Saturday, July 19, 2008

Episode 1 "Sidetracked"

Forward: This is the first episode report for the Serenity Midnight Rider rpg campaign. The episode covered in this report was Episode 1 "Sidetracked" which was played on July 12th 2008. This was actually the second session of the campaign but the first session was mainly character creation and getting the crew together:

Here's a funny shot as we were getting things up. Robert, on the left, is playing the role of "Red". Red is a nature lover so Robert was trying to get into character.

Episode 1: "Sidetracked" November 12th 2511 (six months after Unification Day) near the planet Heinlein.

The UD 12 Chickenhawk Light Transport "Puddlejumper" is making it's way from Belux to Harvest near the edge of civilized space. Captain Benjamin Obannon and his crew had picked up a few passengers on Belux and a job transporting some small arms for a local gun runner named Sugar. It was a tight and slow journey. Seven people were packed aboard the small ship for a three day journey. Just a few months earlier Ben had been living a fairly good life on Ariel but after the war he had become disillusioned with the Alliance and life in the Core after government officials refused to give him details about his family who they said had died on Miranda during a teraforming disaster. He decided he needed to get away. Far away. He gathered his savings and purchased a UD 12 Chickenhawk Light Transport and named it Puddlejumper. He picked up the other four members of his crew on Persephone. Kate Simon had saved him for a couple thugs during a bar brawl. She was a real Browncoat who had fought at Du Kang. She took him to see Josie Rivers a medic who signed up after helping him. They were all set to leave the planet when the Puddlejumper developed a problem with it's atmospheric thrusters. Fortunately Josie knew a mechanic who could help them. Toni was a good mechanic also looking to get off Persephone. It was a big crew for a small ship but Captian Obannon could think of worse fates that sharing long trips with three attractive and capable women.
The four had reached Belux and they had yet to find a decent job. Not certain what to do or how they were going to get a job their luck turned when they were approached by an Asian man who claimed his name was Bob Johns. Mr. Johns had got them the gun running job with a local gun runner called Sugar. He had also suggested they hire a man named Red Wittmore as additional security. Red was a big man with a big gun and a big axe. Ben was reluctant to add him to the crew but he looked like he might be handy in a fight. Just as they were getting ready to leave the planet Kate ran into a man named "Duce" who she had fought with at Du Kang. Duce had been at Serenity Valley as well and he wasn't doing too well. Duce agreed to help with the job if they would get him off Belux. Things went well for the first day and a half of their journey between Belux and Harvest but unfortunately things never go well for long.

"This is the Alliance Cruiser Aldran. We are doing a routine check of ships entering the Heinlein system. Power down your engines and prepare to be brought in."

With not much time to act the crew quickly stashed their cargo in the transport small modular toilet and prepared to be tractored onto the cruiser. On the cruiser each member of the crew was taken to a separate room for questioning while a pair of feds searched their ship. After standard questioning the crew and passengers were released. All except Kate and Duce who were being held for further questioning. The Alliance Captain claimed that they would be released at Galveston station if they checked out and could be picked up in a few days. There was nothing the crew could do but comply. Fortunately the feds had missed the weapons catch that had been hastily hidden in the modular toilet. Just as the Puddlejumper entered the Heinlein system Ben picked up a ship on the long range sensors. The ship was on an intercept course but fortunately it was not an Alliance ship. It was a Firefly class transport.

"Hody there Puddlejumper this is Captain Jonas Smitts of the Bulldog. You might want to be careful there's are a lot of Alliance patrols running through this area. You might want to consider an alternate route."

Captain Smitts provided Ben with an alternate route that ran along the rings of Heinlein. It was a dangerous route and one known to pirates and other undesirables but it would also be dangrous if the Puddlejumper was stopped by another Alliance Patrol. Captain Obannon and his crew decided to risk the alternate route.

"This is the Pathfinder transport "Hopeful" requesting assistance. We are under attack! We think it's pirates or.........."

The Puddlejumper had only been on it's new course for a few hours when it received a distress call from a Pathfinder transport called "Hopeful". The Automated message was a couple days old and repeated itself every 30 seconds. The Hopeful was adrift in space and had apparently been on exactly the same course as The Puddlejumper. The crew could see some debris floating in a loose orbit around the massive ship. There were some signs of power though the main drive was shut down. The systems that were on seemed to be running on emergency power supply but only life support and a few minimal systems were up. After hacking into the ships system they opened one of the massive bay doors and landed their ship inside. Once the airlock was secure and the atmosphere restored the crew stepped out to explore the ship. The shuttle bay they were in was large enough to hold a mid bulk transport but it was empty save for a few odd pieces of equipment laying around. There was no sign of a struggle but as soon as the doors to the corridor leading out of the bay were open one could easily see the ship had been taking by force. The door itself had numerous bullet holes in it on this side. The walls had been shot up pretty good as well. A body lay half way down the hallway and another could be seen laying just at the T intersection to the main corridor. Both bodies were wearing well kept grey jumpsuits and they each had an empty black nylon holster hug from a belt made of a similar material.

As the crew made their way up the main corridor towards the bridge they found several other bodies dressed in a similar fashion as well as a few wearing civilian attire. Mostly men or women in good shape who may have been resisting the attackers. On the bridge was a similar scene. there were at least a dozen men and women slain here including a uniformed man who was most likely the captain. Josie and Toni each set down at different control panels to check the ships sensors and search for survivors. They discovered what looked like some life signs coming from main engineering. The rest of the ship appeared empty. They checked the ships security feeds and noted that most of the ships cargo holds were empty. One hold still had some mining equipment that appeared to have been damaged by a grenade or small explosive during the fighting. The ships manifest listed 200 passengers as well as quite a lot of mining equipment. They were independent miners bound for Haven.

A decision was made to investigate the possible life signs. No one had responded to the coms when Ben had tried to hail anyone on board. As they moved back down the main corridor they decided to check in on their ship just in case the pirates had returned or if someone aboard was trying to steal it as a way off. Just as they reached the bay door they heard a set of doors behind them slide open. 5 armed men stepped into the corridor with their guns pointed at the crew. One of the men identified himself as Chief Engineer Williams and asked what the crew was doing aboard his ship. After explaining themselves Williams and his men lower their weapons. Williams and the other men had survived the attack. A ship called The Bloodborn had attacked them two days ago. The Bloodborn crew are known pirates and slavers. After killing any resisters they took the rest of the crew and passengers captive. Williams overhead their captain to take a group of captives to the "Hog Farm" on Lilac. Williams offers to pay the crew 1000 credits if they will help in a rescue. The crew agrees to take a sidetrack to Lilac to try and help the people taken there by the slavers.

The Puddlejumper lands at New Hope on Lilac later that day. New Hope was a small spaceport typical of rim planets. It had a few buildings near the spaceport but most of the locals lived on farms and ranches outside town. Ben and Red headed to The Cantina to ask some questions. Toni headed to Wally's Repair Shop to look for a new long range communications array since the one on the Puddlejumper had become damaged taking off from Belux. Josie and Bob elected to stay aboard the ship.

After looking around the cantina for a bit Ben met a local man named Rusty Mulligan who seemed to know the area pretty well. Rust knew of "The Hog Farm" but said people stayed away from it. He claimed he could take them out to have a look at it if they fixed his hover mule. Fortunately Toni had just finished installing the new communications array so she got straight to work on it.

Kate: "Hey Duce we gotta get out of here! I've got a plan"

Meanwhile Kate and Duce were being transferred from the Aldran to Galveston station. They were the only prisoners being transferred aboard the Alliance Patrol boat. The ship was being manned by a skeletal crew of 8 with four marines on guard duty.

Kate: "Oh man I don't think I should have ate those beans. Blaaaarg!"

Kate and Duce waited until only two marines were on duty and then Kate decided to pull the sick prisoner ploy. Despite the fact that it's the oldest trick in the book the marine guards bought it hook line and sinker. When one of the guards entered the cell to look after Kate Duce quickly pulled his gun from the guards holster and shot the other guard. They then wrestled the surprised guard down and locked him inside the cell.

Kate: "Don't be a Hero!" Blam! Duce: "Guess he didn't hear you".

After getting out of the cell the former browncoats made their way to the weapons lockers. This was a fairly easy task since the crew was so sparse. After arming themselves they found the two other marines in the galley eating lunch. Despite the fact that they were caught with their pants down one of the marines made a move for his gun. Kate shot him where he stood.

Kate: "Don't be a Hero!" Duce: "Better listen to her she's a might twitchy today."

With the marines out of the way the rest of the crew gave up without a fight. Kate and Duce loaded the crew onto the escape pods then got out of the area as quickly as they could.

Ben: "Wow it really is a hog farm. Who would have thought?" Rusty: "Yup."

Ben and Rusty scouted the Bloodborn Pirates hog farm where they were keeping some of the captives they took off the "Hopeful". The hog farm was in fact a working hog farm but there were also pens for slaves. No doubt the pirates kept the pigs and humans in the same location. There were no defensive weapons only a few guards doing rounds. One of the buildings did have a very large communications array that Ben assumed could be used to call for help in the event of a raid.

Shortly after Ben got back to town he got a wave from Kate and Duce. They had wisely decided not to fly to any nearby planets but they needed a place to rendezvous with the rest of the crew. Ben told them to meet him at the Hopeful's coordinates. After hiding the Patrol Boat on the dark side of the Hopeful's wreckage they returned to Lilac to formulate a plan for assaulting the hog farm.

They crew decided to hit the farm at night. They would all sneak into position then Josie would sneak up and let the pigs loose. In the confusion Kate would take out the communications array with her grenade launcher. Toni would then ground out and cut through the electric fence then break into the building holding the captives and get them out. After the pirates are neutralized Ben and Bob will fly the Puddlejumper in and pick up the captives.

Kate, Toni, and Josie take up a position on the eastern hill overlooking the building that the captives are in.

Red also hides on the eastern side of the compound in a stand of trees.

Duce takes up a sniper position on a hill on the western side while the crew members from the Hopeful hide in the trees near his position.

The crew is in position waiting for the signal to attack.

Josie sneaks up along the fence line and carefully opens the gate undetected.

Josie spooks the pigs as Toni sneaks up to the electric fence.

The pigs run loose. One guard runs to the farm house while another tries in vain to get the pigs under control.

Pirate: "Come here piggy. Let's get you back in the pen"

More pirates come out of the farm house and other buildings to try and catch pigs.

BOOM! Kate makes a direct hit on the communication array knocking it out.

The pigs panic further and the pirates are taken compleatly by supprise.

Red charges a pair of pirates from out of the black. His face black out, wielding and axe and screaming He cuts one of them down with one swing.


Duce starts picking off pirates from his concealed position while the crew from the Hopeful move into a flanking position.

The Hopeful crewmen assault the farmhouse with only light resistance.

Red cuts a path of destruction but pays for it taking some nasty wounds.

Red decides to duck into one of the buildings rather than stand out in the open getting shot. He discovers a catche of loot in the communications building.

Some of the pirates try to sneak around the back side of the farmhouse but Kate sees them and lobs a grenade at their position. The grenade hits a fule drum setting off a powerful explosion. The last few pirates are killed isntantly and everyone near the farmhouse is knocked off their feet stunned by the blast.

After the farm is secured the Puddlejumper swoops in to pick up the captives. Some of the crew take some of the pirate vehicles and three large barrels of fine wiskey and the agree to meet up at the town of Lonewatch which lies north of the farm quite a bit farther away than New Hope.

The captives from the hog farm are quite happy to have been rescued and the crew of the Hopeful pay the 1,000 credits they promised for the job. Ben and the crew of the Puddlejumper stash the wiskey and the two trucks taken from the pirates at a storage facility in Lonewatch as well as several small arms Duce and Kate took from the Alliance Patrol boat.

Reunited on the Puddlejumper the crew takes off from Lilac. Next stop Harvest and their delivery for Sugar.

Roll Credits

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Crew of the Puddlejumper in Miniature

Well I've finished up the miniatures for the crew members. Here's a group shot. From left to right; Kate, Josie, Ben, and Toni. My wife painted Toni, her character, but the rest were painted by me. I'll include a better shot of each mini when I do the character spotlight.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Crew of the Puddlejumper

Although the Midnight Rider campaign has a cast of seven only four are actually part of the ships crew. This image of the crew was created by Russel Petree who's playing the part of Ben (second from the left). From left to right: Toni the ships mechanic, Ben the ships captain and pilot, Josie the ships doctor, and Kate the first officer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Making of the Midnight Riders Serenity Campaign: Part 1 The Puddlejumper

The UD12 Chickenhawk Ultralight Transport "Puddle Jumper"
I always use miniatures when playing RPGs. Mostly because they make combat much easier to keep track of. That and they look cool and I enjoy that aspect of the hobby as well. Midnight Riders is a Greenhorn campaign though it would seem that most GMs give their crews a nice shiny ship what can fly from one end of the Verse to the other easy peasy. Well....Homey don't play that. I like my crews to earn their keep and if all they can afford starting out is an over glorified long range shuttle that's all they get. Enter the UD12 'Chickenhawk' class ultralight transport. This one's affectionately named by it's owner Ben "Puddlejumper" because he used it to make short hops from one planet to the next from Ariel all the way out to Beylix. While these ships can usually make the journey from one planet to it's closest neighbor they are really not designed for that purpose. They are however excellent craft for transporting cargo and or passengers between a planet and it's moons or to a larger ship in orbit and as such they are popular on planets with a larger number of terraformed moons or space stations in orbit. Because of their small size they often serve as heavy shuttles or captains launches on larger ships.

This excellent paper model can be downloaded from this site. The UD12 was originally designed as a model for the Infinity miniature combat game but we felt it really had a look that fit the Verse well. The site and the instructions are in Spanish but the instructions included some great visual clues as to how to put the ship together and oddly enough all the parts on the download were in English so that helped as well.

I'm quite bad at assembling paper models for some reason. I always make a mess of them. I can do plastic models. I can paint and convert pewter miniatures fairly well. I'm pretty good at building terrain and I can even scratch build ok but with paper models I'm all thumbs. My wife is very good at them though so I get to enjoy these kinds of highly affordable and attractive despite being completely incompetent at building them myself.

Point of fact: My wife Michelle is also playing Toni the crew's mechanic so in fact this ship was assembled by it's mechanic and I'm quite lucky to have such a lovely and talented wife who enjoys cutting folding and gluing little bits of printed out cardstock the likes of which make me crazy.

Cast and Crew Feature: Nathan Miller Game Master

Nathan Miller Game Master

On the 'Verse' as an RPG setting.
What is it about the Firefly/Serenity setting that makes it so appealing as a roleplaying setting? One word: Freedom. Not only is the quest for freedom a major theme of the show but 'Verse' itself seems be be in a constant struggle between freedom and security. Dozens of planets and hundreds of moons provides a great deal of freedom when deciding where to take the story and every one of those worlds has it own culture and feel. The Verse is a vast frontier full of mystery and danger. Find a ship. Find a crew. Take jobs as they come. Keep flying. What more could you want in a roleplaying setting? Then there are the other features of the setting that make it unique. Cowboys and spaceships, horses and hovercrafts, whisky and fancy women, big shiny cities and backwater cow towns. No elves, no orcs, no aliens, just plain old folk some good some bad some only ok. A very unique setting with endless possibility.

About my own self.
Somehow I just can't get past the fact that the first real article on this blog will be about me. Seems a bit uppity but then again I am putting this thing together and I can always get ahold of myself for an interview right? Anyway my name is Nathan Miller. I was born west of the Mississippi and south of the Mason-Dixon in a hospital in Sedalia Missouri on September 20th of 1974. I grew up Warsaw Missouri a small town of 2,000 in the northern Ozarks. I currently live in Warrensburg Missouri. I've been playing roleplaying games and miniature games since I was 11 years old and I started out as the groups GM. I've always had a strong interest in history, culture, and art. I paint, sculpt, do photography, and enjoy making things in general. I'm married to a beautiful woman who also plays RPGs and miniature games and we have an 11 year old daughter who's started playing games with us as well although she won't be playing in the Serenity setting for a few years. Anyway enough about me.
About the Midnight Rider Campaign
Midnight Rider is set 6 months after the first Unification Day. The fires of the Unification War or The War of Alliance Aggression, depending oh what side you were on, still smolder. Some folks ain't done fightin like the "Dust Devils" and the so called Alliance Militia forming up out on the Border and the Rim. The 7 person crew of the "Puddle Jumper" a UD12 'Chickenhawk' ultra-light transport have found themselves way out on the edge of the Verse looking for work, and hopefully a bigger ship, among the moons and planets of the Rim. The Alliance presence is heavy but unfamiliar with how things work out on the Rim. They plod along trying in vain to establish order on lawless planets. If that weren't enough to make things bad for the folks out on the frontier there have been reports of savage raiders from the edge of space. These "Reavers", as they have come to be called, attack without warning or provocation descending on settlements and ships murdering everyone they can find. There are some who say they are cannibals and that they do other more gruesome things than merely kill the folk they attack. The Alliance of course denies they exist at all but there are too many reports to dismiss them as campfire stories and tall tales. Out on the Rim the dangers are plenty but there's work to be had for them that look hard enough and ain't too picky as to the manner of work. They got a crew. They got a ship. They gotta keep flyin.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Serenity: Midnight Rider teaser

Well, Ive got to run to keep from hiding,
And I'm bound to keep on riding.
And Ive got one more silver dollar,
But I'm not gonna let them catch me, no,
Not gonna let em catch the midnight rider.
And I don't own the clothes I'm wearing,
And the road goes on forever,
And Ive got one more silver dollar,
But I'm not gonna let them catch me, no
Not gonna let em catch the midnight rider.
And Ive gone by the point of caring,
Some old bed Ill soon be sharing,
And Ive got one more silver dollar,
But I'm not gonna let em catch me, no
Not gonna let them catch the midnight rider.

Allman Brothers Band
Welcome to the official blog for the Serenity: Midnight Rider roleplaying campaign. Midnight Rider uses the Serenity Roleplaying Game rules from Margret Weise Productions. This site will include: Episode Logs, Cast and Crew spotlights, Behind the Scenes Features, The Making Of Features, and other information about the campaign. Please fee free to leave us feedback about our campaign and watch this site for updates!