Thursday, December 30, 2010

Session 3 summary

The third session and part two of the mission the group started the previous time. I was a bit surprised about the rate of progression for the story thus far, as I originally intended it as a one shot adventure to introduce all the players to the Fallout universe, but it ended up taking up three sessions already. This session covered most of the middle part of the cattle drive and lacks a proper beginning and ending. Also Craig's player couldn't make it this week, so we were down to two players. They managed to avoid most of the hazards along the way thanks to some clever thinking (and good rolls), so all in all the second leg of the journey was rather uneventful, as befitting the life of the caravaneer, even all the Brahmin made it through this one alive ;)  Note: the menacing Necropolis suddenly gets a lot less ominous when you start debating the intricacies of the ghoulish condition and their reproduction. Right now the party is split between capturing Ghouls to perform experiments on them and just plain shooting them. Ghouls beware!


- Dexx: Experienced thief and pickpocket, schooled by life on the streets of the Boneyard. Self-professed hater of Ghouls and honest/less lucrative work;
- Rhiannon: Vault 21 outcast, looking for her place in the outside world and studying its strange new sights and inhabitants with remarkable curiosity;

After their encounter with a swarm of giant mantises, the party hurriedly continued their course south east, having lost one bull to the creatures and another one seriously injured. Fortunately the mutant insects didn't put in a new appearance. Progress slowed, the wounded Brahmin lagging behind and eventually sagging down at the side of the road, stalling the group even more and wasting precious hours of daylight. A tad disheartened they made camp that night, enjoying a fine steak dinner, though Jacob seemed to begrudge every bite of it. Having lost too much time the previous day, the group decided to set out as early as possible the next morning. An unpleasant surprise waited for them however, as right before they set out Craig announced he would temporarily take his leave from them, after having been visited by an apparition during the night, to wander out into the desert alone on his vision quest. This didn’t sit well with the others who tried to persuade him to stay, but the Super Mutant obstinately refused and promised to meet up with them again before nightfall. One man down, the group started on the road again for a long day’s travel. Shortly afternoon they passed by Rockvale, the last settlement worthy of the name before they would emerge on the other side of the desert again. From here on out the vast open and emptiness of the Mojave stretched out before them, the road withering to little more than a trail.

  As taking the most direct route to the Longhorn ranch would take them past Necropolis, the party decided to stop early, before dusk settled, still miles away from the city. None of them very much fancied the idea of passing the Ghoul infested ruins by night, and they were rewarded for their caution, making it through the night without suffering an attack from any roaming Ghouls. Rising early again the next day, the caravan continued further south east, keeping Necropolis well to their right, with the city looking ever so gloomy even in the full light of day. To their surprise their scout Pyal returned to the main group after some time, signalling two men heading in their direction, apparently coming from Necropolis. Dexx and Pyal decided to meet them head on, away from the others, if necessary ready to deal with them at the first sign of trouble. The figures turned out to be two Ghouls, one palish white and reasonably intact, the other in rather bad condition, with most of his face and skin rotten away or mortified. The sight of these creatures quite unnerved the tribesman Pyal, but Dexx already had some unpleasant experiences with them. Clearly his past encounters had left him with little love for Ghouls, as he warned the two travellers to keep going and no one would have any trouble. The Ghouls took the hint and went on their way, cursing these bigoted smoothskins under their breath.

  The rest of the day’s journey went by without the group spotting another living soul, or anything else of interest apart from a few rocks and shrivelled shrubberies. To make up for lost time the party decided to press on during the night. Luckily Jacob had had the good foresight to bring some torches, as our heroes were entirely without means of illumination, save Rhiannon’s lighter. The caravan continued in this fashion for a few hours, with Dexx and Jacob arguing if it even made sense to keep going if they weren’t sure they were still heading in the right direction, until Rhiannon absentmindedly remembered she could tell their bearing by observing the stars. Down to their last torch, they went on, not aware of the dangerous nightlife lurking about. Soon enough two giant radscorpions assailed them, looking for easy prey. But they didn’t manage to catch the group off guard; while Rhiannon lighted the last torch and proceeded to attack one of the radscorpions with it, Pyal and Dexx made short work of the other one. Apart from a few frightened Brahmin, the group emerged unscathed from the ambush. Jacob remarked the stingers of the radscorpions can be used to brew an antidote for their potent venom, so Rhiannon wisely decided to cut them off and take them with them. Shortly thereafter they made camp, deciding who’d get a few hours of rest and who’d have to stand guard with the throw of a die, with Jacob and Pyal being the unlucky two appointed by fate. Tired but fit enough, the group set out again at first sign of dawn.

Not too long after they met with another lone traveller and his companions heading in the opposite direction, a travelling salesman by the name of Stan, his dog Louie and a rather worse for wear looking Mr. Gutsy unit. The threesome had been ambushed not too far south by a gang of raiders calling themselves the Rattlesnakes, who as of late had become much more aggressive and reckless. With her vast experience Rhiannon easily managed to fix the robot’s damaged combat inhibitor, happy for this memento to her old life. The travellers gratefully departed and the caravan set on, all the while without their enigmatic Super Mutant friend Craig, who was still nowhere to be seen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Edges galore


After some feedback from the lovely folks at the PEGInc forum, I changed around some of the Edges again: current status:

- Swift Learner: toned down quite a bit: now requires a benny to make a Smarts check at -2 and is a background Edge

- Swift Learner* (Sm d6): May spend a benny after the end of a session to make a Smarts check at -2. If successful, gain 1 point of experience. Once per session

- Educated: renamed Gifted: +4 starting skill points but only for Smarts skills; can afterwards learn a new untrained Smarts skill at half cost, so can upgrade an existing skill + learn the new one, or learn two new Smarts skills.

- Gifted* (Sm d8): +4 skill points to spend on Smarts based skills; may learn an untrained Smarts based skill on gaining a new level at half cost

- Gunslinger: very much altered. Now requires Marksman a prerequisite and only gives a bonus when shooting with a single one-handed gun (so basically pistols and sub-machine guns), to give it a bit more "wild west" feel and make it more attractive for players to use a one-handed gun instead of two guns or a rifle/shotgun/etc.

- Gunslinger (Ag d10, Small Guns d10, Marksman): +2 to Called Shots with a single one-handed gun

- Finesse: is now Heroic rank

Will probably change the Mysterious Stranger Edge soon as well, but needs some more thought on the chances of him appearing.


- Commando
- Concentrated Fire

Some new Edges I forgot to post:

- Hit the Deck: +2 to Agility checks to dodge explosions or enemy fire
- Jury Rig (Sm d6, Repair d8): No penalty for making repairs without having spare parts
- Quick Reload (Ag d10, Small Guns or Heavy Weapons d10): May make an Agility check to reload a weapon that normally takes 1 action to reload as a free action
- Run ‘n Gun (Ag d10, Small Guns or Heavy Weapons d10): No penalty for moving in the same round as firing a Snapfire weapon


Made modifications to following Edges:

- Robotics Expert
- Cult of Personality
- Snake Eater

Added new Edges:

- Swift Learner (Sm d6): +1 point of experience per session
- Intense Training: May raise an Attribute again if already raised in the same rank. Once per rank
- Educated* (Sm d6): +3 starting skill points; may learn 2 untrained skills on gaining a new level
- Smooth Talker (Persuasion d6): +2 to Persuasion

- Computer Whiz (Science d8): +2 to Science checks pertaining to hacking or using computers
- Concentrated Fire (Ag d8, Small Guns or Heavy Weapons d8): +2 damage when taking an Aim maneuver
- Explorer (Survival d8): Higher chance of finding special places and people in random encounters
- Pack Rat (Strong Back): Carry an additional 35 lbs

- Gunslinger (Ag d10, Small Guns d10): +2 to Called Shots with Small Guns
- Commando (Ag d10, Heavy Weapons d10): +2 to Called Shots with Heavy Weapons
- Finesse (Ag d10, Fighting, Small Guns or Heavy Weapons d10): A result of 2 above the target number for an attack is considered a critical hit

- Mysterious Stranger (Ch 2): Chance you will gain a temporary ally in random encounters

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fallout: the Core Region

The campaign takes places in what's called the core region of the Fallout universe. This roughly corresponds to the US state of California, the southern extremity of Oregon and a swath of western Nevada. This is where the first two games take place. Fallout 3 took the franchise on a detour to the east coast with Washington DC, Pennsylvania and Maryland. I guess opinions on this change of locale vary, I personally enjoyed it reasonably, but fact is that the core region will always be true setting for the old school Fallout fan. Obsidian must have realized this as well, since their latest venture builds on the core region by further exploring the Nevada region in Fallout: New Vegas.

My intention for this campaign was to have a huge open sandbox world where the players can decide freely where they want to travel next. That doesn't necesarily mean that it's entirely without dangers. By having the players start in the relative safety of New California Republic controlled territory, they can get a feeling for the setting while encountering some less powerful adversaries and exploring oft-frequented locations. With these sort of sandbox campaigns GM's are usually divided in two camps: either keep the players safe and railroad them out of danger, or let them truly be free to explore at their leisure, even if that means they blatantly ignore your warnings about how dangerous their preposed trek might be. As you might have guessed I'm more inclined to the latter. If the group adamantly insists of heading for the coast, despite that they know Super Mutant raiding parties roam there and they're only novice rank, that should be their prerogative, anything else just ends up taking freedom and choice away from them. I guess this goes hand in hand with the notion of player death as a real possibility. The wasteland is a dangerous place after all, and there's a good reason not everyone goes scavenging old army depots or looting ruined cities. Sometimes the way back is the only way forward.

The game takes place in the year 2245, three years after the end of Fallout 2. Some of the story has now been "formally disproven" so to say by the added timeline in Fallout: New Vegas as most of this was written before that installment came out. The map was made with the free version of hexographer, this is the version the players would get to see, without the locations of military bases, depots etc as established in the games, which the general population would be ignorant of. While I only added canon places, the map does also include former San Diego as SD, which is entirely non-canon.

The Wasteland: 2245
Most of southern California is now part of the New California Republic (NCR). Founded some 80-odd years ago in the small farming community of Shady Sands, the NCR is now the major power to be reckoned with in the Wasteland. It encompasses as larger settlements the town of Shady Sands (now often dubbed NCR Capital or simply NCR), The Hub, Junktown, Boneyard, Maxson and Dayglow. The NCR has a strong police force and standing army, including motorized cavalry divisions and the Rangers Special Forces. NCR enforces strict laws, prohibiting slavery, gambling, prostitution and drugs, though they tend to get more relaxed as one travels farther from the larger settlements. There is no official policy towards mutants, but Ghouls tend to be treated as second rate citizens. Only in the military is more equality for Ghouls and even Super Mutants to be found. The mainstay of the NCR economy is its Brahmin ranches (Brahmin are the only stock of cattle to have survived the fallout, albeit in mutated form). The powerful Stockmen's Association and the merchant groups from The Hub hold considerable sway in decision making circles, a select group of wealthy families possessing multiple Congress seats and holding the position of governor in some member states. Under the presidency of Tandi, who was elected unanimously for the last 80 years, the NCR pursued an agenda of peaceful expansion and improving living conditions for its citizens. After Tandi's death at the age of 102, the NCR is currently in the second year of president Westin's term. The NCR is aiming to expand its borders north- and eastwards, at the moment attempting to do so by peaceful talks and brokering trade agreements rather than military threat. The more important towns in the NCR are:

 - NCR: started as a small farming village by a group of settlers out of Vault 15, it is now the most populous city in the Wasteland, boasting an impressive post-war Congress building, running water, electricity and a sewerage system. It is the major agricultural center in the area, providing many of the outlying towns with food.

- The Hub: started after the war around a small oasis in the desert, The Hub is now the commercial heart of the NCR and of the entire Wasteland by extension. A city council made up of 2 representatives from the three major merchant groups (the Water Merchants, the Crimson Caravan and the Far Go Traders) run the town along with the NCR governor. From The Hub many (water) caravans and Brahmin drives set out to NCR towns, to New Vegas in the east or New Reno and Vault City in the north.

 - Junktown: a small, orderly town, Junktown's main importance lies in being a stopping point for caravans moving between NCR and The Hub.

- Boneyard: The Boneyard, or Angels' Boneyard, boasts the massive ruins of old Los Angeles. The downtown area is mostly deserted, being a roaming ground for feral ghouls and street gangs. Refugees eventually founded a thriving community in the suburb of New Adytum. The Boneyard's relative prosperity comes from the guns and ammunition factory it managed to get back in working order.

- Dayglow: north-west of The Glow, a radioactive hotspot one can see glow for miles around during the night, a small settlement of Ghouls and humans sprung up. It is the southernmost town in the NCR. Its main source of income is scavenging expeditions, mostly made up of Ghouls, that try to recover pre-war technology from the ruins rumoured to be underneath The Glow.

- Maxson: Maxson started off as a community of refugees who took shelter near the Brotherhood of Steel bunker at Lost Hills. Thanks to the safety afforded by the Brotherhood presence, Maxson eventually grew into a larger farming community, donating a share of their produce to the Brotherhood in return for their protection. The town was named Maxson in honour of Roger Maxson, the first High Elder of the Brotherhood. While Maxson is a member of the NCR, the Brotherhood is not, and their sometimes conflicting policies are a source of friction between the NCR governor of Maxson and the current Brotherhood High Elder.

- Necropolis: the former town of Bakersfield is now little more than irradiated ruins. A small community of Ghouls still lives in the underground, keeping the aging generators and water pumps alive. The ruins themselves however, are infested by ferals.

Outside of NCR territories:

- San Francisco: spared most of the ravages of war, San Francisco provides the surrounding area with fish. San Francisco has a delicate balance of power, as two larger and one minor faction control different parts of town. So far this competition has not taken a violent turn, but the air in San Fran is rife with the suspicion these groups hold for each other. The least consequential are the tanker vagrants, an amalgam of artists, scabs, ex-military personnel who mostly keep to themselves and seem to simply seek a peaceful existence without outside control or interference. A more powerful player are the Hubologists whose main seat is located in San Francisco. A zealously proselytizing religious group/sect, the Hubologists are actively researching space technology in hopes of rejoining with their extraterrestrial brethren. The last and most industrious faction are a Chinese ethnic group called the Shi, descendants of Chinese mariners aboard a nuclear submarine when the Great War broke out. Ruled by their enigmatic Emperor, the Shi control a high tech arms racket, seemingly have access to more advanced technology than any other player on the market, excluding the army and militaristic organizations such as the Brotherhood. They are perhaps the single most important faction in terms of research, making promising advances in bio-engineering, development of new weapons and combat armor, space and commercially viable flight, and are even rumoured to be on the verge of rediscovering nuclear fission. Despite this, the Shi's influence does not reach more than San Francisco itself, as the group stays very withdrawn and remains unaccessible to outsiders.

- New Reno: The town of Reno was spared of any direct nuclear attack and is still largely intact. Now it is run by warring crime families. New Reno is the center of any illegal trade or activity, controlling alcohol, drugs and weapons trafficking, and being a safe haven for prostitution and gambling as well as housing the local headquarters of the Slaver's Guild.

- Vault City: dubbed the Pearl of the Wasteland, Vault City was created by the inhabitants of Vault 8 with the use of a powerful terraforming device called the G.E.C.K. Vault City has lush gardens, pure water sources and some of the most advanced technology and highest living standards in the wastes. It has strong outer walls with mounted turret guns, while the city guard carries laser weapons. It is run by a Citizen's Council under the leadership of the First Citizen, currently Lynette. Vault City has a very restrictive law system for its citizens and those outsiders who wish (and can afford) to live inside its walls. Weapons, drugs, alcohol, prostitution are strictly forbidden. Slavery is officially outlawed, though a caste of lifelong "indentured servitors" who provide for the needs of the Citizens does exist. The Inner Courtyard, with the Vault and its highly advanced medical technology, is restricted to Citizens. Only descendants of the original Vault dwellers are eligible for citizenship, though in rare cases exceptions can be made for those who pass a citizenship test. Non residents can enter Vault City on a day pass if they have reason to be there, usually for commercial or official business. Vault City prospers thanks to their advanced technologies and wares. It is the only major producer of pre-war healing chems. Vault City is disdainful of non-pure, irradiated humans and intolerant towards Ghouls or Mutants, though they recently brokered a pragmatic pact with the Ghoul-run town of Gecko, whose still operating nuclear power plant provides much needed electricity to fuel its expansionistic drive, but their haughtily superior and xenophobic attitudes have rubbed many neighbouring communities the wrong way.

- Redding: a small mining town of a few hundred inhabitants in the northern most extremity of the Sierra Nevada, the mining corporations in Redding control several mines; the gold of which is highly desired for minting by among others, the NCR. The three major powers in the region, New Reno, Vault City and the NCR all vie for control of these precious resources.

- Broken Hills: another small mining town, Broken Hills is quite different from Redding as it is an open, harmonious community which has a significant number of Ghoul and Super Mutant inhabitants, valued greatly for exploiting the uranium mine which would prove quite deadly for any humans without specialized equipment. Uranium fetches a high price on the market, even more now energy-starved Vault City made a trade agreement with Gecko, where the nuclear power plant needs a steady supply of it to remain operational.

- Modoc: a farming town and caravan rest stop, Modoc thrives as its original inhabitants joined forces with other survivors of the war who dwelled for generations in a natural cave system nearby, over time learning how to efficiently cultivate crops in very poor soil and with minimal resources.

- Klamath: a trading post to the far north, the last semblance of civilization as it is known to the people of the wasteland. Klamath is a small community of trappers who hunt the local giant lizards for their pelts and conduct trade with the several Tribal villages located in the hills and mountains even farther north. A town of several hundred inhabitants, the dangerous trade of hunting the mutated lizards and rampant alcoholism and drug use make it a place for only the most hardy of men, but strict frontier law restrains it from falling into anarchy and debauchery.

- The Den: a veritable hive of scum and villainy high up north, it can be said to be a smaller scale version of New Reno. But where the main life blood of Reno is gambling, The Den specializes in slavery. The town is largely run by the Slaver's Guild who keep their headquarters there. The Slaver's Guild grew out of a pact made by several influential slavers, to control the market and set fixed prices. They mercilessly muscle out any non-guild slaver groups. Most of their members sport a distinctive tattoo that covers half their face. Prostitution and drugs play less important roles in The Den. For most of its alcohol and all of its drugs supplies it is dependent on New Reno, something which the leaders of the Slaver's Guild are actively trying to change.

- New Arroyo: a flourishing new settlement, said to be founded by a joint group of Tribals who had a small village there before and a group Vault dwellers from Vault 13. What brought these two so very distinct groups together is a source of speculation.

- New Vegas: to the east lies New Vegas, the stronghold of the powerful slaver group known as Caesar’s Legion. It is (still) a city devoted to gambling and all other sorts of vices. There is commerce between New Vegas and the NCR, but the route through the Mojave Desert is a perilous one. The still functional Hoover Dam is a major point of contestation and invaluable asset to whoever controls it.

A role playing Christmas

As I have the last week of this dying year off, that leaves ample time for making some updates to this blog, so expect increased activity in the coming days. :)
But first I'll share with you all my favourite christmas present this year. One of the advantages of having a girlfriend who's into role playing is cool gifts like this Incan themed dice cup!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Handbook and Survival Guide update

I've put an updated version of both files online, with some tweaking after playtesting, errors removed and changes made after feedback from the delightful folks over at the Pinnacle forum. Happy holidays to all!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Session 2 summary

After some delay, the summary for the second session! A slightly marred victory for our heroes...

- Craig the Spirit Hunter: good natured Super Mutant shaman with a profound dislike for violence, on a spirit quest to find his true life's purpose;
- Dexx: streeth youth from the Boneyard who likes to indulge in less savoury endeavours, legally speaking, and fancies he can communicate with animals;
- Rhiannon Adare: computer and mechanical whiz, only just out into the Wasteland after fleeing her home, Vault 21, after a failed uprising;

After a short night’s rest, more invigorating for some than for others, our heroes met at the break of dawn with Jacob the cattle ranch hand at the Jefferson ranch, who was quite keen to get going as they’ve got a tight schedule to keep: their contract specified the delivery of six Brahmin bulls to the Longhorn ranch in six days. Five of the animals were heavily packed with supplies, fodder and water for the long trek through the inhospitable wasteland. Accompanying them is the tribesman Pyal, whom Craig and Rhiannon previously bailed out of Camptown jail and wished to aid their enterprise in an effort to repay his debt.
  Soon enough the party set out. It was a pleasant, warm early spring day and they made good time, now still close to civilization, with Camptown not far behind and various smaller settlements and homesteads along the way. In the afternoon, Pyal, who took point, scouting ahead of the main group, indicated that a small group of men was heading their way. Wary to the dangers of the wasteland, Dexx made ready one of his weapons, just in case. They continued along the road and the group of men approached towards them. These men, counting four in total, looked like trouble: dressed in a mishmash of leather and metal armor with spikes mounted on the shoulders, ostentatiously carrying weapons, two of the men sporting tattoos that covered half their face, one with a large Mohawk. The leader of the bunch, a tall, muscular bald man, hailed them. He revealed them to be a group of slavers in search of three escaped slaves, which they had been unsuccessfully been pursuing for some days now. Our heroes assured them they knew nothing about this matter, which seemed good enough for the slavers. Without much further ado they took their leave and started across the wasteland again, which prompted Rhiannon to say this was the first time she met anyone during her brief time in the wasteland who didn’t outright try to kill or enslave her.
  The rest of the day went by uneventfully. Around dusk the party made camp. Only Dexx seemed to have properly prepared for the long trek, with Rhiannon and Craig already having eaten their last rations and ran out of water. While Dexx, Jacob and Rhiannon set to putting up the tents, watering and feeding the Brahmin, Pyal and Craig decided to try their luck at hunting to supplement their meagre dinner. The Super Mutant didn’t prove to be as experienced a hunter as his Tribal friend, who managed to bag a small molerat which they subsequently shared the three of them. Jacob flat out refused to share the cattle’s water supply with the thirsty adventurers, so in turn Rhiannon and Craig made up their mind to steal what they needed while Jacob went to sleep. After dinner and sparse conversation around the campfire, the group went to sleep, the men taking turns keeping watch, but the night went by calmly without attracting any unwanted visitors.
  The party set out again early the next morning after a small breakfast, the day being once again bright and warm. The party marched on in high spirits until early afternoon, when along the road they spotted some fields and farmhouses in the distance. Jacob was pleased to inform them they could make a stop there for lunch, as he knew the families living on the homestead. As the group drew nearer to the farm, a certain puzzlement arose. There was no one to be seen working the fields, and none of the inhabitants had come out to meet them. After some discussion Jacob and Dexx decided to cut through the fields and go up to the low buildings a bit off the road, that served as the houses for the three families living on the farm. The courtyard turned out to be equally abandoned: the window shutters on the houses were all closed, while of two of the houses the front doors were wide open, and not a soul in sight. Moving stealthily around the buildings, Dexx managed to get a look in through one of the windows, but the interior of the house revealed no signs of any violent struggle either. Everything seemed to have been left where it was, the inhabitants seemingly vanished in thin air. Dexx and Jacob decided to return to the others to relate what they saw. Meanwhile, Craig learned little more about the situation from invoking the spirits of the earth. The heroes then went over the best course of action and decided to check the farm buildings, to see if perhaps they’d find anyone in need of aid. Pyal and Jacob remained behind, guarding the Brahmin. Craig, Rhiannon and Dexx returned to the courtyard and followed the path up to the first house, located slightly above the others on a slope. Taking point, Craig found the front door to be locked. Dexx then offered to give it a try himself and surreptitiously set to work with his trusty lockpicks. The lock proved no match for his skills and quickly the party managed to enter the house. The small, one room building appeared neat and tidy at first glance, with no signs of struggle or other unusual activity. Inspecting the cupboards, the heroes found all the housewares and stores still there. Over the stove an antique looking hunting rifle hung suspended, which Dexx decided to take with him for good measure. The party moved on to the second house and found it similar to the first. Here they found a trap door leading to a small, dark cellar, where they found even more winter provisions, which the hungry Craig and Rhiannon gratefully liberated from its dark prison, along with some candles. They then went over to the third house, the abode of the Thompson family, and immediately got struck by a foul stench emanating from the house. The smell appeared to be coming from the opened trap door, so the heroes lit a few candles and decided to make the descent down the narrow stairs. Craig went down alone, with the others waiting at the top of the stairs, and made the gruesome discovery of the fate of the farmers. On a pile in the center of the dark, dank cellar lay about seven mangled corpses, which he found to have strange bite marks and chunks of flesh torn off after some further inspection. Lighting his torch to see better, the Super Mutant then noticed palish white sacks hanging in the far cellar corner, and several large brown blotches on the stone walls. Wary he decided to make a stab at one of these with his spear and striking true a high pitched screech filled the cellar. About six giant mantises suddenly turned their faceted eyes on Craig and lunged at him from the wall. He managed to fend most off but one of them managed to attach itself to his chest, clawing and biting. After a short struggle Craig decided to beat a tactical retreat up the stairs, and after some quick thinking on Dexx’ part he threw the hatch shut after Craig made it back up. While Craig looked around for a suitable heavy cupboard to shove on the trap door, Rhiannon and Dexx weighed down the trap door to keep the giant insects confined to the cellar. Summoning their combined strength, the creatures almost managed to bash it open, prying open a gap with their forelegs, but leaving them vulnerable to attacks from the defenders who took full advantage of the fact. Fortunately with his Mutant fortitude Craig managed to throw down the cupboard on the hatch, effectively locking the bugs in. But the ordeal proved far from over, for immediately they heard the frenzied lowing of the Brahmin back outside. Running back towards the road, the heroes saw that a small dozen of the creatures had swooped down on the bulls and their two companions, with Pyal fighting off three mantises single-handedly, and Jacob struggling on the ground with two of them on him. Five of the Brahmin had a mantis crawling over them, slashing and biting the cattle. What then followed was a great, confused melee, with Dexx running in, both knives drawn, narrowly dodging the frenzied kicks of the stampeding Brahmin, to cut down the insects on their guide; Craig showing some examples of excellent marksmanship, nocking arrows continuously and shooting most of the mantises down from the backs of the cows. Rhiannon ran in to assist Pyal, but her assumption that fire would likely scare the creatures was ill-founded, and she bore the full brunt of the attack of one of them, knocking her down and out. As the fight drew to an end, the last remaining mantis managed to bite down deep in the nape of the neck of one of the Brahmin, sending it reeling and killing the unfortunate creature. The insect was thereafter quickly dispatched before it could feast on its prey too much, but the damage was done. Craig kept his cool and immediately set to bandaging Rhiannon to the best of his abilities, also looking after a Brahmin that got hurt rather badly in the fight, while Jacob after surveying the loss of one of the valuable bulls was momentarily reduced to a nervous wreck. The heroes decided to cut their losses and carved up the dead Brahmin, collecting as much of the meat as possible and leaving the remainder as bait for any insects lurking about.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Location: Dayglow

A short write-up for the town of Dayglow. Dayglow is an existing location is Fallout lore, but nothing is known about it.

To the north and west of The Glow lies the NCR state of Dayglow. The town of Dayglow proper, the state's capital, is an unassuming settlement of some six thousand inhabitants, with above average living conditions and affordable public services, which serve the inhabitants of the smaller towns in the area as well. Thus the town serves as the administrative, agricultural and economic center of the NCR territories south and south east of The Hub. Dayglow has a modest yet adequately equipped hospital, modern hydroponics facilities and produces several goods for export in small scale manufactories. Of particular note are the three larger, partially automated textile factories, which supply a great many smaller NCR towns with cheap cotton clothing. The factories and the rich merchant families behind them have been steadily gaining in importance, as Dayglow's former source of fame and riches, the scavenging operation led by the Ellis & Wilson Reclamation Co. has hit a slump in the last few years. Spearheaded by Ghouls out of Necropolis some seventy years ago, the Reclamation Co. quickly took to organizing scavenging expeditions into the ruins of the former West Tek Research Facility, which was reduced to the infamous radioactive hotspot dubbed The Glow by the direct impact of a nuclear warhead. Those first few years the Reclamation Co. made stacks of money, selling their finds indiscriminately to whoever could shell out enough caps, pressuring a lot of the smaller scavenging groups out of business. But over the years most of the easily reachable loot was recovered, and the resources of The Glow began to run dry. After a botched expedition into the lowermost levels of the facility became fatal for the entire party of eight scavengers, the Reclamation Co. saw itself forced to start considering other potential targets for exploitation, so far with little success or profit. Now the once illustrious Ellis & Wilson Reclamation Co. is but a shadow of its former self, its decline dragging many with it, not the least of which the many families who depended on the scavenging operations for their livelihood. Being the last major NCR population center on the way to the southern border, a military base and Ranger compound have been established not too far from town. The area is patrolled extensively by Ranger units, even more so as brutal attacks from raider and slaver groups crossing the border have been increasing as of late. Little is known of the situation down south, but rumour has it an exceptionally violent and barbaric warlord has united the streetgangs in the crumbling ruins of old San Diego.
Points of interest and story hooks
*Town center: nestled around Union Square the old town area of Dayglow is located, with many shops, bars and inns both small and large, a few restaurants, town hall, the governor's house and sundry offices housing the state's administrative and legal bodies. Some of the older warehouses and manufactories are also to be found in this part of town.
Police station: trouble seems to be brewing in Dayglow, as certain areas of Oldtown are quickly becoming no-go zones as a gang of toughs calling themselves "The Shiv" moved in and now controls the streets at night. Any undercover officers the police sends to investigate are soon discovered however. Captain Baldwinson will ask the party to find out more about the situation. Chief of police Maxwell expresses his concern about the increased activity of the Rangers near the border and the situation south of it. After some infiltration and investigation the players can uncover that The Shiv is actually an early scouting sent by Barbatus, the new lord of SD. Also can be discovered that The Shiv are bribing one of the police inspectors to reveal their undercover agents, either feeding them falso or trivial info or making them disappear.
*Factory district: colloquially referred to as "the Grounds", this quarter houses the more recent manufactories, workshops and accompanying warehouses that have sprung up in the last few decades. The grounds' industrial complex is now one of the main sources of income for Dayglow. The area now has neatly structured rows of houses for the factory laborers, after the old housing had to be razed out of health and safety concerns following the outbreak of an unidentified, contagious illness.
The three families owning the large textile factories, the Millers, Brandfords and Hustons have brokered a fragile trade agreement and control much of the production and export in Dayglow. Some smaller competitors have bounded together in protest, trying to put an end to the goodwill and cooperation between the families, by any means necessary. The group has forged a ledger incriminating the Millers of selling over the agreed-on volume, which is to be brought to the attention of the Hustons, their biggest erstwhile rival.
*Uptown: Uptown, with its many pleasant little plazas and broad streets, make for a spacious and agreeable residential area where many of the merchant families and well-to-do live.
Tandi Memorial Hospital
is located in Uptown, next to the small, well-kept park with fountain dedicated to her name, courtesy of the industrialists of Dayglow.
Tandi Memorial Hospital offers valuable services, such as radiation purge treatment, through which radiation poisoning accumulated in short, recent periods can be expelled; unfortunately this therapy seems to have no effect on years of slowly accumulated background radiation and such. Things are more hectic as usual at the hospital, and the party can learn that there’s been a steady increase in the number of patients, as raider attacks are becoming more frequent and more severe, and the badly wounded or injured townsfolk have to make the trek from the southern parts of Dayglow state to the hospital as their own facilities are inadequate. If the party informs if they can help, chief of staff Dalmeyer will ask them to deliver emergence supplies of antibiotics and antiseptics to doctor Palmerton in Hidden Valley
*Midtown: the majority of Dayglow's inhabitants live in the part of town wedged between the historic town center and the fancier Uptown neighbourhood. Apart from some stores and bars, it holds little of interest for the non-resident.
*Oldtown: Oldtown was once the vibrant commercial center of Dayglow, but production and trade have since shifted to the Grounds when its manufactories slowly but surely became more profitable. Oldtown has been reduced to the poorest neighbourhood of Dayglow, with most families making a living by working on the fields or at the nearby hydroponics farm. The streets of Oldtown now present an at best lackluster, at worst squalid sight. The elegant fa├žades of the old brick houses have fallen into disrepair, the impressive post-war warehouses have been repurposed as living space by penniless families, squatters or immigrants. Oldtown also houses the equally declined Reclamation Co. headquarters, half of the building now boarded up and no longer used.
Reclamation Co. HQ: Carl and Henley, the two Ghoulish founders and still current owners of the Reclamation Co. are at each other’s throat. Each blames the other for the decline of the company’s fortunes. Fortunately, they both have a plan to turn the tide, and they’ll ask the party’s assistance in their schemes. Carl recently came into possession of an electronic keycard for the West Tek complex, salvaged in an outside operation many years ago. He believes it will unlock the security doors to the experimental research labs on level -7, where plenty of valuable pre-war tech should still be up for grabs. Henley on the other hand believes The Glow has been picked bare already and that to survive they need to find another rich site. Recovered logs show that shortly before the war, an important experiment was moved from West Tek to an unknown military location (Mariposa). Henley asks the party to check if the old mainframe computer, ZAX 1.2, is still operational, and to try and find any information on this base. There’s still a few capable scavengers around who will join the party for a share of the findings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More savaging...

A little side project I've been working on is a SW version of the classic hack & slash game Diablo II. I've taken the skill trees of all the classes and converted them to edges and powers. It's available in the download list for your perusal. Some of them are admittedly a bit wonky as they don't have a real equivalent in SW and as every class in DII has a mana pool and some sort of spells. I didn't want to force an AB as a prerequisite for every class however. I'm least happy about the Assassin Traps tree. Weird Science seems like the closest approximation for it, but that AB works differently in SW. Thoughts and suggestions are valued! Along the line I'll convert the bestiary and items list as well, and provide a little setting background on the world of Sanctuary and the Sin War. Basically I'd like to recreate that fast paced, high body count style that made DII so FFF! In general enemies would be a bit weaker than standard SW fare, and WCs stronger (5 Wound levels with the first 2 being fleshwounds that don't cause any penalties). Players would probably start out at Seasoned as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wasteland wackiness

The Fallout games have always been big on humor, though in my opinion some installments (I'm looking at you, Fallout 2) went a bit overboard, with all too obvious pop-culture references or just plain pubescent foolery breaking the immersion. But at its best, Fallout manages to incorporate a healthy dose of humor in its universe, tongue-firmly-in-cheek probably being the way to go with a setting that features such silly things as talking animals, robot dogs and intelligent plants (but I think we all want to forget that part, even the devs don't consider it canon).
None of my players are familiar with Fallout (After the first session, consensus seems to be that the universe is a post apocalyptical wild west, with sheriffs, tribals and cattle ranches) so they'll probably be in for a bit of surprise when the weird hits the fan! The plan is to try and inject a little of that typical Fallout humor in my sessions. So far it has been limited to a Firefly reference which mostly went by unnoticed, but more zaniness is waiting for my players just beyond the horizon. :) Upcoming wackiness will include: A decrepit old Ghoul whose legs were nibbled off by coyotes during the night, a hold up by a cyberdog with a human brain implanted, and after listening to this hilarious radio skit from the '50s by Stan Freberg called "St George and the dragonet", I got an idea for a Wild Card NPC Joe St George, grizzled mutant and deathclaw hunter. More weirdness to follow, without a doubt. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No session this week

Unfortunately this week's session was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts, so I won't be putting up a summary this week. This does however give me some more time to work on some of the locations the party is likely to visit in the coming weeks. Next up will be Dayglow, an officially existing location in the Fallout canon, but apart from the name and a few lines in the Fallout bible there's nothing known about it. Lots of gaps to be filled, ideal for the overzealous game master. :) So expect my own spin on it in a few days!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random encounters

Travelling around the Fallout world is dangerous, all kinds of hostile creatures wait to ambush the unexpecting party... though some friendlier faces are to be seen as well. I compiled a short list of possible random encounters, based on the Survival skill of the party the encounter has a chance of being more beneficial or special. Basically these events can be as little as a small detail to make the world come alive a bit more, to a possible hook that could end up taking up an hour, the session or even longer, depending on how much you want to put into it and how the players react to it. Of course you can also just pick a result from a certain list if you have a particular sort of encounter in mind.
In a month of ingame travelling, the party would on average encounter: 6 hostile, 6 neutral, 4 locations, 2 distress, 2 friendly and 0 to 1 special events.

Survival check
Hostile: roll d20
Location & Remains: roll 2d20
or: Neutral: roll d20
Distress: roll d12
or: Friendly: roll d20
Two raises or higher
Special: roll d12

Hostile: d20
-A pack of dogs/coyotes
-A nest/swarm of giant insects
-A pack of pig/mole rats
-A giant anthill
-A group of stampeding wild Brahmin
-A mutant creature
-A group of mutant creatures
-A lone scout
-A band of ruffians
-A group of raiders
-A group of slavers
-A highwayman
-A group of raiders, fighting some wastelanders
-A group of slavers, beating up a wastelander
-A group of feral Ghouls, feasting on human corpses
-A group of Super Mutants, fighting some wastelanders
-A group of cannibals, ambushing some wastelanders
-Two Super Mutants with a captive
-Three Super Mutants with five captives
-A Super Mutant raiding party

Location: d20
-A cavern at the foot of a hill
-A copse of gnarled, dead trees
-An unusual rock formation
-A burnt-out car wreck
-An overturned, rusted Nuka-Cola truck
-A ruined house
-A wooden shack
-A small, forgotten ghost town
-A burnt-down homestead
-A burnt-down factory
-A burnt-down farm
-An abandoned homestead
-An abandoned scrapyard
-An abandoned dumping site
-An abandoned barn
-An abandoned warehouse
-An abandoned gas station
-An abandoned garage
-An abandoned fallout shelter
-An abandoned campsite

Remains: d20
-Previously looted/trashed

-Extremely weatherworn/dilapidated/overgrown
-Signs of recent struggle
-Signs of recent occupation

-Strange footprints
-Dusty bones
-Blood splatters
-Infested with vermin
-Infested with giant insects
-Valuables left behind
-An animal corpse
-A human corpse
-A couple of human corpses
-A couple of mangled corpses, a creature nearby
-A Super Mutant corpse
-A couple of Ghoul corpses
-An unidentifiable, grotesque corpse
-A hanged man
-A couple of hanged Ghouls

Neutral: d20
-A grazing Brahmin herd
-A lone animal
-A lone trader
-A trader with animal and/or robot companion
-A small caravan
-An Eyebot
-A travelling bounty hunter
-A drug runner
-A lone traveller
-A couple of travellers
-A couple of travelling Ghouls
-A wandering party of scavengers
-A scavenger, hauling some loot
-A group of travelling mercenaries
-A group of raiders returning from an attack, defeated and wounded
-A group of raiders returning from an attack, victoriously with plunder
-A group of slavers, looking for escaped slaves
-A group of slavers, with some captured slaves
-A group of men, fighting over loot
-A group of men, fighting over water

Distress: d12
-A wounded man in a minefield
-Two men, trying to navigate a minefield
-An escaped slave
-A couple of escaped slaves
-A group of escaped slaves, chased by slavers
-A group of travellers, attacked by creatures
-A robot, broken or damaged
-A creature, caught in a trap
-A man, dying of thirst
-A wounded man
-A wounded Ghoul
-A Ghoul, captured and harassed by bigots

Friendly: d20
-A lone Ranger
-A motorized Ranger patrol unit
-A Ranger patrol unit, in pursuit of some raiders
-A lone, friendly Super Mutant
-A knowledgeable hermit, in pursuit of enlightenment
-A travelling performer
-A travelling troupe of performers
-A travelling wasteland doctor
-A lone mercenary, looking for work
-A couple of mercenaries, looking for work
-A lone robot, its owner killed
-A lone dog, its owner killed
-A hunting party, trading fresh game
-A group of cannibals, trading strange meat
-A young Tribal, on an initiation into adulthood quest
-A lone Follower of the Apocalypse missionary
-A group of Followers of the Apocalypse
-A group of Hubologist proselytizers, giving free zeta scans
-A lone Regulator vigilante
-A group of Regulators, stringing up some raiders

Special: d12
-A talking cyberdog
-A mysterious figure in purple robes
-A talking Deathclaw, disguised in plain brown robes
-A garbled radio transmission
-A mysterious crash site
-A crater with an unexploded nuclear bomb
-A small, verdant grove with fresh water
-A crashed vertibird
-A Brotherhood knight, ambushed and outnumbered by raiders
-A couple of Brotherhood paladins and scribes, investigating a crash site
-An Enclave scouting party, questioning some wastelanders
-An Enclave patrol, boarding a vertibird and taking off

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Location: Landfill

The next installment in the locations series, we'll take a look at the settlement of Landfill.

Lovingly dubbed Landfilth or simply “The Filth” by its inhabitants, the former Green Acres Waste Management and Disposal Site is now home to a tiny community of destitute squatters and NCR rejects. Far to the south-west of The Hub, the influence of the NCR here can be called liminal at best. At almost a thousand acres large, the enormous wasteyard, a testament to an era of prosperity and wasteful consumption that's long gone, can be seen and smelled from miles off. Three large mountains of refuse loom over the rest of the spreading dumping site. Now, the trash of the 21st century serves as the only source of income for the two hundred-odd souls that dwell in the shanty town called Landfill, and many more fortune seekers, coming and going, hoping to salvage functional parts or unearth forgotten treasures in the deep recesses of the mountains of garbage. For many years the yard was scavenged willy-nilly. More organized groups excavated long winding tunnels in the bigger heaps of trash in the hopes of reaching older layers with more valuable findings. The situation changed some twenty years ago however, when a small-time businessman by the name of Harlan Clint showed up with a gang of armed toughs and forcefully seized control of the yard. Restoring the outer fences and having guards patrolling the perimeter, Clint now runs a profitable business charging would-be scavengers an entrance fee to the yard, for which they can in return haul as much salvage out of it as they can carry. With caravans passing Landfill being few and far between, Clint used his newfound influence to ensure that all trade into Landfill would pass through him first, taking first pick of the trade goods and hoarding most of the drinking water.
The settlement is made up entirely of small, dilapidated shacks, improvised out of sheets of plastic, corrugated metal or wreckage dragged from the yard. One building, partially out of brick and mortar, stands out: the local watering hole called The Hill, a two storey edifice dedicated to every vice man can think of: alcohol, drugs, gambling and prostitution. The proprietor is a man called Shane Donaldson, bar keeper and self proclaimed mayor of Landfill. Donaldson runs a tight ship, employing a small gang of bruisers to keep the bar and surrounding area trouble free, simultaneously providing the town with its only semblance of law and order.
Points of interest and story hooks
*Locals: the town is lousy with beggars asking for some water or caps. Drug dealers offer their wares. A woman will accost the party and beg them to look for her husband who went missing in the wasteyard tunnels. A party of three Ghouls, experienced scavengers, plan on going for a big haul and generally act rather adversarial and disdainful towards the PCs.
*Joe's Supplies: Joe sells all sorts of equipment a scavenger could need. Shovels and pickaxes, buckets, barrels or bags, Joe has it all.
*A few stalls scattered around the town sell food, mostly suckling pig rat caught in the yard, one trader buys and sells the more valuable artefacts found by more fortunate scavengers.
*The Hill: a smoky, seedy place filled with raucous drunks, addicts, gamblers and scavengers, The Hill is run by local strongman Shane Donaldson. Owning the only bar and half the townsfolk being deeply indebted to Donaldson, he’s widely regarded as the man in charge of town, a view he likes to encourage. Donaldson has his fingers in all the pies in Landfill and not much happens without his knowing or approval. Lately, Harlan Clint has become a thorn in Donaldson’s side. If the party is receptive, he’ll ask them to take Clint out, in the spirit of “free enterprise”. Not afraid of some fair, friendly competition, Donaldson believes Clint is getting too big for his boots and will soon start monopolizing all the in- and outgoing trade. He’ll offer a sizeable amount in caps for the deed. Alternatively, if the party was asked to kill Donaldson by Clint, he’ll make a higher counteroffer for the party to kill Clint instead.
*Wasteyard: for a small fee the party can enter the landfill to try their luck at scavenging. The outside consists mostly of contemporary rubbish. The tunnels leading into the mountains of trash are a three-tiered dungeon. Enemies encountered here are pig rats, mole rats and a few giant albino rats. On the deepest level in a tunnel dripping with toxic sludge awaits a centaur. Loot consists of many deposits of spare parts, equipment from died scavengers and some damaged pre-war weapons, such as a laser pistol. The trio of Ghouls encountered in Landfill will shop up and attempt to kill the party.
*Clint’s compound: the only entrance to the wasteyard opened to the public. Anyone caught trying to climb the fence around the yard will be shot on sight. A few larger shacks near the entrance serve as bunkhouses for Clint’s toughs, storage and Clint's office. The water tank, holding a few hundred gallons of drinking water, is guarded at all times by one or two of Clint's men, it being the only real water storage the settlement has. On occasion, Clint has some water distributed for free, in an effort to gain some popularity with the locals.
If the party went in the tunnels and returns, Clint’s men will ask them to come with them to Clint’s office to discuss a business proposal. Clint reveals he’s planning on turning Landfill into a respectable town and having the wasteyard exploited to its full potential, which would provide many with honest, fulltime jobs, according to him. The first step in getting the approval of the NCR however, will be in removing the blight of Shane Donaldson and his sinful establishment. Clint will offer the party a sizeable amount of caps to kill Donaldson. Alternatively, if the party was asking to kill Clint by Donaldson, he’ll make a higher counteroffer for the party to kill Donaldson instead.

In the spirit of the Fallout ending sequences where the impact of the player on the world is recounted, here some ideas for how Landfill could evolve (you’d have to mimic Ron Perlman’s voice yourself) ;)
Power struggle in Landfill: Endings
Clint killed: With Clint out of the way, Donaldson took control of Landfill and slowly turned it into a large, prosperous town, dedicated to gambling, drinking and prostitution. Donaldson ruled with an iron fist. To protect his business interests, the streets of Landfill are being kept clean and orderly by his force of bruisers and own frontier brand of justice. In time, the lights of Landfill would be rivalled only by those of New Vegas and New Reno themselves.
Donaldson killed: With Donaldson out of the way, no one was left standing in Clint’s way to take full control of Landfill. Banning all gambling, drug dealing and prostitution, the renamed settlement of New Green Acres would become an orderly town, in time becoming a full member of the NCR. Clint had the wasteyard exploited professionally, with many of the locals now working sixteen hour shifts at minimum wages, being reduced to slaves in all but name. Thanks to your help, New Green Acres stands as a shining example of humanity's determination to rebuild civilization in the Wasteland.