Captain America

Marvel’s Civil War storyline (which directly addresses things like 9/11 and the Patriot Act) makes a pretty bold move. (Huge spoilers if you haven’t been keeping up with the story, but plan to read it later.)
I found the article pretty interesting for a lot of reasons: it talks about the way a story for a supers character can develop, why certain things sort of *need* to happen, and it involves one of my personal favorite characters in comics (along with Wolverine and Spidey).

Steampunk!

Related to that last post: steampunk magazine – putting the punk back into steampunk

Before the age of homogenization and micro-machinery, before the tyrannous efficiency of internal combustion and the domestication of electricity, lived beautiful, monstrous machines that lived and breathed and exploded unexpectedly at inconvenient moments. It was a time where art and craft were united, where unique wonders were invented and forgotten, and punks roamed the streets, living in squats and fighting against despotic governance through wit, will and wile.
Even if we had to make it all up.

Also Steampunk Rayguns!

A little of this and a little of that.

Linear vs. Gestalt vs. Emergent Play
Very interesting post from Brand. One of the reason I really like the “Gestalt” kind of game (as he defines it) is because of the players I know — assuming you’re all setting out to tell a story (granted, not always the case) — what better way to harness the creative power of so many cool people than a game where everyone has the right and ability to influence the setting and story?
Interesting stuff.

Wouldn’t it be Nice

Okay, I haven’t done a lot (read: any) gaming of pretty much any kind in the last few weeks, due to a couple important writing deadlines, so instead I’ll tell you what I’m pining for.
WoW. Since starting up the Blood and Thunder guild on Farstriders server with Grezzk as a way to group up all the characters being run by myself and the NYC guys, I haven’t been able to do very much play, due to the deadlines I already mentioned. This means this has been the first week where Grezzk hasn’t dinged at least two levels since I started playing. Ditto Kayti the paladin, who got a cool new axe that’s gathering dust.
Mountain Witch. All posting for that game is on hold until I’m done, so it’s languished a bit — I’d like to wrap that game up with one or two ‘normal’ gaming sessions, using a text chat tool. I think that would let us wrap things up nicely.
Shadow of Yesterday: Petrana — I see a lot of good stuff for that game, potentially. Scheduling problems keep pushing our second ‘real’ sessions further and further out, however.
Mortal Coil — my brain keeps coming back to running a Mortal Coil game — something about the dynamics of that diceless system… it just calls to me.
Primetime Adventures — this just seems like something where, once we play it, we’ll slap our foreheads and say “why did we wait so LONG?”
And for come nice old-school tactical battle crunch… I want to play some AGON.
So… there. Wistful longing for now… and gaming later! (I hope.)

“It’s a Seeeeecret!”

The Durham 3 talk about Secrets in Gaming — very specifically, in the first couple minutes they talk about secrets in Shadow of Yesterday, which makes it REALLY relevant for the players in the Petrana game. To whit: if you have a ‘big secret thing’ that you’re character’s all about, and you don’t tell anyone about it, there’s no way to get awarded for it by the game system, which is how ‘big things my character is all about’ are measured.

Just in general, though, I think it’s an excellent discussion of how to HAVE secrets as character, NOT have them as players, and still ENJOYING them in the game.

Generally, as a ‘nothing up my sleeve’ player/GM, I like this approach a lot, I support it — I like having that kind of open discussion and open work on character Secrets — we’re using that level of openess in The Mountain Witch, to an extent, and I think it helps everyone socket into the game. Also, discusses GM-secrets and how to approach that.
It’s just a good podcast. Recommended.

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚
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.

Week in review.

In brief:
No face to face gaming.
No CoH.
A little progress on Mountain Witch, but I’m still working to get the momentum back up to the pre-holiday level, but for myself and the players.
Did some WoW stuff with Grezzk (who’s now level 30 and was ‘halfway’ for about three days… until the new expansion came out and made the ‘halfway’ point level 35.) Ran Blackfathoms Deep with him and the guys from NYC, using Ventrilo, which was really really cool — sped things up tremendously, allowed for quite complex tactics, and really eased the delivery of good smack talk.
Also played some on Kayti the dwarven paladin. She’s level 26 now and heading into the same zones as Grezzk, but from the Alliance side of things — it’s really impressive how much the contested areas of the world really FEEL contested — I’m told that on a true PvP server the areas I’m in now with both these characters are effectively non-stop killing fields… feels plenty dangerous to me anyway.
Anyway, The Burning Crusade expansion came out today, so I took all my characters and moved them to Inns and/or major towns so that they will accumulate Double XP time for being well rested, so that when I get back on they’ll get all ‘caught up’ to where they will be.
Subject change: that double-xp system for logging your guy out in ‘safe’ areas is just genius. To put it in CoH terms — if you log out in your Supergroup Base — assuming that was possible — and each chunk of time your there, online or offline, you’ve got X amount of ‘combat’ xp that will double when you get back on. Instead of ‘double xp weekends’ when you feel like you HAVE to log on, you can take a week off to get other stuff done, knowing that when you DO get back on, you’ll ‘catch up’ super fast because you’re xp will be doubled — that means you’re leveling faster, per hour spent playing, getting more quality out of your play time, and DON’T feel compelled to be on every single minute.
It’s so smart — Blizzard gets paid the same amount of money whether I’m on every single day or two days a week, so why not give me (almost) the same amount of leveling progression, either way, provided that my character was resting up somewhere safe between adventures? Contrast that with “It’s a double XP weekend… On Valentines!” and I think there’s a clear marketing winner there for people with grownup stuff to do.
ANYWAY: I’ve got two major and one minor writing project that I either MUST or really want to get done by the end of this month, and since the WoW servers will be getting hammered for a week or two thanks to the Burning Crusade, with level 60’s trying to get to 70 and a slew of brand new characters of the two new races (available via an expansion pack that I’m not getting right away), I’m taking a break and writing writing writing.
… and reading Odd Thomas. *Creepy* book.

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. πŸ™‚ 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.

Once more, with feeling

City of Heroes Official Forums: Winter Event returns.

A cold front on the horizon brings back winter to the streets of Paragon and outlying Rogue Isles! On Monday the 8th of January, the Winter Event returns! Cold weather is expected to last through the week, ending on Monday the 15th.
So put on your scarves and gloves back on! Old Father Time will be back with presents galore, and there’s plenty of opportunity to collect the winter badges you might have missed!

Here’s your chance to get badges for the last couple of your toons that might have missed it (or given it a mistaken pass).

*crickets*

With the holidays just winding down, there hasn’t been much gaming going on around the Casa, but I’ll mention what there has, and speculate about what’s coming up.
Current — and mostly MMOs
Kate brought her lappy with her on this trip to get some work done, and with the blizzard confining us for a couple days, we did do quite a bit of CoH playing — probably about 10 hours, all told. Generally, this all had to do with the Christmas event. I got most of the badges and powers on Hangtime (and Hang-time, with the Deepfreeze Debutante) and Aeric (my Ice/Storm controller, teamed up with Kate’s Sophie), who even got the Sekrit Fifth Badge and also dinged level 14 and got proper Flight (the only problem I’ve had with him is a 4 for 4 failure rate on Safegaurd Missions with him — the only toon I’ve tried them with so far). Hype and Pummelcite ran the winter missions enough to get the two “temp” powers (both of which have such a long duration on them they’re effectively permanent), which was actually a lot of fun. Pummelcite is fun to team up with Noelle, but Hype and Noelle are (and always have been) really fun and just plain EASY to team together. So many Hold Powers. πŸ™‚ Pummelcite hit level 34 at some point in there, and actually got pretty far along the way to 35, thanks to running a couple of Noelle’s missions after we got all our wintry goodness taken care of.
Mister Brightside and Lady Optimism also got mixed up in the winter hijinx (and also ran a couple regular missions) — both dinged 15.
Markov and Shadowslip did the bare minimum of winter missions necessary for the powers, then switched to regular missions and dinged Shadowslip to 28.
During the weekend I tried to solo the winter mission with Strategist, Damosel Distress, Dolmen, and a couple others — absolutely no luck, and only Damosel and Dolmen really came close to having a chance. Only Aeric actually soloed the missions successfully (and several times over) — he was the first guy I tried to do it with, early on, and it left me really surprised at the survivability of that character in certain situations that killed lots of other toons.
Kate also did some solo work with Deepfreeze Debutante and Shadowslip, but I honestly couldn’t tell if she was running missions or collecting as many Christmas Presents as possible — she seemed to be having fun regardless. While she was doing that, I spent some time on Kirin Tor WoW server, mostly playing my dwarven paladin Kayti, though I did team up with the NYC group, playing my orcish hunter Grezzk — nice to team up with folks I knew.
The Mountain Witch Play-by-Forum game was on a bit of hold during the holidays, but we’re getting started up again today. Good stuff — lots of fun.
Starting Back Up
Dogs in the Vineyard Game, running regularly, with Dave, Margie, Randy, and Jackie. There’s at least a few more towns worth of play there.
The TSoY-based “Italiante Steampunk” game with Dave, Margie, and Randy — we’ve done chargen, now it’s time to start PLAYING.
Upcoming
A Dictionary of Mu game with participants undecided.
Alternately, I’m really interested in running or playing in Primetime Adventures, Agon, and/or Mortal Coil.
Looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.

Silence!

Geek Omerta: talk about gaming like it’s a normal pass time like golfing or quilting? Perish the thought! Gush effusively with other geeks? Of course!
Don’t even bother debating whether or not that’s what 98% of most gamers do. The questions are: “Why is that?” and “How does one get around it and put gaming in that ‘normal hobby’ category?” How do you frame it to the straights so you don’t some bugfuck or fringe-culty?

Tis a day of podcastiness

Son of Kryos Podcast #27: Given everyone screen time (an ongoing concern of mine). Playing RPGs online, such as over IM, E-mail, and Forums (something I’m doing right now with Mountain Witch). Plus what to do when you pick up a game that you’ve not played in a long time (something that comes up alllllll the time). There’s just not anything in there that isn’t useful or relevant to me right now.

Play the GM

Have you never GM’d? Have you GM’d only a little? Have you just be kinda curious about GMing and, along those lines, GMing indie hippy games like Primetime Adventures or The Mountain Witch?
Are you a vet GM with lots of ‘trad’ experience, looking to spread the authority of the GM around a little bit, or just get a little more ‘play’ time?
Read this thread: Story Games for Everybody – Calling all Non-GM’s — it’s a good poll of folks who don’t usually GM who have tried out the reins with indie/hippy games of various kinds, what they’ve found they’ve liked and don’t like. Good, good stuff.

World Design Questions

Setting Design Jumpstart, from Tony L-B, who take Aria: Worlds and does it in a much more useable format.
I’m going to list the questions he suggested you answer about a nascent Game Setting down below the cut, but I think what I might do with it first is use it on the “Petrana” setting that I’m using for the Shadow of Yesterday Steampunk game we’re starting in January… maybe as a collaborative Wiki effort with me and the players.
In any case, it’s a very useful tool for world building.

Continue reading “World Design Questions”