Short post tonight, because I’m in the middle of actually writing a bit on the article on injury and healing, and I don’t want to throw off the Emporer’s groove. 

There’s a pretty fun thread over on the SJG Forums about how to account for the velocity of dodging a bullet – really, why is it a bullet is the same difficulty to dodge as a punch? 

Specifically, here’s the original question:

This was probably discussed to death years ago, but why isn’t it harder to dodge a bullet than a punch? I get that imposing a -19 penalty to dodge a bullet is basically the same as not allowing a dodge and as a result not very fun but surely there ought to be some difference.Just something that’s been bothering me lately since we’ve move from our DF game into a monster hunter one and bullet ballet is becoming a thing.

If you’ve been reading here for a bit, you’ll remember that this had bothered me before. First time it came up with a vengeance was in +Jeromy French‘s space campaign, where it wasn’t just dodging bullets, it was dodging lasers. This was judged by mid-fight as more than a bit silly.  Well, perhaps slightly less silly than first thought.

But really, out of that campaign incident and a few other thoughts along the way, I had occasion to write an article called Dodge This. It was the fifth article I’ve published in Pyr #3, and represents some fairly good rules amalgamation, with many options.

They’ve been fairly well received too.

Why bring this up? I have to somewhere between grit my teeth and smile as the thread in question features the following:

  • Post 2: I point out I wrote this already.
  • Post 3-5: Restate the usual explanations of what it means. I also deal with this explicitly, with math to back it up for those that care, in Dodge This
  • Post 7: Line Editor +Sean Punch drops by and really takes all defenses and puts them into a hierarchy that works very well, being MECE and covering the right bases. Oh, and I also propose an Evasive Movement rule in Dodge This.
  • Post 8-12 comment on how cool post 7 is.
  • Post 14 brings up how critical perception is. Oh, that gets an entire section in Dodge This
  • Post 35: suggests using the Size and Speed/Range table to figure penalties. Which I do in Dodge This
Parting Shot
Yeah, this is a bit of horn-tooting. But really, I did all the work required to get the original poster exactly what was needed. If it wasn’t precisely to taste, it could be changed, of course. But having the original rules explained, the expansion rules explained (Tactical Shooting), evasive movement, gameable ways to figure perception into the mix, and finally a systematic way to both figure out how to detect and avoid/counter incoming ranged attacks of any size and speed, up to and including 300,000,000 m/s (light speed)?
To quote the commercial, “It’s in there.” Pyramid #3/57 is $8 for 25,000 words of GURPSy goodness, every one of which is related to guns in this particular issue. So if you’re having problems similar to the original (and correct! Don’t take any of this as me disagreeing with the premise – after all, I wrote Dodge This because I agreed fully with that premise!) poster in the thread, why don’t you pick it up?
You won’t be disappointed.

This continues my deep-dive into the GURPS Action Series. I hit the Introduction and the Templates in prior posts, and now I move on to Chapter 2, the Action Heroes’ Cheat Sheet.

This is a worked example of something that’s recommended for most campaigns. Recommended enough that SJG hosts a web application – the Trait Sorter – to allow GMs to create such custom lists. 

What’s the list? Or lists, rather? The appropriate Advantages, Disadvantages, Skills and other abilities or notes for the particular campaign. Or in this case, genre.

Advantages


Mostly, in this case Sean was weeding out magic, psionics, powers, and other supernatural or paranormal abilities that are not commonly found in pure action movies.

Of course, one of the reasons you play GURPS is so that if you suddenly want your action flick to take a turn for the bizarre, you can do it without breaking stride. But still, the bare bones of a genre treatment is what’s provided for here, and the chapter starts with a straightforward list of allowable Advanatages.

It’s not totally normal, though. It’s action movie normal. So Catfall and 3D Spatial Sense and Very Rapid Healing are all in there, because by Yoda the hero is going to be on her feet by the movie’s climax.

The book also tweaks or adjusts a few of the advantages. Two new variants of Enhanced Dodge are given (Dive for Cover and Vehicular Dodge). Extra benefits are provided for Gunslinger – and it needs them, because as presented in the Basic Set, it’s a poor choice relative to just taking +6 to skill at slightly lower cost (if there are questions on this, I can show my work upon request – it’s not hard to fathom).

You also get to variants of Higher Purpose, two more of Quick Gadgeteer, and four five-point talents specific to action-movie goodness.

Clearly laden with physical disads. Yup.

Gun Perks


A boxtext also provides four Gun Perks. As it came before both Gun Fu and Tactical Shooting, this might have been the first time these were presented, but perhaps not. They provide a nice entry into John Woo style gunplay.


Disadvantages


The supplement makes no bones about supernatural and magical disads. Paranormal is Right Out.

But it also takes a lot of the crippling physical disads and tosses them out the window, with prejudice. Most action heroes are on the “dear god I want to be that man” end of the physical fitness spectrum.

The supplement goes further than this, suggesting not just a limit of -50 points for both Disads and buying down sub-attributes, but suggests ways to play this for fun rather than pain in some cases – it uses Lecherousness as an example, but it’s easy to find others. While playing Alcoholism for kicks is no joke to some, it was used effectively in both Independence Day (Russel Casse) and the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (Col. Tigh). 

This would have been good advice in the past, as I remember a game I ran where I had to fend off more than one one-legged, one-armed midget commando types. For a Black Ops game.

Skills


Obviously, skills get the same treatment. A cut-down list of skills, and where some are cut hard, such as Melee Weapon, key bits are preserved, as Axe/Mace and Broadsword, as examples.

Important specialties are pointed out for specificity, especially where “you need to have this specialty to use this typical action-movie plot staple” are concerned. 

A full page-worth is spent on Wildcard skills, which are appropriate for broadly capable characters. A template-specific Wildcard skill is given for each template in the series.

There’s also good advice on when to not use Wildcard skills. Diversity in skills for both expertise and characterization can be vital.

Parting Shot


This chapter is incredibly factual and to the point. Most of the page-count is taken with great tables of advantages, disadvantages, and skills. GMs running their own specific campaigns should take this as a how-to, and use the trait sorter to custom-create their own.

For what this is, it is worthy. A short version of the skill and trait list for a campaign will take a lot of the extended back-and-forth out of the character generation process.

The bits-and-pieces advice on specialties, wildcard and not-wildcard skills, and also tips to preserve the flavor of action-adventure movies via trait selection are likewise well taken.

This chapter is a workhorse, but no worse for it. The brilliance of the Action series does not lie here in this chapter, but it does serve as a reminder of how the trait-sorting process should be carried out.

Have you read the Introduction yet? No? Bad reader. No biscuit. Go do it.

OK. This chapter is the guts of the book, really. How to make Heroes by making relatively easy selections.

The contents of the chapter – what SJG Style refers to as B-HEADs, which are important subsections – shall be three, and they are as follows:

  1. Lenses
  2. Campaign Types
  3. Templates
There are also some boxes spread throughout the text. These call out important concepts (or optional rules) that don’t always fit precisely within the chapter structure.

I’m going to quibble a tetch with the order here, because I think the Campaign Types should have come first. The very first thing the GM needs to tell you is what kind of campaign you’re going to play. You may yet be able to play a Criminal lens in a Law Enforcement campaign (“OK, OK, OK . . . “), but it’ll save time if you know what’s important and what’s not.

So I’m going to skip around:


Campaign Types


A scant page-and-a-quarter, nonetheless it hits nine common campaign archetypes: cops (Lethal Weapon), crooks (Oceans Number or The Italian Job), soldiers for hire (Expendables, A-Team, Ronin), spy and counterspy (Bond, maybe Bourne), Task Force (Sword of Gideon, perhaps; GI Joe almost by definition), spies for hire (Burn Notice), vigilante justice (Taken), and War on Terror (The Unit TV show).

The real names in the book are slightly different for some of those. Point is, there are nine, they’re somewhere between very and subtly different, and the flavor will influence your selection of characters and lenses.

Which is why each campaign type lists common and uncommon roles. And perhaps more importantly, you get statements like this:

“The driver of the SWAT van or chopper might be a wheel man, and an EMT could be a medic, but NPCs often fill these roles. Few forces have full-time assassins, cleaners, or infiltrators aboard.”

So yeah, you can play character type X, but high risk of being bored. If you play character type Y, you may strain willing suspension of disbelief as you figure out how a full-time assassin works for the EPA.

Not putting this first confuses me a bit, but it’s a quibble. The lenses section (detailed next) is roughly the same size (maybe a page or page and a half) so it’s not as if either is a slog.

Lenses

Another short chapter, this one gives five detailed and six cursory “lenses” to add flavor to your character. They represent 20 points – less than 10% of a given templates value, and do not add to the point total (they’re subsumed into the template cost).

Each lens provides suggestions as to the minimum set of skills and abilities that one would possess to not overly strain credibility to lay claim to a certain background. As an example, Martin Riggs, the ex-SF sniper from the Lethal Weapon movies (Mel Gibson), is likely an Assassin (rather than a Shooter) with the Law Enforcement lens. Just enough 2-point skills to allow him to roll at IQ level (a not-awful 12) for most of the things he’s supposed to be able to do as a cop. Detective Lorna Cole (Renee Russo), to contrast, is likely an Investigator with the Law Enforcement lens, with enough points funneled into Karate to give Riggs something to sincerely admire in fighting ability. But the lens is between useful and required to make their “cop” persona viable. Things like “Duty” because they report for work each day, or Legal Enforcement Powers, because, well, cops.

The skills section thus recommends where to spend the 20 points in Background skills from each template, and the abilities section guides your choices from those listed in the template. Some of those are Disadvantages (often Duty), so may wind up being a net point gain (the Extremely Hazardous Duty that will come up very frequently for SFOD-D guys, as an example, is a heavyweight disad).
The basic choices given explicitly are Criminal, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, Military, and Security (which means counter-spy, the mirror of Intelligence). Interestingly, Law Enforcement also has its mirror in Criminal, and of course Military is its own mirror.

The lenses are a nice touch, guiding background in a useful way that adds to character without distracting from role. The guidance for non-explicit lenses, such as Academic (the scientists from Jurassic Park, or Dr Jekyll from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Martial Arts Master, or Rich Adveturer, is brief but on-point. If you want to be a rich adventurer, you’d best be rich and/or famous.
Templates
The meat of the chapter for obvious reasons, this is where you spend your points. Quite a few of them (250), but not the heavyweight for worked examples: that honor belongs to Monster Hunters.
There are 11 templates, each very competent, that define traditional roles in action movies. Each has some niche protection and some overlap: The Assassin, Demolition Man, and Shooter all do violence as their reason for existence . . . but each has their own, um, idiom.
Some are in-your-face roles that beg for screen time, while others (Wheel Man, Cleaner, Wire Rat, Hacker) can either be front-and-center (the car chase from Ronin) or in the background (the brief scene with Harve Keitel from Point of No Return). 
One thing about them: they’re very, very attribute-heavy, designed to make broadly competent characters. Consider the point investment in attributes alone: Assassin (180 pts); Cleaner (180 pts); Demolition Man (170 pts); Face Man (180 pts); Hacker (150 pts); Infiltrator (170 pts); Investigator (170 pts); Medic (160 pts); Shooter (160 pts); Wheel Man (160 pts), and Wire Rat (150 pts). Every template has at least one stat that’s 14-16, with more in the offing with optional points. 

That being said, characters still have 70-100 points of more-or-less discretionary choices as to where their particular brand of awesome lies. Optimization guidance is provided as well, selling back Basic Speed, for example. to prevent involuntary selection of levels of Speed/Move that don’t help with Dodge or add a full yard of movement. That can still happen, of course – but it will be the players’ choice.

For each template, advice is given on which of the many options presented in the typical GURPS template wall-of-text to choose to reflect a certain flavor. A criminal shooter might have brawling and intimidation and favor cheap and easily discarded weaponry, while a security-lensed shooter might be a bodyguard, with ridiculous levels of Pistol and SMG skill. Your classic military shooter has broad experience with full-auto, crew-served, artillery, and rocket launchers that civilian specialties might lack. 

That guidance – lean towards X and Y rather than P and Q – can be quite helpful and will speed the process a bit.

Obligatory Panning of Blocks of Text


I’ve noted this before – I like templates but do not like how they’re presented on the paper. The format is basically the aforementioned wall of text. This is space-efficient but hides the utility of the template, which is the rapid presentation and assimilation of 250 points worth of choices.

This is a bit tough, because the book is already in two-column format, and my personal druthers would have the choices being bulleted out even further, with more white space.

So instead of:

Advantages: Gunslinger [25] and Luck [15]. • A further 30
points chosen from among lens advantages (pp. 4-5), ST +1
to +3 [10/level], DX +1 [20], IQ +1 [20], HT +1 to +3
[10/level], Per +1 to +6 [5/level], Basic Speed +1 [20], Basic
Move +1 to +3 [5/level], Acute Vision [2/level], . .. 

you might instead get

Advantages:

  • Gunslinger [25] and Luck [15]
  • A further 30 points chosen from among lens advantages (pp. 4-5):

o   ST +1 to +3 [10/level]
o   DX +1 [20], IQ +1 [20]
o   HT +1 to +3 [10/level]
o   Per +1 to +6 [5/level]
o   Basic Speed +1 [20]
o   Basic Move +1 to +3 [5/level]
o   Acute Vision [2/level]
But without the boxes. Basically, something that uses a two- or three-column format within the main two-column format of the document to allow the eye to assimilate the vast amount of good information from the tempaltes in a more friendly way. This will increase page count (which I’m assured isn’t quite as “free” as one would think, even in electronic documents, due to the association of page count with pricing, even in electronic documents), but would, to me, represent a huge leap forward in the paper/electronic-page utility of what can be very dense blocks of text.
If you use GCA and someone makes a macro for you? Forget everything I just said because templates are the greatest thing since sliced bread in this case.
Boxed Text
There are three instances of boxed text throughout the chapter, giving some help or additional information to help make genre-appropriate heroes and their foes.
  • Action Who’s Who is a glossary of terms used for heroes and foes in the series.
  • Check Out the Big Brain deals with the fact that nearly all the templates feature the top ranks of IQ, anywhere from 11 (for the Shooter, who also has Per 12 and the option to buy more) to 15, not everyone is supposed to be Bruce Wayne, super detective. Suggesions are provided on how to play different types of “smart” that doesn’t imply multiple university degrees even for the IQ 14-16 set.
  • Quirky Good Luck talks about Luck as a mandatory advantage, swapping out Luck-like advantages for the one on the template, as well as drawing attention to two key rules from the Basic Set that will help heroes stay alive.
Parting Shot
The strongest part of this chapter is also the shortest: the Lenses and Campaign Types advice succinctly collapse sub-genre and background information into a few choices boiling down to “at the very least, do this to make your buddy cop movie look like something actually featuring buddies who are cops.”
The templates do a lot of heavy lifting for you – that’s their job. There are slightly fewer than a dozen, and much like in Dungeon Fantasy, as a GM you can enforce these or you can let them slide. If the GM wants stronger differentiation and less stat-heavy characters . . . well, you might not be playing Action anymore! 
These templates and lenses provide the core of competence and expertise and a veneer of background. The important part is that you’re the firepower, driver, or hacker of the team, and oh-by-the-way you’re all part of an Elite Fighting Force or SWAT detachment or association of criminals out to revenge yourselves on someone that double-crossed you that one time. From there, what separates this movie from Black Hawk Down is how it plays.
But we still have three chapters to go! As noted in the prior installment, the Action Heroes’ Cheat Sheet does for you the unenviable work of bringing to the table – or removing from it – some of the huge variety of traits that are available in GURPS and helping GMs and players tune their characters to the genre. Pulling Rank spends two pages squeezing the most out of the organizations that must live in the background (we’re buddy cops, which had better imply something), and then finally Chapter Four talks about gear in an action-movie way
Stay tuned . . . 

Great, so you went out and purchased GURPS Action 1: Heroes. Excellent choice. Your discernment makes you a paragon among men.

So open it up. Read the introduction. Good. Read it again.

Now read it again.


Got it? Good, because it’s that important.


No surprise for +Sean Punch, but I’m not kidding when I say that the introduction is very key to this entire series. In six tightly written paragraphs, our fearless author sets out some very important caveats for the book. They’re important enough that I’m going to deal with just this one page in a post by itself.

Ninja Nazis. We hate these guys.

  1. The book covers the style and feel of roughly a century of storytelling. The feel, plots, and archetypes derive from the pulps of the 1920s and 1930s. The visual style is pure cinema, from the 1930s through the 1950s, where good was good, bad was bad, and we hate Nazis. Finally, the high-caliber full-auto violence derives from the hard-edged 80s and 90s, when even comic books bled. Oh, and we’re borrowing the loving care for gear lavished on decades of appearances by Q. This one, not that one. 
  2. This book is around character design guidelines. They will be deep enough to allow fidelity to the genre
  3. The games will involve nonstop thrills and tension. If you have a down moment, it better because there’s a ticking bomb, or two ninjas/Nazis (or better yet, ninja Nazis!) getting ready to kick in the door. If it’s not high octane, you are expected to brush by it. The only real room for realistic but unexciting skills is to provide a moment of levity or to be used to obtain clues. But if you can make obtaining them exciting . . . do that instead.
  4. Most action/adventure movies feature a lone hero or perhaps a pair. Indiana Jones. Murtaugh and Riggs. Rambo. Riddick. Bond. However, most RPG groups are more than that – somewhere between the six in the GI Joe films, or the assault team from the first Predator movie or the Colonial Marines from Aliens. Well, before they all get killed. Fewer cast members than The Expendables. A superhero team like the Avengers would come close, but it’s not quite the right genre feel. The team from Ronin is about perfect (which it’s why it’s mentioned in the text, along with Ocean’s Eleven and Sneakers).
  5. Characters are defined by what they do, and the book will define them by niche. There will be a flavor-lens for exactly that – and those lenses will be useful – but in the words of Kuato, you are what you do. And much like a party in D&D, the game will benefit from multiple archetypes, while still supporting unique characters from the same archetype, and games where all can play the same one.
  6. The last paragraph is the most important. It states what it is not. It is not about realism. Where there’s grit, grime, and dirt, it serves as something to allow the hero(es) to rise above. PCs can get away with a lot that will get normal folks thrown in jail . . . but that’s because they’re always proved right in the end, and the opposition is truly despicable. To quote the final line in full, because it matters: “Use Action in serious games at your own risk!”
The introduction sets the tone for what follows. This book will be about high action, high adventure, and low-fidelity realism. What is awesome is what matters – though a high-action, high-competence game can be toned down to achieve the feel of Ronin. 
The rest of the book will provide templates, and how they fit various games and campaigns (Chapter 1), and actually providing the cut-down list of advantages, disadvantages, and skills that is appropriate to the genre. This is good advice, if lengthy to execute, for any campaign (to cut it down, that is), and Sean executes it for you. In Chapter 3, the background comes to life with advice on how to leverage the agencies and organizations to aid the mission. Finally, we hook up with Q for Chapter 4: Gear, which all sorts of toys.
We’ll cover each chapter in turn. 

Tonight we played in another session of Castle of Horrors. We set up a proper fire lane against some four-armed seige beasts, and more or less made as short work of the as one would expect with that many guns trained on flesh-and-blood 12-foot-tall humanoids. Which is to say: very short.

We can’t stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone, but give us some time and a bit of distance, and our motley collection of .308 rifles and 12G shotguns will do the trick on flesh-and-blood creatures. Turns out, they bled gold when killed.

I have never in my life seen a better rationale for murder-hobo-slaying for profit. Both our silver and our gold treasure turned out to be the death-blood of enchanted animated (?) creatures.

We recovered the statue of a crow that was calling to Jaime or Raleigh (I can’t recall), and circled the castle. We surmised – it turns out correctly – that the statue was a key that would open the portal to take us home.

We were right.

We ‘ported back and sold our precious metals for about $1100 each, I think. We kept some of the other things – like the old armor – we’d found, scouring off the rust and patching what holes existed. That turned into a Good suit of DR 8 plate that fit Raleigh. So yay.

Neil (me) grabbed his kevlar (DR 5, DR 10 vs bullets) vest and DR 25 trauma plates (vs. everything) that cover his chest. So now he’s DR 30 on his chest vs most things, DR 35 vs pi damage, but only DR 5 on his abdomen, and nothing anywhere else.

We started to fix the “anything else,” too. Mark allows us to get anything that we can find on the web, at the price listed. I express-ordered a Class IIIA ballistic helmet ($700) and integrated hearing protection and tactical communicator ($1300). That’s enough to protect against .44M rounds – 15.6 grams at 436m/s.

I also bought a fine katana (because I knew where to get one online that was ‘good enough’ quality) and a hatchet, for a bit of melee ability.

Then we decided to go hunt gargoyles.

We set up a trap, triggered it . . . and now have at least four gargoyles chasing Ryan (Emily’s character) down the hallway as we shoot at them. We formed a firing line and created a “funnel of death” for our ambush.

But they’re unliving and homogenous. pi- only do 1/10 damage, pi is 1/5, pi+ is 1/3, and pi++ is 1/2.

My rifle? 7.62x51mm SCAR 17S. So 7d penetration turn into about 1d+1 injury pretty fast, and these guys seem to have plenty of DR and HP.

We didn’t think this through the entire way. Our goal was to trap, isolate, and kill one of the gargoyles, and whittle them down one at a time. That’s still our goal, and we’ll see how our Endor-trap works.

Gargoyle Hunting: Not got-d**m big enough!


We have the right idea, but probably the wrong firearms. My .308 only will deliver about 1d+1 injury per hit, assuming DR 0 (which is a bad assumption from the get-go). So only a few points of damage per shot.

Contrast with other weapons:

A Ruger Super Redhawk in .454 Casull does 5d-1 pi+. That’s about 16 points of penetration, which will translate into 5 points of injury. That’s on par with my 7.62, so I’d still take the rifle.

The shotguns fare better. Full-bore slugs are nasty, and sabot slugs even nastier, and both are pi++. The rules say multiply shotgun damage by four, for 4d+4 each, which means 2d+2 injury depending on what gets past DR. that’s 11 points per shot, nearly doubling the rate of destruction. The Kel Tek KSG (which one of our characters carries) would be a good choice here. Sabot slugs are frequently about 12.7mm (pi+), and can hit very hard. The Remington 3″ copper slug – hollow-point no less! – should clock in at about 4d+2 pi++. So 16 points of penetration should then do 8 points of injury, again assuming that DR doesn’t drop it too much.

Unless you’re shooting actual slugs, you need to hit .60 caliber (15mm) before you eke out the real hurt.

An H&H Royal Double would do it. that’d 5dx2 pi ++, or 35 points of penetration, and 17 points of injury. That’s very nice if you have the $10K to spare. And you get two shots and probably a bruised shoulder.

The .50 Beowulf seems like it might be interesting but it works out to 5d or so pi+. That’s not terrible, but the shotgun is better, and the KSG has quite a few in the tubes.

The next step up has to be the .50 BMG. There are some quite portable bullpup .50 caliber rifles, such as the Desert Tech HTI. This bullpup, magazine-fed 12.7x108mm (.50 BMG) “only” weighs 20 lbs (unloaded) and has a 29″ barrel, which will hit for 12d pi+. That will strike for 4d injury, or about 14 points per shot. That’s the best yet, even better than with slugs, and with more raw energy in the round so as to better handle DR.

What about stone? Well, you can order armor piercing .50 BMG for those pesky gargoyle problems. At only $4 per shot.


The rifle itself isn’t cheap – it’s about $5,100. Ironically, for this particular mission, the usual Leopold or Schmidt and Bender optics can probably be ignored in favor of a high quality reflex sight. So for about $6,000 you can nab the rifle, an optic, and a few magazines of ammo (which won’t be light).

Parting Shot

That’s serious anti-gargoyle hardware. And since you don’t want to miss, you’ll want two people toting them, so you can aim/fire or fire/aim and hit hard once per second. Against flying targets that can dodge, you’ll want that.

But it is five inches longer (and 10-12 lbs heavier) than an M16 (though only an inch longer and 8 lbs heavier than an M14 . . . well, probably more like 10-12 lbs heavier with 10 rounds of .50 embarked).

But really, we knew we were going after up to eight nasty creatures with stone for skin that tended to shrug off bullets. Our “Let’s lure out a gargoyle and take them down one at a time” may still be a good plan. But they’re hard targets, and we’re not as well kitted out against these guys as we could be.

We shall see . . . next week!

We got in our first game of Castle of Horrors, a GURPS mash-up with modern day characters that get transported to a Dungeon Fantasy world. 

There are lots of house rules and altered point costs and stuff. I won’t go into that now – you can probably read all about them on +Mark Langsdorf‘s blog. The rules were arrived at more or less by consensus, in that Mark posted them, gave us time to offer objections or changes, and then locked ’em in. 

We were old friends from college, meeting on a big ranch in eastern Texas for a hunting weekend. In 2012, there was a Shadowrun-esque genetic expression event, so some of our party are non-humans/demi-humans. One troll-like creature, one dwarf, an Orc, I think. 

We started in the famous “you wake up from a night’s sleep” ploy (usually associated with bait-and-switch, but in this case, we were all forewarned, so booyah), and found ourselves in between a castle wall and its keep.

Initial exploration led us down a hallway, and it was spooky enough that all of us brought out weapons – especially after looking at what seemed to be bloodstained crossbow bolts embedded in a door. And the bolts were very organic-looking. Chitinous heads, some sort of bone-like or tube-like shaft, and freaking dragonfly wings for fletching. Looked grown,not made. So weapons out.


We were well provisioned, as one of the conceits of the campaign was that we were hunting deer, birds, and feral hogs, which are an agricultural pest. Ergo, some of us had fairly serious weaponry. My former Ranger, ex-Cop, current Private Investigator has a SCAR 17S, a Five-seveN pistol, with ammo. He’s also got a FN BAR .300 Win Mag somewhere – maybe “in camp,” but we were all in camp. So I might have it with me. He’s got a bunch of other stuff – like armor and trauma plates – in his car and trailer back at the ranch owner’s house. But not with him.

Anyway, we explore, we get shot at by a four-armed giant dude (!) with a crossbow. which strikes one of our NPCs in the chest, bringing him from 15 down to -13 HP in one shot. Roll for mortal wound, etc. We drag him out and close the door, and are not pursued.

Raleigh, who has always professed magic is real, mutters something in latin and removes the arrow and completely heals her boyfriend. Yowzers. We freak out even more. Well, except for Yousef ( +Nathan Joy ) and Neil (me), who are both ex military and were watching the line of approach of potential 4-armed bad guys. 

We collect ourselves, and as we try and leave. the statuary (four dragons) starts waking up. One tries to breathe fire on Ryan (our troll, played by +Emily Smirle ), who tries to step in and melee parry the jet (which means pushing the face in a different direction). That doesn’t work: he’s burned for 1 point of damage, but has DR 5 so mostly ignores it. 

We fight, and these SM -4 critters are easily slain at close range (just a few HP each) by our weapons. My first shot was 31 HP of damage with three single shots (one hit) with no time to Aim from my SCAR. Yousef pasted one as well, as did a shotgunner with a 3″ 12-gauge buckshot load. One of us got his face a bit flambe’d, but only minor damage and sartorial embarrassment. So we ran for the outer courtyard.

We huddled up, and decided to explore the outer area. We saw, through a gateway which featured a crane that had hoisted up a functional portcullis, a bunch of . . . well . . . gremlins? Yodas? Goblins? Hrm. Goblins. 

Ryan, being a friendly, non-shooty troll, waves. Neil, being less friendly, takes careful aim.

They wave back. Yousef, whose job in the army was as a translator and liaison type (maybe Special Forces?), muttered about not wanting to do this crap again which is why he got out, etc., and goes in to play diplomat. He does not manage to start a fight. We manage to not ruin his perfectly good liaising. We, however, look into a window and see a cool silver statue of a raven (Crow! Crow, dammit!) on an altar inside an obvious chapel . . . which seemed to be all blocked off as if to ward of a horde of zombies.

The hits just keep on coming.

Anyway, we decide to venture back in, and note that the dragon statues blood looked like actual silver. It was. Maybe a few pounds of the stuff, which was probably worth about $500. 

We decide to explore, just a little. We take down a door, encased in brass or bronze, by removing it off its hinges, and prop that against the entry beyond which was the four-armed creatures. We go down south again, and find a statue upon which is a suit of full-on plate armor. DR8, cheap, reinforced vitals, weak back and limbs, weighs about 55 lbs total . . . and only fits Raleigh. We suit her up (she’s got ST 11, Lifting ST 12, and HP 13 . . . so no wilting flower is she). 

As we all head back to the main room, which we called “the octagon,” (on account of its being shaped like . . . well, you know), the gargoyle statues in each vertex (eight of ’em!) start to writhe and wake up, as did the dragon statues in the prior room.

We end there . . . but it’s on. 

***

I’ll keep updating this with edits from the other players as they make them. I did not try and capture every detail, and I was having too much fun to capture screen shots.

Mark did a GM-view post on our first session as well, and it’s worth reading. He also links to the CoH Wiki as well as a list of house rules. especially his new fright check rules, which worked very well.