Monday, 27 February 2017

Mysteries And Secrets

A thread about the Inconnu in Vampire: The Masquerade made the point that they were designed to be a mystery - the name is French for “unknown”!

See also VII in Vampire: The Requiem, whose sourcebook has three mutually exclusive versions of the group and suggestions for making more. VII is a mystery with answers available, not a definitive secret answer.

When should a game line reveal a secret?

Friday, 24 February 2017

Thursday, 23 February 2017

We found a new solar system to be new Earths

Trappist-1 is an important scientific discovery. (A big enough deal that it got a Google Doodle in less than 24 hours!)

And also a ready-made setting for new space opera.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Fantasy Heartbreaker is back

Rose Bailey on representation and marginalised characters becoming about their marginalisation.

2000 A.D. at 40 in 2017

Today sees the 40th anniversary special for 2000 A.D., The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. So many stories, worlds, occasional childhood trauma (thanks, Dark Judges!) and other fires for the imagination. Here’s to many more - we made it past 2000 A.D. already, so lets keep on going.

I do not currently have money for a concept artist...

If I did, I would consider Leesha Hannigan while she is between jobs.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

10 Vampire: The Requiem ideas from Nirvana single titles

As we just saw Kurt Cobain’s fiftieth birthday yesterday, a few ideas from the singles Nirvana brought out.

(In the month since writing this, In Bloom and Heart-Shaped Box have been used as plot hooks for a Requiem LARP.)

Love Buzz
A new drug on the market has an interesting side effect. Vampires that drink from users “catch” their emotional state for as long as they have that blood in their system. The vamp who discovered this while biting someone who enjoyed it barely came down in time to miss a sunrise. The one who discovered this while terrifying her victim was last seen fleeing the scene at superhuman speed. So where is this thing coming from? Did somebody create this on purpose?

You just slept through a whole night. And now you have a crystal clear memory of the first time you saw your sire before the Embrace. And there was another vampire there... one you thought your sire hated.

Smells Like Teen Spirit
A vampire Embraced in her teens decided to try the Twilight thing and use a high school as her herd. And she misjudged how much blood a teen can safely lose and drained her boyfriend dry, then turned him in a fit of remorse. So now there are two vampires in the school. How long until one of them makes another mistake?

Come As You Are
Why is the Prince hosting a gathering at that new nightclub? Does he want it to succeed? Or does he want it to get wrecked by too many vampires in a crowded room with a lot of drugs and alcohol readily available?

Dr. Land, an Ordo Dracul chemist, has come up with a treatment for the Hunger. You still need to hunt, but you will never frenzy from lack of blood. Assuming you don’t mind the treatment being extracted from the brain blood of people on antidepressants.

In Bloom
The city cemetery’s gardens have never looked more beautiful. Which is worrying to a group of elders who murdered a Circle witch who claimed to be able to speak with plants and dumped her body in an open grave there sixty years ago.

Heart-Shaped Box
The heart of an ancient vampire, cut out centuries ago, has been stolen from the collection of an old Mekhet hoarder who sought to use it to filter blood and gain the elder’s memories. Who took it, who has it, and who would kill to acquire it?

(Alternatively, Valentine’s Day, and one of your herd asks you to marry him...)

All Apologies
An elder claims that you have wronged her. Nobody at court can verify that you haven’t, and she’s old enough that it doesn’t matter what you can prove. She demands compensation or punishment. How can you get out of serving her for years to come?

Pennyroyal Tea
Dr. Land asks for a favour dealing with a rival, a former member of the Circle who is now working as a New Age herbalist... with a sideline as a poisoner.

About A Girl
Jack has been a vampire for a few years now, and he had to leave Caitlyn when he died. So how does he cope when he sees her again, with a daughter who has his eyes?

Scaling your campaign

Elementary season one has popped up on Freeview. Comparisons to Sherlock are inevitable as it’s a modern version of Sherlock Holmes that started very soon after - and stars Johnny Lee Miller, who had recently traded parts from one night to the next with Benedict Cumberbatch in Danny Boyle’s National Theatre production of Frankenstein - but that’s not what I want to talk about.

The smaller cases and much longer run time lets it be more casual - it doesn’t have to have a season opener and finale within two weeks of each other. Sherlock is a series of one-shots and long “event” sessions, Elementary is a weekly campaign. Miss one session and you can catch up pretty easily.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain would have been fifty today. He was never comfortable with being the voice of a generation, but there we are.

Ash Vs. Evil Dead

Ash Vs. Evil Dead is quite an odd TV show. A sequel to The Evil Dead and mostly Evil Dead II, with Army Of Darkness not really referenced (due to its two wildly conflicting endings) it could prooooobably be watched by people unfamiliar with the originals, but what would they make of a spectacularly gory horror-comedy adventure in sitcom-length episodes? Especially if they came in after the pretty-damn-serious remake a couple years earlier...

For those in the know, it’s still quite odd. The worldbuilding is pretty casual, as it always has been. Some episodes and some subplots lean more or less on the comedy and the evisceration - one of the stars gets such a serious plot for the first half-season that she asked her agent if the audition sheet’s “comedy” description was a typo!

Still, as an Evil Dead II fan specifically, I had a lot of fun with it. When it’s on, it’s really on, and there’s a fair amount of grue and fun to be had, with Bruce Campbell charming as ever as the over-the-hill not-great-anyway monster hunter.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

New vague game plan

Vampire: The Masquerade due to familiarity, probably Camarilla clans, with me using a chunk of Requiem ideas like the second edition expanded Humanity system and some character and plot points.

Episodic and occasional, so aiming for a relatively small number of subplots and NPCs to track.

Probably using my last games as source material.

Planning to give the coterie a good reason to work together and not run off to play three personal games.

Already said “don’t betray the party, there are only three of you.”

And plots. Hm. That’s the real trick...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures

A new Star Wars animated series set near the classic trilogy, a new band of heroes, a new Force-related mystery... but unlike Rebels, I’m pretty sure Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures ain’t canon.

Aimed more at kids and played more for laughs, particularly the Emperor, while the main villain of the piece is played pretty straight. Most of the laughs for me were the back references - there’s some nice repurposing of prequel trilogy stuff and a lot of plays on familiar lines.

“I have a bad feeling about this - ”
No you don’t!

There’s some more serious One To Grow On stuff in there too - the need to protect those you love when you put yourself in danger - but not much.

It uses its Lego stylings somewhat inconsistently. The Freemaker family are experts in building and customising technology so some of the DIY ship part of Lego play is always there, but The Lego Movie “master builder” level Lego customisation only happens with the Force. And sometimes when ships and vehicles explode bits of Lego come off, but sometimes they just explode in flames.

Gameable? As a rules-light and no-real-danger game, maybe with Lego on the table and options to rebuild vehicles, and a system for building with the Force.

The central group of a family of three siblings and their Battle Droid trying to make their way in a galaxy at war could definitely work. So could one of the early plot twists...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Loren Wiseman

Loren Wiseman, co-founder of Games Designers’ Workshop and one of the creators of Traveller, has died.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A poem

Roses are available in a variety of colours.
Violets are violet.
I’ll start again.

Collegeling: The Lost

Coexisting With The Fair Folk Who Have Taken Up Residence In/Around/Beneath Your University: A How-To Guide

There has to be a Changeling: The Lost or Chronicles Of Darkness story in this.

Thanks to Morgan A. McLaughlin McFarland for the link.

Thieves steal £2,000,000 worth of rare books

Thieves steal £2m of rare books by abseiling into warehouse

“Gang avoid motion-sensor alarms in west London to make off with 160 items, some dating to 15th and 16th centuries.”

For Valentine’s Day, the gift of a perfect plot hook.

Happy Simon Pegg Day!

It’s also the tenth anniversary of Hot Fuzz.

Unkar Plutt still has both arms canonically.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Humble Freedom Bundle

$600 worth of video games, audiobooks, comics and other stuff for $30, all going to the ACLU, the International Rescue Committee, and Medecins Sans Frontieres, with Humble matching up to $300,000.

A wild gaming group appears!

Just inadvertently stumbled across a wild RPG group downstairs from GEAS in one of the rooms we regularly sneak into.

(For the record, they were playing Star Wars: Force And Destiny. And the GM had a Darth Vader novelty mug.)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Peaceful Protest

Ever had a peaceful protest in your games? And had it stay peaceful, despite the presence of player characters?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Official Handbook Of The Bowieverse

The Official Handbook Of The Bowieverse is a play on the Marvel Universe handbooks for the work of David Bowie, complete with obscure one-line references like the Hand Reaching Down For Me from O You Pretty Things as well as more developed characters like Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Behind the scenes of Deep Space Nine

A new documentary from Adam Nimoy looks at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, including the writers discussing what might have happened in an eighth season. It raised $150,000 fan funding in a day.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

One-shot recommendations

An It’s My Birthday thread asking for published one-shots. These are always worth checking out.

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Big Game Of Your Game

The Superbowl has come again, bringing exclusive film trailers and expensive adverts, Hamilton pre-game and Lady Gaga halftime shows, huge ratings for the shows running after it and more. We have nothing even close in the UK, it’s like the FA Cup Final and the Christmas episodes of Doctor Who and Coronation Street happening on the same Sunday evening in late winter.

Does your setting have a single cultural event that big?

A royal tournament in the high Middle Ages, Roman gladiatorial games sponsored and attended by the Emperor himself, that kind of thing...

The rulers of the Forgotten Realms send their champions to a great tourney. How did you get on the billet?

Vampires host a Conclave in their city, with elders and foreign Princes in attendance. How do you prepare for that, what kinds of events do the Camarilla authorities put on, and what do the anarchs and other outsiders do in protest?

The Federation welcomes a new sentient species, and Starfleet has sent your ship to transport one of the diplomatic envoys and her entourage. Can you make sure they get there safely with a Romulan assassin tracking them?

Empire Day - what are the Rebels going to do about it?

Saturday, 4 February 2017


And more teen live-action Marvels, on the even stranger platform of Hulu. In this case, every member of the group has a different power origin...

Friday, 3 February 2017

You got your ghost story in my vampire story!

I went into American Horror Story: Hotel expecting the vampires to be more important. They were edged out by the ghosts, who may or may not be the same kind of ghosts seen in season one, aka Murder House. The Murder House makes a guest appearance, in fact. Best not to think about all the cross-season casting issues that flags up.

And then they bring in a character from Coven for two scenes. And a character from Murder House played by one of the stars of this season.

And don’t get me started on the real life serial killers...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Image Comics

Image Comics launched twenty-five years ago, creating a new sort-of-connected superhero universe of creator-owned characters. Some of the characters looked somewhat familiar from the creators’ work at other comics companies, and it being the early 90s several were into covert ops that didn’t quite mesh with charging around in costumes shooting lasers.

Some series ran smoothly, some paused and stuttered and some never appeared. Several creators went back to Marvel and DC, others came in, the company began to publish standalone and non-superhero comics, and these days the company’s biggest series is The Walking Dead, not part of their superhero setup.

Along the way we got some shakeups in how comics creator ownership works, a pretty revolutionary toy company, some animated series, a Spawn movie, and lots of comics, highlights including Alan Moore getting free rein to rewrite Silver Age Superman in Supreme and Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch making The Authority the biggest superhero action movie on the page.

The Authority also got its own RPG, though the rest of the Image universe wasn’t invited along for the ride, with only the WildStorm subsection it was part of getting coverage. (That section was later folded into the DC Universe with the New 52, and Warren Ellis is back on a new version of it...)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cloak And Dagger and recurring origins

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has found its fifth live-action outlet after movies, short films, ABC and Netflix, with Cloak And Dagger coming to Freeform, formerly ABC Family.

It sounds like they may not keep the secret illegal drug trial that kickstarted their powers in the comics. For one thing, it puts them a bit too close to the experiments that created both Captain America and Luke Cage, the chemical accidents that empowered Spider-Man, Daredevil and Jessica Jones and the power cocktail given to pre-cyborg Deathlok in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Then again, we already have some similar origin stories across the setting, sometimes interconnected in the adaptations and sometimes just because similar origins crop up in the source material over the decades - ABC, the films and Netflix will all have different heroes who learned to use different ancient powers in different hidden temples somewhere in Asia once Iron Fist starts.

It would be much simpler if they could make them mutants. Making them Inhumans doesn’t really make things simpler, as everyone who followed the ancient alien genetic manipulation and temples in that S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline can attest.

If you’re building a universe from the ground up, a consistent origin can help ground it, but do you leave room for wizards in a sci-fi-based superhero setting?