Ronin Jubai

Javier’s character (English is not his first language)ImageImage

I’m Jubei, I  could not say more, to my shame. In my past I was part of the Crab clan, because I was born in the Yasuki family, learning all about commerce and getting the best prices and finding out what the other party needs or desires the most, but once I picked up a wrong catch, one I regretted because he found himself offended during a little conversation where he said something that was not intentional and found himself betrayed so instead of shaming of himself, he just blamed me. For that reason I was cursed, not allowed to handle animals properly and that made me anxious to look for redemption, and that´s why I´m visiting all the major temples wherever I go, praying for a pardon… Hope I can but the one thing for sure I´ll never get back will be the one from my family, which one made me an outcast and now I´m a ronin.

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Lets talk about Stats, baby

Andy’s character, Abraham Strange has, as seems traditional in the world of RPGs, six mental and physical measures. Since the days of Dungeons and Dragons, six seems to be the magic number for representing the shape and fitness of a body, and the mental strength of a character. The names change as designers seek the “right” descriptors, but the number seldom varies.

Airship Pirates’ six stats (or Attributes as AP calls them) are: Strength; Dexterity (which both appear in D&D); Fortitude; Presence; Wits; and, Resolve. The last three represent the more ephemeral mental stats, and the first three the physicality of the character.

So how many stats does Fate have?

err….None

So, that’s easy then. Conversion job done. Lets go home.

Except it isn’t that easy is it? Because those stats have an effect on gameplay in Airship Pirates, and my players might have sacrificed other abilities to improve one stat or another and will want their Fate characters to have a similar advantage in game terms. In many cases in Airship Pirates, the attribute simply adds to the dice pool a number of dice equal the the attribute. The equivalent in Fate is the mechanic by which Aspects and Stunts add points to the dice roll.

Attributes in AP range from -3 to +9. These are broadly similar in value to the standard Fate ladder of adjectives and values, though I’d argue that, given the normal range of skills in Fate between 1 and 5, that halving the value of the AP stat would give you an approximation of the equivalent Fate bonus.

In Fate, many Stunts, and the invocation of an Aspect  give a +2 to the roll. I could spend some time (and use my new statistics package, R) to work out probabilities and and stuff, but I can’t be bothered, so I’m going to guess that an AP Attribute of 4 or higher should (or maybe only could?) be converted to a stunt or aspect in Fate, to replicate mechanical advantage that character had in Airship Pirates.

Now, lets look at Andy’s stats? Strength 2, Dex 3, Fortitude 2, Presence 1, Wits 2, Resolve 1. Hmm only Dex seems to come close to needing to define an aspect, In fact her may already have the right aspect for this sort of level. We defined “Rogue Skyfolk Gadgeteer” as a possible aspect in my last post, so arguably Andy might say when faced with a dexterity challenge, “Us Skyfolk are naturally dexterous chaps.  I’ll spend a fate point and add +2 to my roll” which I think I would allow.

But the impact on skill rolls is not the only mechanic involving attributes. In AP they also add to derive attributes, Movement, Health and Initiative. Movement in Fate is not that anal about distances, so if anyone wanted to be a fast mover, they’d make Athletics a reasonably high skill and/or maybe create a stunt. I’m not going to lose any sleep over that one.

Heath is trickier. Its directly based on Fortitude (=2). It’s made unnecessarily complex giving a total of health “dice” each with two “pips.” (I’m sure there was some brilliant idea behind that but its another thing I didn’t like about the system.) But the stat does effectively define how many hit-points you have. Fate’s damage system is very different, it’s more narrative in outcome, where damage deals consequences that range from Mild (black eye, winded, bruised hand) through moderate (deep cut, terrified) and Severe (compound fracture, gut-shot, trauma-induced phobia) to Extreme (one-legged). There are also a couple of Stress boxes that allow you to absorb a bit of damage without taking a consequence, but they are normally just two (soaking three hit points between them). There were a couple of skills in Fate core that allowed you to add stress-boxes, but I took them out of the list below. If somebody with a high AP Fortitude wants its equivalent in Fate, I think I’m more inclined to  give them a third stress box.

In Airship Pirates Initiative is derived from Dex+Wits+ Perception skill. Rolling initiative in that game was one of the mechanics I really didn’t like.  In Fate it’s simply who has the highest [perception] or Empathy skill (depending on the nature of the conflict). Actually initiative in the new Firefly RPG was one the mechanics I actually liked in what was, for me a disappointing game. In that game the GM choses who goes first, and when each player has had their action, they choose who goes next. Then the person who went last in the round, goes first in the nexct round. Simple, and more narrative than random, which, for Fate I like. So it strikes me that there could be a “Hairs on the back of the neck” stunt within either one of those skills, if the player considered a high initiative an important part of their character. Then they could spend a fate point to get to choose who goes first instead of the GM.

So that’s attributes, or stats, converted.

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Applying the Fate skills to an existing character

I’ve got one of my player’s character sheets with me. So lets he how my Fate skill list compares with the skills Andy chose for his character Abraham Strange.

In the Airship Pirates system, hand has points in 17 skills. We’ve played a couple of sessions of this, but the last was almost a year ago, so I can’t recall if we’ve applied any experience to these characters. There is some evidence that Andy has added a point or two to one or two scores, but that may have been in character creation. There is a phase of character creation where you get to add a few points as a crew to ensure that the characters work reasonably well together on an airship. I’m going to assume that he hasn’t added much to is skills through experience. After all, after only two sessions, it won’t have been very many points.

So a starting character in Fate gets to chose just ten skills: One at “great” (+4); two at “good” (+3); three at “fair” (+2); and, four average (+1).

Oh! This is handy, Andy seems to have a similar spread of skills in Airship Pirates: one at 5; two at 4; two at 3; three at 2; and … er … nine at 1. remember the skills in AP are more tightly focussed than those in Fate, so some of those AP skills will be rolled up inside fewer Fate skills (I hope).

His top skill in AP is Perception. That’s easy, Perception is also on my Fate list, so we’ll just make that his top “great” skill in Fate too. Then he has Pilot and Ad-Hoc repair at 4. Pilot is rolled up in my Wrath of FATE “Steersman” skill, so we’ll make him “good” at that. Drive skill in AP is also wrapped up  in Steersman in Fate, so I no-longer have to worry about finding an equivalent for Abraham Strange’s Drive score of 1.

What’s that I hear you say? I’ve just made him a “good” driver when in AP he’s only the equivalent of “average”? Aha! I’ve got you there. This is where a character’s Aspects come into play. We haven’t touched on them yet, but they are the core of the Fate mechanic. I won’t spend much time on them here, but lets say Abraham ends up with an aspect of “Rogue Skyfolk Gadgeteer” or similar. The Skyfolk word is important in here, explaining the character’s heritage in the floating cities of the AP world. Andy might use this aspect to get a bonus when attempting a difficult Airship manuever, but wouldn’t be able to use it in a car. And more importantly, as GM, I could invoke the aspect to give him a negative bonus when he’s trying to drive a car, because Skyfolk are less experienced with cars than Airships.

Now, I have to refer to my notes to recall which skill I wrapped Ad-Hoc repair up in. Aha! it was Craft, because I thought it was more about bodging than engineering. Craft is one of the skills that Andy has at 3 in AP, so it sort of fits that in Fate, Abraham Strange is good at Craft. But in AP, Craft has a number of specialisations. In Abraham’s case, his Craft skill is focussed on Clockwork for example, rather than being a tailor. I’m going to ignore that for a while, but we could handwave the specialisation with the word Gadgeteer in his aspect above, or we could give him a clockwork based “stunt” later on.

So, next highest skill on Andy’s AP character sheet is Firearms. The equivalent in Fate is Shoot, so lets make him Fair at that. The problem is, the other two skills that I’ll be putting in the remaining two Fair slots will have been one rank below Firearms in AP. Andy chose to make Abraham better at shooting than at Navigation, Engineering or Dodging. Hmmm perhaps he’d choose to put Shoot at Good instead of craft. If so, of course he can. It’s his character after all. But his he doesn’t want to do that, and still wants to differentiate between Shooting and the other two Fair skills, we’ll have to address that with an Aspect or a Stunt.

And there’s another issue. You will have noticed that I listed three skills as candidates for the other two Fair slots. One of them is going to have to get relegated to “average.” Which do I choose?

Lets try and avoid that decision right now by focusing on the average skills. in AP Abraham has nine skills at 1, but we’ve already got rid of at least one, Drive, now wrapped up in Steersman. And I’ve wrapped up Conceal in Hide and Sneak for Fate. Abraham has a point in each of those in AP, so lets make him Average in Hide and Sneak in Wrath of FATE.

Abraham has 1 in AP General Knowledge, 1 in Sky Lore and 2 in Navigation (all of which I’ve rolled up into Knowledge in Fate). So he deserved to be at least Average in Knowledge, with maybe a Navigation stunt of some sort, meaning I might have solved the dilemma of which skills to make Fair.

So lets return there for a moment. We could make him fair in Engineering easily enough. But there is no Dodge skill in Fate, its wrapped up in Athletics. Now Andy didn’t put any points in Athletics when he rolled up Abraham, but he seems quite keen on Dodging stuff, so I think he’d appreciate having Athletics at Fair or Average. Given the way he’s played he young man, I’m going to make it Fair, but he might choose to downgrade it.

Which leaves us with three level 1 AP skills and only two slots left. The Airship Pirates skills I’m finding homes for are: Etiquette; Improvised Weapon: and, Streetwise. The equivalent skills in Wrath of FATE are Charm; Fight; and Living Low. I’m going to make an executive decision here. His Streetwise in AP would have applied to Skylofts more than the NeoVictorian changecage cities, so we can recreate any benefit with his aspects. The last two slots go to Fight and Charm.

So his skill pyramid looks like this:

Great(+4) Perception
Good(+3) Steersman Craft
Fair(+2) Shoot Engineering Athletics
Average(+1) Hide & Sneak Knowledge Fight Charm

Categories: Characters, Fate conversion | 2 Comments

Wrath of FATE: Skills

The first thing I’ve been looking at for my conversion is skills. Airship Pirates has a large number of skills, split between common skills which everyone can have a go at, and specialist skills which you can’t attempt without at least one level of training. So for example, everyone can throw a punch, but it takes training to do martial arts (which earns you an extra point of damage).

Reviewing these skills for this, I’m struck by some of the decisions made. For example, anybody can ride a horse apparently, but only a specialist can attempt to calm an animal (animal handling). I think, it real life it’s more likely to be the other way around. I’m no farmer but I can look after chickens, control dogs etc. Riding on the other hand I think I’d take a lesson or two before I had a go.

The biggest issue in converting to Fate though, is the sheer number. One of the attractions of Fate is the simplicity of character creation and a process that tends towards well-rounded characters. And I didn’t want to mess with that. But Fate uses a pretty simple list of broad skills. That tends towards a swashbuckling game, and Airship Pirates should be swashbuckling! So I wanted a similar number.

As it turns out I think I’ve ended up with 18 skills which is exactly the same number! I’ve gone about it by treating some AP skills as their Fate equivalent, transferring a few over to Fate to replace some of the Fate ones, and grouping some skills into broader ones.

Some of the flavour of AP’s wider skill list can be recreated by Fate’s “stunts” mechanic. But more on that another time.

Here’s the basic list. No skill descriptions yet. Any questions or omissions you can think of?

Animal handling
Arts
Athletics
Bull
Charm
Craft
Empathy
Engineering
Fight
Hide and sneak
Insight
Knowledge
Living low
Perception
Performance
Shoot
Steersman
Survival

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Announcing: The Wrath of FATE – an Airship Pirates conversion

Watch this space.

I’ve decided to convert the Airship Pirates RPG to the Fate system. You can follow my progress on this blog.

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The Stoneybridge

So, we finally got around to rolling up Andy’s skyloft, or rather, the skyloft that his character, Abraham Strange, comes from. Andy said he envisioned a crazy place, full of eccentric inventors, from which Abraham had been banished for the accident with a still that had cost him his arm. so with that we turned to page 178 of Airship pilots and started rolling dice:

Shape, roll 2d6 = 5, donut. Given Andy’s vision we chose to ignore that roll, and select irregular instead, fitting his description better

Size, roll 1d6 = 2, small. OK, that we have to roll another d6 and multiply by one hundred, to get the population. A six! Population 600. So, small but very crowded. The sort of place you don’t want to be exploding stuff.

Floors, we roll a d6 = 4. A roll of 3-4 means one extra level, so it’s got two levels in total.

Mooring, 1d6  = 1, oh that’s interesting, it has no permanent mooring.

Primary trade, 1d6. But we don’t roll for this. Andy’s vision of inventors hanging out on the crazy little platform suggests the result we want (and so just choose) is 2 – Artisan Goods – buys salvaged technology and uses it in the construction of items for sale.

Secondary trade, 1d6. Again, we don’t roll. As they are small and mobile, and not farmers, we choose gathering and salvage. Sounds like the Steptoe will be right at home here.

Governance, 2d6. We pick up the dice again and get 3, an undemocratic Oligarchy/Plutarchy. Andy like this and says its due to the fact it is run by a council of guilds i.e. Engineering etc. If you don’t belong to a Guild you don’t get a say. Due to its small population the native population can belong to as many Guilds as they like as long as they pass the final exams. Outsiders would be looked down on as being countryfolk and not very clever although if they passed a guild exam then society’s doors would open to them. Despite their attitude to outsiders trade would always be welcome.

Taxation, 1d6 = 2 Very low, minimum docking and customs duties. No personal taxes.

Wealth, 1d6. Again we choose not to roll. Given the size of the city, the lack of fixed moorings and farmland, and the low taxation, we think the skyloft is getting by.

Facilities, 1d6. Choosing to roll this one, we get three. Adequate facilities. Feels appropriate to the the wealth level.

Docking Facilities, 1d6 (modified if Primary trade is Port, Mixed, or Piracy). We don’t get a modifier, and roll three again. Adequate – generally regular activity, with decent moorings and hangars.

Defences, 1d6. Again we don’t roll. Andy says the reason it has no permant mooring is due to the low taxation. No money for a Navy for defence. Instead it has a huge steam cannon gun emplacements on one of the peaks which out range any airship guns (think of the World War II movie Guns of Navarrone).

Law and order, 1d6. We leave this to the dice – three again! Basic code of law – applied fairly and policed minimally.

Customs and quirks, 2d6 = 11. Turns out bungee jumping is a city-wide obsession.

Population satisfaction, 2d6 = 8. People are generally apathetic with the way things are. Sounds like everybody is more interested in the own projects than civic society. Hmm I wonder how well those big guns of Andy’s are maintained. These guys could carelessly drift too close to an Imperial change cage city, and find themselves in hot water.

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Dividing the spoils

Frederick Kite was an old hand, a respected member of the crew and an able gunner. When the grey haired but lithe man approached Basil, he carried with him the weight of the crew’s concerns.

“You see, Master Basil, we was wondering when the captain was thinking of dividing the spoils?”

Basil glanced at Abraham, who said nothing but smiled knowingly.

“It ain’t like we’re paid a wage after all” continued the old sailor, “just kept fed and watered. Very well I might add, thank’ee. But a Captain I once had used to say ‘you do a job, you get paid’ and I heard we was paid mighty well for that salvage, an’ for getting the Govenor out of that spot of bother.” Abraham Strange grunted in the background, but Kite ignored him and continued.

“You was a Union man, it’s said, in the City, so you’ll understand about a fair distribution of wealth. There’s fifty of us crew, an’ each is askin’ for no more than one sixtieth of the booty. That leaves two each for you, the Doctor, and Mr Strange as Officers, and four shares for the Captain.”

“And what happens,” asked Basil, “if us ‘officers’ choose to split it just four ways?”

Abraham Strange strangled a laugh into a poor imitation of a cough.

Kite’s eyes widened, and his ruddy cheeks darkened. “Well Sir, it would be most irregular.” He considered a moment before saying “With all due respect, an’ I don’t mean this as any sort of threat, but like as not the crew would mutiny, leave you to the lions next time you jump ashore. Or at best, they’d jump ship here, find a better captain to sail under. They was a pretty scurvy lot when you took us on, but you’re turnin’ ’em into a decent common crew – be a shame to undo that and be lookin’ for a new crew while saddled with a tight reputation.”

So that took them all to Leonard Seventeenandahalf, an Auto-crat from Everglade who had escaped that steamy city with a romantic bug that envisioned him writing poetry, but saw him working now as one of the most honest Accountants on Isla Aether, and the only one Azzurro would trust with the ships accounts.

“Almost eighteen thousand Helios” drawled the Auto-crat, “You were well rewarded.”

“Its not just what we were paid” replied Basil “its what we got for the iron we salvaged, and an almost working Motor-Bicycle and Sidecar.”

The Auto-crat nodded. “None-the-less He17,920 will more than cover your expenses. Lets see, an invoice for 34 Helios of Helium – hmm thats some leak you had out there”

Abraham blushed.

“Coal for the trip cost you 36 Helios” Leonard continued “and you are spending 150 on stores for a month, totalling 240 helios for expenses. You have set aside 300 Helios to covert one of the cabins into a sick-bay, and 80 Helios  for … err … for a Gatling&Co Steam Powered Repeating Rifle.”

“I know where we can get one on High Tortuga” interjected Frederick.

Leonard ignored him “I recommend you also keep at least 100 Helios aside for petty cash, repairs, fuel … another leak, et cetera, which leaves you with He17,220”

Frederick grinned. “Divide that by 60 Cap’n, an’ thats 287 a man, Sir. An’ twice that – 574, for then gen’lemen an’ Basil,” the old hand touched his brim in the direction of the Bo’sun, “Leaving 1,148 for you, Cap’n Sir.”

Categories: Between sessions, Log of the Steptoe | Leave a comment

My Dearest Mary,

You might have heard some tittle-tattle concerning goings-on on Isla Aether, and so I write, first: to assure you that I am safe and well; and, to give you full report of our Adventures.

They are a rum lot, our officers, three quarters of them exiles from a Change Cage. The Captain Azzurro is an Automaton I can not say I trust, though he’s a big fellow and will keep order though fear if by no other means. Far more of our sort is the Boatswain, who is called Basil. Well, I say “of our sort”, but, he’s misbegotten, and its said has a breath so foul that even Young Billy Thunderhead would faint from a wiff of it. For our comfort he wears a mask that filters out the noxious fumes. Doctor Frank joined the crew shortly before we set sail, and I know him not enough to give you full report. He seems too much a gentleman for the scurvy crew he sails with.

They shall not read this letter, so it is safe for me to say, what the three of them know about sailing an airship, I could write upon a stamp. Were it not for the pilot we should like as not be sailing straight into the Methuselah Breeze by now. He’s a fine young fellow with one arm by the name of Abraham Strange. Skyfolk of course, he lost his arm when a still blew up, and seems to have learned his lesson. I’ll keep an eye on him though, to make sure he’s learned his lesson, and he don’t build a still on the Steptoe.

So Captain Azzurro and Basil come on board with a Map. Its the sort of map I have seen be the starving death of many a City-born gent that thinks piracy is a lark. But this were not such a fools errand, even though they had it from Governor Cumulo-Nimbus himself! For all that the map promised turned out to be true.

Indeed, it seems our Governor is a cannier man than he seems, or is well advised, for not only did he recognise a map of real worth among the all the scams, but neither did he trust us entirely. He commissioned a second crew to follow us and make sure we did not scarper with the booty.

Our Captain though did not know just why we were being followed, and feared that we were to be betrayed as soon as we uncovered the treasure. So he devised a conceit whereby he, Basil and Doctor Frank would jump-ship as we flew low over the ruins that the map led to. We, under the command of Abraham Strange were to sail on and lead our followers away from the prize. We remarked, on the deck, that the Neo-Vics had left all the Sky-born on the ship, maybe they did not trust us with the prize.

We beat away, long enough to see that the other ship was not following, but rather standing by to watch from a distance. Abraham concluded they already knew where the map led, and ordered us to turn about and follow a river back and through the town. It seems apart from the map, the officers had intelligence about something hidden aboard a boat somewhere along the river.

We found such a boat, and anchored above it to await the Captain. We saw as we waited giant Alligators as big as the ship, and scared them away with the Lightning Cannon.

Which was just as well, for the Cityfolk had had adventure enough already. Not long after they had jumped ship, they were beset by lions, and Basil barely escaped with his life. You should hear him tell the story of how he ran for the shelter of a ruined house, diving through a window with the lion snapping at his heels. He was lucky that the lion tried to jump through after him and got stuck halfway. According to Basil, he took his chance to set about the beast with a knife and killed it. But the doctor explained that he and the Captain did the deed, from behind, with guns.

By the time they joined us again, they had also discovered some valuable salvage – iron, and and a petrol engined cycle. Ten of us were sent down to sort and pack the salvage, and a further five joined the officers aboard the wreck if the river-boat. I was on the wreck detail, where we discovered large packing case, like unto a coffin. I got my trousers wet helping to lift it out of the water and into the deck, where we cracked it open to reveal a large, inactive automaton.

This discovery excited the officers, who had been charged by the governor to seek out the design blueprints for just such a creation. While I and my fellows had been in the bilges of the wreck, Basil had found in the wheelhouse those plans, but to take the Governor a fully built and working example would surely earn an even greater reward than had originally been negotiated.

The only problem was, we could not find any way to get it actually working. It did not appear to operate in the same way as modern automata like Captain Azzurro. So, it was up to us crew to hoist the heavy load up to the Steptoe above.

We left the metal beast for Mr Strange to examine, while we went to recover the Motor Bicycle that the officers had earlier discovered. What they had not discovered earlier was that the building where it was hidden was also the nest of a Terror Bird! But fear not my love, set on guard by Lions and Giant Alligators, we were well disposed to make short work of the poor creature.

By the time we had the Motor Bicycle back on board, Abraham Strange had managed to get some part of the automaton, about the size of a dollar, somehow fixed to the back of his hand. The golem was moving, but, not with the independent thought that a true Automaton exhibits. It was a dumb slave, which cared only for the protection of Mr Strange, its new master. It was well equipped for its task as one arm had been replaced by an efficient looking electrically powered revolving repeater rifle cannon. It had a tendency to point the weapon on the face of any who approached Abraham, until he worked out that its could be controlled by simple clear thoughts. Mr Strange pointed to each of the trusted crew and thought “friend” and the golem no longer a threat.

We were ready to weigh anchor, when I spotted a troubling sight: on the horizon, but headed toward us, an Imperial Frigate.

My Dearest, I promised you I would not seek papers aboard a Pirate Ship, and I did not. Captain Azzurro is an honest scrap metal and bric-a-brac dealer. Did I tell you he was once an upstanding Peeler in a Change Cage city? But out over the plains, His Majesty the Emperor regards all who do not live under his rule and travel about the place as Pirates, and My Dear, I fear that the Captain of that Frigate assumed that we were just such.

Captain Azzurro wasted no time. We thought ourselves trapped between the Frigate and the ship that had followed us from Isla Aether. But he instructed us to take our leave of the place and head towards our mysterious shadow, and away from the Imperial Navy.

Of course we could not outrun such a ship as an Imperial Frigate, but Basil had us stretching out every inch of canvas, and the stokers shovelling more coal into the steam engine. Abraham Strange proved himself a worthy pilot, even though the ship was heavy with cargo. We had the wind behind us, and even I could not quite gauge our speed over the ground, but it appeared that the Frigate was getting smaller, that we were getting away. I took a look through my trusty brass telescope, and though I can not be sure, I have surmised that the Frigate was damaged from some previous skirmish and was thus slower somewhat than it might have been.

As we approached the Brig that had followed us out here, Basil worked the Heliograph to signal a question “A mutual enemy?”. I read the flashes as they replied “Here for your safe return.” It was The End of All Hope, captained, as you will know, by Lillian Ash.

We sailed in consort back to Isla Aether, and here our troubles began.

The End of All Hope bade farewell as we approached the skyloft. We after all were permitted, nay expected, to dock at the Governor’s private berth. Lily Ash took her ship to the the dockyards on Hannigan’s Disc. Us crew of course would be there too to spend our honestly gotten bounty, but first we had to get paid.

The officers went ashore, leaving me in charge of unloading the Governor’s share of our Salvage. Not included in this share was the golem, which Abraham now called a Robaut, which means slave-automaton. Strange has commanded the beast to wait on board, hidden from the eyes of our patrons.

That was not all that was hidden however, for I was called on deck by a hand who pointed out the scene in front of the palace. Our leaders were surrounded by guards – not the the Governor’s but some foreign thugs from another skyloft. A detachment of the same soldiers was heading our way. I began to order the crew to cast off – with no real plan in my head. I reckon I had thought we might seek out Lilian Ash but to help us do what? I did not need to think beyond that, for I saw above, behind and below, Aetherian Navy ships standing off, broadsides facing us. We were trapped. I ordered our colours be struck, to save futile bloodshed.

Caroline Cirro-Stratus had organised a coup while we were treasure hunting. She had plotted with the Captains of the Navy, who had mutinied as one man – claiming the Navy had long been starved of funds by a profligate Governor. The Governor’s own guards had been overpowered by the mercenaries, and once they calculated Vladimir’s chances they had thrown in their lot with Cirro-Stratus.

Caroline herself appeared had the officer marched off to a makeshift gaol in the old Governor’s Pleasure House. We crew were lined up for administration, and told we would be facing charges of Piracy, Fraud, and Corrupt Practices. It was a hot day, and we were lined up by the Pleasure Palace with our hands on our heads and my old knees were beginning to ache. But scarcely an hour later there were not one, but two disturbances. There were shots by the Steptoe, just one or two at first, and then the fearsome metallic growl of the Robaut’s repeating rifle. The golem had grown bored of waiting it seems, and had come to find its master. Meanwhile, there were shots in the Pleasure Palace – the officers were attempting a breakout!

Unarmed, and with bullets flying from the mercenary thugs and the Robaut’s fearsome cannon, we kept our heads down. The poor creature was greatly outnumbered of course, and though it harvested a good proportion of the mercenary force, it eventually fell, shot to pieces and never again seeing its Master. We did though, Abraham, Basil, Doctor Frank and Captain Azzurro came out of the Pleasure Palace with a gun at the neck of Caroline Cirro-Sratus. The Governor’s guards raised a cheer and switched sides again, and we took the opportunity to pick weapons from the fallen and point them at the remaining mercenaries, who promptly surrendered.

So now, Caroline Cirro-Stratus languishes in gaol, Vladimir has been publicly confirmed as Governor by the Council of Oligarchs we have been richly rewarded. Or, at least Captain Azzurro has – the rest of us have yet to see our share. I must stop writing and go raise that very subject with Basil.

With all my love, forever yours,

Frederick

Categories: Log of the Steptoe, Play | Leave a comment

Our first game

So, we played our first game. We were joined by Tony, Dave’s brother and one of my RPG mentors when I started out at school. He played Frank Victorstein, a Doctor. After distribution pirate and schtick skills, I rolled out the pre-published adventure Forgotten Empires, as the nature of the salvage mission seemed to fit very well with the players’ Rag and Bone Men schtick.

My only concern was the length of the adventure. We don’t get to game that often, and normally attempt to finish each adventure in just one session (roughly five or six hours). There’s so much going on in Forgotten Empires and I feared I might have to split it between two, but its a well written scenario, with lots of potential cliffhangers, so I thought I could find a good midpoint to stop on depending on how the players did.

As it turns out, there was no need, the players’ slightly suspicious nature meant they missed out one early encounter pretty much entirely, and then, towards the end, the players made some decisions that allowed me to be kind to them, and bring the story to a quicker conclusion.

The rules work pretty well. The task resolution mechanic (dice pool, 1s and 6s are successes, 6s explode) turns out to be more intuitive than I thought. I did get the initiative rolls wrong though. I’d convinced myself before the game that initiative was the one case where the total score of the dice counted, not the 1 and 6 successes. But that lead to a lot of mental arithmetic totalling the large dice pools rolled, and slowed the game a tad when it should be at its most exciting. Referring back to the rules after the game, and taking time to read the example, I realise that I should be counting successes, just like any roll.

Categories: Characters, Play, The Game | Leave a comment

Azzurro Patruzech-si-Noah

Jamie wants to play a corrupt Automaton Peeler. So let’s look at generating his character. Automata have culture modifiers to their stats based on their background. So a Peeler starts off with Strength 3; Presence 1; Dexterity 0; Wits 1; Fortitude 1; and , Resolve 0.

Jamie then gets three points to add to his stats. No more than two to any one. Because of a talent he wants (see below) he need to add at least one to Dex. He can also, if he chooses remove one point from any two stats, and add those points to one or two other stats (but the Automaton Peeler background has already sort of done this). So he has two points left to allocate, and then he need to calculate his derived stats (Initiative etc).

Then he has thirty points to distribute among his skills. Twenty must be spent on his backgrounds skills. Peelers only have five background skills. And as no more than four points can be allocated to each skill in generation, it simply means all peelers get four in all their background skills: Blunt weapon; Firearms; Intimidate; Interrogation; and, Tracking.

Then he gets ten points to spend on other skills or talents. If he wants more he can take one or two complications. Jamie said we wanted to play a Peeler who was corrupt, so I’ve suggested he take Personality Flaw, and suggested a new trait that might be specific to Peelers: “Bent Regulator”. I rather like the idea that it’s a mechanical bug that turns an Automaton into a corrupt cop. That first complication will give him five extra points to allocate. (Automata have another complication: mechanical, but that doesn’t affect the standard character point allocation)

He also gets two free talents. All automata get Mere Flesh Wounds, Peelers also get Night Vision. On top of those he has chosen to spend six points on Combat Sense and Deadly Shot. That leaves him with nine points to spend on skills.

Jamie has also though about his relationship with other characters: “Dave and I discussed us already being friends in-game though a history of him being an old source of mine when I was with the Imperial Constabulary. Following his ‘dismissal’ and my being kicked off the force through being corrupt, we stuck together. My code means that I like to seek out ‘things’ and once found like to keep half of what I find; being a scavenger suits me. And as you suggest, when there is something in it for me, bribes are always listened to!”

 I’m also going to suggest that Azzurro Patruzech-si-Noah might have a special bond with Abraham Strange. A Peeler found to be corrupt would surely be dismantled. Perhaps our gadgeteer found the parts in a junkyard and rebuilt him…
Categories: Characters, Generation | Leave a comment

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