<![CDATA[Happy Monster Press - Blog]]>Thu, 16 Aug 2018 12:34:03 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Savage Worlds Setting Review: Titan Effect]]>Thu, 16 Aug 2018 16:03:39 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/savage-worlds-setting-review-titan-effect
If you like the idea of the Secret Avengers and love conspiracy theories, Titan Effect (by Knight Errant Media) might be the Savage setting for you! Titan Effect is a modern-era covert operations setting with superpowered agents throwing down for control of the future of humanity. I backed the Kickstarter and received the final setting PDF recently, so let's dive in:

The PDF is 140 pages at 7"x10" (graphic novel format). It begins with a grayscale comic that sets the scene of Afghani fighters with AK-47s trying and failing to fight off werebeasts. From there, the book provides a solid overview of the world, including the presence of psychic powers and bio-engineered super soldiers, as well as the various covert factions contending behind the scenes for power. PCs by default are members of SPEAR, an independent covert ops agency that fights to prevent chaos and preserve peace. Rival agencies include the Olympians, a sinister cabal of eugenicists and their corporate/military arm, ARES Corporation; The Directorate, a group of Russian psychics trying to restore the Soviet Union; TYPHON, a post-human terror group; and the Order of the Holy Mystery, a secret and ancient branch of the Roman Catholic Church.

Character creation is fairly standard for Savage Worlds, but does require use of the Super Powers companion. One thing I would have liked to have seen was an option to play a non-powered character - this could be similar to the MARS backgrounds in Savage RIFTS where non-supers start with more experience to compensate. PCs have certain mandatory skills from basic training, and the setting provides several new Hindrances and Edges. One of my favorite of the latter is CQB (for Close Quarters Battle), which allows use of submachineguns, assault rifles, and shotguns in close combat. This Edge fits thematically with the idea of special ops teams breaching enemy strongholds and moving in fast and hard a la the SAS or Delta Force. In the Skills section, Titan Effect uses the Athletics and Thievery skill combination from the Pinnacle Flash Gordon setting.

The setting also provides some new Powers for use with the Super Powers Companion rules, as well as a revised method for equipment selection based on the characters' seniority in SPEAR. The latter is an excellent method for representing a combination of a powerful sponsoring organization and realistic resource constraints. Multiple new weapons are provided in the gear section, maybe more than are strictly necessary, as many differ only in small ways from each other; however, the Tom-Clancey-esque flavor of the setting probably attracts players who would care about the minutia of firearms. Some nice espionage gear and modern armor rounds out the gear section.

Titan Effect uses several setting rules from both the Core Book and the Super Powers companion; making the companion mandatory isn't an issue for me, but may be for some players. The Setting Rules also include some basic rules for hacking and demolitions, as well as a "Psychic Surge" rule allowing characters to trade Fatigue for improvements to their superpowers. Certain powers that don't fit the theme of the setting (like Super Sorcery) are banned, and the remainder are grouped into four families - characters can only take powers from one family (or two with an Edge).

In the GM section, the book includes a more detailed alternate history of the world and a breakdown of the structure and personnel of SPEAR. Each rival organization also gets a lengthy background section, including details of how they relate to the others. This section taps into a LOT of conspiracy theories, so if you know who the Trilateral Commission, Opus Dei, and the Bilderburg group are, you'll have fun with this alternative take on them. The GM section also includes optional rules for things like psychic dampers that have the potential to be game-breaking, and therefore should definitely be used in moderation and for maximum effect.

A lengthy part of the GM section covers the various steps of a SPEAR mission, from briefing through kitting out to debriefing afterwards. Along with this description comes a really nice mission generator and a set of story hooks that should allow any GM with a modicum of experience to put together an adventure in short order.

The "Watch List" provides a bestiary of opponents both mundane and superhuman, with most of the key players in the various factions detailed out with statistics. One thing that I would like to have seen was more "middle manager" level characters in the rival groups, since those characters are more appropriate opponents for less-experienced PCs. The description of the key characters in the Watch List is excellent.

One thing that unfortunately didn't make the Kickstarter cut for Titan Effect is a Plot Point campaign, although there are certainly plenty of hooks that could form the basis for a long term story. Overall, I can definitely see the appeal of Titan Effect, and hope that Knight Errant comes out with more supporting material over the next few years.
<![CDATA[Legion of Liberty Session 13]]>Tue, 14 Aug 2018 16:10:56 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/legion-of-liberty-session-13
In Ireland, word reaches the Legion that the General Washington they rescued in New York was actually an impostor - the real Washington was transported to England in secret. Agents of the Culper Ring have determined that Washington is imprisoned by the Order of the Seventh Circle, possibly in the London Hellfire Club, where ever that may be. The heroes depart at once for London to mount a rescue after being assured of space on a smuggling ship held there for their use.

On arrival in London, the heroes hit the streets to see if they can determine the location of the Hellfire Club. Francis and Jacoby quickly pick up rumors on the docks of upper-class Londoners frequenting the Shoreditch parish, specifically a tavern called the George and Vulture. With a location in hand, the Legion attempt to disguise themselves as nobles pretending to be slumming, except for Suzanna, who shapeshifts into a horse.

The group arrives at the tavern and enters, to find a wide range of guests drinking ale and gin on the main floor. Suzanna shifts from horse to rat and scouts the inn, while Godot seeks the company of some gentlewomen who have clearly had too much gin. Godot easily persuades one of them to accompany him to the upstairs rooms where the Hellfire debauchery tends to occur, and questions her about the nature of the club, especially about the Order of the Seventh Circle. She has no knowledge of that order, but lets him know that she is petitioning to join the Order of the Second Circle, the sponsors of the club.

As Godot returns, Suzanna reports in that there seems to be no sign of Washington. However, Francis and Jacoby spot an Order minion descending into the basement. They start a fight over spilled beer as a distraction and head downstairs. There, Francis's experience as a carpenter allows him to identify a false ale cask that conceals a passage further down. At the bottom of the stairs, the Legion finds a corridor lined with doors and ending in another; Francis hears the faint sound of Washington's voice from the end of the hall. The group manages to sneak to the door, avoiding some minions working in the rooms along the hall, and enters, to find Washington bound and a stranger greeting them.

The stranger explains that he works in service of British hegemony and that he hopes the Legion will opt to work with him rather than against him. He explains the carnage that he claims to have seen 150 years earlier during the English Civil War when Parliamentarians took over government from the monarchy, and says that he expects the same if the colonists succeed in their bid for independence. He also notes that he could be summoning guards, but that he believes that the group will see reason. He is unfazed by Godot teleporting behind him, and easily evades Godot's attempt to grab him.

Godot, however, manages to convice the stranger that he wants to defect, and offers to shake hands, erasing the stranger's memory for a moment; Francis takes advantage of that moment to seize Washington and exit at superspeed as the stranger yells for his guards. While Francis fights two of the guards in the hall, the other four plus the stranger prove to be tough opposition for the Legion, and all of them opt to make a run for it, especially after Suzanna is wounded.

The heroes lead the minions of the Order on a chase through the streets of London, using their skills and abilities to set impromptu ambushes and eventually to finish them off, allowing them to take a grateful Washington to their rescue ship.
<![CDATA[Som'er Teeth Jones and Crew]]>Mon, 13 Aug 2018 16:11:09 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/somer-teeth-jones-and-crewI've been doing quite a bit of painting lately in between playtesting Legion of Liberty. Without further ado, I present the Bayou Boss, Som'er Teeth Jones and his crew of gremlins and skeeters, from the game and land of Malifaux.
<![CDATA[Legion of Liberty Session 12]]>Tue, 07 Aug 2018 16:42:25 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/legion-of-liberty-session-12
With the Oneida issue settled, Washington dispatches the Legion to Ireland in the hope of fomenting discord in the British home islands. The Legion's orders are to make contact with Henry Grattan, an Irish Parliamentarian in favor of home rule, and promise him superhuman assistance if he begins a rebellion against Great Britain.

The heroes take ship for Ireland on a smuggling sloop, and arrive in Cork without any incident more serious than Francis's severe seasickness. In Cork, they take a post-chaise carriage to Dublin, accompanied by two Irish merchants, who spend the first part of the journey arguing the merits of British control of their homeland. Godot seizes the opportunity to foment some discord by calling the more pro-British merchant a "Cromwell sympathizer", which prompts the merchant to take a swing at him. A small melee ensues, during which the merchant is restrained and memory-wiped and the seasick Francis vomits all over the pro-Irish merchant. The squabble leads to a delay in the trip as the coachmen clean out the coach and the merchant changes clothes.

During the delay, Godot engages in conversation with the merchant, and reveals some of his mission. The merchant is happy to draw a map of Dublin and show the location of the homes of prominent advocates of home rule, including Grattan. On arrival at Dublin, the group changes into more non-descript clothing and acquires a cart, with the goal of sneaking into Grattan's house disguised as deliverymen.

As the group approaches the house, they spot Kahwihta and the two superhumans from the battle of Saratoga approaching them. The superhumans order them to halt as rebels, just as Jacoby spots another Kahwihta with a musket on a neighboring rooftop. At first, the heroes try to maintain a low profile, but with Kahwihta's companions firing ice bolts and manifesting fire swords, they quickly opt for full-on super battle. Francis manifests his fire axe and engages the exploding man, while Jacoby moves in on Kahwihta and Godot fires on the other woman. Suzanna shifts into a cow form to hide, and then promptly charges and gores the woman, injuring her. Jacoby takes a hit from the ice bolts, but deals some significant damage with his claws... and then Suzanna shifts into a dragon. Jacoby and all three enemies are shocked by this sudden appearance, and all but the exploding man flee the scene. Suzanna picks up the exploding man in her claws - he detonates, but does not damage her, simply using the opportunity to run.

Grattan is very impressed by the Legion's powers - unfortunately, the very public display of colonial sympathies robs him of some of his influence in Parliament, and over the next few weeks, he is unable to get a serious revolt underway.
<![CDATA[Legion of Liberty Session 11]]>Tue, 31 Jul 2018 16:19:07 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/legion-of-liberty-session-11
With their ambush set, the Legion awaited the arrival of the British artillery train. When it arrived, the colonists were encouraged to see that the British forces were small, but puzzled by the presence of several civilians with the train, including two carrying swords - one of them a woman. The ambush began with Suzanna, shapeshifted into elephant form, charging into the wagons and knocking two of them into the river. The two sword-carrying civilians both fired bolts of magic towards the colonists, revealing themselves as hostile superhumans.

Francis charged the enemy man while Jacoby did the same for the enemy woman. Francis struck out with his fire axe but the attack was deflected... and then the man simply exploded, injuring Francis badly. The man reappeared in the same spot, his clothes tattered and his weapons missing. Meanwhile, Jacoby managed to grapple the woman, but her extreme strength soon broke her loose. After missing a shot at the woman, Godot leapt to Francis's aid with his saber, and the two of them managed to avoid damage from a blast of lightning and another explosion from the male superhuman. The woman manifested a burning greatsword and managed to deal a wound to Jacoby with it, but then the man saw how badly the overall battle was going and that Suzanna had finished with the wagons and was now charging him, still in elephant form. After taking a hit from Suzanna's tusks, he called for a retreat, and Godot taunted them as they left.

Without their artillery, the British were soundly defeated at the battle of Saratoga. However, General Gates had more work for the Legion. The Oneida tribe of the Iroquois Confederation, the only tribe currently allied with the colonists, was threatening to join its fellow tribes on the side of the British. Gates dispatched the Legion to negotiate and as a show of strength. When they arrived, the heroes were dismayed to find their nemesis Kahwihta negotiating for the British, although she left most of the talking to a British-sympathizing war chief. Despite this setback, Godot was able to convince the Oneida to maintain a more neutral stance and to allow Oneida warriors who chose to fight with the colonists to do so.