Monday, September 30, 2013


Thank you so much for supporting Josh Jordan's Kickstarter for DOLL!  All 217 (cause I'm the 218th) backers should know they have my love for supporting this project and funding it.  I'm anxious to see the release of Advanced Doll and the fiction which we're writing for the expanded goals.

But yes!  Another step forward in sharing  more of my work to the gaming community!
Thank you again!

The God Machine Chronicle ep04 : World of Darkness

A God Machine Chronicle
Episode Four

"The Finale"

World of Darkness

Wyatt Matthews remembers being shot in the stomach.  He remembers the sharp explosion of pain erupting as the other man with his face met him backstage.  He looks around the room to find a man dressed in white standing a few feet from him.

Mister Eyes informs Wyatt what is going on. Wyatt listens and tries to remain calm at the fact that his gunshot wound is being stitched closed by some kind of mechanical crab. Time seemingly has frozen beyond the room.  Wyatt can see the press unmoving outside by the stage, with his friend Maya also immobile in her attempts to make them all leave.  "You are the Iteration that the God Machine has chosen. The Master Piece."  Wyatt is told that he now has to embrace this opportunity.  But Wyatt realizes that would mean the others he met would also have to be killed.

"This is an Eraser," Mister Eyes informs Wyatt.  It is intended to wipe away the other iterations.  Wyatt takes the device, but rather than agree to do as the man says, he uses it on the man himself.  As Mister Eyes howls and vanishes, another man in white emerges.  He strikes that man too, and hears the panic scream in panic as he falls apart... talking about a life he once lived.

Alone backstage, Wyatt considers his options.  He remembers the old man and the magic key and decides to revisit him.  Perhaps he can finally shed light to these questions that test his sanity.


In Moebius, Ronald Tenneberger has a panic attack as he considers the insanity of everything that has been happening.  But people take more notice when Zee shrieks and faints upon seeing something... beyond the veil that covers the world.  Red, the owner of the cafe/bar, calls emergency services and warns Ronald that if he had hurt that girl in any way, she would personally beat him up.  Ronald's gaze focuses on Queena's book and in his mind he locks the title:  The God-Machine.  Queena hisses at Ronald about having hurt the woman, but Ronald tries to convince them all that he had nothing to do with her outburst.  As Zee slowly begins to regain consciousness, Ronald still cannot wrap his head around the fact that Queena, the extremely tall cross-dresser, is the splitting image of KaQoH.  He helps Zee to her feet, and the two hurry away before the paramedics arrive.

"That's not.. right," Zee mumbles as the two head down the street.  Ronald looks up to see what Zee means.  To his amazement, the Twin Towers are still visible.  "That's just not possible.." Zee gasps, "Only one survived.  The other plane was shot down by the jets, right?"  Ronald slowly shook hi head, "Perhaps where you lived.  I don't think this New York City is either of our worlds."  They reach a building which Ronald remembers to be the Sun Building.  Instead, its name is the Star Building.  Stepping out of the doorway,  Ronald sees a woman who resembles Kandice.  Only here, she wears a nun's habit and shows no sign of recognizing him.  Kandice and Ronald had been in on-off relationships for years.  When a nearby car has someone who resembled the man knew to be Professor John, Ronald decides he's had enough, walks up to the old fogey, and beats him to the ground.  As Zee tries to demand for an answer, Ronald slides into the driver's seat and yells at her to get in.

Ronald revs the engine and drives with one destination in mind:  Wyatt Matthew's car.
He recalled the book Queena was reading, and given his odd recollections and fragmentary dreams matching the name and themes of that book, Ronald believed the writer held some answer.


Seth Macintyre wakes to the sound of a barking dog.  He sits up and discovers Rey Tinsey had broken in.  The man, whose face resembles Seth's own, asks Seth who he is and what he is doing here.  Seth admits he noticed the existence of other similar faces.  As Rey babbles about the God Machine, Seth worries if he has just found himself in front of a mad man but these worries are eclipsed by the sight of seeing a man dressed in all white seemingly materializing into the room from behind the stranger.

Rey senses something is amiss, and draws his pistol.  Seth, however, does not hesitate and leaps for the kitchen.  As Rey fires twice into the man in white, Seth already knows the gun won't stop its advance.  He sprays into the man's face, then scoops up the frying pan from the sink and slams it to knock the intruder out.  The man in white drops the spritzer in his hands, which Seth quickly picks up and offers to Rey.  "You want one?"

"How'd you get a pause from that one attacking us," he winced, "Have you been fighting these things?"

Finding Seth to be an ally, Rey sprouts out everything he knows about the assailants.  He talks about the Primes and how the God-Machine at times tests iterations of a "choice" to see which one should be allowed to pass.  Claims that was what they were.  Iterations.  When Seth inquires why he went here, to Graham's place, Rey admits he came because he knew that Graham's wife had contacted the God-Machine before.  "There's this mantra they say.  Like a prayer.  It calls it."

When Seth inquires if Rey tried the others, Rey nonchalantly admits that he tried reaching out to another iteration: Wyatt Matthews.  "I checked his home, but he wasn’t home, so i burned it."  Seth tries not do anything rash.  They opt to head there instead.


Wyatt arrives to see the building burning. People are all gathered outside. He stares at the place he once called his home and realizes it was now going up in flames.  He calls Mara and Mara asks, "Why do I have a feeling you are no longer here?" with here being backstage of the book launch.  As Wyatt tries to explain how his home is burning, Mara side comments about the cleaning lady nearby who seems to look familiar. "Her name's Madella, does she ring any bells?"  Wyatt is distracted however, having noticed embers floating away from a nearby alley, far from the fire.  He heads there and finds a portable potty's door wide open and emitting smoke and embers.  From inside, a badly injured and burned Donald crawls out.

"Keep away from me!  You and your devil books!" the old man snarls as he tries to get back to his feet.  But Wyatt yells back about having killed two of the guys in white and Donald doesn't seem to know whether to make heads or tales of his claim.  Wyatt sees the special Key still in the lock of the portalet and pulls it free.  He props Donald up to walk with him and makes in the direction of what he knows to be the closest motel.

A car skids to a stop near them and from inside a voice hollers for Wyatt to stop.  Wyatt looks and sees one of the men who looks like him.  He recalls him vaguely from the confusing encounters which he still has trouble grasping if they were dreams.  Or visions.  Or bouts of insanity.  Ronald plays his cards right and starts convincing Wyatt that stepping into the car is the best way to get answers.  Neither of them notice Donald however slip the special Key from Wyatt's pocket.  Nor see him slip it into the car's lock as he reaches to open the door.  Wyatt realizes in the last minute what is going and only notices as he steps into the car, that even with Donald holding the door open, from inside the car door remained closed!

Thanks to his skill with Parkour, Ronald slips out through the window and lands beside Donald, but Donald leaps in through the portal he had created.  Ronald tells Zee to follow and quickly leaps into the portal as to not lose the man.  Wyatt followed suit and leapt, but unlike Ronald did not have the finesse to follow through okay.

As Wyatt crashes to the ground atop Donald, he discovers they are no longer in the car.  Ronald tumbled past the old man and glanced around to realize they were inside the City Park.  All three of them poured out from a door in the children's slide in the playground.  Zee tumbled in after and landed on Wyatt, who sadly was taking the brunt of Donald's panicked kicking to get free. Zee wonders if this is why her brother Rey had killed himself.  Ronald admits he thinks Rey may still be alive.


"Tell me more of the Prime," Seth asks and Rey admits he doesn't know much about him.  He shares how he had broken free from "the Fictional World" in hopes of warning the rest.  He claims to have been a test subject for the God-Machine and that the Fictional World was some sandbox playpen where the God-Machine could test its theories.  "I can take you to it," Rey offers.

Hoping for any answers, Seth agrees to go.


Wyatt endures the kicks, but does not drop the Eraser.  Seeing the hatch on the slide, Ronald picks up Donald's Key and peers inside.  He sees it lead back to his kitchen.  Donald calms down, surrendering to the others.  He admits the Key can bring you anywhere, but there is one place where it can always go.  They open the hatch again and peer through.  They see a Japanese community.  Old signs.  Damp streets.  And in the heavens, a frozen symbol of coming death.

"This is where the bomb fell.  We are ground zero.  Hiroshima.  This event is locked in time.  So the key forever revisits this place."

Ronald doesn't quite why anyone would still revisit here.

"It is a safe place," Donald admits.  "Here, time cannot be changed again."

Wyatt hears his phone ringing.  Crawling away from Donald, he lifts the phone to his ear and hear's Mara on the line.  She sounds panicked.   Wyatt sees Donald staring at the Eraser.  "Why not just erase them all?" he throws at him.  Wyatt does not respond.  Even with Mara screaming into the earpiece, Wyatt has stares at the Eraser and considers the question.

Why not?


The alleyway.  Rey excitedly tells Seth about how he had to travel all the way from the Fictional World.   The man shows Seth where he left the machine, and what Seth sees is a junk pile of old chairs, duct tape, wires, broken computer keyboards, stacks of boxes and a shattered iPad.  He stares at the man as he excitedly chatters about the upcoming journey.  Seth watches as Rey hands him a helmet, sits down on one of two chairs, and tells him they're ready.  Reluctantly, Seth joins him and dons the helmet.  A switch is pulled and...

"We are here," Rey tells him.  Rey excitedly introduces him to the unbelievable vista that surrounds them.  Of the grand machines and the ever-changing patterns that form the Fictional World.

Seth realizes Rey is insane.  The "vehicle machine" is nothing but junk.  They remain on the street.  And Rey continues to describe things he alone can "see".  Seth uses the sprizter on Rey and allows the man to drop unconscious in his own seat.   He then looks up and sees the arrival of a Man in White.  “Let’s make a deal," Seth tells the man, then adds, "But first take me to your leader.”


Ronald calls Conners hoping to have the policeman ally of his help him out, but gets someone named Collins instead.  Confused not knowing who is him, Collins drops the call. Ronald calls again and the line still connects to Collins.  There are the sounds of people praying in the background.  Ronald opts to end the call.
He watches as Wyatt tests the metallic device on a cockroach.  The insect vanishes with a single click of the "Eraser."  Wyatt shares how he had killed two of the men in white using it.  This prompts Ronald to ask where he got it.  Which quickly spirals down to why he has it.

"So they wanted you to use it on us."

Wyatt claims to not have any such plans, but now Ronald is uncertain if this was just a trick.  And attempt to lure Ronald into revealing the whereabouts of the rest of them.


The Man in White brings Seth to the "leader."  In the spaces between the worlds, Seth finds himself shown the way, past the many winding staircases and passageways, to the meeting room of the one and only God-Machine.  The thing is complex.  Every changing.  Modular.

The Angel that meets Seth is a clockwork masterpiece, with moving parts and delightful details.  It speaks to Seth with single words, and challenges his limited capacity to grasp things to its advantage.  The city is being restructured, and the Angel believed that it would be best for all Iterations to simply do as they are told.

Seth would have none of that.

Quickly turning the tables around, Seth confounds the Angel with inquiries that he knew would push its buttons.  After a number of carefully selected insults, Seth throws the final big whammy statement:  "You don't have a full face," he mutters in reference to the erased Mister Ears and Mister Eyes which the Angel had explained were deleted by the Master Piece from the grid.  "So you cannot gather all the information you truly need."

Seth had made the God-Machine waver.  And in response, the God-Machine rose.


Pain.  Ronald feels an intense pain welling from his neck.  Wyatt and Zee scream as they see the massive mechanical arm extended from behind Ronald. The thing was like some sensor array, with lenses and rods poking out.  Its base was deeply rooted at Ronald's nape.

"What is it!??! Take it out!" Ronald called out but Wyatt new it would be unwise to risk the Eraser.  One miss and Ronald could be the one hit.  During the commotion, Donald slips away from them all and vanishes.   Satisfied to see the two iterations, the machine withdrew back beneath the flesh.

Feeling his mortality, Ronald decides to revisit Kandice.  The events unfolding have reached a point where their sanity once more was threatened.  But the door opens and a woman stares out at Ronald.  She does not know him.  She does not bat an eyelash.  She had no recollection of him at all.


The God Machine rises from the very ground like a tsunami of mechanical parts.  It swallows the Angel and brings to the fore an avatar for its own purposes.  A massive head towers above Seth, like the famous stone heads on Easter Island.  The out-pouring of stimuli is intense.  Seth struggles to retain self-awareness as the God Machine floods him with information with every answer.  A multitude of screens display variations of its words.  The varied languages of the world pour out as a complex chorus of speech patterns.

"What you need," Seth focuses on his own words, "Is a consultant. A guide.  You cannot break human to states.  Just because a man is idealistic, does not mean he cannot act cowardly.  Nor because he acts cowardly will it mean he cannot ever act idealistic again."

"Humanity exists to defy their own nature?" the God Machine understands.

“Humanity is Chaos.”


Ronald and Wyatt head to another familiar site for Ronald.  "The main man stays here.  KaQoH.  The gangbaner was always here to..."

The place was empty.

"This doesn't make sense," Ronald growled.

Wyatt hears his phone once more and quickly draws it out.  This time he tries to give Mara time to explain.  She brings horrible news.  Wyatt's parents have disappeared.  They were out on a cruise called the Fictional Liner.  The ship had befallen a terrible accident.  As the words reach Wyatt, he cannot help but feel this is all related to the events surrounding these strange times.  That his parents were being "punished" for his actions.


Seth challenges the God-Machine.  He questions if the God-Machine truly grasps the subjects of its attention and challenges it to consider details that it has opted to overlook.  From the many screens visible, Seth notices footage which tease events that have transpired through the days.  Scenes of Wyatt Matthews striking down two of the men in white with some device.  Of Ronald Tenneberger slipping through cities with the use of some Key.  Scenes of the God-Machine's methods slipping between the cracks of human notice.

"Steps have been made, taken to adapt to the final Chronology.  I am The God-Machine, I am built for The Purpose."

Seth questions how the God-Machine's main henchman, Mister Face, has fallen apart.

"You are Large, inefficient and prone to errors, because your face allowed itself to be erased.   You are no God."

The God-Machine realizes there is truth in that statement.  There are things beyond its notice.

“State your offer”

"I think I’ve changed my mind, I thought I was dealing with an equal. you are hardly a leader. You lack intuition. You can’t figure out what you are doing," Seth sneers.

Mister Mouth joins them.   He warns the God-Machine of the role this iteration plays in the grand design.  "He is a cog that leads to the destruction of the God Machine!"

But the God-Machine is not afraid.   This is not the first world.  God Machine has survived a reboot of the world before.  And what Seth offers intrigues him.

“Reboot means trying again, and guessing and guessing and guessing..” Seth smiles.  He knows the God-Machine desires answers.  And the con-man has successfully lured his mark.


Wyatt and Ronald decide to head to the Clock shop they visited in the past when Donald first had him search for Seth.   Wyatt feels more and more frantic, knowing things are closing in to some concluding moment.  Inside, the old woman manning the place recognizes Wyatt but as she talks to him, he realizes she is referring to him as if he were Seth.  It was as if all "stories" of each one were compiling into a single tale.

A woman arrives to have her clock fixed, and Ronald realizes it is Red from the Mobius cafe.  Wyatt recognizes her to be the officer from that Fictional Ship dream he had.  When they say hello, Red however refers to Wyatt directly.  From their exchange, it seems even the incident with Zee at the cafe is now referred to as events which transpired with Wyatt.

Ronald feels faint.  It is almost as if his very life is being rewritten.  He raises his hand to cup his face, and discovers he can see right through it.  Translucent and ghostly, Ronald panics and tries calling for Wyatt's notice, but his words no longer reach him.  The only thing more solid is some kind of metal mantis that clings to Ronald's spine.

In a moment of ingenuity, Ronald tries to reach out and possess Wyatt, thinking maybe he can borrow his body or something.  But then some kind of "illegal process error!" manifests on the mantis' face in response.  Twisting out of thing's reach, Ronald slides away and leaps through a wall to escape.  The mantis takes chase.


The God-Machine crafts a chamber.  The tube of glass and metal opens and welcomes Seth to step inside.  He is invited to step inside to begin assimilation.  Seth nods and walks inside without a word.  He's played his hand.

Now is time to see it to the end.


Ronald finds himself regain physical presence, unaware that this was a result of Seth's mingling into the God-Machine's systems.  Even the Mantis manifests as a real physical thing.  While this made it deadlier, this also made is something they can defeat!

Ronald leaps into the nearest car and hotwires the car to life.  Wyatt leaps upon the Mantis, in a defiant desire to call for his life back.

"Understand humanity.  Do you understand mortality?  The best way to understand is to test it."

The God-MachineSeth ponders on these thoughts as Ronald drives the car back to slam into the Mantis.  As the Mantis crumbles to the ground, like a broken sculpture of glass, Wyatt rolls away from the debris and watches as Ronald gives him one last nod, then guns the engine to drive away.

Wyatt watches as Ronald drives away and never returns.

"Step back. Let the world live."


Months pass.  

There have been no other attacks. Neither Ronald nor Wyatt have found themselves besieged by any strangeness.  Life has pretty much returned to normal.

Ronald had left New York City.    He sold the BMW he had hotwired, found a new car to break into, then drove around the country on a celebration of freedom.  He then drove to the Grand Canyon, drove the car over the cliff, then stole a trailer to leave.

Ronald remains mobile.  Happy of his life without roots.
Satisfied to be free.  Alive. Real.

Wyatt has launched his latest book, entitled “Brother Bear”
The book explored the story of two bears who were brothers.  A coming of age story that touched on community and transformation, on the world of the wild and the way the bears learned to live with the Native American Indians in their land.

Wyatt is a guest in the Ellen show, and the audience are all standing right now and doing the Brother Bear Dance, which Wyatt himself leads with a smile.  People start asking questions and a police officer asks, "Do you remember him?"

Wyatt, uncertain, asks, "Who?"

The police officer merely says, "Nevermind," and walks away.

And to end the show, Wyatt sits on a platform above a tub of water, and a young black boy named Jimmy is given a ball to pitch at a target.  "Dunk him into the water for charity!"  The boy takes aim.  Wyatt realizes it was the boy who opened a door in his life before.

"He remembers," the God-MachineSeth vocalizes.  "He still remembers."
But the God-MachineSeth decides to take a step back.  To allow life to unfold.
Given the membranes of chance that interconnect us all, the best way to grasp humanity is to let it live.

So the God-MachineSeth let it live.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Falling Ishtar ep06 : Dungeon World


Falling Ishtar
Episode Six

"In the End of it All"

Dungeon World

Chaos.  That turned out to be the root of it all.

Cairre has a fitful dream as he recalls his foster parents.  Even in his dreams, they warn him.  They beg him to be wary.  He awakens feeling angry of having lived a lie all this time.   With Lady Unisa still in the Eternal room, the Necromantic Dagger continues to lick at her life, waiting to be unleashed with the Ritual that Cairre had prepared.  Cairre knows that he must maneuver to Roderick soon.  He must use the Dagger to trap his former master within himself as a vessel.  It was the only way to defeat the Lich.

Roderick visits.  In a dream, Cairre sees his former mentor calling for him.  The Lich tells him it is not too late to save his friends, and in the vision, Cairre sees his adventuring companions all defeated on the ground.  Cities burn.  The sky is darkened by smoke.    Cairre swears to himself he will defeat the Lich.

Bjorn finds the orb of smoke which Cairre had once shown him and sacrifices it to Bob for some guidance on the matters at hand.  The Divination he receives shows the massive epic creature known as the Tarrasque rising as an undeniable force of supernatural danger.  Orbs of light illuminate the Tarrasque in key places.  Mountains crumble as the thing walks.  And a poppy flower blooms.   Bjorn realizes Bob is confirming their suspicions that the Tarrasque is indeed beneath the City of Flowers.  Melisande's story about the thing supposedly being forced asleep by its poppies seems to now ring true.

Hob inspects the orb Bjorn sacrificed and realizes it was a commonly used prison for spirits and demons.  He quickly surmises however, they would not be strong enough to hold a Lich.  A Lich, unlike spirits and demons, was still more man than spirit, and thus benefited from free will.

Gil and Cedric discuss the coming fight and Cedric admits he thinks it was time to head back home.  After nearly dying when they fought Voarex, Cedric realized that given the world may be ending, his deepest desire was to be with his family.   "A life of an adventurer, I guess, is not meant for me."   Gil tells him he was brave nonetheless and should go home proud.  Gil offers him back the potions his mother had given Gil, but Cedric admits, "You may need it more than me."  Cedric leaves for home, and the ranger merely watches him go.

Melisande considers finding possible allies in the City of Flowers.  Knowing it is the largest Church of Bob, Melisande realizes that title once belonged to Gonol before it fell.  She visits Unisa, who sadly does not have much to share.  Melisande relishes seeing the Dark Elf in her pitiful state, however.  The Dark Elf sneers at how the Sun Elf had clearly fallen from grace and become one of the Wood Elves instead.

“The beast from the depths. It comes from beneath!”    Bjorn wakes from the Divination.  Hob and Melisande join him as he tries to explain, “The City crumbles as it rises.”  The dwarf can barely be made to relax.  It is clear he feels the time to act is now.  “There are the end of days.”

Hob tells them they will go better suitably armed.  He spent some time in the Endless Room and ransacked it for items that may prove useful.  Hob found some priestly vestments crafted from stone in a tomb at the altar.  With Bjorn's new divine manifestation of being made of stone, it seemed fitting to let him wear it.  He found a hat with multi-colored feathers which suited Melisande.

Melisande shares with them the stories about the mark and convinces the group the urgency to go to the City of Flowers.  None of them, however, realize Cairre is getting a big push to do that as well that same moment.  Adon manifests infront of Cairre as a disembodied spirit.  Adon tried to use a Power Word to escape back to Cairre, but his imprisonment holds his body fast.  Roderick's Ritual keeps him trapped.  He tells Cairre the fightening truth:  Roderick has used the Magi themselves to become the very "strings" that allow him control over  the Tarrasque.    Panicked, Cairre rushes down the tower to find the others and realizes no one is there.   As rare as the moment is, he focuses on the task at hand and finds Gil outside (having just returned from bidding Cedric goodbye).  Cairre opens the Portable Hole and Gil hands him the hair he had received from Bridgette as a means to contact her.  "Tell her the Silver Lance is calling."  Rather than jump inside as well, however, Gil closes the Portable Hole behind Cairre.

Cairre arrives at the Eternal Room and the others are surprised to see One-Eye shapeshift into a humanoid form.  The two embrace as a bond now exists between them given their having survived the battle against Voarex.  As the group discusses how they plan to deal with Roderick, the topic of heading to the City of Flowers is once again raised.  Bjorn insists his interpretation of the vision Bob sent him is correct, but Unisa does question them on whether or not their actions may "free" the Tarrasque from Roderick's control.

Hob hands Cairre a dark Cloak which seems to be made of panther hide.  Its displacement properties were hopefully to help him in the coming battle.  And Hob has the Ion stone which Cedric found from the treasures activate and spin around him.    He holds on to a bow carved from Dragon Bone which he plans to hand eventually to Gil.  As the group considers their plans, they do not realize that outside the Eternal room, time passes far much more quickly.


Outside, Gil stalks the towering monstrosity known as the Tarrasque.  With Illuray carrying him in its talons, Gil spies the remnants of the City of Towers that has been lodged upon the back of the epic thing.  It seems its rising from beneath the City resulted in the city itself being torn from the earth itself and carried along with it.

It has been three days since Gil had rolled up the Portable Hole and made his way towards the City while the others were inside.  As the thing continues its relentless tread towards the City of Towers, Gil dodges the wave of debris that crashes in all directions.  Though he had no idea why Roderick would direct the thing towards the City of Towers, Gil knew it had to be stopped before it got there.  However, he was certain that there was no way he was defeating this beast alone.

The two swoop past the Tarrasque unnoticed and find that the remnants of the City of Towers remains inhabited!  As the city's inhabitants struggle to survive their crumbling home, Gil finds as well corpses of strange distorted things.  To his surprise, he finds the Silver Lance present!  Bridgette has become the woman in charge of the City's defenses and she quickly reports to him that prior to the Tarrasque rising, they were assaulted by twisted winged things that used to be elves.  Gil studies a corpse and realizes they seemed to have been elven-draconic hybrids - a sad sign that Melisande's mother was abducted to create these things.  As Bridgette admits there's a need for assistance, Gil unrolls the Portable Hole to allow the others to emerge.

Bjorn asks if the City still has a Temple to Bob and the others seem surprised that of all the deities, it would be Bob whom these heroes would look for.  Melisande tries to calm the people down with her songs.  But then the whole city... leaps.

As it becomes frighteningly clear, the City of Flowers is precariously balanced upon the epic monster.  And though its immensity is enough that its step does not cause the city to bounce off, when the Tarrasque actually moves beyond just walking the city's inhabitants are jolted out of place!

Outside, two massive armies from the City of Towers and other nearby farms and villages close in upon the Tarrasque.  Catapults and Seige weapons are unleashed, and while they all are dwarfed by the singular force of destruction, their assault does not go unnoticed!  The Tarrasque feels the impact upon its knees and stomps one of its many feet in response.  The earthquake that follows downs almost half of the armies before it.    On the City of Flowers, however, things fare less favorably as hundreds are flung away from the city and into open air!  Melisande fails to properly polymorph into  Roc and in the chaos, the stone-formed Bjorn slams upon her.  The others try to hold on to anything in the landscape.  If anything, the group knows they have to bring the fight to the beast.  And they have to do it now.

Each take to the sky in one way or another.  And Roderick reveals himself, standing upon the Tarrasque's head with the massive beast following its urgings.  Each of the Magi serving as a focal point for his Ritual to direct the Tarrasque -- for the beast is actually still asleep! All its movements have been through the magical urgings of Roderick's Ritual.  Cairre considers the act of killing the other Magi as unthinkable, and tries to challenge Roderick directly.  The two trade spells, and parry with their respective Dispel Magics.  Melisande struggles to retain her Elven thoughts in her Roc form, while Bjorn casts Sever to separate one of the Tarrasque's arms!

Hob and Gil struggle to think of what they can do to best the Tarraque, given the thing's immunity to be hurt or defeated using the same method twice.  Hob comes up with an idea so crazy it just might work.  Roderick planned this all.  His actions have been so meticulous that even Cairre's whole life was mapped out to serve some darker purpose - that he had to be raised thinking Roderick was not his father.  The Tarrasque was heading to the City of Towers, the same city which Roderick had - for months - prepped for the Ritual which affected all First Borne.   The only place Hob could think of as the Tarrasque's target was the City of Towers... until he realized also in the route were the Ruins of Gonol.

"The Eternal Room.  The Portal.  They lead there."

Gil agreed.  Hob  asked for the Portable Hole, and when Gil handed it to him, Hob asked Gil not to let go of the other end.  With a leap, Hob held on to his end of the Portable Hole, and the impossible thing began to stretch like a gigantic black net.  

"This thing cannot be killed by something that has killed it before.  But perhaps we can trap it.  Somewhere it has never been.  The Eternal Room! The Hole!"

Gil understood, and the two maneuvered closer to the Tarrasque's head.

Bjorn leapt onto the Tarrasque, and with a massive act of sacrifice, shattered the Monstrance of Bob to see if Hob's plan would truly work.  In his vision, he sees the heart of the temple in the Ruins of Gonol.    Roderick and Cairre trade more spells, and when the Portable Hole covers them all, they are all shunted into the Eternal Room.  Cairre stabs the Necromantic blade deep in a bid to finally rid the world of Roderick.


The Tarrasque sleeps.
Cairre and the others are alive.  As was Roderick who now triumphantly congratulates Cairre for doing everything he had hoped he would do.  As the other Magi, now free from the ritual, come close, Roderick blabbers about how everything was meant to push Cairre to become the embodiment of a new Seat for the Magi: the Seat of Evil.  Roderick exposes the chaos of his plan and how in its ashes, Cairre was forced to rise into prominence as the one who defeats the Tarrasque.  "Imagine, you have defeated an Epic Beast that none of the Magi could stop!  And in your heart you were willing to kill anyone to make it happen!"   The mad ramblings of a man who knew no true way to be a father.

The other Magi demand the others to stand down, citing that Roderick now will have to be punished as one of the Magi.  Cairre angrily accepts that he now is part of the Council and has a vote on the matters.  The others do not deny it.

Gil trains an arrow at the Council, warning them all of what their choices may lead them to do.  He challenges them to step away.  To no longer interfere with the lives of men.  The Council turn to Cairre.    The challenge is accepted.


Years have passed.  
Very many years.

Magic has long withdrawn from the world.   Though stories still are sung of great wizards, of magnificent beasts, of spells and rituals and strange artifacts of power.   But no, magic is but a myth, people say.

The Church of Bob stands proud.  A stone dwarf in penitence kneels at the temple.  Some whisper it sometimes seems to move.    People whisper of strange people living in the woods.  Not human, they whisper.  Not quite.  They don't realize the ones they speak too are such people as well.  Inbred enough to look like a mix of both.

Blood mingled together.

There are no dragons now.
No tomes of spells or hammers of stone.

But sometimes, a falling star streaks across the sky.
Leaving silver in its wake.


I lost my notes.  But I recall mostly this was how the game went.  Am sure certain things have changed from the actual game.  But that's okay.  Sometimes, it is how the story is told that matters more than the truth.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

System Shopped: Falling Forward

Falling Foward
System Shopped: Any
by Tobie Abad

My first encounter with "falling foward" was way back when I used to run this game called Marvel Super Heroes.  It was a fun classic role-playing game that made use of a bunch of color-coded tables to determine the success of your actions as well as the power level of the character's abilities or powers.  One of the interesting things about this game was that when you created characters, you were expected to ROLL randomly what power set you were to have, how you got them and the like.    Now, random character generation is a classic approach which Dungeons and Dragons introduced way back when three-six-sided dice were rolled to generate your stats.  But Marvel Super Heroes went far more than just numbers.  Where else would a game have you end up being a solar regenerating robot with digging powers who can animate drawings?  It was a game the insanity of your random rolls made you go, "Okay, how do I work with this?"

And that for me was the beginnings of falling forward.

I know for most, the concept of making failure something that still moves the story forward a landmark change of mindset which was introduced by Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel in Dungeon World.  For others, the idea was born from the Play Dirty ravings of John Wick who loved the drama and the narrative opportunities born from bad rolls as evident in his Houses of the Blooded game.   But for me, it all began way back with Marvel Super Heroes with its random character creation table.

The basic idea is to never make a bad roll to make the fun of the game come to a complete stop.

Here are some ideas on how to do that:

Quick note: Yes, these tips are not meant to be completely catch-all.  Some won't work for certain types of rolls, depending on the game.  Some might even not work for certain games.  Rather than lecture the reader on why this can or should or wouldn't work on specific games, I rather just offer ideas and let the reader judge for themselves which ones they'd want to try in their games.

1. Failed rolls don't fail the action, they just complicate the intention.

The warrior wanted to blind the minotaur by flinging the barrel at it?  The failed roll doesn't have it miss.  It hits, blinds the minotaur, which then tramples the others nearby.    The telepath attempts to read the mind of the suspect to discern if he is lying?  The failed roll doesn't have him read nothing.  He reads the mind and learns he is lying.  But also learns that the suspect is aware he's a telepath, and considered that in his plans.

2. Failed rolls don't halt the mystery, they instead throw a chance to explore something else.

The detective was inspecting the room and failed his roll to locate the signs that the murderer used a hook instead of a knife?  Then tell the player outright, "You end up following for the next three hours a false lead.  You mistook the markings on the bedside to be caused by a knife.  It wasn't a complete waste of time, however, since while you were focused on this..." and you then run another scene which adds to the narrative.  Maybe a side discussion from a fellow detective about how the city seems to be targeted by more and more dark acts? Or maybe while waiting for test results, the character's sister calls, worried about him.  Or maybe an old college shows up, and the two chat up about their lives.. and from that scene, you get to slip in a new detail worth considering.

Or maybe, just maybe, you don't have it clear that he failed, but as you go through the narrative, have an npc mutter, "Sir, I think you got things wrong.  That mark?  Its tapering at an angle, suggesting a different kind of edge.  That's a hook."  And the player knows he failed, but the story doesn't come to a stop.

3. Failed rolls delay the success.  But the delay may hinder the player from ever benefiting the success.

The science hero realizes the alternate earth Beefeaters are invading the world using portals that are opening all over the world.  He studies the portal device and determines a way to reverse the transmission.  The failed roll?  It doesn't shut the portal down, but instead has it key into one specific place instead:  where he is.  So now the Beefeaters emerge and force him to take a strategic retreat and hide in the woods and formulate a new plan.

Later, when he tries again to shut the device down, there might not even be a need for a second roll.  Genre-wise it would make sense to have him succeed this time.


I'm a late bloomer, admittedly, and I only recently started to appreciate the Gumshoe system (specifically the Night's Black Agents approach to it) and while I do like the idea of having the player merely spend points rather than roll to find the clues they want, I know not everyone would be keen in having two different resolution systems (one via rolls and the other via spending points) in a single game.  

Not to mention, it still is kinda limited to Investigation related rolls.

So I do hope these tips help those who haven't gotten the idea of "falling forward" to try adding them to their games.  Remember, keep the tension and narrative moving forward.  Keep the story flowing.  Make failed rolls just as interesting as successful ones.

Friday, September 20, 2013

[in development] A Single Moment Playtest

Here's a teaser of a playtest session of A Single Moment.
Thanks to Paolo Cabe who had his friends playtest it.


Playtested the original single moment with two friends, Peter Adam Rebadomia and Josh Fausto.

The two have been playing with me for a while on different systems (Dark Heresy, nWoD, Scion, Peter has played classic WoD) and they just happen to lean more on roleplaying over rollplaying. That's why their game worked, I guess.

Peter was a ripoff of Ukyo from samurai showdown. He was an Iaido practitioner who suffered from Tuberculosis.

Josh was some kind of clock work cyborg whose style involved making his blades vibrate.

The story they made was that the two were friends in childhood, with Peter's lover being his long-lost sister all along. However, Josh didn't want to ruin their happiness and kept that secret from them both. Josh, like Peter, were training to become samurai, but Josh wanted to get more power when he heard about a vibrating sword style. He found a female master who had an unsavory reputation, whereas Peter stuck to his 'pure' path. However, Josh's master actually had a crush on Peter - and ordered Josh to kill his lover/sister. When Josh found out her goal, (he had done the deed without question) he despised Peter for stealing her heart. (He had an infatuation with his master).

A turn of events made Peter a ronin, who carried his hatred as he eventually found Josh's master while looking for a new master. The two had their duel as soon as they found each other in the master's castle.

It is revealed that the vibrating sword style actually destroyed the body when used too often, so Josh had become a japanese clockwork (karakuri) cyborg. (He gained 5 scars by channeling hatred) Peter channeled his hatred and miraculously had no scars - which we came to interpret as his 'righteousness' despite all the mishaps in his life.

Luckily everyone in the group was into the game. They had fun describing techniques and swordplay moves. Meanwhile, I would make quips such as thunderclaps and lightning reflecting off the fearsome statues of guardian dieties at a nearby buddhist temple as they made their exchange.

Josh basically set up his own loss, having lesser edge and more scars. (I was glad they didn't complain about the disparity) Josh make a climactic "End it! I have nothing left!", revealing that the only organic part left in his chest is his KOKORO/heart. Peter, meanwhile, responds that "I can't!" - because Josh is the only thing in his life that hasn't yet been taken away from him.

The two men, who were about to die anyway (Peter due to tuberculosis, Josh due to his ruined body) limp off to the sunset to die in peace. I end the duel by saying that the thunderstorm has become a drizzle, while a camera pans to the large bronze buddha statue in the dark temple.


Glad you guys had fun with it!
Still tinkering with the system and so far, I haven't shown anyone my second draft rules yet.
But man I'm quite excited and I can't wait to someday release this.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Featured: Josh Jordan's interview on BS! Radio

Josh Jordan, awesome creator of Heroine and Doll gets interviewed and even more awesome has John Wick as the special guest interviewer.    Yes, Josh, I am ABSOLUTELY envious.  In so many ways!
"You made a damn fine game."  Now that is a true compliment.  You really did.

Check it out here:

Come on and support the Kickstarter! It is not too late!

And on a personal level, I must say..

At the 21:40 mark. Oh my god. I was mentioned.   I guess Josh really liked the Girl Elsewhere contribution I wrote.  Admittedly I still am in disbelief over that.  Hoooomaygawd.   


Josh Jordan just gave a shout out to John Wick from me.
And John Wick just replied, "I'm sorry you're not here, Tobie."

Me <-- fanboying much.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Attacks of Opportunity in Real Life

Rolling High very nicely captures the concept of Attacks of Opportunity.
A must watch for fans of Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons!

Friday, September 13, 2013

In development: A Single Moment

from Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple
A Single Moment
by Tobie Abad

The two samurai stared at each other, their hands resting on the handles of their respective blades.  Neither have drawn their weapon nor gave any sign of letting the insult slide.  The two stood in each other's way, and kept their feet firmly planted in place.  Clearly, it was a question of who would stand aside for the other.  Or who would take the insult to the next level and draw the blade.

They were once friends.  Called each other brothers even.  But now the time has come for honor to be regained.  For vengeance to be unleashed.

We are at that single moment.


A Single Moment is a two-player game that is played in a series of scenes (or for longer games, game sessions) called Chapters.  Each Chapter represents a flashback where the players explore the events that lead to this single final moment.  So imagine the game opening with the Samurai finally facing each other, then having a series of flashbacks, before finally ending the whole narrative with the final blow.


This is one of my currently being written projects.  I am still undecided if I will release it as a PDF on DrivethruRpg or if I should actually take a stab at releasing it as a Kickstarter project.    I also wonder if I will find an artist who would be willing to work on this.   Or someone to lay it out.

(Or someone to buy it)

*crosses fingers*

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Soundtrack Suggestion: Argo - Alexandre Desplat

by Alexandre Desplat

I wasn't expecting much from this movie when I first heard about it, given the director was going to be Ben Affleck.  Now at the time of this article's writing, the buzz online is all about how much it sucks that he's going to be Batman in the coming Superman movie, but I'll ignore that for now and focus on the fact that Ben Affleck did surprise a lot of people by coming up with a very well crafted movie.  Argo excites!  Argo embraces tension!  Argo has drama and comedy and yet never confuses what it wants to do.

And deliciously, so does the soundtrack to the movie which was done by Alexadre Desplat.  Some of you might recognize his name but most will appreciate his body of work, which includes uncredit work in The Twilight Saga soundtracks,  the Moonrise Kingdom soundtrack and the scores of movies such as The Queen and Coco Before Chanel.

The soundtrack is composed of 17 tracks and runs a total of 58:38 minutes long.  The soundtrack is a mix of traditional Middle Eastern motifs with a nice blend of orchestral cores.    The soundtrack has a mix of pulse-building sequences and calmer atmospheric hues which can nicely fit many games, so long as the Persian touch is welcome.

Argo (Track 01) opens with an evocative mood that brings to mind a mysterious desert landscape, and this thematic thumbprint becomes a foundation for the many later tracks that follow.  A Spy in Tehran (Track 02) quickly carries the pace forward, adding more action to the emotional yearning of the opening song.  Scent of Death (Track 03) opens with a repeating synthesized voice, and the recognizable wailing female voice that marks typical Middle Eastern soundscapes.  The Mission (Track 04) shifts gears and slides back into the more familiar patriotic hues of any Hollywood production.  The signature swells and rising uplifting tides are here. Hotel Messages (Track 05) opens with a vocal play which reminded me of performances of groups like STOMP, but then nicely blend back into the leitmotif which the first track created.  The end result is a nice exotic tunnel which works very well.  Held Up By Guards (Track 06) opens with a base groan and a solo piano, which sounds bleak and cautious, lending an uncertain feel on whether or not one is safe or in trouble.  But as the piano gives way to more traditional Persian instruments, the song gains traction and clearer identity.

The Business Card (Track 07) and  Tony Grills the Six (Track 09) opens with a clear play on tension and danger.  The songs could actually slip into the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack and they would still work.  Breaking Through the Gates (Track 08) sort of slips into a more expected action-sequence punch with vibrant touches mingling with almost bazaar like energy which reminds me of movies like Bourne Identity but the way vocal touches are mixed in to the song gives it unexpected layers that make it stand out in a very good way. The Six are Missing (Track 10) and Sweatshop (Track 11) are easily my favorite tracks as they very effectively blends the vocal stylings with music for a cathartic and almost haunting atmosphere.  

Drive to the Airport (Track 12) starts with a punchy pace, then at the 1:30 mark, almost gives a sense of calm, before diving headlong back into tense waters til it hits another lull at the 2:40 mark, and finally one final swell before the calm of the 3:15 mark.  The track overall carries a sense of hope.   Missing Home (Track 13) opens soft and introspective but the shift to active at 1:40 seems a tad jarring, which kind of goes in opposition with the rest of the soundtrack.  Having seen the movie, however, I totally get how this track works.  I'm not much of a fan of Istanbul (The Blue Mosque) (Track 14) since I feel it seems less well-thought out in its use of voices and the mix feels a tad more closer to a slight cacophony than a well-composed piece for me.  When the strings enter at 1:20, I feel the piece gets even more lost in what mood it wants to convey.  It feels almost like a Western attempt to define the soundscape of a Middle Eastern idea.  Worst of all, it ends oddly.  Feels very unfinished.   In contrast, Bazaar (Track 15) is a deep blend of harmonies that almost bring one to envision a religious experience and  Cleared Iranian Airspace (Track 16) never lets up with the rising tide of hope and danger.  Both feel very carefully crafted (some would say almost manipulatively so) to accomplish specific results.  The soundtrack ends with Hace Tuto Guagua (track 17) by Familion as a hummed melody which reminds us of the fragility of life, the enduring power of hope and the strength that comes from courage within.

Argo OST track suggestions:
WTF moment: None
Introspective/calm moment: Argo (Track 01),  Tony Grills the Six (Track 09), Istanbul (The Blue Mosque) (Track 14)
Tense/mystery moment: A Spy In Tehran (Track 02), Scent of Death (Track 03), Hotel Messages (Track 05), Held Up By Guards (Track 06), The Business Card (Track 07)
Combat music: Breaking Through the Gates (Track 08)
Hopeful moment: The Mission (Track 04), Drive to the Airport (Track 12), Hace Tuto Guagua (track 17)
Drama/sad moment: The Six are Missing (Track 10), Sweatshop (Track 11),  Missing Home (Track 13), Cleared Iranian Airspace (Track 16)

Best Used In: You will note how many tracks in the album are for tense scenes so games with such moments are perfect.  I can imagine this soundtrack working for games like Night's Black Angels or multicultural games like Aeon Trinity.  I've also used the soundtrack wonderfully to score a few sessions of the board game Pandemic.  Mileage may vary, however, depending on how broad a soundscape you want to explore.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Advanced Doll... first draft sent in

So this...

So this is the feeling of creative panic.  Of worrying that people will be disappointed.  Of fearing that your work will be seen as inept.

Just finished the first draft for Advanced Doll.  Admittedly, Josh Jordan asked me to come up with a four-page expansion for this game, and I think my brain just went overboard.  I've toyed with the idea of splitting thing into two supplements:  Advanced Doll and Experienced Doll.

I wonder if the work will be received well.  I wonder if these people will also remember my name when I finally get around to posting my own work for a campaign.  Gosh.  Mixed feelings.  Mostly positive.  Some practically self-destructive.

Here's hoping he likes it.

The Kickstarter has taken huge leaps forward.
I am absolutely floored.

Here's hoping it goes all the way to the 3k mark.
Make it so, people.

The Magic of Doors

The Magic of Doors
by Tobie Abad

Doors.  The mysteries that they hide.  The stories that they birth.    Doors are portals to more than just the next room, they are gateways to adventure and secrets.  Here are some ideas on how to make a door curiously interesting in your games.

1. The Door is Locked
No one knows how to open it.   Or the key was something you have to find.  Maybe the key isn't even a typical key.  Consider Pier's Anthony's The Skeleton Key and how that story explored the many ways "key" can mean.  Or perhaps the key unlocks more than just the door itself like in the graphic novel series Locke and Key.

2.  The Door cannot be Closed
This usually entails the need for a reason you'd want to close it.  Or a desire to never have it closed.  The door can be an actual portal, wooden frame and all.  Or it can be figurative - like access to creativity or dreams.  Or money.

3.  The Door Was Not There Before
You wake up to notice a second door in your room which you never saw before.  Or you wake up one late night and realize down the alleyway visible from your window, the dead end now has an open door with light streaming out and pounding music coming from within.  Maybe the door isn't even where a door should be.  You catch your lover mumbling in her sleep, and a small doorway has popped open from her temple.   Sometimes, it can even be something as simple as a door opening the impossible way, separating from the wall hinges side, and yet not falling off the frame as it swings open to reveal a path that could not exist before.

4.  The Door has Changed
Sometimes it might be just something subtle, like the white door now appearing gray.  Or its simple handle suddenly replaced with an ornate iron one.  Maybe it suggests something having visited, like the door now having claw marks at the outside.  Or worse, a bloody hand print on the inside.  Maybe your key stops working with it.  Or maybe the noises through it sound different from what you can see outside the peephole.

5. The Door Isn't.
Maybe it was a maw hungry for more meat.  Or a throat swallowing new souls into hell.  Or a closed eyelid and now the massive orb stares at you and judges you silently.  Maybe the door turned out to just be a drawing on the wall - and now you wonder how you got in the room in the first place.  Maybe it is alive and talks back.  And offers secrets, if you figure out the riddle it asks.

Who said they had to be boring and simple?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Doll is more than alive!

It is getting awesomely epic.

We've just hit the $900+ mark and there are still 19 days to go.
The $750 stretch goal was that I write Advanced Doll, the advanced rules options for Josh Jordan's Doll game.   I was pretty psyched because this meant I was finally getting one dream fulfilled (getting a game published with my name as the byline) and though this is just a four-page supplement, it was a good step forward from simply contributing a chapter to a supplement.

Once again I am reminded to stop worrying about how others will or won't like my work and to just write it and get it out there.

Man.  This is it.
Advanced Doll, I better get the first complete draft to Jordan asap.   The pages I've written so far haven't been sent to him for the initial read through, but that's cause I'm still adding even more stuff to them.

Funny how four pages doesn't seem as much as you'd think.
If you guys out there wanna check it out, or even better, support it, head on here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Recommended: John Wick's Play Dirty "Power to the Players"

Amen! Amen to this!
I've seen many others who approach games which such an antagonist approach to the role of the GM, I am happy to know I'm not alone in viewing GMing as a co-creative role with the players.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five Inspirations: 7th Sea

Guild Wars 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2


Pirates of the Carribean 3: The World's End

The Golden Compass

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Game Idea: The Game of Shi

As part of this year's Creative Pay It Forward, I promised my friend Bryan an rpg inspired by Naruto.
This is his request.

Welcome to the Battle Dojo, young warrior.  Among you all, only one shall emerge triumphant.   Which House do you hail from, young warrior?  Are you from House Sand, where anything you touch can become a deadly weapon?  Are you from House Song, whose influence is far wider than most realize?  Or are you from House Shadow, keepers of hidden lore?  If not, then perhaps you are of House Savori, trained in the secret Cooking arts?  Now take your places and be ready to fight!  Prove your skill!  Regain honor.

And claim victory.

Welcome to The Game of Shi.

The Game of Shi is a home-brewed rules lite game inspired by Naruto and Rouroni Kenshin.  The game features opposing Houses vying for a coveted seat engaged in intense duels where a single mistake can cost you your life.

Welcome then, Young Warriors
Each player in the game should have a deck of cards.  Players must all come from a different House.  If there are more than four players, then some will inevitably come from the same House.   It would be best if the number of players is in multiples of four.  But if not, I can probably come up with revised rules to accommodate that if there is interest in such.

Each player draws a card from his deck to determine what House he was accepted into.  Whoever has the highest value gets to choose a House first.  Aces, in this game, count as eleven.  Jacks are twelve.  Queens are thirteen.  Kings are Fifteen.  Jokers are Wild and can count as any number the player wants, so long as they are used in relation to the House Mastery.

♠ Spades represent House Shadow
House Shadow, the House of Secrets
Mastery:  Hidden Knowledge
There are precious little that members of the House Shadow are unaware of.

♥ Hearts represent House Song
House Song, the House of Strings
Mastery: Discreet Connections
Knowing the right person can make a huge difference.

♦ Diamonds represent House Sand
House Sand, the House of Edges
Mastery: You Live By My Choice
The world is their weapon.

♣ Clubs represent House Savori
House Savori, the House of Delicacies
Mastery: Alchemy
A Good Dish Can Halt a War.

Character Sheets Do Not Exist
Ninja do not use Character Sheets.  Instead, their ability to maximize whatever is in their hands is vital to their survival.  In this game, therefore, the same frame of thinking applies.   All players are assumed to be generally of equal ability.  What differs is when they capitalize on whatever they get their hands on to work in their favor.  This is represented by the cards.  Whenever a player opts to do an action which may be opposed by another, or if they attempt an action whose failure may have dire consequences, they draw three cards from the deck.

♠ Spades represent Information and Knowledge.
Spades are used when the character attempts to draw upon their intellect and wisdom in an action, or attempt to recall or understand things.

♥ Hearts represent Social Ties and Charisma.
Hearts are used when the character attempts to gain trust, boost confidence, or encourage friendship.

♦ Diamonds represent Prowess, Speed and Finesse.
Diamonds are used when the character attempts to kill, to maim, to harm or to use mobility to one's advantage.

♣ Clubs represent Physical strength, endurance and grit.
Clubs are used to accomplish physical feats, recover from injuries or stand against fear.

Resolving Actions
When the player wants to do such an action, the player plays any of the three cards to represent the action.  If there are no cards of the right suit, the player can use cards of another suit, but they count only as 50% of their usual value.  The opposed player or the narrator then also draws three cards to act against the player.  Whoever has the higher card gets to narrate what happens.  But if the other player accomplished at least half of the winner's value, he gets to add an additional detail as well. The detail cannot contradict any previous.

Example:  Adam wants to sneak into the Dojo, but Bill is keeping his eyes open for any cheaters.  Adam draws there cards and plays an eight of Diamonds.  Bill, however, gets lucky in his draw and plays a Queen of Diamonds.  Bill gets to declare the resolution, "I notice Adam sneaking into the Dojo." But Adam's eight is at more than half of Bill's Queen which is thirteen, so he gets to add a detail.  "But I get to slip in before you can stop me!"

However, if the acting character is undertaking an action applicable to their House, they can play a second card of the same suit when given the chance.  This allows two cards to be added for a greater result.

Players can opt to hold on to the remaining two cards to use them in later scenes, or discard a card to instantly add +2 to their played card.  This can represent them planning ahead for later confrontations, or last second twists to make things work.

Example:  Adam slides into the Dojo and searches for the Quiz answer sheet.  Bill moves in to follow.  "I want to find it before Bill arrives," Adam declares and draws three cards and plays a five of Spades.  Since he is of House Shadow, he can play a second card if it is of the same suit, which happens to be a four of Spades.  This gives him a total of nine.  Bill draws and only has a six of Spades, so Adam has the edge.  However, he opts to discard his two other cards for a +4 to his result, getting a ten.  "Not so fast," Adam smiles and discards his last card, boosting his nine to 11.  "I find the answer sheet and slip out before you get to me," Adam smiles.  Bill's 10 allows him a detail however, so he adds, "But you fail to realize you dropped your armband with the House sigil on the floor."  Adam realizes this might complicate his smooth escape.

Getting Hurt
When combat finally ensures, players are invited to be as creative about their ninja skills as they want.  Clearly, they have their House to draw from as inspiration.  A House Song Ninja might launch sonic strikes at the opponent, while a House Savori Ninja might quietly sip some tea and smile as her opponent falls unconscious from the tea's aroma.  As before, players compare card values to see who has the edge.  Scoring higher allows you to do one of two things:  Injure your opponent or Frustrate your opponent.  Injured opponents can only draw two cards instead of three until they recover from their injuries.  Recovery can simply be a trip to the clinic, or a good night of bed rest.  Injuries are cumulative so if you hurt someone thrice, chances are they have no choice BUT to rest or ask for help.

Frustrating an opponent deals no damage, but allows you to throw a new detail on how you are gaining an edge in the fight.  This manifests as you being allowed to draw an extra card in the next draw.  (You draw four instead of three).  Unlike hurting, however, frustrating is not cumulative.

Killing Actions does not happen in this game.   But if the narrative requires a dramatic death, then it happens.

The Challenges
As the gathering opens the competitions, each player draws a card to declare the details of the challenge.


Ace, Joker
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Roll twice

Roll twice

Roll twice

Roll twice

Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Stealth Mission
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Cultural Match
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Athletics Challenge
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Zen Mission
Jack, Queen
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Sparring Match
Roll twice
Roll twice
Roll twice
Roll twice

Once matches are set, players can describe the details of the matches.  They can share outlandish ideas on how the Athletics Mission, for example, might entail balancing on bamboo poles while carrying stacks of porcelain bowls from one end of the lake to another.  Or how the Zen Mission might be about using chopsticks to catch a single golden painted fly while blindfolded.   Each player describes the challenge they had drawn, but with this caveat:  A player of the House that matches the Challenge the most, gets to add a detail.

♠ Spades are House Shadow's favor and reflect missions that have to do with misdirection.
♥ Hearts are House Song's favor and tend to add a musical or auditory component to the challenge.
♦ Diamonds are House Sand's favor and tend to have a touch of danger or weapons.
♣ Clubs are House Savori's favor and usually add a taste or aroma quality to the challenge.

Yes, a Ninja of House Shadow who drew Queen of Spades, gets to declare what the challenge is, and add an extra detail.

Epic Jutsu
Finally, Ninja can pull off three kinds of Epic Jutsu if they are graced by luck and skill to unleash them.  Epic Jutsu beat all normal cards because they are incredible moves that require tremendous skill to accomplish.  Bear in mind that Epic Jutsu need NOT be attacks.  They can reflect how a single sung note stuns an audience into silence, or a perfectly seasoned shrimp dumpling that causes an opponent to weep out of loneliness for home.

The A-Rank Jutsu is the lowest form of Epic Jutsu
Unleashing an A-Rank Jutsu  is accomplished by playing three cards of sequential rank of at least two different suits.  A-Rank Jutsu beat all normal moves.

The S-Rank Justu is the next highest form of Epic Jutsu
Unleashing an S-Rank Jutsu is accomplished by playing three cards of the same suit.  An S-Rank Jutsu beats all normal and A-Rank moves.

The Ultimate Justu is the highest form of Epic Jutsu
Unleashing an Ultimate Jutsu is accomplished by playing three cards of sequential rank in a single suit.  An Ultimate Jutsu beats all normal, A-Rank and S-Rank moves.

When two Ninja happen to use the same Epic Jutsu against each other, the Highest Card in the hand is used to compare and determine the winner.

There are rumors of a secret jutsu even higher than Ultimate, but that perhaps is a secret to be unlocked in time.

Enjoy the game!

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