a generic fantasy ship.
I’ll post what I have when I get something I feel happy with.
I’m happy to report that my Deadlands Masks of Nyarlathotep game is getting off the ground.
The basic concept of the game, which I’m just loosely basing on the Chaosium Masks of Nyarlathotep mega-campaign at this point, is that the characters are going to be helping write the Tombstone Epitaph’s Gazetteer of the World. The Epitaph is a newspaper in the Deadlands setting that covers the weird and unexplained – think the National Inquirer if all the stuff they reported was real, and they were the only ones that got around the government Men in Black to actually publish anything.
The Epitaph has cocommissioned a zeppelin from Smith & Robards to travel the world and write about what’s going on in other parts of the world, since news has been hard to come by in the last two decades or so. These have been years of upheaval across the world, but most people only know what’s happened in the Americas. The PCs will be part of this team, traveling the world and maybe (just possibly) getting wind of a massive conspiracy that threatens the future of everyone.
The world of Deadlands outside the North American continent is pretty undefined, which allows me to have quite a bit of fun with what might be happening over the next horizon. I have some ideas already – I’ll be posting them on this blog as I write them up.
We had a session of character creation last weekend, and will be playing every two weeks starting in mid-February. So far the concepts I have are…
I’m excited – I have a good group of players, and not having a huge eight-person group is going to help give everybody a chance to have the spotlight. I’m a bit concerned that we won’t have that much time for each session, but we’ll see how it works out.
Chagha’Chante aka Frozen Heart aka Seeks the Rivers
Poisoner (Professional Edge)
Requirements: Novice, Knowledge (Poisons) d6, Stealth d6
You are adept at using poison, and know how to dose poisons efficiently and apply them to their best effect. All Vigor and Heal rolls made to resist or remove poisons you apply through weapons or subtler methods suffer a -1 penalty. You are also experienced at getting poison where it needs to go, and gain a +2 bonus on all Stealth rolls related to applying poison surreptitiously.
Min is the owner of the Lotus Blossom Theater, a high-quality brothel in Deadwood. She was trained as a courtesan and assassin from a young age by a small group of assassins in Shan Fan, taught to use her beauty to manipulate men and eliminate them. She proved very efficient at this task, though she eventually made enough enemies that she felt it best to move on to newer pastures, after she eliminated the leader of her small group of assassins after he repeatedly tried to force himself on her.
Deadwood is an unpleasant compromise, in Min’s mind. She kn0ws that if she travels to a larger town that might be more profitable and fit her tastes better, she’s also more likely to be found and eliminated by her enemies. She is in Deadwood because it has a decent Chinese population, but it’s a small and unpleasant enough location that her enemies shouldn’t think to look for her. She has managed to charm a local tough, Li Bao, so that she has some muscle if her enemies should ever catch up to her. She’s beginning to consider allying herself to Al Swearengen, who is clearly the town’s most powerful and influential citizen.
Martial Artist Thug
Something that I’m doing with my current Deadlands game that I haven’t tried before is creating index cards for NPCs. These are an image of the NPC, as well as their name and a brief description of their role. When they’re interacting with that NPC, I’ll put the card up in front of me in a card holder, so they can see it at all times. It’s something I’ve implemented to allow my players to better visualize the people they’re interacting with.
For my current Deadwood game, I found a bunch of graphite drawings of the main characters of the Deadwood TV show, which I’m using as one of my big influences. These were perfect for my NPC cards. I’ve found several web sites with other graphite portraits, so I’m trying to keep the look of them consistent. When I have to, I’ll use GIMP (a free Photoshop analogue), as well as a free sketch plugin I found, to make a photo approximate a graphite sketch, and then use that. The players seem to have really liked these, and several times they’ve asked for cards for NPCs they meet.
I think I’ll retain this idea for any future games I run – I like how it works out. There are a number of excellent sources for fantasy portraits, so any future fantasy games I run this will be easy for. I need to start finding portraits for my upcoming Deadlands Masks of Nyarlathotep game, as well.
Here’s a link to my current NPC Cards for the Deadwood game.
Anybody do anything similar to this? How do you help your players visualize NPCs?
Here are the PCs for the Deadlands game I’m currently running. They’re in Deadwood, trying to sort out all the things that seem to be going wrong in town – why winter got such a powerful start so early, who’s sabotaging the town’s food supplies, what that weird howling is in the wilderness outside town, what’s going on in the Satan’s Garden Mine, how Al Swearengen has such a powerful grip on the townsfolk, why the Sioux dynamited a bridge leading into town, and why one of the gangs in Chinatown suddenly seems more powerful than all the rest. There’s a heap of trouble facing this posse.
This is the Deadlands character sheet I put together for my current Deadlands game. It’s in Excel 2007 format. There are several sheets – the character sheet itself is the sheet called “Pretty Character Sheet”, the rest is just for tracking advances and character generation and such. I hope people find it useful.
I’m putting this together because I wanted a place to write down ideas for my games, as well as a permanent home for any custom content I post – I’ve written several things over the years that have just been living in my Dropbox public folder and only show up if you happen to search through ENWorld archives, and I figured they might get more exposure if I gave them a more permanent home.
This blog will primarily be devoted to Pathfinder and Savage Worlds content. I have a Pathfinder setting I’m slowly fleshing out for use, mostly as a thought exercise and because I like tinkering with mechanics. I’m also starting the planning stages of adapting the Complete Masks of Nyarlatholtep to Deadlands using the Savage Worlds system. I’m a born tinkerer, though, so I’ll be changing a substantial amount of the adventure to fit into my preferences and the Deadlands setting.