Monday, 29 February 2016

February 29th

February has twenty-nine days. Leonardo DiCaprio won Best Actor. NOTHING IS REAL.

Last time a February 29th happened, I reported two series that BBC America planned to make and planned to create a geokinetic gorilla superhero. Still waiting on all of those. The unmade Stephen Volk show sounds a whole lot like Humans, though.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Rivals, not (quite) enemies

I’ve mentioned this before, specific to NPC adventuring parties, but any group of PCs could have rivals, who can be full-on enemies in a setting where settling feuds with a fight to the death isn’t generally an option.

Band Vs Band reminded me of this (thanks to Rose for the link) centring on a group of upbeat indie pop kids and another group of downbeat indie rock kids. Misfits, you might call the latter group...

Harry Potter and his crew may confront Voldemort and the Death Eaters on a few dramatic occasions, but they tangle with Draco Malfoy and gang frequently, often over petty things, so when they get pulled into the real drama it stands out and often changes their ongoing relations.

Propulsion 2016

Propulsion 2016 should be about done by now. I’m home already. Fuller report to come from a longer-term survivor participant.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

A cross-section of gaming

Currently at Propulsion, and the games at this time are D&D 1, D&D 5 and The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach...

Friday, 26 February 2016

The game in your back pocket

Heading to Propulsion tomorrow morning with a bunch of systems and settings and no adventures ready. This is not ideal, obviously, but we’ll see how it goes.

Slightly cut down list from last week:

Buffy because of course.

Star Wars, though plot ideas are hazy. Something with spaceships, guys in white armour and explosions.

A horror game, possibly Dead Of Night. Or Doctor Who with a horror vibe.

Also a couple small card games.

Thursday, 25 February 2016


Apparently I’ve been pronouncing Shannara wrong for thirty years. (SHA-nuhra, not Sha-NAA-ruh.) Not that I say it much, having read the first three books and wandered off. The TV series appears to mostly be the second book.

Apparently I’ve also been picturing it wrong, as I never actually noticed it was a post-apocalypse Earth.

The Elf royal family are a bit too regular-YA-TV. I could handle that with the humans but the titles and pointy ears just seem to need posh...

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Whining

And now in slightly rubbish X Files, a strange sound terrifies worries bothers the people of an Oregon town.

The next D&D movie aims to be... fun

Producers of the next Dungeons & Dragons movie citing a fantasy Guardians Of The Galaxy and Raiders Of The Lost Ark as the tone to aim for.

News thanks to John Rogers on Twitter:
nothing wrong with fun. I should write a comic like that sometime...”

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Choose Life

The twentieth anniversary of the film of Trainspotting. Which I always liked for the fact that the chase out of John Menzies at the start goes the right way. Granted, that security guard (screenwriter John Hodge) chases Renton (Ewan McGregor) about half a mile, but half a mile in the same direction.

That John Menzies on Princes Street, long gone, is where I bought my first miniatures, back in the mad days of the Fighting Fantasy boom a decade earlier.

Trainspotting works as an example of making something dangerous seem like an adventure without glossing over the danger.

A TV writers' room is like an RPG group

This observation comes from Robert Hewitt Wolfe, developer of Andromeda, on a Twitter roll collected here.

I found it today as it was quoted by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, creator of The Middleman, talking about rebooting Xena along with Genevieve Valentine, writer of the comics carrying on the original continuity. The interview also discusses reboots’ fealty to original stories and what you can and can’t change: “Of course she’s gonna have a Chakram, what am I, a monster?”

Monday, 22 February 2016

Propulsion 2016, and my current emergency GM plans

Propulsion, the charity gaming marathon I have in the past helped run, is back on after much room-seeking and eventually settling for a mere seventeen-hour run rather than the classic twenty-four.

And I should probably GM something, I guess.

Dunno what.

Likely candidates:

Star Wars. Apparently something happened with this setting recently, did you hear? The pitfall here is that people might expect or want the new system, which is not where I’d go. And I already forwarded my d6 System cut-down version to Matt for the game he’s planning to run at Propulsion. Which also has Star in the title, being Star Trek...

Buffy. I can do this in my sleep, and indeed have. Although after Conpulsion 2015 when I got zero uptake for a Buffy game...

Leverage. Speaking of zero uptake, the game nobody wanted to play on Sunday afternoons. Am I just being spiteful at this point?

Doctor Who. Easy enough to sell, but all of space and time makes deciding on a specific adventure a bit tricky. If I were running a mini-campaign over seventeen hours, sure. Although that would give Matt (Kai in The Door In Time) a sad.

Icons. Probably with the Avengers or equivalent. Again, the trick there is providing a suitable adventure.

Vampire: The Masquerade. Running it now, so... but it’s not a good game for one-shots.

Something with a high body count without charity rerolls. Ideally on an Aliens level. Sort of gaming the system, though...

Sunday, 21 February 2016

But will I ever run any of them?

Thanks to a charity auction, I am now the proud owner of Pendragon first edition, Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade and FASA Star Trek deluxe, and the ambivalent owner of Hawkmoon.

And the answer to the above is probably... no.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco, philosopher, author, critic and analyst of myths and conspiracy theories, has died at 84. He is probably best known for The Name Of The Rose, which is among other things a mediaeval murder mystery and an inspiration to the likes of Ars Magica.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Chronicles Of Darkness

The core rulebook is now downloadable and printable. I jut hit 20,000 in my Gmail by ordering it. Expect pictures of shiny new book when it arrives.

Keep walking. Eyes straight ahead. Don’t look back.

The ZX Spectrum as a handheld console

I started computering (that is the word, right?) with the ZX Spectrum+ (individual plastic keys instead of a rubber mat!) and, yes, mostly used it to play games rather than becoming an avant-garde programmer, damn it. So a chance to play old Spectrum games on a wee gadget is sort of tempting...

Thanks to Adam Tinworth for the news.

"Find your happy place on the dark side"

The Occult Activity Book, for all your Satanic Panic needs.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Pugmire T-shirt seen in the wild!

Okay, in my game...

As sported by Jamie (TWH’s Andy) and photographed by Rick. Outfit is model’s own.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Destiny Mega Bloks

Destiny Mega Bloks - not quite miniatures, but I believe fairly close in size terms, more humanoid than Lego, and taking advantage of the customisation that not-Lego presents to provide swappable variant outfits. The ships and mecha could also work for other SF games. Opinions, Destineers?

Monopoly Rey

Star Wars Monopoly Rey looks pretty good. She has the lightsaber, so they can keep the spoilers excuse. Not sure she and the previously included Finn and Kylo Ren are quite enough to make me buy a board game I hate, but I thought I should at least inform the blog having previously done so for the complaints.

February 14th

Happy Internet Friends Day, internet friends! One of several but never mind.

Happy birthday Simon Pegg!

Happy Statehood Day Oregon and Arizona!

It’s also Valentine’s Day. Love-related plots (with or without magic causing them) optional.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The World's Greatest Thief

Research for Les Fantômes has led me to note that the classic Adventure! era of the mid 1920s is just too early for The Saint to be around... and the fictional World’s Greatest Thief who best lines up for the time would therefore be Flambeau, from the Father Brown mysteries. Do I want to make Father Brown Adventure! canon? YES I DO.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Family Game Night

A family as the basis for an adventuring party could be very interesting, if the players are up for it. A party of PCs is often essentially a group of strangers when they begin, whether the players are or not.

As noted with the news of a Lego Star Wars series...

Would you find it too restrictive? Everyone has to be related or at least connected to the family.

With command structures often getting loose in RPG parties, would you be willing to play another PC’s child? I suspect a family of PCs would have a loose authority as well. I can imagine The Addams Family as a party, or example, not just because they go on adventures and a variety of supernatural powers would be available but because the kids can run amok and the parents find it amusing up to and including attempted fratricide.

For the record I’ve done this exactly once, as a player in a one-shot Vampire: The Masquerade game at the Nationals where the pregen characters were (a) a Sabbat pack and (b) The Simpsons. Due to that structure it wasn’t a big factor, but it certainly informed our roleplaying.

An extended family makes this easier - “you’re all grandchildren of the King” is easier than “you’re all his children” - cousins aren’t generally as involved in your lives as siblings. The Amber RPG plays with a very extended family, spread enough to be more like a nation.

Borrowing a campaign hook from Matthew Knighton of Distant Stars fame, a weird family like the Addamses also allows more variety. And aren’t all families a bit weird?

An estranged family might help too, so everyone has less of a shared background.

A new family of (Lego) Star Wars heroes

Literally a family, the Freemakers, stars of... a Lego Star Wars TV series. Interesting development. Unlike Rebels I presume this will not be canon...

Someone finding a connection to the Force and having to pick a side in the Galactic Civil War is certainly a workable concept.

A family as the basis for an adventuring party could be very interesting, if the players are up for it. With command structures often getting loose in RPG parties, would you be willing to play another PC’s child?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Les Fantômes

Les Fantômes, one of the Allegiances I created for the new Trinity Continuum book, is being previewed on the Onyx Path front page. Seems kind of strange to be plugging something I did there!

Gravitational Waves

Ripples in the fabric of spacetime.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Every rebellion begins with a single soldier.

Star Wars: Republic Commando nearly had one of two very different sequels - following Order 66 or rebelling against it. Obviously the second lets you carry on being a hero, while the first immediately suggests some fun gameplay if you don’t mind being the out-and-out bad guys.

(The bloody handprint on white trooper armour is quite the look...)

Building up a fighting force from the very beginning could be an interesting hook for a series. In a non-shooter game like an RPG, this could involve making alliances, acquiring supplies and disrupting enemy plans as well as direct combative action.

On the flipside I’ve thought about mundane soldiers hunting wizards before - specifically wondering how the S.A.S. would react to that time Death Eaters destroyed the Millennium Bridge in London on the way to Diagon Alley.

7th Sea Second Edition. Not 2nd Edition.

A new edition of the 7th Sea RPG is on Kickstarter, hit its $30,000 funding in seven minutes, and is currently at nine times that.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Bryan Fuller's Star Trek

Bryan Fuller will be showrunning the as yet untitled new Star Trek series to launch next year. He has written for and worked in the setting before on Deep Space Nine and particularly Voyager, and has since gone on to create Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies and adapt Hannibal and the forthcoming American Gods. He can produce interesting and sometimes offbeat work within setting constraints and unique and wild stuff given free rein, so I suspect this show could be pretty interesting even for non-fans. We shall see what the future holds...

Mental control of computers

A trial system for mental control of computers by looking allows a violinist to play music for the first time since a car crash sixteen years earlier.

The X Files episode I always wanted to write...

Actually there were several, summarised in this thread jamming on ideas, but I had a few... a relatively isolated mythology story about how other countries deal with UFO crashes, a mutant MOTW that would try to eat Mulder instead of Scully... and a riff on this particular trope...

A lawyer’s office. Mr Lee, the solicitor, shuffles his papers.

“As you may know, Mr Graves died leaving no children, so his estate is to be divided between his nieces and nephews here present.”

Seven pairs of eyes dart around the room, most of them filled with greed and disdain.

“However, the proviso of the will is that those seeking to inherit must spend the longest night of the year in Mr Graves’s childhood home, Graves End.”
The haunted house?” asks Melanie Graves, one of the inheritors. Michael Torrance, an older cousin, snorts with derision.
“Those who are still within the house, and of sound mind and body, at sunrise, will divide the inheritance equally among themselves. Those were Mr Graves’s conditions. To ensure fair play, I have requested that two representatives of a suitable policing service be retained to stay in the house with you.”

All eyes turn on the man and woman standing by the door.

“Due to their expertise in this particular field, the FBI has sent Special Agents Mulder and Scully.”

Mulder grins sheepishly and Scully smirks at his discomfort.


A large Gothic manor perched on a hill surrounded by dense leafless woodland. As the line of cars draws up to the flat field at the bottom of the narrow drive, unseasonal lightning forks down and thunder crashes overhead.

“Nice touch...”
“Well Mulder, that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into...”

Monday, 8 February 2016

Chariot - doomed weird Atlantis

Crowdfunding now, Chariot from Wood Ingham. Short version from here:
The mechanics are based upon a hand of Tarot cards, and are scene-based. You get a hand of cards; you add attribute + points pool + card; if you get one of the Major Arcana or a Court Card, you get bonues and non-standard things happening. No dice, just cards. 
As for the setting, it's Atlantis, albeit Atlantis based upon classical occult literature as filtered through the imagination of the writer - me - when I first encountered it as a teenager. So it's full of Lemurians and Rmoahals and blue-skinned cyborg amazons riding technologically enhanced sea dinosaurs. It has a year or two before it sinks, and the PCs are those who are destined to shape the destiny of those who survive.

Conspiracies and credibility

The X Files is back, and the conspiracy to keep all its secrets is still terrible at keeping secrets.

Alone Against The Dark

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. does something different, even to the title card, as we see what happened to Simmons in those ominous blue shots in 4,722 Hours. As well as being steeped in references (NASA timing and names, and I think that Astronaut may be Impossible) it really runs with a solo premise and guest appearance.

Since I started with solo gamebooks, the one-on-one session never seemed like a particularly odd idea to me. I will note previously stated warnings about a single player tearing through plot at great speed due to lack of debates and distractions and multiple player turns in combat and the like. The time will pass... maybe not like 4,722 hours in one, but pretty fast.

Year Of The Monkey

It’s New Year in the Chinese Zodiac, and year of the Monkey. The monkey is a major feature in Chinese mythology, not least the anti-hero of Journey To The West, which to a certain generation in the UK was the basis for MONKEY and a long-term influence on us. I’ll talk more about this over on the Whoblog, where I at times ramble about this kind of thing.

Divided We Fall

Ever had inter-party conflict actually be awesome? PC versus PC, obviously, not player versus player - that only works if the game is meant to be antagonistic, like Fiasco, Paranoia, social LARPs and some tournament adventures.

Both times I’ve seen PC versus PC really work have perhaps inevitably been in The Watch House, with PCs temporarily going evil and having to be stopped. One was played straight, a creepy and tricky Angelus-style possession of Jake the psychic by an ancestor and his player showing why e often runs horror games, and the other for laughs with Andy the werewolf split into his beast and human halves and his player portraying both sides as rather hapless. In both cases everything played out in the open and the players all knew to make it as bad as possible for each other.

I’ve never seen a straight-up ideological conflict play out successfully. I’d be interested to give it a shot, but it would need the right motivation... as well as a chance for the PCs to fight each other and it be awesome.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

And this for the championship...

If Superbowl 50 were actually a fight between a bronco and a panther, I’d know who to bet on.

As this quiz shows, really big sporting events are now logistical nightmares and the biggest are laws unto themselves.

The BBC made a comedy about the 2012 Olympics that was often less absurd than reality, and that’s before you get to the security issues which are at times utterly terrifying. Throw in a side order of corruption in stadium building and sponsorships and you’ve got plenty of trouble even if the PCs never step onto the field. One of the first games I ever ran was about murder at the ancient Olympics...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Beowulf: Return To The Topic

Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands has proved to be less monster-of-the-week than I expected, with episodes that build on each other and the second MOTW being a monster-of-two-weeks instead.

It also doesn’t have Beowulf in it very much all things considered.

He’s the leader of the adventuring party that goes off and has adventures while the other half of the show is the Game Of Thrones bit about Rheda and her family and advisors being shifty and political at Heorot. Seems like a good fit for troupe-style play as the players make two different characters in two groups whose actions only affect each other a bit.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Really strange traditions

It’s Groundhog Day... again.

Resisting the temptation to just repost that link, I will observe that Groundhog Day the movie - magic time loop - is less weird than Groundhog Day the tradition - using whether an animal sees its shadow to predict the length of winter. (As Steve D notes, fiction has to make sense.) Which would you be more likely to put into one of your sessions?

Of course I could see it getting into a game with a high enough Weird Level that it actually works, and various interested parties fight over whether this happens or not.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Strike Force

An updated edition of one of the greatest supplements ever, Strike Force by Aaron Allston, is on its way, Kicking now.

I backed it for the PDFs of the new and original versions, $20 with a $10 add-on. The physical book is $30... and $52 shipping anywhere except the US. Some of the team are posting on RPGnet so I mentioned this concern there.

The response: "As much as we would like to charge less, if we hit our stretch goals and this book becomes hard-cover and full-color, that price represents what it's going to cost via First Class International (the least expensive international service) along with handling and packaging to all nations besides Canada and Mexico. We very much feel your pain: but don't have a realistic and better option."