Monster of the Week: Anime Style!

You are all students at the Sakura Girls’ Academy, a haunted boarding school in the Japanese countryside….

Thus began last night’s one-shot of Monster of the Week for my niece, her two best friends, and my sister. It was an all-girl game, all-fun, and I think I lost my hearing in the upper frequencies (worth it!)

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Catching up with family

This week is pretty crazy. Last week, I had a race-to-the-finish for the Dracula Dossier scenario I’ve been writing. The deadline was long overdue, but I was trying to wrap it up before the 1st. I… didn’t quite make it, and then my niece came into town for a visit. I probably could have finished up during the many, many hours in which a teenaged girl sleeps, but I was tired. Kids are tiring. I can’t imagine how parents do it.

While she was here, though, she joined my Wednesday night group for Golden Sky Stories (which I blogged), and then my Sunday game for Dungeon World. That’s the one where we have an elderly bard, a sea druid, and an illusionist wizard. No combat. We currently have warrants out for us, so we sneaked into the ruins of the old dragon city, still in search of whatever is making that music….

1506945_838392086186819_345225616_nOn Sunday, the day before smy niece was to leave, my mother’s husband died, and I bought a plane ticket to join my niece’s return to Missouri. I’ve been here since Monday morning, and I’ve almost forgotten what day it is.

Grief sucks. My mother is in a lot of emotional pain. She’s going through the stages, sometimes all of them at once. Denial is hard, but anger is worse. I have thoughts on that, but I don’t want to be unkind. She’s hurting, and sometimes, her anger hurts me and my sister, who are her closest support system right now. I think I am practiced at “dumping out.” But sometimes, I am human and lash back.

I barely remember yesterday. It was a lot of errands. Death means running a lot of errands you didn’t expect to run. We ended the night with wine and a utterly-predictable movie (Pitch Perfect), and pizza. In the middle of the day, though, the Epyllion kickstarter launched, and my stretch goal (the rites of passage for dragons) was funded right away. As of writing this, it has reached over $8K in funding– for a $2K project, that isn’t half bad.

This morning was the burial service for my mom’s husband. We intended a 4 PM private ceremony, but there are thunderstorms and possible tornadoes in the forecast, so we pushed it up to 11. He was buried in a cremation box, to allow him to return more naturally to the earth. We were allowed to write messages on the outside of the box. I drew a dolphin, the number 42, and wrote “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Hitchhiker’s was one of his favorite series, and I am sure he would have appreciated the sentiment. We didn’t get along, but he was a huge nerd, and I’ve been able to put into words the parts of his life that did resonate with mine. It is unusual, since words usually fail me.

 

 

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I Shot My Best Friend in the Back, and All I Got Was This Lousy Apocalypse

Monday night, my online game (Moving Forward) managed to get together, and we had a veritable blast. The encounter of the evening was a highly-lethal romp with four mind-flayers. At the end, it was me, Ordune (druid), and a confused Firiel (rogue). Firiel could kill either of us in a single hit, even if I’d spent a recovery. I had a choice– her or us.

I asked if Firiel’s armor class was affected by any of her statuses. No. OK. I had a decent chance of at least stopping her if I shot, but… shooting a party member, especially my character’s best friend, isn’t a great idea.

I insisted on narrating that Firiel’s back was to Gwenn when I took the shot.

A typical night for me on Monday involves a lot of really low dice rolls. Lots of 5s and 6s on the dice. I’ve gone entire evenings without rolling above a 6 on a d20. It’s enough that, for me, my turn usually consists of trying to decide if I should just let someone else attack, or if my miss damage is enough to be effective.

On Monday, though, I’d hit several times, only missing once, when I rolled a 1. Surely, my luck would not hold out.

I roll the dice.

19 on the dice. I have a weapon with an expanded critical hit range. A 19 is a critical hit. My damage dice rolls out to 58– double that for the crit is 116.

“Welp. I’m dead.”

“What? Seriously?”

“Yep.”

“Steve! C’mon!”

“No, she’s dead.”

I think for a moment about the campaign. Firiel is holding the Big Scary Artifact that can’t be used without summoning the end of the world. It also must be used completely once someone is considered its “bearer.” Firiel is that person.

“Firiel can’t die until she draws the tiles.”

“Oh… shit.” Steve thinks frantically. This is not how the campaign is supposed to end, but whatever. He shuffles the tiles and has her draw. If she draws one of the tiles that results in us leveling up, then she will survive. If not, then she dies and we stay on the plot bus.

She draws the one that draws all the other tiles. Level up included. But also: the end of the world.

Cool.

We end for the night as we level up while the BBEG arrives on our undead-mindflayer infested island.

At least we won’t wipe out humanity. At least, not right away.

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Golden Sky Stories

Fake-Book-FlatI ran Golden Sky Stories last week at my Wednesday game, with a couple of guest players (my niece and the daughter of another player, both aged 13). I pre-made characters because our Wednesday game only has a couple of hours.

The game went well, though even my most conflict-averse player said it was "too saccharine" even for him. By the end of the session, one of the kids wanted to attack things. We stopped after 3 scenes due to time.

Most of the players were kind of on board with "let’s help the fox by fixing up her shrine." But the between-scene mechanics were a little clunky– players didn’t know how to use their Dreams, and there was definite min-maxing of "okay, the bunny can form connections for fewer Dreams… and that gives more points in Wonder… so I need to increase a connection with the bunny!"

It makes me wonder if it’s even possible to get players to play a purely narrative game without min-maxing. Or if it’s a player problem/style (I wouldn’t call this a problem in the sense of being obstructive… it’s just frustrating when players don’t look beyond "can I get a higher bonus and how?")

I wasn’t entirely clear how the Content of the connections is supposed to be used. If I were going to run this again, I would limit the group to 4 players, and read more about the Content and connections.

Overall, though, I had a good time as a GM, the players generally seemed to enjoy themselves… and I am sure they will all like to get back to murderhobo’ing as soon as possible.

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March 2015 Books and Games

Books:

#7: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (f)

#8: Monsters All the Way Down, by Ryan McSwain (m)

#9: Timebound by Rysa Walker (f)

#10: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud (m)

Games:

#22: Tanto Cuore, full set (4 players): Played Tanto Cuore with the base set, Expanding the House, and Romantic Vacation expansions. It went to the mid-late game pretty quickly. I think if I were going to adapt it for a longer game, maybe adding 2 stacks of maids and making the finish condition be 3 maid stacks depleted instead of 2.

#23: Love Letter (4 players)

#24: Monster of the Week (5 players, new campaign)

#25: Love Letter (3 players)

#26: Guess the Mess (6 players)

Also played 13th Age, Whispering Road, and Dungeon World campaign continuations.

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