Friday, 29 May 2015

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

I hope everyone enjoyed the weather over the recent bank holiday weekend and half-term. Now that said weather had turned slightly grim, I would like to point you to a Kickstarter project.

Although, it's been years since I first saw The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, I still fondly remember enjoying the film. It's about a group of roleplayers starting a new game with a player new to gaming. The action switches between the group at the table and the group within the fantasy world, one reality influencing the other.

I will be extremely happy having this as a Blu-Ray on my shelf and in case any of you would like to add it to your collection, be sure to back it as it seems it will be out as a limited edition to Kickstarter backers.

Click on the widger to the right or on the link within this post.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Undead relatives

Always embarrassing at Christmas or Birthdays is that long dead old uncle in the corner. A sort of rotting elephant in the room, conversation can be circumspect and frivolous but when its time to pull a cracker with someone and put on the paper hats, certain things just can be ignored.

Its often the case with relatives and loved ones that it is very hard to 'let go' particularly when they are still sort of groaning but its a question of whether or not its always best to face facts. Honesty being the best policy, the most caring thing to do would perhaps be to nudge them in the right direction when all they are doing is shuffling around and gnawing on things. Of course where a prearranged agreement can be made then so much the better; zombie apocalypses tend to bring like minded people together particularly where buddies and bites are concerned but in circumstances where fates are less communal then one can bravely but hopelessly struggle on in a more of a carer's role when in fact its long past time for a friendly staking.
Denial is the key hear I find and the quicker one can accept situations then the better really but once again in the metaphysical worlds of roleplaying the lines can blur a bit. Systems can often define point blank when souls definitively leave the body and also beyond what point resurrection or reincarnation can or cannot occur but to be fair, from a characters perspective the 'rules of the system' are not necessarily experienced or known. Perhaps a zombie is not just for Christmas.
In our last game for example we had to deal with a father and sons who went off into dangerous territory in search of their fortunes and yet returned to their mother somewhat malnourished and with glowing eyes. To be fair in this case it was also self defence as they were about to feast on us but I'm not convinced we necessarily did the right thing as I am not sure actually what their options were.
Still, my character wont lose much sleep over it as he just deals with the world as is - a sort of action figure, but there is perhaps too much shoulder shrugging in the post modern world of undead healthcare management. We might still be at the cultural point of medieval medicine but perhaps in time we can look forward to a renaissance of zombie care and positive undead outcomes.
Remember, just because you are rotting does not mean you are bad person.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Blow Things Up and Walk Away

Our third session saw our return to taking a job for the Red Sashes to further complicate Lampblacks' operation.

This time we were asked to plant a device in the Lampblacks' Headquarters. A device that we learned would attract a great many angry/deranged spirits to cause general mayhem. We had a lovely chat with the Red Sashes' leader but after reaching the point where no more information would be gained, our group went on to scount the area and come up with a plan.

It was decided that the best course of action would be to go in from below since otherwise, the building was well guarded. Fortunately, our Lurk was intimately familiar with the lay of the underground tunnels. Although our group was lacking the heavy-hitter Mercer, the three of us managed to take out the one lonely guard and break into one of their Headquarter's storage areas.

The device was set up and we had about half an hour to get out... but we simply couldn't pass up on the chance to get our hands on all of the Lampblacks' valuables. After all, it would be a shame to see them disappear under a pile of rubble.

While I and the Lurk maneuvered ourselves from prying eyes, the Whisper gave in to his need to figure out what made this artifact tick... and so, just before we started breaking into the Lampblacks' main office, the Whisper's ghost-friend startled us, only to inform us that everything was going fine.

Unbeknowst to us, the Whisper's tampering accelerated the time on the device and the ghost was sent to warn us... unsuccessfully.

Suffice to say that what followed was a short scruffle with the Lampblacks' leader, as our attempts to sneak in and quietly assassinate him didn't work out... defenestration was involved.

Before the rest of his gang had a chance to join the fray, the building suffered a sudden and unexpected assault by angry spirits. Pieces of the roof began to collapse, the ground shook and we used the chaos to slip away the same way we entered.

We met up with the Whisper outside, atop a nearby structure with a beautiful view of the ensuing carnage. It was truly a wonderful sight to behold.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

What to do in a pinch

Recently in the 13Age we have found ourselves portalled out of Egypt as you do and into a neighbouring land called Punt. Not so bad as we do in fact have a Puntarian / Punter / Puntish ? trader within the party who has thankfully pointed us in the right direction out of the desert. And going in the right direction in a desert is an extremely important point. Nevertheless on the way to what we were assured was an oasis we had one of 'those' encounters (possibly random - we are not sure yet). I think in desert or rocky environments one should really keep a lookout under small rocks for snakes, spiders and the like as we did come across an issue with a giant scorpion along with a possey of half mummified and somewhat stop motion skeletons.

Now I have dutifully checked on the best advice on scorpion handling from The Scorpion Picture Guide which has recommendations on correct handling but I would hesitate to use the word useful here as it begins..
"Handling your scorpion is not recommended". It goes on "There is the possibility of being stung or grabbed by the scorpions pincers"..
How true.
With this in mind my character did decide to leap onto its back, with the half arsed idea of being too far under the tail for it to be effective. Despite never having had an archaeologist mounting it, I got the impression that actually scorpions have already survived millions of years by being quite adept at fending off both predators as well as dealing with prey. I can happily say I was briefly both on this occasion as with a nimble preening swipe I was precisely pincered for a following sting in the tail, and I don't mean a plot twist. Remarkably I passed my poison resistance to halt oncoming paralysis and unconsciousness but what would the correct course of action be here ?
I did look for inspiration in a couple of Ray Mears extreme survival videos but sadly they appear not to be extreme enough for our dilemma. Perhaps I will drop him a line..

Thursday, 14 May 2015

In and Out

Last week saw our band of thieves pull off a successful job, as such we went on to advance our characters. Interestingly enough Blades in the Dark does not use a standard experience system that most gamers are used to. Instead, each group of skills gains an advancement bar, which, when full, allows the player to gain a point in one of the relevant skills. These bars are gained by either using your skills during the game of spending downtime training them.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time for the final stage of the session: DOWNTIME... which we addressed at the start of this one.

Downtime represents time our characters go through between jobs. We relax, reducing our stress levels, and make progress on our personal projects. Although there are other options, like reducing our gang's Heat rating, we all went with personal projects. My character was busy creating a false persona to infiltrate the Bluecoats, which as I understand is a gang that acts as the local police force, while the Lurk worked on getting into their treasury. The Whisper decided to research the existence of angels, which involved casual pillow talk with a succubus. Mercer, the Cutter, started to look for an appropriate site for a temple (to the Forgotten Gods).

After the downtime, it was time for actual play. Which in our case means: breaking, entering and thieving. This time we weren't offered a job by one of the more well-renowned gangs in the area. Instead, our Whisper was approached by a contact with a favour. Mainly, to break into a competitors warehouse and disable some security measures thus giving him an economic advantage in the current marketplace... or some such... thieving was involved, other details seemed less important!

Our initial reconnaissance showed minimal security. A few guards patrolling the outside area in a predictable pattern and one inside an office. Fortunately, the Lurk managed to locate an appropriate entry point on the roof so it all seemed like an easy job.

We got in without too much of an issue (that hole was a bit tight though). The first obstacle we faced came in the form of three guards. Whilst we were setting up an ambush, me character and Mercer had an argument over the appropriate measures of murdering people, with my character explaining to Mercer he can't possibly perform a stealth kill.

Surely enough, after all was said and done, Mercer, alongside half the group, liked to remind my character that he killed two guards with a single swing of his axe while I was still struggling to stab one guard. My annoyance with the situation resulted in an inappropriate amount of dead body stabbing.

After this short scuffle, we nearly got caught unaware by an electroplasmic fence acting as a further security measure. The Whisper disabled it and we moved on to the safe.

The final obstacle was the aforementioned office guard. I had to suffer a constant string of comments directed at my murder skills. Naturally, I was annoyed enough that I needed to prove my worth. I took out a pistol, aimed through the window and, despite wounds suffered earlier, I shot the guard through the skull, the bullet ricocheted, revealing the safe, and went through the guard's heart... for good measure.

The Lur opened the safe, we took as much as we could carry and went off... all in all, a very simple job resulting in a boost to our income.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Pencil is Mightier than the Sword

Krzy has written recently on the peculiar dice stacking habits of Roleplayers. Whilst there has been the occasional article on the natural and supernatural properties of small, pretty, many faceted pieces of plastic its interesting to read the psychological, or should I say occasionally psychopathic, effects of dice management. Nevertheless my aim in this Pulitzer contender is to bring to light that most unconsidered but most essential tool of the trade, namely, the mighty pencil.
For as long as I can remember we have been inundated with the traditional yellow and black striped stalwart Staedler, that I am sure you will all recognise. To give its formal latin classification it is in point and fact a 'Noris Club 118'. Staedtler remains a shining example of what makes up the backbone of the German economic machine, namely a small company gaining global dominance specialising in a narrow range of products. As it happens, the oldest known pencil was retrieved as part of  a carpenters working tools in the 17th Centuary also in Germany so pencillation remains a Tutonic tradition. But for my part and I'd be interested in anyone else's experience, whenever I pull a random fist full of pencils out of my bag, it always seems to have one of these pencils in it.
I am now wondering if indeed there isn't something more ethereal at work; whether Staedlter have done a deal with the underworld, such that, on any given upending of a pencil container, a Staedlter will always manifest the random pictures below, including an accidental snap at work, I can see a hitherto subtle phenomena at work...

My keyboard at work...

GM Bill in his usual animated style and Crish momentarily flummoxed


Warren plotting his next move

What is going on here ? or do these entities just follow roleplayers around.?
Perhaps its time to turn over a new leaf and not be lead astray, to erase our misgivings and draw a line under protracted habits and come out of the shade, lay down a new rule, sharpen up and retract traditions. Honestly, I do birthdays and weddings if anyone is interested.
Its the future soon so perhaps we should be looking at a retractable line along the precision engineering fronts maybe..

Thursday, 7 May 2015

So... who are we betraying, exactly?

In an unexpected turn of events, last session saw our group of thieves in the middle of negotiations with the boss-leader of the Lampblacks.

Wait what? was our general reaction.

We were just offered a job of stealing the treasury of the Red Sashes, another gang vying for control over the area known as Crow's Foot. According to the scenario notes', those two gangs are in open warfare and we're in the middle.

Just when player voices started to be raising over how did any of us got into that situation, GM Jack did the unexpected by announcing a flashback scene where the leader of the Red Sashes offered us the job of stealing the Lampblacks' treasury.

Our band of thieves, going by the name of Junkyard Dawgs, now had to pick sides... and since we had better connections with the Red Sashes who follow a ruthless art collector with an obvious penchant for sharp and pointy things, it was more advantageous for us to go with the latter offer.

Our reasons established, we had to come up with a plan. We opted to split into two groups: one attempting to create a distraction and the other intent on breaking in unseen. A combination of roleplaying and dice rolling occured. The Lampblack's boss, Bazso Baz, started to suspect his old friend of some kind of treachery, Mercer (who came into the meeting prepared for war) was having arguments with the other gang members and our Whisper brought a ghost-in-a-bottle, all too happy to possess some unsuspecting individuals. All while our Hound (me!) and Lurk broke in, avoided a death trap, killed some guards and stole as much as we could carry... to the window, we had a getaway vehicle ready.

I got to insta-kill twice!
I love this game!
I expect to die next session ._.

As this is a yet unreleased Kickstarter game, allow me to say a few words about the system.

It is true what GM Jack said about the system. It alleviates the need to roll dice for the GM.
When approached by a situation that conflicts with a player's intentions, we're all too used to have the GM roll against a player's roll, not so much here. Instead, the GM creates a circular progress bar that is slowly being filled up in accordance to die results. The player rolls a number of dice equal to his stat... and then the GM offers another die for the meager price of defining what bad thing will happen in return. The dice are rolled, you take the highest result from among them and it defines how much progress has been made in the given task.

Does this mean that getting anything done is a simple matter of enough dice rolls?
Of course not!

The game has a system for Stress that works more-or-less like Hit Points...
but I'll get to that in the next post...

Rolling Dice

Just as we were sitting down to enjoy a fine evening of roleplaying, the subject of dice came up. Stories of raiding dice sets in order to acquire the necessary and appropriate amount of dice for that night's game ran rampant... before I had a chance to contribute to the conversatio, the game started...

So I decided I'll put my 2d6 up here instead!

This is how you play Exalted.
In our wonderful hobby of creating interactive stories, it is often customary for us to turn to the fickleness of the Dice Gods to resolve our disputes.

Although among the great variety of games that we were blessed with, there exist diceless games and games using cards in lieu of dice, it is hard to find a roleplayer without dice.

I suppose it's a combination of a wide variety of dice and sheer availability. Whenever I went to DragonMeet in London, I either bought some pretty dice or had dice thrown at me. I especially remember that day when I and my friends were about to leave only to be stopped by a woman asking us to take as many dice as we could carry... fortunately, I had a whole lot of pockets that day.

When I say variety, I don't simply mean a range of colours and sides. Nowadays we have themed dice, with special symbols etched into the sides. There are tiny dice that will fit inside a lighter and bigger ones... metal dice are especially dangerous. I think dice rings are an awesome idea and I am going to need one in my life. It would supplement my dice earrings nicely.

At the table, it was clear to me that we, as gamers, all have our own little quirks when it comes to dice. My main one is that I strongly believe that dice is a plural word and I shan't use it in as singular (it is the One True Way). Another is that I try to build up my dice bag to allow me to play a range of games without the need to look through my collection before each game. That's why I've got so many d10s (Exalted) and one of my d6s is of a different colour (In Nomine).

Exhibit A: Chaos
Exhibit B: Order
The brief discussion we had at the table made me realise that others treat their dice differently. Some even go to such lengths as to melt a die that rolled poorly in front of other dice, in order to prevent them doing the same. I even disagreed with Jules on the probability of dice rolling after I rolled a few for no reason whatsover and managed to get a couple 6's.

A simple bystander just needs to have a look around the table to see how different we are in our treatment of dice. I had mine in front of me in a chaotic mess, ready to be rolled, while some organised them in an orderly line with each side showing the same number. Others still will use them as protection against the wrath of the Dice Gods and their eternal need to see our characters fail despite many accumulated bonuses.

Exhibit C: Wall
I wish I had something witty to say at the end of this piece... but I don't...

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Blight and Shadow ~ Tales from Tuesdays

For those who do not know we have a Tuesday game of D&D5e running from GM Jo. Due to its eternal popularity D&D often forms the backbone of an RPG club and is never far from the table or home session. At the moment the Tuesday game 'Blight and Shadow' has a space in it for any adventurer keen to take up arms.
Latest Game report from the GM:
5e is going strong, two deaths narrowly avoided so far,

First the ranger decided to camp away from everyone else, and as a consequence got rudely awoken by green Dragon  wyrmlings emerging one by one from the earth. Deciding to fight the first one, he found it a tough proposition, and when the second one joined in, he went down and was about to be swarmed under until a dire wolf charged into the melee, seized him and hauled him along the ground then onto its back and ran. The dire wolf turned out to be a wandering druid in wild shape.
Second time, the party took a short cut into the Shadow Plane because they'd decided to rob the law after a bunch of pixies played havoc upon a passing patrol of Purple Dragons. They found themselves in the Shadow version of the Tomb of Chonus and avoided various deadly traps before accidentally dropping a rope bridge on a behir at the bottom of a ravine. Said beast starts climbing out of the ravine, the party warlock casts an illusion of himself running away into a dead end into which the party trapped it. If the beast hadn't failed its saving throw, it could have been a TPK.
They would have been perfectly fine if they'd listened to their guide, not looted the law, and not tried to get a donkey over the bridge...
In other realms our 13Age game has progressed in the sense that we have pursued a highly successful assassination plot upon the Pharaoh of Egypt back through a Babylonian ambassador to what appears to be a group of Demons. We are in the midst of kicking the shit out of them, and I am speaking literally here as they more than resemble  the excramental Golgotha from Dogma. Whatever the reward we are after it better be worth it...