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[Rippers, Spoilers] Tips for Running a Rippers Campaign. AMA,

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  • [Rippers, Spoilers] Tips for Running a Rippers Campaign. AMA,

    My party just finished our Rippers campaign last weekend and I wanted to share my experience with the savage worlds community. We played the original 2005 campaign over the last 8 months, with some homebrew content thrown in. We used the SWADE ruleset and played over Fantasy Grounds and I had roughly 4 players on any given night, and it was a lot of fun however there are things I wish that I knew prior to running this campaign so I will try to go through those one at a time. This is less of a how to handle specific plot points, since that is covered pretty well in the Rippers rulebook. This is more of general tips on running a rippers campaign based on my experiences with this setting.
    So a big part of the game is creating and maintaining a lodge, and it is generally thought of that you would gain a lodge either at creation or by Seasoned rank according to Rippers: Resurrected. We tried to use these rules however the PPC was really not very friendly towards player owned lodges. Most major locations have lodges far older and more established, and it would be better to use the resources of a friendly lodge than found a new one. Such as London has the van Hellsing lodge, there is no reason to create a second lodge here. The campaign then proceeded to throw another curveball at us by never having the party actually settle down in one area for any length of time. After a few plot points we started globe trotting and never really stopped, going from London to Scottland, to Egypt, to Turkey there really wasn't any time to stop and settle down. I had started by having the party acquire a sponser for their lodge and whatnot but we dropped the whole plotline by the end of the campaign. Ultimately we didn't use this system for this campaign.

    So the namesake of the setting, Rippertech. I had a love-hate relationship with this part, on one hand I really loved the idea of Rippertech and was a major selling point for myself and my players but on the other hand it was not as big of a part of the game as any of had expected. There wasn't enough incentive even prior to the big reveal about the nature of rippertech to actually get it. I only had two players actually get any implants and only of of them actually had any interest in getting more rippertech after creation. The downsides to rippertech seemed to be too damning to incentivize getting it for the benefits it granted or was too difficult to actually acquire. I had to be pretty lenient with requirements and offered up plenty of extracts to be used. They ended up treating these like potions, and were overall very helpful. A few custom ones to grant regeneration for a limited time or function as the Heal power worked wonders for not having an actual healer on hand for the majority of the campaign.

    So the best idea is probably to actually give quests for acquire specimens for rippertech by other rippers or lodges, and make it readily available. Really this should have been a central theme of the setting and being near full up on rippertech near the end of the campaign or have increased rewards for bringing a creature back alive.

    So the thing that really stood out about the original campaign is it is LONG. We managed it in roughly 8 months but that is because I started to increase the pace of the campaign skipping over side content in order to progress the story, but really each area should have been fleshed out as an individual mini campaign. The story itself tends to give you an illusion of urgency, so the players will likely want to pursue the main plot and actually found other plot hooks to be distracting. I got frequent complaints about having too much to do at any given time so they tended to just try and focus on finding van hellsing. Which is fine but that brings me back to my point about lodges, you really dont have time to actually settle down and build one. Alot of the making nice and meeting with people, the whole carousing thing was just really difficult to work in if it wasn't part of the plot.

    The other part of the campaign that a gm should know going in is that the big reveal in the campaign has little to no build up as written. So when it is revealed that rippertech damns a ripper and the forces of hell are using that rippertech to actually make monsters stronger, the players are completely blindsided. If i could go back and do it again i would start throwing monsters or cabal agents with rippertech and monster bloodlines at about the 50% marker in the campaign. Make a big deal about it, take a monster in for vivesection and reveal that it has abnormal traits in some way from others of its kind. Play up the mutations, get crazy with it. Werewolves with paralytic poison in their claws, vampire with insect wings, throw in a zombie lord with human intelligence and cunning. One might even have the eyes of a ripper the knew before he was killed. Play this up.

    The other part of the campaign I noticed was that Dracula's involvement is seemingly random and only in the story because he was left out. There is no mention of Dracula being involved in any of this until the very end when the players need to actually go there. Vampires as an organized force should have been involved since the start, I would insert them in even if it was simply having them show up alongside cabal forces and hinting at their allegiance.

    Which I suppose now is my final note on this campaign, the campaign really does come across as a theme park ride across classic horror flicks. Everyone makes an appearance sooner or later, we have Jack the Ripper, Dr. Moreau, Dr Jekyll/Mr Hide, Dr. Prometheus, Frankensteins Monster, even Imhotep and of course Dracula. I understand wanting to include them but really each one of these guys could have been the big bad of a campaign, the PPC should have highlighted one or two to really focus on and then have the others sort of the side but directly involved. Dr Jack never actually makes an appearance until the very end you just are chasing ghosts most of the time. Here there really isnt much i could have done differently without extending the length of the campaign to well over two years.

    Homebrew Campaign
    So i think if i were to run my own campaign with this later down the line the biggest things I would do differently is I would bring the scope of the campaign down to a much smaller area. Pick a place in the world say London and keep my adventures around that area and my threats less globe spanning and more local. This would allow the rippers to get settled and actually care about the people they interract with and get to actually know the various personalities. Could be London, or it could be France, Germany, Africa or wherever but give them a region to adventure in and actually build a home. If it is a world trotting campaign then give them a ship as a lodge, or a train. Though even though they would be in a smaller scope they can still travel the world when needed but have them return to their lodge. The world is smaller than it was a few hundred years ago due to the steam engine but it still takes a while to get places. So travelling is a big deal, when they do travel have the party stay in the new area for a while and have a proper adventure there. Dont just show up for one tale and leave. If the story is about a journey then dont worry about the lodge.

    Also just in case i needed to say it borrow monsters from sources like solomon kane, etu, or any other area give them regional flairs and quirks. Also you can have a plain ole vampire as a main antagonist if you make him as a character interesting and make it more about how he is a villain rather than his nature as a vampire.

    Anyway these are some thing I learned about how to run rippers and are the tips I would give anyone interested in running a rippers game. If anyone has any questions i'll be happy to give you my insight on it. It is only one perspective but I hope I can help. it might have sounded like a lot of complaining but the campaign was a lot of fun or we would not have stuck with it as long as we did.
    Last edited by Ocule; 04-05-2021, 02:43 AM.

  • #2
    A setting with some similar themes is Accursed from Melior Via. One way to describe it is Hellboy crossed with Solomon Kane, with a dash of Castlevania. Characters can become more or less monstrous based on their actions. However, both paths are treated as legitimate. So going down the more monstrous path doesn't result in your character being retired into an NPC. It also has a pretty good PPC. There's a SWADE update on DriveThru, which I haven't checked out yet. Hopefully, it addresses some of the balance issues for the different Accursed types.
    You're rational, sir. It's only us crazy people who get to swap out realities on a whim.


    • #3
      I don’t remember what rank we were when we set up our lodge, but we ended up choosing Malta since it was centrally located between Europe and Africa. The benefit was that it was run by the Knights Hospitaller which we already had loose connections with and so were able to have them run our lodge for us when we were elsewhere. I don’t recall how much time we actually spent there, but it allowed us to do the base management stuff, which IIRC, gave us bonuses when the GM had us run one of those side missions the lodges do without PC involvement. As for Rippertech, we kind of accidentally side stepped the issue because the only guy that created a character that was interested in using it dropped early in the campaign and the rest of us were playing characters with a dim view towards its usage.

      Having participated in this campaign for over 2 years and it being the only one I’ve ever been in that lasted long enough for us to still be playing well into Legendary, I could never bring myself to run the Rippers Resurrected PPC though.