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

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What I've been up to

Feels like I haven't posted in awhile.

The weekend was pretty busy, and a little lazy. I ended up taking like 4 days off from running and excercising, which was a mistake. I just didn't feel like it.

We'd intended to run a werewolf game on Sunday afternoon, but Maddie got called in to work. So instead I had Jerry and Andrew and Jason over to play board games. We played For Sale, Citadels, and Zombies.

Afterward, we planned to do a Shadowrun of Yesterday game, and I invited Jerry and Andrew to stay for it. They did, and we had Jason, Davery, Christin, Jerry and Andrew all around the table for the game.

I have to say, I had a pretty fantastic time. I threw together quick characters for Jerry and Andrew - Jerry got a Rigger/Matrix type, while Andrew got a cybered shooter. For those of you keeping score, this was Davery and Christin's second time to play the TSOY system, and this was Jerry and Andrew's first time for both TSOY and Shadowrun. Oh, and Christin's second time for Shadowrun. Anyway, after going through quick explanation of the game and rules, I figured it'd be fun to give everyone a mini-prelude, basically giving each person a chance to roll the dice, and maybe get a couple of XP. So I did, Seat of the Pants style. Andrew's gun-guy had to outrun a go-gang on motorcycles, firing his piece over his shoulder at them, in order to get away, which he did. Christin's demolitions junkie found herself at the tail end of a shadowrun-gone-terribly-wrong, in the basement of a research facilty (its always a research facility), with the only viable option being to blow the whole fucking building up and make her escape. Win or lose, the building was going up, we just had to negotiate whether she got caught in the blast or not. She didn't. Davery was also stuck in a run-gone-wrong, his colleagues had abandoned him, and he was caught at a dead end in a corporate complex, with the security team closing in on him. He was gonna try to use a conjured Spirit of Man to play havoc with the security team so that he could make his escape. He rolled poorly, and and faster than I could blink, he Brought Down The Pain. Which was super fucking cool. This flowed pretty well, his intent was to Escape, my intent was to Capture Him. We had no problems coming up with actions for our volleys, and I enjoyed that he tried both causing Harm to them by directly effecting them, and also caused Harm to them by blowing a hole in the concrete wall so that he could escape from the building. I love this system. BdtP was kinda close, but Davery had the lead, and the security team gave up. We skipped Jason, cause we were trying to move quickly, and he already knew how this stuff works. Jerry's hacker/rigger was subcontracted by a shadowrun team to provide matrix overwatch for them, and to open a few doors. Right to conflict we went, after explaining how he was in, and doing his thing, and him ad-libbing right along, I explained that a corporate security rigger was coming online and trying to not only track him down, but also trying to shut off the exits for the shadowrun team, trapping them in the building with a bunch of angry (and armed) drones. We did some mad fantastic ad-libbing, making up all kinds of shit on the fly (I'm sure that if any Shadowrun writers had been in the room, they would have had a fit), and banged out some stakes, and rolled some dice. Oh - folks were already handing out gift dice, which was rocking. As I recall, through various means, Jerry ended up rolling four gift dice(!!!!!) along with his roll, and despite my going ahead and using some pool and such to pump my side of the roll, he passed with flying colors, and walked away squeaky clean. Already, just running these little encounters, these folks were picking right up on the game system, and the Shadowrun world. I guided gently, but we were all right together, they wanted to do things and to do them in ways that fit right in with my perception of the semi-future of Shadowrun, and they all did fantastic at being Narrative and doing some awesome stuff.

That done, I whizzed them through the parts about meeting with the Johnson, arranging payment, and threw them at the mission. I wanted to throw them at something fun and challenging, that would likely let all of them get to use their skills and roll some dice. Making shit up as I went, they took a small boat across the harbor to a top secret corporate (research) facility, stealthily took out a drone, snuck onto the island, and then stopped and, in true shadowrun fashion, mulled over the planning for their assault. They got seemingly sorta stuck on the beach, faced with patrolling guards and drones, a monofilament topped chain security fence, and a 25 foot tall concrete barrier, but hey - I didn't want things to be too easy. I wanted them to think, and they did. When it seemed to bog down though in indecision and waiting, I threw them a bone: a security checkpoint and gate just a ways down from where they were. They took the bait and headed that way, again making some plans, but ultimately assaulting it (in a quiet fashion), and taking the checkpoint. We left off there.

A few observations and comments:
- I had a TON of fun.
- My players seemed to have a ton of fun.
- Andrew, after we wrapped and they were about to leave, asked if we were going to play again. I said "Sure..", he looked eager, and I asked him if he wanted me to invite him around again when we did, "Yeah!". I love it when people give me positive reinforcement and validation.
- As I mentioned, I am SO pleased with how well these folks are picking up on the nuances of the game system, and the Shadowrun world. Fantastic.
- During the fight at the guard checkpoint, Andrew (who has been wanting to shoot things with guns for as long as I've been playing with him), said that he was mowing down the combat mage with his assault rifle. We went to dice, but he had no problem with it. After his success, I asked him if he was mowing him down "In the way that makes every alarm and claxon on the island go off? Or the silent way that mows him down with a hail of silenced and very quiet gunfire", The quiet type, he said.
- We had a number of times in which the players said "I want to do X", and we went to dice, came up with stakes, rolled dice, and had a tie. This gave me a bit of a curve, because I was unsure of how to best recover. When the stakes are "Win - shoot the guard, he's down and out. Lose - clip the guard, now obviously he knows that someone is shooting and he radios an alarm.", I was at a loss for how to give that an outcome of "Draw", and didn't want to make it a roll-off, cause that seemed cheezy and weak. I managed, but I still do not have a good long-term resolution in mind.
- Davery said that while he really likes the system, and thinks that it/we are doing a good job of mirroring Shadowrun, he finds that stopping to do Stakes Negotiation brings him out of his Imaginitive Space. I easily see this as well, and am not sure of a fix.
- I cannot stress how much I love not feeling restrained by books and shit that someone else wrote. I'm trying to keep it close to Shadowrun, and when in doubt, I've asked the two players who were big Shadowrun fans what they're opinion and perspective is on the topic, but ultimately, I didn't crack a Shadowrun book a single time during play. That goes for adventures/missions as well. In the future, I intend to blatantly plagarize from published material, but not to "Read the adventure to the players".
- Davery and Christin pointed out that our group speaks in the Third Person when playing. Everything is "My characer says 'X'." I had not noticed that we were so consistent with this, and we discussed how it is likely used as a defense mechanism by perhaps weaker or more timid role players, because (it seems to me) it is easier and somewhat less confrontational to make it Third Person instead of First Person. So I created the Key of First Person, intended to be given as a global key. 1 XP when you speak in first person during the game. (subject of course to the normal 3xp limit). 3 XP when you masterfully deal with other characters in the game while speaking in the first person, and your fellow players commend your grasp of drama and role playing.
- The game really seemed to mirror the better aspects of Shadowrun. I saw all of the trappings of it - the planning, concern about every possible unforseen eventuality, the indecision, then the frantic culmination of planning/lack of planning.
- It rocked.

Now, on an unrelated note, or notes:

I watched part of Casino Royale, the new Bond movie, twice. I saw this previously in the theater and IIRC I enjoyed it, with the exception of the ending. On (sortof) rewatching it, I don't think I like it as much. It is really long, and does thing that so many movies do: it makes wild assumptions and leaps of logic, and skips right over them, offering to the viewer that its just that way.
fairly mild spoilers

The movie starts with a phone call. Bond then traces the phone call by some technoarcane means to have originated from a hotel in the bahamas. So he travels there, and walks into the open and unmanned security office, and reviews the security tape, and simply looks for the video of who is arriving in front of the building at the time that the call is made. Now, if I was trying to determine who made a phone call from a building, I would not base my case on who was getting out of a car in front of the building at that specific time. It seems like pretty flimsy circumstantial evidence. Maybe I'm dim and missed something else important here, but that was all that I could make out.

Later he uses another cell phone to track down the next lead, again, just by looking in the "Dialed Calls" bit of the phone. Flimsy.

Oh, and Chekov's Defibrilator, in the glove box of the car.

This isn't the only movie I've seen that does this stuff. Its common. But that grates on me a bit. I'm not trying to be holier-than-thou, I'm sure I could come up with a few movies that I like that do the same thing.. I dunno, sometimes I'm willing to buy it. But it does annoy me.


I saw this in the theater, I guess late last year, and I thought I'd mentioned it here, but apparently I didn't. So - yknow what else bugs me about this movie? How, during the poker scene in Casino Royale, we've got a helpful fellow explaining to the audience, how to play poker. I'm not completely certain of why this bugs me so much, but let me take a stab at it: it completely pulls the curtain back, for me. No longer am I (potentially) absorbed and engrossed by the movie, now I'm being addressed from on screen by one of the actors, as he explains the game that's going on, just in case I'm too stupid to understand what is happening, or maybe in case I don't know how poker works, and so that I can follow the action. This drives me absolutely up the wall.

Also - I have seen the first half of this movie 3 times, and the last half only once, and I saw the last half more than 6 months ago, so while I do not recall specifics, I recall being annoyed by the circumstances regarding the death of the chick. Perhaps this would be more effective communication if I could point out exactly what bits annoyed me, but I cannot. I do recall that his actions seemed out of character, her motivations seemed weak and dumb, and something else that I cannot remember struck me as being very Deus Ex Machina.

End spoilers.

I've caught a bit of extra work here and there at my second job. It is kinda tiring, but I haven't put in tons of hours yet. I gotta share with you though - after putting in 5 hours in an evening, its tough to look back on that 5 hours of sorta hard work, and be satisified with the, um, seemingly small (insignificant?) amount of money that its earned me. Short term. The desire for a computer hardware upgrade.. and an Xbox 360, still burns within me. It just needs to burn quietly.

Anyway, thanks for checking in!

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