Monday, 30 September 2013

Dr. Strange!

Dammit Cracked, now I want to run a Crappy 70s Urban Fantasy TV Show game.

(Mostly because of the opening scroll and credits full of creepy paraphernalia, which suggests something more awesome than delivered.)

As noted in the article, changing the premise somewhat is a time-honoured tradition in Doctor Strange adaptations and restarts.

(In this case the decision to keep him working in a hospital, and on a psych ward so he would have a good reason to meet people who have been possessed or are being followed by monsters only they can see, is a solid call for a low-budget TV version.)

Indeed, I did it myself.

When Marvel ran an open call for its relaunched Epic imprint (which oddly produced comics almost entirely by professionals and then folded) I sent a proposal for Dr. Strange in the style of Angel. Nice coat, fights with monsters and all...

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Blood And Smoke

Running Vampire: The Requiem - Blood And Smoke at GEAS.

(Also, oddly, we have another Requiem game, and a Masquerade game. And Orpheus, and a zombie apocalypse.)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

... has now started here, and will be back next week and the week after, so now I can temporarily un-cross my fingers and look at its RPG playability.

Pretty damn high.

Small group? Check. Eccentric specialists? Check. Neat mix of high tech and making it up as we go? Check. Option to bring in superhumans on both sides? Check. Wide remit which mostly boils down to dealing with “weird crap”? Check.

I have a faint idea what happens in the next couple, but am purposely avoiding spoilers, so for now here’s what I would put in a season of such a setup...

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sharing the spotlight

850 posts, and happy Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. day!

It won’t show here until Friday, so watching Avengers (Assemble) again to mark the occasion.

One of my favourite details is that all of the heroes each beat Loki in various ways throughout the story.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The imaginary casting game

I sometimes “cast” actors as PCs and NPCs, borrowing some of their signature tics for the characterisation and possibly using pictures for handouts, particularly in media-based games. The Watch House was full of this, and I’d even worry about the budget of the imagined TV series when looking for regulars and guest stars. It was also amusing when we predicted a few actors’ future roles here and there - James McAvoy as a psychic, Emilia Fox as an Arthurian witch, Henry Cavill as a superhero based on his having auditioned to play Superman in 2005 before getting it in 2012.

Sometimes it happens the other way round as well. SFX magazine makes this a part of its regular Wishlist feature - often with specific roles in mind in adaptations, suggesting fan casting, but sometimes with a totally blank slate.

At the moment, rumours are flying around the geekosphere about potential casting for the new Star Wars trilogy. I just saw that Saoirse Ronan might be reading for a major role, which could be a hero (possibly Han and Leia’s daughter) or a villain. Who would I cast her as in Star Wars? Probably something that showcases her sad, wistful wise-beyond-her-years quality, like the leader of a lost people, although she’d also be great as a villain who appears to be one of the good guys...

It could be an Iron GM style ingredient - what role would a particular actor take in a given setting? Who would Benedict Cumberbatch play in the film of your classic fantasy game, or Steve Buscemi in your urban fantasy series, or Lena Headey in your space opera? Do you cast them very much to type or go against it? (I’d love to see Lena as captain of the next Enterprise, an idea I had after seeing her as Sarah Connor but before Cersei Lannister.)

It Be Talk Like A Pirate Day!

That it be!

Are there pirates in your game?

Well, why not? 

Sunday, 15 September 2013


I love it when a small-scale conflict erupts en masse in a sequel. I want a scene like this in Star Wars for reals.

The Jedi Parkour works for me too.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The League Of Extraordinary Draculas

Kim Newman on appropriating characters and plots, particularly vampires but plenty of others, in his Anno Dracula series and elsewhere.

I’ve talked about using Dracula or a similar fictional superstar before. Of course, at the moment there are four or five spins on Dracula coming to TV and films - enough that everybody at the table could play a version of him.

Obscure gamer footnote - Newman’s heroic vampire Genevieve is also lifted from another text. She first started out in Drachenfels, a Warhammer novel he wrote as Jack Yeovil. Which is itself full of odd references.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Via Rose: eight reasons to care about the Onyx Path NWOD revisions. Some fine, fair, some facetious (Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Really?) but cool to see coverage in the wider geekosphere.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Prequels, preludes, prologues

JK Rowling returns to the Harry Potter universe with her first film script, about Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, set in the 1920s starting in New York.

So that’s Roaring Twenties Monster Hunters. Okay. Fingers crossed for Tommy guns versus dragons.

It’s a pretty distant part of the setting to pick up - nearly a century ago, in a country barely covered in the canon so far (of course also the country the studio is based in) and possibly a shift in genre from a largely serialised epic to monster of the week (or monster of the film) adventures. And will she write the novelisation? She’s always been wary of other people writing in the setting, which is the cited reason there’s no Potter RPG.

What would a similarly out-there bit of backstory for your setting be like?

Who wrote the Watchers’ VAMPYR book? Who invented the lightsaber? What happened to the seven rings for the Dwarf lords? There are answers in the various settings’ spinoff novels, but never mind.

What was Sigmar really like? Is Caine real? Who killed Slider? - And if you’re playing Aberrant, this is like running an Adventure! session mid-series to give the players a different perspective on Divis Mal.

Who was the first superhero in your setting? How did first contact between your main alien species go? Who founded the city-state the PCs hail from? How did the War begin?

The Holy Grail

This is essentially the reverse of what this film does to Pendragon...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


The Guardian has assembled a panel of TV writers and producers to hear pitches from anyone. I kind of have to try it, don’t I? And as I do, look at the categories and consider how they would work for pitching games.

A 20-word hook – also called a “log line”
This is a short description of the overall idea, and sets out what you want to convey.

Comparative pitch
“The aesthetic of Mad Men meets the pace and action of 24...”

Your most beautifully crafted 50-100 words about your idea – words that will make the panel immediately want to hear more.

A quote from the main character

Create (or find) an image on Instagram or Vine that best represents your work and link to it here

Friday, 6 September 2013

Go get this

New Bundle Of Holding collection of indie RPG ebooks for charity includes 3:16 and Our Last Best Hope.

Possible games at GEAS 2013

Edinburgh University’s gaming society.

Sundays. (Also meeting Wednesdays, but I generally go Sundays.)

Either afternoon or evening, not trying to do both.

Vampire. (Probably evening for obvious reasons. Probably V20, as Blood & Smoke isn’t out yet.)
Either set now for simplicity, or the 1920s for style. Now obviously has more general appeal and gets right to the personal horror side of things, but I like the idea of Kindred with tommy guns and flappers with fangs, depending on where it falls on the Boardwalk Empire to The Great Gatsby sliding scale of violence to decadence...

Something lighter. (Lighter than Vampire? I know, right?) (So maybe afternoon.)
Current idea, influenced by Afterlife Inc. and TechXorcists, “top men” fighting monsters for an underfunded government agency in a humorous urban fantasy game. A mix of Buffy and Parks And Recreation.

It’s about two weeks too early for Agents Of SHIELD. Damn it.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Everybody in the game in one room

What kind of event would bring every PC and remotely friendly NPC in a given setting together?

What would it look like if every major not-immediately-hostile character in the setting met in one room?

The Council of Elrond in The Lord Of The Rings and assorted councils of war in various epics, the ball at Netherfield in Pride And Prejudice and The Prom in Buffy, Friday night at Rick’s in Casablanca, The Five Doctors, Poirot calling all the suspects together to reveal who the killer is, one of those mass superhero crossover meetings that you really need someone like George Perez to draw...

One-off salon-style LARPs such as convention freeforms like Blood & Betrayal tend to focus on such events, but this has me thinking about such big social and/or political events in an ongoing tabletop game. Social events and political gatherings will have different feels, but both have plenty of room for multiple agendas, feuds and conflicts, and ways for the PCs to get in trouble.

Vampire: The Masquerade starts with one of these. Baptism by Fire in the first and second edition rulebook puts the PCs and all the vampire NPCs in the sample setting in a room together for a party at the prince's request/demand. This is admittedly only seven NPCs, but it sets a significant precedent, particularly for the live-action version.

The hard part in a tabletop version is keeping all the NPCs straight. If there’s a player you can draft in to play some of them, that would be a big help, particularly when you have two or more NPCs in a single conversation...

One important question for such an event is who the PCs would want to avoid. And whether the players would want them to be able to. If Ilsa had managed to avoid Rick, Casablanca would still have some great jokes but not much of a plot.

Blood & Betrayal

And on the subject of ship-based LARPs, sadly I will not be attending LA By Night but I’m watching news about it with interest/envy. Its big draw is the launch of the new edition of MET Vampire: The Masquerade LARP rules, with a special premiere game, Blood & Betrayal, which is then going to be made available as a scenario for other events.

It naturally looks pretty big (tickets have run over two hundred) but should be scalable easily enough, as the outline includes several subplots as well as the main in-character reason for the gathering. (I’d drop at least one of them if I were running an adaptation myself, but never mind.)

The central plot hook - hunters are targeting vampires in the area suspiciously well, someone could be selling them out - is nice and solid, with plenty of opportunities for investigations, accusations, framing and witch hunts. In a tabletop version, I could easily imagine the PCs being the only group actively seeking the truth while almost everyone else uses it as an excuse to settle other scores...

Mary Celeste, the classic contained LARP

The Final Voyage Of The Mary Celeste

... the ship is found, abandoned, its cargo untouched. The crew is never found. Over the years, many bizarre theories have arisen to explain what happened on that fateful night, from aliens, to sea monsters, to time travelers... But what if they were all true?

Now available in a pro-quality ebook, free, as seen on this RPGnet thread. Nice, con-friendly, just about ready to run if you have a couple folks spare.

Note: silly.

Afterlife Inc.

The comics pitch Faith Erin Hicks has had rejected most often about an office dealing with what dead people need to move on, starring a dead person who has no idea what she needs.

I immediately see amusing possibilities.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

What aren't you telling me?

Secrets and how to use them in fiction... and life... by John Ostrander.

What secrets do your characters keep? Does the GM know them, or the other players?

Who is the man behind the mask? Why is the name of the Doctor a secret worth dying for?

Dead Men Tell No Tales

And then there was the time I maybe made the Gangrel Mariner bloodline from Vampire: The Masquerade seem like they could be scary.

Nothing that doesn’t seem obvious, really - waterlogged corpses + pirates = The Fog - but still a bit proud all things considered.