Voyage of the BSM Pandora

pandora

I learned of Voyage of BSM Pandora from a video by Geek Gamers.

It is a 1981 planet-exploration boardgame published in the Ares magazine, which is freely downloadable.

I have printed the game, using some of the convenient re-designed stuff available on Boardgamegeek.

After playing a first mission (which I lost) I agree the game has merits. In some respects, it is rather complex and I am considering simplifying some details (e.g. Supply Checks), but I am not sure how to do this without risk for the game balance. What I am more seriously thinking of is trying to throw in some RPG elements, for instance, whenever dice are rolled, add a “surprise” D6 and on a roll of 6 make something “special” happen and play a role-game scene instead of computing the action outcome on the basis of the original die roll. Mixing boardgames and role-playing is something I have done extensively in my solo games (in particular with miniature rules and various RPG systems, but I also tried a Valor-and-Victory/Ironsworn mix). With Pandora, it could be the other way round, with the boardgame providing the “strategic framework” and an RPG system guiding the details of some scenes/encounters.

There are other things I could tweak to make the game more “creative”: drawing new maps for some of the planets; making new creatures on the fly on the basis of the wide bestiary of “Pandora”; adding some back-story for at least a subset of the crew members. Years ago I tried something similar with 3:16 Carnage Among the Stars (posts in Italian, I am sorry): I am curious to see if my increased experience in solo gaming (and knowledge of a wider toolbox) would result in a more enjoyable sci-fi campaign…

 

ares

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Goldsworn 4 – Reaching Isla de la Fuente

[An Ironsworn pirate adventure set in the fictional Islas Nuevas archipelago]

Previous Events: The Danish captain Haf Moriensen has just arrived to the Roca Larga island from Europe on his ship, the Rebis. While Haf and his quartermaster Ithela are in town, Haf’s younger sister Miranda and part of the crew disappear from the ship. The Captain swears a vow to find Miranda. The girl has been imprisoned by Sir Alban Kinry, the English governor of the island: he will free her after the Rebis has secretly taken him to a nearby island and back. Haf agrees and the Rebis sails towards Isla de la Fuente. They are attacked by English pirates, but the Danish win the fight and capture their Ship.

Main character: Captain Haf Moriensen
Edge:+1 Heart:+1 Iron:+2 Shadows:+3 Wits:+2
Health:5 Spirit:3 Supply:4 Momentum:5

ASSETS
Path – WATERBORN Gather Information, Face Danger and Secure an Advantage at +1 when using water-related knowledge and skills.
Ritual – DIVINATION Gather Information by a blood-form of bibliomancy.
Custom – BATTLESHIP Mighty: Strike and Clash at +1 and to +1 harm in naval combat. Ship Health: 5

BONDS
Miranda (Haf’s sister) [oracle: a young and kind bandit, i.e. pirate]
Ithela (quartermaster of the Rebis) – an African warrior fond of bone amulets [oracle: a Dangerous and Artistic Hunter]
Morien (Haf’s brother) a Danish occultist and merchant [oracle: Confident and Adventurous]

Other NPCs
Sir Alban Kinry – the jealous and stubborn English governor of Roca Larga
Brian Reese – an English pirate defeated by the Rebis

VOWS
Background Vow: – Epic. Seize an Atlantean source of occult power that must be hidden somewhere in the Islas Nuevas. Progress: 0
Dangerous Vow: Find Miranda. Progress: 2
Journey to Isla de la Fuente, Progress:3


While the the crew celebrates their victory on the English pirates, Captain Moriensen, Sir Kinry, Ithela and a couple of other officers search the Angry Boar for valuable objects. Haf and Kinry find two interesting objects in the cabin of the English captain:
D6 1. map 2.book 3.box 4.idol 5.mask 6.jewel 2.BOOK 3.BOX

In a small chest, they find what appear to have been the possessions of a Portuguese phyisician, including a manuscript that appears to be his personal journal and a beautiful inlaid ivory box, decorated with a caduceus and Greek inscriptions. The box is empty.

Which of the two do Haf and Kinry prefer? [50/50] Haf:Book Kinry:Book

Haf tries to COMPEL Kinry in taking the box, leaving the manuscript to him. He tells Kinry that the Greek inscription is a love spell: if an objected belonging to a woman is closed in the box, she will love the owner of the box.
C:8,10 A:6+3(shadow)=9 WEAK HIT
What does Kinry ask in reply: [Oracle: Risk Honour]
Kinry agrees to take the box, but he asks in exchange that Haf swears to help him with an illegal and not exactly honourable mission he is going to attempt while in Isla de la Fuente.

Haf accepts and SWEARS A [Troublesome] VOW on his golden medallion:
C:3,10 A:6+1(Heart)=7 WEAK HIT Momentum+1=6
Haf has no idea of what the mission could be, but he feels things are going well. He almost begins to like Kinry.

That night, Haf begins reading the Portuguese journal. His knowledge of the language is limited, but the author must have been interested in alchemy. He mentions hearing first hand report of the fountain of eternal youth to be in one of the Islas Nuevas. Could this be related with the mythical source of power that Haf is searching? I mark 1 tick progress on Haf’s background vow.

Make Camp C:3,8 A:4+4(supply)=8 WEAK HIT (+1 one next action)
Journey C:5,3 A:5+1(Wits)+1=7 STRONG HIT (Journey progress now 6)

The next morning, they reach the French-ruled island of Placeforte.
SOJOURN C:6,9 A:3+1(Heart)=4 MISS
The French turn out to be hostile. They have to sell the Angry Bear at a very low price: but the damaged English ship is too slow and it’s better to get rid of it anyway.

Journey C:1,10 A:5+1(Wits)=6 WEAK HIT -1 Supply (now 3)
Journey progress: 9

MAP3

Reach Destination C:1,4 STRONG HIT +2 Health
They reach Isla de la Fuente. The island is ruled by
D6 1,2.France 3,4.England 5,6.Spain = France
With the money gained from selling the Angry Bear, they can buy all what is needed to finish repairing the Rebis, which is now in perfect shape (Ship’s health back to 5).
I mark progress on Haf’s vow to free Miranda (now progress=4)

What is Kinry’s secret and not too honourable mission?
[Oracle: Find Creature] Two months earlier, the wife of the French governor died while giving birth to her first child. [Male of Female? 50/50 Male] Kinry is the true father of the baby and he intends to kidnap it and take it to Roca Larga.


Current situation:
Health:5 Spirit:3 Supply:3 Momentum:6
“Health” of the Rebis: 5
Epic Background Vow: (source of occult power) Progress:0.25
Dangerous Vow (free Miranda) Progress:4
Troublesome Vow (help Kinry kidnap his son) Progress: 0

Goldsworn 3 – the Angry Boar

[An Ironsworn pirate adventure set in the fictional Islas Nuevas archipelago]

Previous Events: Captain’s Haf Moriensen ship, the Rebis, has just arrived to the Roca Larga island from Europe. While Haf and his quartermaster Ithela are in town, Haf’s younger sister Miranda and part of the crew disappear from the ship. The Captain swears a vow to find Miranda. The girl has been imprisoned by Sir Alban Kinry, the English governor of the island: he will free her  after the Rebis has secretly taken him to a nearby island and back.

Main character: Captain Haf Moriensen
Edge:+1 Heart:+1 Iron:+2 Shadows:+3 Wits:+2
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:2

ASSETS
Path – WATERBORN Gather Information, Face Danger and Secure an Advantage at +1 when using water-related knowledge and skills.
Ritual – DIVINATION Gather Information by a blood-form of bibliomancy.
Custom – BATTLESHIP Mighty: Strike and Clash at +1 and to +1 harm in naval combat. Ship Health: 5

BONDS
Miranda (Haf’s sister) [oracle: a young and kind bandit, i.e. pirate]
Ithela (quartermaster of the Rebis) – an African warrior fond of bone amulets [oracle: a Dangerous and Artistic Hunter]
Morien (Haf’s brother) a Danish occultist and merchant [oracle: Confident and Adventurous]

Other NPCs
Sir Alban Kinry – the jealous and stubborn English governor of Roca Larga

VOWS
Background Vow: – Epic. Seize an Atlantean source of occult power that must be hidden somewhere in the Islas Nuevas. Progress: 0
Dangerous Vow: Find Miranda. Progress: 0


At midnight, Sir Alban Kinry boards the Rebis.
Is he escorted? [Likely] NO
He is disguised as a pirate, with two pistols and a fake moustache. He asks Captain Moriensen to be introduced to the crew as “Albert”.

albert_5.jpgOUT

At dawn, the Rebis leaves the port.
Is Kinry’s destination really a nearby island? [50/50] YES
They set sails towards Isla de la Fuente, about 200 miles North-West of Roca Larga.

Undertake a [Troublesome] Journey:

Challenge:5,8 Action:1+2(Wits)=3 MISS

IMG_20180819_134941_resized_20180819_040311063.jpgOUT

In the early afternoon, a pirate ship flying English colours sails towards the Rebis (the purple ship). The Rebis steers to the West, to take advantage of the South-East wind and try to outrun the English ship, but they cannot avoid the fight: a [Dangerous] opponent.

Enter the Fray: Challenge:6,2 | Action:3+1(Heart)=4 WEAK HIT +2 Momentum (=5)
Now that they are closer, Moriensen is not impressed by the strength of the English ship: even if Sir Kinry does not seem happy with the trouble, this could be a good chance to make some money.

IMG_20180819_140137_resized_20180819_040318182.jpgOUT

Face Danger: Challenge:1,5 | Action:3+2(Wits)+1(Waterborn)=6 STRONG HIT (+1 Momentum=6)
Captain Moriensen orders to lower half of the sails, so they will offer a smaller target. The English, feeling sure that they are now faster than the Rebis, change direction, coming to a momentary stop when taking their ship’s bow through the wind: the position seems perfect to rake the Rebis with a starboard broadside, but they miss their shot. The Danes feel even more confident that they can conquer the English ship.

IMG_20180819_141016_resized_20180819_040320930.jpgOUT
Strike Miss

Strike: Challenge:6,10 | Action:1+1(Edge)+1(Mighty-Ship)=3 MISS
The Rebis turns Eastward: the Danes can rake the approaching English ship in their turn, but a gush of wind at the critical moment stops their cannonballs short.
Pay the Price: it’s stressful. (Spirit=3)
Endure Stress: Challenge:10,4 Action:5+3(Spirit)=8 Press on
The Captain feels he has given the order too soon: he should have waited for the opponent to be closer. The English are approaching swiftly and Haf has wasted the opportunity of making damage at long range.

IMG_20180819_144001_resized_20180819_040313959.jpgOUT
Face Danger:
Challenge:7,4 | Action:1+1(Waterborn)+2(Iron)=4 MISS
[Action=1 all damage will be inflicted to the Rebis, -2 Health=3]
The English manage to align the two ships side be side and then fire the port-side guns: they hit the rigs and sails, the Rebis will be even slower now. Three sailors are killed.
Companion Endure Harm – Challenge:7,10 | Action:3+3(Ship’s Health)=6 MISS (-1 Momentum=5)

Captain Moriensen assesses the damages: the hull has not been hit and the crew has already reloaded the starboard-side guns, but now also the English have had the time to do so. The two ships fire at the same moment.

IMG_20180819_144642_resized_20180819_040255895.jpgOUT
Clash!

Clash: Challenge:5,5[a match] | Action:6+1(Mighty-Ship)+1(Edge)=8 STRONG HIT
Damage:2+1(Clash)+1(Mighty-Ship)=4
I will count the match as an extra Damage point; Progress from 0 to 10 with a single broadside!
End the Fight: Challenge:5,3 vs 10 STRONG HIT

The English ship either A.Explodes or B.is Immobilized [50/50]: B
The main-mast of the Angry Boar has fallen, badly damaging the fore-mast and killing several pirates. The Rebis can easily manoeuvre to the front of the English ship, threatening it with its guns. The English Captain (Brian Reese) and his crew are glad to yield their ship and all their belongings in exchange of their lives: after helping fix the fore-mast of their ship and being searched one by one for valuable objects, the surviving Englishmen leave on board of two small boats.

Ithela takes command of the Angry Boar, together with half the crew of the Rebis, and the two ships continue their journey, with great satisfaction of Sir Kinry.
Undertake a [Troublesome] Journey: Challenge:5,3 Action:2+2(Wits)=4 WEAK HIT (Progress=3)
At dusk, they reach a desert islet only ten miles South of the French-ruled Placeforte island. They find the Angry Board totally lacking in provisions: the celebration for their victory is at the expenses of their supplies (-1=4).


Current situation:
Health:5 Spirit:3 Supply:4 Momentum:5
“Health” of the Rebis: 3
Epic Background Vow: (source of occult power) Progress:0
Dangerous Vow (free Miranda) Progress:2
Journey to Isla de la Fuente, Progress:3

Goldsworn 2 – Sir Kinry’s trick

[An Ironsworn pirate adventure set in the fictional Islas Nuevas archipelago]

Previous Events: Captain’s Haf Moriensen ship, the Rebis, has just arrived to the Roca Larga island from Europe. While Haf and his quartermaster Ithela are in town, Haf’s young sister Miranda and part of the crew disappear from the ship.

Main character: Captain Haf Moriensen
Edge:+1 Heart:+1 Iron:+2 Shadows:+3 Wits:+2
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:2

ASSETS
Path – WATERBORN Gather Information, Face Danger and Secure an Advantage at +1 when using water-related knowledge and skills.
Ritual – DIVINATION Gather Information by a blood-form of bibliomancy.
Custom – BATTLESHIP Mighty: Strike and Clash at +1 and to +1 harm in naval combat.

BONDS
Miranda (Haf’s sister) [oracle: a young and kind bandit, i.e. pirate]
Ithela (quartermaster of the Rebis) – an African warrior fond of bone amulets [oracle: a Dangerous and Artistic Hunter]
Morien (Haf’s brother) a Danish occultist and merchant [oracle: Confident and Adventurous]

VOWS
Background Vow: – Epic. Seize an Atlantean source of occult power that must be hidden somewhere in the Islas Nuevas.


On the deck of the Rebis, in front of the whole crew, Haf vows to find his sister: he solemnly swears on a golden sun-shaped medallion.

[This will be a Dangerous quest]
Swear an Iron Vow: Challenge:8,6 Action:5+1(Heart)+1(bond)=7
Weak hit: +1 Momentum.

Haf his determined, but he has no hint of what to do. He and Ithela are preparing to use blood-divination to find out more, when a guard summons the Captain to the palace of Sir Alban Kinry, the English governor of Roca Larga.

sir_alban_kinry
Kinry is a [oracle: jealous and stubborn] man. He tells Haf he has his sister and sailors. The men will be immediately returned but, before freeing Miranda, he has a small favour to ask.
[goal oracle: Travel to a place]
He must go to a nearby island, only a couple of days away [a Troublesome journey], and must do so in total secrecy. A newly arrived Danish ship that nobody knows is perfect and the Rebis seems swift and well-armed. They will leave the next day. Kinry will only stay at his destination for one day: they will be back in less than one week. Haf can only agree to this “proposal” (I mark 2 progress on the new vow) and the governor can be a useful ally for the future. Haf’s men are immediately freed and they confirm that they and Miranda have been treated well.

Current situation:
Health:5 Spirit:5 Supply:5 Momentum:3
Epic Background Vow: (source of occult power) Progress:0
Dangerous Vow (free Miranda) Progress:2

Goldsworn 1 – Captain Moriensen

After a long break in my solo games, I have thought to start something new using Ironsworn. I want to play a pirate-alchemist, something midway between Francis Drake and Prospero from the Tempest. I also want to use George Wither’s 1634 Emblem book as an oracle.

With this idea in mind, I followed the semi-random Character creation procedure that Shawn Tomkin, the creator of Ironsworn, described here.

ASSETS

I extracted 5 random Assets from both Book 1 and Book 2:
Ritual: Divination
Path: Veteran
Path: Slayer
Path: Waterborn
Companion: Hawk

For my pirate, I chose (1) Divination and (obviously) (2) Waterborn. Divination also fits well with my plans: I will use the Emblem book as a form of in-game bibliomancy.
While reading the description for the Hawk Companion, I noticed that the nearby Horse companion can easily be re-skinned as a (3) Battleship asset:

Battleship Name: Rebis
Your battleship is your home and your sailing fortress:
[ ] Swift: When you Face Danger +edge using your ship’s speed, or when you Undertake a Journey, add +1.
[ ] Well armed: When you Enter the Fray or Secure an Advantage +heart by attacking or boarding another ship, add +1 and take +1 momentum on a hit.
[X] Mighty: When you Strike or Clash with another ship, add +1 and inflict +1 harm on a hit.

I than rolled a 50-50 die for the sex of the Character: male.
His nationality, I wrote a simple D6 table
1.Spanish 2.English 3.French 4.Dutch 5.Portuguese 6.other
I rolled a 6 so I added 6 more:
1.Italian 2.German 3.Danish 4.Sweden 5.Polish 6.African
3: Danish

I could then use the Ironlander oracle for my hero: Captain Haf Moriensen

Age: 22+d20=31

STATS

I rolled for the +3 stat: Shadow

And assigned the others:

Edge:+1  Heart:+1  Iron:+2  Shadow:+3  Wits:+2

BACKGROUND VOW

I used the goal oracle: Seize Power
Given that my hero is some kind of alchemist, I asked if the power he is after is mundane or occult (50/50): occult.

The Rebis has sailed from Europe to the Islas Nuevas archipelago. Haf is sure that these islands at the other side of the world must be the remains of Atlantis. In one of these islands, an immense source of power is hidden: the first initiate that will find it will be the most powerful man in the world.

Background Vow (epic): find the Atlantean source of occult power

BONDS

1) NPC role and qualities: a Dangerous and Artistic Hunter
Ithela is the quartermaster of the Rebis. Originally an African warrior, she was captured by slavers, together with several of her companions. Haf’s father freed them during one of his journeys along the shores of Africa. Now, Ithela’s companions form about half of the crew of the Rebis. Ithela carves disturbing objects out of the bones of the animals and people she kills.

2) NPC role and qualities: a Kind and Young Bandit Pirate
Miranda is Haf’s sister. She is 17 and this is her first long journey.

3) I decide that the journey of the Rebis was financed and organized by the father of Haf and Miranda: Morien Davidsen. A mystic (I decide). Qualities: Confident and Adventurous. He is now too old to take part in this expedition, but he hopes to stay in touch with Haf by magical means.

haf5.jpgOUT
INCITING INCIDENT
Oracle: Someone is captured
Is it Miranda? (likely) YES

After the long journey from Danmark, the Rebis has arrived at the island of Roca Larga. Haf, Ithela and most of the crew disembark. Haf wants Miranda to stay on board, under the protection of about ten trusted sailors, until it is clear that the town is safe. But when Haf returns to the Rebis, Miranda’s cabin is empty.
Is any sailor missing? (50/50) YES
Are all ten missing? (unlikely) YES

….to be continued

Chasing Superlizard

I have played a new game with a modified version of the Simple Super Hero rules by Jones and Moore.
Some of the things I have changed:

  • attacks are a single opposed roll Damage vs Block – if the attack is not blocked, the target loses 1 HP
  • I have drastically reduced the number of HP (3 for Super Heroes, 1 for Humans)
    ranged attacks are a distinct ability (by default, they are not possible for a Super Hero)
  • the number of actions per round is fixed (2 for Super Heroes, 1 for Humans)
  • when I roll doubles, I treat them as “critical success” granting some bonus, but not as extreme as adding the two values in the original rules

The game was fun, but I will have to run a more combat-oriented scenario.

  Puck Snowbird Northstar Superlizard
Body Strong Agile Agile Strong
Nature Mutant Mutant Tech Mutant
         
Movement Low+1 High High Low+1
Melee Att. High+1 Low Low High
Tech Block Low Low High Low
Mutant Block Low+1 Low+1 Low High
Ranged Att. Low+1 Low

In this case, the two teams had to retrieve a target hidden in one of five locations (the pink cubes). Superlizard was accompanied by 2 squads of four humans each.
Puck, Northstar and Snowbird formed the other team.

a1.jpg

Northstar and Snowbird easily reach two of the possible targets (they are both fast). Puck lags behind. Superlizard rolls a great double five on movement, so he is able to move 5+1(his bonus)+2(critical bonus)=8 twice in a single round: he also reaches a possible target cube.

b2.jpg

Superlizard is the lucky one: he finds the target! The other team moves forward to intercept him before he leaves the board.

d4.jpg

In the following chase, Puck is too slow to have a chance. Northstar and Snowbird have to fight Superlizard’s human minions and they are both wounded. One of the humans rolls a critical attack (Snowbird’s Tech Block is LOW: it’s 4 vs 1) and inflicts a 2 HP wound. Anyway, Superlizard is fast enough to reach the border before the others reach him.

e5.jpg

Another Simple Super Hero skirmish…

I have played a new Super-Hero game with a modified (mostly simplified) version of the Simple Super Hero Tabletop Rules by Jones and Moore. Some of the changes are based on a GooglePlus discussion with neuzd.

The characters were:
Puck (Strong,Mutant)
Movement: L+1
Attack: H+1
Tech Block: L
Mutant Block: H-1

Northstar (Agile, Tech)
Movement: H+1
Attack: L
Tech Block: H
Mutant Block: L
vs
6 goons lead by Snowbird (Agile, Mutant)
Movement: H+1
Attack: L
Tech Block: L
Mutant Block: H

All Superheroes have 10 HPs. They perform two actions per turn.
Humans only have 1 HP and perform a single action per turn.

Updates with respect to the original moves:

  • The most relevant change is that I removed the Damage/Evade abilities: combat is resolved by a single opposed roll Attack vs Block
  • Strong heroes have 10 HP, like Agile heroes
  • Humans have 1 HP only
  • The number of available actions does not depend on the dice
  • I omitted the -1 modifier for ranged attacks
  • A Hero can have two +1 modifier and a -1 “fault”, or just a single +1 modifier

The scenario involved retrieving a target object hidden in one of six possible locations (the pink cubes). Checking a location requires a full action adjacent to it.

1a.jpg

Northstar and Snowbird are quick in reaching the doors of the two buildings.

2b.jpg

The buildings provide no result. Puck moves towards the ambulance (he is behind it in the photo), while the goons reach the cars in the foreground.

3c.jpg

Puck and Northstar check the two vehicles on the left, with no luck. Things go well for the two goons in the foreground: target found!

4d.jpg

Northstar rushes to stop the goons from taking the target out of the field. Snowbird wound him with a ranged attack. Puck slowly moves towards the centre of the board to join the action.

5e.jpg

Puck puts two goons out of combat with ranged attacks. Northstar does the same with the two who had the objective: the heroes are also wounded in these fights. This gives the time to Snowbird to reach Northstar, and her first blow is lethal. A double 3 vs the Low block (1) does 5 HPs of damage is enough to put the already wounded Northstar out of combat.

6f.jpg

Again, it was an interesting game. The changes seem to make things a little faster. I would like to find a way to make the goons slightly more effective…