Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Charity bundle for NZ earthquake

Another DTRPG charity bundle including Scion, Supernatural, Cold City, Remember Tomorrow, a Future Armada ship plan and Morgan Davie's Icons adventure all for $20.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Nationals oneshot development diary: 1

Well, I have at least come up with a plot for a Buffy game.

For Conpulsion.

The other two GMs in the Urban Fantasy category are running The Dresden Files and Scion so that's a fair smattering of investigation, magic use and superheroic violence covered. So I'm going for a middle path between those two, with some extra jokes.

It would help if I had six strong PC concepts. I have a Slayer, a Watcher, a Sorcerer... maybe a Zeppo...

Probably another fighty type, though I'd like to avoid another vampire with a soul. Maybe a werewolf or a warrior demon or a ninja cyborg from the future or something.

Maybe a social-fu type, although they might get left behind in the really really really violent bit at the end.

I'm not sure about using the series cast or a new group yet. I lean towards originals, to give the players more space, especially not-fannish players. I may repeat the trick I did once with a Firefly oneshot and bring two sets of pregens. But that'll make it that bit more obvious that I'm really writing for the series cast and including understudies as original PCs.

Meanwhile, I also have several possible big-league apocalypses. Those aren't a problem. And getting there shouldn't be a major issue either. But what else is going on, in the characters' lives and loves and all that fun stuff?

As you can see, progress is being made. Of a sort.

Writing an adventure pitch for a convention

... is a pain. There's a trick to it, as Matt McFarland discusses here, but there's the having to do it weeks in advance, and the wanting to be short but not too glib and wondering how much to give away...

I tend to show my hand early, especially when I'm doing a Buffy game, but I'm very aware I could get half an hour of investigation in a three hour slot by not giving the adventure an obvious title. Still, the obvious title, draws the eye...

Here's what I have this year:

Buffy Versus... Buffy?

If you're the Chosen One, how come there are two of you?

The death of a magical animal and the attempted murder of a mystic healer - the clues all point to a Vampire Slayer gone very, very rogue. And when Buffy and her allies investigate, they're more than a little surprised by what they find...

4-6 players. Suitable for new or experienced players. Familiarity with the setting is not essential, but I imagine it would come in handy.

And to show how a professional does it, Gar's Primeval demo:

Message in an Anomaly

Anomalies are appearing, holes in reality that connect the distant past to the present. When prehistoric monsters invade the modern world, it's up to you to contain the incursion and protect the public.

This incursion's different, though. Someone's sending you a message from millions of years in the past – and the message is "HELP ME"...

Monday, 14 February 2011

Wizard School!

Watchers in training, for Buffy. One of those ideas that keeps on giving. Like so. (It took two replies for someone to mention TWH...)

It's one of the occasional engines of fantasy settings - where do the sages and wise men and the like learn their lore? We never see Oxford, or the Watchers' Academy, in Buffy but we know Giles arrived full of lore and knowledge (and boyish excitement about getting to use it) so he has a backstory the other regulars don't, and it's a backstory that suggests Miss Cackle's Academy For Witches, Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters, Unseen University, Jedi Academy and of course nowadays Hogwart's - Wizard School!

I managed to get six years and seven seasons out of the premise - youngish people learning about life as they learn about battling monsters and the like - so I'm not surprised it pops up repeatedly. Here's to the next one!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Need a classic-type superhero adventure?

100 Covers for a superhero team comic that doesn't otherwise exist. The first twelve are in the gallery.

(Stumbled across for reasons explained in The Door In Time.)

Friday, 11 February 2011

I see the white, but not the wolf.

White Wolf's site is new and improved. I presume the front page illo will change from time to time. Currently the community is toplined, making the forum look more important than the news or the shop which seems like an odd design choice, but I like the lack of busy.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Let's Go To War

Russell Bailey's thoughts on 3:16 make for interesting reading even if you haven't had the game's creator on either side of the GM screen. (Check me out, I'm part of the Hobby Elite. Ahem.)

And as a follow-up, psychic warfare rules.


Nothing to do with the Nationals (most gaming thought yesterday went to coming up with someone or something for Buffy to fight at Conpulsion, and the votes are still open there)...

Last night saw the second new genre show in a week start on terrestrial UK TV. (The first is Marchlands, a slow-burn haunted house story.)

Outcasts concerns a human colony on another world, as the first ship for five years escapes from a sketched-in partially nuclear apocalypse. A colony small enough to potentially know everyone around.

It's low-key SF, with one practical Big Idea and in the first episode only one surreally SFnal thing hinted at, a disease whose first symptom is "a halo of light" around the victim's head, like it's affected the body's electrical field or something. (My version would be 87 times madder, with Earth being trashed by Gamma World style Final Wars with mutagenic bioweapons turning everyone in Brazil into vampires and things.) But we've got room for interpersonal drama, heroic explorers, formerly heroic explorers gone Kurtz and the odd weird SFfy thing. Sounds gameable to me.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Nationals

The Student National Roleplaying And Wargaming Championships (hereafter The Nationals) are a rather strange thing. A convention that's all about the games - where you play tournament games. Wargames with your own armies, card and board games with your own decks or off-the-shelf, and tournament RPGs arranged by genre or system category.

I've been there on and off since 1998, when it first came to Glasgow after years shuttling between Bangor and Loughborough. (The prize for winning is the opportunity to host it next year.) And my first time out wasn't that great, but enough of us had fun that we went all the way to Bangor (Wales, not Maine) next year and we were off.

I eventually GMed in 2007 after Edinburgh came third but the winners didn't want to do it, and again in 2010 after Heriot Watt came within two points of winning and the winners didn't want it. Both times I failed to get an applicable category to run Buffy going and ended up doing the Action And Adventure category, doing Adventure! one year and Uncharted style modern pulp using Hollow Earth Expedition the next.

But this year, the category I suggested, Urban Fantasy, is the most popular category. So I can run Buffy just fine. And with no pressure at all to do something good. (gulp)

I'll try and keep a development diary of sorts going here, so you can see what goes into a convention game, specifically a tournament game where "be the last to be killed by the TPK dungeon" isn't a viable option for scoring.

Wish me monsters.

Time Spies!

Thinking about making a New Wave Requiem trailer got me to thinking about a Victorian Age Vampire trailer which got me to thinking about where I could swipe imagery from and I thought Victorian films, horror films, Victorian horror films, Doctor Who episodes, flashbacks in Buffy and Angel... Alias, like the Requiem one? No, Sydney never went on a mission involving time travel... Hmm...

So I immediately started thinking of a superspy series with time travel as the exotic background.

There's never been a show exactly like that, the closest I can think is Time Cop. There's a TVTropes page called Time Travellers Are Spies but it's about time travellers being mistaken for spies because they act suspicious.

GURPS Time Travel has a fleshed-out setting along those lines, with two competing futures trying to make themselves real, so maybe something to think on. I may come back to this one.

"Where do you get your ideas?" "Sainsbury's!"

(The above quote from Russell T Davies.)

While looking for who I'd swiped a Buffy character idea from, searching through my saved-from-RPGnet Word files I looked at Inane Campaign Ideas by Title for the first time in a goodly couple of years, and The Vampire Queen Of Dark Moon Station caught my eye.

A shoo-in for a space-spanning genre clash like Doctor Who but it could be a superhero hook or something for Infinite Macabre just as easily. Taking that idea and running with it in various directions could lead to as much variety as Black Swan starting on the same page as The Wrestler.

In fact, the only time I ever have trouble coming up with ideas is when I actually have to fit them into a specific game. Which is why, for example, that a year running a military SF game with one alien species, no psychics or time travel or anything like that resulted in me having enough ideas that I couldn't do in it to sketch out a season's worth of Star Trek. And why I could run The Vampire Queen Of Dark Moon Station in tomorrow's Doctor Who game, but I just had a space station last week so I should probably leave it for a while, and I need an idea I can use tomorrow instead of thinking about it...

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Primeval, some hints from Gar Hanrahan

From here:

The manuscript is done, more or less, so I can pop back here and give a few more details.

1) The book takes a toolkit approach to the setting, breaking it down into elements (PRIMEVAL=time anomalies + dinosaurs + secret conspiracies) and then building a campaign out of those elements. So, you've got the ARC as your default framework, but there are three other sample setups (dinosaur safaris for the super-rich, little village under siege by dinosaurs, WWII special forces).

2) It's using a slightly tweaked version of the Doctor Who system - 95% the same, but some Traits have been changed, there are no special powers, and the system's a bit more lethal. Initiative's changed too.

3) There's a special subsystem to handle 'temporal damage'. Basically, if you change the timeline, you accrue temporal damage as a group. The GM rolls to see what effect this damage has. You may get lucky, and find that the damage has no effect, or it might stick around and stack with next week's adventure, or you end up jumping timelines and erasing people from existence.

4) Monster behaviour has its own rule system, too; different creatures have different reactions and special attacks.