Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A World a Week, 8/22/18: Still an Egg

Here is the map that made into the photocopied issues of Egg City, nominally for Red Bat. Part of my "small press" series of games where I try to go all late 70s and early 80s with role-playing material.

So take Detroit and get surreal with a sense of a 1970s low budget movie. SO of course you get martial artists, cops, finely-dressed ladies, and vampires plus a guy who is in a bunny suit. All of whom kick ass and take names. Since this was published around Easter as well as the Easter Bunny, Jesus Christ vampire-slayer figures pretty prominently.
Unable to stop my inner gamer, I couldn't stop there. The Mayor, Yosista, might or might not be the goddess Oestara. There are otter-people as well as fighy-folk down by the harbors. And there are even neanderthals kicked out of the country to make their way in the big city.

Apologies for anyone really wanting me to present a world every week. I have a lot of settings from being a dyed in the wool fantasist since I was 11, but I tend to take months to years outlining a few pages of notes. Designing a world a week might be a fun gimmick sometime, but for now it's just a catchy title for a certain type of blog entry here.

Monday, August 13, 2018

No One Way Streets

Around day three of GenCon, at 2:14pm specifically, a return Crawlspace player asked me, "When is your Western game coming out?" I didn't have an answer besides, "We'll see." Now, a week later, someone else, via email, has asked me when the western (cowboys versus cowboys, and cowboy-approved indians, I infer, invited) is planned on coming out. While I've replied in length to that emailer, it does give me a moment to blog about in game design.

Okay, no. I am not going to be writing any games based off of movies besides Crawlspace. In my mind, it is for campy horror not a serious discussion of films and the types of them. Indeed I can explore various film genres by thinking of new game sessions say in this or that locale with a certain audience in mind, but if there's not a vampire or supernatural twist to it, I might as well be running games like Gangbusters, Bushido, or Boot Hill, or some such. Niche setting RPGs and their GMs can be some of the best roleplaying sessions ever. The commitment by the game master and the players to the atmospherics and details lead to some of most immersive one offs or campaigns.

 The more places I take my homebrew into new areas of camp, the more interesting it is to me a its writer. I also get the perfect chance to get a group of flexible players, that is looking for the event that isn't much like the one playing at the next table during conventions. Not to say never, I did do a specific campaign type with Crawlspace Gothic, but that was more a vehicle to explore specific creature rules that I had developed in public elsewhere (in-play and online) while paying on homage to Hammer Films w/o writing a whole RPG game about it. And it worked for me that way, I thinking Peter Cushing had just died a few months earlier around its release.

So while there will be more source books, I have bought the cover for one already, almost two years ago now, they'll be more like observations and particular sub-genres of horror than comprehensive tomes of wisdom. Hey I am not a GURPS man.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

GenCon 2018: Kind of Kubuki

It has been awhile since I went all journally/traveloguey, so it is perhaps time to do so.To say that this was a good year is an understatement. Now nothing really amazing really happened, indeed it might have been the lack of stupendous that made it fun. Everybody was doing their thing and we met for drinks and dinners and in general had a great time.

We were paying attention, really.

Wednesday pulling in was exasperating, but by far not the most stressful arrival at GENCON ever. We hit rush hour traffic and then once at the hotel, the Marriott (not the JW one) dealing with a minivan driver that had to park diagonally while taking 20 minutes to start to unpack gave me some time to sunbathe and shut off the engine. Old Home night had the usual suspects and the Market clan, with a new one added for variety, Afterwards, we turned a prep-session for Kal Luin's Saturday night LARP into the second locale. Believe it or not, it was helpful as well as fun. Peryton would stay up much too late torturing Curtis, the Purple Pimpernel, with a drunken stand-up routine as she prepared for her upcoming games in her own way.

Tales of Count Vulgarr
This year every spot that I had was a Crawlspace game. On top of that, the AM sessions were always for Crawlspace Gothic, specifically rehashing various Count Vulgarr yarns that have been recurring since 2008 or so, by myself and about three other GMs. I did these because most of the scripting was outlined and not requiring a lot of head-space to get typed up. I didn't know that most everybody in all of my groups had heard of the vampire not my game system. It was kind of hilarious.

"The Crypt of Count Vulgarr" was the introduction scenario on Thursday AM. Really fun group, mostly Hammer Film fans so it was easy. I was supposed to take them to the Castle Defnel for the climax, but the players had other ideas. Really worked out well ending up in the laboratory of Professor Henrich von Alfred, Vampire-Hunter LLC.

"The Return of Count Vulgarr" had a smaller group, four friends from Kansas City, that had all their parts worked out before they even got to the table. I pretty much got to sit back and eat popcorn for this session. Took them forever to figure out that wooden stakes work best.

"The Bride of Count Vulgarr" went just as awesome. The bride had been actually married about two weeks before the convention and got to work on her bridezilla that she didn't do in real life. The Count killed most of the vampire-slayers before sweeping off with the Chief Inspector of the local police, the Bride's IRL new husband.

"Return to the Crypt of Count Vulgarr" it was Sunday and everyone was tired while I was more than willing to show more than a little sardonic patience at questions asked the third time. Still we got it together, because we all insisted on having fun. It was a game filled with unexpected drama, strangest characters died, including the expected hero, before the creepy blood-sucker escaped yet once again.

My Other Things

"The Dig, part II," "Over the Top," and "The Sleep Study" all were full and had both new and returning players.  "Cave of the Ettin, part III" was a wash, but hey it happens. I was able to sneak into Exhibitors Hall while the attention whore spectacular, err the Cosplay Parade blocked as many entrances as they could. Really it was was not busy in the selling floor for at least half an hour.

On Friday evening, Peryton and I caught a come as you are dinner with Caed (of Caed Phaser fame) at Scotty's Brewhouse. The menu no longer included the mini-corndogs and mustard, but it is still one of the better places for gaming folks to dork out at. We, the evil three had a great time catching up. When Caed's son Dylan showed up, he was in for some rough teasing. He handled it well. W.E.B., the bastard, called on later that night, luckily only an hour before the end of "Over the Top," so an impromptu late-nighter developed. It pulled Curtis, Peryton, and Darronn out of their comfort zones maybe even bed to drink and deal with the two of us. Oh the hangovers did flow on the morning.

On Saturday, I helped out Kal Luin's LARP, "Metahuman Metropolis: Rise of the Overlord." John Bennett and I alternated as GM and NPCs. Not sure what everybody else was doing in the room, we were rocking our little group though.

Sunday, after "Return to the Crypt," I did my Exhibitor reconnoiter and obtained some requested bits of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, or some such, for a friend as well as some Modiphius Star Trek and another Rifts, Phase World book. Then Robin and I sat down for a bit of good old convention center pizza-- it was pretty bad and expensive, just the way convention pizza should be.

We spent most of the evening chatting with Bruce Wayne, and then others, with dinner and drinking. I kept running into people from other years that I had ran for, which lead to more drinks and even a couple selfies. A dude remembered a Glow session from like five years ago. One fellow complimented me on my daughter's, Saharrah's Crawlspace game-- sadly I had to correct him, she's just the game's first hot chick that sells games, not any relation besides adopted uncle status. Monday came and we even left on time.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A World a Week 5/18/18: Egg City

So from pimps and pushers to vampires and messiahs, this urban fantasy setting has been batted around by me for some time. It started out as something called "The Straits." Adding in the Easter Bunny as kind of the incredible Hulk, things went weird. Well, weirder I should say. I will add the map that made it into the PDF/game-zine later.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Every Time at a Table, May '18

Posting for a Spacers(TM) session to continue the play-testing started an impromptu Hoot weekend. Last Saturday and the next day was three RPG session half-marathon. Jedi, little Tom, and Sarah decided to come up to Cleveland from Springfield and were looking to do some serious tabletop partying. Then the "Frequent Sundays" ICONS campaign with Curtis and Mr Wylie from Oklahoma took place on-line two hours after that other gang left.

I am making notes on each session adding hard parts from the SPACERS(TM) Core rules and adding in the players' touches as they occur. This is mostly to watch a sci-fi campaign grow organically-- I other scenarios and campaigns have been tightly defined but the CLE-216 Frontier is not. With the help of Colin and a couple of unplanned visits from out-of-towners, the Saturday group at the Weird Realms has been the place to do that. I outline a session, re-read the rules while we play, and then type in problems and working parts in the after notes. This session in particular Jedi helped me focus on problems in ship damage system while enjoying Little Tom's technobabble ability while playing a "Fixer" Type. Peryton's Psychic character is helping me expand that aspect of the game as well.

The Saturday role-playing didn't end there. Sarah, on a lark, decided to do a first run of an idea in her head for Crawlspace Deluxe.  Mixing in the actor/producer dynamics into the story line, she took the college kid survival horror drama and mixed in cannibals and folklore. It was fun and we, mostly because of tipsiness and fatigue, dove hard into the All-In Hand mechanics. Jedi started coming up with a 7-card Holden variation which I over-ruled for the session, but may delve into more the deluxe redux edition. I would like to see the "EAT ME!" scenario published over the summer. We'll see what happens there.

Peryton and I were able to shrug off fatigue, sipping whiskey and drinking coffee, respectively, to conclude a story-arc which can only be called "The Chompers Cycle". This ICONS super-pets issue was just wrong and definitely not approved by the Comic Code Authority. More than a few of obscure members of the Scrap Pile, our "Avengers/JLA" super group, were able to make cameos, the GM doing their personalities while their original players watched. It was fun and showed us how rich our superhero campaign world is despite more often than not used for over-drinking with far away friends without the dangers of drunken driving.

So that is how the "off season" is going for gaming. My efforts to reconnect with early ties to local gamers, doing so-so, but what a time for Cleveland being a RPG tourism market.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Obligatory ICONS session write-up, May 8th

Well I started an ICONS mini-series

Not really new. Of Curtis and Peryton, I am the least prolific runners, so I try to make mine special. Part 1 of my Scraps of Magic, "Something Witchy this Way Comes" worked out. The characters of Chance Montgomery (the Occultress, whether her play likes it or not), Counterfeit, and Jay (not just Jay, but Jay Ramirez), are gelling into a quirky group of supernatural protagonists where their arguments with the universe of magic and metaphysics is often more drama than what I provide in my story.

The Occultress
Image may contain: 1 personShe is only called this by pervy would-be boyfriends, that happen to make up 99% of Chance Montgomery's private investigator business's clientele. She is a better detective than your average gumshoe because she is psychic as in seeing the past and glimpses of the future. But she's also really unlucky in love and war. There's more to that last statement than I want to go into right now.

Image may contain: 1 person, shoesNot saying this is a creature that has been summoned from another world and especially not a minion of a powerful spider demon, but she is. Her illusion ability is only hampered by her bad taste. And then there's Jay[Moda Masculina] Pantalones Verdes: Ăšltima tendencia ...Something of a witch in his own right, he's just nowhere near as good a bruja as his deceased Nanaita. And she keeps telling him this, as she is able to possess him when he wants to cast spells harder than he is capable of. Of course, her walking around in his body has it's drawbacks, which I am going to get more into as our little campaign progressesThe four were hired by Doctor Philosophy, the current keeper of the Townhouse of Terrible, to find out what happened to two of his friends, Professor Prim and Mz. Dames. The two occult scholars were keeping tabs on a group of shady cultists before they disappeared. Our trio not only found the group of witches, collectively known as "the Coven" being lead by gender-confused Natalie Reverend, err Nathan Rev, "the Warlock." They then discovered that the destructive paranormal entity known as The Burning Man had been summoned from his "Morning Star" portal, which usually does not bode well for the place where he is walking around. There was also the the very mercenary anti-hero called Night Ninja, that looked a lot like Marvel comic's Moon Knight, except there was no cape, and he wore gray, so totally different, hanging around.The group did their best to find the missing persons but only ruled out where the two were not. The post-cognition sex scenes were avoided to keep things PG-13. They were able to find out where the Burning Man was going to appear again, right where they and the Coven were. And in a plot twist that worked out really well, it was discovered that the "shady cultists" were actually trying to banish the metaphysical wave of destruction after it had been summoned by Prim and Dames, who were the super-villains Hypnos and Moon-Wolf respectively. Supernatural fisticuffs ensued, with the Magical Scrappers being able to turn the tables on Hypnos and Moon-Wolf. The Coven was able to banish the Burning Man, but at the loss of three of their members and Natalie... err Nathan Rev, their "Warlock." In the explosive departure of the Solomon Grundy aflame, Night Ninja helped the other villains escape.Upon reporting back to Doctor Philosophy, they learned that Night Ninja had been busy elsewhere stealing the Key of Kthom-Kopf as well as helping his fallen friends. It was here where our protagonists decided to become a trio of heroes, especially when the metaphysical master offered to keep them on retainer for the duration of the investigation.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Everytime at a Table, April '18.

In between BASHCon in February and GENCON sometime in July-August has suddenly become a good time for not only working on things clanging around my head but I can connect with nearby tabletop role-players. To date, this year, I am capitalizing on the opportunity. The advent of biweekly Saturday evening role-playing is not only only drawing in fellow gamers, I get to play as well as run things. Combined with my construction efforts, life is full.

Wobbling is a good thing
I am work on the final revision of an RPG game that I have said that never really liked. That said, sitting back and looking at the work that I keep on doing, it works. Add in about nine years of play-testing scenarios,. Then swish around a few illustrations and graphics, Ultimately, you will have a finished product.

I have a couple half-way complete projects that I hope to get out before I die. I'd also like to make sure that my game system makes sense. At the same time, I need folks willing to play with me. Luckily, I have the personal level covered. On the other hand, I am dealing with good GMs that have stories to work out. At the same time, I have a couple of assume GMs. Below is my LOTFP notes from a GM that approved my maps based off of his narrative.

Old School Gaming is Naval Gazing... Leading to cancer.
Okay, I only have 3.16 examples to explain this you, dear innocent reader. So let me try to explain.
I've played exactly 10 sessions of Dungeon Crawl Classics and more than a handful of whatever else claims to be OSR. I have just recently been to Geriatric Con Cheese Curd edition. I have also played in someone's revision of TSR Gangbusters. In all but three situations I have not only dealt with sullen GMs, mostly that Gangbusters guy, not willing to deal with creative players, I have played with petty players. I have dealt with the animosity of  players harboring favor from arbitrary rules that want to define success as scared people turning multiple pages to do something like "118 points" of damage to player-characters that have six points to their vicarious existence. They back bite their fellow players and run away from challenges.

Let's look at this logically. Okay you have systems that encourage statistics to govern the average PC to perform illogical feats in order to become recognized personas in an under-scripted saga. This saga requires your Character to be both the protagonist and the butt-monkey to on-going story in front of it. In about a decade, and 47 of your best efforts to attain 3rd level, you get to be apart of a glorious story. Ayup. That's how it goes. If you're looking at things from 1000 years in the future.

Every role-player is about character advancement and dealing with situations that they don't deal with daily. So what does being a turnip farmer awaiting death at some chance to die in a bit of random goo based solely of  rules lead to? It might fulfill some asshole's desire to be in control of squat. At the same time, both sides of these participants actions lead to seclusion from hope of dealing with anything new.

NOT the "sullen" GM, instead a great one who is just wrong.
 Years-long weekly Open sessions that lead to four 1st-3rd Level, dealing with newcomers like viruses.The most comfortable is hurt even for an evening. The usual  cry "We should screen our players" without knowing the rules. This is while the expected crowd, meaning the "regulars," look like incompetent newcomers. Meanwhile real, just arrived, role-players deal with them. Especially quaint when the strangers understand the rules better than they, the regulars, do after listening to the GM fifteen minutes when they, themselves, asked earlier. If someone has to turn four pages to do 16 points of damage to a Character that has "3" Hit Points,. At that point something is wrong. I don't blame the GMs, they are only promoting a flawed series of products meant to get husbands home to their griping wives earlier than 4am. Old School Gaming is about assholes trying to be 14 years-old forever.
I learned this because a friend from out of town wanted to play with a fabulous DCC group here in Cleveland every Thursday night. We almost killed them all with 0-level characters that none of my group really took seriously.

Alien Sightings beyond Arcturus!

The bright spot of dealing with the "Old School" crowd was that the next night was scheduled for me to GM something. I rolled a d8 to decide among my preferred games. I showcased my Spacers (TM) RPG. Everybody, all five of us, had a great time. It was nice to play for about three and a half hours and tell a story.

Every time at the tabletop is a victory, despite the OSR crowd.