Saturday, December 22, 2012

RPG Review Recess - #FATEcore reading of #KriegszeppelinValkyrie and review stuff

I'm sure, unless you're living under a rock somewhere, that the FATE Core kickstarter has gone off swimmingly.  With that there have been many unlockables that have been promised, two of which have already been shown to the backers. Well, the text has, it hasn't been layed out or anything it's just the cool bits you need to start actually playing the game.

Wild Blue by Brian Engard (here on this blog known as [other guy] who co-wrote Bulldogs! with Brennan Taylor) was the first to be shown and it's a cool idea, but I hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. I'll give it, it's own space later.  Right now I'm going to talk about the second one that got shown, because I saw it at Metatopia this past year and when I heard about it I was very excited by the whole premise.

Let me just give you my quick opinion about this part of the whole project. You should get in on FATE core possibly just for this alone. This isn't to say that the other products aren't going to be phenomenal as well, there's a lot of amazing writers with amazing pedigrees with amazing products of their own, but this one is all I was hoping for and more.

The basic premise is that the war is over, but one German Scientist working out of Africa was unaccounted for until his robotic armies started attacking various villages, towns and cities throughout Africa. You've discovered his base in Mt. Kilimanjaro and you're using a newly finished German Superweapon captured after the war was finished, the Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie, in order to take the fighter pilots necessary to take out Dr. Walter Schottky and his nefarious Galvanic Warriors.

There is more than just that happening, the goal of the game isn't just to defeat the evil doctor. Nope, just as important is to have the highest kill count, and the most famous battles. You don't want to just destroy Galvanic Fighter Pilots, you want to get your name out there as the most daring and courage fighter pilot. After ever battle, the Captain of the Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie will talk about what really happened out there and who got what kills. Then you can talk to the AP reporter assigned to your mission to report back home what's going on, and that just happens to be Ernest Hemingway.

There's a level of Paranoia debriefing there that I think is perfect. Not only do you have to report on what you did, but you have to report on what you saw other people do. Do you help someone out and tell the truth, do you pad something for a friend, do you slander those you don't like? Then there's the chats with Hemingway where you need to describe your daring-do and what was awesome about what just happened. It makes it that much cooler for the players because it's still fresh in their minds and they can start the embellishing process right then and there over drinks. You get to set up relationships with the other players, so there's motivations to help or hinder people all around you. All of these things make for a great "band of brother" kind of combat setting that Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie is aiming for and delivers on.

The combat is perfectly done as well. You can't just shoot people down, well you can but it takes a lot longer, but if you manage to out manoeuvre your enemies, you're more likely to get the kill. You get that dogfight feeling through adding and recovering aspects that will put you at a horrible disadvantage. All the regenerated characters are all pilots from the era too. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and what planes you pick give you a set of strengths and weaknesses and just ... yes. The game is very yes.

Now I'm going to occupy myself by singing the songs from Billy Bishop Goes to War.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monster: The Noun - Stats

Wow. This one. I was debating putting this out because there are something that amuse the hell out of me in this section. Really the physical stats are what do it for me, I have dealt with some of those people in real life.

The problematic section, for me, was using the term Bitch because it's got a whole host of problems but I couldn't think of anything else. I'd ask for suggestions but there's a reason why this project is dead.

Monster: The Stats

Stats are what make your monster unique, just like every other monster with the same stats.   The other benefit to having all the numbers is that you can easily decide if your character can do something over the SM’s decisions.  They are the starting point at which you can argue using those famous words, “Yes, my character can do that!”  Do not stray from these numbers as they are the foundation of anything you will do in this game. 

In order to build your character, from the very either itself, you must understand with how these creatures are built.  They can be broken down into three distinct characteristics.  There have Physical natures, Mental natures and Social natures.  Each nature has been broken up into three distinct categories.  These categories may be a little bit different from what you are normally used to, but they will have an explanation so that you can understand what they do.

You must decide now, oh great and noble creator of life, on which of those categories is the most important to you.  When you have decided which of the three — Physical, Mental or Social — natures is what makes this character special that becomes your Awesome Nature.  The next step is to decide what is the least important nature, what you think this character can really do without out of the two that remain.  This becomes your Horrible Nature.  Once that’s been decided the remaining nature is your Whatever Nature as you clearly don’t think that it really worth thinking about too much.

Each group receives a different amount of points to spend towards improving the categories within those natures.  Your Awesome Nature gets a total of 5 points to spend towards your categories.  Your Horrible Nature gets 10 points to spend towards this least important group of categories.  Your Whatever Nature gets an indifferent 7 points to spend towards this nature’s categories, if you can be bother to do so.

This may go against the grain of typical games, but we do believe that this way is the better.   It will be made clear shortly.

Social Nature

Monsters have strong personalities and great egos and this is the nature where that is the most apparent, as such we will begin here in the Social Nature.  These are the categories that will help you when you interact with people, other monsters and even your SM.  Remember, you should never actually try to talk your way out of a situation when rolling a die will do it for you and tie your SMs hands with the result.

Bitch (Commonly Called - Charisma)
This Category represents your ability to complain and get angry at people in order to get them to do what you want them to do.  The meaner and nastier you are, the more thing get done because the world is cruel and only those who step on others can survive it.

At 1 Triangle you are incredibly nice to people and will go out of your way to help them out.  You’re pleasant and people genuinely like you. 
At 2 Triangles you’re a little still pleasant but no where near the saint that the person with a score of one is. You may not give a homeless person the shirt off your back, but you will help kittens cross the street and feed little old ladies abandoned at the side of the road.
At 3 Triangles you’re hold the average bitchiness score.  You have your good days, and your bad though you tend to lean towards the bad.
At 4 Triangles, someone has pissed in your cheerios and people are going to pay. You get mad at things when they don’t go your way, and when you’re really on point you’ll verbally dress down anyone in your way, because you can.
At 5 Triangles there is probably a movie about you and your friends out there, or someone is waiting to finish therapy before they put it to pen and paper.  You’re the King of Cat Fight, The Sultan of the Put Down, and people would rather do what you want then have you get angry at them for disobeying you.  When you lash people with the broadside of your tongue other people cringe, they know how much it cuts.

Whine (Commonly Called Manipulation)
Getting people to do what you want can be done in a lot of different ways.  You know that true path in getting people to do what you want is to just whine and complain at people for as long as it takes to get what you want.  You have practiced so  much that you can whine harder, faster and stronger than anyone you know.  You understand that the trick to a good whine is to be as loud and as nasal as you can be.  The more you use those powers, the more of what you want happens.

At 1 Triangle you’re the type of person who takes responsibility for things.  You understand that not everything will go your way and you’ve got the ability to keep striving forward regardless of what happens.
At 2 Triangles you can get upset when things don’t go your way but you’re a big person and understand that this will happen.  Your sniffles don’t last long and when they’re done your quite able to move beyond them and what went wrong.
At 3 Triangles you’re the type of person who’ll whine when bad things happen to you, but in normal understandable levels.  Stubbing your toe, to getting sick, to doing bad on a test will cause the whine to come out but it’s never too long.
At 4 Triangles you’ll whine at big things and little things.  A whine will escape your lips if the weather is bad, if your food isn’t all that good and if a song you don’t like plays on the radio.  Your friends will roll their eyes at you, but you think it gives you character.
At 5 Triangles you’ll whine at the drop of a hat.  Anything will set you off, I mean anything.  Something happens on TV and you’ll whine about it.  Your favourite character in a book dies and you’ll whine about it for days.  No one can match you at whining and it annoys the hell out of everyone else. 

Moan (Commonly Called Appearance)
There are people who can put on a paper bag and make it work for them.  Most people are jealous of these “paper bag” people, but respectful because they know that it’s just something people have that allows them to do that.  Then there are those that moan about anything and everything about their appearance.  Their looks are fading, they’re gaining too much weight, they looked better in high school and they don’t know what happened.  The sit there and wait for your to respond with the socially acceptable response of “Of course not!” and when that doesn’t show up fast enough they moan about that.

At 1 Triangle you’re the gorgeous type that will get stares at no matter what you’re wearing.  Despite this ability to look good in anything, you do try to stay abreast of fashion trends and try to be at the front of that wave and usually succeed.  Even when you fail, you’re still breathtaking in what you wear.
At 2 Triangles you’re still beautiful, but not inhumanly so.  You turn heads and have many moments in the sun, walking on the beach in your less the covering bathing suit.  You bemoan you looks on occasion, but only when you’re really having a bad day or you weren’t able to make it down to the gym.
At 3 Triangles you’re just like everyone else.  You have your good days, and your bad days, and the days where you just feel that life is over.  You sag, but in the general kind of way.
At 4 Triangles, you like to bemoan the loss of your looks.  And you should, because they’re going.  You tend to sag a little bit here and there and you could use some time at the gym but not to hear you tell of it.  You were once the brightest star, the sexiest machine that ever lived and you’re still riding the energy from that star.
At 5 Triangles, you are the aging Rock Star that has been on one too many drug induced alcoholic benders.  You’ve got wrinkles in places that comic book characters normally have muscles.  You moan continually about the lack of respect you get for your looks of yesterday and how people should sleep with you based on reputation alone. 

Mental Nature

Monsters like to think that they’re some of the smartest creatures in existence.  They like to lord it over others and say obscure things like, “I’m understanding what you’re saying, but certainly THAC0 provides a greater scope and understanding of actual combat.  You see, I did some calculations” or “You know that the fastest way to kill someone is to stick a knife in between the third and fourth ribs on the left side.  It’s true, I read it in a book somewhere.”  Whatever these statement truly means, the categories in this Nature will help you decipher them.

Lamentation (Commonly Called Intelligence)
There are those who can think, and analyze anything you put in front of them.  All subjects,  from the empirical maths to the subjective humanities, come really easily to them.  Tests are a joke and can be passed with little or no studying.  Answers in classrooms or on the job are toss offhand, as if everyone should know that.  Many people want to have that type of memory, others want to kill them for making them look bad.  If you truly wish to be the biggest know it all, this is the stat to use.

At 1 Triangle, you are at the top of the class.  You know things on topics that other people didn’t know existed and can recite pi to fifty places.  If nerds had a god, you would be it.
At 2 Triangles, you are rather smart.  You’re the friend that people turn to when looking for that difficult crossword puzzle answer, or the answer to that problem that’s been bugging them all day.  You tend to regret those answers you don’t know, but it doesn’t slow you down much … heck, you can always find out through your ability to research nearly anything.
At 3 Triangles,  you’ve got average smarts  You did well in school, but no one would mistake you for a doctorial candidate.  You do have a nasty habit of complaining about how smart some people are and how you wish you knew more things.
At 4 Triangles, you’re not all that bright, a fact you lament all the time.  You talk about how you’re going to get yourself an education, but something always comes up.  Work, friends, napping, food, sex, sleep, that concert, sleep are all reasons why you seem to avoid educating yourself.  That really doesn’t bother you, everyone’s going to know that you’re an intellectual superstar, even if you can’t spell it.
At 5 Triangles, you’re lamenting your constant use of drugs and alcohol that has made your mind the murky swamp it is today.  You’re the person they use on those posters to tell people what can happen if you end up going overboard on anything.  It’s how you make your money, but someday you’re going to pick up that pencil and finish half of that crossword puzzle.  That day, you’re going to celebrate. 

Keening (Commonly Called Perception)
Monsters pride themselves on their strong eyesight and ability to pick out what is happening in the world around them.  Sometimes though, they need a little help and things pointed out to them.  Be careful, if you do point things out to a monster they will keen on about how they can’t believe that they missed something so awesome, or so obvious.

At 1 Triangle, nothing slips past you.  You consider yourself among the ranks of Inspector Hercule, or a little known fellow named Sherlock Holmes and nobody disagrees with you. You’re one of the worst people to go to movies with because you notice everything and you finish mystery novels half way through.
At 2 Triangles, you’re pretty perceptive.  You like pointing out how magicians do their tricks and things you friends have missed in puzzles and games.  Now and again people get things by you, but not too often.
At 3 Triangles, you’re pretty much average.  You’ve got some days when you notice everything, and others when a car can slip past you.  Don’t sweat it too much, though it does suck when you miss the joke.
At 4 Triangles, you tend to need to have people point things out to you.  What happening in movies, friends birthday parties, and other small things like fireworks.  It bugs you a lot and you’re not afraid to let people know about it.
At 5 Triangles, you tend to have a hard time noticing anything.  You don’t notice the little things like family members, stop lights, instructions, explosions and vehicles at crosswalks.  You’re missing out on life and you complain like nobody else about it.  After all, why should you be the only one missing out on all the fun.

Sorrowing (Commonly Called Wits)
The world works in a particular way that can’t be taught in books.  There’s this ebb and flow to people and how they interact and some  people just manage to navigate this effortlessly.  That’s a good thing because these waters can be treacherous and you will need your wits about you if you are to succeed.  If you don’t, the resulting storm that happens can cause you to fall into a massive pit of sorrow and flail about in pain from the consequences of those actions.

At 1 Triangle, you know people and you know what makes them tick.  You just have this worldly sense about you that could be considered otherwordly.  You deal with situations with the such grace and style you’re probably a diplomat.  Usually nothing bad ever happens when you’re brought in to handle a situation.  You should try for world peace.
At 2 Triangles, you’re pretty good at navigating the rocky world of people and personal problems.  You occasionally blunder things up, but you obviously know what you’re doing.  Besides, everybody messes up sometimes but your screw up seems to be less catastrophic than any one else’s.  They lead to small arguments rather than huge explosions.
At 3 Triangles, you tend to win some and lose some.  You’re pretty average when it comes to dealing with people.  You’re that friend that your clueless friends tend to ask about life, thankfully you usually have enough sense to send them to someone else.  If you do leave a nugget of wisdom, you tend to be right as often as you are wrong.  
At 4 Triangles, you tend to think you know how the world works, except that your brain doesn’t work quite right.  You believe people on face value and jump at anything that comes your way because it’s the next best thing.  Sometimes you wonder if what you’re doing is a good idea on the way down the rabbit hole, but not too frequently.  When things don’t work out, they tend fail pretty badly and you tend to get really depressed about that.
At 5 Triangles, you like to think that you can handle the world when the reality is that the world has a hard time handling you.  You constantly try to play matchmaker and fail miserably.  Any advice you’ve given has started wars between friends and broken up families and started wars between city states.  All this horribleness leaves you feeling really, really down.  It can’t all be your fault, can it?

Physical Nature
Monsters are walking, breathing, jumping, fighting creatures.  They have physical bodies that need defining and the Physical Nature is where this is done.  Bodies are honed and shaped into their ultimate form.  Any stats done well here can be used to describe how fit, how amazing and how much better your character is to all the others.

Cry (Commonly Called Dexterity)
Monsters are wonderful creatures known for their grace and beauty, the kind that rivals athletes, dancers and actors.  It is the perfect combination of style, form and grace that takes your breath away.  Then there are those who can’t seem to manage to walk across a room without managing to stub their toe, knock over an expensive vase and fall down to the ground.  This will start the tears flowing and they will never really stop.

At 1 Triangle, you can move with the best of them.  World level athletes, all star actors work on this level.  You can weave and out of physical situations without anyone the wiser.  You can dodge traffic without a hair out of place and people stop when you move by.
At 2 Triangles, you’re quite graceful.  Very rarely do you trip over anything, even when people are trying to do their best to cause you to fall.  People don’t pay to see you do what you move, but you move better than most people and you rarely run into things.  When life literally throws things you, you can get out of the way.
At 3 Triangles, you’re pretty average.  Like everyone you’ll make an amazing grab for that jar of pickles that was going to hit the ground only to trip over the dog you didn’t see and spill them anyway.
At 4 Triangles, you’re kind of klutzy.  You run into things that are in your way and a few that aren’t always right in front of you when walking down the street.  You’re not picked last for organized sports, but you do make it into the best of a bad lot category.  When you hit your shins, which is frequently, you tend to cry about it to anyone who will listen.
At 5 Triangles, you have a hard time standing upright.  You fall over all the time, usually bringing down two or three people with you when decide that it’s time to dive.  You are always the last one picked for sports and the first one out when playing musical chairs.  It’s too much for the average person or monster to bear and it makes you cry all the time, “Why can’t anybody trust me with their nice things!  I’m good at taking care of them!”

Holler (Commonly Called Strength)
Sheer raw power is a sight to be behold.  Muscles bulging, and hot heavy sweat pouring down exerting bodies delights the eyes as well as the heart, and possibly the mouth.    Some succeed in this by pushing their endurance, going further than others which adds to their impressive physique.  They cry out with every single extra lift and every extra push.  Then there are those that think they have all this musculature but in reality they’re really just covered in sweat, pouring down and staining their t-shirt.  They are particularly good at displaying the trappings of physical labour.

At 1 Triangle, you are amazingly strong.  You are able to lift many things that other people don’t even think they can try.  There are some rumours flying about that steroids were involve in your muscle mass, but no one is going to say that to your face because you might mangle theirs.  You make the hollering noise that most people make when you lift stuff, but it’s understandable because you’re living heavy things. 
At 2 Triangles, you are a pretty strong person.  You’re the friend everyone calls when it’s time to move and you just view it as exercise.  It’s the type of strength that will help you in life without getting in the way, and the hollering noise you make is still well within normal operating procedures.  After all, you’re still lifting and heaving things.
At 3 Triangles, you’re not bad in the strength department.  You can lift all the normal things without complaint, and can help others when you need to move big objects but that’s the extent of it.   You wouldn’t be mistaken for a body builder and most people don’t ask you to take off your top at the beach.  When you lift things, depending on how heavy it is, your holler noise is either incredibly appropriate (for light things) or not so appropriate (for heavy things)
At 4 Triangles, you’re the person who people will only call as a last resort when moving.  It isn’t that you can’t life stuff — because you can, even if it is a huge chore — but the noise you make when lifting anything is big enough to convince people that you’re lifting a TV, or maybe a wall safe.
At 5 Triangles, you over exaggerate the weight of absolutely everything with such a holler that everyone thinks you are dying or trying to lift a mountain.  You can usually hear it around the corner, or down the street.  Whatever it is, it’s loud and rather obnoxious in that causing concern kind of way.  You do get exasperated looks from your friends because they tend to know what you’re lifting and how heavy it actually is.

Wail (Commonly Called Endurance)
Monsters are constantly pushing themselves pass the limits of their body.  They are staying up all night working on that final paper, or playing a video game.  These Monsters are eating pizza all day, every day and only resort to things like canned food in times of dire need.  Certainly there are those who can withstand intense head and cold, or handle great feats of strength and endurance.

At 1 Triangle, you’ve run several marathons in the same day.  You are a constant participant in the Ironman race every year and you are a top finisher almost every year. You never seem to stop and people are amazed at your ability to find all that energy.
At 2 Triangles, you have the ability to go the distance in everything you do.  Hardship is something you work through so frequently that you only don’t wail about it at all.  You’ll utter the odd complaint about your situation but you don’t go on about it.  However, you might want to consider it a little bit more, it will help you get out all that pent up frustration.
At 3 Triangles, you’re the everyday individual  who goes about their  business enduring the day as best they can.  There are those that try to get through without that one extra cup of coffee, or that one last piece of cake but in the end it all seems to be justified.  You wail about your problems with your friends and co-workers, but that’s okay because they do it too.
At 4 Triangles, you tend to have a hard time making it through the day.  You always succumb to that last bit of need of something to make it through the day.  Coffee, Sugar, Caffeine, Recreational drugs.  You do what you can to make it in this dark, cruel world and you aren’t afraid to wail about it to any random person you meet on the street.  Your tendency to accost strangers with the poor details of your life makes your friends happy because it means you’re not wailing at them.
At 5 Triangles, you have a hard time getting into the shower, let alone through the day.  Basic acts of self-preservation seem to be too much to do unless you can manage to wail and complain at someone, anyone.  It doesn’t even have to be a person.  You’ve wailed at your walls for hours for having to do your dishes, and yelled at the carpets because you had to vacuum them.

With these explanations of all the Natures and Categories, you can flesh out your character.  Luckily you are provided with at least one triangle within each category.  You are provided with an extra 9 points without having to do anything special for them.

Once you have completed this task, you may now move onto the skills section.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monster: The Noun - Character Creation Overview

Part of the reason why I'm doing this is because I realized lately that what I was doing wasn't trying to make fun of something out of the right place to do it. If you want to really truly and honestly make fun of something, the only way that's right, you have to do it through love. You have to love something and poke fun at its absurdities, absurdities that you indulge in yourself, in order for it to have the kind of funny I'm looking at.

This may be why the jokes that probably work at all are the ones that are the roleplaying ones rather than anything from the game itself. I've played it, I've been around it but I was never really in it.

Without further ado - the Character Creation Overview section.

“Is it better to out-monster the monster or to be quietly devoured?”
The first step on your journey down the paths of blood that people fear to tread is to create your monster.  In order to do that you have to follow the steps we lay down in order without any modifications, lest those who understand these rules better than you come down on you harder than a Vampire who hasn’t eaten in a couple of weeks.  Your will want to spend as much time as possible because this will fix your character for ETERNITY and if you fail here there will be nothing but suffering and torment the whole time.
There is no pressure, it is merely the here and forever at stake.

Character Creation Overview
To make thing simpler, so that you aren’t constantly going back and forth on this like you are doing your taxes by hand for the first time.  You may reference this overview time and time again when you feel as if you need to find something to help you with your questions.  The main goal is to guide you down the well trodden path that many others before you have gone and many others after you will go.
This path is called, the stereotype.  You will find them in various different places and they are quite useful.  What these stereotypes do, if you haven’t heard, is to make thought completely unnecessary and allows everyone to fully understand who you are by merely looking at what you think your character should be.  There are many to choose from, some of the most popular are the dark and brooding bruiser who acts like they’re a lone wolf who doesn’t need a single other person in the world but in reality really wants a hug.  There’s the over-sexed femme fatale who can only see the world through a sexual lens.  There’s the sneaky thief with a mysterious past that will only be explained later on, a person with a heart of gold but has to hide for unknown reasons.  There’s usually one ex-priest, quite possibly two and one sheer and utter asshole.  There’s always someone playing the asshole
Some people view this process as the creation of someone who has a story to tell.  These people are fools and have bought into the lies and deceptions of others.  Everyone else is actually trying to take advantage out of every single loophole and possibility that they can.  They hope that you’re the person who make the “real” character so they can whip your sorry ass at every single opportunity.  Instead, you should do what they do, play the numbers and the percentages.  You want to be certain that you aren’t left behind when the insanity starts
An integral part of this process is the SM who should endeavor to work really hard with her players and oversee this process like a prison warden watches over her detainees.  She needs to crack down on them for using the rules in this book to give her a headache.  After all, why should she be the only one suffering?  The SM does have final say for all characters and needs to keep things like story and play balance in mind before approving anything.  However, if the players manage to sneak one by her she’s going to be stuck with that problem for the rest of the campaign, which will probably last until the end of this session.

Step 1. Choosing your Monster
What Monster you will play has a huge part on how you will build them.  If you feel the need to play the ETERNALLY damned vampire, then do so and be prepared to deliver moody one-liners to the rest of the team.  If you feel the need to play someone who is more in love with being an animal than animals then you might want to consider the werewolves.  If you just want to hug all the big bad nasties into submission then hunters might be what you want to play.  If you know that you’re a better roleplayer than those you see who dared to sit at the same table as you, then you could play a mage.  If this paragraph took you ten minutes to read because you were distracted by everything in the world then you might want to try fairies.
Whatever you feel like playing, remember the most important thing in this game is you.  Make sure that this is a character that you really want to play and leave the hard work of somehow getting all these different characters in the same room to the SM.  That’s why you roped him into doing the job in the first place.

Step 2. The Character Numbers
Now that you’ve got the monster in your head, you can now take one of the nice easy to print character sheets and fill it up with numbers.  There will be rules on how you do that, but the key part is that once you’re doing you will have to justify what you just did.  There are other methods that can be used, but this post justification method seems to be the most popular choice.  It allows for some creative background creation to explain why someone can do what they do.
The first section that gets numbers is your stats.  These represent what you think your character is like after all the boasting and bragging is done.  How much they can life, how far they can run, how attractive they think they are, how smart they want you to think they can be and all such other things.  These numbers will probably not change over the course of a game so you have to spend the most time here to make sure that you get the stats that you want.  A good SM will make sure the you can’t go back when you find out you needed a better stat some place else, it’s something she can use against you and she shouldn’t give that up too easily.
After your stats, the next section that has points are your skills.  These are like stats but instead of who your character is, they represent what they know and can do.  These will change a lot with the game itself.  The key thing is to watch everyone else and make sure that you take about as much time as they do.  If not they’ll look off your character sheet and cheat.
The third set of numbers you get is a stack of points for a whole bunch of “other” stuff you’ll never really use.  Backgrounds and money and information and gear and all that kind of stuff, things that you tend to forget as soon as the game starts.  The real use of these points is to try to find a way to sneak them onto your stats or your skills and hope that no one notices.  This is a fairly low risk maneuver that will only end up with the SM asking you to redistribute the points if you get caught.  To be fair, you could try to sneak those points somewhere else but we do advise against this course of action.  The first time you get caught, the SM will be on her guard and you’re more than likely to get punished harsher for future transgressions.

Step 3. Final Details
Now that you’ve finished your character’s stats, you’ll need to come up with a description of how your character looks.  That way, the other players can distinguish between him and the other faceless members of the general public.  There are some pitfalls that should be avoided but usually aren’t.  Situations where your character has a hair color that is not currently found on the planet without the aid of dyes and are generally frowned upon.  It’s okay to have purple hair, just as long as the drapes do not match the carpet.
Weird eye colors without the aid of contacts are discouraged as well.  If these Monsters are doing their best to fit in, then not being able to take out your cat eye shaped eyes at night is a good way to completely blow that cover.

4. Play the game.
Now that you have all the character information readily available to both you and the SM you are now ready to play Monster: The Noun.  While other games, which claim to be story based, will come right out and tell you that in RPGs there are no winners and losers they would be lying.  There are definitely winners and losers here.  Anytime you manage to slip something unnoticed past the SM, or do something that utterly frustrates her then you’ve scored a point.  Any time you’re able to screw over another player characters action to your character’s benefit, you’ve scored a point.  If you manage to get the last slice of pizza before everyone else realizes that it’s the only one left and you get to gloat about it internally for thirty minutes before someone goes into the kitchen and comes out demanding who took that last pice.  Oh, you’ve also just scored a point. 
Whenever a point is scored, it is appropriate to take you finger and mark a 1 in the air.  Some people feel the need to lick their finger first, to drive the point home, but this is optional.  This is done  to let everyone know that you believe that you’ve just managed to pull something.  Something funny enough that when everyone realizes what you’ve done they will fall down in fits of laughter.
Doing this has it’s own risks.  If everyone else doesn’t think you deserve to score a point there will be discussion and argument in regards to your ability to keep score.  Be prepared for yelling, screaming, hair-pulling, slapping and possibly kicks under the table.  Be prepared to be targeted, fairly or unfairly, by the other players. This focus should give you plenty of opportunities to turn their ploys against them to score more points.
Remember, this game is like a stage, you want to make sure the spotlight is on you as much as possible.  There are so many people playing that there can only be one PC who is important at any given time.  Make sure it’s you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Monster: The Noun - Opening Flavour section.

I just added a bit of colour there, because part of the gag was that every time one of the words in the opening poem were going to be referenced it would be in the exact same style. Again, nothing here has been edited. 

“It isn't everybody who is the hero of his own romance, and when we meet one he is likely to be a fascinating monster”
Robertson Davies
This is a world of twilight, of the space that happens between dawn and dusk.  This world lies between meaning and understanding, between dark and light, between good and evil, between a rock and a hard place, between the 7-11 and the Mini-mart, between an emo tune and a heavy metal power ballad. There are many people who live in this world, and many of them are ignorant of these goings on.  They get up, kiss their children good bye as they send them off to school and then go about cheating on each other before they get home that night.  They are happy in their ignorance.  They live filling their lives with sleepless days and dangerously driven caffeine nights.
There are moments, ever so slight moments, that jar this sense of complacency out from under us.  The veil is lifted and we catch a glimpse of the audience that is watching us in our play of life, looking for a moment when we falter.  That’s when they laugh at us, these smiling hidden creatures who have purposefully segregated themselves from us and from each other.  Each group has their own agenda, their own zeitgeist that can’t stand the light of any others.  When they meet, sparks fly and many late nights are fought over love, life, death, truth, honesty, hotdogs, lattes, sex, blood, friendship, honor, society, the future, the past, territory, money, revenge, video games, being right, superiority, class, character, hamburgers, eternity, meaning, violence, sex and other topics too esoteric for the likes of us regular folk.  There is no consensus to be found.  However, sometimes they believe that the players on the stage are the perfect pawns by which they can prove their points.  Players in their eternal game of I’m more right than you are.
Thankfully these little dips of reality, these boiling waters of otherness are rare.  The audience watching us tries their best to keep themselves separate from the stage we live in.  The light is too bright, the plastic walls to fake for them to want to make their way there.  They don’t believe that we could understand their desire to prove that they are right above all others, their need to demonstrate that their vision of the world is the only one true way to be.  They want all to know that they are the Alpha and Omega to everyone else’s Phi Sigma Delta.
Some say that there is a time coming when the fourth wall will come down.  A time when this battle will rage so fast and so furious that it will spill on the stage of life.  When that day comes, it will be the end of the world.  We shall all perish in the conflagration that will engulf everything and consume the entire planet.  No one will be safe, no one will be spared.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monster: The Noun - And Introduction to The Introduction Poem

So a long, long, long, long, long, long, long time ago (say 2009-ish) I figured I would write a parody game. I thought I was pretty funny person, and it was trying to lampoon a rather popular game that was out there. There was a lot of other stuff mixed up in it, not just my desire to take something I felt certain people around me was taking too seriously and play with it a bit of a game.

It's been three years, a couple of rewrites and a learning curve to make me understand that I should probably walk away from this project. It's not that funny to me anymore, and having kind of changed my situation in the past little bit it's becoming one of those things that I'd rather not have around. This isn't edited, and it was supposed to have some funny typography things, but that's not really going to work on Blogger so *shrug* we'll just have to deal with it.

Without further ado, here is The Introduction and Introduction Poem for Monster: The Noun

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”
—Winston Churchill

This is the poetic introduction.
It shows that we’re deep.
How deep?
Real deep.

So deep I don’t think you can understand.
With words like Death,
In special fonts.
Like I said deep.

To conclude,
This is the end *after*-all
I make an obscure pun.
You are amazed


You have been warned mortal.  These pages are filled with the secrets of the occult and the unhallowed terrors that lie within the secret places of the soul.  Not since the Necronomicon and the mad scribblings of Abdul Al-Hazred has such concentrated evil been put down on the page.  If you can look upon these words, you foolish creature, and still maintain some semblance of sanity then you may have some hope.  There is little for the rest of us.

There are beings that walk among us.  Horrible beings.  Terrible beings.  Unspeakable beings.  They go by different names: Venatus ludio ludius, horrendously maladjusted, unfit for society, a menace to everyone, or in short “Monsters.”  These are creatures that think only of themselves, and have a hard time understanding things like basic emotions and sympathizing with the plight of every day folk.  They are among us, and they have been present for a time out of mind.

After reading this book you will begin to see the signs that these creatures are everywhere.  Some of them are more obvious than others.  They hide in dank corners, stench billowing off of their unwashed backs as they glare at the normal people walking in the light of day.  The same light that has shunned their existence throughout their whole not-life.  They mutter to themselves, speaking in odd languages understood only by an unlucky few.  They clutch their prize possessions to their breasts covered by small unkempt and food stained bags.  

Sometimes this makes people mistake them for vagrants, or drunks who have not been able to make it to their shelter by the time the morning comes.  However, upon closer inspection there is no liquid in these disgusting bags, instead it makes a noise as if several small pieces of plastic or glass or clattering around.  No one knows what they are used for, but certainly it is for no good purpose.

Others are far more perverse and can hide in the open.  They are clean smelling and friendly and able to converse with people without mentioning numbers once.  They wear the latest fashions and can be seen in clothes that have been inside a washing machine at least once.  They understand world politics, they understand local politics, they understand personal politics, they understand gender politics, they understand class politics, they understand playful politics and they understand golf.

Do not be fooled!  When they have lulled you into a false sense of security they shed these protective measures and mingle with the same heartless creatures you can spot from across the room.   They speak the same language, they understand each other and that is what will be the downfall of humanity.  

Constant vigilance is the key to keep everyone safe.  This book is your first and only defense against these creatures.  Use it wisely and keep it handy so you can reference it when you need to identify these fiends.  In fact, you should buy a copy for everyone you know so that they can keep themselves free of the taint that lurks behind every corner.  Encourage them to buy it for their loved ones so that they do not become victims.  Bring it to your workplace and where you relax, but be careful in these public places.  Monsters may be hiding behind the overly friendly barrista at your local coffee establishment and the incredibly moody musician at your favourite bar.  Stay alert, stay safe, and stay out of their control.  

Should this book ever fall into the wrong hands then all its protective value would be lost.  The world might never recover from such a calamity.

I pray that such a day never happens.

So should you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

#1reasonwhy - Comment for Allies and such things

Okay, the big buzz had kind of left after the big push after #1reasonwhy first couple of days and while you can check it out and see all the big tweets from the really amazing people who came out with 140 character stories about what they face every day trying to do what they love, make games.

Two things inspired this post. The first was @GeekyLyndsay post over at Character Generation ( which talks about some really basic stuff you can do if you want to start being a good ally. She felt the need to do it because this isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened before.

Here's a hint, it hasn't. It won't be the first time, and it won't be the last time there's a huge string of people talking about the crap they deal with in order to make games. Not just making them, but sometimes trying to make sure there's a little bit of not sexist crap in the game.

The other thing was that there was a guy who had done a blog post about it, saying that he felt bad because he was much more a 1reasonwhy before and now is trying his best not to be. Awesome, I thought that was commendable enough that I would follow this person on twitter. Then the next thing that they posted was a retweet from an aggregate twitter feed where the avatar was a woman's ass in a thong.

That's what caused me to put this out there, and this isn't unique. There are many websites that have a lot of information on how to be a good ally. I'm not a particularly special snowflake in this regard, but I figure I might as well try to say something rather than slam my first into the ground in frustration ... again. It hurts when you do that, it leaves emotional bruises.

With that in mind, here are some tips that might help you be a better ally:

1. Listen
I don't know how many times that was tweeted out, but not listening is the biggest thing on this list. That means when someone says "Hey, this happened" or "Hey, this is a problem" the first response isn't "No it isn't" because then you're just being defensive.

Also, pretending to listen and then coming up with a "No it's not" answer isn't helpful either. Stop and really listen, and if there is going to be any pretending pretend that what they're saying is true. What then? How would you respond to that? How would you feel if you had a problem and it was dismissed out of hand again, and again, and again.

2. Don't play Devil's Advocate
You might think it's fun, and it might be for you but that's because you probably don't have a personal stake in it. The conversation isn't about your representation, or how you're objectified, or how you're marginalized. Trying to poke holes into someone's argument isn't doing what you think it might be doing. It's not going to strengthen their argument, it's not going to be considered a fun mental exercise, it's going to make them feel even more marginalized because you're not questioning their argument (not matter how much you think so) you're questioning their many, many experiences.

3. Think about what you say
And when you say something, I mean on places like Twitter and Facebook and any thing you do that's public and recorded. I don't mean, "be a saint in all places" because I know I'm not. What I'm saying is that if you want to say you're helping women out in a certain field, and then retweet/share/repost/reblog something that is part of the problem you're not thinking about what you say.

The example above, with the dude and the twitter account. It's great to say that you want to help, but when the next thing you post is something that aggregates, "Hey, look how sexy she is" then you aren't really thinking about what you're saying.

Don't take this as you can't be like, "Wow, you mean I can't say that I find gender X attractive?" No, that's not what I'm saying. You don't have to become some sort of puritan locked in their room trying to self-flagellate the sin out of your body. But when you're doing something in public, like say the internet, think about the effects of your actions. Hell, think about how you relate to women in your private spaces too (Hint: If you have a rating system, that's a problem because you're not seeing women as people but as objects rated on their fuckability) but let's start in the public sphere.

4. Do your own research
You know how I've come to the little, infinitesimally small amount of knowledge I have? I've read a lot. I didn't have someone teach me about it, I didn't have someone hand holding me the whole way. I shut my mouth and paid attention. Then, when I didn't feel comfortable talking because I didn't think I knew enough about the situation ... I ... shut my mouth, paid attention and read up on the subject. It's amazing how this trick works in more situations too. The link above has good starting resources, and because I'm working in a new app I'm not sure how to link so I'm going to be lazy and tell you to check that one out.

5. Understand the terminology
You've made games, right? You know what a roll and move is? You know what DPS is? You understand ARPU and ARPPU? That's industry jargon and if you work in a place you get to know the shorthands because it's easier to use those when referencing things that are considered to be a common term.

You know what's one of the things I personally find the most annoying, and I'm not alone at this, when someone in a feminist space says, "Men" and a dude goes, "BUT I AM NOT LIKE THAT, HOW DARE YOU SLAP US ALL WITH THE SAME BRUSH YOU HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, MAN HATER!!!!!1~1~~~!!!!!!"

You know what "Men" stands for? It means "Men who are socialized to do these things in a patriarchal culture." Of course there are those who don't do X thing, but if you said that every time you said "Men" then it would spend more time on your disclaimers than you would on the actual subject itself. Seriously, try it where you work. Explain all the exceptions and disclaimers or full terms for jargon at a meeting and watch people look at you funny, and the meeting to take an extra hour.

"This is the ARPU which is the Average Revenue Per User which describes the amount of money spread out on average between all playing users and not just those who are paying." Or, probably more appropriate "This is a First Person Shooter, not to be confused with Over the Shoulder Shooters like the Resident Evil series and ..."

This is why we have shorthands, learn them before you get offended by their use.

6. Cookies are delicious but not all the time
You want recognition when you do something you think is good. That's okay, people are like that. One of my favourite Calvin and Hobbes bits is when Calvin struggles for three panels to do a push-up and when he gets to the top he shouts REWARD PLEASE!

When you do something as an ally which basically treats a woman like a normal human being, that's not worth a cookie. Yes it's fighting a whole pile of cultural programming, and upbringing, and it may seem like a huge amount of effort the first few times you do it. But think about it, you want a reward for treating someone like a human being. Reward please for treating someone like a human being. Repeat that with me. Reward for treating someone like a human being.

Does it sound odd? That just might be what you've done.

There are more, but this is a good start. It's a long road trying to be a good ally (note the idea here isn't perfection, you're a human being after all you will make mistakes) but it's ultimately rewarding in a wide variety of ways. If you make games, a wider pool of experience and knowledge only increases the quality of what you're making. If you talk about games, you'll find a whole new set of people to talk to games about. If you like games, you'll find that better games are going to get made.

Monday, November 26, 2012

cyberpunk thoughts with intentional lowercase

I've been reading a fair bit of cyberpunk games lately. I just picked up Technoir after looking at it longingly at Metatopia. I've read lots of Cyberpunk, CyberGen, Shadowrun in its various incarnations and something in particular has always struck me. It's got kind of this little bourgeois little dog whistle, doesn't it?

Wait, before the words bourgeois or dog whistle make you roll your eyes and leave the page hear me out. What I'm talking about in particular is how those games deal with poverty, and impoverished urban places because they all do them the exact same way. That way is OMG THERE ARE DANGEROUS POOR PEOPLE OVER HERE!

Let's break it down. Cyberpunk 2020 (and 2013) talks about the large mass displacement of people who have no actual social standing. Zeroes is the term that the game uses and while the Night City sourcebook does block by block, and building by building, through the city itself and it seems okay. Then you get to the nebulous COMBAT ZONE which is populated by the people who can't afford to live in the bad parts of Night City. There isn't much description other than it's a barren wasteland filled with gangs, gangs and bigger gangs who are more than willing to rip your head off for the button on your coat and live off of drugs, violence and sex all the time. All the time!  Even on the surface the Body Lotto seems like a wonderfully macabre idea, the various death counts in the various parts of the city give you the Lotto numbers.

Shadowrun does the same thing with places like The Barrens and Puyallup. Sure there are livable areas, but for the most part it's got a huge DO NOT ENTER sign on it. You don't want to go to the Barrens or worse Puyallup if you can avoid it. Of course, Puyallup does have some benefit of the doubt because there are magical reasons why you'd want to avoid a place like Hell's Kitchen but that's more like a natural disaster than a watch out for the poor people over there, they're dangerous.

Which leads me to what I've been thinking about. I want to do Cyberpunk, but I want to do it slightly different. I don't want it to be the cool, cybernetic mercenary doing the cool, cybernetic dirty work of the corporations in power. I want it to be more dirty, more street, and not street like it's going on in the games above. I mean, that's still very much the future based off of the "me" 80s generation where everyone is out for number one and the rest of you can go fuck off. People tend to try to form communities, even if we don't end up liking everyone in the community we've got something in common. Common enemies, a goal like survival, or even the fact that you all live in the same location.

That's why I think one of the projects I want to work on is going to be something that kind of mashes up cyberpunk with something like The Trailer Park Boys. You've got people who are friends, and are constantly in this boom and bust situation (though to be fair its mostly bust). I want the game to be wild, crazy and reckless and in the end you wake up in a jail cell waiting to get out again, ready to try to do it all over again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Metatopia Thoughts

Did Metatopia last week. Finally had time to sit down and collect my thoughts about the experience.

1. It's amazing and if you design an RPG or a Board/Card Game then you need to make it to this convention.  It's got a knowledgeable dedicated group of designers and players who are ready and willing to give you a lot of excellent feedback. You're going to get a lot of unvarnished, critical, much needed opinions. The kind that most people wish they had.

You know those times when you bemoan the fact that you can't find playtesters? If you play your game several times here it's quite possibly the equivalent of fifteen indifferent test groups that you managed to cobble together. If you have a lot of products that you'd like to get ready, then this is the place for it. Make your way here, you will not be disappointed.

2. The people who show up for this are great, and the people who run it are spectacular. It was a well run machine despite the fact that this was an area that wasn't all that far from the coast after Sandy hit. The hotel staff was a pleasure to deal with, and they were acting like a small shelter for people to come in out of the cold. Classy acts all around.

3. The panels were fun, and well done. They were willing to go at some tough topics, and for the most part stayed on the surface level but then again it's a panel in a one hour slot so it might not have all the time that it needs. However, there's a lot of stuff going on and it will only get better from this point in time.

Now, specifically about my games.

AIR went beautifully. Not to say that the game didn't have any flaws, it did. Some large gaping ones that were exposed by the playtesting. But these flaws were less holes and more like shallow ruts, things that can be easily filled in. People really enjoyed all the elements, they just didn't feel like the game didn't bring any of it together.  Hopefully the changes address that.

I'm changing how the Downward Spiral works, it's not drastic but it's now a group thing rather than an individual thing. The keywords are also unique to each character, and are things that the players are going to invoke on themselves.

The air content is going to be in the entire station rather than just in one area, and it's going to be visible to all so that they can see what's going on.

PvP situations were sorted out, so now that works and could use some testing.

FIXER was a rather huge success. It needed some tweaking of the rules to get it moving, and I'm going to need to go over the math on the cards, but the core rules are pretty damned solid. A few people were interested and I'm going to be playtesting and prototyping for the next little while to get it to a better spot before I send it out.

BANK JOB, was a beautiful horrible mess. No tension, no panic, no anything. The idea is still good, they just didn't pan out. I think I really need to sit back and rethink that one. I have a couple of thoughts but it's going to require some time and I'll probably get to it after FIXER is more done.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

RPG Review Recess - Dungeon World (Proofs Copy)

I admit it. I will sometimes bow to peer pressure. That's why I backed Dungeon World when I had money, good times that. I backed it because a lot of people I know and respect backed it. I backed it because a lot of those people were touting this as an amazing thing that did amazing stuff. I figured, if they liked it there's a good chance I'll like it.

Now, I want to say right now that I don't dislike this game. I think it looks like a lot of fun. I just ... don't get it. I don't get why it's the AMAZINGLYAWESOMEELEVENTY! that people have said it was.

For those of you not running in the same peer circles as I am, let me explain, no that will take too long ... let me sum up. Apocalypse World is a game that takes a post-apocalyptic future. I haven't played it, or read it, but from what people say it's pretty awesome in that things rarely happen without consequence and there's a lot of character drama in a post apocalyptic game. It's not a pretty game, but the harshness is a feature and not a bug (and I agree with that). The basic mechanic is that you roll dice (I'm pretty sure that it's 2d6, but that's because I'm reading Dungeon World ... again this information is reverse engineered since I haven't read AW) and 10+ means you succeed, 7-9 means you succeed but with a cost, and 6- means you done fucked up good.

That's awesome. I love any mechanic with built in dramatic tension when it fits, and AW totally fits that mold.

Then, there is sex in the game. It's a part of the whole thing, but I'm not going to talk about that for AW. I'm going to talk about sex moves with Monsterhearts because I have read that game. Monsterhearts is that teen drama movie/show/book you've read and always wanted to play. The drama is high, people are fighting each other all the time, and sex is rampant in the game. My friend Mikael, who runs Hammercon (a great local con if you're in the Greater Toronto Area), complains that, "I can't get my characters to stop fucking each other." It works too, there's all these consequences when people have sex with each other in Monsterhearts including turning into their darker selves because of it. It's just fucking brilliant in the way it handles those kinds of relationships. Amazing.

This leads me to my kind of ambivalence about Dungeon World. I walked into it with that kind of set up, primed from Monsterhearts and with all this amazing commentary going on in the background. Then I read it and went, "I don't get it."

It's a fantasy game that uses the AW mechanic, which is fine. It's interesting that combat is such that if you get the 7-9 you'll face a counter attack. It's good at giving you a part with complex bonds between them as they go forth. It's got a fun old school feel at times? I mean it works, and it's all very neat and together but I don't really get a sense of why this game over any other fantasy game. The moves here don't really feel as necessary as they do in Monsterhearts, if that makes sense. In Monsterhearts you're dealing with a lot of hormones and a lot of bad things so codefying that makes sense. In Dungeon World it just kind feels a little like it's just there.

Again, I want to point out that I like this product so far. I'm just not particularly blown away by it. Maybe it's because my expectations are higher? People talking it up and I'm expecting more than I should? It talks about epic fantasy but I don't quite feel that the game supports that. To me it feels that it supports a more gritty fantasy game.

Would someone like to explain to me why this game is amazing? I really do want to understand.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Metatopia - Bank Job (Working Title)

I was in the subway coming home one night and thought about the song The Bank Job by the Barenaked Ladies. It's a lot of fun, it's a great song and I felt like I should make a Bank Job game. Not much behind it other than that, I hope that it works as well as I want it to.

What is it, or the Elevator Pitch.

You play a group of bank robbers trying to get as much money as you can, while double crossing the others out of their share. 

The Slightly Longer Pitch

You play cards and bid on various jobs. These jobs give you bonuses, but of course depending on the situation might get you screwed over. Before you bid for the jobs, each person will determine what job they want to screw over. 

What does the game do, how does it work?

Each player gets a set of cards. These cards are valued at 1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5. You reveal the bank, and then each player decides what role they want to screw over and then you bid on the various jobs hoping that you end up getting the jobs that don't get screwed over even if you're the one who screwed over that job. 

What are you hoping to get out of Metatopia for this?
Really, a whole helluva lot. This is something that just came out of my head very quickly. I don't know if it's even a good idea, or if the game works. 

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