The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 2

What a roller coaster ride we had this week. I planned the next job for the PCs, intending it to be a thinker, one where they would really have to think about it rather than just attack it head on. Thought it would be good to send them up against some more organised opposition without throwing them against corporate security. Yet.

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Panther – An edgerunning solo who works for Iron Hawk. Very, very good with one-handed guns
  • Ghost – An edgerunning driver who works for Iron Hawk. New to the area and with weak English, but has a fancy katana.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.
  • Acid – An edgerunning solo working for Cold Snap, dangerous in hand to hand combat
  • Omen – An edgerunning driver who works for Cold Snap
  • Aspect – A corporate manager of some sort who edgeruns by night, also working for Cold Snap

We picked up where we left off last session, with the PCs resting and recuperating after taking some hits from the last job. Plata bought some items through Iron Hawk, which we had already rolled for and mechanically taken care of during the week, and Crossfire came to the Combat Zone every day to perform first aid on Hard Truth to ensure he would heal and his wounds wouldn’t get worse.

This is actually where the initial fun began. Hard Truth, being a paranoid man, took different routes to meet with Crossfire each day. I had him roll streetwise checks each day to navigate the Combat Zone safely, which he did most of the time, but he managed to fumble the third day’s roll hard, so I brought out the random encounter table. The first one I rolled was that he got too close to corporate security guarding someone and they would shoot at him as soon as he got close, but I felt that didn’t make much sense as corporates have very little reason to go into the Combat Zone unless they’re edgerunners (who generally don’t have their own corporate bodyguards…), so I re-rolled and got possibly the best result I could have hoped for. Hard Truth, eternally wary that the Man was after him, started being tailed. He took alleyways towards his location, to see if this man who was shadowing him would follow through alleyways and he did; Hard Truth was being stalked! Hard Truth hid in an alley, pulling out his gun and holding it head height. The man shadowing him fumbled his awareness check and walked straight into the barrel of Hard Truth’s handgun. Hard Truth pulled the trigger, instantly killing the man following him. As he searched the man, he found a few eurobucks, a gun with some magazines, a wallet and two badges. One was his SIN card, the other was his detective badge. Clearly, the Man had sent this one to chase Hard Truth, when in reality he was wrongly following Hard Truth and was trying to locate a drug dealer who had gotten a corporate executive’s child hooked on drugs.

After this, Hard Truth approached Iron Hawk for information about this man and, being an information broker, she found the information and sold it to Hard Truth at a discounted rate, as he is one of her edgerunners, only charging him 750eb for the information. Hard Truth took photos and then burned the documents, as Hard Truth gave the information in document form to avoid an online paper trail. However, at the same time, Plata learned of the murder of the detective from his colleagues, but didn’t know Hard Truth was the one who was responsible, so he started to look into it himself. He looked around, not finding any evidence, so he approached Iron Hawk for information as well. She was hesitant to give it, as she knew it was one of her own edgerunners who had committed the murder, but promises from Plata of an in with the city police force and a persuasion crit of 26 (the DC was 25 because she’s very hard to persuade) meant that she said she would deliver the information, but told Plata that no one could know where the information came from and that she would deliver it to his place of residence in document form.

So, after all of this, the PCs finally got their job. They were to disrupt a deal between the Jackals and Cold Snap, who was selling sex workers. They were also instructed to bring the sex workers and the Jackals’ payment (as it would be in cash) back to Iron Hawk as well, as Iron Hawk was still looking to profit from the run. Plata hung back to hire on some additional firepower, the party choosing to hire a solo named Panther and a runner named Ghost, both fairly pricey, but also fairly skilled. It was amusing to me, as they hired one of the beefiest NPCs at Iron Hawk’s disposal and the weediest, with Panther coming in with Body Type 8 (strong) and Ghost coming in with Body Type 3 (weak).

Crossfire and Hard Truth went to find some information, approaching a prostitute in the general area of the deal and asking for information while visibly counting a few hundred eurobucks. She didn’t know the answers to their question, however I gave her a cool save to see what she would do… and she failed. So she lied. She told the PCs what they wanted to know and, as a class (yes, it is a class in cp2020) that relies on empathy skills, was quite good at lying to the PCs, so they went away believing they had the correct information. The bogus arms deal the prostitute told them about was later confirmed to be bogus information by Iron Hawk, as Crossfire sent it over to her as something of interest, and eventually Plata had to go undercover as a Jackal to find the real information, being a very good cop by mugging someone in the Combat Zone to ingratiate himself to a group of Jackals.

With information in hand and scouting performed, the group felt confident in their preparation and stormed in, with the exception of Hard Truth who had to loop back around after being spotted by one of the people at the trade. They went forward, trying to shoot the driver in one of the vans and shooting the tires. Panther destroyed both front tires on the van in the alley and put a large hole in the engine block, but was then shot at by Acid, a solo hired by Cold Snap to oversee the deal, who got lucky and hit Panther in the left arm and left leg, which were the parts that were out of cover, causing him a large number of wounds. Ghost channeled her inner Assassins Creed and climbed up the building, disappearing from sight for the time being while the rest of the group pushed in. Aspect, the corporate who was there to negotiate the trade for Cold Snap, grabbed one of the sex workers and threatened the player characters that if they didn’t back off she would execute one. The player characters continued pushing in, Plata trying to intimidate her to make her give pause, however Acid intimidated her more and she kept to her threat, shooting the prostitute in the back of the head. By this point, the remaining three were loaded into the van that the Jackals had brought, Acid intimidating the Jackals to let them take the van and rolling a 29 on his skill check. The driver, Omen, then rolled a 35 on his driving check and smashed through the pseudo-blockade presented by the original, disabled minivan that Crossfire and Panther was taking cover behind. Crossfire managed to dodge out of the way, but Panther was not so lucky, taking 3d10 damage, putting him deep into mortal wounds. Crossfire tried to stabilise him, but with his low tech stat and not great first aid skill was unable to hit the rather challenging DC to stabilise Panther.

Hard Truth also slowly made his way back around to the fight, trying to shoot out the tires of the minivan as it sped past, but was unable to hit it due to its speed. Ghost dropped from the rooftop and onto the Jackal who was running away with the money, killing him with her katana before getting shot by another ganger, failing her stun save (as her body type stat was a paltry 3) which kept happening over and over, as every turn a single attack would get through her armour and cause a single wound, triggering another stun save.

In the meantime, Plata had jumped onto the back of the speeding minivan, grabbing onto the doors and trying to rip them open. However, Acid noticed this and maneuvered to the back of the van, opening the door and stabbing Plata twice with his combat knife, causing Plata to go into mortal wounds. Stun saves and death saves were rolled, but Plata failed them, causing him to be clinically dead. Crossfire heard this and ran over, activating Plata’s healthcare plan by manually snapping the card (as he didn’t have an automatic biomonitor that could trigger it and went down before he could manually do it himself, before rushing back to Panther. When he got back, he discovered that Hard Truth had taken a nasty hit to the leg, the bullet going straight through the knee and rendering the leg inoperable (limb loss is a bitch), but Hard Truth was not quite on death’s door yet, having passed the initial death save for the limb loss, but not quite being in mortal wounds. Ghost managed to have a turn where no attack got through her armour and she promptly walked up to the two gangers near her, decapitating one and severing the other one’s leg, killing both. Crossfire picked up Hard Truth and carried him on his back, before performing a feat of strength to also pick up Panther’s now dead body, calling over for Ghost to get the car. She ran back to her car, unlocking it and power sliding into the alley, allowing Crossfire to load Hard Truth and the body of Panther into the back of the pristine car. She drove them to a ripperdoc known as Bonesaw, who also worked for Iron Hawk, who tried to resuscitate Panther but to no avail; Panther was permanently dead. On the other side, a MediCare team dropped into the street and recovered Plata, successfully resuscitating him with the help of their field ambulance and driving him off.

Crossfire reported to Iron Hawk, who docked their pay for failing to retrieve the sex workers, but then used his own pay to facilitate Plata’s medical costs and Hard Truth came to an arrangement with Bonesaw to replace his leg with the new one. The last thing that happened was as Ghost gave Crossfire a ride home, she was stopped at the gate due to her katana not being a “self-defense” weapon and was therefore illegal. She got on the phone, having a brief conversation in Japanese, before handing the phone over to the policeman who was causing the issues and after a brief phone conversation he waved them through.


This session was looooooooooooooooooong. Literally 7 hours long. There were interesting shenanigans and there’s likely going to be some conflict within the group as Hard Truth killed a detective, which Plata is going to learn about once he leaves hospital as the documents will be waiting for him, telling him exactly who murdered the detective…

I enjoyed the session, though I was a little disappointed with the direct, sledgehammer approach to this job. The players were told that there would be multiple parties here and one of those parties would be a rival edgerunning team. Really what they needed to do was turn the Jackals and the rival edgerunners against each other, and then mop up the survivors, or plant seeds of doubt in the Jackals’ minds and then side with them against the edgerunners. Taking the sledgehammer approach was far from optimal and I feel like they paid for it, making no net profit from this run and losing access to the stronger hire-able solo under Iron Hawk’s influence. I’m hoping that in the future they take the threat of rival edgerunner teams a bit more seriously, as Acid, the solo in the rival team, seriously messed the PCs’ team up.

I’m unsure what I will be planning for the next session. I believe it may be the last Cyberpunk 2020 one for now, as my fourth player is back for the week after next so we will be returning to D&D 5e as that game has priority, but I will see about having this as a regular game as well, but will need to check availability with my players. I’m perfectly happy to run two games per week (as I love doing it), but I will see what my players can do too.

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 1

As promised in my last post I ran Cyberpunk 2020 last week, and will at least for the next few weeks due to player absence in my 5e game as working night shifts suck (I feel for you, my dear player). This was the first session of Cyberpunk 2020 with this group, though everyone was at least partially familiar with the system, having played it before. I will start by introducing the PCs:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And the important NPCs who came up this session:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So the PCs were told to meet Iron Hawk in the Combat Zone at a bar within Syndicate territory (who are one of the major gangs of the Combat Zone who operate more like an organised crime outfit) where she would give them the details for their first job. Hard Truth got their first, scoping the place out to make sure The Man wasn’t watching, before making his way inside and taking a seat at a very visible table that had all the entrances and exits in sight. Iron Hawk arrived second, with Plata and Crossfire arriving in quick succession shortly afterwards. Plata immediately shouted over to Hard Truth, asking if he had any drugs and if he was still hooked, to which Hard Truth replied he was over it.

The job details were given, a relatively simple smash and grab. Iron Hawk had an arms shipment coming into the Combat Zone that got hijacked and she wanted it back. She would pay the party 3000eb (eurobucks, the currency in cp2020) to retrieve it and sent them on their way, telling them it was hijacked south of one of the gates into the Combat Zone.

Plata made his way to talk to the police at the gate, which went well as he flashed his cop badge and rolled pretty well on his Authority skill check (the cop’s special ability) to gain information that the cops at the checkpoint had. He got some details as to where it was taken, as well as the plates and information that the hit was not a gang hit, but a more professional hit, implying another group of edgerunners had taken the van. Meanwhile, Hard Truth, being tailed by Crossfire, headed to the nearest bar located near the site of the hijacking. He looked for someone drunk and fumbled his awareness roll, so he found a drunkard… an aggressive drunk. He tried to butter the drunk up while attempting to pick his pocket, trying to steal his money so he could buy the drunk a drink, as he had no money himself, but then fumbled his pick pocket roll as well. A fight broke out between Hard Truth and this aggressive ganger who punched him in the leg (he was drunk and hit locations are amusing), then pushed him over when he failed his stun save. Crossfire ran in to help and grabbed the drunkard after he managed to stomp on the prone Hard Truth, once again hitting the same leg, but another ganger entered the fight, shoving Crossfire and telling him that it was between the two others. Crossfire’s attempts to pass it off that he was Hard Truth’s grandfather failed miserably, but then Hard Truth put on an impressive performance of pretending to be a prostitute, with Crossfire as his pimp, managing to crit the roll. The fight broke up after Crossfire threw the drunkard to the ground, who failed his stun save and was stunned and the bartender told them to get the hell out of there.

Afterwards, they approached a prostitute, paying her money to tell her what she saw on the night the minivan was taken. Shortly after, the PCs met to corroborate facts and eventually called Iron Hawk with the details, who told them it was likely the work of another fixer by the name of Cold Snap. Cold Snap had hired edgerunners to hijack the cargo and had sold it on to a group of junkies in Madhouse territory. She gave them the address and they headed to the location.

Once they arrived, Hard Truth managed to pick the lock on the back door and Crossfire snuck in to stealth kill a dealer who was looking around in the pantry of the house. He then continued upstairs, where he heard music, and proceeded to stealth kill a junkie and shoot another before being found out by the screams of the junkie who survived. The group was quickly swarmed by Madhouse gangers wielding knives and some poor quality firearms. In a feat of Neo-like dodging, both Hard Truth and Plata got caught in a spray of full auto fire from a sten gun wielding ganger. They both fumbled their dodge rolls, but both used a re-roll and both spectacularly crit their rolls, avoiding all of the shots. Plata took down multiple gangers with his .45 automatic and Crossfire fended off more in melee combat, dodging a lot of attacks by a hair’s breadth a lot of the time. Hard Truth fell prey to failed stun saves again, getting shot in the same leg that he had been hit in before, which by this point was getting rather amusing, but eventually the group managed to overcome the gangers. They tried to intimidate the last one down, but he was too out of his mind on drugs to be reasoned with and stabbed Hard Truth (as he was the closest one, but was quickly brought down by Plata.

Top Floor

It got scary at times, but the PCs eventually triumphed against the crazed, drugged up gangers!

 

The group then searched the house, finding the minivan and the full arms shipment, before driving it back to Iron Hawk and getting paid. Battered, bruised and, in Hard Truth’s case, limping a bit from repeated leg abuse, the party went their separate ways to rest, recover and await their next job opportunity.


I really enjoyed running this session and I loved how… dysfunctional the group is. Plata is very aggressive and is constantly berating his team, Hard Truth is a paranoid mess and Crossfire is an old man. It’s great. 10/10, would GM for again. And that I will, as next week will be another Cyberpunk 2020 session again. Need to work out what’s going on for next time, but I’m looking forward to it a lot.

I am definitely more of a natural sci-fi GM than I am a fantasy one. Not saying I don’t enjoy 5e (as I also love that with this group), but sci-fi definitely comes more naturally to me. I think I make better plots and more interesting NPCs in sci-fi games.

I look forward to seeing what unfolds next session!

The adventures of a D&D 5e GM and her players, part 3

Apologies for the late entry, but there’s a reason that I will go into at the end. Regardless, back to our regularly scheduled chaos, despite being a man down; this week’s session was actually short and simple. The PCs were moving from Jahkiir, the small town they were incarcerated in last session, into the city-state of Logran to complete their given job. The players had done their purchases and were ready to move. We were down one player, so it’s useful that it was a shorter session as my absent player really didn’t miss much.

As a reminder, the group comprises of:

  • Joey “Gruzark” Smith – Half-orc barbarian (berserker)
  • Ownka Bronson – Half orc bard (college of lore)
  • Hank – Human ranger (beastmaster)
  • Andarius Rhyn – Half elf druid (circle of the moon)

So the players left the safety of the town and elected to travel off road, as there was a war going on and they didn’t want to walk into any foot patrols, considering most of the group is non-human and the other city states can be… xenophobic. So they made their way along the lake, heading towards where the main road forked in two different directions. So I thought “hey, why don’t I use the random encounter tables?” and rolled some dice. I rolled two that would make sense:

The first encounter was the PCs coming across a severed hand in a bloody net. That’s all the book said, so I thought I’d inject something extra into it. The PCs were cautious, examining the area and ensuring it was not a trap, however when they finally decided to grab the net, Joey just walked straight up to it and carried it away from the shore. They found a silver ring with what was identified as “not-quite-celestial” engravings on the inside, though nobody could tell if it was magical or not. As they made their way away from the short, the ground shifted slightly as some sort of undead humanoids clawed their way out from beneath the earth and attacked the players. The party fought the undead humanoids off, a few of them almost falling prey to their paralysing claw attacks, and hurried away. It was later mused that this could’ve been a trap and that they should stay alert moving forward.

In staying alert, however, it appeared that the PCs weren’t being very quiet and wandered too close to a nest of giant toads, who attacked them as they were hungry (and the PCs looked like a tasty meal). This time, the combat was a bit harder and Fiona, Hank’s wolf, was knocked unconscious, failing a death save before the PCs managed to carve her out of the belly of a dead giant toad that had swallowed her. Even Joey was eventually swallowed, after failing to break free of the grapple despite having advantage on the skill check. It was hit or miss for parts of the battle, but eventually the PCs managed to kill off the giant toads. Joey took some meat from one of the giant toads (and rolled rather poorly on his survival check to do so…) which led to him taking some additional poison damage and throwing up all over the place when the party took a short rest when he tried cooking and eating it.

The party continued their journey to the crossroads and eventually came across a small town… which is where we ended the session.


Yes, yes, I know it was a short and kind of simple, but I didn’t want to go into the town without all four players. There are… reasons for this. I don’t like players missing important stuff, and important stuff is coming. The PCs being in jail for 3 months has escalated things a little and stuff is happening. More on this next session!

Anyway, the reason why I was a bit late with this is because with one player working night shifts for the next month, I am moving to run Cyberpunk 2020 with the remaining three players in the interim. Once I have a better job with better hours, I will end up running both games in parallel, once a week each, however that is just impossible at the moment because I work silly hours. Therefore I have been spending a lot of time this week preparing that game, making the generic NPC tokens, thinking up the plot and writing up the lore and houserules / homebrew content for my players.

I will be doing the same with the other game as I have been doing with this one, so expect some Cyberpunk 2020 write ups in the coming few weeks!

The adventures of a D&D 5e GM and her players, part 2

It has certainly been a while between part 1 and part 2. It wasn’t meant to be this way; in general we are a weekly session, but scheduling and real life commitments left us without a session for three weeks, as I will not run with half of the group missing (especially considering what the players were going into).

As a reminder, the group comprises of:

  • Joey “Gruzark” Smith – Half-orc barbarian (berserker)
  • Ownka Bronson – Half orc bard (college of lore)
  • Hank – Human ranger (beastmaster)
  • Andarius Rhyn – Half elf druid (circle of the moon)

And important NPCs that popped up this session were:

  • Hemerith Niltherin – Wood elf scout captain (rogue, scout)
  • [Name not revealed] – wood elf druid (circle of the land)
  • Izran al-Shaziin – Trade Prince of Mahraz (custom)
  • Izran’s bodyguard – Human fighter (specialisation not revealed)
  • Izran’s bodyguard – (brown haired) Wood elf (class and specialisation not revealed)
  • Izran’s bodyguard – (red haired) Imperial elf sorcerer (specialisation not revealed)

We picked up where we left off last session. The town mayor was dead, as well as his cultists. Three town guards were also dead with the last one knocked out by Joey. The flying demon’s corpse had disappeared and the other, larger demon had escaped after knocking Joey and Hank out and killing Fiona, Hank’s wolf.

With time quickly running out, the first thing that happened was the departure of the wood elves. Enemies of the state already, they knew they would be executed on the spot, as there was no immediate, solid evidence to prove that the mayor was a demon cultist. They quickly conversed in hushed tones and then darted out. The druid wild shaped into a house cat and left through a window, while the scout captain used his speed to make some distance between himself and any nearby guards, before using his skill in stealth to make his escape. With the wood elves out of the picture, I waited to see what the PCs would do. Andarius searched the mayor’s body for evidence while Ownka tried to rouse the unconscious guard. Due to the time sensitive nature (the town guard were coming!) I  made them roll skill checks; Andarius rolled investigation and Ownka rolled medicine. Andarius rolled a 6 and Ownka rolled a 3, so they were unable to both find the evidence or rouse the guard quickly, which was a shame because the mayor had a separate arcane focus to his tome, that had turned to ash upon his death, which was clearly a demonic focus.

Following this, the PCs decided the best course of action was to try to talk their way out of the situation. They made their way up the stairs, Joey carrying Fiona’s body and Andarius using one of his final spell slots to rouse the guard with a cure wounds spell. They made their way up the stairs, but their previous attempts at finding evidence and rousing the guard led to them reaching the top of the stairs as the guards made their way in. Ownka managed to talk them down from immediately trying to kill the party to merely arresting them with a persuasion roll in the twenties. With some minor resistance, the guards put the PCs in chains and led them to the prisons where they were dumped and left to their own devices.

The PCs spent their time trying to annoy the guards who wouldn’t speak to them or even acknowledge their existence. Once in the cells, the guards didn’t even care that the prisoners had slipped out of their manacles or were casting spells, at least for the first week. Essentially, the guards didn’t have the manpower to keep the PCs contained if they really wanted to leave. The sergeant was around CR 1ish and the guard NPCs themselves were CR 1/8. They had no real magical support as the town’s wizard was basically awful in combat, so if the PCs wanted to break out, they easily could have; Andarius spent his first week making frequent sorties out of his cell as a rat, as the guards didn’t seem to care about rats. However, after a week the town wizard managed to erect some anti-magic wards around the prison, disabling all magic within the perimeter. This was a strange moment in the session as I believe the PCs thought I was waiting for them to break out whereas I was actually waiting for them to just… be done with what they were doing. In the end I just asked “are you going to try and break out and is there anything notable you want to do?”

Once this was sorted, the PCs were in prison for three months, which caused universal “wait, what?” responses. The PCs were in prison for three months because the guard still believed they were demon summoners. The guards were scared out of their minds of the PCs and wanted to escalate it to the highest powers, as demon summoning is literally the worst thing to do; it’s even worse than necromancy! After about three months, the PCs were visited by a slightly rotund man, who Ownka identified as Trade Prince Izran al-Shaziin, the big boss of the Mahraz city state, as well as what appeared to be a personal bodyguard and two elves, one brunette and one redhead. They walked up to each cell to which the brown haired elf merely said “no,” or “not this one,” as she passed by each player character, before leaving. As they left, Ownka requested some more food and perhaps an opportunity to see the sun, as they had been underfed and kept in the dungeons for three whole months. He rolled well on a persuasion check, so the trade prince said he would see what he could do. Shortly after, due to a communication issue, Joey destroyed his bed. Don’t look at me, I don’t know why either!

The next day the PCs were brought out of their cells and led out to the mess hall where I was originally going to give them food, then forgot about it. Whoops. Anyway, they were led to the mess hall and sat down at a table, where the trade prince, who was revealed to be one of the chosen, proceeded to make a deal with the PCs. The PCs were not shackled or anything, and I was curious to see if the PCs would do anything stupid at this point. The reason they weren’t shackled is because the trade prince was confident that even if they were demon summoners there was nothing they could do to escape from this group, as while he wasn’t that strong in combat (built to about level 9 with no combat abilities other than “hit with sword for 1d6 damage”, the individuals accompanying him were a bit beefier (just a bit…). Regardless, the PCs were compliant and were led to the mess hall where the trade prince made a deal with the party in exchange for essentially brushing everything under the rug. The PCs asked what would stop them simply running away after they get turned loose, to which the red haired elf said that she would track them down and end their existences. Met with some skepticism, she asked the trade prince if he could afford a new bench and proceeded to disintegrate the bench next to the PCs. Now, there were two interesting things there; the lesser interesting point was that disintegrate, which the PCs failed to identify through arcana checks, is a fairly high level spell. I don’t make strong NPCs for no reason. Furthermore, after the PCs asked what would stop them from running, the trade prince, who is in charge of the entire city state, is the head of his family and one of Ahtar’s chosen champions (god of commerce), had started to speak, but the red haired elf interrupted him and cut him off.

Details were given for the assignment and the PCs learned that war had broken out between Logran and Mahraz since Khan al-Shaziin (Izran’s younger son and 2nd in line)  and his friend, a paladin who worked with the PCs in the early days named Clara Teverton, took evidence acquired by the PCs earlier in the campaign to a meeting in the continental capital and accused Logran of sabotage. The players were tasked to:

  • Kill Dennis Harding – Spymaster in Logran who was in charge of the bandit operation (so PCs wanted him dead anyway due to previous family threatening)
  • Kill Lewis Gambrill – General of one of Logran’s armies stationed near Divinity Bay, the main port town in Logran
  • Retrieve a relic of Ahtar being held in Logran’s temple district, as Logran had barred any pilgrimages to visit this holy relic, with Ahtar being the dominant religion in Mahraz.
  • Retrieve a collection of books and scrolls, which they were given a list of, from Logran’s city hall.

There is no half-way house and nothing for partial completion. Either the PCs need to complete every task, or they will be executed for the unlawful removal of a town’s government, as while the trade prince knows they didn’t summon the demons, they were still guilty of working with terrorists (the wood elves) and staging a coup.

Finally, Hank managed to revive Fiona. Since I’m using Matt Mercer’s “The Fading Spirit” resurrection mechanic, he almost failed to revive her, but used a re-roll I had granted him before to try again. Initially, a 4 was rolled, but the re-roll was an 18. Again, the PCs narrowly avoided a casualty due to the luck of the dice.


So I was conflicted on this session. I enjoyed running it, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as the last one. However, this was to be expected as last session culminated in fighting a demon cultist and the demons he summoned. It was interesting to throw in a few more subtle hints at the intrigue going on in the world, but the three month time-skip puts us closer to the central plot becoming an issue. This is a good thing as when I say issue, I more mean an issue for the PCs. Things happened in those three months while the PCs were stuck which I’m going to have to get down in detail and there are definitely big things on the horizon.

Dealing with petty bandits is now mostly behind the PCs now and I am concerned that my players don’t work as a team much. When faced by a coordinated foe, I feel like the party could be in real danger of collapsing, as shown by the CR2 encounter with the wood elf scouts on their way to the town. it scared them away when they were level 4 a few sessions back. Time will tell, but I think casualties could be coming…

Also, in terms of things that do happen, not everything is as it seems and I don’t give things away here because my players can read it (and I’m not in the habit of giving away plot for free)

The adventures of a D&D 5e GM and her players, part 1

I figured I’d try something new. Something regular. Something that I can write about each week. But what could I write about every week? Well, I run a 5e D&D game in a 100% custom setting, so let’s give that a try. I will start by introducing the player characters:

  • Andarius Rhyn – A half-elven druid from a lost noble house.
  • Ownka Bronson – A half-orc bard, performer and seeker of knowledge. Identifies more with his human side.
  • Joey “Gruzark” Smith – A half-orc barbarian who grew up as a farm boy. Identifies more with his orc side.
  • Hank – A human ranger with a slightly naive outlook on the world

So, we’re jumping into things mid campaign. Well, not in the middle as we’re still in early days, but this certainly wasn’t the first session; therefore this may be a bit of a long post. The party are level 4, pushing on level 5.

So, what happened? Essentially there has been a lot of build up to this session in the previous ones. The party came across a town that was under attack by local wood elves, which was rather uncharacteristic of them as while wood elves were usually incredibly hostile to outsiders, they never really left their forests. The wood elves retreated as the PCs arrived and the mayor asked the PCs to help him take out the wood elf leader (who had a 500gp bounty on his head for his antics). Logically, what you would imagine people would do would be to help the mayor, end the aggression, claim the bounty and ride off into the sunset. However, these are PCs; normality doesn’t apply.

Afterwards, the town blacksmith ripped off the barbarian, as most of the town worshipped the god of commerce and he identified the barbarian as an easy mark. The mayor refused to help the PCs get their money back, as he was also a worshipper of the god of commerce. This made the PCs not like him that much and so they decided to investigate the wood elves. The elves did attack again, but after the PCs killed a few, the wood elves pulled back for reasons unknown. Joey tried chasing a druid who was trying to carry the some of the wood elf dead from the town. He was peppered by covering fire from nearby wood elves, but pulled the druid back behind a wall. She turned back into her humanoid form, casting a call lightning spell to take out Joey, but not before sustaining a nasty axe wound. Joey survived by making 3 death saves and stabilising (as he was down with no one around to help him).

Hank and Andarius went to investigate at the forest’s edge and Andarius was pulled in by some sort of compulsion effect, walking into the woods somewhat blindly. They were greeted by the same wood elf druid who had dropped Joey, appearing to be an important member of her tribe, and a brief parley was had. The elves asked the PCs to help them kill the mayor and accused him of corrupting their lands and summoning demons. This meeting was interrupted by an attack by a winged demon that almost killed Hank in the ensuing combat.

The PCs went back to town, rested and proceeded to do some further investigations in the morning, but were unable to find any concrete evidence. Ownka also managed to convince a cleric in town to at least see what happens and help the party. They met again with the wood elf druid and had another discussion which was rife with hostility, but Andarius somewhat managed to keep the peace between the two sides. They still offered to help the elves, as the elves assured that were they to corner the mayor he would reveal his true colours, but they only offered their aid in the event the mayor did show his true colours. The wood elf druid and the scout captain with the 500gp bounty on his head (who turned out to be a champion of the wood elven deity) infiltrated the town and met with the PCs to confront the mayor in the town hall.

As soon as they confronted him as he was doing stock of emergency supplies in the basement of the town hall, combat immediately started as the mayor recognised the wood elves and the wood elves immediately went on the offensive. It didn’t take long for the mayor to start summoning demons, summoning the same type flying demon that had attacked and almost killed Hank the first time around, though as he summoned it he called for help from the guards, accusing the PCs of being the ones to summon the demon. The PCs made quick work of the cultists present, but the tiger that had come out of the bag of tricks as well as Fiona, Hank’s wolf, was rendered unconscious by the flying demon’s otherworldly droning. The cleric that Ownka had convinced to help was immediately killed by the demon, but the demon was made short work of when the scout captain got a heavily damaging sneak attack critical hit. As the combat became more desperate for the mayor, he enacted his final gambit and summoned a far more powerful demon which immediately went for Andarius, as Andarius was casting spells that were problematic for the mayor’s second in command.

This second demon proved too much for the party to handle, afflicting Hank with a confusion spell that rendered him useless for a large part of the fight, as well as stunning Ownka, effectively rendering him incapacitated too. It took down Joey in melee combat after focusing its attacks against the barbarian who was recklessly attacking, and forced Andarius to fall back after losing his wild shape form. However, around this time it seemed that the mayor lost control over the demon and so it turned to escape the battle, anticipating it would eventually fall if it stayed. It brought Joey down and auto-critted with its last attack as Joey went down, causing two failed death saves. It then dropped the barbarian, used a fly spell and flew for the door, bringing Hank and Fiona down on its rampage out. Hank and Fiona both failed their first death saves as the wood elf druid healed Joey to get him back in the fight (after he passed his first death save, where a fail would’ve caused Joey’s death. The druid then brought Hank back up with a healing word as she dispatched guard reinforcements one by one with her quarterstaff under effect of shillelagh.

However, it finally happened. After failing her first death save, Fiona then got a 1 for her next death save, causing two extra fails and actually killing her off. Once the demon escaped, the party managed to kill off the mayor as the scout captain had constantly hounded him with Andarius getting the final hit with an ice knife spell.

As the mayor fell, the last guard went down to Joey’s non-lethal strike and the session ended. The PCs all reached level 5 and next session we pick up where we left off, with the party battered and bruised and in the middle of a potentially very hostile town.

Aftermath of mayor battle

The aftermath of the fight. Everyone is rather worse for wear, but that’s a lot of dead things!

But what happened to the demon that escaped? As it was summoned by other means it has not disappeared with the death of the summoner, so who knows what will happen next…


I really enjoyed GMing this session for my players. I had always planned in that the mayor was a demon summoning cultist who had managed to gain a position of power within a town and I’m hoping that this causes my players to realise that their enemies can be very sneaky without making them paranoid of every mayor they meet. I was also happy to finally start incorporating the general plot of the game into the narrative and start introducing it to the PCs, as this is their first encounter with demons in this campaign. There will be more encounters with demons to come, but now the PCs know that they are out there, especially as the strong one escaped the fight to terrorise people another day.

It was a long session, going from around 8pm to 3:30am for a grand total of about 7.5 hours, but it was worth it. None of us needed to go to work the next day (at least not in the morning) and I feel like everyone enjoyed it, despite this side quest being very dangerous and actually causing the first death in the party (Fiona, Hank’s animal companion).

Also, I appreciate this was a bit of a longer post, but I basically had to condense multiple sessions into this one to recap what had happened or “the PCs did some investigating, then attacked the mayor” would’ve seemed a little bit out of place. Next week will be a shorter post as I will only have to go over the one session!

Feeling deflated (somewhat)

Well, that was unexpected. I was really looking forward to running my session this week; my maps were made, my encounters weren’t too deadly as my PCs are still fledgling adventurers that I don’t want to kill with my creative boss encounters. I planned for a bit of moral ambiguity, which amusingly took me to a conclusion I didn’t think my players would take, and was super pumped to run the session. Everything was in place. Everything was wonderful.

There were obviously good points. There was some good tension between the players when I faced them with a moral dilemma concerning some captive aliens. I was honestly not expecting one of the players to free the Nurian captive and give her a vacc suit so she could escape the facility and survive on the surface of the toxic planet. The player who decided to try and uncover the planet’s history from the primitive patterns on the wall was another fun aspect, as I got to explain some of the lore behind this specific planet they found themselves on.

However, if everything was great I wouldn’t be feeling so down.

My players are not ideally suited for sticking together. I don’t want to railroad, but by this point it is starting to look like I may need to step in and provide some looming threat to keep the group together. The out of character tension was unfortunately thick this session, with players getting in each other’s way, causing more conflicts to spark up. While some of these in character conflicts are great and I love the crew dynamic at times, some of them seem to bubble over a bit too far and get uncomfortable.

One of the players also hated the more dungeon crawly aspect of the job. There were a series of caves the players had to go through and the enemies continuously failed their morale checks (as they were really crappy, but numerous. They were meant to swarm the PCs, but kept failing morale checks and ran away). I can agree that this dragged on a little, which is why at the end I just stopped doing morale checks and just made them fight to the death. The sole reason I kept the NPCs as these small pack animals was because I don’t like killing off players, unless they deserve it, that is, and that meant their morale score was utter garbage. I will be upping the difficulty now that my players have mostly hit level 3 and will be catapulting my players into the conflicts plaguing the universe a bit more. I can appreciate feedback, in fact I love it. I need it. As a writer, I need good feedback and the same is said for GMing, however after the level of planning I put in this week it has left me a little bit deflated. Also, only one of the PCs actually examined the walls in any detail, though was let down half way through by poor rolls. I had a lot of planetary history planned and no one even tried to find more out about it, but still decided the adventure was boring.

I was going to have the PCs stalked on their way back from these caves and subsequent facility they had to go into to help this trainee psychic complete his trials, hounded by Eridak hunting parties who remained on the planet surface after the war with the primitive natives and the aliens who lived on the surface before it was turned into a toxic wasteland. However, by this point I just wanted it to end. The energy of the group was depleted and I had already grasped that there was both negativity and tension running high since mid-session. I didn’t want to continue by this stage; quite the opposite to the start of the session.

I’m going to keep soldiering on for now. I will take the feedback to heart, but I’m certainly not doing any planning tomorrow. I just don’t feel like it. Maybe I’ll play some World of Warcraft, or maybe I’ll write some fiction. It’s my 2nd day off of the week, so I’d better make it a good one!

Also, it’s 3am in the UK. I think I should go to sleep…

The Meta

I think the thing that really irritates me about teacher training is the conformity. “As a teacher, you are always on show. As such, you have to be a professional both inside the classroom and out,” was something that we were told near the start of the PGCE, along with “make sure your online presence is totally professional and private because parents and students alike will Google search your name.” Now, I understand that to a point; after all, no one wants to have a teacher who goes out on a bender every weekend and passes out in the gutter, or has a public Facebook profile covered in photos from that hedonistic holiday to Marbella.

However, like all things to do with this course, it goes to the extreme. I’m the kind of person who prizes my individuality. I love being me; one hundred percent pure, unadulterated me. I like my (cyber)gothic style, I like my strangely coloured and/or designed contact lenses, I like my (limited due to hereditary hair volume. Women who complain about having too much hair should really consider themselves lucky…) out-there hairstyles. What I don’t like is having to slot into what I am going to call the “teacher meta” where you have to be as generic as possible so you don’t scare parents into thinking you’re incompetent and unprofessional. To eternally present this image of the perfect role model. I’m never going to be the one to go out partying and get drunk and act like a buffoon, but really? My individuality makes me unprofessional? Specifically, my individuality in my own free time makes me unprofessional? My individuality makes me a bad role model? I have a younger sibling, and this is the last thing I would want them to see. Not me being an individual, but the idea of individuality being seen in a negative light. As a budding fantasy/science fiction author, I know dystopias, and this is really starting to feel like I’m living in a dystopian society.

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Okay, rant over. I have come up with a new revelation this week. That revelation is that dice hate me. Last weekend, I managed to roll a double 1 in Stars Without Number, used a psychic power to re-roll and… rolled another pair of 1s. Double snake eyes? Really? Not only that, but on the Sunday, despite having ludicrous numbers amounts of talents and skills and stats that make my Imperial Envoy a social god (and utterly incompetent at just about everything else), an NPC managed to charm my character by rolling incredibly well against my utterly atrocious dice rolling, which basically made my character appear useless. For most of that session, nobody came to my character for anything. At all. Even when we had a diplomatic situation later on, the intelligence officer took it and nobody thought to contact the actual diplomat. What am I even around for? It was a rough weekend for roleplaying, but at least I manage to perform well in pathfinder, though as a sorcerer I don’t really have to roll to hit or anything like that; most of my spells auto-hit with enemies having to make saves to avoid damage, thus removing my utterly terrible dice luck from the equation.

I’ve also gone back to SWTOR, but as a totally new character so nobody in the galactic starfighter community knows who I am (apart from one guy that I told who is very nice and shares my views on both gunships and overly-competitive pilots). It’s great being the new player; there are no expectations to do well, no victimisation where half the team comes after you. It’s liberating and, dare I say it, fun. I’ve also been playing a lot of VoidExpanse recently as well. On hardcore mode. Permadeath is very worrying, but the way the game is designed it wouldn’t be too harsh if I were to lose and have to start again. I’m playing a trader type, so a lot of my XP comes from buying resources on the cheap, then flying them elsewhere and selling them for large profits. The XP gains for this are pretty decent and it doesn’t take too long as you can just autopilot and minimise; most of the time it doesn’t bite you in the backside. Come to think of it, I’ve been in a real “space” mood. Space is pretty cool though… I wish I had the time to work on my science fiction…

And finally, one month later…

I get my ass into gear and write another of these. Apologies for my disappearing act (sort of), the world decided that it was an opportune time to crumble around me (sort of). Got way too close for comfort to failing my teacher training, which would be a wonderful way to render my entire year as defunct. Nevertheless, things have settled and I am writing once again; and what a better time to do so than the week including International Women’s Day!

So, what’s new? Well, I think the largest thing is that I am seriously considering (translation: I am going ahead with it and hoping it works out) is a Masters in journalism. It’s what I actually want to do with my life, so why wait any longer? I’m finally in a position to follow what I actually want to do, so it’s time to put together the most kick-ass application I’ve ever done. It’s not a question of want by this point, I think it’s more a question of need. I’ve had 8 years now of doing the wrong thing, and then trying to repair the damage and gain some ground back. I finally feel like I am able to push forwards, and forwards I shall go!

In other news, I became a demon. No, not literally, but yes I am making a Metal Gear Solid reference. My Cyberpunk 2020 campaign has ended with a pretty intense finale that saw one PC die in a fiery explosion, one got tranquilised and forgotten about (the player wasn’t there and the GM wasn’t about to kill off a PC whilst the player was absent), one ran away, avoiding more close calls than I have fingers, and one… was me. Our party got caught by two corporations working together who wanted our VIP. Whilst everyone was arguing, I slipped away unnoticed (after critting an earlier disguise roll; I went from clean and corporate to Mad Max Fury Road). Two corporate teams showed up and attacked, so I hid in a dumpster and contacted my own corporate overlords and requested an extraction for myself and the VIP. Whilst everyone was fighting, my corporation sent in a clean up crew of 4 cyberninjas and extracted me. The cyberninjas cleaned up, as they were supposed to, grabbed the VIP and then we all flew away in the helicopter that they came in on. So yeah, I betrayed the party; I became the monster that I feared rather than breaking character. The guy who had all the near misses got out okay, as the journalist who wanted the story and helped us get across country was killed in the firefight, leaving this guy’s character (a media who also wanted the story), to write it and become a big time journalist. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that my character “won” the game, as she was deployed to a top secret facility in Switzerland to train corporate spec ops, her family were moved to a corporate-owned resort, which was both luxurious and secure, and she joined the corporate hall of fame where only like… 14 people knew of her achievements. As a covert operative, she would have it no other way! Oh, there was also the 500k advance payment. We’re going to be playing a Star Wars game now on Sundays, but we’re Imperial and limited to only humans. I am distraught by the prospect of being human in a Star Wars setting; I want to be a Chiss! Or a Mirialan. Or a Miraluka. Or a Twi’lek. Not a boring ol’ human.

I also had my first totally improv RP moment. So, my character in the Pathfinder game I’m in is very good at lying. She’s an elven courtesan with a serpentine bloodline that gives her magic and she learned that a trade prince was in the city, staying in the keep as a guest to the regent. Naturally, she decided to lie her way into the palace to go see this trade prince. Why? I have no idea. I did it because I could. Do I need a reason? Not really. Plus the GM wasn’t prepared for it, so he was on 100% improv as well. I had no reason to be there, but I did manage to get on the trade prince’s good side. Win-win.

On the topic of winning, I’m considering dusting off my Eldar collection and getting down to the local wargaming club. I don’t know why, but I’ve just had that urge recently; however, I am unsure whether I will as I don’t want to buy any more 40k models, but at the same time it’s hard to play Eldar as a “middle of the road” army. Either they are incredibly good, or they’re incredibly dead. I’ve been toying with the idea of an Imperium army with a central core of Militarum Tempestus and an Inquisitor. If they weren’t so ludicrously priced, I’d also put in some Sisters and have an old-school Witch Hunters style army, but those Sisters models are incredibly expensive! I think the main factor against me playing any more 40k is GW’s business model. Good job guys…

Another part of the past month (that’s why this is turning into a huge post. A lot can happen in a month…) saw me finally getting a Nintendo DS with Fire Emblem (Awakening. Fates isn’t out in Europe yet…), Monster Hunter 4 and Final Fantasy Explorers. Of the three games, I’d say Fire Emblem has been the most addictive; I love Fire Emblem so much. I’ve completed it on normal difficulty in newcomer mode, but I am now playing through it on hard difficulty in classic mode. Permadeath is scary, especially with critical hits flying about. I think I’ve managed to stave that off via level grinding the DLC, but those first few missions were far too tense; nothing hurts quite like losing a unit to a 3% chance crit…

Another gaming part of the last few weeks has been the release of The Division. Whilst I haven’t had too much time to play it as of yet, due to being incredibly busy with the whole not-failing-my-teacher-training business, but I do plan on playing a whole lot more and writing a more in-depth review of it. What can I say about it now though? Two hours in and I absolutely love it. It reminds me of the fun times I had in Defiance (which I have also been tempted to return to, but won’t with casual SWTOR starfighter and RP, The Division and TF2 taking up my gaming time. Being an adult sucks; I don’t have limitless time to spend gaming and writing about it!

I guess I should really finish this post before it gets too-… Where did these 1100 words come from?! Well, I’ll end it here by saying that I wrote another thing for my university’s paper. Go look at how I talk politics without actually stating my own beliefs.

This is my link. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Never talk about politics on the internet. That’s one of the more well-known rules of the internet!

Why do I hate Space Marines?

I wrote an article earlier about the Blood Angels vs. Tyranids box set, Shield of Baal – Deathstorm, and felt that I was perhaps a little too harsh on Space Marines without some sort of justification. Let me start by saying that I don’t hate Space Marines. Hate is a rather strong word and I feel that it does not accurately describe my feelings towards the pre-pubescent superhuman warriors defending mankind in the 41st millennium. For example, I do have my own chapter that I will be expanding on the table at some point in the future, but equally they will never be a primary army for me.

Firstly, they’re physically and mentally superhuman as well as being equipped with (almost) the best that humanity has to offer. There is no internal conflict, they are completely set in their devotion to the Emperor as a father figure, stalwart protectors of mankind and they go to battle prepared for everything. To me, this all just sounds like a recipe for boring. If I wanted to collect genetically engineered killing machines whose sole purpose is to fight for a cause, I’d surrender myself to the Hive Mind and collect Tyranids. I like my armies to have character. I like there to be models across the table that I can point to and talk about their out-of-combat exploits. I like there to be a person behind the model, if you know what I mean, not just another foot-slogging soldier. With Space Marines there is not much wiggle room; you have their early childhood, but Space Marine recruits are taken young before they develop too much, so beyond childhood exploits they do not have time to develop interesting backgrounds. When I look at the named characters in the Space Marine codex, none of them jump off the page at me; none of them strike me as particularly interesting or deep. Every single one of them just comes across as “Generic Space Marine Captain #29.” Their exploits are nothing particularly special and include nothing beyond having a good combat record. Whilst I know that this is true for most of Games Workshop’s named characters in the codices, it’s doubly reinforced by the nature of what it is to be a Space Marine.

Secondly, expanding on my first reason, Space Marines themselves are personality-lacking children with giant muscles and bulky weapons. Children are complex individuals, but with a Space Marine everything that makes a child an enigma is removed. They grow up during initiation, but… They don’t develop emotionally as a human. Sure, on the battlefield their brain works overtime and their physical body develops far beyond that of a normal human being, but deep inside, in the most human part of their brain, they are horrifically underdeveloped. Space Marines are no longer humans; they may as well be mechanical constructs. It’s something that I just do not enjoy about Space Marines as a faction.

Third, all their units are the same. If you look at a Tactical Marine, it is the same as an Assault Marine and a Devastator Marine, just with mildly different wargear. The difference is not large enough, with Devastators and Tactical Marines differing simply in heavy and special weapon compositions. Veterans are also the same, just with a few more special rules and fancy toys though their stats remain largely the same as their less experienced brethren. This, paired with their particular statistics, leads them to be a “jack of all trades, master of none” army. One thing that strikes me as odd is that Assault Squads are unable to take any special melee weapons apart from on their sergeant; even Storm Guardians have the option to take two power swords!

Fourth, and finally, it’s an all-male faction due to the nature of the implants. This just goes against my “can-do” attitude! Come on, who honestly wasn’t expecting this one?

So this is why I dislike Space Marines. I have RPed one in a Deathwatch game (Fantasy Flight’s tabletop roleplaying game) where I ended up playing a combat character because I tried to create a skill/social encounter based Space Marine and stumbled upon how OP the heavy bolter (or any fully automatic weapon) is in that system. What just intensifies the dislike is how they manage to be the most popular faction (by a long way!) in the Warhammer 40k hobby. If people want to turn around and say “well, Sisters of Battle can only be female, so it balances!” I will merely state what I said in my article about the new box set: Four factions are Space Marines alone, six if you include Grey Knights and Chaos Space Marines (though the latter has some interesting amount of diversity at least). Sisters are a single faction with miniatures made more than a decade ago and a codex with only slightly more choice than a Call of Duty campaign. It’s not the same boat, heck it’s not even the same ocean.

I just wish that Games Workshop would pay some attention to me as a non-Space Marine player… *sniffles*