Posted in General Writing, GM Prep, Masks

X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2

This is a continuation of Issue 2 of my Masks: A New Generation Game Check out Issue 1 and Part 1 of Issue 2 if you have missed them.

When we last left the group they were hanging out of the rooftop having lunch, and Star Chyld was failing to convince the group he was seeing an evil version of Mobius around.   That was until Marc Hopper was thrown through a window below them followed closely by Fabien storming out the door.

Fabian is clearly pissed at him and the words he uses conveys that.  The “Heroes” stand and watch.  So Marc creates a bunch of illusions of himself and Fabian gets really angry and starts shooting lighting and attacking each one. (Note to Marvel fans.  Since I accidentally created a drug that replicates the powers of Fabian Cortez I decided I had to change his powers. Sorry)  Mobius runs to get a teacher while the rest of the party watches from above.  However once Fabian strikes the real Marc Hopper knocking him into a tree and unconscious, the party jumps into action, quickly detaining the furious Fabian.

I decided it was time for the facility to get involved so as they take Marc and Fabien to the infirmary an assembly is called.  Cythor decided to split off from the team while sitting down he received a text message from his father “outside 1 hour”.  While everyone is getting settled Slip-Stream slips in and sits next to Mobius.  This I did mainly to stir the pot and see what happens.  Slip-Stream talked about the fight and how she had already put in a request to be removed from Fabian’s team because he is a jerk.  Mobius sexual preference didn’t come up (you have to let some plot-lines percolate) but the players were sure waiting for the shoe to drop. Continue reading “X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2”

Posted in Fan Friday, General Writing

Fan Friday: Tales from the Loop – First Impressions

 

Tales of the loop is an RPG from Miodiphious and the Free League.  It is set in the 80’s that wasn’t and uses the Mutant Year Zero ruleset as it’s framework.  Being someone that has quite enjoyed the Mutant Year Zero Rules, and movies like the Goonies and the show Stranger Things, which the game tries to evoke the wonder and magic of, I quickly backed this project when it showed up on Kickstarter.  I must say I am quite surprised by the finished product and not at all disappointed.

Mutant: Year Zero’s ruleset is and interesting game where you build D6 dice pools for actions and require a 6 on a die to succeed. If you fail the first roll, you can always push yourself and roll again with potentially additional consequences added to the situation whether you succeed this second roll or not.   In Tales from the Loop, you always take a condition if you reroll, like Angry or Afraid.  This aspect reminded me of Masks: A New Generations.  There is one exception to this rule, however, and that is a mechanic called luck.  Luck is a free reroll, and how many you get per session is determined by your age. If you Ten you get 5 if you are fifteen you get 0.

Another thing I wasn’t expecting in the game is there are no combat rules, there is no initiative, and your players cannot die. This may turn some people off but I found it refreshing and really fit the setting.  Your kids can still get into combat with an angry robot or a strange dinosaur, but you play kids you are not really going toe to toe with these things, instead, you basically must overcome them, like a quick descriptive skill challenge.  If you players understand that they can have a lot of fun with it.

I found in the quick session I ran it played a lot like a Powered by the Apocalypse game, which was super cool.   The game wants to make sure that you intermix the mundane life of being a kid in the 80’s with all the strange and fantastical stuff they are seeing.  So, dealing with your bully of an older brother, your parents fighting and the kid next door you’ve had a crush on since 2nd grade all play a part in the game as well.  It keeps the game grounded (while your parents might ground you when they find out you snuck into that ‘abandoned bunker’)

Character creation is quick and has a few neat world building and party connections elements thrown in.  It would help to have a few more character types for your players to choose from; as listed there are quite a few that are a stretch to see hanging out together after school. (Hick, Jock, Computer Geek…)

I grew up in the 80’s watching the 80’s adventure movies so this game really punches my nostalgia button, but I am not sure how it will play out for the younger crowd.  The rules I think would be really great for kids to learn and play and have a lot of fun, but I am would think the 80’s tech (Walkman, Arcades, large home computers) would be quite foreign ideas so the tone would be quite different.

Overall though, I think Tales from the Loop is going to be one of my new “Go-To” Games, also a game that I’ll probably use to introduce a few people to the great world of Role-playing.

Posted in Fan Friday, General Writing

Fan Friday – LARPs – A Beanduck Web Series

 

A couple of years ago, a saw a video on Geek and Sundry’s YouTube page about a web series called LARPs.  I personally was not a LARPer; I knew people in the Camarilla ( a White Wolf World of Darkness LARP group) in college, and I knew of the existence of boffer LARP, but LARPing wasn’t something that interested me.  However, something about this video caught my eye.  The production quality was top notch, these people obviously studied filmmaking, the acting was nothing to sneeze at either.   I quickly looked up the show and binge watched the entire first Season.  Then I went and helped Crowdfund the Second.

LARPs is a show that follows a group of gamer friends as they maneuver through life, while the characters they play brave a fantasy realm.  The writing and direction are quite good.  Each cast member is given their own moments throughout the series, and the show expertly weaves between the in-game drama, as well as the real-life drama.

From the tranquil forest opening of Episode 0 to the Epic Finale of Season 2, I can say I enjoyed every frame.  If you missed this series when it first came out, or overlooked it because you weren’t into LARPing, I highly recommend you give this short series a moment of your time.   You won’t regret it. LARPS is one of the best short form series on the internet.

 

While writing this article I discovered Beanduck now has their own YouTube Channel, and promises more original short film content. I can’t wait to see what they have in store.  Check them out here: Beanduck Productions

 

Posted in General Writing

State of the Blog

Hello, Everyone… if there is anyone out there. 🙂

I created this blog a while back to write about my life as it pertains to gaming.  I quickly established my Set Pieces and planned a lot of other things that life got in the way of.  You see I sort of started my blog prematurely.  I bought a house in Late November so the last few months have been all about packing, moving and unpacking, all while going to work, raising a 5-year-old and trying my best to keep up with my wife’s honey-do list.   Seriously I think I put together about dozen pieces of furniture. (6 shelves 4 curio cabinets, 2 storage units and a teepee… ok the last one was easy) We had Christmas, My Son’s Birthday, and we now have an exchange student from the Czech Republic.

It’s been a busy few months.  I have also done a lot of gaming.  It is interesting because a year ago I was running 2 games and playing in none.   Now I am playing in 4 games and running none.  Quite a change for me.  (I’ll talk more about them in future posts)

So, I wanted to write this piece to talk about my plans for this blog.  Set Pieces will still be a thing.  Hopefully still on Weds and on a more regular basis.   They are long pieces and take quite a bit of time so I might have to schedule them for every other week or so.

I still want to do adventure write-ups.  We just had Session 4 of Gods of the Fall so I am a few sessions behind but plan on catching up.  My Android Cypher game ran into a few problems that made it hard to write about.  A player left the game and the plot got complicated.  I misplaced my notes during the move so I couldn’t continue the write-ups for some time.  After that, well, we found new players but have decided to change to a different game.  So sadly, I’ll have no more write-ups from the world of Android.

I’ve been working on a couple ideas for making a Dark Souls-like Cypher game, that includes adapting some of the rules for a solo campaign (1 GM 1 PC).   I haven’t started playtesting yet, but I might put some of that material on here.

I’ve also been experiencing quite a bit of gaming awesomeness.  Whether it’s some cool Actual Play Podcast I’ve been listing to at work, or some fun Board games I’ve been playing at home, I plan on writing a bit more about things I find that I think are cool.

Another thing I want to start putting on here is some fiction.  I had thought about doing NaNoWriMo and posting the stuff up here but I was in the middle of packing up and moving in Nov, so I didn’t have the time.

I don’t want to commit to a schedule for this blog because, A. I don’t want to disappoint people when I inevitably can’t stick to it, and B. adding a schedule makes it feel like an obligation to me so it ends up being less fun.   But I will commit to having more post more often.

 

Thanks, everyone for bearing with me.  I hope you enjoy what I will put out in the future

Posted in General Writing

Set Piece: Revelry

Introduction:

It’s the time of year that we gather with our friends and family and have great merriment.   Do your characters’ ever do that in a game?  Beat the Big Bad and save the town, the kingdom, the planet, the galaxy.  Do they stop and have a celebration, a party, get medals?(ala a New Hope)  Sure some of these events mark the end of a campaign, and rightly so, but other smaller victories should be rewarded, and offer the chance for the PCs to cut loose and develop.

Scene:

It’s time for a party.  Maybe it’s a holiday in your campaign, or the PCs are being honored or rewarded.  This should be more of a fluff session then an action scene, but it should also be ripe with roleplaying.  It also can be the setup for more things to come. A scene like this can end an act of your campaign or start a new one.

Mood:

Joyous.  It is time for celebration.   It is ok to have a few moments of somberness and reflection.  Most victories come with some loss or some collateral damage, this shouldn’t be forgotten like a cheesy 80’s action film, but don’t let reflection bring the whole session down…  Unless of course it is driven by the PCs and not the NPCs.  Lighten things up a bit, have people having a good time. Continue reading “Set Piece: Revelry”

Moving Woes

Hey, everyone.  I know this is two weeks in a row that we are without a Set Piece.. and well what the hell happened to the Session Recaps?  Well, life happened.  My wife and I closed on a house last Friday, and we have been desperately packing and moving for the last few weeks.   This, of course, has put a damper on my ability to write blog posts.

This should be the last week of this, though.  I will have Set Piece next week.  I am also about halfway through with writing my character’s first session memoir from a Gods of the Fall campaign.  Android Cypher barrels on too.  I have quite a few session to write up.  Things have gotten crazy.  I plan to do a lot more posts in the near future once things get settled in the house.

I also want to get some general fiction up on here as well.  I had toiled with the idea of doing NANOWRIMO on the blog but I knew the move would make that impossible. I might still start a serialized fiction piece real soon.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Posted in General Writing, Set Piece

Set Piece: The Collapse

Zetov let out a primal roar as he swung his battle-axe at the chest of the Elder Lich, the axe head arced with lightning as it connected with the phylactery the Undead Lord wore brazenly around its neck.  The Gem shattered and the axe buried itself into the ribcage of the emaciating being. 

The Lich let out one last curse as it crumpled to the ground, the magic seeping from its bones.

“We did it!” Tholonious cheered as he put the arrow he had notched back in his quiver.  “How’s Tamra?”

“I’m… ok.” Tamra said with some effort as she gathered her spellbook off the floor and what components she could find that got scattered. She stumbled once more as the ground started to rumble.  “It’s not over…”

“Yes, it is.” Said Zetov, “he’s dead.  Truly dead this time.”   The ground shook once more and a few rocks fell from the ceiling.

“Tholo, help me,” Tamra ordered with concern. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Why? What’s happening.” Tholonious asked as he made his way over to the injured mage.

“The Lich’s magic was all that was holding this place together.  With him gone this whole temple is coming down.”

A large CRACK came from above them.

“But what about the Lich’s Treasure? We have to find it.” Zetov insisted.  Just then a rock from the ceiling slammed into the statue above the alter.  Zetov had to dive out of the way to avoid the massive rocks.

The floor under Tamra started to slip away. Tholonious quickly grabbed the mage and  they started running towards the exit.  “You can have the treasure or your life Zetov, but We’re leaving.” The elf replied.

(Image from Raiders of the Lost Arc ©1981 Paramount Pictures)

Scene

The players are in a mine, temple, burning inn, castle, cave, underground facility, space station… whatever, when something causes it to no longer be structurally sound.  It is coming down on the players and it is time for them to run.

Mood

Chaotic retreat is the name of the game.  Escape should not be straight forward there should be many many obstacles in the player’s path.

Setting future obstacles up ahead of time will pay dividends at the table. You know the place is going to collapse, so as the characters make their way in, describe large pieces of furniture, huge ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, statues, whatever you can think of that fits your setting.  On the way in the players will appreciate your attention to detail, then understand when that details become hazards as they make their escape. As they flee keep your description’s fast pace as you move quickly from one player to the next.

Don’t let “I run..” be an action the player can make. They need to be “I leap over the fallen statue” or “I try my best to prop the door for the others”

Threats

The environment is the biggest threat.  The oxygen seeping out of a hole in the hull, the boulders falling from the ceiling, the traps(or trap parts) the players bypassed on the way in, the big crevasse on the floor widening every turn, whatever fits your setting.  Make a short list of environmental problems the collapse can cause before you begin, so you can pull them out with a quickness to challenge your players.

Want an added threat?  What if this collapse happens when the players were confronting a rival group.  Maybe after one side  grabbed a McGuffin.  Having antagonistic NPC also in the mix makes for a very memorable scene.  (remember the antagonist want to escape as well though.. Make sure the players see them struggling to survive the environment along side them, not just attacking the PCs)

Mechanics

Skill checks rule the day in a scene like this.  There is many ways to run a scene like this.  You can set it up like an old school skill challenge (Ex.  Players need 3 successes before 2 failures)  Or you can go by a round timer (ceiling is going to collapse completely in 8 rounds, it takes 5 rounds of movement to get to the exit, failures in round means no or half movement).  Or the third options is going full narrative and have the thing collapse completely when it’s dramatically appropriate.

Failure to escape doesn’t have to mean you die.  You take damage, sure, knocked unconscious, most likely, but you could just find yourself buried in a whole lot of rubble trapped until the rest of the party digs you out.   Or maybe you stumbled upon a hidden passage.

Tips

This kind of scene can take 15 minutes to run or 45+ it really depends on the type of thing that is collapsing.  Try your best, however, to keep it brief.  It should be a desperate escape, not a long drawn out affair.  In that regard try not to make the rounds seem like combat rounds.  Your players aren’t rolling dice every turn, only when something gets in their way and makes it a challenge to progress further.  If you run the scenario like combat rounds it can wear out its novelty before the players have reached the exit forcing you to ‘fudge’ final run and collapse, making things a tad anti-climatic.

Let the players describe their actions. “I slide across the floor through the legs of the oversized sofa.” So that you don’t have to think up all the cool things, let them be descriptive.  If your players are inclined even ask them “What do you see up ahead that blocks your path?”  While they are describing the obstacle they are also thinking a cool way to get past it, which can make the player feel more heroic.   To keep other players engaged you can ask them “What difficulty does Jake encounter next?” allowing them to make it harder for each other.  This type of narrative involvement doesn’t work for all groups.  Try it, but don’t force it if it falls flat.

The PC will have to think fast, make your players do so as well.  Demand snappy answers.  If the player can’t think of something quickly say “you stumble on the shifting ground” and move on to the next player.  Go back to the stumbling player after the other players have gone.  (some players don’t like this kind of pressure or really perform poorly under stress… if you see this happening offer suggestions on what they can do, allow other players to as well, do not, however, decide for them or allow another player to… It’s their character)

The “BBEG dies and now you have to run”, and “you grabbed the McGuffin and now the place is collapsing” are pretty standard tropes, use this sparingly only once per campaign.  However, there are many different reasons why something the players are in is collapsing so you can use this few times.  “The Keep is on fire and collapsing around you” feels a lot different to “the temple is falling apart as it falls back into the sea”  So while different scenes, you can run them the same way.

If you are worried about being railroady, set a parameter on the collapse. “If the players do this ____ it will cause the place to collapse”  Make that ‘thing’ something that is ‘likely’ to happen but not mission critical or a definite. If you want  maybe put in a hard roll for the players to “spot” the trap before they spring it.