Monthly Archives: August 2015

#rpgaday2015 day 22 – perfect gaming environment

For my perfect gaming environment, I need to be comfortable. It doesn’t need to involve sofas, or cushioned seats at all (though they can help) – it just has to be an environment I’m comfortable in. I should feel comfortable enough to go and get a drink, or a snack, and ideally comfortable for the other people to do likewise. It doesn’t need to be a space that’s mine – neutral spaces or spaces belonging to other people are also good.

Most of my gaming is at Empire, or with the Isles of Darkness. The RAF Club where we hold IoD games is somewhere I’m comfortable – I’m on the Committee, I know the staff, and I have the run of the place. I very rarely feel uncomfortable because of the environment, no matter what’s going on. At Empire, there are over a thousand people on the field, and I know that no matter what else happens, I could duck into Mhorish and catch a friendly conversation with people in there and restore my calm or I can retreat to my tent for a bit and get away from people. These are environments that I am comfortable gaming in, and that means a lot for me.

Basically, perfection is an ideal you’ll never really reach, so I’d rather stick with what I know works – which is a friendly atmosphere where I feel comfortable.

#rpgaday2015 days 20-21 – favourite horror RPG & favourite RPG setting

I get myself back on schedule and immediately miss a day. I’m doing well at this. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure this fits both days 20 and 21, so maybe I’m not doing too badly.

Orpheus wins this pretty much hands down. I play and have played a lot of modern horror games – it tends to be my genre of choice. I have every core book in the nWoD catalogue, and several more that fit the genre besides, but Orpheus is still my favourite. Maybe because it was my first tabletop game.

In Orpheus, you’re playing in the Old World of Darkness setting but without any of the Old World of Darkness setting. I know that’s confusing, but bear with me. It’s a world where supernatural gribblies can come out of the night, tear you to pieces, and leave again with no one being the wiser and only your grisly corpse left to be found in the morning – that’s the World of Darkness. The thing about Orpheus is that they’ve proven ghosts exist, so anything else is just a ghostly manifestation – there aren’t werewolves, just jacked-up violent ghosts.

The game is a limited-run self-enclosed game set after the end of Wraith: the Oblivion. In the oWoD metaplot, a spirit-nuke got set off in the Underworld causing a spiritual maelstrom to arise cutting off the Underworld from the real world – this is what’s caused the vast increase in ghosts in the material world which has brought ghosts to the notice of the Orpheus Group and their scientists. In this way, it’s both part of the setting and completely separate from it.

You get to play either a Projector (someone living who can leave their body to enter Twilight as a ghost) or a Spirit (someone who’s already dead and still hanging around). There are two types of each with their relative advantages and disadvantages. The supernatural powers of the game are all restricted to the ghostly, so projectors can only use their powers if they’re not in their bodies. In that sense, it might make sense to only have dead characters, but the dead are limited in their own right (they’re dead for a start, which makes ID a problem if it’s checked) including the fact that their Vitality (power points) recharge slowly compared to the living projectors – it’s far more efficient to have the living skimmer recharge Vitality while in his body and pass it to the ghosts than it is to just have ghosts wait to accumulate more. It’s also costly for a ghost to manifest themselves fully in the material realm – while they can linger in Twilight indefinitely, interacting with the material costs Vitality.

Throughout the limited series, the game’s own metaplot arises and new types of ghosts and powers emerge as you uncover the hidden truths of the setting. It’s a game I love and I’d love to play/run more often (one of my perpetual side projects is considering updates to setting based on modern tech levels). Orpheus is the entire reason I backed the recent Wraith: the Oblivion 20th Anniversary Kickstarter – there was a stretch goal of updated Orpheus content that I really wanted.

Go look into Orpheus – you can get it on DriveThruRPG and the PoD softcover I’ve got is currently holding up better than my ancient hardcover is (damn those flimsy oWoD spines).

“You tell stories?” the man asks, the piquing of his interest almost palpable.

“Stories, tales, bardic chronicles,” Widget says. “Whatever you care to call them. The things were discussing earlier that are more complicated than they used to be. I take pieces of the past that I see and I combine them into narratives. It’s not that important, and this isn’t why I’m here-”

“It is important,” the man in the grey suit interrupts. “Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that.” He takes another sip of his wine. “There are many kinds of magic, after all.”

— The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. p.381 (hardback)

#rpgaday2015 day 19 – favourite supers RPG

This one’s quite simple: I don’t have one. I’ve never really played or looked at playing a supers RPG. I hear there are good systems, but I’ve never played any.

The closest I’ve come is an online game run by Gordon where we were playing various X-Men as a playtest for a system he was working on.

I’ve been thinking about this one, because it’s basically the one I have the least to say anything on, and what hit me as I was listening to Firefight (the second Reckoners book by Brandon Sanderson) was that I might not have played any, but there was one I wanted to play – a Reckoners RPG.

In the Reckoners universe, supers (known as Epics) are corrupted by their powers and go mad with their use. It’s an addiction cycle – having powers makes you want to use them, using them makes you corrupt, being corrupt means you have less hang-ups about using them. The Reckoners are a team of normal people dedicated to taking Epics down by discovering their weaknesses (something that prevents them using their powers) and killing them. That’s a universe I’d really like to play a game in.

Also of Brandon Sanderson note, and a form of supers, would be a Mistborn game. I’ve got a copy of the Mistborn RPG (haven’t read it), and I think that’d be an interesting game as well – but the idea of fighting Epics appeals more. I think it comes down to game preference in a way – I prefer playing modern games, but enjoy reading fantasy books as much as if not more than books with modern settings.

With this post, I’m now caught up with the #rpgaday posts and can see about keeping the schedule for the remaining twelve days.

#rpgaday2015 day 18 – favourite sci-fi RPG

Unlike fantasy RPGs, sci-fi RPGs are something I’ve done more of, and also something of a interesting point because of where you put the border of sci-fi.

Demon Hunters: A Comedy of Terrors or Conspiracy X could be classed as sci-fi because they uses advanced fictional technology, but I’d be hesitant to class them as such because they’re based in the modern era and I associate sci-fi with being out in space which isn’t anywhere near being a requirement for good science fiction.

In a more comfortable definition of sci-fi, I still have room for favourites. My first RPG (and still somewhat of a favourite) was Star Wars (West End Games) or at least was based on it. As part of the Imperial Order, I gathered a group of friends online all across the world and roleplayed with them on a nightly basis. Those rules were a little ridiculous, but that factor probably arose from no one going “what if someone put all of these factors together” or not thinking about difficulty scaling. For reference, I had around 13 d6 to roll for starfighter piloting in my TIE Defender, with a result of 20 being a “heroic” feat that could achieve just about anything – my average roll was in the 30s.

The Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games by Fantasy Flight Games are favourites as well. Between Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, and Black Crusade, I’ve had a lot of fun playing and running those games – you can do some ridiculous stuff when you get to max level Ascension…

I also love the look of the Serenity roleplaying game, though I would have to get a second copy to roleplay with as the copy that’s been signed by 7 of the main cast isn’t going anywhere near a gaming table full of snacks.

So there you have it – some of my favourite sci-fi games without even a brief jaunt into the world of LARP for a change.

#rpgaday2015 day 17 – favourite fantasy RPG

I don’t know that I can answer this one really. I’ve played fantasy systems, but I wouldn’t ever really say that fantasy was my go-to roleplaying genre. I’m more into modern or futuristic games in the main.

I’ve of course played D&D (3rd and 3.5) but didn’t really find it an enthralling setting (though I do get occasional urges to go monkey with the spell system again). I’ve played Heroquest, Earthdawn, HERO Fantasy, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st and 2nd). I’ve massively enjoyed some of those games, but I don’t know that I’d call any of them my favourite fantasy RPG.

Other games I have sitting on my shelf, or games I’m anticipating include Fireborn (the RPG of being dragons reborn as humans) and Karthun: Lands of Conflict which is based on the fantasy RPG campaign in D20 Monkey. Thing about Karthun is that it’s not actually an RPG, but a setting. It’s a complete rewrite of setting based around some of the ideas in D&D [1] with completely different takes on how things work – and the Kickstarter (which I backed) is also providing a GM’s book with guides on using the setting in various systems including FATE, 13th Age, Pathfinder, D&D 5th, Dungeon World, and Savage Worlds – I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the PDF to give it a look through.

To take a different tack, my current favourite fantasy RPG is Skyrim (yes, it’s a video game). I’ve not counted LARPs in this, where the majority of the LARPs I’ve played have been fantasy games and I am finding it difficult to decide which of Skyrim and Empire I enjoy most – it’s a tough call. Currently I think Skyrim wins because I don’t feel particularly extroverted at the moment and what I do at Empire requires a certain level of extroversion (which is a strange word).

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. this interpretation based on reading the webcomic

#rpgaday2015 day 15 – longest campaign played

This one is an interesting one. By tabletop standards, a year and a half, maybe two years? I don’t remember how long I was playing in Ben’s Witchcraft game at uni, or how long Rob’s Rogue Trader ran for before it bowed before the weight of running a Rogue Trader LARP.

By LARP standards, the Isles of Darkness wins out. I started playing late 2007, and the campaign ended at the beginning of this year. That gives me seven years of play. As a single character, I think I can only claim 6 years as that’s how long James/Henderson/Firestarter was in play (October 2008 – chronicle end).

This post, like some of the others, is out of order and not posted on its original day because I wasn’t in any state to write it on the original day and didn’t pre-plan it.

#rpgaday2015 day 16 – longest game session played

Here, I’m going to “cheat” because while it might mean tabletop, my longest game sessions are always going to be LARPs.

So, longest LARP event I’ve been to was a four-day event, timing in at 6pm on Friday with a final time out at 3pm on Monday. Bearing in mind that Senate never times out at Empire, that makes for a 69 hour time in, even if I did spend about 18 hours of that time sleeping.

In terms of longest single time in period, I was thinking that would go to Projekt Ragnarok or even the last No Rest for the Wicked event, but given I crewed Ragnarok and was STing No Rest, it seems unfair to count them as a session played. So I guess I’m left with the 17 hours timed in from the last Empire event (wake up 10am Saturday, hit bed 3am Sunday).

To pad this out a bit more, I can add in travel times. The longest it has taken me to get to an event is 24 hours (travel from Shetland to Aberdeen to Edinburgh to Derby) and longest trip back from an event is 36 hours (same journey but in reverse with an overnight stop in Edinburgh).

bad weekend

I’ve had a bad weekend following a shaky week, and I pretty much fell off the internet in broad terms. I had to force myself to go shopping on Sunday, and I was shaking afterwards. There’s a few things going into this, and Jeremy still being missing is one of them. The depression spiral that leads into is a little terrifying and I actually don’t even want to voice the steps out loud out of some kind of prophetic superstition.

Today is better. I’ve cycled into work (and back home again) these last two days, and the physical activity helps, I think. Felt terrible yesterday (probably due to malnutrition over the weekend) but my energy levels are much better today.

Frustrations at non-functioning code are at a high point and that adds stress to near-breaking point. If it actually gets to the point where I know I’m going to yell at someone if they interrupt me again, that’s probably the point where I’ll need to walk out of the office. So far, so good on that point.

#rpgaday2015 day 14 – favourite RPG accessory

Apparently today I am to talk about my favourite RPG accessory. Being the sort of person I am, I think I might say “dice”. They’re pretty, come in different styles, can be customised, and are collectible in their own way.

I have collected some other things over the years which are also useful though.

  • FATE Tokens. Haven’t had cause to use them yet, but they’re really pretty
  • Combat Description Cards. Really looking forward to using these – there are different decks depending on the type of damage you’re doing, and you get descriptor hints to help you describe your actions.
  • NPC Cards. NPC generation quickly.
  • Smartphone. Between apps to take notes, roll dice, keep characters on, and the general utility of being able to have 100 rulebooks in your pocket, it’s a really useful thing to have (assuming you can keep yourself from checking Facebook)