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

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#RPGaDay 5: Most Recent Purchase

Well. Because I only bought board and card games at GenCon, this answer is a little silly given yesterday’s post about larping at GenCon. See, on Tuesday before GenCon, I bought the ebook version of Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition, just so I wouldn’t have to carry the paperback with me, in case I thought I might need it at the con (I didn’t).

153922On Wednesday, I acquired (pay what you want… I paid $0, because cheapskate) the Just A Game playtest packet (Luke Green), though, so I will talk about that. Also, the Kickstarter for 14 Days finished ($8), but I don’t have it in hand yet.

Just a Game is a campaign framework for running a "trapped in the game" style RPG campaign. Like Sword Art Online or .hack. It could even be for running a "trapped in a tabletop RPG" campaign, like the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.

The playtest packet has three variations– a Fate version, Gumshoe version, and Powered by the Apocalypse version. Because I run all three systems, I’m really excited about playtesting this game. I’m already talking to a friend about running it as "Trapped in Minecraft" for his 9 year old daughter. Which means, even though it’s not a #RPGaDay category, my "next video game purchase" is probably going to be Minecraft….

Orccon 2015 Roundup

2015-02-13 14.37.01I went to Strategicon over Presidents Day weekend, and did some gaming! I brought a friend and fellow gamer along with me, who played in most of the games I participated in (this was his first larger convention, so it was good to have a buddy). Mike and Justin also went to Strategicon, but I barely saw them all weekend.

Friday Afternoon: Dungeon World Dragonslaying

On Friday afternoon, I jumped into Matt Smith’s Dungeon World game about slaying a dragon. Alas, we had about 2 too many players, but it was a raucous fun game with lots of over-the-top shenanigans. I played the Thief and made a dragon-sleeping poison that I used to knock it out and then backstabbed it for the final death blow!

One thing I did like about the session was that Matt had given the game a Monster of the Week structure, which intrigued me enough to buy a copy for future gaming.

We had some player-conflict when one of the players picked my friend’s cleric to be the target of all his bonds. This resulted in my friend feeling like he was being told how to play his character. Normally, when you have a bond or two, you’re influencing someone else’s character, but they still have a lot of say in who that PC is. In this case, the guy was inventing years of backstory that my friend just wasn’t enthusiastically consenting to. At one point, the guy implied some priestly "inappropriate touching," and that was when the X card was thrown.

We took a bio break, the player and my friend discussed it and he changed directions, but it put a damper on my friend’s enjoyment of the rest of the session. He still managed to have some fun, but we both didn’t mind taking the night off afterwards.

Saturday Morning: Best Friends at Games on Demand2015-02-14 09.14.35

Saturday morning, I had signed up for a session, but decided to spend the time doing my stint at Games on Demand.

Games on Demand is a different format from the usual "pre-register/sign up and play a 4-hour session prepped and offered by GMs" format. Instead, the games are shorter– about 2 hours is average. It’s more like a demo. And the GM doesn’t provide a single game, but rather has a few options on offer.

In my case, I was prepared to run one of five games, including Best Friends, Time Quest (a time travel hack for Goblin Quest that I’m writing), Lasers and Feelings, Out of the Blue, and Vesna Thaw. We hung around for about forty minutes while a few ambitious players found us, and then started Best Friends.

The players were my friend, Kristine (who works for a game company), and Ira (who played the Holder in last Strategicon’s AW game). We all played time travelers, stranded in the Cretaceous period, a few hours before the asteroid is about to hit Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs.

This was actually a really good setup and crisis. Our characters were a 21st century goth girl, an Italian Renaissance woman, an advanced being from the 30th century, and a homeschooled fundamentalist/paleontologist (she studies the paleo record in search of hard evidence proving the coexistence of dinosaurs and homo sapiens). The homeschooled was my character– I tried to handle it in a gently zealous way without being offensive.

My character also had a very uncomfortable crush on the goth girl.

Anyway, there were many shenanigans as we tried to deal with a sabotages time machine, a baby triceratops… then a mother triceratops! An ichthyosaur. Imminent fiery death. The belief that the imminent fiery death was an angel. And a certain amount of narrative symmetry that only comes about when the storytellers are really just keeping the ball up in the air for as long as they can.

At one point, the goth girl framed me for sabotage, claiming that I had thrown a bunch of gears from the time machine into the ocean. Not long after, I deliberately messed up the Italian girl’s drawing out of jealousy. She (played by Ira) responded by smashing the canvas over my head, literally framing me. When I found the actual saboteur was the goth girl, I covered for her and threw the gears (from her purse) into the ocean. When she found out, she accused me of doing so, but at that point, everyone had already heard that story and just said "so what?"

We resolved the story narratively by fixing the time machine just enough to go to one place and time, and picked Renaissance Italy. The goth girl and I hung around, finally heading up north to join the Vikings, which is where we were when a phone booth containing George Carlin arrived to save us.

Saturday Evening: Mecha vs. Kaiju FATE Game

godzillaIn the evening, we got into a FATE game using the Mecha vs. Kaiju rules. This was an odd game–very mechanics intensive, considering it’s still a FATE game. The players played the mecha, except my friend, who played Godzilla from the Godzilla Power Hour Saturday morning kids’ cartoon. I was a Battletech mecha whose main aspects seemed to revolve around being connected to her team. We were, none of us, a team, so that rather failed to be engaged.

The strength in the game was that the GM was really, really into kaiju and knew absolutely everything about them. The first two and a half hours were spent basically on the opening scene/first round of combat, while the conversation drifted around among various Godzilla movies and whether the Matthew Broderick Godzilla is the absolute worst, or just in the top 3.

To put this in perspective: I do not know many kaiju movies. I saw last year’s Godzilla, and I saw Cloverfield. The ins and outs of whether Mechagodzilla would take Mechmothra in a fight just elude me.

But for two and a half hours, I was laughing my ass off and caught up in their enthusiasm and having a great time.

And then… we hit the Plot. There is nothing wrong with having a plot framework, but the GM had previously been saying "yeah, why not?" whenever we suggested doing something wild and crazy. Now, once we had encountered the Plot and were trying to creatively problem-solve… now, we heard "no" a lot.

The first two and a half hours were epic. The last 90 minutes found us doodling in the margins and passing notes asking if it would be rude to leave (answer: yes, by that point it would be).

It was clear that the GM had a firm idea of how we should resolve the adventure, and although fighting it out was interesting to some of the players, it just didn’t do it for Saturday Morning Godzilla, so he tried talking to the kaiju opponent to resolve it. That didn’t go over well with the GM, but eventually the rest of the players did enough physical damage to the kaiju forces to make him feel like he could surrender, I suppose.

By the end, we were pretty drained, but we did have fun for most of the session. It was just a good object lesson in letting go of your plot as a GM.

Sunday Afternoon: Night’s Black Agents

On Sunday afternoon, I ran the Night’s Black Agents scenario I’ve been writing for Pelgrane Press. I won’t go too much into it here, just that (a) I need to get more writing done, and (b) there’s a lot that has to be left out for convention play. Also: Don’t forget to print out and bring the pre-gens, or it’ll cut into your session considerably (sigh).

Sunday Evening: Spirit of 77

This was the unexpected highlight of the convention for us. Spirit of 77 is an Apocalypse Engine game set in the 1970’s in a high-octane action media extravaganza. We had Bowie Stardust (a David Bowie character), Natalya the former Russian Olympic athlete-turned-private investigator, The Hammer (a sexy beast of a man), . And the GM was extremely well-prepped with a very fun, over-the-top hilarious scenario that had multiple directions it could go.

The scenario was "Escape from the Women’s Prison of the Apes." The concept was that we needed to orchestrate a prison break, from a women’s prison, which had turned to enhanced simians as guards.

The role-playing and shenanigans… well, at one point, the vigilante was so intimidating, the GM said "you know, I find myself actually intimidated by that glare of yours." My friend playing Bowie commented later that he was actually kind of afraid, until the guy broke character and started laughing. I used my fake Russian accent to great advantage.

"Anyone remember who invented the twerk?" asks Matt, playing the Hammer.

"I think the Hammer did," I reply.

"That’s right!" And he jumps up to start twerking, explaining that his character is pantsless, on the back of the Burnside, and waving an American flag.

And at one point, the redneck was told "well, the ape you made friends with is on the other side of that concrete wall, so…" "Oh, I get out of my truck and go inside to get her!" "No, no. I mean it’s right on the other side of the wall, there." "Then forget the first half of that statement. I just go inside. With the truck."

The whole session was full of fun and laughter and music and silliness. It was amazing and a great way to cap off the weekend. When we left, my friend told me to go on the Kickstarter and add a physical copy of the game to my backer rewards, because he wants his own copy that much.

The Rest of the Weekend

The rest of the weekend was either non-gaming, small casual games (we played Loonacy a couple of times), and the games auction. At the end of the auction, we had sold 9 lots of gaming books and materials, going home with just my Dystopian Wars miniatures. Apparently, I’m going to have to take it back up again just to have a reason to still have those minis and paints.

SS Placeholder Shenanigans, part 2

futuramaNotes from the SS Placeholder Fate Accelerated game from last week, wrapping up our Innabelle 5 delivery of a giant land shark with a forehead-mounted laser. 

Arrival at Innabelle 5, contacted by the spaceport traffic control. Kiray learns this is a resort planet, so changes into her bikini (mandatory uniform for female crewmembers of the SS Placeholder when visiting resort planets… or so the Captain told her on her first day), and gets her inflatable beachball. She preps the truck and loads the shark onto it. Catburg, Jr. comes on board to take delivery of shark and gun. Catburg is depicted as an adorable kitten, being one of the cat-people races.

A plant-man arrives and talks about an escort job back to the mansion, taking Catburg, Jr. back to his father’s house. We agree, for a price. This is an overland joruney through a safari planet, after all.

Alain teleports the rental SUV through our delivery truck on Day 1. We’re heading into a more dangerous area. The truck is out of gas, so Alain and Kiray go investigate. They realize one of the fuel tanks disconnected from the truck, so they head off to recover it. Alain gives Catburg Jr. a box to play with while discussing the situation with the captain. This keeps the kid occupied until we return. The Captain makes the plant-guy pass out (drugs, yo) as a distraction from our troubles… something about not wanting him to know we’re stranded in the middle of dangerous territory.

Sidebar: We create a new ship aspect: cameras everywhere. It turns out, each of us has our own security system installed in the ship. The Captain’s is for voyeuristic purposes, Alain’s is because he’s nosy and needs to know everything, and Kiray’s is because she thinks she’s the security officer.

We fix the truck and get underway. Take a mid-day nap. Plant-guy wakes up and demands answers. We wake up and get moving again– Kiray gets a snoot full of stimulants and becomes kind of, um, puppyish.

Alain drives the truck with the land shark, Kiray, and the plant guy. Capt Steele takes the Escalade with Cat Jr. and the beachball.

Three large land sharks sneak up on us and attack! Kiray climbs onto the top of the truck and fires wildly while Jr. fires on one shark and hits. Kiray tumbles to the side of the truck but holds on. Alain runs over one shark on the side of the truck. Another comes up, and Kiray leaps onto it and punches it into submission. Capt. climbs onto the side of the Escalade and fires at the wounded shark.

The plant guy hyperventilates, sending pollen everywhere, distracting Alain and causing him to sneeze. Alain tries to send the plant guy through the wall, but fails. Badly. The truck goes end over end in a spatially inertial wreck. Alain has lost his phase device and it looks like the land shark might have gotten free. Alain is hanging kind of half in half out of the bottom of the truck (if you’ve ever seen a bad 3-D modeling job in a video game, you know what I mean).

Kiray pulls Alain out of the truck, defying physics itself to do so.

The captain takes a ‘roid ball and grabs the land shark to throw into the cage. He then hits it with a downer, and falls asleep in front of the cage door (Aspect: fails upwards).

We arrive at the mansion and reunite Catubrg Jr. and Sr., and Jr’s bros. The plant-nanny is snarky and tries to undermine our authority. Kiray throws the beachball at the plant-nanny and knocks it over, humiliating it.

We join the party and enjoy food and drink. It’s lovely. Captain gets drunk on champagne.

We toast to Junior. Alain is still trying to figure out how he still has legs.

We return to our ship.

Pirate girl is hailing us, we put her on, mute her. She yells a bit, then looks smug. We stream video game porn of a pirate girl to her viewscreen, then log off. Alain records her audio, and then her reaction, which is to stare agape, then blush furiously.

We call the home office, Tabitha Winns. She agrees to funnel more jobs our way, reluctantly and without even looking at our numbers. Alain rats out Capt. Svennie’s attempted sabotage. He may have been sabotaging more than our ship, and is getting employment elsewhere. Capt. Steele suggests our poor numbers in the past were due to this. Either way, we’re still employed.

Kiray listens to the pirate girl’s recording, who has been waiting for us for a day and a half! Very upset, etc. Then she’s saying that obviously, we’ve accepted her offer to work for her, and get “top position on the ship,” and “some kind of punishment.” And all we have to do is say yes to get the best position in the ship.

In retrospect, we seem to have sent her a stream of the best “position” on the ship, which she ordered shut down.

Incoming: Someone bounced a job off Space Race’s servers to make it seem like it’s from Space Race. It’s a job offer coming in, if it’s worth our time…. Hm… maybe.

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