Wish 3: Ideas

From Turn of a Friendly Die:

Discuss three setting ideas or ideas for elements of settings that you got from movies/books/TV/etc. that you have read or seen recently. These do not need to be full-fledged settings, but can be single elements that could be incorporated into existing games.

I tend to get more excited about genres more than settings, but let’s see what I can come up with…
1. Peking, as portrayed in Eight Skilled Gentlemen — a fine book and a series that I highly recommend. The distinct strata of society found in China, circa 630 a.d. is well-portrayed here, and gives you lots of grist for a polyglot city where so many things are going on that no one could possibly keep track of it all.
2. Raymond Chandler’s L.A., as seen through the eyes of Phillip Marlowe. It’s sort of a cross between what you see in L.A. Confidential crossed with the random idiosyncracies/insanity of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The city is corrupt, the suburbs are worse, and god help you if you leave the city limits. I recommend it highly to anyone doing noir stuff.
3. The hotel that ACNW is hosted at. Duh. Anyone that can’t do something with that place needs help. Example from Strange Weapons:

The place I had been directed to was on the eastern outskirts, a converted farm that might have qualified as a town unto itself during the time of its construction in the first part of the last century — private water tower, brewery, power station, and a number of residence buildings connected in maze-like fashion to become wings of the main house. The entire place had been restored and reopened as a hotel.

The rooms were reasonably large, the beds and other furniture were a mish-mash of styles and eras that matched nothing and fit perfectly. The walls of the entire place were hand-painted with varying levels of skill and included portraits, landscapes, scenes, and disturbing abstracts, any of which might end up replaced or repainted between my visits. Most guest rooms had to share a bath with others on the same floor and there were a grand total of perhaps a dozen phones on the premises, none of which were to be found on a guest?s night stand. There were no televisions, even in the pubs, and the cellular reception was terrible.

It was heaven. I stayed there whenever I was in the area and paid for it personally so that no one at work would ever find out about the place — all my expense reports indicated I stayed with a local friend.

True, but not entirely accurate.

Wish 2: Romances

Again, from Turn of a Friendly Die (recently added to the linkbar).

Describe two romantic relationships involving a PC you’ve seen in a game. One should be a romance that worked for the participants and the other should be one that failed, died, or came to an end. What was good and bad about these relationships from the point of view of plot and character development? How did the GM make the romance appealing to the players?

Alternatively, talk about a time when a PC in a game you were in turned down a romance and why. Was this a good or bad decision for plot purposes? Why was the romance unappealing to the player or character?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lysander and Daelyn from Things in Heaven and Earth. Sander basically ended up boffing the crown princess of a GC shadow by accident (it was a case of mistaken identity on her part), and the two were forced to get married.
Initially, it was all about the sex, then it was about the stress of rulership (her Dad was killed, making her Queen and him Royal Consort) and it’s hugely painful affects on their relationship, then it was about meeting each other again “for the first time” and really seeing one another again.
In the end, it was maybe the only entirely “normal” relationship in the whole game… maybe in all of the games I’ve ever run.
Lemme think: again, I’m really interested in what’s going to happen with Nayda in my Star Wars game, but I think I’ll mention Corwyn instead.
Corwyn was the first NPC I GM’d though a relationship. This was 4 or 5 years before playing ADRPG or reading the Amber books, so don’t ask where the name came from — Corwyn’s a she. Cor was a foil for one of the PC’s in my first “Haven” game, which in my mind is still one of my favorite games and an experience I’m still trying to echo — the player of the PC involved in this (Roland, for those who know my college gaming group) was (and is) fantastic, and I think we were both stretching our legs on that story arc. It was shy, uncertain, and easy to mess up with a wrong word or a thoughtless action — in short, it was the quintessential First Romance.
Roland drew a good picture of her and the rest of the group… I wish I had a copy.

So this is what that feels like

Wendi was there first, and Rey showed me how the damn things worked, but I really feel like, within the group of people (not just talking about my friends here, but simply people I know) that I know and interact with on a fairly regular basis (in reality or virtual space), I was ahead of the curve on blogging, and even got some really good people using the tool. Especially with gamers and folks of that sort, it’s really a natural fit for the sort of constant stream-of-thought documentation that goes with creating something entertaining that’s also basically free, for public consumption.
The reason I’m mentioning it: last year I was out at ACNW in early November. This would have been about six months into my blogging activity; I’d just come off of a really big hit-count month for the main page, had posted about 17.5 thousand words in October (until I did NaNoWriMo, it seemed like a lot), and I was using the blogging tools available to revamp most of my gaming pages to a greater or lesser degree, so of course I was talking about it.
No one knew what the hell I was on about. Blank looks were the best thing I could hope for, even when I tried to explain it (“man, it’s pretty cool”).
These days, things are different. I went surfing around today and noticed that almost every one of the people that I know ‘create’ stuff in Amber have a blog-ish thing going on now. At a local convention, I was recently informed that my blog is actually something of an in-joke for people who read it — a reference that they can all share between themselves. I don’t know if that’s a group of the truly hip or the truly lame, but at least it’s a group.
So this is what that feels like: being one of the first, at least in my little group, and seeing everyone else catching up and saying “man, this is pretty cool.”

Bit Players

Turn of a Friendly Die has an interesting little query:
Describe three NPCs (not major villains) that you really liked and what they added to the game. The NPCs can be from any game you’ve been in as a player or GM, and any system or genre.
Kethos: Sort of a hybrid of several of Michael Wincott’s characters from this or that movie, Kethos started out in Keys to the Pattern as a Bad Guy, but that campaign ended too quickly and I hadn’t gotten him out of my system, so he appeared again in TiHE. That was a strange situation, as Jackie was so sure that he was still a bad guy that I had to go to great lengths to convince her (and everyone else) otherwise, making him Scum-with-a-heart-of … well, tarnished silver at best, but you get the point. Still one of my favorite guys.
Vaughn: Flora’s kid in TiHE, Vaughn had several strikes against him — he was introduced by a player who could rarely play, was manipulated by his mom, and was quite simply plain… not as flashy, tough, or flamboyant as any of his kin but still a good guy… maybe one of the better guys – and he loved his cousins. I think I found a place for him in my head when he told Breann “I’d rather be a secondary character in your story than the star of mine” to explain why he was willing to do the things he did for her and her brother.
Nayda: Currently a walking plot-hook and love interest in my Star Wars game, Nayda has (I think) real potential to become something more than than what she is… the players are constantly trying to make her one-dimensional (“the addict”, or “the slut” or “the danger magnet”), and like Kethos, my efforts to make everyone see that there’s more there than that is giving her a lot of texture she wouldn’t otherwise have had.
All my best NPC’s are those honed against other players.

Dirty Little Secrets

  • I don’t mind how many exp I give out in the DnD game, because I won’t miss this game when it’s over, and leveling people quickly gets me to the conclusion a bit sooner. I’ve got the end of the campaign predicted, based on current exp/session rates, and I’m looking forward to it.
  • The most complete story arc I have right now is for the rarely-run Oriental Adventures game.
  • The fact that Episode 2 is jumping ahead 10 years is immobilizing my ability to work out the Star Wars game’s timeline.
  • I’m desperately trying to finish up the Campaign Start of Pulp Heros before I get bored with the whole thing. Given my normal pattern, I’ve got about 45 days before I hit a 2-month ‘down cycle’.
  • Playing Amber Diceless only motivates me to run d20 Amber.
  • I’ve got too many players, too many games, and not enough time pay full attention to any of it.

No comments required, I just feel like venting.

OGL stuff

These guys want me to do some work with them, prompted by Hocus Pocus, Mumbo Jumbo (which I wrote for BESM in the 1st Edition days).
Surprised. Complimented. The site is nice, and the idea and plan is a good one. I’m intrigued.
That said, I’m not taking on any more projects until I finish the NaNoWriMo, but this place looks pretty interesting (haven’t checked out the rules they’ve written already, though, so…).
Anyway, gamers of the world who read this page (a six of you) — might wanna check them out.


Added a new Shapeshifter class to the d20 Amber Basic Character Classes. I really like how that guy turned out. Also, tweaked ranger and got rid of Druid.
Things still to do:

  • I figured out the rules for making Trumps (needs more detail), but not the rules on how to use them. Extension of this: mental combat.
  • I need to fiddle with the age brackets for chargen. Realized it’s not quite right yet (following some testing).

Addendum: Just doubled the size of the Feats section, adding a bunch of “Background” feats, as well as things like Improved Familiar and Heroic Recovery (A.K.A. “Cockroach”).


Updates to the Amber d20 pages. Specifically, did some work on the character classes, notably Ranger. Started the painful process of eliminating non-genre spells from the Magic section. Finished the Feats and skills for Logrus (Probably won’t do the non-canon powers for a long while, especially since my favorite power (Twilight) can be done more easily with the Prestige class Shadowdancer).
Did a bunch of reformatting in the skills, feats, and power skills section, and reeditted the equipment section.
Also, slowly replacing the term Gold Piece with Game Point (thus abstracting money).

Blast It!

(but for how much damage?)
I’m really close to a new version of Swift, but I’m hung up on how to handle the sustaining of damage in a way that’s both reliable and not over-detailed. Right now, it’s not quite where I want it.
Also, I need to do something in the way of scale, I think. Maybe. I’m pondering a simple two-page add-on for vehicle rules.
Addendum: wrestled around with this most of yesterday and finally got something I think is clean enough, and which factors in all the things I think are important.