Thursday, August 11, 2011

In-Between Games 01: Six Long Years

Between games two and three, the PCs aged six years, and for those who hadn't, grew out of adolescence into either young adulthood, or adulthood proper, bringing them up to full stats. However, to simulate the years' happenings, I used the "Random Events Chart" (REC) from my last post. Here are the results in narrative form. 

Ra'id Telour (now 16 years old):

Shane requested to make a number of diplomacy rolls to make contacts around the city, and I wove those into his six results from the REC:
1. Had a good, but short, relationship with a girl. Details to follow! Give me any thoughts on any of these to help me flesh them out.
2. Killed a major player in Freeport - again, details to follow. Was this an accident (bar fight gone wrong?) or assassination?
3. Minor contact with Freeport individual (any contacts in particular you're looking for?)
4-5 Did time for major crime (stole one very "rich" item), and ended up in the Tombs, Freeport's landbound prison.
6. Made influential friend, who pulled strings and got you out of the Tombs, which is where you've just arrived from when the next game begins.

Shane rolled a one, a fumble, to contact Torsten Roth, but wasn't aware of his failure at the time. Later, Ra'id remembered him saying, “There used to be standards in this district (Merchant District), you know. Now they just let anybody in. Oh, don’t take offense. Let’s just pretend I wasn’t talking about you and get back to business.”

Torsten Roth (male human journeyman) is forty-five, well-dressed, and one of the richest men in Freeport. He is head of both the Guild of Merchants and the powerful Roth merchant family (with interests in mining, fine wines, and exotic goods). He’s also an annoying, self-aggrandizing, condescending snob who thinks most people (including his fellow guild members) are beneath him. He has plenty of money, but what he wants more is political power—power that could make him even richer. He publicly supports Milton Drac in the hopes of being elected to the Captains’ Council. Ra'id suspects Roth was caught up in the events that got him incarcerated in the Tombs, but can't be sure. 

He then had a moderate success in contacting Vikki Tarjay, which I made his short and good relationship. Vikki got Ra'id into the Joy Boys, a gang of rich kids interested in raising hell. The Joy Boys are a gang—more of a club—of spoiled rich kids, the bored lesser scions of wealthy merchants and noble families. While they pretended to be criminals, they aren't much more than thugs. They beat up merchants, rob the working class, and get into bar brawls for fun, not because they needed the money. Vikki stopped dating Ra'od once she realized he wasn't part of the merchant class.

His third roll was another fumble, for Walter Dalloway, Walter Dalloway is a typical member of the Rakeshames, and Vikki's on-and-off boyfriend (Ra'id was a rebound). The dissolute fourth son of a large banking family, Walter feels little pressure from his family to enter the family business, marry well, or do well at his studies. He's spending his teens drinking, whoring, and learning aristocratic swordsmanship, and yearns to do something with those skills—something unpleasant. Handsome, well-dressed, and remarkably free of manners, Walter was the one who got Ra'id put in jail by requiring the Azhar to pass a test of initiation (a way to get in despite not being of the Merchant class (at least, not Freeport merchants)). The test was to steal an item from High Priest of the Temple of Abadar, Thuron Abacot. When Ra'id broke into the High Priest's chambers (hoping to get Vikki back), he grabbed the first thing he could find. He brought it back to Walter, and went home thinking he was in with the Joy Boys, and all was well. In the middle of the night, the Watch came for him, and he was taken straight to the Tombs, without trial. There were mentions of the word of a major player in town against yours, and both Torsten Roth and William Dalloway (Walter's father) against Ra'id's. While the details are still fuzzy, Ra'id was clearly set up.

The rest of Shane's rolls were moderate to good. Here are the results, again, woven into the REC results:
Ra'id almost made friends Jessapine Holimon. Tall, ethereally beautiful, and as tenacious as a pit bull, Jessapine Holimon has worked hard for years to reach her current level of success (unlike a certain rich-born guildmaster). She is the most successful importer and retailer of women’s clothing in Freeport, and the daughters of the guild leaders wouldn’t purchase their gowns from anyone else in town. Jessapine is quite influential within the guild, and she is convinced Torsten Roth is leading it on the road to ruin.

Shane requested two-weapon combo for Ra'id, so he had to have a teacher. Ra'id trained with Rex Nash (clearly not his real name), a half-elven swashbuckler and well-known womanizer/wealthy rake who resides on a double masted schooner called "The Waveroller." The boat is parked at the Merchant District Marina.  He shares the space with a series of beautiful women of all races, as well as his servant, a female Drow (Ra'id naively suspects she is a lesbian, as she is indifferent to Nash's charms) named Nanji, who is a skilled martial artist and excellent bartender.

The last roll incorporated the influential friend roll from the REC, and introduced the Tombs, Freeport's prison:

The Tombs are Freeport's jail: The main prison in Freeport is located inside the Fortress of Justice and is known throughout the city as the Tombs. They’ll tell you the building got its nickname because it was based on an elaborate mausoleum from the Jungle Lands, but the denizens of the underworld know differently. Many criminals who end up in the Tombs are never heard from again. building is solid brick. There’s a main floor above ground, with bars on all the windows, and reinforced walls that are three feet thick. The roof of the building is shaped like a ziggurat—it has no real reason for its appearance except to look massive and foreboding. The first floor is the headquarters for the jailer and guards. There’s also a mess hall, kitchen, larder, and chapel to the God of Penitence. Small groups of prisoners are taken here daily to hear sermons, sing hymns, and pray for forgiveness.

The prison cells are located on two levels underground. There are sixty cells on each floor, each cell approximately eight feet by six feet. Each can hold three prisoners, but most hold several more. The walls of the cells are constructed of large, stone blocks. Prisoners are fed twice a day with meals slipped through the small slots at the bottom of the cell doors. Some popular menu items—gruel, boiled bones, stale bread crusts, and fish head soup. Meals are served with a small cup of dirty water. Many prisoners go hungry, and some have even died of starvation. Other ways to die inside the Tombs include death by venomous vermin, food poisoning, succumbing to disease, and being murdered by your fellow cellmates. Prisoners kill each other over food, scraps of clothing, insults, vendettas, and grudges—or sometimes for no reason at all.

The Tombs hold a motley assortment of criminals, from vile rapists, raving murderers, to political prisoners that have somehow fallen through the cracks to spend their remaining days languishing in the bowels of Freeport’s terrifying prison.

While incarcerated, Ra'id met one of the Tombs’ oldest residents, Marius Edgel, who has survived in this inhospitable prison for almost a decade. At the peak of his career as a notorious crime lord, he managed upwards of a dozen operations, including smuggling, extortion, larceny, and even murder. In particular, Marius managed a small circle of assassins in Freeport and on the Continent, and several high profile assassinations fell squarely on his shoulders. The Continent’s efforts to extradite the man had all failed since Freeport had no intention of turning over one of their citizens, so a team of killers came for Marius instead. After thwarting eight attempts on his life, Marius realized he could not continue to run his business on the “outside,” so he voluntarily turned himself in. Allies in the legal system made sure that his time in the Tombs was for show, and he was free to come and go as he pleased. In the ten years he’s been a prisoner, Marius has actually spent less than a year in the Tombs. Much of his time is spent in a state of semi-retirement at his house in Libertyville, which was the connection to Ra'id. When he discovered the Azhar's connection with Evil Eye Fleagle, he had Ra'id moved to his private cell. When Marius returns to Freeport, he visits his posh offices in the Tombs, where he manages various businesses. His filthy cell is just a front. A cunningly concealed door against the back wall leads to a comfortable apartment that has tunnel access into a house in the Merchant District. Once Marius checked out things with his contacts, he discovered the nature of Ra'id's frame up, which was mainly Walter Dalloway's doing, out of jealousy for Vikki's attentions.

Although he’s nearly sixty, Marius is in great shape. He has short brown hair and brown eyes. Marius arranged for Ra'id to go free: Ra'id went to a bar Watler Dalloway frequents, and murdered him.

Gar Irontooth (now 15 years old)

Both Shane and George are very involved players, so George's Half-orc Alchemist provided me with a lot of back-and-forth emails. These were focused more on the mechanics of the alchemist class, and what kind of money Gar could make in six years. Geo is a math professor, and excels at Excel. He sent along a spreadsheet, demonstrating the rolls made, which ones went poorly, and how much money he could have made, which ended up being 2110 gold - in serious excess of a second level coffer! Enter the danger of having characters get six years to sit around and effectively do whatever the hell they want. Luckily, Gar was going to school at the Freeport Institute for many of these years, so I was able to sink the money into tuition and books. I solved this problem with Shane/Ra'id's merchant dealings by making him pay for sword-fighting lessons with Rex Nash. Furthermore, I had to consider that not every thing Gar makes was necessarily sold at the price he hoped for, if it sold at all. That's one of the realistic aspects I think an urban setting should entail. Since everything is available, that awesome shit you stole from the dungeon won't sell immediately. It might not sell at all, and potentially, if it does, it might belong to someone powerful. Likewise, the market might not be interested in new potions. After all, Gar isn't the only alchemy act in town. (If anyone is interested in seeing how we resolved Gar's gaming mechanics, let me know and I'll post the conversation between George and I).

In the 6 year gap, Gar studied and engaged in alchemy to support himself financially, support the gang with alchemical items, and so establish both an above board alchemical trade and an illicit drug trade.  He obtained alchemical items for himself by producing two batches of the item when a customer orders it, keeping one, and selling the other to the customer to recoup the cost.  

Here are Gar's REC results:

1. Due to your life in school, Gar is often bored, finding school lacking the colour of his underworld connections.
2. Discovered ruins on a school field trip, and has only confided in Hutch regarding this discovery.
3. Was convicted of drug dealing in connection with Aporcus Beadle's expulsion from the Freeport Institute. Thankfully, all the Institute demanded of you was a fine of 100 gp. Gar paid this without trouble, as per the discussion regarding Alchemy's big bucks. He had been dealing with Beadle since their first meeting, and continued to provide him with both drugs and poison.
4. A second conviction of drug dealing, also in connection to Beadle, got Gar a flogging, which nearly killed him.
5. The resulting illness from your public flogging resulted in a stat deterioration of his strength by 1.
6. In the wake of Gar's flogging, he was kicked out of the Institute, but Delinda Knorbertaal took pity on him and gave him a job at Knorbertaal's Herbs. Her health has been failing for awhile, and Gar is worried about her. Beadle still lives with his aunt, but he's usually out trying to score a hit. Gar stopped dealing with him after your second infraction, as you suspect it's his stupidity that keeps getting you caught. Delinda gives Gar a discount on items in the store, and he has access to the providers directly through ordering, so Gar gets his supplies for Alchemy at even lower prices (I felt like I was cutting my own throat letting George get his supplies so cheap, but seriously - this is how retail works!). Instead of 1/3, I went with 1/4 the price.

Hutch (now 19 years old)

Taylor was still struggling with how to play Hutch, until we discussed playing him as a sort of mix between Bernie Mac in Ocean's Eleven crossed with Samuel L. Jackson. It's spruced up Taylor's gaming considerably. Here are Hutch's results from the REC:

1. Hutch attempted to befriend Ethie, after his initial bad first impression. As it turns out, Ethie is genuinely glad to see Hutch is still alive when he goes back to Strebeck's, and discerns the quality of his character.
2. Hutch experienced a few months of utter boredom and ennui while living off the earnings from the first game - this prompted him to go looking for a job.
3. Contracted a cold that didn't go away for three months, but was never very serious.
4. Ethie offered him a job working as a dishwasher at Strebeck's. Hutch was promoted to providing muscle as a bouncer in later years as he grew up. (Hutch has a bit of Troll blood back in his family, and stands 6"8 and 250 lbs).
5. Convicted of assault and battery - was given a fine of 50 gp: I gave Tay the choice of paying the fine and  subtracting it from his money, or enduring a flogging. Hutch took the beating, and recovered. He has plans for his funds...
6. The Ghosts, via Hutch, were offered membership in The Syndicate, under the halfling crimelord, Finn.


Mikey kicked things off with an email inquiring about the status of his mother, as he felt this would directly affect his decisions about whether to become a, for lack of a better word, "Cleric" of Luck (and yes, he chose the Luck Domain). While Lucky is not a Cleric per se, he is a devotee of Olladra, an Eberron deity. I took Olladra over Pathfinder's Callistria, because it didn't seem right that a hobbit/goblin would have anything to do with a deity as Elven as Callistria. Olladra made more sense in both mine and Mikey's mind, since one of her forms is a halfling woman. Lucky came to this decision through his studies at the Freeport Institute. The Pirate's Guide says that the Institute occasionally takes in people of lower classes, and it fit with Lucky's goals. Again, we're trying to create a sort of Cleric who isn't Clergy. As Mikey put it, "I am going to play it so subtle. As roguey a cleric as possible. No lavish prayers (his faith is internal, prayers silent). A private faith. The most pious he'll get is his nightly hour spent quietly on the roofs, thinking. The others probably don't even know exactly what's up. And no one would call him a priest, except possibly a mentor of his at the institute."

Here are the results of Lucky's REC rolls:

1.You were accepted to study at the Freeport Institute through a special scholarship deal you suspect Finn had some hand in. The fact you could pay your own tuition didn't hurt. This is where you got your interest in probability/luck theory (like chaos theory in a fantasy world!).
2.Your mother had a very good year with an investment deal she had paid money into, and was able to retire from work at the brothel. She now lives in a small apartment in the Eastern District
3. You were given a set of throwing knives by your mom. They have terrible balance, but you carry them for sentimental reasons, and as a last resort. They look really badass, which is a good thing. -1 in combat, but +1 to intimidate.
4. You helped solve a minor crime in your neighborhood, which involved going to someone's house with clubs, bats, and saps, and telling the perp to leave Freeport and never do what they did (threaten a young girl a few doors down) ever again.
5. You broke your arm in rooftop running and were laid up for awhile.
6. You were given your own set of thieves tools by your mom, but they aren't very good. You use them for sentimental reasons, even though they don't provide you with a bonus. You're wondering about asking Gar to give them some boost.

Mikey informed me, right before the third game, that Lucky commissioned a masterwork crossbow with the words "Good" and "Luck" on either side of the lathe (crosspiece).

Blaine isn't a big fan of gaming in-between games, so his six years was a straightforward process without much back-and-forth.

1. Got in a relationship with a girl, and it stuck. I asked Blaine, "Does she clean Tuck up, or is she just a tavern wench or prostitute?" He went with tavern wench, a halfling girl named Lily, who does her best to clean him up. Blaine gave a very cool "reveal" of this to the other players, in-character-voice, repeating the phrase, "We're just doing our best" several times.

2. Discovered some ruins outside the city while drunk one night and it started raining. You slept just down the first flight of stairs, but were slow to enter further. This happened a week ago.

3. Lost a few months in one of the years drinking heavily and doing very little of substance. You went gambling to generate drinking money, and currently owe the house 50 Lords (gp). You're looking for a job to cover that cost, as it was a few months back, and Finn is threatening to take it out of you with a few thugs.

4. You stole a very expensive item a few years back. You may choose one +1 weapon to add to your arsenal.

5. You made friends with Poppy Bragg, head of the Longshoremen's Union, who keep the docks a safe place. He hires you as muscle on an ongoing basis.

6. One night when you were wandering drunk, you're relatively convinced you found the doorway to that realm Sophie Steadman told the story about. Terrified, you've never gone back, but you know exactly where the portal is, up in Drac's End.


Jeff is also not much of an "in-between" gamer, but like Blaine, he did a great job of incorporating his six years into game play.

1. You bumped into Sophie Steadman (the storyteller) two years after you left Cleaves. She had changed her name to Trinia Sabor because Simon Midwich (the leader of the Fork and Knives) had been following her around. You struck up a relationship, which became a romance. You've been with Trinia since.

2. You pulled off a major theft, and are now the owner of a visiting pirate's +1 Dragon flintlock gun, masterwork. It's a very impressive weapon, and since the pirate left town, you're free to brandish it on a belt you keep slung across your chest.

3. You pulled off a second major heist, adding a Gorgon Rifle to your armaments. You'll still be awkward with the weapons unless you choose to pursue firearms as your preferred weapon (you have to choose either archery or two weapon fighting as your level two feat, but given that you're in Freeport and you're an urban ranger, I'll open it up to include firearms as well). If you're totally nonplussed with this and wish to stick to your archery, I'll change those items. (Jeff chose to run with the firearms, which worked out well in the third game.)

4. You laid low in the wake of those two heists, as you didn't want to generate too much heat in your direction. You were sick with the flu.

5. Tovac offered you a position as a deputy of the guard in Drac's End. (Which Jeff accepted for Mokey - the way he sees it, he polices Drac's End, but works with Finn's Syndicate in the Eastern District because there is no law enforcement there taking care of business.)

6. You lost a lot of money gambling recently, and currently owe the house 300 Lords. You're looking hard for a job that pays very well.

There it is! Six Long Years, on the record! I recommend one roll/month or year, depending on how long the "break" is. I had six years to do, so I went with one roll per year, because there was no way I was doing 72.

Random Events Chart

I said I wouldn't be writing until after the next game, but I wanted to share the process by which we facilitated the jump of six years. As I've mentioned before at the blog, we used to be hardcore Rolemaster players. While many of the complications of Rolemaster have been jettisoned, I occasionally consult tables that were extremely useful to me over the years. One of those tables is the Random Events Chart from Rolemaster Companion IV.

Unlike many random events charts in RPGs, the Rolemaster version was dedicated to small events, not big world events, although Rolemaster Companion 7 contained such a chart. The one I used was intended for "generating events when a PC or group of PCs rest or retire for a period of time." As with all things Rolemaster, it uses percentile dice, and a roll of 01-05 results in an open ended negative "fumble" roll (re-roll and subtract the result from your initial roll), and a roll of 95-00 results in a open ended positive "critical" roll (re-roll and add the result to your initial roll).

I went through my books, tracked it down, and used it with some modifications for our six year jump, making one roll for each year. Here is my adjusted version, scaled for a criminal element urban campaign in Freeport (all apologies to the copyright holder, but I'm hoping my modifications exempt me from an act of copyright infringement - also, this table is too cool to languish in torrent PDF hell):

-100-<: Jailed in the Hulks - permanent: once you go in, you don't come out
-99-98: Run afoul of/hunted by evil deity
-97-95: Run afoul of/hunted by major evil cult
-94-92: Cursed/branded/marked
-91-89: Death of friend/close relative
-88-86: Make major enemy
-85-83: Lose major magic item
-82-80: Lose major amount of money
-79-77: Major wound--stat deterioration STR, DEX, and/or CHA based on location
-76-74: Major mental illness (use rules for insanity)
-73-71: Major illness -- stat deterioration
-70-67: Convicted of major crime
   -66  : Roll again, add/subtract 66 and take both results
-65-63: Friend/relative convicted of major crime (should not be another PC)
-62-60: Academic/training/experimental error
-59-57: Thrown out of guild/society
-65/54: Run afoul of minor evil cult
-53-51: Minor accident/injury
-50-48: Lose minor magic item
-47-44: Lose minor amount of money
-43-40: Accident/injury to friend/relative
-39-36: Out with society
-35-32: Involved in local Disaster
-31-28: Minor illness
-27-24: Lose a job
-23-20: Run afoul of authorities (was originally bandits/thieves, but my players are the bandits and thieves)
-19-16: Lose mundane item
-15-12: Convicted of minor crime or misdemeanor
-11-08: Went hungry/starved
-07-04: Political goof/out of favor
-03-00: Beat up by local toughs/bouncers/muggers
01-04: Social faux pas
05-25: Life is boring/uneventful
26-35: Offered guild/societal membership
36-45: Short, troubled relationship
46-55: Short, positive relationship
56-60: Accused of, but not convicted of minor crime
61-65: Discovered/explored ancient ruins/abandoned house/warehouse
   66:   Roll again, add/subtract 66 and use both results.
67-71: Mundane award/recognition (this is important for our game, as we're about to include reputation points, as in the Iron Kingdoms line)
72-76: Long, troubled relationship
77-81: Long, positive relationship
82-86: Make minor influential friend/contact
87-91: Friend/relative successful
92-96: Gain job opportunity
97-101: Travel to another country
102-106: Good health: (increase one physical stat by 1)
107-111: In good with society
112-116: Gain normal item
117-121: Gain normal monetary sum (For my players, successful heist!)
122-126: Marked by a deity
127-131: View different realm or plane
132-136: Slay major monster/menace
137-141: Save important personage
142-146: Make major friend/contact/ally
147-151: Gain a rich item
152-156: Gain rich monetary sum (a big strike! According to Iron Kingdoms, this may mean you can't practice your wrongdoing in the place you pulled this off in ever again.)
157-161: Offered admittance to a special/secret society
162-171: Influenced/quested by a deity
172-176: Accused of, but not convicted of, major crime
177-181: Major award/recognition/title
182-186: Prevented local disaster
187-189: Travel to different realm/plane
190-192: Gain artifact
193-195: Gain very rich monetary sum
196-197: Meet deity
198-199: Befriended by deity
    200:    Deified

There you go! Hope it helps y'all in your gaming. I recommend one roll per year or month, depending on how long your break is. I went with years, because there was no way I was going to do 72 rolls.