Bite-Size Actual Play: September 2012

edited September 2012 in Actual Play
Here's a brief AP from PAX!

Finally played Fingers on the Firmament yesterday after ten years of build up. I'd promised Elizabeth that we could play it, so I hacked together something that's halfway between Apocalypse World and World of Dungeons in terms of complexity. As with my previous AW-derived hacks (Planarch Codex, The Afterborn), the core moves -- and everything else -- definitely need some serious work after the first playtest, but enough worked to prove that the project is starting to come together.

There are about 3 killer apps right now, with the rest needing reworking (here's the draft we used).

The first killer app is group travel. Firmament is a fantasy game about people living in deep space without spaceships or spacesuits, traveling by reaching out and grabbing the stars, pulling themselves towards them. This is pretty dangerous to do solo because, if you blow your travel roll, you end up lost by yourself and have to hope you find someone or someone finds you. Given that space is massive, the odds aren't in your favor.

In group travel, each player first places their "hold." Players have either 1 or 2 hold, based on having two hands. You place your hold by putting your hand flat against the table in the direction of another player, simulating grabbing onto them. Having a tightly bound group is better, but at least one player needs a free hand to roll the dice for traveling (roll+wayfinding). Plus, if you have extra hands free, a different player can roll to attempt to recover if the first player blows their roll or if the group breaks apart in transit.

Breaking apart happens because, once the first wayfinder has made or failed their roll, the GM rolls+0 to test each hold. On a 10+, you hold fast. On a 7-9, you drop a few fingers. On a 6-, the hold breaks. This part is unbelievably compelling and stressful, since it is inevitably fraught and the consequences are potentially massive, but placing your holds semi-strategically dramatically increases the chances of having everyone arrive safely.

The first time we rolled group travel, Elizabeth and James made it safely, based on Elizabeth's roll, but the group split, with Dev hanging onto Jackson by just a few fingers. Then Jackson nailed his recovery roll (since he had left a hand free) and we all sighed with relief. We were about to move on, when I remembered: "Oh, we forgot to test Dev's hold on the recovery." Sure enough, I rolled a 7-9 result and Dev had to drop his last few fingers, spinning away into the darkness. Luckily, they were on a well-known and well-marked route, so Dev rejoined the group quickly, but it was an excellent taste of the danger present in the game.

The last thing we did in the playtest, right after Elizabeth had to go catch a flight, was have the group try to carry an enormous hunk of raw crystal (previously used as a beacon) back to their "home" star. I totally hadn't considered something like this, but Dev immediately was like: "Clearly we have to leave a few hands to hang onto the crystal as we carry it." Crap! Sure enough, losing Elizabeth and having to spend extra hold on the crystal placed serious strain on the group, in addition to them trying to jump straight back to known territory (blazing a new route) rather than working their way back star-by-star. We closed with Dev spinning off into the darkness again, this time with no real idea where he was, but clutching the crystal. Had we continued, the next part of the session would have involved playing out the "recovery protocols" in order to find him and his treasure again, before they were lost forever.

The two other killer apps, carrying the fire (terminology stolen from Cormac McCarthy) and sharing things with stars (and other players, as a form of "Hx" at the beginning) were also great, but more uneven and need some revision. All in all, though, pretty exciting and something I hope to work on and play again soon.


  • More PAX: I ran my Mouse Guard mission, The Siege of Sprucetuck, five times this weekend at Games on Demand.

    All I can say is that the Player Turn is a powerful mutagen!
  • I got to play Witch: The Road to Lindesfarne at Dragon Con and it was very cool. Despite playing yards away from a drunken karoake mosh pit, the game was intense and very dark. I played Sir Hayden, who began the game as an upright knight of Christendom and ended it as a cringing, one-armed Satanic minion of the man he hated most in all the world.
  • Advancements in Monsterhearts! Our Werewolf took Soul Debt, the infernal move, with a Dark Patron of "her ancestral wolf spirit". When selecting a personality type, the player in question went with "The Butcher".

    Heee. Hee hee. Hee hee hee hee.

    Jennifer is also the proud owner of "Uncontainable" and the Sasquatch move "Disappear". So basically, she's occasionally compelled to hunt and slaughter by a feral wolf spirit within her, and she can't be contained and can vanish into thin air.

    It's probably a good thing her ghostly boyfriend has the ghoul move that lets him come back from the dead.
  • Posted a bite-sized AP of a Dungeon World game using Drazhu's Slave Pit over here.

    And tonight, Pathfinder RPG, Council of Thieves adventure path. The players effectively run through an entire dungeon floor backwards, by sneaking into the mini-boss's chamber through the roof and then working their way back to the intended entrance. Made for some really hilarious inverted traps. Also had some good dynamic combats, one on a roof and one in a watery underground cavern with rickety boat and lobster-tentacle monsters (the latter included an honest-to-goodness player death, but he was quickly revived).
  • Advancements in Monsterhearts! Our Werewolf took Soul Debt, the infernal move, with a Dark Patron of "her ancestral wolf spirit". When selecting a personality type, the player in question went with "The Butcher".

    Heee. Hee hee. Hee hee hee hee.
    That's pretty awesome.
  • edited September 2012
    I was at GnoccoCon in Italy over the weekend.

    Sagas of the Icelanders demo #1: This game started out a little floundering. We had two farmers in adjacent fjords, with a blood feud between them, both NPCs, with the PCs orbiting around one of them. The Child went exploring on some foreign ships that had landed in the other fjord and to save him from discovery the Huscarl distracted and insulted the returning owners, while the Skjaldmey took the kid to safety. Hakon, the landowner comes over some time later, with his foreign guests (one of them a cousin of the King), demanding retribution for yet another insult added to the list. The Wanderer reveals himself a spokesperson for Odin and the foreigners are christians (obviously). There's a fight, the foreigners are defeated and the Huscarl lets the Child slit the throat of the king's relative, both making the kid into a man and ensuring the king's vengance...

    demo #2: I stole the outcome of the first game as setup for the second which is why it probably kicked off a bit sooner. This time we have a Settler a few fjords to the south, with a wife who is not bearing him children and a Cailin lover on the side. The Goði has great things in store for the simple farmer and (being a worshiper of Freya) seeks a way to ensure his progeny. What follows is an endearing familial drama between the two women, both looking for their place in this situation, ending with an polyamorous marriage and two children with a blessing from Freya. On the fringes of this there is a Seiðkona (the Cailin's sister) acting as a go between and provider of herbs (used to both prevent and ensure pregnancies at various junctions) and a Huscarl serving a rich man up north who also desires the Cailin. The news of the killing of the king's cousin reach the valley, applying pressure on the modest Settler to declare his place in the incoming conflict and strike sparks between the two men, one an old gendered warrior the other a peaceful youth. There's also the rich man's son, Floki, a coward seeking to betray them and swear allegiance to the king and his murder of the child from the first game who comes bearing the news of what happened to the north. We wrap up in winter, with the birth of two children and an uncertain future.

    Beyond the Mirror: This is basically Do androids dream of electric sheep? the game by Tazio Bettin. The setup, with some input by the players provides a pretty desperate situation in a very limited physical space (we played on a moving train). You start with a vague memory of something (it has to be the player's memory, which is a beautiful touch) and then by striving to get your goal in the story your memory gets either scarred/blurred or focused. Typically getting your goal means you end up an android, making your achievement rather meaningless. I was playing Anne Esterhazy the assistant of a powerful man, a hard working, ambitious woman, who has made the first and fatal mistake of her carreer, by losing an important briefcase. The train is now crawling with agents trying to find the incriminating documents within, I'm trying to get the briefcase back, a journalist is trying to get me (and/or the briefcase) for a big Pulitzer scoop and the thief is skulking about. I had to leave the game early but I hear it ended all in suicides.

    Murderous Ghosts: I ran a quick game in-between slots for Tazio. I think I'm slowly getting the hang of this game. He said he was really creeped out even if all that happened was a child crawling around a loft and looking down through holes in the floor. I think we played for less than 20 minutes because the ghost ended up murdering the explorer after an unlucky card draw.
  • That's pretty awesome.
    I agree, I am. :D
  • Due to an attendance drop for our regular Apocalypse World game, three of us gave Remember Tomorrow a spin. Joe wrote it up more over on Google+, but from his notes:

    We set it in Detroit, during a senatorial campaign. One of the issues was the possible secession of Detroit, to join Canada, which was secretly under the control of Korea-based Cheon Corp. We had:

    - a tech dude pushing a new way of voting via the nets that he hoped would lead to more engagement, benefiting his senatorial candidate, who was pro-secession. That character had the best outcomes, and would probably have fulfilled his goal if we'd been up for playing another hour or so.

    - a courier who did not do so well. He provided stolen Cheon tech to Nahan's character, and ran afoul of both the corporation and a bunch of inept Russian mobsters. In the end, he put his dreams of becoming a legend on hold to become just another cog in the Russian machine.

    - an androgynous artificial person (a Doll) who the Russians were running as a prostitute. My partner/companian was collateral damage when the Russians put an inept hit on Cheon, and I spent the game running around th streets of Boston, trying to keep from being killed.

    We cut the session (for time/tiredness) before getting to any Exits, but I'm starting to get comfortable with it, and I love how the game creates a series of fragmentary vignettes that weave in and out of each other.
  • Played my first game of Fiasco today using the Gangster London playset. Did not turn out to be too much East End but more upper class. Still turned into the feel that I expected.
    We had four players, all of them experienced role players and members of the same regular group. The rules all worked out but we had to get into the whole making scenes count thing a bit more and some players were reluctant to choose the outcome. The Aftermath was a bit clunky still and not a real montage, but it was fun enough. Took about 3 hours overall, seemed longer while it was going.
    The story turned out to be about a family feud and right wing politicians. A Pakistani ambassador was murdered and fed to the pigs. Tax fraud was investigated in a law firm. A woman lost her hand too. In the end all were worse of than when they started.
  • ... but I'm starting to get comfortable with it, and I love how the game creates a series of fragmentary vignettes that weave in and out of each other.
    I'd be interested to know... were the players consciously making "deals" that pit PC versus PC?
    How many "crosses" did you get (where you rolled doubles or triples) and how prominently did that feature in interweaving stories?

  • A woman lost her hand too. In the end all were worse of than when they started.
    I think you were doing it right!

  • ... but I'm starting to get comfortable with it, and I love how the game creates a series of fragmentary vignettes that weave in and out of each other.
    I'd be interested to know... were the players consciously making "deals" that pit PC versus PC?
    How many "crosses" did you get (where you rolled doubles or triples) and how prominently did that feature in interweaving stories?

    We had only one or two deals, and those didn't bring in the other PCs.

    The crosses didn't come up. Not sure if it was because they weren't rolled, or because we weren't paying attention.
  • Just ran a playtest of Crystal Ba'al for Scott Dorward, Jürgen Mayer, and Gary Bowerbank.

    It's a game of medieval fantasy designed for Google+ Hangouts.

    Premise: Four mages at four different towers are communicating with each other via crystal ball and scrying pool and astral projection and so forth. I was the Grey Wizard, the head of the Council -- the game's GM. The others played a Summoner, a Druid, and a Necromancer.

    Our four realms were under siege by the undead. Furthermore, a Faerie Prince had led an army of elvish warriors to besiege the Summoner's citadel. The Druid had lost control of the ambulatory carnivorous plants in his garden, and they were laying siege to the people of his kingdom, and the Necromancer's apprentice had taken to the infernal lands by a demon.

    The four of us were in full-blown crisis mode from the moment play began, and as we worked to help each other, cracks began to appear in the foundation. The Necromancer tried -- and failed -- to halt the spread of the undead plague in the Druid's realm, and shortly thereafter, the Druid discovered that the Necromancer was a traitor to his own order: he'd murdered the former High Necromancer and taken his place. Distrust and accusation ensued.

    I was able to deploy an Obsidian Golem from the Anvil Mountains to find and kill two halflings that sought to defeat the Summoner with some magical ring -- I sent him their heads as a gesture of peace after it was revealed that I had betrayed the Council five years earlier, during the Red Harvest. It wasn't enough for the Necromancer, who accused me of a blatant power grab, or the Druid, who cursed me for not having the leadership skill needed to guide the Council through this time of conflict. The Summoner alone was pleased, because I was able to save him, ensuring that at the end of the game, he alone would survive.

    Ultimately, the Necromancer tried to steel himself (and his gore-encrusted apprentice, recently rescued from the torments of the Abyss) for battle against the ever-hungry undead, but they were both devoured. The Druid's realm, once green and fertile, was laid to waste by the demons that the Summoner had sent (in vain) to defend against the Faerie Prince's legions. Bitter and alone, the Druid damned us all before his crystal ball went dark. I blamed the other three for their incompetence as the ghouls swarmed my chamber and tore me apart. The Summoner stared into his orb, puzzled. "Brothers? ... Are you there? ... No? ... Then it appears there is a new Grey Wizard," he said, chuckling.

    We stayed in character the whole time.
  • Panty Explosion Perfect.

    One of the girls has a goal of "Chasing those hooligans out of my fathers store." She has a scene with the boys where she discovers the boys already causing trouble, harassing and old woman, drinking beer and destroying magazines that they haven't paid for. She gets the upper hand, but then the Demon comes out from the bathroom and surveys the situation. He is pale, but styled. He has ladder shades, and a long leather coat with a popped collar. His very presence emboldens the hooligans, and he hypnotizes the girl into paying him for the damages instead.

    The candidate for class presidency is giving a great, rousing speach, but her rival (the least popular girl in school) stands up to support her and therefore screw her over). Our candidate commands her loyal army of ninja schoolgirls (army is a bit on an exageration... there were only four of them, but still) to rapel down from the ceiling and abduct the girl. In an instant she is secreted into the rafters and unable to harm the candidate's race.

    The demon sees this (as he followed one of the girls back to school) and snaps his fingers. Suddenly the ninja schoolgirls all have ladder shades and popped collars. They dance "Gangnam style" our of the cafetorium.
  • Lady Blackbird

    The Lady was the first player to roll anything, so all the players were watching closely. But it was totally cool. She decided to cast a spell, and to keep it hidden (so she could nab some Exp). I set the difficulty pretty high, but she made it work and it was cool.

    Fast forward a bit, the crew is out of their cages, near the bottom of the Hand of Sorrow. Cyrus and the Lady are trying to shout down the prison guards. The alarm hasn't been tripped, but the guards are still the only ones with actual weapons at the moment. Cyrus blows his roll, and the guards recognize him. They begin to gloat about how much they'll enjoy "re-capturing" Cyrus, and how much Cyrus will be rewarded for "coming back to the empire" with these new informants to torture, gesturing to the rest of teh crew.

    The Lady decides it's no time to pretend. She intends to channel the storm, which is literally 40 feet below them, through the floor to disable the guards. She gathers plenty of dice, and since she's not trying to hide anything, I set the difficulty at 3. She rolls 2 successes on 8 dice.

    The Blue swirls at her call, and her blood cools to be at one with it, hair waving like whisps and motes of electric dust around her arms as she gestures. A small bolt leaps from her fingers, and synchronized, a large blast moves from the storm below. But instead of going up into the guards, it fires downward...

    The Lady herself might not know, but the terrified guards know. The sound that followed was that of a wounded Sky Squid.

    I tell the Lady to mark "Hunted. The Squid totally knows it was you that did it."
  • Not exactly bite-sized, but hey, it's a Fiasco.
  • Yeh, I don't remember seeing any crosses-by-the-numbers, but we were doing it all by ourselves anyway (like, we all intentionally had our characters have something to do with each other from the beginning, and we all used opportunities to relate a Factions action to what we had just seen them do to/with another character)

    My understanding of the rules is that Deals HAVE to be with a Faction. We did have scenes that started out as confrontations (or whatever they're called), but were actually more Make A Deal scenes.
  • World of Dungeons last night, with characters converted from Adventurer Conquerer King, using an unholy combination of Marshall Miller's "Goblin Hole" dungeon starter and the old TSR Caves of Chaos. That's like a four-game mashup!

    My assassin and Joel's craft priest enter the first cave we see. Moments later goblins are all over us and the craft priest is dead as Jackie Coogan and my guy is running for his life. Back in Fort Blackwater he rounds up a really potent wizard, heals up, and back they go! They sneak in a back way and kill some ogre and get a pile of loot and scarper off back to town to buy more gear to take the fight to the fucking goblins.

    In the mean time the goblins have cowboyed up - alarm dogs, spiked log traps - and when we full-on assault them once again it is a bloody rout with a cavern full of panicked birds in the dark - the wizard is gets his throat cut and is enslaved and once again my poor assassin goes back to town alone.
  • Last night we shelved Ryuutama for the week in order to play the Spartacus: Blood and Sands board game.

    It's got so much social and political maneuvering that you'll find yourself role-playing. If you loved the show, you'll love the game.

    My full mini-review:
  • ... that Deals HAVE to be with a Faction.
    Which is true. But often players will force that deal to have some element in conflict with another PC.
    "Help us take our turf back from this drug pusher." "Go and put the hurt on this shopkeeper who won't pay protection." "Steal this nano-tech from Creiger Corp with this key card." "Work this new ronin in town into a blind alley so we can take him down."

    I'm wondering if that kind of thing evolved organically, or if it would have felt forced in your game.
  • Oh, it probably would have evolved organically. We didn't really get to that point in that session.
  • Ran that World of Dungeons game: that shit is tight. Two PCs versus a cave full of goblins that know the place is not a pleasant situation for anyone. Sneaking up and stabbing the heck out of a sleeping ogre -- that is where it is at.
  • Last night, played ACKS ( with King-level characters, trying out the new battlefield combat rules. We took a mighty beating from a death priest and his enormous army of hobgoblins and wolf riders. My barbarian warlord's bard watched the battle from atop a cliff so he could record the glory of it. When it started to go south, he pulled out his wand of polymorph and aimed it at an enemy commander, attempting to turn him to green slime. The wand backfired, and the poor bard got to spend the entire battle as a semi-sentient corrosive substance.

    My barbarian warlord, highly resistant to puny magic spells, rolled a 1 on his save vs. the death priest's finger of death spell. Sad times were had by all. The system was super-fun, though.
  • Played another game of Fiasco. In the Boomtown setting. A chinese druglord controlled the whole town being the taxman and owner of the telegraph. He made the wrong guy sheriff though and in the end it all ended with a player caused trainwreck destroying the town and most people dead. Also an NPC turned out to be married to three player characters.
  • edited September 2012
    Atomic Robo RPG Playtest:

    After the giant fungus dinosaur stomps their Tesladyne SUV flat, one Action Scientist rolls to add an advantage, succeeds with style and places two aspects: Primed to Explode, and Perfect Air/Fuel Mixture on the smoldering SUV. Then the next Action Scientist rolls against the monster's resolve and adds the aspect: Standing Over Ground Zero, as he taunts the colossal creature into chasing him over the wreckage. The last one tags these three, his Reckless Abandon and Here Comes Science! aspects, as he flips open his lighter and tosses it under the mycological monster.

    Large explosions are always appropriate at the end of Atomic Robo adventures.
  • Various quotes from last week's Kerberos Club, Fate Edition game:

    Alice: I do have one more appointment at Worth's.

    Victor: Oh, You've finally got them to make that dress in black?

    GM-as-Generic-Worth-Employee: We're Worth's. We don't do black!

    Alice: As I said, I have one more appointment at Worth's.

    Sophronia, the Clockwork Fairy: We can get black shoe polish, Alice.

    Victor: It would smell -- oh, but you wouldn't notice that, Sophronia.

    Later, as Alice encountered a dead body and was joined by the rest of the PCs and an NPC ally or two:

    Alice: Oh, good, I'm glad you came. I'm not very good with dead bodies.

    I forget the context, but I love this line:

    Sophronia: Yes, I'm aware of how prepositions work, Father.
  • One of the Fiasco sessions at the Escapist Expo revolved around a purebred corgi valued at $10,000, which probably exceeded the median income of the town in which it lived. At the Tilt they chose "something precious is on fire" which, well, lines and veils. The corgi was heavily insured.
  • Our World of Dungeons game: The wizard, a prisoner of the goblins in the Caves of Chaos, is tortured into revealing the True Name of one of his demons to the goblin sorcerer-chieftain. His partner, the assassin (me), goes back to Fort Blackadder and rounds up a hard-hitting crew of hirelings to rescue the wizard, not even knowing about the goblin's magic-wielding boss. We attack! It is somewhat insane. Our archer-specialist almost dies and runs away. Our man at arms, who has a personal grudge against the goblins, goes nuts and starts killing all the goblins in their faces. My assassin sneaks around to the sorcerer's room to rescue his buddy. The evil goblin chieftain springs a trap and seals the two of us in his room while he deals with our hireling. The man at arms kills him all right, but not before the goblin, with his last breath and a really hard move, summons the wizard's demon to possess the man at arms' kill-crazy beefcake body. So we finally open the blocked door and have a bigger problem.
  • In Kerberos Club Fate, folks took a ship from Paris back to London. At the Captain's Table, the PCs were introduced to a man who claimed to be the long lost Lord Ashenbert, who was lavish with his praise for the ladies, including Sophronia, the 9-inch clockwork fairy, telling her that, no doubt, the realm of Faerie was less bright with her absence from it.

    Gregory (a shapeshifter who's trying to court Sophronia): I'm halfway between challenging him to a duel and taking notes on this shit.

    Sophronia: I was very shiny. I had polished myself.

    The PCs do not, of course, entirely trust the fellow.

    Sophronia: Do you know, I am not sure his story is true

    Alice: He hasn't given us a story -- he's given us a shipping manifest.

    Sophronia: If he isnt Lord Ashenbert, your cousin doesn't want you to flirt with him

    Alice: But if he is, she does want me to flirt with him.

    Absolutely true. Mind, when Alice finally returned to London and talked to her other cousin, Winston, who a) controls her money and b) is quite concerned about her gallivanting around endangering her reputation, said that if she absolutely had to go off again, this time to Africa, well, if she didn't have anyone she thought worthy of her hand, while he wanted to marry someone else, he was quite prepared to make the sacrifice of marrying Alice.

    Alice is currently torn between the not quite trustworthy supposed Lord Ashenbert and the honorable-in-his-fashion, yet totally unsuitable sex magician, Lord Mace.

    Meanwhile, Sophronia wanted to know if she were as pretty as her living Daguerreotype.

    Gregory (at once): Not even a little.

    Sophronia (relived): Oh good.

    Victor: Not to mention she's not in color.

    Gregory: Damn, I was just about to say she's a pale imitation.

    And, we decided that Sophronia's creator had to be kept focused on his current task.

    Someone; We do not want a repeat of the earthworm stretcher!

    I am still trying to figure out why one would want an earthworm stretcher.
  • edited September 2012
    Ran the latest (v0.2) version of Dragon World Hack. Lot's of fun was had by all! There were pirate ships (it was "Talk Like a Pirate" day after all), a visit to the shadow realms (which were surprisingly reminiscent of the Hollywood version of Prohibition Chicago), and then a trip to the Sheela the Pirate Queen's capital to rescue the Lord of Shadows from Sheela's clutches.

    The story threads are really the killer app of the new release, giving the Dragon Master a whole heap of instant story to work with. After the session ended, I realized I never gave out any clues nor required any McGuffins. I'm beginning to wonder how necessary they are to the game.
  • Dungeon World, we made characters.

    Lenore, our Cleric
    Dodge, our Thief
    Galadiir, our Wizard
    and Lily, our Bard

    Bonds are super cool! Through bonds we learned that:

    Galadiir believes Dodge to be important to future events. Lily has been singing Dodge's praises long before she's met him, and Lenore wants to convert a thief (not just any thief, but the legendary 'Dodge') to her church.

    Lenore is constantly having to save Lily. Dodge stole something from Lily that she doesn't know (she's likely blinded by the tales of Dodge's epic escapes.) And Galadiir just "knows" that Lily is keeping something secret from him.

    Galadiir doesn't trust Lily, and he probably shouldn't. Dodge knows that Lenore has his back... this and more!

    It even bled into our equipment. One of the Bard options was "a fiddle that has never been played." So, problem solved. Lily carries that fiddle everywhere, but she hasn't played it yet. Soon as she got it, the bow went missing, and her Bardly sense of an Epic tells her that she musn't play the fiddle with a different bow. Little does she know, it was Dodge what stole it. Why? When? We want that to "evolve from play" later on.

    Cool, huh? There is excitement before we even start.
  • The story threads are really the killer app of the new release, giving the Dragon Master a whole heap of instant story to work with. After the session ended, I realized I never gave out any clues nor required any McGuffins. I'm beginning to wonder how necessary they are to the game.
    I use MacGuffins a decent amount, but it entirely depends on what kinds of NPCs the DM puts in the game. I'm most likely going to use your idea of letting players trade a Clue for +1 forward, since it'll make all the clue mechanics useful even when a foe doesn't have MacGuffin protection, and it's just really neat.

  • Galadiir, our Wizard
    Every time someone chooses one of the "double i" elf names, my heart does a little dance.

  • Silver & White

    Riley is having her little meltdown. She's still not over Theo, she's still convinced Tiffany and Theo hooked up last night, she's still feeling sort of drunk, she's still not processed the fact that there's a body upstairs.

    Riley sits down on the stairs. Tiffany sits next to her, cradling her in arm. Riley sinks into the touch. She looks up at Tiffany, who's looking away. Tiffany's craned neck fills Riley's sight. Riley leans in and kisses that neck. There's a pause, and then they're making out.

    "Riley kisses the same way she does everything in life: she tries to follow other people's leads, and then she gets frustrated when her needs aren't being met." They kiss hard for about thirty seconds, and then abruptly stop. Riley looks up the stairs. "I should probably, uh, go check on Theo." Mood dead.
  • Burning Wheel: Magical Cops in the City of Freeport.

    Most of the first session was watching our heroes look for a missing spellbook and interrogate some old men. This session, though, we got to see them off-shift, going home to their secret lovers, aging mothers and one character passing out on the couch in her office out of pure exhaustion.

    What they say about the whole gonzo/mundane thing is true: in a world of spells and craziness and stuff, the most interesting part to me was one character saying "No, sweetheart, you can't stay over tonight. I'm just too tired."
  • Monsterhearts!

    So our teenagers have learned that one of the teachers is a night hag, preying on the students of school. Naturally, having watched entirely too much TV as a kid, Benedict, the ghost, decides that it's up to him to solve things and save the girl that is their history teacher's current target, hoping to also help put the ghosts of her former victims to rest! Sadly, bringing along Jennifer, his werewolf girlfriend, complicates matters. "Are you guys sure? I mean, night of the full moon, and you're bringing along your werewolf girlfriend? TO THE HOSPITAL?"

    "Eh, I'm a teenager, I'm not necessarily making responsible decisions here."

    Needless to say, several people died, including Jennifer and their monster-hunting NPC buddy (who's dad is a cop, no less), and the drummer in Benedict's band got kind of severely mauled.

    But, teenager! So it's cool, right?

    ("Tell them the possible consequences and ask" will always be my favorite MC move, regardless of which apocalypse-system I'm running.)
  • edited September 2012
    Some old D&D version:

    A slightly modified Dyson's Delve. The party of 3 has about 10 hirelings of different vocations. They stop before a dark scary alcove where it looks like someone has been trying to conceal a puddle of blood. They contemplate for a while and a wandering monster party of goblins walk in to them. Reaction roll is 11! They talk for a while about the dungeon and the goblin's war against the cult living several levels below and agree to cooperate. But first, search the scary alcove! A ghoul was lurking there listening to their conversation but they slew it on one mighty stab of a spear. The ghoul is decked out in a couple of thousand gps worth of loot and now a much more tense and hostile discussion erupts about how to divide the loot. The party can easily overtake the goblin party but they don't want to lose the alliance. Eventually they agree that since the ghoul was on the very border of the goblin territory they get half.
  • edited September 2012
    - the assassin-characters are sent to the neighbor kingdom, with orders to find out if the neighbors are planning a war on their realm. On their way they gets a premonition; You must choose between love and death!

    Later: a thief is caught, with the money-bag of a character. He surprise them all by declaring his love for her! They quarrel, in several scenes, but ends up in bed. He disappears.

    Half a year later: she is pregnant, and participate in a royal ball. The thief is there! Suddenly; in the middle of the dance-floor! (or course) He is shocked by the pregnancy, but when he understands that it is his child, he is over himself with joy!

    Later in the ball, when they are called in before the queen, he is there too, as the queens spy! They talk with her, and talk about their premonition; love or death? Inspired by their premonition the queen asks their advice, in a very delicate matter;
    - I have planned to kill my husband, the king, tonight. He is planning a war against your kingdom! I want peace! But you talk of the necessity of choosing between love and death ... so, please advice me; should I kill the king and take power, or should I tell him all about my plans, ask his forgiveness, promise him my support, and beg for him to choose peace?

    What ensues is a discussion of power, love, and the necessity of murder to prevent war. A discussion on two levels;
    - between two lying and thieving and murdering lovers, with a child on way ...
    - and on the level of compassionate or cynical statesmanship, with muddled loyalties ...

    No easy way out on either level! ;)
  • Played Viewscream with Rafael, Kerra and Keith. My engineering officer fell in love with the ship's AI, which resulted in an awkward "it's not you, it's me" moment as the AI depressurized herself.
  • ViewScream: Mother's Milk

    Our starship (Mother's Milk) was in all kinds of trouble. The ship's A.I (Mother) had gone antipathic and tried to kill us with some xenopathogen. Then when that didn't work, it took the NavSys offline and crashed us into space debris. Our rescue beacon was picked up by the Yukaghir (hostile aliens), who deployed hunter-killers to our location.

    The four of us (Bridge, Medical, Weapons, and Engineering) tried to work together to resolve our issues. Medical's rebreathers were offline, and he was in danger of suffocation. Engineering couldn't get anything done until the Bridge (that would be me) activated the ENG-225 switch, which I didn't want to do, because there was quantum interference all over the command deck, which had turned the Captain and First Officer inside out, so I refused to go out there, and spent the whole game clutching a remote terminal from inside an escape pod, too chicken to leave without the others. The Weapons Officer was freaking out because her entire crew was infected with the xenopathogen -- lesions, emissions, that sort of thing. Just a bad situation overall.

    One by one, we managed to get these issues resolved, but along the way, Engineering (who was acting in an increasingly suspicious manner) discovered that Medical had piggybacked a subspace signal along the distress beacon, alerting the murderous Yukaghir to our location. Not long after that, Medical discovered that Engineering had reactivated Mother after we shut the A.I. down. In fact, Engineering duped me (the Bridge) into doing his dirty work for him, because he convinced me to activate the ENG-225 switch remotely -- which brought Mother back online and allowed her to lower our hull shields. Which meant that the ship was about to implode.

    Despite one crew member going insane and falling in love with Mother (that would be Engineering) and another betraying us to violent xenomorphs (Medical, who tried to justify it by citing the aliens' advanced technology), three of us were able to survive the scenario, making our way aboard escape pods and blasting ourselves into space.

    No one knows what happened to Engineering.
  • The Yukaghir technology had the capability to cure all human illness! What are the lives of one starship crew compared to the well-being of all humanity? You have to cut to cure!

    Great writeup, Rafael. I was thinking of how to summarize all that and it was just so intense I had no idea how to put it together. Plenty fun. Interested in trying other VARPs now.
  • It's a boardgame with a certain amount of role-playing!

    My friend's report from coming over to play the new Starz Spartacus board game, currently one of my favorite board games ever (even after 4 games!):


    Just got back from Andy K's place. We spent the day playing the new "Spartacus" board game, inspired and licenced from the TV series of the same name.

    I would say that I'm impressed with it but that would be a severe understatement. If you dig games that are both tactical and social (like the trading aspect of Settlers of Cataan) then Spartacus is a perfect hybrid of the two. You will need to co-operate with your fellow players to pull of schemes that are too complex for one player to do on their own and then you need to out-maneuver them in the gladitorial arena. If you can only accomplish one or the other you will suffer for it.

    Most importantly, every aspect of the game is fun. It's not a tactical game with a social bit tacked on nor is it a social game with the tactical bit added after the fact. The game seamlessly combines both aspects and keeps every moment tense. Just when you think you have things sewn up and the win in the bag, your opponent plays a dirty scheme or makes a surprising move in the arena you can find yourself on the bottom of the heap again real fast.

    Get it, play it, keep it in your collection.

    We played two games: There are three "modes": Short, Medium and Long. To help the others understand the game, we played the Short version which lasted exactly two rounds (and about one hour). We ate lunch, came back and played a Long game, which took us about 4 hours but was SO SATISFYING. People rose and fell in favor until finally the House of Batiatus crushed us all.

    If you like games with social aspects, it's got it in spades. Everything you do can be traded/bought/sold. If you liked the TV show, you'll love this game: The board centerpiece is the "gladiator arena", but the fighting--like in the show--is nothing more than a vehicle for social maneuvering. It's not a game about gladiator fighting, it's a game about social maneuvering, where gladiator fighting is a big vehicle for it.

    We were playing with my friend Travis' copy, who got it at GenCon: I already pre-ordered mine and can't wait for the official release day.

  • Monsterhearts last night.

    After he killed a cop, our Ghoul got a new body and doesn't remember his werewolf girlfriend, in fact he has a new one we've never met. Our werewolf (me) wolfed out on his dad but he just keeps on ticking, and in the meantime she becomes more resentful and violent. Our Fae seduced our Selkie and they made cute young boy love in the springtime faerie lands, despite the fact that the Fae wears a promise ring. We all made promises to the Fae that we wouldn't let each other kill anyone else, and his power over us all grows. Our Selkie went all darkest self and summoned a beast from the ocean that stole our new Ghoul, leaving us searching, horrified, on the edge of the dark watery unknown.

    School starts in three days.

  • Andy -- I am very excited about the Spartacus game. I am a big board gamer and a huge fan of the Spartacus TV show. Not that I'd necessarily get any old board game based on a TV show I like, since most of those licensed-property games are not that great. But I've heard many good things about the Spartacus game. I pre-ordered it from the publisher pretty much as soon as they listed it, and I'm glad to know from your post that it has RP/story potentail as well.
  • Tonight's Monsterhearts session could be more or less summed up with a single line:

    "Ixnay on the oomful-of-blood-ray!"
  • World of Dungeons, "mistakes were made" edition - we returned from the Caves of Chaos, at least most of us did, but the wizard's soul now inhabits the body of a hobgoblin concubine. Awkward.
  • edited September 2012
    Four of us played Grace last night, Evan Silberman’s one-page LARP about teenagers growing up.

    Lots of fun (and I think reliving our teenage years was cathartic for most of us). We started with some uncomfortable conversations at a school camp about wet dreams and being ostracized from friends because we hadn’t a period yet. But that quickly moved on to someone discovering a copy of the film Shortbus on their brother’s PC, and all of us watching it together. That film would be a pretty amazing way for teenagers to learn about sex (its difficulties, permutations, and what happiness might actually mean).

    But most importantly, it bonded our characters all together as a group of friends over the course of the game’s seven scenes (which go from when you’re 13 years old to 18). I’ll miss these characters.

    And the post-game conversation and reflections were great too – lots of sharing of our own experiences as teenagers, and which parts of our stories were based on our real lives.

    (Edited to add: Jenni wrote about it here.)
  • edited September 2012
    ViewScream: Madness from the Stars

    The science vessel Emma, which left the Auckland system on stardate 02202.5, discovered an uncharted orbital station (built with 'strange geometry') at sector 479S12643W. Soon after, crew members began to display heightened aggression and acute anxiety. The ship somehow crashed into the station, resulting in severe damage. In the ensuing chaos, over 100 souls were lost, including Captain Johansen, all chief officers, and most of the crew. The four remaining crew members -- Engineering, Medical, Bridge, and Weapons -- tried to escape the ship.

    Engineering nearly panicked when the deuterium rods started to overheat, but Weapons was able to deploy security drones to do the dangerous work of flooding the chamber with coolant. But Weapons had his own problems -- his vision began to fail him, and in a matter of moments, he was completely blind. Medical was able to restore his vision, but amid all the chaos, Engineering discovered the truth -- that Medical had been conducting secret experiments aboard the ship, experiments somehow related to the tentacled horrors approaching our vessel.

    After Medical's secret was discovered, no one wanted to help him, but it was a moot point: he was safe, and headed for the airlocks. Engineering also managed to escape.

    Weapons, on the other hand, was still in grave danger, but seemed oblivious to it. He'd been muttering about hearing "them," nameless entities scratching at the walls. At first, we didn't take him seriously. Then they tore through the walls and revealed themselves. Weapons declined an offer to follow the others to an airlock. He grinned maniacally and said he was going to go with "them."

    Bridge whispered, "They're here. It's not what you think." Then he went dark.
  • Dungeon World.

    Trekking through the sewers tunnels, based on rumors of gargoyles (and where there's gargoyles there's treasure). The four of us had picked up a villager who was wandering the streets after his house burned down. We sent him in first.

    The villager was the first to encounter the tentacles, emaciated, trapped here since some long forgotten flood. The thief and the bard dispatched it from afar, mostly, but the cleric slipped trying to come to the thief's defense, and revealed (and then shattered) a nest of gargoyle eggs.

    Our poor, heroic villager waved that torch, trying to ward off the swarming, angry gargoyles, but was grievously wounded. When the bard went to heal the villager, the recently forgotten tentacles latched onto the noise and strangled the song out of her, sickening her also with it's filth and decay.

    Ancient otherworldly treasure was discovered, and the sewers revealed still more secrets...

    For our first game, it was a lot of fun. It's a gear change to get used to the pacing, the tit-for-tat, the rhythm of the thing, but it's fun. Next session, maps! And perhaps our villager will discover a hero inside him?
  • Dang, I want to play ViewScream again.
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