When I got home from work, it was already cool, humid, and cloudy. I got the front yard mowed and trimmed just in time for another bout of rain, which I guess I'm a little concerned is drenching the tomatoes, since there's been a lot of water and not a lot of direct heat lately. It looks like the back yard is going to have to wait.

Since I have some time, then, I figured I'd crack the GMC addendum open (figuratively) and refresh myself on what's changing in the core rule set. While Aspirations, the new V&V system, Breaking Points, and Conditions/Tilts add a different kind of play experience, and the combat subsystems change, GMC Core doesn't take anything away from the old core, but does give me some new mechanical widgets to play with.

We were doing the bulk of our design work with Arcadian Exalts, which were direct parallels to Changelings in the nWoD. Initially, they were laid out like most Charm sets, which is to say they were laid out by Skills. This is absolutely the simplest conceptual way to go, and it does have some things going for it. For example, you could be sure that each ability got something and if you wanted a specific kind of combat, for ex, you could be assured that there was at least some coverage for archery and melee, and you could have Punch Guy, Sword Princess, and Bow Jerk without everyone pulling from the same pool.

It's also exhausting to write up and do well, and one of the specific virtues of the initial nWoD system was that it was streamlined in comparison to Exalted 1 or 2, which has the side effect of pulling a lot of mechanical switches out of the works, meaning that it's easy to imagine most ability sets with, like, only 4 Charms. And that's an optimistic scenario. Initially, I chalked that problem up to How It Was Gonna Be, while wondering if that wasn't something of a virtue in its own right.

So, Brent brought up using the Seasonal Courts to divide basic abilities that the Charms would cover, and buying from a Court's Charms would probably slowly change you ala Infernal Exalts. I think that's really the direction to head in, and tying that to Mantles seems to me to be an evocative idea. So now that I've got GMC and Core in my pocket, it's time for me to look at Changeling (and the rest of the core splats) and see where we're going to want to define our conceptual spaces for the nWoD Exalts.
atolnon: (Default)
( Jun. 7th, 2014 10:25 am)
I'm pretty much doing some clean up, today. This entry is going to look a lot like a list of things I've kind of wrapped up already and a little bit of my very next steps in what I'm planning in the next few days. I've put off really digging into new gaming mechanics for about a week since there's not much that needs to be done right away - the projects have been on hiatus for probably about a year since I was kind of hoping to compare my notes to Exalted 3 realty - so I figured they could wait just a little longer while I wrapped up some stuff that needed doing around here.

There's a lot of stuff that needs doing with our yard to get it to where we'll want it to be. We're basically starting in at ground zero now, after the work I've done on the front and back. When Katie got the house several years ago, nobody really mentioned how much of a problem some of this stuff was gonna be. 'Decorative' creeping vines in a plot in the front, crabgrass in the decorative rock beds near untended bushes in the front, pokeberry vines that come up every year in the back. The last shed foundation is a wreck, and had a lot of wooden debris. Sticks, yeah, but also old gardening beds and stuff. We've been out there daily cutting back pokeberry to nothing, tearing up the roots, removing debris, cutting back, bagging, and then digging up vines to create space for flowers, and using a little from our marginal spending money to build a few small gardening plots which are working fairly well.

Probably the only success we'll see in terms of gardening is some good herb growth, especially cilantro, sage, and mint, and some very nice looking bean plants. The tomato plants look okay, but I don't know how we'll they'll do in the long term. They look much better than when we first purchased them, though. I'm only planning one more planter box this year, and that's around the apple tree in back, and it's only to contain mulch and earth, so as the tree gradually gets larger, the box will probably eventually come down. However, everything after that will be set for the next step again in yardscaping plans.

Everything is in from me in regards to applying for grad school at SIUE. I feel pretty hopeful about it, but I'm going to call them on Tuesday when I'm off to see what they've received and if I need to do anything else. I'm trying to make projections, but the data is still pretty nonexistent, so I have very little idea what to expect from this situation in the long term. At this point, I'm not even really what you'd call hopeful or anxious. I'm just in 'wait and see' mode.

I just finished Mass Effect 3, by the way, which brings me to the end of a huge gaming cycle. Of the three games, I think Mass Effect 2 was probably the best executed of the lot, but there's enough going on with the entirety of the series that it probably deserves a few different posts to break down my thoughts on different aspects of what was going on, from the ending, to the mandatory DLC/multiplayer, romance options, mechanical differences between games, et al. I finished a really small indie game called 'To the Moon' last night, which was a gift from Jenna, and I guess that might get a post. I'm tackling 'Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid' in earnest, which doesn't come naturally to me, but I'm at about 180 pages in of, like 700.

I'm still waiting for Exalted 3 to come out. I'm dying to run a game for our group out here, because I haven't really played a good game in... well, over a year. Getting Mikey, Frank, and The J-Man around a table for some dice rolling sounds pretty good, but it's really going to depend on scheduling and interest. In terms of other gaming projects, you'll no doubt here about that, too.
atolnon: (Default)
( Jun. 1st, 2014 06:33 pm)
When I finish a project, the first thing I do these days is find another back-burner project I'd thought of or started and get back to work. The stuff I've completed is pretty marginal in a lot of cases. It's stuff like archiving data I've been meaning to back up, typing up old work (sometimes really old work), and in a few cases, just finding something I'd done in the past that I'd discarded, lost, or otherwise forgotten. It's nice, though. Start small. It's surprising to me to see all this work I've already done and some of it is better than I'd expected.

There isn't much to actually do with a lot of it, though. I mean, like, oh well.

Until I get some word back on where admissions will be going, everything I need to actually do is done. That's relatively disconcerting, because since I graduated in late '07, I was always aware of this list of stuff that needed to be done in order to re-enroll. The feeling that there was something that should be done was with me even when I had no immediate intention of trying to re-enroll, like when I was up in Bellevue or when I was living in Glen Carbon. I'm not talking about quality. I'm just saying that I do have something to submit. That will be judged on its quality by others, so it's in limbo for me, but until I get that feedback I'm free of that feeling.

But here I am. Very quick to put something on that front burner.

So, I have this Google Site. It's technically public, but there's not much there for most people unless you're really excited about literary notes I'm saving so I don't lose them or Exalted. I knew I wanted a location to store stuff I've done and stuff I'm working on, but I hadn't ironed out exactly what I wanted it to do. I still haven't ironed out what kind of structure and layout I want for it, because I'm still incredibly dissatisfied, but I've worked out that I value that space primarily as a kind of online workbench. I'm dick at making something look nice, and I'm more interested in a layout that takes me where I want to go in as few clicks as possible in the most intuitive way (for me) possible, with the cleanest, non-obfuscating design possible. So, it'll remain public if you're the kind of person who wants to see exactly what it is that I do in my spare time, but hopefully the layout will continue to make it easy for myself to access my work.

If this sounds really self-indulgent, it really is. I'm moving away from imagining any of this with any kind of commercial application and towards viewing it as a purely personal project space, with academics being a thing when it becomes more of a concrete thing in my own life.

Right now, I have three personal projects that I'm looking at that are all intertwined both in mechanical and conceptual headspace, since they're all Exalted projects. I don't really care if Exalted is the most popular game - it's got some love, since the Kickstarter absolutely blew up - but I love some of the ideas written into it, and I unapologetically will continue to write fan stuff for it. I just went back to RPG.net after a long (unannounced) hiatus, and there are a lot of people that don't care for the exception-based design format. Well, I love it. I love the mechanical-playing card-like feel of Charms and I like mechanically heavy character design, but I also feel like it needs a major overhaul. I also still feel like I trust the design team to work on that in their own way, but they're not using the nWoD system and I love the nWoD system, while feeling like it can be reasonably used to facilitate a better overall streamlined mechanic for Exalted.

I wasn't nuts about GMC, but it seems like that's my own cross to shoulder. While I can do whatever I want in the design space I choose, for some reason working in nWoD doesn't seem as weirdly niche as resolutely fighting the GMC update and doing all new mechanical developments in the pre-GMC system.

So, I'm taking a new look on my Synod project because I'm reasonably sure that nothing's going to come of that proposal after the small discussion I had with hatewheel, like, 9 months ago. I'll probably wait until Exalted 3 is released to do any more mechanical work on it, even though it's exceptionally tempting to begin work from a nWoD standpoint. (If the other projects make it significantly far and I feel like I'm doing okay on progress, I might. That's clearly a long shot.) Nexalted and Brent's WoD Exalted projects will get dusted off. They're conceptually close enough that the base mechanical representation will pretty much only need to be done once.  
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 5th, 2013 05:41 pm)
I know I've been pretty quiet this month. Everything's fine. Probably better than normal, actually. I haven't been writing here because I've been writing in the paper journal and while I make it a point to write daily, I usually only take the time to write in one of the two places.There might be something in the paper edition you'd find interesting, but probably not.

The holiday season is always busy for me. I like Halloween (but didn't do anything, sadly) and Thanksgiving isn't too bad, but Black Friday is an abomination and I don't like the Christmas season at all. I don't go to stores much and I really haven't even had the scratch to go out very often. Even though the latter bit's changing since our finances have improved, except for the harsher work conditions and thankfully longer hours, I don't see too much of Christmas. Others tell me the stores are already be-decked with tinsel and candy canes.

What I like: house parties, winter and fall drinks, popular winter and fall foods, coffee and tea always being appropriate. What I don't like: social obligations, capitalism, snow. So, now you know.

So, stuff I've done.

I failed to improve on the taste of Frank's Bourbon Furnace. I made a syrup of brown sugar and steeped cinnamon sticks, and it's too sweet. The cinnamon doesn't seep through enough. I shouldn't have used brown sugar, even though the taste is pretty good. White or natural sugar probably would have been the better bet, and adding more cinnamon sticks should have done it. I don't know if I mentioned it here, but it's really just a mix of bourbon and apple cider, with cinnamon and maybe nutmeg. The problem I'm trying to dodge is the issue of sediment on glasses. After a few, you really don't care, but it's frustrating the morning after.

I could also just buy cinnamon syrup, but that's not any fun. We had guests over recently and they brought over a Penzy's sugar and cinnamon mix that was delicious, and it was nice to bring out a bottle of syrup I made. Plus, making simple syrup is pretty much the easiest thing there is. It's anywhere from 1 to 2 parts of a sugar you want per 1 part water, brought to a boil until sugar is totally dissolved, allowed to cool enough, than bottle. Don't buy simple syrup, for gods sake. It's literally just sugar water.

There was some fiction I wrote for Katie that won't ever see the light of day. I mean, I'll still edit it in a week, it was just written especially for Katie, so. I don't really trust my fiction writing skills anymore, but it's November and that's when all of the super lame kids are writing their super lame fiction. Don't mind me, I'm just jealous since I've never finished a NaNo. There's no question that NaNo generates a large amount of really awful prose, though. I've never been good at writing like that, either, though. For me, I'm just taking November aside to write as much as I can. Katie asked me to write two things way back when and I agreed - probably because I was drinking. One was anything about Cowboy Bebop and the other was something from Scott Pilgrim. I did the Pilgrim thing. I feel okay about writing something about Cowboy Bebop. I don't really write fan fiction. It's not really my bag. But I mean, what the hell. If you can't do it for our spouse, who will you agree to write for, right?

I've had some trouble getting my shit together for running Exalted and Pathfinder. I want to run both, but Exalted is really questionable right now, just because the group is having a really hard time getting together. Times are very busy for Jenna, who's doing the grad student thing and Brent's wife is really, unfortunately ill. We're all generically adult busy, too. Shit is postponed. We're not doing Burning Wheel or the planned podcast, either. Not yet, anyhow.

We're in the middle of painting a side room, which will match the bathroom. Hopefully, we'll get to the hallway and bedroom, then the living room and kitchen. We don't have a lot of money for redoing the house, but since things are improving and paint is cheap, it's a big morale boost. 
I feel like I've been talking too much, recently, and crowding everyone else out on LiveJournal - I don't know how talkative the rest of your friends are, though. But, well, I've been brainstorming for future games and working towards the one that I've got going now. The one I'm running I keep putting off, but it's on the to-do list and I can't actually start anything new that's fun without knocking that thing down for good, so it's inevitable.

The project names are obviously just me screwing around before I come up with real campaign names. I've wanted to run games for a group for a while, partially because the pressure from multiple people is cumulative and gets me off my ass and partially because I miss multiple person collaboration at a table (real or virtual). Deep Thought is the city-wide D&D game, and the deal with that is simply that the idea is too much fun for me not to try to tackle at all. Uneasy Sunrise is my hopeful plans for an Exalted game, which may end up being run over Skype.

I got an email from the Kickstarter for the Exalted 3e project that, even though the schedule shows Exalted being released in October, it's not likely to actually happen because the Charms still need work. I'm willing to wait for a good book. The problem with Exalted is that I have only the meanest idea of where I'm going on that. I have some Infernals in the works, and that's going to be iffy because there isn't going to be an Infernals book and I'm going to need to see how much legwork I'll need to do with the support offered to me right out of the box. I have some Wyld Hunt ideas, some ronin Dragon-Blooded, and some home-brew stuff that I've never seen support for in earlier editions that I've already mentioned. (I had e-mailed the Exalted team about that just before and just after the news about 3rd Ed and new Exalt types, and none of them are what I had proposed either, which means that I may or may not get an e-mail in the far future. But probably not.) My project notes for Exalted is literally just a list of things that could be in a game. I could always run 2.5...

Deep Thought is a lot of work. I have no idea at all when something like that is going to be ready for prime time. I don't think I've said much about it here - I haven't talked about my love and hard work with D&D from 2nd Ed. on up until now for quite a long time. If anything, surely I just dropped it out here as a vague idea and went on my way, but plenty of my friends have heard all about it in person. The idea that someone has stumbled onto a mega-dungeon is not a new one, but I've never been much for simple dungeons-for-dungeons sake.

I had, for a long time, been interested in this idea of a D&D game that held to the rules really scrupulously. Like, on how to find new spells or research them, use of downtime, encumberance and movement rates, spell components, stuff like that. I don't think I've ever played a game - even a one shot - where we used all those rules. Back in the past, they always seemed like a headache. My friends don't even particularly care for rules in a general sort of way and D&D has always been at the root of that. But I found them interesting; how much does the play experience change when you're using this stuff? What if there's an actual dungeon-like thing, or you're in the field for an extended amount of time?

So I wondered, what if, instead of a normal dungeon, the characters are raiding a ruined, now-mostly-underground arcology? The prizes dredged up aren't just gold and gems (which would still weigh plenty) but trinkets and items long forgotten. Ancient bottles of intact wine, books and journals - not items of power but items of scholarly worth, art objects and old pottery, children's toys and weapons both mundane and bearing unusual enchantments? How much do you keep for yourself and how much do you try to sell and find a buyer for? Which of this stuff is actually priceless and which of it is just old junk? Instead of traps, there are environmental issues that are trap-like (and also, sometimes, still traps) - weak ground, rock falls, dangerous walls, unseen pits that go stories.

The PCs would come from different parts of the kingdom - the little town on the edge of the empire becomes a boom town, like if there were a gold rush. The PCs get in early and rent rooms, but gradually come to be almost like minor nobility. Crime comes to the town. Claim jumpers wait outside the entrance for exhausted arcology raiders to come up for air. People from home send aid or ask for money. There's a civil war brewing in the capitol. The game would be patterned around four different seasons, as they plan their expedition - planning and laying in supplies, actual raiding, finding buyers and determining worth (dealing with the town's issues), and dealing with circumstances from home.

I'll probably be moving to Pathfinder to run that one, though, providing I can get it off the ground. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Jul. 16th, 2013 09:59 am)
Just a quick update to help me focus on what I'm doing today and this weeks highlights.

Last week was terrible. Everything on the news was bad and I had a hard time personally. I'm just working on moving forward and not getting fixated on shit I can't do anything about. Cantown was a success, Katie had fun at the convention, and Katie's currently going in for the job interview at US Bank for a position whose job description is basically "help people stop from getting foreclosed on", which pays something like 32k a year. I finished the books I was reading, but I didn't realize the library closed early on Mondays (of all days), so I'm a day late and I'm going to renew one to take notes with and turn in the other. I also finished my 6 books for the summer reading club, which means I'm entered 6 times for a drawing for 50 bucks, I guess? My next books are Gaiman's "Ocean at the End of the Lane" which promises to be fairly quick and Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse 5" which I have actually never read.

So, good.

I'm going to do the WIR for a combination of the WoD Core and "God-Machine" because it was asked of me and because I want to. I'm compulsive, so I feel the need to start from core before I get into Mage and Changeling which are the only two core books I actually own physically for WoD. There was a point when I felt the deal gained from buying pdf won out and it's fine for tablet readers, but because I want them on my bookshelf, I might eventually break down and buy them.

Other potential purchases include Dark Ages Vampire, Vampire: the Masquerade (1st Ed or Revised, I don't know), and Hunter : the Reckoning. Ostensibly for collection purposes, but also because I like reading them. Vampire: the Requiem might be a better game, but I don't actually know. I was never huge into Vampire, and I'm just now thinking of giving it a chance.

I found some notes for nWoD Exalted, so I'm going to take enter them onto the computer and try to tidy up my living situation which is getting better but, really, our house still looks like a huge wreck.   
When exalted, the character is provided a merit. All characters have an essence pool, but only some can really make use of it. Exalts are gifted with an expansion predicated on the type of exaltation they're gifted. I want them to be themed - their essence expands based off the theme of their exaltation and on principle. Solars will benefit more from higher virtues, lunars from willpower, and sidereals from base permanent essence rating, for example.

I jotted down some notes before feeling like my numbers were fairly arbitrary and that I might benefit, once again, from checking the editions that preceded this one. I checked each of the core books I own specifically before simply finding this :


The numbers line up. Anyway, 2nd Ed. is pretty arbitrary. The link gives us the maximum possible pools, which are fairly substantial at a character's end game. But why are sidereal personal pools so truncated vs. starting lunar pools? What's the reason for the wonky Willpower/Virtue/Essence multiplication discrepancies? Why do mortals get higher personal essence pools than dragons-blooded?

I didn't get a response from RPG.net yet, so I probably won't get an answer from anyone there. My guess is the answer is 'no particular reason'.

In a way, that's nice. I don't have any particular rational to deal with. The basic essence pool math will be the same for everyone. The essence chain will still be solars, other celestials, terrestrials, mortals if it's easily managed. Willpower is really easy to bump vs. permanent essence, though, and the chart on the link clearly shows that Lunars would have an easier time at character creation while Sidereals pull ahead by 10 motes at the very end because the multiplication on the permanent Essence is 2 higher than the lunar, but in terms of most games the player is likely to actually play, Sidereals are fairly crippled on their essence reserves.

I'm not 100% sure how to go about dealing with that. 
I dropped some projects I didn't particularly like or figured weren't particularly worthwhile, which really only left me with the ones that refused to die or ones I actually need to consider getting done. I really figured I'd drop WoD Exalted, but since I actually want to see it in existence and Onyx Path has gone pretty firmly on record as saying they're not going to approach Exalted from the WoD core angle, if I don't do it, I'm not sure anyone actually will. Not to mention Brent's variant WoD cosmology, which would probably use the same mechanical skeleton.

I'm fairly close to actually knocking out Charms, and I've got a lot of notes about what direction I want them to go in, but I'm keeping my eye on two things - base mechanics that get really unruly at higher levels and base mechanics that make mortals interesting and fun to play. The objective is a somewhat more modest Exalt and, really, a more modest world, mechanically speaking. If you have Yozis on one end of the power spectrum and mortals on the other, but want them represented in the same system, the overall curve is going to be more shallow, but it'll definitely be there. Charms and Merits are the core parts of that, I think, but it's still largely a base 1-5 system.

Mortals are built a lot like they are in WoD core, with the Attributes being the same.
The skills are listed as :
Archery, Brawl, Melee, Athletics, Awareness, Larceny, Expression, Presence, Drive,
Resistance, Survival, Bureaucracy, Socialize, Lore, Medicine, Thrown, Stealth,
Animal Ken,War, Dodge
Craft : Air, Earth, Wood, Fire, Water

Craft is an ability, but it's divided into 5. I wanted to just make it a scaling merit, but that's close enough to a merit in practical terms to make it a skill, plus, this makes it easier to roll.

Many of the base Merits from the WoD core book are directly applicable at their price rankings. My expectations are that mortal characters will rely heavily on Merit-based tricks and edges - they don't really make up ground on Charms, but they're readily available, and they'll shore them up with whatever occultism or martial arts skills they're able to accrue. My history in WoD, but new and classic, is that supernatural characters lean much more heavily on their innate powers and don't really feel the need to stack up on comparatively weak merits.

The exception is the super-specialist. Rather than branch out into other areas, the focused occultist or warrior tends to double down by purchasing whatever edge they can find that improves their abilities in their chosen field. In this way, you get a little bit of divergence from different super-focused characters.

Other than the normal merits, there's the Occultism Merit that allows access to Sorcery, Necromancy, and Astrology, various Martial Arts initiations and styles therein. Let's not forget specialty Crafting merits, of which there's a fairly sizable list at this point.

Exaltation is achieved mechanically by applying an Exaltation major template to an existing character. In terms of either/or abilities, it would overwrite minor templates like Wyld mutants, half-castes, and God-Blooded, rendering obsolete or otherwise shredding the flows of essence that made their powers work in the first place, replacing them with comparatively more potent Charms of the Exalt. Martial Arts and Sorcery initiations are otherwise unaffected  because Exalts tend to buy those up too.

The Player's Handbook for Exalted 1st Ed. had a number of Merits that you could purchase that mimicked baseline Exalted traits, like immunity to disease, healing, essence channeling, and other stuff. As my way of making things consistent  instead of making these unstated benefits, Exalts will just be gifted with them upon Exaltation. Like the exp. that's lost from being a minor template character that's suddenly gifted with a major template, it's up to the ST and playgroup to determine if the exp. spent on the merits that would have been provided for free to be refunded or simply lost, as neither the World of Darkness nor Creation are particularly fair.

A lot of this probably seems like it would be obvious in retrospect, but that's pretty much just the results of a few hours of consideration. The skill list, though, took a really long time to hash out. It probably wouldn't have taken so long if I had just made it up from scratch instead of trying to reprise as much of Exalted's as possible. I don't actually have a character sheet written up, but at least I know what's on it.
A lot of this talking may eventually roll over to a place like RPG.net for the wider public's opinion, when it's coherent enough. The mechanical posts - the stuff about Martial Arts or Crafts as a Merit (and Crafts isn't something I've totally hashed out yet) is likely stuff we're going to see modified in 3 because they've been problems forever. I try to take it one segment or concept at a time, but obviously those segments are even smaller then just "Martial Arts" or "abilities as Merits".
Under the cut, again. I'll get hung up on something else soon enough, everyone.  )

I still have a whole lot on my plate, and there's nothing to do about it really except plug away at the list when I've got time and refrain from adding new stuff. Of course, I never refrain. So it goes. 

I just finished going through Masters of Jade, which had arrived in dead tree format not too long ago. It wasn't a particularly long read and the price was right - I felt that it was a very good read and had lots of good ideas for running a Guild focused game, mortals in Creation, information on organizations and how they're built; it is basically a very good value.

Depending on how much you follow RPG.net, sidebars in new releases you may not have read, or Exalted in general, you may not have heard about the throw-away reference to a new type of Exalt called the 'Liminal'. Not much has been said and there certainly hasn't been a book announced, and the only present references to it are in the Masters of Jade book itself, where several are actually named. They appear to be an exalt-of-the-dead, meaning that design space continues to be populated by different ideas. But the Underworld is almost as large as Creation, if not as large, which means there's probably room for a few of them. 

I don't think this means an end of my (scant and getting scanter) work on the Synodic Exalts because, first, they're a fan creation anyway so I don't actually have to worry too much about their place in the setting and second, well, there's really nothing on Liminals yet and Abyssals being what they are, Synods also shouldn't even exist in the first place. As written, they technically don't, since they actually exist only as a possibility of/for the Maidens; they're literally an unrealized potential statted up, even in my headcanon, with a possible way they might come in to existence should you ever decide you wanted them. 

In any case, ever since word was breathed of an edition 2.5 for Exalted, I've held off on writing up too many mechanics for my Charm ideas. I think this was wise, and I've downloaded the errata for free from DriveThruRPG. Because it didn't come with a print option, I'll have to make do. Much of the pdf is concerned with individual Charms, but the errata covers things like DV caps, allows all Combos for free, and re-makes a lot of magical material bonuses and weapon stats so that soak is more viable and spamming perfect defenses really isn't feasible. I haven't internalized the rules yet, but they seem reasonable. The only problem with the way it's written at the moment is that you basically need the errata next to your book when writing up your character meaning that you either want the book and the pdf that you're using at a desk somewhere or that you need to print off your new pdf rules when cribbing your character. 

I'll spare you my potential thoughts on errata at the table for the group I've played with in the past. Let me put it this way - I had a 3 month argument on the defend other action during our Abyssal game where I was subsequently mocked for a year for thinking that one existed because it was in an errata pdf that our ST hadn't seen, so it was decided that it was impossible to defend others except with stunts that I wasn't allowed to do. We also didn't use the Sidereal errata because our ST thought that the Sids were just fine as they were. If you know anything on the game, then meditate on that. This is the same group that, when I mentioned how extras were dealt with in the very first session of our Sidereal game, even when I pointed out the text in the book, I was derided but when a bunch of extras showed up in the very last game (actually, the ghosts of the very first extras for a very satisfying full-circle), the same ST excitedly told us the rules he had discovered for how to fight extras.

Look, it's something to consider. I'll certainly be using it in the future of games I run but whatever, you know?

So, this is just another post where I go on and on about Exalted. I'm sorry. This is my fandom and I love rpgs, you guys. Anyhow, I've got an awful lot to go do, I just wanted to update about one of the lighter things I'm up do recently while I'm sitting around in the nice weather at home. I'm sure I'll be back in a while to post about stuff that's frustrating and heavy, right?
atolnon: (Default)
( Feb. 23rd, 2012 03:22 pm)
I'd finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy about a week ago and then just kind of sat on it. My first thoughts as I was going through it was that it was fun, and fairly tightly written, but not particularly sophisticated (and it's deliberetly YA, and it's generally an action oriented book, so I don't really deduct points for it). The subsequent books were progressively weaker until I honestly wished that Mockingjay hadn't actually been written. They'll get their own post complete with spoiler cuts for those of you who are interested.

I've moved on to doing a sparse amount of Exalted Charms for the Synodic splat I've been whiling away my spare slivers of time with when I have them. Mostly lunch hours, really, so it's certainly not going quickly. It is going, though, which is a bit of a surprise to be entirely frank with you. There are 24 Charm sets and 24 constellations and colleges, so I haven't had to strain myself too hard. Whenever something comes to mind, I spend a little time fleshing it out and when it seems passible, I post and do some perfuntory formatting so that I can actually read it on my Google doc.

The more glamorous sets like Martial Arts, Melee, and Archery haven't really appealed to me all that much so far. I've done some sparse work on the Synodic Hero Style, dubbed Inauspicious Fallen Maiden Style. I've written up some Medicine Charms and I've done a little work on the Larceny Charms. The constellation correllation for Medicine is The Maimed, so the abilities have taken on a quick and brutal, triage-like feel that unnaturally sustains life metaphorically or literally - including an alternate take on Smooth Transition. Larceny's correllation is The Judge, so the Charmset generally revolves around re-appropriation.

For your amusement, then, here are some of the Charm names for these trees.   
Larceny : Breath Confiscation Method, Inescapable Forclosure Style
Martial Arts : Realization of Inevitability, In Persuit of Fate, Passion of Remembered Virtues, Hand of the Red Maiden
Medicine : Easing the Transition, Fateful Amputation Method, Gauging the Lifeline
Occult : Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, Shadowlands Circle Necromancy, Labyrinth Circle Necromancy

I feel pretty creative even if I've been terribly exhausted lately. I get enough sleep, so it's really more emotional/situational. The product, I suppose, of feeling like I'm not really in control of my fate. An ironic thing to consider as I'm writing up the charms of those fate had initially put up for the chopping block.

Oh,  PS. Hey Brent, do you have the google doc for the Charms too? If you'd tell me what your opinions/mechanical considerations were, that'd be nice.
atolnon: (Default)
( Feb. 15th, 2012 02:34 pm)
I'm pretty close to wrapping up Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and so I guess I'll talk about it in conjunction with probably Battle Royale. That's a little tricky because Katie reads this sometimes and hasn't read BR yet, so I guess spoiler blocks are in my future. Either that, or I keep my big yap shut. There are things to spoil in Battle Royale even though the premise (class goes in, violence, then one person is supposed to come out) doesn't allow for too much variation.

Expectations in literature are another thing that I've been thinking about in conjunction with those above works.

I know that it would by stretching it to say that the people that are actually interested in the Exalted stuff I post number in more then the single digits, but as a mental excercise, it's a lot of fun for me and I suppose that there's always the chance that it results in something playable (as unlikely as that probably is). I know that Brent's interested, so I'll go ahead and keep putting it up. The document I'm working in right now is here :  Synodic Constellations
I'm having trouble getting my act together, but I'm gradually getting better about it. Because my time tends to be so limited, I really have to prioritize my tasks accordingly and if I need to take some time to relax in the evening, then I just need to take it and stop beating myself up over it. The big three tasks for both Katie and I are writing consistantly, setting goals for cleaning and reorganizing, and getting into a habit of physical excercise. Our status on these things is alright, but neither of us are making the headway we want and it's clear that if we do, then we'll have to redouble our efforts.

I've had this extended project for a while; something that's really just been sitting around in the back of my head that I'd found compelling for the Exalted setting. There are Abyssals,  the corrupted, necrotic Solar counterparts, that are derping around the setting being generally violent or angsty at turns. I want to like these guys a lot more then I do, but the basic modus is similar in that you cram a Solar or a captured Solar exaltation into an evil box and it pops out gothy and tasting of (presumably) either blood or licorice depending on what theme you've selected.

While I'm sure that there's some kind of in game Solar-only specification on this gig, I had kind of wondered what would happen if you popped a Sidereal in there. Sure, it's exceedingly unlikely, but bear with me. I've got this idea with Kejack and ghosts and shit so just assume it happens and something results besides a crabby Sidereal with a Neverborn headache. 

I named the resulting hypothetical result the Synodic Exalts because they're a measurement of the stars that lies in continual conjunction with the Sidereal's. There are stars in the underworld that fortell ominous and different fates using unfamiliar constellations. Unnamed ghosts constructed the baroque and ultimately meaningless Calendar of Setesh whose precise movements give a meaning to the dead that it, in itself, does not have. Sidereals do not influence the underworld and the fate of Creation does not touch it easily, but leave it to the hubris of an elder Star Child to attempt to extend the reach of his breathern using a gambit desperate and inauspicious enough to tempt a Neverborn.

The constellations of the underworld to not intentionally subvert or pose an antithesis to the constellations of Creation, but they are different and they are related in their own uncanny way. They still fall, as far as I've designed so far, under the decending auspice of each Maiden.

Under Journeys, The Oarsman, The Raiton, The Reef, The Bandit, and The Gale
Under Serenity, The Crucible, The Mourner, The Celebrant, The Vulture, and The Ruin
Under Battles, The Standard Bearer, The Empty Throne, The Dart, The Mantle, and The Legionnare
Under Secrets, The Judge, The Lock, The Reveler, The Necromancer, and The Cache
Under Endings, The Maimed, The Cat, The Furrow, The Pyre, and The Hilt

Some of these are particularly important, I suppose. The Reveler, for example, is the converse to The Mask and represents a disguise that hides nothing and corresponds to assuming an identity that people around you an see through but are compelled to respect. The Necromancer represents many of the same things as The Sorcerer and is used in much the same way. Ghosts are a different type of creature then Gods and Elementals are, and their courts act differently. I kind of look foward to getting into it, but that just means that you're going to hear more Exalted crap in the near future if I do.

As for me, I'm tired, at work, and my lunch is up. I look foward to writing stuff here soon, if only to push my previous whining off my main journal page and off of yours, too. ; ]
What do you do if you love your character but don't like the game they're in? I deal with that pretty often - often enough that you hear about it, too. When I was talking to Brent, another player and myself were asked by all assembled why I continued to play even though at this point, all I had were complaints. I know that it's personal, is why. Because I said I'd sit down and if I leave, it'll be taken as personal slight, and I just don't need that on my plate. At this point, I'm not even sure if it'd be wrong to say it was personal, because my ire is becoming so. But the game is winding down, I like the other players and the character dynamics, and I like playing my character - or at least I used to, before role playing at all had been considered worse then a waste of our ST's time.

This is what happens when, intentionally or not, the gaming environment turns into what's basically an abusive relationship. 

How does that happen? 

Number One : Make it personal. Players who have questions, reservations, or problems with something in the game have a problem with you. If they don't like the game, they don't like you. Questioning a ruling or pointing out a rule is undermining your authority. 

Why Does This Suck? : This is one of the big ones. If everyone is always having a good time, then there doesn't appear to be a problem. In fact, it may never appear that there's a problem, but what's happening is if people know that you'll take it personally if they speak up about something they're not happy with, they may just not say anything at all and all that resentment tends to fester. 

How to tell if it's happening. : Do you have arguments when there's a disagreement about gaming in general? Do you actually get mad? Is there a right answer for every question? Then there's a pretty good chance you're taking criticism a little too personally. Alternatively, if nobody ever has any problems or issues at all, or nobody ever talks about your game afterwards, there's a good change they're afraid to talk to you about it or feel it's not worth the trouble. If, when someone does, it becomes a huge deal that takes up a lot of time, it may not be just the player. I mean, it might. You should ask the other players for their honest opinion about you, and ask what the problem players beef is.

How do we fix it? : Take a step back. Take a really good look at your player dynamics. Are they quiet a lot? If there's a discussion, and you weigh in, do they ever voice an opinion? How do you actually feel? What happens if someone wants to break out a rule book and double check something? Do you feel offended or slighted? Once this starts, it can be difficult for players to trust you again. If you suspect this is the case, try to listen to their opinions and be fair. It's not all about you - they're here to have fun, too. If there's a problem with a ruling, maybe ask the group what they feel is fair in general. You might get a good compromise or consensus.

Number Two : You're the ST/GM/DM and you're pretty miserable.

Why does this suck? : Well, you're unhappy. You should be having a good time, too. And besides, an unhappy ST makes for unhappy players. Work gets deferred, the game might be half-assed, or you can take it out on your players in other ways. 

How to tell if it's happening? : Are you tired before you're about to run? Do you often put off making the game in order to do other stuff? Do you resent your players for asking you to run? Do you feel too harried, or feel like your players are running you through the ringer? You could probably be getting more out of this.

How do we fix it? : Well, lots of things can make you frustrated. For me when I was running Mage, it was a number of things, and I wasn't honest with myself about it for a while and eventually ended up resenting some of my players. So, first of all, if you're not excited about running for whatever reason, step back and be honest with yourself. Are you running too often? You may need more time to come up with a game and still have time for other things in your life. Maybe spread the sessions out a little. Did the game turn into something that you didn't expect? The game my players wanted to play wasn't the game I wanted to run, and in the end, I stopped doing anything at all. You might need to talk to your players and see if you can make compromises in the game style - occasionally run some themes and then others. In the end, if you can't be happy running the game, you might need to step down. 

Number Three : You're railroading.

Why does this suck? : It depends, to be honest. Some players are perfectly happy going from plot point to plot point. As I've heard it said, sometimes a railroad is fine if the landscape is great and the accouterments aboard the train are pleasant. The harder you stick to the railroad, though, the less agency your players have, and that can be frustrating. If they're a bunch of nuclear powered murder machines with a solar powered spaceship, for example, and you get cross when they fight back against some muggers you wrote into the script, they're probably going to be pretty befuddled. 

How to tell if it's happening. : Look at your game. If your players do something you don't expect, what do you do? It takes a lot more effort to run a game that might potentially go off the rails, so if you don't have anything planned, do you try to put them back on? Does it get a little ridiculous? Do you get frustrated when players don't take your plot hooks or try to do something you didn't expect? If you chew out your players for going off topic, spending time role-playing, or trying to get them 'on task', you might be railroading them. 

How do we prevent it or fix it? : Hard work. First, ask your players what they want to do a little ahead of time. Like, what kind of game they're interested in and what their characters would intend on doing. You can fill in empty spots of your game that way, so you're not caught as off guard. Have some pre-generated characters written up in broad templates so that they can take a role in the story should you need someone on short notice. Be clear about what kind of game you'd like to be running and make sure everyone's on board in the beginning so you're not trying to force one game while players obliviously go in the direction they'd prefer, and be willing to flesh out your game environment a little ahead of time so there's actually terrain to walk around in. 

Many players are perfectly happy to take ST cues about which direction to go in, as long as it seems interesting and fun. If you and they are on the same page before things ever start, then you're already going in the right direction. Instead of a railroad, try to imagine it as a highway with an off road vehicle. It might get rough once you're off the well-paved road, but at least there's somewhere to drive and the players are equipped to deal with it. 

Now, as for my character, I still don't know. I'm not nuts about the story the ST wrote but I want to do something for my PC where I can explore her character a little bit. I wanted a little more freedom in story and I didn't get it. Well, it's actually a joke in our group how little I actually get to play, even, so you might imagine how I feel but it's gotten to the point where the whole group's staring off into space while we're spoken at. I know nobody cares about my PC, but I might go ahead and write some stuff for her just so that I can retire her with a little bit of dignity.

atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 11th, 2011 01:20 pm)
There's never enough time even if you're extremely diligent and on the ball so I guess it's easy to imagine how I would be looking at my short term to-do list and still notice that I'm going to come up lacking something by the end of the day. I mean, I feel like that every day. I'm just saying there's a good reason for it.

I did end up finishing Dragon Age II. It's better then Dragon Age : Origins, which was a fine game in its own right, but it's not without its own quirks, problems, and attendant issues. I'd prefer to talk about that tomorrow in its own separate post.

Obviously, you're still seeing the Occupy stuff on the news, the internet, or really anywhere you opt to look. Step one, if you'd have asked me, is to get your voice hear. Occupy the media, if you will. You can't really even begin to start speaking until you get someones attention. As far as that goes, I think there has already been a lot of people speaking to the accusations that the Occupy groups are unclear or simply have nothing substantial to say, but other rebukes to that aside, you're really not going to get thousands of people across the nation, not to mention the globe, without having - if not one specific issue - a broad base of issues that fall under a general heading of 'inequality'. I don't know if I have a lot to say about it specifically, anymore, except to continue to voice my support, but I'll let you know if something concrete comes up.

Briefly, our Exalted game continues to run. Unlike Occupy, I have a lot to say about this, but I'm trying to determine if any of it is actually new and if any of it is actually useful. One thing I can say in definite terms is that one of the problems I've mentioned in the past, which I've mentally dubbed 'The Tyranny of an Agenda' continues to dominate the game. We're in such a rush to get 'through the game' that a lot of the individual bits are actually just washed out.

By way of example, there was a zombie uprising in a town spread by illness. We actually saved villagers in a montage of all the fucking things and didn't roll any dice at all in order to do it. I rolled to pilot our airship and actually had our ST turn to look at me and go, "What are you doing?"
"Rolling to see how well you pilot the airship."
"There's no need." and then he told us what we did to rescue the few survivors who we unceremoniously dumped into an adjacent field. The only attention they received was the coin I insisted I give them - an act that was not just ignored by the ST, but by our entire group. We then went to a show down with a characters old mentor where nothing happened but us receiving a part of a prophecy that showed us something our old characters had done several years ago in a plot point that had yet to occur in this game.

Result of a 5 hour game? Nothing happened at all. There was one dice roll that had any effect. Let me tell you that this was not a fun game. It wasn't a game at all. The end.

There, looks like you got a rant anyhow. I apologize, but I guess I needed to get that frustration off my chest. I literally could have not showed up and asked for a recap when we were done and had exactly as much of an effect on the proceedings. It feels like I'm playing the character in a JRPG who gets left on the airship while the others players do stuff and my guess is I feel like that because it is literally what happens every single game.
atolnon: (Default)
( Jul. 13th, 2011 12:54 pm)
Until the 28th, I'm probably going to be really busy at work. It's really cut in to what I can write, and so what I had in mind for the last several days has fled my mind. My roommate's out for this and next week, so no new Exalted games. I'm looking for work, getting back in to school, but other then that, not much is really occurring. Meanwhile, when I'm not doing that stuff, I just started playing Dragon Age 1, and I don't have much to say yet. I feel like my original assumption is probably going to be correct - a standard fantasy romp well-executed. However, I may have downplayed what a boon a really well-executed fantasy flagship could be.

You know me. I'm almost certain to be running my mouth about it sooner or later. In the meantime, I'll be going over some tangential thoughts that have been uselessly rebounding in my head for quite a while.

Killing in RPGs.

About a month ago, Panahon, a Sidereal focused on martial arts accidentally but rather brutally killed a dueling opponent. Until that moment, it was the only death by combat of an actual person. Our characters had kind of straddled the line and had been party to a few questionable activities, but this had been a first. I realized that it was the first real death in weeks in an actively played Exalted role-playing game.

Now, part of this has a lot to do with the style of the game. The other part is that we really get nothing for killing people. Out of character, there was some chuckling and some chagrin about the circumstances, but some pretty loaded terms got tossed around. 'Murder'. 'Killing'. But  also, 'accident', 'mistake', and 'remorse'.

It had been a setup. My character was a martial arts focused person, in general. The martial arts world, the concept of honor and success, and the desire to rebuild the school her sifu had started were her driving desires. When this mortal walked up, with a status significantly higher then hers, confident, and as the champion of a small army, Panahon doens't think twice - she pulls out all the stops. After all is said and done, her unmodified dice pool  to attack is a significant 24. She can block any non-perfect material attack for 3 motes if she wants. She can increase her soak to something that the mortal would be forced to roll Essence against - no higher then three.

The mortal did everything perfectly. Panahon brutally slaughtered him in the first round of combat without even meaning to. She didn't pull her punch, and the mortal couldn't take it. He expired messily in front of her.

Creation is a brutal place. The mortal was a brutal guy without many morals or compunctions. He wouldn't have held back. Is it murder? Stopping to think about it, probably not - there was no intention to kill. But Panahon would be culpable. If not murder, then certainly manslaughter. The mortal never posed a realistic threat. She was guilt stricken, but carried on. Creation is a brutal place and it was an accident - but one she learned from.

The death of one person caused a lot of debate at the table. Interestingly, I almost immediately had the ST telling me how I needed to feel about the issue, making me feel like he had something in mind, too. Remorse? Maybe.

How many creatures do we kill in D&D? When we kills scores, are we monsters, or is it a different kind of world? Or maybe it's too close to say. Those goblins might be a real threat where a single mortal never had a chance against a demigod.

However, something else to consider. Later on in the game, we met with Nazri - an Essence 7* Sidereal, a sorcerer*, a martial artist who had mastered at least one Sidereal style*, head of a major political convention, and someone who at the very least, had a lot of experience under his belt. He went to a dual with a modestly powerful god of a terrestrial court, someone whose specialty wasn't even combat.

It was an ambush. The spirit was actually an enormously powerful combatant - a shape-shifting Exalt with a thousand years even on the elder Sidereal. Nazri was immediately killed because he didn't take the fight seriously enough. So now what are we supposed to do?

* Essence runs from 1-10. 2's starting, 3's a little bit of experience, and 5 is considered the peak of power for someone within a century of life. 7 is considerable. Sorcery is a world changing power, and Sidereal martial arts are the pinnacle of enlightened combat powers for that type of fighting. He's a world-wide mover and shaker.


atolnon: (Default)


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