Wednesday, 29 January 2014

You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

Today sees another 50th anniversary - the release of Dr. Strangelove - Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

Possibly the best Fiasco example of play before the Coen brothers started making theirs. A succession of blunders and decisions taken by lunatics brings humanity to the brink of annihilation.

This kind of scenario often appears in one-shot LARPs and not-quite-LARP games with large casts of PCs yelling at each other in conference rooms, some of them trying to avert the war, others to set it off or steer it towards their pet projects. I wonder how many of them end with the whistling sound of the Bomb dropping? Probably most of them, because that’s the punchline...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

ST Wild for Noir Vampire, Cthulhu crossovers, plot hooks, and a view of the writer heading back to running LARPs. Good luck, Shannon!

"At some point a riot becomes self-steering..."

Propulsion had a slight GM staffing issue when, er, one of the GMs who had pitched a game in advance was there.

So I reran my Conpulsion 2013 Doctor Who adventure. This time the student characters started a riot as a distraction.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


Gumshoe system time-travelling investigation and action from Pelgrane, already funded at base level on Kickstarter and four stretch goals (one which involves pulp action and Nazis with dinosaurs) already unlocked.

(Not to be confused with the BBC history series. Although an episode guide for it could provide quite a few historical turning points to use as plot hooks. The Killer Cloud! The Iron Coffin! The Wave That Destroyed Atlantis!)

Monday, 20 January 2014

When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.

When in doubt have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand. This could get to be pretty silly, but somehow it didn’t seem to matter.
Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art Of Murder

It’s always good to have a spare enemy you can introduce Chandler style in case of emergency.

I did that tonight for the first post-holiday session of Blood And Smoke, introducing two new players’ characters, bringing forward a so-far minor subplot, and bringing in two guys in a van armed with MP5s and crucifixes. Why were they there? Good question. One the PCs aren't cleared for.

What constitutes a good drop-in group?

An entirely new enemy, who wants the MacGuffin, or wants to kill the PCs, or indeed wants to kill the PCs’ enemies.
An existing faction or a new group connected to an existing faction. This means you just need a reason for them to crash in rather than having to create them.
An enemy of an enemy, an established contact, something that one or more of the PCs have in their backgrounds which has never appeared before.

As noted on the TV Tropes page for Chandler’s Law: The Dungeons & Dragons adventure Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade suggests using this trope, and includes a table of possibilities for who exactly is kicking down the door and why.

(In related Vampire news, Justin Achilli proofs Anarchs Unbound live online.)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Alexander Graham Bell - speed hydrofoil designer

Yes, of course he is best known for the telephone - but he didn’t stop there. No, he wanted to make the fastest marine vessel ever. So he did. This is the kind of polymath crazy one expects from pulp superscientists, not actual people.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Give it all up and go on the run

Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a nice fun game-friendly series that hasn’t so far gone mad enough to need an episode-by-episode analysis.

But this week...

The Voynich Manuscript

... is online. SAN loss 1d3/1d6.

Best theory I ever saw was that it was an in-character text for a fictional setting, like an IC sourcebook...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Friday, 10 January 2014

Vampire plot hook by Justin Achilli

In two weeks’ time I will be preparing for Propulsion, here in Edinburgh. I will not be at Warpcon in Cork, where Vampire: The Masquerade developer Justin Achilli is guest of honour and running this. Damn it.

I quote:
A Secret Poorly Kept — A Vampire: The Masquerade Story
Here’s the Vampire scenario I’ll be running at Warpcon in Cork at the end of the month!  
A mysterious Kindred has invited a host of Kindred to a private auction hosted in his domain. The lot to be auctioned is none other than a torpid Methuselah — a childe of one of the founders of the 13 clans of the undead.
With such a valuable prize in the offering, danger and intrigue are sure to accompany the auction. Is the blood of the Methuselah genuine? Who is the host and how did he come by such a treasure? Who are these other Kindred and can they be trusted to honor the outcomes of the auction? What is the blood price of another vampire’s soul?

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year, New Game

DriveThru are selling some choice games at half price for PDFs, as noted here by Stew, developer of one of them, Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary. I just grabbed a PDF of Leverage for less than the price of a monthly magazine.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

In the meantime, I will make my own Star Trek...

Still not quite short enough to be a proper drabble. Pilot concept borrowed from Jamie Wheeler:

The bridge of the Enterprise shook as it dove through the corona of the dying star.

Captain Carter looked to the flight control station to her left. “Get us out of here!”

Lieutenant X’ki’t’ikrit gave a nod and its four clawed hands danced across the screens. The Enterprise veered to port high, and Carter could feel the safety straps in her chair tighten to compensate. “Clear of the collapsing gravity field,” the helmsbeing chattered, its antennae settling close to its head. To its right, Navigator Chu slumped in his chair and let out the breath he’d been holding.

“Take us into phase,” the Captain ordered, and Chu happily obliged, setting the coordinates to send the ship past light speed into phasespace. Carter watched the star tear itself apart on the rear monitor. Frowning.

“I want to know who killed that star system.”

I want a new Star Trek

Between impending-50th-anniversary talk and that recent thread grumbling about the way Enterprise ended, this seems to have circled back in my thoughts again.

Personally, I would take what I like about the new films (the hectic pacing, the heroically capable but sometimes conflicted crew, and the KABOOM) and apply it to new stories. Crank up the Weird Level of on-screen and in-crew aliens to at least the level of modern Doctor Who. That kind of thing.

Also, Lena Headey as the Captain.

Chat to some of the biggest names around

RPGnet chat to have a games industry all-star chat with, potentially, lots of people. Three weeks advance notice.