Tuesday, 28 January 2020

It is done

A task only marginally less arduous than delivering a ring to a volcano has now been fulfilled - we have our upcoming games, both scribing and subscribing has commenced. Thanks to one of the many Daves for levelling up last week and herding the roleplaying cats into ther respective litter trays.

There was the sense that there was some burnout with regard to all the recent SciFi being played so GM Elena has transitioned from Cyberpuk 2020 to D&D to scratch all the dungeon crawling itching at the moment. D&D is always popular of course and the game did get oversubscribed within about seven seconds but at the end of the day there are enough good souls  among us to spread themselves out accross all of the games so we can cover enough bases if people are away of an evening. The three winners are The Spire, D&D and Scum and Villainy. 

GM Alex is running S&V in a Star Wars context from which it draws its title of course but it's not specifically designed for that universe. Its interesting to what extent a game can remain generic and yet still fill the boots of subgenres that are full of lore. Star Wars, Star Trek and Stargate - just to take a few of the stars as examples - all have a deply rooted culture, are quite distinct and fans if not players will be looking for an authentic experience. This does necessitate the use of very specific equipment and interaction with iconic cultures - The Borg, The Empire and the Goa'Uld respectively for example. I guess whether you go for a more custom system or not depends on the work you are prepared to put in as a GM tho if you are a fan you could do a lot off the cuff provided you are consistent for those persistent geeky questions.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

More Roleplaying ?

As always when we rotate games there is the persistent issue of what players want to play and what GMs want to run. Now its a given that it's not possible to keep everyone happy all the time I have suggested that we have some sort of last man standing knife fight or perhaps a mud wrestling contest in bikinis. Whilst I am prepared to drop the bikinis, neither option seems to have taken traction but I do feel that people have become too spoilt with on demand TV and doorstep delivery services these days. When I was fighting in the Napoleonic wars our deliveries were done by cannon and we used stale loaves of bread as D6s.

Nevertheless it seems that some of our players have overdosed themselves on some of the recent sci-fi games and now fancy switching channel to a good old hack and slay. The games on offer however are Scum and Villany, Spire and Cyberpunk 2020 - not D&D. S+V is a game based around the Sci Fi opera and is designed to be run with archetypes and episodically along the lines of Beebop Cowboy and Firefly. It's based on the Blades in the Dark system which despite being wonderfully narrative has attraced criticism for it's mechanics and over specialisation, not that I found this an issue and I do like the ability to develop ones cirminal faction which I presume translates to developing ones ship in the sci fi realm. 

Cyberpuk is what is says on the tin, the tin in question being a cost effective and illeagal AI implant that glitches on its owner resulting in a backup intelligence occasionally taking over and wreaking havoc. It's the cookie cutter for futuristic noodle bars, off world colonies, and dodgy augmentations.

The Spire is not one I know but seems to revolve around a secret war between Elven castes - the High Elves living in the Spire and the Dark Elves tying to overthrown them. I do like the artwork as well as the take on the classes and it's an interesting perspective on Elves for sure but it does punk up a bit - I believe fantasy-punk is the correct phrase. I have managed to find an excellent review from Andrew Logan, another of our kin in the blogsphere.

So what do we do when the games dont quite fit the player base at any given time ? Well if the mud wrestling is out then there is only evolution by natural selection. Players do what players do but I wonder if we should go back to four games and encourage the GMs to post a couple of spare places on meetups ? It would beat driving around town and pickup people off the street like the Jesus Army. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Fellowship of Something

I was sad to miss GM Dave's one shot over Christmas, 'A glitch in the Christmas Matrix' but was lucky enough to catch GM Pietro's one shot last week based on the wonderfully narrative game of Fellowship by Jacob Rundolph. Initially I presumed it was a parady on the Lord Of the Rings and I may well be partly correct but on the playthrough it was readily apparent that the system could be played quite properly.

For my part I took on the Gandalf equvalent of "Harbinger" to 'remove evil from this world at all costs' and whilst the system never makes direct reference to Tolkien, all of the key narrative aspects of the characters have been distilled into specific abilities. So for example one of the harbinger traits is "Angelic Remenants" - Your people are what remains of the diving beings who created this world, and your extraordinary powers are what lingers of their gifts." This trait then allows the use of  "Speak Softly" (sort of telekenesis) with someone whos name is known. Basically its like the scene from the film when Galadriel speaks into the minds of the other characters.

Whilst there are other traits that diverge from the Tolkien context they are all faithfully narrated and offer very general abilities that can be tailored to any specific situation. Its hard to put a finiger on it but it works very well - its easy to pick up, narratively descriptive making it very immersive, flexible for experienced roleplayers and integrates roleplaying by design. I do believe it may be a work of art.

Anyways there are also additional modules and expansions still in waiting at the kickstarter:

Wednesday, 8 January 2020


The new year is supposed to start with some resolutions I gather. Whilst I have not been a huge fan of gym membership, being tidy and generally being polite (though it's not that I haven't tried)  it's just that I don't have the stats. Basically whomever rolled me up before I was born put the highest numbers into mouse clicking and science fiction. Dex and charisma was a long way down the list and I'm not sure I have ever faced a will check... except perhaps for someone's bad jokes.

However another advantage of our hobby is that we can always delegate off our existential crises to our in game characters to get that feeling of satifaction, pride and completion, so for the new year may I suggest a selection of resolves:

How about a new combat skill for January ? 4e Resolute Shield - As you slash into your foe, you pull your shield into a defensive position between the two of you, guaranteeing that it absorbs at least some of your enemey's attack.

Perhaps join the Hellriders in the Forgotten Realms.. The Creed Resolute was a set of oathes and maxims sworn by the Paladins of the Order of Elturgard and the Hellriders of Elturel and eventually all the citizens in the late 15th centuary

You could do worse that pick up the Resolute supershero game for $3  - somewhat modelled on the X Men universe its is a little incomplete regarding combat mechanics and indeed there is no formal character sheet, but its cheaper than a kebab.

Perhaps sharpen your dark side skills with the Star Wars Sage edition talent Weaken Resolve - you fill the target with terror, causing it to flee from you at top speed for 1 minute.

Or if, like me, you are not yet back on speaking terms with your large intestine after Christmas then you can just buy resolve in a box.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy Cyberpunk

Not sure if it was the future you were expecting but its here anyway and as the turkey and stuffing are finally recycled into nutrient cubes we can look forward to a fun packed year of  gaming and generally sarcastic social interaction.

Our new year is always slightly delayed as a club - whilst there is the natural instinct to fire off new games at the beginning of January, the Christmas period is always fairly volatile with respect to routine and GMs don't really have a good opportunity to round off their narratives. So we sort of aim for new games at the end of January and we already have several ideas on the table and we will ruminate over the next few weeks. 

In retrospect, last year has been a very respectable round up with D&D, Nameless land, Warhammer, Sentinels, Walking Dead Thing, Star Trek, 13th Age and Torg. We have travelled to many places so far but our journey is far from complete.