Friday, 29 April 2011

Of Gods And Men, Provisional Game Idea

Okay, it seems Of Gods And Men is becoming a viable thing in my head.

Dunno what system to use... supers, or kinda-supers like Angel or something. I want people to be as viable as superbeings, and not just in small armies of crack special agents. I'd like Jane Foster to be as playable as Thor. (Or Frodo and Sam to be as playable as Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli, to use the other-thing-I'm-modelling-mentally examples.)

The magics are all couched in magic-y terms, although if a lab gets hold of a magic sword they can analyse it and find interesting readings. Magic has a presence.

Whether to use existing pantheon(s) of gods or make something up like the Scion Atlantean pseudo-gods... I lean towards real ones that have been somewhat misrepresented, so players can bring some of their own mythology-fu to the table but I can always go "actually..." and change something if needs be.

Norse would be a bit "hey I'm running Thor!" Not that I'm denying that, of course.

Maybe British mythology, the shifty Celtic gods, Bran the Blessed, Gog and Magog, the fighting dragons... stuff like that. Although I might borrow from Thor and Gaiman and go for the big wide open spaces of America as the backdrop instead.

Certainly something that lets me have the army fighting orcs.

Dragons versus helicopters, because that's always fun.

I've set foot on this ground before, notably in The Watch House Season Six when I had an elf witch trying to revive a dragon and a horde of goblins to destroy humanity, but there it was a secret magic setting so it stayed hidden, at least until the dragon attacked King's College Chapel. Here it would be more superheroey and get out in the open pretty fast and stay there.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Of Gods And Men

The inevitable consequence of seeing Thor...

A game not so much of urban fantasy as urban myth. A Lord Of The Rings level fantasy apocalypse breaking out now.

Not unlike Scion but focusing on rarer and less uber characters, and the people around them as well. Optionally including unfailingly polite secret agents.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Game Of Thrones, episode one and... hmm.

I watched the start of Game Of Thrones cold, not having read any of the books and having just seen some of the preview plugs here and there, as well as a bit explaining how you can just read a summary of the Wars of the Roses and add the occasional blue-eyed zombie or the Predator-looking things they serve.

And also That Review where the writer suggested (A) this is Boy Fiction of no interest to her and (B) it includes sex to attract women and (C) so is fantasy in general and women don't like it.

And no, it doesn't support conclusion B or C. But if she only watched the first episode, I can see where conclusion A came from. All the women we see are defined by their husbands or families, and one of them is pushed into an arranged marriage with Conan after being told by her brother he'd give her to the whole tribe, "all forty thousand men and their horses too, if that's what it took." Had she responded "I don't see you volunteering" I would have cheered.

In this day and age, the lack of equality in what is not actually a historical piece is rather surprising. I am assured this develops later, but for now I just have to trust that Arya Stark (age nine) won't prove to be the only female character to wield a weapon in the entire series.

(Second episode edit - they get more to do, which is nice, although all that they do is not necessarily.)

Relevance to gaming? Well, y'know, big fat fantasy saga, has its own game, now on TV. Need more? Well, okay...

How much fantasy can you put into history, or vice versa, before it turns into alternate history, historical fantasy, or some other subgenre?

This question has come up for me before, when I talked about running Dark Ages: Vampire and one of my circle of potential players expressed concerns that, as I'm a history nerd and he isn't, I might get too caught up in the historicity. A fair concern, since it was the real-world horror and madness of the Fourth Crusade that made me want to try the game in the first place. And then how far do you bend things? Female troops on the Winterfell Wall? Or at Constantinople? Elves at Helm's Deep? Or Agincourt? I don't mind, but someone else might. DA: V comes pre-bent, of course, having been made to accommodate vampires and other things hiding from the candlelight. But everyone draws the line somewhere different, so it's good to talk this through before a player rebels against the restrictions already-fictionalised history places on their choices... or your Arthurian game turns out to be Alien Versus Pendragon.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Good, The Bad, And The Murderhobo

(Murderhobo, shortening of "Murderous Hobo", is RPGnet's neologism for spring, referring to rootless PCs who kill things and take their stuff with no moral dimension.)

So there's a thread over yonder Are the PC's a force of good? from a long-time RPGer who has never seen a game where the PCs aren't a bunch of self-serving pragmatists or out-and-out psychokillers.

If this were the case with me and gaming... I would likely not be gaming. If I want to see wall-to-wall self-serving pragmatists, I have politics for that.

I have no interest in a murderhobo game. I've had and seen a thankfully small number of players bring the murderhobo to games where it doesn't fit, and these tend to be game-killing disasters that are only entertaining as GMing war stories. This is one of those make-sure-we're-on-the-same-page things.

I've played the odd emotionally dead PC here and there, and run games that are about questionable morality, but they're about that, not defaulting to it. My default setting is trying to do good, and hopefully succeeding more often than not because my universes tend to be on the side of good.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The difference between "grim and dark" and GRIMDARK

Grim and dark: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

GRIMDARK: "... And it's a big black hobnailed boot. With steel toecaps. Which have spikes. And the spikes are chainsaws. And they're ON FIRE."

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Need a Star Trek setting?

Bryan Singer has one lying around spare.

Complete with episode titles lifted from The Second Coming.

And featuring a character called The 76th Distillation of Blue. Who you just know would be the breakout star.

Federation set in the year 3000 changes a bunch of stuff and doesn't change a bunch of other stuff, in order to have a familiar but more futuristic setting. Something I did when I pitched a Star Trek game set merely a century after TNG, as an excuse for explosions and phaser fights and aliens being kicked in the face.

Hey, I'm a Kirk baby. I want bright colours and running around and monsters and things that go boom. If Doctor Who can do it so can Star Trek.

(And as for The 76th Distillation of Blue, I was going to have Mr. N, a V'Ger-probe-style shifting column of light who speaks in humming tones, as the science officer. Deal with technobabble by literally making it a background hum.)
A D&D memorial park

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Oh look. Zombies.

What is there to say about zombies that hasn't been said? I don't know, and judging by The Walking Dead they don't really know either.

Zombies rank somewhere around cultists, ninjas and Orcs in the "emergency fight horde" rankings for RPGs. I remember when they were scary - loss of identity, loved ones turning on you - but that time is past, and now they're a backup threat, a merchandising opportunity, and just not as cool as skeletons.

(Skeletons are still totally cool.)

A long-form genre apocalypse is interesting, and it's very well done all round, but the zombies are one of the least interesting parts of it. Above all, it made me miss Survivors. I'm more looking forward to Falling Skies because, hey, it's got aliens instead. They might do something interesting.

So where does the gaming come in? Well, obviously with something like All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the zombie-surviving RPG with its various genre books mostly including zombie stats as excuses for producing genre books for the Unisystem, but particularly the long-term-games-can-work-for-this sourcebook One Of The Living, put together by Ben "Zomben" Monroe, who was writing zombie adventures for Call Of Cthulhu before they became cool and doesn't mind that they're uncool again. Lots of good advice on modern-apocalypse survival. And some zombies.

So now part of me wants to do a zombie-free Survivors type game...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

And for my next trick...

... while on the coach down to the Nationals I proposed taking over Propulsion, the missed-this-year 24-hour charity gaming event. So, yeah, expect posts about that once it gets closer in seven to ten months' time.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Nationals oneshot development diary: +1

A lot of it comes down to the groups. Running the same game twice will reeeeeally show that.

Actual Play may follow. Tempted to write both up to show the differences.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Nationals oneshot development diary: T-minus 1

I'm done.

With printing stuff, at least.

Which involved going to work and using two of their computers and three of their printers because mine decided today was a good day to die.


Next time this updates I should have tales to tell. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Nationals oneshot development diary: 5

Right. Got six PCs. I think four of them are actually likely to be fun. So that's close but...

Cute punky lovelorn Vampire Slayer drummer.
Ass-kicking monster hunter who plays guitar.
Cordy lead singer.
Oz-style calm-about-everything bassist. Also, psychic.
Zeppo keyboard/sound technician/computer guy/getaway driver.
Witch, not part of the band, need to build in optional monster-fighter-versus-band conflict.

I've got a straightforward apocalypse that they can add ass-kicking, emotional pain and snark to, or just play through.

At one point, a huge vampire will throw a motorbike at someone.

... I have more than that.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Nationals oneshot development diary: 4



Still worried about whether having the slayer's band friends and the slayer's monster-hunting friends be largely separate will lead to divisions, although it feels more natural and plays up the "your passion or your duty" theme. Buffy and Angel both build families around themselves, very much involved in their calling... of course, they both have over a hundred episodes to do so.

Some of the vampires now have names and shticks. No casting yet.

Lacking casting for the PCs too, apart from Dianna Agron as the Cordelia-type lead singer and social-fu expert.