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Today’s Daily D4 features a game I just picked at while I was out today, and some thoughts I’d like to share about an RPG campaign I ran recently. Also I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone a safe and happy new year. Hopefully it will be a year filled with lots of great games for everyone.

Mars Needs Mechanics

Nevermore Games has put out some great products, but I’ve wanted to try Mars Needs Mechanics ever since I saw it on Kickstarter a while back. Set in the city of London in 1873 the players take on the roles of one of the British Empires Aether Mechanics. Since the Queen has tasked the British Royal Academy of Space Exploration with launching an expedition to Mars within the year they’re planning to host a series of competitions to find the best mechanic in the empire to join the crew. The crew will need a mechanic who can build anything and everything that they might need on Mars quickly, efficiently, and with minimal resources. Remember this is 1873 so the crew can’t use a 3D printer when they need a wrench, they’ll have to improvise. So how do players win a chance to join the Mars bound crew? Well they’ll have collect resources, invent all sorts of useful gadgets, and maintain a steady flow of wealth while hoarding the most useful components they can get their hands on. So what sorts of things do you get to build with all of your assorted bits? Well it’s a steampunk fan’s pleasure buffet to be certain, everything from X-ray goggles and clockwork roosters to fully functional automatons. All of your inventions offer different advantages in game, but they’re also going to eat into your resources so choose what you build carefully. As an added bonus for fans of Nevermore Games it comes with an exclusive card for Chicken Caesar: Fowl Play.

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Bloodshed in the Temple of Bahamut

A few days ago my friends Sebastian and Jessica came over and we played a two players RPG session that I made up on the moment. It turned out pretty well, and it was surprisingly different from any campaign I’ve run in the past. I’m a big fan of mysteries in RPG campaigns and the employment of subterfuge, riddles, and puzzles. When I was just starting out as a GM I tried to use those things on more than one occasion and found that they tended to confound players and take them out of the game, so I gravitated away from them.

Dracker and Jessa, a dragonborn rogue on the run from his clan and Jessa a human paladin of Avandra both found themselves in Waterdeep at the start of the game. Dracker was hiding out from the members of his clan who were trying to hunt him down and punish him for dishonoring the clan. Jessa had been hired on at a number of temples to assist in training others who showed some promise in combat, and who might go on to become paladins themselves one day. They were both invited to the temple by the head priest of Bahamut, who revealed that three of the temples inhabitants had been murdered in as many nights.

The game took on a murder mystery tone and both players seemed to have a good time unraveling the mystery of what was going on in the temple. They spent several hours searching the victim’s rooms for clues, interrogating a disgraced brother in the dungeons, looking over bodies in the catacombs, and wiping out a demon worshiping cult whose members had been sacrificing the brothers to open a portal to a demonic plane. The last and only encounter that occurred during the night took place deep beneath the temple. The duo found themselves facing off against a trio of cultists and an assortment of demons that had already been summoned to serve them.

Luckily they encountered the spirit of one of the murdered brothers who ventured down into the catacombs with them, and helped them clear out the demons. In the end thanks to the blessings of Bahamut and Avandra they managed to wipe out the demons and restore the sanctity of the temple by completing a cleansing ritual. It was so much fun that I’m thinking of developing it into a complete adventure module so other people can use it. It’s also inspired me to use more clue gathering in my campaigns because I think the experience taught me how to do so more effectively.

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