Monday, May 26, 2014

Shadowrun Rat's Nest: Selkies

I took over as GM for the Shadowrun Rat's Nest group for a while. The group stole a ton of chocolate at a run in Seattle and now they're trying to sell it to the Irish mob in Boston. I planned to give the characters a day in Boston to get their bearings (and to give the mb time to examine the chocolate...wich is fake and not made form cocoa, a fact the players would rather keep secret).

So they do a bit of sightseeing and I mention the Boston Aquarium. They go there and since one sourcebooks says that there are merepeople there, I mention that as well. Merrows, but I couldn't remember and went with Selkies. They are sentinent beings, but their former home, the Boston harbour, has been polluted and they have been spending the last twenty years in that aquarium.

You probably see where this is going. The characters are already planning a run on the aquarium to free the Selkies and, here come the part I really love, want to take them to Seattle to set them free there. Through several airport security checks - at least they do have their own plane - and with hundreds of miles of perfectly good coastline just outside Boston. But I'm not going to spoil the fun and say anything.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

7th Sea: Wanted Men

last time

cast of characters:
Aidan - member of the Exporer's Society
Gregor - fighter and bodyguard and maybe something more
Marinus - son of a rich vendel merchant family, travelling after completing his journeyman's piece

15. Octavus 1668, on a ship to Vodacce

We found the princes. And that is where things started to go very wrong. No. In truth, it had begun much earlier than that, when we noticed that we were no longer able to find out way back although it should have been easy. We were lost, with only a day or so worth of lamp oil and food and water for only a bit longer. But soon, this did no longer concern us because we all had the feling that we simply knew the way. We followed lights and voices on the cusp of our hearing to a cave overgrown with crystals and we felt welcome there, among friends.

click for spelunking

I snapped out of it just in time to keep Gregor from touching the crystals by punching him. Aidan had already touched the wall and the crystals immediately started to grow into his flesh, he pulled back just in time. We realised that we were even more lost than before and in even greater danger than we thought. There were two vaguely human-shaped crystal pillars and each had a sword made from Dracheneisen by its side. We pulled the swords loose and found that the crystals receded when touched by the weapons. Under them, we found the princes, clearly long dead.

Disheartened, we left the cave to look for a way out, taking the swords with us. The crystals no longer seemed to want to keep us in the cave and we all felt hostility towards us. I canot explain it any better. We found the underground river we had heard earlier and followed it, wading and sometimes swimming. After a while, we heard voices and saw a light through an opening above. Our calls for help were answered by a group of game wardens who pulled us up and were astounded to find us.

The weather was too bad to make our way to Atemlos that day and we spent the night in the mine with the wardens. We wondered about them because they wore no sigil and it was quite a coincidence that they were there just in time to find us. But maybe we were too distrustful.

Unfortunately, our suspicions were only too well-founded. The leader of the wardens left that night and I overheard him telling his men that he would go to Atemlos for instructions and we were not to be left out of sight. We decided to try and leave the next morning anyway, fighting them if need be. Aidan had slept through it all, he has been growing weaker for days now, for no apparent reason. They let us go, but we soon noticed that they followed us.

We made our way to Susa and I wish we had not. She already knew what had happened and said that we were in danger and must not go to Atemlos. Before we could decide what to do, there were voices outside and Susa rushed out, trying to buy us time. The men simply shot her. We killed or wounded all but one of them, the man who had shot Susa and I would really have liked to get my hands on him. But he escaped. Susa was still alive when everything was over, but I did not need any surgeon to tell me that she was mortally wounded. She healed Aidan of whatever it was that was weakening him, with her last breath.

We had two prisoners who told us that they had been searching for us and the princes. But not to bring us back, but to kill the princes and to either kill us or take us back to Atemlos as scapegoats. It seems that Knef is planning to take over Hainzl. For a moment, we were angry enough to think about going back to Atemlos, to get our things, just out of spite. But we thought better of it and now we are wanted men in Hainzl. We are on our way to Vodacce. I have not been there before and I hope it will be a friendlier place than Hainzl for us. I have written to the League and I can expect my belongings, including the Syrneth artifacts, and my mule to arrive in a few weeks.

We kept the swords. But we will send one back to Knef, with a message that its twin will find him when he least expects it.


We have been having quite a few talks about this whole adventure because a couple of unusual things happened. The mood was very dark for 7th Sea and while that was fun for one adventure, we asked that it doesn't continue that way because that's not what we play 7th Sea for. Same with the fact that we could have died easily, just by bad dice luck. If I want that, I play Cthulhu. 7th Sea, for me,is a swashbuckling game where I can do or at least attempt things that were impossible or unwise in other games and I don't have to be afraid to die immediately because of one single roll or one decision. Give me consequences, sure, but I want to be encouraged to be heroic, to attempt things no ordinary character would even dream about. What I love about 7th Sea is the freedom to say: hey, let's do this! If you have to wonder whether a single roll can kill you, that style of play is not possible.

Also, we had no way of solving the mission given to us. The princes were dead already and there was no way we could have avoided being branded as murderes. Again, this is okay for one adventure. But it takes agency away from the players and that's not a very good feeling. As a GM, you can totally do that, but it's something you have to be very careful about and don't overdo it. Having the characters betrayed by an NPC like that is a cool thing and I suspect we may get a story or two out of that later in the campaign, but it should be rare. If you let your players play stories too often that result in them coming out of at the end with nothing, no goals reached, nothing they wanted accomplished, that becomes frustrating incredibly quickly.

That being said, I did enjoy the adventure a lot. The cave was fucking creepy and the dead princes a well-placed punch to the gut. Our characters are pissed at being betrayed and we were that close to actually going back to Atemlos. For revenge, a mule and two wooden ducks! (Gregor bought those for his nephews and stored them at the castle). But we decided against it, especially after realising that Marinus had his stuff stored at the League's branch and can get it all back with a letter. But we really want to see Knef again just one more time.

The GM used Ambient Mixer for background noises and that was brilliant. It's such a simple thing, but it really helps create the right mood. Even if it's only the sound of a thunderstorm outside. Go check it out, it's a great tool for GMs.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ambient Music for RGPs

I came across Ambient Mixer a while ago and let me tell you, this is a brilliant tool for all your ambient noise needs. There's a variety of mixes people made, all ready for you to download under a CC license. Or you can just play them online and change them to your liking, mute a channel, chance the randomness of a certain noise ect. If you don't find what you're looking for, make an account and mix your own. The site has a database of noises for you to choose from and a very easy interface to make your own mix with up to eight channels. You can also upload sound files from your own computer. There's a number of websites that offer free sounds, for example Free Sound.

It's a simple and very effective way of creating the right mood for your game, whether the characters are in a Tavern, on a ship or exploring a deserted spaceship.

And speaking of spaceships, if you are looking for some really creepy background noise for such a setting, look up 'NASA Sounds of Space' on Youtube. The Voyager probes recorded electromagnetic vibrations from the planets and their moons and it makes for a very eerie atmosphere, but it's not too loud or too intrusive. Here for example is Io: