Categories
Actual Play

Primetime Adventures: Finally!

Dave’s still putting up the AP from the Pilot Episode, but I wanted to get a link up to PrimetimeAdventures / Strange Allies. We finally got to play this game! Woo!
It was a little wonky, getting started, but we hit our groove near the end of the session and I do believe I’m still buzzing from this thing, a day later. Good good stuff. Some could-shouldas to consider, but good, good stuff.

Categories
Actual Play Conventions Musing

Forge Con, the “quick” version

I left my journal/notebook at home today (along with a bunch of otther stuff I should have remembered), which included all my detailed notes on the happenings at ForgeCon Midwest, which I attended this weekend. Without the notes, I’ll just hit a few highlights:

  1. Contrary to my grandiose plans, I didn’t end up playing one ‘new’ game (defined here as ‘something I haven’t played before’, not necessarily ‘hot off the presses’). This was due partly to circumstances (I’d hoped to play Primetime Adventures or Agon, but no one was running it) and partly due to my own choices (since I had several options at times and chose games I was already familiar with over other stuff, for a number of reasons). With all that said, it was still really cool for folks like Ron Edwards to seeks me out and specifically ask me to jump into a session of It Was a Mutual Decision (the story of a romantic break-up, with wererats), even if I didn’t play it. This is also a good thing, since I won’t be coming back from the Con with my hair all blown back and white, proclaiming the next great game we GOTTA play — it reinforced my appreciation of games I already know I really like.
  2. So what did I play?
    • The Mountain Witch (GMd it) — this was during the first gaming slot, which got slarted late in general, and ended up being more of a two-hour demo of the rules than a full-on-and-proper session. That said, we had three ronin with some great abilities and neat backstory, a nice negotiation with my favorite tMW NPC, Uncle Tengu; a fight with some zombie soldiers in my favorite tMW ‘set’, the Black Meadow; an encounter with the Witch’s Mistress, and ended with a duel between a ronin with a sword, and a ronin with a rock. The one with the rock won. it wasn’t even close.
    • Heroquest (played) — this was a lot of fun for me, since I was playing with Mike Holmes, who essentially taught me how to run this game via his long-running ‘live’ IRC-chat-based game that is now into it’s third season, third in-game decade, and fourth year of play. We did a six-person horror-themed one shot in a traditional Glorantha village, and verily it was cool. I enjoy failing in that system as much as I do winning in other games, and spent a lot of time working out ‘bonus’ abilities like “bum hip” for my grouchy old sherrif. Tons o’ fun.
    • The Shadow of Yesterday: Brokedown Castle (GMd, with some actual prep) — this game took place in the evening and actually had a nice turnout, though pretty much no one who played were the people who’d voiced interest in playing prior to the con. Heroquest-Mike turned around and became the player for this session and proceeded to hand me a great NPC in the form of his Goblin translator named Glarb. Has Margie can attest, I have a lot of fun mangling the translation of things from player to the next, and Glarb became a plot-turning pivot on which several scenes hinged. Result: Lots of fun, lots of laughs, a good Bringing Down the Pain contest between the (PC) albino ratkin sorcerer and the (NPC) arcanely schooled nobleman. To contrast that, I should have prepped a stronger situation going in — I went in with some very sketchy NPCs with some leading bits of information about each of them, and asked the players to plug into that relationship map — that worked, and the stuff they came up with did (as I’d planned for) create a whole-cloth conspiracy out of the scraps I’d brought to the table, but just a leeeeetle more momentum from the NPCs would have helped things move a skosh more briskly.
    • Galactic
    • (Played — playtest) — Matt Wilson was down for the con and, once rested, wanted to try out his new version of Galactic. I GMd a playtest group for the game already, and REALLY wanted to see what he’d been doing with the game, so I jumped at the chance. This lead to some really great design talk with Paul Czege (creator of My Life with Master), Eric Finley, and Matt, and I think we really sanded down the last few ragged edges on that thing. Result: this is a tight, tight game. As good as the clunky draft of the game was, this is SO MUCH BETTER. Tighter. Cleaner. More focused. Gone or replaced are many of fiddley bits, leaving one system with a really unified, elegant feel. It’s not genius yet, but it’s totally fun and playable right now, and it’s going to get better — it cant not at this point, I think. Matt still hasn’t had a chance to playtest the system all the way through a whole ‘arc’ and into the end game. I pointed out that my play group is all ABOUT longer-form play and getting to the end game, and told him to get me the damn rules already. There was a lot of nodding.

  3. I should have brought Nine Worlds. My roomate Iskander/Alexander is very much in love with this system, which I’ve owned for awhile and haven’t read, and talked about a couple sessions they’ve played that seems to bring out a great kind of Nobilis-Lost-500 feeling that’s a lot of fun. Must go back and read that thing.

And that was about it. Lots and lots of visiting, and talking about gaming and games and stuff we liked and what we didn’t, about the direction the indie scene is going, and the fact that people in the indie scene don’t use editors, and really really should… and good things like that.
If nothing else, the con let me meet some people I should have met ages ago (Jae, Matt, Mike, Ron, Aaron, Eric, Blankshield… just off the top of my head), meet some folks I really enjoyed and have only recently become aware of through the forums (Clyde, Keith, Thor) and really get a sense of the people behind the UserIDs. Great stuff.
Also, there was a lot of talking about Space Hulk and Warhammer — that’s always good. 🙂
And I’m now totally okay with not liking Capes. Or Shock:. I know I’m not alone, and I know my reasons are much like the reasons that other people have — people with whom I share many other gaming preferences. It’s not this thing that i don’t get — it’s this thing that just isn’t for me, for a number of reasons both artistically, enjoymentally (a new word) and just plain TECHNICALLY.
Like any of these sorts of things — it was a lot of time spent with folks who enjoy the same fun you do, talking, playing, and just enjoying being a part of a really grand hobby.
That’s a good thing. 🙂

Categories
Actual Play

We finally got to play some more of the “City of Petrana”

I’m very pleased with how it turned out

Categories
Actual Play

Week in Review

PBF
Can’t seem to get the momentum back up to pre-holiday rates on the Mountain Witch. Not sure what to do about it, as I’d really like to get that sucker moving again — it’s not like a play by post game needs any help being slow.
FtF
Got (I’d say) about half of the first honest session going in the “City of Petrana” steampunk TSoY game. I’m not thrilled with the amount completed, but I’m not surprised either, and I think we actually did pretty well — we made the characters up almost two months ago, haven’t touched them or the system (which we didn’t really use this go-round anyway) since, and haven’t seen each other really in almost as long — I felt a strong urge to just sit around and chat, compare notes on children’s programming, and share steampunk invention ideas with Margie for her character. 🙂 That said, the scenes (all of which were freeform roleplay) had a lot of zing to them, especially with the ducal heir (Leo) and Dave’s Pietro — which is as it should be, given their relationship. I’d really like to get a much richer, thicker cast of NPCs introduced, and to that end I really need to sit down and get a solid relationship map for the Ducal palace worked out. The first mini-arc — call it the pilot episode — doesn’t really help me with that, since it takes them away from the city, but this is the pilot and lets us look much more heavily at the main characters instead.
Wouldn’t mind a couple more people in this one — should see if Lee and De are interested or something.
Timing: Saturday and/or Sunday afternoons are, I think, the way to go at this point — I might eventually run (or play?) in a Friday night game, but that’s only a realistic option on alternate Fridays, so I don’t have Kaylee. By starting in early afternoon on a weekend day, we don’t have as many interruptions (meals, bedtimes, time to travel home), and that theoretically allows for more focus. The requisite bedtimes and ordering supper can then mark the end of the game-play and the beginning of ‘visiting and being social’ — this might be the best thing, since we know that we’ll be ‘digressing’ LATER, and can focus on the game NOW.
Anyway — I was the worst digresser of the lot this week — just felt like an age since I’d seen anyone. Only one way to fix that. 🙂
MMO
Didn’t do anything in the way of CoH this week. Only have a few toons in regular rotation as it is (Aeric, Markov), and they tend to get some playtime mostly as a social conduit more than as a game avatar.
I’m not really doing much on WoW at the moment, either — I’m essentially not allowed to play Grezz’k much, or I’ll level past whatever we’re doing with the NYC people, and I’m limiting my playtime on Kayti: when I run out of ‘double xp time’ I log her back off, and I’m basically following the same rule with the ‘little’ warlock I have as well. This means not a lot of time on, but I usually ding when I do log on — a level on Grezz’k, two on Kayti, and five or something on Kessana the Faith-look-alike warlock. I’ve got a few truly low-level characters I’m just screwing around with, but those are my three main ones.
I still don’t feel like I have a very good handle on group dynamics in WoW — even small groups — this is in part because I almost never get into a PuG when I’m playing (unfair to the other players, since KK could wake up at any point and pull me AFK — I’d rather that particular event only regularly killed *me*), except with the NYC group, and we only group when we’re doing an Instanced Dungeon, which doesn’t happen often and usually means it’s been two or three levels since the last time we grouped, and everyone has a new trick they want to use, so the tactics keep changing. That said, I’ve found that the game is quite satisfying solo, if (obviously) not as social — I compensate by cracking wise on the public channels.
At any rate, I’ve a lot to do in the next couple weeks with writing anyway, so it’s all probably just as well. Related: I’m not going to get the Burning Crusade expansion until I’ve sent out my next revision of Hidden Things, so as much as I’d like to try out the new races, it isn’t going to happen soon.

Categories
Actual Play MMO & Computers

Week in Review

Again, no Face to Face gaming, due to no faces to face with. Holidays are Suck.
In the Digital realms:
The Mountain With game continues apace. (A slow pace, but apace, nonetheless.)
Got Aeric (Bored/WalkingAbout Prince of Niffleheim Ice/Storm Controller) up to level 16. Ran the holy ice crystals out of the Winter Event, finally ran the King’s Row Bank/Safeguard mission successfully, got flight, got 15, started the shiny new Faultline Story Arcs with Sophie, and dinged 16, picking up Freezing Rain. (I respecced him somewhere in there to get closer to Stamina, sooner, and the loss of an Area Attack isn’t… TOO annoying. Just kinda.) Clearly, he’s gotten all my CoH time. I’m still working out the Controller-with-Scrapper dynamic (I think it’s funny that I have a Controller/Tank mindset that really finds scrappers annoying, and a Scrapper/Blaster mindset where I do ALL THE SAME STUFF I HATE.)
I would like to get Damosel Distress, Zero at the Bone, Dolmen, and Strat through the restarted winter event — Anyone else past that… like Gilly… is a bonus.
Grezzk (orc hunter resurrected from my time on Forest’s Edge) is about level 27 on the Kirin Tor server. I’m playing him mostly solo (inasmuch as a Hunter is ever truly solo), then teaming up with the NYC guys for running Instances (think CoH Task Forces with multiple goals that all take place in a single, large location — a mission map the size of a small city zone, maybe — it’s essenitally that kind of time involvement). Last weekend, we annihilated the Wailing Caverns (except for one TPK that my pet might or might not have inadvertently caused), and I think we’re doing Blackfathom Deep this weekend — I’m a few levels ahead of everyone else, so the instances are pretty easy, but with cool stories and good fun.
Kayti (dwarven paladin) is level 21 and has her sites set on the Deadmines dungeon instance. Due to the situation with her, this will be a PuG group, so I’m a little leery. I’m also working her through a paladin-only quest that teaches her a few new powers and gets her a cool shield and a positively FANTASTIC main weapon (which quest in turn will take her into two more instanced dungeons). I’m in a really good guild (a casual-player-friendly, RP-friendly-but-not-mandatory, we’re-all-grownups-with-lives-who-like-to-play, with a massive playerbase and smart people — called “Knights and Weekends”), but most of the players are higher level than Kayti, so I can’t get a lot of help on these missions from them at this point. And I really WANT to get into group things with her, because large fights in the middle of melee are a LOT more difficult to do than Grezzk’s “stand back and shoot them to ribbons while Tusker the Super Pig tanks”.
it’s very interesting comparing the two games — there’s stuff that each game does better than the other — though both are very interesting, fun games. I think the most impressive thing is how different the power levels feel on the game — I’ve gotten two characters into the 20’s on WoW MUCH faster than I could on CoH, and with less experience, but “one, maybe two, enemies at a time” is still VERY much the rule to live and die by in that game — it’s very harshly realistic in that way. If you don’t feel ‘super’ in CoH (where I routinely bypass large parts of a mission even with my wimpy controller by just running by guys and ignoring their attacks), then play WoW for a bit — you WILL. 🙂 Both games capture their genre (comics, versus gritty ‘every fight is a fight to the DEATH that could go wrong and kill you’ fantasy) extremely well.

Categories
Actual Play

AP: tMV in PbP (Actual Play: the Mountain Witch in Play-by-Post)

It’s not entirely true that I didn’t get any gaming time in this weekend: I’ve recently started up Play-by-Forum-Post game of The Mountain Witch, hosted on a new forum install I put up just for this purpose. We’ve been actively doing stuff with the game for about 10 days, and already have all the characters created, backstories worked out, setting background sketched in, and have just finished our first scene (in which introductions and foreshadowing were done). The game plays fast (1 to 4 sessions) in face to face, so I believe the pace and short format will counteract the glacial speed of forum play. So far, it seems as though it has. Good stuff. Also, it lets me run something with a mix of Denver and NYC people at the same time.
Keeley’s talking about doing something similar with the forum and My Life With Master after Mountain Witch wraps up — I’m very very intrigued and interested in that — My Life with Master was, in fact, the very first “Indie” game I bought, and the thing that got me reading the Forge and the games that were coming out of it. I’ve always wanted to play a game.

Categories
Actual Play

NYC TSoY

After nine months of dancing around the idea, I finally got a chance to run a game for the ‘geeks’ out in NYC. It came about in a funny way.
Their main GM has been gone (theatre work out of town) for awhile and has just returned. Talks as to what to play/run have commenced, and Kate mentioned that Keeley was wondering if I had any thoughts on the subject, and if I’d bring em along to share at a game-day thing on Sunday while I was in town.
The method of conveying this information left me thinking “I should run something.” I prepared to run something. (Specifically a run of the Freebooters scenario I’ve run before, using The Shadow of Yesterday, which I love, but haven’t touched since the last time I ran Freebooters.)
I chatted a bit with Keeley, and got that it was more of an informational chatting thing over card and board games. Ahh. Okay. I emailed myself my prep (to have for some other time) and unpacked all but one printed-out copy of the rules, ostensibly to leave with Keeley or Jay (their main GM) to check out.
Conversations over the weekend led me to say “Hey, I want to run something: pirates and zombies — who’s in?”
Response was good. Too good, maybe: six people showed up to play for a game where I had 4 pregens. Keeley and Kate made up their own people, of which I think Kate’s was more successful, just because I had more time to think about how to include her character in the scenario.
Everyone showed up. We played.
The Good:
Lots of fun. I laughed really hard. There were some funny scenes, and some REALLY funny scenes.
Several folks noticed parts of the system they really liked. Jay dug the Harm mechanic, and Timothy really got it well. Everyone seemed to dig Keys and Pools and Gift Dice and how they all worked. (I particularly liked Matt’s decision to give me a LOT of Gift Dice to use against Rob in a conflict, just because he thought it would be really cool if the witch of Rope Hill got what she wanted in the conflict. That is a can of awesome — player’s diving in and saying “This story would kick ass. I’m going to invest in making that happen.”)
It seems like a small thing, but everyone got the rules. Within the time it took to run the session (6:30 to 10:30) we’d done normal conflicts, multiple Bringing Down the Pain exchanges, bought new abilities, pools, and Secrets, taken Harm, used up Pools… even Kate (who does not usually think in terms of System stuff) pointed out a logic-error I was making in a major conflict; and observation that really helped straighten the whole thing out.
The Bad
I hadn’t touched the rules in awhile, and didn’t want to reference them much at the table (only did one time), and as a result I messed up a couple scenes a bit, notably the one with the Witch of Rope Hill, which was funny, but a bit confused and didn’t get straightened out until near the end. That shouldn’t have happened.
The group was too big. Five would have been okay. Six was too many.
The Ugly:
I didn’t have time, with everyone there, to give equal attention to al the players, and those at the far end of the table suffered for it. Apologies to Jay and Keeley and Matt, specifically. 🙁 With that many folks, I would rather have played without a table. I think it would have worked better.
The new-ness of the system didn’t give me a chance to work some of the characters Keys into the scenes well enough. In other runs, folks have hit 3 or 4 advances in a night — in this run, only about half the people at the table even got one advance, even though they covered just as much ground. Part of that was…
“Don’t Split the Party.” This is a die-hard, carved-in-stone tenet of that particular gaming group (due to the fairly bloody nature of most of the game systems they play normally). The group’s normal GM went to great lengths to come up with IC reasons to get everyone working together, and within a few minutes of leaving the ship, five of the six characters were ganging up on various challenges that were meant to be fairly tough for one guy and reasonably challenging for two. They steamrolled pretty much everyone — the Witch of Rope Hill was the only thing that took them more than a few minutes of game play to crush. Interestingly, the grouping up ALSO cut into amount of XP the people were getting from hitting their keys, simply because people didn’t have a chance to hit them — Key of the Wanted Man is hard to make ‘important’ when you’re in a big group, for example. Very interesting.
All in all: A fun time. I’ve already played with most of these guys before, and I had a great time, found some fun moments, and basically walked away with a big grin and a strong desire to try it all again, but with more prep and a more personalized set up.

Categories
Actual Play MMO & Computers

Week in Review

Marginally frustrating week, in that I keep trying to get some games going, and the combination of everyone’s schedules and the holidays continues to confound my efforts.
Said frustration was countered by a couple fun sessions of CoH, which hasn’t happened in awhile.

Categories
Actual Play

Weeks and weeks and weeks in review

Been traveling for awhile, and scheduling is always hard during the holidays, so there hasn’t been much gaming going on.
Played the second session of Dogs in the Vineyard, which I need to write up a log for. Next game… maybe Sunday.
Played some CoH — mostly Pummelcite, but a smattering of other characters, including Hype.
Played and finished Prince of Persia – Sands of Time. Fun.
Played and quit Prince of Persia – Warrior Within. Not fun.
Reinstalled Warrior Within and approached it with a significantly different mindset. The first one is still more fun and more reminiscent of the original game, but I’m not hating PoP-WW this time — except that one of my fingers hurts from pressing the same button so damn much.

Categories
Actual Play

Wah?

Somehow, I forgot to write down the Actual Play from the second Dogs session. That’s just wacky. I will fix soon.

Categories
Actual Play

Roached, again

Saturday, we picked up our Roach game again, and got quite a bit further through the razing of Pemberton University.
A Word on Our Playing Speed:
I’ve commented before on the fact that, unless I set up a game with none of the kids around offering up distractions, we just don’t get as much done as we would otherwise. For instance, I’ve run John Harpers “Freebooters” TSoY scenario twice, and in one case (no kids around) I finished the whole thing up in about four hours — in the other (kids around) we took about 5 or 6 hours to get about two-thirds of the way through.
Now, while I might like to set up a regular game that’s ostensibly kid-free, I shouldn’t like to let people think that I’m particularly frustrated by this — we have kids, we love our kids being around, and that’s just one of the downsides of the unquestionable good.
Or, as De commented near the end of the evening, “We could be playing through this faster than we are, but how we’re doing it really suits us.”
Well said. We had a lot of fun setting up the minutia and particulars of each scene during the events, with everyone jumping in and contributing additional NPCs and material.
To review:
* Doyce, as Douglas Dean (“Double D”) Blackburn, Asst. Prof of Poetry and Theatre Arts, into sports and debauchery.
* De, as “Kitty”, a hard of hearing full professor of Chemistry, into cruelty and deceit.
* Lee, as “Penny”, I think… damn I had a problem remembering his name Asst. Prof. of Art, also into cruelty and deceit.
* Margie, as “Benny”, I think… Asst Prof of Geology, into Gossip and… Something.
* Dave as “Pansy”, Full Professor of Botany, into Wit and young fresh men. err… Freshmen. Right.
I’m using the nicknames everyone had rather than their full names because I flat out don’t remember them — we used the nicknames almost exclusively during the game.
So, with our first Event done already, we started up with the WINE AND CHEESE SOCIAL.

Categories
Actual Play

Dogs in the Vineyard: about damned time

Okay, so… it’s been two years since I got Dogs. More than that; I had one of the first pre-Gen Con copies of DitV and I loved it. My enthusiasm for promoting the game to the folks I play with was pretty high, and we even got some characters made, back in October of 2004, and put them through their initiations before it got too late to continue on to the first town. The response was… mixed — “cool setting, cool characters… but man… it feels like the dice get in the way of every single line I want to say when we’re RPing.”
And … after that, what happened? Nothing.
See, November rolled around a week later — I was GMing two ‘regular’ games and secretly participating in my third NaNoWriMo… I was putting down stone tiles in my kitchen and bathroom (which I’d never done before), the holidays were on the way, and on November 28th, I found out my daughter was nine short months away from needing a bedroom. In short, we never got back to the game.
Hell, I really didn’t get back to any game for well OVER a year… damn near two.
So, fast forward to a couple months ago. Things have quieted down a bit — a lot of different things are going on in my life now, but it feels like there’s a rhythm… like I’ve got a system that works, and that wouldn’t be shattered by some gaming, and whether or not I love gaming, I for damn sure hate sitting around with nothing to do, so…
So there’s been a lot of talk about some games, and of course I start pushing all the dirty-hippie games on my shelf, start up a short-lived HQ game, and head back over to the Forge for probably the first time in six months and start reading.
… and read.
… and read.
And there’s so much that’s out that’s new and good. And old and good… and oh my word, there so much I want to play.
And I start talking about all this on my blog, and Dave sort of picks up the vibe some and allows that yeah, he’d both like to play some of this stuff, and y’know, he’d like to GM some too, maybe. Heck, he’s always loved Dogs in the Vineyard, and we never got to play it… maybe he should run it.
And I say “You should!”
And then I say “But… y’know… before that… I could finish running the story for those guys we all made up.
And I read the new DitV book again.
And I read the old characters again.
And I find the first town I wrote up, as an experiment of transferring a relationship map from one source into a totally different genre, and I saw how it could be better…
And I get really excited.
And Friday, 23 months after we made up the characters, we played the first town. Virtue.
Here’s what happened.

Categories
Actual Play

Death! Debauchery! Tenure!

Saturday the 9th I rode down to Lee and De’s new place about an hour and a half away with Dave and Margie in tow. I’ve been trying to get our gaming quotient up a bit, and I walked in the door with five games prepped (in the sense that I had sufficient supplies to run each of them) — Jungle Speed (which I dropped on the table with a sticky note that read ‘not optional’), PTA, Shadow of Yesterday, Mortal Coil, and the Shab al-Hiri Roach. I just pulled every game out and set them out on the table to see what folks were interested in. I was pretty much open to anything, but if I was going to lay odds, I’d have guessed that we’d end up playing a one-shot of the Roach and that De would want to borrow Mortal Coil and angle for an ongoing game of same.
I would have been right.

Categories
Actual Play

Galactic, Session Two

Denver Session 2: short on scenes, long on RP, fun, and future promise.
Kate can attest: I came off this session engergized — wired to the point of being nearly intelligible. 🙂 Little Chatty Kathy, that’s me.

Categories
Actual Play

The Princes(ses)’ Kingdom!

Last night, I got to run The Princes’ Kingdom for Katherine. I write about it over on the Forge in [TPK] First-time Princes’ Kingdom, with a six-year-old!
So awesome.

I asked her if she had any traits that would help, and we went down the sheet:
“Would your… Swimming help?”
“Nnnooooooo….”
“Would your…. Karate help?”
“Nnnooooooo….”
“You could kick your teacher in the face.”
“*giggles* Don’t be silly, Uncle Doyce.”
.. and so on.

I can’t stop grinning.

Categories
Actual Play

Galactic Playtest, Session One

Played the first ‘real’ session of the Galactic playtest on Saturday. Here’s what happened.
Forgive, please, the extra-super details on who rolled exactly what dice in each conflict — this is a playtest, and the game’s author has asked for lots of detail on how the conflicts balance out. Aside from that, the start of the stories are pretty cool.

Categories
Actual Play

Paranoia: “No… it’s ‘suck my nuts.'”

Okay, so on Thursday night last week I hooked up with some folks in NYC to play Paranoia — the new version, done by very respectable Mongoose Publishing.
Had. A. Friggin’. Blast.

Categories
Actual Play

Weekend in summary (more later)

There was actually a fair amount of game-type things going on this weekend. I will write a bit more about each individual element later (when I have my notes), but in the meantime here’s a quick summary posted mostly just to push the gaming calendar down the page a bit. (But isn’t it kinda neat that it’s there?)
Thursday: Played Paranoia for the first time evah, with a whole group of people I’d never really RP’d with before. Had. A. Friggin’. Blast. So funny. Very low-stress easy-learn rules and tons of Pure Funny pouring around. More later.
Saturday: During the Beach-House-Party the geeks from NYC commandeered the dining room table to play some Jungle Speed (first time for everyone but Keeley). While this is a great, fun game, it’s damned hard to play when you’ve had a corona or six two, so we switched to Pit, which was different fun, but still fun.
Monday: Played Cataan. My province was generally peaceful and agrarian, exploring for the sake of exploring and trading only insofar as was necessary to enable the simple lives to which my people had become accustomed. In short, we were simplistic but happy bumpkins who would no doubt have ended a ‘Protectorate’ of whoever actually *won*. I need to play this game more; it’s fun. Initial outlay for the basic game, plus the expansions, is a little prohibitive though. Ahh well.
… and that’s it. I’ll have more to say, later, about Paranoia, Jungle Speed, and Pit.

Categories
Actual Play

Weekend in Review

Hmm… didn’t do a whole heckuva lot this weekend, gaming-wise, due to Kaylee-busy-ness and yard work.
Friday: had a really good time doing this. (see also a summary of events here.
Saturday: Horrifying amounts of yard-work (HOA is busting my balls, not to put too fine a point on it), followed by Steak, baked beans, beer, and watching a bunch of Deadwood, season one, with Lee.
Sunday: Kaylee was pretty tired and having a rough day (turns out she has a low-grade fever that isn’t likely to leave her be for a couple more days), so I didn’t really get anything done at all. Did log into CoH that night and got both Markov and Mister Brightside dinged-up to a power level. Cool.

Categories
Actual Play

The Shadow of Yesterday: Freebooters One-Shot (Second Run), Post-mortem

So the HQ: Firefly game that we’d slotted to run on Friday didn’t come off. I think I need to restructure how we’re trying to make that game scheduling work. The current thing isn’t working — one every three months is barely gaming, let alone a campaign — and I’d really like it to.
So, with four interested players present, I decided to pull out the “Freebooters” scenario and pre-gen character that I’d used only two days previous with a mixed group of strangers, people I’ve played with a lot, and people I haven’t GM’d much a’tall, and see what THEY thought of the system.
The Good:
* A lot of laughing around the table and enjoyment, I thought.
* I think I set stakes pretty well in most cases, so that if the players won the conflict (which didn’t happen much, as noted in ‘ugly’, below), the results were cool, and if they failed, the complications were ALSO cool. Easiest example for that was “If you win, you get the lock open before the Guy comes back… if you fail, he comes back before you open the lock.” The player failed, and in walks The Guy. It was part of what made up what was probably the best scene of the evening.
* I tried to remember and use “Failure Doesn’t Mean the Character Looks Bad”, but there’s a corollary to this: “They CAN look bad, especially if that’s what the player wants.” There were a couple of failure-situations during the evening where player simply thought it would be cooler/funnier if their character just really flubbed up and looked kinda silly doing it. De really blew a “convince them I’m not a witch” conflict, and Lee actually had his character set his own beard on fire as the result of a too-cunning-plan-gone-wrong. It was fine for a one-shot, and honestly that kind of slapstickyness does fit the pirate genre pretty darn well, provided the characters get to turn around and be cool thereafter (which both did).
* Players taking charge and doing some aggressive scene-framing. This fell along the lines of “ooh, that thing with Jackie is cool for my character too: I want to be there. Jackie can I be there with you? Yeah? Okay, I’m there,” and lo, it was good.
The Bad
* Dogs in the Vineyard has this rule for the GM: “Say Yes or roll dice. I said ‘no’ on two occasions when I should have rolled dice or just said Yes. As impossible as I thought it was, I should have just dropped penalty dice on one of the sneak thief’s more hair-brained schemes, set Stakes, and let the situation fall out as it would, and I shouldn’t have balked Dave’s request for a few more XP from his Key as a result of a cunning plan. That last thing? I don’t even know WHY I did it. It was stupid.
* I wasn’t weaving the character’s scenes very well — there was too much downtime for some of the players, and not enough going on in the other scenes to interest them, AND *way* too much “wandering off when I’m not playing”, which was partly fed by the other two issues, and partly by outside factors, and it just made things not-hum. Also, when the other players aren’t really paying attention to or interested in your scene, you’re less likely to get Gift Dice from them spontaneously.
* Laughing and enjoyment is some good peanut butter to put on a sandwich, but I spread it out unevenly — too thick in some places, too thin in others, which means that I think the girls got a lot of screen time and the guys not as much. I just didn’t manage that very well. This ties into the scene-weaving problem as well, and contributed to the results.
The Ugly
* I was rolling really well, and the players were, as a group, rolling absolute shite. All night. It was truly atrocious. They would roll bad, then spend a pool point to get bonus dice, and the bonus dice would suck… and someone would give them Gift Dice, and they’re roll THEM, and they would suck EVEN WORSE. It made things a little frustrating for the players at times, I think; difficult to narrate at times, for me; and sort of ate into (1) the suspension of disbelief and (2) the enjoyment of the system and (3) their faith in their character’s competency.
* I used the exact same pattern for starting play as I did on Wednesday, part of which involved explaining the rules by using the character sheet right after everyone had selected their character for the evening. The problem that arose was that that period of play was the absolute worst 30 to 40 minutes of the evening for unavoidable non-play interruptions, which meant that for almost every one of the Six Key Points I needed to cover, I had to repeat myself at least once and maybe even four separate times to make sure everyone heard, didn’t check for understanding, got tired of giving the same examples over and over… and all that resulted in some confusing during play and mistakes. I’m not sure how I could have worked that better, except for maybe just jumping right into play, but that carries it’s own problems, so… that might simply have been out of my hands, somewhat — I’d avoided it on Wednesday night by having no kids around at all and no extraneous distractions, but that’s not something that’s going to be possible for years and years in my regular group.
All in all: fun night, definitely. One frustration was that we didn’t actually finish (some scenes ran quite long, the intro-rules portion ran about double of the first session, we were really laughing it up at times, and for whatever reason my regular group runs slower than a convention-style group) and I’m not sure when I can schedule a sequel without ‘using up’ a time slot in which I could be trying to get the Firefly game humming along regularly.
There is a lot to be said, as a GM, for having a simple, wide-open, reusable scenario with some easy-to-grasp pregen characters, then running the scenario two or three times with totally different groups; it helps you work on scenes and techniqutes where you didn’t do as well as you’d like “the last time”, it helps you hone some of your better tricks, and it illustrates in a very clear way how your player-friends are different from one another, AND similar. The danger in doing all that is that you can get in a bit of a rut, expecting people to react to a situation the same way as ‘last time” (they never do) and (the CARDINAL sin for repeat-sessions) tempts you to tell a later group some cool thing a PREVIOUS group did in a similar situation. Keep that crap to yourself — maybe forever, and at LEAST until the end of the session.

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Actual Play

In regular gaming news…

Firefly game tonight, session two. Session One is here, basically.

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Actual Play

Week or so in review

Last Wednesday, had a great, unexpectedly great, time on Victory server. Good stuff.
Friday: Firefly game, using Heroquest rules. Set up and rules are here. Good time, if a slow start.
Saturday: Spring Fountain Heroquest game. Thought it might be the big finale, but we got started late and didn’t get as far as I expected. However, with that said, the scenes we DID have were great.
Monday: Munchies. A blast as always.
Tuesday: Epitaph founded the Boomtown Saints supergroup and applied for membership in the Alliance.
The end.

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Actual Play

Online GMing

My second (and first ‘solo’ attempt) in-game meta-plot: Skyway Community Rec.

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Actual Play

Heroquest, Spring Fountain: 2

I’m currently running an HQ game for my die-hard DnD group on the alternate Fridays from the regular game. Here’s what happened in the most recent play session (already about a month ago, due to scheduling problems and holiday crap).
In short, success. Go to here for the list of characters, the player briefing, et cetera. Here’s an outline of what happened:

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Actual Play

XQ2

XianQuan, session 2 is up. Thoughts below.

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Actual Play

HQ-XQ, Session 1

Played through the first session of the Xian Quan Heroquest game on Saturday. I’d call it a decent if somewhat bumpy start (esp. in chargen), but everyone seems enthused and engaged, so we’ll call it a win.
Two things I think are fun
— I think every player in the game would tell you that they’re playing a character who is ‘against type’ for them. I wouldn’t disagree.
— Jackie is playing the ‘eurocentric’ version of Xian Quan with a different play group. Comparing how her character in “Spring Fountain” relates to Collette to the way her “Xian Quan” character relates to Kai Ling is… really wild.

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Actual Play

Heroquest, Spring Fountain: 1

On Friday, the group for whom I normally GM DnD got together to play Heroquest. I’ve been nudging at the group to try something other than d20, and I’ve had a good responses from individual players in the past (with one exception, everyone in the game has played at least one session of what I’ll lazily term “forge games” — four have played InSpectres (but not together), four have played Sorcerer (though, again, not together, and not the same four), et cetera — but this would be the first time that the gaming group as a group would be trying out a more narrative (if not specifically narrativist) system.
This came about largely because one of the players couldn’t make the regular game (out of town for the holidays), and we’re coming close to the end of that campaign, and no one wants anyone to miss anything, so there was an opening. We ran almost 100 percent of (list method) character generation using a player-briefing that I posted to my wiki followed by lots of emails. Lots. The character briefing and character sheets are viewable here.
Between the basic setup and the characters that were presented, I’m half-expecting things to devolve into a Blood Opera, but I’m okay with that. 🙂
Anyway, here’s summary of what went down.

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Actual Play

Heroquest, the test run

Well, it was a slow weekend around the casa, so when Randy called up to see what we were doing yesterday, I proposed getting together to playtest Heroquest. He agreed, my wife agree, and we called Stan (who had been discussing HQ vs. d20 with me for the last couple weeks and had voiced an interest in trying out the system).
Now, I have a really bad habit of running games like this: call everyone, rush over on a Sunday afternoon around 3pm, start making characters… finish that by six, six-thirty, then run about half a scenario before everyone has to get home and crash, because tomorrow’s Monday.
That’s… basically exactly how this started… except, for a wonder, we actually finished the scenario!

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Actual Play

Sorcerer, Grimm Therapy, Session Six

Holy Cow! The anticipated final session actually ended up being the REAL final session! Wow!
Okay, I should have done this earlier, but I didn’t have time.
(All the campaign stuff is here.)

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Actual Play

Sorcerer, Grimm Therapy, Session 5

When we last left our heroes…
Kermit, Jason, and Nicky were in a knock-down, drag-out brawl with the Big Man in an abaondoned factory.