Most game masters feel more motivated and creative when people want to play their games, encourage them to work on some specific idea, or look forward to a specific game that they’ve considered running. However, it can be hard to know what potential games somebody might have in their mind; we don’t exactly have a whiteboard on which people keep track of which person is interested in running or playing each different game. Sometimes you don’t realise that a friend might be interested in running some game until he actually announces that he’s doing so!
So this is the stuff that I’m thinking about lately. This is my “whiteboard” of possible games, projects, and interests. People can express an interest in stuff that they like the sound of, give their opinion, ask questions, offer to collaborate, or even just think “None of that sound slike my cup of tea... but what I’m really interested in is...”
I think it would be helpful if more people wrote about what games they’d like to run or look forward to playing. Most people have a blog of some sort, so put your possible games and interests on a whiteboard somewhere!
- Scion: Hero, Demigod, and God
I’ve written about Scion several times, so you may be familiar with it by now. I’m currently running an occasional Hero game, which will scale up to Demigod sooner or later. I figure that it would take most of a year to get a campaign to the God level of play, and I’m not really planning to go that far. I haven’t got a definitive plan, though – I’ll see how we go during summer. I would certainly hope to bring it to an interesting close rather than just stop running it one week in favour of something new.
- Wild Talents—Aberrant
I had planned to run a Wild Talents scenario at Necronomicon this year until the convention was postponed; I’ll probably run it next year instead. Who knows, the second printing of the rules might even be ready by then!
Another option that I’ve kept in mind is the Aberrant setting. I don’t think much of the original Storyteller version of Aberrant, and I’m not really interested in the more recent d20 reprint either – but I think that Wild Talents suits the setting admirably. Aberrant is a setting based on how much society and the planet can change if superhumans existed and actively participated in society. The Wild Talents rules deal with supers interacting with normal people better than Storyteller did, and scales easily right up to thw world-shaking level of ability. Just about any ability can be defined by a custom power, not just the traditional ones. The default rules for Wild Talents are considerably more deadly than most supers games, but that suits Aberrant.
I would want to change the setting a bit – the official Aberrant timeline begins in 1998 (with the first known Nova appearing) and goes into detail up until 2008... but as it was written in the mid to late 90s, it lacks some world events that might be a bit jarring for us now. I’d also want to eliminate the heavy focus on super-powerful celebrity NPCs who seem to do everything important in the setting. Ideally the PCs should be filling these roles, not being midweight spectators to the affairs of Caestus Pax and Divis Mal.
Wild Talents is in the “pretty good chance that I’ll run this” category – whether that’s just as a (post-apocalyptic, Sheri Tepper-inspired) convention game or as a (revised Aberrant) campaign.
- Changeling: the Lost
C:tL is one of the “new World of Darkness” games that White Wolf has released with their new unified ruleset and refocus on tighter themes over metaplot. Changeling is about people who were captured by the inhuman Fae and kept as pets, servants or slaves in Arcadia. They somehow manage to escape back to the mortal world, but have been transformed into magical beings by the ordeal.
There are some comparisons with the old Changeling: the Dreaming, but this game is much less whimsical and not so devoted to Celtic faeries. Changelings are more unified; there is no noble/commoner divide (the True Fae are antagonists, not player characters), and the changeling seasonal courts are based on different approaches to opposing the True Fae rather than the bitter rivals of the old Seelie/Unseelie courts. The enemy of C:tL is an incomprehensible supernatural captor rather than “banality”, so characters are more likely to be threatened by the Greve of Stolen Lovers or the Zookeeper rather than Some Really Boring Mundane People.
I wrote a freeform using some of this setting, so obviously I like it a great deal. I could possibly run this game as a campaign (although I have no current plans). I would be just as happy to be a player in a Changeling game that somebody else runs. Changeling: the Lost is in the “games I’d like to try someday” pile.
I don’t have any current ideas or plans for REIGN. I think it’s a great game, and I’m probably going to borrow bits of it for other games that I run, but for the moment fantasy isn’t really on my mind.
If I write any fantasy games for conventions next year then I’ll probaby use REIGN; and I’d be more than happy to join somebody else’s game. REIGN is in the “games I’d like to try someday” pile.
Radiance is a science fiction thing that I’ve been kicking around oh, for years now. It’s a potential game that I just have fun writing bits and pieces for (or sometimes major revisions; the character rules have undergone two massive rewrites). I enjoy this because the kind of SF that I like doesn’t really exist in published RPGs. I would want to play in or run a social science fiction game, set in the distant future of our galaxy with the varied descendants of humanity (and no pointy-eared aliens), leaning towards the hard SF side of things.
Anyway, I’ve written some more useable material in the last couple of months and I like how it has shaped up. Radiance still suffers from a “kitchen sink” syndrome – there’s lots of Stuff That I Like in there but the central premise or core story (ie, “What do the players do?”) is rather vague. It might work better as a series of convention freeforms than a campaign. Radiance is in the “games I’d like to try someday” pile.
- Grim War
I’ve sent an email to Arc Dream to express my interest in playtesting Grim War, a Wild Talents/REIGN sourcebook by Greg Stolze and Kenneth Hite. It’s been described as a modern-day setting of magic and mutants that features extensive rules for ritual sorcery and REIGN’s “company” rules to play out factional conflicts and alliances. If they decide to use me as a playtester than I’ll put together a small group of people who are interested in playing three or four sessions – not actually a campaign, but a chance to play around with it and see what works, what’s fun and what needs to be cleared up.
Keeping an eye on other games that people in my household’s circle are busy scheduling, Saturday the 17th of November appears to be free. How would people feel about playing Scion that evening?
I mentioned earlier in the week that I am considering an increase in the experience awards I give in the Scion campaign. The primary reason for this is that we don’t play as often as people in a standard campaign – once per month or less so far – and so to give people a feeling of improvement or “getting somewhere” I’d like to make each session worth more.
There’s a lot of cool things that characters can do when they reach a high Legend score (including just about everything in Scion: Demigod), but it takes a lot of experience to achieve that Legend score... and then you might not have anything left over to buy those new Boons and Knacks. It would be nice if players could get access to those fun things in a realistic amount of time.
Not everybody has the Scion: Hero rulebook, so here’s a summary of what the standard experience rules are...
The Storyteller awards experience at the end of each session, according to four main types of award:
- Basic Awards (4 experience points): Each session, every player receives this award for participating.
- Bonus Award (1 experience point): If a player contributes significantly to the fun or success of a session she receives this award.
- Stunt Award (1 experience point): Once per session, a player may opt to receive this award when the Storyteller confirms a three-die stunt for her character (instead of regaining Willpower or Legend; but see below).
- Story Award (5 experience points): At the end of each story, each player receives this award for participating in the ongoing narrative. If you weren’t present at the specific session in which a story was wrapped up you should still get this award if you participated in most of it.
The experience cost to increase any existing trait (including Legend) or to purchase new traits is listed on page 207 of Scion: Hero.
This is my record (or best estimate in the case of those characters whose character sheet I don’t have in my possession) of current experience totals (which includes all points awarded so far, both spent and unspent). Tommy’s total includes points earned but not spent for Dion’s first character Isabelita (this is my standard approach when somebody makes a new character). I don’t see much value in keeping these totals secret (and if you think you should have more, feel free to convince me).
- Romy Braz – 14 experience points
- Enrique Romero Del Tonotiuh – 20 experience points
- Vinsuth Eta – 9 experience points
- Lorelei “Lori” Hansson – 14 experience points
- Tommy “Lionheart” Petraeus – 17 experience points
- Harry Williams – 20 experience points
Scion’s experience awards are already fairly generous compared to most Storyteller games, so I didn’t want to just increase them. If characters start earning 10+ experience points every session it’s too easy to have situations like “I didn’t know anything about Politics before, but overnight I gained a bachelor’s degree (three dots) in it!” And as I mentioned above, I’d particularly like to see players improve their character’s Legend ratings.
So I came up with a new type of experience that can only be used towards Legend, and a rationale for what it represents in the game.
Like experience awards, the Storyteller awards epic points at the end of each session. Epic points reward players for involving their characters in heroic affairs or the divine war between the Gods and Titans, as well as for efforts that improve the story aspect of the game (whether those are concrete contributions such as an attractive character portrait or intangibles such as bringing metaphor and symolism into your portrayal of character).
Unlike normal experience points, epic points can only be used to increase a character’s permanent Legend rating. You may spend a combination of experience points and epic points to increase Legend if you want.
- Heroic Exploits (2 epic points): Every player who spends Legend or uses a Boon or Knack for the purpose of accomplishing some meaningful task gets this at the end of a game session. Most Scions should be doing this kind of thing all the time.
- Slaying a Titanspawn (1 epic point/Legend): If a character defeats one of her ancestral enemies, she receives this award. The award is divided equally if multiple characters participated in the combat, with any remainder going to the Scion who dealt the killing blow.
- Stunt Award (1 epic point): A player receives this award when the Storyteller confirms a three-die stunt for her character (in addition to any other bonuses received).
- Flashback Award (4 epic points): If the player plays through an extended flashback scene (such as her character's Visitation), she receives this award.
- Props and Enhancements (1-2 epic points): A player receives this award for providing an appropriate character picture; an evocative token or miniature to represent her character on the battlewheel; in-character stories, poems, or songs; and other similar additions to the play experience.
- Mythic Exploits (1-3 epic points): A player receives this award for performing actions that are truly mythic in scope (part of the divine reality rather than the mundane World), especially if they go above and beyond the standard actions described in the rules.
I am happy to backdate epic point awards, inasmuch as I can clearly remember who should get what – I’m going to assume a minimum of two points per session that the character was played, an additional four for people who played through their Visitation flashbacks in session two, a point each to Enrique and Harry for fighting the Titanspawn in session two, one point each for players who have provided me with character portraits, and appropriate awards for the events of the third session.
- Romy Braz – 8 epic points
- Enrique Romero Del Tonotiuh – 13 epic points
- Vinsuth Eta – 4 epic points
- Lorelei “Lori” Hansson – 8 epic points
- Tommy “Lionheart” Petraeus – 3 epic points
- Harry Williams – 12 epic points
Enrique and Harry are ahead of the rest of the band because those two characters were in all three sessions, fought the Titanspawn serpent, provided character pictures, and so on. Contributing character pictures, epic poems, backstory anecdotes (based on your Rumours, perhaps) and the like tells the “audience” of this story that your character is significant, one of the heroes of the epic, and thus increases his Legend.
Most characters have Legend 3, and need 24 points to reach Legend 4. Enrique and Romy already have Legend 4, and need 32 points to reach Legend 5 – taking them from Hero to Demigod status. Damon could do this in just one more session, but I’m going to ask that players not make the leap to Demigod until most other characters have caught up. Hero and Demigod are dramatically different power levels, and I think everybody will have more fun if they get to Demigod at about the same time. Players who have to wait will still have all those points banked, so they can advance to Legend 6 and beyond quite quickly once everybody is a Demigod.
I may have omitted some details from the game, whether due to vagueness since we played the session, or because they concerned events in flashback that weren’t directly involved in the actual story. I apologise for that! However, this should help to remind you of the basic events so far:
Session One - Tricky Mr. Trick
( Click for the first sessionCollapse )
Session Two – Giant Serpent Throwdown on the Vegas Strip
( Click for the second sessionCollapse )
Session Three – Going Sailing in the Nevada Desert
( Click for the third sessionCollapse )
The heroes learned that deep beneath the desert the Titan Icelus (named Phobetor or “Frightening” by mortals) lies dreaming. A Titan strongly associated with the “sea” of the collective unconsciousness, Phobetor was imprisoned beneath the arid Nevada desert by the gods. Unfortunately, a badly-damaged pipeline had washed a channel through the rocks to Phobetor, and the Titan was beginning to stir. Seven nights ago he had drawn dreaming heroes into his illusions and set them against one another in combat. Illusions from Phobetor’s mind had also travelled up that channel into the World, where they were shaped by the first minds they encountered. Most were killers out of film and television, but one was the horrid chimera of a serpent, Danny Trick, and the dead god Janus.
Also, a second and unrelated Titan has been imprisoned beneath the city of Las Vegas itself.
Currently, the Band consists of:
- Romy Braz, Scion of Odin
- Enrique Romero Del Tonotiuh, Scion of Tezcatlipoca
- Vinsuth Eta, Scion of Hachiman
- Lorelei “Lori” Hansson, Scion of Freyja
- Tommy “Lionheart” Petraeus, Scion of Ares
- Harry Williams, Scion of Legba
Unresolved Issues and Mysteries
The band has an unconscious Scion in their custody, one who is known to be a thief if not necessarily dangerous. They will not be able to keep him at the Casa de la Puerta against his will, as the gardener is quite unlikely to condone imprisonment within the bounds of the hotel. What the band wants to do with Mr. Trick and where they take him will be important.
Romy has animated the ancient skull of a dead god, slain thousands of years ago by the Titans. Exactly what Mr. Trick had been attempting to do with the skull is still uncertain, but it certainly caused the spirit of Janus great distress.
A method of quieting the restless imprisonment of the dreaming Titan Phobetor has been settled upon (and can be accomplished without difficulty), but there is another, as-yet unnamed Titan imprisoned beneath Las Vegas itself.
An English clubber and tourist who seems to live for parties throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.
An enthusiastic amateur actor who has landed the role of King Ascalon in the mummer's play.
Gabriel's wife and the most notorious gossip in Saint-Raphaël.
A troubled teenaged boy, the son of Gabriel and Aurélie.
A fundraiser for a Parisian hospice that provides beds for orphans and abused children.
A retired academic who was chosen as director by the theatrical society. Alix never married, but she is said to have had many lovers in her youth.
A special interest representative who works for the rights of migrants and refugees.
A nondescript but dauntless investigative journalist.
Laurent de Mandelieu
A successful actor who is best known for his many minor roles as villains in French television and film.
Hélène du Héllean
A daunting, intimidating socialite and hostess of many parties and community events.
Étienne Du Var
A retired university lecturer and current curator of the Saint-Raphaël museum.
Renaud du Vigneaud
A retired police detective, once considered the best sleuth in the south of France.
The former school headmaster, who has become an eccentric playwright since his retirement.
A professional character actor who is well-liked and even admired for his absurd ugliness and good nature.
A confirmed bachelor and rakish local personality who moved to Saint-Raphaël after his retirement.
The scion of a wealthy British family with a taste for wild parties.
A member of the theatrical society and an enthusiastic artist. Letelier is designing the sets and props for the mummer's play.
A local politician who has great ideas for Saint-Raphaël, and even greater ambitions for himself.
Fabien Malinvaud's trophy wife, a former Parisian model.
A well-known local actress and classical French beauty, cast as Columbine in the mummer's play.
A professional dancer from Paris who has a reputation for emotional reserve and hard partying.
An industrial tycoon from Italy who often visits the French Riviera to enjoy the climate and pursue his intellectual hobbies.
An actress in her autumn years who is now more of a patron of the arts than a participant.
Claire's very strange but very loyal son, nearing his twenty-first birthday.
The creepy caretaker and superintendent of the Center Culturel buildings and grounds.
The Mummer’s Play
“And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Aye at the end of seven years,
We pay a tithe to hell:
I am so fair and full o’ flesh,
I fear ‘twill be myself.”
Welcome to Saint-Raphaël, a resort town on the French Riviera. In summer, Saint-Raphaël throngs with tourists and the wealthy. Winter is much quieter, but in December is one of Saint-Raphaël’s main cultural events – the Light Festival, in which the town is brilliantly illuminated by thousands of lights in celebration of Christmas.
This year the Light Festival will also feature a special play, sponsored by the Agrée de Musique, de Danse et d’Art Dramatique. A modern revival of old French and German carnival customs, this Mummer’s Play marries a tradition kept alive in English-speaking countries with French culture and sensibilities, reinvented as a modern drama. The play itself is being kept under wraps, so audiences won't know exactly what to expect.
The upcoming fundraiser and promotional party is an opportunity for visitors to Saint-Raphaël to meet the cast, production crew, and supporters of the Mummer’s Play. Contact the Center Culturel (Tél. 04 98 11 89 20) for more information!
The Mummer’s Play is a character mask freeform (in the same style as The Shadow Play, Necronomicon 2005) featuring elements from Changeling: the Lost. Some characters are changelings – mortals who were taken from their homes, and kept as the Others’ slave or pet. Even after they struggled back through the Thorns, to a home that is no longer theirs, they have been transformed by the power of Faerie. Some characters are mortals who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the power of Faerie. And some characters are… something else.
One session, 25 players, by james o’rance. Sydcon 2007.
SydCon 2007 is less than four weeks away!
We are now accepting player registrations. Sign up quickly to take advantage of our early-bird rate.What
: SydCon – a gaming conventionWhere
: St Scholastica's College, Glebe NSW.When
: Sat 29 Sept - Mon 1 Oct 2007 (Labour Day Long Weekend)Website
[x-posted like crazy, so apologies if you see this more than once – please pass it on!]
SydCon 2007 is less than six weeks away!
The games are locked and the entry form is not far away. Make sure you check out the games on offer and start planning what you're going to play!What
: SydCon – a gaming conventionWhere
: St Scholastica's College, Glebe NSW.When
: Sat 29 Sept - Mon 1 Oct 2007 (Labour Day Long Weekend)Website
[x-posted like crazy, so apologies if you see this more than once – please pass it on!]
I have just read Ken McLeod's novel The Cassini Division, in which there is human civilisation in two star systems - the Solar System and New Mars, located on the far end of a wormhole.
The wormhole was originally created in orbit around Jupiter, and then one "side" of it was carried out of the Solar System by a spacecraft travelling at sublight but still relativistic speeds. I'll quote the explanation directly from the novel so that I don't mess it up.
From The Cassini Division:
"... we calculate that the probe reached almost the speed of light in a month. After that, things get complicated, because both sides of the wormhole are in the same reference frame."
Suze was looking puzzled. I smiled at Malley. "Sam, over to you."
Malley shrugged. "To simplify drastically... it;s not really correct to refer to 'both sides' of the wormhole. The ship is travelling at some arbitrarily close approximation to the speed of light, and therefore experiences relativistic time dilation - time runs slower on the ship than it does back home. The truly paradoxical feature of the wormhole is that both ends are in the same place. So anything passing through one end of the wormhole arrives at the other end in ship time, which after, say, a year, could be hundreds of light years away, and hundreds of years into the future. With continued acceleration, the probe reaches the edge of the observable universe in thirty shipboard years. So, thirty years from launch, anybody passing through the wormhole arrives instantly at the same location. It is, if you like, a time machine to the future."
So now I'm imagining an SF setting where Earth sends out multiple probes of this sort, carrying wormholes to different stars.
This gives you a setting where Earth could colonise a decent number of star systems within a century of subjective time - but they'd all be thousands of years in the "future". This avoids one of the problems of FTL travel in an interstellar setting (the wormholes tie all of the systems into a single reference frame) although I can think of some weird possibilities - what if Colony A (1000 ly distant from Earth) creates a new wormhole and sends it back to Earth? It arrives back on Earth 2,000 years after the original probe to Colony A left... allowing someone on Earth to travel through two wormholes to the future of the same planet. O_o
Is this civilisation feasible? What would the maps of such a civilisation look like? Would people travelling around the civilisation really notice that they were travelling through time? What other weirdness would you have to acocunt for when writing it?
For those looking for a fast, easy-to-learn system for playing Star Wars, StarORE
, which is essentially an adaptation of West End Games' d6 system to Greg Stolze's One Roll Engine, is an excellent starting point. However, the rules for the Dark/Light Side balance seem a little bland to me. This is an attempt to fix them.
Those of you who have been reading this for a while will know of my love of Unknown Armies. One of the features I like so much about it is the madness meters - a series of guages that show how increasingly psychologically screwed up your character is becoming. NEMESIS
adapts the guages for the ORE. I want to do something similar here.
Unknown Armies has five guages, NEMESIS has four. For my purposes, I think I can get away with a single 'Dark Side' guage. So I'll create something like that. For reasons that will become aparrent, I'm going to expand the 'failed' side out to ten notches instead of the usual five.
NEMESIS introduced the idea of having a stat+skill roll with a certain difficulty (see p.2 of StarORE) to avoid gaining a failed notch. I'll do the same, using Cool+Meditation (see p.9 of StarORE). This is already the roll that you use to draw on the Light Side (p.11), but considering the emphasis that the Jedi put on meditation and emotional control in the Star Wars universe, I don't think it's making it more important than it should be. The difficulty of the roll will vary on the stimulus - for example:
Frustration at repeatedly failing to use a Force power: 1
Drawing on the Dark Side (p.11): 5
Betrayal by a loved one: 8
Failing the roll means you give in to the Dark Side for a little while (a round or two, as dramatically appropriate), and gains you a failed notch, but this isn't all bad. Henceforth, when you draw on the Dark Side, you automatically gain a pool of temporary willpower points equal to your number of failed notches. The Dark Side is always there, just waiting for you to call on it.
However, you can only use these Dark Side willpower points to fuel Force powers when your actions are governed by your baser emotions - hate, fear, anger or what have you. Also, any attempt to use your regular willpower points instead imposes a difficulty on your roll equal to your number of failed notches. This means the more aligned you are towards the Dark Side, the more you must
operate that way. The Dark Side is powerful, but it tends to enslave those who follow it.
If you make your Cool+Meditation roll against the requisite difficulty, you gain a hardened notch and, as is usual with the madness meter system, are thereafter immune to stresses with a rank equal to or under your number of hardened notches. You've gained enough control over your emotions that stimuli of that level no longer bother you.
This sounds pretty sweet (and it is), but there is a downside. Force sensitive types can only attain this kind of emotional control by separating themselves from the Force a little. Gradually, you learn to feel the Force's ebb and flow less and less, until at 10 hardened notches, you've cut yourself off from it entirely. A character wtih 10 hardened notches cannot use willpower points of either stripe, can't use Force powers, etc. A character with fewer than 10 hardened notches can use Force powers, but applies their number of hardened notches as a difficulty rating to any attempt to draw on the Light Side.
You can get rid of hardened notches through extensive meditation with some sort of master/mentor figure. You roll Cool+Meditation while your master rolls Command+Meditation. Each roll has your current hardened notches as its difficulty rating. Each time both you and your master succeed, you remove a hardened notch. Each attempt takes 16-width (of the widest roll) hours.
Now for an example: Wroon the Jedi knight currently has two hardened and one failed notch in his guage. During a fight, an enemy threatens to kill the secret love of his life. This is a difficulty 6 challenge. Wroon rolls a 2x5 on his Cool+Meditation roll - not bad, but not enough to see him through. He spazzes out for a few rounds and gains a failed notch. If he choses to draw on the Dark Side during the fight, he'll have two bonus willpower points that he can only use to smite his enemies or betray his friends.
After the fight, Wroon wants to clear his head and recover some willpower points. He rolls Cool+Meditation again, getting a 3x4. This is above the difficulty imposed by his two hardened notches, so he recovers three willpower points over two rounds.
Eventually, Wroon will have an opportunity to meditate with Master Boshk and try to re-centre himself. He rolls Cool+Meditation, getting a 2x3. Boshk rolls Command+Meditation, getting a 4x1. While Wroon is making slow progress, Boshk hasn't yet figured him out well enough to be helpful, and Wroon keeps both his hardened notches. The attempt has taken 12 hours.