This has been sitting in my drafts folder for something like six months, so let’s put it out there, just for fun.
I made this guy up for a “feudal, so-high-tech-it’s-low-tech Japan” campaign that ran for (I think) just the character creation session. An obvious riff on the Blade of the Immortal comics (which I’ve never read).
Aspects High Concept: Immortal Samurai Trouble: Mysterious Past, Even to Me – Nanites in my Blood – Everyone Lies, but No One Listens – [open]
Great (+4) Fight
Good (+3) Deceive, Physique
Fair (+2) Athletics, Notice, Stealth
Average (+1) Craft, Ride/Transport, Will, Provoke
Stunts Nanite Repair. 2:Armor, or 2 over average armor in setting. 1x/session, spend a fate point to downshift Minor or Moderate Consequences (2 stunts). See also “Being Immortal in Fate.” Liars know Liars. Use Deceive to defend versus Deception or overcome obstacles created via Deception.
One of the complaints/problems I've run into with previous incarnations of Fate were with character advancement. To be blunt, there wasn't any, or it wasn't satisfying for those familiar with more mainstream RPG gaming.
That is, without a doubt, a 'fixed problem' with Fate Core and FAE. The best demonstration of that I've found have been with write-ups like these: Conan's entire career as a series of FAE milestones.
I self-identify as a gamer more readily and/or instinctively than any other social sub-caste, up to and including “parent.” Good or bad, that’s the way it is.
(To be fair, I’ve been dropping dice on various flat surfaces and expressing their results as bloody narrative for something like 32 years, which is four times longer than I’ve logged as a shaper of innocent human larvae, so maybe that’s okay.)
The thing is, if you consider that randomaverage (which is effectively the oldest blog I have) has no other purpose than to provide a space upon which I can scratch my game-related sanskrit, and you disregard the stuff I’ve written about EVE (which while voluminous was basically a paid gig), it becomes glaringly obvious that despite my well-documented interests, I haven’t been doing a lot of gaming recently.
(Recently: the last three years.)
2010 was essentially the last great gaming hurrah around Casa Testerman — a drought whose origin can be directly tied to the arrival of my son, and with Child3 just arrived, it would be fair to assume another third of a decade wandering the non-gaming wasteland.
2013 has, instead, seen the first green shoots of gaming life pushing up through the smothering mulch of diapers and dried formula that lies deep and crisp and even out to the edge of my personal horizon.
How can this be?
Some of it – a precious and important part – lies with the fact I’ve been able to start gaming with my daughter, but (so far, at least) that’s an unreliable and infrequent event, thanks to school and the mountains of homework we both have to deal with every week.
But aside from that, in the last fifteen weeks I’ve played in a dozen game sessions, which is the most proper gaming I’ve managed in the last three years, and the most time I’ve spent playing and not-GMing in… I think, ever.
The reason: Google+ Hangouts.
MMOs aside (and, really, they aren’t relevant to this discussion), I’ve never enjoyed much success with online gaming; things like play-by-post or play-by-email games just move too slowly to hold my interest for more than a few weeks. I tried out a Heroquest game via IRC text chat at one point, but even then the glacial pace was an issue – it was simply compressed into six-hour sessions instead of stretched over a month. Voice chat by itself never grabbed me – too much going on, and no way to easily sort out what was happening.
But Hangouts? Voice, video, dice rollers, shared maps/images… all available nigh-instantly, in one place, via a technological platform so simple my parents use it as a regular means of keeping in touch with their grandkids. I and the other players might as well be in the same room, with the added convenience that we aren’t — there’s no travel time, no room cleaning, no packing and carrying of game books, and your entire personal library of stuff remains immediately at hand because you haven’t gone anywhere. More than any other game sessions I’ve played, nearly 100% of the time you’ve allocated to playing is spent playing, instead of Getting There or Waiting For The Last Guy To Get There.
I think about how hard this all would have been as little as three years ago…
Now, I’m not a hermit – I don’t hate the idea of gathering together for gaming, nor do I even hate people (much).
But gathering is hard. Schedule a game session for even a modest 3 hours and you’re locked in for (at best) an hour on either side where (thanks to travel time, packing, prep, and the niceties of modern hygiene practice) you are essentially unavailable for any other purpose. As a parent who’d very much like his spouse to keep talking to him on a nigh-daily basis, that’s very nearly a non-starter right there.
But three hours when you don’t have to go anywhere and (in moments of need) can step away to help your understanding and supportive spouse for a few minutes? That’s good stuff.
This is all aided by the degree to which Google+ ties into the rest of the Google ecosystem. Schedule the event in your calendar and you (and your other players) get an emailed reminder at the right time, with a link to click on that will automagically open the hangout in a new window – no muss, no fuss. Pop an earpiece in or on, and you’re at the table. Better yet, wrap up, close the window, and you’re home. A three hour game session largely free of distraction, with the entirety of your home within easy reach, that starts and ended within minutes of the scheduled time and drops you right back into your family’s orbit? Nearly perfect, and no more disruptive to your home life than a long phone call. (I know I’ve spent more time providing long distance tech support to my family members, without forewarning, and didn’t feel nearly as good when the conversation wrapped up.)
“I have to get out.”
I’ve gotten excited about G+ gaming to the point where I’ve tried to set up regular gaming sessions on Google+ with people I actually know and see locally, because (a) I like playing with them and (b) even though they’re here, sitting down at the same table with them isn’t any easier just because we share a zip code – and it won’t be for at least another couple years (just for me, ignoring anyone else’s situation).
This desire to invite local friends to an online game led to an interesting conversation that exposed a fascinating misconception from one of my friends. I was talking about the game I was potentially planning, and asked if he’d be interested in joining. He replied:
“I really need to get out of my house and go meet with people to game.”
I asked if that was because of some technological problem.
“No. It’s that gaming is how I get out and see people. I don’t have the same opportunity you have to visit with interesting people at social events all the time.”
Because crying would have been awkward.
It should be obvious from what I’ve already written, but in case it’s not: I don’t find G+ useful because I’ve already had my fill of face to face contact. I enjoy G+ because it’s the best and often only regular option I have right now to have a conversation that doesn’t involve toilet training or homework assignments, without become completely unavailable as a husband or parent for five or six hours.
“I Don’t Know How You Do It.”
So this is my life right now:
Three kids: Infant, 2 year old, 8 year old
A marriage of which I’m rather fond
MFA program (writing workshop, directed reading, thesis, et cetera)
Part-time technical support for a forum
Guest speaker at a writer’s conference
And yet I fit in:
A regular weekly gaming session
A regular weekly writing workshop unrelated to the MFA (also online)
The reason it’s possible is:
My wife, who is awesome and supportive
Google+, which handles scheduling, reminders, play space, logs, dice rolling, voice, video, map sharing, doc sharing, and asynchronous communication between sessions, all via a platform that is low tech enough for nearly everyone I know
So… there you go. I don’t have a fancy wrap-up. Truth be told, I’ve been meaning to write this post for nearly a month, but I haven’t been able to find time. Funny and sad, when you think about it.
But I made time, because I think this is something more adult gamers need to know is out there. I’ve said before that I’m spending more time on Google+, because it’s the best online space for people who share your passion, and this is part of that. If you’re ones of those gamers who, if you’re honest, is really someone who used to be a gamer, you owe it to yourself to check out some of the Google+ communities and see what’s out there.
I write for a living and, more than that, I write because I love it. I always have: my first coherent story (a taut action-mystery-thriller in the ageless style of Alvin Fernald) is… let’s say “stored for posterity” in an old steamer chest in my garage. Handwritten, hand-bound, and illustrated in pen AND crayon – indisputably the best work I produced, circa 1979.
I’m proud of that little book, and the kid that wrote it. I’m proud of all the stories I’ve written since (even the ones consigned to my “still needs work” folder), the ones I’m working on right now, and (of course) Hidden Things. It’s a hell of a thing, to hold a book in your hands and see your words made solid in the world.
But I’ve never quite felt I was done with Hidden Things. Not quite.
Because for me, part of a story is telling it; actually speaking the words. Putting your characters’ rage and fear and joy into the air. Making listeners laugh, or cry, or groan. It’s simple: I was surrounded by storytellers as a kid, and that was what they did.
Now, I get to do it too.
Thanks to the efforts of my amazing agent and the fine folks at HarperCollins (who returned audio rights to me simply because I asked for them), I now have the opportunity to record the Hidden Things audiobook and make it available exactly the way I wish every audiobook could be.
Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon | TheMittani.com
In my last review, I talked about Atomic Robo, a fairly small-press, not-everyone’s-heard-about-it title. This time, let’s go the opposite route. Let’s talk about Marvel. Specifically, let’s talk about a story that really no one would have pegged as a winner, let alone the best title currently …
* – Should not actually be considered any kind of guarantee. At all.
Atomic Robo & the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne | TheMittani.com
Let’s start with a quick questionnaire. Do you like: Buckaroo Banzai; Indiana Jones; Doc Savage; Hellboy (movie or comic); Science, especially when it is followed with an exclamation point or preceded by the words “violent,” “adventure,” or both; Nikola Tesla; Wisecracks; Beating up Nazis …