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Session #12 – Daring Tale #6 – The Palladium Peril

April 07, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Central Cemetery Tomb[Author's Note: This is the log for the 12th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Johnny Kelly – Self-taught mechanic and chemist who knows he is the best at what he does…just ask him!
  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Watery Escape

After boasting about his master plan Sturmbahnfuhrer Heinrich Kempler informs the captive heroes that behind one wall are explosives and caverns full of water. When the explosives go off the group will drown in agonizing fashion. After a villainous laugh Kempler leaves the heroes to their fate. Quickly the group escapes from their bonds, opens the door, then rushes out of the room. As the they speed down the passageway the explosion goes off and the water quickly approaches! To slow down the water Johnny tells Miles where to place some mystic lightning bolts to bring down parts of the walls and ceiling behind them. This gives the members of Tesla’s Power Corp enough time to narrowly escape from the rushing water.

After emerging from the water filled chamber the group spots a piece of pottery that is very well preserved. Miles senses that it is magic and picks it up carefully. Written in Latin is a message that informs the group that the Palladium was moved to Constantinople in the 4th century. After sneaking out of the Coliseum the heroes charter a quick flight to Istanbul.

Stavros And The Turkish Baths

Upon arriving in Turkey Miles contacts one of his old business associates named Stavros Papadopoulos. Stavros is an ex-wrestler turned antique dealer whose only code of honor is cash. While having breakfast the group is met by a small Turk named Beni who appears to be an employee of Stavros. Beni informs the group that they are to meet Stavros at a local bath. Not trusting the little man Tommy quietly follows him. Tommy observes Beni meet several large looking Turks near one of the entrances to the covered bazaar. After this brief meeting he heads to the bath where he speaks with Stavros. When the meeting with Stavros is over Tommy observes Beni watch the front of the bath from a concealed location.

After their exotic breakfast has concluded the members of Tesla’s Power Corp head to the baths. There they are told to remove their clothing and grab a towel so that they can speak with Stavros. Mike and Miles take part but Tommy remains on watch outside and Johnny wait in the changing room inside. Stavros informs Miles and Mike that he has found some information about the Palladium based on the information provided by Miles. He believes that the Palladium was taken by Emperor Constantine to the city in the 4th century. This would also explain why the fabled Arab forces were never able to capture Constantinople. Stavros believes that the Palladium was taken from the royal treasury for safe keeping by Emperor Alexius III who rightly believed that Constantinople would fall to the Venetians. Alexius was entombed in Nicaea which is not too far from Istanbul.

After relaying this information the bath is beset by a hoard of Turkish assassins! Tommy sneaks inside to try and warn Miles and Mike but is hampered by the men. When the assassins burst into the bath Tommy throws brass knuckles to Mike then turns to face them. Miles cuts loose with lightning blasts while Mike rushes into the fray with fist flying. Stavros fells one man after several blows! Having prepared the purple Aztec powder Johnny unleashes it on the men to devastating effect! When the last man falls Johnny drags in Beni covered in glue. Stavros takes Beni and says that he will cleanup this sniveling rat. He then tells the heroes that he will have his brother Kristo drive them in his truck to Nicaea.

Half-Track Nitro Express

That afternoon the group packs their bags and jumps into the beat up stake-bed truck provided by Kristo. Johnny and Miles take the front seat with Kristo while Mike and Johnny sit in the back.

As they are approaching Nicaea a Nazi half-track pulls in behind them! The half-track is loaded with men and sports a machine gun! Quickly the group tries to target the driver. Miles confuses him while Johnny douses him with tear gas. Tommy quickly searches under a tarp in the back of the truck and finds a box of nitroglycerin! Using care he throws a bottle at the half-track sending it into a ditch in a heap of flame and debris!

To Trap Or Not To Trap

In Nicaea the group is driven to a sparse valley with the remains of a small ruin. After carefully searching Mike finds a slab that will move and lifts it out. Inside a set of stairs lead into the tomb. Carefully searching for traps Tommy leads the way. At the bottom of the stairs he finds slits where saw blades swing out in the bottom part of the stairway and the first part of the room. After determining that the trigger is not on the stairs Tommy investigates further. The room has two burial chambers and a skeleton dressed in armor in the middle of the room. The skeleton is lying face down facing towards the entrance to the room. After pocketing some things from the skeleton Tommy finds the trigger to the trap. It is near the locations of the skeleton. He must have triggered the trap and been cut down by the blades. After disabling the trap the rest of the PC descend and investigate the chamber. Miles finds a shelf that must have once contained the Palladium as it radiates with a powerful magic. Johnny takes down a sketch of a symbol on the skeleton’s armor then the group exits the chamber.

At the top of the chamber they are surprised to find Sturmbahnfuhrer Kempler and a squad of Nazi soldiers! Having cleverly prepared a fake box Johnny presents it to the Nazi commander. As he moves to open the wooden box the heroes of Tesla’s Power Corp attack. In a flurry of lightning bolts, gyro rockets, and fists the Nazi soldiers go down hard. When the tide of the battle turns Kempler attempts to make an escape but is stopped by our heroes. When the battle ends the PC tie up Kempler and deliver him to Stavros who says that anyone who threatens his friends and his brother Kristo will be dealt with harshly.

After handing over Kempler the group shows Stavros the symbol that they found in the tomb. Stavros, Miles, and Mike pour over ancient texts in Stavros’ collection until they find the symbol. It is a Viennese family crest from the Von Hansen family. The Von Hansen’s are famous architects in Vienna and have created many of their famous buildings and statues.

Vienna Tomb Robbing

In Vienna the group finds that the family is entombed at the Central Graveyard. The Central Graveyard is a vast cemetery that is the second largest in Europe. The Von Hansen tomb is a fine bit of architectural design. When the sun sets the heroes break into the tomb and carefully descend. Inside they search around and discover a hidden marble panel that slides down. The panel reveals a hidden chamber. Inside the chamber is a strange room with four colored stripes on the floor. At the end of the room is a glass case that holds the Palladium. Under the case is text that says, “The weight of the four reveals all.” After careful searching Tommy finds four pressure plates at the end of each stripe near the case. He locks one down then instructs Miles and Mike to stand on the other two plates. Once all of the plates are down the case opens. Miles carefully examines the Palladium then pockets it in his coat.

As Miles takes the statue Mike who is guarding the door sees a group of men approaching. After spotting the men Mike moves down the hallway and prepares to open fire with his Tommy Gun. He yells that Nazi’s are coming to the other members of Tesla’s Power Corp! When the others release the pressure plates a huge bolt of lightning lights up one of the stripes and heavy marble block descends from the ceiling trapping them in the room! The three heroes inside start to lift the stone with crowbars then use a wedge to keep it from sliding down. Just as Tommy, Miles, and Johnny are escaping the Nazi’s pour down the stairs! Mike cuts loose with a furry of lead cutting down the first two men. As the Nazi’s start to retreat they see the strange Nazi super soldier Agent X grab one of the men and run down the stairs using him as a shield! Mike opens fire but Agent X manages to reach the bottom and attempts to cut into him with a large knife. Mike manages to fend him off while the other heroes blast him with spells and high-tech weaponry. Eventually Agent X falls and the remaining Nazis flee.

With the Palladium safely in their possession the members of Tesla’s Power Corp return to Britain where the statuette is safely delivered to the British Secret Service. Who knows…with all of the political machinations of that Hitler fellow in Germany the Palladium may come in handy.

When stars align a sleeping evil awakens. Will the skills of Tesla’s Power Corp be enough to fight back this impending darkness?!? Listen up if you want to find out!!!

Review of Memoir 44 By Days Of Wonder

March 20, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Games, Product Reviews

Memoir 44 Base Set

-== What is it? ==-

Memoir 44 is a light wargame published by Days Of Wonder. The base set for Memoir 44 was released 10 years ago in 2004. It was created by game designer Richard Borg who gained fame for his Battle Cry line of wargames. Memoir 44 is a highly awarded game that has won accolades from several prestigious organizations. Here is a link to the Days Of Wonder site that lists the various awards.

The Memoir 44 base set comes with a full color instruction manual with sample scenarios, a dual-sided play board, terrain tiles, two sets of army figures (US and German), a set of cards, custom battle dice, and pair of card stands. In this review I will be discussing the base set and the entire Memoir 44 line in general. I have purchased all of the expansions for Memoir 44 and one of the map packs (aka Battle Maps). I have played the game with various expansions hundreds of times.

-== What I Like ==-

Memoir 44 is the perfect mix of simplicity and intuitive strategy. Once the basic rules are learned expansions can be used to tack on additional twists and modifications without breaking the basic mold. The base rules are so easy to grasp that even younger players have no trouble picking it up. I play most of Memoir 44 sessions against my 9 year old son. My 9 year old can probably beat most adults. ;) We recently finished a campaign that was comprised of several linked scenarios. In the last scenario he beat me 5 medals to 0 medals. :)

The expansions to Memoir 44 are quite numerous. There are several that add armies (Pacific Theater, Eastern Front, etc), some that add terrain, and others that add gear. The expansions perfectly build on the base rule set giving an enhanced feel of play without feeling overly complicated or cumbersome. My son and I think the Winter Wars expansion is our favorite. One thing that we love about this expansion is a second card deck geared for winter combats. This second deck really adds not only to the feel of combats but also neatly fit on top of existing battles. We really hope that Days Of Wonder does other add-on decks for Memoir 44. (As a point of reference there is an Urban deck in the Sword Of Stalingrad map pack which we also enjoy. ;) )

There are thousands of scenarios available for Memoir 44. Days Of Wonder produces several campaign books that are full of scenarios and hosts an online site where folks can upload their own scenarios. Days Of Wonder also has a free campaign editor that can be used to make your own scenarios. The output from the campaign editor is a scenario that looks nearly as professional as ones in the released products. The combination of the scenario editor and the online database of submitted scenarios is really fantastic. The database allows for fairly advanced searches so you can find scenarios where you own all of the required expansions and allows for other users to rate them. Memoir 44 is one heavily supported game line.

I often joke with people that I am teaching to play Memoir 44 that one of my favorite parts about the game is setting it up. You first lay down a base board then apply terrain tiles on top. Finally you place the troops. As the terrain and troops are placed on top of a simple board this means you have a ton of flexibility in the layout of the scenario. If you have the correct winter or desert tiles the effect is even more impressive. This game looks killer. :)

On top of all of this support Days Of Wonder also offers online play for free! You can download the Memoir 44 game and play other people online or play against the computer. It is tons of fun playing against the computer who can be quite tough on certain scenarios.

-== What I Don’t Like ==-

Overall the quality of the components in the Memoir 44 base set is fair. The infantry and armor figures are evocative and stand fairly well. My only complaint with the infantry figures is in the coloring. In some lights the coloring of the German (dark blue) and US infantry (dark green) can be hard to distinguish…at least they are for me. My son says that he does not really have a problem with them. The US, German, and Japanese artillery figures are quite fragile. Several of our German artillery figures have lost wheels that have broken off during play. I hope Days Of Wonder uses the British and Russian artillery figures as a model if they come out with more artillery figures. They are on a solid base and built much sturdier. The boards themselves have also ripped after being used so many times. We now use binder clips to hold them together but it would be nice if they had some type of sturdier backing to prevent tearing. The card stands that come with the Memoir 44 base set are really a complete waste of time in my opinion. They are tiny and REALLY easy to knock over. My son and I used them only a few times then gave up as we often play on carpet. It is simple enough to just hold the cards in your hard or set them down.

In my opinion the artillery units in Memoir 44 seem a bit too powerful. I think they can really upset the play balance. Artillery have very long ranges, ignore terrain protection, do not require line of sight, AND are difficult to kill. I think I might have made them much easier to kill so that they are a bit more balanced with the other components in the game.

I can see where some hardcore wargamers will not like the randomness of the gameplay in Memoir 44. There is inherent randomness in card drawing and in rolling the outcome of attacks on the battle dice. I am particularly unlucky and have played games where I just can’t do any damage even when my troops are in a far superior situation. I think over the long haul of a campaign this evens out a bit more but it can be a detractor for some.

As I mentioned in the header I have nearly all of the Memoir 44 expansions. We are only missing three of the Battle Packs. There are a LOT of expansions. I would estimate my collection at roughly a $600 street cost. One problem is that one of the best expansions, the Air Pack, is no longer produced and it is VERY expensive to buy on the used game market. After sticking with it for over 6 months I was able to get a copy on eBay for roughly $95. (It has a $45 retail price.) Ouch. :( When I won it on eBay the boys and I watched the final minutes and cheered when we took the bid. :) The funny thing about the Air Pack is that one of my favorite parts about the set is the additional cards it includes and the manual. These additional cards include terrain cards from almost all of the expansions! This is really nice as for some reason most of the main army packs do not include cards for new terrain. The Air Pack manual is also wonderful as it repeats some of the existing scenarios but adds air support. This allows existing scenarios to be replayed with neat twists. Days Of Wonder should seriously consider releasing the Air Pack again or at least the offering the cards and manual for sale.

Memoir 44 is really a 2 player game. It can be played in what is called Overloard mode with 8 players but the heart of the game is mano-e-mano. At times I wish some of Evan’s friends could play along with us a bit easier.

-== Summary ==-

Memoir 44 is a massive hit with me and my 9 year old. Nearly every night after work he begs to play that next scenario in the campaign or to play one that he made on the computer. I am more than happy to oblige. This is one of my favorite games of all time and I would give it a 10 paws out of 10 if not for some issues with the components and the expense of some of the expansions.

I give it 9 out of 10 paws.

Copies of Memoir 44 are $46.99 at this URL on Amazon. Noble Knight has copies at this URL for $45. Memoir 44 is $47.99 at Funagain Games at this URL.

Memoir 44 Ready To Play

Session #11 – Daring Tale #6 – The Palladium Peril

March 03, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Coliseum[Author's Note: This is the log for the 11th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Johnny Kelly – Self-taught mechanic and chemist who knows he is the best at what he does…just ask him!
  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Fencing Master

After questioning the blond mage, Kaspar Manlich, the heroes learn that the he has been ordered by his commander in Germany, Heinrich Kempler, to silence Agent Forsythe and to capture Professor Blumenthal. Blumenthal is known by Miles. He is an Oxford professor who specializes in Greek Classics. Professor Blumenthal’s recent research is around the myths and legends surrounding Troy. After depositing Herr Manlich in a garbage bin the group drives to Oxford to find the professor.

As it is night they decide to break into the professor’s Oxford office to look for clues. When Johnny and Tommy go around behind the building they are surprised to find a ladder going up to Professor Blumenthal’s office! The light also appears to be on and they can hear movement inside. Tommy climbs up carefully then pushes away the ladder to Johnny. Inside Tommy sees three men. They appear to be going through books on a shelf and putting certain ones into a duffle bag. When Mike and Miles approach the office door they also hear noise inside. Mike bashes in the door with Colts at the ready. When one of the men reaches for a pistol on the desk he opens fire putting him down quickly! The others immediately surrender. One of the two men is an English thug and the other is a German agent who says his name is Alexander Kohn. Alexander seems like the smart one in the bunch and only admits to being told to collect any books that looked “important”. After Miles uses his lightning to impress upon the English thug that he means business the man opens up. He tells the heroes that they are being ordered by an English bloke as some posh fencing club. After searching the body the group finds a pair of white leather fencing gloves with the initials “PMC”. Miles knows of an organization called The Pheasant Men’s Club. In the file cabinet Tommy finds a silver knife that the group knows are weapons of the Knights Templar. Professor Blumenthal must be a member!

With that the group investigates the men’s club. The Pheasant Men’s Club is less of a gym and more of a private mansion. It is down a secluded dirt road out of town. The mansion grounds are surrounded by a large black iron fence. When the members of Tesla’s Power Corp arrive they see two men standing near a car talking with another man who is at the door to the mansion. The man at the door is wearing an English hunting outfit and the other two men are wearing black trench coats and look like thugs. Miles openly approaches and tells the Englishman that he is a member and would like to enter. The man says that he knows all of the members and asks him to leave. When Miles says that he will not leave the man in the hunting outfit orders the two thugs to escort Miles off the grounds. When the men approach Miles the rest of the Corp members subdue them and place them in the trunk of the sedans. With that Miles enters the house with Mike at his heels with guns drawn.

Near the back of the house they find the man in the hunting outfit with several fencing students. The man who now appears to be their instructor again asks that they leave. While Miles and Mike are in a standoff the rest of the group searches the house. Tommy finds a safe and a suitcase in one room. The safe holds some English pounds and a medal in a case. The medal is some type of German military honor. With the medal is a picture of the Englishman with Adolf Hitler and some bald man. Tommy takes the medal and defaces the picture. He also takes the suitcase for investigation at a later time. Once Tommy and Johnny are done the Englishman boasts that they are too late and that Blumenthal will be on a train for the coast within the hour.

Train Rescue

The heroes arrive at the train station only 20 minutes or so before it is to depart. Tommy acts quickly and bribes some of the local help to let him take their place. Using this disguise he gets admittance to a baggage car where he finds a large crate and two men in black coats that are speaking in German. Miles buys the group tickets on the train then takes the cabin next to two other men who appear to be with the two men in the baggage car. After the train starts moving the group puts a plan into action. Tommy with fake blood on his face and neck staggers into the car getting their attention. This allows Johnny to let loose with tar gas pellets! After jamming the door to the other first class cabin, Miles and Mike then enter the fray in the baggage car. Mike bulls his way into the scene sending men flying backward with broken noses and teeth! After the thugs in the baggage car are down Tommy returns to the first class cabin and starts to break in. The men jump out the window leaving the train.

After freeing Professor Blumenthal from the crate and gaining his trust they are informed that he was captured by that fencing bloke named Steiner. Steiner has learned that the Professor is on the trail of the famed Palladium. The Palladium is said to have the power to lead any army to victory. Apparently the Nazi party thinks that they can use it to rule the world! The Professor tells them that he has tracked the Palladium to the Pantheon in Rome.

Roman Holiday

After a flight to Rome and a taxi to the Pantheon the group finds a secret compartment under a statue of Athena. Using some street smarts Tommy hires a local cleaning company to work on the statue. After the company removes the statue they leave a tarp covering the work area. Secretly the group examines the plinth. Inside they find a small stone box that Miles says is magic. When he opens the box he finds a scroll and small glass shard. The scroll is from an ancient scholar who mentions bringing the crystal to the Coliseum at midday. As it is almost noon the group races to the Coliseum.

When Miles raises the crystal to the sky a beam of light emerges that hits a spot on the wall. At that point the fencing instructor, Steiner, emerges from one of the entrances. He beckons the heroes to drop their firearms and to fight as “gentlemen”. When lions and Nazi soldiers with submachine guns appear the group decides to open fire. Tommy jumps up the side wall while Johnny lets loose smoke pellets. Miles uses a statue that he found in the suitcase to order the lions to attack Steiner then the Nazi soldiers. Mike rushes forward opening up on the men in a flurry or gunfire and flying fists! Professor Blumenthal takes a bullet but manages to heal himself with a spell! As the lions leave the arena chasing the Nazi soldiers there is a voice calling from the upper box…it is Kempler! After raising his fist the Coliseum fills with Nazi soldiers. It appears that Kemper has the heroes as prisoners and has whatever is at the end of that beam of light! What will our valiant team do now!?!

Can the stalwart members of Tesla’s Power Corp manage to escape the clutches of Sturmbahnfuhrer Kempler?!? If so to what exotic cities will their search for the Palladium take them!?! Stay tuned and find out!!!

Session #10 – Daring Tale #5 – The Talons Of Lo-Peng

January 28, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Lo-Peng Dragon Form[Author's Note: This is the log for the 10th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

The Great Wall Standoff

As the sun sets the members of Tesla’s Power Corp prepare to meet with Lo-Peng and hopefully free Mike’s Army buddy Eddie Chang. Miles and Mike approach via the walkway on the main wall while Tommy sneaks along the side. After walking for a bit they see Lo-Peng holding Eddie with a sharpened fingernail on his throat. While Miles gets Lo-Peng talking Tommy uses the opportunity to creep around behind. When the situation comes to a head Lo-Peng magically grabs the jade amulet pieces from Miles then transports himself on top of a nearby tower. Once on the top of the tower Lo-Peng summons ghostly warriors then opens a magical portal and jumps in! While finishing off Lo-Peng’s ghostly warrior minions Mike rescues Eddie. Tommy climbs up the tower the dives into the magical portal after Lo-Peng! Quickly the others dive in after the immortal wizard and the kid thief.

Nor Iron Bars A Cage

When the swirling lights fade the members of the Corp find themselves in a large domed chamber. In the center of the room is a jade sarcophagus that is being watched by four wooden warrior statues. Around the room is a river of mercury with several small bridges crossing it at various points. Lo-Peng is floating towards the center of the room and gloating that soon his immortality will be restored and nothing will be able to stop him! As soon as the Corp members regain their senses they rush into action. Miles starts cutting loose with lightning bolts while Mike opens up with his Tommy Gun. Tommy rushes towards the coffin and calls his spiders. Once at the coffin Tommy finds it partially open. Inside he sees a skeleton with its wrists shackled. Resting along side he finds a jade spear. Lo-Peng then transforms into his true form, a gigantic Chinese dragon! He then starts clawing at a magical barrier which is protecting the sarcophagus. Acting fast Tommy throws the jade spear to Mike who plunges it into a glowing jade amulet which is sinking into Lo-Peng’s dragon heart. Lo-Peng lets out a terrible scream and recoils. Miles cuts loose with a deadly blast on the amulet that stuns the dragon! With a final blow from the jade spear Lo-Peng turns into mist. The mist and spear then float into the coffin where it magically seals.

While Miles examines the chamber more closely Tommy and Mike decide to return to the Great Wall to make sure Eddie is ok. Mike finds Eddie poisoned and gets him medical attention at a nearby village. Miles discovers that the entire chamber is actually an elaborate and powerful magical prison. He returns confident that Lo-Peng is now safely confined.

Session #10 – Daring Tale #6 – The Palladium Peril

In Thunder, Lightning, Or In Rain

After returning from China and the affair with the nearly immortal wizard Lo-Peng, Miles is met by his butler who presents him with a strange letter. Miles replies to the letter then a week later receives a response. The contents of this second missive prompt the wealthy magician to assemble the team. At a fancy restaurant Miles explains that there is a Greek artifact known as the Palladium that may have recently been located. This item is reported to have the power to sway the fate of nations! Miles wants it found before it falls into the hands of the Nazi’s who he believes are also on the trail of the Palladium.

In London Tommy, Mike, and Miles are at a performance of Macbeth when a contact from the British Intelligence Service meets with them. As the play begins a man with slicked back hair takes a seat next to them. He says that his name is Reginald Forsythe and that he has something important to convey regarding a matter that involves the safety of the realm. In the middle of the next sentence in the play the three witches raise their voices and stage lights flash representing mock lightning. In a flash of REAL lightning Reginald is nothing but a charred husk! Quickly exiting from stage left the team spots a blonde haired man with a black trench coat leaving the scene. Tommy races to the front of the building while Miles and Mike chase the magician backstage.

Outside the blonde haired mage is met by a black sedan which races off. After grabbing the only method of transportation the group can find, a double-decker tour bus, the group races off in pursuit. Mike takes the wheel while Tommy hangs on nearby. Miles goes to the second deck hoping to get some clear shots at the mage. While going under a bridge a group of thugs jump onto the roof of the bus! As Miles cuts loose on the men with bolts of electricity Tommy runs up to give his aid. While Mike closes ground on the sedan three motorcycles approach from the rear! Mike pulls one of his Colts and belches lead at the sedan while Tommy hits one of the back tires with a masterful knife throw. As the sedan starts to roll over Mike skids the bus into one of the cyclists sending it flying. With gas leaking from the sedan Miles starts blasting at the blonde mage who has extracted himself from the wreckage. Mike starts taking out the thugs in the sedan while smoke starts to emerge from the engine. Tommy yells to Mike telling him to dive clear seconds before the sedan erupts in a ball of flame!

New friends and old enemies await our courageous team as they continue their search for the mysterious Palladium. Don’t turn that dial or you may miss some of this gut wrenching action!

A First RPG Session Report

January 08, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings

Dwarven PriestA couple of months ago I was contacted by my cousin Paul. He wanted to have me teach his two sons, Dave and Andrew, how to play role-playing games. I was delighted to get chance to bring a second generation of gamers into the hobby. When I was very young I actually taught several advanced placement students how to play Champions. Over the years I have taken many people into the fold but it had been a while since I worked with teenagers.

The Prep

My first question was what system I would use for the session. After much thought I decided on Savage Worlds from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. To folks who know me this selection may be a surprise. Aren’t you a Hero junkie? :) I decided that Savage Worlds’ ultra-fast learning curve would be perfect. It also uses the funny sided dice and cards which add to the fun for new gamers. I used the free Wizards & Warriors material from Pinnacle as the adventure. (Here is a link to that free material.) This made things easy as they provide sample characters, figure flats, and nearly everything I would need to run the session. Another advantage to Savage Worlds is the price of entry. The Explorer’s Editions are extremely inexpensive at a $10 cover price.

Now that I had the system, adventure, and all of the characters done I started thinking about how I wanted to run the actual session. To this end I created an outline of what I would discuss. Before I started the actual adventure I wanted to discuss a bit about the hobby to give them a feel for where it has been and where it is now. I wanted to make sure this introduction was short and sweet so we could get to the fun stuff (aka the adventure). I also thought my cousin Paul might be interested as he has not gamed in many years.

The Session

When I arrived they has setup a nice table with plenty of food and snacks. To my surprise two of Dave and Andrew’s friends turned them down at the last minute. The good news was that my cousin Paul and his wife Shahrzad decided to play. This gave us a nice number of players (i.e. 4). In the long run I think having Paul in the session really helped. Having role-played in the past he could take the lead at times to show the other how things work.

I started by talking very briefly about the history of the hobby. I made sure to hit only the highlights so I could go quickly through the material. After that I went over the main companies in the market (WOTC, Paizo, White Wolf, etc) and the new indie games that are hitting the market. I ended the intro by going over some basic terms. For example, player, NPC, PC, GM, dice abbreviations, etc.

Having gone through the introduction I briefly reviewed the characters then handed them out. Paul played a necromancer and the thief. Andrew and Dave played a barbarian and an archer. Shahrzad played a dwarven priest. After giving out the PC I went over the various parts of the character sheets carefully. As I went I asked if people had questions on the various sections or on specifics on their sheets. I also highlighted various parts of the sheet and how they pertained to each characters. For example, Agility is how quick the character reacts and represents hand eye coordination. The elven archer has a very high Agility. I also intentionally asked Paul to play one of the characters with magic as they are a bit more involved than the other characters.

At this point I started the session. The opening scene involved the PC returning to a small village after saving it from a hoard of goblins. After entering the town they head towards the inn. Once entering the characters are acknowledged by the bartender. Not being sure where to start the players paused. That is when Paul took the lead and in character as the necromancer talked to the bartender about getting rooms and some food. It worked out really nice having Paul take the lead and throw out advice during the run. Often he might give the other minor advice on different things that they might do. It really helped having him play that inside angle during the session. I definitely plan to keep that in mind if I ever conduct sessions like this in the future. One really great scene happened when a small girl comes into the bar looking for help. When she became scared of the necromancer one of the other players stepped up and did a great job talking with her. I actually changed this lead from one of the junior priests in the village to a little girl to make it more approachable and really drive the PC to help. Who can resist a scared little girl who is looking for help?!? It ended up being a good change.

Initially there is a tiny mystery for the PC to figure out revolving around the little girl’s guardian, a local priest. It is up to the PC to gather clues about what might have happened to him. This worked out really well as it let the characters use some of their skills and helped ease them into the role-playing.

At this point the adventure started rolling until the first fight scene. The adventure has a great opening fight to get the players warmed up. It was against some zombies. Although it started kind of slow it quickly picked up speed. It was not a surprise when Andrew playing the barbarian started flying all over the place with his axe. Leave it to teenage boys to get into the hack-and-slash.

It ended with a climactic fight against a large skeleton and the corrupted priest. The battle was climactic and turned several times. Everyone had fun in the spotlight during this scene.

The adventure closed with the little girl asking the PC who will take care of her. The conversations were great with various players throwing out their thoughts. It allowed me to highlight how it might play out over a longer campaign where one adventure might affect the next.

Overall I consider the afternoon a resounding success. I had tons of fun and I know they did as well. Hec…that is what this amazing hobby is all about…having fun with your friends. :D