Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Mist Opportunity

 
The Achtung Cthulu has begun in absolutely classic style. Our group of average well to do sub continental jet setters were taking a usual Indian internal flight  from Bombay to Calcutta, where upon the plane was veiled in a strange and yet B movie like mist as our pilots lost their navigation. Instrumentation was curiously malfunctional as well as everyone's watches losing time during the affair. Our adventure had begun and in pre war air cabin luxury.
 
Through the mists strange red lights were apparent and also seemingly correcting any course deviation, they brought us down eventually into the vast mountain escarpments of the Himalayas.. or that is what we thought. Putting aside our surreal journey we have found ourselves in some sort of even more surreal Buddhist enclave, not just cut of from civilisation but, I suspect, cut off from reality entirely!
 
By reason of fate or design we have been asked by the Abbot to assist in challenging some less enlightened neighbours of theirs in another valley as it appears that, for reasons unknown, they have managed to acquire a transmission tower...and are in contact with ze NAZIS!!
 
Its all a bit overwhelming for everyone at the moment and my character is not sure where he is going to get the morning papers from but if the Nazis get a foothold in the Raj then it will be the end of business as we know it...


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

In space, no one can hear you scream

 
As you may have had already heard; new games started being run last week at our wonderful club.

My use of a semicolon was not unintentional as prior to Eclipse Phase starting, we had a very interesting discussion on the pluralisation of an octopus. Lines were drawn, alliances formed and backstabbing commenced between the camps of octopi, octopuses and octopodes. As no clear victor emerged from the rubble, we went on to roleplaying!

I must say, even though I picked a ready-made character, it still took me quite a while to copy everything onto a blank sheet. Fortunately, GM Rob was kind enough to explain some of the character aspects I wasn't sure about which is always helpful. I'm told that making a character from scratch for Eclipse Phase is highly time consuming.

The current session started off with us waking up in our spare bodies. If you're unfamiliar with Eclipse Phase, suffice to say it's a sci-fi setting where conciousness is downloadable so changing bodies is everyday business. Last thing we remembered was getting ourselves backed up before venturing out of our space station to check out some ghost space ship that happened to drift by. That was too weeks ago (how ominous!).

The rest of the session was spent on getting around and trying to stop our oxygen from leaking out as something was attempting to open up the station's external hatches. Some of the doors were also welded shut with junk. Ferocious cutting and chopping was had!

We managed to stabilise our situation and started to breathe without fear of running out of air when.. suddenly... a cliffhanger happened!

Something's coming for us...
and it's not existential angst...
that was sorely lacking...
 

 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

New Games for Old

After a week of email storms the electronic front is clearing and we have two games emerging for the next several weeks. Achtung Cthulu makes its second instalment of Shadows of Atlantis. GM Jon:
 
"Shadows of Atlantis is set during the early days of the war as the British intelligence community begins to become aware of the threat.
 
A pair of British spies embedded in Vienna in August 1939 became embroiled in the investigation of the death of a noted German archaeologist, gathering local allies along the way. An unearthed journal provided clues to the motivation for the murder and the identity of those responsible, along with information about valuable artefacts scattered across the world. It seemed likely this was all related, but the group fled Austria when war broke out.
 
They headed for Rome, as Italy was still neutral and the spies were hoping to find a pair of local agents who had gone missing. They found them in a slave labour gang working on an underground archaeological dig administered by the same organisation that was responsible for the professor's death. Following clues in the journal, they realised that their enemy was trying to locate one of the artefacts and they staged a raid to beat them to it. Things got very weird as they battled reptilian humanoids in the catacombs beneath the Eternal City, claiming an ornate shield with odd properties as their prize.
 
Returning with the shield to London, they were inducted into the fledgling Section M and sent to Egypt as part of a multi-pronged mission to seek the remainder of the artefacts. The group chased clues across Cairo, eventually enacting a local prophecy that saw them enter the Egyptian Underworld to battle Apep and recover the second artefact. It could have been a drug-induced dream, but they did come back with another odd object...
 
Meanwhile, another group of agents and innocent bystanders is en route by air from Calcutta to Delhi..."

In another world or universe entirely, GM Rob is bringing a game new to the club, Eclipse Phase. In his very own words:

"
Okay folks, if people want something a bit more sci-fi and transhumanist, I have the post-apocalyptic transhumanist horror game Eclipse Phase on offer. From Wikipedia:

"Eclipse Phase is a post-apocalyptic game of conspiracy and horror. The setting takes place after a World War III project to create artificial intelligence went rogue under the influence of an extraterrestrial entity known as the "Exsurgent" (best described as an organic computer virus with the capacity to infect both machines and animals with sapient qualities), resulting in the deaths of over 90% of the inhabitants of Earth.

Earth is subsequently abandoned, and existing colonies throughout the Solar System are expanded to accommodate the refugees. The setting explores a spectrum of socioeconomic systems in each of these colonies:
A capitalist/republican system continues in the Inner System (Mars, the Moon, and Mercury), under the Planetary Consortium, a corporate body which allows the election of representatives but whose shareholders are nominally most powerful.
An Extropian/Propertarian system is established in the Asteroid Belt.
A military oligarchy rules the moons around Jupiter.
An alliance of Scandinavia-style social democracy and Collectivist anarchism are dominant in the Outer System.

From there, the setting explores various scientific advances, extrapolated far into the future. Nanotechnology, terraforming, Zero-G living, upgrading animal sapience, and reputation systemsare all used as plot points and background.

With all of this, the game encourages players to confront existential threats like aliens, weapons of mass destruction, Exsurgent Virus outbreaks, and political unrest."

Players are "egos", pure consciousnesses of either humans, uplifted (non-humans given human-level intelligence) or AIs. Egos can be backed up, installed into new bodies (anything from human to projected light, including robotic bodies of all shapes and sizes, bodies of uplifts, even things like a swarm of centrally controlled insects similar to the future Yithians in Call of Cthulhu). Egos can also be forked, creating 2 sentient beings who are exactly the same up until the point of forking or remixed fork, altering aspects of the fork to create things like a barely sentient AI that mimics the original's behaviour or a combination of several original egos into one person.

It's uses a percentile based system with 00 on the dice actually representing 00 as opposed to 100. Criticals (either success or fail) are caused by rolling doubles (11, 22, 33, etc) on the dice.

The game is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. The publishers encourage players and gamemasters to recreate, alter, and "remix" the material for non-commercial purposes.

Website: http://www.eclipsephase.com/"

Blimey. Well which universe sounds less dangerous then ?




 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Changes

What happens at the end of the 13th Age ? One could presume that as with some movie franchises that they have a good thing going with, potentially unlimited sequels, but I was surprised that having played last time we didn't start a 14th Age. This may be a facetious point but on the up side it will mean that any 13th Age game will just continue to climax to an even better finale. In this vein our incumbent adventure is approaching its last instalment for the time being and sees the party in another Kobold infested situation. Will we ever find out who killed the Pharaoh ? Who is altering the rivers in Punt ? Who Will the first archaeologist ever find anything old to dig up ? All these questions and more will come to a fruition tonight.

Blades in the Dark is easier to round off at any point as its more of a chess game wilth knives. Whist the protagonists, organisations and entities continue to shift and vie for power in the player generated back plot, it is only occasionally interspersed with first hand player events. It is a game I shall miss as its a well balanced cross between a board and roleplaying game that offers play on two distance levels without ever having to roll a dice. I am not so well steeped in roleplay to know whether it is a unique approach but its an experience definitely worth having.

 
However, now is a good time to think about re/joining as we are about to rotate and reinvent games and there are plans a bubbling. In our Gnome driven steam and cog powered Yahoo system there are contenders emerging for the next adventurers. We are thinking of reincarnating a D&D5E back to Thursdays. Its generic appeal and profile fit well in a public facing club and often encourage the dedicated, though we also offer it on a Tuesday also. GM Jon has spoken of the continuation of his popular Achtung Cthulu and GM Rob has also been wafting a space adventure around.

We shall cast all our magical ingredients into a hat and see what sort of rabbit we can pull out of it....stay tuned folks..



Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Reminiscing Retail Roleplaying



Coming up in club comms this week is the forthcoming opening of another Brighton Games retail experience - Games Saloon. The history of Gaming shops in Brighton is not an illustrious one. There is though the stalwart Games Workshop that has survived as long as I can remember. Not specifically a roleplaying shop, I do remember wandering in there many years ago when they did  used to stock Merp and ICE modules from my Lord of the Rings days but I haven't been inside for a looong while but like a small shrine on a winding road I should really pop in and light a candle.

I do remember Wargames Haven more recently, nice try but closed after 12 months in 2009 sadly - lots of space for table top but floor area in Brighton does come at a high price.

Dave's Comics in the North Lanes is another long serving outlet that has reinvented itself several times over the years. I did have the pleasure of meeting Dave himself on occasion and my other half used to run the shop from time to time when he wanted to pop out for a cup of tea. Sadly no longer with us his shop has gone from selling large bundles of rpg modules that Dave must have bought in wholesale second hand and now aims for the premium boxset market but if you have the money then always worth popping in. I do remember a Magic the Gathering section staffed by an incredibly knowledgeable wizard during its hayday.
 
Who remembers the Brighton Adventurers Guild store in the North Laines ? It was before the internet.... and before even the Adventurers Guild ?..Well we have to go back as far as the RPG section in the local Virgin Megastore.
 
 
So how will Dice Saloon fair ? Well hopefully in the digital age their business intelligence should really have made the decision as to viability but at the end of the day its community that matters so with sharp pencils and an escape for the imagination do pop in for a crumpet.
 

 
 



 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Never Trust an Old GM



So I have been away for a week an my own adventure that netted absolutely no gold or  experience points. I shall pause only to point out that I walked passed  a Warhammer shop in Helsinki. Specifically I didn't go in to see if it was actually war hammers they were selling as it was closed; the owner was absent presumably because his son had been captured by internet trolls.
 
So piecing the week's email evidence together it would seem that GM Bill has been having some fun with our 13th Age Party and life insurance may have to be cashed in. Quote:

"Life can be hard sometimes.
You're a big fierce Ankheg, you fear nothing.  You're enjoying a relaxing day, lurking in your burrow, when a whole row of meals arrive.  Juicy soft little creatures, no exoskeletons, you can just bite straight into them and eat to your heart's content.

That's how it was supposed to work.

But then somehow they turn out to have sharp bits, and weird explosions of fire and stuff, and before you know it you're losing legs left, right and centre and really not feeling king of the hill any more.

And then, to add insult to injury, the adventurers you barely scratched get themselves utterly mauled by a mere ochre jelly.

Bill"
 
Given the options between fighting a rather ugly, giant insectoid or a yellow jelly, I can see how guards may have been let down here. I would suppose jelly is something you have to reward yourself with after a particularly trying day or something to indulge in at Christmas.
 
Just remember folks, wobbly, delicious deserts are no trifling matter and can have you for Christmas too !
 
 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Someone Call 999

With the lady-necromancer dead in the street and Bluecoats surely on their way to the scene of the crime, we were forced to make a quick exit. Fortunately, I was shooting from an out of view location, Marcus (The Whisper) had his spirit mask on and the Lurk was in disguise, so getting out of Dodge wasn't difficult.

Regrouping at our base, we decided that the next step in our plan to obliterate the Lampblacks was to set fire to their headquarters. We needed to act fast while the news of their ally being dead didn't reach them. A few hours later, we were all prepped up with combustible materials and plans as to where to place it all. We took Mercer with us because we knew all too well the Lampblacks clearly outnumbered us.

Our Lurk got into their base once so entering again and setting everything up for a fire was a simple matter of time. We waited out of sight until the whole building went ablaze. The Lurk opened a backdoor for us and we made our way towards their treasury while the Lampblacks were distracted by the surrounding inferno.

'Who goes there?' Some Lampblacks blocked our way. I gave them a very stern talking for leaving their stations and casually walking around while everything was in flames! Confused and bewildered at first, they quickly realised the error of their ways and politely asked for guidance. As such, I had to go with them, leaving the rest of the gang behind, and coordinate their efforts to put out the raging fire.

The group continued onwards to the treasury. Mercer stepped in through the treasury's door after our Lurk dealt with the lock, only to find several Lampblacks inside.

HOW? WHAT? WHY?

With little to no time for explanations, he tried to close the door as said Lampblacks charged the group.

Meanwhile, the Lampblacks' attempts to douse the fire weren't going so well. It may have had something to do with me sending them out to the most dangerous places and giving out reckless orders. After a while I tried to slip away but some of the Lampblacks decided they wanted to get paid for their job... thus a chase through the burning building began.

It concluded when I reached the corridor leading to the treasury and where the rest of our gang was. Noticing the slew of enemy gang members, Marcus shouted for me to duck. I slid on the floor as he released the spirit he wrenched control of from the lady-necromancer. It took care of most of the Lampblacks and we killed whoever remained.

We made our way back, with what little valuables we could find, only to have our way blocked once more by none other than Bazo Baz!

Although he proved a fierce opponent, he succumbed to our numbers and went down in flames... literally.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Never Trust an Old Lady

 
In my last update, I might have asserted that we won't be using updated rules in our game... it turned out to be a falsehood. This session started with us transferring dots onto our new sheets. Other than two skills being combined into one, skill distribution changes among the classes and me losing a concealed blade for ectoplasmic ammunition, there weren't many visible changes... but let us get back to the game!

After every successfully performed job, our merry band of sociopathic thieves likes to engage in our personal relaxing activities. For some they include culling the local prostitute population, for others it's visiting their succubus friend for the night... and out Lurk prefers to gamble his money away.

Sadly, he quickly found out that his regular gambling den banned him. As such, he started looking for a new one. In the process, he noticed an obvious member of the Lampblacks' gambling his money away in one of the city's fine establishments.

Surely enough, our gang was swiftly informed of this. Offended by the travesty of their further existence, we decided to eradicate them from the surface of the planet or, at the very least, from the city we're in.

Our plan was simplicity itself: walk in under the guise of gamblers, wait for our target to appear and follow him to the Lampblacks' current lair. Turns out they set up shop right next to their previous hideout... or whatever rubble remained thereof. We had to admit the idea was brilliant. Even the Bluecoats underestimated their sheer stupidity.

The following two days, we observed their operations while the Lurk snuck past their security and had a look around inside. It seemed they were trying to regain their foothold but morale was low. Other than locating their current treasury and having a look at their badly made propaganda posters, there wasn't much else to see.

Outside, however, we noticed an old lady in very expensive gard cordially walking inside. Our Lurk informed us that she had some private dealings with Bazo Bas but could not gather any more information on the subject.

Opting for a more direct approach to information gathering, we waited for a lone gang member going out to a gambling den again and spirited him away. It turned out that he knew me, claiming I killed him. I had to mention that didn't narrow down his identity so I chatted with him about his death's circumstances while the Whisper tried to gleam some information out of him. A moment later he informed us that this person was simply an empty husk being possessed by a spirit.

Putting a spirit into a body was no simple task and our new friend was highly reluctant to tell us who helping him into this body. A few threats and some supernatural compelling by our Whisper helped change his mind.

The old lady we saw earlier was Bazo Bas's cousin and a high-level necromancer for hire. Presumably, they had some sort of deal worked out between them where she was putting the spirits of deceased Lampblacks back into their bodies. After all this information was gained, the Whisper bottled up the ghost and we went on to planning an assassination.

We knew she would have leave the Lampblacks' base at some point and deal with some other contractual work but until that happened, we had to wait. Eventually, sometime close to dusk, she headed out to see her other clients. We followed in the shadows. The Whisper warned us that some sort of spirit was following us. It did try to fly off, probably to warn our quarry, but the Whisper forced it to stay put.

Her first client was someone living in a mansion. We knew we wouldn't have much time so we prepared a quick trap. As the old lady came out the mansion, through the gate and onto the street, our Lurk ran up to her in the guise of a random passer by. Being stationary, she was a much easier target for me so I shot her through the shoulder. She staggered back... and regained her balance. It was at that moment, when she completely ignored the pain of being shot, that we realised she too was a spirit possessing a dead body.

She reached for a vial hanging from her neck and shattered it on the pavement, releasing her guardian. Our Whisper mentally wrestled with the angry spirit, I kept shooting at it with ectoplasmic bullets and the Lurk beat and cut the lady-necromancer. When all was done, the Whiper, with great effort, captured the spirit and the Lurk delivered the final blow to our enemy's exposed neck.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Leader of the Pack



 
So what do you do with a pack of hungry kobolds ? This isn't a joke about light bulbs as far as I can tell but our boulder trap from last week has now resolved itself into kobold trap. To be fair we did see it coming, kobols are pack animals and aggressive and dextrous in force, their bravery being cumulative. This does however give them both the advantage of rally as well as the disadvantage of over dependence on following a particular individual or pack leader. We did sadly split up and tackled the kobold hoard from several sides which was a bad mistake really in retrospect as we should have gone for the command and control straight away and cut the head off the beast before it got out of control. As usual having sauntered along taking most of our encounters in our stride we are now starting to have our first near death experiences and we are turning to our small stock of magic coffee beans and whilst I find a mocha particularly invigorating in the morning its effects are somewhat underwhelming in survival situations.
 
So hopefully we have managed to converge on their captain in a not too late fashion and the next few dice rolls will be critical, or so I would hope.
 
It is far from clear though if there are any other strategies we could have adopted for pack warfare. Anything that would sow a seed of confusion from fire, smoke or noise I would imagine would have a more exaggerated effect as the individual would suddenly be aware of their own safety rather than simply following the mob. Initially we tried reasoning with them which was interesting as I am not sure if pressing the intellect of a kobold would ultimately confuse it or encourage it to quickly revert to stabbing things...perhaps a riddle or we were thinking of using shields with sort of Christmas cracker puzzles on them.
 
It has got me thinking as to the demarcation between a pack and a swarm and weather there is a significant difference in how both manifestations are approached. I think in a swarm as such there is in fact no pack leader, at lest not on the field. Or is a swarm just a very large pack? A distributed consciousness would indeed make for a formidable enemy and it may just be a a war of attrition to beat it down but then again without a leadership of some sort does a swarm exhibit any desires or intentions above simply instinct ? Either way a feeding instinct or global ambition, a swarm is at the very least going to sting a bit but resistance is not necessarily futile...
 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Plot-Twist Appears!

We return to our regular schedule after a two week break.
How did we survive two weeks without roleplaying is anyone's guess.

Apparently, Blades in the Dark went through some rule changes in our absence but I don't think we'll start using them just yet.

Our last job left us in possession of a significant amount of drugs and as such, our first order of business was to figure out what to do with them. Brainstorming away, we decided to not only add flour to it but to sell them as fishcakes! Of course, with hardly any cooking skills of our own, we had to turn to the recruitment of new staff in order to make use of the recent market demand caused by the previous supplier going down under... literally. We managed to find a nice old lady with an extensive CV which included such things as drug distribution and brothel management, and cooking! She was hired on the spot.

Second order of business was to set up a distribution centre. We had some problems coming up with good ideas until we realised that the nearby Church of the Forgotten Gods is in dire need of new management. It does help that the building was very nice. Our Slide went to work giving out free samples and making the local congregation realise the current management wasn't good enough for their worship and that under our management, things would change for the better! We would even introduce scantily clad waitresses to serve fishcakes during sermons!

With the congregation looking forward to the upcoming change of management, all that was left to do was to make the change. We attended an evening service and while the Slide took care of the congregation outside the church, Mercer took the main priest to the side and explained the situation to him. Sadly, he didn't agree with our views and as such, we had to turn to Plan B.

Oddly enough, a candle just happened to fall rather loudly to the ground, giving Mercer the appropriate opportunity to stab the priest in the gut... and that's when we realised he was, in fast, a demon... hiding his massive horns underneath a cloak.

In the ensuing fight we once again had an opportunity to make use of the flashback mechanic present in the system when GM Jack asked me if the bullet I shot at the demon was silver. Remembering that the Lurk had a spare downtime asset roll hanging about, I asked him if he might have procured one in the morning. Turns out that yes, he did, and he even lend it to me because he didn't own a gun himself and I was clearly interested in the ballistics of a different type of ammunition being used... but then the dice decided that no, silver doesn't actually work against demons!

Resorting to bladed weapons, it took us a while to hack the demon into pieces. It was a very stressful fight, stressful enough that I was the first to obtain a point of Trauma... a few more and my character will suffer a mental breakdown, bringing him out of the game, it seems.

On the upside, turns out demon pieces are worth a lot of coins so at the end of the evening, we managed to extend our crew's territory, created a source of income and earned a significant amount of coin and prestige.

Not many crews can boast murdering a demon...

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Preacher Heal Thyself

Last week brought and opportunity to join the Blades in the Dark conspiracy. Whilst I had heard much of the system second hand it was a delight to get hands on experience. By delight I mean the opportunity to cut throats, racketeer and generally fight murderously over turf. Interestingly enough the turf we had decided was ours this particular week was holy ground..
 
Now there is quite a lineage of issues in the horror vernacular when it comes to co-opting blessed or cursed real estate and the imagination does not fail here. Indian burial grounds come to mind immediately, old lunatic asylums often have quite the vibe, disused and long abandoned schools carry the haunting songs of unhappy children and faceless nurses endlessly shuffle the corridors of condemned hospital ruins.  Worst of them all though, the de sanctified church. If you want a good night out, go to a de sanctified church.
 
So, with a roll of the eyes, lo and behold, our last mission was to take over a church opposite our scrapyard to expand our grisly little empire. The system is well balanced in that you gain more Heat  the larger your organisation gets but of course more Coin potentially and prestige. Remarkably enough it was a fairly straightforward matter of undermining the resident priest and convincing his motley congregation that they needed a much higher quality worshipping experience that included fishcakes and wine.
 
 
Having made our play, one of us kept the congregation talking outside while the rest of us went inside for some quick de frocking. Oddly enough on this occasion the land itself kept out of it to my relief but of course the twist in the plot was always there. As we leapt upon what we thought of as a beleaguered preacher he didn't so much as turn out to be possessed but in fact a Demon in possession of human disguise. Several Stress points and Traumas later it had succumbed to a general battering but we had really underestimated the situation. Nevertheless we now have a church to soak for donations and a little more territory to squabble over.
 
What next then ? I'm thinking a nice tea shop to go with the church where we can funnel A class drugs through cutthroat old ladies.



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Boulders gate



Its beauty is its simplicity and its real danger lies in its inevitably. I would suggest that if we were actually playing D&D I would roll to save vs clichés. Like moths drawn to a flame, the sort of flame that is very heavy and will turn you into A4 when it rolls over you, we are currently facing the classic boulder trap.
 
Its somewhat complicated by the fact that we have spent an entire day climbing a cliff via a thoroughly non health and safety compliant trail and deftly sidestepping oncoming issues does mean a plummet of 200 feet into a small pool. So what are our options? Well this particular theme park ride is in fact staffed by kobolds so we have decided to try and negotiate our way past the security guards and talk to the management directly. I cant even remember what pretext we used, partly as it was late but partly because I don't understand kobold but it is not going to go well.
 
To be fair the boulder has the same problem we do to a degree as the path we are on does in fact have a couple of bends in it and as far as I know, large rocks don't steer particularly well and this option does appeal to my action hero character but we are in parle now I believe albeit briefly. Problem is that the little buggers have the high ground so the best we can do is keep them talking whilst we climb off the path, out of the boulder zone and onto the top of the cliff. Unfortunately no one has yet had a chance to count them as they are not wearing numbered uniforms so the odds are still being calculated. Still I am unsure as to whether triggering the trap and fighting uphill where numbers abreast are limited is a better outcome than fighting at full force against an unknown number of little assailants with our backs to a sheer drop. Any advice is welcome here.
 
It is worth mentioning that there is a waterfall coming out of the cliff which could in theory break a fall onto the pool below - depending on how deep it is. I guess we might find out...




Friday, 29 May 2015

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

I hope everyone enjoyed the weather over the recent bank holiday weekend and half-term. Now that said weather had turned slightly grim, I would like to point you to a Kickstarter project.

Although, it's been years since I first saw The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, I still fondly remember enjoying the film. It's about a group of roleplayers starting a new game with a player new to gaming. The action switches between the group at the table and the group within the fantasy world, one reality influencing the other.

I will be extremely happy having this as a Blu-Ray on my shelf and in case any of you would like to add it to your collection, be sure to back it as it seems it will be out as a limited edition to Kickstarter backers.

Click on the widger to the right or on the link within this post.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Undead relatives


Always embarrassing at Christmas or Birthdays is that long dead old uncle in the corner. A sort of rotting elephant in the room, conversation can be circumspect and frivolous but when its time to pull a cracker with someone and put on the paper hats, certain things just can be ignored.

Its often the case with relatives and loved ones that it is very hard to 'let go' particularly when they are still sort of groaning but its a question of whether or not its always best to face facts. Honesty being the best policy, the most caring thing to do would perhaps be to nudge them in the right direction when all they are doing is shuffling around and gnawing on things. Of course where a prearranged agreement can be made then so much the better; zombie apocalypses tend to bring like minded people together particularly where buddies and bites are concerned but in circumstances where fates are less communal then one can bravely but hopelessly struggle on in a more of a carer's role when in fact its long past time for a friendly staking.
 
Denial is the key hear I find and the quicker one can accept situations then the better really but once again in the metaphysical worlds of roleplaying the lines can blur a bit. Systems can often define point blank when souls definitively leave the body and also beyond what point resurrection or reincarnation can or cannot occur but to be fair, from a characters perspective the 'rules of the system' are not necessarily experienced or known. Perhaps a zombie is not just for Christmas.
 
In our last game for example we had to deal with a father and sons who went off into dangerous territory in search of their fortunes and yet returned to their mother somewhat malnourished and with glowing eyes. To be fair in this case it was also self defence as they were about to feast on us but I'm not convinced we necessarily did the right thing as I am not sure actually what their options were.
 
Still, my character wont lose much sleep over it as he just deals with the world as is - a sort of action figure, but there is perhaps too much shoulder shrugging in the post modern world of undead healthcare management. We might still be at the cultural point of medieval medicine but perhaps in time we can look forward to a renaissance of zombie care and positive undead outcomes.
 
Remember, just because you are rotting does not mean you are bad person.
 
 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Blow Things Up and Walk Away

Our third session saw our return to taking a job for the Red Sashes to further complicate Lampblacks' operation.

This time we were asked to plant a device in the Lampblacks' Headquarters. A device that we learned would attract a great many angry/deranged spirits to cause general mayhem. We had a lovely chat with the Red Sashes' leader but after reaching the point where no more information would be gained, our group went on to scount the area and come up with a plan.

It was decided that the best course of action would be to go in from below since otherwise, the building was well guarded. Fortunately, our Lurk was intimately familiar with the lay of the underground tunnels. Although our group was lacking the heavy-hitter Mercer, the three of us managed to take out the one lonely guard and break into one of their Headquarter's storage areas.

The device was set up and we had about half an hour to get out... but we simply couldn't pass up on the chance to get our hands on all of the Lampblacks' valuables. After all, it would be a shame to see them disappear under a pile of rubble.

While I and the Lurk maneuvered ourselves from prying eyes, the Whisper gave in to his need to figure out what made this artifact tick... and so, just before we started breaking into the Lampblacks' main office, the Whisper's ghost-friend startled us, only to inform us that everything was going fine.

Unbeknowst to us, the Whisper's tampering accelerated the time on the device and the ghost was sent to warn us... unsuccessfully.

Suffice to say that what followed was a short scruffle with the Lampblacks' leader, as our attempts to sneak in and quietly assassinate him didn't work out... defenestration was involved.

Before the rest of his gang had a chance to join the fray, the building suffered a sudden and unexpected assault by angry spirits. Pieces of the roof began to collapse, the ground shook and we used the chaos to slip away the same way we entered.

We met up with the Whisper outside, atop a nearby structure with a beautiful view of the ensuing carnage. It was truly a wonderful sight to behold.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

What to do in a pinch


 
Recently in the 13Age we have found ourselves portalled out of Egypt as you do and into a neighbouring land called Punt. Not so bad as we do in fact have a Puntarian / Punter / Puntish ? trader within the party who has thankfully pointed us in the right direction out of the desert. And going in the right direction in a desert is an extremely important point. Nevertheless on the way to what we were assured was an oasis we had one of 'those' encounters (possibly random - we are not sure yet). I think in desert or rocky environments one should really keep a lookout under small rocks for snakes, spiders and the like as we did come across an issue with a giant scorpion along with a possey of half mummified and somewhat stop motion skeletons.

Now I have dutifully checked on the best advice on scorpion handling from The Scorpion Picture Guide which has recommendations on correct handling but I would hesitate to use the word useful here as it begins..
 
"Handling your scorpion is not recommended". It goes on "There is the possibility of being stung or grabbed by the scorpions pincers"..
 
How true.
 
With this in mind my character did decide to leap onto its back, with the half arsed idea of being too far under the tail for it to be effective. Despite never having had an archaeologist mounting it, I got the impression that actually scorpions have already survived millions of years by being quite adept at fending off both predators as well as dealing with prey. I can happily say I was briefly both on this occasion as with a nimble preening swipe I was precisely pincered for a following sting in the tail, and I don't mean a plot twist. Remarkably I passed my poison resistance to halt oncoming paralysis and unconsciousness but what would the correct course of action be here ?
 
I did look for inspiration in a couple of Ray Mears extreme survival videos but sadly they appear not to be extreme enough for our dilemma. Perhaps I will drop him a line..



Thursday, 14 May 2015

In and Out

Last week saw our band of thieves pull off a successful job, as such we went on to advance our characters. Interestingly enough Blades in the Dark does not use a standard experience system that most gamers are used to. Instead, each group of skills gains an advancement bar, which, when full, allows the player to gain a point in one of the relevant skills. These bars are gained by either using your skills during the game of spending downtime training them.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time for the final stage of the session: DOWNTIME... which we addressed at the start of this one.

Downtime represents time our characters go through between jobs. We relax, reducing our stress levels, and make progress on our personal projects. Although there are other options, like reducing our gang's Heat rating, we all went with personal projects. My character was busy creating a false persona to infiltrate the Bluecoats, which as I understand is a gang that acts as the local police force, while the Lurk worked on getting into their treasury. The Whisper decided to research the existence of angels, which involved casual pillow talk with a succubus. Mercer, the Cutter, started to look for an appropriate site for a temple (to the Forgotten Gods).

After the downtime, it was time for actual play. Which in our case means: breaking, entering and thieving. This time we weren't offered a job by one of the more well-renowned gangs in the area. Instead, our Whisper was approached by a contact with a favour. Mainly, to break into a competitors warehouse and disable some security measures thus giving him an economic advantage in the current marketplace... or some such... thieving was involved, other details seemed less important!

Our initial reconnaissance showed minimal security. A few guards patrolling the outside area in a predictable pattern and one inside an office. Fortunately, the Lurk managed to locate an appropriate entry point on the roof so it all seemed like an easy job.

We got in without too much of an issue (that hole was a bit tight though). The first obstacle we faced came in the form of three guards. Whilst we were setting up an ambush, me character and Mercer had an argument over the appropriate measures of murdering people, with my character explaining to Mercer he can't possibly perform a stealth kill.

Surely enough, after all was said and done, Mercer, alongside half the group, liked to remind my character that he killed two guards with a single swing of his axe while I was still struggling to stab one guard. My annoyance with the situation resulted in an inappropriate amount of dead body stabbing.

After this short scuffle, we nearly got caught unaware by an electroplasmic fence acting as a further security measure. The Whisper disabled it and we moved on to the safe.

The final obstacle was the aforementioned office guard. I had to suffer a constant string of comments directed at my murder skills. Naturally, I was annoyed enough that I needed to prove my worth. I took out a pistol, aimed through the window and, despite wounds suffered earlier, I shot the guard through the skull, the bullet ricocheted, revealing the safe, and went through the guard's heart... for good measure.

The Lur opened the safe, we took as much as we could carry and went off... all in all, a very simple job resulting in a boost to our income.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Pencil is Mightier than the Sword

 
Krzy has written recently on the peculiar dice stacking habits of Roleplayers. Whilst there has been the occasional article on the natural and supernatural properties of small, pretty, many faceted pieces of plastic its interesting to read the psychological, or should I say occasionally psychopathic, effects of dice management. Nevertheless my aim in this Pulitzer contender is to bring to light that most unconsidered but most essential tool of the trade, namely, the mighty pencil.
 
For as long as I can remember we have been inundated with the traditional yellow and black striped stalwart Staedler, that I am sure you will all recognise. To give its formal latin classification it is in point and fact a 'Noris Club 118'. Staedtler remains a shining example of what makes up the backbone of the German economic machine, namely a small company gaining global dominance specialising in a narrow range of products. As it happens, the oldest known pencil was retrieved as part of  a carpenters working tools in the 17th Centuary also in Germany so pencillation remains a Tutonic tradition. But for my part and I'd be interested in anyone else's experience, whenever I pull a random fist full of pencils out of my bag, it always seems to have one of these pencils in it.
 
I am now wondering if indeed there isn't something more ethereal at work; whether Staedlter have done a deal with the underworld, such that, on any given upending of a pencil container, a Staedlter will always manifest itself...in the random pictures below, including an accidental snap at work, I can see a hitherto subtle phenomena at work...

My keyboard at work...

GM Bill in his usual animated style and Crish momentarily flummoxed

 

Warren plotting his next move

What is going on here ? or do these entities just follow roleplayers around.?
 
Perhaps its time to turn over a new leaf and not be lead astray, to erase our misgivings and draw a line under protracted habits and come out of the shade, lay down a new rule, sharpen up and retract traditions. Honestly, I do birthdays and weddings if anyone is interested.
 
Its the future soon so perhaps we should be looking at a retractable line along the precision engineering fronts maybe..










Thursday, 7 May 2015

So... who are we betraying, exactly?


In an unexpected turn of events, last session saw our group of thieves in the middle of negotiations with the boss-leader of the Lampblacks.

Wait what? was our general reaction.

We were just offered a job of stealing the treasury of the Red Sashes, another gang vying for control over the area known as Crow's Foot. According to the scenario notes', those two gangs are in open warfare and we're in the middle.

Just when player voices started to be raising over how did any of us got into that situation, GM Jack did the unexpected by announcing a flashback scene where the leader of the Red Sashes offered us the job of stealing the Lampblacks' treasury.

Our band of thieves, going by the name of Junkyard Dawgs, now had to pick sides... and since we had better connections with the Red Sashes who follow a ruthless art collector with an obvious penchant for sharp and pointy things, it was more advantageous for us to go with the latter offer.

Our reasons established, we had to come up with a plan. We opted to split into two groups: one attempting to create a distraction and the other intent on breaking in unseen. A combination of roleplaying and dice rolling occured. The Lampblack's boss, Bazso Baz, started to suspect his old friend of some kind of treachery, Mercer (who came into the meeting prepared for war) was having arguments with the other gang members and our Whisper brought a ghost-in-a-bottle, all too happy to possess some unsuspecting individuals. All while our Hound (me!) and Lurk broke in, avoided a death trap, killed some guards and stole as much as we could carry... to the window, we had a getaway vehicle ready.

I got to insta-kill twice!
I love this game!
I expect to die next session ._.

As this is a yet unreleased Kickstarter game, allow me to say a few words about the system.

It is true what GM Jack said about the system. It alleviates the need to roll dice for the GM.
When approached by a situation that conflicts with a player's intentions, we're all too used to have the GM roll against a player's roll, not so much here. Instead, the GM creates a circular progress bar that is slowly being filled up in accordance to die results. The player rolls a number of dice equal to his stat... and then the GM offers another die for the meager price of defining what bad thing will happen in return. The dice are rolled, you take the highest result from among them and it defines how much progress has been made in the given task.

Does this mean that getting anything done is a simple matter of enough dice rolls?
Of course not!

The game has a system for Stress that works more-or-less like Hit Points...
but I'll get to that in the next post...

Rolling Dice

Just as we were sitting down to enjoy a fine evening of roleplaying, the subject of dice came up. Stories of raiding dice sets in order to acquire the necessary and appropriate amount of dice for that night's game ran rampant... before I had a chance to contribute to the conversatio, the game started...

So I decided I'll put my 2d6 up here instead!

This is how you play Exalted.
In our wonderful hobby of creating interactive stories, it is often customary for us to turn to the fickleness of the Dice Gods to resolve our disputes.

Although among the great variety of games that we were blessed with, there exist diceless games and games using cards in lieu of dice, it is hard to find a roleplayer without dice.

I suppose it's a combination of a wide variety of dice and sheer availability. Whenever I went to DragonMeet in London, I either bought some pretty dice or had dice thrown at me. I especially remember that day when I and my friends were about to leave only to be stopped by a woman asking us to take as many dice as we could carry... fortunately, I had a whole lot of pockets that day.

When I say variety, I don't simply mean a range of colours and sides. Nowadays we have themed dice, with special symbols etched into the sides. There are tiny dice that will fit inside a lighter and bigger ones... metal dice are especially dangerous. I think dice rings are an awesome idea and I am going to need one in my life. It would supplement my dice earrings nicely.

At the table, it was clear to me that we, as gamers, all have our own little quirks when it comes to dice. My main one is that I strongly believe that dice is a plural word and I shan't use it in as singular (it is the One True Way). Another is that I try to build up my dice bag to allow me to play a range of games without the need to look through my collection before each game. That's why I've got so many d10s (Exalted) and one of my d6s is of a different colour (In Nomine).

Exhibit A: Chaos
Exhibit B: Order
The brief discussion we had at the table made me realise that others treat their dice differently. Some even go to such lengths as to melt a die that rolled poorly in front of other dice, in order to prevent them doing the same. I even disagreed with Jules on the probability of dice rolling after I rolled a few for no reason whatsover and managed to get a couple 6's.

A simple bystander just needs to have a look around the table to see how different we are in our treatment of dice. I had mine in front of me in a chaotic mess, ready to be rolled, while some organised them in an orderly line with each side showing the same number. Others still will use them as protection against the wrath of the Dice Gods and their eternal need to see our characters fail despite many accumulated bonuses.


Exhibit C: Wall
I wish I had something witty to say at the end of this piece... but I don't...
sorry...

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Blight and Shadow ~ Tales from Tuesdays




For those who do not know we have a Tuesday game of D&D5e running from GM Jo. Due to its eternal popularity D&D often forms the backbone of an RPG club and is never far from the table or home session. At the moment the Tuesday game 'Blight and Shadow' has a space in it for any adventurer keen to take up arms.
 
Latest Game report from the GM:
 
"
5e is going strong, two deaths narrowly avoided so far,

First the ranger decided to camp away from everyone else, and as a consequence got rudely awoken by green Dragon  wyrmlings emerging one by one from the earth. Deciding to fight the first one, he found it a tough proposition, and when the second one joined in, he went down and was about to be swarmed under until a dire wolf charged into the melee, seized him and hauled him along the ground then onto its back and ran. The dire wolf turned out to be a wandering druid in wild shape.
 
 
Second time, the party took a short cut into the Shadow Plane because they'd decided to rob the law after a bunch of pixies played havoc upon a passing patrol of Purple Dragons. They found themselves in the Shadow version of the Tomb of Chonus and avoided various deadly traps before accidentally dropping a rope bridge on a behir at the bottom of a ravine. Said beast starts climbing out of the ravine, the party warlock casts an illusion of himself running away into a dead end into which the party trapped it. If the beast hadn't failed its saving throw, it could have been a TPK.
 
They would have been perfectly fine if they'd listened to their guide, not looted the law, and not tried to get a donkey over the bridge...
 
"
 
In other realms our 13Age game has progressed in the sense that we have pursued a highly successful assassination plot upon the Pharaoh of Egypt back through a Babylonian ambassador to what appears to be a group of Demons. We are in the midst of kicking the shit out of them, and I am speaking literally here as they more than resemble  the excramental Golgotha from Dogma. Whatever the reward we are after it better be worth it...

Thursday, 30 April 2015

A Ragtag Band of Sociopathic Thieves

Contrary to popular belief, Dungeons and Dragons (along with its derivatives) is not the only game being played at our fine establishment. For those who are tired of sword swinging and magic casting, there are alternatives.

Although my proposal for a Don't Rest Your Head game didn't gain any traction, I'm quite happy to not be the only one who backed Blades in The Dark on Kickstarter.

Last week saw our character creation session. As the game is still unpublished, the available pdfs provide only the barest essentials to play the game... but with most of the setting being up to us means we, as a group, can create the game's environment to suit our needs without any silly game-constraints.

At present, our five characters cover the five available character types. While GM Jack did mention our characters ended up being more sociophatic than he expected, I believe the general consensus was that it fit with a grim world where the Gates of Death were destroyed so ghosts of the recently deceased run rampant... unless you quickly burn the body.

I'd say that the part I found quite interesting about this system is that we also got to create a 'character' sheet for our up and running band of thieves. We've each contributed to creating our gang, either by talking things through, giving suggestions or simply putting dots on the sheet.

And so, not only does our crew consist of a disgraced nobleman and a former academic now following the teachings of the Church of the Flesh but we have our own subordinates and various relations with other gangs in the area. All this while operating from a derelict rail station turned junkyard... it's in bad enough shape that the heaps of garbage create a byzantine maze for those not familiar with it. Which is exactly the way we like it, as it allows us to hide loot more easily.

Surprisingly enough, it's actually a fairly decent place to live in...
maybe that explains why nobody looks for illegal activities there...