Thursday, April 30, 2015

GM Seminar #3: Not Pathetic Caricatures

Took part in another Gaming Mastering Seminar at Makati B&B and this time, my topic was Not Pathetic Caricatures, which explores the techniques and tricks that I've learned to use in approaching NPCs in games.  This time, I admit I was determined to stay within the time limit, so I tried to keep things as summarized as possible.

Thankfully, the reception was pretty nice and people seemed to like the ideas presented.  I just hope I've at least helped people come up with new ideas to try in approaching their own games.

You can check out the slideshow I presented by visiting The Garapata Repository and hopefully I can edit this post soon to include the video capture of the talk so those who weren't present can watch it and get a bit more on the topic.  (Let's face it, we always try to add a bit more anecdotes into our talks, not to mention the video would explain the point of the.... blue screen moment).

The other topics covered included:
Superhero Gaming
Facilitated by Alex, know about where comic books and RPGs intersect and how you can set up your own comic book inspired RPG game!
Secrets of top GMs revealed
Led by our veteran GM Mon learn secrets that he has observed from top GMs throughout his long years in the hobby.
Using Consequences in Gaming
Featuring Jay, this talk is about how the choices players make shape the game they experience.
Girl Gamer Q&A   They're not many, but they do play! Ask your questions to our panel of girl gamers. If you are a girl gamer, speak up and share your experiences at the table with the rest of us!  On board are Che and Christine to share their views.

*Last names and photos removed for now since I'm not quite sure how they feel about having their pictures and full names online.

Very happy to have been permitted to be part of the Seminar once more. And I can't wait to hear from any gamers who've found ways to make their own games even more fun!  I'll update this post once Fabs and Mira, who have been super awesome, have the video captures of the talks ready and online.

Thank you to Raf for the photo.
(Please ignore my big belly)

EDIT: 5/4/2014
Here's the link to the video of the talks and panels held for the third Gaming Seminar.  Check them out and feel free to go share them around!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Journey ep01 : Ryuutama


Episode One
"Small Beginnings"


At long last, I finally got a chance to run the game Ryuutama, the Oregon Trail-Final Fantasy Tactics-Ghibli game. Created by Atsuhiro Okada, the game is finally in English and I finally got Rocky, Urim and Che to try it out.

“At one point in their lives, everyone embarks upon an exciting journey…”

TRISTAN, a Trader played by Urim
16 year old with ginger hair, glasses, dressed simply.  Always has his favorite abacus while computing things.  Has an animal companion named Twinkle, a bad brown baby squirrel monkey who hangs on his shoulder and at times pantomimes that he's the leader of the travelling group. As well as Finn, a pack donkey who was a gift from his parents.

PITER, a Container-Maker played by Rocky
Heavy-set build, in his late 20s with red hair and pale green/gray eyes.  Always carries a crafting hammer.  And tends to get into playful arguments with Twinkle.

AYA, a Musician played by Che
In her early twenties, with a dynamite body, and honey blonde hair. She always carries her pearl-encrusted hand-mirror, which was a gift from her mentor.  Great with daggers and a lyre.

The group is traveling through the grassland, on a journey to reach the town of Ifa, in hopes of finding new things to trade and sell.  The town was known for having a lot of cute products, which the group felt might hold opportunities to make more coin.  Although the way, the chance upon a Dragon Statue and Tristan takes the walking stick in its hands.  For him, it felt like a moment that confirmed they were finally adventurers.

They did not know, however, that they had gained the attentions of Ka Riu, a seven-foot long Ao Ryuu, an Azure Dragon of fascinated with Love, Youth, Heartwarming tales, and the Human Heart.   The Ryuujin resides in a library inside a burning star and watches over the three travelers with rapt fascination.  He wants to write about tales of friendships being born.    To share stores of kindness, of happiness, and of the hearth.

Tristan starts the day feeling sluggish, not having slept well the night before.  Piter feels annoyed that they are walking on the grassland, however, feeling exhausted as they trudge along.  The group laughs about how Piter insisted they bring his bathtub with them rather than get pack horses.  Along the way, the meet a Weather Reader on the road.   The young man warns them he sees four days of rain coming soon.  He introduces himself as Joshua, and admits he had companions earlier but they seem to have left him behind along with his donkey.  Piter asks if he was sure he was not traveling with bandits.  "Of course not! They said they were traveling bandit hunters, in their black clothes and masks."They talk about the Konekogoblins, a race of cat-like goblins, who now reside in Ifa.   

They soon reach a clearing ahead where people are already camped.  The companions Joshua had turn out to be the people already set in camp.    Aya asks if the men are willing to share the campsite with them.  Joshua recognizes the heavy set man who he calls Billy.  The men all have black grease-painted masks on their faces and are all dressed in black.  A thin man comes forward, named Bob, and stands beside Billy, and they ask Joshua who the newcomers are.    Piter insists they allow Joshua to be reunited with his donkey and their things.  Two more guys step out, also in black outfits and with grease masks.  Piter wonders if they are a performing troupe.  They claim to be mercenaries keeping the roads clear of bandits.   "Now, I would like to see my donkey Amberdeluxie."  Tristan whispers to Aya and Piter that he thinks they are smelling Amberdeluxie now.  A delicious aroma of roasting meat permeates from the fire.  They make a deal to be friends for now.  Joshua, oblivious to the nature of the earlier men, simply seems excited to eat the roast.  They set up camp for the night.  While the group was tempted to confront Billy and Bob's group about Joshua's missing donkey, the group ends up liking the donkey roast too much that they fall nicely asleep from eating too much.   Aya, still awake, ends up bonding with one of the bandits, Franco, who seems to be trying to learn to read.  She opts to spend an hour talking to him and teaching him how to read more.   As Aya returns to get some sleep, she finds Joshua asleep in her sleeping back.  With the rain starting outside, she opts to shove him to the side to share the sleeping bag.

The next morning, Aya finds herself feeling a tad exhausted having not slept well.  Piter and Tristan, on the other hand, seem to have slept pretty well.  The other group is now dressed in blue outfits.  The masks had been washed off their faces.  The two are busy juggling.  Piter realizes they are actually a performing troupe.  Billy, using his immense strength, grabs the whole tents with one hand and tangles it into a pack which he slings over his back. The group mentions they were headed west, to Islengton for a show.  Joshua shares how bad he feels that Amberdeluxie has disappeared and how the bandits probably have taken him and the gold chest away.  Piter questions Billy and Bob if they know anything about that.  Tristan, however, comforts Joshua telling him that he probably should be happy to know Amberdeluxie is now "part of him" forever.  Of the twins, Franco and Freddy practice their juggling.  When Franco fails to catch the juggling pin, Freddy accuses Aya of distracting him with her feminine wiles and questions his brother wasting time with reading.  "Who ever made their life better thanks to reading a book?  Tell me!"  Aya stresses many of the mayors are where they are because they were educated.   Freddy insists they got to power only because of popularity.  Or nobility.

The group opts to move with the troupe and Aya starts playing the song Of A Thousand Kisses, raising the spirits of the group as they walk.  The rain is light and the grassland ahead offers an easier journey.   Soon they reach another suitable camp site as they reach a massive tree at the center of the road.  The rain begins to get heavier and heavier, and the group opt to stay under its shade.   There, they find themselves encountering a Konekogoblin who seems depressed for some reason.  Joining him under the tree, they learn that the Konekogoblin is named Kene, which is short for his full name Kotaro Kenemokabakamabebe.   He laments having lost the fishbone earring his sister had given him, and wonders if he would ever find it, given he was worried how his sister would react once she discovers he had lost the gift.  Bob warns Piter that Konekogoblins are bad luck.  "They are always after their own happiness."

As night looms deeper, the group finds themselves assailed by Wandering Eggs, which burst out of the rain.  The group quickly dispatches the Wandering Eggs, with Piter even realizing the eggs can fetch a good price if gathered properly.  They do, however, finds the fishbone earring in the goop left behind by the Wandering Egg and consider when to return it.    Kene, however, is thankful enough that he offers to show the group around Ifa when they arrive, given he actually lives there.

And in the shadows of the trees, something watches them and waits.   Fireflies dance and vanish in the light rain.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

wideawake ep1 : Bliss Stage


Episode One
"Jazz do as you're told"

Bliss Stage

March 29, 2015:
Older people begin to fall asleep.  At first it targets only adults.  But as time passes, the weird sleep-sickness starts hitting the eldest, and move closer towards the youngest.   Oddly, people being to realize the bodies are not dying.  It is almost as if they were falling into a self-sustaining comatose state.

The eldest among the children remaining pool their skills and strength to begin the creation of places called Gardens, where all those who are asleep are moved to for safe keeping.  While the bodies do not die.

It is around this time, as well, people notice an incoming comet which suddenly comes to a full stop in the atmosphere.  The meteor becomes the focal point of panic and fear.  The popular term for it becomes "Wormwood."

All makeshift governments are now run by the children.  Nationalism (or at least a twisted sense of it) becomes a rallying point for many.  Race becomes a reason to distrust others.  Violence and desperation rise in frequency as some struggle to maintain a sense of order, while others embrace the supposed freedom they now have.   Reports have come in, of the likeness of these aliens, and of how beautiful they look.  They talk of golden skin, of beautiful faces, of perfect bodies.

They whisper of how those who had fallen asleep have slipped into Bliss.   That was the word.  The sleepers, they said, were happy.  The sleepers were safe.  And there was no denying that all who slept had somehow become... immortal.  They did not need to eat.  They did not suffer pain (or at least showed no sign of it).  They lived on, longer than life expectancies.  They ceased suffering from their illnesses.   They just... lived on.   In Bliss.

Then the drones came.  Great mechanical devices that hunted any of the humans that remained awake.  Their appearances varied.  Some were machines that resembled vehicles.  Others appeared in humanoid shapes.  And others, bestial.   But with their appearance, the tenuous order and systems that the children have formed fall apart.  Survival becomes the point of existence.  Not order.  Not unity.

Many dive into the darkness, hiding into the depths of cities to find sanctuary from the drones.  Those that do not... die.

The sole surviving awake adult with the help of a group of children succeed in the impossible: they had successfully brought down one of the remote drones.  It was the first victory against the aliens that lived only in the world of dreams.  And the aliens were now called the Rakshaka.

From the debris and scavenged technology, the group succeeds in a breakthrough: adapting the technology to work with a teenager's physiological and psychological makeup.  The device, after initially having disastrous consequences, eventually successfully allows its teenage pilots to project a presence into the dream world.  The call this an ANIMa.

The fight against the Rakshaka is now possible.

The dreamworld begins to leak into the real world.  In places where there are water, solid light images of those already in Bliss can sometimes be seen.  At times, one can see glimpses of those in the Bliss happily living wonderful lives in some other place.  At other times, more terrifyingly, there would be doppelgangers who would call out to loved ones, "Come here.  Join us." And those who would touch them would Bliss out.

Now, deep beneath Akihabara Station in Japan, the same resistance group has now gathered dozens of other survivors and created a sanctuary for what may just be the last remaining bastion of mankind.  In this final outpost, a council has been set up to maintain some semblance of civilization.  Solar panels and water-turbine generators are set up to gather energy whenever possible.  Food supplies are increased through hydroponic farming and the successful creation of underground animal farms.  And the original group of children, now trained to use the Creches, prepare for what they know is to come.

The final fight for survival has begun.

The Authority Figure: Chris
Painfully keeps himself awake somehow, but he has yet to show anyone what he does.
Seemingly always dehydrated.  Now 51 years old and the last still awake adult in the world.

The Children:Takeshi, the Veteran (17y).  Callsign: Darkwing.
Anchored by Krishelle (15y), who is tempestuous.

Christine, the Hedonist (16y).  Callsign: Animus One
Anchored by Miranda (12y), who is Saavy.

Katie (13y), the Innocent Sweetheart.  Callsign: Unicorn
Anchored by Jake (16y), who is Kind.

Kyle, the Rising Hero.  Callsign: Archer
Anchored by Gerard (16y), who is Comforting.

The Players:
Marc plays both Takeshi and Jake.
Meloy plays both Christine and Krishelle
Che plays both Katie and Gerard.
Rocky plays Kyle and Miranda.

The Supporting Cast: 
Mary Anne (16y) who handles one of the hydroponic farms.  Chipper personality.
Jude (15y) who works at Medical and tends to be pretty smart.
Pickles (11y) who is Christine's younger brother and tends to act crazy.
Kouki (14y) who is Takeshi's brother, and its a mecha otaku obsessed with technology.

The group's Hopes:
(Winning the War)
Defeat the Alien Leader
(Understand the World)
What's up with the Bliss
(Future of Humanity)
Better Civilization

The windup siren blares.  The four pilots hear the siren and rush to the Creches.  The base is threatened by Rakshaka scoutships closing in and the pilots hurry to launch and shut them down before they get too close.  Chris tells them that Archer succeded in an earlier mission and has brought back intel from the enemy, but they've noticed his escape.  Darkwing, Archer, Unicorn and Animus One launch immediately and set out to bring down all the scouts before any broadcast signals can be released pinpointing their sanctuary.  There are four incoming patrols of aliens and each pilot is assigned a compass point to bring down.    With the Creche's activated, elevator music plays to help calm down the pilots.

Each pilot quickly dispatches their set of incoming Rakshaka scoutships, save for Christine who falls into some complications.  

Darkwing's ANIMa is a black figure with violet details.  An extra pair of legs of satyr-like appearance grant him added mobility.  A gigantic eye with veins and two antenna flanking it serves as his sensor array.  And his main weapon is a spear of longinus, with intricate detailing.  Darkwing closes in on the four targets, and Krishelle constantly throws instructions on what Takeshi should do, like some backseat pilot.  With the weaponized spear forged from his relationship with his brother, Kouki, Darkwing yells at her to shut up and let him fight.  The scouts emit a low humming sound as they approach, with these laser scanner sensors swiping over the area.   Darkwing ducks under the beams and starts taking them down one by one.  "That was close, Takeshi.  Good thing you listened to me," Krishelle remarks.  She forcibly disengages the mobility array, despite Darkwing's protests.  Thankfully, that does not hinder him from completing the mission.

Unicorn's ANIMa is a pink and white figure with silver starts.  A pair of rose-colored sunglasses adorns her headpiece as a sensor array.  A magic wand like weapon topped with a star and globe is her main weapon, which fires out laser breams when engaged.   Unicorn faces two incoming scouts.  She fires lasers from her Magic Star Wand born from her feelings for Kyle.  She leaps and twirls with each strike, disabling the scouts with ease.  Jake fawns over her success, and already is thinking of how to celebrate her success.  She, however, finds herself thinking of a moment of curiosity of what it may feel like to be scanned.  Jake disengages the sensory array, telling her she doesn't need it against enemies this close. "You can do it!"    The mission succeeds.   Jake congratulates her for the win and Unicorn thanks him and says, "You are like the daddy I never had!"  Jake feels a single teardrop fall from his eye.

Animus One has a burgandy ANIMa that reminds her of fine wine.  Her main weapon is a bow and arrow that launches heart-shaped tips.  The scouts close in her direction, and Miranda reminds her that she cannot afford to miss.  Animus One admits it is hard not to gyrate while anticipating an attack.  Some past trauma, however, makes it harder for her synch with the ANIMa properly.  The arrows are launched, and hit each scout ship, then ricochet to hit the others as well.  But before they could relish the success, Miranda notices that one of the scout ships was transmitting that very moment it was destroyed.  "Oh.  Well, you've handled this wave pretty well.  You should be readily for the next one," Miranda casually says.  Animus One feels a brush of Terror as a heavier reinforcement comes into view: a larger vessel emerging from a sudden mirror window.   Miranda quickly asks Chris what the vessel is.  He turns to look and tells her, "Pull her back.  We will have to have Takeshi to fix this problem. Tell her she's aborted."  Miranda tells Animus One to pull back but she insists she has a huge ass arrow aimed already.  But Animus One instead "accidentally" launches the arrow and it thankfully strikes the heavy scout.  The scout fires its own short range Medium lasers.  The blast strikes Animus One, and the strike causes a feedback loop in the Creche.  Animus One's Terror intensifies and she almost loses cohesion in her ANIMa!  But the heavy scout crashes into the ground.  Animus One presses the abort button.  Miranda is already trying to slide her out of the Creche.  Animus One's ANIMa nearly broke!

Archer pilots a white ANIMa with blue and red accents.  A cape formed by ribbons trail behind him. His main weapon is a nested crossbow cannon which assembles out of his forearm when needed.   "You can do this, Rockstar," Gerard tells Archer as he updates him on the readings.  The scouts close in, swooping close in a low position parallel to each other.   Archer banks left and takes out the first one on the left.  The second one closes in and slows down to maneuver.  It seems to be receiving a transmission.  Gerard calls for Chris for guidance but he tells him he's busy and they have Animus One to thank for that.  A mirror window appears, and the scout is about to jump through!  Knowing he can't let it get through, Archer opens fire at the thing.  Believing he can do this blind, Gerard cheers him on.   Archer feels a Stress build on his relationships to Gerard and Kouki.  The scout is destroyed halfway through the mirror window.  The other half tears into being in the real world and hits the ground outside.    A zoom in reveals the scout ship's tech could be salvaged for an additional Creche.

Scanners show all clear.

Interludes: Takeshi's Trust Building with Krishelle

Takeshi flares up at Krishelle, telling her he needs a new Anchor.  She watches him walk away, but schemes to make things work out between them again.  He senses this wasn't the first time she's done this.  He feels he could be much better if he was not weighed down by a deadbeat Anchor.    Krishelle goes to Kouki instead, convincing him to work on Christine's ANIMa in order to misdirect Takeshi's frustrations to focus on his brother instead.   She then begins telling the other Anchors to stay away from Takeshi ("Give him some room.") and prepares to step in at the moment he's alone.  Takeshi realizes she's the main torso of his ANIMa and while he doesn't like what she is doing, he knows he is stuck with her for now.  He thought she would be a rock, which was why he chose her in the first place.  He visits Mary Anne and learns she's working on a new strain.  She grabs a nearby basket, and swings Takeshi an apple.  "Talk to you later. Don't forget to close the door."

He visits Chris and tells him how he feels his Anchor is holding him back.  He stresses that no one understands that when one is out there, he has to trust his instincts.  Chris explains the fact she's not afraid of him is why she was chosen to work with him.  "The crap she throws at you is probably what has helped you stay alive longer than you realize.  Just think about it."

Eventually Takeshi and Krishelle have a moment drinking beer as they watch the colony from a ledge.

Interludes: Christine's Trauma Relief

The Terror fades as she exists the Creche, turning into Trauma that she has to deal with.   Hoping to let go of the Trauma, she showers away the blue goop and finds Kouki at the locker room.  He looks way in panic realizing she's in a towel.  But she encourages him to show them... quite directly.  She leans against the young boy as he shows his sketched ideas.  She invites him to go to her room and show the artwork there instead.   Having cuddled before, Christine changes quickly, having long mastered the art of doing so in a quick slick move.

At her room, the two pour over the sketches he has created for the ANIMa improvements.   "Maybe you're right about the bow and arrow.." Christine tells Kouki as she cuddles against him and this causes him to panic and rush to the restroom.  For Christine, however, she feels satisfied with the sense of domination and control.

Interludes: Katie's Intimacy Building 

Katie and Jake celebrate, spraying goop around as they laugh about their success.  She tells Jake that she got this recipe from Christine of brownies that are made with grass and invites him to try it with her.  She runs off, still in her ANIMa suit, for her dorm.  He chases after her.

As she cooks, he asks her if she really sees him as a dad.  She tells him she does because he is so nice to her and always takes care of her.  She admits she does not remember her dad but imagines what Jake does is probably what her father would do.  Katie doesn't notice that Jake doesn't really taste the brownies.  Katie stuffs them into her mouth and eats them with a smile.   The moment is bittersweet for Jake, as this isn't quite what he wants, but at least they are having a moment.

Interludes: Kyle's Stress Relief

Gerard congratulates Kyle and asks if he wants some Joes (And I mean, coffee).  Kyle, however admits he feels the need to find Kouki instead.  He discovers the young boy isn't in his dorm, so he hits the noodle shop to check if he's there, but nope.  Almost giving up, Kyle ends up seeing Kouki on the walk back to the dorm.   He asks Kouki if he's had a chance to look at the Scout, but Kouki admits Chris hasn't given them the go signal to do so.  Kouki shifts the conversation to girls and asks if they are like that.  Kyle admits probably just Christine.  Kyle steers Kouki to focus on the Scouts and he stares what he can about them; about the two possible modes, scan or transmit.  Striking quickly might be best to shut them down when not sure.  He admits most scouts only have Light lasers and are not as dangerous as others.   When the discussion shifts back to Christine, Kouki wonders if she was getting close to him only because she liked his brother.  But Kyle counters that Christine probably is just really "nice" to everyone.

"Isn't that what you call a slut?" Kouki wonders.   "I don't think that is how it works," Kyle counters, "So maybe not."

Days Later

Chris calls them all.  The Pilots and Anchors gather to hear his update.  They gathered the ruins and reveals to them that they were able to recover a map.  He pulls a whiteboard over to show them the map, but farm animals have been added to the bottom. "Pickles!" Chris hollers and the young boy emerges from the shadows, laughing.  Waving at his sister as he runs out, Pickles runs smack into the door.  The others just opt to ignore him, even as slinks away embarrassed.  Chris tells them the scout ship was transmitting to this location, and Mary Anne explains that there used to be a Museum there.  Being close to a man-made bay that has long dried up.  There are times, after rainfall, when the basin is filled with water though.

Nothing has triggered the colony's defense systems in the last few days.  Chris, however, suspects that the Rakshaka are still probably trying to triangulate where the colony is based on the scout ships.  Chris needs two pilots to investigate the place, and two others to remain and protect the colony if need be.  The Mission is to be a quick Reconnaissance Mission:   Fly In, Gather Information, Get Out.  The Mission is meant to last only fifteen minutes, tops.   Chris thinks Takeshi should stay for base defense, and when he insists he's done such a mission before, Krishelle weighs in that Chris is right given how Takeshi has been reckless and disorganized lately.  Kyle is assigned the Mission and he admits he feels he was to blame for the scouts tracking them in the first place.  Chris asks if Takeshi really wants to do this, and he reminds him he's the most qualified pilot.  Krishelle counters that qualified does not mean capable.  Gerard reminds Krishelle not to push him too hard.  Chris admits Katie can't handle a Mission this stealthy.  "I can't have you in danger," Chris then tells Christine.  Christine shrugs (although deep inside feels thrilled Chris does care for her above the others).

Takeshi makes one thing clear.  He tells Krishelle that his instincts have kept him alive this long. "I'll follow whatever reasonable thing you say, but when it comes down to the fight, I will go with my gut."  Krishelle however knows deep down when it comes to that, she will deactivate what she feels she must.

Katie and Christine then are introduced to two newcomers.  A muscular jock steps in with a brooding woman.  Christine looks at the guy and wonders if she had slept with him before.  But then she realizes she knows him because he was the guy who used to be scrawny and short years back.  The girl, on the other hand, has thick glasses, a pony-tail, and seems shy.  Chris admits they don't have a fifth Creche yet, but the two will have to train in case any of them get decommissioned.  "This does mean while the others are in the mission, I'll need the two of you to alternate with them in the Creche.  Katie is upset.  Kouki asks which one is the pilot.  Katie thinks its the girl. Christine thinks its the guy and tells her the bet is up.   "We don't know yet," the brooding girl admits, "We just sort of figured we should try."   Katie tells them she knows they will do well.

Chris tells them the two dreamt they were piloting an ANIMa.   "They just met today, but they saw each other in their dream."  Takeshi wonders if they were near any bodies of water.  The guy admits his father used to work in the Navy.  The girl admits she doesn't like water.  "I see things in water and they always disturb me."

As the meeting comes to a close, Chris has another fit.  He hits the ground, convulsing, and Christine rushes to help him.  He coughs against Christine's shoulder and calms down and tells them he will be fine.  But Christine notices there's a small splotch of blood on her shoulder.    The jock as Jake if Chris and Christine are an item.  Jake admits its hard to say, since she's friendly with a lot of guys.  "Girls are like that," the jock admits.  "Not all girls," Jake counters.

"That's why I gave up on girls," the jock admits.

"I've heard of her," the girl with glasses mutters, "I hate her.  She's only friendly until she doesn't need you anymore.  Then she breaks your heart and makes sure you never forget."

"Oh great," Miranda mutters, "Another cheerful person."

The girl looks back at Miranda and hisses, "Whoopie."

"So Takeshi," the jock asks Katie, "He's the Veteran?"  Katie admits that he is.  "Then that would make Kyle... the cute one," he concludes.    Katie feels Mister Lazlo is cuter though, and she shows him her teddybear.   The jock smiles.


The retrieval team sees something outside, in the horizon, and hurries back to the base to inform the Council that the Missions have to be cancelled.  "There are storm clouds coming.  Heavy rain is coming."

[to be continued]

Ending Theme Song for game:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

International Tabletop Day for 2015

For this coming Tabletop Day, I'm running for my fellow Whovians a game of Companions.  I've been wanting to run such a game for quite some time now and I feel excited at the chance to finally do so.  Even better, this is another game I can add to my 12 new games for the year.

What is Companions?

So yeah, in many ways this kinda touches on my dream of a new spin-off series called Panic Moons (which is an anagram too, like Torchwood was!) and since this is an International Tabletop Day thingie, I'm giving it a little twist.   What twist?  Can't spoil it this early can I...

That's clue enough I guess.
Anyway, our place ain't no gaming cafe or shop so we don't really have the ability to host huge events and the like.  But given our love for gaming (and the fact Rocky still has to go to work that night), here's hoping people appreciate the tiny Dr. Who celebration of gaming we're gonna throw this Friday!

Saturday, on the other hand is another dive at Ben Lehman's Bliss Stage.  So it's gonna be our second romp on teenagers attempting to save the world with weaponized love.

And Sunday is most likely a dive back into our old favorite, Houses of the Blooded.  Who knows? Maybe the whole game ends that day too.  You never know, after all, with Houses.

So, there you have it, another weekend filled with gaming.

Happy International Tabletop Day to you all!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wax : Don't Rest Your Head


Don't Rest Your Head

As part of my 12 new games for the year, I decided to take a dive into EvilHat's Don't Rest Your Head.  The game plays sort of like a cross between Silent Hill and the Dark City movie, with system quite light and focused on helping create the foreboding and tense-filled atmosphere that suits the setting.   For this session, I was able to get four players to try it out.

Alex Brown, the Creative Director of an Ad Agency.   Played by Jovan.
She has been having nightmares of running away from something, and this has progressed into a sleep disorder for her.  She is commanding and intimidating, although she does enjoys the night life and works out during the day.  Her childhood memories, however, are locked due to some form of trauma.   
Her Exhaustion power is Running.  Her Madness power is the Knife.
Path: Stop the nightmares

Andrew Andres, Head Legal for the Ad Agency. Played by Fabs.
Sometime during his legal career, Andrew was able to frame a childhood bully, Kyle Wick, and get him imprisoned for life.  He is hot tempered, charming and lean but having been bullied as a child, he has a tendency to think of himself as weak.
His Exhaustion power is Endurance.  His Madness power is the Ninja.
Path: Reduce sentence of bully 

Amanda Bridgerton is Alex Brown's Personal Assistant.  Played by Che.
Her father raised her to steal things, but was arrested and due to complications in the arrest is now in death row.  Though she wants to leave the shadow Charles Bridgerton casts over her, she still hopes to raise the money needed to find some means to legally turn over the decision.    She tends to act like a goody-two-shoes whenever she resists the urge to "borrow" things.   
Her Exhaustion power is Stealth.  Her Madness power is Telekinesis.
Path: Find a way to free her father.

Joshua Arevalo is the Human Resources manager of the Ad Agency.  Played by Jonas.
Joshua is an insomniac, and has been taking medication to manage it.  He tends to be a loner, showing a poker face to the world.  He feels distant from his father, who was a distinguished detective.  Christian Arevalo, however, was murdered before he could see his son even show interest in investigative work.
His Exhaustion power is Detecting Lies.   His Madness power is the Jungle.
Path: Solve the Father's Murder

The four are preparing for an upcoming team building seminar.  The company had plans to get this place by a lake for an overnight event.  Amanda gets a text from a frustrated Alex (who had woken up from another nightmare) not to forget to set an appointment for later that day. Joshua wonders about the murder surrounding the death of his father, and having uncovered it happened at this lake house cabin where he had run to since his bouts of paranoia, Joshua had successfully set the company outing to be held in the same place.  He had hoped to try and investigate a bit to see any clues to his father's murder.   Andrew, on the other hand, opts to take a wee hour morning jog to try and shake off this odd feeling about the actions he had done in the past.  He chances upon a bus driver who turns out to be someone who knows him from the past.  Knows him enough to ask how Kyle Wick was doing.  The question bothered him greatly.

The four make their way to the team building location, with all of them promptly falling asleep enroute.  What they do not realize is that during the trip, they all find themselves slipping into the fringes of the Mad City.   The location is a quaint place, with multiple cottages to house the employees and a jog-friendly area along the lake shore. The locale was deep inside the wilderness enough that cellular phone signals were wonky.  And to Amanda's panic, the land line in the venue was out of order.   It is later in the evening, after the basic team building activities have ended, each return to their own cabin to take a respite from it all.

Alex and Andrew opt to step out for a jog.  Joshua begins to dig around the cabin, searching for clues.  Amanda worries over the appointment she had not set, and stays in Alex' cabin to prep some of the paperwork.  None would anticipate the first brushes with the Mad City.    While jogging, Alex and Andrew notice a man in the distance dressed like some English Beefeater at the beach.  The two ignore the figure for now, same with the sound of barking somewhere in the darkness.

Joshua starts finding an old journal talking about the madness that overwhelmed his father.  The pages ramble about someone called the Wax King, of the Tacks Men, and of the Thirteenth Hour.  He puzzles over the pages and trying to make sense of the contents.  He seems many instances of his father writing about not falling asleep.  That sleeping means death.   Joshua starts to hear the barking outside and it catches his curiosity.

Amanda on the other hand tries to distract herself by watching television, although the black and white show makes her feel uneasy.  It wasn't until she suddenly heard of something in the bathroom that she worries about the fact she might not be alone in the room!  She begins to approach the door when a voice issues from under the floor boards, begging her to get away.  To run.

Alex keeps jogging, ignoring the world.  But Andrew stops, and hears the barking dogs get louder.  He sees in the distance what looks like a dog skinned of fur, but upon blinking his eyes, the horror is gone.  He then hears a splash in the water, and thinking it was Alex, he rushes to go and help.  But what he finds, is a melted humanoid form.  A mannequin.  A wax figure the size of a man.  Alex sees Andrew fetching the body out of the water.  Joshua had stepped out to search for the sound of the barking, and finds Alex and Andrew with the wax figure.  They then see the terrible skinned dogs and the officer in the distance.   Fear breaks into her hearts when they realize the mannequin man is somehow alive yet not.

They run for the nearest cabin, which turns out to be the one beside the one Amanda is in!

Amanda opens the door to find some kind of man made up of newspapers inside rambling about running away and hiding from the Wax King.  In panic, she tries to keep the door locked shut.  But the voice keeps telling her about having to escape before the thirteenth hour hits.  And when the others begin to rush into the cabin next door, she hears the commotion and tries to see what is going on.  The voice tells her that it can help them escape, but that they must before time runs out. The other cabin gets surrounded by the skinned dogs, and the man in the beefeater uniform turns out to be some kind of clockwork figure that claims to be there to take back the Queen.    Somehow, her sneaking around successfully gets her to slip past the dogs and join the others in the cabin where she finds the others panicking over what is going on.

Amanda finds a ring on the floor, which she ends up slipping on.  The ring somehow gives her some kind of link to the Mad City, allowing her to hear the ticking of the clock leading to the thirteenth hour.  Andrew and Joshua consider confronting the officer, who calls himself Officer Tock, to ask why they were chasing after them.  Tock claims they had kidnapped the Queen, and to Alex' horror, the man claims she is the supposed Queen of the Wax King.  The term puzzles Joshua, who remembers the madness his father sank into.

The source of the voice is soon discovered to be a wax boy named Ivan, who offers to show Amanda and Alex the way out.  Andrew and Joshua, on the other hand, take the more violent path and attack Officer Tock and his skinless dogs.   Andrew begins pulling shadow ninjas out of nowhere, while Joshua taps into some Jungle in his mind and emerges with bestial traits.  The group gets separated to two groups for a moment, with Alex and Amanda taking the tunnel beneath the cabin to find their way out while the two guys tear Officer Tock apart, and consider leaving via the van.  Realizing the women have gone underground, the two opt to follow.

Down below, however, after nearly falling victim to the presence of even more wax guardians, Amanda and Alex eventually reach what can only be believed to be a door leading back to the world they remember. Ivan warns them that he cannot go further, having sacrificed far too much to help Alex escape before.  Their bid for freedom, however, is not without a price.  Though Alex slips away from the Tacks Man, the guardian between the two worlds, Amanda is not as lucky.   Andrew and Joshua, however, do force their way through and what seems to be an impossible nightmare abruptly ends with each of them waking up in the real world.

Alex realizes her traumatic past has to do with having run away from what can only be described as an impossible place of madness.  Joshua realizes his father's insanity was grounded in fact, and now he takes the mantle left for him to learn more of the truth behind the Mad City and its inhabitants.  Andrew learns that the man he had wrongly imprisoned deserved to be punished as he had actually raped a fellow schoolmate - one whom he had now bumped into upon waking at the bus station.  His conscience feels lighter, knowing the man's suffering was well deserved.

And finally, Amanda is forever doomed to serve the Tacks Man.  As it turns out, the "ring" she had worn was a Fastener that the Tacks Man had originally assigned to some man who was digging too much for truth about the Mad City.  (That man, of course, was Joshua's father.)  But now that she wore the ring, she was duly embraced as a new member of the Collectors under the Tacks Man.

The Mad City continues to welcome newcomers who slip through its doors.
And Alex learns that the only way to keep running is to never rest her head.
Ever again.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...