Mission of Terror

A week after the downing of the large alien ship a series of troubling reports began to come in.  The aliens had changed their tactics.  They were actively attacking and killing citizens, not just abducting them.  Another alien had also been seen.  A spidery, monsterous thing dubbed a Chryssalid from the eggheads in the lab.

Chryssalid

It wasn’t long before a report came in from the terror-stricken South American continent  Rosario, Argentina.  The city was under attack, citizens were in extreme danger and the Earth Monkey Strike Team was scrambled!

scramble.jpg

Coordinates of the center of the attack were uploaded to the SkyRanger and the team landed in a dark downtown area engulfed in flames and screams.  Word had come in several civilians using a small convenience store for cover.  The team were to rescue as many as possible and neutralize the alien threat.

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Crash Site Run and Gun

After XCOM satellites picked up an alien craft over Colorado (probably over Denver, you know?) a Raven was scrambled for an intercept. After interecept the Raven downed the alien ship which then crash landed in the Colorado wilderness.

Crashsite

Almost before the craft hit the ground, the Earth Monkey Strike Team was scrambled and assigned to the site.  the objectives of Operation Brutal Stranger – survey the site, eliminate hostiles and gather alien technology. Assigned to the mission were the following XCOM Agents, Niedzwiecki, Roberts, Hughes and the newly healed Squaddie Norris.

OnAssignment

Upon landing the team was able to locate the craft easily and found it relatively intact.  While closing distance to the craft, Squaddie Norris and Hughes reported a new, hostile alien life form comprised almost entirely of energy.  The creature was within the ship and aware of the team.  As the squad moved into position another two sectoids were reported within the vehicle.

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Earth Monkey Strike Team is Go!

It all started when a friend of mine gave an end game report for his “Band of Brothers” run through playing X-Com 2.  The Band of Brothers idea is quite simple in that you name your team members from a list of willing, personal friends.  His write-up inspired me and one Facebook post later, I had a full crew of willing friends ready to go fight aliens with me! (Well, at least use their names and possibly set them up for horrible virtual death and/or mild embarrassment.) Not having,  X-Com 2 I fired up my well-loved copy of X-Com: Enemy Unknown and got things started.

At first I thought I would put up mission reports, etc for entertainment value on Facebook for everyone to chuckle over.  Then, thanks to another helpful friend, I was reminded that, duh, I have a game blog!

And, as far as intro, that’s all you get.

Yes, we’ll talk RPG’s later.  For now, we’re hunting squishies!!!

Let’s get to it.

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Solo Gaming with Flight Simulator FSX

So, I was down at Nassau and taking a day off from the standard one or two hour runs.  I’d found a nice hotel on the beach and enjoying the spoils of my past employment.  In fact, I was watching some beautiful women on the sand, eating my lunch and drinking a rum and coke.  Life was good.  My cell phone buzzed with a text.  A text from my contact in “The Group” to be exact.  A job had come up and they were asking if I wanted it.  I was to check my email ASAP and then make a quick phone call.  I took a long pull from the rum and coke and watched the waves for a few moments.

Then, I checked the email and made the phone call.  Afterwards, I ordered another rum and coke.  I made sure it was a double.

Cuba.  Why did it have to be Cuba?

———————

At least that’s my overly creative imagination pictured as I thought about the next step my pilot would be taking in the FSEconomy virtual world.  I was down at Nassau after picking up some tourists (and some agents) from the lower Cays and bringing them back to “civilization.”  I wanted to fly another one of my homebrew assignments so I fired up Google Earth, grabbed the 6 x 6 template I talked previously and went to town.

I stretched it out all over lower Florida and the Bahamas.

CubanMission_Grid001

I wanted the chance for a longer flight.  My first roll was a dropout as it put me in the middle of the ocean.  What was the point in that?  Second roll?  The same.  The Third roll, however, a 2 and a 4, put me into Cuba. Now, I thought, this is getting interesting!

I zoomed into Cuban area and the initial square was huge so I resized the 6 x 6 grid to match the area I had just rolled and rolled again.

CubanMission_Grid003

Now, my favorite part, looking around on Google Earth to find something interesting.  I saw a few things and I immediately grabbed my percentile dice (2d10’s) and my love of the Mythic solo rules and started asking questions.  (Though it did not come up this time I was using the rule that doubles meant a random event!)

Was this going to be a pick-up mission?  I had no idea one way or the other so went with 50/50.  34.  Yes.

Was it going to be a water pick-up mission?  I imagined that it would be far more clandestine to do something like that and so gave it a higher chance.  I weighed things out and wrote down 75%.  The roll was a 27 so, yes, a water pick-up.

CubanMission_Grid004

Was I going to have it do it by flying normal assignments through the area?  This also made a lot of sense so I assigned it a 85%.  The roll = 56.  Yes.

And that was all I needed! I got to work looking over FSEconomy and found a run where 2 photographers and a model needed to go a place on the northern coast of Cuba called the Cayos Las Brujas.  The Witch’s Cay?  Does it get any more pulpy than that?!?  I couldn’t let it go and so asked, “Is someone in the group heading to the Cayos Las Brujas for another reason besides a photo shoot?”  What if “something else” was going on?  I gave it a 40% chance and wah-lah, 32.  There WAS something else going on.  But what?

I split up the three passengers on a d6 roll, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and rolled to see which one was up to something.  Of course, it was the model.  I realized I was also assuming too much and rolled the gender of the model.  1-3 = male, 4-6 = female.  I rolled a 5.  A female model up to something and going to a place called Cayos Las Brujas?  Truly, the random story gods were smiling on me today!  But there was more…

I pulled up my Mythic chart of Random Events and gave it a roll.  I wanted to see what the goal was of the model.  What did I come up with?  66. Carry and 53:Home.  Carry Home.  Nice!  She was carrying something home.  It was obviously something of value or why would she carry it home?  So, it was valuable.  Was it worth a lot of money? I gave it a 60% and rolled 81. No.  Not worth money.

Finally, realizing I had gotten lost in having fun with a story and not flight planning I asked the question that I had to ask.  “Was the model actually a witch?”  I made it fair and gave it a low chance at 20%.  Something was in the air because I then rolled a 03 which meant it was an Exceptional Yes!  Sweet!

I couldn’t resist a final roll filled with authentic pulpy, over-the-top goodness.  “Was the model/witch the contact for the “Group” my pilot was now working for?”  I gave it a modest 40% chance and rolled a 28.  I got a good chuckle out of that one!  Does she reveal to him that she is, in fact, his contact? 50/50.  Roll = 45.  Sometimes, the dice love you.

I put it all together like this…  The trio were heading to the town in order to do a special photoshoot of the model in her hometown.  Rustic shots at the beach and at the market, that sort of thing.  Our model, boarding the flight with her photographers, would insist on hanging on to her oversized purse, not allowing it out of her possession.  She then, offhandedly, would hand the pilot a business card and on it was a symbol or a drawing or something that would tell him her true identity.  Thinking fast, he would allow her to sit up front to “get a good view” and thus wearing headsets so they could possibly talk without being overheard.    And that was that!  One final question remained, “Was she actually involved in the assignment with the clandestine pick-up?”  Given everything so far, I gave it an 85% chance of yes.  I rolled a 92!  Nope.  Just making friendly agent-like contact as she flew home.  So be it, then.

CubanMission_Flight01I planned out the flight.  I would do the first assignment to the Cayos Las Brujas.  Then, I would head westward and over fly the pickup area, a large lake, with no passengers.  Along the way, I’d dip down, pick up the contact and keep going to my next destination.  When I got airborne, I would roll to see if the “authorities” had caught wind of the weird maneuver and would go from there.  I would then fly two more assignments and head north to Florida with my “assignment” in the back.  Wah-lah!  Assignment complete! (Hardly realistic, or perfect, but the goal here was to have fun and revel in my silliness.)

The flight down to Cayos Las Brujas was uneventful and I pulled off a stellar landing.  Since I had rolled she had nothing to do with the assignment I was flying, I waved goodbye to my mini-storyline and figured I could come up with another story down the line featuring the character of the model witch.  I got things prepped for the big job and aimed the Dehavilland Turbo Beaver westward for the pick-up and rolled into the sky! Weather was holding and I angled for the lake pickup.

It was at this point everything got VERY complicated!

To Be Continued!

 

Random Spots with a Google Earth Image Overlay

One of the tools I mentioned in my last Flight Simulator post was a way that I generated a random spot on Google Earth.  I wanted to talk about it briefly and show you how I do it.

The way to do it is incredibly simple.  I came up with it while trying to figure out a way to randomly select areas of the U.S. for a possible game campaign.  Below you will find a simple JPEG image.  Feel free to double click on the image and grab it for yourself.  the other thing you will need is a D6.

6x6Grid

I bet you can see where this is going, right?

Right.

  • Open Google Earth.
  • Create an Image Overlay using the graph image. (The button is up near the top.  See the image below.)  Adjust the image over whatever part of the world you want to use it on and adjust the opacity so you can see the terrain underneath it.
  • Roll the dice twice.  One roll for the row, the other for the column.  Find the square that coordinates to the die roll.
  • If it is too large of an area then simply shrink the layer down to fit the area of the initial coordinate and… guess what?  Roll again!
  • Wash, rinse and repeat until you get the area you want.

Here’s a quick example of what it will look like in Google Earth.

6x6gridexample

Also, if you have Photoshop, Gimp or something similar, you could also use this grid to find random locations on a digital map for a fantasy world or anything.  Just add it as another layer and manipulate it as you’d like to put the grid over the area.

The next post today is a more detailed look at how I use the 6 x 6 grid AND some elements of the Mythic RPG Solo game to create one of my more memorable charter flights.

Fun with Flight Simulator

I’ve been flying my desk for around 30 years.  (Just typing that caused a few more gray hairs to form!)  However, it’s true.  I’ve been fascinated by it my entire life.  I remember being in my bedroom trying to get a feel for Flight Simulator 2 on my Amiga, using my joystick and working with a frame rate of maybe 6.  Inserting floppy discs to change scenery areas.  Good times!

Flightsim2

As the technology improved I followed along and even joined a virtual airlines based out of the Bahamas and flew flight with them for many years.  (Yes, they have these.  Type in “Virtual Airline” in Google if you need to know more.) I was always interested in the small, private bush planes and never got the jazz for the heavy iron.   My last foray into flight simming came with Flight Simulator X.  I flew off and on and played around with the new amphibian planes.  Then, I got distracted by Life, kids and other games.  I got the news Microsoft was ending it’s run of Flight sim games and disgruntled by the announcement and a joystick that decided to stop working, I shelved it.

At the end of last year and being a big fan of Steam, I saw that Dovetail games had resurrected FSX and it would now be available through Steam!  Bonus of that announcement was it was on sale for $5.  So, for my birthday last year, I started flying again.

This time around I decided I would have some fun doing bush flights and, possibly, do the ever present but never attained Flight Around the World.  While investigating a way to monitor things like cost of fuel and prices of bush flights I stumbled onto FSEconomy which is a wonderful little “mod” / community.  In short, it’s a virtual “real time” world where fellow flight sim pilots make virtual money flying assignments in a digital world.  Everything is tracked, money, fuel, ownership of FBO’s and airports and planes are a limited commodity.  Matter of fact, you have to start out renting your plane and work up to buying one to have in the virtual world.  You also can, if you’re able, to fly in real time weather.

Yeah, guess what I was doing for most of January?

FSEDay01a

During my initial flights I decided I would revisit my old haunts in Florida and the Bahamas.  The weather in the Midwest this time of year was gray and cold enough in real life and I thought a break to the sunny south was in order.  A rule I would follow is that I would only be able to leave the last airport where I landed.  No jumping around, renting planes and flying wherever I wished.  I set out from my hometown airport with a rented Lake Renegade amphibian plane and took jobs along the way heading southward.  I loved it.

In Georgia as I searched assignments and flew from airport to airfield to airstrip, I stumbled on a little gem.  A DeHavilland Turbo Beaver sitting on a deserted grass airstrip in the middle of nowhere.  It had no air time  on it’s engine and was sitting there in perfect condition.  (FSEconomy tracks airtime and engine maintenance)  In fact, it was not owned by another player and was owned by “the system.”  It just seemed “stuck” there and unfound.  It was a good plane and with it’s 9 passenger capacity a good money maker!

Things move quick in this little virtual world and I was scared someone else might beat me to it.  I fired up the Lake Renegade and flew the fifteen minutes to find the airstrip.  After landing I realized that as awesome of a bush plane the Beaver can be the airstrip where it sat was VERY short.  I had a good time trying to get it out of there without banging it up against a tree!

Yet, I was successful and was now flying southward with a plane I really enjoyed.  I pushed further southward.

SunsetPanamaCity

Near Panama City as I was flying some soldiers into the military base there and fired by the cool random chance of finding the Dehavilland Beaver, the solo gaming/creativity bug hit me.  Fueled by too many episodes of Agents of Shield with the family I came up with an idea.  “What if,” it whispered, “your pilot gets talked about by the soldiers, gets recommended as a good bush pilot and is contacted by ‘thuper theekrit agency that needs good low-altitude, land anywhere pilots?”  Then, what if he gets assignments that require him/me to fly and land in some pretty tricky spots?”

And the final What if?, what if it’s just a ‘thuper ‘threekit group that has ties to the government but is, in fact, international and, of course, they fight crime?

All kinds of crime.

Boom.  Done.  I’m there!

Using an old technique I had designed to find random spots on Google Earth, I went to work.  A few die rolls later and some map consulting and I had my first assignment.  I needed to get down to the Bahamas with my rental plane, taking jobs along the way of course, and pick up a team of three people.  They would be at a small out of the way Cay and wanted a quiet extraction away from any airports.  I was to land, pick them up, and take off all within a fifteen minute window.  This forced all sorts of “fun” on me like flight planning, navigation and timing things out so I landed and extracted at the exact time of the assignment.   I really didn’t come up with much about the agents I was picking up.  Not my job, right?    However, the seeds had been planted.  I was ready to combine some Solo gaming ideas with Flight Simulator!

BeachLanding

A few days later I created another assignment and it turned out to be pretty vanilla.  I found my random spot, rolled some dice on a few random tables and built another assignment.  I was to pick up some archeologists who needed to get a few “finds” back to a “safe facility” to be researched.  My job?  Pick them up at a small, nearly deserted island where they had been hiding out/digging for a few weeks and get them back to Nassua.   Once there they would grab a larger plane back home.  Piece of cake kind of run.

While landed at Nassau, I rolled up another assignment and this one was going to be a challenge.  I was headed to Cuba for a quick (and I mean QUICK) pickup at a secluded lake.  Afterwards, I would have to fly at 500 feet or below to avoid radar, get out of Cuban airspace and make for the Florida Keys with my agent tucked away safely in the plane.

Not a problem… not a problem at all!

(To Be Continued!)

 

Blogus Interruptus

wrongturnI’m Back!

Boy, did I take a wrong turn somewhere.  One minute I was talking about a solo Superhero game, GenCon and helping out a Children’s hospital and the next I’m stuck in a dramatic spiral of real life.  Next thing I know it’s a new year with a new job, I’ve got a bunch of hours wracked up on Steam flying a virtual plane and I’ve somehow managed to get most of a RPG rules set written out without ONE SINGLE POST on my gaming blog.

What a goon.

I think I’m going to simply call 2014 a warm-up for the real deal in 2015 and move forward.  Let’s not dwell too much on the past, shall we?

Back in July or so I stated I was going to run a Supers Solo Sandbox game here.  Well, I got started on that and then quickly came to realize that I could not find a RPG ruleset which worked for me.  I’m a huge fan of the FU RPG for most of my solo gaming but I was still having trouble with it, especially when it came to things like super powers.  I wanted… uh… I wanted… something else!  I just wasn’t sure what.  As one of my kids used to say when he was younger, “I want… I want.. I want a something!”

Then, Synchronicity/Fate/Muses stepped forward and in a bizarre series of events I stumbled across an old RPG game I had written up back in the early 90’s.  Can’t really explain it any better than that.  I was sorting through old boxes and there it was.  Looking through it I found a mechanic or two I liked which led me to the inevitable words, “Hey, I think I can do something with this.”  About that time, the Real Life Spiral started shortly around and after GenCon and I was off to the races and dealing with, well, uh, Real Life Stuff.

Still, I poked at it when I could and wrote notes on index cards and post-its, mused on it as I took our dog out for long walks.  I shaved off sections of the old text and re-wrote new sections that needed smoothing.  I re-tooled the magic/special abilities section and, in a handful of quick play throughs just last week, everything appeared to work.  I’m currently very happy with the results and am in the process of getting it away from a clunky text file and into a nicely organized PDF.  What am I going to do after that?  Well, read on!

Consider, for your review, a late list of goals for 2015 and this blog.

  • Finish up the new RPG rules, playtest them, hone them and then release them here for FREE, to the public.  (I’d like to have them done by Summer.)  Yes, you heard me right.  Free.
  • Using the new rules, I’ll begin posting the solo Superhero game here and, at the same time, begin building my own superhero world which anyone and everyone can start having fun with themselves.
  • Using the new rules, I would like to also post one shots and other games as the year goes along.
  • More posts from the computer game side of things.  This will be videos, stories and whatnot.  I was going to post them on forum boards but I figured I’d keep everything in one place.  Vids, of course, will be linked from my Youtube account.
  • Prepare for Extra Life 2015 by starting a new team which includes my friends and family.  Not only do I want to build the team but I want to prepare as many fun events for the team on Event day as possible.
  • Be ready for GenCon in August.  Pics, reviews, daily reports, etc.
  • And, finally, are you ready for this?  Weekly postings at the minimum.

Yeah, I’m not sure I believe that last one either!

And, yes, I said, “Free.”

Onward!