Monday, 20 June 2011

Regent Scene 4 - Sestriere

Regent got out of the taxi in Sestriere, making sure that he hadn't been followed from the train station in Oulx. Moneypenny had booked him into an apparently decent hotel in the centre of the town, the Palace Residence.

It wasn't the snow season and Regent looked wistfully at the slopes wishing he had a chance to ski.

After a wander around town, and a delightful meal at Osteria Barabba Regent knew he needed to locate Claire and find out what had happened. While eating at the Ristorante Regent had overhead other diners mention The Grand Hotel several times. Regent decided that was the best place to start his search.

Approaching the hotel Regent saw police bikes and cars outside with several officers milling around, as Regent made to go inside one officer stopped him and began speaking in Italian. Italian was something Regent wasn't fluent in, although he knew a few words. After the officer appeared to ask him a question Regent replied, "Sorry old chap, I'm not fluent yet, I've only just arrived from Budapest, do you speak English?"
"Uno momento Signor," the officer replied before shouting, "Marcello!" Eventually a young officer approached and conversed with clearly the senior officer.
"OK Signor, what business do you have with the hotel," Marcello asked.
"Ah, I'm sorry, I'm James Thomas from the British embassy," Regent said while holding out his hand.
Marcello shook it and spoke to his senior again. "Signor Thomas, we have already been visited by the British Embassy."
"Ah yes, well I was just up the road in Oulx is it? Well anyway, I got a call from the embassy asking me to come here, to see a Claire Jackson I believe. You know just to see how she was shaping up, if we could do any more for her."
More conversation between the officers and eventually Marcello waved him through, "Sorry Signor, we have to be careful in the circumstances."
"Oh of course, I understand completely, grazie," as Regent nodded and made his way into the hotel.

Regent discovered the whereabouts of Jackson but suffered a complication. At this point I rolled on my new "Tasks chart" to find there would be two additional tasks. I decided the first task would be to talk my way through the police cordon using Bluff (a similar skill) with the appropriate complication penalty. Eventualy I managed it leading to my second task:

Reception directed Regent to the Jackson's suite on the top floor, after knocking on the door Regent was greeted by an English woman.
"Miss Claire Jackson?" Regent enquired.
"No, I'm her fathers secretary, Claire doesn't want any visitors, please go away."
As the Secretary tried to close the door Regent put his foot in to stop it. "Excuse me, but she really needs to see me."
The secretary hestiated before deciding he must have passed the police cordon and opened the door, "Come in, who are you and what do you want."
"I can't really say who I am, but I can help find Mr Jackson. Will you let me speak to Miss Jackson?"
"OK, but I'll be listening."

Here Regent tried to Influence the secretary succeeding with one success. I decided the next was another conversation as anything else at that point didn't really fit.

The secretary led Regent to a lounge suite, there looking out of the window was a statuesque woman with long blonde hair.
"Excuse me Claire, this, er, gentleman says he can help find your father."
At the secretary's voice the woman turned. Regent was surprised by the young age of the woman, no older than 22 he estimated. She put her whisky glass on a nearby table and sat down.
"I would prefer this to be private, " Regent said.
"It's OK Susan, I'm sure this gentleman means me no harm, you can leave," Claire's voice had a slow sad quality and Regent noticed she found it hard to look directly at him, it appeared she was already suffering from the effects of grief. Regent decided that truth was the best option.
"Miss Jackson, I'm from the British Government, I've been sent to find your father and put a stop to these kidnappers."
"I'm grateful, Mr ..."
"Regent, John Regent."
"I'm grateful Mr Regent, but I am not sure how I can be of assistance."
"I'm looking for details of any contacts your father may have, especially recent ones. He's not the first to be kidnapped, although he is the most high profile."
"Do these others not warrant rescue Mr Regent," snapped Claire.
"Of course Miss, but others are dealing with those. I've been specifically tasked with finding your father, and I believe you may have information that would help in that search."
"Well I can tell you that I don't, are you accusing me of being in with these kidnappers?"
Regent realised that she must have been drinking heavily, and put her belligerent mood down to the effects of alcohol.
"No, of course not, but you may know of some contact of your father's that may have any information."
Claire shook her head. Regent was getting frustrated now and stood up, as he did so he noticed a letter on the table next to the whiskey glass.
"Do you mind if I read that letter Miss Jackson?" he asked, recovering his composure.
"No, you cannot."

Here Regent lost his battle of Influence by one failure with the accomplished actress, following in her father's footsteps. Now at a disadvantage Regent needed a new tack.

"Miss Jackson, anything you have may help to save your father," after a few moments had passed, "I need to see that letter whether you let me or not. Am I making myself clear?"
"Do you need to threaten me Mr Regent?" Claire answered back, a note of steel in her voice. For once she was looking directly at him. Well at least I have her attention now, thought Regent.
"Miss Jackson I need to see that letter to save your father."
Claire stood up and turned away, allowing Regent to pass her and read the letter.

Dear Claire

I have been contacted by a group who have not revealed their name. They say they are holding your father and will only release him if certain political figures are released. Please tell me this is not true, your father has been a great bastion of our work here and to lose him would be a great blow to our children's future.

Please contact me.


Behind the letter was an apparent list written in what looked like Arabic.
"Have you shown this letter to anyone else?" Regent asked.
"No Mr Regent I haven't."
"This Ahmed, where is he?"
"He works in a children's centre, saving lives, my father helps them to raise money."
Regent realised she still wasn't thinking clearly, "I'm sorry, I asked where he was?"
The silence lingered in the room a few seconds.
"He's in Pakistan, but you'll never find him. I'll have to take you to him."

Using a bit of coercion it's success at last for Regent, and a potential love interest (in the best Bond and LTL tradition!). I've twisted the format here somewhat, getting information from a person implies they hold that information, but thinking about it I guess that was just my interpretation, which I've subverted already! Now onward to Pakistan!

Until next time


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Regent Scene 3 - Vienna

Regent stepped off the train into the cool autumn day. While on the journey Regent had managed to read all available data on Johan Ternitz it seemed he was something of a recluse so getting close to him was going to be something of a dilemma. Once he'd ariived it wasn't hard to track down where a multi-millionaire like Ternitz was, getting to him was going to be the trouble.

Regent pondered this while stood outside Ternitz's townhouse. He was still pondering the possibility of climbing the ten foot wall at night when the gates swung open and a black limo pulled out and drove down the road. Immediately hailing a cab Regent ordered it to follow the limo until it reached a small café where it stopped and Ternitz went inside. Regent paid the driver and sat at the café on the opposite side of the street ordering an Americano from the fresh faced young Parisian. After a quick sip Regent knew why Ternitz had choosen the opposite café.

Half an hour later Ternitz emerged from the café to talk to his driver. Seeing his chance Regent tucked his newspaper under his arm and walked to the opposite door of the limo staying low. As Ternitz' chauffeur closed the door Regent slipped in the other side to sit next to him.

"What?" Ternitz blurted out.
"Shh," Regent said his finger to his lips, glancing down he showed his gun hidden under the paper. "Just carry on as normal," Regent whispered.
"I'll call security Englishman," Ternitz spat.
"Well, you could but they'd get here to find you dead. I suggest you listen to me. Where has Jackson gone?"
"Oliver Jackson? What's he got to do with anything?"
"Just tell me."
"OK, I saw him last week as part of a delegation about a new film."
Regent twitched his gun.
"OK, I don't know, um let me think. He - he left for the Alps if I remember. What is the matter?"
"Where exactly?"
"Ah, Sestriere, I told him I have a place there."
"Who did he go with?"
"I don't know."
"I think maybe you do, come on," Regent said firmly.
"Um, er, OK, er, some girl I think," Ternitz was beginning to sweat, "his daughter, I think it was his daughter."
"And her name?"
"I really don't know - er, Claire. Now leave me alone, why are you asking me these questions?"
"Don't worry about that, and thank you," with that Regent slipped out of the car again and away into the Vienna crowds.

Here I had a DF 3 search and got 2 more successes finding him easily. I decided that Intimidation would be the appropriate skill with the aid of the PPK of course so had 3 dice (2 for similar and 1 for the pistol). The millionaire had Influence so had 2d6 for similar, not that it helped as 2 to 0 revealed what I needed to know.

Here's something I may change about LTL, as it stands you only need to find someone and get info out of them. I've brought this up on the THW Yahoo group and it is basically a chart for rolling the number of tasks required to get to speak to someone, for example breaking in and turning off the alarms, or persuading another to let you see them. I'll implement this on the following posts and see how it goes.

Until next time


Memories of: Advanced HeroQuest

This is a new category for games that I think have been overlooked despite there being at least a nugget of true greatness, even if it has bypassed the general community, I'm starting with:

Advanced Heroquest

OK, so quite a few people remember Heroquest, a simple boardgame by Milton Bradley with plastic miniatures and plastic/cardboard furniture. It introduced quite a few to the world of Games Workshop (well it introduced me!). Not many remember its grown up cousin Advanced Heroquest (or AHQ).

AHQ took the simplistic Heroquest concept (dungeon delving) and slapped on a 'Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing(WFRP) light' system onto it. Yes that's right, the somewhat clunky WFRP rules stripped down to bare essentials and slapped onto a boardgame. So you have Weapon Skill, Bow (Ballistic in WFRP) Skill, Strength and Toughness etc. that WFRP had but instead of 1-100 and 1-10 ranges you have 1-12 ranges and a d12 mechanic.

If it's so good why was it missed?
OK so you have a random dungeon delving system, and a few other boardgame conventions, but you do still have a WFRP-light system underpinning it all. As someone who loves the WFRP (at least the 1st ed) background, but who doesn't want all the complication of the WFRP system AHQ is a great substitute.

One of the things I like about some of the changes are a comparative rather than roll under mechanic, so a Weapon Skill 6 versus a Weapon Skill 8 opponent needs a 9+ to hit (basically 7+8-6). In WFRP when opponents frequently have skills in the 30s and 40s you can be swinging for quite a few combat turns before anyone hits anything, and while this may not be totally eliminated in a comparative system it does speed things up.

Another thing I like about a comparative system is that equal opponents are equally like to win, whereas in a roll under system (take high level GURPS for instance) you can literally be having a war of attrition, where unfortunately it is my will that is being reduced and not the combatants. In AHQ have a fight where there is a skill disparity and it is (generally) reflected in the results.

Don't get me wrong, it had its flaws:

Plastic doors on hinges that broke very easily (we used the Heroquest doors instead)
Plain room tiles that only had different tiling patterns on them
Poor-ish selection of minis, one Skaven model times about 40, but the henchmen and heroes were good
Some daft rules about monsters not being able to open doors (how the hell did they go to the toilet? Not that there were toilets anyway, are there ever?)
Flat terrain pieces, when you're used to 3D furniture from Heroquest it's a little let down (but again we just used the Heroquest ones we had)

Chuck in a few other interesting details like being able to hire henchmen to follow you into the depths, a random event chart that can affect you between adventures and the modular dungeon pieces so that no two dungeons are the same (at least design-wise) and you have a very good game that was sadly usurped by a showy relation and then a market that GW abandoned totally. I believe that those of you who want to investigate further that you can find a scan of the original rules on an Italian Heroquest site. For those of us that picked it up when it was around (and its one and only expansion) I think we have been truly fortunate. At some point I will look into it's usurper Warhammer Quest.

Until next time

Monday, 6 June 2011

Piratety foolishness!

Little did I know while I was typing up my Lego Pirates post there was the very imminent Lego Pirates of the Caribbean!

If I had posted that over a year ago when I first had the idea (while playing Lego Star Wars on the DS) I would have appeared entirely prophetic, rather than simply pathetic.

But it does go to show it was a flipping good idea in the first place!

Until next time


Regent Scene 2 - The British Embassy in Paris

A few hours later in the British Embassy on the Rue de Fauborg de Saint-Honoré, Regent was waiting patiently for admittance to the Secret Service attaché posted to this luxurious location. Regent was getting bored, and was just mulling over talking again to the severe matron sat at the desk when the door opened. Regent was surprised to see M, stood in the doorway.

"There's no need to look pleased with yourself, Regent," M said, "it could take weeks to repair the diplomatic damage caused by your little shennanigans this morning."
"Well that's a nice hello I must say, but I did get that film back," Regent replied suavely.
"And what do you want, a medal for doing your job?" M snapped back.
"Actually, that would be quite good," Regent nodded.
"Don't delude yourself o-thirteen. Now there is another matter I've called you in for."
"I didn't think you'd come all to Paris to ask how my French lessons were going."
Ignoring the last comment M beckoned Regent in and carefully shut the door. On a projection screen was a picture of a middle-aged man, "this o-thriteen is Oliver Jackson, leading British actor and personal friend to the Prime Minister."
"Well, lucky him!"
"He's gone missing, he was last seen in Austria with well known film financier Johan Ternitz."
"What are we a Secret Service, or a missing persons bureau?" Regent enquired.
M shook her head, "Regent, this is troubling the Prime Minister and isn't the first case of a close friend going missing. Someone is trying to undermine the PM John and I need to know whom and to stop them. This is a priority case and many assets have been redirected in searches."
"So, I'm not the only agent in the field?"
"Just find out what we need. Ternitz has a townhouse in Vienna I suggest you start your search there, and don't raise any suspicions!"
"As if I would," Regent smiled back.

Now into the Larger Than Life story structure proper. Being a jack-of-all-trades I roll Rescue someone from Slavers (5) which I've interpretted as kidnappers as I could worka round that possiblity better. Next I intended to use some flavour and whipped out The NAGS Society Adventure Starter (designed for pulp games of Terra Incognita using the excellent Fudge role-playing rules) I role for person and get Famous actor (11). Returning to LTL Iroll for the villain and get REP 4 (Passed 2d6), for now I haven't rolled for the specific villain, I'll leave that until necessary.

Rolling on the Advance the story table I unsurprisingly roll Get info from someone, I again decided to use the Terra Incognita Adventure Starter (TIAS from here on!) and got Obsessed millionaire (30) for my next contact. I then rolled Metropolis and Train and decided a quick trip to Vienna seemed in order.

By the way, the Terra Incognia Adventure Starter is a free download from the NAGS Society website, go and get it!

Until next time

Friday, 3 June 2011

Regent Scene 1 - The Paris streets

I have decided to veer away from the LTL story framework slightly, as I intend to use it just for that, a framework and not a rigid straitjacket.

So I'll start with an action scene:

It was a quiet autumn day, brown and gold leaves had blown from the park onto the adjacent broad Paris street. A sleek sportscar screeched around the far end of the street sending its back end fishtailing into the middle of the road, straightening itself it shot down the road its engine roaring scattering the leaves.
Just as the leaves were settling back and the quiet of the street returned two black cars came around the corner in obvious pursuit, they too shot down the road sending the leaves scattering before disappearing from view.

Inside the sports car John Regent, agent of Her Majesty's Secret Service, looked in the rear-view mirror and raised an eyebrow.

OK, we have a car pursuit per the download from the Yahoo group. I figure the cars are 5 bands apart (I haven't stuck rigidly to those rules either), Regent in the lead car being followed by one car of REP 3 goons and one of REP 4. All drivers have the Driver skill.

The rolls (John's always first) are 1, 4 and 3. Everyone activates but the bad guys first, the REP 4 goons decide to close the distance with a DF3 manoeuvre (5,5,5,5,4) v (2,6,3) Fail 2d6. 1 vehicle wound plus 1 further wound (1,2,4) and lose 2 range bands falling back to 8. The driver fares badly (1,1,4) suffering two wounds and OOF.

The lead chasing car tries to cut a corner to catch up, unfortunately there are cars parked around the corner and they plough straight into them, the horn sounds loudly as the driver lays slumped over the wheel. The second car meanwhile tries to accelerate to keep up with the secret agent.

The driver rolls (5,5,1,6) versus DF 1 (3) Pass 0d6, maintain the status quo 6 range. Regent plays safe (2,1,1,3,3,3) versus (5) Pass 6d6!

The other black car's engine whines as the driver tries to accelerate to catch up, Regent just shakes his head and puts his own foot down, pulling away easily.

Activation (6,5) no-one activates. Again (2,2) both activate.

Regent sees a chance to shoot down a narrow lane and jerks the wheel to the right.

Regent rolls (4,5,6,2,1,3) versus (4,2,4,4) scoring 2 more successes and sending the pursuers back to band 10. The pursuers roll (5,4,4,6) versus (5) 0 successes.

Expertly handled the racing car slides around the corner and disappears up the narrow lane, unable to match the manoeuvre the black car is forced to slam on its brakes and reverse back to take the turn.
Regent lets himself have a small smile, "Amateurs".

Both activate (5,2) and Regent pulls another DF3 manoeuvre (1,6,1,3,4,5) versus (4,4,6) 3 successes.
Range now 13 and tail lost, but it has to be more dramatic than that!
Seeeing the end of the narrow road coming up with the Seine in sight, Regent puts the car expertly into another skid. Bursting onto the riverside road Regent checks his mirrors again to see the pursurers shoot out right across the road and hit the kerb which sends it flying over the safety rails and into the river.

"Au revoir, mon ami," Regent says before adjusting his tie with a smile.

Oh, and try this

Until next time Steve

Regent - John Regent

OK, so it's Bond with the name changed a bit (UK Monopoly players will realise the connection), but I think this will be a good character to test drive all the solo gaming systems. These are his stats in Larger Than Life:
Role - clearly the Star (he's the only player character!)

Reputation - 5 (this is incredibly important in LTL, everything really revolves around this)
Primary Attribute - Brawn
Secondary attributes - Brain and Bravado
Advantage - Strong Willed
Disadvantage - Distinguishing Feature
Skills - Melee, Shooting, Influence, Interrogate (count as 3), Drive, Stealth
Crisis table - Adventurer
Weapon - Pistol
Profession - Spy
Employer - Her Majesty's Secret Service
Home - Military Intelligence 6 Headquarters

As John will be alone almost for the entirety he needed to be capable enough to deal with whatever is thrown at him, therefore Reputation 5 is really a minimum.

I selected Brawn because this is the combat stat, and without that he could get into all sorts of trouble, it really is quite hard to decide between that and Bravado, but Brawn seemed a better choice.

I chose his advantage because it should be helpful when we get into opposed tasks, which I know come up a lot.

Distinguishing Feature was a stroke of luck (it is random) some of the other disadvantages are crippling it seems.

Skills were selected from the law enforcement and adventurer packages as per the jack-of-all-trades description, so granting an additional skill from those on offer. In addition I selected drive because I intend to use the fan submitted chase rules, plus Bond Regent is guns, fast cars and faster women! Stealth was added to help him get around without incident, again this was a tough pick, I could have chosen Seduce, or Gambling but Stealth seemed to have the greatest utility, only time will tell...

As a jack-of-all-trades I had to select a crisis table, I decided on the Adventurer table as it seems to portray a more independent minded character, i.e. less affected by allies actions.

Weapon was obviously going to be a pistol, a Walther PPK to be precise, of course!

Profession is clearly spy, with his employer also being easy, I selected rather than rolled.

So that is John Regent agent o-thirteen (just so you Yanks don't get confused how to say it), he's good but not quite a double-o yet.

Until next time