Saturday, September 23, 2017

Just Released: Shades of Memory

I'm pretty excited to announce the release of Shades of Memory, a dark urban fantasy thriller set in Australia's capital city, featuring werewolves, shadow mages, shadow creatures, ancient artifacts, government secrets, and internationals spies and intrigue. It's a new genre for me, and I really enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy the story just as much.

When Aggie Dormain arrives in Canberra to paint some old diggers, she does not expect to meet an out-of-work archaeologist investigating an alien conspiracy, much less to be pulled into an adventure that would give Indiana Jones a run for his money.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Babes in London: Act Four, Scene 1B (Part 3: Kew Gardens—In Case of the Gehenna Consortium)

If PCs call the Gehenna Consortium for back-up:

Alice McIntyre arrives with her goon squad. She comes on foot, accompanied by half a dozen men, but, before negotiations reach a point where opposed Trickery tests are required, the Consortium sends a retrieval team. The team arrives in two helicopters, and the PCs might notice that these are approaching. Give them a short time to react to the helicopters’ approach, if they do. A successful opposed TH4 Air (Senses) test alerts them to the fact Alice is watching the machines approach, and seems to expect them. Anika and Leyila make a break for it as soon as the helicopters stop overhead. Alice orders the PCs to help capture the children and bring them back. The PCs can either choose to aid Gehenna in capturing the girls, or they can hinder them and help the girls escape. There are consequences for either path. If they help the Consortium, they retain any standing they might have with the group, but they lose the Modern Era status of friendship with the girls. (i.e. They lose the benefits of Friend of Anika Collins or Friend of Leyila Andrews.) Their actions do not affect their Mythic era status with the brood, however. If they choose to help the girls, they lose any standing and benefits they might have with the Gehenna Corporation, including the Modern rewards of: Friend of the Gehenna Consortium, and gain entry into the Gehenna Redemption scenario.

If the PCs are successful in helping the children escape:

Anika leads them through a garage, and several back gardens (via loose boards in fences, or gaps in hedges), until they come to an abandoned potting shed, which she secures after they have all gone in. It’s cramped, but seems safe enough. At this point, she asks the PCs what they think they should do next, who the ‘bad guys’ were, and if they know of somewhere safe the children can wait while the PCs rescue their parents. Right now, they all want to go home, and, if the PCs dither too long in deciding, Lewistrom throws a tantrum about wanting his mother. He calms only if they promise to take him to her. At this point, the characters can either return Lewistrom (Act 5, Scene 1); go to Leyila’s parents (Act 5, Scene 2); or attempt to hide the children in their own place (Act 5, Scene 3C). PCs lose all friendly standing with the Consortium and are no longer considered Friends, or Better Friends of the Gehenna Consortium.

If the PCs are successful in helping to capture the children:

Anika regards them with horror at their betrayal, and they lose any Modern day rewards regarding friendship with the girls or the brood, until they redeem themselves. Go to Act 5, Scene 3A, and modify as required.

If the PCs are captured helping the children but the children escape:

The PCs wake up in cells, either in a shipping container in the Connix Haulage Ltd. yard at the Eastway Commercial Centre, or in holding cells at Genesis Ltd in Innova Park, where the Consortium plans to keep them until they have learned what they can of the PCs’ supernatural abilities, and either turned them into loyal Consortium agents, or they PCs are no longer useful in Genesis Ltd.’s stem cell and viral research. How they escape from this facility, where it is, and the nature of its business, is up to the GM—as is how to bring the adventure back on track. (Although reinserting them in Act 6, Scene 1, is always a possibility, should their escape either the shipping container or holding cell be successful.) PCs are no longer considered Friends of/Better Friends of the Gehenna Consortium, and lose these awards and all accompanying benefits.

If the PCs fail to help the children escape and they are all caught:

Go to Act 5, Scene 3A, and modify as necessary. Note, also, that the PCs have been stripped of their standing as Friends of/Better Friends of the Gehenna Consortium, and, although the Consortium is happy to use them to retrieve Anika’s parents and keep the children happy until the two groups can be separated, they plan to capture them and use them in their human-viral genome experiments as soon as the Consortium no longer has a use for them being ‘in the wild’.

If the PCs fail in their attempts to help capture the children:

They lose any Modern friendship status with the children, and skip most of Act 5. The Gehenna Consortium, however, wants them to find Anika’s parents, as they have had prophecies revealing that the PCs’ assistance is of the greatest importance to winning the children to their side, although, once this is done, they have other plans involving the PCs’ DNA. The PCs are told to win the children’s affections, and convince the families to seek shelter with the Consortium’s subsidiary, Genesis Down Under. Go to Act 5, Scene 1, letting PCs choose an option of where to go first. Gehenna’s preference is Anika’s house, Act 5 Scene1B, although the PCs might have other ideas.

If the PCs called the Gehenna Consortium:

The Consortium does not believe in taking chances. They have sent their best, including a number of ex-military types who have found it more profitable to make a living doing what they know for ‘private’ firms, than working for the government. The Consortium folk, however, are slightly less organised than LN7, with no designated team to go for the girl, or to provide cover, so all agents are focussed on capturing the children, and they keep to this goal, unless the PCs do something to get their attention, or get in their way.

Consortium Soldiers (5):

Use the same stats as the Soldier (Cypher) entry in the Gamemaster’s Handbook.

Thugs (10):

Use the Thug stats from the Gamemaster’s Handbook. Note that these mooks are armed with Browning PRO-40 pistols, rather than chains, and will use them against the PCs. They try to capture the children by grabbing them, and will use the following sequence, or a variation to catch them:

Stride-Grab-Hold Effect: The target is considered pinned and suffers a +2 penalty to break the Grab in addition to other penalties imposed by size, or Presses that followed this sequence – as per the Grab rules.

Hedge Wizards (4): use the states in the Gamemaster’s Handbook.

Alice McIntyre

Era Modern; Race Natural being; APL 1; Init 8; Aspects Fire 2, Water 3, Air 4, Earth 3; Health 3m; <3 / 3+ / 6+ / 9+ / 12+ / 15+ / 18+ / 21+; Size/Reach 0 / 2; Armor 0; Karma 15; Stride 20 ft. (Moderate)
Colt Python Elite 24 ~ range 150 ft. ~ reload 1/6 Fist 3/L, Kick 4/M, Sequences Nil
Skills Athletics 2, Casting 4, Interaction 4, Ka 2, Knowledge: Ancient Cultures 2, Knowledge: London 4, Knowledge: Occult 2, Knowledge: Religion 2, Melee 2, Quickness 2, Ranged 2, Senses 2, Trickery 3, Will 3; Edges Allies 3, Casting 2, Mentor 2, Network: Occult 2, Network: Academic World 2; Spells Rank 1 – Beguile, Buzz Kill (A); Rank 2 – Aegis (B), Slow the Living (D); Traits Supernatural heritage (fae)
NOTE: This adventure is not sanctioned in any way, shape or form by Fantasy Flight. It is not an official product, and I am in no way affiliated with them or they with me. There is no relationship between us. This adventure is mine, for fun, and for you, because some of you asked me to finish it.

Also, if you like this adventure and want to play it, please go buy the official rulebooks from somewhere where the original creators and publisher of the setting will be paid. I got mine from a Melbourne game store, but I’ve found PDF versions of the Player's Handbook and the Gamemaster's Handbook are now available from DriveThruFiction. If you enjoy their world, this is the best way to thank them.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ingress Report: Exercise, Levelling, and Building Blobby

Why Ingress?

By now, you pretty much know how much I hate just going outside, enjoying the beautiful (or not-so-beautiful) weather and scenery, and just… walking. Being raised to understand that anything that does not lead directly towards achieving a livelihood is a colossal waste of time, I have a lot of trouble justifying just going for a walk.

Sure, in my head I understand the health benefits, the lower blood sugar, the lower blood pressure, the easier maintenance of a healthier weight, lower stress, reduction of back pain, reduction of the likelihood of a back injury recurring, greater creativity, and greater productivity, but the actual doing? Well, that always seems like I’m not doing anything. So call me human. The thing is, it’s easier to get motivated if I make it fun, so I go outside and play.

How do I justify playing? Well, walking is something I have to do… Trust me, there’s logic in there somewhere, but whatever works, right?

This time, I returned to a walking routine when I got too stressed and tired to write, and wasn’t achieving anything at my desk. I was also grouchy, and couldn’t sleep, and I realised I’d taken a break out of the walking routine for almost two weeks. Something my body didn’t appreciate. The goal is an hour a day, followed by 10,000 steps if I have the time. Either way, the hour is the minimum.

This Week’s Goals

Since I was about 780,000 AP off levelling, I bribed myself with a patch of densely packed portals in a local suburban centre, and the promise of a hefty session of micro-fielding. 260,000 AP later, and I’d managed to work my way out of the centre and start filling in the periphery. I have to admit, while the initial bribe was AP, the most fun I have with Ingress is creating little blue triangles in the ephemera, and then turning the intel map into a colouring guide. The aim, this week, was to get to L15 and see how much of the local suburban centre I could ‘colour in’ before the greens came along and took it all down, again.

How It All Went Down:

Day one saw the centre of the blob, all blued up and ready for expansion. 260,000+ AP in total, with approximately 90,000 from taking down the existing green fields, and 170,000 from bluing up the portals and reinstalling the fields. Day 2 would see it grow.
The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that.

The next morning, the fields were still up when I got on the bus to expand my patch of blue, but they were almost all down by the time I arrived, with the portals left strangely white. Yes! I got to do it all again. 190,000 AP later, and I had started expanding the blob.
The third day, the fields stayed up overnight, and another of the local blues started expanding the blob, as well. Now, it really was starting to become fun. I might not see my local team mates a lot, but I like knowing they’re around, and I really like it when they come and add to something I’m doing - or when I get to build on something of theirs. It makes me feel like I’m part of the team, instead of just knowing the team is out there... somewhere…
The third day, I was able to expand my little patch of blue even further, taking out one of the local green L8 portals. There was a second one, nearby, but it would have broken my pattern to take it out before I was ready to field from it, so I left it. A lot more walking occurred in a shorter amount of time, but less AP was earned – only around 85,000. Still, that’s not a bad day’s work. To celebrate, I got off the bus early and took down a field from one of my local walk routes; it had been annoying me all week, but I’d been saving my blasters and power cubes. With what I’d hacked in the last few days, this was no longer a problem – although my resource limits were.
That evening, I had another green take down the core of my blob – logical, given the amount of AP stored there; a third nibbled at the edges; and a fourth took out the local walk portal – also logical as it never stays up long. Why they didn’t bother re-fielding or capturing it, I’m not sure. They’re often weird that way. There were also a couple of ripples by a fifth, but nothing a bit of recharging didn’t fix.
By this stage, I was rapt! I had been wondering what I was going to do to get the final 160,000 AP I needed for levelling, and had mapped out contingencies to extend my blob just a little further into one of the local parks. This is not a hardship; it’s a lovely park. But the weather was looking to storm, so I was worried. If the core of the blob I’d been working on all week stayed down until I could get to it on the fourth day, I’d have a good chance of dodging the bad weather. Otherwise I was going to be one soggy blue by the end of it.
Next morning started off okay. Another local blue took back a half dozen portals at the core of the blob. Awesome! I could build from there. I had Real-Life Adulting to do in the morning, so I broke the routine I’d had of getting into that suburban centre just after 09:00, and went to a completely different burb, instead.
This ended up being a good thing. Those greens had obviously caught on, and were waiting. Now, maybe they weren’t waiting for me to rock up, so they could stop me bluing up the interior, again. Maybe it was just a coincidence they were in the area at all, but I’d never have gotten the fielding done that I needed to do, while they were there, and they’d taken down the baseline I’d planned for the next phase, so I’d have some serious re-jinking to do, if they were anywhere around, and looking to make life difficult.
I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to cheer when your portals start crashing, or laugh, but that was my first reaction – followed by a certain amount of worry that my unwittingly helpful opponents would still be there when I arrived later in the day. This was going to get interesting. Those pesky greens weren’t making it easy. They were making building Blobby downright difficult! Even if the AP was pretty good, and I had most of the keys to get the core back up quickly, expansion was going to have to wait another day. Still, maybe I’d level before I had to call it quits for the afternoon. Family commitments will always trump the game, so I had a pretty tight schedule to keep.
By the time I got there, the greens had taken down almost all my team-mate’s repair job, and seriously dented what was left. It took me just under an hour to set things to rights, and even then, I think I missed a couple of spots on the periphery. Result: One urban centre all blue... again! Newly greened portals, links and fields cleaned up and returned to their proper colour, and 176, 148 AP later and not only had I managed to scrape through to Level 15, but Blobby’s core was back up again.
For the third time this week.
I wonder how long it will take them to take it down…
Two hours, apparently.
For half.
Busy little devils, those greens…
Poor Blobby.
Next time, I’ll try to remember pictures. The fluidity of this game is quite fascinating to watch.