A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Meme from

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your livejournal along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

1. Sunshowers, M.I.A.
2. Fire Fire, M.I.A.
3. Galang, M.I.A.
4. Every Day is Exactly The Same, NIN
5. Wish You Dead, Curve
6. Nobody's real, Powerman 5000
7. Ana Ng, They Might Be Giants

And um, here's my lastfm user page ;)

So I've, uh, obviously been on an M.I.A. kick lately.

Here's the folks I'm tagging:


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Yay running!

This past Saturday, Maddie and I got out early and did 12 miles. We ran from her place down Goodman Road, almost to my house, then back to her place. Took us 3 hours, give or take. It was good, and I managed some goodly speed during some of it. Though I certainly felt the tiredness and soreness in my legs, I felt good doing the whole thing. Krissi and Jason did their 8 miles and said it went well.

Monday evening I went out and did 6, and I managed it in 62 minutes, which puts me at a hair over 10 minutes to a mile, which is a speed I'm pretty happy with. It was a rather tough speed though, and was by no means an easy run; though it was good.

Maddie and I are going to try to do another 6 tonight. She wants to do it in 60 minutes, which is an interesting challenge.

I'm a tiny bit nervous about the upcoming 5k. I've promised myself to do it in 25 minutes or less. That's a hair over 8 minutes to a mile, which is a fast pace. I'll just have to bust it out and fall out after the finish line =)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

the Shadow of Yesterday

We sat town to play again, a continuation of last week's game.

This time we had Michael and Maddie as well.

I missed going over this in my last post about the game: the characters.

Jason created Kragar, a Khale Human. He currently is Adept in React, Stealth and Deceit, and Competent in Reist, Aim, Theft and Guerilla Warfare. He took Secret of Contacts and Hidden Pocket. He took keys of the Outcast (thieves guild back in the city) and Impostor.

Krissi made Violet, a Khale Human. She is currently Adept in Endure and Spear Fighting. She is Competent in React, Stealth, Athletics, First Aid, Sense Danger, Woodscraft and Scrapping. She took Secret of Mighty Blow and Signature Weapon (Spear). She took Keys of Bloodlust, Conscience, Masochist and Carousing (gets 1 xp for engaging in boisterous, drunken merrymaking. gets 2 xp when she engages in drunken merrymaking which results in a bar fight or a problem with the law. gets 5 xp when her drunken merrymaking results in an incarceration, arrest, or becoming a fugitive, or when a barfight gets way out of hand)

Maddie created Reek, a Ratkin of unknown origins. She took Adept in React and Scrapping. Competent in Resist, Litter Bond, Streetwise and Athletics. She took Secret of Suddden Knife, Rat Familiarity, Contacts and Throwing. She took Keys of Reknown, and the Litter.

Michael created Sedu, a Zaru Human. He is Adept in React and Zu. He is Competent in Resist, Uptenbo, Research and Counsel. He took Secrets of Kinetic Redirection, Zu (syllable), Sand/Sleep/Weaken (syllable), Spyglass/Focus/Intensify (syllable). He took keys of the Collector, Pacifist, and Conscience.

As we all sat down, I explained that after the events of last week's game, the food-carrier who got away in the forest earlier, burst into the Meeting Hall with 10 guards on his heels and called them out. They were slapped around and thrown into a hut to await dawn, when they would be hanged. Also in the hut with them were Reek and Sedu. These two had also infiltrated the bandit camp in search of a huge garnet, which they'd been commissioned to find and return to a noble in a nearby town. They were caught and were also awaiting the noose. I explained that they sat huddled inside this dark hut awaiting dawn, but that they could hear the snoring of the guard outside.

Maddie announced that Reek was going to start digging. Stakes involved either digging a good enough tunnel, or having the guard wake and come investigate what was going on. She managed fine and dug herself a tunnel under the wall of the hut. They all managed to crawl out, and huddled beside the hut in the darkness, debating in whispers what to do with the guard near them. Sedu advocated a non-violent course of action, while Reek nearly set upon the guard with a dagger that Kragar produced. Violet brought an end to the argument though by thunking the guard on the head, rendering him even more asleep. I had set the stakes as guard is knocked out/guard is awakened and pissed off, and will try to attack. Jason disliked the stakes, saying that the guard wouldnt be able to respond so quickly. Dice were rolled though and the guard was out. While Violet hid the unconscious guard in the hole they'd dug, Kragar took his helmet. They spied a wagon being loaded a distance away, apparently with assorted goods. About this time another guard patrolling the camp came their way. Sedu spoke the syllable "Sleep" and the guard collapsed in a snoring heap.

The players sat and debated for a few minutes, their next course of action, wanting to locate their missing gear - I implied that they loaded a couple of spears possibly including Violet's into the wagon. I suggested at one point that it would be really awesome if they posed as bandits again and approached the wagon and ordered it off, basically taking command of the wagon and its guards. Krager headed in on his own. He told the fellow who looked like he was in charge that "Your Captain wants to talk to you. You better get back there right now." Dice were, of course, rolled. Jason and the NPC came out dead even. [Question: should I use Jason's Deceit vs the guard's Sense Truth, or should it be Deceit vs Resist?] So Krager has not convinced the guard that he was needed, while the guard was not certain that Krager was lying. The guy he was talking to turned out to be a Captain. Krager played dumb though, and said that he was just following orders. The guard Captain agree'd to go with Krager and talk to the fellow that supposedly sent him. Krager led him back toward the hut where his compatriots lurked, and Sedu attempted to use "Sleep" on the Captain, but the roll outcome was even! He didnt go to sleep. Reek charged out, using her Athletics to charge before using Scrapping. She rolled incredibly well on her Athletics, getting an outcome of 5! So she added 5 dice to her Scrapping roll and got a smashing success. The stakes dictated that the guard captain was down and out!

They advanced back to the wagon, Kragar had donned the scarf of the Captain. They reached the wagon, and Kragar told the sergeant that he was the Captain in charge now, that the other had been reassigned (ding, xp for Jason). At the same time, Reek climbed on top of the loaded wagon and proclaimed that in fact, she had killed the previous captain! (xp for Reknown) The sergeant bought Kragar's story, and Kragar's subsequent explanation that the Ratkin was uh.. insane. Reek continued to menace the guards, until Sedu discreetly used "Sleep" on her, sending her into la-la-land. They played it all off, and soon has the wagon and its guards heading off along the narrow track into the forest. A few hours later, they planned to stage their inside heist. "Captain" Kragar stopped the wagon and said that he'd heard something in the woods, and sent Violet and two of the guardsmen into the woods. Reek (awake again) followed Violet into the woods, bitterly bickering about a misplaced pendant of some sort. Reek, Violet and the two guard stomped around in the bushes for a few minutes, and just as they were all ready to spring the trap on their unsuspecting guards, an arrow thumped into a tree near Violet. Then a number of heavily armed soldiers emerged from the trees, making straight for Violet, Reek and the guards. The guards turned and ran back toward the wagon, shouting that they were under attack. Two of the soldiers attacked Violet. Dice were rolled, but everyone broke even and no damage was done. One soldier began to attack Reek but suddenly recognized her (Secret of Contacts). The soldiers were from the same region as she was, and one of them knew that she was in service to one of that region's lords. They ceased attacking the two of them. Reek hurried back toward the wagon, where Krager had ordered the guards to both sides of the wagon - splitting them up. Reek walked onto the path and demanded that the guards drop their weapons. I had her use Sway, even though she was unskilled, resisted by the guards. These players had some great rolls. And a few terrible ones as well. This was a great roll though, and they all dropped their weapons. Then the soldiers walked out of the trees as well. They bound all of the guards and took possession of the wagon. Krager explained that he was a spy in service to the soldiers' region, and they bought it (ding!). Meanwhile, our characters had found both the Ruby and the Garnet that they'd all been hunting for. The soldiers were taking the wagon back to their town. The characters traveled along with them, and at one point they stopped and the sergeant of the soldiers decided that he didnt want to continue to keep up with prisoners, and ordered one of his men to kill the tied up guards. Sedu of course objected, and managed to talk the sergeant into not killing the prisoners (ding! key of Conscience).

On they traveled, and came to the town, Ammen, from where the guards were as well as Reek's employer. The characters split off from the wagon and headed toward Lord Duval's place in town. Reek explained that they had gotten the Garnet that he sent them after. Also Kragar asked if he wanted a ruby. Duval was certainly interested in the ruby, and they set to haggling. Finally Kragar agree'd to let Duval have the ruby appraised, meanwhile, Duval would put them up in the Horse and Tack Inn, "the finer of the two inns in this town". They ate and drank, while Sedu looked around forlornly for a library. Violet hit on her key of Carousing. They overheard that someone was in town asking around about some fine gems. It was a very very tall man with black hair. Jason used the Secret of Contacts, and so this fellow turned out to be the Boss of the local thieves guild, with whom Jason was formerly affiliated (key of the outcast). They laid low that evening, but then heard something from outside, and discovered that Lord Duval's place was on fire. They raced over, well except Kragar, who for some reason chose to hang out at the Inn. At Duval's they found the home in flames, and ruffians doing battle with Duvals men-at-arms in the courtyard. Also in the courtyard was one very tall, black haired man, and a woman with long red hair who was using magic against Duval's men. She used "Flight/Flee/Fugitive" on one of Duval's men, and Sedu promptly stole it! Reek and Violet rushed in to do battle, Reek leaping onto one of the ruffians to assist the combatants. Sedu attempted to use "Sleep" on one of the ruffians, when the red haired woman stole his syllable! He of course brought down the pain. I debated for a bit on how to properly run this bringing the pain. What actually occured was that Sedu used "Sleep" on one of the ruffians, successfully, then red-hair stole it. The pain was brought, and I finally concluded that the conflict was simply over controlling the word- Sedu trying to keep it, and red trying to steal it. I tried to figure out what the bits of the conflict were, the actions that they'd be rolling over. Finally I just had Michael and myself start rolling the conflict. The first round went to Sedu, as his fellow players were being liberal with their Gift dice, but then it was back and forth after that. Both characters in the conflict were Adept at Zu. The Gift dice, and pool dice quickly ran out, and quite a few rolls were dead even. We probably rolled a dozen times, and still only ended up with red being Bloodied. Still, she dropped out of the conflict, and Sedu kept the syllable.

Reek and Violet rushed in and dispatched tall black hair and red hair, while Sedu and Duval's men finished off the ruffians.

We left off there.

I'd explained to my players that this two-game session was really intended to be a figuring out of the system. Thus, I'd dispensed with some of the things I'd normally do, like setting up relationship maps and really striving to make sure all the characters were super compatible and so forth. The players seem open to making it a semi-regular game and keeping it going. They seem to like the characters that they've got, and say that they're enjoying the story. So I will probably try to flesh out the characters and tweak them some and keep it all going.

Michael, having never seen TSoY before, and being somewhat new to Role Playing Games anyway seemed to jump right in, but took a little while to start hitting his Keys. Admittedly, Key of the Collector isnt super-easy to hit if I'm not trying to help with it- so I'll have to work on that. But he got some points for keeping the guards from having their throats slit, and for his non-violent approach to conflict. Maddie really racked up some xp using key of Reknown. Jason and Krissi both did pretty well also.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

on character death, or the social contract

This has been discussed on The Forge before, but I wanted to give some flesh to my own thoughts on this subject..

When folks sit down to play a Role Playing Game, at least 9 times out of 10, it is with the expectation that the character they're playing will live. Paranoia is an obvious exception to this rule, and depending on the group, Cthulhu might be as well. But for many players, and in many systems, creating a character is a process into which one devotes a little time and energy to create an "avatar" if you will, through which they interact with the game universe.

The avatar of course takes many forms, even in the same game environment. Take a D&D game, if the players have made some thoughtful decisions in picking classes, then they have already made statements about how they want to interact with the game world. Warriors want to hit things, sneaky thieves want to break into things, etc etc. These are generalizations of course, but still, it implies something about the way the player wants to play. Let me put it this way, a party comprised entirely of orc barbarians and war-mages is probably not interested in a story filled with intrigue, politics, and cat-burglary.

(Eep, I'm drifting, back on target)

So this avatar that you have spent between none and alot of time creating is your mechanism for interacting with the game world. Here's what I'm getting at - lets assume you've created a character and played him/her for a few sessions, and things are going well. You've gained some levels/bought some advances, you're refining the character both mechanically and role playing to the way that you want to play him. Then a troll eats you. Please create another character.

This happened to me in a D&D game a year or two ago. I was pretty disappointed, and less than excited about dropping the character that I was having a GREAT time playing, and coming up with something else. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that ingame consequences should be done away with, not at all. But actually what I am trying to say is that I think they should be done in a different way. I think that there should only be two ways in which you will removed from your character, and that should be through role playing or through stakes agreement. "I take my glove off and smack the Grand-Swordsmaster-with-a-quick-fuze-who-just-killed-someone-for-spitting-in-his-direction." This is a silly example, but what I mean is through choices that are obviously taking you down a dark dark dark path, you could die. Vampire games come to mind. Do not fuck with the prince. At least, not unless you are awfully well supported. And by stakes agreement, I mean that it should be set out beforehand that you might die here. Sure, killing orcs in D&D is assumed to have some risk, but we also assume we'll survive, because we're the heros.

Anyway, gotta work. more later.

Monday, June 19, 2006

running and tSoY

Weekend festivities! WooHoo!

Saturday morning Krissi and I got up and were over at Maddie's place at 6. Jason met us there. Maddie and I went on a run, while Krissi and Jason walked, and we all did a 10 mile track. Good stuff. I'm hoping that I do not develop a splint or anything from it.

Saturday afternoon we gathered at my house to try out The Shadow of Yesterday. Jason and Krissi were present, but Maddie was home catching up on lost sleep. Still we had a good time.

Jason came up with a stealthy and deceitful human character, and we set Krissi up with a warrior-woman type of character. Winging it, I told them they were bandits, who preyed off of those who were unable to keep ahold of their valuables. They were in the forest of Khale, and had gotten word that a small village held a valuable ruby. Off they went to the village, and found the elder's hut. It was night. We started rolling dice. The door was held closed by a latch inside, and Jason wanted to defeat the lock. We decided on stakes, if successful, the door was open, if unsuccessful, the lock remained fastened, and there was a chance of waking the occupant. In retrospect, I probably should have made the failure stakes that they had defeated the lock, but that it had a chance of waking the occupant. But on a second attempt Jason got the door open. Now they stood in the entryway to a dark hut, which appeared to be two rooms. They were after the ruby. I asked what they wanted to do. They were interested in finding the ruby, but I explained that they were moving into a dark hut and had no idea of the obstacles or layout etc. After a moment, they decided that they would try to find the elder in his bed and knock him out, so that they could interrogate him. I had them roll, with I think 1 penalty dice. The stakes, I think, were success = finding the elder in his bed, failure = waking him and him sounding the alarm (I was ratcheting up the stakes a little). They rolled and were successful, so found him sleeping in bed. Krissi wanted to knock him out with her spear, with which she got a bonus dice anyway. Stakes were either knocking him out cold, or not, and him rising and sounding the alarm. *Thump* he was out cold (and Krissi got XP- Key of Bloodlust). They bound him and turned the light on to search the place. Just when they were certain that the ruby was not hidden in the hut, they discovered a locked box hidden in the floor. A roll later, Jason had opened it and inside discovered.................. a human skull. The roused the tied up elder and asked about the ruby. After some resistance he told them that it was in a locked box in the floor... and countered that it was not, and what was the skull all about? The elder looked horrified, and said that the Forest King must have taken it. The Forest King, he explained, was an evil sorcerer of the woods, who would kill or steal, and leave a skull behind. Our heros, er, villans, whatever, decided to head out and look for a sorcerer with a ruby.

Out in the woods, they made camp, only to be awakened by the sound of people in the woods. They saw three people carrying sacks, and called out to them. The three ran. Krissi and Jason wanted to stop them, and so Krissi threw her spear, while Jason threw a dagger. Dice were rolled, and two of the three were winged and fell (xp for Krissi). They went and questioned the two, who warned Jason and Krissi that they were messing with the Forest King. Jason told them that they were also in the service of the Forest King (xp for Jason- Key of Impersonation). After a bit of arguing, the four of them headed toward the Forest King's camp. After they passed into a marked area, obviously growing close to the camp, our adventurers decided it was time to take out their two charges. Dice were rolled and down they went (xp for Krissi). They snuck further in, but were not especially sneaky and were called out by a pair of guards with crossbows. Again, Jason insisted that they were supposed to be here (xp for Jason) and managed to convince the guards. Krissi lured them off, and with a brilliant ability stacking, got herself into position and then took both guards out with a smooth sweep of her spear (xp for Krissi). They continued into the camp. They now saw a small but busy village, hidden away in the trees. Jason used his Secret of Contacts, and bumped right into his second cousin. Jason told him that he was here doing odd jobs (xp for Jason) since he was no longer with the Thieves Guild (xp for Jason - Key of the Outcast). They agree'd to meet up later at the meeting hall in the center of the village. Looking for the Forest King, they headed to the only two story structure in the village, the meeting hall near the center. Inside on the first floor, they found a large meeting hall that doubled as the watering hole. It was one huge open room, with fireplaces, benches and tables, and a set of stairs going up to the second floor. There were a small number of people at the tables, apparently enjoying themselves and some grog. They went straight for the stairs, and told the guard at the foot of the stairs that they had been attacked outside the camp and were told to report to the Forest King. The guard gave them a funny look and asked if they'd spoken to their captain, and who was their captain? The dice came out. Jason wanted to convince the guard that they were supposed to be there (and then to convince him to let them upstairs), and the guard wanted to ascertain whether they were supposed to be there or not. It was Jason's deceit vs the guard's um, truth detection or something. Well the dice were not in Jason's favor this time, and he lost the conflict, by two points even. We took the chance to Bring Down the Pain. The stakes were: Jason would convince the guard that he was supposed to be here, or the guard would divine that they were NOT supposed to be here and sound the alarm. Now we broke it down, and this is where I'm not sure if we did BDtP correctly or not. Anyway, not knowing how to really further refine those stakes, we started rolling. We figured this was Parallel. We figured they could do these at the same time, Jason trying to convince the guard, while guard tries to see through his facade. Either way, it worked out pretty well, we rolled dice, Jason took 1 point of harm, and the guard took 3, as Jason apparently was doing a good job of convincing him. Another round, and the guard managed to inflict no harm, and Jason inflicted 1 more harm. The guard backed down, satisfied (or cowed) that Jason was indeed supposed to be here. (xp for Jason) Next Jason and Krissi quizzed him about the Forest King, certain that they were about to be able to meet the mysterious sorcerer of the woods. The guard said, "There he is." and pointed across the room to a fellow with his head in his arms, snoring softly at a table full of rough looking fellows.

Our heros walked over and plopped down next to the sleeping fellow, and Jason immediately put his hand in the guys pocket, looking for a ruby or some keys. Instead, someone grabbed his collar from behind and pulled him off of the bench, demanding to know what the hell he though that he was doing. Jason, being fairly quick - told the burly fellow that he was just trying to collect some money. Jason did a good job of passing it off, and then they engaged the rest of the table in rowdy conversation as the sleeping fellow woke and demanded more grog. It turned out the sleeping fellow, who they continued to refer to as "King" was a guy named Dave, an accountant. Actually he was the Accounting Captain, so he was an important enough person, but he wasnt quite a king of anything.

We left off there, as we were running out of time, and I needed to be able to prepare some more cleverness for these players.

During a brief intermission in play, I'd asked the two players what they thought of the system. They both said that they liked it. They both seemed to like the dice mechanic. They both liberally spent their Gift Dice, and I'm certain Krissi ran out, and Jason probably did too. Krissi didnt know that Gift Dice did not refresh so quickly though. I went ahead and let them refresh some pools during the meeting hall scene. Jason got involved in a game of darts and refreshed his Instinct, while Krissi caroused and carried on with the accountant and the folks at the table, refreshing her Vigor and Instinct. After the game I quizzed them more about their experience with the game and system. I asked point blank if there was anything system related that they disliked or thought would be better some other way, and they both shook their heads. I asked what they did like, and they immediately volunteererd that they liked the xp system. Jason had managed to really ding his keys, and was holding 10 xp at the end of play, which I think took us about 3-4 hours, even with small breaks. Krissi hit her keys well early on, but ran out of opportunity once they got into the camp, and was holding 5 xp at the end of play. I think they really picked up quickly on the Keys idea. Secrets worked pretty well but did not end up being used alot, though both Jason and Krissi managed to use their Secrets. Conflict resolution flew, and was great. I'm really excited for myself and my players that we seemed to do some fun and interesting things with stakes and conflict resolutions. Bringing Down the Pain was an interesting concept to the players. I think they were skeptical of it, being from more traditional role playing stock, but Jason seemed to enjoy his spotlight during the BDtP.

So.. two thumbs up! I'm looking forward to trying to do some more with it next weekend, and we'll see if our third player can join us :)

Before closing (and since I'm now a day or two later posting than I'd intended to be) I should mention that I've gotten a pair of new running shoes. My old ones were, I think, at the end of their useful life. They're Brooks, same as my old pair, but these are an awesome Sunray color. I'm a big nerd [PDF].

Firecracker 5k

Hello Reader!

On July 3, I will be participating in a 5k (3.1 mile) race. It is the St. Jude Firecracker 5k.

I've done 5K's before, but I have never solicited pledges from people. Well, this time I am. I am also going to try to do the race in under 25 minutes. I have done a 5k in about 28 minutes before, but this will be a new challenge for me.

I would invite you to support the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by making a pledge! Any amount is welcome, a dollar or whatever you would like to give! Anything you can offer will make me all the more excited about this race.

Check out the website for the race.

If you would like to pledge, please email me at xjermx@gmail.com and I will gladly supply you with info.

Also, bear in mind that I'll be doing the St. Jude marathon in December, and I will be taking pledges later for that!

Thanks! And after the race you should be able to check the results and see if I made my 25 minutes.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Disappointment in Gaming

So I've been mulling over this for awhile, but finally decided to try to commit it here.

There have been a few times that I've been disappointed during gaming. Its ranged from mild "oh I didnt think they'd do that" disappointment, to more severe "Great, you've broken the game. thanks jerk." disappointment.

I'll give a few examples.

Awhile back I caught the indie RPG bug from Shasticon and got my hands on Dogs in the Vineyard. Its a great game from lumpley games that is set in a semi-historic but fictional west in the 1800's. The players take on the role of God's Watchdogs. They travel from town to town doing God's work - which means they root out sin and pass judgement on the sinful. So its setting is very interesting, but its dice mechanic is also very excellent, and was a total eye-opener for me. I sat Maddie down and we went through character creation for her, really to try out the system, but also to try to move toward being able to play it. Character creation involves a little actual play, as you spend a few minutes developing the character. It went pretty well. We messed up fallout, but no big deal. Aside from the way that dice are used in this game as opposed to "traditional" RPGs, one of the big differences for me was the idea of conflict resolution, as opposed to task resolution. Well I arranged a saturday Dogs in the Vineyard game with Jason, Krissi and Maddie. I've blogged about it, but not in much detail I think. It started out fine, we did character creation for Jason and Krissi. Krissi especially had a hard time buying into the setting ("Its just Mormons!"), and Jason I think was suspicious both of the setting and the mechanics, but we sat down and began to play. Play flowed smoothly for a bit, we weren't really rolling any dice at this point, they were talking to people and stuff. We hit a huge snag though when they encountered a non-believer. Without making the details into a longer story, Krissi decided that this non-believer needed to be converted. And here's where I went wrong. *The story wasnt about this woman who was a non-believer.* See? Right there, between the astericks. That's where I went wrong. I set out in my mind that the story was about something other than this person they were trying to convert. So not only did I have that in my mind, I wasn't willing to budge on this person. Which was my mistake. I thought at the time that the game system had failed me, even that the players had failed me ("just leave the old woman alone, this is not what the story is about" I'd thought), when in fact, I failed my players, and the system a little.

This is a pretty glaring example, but in retrospect, it sure was an educational experience/mistake. The others are pretty minor, but I'll mention them for conversation sake.

Ages ago, as White Wolf was just putting out the New World of Darkness Vampire the Requiem (that's alot of words) I got a few people together to play through the demo. It went really well actually. I had a good time, and so did they. The thing though that I remember negatively, and was suprised at, at the time, was their reaction to an NPC. I wanted them to be cowed and frightened, and instead they were like "wtf do you want", to Mr. NPC.

In a Call of Cthulhu/World of Darkness game recently (CoC material, nWoD rules), I was running stuff from a published adventure. It was difficult enough to shoe-horn the players into it. "No, you cant leave town. There is a blizzard. All the roads are closed. Um.. no, you cant just hike." And at one point one of the players killed someone, rather out of hand, who was sortof integral to the plot. It was near the end, and I just kinda wrapped everything up as tidy as I could and brought it to a close. Sure, I could have either just NOT killed the NPC off. Either through telling the player not to do it, or some ridiculous fiat of "Well she's just not dead." or whatever. But really my disappointment here was that I was running someone elses adventure. Sure there are alot of great adventures out there, with alot of great material in them, but it restricts both the GM and the players. *everyone* is railroaded into following along the story. You may as well be reading a book together and occasionally throwing some dice on the table. The beginning, middle and end are all already written. You just get to create the names and decide how people die along the way.

And finally I'll mention my last real stab at D&D. A long long long time ago I was a big planescape fan. Before I learned alot of lessons about games and gaming and such. Anyway, a year or so ago I got our weekly D&D 3.5 game crew to agree to participate in a planescape 3.5 game on the weekends. I had grand, GRAND plans. I have found, and was reminded at this time, that I love converting stuff. I can spend hours at it. And so I dragged out the 50 pounds or so of planescape material I had and began convering rules and monsters and stuff. I decided that I'd run them through "Dead Gods", a published planescape adventure. A big one. This wasnt a pamphlet adventure, this was basically a campaign. I wanted to be open and everyone to have a great time, so I pretty much said that folks could create whatever they wanted for characters. There was a level limit, though I dont remember what it was. Somewhere under 6 I think. Anyway, we ended up with an interesting assortment of characters. Some were good, others were.. munkin. But we set off on the adventure. I enjoyed it alot of the time, but as time went on, became frustrated.. largely with two things. One was the sometimes extreme munchiness of some of the players. The players (partly my fault, I'll try to explain) were building the most efficient combat/surviving machines they possibly could. This was my fault partly because, well, I killed some of them. See this was the problem, I had a published adventure, that was pretty linear. It had bad guys and good guys, some of them COULD NOT DIE. Not because they were immortal, but because if they died, well, we would be done playing the campaign. So it was *very* frustrating for the players, trying and trying and trying to kill the bad guys or whatever, and not able to do it, and meanwhile though the badguys were fairly adept at trimming them down. This was a big downer about it, and the other was the material - sticking to published stuff. In one scene the players enter a temple, in which there is a Major Bad Guy. Bad Guy sets it on fire, there is a climactic fight (during which the bad guy cannot die, cause, um, he's the whole point of the campaign), and the temple burns down. Well, the problem turned out to be that after 5 or 6 rounds of combat, the story calls for the temple to be burning down and falling down around their ears. Um, which is like 30 seconds after the fire started. So... I remember awkwardly trying to explain that, um, yes, the place just went up really fast, and um, hey you better get out before the place falls down!! Sigh. Lessons learned.

Anyway, all of this is just me thinking "out loud" about the things that I feel like I've learned. Published adventures = bad. For me anyway. Running them straight, anyway. I'd have no qualms about *stealing* from the story. But I'm all about not inviting people over to be spectators in the story. Gaming should be *about* the players. They dont have to be gods among men, or the kings and emperors and all that, but they shouldnt be trapped in the story either. Its illusion when they just think they have control over it, but in reality, you'll use whatever light or heavy-handed methods you have to in order to force them to reach the end of the story that you created or that someone else wrote. How much fun would it be if I invited you over to play Sam and Frodo- through the "Lord of the Rings Adventure". We already know what's going to happen and how its going to end. Maybe there are some differences along the way. Maybe Sam kills more orcs, or Frodo practices his knitting along the way, or whatever, but they're still going to do all the things they did in the story and eventually throw the ring into the lava. Not really that much fun.. not to me anyway.

So the players should have control of the story. During my DitV session, in hindsight, I should have allowed, "Yes, the old woman is converted. Congratulations." and moved on. Instead, I let it break the game and ruin the afternoon for me.

Well, I've run out of steam. I'm sure I could rant/ramble on, but it'll have to be later. Thanks for listening :)

Grinds to a halt

So Tuesday gaming gasps its last breaths.

Some of the players are RPG'd out/not interested in playing/what-have-you. So the Feng Shui game goes on the shelf.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get some people together this weekend to play with The Shadow of Yesterday.

I posted to the forum of our local Comic shop that doubles as a gaming shop, looking for people who might be interested in these indie RPGs. The one hit I got back offered this after I asked if he was up for some playing, perhaps even over the weekend:

"Which day, Sat or Sun ? I don't have a car so travel is something of a b-tch for me. If it's Sunday, I can see if my friend wants to join as well. Sort of that, I don't mind hosting here at my place. I'm kinda planning a 3.5 DnD game anyway. Lemme know."


I guess I shouldnt be prejudice against people without wheels. I did some time with no car myself. But I'm not interested in D&D carpool.

Someone offered this in return:

"Typically grownups that still game have issues. There are rare exceptions but on the whole thats the truth"

I disagree in part. I figure that if you did some demographics on all people between the ages of 20 and 100 who participate or want to participate in a semi-regular RPG game, you would find higher percentages of "challenged" folks among this group than you would among, say, golfers. But I cant believe that 80% of this group fall in the challenged category. And I suppose it depends on your definition of challenged. Are you a vampire? Do you use deodorant? Are you a felon? Do you know what the word "reliable" means? How about "responsible"? How about "courteous"?

Anyway, why can't I seem to find the normal gamers? The people that I've gamed with in the past. The people who have jobs and responsibilities but still want to get together and have some fun playing some role playing games.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Weekend Wrapup

So this weekend came and went.

Maddie and I were up before 6AM on Saturday for a 10 mile run. It was good, but long, and by the end my feet and legs were tired of being picked up and set back down. It took us about two or two and a half hours. It was good though. The weather was great. I shook the sleepy right off once we hit the street. I felt rather fast, and was ahead of most of the run. But I'm certainly not disparaging my running partner. She did a fantastic job on the run as well. In fact, possibly better than I did, as my shin is a little sore at the moment, and I'm fearful that its the onset of a shin splint.

Saturday afternoon was a continuation of John and his dad building a gazebo behind their house, and I was recruited for part of this. Also Maddie and John were throwing a Farewell party for Todd, the DM for a long-running D&D game that all of us have played in at one time or another. So some excellent food was prepared, and people showed up, and there was some socializing and enjoyment. Todd brought over a game called WildLife, which was a great deal of fun. We played two rounds of it, Todd winning the first, and Keith winning the second.

Sunday there was much running of errands and lounging about. Krissi and I ran around town, visiting Maddie at work, and doing a bit of shopping. We picked up some Xbox games, which is always super fun. We got The Godfather, Prince of Persia (3): Two Towers, and Halo 2 (which I owned previously, but lost the CD for). Jason came by and he and Krissi did their walking excercise bit, and we ate and played xbox.