November Update: New Projects and Releases

It’s been a long time since we’ve updated our site. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy! In fact, we’ve been working on quite a few different things, including some brand-new stuff that we’re excited to show off.

For starters, The Plagued Crypt of Helvete, our third-party module for the award-winning dark fantasy game Mӧrk Borg, has finally been released! This is a one-shot adventure for starting characters that’s fully compatible with any other Mӧrk Borg products. We’ve been working hard to make sure this project was up to our standards, and we’re thrilled with how the final version looks and feels. Kickstarter backers should have all received their pledges by now.

If you didn’t back it on Kickstarter, you can get your PDF or softcover copy through DriveThruRPG here. 

Speaking of Kickstarters, our sci-fi game Nebula Chaos has also funded on Kickstarter! This space opera inspired sci-fi RPG features all the phasers, laser swords, dogfighting starships, and space pirates you can handle, all wrapped up in a quick-playing and easy-to-use rules system. The book includes everything you need to play, from character creation to an introductory adventure to help you orient yourself to the Voluspa Galaxy. Check out the project here!

Nebula Chaos is the second product using our Polyhedra Core Engine, previously seen in Justice Velocity. Accordingly we’ve updated the site with information on our license (found here). Our goal is to ensure that anyone can pick up one of our products and make something of their own using our core ruleset. We believe strongly that this is an important step for Polyhedra Games, so we’re looking forward to seeing how people build on our foundation to create something truly unique.

Lastly, we haven’t forgotten about that Justice Velocity variant cover, which is coming out soon! We’ll have more information soon on what that will look like and how to get it.

Thanks for supporting Polyhedra Games!

Classic opening sequences for tabletop RPG campaigns

by Clipper Arnold. Featured image from Robotech

The beginning of any journey starts with the first step. After you’ve read all your books, gathered friends, and created characters, it’s time to get into the action. Though, where is best to begin your epic tale?

You typically want to establish a scene with a sense of dynamism, give characters a chance to get acquainted if they haven’t yet met, and help quickly establish a “why?” for them all to join forces. Crossing all those bases can be a bit precarious. That is of course, unless they all happen to stumble into:

The Tavern

There’s a time-honored custom of beginning fantasy RPGs in a dimly lit tavern, often with a mysterious hooded stranger granting a quest to a party of adventurers. A boisterous cast of bar patrons and wildcard bartenders are also often a must.

D&D tavern. Source Doodlehound93

Having played TTRPGs for the better part of two decades, I’ve played many games which began with this basic premise. Sometimes the heroes are urged to rid the goblin scourge in the nearby forest or dungeon. Oftentimes there is a ridiculous bar fight featuring grappling and broken glasses. On more than one occasion there’s been dice gambling or darts games like you might find at an actual tavern. Sometimes there is a problem to be solved with dire rats in the basement, or a mysterious source of poison in the ale. Whatever the case, just like in real life, the allure of a bar can often be the start of a great adventure.

And truthfully, this is a great starting point. There’s a reason many choose to tread the well-trodden path. A trope so ubiquitous has many interpretations and directions to go based on the DM and the synergy of the players. It’s like a folk tale or myth that changes with each re-telling. And this particular one may have originated from a particular scene in the original Lord of the Rings books, where the hobbits first encounter Strider at The Prancing Pony.

The Space Bar

But what if your game isn’t in a fantasy setting? What if it’s a sci-fi game in space? Easy. You can adapt the “you all walk into a tavern” opener to be about a bar on a floating satellite in the middle of a neutral zone. Instead of darts they have space pinball. Instead of drunken dwarfs there are weird aliens. Instead of beer there is … uh … space beer! Which is basically the same but spacier: a neon green or purple liquid adorned with psychedelic garnish. Carousing in space is always cooler anyway.

A portion of a Space Riders variant cover. Source Black Mask Studios

In fact, the cantina scene from the first Star Wars movie is basically just this if you think about it. It’s a way to establish and acquaint new characters in a chaotic environment before they join forces on a shared quest. Attack of the Clones also essentially opens with a bar scene as well.

You can add space truckers, space princesses in disguise with lost puppies, imperial businessmen, traders, and dangerous bounty hunters as well. I actually ran a space bar opener as one of my Session 0s in Nebula Chaos playtesting. I let the players shape the narrative by interacting with various NPCs, which ultimately helped develop into one of several paths to pursue.

Basically the point is that you can adapt the tavern paradigm to any particular setting. For instance, in an urban fantasy game which was more modern and slightly goofy, we had paranormal detectives visiting a hip coffee shop which had some demonic patrons. Players sighted a mysterious local occurrence in a newspaper and decided to pull the thread.

In Media Res

If you’re not gonna go with the classic beverage-based tactic, however, you might as well start with a bang. Literally. Forget the backstories for now and let the PCs prove their worth right off the bat in a trial by fire.

I’ve seen sessions start with players riding atop motorcycles in Korea trying to outrun a bunch of bounty hunters. Or the town square was under attack from an evil cult or a group of brigands and the players needed to quickly pick up their bows and fight. I also maintain that the beginning of The Witcher 2 is one of the best in media res openers in video games I’ve seen. You’re instantly slinging swords and running away from a dragon blowing up a bridge with its flame breath all within the first 10 minutes. This opener’s all about hitting hard and fast.

Screen cap from Gurren Lagann

One of my favorite openers I’ve personally ran with this was at the start of a mecha RPG using The Mecha Hack. The game was basically a retelling of important events of the French Revolution, but in space and with mecha. The revolutionary flagship was called The Guillotine, for example, and the campaign began with revolutionaries storming the prison planet Bastille. The players were prisoners on the inside for one reason or another, and their first session was basically a prison break. They had to escape their cell block, locate their mechs, and take on imperial guard mecha in a hail of explosive fire before joining the revolution.

The appeal of kicking it into action right off the jump is that players can quickly start tossing dice and get some cheap exciting adrenaline thrills pretty immediately after pulling up to the table, rather than waiting to suss out the lore, world, and various narrative elements. You get to experience the narrative in effect as it’s unfolding and smacking you in the face, and players’ characters, backstories, and reasons for being end up being quickly demonstrated, developed or fall into place.

A Flashback/Flashforward

Alternatively, you can open with a brief moment of action and have the pieces fall back into place. This one can be tricky to pull off, but is intriguing.

We started a Shadowrun campaign once with players being handcuffed and held in the back of a police vehicle. One of the cops started saying, “I can’t believe you did all that and got away with it for so long,” before it faded back to them sitting at an apartment and getting a mysterious phone call. Honestly, sometimes the pieces don’t always add up to that moment in the narrative, but it can still read as a fortune that can someday come true; making for an interesting opener.

A lineup of metahumans in Shadowrun

Gathered to Do a Job

This is actually one of the more standard openers, but it can be tough to get right. One of the biggest problems to crack with any RPG opener is getting PCs together for a shared purpose. And, one of the easiest outs is, of course, that various people from different walks of life often gather in order to collect a paycheck.

In fantasy games, PCs can often begin the game as heroes-for-hire after responding to a guild, noble person, or town council’s quest bulletin. In Shadowrun, a mysterious employer (“Mr. Johnson”) often gathers a group of gnarly mercenaries to do a tough job. In a sci-fi setting, you can assemble a ship of bounty hunters to take out a bad guy or recover a stolen object.

Yeah, some characters thrive on the thrill of adventure, being part of team, or relishing an opportunity to excel at what they do best, but ultimately, all the characters in this opener are pretty much unified as freelancers looking to stab things in exchange for cold hard cash or shiny gold coins. And that’s cool. Semi-ruthless mercenaries, bounty hunters, and smugglers are great tabletop RPG characters for this type of thing.

Screen shot from One Piece

This is a good opener for a quick and dirty roleplaying when you don’t have a Session 0 and just want to get players right to the quest. Ideally, however, you want to flesh it out or give it a twist if you can. Session 0s can be instrumental for detailing out how characters know each other and their reason for being in the group. If one of the PCs isn’t a treasure-hungry brigand, for example, maybe he’s a partner of his brother who is; or maybe they both need to raise funds in order to heal a dying relative. Sometimes money alone isn’t enough to motivate and keep a campaign going, especially if your characters are commanding a high enough price to retire after a big job!

Alternatively, doing a job or gathering for a shared task doesn’t necessarily need to be money-driven either. Characters can be assigned a task after coming together to join the ranks of revolutionaries or a military. Maybe they’ve been assembled to protect their town, or to prevent a horrible apocalyptic scenario and they’re the only team with the stuff to get it done (or the only heroes available).

Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody in the Fast & Furious franchise

One of the ways in which I would typically start Justice Velocity previously is that player characters are black-bagged and taken to a secret location of a shadowy government agency. A guy in a suit claims he has dirt on all the characters and can put them away for life unless they’re willing to take on a special mission.

This side-steps the money-driven component, which can be difficult to assign a workable and replicable value to in modern or futuristic settings for something beyond the scope of a one-shot mission. However, it also takes a certain degree of choice away from players, as well as the agency to define their own characters’ collective purpose in the narrative.

Again, developing complex motivations and shared purpose is important for this opener, as with all the rest. Sometimes you can get that from a Session 0 or sometimes it develops from the course of play. And players who rake in a bunch of gold from a few dungeons might need more of a reason to exist. Overall, these are some quick excuses to get the PCs together and acquainted before getting onto their larger narrative.

Conclusion

Ultimately, these are all just some cool ideas and inspiration to get your session going. There’s no real right or wrong way to do things as long as everyone’s having a good time.

And, by and large, most PCs will be willing to play nice and find a reason to get along if you point them in the direction of a quest or task to accomplish. These are just a few thoughts on how to make that process more cool, believable, interesting, and fun.

Whether it begins in a bar, with a bang, with a bounty, or mixture of all, or something else entirely, beginning a campaign is always exciting and an opportunity to try out a fresh opening sequence. How you begin can certainly impact the journey and the tone of a campaign, but remember it all starts with the first step.

November Update: Justice Velocity Variant Cover and THE PLAGUED CRYPT OF HELVETE

In case you missed it, our Mork Borg Kickstarter has blown past expectations with over 1700% funded at the time of writing! We’re smashing through stretch goals and figuring out what comes next. A huge thank you to everyone here who has supported us so far, and a huge heads up for those who are interested and have thus far missed out. 

A plagued beast has invaded the city of Galgenbeck, and a bounty has been placed on its head. The Plagued Crypt of Helvete is a one-shot adventure that can either introduce new players to MÖRK BORG, or be incorporated into an existing campaign. Take on horrid beasts, investigate a diseased crypt, and face down the demon at the heart of this entire matter. 

That’s not all! 

We also have a brand new variant cover for Justice Velocity coming soon. Whether you’re a collector of all things awesome or just love the cover, this is the same awesome Justice Velocity in a brand new cover. Coming soon to DriveThruRPG in both hardcover (29.99 USD) and softcover (19.99 USD). 

Justice Velocity is an RPG that lets you be the action hero from your favorite movies, whether they be action comedies like Rush Hour or the modern madcap of The Fast & The Furious franchise. 

Comic Pages from an Upcoming Mörk Borg Compatible Polyhedra Games Module: THE PLAGUED CRYPT OF HELVETE

We are working on an upcoming Mörk Borg module titled The Plagued Crypt of Helvete. Mörk Borg is an Ennie-award-winning rules-lite OSR-inspired tabletop RPG. It’s a dark and grim fantasy world with stunning design sensibilities cast against a black metal backdrop. It’s aesthetically brilliant and easy to play… perhaps needless to say, but we’re big fans.

The Plagued Crypt of Helvete will get a digital release both on our webstore and on DriveThruRPG. It is a three act adventure module meant to jumpstart any new Mörk Borg campaign. Players begin in Galgenbeck, where a plagued boar has been ravaging the town. They accept a bounty to explore the northern forests for the cause of the mayhem, and happen upon a crypt that may be more trouble than they’ve bargained for.

We’re happy to share that the official Mörk Borg twitter account also retweeted this comic:

Here’s a sample of the beginning of the module, which features a short comic. Be sure to check it out and subscribe to our socials (@polyhedragames) and mailing list for the upcoming release!

New! Justice Velocity Character Generator

Check out the Justice Velocity character generator here!

Download and extract the .rar at the link above, and create an infinite amount of action heroes for use in the Justice Velocity role-playing game. Select stats, abilities, skills, and more. Write notes and keep track of items! Share with players and newcomers to help them leap even quicker into the action movie universe.

Here are a few quick ones for reference:

Justice Velocity Loot Drop #3

Loot Drops is a recurring segment on new items, equipment, weapons, and abilities to airdrop into any Justice Velocity campaign.

You walk into the large living room with caution and a pistol gripped to moist leather gloves. The shuttered windows trace perfectly parallel rays of light across the empty carpeted floor. You open a mirrored sliding closet door and find a pulpy smelling cardboard box labeled “RECON.” You dig through the cords, ports, and controllers to find some useful stuff:

Hexicopter

Goggles

Enthralled by the new equipment, you shuffle through the box, clanging plastic and tempered glass together. You catch traces of reflected light cast on the closet wall. You’re quick enough to turn and see a scope pointed at the beads of sweat on your forehead wrinkles, which gives you an instant to brace yourself for the shot. Just before the blast, a cat leaps from the loft above onto the weapon-supporting arm of the enemy. The masked grunt drops his pistol, and your two shots tag him in the chest — knocking him out cold.

Small Companion

You befriend the abandoned feline and throw her in your backpack; her head poking out. You can’t sell a cat on the black market for as much as refrigerator or dryer parts, but at least she has your back. Her and the ‘copter and goggles might come in handy.

Reward your players with some of these fun new items in your next JV session. You never know what creative solutions they will come up with. Thanks for playing~


EVOS ULTRA is an artist and contributor to Polyhedra Games.
Instagram: @dean_evos_ultra

Justice Velocity Loot Drop #2

Loot Drops is a recurring segment from Polyhedra Games which details new items, equipment, weapons, and abilities to airdrop into any Justice Velocity campaign.

We’re back with more loot for your action movie universe. Feel free to stuff these items into treasure chests, reward players at the end of sessions, or load them onto enemies and NPCs. This week’s kit includes a superhero costume to give you an edge in combat, a hypnosis kit for inducing trances, and a handheld gaming system to virtually practice your drifting.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Don’t worry. We’ll be back next week with a new set. If you have suggestions, send us a message here or on the Polyhedra Games Facebook page.

Superhero Costume

Whether you want the classic leather boots and spandex look or a more modern ‘fit, the Superhero Costume will give your character the hyper-awareness and valiant attitude necessary to leap into battle before the opponent gets a chance to move.

Hypnosis Kit

The next item is inspired by our latest JV session, where the players infiltrated a circus and caught a murderous saboteur. The Hypnosis Kit was wielded by a carnival magician, but you can work this item into any story line as another chaotic element.

Big Ass Handheld Gaming System

Finally, we have the Big Ass Handheld Gaming System. Your character gets a couple of skill bonuses that are not PWR based. Has your character been looking for shrines in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? That definitely translates to better Spot/Search abilities. Maybe they’ve been playing a lot of cooking simulators like Overcooked. Hell yeah, chef, that makes your Craft skill go up! It’s whatever the player decides on, but be sure to work it into the story line for some added flavor to the campaign.

Give it all you got with these new items! We’ll see you soon with more gear to throw into your character’s backpack and glove box. Thanks for reading and playing JV~

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EVOS ULTRA is an artist and contributor to Polyhedra Games.
Twitter: @xtulipmaniax

Justice Velocity Review: Simply, I’m Stuck In My Favorite Movies

By Eric of Cluster Cove

Master of the pavement, second to none by the way of the gun; Justice Velocity has given me the tools needed to pull off the perfect heist with my friends. Upon getting my mitts on this tabletop role-playing game, I can’t seem to stop playing it.

I’ve been playing tabletop role-playing games since 2009, both in person and online as a game master and player. One of the biggest fears I contended with was watching my art teacher in high school play Dungeons & Dragons on an early edition, knowing that I had to learn the system before playing my first ever session with a master and his pupils.

I was intimidated by the complex rules that accompanied the game and opted to remain a spectator. Soon some friends who were also new to the experience sought me out to take the leap into tabletop role-playing games, which gave me the confidence to change my life forever.

Justice Velocity – Lao’s Retirement Trailer from Cluster Cove on YouTube

Presently my mission is to never let rules or arguing slow down the story and role-play. The process of throwing a fireball or back-flipping through a hail of bullets should make sense, but never be arduous. You never hand-wave a process when it works perfectly to begin with. 

Justice Velocity has hit the mark, giving the players the right amount of rules and plenty of space to attach their own if they feel so inclined. The game thrives in speed, purposefully so.

For years I’ve put up with complex game systems that seemed to be a pain for the sake of it, only because I loved the flavor of the worlds they offered. Hundreds of hours spent converting said complex games into another streamlined system I favored, it makes me wish Justice Velocity was in my sights before doing so.

Now I find Justice Velocity’s mechanics making friends with all of my role-playing games. The way the developers handle driving is second to none for me. I’ve struggled with making my players who only play driver-type characters feel their speed and skills behind a wheel match the pacing and simplicity of players who swing swords and shoot guns.

Nothing ever feels like I’m fudging the game, so they feel included and powerful when it’s their turn to smash the pedal. Before, others would internally groan when it was my driver’s turn in combat, but now they are revered and wanted–which, to this day, blows my mind.

Justice Velocity has hit the mark, giving the players the right amount of rules and plenty of space to attach their own if they feel so inclined. The game thrives in speed, purposefully so.

I’ve used Justice Velocity to bring in people who have never played tabletop role-playing games before at my college. You can start playing with people who have no concept of taking on a role, and turn them into the best computer hacker to ever grace the internet in under thirty minutes.

There’s no “beginner’s only/veteran’s only” stamp for tabletop role-playing games in my opinion. It either works well with itself and gives users everything they need to function, or it doesn’t. Veteran players and myself that use Justice Velocity simply love it because it’s the former.

Games considered “simple” still dominate, like Mario as an example: fantastic and beloved because they excel at what they offer to the player. Justice Velocity is snugly placed next to my collection of Dungeons & Dragons books on my shelf, all equally a thrilling and stress-free experience to play.

My first question before playing any tabletop role-playing game is, “Does it give me the opportunity to collaboratively tell stories with friends without frying my brain to exist within the game world?” Justice Velocity leaves bullet holes in all the check boxes.


Cluster Cove crafts high quality live plays of tabletop role-playing games, Justice Velocity included, on his YouTube channel.

Justice Velocity Loot Drop #1

Loot Drops is a recurring segment on new items, equipment, weapons, and abilities to airdrop into any Justice Velocity campaign.

“Sorry I’m late,” or whatever. We have arrived just in time with some new items and equipment to save you from that double-agent mini boss. Stock up your treasure chests, shops, and baddies with these new assets.

Cool cool, but not your style? Don’t worry. We’ll be back next week with a new booster pack of three.

This first item is inspired by Clipper’s character, Jack Wolfe. Before jumping into battle, Jack will usually plug in his headphones and put on nu-metal to drown out the noise. It was only appropriate to give him an upgrade that had some additional utility.

No need to seek a shaman, fortune teller, or your g-man anymore. Find out for yourself who is evil and what they’re planning with the magical gift of vague certainty. Prescience awaits.

Must Cop.

Let us know how you decide to throw these into your campaign. We’ll see you soon with more gear to stack up for your next adventure. Thanks for playing JV~

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EVOS ULTRA is an artist and contributor to Polyhedra Games.
Twitter: @xtulipmaniax