Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Iron Baker: BEGIN!

Sometimes, it’s good to have a fun, lighthearted adventure mixed in with big, pulpy stories about sentient robots and buildings that perambulate from their lower New London addresses to Hyde Park.

chocolate-birth-day-cakeLast night, our Martians Are Coming game began, as it usually does, in Winfield’s bakery. A scandal sheet reporter named Puddy Tyson came by to chat with us and watch for “some news of the weird.” We are apparently now on his beat. Ah, well– we’re pretty calm about the whole experience of encountering the weird. Neither Winfield nor Abigail is particularly secretive yet about their doings.

As usual, weirdness comes for us– a French woman arrived, flirted with Winfield, and bought “one of everything” from the shop. Noticing that she seemed to be followed, Winfield tracked her until some of the street urchins known as the Irregulars (our main contact having disappeared a few days ago) interfered with him. Abigail, meanwhile, distracted Mr. Tyson with stories of how the science building could walk.

Static challenges: Stealth for Winfield, and Rapport for Abigail.

Eventually, Winfield discovered that the French woman had swapped his pastries for pies and delivered them to the local police station. Nothing seemed to be amiss with the constabulary, but it was indeed a bit of underhanded deception. Abigail and Winfield went in search of a pie maker, eventually finding a Frenchman named Limon (who had been following the French woman), and his assistant Pecan (the Frenchwoman).

In the course of Limon’s bragging, Abigail suggested a bake-off. The young Prince’s birthday was coming up– what better ocassion? Abigail found a way to insert herself into Prince William’s life and impress him with her connection to “that baker who made all those people turn colors!” The competition would be held as a birthday tea for the prince.

When Abigail suggested the bake-off, Winfield was compelled to agree, due to his High Concept, which is “Iron Baker.” This scene resulted in a 3-part challenge for Abigail: Drive, Physique (to get trampled without damage), then Rapport.

The day of the birthday tea arrived. The bakers, grudgingly sharing a kitchen, took their positions. After tossing a few insults at M. Limon, Abigail attempted to calm and entertain the other noble children, but rather failed to convince them that they would not be turned into purple blueberries. Instead, she used their terror to convince Mr. Tyson that there was an alien conspiracy worth writing about, and solicited the Irregulars to arrive in a timely manner, acting like alien-controlled zombies.

4-part contest for both Winfield and Abigail. First Winfield: Shooting (static) to determine if he can accomplish the trick shot. Then Abigail: First, a create advantage roll where she insulted M. Limon to undermine him and gave him the Flustered aspect that Winfield could tap later (Rapport– Abigail has a stunt called “Bless Your Heart” to use Rapport instead of Provoke). Burglary (static) with the children to do magic tricks (failed), then Rapport with the Irregulars to create an advantage with Mr. Tyson. Then Rapport with Mr. Tyson, because Tyson doesn’t need to believe it– he just needs a story.

Meanwhile, Winfield was baking up a storm of deliciousness, delivering his creations by spinning plates and using a trick shot to catapult the pastries from the service plates onto the Prince and judges’ plates! The prince was delighted! The other children were terrified. Their parents, probably mortified. It didn’t matter, though, because once they bit into the confections, even the French judge could not contain himself. Winfield was the clear winner!

Final roll in hte contest: Winfield’s Craft roll. The social conflict comes down to this moment, so Winfield pulls out all the stops. He’s pretty good with Craft anyway, plus he taps his High Concept: Iron Baker for a +2. And he taps M. Limon’s Flustered aspect (“Oh, Monsieur! I see you forgot the powdered sugar on your cakelets?”) for another +2. The result was a Succeed With Style, resulting in even the French judge being impressed by Winfield’s cake.

Doll – Is there a way to run this game in a non-creepy way?


I don’t think so. The game lends itself to creepiness, but in a good way!

Doll by Josh Jordan/Ginger Goat Games is a very short minigame that plays in 20 minutes, between two players. One player is the Doll, one is the Child.

Last night, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, I arrived at game night to shortly discover that I had 1 player for the game.

But I had my copy of Doll in my satchel, so I pulled it out and we played.

In our first game, we played basic Doll. I played the Doll, and Carl played the Child. The child’s pet has died, and the events in the card are fairly basic– the pet died, the parents fight, the child has a nightmare, and someone goes on a special trip the next day.

The game’s central question is “are the parents evil, or wonderful?” Notice it’s not “evil or good,” but rather “evil” or “wonderful.” As though, if your parents aren’t wonderful from the child’s (or doll’s) point of view, then they must be evil.

Events are narrated by the child, from the child’s point of view. The child then asks the doll questions about the event, and the doll answers.

The doll knows the truth of what’s happening.

The doll isn’t always honest.

That last point is important to the creepiness of the story, and we ended the first session of Doll with the following chilling exchange:

Child: Well, how can I die so I can go live in the magical place with Rusty and the other children?
Doll: ....Your daddy has a gun under the bed.

As I said… creeeepy! You can also have supernatural events happen or be added in by the doll. About 2/3 of the time, the doll *can* lie (but doesn’t have to), so the interplay between the child not knowing what’s going on, and the child’s perspective on the world, is really remarkable.

For the second session, I played the child, and picked events from the Advanced Doll game card. I used the “mother’s funeral” event, and Carl decided that the mother had been murdered by the father, and that the child was killed mid-game while running across the street to play. For the second half of the game, I was effectively a ghost.

I think I may need to buy the PDF for Doll, which would allow reprinting, because I think I want to run a Doll game at Halloween. Basically, half the guests get a creepy doll (party favor!) and the doll instructions, and half the guests get a set of Child questions (which would vary quite a bit, so they wouldn’t be repetitive). Play for 20 minutes, then trade dolls and cards and circulate around a bit to find another partner. I wouldn’t run this more than two or three times in the course of a night, but I definitely think it would be a great game for a Halloween dollhouse-themed party.

We Serve Them

Journal entry from Lt. Gwenn Jade

Well. After an infiltration job into a research facility at Fels, we’ve found ourselves rescuing Fermina (again) from forced-labor for the Regency, and we’ve managed to rescue a young nobleman named Dorian Poche as well.

His father was Lord Poche, the Baron-Alchemist. Renown throughout the realm for blending magical studies and rulership. Died 2 years ago. His daughter Isabel probably died at Ilyria. Dorian is her twin brother.

Tristram Cale was Lord Poche’s personal guard and retainer, before he came into my company. I knew he’d broken ranks to win the battle at Greymoor, but I didn’t know how personally he– and apparently Lord Poche the younger– took the subsequent death of the senior Lord Poche.

Casualties happen. If not for Lord Poche and Tris’s actions, we would have lost Greymoor. It’s one of the commendations that brought Tris to my attention when I needed to replace Paithen. And… it’s the kind of maneuver that I count on him doing or supporting in our little team.

It’s sad that it took Lord Poche’s death to reveal Tristram’s strengths, but we would simply not be alive without him. It’s as basic as that. Lord Poche died, and as a result, Tristram was available to join us, to defend us.

Dorian blames Tris for that death. What am I supposed to tell him? He is grieving for everything this war has taken from him– his family, his land, his title, his name. Who am I to tell him there’s anything more to fight for?


Continue reading We Serve Them

All Out of Bubblegum

they_live1-540x275So, last night, we were scheduled to  play part 2 of the Very Holiday Dungeon World Special. And then, about 15 minutes before the game, I saw on Facebook that one of my players had had a death in his family of someone he was close to and loved very much.

This did not bode well for the night. Grief is a profound emotion, and we can use gaming to process it, but when it is raw… it is best to take your cues from the player and see if they’re ready to process, or if they need a little escapism.

He needed some escape, so 10 minutes before the game, I threw my notes into a drawer and went for Plan B.

Continue reading All Out of Bubblegum

A Year-Long Project is Complete!

Finished scarf!

On January 6, 2013, I cast on the edge of a “weather scarf.” This is a concept-knitting project in which you really don’t know how it’ll look until it’s done. The pattern is called the “My Year in Temperatures” scarf, by Kristen Cooper. The pattern is basic: select in advance a different color yarn for each range of temperature your area receives. For example, in a year the highs in Chicago might range from below 0 to above 100 degrees. Break the temperatures into bands of 10 degrees each, and assign one color to each band. Each day, you will look up the previous day’s temperature and knit two rows in garter stitch (k across, then k across) in the color that corresponds to that temperature.

I liked the idea of the scarf, because I like meteorology and physical geography. I also liked the fact that this would introduce me more intimately to the weather cycles in Las Vegas– something I am not so familiar with, and would like to be.

I made the following changes to the design:

  • I tracked both highs and lows and used double knitting to use both colors and create a reversible scarf. Because double knitting is not inherently connected, I twisted my yarn strands together periodically so they piece would not slip around.
  • Each day was represented by only one row, not two.
  • Between months, I knitted two rows in a neutral yarn (white for the highs, grey for the lows) so I can navigate the scarf easily.
  • When it rained, I purled the rows instead of knitting.
  • At the end of each month, I wove in my ends. I did this as a sanity-preservation technique, since it would have been easy to get to December 31, look at all those ends, cry, and run away from the project for a full year.
  • I posted updates to Facebook every week on Tuesday. This kept me accountable, and my friends regularly mentioned the scarf when we met up or talked, so I knew people were cheering me on to completion.
  • This morning, at the bottom of the scarf, I knitted “VEGAS 2013” into the border.
The casting on, with my temperature chart.

I chose yarns from my stash that are cotton or cotton blends. I am not a huge fan of cotton for warmth garments, but I have come to embrace the fiber as being particularly well-suited to living in the desert. Cotton doesn’t breathe when wet, but so what? If the humidity is above 11% here, people cry and complain about it being “muggy.” Cotton isn’t as insulating as wool, but again, so what? Today is January 1st, and our high was about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

On December 8th, I realized I was running out of the yarn that I was using for the temperature range representing the 40’s (technically, 41-50 Fahrenheit). This was in part because the 40’s is used in both the highs and lows, sometimes on the same day. I was stymied. The yarn in question is Dale of Norway’s Lerke in “Petrol,” a color that defies description. It is a dark teal with slate overtones and tiny flecks of purple. It is impossible to reproduce easily. I pulled out several yarns from my stash, but had no luck finding a perfect match. I borrowed a skein of teal from a friend’s stash, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results.

There are two stores online that sell Lerke, and both had Petrol in stock. I didn’t care too much about the dye lot, since this is such a riot of color anyway. I eventually, on December 27th, caved in and ordered a skein of it for $15– $8.75 plus priority mail shipping from KidsKnits yarn. I despaired of it arriving before New Years, since I’d waited so long to order, and it was coming from New  York State. But 2013 had a holiday miracle waiting for me.

It arrived on Tuesday, December 31, shortly before I got off of work early for the holiday. With hours to spare before my NYE parties, I knitted on the scarf until I was all caught up.

This morning, I finished the last row– highs in the 60’s, lows in the 40’s, and knitted the “VEGAS” border to commemorate the year and location. I finished completely this afternoon, weaving in the last ends and wearing my scarf out to lunch today! I can still wash/block it, but it doesn’t strictly require it.

The scarf is about 5 1/2 feet long– just a bit longer than my height!
Low temperatures
High temperatures


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