Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Batman

Happy 75th anniversary to the Batman, first published in Detective Comics issue 27 in 1939. Back then, he had a hyphenated name, an apartment instead of a cave and an ordinary car instead of a Batmobile, but he was already “a mysterious and adventurous figure”. His identity remains unknown... for about six pages. Which is all it takes to establish that Looking Really Cool And Scary is about as good a superhero as flight or the strength to throw a train. And so a subgenre was born. (Give or take the Phantom.)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Marvel Cinematic UK

In which I am a huge nerd. (Like this is news.)

Between the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in cinemas and Revolutionary War Omega in comics shops, the inevitable happened and I got to thinking about what a Marvel movie based on the Overkill 90s Marvel UK mini-line would look like.

Multi-GM games

An RPGnet thread prompts this thought - have you played or run games with multiple GMs, at the table together or taking turns?

I haven’t done more than the occasional guest spot as GM (or a player doing that with me) since I was eleven or twelve.

(The exception being in prep, where I’ve discussed sessions and brainstormed with other GMs and players other than those involved, including Cat being co-“showrunner” in TWH, away from the table.)

A guest GM generally runs an adventure which doesn’t change much of the setting, and is expected to discuss possible ramifications with the regular GM. “I killed off the King, that’s okay, right?”

For example, I recently guest GMed in a Star Trek style SF game where I normally played the captain (conveniently missing after the first scene of this adventure) and ran the players through a ghost ship, a classic one-shot with no major effects once everything was sorted out.

The version when I was a kid was my first RPG, ye olde Fighting Fantasy, where there was no real continuity from one adventure to the other so anyone could have a go. Which was and would still be a good way for players to try their hand at GMing for a session or two.

For something with more planning involved, the GMs would naturally have to discuss things in more detail. An article in Fantasia magazine suggested various ways to deal with this to keep an ongoing game fresh - individual GMs might take various arcs, or various areas of interest within an ongoing setting, so one GM might be in charge of what the Dark Lord is up to while another deals with the Bickering Fiefdoms and another decides what the Assassins’ Guild is really planning. If the Dark Lord GM wants to put one of his agents in the Bickering Fiefdoms she discusses that with the Bickering Fiefdoms GM. It obviously involves trust between the multiple GMs.

Another option would be to have two GMs with different areas of interest at the table at the same time, to deal with a large enough group to justify this. The classic split is setting and rules, but one could be the NPC GM instead, for example. It would obviously help when the players split the party, as well, as long as the GMs can communicate.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Prospect Park Dusk

Check this comic out. About a character in a difficult situation trying to make it work. Adding another relevant tag would be a spoiler.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier follows the Nazi-stomping romp with a melancholy-tinged Bourne-style revival of the “don’t trust anybody” 70s political thriller. Probably the least light-hearted of the Marvel movies so far, which is an interesting way to go. Still has some stomping in it of course.

And it may cause some issues for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two.

And it has a mid credits scene and an end credits scene.

And the lack of billing for Black Widow in the title really does seem like an oversight.

And for the TWH audience specifically - Jenny Agutter returns.

Pathfinder audio drama by Big Finish

Via Rose: A trailer and character voice previews for the first release. And the range from BF.

An interesting choice here - audio gives the immediacy of drama and the budgetary freedom of fiction, and Big Finish know their way around the dialogue-as-description issue that audio drama often has thanks to years of Doctor Who and more. And being a British company the signature/iconic characters mostly sound British apart from the slightly American fighter, in classic Hollywood fantasy style.

(And yes of course I've thought of doing games as audio plays.)

Monday, 24 March 2014

My Blood And Smoke NPCs

Matt M McElroy asked who is the Prince, and who else is in power, in currently running Vampire games of both WODs on the OP and RPGnet forums:

So I responded. No big spoilers, they’ve almost all dropped by now. But still...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Varys is totes Mekhet.

Also for your amusement, I can now see how close I was with my suggestions for the Vampire: The Requiem clans as Westeros-style noble houses. I still like how creepy I made them in passing.

(Although the Nosferatu came out a bit too Masquerade. The scary-but-not-ugly Nosferatu might be the Faceless Men of the setting...)

And for comparison, a joke about the Antediluvians in Masquerade which I also think could be fun to play:

“Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and in the years of the rise of the sons of Seth, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like black mantles beneath the moon... But the proudest kingdom was Enoch, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Troile, the Brujah, black-haired, sullen-eyed, spear in hand...”

My own private Rohan

All caught up on Game Of Thrones and, well, it remains a curate’s egg. Something good happening (to anyone other than Daenarys) still makes me cheer by dint of its rarity. The big twist of season 3 was also the most spoiled moment of the year in all geek media. But I still get a happy whenever Joffrey oversteps and has to back down.

It also has me thinking of doing a classic fantasy world, with the Bickering Fiefdoms and the Goblin Hordes and the Pirate Country and the Blasted Hellmouth and all. Mostly just to do something different with it, while also playing with knights and castles and dragons and things.

I’ve been the voice of reason trying to unite Bickering Fiefdoms against an overwhelming external threat (Tribes in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, for the record) and would love to give players that Gondor Calls For Aid moment.

Probably not what I’ll actually run next year, but some fun idle thinking for now.

Happy Hellboy Day!

20 years since he hit the scene (and not long until he hit his first zombie Nazi) raise a glass to the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator! Always ready to solve apocalyptic problems the player character way.

Hellboy straddles the line of superhero and urban fantasy, a public figure as well as a monster hunter. He was a state secret in his first film and then outed in the second, but I always liked the original comics version where people are pretty casual around ol’ Red, reflecting his own casual approach to his calling.

He starred in his own RPG (which is the only GURPS rulebook I own, having many supplements for use with other games) as well as a HeroClix set.

His influence on The Watch House includes various monsters of varying degrees of affability, that Everybody Knows episode I never ran, and probably most significantly borrowing Rupert Evans to play William.

And if I ever carry out my threat to do a crossover Urban Fantasy Hero Avengers one-shot, he’s definitely on the list, along with Buffy of course. (I can never decide which wizard called Harry to use, though. I should just go with Mildred Hubble...)

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Buffy's back!

New Greg Rucka comic Veil is in pretty good company in this Dark Horse Comics promotion marking the start of Buffy Season 10, the Gail Simone Tomb Raider comic sequel to the reboot game, and a new run for Ghost.

But of course we’re here to talk Buffy in particular.

(About time somebody picked up the RPG licence again, eh? Eh? Anybody? Maybe? Please?)

Season 10 kicks off where S9 and Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs’s previous run on Angel And Faith ended, with magic back but unpredictable, vampires being weird (I know, right?) tensions in the gang and what happened with Giles being addressed. No huge developments just yet unless you’re joining the comics now, but hey, it’s issue 1. Unlike S8 issue 1, which introduced an army of slayers and started with Buffy jumping out of a helicopter wielding an anti-shield blaster thingy. We start here with a regular old-fashioned zompire smackdown. As Buffy herself notes, “sometimes it’s good to get back to basics.” Of course, S9 was a back to basics season as well, to an extent...

Monday, 17 March 2014

Veronica Mars

Having rewatched season one of Veronica Mars in advance of the film I helped back on Kickstarter (enough that I maybe paid for someone’s nail polish for one scene) I then borrowed and mainlined season two over the weekend. It’s a fun show apart from the tendency to mood whiplash due to its style (Buffyish snarky teen hero) and substance (crimes including murder and rape, class warfare...) sometimes cutting against each other.

Gameable? Well, there’s a somewhat similar example game sketch in the Cortex+ Hacker’s Guide (on the same page as not-Firefly, not-BSG and not-Supernatural, all of which had official Cortex iterations unlike VM). And a “Bubblegumshoe” teen mystery set forthcoming if you want to focus on the clues rather than the drama.

The tricky bit with a Veronica Mars RPG would probably be juggling ongoing mysteries with mystery-of-the-week, and keeping it grounded, since that’s something the show often has trouble with. And I’m not that good at running mysteries myself, which wouldn’t help. Adding monsters really does simplify things in this case.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Primeval Evolution

A second sourcebook for Primeval, covering seasons four and five (leaving only New World undocumented) and featuring loads of monsters from prehistory and various dark futures, several playable groups and conspiracies, three adventures, and suggestions for continuing the game after the world-threatening anomaly cluster at the end of the series run.

(Also featuring the Neptune Foundation, but not the one from Trinity.)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

17th Century Surrealist Characters

Giovanni Battista Bracelli’s etchings depict humanoid figures made of fences, chains, chests of drawers, paddles, pots and pans...

I could imagine them as possible encounters for anything from Warhammer to Doctor Who. Animated objects in the style of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? Automata constructed from whatever’s handy? Hearth spirits needing something like hands?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A Lance With Dragons

Been looking back at more fantasy stuff of late, due to (a) an invitation to play in an adaptation of Dragonlance and (b) Game Of Thrones series three hitting my film rental service.

Trying not to cross the streams too much.

They both have the return of dragons ushering in the revival of lost magic and the rise of new religions and forgotten gods, but their style and tone are a bit different...

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014

How it all began

28 questions about how you started RPGs originally meant for the 40th anniversary of D&D, via Siskoid and HeroPress.

Having spent plenty of time and wordcount doing a variant on the Vampire version that spun off from a similar run a few months ago, and not being a big D&D person, I am interested in a purely academic sense. to see how different people relate to different games.

But as several questions seem a lot more “first RPG” than “D&D” and I first played D&D after more than a decade at the table, I could try answering for Fighting Fantasy...