Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Session Capture: Bad Company Session 0, Our Heroes learn to crawl before they learn to walk, and then trip over a waist high bush

Are you prepared, children?
So last night was session 0 of a new campaign in a sorta Dungeon Fantasy-ish style, but not strictly so. The main departure is that the game is to take place in a TL4 backdrop, the age of sail. I mean Dungeon Fantasy is a cultural hodgepodge full of anachronisms and so, a lot of TL4 fixtures are already there, but now we have guns! Well, the players don't, but they could have guns!

The Cast

  • Cassana - Cassana is a Cat-Folk priestess who decided because of a vision from her god to travel with the crew of Bad Company. Her supernatural healing makes her a readily hot commodity. She is a prudish bore (not boor) though, and spends her free time reciting passages and praying.
  • Elizabeth - A burly thing of a girl who was raised among rabbit-people. She tries hard, but she doesn’t have the chops for the business. Her adopted father was abducted by a man named Salazar, and she has joined a band of pirates to hopefully secure help in finding this man. She is the support member, and a jack of all trades. She has a horse named Al Freido who helps protect the belongings of her and the party.
  • Mr. Tapioca – A bunny-man samurai, and a master of martial arts and strategy, and former, disgraced captain of the guard for Emperor Dyson. He was framed for the assassination of the emperor and now uses his skills to help those he can while on the lam. Introduced to Captain Burbank by Emilio the Goldfish, Mr. Tapioca took Captain Burbank as his liege and master.
  • Xelin - Son of Van Zandt the Blight, though he was only a child when the story of that man took place. His lineage is a secret he must keep closely because of the unspeakable atrocities of his father. Unavoidably lead down his inevitable destiny to power and mastery of the cosmos, misfortune follows closely after him. For unfortunate reasons, he finds that the only people he can trust are themselves absolute dregs, and thus finds himself in the hire of Captain Burbank.

Session Summary

During this session, I went over fundamental GURPS mechanics, like earning character points, spending character points, rolling against skill levels, and combat. Time was spent going over the key abilities of each character, and making some adjustments to the character sheet. The session culminated in a practice combat.

Action Items

Players should come up with five quirks. Quirks are little characterization elements that make you more unique. They don't need to have a mechanical impact on the game, but are something of a promise of how you will role play a character. The Basic Set has examples of quirks, but those aren't the end all, be all, and, in my opinion, most of them are kinda dry and just a launching board for making your own unique quirks. So, a few examples of things that might be quirks, that are slightly easier to role play:
  • Verbal mannerisms
    • Sarcastic compliments
    • Often using some kind of slang
    • Starting conversations about a particular topic, or changing a conversation to that topic
  • Personality Traits
    • Wishy-Washy and letting other people make decisions for you
    • Having a consistent habit
    • Having a weird hangup about something minor (sandwiches cut diagonally, not orthogonally!)
  • And finally, any disadvantage that seems kinda fun can be turned into a quirk, meaning you get all the role play implications of that disadvantage without any (or very few) of the negative mechanical consequences.
    • For example, if you like the idea of being afraid of cats, but you don't want to deal with your character going into a heart-arresting panic attack, instead of taking Ailuraphobia as a disadvantage, you can take it as a quirk. Now whenever you see a cat, you can act out being afraid however you find suitable instead of rolling for self-control and then rolling for a fright check to see if you faint. Do you hide behind someone else to save you from a kitten? Do you immediately about face because there is a cat in the alley? Do you wait outside the cat lover's house while the rest of your party goes in?
    • This can apply to anything, even if it doesn't make sense. Do you want a peg leg, but don't want to deal with the running penalties? That's a quirk. Want horns, but just want people weirded out instead of banning you from town? That's a quirk. Want to make a character that looks and acts like an urchin, but don't want to start with crippling debt or gimped wealth? That's a quirk. Want a "rival" that is completely ineffective and more of a recurring gag nuisance than a dangerous colleague? That's a quirk. 
You don't need to take 5 quirks immediately, but if you can think of 2 to 3 before next session, that's a good start.
I think all points have been spent pretty well, but feel free to look at your sheets and solidify anything that looks a little wobbly. Nothing is final until Sunday the week of session 1.
The player for Tapioca asked me a bunch of mechanical questions, so I'll do some research on those.
  • How useful is the Ambidexterity advantage and would it help his character?
  • How useful are the Acrobatics, Wrestling, Leadership, Seamanship, and Strategy skills, and would it make sense to change, add, or remove any?
  • I have claws on my feet, is it worth wearing boots that preclude me from cutting damage?
I'd also like to communicate some of the more advanced combat features. I didn't want to introduce too much at once, but there were times when those advanced moves could have saved time (using deceptive attacks to make defending harder, or aiming for specific weak points to disable targets, or defeat them much faster.

We also need to decide if we want to use digital character sheets or analog character sheets going forward. I don't mind testing the waters of letting people use cell phones, but if you start showing me "funny" pictures or playing music during the game, or we have a situation where people find themselves dazed and confused because they weren't paying attention, then I won't hesitate to play High School Teacher and ban phones from thereon. Don't make me do that.

After Action Report

  • One player remarked that the party cohesion could have been better. I think this is good. I'd like more discussion between sessions, because a goal of 3 hours every other week means punctuality and waffling over the easy rules will be a very big hit to our most precious commodity.
  • Speaking of time, we went way way over, sorry about that guys! I played the example combat giving the opponents full survivability, when normally you'd use fodder rules, so that dragged it out a bit, but I thought it was useful to show the impact having a good HT can have on survivability. The fight wrapped up very fast after switching to fodder rules when one player announced he would definitely need to leave soon.
  • I think Xelin got the hang of magic from that fight pretty quickly, at least, in terms of missile spells.
  • There was a kinda funny incident where Mr. Tapioca had an issue with jumping over a bush and faceplanting. I looked it up, and the rules say that for an easy jump, rolling should not be required. That said, the bush was high enough to count as cover while standing, so I think it might have counted as a difficult jump. Getting either the jumping skill (only a point or two) might help make it possible, and Super Jump 2 (10 more points) would double the distance and height you can jump, which would make it very trivial. In any case, shoulda had players rolling against DX instead of HT.


  1. I frequently ignore 5he fodder rules, especially when playing with low point characters. (One of my game threads is full of henchmen pc's) That said, anything with a Hard to__ advantage or a specific resistance isn't fodder ever. On the flip side, I have some PC's doing close to 5d in melee, so even the hard to kill opponents like Slorn rarely last more than 3 seconds.

    1. Ha, I think the worst enemy here was a Dorf with HT12, but actually most just had really lucky rolls. I think one Dorf was scared by lightning at the very beginning of the fight (mage found out that 1 energy was not enough to hurt someone wearing DR5 armor, but since it was a good surprising hit, from a great distance and hard to see, they convinced me to see if the guy was scared... and he was) and he was hit every few turns over and over without ever going down. Another reached nearly -20 and passed every stun, unconsciousness, and death check.


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