Saturday, 30 September 2017

Need some SF concept art?

ArtStation Challenge: Beyond Human now in their archive section.

Lazarus, Ringworld and Snow Crash on TV

Amazon have announced TV series adapting Greg Rucka’s Lazarus comic series, Larry Niven’s Ringworld books and Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash.

Joe Cornish (Attack The Block) has been working on Snow Crash for quite a while now, and it sounds like Rucka will have a hand in adapting Lazarus himself.

Lazarus has an RPG on the way using the AGE system. Ringworld had an RPG in the 80s that I’ve never seen, but it has a Ralph McQuarrie cover which therefore makes it awesome at least that far.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Captain Scarlet

Also starting fifty years ago, Captain Scarlet, the Gerry Anderson series with more realistic puppets, a creepy voice as the villain, an all-female fighter squadron, and the false tension of ongoing threats in a kid-friendly weekly show addressed by having an indestructible hero.

The Prisoner

The Prisoner was first broadcast fifty years ago today. A comment on privacy, the surveillance state, the espionage genre and the Swinging Sixties. The ideas it contains have also been explored in novels, comics, unpublished comics by Jack Kirby(!), a reboot series, now a new run of audio plays from Big Finish... and a fairly strange choice for a GURPS sourcebook.

Thursday, 28 September 2017


As part of a spooky games series in the runup to Halloween, io9 looks at Mysterium, a board game in which most of the players try to help a ghost, and one player plays the ghost... who can’t tell them what it needs, except through cards depicting largely surreal or abstract visions. So it’s kind of like Cluedo as you try to solve a mystery, except one player knows the secret and has to play Pictionary. In a haunted house. That’s a pretty interesting twist on the cooperative board game.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Buffy 2017 session 1

Spilled cola on my rulebook. Not too badly, but still, off to buy a new one. (Esdevium still has some, so Black Lion has one.)

New player brought a second new player, and the two previous Hero players both switched to White Hats. This got rid of a rules headache (Sorcery) so that was a plus...

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery is go, after various delays meaning it missed the 50th anniversary of the original series, and then missed the 51st by a couple weeks (let’s say it hit just before the 30th anniversary of The Next Generation to make it feel better) - and...

Since it’s creeping around the world on Netflix (except in the US and Canada) I’ll try not to spoil things.

It’s very much modern TV, much more than a traditional Star Trek revival would have been. It’s much more serialised than episodic, and decidedly character-centric. It might have planet-of-the-week episodes later on, but from the start it’s defined by Burnham’s actions and responses, and those of the captains and other crew. I can see why traditionalist fans wouldn’t go for it.

This would make it stick out in the generally mission-based Star Trek RPGs - Star Trek Adventures has clashing Values but doesn’t generally encourage this degree of character conflict.

The Black Fleet!

It looks great, naturally. Continuity is trumped by modernity, but it wasn’t going to go retro, not even as retro as the Kelvin timeline films. (It most closely matches the Kelvin itself, actually, especially with command in blue uniforms, which fits the wibbly-wobbly timeline. And yes, there’s lens flare.) It’s a prequel for plot reasons.

The Da Vinci illustration style titles are an interesting choice, and keep the recurring JJ Abrams image of the ship as tiny in the vastness of space. It also includes Burnham, emphasising the character focus.

It took me a while to figure out what the middle bit of the theme reminds me of - Hoist The Colors from Pirates Of The Caribbean. Which is oddly appropriate for a story about questionable character choices resulting in big special-effects ship battles, I suppose.

More Doug Jones ASAP, please!

Monday, 25 September 2017

V20: The Centre Cannot Hold

V20 but, as last time, borrowing chunks of Requiem second edition like the widened Humanity system and some Touchstones, as well as probably some setting details and a faction or two...

Two new players, three familiar. Hoping for a fourth of the latter next time.

Modern fictional US city. Which I’ll name this time, I guess...

Star Trek Adventures

I got a chance to play the new Star Trek Adventures today and... it seems alright, mostly.

Characters are fairly straightforward - six players with no familiarity got through character generation in under two hours. Customising the ships is a bit simpler, with fewer traits to add.

I like that the PCs are broadly competent. A starting PC will have a minimum 8 to roll equal or under on either or both of two d20 (with more difficult rolls requiring multiple successes) and I have 15 in at least one thing I concentrated on.

Between Attributes, Disciplines (skills), skill Focuses, various other abilities as Talents, the group Momentum pool offering extra dice, and the option to assist another PC being taken often which also gives extra dice, there might be a few too many bits and pieces going into a typical roll. (And possibly Values as well, which we didn’t really get into.) Still, too many things contributing to success with the occasional complication is better than feeling inept.

It didn’t feel like it needed miniatures, maps and so on, although admittedly we just played through a hand-to-hand fight (where we fell back and used phasers) then a quick medical investigation, and crossing some vegetation while checking if any of it was dangerous (that one testing the ongoing tasks rules).

This particular game’s set in the post-Dominion War TNG era (which the book design nods towards) rather than classic, Kelvin, some other time, or Discovery.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Destiny 2 art

Like the first in the series, Destiny 2 has some beautiful concept and design art. (Contains spoilers for one of the big early adventures.)

This Jaime Jones piece alone makes me want to run something.

As a comment by wombat23 below says: destiny is the fps set in the world i want to play an rpg in.

The new soundtrack also features, amongst others, the Kronos Quartet.
Happy birthday to my brother, who GMed once and then I had to go for it.

Friday, 22 September 2017


That game that fizzled just before its last session.

That moment you discover your TV archive has five seasons and the show you were rewatching had six.

It’s been that kind of week.

I generally try to bring some degree of closure to fizzling games, but when they fail mid-attempt that doesn’t make it easy.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Game on.

Buffy, three players (with more apparently coming to the society next week) as a demon-haunted immortal, a Watcher footsoldier and... some guy.

Game on...?

It is Wednesday.

I have character sheets.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Cavaliers Of Mars

Cavaliers Of Mars is live (and funded) on Kickstarter! Return now to dying Mars in its last age of glory!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A plan, of sorts

Okay, new plan.

Go along on Wednesday, maybe play or run something. Possibly Buffy since it can be casual.

Maybe play something Sunday afternoon.

GM something Sunday evening. Leaning towards Vampire (probably Masquerade) since it tends to be heavy. I ran Star Wars in the slot last year and it was alright, but eight or more weeks of action is a but much for me. And Vampire’s been on my mind of late between World Of Darkness Berlin, Storytellers Vault and previews for V5. Sure, it might be smarter to wait for V5 and see if I like the new edition, but have you met me?

The Hood Maker

Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams anthology series starts tonight with an adaptation of The Hood Maker, in which telepaths are now common enough that one just joined the city police, everyone knows what a scan feels like, and someone has worked out a way to block them. It’s a setup that could easily expand to a series itself.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

GEAS 2017 introduction

I think my intro RPG went okay... for the players who could hear it. The not hearing was due to a big fresher turnout, though, so that’s good.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton has died. As Roger Ebert put it, “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.”

Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears

Every Cloud Productions are Kickstarting the Miss Fisher movie.

2017-18 academic year game plans

Apparently GEAS got 96 signups at the freshers’ activity fair. So getting players this year may not be a problem.

So obviously it’s time to bring out my most unpopular ideas!

Okay, okay, maybe not.

Running D6 Star Wars for the introductory session, and maybe for Sunday evenings this term. Rebellion era, as the Resistance era is still quite sketchy (and likely to become much less so right around the end of term) and your basic daring missions and Stormtrooper-shooting and the like.

Still also considering...

Vampire: The Masquerade, possibly in the 1920s, depending on that other urban fantasy game set in the 1920s.

The Chronicles Of Darkness... based on a classic British comic story... that I’ve never actually read.

ICONS as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Buffy, maybe reusing Sounds Like Hell after its previous fizzle.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition

Changeling 20 is out in PDF and POD!

And for LARPers, a preview of the Mind’s Eye Theatre version of the setting.

Calla Cthulhu

Calla Cthulhu, from Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Erin Humiston, Mario A. González, Bill Mudron and Nate Piekos, is now available in the first physical collection of the series. This preview from the original online launch also features her sidekick Glug in all his eldritch glory.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017


Okay, plan for the new academic year in progress.

Introductory game day: d6 Star Wars.

First campaign slot: Um...

Monday, 11 September 2017


The Cormoran Strike novels continue J.K. Rowling’s preference for baroque names.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Len Wein

Len Wein has died. He was the co-creator of Wolverine, Swamp Thing and much of the second wave of X-Men such as Storm, and editor of Watchmen, and a much-loved member of the comics community.

Stephen King games

Yes, the new film of IT just came out.

There’s never been an official Stephen King setting RPG (or much King-based gaming at all, apart from a computer game of The Running Man film) though The Dark Tower cycle and perhaps The Stand are big enough settings to support them, and his fantasy novels and collaborations like The Talisman and Eyes Of The Dragon would be easy to adapt, even without keeping the connections to the wider King mythos. The TV series Haven and the American Vampire comics could work as well.

Likewise, Salem’s Lot would be a useful example of modernising and localising something like Dracula.

I’ve observed before that Carrie is one real friend away from a superhero origin, and Firestarter basically is one, complete with a recurring secret government program to run from - and there was once a plan for a sequel series with Charlie leading a team of paranormal heroes. The Dead Zone TV series runs with the heroic possibilities of Johnny Smith’s precognition too. You could easily put together a League of Extraordinary King Characters...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Casting characters

Visuals for NPCs can be helpful. How do you get them?

Seeing another Ridley Scott historical-ish epic, Exodus: Gods And Kings (incredibly, not the whitest Ancient Egypt film of the last three years) reminded me that I never got around to making a trailer for Dark Ages Vampire.

I first made a credit sequence for The Watch House, following other Buffy games that took the rulebooks suggestion to cast the Pcs and NPCs.

I got hung up on including the signature characters, and never got past Eva Green as Lucita. And for more modern signatures, Jamie Foxx as Theo Bell?

It’s easier with your own characters, of course. For my last V20 game I cast just about every NPC, because there would often be lots of them in the same scene and it really helped keeping track. I mostly went for little-known faces (most of them guest stars from Person Of Interest as it has a lot of interesting character actors in dark gloomy places) so the players would more associate the photo with the NPC. But I snuck some more familiar faces in as the most important roles. Art is easier for truly unique visuals, but in this case I wanted the down-to-earth feel that photography provided. The Nosferatu were the hard part, naturally. I grabbed the leader from Blade II, another from Face Off, several from The Walking Dead, one from Left 4 Dead cosplay...

Friday, 8 September 2017

(Mad) Maximillian - Road Warrior 1934!

A new minis game from Australia’s Mana Press and Eureka miniatures - about pulp car warfare! Something I always wanted to do with Adventure! and a bunch of 20s Lledo cars (and of course a model zeppelin) but never got around to...

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I hope to see Star Wars Episode IX

Star Wars Episode VIII was originally meant to be out this summer, but will now be out in ninety-nine days’ time. Episode IX was due a year and a half later, but may now move, since it needs a new director and probably a new script. (And the Han Solo movie switched director as well.)

Of course, I ran Episode XIX back in the day, but never got to XX or XXI, so I know it can be tricky to complete a trilogy...

Tuesday, 5 September 2017


Today is the 500th anniversary of the incorporation of Candlemakers of Edinburgh, granted their seal of cause on September 5th 1517.

In the real world, guilds were mostly down-to-earth groups like this, rather than the adventurers’ or thieves’ guilds of fantasy. They still had their share of conflict and drama, like any business or union.

Batman: The Animated Series

Today is the 25th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series. It’s a classic, and a great example of how to adapt a property. What are the classic elements you want to keep, what do you want to modernise, what can you change, what new characters do you introduce?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Rob Wieland on classic Star Wars adventures

Rob Wieland (Camelot Trigger, Shadowrun 2050, V20 Lore Of The Bloodlines, Girls’ Heist Out, the Leverage Sabotage series) has started a series of blog posts on WEG Star Wars adventures, looking at what they include and how they work at the table. He begins with Starfall, the go-to adventure for when PCs get captured by the Empire.

The Queensferry Crossing

Today the Queensferry Crossing opens, fifty-three years to the day after the Forth Road Bridge. The name comes from St. Margaret, a queen, who established a ferry for pilgrims almost a thousand years ago. Which is a great example of deep background in naming.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Burning Man 2017 photos

200-plus photos from Burning Man 2017, with a lot of attractive women in slightly eccentric beachwear, but also a good amount of the post-apocalypse styling, art installations and custom vehicles, and this year the duststorms for added Fury Road effect.

Run-down wizard’s tower
Hanging lanterns

Get enough people in animal masks together and any kind looks sinister.

Tatooine as the second sun sets
Death Road Rider deleted scene

"Consider The Consequences!"

Consider The Consequences! by Doris Webster and Mary Alden Hopkins is a gamebook about realistic choices and their results... from 1930.

Thanks to James Wallis for the link.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Carmilla Movie

October 26th!

And a new trailer!

Period costumes! Waverly from Wynonna Earp! Camera movement! Only one joke in the trailer!

What to GM, 2017 edition

Two weeks before GEAS and... well... um... I have a few game ideas, I guess?

Star Wars, of some ill-defined variety.

I’d like to run Buffy but not right now.

I was considering a 1920s Vampire: The Masquerade, but another GM is planning a 1920s urban fantasy game.

A regular modern version of one of the Vampire games is also an option. Or a Demon. Or something.

Icons maybe...

Friday, 1 September 2017

30 Mage: The Ascension story hooks

30 Mage: The Ascension story hooks from titles by The Birthday Massacre

I decided to try a list of story hooks for Mage: The Ascension as a tribute to Stewart Wieck.

I asked for suggestions online, and Bruce Baugh suggested some options including The Birthday Massacre (which Faye Sutherland seconded). Thanks to all who offered ideas!

To get a suitable number: the album title, the first and last track, and any singles. This gave me thirty titles, including some curve balls for White Wolf references.

I’ve never run a Mage chronicle, so this might be what one I run would look like. I think I came up with some interesting hooks, though maybe a few too many aimed at a single mage rather than a cabal of multiple characters, and quite a few about covering up some mystical event before someone else does. I tried not to lean too heavily on the Technocracy as enemies, so I have quite a few involving rivalries with other cabals.

Harry Potter And The Game of Roleplaying

Today, Albus Severus Potter starts at Hogwart’s School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.

We’ll never see an official Harry Potter RPG (the closest we’re likely to get is the Miniature Game from Knight Models, due, um, sometime) which is a shame because bookish kids willing to learn spell lists in Latin are the ideal target for an intro RPG. But Wizard School is easy enough to do DIY. The tricky part would be emulating the shift from little first year adventures full of jokes to world-shaking battles with high body counts. (J.K. Rowling doesn’t even manage this entirely smoothly, as anyone who stifled a laugh at the tragic end of Deathly Hallows Part One can attest.)

Force Friday II

Force Friday II is upon us at last, when a bunch of Star Wars toys are revealed and/or put on sale in advance of The Last Jedi. Reveals include...

FFG bringing out two-player Destiny with a Last Jedi theme. And a Rogue One themed expansion for Rebellion. I guess with the slightly bigger miniatures game Legion on the way, not much chance of Imperial Assault 28mm figures for any of the new films.

And now for some (slight) spoilers...

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 live-action advert, from the director of Kong: Skull Island, serves as excellent reminder that Destiny is not as serious as it was going to be during most of its production cycle. Which remains kind of a bummer from this outside perspective.