Author Topic: Chicken Riding Murder Hobos III+2  (Read 90 times)


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Chicken Riding Murder Hobos III+2
« on: March 19, 2018, 11:33:58 am »
TL;DR - Maybe skip to "The Way of Things" or "The Midoriyama Green".

Introduction & Background:

What a long strange trip it's been...
My current campaign is going through a bit of flux. The world is something I've been working on for a few years from a concept perspective. Mostly gathering ideas, thinking about how the world came about, how it works, etc. This current incarnation started as a cross between a Firefly game and a Final Fantasy themed game.

We had just finished a disastrous Firefly RPG game run by another member of the group, and she shortly left the group due to time reasons. Well, I wanted to run a Firefly game (using the Cortex Plus rule set), but was advised by my wife that it probably would send the wrong message to the last GM (e.g. "Your game sucked, we hated it; Here is the RIGHT way to run a Firefly game."). So keeping that in mind, I decided to mutate the Firefly rule set using the Cortext Plus Hacker's Guide (using the Fantasy Heroic rules), mix the setting with Final Fantasy and see what came out.

In the end, the world is pretty cool, and I think all the players like it so far... The rules however were not a big favorite. After some talk with individuals and the group, and listening to the Game Master's Journey podcast for the last 8+ months, I decided to try it out with 5E. Which brings us to today, with just having finished our last adventure in Cortex Plus, I'm finishing up the player packet for 5E, and next time we meet we will generate/convert characters. I'm going to start everyone at 1st level, as this is the first time for nearly all of us in 5E, including me as the DM. Quite a few of us have experience with D&D 1st - 4E, as well as Pathfinder, so I don't see this as a huge issue.

Some Ideas About the World:
The original campaign name was "Fall of Dawn" and most of my notes reference that name, but when I made the specific Cortex Plus Fantasy Heroic rules set for the players, I named it "Chicken Riding Murder Hobos III" and the name sort of stuck.

The world is a sky realm of floating islands in a sea of clouds. I think I first really started thinking of this as a game when I saw the video for the Gorillaz song "Feel Good Inc." Specifically the windmill island with the clouds around it (

I also took ideas from various Final Fantasy and similar video games, as well as anime and comics with similar themes. Around the time I was formulating the world, I started reading the Trilemma Adventures by Michael Prescott on his blog at His dark and gritty world was fodder for my dreams, and I've grabbed several themes from his work for this world.


Themes: the corruption of power, unintended consequences, secret history

Why III? Or even III+2?
For those of you who don't get the "Chicken Riding Murder Hobos" joke, I kind of laid it out in my first player packet:
Chicken Riding Murder Hobos III (CRMH3) is a [game] of high adventure in a world similar to certain video games where horses don’t exist and people ride giant chickens (Why III? The first two weren’t released in the US). It references all those sword and sorcery and mixed technology video game tropes you know so well to create a game of amazing heroics, somber monsters, dark dungeons, spell slinging, and fantastic semi-magical technology.

And of course, as I'm moving to 5E I couldn't resist the further joke:
Why III+2? III was for CortexPlus, in the FF universe there were several sequel games indicated by -2, such as X-2, and in our case III+2 is 5th Edition

The Way of Things
The initial Gazetteer info I gave my players was just intended to give them some background on the world that everyone knows, and mix the Firefly and FF backgrounds into a coherent story. This also serves as sort of a creation myth for the current generation of the world.

How the Sky came to be
The Earth that Was is no more. The Seree [Suh-Ree, Sear-E, Seh-rea] reached too high, exceeding their grasp in a blasphemous affront to the natural order. They shook the world, and the Divines responded by breaking it and destroying their civilization as punishment. All sapient came close to extinction due to their arrogance, but we managed to survive. Now we have the Sky.

The Alliance
People slowly established themselves on the ruins and lands that remained. New kingdoms and empires rose and fell, each leaving their mark on different parts of the Sky. Over time the largest, most concentrated, and most stable of these areas became known as the Core and eventually these lands banded together in an alliance.

The Alliance became the focus of sapien civilization, the most magically and technically advanced, with stability for all who lived there. The Border lands lived and traded in the shadow of the Alliance using treaties and trade to grow and protect themselves. There were other contenders for civilization, however, and some were quite aggressive. Eventually the Alliance decided that the best way to defend their borders were to expand them to include everyone.

Unification War
A short time back, the Alliance stopped talking to other lands as equals and instead brought their ships and troops. Some were happy to see them come, some quickly caved, but some took a stand. These Independents fought back in what became known as the Unification War. The war was long and bloody, and some say this was partly because of “Neutrals” like Shinra Corp who are said to have sold weapons and supplies to both sides. Eventually, however, the Independents were forced to lay down their arms, and the Alliance became the undisputed rulers of all the lands. Many of the so-called “Browncoats” that fought against the Alliance still remember the war and fight on today, in their own ways.

How things are now
While the Alliance rules over and controls all the lands, things get a might less formal as you move away from the core. Undeveloped and unexplored lands still fill the Sky and the Rim can be a wild and dangerous place. Even in the Border lands, many of the original kingdoms still remain, managing the day to day lives of their people for the Alliance.

Hot off the Presses
I've been going back throught the GMJ archives and listening to episodes that I didn't get when they first came out, and recently I listened to GMJ 129 & GMJ 131 - Keeping the Game Going Between Sessions (pts 1 & 2). This inspired me to make a newspaper from the current town the PCs are in. This is maybe 1/3 "other's views" of the PCs actions, 1/3 setting fluff, and 1/3 plot hooks. I sent this out a few days before the game, and it seemed to be a big hit with the players and the characters. They used it several times during the session to figure out who to talk to and things they could do in the local town to advance their agenda. In the future I plan to make more newspapers local to place the PCs are in.

The Midoriyama Green:

Did you make it all the way down here?
If you guys are still interested after all that, I'll post more things over time. I have more generic world info, past adventure write ups I've done, as well as the (soon to be finalized) CRMH 5E player packet, and future newspapers, etc.

Let me know if you are interested in more.

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Re: Chicken Riding Murder Hobos III+2
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2018, 09:05:53 pm »
Your newspaper was great!  The Apple-Pen-Pineapple Cafe really caught me off guard. LOL
I am very interested to see more stuff on your game.


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Re: Chicken Riding Murder Hobos III+2
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2018, 07:55:50 am »
I just released a new newspaper to my players. This one is from another town (compared to the first one).

The Daily Breeze:

One thing that the players figured out from these is that the Bad Guys are using the articles "Students of Quin Lan Discussion" to pass coded messages to subordinates, etc. They were able to recover a code book from an NPC sub-boss that they defeated. It had 61 entries in it, each a random string of 55 numbers (from 1-55). They figured out that this corresponds to the word order in the Quin Lan articles posted in the papers. The months alternate between 30 and 31 days, so that gives 61 rotating codes. If you look up the number code list for the date of the news paper, you can decode the message in the article.

The first coded message gave them info on a supply drop, which they intercepted. They followed up on the airship that made the drop, learning that it was a contracted drop paid for by a local fixer that is known to work for the Shinra Corp (one of the major companies in the world). This same fixer has been behind a lot of the goings on that have personally effected the party. The middle man "Todd Binders" has become a personal love-to-hate NPC of the party. They haven't killed him yet, but he always turns up having paid someone off or done something to mess with the party.

They did not follow up on who placed the first article in the paper, but now that they have found a second one, they seem more interested in looking into that.

The second coded message they intercepted, which is in this newspaper, gave commands to kidnap the local mayor's kid, for which they are coincidentally on a rescue mission for. They also learned of orders for another operative but they are unsure of what it means (it relates to their next adventure).

On a side note, the first message was easy. I wrote the article and picked out the words I wanted for the message, and it became the cipher key. Well, after that (in order to be consistent, in case the PCs ask), I put together the full list of 61 cipher codes. This made the more recent message a little more difficult to encode. I ended up creating a spreadsheet that helps me define the message I want sent, and then fill in the missing words to make a Quin Lan article. I specifically made the backstory on the Quin Lan articles be hokey metaphysical jibberish to aid hiding messages in it. The basic story is that Quin Lan was an ancient scholar who published writings similar to the Tao de Ching & the I Ching, so publishing weird rambling articles in the local paper is not considered super strange to locals.