Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: The 13th Age

The 13th Age
by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet
Pelgrane Press and Fire Opal
The Archmage Engine
Rating: ★★★★★

Disclosure:  I hate Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition.  I hate how it feels more like a table top version of a MMO.  I hate how the game itself approaches the concepts less as a fantasy world and more as a computer game (with the Striker, Support and the like).   I really hated it.

That is admittedly a huge admission I had to make because The 13th Ages is a game that I really love.  Rob Heinsoo was the lead designer of the game I did not like, but with Jonathan Tweet at his side, had come up with an incredible game system which makes me swoon.     In many ways, I would say The 13th Age is the game I wish 4th Edition was instead.

So, tell us how the game works?
While most fantasy role-playing games throw you the setting first then encourage you to come up with your own character to explore the world, this game the Icons are the first things introduced.  Best described as the movers and shakers in the world the players are bound to encounter (directly or indirectly), the Icons are forces in the world that the players will find themselves working for or against in one way or another.  Think of Sauron, for example, in Lord of the Rings, or perhaps Elminster from the Forgotten Realms.  Or even Darth Vader for you non-fantasy rpg fans who might be reading.  The Icons are key characters in the world whose very actions (or inaction) can have great ramifications in the world.

Once the Icons are introduced, the players now have a greater idea of the kind of world they will play in.  This then leads to character creation.  The game's rules are very reminiscent of the Dungeons and Dragons approach, with characters choosing a race and a class (Bard, Barbarian,Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Wizard), allocating points to build their stats, then rounding these up with some old ideas and some cool new tricks.

Characters will all feature a One Unique Thing which sets them apart from anyone else in the world.  For example, consider Tanis Half-Elven as the only half-elf with a full beard.  Or how Harry Potter was the Boy who Lived (although admittedly, Harry Potter has way too many One Unique Things).  This opens up a lot of fun opportunities!  A player of mine just opted to be a Cleric who constantly has nightmares of how he will cause the end of the world.  Another wants to be a Paladin whose shield is possessed by the spirit of his beloved wife.

Relationship points are then allocated to the desired Icons by the players.  This is basically the players having the freedom to tell the others "I want to be in stories that relate or interact with this Icon."

Skills are nicely eliminated from the game and replaced with a system called Backgrounds.  Much like how Aspects work in Fate, backgrounds act as an umbrella item to determine whether or not you have bonuses to a skill roll.  Someone would have a bonus to her roll to try and poison someone if she had the background Former Assassin of the Guild, for example, compared to the background Loyal Knight Of the Realm.  Since players actually come up with their own Backgrounds, they end up helping the group build the game setting itself!  For example, someone opting to be a Diplomat of the Northern Elves has just established that there are elves in the game, that they have some in the North and some else where, and that they have some troubled relationship with others to the point of needing a diplomat.   And even more, they just established that something had happened to cause him to stop being one.  Pretty smart!  

The game then approaches the system very much like Pathfinder, with Feats (divided to adventurer, champion and epic tiers) Armor Class, and the like.  The mighty d20 is still the die of choice in this game, and the game does dip backwards into some of the less popular aspects of the 4th Edition game (such as Healing being under Recovery dice and "Free Recoveries" rather than just actions/spells you unless, and certain bonuses/skills being usable At Will, Daily, and the like.)  Thankfully, they are presented nicely enough to work with a more established table top direction compared to 4th edition.

Interestingly, damage is approached differently.  Hitting a monster is not really the point of rolling.  Instead, the roll represents whether or not you hit wonderfully.  The game has "miss damage" to represent still inflicting the basic level of injury to the enemy even on a missed one.  Enemies don't roll damage either.  Instead, if they hit, they deal a specific amount of damage.

And finally, you have a bunch of monsters to throw at your players, a nicely shaped setting to explore in, and a cool list of magic and spells to get your fingers dirty in.

The Love Child of What?The 13th Age grabs the best parts of Dungeon World, with shared narrative responsibility, as well as smoother introduction of information and system, with the nice tactical crunch that Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 added.  The players can join in the fun of shaping the world, while the Game Master draws inspiration and ideas from their Backgrounds, Icons and more.  It sounds confusing, but guess what it actually works out very well.

What About the Art, the Look, the PDF?
Top notch.  Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell bring the scenes, rules and character classes to vivid life with wonderful art pieces that capture the thrill and danger of an adventurer's life.  Each page looks gorgeous with the just right amount of color and graphic elements to keep it a tight clean layout.  The page numbers in the index page are hyperlinked to the correct pages, which makes it easy to navigate through the chapters.
There is even a section on how to stat up your own monsters, which is just a new level of awesome since the game has just given the gamers the tools to create more challenges the players can face.  The provided setting has fantastic places and adventure modules such as Drakkenhall, Glitterhaegen, New Port, Santa Cora and more and this just reminds me of the lush setting of the Forgotten Realms.  And finally, the darned Index doubles as a Glossary which really makes the book very approachable even for those not accustomed to role-playing games.

Rating Breakdown:
Concept:  A very well-crafted fantasy world that deserves to be explored.  The Icons are a great way to further invite the players into the world on the onset.  This reminded me of how The Flight Of Dragons movie did the same thing, introducing the four wizards even before expounding on the fantasy world.  And yes, we were hooked!
Crunch:  Incredible in achieving what it sought to.  The game has an almost perfect balance of crunch and narrative sharing  which makes it work well whether for first time gamers, or for old time fogeys who might not be comfortable with shared narrative control.
Layout: This game deserves high marks for the artistic direction it has taken.  The use of "runes stones" is an elegant touch as well and I did find myself envious of how each of them had their own "rune stone" design.  I want one too!
My favorite part: Backgrounds.  They work very much like Aspects yet are a different system of their own given the ranking they have and how they are approached as both story developers and skills.  The closest to this was how Dresden Files approached the Aspects as well (although that game still had skill lists).
What I wish was better:  Healing.  I really just don't like the idea of Recovery dice and Free Recoveries.  Just feels too odd.  Too strange to me.

Time to dive into the 13th Age and see what you have been missing:
Available at Drivethru rpg.

My first attempt to run this lead to a player having a bit of a traumatic moment.  Here's hoping my second stab at it (as part of our upcoming Game Mondays with three other office mates) will have less of the tears and more awesome moments.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Weeping Blade Smile ep03 : The Legend of Wulin

Weeping Blade Smile
Episode Three


I am the Omnipotent Dreamer, Ching Eng.    Most of the time I am upon my charts too peer across the stars and see glimpses of events far and invisible.  Today, however, I took a morning jog during the darkness before dawn and sought to see if Xiao Bao had hoped to escape my notice of him.

I caught the weak strains of a scream uttering from the familial grounds of the Xiao family.

I registered them to be the dulcet tones of Xiao Cai, the mother of the woman I feel great emotions towards.  I leapt to the nearest tree and craned towards the window to see if she was in distress.  What I see instead is Xiao Shaih Lin and Xu Rong Sai speaking with her.    The doctor touches her arm as the beloved struggles to help her mother speak sense.  The doctor finds a needle and I wonder if the hyperactive unbalance I had caused her was too much.

When the needle Xiao Bao deflected flew out the window, I caught it, and returned it into the darkness without a thought.  I had thought I had thrown it harmlessly back into the room.  I realize I had mistakenly struck the effervescent Xiao Cai instead.  Foolish of me to have not checked properly.

I have no doubt they were reading the note I had returned to the bed pillow for them to find.  "Gotta catch some strays" the old man's note said.  Clearly it told me where to go.  I suspected that Bai-Yan had hoped to uncover the secret of the Rabid Dogs, given the recent death that had befallen the governor.  I knew, however, that is insecurities towards the Eagle Talons would be a concern worth arousing.  It took a simple forged missive carefully crafted to match the dead governor's own handwriting to throw the suggestion to him that the Eagle Talons were in the governor's mind to be dissolved, and the slight push towards the law office (an act I had foreseen to surely come to pass given the suggestions I had whispered to the Dong brothers when I chanced upon them at that Mountain Pass) thanks to the recent attempts at clan impersonation.

By the time I had arrived at the usual grounds of the Rabid Dogs, Bai-Yan would have found Sheling Ying and attempted to gain his favor of replacing Gallant Eagle.

I anticipate the act would instead backfire, with Gallant Eagle grasping more that Bai-Yan's corrupt nature would eventually sway him to attempt to win over the city.   This would mean -

There is a new ripple in the lake I stir.


The intellectually seductive Yue Yi would be drawn to the governor's death.  And if things go as I hope, she would find the clues I had left behind that point to Bai-Yan's treachery.  She should find the brass tortoise dish that contains the gelatinous fungus.  She should notice the intense reaction Bai-Yan will present when the concoction is presented to him (though it is doubtful she would realize it was the same poison he had used to kill the governor who held the position he holds now).

I could imagine her academically honed lips dancing as she would state, "Not an auspicious week to bury the dead."

Again the ripples.  A counter-plan.
No... wait....

The confrontation should happen on the street.  The guards will be uncertain whether Yue Yi should be followed, or if Xiao Wei Long should be arrested.   The wine should-

My wave is broken.
The wine should have tasted of Bai-Yan's vintage.  Of the fruity red he had offered my two beloveds when they watched the staged battle I had prepared.  It should have been the final clue towards the magistrate.  But somehow, the wines had been switched.

Someone knows.

I spy Xiao Shah Lin, travelling by carriage that bears the phoenix colors.   She is like a rising sun. A soaring flame.  A.. man.  There is a man talking to her.  There is a familiarity in his motions.  A jut of the hip.  An occasional wipe of the lower lip.  He knows her.  Desires her.   But she.. does not recognize him?  This man.
I do not know him.  He is not part of my plans.

He is not...

"Not an auspicious week to bury the dead."

Xu Rui.

The man claims to be Xu Rui.  But he appears nothing as the Xu Rui we have all met.  Has Xu Rong Sai been playing us for fools?  I cannot stand this.  I must interfere.


"Balance must be restored. Even if today is a day of falsehoods. It is the truest truths that hide behind lies."

The words are painful and clear.
I lightfoot among them, chatter like friends, but soon the more painful words arrive.

I depart.


There is a letter.
It was hidden within the scarf.

"I will commit myself to the rocks, and if i live,
then the Ancestors judge me right."

The man lives.
The Ancestors choose him over me.

But Xiao Wei Long has arrived and the anger shows with each step.
He demands for the Frozen Needle and I realize he means someone has stolen it from its hiding place.
And it was not me.


I am certain now.
Someone has broken my waves.
The ripples still dance around me.

I must find who plays this game.
I must throw myself to the rocks.

May the Ancestors judge me right.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Antigone Council ep03 : Night's Black Agents


The Antigone Council

"Message Received"
Episode Three

Night's Black Agents


Given the events of the last op, all four agents find the desire to enjoy some time recuperating both physically and emotionally. Each one takes some time to recover in their Sanctuary or embrace some time with their source of Solace.

National Heroes Cemetery, Undisclosed Time.
Robert Finocchiaro, 1st SFOD-D.

Robert Finocchiaro visits the final resting place of his friends. He finds himself reliving some of the memories of the missions they've taken in the past. A man approaches him while there. Robert notes the man's distinct limp. He recognizes him to be Michael Bishop, a CIA Consultant he has worked with in the past. (Network: 5 points) Bishop and Robert discuss retirement and Robert asks why Bishop would choose to resurface at this point in time. Bishop tells him it is his job to notice patterns.  And he's noticed the pattern of events spiraling from Poland to New York, with the death of Malena and the activities of the reporter, Jessica Tran.  And to note when his help might be needed. He offers Robert his help.


New York City, Undisclosed location, Undisclosed Time.
John Smith, KGB Cleaner.

John Smith is at his private bunker, replaying the events of the previous mission in his head.  He feels at ease here in his bunker, away from everyone else.  He receives a phone call and it turns out to be the woman who owns a bookstore that he frequents.  His deliveries have already arrived.  He decides to step out and go to the store.

While there, he does not notice the black woman watching him as he talks to the store owner.  Their conversations are frequently interrupted, however, by an annoying woman who seems to like throwing unnecessary demands around.


Undisclosed Location, Residence, New York City
Nicole Tran, ASIS-Specialist Officer.

Nicole Tran has acquired the security footage (Electronic Surveillance: 2 points) of the ASIS parking area of the night her fiance vanished.  She inspects every inch of the footage, dissecting every second to find all the details and clues she can to try to find David.  She tweaks the video to see a black van drive up to David's car, two figures step down to take his body, then one steps down from the van, leaves David's hand in the car, then mark a black splotch on ground. The black spreads, then strangely suddenly contracts. 

Her cellular rings.  Samantha Smiles asks Nicole to prep a new office for an upcoming operations.  Nicole closes the files she was working on and heads out, speed dialing a new office building that has office space for rent.


Undisclosed Church, New York City
Clarice Rosenberg, FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit

Clarice Rosenberg finds a sense of stability and peace while in the Church.  Her prayers, however, are interrupted by a phone call.  Smiles informs Clarice that she needs her to head to a bookstore to meet with John Smith.  The urgency of her presence is implied.


Clarice arrives at the bookstore dressed in a business suit, with her hair in a bun and thick eyeglasses covering her eyes.  Dressed like a stereotypical librarian, Clarice approaches John Smith to make contact and suggest to him that they should head out.   She easily spots the black woman staring at John and decides to hold back and see if she follows him out.

As John heads out, the woman does follow, but Clarice is interrupted by the bookstore owner, who seems eagerly excited to meet another friend of John's.  


The black woman steps out to find John Smith facing her, clearly showing her that he's aware of her following him.  The two engage in a short fight, with Clarice joining soon enough.  The black woman get's disabled by a shot to her shoulder and she surrenders.

She identifies herself as Cardiff, a member of the SWW (Sluzba Wywaidu Wojskowego), the espionage agency of Poland.  They board a car and make their way to the office space.  Robert confirms he is on his way as well, and makes sure that he brings the stash of guns with him.


In the office space, Samantha Smiles meets John and Clarice and takes Cardiff aside to talk to her in private.  The group learns the reason they were all called back in today.  A number of deaths have occurred and the people involved seem to suggest a clear message directed at the team.  Among the deaths include the celebrity Malena who was found to have committed suicide in her hotel room, the Air Marshall Troy Venzer whom the team somewhat spoke to during the flight on Berlin Air, a group of athletes which Clarice realizes were the student footballers whom she had misdirected from the men's room where Smith and Finocchiaro were apprehending the Breaker... 

... and Cardiff's team which was investigating the suspicious fire on Melody Grande in Poland - the same fire the team had left behind after Smith used the explosives to deal with the "second team" present that day.  While Cardiff does confirm that her team was NOT that second team, she does tell them that her team was present the following day, after rumors of intelligence activity happening in the area.

"Whoever is behind the killings is sending a clear and direct message.  And that message is aimed at us."

Nicole uses her computer skills and (Criminology: 1) to dig more facts on Venzer's death.  The man supposedly left a suicide note, apologizing for not being brave enough to admit to his family his lifestyle.
Checking the timeline of the deaths, it seems there is a two to three day gap between deaths, with the next one due within the same period.  

"To a hammer, everything is a nail."

One raises the suggestion to use Cardiff as bait, given she survived the death her team had befallen.  Perhaps the one behind the attack is now trying to track her down and the team could use that to their advantage, setting her up in a location which they can properly monitor.

"We will assume there's a supernatural activity to monitor our actions. She she will be the bait."

Nicole digs through old SWW transmissions and using her knowledge (Cryptography : 2) of codes, discerns that the intelligence group has a safe house in the vicinity which they can use.  Smiles tells the group to plan it out, and heads downstairs with Cardiff to discuss certain matters at length.  Nicole notices that Smiles leaves her cellular phone behind, and taps it open to reveal the wallpaper of a fluffy-looking husky.

While Smiles and Cardiff discuss things at the burger joint next door, Robert sets down on the floor and spreads out the guns to start polishing them clean.  Smith leaves it to Clarice and Nicole to map out and decides to head back down after Cardiff and Smiles to talk to them.  

No one notices the security guard of the building is already dead.


An ambush.

The elevator doors open and men clearly with military training storm into the room, semi-automatic weapons held at ready!  Robert tosses a smoke grenade at them to delay them, and snatches a few weapons to arm himself.  He kicks a pistol towards Clarice, who slides past him to duck behind the closest support beam.  Nicole, still hoping to hack into Smiles' phone, ducks behind the computers and hopes she has enough time.

As the laser beams of the military groups' guns shine out of the smoke, Robert realizes they will have to bring the confrontation to the enemy to gain the advantage of surprise.


Down below, John notices the military in the group level at the last moment, giving him the chance to duck behind some furniture as they open fire.  He disables a soldier even as Cardiff closes in to assist.  John tears the radio out of the man's ear and slides it on, listening intently to the woman on the line giving the team directions to strike.  "It is so nice to have children wanting to play," John blurts out into the radio, which causes whoever was behind the operation to panic.  "Who is this?!!"  John simply answers, "You insult us with your little children" which brings the woman to shut down communications.


Clarice offers cover fire and by luck hits one of the soldiers in the smoke.  Robert takes the opportunity to slide forward, under the soldier's line of sight, and smack one down with his martial arts, only to spin and discharge the weapon on the second one.    Of the four soldiers that came in, the third turns out to be injured and bleeding out, while the fourth was trying to drag the injured man to safety.

Robert holds them at gunpoint and tells them to surrender.


Nicole hands Smiles back her phone,but realizes the radio the team was using is not known for having a very wide range.  She quickly rigs a system (Electronic Surveillance: 2) to try and cause the transmitter to still release a faint traceable signal, counting on the possibility that whoever was in charge was most likely actually in the building when it happened.

Robert and John interrogate the soldiers (Intimidation: 2) , and they soon learn the soldiers are Lebanese. The team sadly doesn't have much useful information to share, granted they were just mooks who were following orders.  

Nicole tells the others she has a means to track the one leading them - which has Clarice and Robert rushing out to the street to find the cues Nicole identifies.  Nicole shares descriptions of the sounds she can hear in the transmissions (Notice: 2) and the two quickly try to find the location to follow the trail.  Clarice notices a woman in the street who did not seem fazed when a car very dangerously drove past the street (Notice: 1) and she tells Robert she suspects that woman has some level of training.  Robert takes aim and fires a shot to disable her.


Cardiff and John, on the other hand, handle clean up while Nicole and Smiles head out to find the others.  Smiles tells the rest she will contact the Council for clearance to bring them to a safe house, instead of relying on another office space.

John uses his knowledge (Criminology:2) and (Forgery: 2) to set up the bodies of the military in the room to suggest a fire fight.  He even cuts the arteries of some to spray blood in the desired manner to support the cover story.  He then has Cardiff call emergency services to anonymously report seeing some kind of military shoot out happening in the building.

They exit the floor, leaving an explosive to finish the job - even as they hear one of the soldiers gagging, suggesting he was still alive.


Penelope Cardiff is asked to join the Antigone Council, and is offered the role to be the fifth member of the team.  The group is brought to a condo unit but are brought to a level underground  in the elevator beyond the floors the elevator panel suggests.

Down below, each member is asked to remove their clothes for initial security clearance, then biometric scans are taken of each to be recorded for security clearance data for that day only.  The chamber they find underground opens up into a massive office space with numerous desks, monitors, filing cabinets and agents of all kinds.    There seems to be only 1 woman for every six men present, although the key positions seem to be held by women.  Clarice and Nicole notice quite easily that many have clothes that seem a few years out of date.

The Antigone Council is larger than they all expected, and the number of active agents seem to be a staggering number.  The group is shown a conference room where they are introduced to what is known currently merely as The Enemy.    The pitch black oil seems to be the embodiment of the enemy, which takes control of host bodies by remaining inside their chest cavities.  The Council has noted certain signs that hint at the presence of the Enemy, including power fluctuations and as of yet unexplained slow-down or inaccuracies occurring to any nearby time pieces.  The Council desperately seeks to learn more of the Enemy, and to shut them down if possible.

A sample of the enemy the group has is a small orb of black oil that is barely an ounce in volume.  Robert finds himself deeply bothered as he remembers the barrels of the stuff which the team was supposed to deal with back during his days with the military.

Before the group can discuss more, however, the security teams in the area converge in the conference room and train their weapons at the group!  One of them, it seems, has just triggered the alarms and has shown latent "infection" of the Enemy.

The group stare at each other, uncertain who this person would be.

End of Episode Three

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Evolve Your Game: Tabletop Audio

I just recently found another online resource that you can use if you want to add more atmospheric tunes to your games. The site is called Tabletop Audio and it is truly a wonderful resource for ambiances (these are 10-minute situational audio files, according to the creator) which you can use to enhance your games and give them that immersive quality you hope to achieve.

The creator of the website is a professional composer and has been enjoying tabletop role-playing games with his two kids. They've been playing Numenera and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire lately, which sort of explains the eclectic range of the available tracks.

Check it out and know that the music is all released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, which makes it all a whole new level of awesome.

Clicking a desired ambiance has the built-in player start.  Since each ambiance is a playlist in itself, you can actually map out the others you want to play in sequence.  There's a loop function to keep the music going, so while some tracks are not actually loopable, given the intense length of the songs (10-minutes compared to the standard 3 minute tracks of a soundtrack), it is unlikely your players will catch the looped part.

So check it out and see how it helps evolve your game!
Tabletop Audio is at

Be sure to drop a donation while you're at it!

Friday, February 14, 2014

mem:RE First Playtest

I just had the first actual playtest for mem:RE with my office mates yesterday and I'm feeling pretty psyched on the introspective angle that it presented.  The real-time aspect will always be a different paradigm some might have trouble working with.

The character sheet with the changing stats was fun and I liked how the players realized their memories couldn't be fully trusted.   I need to tweak the system more, however, to make danger and fights even more awesome for more thrilling fights and chases.

The back story of the game though is definitely showing promise.  Thank you to my three office mates who helped me playtest this game.  Thank you for the first stab at this, Mister Michaelson, Mister 6 and Mister E.

I only hope I can find a way to translate all those great ideas into a written form.  It is such a challenge to find a way to translate rules and fluff into a form that someone who has never met you can easily grasp.

But yeah, I'm gonna tackle this beast and have this game out within the year!   Sorry its running a tad late, but this game is dedicated to you, Rocky.  I love you and I want my first game ever to be published to be dedicated to you.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

After the Rain ep04 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Four
"Fortunes and Downfalls"

Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain, many of the Ven have found themselves to be far more intense, more imposing upon the world.  This was a reflection of how many young ven were raised to push harder, to fight more intimately, and to act more directly to reconquer that which Shanri had taken away.  In the game, I reflected this by applying one of the old stuff John Wick cooked up in the game's blog.  This system of Fortunes and Downfalls seemed appropriate for our game (even if many of them seem to be written with older rules in mind).  I applied one for each player.

Galeo Silja was of Potent Blood.  Once per game, the player could spend Style to add to Beauty rolls to represent the strength of the Fox in Galeo's blood.  Ironically, Galeo suffered from the Pride of the Elk, however, and would have to actually spend Style to ever admit having made a mistake.

Jaric Thayl was blessed with a Sorcerer's Eye, gaining extra dice when making Risks related to the history, identification and knowledge of the sorcerer-king's old ruins, rituals and artefacts.  This strange benefit left him, however with an affliction of having an Early Solace.  Jaric tended to ramble on and on about the details of what he had learned.

Seran Thorne was raised so young to be wary of threats that she had gained Vanada and could no longer be caught off-guard.  Her family's love of wandering Shanri, however, seemingly had its repercussions as many whispered she was Marked by the Storm.  Ill weather typically followed her around.

Nia Jalan played no part in this session, sadly, as the player had other personal matters to consider.  But in the coming game, I foresee the player having to pick among Acquiescent or Inconspicuous as the Fortune and Coward's Heart or Trusted Friend as the Downfall.


The end of Winter nears.

Galeo recalls the events leading to the death of their firstborne, and the story behind Galeo's transformation into The Artist, and the spouse's transformation into The Painter.  It was to be a Double Celebration at Castle Dunlath; The Baron's first year and the coming of the Child.  There were many notable guests, include Seran's father who brought rare Herbs as a present, and Maja Thayl, Jaric's mother who transforms Every Party into Her Party.

Hero, Galeo's spouse is introduced and during a talk with the mother, Galeo meets the Duke of Tamal (Haroun's father) who came hoping to find a daughter to pair off to his son.  But claiming to have an eye for such things, he pronounces Galeo's coming child as a son and departs when he learns his son is up to some mischief.

Galeo recalls the twins, Ryx And Fex Mwrr being turned away by her mother from the party.  She actually draws her Blood Sword to remind them that they are not welcome.  It is only thanks to Maja's antics that others still find humor in the events that come, even as Galeo begins to give birth and the two break into song.

There is mention of a Work of Art which Hero fails to complete well, leading to a sore moment in this memory.  But nothing can be far worse than the death to come when the young Haroun chooses not to warn the Household of a pack of Orks infiltrating the castle, and the Gateway of Art which Galeo and Hero had created fails to protect them.   In the party, the firstborn dies, and with the death Galeo embraces the name of the Artist, vowing to create a masterpiece before ever attempting to have another child.  And Hero becomes pegged the Painter, to distance him from Galeo and to remind him of his failings.

Memories are painful things.


Galeo awakens to find a Hero away from their bed.  He seems flustered and secretive of his whereabouts.  Galeo catches the sight of an unfinished portrait of their dead child, however, in his workshop.  Galeo shares with Hero the suggestion of her mother that they attempt to have another child.  But when Hero continues to be distant, Galeo decides it may be better to instead focus first on creating a Shrine for Talia Yvarai.  Galeo considers creating a great Work of Art, a marble statue of Talia to hold the Fruit of 7 Kisses in its hand.

Jaric and Seran exchange letters, and the idea to return to Ul and revisit the ruins interests them both.  As Seran tries to talk to Lukas about the upcoming trip, she reassures him that she is going with Jaric and not Haroun.

And that is when Haroun's airship comes into view, fireworks erupt in the sky and rose petals fall like rain.  Haroun swoops down to greet Seran, and upon seeing Lukas, greets him like an old friend.  He teases Lukas (who is dressed in the armor of a Swordsman) that Seran plans to take a dangerous trip, and when Seran reassures Haroun she can handle herself, Haroun pokes fun at Lukas and teases him she no longer needs him.  The words are barbs against his heart, however, given the double meaning Haroun does not realize they happen to have.

As Seran shimmies up the rope, Haroun teasingly asks Lukas why he had never fallen in love with her.

"Everything in the right time and place, my lord,"  Lukas replies.

Haroun thanks him and leaves as well, suggesting that he will be proud to have Lukas serve with them once Seran finally gets married.  The Roadmen turn to Lukas confused.  Why is his wife being referred to as someone who is about to get married?

Seran finds Jaric on deck and he admits to her he invited Haroun to join them.  Seran challenges Haroun to a race up the mast and when the wind blows her hat away, Haroun catches it with his teeth.


Back at Purenote, there is an airship coming upon the tallest tower.  

There, Seran swings down to invite Galeo to join them on a trip.  Jaric is pushed down to tell Galeo that Haroun cannot "dock" the ship given the lack of a proper port for an airship.  Galeo extends hospitality and there is a moment of awkwardness when Hero is mentioned.  All present have heard of how he had been striken of his Blooding to a House.

They talk about revisiting the Ruin in Ul, which most likely is now under the ownership of the unpopular Lady Isolde.  Haroun is good Friends with her, however, and promises them they will be safe in his company.   Galeo opts to go, leaving Hero to manage the Castle in her absence.  

The three eventually return to Haroun's ship, and during the journey argue over Seran's mother and her achievements.  The discussions on the "old ways" and on Seran surpassing her mother reach intense exchanges.   While both eventually realize Jaric hold authority on the subject, Galeo is surprised when she hears Talia mutter, "Listen to him."   Haroun eventually admits that part of the reason he came was because Isolde had asked him to find a way to bring Galeo Silja to her.   As to why, Haroun confesses not to know.


Ul.  The servant that greets the group is called Dara.  The term tickles Jaric's interest, but he opts to remain mum on the term.  As they are guided inside, the Dara asks them to leave all weapons and to continue on without him.  It turns out there are portions of the Castle which Isolde has deemed that only the Blooded may walk.

They find Isolde wrapped in chains and being scourged by women wrapped in white cloth.  They strike at her with the barbed brambles from the roses abundantly growing.  With each strike, they rip away clumps of flesh.  Blood flows from dozens of tiny rivers.  All the while, Isolde remains silent.  Galeo realizes the act is an old forgotten ritual called the Transformation of Talia.  To practice it, it was believed, was an act of intense veneration.  To fail was to never be permitted Talia's presence again.

Even Jaric is bothered by the ritual and his eyes quickly scan the room (as does Seran) for the voice of the speaker seemingly leading the ritual.  They find a Court Scholar on a balcony above the room reading from ancient scrolls, which Jaric convinces the man to drop down.  Jaric accuses the man of speaking of the Fallen Ones.   As Galeo pierces her own flesh to draw blood and empower the Pearl Fragment in her hand, she whispers to Talia to answer if this Ritual should come to pass.

"I hear only you," comes her reply.

Haroun wants to rush forward but Seran stops him.  He notices the fragment in Galeo's hands.  Galeo asks once again if this ritual is of her liking.

But the Suaven only replies:  I hear your prayer.  I hear none else.

Wanting to stop what Galeo felt was blasphemous, Galeo invokes her Secret Name, declares that Truth Will Bloom, and judges that, "This is NOT of Talia, and it is called out!"  All feel the weight of Galeo's words.    Isolde speaks out, ending the Ritual, claiming to finally hear Talia whispering to her and telling her that she is forgiven.  But when Galeo whispers once more to Talia, the Suaven still responds that she hears only Galeo.

Only Galeo.

They realize the one that answered might have been someone else.  The Fallen Suaven.  Afhil, the Suaven of Pain.   Galeo admits to them that the Suaven no longer answer to words and prayers.  They will now only answer to actions.


The old papers speak of strange things.  Of Talia being formerly a Spy Master.  Of her transformations.  Of a word that lead to the Final Transformation.  A word that had never been uttered within the temples of Talia in the past.  But the succeeding page is missing.  Jaric insists the papers must be disposed of, while Galeo feels they should be kept safely in a temple.   Knowing Isolde also heard her Secret Name, however, Galeo uses the Blessing: Moving the Pawn to remind her that she is not to speak of that name ever again.


The child.

Discussion of the child then come.  Isolde admits that she had hoped for Talia's favor.  She had hoped to be blessed with a child.  There has been no ven child born in the last few years.  Galeo wonders if she had somehow circumvented that strange malady, or if the Orks had taken from her someone that no one else could bear.

The servants are everywhere, reaching out and handling things for the ven.  None notice how the veth seemingly have become much more attentive.  Much for focused.
Dranna Ru, Blooded of the Serpent, Landless


And a visitor arrives.  A late night arrival.
Isolde seems excited as she welcomes the guest inside. She informs her that her "brother" had just left.  Isolde explains that her brother had found someone who loves him.  And the woman replies, "One look and I can tell if she truly loves him."

Jaric peers from the steps above and realizes the woman... Haroun's sister... is the blue-eyed Dranna Ru.

Dranna Ru, Blooded of the Serpent, Landless
Three true things about Dranna Ru
She knows more than she should.
She lost her land when a Storm destroyed the Province.
Her brother is the Duke of Tamal, Haroun Q'n, Blooded of the Fox.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

That Girl You Just Met

That Girl You Just Met
by Tobie Abad

At one point in time, in practically any game you play, you'll meet... that Girl.  That Girl might be just a passer by who catches your eye.  Or a key non-playing character who has more of the plot to share.  But sometimes, that Girl might be far more than you expect.  Here are some ideas to throw into your games for a little twist on That Girl.

1. Maybe the Girl is more than a Girl...
She's the daughter of the main villain and has started a whole new life.  She's the mother of your children.  An alternate time-line sort of wife.  She's the brooding witch with powers you've never seen before.  She's the technognostic wizard who holds unspoken lore.  She's the root of primal energy.  She's the queen of every troll.  She's the embodiment of Destiny.  She's a stormtrooper since she's tall.    She's music manifest into a person.  She's the greatest swordsman in the land.  She's the source of all temptation.  She's the owner of the band.

2.  Maybe the Girl is just a Girl....
She's a funny little anecdote to add to the adventure's fun.  She's the farmgirl without a future.  Of all the witnesses, she isn't one.  She's the momentary distraction to the cast of thieves and kings.  She's just a faceless, nameless victim.  She's the entertainer who sings.

3.  Maybe the Girl is more than a Person...
She's the target of the mafia.  She's the treasure of the hag.  She's the source that's poisoning the realm.  She's the other character's living bag.  She's the scapegoat.  She's the lure.  She's the answer.  She's the cure.

4.  Or Maybe she is The Girl.
Don't ever let her go.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Seven ep05 : Vampire the Masquerade

The Seven
Episode Five

"Reflections on the Giovanni"

Vampire the Masquerade
Classic World of Darkness

After the events in New York city, the Kindred find themselves working in the shadows to regain some semblance of order, and spreading out of the fated city.   Jeremiah Ash escapes to Boston where he works on boosting financial ties with groups he knows to be affiliated with the Giovanni.  Eventually, he gains the trust and interest of Marco Guisette Giovanni, an Elder in Boston, who then brings him to the heart of the Giovanni Clan; to Boston.

Antonio Ruiz has gained the confidence of the Priscus Leila Monroe.  The Lasombra sends Antonio under the guise of seeking for a Sabbat cainite that had vanished while in the city.  In truth, however, Leila as well has noticed the events in the city, and hopes that Antonio can uncover more truth about the strange events that some cities go through.

Samantha Fletcher feels the sudden power vacuum with the disappearance of the Camarilla elders.  She receives word from Vienna to take all the tomes and bring them to Vienna for safe-keeping. With the events that happened in New York, Samantha draws Viktor Smith to work for her as her bodyguard.  The two develop a new Alternate ID as members of the Interpol and quietly work on finding a way to make their way to Venice and search for more information on the Giovanni.  

3 Years Pass...

Jeremiah Ash is at Venice, Italy with Marco Giovanni.  The Giovanni shows him an underground fighting ring hidden in a club.  He watches as the mortals attack each other on a supposed bid for freedom.  But clearly the vampires in the audience are here to see blood get drawn.

Outside the club, Antonio Ruiz searches for his contact.  Leila Monroe had given him the mission to locate a missing ductus known as the Collector of Secrets, and she reminded him to bring home one of those magnets, "The one with the canals I already have those..."   Antonio has trouble finding the contact, however, and learns of the underground fighting ring from another cainite in the room who was also waiting for a friend.  Antonio sees Jeremiah and Mario Giovanni leave and considers his options.


By the harbor, Diana Chevalae and Viktor Steiner of the Interpol are monitoring a warehouse called Rosaleo and planning their move.  Samantha and Viktor have formed new identities as members of the interpol to help them in their plans to infiltrate the Giovanni.  Through their connections, they've learned that packages were supposedly being transported to a specific warehouse.   With the use of Dominate and well-timed Obfuscate, the two take control of the warehouse and gain control of Paul DiCarlo, the young Giovanni who is handling the smuggling.  


Soon, things come to light as the four learn in their own way that the Giovanni have a huge event planned in the coming days.  A "family reunion" as the term goes.  And from what is suggested, the infamous Augustus Giovanni himself will be in attendance.

There is talk of re-enacting the events of The Last Supper, with special Kindred from all over the world invited as guests to the said event.  Jeremiah Ash discovers he is to be one of these said guests.


In some nondescript Apartment which had become a safehouse, Samantha Fletcher and Viktor Smith find that the suitcase which the Giovanni were planning to transport contains a wooden frame that keeps it sealed.  After Thaumaturgically securing the location with Wards, the two opt to break open the case and check what is inside.

Powder.  Powder pours out of the broken container, and this powder a figure springs forth hungry and confused.    The two soon learn the ravenous cainite turns out to be a woman called Marianna who is uncertain if they are all simply elements of her unending nightmare.  She panics, fearing something she calls the Collector and goes frantic upon seeing a pigeon by the window.  "They found me!" she screams before falling back asleep.


A flashback.  Marianna stares at a blonde woman who insists she helps.  She is forced to cooperate with the Giovanni, only to be nearly destroyed.  It is only her knowledge of a forgotten Discipline that she survives by crumbling into ashes.

She struggles to grasp if she is awake.  The cities she knows to have been destroyed supposedly still stand.  The world seems to move forward with no recollection of the Time of Judgment she endured.  And worse, she sees the mirrors are still around.  She shatters them in fear.

She convinces the others she needs to get out.  To understand.
To breathe.


Fletcher starts studying the fragments that they had acquired from the warehouse.  The ritual draws her in, capturing her in rapt attention.   Neither of them know what the ritual is, but Samantha insists by studying it she should learn what it is.


April 4.
That was the day of the reunion.    Jeremiah and Marco speak at a cafe as Jeremiah asks more about his role as one of the "12."  He is told he is to represent a man called Wenceslas.   Having won answers from Marco for winning the bet in the fighting match, he asks Marco what he knows about what happened in New York city.

Marco admits most believe it was an Antedeluvian.  The Eldest of the Tzimisce.

Jeremiah asks what Marco would have done if he were in his shoes.  Marco admits a spat of envy.  "To be there... oh to be there," he mutters.


Marianna does not return.

The two opt to track her with the use of a Bloodstone which Samantha activates.  They stealthily make their way through the city to search for her.    But when the two find her, they see Jeremiah Ash there as well, as Marianna had started attacking a nearby shop for all its reflective surfaces.

And just as they draw Marianna away from the broken glass, soothing her with words to convince her there is nothing to be afraid, one of them catches the reflection remain staring even as the rest of them look away.

The reflection stares back, smiles, and holds a finger to its lips.

"Shush," the image dares to say.
Marianna may be right.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Gossamer Saga ep06 : Homebrewed System

The Gossamer Saga : Revolution

Episode Six

Home-brewed Game

Somewhere underneath the ruins of Staniga, Kale, Ash, Quince and the Blacksmith face the cultists that rush down the hall and the invisible guards from the Gossamer Tower.  Up north, the capital is under martial law and General Cray of the army has confirmed that the Regent is gone.  In a random tent in the plains of Waltein, Magda is in a tent looking at the general who is having the Prime Minister executed.  She feels the confusion that plagues the Tower.

Back at the Gossamer Tower, Chi'tairn and Larkspur are brought to different dungeon chambers.  Larkspur is being interrogated by an officer and the answers the gives him are crazy talk about Divine Rapture and the like.  The guard remains skeptical of her answers but fails to get any real answers through her.


Kale decides to open a portal, using the strange device embedded into his hand.  He drags everyone to the Glades, including the guards, cultists and captives.  Only Ash successfully reacts in time to land on her feet.  The rest drop against the branches and other foliage of the forest and painfully hit the ground below.  Desiring a weapon, Ash is stunned to see a shaft of light emerging in her hand, forming into a spear.  She pins a guard down and demands to know who he is.  Quince gets up to his feet as a guard lands next to him, and without a second thought, he bashes the guy with a rock.  Kale trips a cultist and the cultist rolls away from him perhaps in a hope of finding safety.  Ash demands for answers, but when the guard doesn't give any, she discovers she can split the spear of light into two short spears, pins them against the man's neck, then draws the dagger she had taken from Kale to threaten the man more directly.

Kale figures out where his companions are while another guard assaults Quince.  The cultist Kale had tripped ends up rolling on the guard attacking Quince.  As Ash pries open the guard's helmet, she hisses that the Bright One wishes Staniga to be avenged.  She demands to know where his token is.  When he refuses to give answers, Ash simply kicks off him.

The group hurries into the woods, lead by Kale who makes sure they are not followed.  Kale leads them towards his village deep in the Glades.


Elsewhere.  Back in the Gossamer Tower, Chi'tairn is being guarded heavily.  A smell of the sea permeates the room, and water gushes into the dungeon.  Gorval opens the door to Larkspur's cell and tells her that she changed the time table.  Faraker appears as well.  They are here to bust her out.  Apparently, Gorval is "retiring."  Larkspur insists to be brought down to Hearthkeep, which makes Gorval impatient.  Ballouise brings Chi'tairn over. Larkspur gives Ballouise an embrace and tells her that now she is understood.  She does not seem to grasp, however, that the group is making a break for it.  Ballouise seems reluctant to go far from water, but Gorval finally concedes.  The man takes all of their totems and Faraker uses his ability to bring them all to Hearthkeep.  There, they find Dawn waiting for them.


The cultists and the guards battle it out as the captives run away.  The blacksmith takes his silver golems to the woods and departs.  The guards defeat the cultists.   None of them seem to track where the group had gone.


Kale talks to the group, mentioning the possibility of using the Trust without the use of totems.  He suggests leaving the totems in the woods.  Not having her own Totem, Ash decides to try channeling her memories of Staniga and decays a tree nearby.  The power is unleashed stronger than anticipated and she ends up creating a clearing of ashen trees.  Kale climbs a tree, gets an egg, uses the Trust to grow the egg into a bird, and leaves his totem on it.  Quince keeps his for now.  Kale leads them to one of his safe houses, a tree house in the middle of the woods, and Ash decides to not ask why a messenger boy would have such a hiding hole.  The group camps down to rest for a bit.


Back in Hearthkeep, Larkspur starts whipping up a warm comfy dinner for everyone.  She is blind to how disconcerted everyone else currently is.  After enjoying the meal, Larkspur uses the Trust to check on her erstwhile companions.  She is able to see that the tree are in a tree house somewhere and tells the others.  Faraker offers to fetch them.  Larkspur remarks that she thinks Faraker and Kale act like lovers.

Morning comes.  Faraker finds the other group and nearly gets assaulted by Ash and Quince.  He eventually convinces them to come with him and they appear in a barn.  Ash once again sees the woman she despises and throws Larkspur an insult.  The farm girl responds in kind.

With everyone gathered at the dinner table, they exchange the stories of what they have gone through and they have learned.  Dawn explains that her group had planned on going rogue from the start.  She explains that magic is out there and that "the Trust" and the World Pool are meant to leave others dependent on the Tower.  Chi'tairn explains that there is no need for "a battery" and that they only need to call on what is there.  Pick it out of the environment.   She shares how she was able to get deeper into the libraries before being discovered, and that there is something of the prophecies coming.  The Regent may have been a key to open a doorway of some sort.  The group shares how the cultists could use magic as well and wonders on what the cultists may be hoping to achieve.

Kale draws out the mirror that Magda had given him.  He peeks inside and sees images showing that his father was finally back in their village.  

The group discusses about how they must look for a way to identify the cultists.    The group shares their observations and considers their options.  The cultists may not be of this world or plane.  Chi'tairn admits it is next to impossible to track magic, and that the center of Staniga's explosion was where the Regent died.  He had been inserted with magic.  But the questions remain:  How to find more information on the cult?   Where to find the priest with the staff which the group saw in Staniga?  Or the cultists?  Some suggest to go where the Regent died, others suggest to investigate where he was prior to his death, and some consider finding a cultist to interrogate.

Ash asks about how one can conceal the use of the Trust.  Apparently, one merely need not tap into the World Pool.  Ash shares an idea:  what if the group were to have someone pretend to be the Regent, to bait the person who killed him to come out.  Quince gets impatient and demands Faraker take them to the Glades.  Ash, Kale, and Larkspur follow suit.  Kale clearly is annoyed at Quince's actions.

They return at the tree house, and Quince quickly climbs down, intent on heading where the clearing was.  Ash contemplates on why they were chosen.  Kale tells Quince he is headed the wrong way and eventually convinces him to head down the correct path.

Back at the clearing, the guardsmen are gone.  Quince gathers up the bodies he finds lying around while Kale opts to climb a nearby tree for a higher vantage point to look for a trail to follow. Larkspur uses the cultist's corpse as a focus to find a sympathetic link with the other cultists.  The two seem to be intent on using the Trust to achieve some goal.  Kale decides to stay at the top of the tree and keep watch.   Ash talks to Faraker, and he shares how he was once a recruit like them.  How he used to be from around the Glades.  How he was taken in by Chi'tairn.

The two talk more about the rest of the group, and Ash asks him why the others have chosen this group in particular.  Faraker admits that he has not really though about that.  She asks him of his training, sharing some hints of her darker brutal past.  Faraker says his life practically started with the Order.  He barely recalls anything of his life prior to joining.

Quince is busy transforming the pile of corpses he had collected into a strange construct of human remains.  Ash crawls nearby to him and admits to him her dislike of Larkspur and of religion in general.  She admits she has made a promise to herself to destroy them.  Quince barely responds, too preoccupied with sewing the bodies together.  He uses the necromantic structure to act as a link and tries to gain information from "the hive."

Larkspur embraces the idea of the divine miracles of the Bright One and attempts to raise the dead.  She succeeds in raising the corpse back from the dead to ask a single question.  "Where is the leader?" Sadly, the corpse admits it does not know.

Quince gets glimpses in his mind of the cultists activity for the past week.  He learns that the best is still in the temple.  There was a grand gathering where all the members were called underground, that the moment they had been for had arrived.  The man with the staff talks to them of the Regent and how he has come to be sacrificed so their true masters will come and rule the land.  The Regent's death occurs directly above the underground temple.  Quince learns the man with the staff has a name:  Yogandan.

Kale was making his way down the tree when he finds the impossible has occurred.  An individual have successfully snuck up close enough to him even while he was keeping watch.  He grabs the man only to be threatened by the man's companion to let go.  He also realizes the "men" are not human at all.  They are elves.

Larkspur and Ash realizes Kale is in danger and act quickly, with Ash summoning her spear of light and Larkspur growing massive wings to lift them both up towards Kale.  But arrows fly and Larkspur whips up the winds to form a spherical shield around them.  

Kale tries to parley with the elves, talking to them about how they have not come to fight with the elves.  But as he tries to ask why the elves have come so far away from their own territory, the tree itself becomes unable to carry their weight!  Down below, Quince has transformed the tree into a honeycomb for a brief moment, hoping to make the others drop down.  Kale teleports himself to the ground safely, even as the elves mobilize to attack.  A fight is imminent until Faraker steps foward and starts talking to the elves in their own tongue!

He asks to speak with their leader.  More elves reveal themselves and some don't seem too happy that Larkspur is using magic.  Faraker convinces Larkspur and Ash to cease their magic, and to the others it seems Faraker knows the elves.  They are a scouting party who have arrived to investigate the earlier battle.  Seeing the group, the structure of corpses, and the use of magic, the elves opt to bring the group to their elder.  Kale worries silently about this, knowing how territorial elves are and how typically they ignore anything outside their lands.


In Staniga, the cultists are gathered, surrounded by runes formed on the ashes with blood.  Yogandan stands there, drawing power into himself.  The beginnings of a portal begin to open.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In development: mem:RE - 4th glimpse

Real-Time Rules:
Given that mem:RE is intended to be run as a real-time spy thriller, here are the rules that will help support and capitalize on the real-time approach to make the game a new, exciting, fun and memorable experience.

I. Missions Run For 3 Hours
When you start the game session, the players should have at most an hour to prep their agent sheets.  During this hour, allocating their Memory dots and deciding on how to use any Recognition should be tackled as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This however also means that if players take too long, then you should move to the actual Mission Proper immediately and inform them that the clock has started.  If they waste time focusing on other things, fiddling with their devices and the like, then let them.  Just remind them, the clock is ticking.

I recommend having a visible countdown somewhere nearby.  One option is to use online resources such as or perhaps ios apps such as T-Zero Countdown Timer to have a constantly counting down reference that the players can easily see.

It is imperative to also announce the time remaining whenever dramatically possible.  Simply calmly intoning, "One hour, fifty minutes left..." can jolt the players to take more exciting risks and dangerous options to keep the game fun.

II. Not All Actions Are Instant
Bear in mind that some actions the players may declare SHOULD consume some time.  For example, a player might mention "I'll stay outside the restaurant and keep watch until the target shows up."  If such actions are declared, you should a) Determine how much time before the desired result actually does happen b) Determine how long the player plans to do the action in hopes to achieve it.   c) Tell that player he's engaged in doing it, and will have to wait for that amount of time in the game.

So, for example the player opts to, "Hack the system to break in."
You might determine, "Haacking will take twenty minutes."
If the player says, "Go for it," then he is busy hacking while the player waits for 20 minutes before she can rejoin the game.

This adds a layer of desperation in the game which isn't typically found in others.  Players very quickly sense the importance of a single minute and at times might even opt to "try something that can be accomplished faster" which over-all adds to the desired sense of urgency in the game.

III. Be Sure To Match Senses With Events
When player characters are physically separated in terms of locations, players should feel as if they can perceive or experience events in a way that resonates or implies the presence of the others nearby.  For example, if one Agent tries to kick open the door, when you cut to the next player, be sure to mention the sound of something heavy banging against the door within the vicinity.  When the ambient sounds of traffic can be heard outside, try to incorporate that in the description of what the characters can hear in their area.  Immerse them into the scenes to help them grasp the "real-time-ness" of it all.  I even go as far as changing the lights to reflect different locations, and describing how something brushed past their feet when I know my dog is actually hunkering around the gaming table.

One highly suggested approach is to have a key song or music track to play just before the game starts.  Sort of a signal that the Mission is about to begin.  And once the game is done, perhaps to play a "closing credits" song that clearly defines the Mission is over.

IV. No Breaks
Part of the 3-hour limit of each game session is the fact that you should, to the best you can, avoid any breaks once the mission starts.  If the player needs to use the bathroom, for example, or wants to grab a smoke, then ask him if his character is doing the same.  And if so, then they can go for it while you describe their character doing the same.

I even once asked a player, who insisted his character was going to have a cigarette, to explain to me where he was getting the cigarettes while at the mission.  So he described his character going to the nearby convenience store to buy some.  I told him the length of time he'd smoke was the amount of time to go in, line up, pay, and head out.

But as the action picked up, he threw the cigarette and ran back to join the table.  Which sort of was like him throwing the cigarette and running to join the fight.

V.  Time Runs Out
The moment the game is down to the last fifteen minutes, be sure to play it to the hilt.  The intensity should rise.  The action should be crazy.  Or perhaps the secrets are now being spat out.   But once the timer runs out, you have two choices:

a) You keep going and give the Mission an ending to be proud of.  
This works best if the players have earned it.  If the players are so caught up in the session that none of them are breaking out of character anymore as they struggle to find solutions to accomplish the Mission, then throw away the timer for that final finale scene.

b) You Abort
The Agents suddenly seize up, drop down unconscious, and the game session ends.
If you can, pack up the game stuff and leave.
Or maybe simply collect all character sheets and put the game stuff aside.

And yes, ignore any questions they may ask about the game's story.
That's to be best explored in the next Mission.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Game Day : Feb 2

Something to look forward to supporting starting next year. Sad I only read about it today.  But I definitely foresee hosting events on future Feb 2 to introduce to people a game they've never played.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Evolve Your Game: Birth of a Community

Whether it be a Houses of the Blooded game set in the Wilderness, or a Shadows of Esteren game where you are establishing a new village, you will want to check out  A Dark Room.

Definitely evocative for a game with the minimal-est of imagery.
For certain, it will give you great ideas.
Maybe even tempt you to have your players play it, then have the results after 24 hours represent their village.

Try it today.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...