Great Cities campaign part 04 – One night in Alhambra

Little players knew that Bucyrus had plans for their little troupe. See, it’d take long time to recall all those awesome moments that happened when nothing really was happening – the tension between party members, the struggle of players to understand their own characters, spontaneous channeling of their Aspects…

So much things happened during those five or six sessions.

Bucyrus might be accused of many things, but there’s one field where he shines: reading people. From observation it was clear that the party was imbalanced, at least from the perspective of its members. See, there were three very sure, very capable, very resourceful girls and only one guy – Max, who strayed from his initial “crusader” path to “conspiracy theorist”, what made him a bit unreliable and kind of obsolete.

So, Bucyrus asked a friend to join his group at least for a single session and help him to create a positive equilibrium. His idea of a player character? Guy Pearce’s character in Prometheus movie. Great movie by the way.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

His version of Weyland was much younger than the one featured in the movie. We’re talking about someone resembling Elon Musk, in his pre-Tesla, oh so famous period, still struggling to commit some great invention and make a name for himself (is that a correct expression? When one attempts to become famous and rich…?).

So, Weyland was a hard working, “settle for nothing short of success” kind of guy. Both charming and ruthless when it was required, he was supposed to play the role of “black sheep”, “strange bedfellow” who – through his actions – forces the party into strengthening their ties.

His reasons to be there? Scientific conference organized in the middle of Gibraltar. His purpose in joining the crew? Unspecified. Lion was his friend and Weyland “owed” something to him. There was also a promise of getting some information relevant to Weyland’s interests – enough to risk a short stray from his path of glory…

Continue reading “Great Cities campaign part 04 – One night in Alhambra”

Great Cities campaign part 04 – One night in Alhambra

Great Cities campaign part 03 – To Morocco and back



After a few simple but puzzling encounters on the way players arrive at Fes and start to look for mysterious “Bab Mahrouk” guy, but they somehow always end emptyhanded. Rather than waste precious time chasing shadows, they spend some time researching the topic. They learn that “Bab” is no guy but a place, more precisely one of old city’s gate. Even more precisely the gate that was consumed by flames, hence the name “burned gate”.

More importantly, the gate isn’t as important as the grave players were told about. After being exiled from Alhambra, his castle in Spain, Muhammad XII also known as “Boabdil” moved with his family to Morocco and died there in poverty, abandoned and forgotten by all.

Click to visit Wikipedia's entry
Click to visit Wikipedia’s entry

He was supposed to be buried in an unmarked grave somewhere near Fesian “Bab Mahrouk”.

All pieces of puzzle match together and finally players know what they are looking for…

Continue reading “Great Cities campaign part 03 – To Morocco and back”

Great Cities campaign part 03 – To Morocco and back

Play by Mail – quick and dirty

Playing by Mail (PbM for short) is yet another way to enjoy collaborative storytelling what, while being entirely different, separate activity, shares a lot with role playing games.

Dear diary. Today Mr. Wilde told me about his time in prison. I didn't get the
Dear diary. Today Mr. Wilde told me about his time in prison. I didn’t get the “selling shivs to dem bastards” part.

This may come as a little surprising, but to this day, there’s no defined, default way to play by mail. RPGs are pretty much defined. Even if there are many different alternatives, the typical picture of one guy explaining the story to the rest of players, dice, pencils, charactersheets is the first thing that comes to mind when people discuss the hobby.

So, let’s see how it is done in the group Bucyrus is proud to be part of…

Continue reading “Play by Mail – quick and dirty”

Play by Mail – quick and dirty

Yango the Tiger, or the horror of baneful escort missions

Warning. some sweet, pokemon like things in this article. Proceed at your own risk!

It’s no mystery that escort missions are the scourge of fun, no matter if they happen in video or role playing games.

There’s probably not many things that are more worse than escort missions featuring clueless, clumsy NPC that seems to attract every possible danger there is.

…and there’s probably nothing worst than all of above when the escorted NPC happens to be a kid.

The horror... The horror...
The horror… The horror…

We could theorize about “what”s and “why”s – for example, Bucyrus’ friend, Tamar said she suspects it’s in the nature of males (especially young ones) to treat children with suspicion and reserve, since they remind that it is expected of male to become a father one day. Still, such discussions, missing hard numbers and serious research lead to nowhere. Let’s instead assume that escort mission + clumsy kids = funbreaker.

How to fix that?

Continue reading “Yango the Tiger, or the horror of baneful escort missions”

Yango the Tiger, or the horror of baneful escort missions

Old School Hack – Hack’em! With style!

It’s no mystery that Bucyrus loves Old School Hack.

It’s short, simple and easy to learn. It’s very open to tweaking. Unlike many others “oh it’s TOTALLY NOT D&D scrapped of some elements I didn’t like” it doesn’t try to distance itself from its roots. Far from it. It embraces the ideas of D&D and adds some new and unique solutions.

It has so many purposes.

While still being a D&D VERY LITE, it manages to deliver this specific feeling of its great-great-great ancestor. It’s an awesome way to introduce people to the rpg. It’s great when you want to quickly set up and run a session.

The only problem? It features no setting, no world whatsoever, which makes it a problematic choice for total newcomers. Aside of that? If you’re asking Bucyrus, it’s the king of small OSR-like games.


BTW, Old School Hack isn’t just one of those games only some weirdos in thick glasses talk about. It’s quite popular – it even managed to spawn a few hacks of its own, like SHADOW HACK, which is Old School Hack meets Shadowrun (Fantasy + Cyberpunk mashup). Very nice game too.

Old School Hack – Hack’em! With style!

STAGES: Let’s talk magic

The default world for STAGS suffered heavy damage due to mysterious “Event”. Think apocalypse Biblical style. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and such.

That was in the past. Unfortunately, what’s in the past is also the majority of knowledge, including that of magic. Nowadays, sorcery is but a shadow of what it once was and sorcerers are part sages, part conjurers of cheap tricks seeking and thriving on scraps of old wisdom.

Back, ummm... back off vile thing or I'm gonna...  ummm... ehehehe...
Back, ummm… back off, vile thing or I’m gonna… ummm… ehehehe…

In the past, STAGES featured limited list of spells split between classes. Currently Bucyrus is torn between continuing with it, or replacing it with class-relevant “icons”.

The idea is simple. You have a few slots, like:

  • WHAT (the effect)
  • ACTION (what will be done with it)
  • WHERE (who or what is the recipient of magical doing)
  • VARIATION (go wild)

Each class gets different spell icons. For example, typical Mage would get WHAT: Force (“invisible hand”), ACTION:Push and Pull, WHERE:Me(the Mage himself, obviously) and This(something or someone he might point at).

He could create for example “Jump” spell from it, meaning FORCE+PUSH+ME, which would result in him being thrown over a small chasm, or being elevated to the window one floor above. Were he to mix FORCE+PUSH+THIS and point at his enemy, it would result with “Invisible Punch” dealing some damage (since the guy wouldn’t be expected the “push”). FORCE+PULL+THIS would be something along the lines of telekinesis – selected item would fly towards Mage’s hand.

Bard would get WHAT:Emotions, ACTION: Banish and Invoke, WHERE: Us and Them.

Let’s try FEAR+INVOKE+THEM. At voila “Induce Fear” in hearts of our enemies. Or FEAR+BANISH+US. Bye bye to being scared.

And so on and so forth.

The system seems simple and entertaining, but it’s also very vague and it might be easily overused. Still, it’s so interesting.

Choices, choices…

STAGES: Let’s talk magic

Abandon all hope…. But play anyway.

Let’s say that you’re one of those cruel, vicious Game Masters who thought that it would be great to combine this…

Event Horizon
Event Horizon

…with this…

Riddick: Escape from Butcher's Bay
Riddick: Escape from Butcher’s Bay

WARNING! If for some reason you know neither of above things…

Naaah, it’s impossible. How silly of Bucyrus to even think about that, ahahahaa. Sorry.

Anyway. If you thought it’d be cool to combine those two realities, then look no further, there’s already a good game for that. It’s well written, featuring acceptable and simple ruleset and it’s called…

Abandon All Hope
Abandon All Hope

Quick intro: in Abandon All Hope you’re playing as criminals kicked out of future-Utopian reality of Earth. You and thousands of other prisoners were all locked in an enormous space ship called “Gehenna”. It’s trying to reach some distant world, that might harbor you and allow you to start a new colony, or something.

The mission isn’t important anymore, since “Gehenna” traversed not only space, but also boundaries of reality and it resulted in her being boarded by legions of demons coming straight from Hell.

While being limited in territory and possibilities, AAH gives you many interesting plot hooks, and story seeds. There are gangs, small societies, secret treasuries, urban legends. Soon you’ll learn that numerous levels of “Gehenna” are one giant mega-dungeon filled with plenty of shiny things to toy with.

Try to survive. Good luck!

Very strong recommendation!

Abandon all hope…. But play anyway.