Saturday, December 5, 2015

Journey of Jack, Day One (Apocalyptia Solo Playthrough)

I've posted about Apocalyptia before, back when all that existed was the Beta. I think I did. I mentioned that before, right? No? Okay, well I was thinking it then. I remember visiting the forums and suggesting the inclusion of a tutorial or example for character creation and combat. The forum seems to have gone missing but I recently found the game released in it's 1st Edition and those things are in it, so I wanted to re-visit it. Of course we all know that means I need to do some solo gaming, so I made Jack as a sort of basic kind of wanderer. His adventures are written like a journal, which is a different style for me and I like it a lot. Very different and not that great for some genres but Post-Apocalypse chronicles are always interesting to me for what they suggest - namely, that the writer has survived the events being chronicled. Anyhow. Here's my entry for Jack's first day, in which he meets some Amazons on patrol and gets to shoot church zombies...

I finally set out from Highland this morning. There was decent salvage but, as usual, there was also a fairly large community of squatters. You’d think people would figure out that more people in one place just means attracting more walkers but… Stuck to the highway 70E and made good time, traveled over twenty miles until I rounded the bend and spotted a whole squad of Amazons armed and out for a stroll. Having just drank the last of my water, I offered to trades those few 9mm rounds I still had for a bit of drink. Cautious at first, they really opened up once they saw the bullets. Apparently they hadn’t been in touch with any of their people in quite some time and had all but run out of supplies themselves. Water they had, at a nearby outpost. They also had an offer for some work, if I was interested. A guy like me, alone, invited to help out eight desperate ladies? I pinched myself just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The leader, a pleasant gal named Addie who was dressed in fatigues and a tank top, motioned back to the West a ways and said they were planning on doing a scavenge run in the afternoon. She said if I wanted to tag along as extra support I could have my share of salvage and then maybe spend the evening back at the house. Of course, she was filling my water bottle from her canteen as she was saying this, but I don’t know that it mattered - I’d be crazy to refuse. We got the bikes and then headed into the center of, I’m not making this up, Mulberry Grove. There were some houses on the way in but we all pulled up to the post office, circled round, and started off in teams. I was assigned to work with Amie - a really grumpy older woman who looked like she’d rather shoot me than help me look for loot. “Some guy gives us a couple bullets and suddenly he’s supposed to be my friend?” Right. We basically stayed as far apart as a team could and still be called a team. We spent about an hour looking through one of the churches down the street. Not surprisingly, it was occupied - with half a dozen walkers. They’re nothing much on their own, but in groups like that it can get dicey. Amie and I took three each, with some double-taps. It’s usually not a great idea to go shooting like that without backup. I knew I only had 2 rounds left in my pistol, but these chicks were all carrying submachine guns and we could always hop on the bikes if we needed to bug out in a hurry. I found a staff, a duffel bag, a working wristwatch, and a mess kit. The upgrade from my ratty pack was welcome and I suppose the kit was nice too but… well, there’s not much call for a watch these days. And a staff is just a fancy name for a big stick. Still, not the worst haul I’ve had. Amie was pretty secretive about the things she scored, if any, but I think we reached the step above shoot-each-other-at-the-earliest-convenience. A good close quarters shootout will do that to folks. After checking in with Addie, we were told it was time to leave. An hour was about fifty-five minutes longer than you usually want to spend in any kind of town anyway, and we weren’t the only ones making a racket - no telling what lovely beasties were on their way to investigate. It didn’t seem like there was much left worth looking for in Mulberry Grove. I did help dismantle one of the cars parked in someone’s driveway - it would’ve normally taken me an hour but I had help. We scored a couple pieces of semi-useful wiring and valves. The ladies assured me they could use the parts at the outpost. We made it back in time for dinner and, lucky us, someone had found an unopened box of Twinkies. Those things are still good - it’s the perfect combination of preservatives and excessive packaging. They set up watch and I got to enjoy a good night’s rest for the first time in a long time.

I did some behind-the-scenes rolling as usual but didn't bother including it here because, well, it was messy. More messy than I'm used to. I also didn't use a random generator for the first day, which means I was satisfied with the amount of random tables and prompts that the system suggests for encounters and such. I used it for the second day though, and I'll post that once I get it cleaned up a bit. I really suggest Apocalyptia for anyone interested in something like Left 4 Dead or The Walking Dead (presumably... I've still never watched it) where the potential for hordes of Lethal Things is high and the atmosphere is grim. Did I mention the book is formatted like a military manual? Yeah. It is, and I think it adds to the experience - especially the slightly edited pictures where the soldiers are shown doing moves on other soldiers, but the other soldiers have been slightly zombified. It's neat. Fits well with the Max Brooks books.

With Brightest of (Two Bullets Left, Jack...) Greens,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Prologue: It's Not the Heat, It's the Catpeople (GURPS: Reign of Steel Solo Playthrough)

I've been wanting to play in the Reign of Steel setting for years now and I finally found my muse in the form of Morning Coffee Solo Variations, a solo gaming engine being developed based off of the Mythic GME I'm always talking about. I started thinking this through days ago and, honestly, I just hate crunching numbers right now. I'm not sure why. Summertime blues, maybe. So I didn't bother actually making character sheets and approached with more emphasis on creative storytelling (which is really usually how my solo playthroughs end up anyway). I like to get all my rolling done first, then write the scene afterwards, which seems not to be the standard.


When has BW ever been 'normal' anyway, amiright? Here's what I came up with. I'm not sure if I'll continue the story or not, as this was more about testing out the MCSV than anything else. Still, one never knows. Amazing artwork is always inspiring...

SCENE ONE PROPOSAL: Heracles and Megara are scouting the jungle alone, looking for leads on Red Dawn.
CHAOS DIE ROLL: Unmodified (0)
ORACLE QUESTION 1: "Will there be combat in this scene?" [50/50, (6)"Yes"/(8)Unmodified]
ORACLE QUESTION 2: "Will the combat be against Red Dawn?" [Likely, (5)"Yes"/(4)But...]
ORACLE QUESTION 3: "Will the two win the confrontation?" [50/50, (5)"Yes"/(5) Unmodified]

INTERPRETATION: Heracles and Megara discover a small encampment of Red Dawn soldiers and, after studying, decide to attack. There seems to be only a few soldiers and, while they put up a fight as best they can, it's clear that the soldiers are actually in the final throes of some sort of illness and are easily defeated.

Stalking slowly towards the firelight they'd seen in the distance, the two artificially created soldiers acted as one. It wasn't quite a full moon but with the clear sky overhead, there was plenty of light to hunt by. Their prey, a human resistance group known as Red Dawn, had been active in the jungles for several years now - something the Caracas AI could no longer tolerate. True, it was ruthless when it came to dealing with captured humans, but it wasn't the worst place to live, if you could find a cave and just leave everyone alone. That's what many did. Reports were that there was upwards of a few thousand still living in the Andes. Caracas was fine with that. Ambushing and destroying dumbot convoys though? That was too much.

The program to develop biological androids had yet to be fully tested, in fact. This was a trial run of sorts. A company of the latest models - dubbed 'Panteras' by those who'd seen them and lived - had been released into the field a few weeks ago with instructions to hunt down and eradicate the Red Dawn by whatever means necessary. It was only a matter of days before the accompanying exterminator robots proved too slow or unable to pursue more abstract lines of reasoning. They were dumped within the first week, gladly recalled for other duties. Of course the accelerated growth tanks and breeding gave the Panteras an edge that no amount of programming could - and just to be sure, they'd undergone some intense basic training. Every single Pantera in the field had successfully stalked and killed human prey under controlled conditions. Now, with the collars off and full autonomy in completing their task, the Red Dawn wouldn't last long.

Some conversation drifted through the thick undergrowth but it meant little to the hunters - spoken language wasn't among their serious training. Just enough to understand orders, and that only in English since that was still a lingua franca among the AIs. The voices sounded weak though, and had it not been for the three days of near constant skulking and scouting, the Panteras might have planned a little better. As it was, they were tired of this cat and mouse game. Time for the cats to play.

A simple glance from the larger one - the male, dubbed Heracles by his bot trainers - was all the signal that was needed. Rushing the final few yards to the circle of worn soldiers was easy when you weren't slowed down by boots or armor. The first one to fall never knew what hit him - a well-placed blade silenced him forever. Next, Heracles leapt at the only other human standing who, with eyes wide, managed to wake the others with his gurgled cries. Stealth switched to full combat when Megara, the other Pantera, opened fire with her assault rifle from cover and dropped two of the Red Dawn members before they could grab their weapons. The last soldier, a young lady full of bruises and cuts, scrambled backwards until hitting a tree trunk. She wasn't even trying to fight and it didn't take a translation to understand she was terrified.

Certain the camp had been cleared but for the girl, Megara emerged from the jungle with her weapon at the ready. Heracles glowered down at the girl but hesitated. Something wasn't right, and Megara could sense it too. These people shouldn't have gone down that easily. A closer inspection of the bodies, and the cuts on the cowering girl, and the Panteras could see the reason: The soldiers were sick. Real sick. It wasn't part of the training to understand why, or to even care, but something stayed Heracles' hand.

"Human is Red Dawn, yes?" he inquired in his deep voice. "Human knows where there are more Red Dawn...?"

The question was clear enough, even in a language more foreign than the girl had ever heard before. She looked back and forth between the two before pointing off towards the West and chattering away unintelligibly. The Panteras weren't impressed and likely would have ended the girl's misery right then if she hadn't started scribbling in the dirt. It was a crude map but one which Heracles and Megara, having been around most of the jungle either in-person or in simulations, could identify. The girl was indicating a location at the foot of the Andes mountain range about seventy-five miles east of Lima compound. It would be another day or two of traveling and they'd have to check in with their robot masters... but it might turn out to be worth it.

The girl finished her map and sat back. Not more than ten or eleven years old, it struck the two biological androids that the trio was likely fairly close in age. The accelerated growth hormones had drawbacks, though not to the machine overlords. Life expectancy for Panteras was, at the outside, three and a half decades. Given the nature of their existence, not many would ever last that long anyway. They turned away, leaving the girl alone and soon to fall victim to whatever had begun its work in her already.

Life expectancy for Panteras was still probably longer than most humans nowadays...

[So that was fun, and not altogether a disaster! I enjoyed the ease of not flipping back and forth in the Mythic book, and I really like the streamlined presentation for using Chaos. I'll link to the MCSV once it's published for all you Bwogonauts to run out and grab it for yourselves!]

With Brightest of (Post-Apocalyptic Jungle) Greens,

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bwogonauts Have Friends Too...

Solo gaming is a labor of love.

I was recently reading someone's ideas for a specifically singleplayer roleplaying experience and it reminded me a lot of various half-finished Notepad documents scattered around my hard drive. For myself, nothing is more random or boring than my day-to-day life. That lovely paradox literally oozes story potential. I have children so, yes, "literally oozing" is an accurate description of many days around Casa de BW. Is there a way to tap into Real Life and use it as inspiration for storytelling? I've heard rumors to the effect that that's exactly what people who write books do but to ordinary Bwoggers like us, it often seems like Magical Magic From Magicland. I mean, sometimes we just want to roll dice and pretend to stab orcs in the face - we shouldn't need a night class to teach us that... right?


Aside from that probably being the easiest credit in your university career, I think I can distill some themes from the my myriad digital ramblings and, with actual inspirations like [games you've already checked out because you're a regular visitor to the Bwogosphere]. I guess this might count as something more along the lines of a generator itself, but that's okay because it's the kind that doesn't use fossil fuels and you can setup on your rooftop with ease. Or maybe your sheep field, where you grow your... sheep? Sure. That's how farming works, I think.

So I think there are a few key pieces here, and I'm going to use language that leans less on the 'gaming' and more on the 'story-crafting' side, since that's usually how I tend to think of my solo sessions:

The Setting: Where does your story take place? What's the lore? Do you want to have a complete lore before you being or just build as you go?
The Hero(es): Who are your main characters? Secondary characters? Are you generating them with a system or just writing up a bio?
The Metric(s): What is your primary standard for meeting or failing to meet progress towards a goal?
The Goal(s): What is your character or party trying to accomplish? What are they working towards?
The Random Stuff: What are some things that might happen in pursuit of your metric(s) that you could use as indicators of plot twists in your story?

I think that's probably a good start. Answers to those five questions will go a long way into laying the groundwork for some cool storytelling. I wouldn't rely on a system too much for mechanics but character creation is usually my favorite part of a game and there are some systems that do that really well. To use a recent conversation about a possible play-by-post game, let's see how this might actually work in practice. The relevant backstory is that I love learning new systems, even if I don't end up liking them, and I'm always wondering about solo application. I'm currently learning the Vampire: the Masquerade (V20) system, and I have always loved the Deluge setting (available for pay-what-you-want at the link). I was wondering aloud if there was a way to combine playing vampires (which, in my mind, is an excellent survival/horror genre when I place emphasis on survival over crazy blood mysticism or cut-throat politics) in a setting where it's been raining non-stop for a century. The answer, spoiler alert, is 'duh', but let's see how we do anyway:

The Setting: Deluge - planet Earth after it's been raining non-stop for a hundred years. Post-apocalyptic but very wet, dreary, and full of odd combinations of high-technology and improvisation. I don't want much more than our current day technology, I'd say the story will take place in roughly 2100AD, with it having starting raining heavy and the rapid rising water levels didn't allow for much advancement beyond 2015-level tech. Some, but not much. Settlement generation, when needed, will use the system in Deluge, which is very quick and easy and lovely. We'll center around Maple Hill, a previously generated settlement I've had for a few years but never did anything with. A population over 100k, with a population delta of "exodus" and both having and needing people as resources - I'm going to say this means something dark is going on in Maple Hill. I want to have vampires, so maybe it's that the city pays for blood, organs, and limbs. In a post-apocalyse setting, that's gruesome enough reason to say a city needs people, has people, and that no one stays long. Add in that the city might be run by vampires and you're good to go.

The Hero: I don't quite know yet. There are elements of V20 I like and many I don't. I may just mix up my own version, using the system as inspiration. This may mean I set up my own homebrew mini-system for vampirism, but for now let's just say our character is named Wally and he's just woke up alone, confused, and soaked to the bone. His clothes are drenched in more than just rainwater and mud - there's bloodstains all over the front of his shirt, and there are rivulets of bloodied water running away from his location into the lush jungle undergrowth. It's dark - Wally knows it's not just overcast but nighttime - and, somehow, he can see everything like normal. Well, sort of normal but... different. We'll use all this to discover and define the vampirism as we go.

The Metric: There are a few things that I know I do, or need to do, daily and yet that I don't always succeed at. One thing is eating refined sugar, or just healthy eating in general. Another is getting outside for a walk (as opposed to driving or sitting on the porch). We homeschool and I (try) to organize and get that done on weekdays. I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide how often I meet any two of those goals daily.

The Goal(s): As a vampire, Wally will need to feed. What this means, I'm not sure yet. Does he need to drink human blood or does animal blood count? What happens if he skips a night? Can he leech bio-energy instead or actually drinking blood? Whatever it looks like, one defining component of Wally's vampirism will be that he needs to sustain himself daily (optimally). That's an easy goal. Another goal might be personal safety - Deluge is wonderfully harsh for the unprepared. Immortality doesn't go for much if you're buried in a mudslide or attacked by humanoid bears. Finding, building, invading, or otherwise obtaining some sort of personal dwelling will be another goal. Note that while the first goal is likely to be something Wally has to face every day the second goal will, in theory, reach completion. Those are two goals that seem good to start with, and let's just add in that Wally is a little amnesiatic from the experience - that'll be for the random bit later on. Let's assign the goal of "healthy eating" to "Wally needs to feed daily", with the added piece of "avoiding refined sugar for the day" meaning something particularly significant happens surrounding the feeding - he gains a new trait, learns something about how to feed, finds an alternate food source, etc. I like my sweets, okay? Stop judging! Alright, so let's have the goal of "taking a walk outside" tie to the "establishing a safe-house" piece, which makes sense because I won't be taking walks in December - it's a temporary goal on both points. Finally, let's tie that "successfully educated the Bwoglings" to "uncovering the truth about Maple Hill". That looks good for now.

The Random Stuff: Let's say that Wally has a hard time remembering things, probably because of the trauma of becoming a vampire. Whenever I wash a full load of dishes during my day, we'll let Wally remember something cool. I'm making a running change to our goals because I know myself - we'll move that goal about sweets here, because it fits better under this category, and because I like chocolate. So sue me. Whenever I have a day where I don't consume refined sugar or heavily processed foods, I'll add a new trait or ability to Wally in some fashion. A final one will be that whenever it rains in real life, measured by my actually seeing precipitation falling from the sky, I'll have what I call a Major Event happen. I'll make a list of what these could be and then just roll on it when needed (at least one should probably have Maple Hill somehow).

Review: So we now have a character, Wally, who has just awoken to vampirism in a rain-soaked post-apocalyptic Earth. We have a few metrics in place to keep the story moving with plenty of room for the unexpected. We have a particular location in the setting, Maple Hill, that is ripe with potential as a setpiece tailored to Wally's story, for good or ill. 

Already, there are all kinds of vampire lore bits that need to be answered - sleeping during the day, sleeping in a coffin, etc. We'll discover those as we go. The same goes for the setting, as we're establishing it from the perspective of a single character, but I think it's more fun that way. I won't promise to continue Wally's story but if you happen to stumble across a great story of your own and want to share, feel free to comment about it!

With Brightest of (lush tropical overgrown urban ruin sprawl) Greens,

**Special thanks to Friends of BW - S.B. and the Lone Wolf Roleplayers, and Lucia Sweet. Ya'll rock!**

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Shortest Adventure Ever (Chronicles of Arax Solo Adventure Playthrough/Review)


So I'm a bit of a solo enthusiast, which is one way of saying I really wish I had more friends that enjoyed gaming like I do, and I'm always on the lookout for new (and free) systems to try out. Enter Chronicles of Arax. I downloaded, read through it, and gave it a playthrough with the default character (because it doesn't include character creation rules)... and died very shortly thereafter. Obviously I'm going to try this again, but I'll be tweaking the character attributes and doing a little shopping for better equipment first. Here ya go:


Recently you have been spending some time in the most northern city in human lands, Gibston. This town has been built and re-built over the years after suffering constant attacks from the orcish hordes of the north. The people are tough and hardy, and town defence is the first thing on their minds.

It has come to your attention that a small band of orcs have taken up residence in the caves beneath Bloodfyre Mountain, a dormant volcano a days ride north of Gibston. Rumour has it that a renegade human sorcerer named Goraz leads them and that, over the years, he has amassed a hoard of treasure. You decide to investigate and ride out to the mountain. Upon arriving you enter one of the caves. Inside it is damp and dark...

Roll 1d10 to determine Encounter... (2).

-=ENCOUNTER ONE: Sleeping Guard=-
Rounding a corner in the tunnel you spot an orcish guard sleeping at his post several metres up ahead. You decide to try and creep past (Reflexes +3 to pass)...

Reflexes roll... (3) = Pass!

Roll 1d10+1 to determine next Encounter... (11)

-=ENCOUNTER TWO: Arrow Trap=-
You have just opened a flimsy wooden door when suddenly you hear a click. An arrow comes flying out of the wall behind you, aiming straight for your head (Reflexes 5+ to dodge)...!

Reflexes roll... (1) = Hit!
Lose 1d6 Wounds... (6)
Drink Healing Potion for... (2)

Roll 1d10+2 to determine next Encounter... (11, which we'll do anyway)

-=ENCOUNTER THREE: (Another) Arrow Trap=-
You have just opened a flimsy wooden door when suddenly you hear a click. An arrow comes flying out of the wall behind you, aiming straight for your head (Reflexes 5+ to dodge)...!

Reflexes roll... (6) = Dodged!

Roll 1d10+3 to determine next Encounter... (4)

-=ENCOUNTER FOUR: Drunk Orcs=-
An unholy cacophony of noise can be heard from up ahead. Rounding a corner you spot two orcs singing and yelling at the top of their guttural voices, flagons of ale in their hands. They are very drunk and, upon seeing you, become very aggressive (fight them both, one at a time)!


Orc 1: Fighting d6-1, Damage d6+2, Armour d8+1, 4/4 Wounds

3v5, Hit!
Damage taken = 7, -3 from Endurance/Armor = 4 Wounds taken!
2v3, Hit!
Damage taken = 6, -5 from Endurance/Armor = 1 Wound taken!
2v1, Successful Attack!
Damage given = 3, -8 from Armour = Shrugged off!
6v2, Successful Attack!
Damage given = 7, -8 from Armour = Srugged off!
2v3, Hit!
Damage taken = 6, -2 = 4 Wounds taken!

Orc 2: Fighting d6-1, Damage d6+2, Armour d8+1, 4/4 Wounds


All that text is straight from the book. To be honest, I think getting hit in the face with an arrow the first time meant that a lot of that "healing" potion must have dribbled out of my cheek or something, because it didn't help a great deal. And these orcs are supposed to be drunk? Come on. Look at those rolls and tell me just who's impaired. Anyway. This only took about an hour to do, with a break for lunch and typing out mechanics. Did like, would play again.

With Brightest of (dubiously-named potions) Greens,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bwogosphere Status: Haz Interruptz

Greetings Bwogonauts!

Just a quick update: We have some foreign exchange students staying with us for at least another week. That, in addition to some other very unexpected shenanigans, has prevented me from getting much done in the way of solo playthroughs. As a teaser, I will mention that, despite any previous mentionings to the contrary, I've recently had my eyes in a Sith-wardly direction - specifically the Star Wars Saga Edition variety. It would be a total first for me. I can't say I'm really a Jedi sort either... I think I'm just a droid at heart (or reasonable mechanical facsimile thereof).

Also, because I don't want to leave you high and dry and feeling anything less than Super Green, I will simply mention this. Enjoy!

With Brightest of (Springtime Grass For Your Oxen!) Greens,

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bwogpocalypse Scenario Eight, "Lots Of Rain For A Really Long Time" (Deluge Review)

I've been tinkering a bit, and trying to find a good excuse to use this setting for a number of years now, and I think it just may be time. I also still have my GURPS 3e Lite book, and I might try and use that for the system. I love GURPS for all it's lovely crunchy features but, honestly, I despise filling in character sheets. I like making the characters themselves, but... (sigh). So much work.

Anyway. Watch for that soon. I said I'd try something new to review CRGE and that may take me awhile to get in to. I have to un-Mythic what I have Mythic'd, to coin a phrase. The goal, really, is to have a fun session (or campaign!) that tells an interesting story, all using resources available for free. Because the Bwogosphere is many things, if not cheap. Well it's not cheap like old plastic toys, it's just poor.

I don't have any monies, is what I'm saying. Between gaming and dinner, I'm going to choose dinner almost every time. But I imagine most folks out there appreciate what I'm attempting. Sort of like a Les Stroud of RPGs, if you will. A terribly apt analogy for someone focusing on post-apocalypse stories.

With Brightest of (Don't You Even Mention That Other Guy) Greens,

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chapter Eight: End of Days Finale (Atomic Highway Solo Playthrough)

The following is copied directly from my GoogleDoc record of the game, including my own notes at the time of writing. I try to keep with mistakes as part of the learning process, so there are some of those as well. The notes are in blue for ease of reading. Anything I add for this blog will be in dark green. Here we go!

Proposal: Just do what was planned for Scene 7 before it was interrupted.

Notes: I suppose we'll let Marcus have back 5 Fortune, and we'll use Understanding/Tech for disabling the turret (Difficult - 1 success required, though disabling it without the pulse charge will be Arduous - 3 successes required). We'll use Nimbleness/Stealth or Athletics to get to the turret safely (Extreme - 2 successes required). I don't yet know exactly what the reward will be, but it will be substantial... if Marcus doesn't die or totally botch things. [Repeated from Scene 7]

Character List: Sam Brown, Sandra Brown, Jessica Brown, Emma Brown, Nick/John/Elise, Jake/Mike/Finn/Maxwell/Washington Sisters, fans, Winona, "Beaty" (Zane Walton), "Shooty" (Harland), salvage crew, hostage population, flora, fauna

Chaos Factor: 7 (unchanged)

Threads: a) Survive, b) Get Winona back, c) Investigate Boston, d) Learn more about what's going on in general, e) Address situation in Denver

Modifying the Scene: (0 - which we'll call 10) Proceed as planned. Awesome! (sometimes I don't know what to do when I roll a zero...)

Chaos Question 1: [Um... I can't think of anything I need to ask, since it's all based on skill rolls now, so I'll just play out the scene and then figure out what happens next!]

As soon as he's more than a few feet from the perimeter camp, Denver's turrets open fire on Marcus. It's not too difficult at first since he's so far away. Before long, however, he's having more than a few close calls...

Nimbleness3/Athletics1 to make the run (2 successes required): 3/3/1 > 4/3/1 > 5 Fortune > 6/6/1 = Success! [Wow. Let's hope that pulse charge works alright...]

He makes it to the wall, barely, and easily scales it to the turret's base. It's a massive double-barreled cannon capable of blasting incoming meteorites into dust. What it might have done to him a few moments ago only staggers his very active imagination. Marcus spots the panel and sets the charge as he was told, only now beginning to wonder how long he'd be stuck up here if it didn't work...

Understanding3/Tech1 to set the charge properly (1 success required): 5/2/2 > 6/2/1 = Success! [Whew!]

A quiet hum that lasts about three seconds suddenly fills the air and then... nothing. Marcus waits for the flare patiently, confident that he'd done what he was told. Now whether or not he was told correctly was another matter. Soon enough, though not too soon for his liking, he sees the night light up - green. He breathes a sigh of relief and makes his way down the wall's interior and waits for the others. The instructions about where he could go inside the city limits were pretty vague and bookended by about a dozen giant machine guns. Marcus preferred to just stay put and relax for a few.

“Mission Possible.”

[Awesome! Barely made it but now I can consider what we want to do for a reward. XP is on p.22 and pretty steep (raising Athletics to 2 might be appropriate though) but it might be better to just include it alongside a sweet ride or companion... maybe a really thankful mutant lady-type...]

Now I don't know the exact date but I'm sure it's been at least a year since I wrote this scene and I still can't think of anything cool to do next. I try and then I sort of just end up thinking "Well, that was it. That's the story." Help me Obiwognauts, you're my only help. Thoughts on where to go and what to do next? Thanks for reading!

As a sort of sneak peak, I'll mention I grabbed this yesterday and plan on running at least one solo session with it. I'll post it this weekend - check it out in the meanwhiles!

With Brightest of (The End...?) Greens,

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chapter Seven: End of Days (Atomic Highway Solo Playthrough)

The following is copied directly from my GoogleDoc record of the game, including my own notes at the time of writing. I try to keep with mistakes as part of the learning process, so there are some of those as well. The notes are in blue for ease of reading. Anything I add for this blog will be in dark green. Here we go!


Proposal: Marcus will approach the city under cover of darkness and make for the nearest turret. He'll set a pulse charge, and then find cover to see if the plan works. If it does (green flare), he can go back to the perimeter camp in safety as a hero. If it doesn't (red flare), he'll either return to the camp and come up with something else or improvise a way to disable the turret.

Notes: I suppose we'll let Marcus have back 5 Fortune (all in all, I was sort of ballparking that we'd be in our second session, at least, and have received a reset of Fortune), and we'll use Understanding/Tech for disabling the turret (Difficult - 1 success required, though disabling it without the pulse charge will be Arduous - 3 successes required). We'll use Nimbleness/Stealth to get to the turret safely (Extreme - 2 successes required). I don't yet know exactly what the reward will be, but it will be substantial... if Marcus doesn't die or totally botch things.

Character List: Sam Brown, Sandra Brown, Jessica Brown, Emma Brown, Nick/John/Elise, Jake/Mike/Finn/Maxwell/Washington Sisters, fans, Winona, "Beaty" (Zane Walton), "Shooty" (Harland), salvage crew, hostage population, flora, fauna (I love it when my character list starts to grow, don't you?)

Chaos Factor: 7 (Stakes are high!)

Threads: a) Survive, b) Get Winona back, c) Investigate Boston, d) Learn more about what's going on in general, e) Address situation in Denver

Modifying the Scene: (4) - Interrupt. Hmm. We'll have to roll a Random Event. Event Context = Marcus is about to disable a turret, Event Focus = (81) "Ambiguous Event", Action = (20) "Truce", Subject = (93) "Weather". Well I suppose that'll just mean it's a lovely night for Operation Wallcrawler, and maybe the mini-scene will revolve around the planning of said operation and just general atmospheric stuff (the salvage crew missing their families, radio contact, random turret fire, full moon - despite the ash, Marcus gearing up and maybe getting some clues as to what his reward might end up being, maybe some glowing on the horizon in the direction of Walensburg - or maybe it's not on the map at all...!).

Chaos Question 1: "Does Marcus know anyone inside Denver?" Unlikely@cf7 = (98) Exceptional No. Nuts. I thought maybe that could be cool.


The day was spent mostly in preparation for the evening's activities: Assessing possible routes of entry for Marcus and how to safely enter and exit the city once the single turret was disabled. The defense system was easy enough to reboot once inside. While there was a general sound of conversation over the salvage camp, no one particular crowd seemed very talkative. That was just fine by Marcus, who knew he needed a good nap - it was going to be a late night. He awoke just after sunset, which was always a weird sight for those who had been underground when Ender hit. The ash in the atmosphere made for an odd haze on the horizon, like a second-rate Aurora Borealis. It was still a new sight for Marcus though, and he appreciated that while most everything had changed, some things had changed less.

"Sunsets are always neat." he remarked to himself.

"That's one word for it," said Zane, having heard the words. "We've got a decent idea of how to go about this but it's really going to hinge on whether or not you manage to get shot. There's no question - as soon as you're in range, those turrets will open fire. You keep moving at a rapid pace and you'll probably be alright. If you hesitate, well, we can put that tractor to good use."

"Glad to hear it," replied Marcus, with no small amount of sarcasm. Being riddled with lots of large caliber holes half-naked in the snow is not really how he'd pictured going out. It beat starving in a bunker, but only barely.

"Speaking of your stuff, you're welcome to what you think will help. My advice is to travel light though. Speed is your best bet." (Zane follows the BW School of Thought when it comes to equipping PCs, it seems...)

The next hour or so was mostly like the others, only Marcus grabbed a warm meal - possibly his last - and prepared for his long-distance sprint. It was a cold winter night and stripping all the way down was ill-advised, though he did shed down to his pants for ease of motion. Dying of frostbite took a backseat to other more bullet-y alternatives. The moon was on the rise and could be seen clearly overhead amidst a backdrop of stars. It was rare to see anything through the ashclouds and this was taken both as tactical advantage and a good omen.

Marcus pocketed the pulse charge, double-checked the map once more, and readied to make his way to the city wall almost half a kilometer away.

My favorite part about solo RPGing is hard to nail down. It's not really the end product at all. The creative process - in this case, at least as wordcount-ish as the actual resulting narrative - is really the big draw. I love that random things happen, and I love working out what they could be. I always end up with way more amazing adventures than if I'd just stuck to one plot and ran with it. In this scene, while nothing terribly important happens, I get to flesh out Zane a little more and describe some of the atmospheric side effects of Ender (the asteroid that hit Earth), and then use that feature to bode our hero well - the last bit about seeing the stars is really beautiful that way. The one scene in the Matrix trilogy where Neo and Trinity break through the clouds comes to mind.

Alright. Last chapter should be up later tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to flip back a bit and let me know what you thought of Virtual Reality. I confess that most of these recent posts are both an attempt to get me back in to blogging by utilizing the opportunity in a way I hadn't thought of previously (posting playthroughs) and sharing the solo sessions with other like-minded folks and grow as a community through it. I'll have more original content, and almost certainly more playthroughs, next week or so.

With Brightest of (I wonder if the Buggers sent Ender in retaliation for Little Doctor...) Greens,

Chapter Six: End of Days (Atomic Highway Solo Playthrough)

The following is copied directly from my GoogleDoc record of the game, including my own notes at the time of writing. I try to keep with mistakes as part of the learning process, so there are some of those as well. The notes are in blue for ease of reading. Anything I add for this blog will be in dark green. Here we go!

(So I took an extended break between chapters six and seven, hence the recap and notes at the beginning. It's a prime reason why I record my notes in a sort of "stream of consciousness" format in with the narrative - I never know when I'm going to need to remember why I did what I did, so I just write it all down.)

I think it's a bit much to make Beaty and Shooty into full-fledged allies here - they've no desire to get killed helping Marcus. They might, however, and once Shooty wakes up, be willing to help him get his stuff back (or some of it) if he can help them in some way (other than not killing them outright, which he wouldn't really do anyway). Being weary and ragged, they might settle for some good food - and Marcus has some in his belongings.


***STEP ONE: The Setup***

Recap: Marcus has traveled from his vault to Denver, where he narrowly escaped being "processed" by fleeing into the nearby woods. His things were confiscated and he was tracked by two soldiers, one of whom is now laying unconscious and the other having surrendered at crossbow-point. It's doubtful he will straight up help Marcus but he doesn't seem to have much loyalty to his own people either. He and the unconscious soldier look weary and malnourished as it is. It is now dark and the three are standing in the wood, snow on the ground, Denver lights in the distance and an unknown number of patrols still searching for Marcus, which may include a helicopter he saw earlier.

Proposal: Marcus will attempt to broker a deal with the soldiers - help him get back his gear (with or without the tractor and fuel) and he'll let them know about a place where they can get food (Walensburg) and directions to the vault.

Notes: I haven't settled on much about details for what's going on in Denver, so I'll probably use this scene to tell some backstory guided by the rolls.

Character List: Sam Brown, Sandra Brown, Jessica Brown, Emma Brown, Nick/John/Elise, Jake/Mike/Finn/Maxwell/Washington sisters, fans, Winona (that counts, right?), "Beaty" (conscious soldier that surrendered), "Shooty" (soldier that was ko'ed).

Chaos Factor: 6 (Meh. It's dark and things are still tense - and Marcus is still outnumbered).

Threads: a) Survive, b) Get Winona back, c) Investigate Boston, d) Learn more about what's going on in general

Modifying the Scene: (3) - Scene is altered, and not the one I initially intended. Well, I intended to broker a deal with the wearied soldiers... barring that, the next most logical thing to happen would be that Marcus misunderstood the situation entirely and things aren't what they seem.

Chaos Question 1: "Is there something significantly larger going on here (as opposed to a mundane sort of explanation) than Marcus thought?" 50/50@cf6 = (36) Yes. I'm going to try Random Event roll and see if I can use that somehow. Focus = (42) "Move toward a thread", Action = (75) "Refuse", Subject = (89) "Portals". I'll roll to see which thread it might be about = (4) "Learn more about what's going on in general". Hmm. Let's try something new...

Fallout Wiki Question 1: "What is the primary facet of the situation that Marcus was unaware of and which the soldiers will inform him of?"
(I have also heard of some people using the Random feature of wikis. I think that's a lovely idea, though sometimes you have to hit the button more than once because you end up with a three sentence stub. This worked out very nicely.)

"Sky robots" - asteroid defenses have malfunctioned, stranding people inside the city (no one in or out). The soldiers were a part of a checkpoint to keep people from getting too close to the city because the asteroid defense system turrets were malfunctioning and shooting anyone that approaches. Unfortunately, they're also stranded hundreds of people within the city perimeter as well. This will be the content of this scene - this discussion, and maybe a strategy for Marcus to help (he can go and reclaim his things whenever). It wasn't the soldiers that were shooting at him before - it was the LR turrets.

***STEP TWO: Playing Out the Scene***

Marcus was listening to the first soldier, Zane Walton, explain how Denver had handled Ender. Some sort of military sensor network linked to multiple high-caliber auto-turrets to shoot down incoming projectiles. It wasn't perfect by any stretch but the city was still mostly intact, structurally speaking. The power grid was out in most areas, of course, and all the survivors that hadn't already evacuated were living in a block of apartment buildings running backup generators. Fuel was running low and scouts had been sent out. Zane was one of those parties. When they returned with fuel siphoned from vehicles they could find, the turrets suddenly opened fire and they were forced to retreat. That was a couple weeks ago. Radio contact with the survivors has been intermittent but without anyone going in or out it's now likely they are starving. The unconscious soldier started to wake up.

"What's... hey, Zane, what's goin' on...?"

"No worries, Harland, we're okay."

"Well, I don't know about that - we're still stuck in the woods. You think we could make it back to your crew without being shot at?" Marcus wasn't crazy about being shot at anymore, even if it was starting to get light out. Managing to avoid mutant attacks during the night had been enough excitement for him.

"Oh, that's easy." Zane again. "We can pretty much approach from the road like you did - we just can't go quite so far. We were on the extreme limits of the turrets' range - that's why we're still around. I don't know - Harland, what do you think, you think this guy might make it in?"

"The turrets opened fire last night for sure, but it might have been us or the tractor or something else in our general direction. And he managed to avoid being hit, and he took me out - but he had a little help there," Harland's eyes glare into Zane's face, " he just might be able to help. You got any useful mutations, or just lookin' weird?"

Marcus didn't like being volunteered for running headlong into machine gun fire but he wasn't crazy about leaving an entire city to die either. "Maybe. But... assuming I want to help, what would we do?"

They discussed plans on the way back to the checkpoint where a real plan began to form. No surprise - Marcus was tasked with jamming the system's sensors long enough for a technician to get in remotely and fix things. He suggested evacuating through some sort of sewer system but agreed the turrets should still be addressed.

"There's a, uh, place not too far from here. Walsburg or something like that... mutants don't seem to like it much and it seems to still have electricity. Actually," he hesitated, "'s pretty creepy... I spent the night there before I came here. Plenty of housing and supplies and no crazy motion-tracking guns."

So the plan was simple: Marcus gets into the city somehow, climbs up to the nearest turret, plants a pulse device near it, and waits for a flare. Red flare - plan failed, retreat, come up with another idea. Green flare - plan succeeded. He didn't get any flares himself because dead people can't fire flare guns. Seems legit.

I have two more chapters to post and I'll shoot to get them up tonight after work - then I want suggestions as to how to proceed with Marcus. I imagine the Bwogosphere is about as random as any generator I could find and definitely more creative, so don't be afraid to throw out some crazy ideas. We're well into the Crazy Zone already.

We live there, actually. It's our home.

With Brightest of (climactic build-up!) Greens,