Thursday, August 26, 2021

Muck Mapping

 This is another How To Host A Dungeon map that I recently stumbled upon on my computer.  (Click here for Index of How To Host A Dungeon articles.)

This one was using the "Muck Dwellers" Civilization, which someone had posted to the How To Host A Dungeon Wiki. I remember being super-excited to try that out.  

Despite that excitement, this map/game definitely wasn't finished. Looks like I wandered away from it twice: once for 6 months during the first turn of the Age of Monsters, and then again more permanently after trying to pick the game back up for a few turns. Not sure why I abandoned it, exactly, but it does date to 2015. There was a lot of crazy stuff going on in my life around that time, and quite a few projects got abandoned in the upheaval. (I suppose it's also possible I was just mostly excited about the Muck Dwellers, and lost focus once their part was done... but I suspect this was a casualty of a particularly hard year.) It's a shame I never finished it, because I really liked the "bubble" design I used for the Muck Dwellers constructions in the 2nd and 3rd images (below).

I still have a note file from the game, so I'll post the text from that here with pictures:

Primordial Age

Started with Isle of Death map template. It’s gonna be harsh on the Surface Kingdoms.

Underground River
Mithral deposits
Caves - Gems, Primordial Beasts, Empty with tunnel, Fate
Caves - Gems (2 in 1 cave), Primordial Beasts (3 different caves), Empty, Magma

Planning to use a homebrewed civilization - probably Muck Dwellers. Can put them anywhere on the river, or just at the bottom of either sea section. The latter is very tempting since it’s not normally an option at all.

Age of the Muck Dwellers - Year 1
After founding the great city of Kli’itl-Tilp’diilb’p, the Kuo-Toa mine gems, expand their city to house the new tadpoles, and then decide to send an expedition way down river in search of additional mineral wealth. Traces of Mithral in the rocks along the river shore encourage them to create a new colony with it’s own tadpole pool.

Age of the Muck Dwellers - Year 2
The mining colony of Dwib’ilb’p is coming along swimmingly.

Age of the Muck Dwellers - Year 3
Kli’itl-Tilp’diilb’p builds the Tomb of the First Smolt, to house the named treasure “The Silvery Shoal of Squish’blip’itl.
Dwib’ilb’p expands and mines further.
Bloop’itl, the spa and breeding colony is founded half-way between the city and the first colony. A breeding pond is built over an active geothermal hotspot.

Age of the Muck Dwellers - Year 4
Chambers of Secrets built. I may have forgotten to mine this year.

Age of the Muck Dwellers - Year 5
Kli’itl-Tilp’diilb’p has the population to split, but there’s no water-routes to anywhere it could expand. Luckily, Dwib’ilb’p still has unmined minerals, and that keeps Kli’itl-Tilp’diilb’p from growing stagnant.
Dwib’ilb’p expands and mines further (including making up for forgetting to adjust the mines last year). They dig a new habitat room, and it floods a natural cave.
Bloop’itl builds an exploratory shaft, and a Temple to Mother Hydra. The treasure within the Temple is the Jellyfish Cauldron.

Age of the Muck Dwellers - Year 6
Dwib’ilb’p’s expansion unleashes a horrible Dinosaur in an old cavern. Despite these losses, the civilization continues to grow.
Kli’itl-Tilp’diilb’p builds a temple to Father Dagon. The treasure there is the Stingray Sceptre.
Bloop’itl tries to expand upon the greatness of Temple to Mother Hydra, and they break through to the surface! The great burning orb in the sky is a dire omen, so they abandon their city and its colonies in search of safer depths.

Great Disaster
All we get is new caves (my roll transferred me to the Primordial Events chart). Yet another Primordial Beast (but this one’s a Sea Monster), and a very dangerous Plague 4 cave right near the surface! There’s also some water caves that caused flooding, and a tunnel cave that goes right over (and thus fills with) magma. With this and the Kuo-Toa orphans (tadpoles left behind in the escape) we have a total of 7 wandering monsters on the map before we even get to the Age of Monsters. 

Age of Monsters: Set-Up
Auglire Keep is Built

Lithonids (Delvers, Lawful, 50% to create treasure when they die.)  5x11 = Chambers of Secrets
Crabmen (Breeders, Chaotic, No Special Rules)  3x5 = flooded tunnel-cave in lower left
Giant Octopus (Alpha, Hungry, Aquatic) 10x3 = Just above the wandering Sea Monster. It will eat it, and then start raiding the castle pretty soon.

NOTE: At this point (half way into year 1 of the Age of Monsters), I took over 6 months (of real-life time) off from the game, and a lot of crazy stuff went on in my life to thoroughly distract me. So I’ve probably forgotten a few details of what transpired and how it all works. We’ll test whether or not my notes are enough to finish this map/game.

Placing the Lithonids (delvers created by a contributor to the HTHAD wiki), I decide (since the wiki description vaguely implies they are rock monsters with gem-covered hides) that I will use the rainbow “Gems” treasure tokens I’d created back on the Primordial Age to be the Lithonids’ treasures (including the ones they sometimes turn into when they die). That lead me to rainbow population tokens, and a translucent rainbow underlay to mark their areas of the map.

Crabmen dig grottos in one of the old deep water fissures, expanding it out into a very organic shape.

Giant Octopus is named Eight-Death by the locals of Auglire. In his own tongue, he is named Chlughpligth.

AoM Year 2:
The new arrival is wandering Ankhengs, and I give them fairly long wormy tunnel lairs, following the path of structures from deeper strata. There are a LOT of wandering monsters on the map right now, but I imagine they’ll clear each other out fairly soon.

Humans build a little terrace farm.

Primordial Beasts (and Sea Monster) do nothing, because I roll a “3” four times in a row.

Kuo-Toan Orphans wander a bit. Some engage in Mutual Assured Destruction with an Ankheng. Others merely explore the breeding ponds of their ancestors.

Lithonids engage in tunneling. They don’t quite have the range to get to any treasure this turn, so they convert an old cave system into a staging area for next year’s mining efforts after either gems or mithral. In retrospect, they probably could have reached the Tomb of the First Smolt this turn instead, but I didn’t think to do so until after I’d drawn in and colorized their new area.

Crabmen numbers bolster, and they spread out. Since there’s only one path available to them, they dig a little. Eventually they run into Primordial Beasts, and the number of Crabmen drops back down to sustainable levels.

Eight-Death strangles and devours the nameless primordial sea monster.

Surviving Ankhengs stay in their lairs.

AoM Year 3:
New Arrivals = Party of 2 Adventurers

One Primordial Beast wants to wander, but can’t because there are no exits from his cave. Had the other one wandered it would have opened up old tunnels and probably died to plague.

Kuo-Toans sit tight. Perhaps they really liked the breeding pool. While they don’t have a Zone of Control, it’s still work drawing back in some of the areas near where they’ve wandered.

Surface Kingdoms continue to build their numbers in the castle, and establish a small fishing village (mechanically identical to a farm) in the bay below Fort Auglire. They have enough population, but not yet enough infrastructure, to launch an expedition.

The Lithonids extend a tunnel to the primordial gem deposit, which is sacred to their kind.

Crabmen numbers expand uneventfully.

Eight-Death sends an exploratory tentacle into the fishing village, and comes back with a tasty morsel.

Ankheng in the old Temple of Mother Hydra becomes agitated and digs to the surface. It raids Fort Auglire itself, and is put down after causing much carnage.

Two human adventurers arrive on the island to brave the tunnel from which the Ankheng had emerged. They wander about in the twisting tunnels of the beast’s lair and the ruins of the old Temple of Mother Hydra for some time. They find the Jellyfish Cauldron of the ancient temple and haul it out a seaside cave, only to be set upon by Eight-Death. Both adventurers die, and all the treasure sinks to the bottom of the bay. (When you end up with really convoluted tunnels, the random navigation of adventurers and monster groups can get a little tricky. Adding the water/island situation to the map made that even more complex, but I’m pleased with the result.)

T1 = The Silvery Shoal of Squish’blip’itl  (Kuo-Toa)
T2 = Jellyfish Cauldron (Kuo-Toa)
T3 = Stingray Sceptre

And that's all I wrote. After that, I wandered like a monster off the edge of the map. I've still got the master map file so it's a little tempting to take a third stab at it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Trailblazing Mission 14

This is a step-by-step breakdown of the fourteenth Campaign Turn in my Five Parsecs From Home campaign. This mission was my first after purchasing the new Trailblazers Toolkit expansion, so it has a number of new twists and turns, like Enemy Deployment Variables and the Escalating Battle mechanics.

Crew names below are often abbreviated "G" to "M", as explained in: Crew Roster, which also tells you about my team and a bit about their ship. See also the Index of my Five Parsecs articles for a list of previous Missions and other content.

1.1 Flee Invasion: - n/a

1.2 Decide Whether to Travel: - I briefly flirt with the idea of flying back to Aceso Menrva Prime, the planet I started the Campaign on. It was a Medical World, so the cost of Recovery is cheaper on that planet, and with a lucky roll on my Cargo Bay and Hidden Compartment, the voyage might actually subsidize the early return of my badly wounded K'Erin soldier. However, that was also the world that Leonidas loves so much he's tempted to abandon the crew and stay behind. So the bad result if my cargo hold fails would be spending 1/3 of my savings on fuel, leaving me too cash-poor to Recover fully this round despite the discount, and then also having to dump a Story Point to not lose another character when I leave. That's just not a good gamble.

1.3 Starship Travel Event: - n/a

1.4 New World Arrival Steps: - n/a

1.5 Gain 1 story point if it's turn 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, etc. - no

2.1 Upkeep and Ship Repairs: -
Crew Upkeep - 1    Ship Debt - 0    Ship Repairs - 0    Medical Care - 0

H'Xex, my K'Erin soldier, is still in Sick Bay. Getting him out this Turn would cost 12 of my 14 Credits, so I hold off for another Turn at least.

2.2 Assign and Resolve Crew Tasks: -
Find a Patron -    Train - J    Trade - K,G    Recruit -     Explore - I, L    Track -    Repair Your Kit - M    Decoy -

Noteworthy results from Tasks: -

Kid trades for Tourist Garbage, but it's actually worth a Story Point (bringing me back up to 7). I'm picturing a set of "Soup Goggles", kitschy steampunky eyewear with moving wiper-blades and some sort of awful joke about the local fog printed on the frames.

GcViib trades for Spare Parts. Very sensible.

Inshubur and Leonidas go out for drinks at a little dive bar called Ripped. Between the name, and the tables and chairs all being oversized plasteel models, bolted to the floor, we should have known not to drink too heavily here. Leonidas gets a little tipsy, and starts a fight, adding new Rivals to our roster.  It's a Hulker Gang. 7-foot slabs of roid-rage and laced muscle. That's not good.

Moreva fixes the Damaged Military Rifle.

2.3 Determine Job Offers: - No new ones this Turn, but we've an existing Quest and an existing Patron Mission with no expiration date.

2.4 Assign Equipment: - From his sickbed, H'Xex installs a Unity Battle Sight on his Shotgun.

2.5 Resolve Rumors: - n/a

2.6 Choose Your Battle -  We head out to to chase after this promising lead on a Quest for something called "The Xanthous Soul from the 5th Dimension"... but we weren't expecting Rivals to intefere!

Juniper's away at the final for her Security License. Everyone else is going to meet with a contact who has info on our Quest, but the Salvage Team "Kharon & Vanth Towing & Salvage" attacks us at the scheduled meet before our connection can get in the door.


Deployment Conditions:  -  Small encounter: A random crew member must sit out this fight. Reduce enemy numbers by -1 (-2 if they initially outnumber you)  Random crew member absent is: Juniper

Planetary Condition: - Planet-Wide Fog - All shots beyond 8" are -1 to Hit.

Notable Sights:  -  Person of interest: Gain +1 story point.

Objective: -  Rival Mission: Assault: Add one additional enemy figure. Your crew must all set up in or adjacent to a building. If you fail to Hold the Field, you will lose 1D3 credits. If you flee from the battle before 4 rounds are up, a random crew member will also lose a random item of equipment carried in your flight.

Enemy Type: - Interested Parties            Enemy SubType: - Salvage Team

Numbers: +1    Panic: 1-3     Speed: 4”     Combat: +0     Tough: 4     AI: C     Weapons: 2B

Interested Parties: Add +1 when rolling for Unique Individuals. 

Scavengers: Roll twice on the Battlefield Finds Table.

1 regulars with Colony Rifles,

1 veteran regular with Colony Rifle and Combat +1

1 specialist with Combat +1, AutoRifle,

1 LT. with Combat +1, Armor 5+, Colony Rifle, Blade,

1 Unique Freelancer w/ Luck 1, Combat +1, Hand-Cannon, Blade

 Speed: 4”     Combat: +1     Tough: 4    Luck: 1  AI: T  

Freelancer: If the freelancer is slain in a Brawl, you may roll on the Loot Table (p.131) and claim the item for use immediately.

Deployment - We are meeting our connection in a restaurant in one of the larger domed cities on Tiresias-3. The dome reduces the atmospheric pressure, but doesn't prevent the fog.

Deploy Enemies -  They set up at the North end of the map. I put their leadership in the nice luxury suite, and the specialist and veteran in the hallway between some cheaper rooms. I put the Freelancer in the suite as well, but technically set up as third group because his AI is different.

Deploy PCs
- Per the Rival Assault directive, all my people start inside one building. Inshubur, Leonidas, Moreva and The Kid are sitting at a table, waiting for our connection. Our bot, GcViib, is watching the door. They don't serve her kind here, anyway.

(H'Xex is in sickbay, and Juniper is taking her Security Exam, so we've only got 5 PCs.)

Notable Sight - The Person of Interest we're hoping to meet up is in a narrow hall in the adjoining hotel. It's a good roll that put him so deep into our side of the map, but unfortunately, there's only one route to him, and it will involve running around in the open to get over there.

Seize the Initiative: Failed by 1. Exactly the amount that Juniper's Security Training would have raised our roll. If only she were here.

Since we failed, it triggers the Enemy Deployment Variables - These are per page 32 of Trailblazers Toolkit - This is my first time using this new expansion!   The Enemy Deployment Variables chart is broken up by AI type. The Salvage Crew are Cautious, but the Freelancer they brought with them is Tactical. I decide to roll on the Tactical chart, seeing as how they hired a strategist (and mostly because the Tactical chart has more options on it).

Initial Deployment, before the Infiltration result

62: Infiltration!   This tells me to pick up half the enemy models off the table, and then at the end of round 2 they'll all be placed on the map in a randomly determined location. This probably works to my advantage, as I'll be able to fight 5-on-2 for two rounds, but if they spring up someplace inconvenient it might get real exciting all of a sudden.

Also, since it sounds like this means the first two Rounds not much is going to be happening, I dip into Appendix VII and VIII of the rules to introduce some Bystanders. Two of them are restaurant guests or who won't be moving initially, and the other 6 are following basic Bystander rules. They move 3" per Round in a straight line, changing directions if they bump in to anything. If fighting happens near them, then run 1d6" away from it at the end of the turn.

Round 1:
-  We get a call from our contact. He's nearby, but scared. Kharun & Vanth Salvage & Towing have been nosing around his operation, and he's pretty sure they'll resort to violence to keep us from pursuing our quest. This is news to us, we only briefly interacted with them in spacedock the day we arrived on Tiresias-3, and had no idea that we'd offended them. We tell our guy to sit tight, and we'll send a couple people over to escort him.

Quick Actions -  Inshubur and Moreva head out to meet up with the contact. GcViib goes on overwatch in the doorway.

Enemy Actions - Bad guys move up, but don't have Line of Sight yet.

Slow Actions - The rest of my crew get up from their lunch.

Civilian Bystander Actions - Bystanders move around. Waitstaff tries to get past my Crew and can't. One bystander out in the plaza opens a door, see's a dude with a gun, and moves 1" in a random direction instead.

Panic Test - None yet.

Escalating Battles per page 34 of Trailblazers Toolkit -  Two of the triggers are active (no fighting, and I outnumber the Enemy on Turn 1).  I roll: Fighting Intensifies. +1 Combat Skill on a Salvage Crew guy.

Round 2: -

Quick - Inshubur and Moreva move forward.

Surprise! They've infiltrated to the middle of the map.

Enemy - The Intensified Salvage crew moves out and shoots at Inshubur, stunning her.

The specialist with the Autorifle backtracks, because he doesn't have enough movement to get around the civilian. Even if he Dashed, he'd be left standing in the open, less than 12" from my Crew, so that's a big no-no for his Cautious AI type.

Slow -At the sound of gunfire, the Kid and Leonidas rush outside, but can't see any enemies yet.

Civilian Bystander Actions - The bystander who was just outside of the line of fire panics, and just staggers forward looking around to see what the heck that was (He only rolls a 1" for movement.)

The bystander who just saw a dude with a gun in the hallway turns to walk away, only to see Inshubur running for cover as bullets ricochet across the plaza. They bail (5" movement off the edge of the board.)

The other Bystanders move their normal 3" in their existing facing. They heard something that sounded like a gunshot, but it's just one so far, and they haven't seen anything scary. They'll freak out next Round.

Panic Test - none
Escalating Battles per page 34 of Trailblazers Toolkit - Checking the list of triggers, I see that no roll happens this Round.

Infiltration! Per Enemy Deployment Variables, I place the hidden Salvage Regular, Salvage LT, and Freelancer on the map in a random location.  I roll "the terrain feature closest to the center of the table".  That might be really bad, as Inshubur is out in the open very close to the center of the table. Doors burst open, and armed gunmen appear!

Roll for Battle Events between Round 2 and 3 - 51: "Clock is running out: At the end of the next round and each round thereafter, roll 1D6. On a 6, the game ends immediately, and you are unable to complete any objectives. You will not count as Holding the Field unless you clear the table of enemies before this happens."   Gunshots fired in a public place, so that's probably how long we have before the cops show up.

Round 3
: - Quick - Inshubur is stunned, so she can either stand there and get murdered, or she can run for it and not attack this Round. I've raised her Speed stat with XP a couple times, so she can move 7". Better part of valor and all that.

The Kid moves up into cover behind the big glowing data terminal, but misses his shot.

Moreva takes shelter behind a corner, and launches hot plasma death at the Freelancer. His armor saves him, and he falls back. The doors close automatically behind him.

Enemy - The first Salvage Crew to fire is in a weird position now. His target has run away, and he can't acquire a new one without either getting very close to us, or standing out in the open, both of which aren't great for Cautious AI. So I break out the new AI Variations chart, and roll for his action. A "2" tells me that he just sits tight.

His buddy with the autorifle doubles back again. In his case, "cautious" and "indecisive" look about the same.

The other Salvager and his LT both miss The Kid.

The Freelancer shakes off his stun. He's not adjacent to the door, so he can't see or be seen by people outside. Since he's stunned, if he moves he can't shoot, so his best bet it to just sit tight.

Slow - Our bot misses the LT. Leonidas dashes up to cover our West flank.

Civilian Bystander Actions - The most panicked civilian is basically surrounded, so I roll a random direction and distance for his move. 2" North. The others make more sensible flight towards the nearest table edge. The ones in the restaurant all roll low, and hunker down behind tale

Panic Test - None yet, except for civilians.
Escalating Battles per page 34 of Trailblazers Toolkit - Nothing triggered this Round

Clock is Running Out test - rolled a "2" so the cops aren't here yet.

Round 4: -

Quick - Inshubur shouts at our contact "Wait here, I'll be right back!" and then charges back out into danger, because that stunned Freelancer seems like he might be vulnerable at the moment. Unfortunately, he rolls a natural 6 for a total of 9. Inshubur rerolls with her Elegant Boarding Saber, and she doesn't get a natural 6 but her higher Combat Skill means she does tie his total of 9. She's looking at taking 2 hits and only dealing out 1.  Seems like a good moment for a Story Point! He was looking down and checking that his clothes weren't on plasma fire from the previous hit at the exact moment when Inshubur burst in.  The story point rerolls his attack, and it comes up as an 8 total. He's knocked back an inch and stunned again. I consider throwing a second story point into my natural "1" on the damage roll, but since he has Luck, I'm probably actually better off leaving it be. Ugh. I probably should have just had her go make the connection instead of charge.

The Kid drops one of the Salvage Crew with his Tracker-Sight-assisted Infantry Laser.

Enemy Phase - The surviving normal Salvage Crew shoots at Inshubur in the doorway, but misses.

The enemy LT shoots at The Kid. Inshubur is closer, but he'd have to leave cover to get LOS to her, and since he's "Cautious" that's not happening. Either way, his shot goes wide.

The autorifle specialist pops his gun out the doorway on our left flank, and has a really good wide-open shot at Moreva. He only scores one hit, so I throw a story point at it. GcViib warns her "Hostile detected!"

Unfortunately, the rerolled shot is a "6". Instead of ducking, she looks over her shoulder at our bot and shouts "Where?" The damage roll, however, is mercifully a "1". The impact on her armor merely knocks the wind out of her. Next time, shout "duck!".

Freelancer shrugs off the stun and opens up with his Hand-Cannon. Using her Luck, Inshubur dives past him to survive.

Slow - Moreva fires back at the Specialist, and drives him back. Leonidas rushes forward and opens up, but the door provides cover and he misses with both shots. This could get ugly.

GcViib misses the LT.

Civilian Bystander Actions - 4 of the civilians escape the board, but a few others roll low. The restaurant host and the two guys out in the open are probably crawling at this point.

Panic Test - One of the bad guys panics and runs. It makes sense for it to be the regular guy who doesn't currently have line-of-sight to the enemy, but can see all the firepower we're blasting into the room where his boss is trapped.
Escalating Battles roll #2 comes up 22: Reinforcements! From the right edge of the map 2 more Salvage Crew and a 1 Specialist show up. That's not great.

Roll for Battle Events between Round 4 and 5: 50: Possible Reinforcements! Place 3 markers on the Enemy Table Edge. Each turn one of these chosen at random will either be removed, or be replaced by another enemy.

Clock is Running Out test - "1", so we've got at least another turn.

Round 5: -

Quick - Inshubur opens up with the Plasma Rifle at point-blank. The Freelancer spends his Luck to prevent the first killshot, but because we're in a tiny contained space he can't escape the second hit. I would have preferred to beat him in a brawl for the bonus Freelancer loot, but things were getting dangerous so the Indiana Jones moment was a necessity.

The Kid stuns the LT.

Enemy - AutoRifle stuns Leonidas.

The LT misses the Kid.

One of last turn's reinforcements moves to a doorway and misses the Kid. The other two advance and take cover behind the doors of storage bins, but can't line up a shot.

One of the Possible Reinforcements from the Battle Event is determined to be nothing.

Slow - Leonidas returns fire lethally. X out the specialist.

Moreva moves and shoots. Because of the Planet-Wide Fog she only scores a single hit, stunning the Salvage Specialist reinforcement. As much as I'd like to discount that for the mission being indoors, I think we've definitely shot up the mall enough for the fog to be pouring in.

Civilian Bystander Actions - All but two of them are off the board, and those 2 have finally started running, not crawling.

Panic Test - One of this turn's reinforcements nopes right out.
The third and final Escalating Battles roll is "81: Unconventional Tactics."

Clock is Running Out test - another "1", so we've got at least another turn.

Round 6: - Quick - Unconventional Tactics means all my characters are Reactions = 1 this turn. I only roll a single "1" and I give it to Leonidas, and he promptly misses.

Enemy - LT misses The Kid. Salvage Crew misses Leonidas. Specialist sits tight and shakes off the stun.

The second of the Possible Reinforcements from the Battle Event is determined to be nothing.

Slow - Kid stuns the LT again. Then Inshubur rushes over to blast him twice from point-blank.

Moreva advances.

Civilian Bystander Actions - Another one leaves the map.

Panic Test - Passed.

Clock is Running Out test - Not this turn.

Round 7: - Quick - An absolutely stellar initiative roll sees all my characters advance before any of the enemies act.. Unfortunately, they also all either miss, or fail to line up a shot in the first place.

Enemy - Salvage Crew misses the Kid.

Specialist puts a round in GcViib, and my bot goes down.

Civilian Bystander Actions - The last civilian flees off the East end of the map.

Panic Test - None to make this Turn.

Clock is Running Out test - I roll a "6", so that would end it. But I think I've got the win here, and should be able to score another Story Point in Round 8, so, what the heck, I spend a Story Point to force a reroll. It's a "3" so we're on. 

Key: Green lines are controlled and intentional PC movement. Yellow lines are fleeing or knockback. Purple and blue lines are neutral NPCs moving sensibly. Red lines are the advance of the enemy.

Round 8: - Quick - Inshubur runs over to our connection, and scores the bonus Story Point.

In the end, we hold the battlefield.

The Kid moves up and blasts the last Salvage Crew.

Moreva takes a risky move, but rolls well, and the last Salvage Specialist goes down. The mission is over!

Enemy -  ... And then I realize I forgot to roll for the last Possible Reinforcement marker  last Round. If I'd remembered that, it's unclear if I would have spent the Story Point, but, oh well. I roll for it now, and get a "5", so it turns into an bonafide enemy. +1 Salvage Crew. Dang it. He advances.

Slow Phase - Leonidas dashes to the West, to get closer to the reinforcement without blocking the approach for my other characters.

Civilian Bystander Actions - Our contact leaves the map alive.

Panic Test - Thankfully, I roll a "1" and the new reinforcement bails.
Clock is Running Out test - Mission over for real, so I don't have to roll.


That battle was a bit of a slog, but the slow pacing was mostly self-inflicted.

I put those bystanders on the map without thinking much about them. They were from the "GMing" section, which I had initially overlooked in the Five Parsecs core rules, because I'd incorrectly assumed it was for a multiplayer variant. Adding them to the mission wasn't a bad idea, necessarily, but I didn't implement it well. The idea is that they're a form of moving terrain, like what I'd done with the cars in some of my other missions. So, like the cars, I started them near the edge of the map. That's what the mistake was. Starting near the edges meant they didn't have much impact, as they never blocked line of sight, and only really impacted movement in 2 out of 8 Rounds. But there were 8 of them, with random movement, so they really slowed things down. If I use them again, it would be better to place a smaller number of them, but put them in one or two clusters near the middle of the map, where they're more likely to get in the way.

The other new stuff this mission were the Enemy Deployment Variables and Escalating Battles mechanics from the new Trailblazer's Toolkit.

The Enemy Deployment Variables were really cool, and had a neat ambush mechanic that definitely transformed the fight. That was a solid improvement, and I will happily use them again.

The variable did sort of contribute to the slow pacing... but again that was also largely self-inflicted. I tried roleplaying the opening Rounds a bit too much. There were a number of factors that contributed to this decision, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but wasn't the best call in hindsight: 1) Half the Enemy were hidden on Round 1, so it made me a little cautious.  2) This was a Rival Battle, rather than a Mission where my team were the aggressors, and I was trying to make that meaningful. So when the Enemy didn't reach me on Round 1, it felt weird to rush towards them.  3) The particular map I was using had a restaurant or cafeteria section, so it seemed interesting to put all my people there at the start. This was flavorful, but it also meant that the entrance to the dining hall was a choke point that delayed movement and action. If I'd followed normal deployment rules for my Crew,  and spread them out to my benefit, the action would have gotten going sooner.

I'm not sure yet what I think about the Escalating Battles rules. They seem a little fiddly to me. There's an older document for the 2nd Edition of the game which includes rules for "Enemy Ploys", and I'd used that for several recent games. It feels like Enemy Deployment Variables and Escalating Battles are sort of like two different "advanced" versions of the Ploy system.  I don't want to pass judgment just yet, having only played once with the new versions, but thus far, I think the Ploys may have been better? They were certainly easier to implement, as the Ploys were just a single die roll at the end of every Round, and you'd stop rolling after the first time one triggered in any given Mission. Easy to remember and track. With the escalating battles you don't necessarily roll every Round, and then when you do roll, you keep checking once every Round until you've rolled 3 times. It may well be that you'll eventually memorize what triggers the roll, and will be faster when that's internalized. In this session, I had to look up in 6 different Rounds how to know if they were triggered, and when the third roll happened I also had to flip back through my log to double-check that it was indeed the third and final roll. I went from being excited about the Escalating Battles mechanic before play, to finding it kind of a pain in the butt in actual practice... but again, maybe you just have to fight past the learning curve to get to the good stuff. Escalating Battles definitely adds surprises, and it's less predictable than the Ploy mechanic, so this new system may actually be preferable in a long campaign. I don't know yet.

There was one very small rules hole in regards to both the Enemy Deployment Variables and the Escalating Battles. The charts are broken out by AI type. Usually you're facing enemies with just a single AI type, so it's obvious which column of the chart to roll on. However, it's also possible to have a Unique Individual on the board with a different AI type... so which column do you use then? It's also possible to roll up the Battle Event "Change of Plans" which changes the AI type of every Enemy with a ranged weapon. Usually that means all the Enemies change plans, but sometimes you'll have specialists who are armed with just a Power Claw, and are thus unchanged. In theory, you could have a board with three or more different AI types, though that would be incredibly rare. (Requiring a Unique character, a specialist a Power Claw, and the Change of Plans roll all in one Mission.) I think if which column to roll on is ever unclear again, I'm going to just rule that I always roll on the column for the AI type of the regular Enemy at the start of the battle, not characters nor AI modifiers applied during the battle.

It's also possible that maybe I just overloaded the Mission with two many variables, and would have enjoyed them more if I'd just plugged in one new option at a time. I'll have to keep an eye open for that.


4.1 Resolve Rival Status: - "Kharon & Vanth Towing & Salvage" decides they've had enough, and won't mess with me again.

4.2 Resolve Patron Status: - n/a

4.3 Determine Quest Progress: - Technically this doesn't change our Quest status. Narratively, we made our connection, who handed over to Inshubur the drive they had on the mysterious "Xanthous Soul from the 5th Dimension".

4.4 Get Paid and Benefits of Success: -  4 Credits (bringing our stash up to 18 credits)

Planetary Condition - Booming Economy - When rolling for post-battle credit rewards, any 1 on the dice are rerolled until it shows a score other than a 1. (This happened, my first roll was a "1", and the reroll was a "4".)

We held the field, so we do NOT suffer the potential fleeing penalty from a Rival Assault.

4.5 Battlefield Finds: The Salvage Crew were Scavengers: Roll twice on the Battlefield Finds Table.

I roll the same number twice in a row, so we find: 2x Starship part: Redeemable as equivalent to 2 credits only when installing a Starship Component (see page 60).

4.6 Check for Invasion!: - n/a

4.7 Gather the Loot: - Communicator: When making the Reaction roll each round, you may roll one additional die, then choose a die to discard.

Because Inshubur had to shoot him instead of best him in a brawl, we do NOT get an extra Loot for defeating the Freelancer.

4.8 Determine Injuries and Recovery: - I roll on the Bot Injury Table for GcViib, and get a 90: Just A Few Dents, no long-term effect.

4.9 Experience and Character Upgrades:  G.0 H.0 I.4 J.0 K.5 L.3 M.3   - First Kill: - K    Rookie: K   Killed the Freelancer: I

Inshubur raises Toughness to 5.  Leonidas raises Combat Skill to 3.

4.10 Invest in Advanced Training: - Not this Turn.

4.11 Purchase Items: - Sell our Military Rifle for 1 Credit

4.12 Campaign Event: - "In hindsight, it’ll make a great story. Select a crew member who was a casualty last battle. They receive +1 Luck. If nobody got hurt, receive +1 story point instead."  Somebody did get hurt, but it's our bot, and bots can't gain Luck... so we'll take the Story Point.

4.13 Character Event: -  Juniper picks up an unusual hobby. Earn +1 story point and the character talks about it constantly. She recently unlocked the "Security Training" advanced ability, which helps with deployment and avoiding ambushes,  so I think she's probably read up on a ton of military history, and just become the biggest history nerd ever. She's constantly sharing military trivia and assessing the tactical situations of every day life.

4.14 Check for Galactic War Progress: - n/a

4.15 Tick Story Clock: - 4

Monday, August 23, 2021

Unearthing a Dwarven Civilization

 I was thinking of playing around with How To Host A Dungeon this evening, and thought I'd put together an index of my HTHAD posts. (Click here for Index of How To Host A Dungeon articles.) In gathering those articles up, I realized, I've actually posted to this blog less than half of my HTHAD maps over the years.

So let's unearth one. This is, I believe, the first one I ever did on the computer. I have a few older paper maps floating around my gaming room somewhere, but this is the first digital one. It was sort of a proof-of-concept to see if it was worth trying to do them digitally. It was. And as it turns out, I took notes while I played, so I can paste those in here to go with the maps. The notes will be rough, as they date back to roughly 2014. It's from the 1st Edition of How To Host A Dungeon.

Light-colored circles with a large "T" on them are treasures. Darker circles with other letters on them are the population tokens of various races, such as "D" for Dwarf. The numbers on the edges of the first map were used as coordinates for placing things randomly.

Primordial Age:
Sorquoorm the Ancient Wyrm, w/ Treasure: “The Root of the World” - P2, steals Treasure.
Imps (Itinerant Wizard Wandering Monsters) w/ Treasures - The Trilogy of Immortality

Dwarven Age:
Year 1:
Year 2:  Workshops built.  One imp moves north.
Year 3: Great Hall with Dormsturl, the Gong of Endless Charisma
Year 4:  Exploratory Shaft
Year 5: Expansions to the Great Hall
Year 6: Hall of Records with Dromrune, The Codex of Magma Aura
Year 7: Founding of the City of Himboldihr, most of population moves into it. Create an amazing drilling tool, Nagundond. Imps move a bunch, and two of them join together
Year 8: Treasure Chamber. Nisbrund The Device of Transform Gold.  Visgund Gear of Control Gold.

Age of Monsters:
Brancheley Keep Humans
Yarplikk Molenn - Derro (Delvers, Law)
Grobgash - Cave Giants (Breeders, Chaos, x2 Strength)
Cadro Bazius the Devourer - Dragon (Alpha, Chaos, +2 Strength, Doesn’t spend Treasure)

Year 1:
Dimensional Gate opens in Himboldihr. 2 Djinn arrive. One carries Doomed Box. Other carries Dreamer’s Lamp.
Sorquoorm eats an Imp and steals one third of the Trilogy of Immortality.
Other imps stay put.
Grobgash loot the Gong.
Yarplikk Molenn expanded down the hall.
Cadro Bazius attacks the Giants, and they bribe him off with normal treasure.

Year 2:
Mimick appears in the Treasure Vault.
Sorquoom eats an Imp, but can’t take its treasure because the other imp survives.
Imp tries to run and hide, but chooses a poor direction.
Yarplikk expand to surface. Build a tower and a wall.
Grobgash Giants bribe Cadro with the Gong. This is bad for them because it's Cadro Bazius attacks the Yarplikk Molenn, and they drive him off. He moves his lair down to the huge old dwarven mine level. He leaves behind the mundane treasures the cave giants had given him, but take the gong, his talisman, and his own cash.
Djinn and Mimick stay put.

Year 3:
Adalod’s Mining Company (Human Miners)
Sarquoom eats the last Imp. Steals a chapter of the Trilogy of Immortality. Reveals that the imps had been protecting the Statue of the All-Seeing Eye.
Yarplikk expands out and captures a farm.
Giants kills a mimic, don’t lose any. Population stays stable.
Cadro Bazius eats a Djinn.
Other Djinn chases the Dragon, and dies. It’s like a food and treasure delivery service.
Adalod’s company starts exploring a mine

Year 4:
Wandering Monsters - Duldrok, Kroddrock, and Shuzdrok. Sorquoom drives them out of his lair, and then dies from the wounds they inflicted.
Brancheley Keep builds a farm.
Yarplikk expands into Cave Giants, loses the war, loses their last treasure, and abandons the colony.
Grobgash siezes mimick treasure. They give that treasure to Cadro Bazius, so it is bribed and doesn’t attack them.

Age of Villainy:
Cadro Bazius becomes the Villain. He expands his lair a bit, builds a temple of chaos, and a hoard, and four defensive works.

Villainy Year 1:
Cadro Bazius digs into old Dwarven Vault, kills mimick, claims all three treasures (including Nisbrund and Visgund). Goes foraging, and finds Dromrune.
Surface Humans reclaim the Farm the Derro had taken before.
Grobgash expands, outgrows its resources, and splits. The new clan is Grobghug, which expands into a cave on the far side of Cadro’s territory. Then Grobgash tries to bribe Cadro Bazius again, and fail. They fight him, and the dragon devours them.
Trolls stay put.
Grobghug expands a short distance from their starting cave.
Adventuring Party of 6 enters via the unexplored earthquake shaft. They side-step the mimick. They slaughter Grobghug. They discover Secret Stairs to the old Dwarven Vault. That’s how the Giants of Grobghug made the journey around the Dragon’s lair.
Adventuring Party heads to the trolls. Kills them around their Cauldron of Bones.
Adventuring Party encounters Adalod’s Mining Company, who hires them to kill the mimick. They do so, and are rewarded with the first chapter of the Trilogy of Immortality.
Adventuring Party finds the rest of Sarquoom’s treasures in the Halls of Decay. Then they attack Cadro Bazius, breaking in via the Temple of Chaos gate. He kills all but one of them, who escapes with most of the treasure, including all three parts of the Trilogy of Immortality. So he’s still alive somewhere.
Cadro Bazius finds the Root of the World among the bodies of the Adventurers.

Ready for Year 2 of the Age of Villainy.

T1: The Root of the World  (Sorquoorm)
T2-4: Trilogy of Immortality (Imps)
T5: Dormsturl, the Gong of Endless Charisma
T6: Dromrune, the Codex of Magma Aura
T7: Nagundond, the Eternal Tool of Gold Gush
T8: Nisbrund, the Device of Transform Gold
T9: Visgund, the Gear of Control Gold
T10: The Thinker’s Talisman
T11: The Dreamer’s Lamp
T12: The Doomed Box

That's where my notes end, and it's the last picture I saved. So it kind of looks like I never finished the map. It's also possible that the first roll of the 2nd Turn of the Age of Villain brought it all to an end and I just wrapped up without making a note of the result. The game does tend to end suddenly. 

Looking back on this map, one thing I will comment on is the blue areas. They're not flooded or anything, I think I was just marking civilizations or territory controlled by the initial Dwarven civilization, or the later Derro monster group. I then reverted them to the tan/orange color for empty passageways that were no longer under the control of those groups... though I'm not sure whey the secret stairs were in blue, since the Dwarves should have been long-dead at that point, or why the Derro areas are still blue-ish when they don't have any population tokens left on the map. I was probably just being sloppy because I had no idea that future me would blog this stuff 7 years later.

Monday, August 16, 2021

5 Parsecs alternate XP / Ability Increase table

Lately, I've been playing a lot of Five Parsecs From Home, and really loving it. One thing I've decided to house-rule about it is the rate of Ability Increase from XP spends. 

In my opinion, the system in the main rulebook is a little too kind to the player. It lets you unlock upgrades very fast, nearly every session. That rapid upgrade rate is great early on when your characters are using scrap pistols and pointy sticks and you need every advantage you can get. Before long, you'll end up in a situation where your team only misses on natural 1's, and after a while the play balance starts to take a hit from it. That's not in any way on knock on the game, or it's designer. Balancing co-op games is really tricky, especially when they have as much proceduraly-generated content as 5 Parsecs does. It's impossibly difficult to account for every situation that can come up in game, so you have to thread the needle between such-an-easy-cake-walk and so-hard-you're-not-having-fun-anymore. 

Fortunately, the first expansion was just released, the Trailblazers Toolkit, which has a ton of great options for adjusting difficulty as you level up. It's an amazing supplement to the game. 5 Parsecs is great right out of the main book, but this expansion goes a long way towards keeping the game exciting, fresh, and tense even repeated play with an ever-improving Crew of PCs. If you're 5 or 10 games in and starting to find it too easy, grab this expansion and adjust the knobs it provides.

Among the many optional changes the new Trailblazers Toolkit proposes is a new XP chart. This does two things.

1) it increases the cost of Reactions, Combat Skill, and Toughness by a point or two each, to slightly slow down the rate of increase in 3 of the 4 most important stats.

2) It lowers the maximum rating of most stats, so you can't get to the stage where you obliterate the opposition without trying.

These are both good changes, but I think they actually introduce a small problem for the longer-running campaign: that you can reach a point fairly quickly where all your characters have the identical maxed stats. 

Assuming you've had good luck, with relatively few long-term injuries, it only takes maybe 15 or 16 missions to get a most characters to the point where their Reactions, Combat Skill, Toughness (and Luck, if they aren't human) are all maxed out. That leaves Speed and Savvy, which have higher maximums, as the only stats you're spending on for a fairly long stretch of a campaign. There is the Advanced Training abilities, but you're limited to 1 of those per PC, and can be purchased with Credits or XP, so that's only a few more sessions tops. 

Now, this wouldn't be a problem if campaign length were intended to only be about 20 Missions or so... but it's definitely intended to go longer. Campaign Victory Conditions range from "Play 20 Campaign Turns" at the easiest benchmark, all the way up to "Win 100 Tabletop Battles", so at the longer 2/3rds of that spectrum you've hit a plateau and are basically not doing anything with XP any more. 

There's also the optional Story Track campaign narrative, which means you're unlocking the next chapter of the story in Missions 6, 10, 13, 19, 23, 24, and 27, with the possibility that events could cause that to take a little longer if you fail Missions, miss some Evidence, face an Invasion, or can't get Off-World on schedule. 

It's less than ideal if the level-up system conks out 10 or more Missions before the end of the campaign, which it currently does for most Campaign Goals.

And just to confirm that I'm not imagining a problem that doesn't exist, here's the stat bar of my Captain at the end of the 13th Mission:

Reactions 4,  Combat Skill +3,   Speed 7, Savvy 2, Toughness 4, Luck 1.

By the Trailblazer's Toolkit, she's 28 XP from maxed out, over half of which would be Savvy upgrades that she doesn't need (as I have an Engineer in my Crew with a higher Savvy than her already, and Savvy rolls happen less than once per Mission.) She'll probably hit the new (i.e.:Trailblazers Toolkit) Toughness cap after Mission 14, and Speed cap by Mission 15 or 16. 

The rest of my team is only shortly behind her, and I think they'll all hit the Trailblazers caps before Mission 20.

With that in mind, I brewed up the following alternate XP-spending chart a few weeks back  to keep the XP system working in the long-haul:


(from 0 to 1)


(from 1 to 2)


(from 2 to 3)


(from 3 to 4)


(from 4 to 5)


(from 5 to 6)


(from 6 to 7)


(from 7 to 8)

Combat Skill

8 (Engineer Max)


15 (Humans Only)

20 (Humans Only)



(from 0 to 1)


(from 1 to 2)


(from 2 to 3)


(from 3 to 4)


(from 4 to 5)


(from 5 to 6)


(from 6 to 7)


(from 7 to 8)

With this system, the lowest level of upgrade costs what it did in the main rules, so you usually get your first upgrade after just a mission or two, while you're still stumbling about with substandard weapons and gear. The second time you upgrade any particular stat (or if it started out above-default because of your character background), it costs what it does in the Trailblazers Toolkit. The abilities are capped at the levels established in the main book, but taking them above the cap from Trailblazers costs a premium, generally double.

The usual limits apply:  Only Humans can get Luck above 1. Engineers can't get Toughness above 4. Bots upgrade with Credits, not XP. 

The main downside of this system is that the sliding scale is harder to remember, so you'll need to refer to the chart more often. But it should keep XP meaningful for at least another dozen Missions or so. Not enough to carry you all the way to "Win 100 Battles", but enough to keep things interesting past the end of the Story Track at least. 

Another ripple-effect benefit from this chart is that the Advanced Training options seem like a comparatively better option, without adjusting their costs at all. Pilot Training's XP isn't just automatically a far-worse proposition than spending those exact same points on Savvy.


Friday, August 13, 2021

Ironsworn: Wolf and Cat, log 1

 I recently started playing Ironsworn, and I think I'm going to post my game logs here.  


My character is Oddi Ice-Chosen. As a child, he nearly died after sinking beneath the ice of Bitter Lake. He was rescued by Kasju Frystgrotta, a Firstborn sorceress who invoked some ancient tradition to basically claim him as an apprentice for 12 years, and just took him away from his family. Kasju is his best friend, but she's also the cold-hearted monster that kidnapped him, so some component of that friendship is manipulative and Stockholm Syndrome-esque. About 10 sessions into the campaign I discovered (because Ironsworn likes to surprise you) that there's more to this backstory that I hadn't originally intended, so Oddi's parents actually shoulder a fair amount of the burden and blame for their kid being taken away. It's complicated.

Mechanically, Oddi's stats are:

Edge:3     Heart: 2    Iron: 1    Shadow: 1    Wits: 2

So he's fast and clever. His stats were actually a little different than that for the first few sessions, but I found that my original stats didn't really capture what I wanted the character to be. I'd accidentally made him stronger physically than intended, and worse with people. After a couple short sessions I realized that the fiction and mechanics were misaligned, so I swapped to the stat array above, and everything flowed much better thereafter. 

For Assets, I chose:

Path: Storyweaver - Oddi's head is full of myths, legends, folktales, and the secret teachings that Kasju has passed down to him. He tells tales and speaks in parables, and sometimes gets mechanical bonuses for it. It also means that I'm constantly doing little bits of world-building by inventing Heroes and Gods for my version of the Ironlands, which a hell of a lot of fun.

Companion: Cave Lion - His pet's name is Sammutisel, and he's a ferocious kitty.  

Ritual: Bind - Oddi knows how to invest the power of the moon in his enchanted wolf-pelt, which makes him much better at fighting and general speed and agility (aka Edge)... until I roll a "1" and the magic goes out of the pelt for the rest of the day, at which time things generally get painful. In theory, this could be combined with other pelts to gain boosts to my other stats, but early in the campaign I tried to get myself a bear-pelt and nearly died when I failed, so that may not happen again for a while.

His starting Vow is about a weird prophecy that was probably too abstract, and if I had to do it over again I'd chose something a bit more concrete and solvable. I'm like 16 (short) sessions in, and only have 1 XP at this point, so lesson learned: make your initial situation more actionable and straight-forward next time. None the less, I'm having a lot of fun.


The Ironlands are basically a low-fantasy version of Scandinavia, with the humans being vaguely-nordic / vaguely-viking, with a bit of magic and "here be monsters" scribbled liberally across the map. There's a system where you customize the world a little before play. Rather than lay out all the choices I made in that, I'll just list 2 elements that chose that I feel are most relevant to my tale thus far. 

1) I chose to make the monsters a little more rare than default, I think. My character's "mentor" is the Firstborn sorceress who saved his life and also kind of kidnapped him. She's a bit like Circe from the Odyssey. That style of rare semi-divine semi-monstrous witch-people is how I see the Firstborn in my version of the setting. There's ruins that suggest they were once more numerous, but I don't expect to end up in a village or city of elves ever, because I think there's probably a few dozen of them on the continent, all of whom are impossibly old and powerful. 

2) There are Iron Pillars of unknown origin scattered about the countryside, with poorly-documented supernatural qualities. This is one of the standard options for Ironsworn, and it seemed really neat to me. Some people fear the pillars, others swear unbreakable oaths upon them.


I wrote this before the first actual play session, just trying to get a feel for the character and his janky starting Vow. It's entirely scripted, and doesn't involve any actual gameplay. Here goes:

It begins with a vision. Oddi Ice-Chosen is in the room of fire within the ice, the steaming pit in the frozen cave. He is naked, leaning over the sputtering geothermal vent, Kasju Frystgrotta clutching his hair in her icy ancient talons to hold him back from plunging facefirst into the steaming hellhole. Tonight, they hope to see that which has been denied for 2 years and 10. Tonight, aware that their time together would soon be at an end, she rode him harder for a vision than ever before. This is not their usual sweat-session followed by a dance under the moon or a dip in the cool. This is prolonged staring into the mouth of the volcano and daring the gods to punish them for the audacity of wanting to understand. This recklessness has even Sammutisel wound up and pacing in the corner of the cave, growling, sometimes hissing back at the geyser-mist.

Oddi's mind is swirling and fevered, thanks to the fumes, and the blood. Thanks also to the boiled-root potions, and the heedless daring of the ritual. It starts with the same visions as ever before, the ghostly glimpses never in focus. The point of this, Oddi thinks, is to coax up more details of the Great Ruler, the mighty King that will one day unite all the Circles of the Ironlands against the Great Evil and usher in an age of prosperity. Oddi is not that Great Ruler destined to arrive. He was hopeful at first, feeling special and chosen, after his descent into the frozen depths of Bitter Lake. But as the visions accumulated over 10 years and 2, it became clear that his lot is the footnote of history. He is not the chosen king, but one day he will be the advisor to that Great Ruler. The wizard who helps to place His Majesty upon that Royal Pillar.

Always, the face of the Great King is obscured. The throne and crown upon the pillar are clear enough,  the baldachin that hangs over and surrounds them is vivid despite Oddi never having seen one with his physical eyes. He see the mighty army that marches at the Great Ruler's back, feel it's marching shake the earth. Meetings and maps, tales and advice, spells and suggestions -- a million tiny details pop randomly into clarity. but the Great King himself is always out of focus.

Tonight, despite pushing harder than before, the Great King still remains a distant image at the corner of the eye. Someone else is at the center of the vision tonight. A terrible soldier in strange armor lumbers into the main view. Dark and menacing, monstrous and inhuman, alien and ironclad. It has a strange sigil on it's shield, a painting of an open wound or a blood-shot eye, surrounded by flaking pallid flesh. Once or twice before he'd seen this warrior moving about a battlefield at the edge of a vision, seen at a distance or an angle its strange metal and too-detailed heraldry as it cuts down the footmen of the Great King. Oddi's face now red and feeling scalded from the mineral vent threatening to explode, he sees not the King at all, but only this foul and bloodsick warrior.

Most of the shields that Oddi has seen with his physical eyes are just simply painted. Quartered or striped, maybe marked with the runes of the people of his birth. The Bloodsick Warrior's shield is transformative. Limbs and organs painted so vividly they seem to be alive, like the shield itself is a disemboweled vampire in its pain-maddened death-throes and bloody thirst.  It kills and it feasts and even when bit by a hero's blade, the monster leaks new evils into the world. The shield is a warning.

Oddi Ice-Chosen gasps, the hot humid gout of musty air filling his head with fever-pain and images of entire Circles slaughtered. The Bloodsick Warrior leans back, coiling to unleash a body-shattering blow coming right at Oddi's head with its stolen blade. The hammered metal glints in the light from the ritual fires in the cave, or entire villages put to the torch in the dreamland. In that gleaming fire, Oddi Ice-Chosen suddenly knows that blade. It's a sword he hasn't seen in 2 years and 10. His father's sword. Oddi cries out, and Kasju lifts his almost molten body out of the fumes. He shudders and collapses into her frail-looking but anciently-strong arms, their sweating bodies pressed together until they stick. She of ice, he of fire, steaming where they couple.

"Home!" he gasps, and behind them the geyser sprays a deadly mist to the area where he had been just a few moments earlier. She rolls him over and presses her frost-cold almost-human brow to his. The vent sputters, a Cave Lion growls, and the Firstborn sorceress whispers that she longs to know what he saw. Her exquisite inhuman flesh always has a faint irridescent shine, which time spent near the vent intensifies. The moisture and residue, and poor lighting of this part of the cavern, completely concealed the tears in the corner of Kasju's eyes, so that even face-to-face, Oddi was unable to recognize them. In their more than a decade together, he'd never seen her cry.

"The family you took me from," he says, focused on his own pains and losses. "They're in great danger. The whole village, all of Forgotten Despair. I have to go help them, try to save my family." He rolls over and starts to stand up.

"Not so fast, my love." Purring like the Cave Lion that watches them the edge of the room, Kasju slides her long cold fingers along his neck, pressure more than a caress, but not what would normally seems like a threat either. To his tender heat-marked skin, her icicle claws are almost as sharp as Sammutisel's.  She pulls him closer and whispers in his ear "I told your family that if I saved your life, I would take you as my apprentice for 2 years and 10. That means you belong to me for 3 more days, and most importantly 3 more nights. Only when I'm done with you, can you go save your home."

 Session 1:

This is a really tiny first play session, coming as it did on the tail of character creation and that overwrought prologue.  Date: 7/26/2021. 

A few hours later, I, Oddi Ice-Chosen, pack up my belongings, and try to sneak out while Kasju Frystgrotta is sleeping. Sammutisel stalks me, the great cat knowing something is wrong.

Secure an Advantage. Strong. +2 momentum.  (Moves and die-rolls will generally be recorded like this in my log. Minimal rules baggage so the reader can understand what's happening if you're familiar with the game, but hopefully not too disruptive to the narrative. Name of the Move, then Strong Hit / Weak Hit / Miss as appropriate, and any interesting benefits or consequences. Then back to the narrative.)

I fool myself into thinking I'm getting out without Kasju noticing, 2 days before his apprenticeship is over, but she's well aware. I slip out of the cave, and down the trail a hundred yards to the clearing where an ancient Iron Pillar points to the heavens. A swearing post. Sammutisel comes loping out of the underbrush, getting ahead of me and cutting off the path that leads back to the village of my youth.  Thinking I've been caught and am about to be dragged back to the cave by the talons of cat or firstborn, I sprint to the swearing post. Getting there before anything can drag me away, I declare a Vow to the heavens "I promise I will fight to save the village of Forgotten Despair from The Bloodsick Warrior, the sword-stealer who bleeds monsters, or I will die trying! Now it's too late Kasju, you can't keep me here forever. Oath-breakers magic is tainted, so I'm useless to you if you don't let me go."

Swear an Iron Vow: Strong. +2 Momentum. I know I must head South immediately.

"Oddi, my love," she says sweetly as she steps out from a tree, with leaves dying in her hair and a wolfskin wrapped around her shoulders. "You were never my prisoner. We are both fate's prisoners. Go. Go to your parents. Go to Forgotten Despair, with my blessing. Do what you can for your birth-people. Sammutisel will go with you, to keep you safe, and help you save those that you can. And take this too," she says, removing the wolfskin cloak and exposing her opalescent Firstborn flesh, frost forming on it in the evening breeze. "Remember what you left behind, and think of me whenever you dance the moon's magic into it."

I take it. "Thank you. I will... miss you. You have been..."

"I am... And this is not goodbye, not forever. There are 2 more days of our contract. You can travel now with my blessing, attend your emergency and fulfill your vows. Know though, that the arrangements such as ours are not easily sundered. Not long after your family honor has been satisfied, fate will bring us together again for at least the 2 more days I am owed, and maybe the 2 nights as well if we are lucky."

Undertake a Journey from Frozen Cave of Zhan to Forgotten Despair. Formidable progress track.  Weak Hit: spend 1 supply. Get to a Waypoint.  

It's an exposed archway of rock that I can use as a bridge over the river. It's trickier than I remember, as I've always had Kasju with me when crossing it before, and she's so light on her feet. If I slip, it will be into water, but we are close to the rapids. I get out my vine rope, and tie it to the tree at the top of the cliff so I can't be swept downstream.

And that's as far as a I got in Session #1, just the first waypoint of my first journey. Nothing terribly exciting yet, but I was already hooked, and I did another short session the next evening, which I will probably blog here in a few days. And if you read my previous post where I was gushing about how this solitaire RPG feels like collaboration, you're probably reading this first session now and wondering what the heck I was talking about. This is just bad fan-fiction, nothing that special. True, this first session was just me scripting away, and kinda clunky because of that. The magic happens in later sessions, when the game jumps in to ruin Oddi's day and insist the narrative goes places I wasn't expecting. It's gonna emulate the hell out that GM.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Ironsworn is pretty damn great

 I've been losing the battle with insomnia lately, and so filling the late hours with various solitaire games.  The most recent of which is Ironsworn, a solitaire RPG. 

I've tried a few solitaire RPGs before, and never really liked them. Your typical solo-RPG (or at least the onces I've bought) is a $10 PDF that's only 16 pages. Usually a 2-page name-generator that I didn't need, and 14 pages that can be best summarized as "flip a coin, dummy".  Every time I've bought one, I regretted it by the 4th page. 

I guess that's not technically true, I did get three or four sessions out of "Thousand Year Old Vampire" (and probably have another 1 or 2 sessions in me somewhere down the road)...  but mostly 1kV works for me because it's not actually an RPG and is instead more of a randomized tool for procedurally-generated fiction, with a defined end-point that it's building towards. I just find that a solitaire-miniatures-game like Five Parsecs From Home, or Shadows of Brimstone, generally works better for me than any solitaire RPG ever has, largely because they focus on the tactical combat aspect to engage my thinky bits, with some emergent narrative qualities as icing on top.

I play RPGs mostly to socialize, and to collaborate, so solitaire RPGs don't usually scratch the itches involved in that process. If I'm gonna just write a story, I'd usually rather write a story and have control over it. If I'm gonna gamify that story, I'd rather it be something that throws actual surprises at me, and actual puzzles I need to solve, not just a random coin-flip wrecking my story structure for the hell of it, and being given the overly-generous puffed-up name of a "GM emulator". Most things with that sales pitch have disappointed me.

Then I tried Ironsworn. This game is sweet. It's scratching an itch that no other solitaire-RPG has ever even reached adjacent to. It's got a fun vaguely-viking setting that's easy to riff off, but not so deeply defined that you're ever afraid to make it your own. The best part, though, is actually the mechanics. It's got a specific "playbook" of "moves", kind of like Apocalypse World, but they're better-geared for solitaire play, and really flexible. It does a great job of putting the fiction first, feeding you actual surprises and occasional puzzles, and facilitating adventure and narrative without getting in the way of story cohesion. I can't sing it's praises loudly enough. It's just damn good. Obviously, it's not socializing (I'm sitting here writing in an empty room in the middle of the night), but it feels like I'm collaborating on a story with someone, which is kind of awesome and weird. I can use terms like "GM Emulator" and "Oracle" when talking about Ironsworn, and not just feel like their pretentious and misleading terms. It's powerful stuff.

Best of all, it's not $10 for 16 pages you instantly regret. It's literally free at, and it's over 200 pages, and just packed full of great ideas that you'll want to think about and play with for dozens of hours at least. I really think you should go check it out.

EDIT: I should also mention that if you're going to give it a try, you should consider running it on Roll20. There's a free Ironsworn character sheet available on Roll20 that has all the Moves, Oracles, Assets and Progress Tracks built into it. It makes keeping track of everything easy, and speeds up the process so you don't have to reference the rulebook during play at all.

5 Parsecs From Home: Turn 13 / Story Track Event 3

This is a step-by-step breakdown of the thirteenth Campaign Turn in my Five Parsecs From Home campaign. This Turn's mission is also the third "Event" in the "Story Track". The Story Track is an optional plot thread that (if you've elected to use it in your campaign) shows up about every fourth Turn or so, with a custom mission that shakes things up a bit. This time, it's a pretty brutal close-quarters combat, pistols in the fog from just inches away.

Crew names below are often abbreviated "G" to "M", as explained in: Crew Roster, which also tells you about my team and a bit about their ship. See also the Index of my Five Parsecs articles for a list of previous Missions and other content.

1.1 Flee Invasion: - n/a

1.2 Decide Whether to Travel: - no

1.3 Starship Travel Event: - n/a

1.4 New World Arrival Steps: -n/a

1.5 Gain 1 story point if it's turn 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, etc. - n/a

2.1 Upkeep and Ship Repairs: -
Crew Upkeep - 1    Ship Debt - 0    Ship Repairs - 0    Medical Care - H needs 5 turns of recovery, and I don't have enough credits to get him out this Turn.

2.2 Assign and Resolve Crew Tasks: -
Find a Patron -    Train -     Trade - M    Recruit -    Explore - J,L    Track -    Repair Your Kit -     Decoy - G,K
Noteworthy results from Tasks: -

    Inshubur plans the attack. From the Story Track for this Turn: "One crew member of choice must be assigned to plan the attack. This crew member cannot take any actions this campaign turn. If you are not ready, you can opt to delay for one more campaign turn, but after that, it’s go time!"
    Moreva trades for Local Maps that may prove useful for future Quests
    Leonidas trades away his old Blade for Combat Armor!

2.3 Determine Job Offers: - Doing the 3rd Story Track event. Thankfully, I didn't roll a "1" and trigger Rival interference.

2.4 Assign Equipment: - n/a

2.5 Resolve Rumors: - n/a

2.6 Choose Your Battle -
Job Description:
Story Track Event 3: Disrupting the Plan - Your old friend is up to something big, and it’s time to teach his people a little lesson. You’ve found out where his organization is storing contraband for sale off-world, and you’ve decided to pay them a visit.

Battle: Story Track Event #3

Deployment Conditions:
  Set up like a camp, with crates and barrels all over. Scatter 5 Goons, 2 Bruisers, and 1 Leader around the map.

Select which battlefield edge you want to enter from, and roll to Seize the Initiative (at +3 because I captured a mercenary in Story Track #2).

Enemy within 12” of crew figures will act with Defensive AI. Enemy that are not within 12” of crew figures will first attempt to reach the center of the battlefield, then go Defensive.

Planetary Condition: - Planet-Wide Fog - All shots beyond 8" are -1 to Hit.

Notable Sights:  The mission clearly spells out unusual deployment and objectives, so obviously you don't roll on those charts. It doesn't mention whether or not Notable Sights are a thing, but I'm going to assume that since they aren't mentioned, they're not used this mission. If I ever play the story track a second time, with a new crew, maybe I would add one just to mix it up, but this time, there's nothing notable to see here. Move along.  

EDIT: My bad, it's actually spelled out on page 152 that there are no Deployment Conditions or Notable Sights in any Story Track Events. I somehow missed that on my first two reads of the chapter, having included Notable Sights in Story Track Missions #2 and #3. Including them did not seem to break anything, just for the record. So, if having a dynamic mission is more important to you than following the rulebook strictly, go for it. 

Objective: - Sabotage the AeroSpace Fighter that my old friend has just purchased before his techs can get it armed with the missile they just purchased.

To Win, you need to either Hold the Field, or fight your way to the center of the battlefield and plant a sabotage device. This takes a Combat Action and requires a 1D6+Savvy roll of 5+. If failed, the roll can be attempted again by other characters, or through future Actions. Once planted, the opposition will retreat from the battlefield at the end of the next round.
• If you drive off every opponent, you can just plant the device at your own leisure.
• If the battle drags on too long, reinforcements will show up. 2 Goons in each of Rounds 8 and 12 will arrive at the end of the round, in the center of a randomly selected battlefield edge.

Enemy Type: -  AbsuCorp Goons, Bruisers, and a Boss

Numbers: - 5/2/1   Panic: 1-2     Speed: 4”     Combat: +0 to +1     Tough: 3 to 4     AI: D*    

5 Goons with Machine Pistols, 2 Bruisers with Shotguns and Brutal Melee,  1 Leader w/ Blast Pistol and Blade

Deploy: Enemy are scattered around the camp. I'm entering from the North. Because they have a big missile, I'm not bringing my Shuttle or ship anywhere near this place, so I'll be scattering my people along that Northern Edge. One of the cool things about this Mission is that deployment is very atypical. Usually the enemy is really far away. Instead, we can get the drop on the ones near our table edge.

In this Mission, the villains have modified AI. It's mostly the Defensive AI, but with extra instructions to head toward my Mission Objective if there's not PCs nearby them. This has an interesting dynamic where the player is tempted to rush the Objective early, before it's swarming with baddies.

Round 1: - Seize the Initiative:  We've got +3 for capturing and interrogating a mercenary in the previous Story Track Mission. Presumably that stacks with the usual +1 for being outnumbered. So that means that if our 2d6 roll is a 6+, all my people will get to act once before the first turn. I get cocky, and roll a 4. So we've blown our early advantage, but there's still normal initiative.

Quick Actions - We open with Plasma fire! Moreva shoots the closest Goon, stunning him and knocking him back to where Juniper can see him. She fires, one stun and the second hit kill.

Inshubur moves into melee with the next closest Goon. He fumbles, but both damage rolls are low so he only ends up double-stunned.

Enemy Actions - The stunned Goon shoots Inshubur from point-blank with his Machine Pistol. She dives out of the way with her Luck. Then the nearby Bruiser opens fire with his Shotgun. Both shots miss, but one of the two dice rolls a "1", so he gets a reroll from Aiming, which is a hit. Inshubur is out of Luck, so I spend a Story Point to force a reroll on the shot. It's still a hit. Then the damage is enough to knock my Captain out, and probably still would be if I spend another Story Point. Her Combat Armor also fails her, so Inshubur goes down!  Rather than spend it on a long-shot, I hold on to the Story Point, in case I need it to help her during Recovery at the end of the Battle.

Slow Actions - Leonidas vaporizes the stunned Goon.

GcViib burns a hole through the head of the Bruiser that took out Inshubur.

The Kid moves south, and shoots at the Goon on the landing pad, driving him against the Flyer we want to sabotage.

Panic Test - The Goon furthest from the PCs runs away. There's no Enemy Table Edge in this scenario, so I probably could have chosen anyone, but since he'd have to move several Rounds to get into range, I figure he's still the best one to flee.

Enemy Ploy on a "1" - And I rolled it!   There is a Sniper in that tall radio tower to the South East of the landing pad.   In a previous game I rolled up a Sniper, and blasted them to bits before they got to activate. I decided then to implement a house-rule to make them more dangerous if they came up again: The sniper gets 1 free shot immediately upon being placed on the board, before the next Round starts.

Unfortunately for the bad guys, I made that rule before coming to a planet with Fog so bad every shot is at -1 if the target is 8" or more away. The sniper's shot skips off a rock near The Kid.

Image Key: Green lines are PC's movement. Purple lines are the enemies movement. Yellow lines are retreat when Stunned or random movement from Luck points being spent. Red X's mark places where people fell in battle.

Round 2: - Quick - The Kid returns fire, knocking the Sniper onto the supports between the tower and the radar beacon. Juniper moves forward and also shoots at the sniper, driving them further onto the walkway. They are double-stunned, but still in the game.

Enemy - The sniper shoots at Juniper, but she is saved by the Fog.

The Goon on the Landing Pad shoots at her as well, but only stuns her.

The other baddies advance. Most are heading towards the landing pad, but the Goon in the West circles around his hovertruck.

Slow - GcViib misses the sniper.

Leonidas stuns the Goon on the landing pad, who stumbles backwards into the open. Moreva flanks him, and finishes him off.

Panic Test - The goon in the west flees off the board.

Roll for Battle Events between Round 2 and 3 - 82 - Fog Cloud - The AeroSpace FIghter's engines start cycling up, causing the already dense air of Tiresias-3 to condense further. There's a cloud of opaque fog around the landing pad now, extending 6" from our Primary Objective. Line-Of-Sight is blocked by 2" of this, so there'll be some nasty close-quarters battle in our future.

Round 3: - Quick - The Kid puts another stun on the Sniper.

Enemy - The Sniper returns the favor. They hunt each other. The Leader and Bruiser move into the fog.

Slow - Everyone closes in on the fog cloud.

Panic Test - None.

Round 4: Quick - Moreva and Juniper enter the fog.

The Kid is right at the edge of the map, engaged in a sniper duel with the Corp Marksman on the scaffolding. If I keep shooting, he'll probably win, because he has Luck and a better equipment. However, I resolved in Turn 7 that I would never abuse the edge of the map to avoid being pushed back by stunned results. So, to stand by that conviction, the Kid runs for cover. (He was stunned, so he can't shoot if he moves, and can't move if he shoots.)

Enemy - The Bruiser moves up and stuns Juniper with his shotgun. The boss drops into a better position with cover on all sides, but can't get close enough to shoot through less than 2" of engine exhaust.

The sniper moves back into their original position, now obscured by exhaust. They couldn't line up a shot, so I have them shift far enough into the fog for protection.

Slow - Leonidas dashes into the exhaust. I'm gambling a bit on if I can roll at least a single "1" on initiative next turn. If I don't, he'll be burning his Luck.

Panic Test - None

Roll for Battle Events between Round 4 and 5:  "Snap shot: Select a figure in your crew. They may fire a weapon immediately. If the weapon is a Pistol, it Hits automatically, otherwise roll to Hit normally."

I choose Juniper because she has a cool pistol built-in to her cyberhand that I almost never get to use (because a gun built into a cyberhand has half normal range, and her Plasma Rifle usually crisps people from much further out). It's a machine pistol with a shock attachment, and it murders this Bruiser quite nicely.

Round 5: - Quick - I only get 1 good Initiative die this turn, and it's a 2, so it has to be Moreva (or no shot at all). She rushes up the ramp, and unloads hot plasma on the enemy Leader. His armor saves him, but he ends up double-stunned. His back is to rock, so he's not moved at all.

Enemy - Moreva is in the open, so the the Leader shoots her. A bullet strikes her square on, but he's saved by her Combat Armor. It's a good thing the Leader was stunned, because if he'd been able to Aim his second shot might have hit as well.

The sniper moves to the edge of the tower, sticking just far enough out of the exhaust to get a shot at The Kid. They roll a "1", and can't Aim this turn because they moved.

Slow - The Kid returns fire, and stuns the sniper. This pushes them enough to fall. Jumping down 3" would be a +0 damage hit, per the movement rules. I can't seem to find other falling rules, so I just go with that for now.  I roll low, so the sniper only ends up double-stunned.

Leonidas charges the enemy Leader and tries out his Glare Sword. Leon wins the fight, but the Leader rolls a "6".  Leo then rolls low damage, and the baddie rolls high. Thankfully, Leonidas' armor saves him and they are both stunned.

The fog and the placement of my other characters prevent either GcViib or Juniper from getting into a position to shoot.

Panic Test - Nope. These badasses fight on.

Round 6: -
Quick - Leonidas opens up on the villain Leader, giving him a second stun.

The Kid moves and misses the sniper.

Enemy -  The leader double-stuns Leonidas. That was close.

The sniper misses The Kid because of the planet-wide Fog.

Slow - Moreva climbs back up on top of the fuel tank and fries the enemy Leader. Then she notices the flammable labels on the thing she's standing on, looks at the smoking Plasma Rifle in her hands, and counts her lucky stars.

Juniper's not Savvy enough to worth the sabotage effort, so she Dashes through the fog to try to flank the sniper next turn.

GcViib heads up onto the platform and gets into position for next Round's sabotage.

Panic Test - None, technically, because the sniper is immune to morale...

Round 7 - ...but since the next Round starts with only the sniper on the map, they automatically escape per the special rule in the Ploy write-up.

Since the Mission ends at the start of Round 7, I don't trigger the scenario-specific enemy reinforcements at the End of Rounds 8 and 12.

Yellow lines are paths of retreat, whether that's 1" of knockback from a Stun, 1d6" of random movement from a Luck spend, or the path off the edge of the board from a badguy failing a Panic test.

Analysis: -  That fight was a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be! With mostly short-range weapons on the opposition, I expected to just plasma-burn through their ranks in short order.  That's "action economy" for you: losing a PC in Round 1 had a lot of ripple effects, and made every Round thereafter that much harder. Inshubur is my fastest character in terms of both Speed and Reactions, so I'd planned to have her race to the middle of the map and claim the Objective before things got too hot. Instead, she took a dirt nap in Turn 1.

I really enjoyed how this battle played out quite differently from the typical Mission. Having the enemy scattered about and shooting immediately, instead of tightly clustered and creeping up slowly, was pretty interesting. The two layers of Fog (a planet-wide fog that penalized all shots beyond 8", and a localized-fog that blocked all shots beyond 2" in the vicinity of my primary objective) really made me have to get up-close and personal. The only part where I didn't push in close was the long-range sniper match on the far Eastern flank, and that ended inconclusively as a result. If not for the fog, though, I would have been able to aim 2 or 3 Plasma Rifles at that sniper's tower, which probably would have wrapped that part up in a hurry.


4.1 Resolve Rival Status: - No, I rolled a 2. I'm happy with that, as I don't think a bunch of pistol-packing Goons would be much of a threat in a more typical deployment/scenario. They just don't have the range to be a serious threat in a normal mission, at least not against my team with all their plasma-rifles.

4.2 Resolve Patron Status: - N/A

4.3 Determine Quest Progress: - N/A

4.4 Get Paid and Benefits of Success: + 5 credits.

Planetary Condition - Booming Economy - When rolling for post-battle credit rewards, any 1 on the dice are rerolled until it shows a score other than a 1.

4.5 Battlefield Finds: -  Vital Info: I can turn this in for an automatic Corporate Patron on this world. Turns out AbsuCorp wasn't going to use those missiles on me, but on some other corporation. If I bring them Q'narr's targeting data and plans, his planned target will look on me favorably. I cash it in immediately, and roll up the new Patron just for fun. They have the usual Corporation rules of +1 on Danger Pay, and increased chance of jobs having Conditions. Their recurring benefit is "Connections" which means they pay in rumors. I name them Caduceus MultiMedia. One of their journalists is currently working on a hard-hitting exposé about Q'narr and AbsuCorp.

4.6 Check for Invasion!: - I don't have to roll this Turn, since these enemies aren't an Invasion Threat. That's good, since there have been rumors of war that would add +2 to any such roll on this planet.

4.7 Gather the Loot: -  The first roll gets me a Hunting Rifle and a Military Rifle, both Damaged. I get a second roll on the Loot table as specified by the Story Track's rewards section, and this rolls up a Unity Battle Sight, which is far more useful.

4.8 Determine Injuries and Recovery: -  I roll a 90, so it turns out Inshubur was merely knocked unconscious, with no lasting injuries.  H'Xex is envious, since he's still in Sick Bay from last Turn.

4.9 Experience and Character Upgrades:  G.0 H.0 I.1 J.4 K.4 L.3 M.3   - First Kill: - J    Rookie: K

The Kid is not happy about that sniper getting away, so they practice long-range shots in the fog. XP spent to bring Combat Skill to +3.

Leonidas raises Reactions to 2.

4.10 Invest in Advanced Training: -  Juniper uses her ex-Enforcer contacts to get enrolled in night classes at the local Academy, hits the books, and learns Security Training. (Total cost, including application, is 2 Credits, and 8 XP, and an Instruction Book.)  This will give us +1 on Seize The Initiative in the future, which I note would have been huge this Mission.

4.11 Purchase Items: - None

4.12 Campaign Event: - You renegotiate some old debts. (If you currently owe money, reduce your debt by 1D6+1 credits. If you owe nothing, earn 2 credits for being prudent with your money.)

Well, I'd just typed the meaningless phrase "Juniper uses her ex-Enforcer contacts" as how she arranged for her Security Training, and then the very next die roll recouped the costs of that Training. So yeah, some sort of favor called in by her Mentor/Partner from back during her old Enforcer days. I love it when story-dressing and randomized mechanics cooperate like that.

4.13 Character Event: - Leonidas discovers he likes the local cuisine, and gains an XP. I just hope he didn't eat H'Xex's delivery order -- a K'Erin's stomach is teflon-coated.

4.14 Check for Galactic War Progress: - N/A

4.15 Tick Story Clock: -  Set the Clock to 5 Ticks.  Based on that, I expect the next Story Event to be around Turn 19. Not that I'm complaining, as I enjoy the game quite a bit, but I hadn't realized when starting this just how long your Campaign has to run to get all the way through the Story Track.  I was planning on running this for about 20 Missions, but the Story Track will still be rolling strong at that point, so I'll probably keep going until it's done.