Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Multiple Reality Crossover of your setting

At the moment, Marvel and DC are both doing big superhero crossovers about multiple parallel worlds colliding and fighting. There are a few settings out there with fleshed-out parallel worlds, so how would a game with a sufficiently high Weird Level cope with a bunch of them turning up at once?

For a more isolated example, Stargate SG-1 covered this in one episode, and it seems none of the visiting parallels had been established in the series’ previous parallel-related episodes.

If you have existing parallels bring them in. If you need more, sketch out some options. What would a Silver Age version of your modern supers game be like, for example?

As a GM, I’ve seen one very effective way to quickly make a parallel feel different... shuffle the PCs. Player 1 will player Player 2’s character differently even if the rest of the universe is the same. (Not to be tried if the players will resent the resulting characterisations of their PCs...)

A game all about warring parallels is possible as well. See GURPS Time Travel, and Fringe... In this case it could be interesting to let the players create their alternate selves and play them in some sessions, to ground the different world.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura is a well-stocked and user-friendly collection of Weird from all over the world, easily searched by category and location. I just found out about it, so I thought I should pass it on ASAP.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Dead By Dawn 2015

Dead By Dawn, Edinburgh’s friendly local horror film festival was this weekend, hence the somewhat cryptic posts over the last three days.

So, looking at the new feature films for game-friendly plots and ideas...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Friday, 24 April 2015

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Avengers: Age Of Ultron left me giddy, and also exhausted. The shawarma scene at the end of the first film? That was me. I ate and went to bed and then got up again to talk about it. My thoughts, which I can safely predict are going to be a bit rambling:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


DC Super Hero Girls is a new development in female-friendly superhero works. Not sure what it says that two of the seven heroes are Batman spinoffs and two more are Batman villains, but never mind. It’s a pity Amethyst isn’t in the lineup, and that her cartoon was a one-off.

This could be a major step in bringing in potential fans who feel excluded. Or, if done badly, it could be a cringe-inducing mess, but let’s try and stay positive here.

How do you market to people who feel left out?

(I like that Batgirl’s yellow Docs from her recent awesome comics revamp make the jump.)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Father Ted

Father Ted celebrates its twentieth anniversary this evening. It shows what you can do with a small regular cast and a flexible approach to reality.

You let Dougal do a funeral?!


Got a Star Wars game? Got an R2 unit you’d like a visual reference for? This gallery of custom variants by ninety artists based on the Sideshow Toys figure contains several that could work... as well as plenty that are bonkers. Insane crossover bonus: R2-Dalek. And Oscar the Grouch living in an old R2.

The Power Of Fiction

In the real world, fiction can change the world - give people insights and create feelings they wouldn't otherwise have.

The Alan Wake games take it totally literally, running with the premise of being able to make stories real - and giving that power to a crime and horror writer who has to take a stand against horror turning real.

Alan Wake 2 got as far as a pitch, with some interesting monsters (hunched figures jumping on and over cars, and especially the guy turning into a flock of ravens, borrowed for the scaled-down sequel American Nightmare) and used making fiction real as a puzzle and a weapon. Set up the scene of an accident, cause the accident to happen. The bit at the end feels like kind of a stretch, though.

Set some parameters (like defining a Weird Level in rules terms?) and it could be an interesting power, particularly when two creators start using it against each other...

Too weird for Masters Of The Universe

Via Rose Bailey, who has been thinking about a kid-friendly fantasy superhero setting:

The original mini-comics that came with the Masters Of The Universe toys, before the first cartoon, are going to be re-released in a single book. And they have some pretty weird stuff in them, even by the standards of a setting built out of gimmicks for action figures before anyone decided it needed a plot. Example: the many-armed giant god who lives in the centre of the planet and holds the continents in place from below. And who never got a figure until 2012. I particularly like how casual He-Man is about the whole thing.

There’s a lot to be said for a setting that can take that sort of thing being dropped in for the sake of one adventure...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Miniaturising your setting

Tiny Ant-Man billboards. Love it.

Miniaturising characters, expanding them to giant size, or presenting them with a Lilliputian or Brobdingnagian version of the world, is one of those classic high Weird Level ideas. It needs magic and/or a whole lot of technobabble to get away with this one.

There seems to be quite a lot of it about right now...

This year we’ll see a live-action version of DC’s Atom as well as Marvel’s Ant-Man, taking advantage of how well modern effects can cope with this. Phil Masters has recently published a FATE-based wainscot fantasy RPG called The Small Folk about Borrowers-style stories of tiny people in our big world.

Ever shrunk (or embiggened) your characters?

Sunday, 19 April 2015

"Reality, what's that?"

Joss Whedon on The Avengers, working within existing parameters, what comes next, exhaustion, and some Buffy and Firefly.

“The first question we always ask is: ‘What is the way in for someone who has never seen a superhero movie?’ You need to be thinking about everybody all the time.”

On the subject of reviving series, as is happening elsewhere:

“I love these shows,” he says. “And I think about it sometimes but I’m very wary of the monkey’s paw where something you love comes back but not quite as good. Firefly was filmed with a sword of Damocles over its head every episode. That meant every episode had to be as good as we could humanly make it. We didn’t have time to experiment or explore ideas that were just OK. We had to know what the next story needed to be. It drove us in a way we might not have been driven if we were in a place that had supported what we were doing. I think about revisiting a lot of those things but I also think, well, what else you got? I don’t want to be done creating new universes.”

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Making a near future that won't date

Suggestions from io9. Unlikely to be an issue at the gaming table unless, say, your cyberpunk game runs a very long time, but good when you come to write settings down.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary

My brother has just acquired three first edition M.R. James books. The ghost stories are very familiar of course, the non-fiction book about Abbeys is not. And it has colour photos and fold-out maps! It would be such a good handout.

But I don’t dare fold the maps out. Partially because they’re old, but mostly because I know how that ends in an M.R. James story.

Caring in interactive fiction

... is much the same as caring in other fiction, as Dave Morris says.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Star Wars Episode VII, second trailer

The Force Awakens.

Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie... the mask of Kylo Ren... running and explosions and new and different Stormtroopers and more!

As if a million voices cried out, and suddenly squee-ed...

Excitement level - approximately original Episode I trailer. Probably slightly below due to, well, Episode I. But damn that was a good trailer it had...

And this was at the end of a Star Wars Celebration panel with old and new stars... including BB-8.

Transferable game design lessons from LARP

Tatiana Delgado on what she learned from designing LARPs and took into other forms of gaming.

Shared via Cat Tobin

The Spirit, the animated movie that never was

Ouch. Right in the what-I-always-wanted.

3D printable miniatures of every Monster in the Manual

From Tiamat to the Gazebo.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The WOD MMO, a year later

CCP shut down the World Of Darkness MMO a year ago today. Onyx Path has stepped in with tabletop books and support.

There’s a wealth of concept art and screenshots from test versions online - the cover of Invite Only started there, and I’ve swiped several of the locations and some of the specific plot hooks for my current Vampire: The Masquerade game, like the Gallows Tree that turns up in a lot of the art.

I’ve spoken about this before, of course, but here we are a year later and still wanting more.

Monday, 13 April 2015


So between Person Of Interest, Arrow and now Daredevil, Gotham isn’t even one of the three most Batman shows currently on TV any more. (Which shows up what a peculiar idea Gotham is, among other things.)

As arguments go for comparing him to Batman, Daredevil is an acrobatic avenging martial-arts-focused vigilante with the uncanny sonar-like hearing of... um... a bat. And this is before mentioning Frank Miller or Ben Affleck.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Happy Tabletop Day

Onyx Path, among others, have some crazy PDF deals going. Want the Mummy: The Curse rulebook for $4.99? Or each of the Trinity Universe rulebooks? Go for it.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Feed me!

Somewhat off-topic, but as it was home to ORC for over a year of Saturday afternoons and to board game evenings, I will mention the Kickstarter to bring back Illegal Jack’s anyway. A well-fed GM is a slightly less grouchy GM.

A player recap can give you a very different perspective

I made a point to have an editing round for The Watch House before posting the AP reports - especially useful when I couldn’t read my own transcriptions. One of the players (hello Rick!) recaps sessions of my current V20 game based on his notes, and it’s always interesting to note what does - and doesn’t - get flagged up. What is important to each player, what stands out for them?

And I can’t help but imagine how players would describe their rather different experiences in Game Of Thrones reflecting how the GM treats them...

Tyrion: I was denied any thanks for saving the city and my nephew plotted to have me killed.
Arya: I went on the run with one of our worst enemies, and arrived just in time to see my brother’s troops being murdered and fail to rescue him and our mother.
Jon: I had to kill one of my superiors to join the Wildlings, fell in love with one of them, and then when I got back I couldn’t kill an innocent to prove my loyalty so now she’s hunting me down.
Daenerys: I had the best knight in the world join my party, used my free point of Language: Old Valerian to get an army of slave ninjas to follow me, overthrew a dictatorship in one night and got a new boyfriend!
Everyone else: ...
Daenerys: What?

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Dirty Dozen IN SPAAAAACE. Again.

Star Trek: Renegades, among other things, has me thinking again about what to do with a space opera exploration kind of setting. I would want to keep the optimism. Which this doesn’t look like it does.

And it got me imagining the reverse - something like a Star Wars fan film about a big ship with a well-drilled and non-ragtag crew. (Who may or may not be lobster people.)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Adding new options can affect old ones

“The Lasombra are kind of like the evil Ventrue.”
“... I thought the Ventrue were the evil Ventrue.”

In the above, I’m being somewhat serious. The Sabbat on stage in Vampire: The Masquerade brought in some interesting ideas but definitely shifted the game’s focus.

Edit, quoting Bruce Baugh, author of Clanbook Lasombra Revised and the Lasombra Trilogy:

“The Lasombra are the extra-evil Ventrue.”

As he’s thought about what makes them cool a great deal, I bow to his superior knowledge. And back away to a well-lit area.

Conpulsion observations

Simon Burley discusses his games at Conpulsion and some other things from around it. He seems pretty happy all round, which is (of course) a relief!

I would have happily jumped in on a number of games, including his and especially All Of Space And Time, as well as Gregor Hutton’s demo of Darkest Moment and missing yet another chance to play Hell 4 Leather. I will freely admit that one reason I got Stuart Boon to put his Call Of Cthulhu adventure into the charity auction was so I could buy a space.

(Also, 1400th post here!)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Conpulsion Overboard Day Two

So very tired. Thank you GMs, guests, organisers, blueshirts, and attendees.

Also, got to play Quizmaster Bingo - questions got a collective laugh, a collective groan, an “ohhh, I know that!”, an “I said that!” and best of all an “I hate you, Craig!” from Stew Wilson. Quiz in play-it-here version to follow when less...zzzzz

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Conpulsion Overboard Day One

Ran panel and survived. Yay for panel!

Played Sandcastles! Yay for Sandcastles!

Bought things at charity auction. Yay for things!

Died in Call Of Cthulhu as is only proper! Yay for Cthulhu!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Captain Cosmos!

George RR Martin is developing a new show at HBO called Captain Cosmos, in which:

“At the dawn of the age of TV in 1949, a visionary young writer creates a science fiction series that tells stories no one else will dare to tell.”.

It sounds a bit like the reasoning behind the social commentary episodes of The Twilight Zone and Star Trek - allegory hidden by genre.

Fingers crossed we get to see a fair chunk of the show within a show as well...

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Lore Of The Clans

A combined Clanbook for V20, so I can inform my players and also probably knock them out.

The Tabletop RPG Show

Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop RPG spinoff to have its own setting, Titansgrave: The Ashes Of Valkanato be published by Green Ronin using their AGE system.

Based on the title alone, it sounds fairly high fantasy...

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

April Fools

Trust nothing. Question everything.

And maybe check out the free Historical Angst supplement for The World Of Darkness. (Stats for Carnacki the Ghost Finder!)