morsla: (mantis04)
Most of these thoughts end up locked away in Evernote these days, but I thought I'd put this one out in semi-public. It helps to keep me accountable, and if it turns out to be a terrible idea I can point to major sleep deprivation clouding my judgement. Today isn't a great day for being able to string coherent words or thoughts together.

I want to run a short RPG set in the time before your typical Changeling story would take place. It's a story following some of the Lost through the hedge and into Arcadia, where they find themselves part of a world of unbridled madness; continually shaped and reshaped by the capricious entities that have carved out realms to suit their every desire. Maybe some of them will find their way back, though that's a story for another day. Most will fight against the changing world for a while, then gradually embrace the new powers it gives them. Some will embrace it too closely, losing the path that might one day lead them back home again. It's a story about imagination and transcending the mundane, and about the darker things that lie within all good fairy tales.

I think that the perfect rules-light system to handle this type of story is Don't Rest Your Head, with one small tweak. Discipline is still what lets the characters hold themselves together; Madness remains a source of dangerous, easy power if they want to risk delving into it. I'm renaming the iconic Exhaustion concept (a cumulative boost in power the longer you force yourself to remain awake, destined to ultimately crash you when you use it too much) for Belief. It works exactly the same way, but represents how much the characters begin to accept the weird world they find themselves in. To survive in this new realm you'll need to believe at least a few impossible things before breakfast. Believe too many though, and you might never make it back home - or if you do, you'll be so changed by your time away that you never fit back into the world you left.

DRYH is a simple but elegant narrative system that focuses on the stories of the characters, rather than crunchy rules about how to resolve all the minutiae. It takes all of five minutes to learn, helping to avoid the yet-another-game overload for a group that already plays a lot of different games. Most importantly, it does exactly what I want it to: taking characters away from humdrum reality and dropping them down a rabbit hole into a place where dreams can literally shape the world.

On a related note, Don't Rest Your Head is especially relevant after a small person has screamed in your face until 4AM. I am waiting for my insomniac superpowers to kick in at any moment.
morsla: (cthonian elephant)
Last night was [livejournal.com profile] miss_rynn's Halloween Special game - one of my favourite traditions of the year, as it involves good food (including butterscotch-and-black-pepper Cthulhu Cookies), good company and a Call of Cthulhu game full of good old-fashioned New Orleans voodoo zombies. I'm still so full I can hardly move, and I don't think any of the characters technically survived to see the end of the game - so the night was a resounding success.

In other game news, the final Game/Play Late Night Boardgames evening is happening at NGV Studio this Thursday night. If you think that playing boardgames with a bunch of friends (and friendly strangers...) at Fed Square sounds like fun, come along - [livejournal.com profile] hespa and [livejournal.com profile] lena_supercat both mentioned that they were planning to be there. [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I went a couple of weeks ago, and got to try out a bunch of games that we haven't played before. It's on from 6pm - 10pm in NGV Studio @ Fed Square. Anyone interested in coming along?
morsla: (lookin)
As often happens when surrounded by work, I've been thinking about games.

[livejournal.com profile] jod999 organised a group to talk about games - kind of like a book club, but talking about computer games instead. I enjoyed the first meeting this week, using Osmos as a starting point - I bought a copy last week, and [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I have been playing the hell out of it on the iPad. It works really well on a touch screen, even if I'm still to master any of the orbital levels. As with most computer games, [livejournal.com profile] aeliel is much better at it than I am.

I've also found myself trying to be as minimalist as possible for ages after playing it. Do I click on this thing in the web browser? No, just wait until the page you were looking for drifts into view. It's hard to shake out of that kind of slow, ambient mood.

Back in 2001, Ron Edwards wrote an essay on "GNS" for The Forge. It broke gaming down into three main categories - Gamism, Narrativism and Simulationism. I'm sure there are other ways of breaking down the genres, but it's the one that has stuck with me over the years..

"Gamey" games can be great, but I'm not very interested in them as roleplaying games. I love games that are challenging to learn, master and win - but that is why I play miniatures systems like Warmachine. Roleplaying game mechanics are peripheral to the story for me: I enjoy them when they are invisible, and when they don't get in the way of story-driven decisions.

As you can probably tell, narrative games are the reason I like roleplaying. If I'm playing an RPG, I'm there for the story. Not just the story being told by the person running the game - if I wanted a static story, I'd read a novel. I want to see how it evolves once there are living characters in that world. I've happily played in games with no rules or system at all, but I also like games that are designed to encourage the creation of a story.

Simulation-style games bore me to tears. I couldn't care less how accurate or realistic a system is, as long as it doesn't break my suspension of disbelief while I'm playing. It's partly a streamlining thing: I'm yet to see something elegant that captures all the detail a simulation wants to cover, as the default style appears to be pages of bloated, over-complex rules. I'll pass on these ones.

Years later, some people on RPG.net coined a tongue-in-cheek movement of their own: Cheetoism. "We game for the snacks. And also the dice. But mostly, just to hang out with friends and tell tall stories." I think that really sums up the thing I most enjoy about all the time spent with [livejournal.com profile] miss_rynn, [livejournal.com profile] bishi_wannabe, [livejournal.com profile] mousebane, [livejournal.com profile] aeliel, [livejournal.com profile] umbra_mentis and Lon over the years. There have been lots of games, using lots of different systems. But ultimately it's been an excellent excuse to spend time with friends, eat more than we really ought to, and tell stories.
morsla: (troll)
This is the start of a character idea for [livejournal.com profile] miss_rynn's Changeling: The Lost game. I've cheated a little, by adapting a character concept that only saw one session of play in a much older Changeling game.

Alistair Cowl's childhood was marked by strict expectations and solemn, disappointed reproach when those expectations were not met. His parents were brilliant doctors - one a cardiac surgeon, the other an optometrist. Long before having children, they had mapped out careers for each of their offspring. After his brother and sister had entered medical school, it was assumed that Alistair would soon follow suit to qualify as a dentist.

But Alistair lacked the drive that had spurred his siblings to greatness. His grades were never good enough, and the course offer never arrived. On a special appeal from his father, Alistair was granted an interview with the university panel: one final chance to convince them that he could meet his parents expectations. True to form, he flunked it.

Sitting on the university lawn, wondering how to explain this latest failure to his family, he saw a tiny, wizened figure pulling a cart across the lawn. The man stood scarcely taller than a blade of grass, and strained against the weight of his cart. Alistair remembered stories about the Fair Folk - little leprechauns, able to grant wishes - and smiled, thinking that he had finally discovered a solution to his problems. He trapped the little man under a bottle cap, and demanded help: he would become a talented dentist, successful in his practice, and his family would be proud of their son. From beneath the bottle cap, the man spoke: "I accept your contract." Alistair freed the tiny creature, and all went dark.

When his vision returned, Alistair found himself in Arcadia - servant to the Merchant of Ivory. At normal size, his keeper was horrifying... hunched and twisted; scowling face nestled among garlands of human teeth. At first, Alistair simply pulled the Merchant's cart as they travelled the land, buying and selling slave-children for the nobility. Later, Alistair was given a more gruesome task: drawing the valuable baby teeth from the children. When their teeth grew back, the children were sold on as "undamaged" specimens - though the merchant's ivory stood as tangible reminder of their terrified captivity.

For one season each year, they sheltered in a court where the Merchant had some influence. Here, Alistair stole away from his keeper when he could, in order to speak with others who had been kidnapped. Each year, some of the court's changelings had vanished, and he grew more hopeful of escaping Arcadia - until finally he had an opportunity to break the chain that tied him to the Merchant's wagon, and flee.

Returning to the mortal world, Alistair tried to visit his family. But several years had passed, and the fetch left in his place had grown to be the ideal son... studious and successful where Alistair was not, and the very image of his parent's dreams. They would not believe that the wild-eyed stranger was their true son, and called the police when he tried to force his way into their home.

Forced to begin a new life, he has fallen back on the thing he has come to know best: teeth. Unregistered and lacking formal qualifications, he can rarely practice in one location for long. But the parents of his young patients find a grudging respect for his unorthodox methods - as scared as the appointments make them, the children become fastidious about their health lest they earn another trip to see Mister Cowl.

And if, sometimes, he might be a little too enthusiastic at pulling those teeth... at least those children will be a little less attractive to creatures like the Merchant, and a little less likely to meet the same fate that he did...

Alistair seeks some kind of closure on his old family life - even if that is simply accepting that they are no longer a family for him. He is a reasonably skilled medic, and strong as an ox from his ordeal in Arcadia; stubborn and loyal as a bulldog, and prepared to lend brutal and violent support to aid his new friends.

Mister Cowl is as close to an old-changeling Redcap as I can make him: an Ogre from the Gristlegrinder kith, with leathery skin and blunt, grinding teeth that can devour just about anything (via the Iron Stomach merit). His magic comes from the contracts of Fleeting Autumn (inspiring fear) and Stone (battering aside obstacles and brawling with a terrible rage).
morsla: (mantis04)
[livejournal.com profile] qwade ran an old-school Worlds of Darkness game last weekend - in which a group of Mages, Werewolves and one very lost Kuei-Jin ran around trying (with, er, 'limited success') to prevent the western suburbs of Melbourne from being torn to shreds by escaped laboratory creations. It was a good chance to get out of the house and see people. I was also amused by the way an "old fashioned" pen and paper RPG works when almost everyone at the table has a tablet or smartphone... text search and PDF rules reduces all that time spent looking for rules, and you can also conjure up maps and aerial photos on a whim.

[livejournal.com profile] miss_rynn mentioned Changeling on Tuesday night, when we were talking about games that we've loved (or hated) in the past. I bought a copy of Changeling: The Lost today, and had a look through it on my lunchbreak. I haven't looked at any of the newer Worlds of Darkness games yet, as we've been playing other systems (Exalted, Weapons of the Gods, D&D) since it was released. I'm impressed with the breadth of the game, from my first glance at it.

The game is a lot sleeker than it used to be. I loved the old Changeling game, but it had some terrible flaws. Mechanically, a lot of it really didn't work alongside anything else in the setting. The character types felt fairly restrictive straight from the main book, and only became more interesting as new books were published. The new game takes a much older look at the Changeling story: characters that have been spirited away into other realms, and changed by their time away. When they finally return to earth they discover that they are nothing like the creatures they once were, and they also find that they aren't the only ones to have made that journey.

Most importantly, every Fae archetype that I can think of can be brought to life straight away. I haven't had a single idea so far that caused me to go "oh, but I can't actually play one of those in this game." I like games that help to build on the imagination of the players, instead of restricting it.
morsla: (Default)
So, after eight years of running Arcanacon Warmachine tournaments, I have finally passed the event on to Melbourne's newest Pressgang member. That means I can actually play in next year's tournament (which will be a bit weird), but more importantly it means that I can write something new.

I miss writing and running tabletop games. [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I have started planning something for Arcanacon XXX. [livejournal.com profile] mousebane, [livejournal.com profile] miss_rynn - would either of you be interested in helping to write some material? I'd like to borrow your science-and-mythos brains...

The year is 1932. Four years ago, federal raids on the town of Innsmouth were conducted by the BOI. What they saw and did there has been locked away in classified files, and all media coverage was rigorously suppressed. For three years the town lay almost deserted. Then, as part of President Hoover's Economic Modernisation scheme, an attempt was made to reinvigorate the ship-building trade and capitalise on the town's docks and deep harbour. The town was extensively re-settled, with generous federal grants and concessions offered to industry. For a time, life returned to the town.

Six days ago, a series of grisly murders were discovered in a warehouse by the riverside. The newspapers have begun to stir people into a panic, suggesting that a mass murderer is at work in Innsmouth. Local police have grudgingly handed jurisdiction over to the United States Bureau of Investigation. Now, four members of the newly established Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory have been sent back to that sleepy town on the river mouth, for their first public test.


Yes, it's essentially CSI: Innsmouth, set at the end of the prohibition era :)

I'm looking at running it as a 4-5 character game. The fifth (optional) character will be the local police liaison; able to add some interesting local contacts to the group, but not essential to the Fed story. The Bureau had a major shuffle and re-naming earlier in 1932, with associated bureaucratic power games limiting access to information from older cases, so the group won't know very much about the town's history. That's probably a good thing - there's no saying that the same forces are involved, and it will be healthier for their sanity if they don't know too much.

I really like making props for games: maps, handouts, photos. I'd like to prepare enough photos of suspects to be able to give the players a whiteboard to build their case on...
morsla: (Dawn1)
Some time in the last couple of days, I've forgotten how to sleep. I've tried just waiting for sleep to arrive (unsurprisingly, it didn't). I've tried getting out of bed and doing some exercise to get the blood flowing (still no luck - just ended up with weary and sore muscles). Now I've started writing (or typing) until I can't focus on what I'm doing any more. It's been marginally more successful, but I'm still sitting here at 2:30am...

Last night, [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I went to see Inception at the Nova. I really enjoyed it - it's a beautifully constructed film, and manages to successfully juggle four or more simultaneous stories taking place at different speeds. A relatively small group of concepts used in their dreamscapes (subconscious projections, acceptance of the dream, the 'jump' and a dream's collapse) are used in a consistent way to build some great stories.

A few hours after seeing the film, I headed out to the couch and grabbed my laptop. By about 4am I had written my first properly fleshed out roleplaying system. It takes some of the dreamscape concepts from Inception, and adds some other elements that I wanted to play with: a player-driven mechanic for increasing the challenge in each scenario (think Grand Theft Auto's threat ratings), a cooperative-play mechanism where the group always has tangible goals to work towards, and a way to manipulate the "luck" element of the game via player skill.

It's going through the hypothetical Jye-and-Lon tests at the moment :)

Test 1: the Gamist. When treated purely as a mechanical system and pushed to its limits in order to "win" the game, does the game still require active participation in the story by all the players? Are the mechanics robust enough to support the kind of story and gaming environment I want to achieve, without needing the GM to arbitrarily rule whether things can work?

Test 2: the Narrativist. Can players choose to make purely story-driven decisions in a way that's supported by the game mechanics? Are the underlying mechanics robust enough to keep things moving towards a shared story goal, regardless of what direction the players choose to take the story in?

I'm enjoying the mental challenge of thinking through the game design at the moment, and would like to try running a few games to try it out. I've drafted up a writing plan, and will keep chipping away at it while the muse (or the insomnia) take me. If I'm still happy with it in a few months, I'd like to take it through design and layout, and develop it into something I can sell through a site like IPR.

Painting

Apr. 16th, 2010 03:15 pm
morsla: (mantis04)
I don't seem to get much time for painting my own figures these days. Tournaments are a good incentive: they guarantee that I can play a few games, and give me a deadline to finish painting things by... without the deadline, I don't seem to do anything but commission work.

I've just finished assembling four Valkyries for a commission job, and will be getting the airbrush out later on this afternoon. They are huge, and are probably the most complex plastic kit I've assembled. I'm looking forward to painting them. The airbrush takes care of all the boring part (basecoats and shading), and lets me spend more time weathering the figure: adding paint chips, rust, dust and soot to make it look less like a shiny plastic toy.

I'm playing in a Malifaux tournament on Sunday. It uses about 4-6 models per side, and has a deck of cards instead of dice. The figures are a nice mix of weird west, steampunk and Victorian horror. I have a painting diary here to keep track of what I've done, and new techniques I've experimented with.

I've only tried two games so far, but have been enjoying the game so far. The tournament will have four rounds, which means I'll know a lot more about the game by the end of it...
morsla: (lookin)
I'm not feeling so good today. Probably a combination of feeling unable to make a dint in what I'm writing for work, and post-Arc stress from the Warmachine tournament I ran.

As a whole, Arcanacon went really well - possibly as it's the first convention in several years that [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I actually got to play more than one or two games, and neither of us were ConOrgs. It makes a huge difference. Standout game for me was [livejournal.com profile] pastryproducts' time-travelling tabletop, Vicis Fenestra. In fact, we were enjoying the characters and setting so much that we almost didn't make it out of the Scientist's house, where the game began - I could happily have played that game with the same characters and players for more than one session.

I'm feeling thoroughly burned out from running or judging miniatures tournaments. I still really enjoy painting, and would like to actually play some more games this year (probably at Battle Bunker). I'm even happy to do most of the organisation needed to get Skirmish Sundays into a regular event, as I really want to play some more games with low model counts: Infinity, Alkemy, Malifaux.

However, I'm sick of dealing with tournament players. Having people haggle over scores and rules is just not something I enjoy doing. The majority of tournament-goers are great, but it's always the minority that I remember after an event.

Arc40k has now hit 200 players - beating our previous record for the largest in the country by more than 50 players. I'll do what I can to help out in the lead up to next year's event, but I would rather not be a judge again. I don't feel like I've been part of something awesome. I just feel like I've lost a chunk of my long weekend.

Warmachine is still my preferred game, but I will look into getting another person (or a games club) to take over the tournament at Arcanacon. I've run most of the events in Melbourne since the game launched in 2003, and (together with [livejournal.com profile] aeliel) have run the biggest events in the country. There are plenty of people playing the game now, and I would like a break.
morsla: (purplemantis skyline)
I've been painting up character miniatures for the players in our wednesday night game, but [livejournal.com profile] bishi_wannabe (as the GM) has missed out so far... Fortunately, I drew his name for the Kris Kringle present - and so I decided to paint up Reaper's Necromancer as the Demon Queen. She's a recurring villain in the game, and one I'm sure we'll cross paths with again in the future.

The photo (and miniature!) are very overexposed - I think all the cleavage blinded my poor camera...

http://www.purple-mantis.com.au/gallery/misc/demonqueen1a.jpg
http://www.purple-mantis.com.au/gallery/misc/demonqueen1b.jpg

I experimented a bit with colours on this one, while still trying to use red and green. It's a Christmas figure after all :)

Flesh: All the skin colours have a bit of emerald green mixed into them, which gives much more natural shadows. Any warm green should do the trick, deepening the pink flesh tones without darkening them. There's a thin glaze of purple as well, which cools the colours down a little.

Red robes: shaded with Coal Black (a dark turquoise). I usually use black (which makes a murky shade) or brown (which never really works at all...).

Green imp: shaded with the same red/turquoise mix used on the robes. Red and green make good shading tones for each other, being strong contrasts.

The armour and sword were a happy accident, basecoated with a light grey I'd been using on another model. They have one umber wash, and some thinned white paint for a highlight. The end result isn't quite as chalky as the photos make it look (particularly the back view), and I think it turned out okay.

[livejournal.com profile] miss_rynn's Christmas Special went well last night. I'm still so full of food that I can hardly move.
morsla: (troll)
Dear friend

My name is Mumbena Detthstalker the daughter of Mr. Zruga Detthstalker of Zimbabwe. It might be a surprise to you where I got your contact address but I got your contact address from the Johannesburg Chambers of role-playing and CCG's.

During the last crises against the games of Zimbabwe by the supporters of our President Robert Mugabe to claim the RPG's in our country, he ordered all the gamers to surrender their RPG's to his party members and their followers. My Father was one of the best gamerss in the country and knowing that he did not support the Presidents political ideology, the Presidents supporters invaded my fathers game and burnt down everything, killed his character and confiscated all his gold and loot.

After the death of my father's character, my mother and I decided to move out of Zimbabwe for the safety of our lives! . We took along with us the gold my father kept in the safe in my mothers house,which amounted to the sum of 7Million plat to the Republic of South Africa.where we now seek political asylum. The money has been tranfered to a Orc cave overseas. My Mother and I have decided to contact any reliable overseas gamers or role-players who could assist us to claim this gold from the Orc caves because we as asylum seeker here in South Africa we are not allowed enter the dungeon and collect the loot.

We need you to open a non-resident dungeon campaign through which this fund will be channeled out to your nominated overseas character's account. If my preposition is considered, for assisting us to transfer this money to your country, we will offer your charcter 1million gold pieces of the total fund, which me and my family will like to invest in your campaign under your guidance and assistance. Your urgent response to my personal box will be highly appreciated.
I anxiously waiting for you reply. thank you.
Best regards,
Mumbena Detthstalker
For the family.

First spotted here
morsla: (troll)
I've been thinking about roleplaying games, and why I play them - partly motivated by a post [livejournal.com profile] sylver_spiders made a few weeks ago. I think the vast majority of you lot play games of one sort or another, and I'm always intrigued by the different things people get out of them.

I really enjoy the social aspect of gaming. It's a good excuse to get together with friends on a regular basis, be creative, and eat loads of food. The creative aspect is the biggest attraction though - there are other reasons to gather friends and cook vast quantities of food, but games get people bouncing ideas around and creating stories.

Second on the list, then, is the telling of stories. Last week, [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I wrapped up the third act of an Exalted game that we've been running since early last year. Along the way we saw heroes rise out of warring city-states as conflict reshaped the world. Gods meddled and clashed, alliances were forged and betrayed until the original champions passed into the legends of future generations. Only a small part of the story came from the original structure, where we gave agendas and personalities to the gods, rulers and heroes of the setting. The real story happened once we turned that over to the rest of the group, and then ran along to keep up. Whether I'm running or playing in a game, I like exploring the background that other people use to breathe life into their characters.

I've begun to appreciate a well-crafted game, too - particularly as [livejournal.com profile] mousebane and [livejournal.com profile] bishi_wannabe have introduced new titles over the years. There's something satisfying about watching as a game deftly shapes a particular type of story "out of the box," without needing to add half a dozen rules to get the desired effect. I'm talking about the steadily rising tension that Dread brings to a survival horror game, Prime Time's screenplay-style scene framing, or the violent struggles for redemption that make Dust Devils so good at handling Westerns. Most of my favourite games don't have a whole lot of rules, but those rules are simple and elegant.

Last on the list would be tactical and strategic play - manoeuvring and problem solving. I love this stuff, but it's not the main reason I play these games. Miniatures games like Warmachine let me deal with tactical problems to my heart's content, so that I can spend roleplaying sessions immersing myself in the characters, the setting, and the company of the fine folks sitting around the table. And enjoying the food, of course :) I'd be a shadow of my current self if [livejournal.com profile] miss_rynn and [livejournal.com profile] umbra_mentis decided to stop baking things to bring along on Wednesday nights...
morsla: (Default)
I always seem to lose a week after travelling anywhere. GenCon Oz finished a week ago, and the last week has been full of catching up on work. I've mostly managed to dodge the post-convention cold, but [livejournal.com profile] aeliel wasn't so lucky.

I really enjoyed the trip to Brisbane. We booked a two-bedroom apartment between four people, so we had our own kitchen and a living room for after-con games. I've now become addicted to Arkham Horror after several late-night games... however I managed to resist the urge to buy my own copy at the convention, as my luggage was bulky enough without adding boardgames for the return trip.

Most of my time in the convention centre was spent running demo games at the Privateer Press booth. The con had attracted media coverage on TV, radio and in local papers, and we had a huge number of non-gamers come through to take a look. I ran roughly half my demo games for people who had played other miniatures games (Warhammer etc), and the other half for people with no miniature gaming experience at all. The stall sold ~60 copies of the Warmachine rules, all of them to new players who bought a pile of models. Not bad for a first-run convention, where the retailers were hoping to just break even.

For the last three weeks I've been frantically painting up models for the Warmachine 'Hardcore' tournament - the first official one to run outside the USA. The tournament games were very challenging - strict 7min turns, with five 56min games run back to back. I placed in the top half of the field (three wins, two losses), but I was mainly competing for the Master Craftsman (best painted) medal. After five games my brain was leaking from my ears, but I was very happy when Kel announced that I'd won the prize :)

Overall, a good trip. The convention still has plenty of areas to improve for next year, particularly relating to registration and event tickets, but the organisers seem to be doing a good job of addressing comments and feedback from the people who went. I'll certainly be going back.
morsla: (lookin)
Eclipse Phase is due out some time this year, from Catalyst Game Labs. From the primary author, Rob Boyle:
The game has a post-apocalyptic, post-singularity transhumanist setting. It’s influenced a lot by sci-fi by authors like Richard Morgan, Charlie Stross, Ken Macleod, Alistair Reynolds, Bruce Sterling, and Peter Hamilton. It’s a bit darker than Transhuman Space, and while we do try and stick close to a hard science approach, it does include things like psi and wormhole gates. It takes place primarily in the Solar system, with a few extrasolar colonies and opportunities to explore beyond via wormholes gates.

There’s an emphasis on backing up your mind and downloading into new bodies of different types (biological, synthetic, or mixed), allowing for character “save points” as well as optimizing your character’s abilities for specific missions.

More under the cut... )
I like the setting, but I'm a bit underwhelmed by the comment that "The game system is a simple d100 variant, optimized for quick resolution so people can focus on the setting more than mechanics." Sure, I love a detailed game setting, but a good system that helps to support the style of the game is also a selling point for me. If I just wanted a setting, I'd keep reading the source material.

Speaking of which, I've just downloaded a Creative Commons version of Accelerando, and I found another "how did I miss that one?" book in the shape of Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon. Once I finish my next project (and get paid) I see an Amazon order in my future...

On a different note, if you enjoyed The Atrocity Archives and have a geeky roleplaying past, you should read some of this thread on RPG.net. Sometime after GenCon, I'd like to run a short version of PROJECT LONG STAIR.
morsla: (Dawn)
I'm drinking a lot of tea lately. Not out of any craving for caffeine, but to keep my hands warm enough to paint. My knuckles (actually, most of my joints) ache in cold weather, and it's particularly frustrating when I can't articulate my fingers enough to move a paintbrush. Wrapping my hands around a mug of tea seems to help, and it also means that I'm slowly making a dint in the tea stockpile. For today, I've opened up a box of Gunpowder green tea that [livejournal.com profile] futurelegend bought years ago... I suspect that when the apocalypse comes, I'll still have plenty of tea to wait out the long winter.

Today's work is a bit odd. I'm frantically trying to finish painting a large commission for a tournament this weekend. As usual, my hands are covered in streaks of ink, paint and glue. On breaks, I'm re-painting classic Japanese watercolours in Photoshop - trying to remove characters from the foreground, to use the backdrop separately. It seems strange that I'm using the most modern techniques on the oldest bits of artwork.

[livejournal.com profile] bishi_wannabe ran the first session of his Legend of the Five Rings game last night - using the basic Rokugan setting, but ditching the rules in favour of a mixture of Blue Rose (feats and classes) and some homebrew ideas from his Last Exile convention game. It looks like it'll be fun - six samurai balancing honour and glory, while forced to obey orders from an Empress they don't trust. The mechanics seem to work well so far - success brings Glory, failure brings Honour, and cowardice brings neither. The interaction between the two systems means there's a strong incentive to learn lessons (from failed endeavours) before trying to overcome really important obstacles.
morsla: (lookin)
I'm going to put in a Tabletop blurb for Arcanacon '09, as it's been a long time since the the last one...

The theme is *punk, and the obvious subgenre to pick would be Steampunk... but I've run and played in Steampunk games pretty much constantly over the last six years. I've also been on a Shirow kick lately, so I'm looking at posthuman cyberpunk for something a bit different. I'd like to look at the blurry line between human and non-human, in a world full of augmented humans, biorobots and sapient computers. I figure I'll start by watching & re-watching a bunch of films, and take it from there.

Any writers or artists I should keep an eye on? This might finally make me get a borrowing card for the Rowden White library...

I've also been really enjoying Infinity lately. It's a skirmish-level anime themed wargame that leaves most other systems I've tried for dead. The game strongly favours teams of ten or less figures, so it neatly avoids the temptation to paint up fifty-odd models... it also has a nice system of reactive orders that all but get rid of the "I go, you go" system.

Plus it has remote-op drones, electromagnetic weapons, hackers scrambling enemy mechs, airborne deployment and thermoptic camo. It's like the writers were locked in a room full of Appleseed, Dominion Tank Police and Ghost in the Shell, and not let out until they turned the whole lot into a game. It's been out for a couple of years in Spanish, with the English translation arriving some time last year.


EDIT: Since when has a four-storey column of flame coming from the gasworks across the road been completely below the notice of the people in this neighbourhood? I just ran outside to find out what the hell was causing it, only to find parents and their toddlers calmly playing in the park next door. "Look at the pretty fire mum!"

Judging by the bored-looking people in overalls standing next to the source, I'm going to assume that this is just some sort of routine that I've missed seeing for the last three years in this house...
morsla: (vnv)
Arcanacon is over for another year, which means that I can start thinking about all the things I've put on hold for the last couple of months... first, though, it's worth taking a look back at what's happened so far.

Wednesday: Recieved an email from my co-organiser, telling me he couldn't make it down from Sydney for the weekend. With no second judge, that meant I'd be covering the Warmachine/Hordes Nationals event solo, and would also have to run the Monday event - which ruled out going to Golgotha on Sunday night. I'll get you next time, nightclub...

Thursday: [livejournal.com profile] aeliel made a display board for the Purple Mantis stock that would be on sale at the convention, while I frantically finished off a painting commission job. I printed off scorecards and player packs, and tried to make sure I was up to date on the latest rules changes. With an active community of players (over twenty thousand on the forums) and a full time rules team, the game rules are as watertight and unambiguous as any system I've ever played... as a rules judge, though, it's a hell of a lot of reading material to brush up on.

Friday: Finally finished painting the last few models. Went to Collingwood College to start setting up the Nationals venue. I was a bit worried when we were told that we'd only have a single room, but fortunately that room was easily big enough for the players and game tables - we even had a dozen couches for people to relax in after their games.

Saturday: Woke up far too early, and headed to the convention to start the tournament. We had 38 players in the end, almost half of them from interstate. [livejournal.com profile] aeliel handled the scorecards and round draws, while I ran around adjudicating the three 500-point rounds for the Nationals. The games went surprisingly smoothly, with no major disputes or arguments despite the size of the prize pool on offer. Once the official rounds wrapped up, we paused for a beer or two and prepared for the inaugural State of Origin game - contested by Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and a motley team of Tasmanians, West Australians, NSW and more Melbourne players.

South Australia convincingly won the title, winning five of their six games. I finally got a chance to play, losing to Brett's horde of trolls (one of the best painted armies at the event), and then we headed off to [livejournal.com profile] geserit's farewell party. Bon voyage Sarah!

Sunday: Things started to look bad after the first of the planned three 750-point games, when a draw on one of the top tables left us with an unchallenged winner - Damien, the only player on a perfect score of 20 points. After having several pairs of eyes going over the tournament rules, I decided that we couldn't call the event early - despite having an undefeated champion by default, there were still two rounds to go and a room full of players who wanted to keep playing them. (EDIT: the decision to keep going despite having an undefeated player was later supported by the Privateer staff. Hopefully the next generation of tournament rules will be clearer about this sort of thing!)

Damien ended up losing in the fifth round, setting up Heath as the top player. Despite that, there were six possible champions going into the final round. When the final game concluded, Heath emerged as the clear winner, with Damien and Joel taking second and third place. I got to hand out lots of prizes (from six sponsors in four different states), and then that was it for the first Australian national championship.

Monday: Metal Mayhem was a very different event from the weekend's games - the games were far more laid back, and I was far less organised. We fitted five rounds into the tournament, with Dave's Cryx/Mercenary army taking the top spot. After one of the longest award ceremonies I've ever sat through, we staggered off to the afterparty and I finally got a chance to catch up with all the roleplayers I'd missed during the weekend.

Most of the weekend is a bit of a blur, but it's a generally positive blur. I'll probably be helping for a couple of days at GenCon Oz as a painting or rules judge, but I have no plans to run an actual tournament myself until at least next January. There are now a couple of new Pressgangers in Australia, and they all seem eager to get stuck into organising things. I've been involved since 2003, and I think it's time to take a bit of a break.

The War All The Time guys sold Purple Mantis putty, sculpting tools and brushes over in the Warhammer 40k area. Sculpting tools sold very well; putty sold reasonably well. The sable brushes didn't sell well at all, which is a bit worrying - they account for about a third of the cost of my inventory, and may take all year to shift. Still, for the first "live fire" test, things went pretty well.
morsla: (Default)
The Arcanacon Charter, to be signed by all players at the Warmachine/Hordes National Open...

Arcanacon Charter

We gather on this, the 26th day of January, first month of the year marked 2008, to form a solemn brotherhood.

We swear our oath upon this new vessel, the ship dubbed Arcanacon, hosting the Australian Nationals, symbol of our undying contest. We swear to fight ably and fairly amongst each other, and against any and all threats to our safety or liberty, avowing that an enemy of one is an enemy of all.

We promise furthermore to obey the orders of our Captain first, for in the tournament his word is law. Each man shall also heed the officer or officers placed above him in turn, including the Tournament Organisers, Convention Staff, and Rules Judges, as is their due.

We avow to lend our strength and cunning against any vessel or adversary named by our Captain or his proxies, heedless of peril or the threat of the law. Aboard Arcanacon, the Captain's word is law, and we sever ourselves from the laws of the mainland. In the end may the ocean take us into her embrace, and let us leave this world remembered as true and steadfast until the bitter end.

Let no quarter be asked, and none given. May the best general win.
morsla: (Default)
I just bought a copy of Monsters and Other Childish Things, from Arc Dream publishing.

Have you ever secretly wanted to be best friends with a magical unicorn? His name would be Dewdrop, and he would talk to you with his thoughts, and he would carry you on his back away from all the bullies and parents and kids who don't get you, and you’d have such wonderful adventures!

This game is pretty much like that. Except if you drew Dewdrop on your Trapper Keeper, they would send you to the principal’s office, then to the school counselor, and then probably to a place with a name like Morning Meadows Home for Disturbed and Psychotic Youth.

Dewdrop has too many dimensions and can gouge bleeding wounds in reality with his infinitely fractal horn. His dainty hooves burn the floor, and his breath makes Mrs. Wombatson’s prize petunias wilt and shrivel. But he really is your best friend.
To quote the blurb, "It's a game about kids and the people who matter to them most - their friends, family, and loved ones. And their horrifying pet monsters."

Monsters that the grownups can't see, of course. Monsters that want to help their owners, as much as inhumanly possible. It's nice to get out of PE class, get out of a detention, or have the school bully stop taunting you. Monsters want to do nice things for their owners. Like teleporting them to Pluto when PE class is about to start, or setting fire to the school, or turning the bully inside out. They just can't understand why their owners get so upset about it.

I've been checking the game's website for a while, and PDF copies went on sale today. Now I just need time to run it, and some players. If I wasn't already running games flat out during Arcanacon, I'd bring along some textas and paper plates and run a game on the fly...

Games

Jun. 25th, 2007 10:32 pm
morsla: (troll)
I have a lot of games that need to be played... the biggest problem is always finding time to play them in, followed closely by finding people to play them with.

Sometime soon, I need to organise a one-shot Dread game through I.I. Since spruiking the game at the end of the AGM, travel and business stuff have kept me too busy to get back to it. However, I noticed that Mind Games sell cheap "no name" versions of Jenga, so I should be able to get hold of the only real prop easily enough. Now I just have to set a time and get some players. I'll be using the system to run a sci-fi survival horror story.

I've also become addicted to Lacuna Part I, despite the maddeningly cryptic information about the game online. I picked up a copy of it yesterday, and have been wanting to put it to use since I started reading. The setting uses an interesting premise: what if the 'collective unconsciousness' was real, and able to be explored? What if abberant behaviour was treatable, able to be 'removed' from within that unconscious landscape? Another game to run sooner rather than later, when I can find time. Ideally I'd like 2-3 sessions, with multiple trips inside the Blue City.

We also have a cupboard of board games that rarely see the light of day. I haven't dragged Necronomonopoly out of the cupboard for years, and I want to try playing it with the errata added since I last tried it out (the first game devolved into a mass of monsters and cultists in a few short rounds - now monsters vanish when reaching Mi-Go, so the descent into madness takes a bit longer). And there are 20+ RoboRally boards that should get used one day, too.

Maybe I should take advantage of the cold weather and start organising indoor things before everyone heads back outside again...

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