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[ETU] Starting new campaign as soon as my materials arrive !

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  • [ETU] Starting new campaign as soon as my materials arrive !

    Hello, I'm Eric, starting an ETU game for my group which has been mostly DCC RPG with a li'l Top Secret and Stars Without Number thrown in.
    Random questions/commentary:

    Anyone watch the one season (I think? About 20 Episodes?) of Kolchak: The Night Stalker ? Darren McGavin (sp?), an intrepid reporter investigating occurrences just like at ETU. I think the Temple of Hecate episode would fit nicely (healthy dating service applicants found dead, their bodies aged 50 years, the cult leader was sucking their life energy to remain eternally young and beautiful). Another episode, Kolchak was on a single's cruise with a newly afflicted Werewolf aboard - he stole the Captain's jacket and melted the silver buttons to make a silver bullet. Great stuff !

    Is there a list of annoying roommate behavior ? When the players pick their characters I'll need some real-life feeling dorm mates. The jock who leaves his gear in the room after practice (what a funk!). The overweight outcast and his soda/Twinkie addiction. The Lothario that always has a chick in the room and a ball cap on the door knob. What are your favorites ?

    Anyway, I just signed up and will have plenty of N00b SW/Dean questions. I'm 55, played D&D since 1978-ish, programmer by trade, divorced father of four by choice, nerd by behavior. I've watched all the Saving Throw Show ETU episodes so I know what I am getting into.

    Thinking of handing out some re-roll poker chips in addition to Bennies. (3 of each). I played the game up to the beginning of sophomore year awhile ago, played a Rodeo Queen/Pre-med student. Fought the Chupacabra, a summoned demon, got the cross but ended up giving it to GMac. Maybe a couple of other adventures too.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum, Eric!

    Just in case you weren't aware, ETU was written for the Deluxe Edition of Savage Worlds. If you are using the new Adventure Edition ruleset (i.e., SWADE), then you're going to want to download the free conversion guide for the setting.

    I also came up with a couple new tables for High Strangeness that you can download for free here, and Alternate Party Generator rules here.
    You're under no obligation to use them, of course, but if you do I'm always receptive to feedback.

    Hope you have tons of fun with ETU and Savage Worlds!


    • #3
      Also if youv'e got the time I recommend catching some episodes of "ETU WildCards" show in the Saving Throw channel (on Twitch or Youtube). They have some cool ideas to loot for your game (and of course they are really entertaining)


      • #4
        Thanks for the links Deskepticon, I will get the conversion materials and check out your links !

        Yup OK5 I am with ya, that show is my favorite and inspired me to take the mantle of Dean (as our usual DM needs a break, having run DCC and SWN for two and a half years).

        I told my players this isn't D&D where you kill first and ask questions later … it is more interact with NPCs, look for clues, research, formulate an opinion about what's going on, THEN act.

        Also commented it wouldn't be fun to play a 20 year old incarcerated for life plus twenty. D&D characters roam from place to place, often kill with impunity and rarely face consequences (especially if they are level 5 in a level 1/commoner world!) / Murder Hobo'ing


        • ValhallaGH
          ValhallaGH commented
          Editing a comment
          I always described playing ETU as "going to college, but weird magical stuff keeps happening. So, remember to think like a real college student."

        • LordRahvin
          LordRahvin commented
          Editing a comment
          My opening speech to new players goes a little like this and seems to work pretty well. "This is not a horror game in the sense that I'm trying to scare you. I'm not going to scare you. But you're roleplaying characters that could be horrified by all the scary stuff going on. You also have real life stuff to deal with at the same time. That's kind of where the comedy is. You have no sense of priority. Everything is equally important and life-shattering -- whether it's needing to study for a test, getting the name of someone you briefly met Saturday night, or stopping a serial killer. It's all equally important to you. No priorities, you deal with it all. And it's all probably going to be related before the end."

      • #5
        For my "Scary Texas" campaign, I went through the Degrees of Horror adventure hooks and wrote the name and brief description of every NPC and place name. So I had a list of dorm rooms and roommates ready for my players, and I knew a little bit about them, and by the time "their adventure" popped up, they were already fully flesh-out characters that the PC's had known for awhile. I got a lot of mileage out of Grant (always getting into trouble), Dan (party frenemy), and Missy (activist and party girl). Of course I had a few of my own, too.

        Most of the ones in the book only contain a name and maybe a one-sentence background, so I usually ended up coming up with my own backgrounds and personalities for them early on. I gave each one a label in my notes: Adult, Geek, Rebel, Artist, or Elite. And that kind of determined who they hung out with, what they looked like, and where they could be found.
        Last edited by LordRahvin; 02-13-2020, 06:34 AM.


        • Eric
          Eric commented
          Editing a comment
          Lord Rahvin, that's tasty stuff. I bookmarked a bunch of sites and one (12 to Midnight maybe ?) described a roommate who was a Beta tester for video games (possibly not legally). Maybe it was Scary Texas where I saw that. Yes I plan to take copious notes and write-up each session and keep a spreadsheet of anyone they encounter. Because it will often come up, "Who was the girl that was being hassled by the Football guy in the cafeteria, the one that knew the Hebrew alphabet ?" … I think the term I am looking for is "Verisimilitude".

          And back to Kolchak the Night Stalker … one episode had a vengeful Indian spirit awakened during the building of a hospital (Matchemonedo, "Bear God."). Another was one that could turn into a coyote or a crow and collected gems (Diablero). Both would fit nicely into my game, as they blend in American Indian and Mexican mythos.

      • #6
        Came up with another idea for an annoying roommate (even without the hindrance), a guy/gal who runs a "C-store" out of their dorm room. Cardboard boxes full of granola bars, pop tarts, bags of chips and popcorn, candy bars, ramen noodles, etc. Student takes classes starting after 11 so he/she can sell to students on-the-run ("too late for dining hall, need to grab and go"). People ALWAYS coming by and knocking and interrupting. Prices undercut the snack machines on the first floor. Maybe also sells little single-shot bottles of booze under the table.

        Question is where is the nearest Costco/Sam's Club ? The student must drive a ways (like three towns away) on Sat/Sun to stock up. How annoying for the PC to have this character living with him/her ! Probably a business or economics major, hehe.


        • OK5
          OK5 commented
          Editing a comment
          The roommate could actually try to convince the PC to make those drives, not paying back etc.
          Very annoying indeed.
          As for location, you could just invent some Costco in an insignificant town nearby

        • Eric
          Eric commented
          Editing a comment
          I found a Sam's Club in nearby Lufkin TX … a little more than an hour NW of the imaginary town of Pinebox TX.
          The C-store roommate may ask for help unloading boxes and offer the PC the right to dip in and grab snacks for free, for
          putting up with his/her room being used as a convenience store. "Just write on this clipboard what you take" hahaha.
          Can you imagine coming from the shower and having to change with the dormitory door open ? Awkward. Privacy wall for sure.
          Roommate will have a sliding half-door/counter blocking entry to the room during AM sales hours :-)

      • #7
        SWADE gives Human Characters a "free edge" at character creation to balance out the lack of racial goodies (scaly skin, flight, ...).
        Do ETU characters, who must be human, get a free edge, outside of the normal purchase of edges for half of hindrance costs ? I'm looking in the books but nada so far.
        I think it is fair, since ETU builds on top of SWADE.But then all the NPCs wildcards etc would also get one and I don't think their stat blocks give them that free edge.

        "Humans in most settings get one free Edge of their choice. This option reflects their versatility and adaptability compared to most other races."


        • Deskepticon
          Deskepticon commented
          Editing a comment
          "Free Edge." **sigh** Such an unfortunate choice of words. I'm willing to bet the quoted sentence was the source of the confusion.

          As for the NPCs, non-player characters don't follow the normal build rules. A human Novice NPC can have one Edge, no Edges, or 15 Edges... it all depends on what that NPC's purpose is.

      • #8
        ETU uses the standard character creation rules. That includes the "choose a Race from the ones available in the setting" step. As you noted, human is the only available race. Since ETU does not provide an alternative racial build, characters use the standard core rules Human race during character creation.

        TL;DR answer - Yes.
        I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


        • #9
          Originally posted by Eric View Post
          SWADE gives Human Characters a "free edge" at character creation to balance out the lack of racial goodies (scaly skin, flight, ...).
          Not exactly.
          Humans get Adaptable, which is a +2 Racial Ability. A human's adaptibility and flexibility is as innate to them as a rakashans claws or an avions wings. It's not meant to "balance out" a lack of anything... it's just what they get.

          Calling it a "free" Edge is a bit of a misnomer, IMHO.

          Do ETU characters, who must be human, get a free edge, outside of the normal purchase of edges for half of hindrance costs ?
          A) Yes, humans in ETU get Adaptable.
          B) "Half of Hindrance costs???" I'm not sure what you're referring to here, but it sound incorrect. A Minor Hindrance awards 1 bonus build point, and a Major Hindrance awards 2 bonus build points, up to a maximum of 4 points. An Edge can be purchased with 2 bonus build points, meaning a character with a full allotment of Hindrances (4 points) can buy two Edges.
          ...and, yes, these are in addition to Adaptable.

          I think it is fair, since ETU builds on top of SWADE.
          Nope. ETU was originally written for the Deluxe ruleset. That's why PEG released a conversion document (linked up above, post #2).

          But then all the NPCs wildcards etc would also get one and I don't think their stat blocks give them that free edge.
          Addressed in the comment, but worth repeating...
          NPCs don't follow the normal build rules. The GM (or in this case, the setting designer) just gives them whatever abilities, Edges, Hindrances, etc., that they feel are necessary. A human NPC doesn't need to have Adaptable. This is explained more fully in the Designing Threats section of Savage Worlds.

          Okay, I'll stop being a jerk now.


          • Eric
            Eric commented
            Editing a comment
            -> "Half of Hindrance costs???"

            I was awkwardly trying to describe where at creation if you buy 4 points of hindrances you can buy 2 points of Edges - among other things (attribute increase, skill).
            I need to look at "Adaptable", I start my ETU game in about a month and am reading the ETU and SWADE rulebooks and cross-notating. (ie, changes like Throw and Climb are now in Athletics). It's a big ramp-up but I played ETU (about a semester of freshman) two years ago. It was on Fantasy Grounds so I didn't need to understand the "roll wild die and pick highest" - I thought they were added, or something. FG hid the computation and I was a N00b.

            Has anyone tackled updating the ten Character Archetypes ? Even if it is only textual ("drop skill X and increase Y to d6")

        • #10
          Ok thank you (vrrry much!) to my friends who responded to my question ! I have a lot to do in the next 30 days. Obviously !! I read the first portion of the combat section of SWADE and by watching Wildcards play ETU I think I have a grasp on the basics. The hard part I think is keeping track of who is under a condition like "Distracted" or "Entangled" or "Ganging up" - I'll be using minis and tokens to try to simplify that. Litko (on Amazon) has a lot of little colorful doo-dads for this.

          I've played D&D since the original Chainmail pamphlets, and the blue boxed set with the chits (1976?) … so managing a battlefield and initiative and spell effects should be pretty easy. YES - I have the ETU conversion to SWADE PDF file, and have been a busy bee getting it all together. Two of the players have the SWADE rulebook too, so we'll be learning together.

          Today's roommate (or another guy on the floor of the dorm) -
          An older student affectionately called "Dad" because while he attends college, his wife and small twins live in a trailer park nearby. He might be around 25, she works at one of the shops the Wildcards may visit (fast food or something) to pay her rent/expenses. He has to live in the Dorm as a frosh but is likely awarded an exception after a year. He is vrrry studious and takes it all seriously, should be a balance against the "YO! Let's Party!" culture. He may come off as a bit of a dick at first. Never brings his babies to the dorm. Maybe works on-campus related to his major (library, lab, media center, …) to augment his grant money.

          My group so far (4 or 5 consistent players):
          A female music [oboe] major (Great - the one major not covered in ETU. Maybe there's a small orchestra and a tiny Music program that works in conjunction with a program in Austin).
          A male jock with Psychic Sensitivity (getting the Edge name wrong but, you know).

          So there IS a Wal*Mart in Pinebox. Still need to place a Costco or Sam's Club in Jasper, mebbe.


          • #11
            One of the two players (nothing back from the other two or three yet) also took the Spirit Guardian edge. Instead of the usual dog or cat I am considering the player's wizened, dying Great-Grandfather held on to life just long enough to hold his first great-grandchild, and he died with the baby in his arms, forever connecting the two. Maybe the Great-Grandfather can go onto his great reward when the player has HIS/HER first child. I need to read the edge closely but it has a distinctive "The Sixth Sense" feel, where the little boy told his mom that Grandmother (Spirit) is the one moving the jeweled pin around her room because it was her favorite.


            • #12
              With the Virus Scare ongoing, I bought Fantasy Grounds - Ultimate (not the new beta test version of Unity) and the FG Products for the SWADE ruleset, ETU ruleset, and Degrees of Horror (I have hardcopy and PDF versions of these). I plan to run ETU on-line in Fantasy Grounds until things look more promising out in the world. Also plan to use Discord for voice and texting (I have no need to record nor broadcast the stream, so no OBS nor Zoom, VSee, Twitch, etc). Anyone else do this ? Loading ETU on top of SWADE ? I think I'll become a "baptized by fire" FG programmer quickly.


              • #13
                One player (the Art/Music Major) tried to take the "Second Fiddle" hindrance and the "Lucky" edge. I told him to re-choose one or the other as they are close to undoing each other, similar to what the SWADE rulebook calls out regarding taking both "Unlucky" and "Lucky" (not permitted). He instead selected "Hesitant" which fits the character he is developing. Also took "'Fraidy Cat" and left Strength and Agility at a d4 … the very definition of a non-combatant.


                • #14
                  Everyone plays it differently, but for whatever it's worth I would have let the player take the first combo. Second Fiddle is a roleplay hindrance whereas Lucky is mechanical. If anything, it would be amusing for a lucky character who keeps pulling off amazing stunts to always be overlooked by NPCs and never get credit for the cool things they do (Second Fiddle). Now if it was Second Fiddle and something like Attractive then those two probably wouldn't go well together.
                  Author of:
                  East Texas University
                  Degrees of Horror
                  and more...


                  • Eric
                    Eric commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks for the advice ! It just struck me as meta-gamey to take a hindrance that only hinders some of the time, offset by the edge … the player agreed it was hokie :-)

                    I'm developing a map for the Roost presently because I just can't visualize it. Basketball court on main level, basement beneath, you enter the bleachers from the main (ground) level and you enter the "court" from the basement, it has training rooms (for medical treatment), showers/locker rooms, storage, several classrooms (like around 20 or so), a loading dock on the side opposing the main entrance. And of course the rooms controlling utility, electrical, and water/sprinklers. Outside the locker rooms are the long glass trophy display cases built into the walls.

                    I hope it makes sense that there are two ways into this round structure - four double doors for the crowds and the rear loading garage doors. You can walk around the circumference of the bleacher area/arena without going in at the four corners, and there are 4 sets of steps that lead to the basement.

                • #15
                  Eric I imagine the court to look something like this:

                  Click image for larger version

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                  Where I placed the "1" is the Main Entrance from the lobby to the bleechers, and "2" would lead to the the locker room (left) and maintenance rooms (right).


                  • Eric
                    Eric commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I whipped up a map of The Roost (posted under the thread where someone asked) ...