Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wobble: The Neighbors

The Negbho, "The Neighbors" Quick starting at 100
All of them have a +25 on Fix-It rolls when figuring out how to use new technologies because of formable body parts.
Description: From a planet where the density of the atmosphere is some four times greater, these creatures resemble very large garbage bags that are almost rectangular with a tube coming out of its top half. Most often they are encountered wearing pressure suits which makes them look even more like garbage bags than they normally would.
    The tubes seem to be the mouth and airway apparatus. The species can form appendages as needed out of their mass, which is why their pressure suits are so like thin plastic, though it is actually quite an advanced synthetic material, acting as armor as well.
The Scoop: In their dimension, a very large scale war waged during the years 1933-1941. It involved sixteen nations on four of the planet’s eight continents. The machines used though very alien to us in the Mu universes, were the equivalent of tanks, bombers, and whatnot. The aggressor nations, there were three of them, like our own Axis Powers, never lost control early seized territories leading to many more resources to bank their efforts. Towards 1940, two nations of the opposing sides tested their first atomic bombs. This led to dropping of sixteen bombs by both sides total before an armistice was arranged.
    Their world now has three superpowers: the West, the Aggressors, and the South.The West has a political structure that resembles that of USA, except that all but a few politicians have been in their military forces for many years before choosing civilian leadership. The Aggressors is very much like that of Italy and Germany before the end of WWII. Besides being fascists, they want to exterminate all pink-hued negbhors. The South is made up of a dozen or so countries that were neutral during the Atomic War, as it is called now. They resemble a United Nations with teeth and have waged small scale wars on both of “the Atomic nations” to earn their status as a superpower.
    As it happens, for a little over a decade the negbhor have been Wobbling. The West and the Aggressors are seeking technologies and allies that will give them advantages over their competition. The South for the most part strives to foil the other two, but essentially is doing the same thing as the other two.

Air- Lieutenant Colonel  Thoff Sassuk , Quick 225
MacGyver It (LK+15)
Notes: The highest-ranking field officer of the West's top secret Wobble-Gate program. Quite handsome for a bag of garbage.

Ammiraglio Dunkk Russeh, Quick 300
Acrobatics (SP+20)
Notes: The highest-ranking field officer of the Aggressors top secret Schwabbeln Korps. Known for his dramatic entrances and exits.

Captain Hopping Meddler, Quick 225
Quick Talk (CH+20)
Notes: The The highest-ranking field officer of the Souths top secret Multiple Universe Noninterference Oversight Agency. Has a really honest face for a garbage bag.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Easing into Africa (and Elsewhere)

To be accurate, the title should be "Easing Out of Africa and Back In Again" to reflect my particular game experience.

I bet most of you reading this already know that Scott Malthouse, Werdna of Trollhalla, author of the Unbelievable Simple Role-Playing Game (the USR), is one of my favorite fantasist. In his article over at his The Trollish Delver, he once again piqued my interest with essentially a rant entitled "Are We Sick Of European Fantasy Yet?" It's not really a rant, he goes on to highlight the works of authors that are not sticking with the well developed medieval European fantasy settings.

My first reaction was 'That's been going on forever already.' Well that was my second because the first really was 'Wow. What a good article with a provocative title. ' Since the mid 80s, folks have been playing around with what I'd call "non-Tolkien based settings." Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne and Skyrealms of Jorune. Heck one could say Glorantha with its decidedly bronze and iron-age atmosphere, and ducks, was not "European fantasy." Gary Gygax, himself, loved to get away from Europe. He did so with Aesheeba, a Hellenic colony on an island not far from Africa. Anybody who has followed Forgotten Realms has been exotic settings that reminds one of far-off locales and historical periods on our world. And anybody who's seen a Star Wars prequel is familiar with non-Tolkien based fantasy.

Moreover, the GM should really take his, or her time, when jumping into the unfamiliar. Whether it be Africa or say Mars, I say this for gaming group, not the game designer/setting author. It'd be rich if I took up the defense of "traditional" tabletop role-playing settings, like when did I ever start writing them? But I offer this bit of caution for the group that has been together for a long time. It can lead to roleplaying tourism or an overwhelming, as in unpleasant, experience for everyone.

With already established player-characters it turns into a gimmick. It's rather like "Oh look, this month we're exploring Mesoamerica " and everyone looks for snapshot moments. It's probably a good way to handle convention games, even a series of games, but it can turn a campaign into kitsch. Starting out with all new characters for all the players, the GM had better hope that everyone is as into the milieu as much as he is. Most roleplayers don't know what say a Priest of Nayenezgani is and nor is character creation the time to get into detail about it, the over-wrought explanation will ensure that the next gaming session the player will be busy. So somewhere between being a tourist and going too in-depth has to be found.

I find borders and lethality work well. No really they do. Everyone would start out as newcomers to the region and the players would start to learn about the folks that are from there. One or two of the Characters would get killed, or called back to the homestead if your players are that tempermental, and other characters from around the area would have to replace them. These new characters would build upon the players' growing familiarity with the setting.

After traveling through a couple different kingdoms, usually a few hundred miles, I estimate this is how far people would travel in oar-driven galleys and by horse over glorified goat-trails called trade routes over the period of a season, before the advent of sail-driven nation-state, the players that are still with you are ready for anything.

Since 2005, I, myself, have had campaigns going from exotic to familiar. Going from my version of Kenya and ending up in a direct metaphor for Medieval Jerusalem. I've threwn in some Larry Niven Pak protectors to keep things from getting boring. I hope to get the players, two of the characters are very European these days, from my Antioch to Lahore and back to Kenya over the next five years.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wobble Diary 1: Oops, hold on, wait a minute

The dice on the table are my toolbox.

"The Tinfoil Man" was a "sandbox adventure." The texture and tone of the events that would unfold were based upon three specific events that might occur during the course of play after the opening scene. Once an event occurred I would then work in a reaction, using a six-sided die and run things from there.

This last weekend, well yesterday actually, I ran a Wobble game for two of my five premier players ("Players", in game rule texts), Peryton and JerryTel. Now I've ran my premier Wobble adventure twice already, but this scenario was going to a much more experimental session. Months ago, after I started getting the hang of this Wobble stuff, after studying TV mixed genre shows, like Star Trek and Doctor Who, I sat back and looked at  my own very established "narrative" approach to role-playing sessions. This scenario was a little different. How can I put it, I was feeling minimalistic, experimental, and Dadaist at the same time.

What added to things that I decided to use ground level Characters. And while the plot get dropping into Character development, the plot kept both sides of the table-top invested. The players only found a couple of the bells and whistles, but the universe around them snowed them in. Even the next day, they were asking me questions.

Not a bad start on an "urban fantasy" adventure. That's my new phrase for TV style modern role-playing.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wobble: The Crawlies

The Crawlies, Quick starting at 200
AIM and Duck at 200
BASH at 100
May shift gravity to allow them to move along walls and ceilings when necessary.
Description: A species that is very apparently skilled at Wobbling as well as being very stealthy as well. If their skin wasn't always ash gray, they'd resemble pumpkin-headed scarecrows. They tend to be nine to fourteen feet tall, with humanoid bodies. Whatever their true propensities, those who come into contact with them come away horrified. The Crawlies are associated with a very specific group of humans from the Mu Universe and its variations (the Mu Continuum). All of these humans are in universes different from where they think that should be--In other words, abducted and abandoned would-be Wobblers.
The Scoop: The Crawlies can trace their evolutionary pattern from humans of the anthrocene (homo sapiens, sapiens) period some 45,000 years before now in their history. While their facial organs are very small , the same size as our own, compared to their frame; their skull cavities are very large. Their brains are marginally larger, but the skulls themselves are designed to receive radio waves and translate them into neurological impulses.
Though able to communicate wholly through radio frequencies, and very established at slipping through universes, the Crawlies think that they should be psychically endowed. They travel to and from the Mu Continuum and abduct certain promising individuals trying to affect their evolution towards being enabled with psychic abilities.
What they don't realize is that they are not actually traveling through time. Instead they are creeping out a lot of sensitive and talented people. Wobblers becoming more familiar with what is going here when they are around view them more and more as a threat.

Allister Crawly, Quick 335
Notes: This Human from Mu Prime, our world, is believed by the Crawlies to be the solution to their problems. Being told from an early age he is "chosen by fate," he's a megalomaniac and a sociopath. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Tale of Two Peakvales

I write about Peakvale as I am finishing up my third installment in my Kopfy's Swamp Of Doom series. "Candlelight In Murky Water" will be my final PDF installment for this campaign. There will be a printed collection of the different scenarios with a fourth installment but that is much later.

Not the goblin that I was thinking of,

Developed by Scott Malthouse back in late 2011. He developed the setting with a few scribbles as to locales and a mention of major NPC, and decided that "There's a severe lack of settings for T&T and I want Peakvale to be familiar but at the same time unique (whether it will be the latter remains to be seen)...In essence, Peakvale boils down to a satirical look at current British politics and attitudes."

Malthouse graciously allowed me to add to this setting despite my lack of British(ness). I wanted to contribute to the setting out of a lot of joy at having someone else develop a setting for T&T without trying to re-write the game. He also never expected my social commentary to be exclusively British. Despite some time in school in Uxbridge London, I am Yank with Kraut tendencies, not even a Breton in mindset. So I made fun of NIMBYism that I see in Germany and the USA. I then delved into my dislike of humidity and viscious flora and fauna by stepping into doom-filled swamps.

Matlhouse's two works have been very Gothic horror and will remind the reader of pulp fiction from the 30s and 40s as well as Hammer Films. The drama is based upon the back story of the NPCs involved and lead into how it effects the capital of the realm. Reading them I can't wait to play a delver in one of his games and meeting this schmuck named "Hobbletoe. "

While our works haven't come together, which I kind of hope that they won't, I think that the enterprise has been helpful for new GMs to T&T.  The math in pieces tends to be worked out, so the game's matrix can be managed by the game-master that doesn't like to fudge a roll here and there. The nice thing is, and I have said this before, is that we never discussed this amongst ourselves. The adventures all put together make a very intricate campaign, and it never gets rote.

As the Swamp of Doom, or KSOD as I like to call it,  is wrapping up,  I am waiting to see where Peakvale's creator goes with it before I go off on a tangent. I've already got the setting ready to be placed in my T&T world of Elder, and am using it as a stepping off point to highlight some places I've had in mind to show for a while now.

Still I am very happy with my travels through Peakvale.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2014 New Year's Schedule Progress Report

Well here is how things are comparing to my plans in late December.

o...There's potentially a great Elvismas coming. The stars are lining up just right, when in doubt default to Indianapolis.
o... Release the post-apocalypse RPG Glow.
o... Re-release Crawlspace 13, the deluxe edition.

o... Release the re-release of Spacers.
o... Release Stay Alive's "Apocalypse In Your Hometown" scenarios.
o... Finish "Kopfy's Swamp of Doom" saga, it's more than just four episodes of resolve, set in Scott Malthouse's Peakvale setting.
o... Have a Hoot or two, maybe even discover Rhode Island.

Crawlspace 13, the Deluxe Edition was released around the middle of December. I didn't have a particularly great Elvismas, but I did have a nice party at home.

It's the middle of March, and Glow is in post-production. That means last minute editing, formatting Character Sheets, trying to close the loop on getting some high quality maps together. But there is a good group of players and a helpful editor keeping me on track.

The third Kopfy's Swamp of Doom scenario is about 80% finished.

If Spacers is out by May, I'll be amazed. It'd be nice to have ready for GenCon. Hopefully the extended process around Glow will mean this project will be easier.

A compilation of T&T modern rules scenarios Apocalypse In Your Hometown is being sorted and assembled for editing and then production, probably out by May. A T&T scenario by "Mad" Roy Cram entitled "The Misty Island Horror" is slated to be out around the same time.

And it looks like it's Wisconsin not Rhode Island later this month. Monk and I are going to Gary Con.