Nathanael Cole / Alliterated Games

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Actual Play

Motobushido Actual Play: The Fallen Legion

I started a new Obsidian Portal campaign to chronicle all of my current and future Motobushido sessions. These will include my home games, guest games, convention one-shots, and more. I’m kicking this off with a detailed Actual Play report of last night’s session. Check out the link, and look through the other stuff to get a taste of how the game works, and where the pages are going.

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Actual Play from the Latest Playtest Session

A player in my current test-run group has been awesome enough to post an AP run-down of our last game session. I’m really excited about this particular test run, because now we’re getting to try something totally new. Until now, the games have all been focused upon the Pack as a wandering unit, always on the go, never staying in one place for longer than a session or two. As chance would have it, this time around the Pack has a home base, and will follow a more traditional “Lord and Vassals” setup.

“There’s not so much a world or background as there is a framework on which to hang your own world/background as you create it with your group, which is awesome, and the flavour of the stories in question is quite well defined while also being open enough to tell whatever you want to tell. It’s clear from the text (and the creator) that this concept is heavily influenced by the Samurai, but with very little tweaking I can already see Arthurian hacks, Wild West hacks, The Wild One hacks… basically, if it involves a group of men and their steeds doing great and/or dastardly deeds, this would fit amazingly well.”

Read the rest of his post here.

If anyone out there is interested in running their own playtests, let me know! I’m hoping to have the external playtest document available sometime around mid-November, and those who back the Kickstarter project will have first access!

Thanks Jerome!

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Motobushido Story Time: The Price of Revenge, Part One

While at camp along a distant, broken highway, with occasional travelers passing in the night, an arrow was fired into the midst of The Burning Chrome. The Prospect was on watch at the time, but he offered no pursuit to the lone rider who sped away in the night, choosing instead to fire his six-guns into the hot night as a warning, waking the rest of the pack in the process.

Attached to the arrow was a thin capsule, inside of which was a rolled-up note which read:

Mono-shiri, fight me in Korimoto village atop the tallest building, alone, or all that you know and love will die in your stead.

A direct challenge to the Road Captain, Mono-shiri. What’s worse, it was stamped with his own family’s crest: the Moon-and-Sword of the Masahide clan, whose last other living member – his own father – he personally slew years ago. The old man deserved it, true, but his death left Mono-shiri as the sole heir to the now-dead legacy, lacking the knowledge of his family’s Itto-Ryu ultimate technique that the late patriarch took to his grave.

“Get some sleep, everyone,” he grumbled after passing the note to the Historian. “We ride for Korimoto at first light.”

The ride took the better part of four days, during which the Historian shared his own knowledge of the village. Once prized for its firestone quarry during the Rebellion, it’s fallen into decline since the quarry mostly dried up and The Cause was ultimately lost. He himself spent much of his own youth there, having fostered at the local orphanage under the guidance of his previous mentor, Masatsugu. The Tail Gunner as well recalled the village, having conducted multiple supply runs through the area while building his explosives arsenal during the War.

From such revelations, it seemed that multiple past lives were due to intersect in Korimoto.

Upon arrival, the pack encountered an impromptu road block in the form of an old stripped-down jalopy and a quartet of armed thugs demanding tribute, and insulting the pack’s bikes. Within moments of daring to shoot out one of the Road Captain’s tires, the leader of the thugs lay bleeding on the group, dispossessed of his head. His cronies scattered, the Tail Gunner exploded the jalopy and the Pack proceeded to enter the town.

While it was clear that Korimoto village had seen better times, it was equally clear that those times weren’t all that much better, truth be told. Maybe a hundred denizens spread across its two handfuls of hovels, shacks, and outlying farms. Only two buildings with a second story, one a gambling parlor and flophouse, the other the old orphanage itself – the tallest building on town, in fact. The flophouse – called The Pink Curtain was their first stop, and they soon discovered it to be much more well-off than the rest of its surroundings. Bar, flophouse, brothel, and mahjongg parlor all in one, the Pack moved in and made itself comfortable at the welcoming grace of its operator, the luxurious Madame Kasumi. Well, everyone except the Road Captain, who refused to surrender his weapons and instead ordered his drinks be served on the front porch.

While inside, the Den Mother and Historian both sat privately with the Madame, and learned of the current state of affairs in Korimoto village. A bit over a year ago, a gang calling themselves the Purple Blossoms moved into town, murdering the occupants of the orphanage and throwing the bodies into the old quarry. With the old orphanage as their new seat of power, they began to take control of the village, exerting pressure on all the locals to pay them for protection. They pushed out all competing moonshine and liquor competition except for the well-protected Pink Curtain, as well as management of the slim firestone mining operations.

Agreeing that these guys were bastards of the lowest order, the Den Mother and Historian both agreed to help out the Madame in exchange for lodging and basic provisions during their stay. Their first task is to check on a distillery a day’s ride into the northern foothills, and find out why a delivery of liquor is two days late.

Meanwhile, the Road Captain was approached by a fairly rodent-like fellow from the Purple Blossoms. This man offered the Pack and apology for the behaviour of the road sentinels earlier that day, and sought to hire the Pack on as mercenaries and trainers to the existing men of the Gang. The Road Captain declined this offer, but the man left him a calling card should minds be changed. The man and his cronies quickly bolted as bouncers from the Pink Curtain came outside to shoo them away.

During all of this time, the Prospect made nice with a “girl next door” kind of geisha, who was entranced by his Haiku skill and his respectful demeanor. Eventually making their way upstairs “behind the pink curtains,” they entered into an hour of alternating passion and conversation, after which she sobbed into his chest. She showed him fresh scars on her back from being whipped, and claimed that this brothel was abusing her and others. She begged for him to help her escape, and he made promise that he would.

The session ended with him receiving a message from the Road Captain outside, passed under the door to their room much earlier by a serving girl: “At midnight, you ride with me.”

To be continued…

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[H66] The War Pigs: Desertion, Regicide, and Survivors

Thanks to Jake Richmond, Ben Lehman, Mike Sugarbaker, and Joe Streckert for participating in the first-run playtest of Project H66, aka the Motorcycle Samurai game. Last night I got to see the First Founding and the character generation rules in action, and initial thoughts are mostly positive. Definite Success!

Initial player-established War details were wicked awesome: The war is an “undeclared foreign war” against “massive hordes of unwashed primitives.” Despite their side’s use of “rolling dreadnought tanks with massive 100+-member crews,” the war was ultimately lost, the home economy across the sea ravaged, and the soldiers were all stranded there with “nothing to go home to.” The locals are usually known by their derogative nickname, “the shitweeds.”

The First Founding featured four soldiers in a moment of crisis: The war is lost – do we follow the suicide charge orders, or do we retreat to live and fight another day? The Sergeant tried to convince everyone that this charge was their destiny, their duty as soldiers. The Recruit dissented, having a family back home, but was quickly insulted by the Sapper. This provoked the Recruit into lashing out, which spawned a vicious explosion-heavy fight between him and the Sapper. The Recruit ultimately took the Sapper’s head, but the fight was so traumatic that he then simply fell to his knees and wept as The Enemy ran him down. The Sergeant and the Veteran, meanwhile, finally agreed that this was indeed a waste of their lives, and they rode off into the night, retreating from the charge.

This resulted in their Pack’s First Founding being colored by the following three grabs: Desertion, Regicide, and Survivors. Ouch.

Character creation was next. Sarge and the Veteran remain in the pack today as Den Mother and Trail Blazer respectively, along with a new Leader (the Road Captain) and a Masked member from the local populace (The Enforcer). A nice variety of Bikes and Fighting Styles were chosen, although the group’s off-road capability is very, very limited.

Following that the players laid out the actual details of the Pack itself. Calling themselves the War Pigs, they all wear masks styled after demonic boars, which are required attire when astride their bikes. The leader’s command icon is an old bleached skull from a massive pig-monster which once almost wiped out the entire Pack. Called The Boar by the pack, each member has also secretly given it its own name that no one else knows. This skull is mounted as a standard on the leader’s chopper, and frequently adorned with trophies from fallen enemies. Attaching these trophies is called “feeding the Boar” and one of the Pack’s taboos is that the Boar must be regularly fed, or bad things happen to them. They ritually partake in copious amounts of drugs, frequently going on peyote-like spirit quests, guided by the Boar. They don’t care about hairstyles, as long as their facial hair is curled into Boar Tusks (one of them even has similar facial tattoos). Finally, they have a taboo against sleeping in the same bed twice, unless they are “on furlough.”

Their prospect-initiation ritual is rather gruesome. Upon being first allowed to ride as prospect, the newcomer must wear a mask made from an actual boar’s face, tanned and stinking. This mask must be worn until he makes his first solo kill of a marked enemy of the Pack. There was also discussion of the Prospect having to eventually stew and eat the mask, but I’m not sure if those details got hammered out and committed to Pack law.

I look forward to seeing The War Pigs in action in the coming sessions.

Post-Session Musings

The default “suicide charge” First Founding scene seems to work well enough, but I’m thinking it might not be fully apparent that committing to the charge doesn’t necessarily mean the characters are doomed to die. Believing that they are might factor into their decision.

The basic conflict mechanic worked out well, but needs some in-the-face clarification. I need to make a cheat sheet and print it on the character sheet itself, just a quick bullet list of things to consider (like the two ways in which Ki can be spent for bonus cards).

Some dragging aspects of the Pack Creation system were very immediately apparent. Sacrifices were too many, and took too long to come up with and then write down. Going forward, I’m changing it to a stripped-down, more group-inclusive process: define one sacrifice for yourself, and one each for the guys to your left and right.

There are too many initial Grabs. Revision: First Founding survivors get two free Grabs (those they inherited from the first scene). All characters get one free grab attached to each of their three Trappings (Role, Style, and Bike). The Pack as an entity itself has three Grabs as well, established at the end of the First Founding. Undecided if players can then nominate one last bonus Grab for the player next to them.

Also, the Rank bidding system is confusing and ultimately unnecessary. I’m stripping it out and replacing it with simple group discussion.

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Man, Gaming is Pretty Darn Good Right Now

I’m in something of a High Nirvana era of personal gaming enjoyment. I feel that there are more awesome gaming opportunities around me than ever before in my life. Tabletop, Video, Design, it’s a veritable cornucopia of exciting play. Let’s review!

As far as my table-topping goes, I’m in the middle of at least two games, with two more on the horizon. First is my Old School Palladium Fantasy sandbox game, which has had four gatherings so far and seems to be maintaining everyone’s excitement pretty nicely. This game is really doing a good job of reinvigorating me, both as an arbiter of events and as a creator of spontaneous content. I haven’t run this seat-of-the-pants in a long, long time, and it is quite simply titillating my gamer imagination. I go into each session with a mental picture of all the events happening in the world within a 20-mile radius of where the characters are, and as they move around, those events progress of their own accord. So far, the players have managed to hit up most of them quite nicely, and get themselves directly involved of their own volition. It’s wonderful. Read More »

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