Saturday, 1 April 2017

Gotham: City of the Bat: A City at War - Part 1

Gotham: City of the Bat: A City at War
Part 1: "The Shape of Things to Come"
It is the future.
For decades, a terrible worldwide war had raged throughout the United Confederation of Nations. It was not a war involving man against man, but of man against machines.
When Global Net (the world`s leading computer tech company) became self aware through its Uber Weapons Division, called “Skynet”, it saw humans as a threat to its defence network.. and to its very safety. Skynet then tried to eliminate this threat by eradicating humanity from the face of the earth. Thus began a war which would rage and ravage the world, tearing at the very roots and foundations of human existence upon the planet.
Though Skynet failed in its ultimate objective, to this day the threat of the machines is still very real.

+++      +++      +++      +++      +++

The Year 2021 AD

Meanwhile, in Gotham city... it is now dark. It is a time when most decent law abiding citizens are asleep, tucked away in their warm cosy beds. But the city itself never truly slumbers, and indeed... now begins an entirely alternative existence, as nocturne begins its cadence: along with its incessant vigil beat. Beneath the neon and strobe of the shrouded witching hour, the night watch begins; and all the terrors of the glooming.. emerge to plague and trouble the still reflex of a throbbing beating heart, like a macabre and chilling dream. The gangs are now awake!
Somewhere far underneath Gotham`s sprawling mass, within the vast underground sewer system and the upper Underdeeps, a conversation is taking place.

The Penguin feels he is secure, for he is King of his subterranean domain.  So instead of feeling angered by The Gray Family`s bid for a slice of his turf, if anything he feels amused that anyone should feel so bold as to attempt to `cut a deal` in the first place. And so it is that Mr Oswald Copplepot... aka Mr Penguin... deigns to meet Mr Bob Gray to hear his - terms of friendship!
Amusement quickly turns to agitated annoyance when Mr Gray himself does not attend the meeting, but instead sends one of his henchman. A greasy snake oil salesman by the name of Mr Bing.
At first Mr Bing tries to `win` Mr Copplepot to his Bosses` way of thinking, with his wide shark like smile ...tries to persuade The King of Gotham that using the Underdeeps for trade and trafficking, should be a shared responsibility of two such illustrious families; mutually much more beneficial, and so much more `sensible` than allowing the domain to rest in the hands of a soul `protective` figurehead.
When Mr Copplepot doesn’t `bite` at this proposal, Mr Bing turns up the juice, and several of his `associates` appear out of the darkness.. from various tunnels and side passages attached to the large underground chamber wherein the meeting is taking place.
Someone turns on a ghetto blaster and strange disjointedly macabre carnival music starts to echo and waft its elusive dulcet charm throughout the vast complex. Clowns and contortionists, and fire eaters, and trapeze artists and.....  all manner of circus weirdoes, start to pour into the vast central sewer chamber.
Mr Copplepot sees this as a direct threat and a show of strength by Mr Bing. He is meant to, of course.  But Mr Copplepot is not slow to understand the real reason for Mr Gray`s sudden desire for a family merger. With the increasingly frequent attacks from the machines, especially in the lower deeps where so much of their business is conducted, holding hands in the dark is a not too subtle way for The Clowns to make sure the proverbial bogeyman doesn’t leap out and grab too many more of their nervous and vulnerable numbers.
And so the real power of the Gotham Deeps decides it is time to show a little bit of his own potent juice.
A tap on the stone with the point of his umbrella, is all it takes for dozens of Copplepot`s large and exceedingly burley black and white minions to arrive on the scene and quickly waddle out to surround Mr Bing`s (rather feeble by comparison) entourage of henchies.
To seal the deal and make himself completely understood, Mr Copplepot...The Penguin.... finally does bite. In fact he leans forward on tiptoe, opens his mouth, and bites a rather knotty bloody chunk out of the fish oil salesman`s large and bulbous nose.
“Take that back to your Mr Gray, and tell that upstart piece of shit, that The Penguin says.... NO DEAL”

 Article by Steve


  1. I love it. It’s such a very different kind of start from “Father and Daughter” do you plan to go back and cover what`s already gone before at some stage, or is this a true new start? And what of the Carlotta story arc? Oo I have so many questions I want to ask hehe. But as I am a player in the actual game, I know there is a lot you can`t tell me right now, so I will have to wait and see it all unfold in due course, through real in play sessions.

    I like the new way you are introducing the back story in smaller chunks, almost like the comic books would do. i.e. read enough programs and the whole world will open up like a flower, revealing it tantalising elusive scent.

    I love the penguins. Are they the customised zoob-tube toys you bought recently? They work really well don`t they. Who would have thought that childrens` toys could be put to such good used for rpg`s or for the table top. Mind you I recall reading that Gary Gygax used to raid the dollar stores for plastic bears, sharks, octopus, and other suitable toys he could convert to monsters for his new D&D game (in fact I`m sure I read that a few of his creations came about due to his collection of weird and wonderful botched (misshaped) plastics he would sometimes dig up at the sales bin).

    You`ve left me wanting more, by only showing a tantalising snipped of what`s lurking just under the cover of this new campaign. I like it I like it.

  2. Thanks tar` babes. Oh yes don't worry, the earlier parts we did for this story last year WILL link in smoothly, all in due course. The Carlotta material as well. Its all about timing, like folding in the eggs and cream to a yummy fluffy sponge mix.

    Glad you like the zoob toys. If you like these I think you`ll love the gorilla gang. But all in good time, they`ll be revealed some time later on I suspect hehe.

    You`re not wrong about Gygax. He did indeed use a lot of cheap plastic toy animals, and some of these did make their way into the first ever fiend folio as unique creations of his strange and wonderful mind.

  3. Yay! It's back! Excellent start, Steve. Just enough background to give a feel of the world you're creating, which the seagues into a meeting of freaks undeground. I always liked the Danny DeVito version of the penguin and this feels like that version. Plus giant mutant penguins! Cool! And I do like the scenery too - might have to pay a visit to their booth at Salute, as I think this might be just the thing I'm looking fir for one of my own games. ;-)
    More please..

    1. Thanks Jez, I`m so glad you found the thing entertaining. I do very much enjoy slipping smoothly from theme to theme (like in the original Highlander film), and I often try and emulate that in things I do. segues defines it perfectly :) I`m so happy you got the DeVito tie in, as to me, he IS the most definitive version of that character, like = EVER. As for the giant mutated minions hehe, I simply couldn't resist. Might look cute and fun first few times you meet them, but hang close to the table for a while at our regular rpg nights, and you soon learn to dread meeting these drone like kamikaze killing machines, loyal only to their Master.

      As for the terrain, yeah I have a fair lot of this stuff, and over time you`ll probably get to see lots of it used in this campaign. I think I advised this particular make to you a while back in a latter about Doctor Who.

    2. talk to me more about this (in gmail) when you have time Jez, and I`ll point you to some useful information regarding your imminent visit and the whole Salute thing.

  4. I second that, and more of that scenery too please. Its deffo on my list of cant live without terrain that I need to acquire. I shall have to check their sets out at the next show.

    Good start Steve, and like Crow says, if that's not Danny DeVito, then I don't know what is. I hope to see more of him, brrrr he gives me the willies. Nice work. A for Mr Bing L O L, I knew you hated that internet server but to represent this with a snake oil salesman lol, you`re warped mate HA HA.

    True blue mate, true blue and pucker stuff. Score!!

    1. you wont do better mate, the terrain is truly good value for the buck.

      And give that man a coconut yeeeeey that`s two people got the DeVito take off. I`m dead happy `bout that. HAHAhahaa and you got the Bing things too lol, well done ^^ Bet no one got the Gray tie in though >>>grins<<<

      As for warped, well you know me as your kind and benevolent DM and game host. When have I ever been anything other than pure genius evil :))

    2. Crazy Man Michael - I mean Dave **wink***, good to see you here again. Hey watch him with that coconut Stevie, or he`ll be doing galloping horse impressions again, with both halves of the shell.

    3. Oh and Stevie. Really nice article love. You wrote this one beautifully xxx

    4. HA, if you guys ever do a Monty-Python/Holy Grail rpg, watch out, I really WILL bring the coconuts.

  5. What fun! Time for the Penguin to give mr Bing the bird.........** tumbleweed**

    Love the minions, brilliant and yes deVito nailed the part

  6. haha, I wish there was a more DeVito looking 28mm Penguin mini out there, but meh I really like my iconic classic looking one anyway. The umbrella helps define him of course ^^

    As for the giant mutated birds, just had to be done mate.

    hehe, glad you enjoyed it, Andy :)

  7. Quick question out of curiosity, and so I can get my head round the idea and prepare for what`s coming. Have you finally decided which game or rule system you guys are going to go with for this new start campaign world? I have heard rules bandied about by the lads and yourselves like D20 Modern with the D20 Judge Dredd expansion supplement/stand alone factored in, I`ve heard T girl suggest using the new Heroclix Redux, even Way of the Crow. I`ve played the last two and quite like/dislike things in both to be honest, but same time I enjoyed either enough to go with them if the others were happy to do so too.
    There`s 5th Ed D&D, ABC Battlechain, I`ve even heard Pathfinder and Tunnels & Trolls put forward as possible inclusions in the short list. Personally I go with Hil`s notion of using Frostgrave and maybe some of its numerous (optional) add on expansion books to allow the whole thing to take on a slightly Dungeons and Dragons-ish atmosphere, while maintaining a distinctly science fantasy tone, ideal for either the wilds regions of Cursed Earth or your Post Apocalyptic Gotham ideas. This has the advantage too that, over time, you can easily throw in your Terminators, Shadows of Brimstone, modern zombies, gothic zombies, or anything else you fancy from a wide eclectic range of miniatures - and terrain too?

  8. Interesting point.

    As you know, since Christmas we`ve played a good dozen games of the campaign so far and its well under way... a lot more ahead of itself than the actual new blog material, which is only just beginning to set the scene for what`s to come (though I have already written up next week`s article already). The blog of course can only ever be a basic facsimile model of the real deal... real deal of course being a deeply intricate, involved long term role playing adventure; which you can simply never reproduce on line in quite the same way you can round the table with the whole gang present and contributing. Not without me writing the entire thing as a novel anyway. Which isn’t a bad idea in itself, but not really conducive for blog readers to have to sit and wade through. I doubt anyone would care enough to go to THAT much trouble to follow a blog hahaha.

    But yeah Dave, in trying to flesh out the perfect system (hoping to find something the majority of us liked and were entirely happy with) I am poignantly aware there has be much chopping and changing revolving round our weekly live sessions. I take full responsibility and blame for that, and in my defence, I`ve been watching you all to see which system got the most response, ticked the most boxes and tickled everyone`s fancies overall.

    Hiller`s Frostgrave idea is not a bad one, as (a) I watched the lads loose themselves in it pretty deeply, (b) it follows a similar format to the Warlord Games JD table top skirmish game in that you build teams, and pit these against opposing teams, villains and wandering monsters (bystanders), you level up between adventures, and the overall theme is half skirmish and half rpg, so it’s a box of liquorice all sorts and real crowd pleaser... with a bit of everything for everyone. (c) its popular, fairly cheap, and easy to chase down a copy to purchase. Players only need the base rulebook, and only the game host needs (if he/she wants) pick up the supplement books.

    Personally I like the D20 Modern and Modern/Past as I know D&D in all its re-incarnations with an intricate depth of understanding (from 40 years of playing it constantly with hardly a break, literally hundreds + of long term games and campaigns under my belt with the system) so I can really get to grips with this, and be a fairly half decent game host using this game... which means more dun for everyone else to enjoy. I`m equally happy to use my own rules but end of the day, I am more than happy to go with whatever, inevitably, the guys all want to use? I think we will all know when we hit upon the solution mate. Meanwhile bear with us you grumpy old git (you`re worse than me hahaha) and see you at the next session. Don’t forget yer lucky dice this time ^^

  9. I recognise that a modified ABC or even Chibi World would require a lot of work, and WotC is simply too undefined at the moment to accomplish what we know we need overall, which is a game system which requires minimal maintenance. Last thing we need is to sit down and have to rewrite tons of material, then play test it all for balance before we even get to using it in the actual game. Shame actually, as Way of the Crow has a mass of potential. Redux simply is too parochial I fear, which is a shame as I really do like that set of rules and I invested a lot of time and immersion into designing them, but it’s just that, a set of rules, and little proviso is given for role play, so effectively, we`d be back to the drawing board writing ourselves yet another expansion all over again. What we NEED is a ready to run system we all like enough to patronise financially, and buy our own copies and play for ever more. My money too, is on Frostgrave. Clean, simple, and decisive.

  10. Frostgrave is a possible potential I suppose, but then we`re back to having to modify rules and situations to fit from a primarily fantasy game world into a homebrew tech science world of the year 2221AD. If we`re going to do that, it means, well... we might as well have just stuck with 5th ED D&D or what have you, saved some money, and modified what we already own.

    The whole idea is to make less work for ourselves and play a game `as is` not buy into something which we have to work hard to adapt as we go. Mind you, having said that, yes, Frostgrave does offer up some neat possibilities, especially with its `future past` tech and magical artefacts; and certainly none of the other existing systems out there seem 100% suitable to our needs... either that or the price tag investment to buy into them is simply too high and risky (I`m always mighty dubious of companies chucking out new stuff that promises more and more and more glossy supplements.... at high prices of course, when usually either what we we already have in our collections or cheaper `less flashy` alternatives exist).

    As it stands, I am still undecided at the moment... for sure anyway, though I do have a few things I`m leaning towards. But will keep those close to my chest for now until I can see which way the club group collective is thinking hehe.

  11. There is of course the new soon to be released Judge Dredd rules and its many endless add on manuals planned to be released in stages, but I suspect this defeats the whole object of NOT buying yet another expensive game just because its got NEW saturated all over it like a heavy perfume. I never have understood why gamers who one moment rave and shout about this or that new set of rules, can potentially a few months later even, start raving and shouting with equal zeal about the next new thing to hit the shelves, so they just end up with yet another game on their already groaning shelf of unused things. A fine example of this would be Malifaux: for a while there everything was malifaux malifaux malifaux, yet within six months this same crowd had moved on and was raving about Frostgrave with equal zealous ardour lol. No I think I can see us steering well clear of this money trap.

    Hmmmm, I think the answer to the club conundrum is actually pretty simple love. Either 7TV (which reminds me, we really must pick up a PDF copy of that for ourselves sometimes soon) OR our own CW and just create a few new stats and quickly rustle up special new `codex` expansion for it.

  12. I prefer the term "unfinished" rather than "undefined" in regards to WOTC - the rules ARE defined...the problem being that the majority of them are still in my head. So unless I came over and ran the game for you (now THERE'S an, you won't get the whole package. *makes note - must finish rules*
    Regarding Dave's comment, which part of the rules didn't you like? As it is still evolving, any constructive feedback can only make it better, so feel free to rip it to shreds. 😉

    1. I can answer that for now Jez, though he`s bound to reply to you after work. We both sat discussed your rules after the last time we used them at the table about a month ago (in the usual post game chat). It`s simply a rules size scaling issue Jez, WotC simply can`t handle large encounters fluidly or effectively. At the time we were running a reworking of the classic 1st Ed D&D B2 Module series, and need to resolve that dreaded encounter between 42 Drow, 1 Mindflayer overseer plus 15 mindless drone slaves, 2 Umberhulks, 5 indigenous Cave Ropers, and a Blink Dog guard: all this against an entire company or Heroes and various Henchies.
      You have to remember Jez that we sometimes need the rules to be able to handle up to 15 players each controlling at least one character and possibly henchmen and pets and /or familiars as well. Then 2 DM`s working together or in timed game shifts; and each needs to be able to pit (potentially) dozens of Monsters from their CR pool.. ready to throw at the players any moment in game, from triggers or pre-gen encounters which need to be resolved smoothly. We worked out al te altered stats and everything before hand. But WotC just can`t handle this scale of play Jez. Small skirmish games with half a dozen minis per side, no problem. But I fear the intrinsic design engine itself is not geared up for epic play. For that you need a set of rules designed to handle both small or/and large games in equal measure (games such as CW, ABC, D&D or T&T).

    2. Hi, yeah I don't have a problem with the rules, per se. The barebones framework that exists is solid and intrinsically fairly sound, and gives nice results when playing a small skirmish level game. No the only reason I doubted their practical application within our group is that they can`t handle the larger scale combats smoothly enough, and the mathematical equations of the dice rolls loses cohesion when you start doing lots of separate melees involving odds of three to one. three to two, etc.

      Hope I said that clearly. Still early and not enough coffee yet.

    3. I think both replies were clear, so no worries there, Dave. And yes, I completelly understand why they would be unsuitable for the types of combat/games you describe. What you need is Way of the Crow's big brother - Feast of Crows - which is designed for mass battles. But this is less 'defined' (lol) than WOTC, so best to use what you've got at present. And no, i'm not obsessed with the family corvidae...

    4. ROTF, oh man I love your naming "Feast of Crows - Mass Combat Supplement and expansion to "Way of the Crow"

      it has to be done, just has to.

      Stamp across it "The Defined Edition"

  13. Oh and if you need a copy of 7TV2e, I've got the PDF of the 'beta test' version (which has all the cards as well) which I can send over.

  14. Ooo yes yes yes yes and yes to the PDF and cards. That would be absolutely splendid Jez.

    1. I'll send it over when I get in. What did Steve think if the Middle Earth rules?

    2. Aaagh!!! Jes, I`m so sorry mate, totally forgot to run you off a thank you. Hils showed the file to me, they`re REALLYY good.

  15. Ok, time for a vote I think. Sorry Stevie, we really need to tie this down I think, and before next game too.

    I vote for using 7TV2e, as I can also use it for the B7 crossover with T. Two birds one stone.

  16. Okay so not Frostgrave then? *chuckles* make yer mind up Hillers ^^ xxx

    And okay yep, Agreed.

  17. So 7TV2e it is then.

    Yes, Agreed.

  18. so, how would you go about using 7TV to make a Judge Dredd or a Batman Game. Surely the era is all wrong?

  19. Not at all, the game mechanic itself is pretty straight forward. The premise is that you (the game host, or games master if you prefer) are a fictitious television studio called 7TV, and you are filming a new TV series. This show can be whatever you want it to be (ideally, within the 60`s/70`s and 80`s genre). You can be bold and name it straight after a real life show such as The Sweeny, The Professionals, The Avengers, or The Champions. Or you can be more subtle and play about a bit with names to create your own unique TV series (but which is recognisable as a spin off/take off from an original title). You might choose something like: Man from Ulster, The B Team, The Spy Who Snubbed me, or how about Professor Who?

    Next you choose a main star, then a co star, and a group of extras, very much in the same way you might go about gathering a warband in a game of D&D, or making a Team in Heroclix. This is your `cast` for your chosen show, and you play the game exactly as you would a normal skirmish wargame, but because it feels like a TV show, it naturally has lots of exciting narrative running throughout it.

    But to answer your question, how can you play Judge Dredd or Batman using these rules (or any other similar theme for that matter – Captain America, Superman, The Incredible Hulk, or so on)? The answer is.. you would do it very easily. If you take the premise that 7TV2e is all about playing retro TV shows from the past, namely the heyday of British television back in the 70`s and 80`s, well, think about it: Judge Dredd and Batman and the rest are all comic books from that exact era.

    Imagine the comics as sample `scripts` to be acted out by the cast (the miniatures on the table). You don’t have to try and recreate the modern day big budget movies superhero cinematic blockbusters: think small.. think of Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Imagine how you might have case your imaginary TV show back in those days. Of course you can apply modern effects to old themes, mix and matching to suit your personal taste: (like for example - Adding Mike Myers Austin Powers to Sean Connery`s 007), but all in all, Judge Dredd, Batman, all the rest of those comics fit ideally within the theme of this set of rules.

    I actually think one of the main problems with this majorly under exposed (under promoted) rules engine is that the premise is under explored and misunderstood by its potential hobbyist clientele.

    1. I can`t get the idea out of my head now! Imagine it back in the 1960`s/70`s (like in that cool Stephen King book "11/22/63"). Now imagine Judge Dredd done in that style for Saturday Morning Matinee at the `cheap flicks` for easy viewing entertainment. How would they have portrayed it back then? kept the show clean and family friendly? Sort of like batman and Robin, only with a more Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon feel, I`m guessing.

      But hey, wouldn`t it be great for a 7TV network station show.

      We`ve lost so much haven't we. TV was so much more interesting back then /;)

  20. oops not only British retro TV shows, but American ones too.

  21. That`s a pretty spot on description of the flexibility of 7TV Tarot hun, and shows its full range of potential in an accurate light. Normally the reviews of this game tend to be written by rule owners who (it seems) have literally only played it once or twice, and as we know, no one can give r-e-a-l-l-y give an accurate review of a game based on such limited knowledge). I know you`ve played it to death over at the club with some of the guys, so you have a fairly in depth understanding of it all at this stage. It was refreshingly pleasant to hear someone mention its real (often hidden) potential.

    As for "Frostgrave" >>>>>> pauses for dramatic effect <<<<<<<< well as I already own a fair bit of this material (after a few swapsies with the lads) Maybe I`ll do an in depth review and a follow up solo mini "Felstad" campaign sometimes over the coming year, if anyone is interested in reading about it.

  22. You know, you really should. Its always me does all the solo stuff. Not only would I enjoy reading a new solo mini campaign, especially if you do it, (you`re a great DM), but I`d like to see you enjoying this aspect of the hobby for yourself.

  23. *sigh* I'm supposed to be painting Daleks and what am I doing instead? Writing the first draft of "Feast of Crows"...
    I blame Dave...and Hils...and Tarot. In fact, you can all share equally in the blame (and that includes you too, Steve).
    Although, it DOES appear to be pretty much writing itself...

    "Yes, I kbow they have hordes of goblin slingers, orcs mounted on wolves and some kind of steroid-infused Austrian body-builder in a loincloth...but we've got a Madcat Omnimech armed with twin LRMs and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Victory shall be ours!"

  24. New Mass Skirmish Crows rules, right? yuk yuk yuk, sounds like a bit of a feast to me.

    Oh and Hils, you`re too late I`m afraid. They are now no longer the knights who say Ni! They are now the knights who say "ekki-ekki-ekki-pitang-zoom-boing!”