Saturday, 31 October 2015

You deserve a parade!

This year, Hallowe’en falls on Saturday. (You may have noticed.) As a result, I’m going to two celebratory things - and missing three more, one of which is the Samhuinn Fire Festival (which my brother helped start back in the 20th Century) this year taking over the Grassmarket shopping and entertainment plaza from about 7pm. And this is still not that big compared to, say, the Village Halloween Parade in New York.

Ever have a game run into a public event this big? A tickertape parade for a superhero team, the Olympic Games, a Vampire Grand Ball, the Winter Court at Legend Of The Five Rings - something that takes over a big chunk of the regular setting for a day, a night, or several weeks? Something which is supposed to be fun rather than a big political throwdown... although politics is always there. And have you featured one that didn’t include a fight at some point?

Michaelangelo's David, Venus De Milo, the Thinker... action figures

From Figma, makers of damn good (and rather pricey) 6” scale figures of Rodin’s Thinker, Michaelangelo’s David and the Venus De Milo. They will look a bit tall next to your 5” scale Weeping Angels, in case you collect articulated replicas of statues in particular. Images contain nudity, obviously.

And Venus comes with attachable arms so you can illustrate various ideas about what they were doing...

(And now I want to do a Promethean: The Created one-shot...)

Friday, 30 October 2015

Star Trek

For post 1701, I have to talk about Star Trek really.

There hasn’t been an official Star Trek RPG since before Enterprise (an entire universe ago!) but plenty of unofficial ones like Far Trek, Lasers And Feelings and the new edition of Starships And Spacemen, and hacks for systems from Cortex+ to The World Of Darkness (for the Mirror Universe) - I’ve done one myself for Cinematic Unisystem.

With current Star Wars and Doctor Who games on the market, it’s the obvious gap. But then it’s also a massive rights issue - after all, nobody’s entirely sure who can make a TV series...

Hallowe'en Listening: Ken And Robin

Ken (Hite) And Robin (D. Laws) Talk About Stuff is always worth a listen, but the Hallowe’en special features a look at the origins of the modern holiday, and a 30s adventure hook.

They also discuss the North Berwick Witch Trials. Not my nation’s proudest moment, but the story must not be forgotten. (Warning: they pronounce Berwick as written.)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

White Wolf acquisition

I can’t say much about Paradox Interactive buying White Wolf, with a new site up already, as I’ve just heard about it.

My personal take is that I can say that their new Lead Storyteller, Martin Ericsson, is very nice.

And can clearly take me in a fight. He is Dracula, after all.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter is based on one of Vin Diesel’s D&D characters, but with the modern setting and veteran monster-hunting hero I’d use Angel. (Even though one character is introduced as a fourteenth level warlock.)

Sadly it does not feature his party from D&Diesel. Dupont Dupont, Dwarven Rogue, is sorely missed.

Bundle Of Tentacles

Eww! But such good value! Call Of Cthulhu and related books in the Bundle Of Holding.

Halo 5 concept art

Halo 5 concept art. Because so pretty.

I feel like they should be playing Marvel Heroic. Or Vampire.

Deborah Ann Woll organising a D&D game for her Daredevil castmates.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Would you go to the Yakuza children's Hallowe'en party?

Sadly, this year the Yakuza has cancelled the annual Hallowe’en event for children due to a schism in the largest gang.

This is apparently something of a tradition for the hundred-year-old syndicate. As the report notes: “The gang hosts other community events, and was among the first to distribute water and food to survivors of the Kobe earthquake in January 1995.”

It really demonstrates how differently organisations can be seen at ground level compared to their reputation elsewhere, I think. Ever had a reveal like that in a game?

Monday, 26 October 2015

Scream Queens

Oh-kay... Scream Queens was apparently too OTT for American Horror Story. Let that sink in for a moment.

It’s a guignol sitcom caricature of the Greek sorority/fraternity system at US college campuses, with added murder. While the central character is a grotesque herself, the grounded protagonists mixed up in it look a bit out of place...

The tone switches between Slasher Flick and Fiasco and sometimes full-on TOON, a chance to watch something rise and fall drastically in Weird Level from scene to scene. I have no idea how this will play out, if it will at all.

“You’re an awful person.”
“Maybe. But I’m rich and I’m pretty, so it doesn’t really matter.”

What to take away for a gaming POV?

Watch the magic pumpkin!

The DriveThru Hallowe’en scavenger hunt is on. What will you find, and what will be left of you?

Check the sale page for an easy example... and look in pages besides the sales...

Carnevale - Renaissance Venetian skirmish wargame

With miniatures for the Fearless Vampire Killers among other things. Suitable for 7th Sea, or if you happen to be running a Dishonored RPG. (Maybe skip the courtesans.)

Self-publishing advice

At VirtuaCon.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Jekyll And Hyde

“The adventure begins...”

Wait, the what begins?

A 1930s sequel to Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde? On ITV at... 6.30 p.m. on Sundays?

Okay, colour me... perplexed.

Yes, Jekyll And Hyde is a bit of a puzzler. Like Jekyll, it presume inherited Hyde-ness. In tone, its mostly the cleaned-up family-friendly League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with a bit of Cold City horror tech in the mix. And nice hats and jazz.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

One more week to Hallowe'en

So, Hallowe’en special plans? Not long to go...

I don’t this year, as the same Vampire game has slowed due to night-to-night play being a major factor... and every night being a horror show.

Well, damn.

The Player looks likely to end with episode nine. :/

Friday, 23 October 2015

Resident Evil: The Stage (Play)

An official Resident Evil play. Slightly stranger than the official zombie walkthroughs, I think. And I would have expected the zombies to be a bit flashier.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Back To The Future

It’s October 21st 2015, the date Marty and Jennifer land in Back To The Future Part II. There are, naturally, some geeky celebrations. (How many of the nineteen Jaws films have you seen? It feels like more than four...)

What would your setting look like thirty years in the future? Or a hundred years in the past?

And how much of the epic adventures is character-centric, as in a blockbuster trilogy where the lives of maybe a dozen people are really changed except in the Biff-verse section?

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Fear and Fear Itself

Must be some sort of horror event happening sometime soon. Ahem. Anyway, the BBC is sneaking little bits of horror out on Three and the iPlayer.

The Fear presents an audience with four-minute amateur horror shorts. Why was I not informed of this sooner? And why put said audience reactions in Gogglebox style? Especially since you then flash back during the discussions... Anyways, some of them could give you a monster idea.

Fear Itself meanwhile is a full-length documentary about horror cinema. Confused yet? It takes a somewhat more serious approach, to say the least.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak is gorgeous, well-acted by all around, has one bit of flinch-inducing realistic horror (two if you suffer from Torchwood flashbacks) in amongst some mildish jump scare, and is kind of thin plot-wise. I didn’t really look to it for plot, but ah well.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Scooby-Doo ending

As Hallowe’en approaches, io9 presents four paranormal mysteries with totally logical explanations, including the Amityville case being a hoax.

Ever done this in-game? It can be tricky when the players know the supernatural is real. I’ve done it very occasionally, and made sure that even if there turned out to be no supernatural explanation there was still something worth stopping. A ritual serial killer in The World Of Darkness is still dangerous even if the patterns he draws in blood don’t call forth demons.

See also the fact that modern versions of Scooby-Doo have frequently moved from debunking the supernatural to fighting it for real...

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Don't trust vampires.

Today sees the final issue of Day Men, with a reminder that you should never entirely trust vampires, even if they have to trust you with their lives...

And this may be confirmation bias on my part, but this new thread on the Onyx Path forum has me wondering if general opinion on the Camarilla is swinging back to their being bad guys. When does the Camarilla intervene in a city’s problems? When it has a good reason to...

The Park

The Park is a new standalone short horror game set at the margins of The Secret World. This is a very interesting move for the MMO, a shift in game style (third person MMO to first-person single with a specific character) and genre (urban fantasy to horror). The plot is described as “every parent’s worst nightmare” so may be hard to take, but I’d be interested in seeing more standalone adventures like it.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

That bit in Battlestar Galactica where they stop using their nav computers...

... is apparently happening for real.

All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by. To prevent cyber attack.

Doctor Strange is back...

... wielding an axe and wearing combat boots. It’s not quite the full plain-clothes urban fantasy version I pitched during Marvel’s brief foray into open pitching, but it’s certainly a step towards it that intrigues me.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Strain

It certainly was. Ha ha.

As Lovefilm has started sending discs two at a time I’ve also seen The Strain season one. I’ll be giving season two a miss.

It’s disappointing because the show was co-created by Guillermo Del Toro, and he directed the first episode, essentially a modernisation of the Demeter arriving in Dracula with more of the vampire biology he looked at in Blade II. (It also rather resembled the start of Fringe, but never mind.) But the pacing is grindingly slow, most of the characters don’t hold much appeal, it turns on at least one head-desking coincidence, and while some of the vampire looks are very effective, the Master is... hilarious.

Still, it starts out as a good example of how to update a classic story and nudge it into a different genre. The CDC fighting an intelligent plague is a pretty cool premise, as well.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Competence and incompetence

I just binged Justified season five in a week, after discovering that season six is about to air here... and season five never did. It’s a bit of a mixed bag - the prison sequence is grim stuff while the Crowes follow Dewey’s example and remain pretty much a joke - but still has plenty of the show’s frequent pleasures, like Raylan being casually expert at figuring out various criminal idiots’ latest criminal idiocies. The investigations usually boil down to figuring out which particular idiot is involved and coolly dispatching them.

It could be played as a game of highly capable PCs dealing with inept NPCs, or as a Fiasco style game where Raylan and his cohort coming after you is the inevitable price of bad ideas. Both could be fun, but which would sustain better? For the real feel of the show, maybe you’d have to play both...

Friday, 9 October 2015

Terrain for miniatures

I hardly ever use miniatures, but if I did I would be quite tempted by Urban Apocalypse terrain for modern games. The World Of Darkness would suit the run-down city it builds, as well as the intended post-apocalypse and urban combat games. And the firehouse would be great for Ghostbusters. (Edit: now with a Shanty Town option for Sicario adventures. Or something else. But now I want to do a Sicario adventure.)

But the current state of the art is for dungeons - Dragonlock snap-together 3D printed pieces. Just being reliably snap-together would be a big deal, but 3D printed!

The One Ring Is In The Bundle Of Holding

PDFs at a knockdown price for a great cause.

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Black Death

Post 1666. Ever used the plague, or the Great Fire, in-game?


Vampires must love e-cigarettes. All the convenience of victims going outside bars and clubs at all hours with none of that inconvenient fire.

Steve D on Leverage

What RPGs can learn from Leverage, which is quite a bit as Leverage has picked up a lot from RPGs.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


Justin Kurzel’s new film of Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, takes a low-key approach to the supernatural while playing the battles in highly cinematic style, as well as giving most of the soliloquies lingering shots letting the cast hold the scene.

It cuts a surprising amount of the text considering the near-two-hour running time, but there is quite a lot of beautiful dramatic slow-motion. We’ll see how much of that gets into the trio’s next project, Assassin’s Creed.

Doesn’t fix the final prophecy total lack of foreshadowing that led to Eowyn fighting the Witch-King (after the Ents played Birnam Wood) but hey.

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Golden Cobra LARP Writing Challenge

Via Matt M. McElroy: The Golden Cobra wants small, emotionally involving and diverse freeform LARPs. As well as the challenge running this month, it also has a number of games submitted in 2014 available to read and run.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Vampire: The Masquerade - Unwanted season two

Back at it.

A few weeks have passed in-game, and the cold war still seems cold. Until someone strolls into Elysium...

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Vin Diesel playing another of his D&D characters

In The Last Witch Hunter he goes back to a third-party 2E supplement The Arcanum.

But moving this character to the present just makes it feel like a game of Angel...

RPGs in libraries?

That would be nice, but apparently... not so much.

When I were a lad my school library had gamebooks - but the historical ones, not much Fighting Fantasy. We were expected to get those ourselves. Either that, or I already had and therefore do not remember taking them out... (They did have a couple collections of Lovecraft, picked up after discovering him through Call of Cthulhu.)

Friday, 2 October 2015

Carmilla season two

The final episode just ran, so you can now binge the whole 36-part run.

Start with season one, as discussed a little here. See also Die For You by Rose Bailey, a short story game all about who or what you’d risk your life for.

Also: Season Zero, coming soon.

Carmilla (the series) presents a Buffyish funny collegiate apocalypse in a vlog, with almost all of the action, monsters, cults and shapeshifting kept offscreen. The conversations were always more important than the fights in Buffy so it works, though this does result in a running gag of characters bursting in through the door to describe terrible events and leaving abruptly. (The Christmas special broke from the format and worked as normal moving cameras, presenting the monster directly, which provides an interesting contrast.) It also provides a great meta commentary on the urban fantasy and paranormal romance subgenres as someone hopes life turns out that way...