Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Explored Blades in the Dark again


Got another chance to explore the mystifying world of Blades in the Dark with Rocky, Adrian, and Jonette. Adrian mentioned to me that Jonette was hoping to start running her own games and he felt that Blades offered a system she might enjoy using. I was, of course, more than happy to help out. I decided to name this session, The Task.

We had a quick one shot session, with the group being tasked to break into a Chapter House where specific people were staying for the Governor's gathering. Adrian played Brace "Cricket" Vedat, the Hound from Tycheros who used Opium to put himself to sleep. Rocky was Tocker "Frost" Kessarin, the Lurk from Dagger Isles who was a nobleman himself at some point in his life. Jonette was Valeta "Slip" Vedat, a Whisper from Severos who served as the group's leader.  Known as the Purple Rose, they were based beneath The Vulgar Cat and took assassination and disappearance jobs as needed.  Their client happens to be Rosslyn Kellis, Frost's rival, who in her dying moments tasks the group to eliminate her rivals. They soon learn, however, that they have competition in the eliminations as the Lord Emperor himself sends his own assassins to eliminate his political rivals that same night.

The group succeeds and escapes, but realizes that Kellis timed the task not with her own death, but with the knowledge of the Lord Emperor's plans. Who would, after all, notice a few extra deaths?

Jonette definitely took to the narrative and the system well. I'm excited to be able to introduce her to more games in the future.


Monday, February 25, 2019

2019 Feb Tagbites: Curse of the Yellow Sign - Act 3

A huge thank you to Titus and his friends for enjoying a TAG Bites session this February 2019. This session was Act 3 of The Curse of the Yellow Sign, which completes their journey through John Wick's Curse of the Yellow Sign Collected three-act adventure which uses the BRP (Basic Roleplaying).



In this game, the group were passengers in the Archimedes 7 Colony Ship which encountered some form of radioactive field that disrupted its many functions and awoke some of the passengers too early. This was a five-hour one shot session with six players. I am extremely grateful that the players were all very appreciative and happy with how the game turned out. Of the six, there were only two clear deaths (one from a selfish plan to stay alive, while the other in a suicidal bid to save the rest) while the remaining four may have condemned themselves to a slow and horrific death in order to save the world and take the terrible smiling god away from ever hurting anyone ever again.

The game had a lot of drama, a good dose of laughs, and a deep and intimate honesty in touching fear, anger, and despair.  Thank you, John Wick, for creating such an amazing game.   


Again, thank you to my wonderful players (clockwise from left): Titus, CJ, Lorenzo, Hannah, Reyo, and Sophia.  You were all amazing fantastic players.


Til the next TAG Bites, thank you and keep playing!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A new year, a new 12 games


It is 2019 and so far, I've hit TWO new games for this year's 12 New Games Each Year.
The games were:
1) Bubblegumshoe
2) Headspace

Bubblegumshoe was played last January at Taktyl Studios, where I got to introduce the concept of tabletop RPGs to a few new players. The game was an fun quirky session with each player choosing one of the key character types from the book (to speed up play). There was Valerie  who had a Tight Family relationship, Chandler the Maker, Cash the Loner, Selena Ford the Leader and her protege, Danica.  The group finds the police at the school grounds the night after they were decorating the gymnasium for the upcoming school dance. The janitor was found dead in the gym. They  quickly learn that the Principal, Roberts, was hiding a hairy screaming thing in the basement which turns out to be some kind of orangutan. As the Animal Services takes the beast away, and the kids congratulate themselves on making the school safer. Valeria, however, remembers much later the photographs on the basement wall which reveal that orangutan wasn't just an animal, but an animal with a human brain, and it was that human side that killed the janitor due to the provocative choice of school dance decor.

Bubblegumshoe was written by Emily Care Boss, Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele. The game was the Winner of the 2017 Gold ENnie for Best Family Game!

You can check out Bubblegumshoe here:
https://www.evilhat.com/home/bubblegumshoe/


Headspace, on the other hand, was played in the early part of February.  For this game, we originally were going to have five players but one had to cancel due to familial emergencies. So we ended up with four players: Tech, Handler, Infiltrator, and Ronin. The group had a fantastic plan on how to bring down Disney Bezos by attacking their virtual spokesperson, SAM, cutting their funding from a corrupt rich philanthropist named Adam, and by destroying the mainframe for the chips that were keeping people from entering the flooded areas and seeing the truth on how much destruction hit the coastal areas.

As they proceeded in the Mission, however, they quickly discovered things went sideways with the realization there was a SECOND team targeting the same things they had in mind. Worse, this second team thought they were the agents the corporations sent to stop them.  Thankfully, in the end, the operatives were able to accomplish their mission with the help of Angel, the Ghost operative still in their Headspace.

Headspace is written by Mark Richardson.
Learn more about the game here:
http://www.greenhatdesigns.com/?project=head-space






Why not start your own 12 New Games Each Year challenge?
Tell me about it if you ever do!

For the previous years lists, check them out here:
 https://tagsessions.blogspot.com/2018/12/2018-your-12-new-game-challenge-is.html

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

TAG Sessions: 2018 in review

Looking back at 2018, productivity wasn't as good as I had hoped. Despite giving my attentions to writing for the year, I sadly had to brave through certain challenges that suggest maybe I need to still make a few more adjustments.

The year opened with Prince Valiant (link) being released and me being part of the  Prince Valiant : Episode book! (link)


I still struggle to accept the fact that I was in a book which included luminaries such as Justin Achilli, John Wick, and more.

Then there was the invitation to be part of CONclave at iAcademy.

It was nice being able to share knowledge about game mastering once more. Despite reports to the contrary, I haven't turned my back on the local scene to focus on my writing. But I guess that's the more acceptable narrative for some, simply because it implies I'm selfish enough to keep knowledge to myself. Truth of the matter remains, I'm more than happy to participate and share knowledge when given the invitation to do so.

Was also very grateful at Greasy Snitches (link) inviting me to be part of their victory celebrations afterwards. I remember going to this alone (my partner was out of the country) and being terrified of coming face-to-face with certain people. Thankfully, the night went well actually and it felt nice to be part of the community again.


There was some love in the form of media nods.

The first being a mention as one of the people who have been influential in shaping the local gaming industry (which is awesome given I'm not one of those ultra connected or talented folks out there).


The second mentioned my game and Project Tadhana's games as ways to explore the Filipino and Asian experience. Special congratulations to Nathan Briones whose hard work and sheer talent can be seen in every single page.  You truly uplift your team to new heights and create inspiring work!
Read this one here: https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/scitech/technology/679171/2-tabletop-rpgs-that-explore-the-filipino-and-asian-experience/story/

I also tried dipping a bit into fiction writing.
Thanks to the Community Creators options offered by the Storyteller's Vault, I wrote so far two mini novels for Vampire the Masquerade and one for Exalted.

Red Sickening Lights, Manila (link) and Blood Red Pearls (link) are Vampire the Masquerade stories set in the Philippines. Red Sickening Lights, Manila is the first book of the Reconquista saga, a story that explores the Camarilla’s attempt to regain control of the Philippines, a Ventrue Justicar’s search for an old enemy, and the unexpected bonds that form between two people. It is an insidious tale of revenge, obsession, and love.

I'm pretty proud of these, despite the fact they're probably just okay for most fiction readers. If there's more response to the books, I just might release a Manila by Night setting book based on these stories for others to enjoy too.

The reception wasn't as huge, but at least I was happy to see there were some readers. The vampire stories were even the reading material for a Vampire RPG group called the DSC Tabletop Gaming Club.



Sid's Real Life (link) on the other hand is my love-letter to Exalted and my attempt to give it a different feel than what most expect from that game. This book is a romantic comedy and yet also houses an incredible unfolding story. Inspired by shows like Pushing Daisies and The Office, this book is quite different and I'm very proud of it.

TAG Sessions was also part of a few events this year.
There was the Retrocon 2018 which was a mini-convention held in The War Room. Sparking from what literally began as just a conversation online about missing old games, a bunch of us very quickly created a humble yet fulfilling RPG event.



We had fun exploring a lot of old school rpgs. I ran a Marvel Super Heroes game and had quite a host of players. 

Then there was our participation in the 9th Philippine International Literary Festival! That was quite an amazing event, with us also meeting a few more local tabletop game designers.




We had a booth, and I was also asked to be the moderator for a talk in the event. It was an amazing feeling. I do hope it won't be the last time a government sponsored event has tabletop present in the festivities.

This year marked the end of one of my favorite campaigns too, our 7th Sea duo-campaign that had two different groups part of a singular awesome story.



I'm going to miss those fun sessions. It was a super blast exploring Theah and having that massive conspiracy narrative. The undertaking was incredible and I was very happy that everyone enjoyed the game big time.

The Eclipse Phase: Forks mini-campaign also ended and admittedly it has given me a larger appreciation and respect for the game system.

Was also part of a few more Kickstarters this year. These included:



Josh Jordan's John Silence, an amazing surreal non-violent RPG.

Alan Bahr's Tiny Supers, which makes playing superhero rpg sessions amazingly easy.



The North Sea Epilogues, which brings an RPG element to the North Sea universe of games!

I was also asked to guest in the podcast, Jianghu Hustle.   

You can listen to the episode here. I was able to share my love for the old movie, The Legend of Zu, which was a funny moment given the hosts of the show watch the OTHER Legend of Zu movie! We ended up talking about both and exploring the world of Xianxia stories.

There was a second podcast I guested in, but I haven't heard yet if its been released so I can't say anything about it yet hehe.

Itras by: Menagerie, which I wrote for, won Indie Supplement of the Year for 2017. In this book, I was able to contribute a Manila-inspired setting to the Itras By world. From having an Indie Groundbreaker Runner-Up award, to being part of something that won a Silver ENnie, I'm feeling pretty happy with this other award. There's always that Imposter Syndrome voice whispering that you didn't really earn it, but the fact it happens again and again helps one be more accepting of it.


Tadhana finally has gone digital and to support Project Tadhana's worldwide reach, I wrote a romance inspired story for them, called Kundiman,  for free. I truly believe in their work and I am very happy to see them reach a wider audience.




There's the angle of work that was written and finally released this year. These include work from freelance gigs or kickstarters I was invited to some time ago.


Tiny Frontiers Revised (link) offers an awesome easy-to-get-into spin on the science fiction genre for RPGs. For this game, I wrote up a sort of inter-galaxy Amazing Race microsetting for it.

Cold Shadows (link) on the other hand is an incredible narrative-first system that allows one to play John le Carre (link) style spy stories.  I wrote up a solitaire, one on one, and other variant rules for the game.




Cities in Shadow (link) is the city setting companion book for Cold Shadows. I helped write up the Manila chapter for those Philippine based spy stories.
 
While Dreamchaser: RomCom (link) added a romantic comedy genre book to its game lineup. I totally don't mind that more and more people reach out to me or ask me to write-up romantic comedy material for their games. There should be more games where love is a welcome story angle.




Tiny Wastelands
(link) is your post-apocalyptic go-to game for quick and dirty gaming. I wrote up an animal focused supplement for it for those who'd want to play something inspired by Isle of Dogs, Tokyo Jungle or Watership Down.

You & I: Roleplaying Games for Two (link) is a fantastic collection of 15 different types of games for two people. I was very happy to get a chance to be part of this.



Fragments of the King (link) is a Lovecraftian supplement book for John Wick's Curse of the Yellow Sign game. I was asked to write up a Philippine-inspired play on the Yellow King mystery.

Un Momento Unico (link) is the Spanish edition release of my game, A Single Moment.

I remain at awe looking back at all the stuff I've worked on so far and how far I've gone from simply being a guy who loved playing games. And I do hope to at least inspire more local writers and creators to reach high and tap an international market. The world needs more Filipino creators and voices.


 And there's the Community Creators stuff I've released for 7th Sea.  These, in many ways, were me finding ways to also share the ideas that appear during game sessions. I'm very grateful at the interest they've generated.


Red, Red Winter (link) is a Winter Horror adventure set in the mountains of the Highland Marches.

Young Heroics (link) is my sourcebook for having children as heroes in your 7th Sea games.



The Syrneth Codex (link) was my Syrneth artifacts book of ideas, with an exploration on a character called Warren Cassaday, who kinda was my version of a Doc Savage/Indiana Jones Hero.

The Silent Devushka (link) is an Ussuran Horror Mystery adventure which has inspiration from old Russian fairytales.




Serafina's Choice
(link) is my Vodacce Rescue Mission that goes in a different direction that most would have expected.

And the Single Sheet Sourcebooks. These were my attempts to make quick and easy resources that GMs can use to get ideas or prompt new twists into their games. These can all be found in DrivethruRpg.





Finally, on my indie game publishing, I have a bunch of projects that are in different states of being done.


First, my Studio Ghibli inspired game, Cat's Dream, which was already 95% done suddenly had to be delayed when I wanted it to have a bit more meat and time had to be focused on two other major projects. But I'm hoping to get this out.


Secondly, there's Once Upon a Time in Jianghu. After a lot of consultation, writing, and playtesting, the final version of the game is almost complete. The edits Rob Vaux sent to me were eye-opening and I'm mapping down every chapter to answer the questions he brought up. This game should also hit Kickstarter mid or late 2019.



Finally, there's the A Single Moment, The Director's Cut.
This practically ate my entire year, and watching what was once a tiny forty page book has now expanded into a tome with guest writers and lots of settings to explore. Keep an eye out for this book which should be hitting Kickstarter anytime in the coming months!

So thank you, 2018.
This review tried to stay objective and keep things simple.


But here's hoping 2019 will be less... rough.



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