The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

More pics of the boys

| January 21, 2014

Max hit 7lbs 12oz this Sunday, and Miles hit 7lbs 5oz. They’re growing like crazy, and starting to outgrow some of their smaller outfits.

They actually spend some time awake these days, which is nice, because you can actually play with them,

Max and Miles in their cute hats

Max and Miles in their cute hats

Max and Miles in their reindeer outfits

Max and Miles in their reindeer outfits

Bath time - Max in a ducky towel

Bath time – Max in a ducky towel

Bath time - Miles in a froggy towel

Bath time – Miles in a froggy towel

Miles in Liz's baby k'tan

Miles in Liz’s baby k’tan

Max in my baby k'tan

Max in my baby k’tan

Max in his Christmas outfit

Max in his Christmas outfit

Miles in his Christmas outfit (power to the people)

Miles in his Christmas outfit (power to the people)

The best of player excess

| January 20, 2014

(Names have been changed for anonymity).

As a GM, you are often asked by players to grant them special concessions in excess of the rules, especially at character creation time.

One needs to be careful granting these requests, as doing so may unbalance the game, because it makes an individual too powerful, which makes it hard for the GM to come up with scenarios to challenge that player whilst not wiping the floor with the other players. Further, it changes the dynamic from being a team/group cooperative comprised of specialists (think Oceans 11) to a definite difference in skill set and power levels, where some folks are more or less along for the ride (think Doctor Who and his companions).

Mike, the player in question, wanted to play a helicopter pilot rigger. He took money as priority 1 (this was 3rd edition, remember) and bought himself some rigger goodies and a custom cargo chopper. (We used the stats for an Ares Dragon, but aesthetically, it was more like a CH-53 Super Stallion. The cover story was that he ran a high-speed private courier service. He could land anywhere he could put the helicopter down, you could drive a forklift up the back ramp and put in a couple cargo palattes worth of stuff, or drive in a short panel van. There was also a small passenger cabin, so it could carry half a dozen people. It was essentially the common “team van”, except their van was a helicopter (and I think they all parked their motorcycles in the back).

Now, in order to maintain the cover, it was not visibly armed. It did, however, have a couple of secret body compartments disguised as fuel tanks, out of which deployed a couple of Vindicator Miniguns (he didn’t have the money to buy anything better, but he still bought a pair of freaking miniguns!)

Of course, you may ask, where is the GM concession here. Well, the concession is that of availbility. These are not usually allowed for starting characters.

So, anyway, the second job they take is to hijack some cargo. Of course, the cargo turns out to be owned by Renraku and is a Cyberzombie. On top of that, there are two mages in the back of the van with the zombie, some random security driving the truck, and lead and chase vehicles full of Red Samurai. This is a very, very dangerous job.

They hack in to find out the route, and plan an ambush. The helicopter is overhead, everyone else is on the ground. As part of legwork, they stole a tow truck and used it to smash in to the lead truck (think Heat. This renders two of the Samurai out of action and blocks up the road. The second truck deploys and a gunfight ensues.

Combat turn one goes as normal – mages throw spells, gunbunnies shoot things, normal. Mike’s character flips a switch. You see, the miniguns take 3 seconds to get up to operating speed.

The next turn, because he’s a rigger, he gets to go first. For the first time we calculate what he gets to roll. It’s a minigun, no recoil modifiers or anything like that, because he’s an a HELICOPTER. It’s one, huge gyrostabilization platform.. He had a ton of gunnery skill, got bonuses for sheer volume of rounds these things throw out, no penalties, and I doubled it, because there were two.

In the end, he ended up rolling something like 20 dice per action, and got 3 actions per round. In the end, I think I ended up letting him split his dice amongst adjacent targets, and just saturate the area with rounds.

Anyway, he turns the chase vehicle into swiss cheese, can’t shoot at the leat vehicle (too close to friendlies), pink mists the two mages coming out of the back of the van, and the whole rest of the team (which was like 4 people) drop the last two in the lead vehicle..

And then the cyberzombie walks out.

The theory was that they were supposed to capture it, but they hadn’t counted on it being active – or armed with a rocket launcher and light machine gun.

I think it took a whole TWO actions of concentrated fire from the helicopter for it to go down.

Their contact ended up getting a box of parts.

They ended up getting half pay.

Now, if it made the mission so easy, you may wonder why I allowed it. Well, for starters, overwhelming firepower wasn’t the right solution here – they didn’t get fully paid. Also, everyone thought it was hilarious – the team loved it. Finally, it’s controllable. You can’t fit a helicopter in the sewers, nor is it particularly sneaky. So, it was great for bringing big guns to bear and getting places quickly, not so much for sneaking.

In the end, after a few missions, Mike agreed with me, and we ended up turning that guy in to an NPC and Mike made up a new character.

Up next – when you indulge the munchkins too much, and you end up with a PvP beheading….

Let me tell you about my character….

| January 18, 2014

So, this is the start of a series of articles where I wax nostalgic about games and characters past, and I will veer off into GM analysis and other bits that interest me.

By way of a bit of background, I’ve been playing roleplaying games and wargames off and on (largely as scheduling and group availability permitted) for about 15 years at this point. I got stared in college, primarily with Warhammer 40k and Shadowrun. I actually knew that roleplaying games existed prior to that, having played the Eye of the Beholder video game on PCs. I was amazed at the amount of content in the manual. It was then that I realized that it was based on some type of story game you played around a table with your friends. I din’t know exactly how the game worked, not having read the rules, but I knew that it wasn’t a video game or a board game like anything I’d ever played.

Fast forwarding a couple of years, I actually had an opportunity to play at a friend’s house. The idea was that we were going to play until the early morning hours, then sleep over. However, I missed that game because I came down with a case of strep throat.

About a year after that, a different friend came back from a weekend in Cambridge, MA, where he had visited a bookstore and came back with a copy of Shadowrun, Third Edition. He let me thumb through it in study hall and I was very interested. However, again, we never did get a game together, as we were too busy playing Magic – and then we graduated and went off to college.

In college, I got in to 40k at the local game shop, which is, incidentally, where I met my Rhode Island gaming group. though they don’t really figure in to this story. Anyway, I’m there playing 40K, and I see the same book that my friend brought back from Cambridge (the cover is a bit distinctive). So, I buy it, take it home, read it. and I’m like “I need to play this”. so I ask around in my group of friends to find out of anyone wants to play. This comes together surprisingly quickly, including with two experienced roleplayers, one of whom who has even played Shadowrun before. (As an aside, this spoils me a bit, because I think that this is how easy it will always be to find a game. I didn’t realize that it’s easy in a college town with a bunch of college kids, but it gets more difficult when you get a real job).

Anyway, at this point, I had a group, and I volunteered to run, and that is where the story really begins.

Update on the boys

| January 14, 2014

I haven’t updated recently, because I’ve been busy. I’m back to work, and Liz and I are figuring out how to juggle all that. Also, I’ve been playing with some tech stuff which I’ll hopefully blog about soon.

As of today, Max is over 7lbs, and Miles is approaching that. This is excellent progress, and things get a little easier every day.

They also had their first outing Sunday outside of going to Grandma and Grandpas – Uncle Ross’s birthday party at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy. They did well – slept for most of the time, getting cuddled by all their relatives.

Anyway, pics (courtesy of Aunt Pat)





And, since I’m usually the one taking the pictures…

Me and Miles

Me and Miles