Category Archives: Renegade

The Many

These ravenous aliens are composite monstrosities of mutated insect spliced with the most dangerous features of predators from across a dozen worlds. Massive in scale compared to the common insects of Earth to which they appear most closely related—the common locust—they have the capacity to survive flight through the void of space and on reaching their destination do nothing to restrain their hunger.

They may have a connection to Sutekh, which could explain their first appearance on Earth in Egypt, around 1334 BC. That they exist at all—and what’s more persist—suggests some form of natural or regenerating source, for their defeat by Nefertiti and The Doctor in this first appearance, has not curtailed later reports. In many instances, whole colonies and small worlds have been laid waste, drowned beneath the voracious cloud of The Many.

The sheer numbers make their arrival all too obvious to those on the lookout; they extinguish the light of the sun in their multitude and fill the air with a disturbing murmur that sets teeth on edge and nerves on fire. When they strike, the tools of destruction at their disposal make light work of those ill-prepared to defend themselves—they possess iron-hard teeth and claws, energy-emitting spikes crown their heads, and they spit a highly potent contact poison.

However, as they draw strength in numbers, so too do they find challenge in it—for they swarm with a singular purpose and their base craving can excite near mania. A wily defender might find means to distract them this way or even rig some means to exploit their drive to act as one to expel or eradicate them.

The Many: Destructive Horns, Poisonous Drool, Relentless Hunger, Swarm Mentality

Based on: Details around the disappearance of Nefertiti from The Women Who Lived and referenced in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

Renegade Returns

It feels like I should restart blogging about Doctor Who. I know that I’m never going to be on the cutting edge—I love the series, but it’s not like I’m out there on the streets of Cardiff or Sheffield snapping on-set piccies with my iPhone. I’m more a reactive fan with thoughts and stuff.

Deep, right?

What I would like to do is find a way to spin Renegade, my homage to time traveling adventure, into something more substantial. Possibly, when I have a moment—which is unlikely because I never do—I will rewrite it a bit. Or throw a version 2 out there.

It’s nice to have something I can use for a little ad hoc time travel adventure without needing to remember all the rules from one of the other great Doctor Who RPGs.

Mind you, I can do nothing but praise Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. If you don’t have at least a bit of it and you’re a fan of Who, you’re missing out. A nice simple system with a lot of built-in mechanical potential to simulate the beats and tropes of the series.

I also have a fondness for both FASA’s Doctor Who and Timelord.

The former, because FASA just had such a ride with their licenses, in their moment, and there’s a sort of fun to Who and Star Trek when they did it (even though some of it is so wrong). If you have a chance to read any of the adventures you’ll understand that there was a breakdown in understanding about just what Doctor Who was about. I mean, they’re not unusable, but they’re not easily played straight out of the book without a little consideration and tweaking.

The latter, because I spent ages seeking it out—I recall taking a train over from Huddersfield to Leeds, when I was at university, and managing to track it down in one of the cities many bookstores. There was a questing to it, spoiled somewhat by the fact that I have never got it to the table in any form.

Anyway—what I’m trying to say is that I know my limitations as a fan and I’ll be sticking to gaming as the core of this site, in some shape or form.

The Ghost Monument

The Ghost Monument had a lot to say about the way you play time-travelling adventures, about not setting barriers but, at the same time, creating alien environments from the familiar. It wasn’t necessarily subtle, but programmes like Star Trek and Doctor Who have been doing that since the 60s. When you play adventures in sci-fi, don’t make the challenge understanding the small stuff – make it grand and strange, weird and disconcerting.

We’re (Not) All Human

In truth, humanity costs less than alien. When you have an alien, you need effects – cosmetic or CGI. When you do human – perhaps with a little tweak to the nose or a daub of paint on the temples – you can still be alien bit without needing the audience – or the players – to make a leap in their understanding.

The Ghost Monument did that brilliantly here because Ryan, Yasmin and Graham desperately want to find an anchor, a solid foundation in the world of Desolation. If they can find something familiar they can work outward from their in quantifying the strange and the alien. Neither Epzo nor Angstrom offer that – they don’t know what Earth is or humans for that matter. The sense of connection that the companions seek refuses to manifest, like the Ghost Monument itself.

When you run a game of Renegade or Doctor Who  don’t attempt to create aliens that stretch the imagination or demand lengthy description. When you opt for human-like aliens, you can achieve the sense of the alien by robbing the player characters of any common ground. Even in an alternate history adventure, you can achieve the same result when no one recognises Kennedy or Shakespeare, despite every certainty they should be known to everyone.

Universal Translator

For a very long time the TARDIS has been the essential element that made the whole business of alien languages make sense. The telepathic link with the TARDIS meant that everything made sense – spoken or written. In The Ghost Monument, without a TARDIS to fall back on, we have medi-units that achieve the same result, injecting a sub-dermal universal translator chip on detecting the lack of one.

While it might be interesting to occasionally find the travellers unable to understand the world around them, it makes for a simpler game all together if you skip language and move on. In a game with many skills, even spending a few points on a language means not picking something cool. In Renegade, you only have a couple of Specials to start with, so why would you spend them on something like Linguistics or whatever.

The challenge of the adventures should be more than the simple barriers of language. If you want the incomprehensible, they consider a puzzle instead, a riddle or hidden cypher than can challenge the player to solve it. Language confounds the characters and makes the game harder to run, never mind play.

Oh… I Forgot I Put Stuff in these Pockets

“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” If you offer the player characters the basics, they can work out the rest and use their ingenuity and background to fill in the gaps. A spark of imagination and a half-abandoned warehouse full of tools sounds like an A-Team montage scene to me – and the same should apply when the player characters need to create a missing sonic multi-tool or cobble together a means to temporarily immobilise an enemy.

Give them string, sunglasses, a cricket ball, a transistor radio and a packet of jelly babies – because with that lot they have a world of potential. The path ahead shouldn’t be plain sailing, by any means, but dumping the characters in an alien jail every time they get captured with nothing to work with will just get tiresome. Make that jail a tool shed. Make that cell someone’s stationery cabinet. Or at least give the characters a tool they can chisel a message into a stone pillar with and discover it by chance three adventures earlier so they can organise an escape.

Don’t You See… I Got It Mostly Right

Human but alien. Comprehensible but puzzling. Most of the answers but without all the facts about the problem or the tools to get it resolved. Playing a game of Renegade or Doctor Who should be challenging for all the right reasons – filled with people, clues, puzzles, mystery, abandoned ruins, odd remnants and more than a scattering of ghosts and memories. In the midst of all that lies fun without frustration – and the promise of adventures yet to come.

Eat My Salad, Halloween

Final victim of Tzim Sha’s trophy hunting spree, the Salad Man nevertheless can provide a handy new archetype to include in your Renegade games. If we’ve learned anything from the travels and adventures of The Doctor over the years it’s that those who die can still crop up later in another form – such are the benefits of time travel. And the occasional bout of Vortex induced amnesia.

Specials

Salad Man (2)
Confident Swagger, Strong Stomach, Eat My Salad Halloween, Too Wasted to Run, Know the Way

Background

Roll 1d6, choose an option or just create your own

  1. Eldest child and a favourite role model at his school (when he attended), he left with 2 GCSEs and got into gardening, a surprisingly lucrative business – but little helped by his addiction to online gambling. He enjoys humiliating close friends – though, at heart, he throws insults out of an inability to articulate his appreciation.
  2. Only child and raised mostly by his grandparents, after his parents split, he enjoyed music and played several instruments. Most skilled with the harmonica, peer pressure at school made him give it up. He started studying long after school through Open University, but struggled to keep focus. His irritating personality seems more defence mechanism than genuine ill-will.
  3. Middle child of a good family, something about his character rubbed his teachers up the wrong way and meant more time in detention or outside the headteacher’s office than in class. Still, when he got out of school, he landed a decent job and a small inheritance from the passing of a favourite uncle. He has his own business, completing home renovations. He doesn’t really trust anyone who seems to know it all.
  4. Bought up well in a steady and dependable family, he struggled at school with dyslexia and ended up leaving before he took his exams. However, determination pushed him and he found varied employment – from retail and handy work, to background acting and cab driver. He struggled with discrimination, but constantly rose above it, bolstered by unswerving confidence in his potential.
  5. While his teachers respected him, his parents never did – favouring his older brother every time. Bullied by his family, he spent all the time he could out with mates on the street or reading books in the local library. He got tough from his home life and canny in the company of friends. He works an ordinary job and spends evenings in the pub, but he has aspirations to be more.
  6. Despite appearances, brash and no-nonsense as he might seem, he has been nervous and hesitant throughout his life. He lost his mother while still young and his busy father sent him off to boarding school; there, he found his best shield was a short fuse and a sharp tongue. Now, by day he writes copy for one of the few surviving local newspapers and by night he watches football and plays the slots down at the local.

Brace for Impact

As a continued expansion of the simple Renegade system, I’m happy to expand the PocketMod core with the revision and release of Brace for Impact, a broadly system-free supplement for creating sci-fi encounters which now includes a brand new Infinity Table.

The Infinity Table adds an essential temporal twist to your adventures, from sleeping menaces and lurking Lovecraftian horrors, to uncontrolled science experiments or utterly innocent actions that accidentally subvert the timeline.

And, to round the book off, an up-sized version of the Renegade rules – in glorious A5, with extra antagonists and a brief guide to both Structure and Motivation when running adventures.

Available now as a PDF through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

Also available as a Chibnall-esque bundle with From Unformed Realms, to step up the behind-the-sofa quotient of your monsters!