Friday, April 25, 2014

The Century Club ep00 : Spirit of the Century

March 2014

The Century Club
Spirit of the Century

Episode 0

For three office mates at Indigo Entertainment, we're about to have a mini-chronicle of sessions using Evil Hat Productions' Spirit of the Century system.  This was going to be a new system for all of us (although having played Houses of the Blooded and Fate Accelerated, I wasn't exactly jumping into this without any familiarity.

The cast includes:

Sir Victor Knightfellow, Reluctant Modern Wizard and Adherent of the Old Ways.
Played by Paolo.

The man of mystery was a Scion of Merlin, who Jumped At The Call for adventure.  A self-professed Crowley Fanboy, he is blessed with the Devil's Luck and seems unfazed about Playing With the Big Boys.    He practices a form of magic (My Deepest Sympathies) and tends to have trouble with heights (I Am Not A Bird).   A traumatizing incident which had him on a life-or-death suspended Cliffhanger lead to him eventually becoming known as the Hero of France in an adventure which had bring bringing back the stolen suspended Eiffel Tower.
His spirit companion is a demon trapped in an urn, who manifests as his reflection at times.  He also owns the Talisman of the Wylde which allows him some influence over the lower beasts of the earth.

Walter Le Frogge, Bounty Hunter trained by the world-feared Brotherhood.
Played by Tio.

The dark hero is the First Human Frog, who is known to be a Doubting Thomas at times.  But as a Friend Of The Shadows, there's no question that nothing escapes his amphibian gaze (I Notice Everything).  With deadly Ninja (S)kills and a tendency to Double Tap his targets (a habit that grew out from a misadventure with draugr encounters in London), he now does what he can to make sure Dead People Should Stay Dead.  His existence, however, born from experimentation by the 7 Warlords of Japan, is a blight upon the world as far as others are concerned.  This has made him the Normalist Enemy Number One.  It has, however, taught him there is Strength In Diversity.

Le Frogge has a pair of Bracers that actually conceal sharp blades.  He can even release the blades as flying projectiles for limited uses.

Kenji Katana, the first and only Steam-Driven Robot and the Last Samurai of Japan.
Played by Flip.

The outsider Kenji sought only to bring honor to his clan (Make My Parents Proud) but during the war found himself dying against the superior firepower of the enemy.   To his surprise, he awoke inside a whole New Metallic Body under the strange experimentations of the 7 Warlords of Japan.  Now acting as A Spirit Of Vengeance, Kenji struggles against foes in all fronts (The World Is An Evil Place) and hopes to bring peace By Any Means Necessary.   Having an unliving body has made him a Man For All Seasons, but while almost indestructible, Kenji still stuffers from Daddy Blues and Years For Humanity.    In some ways, however, his being raised by a traditionalist family allows him the truth that Ignorance Is Bliss.

Katana is armed with the family blade, and its magical properties have yet to be revealed.

During character creation, the following antagonists were formed with the players' help.  

The Brotherhood.
An Assassin guild that targets political figures.  The group follows a twisted sense of morality and targets people it deems to be corrupt.    The brotherhood had trained Walter Le Frogge to serve as their assassin but lost him during the war.

The Normalists
Lead by the charismatic Warren Harding, the group seeks to bring back normality to the world.  The group despises the existence of groups such as The Century Club and uses their considerable knowledge and networks to threaten supporters of such deviance.  

The White Circle
The circle of demons that had escaped from the Urn of Solomon call themselves by this moniker.  Now free to tempt men to their ways, the White Circle has a terrible plan they hope to someday unleash upon the City of London.

The Amnesia Academy
During their earlier adventures, the heroes found themselves travelling to Moscow to liberate children from a school that had been experimented on by the Normalists.

7 Warlords of Japan
A Japanese superscience group that sought to gain an advantage during the war. Their original headquarters, the Impenetrable Fortress, was destroyed when Kenji Katana sought to break away.

Among the cast of NPCs in the game include:

Ada Lovelace
The heroes were investigating a series of strange deaths which eventually were tied to a chain letter which Ada Lovelace had first released to her friends.  The chain letter, it turned out, contained a deadly "symbiotic meme."  The alien life existed in a visual symbolic form and passed on from host to host when the carrier happened to be reading and writing the symbol that moment.  

Count Baron von Duke.
Self-professed savior of humanity. Unleashed the Draugr Conspiracy in a bid to kill the Crowley Foundation. Financied Unit Akira-4 during the war. Created the Twisted Castle (illusions, puzzles) but was bested by Le Frogge.

And the Centurions.
The three heroes have been invited to join The Century Club, composed of various heroes and super science men who have gathered under one goal: To make the world a better, safer place.  The group has exclusive membership and is spearheaded by Elijah Frost, the Bringer of Cold and Alister Crowley of the Crowley Foundation.   The two, like all the other members, were born at the turn of the century, and possess strange and wonderful abilities beyond mortal men.

Elijah Frost has the ability to draw out heat and manipulate the bitter cold that is created.  He has super frosted opponents fast enough to stop them mid run and can affect large areas with enough concentration.

Alister Crowley, codenamed Mister E, is the Man of Mystery in the group.  His knowledge of both arcane and occult lore provides The Century Club a perspective that others do not typically see.  His understanding on matters of chaos and infernal lore are unparalleled.

Dynamite Dana, nicknamed the Bombshell Bonde, has somehow gained the capacity to unleash intense explosive kinetic force by slamming her fists against a solid surface.  Barely seventeen years old, Dana dresses provocatively and tends to approach things with a devil-may-care attitude.  Her costume resembles those of roller blade wearing waitresses, only in the colors of the flag.

Professor Noble is the super science wiz kid who supplies the group with the gadgets they may need in missions.  Skilled in multiple fields, his superior intellect is often overlooked given the fact he is only twelve years old.  

Mayday Morris is the Stuntman Without Fear.  Easily the oldest in the Club, Mayday Morris admits he experienced a "second life" after nearly dying in a stunt involving a train.  Mayday has since then discovered a penchant for instantly understanding how vehicles work and mastering using them within seconds of steering/piloting or flying one.  Mayday Morris was the one who rescued both Dana and Noble from suspended animation inside one of the many secret bases of Unit Akira-4.

Svetlana Sol is the Soviet Supersoldier Super model who is said to be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a Panzer tank, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, and still struggles to master the English language.  Her playful attitude stands in contrast with her immense strength.  Svetlana believes that higher ideals are far more important than national allegiances.  (Svetlana was taken from Tom Strong, Svetlana X for this game.)

Cosmo is a Russian talking dog from the future.  Lost in time and space, Cosmo claims to have come from a future where he was sent up to space to test a satellite.  The satellite, he claims, had fallen through a wormhole rift and emerged to find himself in an alternate past.  Cosmo has the heightened sense of a dog, the superior intellect matching a human's, and telepathic powers of a scale yet to be revealed. (Cosmo was taken from Guardians of the Galaxy for this game).


For the prelude, Le Frogge was having a talk with Dynamite Dana, who seems very excited about the upcoming anniversary celebrations of the Century Club. The two were watching over a harbor area for smugglers who were supposed to try and bring weapons over from some foreign place.  Dana admits that she finds Kenji cute, which puzzles Le Frogge given the young girl seems to be claiming to find attraction towards a mechanical being.  The two easily dispatch the smugglers, and Le Frogge at least feels happy to know Dana is someone he can talk to if he starts feeling out of place in the public event.

Elsewhere, at the Century Club manor, Victor is talking with Crowley about needing a new codename, and the two have been tossing back and forth ideas on what to call him.    By the time the name "Fantomas" is suggested, a name inspired by the fact that the french are currently adoring Victor for having saved the Eiffel tower, the new man of mystery meets the sweet and intimidating Svetlana Sol who insists that Victor come to the party as her date.   She engagingly tells him about the adventures one goes through as a member of the Century Club and admits that many still worry about her membership given her affiliations with the U.S.S.R.

And finally by the lake behind the Century Club manor, Kenji finds himself bonding with an unlikely member: Cosmo.  The telepathic dog talks to him about how they both are.. similar.  "We two are lost in the world. Cosmo lost in time. You lost in living."  Kenji realizes Cosmo also finds a silence in being with him, given his mechanical body shields his thoughts from pounding upon the dog.  He rubs the cosmonaut's belly and the two talk about the joys of the quieter moments.

"Don't stop scratching..." Cosmo telepathically reminds Kenji, who finds himself longing for the life he once had... and the dog he once cared for.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Been Busy

I apologize to my readers for the sudden slow flow of updates.  I've just been juggling a lot of things and my day job hasn't been making things easier (but don't get me wrong, the job is AWESOME!)  In a few days, my birthday is coming up too, which kinda has gotten me overly stressed out over so many other things.

But life is good, gaming is great, and to be honest, I still am scared to release my own game this year.  But with all the support, kind words, and enthusiasm my partner and our many friends continue to shower, I know I should go for it.

Anyway, I'll try to get the ink flowing and crank up on the gaming updates soon.
Ever since I started recording sessions on my phone, I've lessened my note taking.  But I've now realized that the phone doesn't capture everyone's voice that well, and this causes delays in transcribing them cause now I do not have notes on the sessions. :-(

Will find a perfect balance on that soon.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Soundtrack Suggestion: American Beauty - Thomas Newman

American Beauty
by Thomas Newman

Way back in 1999, a movie called American Beauty hit the theaters.  The Sam Mendes film was written by Alan Ball (True Blood and Six Feet Under) and stars Kevin Spacey as Lester Burhman, a man who falls for his teenage daughter's best friend.  The film explored the dark secrets of middle class America and mixes comedy with artistically presented dramatic moments.

The moment I saw the film, I realized the score was so wonderful that it could be used to great effect in role-playing games.  The soundtrack has 19 songs in it, and clocks at around 35 minutes long.

Dead Already (Track 01) opens with a play on percussions, building with a single tone that slowly grows in harmony, strings and beats.  The track nicely can be used to introduce any non-combat or tense scene.    Arose (Track 02) then shifts to an almost ethereal and curious mood, with tubular chimes dancing around the scene.  The Power of Denial (Track 03) feels almost dangerous and threatening.  There's a distinct feel of "something not right" without dipping fully into full danger mode.  The occasional rattle helps give an added push on something dangerous lurking in the fringes.  Lunch with the King (Track 04) is a piece that moves forward with confidence and clear direction.  There is a slight shift at the 50 second mark, almost suggesting a moment of rest, but the piece does not relent and keeps at the steady pace of someone in motion.  Mental Boy (Track 05) takes a haunted feel, which some might even associate with how Silent Hill was approached, but then at the 40 second mark, turns introspective.  There's a sense of connection happening in the piece, slightly sad and yet slightly hopeful.

Mr. Smarty Pants (Track 06) plays like a good closing tune to a television episode.  There's a sense of resolution, if not clarity suggested in the harmonies.   Root Beer (Track 07) turns the world around, with a sense of fascination mixed with danger.  There's an undertone of seduction and risk inherent in the piece you'd find fun to use.  Be warned, however, the pace turns frenetic at the 50 second mark which can make it hard to use in some games.  American Beauty (Track 08) has the main leitmotif taking front and center with the piano nicely becoming the centerpiece to the whole track.   Powerful and moving, the piece can be used in happy, sad, or uncertain moods without needing much accompaniment.  I liked how this piece carries the scene well and being one that's 3 minutes long, you can get a lot of mileage with this even without repeating it.

Bloodless Freak (Track 09) carries the same life as Lunch with the King but has occasional shifts to almost suggest a montage of scenes.  A crafty storyteller can describe a different location with each musical shift, if he wanted to portray a visual montage that timed well with the tunes.  Choking the Bishop (Track 10) tiptoes into uncertainty and secrecy, with the use of almost ghostly percussions and the harsh entry of strings.  The track has multiple... moments of silence.. punctuated with an increasing pace and sense of urgency.  A tougher track to use in a game, but one which can be effective if you work it in advance.

Weirdest Home Videos (Track 11) has touches of synths to help support a calmer feel and mood.  The track might be good to use in scenes where some exposition is needed.  However, watch out for the mood shift at the 40 second mark which might throw you off.   After 1 minute, the track gains even more musical depth as additional instruments join in to build a growing harmony.   Structure and Discipline (Track 12) feels very heavy, even if it does not use low frequency harmonies in it.  There's a sense of seriousness inherent in the piece, and a lone horn at one point attempts to pull you deeper in.  The loneliness teased by the track grows almost foreboding at the 1 minute 30 second mark, but the incessant piano notes try to offer a glimmer of hope.

Spartanette (Track 13) is one of the signature tracks of the movie (as it brings the visuals of the woman with the roses - yes I'm still trying to leave some for the imagination- to ones mind.)  Again the track has a few silent pauses, and from each pause, the track returns more energetic and tense.  The track naturally leads to Angela Undress (Track 14) which takes back the leitmotif and gives it a more vulnerable touch.  The piano is accompanied by almost "ghostly" sounds that intermingle with what sound like crickets, only to blend away with strains of lonely strings.  A sad piece worth revisiting in a game.

Marine (Track 15) feels almost like the countdown music for a trivia game show and does engage the listener to feeling a sense of time mattering.  The clockwork pace of the song, with the added rattles, unsettles and makes one anticipate something bad is going to happen.  Walk Home (Track 16) brings in the usual harmonic yearning with an almost intrusive piano portion, almost like you have two harmonies desperately trying to merge but ending up... contrasting.  Chimes take center stage as the piece moves away from contemplative and approaches something that feels more final.  Blood Red (Track 17) is definitely a track that has the impression of a close.  The piece feels like its telling the listener the story is wrapping up, and the storyteller can capitalize on that to mood.  Any Other Name (Track 18) opens with an almost ghostly echo and brings in the leitmotif with a sad contemplative touch.  The 1 minute mark tries to offer hope, but the feeling is clear: we have reached the destination of the tale.  Somber.  Sad.  Whispering.  The track can offer hope, but mostly it hints that the best course of action is done and we are left with the repercussions.

And finally, Still Dead (Track 19) returns to the leitmotif with a nice strong presence.  The harmonies nicely wrap around the listener and bring the whole musical experience home, strings and clapping and all.

American Beauty OST track suggestions
WTF moment: Choking the Bishop (Track 10)
Introspective/calm moment: Dead Already (Track 01), Lunch with the King (Track 04),  Mr. Smarty Pants (Track 06), Bloodless Freak (Track 09), Weirdest Home Videos (Track 11) , Still Dead (Track 19)
Tense/mystery moment:  Arose (Track 02), The Power of Denial (Track 03), Root Beer (Track 07), Spartanette (Track 13), Marine (Track 15)
Combat: None
Hopeful moment: American Beauty (Track 08), Angela Undress (Track 14)
Drama/sad moment:  Mental Boy (Track 05),  Structure and Discipline (Track 12), Blood Red (Track 17), Any Other Name (Track 18)

Best Used In:  Introspective games with discussions on morality, virtues, values and perhaps even love.  Games set in the modern day will find great use to the tracks.  Medieval, Mystery and Horror games less so, but I can see these used in Science Fiction games to contrast the weirder moments.  Some might appreciate the use of the banjo and even find use of this for games set in the Serenity/Firefly universe.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

After the Rain ep06 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Six
"Family Matters"

Houses of the Blooded

Orks had boarded the airship.  But it was a simple matter for Seran to handle, even if she took a slight injury in the process.  What was important was that they had arrived at what seemed to be the last kingdom in the horizon of what was known to be explored Shanri.  The curtains are cobwebs, the decorations seem to have been carved from ork bones, and the clothing seem to all be at least 30 years behind in fashion.

They are at the kingdom of the parents of Nia Jalan.

Seran recalls the Bears and Thornes fighting alongside each other against the three-eyed orks.  The group enjoys a quiet dinner, with Jaric sharing that they are looking for the old Senate house, and the ruins of Davfanna Aldrena, the Hub of the world.  They enjoy the well grilled ork - though Haroun very formally declines to eat.    Nia's father then breaks to the gathered the news:  Neaera has slipped into Solace.  She is in the beginnings of becoming a Family Suaven.  They are allowed to visit her resting place and Haroun finds himself troubled by the number of Ork pits along the way.  A gong sounds somewhere in the distance and the group sees what is to become a temple currently being built.   The sky occasionally shows the presence of other orks.  Given this kingdom is one of the furthest from civilization, its not unexpected to see such.  

In the temple, Nia's youngest sister Merope is acting as the Court Scholar.  She seems to struggle to find her voice as she acts as the Scholar.  Seran feels a connection to Neaera, and she starts to realize the sounding of the gong somehow relates to the connection she feels.  Galeo on the other hand silently attempts to reach the Suaven and does find her responding.  She questions Neaera's serpent instead of a bear as a child.  Neaera seems to speak of confusion and fear.  Of deafening silence.  And seems extremely thankful that Gaelo can communicate with her.  It seems she can only hear Galeo.. and one other voice.  That's when Galeo hears a second voice.  One which sounds threatening.  One which admits it is no Suaven.

Merope and Nia find a chance to talk.  She tells her sister how her mother has yet to speak to anyone even though she is gaining followers each passing day.  Seran talks to them about somehow "feeling" their mother.   About somehow having a resonance with her. They are uncertain what that means. Galeo continues to talk to Neaera, and Neaera confirms she can hear when Galeo intoned a prayer to her to be guided by Ashalim Avendi.  Nia speaks directly to the mother, offering to build a shrine for her.  Neaera hears her, and using the growing power within her, allows Nia to receive a gift:  a relic of bone drops from her Solace body.

Merope, Court Scholar of House Steiner
Merope, Unblooded, Court Scholar
Three true things about Merope
She is loyal to her mother.
She has been studying Sorcery all her life.
She remains under her sisters' shadow.

The Marquis barges inside, demanding to know what is going on.  Jaric had earlier noticed the orks were riddled with cauterized wounds and had quietly been observing as well what had been happening.  He gladly attempts to explain what is going on and assumes that because Galeo can hear Neaera, she must be the Q'val!  Galeo declines the role.

Neaera shares with Galeo that the orks have been repeatedly striking the Kingdom because of the Puzzle House beneath it.  The puzzle house seems to have emerged where once a shrine to the Horse stood.  Merope reveals that she can somehow see the marking upon Galeo's brow.  The Marquis feels insulted by the claims that Galeo would hear Neaera's words while the rest of them could not.  So to prove it, Galeo repeats to them the secret injury that Neaera alone knows he suffers.     Merope however notices that the markings upon Galeo's forehead seem to shift.  Change on occasion.

Another gong.

Seran reaches for it and sees a vision of Neaera sealed in a temple.  The visual startles them both.  Merope feels the sounding of the gong, which has been beating without anyone striking it, must be some kind of counting down... a limit of time a Q'val must arise or the Solace will lock in and the Suaven will merely sleep.

And that's when it appears:

Dark.  Savage.  Bleak.  Cold.  The Spectre moves as if it was floating beneath the depths.  It shines like a hungry star that suckled upon the nearby shadows.   The Spectre danced as it approached Galeo and it shrieked as it demanded for her name.

Merope panics.  Jaric hurries out the door.  Seran draws her Bloodsword and engages with it.  Nia and Galeo attempt to help in the fight, using whatever knowledge and tactics they can to assist.  Merope calls out to Galeo to help, as she plans to use a Sorcerous ritual to help.  She, however, does not have the Blooded blood needed for it.  Galeo reluctantly agrees.

Light erupts from the ground as Merope casts the Ritual around them.  Seran plunges the blade deep into the Spectre that claims to be Tethis.  Nia remains silent on the fact she knows that is her mother's secret name! As the Spectre is in its dying throes, itclaws at Seran, leaving her face scarred with its ten talons. . The Terror is so intense that both Galeo and Nia's hair turn white from the fear.

Merope is then seen as the best bearer of the mantle of Q'val.  She accepts the position just as the Gong strikes for one final time.  The cocoon surrounding the sleeping Neaera drops, and she transforms, the webbing that snaps strikes Nia and Galeo (by accident?)  Nia loses part of her scalp.  Galeo loses an eye.
The small prices paid for another Suaven's birth.

Haroun arrives, but his arrival by now is too late.  The others focus instead on the mention of a puzzle house and find it to be in ruins again.  Perhaps it was where the Spectre came from.  Perhaps.

The group remains for another week, giving them time to send out missives to loved ones and to hear back from them.   Lukas writes and says all is well.  He admits he is learning things to surprise Seran on her return. He wonders if her heart is still safe with him.

Nia and Galeo sense that there is something... withheld in the letters they receive from their loved one.

But it is only Jaric whose letters contain a most distressing news.  Jaric's spouse, Jalani has captured a Spy that had entered their lands.  The Spy, it seems, had a Bloodsword.  She reminds him, however, that she will handle things.

"Leave it to me."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Inspiration: A little spooky tale

Pretty awesome if you ask me.
Can be inspiration fodder for everything from Changeling: the Lost to Call of Cthulhu.
You can even push the idea more and make it work for fantasy games if you add some dark malevolent force in the depths.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Operation Zero : memRE

This is a one-shot playtest of memRE.
If you are not authorized to read this document, please close your web browser immediately, clear the cache, and restart your computer.  This is your only warning.
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Thank you for your cooperation.

Three memRe agents are commission for an operation.

Target:  Claire
Goal: Investigation
Secondary Clause: Terminate if Enemy.  Apprehend to Juno Station if not.
Kill Clause:  Once the Enemy numbers in 10 units.

Agents are as follows:

Mister Michaleson (Off-the-record file: Dario)
Small build, taller than average height.  Trained with martial arts.

Mister 6 (Off-the-record file: Karlo)
Expert marksman.  Blends with his surroundings.
Trusts Mister E.
Mister E (Off-the-record file: Ryan)
Average looking person in all aspects.
People tend to ignore his presence.

The agents enter location in an inconspicuous gray sedan.  They arrive at Juno Station which is a train station situated between two shopping malls.    The three immediately spread out to search for her.  Mister 6 takes point.  Mister E goes Ghost and quickly works on a disguise to fit in the crowd.  Mister Michaelson is on standby as muscle, watching from afar.  Mister 6 tries to procure binoculars, and hopefully a sniper rifle, as he realizes one can stay on lookout from the parking lot's upper floors.

Mister E grabs a pair of sunglasses, a straw hat, shorts and a polo shirt.  He leaves the suit in the comfort room.  Mister Michaleson switches clothes too, and wears board shorts and a loose shirt.

-----{ 2:27:30 }-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------?

The group searches for their target but seem to have trouble locating Claire.  Mister E starts to get confused on where to go.  Mister 6 realizes he cannot find Michealson.  The group only realizes belatedly that they were not coordinating properly,nor did they establish a means of long-range communication.

Mister Michaelson decides to go Ghost and finds a computer terminal among the train station offices that was left logged in.  He quietly slides to the seat and begins checking the computer for any employee records of a person named Claire.

Mister 6 on the other hand decides to risk the experimental memRE device.  Depressing it, Mister 6 now fully remembers her name.  He casually heads down from the upper area of the mall to meet with the others.

Mister E also opts to use memRE and in a flash, he recalls her job. The target was working as one of the ticket teller people.    He meets up with Mister Michaelson, who confirms the identity of the target.  They search and soon find Mister 6 by a lamp post.  When Mister E whistles to catch his attention, however, they all notice two security officers turn in their direction as well.

Counter-Intelligence agents?

The two quickly move past the massive billboard of a woman in a bikini, hoping to lose the men before the Enemy realizes they are present.

-------------------------{ 2:13:40 }-----------------------------------------------------------------?

The group close in on the train area, hoping to find their target.  Mister E hesitates, however, sensing something is wrong.  His Marksmanship catches that one of the people in the station is packed, carrying a gun under his clothes.  The man is confronting one of the agents, asking for his papers, so Mister E walks up to him to bump him and try to steal his gun.  But the attempt fails and the man confronts him.  In the ensuring scuffle, the gun gets shot and hits Mister Michaelson in the left arm.

A woman behind the counter calls out in worry.
Her name tag reads:  Claire.

As Mister 6 scans the vicinity for anyone who might be acting too "calm and composed" after the shot rang out, he fails to notice someone closing in.  The assailant throws a punch at his face.  Mister 6 risks a second mem:RE and shifts his configuration to work better in the fight.  He feels his muscles tighten and his body readjust to the new configuration.  The enemy reaches one hand against Mister 6's chest, while the other hand attempts to elbow him.  The hand lands on his chest, but Mister 6 grits his teeth and ignores the pain.  He grabs the arm, turns the guy around, then smashes a chop into the man's nape.    The man drops to the ground, stunned.

Mall guards rush out of the doors towards them.

"The guy just shot that man!  I have to call.."   the woman behind the counter mutters.  Mister E pulls away from near Claire and notices the mall guards rushing closer.  He slides close and uses Ghost to snatch the keys from one of them, as well as a pair of handcuffs.   However, he fails to realize another person staring straight at him.  As he turns to head back to the door, he finds Claire staring straight at his hands... then at him.  She saw him!  While the other people in the ticket booth have not noticed his actions, he is certain she did.  He rushes to the door of the ticket booth, and Claire ducks out of view.

Shoving against the side walls, Mister Michaelson and Mister 6 see the security gathering at the location they just were seconds ago.  No one has been able to give them clear answers.   Mister 6 tries to stop the bleeding with his handkerchief.    Mister Michaleson is still reeling, trying to recover from the shock.  The guards search for the two.  Once they recover, they decide to risk walking past them to head to the teller booth.

One looks straight at Mister 6, but does not recognize him.  He recognizes one of the tellers is missing, and this raises his suspicions.    He thinks it may mean the third agent has found her.   Mister Michaelson is halted by a guard, who asks him if he saw anything.  He claims to have just arrived.  "Be careful sir.  Let us know if you hear about anything strange."

Mister E tries to unlock the door by the teller booth and finds it slamming into him.  As he falls backwards, he sees Claire pushing out.  She breaks into a run.  The people left inside call out to her, "What the hell, Hedd?"  Mister E uses his Charm and suggests to the people in the booth that there might be a "bomb in the station." Mister E can see Claire running for the trains.

"She went down!" Mister E starts signaling to the others.

-------------------------{ 1:53:20 }-----------------------------------------------------?

Attention all.
Train 15320 is now arriving in 2 minutes.

The two break into a run to chase after her.
Mister 6 however worries about the secondary concern and tries to recall the details.  "Can she be hurt if necessary in apprehending her?"    He recalls yes, she can be but only if necessary.

The security guards reach the teller booth and learn about the "bomb threat".  One of the tellers point at Mister E.  The guards chase after them.


The stairs split to two paths.  The North and South bound trains.  Mister 6 opts to head for the North Bound path.  He tells Mister Michaelson to head for the Southbound path instead.    Both can feel the wind rising as a train closes in.  Security yells at Mister E to stop as he runs down the stairs!  Mister E ducks down the South bound route as well.

Down below, Michaleson is ahead, darting behind the machines, and looking at the bathroom doors.
The lights can be seen as the train approaches the station.

Claire is standing, waiting for the train, and she seems to have spotted Mister E at the opposite side of the track.

"Are we allowed to harm civilians," Mister 6 tries to recall in terms of the secondary concerns and his memory locks into place.  "Do not be concerned about collateral damage.  They are not real people."  He looks for something he can push onto the platform like bags or boxes to force the train to delay.

He sees a couple with a baby carriage, waiting for the train.

Mister 6 hesitates.


At the other side, the two other agents notice Claire at the opposite track.  Agent Michaelson sees the nearby bathroom door open and a woman steps out dressed exactly like the man upstairs whom he flinched a gun from.

"Agent," she tells him coldly, and raises her left hand and pressing her left wrist.  "We have Agents."

Michaelson grabs her wrists and separates her hands.  Mister E looks back and sees the train arrive, now blocking any view of Claire.  Mister E runs back to the staircase to quickly go to the other side.  


Mister 6 hears the train stopping, and realizes his hesitation cost him the chance to stop it.  Wanting to delay it, Mister 6 fires shots into the sky and shatters glass.  People scream.  Claire drops to the ground in panic.  The couple pull the carrier close in fear.  But some people merely turn to face them, unfazed.  Mister 6 fires at them, realizing they're probably the enemy.

One drops.
The second has a pistol and fires back.  The bullet whizzes past Mister 6's face, and causes the nearby window to shatter.

At the staircase, another man emerges, with his hand cupped over his left wrist.  Mister 6 fires another shot and the woman is thrown backwards.  But an explosion rocks the place and the pressure slams into them from one side!    Mister 6 crashes against a pillar and feels the pain surge around him.  He activates mem:RE a third time, and reallocates Physique to handle the pain.  


Michaelson and E hear the gun shots being fired in the other side.  Michaelson holds her wrist, and keeps the woman from using her mem:RE system.  She smashes her knee against his chin, and he stumbles backwards.  E tries to move between them and tries to convince them to stop fighting as he reminds them they're both agents.

The woman looks at him, eyes narrow, then she mutters, "Fuck, Company agents. I should have known. This is beyond your jurisdiction.  Leave now and I won't report to the Company that this is what happened."

"Mister E!  Michaelson!  Have you seen the target?" Mister 6 calls out from across the tracks.   A bullet flies.  Mister 6 screams as his thigh explodes open.  The enemy have opened fire upon them again.   Mister 6 sees Claire down on the ground and he darts to the rear of the train.

"Oh my god, this is your first time isn't it?" the woman asks the two.

"I don't recall who you are," Mister Michaelson admits, and the woman looks confused.  "You don't remember?  Are you serious?  We were just all in the debriefing."  Mister E and Mister Michaelson admit they only recall each other.  She insists that Mister E was supposed to still be on probation.  Gun shots ring out in the distance.

"Let's keep this simple.  You are both not supposed to be here.  I only have barely an hour left to finish the mission.  Go home."  She tries to move past the two, but Michaelson continues to hold her.  She struggles and asks why they are hindering her.  "I'm here to meet with Hedd. What's a matter with you all.  Why don't you recall this? Oh the problems of newbies... so focused on their stats, they forget to give importance of memories."

Mister Michaleson tries to explain that they're were trying to confirm if the target is of the enemy.  She asks if they've run the three tests.  Have they checked with the witness?  Do they have the pass-key?

"Oh my god," Michaelson realizes they have not done any of that.

Glass shatters as the enemy continue to shoot at them.  Mister 6 reaches Claire, and the two are both on the ground of the train.     Mister 6 closes in to incapacitate her.

Michaelson uses mem:RE to shift his stats around to try and help out.  But his mem:RE attempt flounders and he loses some memories in the process.   He insists the woman explain to him the witness and the pass-key, but she insists that she isn't even certain if they are still the agents.  "For all I know, you are doppelgangers. Now let me go and let me finish my mission."

"How can a doppelgangers have mem:RE?"

"Because doppelgangers can take over us when they find the chance to do so."


Claire struggles against Mister 6, and a hand reaches up to rake across his face.  He feels his memories glitch for a brief moment.    Slamming her to the ground, Mister 6 realizes he barely has a good grip on her.    There's just too much pain to focus.


"Let's face it, you aren't even certain who you are, who you are working for.  You tried to do everything individually.  Rather than focus on your allocations as a team?"

"Let us help you then," Michaelson offers, "To finish the mission."

"Damn it," she mutters, "Exit clause.  Hope to see you guys in the other side!"  She pulls back into the bathroom.  The two opt to head for Mister 6.   They see the men and women in business suits gathering and firing at the train.  Not certain where Mister 6 is, they consider their options.    Michaelson rushes up the stairs, with the plan to peek as if he were some bystander.  E on the other hand clambers up the train, to search for 6 from the ceiling of the train.


6 realizes they are surrounded and upon seeing there are more than ten people, he tries to move but the bullets pin them in place.  He tries to consider a different tactic.


A moment of uneasy silence.
The people in suits are waiting.  Searching for signs of movement.  Michaelson reallocates to Navigation via mem:RE.  While E uses Ghost to close the gap and find 6.  He stealthily makes his way unnoticed.


"The kill switch," 6 recalls during briefing that, "When enemies reach numbers of ten, or when the target utters pass-key.  The passkey is Sea."

Claire recognizes 6, asking if he works for the company.  He asks her for the pass-key and she replies, "Its sea.  S-E-A."  Getting the confirmation he needed, 6 decides it is time to get out of the location.  *

E slides into the train and soon, she sees the two huddled close.   6 shoots the glass on the train facing the opposite direction and tells Claire to "Go!"  As the enemies shoot at the train, the two start making to escape the opposite way.  "Let's get out of here, I've confirmed it.  Let's go!"  Claire insists.  "What station?"  With the two arguing, E joins the two  at the gravel side.

Michaelson sees a glimpse of the agents and realizing they are about to escape, he rushes back up the stairs and tries to run back to the other side.

"Lead the way," 6 tells Claire.  She nods.  "But I need to know where we are going."  6 clicks his mem:RE to try to recall the goal.    Neither of them can seem to tap into mem:RE.    But thankfully, Michaelson recalls the extraction point is Juno station.   The enemies stop firing.  They now start walking towards the train, ready to board it.

"They're coming now!  Get out of there!" Michaelson screams towards the train.  As he ducks inside, he grabs hold of 6 and Claire but both seem panicked as he shakes them awake.    The enemy comes in and one trains a weapon at Michaelson.  "Where are your papers?"

He stares in shock as neither 6 nor Claire seem to remember him.  He looks at E and the man does not recognize him either.  His eyes note a billboard nearby.  A woman blowing a kiss goodbye.  His companions don't seem to recognize him at all.


Elsewhere, E, 6 and Claire open their eyes.
"Hey focus," Claire asks, "Do you remember who I am?"

The two take a moment to lock their thoughts in place.  "Juno Station..."  Claire admits that they can only jump so far as there is only a waiting host.  She does not think their other friend was able to make it.  "If we're lucky, we will find him.  These bodies will only last until we reformat them again."

The old train emerges.  Metal creaking.  Slow lumbering train arrives.
Claire taps on them both to follow her.  They procure new clothes and change.  Both stare at Claire, somehow "remembering" she always had black hair. That she always was Latina.

"We will have to keep moving.  The last thing we need is for them to exterminate us."

The two nod.

"It is hard when you're nothing but memories.
And you only live for three hours."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Happy International Table Top Day!

My partner, Rocky, and I regularly host gaming nights which we call FTC Nights (named after The Office’s book group called the Finer Things Club, because “it is very exclusive.” Hehhe.) So happy to be listed in Table Top Day's website.

For International Table Top Day, we’ve done the following:

1) Got someone who has never tried a table top rpg to play one.

2) Invited around 10 guests in our tiny condo unit to try board games. Two haven’t really tried board games before. The others have learned to enjoy the hobby ever since we got them to try them.

We have the following games for tonight:
Love Letter
Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan: Seafarers
Galaxy Truckers
Gloom (with two expansions)
Smash Up (with all expansions except for Science Feature)
Monty Python Fluxx
Star Munchkin
Carcassonne (with most of the expansions)
Star Trek Catan
Space Alert
Star Trek Catan: Federation Space
Cosmic Encounter
Last Night on Earth
Last Night on Earth: Growing Hunger
Last Night on Earth: Timber Peak
Fortune and Glory
Kill Doctor Lucky
Dixit (with most of the expansions)
Once Upon a Time
Pandemic (with all expansions)
The A-MAZE-ING Labyrinth
Tsuro of the Seas
Mage Knight
Level 7: Escape
Shadows Over Camelot

I’m sure its nothing as fancy as others out there. But given of our guests, only one of them was actually into board games before we started the FTC events, we feel happy to be getting more people into the hobby and joy of gaming.

This was a personal event, so we aren’t really welcoming others to join up but hey maybe starting next year we can have others join up too.

Happy Table Top Day!

Actual Report:
So here's what came down to it.

First, had Che and Darius, two friends over to try a table top role-playing game.  After much deliberation, and given this was also intended to be Che's birthday game (I always offer friends who celebrate their birthdays to have a one shot of their choice under me) and for Darius this was to be his very first ever table top role-playing game, we settled on going for something set in the modern day with a touch of powers.

Wanting to go system-lite for ease of play, I decided to let the two take a taste of John Wick's Wicked Heroes.  The write-up for that session is to follow.  I did find myself a bit frustrated that supposedly there's  a list of Curses to check to find out what weakness you have but that table seemingly is missing from the game.  In the game, Darius played a young Indian man who worked as a photographer for a tabloid who stumbles upon the existence of people with powers on the same day he breaks his spine.  He later discovers he too develops some kind of  power to "Find the Answers" to questions he poses himself.

Che plays a young Filipina-Chinese student in Harvard whose twisted upbringing has her unconsciously using her powers to create what ends up as a growing cult of personality.  A small, but growing, sphere of influence around her confirms to her desires and soon becomes instrumental in convincing herself that she's some kind of deific figure.

After that story ended with a sufficiently traumatic narrative, we afterwards kicked off the board games with a session of Takenoko.  I promise you, there's a truly satisfying feeling to growing the Emperor's Garden and feeding the Panda all the Bamboo you can!  I won the game with a score of 35 points.   It was a smaller score than our usual scores, but hey, I'm not complaining.

Then, Che had to head home, but more friends showed up to join the fun.  Lanchie, Miguel, and Jade then showed up and we continued the fun with a session of Love Letter (with Rocky collecting four red cubes before anyone else did for the win.)  We were expecting a few more guests but some had to rain check on the last minute.   A quick peek on the social networks revealed how disappointed or frustrated they felt about not being able to go, so we opted not to further tease them about missing on the awesomeness of tonight.

Shadows Over Camelot was our next game, with Rocky and I eager to get the guys to try it.  The concept of the Traitor was explained and the game was begun in earnest.  Deep into the sessions, my first accusation was wrong as it turned out the guy I suspected to be tactically making things harder for us, was just someone who didn't quite grasp the rules yet.  The second suspect Rocky and I saw was this guy who spent three turns just moving back and forth from Camelot.  But that, as it turned out too, was a misread.  With two black swords in, the group hurriedly resolved quests until Lanchie finally revealed he was the traitor by playing a Black Special that unleashed three more cards at us.  In the end, Lanchie was the sole survivor in the game... and thus won as the Traitor.

Munchkin Deluxe followed, with Lanchie once again stealing the win from all of us by using a Transferral Potion to face off against Level 1 Crabs while at the 9th level slot.  By this time, every one had thrown crap to stop my 3 Level win, as well as a few other players' attempts.  And even better, Lanchie had a tinfoil hat on, stopping any Curses cold.  So the Crabs gave Lanchie the win.

We then followed that with Fluxx, and my gosh.  This game. Just...   I will leave it at that.  However, Miguel won since I mistakenly took away my War Creeper when Rocky played a card that allowed us to trash cards.  I failed to notice Miguel still had Peace and thus gave him accidentally the win.

Then, Jacob showed up, and with the additional player, Rocky and I pulled out our copy of Bang!  With Darius being Sheriff, roles were given out and Darius was lucky enough to be Paul Regret, so for a long time no one could Bang! him due to range.  Since I was a Deputy I did my best to shot the others down until finally the game ended with us him and me surviving!

And afterwards, we opted for one final game since Rocky and I had to sleep for the play we were catching later that day.  We brought out Settlers of Catan and used the Seafarer's expansion.  We chose The Six Islands scenario for our game.  In the end, I stole the prize with a deadly use of Development cards.  It was only afterwards, though, we realized the win would have been delayed a few more turns since you can only use one Development Card per turn.

All in all, it was a fun and satisfying mini-celebration of International Table Top day.   I hope in the coming years Rocky and I will have time to take part in other celebrations as well and maybe even run a few role-playing games for others during the future Table Top days.

Here's to another one next year!

As always, thank you to Rocky for the pictures.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Another game out!
Happy to have helped proofread this and help tighten the English translation.

Support the game today:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

You Can't Take The Sky From Me!

Firefly is back with a new Cortex Plus role-playing game.  The game is written by Monica Valentinelli, Mark Diaz Truman, Brendan Conway, Dean Gilbert, and Jack Norris. The book is heavily loaded with all the goodies browncoat gamers can hope for:

The Firefly RPG uses a freewheelin’ version of the award-winning Cortex Plus System to bring the ‘Verse to life online or at your table in this 350+ page, full-color game. This corebook includes:
  • Detailed Episode Guide for all 14 Firefly episodes
  • 75+ Gamemaster characters including rules for Niska, Badger, Patience, and more!
  • Over 30 pre-generated player-characters! Play as Mal and the Serenity crew or one of 24 archetypes.
  • Original character creation – choose from dozens of Distinctions to fine-tune your concept.
  • Dozens of in game examples from the show.
  • Over two dozen sample ships
  • Dozens of sample Assets and Complications
  • Advancement rules
  • Tips for world-building in the ‘Verse
  • “What’s Yours Is Mine”, a fully-playable Episode – perfect for first-time GMs!
  • Chinese teaching tool and phrases spoken during the show
  • Maps of all five systems
  • Serenity ship and engine schematic
  • Interactive Crew and Ship Sheets. Print ‘em out as is or type in the details, save, and print.
  • ...and much, much more!
I was a huge fan of the Serenity rpg.
I can't wait to see how this game takes the Firefly universe and develops it even further for more misbehaving misadventures.

So check it out and support the game!
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