Friday, January 7, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - EVERYN WOLFSHADOW

One of my all time favorite Japanese Tabletop RPGs is Wares Blade

First published in 1988, Wares Blade is a Fantasy Role Playing Game in which the components and tropes of Medieval Fantasy are merged with those of the Giant Robot/Mecha genre popular throughout the world but [arguably] originating in Japan.

Unlike many other examples of the Fantasy and Mecha combination, the mechs of Wares Blade are not purely technological or steampunk but magical artifacts. It isn't Magic and Technology but it is Magic and Machinery. The machinery in this world is powered and created by enchantments and sorcery. 

Years ago when I was regularly gaming with my old New Jersey group, I found out that some of the gang's favorite Anime and Manga included such titles as Aura Battler Dunbine, Panzer World Galient, and (one I love myself) Rune Masquer. What do all these have in common? They are all in the vein of Giant Robot Fantasy. 

Realizing this, I decided to give a Wares Blade campaign with the group (including my ex-wife Selina) the old college try. The results were...well...magical. 


Character: Everyn Wolfshadow

AKA: The Forest Witch, The Wolf Woman of the Remote North

Player: Selina Wong

System: Mekton II - Modified with Houserules and Elements of Wares Blade, 1st Edition.
 
Campaign: The World of Magic and Machinery

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein 

Circa: 

Sadly this campaign only went about five sessions before scheduling became too difficult to continue. Not being able to continue this game with this group is one of my great RPG gaming regrets.
 




Origins: In addition to the reasons given above, one of the things I really wanted to do around this time was introduce my girlfriend of the time (later my wife) to gaming with a group. We had already been playing RPGs together just the two of us; her as the main character and me as Gamemaster and a cast of thousands. She had yet to play an ongoing game with a large group and so I developed a portion of this game to facilitate that. 

In addition to the setting - which incidentally looks and feels like Medieval Europe has been crossed with Arabian and North African cultures and civilizations - and of course the pre-requisite Japanese Mecha battles, I really wanted the game to be about the Player Characters. I wanted their personal stories, goals, and obstacles to be paramount.

Selina has always been uniquely well-suited for this type of game; equally capable of engaging in edge-of-your-seat, visceral combat and gut-wrenching, emotional trials and tribulations. There is a reason we initially bonded over our mutual love of Anime.

Backstory: When we first meet Everyn Wolfshadow she is traveling through the Southern Lands of the continent of Ahan. She seemed almost lost but later revealed that she spirits of the Water had told her this was where she needed to be. Her only companion was Rowan, a rather large wolf. 

It was later be revealed that Everyn was blind, the result of a curse placed upon her for falling in love with a young man who severed as one of her nations' Hunters and Rangers. The group of Witches she had trained to become were forbidden from having such relationships. Luckily she found Rowan or he her and her mystical powers allowed her to 'see' through his keen wolf senses. 

What she did not know was that Rowan had been cursed as well and was once the young Hunter with whom she had shared her heart. 

Overview: I had either forgotten or didn't quite absorb the detail that Everyn was blind. I think I thought her curse was more of a banishment; i.e. she was 'cursed' to never again walk the verdant forests of the Elves or something like that. 

None of the other players or PCs knew of her handicap either until at one point in the second or third session when the group planned to uncover an ancient magical mech which legends say slept beneath the city of Flare. The party would split into three groups - One would search the great Library of the Flare for a old tome that would help pinpoint the Ryude Knight's location. Another would speak with the Duke and Duchess of Flare to convince them to stay a visiting noble they believed sought out the mech as well [on behalf of an enemy nation]. Finally, the last group would infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves Guild, as they had recently stolen a key needed to activate the mech. 

Everyn was chosen to search the Library given her high intellect, affinity for water magic (Flare was built on bridges over a river and tales said the Mecha might be in or near the river), and the presence of an Elf in the city might make other nervous [never mind the wolf]. Everyn was find with this as long as one other PC accompanied her. Jarod Steele, knightly 'half-Elf' agreed to go but remarked that she has shown she could take care of herself. Plus there was Rowan! She smiled and said politely, "Yes but I can not read the pages without assistance."

Someone started muttering something about language when all of a sudden our friend Lynn exclaimed, "Wait! Everyn is blind!" The room fell silent for a moment, followed by a symphony of hands slapping foreheads. All the clues had been there and yet no one had realized it. 

Selina, playing as Everyn, never looked directly at myself (as GM) or any other player when speaking to a PC or NPC. She instead leaned in with her ear angled slightly in the other persons direction. She mimed feeling around before pretending to grab an object, including drawing her dagger. She always established a link of sorts with Rowan as her first action in combat, especially before casting any spells. Best of all, she had been doing all that since the first session and the rest of us were just then putting it together. 

Best Actress in a Dramatic Medieval Mecha Fantasy Campaign goes to... 




The Highlights:

Aside from the big reveal mentioned above, there was a fantastic sequence when the PCs finally discovered the Ryude of Flare, a red, winged Mecha which had been buried deep beneath the riverbed far below the elegant city. Of all those with magical abilities, only Everyn had access to the domain or 'Gate' of Water. This meant she was the only one who could her people safely to the gigantic robot. 

She ends up one of the two pilots, with our Warrior Prince controlling the mech's movements and physical combat and Everyn supplying Mana to activate the machine's special abilities. Unfortunately the group's fortunes reversed - the Ryude Knight had wings but Everyn's Gates were Sun, Tree, and Water! Unable to fly or use the robot's Fire based enchantments, the two PC's nonetheless managed a bold if awkward escape, aided by the rest of the team. When in the light of the Sun, Everyn transferred as much Mana to the Mecha as she could and it did indeed take to the air to cheers from the whole group. 

So beloved was the character by the other players that, as you can see, two separate people decided to do illustrations of her. Both Lynn Morton (Left Side Drawing) and Keith Conroy (Right Side Drawing) - without discussing it with each other - surprised Selina with these drawings around session five. I love both for different reasons. 

Game Info:

I have Everyn Wolfshadow's original Character Sheet from the game but since I used a hybrid system merging Mekton II with what few translations I could find of Wares Blade 1st Edition, I can't really make heads or tales of it. Heh. *Anime Sweat Drop*

I can tell you that her Physical and Social Stats were about average, her Mental and Magical Stats quite good, and her skill at Sorcery and Spellcasting especially high. Wolfshadow is knowledgeable about Plants and Beasts, has a Keen Sense of Hearing and Smell even without connecting with Rowan, and is capable of Blind-Fighting with her Quarterstaff. She can also play the flute, though she isn't very good at it. At all. 

She has a magical item known as the Bracer of the Clear Path - worn on the wrist and forearm, the Bracer tugs you towards of the path or direction with the fewest and/or easiest to overcome obstacles. The perfect thing for a blind Elf moving through unfamiliar country. 

I hope to run a long campaign of Wares Blade someday and if I do, I'd like to think that Everyn Wolfshadow and Rowan might call upon the PCs to help her lift her curse and return her sweetheart to his rightful form. 

Someday...

Hey, you there bumping gums. Yeah, you! We're trying to make tracks before the coppers get here see, so don't be a pill. Don't worry, we're on our way to go see FRANKIE THE FERRET so relax and don't flip your wig. 

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Barking Alien







Thursday, January 6, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - DIETRICH ARMBUSTER

Steampunk is one of those genres I don't delve into very often. Not because I don't enjoy it but like Medieval Fantasy, it rarely lands for me in a way that gives me a lasting desire to run or play it.

Often I find that Steampunk is a more interesting concept than any one example of its execution. Not just more than the sum of its parts but only the sum of its parts. 

There are exceptions. One such work, Nadia - The Secret of Blue Water, is a Japanese Anime Series and Film that was among the first products I ever saw from the acclaimed Studio GAINAX, the production group behind Neon Genesis Evangelion. The story deals with two young people, Nadia and Jean, as they team up to avoid jewel thieves who are after Nadia's blue crystal pendent. Things take an epic turn and the tale greatly expands when the youngsters are rescued by none other then Captain Nemo and learn the secret of Nadia's necklace, The Blue Water. 

It wasn't long after seeing the film that I got to play a Japanese Tabletalk RPG clearly inspired by The Secret of Blue Water and other Steampunk stories popular in Japan called Gear Antique. I played the bodyguard and personal assistant of a 13 year old, German boy genius named Dietrich Armbuster.



Character: Dietrich Armbuster

AKA: The Crossbow Boy

Player: I do not recall the player's name. 

System: Gear Antique, 1st Edition - Tsukuda Hobby
 
Convention One-Shot: How The Battle Lost Its Weapon

Gamemaster: I don't recall the GM's name either. Gomen nasai!

Circa: 1991 or 92.

The game took place over a few hours at a small, local RPG convention in New Jersey. By small I mean as compared to modern conventions like GenCon and Origins or even Dexcon.

Origins: I remember the GM telling me that he'd spent several years stationed in Japan in while in the US Armed Forces and had only been back a few months prior to running the game. In his time oversea he'd developed a love of Anime and Manga but he'd been a TRPG gamer since the late 70s.

He picked up several Japanese RPGs while over there and really wanted to introduce his friends in the US to these games when he got back but all they wanted to do was return to their old D&D campaign. Frustrated at first, he decided to apply to run a few games at this convention. 

Having seen The Secret of Blue Water before leaving Japan, Gear Antique was one of the games he definitely wanted to showcase.


Gear Antique Boxed Set, 1991

The contents


The PCs were pre-generated but we (the players) could make minor adjustments and give them any personality that we wished. I took a big, brute of a man who may have been part Faerie or Giant (it was never definitively confirmed). In my backstory I'd saved the boy inventor Dietrich Armbuster from a group of ruffians who turned out to be 'Foreign Agents' trying to kidnap the lad. 

The fellow who chose Dietrich and I instantly formed a connection and broke into in-character banter immediately; he the adventurous but serious boy on a mission and me the protective 'older brother' type who kept him safe while struggling to understand the scientific jargon he regularly spouted. 

Backstory: Dietrich Armbuster was a brilliant inventor and had been ever since he was 5 years old. At the young age of half a decade, Armbuster invented a Pneumatic Crossbow. Now, at the age of 13, his weapon was a thing of terrible beauty. From its simple beginnings it was now capable of holding a multiple bolt 'clip', firing a variety of trick quarrels, and could build pressure sufficient to put down a the enemy's mobile, steam-powered vehicles (Steampunk Tanks). 

An Evil Organization bent on world domination was after the weapon and hoped to capture Dietrich as well as force him to invent more wonderous weaponry. With my character's help he'd managed to escape but they weren't going to give up easily. 

After a series of adventures that took place prior to the scenario we played, Dietrich and I were now part of a group of individuals who all had a beef with the Evil Organization. Among them was a Female Teenager of British origin, her Mechanical Maid, and a dashing French Swordsman. The British young lady was the daughter of an spy and had learned many espionage skills. Our mission was to make it across Paris to the newly completed Eiffel Tower to meet with an airship at the top. The Airship Captain was a trusted contact of hers who would then get us to safety. 

Overview: Fun. Just absolute, rip-roaring, no-holds-barred fun.

The personalities, the period/genre perfect dialog, the over-the-top action, and yet simultaneously subdued 'look' of everything was just picture perfect. The GM managed to get the feel of Steampunk Anime while at the same time making it all comprehensible to the non-Otaku members of the group. 

I realize I've talked a lot about the game and not the character of Dietrich Armbuster specifically. There are is a reason for this; I thought it best to first establish the world of Gear Antique since most of my readers would be completely unfamiliar with it. Now that you've got the gist, I'll discuss Armbuster a bit more. 

In a game scenario such as this, with an unfamiliar genre, system, and setting, a true ensemble cast adventure would prove difficult. People learn and adapt to things at different speeds. With this in mind it made sense to have a 'Star Character' or at the very least one of two leads and have the scenario largely revolve around them. Dietrich was certainly that character, with the plot of trying to capture an experimental weapon and its inventor made all the more urgent and relatable when one of the PCs is said inventor and is carrying said weapon.

To his credit, the player who played Armbuster got it right off the bat and used said bat to knock it out of the park (Ooh! Look at me! I made a sportsball analogy all by myself!). Not only was he everything a young male Anime lead should be - Clever, Gung-Ho, Empathic, and Annoyingly Adorable - but he did it in such a way that it made it that much easier for everyone else to fall into their roles.

Showing off his scientific knowledge but being naive in regards to who to trust made me look all the more street smart but book dim. Being brave and concerned for her safety while implying it might be 'too dangerous' for a young lady established a relationship with the teenage female-spy-in-training that was right out of many Anime.. 

The Highlights:

It's been a while but in one instance Armbuster was hanging off the Eiffel Tower by a Grappling Line Bolt he fired to prevent himself from plummeting to his death (have I mentioned how much I love the word plummet? Not enough plummeting occurs in games these days).

The English girl chastised him for his continuously reckless behavior and the two started to bicker. Meanwhile the main villain, a man dressed in an elaborate and eccentric Napoleonic general's uniform, begins to sneakily descend on them from higher up the tower. The Englishwoman is tapped on the shoulder by her Automaton Assistant, who then slaps her lightly across the face, lifts Dietrich up by the line, places him safely on the landing, and then slaps his face. The two stare at her stunned, look at each other, and burst into laughter. 

Just then the Metal Maid is yanked off the platform by the villain and thrown to her destruction! The villain drew a pistol, the Frenchman disarmed him with his sword, and tDietrich handed my character a bolt and shouted, "Jump!"

My eyes bulged for a second and then I did. I leapt off the landing and fell like a stone. Dietrich called for the Mechanical Maid to release any pent up steam, which (with a Wind of Luck Roll) slowed her descent a bit. Then I clicked a button on the bolt and POOF! - a hybrid Parachute/Balloon burst out, enabling me to grab the Automaton and the two of us crashed to the ground below, injured but alive. SO exciting!




Game Info:

I wish! I don't have the stats or info for any of the characters from this game as it wasn't one I ran. Additionally, I was never able to get a copy of Gear Antique, though I friend of mine had a copy which enabled me to run a few short games back in the day. 

I might go into greater detail on the game and its system in the future when I return to my discussions of Japanese TRPGs. 




Notes:

Armbuster comes from the term 'amburst' - an old Germanic word for a crossbow. 

My character had an Orkney accent based on having recently heard it on a British sitcom. 

Next...

We continue exploring the worlds and characters of Japanese TRPGs with EVERYN WOLFSHADOW, an Elven Forest Witch who travels with her seeing-eye Wolf. Smell you then! 

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Barking Alien







Wednesday, January 5, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - CARLACC ACEN

This post commemorates a fallen character as well as a friend I lost touch with long ago. Sometime after this campaign we disappeared from each others' lives and I've always thought that was a damn shame. Junior, this one's for you.



Character: Carlacc 'Junior' Acen

AKA: The Crazy Ace, Blue Seven/Blue Ace

Player: Junior

System: Star Wars, The Roleplaying Game, 2nd Edition - West End Games
 

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein

Circa: 1992-1993. It is possible I am off by a year or two. It occurred a year before my Ever The Brave campaign, though the story [in universe] is set after that one chronologically. 

Origins: My friend Junior was a very cool and dapper fellow, always well dressed as I recall, who frequented the uptown Forbidden Planet when I worked there. We would talk comics, movies, and all the usual geek stuff. He certainly didn't look like a geek, with his tie, leather shoes, and stylish haircut but he was definitely one of us. 

One day, he overhead myself, two other employees, and two other friends talking about starting a Star Wars RPG campaign. He was hugely excited. Junior had only played D&D as far as I know and was a big Star Wars fan. The others, some of whom already knew him from the store, made it clear they were totally down to have him join in. 

He showed up with a very clear idea for his character - Carlacc Acen, Brash Pilot and former member of the Rebel Alliance. Also, a guy who wasn't necessarily firing on all thrusters...

Backstory: Carlacc Acen Junior was a Rebel Alliance X-Wing Pilot who first flew during the Battle of Endor and became of New Republic Pilot following the end of the Galactic Civil War. A relative rookie, he scored numerous kills against TIE Fighters and Interceptors over Endor and in a number of post-Endor operations against the Imperial Remnants. His original callsign was 'Blue Seven', though he had gotten the nick name the 'Blue Ace'.

Many wondered if Acen was using The Force when he flew, as his split second timing and wild maneuvers would be next to impossible for even the most seasoned of pilots. Acen always attributed to luck that would most likely come to collect some day.

During his last mission with the New Republic Navy, his squadron had been set up by bad intel and was completely wiped out except for Acen, who ended up being captured by the Imperials. Something happened to Carlacc after a year in Imperial captivity and when he was finally transferred to a Victory Class Star Destroyer for transportation to 'Penal Colony Double Zero' he was considered a bit unhinged. 

When the Star Destroyer he was on was attacked by the religious sect known as the Ho'Ken'Tota, Acen teamed up with several other prisoners to escape and carry out justice against the remains of the Galactic Empire being run by the mysterious Prakken Drol. 

Overview: Carlacc Acen's appearance is no accident - Junior specifically said he wanted him to look like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. He imagined a former Rebel turned Republic Pilot who was constantly holding Survivor's Guilt at bay but just barely. 

While initially portrayed in a comedic light, Junior would periodically give much more serious glimpses into Acen's state of mind and the brief but meaningful moments really stood out. I have not idea if the subject was one Junior knew from experience or whether he had simply read a great deal about it and wanted to explore it as a character concept. In either case I feel like he managed to balance the elements of the character very well and it definitely left me considering Carlacc Acen to be one of the most interesting Star Wars characters I've encountered in a game. 

The Highlights:

Carlacc was always good for snappy one-liners, reckless actions, and daring saves of his teammates - though they saved him as much if not more often. Indeed it was his friendship with the rest of the team that eventually help him to come to terms with his past experiences and look forward to the future.

That said...

In the final session of Tales from The Rim, Carlacc is piloting a starfighter the PCs helped design and test, the Incom/Subpro Z-100 Skulldiver, against the forces of the team's nemesis Prakken Drol (a former Jedi Inquisitor). With members of the PC group split between fighting Drol personally and handling his swarm of TIE fighters in space, Acen realizes it is a delay tactic so villain can launch an invasion of the planet below. 


Carlacc Acen's personal Z-100 Skulldiver Starfighter.
Illustration by Aristides Iliopoulos - Colors by Me

With his trademark laugh and some banter to his Astromech Droid R2-D12, Carlacc flew straight for the bridge of Drol's Interdictor Class Star Destroyer, firing everything he had while on route. This included the fighter's nose mounted Ion Cannon and several Concussion Missiles, rendering much of the Destroyer inoperable in seconds. With a loud 'Yahoo!', Acen crashed his vessel into the Interdictor's command center in a blossoming explosion that killed the vessel's Captain, Tar Moloff, as well as Carlacc himself. 

His final words before the 'Yahoo' was, "I decide when my luck's run out'. 

Game Info:

Carlacc Acen's original Character Sheet:




While not noted on the sheet, Carlacc Acen usually fought with a blaster in each hand when in ground combat. His favorite combo was his trusty Blaster Pistol and a stolen...er...liberated Imperial Trooper Blaster Carbine in the other (a shorter version of the Stormtrooper E-11 Blaster Riftle). His Astromech R2-D12 was red and white which was the subject of arguments between the robot and his owner, who thought D12 should be blue to go with Acen's 'Blue Ace' motiff.


Notes:

I don't remember the player's real name. 

Our group, myself, and everyone I know that knew him called him 'Junior'. As you can see by his original character sheet, he never filled in 'Player's Name'. We called him Junior so much that even though I [as GM] tried to address the player's by their Character's names during the game, I would always end up calling Junior 'Junior'. It was decided that it was his PC's nickname as well. 

I know where he worked and I've tried to find him or find out what became of him but to no avail. Junior, if you are out there and you read this post, check me out on Facebook. I'd love to hear from you again ol' friend. 

It should be noted the Junior the Player was an African American Male in his early 20s. Carlacc Acen looks like Mel Gibson. That is what he wanted so that's what he got. 

Legacy: In my Star Wars RPG Universe there is a New Republic Flight Training School named after Acen located on the planet Kolindoor. 

Additionally, PC Jeard'en Kaine and NPC Naena Moondrift married and had a child and the boy's middle name is Carlacc. He is often referred to as 'Junior'. 

From the legends of a distant galaxy to adventure in the Victorian Age, meet the well-armed young inventor DIETRICH ARMBUSTER and the world of Gear Antique!

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Barking Alien






Tuesday, January 4, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - BO

Dogs are amazing.

The name of this blog should give you a hint but yeah, I really love dogs. I have ever since I was a little boy. My parents had a beagle before I was born and I grew up with him until I was about 5 or 6. When my parents divorced, my father always had dogs. I got my first dog, purely mine, in 2007-2008 or there abouts. My current dog Sketch has been with me always four years now. 

I run a dog walking service, walking and caring for dogs for a living. 

Therefore, it probably won't come as a surprise to anyone that one of my favorite PCs ever was a Bluetick Coonhound Mix in a very unusual game of Bunnies and Burrows.


Character: Bo

AKA: Beauregard Swanson. 

Player: Adam Dickstein

System: Bunnies and Burrows, 1st or 2nd Edition - Heavily Modified Homerules 

I am unsure of which edition formed the basis of the rules. 
 
Campaign:
 Out On The Farm, Down By The River

Gamemaster (s): Matt W. 

Circa: 1979 to 1982 (See below).

Origins: A local television station aired the 1978 film Watership Down, based on the novel by Richard Adams, at some point between '79 and 81'. As the urban legend goes, the TV station aired the film not having fully reviewed it; believing animated film equaled 'for children'.

Around the same time our English class was covering George Orwell's Animal Farm

One day, with these stories and their ideas spinning through our young minds, my friend Matthew pulled a book out of his backpack and showed it to me. It was the rulebook for the RPG Bunnies and Burrows. He said, "I've had this for weeks but didn't know what to do with it. Now I do."

A week after announcing to our gaming group that he wanted to run a campaign for us, Matt assembled everyone together for Character Creation and an expanded explanation of the game he had in mind. 

What he described was life on a farm, with each PC playing the role of an animal on that farm or the land surrounding it. Something was going to threaten the peace of The Farm and we'd have to deal with it, as a group but also in our own way. 

"Can I play a dog?", I asked. Probably didn't even think about the question before asking it.

"Yes", Matt said.

All I needed to hear. Sold. 

Backstory: Beauregard 'Bo' Swanson was one of five pups born to Buck and Bella Swanson in The Barn on The Farm. He was a good dog. A very good dog. All the people said so. 

He got to go in The House. He slept inside The House sometimes and sometimes in his own house. A Dog House. He had his own blanket. He watched The Children. He guarded The Swanson Family, The House, and The Chickens. 

One day The Land and The Sky switched places. The winds which The Owl rode twisted together and hit The House and The Farm. The Farm was gone and The Animals looked to Bo for help but Bo needed to find and help The People. 

Bo was a good boy. 

Overview: I hope I am not alone in feeling that there are some campaigns that are so extraordinary, so beyond the regular fare, that they feel impossible to continue, duplicate, or top. A game were everything - every session, every character, every moment - hit the right notes so perfectly that you know you will never play that same song that well ever again. 

Lightning in a bottle.

I've had games like that. My 'The Legend of Boot Hill' campaign is like that. I want to go back to it someday but I think, 'If the next one as good as that  one or better, why even bother?'

Our one and only Bunnies and Burrows campaign was one of those games.

I will do my best to give you an Overview but I don't know if I can do it justice. Basically, it started with a farm, with Rabbits stealing vegetables, a wise Owl giving advice but paying with one of your own in return, a dog patrolling the grounds like the castle guard, and clueless pigs enjoying their lives of perceived luxury. 

Then at the end of the first session it was all dashed to bits. The setting was hit by a tornado and the entire thing turned inside out and upside down. The PCs looked to me for leadership because I acted like I was in charge but I was just a dog doing a job. With the Humans apparently gone, I had no idea what to do. 

Idyllic day-in-the-life fun turned desperate game of tragedy and survival. Just incredible. 

The Highlights:

The Rabbits coming to me for help was one of the scenes that will stay in my memory forever. 

Debris had filled their warrens with metal, wood, and other materials they couldn't move. Sharp objects were everywhere. Many were hurt, some badly. They asked for my help because they'd seen how well respected Bo was, how smart he seemed, and how I appear to understand Human things better than most animals. 

Bo barked and growled at them. He had nothing but spite for The Rabbits. He had no interest in helping them. They weren't animals of The Farm. They were thieves. The Family, the farmers, hated The Rabbits and therefore so did Bo. Bo needed to help The Animals on The Farm. Bo needed to find The Family. Bo needed help from the other Dogs. Why on Earth would Bo help The Rabbits?

Another PC, a Rabbit calmly pleaded with me saying something along the lines of, "Because we need help, you're a good boy Bo, and good boys help." Damn. Got me right in the loyal dog feels. 

Another great moment was finding The Children - The Boy and The Girl - alive in the wreckage of The House, only to have to face off with a Mountain Lion. Thanks to fantastic team work and creative tactics from the Owl and The Pigs, we managed to drive it off. Yeah, we didn't even defeat it really but we did win; the Mountain Lion left, realizing any potential meal to be gained was not worth the pain and the trouble. 

Game Info:

It's been an incredibly long time since I played this campaign and it was the one and only Bunnies and Burrows campaign I was ever in (though I might have run one or more one shots). I don't remember anything about the rules and even if I did or if I had the old Character Sheet it probably wouldn't help you.

The game was heavily overhauled, with Matt spending a week creating alterations to the rules. I recall PCs being defined by their Animal (gives Attribute adjustments and basic abilities), their Calling (Class/Profession), and their Nature (kind of like Alignment meets the character's Goals - used to determine Experience Points and other aspects of the game).

Bo was Dog - Guardian - Loyalty if memory serves. 




Next, a 21 Blaster Salute in a Galaxy Far, Far Away to the fallen hero of the Tales of the Rim Campaign - say Bright Suns and Farewell to CARLACC ACEN!

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Barking Alien







Monday, January 3, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - BLACK ADDER

After 45 years of RPG and Comic Book Fandom, I've seen a lot of Superheroes.

Keep in mind that following Space Adventure Science Fiction, Supers is the genre I've run and placed the most. This makes it especially exciting for me when I feel the desire to post a Superhero character to this challenge. It says to me, 'Of the [possibly] hundreds of costumed crimefighters I've seen, people should know about this one"!



Character: Black Adder 

AKA: Real Name Unknown.

Player: Conrad Cleophat

System: Mutants & Masterminds, 2st Edition. 
 
Campaign:
 Dynamos Unlimited

Gamemaster (s): Adam Dickstein

Circa: 2003-2004

Origins: I am not sure what Conrad was thinking when he created Black Adder, except to say that he fully embraced the campaign's premise (See Overview) and paid homage to a very particular era of comics. 

Backstory: Black Adder was one of the first (if not the first) known Black Superheroes to appear in the Dynamos Universe (my original setting for the Dynamos Unlimited campaign). He was a very young man when he came on the scene in 1966 (the same year that Black Panther became the first Black Superhero in comics in the real world). 

He had an active career fighting bigotry, inner-city violence and drug abuse, gangsters, and the occasional Supervillain until sometime around 1977. It was then that he met, fell in love with, and eventually married his sweetheart, eventually having a child together. Unfortunately, the couple fell on rough times and were divorced by the late 80s. Black Adder attempted a brief comeback around this time but things just weren't the same and he eventually adapted to civilian life. 

When the call went out for heroes following the OMEGA-ALPHA Event, Black Adder (now in his early 60s) came out of retirement to fight the good fight once again. It became apparent pretty quickly that he was out of practice, showing his age, and didn't always see eye to eye with the younger Supers. At the same time, his heart and determination eventually won the respect of his new team. 

Overview: Following the defeat of an extra-dimensional menace known as Cataclysm, the world's greatest superhero team, The Dynamos, are largely decimated. This incident became known as the OMEGA-ALPHA Event. Only a few members of the team remained and many were in no shape to continue the fight against evil. 

With the need for heroes ever present, the International Suprahuman Intelligence Group Highly Trained (or I.N.S.I.G.H.T.) immediately went to work assembling a new team. The only remaining Supers were the old, the new, the hidden, and the forgotten. 

Basically, imagine if Marvel lost the Avengers or DC lost the Justice League and all that was left to replace them were 'B' and 'C' tier characters or older Superhero who might have been popular once but hadn't been seen in a long time. 

Conrad played Black Adder as a man a little out of touch but still bearing the swagger of Shaft. We always went in smooth and solid as a rock until is was clear he was in over his head. His cooler-than-ice facade would waver in the face of the more bizarre aspects of the modern Superhuman world or when his classic moves don't land the way he expected. What made him awesome was the dichotomy between the two aspects of the character; the famous in his day, badass Superhero and the blue-collar, regular joe trying to relive his glory days. 

The Highlights:

The late David Cotton had a character in the campaign called Impact; a 12 year old boy who's magical belt transformed him into an adult, superpowered wrestler. His mind was still the kid's. Whenever Black Adder would make a crazy suggestion or when he'd mess up, Dave would have Impact say (in a little kid voice), "What do we bring this guy?!" It became a running gag that Conrad fully embraced.

At one point Black Adder runs into an old arch-enemy, Jim Crow. The villain appears to be a scarecrow dressed in a Civil War era Confederate uniform and on fire. In addition, his face looks very Human. It is never made clear but he may be a supernatural entity of some kind. Jim Crow attacked Black Adder, the former not having a day and Conrad wisely used the local environment I described to jump into a fountain, protecting himself from his enemy's flames. With teamwork on the part of Black Adder and two other heroes, Adder managed to knock Crow into the fountain causing the entity to dissipate and vanish. 

Later in the campaign the heroes are on a scavenger hunt, racing against time and enemy forces to find a set of magical artifacts. I.N.S.I.G.H.T. gives them a list of potential opponents they might encounter and while reading it Black Adder has this exchange...

Black Adder: "The Hiroshima Shadow? That's a villain? Who's The Hiroshima Shadow?"

I.N.S.I.G.H.T. Agent: "They say he's the ghost of an atomic bomb explosion."

Black Adder: (Stares at GM/Agent for several seconds) "What the hell does that even mean?!"

Lastly, Black Adder would sometimes talk about his daughter, apparently a Superheroine herself named 'Baby Boom', who could charge things with Bio-Electric Energy and cause them to explode. He loved her but they had an estranged relationship. He thought about calling her to help the team a few times but didn't trust some of his team members around his little girl (who was in her late twenties). 

Game Info:

I can not find the character sheet for Black Adder, which sucks. He was built in Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition at 10th Level with around 150 points. 

He was slightly stronger than a normal person, considerably more agile, and a fairly skilled Martial Artist. His main power was delivering a Bio-Electric Attack by touch - The Adder Bite - that could either paralyze a person or knock them unconscious. It is very similar to the power that Marvel's Miles Morales/Spiderman has, though pre-dating him by 7 years.




Next up...

Dogs. They're Man's best friend but how are they with Rabbits? Find out as we meet BO - a Good Boy. A Very Good Boy.

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