Friday, June 27, 2014

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: Races

Read on about two of the races we are developing for "Westward," the next RPG book project for the Pure Steam™ Campaign Setting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Nazi "Sleeper" Agent

Forgoing Donovan and Vogel, Indy's true nemesis in The Last Crusade is best portrayed by that of delicious Elsa—she is the last to get her comeuppance, after all.

(circa The Last Crusade, 1938)
Female Human Fast 2/Smart 2/Charismatic 2/Infiltrator 3/Field Antiquarian* 5; CR 14; Medium Humanoid (height 5' 9", weight 126 lb.); Age 25
* See Dark*Matter

Init +6; Senses (core) Listen +3, Search +12, Spot +5; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +12 (see below), Search +18
Languages Austrian, English, French, German, Italian, Latin (read/write only), Russian

Defense (core) 22, touch 22, flat-footed 20; Defense (house) 22, touch 17, flat-footed 20; Defensive Martial Arts (+2 Dex, +10 class)
hp 67 (14 HD); Mas 12
Fort +5, Ref +10, Will +7
Action Points 10

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +6/+1 (1d3 nonlethal, 20) or
Melee by weapon +6/+1 or
Ranged Luger pistol +8/+3 (2d6 ballistic, 20, 30 ft., S, 8 box) or
Ranged by weapon +8/+3
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +6; Grp +6
Atk Options none
Special Qualities none

Abilities Str 11, Dex 14 (13), Con 12, Int 15 (14), Wis 10, Cha 18 (17)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances herself, the “Grail Quest,” the Nazi Party, antiquities, evil; Rep +5; San 49
Feats Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Attentive, Deceptive, Defensive Martial Arts, Educated (Knowledge [history, theology and philosophy]), Improved Initiative, Meticulous, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Simple Weapons Proficiency, Studious, Surface Vehicle Operation (powerboats), Trustworthy
Skills (core) Balance +5, Bluff +15 (+2 vs. males), Decipher Script +8, Diplomacy +11 (+2 vs. males), Disable Device +6, Disguise +12 (+2 vs. males), Escape Artist +10, Forgery +8, Gather Information +11 (+2 vs. males), Hide +4, Investigate +8, Knowledge (arcane lore) +5, Knowledge (art) +7, Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (streetwise) +6, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10, Listen +3, Move Silently +7, Read/Write Austrian, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Latin, Read/Write Russian, Research +12, Ride +6, Search +12, Sense Motive +6, Sleight of Hand +10, Speak Austrian, Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Speak Italian, Speak Russian, Spot +5 (+4 when making a sweep), Swim +11
Skills (house) Athletics +11, Control +4, Deduce +16 (+2 on Decipher Script, Investigate, Search), Disable Device +7, Disguise +12 (+2 vs. males), Escape Artist +10, Forgery +8, Gather Information +12 (+2 vs. males), Knowledge (arcane lore) +5, Knowledge (art) +7, Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (streetwise) +6, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10, Perceive +12 (+2 on Sense Motive, +4 on Spot when making a sweep), Persuade +18 (+2 on Diplomacy, +2 vs. males), Read/Write Austrian, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Latin, Read/Write Russian, Research +12, Ride +6, Sneak +17, Speak Austrian, Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Speak Italian, Speak Russian
Talents (Fast) Evasion
Talents (Smart) Savant (Research)
Talents (Charismatic) Charm (males)
Talents (Infiltrator) Improvised Implements, Sweep
Talents (Field Antiquarian) Ancient Knowledge, Contact (low-level)
Starting Occupation Athlete (Swim as a permanent class skill, +1 on Balance, Ride; Archaic Weapons Proficiency)
Possessions (total weight 7 lb.) business outfit (blouse, jacket, & skirt; 3 lb.), Luger P08 9 mm pistol (2 lb.), briefcase (2 lb.), various personal items
Wealth Bonus +14

NEW FX Item Holy Grail
Said to provide eternal life to whomever drinks of it, the Holy Grail is the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, and which caught Jesus’ blood during the crucifixion. Joseph of Arimathea, a rich patron and follower of Christ, took possession of the Grail after Jesus’ body was interred in the tomb. Taken to Great Britain in 37 A.D., the Grail was intermittently held, lost, and rediscovered by various seekers, including knights of King Arthur’s court, until the 9th century after a period of raiding and trading found the grail in Asia Minor.
          In the year 1000, an Aramaic-speaking Semite secret society, eventually establishing itself as the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, used a preexisting Greco-Roman facade to construct the Temple of the Sun in a hidden gorge to house the Grail, where a great seal acted to prevent the artifact from being taken beyond the temple's entrance. They swore to keep it safe from discovery and misuse by any means. The Grail was found in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon by Knights of the First Crusade, three brothers who pledged to protect it. One of the brothers was chosen to stay behind while the other two returned to Europe and left a marker near Ankara about the Grail's location. Sir Richard's shield carried a second marker, but the man died on the journey home and was buried with his shield in a tomb in Venice, Italy. The third brother returned home and, in the 13th century, told his story to a Franciscan friar who recorded vague whereabouts of the holy relic and made a painting to accompany it.
          Holy Grail: By appearances, the Grail is nothing more than a partially weathered burnished clay cup, measuring approximately 9 inches tall with a 4.5-inch diameter across the rim—such as a carpenter might have owned during the 1st century. When fresh water is drank from this vessel, the imbiber is subject to a healing effect that immediately ends any of the following adverse conditions: ability damage, blinded, confused, dazed, dazzled, deafened, diseased, exhausted, fatigued, feebleminded, insanity, nauseated, sickened, stunned, and poisoned. The imbiber is also cured 150 hit points, up to their normal maximum. Anyone drinking from the Grail can only benefit from its rejuvenating powers once each day.
          Prior to the Grail being housed in the Temple of the Sun, anyone who drank from the chalice enjoyed prolonged, if not everlasting, life: they would age at 1/10 the normal rate. However, the magic of the temple’s great seal limit’s the Grail’s life prolonging effect only to those who do not cross the seal, thus turning seeming eternal youth into what would be a centuries’ long penance of imprisonment.
Type: Wondrous item (magic); Caster Level: 15th; Purchase DC: n/a (42); Weight: 1.5 lb.

Monday, June 16, 2014

RioCon, Day 3

Although we had planned to end things on a somewhat grander note (with Dominion and Star Fluxx), instead we wrapped up day three with the elegant stylings of another session of Tsuro.

Opening gambits: Dad (red) and Yume (white) started the action side-by-side, while I (blue) set course for the center of the board. 
Yume survived being sent to the edge and Dad and I came close to meeting in the middle.
Later, we all separated…
…only to come face-to-face with each other again.
I played the capper for Yume, though, laying the four-sided 180º whirl tile as seen at the tip of the red marker. In turn, it sent me packing for higher ground.
Here's how it stood after nine rounds: looks like I'm about to run out of real estate!
Or am I?
Victory! Here's a lesson for all you Tsuro-beginners out there: don't get stuck on the wrong side of that four-sided 180º whirl tile—it's the kiss of death.

Thus ended our "first annual" RioCon. Wherever your location, may your games never end: tis truly the path to the fountain of youth!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

RioCon, Day 2

Here is a recap and the results of day two's action at RioCon:

Day two kicked off with a round of Tsuro: The Game of the Path, with Jessie playing yellow, Yume white, Trevor blue, and me as brown.
Tsuro is a tile-based pattern recognition game with a simple but elegant style. The objective is to remain moving about the board without "falling" or being driven off the edge or running into other pieces. I love its Asian art design and the strategies needed to win remind me of a more organic version of chess.
Early on, I was trying to dictate Jess's moves in hopes that I could run her off the board; Trevor played a conservative game of staying close to the edge; and Yume was content to work herself into a corner.
Ultimately, Jess evaded me and I was lucky enough to find a route across the board and make use of 180º whirls in the paths (i.e. built in roadblocks) to prevent pursuit. Trev reversed his course to eat up more real estate, but was suddenly confronted with both Yume and Jess who had followed him.
Here's how it stood after seven rounds of play: Jess (yellow) had cut back north, Yume (white) had placed herself in Trevor's (blue) hands (center-right), and I was safely secluded away in the western half, biding time.
A round later, Trevor had sent Yume on a spiraling course back to the corner she had tried to escape from.
Later that turn, Yume was the first to be eliminated…
…followed by Jessie, and then Trevor, who you see here at the moment of his going off the board. Brilliant fun!
The gaming gods were with me that day, for later Dad (red), Jessie (blue), Trevor (green), and I (black) gathered round for some Lords of Waterdeep, and we finished from last to first in the same order. Dad played as "Mirt the Moneylender," a familiar name for any Forgotten Realms fan, finishing with 122 points; Jess as "Danilo Thann," another well-known name, had 128; Trevor as the halfling turned doppelganger "Nindil Jalbuck," had 138; and I played as "Larissa Neathal," the affable socialite who garners her victory points according to the number of buildings under her control by the end of the game, taking high score with 141. Playing a Lord (and there are seventeen, including those from the expansion, each with their own set of win conditions) is a different experience every time, and even if you play as the same Lord, the gameplay is so varied and volatile that you never play the exact same game twice.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

RioCon, Day 1

Due to a couple back-to-back weddings from June 7-14, much of my family (including Trevor from down in L.A., and Jess up from Arizona) has been in town, so I deemed it necessary for us to game-it-up during the interim. Here's a recap of the day one action at "RioCon" (© 2014):

Trev, Yume, and I took on the "Legacy of the Drow" adventure scenario for The Legend of Drizzt game. Trev played Wulfgar (the barbarian), Yume Catti-Brie (the archer; as per usual), and I was Regis (the rogue). In the early going, we encountered a number of orc-related monsters from the Dungeon Command "Blood of Gruumsh" expansion. Here, we're in the midst of defeating a war boar and a fearsome orc Cleric of Gruumsh wielding a long spear.
At the penultimate moment, Methil the mind flayer arrived, bringing with him a goblin cutter, hunting drake, orc drudge, and a copper dragon! Even though we had both our healing surges still, sh¡t was about to get real.
In short order, we managed to bring the mind flayer down to less than 5 hp, but both Catti-Brie and Wulfgar were dropped in the doing. This meant we couldn't afford any more mishaps. Then, right as the mind flayer summoned in an orc druid to help, Wulfgar landed the killing blow with Aegis-fang. We had won!
A selection of the monsters we faced from the Blood of Gruumsh expansion (from left to right): orc drudge, Cleric of Gruumsh, orc archer (back), orc chieftain (front), orc druid, war boar.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pure Steam at The Launchpad (On sale now!)

Big thanks to Mike and Cody at The Launchpad in Lodi, CA! The staff there amiably hosted our bachelor party/gaming event in honor of high school friend, Jeff Wells. They also took on a number of print copies of our awesome campaign setting, Pure Steam. Go check them out here, and check us out while you're at it!