Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Talking to yourself.

 
Firstly a hearty yarr welcome to our new members that joined us last week, Andy, Hem, Grant and Nik. Wonderful to see  you all. As my memory was wiped some years ago I am reconstructing these names from club comms so apologies if I have got them wrong. May I just take this opportunity to say actually how much courage it takes to walk into a pub full of strangers and talk to people although of course I hope we were instantly familiar, we do after all, show strength of character in more ways than usual. Still, very good to see you all.
 
Having said this one of the new guys came to play in last weeks Eclipse Phase and, given the surge of new players, GM Rob coped admirably by levering the games inherent digitally based backdrop and created a 'copy' of the Muse program I was playing. This, I think was the first time I have actually interacted with a doppelganger. The term may not quite be fair as I think a doppelganger implies a false representation to a degree whereas in this universe a copy is a fully bona fide and independent entity.
 
Nevertheless, it was a weird experience. Whilst my Muse was quarantined into a primitive head for antivirus reasons, my copy got a new fully interactive, integrated and projected program that, sadly got infected quite quickly. For a while I was trying to convince the other me to put me back into an integrated form rather than leave me body less but I couldn't convince myself that this was a good plan. Most amusing. I also spent a lot of the session agreeing with myself which was also very interesting, I wonder given two identical personalities whether they would always agree. I presume that much opinion comes from life experience but given that both characters experiences begin identically that different points of view would emerge slowly over time, though its interesting that one doesn't necessarily trust the other at present. As I say, weird.
 
 
In Achtung Cthulu I hear that the new guys in that game started beating up on the Nazi Blue Monks in short order. Well done everyone.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

No FT ? No Comment.

Uncovering ancient mythology is never an easy task. Even in the modern world with all its forensics and information systems the fog of history still prevails where monsters and demons lurk. Traditionally Cthulu comes with its intrinsic library research methods and one puts time aside in ones mind for the occasional evening of bookery as its a case of the pen (or) paper being mightier then the sword - a sort of rock, paper, tentacles game.
 
In the most recent episode  of Achtung Cthulu our investigations were concluding and we are now in the throes of an actual plan. Part of our hit list are a small sect of evil Blue Monks, nothing but an ancient fairy tale to the locals but not wanting to leave any prayer wheel unturned we decided to frequent the usual common or garden library. Not so common or garden in our current Himalayan retreat but nevertheless the local and ancient town had and even more local and ancient library tucked away in its Buddhist monastery. Problem with the Abbot of said monastery is that somehow ancient and local doesn't really go far enough; whilst we enjoyed a welcoming cup of tea with the old chap, he really did push the boundaries of senility.
 
 
Perseverance is one of the traits of my character, so not to be put off by a smiling and nodding contender for best donkey award, I defaulted to the monastic librarian. Definitely not donkey material, a long and embattled conversation embarked on how we could lever some information on the Blue Monks. Not taboo as such my questions were nevertheless batted away as childlike concerns over nothing but stories. Failing this, my last option to gain entry to the library was to offer him a gift of significant meaning in kind and something he would respect as a part of his profession. All I had on my equipment list was a copy of the Financial Times from a few days ago and I suggested that this treasured and important post modern artefact, together with its crossword conundrums should be inturned by us into his collection of great works. Remarkably I actually got a few sentences into this conversation before suggesting he should consider having his manuscripts rewritten for the modern era, a sort of Tibetan Times. End of conversation.
 
 
At this point the information gathering phase of the adventure was definitely over and we headed out, provisioned with our boy scout, to take on the forgotten Monks and their Nazi transmission tower. They are aiding the German War effort by translating ancient Atlantean manuscripts for a shady SS division. To what end... we do not know...

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Musings

  
So when do you become you ? Stupid question ? You bet, but I ran into this little dilemma last week.
 
I picked up a character to play last week that is basically sort of a familiar, always fun, but in this case I was dumped into it unceremoniously. Last episode the muse as it is called had come to the conclusion, or rather calculation that it was not logical to stay on board a compromised station and transmitted itself out of the game. Not as helpful perhaps as the eclipse phase wiki would imply:
 
 
"Getting To Know Your Muse
 
While a muse isn’t as smart as you are, it’s also smarter than you’d think. A muse will always act in your best interests, but that can mean different things at different times. They learn from what you say and what you do. At first, the muse may seem to be a nosy intruder who bugs you about every tiny thing. It will ask how hot you like your soup or why you tease one of your friends more than the others. Many children get frustrated with all of these questions, but try to be patient with your muse. Every question you answer honestly helps the muse understand you. Muses work better when you learn to trust and respect them. After all, they can’t help you if you don’t let them."
 
Having no idea of what a muse was at the time I gradually became aware of how I should have been playing it by the end of the game, nevertheless in this case it is actually a fully blown ego posing as a muse as far as I can tell, so my confusion was accurate, if that makes sense - an ego being more of a personality/character than an intelligent learning tool.
 
So, to date, having transmitted off the station, intercepted by 'The Wall' (long story) and sent back, everyone now is very suspicious of me what with viruses flying around. The upshot of which is that just to be on the safe side I have been downloaded into a primitive head with an equally primitive voice box - tried hacking it already before you ask but it came off a shop manakin as far as I can tell.
 
I am just starting to get the hang of this universe now, so I will try not to die, reboot, rollforward or forkback.
 
 
 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Knowledge is Power

I would not expect a roleplaying game, nor session, to be an educational pursuit. Especially considering that when I received my first roleplaying game in the mail (Vampire: the Masquerade Revised), my dad informed me it's an acceptable alternative to being addicted to drugs. I've since assumed that's what most would think about this hobby we partake in.

However, during our recent session, as we were being described the scuttling noises made by some bots infiltrating our station, we learned that they were not, in fact, attempting to sink us. Moreover, as we progressed from Bill and Prince Marik showcasing their Thesaurus-like skills in finding synonyms for the word, we engaged in banter over what beings may scuttle, why elephants wouldn't and the effects of low gravity on a creature's ability to scuttle.

While a highly enjoyable conversation, we still had the problem of our corrupted former selves planning to murder us... or so we assumed. There was only one thing we could do, we split the party! Bill's tiny octopus changed colour, and thus camouflaged, counter-infiltrated the vessel docked to our station. While he was going about the ship, avoiding traps and our originals, and gathering intel, the rest of the group did a similar thing.


As GM Jon's Achtung Cthulhu! game did not have enough players, we were joined by Jack who took on the role of Bill's muse. She hacked into the system, a risky move considering we were warned the whole system was compromised, and found out we were dealing with a Basilisk Hack which could infect through audio (and possibly visual) contact. This put a major dent in our plans to jury rig a devive to send a warning. We had very little time to figure something else out because something was at the door to the chamber we were in. Whatever it was, it was cutting and slashing into it so a fight was inevitable. Armed and ready, we opened the door only to find my own mutated character!

It was described as a mutated person with horrific disfigurments all over its body. All this Corruption made us instantly think of Warhammer 40k so we had to roll against being confused by tropes! No? Just me? Well, I did fine on my roll... despite shamelessly looking through my character sheet on a Windows Phone.

Suffice to say, we killed it. Although in true horror-esque fashion, bits of it fell off, scuttled away and hardened on the walls and floor. Then, our octopus infiltrator came back, told us of how the other more dangerous versions of us were destroying the ship's AI and then everything went momentarily dark...


BOOM!!!


Said octopus's other body went limp.
It seems the muse inhabiting it had the excellent idea of beaming itself out of the station and harm's way...

Anti Virus

It seems little beyond doubt now that we are dealing with some form of virus in our Eclipse Phase game. In such an existential and biogenically augmented world it's interesting to see what an infection would look like.. When one thinks about it there is an argument to say that the ordinary, or common or gardenening homo sapien is a case in point.; millions of years of viral exposure have altered or enhanced our DNA where I suspect many mutations have been environmentally selected such that we take them for granted or specifically define the species. Have we always had two kidneys or was it the result of an ancestor catching a cold...?
 
Physically, the complete transcending of our DNA and the extinction of natural selection whilst opening up new transgenic branches to the tree of life, in many ways throws our instincts back further into the past. Gone are the days when a community or even a small group of people can band together under their common humainity. Humans have traditionally established their survival in terms of mutual support and sharing of knowledge, although for most of our past this has been, in part, a pack or mob mentality stemming from defending small communities. As our communities have grown much faster than our DNA has adapted we are left with a contention between empathy in small groups versus friction between larger societies. My point where Eclipse Phase comes in is who can you trust ? Where is your gut instinct (if indeed you have a gut) when it comes to your colleagues let alone your enemies. For now we are united by what is trying to kill us but I dont have a feeling yet as to what binds us together as a party. Still, no point in trying to look too far ahead.
 
At present we need some sort of anti virus capablity as its apparent that there are multpile comopnents to its infection methods. There is code piggy backing transmissions and even the lighting has been altered to carry subliminal information into the retina. Not sure of any biological infection systems as yet but that will become apparent I am sure. Definitely time to update our virus definitions.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Self destruct equipment returns policy.

 
Its a rare occasion to have to stop an adventure prematurely albeit with respect for the artistic integrity of the game, though it will of course happen from time to time. There  have been occasions where a party has turned on one another, usually through some mind alteration or perhaps due to an evil or criminally oriented group of characters. Its also been the case that some things can just get out of control and accidents will happen.
 
The Eclipse Phase universe has many existential aspects to it and presents an additional slant on this. When you have backup bodies exactly how far do you go to preserve your current predicament ? It would be easy to take an extreme example to demonstrate a point, say, constantly destroying oneself violently when in combat either to take out opponents or simply to push ones own body past its designed parameters to achieve tasks. Alternatively a casual engineers job to regularly test equipment, ships or habitats to destruction as part of a design process. Whether a GM would consider it an abuse of a system, it would still be possible - with replication systems on hand fabricating new bodies just becomes a time issue.
 
What is more important in my mind is where a culture's attitude settles in general on this. There is shifting the goalposts for sure in comparison with the world we know but this is a different game completely - would it be fair to say that life is genuinely cheap and if so does it matter ? Where does a sense of responsibility lie either from an individuals perspective or society's in general ? Does there a become a psychological and counselling issue at any point or does mental health become completely subjective in this world ?
 
It's an interesting  exploration and we will see where it goes. Our current predicament, as Krzys's last post implies, is that there is a good chance that we are now overrun and the last option is to scuttle our base along with whatever it is that is crawling into it and simply go back to our backup bodies and review the situation.
 
 
Perhaps this is actually a good time to split the party...



Monday, 3 August 2015

The Enemy Within

 
 
I may have failed to mention that you can legally download a pdf copy of Eclipse Phase, so there's no reason for you not to peruse the game.

With that out of the way, let's return to our attempts at survival in space!

Remember those strange noises we heard as last session came to an end?
It turns out it wasn't anything serious. We only found out after taking a quick trip to the fusion reactor chamber, fixing another opened airlock and going back through the greenhouse (centre of the station) and trying to get into our AI's, Hans, server room. The scurrying sound was caused by some of the worker bots watching us. Eventually, they attacked but not being specifically built to fight, they were quickly destroyed.

Just before the fight broke out, we noticed the very same ship we remembered planning on exploring coming ever so closer to our station. We were unable to reach Hans but we did get his logs and as we looked through them, an ominous message was being received. We decided to risk it, put together a crude two-way receiving device and turn on communication.

On the other side of the transmission... were us!
 
Finally some existential angst occurred. Were they really us after the backup? Which of our groups is compromised? How can we live with ourselves now? What's the optimal temperature of tea?! With all these questions in mind, one thing was clear!
As much as our original copies tried to sound shocked and sincere, we could sense something sinister in the background... and as they called us (or themselves) on our (their?) empty threats of blowing their (our?!) ship up, they docked.

Moments later, they cut through the barricades we had set up. We felt the air pressure of two atmospheres equalise, as a putrid stench filled the station. Many bots came out crawling to scout out the surroundings... and then, something came out...
 
 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Mist Opportunity

 
The Achtung Cthulu has begun in absolutely classic style. Our group of average well to do sub continental jet setters were taking a usual Indian internal flight  from Bombay to Calcutta, where upon the plane was veiled in a strange and yet B movie like mist as our pilots lost their navigation. Instrumentation was curiously malfunctional as well as everyone's watches losing time during the affair. Our adventure had begun and in pre war air cabin luxury.
 
Through the mists strange red lights were apparent and also seemingly correcting any course deviation, they brought us down eventually into the vast mountain escarpments of the Himalayas.. or that is what we thought. Putting aside our surreal journey we have found ourselves in some sort of even more surreal Buddhist enclave, not just cut of from civilisation but, I suspect, cut off from reality entirely!
 
By reason of fate or design we have been asked by the Abbot to assist in challenging some less enlightened neighbours of theirs in another valley as it appears that, for reasons unknown, they have managed to acquire a transmission tower...and are in contact with ze NAZIS!!
 
Its all a bit overwhelming for everyone at the moment and my character is not sure where he is going to get the morning papers from but if the Nazis get a foothold in the Raj then it will be the end of business as we know it...


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

In space, no one can hear you scream

 
As you may have had already heard; new games started being run last week at our wonderful club.

My use of a semicolon was not unintentional as prior to Eclipse Phase starting, we had a very interesting discussion on the pluralisation of an octopus. Lines were drawn, alliances formed and backstabbing commenced between the camps of octopi, octopuses and octopodes. As no clear victor emerged from the rubble, we went on to roleplaying!

I must say, even though I picked a ready-made character, it still took me quite a while to copy everything onto a blank sheet. Fortunately, GM Rob was kind enough to explain some of the character aspects I wasn't sure about which is always helpful. I'm told that making a character from scratch for Eclipse Phase is highly time consuming.

The current session started off with us waking up in our spare bodies. If you're unfamiliar with Eclipse Phase, suffice to say it's a sci-fi setting where conciousness is downloadable so changing bodies is everyday business. Last thing we remembered was getting ourselves backed up before venturing out of our space station to check out some ghost space ship that happened to drift by. That was too weeks ago (how ominous!).

The rest of the session was spent on getting around and trying to stop our oxygen from leaking out as something was attempting to open up the station's external hatches. Some of the doors were also welded shut with junk. Ferocious cutting and chopping was had!

We managed to stabilise our situation and started to breathe without fear of running out of air when.. suddenly... a cliffhanger happened!

Something's coming for us...
and it's not existential angst...
that was sorely lacking...
 

 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

New Games for Old

After a week of email storms the electronic front is clearing and we have two games emerging for the next several weeks. Achtung Cthulu makes its second instalment of Shadows of Atlantis. GM Jon:
 
"Shadows of Atlantis is set during the early days of the war as the British intelligence community begins to become aware of the threat.
 
A pair of British spies embedded in Vienna in August 1939 became embroiled in the investigation of the death of a noted German archaeologist, gathering local allies along the way. An unearthed journal provided clues to the motivation for the murder and the identity of those responsible, along with information about valuable artefacts scattered across the world. It seemed likely this was all related, but the group fled Austria when war broke out.
 
They headed for Rome, as Italy was still neutral and the spies were hoping to find a pair of local agents who had gone missing. They found them in a slave labour gang working on an underground archaeological dig administered by the same organisation that was responsible for the professor's death. Following clues in the journal, they realised that their enemy was trying to locate one of the artefacts and they staged a raid to beat them to it. Things got very weird as they battled reptilian humanoids in the catacombs beneath the Eternal City, claiming an ornate shield with odd properties as their prize.
 
Returning with the shield to London, they were inducted into the fledgling Section M and sent to Egypt as part of a multi-pronged mission to seek the remainder of the artefacts. The group chased clues across Cairo, eventually enacting a local prophecy that saw them enter the Egyptian Underworld to battle Apep and recover the second artefact. It could have been a drug-induced dream, but they did come back with another odd object...
 
Meanwhile, another group of agents and innocent bystanders is en route by air from Calcutta to Delhi..."

In another world or universe entirely, GM Rob is bringing a game new to the club, Eclipse Phase. In his very own words:

"
Okay folks, if people want something a bit more sci-fi and transhumanist, I have the post-apocalyptic transhumanist horror game Eclipse Phase on offer. From Wikipedia:

"Eclipse Phase is a post-apocalyptic game of conspiracy and horror. The setting takes place after a World War III project to create artificial intelligence went rogue under the influence of an extraterrestrial entity known as the "Exsurgent" (best described as an organic computer virus with the capacity to infect both machines and animals with sapient qualities), resulting in the deaths of over 90% of the inhabitants of Earth.

Earth is subsequently abandoned, and existing colonies throughout the Solar System are expanded to accommodate the refugees. The setting explores a spectrum of socioeconomic systems in each of these colonies:
A capitalist/republican system continues in the Inner System (Mars, the Moon, and Mercury), under the Planetary Consortium, a corporate body which allows the election of representatives but whose shareholders are nominally most powerful.
An Extropian/Propertarian system is established in the Asteroid Belt.
A military oligarchy rules the moons around Jupiter.
An alliance of Scandinavia-style social democracy and Collectivist anarchism are dominant in the Outer System.

From there, the setting explores various scientific advances, extrapolated far into the future. Nanotechnology, terraforming, Zero-G living, upgrading animal sapience, and reputation systemsare all used as plot points and background.

With all of this, the game encourages players to confront existential threats like aliens, weapons of mass destruction, Exsurgent Virus outbreaks, and political unrest."

Players are "egos", pure consciousnesses of either humans, uplifted (non-humans given human-level intelligence) or AIs. Egos can be backed up, installed into new bodies (anything from human to projected light, including robotic bodies of all shapes and sizes, bodies of uplifts, even things like a swarm of centrally controlled insects similar to the future Yithians in Call of Cthulhu). Egos can also be forked, creating 2 sentient beings who are exactly the same up until the point of forking or remixed fork, altering aspects of the fork to create things like a barely sentient AI that mimics the original's behaviour or a combination of several original egos into one person.

It's uses a percentile based system with 00 on the dice actually representing 00 as opposed to 100. Criticals (either success or fail) are caused by rolling doubles (11, 22, 33, etc) on the dice.

The game is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. The publishers encourage players and gamemasters to recreate, alter, and "remix" the material for non-commercial purposes.

Website: http://www.eclipsephase.com/"

Blimey. Well which universe sounds less dangerous then ?




 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Changes

What happens at the end of the 13th Age ? One could presume that as with some movie franchises that they have a good thing going with, potentially unlimited sequels, but I was surprised that having played last time we didn't start a 14th Age. This may be a facetious point but on the up side it will mean that any 13th Age game will just continue to climax to an even better finale. In this vein our incumbent adventure is approaching its last instalment for the time being and sees the party in another Kobold infested situation. Will we ever find out who killed the Pharaoh ? Who is altering the rivers in Punt ? Who Will the first archaeologist ever find anything old to dig up ? All these questions and more will come to a fruition tonight.

Blades in the Dark is easier to round off at any point as its more of a chess game wilth knives. Whist the protagonists, organisations and entities continue to shift and vie for power in the player generated back plot, it is only occasionally interspersed with first hand player events. It is a game I shall miss as its a well balanced cross between a board and roleplaying game that offers play on two distance levels without ever having to roll a dice. I am not so well steeped in roleplay to know whether it is a unique approach but its an experience definitely worth having.

 
However, now is a good time to think about re/joining as we are about to rotate and reinvent games and there are plans a bubbling. In our Gnome driven steam and cog powered Yahoo system there are contenders emerging for the next adventurers. We are thinking of reincarnating a D&D5E back to Thursdays. Its generic appeal and profile fit well in a public facing club and often encourage the dedicated, though we also offer it on a Tuesday also. GM Jon has spoken of the continuation of his popular Achtung Cthulu and GM Rob has also been wafting a space adventure around.

We shall cast all our magical ingredients into a hat and see what sort of rabbit we can pull out of it....stay tuned folks..



Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Reminiscing Retail Roleplaying



Coming up in club comms this week is the forthcoming opening of another Brighton Games retail experience - Games Saloon. The history of Gaming shops in Brighton is not an illustrious one. There is though the stalwart Games Workshop that has survived as long as I can remember. Not specifically a roleplaying shop, I do remember wandering in there many years ago when they did  used to stock Merp and ICE modules from my Lord of the Rings days but I haven't been inside for a looong while but like a small shrine on a winding road I should really pop in and light a candle.

I do remember Wargames Haven more recently, nice try but closed after 12 months in 2009 sadly - lots of space for table top but floor area in Brighton does come at a high price.

Dave's Comics in the North Lanes is another long serving outlet that has reinvented itself several times over the years. I did have the pleasure of meeting Dave himself on occasion and my other half used to run the shop from time to time when he wanted to pop out for a cup of tea. Sadly no longer with us his shop has gone from selling large bundles of rpg modules that Dave must have bought in wholesale second hand and now aims for the premium boxset market but if you have the money then always worth popping in. I do remember a Magic the Gathering section staffed by an incredibly knowledgeable wizard during its hayday.
 
Who remembers the Brighton Adventurers Guild store in the North Laines ? It was before the internet.... and before even the Adventurers Guild ?..Well we have to go back as far as the RPG section in the local Virgin Megastore.
 
 
So how will Dice Saloon fair ? Well hopefully in the digital age their business intelligence should really have made the decision as to viability but at the end of the day its community that matters so with sharp pencils and an escape for the imagination do pop in for a crumpet.
 

 
 



 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Never Trust an Old GM



So I have been away for a week an my own adventure that netted absolutely no gold or  experience points. I shall pause only to point out that I walked passed  a Warhammer shop in Helsinki. Specifically I didn't go in to see if it was actually war hammers they were selling as it was closed; the owner was absent presumably because his son had been captured by internet trolls.
 
So piecing the week's email evidence together it would seem that GM Bill has been having some fun with our 13th Age Party and life insurance may have to be cashed in. Quote:

"Life can be hard sometimes.
You're a big fierce Ankheg, you fear nothing.  You're enjoying a relaxing day, lurking in your burrow, when a whole row of meals arrive.  Juicy soft little creatures, no exoskeletons, you can just bite straight into them and eat to your heart's content.

That's how it was supposed to work.

But then somehow they turn out to have sharp bits, and weird explosions of fire and stuff, and before you know it you're losing legs left, right and centre and really not feeling king of the hill any more.

And then, to add insult to injury, the adventurers you barely scratched get themselves utterly mauled by a mere ochre jelly.

Bill"
 
Given the options between fighting a rather ugly, giant insectoid or a yellow jelly, I can see how guards may have been let down here. I would suppose jelly is something you have to reward yourself with after a particularly trying day or something to indulge in at Christmas.
 
Just remember folks, wobbly, delicious deserts are no trifling matter and can have you for Christmas too !
 
 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Someone Call 999

With the lady-necromancer dead in the street and Bluecoats surely on their way to the scene of the crime, we were forced to make a quick exit. Fortunately, I was shooting from an out of view location, Marcus (The Whisper) had his spirit mask on and the Lurk was in disguise, so getting out of Dodge wasn't difficult.

Regrouping at our base, we decided that the next step in our plan to obliterate the Lampblacks was to set fire to their headquarters. We needed to act fast while the news of their ally being dead didn't reach them. A few hours later, we were all prepped up with combustible materials and plans as to where to place it all. We took Mercer with us because we knew all too well the Lampblacks clearly outnumbered us.

Our Lurk got into their base once so entering again and setting everything up for a fire was a simple matter of time. We waited out of sight until the whole building went ablaze. The Lurk opened a backdoor for us and we made our way towards their treasury while the Lampblacks were distracted by the surrounding inferno.

'Who goes there?' Some Lampblacks blocked our way. I gave them a very stern talking for leaving their stations and casually walking around while everything was in flames! Confused and bewildered at first, they quickly realised the error of their ways and politely asked for guidance. As such, I had to go with them, leaving the rest of the gang behind, and coordinate their efforts to put out the raging fire.

The group continued onwards to the treasury. Mercer stepped in through the treasury's door after our Lurk dealt with the lock, only to find several Lampblacks inside.

HOW? WHAT? WHY?

With little to no time for explanations, he tried to close the door as said Lampblacks charged the group.

Meanwhile, the Lampblacks' attempts to douse the fire weren't going so well. It may have had something to do with me sending them out to the most dangerous places and giving out reckless orders. After a while I tried to slip away but some of the Lampblacks decided they wanted to get paid for their job... thus a chase through the burning building began.

It concluded when I reached the corridor leading to the treasury and where the rest of our gang was. Noticing the slew of enemy gang members, Marcus shouted for me to duck. I slid on the floor as he released the spirit he wrenched control of from the lady-necromancer. It took care of most of the Lampblacks and we killed whoever remained.

We made our way back, with what little valuables we could find, only to have our way blocked once more by none other than Bazo Baz!

Although he proved a fierce opponent, he succumbed to our numbers and went down in flames... literally.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Never Trust an Old Lady

 
In my last update, I might have asserted that we won't be using updated rules in our game... it turned out to be a falsehood. This session started with us transferring dots onto our new sheets. Other than two skills being combined into one, skill distribution changes among the classes and me losing a concealed blade for ectoplasmic ammunition, there weren't many visible changes... but let us get back to the game!

After every successfully performed job, our merry band of sociopathic thieves likes to engage in our personal relaxing activities. For some they include culling the local prostitute population, for others it's visiting their succubus friend for the night... and out Lurk prefers to gamble his money away.

Sadly, he quickly found out that his regular gambling den banned him. As such, he started looking for a new one. In the process, he noticed an obvious member of the Lampblacks' gambling his money away in one of the city's fine establishments.

Surely enough, our gang was swiftly informed of this. Offended by the travesty of their further existence, we decided to eradicate them from the surface of the planet or, at the very least, from the city we're in.

Our plan was simplicity itself: walk in under the guise of gamblers, wait for our target to appear and follow him to the Lampblacks' current lair. Turns out they set up shop right next to their previous hideout... or whatever rubble remained thereof. We had to admit the idea was brilliant. Even the Bluecoats underestimated their sheer stupidity.

The following two days, we observed their operations while the Lurk snuck past their security and had a look around inside. It seemed they were trying to regain their foothold but morale was low. Other than locating their current treasury and having a look at their badly made propaganda posters, there wasn't much else to see.

Outside, however, we noticed an old lady in very expensive gard cordially walking inside. Our Lurk informed us that she had some private dealings with Bazo Bas but could not gather any more information on the subject.

Opting for a more direct approach to information gathering, we waited for a lone gang member going out to a gambling den again and spirited him away. It turned out that he knew me, claiming I killed him. I had to mention that didn't narrow down his identity so I chatted with him about his death's circumstances while the Whisper tried to gleam some information out of him. A moment later he informed us that this person was simply an empty husk being possessed by a spirit.

Putting a spirit into a body was no simple task and our new friend was highly reluctant to tell us who helping him into this body. A few threats and some supernatural compelling by our Whisper helped change his mind.

The old lady we saw earlier was Bazo Bas's cousin and a high-level necromancer for hire. Presumably, they had some sort of deal worked out between them where she was putting the spirits of deceased Lampblacks back into their bodies. After all this information was gained, the Whisper bottled up the ghost and we went on to planning an assassination.

We knew she would have leave the Lampblacks' base at some point and deal with some other contractual work but until that happened, we had to wait. Eventually, sometime close to dusk, she headed out to see her other clients. We followed in the shadows. The Whisper warned us that some sort of spirit was following us. It did try to fly off, probably to warn our quarry, but the Whisper forced it to stay put.

Her first client was someone living in a mansion. We knew we wouldn't have much time so we prepared a quick trap. As the old lady came out the mansion, through the gate and onto the street, our Lurk ran up to her in the guise of a random passer by. Being stationary, she was a much easier target for me so I shot her through the shoulder. She staggered back... and regained her balance. It was at that moment, when she completely ignored the pain of being shot, that we realised she too was a spirit possessing a dead body.

She reached for a vial hanging from her neck and shattered it on the pavement, releasing her guardian. Our Whisper mentally wrestled with the angry spirit, I kept shooting at it with ectoplasmic bullets and the Lurk beat and cut the lady-necromancer. When all was done, the Whiper, with great effort, captured the spirit and the Lurk delivered the final blow to our enemy's exposed neck.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Leader of the Pack



 
So what do you do with a pack of hungry kobolds ? This isn't a joke about light bulbs as far as I can tell but our boulder trap from last week has now resolved itself into kobold trap. To be fair we did see it coming, kobols are pack animals and aggressive and dextrous in force, their bravery being cumulative. This does however give them both the advantage of rally as well as the disadvantage of over dependence on following a particular individual or pack leader. We did sadly split up and tackled the kobold hoard from several sides which was a bad mistake really in retrospect as we should have gone for the command and control straight away and cut the head off the beast before it got out of control. As usual having sauntered along taking most of our encounters in our stride we are now starting to have our first near death experiences and we are turning to our small stock of magic coffee beans and whilst I find a mocha particularly invigorating in the morning its effects are somewhat underwhelming in survival situations.
 
So hopefully we have managed to converge on their captain in a not too late fashion and the next few dice rolls will be critical, or so I would hope.
 
It is far from clear though if there are any other strategies we could have adopted for pack warfare. Anything that would sow a seed of confusion from fire, smoke or noise I would imagine would have a more exaggerated effect as the individual would suddenly be aware of their own safety rather than simply following the mob. Initially we tried reasoning with them which was interesting as I am not sure if pressing the intellect of a kobold would ultimately confuse it or encourage it to quickly revert to stabbing things...perhaps a riddle or we were thinking of using shields with sort of Christmas cracker puzzles on them.
 
It has got me thinking as to the demarcation between a pack and a swarm and weather there is a significant difference in how both manifestations are approached. I think in a swarm as such there is in fact no pack leader, at lest not on the field. Or is a swarm just a very large pack? A distributed consciousness would indeed make for a formidable enemy and it may just be a a war of attrition to beat it down but then again without a leadership of some sort does a swarm exhibit any desires or intentions above simply instinct ? Either way a feeding instinct or global ambition, a swarm is at the very least going to sting a bit but resistance is not necessarily futile...
 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Plot-Twist Appears!

We return to our regular schedule after a two week break.
How did we survive two weeks without roleplaying is anyone's guess.

Apparently, Blades in the Dark went through some rule changes in our absence but I don't think we'll start using them just yet.

Our last job left us in possession of a significant amount of drugs and as such, our first order of business was to figure out what to do with them. Brainstorming away, we decided to not only add flour to it but to sell them as fishcakes! Of course, with hardly any cooking skills of our own, we had to turn to the recruitment of new staff in order to make use of the recent market demand caused by the previous supplier going down under... literally. We managed to find a nice old lady with an extensive CV which included such things as drug distribution and brothel management, and cooking! She was hired on the spot.

Second order of business was to set up a distribution centre. We had some problems coming up with good ideas until we realised that the nearby Church of the Forgotten Gods is in dire need of new management. It does help that the building was very nice. Our Slide went to work giving out free samples and making the local congregation realise the current management wasn't good enough for their worship and that under our management, things would change for the better! We would even introduce scantily clad waitresses to serve fishcakes during sermons!

With the congregation looking forward to the upcoming change of management, all that was left to do was to make the change. We attended an evening service and while the Slide took care of the congregation outside the church, Mercer took the main priest to the side and explained the situation to him. Sadly, he didn't agree with our views and as such, we had to turn to Plan B.

Oddly enough, a candle just happened to fall rather loudly to the ground, giving Mercer the appropriate opportunity to stab the priest in the gut... and that's when we realised he was, in fast, a demon... hiding his massive horns underneath a cloak.

In the ensuing fight we once again had an opportunity to make use of the flashback mechanic present in the system when GM Jack asked me if the bullet I shot at the demon was silver. Remembering that the Lurk had a spare downtime asset roll hanging about, I asked him if he might have procured one in the morning. Turns out that yes, he did, and he even lend it to me because he didn't own a gun himself and I was clearly interested in the ballistics of a different type of ammunition being used... but then the dice decided that no, silver doesn't actually work against demons!

Resorting to bladed weapons, it took us a while to hack the demon into pieces. It was a very stressful fight, stressful enough that I was the first to obtain a point of Trauma... a few more and my character will suffer a mental breakdown, bringing him out of the game, it seems.

On the upside, turns out demon pieces are worth a lot of coins so at the end of the evening, we managed to extend our crew's territory, created a source of income and earned a significant amount of coin and prestige.

Not many crews can boast murdering a demon...

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Preacher Heal Thyself

Last week brought and opportunity to join the Blades in the Dark conspiracy. Whilst I had heard much of the system second hand it was a delight to get hands on experience. By delight I mean the opportunity to cut throats, racketeer and generally fight murderously over turf. Interestingly enough the turf we had decided was ours this particular week was holy ground..
 
Now there is quite a lineage of issues in the horror vernacular when it comes to co-opting blessed or cursed real estate and the imagination does not fail here. Indian burial grounds come to mind immediately, old lunatic asylums often have quite the vibe, disused and long abandoned schools carry the haunting songs of unhappy children and faceless nurses endlessly shuffle the corridors of condemned hospital ruins.  Worst of them all though, the de sanctified church. If you want a good night out, go to a de sanctified church.
 
So, with a roll of the eyes, lo and behold, our last mission was to take over a church opposite our scrapyard to expand our grisly little empire. The system is well balanced in that you gain more Heat  the larger your organisation gets but of course more Coin potentially and prestige. Remarkably enough it was a fairly straightforward matter of undermining the resident priest and convincing his motley congregation that they needed a much higher quality worshipping experience that included fishcakes and wine.
 
 
Having made our play, one of us kept the congregation talking outside while the rest of us went inside for some quick de frocking. Oddly enough on this occasion the land itself kept out of it to my relief but of course the twist in the plot was always there. As we leapt upon what we thought of as a beleaguered preacher he didn't so much as turn out to be possessed but in fact a Demon in possession of human disguise. Several Stress points and Traumas later it had succumbed to a general battering but we had really underestimated the situation. Nevertheless we now have a church to soak for donations and a little more territory to squabble over.
 
What next then ? I'm thinking a nice tea shop to go with the church where we can funnel A class drugs through cutthroat old ladies.



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Boulders gate



Its beauty is its simplicity and its real danger lies in its inevitably. I would suggest that if we were actually playing D&D I would roll to save vs clichés. Like moths drawn to a flame, the sort of flame that is very heavy and will turn you into A4 when it rolls over you, we are currently facing the classic boulder trap.
 
Its somewhat complicated by the fact that we have spent an entire day climbing a cliff via a thoroughly non health and safety compliant trail and deftly sidestepping oncoming issues does mean a plummet of 200 feet into a small pool. So what are our options? Well this particular theme park ride is in fact staffed by kobolds so we have decided to try and negotiate our way past the security guards and talk to the management directly. I cant even remember what pretext we used, partly as it was late but partly because I don't understand kobold but it is not going to go well.
 
To be fair the boulder has the same problem we do to a degree as the path we are on does in fact have a couple of bends in it and as far as I know, large rocks don't steer particularly well and this option does appeal to my action hero character but we are in parle now I believe albeit briefly. Problem is that the little buggers have the high ground so the best we can do is keep them talking whilst we climb off the path, out of the boulder zone and onto the top of the cliff. Unfortunately no one has yet had a chance to count them as they are not wearing numbered uniforms so the odds are still being calculated. Still I am unsure as to whether triggering the trap and fighting uphill where numbers abreast are limited is a better outcome than fighting at full force against an unknown number of little assailants with our backs to a sheer drop. Any advice is welcome here.
 
It is worth mentioning that there is a waterfall coming out of the cliff which could in theory break a fall onto the pool below - depending on how deep it is. I guess we might find out...