Saturday, March 10, 2012

Episode 2: Mass Effect Codex Entries

Since I couldn't get a lot of the audio codex entries to work at the game table, I've linked them here so any players interested can check them out before next session. Enjoy!
Council Races: Asari, Salarian, Turian
Non-Council Races: Batarian, Geth, Krogan, Quarian
Humanity and the Systems Alliance: The state of humanity
The Citadel and Galactic Government: The Citadel, Citadel Council
Planets and Locations: 2175 Aeia
Organizations: Cerberus, Blue Suns
Technology: Biotics, A.I., V.I., Omnitool

Friday, March 9, 2012

Episode 2: Revealed

A: Turian, B: Salarian, C: Asari, D: Krogan, E: Quarian
It's Mass Effect.

We played the first of two sessions last night of the formerly a mystery, sci-fi-skinned Pathfinder game set in the Mass Effect universe. I've been tinkering with this idea for a few months now and was delighted when we settled on this week (the week of the new game's release) for the first game. Folks showed up, characters made, got the reveal on the setting, and then dug into equipping, refining characters, and finding out more about the setting.

There was a pretty major hitch there, though. One of the major reasons I wanted to run this was because I always thought the codex entries (largely voice acted encyclopedia) in the various Mass Effect games (and some other Bioware games) were a rich way to present tons of in-world information. So I was very pleased to find that the Mass Effect Wiki included a significant volume of those codex recordings. With personal computers like omitools in the Mass Effect universe, giving any major player access to that database, I figured I could turned that whole site into a giant, awesome player handout. Adding in the projector we have at the office and my laptop full of displays, schematics, terminal interfaces, crew logs, etc, we had the set up for an appropriately high-tech game. One problem. I couldn't get an internet hookup in our meeting room. So after all of this, no access to the Mass Effect Wiki. Lame.

The set-up this time around
Fortunately, I could get a connective via my iPhone, and running the codex entries for all the races and some major topics like Cerberus and biotics worked. Add additionally, since all of the players also had iPhones, I just told them to look up the codex entries on the wiki and Youtube and use their phones like the omnitools their characters' had been provided. That worked, serviceably, but ultimately the integration was not what I'd hoped for. Cest' la vie.

All that said, once we got past the preamble the technical snafu largely faded into the background. Our team of Cereberus operatives revived their cryptic mission details, landed on 2175 Aeia and set to work infiltrating the research base there, one already compromised by Blue Suns mercenaries. From there, high jinx ensued--though I have to give them credit, the team was largely more commando about things than I'd anticipated.

Captain Eiger, Human Gunslinger (James Jacobs)
* Played a human! Humans get to be captain!
* Showed off his keen piloting skills, buzzing an alien jungle and making a feather soft landing.
* Sniped a sniper through the sniperscope with his darling sniper rifle "Lana."
* Manned the laptop/computer terminal multiple times, tinkering with files, schematics, and reading hacked e-mails.
* Contributed the rules for tech, weapons, armor, future gear, etc, from his massive and awesome Unspeakable Futures post-apocolyptic Lovecraftian horror game. Couldn't have had a game without these!

One of the Station Schematics
Sathar Vrusk, Turian Monk-Zen Archer (Rob McCreary)
* Instantly memorized the entry for turians and totally threw himself into the race's personality and mindset.
* The crew gun bunny, eager to help himself to the Blue Suns' Elanus Risk Control Services Banshee assault rifle.
* Immediately picked up on and made a beeline for the industrial power loader.
* Discovering the etymology of the Venus flytrap mid-game.
* Voted most likely to mutiny.

Cerise 7, Asari Bard (Erik Mona)
* Composed the team Cerberus theme song: "Three heads, are better than one..."
* Quickly got into the detective element of the story and picked up on quite a few of the more subtle clues hidden in the data and on the bodies recovered so far.
* Uncovered or solved such mysteries of the plasticized eyeless corpses, why the mercenary "Cat Man" got his call sign. Oh, and "No one clones a fatty."
* Always kept an eye on the heirloom family length of rope.
* Totally going for a Gender Equality in Gaming Award with his portrayal of his first-ever female character.

Debates... in Spaaaace!
Gippy Consuelo, Salarian (James Sutter)
* Demolitions expert and total commando guy. In front, has a plan, and blows stuff up... even if that stuff is delicate manufacturing equipment.
* Sneaky lizard who also uses his biotic powers to punch in mercenary heads from a distance.
* Full of cagey ideas for setting off motion-detecting turrets (even if they're not there). The flashlight trick was pretty brilliant.
* The rich Latin accent is a nice touch. Makes me imagine that he's playing Rango.
* Commando lingo!

Talos, Quarian (Andrew Vallas)
* Utterly destroying nearly every hacking and tech check thrown his way. No passcode or security lock out stands in Talos's way.
* Attempting to rig the Blue Sun's dropship to remotely self destruct and Sathar's motion detector to not pick up machinery (so another innocent factory machine doesn't get firebombed).
* Figured out that the station is emitting a communications jamming screen.
* If it's been a clue and in a computer, he's found it.
* Giving tit for tat with our mouthy turian.

And the whole thing wrapped up with the PCs opening a secured door and coming face to face with a station receptionist or low tier coms officer... with no eyes!

So that was the first one. I'll put my notes for the adventure and the tons of handouts I generated for this up after the second, concluding session. I think I'll also put together a list of important links to the Mass Effect Wiki for any of my players who want to dig into a bit more with relevance to the adventure. But for now, its time to figure out when we're playing next, and to see if our lethal crew can survive the terror of the Planet of the Eyeless Receptionist!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Episode 2: The Crew

Our mystery sci-fi episode has its first session tomorrow night and our doughty crew, the pros that they are, have their race/class combos in already. Here's who's on the crewlist.

James Jacobs: Human sniper
Rob McCreary: [Mystery Race A] gun kata expert
Erik Mona: [Mystery Race C] bard
James Sutter: [Mystery Race B] sorcerer/tech
Andrew Vallas: [Mystery Race E] alchemist

There's a LOT of firepower in this crew. I think I might need to bump up a few CRs... or at least ad a few more targets.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Episode 2: Character Creation

Now that all the races are out there, it's time to make some characters. Using the basic class guidelines presented a week or so back, I'd like all the players to pick a race, spend their 3 class levels, and generate  stats using the point buy system on page 16 of the Core Rulebook. Players have 20 points to spend.

Go ahead and choose feats and skills as well--don't neglect skills like Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Ride, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device that seem like fantasy-only abilities, as with the sci-fi skin overlaying this game, these skills--respectively--will probably be things like, Knowledge (technology), Knowledge (sciences), Pilot, Tech (using tech as its meant to be used), and Improvised Mechanics (using tech as its not meant to be used). (While we're on this topic, think of Disable Device as "Hacking.")

With that, go ahead and mostly make up your characters, but don't spend any cash yet. We'll handle equipment second thing on Thursday. I'd like to have written in clay ideas of what everyone is playing by Wednesday night so I can post them here (and so I have some idea of what I'm in for). And, if you have any questions about any of this, come talk to me.

Some advice: I know a lot of you really want to have cool back stories and details for your characters so you can really get into their heads, details that are difficult to pin down when you don't even know of you have skin or feathers. In part, suck it up, adlibbing is definitely going to be a part of this game's gimmick. At the same time, look at the context clues you're getting. If you want to build a heavy hitter, use a race with a Strength bonus; if you want to build a shooter, go for an agile race; a dashing character, look at human with that heroic trait. Checking out the Advance Race Guide to translate the race descriptions' short hand will help. In general, pick a fun sci-fi concept and use your abilities, class, and race to build toward that. If you find out Thursday that your race doesn't fit perfectly with what you wanted, well, that can make for some really interesting characters (and you're only playing these characters twice, after all).

Also, try to name your character, with the understanding that there is a common language in this universe, so try for something pronounceable.

Thanks all and good luck!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Episode 2: Race #6 - [Mystery Race E]

This is it! The last player race for this Thursday's mystery sci-fi game! This is a weird one, especially as it has a few unusual traits that will also remain a mystery until Thursday's game.

Race E
   Humanoid (half-construct)                            7 RP
   Medium                                                          0 RP
Base Speed
   Normal                                                           0 RP
Ability Score Modifiers
   Specialized (–2 Con, ­ +2 Int, +2 Wis)            1 RP
   Linguist                                                          1 RP
Racial Traits 
   Defense Racial Traits
      Bond to the Land ([Classified])                  2 RP
   Feat and Skill Racial Traits
      Scavenger                                                   2 RP
   Senses Racial Traits
      Low-light vision                                         1 RP
   [Classified]                                                  –1 RP

Total                                                               13 RP

That's all the races now, and all the hints you're going to get on what universe we're playing in. But guessing games aside, now it's time to seriously start talking characters. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Episode 2: Race #5 - [Mystery Race D]

Another reptilian race, but this one's significantly less... squishy.
Race D
   Humanoid (reptilian)                                 0 RP
   Medium                                                     0 RP
Base Speed
   Slow ­–1 RP
Ability Score Modifiers
   Paragon (+4 Str, ­–2 Int, ­–2 Wis, ­–2 Cha)  1 RP
   Standard                                                     0 RP
Racial Traits
   Defense Racial Traits
      Natural armor                                          2 RP
      Desert Runner                                         2 RP
      “Race A” Immunities*                           4 RP
      Improved Natural Armor                        1 RP
   Offense Racial Traits
      Ferocity                                                  4 RP
      Relentless                                               1 RP
Total                                                            14 RP

*Same as duergar immunities

One more to go... and that's probably going to be the one that gives it away. But that's why I'm putting it up over the weekend--so you jackal's can't discuss it until Monday.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Episode 2: Race #4 - [Mystery Race C]

Now, a little something for the ladies.
Race C
   Humanoid                              0 RP
   Medium                                 0 RP
Base Speed
   Normal                                  0 RP
Ability Score Modifiers
   Flexible (+2 Int, +2 Cha)      2 RP
   Linguist                                 1 RP
Defense Racial Traits
   Stubborn                                2 RP
Racial Traits
   Feat and Skill Racial Traits
   Gregarious                             1 RP
   Integrated                              1 RP
Magical Racial Traits
   Elven Magic                          3 RP
   Envoy                                    1 RP
   Seducer                                  2 RP

Total                                        13 RP

Tomorrow, a little something not for the ladies. Unless you're into that sort of thing.