Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Horror of St. Judes

Another Friday passed and our starting up of Rippers had to be cancelled. One of my players had gotten a wisdom toth taken out in the morning and was not well enough to play. So instead I thought I would post an adventure that I ran with my group when we first tried out Rippers around three years. It was my first attempt to get away from the Indiana Jones like feel that Rippers can also be and insert more horror.

I was as you can tell heavily influenced by the real Whitechapel Murders of 1888, but tried to give the adventure its own feel. All the locations are real but I have taken a few liberties with the people and some parts of the location. 

I had created numerous handouts and encounter maps, incl. maps of all the crime scenes, that I might be able to dig up if anyone has any interest in this. 

Story background 
Father Beresford has been tavellling in Eastern Europe for a couple of years. During his time there he encounter several forces of the Cabal and ended up being recruited by the Night Guard. 

Upon his return to London, Beresford has called at St. Judes chuch in Whitechapel, where Father Longsdown has been more than happy to be receive help as he is an old man. 

When the Whitechapel Murders took place 4 years ago the East End of London was in rebillion and the police were close to losing control. Beresford wants to stip up things again so that the Night Guard can move in and gain influence in the heart of the biggest Empire in the world. 

For this purpose Beresford has animated a deceased puritan priest Willian Mansfield as a witchfinder zombie. Beresford holds control over Mansfield and has ordered him to kill locals in Whitechapel. So far two people have died. 

In media res 
Father Longsdown has contacted some of his fellow clergymen as he fears for his local community. Since their has been talk of a “devil of the night” and the return of the “Whitechapel fiend” a supporter of the lodge has pointed him to the London Lodge and the characters. 

Day 1 
- Briefing from Father Longsdown 
- (Visit to Hall of Records) 
- (Visit to Police) 

Day 2 
- Arriving at St. Judes 
- Investigating St. Judes 
- Finding the crypt 

Day 3 
- Entering the crypt and fighting devil dogs 
- Conversation with Longsdown about the crypt 
- Third murder happens 
- Investigating crime scene 
- (Finding hidden book in Father Beresford’s flat) 
- Following the killer through sewers 
- Fight with devil dogs at old cemetary 
- Finding cave and fight with Beresford and Witchfinder 

1 - Father Longsdown 

The Rippers are summoned to the lodge at The Marlborough Club on Pall Mall in London. Johan Van Helsing greets them in foyer and tells them that a Father Longsdown of St. Judes church is waiting for them in the library. The vicar wants to talk to them about the recent murders in Whitechapel, and any murder in Whitechapel is the business of the Rippers as you never know if Dr. Jack has somehow returned to his former hunting ground. Van Helsing apologises but has other business to attend to and leaves the characters to deal with the priest. 

As expected the characters find an elderly man waiting for them in the library. Father Longsdown is a medium build man at around 60 with grey/white hair and big whiskers. When the characters enter he stands up to greet them. 

“Thank you for taking the time to see me. For this I’m already very grateful. I’ve been at loss to what I should do, but my colleague Father Harrington pointed me in your direction and said that you had experience in handling mysteries.” 

After the characters introduce themselves, Father Longsdown continues: 

“I’m the vicar of St. Judes Church in Whitechapel, a smaller church which has been in existance since 1848. I have been vicar since 1879. Besides churchly affairs I see it as my responsibility to make sure that as many as possible in the local community feel well and that the area develops in a positiv Christian way. St. Judes lies on Commercial Street and many people stop by, seeking advice and consell in all matter religious, spirituel and day-to-day affairs. When something bad happens in the community it affects us all, least of all me as I want to protect the people around St. Judes, which is also the reason why I have come to you. 
As you no doubt have read in the newspapers two murders have happend in Whitechapel within the last couple of weeks. The fear that this develops into another Jack the Ripper like case or that Jack is back himself has started to spread like wildfire in the streets. People are say that the devil himself is behind this! Two widely different persons John Boroughts (Pelham St.) and Elizabeth Dawson (Middelsex St.) are the victims; ordinary citizens not believed to have any enemies and without relations to each other, and yet they have been ripped to pieces in the streets around St. Judes!” 

At this point Father Longsdown will show the newspaper clippings to the characters. 

“A particular rumour that the murderer is some sort of supernatural being has made me fear the future. Both victims had recently been to the church and talked to me, a fact that I have so far kept to myself. Also what the newspaper articles don’t tell, but what the police have told me is that the victims were found with a medalion of St. Judes! 
I beg you please come to Whitechapel and see whether you can help find this killer. It is not because the local police is not on the case, but they have many cases which require their attention. Also the more people actively trying to solve this the better.” 

Father Longsdown waits until the characters accept his plea for help. He suggests that they come and visit him in St. Judes the next day, where they will also be able to meet the church’s other priest Father Beresford. 

If questioned about Father Beresford, Father Longsdown will say that around 6 months ago he came to the church and asked if he could help. He used to live in Whitechapel, but has been doing missionary work in Eastern Europe recently but wanted to give something back to his local community, which has quite a lot of residents from Eastern Europe. Longsdown, almost 64 years old, has welcomed the help. 

Father Longsdown will be able to provide the following further information: 

- Police enquiry is lead by local police inspector John T. Spratling. 

- Both John Boroughs and Elisabeth Dawson belong to the parish of St. Judes. They were not regular church goers but came to the church once in a while. 

2 - St. Judes church 

Arrival and intial enquiries 
When the characters arrive in Whitechapel they will have no problems finding St. Judes church, which lies on Commercial Street near the corner to Whitechapel High Street. 

Both Father Longsdown and Father Beresford will greet the characters when they arrive. Father Beresford looks to be around mid-forties, dark haired with a large moustace - continental style. 
Longsdown thanks them once again for taking the time to help out. Longsdown lives in the vicaridge just behind the church. Beresford lives in a small flat not far from the church. 

At some point the characters may want to enquire both Fathers about St. Judes or Father Beresford about what he knows about the murders. 

- St. Judes was built in 1848 on top of the ruins of what was rumoured to be a haunted mansion. There have not been any supernatural events and Father Longsdown puts that down to “the presence of God has put the demons to rest”. 

- Father Longsdown has the architectual drawing of of St. Judes in his church records in his office. (It does not show the secret entrence, that can only be found by going through the church records and reading the Memoirs of St. Judes by James Harding, first vicar of St. Judes) 

- Father Beresford knows nothing except from what the church goers tell him and what he reads in the newspaper. He shares the concerns of Father Longsdown in terms of the bad effect the murders are having on Whitechapel 

Searching St. Judes 
If the characters commence a search of St. Judes there will be several clues which can be uncovered with successful Notice rolls or through good roleplaying: 

In front of the secret door small stains of candlewax can be found, this in an area of the church where the sunlight shines in. It requires a Notice(-2) roll to find the release button that reveals the secret door. 

A small piece of old smelling decayed garment seems to have been torn of one of the weapons behind a curtain. No person would wear clothes like this. 

Father Longsdown’s office 
The lock on file cabinet drawer where Memoirs of St. Judes is located has small scratch marks left from the lockpicks that opened them. To find the paragraphs where James Harding decribes that a secret door was made to the old crypt of the mansion requires an Investigation roll. 

Futher enquiries 
When the characters have obtained more information they might have new questions for Father Longsdown, who can tell the following 

- He has no knowledge of a secret door or crypt. 

- He has not read Memoirs of St. Judes, as vicar Harding was later revealed as belonging to a secret cult of devil worshippers. 

- The church frontdoors are open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Investigation will show that the front doors have small scratches from lockpicks but they are not recent. 

- Himself and Father Beresford are the only two with keys to the front doors. 

3 - Hall of records 

Should the character want to investigate further into the haunted mansion that Father Longsdown said St. Judes church was built upon it will require a visit to the Hall of records in the local archive and an Investigation roll to find the one bit of interesting information that it holds “that below the mansion the police officers found a crypt where the family had created a mausuleum and committed ritual suicide while lying in their open coffins”. 

4 - Commercial Street Police Station 

At some point the characters may want to find out what the preliminary police records about both the murder of John Boroughs and Elisabeth Dawson says. 

Heading the police station is Inspector John T. Spratling and he wants no one sniffing around the station, so it will require Persuasion (-2) roll just to stay at the station and talk to Spratling. If Tobias Gregson reveals himself to be a former police officer the penalty is only -1. 

If the characters get talking to Spratling they will find out that it requires a bribe of a 10 shillings for him to show them the police reports. They will have 5 minutes to glance at them before Spratling takes them back. 
The police records will alert the characters to the witness reports of puritan clad priest clothes and the victims being both burned and slashed. 

Spratling does not want to discuss the case with the characters, but believes the murderer to be a lunatic jew just like Jack the Ripper was. 

5 - Witnesses 

The characters may want to visit the witnesses to both crimes to see if they can provide further clues or information. Both are not interested in speaking to non-Jews and will even if pressed not be able to give more information. They will however keep eyes and ears upon in the future if intimidated. 

6 - Crime scenes 

The characters may want to investigate the crime scenes despite the fact that most clues should be gone. 

Both crime scenes will have one vital clue though, a sewer hatch is close by. 

7 - The Crypt 

When the characters find the secret door and entrance down to the crypt they will no doubt want to investigate. The best time is during the late evening when the church is closed - after 10 p.m. 

The crypt is shrouded in darkness but torches are lined up on the walls and can easily be lid. 

The characters will not get far into the crypt before two devil dogs will rush forward and attack. Beresford has placed the devil dogs there to kill any intruders. The devil dogs were ressourected by Beresford before attempting to ressourect Mansfield. 

After dealing with the devil dogs the characters continue and move into the section of the crypt where the last family of the mansion are buried. 

The last section of the crypt contains the empty coffin of William Mansfield. A small cardboard box of a new date is empty - a Notice roll will reveal a St. Judes coin that has dropped behind coffin. Once the characters open the coffin they find it empty, but a Notice (-2) roll will reveal a secret compartment or if the characters state that they investigate the coffin an Investigations roll will also reveal the compartment. In the compartment they will find some sheets of paper bundeld together - pages from William Mansfield’s diary. 

Futher enquiries with Longsdown and Beresford 
When the characters return from the crypt they will no doubt want to confront Father Longsdown about the crypt. He will appear horrified that a crypt is located below the church. If asked about the name William Mansfield, Longsdown will know that that was the name of a puritan priest who lived in the area almost 300 years ago. He was infamous for his brutality and the fact that he slayed people in the name of God if he found them to be heretics or not God-fearing enough. Longsdown does not know anything else about how he died. 

8 - The Third Murder 

During their conversation with Longsdown, a loud knocking will be heard on the frontdoors of the church and lots of loud shouting. Longsdown will rush to open the door and as the doors open a man shouts “Father, der er begået et nyt mord - det er ovre i Finch Street, kom hurtigt!” 

Father Longsdown hurries back to the characters and asks them to go with the man to the crimescene while he goes to get Father Beresford in Widegate Street. 
If some of the characters want to go with Father Longsdown he will have no objection. 

Father Beresford’s flat 
If some of the characters decide to go with Father Longsdown to seek out Father Beresford, the will find that no-one answers the door when they come knocking. 
If they either break-in or lockpick their way into the flat, they will find several different newspaper articles about the murders and a Notice check will alert the characters to an infamous book hidden below the bed - the book is about bringing back the dead. 

The crimescene 
It will only take the characters around 5 minutes to get to Finch Street where a crowd has already gathered around the crimescene - in a backyard behind a building. A Notice check and the characters will overhear the crowd idenifying the person as Harry Pearson and that the police is 5 minutes away. 
The body lies face down, but in a pool of blood. This means that the characters will have to move fast in order to deduct anything from the crime scene. 
An Investigation check will reveal the following: 

- Harry Pearson appears to have been killed in the same manner as the previous to victims; slashed in chest, face and stomach, severe burns on the back. 

- The murder has taken place within the last ½ hour. 

- Footprints from a very old style boot is represented the most within 5 feet of the body. 

In order to follow the tracks the characters will have to make Tracking checks (+1 for mud/filth in the alley and -2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 
If successful the characters see that the tracks lead through a door and into another backyard(with a sewer hatch). 

9 - The Hunt Begins 

Into the sewers 
Inside the sewers the characters will have to make new Tracking checks 

1st check - 0 (+2 for mud/filth from the backyard hanging onto the shoes and -2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 

2nd check -1(+1 for less mud/filth from the backyard hanging onto the shoes and -2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 

3rd check -2 (-2 for poor light, which can be negated with a lamp.) 

In the end the tracks lead to a ladder going up. When the characters have ascended they find themselves close to Christ Church. 

Christ Church 
To continue another Tracking check is required to pick up the tracks again. If successful the characters can follow them into the compound of Christ Church, where the tracks become so easy to follow due to the soft underground that no check is required. 

The tracks lead to an old and closed cemetary - fenced in and with an old building far away. A second Tracking check will reveal a second set of foot prints also going into the old cemetary. 

The old cemetary 
At the old cemetary the character will not have come far into the compound before two devil dogs will appear from behind some bushes and attack the characters. 

After the characters have dealt with the devil dogs they will continue towards the old building. 

Inside the building they will find it more or less abandoned , but for a trapdoor in the floor with a ladder sticking out of it. A Notice roll will reveal voices from below, but it is not possible to see anyone. 

If the characters descend they will find themselves in a tunnel, around 100 feet away they can see light. Approaching the light the characters will enter a cave where they will see both Father Beresford and the Witchfind Mansfield. At the first sign of the characters the two will attack the characters.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rippers: Langdale Pike

Langdale Pike 

Born: October 5th, 1858
Place of birth: Whitechapel, London
Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 143 lbs

Langdale Pike's childhood was not a happy one, his mother died in childbirth and his father James Pike, a merchant sailor, could not deal with the fact of raising a child on his own, so he went to sea. Langdale was left with his aunt Agnes, who unable to have children on her own, raised him as her own.

When he was 12 the boy came to the attention of newspaper editor Andrew Mortimer, who offered the boy a job. The job was to get him the news his reporters could not get, by eavesdropping on conversations - cause who would pay any attention to a small kid. Langdale became a huge success and Mr. Mortimer's newspaper The Daily Star, was able to break many stories before the other papers.

When he grew older, Langdale was given a full time job as a journalist and continued his success. His natural curoiusness, persuasive powers and knowledge of London made him a top reporter.

Recently however Langdale has come across the biggest story ever, and he can tell no one about it. Langdale found out that a group of men are combating the evils of the night. But instead of breaking the story to the world, Langdale found himself admiring the people and wanting to help.

On his first mission Langdale found out that dealing with the horrors of the night would have a personal cost. Some creature that he was hunting, tricked him and he suddenly came face to face with it. Langdale felt the creature looked into his soul and touched him with his evil.

Despite the experience Langdale has vowed to continue the fight.


Pace: 6

Parry: 4
Toughness: 5
Charisma: 0
Sanity: 4
Status: 5

Annual Wages:  £170 
Cash on hand: £3

Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6

Connections (London Underworld)

Curious [major]
Habit [minor] (Opium use)
Touched [minor]

Defining Interests
Knowledge (London)

Climbing d4
Fighting d4
Guts d4
Investigation d8
Lockpicking d4
Notice d6
Persuasion d8
Shooting d4
Stealth d6
Streetwise d8
Taunt d4

.25 Derringer

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rippers: Father Philip Green

Father Philip Green

Church of England Priest
Born: February 11, 1850
Place of birth: Guildford, Surrey
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 184 lbs

Up until November 1887 Father Philip Green worked as a vicar in the village of Artington, Surrey. He had lived in the village with his wife for more than 10 years, a peaceful life in a peaceful village. 

All of that changed in November 1887, when Father Green woke up one night finding a creature hovering over his wife. He immediately rose from his bed, but was slammed out of the window by the creature. When he recovered he found himself in the attendance of the local doctor. He had a broken leg and a several deep cuts from the broken glass of the window that he was thrown out of. His wife had died of unknown causes the doctor told him and just why Green was found outside was inexplainable. 

Green however knew what he had seen, so when he was able to walk again he left Artington and set about finding out who had killed his wife. The vicarage was closed down.

Strong in his belief Father Green believed that God would help in his quest. He searched for years without being able to find his wife's killer. 

Then one day while in deep prayer in St. Mary's church in Whitechapel, London, Father Green became aware that someone was standing behind him listening. That person was Father Thomas Eustace the vicar of the church. Himself and old member of the Order of St. George he told Green about the order. Father Eustace recruited Green and told him to continue his hunting for the church and the order. Father Green was only to happy to join.

Pace: 6

Toughness: 5
Charisma: 0
Sanity: 6
Status: 5

Annual Wages:  £140 
Cash on hand: £2 10s

Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d6

Common Bond
Hard to Kill 

Nightmares [major] (Wife's killer) 
Orders [minor] (Order of St. George)
Vengeful [minor] 

Defining Interests

Fighting d6
Guts d6
Healing d4
Intimidation d8
Investigation d4
Knowledge (Occult) d8
Knowledge (Religion) d6
Notice d4
Shooting d4
Survival d4
Throwing d8

Throwing knives
Flintlock pistol (.60)
Holy symbol 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rippers: Doctor Percy Trevelyan

Doctor Percy Trevelyan

Born: April 14, 1857
Place of Birth: Reading, Berkshire
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 161 lbs

Percy Trevelyan’s childhood was not a happy one, before he entered his teens his mother had died from disease and his father been committed to the Colney Hatch Asylum.

Somehow Percy managed to defy the odds and was adopted by an upper class family of doctors. Despite having missed years of education, young Trevelyan eventually ended up on a scholarship at The London Hospital Medical College. He has since then established himself as a promising doctor within the recently discovered field of psychology.

When his adopted parents also died, Trevelyan used his inheritance to set up a private clinic in Brook Street, Mayfair, London. His younger half-sister means the world to him and is his link to his dead adopted parents. When their parents died, she moved in with their aunt.

Dr. Trevelyan never forgot his poor childhood, so when the opportunity arose to do charity work at Stepney Workhouse, the young doctor volunteered. Hoping to somehow help the mentally ill and use his skills rather than listen to the imaginative problems of the rich.

During his time there Trevelyan has experienced several cases of inmates talking about creatures in the night. Normally these things are dismissed out of hand, but Dr. Trevelyan started to look further into their tales, and found that the mad men were indeed telling the truth. Convinced that his  father, still locked away at Colney Hatch must have experience something similar, the good doctor has devouted his life to finding out the truth about these creatures and the effect they have on mankind.

Pace: 6

Parry: 4 (5 with Sword cane)
Toughness: 4
Charisma: 0
Sanity: 7
Status: 5

Annual Wages: £450
Cash on hand: £7

Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d4

Arcane Background (Psionics)
Down to Earth

Dark Secret [major] (Father locked away at asylum)
Obligations [minor] (Younger sister - lives with aunt)
Vow [minor] (Help the mentally insane)

Defining Interests
Knowledge (Business)
Knowledge (Poison)
Language (Latin)

Fighting d4
Guts d4
Healing d8
Intimidation d4
Knowledge (Medicine) d6
Knowledge (Psychology) d8
Notice d4
Persuasion d6
Psionics d8
Shooting d4
Taunt d4

.38 Revolver
.45 Martini-Henry rifle
Sword cane

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rippers: Sgt. Henry Baynes

Next Friday we will attempt to get our Rippers campaign started and I thought I would present the characters that I have created for my friends to play.

A bit of background
As I have mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, I always try to create different characters who each have different qualities. However I also try to make sure that there are overlaps - i.e. Investigation is not limited to a single character.

My Rippers has a different focus and I therefore have in mind that the character should not just be a monster hunter but have some kind of profession on the side. Besides giving the character more background and depth, it has the added benefit of given me a way to introduce a case in a way a bit different than just having the head of the group/lodge give them an assignment.

How the character was presented to my friend:

Sgt. Henry Baynes

Northamptonshire Police
Born: June 27th, 1859
Place of Birth: Marylebone, London
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 196 lbs

Young Henry Baynes was once one of the up-and-coming stars of the London Metropolitan Police's Murder Squad. Born in an upper class family of high ranking police officer it was a pretty given fact that the police would also be the career path for Henry. The first 5 years went according to plan and Baynes rose to the rank of Inspector.

One day though everything changed. Baynes was on what looked like a straightforward murder case. After some initial enquiries Baynes had cornered the murderer in an old warehouse in Limehouse. He was too late to save the daughter of a member of the House of Commons and when the murderer suddenly disappeared into mist Baynes was left with a corpse and no murderer. His family disgraced by - in their mind - incompetence, he was disowned, demoted to the rank of Sergeant and sent to the Northamtonshire Police.

Baynes was broken and took to the bottle, unable to ever forgive himself and haunted by the nightmarish gore of the dead girl. He never forgot the murderer and hope to someday find him and bring him to justice. The prospects of that are bleak though, as his drinking has left him with a bad reputation as a drunkard unable to do his job.

Baynes though still has the burning desire to do good and is just waiting for his chance.

Pace: 6

Parry: 6
Toughness: 7
Charisma: 0
Sanity: 4
Status: 2

Annual Wages:  £110
Cash on hand: £2 5s

Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d8, Vigor d8

Liquid Courage

Broken Spirit [major]
Disowned [minor]
Habit [minor] (Gin)

Defining Interests
Knowledge (London Police)

Fighting d8
Guts d4
Intimidation d4
Investigation d6
Knowledge (Law) d4
Notice d8
Shooting d4
Stealth d4
Streetwise d6
Tracking d8

.41 Revolver

Friday, May 17, 2013

EotD: Introduction Scenario - my experiences

So yesterday evening my friend and I played the Introduction Scenario. We had planned to play this evening, but got the opportunity to play yesterday instead. It was also the debut of my London Docks board so I was very exited about how the game would play and whether the table would be any good.

In the end only three of the images I took from the evening ended up being sharp enough, so that is why there are no more images.

Arriving at my friends flat I set up the table in the same way as I had placed everything when I took pictures of the finished board a few days ago. We then went about setting up the minis, decreasing the deployment circle from 15" to 12" since the board is only 3' x 3'.

I played Holmes and Watson and my friend controlled the dark force of Jack the Ripper. Like most games that you have never played before we didn't get the different turn sequences correct the first time and had to consult the rules almost all the time.

Despite this we got the feeling of a very fluid set of rules, somewhat simplified for the Quick Start PDF, but none the less a good foundation. Both my friend and I have never played any wargames before except Malifaux(which my friend still plays) and we during the game there were many times where we could see that these rules where a lot more simple than the unnecessary expanded rules of Malifaux that only serve to confuse rather than being helpful.

First game took around an hour to play - once again a relief after the 4-5 hours we had previously spend playing a single game of Malifaux. The game ended with Jack the Ripper going down in a hail of bullets from Holmes and Watson, with Watson making the killing shot.

Jack the Ripper strikes at his first victim in our first game

We then switched sides and I took the role of history's most infamous killer. Towards the end of the game my friend had me corner, with a warehouse on one side, water on another. Both escape routes were blocked by Holmes and a bobby on one side and two bobbies on the other. Watson had also lined up so that he could get shots in on the ripper. It was at this time that we started to get doubts about whether we were playing the Combat sequence correctly. It seemed wrong that I with Jack the Ripper ended up having 12 actions since I was being attacked by four different characters. With his Cbt 6 the Ripper is almost impossible to kill despite my friend rolling a natural 10 on numerous occassions, because I only needed to roll a 4 to win every time.

Since it was getting late we decided to abandon the game so that we would have time to talk a bit about how we felt the game played. We both agreed that final judgement can only be given once we have tried the full rules, controlling a faction and not just 1-2 characters. Despite this I thought the game played really well, of course we had to look up the rules numerous times, but it was not a dominant factor. The board also added to the experience, playing really well and given of the feeling that we were playing in Victorian London and not just a generic game board.

Today I have thralled the Westwind boards to see whether we got the Combat rules right and it seemed that we did. I did however also find out that the full rules have rules for when a character is facing multiple enemies in close combat. Making it less possible for one character with a high Cbt to hold of multiple enemies at the same time. Apparently Werewolves are even more crazy in close combat!

All in all a good introduction to Empire of the Dead, the rules are perhaps too simple but as I have read on the boards a lot has been cut, which in my opnion should make the full rules land at the right level, without all the complex individual rules of Malifaux. It's without a doubt a game that I will  be playing again.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

EotD: Finished minis for the introduction scenario

Last night I finished the three remaining minis that I needed to have ready for tomorrow - Sherlock, Watson and the Ripper.

The colors of Jack the Ripper is fairly simply - the Hollywood portrayal of the gentleman serial killer (this has nothing to do with reality mind you, but that's a post for another day).

I gave Sherlock Holmes a grey coat and deerstalker, which is what the late Jeremy Brett was wearing in his unmatched portrayal of the Great Detective in the Granada TV series from the 80s and 90s.

Dr. Watson's colors were again taken from the TV series - loads of different browns.

Since the EotD minis come with 30 mm bases I decided that I should rebase my old Gothic Horror minis on 30 mm as well. So these are the rest of the minis that I'll be using for the scenario. The London Bobbies were painted a long time ago, but it's not that long ago that I repainted the London Civilians.

Please note that the bald guy is not from the London Civilians set - I added him because I needed a tenth civilian. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

EotD: London Docks - finished board

Finally finally finished with my board for Empire of the Dead. It has taken me roughly a month from my first sketch to the finished product, and hopefully the board will have it's debut this Friday as my friend and I will try out the Quick Rules Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper scenario.

There wasn't much left to do on the board. I needed to repaint the color of the water and then apply a liberal amount of high gloss varnish, which took over two days to dry completely. I also painted the wooden frame of the board all black.

I would still like to have some more accessories on the board, and next month - when finances are back to normal will be getting some Victorian lamp posts. The good people on the Westwind boards have also given me some good suggestions on other items that I could build for the board, which I will look to add at a later point.

So here you go - pictures were taken this morning, so the lighting is not the best. Feel free to leave me comments and if you have any questions about how I have scratchbuild any of the things let me know.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rippers: Setting the setting

Sadly I had to cancel our game Friday as my wife's illness took a turn for the worse. I'm trying to schedule a new date with my group, so that we can get this campaign started.

So instead of giving an account of Friday's game, I'm going to show what materials I have prepared for the game. As I have already mentioned on this blog I have changed quite a lot of the things in the official Rippers setting. So let me give you an overview of why I have changed things.

Initial thoughts on the setting
My idea of a horror setting is different to the concept that Rippers represents. Basically a setting IMO is not a horror setting just because it has monsters in it. When the character concepts presented are of heroes globetrotting around with different specialized weapons and the added possibility of superhuman enhancements (Rippertech), it stops being a horror setting. To put it into context, the Van Helsing movie is presented as an action horror film, yet at no time in the movie do we fear for the life of our hero. Compare that to a recent favorite of mine The Woman in Black, where you constantly fear what is going to happen, every character is mortal and in grave danger. There is nothing wrong with the official Rippers setting if you want to play a monster hunting game with an emphasis on action and combat, it's just not what I was looking for.
Some of you may wonder why I then grabbed the Rippers setting? I did so because I love Victorian Horror and quite like the idea of a group of men/women that have decided to try and fight back. With the emphasis on try. Rippers as an organisation is not global and there are no lodges in every major city. My organisation is not even called Rippers and has more in common with the gentleman's club idea presented in Empire of the Dead.
Others might say that what I'm looking for can be found in Realms of Cthulhu/Call of Cthulhu? In part this is true, I just don't want the Cthulhu Myhos part - I love Lovecraft, I just don't like the idea of that a successful PC is one who ends up in an asylum. Furthermore I want the monsters the characters try to fight to be the creatures from folklore (vampires, werewolves, ghost etc.) and not those from the Cthulhu Mythos. There should be a chance to fight back, but it should be very tough and potentially lethal. So despite the pulpy concept of Savage Worlds, it is still quite a lethal system and it is the game system that our group have chosen and is comfortable with.

Making the setting my own
Having a concept ready in my head I sat down and decided to remove the elements from the Rippers setting that made it more action themed. It ended up with the following being removed.

  • No Rippertech - makes the PCs superhuman and decreases the risk of death
  • No Masked Crusaders faction - too superhero like for my taste
  • Rippers organisation no longer global - hence no real ressources for the PCs
  • Reason rules replaced with Sanity rules from Horror Companion
  • Arcane Backgrounds limited to Arcane, Miracles and Psionics
This alone did not give the setting more horror or made it more potentially lethal, so I decided to add the following:

  • Critical Failues (from Savage Worlds Deluxe)
  • Blood and Guts (from Savage Worlds Deluxe)
  • Gritty Damage (from Savage Worlds Deluxe)
  • Sanity rules (from Savage Worlds Deluxe)
Lastly I added the Defining Interests from Realms of Cthulhu to add character depth. 

I then went through the Edges and Hindrances from Rippers Setting, Rippers Companion, Realms of Cthulhu, and the Horror Companion. It gave me the following list that the characters could choose from besides the ones presented in Savage Worlds:

Broken Spirit
Combat Shock
Dark Secret
Demonic Pact
Glass Jaw
Low Class
Supernatural Weakness
Weak Willed

Background edges
Down to Earth
Inner Strenght

Combat edges
Improvisational Fighter
Night Fighter

Professional edges
Arcane Background (Curses)
Fortune Teller

Social edges
Gentlemen's Club
One of the Chosen
Tower of Will
World Traveler

Weird edges
Gypsy Curse
Liquid Courage

The final think was that I decided - on the advise of the good people of the Happy Jacks RPG Podcast - that all Stealth and Notice rolls would by default be rolled by me and not the players.

Of course all of this does not make it a horror setting, that has to happen through my narration of the game and an understanding from my players that we are now playing something entirely different to our previous game of Deadlands. The focus is not on monster killing, combat and action, but on characters, horror and investigation.

Taking rules from so many different settings and therefore books, I decided to copy the rules that I had added into a small booklet. That meant that all my players needed was this booklet and their copy of the Savage Worlds Explorers Edition which each of us owns. I hope I'm not breaching any copyright rules by doing this since it is only my players I given this booklet to.

The materials I ended up with
Besides the booklet, I found that the Rippers Game Master Screen Inserts that I had purchased was more or less useless with the many rules changes I had made, so I decided to make my own screen. Using two large books, I cut of the hard cover front and back pages. I then found some large images that I printed and glued onto the front of the screen. This would be the what my players saw and I thought captured the setting as I saw it. 

For the insides I created my own using the blank screen insert that came with the Rippers Game Master Screen Inserts that I had purchased. The information I wanted there were the Psychosis Table, a page with the most important details of each PC, weapons list and an extensive list of equipment and services. At my local office supplies shop I bought some plastic things, which are normally used to hold many sheets of paper together, but they work wonderfully in keeping the inside sheets in place. This way I can change sheets without any problems.

Of course the character sheet could no longer be used either, so once again I created my own. Very much inspired by the Realms of Cthulhu character sheet which I think is wonderful. Whenever we start a new setting I create each of PCs with a specific player in mind. Again instead of just giving that a word document I created a graphical layout of their characters statistics and a brief character background on why they are now trying to fight back.
Each character would then get the following to represent his character, presented in a plain brown folder, typical of the Victorian era.

Bennies is something I always try to make as appropriate for the setting and my attention (from the Pinnacle forums) were brought to these wonderful skulls that I think are superb for the setting.

Friday, May 10, 2013

EotD: Sherlock, Watson and the Ripper

So having almost finished my London Docks board, I decided that I would start getting the minis ready that I did not already have for the free Empire of the Dead - Introduction Scenario. I had purchased the minis when one of my friends put in an order for Malifaux and I snug end this small order.

Having cursed many times at the many different parts that almost each Malifaux mini consists of (the new plastics took this to a ridiculous level), it is quite pleasing to see the minis here are in one piece. Only Watson has a separate arm and it is clear that is to give the option of either a gun or a rifle. Excellent work from Andy and Westwind.

Anyway decided to go with the rifle for Watson. Jack the Ripper is from the old Gothic Horror range and comes with a pewter base, so that had to be cut off. The three minis are now primed and I'm really looking forward to getting them painted.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rippers RPG

I have only played miniature games for the past 3 years, but rpgs for over 25 years. Like most people I started with D&D but discovered Rippers by Pinnacle Entertainment some years ago. It is a Victorian Horror RPG where the players all belong to an organisation called Rippers who hunt monsters. As far as I know the game is based on Rippers - The Horror Wars and this is incidentally how I discovered Westwind's Gothic Horror range.

When my gaming group and I first attempted Rippers it did not go well. It was the first time I had attempted a horror rpg and I naively thought that the horror element would come naturally into the game. After around 6 gaming sessions I cancelled the game because I did not feel my players got the setting and were not that interested.

Recently we wrapped up our two-year running Deadlands campaign and I have decided to give Rippers a try again. This time I have removed a lot of things from the original setting and added elements from other Savage Worlds settings such as Realms of Cthulhu and the Horror Compendium to try and get the horror feeling into the game. There will be less focus on combat and more focus on investigation and deduction. A bit like the Call of Cthulhu rpg, but without the mythos and in the Victorian era.

Whenever we start a new setting I create the characters for my players, they are quite fine with this as I always give them something different than what they have just played. I also make sure that they have a role to fill in the group. For Rippers I have created the following:

Dr. Percy Trevelyan - Alienist
Sgt. Henry Baynes - Police Sergeant
Langdale Pike - Journalist
Father Phillip Green - Priest

The astute reader will notice that their names are all picked from Sherlock Holmes short stories.

Tomorrow - hopefully we will have our first session. Chances are that I will have to cancel since my wife has a permanent illness that most of the time prevents me from leaving the house. However I'm looking forward to it, and will post an account of the session on here. I will also go into a bit more detail about the things I have prepared for the game and background/stats for each of the characters.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

London Docks - WIP

I decided to take some pictures along the way and started posting them on the Westwind forums. So now with the start of my own blog and the end of the project not to far a way here are some of the pictures that I took along the way.

The start of the blog

So I decided to start my own blog about my interest in Victorian horror - games, movies etc., having enjoyed other gamers blogs about the same subject.

Hopefully the same people will find my blog interesting as well. Enjoy!