January 20th, 2010

fireborn eye

Fireborn: First Impressions - The Fire Within

Previously in "First Impressions": Character creation | Gameplay/Combat

I recently talked my roleplaying group into starting up a game of Fireborn, an RPG where all the characters are reincarnated dragons living in human bodies in the modern world. This is my continuing documentation of our gameplay experiences, in hopes of providing fellow dragons and fellow roleplayers with a detailed look inside the system.

In mid-December, we finally managed to sit down and officially kick off the campaign. Although I am including a vast amount of homemade material, the core of the campaign is the published Fireborn adventure titled "The Fire Within." It advertises itself as "the official introductory adventure for the FIREBORN roleplaying game. ... This adventure showcases the best that FIREBORN has to offer, helping you start your new campaign off with all the power, mystery, and savagery of an elder dragon."

Well, it certainly is an ambitious adventure, I'll give them that.

"Act One begins by throwing the characters full-force into the action," it promises, and it does exactly that. The first two tasks that the players face are (in a flashback) averting a war through impromptu diplomacy and then (in the modern day) fighting desperately for survival against an oncoming mob of fanatical enemies. They're both big, dramatic scenes, and in theory could be a smashing introduction to a new adventure -- but in practice, with both players and GM still feeling out the rules, it overreaches.

This is not to say that it is a bad adventure. On the contrary, it's a rich source of ideas and atmosphere, with great plot hooks for an ongoing campaign. Once it recovers from its initial stumbles, it's tightly written and hard-hitting. It's just not the "perfect beginning to any FIREBORN campaign!" that they promise on the back cover. At least ... without preparation, it isn't. The good news is that, knowing what to expect, you can route around the worst of its problems.

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Closing Thoughts

Should you use this adventure module in your Fireborn campaign? Yes. Which is to say: Given the choice between including its content in your campaign and ignoring it, you could do worse than to include it. However, you must plan ahead and find ways to minimize the front-loaded problems, so that you can push through them and enjoy the good bits.

Even if you're not going to run The Fire Within, it's worth a read -- you can strip-mine it for ideas, and its expansion of some of the modern-era content from the GMG (such as how LN-7 will evaluate and treat the characters once the two groups come into contact) should be considered essential.
hiking - standing tall

State of the Baxil, 2010/01

Time for the semi-regular check-in! Department heads, report!

Dept. of Upcoming Events: "We are pleased to report that Baxil will be at Furcon over the weekend! Though he is arriving Friday night, your best chance to catch him will be Saturday or Sunday."

CFO's Office: "We look forward to not being perpetually broke. Someday."

Dept. of Video Games: "We were prepared to write off Final Fantasy XII as an uninspiring time-waster, until an underleveled battle with the esper Adrammelech that we won with 2 bleeding characters with a combined total of 200 HP (a 98%+ loss). It got our pulse pounding in ways that an FF game hasn't in years. Haste? Curaga? A Jedi needs not these things, only a desperation Quickening with two crippled, out-of-MP characters."

Dept. of Writing: "Our long-term plan remains to edit 'The Time In Her Eye.' However, recent interdepartmental transfers to VG and RP have left us short-staffed. Yes, VG, we're looking at you." (*pointed glare*)

Dept. of Muses: "Oh, hey. Did you know that the classical Japanese syllabary -- their equivalent of our 'ABCs' -- is a poem about mortality?"

Dept. of Relationships: "Though our overall sector is tanking -- with three divorces in progress among various friends -- we are pleased to report that our own holdings remain solid, with year-over-year snuggles holding steady and lengthy conversations still within acceptable tracking bounds. The increase in generalized Insecurity Index from the turbulent love market is having a negative impact on plans for acquisitions, but we're tentatively pleased with overall conditions."

Dept. of Aliases: "It has been experimentally determined that Baxil's drag-queen name is 'Pashmina Opa.' However, 'Lola Licks-A-Lot' made an unexpectedly strong showing in the popular vote."

Dept. of Roleplaying, GM Division: "Christ, my Fireborn posts aren't enough?"

Dept. of Roleplaying, Non-GM Division: "Q1 2010 is shaping up to break new ground in the field of character self-maiming, thanks to early innovation from Sascha the White, Bax's variant Monk in Mike's AD&D 3.5 campaign. While under magical boost and using an ability called Decisive Strike that doubles damage, she fumbled a punch and drew a card from the fumble deck: 'The attack hits yourself and is a critical threat.' The critical was confirmed, and she rolled 49 HP out of her total of 61! If she hadn't just gained a point of Damage Resistance as a class ability (or if she didn't have cold resistance as a racial trait), she would have done 50+ HP to herself, blown the Fortitude save vs. mass trauma, and died instantly."

Dept. of Internet References: "So basically what you're saying is that Sascha pulled a Tyson Fury?"

Dept. of Roleplaying, Life-Imitates-Art Division: "So, the last Fireborn session ended with two characters being grilled by Special Inspector McSweeney after some flagrantly illegal violence. The characters feigned ignorance; he had nothing solid to pin on them, so he gave them a verbal warning and let them walk away. The first thing that happened after Bax wrapped up game and left for home? He got pulled over by a cop for going over the speed limit. He feigned ignorance, so the cop gave him a verbal warning for 10-over and let him walk away. Bax reports being very glad he decided to let the characters off the hook."

Dept. of Spirituality: "Every time the staff meeting reaches consensus about whether to say anything on the topic of Na'vi Otherkin, someone gets cold feet and drags us back into deliberations again. Fortunately, though productivity is down, staff morale is high due to the joint project with RP/GM."

Dept. of Email Answering: "The few staff members who weren't decimated by November's meteor impact have either quit, given up in disgust, or perished in valiant holding actions against the mutant cockroach raiders. We're currently desperately seeking staff. Pay is low, morale is nonexistent, the backlog is an OSHA hazard and we're bleeding goodwill like a sword cut in a samurai movie. In other words, business as usual."