Thursday, 29 August 2013


Via Adrian Barber: RIDERS - Research in Interactive Drama Environments, Role-play and Storytelling.

I'll have to go along to the Storytelling Centre event and have a look.


Mind-to-mind interfacing is now an actual thing.


Via Stuart Boon and Matthew Knighton:

Miniature brains developed in the lab for neurological study. And possibly Tru Blood for zombies.

How would you advertise an RPG?

TSR ran this Dungeons & Dragons ad in the early 80s. Some nice animation, and a dungeon and even a dragon, but...

Not as bad as the legendary Shadowrun promo, of course.

Vampires ruined forever.

Happy 200th anniversary to the word “vampire” in the English language (to the year, not the day) and to vampires being ruined forever.

1813: Lord Byron introduces “vampire” to the English language. Vampires ruined forever.
1819: The Vampyre. Vampyres ruined forever.
1828: The Skeleton Count, or The Vampire Mistress. Vampires ruined forever.
1845-47: Varney the Vampire. Vampires ruined for 667,000 words.
1872: Carmilla. Sexy vampires ruined sexily forever.
1897: Dracula. He has hairy hands. Vampires ruined forever.
1922: Nosferatu. Vampires’ ability to go out in the sun ruined forever.
1931: Bela Lugosi. Vampires’ accents and dress code ruined forever.
1936: Dracula’s Daughter. Vampires ruined by the Hays Code.
1954: I Am Legend. In a surprising development, zombies ruined forever.
1966–71: Dark Shadows. Vampires ruined for mid-afternoons.
1969: Vampirella. Sensible costuming ruined forever.
1971: Count Chocula. Teeth ruined for breakfast.
1972: Sesame Street. Obsessive-compulsive vampires ruined forever. Ah-ah-ah!
1972-79: Tomb Of Dracula. By Marv Wolfman. Wolfmen ruined forever.
1976: Interview With The Vampire. Interviews ruined forever.
1979: Bunnicula. Rabbits ruined forever.
1979: Bela Lugosi’s Dead. Vampire-themed party playlists ruined forever.
1987: The Lost Boys is more successful than Near Dark. Best Of lists ruined forever.
1991: Vampire: The Masquerade. Kindred ruined forever.
1992: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Accents ruined forever.
1992: Buffy ruined forever, until 1997, when she ruins vampires forever.
2000: Darren Shan tries really hard to ruin vampires forever.
2001: Sookie Stackhouse’s reputation in Bon Temps ruined forever.
2005-08: Twilight. Vampires and werewolves ruined forever.
2006-10: Vampire Academy. Academies ruined forever.
2009: The Vampire Diaries. Diaries ruined forever. Also doppelganger plots.
2013: Jonathan Rhys Meyers will attempt to ruin vampires forever. We wish him well.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Maybe Cthulhu has a sniffle?

Via Kit Kindred: a sad-looking Cthulhu by Harry Potter and Pacific Rim artist Wayne Barlowe. I mentioned he looked bummed, and Kate Kindred notes: “Yeah, like it’s a sad, rainy day and he’s cuddled up in his favorite chair with a nice blanket and a good cup of tea. Even evil Elder Gods get the blues.”

Do your PCs and NPCs have good and bad days? (The dice can have a big effect on this, of course...)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Do you name your PC groups?

This conversation is about Vampire: The Masquerade in particular, noting that it’s standard practice to name Sabbat packs but not Camarilla coteries, but it includes some thoughts on group naming in general.

And in general I don’t do it or see it unless a setting actively encourages it. The problem of coming up with a term that sums the group up means it hardly ever happens.

In twenty-two years of various World Of Darkness games I’ve been in two where it happened, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Changeling: The Dreaming, where giving things significant names is part of the culture (and often done on a whim in the latter case).

Superhero groups need names because superhero groups in existing universes have them by default, but superhero game groups often come up short on inspiration. There are only so many good ones - hence the Avengers vs. the Avengers, and how many different Justice Leagues there are. We ended up being called the Super Squad in one Marvel game because we hadn’t come up with anything else after three months and we never did come up with anything better. And there was another Super Squad in the Marvel Universe (not to be confused with the Super Hero Squad) and of course it’s one of the names The Mystery Men rejected. In the game I’m currently playing I came up with a name for the villains we’re pretending to be (the Public Enemies, which I also think of as the title of the series but that might just be me) but got stuck on a hero team name.

The only Buffy group I’ve ever seen named, or even strongly nicknamed like the Scooby Gang, was a band. Because, again, bands need names. And a band name doesn’t have to have great significance when adventuring, like a starship name in a space opera game it doesn’t define the PCs as strongly.

The group in The Watch House was occasionally referred to as the Prentices (their proper title), the Watch or the Watchers, but no “team name” was ever proposed in six and a half years. This continues in other Actual Play games, using game-specific versions of “the party” but no real names, so the PCs in a Doctor Who game are “the travellers” and in Call of Cthulhu it’s “the investigators”. Specific named groups like the Theron Marks Society exist, but I’ve never seen the PCs set one up. Pendragon has a few orders of knighthood other than the Round Table, with the suggestion that the PCs might form one... but surely most PC knights would want to be on the Round Table too.

But, as noted in the thread, some players do this and expect it - a D&D game at Penny Arcade included a Wizards writer, who brought up the subject of a party name early on.

So, how about you?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Blood And Smoke Trailer

Blood And Smoke: The Strix Chronicles trailer to mark the ninth anniversary of The World Of Darkness rulebook and Vampire: The Requiem.

Same pieces of music as my original Requiem trailer, to show how much this is a new core book.

Now idly pondering doing two different trailers for Vampire: The Dark Ages and Dark Ages: Vampire. Or just a V20 Dark Ages one...

Demon: The Descent and the Onyx Path

The schedule with bigger previews of Blood And Smoke, Mummy: The Curse and Exalted 3...


Demon: The Descent quickstart.


Via Benjamin Baugh - “This is an almost perfect game pitch right here. I’d play it.” A space opera without a ship, where one character (or at a pinch a small party) has to explore a planet alone.

Men Of X

Fantasy/mediaeval X-men by concept artist Nate Hallinan. Not unlike Marvel’s own 1602 by Neil Gaiman, but so pretty it’s worth a look.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Adventure! is twelve.

Elmore Leonard

Author Elmore Leonard has died, aged 87. Known for Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, Rum Punch (aka Jackie Brown), the original 3:10 To Yuma and Justified, he worked in genres I don’t generally touch on here, despite Justified being my favourite thing on TV at the moment. Its mix of a smart, charming and totally badass hero with Mr. Leonard’s mostly dense villains gives regular doses of bad guys amusingly underestimating the good guys. A fight you know you can win can be a lot of fun.

Mr. Leonard also provided the following rules for work in his style:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”... he admonished gravely.
5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

There are times and places to bend most of those rules. But not Rule 10.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Soon He Will Know

A trailer that doesn’t say what it’s actually for from JJ Abrams and co. at Bad Robot.

From the tone I would guess not Star Wars despite the opening shot.

As I’ve established before, I like a good trailer, including a good disassociated or fake trailer, so before we find out what it’s actually for, some not-entirely-serious speculation, since it’s fun to spit out random ideas it could be before the observer effect shuts that down. 

An amnesiac hunted by creepy people...

“Men are erased... and reborn.”

I imagine if you gave this to ten GMs you’d get sixteen game ideas.

A World Of Darkness RPG at JJ’s office, perhaps? ;)

I started a Demon: The Fallen game like that once, with a demon PC with no memory of his Fallen self. Maybe something God-Machine Chronicle related now? 

Sunday, 18 August 2013


I’ve been avoiding mentioning this, but now it’s visible in public... I’m in the process of writing a potential chunk of modern setting information for the Trinity Continuum core rules.

Don’t worry, I’m not writing the rules. ;)

Choose Your Own Adventure - for kids. As a cartoon.

On the Kickstarter.

Get ’em while they’re young, I says.

Presumably with the target age range there will be less “open the door - YOU DIE” endings.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Onyx Path 2013-14

The schedule features new classic World Of Darkness, new new World Of Darkness, new edition of Dark Ages, new Exalted, new Scion, new Trinity!

Humans! Run!

Seriously, from an outside perspective, humans could be rather scary. This is why God-Like Aliens are so keen to get rid of us. We can be bargained with, we can be reasoned with - maybe - but we Absolutely Will Not Stop.

What if a totally average D&D game came true?

You’d wish you’d played someone really fun, as seen in this bemusing short film by fashion line Rodarte.

Not quite Exalted miniatures

But certainly in the direction of that kind of crazy OTT fantasy, Wrath of Kings by CoolMiniOrNot. Super-martial-artists, armoured vampires and werewolves, gratuitous magitech and partial nudity. No idea how well the game will play, but this is a “cool mini” company above all...

Story Games

Story Games are now a thing that io9 will discuss including card ones as well as RPG ones.

The ENnies

Winners and silver announced. Always nice to see work I like (and work friends were involved in) getting recognition.

Super-Random Visual Inspiration

The protagonist in this CHVRCHES video dies of a broken heart and then regenerates and short-circuits the Matrix. Or something. (NSFW due to F-bomb. Would actually fit Vampire better musically. And they may be a bit geeky.)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Consider the potential long-term effects of your MacGuffin

Universe-shaking developments that are pretty much never mentioned again.

Time travel is a particularly significant example, because genre series love one-off time travel episodes and don’t always tidy up afterwards.

“We’ll never make it!”
“Uh, Captain. We have a time portal. Should we maybe use that?
“... Nah...”

I’ve used time-travelling MacGuffins now and then in not-about-time-travel series, and always take care to smash them at the end of the episode.

Pick up a pinta like Peter Cushing

Via Kim Newman: The Milk Marketing Board made a series of 70s adverts by visiting film sets and having cast and crew drink milk. One of them was The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires.

If you’venever seen this late Hammer classic, imagine it was the time someone substituted Wushu for The Hunters Hunted in an ongoing campaign.

But the most amazing bit is that they managed to resist any jokes about pints of blood.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Top Ten Superhero RPGs

Or the first half thereof anyway. Annoyed your favourite is there? Glad it isn’t yet? Worried it won’t appear at all? Interesting viewpoint on Aberrant in particular.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Alas Vegas

The Major Arcana for James Wallis’s Vegas-based supernatural drama miniseries game Alas Vegas, by artist John Coulthart, is online here. And is beautiful.

800 posts and...

... I’m a bit into a writing gig. More after I’ve gotten some first draft feedback.

The cat in the box and the elephant in the room

Today is World Elephant Day, as well as Erwin Schrödinger’s birthday. Can you put a cat, or an elephant, in your next session? Maybe. Which in the case of Schrödinger’s Cat is entirely appropriate. Elephants tend to be rather more obvious.

I realise now that I’ve never, even once, had the PCs on an elephant, or in the path of one. Rhinos, sure. Hippos, absolutely. But no elephants. Given their uses by Hannibal, Sauron and Indiana Jones, this seems like quite an oversight on my part.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


Since the World Of Darkness MMO is to use the character creator prototyped by EVE Online, it was suggested to use the 14-day trial to test it.

This is how I look. The weight slider needs a few more clicks...

For comparison, Milli from The Watch House looks like this, her hair being off-shade due to limited options. (Cat suggests “Hmmm... maybe the orange is a more mature mid-twenties look?”) But attractive young people with piercings and leather jackets seem to be the system’s forte. Which will be good for Vampire, of course...

Anyway, it’s a great toy, which could be handy for making NPC portraits, with no real use in the game it’s currently attached to as it’s about flying around in a spaceship...

Friday, 9 August 2013



The Storm God enters the sky.

Still possible to find huge, stunning Mesoamerican art even now.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Super group or super team?

I’m currently playing Marvel Super Heroes and we’re undercover heroes pretending to be villains called the Public Enemies, or the Go Team when acting as heroes in public. And the night after this week’s session the GM and one of the players headed off to see Alabama 3. Who aren’t from Alabama and there are more than three of them. But they sound like a gang, or possibly three people stuck in a miscarriage of justice... either way there’s an implied story there.

Which got me thinking, what kind of superheroes, villains or teams do other band names suggest? (Not counting characters who exist, like Ash or Ladytron.)

Bill Haley and the Comets were obviously a squadron of pulp adventure airmen.

Blur is London’s fastest boy.

The Fun Lovin’ Criminals are a laid-back super-gang who steal things to enjoy. Their most famous caper was stealing the London Eye.

Scissor Sisters are terrifying twin stylists, who will make you look good or kill you trying!

... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are probably bad guys.

A suggestion from that very GM: I believe the Flying Pickets were a famous Yorkshire super-team, before being defeated by Mrs T.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Enter, stranger...

YouTube Geek Week brings back Knightmare with special guest Isy Suttie (LARPer Dobby in Peep Show) in case it wasn’t postmodern enough.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Little Wars

HG Wells published the first formalised miniatures wargame system a hundred years ago today.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Need a creepy shtick for a villain?

Via Rose: He spouts Motivational Poster quotes.

Just imagine a villain looming over a minion, or about to seize an artefact, or taking a punch from a hero, and saying...

That which I manifest lies before me.
Today I will be the bigger person.
I can watch the drama unfold without becoming part of it.
I remain gracious and kind when my patience is tested.
Humour and joy contribute to my overall well-being.
I choose to be happy.
I forgive all past experiences.

Lois Lane: Best Reporter Ever!


Lois Lane is a the classic example of The Plucky Reporter in superhero-y settings, but seems to spend most of her time getting into trouble due to what she's reporting on and needing to be rescued, and it would be great if they treated Best Reporter Ever as a heroic shtick in and of itself more often.