Recent game activity

Haven’t updated in a week or so with anything, so here’s just a few thoughts and updates.
Generally, I didn’t do much of any gaming in November, due to NaNoWriMo.
MMO
WoW’s Wrath of the Lich King is out. I haven’t gotten the update yet and haven’t been on the game since very very early November. It all sounds cool, but honestly I’m not really itching to play at the moment.
Ditto Warhammer online which, while a ton of fun and an all around excellent game, just isn’t grabbing me — I suppose that might be a simple function of not knowing anyone in the game, really. I botched a free server transfer to a more populated server and managed to send my main character to a different server than all my other characters. Haven’t really felt like playing since then. 😛
LOTRO, conversely, has really been scratching an itch for me. The new Mines of Moria expansion is doing a fantastic job expanding the lore presented in the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring, the art is fantastic, the new classes are a ton of fun, the OLD classes are really entertaining me right now. My current favorite new addition? A series of about… I’m going to say 10 new instances that are (a) designed to be run with no more than 3 players (and which can be run with two if they have certain abilities) (b) each take no more than 30 to 45 minutes to run and (c) reward you with some really good stuff that benefit all the players. So… yeah. All my online game time has been focused on LotRO right now.
Tabletop
As I said, no gaming in November and none in December either — this is pretty much par for the course during the holidays, but I’m getting a little stir-crazy without some dice to roll.
In January, I’m starting up a (very) small group on Wednesday nights to play a bunch of Indie games. We’re going to play every other week, and will be starting with Dogs in the Vineyard, then maybe Galactic or IAWA or Dead of Night – once we have a little trust and familiarity built up, I’ll trot out something like Bliss Stage or My Life with Master.
Very very jazzed about this.

Solitude: Strangely familiar

Penny Arcade writes about our current gaming schedule.
It’s a fact of the Holiday Season that gaming schedules take a kick in the junk (though I don’t have the heart to go back and look at how many game sessions I actually played in 2008, they way I did for 2007 — it would be sad), but it still gets to me a bit.
I have a plan in the back of my head to set up a weekly “indie game” on Wednesday nights, once we’re into the new year. The benefits are that weekend plans won’t get in the way, and that the limited amount of play time will force us to focus. The downside being a limited amount of play time, but even that I’m not sure about. I’m excited about this idea. Thinking about maybe 3 people with the option to bring in 1 or 2 additional people for specific games.
20081117.jpg

To my gamer-homies that don’t live within 10 minutes of me…

415610_sk_lg.jpg I’m seriously thinking about this camera (thirty bucks, so… less than a tank of gas), plus Skype (free), for in-home video conferencing.
It’ll be more and more useful as Kaylee gets older and I need some remote face-time, but for gaming? Yeah, I’m seriously thinking about this. Maybe just as a test run if enough people are interested enough to shell out for the camera.
Why? Mostly so I can play with more people without everyone bankrupting themselves for the gas money. 😛

“Let’s not create a WoW-widow before we even get married, hmm?”

… or, to be fair, a Gaming-widow in general.
I’ve been giving my Google-calendar a workout for the last couple days, because although I am a gamer of many different colors and stripes, I have traveled down the road of life-imbalance quite a few times since the early 90s (oh, those early MUDs and MUSHes; oh those hours of Space Hulk and Battletech map creation), mid-90s, and far far more recently… and I’d just rather not go back there, thanks.
So: I raid in WoW (though I could wish for a little more progression-status and a little less farm-status — I did my farming in my youth :P), and I have some alts I really enjoy, and I play LotRO, and a have a copy of Tabula Rasa winging its way to me for a practically criminal discount, and I have table top games I’m running and even more that I want to run, and then there’s writing stuff, and reading stuff… the question before me is “how do I get enough time to ‘blow stuff up’, without ensuring that I have “ALL THE TIME YOU COULD EVER WANT, AND THEN SOME, YOU BASTARD”?
Ahem.
I’m not an expert, but these are the guidelines I’m working with right now.
1. Schedule my time. I don’t mean just my play time, but just flat out schedule the Big Stuff that needs doing during the next week. Note: I use the word “needs” advisedly, and not without some irony; leveling my druid does not “need” doing… it’s just one of those things I’d enjoy getting to do.
2. Kate and Kaylee first. The time I will, without fail, spend with My Girls during the week goes on the calendar first. Everything else bends to adapt. Non-negotiable. This is fairly easy for Kaylee-time, as Jackie and I already have a set schedule that pretty much ensures I see her every day (barring the off-weekend). Kate and I — not habitually that detail-oriented — are working on actually scheduling stuff, too: weekly date nights and the Regular Tuesday Night Activity (currently swing dancing). This also (happily) includes some activities like LotRO and watching geeky shows like Avatar, so… Win/Win!
3. Limited ‘play commitments’. I have a limited amount of time to be online and playing stuff. Call it 15 to 20 hours a week. My guild has planned activities that take about 15 to 20 hours a week. I do ****NOT**** want to spend all my online time on those planned activities. Therefore, I need to strictly limit my raiding commitments. This basically boils down to (selfishly, very selfishly) signing up only for stuff *I* really want to do, and NOT signing up for things just to ‘help folks out’. I’ve prioritized my time helping online-people out before, and it always means I spend too much time online with an exponentially decreasing amount of personal enjoyment. I play so *I* can have fun; bugger off, internets. This rule means I get to spend a good portion of ‘me’ time completely unstructured. I approve.
4. Vetoes Unless I am currently involved in some kind of group activity in which my sudden departure will result in screwing over a bunch of other people. (I’m GMing a game, a central player in a game, or in some kind of group, online), Kate (and, to a lesser degree, Kaylee) can ask me to drop what I’m doing. ((Emergencies, of COURSE, mean that I say “sorry guys, gotta go” and I f-ing GO. Duh. Obviously.)) Conversely, I reserve the right to go kill stuff instead of watching a third hour of Trading Spaces… or Little Einsteins.
There are unspoken parts of this, like the assumption that there will be lots of ‘white space’ on my calendar that will get filled in naturally with the “sand” of honey-dos, chores, random acts of laziness, and especially impromptu fun stuff involving either The Girls, or Games, or both.
But you have to lay out the Big Stuff first, before the whole area fills in with sand and leaves no room for them.
Or so it seems to me. I’ll report back, maybe, on how it all works in practice.

NPiP


When shall we get our reality-bending Amber Pulp on, chilluns?

Too much awesome for a single sentence.

So one of the players coming by on Friday to make up a character for our spirit of the century game “The Century Club Presents…” writes:
“What year do we start in? I need to know if soap operas exist yet.”

“Now a regular weekly publication!”

It’s a Spirit of the Century-palooza. First, we had a character generation shindig down at Lee and De’s for Nine Princes in Pulp (Amber, with a thick layer of pulpy goodness), and now…

“The Century Club Presents…” is (a) a fictional pulp periodical that tells the heroic tales of the Century Club and (b) a pulp pick-up game using the Spirit of the Century system. That means a game influenced by the pulps — serial adventures of the early Twentieth Century starring iconic characters like Doc Savage and The Shadow and echoed today in movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Rocketeer.
We’re aiming for each session to be relatively self-contained, so that the players participating each session can change with no real problems. The characters are all affiliated with the Century Club, and this loose structure provides continuity, while allowing the freedom to create nearly any sort of adventure and include whomever shows up that week to play.
The idea here is to get a regularly scheduled game going for which the specific day of the weekend, the locale, the participants, and even the GM change as we go, depending on who can make it that week.
As of Sunday, we’ve got seven characters mostly made up, but WE NEED. MORE. POWER.
I’ll be sending out another message today, organizing a “There’s still time to SAVE THE WORLD!” get together for this weekend. The more players we have, the better the chance that there’s always enough people to play. 🙂

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. 🙂

*Gulp*

So a couple weeks ago, Alexander the Hoax (long story) talked me into going to the Forge Midwest gaming convention. That’s good.
The scheduling of games for the convention, which usually numbers about fifty people, is REALLY informal. Totally. There’s a thread on the Forge forum where people say what they want to play, and what they want to GM, and a list of the time slots, and the con organizer (wisely) just lets everyone find similarly interested folks and sort out what they’re playing and who they’re playing with, in the thread.
So I post to the thread and list off all those neat games that I have that I haven’t had a chance to play yet, and then I list a couple of the games I think I’d be willing to GM — Sorcerer, Mountain WItch, Mortal Coil, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Shadow of Yesterday.
The next guy who posts says he’d be willing to run Agon (yay!) and would be really interested in a Shadow of Yesterday game.
Okay… I wasn’t expecting that, as it was basically an afterthought on my list, but cool. I mean… yeah, it’s cool. I’ve never REALLY had a group fire on all cylinders with that system, yet (largely because we can’t seem to SCHEDULE GAME SESSIONS), but I’m sure it’ll come together, and hey, that’s just one guy? Maybe no one else will be interested in that.
The next guy posts that he’d like to play TSoY.
Then there’s a few other posts…
Then another guy says he’d like to play TSoY…
Okay.
So I jump on the thread and say “Hey, this is cool, we’ve got three people interested in Shadow of Yesterday. Awesome. What time slot? Also, I’ll take one, maybe two more interested people — any takers?”
The very next post says “Doyce, I’d like to play in that TSOY game with you guys.”
The post author? Clinton R. Nixon.
The guy that WROTE THE GAME.

I’m not panicking. I’m not. I swear.

Continue reading “*Gulp*”