Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Bally Haunting

This is the outline of the game of The Haunting I ran, oh, five years ago? Gosh. It was written up for the benefit of the players, but since tantalising hints of this game regularly surface when I'm writing on YSDC, I thought I should retrieve these notes from the fossilised depths of my computer and resurrect them.

The Investigators

  • Bertram Perrin, gentleman of leisure
  • Colonel Ementile Crud, retired
  • Encyclopaedius, star of the Merryweather Circus
  • Jacks or Better, gentleman of the streets

For my own convenience, being ignorant of America, I reset the story in Britain, specifically in a nebulous part of London. This was foolish, since I am also ignorant of London and one of my players is from London. Mistake one.

For clarification, however, I should state that the strong resemblence between this game and a cracktastic sequel to the works of PG Wodehouse was due to deliberate decisions made during character generation, and was neither the players getting out of hand, nor me flailing wildly. Which is not to say that I was not, in fact, flailing wildly.

An Uncle's Request

Bertram Perrin receives an unexpected telephone call from affable but business-minded Uncle Quentin (Lord Foxworthy to the plebs). Said uncle has recently acquired a house on the cheap, due to unfortunate events in the owning family that forced them to sell. Specifically, both the adults have "gone off their rockers", forcing the house to be sold and the children taken in by relatives. The house is rumoured to be haunted. Uncle Quentin has an interest in that sort of thing, being a member in good standing of the Sceptics' Society, and is sure that with a bit of investigation, the scientific basis for the rumours can be established and dealt with, and the house sold on for a decent profit. There may be an interesting case study for the Society as well. Uncle Quentin lives in Kent, and doesn't often travel to London, so rather than hiring an actual agent, he's decided to ask a favour from his amiable (if dim) young nephew. It's so much cheaper. He asks Bertie to take a look at the place - bringing along a clever friend or two "in case he overlooks anything". The house is 4 Rose Place, in Ealing.

In the Darkness Find Them, first draft

So I realised recently that, thanks entirely to Shannon, I've ended up writing quite a lot of stuff that discusses horror, darkness and light. I wondered whether they could be pulled into anything semi-coherent, and so I'm going to try sketching out a fairly basic game along those lines.

Naturally, as I'm recycling stuff here, it will probably look pretty familiar to readers of our respective blogs. It’s a first draft being created as I write it (although I did revise it rather than leave it as a stream of consciousness) so there may be inconsistencies (sorry) and it’s a rambly exposition rather than a tight set of detailed rules.

Also, I did what I could with images to break up this very long post, but it is shockingly hard to find any pictures of people hiding from monsters, running from monsters, or that involve shadow monsters of any kind that aren't being shot in the head by Alan Wake. So they are, at best, semi-topical.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Operation: ANTIQUARIAN, part one

Our broadcast this evening is a dramatised reading from the archives of the Special Operations Executive. The mission identified as ANTIQUARIAN is being reconstructed from archival materials by Arthur at a dedicated website. Selected highlights will be presented here for the interest of the general public.

For convenience, a brief summary of prior events is presented here. For the detailed account, please visit the archive.

Skip to the link.

The mission begins

Network N was a branch of the Special Operations Executive, dedicated to the extraordinary. In the war against the Hun, no stone could be left unturned. Uncanny events must be investigated, strange rumours put to rest, and Jerry's obsession with the occult exploited at every turn. Their commanding officer, known only as N, recruited agents with unusual talents from all sections of society.

The primary agents of Operation: ANTIQUARIAN are Emile Dubois, a French inventor; Patricia Wilberforce, a professional medium; and Douglas Hemsbrook, military doctor. All are experienced in mundane and paranormal operations.

In May 1941, Dubois, Hemsbrook and Wilberforce are despatched to the village of Saint-Cerneuf-du-Bois in occupied France, where they will form the core of an intelligence network codenamed ANTIQUARIAN. They are also tasked with investigating the sudden disappearance of one Lionel Malo, a German opponent of the Nazi regime who fled to exile in France, and a correspondent of N regarding certain unusual aspects of the district.

Parachuting into France, the agents rendezvous with the Resistance and quickly establish cover identities. Tensions are high in the occupied village, and the agents must tread carefully. Though several strange facts emerge, the most prominent is the repeated impression of odd events connected with the woodland.

After experiencing a peculiar sonic phenomenon and discovering hooved footprints, the agents dine with Raimond Decharette, owner of the village mine. They learn that Decharette knew Malo, and his own wife was a member of a pagan cult. Suspecting that his daughter has also been drawn into the cult, the agents prepare to follow her as she leaves the house that night.

You can listen to character creation here, and the first episode here.

The series theme is The British Grenadiers (Go Mad), remixed for the occasion by Librarians and Leviathans.

Friday, 14 November 2014

A Stony Sleep: afterthoughts

For some reason, I managed to post this in August, months ahead of finishing the actual podcast. When I realised, I de-published it and am posting it here to make the archives more sensible. I'm not sure how it escaped my drafts folder, but just to reassure you, I haven't yet reached the point of actually running repeats...

In my head, I've been thinking of this as the one where we shifted into more of a straightforward Space Marine game with less of the Fisty humour that originally got us playing. Having now listened to the recordings for the first time in months, I can't imagine where I could possibly have got that idea.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Stony Sleep, part 7

Post-Game Discussion

This is a playthrough of A Stony Sleep from The Emperor Protects, so be careful not to let on to your GM that you listened to it. It does reveal one crucial plot event, and foreknowledge will inevitably affect the way you play this scenario. As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Some episodes feature bonus material after the closing music, of varying interest. This is usually either teasers, or conversations that were sort of interesting, but not a bit tangential to the main episode.

Episode 7

The Episode

Nothing much to say here. This isn't the most interesting post-game session, sorry, since we don't actually break down the scenario like we sometimes do. Feel free to skip this one! However, we do talk about a couple of points that might be mildly interesting for those who care about the Deathwatch game, or are gently lulled to sleep by our (ahem) melodious voices. And it's short!

The bionic issue is basically a canon one, I think. Essentially, the Warhammer 40K universe has always portrayed bionics for any military character as being flat-out better than the organic equivalent. They grant significant stat boosts in the tabletop version. The fiction does sometimes highlight disadvantages, especially in those bionics given to lackeys or grunts, but again emphasises the new or enhanced abilities these features tend to lend a character. For a space marine, who expects only the best of equipment, there aren't going to be any misshapen second-hand bionics or rusting parts. So while I do understand the balance issues of making baseline bionics any better than the default marine, it also just feels wrong for them not to be. There are no low-ranking space marines, no grunts, no lackeys. Everyone is a mighty warrior of immense value to the Imperium.

Honestly, this is quite likely tied into the whole "game line" deal. I don't know whether Fantasy Flight even thought about this when carrying over the same bionics rules as every other game uses. It seems like it could have quite easily been fixed by pegging the minimum bionics at whatever level is no worse than a starting space marine: no reason to get injured on purpose, but no disadvantage either.

Of course, this is partly down to me choosing to lose an eye, but I didn't (despite my phrasing here) actually do this for mechanical reasons - it seemed appropriate and I wasn't aware at the time of the rules for serious injuries and acquiring bionics. So I just assumed it was something I could do, which is strictly not the case by RAW. I mean, I got a power claw to the face, that seems like something that would require a cool glowy terminatoresque bionic eye, right?

I'll be (re-)posting a follow-up post shortly. I wrote it out ages ago and mistakenly put it up at some point, despite the podcast not yet being out. Whoops.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Stony Sleep, part 6

The Heavy Bolter Is Sick OP

This is a playthrough of A Stony Sleep from The Emperor Protects, so be careful not to let on to your GM that you listened to it. It does reveal one crucial plot event, and foreknowledge will inevitably affect the way you play this scenario. As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Some episodes feature bonus material after the closing music, of varying interest. This is usually either teasers, or conversations that were sort of interesting, but not a bit tangential to the main episode.

Episode 6

The Episode

So I've basically talked about everything in this episode already. Much has been written elsewhere on the OP-ness of the heavy bolter, and ways of dealing with it. Similarly, the final crystal conundrum has been discussed before.

The bit at the end is another one of those conundrums. Do we know about Ahriman? He's a completely legendary Chaos Sorcerer, but it's just not that clear what level of setting knowlege Space Marines should have.

I look forward to seeing where all this is going! Roll on, 2015...

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Stony Sleep, part 5

This Brain Is Above Your Security Clearance

This is a playthrough of A Stony Sleep from The Emperor Protects, so be careful not to let on to your GM that you listened to it. It does reveal one crucial plot event, and foreknowledge will inevitably affect the way you play this scenario. As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Some episodes feature bonus material after the closing music, of varying interest. This is usually either teasers, or conversations that were sort of interesting, but not a bit tangential to the main episode.

Episode 5

The Episode

This being a transitional episode between phases of the investigation, there's a lot of stuff going on here. There could potentially have been a much longer cultist-fighting phase, but Arthur made a tactical decision to cut this short due to our gaming schedules (and to avoid repetition).

There's a sort of instinct to rebel when some objective is unattainable, such as rescuing the inquisitor, which I definitely suffer from. This is not in fact one of the official objectives, which you might recall made us suspicious in the first episode, although I offered a (plausible?) counterpoint. But you want to rescue people when you're heroic, even in the brutal Imperium. In practice, I thought this was one of the better examples of this sort of thing. We got a chance to interact with Vincent and try whatever we wanted. His mental state, betrayal and position of authority gave a convincing reason why he wasn't rescuable, while a long absence plus the nature of his captors convincingly accounted for those things. This wasn't one of those "NPC is shot at long range by an unseen enemy, having promised to divulge vital information first thing in the morning because it's too late right now" affairs.

The submarine sequence was a little bit disrupted by us players leaping to action while Arthur was trying to narrate. In practice, the outage is supposed to take a second or so, but we weren't quite clear on that. No big deal, it's just something that happens sometimes.

The encounter with the Alpha Legion was tense, but maybe a little anticlimactic? The opener was good, as Nikolai does his level best to get himself killed again (in retrospect, "slight caution" a poor choice when I should have been auspexing like anything). Having all four obliterated by a single psychic power was both satisfyingly awesome on our behalf, and slightly disappointing - I can't really decide which one won out for me. However, it's hard to dissociate my judgement from the points I've already made about this stuff.

DVD extra bonus material

We talk briefly about Demon: the Fallen, since this recording was actually made before the Demon game I posted a while ago. Hooray for time travel. I already discussed some of the many, many problems with this game. In the light of that, the discussion here of chapters being presented inconsistently takes on a different light. It seem less like an unfortunate editorial decision, and more like yet more evidence that the product wasn’t actually finished, let alone edited for consistency.

Kitting Monitors, part 2

This is obviously a sequel to this other post about how non-weapon equipment and its mechanics can influence a game. Dan's comment is also essential reading.

As a reminder, we're looking more or less at this list:

  • Does game-mechanical equipment exist at all?
  • What equipment exists?
  • What is treated as Equipment rather than just stuff you have?
  • What technology is assumed to exist, to be available to PCs, and to be available to common NPCs?
  • How do you get Equipment in the first place? How easy is it to get more, both in the long term and the short term?
  • Maintenance? Breakages? Upkeep costs? Do these things exist, and if so, how do they work?
  • How reliable is equipment?
  • How, if at all, is equipment limited?
  • What is assumed normal equipment for a PC? How useful is it compared to what NPCs have? How much and how often does it affect the basic resolution mechanics? (are you adding bonuses to every roll? etc.)
  • Is equipment assumed and subtractive from, or optional and additive to die rolls?
  • What non-mechanical capabilities can equipment provide?
  • How crucial is the possession or otherwise of specific equipment to success? Are activities, or even missions, allowed to fail because PCs don't have particular items?
  • How vulnerable is a PC without their equipment?

Maintenance and reliability

This is largely an aspect of the setting rather than the equipment per se, but maintenance issues are important too. The big ones are the overall reliability of equipment (in the short and long term), and any work or resource costs to keeping them in play.

Monday, 10 November 2014

A Stony Sleep, part 4

But I'm Wearing My Stealthy Yellow Armour feat. We Could Eat This Guy's Brain

This is a playthrough of A Stony Sleep from The Emperor Protects, so be careful not to let on to your GM that you listened to it. It does reveal one crucial plot event, and foreknowledge will inevitably affect the way you play this scenario. As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Some episodes feature bonus material after the closing music, of varying interest. This is usually either teasers, or conversations that were sort of interesting, but not a bit tangential to the main episode.

Episode 4

The Episode

Return of crisps! Once again, I am really very sorry about the crisps.

Sometimes it's really hard to pick titles. With this scenario, I think for the first time, I went for (hazy approximations of) quotes from the episodes. Some have several tempting lines. Previously I've tended towards very basic descriptions. I'm still not sure what's the best option; you don't want to spoil an episode, you do want to summarise it, and quotes are sometimes memorable, but sometimes quite generic despite being good. I do think titles are essential to podcasts because if, like me, you have a few thousand floating around your hard drive, and potentially a hundred or more from a single podcaster (here's hoping!) then it's very easy to listen to one episode, come back a week later after binging on something else, and have no idea whether you listened to dgb_pod_00098 or dgb_pod_00064, or indeed "Episode 28" or "Episode 36". One day I must write something opinionated on podcast metadata...

The memory science I mentioned is Memory RNA. And despite this being entirely debunked years ago in a famous scientific turnaround, apparently it's still going on! I say this because my idle googling for a suitable link produced this article in an apparently legitimate journal, which appears to be literally the exact same thing.

It's horrifying in a way just how quickly a team of space marines can demolish a substantial threat. I don't think a single combat in the Fists campaign has lasted more than three rounds, and I believe in all cases that's purely been a case of mopping up horde survivors. Ah, maybe the diablodon fight was more than three?

It's kind of cool, but in a way I think it creates problems for Deathwatch in particular. The lethality we have discussed before means that it's very difficult to have meaningful drawn-out combats - anything able to pose a serious threat to the marines is reasonably likely to kill them through swing. One thing this tends to mean is that it very rarely actually matters what cool and interesting capabilities enemies have, as they rarely get to bring them into play. Most are lucky to get a single shot off. We have no idea what the cultists were capable of, and to some extent that makes it more difficult to create interesting memories. "Remember that time we killed everyone with a single round of heavy bolter fire?" "Wasn't that... every time?" I jest, but I think there's something to it. I just can't quite pin it down right now. In my defence, I'm ill today.

Brain-eating comes up a lot in this episode, but sadly there are always reasons to avoid it. I should really check into the canon on that - just how much do Marines worry about eating xenos brains, say? Because if you refuse to eat the brains of heretics, psykers and aliens, that doesn't leave you with much reason to have the ability.

A Cord of One Strand Is Not Easily Broken: a party-splitting mechanic

Yes, another in the long list of posts that are sort-of-games that I won't get round to doing anything with.

As far as I remember, this particular idea was born from two premises:

  • the kind of grandstanding, heroic scenes beloved of all media in the history of writing, whereby one person nobly steps up to face a challenge while their companions are occupied;
  • the fact that in most games, splitting the party makes the difference between an obstacle (usually a fight) that saps some of your resources, and being ground into a fine paste.

In fact, quite often lone characters are depicted as overcoming challenges far exceeding what the whole party might typically take on. Such scenes include "I'll hold them off as long as I can", freeing captured teammates, lone charges against a horde to strike fear into the enemy, covert missions where a lone intruder has a better chance of success, or being unable to unleash their full capabilities for fear of injuring allies or bystanders.

Morris

For centuries, secretive bands of acolytes have kept Albion safe, performing the ancient and mysterious rituals that ward the land against dreadful supernatural forces. Join your comrades in song, ale and battle. Perform secret rites at the equinox while maintaining your cover as harmless drunken eccentrics. Keep back the darkness with long-forgotten magic, and when that fails, hit it on the head with a stick. Grow a beard, wear a silly hat. Join the Morris.

Shall we dance?

Unlike most things I write, this isn't a proposal for a new system, just a campaign. Morris is a sandboxy suburban fantasy. You play Morris dancers tasked with maintaining supernatural wards via rituals, and taking down anything creepy that manages to slip through, while maintaining secrecy.

Given the premise is quite silly, I personally feel it would tend to work best with a pretty straight approach that takes it all seriously. A silly version could work too, of course. It strikes me that something like WoD would be a reasonable system, not least because it's not that different in premise. FATE could also work, assuming I ever work out how to run it.

Because you're fairly ordinary people otherwise, there's plenty of scope for incorporating more mundane things going on, personal arcs, inter-character stuff and so on.

As a very British setting, it's distinguished from a lot of urban fantasy because nobody's carrying guns. It doesn't matter how urban fantasy it is; nobody goes around carrying guns in Britain. Big sticks, though, you can get away with.

I picture the supernatural stuff as all a bit mysterious to everyone. Nobody's entirely sure how all this stuff works, including the magic they do to keep out the darkness. What's vital, what's mere ritual and habit? Some part of this folk song helps fend off evil, but are the doo-rallies and the atonal singing really necessary? There are many disagreements, schisms and power struggles between rival Morris troupes, let alone other groups with broadly similar aims.

The main enemies of the Morris are supernatural forces, but human antagonists also present a threat. This politician brings in music licensing; that concerned citizen brings a noise complaint. A drunken gang here decides to disrupt a dance and threatens the magical stability of the whole county. More worryingly, dabblers in occult mysteries may wish to channel magical forces to their own ends, and risk unleashing terrible things on the unsuspecting populace. There's room, too, for some more neutral actors: indifferent immortals or whimsical spirits who bear no malice, yet are not allied to the Morris. They must be bargained with, placated, entreated or browbeaten to attain the Troupe's ends.


The pic is adapted from Morris: a life with bells on which is a really good film, you should watch it.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Stony Sleep, part 3

Cultist-Bothering for Fun and Profit

This is a playthrough of A Stony Sleep from The Emperor Protects, so be careful not to let on to your GM that you listened to it. It does reveal one crucial plot event, and foreknowledge will inevitably affect the way you play this scenario. As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Some episodes feature teasers for upcoming actual plays, after the closing music. Just so you know.

Episode 3

The Episode

Surprisingly, we have actually used the Climb skill twice over the course of our missions. Still not worth boosting, though. Especially not for those of us who can fly.

The confrontation in the cave, specifically the bits just before the fight, may seem a bit disjointed. This isn't because we're not listening to each other; I had to cut about three minutes of this out, in several sections, because of noise issues. I've tried to keep in as much information as possible, though.

For those of you keenly following my discourses on Brother Nikolai (who am I kidding?), this episode features him being genuinely useful, achieving something the rest of the party couldn't. It's interesting to me, and I mean that sincerely rather than being sarky, that this doesn't relate at all to proficiency in combat. Firstly, he takes the lowest point in the climb and saves Kaim, safe in the knowledge that he has a jump pack as a fall-back if things go badly wrong. Secondly, the jump back (and his confidence in getting up close and personal) allows him to barge straight into the cultists, attempt to overawe them, and then snatch away the cult leader. Strictly speaking, this is a much bigger contribution fluff-wise than it is mechanically, since the objective would have been met by blowing them all to pieces, but we're trying to play roles here, right? As a secondary point, as the conversation shows, we're all conscious of the problematic situation (armoured fascists slaughter followers of alternative religion). While we're all on board for that, and the canon does a lot to actually justify this approach, I think we do feel a bit better when we give the occasional nod towards the less murderous and more human aspects of the space marines. If these cultists choose to make a suicidal attack, rather than, um... surrendering and probably surviving their forced conversion and penance, for a given value of "survive"... well, that's their business!

But yes, Nikolai. This shows off a point I've made before, which is that to a large extent I do think assault marines are inherently broader than some of the other specialities, and their strengths lie quite substantially in their movement capabilities and defensive capabilities. Nikolai can get to places quickly to do things other than killing, get away from danger quickly, and soak a lot of attacks - although less so when facing a Horde as they ignore parries.

Note here that Arthur didn't require a die roll for me to leap into the midst of the cultists. In fact, I think the only time I've had to roll was in Mersadie Hive, when I used my jump pack to leap from a speeding bike and hurl incendiary grenades onto a roof and then tried to land back on the bike. This strikes me as exactly the right way to adjudicate these matters.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Stony Sleep, part 2

Steve Jackson, Is That You?

This is a playthrough of A Stony Sleep from The Emperor Protects, so be careful not to let on to your GM that you listened to it. It does reveal one crucial plot event, and foreknowledge will inevitably affect the way you play this scenario. As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Some episodes feature bonus material after the closing music, of varying interest. This is usually either teasers, or conversations that were sort of interesting, but not a bit tangential to the main episode.

Episode 2

The Episode

You would not believe how much crisp-excision this podcast required. This was actually one of the main reasons I didn't get round to doing it sooner. I'm not sure if you can tell, but there are a few sections where I had to remove entire conversation threads because crucial parts were obscured by unbearable crunching and/or rustling. There was a certain amount of careful doctoring, including pasting in alternative versions of a word from elsewhere in the recording to create a clean sentence break.

I should point out, though, that I have in no cases changed the actual meaning of what was said! Just tidied up bits where I had to chop off a run-on sentence or a bit where we talked over each other and led into another conversation that couldn't be rescued. Nothing crucial was lost, but the podcast is quite a bit shorter as a result. The surviving crispy sections should give you a clue just how bad the excised bits were.

This is an occupational hazard of actual plays - very few snacks are silent and gaming is a snacky sort of hobby. More recently we've been putting things in bowls before recording, which helps, but I'm not sure how the squeaky-clean podcasts tend to manage. Unless they just don't eat, and are tireless robot gamers. Always a possibility.

I Fought The Lore

When we learn about the "other Astartes", it's obvious to me and Dan (with our extensive 40K background) that this will be the Alpha Legion. However, it's not clear whether our characters are allowed to know that. This is one of the points where establishing exactly what canonical knowledge is widespread, what is secret, and where different kinds of security clearance fall is really difficult in this game.

One of the reasons for this is, of course, that the 40K universe has been built up over decades by a whole load of different writers and gone through several major editions, each with their own angle on the truth of the situation. It's not clear how much access ordinary space marines have to Chaos-related information, and what is strictly inquisitorial or known to more senior marines. The RPG in general isn't especially helpful about this, and knowledge is absolutely one of the areas where I'd really have liked them to lay down some suggested difficulty guidelines, because this stuff is not remotely obvious. It's even worse once you start to move into things that aren't massive and well-established parts of the game canon (like major Chaos Space Marine legions) and into some of the crannies, like Imperial Navy lore or even psyker lore.

Broadly speaking, you have to assume that all space marines know about the existence of Chaos marines and renegades, and therefore at least a basic amount about Chaos. For a purely practical standpoint they must, must also be taught the tactics, equipment and abilities of Chaos marines, because the entire point of the Astartes is to fight the enemies of mankind, and refusing to teach them anything about fighting the one threat that did come close to wiping out the Imperium would be too stupid even for the Imperium. So if they know World Eaters are involved in a situation, there is no question in my mind that they should understand this will mean Khorne berzerkers, and therefore terrifying melée specialists, as well as a focus on mass slaughter of everyone possible, which will likely result in demons appearing who are also melée specialists. If they know Tzeentchian marines are involved, they should know to expect vile sorcery, a focus on ranged weaponry and maddening, fast-moving demons that spit flames and lightning.

It's less clear how much this extends to more strategic considerations, since it's generally senior marines who will be taking strategic decisions anyway. Do the ordinary marines need to know the typical signs of Alpha Legion operation, which are extensive use of cults, sabotage and misinformation? Do they need to understand that Slaanesh worshippers will aim to take captives for hedonistic rituals, offering certain strategic opportunities and informing loyalists about their likely movements? It all depends very much on how you view the information structures and trust within a chapter, which varies by chapter, as well as how you perceive the role of space marines in the Imperium as a whole. If they are basically soldiers, this kind of information is less important and might well be kept secret by paranoid officials. If they have a wider remit that includes investigation, small-unit missions and acting as aides or advisors, then it doesn't really make sense to me for them not to have that kind of information. Sending in a small unit to investigate situations when they aren't given enough information to analyse, identify and countermand threats is not sensible.

All this is a very long way of saying that I feel like this is a situation where the Fists should just have got the information. This isn't particularly complicated stuff: this is Traitor Legions 101. I have no idea what the actual mission stated, but the rulebook gives no guidance on how to handle this, and so I don't think Arthur's to blame. From what I've seen, any notes in the mission most likely offered a -20 penalty to Forbidden Lore rolls on the basis that you're trying to use Forbidden Lore.

Slightly later on, our in-character knowledge includes detailed understanding of the mindset of the Alpha Legion. I'm not trying to pick on Arthur here, not least because he used this on the spot as a way to give us metagame knowledge ("step away from the massive paranoia tangent of obsessing about this detail") without flat-out telling us in GM-voice that it's a result of scenario design clashing with reality. It seems perfectly reasonable that we would Know Our Enemies, and it's certainly plausible that we'd have memorised specific stuff about each legion without necessarily wanting to positively identify a specific group of enemies based on some general clues. I'm partly just flagging this up in case anyone else spots it, and partly because the contrast between these two situations just further emphasises for me how unclear the books are on this aspect of the game.

Of course, it's possible one reason the rules are pretty general about knowledge is that it's taken from a ruleset designed for all possible (okay, likely) 40K characters, and "common knowledge" varies massively by role in the universe. At the same time, this strikes me as exactly what individual books are for in such a game line. The summary for Forbidden Lore: Traitor Legions is just a few words, and it contrasts significantly with that for Common Lore: Adeptus Astartes and indeed Forbidden Lore: Adeptus Astartes.

Forbidden Lore: The Traitor Legions: The secrets of the lost Space Marine Legions, their names, and the sad tale of their fall from grace.

Forbidden Lore: Adeptus Astartes: Extensive knowledge of the practices, organisation, and homeworlds of the Imperial Space Marines and their Chapters, including hints and rumours of their myriad of secret rituals and methods of recruitment and training.

Common Lore: Adeptus Astartes: An understanding of the role, function, and nature of the famed Imperial Space Marines, as well as a knowledge of the commonly known Chapters and their practices and areas of operation.

Note that CLAA specifically mentions the practices of Chapters, and FLAA specifies their practices, rituals, methods and training. FLTL is far more cagey about what is actually included, more or less leaving this up to the GM. I find this unsatisfactory.

Friday, 7 November 2014

A Stony Sleep, part 1

They have returned! A-Fisting we will go, a-Fisting we will go... or rather, we did go. About a year ago, in fact. Whoops. Sorry.

To Lose One Inquisitor

This is a playthrough of A Stony Sleep from The Emperor Protects, so be careful not to let on to your GM that you listened to it. It does reveal one crucial plot event, and foreknowledge will inevitably affect the way you play this scenario. As always, be aware that the podcast is not really family-friendly, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Some episodes feature bonus material after the closing music, of varying interest. This is usually either teasers, or conversations that were sort of interesting, but not a bit tangential to the main episode.

Episode 1

The Episode

I am really very sorry about the crisps.

There's not a whole lot going on in this episode, which is mostly briefing. However, you'll notice that our sensible paranoia averts a major problem. As Arthur has discussed, the designers seemed pretty sure players wouldn't be able to handle this basic escort mission. In fairness, the assassination plot is sufficiently far-fetched that you might well assume no sensible player would think of it.