Friday, March 31, 2017

Gods of the Fall - Session Prep - Dreaming Under a Cursed Moon

I really need to stop putting things off. I coulda, shoulda, done this prep a month ago before the original play date before we had to push things out. Instead I waited ...

So here I am trying to plan a road trip session quickly. I want to do something that stands alone. Not every session needs to service the larger story for the campaign. I also know that the Nightlands are the geography I have to work with. So, what can I do with that and how can I do it?

Sleep. It's the thing that I can be sure the PCs will do, and it's a thing that, in the Nightlands, can lead to adventure, because in sleep there is Nod, the realm of dreams and nightmares, where a group of would be gods may find themselves off footing and struggling to adapt.

Sounds like a great start. It's also a good idea because I have a maybe in my group and the player has purchased sleep dust. If he's absent he's sleeping without dream. If he's there, it's an easy early session GM Intrusion to have him forget to use it, or have been swindled with fake product...

So easy enough start, drag the characters into the dream world. Now comes the hard work. The dreamworld should be memorable. Description of the scenery will be key, as will the flora and fauna. Things should be recognizable but also strange, warped, and different. Sometimes pleasantly so, otherwise nightmarishly so. Of course setting the scene is only as good as the scene to be set, and that includes setting up the plot of the session/adventure. So why have they ended up in the dreamlands? Or maybe more pertinently, what of consequence will happen?

I think early on I want to confront the characters (not the players, focus on the characters), with nightmares that reflect their journey, both past and ahead.
  • Iztal to be confronted with what being a God of Shadow truly means, riding the knife's edge between light and darkness
  • Utar desires dominion of strength, will he build something that lasts?
  • Polodius seeks knowledge, lost secrets could save the world, or damn it
  • Demondamus delved too deeply what darkness did he bring back with him and what does it mean for his pantheon?
I'll also seek to introduce the King of Nod for RP purposes. He is a figure steeped in power and knowledge but also held to his own agendas. Does he help them, harm them, or act indifferently?

This will be a RP heavy session as I suspect the follow up may be combat heavy by comparison, but in my pocket I can introduce nightmares to press the characters to act in seeking a means to wake. Once again the secret lies in embracing their godhood. Should they assert themselves as new gods they will wake safely, if not they may not wake at all...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #113 - Review: Kamandi Challenge #2

Issue #2 Cover

Kamandi Challenge #3 is out today, so here are my thoughts on issue #2 from last month. Minimal spoilers.


Published By: DC Comics • 31 pages • $3.99 • full color

What's In It?

Warning: mild spoilers ahead! Or maybe picante spoilers. I'd suggest you read #1 if you plan to and then come back ... we'll wait ...


So the whole point of coming back for #2 is to see how February's creative team would fish Kamandi's butt from the fire. The nuclear fire, if the cliffhanger at the end of issue #1, was to be believed. The resolution of that cliffhanger takes a significant chunk of the story and ultimately drives the direction of this issue's cliffhanger.

About that though. While the resolution of the cliffhanger is well orchestrated and in keeping with what I know of the classic series it feels a bit like a dodge. Less a resolution of the cliffhanger and more an alteration of the cliffhanger's stakes. It works but part of me feels a little cheated. The fact that the prior author's plan (as explained in his letter at the end of the issue) is closer to what I expected (ish) only adds to that feeling.

Still, the dodge also throws off the hero's footing and pushes the action toward an Easter egg and interesting direction change for the series. Given the breadth of Kamandi's world and the limited nature of this series it's gratifying to see that they are apparently making efforts to explore the setting as much as possible. Again, it does feel a little like a dodge on previous issue's ... issues ... *ugh* sorry, but if I had to choose from a semi-forced means of seeing more of Earth A.D. or only seeing a small portion of it in greater detail I'd choose the former. If nothing comes of this series after its 12 issue run I want to see as much of the world as possible. If DC decides that this was successful enough to re-launch Kamandi as an unlimited series there will be more than enough time to explore specific parts of the world in greater detail there.

As for this issue as an RPG resource? There's plenty of new stuff introduced into this issue for a GM to pull into a game. From new (and old) enemies, to crazy artifacts, and post apocalyptic vistas, if you can't find some inspiration here for a game you probably aren't looking hard enough.

Rating: 90% - The art this issue is fantastic and the story is pretty fun, even if it feels a bit like a dodge. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Story Seed - Absolute Zero: Return

Image Source:

"Keady. Ee-Ell-Enn-Two-Four-Bee-Omega-One-Six-Epsilon. Over." The transmission was a bit rough, but the voice was unmistakable and the computer confirmed the command code before I even had to ask it to. I looked across the command center at Wan. "Wasn't Keady on Hecate station? How'd he survive that cluster?" I asked. It was a rhetorical question, of course, Wan hadn't left Absolute Zero in five years.

Wan just shrugged his shoulders and spoke into his headset. "Lakini, you are clear to approach docking port Two-Seven-Alpha. Welcome to Absolute Zero. Over." He flipped a switch, "Should have have security...?" he asked. I nodded and he toggled the interior security channel. "Security, this is command, send two officers to Two-Seven-Alpha." He paused, listening, then replied, "It's Keady." He cut the line and removed his headset, nodding to the junior comm officer.

I met him halfway around the room, "Hecate was obliterated wasn't it?" I'd read the reports but Wan had been one of those who had monitored system-wide communications.

"As far as I knew nobody got off Hecate alive. Of course this is Keady we're talking about so ..." Wan grinned even as I grimaced. Keady's reputation was legend, in that a lot of what people claimed he'd done was myth.

I pinched the bridge of my nose, feeling a migraine coming on, "Yeah. Keady." I sighed, "Come on, let's get down there and try to find out how the hell this is possible. On the way you can tell me everything you know about this ship, what was it again?"

"The Lakini, and we don't have much. It's a private for-hire ship. Registered out of Vesta. Last berthed at Phobos two weeks back. Didn't file a flight plan when it left." Wan paused, probably scanning through the wireless feed to his ocular display. "Captained by ... Nicholas Alexander. Eh, no other official crew registered, like I said, private ship."

"And this Captain Alexander?" I asked as we rode the left down.

"He's a moonie. Used to run ice for Terra-Form on Mars. Left there eight years back. Resurfaced five years ago on Vesta when he registered the Lakini. That's about all we got in the data-banks." Wan stopped in the hall, "Sir, there wasn't record from Hecate about the Lakini docking. Do you think they were there?"

I stopped a few paces ahead of him. "I don't know," I replied over my shoulder. "But I think we're in a position to find out, and maybe find out what really happened to Hecate." I turned fully toward him, "Wan, I'm worried. I think our little private corner of the sky is about to get a lot less quiet."