Saturday, 30 May 2015

And on the subject of gryphons...

Via Steve D: London’s most terrifying new statue. Seriously. Yikes. What the hell.


The traditional Conpulsion gryphon figurine for the charity auction this year was white and grey with big paws, so I figured it was obviously a Snow Leopard gryphon. So what other cats and birds would make different gryphons?

Then tonight I saw these...

Thursday, 28 May 2015

All in the timing

After binge-watching four hours of Leverage then going out for a sandwich, I heard Where You At by the Bohicas for the first time and immediately made it the mental soundtrack for the “run for your lives!” getaway scene of a heist story. I think it works. It’s all about the context of how you first interact with something...

Need a baffling business?

The random startup website generator may be useful. Or amusing. Or terrifying.

Trademe, for example, is just about believable. A suspect stock trading app sounds like a good fit for Leverage.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Fallen Fantasy Adventurers

Another RPGnet birthday thread (I believe my own last year may have been the second, so the trope codifier?) for Fallen Fantasy Adventurers. Tragedy, sorrow and doom, all in a neat little paragraph or two.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

This Damned Band

A new comic created and written by Paul Cornell, This Damned Band (advance review here) runs with a modern fantasy premise - that a rock band that talks about Satanism a lot actually gets in contact with something from beyond. Horror and comedy ensue, and the comic tells the story like a behind the music doc and retrospective box set.

“One of my favourite shows is Parks and Recreation. I love that specific use of the documentary mode, where one can get reactions to camera and see intimately the gap between what people say and what they mean. So, obviously, when writing a dark comedy about how mainstream the occult was in the 1970s, P&R was a major influence.”

Monday, 25 May 2015

V20: Unwanted trailer

A man in a dark winter coat walking through a narrow alley. A girl - apparently - no older than twenty watching him from above, perched on a rooftop. She leaps off and drops down, landing in a crouch behind him.

Elegant figures moving through an art museum, under artificial light with the skylights above them dark.

Gunfire lighting up a dark empty warehouse.

A well-dressed woman stepping out of a limosine, checking her blood red lipstick in her compact.

Something almost human sitting at a chessboard, with black and red pieces.

Two figures meeting in the shade of a gnarled oak tree.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Vampire: The Masquerade Actual Play - "Unwanted"

Coming soonish to somewhere on the net sometime soon. My V20 game has paused for the summer (aptly, as vampires should really take the summer off) and I hope to get at least a shortish summary version of each session written up before we return for the autumn. In the meantime, here’s the theme song...

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Tomb: a crowdfunded SF movie from the Caribbean

TOMB sounds pretty interesting.

Oft-told tales

A drum! A drum! Macbeth doth come! Played by Michael Fassbender this time! And looking rather slo-mo-ish and dreich-weathered and post-a-certain-HBO-show.

Portrayals of familiar stories change with the times of course, as well as with purpose - my favourite example is comparing the Olivier and Branagh versions of Henry V, which could be great visual aids for Pendragon and Dark Ages Vampire respectively.

I’ve also mentioned the mood effect of weather (and the inside weather) before and the above clips demonstrate it well. Would you be happier fighting with sunlight shining on your armour or dark clouds gathering overhead?

One idea to run with this - see how the PCs deal with a classic setup differently in different moods and styles.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Disability representation

A petition for Playmobil to produce disability figures. And it wouldn’t be that difficult - there are already wheelchairs in their accessory line, for example.

Following close after first news of Makies 3D printed dolls with hearing and walking aids, birthmarks and plans for a wheelchair among their customisation options.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Art Of Fury Road

What a lovely day.

Much of it by 2000AD veteran Brendan McCarthy, to the extent he gets a writing credit.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Warcraft movie: Orcs totally a thing

Behold Orgrim Doomhammer!

Somewhere, a Games Workshop official is swearing.

Not a sentence I expected to write.

The new video for Bad Blood by Taylor Swift would have been useful when I was making a fake TV credits sequence with Hayley Williams as an action hero. ‪#‎firstworldproblems‬

The song works for Vampire too.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell

In a surprising development, the BBC has committed itself to a seven-hour adaptation of the huge historical fantasy novel Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell. Perhaps less surprisingly, they storm the period drama bits and put Doctor Who experience to good use with the magic.

Marc Warren looks alarmingly like Christopher Walken in it.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Sweeping historical epics

BBC Four has started screening Danish sweeping historical epic 1864, set around the war between Denmark and Prussia which I must admit I had never heard of. It centres around a small group of ordinary people about to be swept up in events and an archetypal romantic triangle at its heart, with cutaways to movers and shakers to provide context (as well as a modern frame story and a narrator from the time looking back on it, which seems a bit much) so it could be a useful example of making people care about history they don’t know well.

Have you ever taken part in a historical game with no outside genre elements? I think I’ve only done a few one shots here and there myself. Historical genre games, and historical campaigns for regular genre games, are often heavily informed by the period, but there are always cool powers handy. As a genre geek this is kind of inevitable for me, but historical epics appeal to me as well...

Friday, 15 May 2015

Signal Boost; Taleturn by Morgan Davie

Taleturn for story games, playing stories and the stories of games and the story of play, by Banquo-winning clever person Morgan Davie. Also features a Hillfolk series pitch based on his legendary GEAS game Providence Summer, and how to game the Riff-Off from Pitch Perfect.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

TV superheroes

Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow - both coming soon to DC’s TV universe (which does not include the Vertigo adaptations... or Gotham...) and both looking like a lot of fun. The Arthur Darvill playing a time traveller factor - and the Victor Garber playing the grownup factor - are definitely part of the appeal.

If you could recruit a team from across time for your setting, who would you pick up?

And have you ever played a legacy character?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Running around the rooftops of your setting

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate sends the roof-running hoodies to Victorian London, where they appear to be planning to overthrow the class structure, or playing at Gangs Of New York, or something.

Working mostly around the slums means the setting doesn’t seem as important as it might be. Hopefully we get to see all sides of the class conflict. Especially since the game seems to be about building an army in the slums...

Still, at least they aren’t all boys this time.

I wonder if they’ll get to blow up Parliament.

And we better get to have a fight on top of a moving train.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Black Angel

Black Angel by Roger Christian, the medieval fantasy short film that played before the original 1980 UK release of The Empire Strikes Back and then vanished into half-remembered childhood legend, is now back and free to watch online.

io9 explains some of the context here.

(At a screening and Q&A last year, I got a chance to ask and Mr. Christian confirmed that the image of the monster was influenced by Frank Frazetta - I saw Black Angel long before the painting Death Dealer so it seemed familiar in that order.)

Monday, 11 May 2015

Bell, Book And Candle

Bell, Book And Candle (filmed in 1958, adapted from a 1950 play) is a bit of urban fantasy ahead of its time - a romantic comedy about an ordinary guy falling for a witch. Unlike I Married A Witch it makes her part of a hidden modern subculture, complete with family tensions, rival groups of witches, a need for secrecy, and even an underground beatnik nightclub to meet up in.

I had it in mind when preparing a 1950s Buffy play-by-post game along with more directly teen movies like I Was A Teenage Werewolf, and I could imagine the Zodiac Club fitting into the 50s of The World Of Darkness as well.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Death Vigil

Issue one of Death Vigil, the new comic by Stjepan Sejic, is now available free in PDF. It’s kind of like a light-hearted action Wraith with semi-ghostly heroes, ancient evils, occult mysteries and special guest ghost Vikings.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Need an evocative title list?

Clarkesworld Magazine recently passed 50,000 story submissions, and checked their database for the top ten most common short story titles. Due to a number of ties, there are forty-nine titles on the list. So what would you do with...

The Gift
The Box
Lost And Found
The Hunt

... or the other thirty-nine?

This might become one of those “thirty titles collected at random” series of adventure hooks...

Need another source of random names?

On the way from the bus I passed a Megane parking, and it got me thinking it’s almost a name but not quite. And then a Yaris, an Astra, an XC-80 and an Insignia. So that’s a Star Wars adventuring party and their ship named...

Friday, 8 May 2015

Street Sam, Decker, Face, Thief, Mastermind

Shadowrun in the style of Leverage, where the planning is generally glossed over and things like decking and rigging are almost entirely covered by player-activated flashbacks. Discuss.

Leverage was purposefully designed to eliminate some of the things I couldn't stand about Shadowrun play sessions.
Cam Banks, MWP

Thursday, 7 May 2015


Sense8 is the new Netflix series from the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, about eight people who suddenly share senses and skills. Sort of like In Your Eyes but for a superhero team instead of a couple. Anyway, that’s a great hook for a team of PCs just about always knowing what everyone else is doing...

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The voting day of your setting

Elections! Voting! How much does this kind of thing happen in game settings? If political change happens it tends to be a big deal, as it should be if the game gives it due focus. A change that makes less of a difference might be interesting background for a few sessions.

Dunkelzahn the celebrity dragon becoming President in Shadowrun and promptly being assassinated was a big enough deal to get two books, despite his replacing a President who hadn’t really been established beforehand and being replaced by, er, someone once he was gone.

The practicalities of campaigning can bring in adventure hooks as well. The Dunkelzahn campaign produced a book of adventures loosely to closely connected to electioneering, candidates in danger and the like. Aberrant Worldwide Phase I covers an election in a post-superhuman-singularity world with superhuman candidates and super-genius manipulations of polls, and advice on how to run the adventure if a player character becomes a candidate. A PC becoming President would change the game immensely even if it doesn’t change the setting all that much...

Of course, RPGs work around coups more than elections, if only because you can have a coup any day of the year...

Sunday, 3 May 2015

NPC adventuring parties

Ever done this? The PCs show up to an adventure and find an NPC adventuring party has beaten them to it. They could be a Similar Squad, if you want to make it a running gag, or a different group of characters can just answer the same call.

This is something shared universes like the big superhero settings will actively avoid, so that Spider-Man can get to the secret lab when the alarm goes off without finding Captain America already there and handing the police an unconscious Electro. That kind of thing is only funny for a while.

Still, hearing about other adventurers’ deeds will make the hero business seem a bit less lonely.

On the other hand, when the PCs are adventurers for profit like dungeoneers, Shadowrunners or Ghostbusters, having a rival team chasing the same emergency and the same paycheck is a sure cause of trouble. Being shown up by an NPC party will definitely breed antagonism.

Which is of course the best time to force them to work together.

Having written this up, now considering what I could do with the idea in my current V20 game...

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Free Comic Book Day

Did you get anything?

I missed the Titan Doctor Who promo comic, I might have the eBay that...