What did you play this week? (2017)



  • We played The Shab-al-Hiri Roachat story Games Salt Lake City. We had some problems getting the rules down; the two facilitators had to absorb or than rather quickly because they didn't have much time to prepare. We also had a bit of trouble interpreting some prompt cards. Two of our players showed up about an hour late and this made prep even more time-consuming and difficult. Plus, we played with about seven, possibly eight people, which I think was just too much. Anyway we only got done with about one Event, and a couple people lost interest and we just called the game at that point. The other facilitator and I, really like the game and want to play it again. This time will get the rules down better, get set up done quicker and not allow people to be excessively late, and make smaller groups so we can get into the game much quicker. Anyway, it's an interesting game and I definitely want to try to again with a smaller group so that things don't get out of hand, are easier to manage, and the time to please cut down. We certainly would've played in small groups if we would've had the rules are better.
  • edited June 2017

    We got played by the god damned Corsair Council like a fiddle!

    When Grima comes knocking you better have answers. A giant eye peering into your window.

    Jayani and her crew kicks in your door and Ministry’s “Bad Blood” starts blasting. After kicking your ass, she drops off a rolled up carpet and says “take care of this, and we’re square”.

    Azira, gray-haired, leprosy-scarred… seeks out her lover from when they were young, Yufar, and begs for a new chance. His liver is made of stone.

    A teen in way over her head, Ibiala, picks up a sword for the first time and says, without a doubt, “I can do it”.

    Esari, the goblin musician, was the only one to pack food for the trip to a treasure island.

    Tarala just wanted to ask Setara a couple of questions. With her bow. And arrow. In fact, forget about the questions, except: where can I buy a canoe in the middle of the night?

    Session five of my Dramasystem / D&D hybrid!
  • Ran another session of Kerberos II: Machinery of Life, where Ladon and Felicity decided to rescue Dorian before exploring the secret mountain pass. This went well, but does mean that the secret mountain pass will have to wait until the game picks up again, as Dorian's player is traveling for the next 6 months and the rest of us figure we'll wait until the player is back.

  • Actual Play: Our Last Best Hope - The Killer Asteroid - Act 1 - Scene 4 - Taking on the Threat

    I think this scene came out well. It was fun, in part because I got to engage more with the crunchy bits, and also got to engage with the parser (which output is the closest thing I've felt to roleplaying with someone, especially when the phrases pretty much demand no interpretation, or something close to that.)

    Still using the text parser for dialogue and also now for a "Narrator" who might frame the scene. I'm using the the movie transcript text assigned to MIMIC (the MIMIC 'voice') for the Narrator and NPCs in this scene at least.

    I've still had to occasionally dig deeper into the parsed text for phrases that fit the context, especially when the conversations relate to relationships between characters. Chalk that down to the downside of randomness and the contents of the movie transcripts. A well chosen or constructed text to parse might fix this but I'm committed to the texts I assigned.
  • Remember Tomorrow last week (reskinned for fantasy) and A Thousand Years Under the Sun this week.
  • Ben, what was your take on the games?
  • edited June 2017
    Solid session of Carolina Death Crawl, which has been sitting unplayed on my shelf since it came out in 2013. Plenty of depravity and gothic spooks - I was definitely channeling Ben Wheatley (especially Kill List and A Field in England) for my contributions. It's a really cool concept and I would love to see more similar card-based games purpose built for particular kinds of stories.
  • edited June 2017

    Started my side campaign, 1001 Nights Off.

    The idea is other characters, perhaps other cities, perhaps other rulesets, same continuity. For when we have smaller player counts. Two–three players + DM. For extra games (we already did the main CC game this week, Thursday).

    We played Cthulhu Dark. Beggars in Qudra, 1367. (Qudra is the city that’s at war with Hawa in our main campaign.) It suited us very well and my players, one of them had been stoked AF and the other had been very reluctant, they both liked it. I turned Ammot (a weird al-Qadim–monster) part of the life cycle of Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, and I also had that when the cult (the Hand of the Gray Queen) had made the nest for the DYoSN, they had unearthed Hook Horrors (from the 5e MM) and trained them to do their bidding. So there were a mix of different monsters which I was concerned would dilute the horror but eh the session was good!

    I wrote the scenario using the random template generators in Silent Legions, pretty much by the book with two tags, but instead of Silent Legions custom pantheon and bestiary, I used the above mentioned D&D monsters + the DYoSN from Trail of Cthulhu — and the “sample investigation” cues in that book I applied to the scenario that Silent Legions had generated (it just happened to fit very well). I generated a random gross dreamscape in donjon.bin.sh which one of the characters constantly got sucked into when he got insight. Every time, the stinking mire was higher and higher and he carved for longer and longer.

    Then Microscope for the first time. We used Chronicle right away (after a while, I explained “and this and this are the differences compared to vanilla Microscope) and one of the players said”Yeah, but I can see why the exp added these, I like these changes“. (Not saying we’re never going to do vanilla, just that we… really loved Chronicle!)

    We did the story of the party’s boat from the main campaign from before our nakhuda and rubban Kezim bought our zarug (zarug is a type of boat), the Ummuhm. Apparently it got the name 150 years ago, when it was built to contain a wildly rampant djinn!

    It was a wild story with fights against sea monsters, enemy fireball blasting sorcerers, and the Ummuhm was at one point shrunken down to tiny size and put into a bottle! The players wanted to continue this one game of Chronicle, they’re like “there’s so much left to fill in!” We only did two lenses (i.o.w. I, the first legacy, never got to be lens). And, we were so tired. We didn’t do the “this is going to be the last focus” thing either because we thought we would play longer. But we played so wildly. I was jumping around and laughing as the djinn Zobeida and her (also djinn) husband Hafam. I was playing the scenes like kids would play them!

    A lot of our scenes were very short. We’re not used yet to not answering the question right away. Our very last scene we kind of got the knack of it. I understood where the player was going… but it wasn’t explicitly stated.

    OK, one more thing about Microscope. The advice in Explorer is that the stories often aren’t pretty good as linear stories. They feel good at the table but when you tell it in chronological order, it’s often “yeah, of course”. So since I want to write up our 1001 Nights Off games as “tales” for our campaign site, that has been a riddle for me. But… it’s Scheherezade-style! I can go tale in a tale! First tell the story about how Dusty “One-Armed” Karim fled the ship after it being sunk by a fireball spell. Then later tell the story about how he, years prior, added the nickname “One-Armed” in a fight against gawwar samakat (an already established sea monster in our campaign—we paletted it). Then later tell the story about when the ship was in a bottle, then later tell the story about how the ship even had met the djinn Zobeida in the first place etc etc. I can wrap it up in fiction instead of as if it were an AP report, but I can still get the more interesting order rather than the chronological order. Best of both worlds♥

    We were playing slowly because we had been playing an intense game of Cthulhu Dark, then got candy and were learning Microscope, discussing the rules, and also discussing our main campaign, talking about it and things that were going on in it. (Which… is one of my underhanded goals with 1001 Nights Off… to increase the players (including my own) knowledge about the setting, the situation, the genre, the political geography etc).

    Edit: Oh, yeah, palette thoughts. Our palette was pretty… “well, most of these are pretty obvious but we added them just to make sure”-ish. Since we’re playing in a very well defined, established setting, al-Qadim (and, trying to get to know that setting even better is one of the points of 1001 Nights Off). One good addition was gawwar samakat, a sea monster that’s been legendary in one of the PC:s backstory in the main campaign (but who hasn’t shown up in the main campaign yet) through our fanfics about that PC. The fact that it was added made we could discuss beforehand if it would be kosher or not to feature in our Chronicle. Another good addition that another player added was “In this chronicle, the Ummuhm can’t spelljam, but other spelljammer ships can feature”. Very specific and very clear.

    Edit again: Instead of the cards, we used an outline program (I have a pretty souped-up org-mode with my own hacks). I type faster than any of our longhands, so I was taking dictation. We weren’t sure about how good the overview was since we’ve never played any other way. It’s the first time I’ve ever used any sort of digital thing while roleplaying. (We’ve played Fiasco from PDF, which works for me because you only do it during setup, tilt & outcome, not while actually doing the scenes.) But we liked this well enough.

  • A Thousand Years Under the Sun on Thursday with a sci-fi skin; our communities were forming within a Dyson sphere encircling a black hole. In general, map building games aren't my jam since I prefer character-driven games, but I wanted to give it a try since it was mentioned in the thread about world set up procedures. It went well, and the ebb and flow of growing and dying of the elements is a nice touch. There's some basic procedural stuff that's left vague by Matthius (mainly regarding how to go about drawing the initial map, so we borrowed The Quiet Year's/Deep Forest's "each person adds an element" bit,) but overall solid and easy to go through.

    I did a terrible job taking a photo (hope you don't mind me sharing it here, Ben), but here you go:

    Click for full-size image.

    I'm running Session 0 for a 15-ish Session 7th Sea campaign this evening.

    @Dreamer, I'm intrigued by your play of Our Last Best Hope; when I played it with some friends a few months it did not go well...I read that rule book several times, but there were still way too many various pieces to keep track of, and there were several times when were sat there going..."Wait? Why are we rolling?" Maybe I'll have to read your play and give it another shot.
  • edited June 2017
    Played The Devil, John Moulton over the weekend, which we spent at our friends' home in the mountains. It had been on my "try this sometime" list since @NickWedig publicly released it, and our friends who were hosting really liked the elevator pitch, so we chose to play this over a couple other games I'd brought. It was a pretty good game - more of a long one-shot than the "mini-campaign" we were hoping for at first, but a good, satisfactory one-shot.

    4 players, including me as the GM; we drew hands of 6 cards to create characters and I used the full d20 for John Moulton's Way of the Demonic Overlord. There were two betrayal-type secrets between the three PCs: "I'm secretly working to undermine the posse" and "I want to join Devil John not kill him". While some of us really liked creating characters by drawing cards, we found the resulting characters a bit overwrought, with too much backstory at 5 cards each.
    We especially liked the collaborative town-creation method. We played through 2 towns and rolled dice a lot. In the 2nd town, after finding out who the sorcerer was and a first, botched attempt at confronting her, players started hitting their endgames...

    When they went to burn down the sorcerer's poison-making lab (in the abandoned local church), "Jeremiah the Coward" finally showed his true colors and shut his former companions in with the rattlesnakes and raging fire! In the ensuing conflict, Jeremiah's Way of the Bastard ending was triggered and he became a demon.
    Former teenage arsonist "Indian Will" made it out of the burning church carrying the dying "Dead Jack" in his arms and buried him in unhallowed ground, knowing he would eventually rise from the grave come next full moon - then went hunting for Jeremiah the Demon to extract from him the whereabouts of Devil John. "Indian Will" did meet the demon formerly known as Jeremiah, but it had the drop on him and demanded he revealed where Jack was buried, so it could finish the job. In the ensuing confrontation, Will's Way of the Soul ending was triggered and, after struggling free from the demon, he rode back to his home county and confessed his crimes: having atoned for his sins, but keeping the location of "Dead Jack's" body a secret, he eventually died on the gallows.
    In due time, "Dead Jack" rose from the grave. After a second, failed attempt to learn something from the town sorceress - in which he ended up killing her, despite his own scruples against killing - he went on to commit sins which would "recharge" his demonic miracles. In doing so, he confronted a corrupt sheriff, who was actually another of Devil John's many minions, and hit his Way of the Bastard ending. The demon-sheriff told Dead Jack that John Moulton had been watching him and testing him and, together, they rode out into the night on nightmare horses to join the warlock's all-demon posse.
    (John Moulton's Way score was then down to 5 vs an endgame value of 1, no scars)

    We had a lot of fun brainstorming escalations of sin for demonic miracles, though in practice we found it difficult to "calibrate" them. We later reasoned you have to make a price very generic in order for the character to ever get a chance to "pay" it, since players don't frame their own scenes. One of "Indian Will's" demonic miracles - he could start fires through his concentrated gaze - had a price of denying a thirsty man water, but that never came up (despite a player introducing the idea of a poisoned water supply when creating town) and the miracle was never recharged. I guess the problem was with the verb "to deny" - you need something proactive.

  • @Dreamer, I'm intrigued by your play of Our Last Best Hope; when I played it with some friends a few months it did not go well...I read that rule book several times, but there were still way too many various pieces to keep track of, and there were several times when were sat there going..."Wait? Why are we rolling?" Maybe I'll have to read your play and give it another shot.
    The game does have a sort of cheat sheet summary at the beginning, but it's not complete. Maybe after I finish this game, I'll create a step by step cheat sheet for myself (I did the same for Shock).

    Watching Mark Truman Diaz facilitate the game on a youtube video helped a lot, especially seeing how he prompted the players to flesh out the fiction around the Threats. I've still managed to mess up by forgetting to add harm, to reduce the size of the threat, give myself story points, etc.
  • Watching Mark Truman Diaz facilitate the game on a youtube video helped a lot, especially seeing how he prompted the players to flesh out the fiction around the Threats. I've still managed to mess up by forgetting to add harm, to reduce the size of the threat, give myself story points, etc.
    Link? (PM is fine.)
  • With pleasure:

    1. Our Last Best Hope - The Core

    2. Our Last Best Hope -
    Space Mission

    The second one has some audio issues where the sound is completely cut off at random intervals, which is unfortunate. The first one is very good and entertaining, though.
  • Origins!

    Love in the Time of Seið (As always I was the Earl. Nobody wants to be the Earl!)
    A Green and Narrow Bed (My game about grief and revenge, in playtest)
    WINTERHORN (My game about how states abuse power, in playtest)
    Strange Gravity (Jay Treat's goofy sci-fi shared authority larp)
    Durance (as a player!)
    The Devil, John Moulton (Nick Wedig's spooky, devilish western game)
    Ghost Court (As just some guy!)

  • Ran Mutants & Masterminds again. It's become my favorite regular game.

    This session was a setup for a later game. I am planning on a "24" style session where the world pretty much comes down around the players. But I wanted to introduce one of the architects of this, a trickster-assassin named Deathtrap.

    I decided that the mob called Deathtrap in because they want revenge against Maximillian Mars, an industrialist who turned on them and became a benefactor to the Sentinels, the PC hero group.

    I pictured an array of distraction attacks to keep the players busy while he hatches his plot to kill Mars. He did this via a fake villain who made demands (a la "The Mandarin" in Iron Man 3). I wanted to feature one fight for the players, so I made one of the demands of the fake villain to release a bunch of super criminals, and then have a bunch of booby traps go of.

    But the players thought out of the box and decided that they would try to enlist the aid of Dollface (see my last post), a robot with a penchant for faking IDs. I liked this idea, so I rolled with it. But as a consequence, there were no fight scenes, just challenges and capers.
  • edited June 2017
    Took on the Threat of the first scene of Act 2.

    On my prior scene, I messed up another rule regarding effects after a roll. I thought only amounts above 5 or above caused effects. We should have taken harm in some rolls, and the threats should have been reduced further in other rolls. In other earlier scenes, when Black dice were added to the event pool, we should have also gotten story points, but I forgot.

    So, the mistakes all kinda balance each other out in a way that did not give me a massive advantage or disadvantage. Still, it's a bit stupid, because I think I played it correctly before. I need a cheat sheet.

    Despite all that, I feel like I'm warming up to the game again. The incentive to have a character die emulates this sort of material pretty good.
  • Godbound - a one-player game I'm playing with my girlfriend. Godbound and DCC pretty much completely turned me around on OSR (from opposite directions!) It does such a good job of describing demigod powers with a clarity and flexibility that fits rulings-not-rules like a glove, and the Dominion system gives the PCs influence over the world like few other games do -- but like a demigod should.

    My biggest problem with Godbound is that I find prepping for it a lot harder than my other games. The vast power of the PCs means they have the ability to solve just about any problem, much like a narrative game, but unlike a narrative game you don't really want to wrap them in a complex web of consequences.

    But it's going well so far. Right now Tola is working her way through a hostile city full of warped cannibal thralls and giant glutton lords, trying to gather information about the curse that ruined them.
  • Abnormal Things by @Orion Canning. Our Slovenian seaside village, at the beginning of tourist season, ended up devoured overnight by huge, bloodsucking, multicolored moths - actually a manifestation of the ghosts of abused children. Scary.

    It was a good one-shot game. I've tried a lot of games aiming for this kind of horror film-ish structure, including a couple incarnations of Geiger Counter, but this was better than most of them. Although, to be fair, the three of us were a really well-oiled group, having already played Okult (still my favorite), Archipelago (with a very similar small-town horror setup) and a full Everway-hack campaign together over the last year, amongst other things. Compared with Lovecraftesque (also quite similar), that there was a chance of triumphing over the threat - no matter how slim - motivated us to run headfirst into disaster. We'll never look at a butterfly the same.
  • Ben, what was your take on the games?
    This wasn't my first time with either game. I've played Remember Tomorrow a bunch of times.

    We played Mind of Margaret at Story Games Seattle. Bryce Fletcher (not his real name), body double to Hollywood sensation Hank Miller, *wants* to be a real actor, but there's one problem: he can't act. His ultimate achievement becomes starring in a deconstructionist arthaus film that focuses on the dichotomy of his terrible acting and his place as Miller's shadow. Victory..?

    One of the very cool things about Mind of Margaret is that you can play fairly ordinary events in a way that's still very interesting because we're seeing it from the point of view of the conflicting emotions in the protagonist's head.
  • One of the very cool things about Mind of Margaret is that you can play fairly ordinary events in a way that's still very interesting because we're seeing it from the point of view of the conflicting emotions in the protagonist's head.
    Any links?
  • I think Drew is working on a revised version right now.
  • Still chugging along with my solo game of Our Last Best Hope.

    Act 2 - Spotlight Scene 2
    Act 2 - Taking on the Threat

    The combination of game mechanics and parsing movie transcripts still surprises me.
  • edited June 2017
    We playtested my universal story game, Story, at Story Games SLC this week. It was a very good playtest and I learned a lot; I'm creating the next version of the game based on the feedback, etc. I'm very excited about the process and about refining and perfecting the game.
  • I played Troublemakers yesterday, with Jack Reilly playtesting his playset for my game-in-development: Trouble at Chapman Lake had three kids uncovering the existence of lake monsters in their town as they investigated their missing belongings.

    It all ended well with their possessions retrieved from the Giant Turtle that was in hiding as the island in the centre of the town lake and the kids made friends with the younger lake monsters, inducting them into their gang.
  • CW graphic violence, cultural appropriation

    1001 Nights Off! We did Chronicle again. The consensus was (and I was pretty neutral on this) that the crew that started the last chronicle could continue playing it for a while (I was feeling pretty happy with it as it was but there are always more stories to tell about that ship. This time we started telling the story about Setara’s jambiya. Plenty of NPCs from the main campaign figured.

    I was good about not “GM:ing” that part of the game (as per Microscope’s warnings); the ideas the other players had about them really fit in with my view of them.

    But… we ran into problem with people trying to game the system to get more of their own “telling” in.

    I was the first to be guilty of that. I was legacy and wanted to add a dictated scene but I had no event where it fit or even a period where it really fit. So I thought “Maaaaybe it can be tacked onto this event” [really far fetched]. I wasn’t feeling malicious, I wasn’t thinking “hehe I can get away with something”, I was thinking it was fine. But that is how selfish acts are done. “Maaaybe this is fine”.

    I ended up really regretting that.

    It created a lot of contradictions and knots and made it hard for us to place other scenes. When it became untenable, we had a talk about it. We did two things to fix it – we changed it from a dictated scene to an event, and we renamed the period for it to fit. (Yes, so out of place was it that it didn’t even fit in the period!!!)

    It was changed to “Bint digging up the knife from a lonely grave on a Beauty Mark island” and the period’s name was changed from “Setara has the knife” to “Setara gets the knife”. :(

    Both of these changes benefited me… I got more “telling out of it”. OTOH, it was the cleanest fix. But later another player tried a similar thing. He wanted to start an RP scene.

    We already had the event “Bint hears that the knife once cut of the caliphs fingers” and the scene “Bint hears how the knife cut the fingers and summoned efreet from another pirate, hears the directions to find the adventurers that has the knife, but kills the pirate after hearing the directions”.

    I said “I want to add ‘Bint chases after the adventures’ as an RP scene”. (Normally he’s good about doing Question, Setup, Required/Banned, but now he said this.)

    And we were like… “That sounds like an event” but he said “But I want to do it as a scene” and we said “OK, cool, but what event would that be attached to?” and we had this long long frustrating talk about what are scenes, what are events. And we were talking honestly about how we both had been trying to game the system to get more scenes in. (If we were playing with physical cards we might have avoided this argument.)

    Another frustrating “game the system” clash came when I had set a scene and put in: “Required: Spared adventurer. + At least one member of the Blue Roses” and “Banned: Nahua”. So I was last to pick. First the spared adventurer got picked. Then another player (not the same as the one in the last clash) picked “I’m another member of the Blue Roses, heh heh, so you have to be the member of the Blue Roses”. I mean… can you do that? I wanted at least one member of the Blue Roses to be present. And as soon as that’s satisfied, the requirement is satisfied…?! And I can pick freely?

    And that very same scene led to our fourth problem. We knew from playing that the knife was found buried with a body in a lonely grave.

    And I put the question “Why did Bint [the captain of the zarug “The Blue Roses”] spare one adventurer’s life?”, set up “On the lonely island”, and the character requirements above.

    And I had the idea, held pretty loosely, that Bint killed all the others but let one adventurer live for longer, I had no idea why (hence RP scene), but that that adventurer was going to be the body in the lonely grave. But, in order to make the idea looser in my mind, I put out “At least one member of the Blue Roses” instead of “Bint” (who was anchor character for the period btw). But when the “So you have to pick the member of the Blue Roses” trick got pulled, I said “FINE! I’ll pick Bint then. OK? So it’s settled.” And the idea really solidified in my mind.

    And the player of that adventurer really tried so hard to avoid getting put into that lonely grave. And I was thinking “MAN he’s so stubborn, he’s ruining the scene”. In hindsight, of course I was in the wrong there. He was following the rules. The other player, the “another member”, he was thinking, like me, that “oh, so that’s the body in the grave, how satisfying, of course it is”, (To our credit, there was a misunderstanding: the player thought “The question was ‘why did you spare?’ so we need to play the scene so that I’m spared”, while the rest of us, including me, the question poser, thought the question was “Why had this adventurer, who was now about to be killed, been spared up until now?” — To our anti-credit, he is within his right to misunderstand the question like that, willingly or mistakenly. It’s my duty to pose questions clearly and unambiguously, and to roll with the punches when someone finds a “loophole” especially when they find it by mistake) so we started pushing for the adventurer to be killed anyway etc etc. But before we put it to the vote, the adventurer said “Wait. How is killing me answering the question?” and the “another member” saved the day and started asking me, IC as Bint, “Oh, captain, by the way… why did we let her live?” etc etc and we resolved it. And we let it unknown whether or not the adventurer was the body in the lonely grave or not. Phew. Long story over. Sorry.

    We were good about arguing, about being honest about our own bad behaviour and how we felt about the others’ behavior, and we all said “this was a really good session overall and let’s play Chronicle again soon”. The topic drifted to cultural appropriation and al-Qadim and I’m glad that we all said “Yes, it’s a problem, potentially a big problem”. It was a sign that we’re approaching it with open eyes. (It was a longer discussion but this is but a margin!)♥♥♥ [I know I dropped two bombs here, us struggling with learning the Chronicle rules + politics! But. Don’t. Or, rather: new threads! I promise I’ll show up there.]

  • We had another session about the question "Do you know the moment you´d better stop?" in one of my Ars Magica groups. The players knew it. They preliminary fixed the problem, but didn´t attack the boss villain (waiting for times, their mages would be more experienced). They are no heroes, but as long as they discuss the different options it´s o.k. for me.
  • Abnormal Things by @Orion Canning.

    That sounds like an awesome and creepy game, makes me think of the moth-man, and stories with flesh eating bugs that are usually afraid of light. Were the moths attracted to lights? That's even more scary, if you have to be careful not to let them see your flashlight.

    All the games I've played have taken places in America, albeit often strange and remote places in America. I'm curious where you're from and how a Slovenian town might differ from an American one. It's always good to hear from people playing a game I made so thanks a lot for talking about it!
  • Chapters 4 and 6 of Grey Ranks last night, and now I am off to wizard school.
  • Our Last Best Hope - Act 2 - Spotlight Scene 3

    Got a little bit stuck here. Either it's my tiredness or maybe it's a weakness of the transcript or the parser. I think it's how the movie transcripts slant. Scenes where I'm not focusing on personal lives, but rather on the crisis and actions related to it have gone faster and smoother. When the focus is on personal lives and relationships, I've had a harder time finding results I can integrate or riff off.

    Still, it sort of worked out here with the pauses and changes in subject (which provided surprise). Oracle questions also came to the rescue (a last resort for me).
  • Lovecraftesque Alex is a single mom in a small town, working at the local chemical plant. She's been dreaming of her grandfather, who took her from the former Soviet Union when she was just a little girl. Her son has an imaginary friend who lives in a hole in the basement. So how the heck did he find her grandfather's medal from the Great Patriotic War? And is Mr. Giggles Baba Yaga or some nightmare congery of hairless rats? A fun little whirl through weird fiction.

    Masks of Nyarlathotep Caesar the tabby is one of Bast's generals; he can talk, but only Arthur Chamberlain, who is a clear Cultist first-round draft pick, can hear him. Down in Dhashur the Clive Expedition is clearly up to no good, Omar Shakhti seems to be ready to dark sorcery in order to bring back his long-lost love, and the Black Pharaoh has a conversation with the Investigators in the Bent Pyramid. Can they escape to Kenya with the whole of the Egyptian cult on their tails?

    The Unanswered Question, my Tatters of the King 1950s remix. The Investigators finally reach Bolivia hot on the trail of the Soviet mission to bring the King to Earth. In Oruro, the Diablada has a special guest star in tattered yellow robes; the Stranger tells Temperance she will dance before all this is over; and everyone seems to chant "El Rey" whenever Candace is around. (And none of the other Investigators have noticed she's pregnant.) On the Uyuni Salt Flats, Temperance and the Rev have a final duel; there's a crucifixion involved, and the loss of a dream-companion. Charleston confronts his darkest self over mate, and at Condor Station some Odessa graduates attempt to off the Investigators. Now on to Potosi...or Leng...
  • Vampire the Masquerade. Third play session of our story.

    Paul, I'm thinking of a good way to fill you in as you asked about it.
  • edited June 2017
    Paul Taliesin, David Berg, Jonathan and I played Inconceivable!, which is a game that Paul Taliesin is designing. It is an interesting game and I will probably post a write up about it and some feedback and ideas regarding the playtest when I get an opportunity. I definitely want to play the game again. The approach Paul is taking to designing the game is unique and campaign they've got going is very interesting.
  • edited June 2017
    We just played a game of Follow at Story Games SLC. It was a really cool and interesting game. We were a faction of English spies who were attempting to assassinate a Chinese strong man who had been prompt up by the English crown in exchange for providing the empire with Chinese resources. The Chinese strong man was very vicious and we were acting covertly against the will of our own crown and benefactors in an attempt to assassinate him. The session was frustrating being that we again had trouble getting on the same page regarding tone. This isn't a game issue, it is a recurring issue we have faced regardless of the game we played. A few of us have wanted to play a session with a serious tone, we have stated this in the beginning, and everyone has agreed to a more serious tone, but at some point the story tone goes off track and gets silly and lacks verisimilitude. Tonight we got about halfway through the game and a player who typically likes whimsical games started doing things like just randomly throwing dynamite at people. He just got obsessed with blowing things up, because that's what's fun to him. We have great games a lot of the time, but some of us really want to scratch the itch and have a serious session and it just doesn't seem like we've been able to find a way to do it, even when we've been explicit and forward about what we've wanted and reached agreement and consensus prior to the session. Even when we try to drop polite hints and try to reel someone back in. It seems that one or two people just don't seem capable of playing a serious game. Not a game without humor, just a game in which the dramatic tone isn't broken with absurdities. We don't want a serious game all the time but we do want the ability to have one, so it's been frustrating for a couple of us.

  • @Jeff_B_Slater my suggestion to you is: try to act a stronger host and curate the group of players. I don't suggest you compromise SG SLC by doing so: having an open table in a public space is wonderful. Rather, select a few players who you believe really want a change of tone and invite them to play a game together in a private space, on a different night. Think of that as "the next stage". Scheduling will be the hardest part, but do try.
  • (For what it's worth, I agree that "picking the right team" is a big part of getting the right tone or creative consensus. I'm always thinking about that when I put together a game, and I think it's really key. However, game design can accomplish a lot of that as well. Jeff, I know you love the game, but from what I've seen of it, Follow does very, very little to help people get on the same page and stay there! Even Fiasco does a lot more to help people get on the same page. It might help to consider the needs of the group and lean on games which give them more of that.)
  • edited July 2017
    Thanks for your great suggestions, Rafu and Paul :smile: I don't want to derail the tread with my issue, so I sent you message Paul. :smile:
  • Hi all, I played Monsterhearts 2 - story details are on my gaming blog, hollowsandhobgoblins.wordpress.com. It started as just a one-shot, but everyone got into the story and wanted to continue. The rules for the most part worked fine, but players had a bit of trouble sometimes interacting with NPCs - there's no "manipulate NPC" rule anymore, so you have to either turn them on or shut them down - if you weren't trying to kill them or run away :)
  • edited July 2017
    Played Corsair Council, session 6. Least good session so far, yet we all decided to keep the campaign going.

    Standard 2097-style dungeon crawl (which in itself is good), but, slow and plodding due to two out of four players being sleep deprived and also (perhaps tiredness-induced) language barrier. One player constantly asking things that have just been stated. The other mostly spacing out, staring silently before answering.

    We kept to the precendece cards even though it was all dungeon. As a guideline, I used 40 diegetic minutes, 15 extradiegetic minutes, or one major room or dramatic exchange.

    Drama, we had way fewer real drama scenes, maybe three or so (but I've made a point out of not judging the value of proceducal vs dramatic — the player who's turn it is chooses).

    The problem was the slowness of the procedural. The puzzles were difficult but they dealt with them.

    Oh, and this started our first foray into one of the Yawning Portal dungeons. Looks good so far. As a curious aside, one of the 2e monsters that I've converted from one of the CotGS dungeons showed up in an official 5e version. So unbelievably nerfed. But, lower xp accordingly, so that's fine.

    Overall, I'm happy about the campaign and we already have NO-sessions scheduled this week also.

    Edit: It sounds like I'm putting all the blame on the two tired players (we were four players + 1 DM = total). I should add that my slowness in parsing the wordy room descriptions in the YP book was just as big a problem.
  • I played PSIRUN. It was very elegant!
  • Kingdom at Story Games Seattle.

    When the new Archbishop of the Church of England forbids contracts binding demons to work on Sundays, the senior partner of our firm has an inspirational meeting with one of the founding partners (whose ghost haunts our office). He gets in touch with his inner lawyer, remembers why he started practicing demonic contract law in the first place, then goes all Phoenix Wright “OBJECTION!” and sues the Church in court.

    Which is a beautiful moment of character growth. And then the mob comes for us.
  • edited July 2017
    1001 Nights Off, this time starting a new subcampaign (as always, in the same timeline / era / continuity as CC) using the Dogs in the Vineyard ruleset.

    Mamluks, w swords instead of guns and tattoos instead of coats. We sort of mixed the roles a bit too much, giving the mamluks farisans abilities to drive off efreet. I ported over a lot of the same concepts; such as them being fresh-faced teens, combined mailmen+religious police etc. They were part of the al-Wajid section.

    For the law we used the very detailed code in the Land of Fate boxset, adhering to the rule that the GM shuts up as the players and their PCs make the calls. We skipped all that 'gender roles' stuff, let's hope the game works anyway. Even with endoqueer relationship problems such as 'just pretending to love someone' or 'wanting to leave someone'. But yeah, there's a lot less to work with :neutral: The original DitV setting is about patriarchy to a great extent. (I know there are Jedi hacks etc so I don't think it's integral to the game.) Weird, the original AA book presents a patriarchal world but the tone quickly changed in the boxsets that followed (men in niqab, polyandry etc), and I'm grateful for that.

    I'm going to reread the rules after the session because there were some "huh… not sure how this part works"–moments. How often to roll demonic influence etc.

    And, one player wanted to make an inner conflict about whether or not he could bring himself to execute a killer. Which I thought would've been supercool to play out but I didn't know where I would've gotten the dice? It wasn't initiation, it was mid town.

    Also, we didn't finish the first town. We were too tired, or, I was. Even though we had only played for two and a half hour or a little longer than that.

    We are going to give the game more of a chance with the same characters. And are witholding review until then.

    Ofc, a lot of what DitV presents as new, such an "GM, you are not allowed to have a solution in mind", are standard to us. But some things were new even to us. Like the fact that it's not a mystery/exploration game. The cards are supposed to come out on the table and I tried the best I could with that.

    Edit: just to be clear, we are playing it RAW except for the changed setting. I know for example "rolling for talking / convincing" is anathema in my own designs including CC, but in Cthulhu Dark and esp in DitV, we do use these rules.
  • edited October 2017
  • We had Birmingham Indie Games #4 at the Geek Retreat today and I MC'ed a game of Monsterhearts for four players (plus one latecomer who happily played one of the antagonists as an autonomous character).

    The usual twists and turns ensued as we zeroed in on the meat of the plot, which culminated in an epic werewolves vs. androids battle in the school grounds after midnight! I thoroughly enjoyed it and had the pleasure of introducing two new players to the joys of PbtA games, one of whom seemed keen to purchase and run the game himself for some online play on Discord.
  • Played Clank by Tim C. Koppang while on a train ride on Thursday.
  • Played Lovecraftesque with a group of five players; we had a fairly delightful spiraling-out-of-control narrative despite differences in style between the players.

    (I'm not convinced we handled the endgame portion correctly, that said. Putting everything together for the finale felt difficult; quite a creative challenge.)

    Having the Watchers are "off-screen helpers" for detail and scenery was helpful.
  • I was at Dexcon 2017 so I played a lot of games...

    Time Capers, with Kat Miller
    Dogs in the Vineyard, GMed by the amazing Saraphina
    With Great Power GMed by our own Bill White
    The Lady Blackbird, a Lady Blackbird in the Caribbean hack GMed by the sublime Jeff Collyer
    Noir World, facilitated by author John Adamus
    Witch, the Road to Lindisfarne facilitated by myself
    Masks, GMed by our Queen, Kat Miller
    The Watch, GMed by the ever-cool Shane Liebling
    Tales From the Loop GMed by Jeff Collyer
    Montsegur 1244 facilitated by myself
    Psi*Run, chased by Shane Liebling

    There were no bad games in that mix, but for me the standouts were Lady Blackbird and the Watch.

    In the games I facilitated, Witch had a couple of interesting takes: our Armond was very much a middle-manager type illustrating the banality of evil, and our Hayden apparently never went on the crusades because he was busy burning heretics at home. (I played the nun, and wrote an absolution scene for her that I'm pretty happy with.)

    Montsegur had a very interesting mix of primaries, with the Amiel/Faye/Arsende triangle working as the engine of the game. I was pretty satisfied with my weary and disillusioned Pierre-Roger--in the opening prologue, he was rather cold-blooded in telling a wavering Garnier that the inquisitor had to die, but subsequently I played him as destroyed by that murder, his confidence wrecked by that act of murder.

    This was a terrific con, and a great time meeting awesome people and catching up with my friends from previous cons.
  • We played the fifth of our 1001 Nights Off, continuing the Dogs in the Vineyard subcampaign.

    Writing this part ahead of posting the post-play report tonight because I just finished prep for the second town.

    Using some story cubes, the al-Qadim hierarchy of sin (Fortunes & Fates pp 16-17), and a random NPC generator, and relying on my experience running Sine Nomine style tag-mashups as a guide for what feels “grabby”, I was done in a few minutes. Also hooked in some existing NPCs from the main CC game. The end result was a much more focused town and one that looks like it’s going to feel a lot more true to our take on al-Qadim.

    I used the aQ sin hierachy and the NPC generator last time as well, but this time I felt more sure about the process and it went faster and looks better. Just like how the first time I’m walking somewhere new in the city, it feels like it takes ages because I’m unsure “is this the right street” etc; even though I’m constantly walking in the right direction, the minutes fly by and it feels like it takes ages. But the second time walking there I relax, just walk, and it feels a lot faster and straighter. The last town had too much stuff, this might have too little. We’ll see. I feel good about it.

    Also, after last time, I was like… “there’s not going to be much left of this DitV town generator process if I’m going to be so post-poly & endoqueer about the sex stuff”. But now I feel relaxed in thinking that there are many other things that the game can be about. Last time started with skipping prayers, felt a little tame so I cranked it up to public drunkenness, felt even tamer so it got to murder right there in the first town. End result: a pretty messy town with a mix of “this is what the fuss is about?” with “hmm, this might be a bit much for the first town”.

    OK, the rest of this post was written after the session. We had a great session, more coherent, more believable, very thematic with lots of info on the mamluk’s dutiful branch, lots of CvC, lots of very nearly dying, lots of doubt and angst!

    The conflict was over some stolen weapons. I was kinda thinking that a more innocent crime would be a great contrast to last time and I think was right. “Do we really kill them for hiring someone to steal weapons?”

    Trix, would love to hear some more about your Watch game!
  • I've been away at New World Magischola, where I played different crusty professors on two consecutive weekends.
  • I was at DexCon where I was in:

    Wednesday night's Cthulhu Dark, where I was one of a group of immigrants trying to figure out what had caused our English instructor to go mad

    Thursday afternoon's With Great Power, run by Bill White. It was a blast, but I still don't quite get the system, possibly because I've never played Swords Without Master

    Thursday evening's Call of Cthulhu, an Invictus adventure I'd read, but the GM assured me that this wouldn't matter, and was basically correct. The problem with this sort of thing, for any decent gamer, isn't resisting the temptation to use out of character information. That's easy. It's figuring out when your character would figure it out and not playing to dumb. For various reasons, this is less of a problem in this particular scenario.

    I was the only person signed up for the Thursday-Friday midnight-4am slot, so the GM did the sensible thing and cancelled this slot. This was good because my next game was --

    Friday morning's This Favored Land, run by Bob Dushay

    Friday afternoon's Beyond the Wall, which was a lot of fun, but when you get right down to it, it's the sort of game I'd use Everway to run. Also, it was in Calcutta, which meant we were all shivering from the chill. OTOH, I got to play the Village Bear! Hard to beat that.

    Friday evening's Masks game, run by Kat Miller, with a big bad who was simultaneously sympathetic and impossible to compromise with. She'd be making sense for a few minutes, and then -- Nope. Just nope.

    Friday midnight's Blue Rose, AGE version, with more combat than I'd expected. A lot of fun, though the system feels one step too complicated for me, and I'm not sure which step that is. I really hope it'll get a Fate conversion one of these days.

    Saturday afternoon's Tales from the Loop, where, as one of the other players put it, we saved the 80s from dinosaurs using a walkman.

    Saturday evening's Montsegeur 1244, where, yes, my primary character burned for his beliefs.

    Sunday morning's Agents of the Si-Fan, a valiant, multicultural group fighting against British imperialism in the form of Bulldog Drummond and his men. We played this one pulpy, but utterly straight. Also, I have a lot of fascinating source material to look up, including a movie called (in translation, I'm sure) Ghost Lady.

    Sunday afternoon, we caught Spider-Man: Homecoming, which did not suck.
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