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.
So, I'd looked into the G-M Chronicle and so far I've liked what I've seen, but it's probably going to call for fairly in-depth commentary. Not only does the PC I'm making today get the rules update treatment (to see what it's like to convert from the old system to the new, if one chooses to do that), but I'll probably want to comment a little on almost all the changes. This might be a good time to de-friend me for a little while if you haven't been okay with this.

Read more... )
I've really picked up my pace here, because I'm tired of my WoD Core book floating around my living room at all hours of the day even after I've read it. I still have to get through God-Machine Chronicle and post it here before I can check the WIR off the to-do list because I'm a masochist, I guess, or maybe because I'm a stickler for my own incredibly arbitrary rules. The upside is that it's a rules update and it's only about a hundred pages so, since I'm going to try to hit the high notes on this one, hopefully I won't drag it on forever. I'll start in on that at roughly the time I make my character and hit any notes I missed that I meant to talk about on my first go round. For everyone who's not reading this, though, I'm sorry for spamming your wall; I mean well. At least every thing else today goes... under the cut.

This is the end, my friend. Of this book, anyhow. )
Remember, kids. It's boring-ass rules and not boring ass-rules. That's a totally different game. For those that don't know me really well, now is pretty much where I usually start regretting that I started this. We're past my scant commentary on gaming fiction and atmosphere and into the mechanics, the exceptions to normal rules, weapons charts, grappling rules, and all the rest. I'm gonna keep chugging through this, though, because there's some interesting stuff here; put on some tea and read under the cut.

Read more... )
I don't think this'll be as long as some of the previous Chapters, since a lot of what we talk about when we talk about Attributes relates to Skills.

Under the cut.  )

Okay, I've spent enough time here. I've got work later and I have stuff I want to accomplish before I have to go in. I'll probably do this and God-Machine and probably call it quits on WIRs, though. I don't think this is helping any of you in particular and I'm not really big on the format, but I've been trying to finish stuff I start out to do so I'll at least wrap this up properly.

I got to see Pacific Rim last night. It was pretty good!
So, I managed to get through Chapters 2 and 3 and finally found time to write on them. These are basically obligatory chapters describing, in detail, what's going on with the character sheet. Because it's a dice pool system, you actually need to explain how you combine one with the other, in two separate chapters, and have it make sense rather than having an extremely dry but even-more-straightforward list of where character stats create derived values ala Dungeons & Dragons. (This latter bit being confusing in a different way to deeply grok, but easier to use in the event that you just have all the derived values written down before you start.)

Chapter 2 : Just check out those... Attributes!

I liked the art on the chapter intro and I liked the story. It set a tone pretty well but, once again, it has absolutely nothing to do with the chapter so, in the greater scheme of things, I felt it was somewhat wasted space. Could'a left it blank. OR, actually, just take all the pages you used and take the best of those beginning of chapter prompts, and write one last end-of-book longer fiction piece. Oh well.

Both chapters have a pretty similar format, in that they explain what attributes and skills are, how they're used in a dice pool system, and go through each one individually. I'm not going to do that, I'm just going to hit a brief overview of my system thoughts and point out anything that specifically comes to mind as noteable.

One of the things that I like had major ramifications for the gameline, which is the 3x3 chart of Mental, Physical, Social and Power, Finesse, Resistance. There are things that don't have certain traits, like ghosts and spirits, which just end up using Power, Finesse, Resistance though I don't think I've ever seen anything just use a Mental, Social, Physical. The 3x3 gives you a good shorthand for what you need to be rolling in abstract dice-pool situations. The writer also explains the 1-5 dot scale pretty well.

2's average and 1's below average while 3, 4, and 5 are above average to astounding. Attributes can go well above 5 if needed, but the lowest they can get is 0 in really unusual situations and generally inept behavior or capacities are typical modeled through Flaws or non-standard Merits. The unspoken implication for this is just that it's not really useful or interesting to get really detailed at how abysmal someone is at something. Attributes from 1 to 2 do just fine in modelling that spectrum.

Each Attribute (and Skills are demonstrated the same way) are modelled identically. There's the Attribute or Skills name and a really short fictional blurb involving the characters of either Martin, Becky, or Josh demonstrating the Attribute in action by example. You get a short explanation of what it is and how, if needed, it's different from other Attributes. Each one is given an explanation of a botch rolled on a chance die, a normal failure, a standard success, and exception successes, then each one is given an example of how equipment can be used to make a roll more likely to succeed and situations where rolling is more difficult (represented by bonus dice and dice subtracted from the dice pools).

On several pages, there's art that I consider to be stylish and evocative of the mood as presented in the chapter fiction, and all of the art pertains directly to the text in the book which is something I really appreciate since it gives an overall sense of mood; it helps present a unified experience that I rarely get from a gaming book.

One of the things that I noticed is that things that tend to go wrong in a dramatic failure aren't what I would call 'tame', but normal examples of failure in high-stakes environments. However, a dramatic failure only occurs when you're rolling a chance die (reduced to 0 dice on a dice pool roll), and then only if you roll a 1 on that die. You're really only going to be rolling a chance die when the situation is so abysmal that your negative modifiers from your situation are higher than your whole dice pool, which is attribute + skill + equipment - situational modifiers. And then, it's only one in ten times you'll botch the situation. The dramatic failures range from inconvenient to almost catastrophically bad, but there's a surprising amount of word count directed at an event that's generally going to be so unlikely as to basically never occur.

The only time I can really see this happening is in a generally low-point game where the ST really doubles down on making characters roll for a majority of situations and the character is placed in a situation that they have few, if any skill points in or it's a life or death situation and the character can't simply opt out. I think that I may have had someone roll a chance dice exactly once, and literally nothing came of it. (A 2-9 standard failure result.) That tends to imply that, even at fairly low experience levels, you're usually better off shooting for the brass ring than not shooting at all, ie, the game rewards playing it rather than trying to sit things out, if you're looking at the RAW.

I could talk about equipment modifiers, but that's better left for our next section to put it in the proper context.

I'm not going to talk about WoD Classic much, here, but both noticing things and rolling initiative used to be actual skills you'd have to specially designate to put points in, but abilities like Defense ratings (actively derived and listed on the character sheet), Health, resisting mental effects, reaction to surprise, and the above are functionally derived wholly from your Attributes. It used to be that a new player could try to build someone competent in combat and totally not realize that Awareness was critical for your basic initiative for combat, and that you could absolutely build a character who could fail to notice a barn in an empty field if you didn't take dump points in the right skill. In WoD, these are no longer skills you can totally avoid by accident (and which eat up precious scant skill points), but something you'll tend to have between 2 (minimum, if you're really unhappy) and 10 points in. (Though I imagine that between the small-medium-large attribute spread you have to take, you're more likely to roll between 4-5 dice.) I find this to be very satisfactory now that I think about it, though it used to bother me because I was always asking people to make Wits+Awareness rolls or whatever to react to combat or to notice shit.

Okay, I'm going to do Chapter 3 later and tag this in a bit. It's taking me longer than I expected. 
It's a really beautiful day out, today. Sadly, Katie's out doing cool fun stuff (yay!) and I gotta go to work from 3-9 (eh), so we're not gonna see each other until after I get off work tomorrow. I'm hoping that I can get enough housework done to surprise 'em on Sunday, but it'll probably depend on how tired I end up being.

I should, depending on how busy it gets, be finishing pick training today. That means I get to be bossed around on a pick as I (too slowly) grab orders for increasingly impatient customers who want their bedroom sets for a .25 an hour raise. The actual best case scenario is me getting trained up on weekdays to familiarize myself with where products go in the warehouse racks so I'll actually probably be busy during the weekdays. That'll put my wage up to a hefty 9.75 per hour. Sometimes I get frustrated, because I used to bring home about 500 bucks a week, which would pay for our lifestyle really easily, but I try not to get bitter.

Katie's getting paid weekly and the influx of cash is a legit godsend. Stand Alone Media is actually picking up business, but one of the people we've been working with has been killing us with how poorly he manages his time and directs his effort. He's resigned from everything from video editing and business partnership to pressing the button and waiting for videos to convert from VHS to a DVD-friendly format. I could go on and on, suffice to say we didn't even need to fire him since he's quit because pressing the button is too strenuous for him.

He's got the video conversion rig, though, so until we get our own (and it's not that pricey to make it work on our machines), we'll be borrowing his equipment. The video conversion and upscaling is just too lucrative for the investment to pass up, and we have clients backed up waiting for us to get started for them. It's not, by itself, enough to justify a full time gig but it's several extra hundred dollars per month and that's basically huge for us.

So, I hope to get Chapters 2 and 3 done today on the WIR (if you're interested in that, make a little noise on the posts to make me feel loved). My Hunter: the Reckoning book is shipping, so there's a chance it'll make it here today (but probably not before I head out for work - boo). I really love POD, guys, and I'm going to DriveThruRPG to buy these books instead of Amazon, because re-printing formerly out of print books is something I want to support financially. I'm at the last dungeon in Persona 1, and when I finish it, you'll probably get my final thoughts on the matter for a gameline I've loved for over a decade. 
I did the reading yesterday, and I'm the kind of guy who refers to notes rather than jots the notes down on the computer as I'm reading. This is largely because it's really difficult to read a game book and type at the same time. My desk doesn't currently allow it. So, it's WIR once-removed. Let me talk about the book and format for a moment. I'll put it under the cut, because it's gonna be large.

WIR Chapter One )
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.   
Since I posted last on character competency, I spoke with Brent for a decent amount of time about nExalted, which occasionally popped up here again quite suddenly. There's a great example of a project that's been on a cold burner for a long time that we decided to re-heat pretty much out of nowhere.

And because I'm still running WoD Core / Second Sight, this'll probably be it for now on the topic so I can return to working on all the other stuff that's boiling over, to abuse and finish with the oven metaphor. Anyhow, under the cut, as usual. I know I missed a day, but this is probably the most consistent I've been with getting full ideas out in a long time so, I don't know, I guess I'm pretty happy with this anyhow. 


Cutted. )

 
Christ, I know. And I intend to post again today, even. Like I said, I've had these thoughts floating around for a while and I haven't done anything with them, I'm not running a game, and Exalted is getting a new edition. So, you know, whatever, man. 

Also, my last mechanics post was pretty unhinged. Like, LJ got an idea dump and it wasn't exactly coherent. This is still going to be really long. This is everything I have on Martial Arts in Exalted right now from what I want to do to exactly why I'm proposing it as a hack. It's under the cut. 
Exalted Martial Arts Game Notes )




I really think that I'm going to get four posts in four days, so I'm sorry if it seems like I'm spamming all of a sudden. I just kind of want to take this piece by piece. 

But anyway, that's why it's below the cut. )
I've had people who don't live in my house in my house for 4 out of 5 days, and for those days, they wanted my input on activities so, by today, I'm basically like "It's nothing personal. I like you. Get the hell out of my house." It's late, and I've only got one topic in me.  I don't really care what order I take this stuff in, except I'm likely to hit the easier stuff first. Brantai wants the most complicated one, but since he actually commented, that's what I'm talking about tonight.

Hey man. I'm not, like, strictly-speaking, exactly sure what the difference between Storytelling and Storyteller is here. I'm concerned to look at my books and realize that there's a subtle difference in the nWoD Core line terminology then there was in the oWoD. I'm not sure it matters, though, so I'm not going to look. I think I got your gist. 


It's long, and so is below the cut. )
atolnon: (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2012 12:25 am)
I've been trying to work out a post about competency in role-playing games, but when I've sat down, I realized I had a few different issues come up, and by the time I felt like I was getting somewhere, I had to go somewhere else and do a thing. This pattern's repeated itself three or four times now in the last week. 

On one hand, I've been running WoD. I mean, not as much as I want, but still fairly often as things go. I'm planning on using the plot for NaNoWriMo, even. For what it's worth. Ahem. But I've had fairly good success managing my own expectations for competency in game using the Core and Second Sight. Those expectations are managed by the implications in the writing for what fluff there is (usually not related to mechanics players are going to be interacting with) and the mechanics in the text. 

One excellent example if how, when it was released, it was generally lauded but the stats for the beat cop were immediately torn to shreds. The reason why was obvious - the beat cop was built using an incredible amount of experience points off the starting character template. This kind of transparency is, for me, extremely important. The newer line of WoD books has been very consistent from what I've seen in this kind of regard. Part of this is how the characters are all built off exp right from the beginning, and none of these games with Bonus Points. The character creation game can still be rigged, but the discrepancy is smaller and can typically be managed using a few simple rules of thumb. 

Exalted 2.5 is much, much messier. I don't really think anyone's surprised to hear that, but character creation is all over the place. Backgrounds are very messy, with some being clear winners and others varying by campaign from absolutely wasted to absolutely game-breaking. Bonus Points muddy the issue by allowing players to buy rank 4 and 5 skills for a single point, in some instances, making extreme specialization a much better deal then diversification early on. Experience point expenditures are different for the same thing cross-splat. The reality of combat is pervasive, but which powers you should buy aren't always clear. Certain areas of expertise are oddly structured, so that being able to survive combat (which is fun, so tends to be prioritized) is extremely expensive, which leaves other interesting and fun powers largely off the table until much later, or at risk of accidentally being dissolved by the first attack they're unable to defend against. 

So, there are issues. That's part of the problem you run into with a system originally designed to partially mimic the deck building feel of collectible card games, and also runs into the problems about the concern of verisimilitude in setting and different expectations from different writers. I struggled with some of these concerns when writing and editing my own game, which I guess I've decided to leave titled Dream, until I figure out otherwise. 

It's a system that's incredibly stripped down, but the potential problem exists despite that, because as long as you put character creation options into the hands of players, the possibility of making a character 'wrong' is present. Getting into the details about all three of those things is obviously going to make a post really long by LJ standards, but that's what I've been wrestling with. I've certainly got notepad pages full of inane scribbles. I'd really like to get into even one of those tonight, but it's late and I'm probably busy again most of tomorrow. I guess I'm making a promise to myself to try to do it tomorrow, though, at least in part so that I can fully realize some of these design issues. 

That's not even to mention, really, that I feel that languages, crafts, and to a wider degree, styles of martial arts would be better served being merits like in newer versions of WoD and that the structure presented - in part - for Changeling is worth looking into for Exalted. Possibly, anyhow. A mash-up of inherent abilities based on splat, a flatter power curve between Exalt types, Charms, applicable Merits, Merits instead of Backgrounds, free Excellencies (if that structure is maintained) as inherent powers, ect, et al. Prioritization has been extremely difficult for me. I want to do everything all at once. I've been working incredibly hard to focus and actually accomplish one thing at a time, but sometimes I just have to check in and talk about what else I want. 
In the last few days, the largest bulk of the stuff in the house has been trashed or donated and what's left behind is approaching a living space that's very nice, indeed. In a few days, I'm wondering if we'll take some pictures of it now so we've got something of an in-between for our before and after shots. Let's put it this way, though - we have a 1,000 sq. ft. house and we donated our microwave (which we really only use to heat leftovers, so it was pretty easy to part with), my old futon, and a CRT television we didn't need anymore. In terms of floor and counterspace alone, that's a big change. 

So, that's been a lot of work. House is probably looking better then it ever has, though. We've also been doing beaucoup yardwork, Katie and co. have finished shooting two commercials and doing the cutting and audio - one's completely finished. We're hoping to have a website go live at the end of the upcoming week, our finished logo, brochure, business cards, network setup, ect, et al. I mean, there's a reason why I'm so much quieter then I have been in the past. 

I ran the first part of Chapter 5 in my WoD game, titled 'Myxomatosis'. Before it started, I realized that the campaign was going in a direction other then where I initially intended it to go, but one I liked a lot more, and pretty much every character block was re-written with new information. I had needed to do some more prep and we ran out of steam after about 2 hours, so I called the game for some additional writing. 

I don't know if I ever posted a link to the actual play document, because I guess I assumed that people didn't much care about it, but I love reading that stuff. Initially, I kept it limited to a Google doc that I posted to my Google+ feed, but figured that I might as well post it to Actual Play on RPG.net. When I was working up the link (which is here, incidentally)*, I suddenly realized that BaronSamedi had been posting his campaigns there the entire time

This is not a brilliant observation on my part, because I see his sig all the time, and I have seen the links to those campaigns very frequently, indeed. So, yeah, I really have no idea how I missed that. The upside is, you know, I can go read them now, so I like that. That's nice. Okay. 

Anyhow, it's an interesting dynamic for me because Katie hasn't played a lot of paper and pencil role-playing games and it's one-on-one because not a lot of people I know are really interested in mortals or have the time to play another game. There's a fair amount of us clowning around, and there's a lot of oppertunity for details that would normally get lost around a table of four or five in the background noise alone. I'm probably not going to write another 1-on-1 campaign for a while, but I still need 12 games out of this one (making it about a third over). Since we're playing again, that probably won't be too tough.

Most of my RL isn't all that interesting at the moment, since I'm really only interested in talking about things I'm going to realistically work on or things I've actually done, but back in about '06, I wrote a game that I just called 'Dream' as a working title. It was named because that's how I got the idea for it, and it involved some of my obsessions at the time, including a more rules-light system, major and minor tarot arcana**, and a more free-form skillset. I know that the tarot theme might step a little bit on the toes of _paradoxboy_'s really cool House of Cards RPG, but I really don't see a problem there. And there's a free example of play on that website, so I recommend checking it out if you haven't already. 

What was I getting at? Oh, yeah, okay, I am going to go ahead and take my old ruleset out for a spin, iron out any obvious kinks, and get some art, a cover, and do a proper write up. I'm less antsy about that shit then I used to be, honestly, and maybe it'll be a fun little system for people to mess around with in between more in-depth stuff. I've played a few good sessions with it in the past and it's been fun. 

* Only Chapter 1 is up right now. It takes a little time to format and I haven't done that for every game yet. The link to the whole AP is here. Brent's already written on it, like a vandal, so if you feel the need just try to make it witty. 
** Everything I did at the time involved the fucking tarot. I blame Persona.
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 25th, 2011 10:50 am)
I'm fine with Thanksgiving, since it's always been just a day for me to go over and see what my dads side of the family is up to. Uncles, aunts, and cousins or whatnot. My uncle puts on a good spread, and we talk about some stuff, but nobody has to fly anywhere for the holiday or anything like that, and the whole event is pretty low key. I've gone on the record in the past with not really liking holidays, anymore, but I do enjoy dinner, so it's hard to go wrong.

I ran a one person WoD mortal game on Wednesday as kind of an introductory game for a horror campaign. Katie's playing at the moment, and we might have as many as three people (my preferred amount) playing in a few weeks, but for now we're kind of running on one.

Since I've spent a lot of time complaining, it's time to see if I can put what I've learned to good use. I know that I've been just as hard on myself as I have been on others, so I was nervous when I began the session but felt pretty good about it about an hour in.

There was a moment when Harry, the PC, was informed that the person he was doing a photo shoot of an area for has been completely incommunicado for several days, which indicated that he wasn't ignoring just him, but everyone and someone else had been assigned out of hand to replace the contact. Since there was a photo shoot the day of, and Harry had the location information, he had two reasonable choices - just go to the shoot and do his thing or contact the new person in charge and re-verify.

Harry chose the latter, and woke up a university college professor on a Saturday morning. I realized that the professor probably wouldn't realize that there was a shoot today, since he hadn't been supervising the photography or the staffing, so he wouldn't be expecting a call. I didn't really have any idea who this guy was, to be honest, he was just a name on a paper - a tertiary contact.

Did I mention that I hadn't really planned the first game? I just kind of made a character up on the spot.

Likewise, I hadn't planned on most of the game. I knew that the contact had been largely missing for over a week, but hadn't really given a lot of thought to how people reacted to that. What do people do when an un-tenured college professor who's known for a sharp mind and overall reliability and diligence goes missing? Well, probably fire him, but word was a little slow in getting around. His TA, I figured, had taken over for a lot of his duties and everyone else just assumed he was suddenly bogged down. I just knew I had to get that information across but still have something to do for this game.

I was later asked what would happen if the other professor wasn't contacted, and I thought for a second and said, "Well, he didn't know he was taking over for the duties of Prof. Parker, so he wouldn't ever have shown up; neither he nor the administration had the schedule for the shoot. The history grad students would have, since they were the grunt work for this project and already knew, so you'd have shown up and they'd be the only ones there with only a vague idea of what you were supposed to do. You probably would have had to do it without anyone else but them."

And then I realized why it was so tiring to run this game, even though it was pretty light. I was literally creating the entire game on the fly as a staging point for the parts of the game I had notes for. Whew.
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 don't really have many surface areas not dedicated to computing. I can still write on the bed, I guess. Which isn't really all that bad, but I probably need to do better then that. Sometimes you want paper, not LCD. I do a lot of my writing in notebooks, actually, then the first part of my editing process is how I feel about what I wrote when I retype it.

I started a new, probably short term type of game yesterday. My friend The J-Man decided he'd enjoy running a WW2-era game starting in 1940 that was a split from the Marvel timeline and we were all X-Men style mutants. He picked some powers at random for each of us and let us pick one of them, which seems ok. Frank picked Telekinesis and is playing someone who was a British fighting ace from what was the gentry. My friend Brian picked the ability to rot things, Mikey picked Teleportation - both Americans, Anthony picked Invisibility and is a Russian spy infiltrating the SS, and I picked the ability to make multiples of myself, because it's more interesting then laser eyes. I was a member of the French Resistance. The J Man wrote up 1-5 powers for our core abilities and some subsets of those powers.

When I picked being able to duplicate myself, I didn't really consider the ramifications of those actions. After all, in the Marvel Universe, Multiple Man isn't really that much of a hot shot. I just wanted to call myself Le Resistance, as in, by myself. But, hey, what's the most powerful, game breaking ability in WoD - old or new?

Multiple actions. At level 2, or 14 exp. for me, I get three other me's, or 4 totally independent actions that arn't tied to one location. I can operate a mortar by myself. I can duplicate my equipment if I pay the exp, so I can turn one machine gun using dude into 4. At level 5 of the power, the number of duplicates I can produce doesn't really bear thinking about.

I know my current group's never been that worried about power imbalance, never been that worried about mechanics. The kind of attention I put into it's largely wasted, so I think only about two other players will even notice - but I'll probably trade notes with them. I have a prospective fix, but I'm actually content just to mention it and see what the others think, and if they pass on it, I'm content to be the most powerful person in the party, just this one time.
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No Exalted today. One of our players is going to see a Springsteen concert, so there's going to be a distinct lack of necrotic essence-fueled personal drama tonight. Frank, our ST, has come to insist that the game is going to end in a tower of destruction instead of peter out in a series of inter-group scuffles though, so maybe I trust that. I'm saying it's possible. We're good friends but his running style and ideas of games have never matched mine, exactly. This game is going pretty roughly, but it does persist, so anything could happen. The ST tends to set up a McGuffin we're supposed to interact with in the proscribed way, and gives us two choices. Generally, we don't have much choice; the situations we're faced with are beyond anything our characters have the power to work with. 

It can be chalked up to being kind of powered-down in fights, being pit against characters far more potent then us, and given few resources or time to work with. There are other small issues that crop up that interest me. For example, Lookshy has been in a few conflicts with the Deathlords and destroys their forces without any trouble every time. This sits oddly with me, but it's the tone the game has. Even small towns have historically been able to hand us our asses.

I really don't know. We were given a choice early on; redemption or loyalist. Most of us went redemption, so now I just follow the redemption plot hooks until the game's over. The end.

Changeling is being run this week. The motley consists of 3 Spring Courtiers and one unaffiliated. Sunday was the night I got really hammered and went sideways, but the game was lucid. For me, anyhow. The characters had been following a path strongly, picking up a plot thread and running with it relentlessly, making my game planning easy as far as that went. I set up the beginning, which was a gun drop from the Summer Court to assist in equipping the motley with tools needed to go against whoever was directing the moles. As of the game before last, they were planning on knocking down the other radio towers and rooting out the remaining corruption, inquisitor style.

This is not something that happened.

I had laid out a few sidequests. Just, you know, stuff based of what the characters had did and said offhand. The PI got a call from a card he handed out. The musician got calls back on his band fliers. Ect, et al. The characters took the night to follow up on those leads, while a PC and NPC took the oppertunity to hang out and ended up doing tequila shots before drunk dailing available (and unavailable) PCs and NPCs. One thing lead to another, and before long, seduction checks were being rolled on the table and everyone woke up with a tequila headache the next day.

I mean, this is the Spring Court for you, I guess. Everything's right on track then it falls off the rails with a rediculous party. I pretty much wrapped the game up after that. I'm running on Sunday, but it's probably the least likely opening for a game that I've run in quite a while.
atolnon: (Default)
( Jan. 6th, 2010 02:12 pm)
I wanted to post something yesterday, but I felt shitty and it felt like a mistake. They say 'save it for livejournal', but unless I have a concreate idea on what's going on, it's better not to for me. Ces't ca la vive. And things are better after a sleep and shower.

Anyway, so what? I am back on my feet again, and pretty recovered from the whole holiday/moving thing. That means I'm actually getting my show on the road, from getting back to writing to putting off writing. And because there's someone reading this that specifically cares, I'm doing this school thing now, it's cool. This is the best part, actually; the whole reason d'etre of this process. It's so great that I am keeping my mouth shut, because I believe in hexing the process. I'll let you know.

I have been playing this Exalted thing, and it's pretty rad. This game has been a series of campaigns, and as Abyssals, we're actually running into characters from previous games at this point. Since I'm playing Evil Buddah, I'm not really getting too far in to the theme of becoming more like a corpse as listed in the Charmset (and conversations on rpg.net, though I'm fairly certain that this is a small subset, since Abyssals really don't seem to be a fan favorite), and I think that I basically am going in maybe the wrong direction, but I'm working on it. We've got time.

I'm also playing a lot of Assassin's Creed, which is fun, but basically the same 5 things over and over again. It's likely that I'll talk about it when I finish it, which should be pretty soon and is the only point when saying anything will be worthwhile. I'll be able to wrap up the whole thing in one post, if that's within your scope of interest.

There's a lot of Exalted going around at the apartment, so I'm thinking of running a nWoD game. Changeling is very tempting, but Mage is what I'm best at. I'd like just plain nWoD, but the group will want powers. Geeze, man, I don't know.
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