Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Veronica Monsterhearts - Playtesting Notes

Well, got some Veronica Monsterhearts playtesting done. Little playtesting done, but the character creation stuff gave me some thoughts.

1. Need to make everything immediate to the players. You just don't make it up and go, you have to make the city and I have to come up with that. Everything that's coming up is heavily influenced by 5 Fires, but I really don't want to just cut and paste that. It needs to fit this game, and not that one. However, that's the city creation that I'm enamoured with so it's going to be there.

2. Need to look at the scenes and how to frame them. There was a bit of panic about setting scenes with little or no direction on how to start them. I kind of did that in Geasa but I think this might be something that needs a little bit more direction since it's using AW.

I was directed to look at Murderous Ghosts but I didn't enjoy it too much when I read it the first time, but I'm sure that there is something there but I really don't want to do that.

3. I think I'll have to revisit the casefiles again, mainly because they need to be cleaned up a little bit and try to think about how to incorporate scene setting moves into them. No clue how I'm going to do that but that's there.

I think those are the three things I need to look over again, and then give it another playtest.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gen Con 2014 - The Good, The Bad, and The Other

Everyone is already done with their Gen Con write-ups so I figured it would be time to get around writing mine. It was a great convention on the whole personally, professionally it was just kind of okay but I didn't really push for any kind of interaction in that way so that's way more on me than it was on the convention.

Anyway, onto the events that I ran!

1. Critical!: Go Westerly: Growling Door Gates

We had a great little time here running this scenario. The idea is that they're trapped inside a White Griffon Tavern that has been sucked into a different dimension, a demonic dimension. They end up finding out that it's a demon reform school and have to stop the graduation ceremony before it rips into the fabric of reality.

The Good:

It was a funny game. There was a bit where one of the players is like "I'm going to steal gold from another player" and I usually let that go the first few times around. If they keep it up I tend to give them something else to worry about, and if they can still find a way to get a gold steal in then it just makes it actually funny.

They got stuck on the language that the demon gave them. The demon, Gog, kept telling the players that Gog was a bad demon. It was a great moment because I didn't elaborate and they had to spend time figuring out if Gog meant evil or just bad at being a demon.

The Bad:

Again, it devolved a little bit into the "I'm going to steal from you, no I'm going to steal from you" which is fine because it was contained and we moved on.

The Other:

I had the same father daughter team who has played one game of Critical at least once every year. It's always great to see them, and they always bring something fun to the table. This time the daughter ran head long into a large battle with demons and was the first person to ever actually get knocked out in a con game of Critical ever.

But it was a glorious way to get it.

2. Dime Stories: Varmit

Well, I had written about 7k words for this encounter for Joe and then when I tried to access it my phone, which was supposed to have unlimited data, had no data and I couldn't get to it. Thankfully I had an understanding of the highlights of the module and so I just kind of ran with it. I'm sure I ran it wrong but as long as we keep the story moving and kind of get it right then all for it.

The story is about a small town named Varmit and the module is supposed to give you a couple of options. I ran with the corrupt mine foreman, with the local law enforcement having an issue with an escaped convict brother out in the wilderness.

Another moment of awesomeness was that I got to play a game with Matt and Michelle for the first time in quite a few years. There were always attempts but this is the first one we managed to have happen in a while. You can read what Matt thought about the game on his blog.

The Good: 

The story flowed well. The players were good, for the most part, at keeping the story going and understanding that RPGs kind of need the players to bite on some hooks. They did, and the ending really wasn't the easy one which is good because they could have forced the issue. Hell, one player did try to backstab them all and got away with no one the wiser.

The Bad: 

Look, if you're upset because the game is getting off topic there are ways to do it that are both friendly and polite. We all understand being in a game where it goes kind of sideways for a bit. We just had a player who was leaving the game because of time and so we had that "after player leaves conversation" and one guy really soured the mood for everyone at the table.

Seriously, you can be like "Hey folks. I get the conversation is good, but could we get back to playing the game?" That works just fine.

The Other: 

You reckon'?

The problem with any type of western is that you'll end up trying to do "that" accent. I tried hard not to go too deep into it, mainly because I'm a french canadian with a raspy Gencon voice even by this stage of the game, but also because it's really easy to turn it into a "making fun of" voice which I don't want to do.

The aforementioned guy who soured the mood once said the words "you reckon'" at least five to six times in a single sentence.

3. Daedalus - Icarus Falls - When the Wax Melts

There isn't going to be a section here because the game didn't go off.

However, I was the only person sitting at an empty table in a room full of people with full tables. As far as a feeling goes, that sucks a hell of a lot.

I had people show up like 35-45 minutes after the game started but at that point I was dealing with the whole impostor syndrome that shows its ugly head at times like that.

4. Daedalus - Icarus Falls - Tribute

I told myself that this game, I was going to run it no matter how many people showed up, or how late they showed up. I ended up with one person and you know what? Ended up being a damned good time.

Basically we worked out that he had been working for Crime Boss Zidane, and his contact was a young Zenedine. A bunch of children had been taken by a local gang called the Bangers. They had cobbled together enough tech to give them a kind of cybernetics. It was all exoskeletal, because cyberwear isn't a thing in Daedalus and I had a single Ninja Tech who was busy trying to figure out what was going on.

The Good:

Man, the Alarm thing worked wonderfully. I threw it up in a situation with a lot of tension, and it just raked it up a little bit more.

The Bad:

One player made it hard to really see how anything would go in a group.

The Other:

Hilariously, he only failed a single roll. Everything else was either 7+ on the rolls let alone the bonuses.

Anyway, it gets me excited for that project when it comes down the pipe. I still have to go over the document, because I know for a fact that I'm probably missing a section on the revolutionary groups but that said it's looking like a fun game.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fan Expo 2014 - Panels and Game a Go Go

Gen Con is behind us, and Fax Expo is in front of us. If you're going to be in the downtown Toronto area next weekend you'll be able to hang out and talk about things because there are plenty of panels here.

11:00 am - Room 709 - Finding Your RPG Style Panel
12:00 pm - Room 709 - Kicking Off your Campaign Panel
03:00 pm - Room 703 - Publishing your RPG

07:00 pm - Room 709 - Geasa: An Evening of Curses

11:00 am - Room 709 - Finding Your RPG Style Workshop
12:00 pm - Room 709 - Kicking Off your Campaign Workshop
12:45 pm - Room 705 - In the Game of Boards you roll or you lose

02:00 pm - Room 709 - Gaming by Storm (1 hour blocks, I'm running 2 games of Critical! and 2 games of Marvel)

11:00 am - Room 703 - Pathos and Probability Curves: Writing Adventures
04:45 pm - Room 705 - State of the Industry

01:00 pm - Room 709 - Critical!: Go Westerly: Growling Door Gates

Thursday, August 21, 2014

RPG Book Club - How We Came To Live Here

A few weeks ago, after months of planning, we had our first RPG book club meeting in June. I know it's late to the game for this, and I'll have more to write about later but I need to play catch up for now.

Basically a bunch of friends decided that we had a whole shit-tonne (that would make them metric, for the record) of games that we didn't play and wanted to at least try them once. That lead us to listing a bunch of games that we had and talking about which ones we wanted to play. We really only had 2-3 hours to play them so we knew we weren't going to get a whole session done but we wanted to try it out anyway.

The first game we played was How We Came To Live Here by Brennan Taylor from Galileo Games.

The game is set in a fictional land set using First Nations in the South West of the US as the foundation, and personally, with my limited knowledge of the American South West, I think it's probably the best example of what you can try to do as not a member of a community and try to make a game of it. Let me explain why:

1. The game is about people:
You play people who are living their lives and trying to carve out their existence. None of this stoic warrior nonsense, none of this weird saying magic person crap. It's about the cultural norms and how people deal with them. It's about love and relationships.

2. The game is only about the people:
Very explicitly it says that you should not, at any point in time, play the game where white people show up and try to settle the land. There are monsters in the outskirts of the world but they aren't the focus, the people are and that's great because that's where the center is.

3. The game admits that it might fuck up:
Right at the beginning, and you get a sense that there was an effort of understanding, research, and an admittance that there might be something that was missed and an understanding that there is a level of respect needed for the game.

That said, we ended up playing a pre-set up adventure. I think it went well, though it's been long enough that I don't remember too much about it. There were Snake Outsiders, and a love triangle, and some people trying to get what they wanted by letting others get taken out by the Snake People.

I was playing the Outside GM, Kate was playing the Inside GM and Rachelle, Rob and Erik were all playing their characters.

What I thought was awesome about the game.

1. No matter what you do, win or lose a conflict, you get something to spend on having an effect on the game. You can spend your conflict dice to change rules of the world, affect other people positively or negatively, change your relationships, or even upgrade your social standing. It's fucking brilliant and after one round of it I love the idea behind it because it made every single conflict meaningful. You were doing something, well there were immediate consequences that you had to deal with.

2. It felt immersive an familiar at the same time. There were conflicts between parents and children, quite little moments where others were trying to subtly affect things so that they could get the relationship that they wanted. It was great because there was a lot of things going on, and they felt really important to the story.

I'll try to get these done faster, it's been a busy few months all around.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cast Off - Launching of a Kickstarter Project

I've been pretty quiet on a lot of fronts because I've been working hard on a variety of projects (Veronica Monsterhearts, Rent's Due, Third Life, AIR to name a few) but one of them is near completion.

Cast Off is now live and we're hoping to get some people to be interested by movie trivia and funny voices!

It's the first "big print run" game that I've done. Suitors was a bigger total print run, but this is the biggest game I've ever done and that's why I'm looking for help with the funding. Spread the word!

Monday, April 14, 2014

TAG - Dungeon World (RP)

You know what? Instead of doing an Actual Play thing, I'm going to call it a Remembered Play because I'll be damned if I'm going to record and then type out what everyone is saying and/or doing.

What happened? We played Dungeon World at a local Meetup for the Toronto Area Gamers and had a good time doing it damn it.

The Party:
Human Thief named Sparrow
Human Cleric of the Divine Healer named Constantine
Human Ranger named Emery with Owl companion named Chirpy
Halfling Fighter named Olive with a Spear of Death and Destruction

* Bonds and having two people independently think that Emery was incapable of doing anything right then both of those same characters saying that they were there to protect Sparrow whose response was "Ha, suckers."

* Olive knocking Sparrow out of the way of an incoming Wraith, and letting the Wraith inhabit her body turning her into a Paladin of the Necromancers. With a special move to deal with whose memory was currently on top (Spoiler: Not Olive pretty much the rest of the game)

* Sparrow trying to keep the gate shut so that nothing bad comes down, and then a large zombie-like wolf comes down and licks her hands with a hot breath smelling of rotting flesh, blood aged for years in the darkness.

* Olive manages to get the Wolf to calm down enough to report on what's going on, but Sparrow is having none of that nonsense and sneak attacked the wolf while it was busy about to say something.

* Emery has been 6- every single Ranger like roll in the game. Then brings out the bow and arrow and 10+ the next four rolls and kills all the things.

* Constantine turning undead all the time, and catching Olive the new Paladin of the Necromancer and stunning her too.

* Finding a chalice that the goddess said would heal Olive, and finding a potion that they figured they might as well try since they knew that it was a colour favoured by the necromancers, they tried to give it to Olive who finally figured out that the other three were intruding on the domain. After one massive punch to Sparrow who had the chalice the potion sprayed everyone but Sparrow who threw the chalice up in the air and high tailed it out of there while the others fought over the chalice.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rent's Due - Residential 1 Character Sheet

Please forgive the look of it. I grabbed some clip art from OpenClipart and put together what is a very rough idea of what I think that the character maps can look like.

Residential 1 - Rent's Due

Feedback is appreciated. I mean someone with far better skills could come up with something a lot better looking, but this is me futzing around and not really paying too close attention to things as I would if this was a final. It's more about seeing if it's workable.

RPG Review Recess - Posthuman Pathways

There is currently a kickstarter going on by Jason Pitre over at Genesis Of Legend publishing who have also put out The Spark.

You can follow the link here to the kickstarter, but if you want you can wait until after the review of the game. I'll repost the link at the bottom.

Posthuman Pathways

This game is designed to be a GMless 3 person game where you talk about the transition from a current era society towards a post-human society. There's some piece of technology that causes a huge change, and you and 2 other people will go through their transitions from the youth of today, to the adults living through the changes, and then as the generation that looks back knowing how the world was different before. Through the game you explore your characters decision about the technology, and what happens on the other side.

It designed specifically for 3 people, where each person takes on a specific role with a specific goal in mind. You have Trailblazer who is responsible for the Timeline questions and setting up the scenes for the other players. The Trailblazer is also the one who can push forward action by asking questions to keep things moving. The Guide is the one who sets up the challenges and is the main source of confrontation for the Voyager who is the person playing their character. You'll switch these roles so that every one gets a chance to play their character in each phase of the game.

Now if you've played, or read, The Spark, you'll see a lot of that in there. The setup, the language, and a lot of the idea behind the game shine through in Posthuman Pathways. That only makes sense because of who is writing it, and it really fits there. This isn't a game where you need a person to moderate what's going on, it's not RPG storytelling in the traditional sense where you've got a bunch of obstacles to overcome. It's far more about the introspection that comes with great change. The Voyager will always win any conflict,  you don't have to worry about winning or losing there. It's all about the decisions that the Voyager makes. What prices you pay for the choices you make. Everything has a cost.

You keep track of all the changes on pieces of paper, cue cards if you have them but they also have downloadable "cards" that you can use in order make things all nice and neat if you're into it. The format is also great because it's a set of pamphlets that you pass around as you take on each role. It outlines what your responsibilities are and gives you the steps for how to go through a scene.

My only personal wish is that there was some way to have the story go off in a direction that even the Voyager couldn't totally expect. I don't know if it fits into the game, and there is enough variation with things like the questions that the Trailblazer puts forth. If the technology first seems to be something the divides and scares people then you'll have to deal with that rather than have it turn into a nice little utopia. However, that's really picking at nits.

There are two really great parts to this. The first is that it's almost at it's funding goal and just needs a little bit more to get it over the edge. The second is that you're looking at 7 bucks to get the game. That's it, 7 whole dollars and you get a copy of a great game that you can pick up and play when your normal group can't make it. Just pull it out of the envelope and play, no setup needed or anything like that.

This was shorter than I thought it was going to be, but if your mouse is down here then you can always click on this link to go and give them your seven bucks.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rent's Due v.2

With a lot of fanfare, and a huge thank you to Mikael, here is the beta version of Rent's Due.

I think it's a lot better, with a lot more interesting choices to be made as well as a better way to deal with Park Problems.

You can check it out here if you're so inclined. It's almost 10k words and I think it could use a lot of examples (another wonderful suggestion from Mikael) and options to choose from but that's list building. It doesn't actually have any impact on the mechanics.

Thoughts, comments are always appreciated.

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