atolnon: (Default)
( Mar. 30th, 2011 02:42 pm)
Mage is dead. Long live Mage.

So that's done, then. You got to hear all the complaining, and probably weren't there for all the stuff that went right, and for that I apologize. It definitely wasn't a perfect campaign. It wasn't even the campaign that I initially set out to run. But it was the campaign we played and I ran for the better part of a year of which the theme became, I guess, personal growth and how it's really not the same as personal power. 

It was pretty ok.

I often have a temptation with games to return, both as an ST and as a player, and I'm perfectly content to leave this game where it's ended. There's nowhere else to go. The PCs are currently orbiting the realm of moderately-powered super heroes who now accelerate time, cause the air to burn at a whim, fly, make paper strong as steel, and conjure impenetrable walls from shadow-stuff with few, if any, repercussions.

That's cool. They also trashed my arch-mage nemesis in two rounds with automatic fire. There's a reason why the supernatural fears the teeming masses of humanity, and it ain't because they won't clap to save Tinkerbell so much as being capable of unleashing a torrent of hot lead at very high velocities. The Masquerade isn't there for the romance, ladies and gents.

It's all Sidereals from here on out. That, and our awesome Skype Burning Wheel game you never see me talk about.
If I'm going to be honest, I don't really want to run Mage tonight. I am, generally, not sure I really want to run it at all at this point. It hasn't been going badly. Quite the contrary, in fact. But there are a few elements in the way the sessions come out that kind limit my enjoyment of the game. 

There's a saying that a plan never survives first contact. I've definitely seen that borne out in my plans for the game. I really wanted a sprawling city, and in my head, it's there. Every now and then, I'm able to insert a new place or new environment, but for the most part, any new location is pretty much immediately destroyed - in many cases, without further investigation. I got away with exactly one mysterious location at the very beginning of the story. The game itself mostly takes place in roughly the same three or four locations, kind of like my whole life right at the moment incidentally.

What'd I learn from this? Well, number one is that PCs need somewhere to call home. In this case, I made a small mistake in giving the PCs a place to easily draw mana in the form of a demense. There wasn't really supposed to be a 6th demense in the city - not even a weak one like the fortified warehouse that the PCs lay their head in, but I didn't see the harm and I gave it to 'em. Well, that pretty much makes the manses the 5 NPC cabals have moot. The PCs don't have to curry favor to get mana, so they don't.

Unlike some games, equipment is nice but not really needed. That means the NPCs I set up to function as suppliers for medicines, tools, equipment, weapons, and misc. other stuff are really extraneous as well. when one PC has magic better then any doctor and another can literally manufacturer enchanted weapons and armor, being able to buy hunting rifles at Wal-Mart under the table isn't particularly impressive.

These are all things that would be more useful in a lower-powered game. I was concerned that the players would balk at being schlubs in an environment with too many high-powered mages. Well, that's another problem. Frankly, I doled out exp like ridiculous trinkets early on, and the PCs predictably sank it into their awesome magic stats. Well, it's not so bad with 3 out of 5 of them, but I've literally got the Retired Anti-Social Marine playing, and his foil The Dude, If He Were A Ninja With Life 4.

This does create a scenerio where I have two nearly invincible bad-asses and three regular-ish people. It's not like those three are Zeppos, or anything, but it's genuinely frustrating to make a combat that can threaten Seraph the Obrimos or Dr Feelgood* the Thyrsus that won't accidentally annihilate the others just by being nearby.

So, what'd I learn from that? Well, I'm a guy that hates to say no. Honestly, I struggled with capping experience points earned from writing stories even when I had one or two people that would regularly churn out modestly good prose in exchange for experience points, no matter how paltry. And really, if I have a problem player, it's probably Seraph, and it's not really the players fault. This was all stuff I green-lighted. I tend to want to keep things short, kind of intense, and modestly powered. Mage is a game where you can make yourself fly or turn into a bear or turn corn into bees, or make glass into steel.

This is probably something I should have seen coming.

Nevertheless, they're all ridiculously powerful, so I'm going to introduce them to the Minister of the Gate tonight for the lulz.

* Yes, really. And it's awesome, thanks.
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 24th, 2010 12:37 pm)
While our friends in Seattle are complaining about the 2 inches of snow they got*, what I'm most thankful for at our Thanksgiving potluck at work is that it means I don't have to leave the building to get something to eat. What with the inconvenient freezing rain outside. It's not actually that bad, I just don't like it. But I always get a kick when the Puget Sound exhibits any symptoms of winter aside from frost on the windows in the morning, because it always sounds like they're going through the apocalypse up there.

We had the weekly Mage session yesterday, which was basically a filler or bridge episode when bits of several PC back story suddenly arise. It was short, and is basically leading up to a Halloween game, which is kind of amusing since we're skipping a week at a time or more between games. Running a game once a week often catches up with me at the worst times, and the web page doesn't get updated at all, because I'm torn between making new material and trying to log old material, and when that happens, actually being able to run a game wins.

Plus, updating a web page I don't actually have to update is tedious as hell.

I also made cookies which were soooooo disappointing. I guess they were ok. I just, I dunno. I can't stand behind those cookies.

Because the game ended early, Frank decided we all needed to watch Happy Feet, which I remembered thinking was cute and fun but, in actuality, seems to be a tedious morality tale involving a penguin with a distinct evolutionary disadvantage convincing YouTube to save arctic fish, or something. The pacing is pretty akin to something like A.I., in which a small robot and Jude Law try not to become irrelevant and then the movie literally becomes stuck in an ice block, in what feels like real time.

Seriously, Happy Feet is a hot mess. And it's not because I'm a jerk. Or at least, not just because I'm a jerk, because I want to like a movie about dancing penguins. I mean, I guess I don't really care about tap dancing, and I don't ever really think about penguins, but whatever. It's 2:15 when it could have been a 30 minute film short that didn't devolve into some idiotic message about overfishing the Antarctic continent, which is not something I even know if happens.

It's full of false end after false end, and blatantly tries to pull your heartstrings out in an obvious attempt to retain your attention. Pass.

* Which is adorable.
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 17th, 2010 12:57 pm)
Wednesday is always a little chancy for me, because Tuesday is game night, and it's really frustrating to go to bed an hour after I'm finished running a session while people have a merry time about 5 feet away in the other room. I feel like a little kid that got sent to bed when the adults decide it's time to watch R-rated movies and break into the rum.

Today's fine. No matter how put out I am in the morning, I'm usually up to speed by about noon. I'm out of the spotlight more then ever, having been moved to what's basically a box in the back of the room. This is something that I do not mind. My perspective is that I work in customer service, which is a nice way to say that I'm the kind of person you pay a quarter what you pay your valued employees to fix problems that can literally be solved within 5 minutes by the barely literate. This is a huge upgrade from other jobs, where my clientele were nearly as sharp as a Louisville Slugger, and about as much fun to repeatedly run into.

Another Mage game wrapped up. This time, there's an encounter with a banisher or, rather, the banisher encountered Dr Feelgood's fists. Dr Feelgood is a Thyrsus Adamantine Arrow with Life 4. This encounter literally lasted one action, which was the good doctor punching this guy from the Twilight, and that's it.

My favorite part was their acquisition of this guy, and having no idea what to do with him. Oops. I am way behind on updating my web page, and I basically am doing all the chores tonight. Blah.
atolnon: (Default)
( Oct. 22nd, 2010 02:46 pm)
Autumn is always the time I associate most strongly with my late high school years so, like it or not, so I often end up with flashbacks to sitting in a small, white room listening to downloaded music on an outdated PC and working on updating my primitive website while the trees slowly turn orange and yellow outside the window. It's also around this time that I start having trouble waking up, when the daylight through the window ceases to issue forth and the temperature drops.

Anyhow, what's on the plate? I'm trying to go virtual at work, because I've had more then enough of driving on 270 West. The hassle isn't worth the socialization. The advantages of working from home include a better diet and more comfortable environment, as well as increased access to things like my bank and lowered gas expenses. It's almost 100% win. My supervisor's got my name in.

I'm not running Mage next Tuesday. Too much generally going on, and too many people competing for time means that I'd have to dump what marginal social life I've got and spend most of my last week and days coming up onto Tuesday updating webpages, filling in Concilium social structures and actually writing the game. Which I like doing, but I don't need that to become everything that I do, though I have recieved some flak for it.

"We ran through everything I prepared." I explained.
"But hardly did anything last game!"
"That's because that was the last game, we were basically running on side notes and wrap-ups."

I write journal entries while I'm at work, but I write them in fractions and they require little overall concentration and almost never any research. I write them because they require little sustained attention. Mage and, for that matter, fiction or essays don't function the same way. I need to be able to concentrate for more then two minutes without being interrupted by the need to fix someone's Outlook.*

Reading Blame!, playing Persona 4, ect, et al. That is mostly it. And writing.

I've been playing Minecraft, which is hard to describe as a game. It certainly is an environment, where enjoyment comes primarily from emergent properties in the setting. I had spent some time in a few generated worlds, then settled on one where I was dumped on a beach and, very close by, are these massive spires that are held up - in some places - by a column only a single block wide. Obviously, real structural integrity isn't critical in a program where blocks, if removed from all other supporting structures, will literally float in the air, but it's an impressive enough site that it kept me there. I was able to find stone, coal, and sand easily and so just dug a whole in the nearest hill and used that as emergency residence. A few interesting things stemmed from this.

Boring thing #1 : My home is mostly comprised of dirt with a foundation of stone.
Irritating thing #1 : The monster known as a 'Creeper' spawns in high quantities near where I had chosen to reside randomly.
Irritating thing #2 : Creepers are basically creepy green suicide bombers. They get close to you and explode. This leads to a number of surprising deaths.
Interesting thing #1 : This leads to a home which is basically a war zone, and a crater-studded landscape.

In MineCraft, enemies come out at night and catch fire during the day, thus dying and ridding you of that potential problem. Even in the day, though, when I leave my hobbit hole, I take my blocky life in my hands. If I were playing Iron Man, where a death means you delete the world, I would have died so much I would have had to uninstall the game. I am dying constantly. This ties into something else. Partly for kicks and partly because of my need for stone blocks (in order to build my sky bridges), I tunneled deep into the earth in a stair step pattern. I eventually broke through into a cavern which was packed with monsters. Skeletons, zombies, slavering spiders and deadly creepers.

I had tunneled into a dungeon.

Monsters spawn at random in low light areas, but dungeons are particularly dangerous. The possess a fiery cage in the middle which cannot  be moved and which dramatically increases spawn rates. One can tell the presence of a dungeon by mossy cobblestone blocks which are, incidentally, able to be mined. This leads to :

Interesting thing #2 : Emergent dungeon crawl.

On paper, it sounds terribly boring, but the goal is to acquire materials with which to build. Caverns are the locations where veins of ore and coal are easiest to locate, and where water and lava are available for harvesting via iron bucket (resulting in obsidian, if utilized correctly). Basically, the best stuff is found in the most dangerous places. This creates a situation where you can either venture forward into the dark to quickly harvest rare and useful materials or you can carefully build yourself a preserve. Room by almost-non-nonsensical room created only to block off the dangerous, untamed caverns from your safe-if-haphazard, well-lit mines.

Some of these caves are huge in size and range in all three dimensions, creating situations where I've had zombies and creepers fall en masse from ceilings once I've been detected. The result? One of the best video game D&D experiences I've ever had with the best rationale for delving along with the best rationale for weird and unusual dungeon construction.

Meanwhile, in the world above, I've barely even started my sky bridge.

* A valid problem, but one that keeps me from focusing.

There's no way, really, to easily avoid late nights on Game Night. I mean, I do ok at avoiding things getting out of hand, but the next day's gonna be pretty tiring. I usually hit the sack at 11, and it was about 1:30 and I looked at the clock and said, " You guys have a great time, but I have got to sleep."

And so I did. Bam. Well rested. Or, actually, everyone kept drinking and got pretty loud. Louder. I'm basically incoherent for several minutes at a time when I've just been woken up, so imagine a scene where something falls over and makes a terribly loud noise and suddenly there's an exhausted Weston in the living room, standing there in his boxers interspersing his fervent request that you keep it down with a cross rant about the dangers of Paradox.

"Are you out here without pants, again, Weston?"
"Boxers are pants!"

I was more coherent the second time, when I remembered to put on some pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, where my message was, "I understand that it seems pretty late in the week. In fact, it feels like Friday. And I don't want to be a dick about this, but you guys gotta shut up." Luckily, they obliged my unreasonable request. And that is the story of why I'm sleepy today. It is as informative as it is heart-warming.

Buh. Around here, people are always buggin' me about Mage and writing stories and crap. Which is pretty great, but hard to keep up with. They're really pushing for a weekly game, and that is just so hard for me to do. I feel like everything is Mage lately. I guess if you are going to have a problem, having players that enjoy your game too much is an ok one to have.
atolnon: (Default)
( Oct. 6th, 2010 10:31 am)
I'm not feeling super-well, I've got a game today, and it's likely to be slow in the afternoon and people will be sent home. Based on these things, plus some other errands, if they offer a chance to go home early, I'll probably take it. Laundry, stamps, procurement of curry spices, these are all pretty critical things and I'm three days behind! Plus, the onset of this weather is doing unpleasant things to my throat.

The game today is set for 8, which is pretty late, but the games are pretty short. Two new players are joining, there's a resolution of the last games events, and the setup for some interaction between them and one of the major factions... the premise pretty much writes itself, with minimal need for me, but obviously I've got something set up. I need to double-check how abyssal intrusions are banished, but if there's one thing I want to demonstrate, it's that the local concilium takes the PC report very seriously.

I was thinking about the game as I went to bed, and had a couple of interesting, if slightly unnerving dreams.
I'm having major trouble writing anything worthwhile lately, and I guess this is my latest attempt. We'll see how it goes. I'm pretty much stuck at my desk all day when what I really want to be doing is taking a walk or going for a bike ride, or something. = /

Ran the first game of the Pymander, OR Mage game, which I've been thinking of as 'Episode 1 : Welcome to Pymander, OR.' I've really only got two players at the moment, which causes no real problems but may have me running a game with two primary characters and a host of people who only play when they're available. Since my intention is to include elements that are somewhat reminiscent of a console RPG in the vein of Persona and horror games like Fatal Frame, swapping party members may not be a bug, though, as long as we need to anyhow.

I asked for notes after the game, and got good reviews. The setup is always a little lame, but I feel like it worked, with a brief explanation of the city structure*, a visit with the one remaining archmage, and then a stop to a nearby haunted house. Hokey, right?

I talked about horror in rpgs a while ago, largely in conjunction with a three-game arc for Mage I ran in the Puget Sound. I tried to think of something that pushed a few of my own buttons, and what I came up with was an abyssal intrusion that may or may not have been an accident in this beat-up house with an underwater mortgage in what used to be a working class neighborhood.

Staying away from the really overt until the very end, it was this small, 1 floor house with a basement and attic patterned off of houses that I've lived or stayed at in the past. Almost every decoration was removed, and almost every reflective surface had been carefully and deliberately smashed. The basement had a series of mirrors that had been hung with the mirrored surface removed and smashed in a pile. A large circle of salt and iron oxide sat in the middle, but close observation indicated that someone had broken the circle - probably by smudging with a shoe. The power was out, even though some brief investigation indicated someone was actually paying the lease but walking about the house, it was pretty clear that the family wasn't around anymore. Only a family photo on a bookcase and a crayon picture on the fridge indicated that someone had actually lived there.

The picture? One smiling little girl next to an emotionless looking mother and brother. Off to the other side of the picture, the father stands with a large, toothy smile. His lips are red and his teeth are triangles. His eyes are just black circles. On the upper left hand of the picture, there's a lime-green sun, like she ran out of yellow crayon.

In the bathroom, a large full-wall mirror has been shattered but left where it was. In the empty room down the hall, the windows are boarded up carefully enough not to allow any outside light in. The door itself was stuck and required significant effort to pull open. Inside was mostly dust and piles of old clothing, revealed by flashlight, but in the middle, pulled off a stand, was a large, flat oval covered mostly in mildewed blanket. Only the glint of light off half-revealed glass indicated that it was a mirror - antique and likely of immense value.

Pulling the cover off filled the air with a cloud dust and mildew. While speculating on the value of the find, 'Mad Apple' Marie catches a glimpse of a shadowy figure in the hallway. The old Pole 'Counterclockwise' Subotka notices something a little more specific. A humanlike figure is standing at the end of the hallway. Its guise is hidden by an effect very similar to being back lit by existence, and only white, blurred eyes can be seen. Its arms and legs are too long, and when it strides down the hallway, it's suddenly halfway there. Both the mages spin around to see nothing at all. Mad Apple tries to sense Mind, and doesn't find anything - she finds what can only be described as a hole where Mind could be.

Poorly equipped to deal with what is probably an abyssal excursion, they did the next best thing - they hauled ass out the house. The attic creaked, the glass in the bathroom crumbled and squealed, and the television crackled and screamed as they ran past. The only reflective surface left un-shattered, its suddenly living screen depicted them running out even as they were doing so, as if viewed by camera, with the shadowy figure watching through the dining room opening.

They left the mirror.

* 5 wards, one for each tower, and affiliated with an order and cabal, then one ruling cabal.
I'm not apt to spurn a paycheck, and I'm not likely to have the chance this semester, since things didn't go to plan. That's the good and the bad in one sentence. Technically, things can still come through, so rather then beat myself up about it, I can acknowledge that there's a substantial boon in waiting until some things are paid off or much closer to and I'll have better savings. So that's it for a little while then.

I'm still working on Mage. I have to build a city, and I really want to look over stuff like Boston, Mysterious Places, Sanctum and Sigil, and stuff like that again. It's still in the design phase because I've been very busy with other stuff, and I don't even have my playgroup yet. I like to design NPCs and setting elements with them so they're invested from the beginning. I also kinda want to use all that stuff, even if nobody sees the work that goes into it but me.

Um, I bought Persona 4 online, after checking two Best Buys and two local GameStops. And while the manager of the Collinsville GameStop was very charming, I did not give her money because she did not have any of the games I wanted at the moment. That probably will be my first check in the future, though, because it really was a swell first impression. Anyway, I always skimp on the shipping so I can expect it sometime... man, like, next month. In the mean time, I've got to the very end of Dead Space, even if I never finish the last boss. I've been spoilered on the ending, and honestly I'm about as meh as you can be on it, in a very general sort of way.

The game itself has been good. Not great and not awful, either. It loses a lot of points because you see everything the game's got a little less then halfway through, and it doesn't really mix it up from there. It's got the 'ambush you as soon as you press the button', the 'every time you succeed, something negates it', the 'it's horror so the controls aren't very good', the 'cut-scene ambush', and the occasional 'flood of misshapen creatures'.

That's all standard action-horror stuff, so I didn't get pissed and kick it out of bed. But I did toy with the idea sometimes, because really, I'm mostly sticking with it out of sheer bloody mindedness. For other, maybe better, gamers, it's probably no big. I bet you'd be able to complete the whole sha-bang much more quickly. For me, I kept losing interest.

For all that, it had its good points. It was pretty good at scenery and the action was solid. The guns are cool, and I liked the feeling I got after I had just fought down this big, flesh-skewering monstrosity with my fusion cutter or just wailed on it savagely with the melee attack. I'd stomp on it, and curse, and then throw it over a bridge with telekinesis. Sometimes I'd sing a riff from LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out.", probably to Frank's chagrin.

I fuckin' love that song, though.
I saved you from a week of pointless hand-wringing. Not one of those entries made it past the first few paragraphs, which is just as well. There's a certain element of stress in my life at this point, which I'm dealing with in my own way. I've had nightmares return, for ex, but to my considerable frustration, I can't remember them.

I dig those dreams if I can recall what they are later. Maybe I'm not a big fan of the terror I feel, but the experience can't be replicated in any other way. Anyway.

I have it on good authority that Abyssals is wrapped up in one game. After all my bitching, you'd think I'd be relieved, but the last two games showed how good we could have been. The ST is adamant. All games are planned on 5 stages and stage 5 is wrapped up. The Abyssals take their names back and are free of the Neverborn. Interestingly, we were chatting after the game about transition into Solars, since the PCs were obviously after some kind of redemption. The answer was in the negative, obviously, since we just didn't have the time. To paraphrase, "That was step one of something like 12.", but that's an oppertunity we didn't even have. The game is about something else. It is, ostensibly, about the Solars, even when we're playing someone else. The Abyssals are a footnote in the main plot.

It's weird to think that we're playing our own tertiary characters.

I'm thinking of detailing the Changeling game from the notes after this Sunday. Is this the kind of thing anyone is interested in at all? I can post what I generate somewhere for viewing, if so. Actually, same goes for my older Mage game.

Awakening, like I may have mentioned, is next on the agenda.
In previous games, I've gone for street level. Not too many supernaturals, a cast of maybe a dozen actors on a game plot that's surprisingly focused. This next one is based on several different inspirations - Persona, Mage : the Ascension, major releases from the Awakening line, and other stuff.

The city will be whole cloth, not a real location, so that I can divide it in to 5 chief wards based on Watchtowers, each maintained by one member of the Pentacle orders, designed with a goal of creating a mirror of Atlantis in the fallen world. Obviously something needs to go wrong. I enjoyed my Changeling game, but I've gotten my biggest thrill when I was allowed to get weird. The Hedge and the Goblin Market were a lot of fun. Run down areas were also neat in their own way, but these mages are trying to build a city on a supernal blueprint that's gone catastrophic. Hopefully it won't be a bust.

I didn't generate the information I hoped to on Brent's behalf, re: oaths and possible charms for NExalted. I'll see what I can do now that the game's chiefly in retrospect for now.
atolnon: (Default)
( May. 29th, 2010 12:56 am)
I feel a little healthier emotionally, but sicker physically. Something's taken root in my chest and it won't dislodge, making work for the last two days a real drag. More experienced first level analysts were asked to provide mentoring for analysts just leaving training, and that's actually what I've been up to for the last few days. When the site supervisor stopped by, he commended me on being a good analyst, which makes me feel pretty good despite being tired and cranky. That kind of thing previous supervisors I've had before this job never really understood; that people like hearing that their hard work is being noticed.

There is stuff planned for my weekend, even though I'm mostly going to take it easy. Second to last Abyssals game was last Thursday. The PC who'd been making trouble for us for so long had finally split and a separate session with an outside guest PC was run on Wednesday, and that character wasn't invited to the Thursday game - not out of spite, but because he just wasn't there anymore and nobody really wanted to split the game 4-and-1. The rest of us Abyssals descended into the Labyrinth to reclaim our names from the Neverborn, which I guess they had in their possession to return. In return, the Circle was broken as the cost, and we had to choose someone to expel. Our group chose the person who'd voluntarily left us after a surprising amount of debate.

I don't know if there's something to be learned from that. Perhaps that even if there's not immediate and direct ramifications for acting against your group, you may be selected as the fall guy as soon as that kind of decision has to be made.

I think Changeling is actually canceled again. It's one game away from resolution, folks. I can't get you guys to come in to wrap this up? It's a different and valid reason every time. Running two games a week is really trying. We're all adults, even if it sometimes feels like we're just pretending, and that time is precious. We chose gaming, but other obligations must frequently be met.

My next game is gonna be Mage. A friend is going to be taking over for the current ST to run a short D&D session using the Warcraft setting until our friend gets his bistro off the ground for this summer. In a fit of dramatically misplaced priorities*, fulfilling ones dream of opening up ones own restaurant and the attendant work takes priority of running Sidereals for me. I mean us. Yep.

I wish I felt a little better. It was like the old depression for a few days and even leveling out is a downer. It is, however, a reminder of how different my mind is now then before. That was a sample, and I didn't like it back. I'm exhausted now.

* I'm kidding!
atolnon: (Default)
( Jan. 26th, 2010 02:45 pm)
Frank asked me what the odds of me running Changeling where. I assumed they were 100%, given enough time.
baronsamedi introduced me to numbers stations in a roundabout way, first through, then through LJ itself. He may be disappointed to realize that, more then any other game, it provided me with inspiration for Mage: the Awakening, but it doesn't have to be that way. Instead, I'm readjusting my focus. I can easily map to a Changeling headspace. makes me think of nothing except the sweet, sweet Abyss, ala Mage. Clicking those is up to you. They pressed several of my creepy buttons at once, so it's up to you. There's no shock or surprise. Nothing terrible happens. If you don't like it, you can close the browser, and they probably won't follow you out.

My apartment is coming together well. Futon is still broke. As soon as the dumpster is emptied, I can get rid of a lot of childhood stuff that I was never really a big fan of, but were gifts. I was hard to shop for as a kid, too.
This is originally the subject I wanted to post about, and I guess I got distracted and forgot. That's what happens when I post at work; such is life.

When I originally got the WoD Corebook, I loved it. Interestingly, I felt like the supernatural was portrayed as being almost common but any kind of cohesive organization was vanishingly rare. I don't recall any specific places where this was said, or anything, but this is the impression that I've carried with me since I first picked up a NWoD book. It's a setting that I really can't call 'new' anymore, but it's taken me a long time to revise my concept of what the gameworld was like.

Cut to save space, since I've got too many of these up lately.  )

I had kind of an unusual weekend in that nothing really went as I expected it to, but things seemed to have worked out ok for me anyhow. I went into it totally disorganized and came out ship-shape. Moreover, as things were winding down last night, I managed to put together the last few bits that really make going into the work week manageable. A thanks to [profile] writer_lynn, who was at least able to let me know where I stand re: prestige, and now I get to dick around with assigning dots to, really, just whatever. 

I've been up and down the Cam version of WoD at this point, and I'm well aware of the points of view that I've heard expressed regarding the reset, experience for membership class, et al, ect, ect. It's not that other people are wrong, it's just that the doling out of post-reset experience makes me happy. I understand the reasons for having such high loadouts for experienced characters in the setting, and why MC grants exp at all, but I always really thought that the amount of experience points found on characters bordered on rediculous, not to mention the powergap, which was always monumental. That's mitigated somewhat now. My personal feelings are that experienced players do fine regardless, plus often know exactly what they want to do with their points anyhow. That the gulf is smaller between MCs is a boon because it rewards longevity in the organization over longevity in the setting less then it used to. Something about that seems right to me.

Smaller exp. totals is also more manageable from a ST side, as far as I can tell. In Mage, when you've got multiple multiple-Masters, there's very little you can's just 'Death 5/Life 5/Time 5/ect.' away. The power level becomes, I believe, almost exponential one-on-one, though just like always, multiple people are always going to be able to drag you down should they decide to. Ces't ca la vive. There's nothing different now from then, it's just a little easier, is all.

Got to visit Mt. Rainer yesterday. Cool, partially cloudy weather highlighted some pretty excellent views. We got to do a little walking, but most trails either seemed snowed at the beginning or, in one case, blocked partway through. The sign that indicated we ought to bring an ice axe was particularly telling.

I got a few shots of the trail and a view through the trees, making me glad I had brought my camera. Doing anything about it is going to have to wait, though, since I still need to flatten and reload my machine. The real issue with that is that I don't have hardly any of my software disks, so I'd want to have some of those mailed up, even. I should of thought ahead.

I blew my weekend off to do whatever, and if you've got lots of things you want to accomplish, then I recommend it. The actual details of 'how' involve a stack of aluminum cans and a daunting amount of stacked cardboard which can be followed by checking the linked entry on my Facebook. It's true that I enjoy finding new ways to repeat myself, but I assume you wouldn't get anything out of that.

While it remains to be seen if I'll actually have the time to keep up with this kind of thing, I renewed my Cam membership (I hadn't actually realized it lapsed, but the point was moot) in the hopes of maybe playing the same old character or branching out. I feel like I have a few ideas I could bring to Requiem that'd be fun and I'm juggling concepts for Mage. There's something about that prick Atol that makes me want to return to his character, but I've had several concepts that keep popping up. Many of them seem surprisingly mundane, like I can't get past playing someone who was really steeped in being normal and things just became progressively weird about everything else.

Since I signed back up, I need to bring Atol back though, if only because I don't feel like he ever really got a resolution. Without going into it forever, he started off as a terrible character (not a bad person, just kind of two dimensional) and got better. Then I turned into a terrible player, which is something I've got my reasons for, anyway.

So yeah, I've sent out some messages, because my copy of my prestige is hopelessly corrupt and won't open. I had backed it up, but it seems I backed it up post-corruption, so that doesn't seem to do me any good. It was probably out of date, anyway. Without it, I don't have a record of any MC, which is tangenital, but irritating. If the VST Coordinator/Mage VST doesn't have records of it somewhere, I might have to bug Stephanie, who certainly isn't obligated to worry about it anymore, anyhow. It would be kind of funny to have this character from 2006 without any recorded playtime. My information in the CRD was very accurate until the reset, at which point I rely on it to have exactly nothing more then my starting point-buy. Even that doesn't look accurate to my recollections. 

I got a package from my father and picked up my booster box on Friday showering with years of collected bits of cardboard that I'm surprisingly excited about. I haven't felt this excited about Magic since before college.

I wanted to put together a soundtrack and kind of get a sure feel for a character before bringing hm back in any capacity.
So far, this is what I've been thinking.

Boards of Canada - The Devil is in the Details.
Boards of Canada - Under the Coke Sign

Modest Mouse - Dark Center of the Universe

David Bowie - Andy Warhol
Bonus clip - Andy Warhol eats a hamburger.

The Flaming Lips - In the Morning of the Magicians (I don't like this cover as much, but it has vocals.) (I like this one a lot, but no vocals, obviously.)

Radiohead - Videotape
Radiohead - How to Disappear Completely
Bonus track - Defunct Hardware - Nude

atolnon: (Default)
( May. 23rd, 2009 10:06 am)
My weekends are starting to get a little more busy. Friday was internet and gaming night, which went well. Mage: the Awakening played out almost exactly like a Guy Ritchie movie, featuring the protagonists and their cable of hard drinking ex-cops and cons named 'The Aristrocrats' (snap).
Today I was thinking of logging onto FFXI to play, because my internet is hooked back up, but I've decided to go out to the tournament again today because I didn't go yesterday and it's draft today. So, probably playing until 6, and then out to dinner at a randomized location.

Sunday is work and Monday is meeting up with a different group for Magic: the Gathering again. I know one or two guys from work and the rest I've never met before, but I got invited when I mentioned that I was getting back into it so it was as easy as that.

Magic players have always gotten kind of a bad rap. There certainly are skeezy ones, I won't even argue. And ones without social graces. But generally I've found them to be a pretty diverse and cool group of people. In many cases, it's as simple as bringing a deck and saying, "Hey, I'm here to play." In that regards, it's not unlike kindergarten. Pull up a chair, friend.

I'm really looking forward to the next Mage session. This one ended when I looked at one of the antagonists character sheets. It's Hideki Oki from the core book, and he's kind of a badass, but he's not a good magician. He's a troubled and mentally unbalanced killer, instead, so while nobody could tell who he was by scrying, he didn't expect someone to use magic and then cross reference a police database to check his plates. I gleefully told them he lived alone in a small apartment in Seattle, and they broke in silently. What followed busted me up.

After breaking in and rolling successful stealth checks, one of them decides the sleeping baddie needs to be unconcious, so he pistol whips him, doing a little damage and waking him up violently and turns on nightsight. The other guy decided to use a tactic he saw on television and start shouting at him to get up to disorient him while grappling, but he rolled his Composure + Resolve vs. Intimidate + Manipulation and avoided the grab. The third guy didn't have Stealth as a skill, so he was waiting in the hallway as backup. When he came in, he didn't realize that one of the characters is wearing what are effectively night vision goggles and flips the light, prompting everyone to groan and try to remain unfased.

The character that burst in, as he flips on the light, brings his pistol to bare and takes a shot at Hideki, whos' grazed, but spends a willpower to open the window and tumble out, knocking over a planter filled with mud and some sad looking ex-flowers. The dumpster diving corporate espionage guy grabs him through the windows and beats him about the neck and sholders, while captain nightsight is back on the ball and takes a quick shot (minus the penalty for cover) and puts a bullet through the killer's eye. Hideki tumbles back over the railing of his 5th floor apartment, setting of car alarms and angering stray cars and neighbors.

Queue cursing and frantic morality rolls, as one character is excited at the kill but dubious why he's rolling for a Morality 3 degeneration check while the others are trying to remember if they wanted to kill this guy or not, while looting the room for electronics or evidence. So, there's going to be a police chase next, probably, and it's going to be a riot at the Concilium meetings. I laughed my ass off.
atolnon: (Default)
( Apr. 19th, 2009 11:28 am)
So, here I am at work again. Where I was initially considering calling in sick, because I woke up fairly miserable, things cleared up pretty well after I sat up and moved about a little making me assume that it was mostly sinuses. Now, a fella' will want two days off in a row if he can get 'em, but failin' that, it's alright to go to work and get paid, so that's what I'm up to today.

Moving to this new shift almost put a moratorium on my gaming, but my players really came through. I'm always worried that I don't run a very good game, but if people didn't want to play, this really was the perfect time to say 'Well, that's the only day that's really available, so we'll have to stop." and nobody did, so that's kind of my indirect proof. My games are slowly getting better, and I've really learned that running games is a learned skill. So, Mage is this Friday and Exalted is next week.

I still don't have internet access at my place, and I'm still not worried by that. I haven't even made the call yet. Really, I feel like I'm taking a bit of a vacation from all that, even though there have been at least two moment where it would have been really useful to have access. A simple walk or drive down the street gives me a free connection that's as strong as I could ask for - until it gets late and I get kicked out of Starbucks, that is. Probably this week, I'll go ahead and pony up the cash to get basic cable and a connection, but until then, I'm not really sweating it. I'm not really more productive (probably a lot less then usual, actually, since research is a lot harder for me), but I'm pretty relaxed. I re-watched all of Stand Alone Complex for the first time in maybe a year, and it was totally worth it.

On Friday, feeling a little restless after work, I ducked into Crossroads mall to see if they had Infernals for the Exalted 2e line yet. I run a 1e game, but frankly, I'm interested enough in the book to backport certain parts of it to suit my sinister need for villains. I haven't quite decided if Abyssals or Infernals are going to get the nod as the big bad, but I'm leaning towards Abyssals, making Infernals an intriguing idea for anti-hero NPCs to either be sided with or against in resistance to the necrotic Deathlords. (thunder cracks in the background). As usual, it wasn't in, and I didn't really expect it since it was just a ruse to kill time. Instead, I saw on the board that there was a Magic: the Gathering draft at 6 PM and I was just in time to sign up. It's been a few years at this point, but lacking anything better to do, I put down some money and drafted with everyone else.

First of all, the draft was huge. There were three tables full of players, so the CCG scene here is alive and flourishing. Second, I'm terrible at Magic. I didn't draft enough spells and I ended up losing 0-3-drop. Still, it was fun and I met some new people, and there's a pre-release draft this upcoming Saturday that I'll probably go to. Neat.
I officially mentally 'killed' a project that I'd been trying to work with since high school. I've talked to a few people who read this journal about it briefly, and it's something I was invested in, but I really can't get passionate about it. It was a writing project of indeterminate length set in a world I was never really able to pin down. The more I thought about it, the fuzzier it became. I realized that it was, at heart, several projects and none of them were going anywhere.

It doesn't really matter what it was, but for those curious, it was the sci-fi thing that I had been trying to puzzle out forever, now. It comes down to 'I don't want to write it, and I have no incentive to do so.', so I'm just kind of taking notes and trying to determine if there's anything I do want to write in particular.

I feel surprisingly good about this decision, to stop trying, but I feel oddly about the characters I'm leaving in perpetual limbo. Most of them were never very fleshed out, and so it's a relief to let them go, too. One in particular is an interesting exception. Atol is a character that's really taken a life of his own. When I sat down to create my first Cam LARP character, I tried to pull a name from somewhere that wasn't going to be a trite, overused Shadow name for Mage. I hadn't really put too much thought into it, so I determined I'd cross over some of my character ideas from one of my less likeable characters from my long time novel attempt. I always enjoyed writing Atol dialog, even if I couldn't get anything else going. Thanatos02 is my common screenname and avatar, but Atol is my secondary. 

Kind of a strange set of circumstances. His project killed, the character continues to live on seperetly. He may still get his own work, then.
Sorry, in this case, they are not two great tastes that taste great together.

These are separate instances, except in so far as they are combined on the same page. I've been thinking a little more about Mage and my character in the Cam who has, I imagine, been sitting about playing gigs, and doing some cursory magical thinking, but these things don't really generate exp. Well, he hasn't been up to much, I guess. Story-wise, I feel I have a really good answer for this that grows naturally out of the rational I have for his move and his actions in-game right before I left.
Even if I've been thinking more about it, that doesn't guarantee a more active character, but I'm wondering about the viability of someone that doesn't show up to a venue very often but still exercises their downtime.

It's really just that Atol was such a fun channel to think about the WoD from, even though I'm pretty sure he is wrong about several canonical positions of the setting. I also felt he was a great foil to the real movers and shakers in St. Louis - he was frequently a tag along, almost a detriment to any magical task force he was put on due to his methods and assumptions. Almost be default, the brute force magical way used by concilium mages was efficient and potent where Atol absolutely depended on compromise. A simple repeated Forces 1 roll taxed his ability to its limits. He had his upsides - I certainly wasn't playing a purposely useless character. It just turned out that what he was good at wasn't something that people were interested. Magic is more powerful then skills, which both Atol and I were aware of. I guess the surprise would be when he learns some rotes based on those skills...

Of course, Perform doesn't have a lot of rotes. Even though it should! =D

On a different topic, I've never really been sold on Left 4 Dead. It's not the '4', everyone, though that isn't really points in its favor. No, it's that while I do possess a certain level of interest in the walking dead, that interest is purely on the level of logistics and maybe, maybe the themes a bunch of cannibalistic, shambling ghouls can represent. The prospect of mowing down whole crowds of the formerly-human holds fairly little romance for me.
Even so, I have fairly memorable dreams about these creatures, and I specifically dreamt of a Left 4 Dead setting last night (no doubt getting every particular wrong, in that I have never seen anything of it besides some art). Whence does my trepedation spring? Not in dying, specifically, but in losing free will. This is a theme that occurs frequently in nightmares I have, and interests me both in and out of those dreamscapes. It's a thing where I can even see someone go from a free-willed* individual to a thoughtless creature.

Vampire**, as a game was interesting to me in that when I first picked it up, I was still most familiar with vampires in my gaming from the D&D context. That is, when someone becomes a vampire, they immediately flip alignment and become an NPC - and completely capital 'E' Evil. Rather then just being forced to subsist on the blood or levels of innocents (or adventurers), I always assumed that an alignment switch was a forced change in metaphysical view - not just that your opinions changed on correct actions, but an entire worldview switch. My supposition was, since it happened instantly and to every character regardless of who they were and in exactly the same way, that when the character 'died' ,they were basically replaced by an alien intelligence; they were no longer the same person but changed, they were a totally different entity.

This had been my experience from movies, comics, et al and ect, as well. Basically, they were smart zombies. Vampire: the Masquerade (and ironically, later, Interview With A Vampire and so forth), posed that you were basically the same person but with an unnatural hunger. Perhaps where they went wrong were the super-heroesque powers (which are fun, so I don't really mind that), but it's the self-recognition that makes it a game of personal horror. Or what have you. I suppose that there's an element of horror in waking to find yourself in a body that isn't yours, but there's really no reflection inherant in that, it's the above that's required.

So, that's as far as I've gone with that. It's why I've been interested in Vampire from a conceptual level, but having never been in a paper-and-pencil game of it,  I have rarely gotten into those themes. If you've got any thoughts about any of this stuff,  yeah, I'm interested on other peoples takes on it, too.

* something that appears to be free-willed, in a dream, you of course realize that this is not a possibility.
** so this is technically 'Masquerade'


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