An Endzeitgeist.com review
This primer for Mike Myler's Mists of Akuma-setting clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page sales-pitch for the kickstarter - so what do we get in here?
Okay, this is pitched as eastern fantasy noir steampunk for 5th edition - basically what would happen if you took the eagerly anticipated Steampunk Musha and infused a hefty dose of Ravenloft with more emphasis on the fantastic. After a brief page of introductory prose, we get the one component that may alone very much justify downloading this primer: The Mists of Akuma. These would basically be a variant of the mists of Ravenloft crossed with Rokugan's Shadowlands - essentially, they require a Dignity saving throw (DC 8 + 1 per previous save in the last minute) and, on a failure, increase your haitoku attribute. Much like fatigue, the effects of these mists come in multiple levels, 8 to be precise, but they do feature some severe...changes. What begins with hallucinations quickly turns to include mutations and later, death and transformation into an Oni!
The pdf also introduces a new attribute - Haitoku, which can be considered to be the fall from dignity, or the corruption of the character. The most approximate translation, if my rusty and rather rudimentary Japanese doesn't deceive me, would be "immorality". This attribute can be raised by roleplaying and actions and one can draw upon it to act while unconscious, resist madness and accomplish similar feats. 3 sample feats based on haitoku are provided, showcasing how the corruption interacts with dignity et al. On an aesthetic point - Prerequisites of attributes in 5e usually sport "attribute required or higher", not just the attribute required line, but that is, admittedly, a cosmetic gripe.
4 new character backgrounds, all with flavorful features can be found - interesting: Background influences Haitoku as well as Dignity. The pdf also sports a variety of human subraces, two variants of shikome and two types of tanuki. On a nitpicky side, the rules-language, while generally precise, is a bit internally inconsistent, sometimes using "your Strength score increases", while other times stating "Your Strength increases..." - again, a cosmetic gripe...but I figured I'll point it out for the final book's benefit anyways. Paladins may select the samurai sacred oath and Warlocks the Wu-Jen pact...and this is where the pdf already ends.
Editing and formatting are pretty good, but not yet perfect - seeing that this is free and that generally, it can be considered well-made, no complaints. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with public domain art. The pdf sports a nice map of the lands by Michael McCarthy and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Okay, I have to once again harp on that one: This is no primer. This is a sample - while this is a small book that highlights components of Akuma, I don't really know that much about the setting after reading this book. I know that some races exist, some obvious traditional class options exist and that haitoku is an (awesome!) thing and that the mist rules are sufficiently cool to make me excited about this project. But it's not "introductory". I know there are a bunch of cool components to scavenge here; I certainly like what's implied - e.g. that augmentations can affect dignity, the blending of steampunk and noir aesthetics - I like just about all I see...or I think I do. Because, honestly, I have a hard time putting the pieces presented herein together. So no, I don't consider this a primer. However, I consider it a great teaser for Mists of Akuma - and one that certainly has a lot of scavenging potential! Being FREE doesn't hurt either, which ultimately makes me settle on a final score of 5 stars for what's in here as opposed to what's not in here. Take a look at this scavenge and take a gander - chances are, you'll find something intriguing.
It’s Official! We have finished setting up the necessary infrastructure and processes for building client sites in Drupal 8 moving forward. A lot of that work was done during our first Drupal 8 website build, which is nearing completion. What follows is a brief glance of my first impressions and future aspirations about Drupal 8 development.The Project
As website builds worked their way through the pipeline in the first part of 2016, I was on the lookout for the right one to be our first D8 site. The project I chose is a portal for this company’s contractors to log their daily activity out in the field. The portal also generates various reports from the activity for our client to use. This project is unique in a couple of different ways that makes it the clear choice for our first foray into Drupal 8:Read More
This adventure is best used either as a regular episode in an ongoing general adventuring game or as the climactic moment in a plotline that pits the party against Bhishana Bhaga - in which case, read this and understand her long before the party reaches the suggested level for this adventure (9th-10th) and weave her into earlier adventures of your own devising.
If this is the party's first encounter with Bhishana Bhaga, several hooks are provided to catch their attention - one delightful one has the party invited to 'have a go' by Bhaga herself, a sort of penetration testing. Notes are also provided about where to put the adventure in your campaign world - somewhere mountainous where gnomes mine if used 'as is', or you can vary it somewhat as to anywhere there is a mine with people (irrespective of race) mining it. She's likely to charm even evil miners, however.
The adventure itself is a straightforward delve. The mine itself is based on a modified version of the Old Mines map from the February 2002 Map-a-Week selection on the Wizards of the Coast website. At the time of writing, the link in the PDF still works if you want to see the original, but the modified version is printed here.
The notes on encounters in the mine are comprehensive, with a couple of good fights and some devious traps to overcome. There is also loads of information on what Bhaga will do, how she prepares herself and her likely responses to party actions. Negotiations are unlikely, come ready for a fight. Notes on wrapping up the adventure finish this module off, with the reminder that if they are successful the party's reputation is going to be increased substantially - something that will attract not only job offers but the attention of evil creatures as well!
A nicely put together if straightforward delve, with everything where it is for a reason.
Keith A. Garrett, who writes over at adventuresofkeithgarrett.com, just popped in from an epic Gnome/Kobold airport battle to drop off this guest article about getting a civil war type scenario going at your table. – #teamblackpanther John
A civil war between superheroes. It’s been a comic book miniseries, and a book, and now a movie. Next stop: your gaming table! Regardless of what RPG system you’re using to play your superhero game, providing a reason for your hero PCs to beat each other up isn’t very hard. (I bet some of you have the opposite problem!) But there are reasons for running such a game beyond the simple appeal of seeing Captain Do-Gooder slug Super Samaritan.
A key benefit of running such a game is fostering character development and roleplaying. We’ve seen the heroes beat bank robbers and super-terrorists into submission, but what would it take to make them use their powers against each other? Some heroes have a hair-trigger and might have a history of fighting fellow heroes already, while others would have to experience the darkest of situations to engage in violence against a teammate. What will make your heroes cross that line?
Another signature of a civil war storyline is moral ambiguity. Players in a game like this will have to make some tough decisions. How strict should they be with heroes who are on the other side of the issue? What will they do with prisoners? Will they accept the aid of villains who support their side of the civil war?
If you think these kinds of issues will appeal to your players, read on for more ideas. This article will give you some things to think about whether you’re planning a single adventure or an entire campaign centered on a major conflict between the good guys.Pick a Conflict
It’s important to note that your adventure doesn’t have to revolve around a superhero registration act (though of course it can if that resonates with you and your group). Pick a dividing topic you think might interest your group of heroes—preferably one that they don’t all agree on. Here are a few ideas:
How do we handle a special villain? The team’s radioactive archenemy, Mister Greenjeans, has become too powerful to simply stick behind bars. Some think he should be exiled to a remote corner of the globe. Others would prefer a more permanent solution.
With great power comes great conflict. One or more heroes is granted awesome power. Might be Infinity Gems, or cosmic power, or paisley Kryptonite. The conflict in this situation could come in several ways. Maybe only one (or a few) of the heroes can receive this boon—is it distributed fairly? What if using the power has unwanted side effects? And even if it doesn’t, isn’t it possible that at least one person will use this power unwisely?
We’ve got a secret. The team uncovers a shocking secret, and not everybody agrees that it should be made public. If the Bel Air Avengers find out that most of their funding for the last year has come from a businessman who is secretly an evil mime, should they denounce Mime Man on the news and risk losing the public’s trust? Should they make like a mime and keep quiet about it? Or should they even go the other way and use as much of their pasty-faced benefactor’s money as they can squeeze out of him?Involve Your Heroes
If your players happen to be playing actual Marvel heroes, then your work is nearly done, my friend. You can pick the conflict, draw the battle lines based on how the Marvel heroes split in the movie or the comics, and get to the fightin’! Or if you think your players will want to make this fight their own rather than echoing existing stories, you can take the more involved route listed next. (In case you’re not aware, a Marvel Civil War RPG book did see publication. It’s out of print now, but might be worth searching for if you’re a “Make Mine Marvel” kind of GM.)
If your players are controlling heroes of their own design, you’ll need to give the players a little more input and involve them in the breakdown of who is on which side of the issue at hand. Before the adventure starts—or at least before the conflict builds to a fight—have a discussion with the players about how their characters might handle such an internal conflict. If they’re excited about the idea of inter-party conflict, they will likely be willing to help you divide the heroic roster in a way that’s balanced and, more importantly, entertaining. (If the players are NOT into that idea, refer to the Player Versus Player section below.)
If your players are using other licensed heroes (I’m thinking DC here), you can use the method above OR you can run a fun parody of the Marvel version. Replace Iron Man with Superman and Captain America with Batman and you’re good to go! (Go ahead and tell me how wrong my analogies are in the comments.)Player Versus Player: Proceed With Caution
What if your heroes don’t WANT to fight each other? Well, what a peaceful gaming group you have. Are you sure they’re gamers? What if your heroes don’t WANT to fight each other? Well, what a peaceful gaming group you have. Are you sure they’re gamers? Seriously, though, if you have a tight-knit crew (or players who are especially non-confrontational), you don’t have to force them to fight each other. You can make your civil war a nonviolent one, treating the conflict as one waged by influencing allies, authorities, and the media. When General Grey accidentally kills a bunch of civilians while saving a town from a meteor strike, for example, maybe the heroes express their differences regarding the topic of mandatory extraterrestrial registration by racing to gather conflicting evidence from eyewitnesses or the General’s colleagues to present in court. Alternatively, you can run a combat-focused civil war event but keep all the PC heroes on the same side of the conflict, letting the PCs fight formerly-allied NPC heroes.
If your storyline does involve physical combat between PC heroes, make sure to watch out for the possibility of hurt feelings when one PC defeats another. You know your players—if you detect too much disappointment from a player after a knockout, maybe remind everyone that even the best heroes (Superman) have been defeated by the less-than-best (Batman). (Again, tell me how wrong I am in the comments.) Also, a knockout should probably be the worst a PC hero experiences in a civil war game. A high-lethality game setting doesn’t pair well with a friend vs friend storyline. (Just ask Dazzler’s player after her fight with the Punisher.)Parting Shots
Your game’s civil war has the potential to be an important milestone in your heroes’ lives. Don’t be afraid to shake things up. In big comic events like this one some characters die, others rebrand or otherwise revamp themselves, teams change rosters, series begin or stop publication. Is one of your players getting bored with her character? Let her revamp or replace the heroine to make things fresh again. Or for a bigger change-up, your civil war can mark the end of one campaign and the beginning of another.
Have you run a civil-war-style adventure or campaign at your table? If so, how did it go? How would you make sure it resolves amicably?