Saturday, June 29, 2013

I will admit it... I am addicted to dice.

Once upon a time, I got into gaming and realized I wanted my own dice.
Back then, the game was Dungeons and Dragons and I spent a good few weeks worth of my allowance to buy myself my first set of dice.

I think I bought two sets back then, or was given extra dice.  I forget.  But basically these dice were (to my memory) the first gaming dice I ever had.  They were to join me from Basic to Master to Expert set, then eventually after a brief stint with Top Secret, Marvel Super Heroes and Star Frontiers, a leap to Companion then the gold-covered Immortals set.

I remember eventually begging for my friends for more dice and got these remnants to keep.  My first batch of crystal dice which back then was like the MOSTAWESOMETHINGEVER.    I started using these dice whenever critical hits were rolled for extra damage.  They just seemed cooler that way.

Of course, getting enthralled with cool dice meant looking for more cool dice.  And around that time, I found tiny shops that sold them individually.  I forget how much dice costed back then.  All I know is, I wanted more! MORE!  (on a side note,you can see how these dice look more worn down than the others.  Heheheh!)

What could be better than Crystal...

...GLITTERS!  Hahaha!  And these two golden glittery dice were probably the gayest dice I ever had.  Back then, mind you, I still had no inkling that I wasn't straight.  But man, these dice definitely caught my eye in a way directly opposite of how Liberace turned me off.

More individual dice followed.  Yes, the games were pretty much deeply immersed in Dungeons and Dragons.  From the boxed sets, 2nd edition quickly followed.  Advanced Dungeons and Dragons as well as Forgotten Realms were soon to become our staple games.  Dragonlance was a close option, but given the only one who knew the game enough to run it was the guy who really wanted to play in it, we never got to play it in the end.

My next foray into buying dice would soon come thanks to White Wolf Gaming Studio's Storyteller System. The idea of playing a game wholly with the use of d10s was absurd and just so crazy that I had to get my own set.  

And another.  With these green d10s being the dice I would use for a very long time.  Around this time, the usual gaming shops started to close.  Here in Manila, the gaming shops closed up and a few comic shops remained willing to cater to gaming.  So I made the most of the closing shops and raided their bins.

I gathered all the black d10s I could in hopes of creating a set of ten.  Like I said, White Wolf had me by the balls by then.  I wanted to have moody dark dice!

But given the real decline of options, I started to just grab whatever dice I could find.  Matching them or creating sets no longer seemed as vital an option. Nor a requirement.  Having dice was!

There was admittedly a joy to seeing the basic red dice of before.  It just had a cool quality to seeing dice of that shade.

This (and I think there's a second one but it got mixed with the others above) are my marble green Vampire dice.  I honestly cannot recall where I got them.  I think there was a convention in Los Angeles (Strategicon) where I ran Vampire and at the end of the game, one of my players handed it to me to keep claiming it was the best game he ever had.  But then again, I might be recalling a happy dream rather than a real event.  But yeah, these dice are very pretty.

It was only a matter of time until I hunted for shiny crystal d10s.  I blame getting really into EXALTED for this.  A pity I couldn't find full dice sets...

At this point, even most comic shops STOPPED carrying role-playing game stuff.  And the few hobby shops that did started to focus on either Magic Cards, or miniature games.  Dice was a dying commodity.  And I started to just grab whatever I could find.  It sounds sad, but its true.

This set of whites are from a bunch of different board games just like the earlier three above.  I think these whites were from either an Nuclear War boardgame, Cluedo, and maybe even a few other board games.

These Crystal set of weirdly sized d6s were found in a bookstore.  They were sold as a set.  I think they were intended for gambling games.  But hey, I wanted dice.  

Such as these very TINY dice.  So tiny you can line all these up on a single finger.  I don't think we'd ever use them in a game, but they just seemed to fun to have.   

I found these.. uh... dice in another bookstore.  The faces are 4, 8,16,32 and 64.   Why?  I have no idea.  What for?  Don't ask me. I just wanted to have new dice that day.

These were another odd find. A whole set of d12s.  I have no idea what games out there use a whole set of d12s, but the bookstore had them so I got them.  

A good friend then gave me this as a gift.  My own set of official New World of Darkness d10s.  They came with this lovely velvet pouch bag to boot.  After this gift, I realized, "That's it I am going to buy dice when I want nice dice."  

Chessex.  Oh Chessex.  You would be earning a lot from me in the months to come.   (And that's only because I've yet to dive into purchasing from online shops... just cause I know I will have trouble NOT purchasing once I start!  I mean, look at Kickstarter.  I just supported one project.. and now I have over twelve projects that I backed... tsk tsk!)  These d6s are smaller than the usual, but I felt it might be good to have a lot for our Houses of the Blooded games.

It is not as awesome as having ACTUAL Houses of the Blooded dice though!  This I got for being a backer to John Wick's Houses of the Blooded Wilderness book.  They came with the book, the patch, and a batch of Style Points too!

Remember my lament of not finding a complete set of shiny Crystal dice?  Well, to celebrate the upcoming 3rd edition of Exalted, I decided to snag myself a set of golden d10s.

The color won me over.  This set of d6s has green for the body and gold for the numbers.  They just look very beautiful and remind me of Robotech/Orguss for some reason.  Sighs.  

This silvery-purple set of dice is my latest full set since my Dungeons and Dragons days.  It is interesting how the d4s are approached differently now (they used to be "read the base" and now its "read the top") and I am kind of irked with the way the d10s force you to read it in multiples of ten.  But they're still nice dice.  They weren't my first choice though.  The set I really wanted (a fiery gold and red one) was the set of dice my boss liked, so I opted to let him get those instead and kept this (which I originally intended for him.)  Its okay.  They're still my babies.

Then you get these dice.  The Chinese faces are just lovely to look at.  I'll probably commit racial sacrilege by using these to run Blood and Honor games (Japan setting) but I clearly need to look for more Wuxia games that use d6s.

Finally, we have these dice which were a hoot that we found at Paradigm Infinitum in Midpoint Orchard, Singapore.  The faces show happy, sad, angry, and indifferent faces and should be a cool fast way to generate an NPC's mood on the first meeting.  I just like how quirky they look.

So yeah.  That seems like a LOT of dice, doesn't it?  Many non-gamer friends look at me oddly when I happily talk about buying dice.  So far, the easiest way to explain it was this way:  It's like shoes for women. You can never have enough.  Sometimes you want to buy them to fit a mood you have.  Other times you want to buy them cause they're pretty.  Or cute.  Or nice.  The point is, you can never have too many.

I've lost a lot of dice in the many years that have passed too.  That includes dice like these fuzzy dice I used to have for conventions (I used to go around dressed up like some weird 8-bit inspired character, and challenged people to "Fight" by having them roll against me.  Each time they rolled higher, I lost a heart.  Any time they removed all three hearts, I gave them a pouch of crystals.  It was fun! And introduced a lot of people who never gamed to the idea that dice and an imagined challenge can be awesome.)

And I am still anticipating getting myself some Fate dice... and others.

Oh dice.

I do enjoy non-dice based games like Castle Falkenstein or Psychosis and I do have plans to expanding my horizons to games like Amber, but you will never ever convince me to stop having more dice.

Dice is love.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Game Idea: Celebrating Pride in your Game this Weekend

Celebrating Pride in your Game this Weekend
by Tobie Abad

We're celebrating Pride this weekend and I thought I should at least have some stupid Pride-themed post to celebrate it with a geeky twist.  So here are some gaming suggestions on how to celebrate Pride in your game this weekend.   If you get to add it to your game this weekend, good for you!

Dungeons and Dragons, Dungeon World, and all similarly themed games
Arcane Magic casters (such as Wizards, Sorcerers, etc) best prepare Color Spray and cast it on the first hateful monster they see.  More learned ones can prepare Prismatic Ray or Wall spells to make an even bigger statement.   Paladins can spend the session calling for the need for certain people to be given their freedom or to be treated equally.

Monster Hearts, Apocalypse World
Switch the Dark/Weird stat with Pride and all moves are now given a much more fabulous touch of fiction.   Oh and for this session only, the Fae, the Vampire, the Werewolf, the Witch and the Queen (for Apocalypse World, I'll let you guys decide) all get +2 to rolls when using Pride, but only if they're serving fishy realness.  Remember though, gay does not have to mean gender-bending.  There are a lot of non-effeminate gay guys just as there are a lot of feminine lesbians out there.  So don't feel you have to go campy just to give a touch of pride into your game.  But don't think campy is bad either! Just know the difference between loving the camp and making fun of it.

World of Darkness, Shadowrun, Shadows of Esteren, and other "dark games"
You can do it two ways:  One is to highlight the true existing struggle for LGBT to gain equality and acceptance, and have scenes which give players a chance to fight back or explore the themes of the struggle discrimination.  But that might be too serious for some groups that just want to play to have awesome moments.  For that, my second suggestion is that you throw in your i-take-no-nonesense gay character inspired by characters like Lafayette or as sizzlingly confident and disarming as Kinky Boots' Lola.  We've had enough crazy gay serial killers, thank you.  Let's have cooler gay NPCs join the fun.

Houses of the Blooded
The ven are fabulous.  Maybe it is time for them to be upstaged by the House of the Bear.  Bears are impressive.  And Tenacious, after all.

Throw in a gender-bending episode where the Inspectres crew have to deal with an incident where a whole town has turned gay.   And just as they realize the cause, decide on how to handle things when they realize the affected people aren't quite unhappy with their new life.   Do they choose for them?  Or do they live and let live?

There are odd colors today post Slab today.  An endless parade marches down the streets.  Even the Spiders are mesmerized.  Is this a chance to dive DEEPER?  Or is this the worst time to explore the Blue City.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, DC Heroes and other Super Hero Games
Time to give the gay characters the spotlight for the weekend.  Maybe Northstar contacts the players to deal with a living plague.  Or maybe Wiccan and Hulkling visit the players from an alternate time-line and ask them to help out as a nation devotes itself into Hate.      Heck, go all out and run a Vertigo-inspired game answering the question, "What happens when Desire of the Endless is allowed 24-hours to explore his/her own heart's desire?"

Dice Rolling Games
Maybe for this session, any rolls that have to do with freedom, peace, equality, acceptance, love and beauty get a bonus to their roll.  You can explain it away as magical effect, as a skewing of probabilities due to a quantum influence  caused by billions of people thinking of the same thought that moment, or just a quirk that seems to happen every June.

Or throw in a colorful die and tell players they always roll it with their normal rolls, and once in the game session each player can opt to use the colorful die's result instead as their own.

Card-based Systems
The Hearts get the bonus. It doesn't matter why or what for.  So long as it has to do with Hearts it gets the bonus.  After all, hearts are all that matter.  Not whats between the legs.

What We Can Do Without
Gay jokes.  Gay bashing.  Gay used as a word to mean something bad, negative, or disliked.    We don't need more hate.  We don't need to be presented as caricatures to be made fun off.  Or feared as crazy or insane.  So, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar is a yes.  Modern Family is a yes.  New Normal is stereotype-y but works.  Apollo and Midnighter is awesome, but only if you ignore the New 52.  Sam Adama of Caprica and Jack Harness of Torchwood are good guides if you want a non-campy approach.  Glee... tries to cross the spectrum but tends to wallow in stereotypes, but is acceptable enough.  But please, let's cut down on Silence of the Lambs type of portrayals.  Or have cross-dressing as a scene to laugh at the idea of men wearing women's clothing (or vice versa).

Let's just celebrate the unity, the love and the happiness of a world that is slowly taking steps forward.

Happy Pride!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Show Of Evil

A Show of Evil
by Tobie Abad

So you have players who insist they want to be evil characters.   Maybe they're the minority in the group.  Or maybe they outnumber the ones who want to be heroes.  And after considering things, and talking to all your players, in the end you have all decided to still go for it because yes, it can be fun.

Here are some things to consider adding or bringing up with the group to make the game more interesting:

1) The No Kill Rule
A mixed group of good and evil can sometimes spell very rapid character deaths.  The Paladin might decide he HAS to hunt and kill the evil Assassin.  Or the Fallen Angel might make it a point to destroy the Saint.

Tell them: Don't.
Instead, remind them that the game can remain more fun if a no-kill rule applies.    And once they feel its a stupid rule because there's no fun if the good/bad guy doesn't terminally deal with the other, quickly shoot off the following examples:  Batman and the Joker, The Devil and God, and practically any other franchise that features a hero and his rival villain.

For the Hero, the concept of redemption will always be there.  There may be a time the villain can be rehabilitated. Or can be made to understand the evil he does.  And if not, there's the idea that the hero MUST not become the villain.  He must never cross that line.  And at its most basic, maybe the hero does want to cross the line, and can, but if he does so, the villain has the last laugh.  In the end, the hero's pride keeps him from letting the villain win.    (And if the player does kill the villain, tell the player of the villain to feel free to HAUNT the hero for the rest of the game.  Or be sure to throw the full weight of his actions upon him in later narrative arcs.)

For the Villain, the hero must be broken down.  The hero must be made to give up.  Killing him is easy, but removes all the fun and fulfillment of being evil.  Killing him removes the point of being his dark reflection.  And in the end, if he does kill him, the Hero player can always create someone who wants to avenge the old character.  The game can continue, but now the stakes definitely may change.

Remind both players a "killing" moment makes for a great climactic moment in a story.  So to time it well, rather than just make it something that happens by accident.  Or by opportunity.  And remind them this no killing rule applies only to each other.  All other non-player characters are free game.

2) RewardsWhether or not the game itself has an existing system, be sure to create a reward system for whenever either player acts in full accordance to his preferred role.  The Hero must gain something for doing good things, such as saving total strangers, or doing "the right thing" even if it may be to his own detriment.  While the Villain gets something for showing cruelty, or for having moments of megalomania and the like.    This way, the two feel the distinct difference in their roles.  The Hero who opts to resort to violence does NOT get the extra fruits of his decision.  The Villain who shows compassion does not get the bonus for being nice.

This ties in to the fact that if you want to encourage an approach, you show a benefit for doing it.

Maybe the reward can be a bonus they can apply to their roles.  Or maybe, plan and simple (which can work for almost all games out there), each time they receive the "bonus" they get a token which they can cash in to reroll any roll whose result they did not like.

3)  TemptationsOn the flip side, you might want to throw temptations in.  Sort of, throw small systems to see how hard and determined the player is in embracing their chosen role.  The Hero might get the bonus whenever he resorts to violence, cruelty, and breaking his word.  The Villain might be thrown allies, friends, and other bonuses for free whenever he decides to sincerely try kindness.  Or care for someone.  Or even just doing it in reverse, by making such allies and advantages cost time and effort to have as a villain, but come easily when he does good.

Tempt them to stray from their roles.
This should give birth to pretty cool role-playing opportunities.

4) Show me you mean it
My last suggestion was one I've embraced for any game where a player might opt to kill/sacrifice or otherwise eliminate another player character from the story.  Firstly, this applies only to games where I've made it clear to all players that character death will be something that happens in the game. While in some games the players enjoy a "no kill unless you really act stupid or is dramatically appropriate" rule, I've run other games where I've made it clear, "There is no fate or destiny in this game.  If you die, then you die."

So in such a game, if a player, for example, opts to literally sacrifice the others to save himself/others... have them walk up to the player whose characters were killed, face them as they pick up the character sheet (and yes, the other player is free to plead, beg, and do everything save for touching the other player to convince them to reconsider), and tear it up in front of the other without breaking eye contact.

This was my version of "Show me you mean it" and nicely, it has worked wonderfully in practice.

Hope you find these ideas fun!
Do let me know if you tried them out.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Steps Towards Releasing My Own Game

Here's a very quick peek at Girls Elsewhere, the upcoming expansion to Josh Jordan's Heroine.   I was fortunate enough to be part of the book and my contribution Gabi, the Isles of Night.    Gotta admit, this is a very lovely book and the game is pretty awesome too.  The fact the imagery always uses photos is a huge plus in giving the game a distinct feel.

Here's hoping you guys will all be supportive and grab a copy once the book is released.    I should get my full review of the game out soon, but admittedly I want to run it a few times before I write one up (since there are people who are a stickler about that sort of stuff).   Try Heroine today.  This game allows you to relive the wonderful labyrinths and looking glasses that whisper, "Adventure!"

Check out Heroine at Drivethrurpg today.

Review: Castle Falkenstein

Castle Falkenstein
by Michael Pondsmith
R. Talsorian Games
Rating: ★★★★

Castle Falkenstein was a game I first encountered way back in the early 2000s.  I was not quite that interested in steampunk games (and admittedly, I've never heard of steampunk back then) and thus this game pretty much zipped past my radar.  It wasn't until my friend Adrian brought over his collection of books one day to have me hold on to for the time being within the last two years or so that I found myself having a chance to explore the game at last.  And man, I have to say, this game is very impressive, and on first glance, extremely intimidating.

How Can a Game be Intimidating?
Well, first of all, the game does not use dice.  Now at this day and age, many gamers out there are probably not as fazed as I was to hear about a role-playing game that does not use dice.  But for old timers such as myself, not that many games back then were brave enough to enter a diceless approach (I can only recall Psychosis and Amber to be diceless systems during that time.  I'm certain there were probably others, but I was not aware of them.)  In Castle Falkenstein, two decks of cards are used - because you see, Gentlemen and people of Nobility play with cards, not dice.

What?  Why Should That Matter?
Oh, sorry.  Let me back up.   Castle Falkenstein is an incredible role-playing game set in a mythical Victorian Age New Europa where Dragons exist, Steampower fuels the world, Sorcery shapes fate and Swords clash in the name of High Romance.  In Castle Falkenstein, a world of swashbuckling adventure crosses paths with exotic Faerie powers and Fictional Characters come to life.    The main book contains 224 pages, with many of the pages beautifully rendered in full color as the narrator, a computer game designer named Tom Olam attempts to explain to the reader the magical world he has been pulled into, and how everything he has learned in this world is now the game which you are being invited to play.

Character Concepts for Dramatic Characters (their term for Player Characters) in the game range from sword-dueling Gentlemen to Criminal Masterminds, from Sorcerers to Faerie Lords, from Secret Agents to News Reporters, with character sheets being small notebooks that are intended to be updated as the players explore more New Europa and write down their diary entries of their experiences.   At the very onset, players are asked to decide if they are Good or Evil, for in Castle Falkenstein you are either one or the other.  A very generous list of questions follow, to help you get a better grasp of your character concept, appearance, and experiences even before you consider the character's stats.  Then, from a list of over twenty abilities (more if you add the other source books), players choose the skills that will have ratings.  One ability is given the rating of Great, four then have it at Good, and one is at Poor.  Everything else remains at Average.

These ratings are important in that the game's system relies on seeing if the appropriate ratings plus a played card to match the difficulty of an attempted action. Poor equals two, Average equals four, Good equals six, up to Extraordinary, which equals twelve. For example, a Dramatic Character might attempt to leap from a zeppelin to the roof of a tower.    If the act was deemed to have a Difficulty of Good , and the Dramatic Character had an Athletics of Good, then the played card becomes tremendously important in determining whether or not the character will succeed.    

Sounds Very Interesting!  So, you mentioned Cards?
The game uses a standard deck of cards (not a Tarot deck) and the first deck is intended to be used for all resolutions necessary save one:  Sorcery.  For Sorcery, a second separate standard deck is needed.  The suit of the card is tremendously important, with each suit allowing you to add the face card's value to the ability rating if applicable.  Diamonds apply to Mental and Intellectual challenges, Spades apply to Social challenges especially when social status is vital, Hearts apply to most Emotional challenges, and finally Clubs apply to all Physical challenges.   So if you were attempting the said leap above, playing an eight of hearts only adds one to your final result, whereas playing a five of clubs would add the full value of five.  For face cards, Jacks are 11 points, Queens are 12 points, Kings are 13 points, Aces are 14 points, and Jokers are a whopping 15 points.

There are five possible levels of success in the game:  Fumbles are when the player has half or less than the needed number.  Failures are when the player merely has less than the needed number.  Partial Success happens when the player beats the needed number.  Full Success happens when the player's total is half again or more of the needed score.  And finally, a High Success is when a player's score is double the needed number.

Since a player can only have a hand of four cards, and all players and the Host (the term for the Game Master) all draw from the same deck, some level of tactical planning can help you calculate the risk and chances of winning.

For Sorcery, the cards work in a similar matter, but the suits determine instead the type of magical effects the cards resonate with.  Drawing more cards for Sorcery takes an amount of time to "gather up" the energy, and using cards of the wrong suit can "taint" the final manifestation of the effect.

Combat Is A Tad Tricky

At its most basic, the game uses the same system for combat, however, the amount of damage dealt depends on the weapon used and the level of success accomplished in the attack.  It is not uncommon for Dramatic Characters to possibly be felled by two or three good hits.  But working with the genre, felled characters are not dead unless the attacked then delivers a deliberate killing blow (similar to how in DC Heroes, Killing Combat has to be declared).  Given the genre, women are also typically not attacked physically.  Instead, they are subject to being disabled by making them swoon, which happens due to rough treatment, intense social confrontation and the like.

For duels, the two characters have a hand of six cards (made of two red cards, two black cards and two face cards, their values here are irrelevant).  Each beat of the duel, both reveal two of the six cards, with red cards representing as attacks, black cards representing defenses, and face cards as rests.    The Fencing skill of the character determines how often a character must take a chance to Rest after a number of exchanges.  As part of the fun, it is recommended that players stand up during duels, and take positions as appropriate during the exchanges.  Once one does not have enough room to move back, wounds can then be dealt.

Adventure!  Ambition! Action!Castle Falkenstein is definitely a game that will thrill you in more ways than expected.  And while the book is filled with lots of character concepts and pre-written templates, players are welcome to come up with their own spin on how to stat the sky pirates, arcane wizards and the like.  The book even specifically suggests that players talk with the Host on coming up with their own Abilities to fit their own games better.

Rating Breakdown:Concept: A definite win.  I love how the game nicely mixes mythology, fiction and real world touches.  This is literally a game where you might consult with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In this game, you might duel with a Daoine Sidhe while atop a crashing zeppelin that is being flanked by fire-breathing dragons.
Crunch: There are a lot of concerns in reviews online about the rankings being confusing for the player to connect to the numerical ratings, but I personally feel this is a tiny concern.  The bigger concern I feel is on getting used to a game where dice aren't rolled, combat is different depending on actual combat and dueling, and where men and non-heroic women approach damage differently.
Layout: The book needs an index.  I am not sure if the Drivethru PDF versions finally have an index added to them, but it really is hard to tell for certain.   It can be a tad challenging also to go through the book to learn the system since the book wasn't laid out the way most books are with the crunch in one area and the fluff in another.
My favorite part: I definitely love the Dueling rules.  They very nicely capture the feel of a duel, with moments of wondering if its time to strike, defend or take a breather.    The "larp" aspect makes it even more awesome as the player has to be sure there's enough space to maneuver and adjust when necessary.
What I wish was better: The support the game got.  Really.  This game deserves more love.

Are you ready to face those dastardly scoundrels?
Available at Drivethru rpg.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hitting my Twelve Game Target!

So I made a promise to run or at least try playing twelve new systems this 2013.  As I mentioned in this post,  the idea of this being I discover one new system for each month.  I realize now that I've definitely achieved this goal far faster than expected.

My list as of June has already exceeded my twelve game target!  And boy what a mix of games it is.  We got a lot of old stuff, a bunch of new ones, and a few story-focused games which really opened my eyes to how much more options for fun exist in role-playing games.   

Games I've Run:
Houses of the Blooded: Wilderness
Our Best Last Hope
Blood and Honor
The Aegis Project
Wilderness of Mirrors
Castle Falkenstein
Dungeon World
World of Darkness: The God Machine Chronicle
Fate Accelerated Edition
Monster Hearts

Games I have played in:
Shadows of Esteren
Rocky's home-brewed The Gossamer Saga

So yeah, I am feeling pretty awesome about this.   I am wondering if I should make this a yearly habit.  Although that might make me feel like "not touching" certain games until the next year comes along, which of course is not a good idea.

But yeah it feels great having explored all these games and there's no denying the insight and ideas one can find in the various systems which can be used to enhance each other.  I only hope more people try doing something like this as well.  

And here's to even more games to come!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The God Machine Chronicle ep01 : World of Darkness

A God Machine Chronicle
Episode One

"The One in the White Suit"

World of Darkness

Finally got a chance to dive into an actual God Machine inspired chronicle (which also means I can now write my God Machine Chronicle review post and release it soon!) and I have to admit that the mix of characters and players is pretty awesome.  You have Rocky, my partner, who is the long time gamer in the group.  You have Marvin, who played some time ago but hasn't had a chance in a very long time.  And finally, you have Jeffrey who has never played a game... ever.  And all three were about to discover the strange existence of the God Machine in this World of Darkness mini-chronicle.

Jeffrey plays Wyatt Matthews, a 25-year old fantasy writer whose original book series, The Dark Summoning, caught the world by a storm.  The pressures to release more books resulted with The God Machine, Dark Materials and the Dark Angel Trilogy titles which raised a tide of negative reviews that many wondered if Matthews was simply a one hit wonder.   Wyatt is Idealistic, thought at times acts Cowardly and aspires to Find Inspiration and Start Writing his next Best Seller.
Skills: Academics 5, Streetwise 3, Expression 3, Investigation 3 Specialties: Fantasy Lore, Writing, Research
Merits: Encyclopedic Knowledge, Trained Observer, Hobbyist Clique, Fame 1, Resources:1, Multilingual (Spanish, Chinese), Striking Looks:1, Safe Place 1
Wyatt has no familial ties, having intentionally moved to New York to get as far as possible from his parents. Mara Suarez, his editor and publicist, is the closest thing he has to a friend.

Marvin plays Ronald Tanneberger, a 29-year old who is known as Lux Club's DJ Champ. Though Patient, the young man has Prideful moments, and aspires to Settle his Existing Debts.
Skills: Expression 3, Persuasion 3 Specialties: Music, Cars, Vices
Merits: Direction Sense, Eidetic Memory, Contacts (2: Dealers, Professional Sex Workers), Fame: 2, Resources:1, Ambidextrous, Parkour 3, Ally 1(Policeman “Officer Graham Conners”), Safe Place 2
Ronald's mother, Lisa lives in the city with his younger sister, Zoey.  Also in town is Uncle Ronald.  Ronald has recently broke up with his girlfriend, Toni.

Rocky plays Seth Macintyre, a
35-year old Psychic whose clients contact him for services ranging from fortune telling to speaking with their dead loved ones. Seth's Ambitious streak is often brought low by his Laziness. He aspires to score an eventual TV deal and become one of those more popular psychics on television.
Skills: Athletics, Brawl, Empathy, Persuasion 3 Specialties: Fortune-telling, Math, Body Language
Merits: Eidetic Memory, Trained Observer 3, Fast Talking 1, Resources: 2, Striking Looks 2, Defensive Combat: Brawl, Unarmed Defense: 4, Encyclopedic Knowledge, Fast Reflexes 3
Seth's parents are out of state, living at the midwest. His younger sister, Stacey, is currently in California for college.

The scene opens with Wyatt struggling on his novel, staring at a blank page and trying to come up with something new to write about.  He dreads the idea of returning to any of his old work and hopes to finally find something that will inspire him.  Mara calls him, asking for an update, and Wyatt admits that he hasn't really "finished" working on the outline yet.  When Mara demands for an idea what it is about, Wyatt blurts out it will be a story set in New York City, with a fantasy touch to the narrative.  The story will explore a new set of characters.   Mara senses he's making things up on the spot and asks him if he needs her help to jog his creativity into action.  "I can hire someone to help you.  The last time you wrote, you were recovering from that break-up with Rennard."  Wyatt tries to skirt around the issue, but Mara clearly seems to be very well informed in his activities.  Almost as if she literally has cameras watching him 24/7.  But given Wyatt has spent most of the downpayment for the next novel, Mara insists that she will come by to help him out.
Elsewhere, DJ Champ is staring at KaQoH's goons as the gang banger demands he pay the money he owes him.  DJ Champ had once borrowed around $800 from KaQoH and now he's come to collect the money, but having just woken up from a drunken night of partying, DJ Champ definitely has no means to pay up.  Taking his backpack of LP records as collateral, DJ Champ convinces KaQoH to give him a few hours to cough out the money somewhere.  He rushes off and considers his options, eventually settling at a nearby diner to grab a coffee while he thinks of what he will do.    That's when a man in a denim jacket, wearing a black and yellow striped shirt joins him at his table and asks if he is "Matt."  Choosing to take advantage of the situation, DJ Champ says yes and to his surprise, he is given a very thick envelope filled with cash.  At first, DJ Champ thinks the man assumed he was some kind of escort or prostitute, but then the man mumbles, "Thank God, she's not going to die.." and hurriedly leaves the diner.  DJ Champ hurries out to follow the man but loses him at an alleyway where two large condominium buildings stand.

And in some wealthy man's house, Seth is in a seance with the man, his wife, and their elderly mother.  The family has their hands holding each other's and their heads held low with their eyes closed as Seth leads them through the seance to try and reach their loved one.  Seth's eyes scan the room to find something useful, having not been given much information by George about who had passed on.  "I.. can sense something orange," Seth mutters, making things up and Mary, the wife, starts mumbling something about the food bowl being orange! Seth realizes the dead loved one is a dog and sees in a large portrait that the family has two: a German Shepherd and a Great Dane.   One is named Bruno and the other, Jakey.  Seth hears the scratching sound of the other dog by the closed door and realizes only one of the dogs had died.  He decides to take a stab in the dark and mutters, "I can hear... bells.. why do I hear bells..." and quickly scans the family for any body language or hints he can use in the con.  To his surprise, the husband looks.. anxious as a cold sweat dots his brow.  He carefully observes him more and notes he is recently showered, a hint of a red stain is visible on his collar, and most importantly there is a strand of blonde hair on his clothes.  The wife is a brunette.  The husband cracks as Seth prods, with words carefully chosen to suggest an affair was happening.  As it turns out, the other woman had bought a tiny collar with a bell for the dog as a gift, and while the two were cheating on the bed, the dog had swallowed the collar and bell.  Unwilling to have the dog brought to the vet, and questioned on why the thing was in his stomach (and more importantly, where it came from), George had run over the dog, dug out the collar and bell from the remains, and thrown it outside with the trash.  He then feigned the dog's death to have been done by some random stranger and told his wife of its demise.

Angered by her husband's infidelity, Mary signed away to Seth all of the money intended for the dog upon their death, and Seth quickly walked away before the husband could complain.  Seth found it unnerving however that the Great Dane, "Bruno" stared at him as he walked away - almost as if it knew what he had done.  The traffic lights act odd, however, at an intersection, with the lights seemingly showing a nonsensical series of directions:  Blank.. Up, Right, Left, a blinking moment, then down, down, right, down...  Seth opts to squeeze through the growing traffic knot to get past it before things get worse.

Minutes later, Seth found the paramedics gathered by the entrance of one of the condo buildings close to where he lived.  Smelling opportunity, he walked towards the scene and saw a distraught man talking to the paramedics.  Repeatedly, the man muttered confusion on why she would kill herself.  "She.. wasn't supposed to kill herself..."  Seth notes the wedding ring around the man's finger and approaches him to offer "support."  Easily gaining his trust, the man guides Seth up to the condo unit while Seth tries to gather what had happened.  Seth knows he doesn't have much time before the cops show up to look at the scene, but this man is too ripe an opportunity to run another con.

Wyatt decides to step out and try to find some inspiration while outside his home.  He watches people of all sorts all around him enjoying life, with their loved ones, or their children, and in some ways ponders on how his life had taken unexpected turns in the last few months.  The sudden fame was but one of the things which came so suddenly and faded just as quickly.  

A woman is staring at him.  Wyatt notices this woman in rags and matted hair staring at him with a whimsical smile.  He has never seen her before but her fascinated stare unnerves him because it seems like the kind one gives a long lost friend.   "Rey!"   The woman calls him that name but Wyatt repeatedly tries to explain she has the wrong man.  She then shifts her approach and replies, "I get it... You're 'not' Rey.  Can you tell 'Rey' if you 'find' him that I'm here?"   Perturbed, Wyatt decides to hurry off before she can say anything more.
DJ Champ calls KaQoH and the two map out a place to meet up.  He decides to tell KaQoH to meet him at the very subway station he currently is at.  At least there's enough people here to dissuade a violent scene.  As far as DJ Champ is concerned, he's got the cash to finally pay up and settle the problem.  He calls his friend, Officer Conners, and tells him where he is and what situation he is in.  Conners isn't too happy, admitting he's too far away to get there and help out.  "You'll have to buy some time."   While waiting and worrying on how to delay the pay out, DJ Champ bumps into a young beautiful blonde woman whose bag pops open from the impact.  As her headshots scattered all around, DJ Champ quickly grabbed what he could and handed it back to her.  That was when he realized he recognized her.  Though he could not recall her name, he realized she was someone he had hung out with during the partying the night before.  Or perhaps some other previous night.  He recalled she liked cars.  Was a bit-role actress who had appeared in a few shows as an extra.  As he tries to get her name once again, and muses about exchanging numbers, she gently tries to turn him down by explaining, "Not my thing.." It takes DJ Champ a few more exchanges before she clarifies more directly, "I'm kind of... into women.  So yeah, you're not my thing."

KaQoH arrives.  DJ Champ notices how the man stares at the blonde woman, and quickly suggests that she go.  Feeling she had embarrassed him, the blonde offers her number now, offering to at least be in touch as friends.  To DJ Champ's relief, the gangster doesn't stop her from walking  away.  He does ask DJ Champ for her name, which he admits he does not know.  He pays KaQoH, who hands him his backpack with records back, and during the confusion as people exit a recently arrived train, DJ Champ maneuvers into the train to leave KaQoH at the terminal.  The train begins to move and DJ Champ realizes there is no one else on the train save for a single person.  And this person is a bare-footed woman with messed up matted hair, rags for clothing, and to DJ Champ's disbelief, the exact same face as the blonde woman he had just spoken with!

Seth and the man in the "bee" shirt arrive at the condo unit and the man finally warms up enough to Seth to give his name, "Graham" and explain what had happened.  He tells him of how she was having some problems and had been attending some kind of self-help seminar which was being organized by a Mister Nose.  There were 18 people who have been attending the seminars.  9 couples to be more precise.  The group would chant a strange mantra, which supposedly was meant to help make their lives run smoother:  Horn, Ambulance, Check the Train, Road, Information, Question the Gift, Question the Man, Check the No Truck, Check the twin stars, two boxes sound, Horn, Ambulance, Check the Train, Ambulance, Check the Question, Truck, Check the twin stars, Gift the Circle man, Check the No X Information, Question the Gift, Check the Box, Check the Information Circle two boxes.   It did not make any sense.    Seth hears footsteps closing and realizes the police officer was seconds from arriving at the door.  Graham explains that he found his wife dead in the bathroom, having slit her wrists with vertical cuts, and stayed inside the warm tub of water to keep the blood flowing.  His voice broke as he tries to explain how he had paid someone to promise she wouldn't die...

A knock.

Seth answers the door to find a police officer standing outside.  To his surprise, the officer looks exactly like Graham.  Only better groomed and more fit.  Seth throws a few flirtatious lines and yes, the man also is into that.  

Wyatt arrives home to find someone at his condo.   With "These Boots are Made for Walking" playing in the background, he finds his editor and publicist Mara sitting with her boots on the table.  She is smoking and letting the ashes fall on his immaculately clean and organized table as she looks at him and asks him for the pages.  When Wyatt admits he hasn't written any, she offers him a suggestion:  "24 hours.  Give me your complete outline or I shall activate Promo Number Four."  Wyatt winces as he recalls that cancelled promotion:  It was to allow a fan a date with him.  He didn't like the idea of dating a fan, especially a female fan.  Mara ups the ante and tells him, "I'll give you two days.  But if you fail, you'll have DOUBLE the promotion.  Two dates.  And the second one, will be a MALE fan."  Wyatt realizes she is threatening to have him out himself if he doesn't get the pages he promised her.

A door bell.

Mara heads to the door to answer it.  Wyatt rushes to clean the table.  But then hears Mara fall to the ground with a heavy thud after answering the door.  As he turns ask what happened, he sees a strange figure standing outside his door.

The man is in all white.  Fedora.  Suit.  Pants.  Shoes.  Belt.  Everything a single shade of white.  His skin was pale, and his eyes an almost dull gray, giving the impression of empty white orbs for eyes.  The man held a small canister in one outstretched hand, and started shaking it upon seeing Wyatt come into view.  

The strange woman started laughing upon seeing DJ Champ, and DJ Champ walks down the moving train to head for the door that will give him access to the next train.  He hears her muttering a strange mantra of directions, and tries to ignore her gibbering.  "Underscore, up, right, left, time, down, big down, right, big down, diagonal, right, big diagonal.."  As he enters the next train he sees a lone man sitting on the chair in tattered clothes and wild hair.  As the man looks up at him, DJ Champ realizes the man looks exactly like the man who had given him the envelope of money.  The man screams at DJ Champ and runs straight for him!

Seth watches curiously as the police officer questions Graham, and actually hears the officer joke about how he's "Graham Conners," and how the witness is named, "Graham Collins."  As the police officer talks to his "doppleganger" about what happened, Seth decides to exit and leave them to talk.  As he opens the door, however, he sees a figure standing at the open doorway dressed in all white.  His description matches Graham's description of Mister Nose!  The man sprays something from a small canister onto Seth's face, and Seth pushes the man back, staggering down the hallway in hopes of getting away.  He calls out to the officer for help!  Officer Conners appears, pistol drawn, and yells at Mister Nose to stop.  But when the man doesn't, Conners fires a shot into the man's chest.  Mister Nose staggers back and, as the crimson stain grows on his chest where he was shot, reaches for the wound area.  With two fingers, he "peels" away the red stain, which "pops" free from the white clothing as if it were just some rubbery sticker that flutters down like a delicate cloth.  Mister Nose deposits the red "handkerchief" atop his left arm, then closes in on the stunned Officer Conners to spray him on the face as well.  Seth, at this point, succumbs to the early spray and blacks out.

Wyatt runs, shoving past the figure in while, and as he runs down the stairs to escape, he runs past a neighbor making his way up.  As Wyatt reaches the last step, he hears a grunt and turns to see his neighbor tumbling down the stairs after him.  The man in white stands calmly at the top of the steps with a canister in one hand.  Wyatt feels panic all over him, keeping him from moving.  The man calmly walks down the steps until finally he reaches Wyatt, sprays him on the face, and watches Wyatt black out.

DJ Champ stares at the two doppelgangers, confused as to who they are and where they came from!  As the train slows to a stop, he moves towards the door in hopes of stepping out.  But he finds an incredible sight waiting for him by the door.  A man in all white stands, smiling at him as the doors open.  Walking into the train past the man in white are things that seem an impossible mix of human infant and machine.  These clockwork babies carry with them unconscious men.  DJ Champ stares as one body looks like a young man in a blue sweater and jeans, while the other looks like a well dressed man in a business suit (no tie).  The two other bodies carried are those of a police officer and a man in a demin jacket and a yellow and black shirt.  The second set of men all have the same face as the crazy man in the next train.  But the first set of men... oh.   DJ Champ stares at the impossibility before him for these two other men share his own face.  Different ages, yes, but his face nonetheless.

Another man in white arrives and addresses the first one by the door, "Mister Nose, I see you have gathered the other permutations."

"Yes, Mister Mouth.  I believe we will be able to contain things this time."
DJ Champ falls down, his mind overwhelmed by the sight, and falls unconscious.

Wyatt fells himself laid down upon the moving ground, uncertain where he is being taken, but too frightened to wake from his unconscious state.

And Seth, though stunned by the drug, is focused enough to recognize the chitterings of the mechanical babies.  The tiny click-clacking sounds they make, are morse code.  And the things repeat over and over again two simple sentences:

What Rises may fall. What has fallen may rise again.

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