Monday, November 28, 2011

Recruitment Drive / RPG group in Bolton, Manchester

My past few posts have alluded to the reestablishment of my gaming group, and our first couple of sessions.

We've got two GMs and six players at the moment, which is ok, but both games could do with another one or two players, to keep quorum up if somebody can't make it.

I've been doing Google searches myself to see if there are any other gaming groups in the area, or any loose players, and it occurred to me that this blog will show up on search results as well.

So, please excuse me for this small indulgence:

If you live in the Bolton, Bury, Chorley, Wigan Salford or North Manchester (England) area, and are interested in playing RPG games on a Tuesday night, then leave a comment below, I can probably hook you up.

We have a back room in a Real Ale pub that can easily hold up to five separate games, and are currently running two: Star Wars Saga Edition and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Ed.

In the past we've played: Dungeons & Dragons 4e, World of Darkness, Hunter: the Vigil and Trail of Cthulhu.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mythos Generations / Purist Trail of Cthulhu campaign setting

Some thoughts collided earlier today.

Thought One: I read a review of Pendragon, the Arthurian RPG game, some time ago. The review mentioned that the classic storyline covered decades in its scope, and that it was common for players to play the descendants of their original characters.
This struck me as a cool idea. I thought it was a way to encourage players to invest in the peripheral aspects of their characters - establish a family and have children, or lose access to the cool stuff you've learnt/acquired so far.
I wondered why more games didn't do this.

Thought Two: A friend (hi Andy) forwarded me a rumour about Nintendo renewing the Eternal Darkness name for the Wii U/Project Cafe project.
Eternal Darkness was a Cthulhuesque investigative horror that focuses on one family's exposure to and struggle against the plots of an Outer God over the course of several generations.
It is an amazing game, with some genuinely scary moments, well thought out puzzles and magic system, and an... Interesting... Method of displaying your current Sanity level.
The game is told from the perspective of the modern day, as you investigate the mysterious death of your Uncle, and learn about your family's occult history.
As each new chapter is revealed, you play out the actions of one of your ancestors.
Each chapter provides another piece of the puzzle, leading toward the final confrontation in the modern day.

Collision: This would (clearly) make an excellent Trail of Cthulhu campaign setting.
All of the characters would have the In The Blood Drive, with the possibility of the Revenge Drive as well.
The first story would be set in, say, 1890 and introduce the players to a major Mythos threat that awakens from its slumber every 23 years, when the star are right, and the cultists that try to usher it into our world.
This would mean the threat would trouble the world in 1890, 1913, 1936, 1959 and 1982.
These dates can be fudged. The important thing is that they allow sufficient time between installments for characters to have children, or for their existing children to mature and have children of their own.

Trail... Purist campaigns are renowned for disposing of its investigators in short order, through death, sanity loss or Mythos shock, so it makes sense to me to have a replacement character lined up, one with access to their unfortunate relatives notes, possessions and demented ravings.

As the story continues, and characters are killed and retired, younger family members step into the breach to fulfil their ancestral destiny and prevent the dread horrors from the furthest stars from walking our earth once more.

Star Wars Resurrection / Do you do miniatures?

On Tuesday I run my first Star Wars Saga Edition game. I've only owned it for four years.
I remember reading it in my newborn sons nursery as I rocked him to sleep.
He's four now.

My new gaming group selected it over Aberrant, which I intend to run at some point in the near future, and generated their characters last week.
They're all starting at Level 1, and it's set during the Clone Wars.
I've got a:
Human Jedi
Zabrac Scoundrel and a
Human Soldier
If fairly happy with this.

It's also my first time playing with two of the players, Adam and Ni (Scoundrel and Jedi), which is good. It'll keep me on my toes.

Adam offered to bring along some of his minis, to which I replied I don't use miniatures, I narrate the action like a World of Darkness game.

This makes perfect sense to me, but I'm aware that this is not how d20 games are written, and people may take feats specifically to gain a tactical advantage in miniature based combat.
This worries me, slightly.

I ran D&D 4e two years ago, without miniatures. When I handed the GM duties over to another player, the first thing he did was bring in a battle grid and minis.

How integral to a d20 game do miniatures have to be?
This is an important question, as WotC dropped Star Wars, and the minis are going out of stock.
And my wife will not be happy if I order in several boxes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Epic Technology Fail / New Adventures in Investigative Gaming

It's been a godawful long time since my last post, and I am pretty much forcing myself to write this one.
My Gaming Enthusiasm batteries have been running pretty low of late, mostly due to Real Life crap, and this blog has suffered as a result.

Which is odd, as I've actually done considerably more in the way of gaming in the last couple of months than I have in the past 18 months.

Firstly, I've run Fear Itself over the internet, which represents two milestone firsts for me:
1) Running a Gumshoe game
2) Running a remote game

I am happy to report that once you get a grip of it, Gumshoe works well. I admit that I was pretty anxious and apprehensive about running an investigative game, to the point that I was sending the Author, Robin Laws, Twitter messages asking for advice.
I'm used to running World of Darkness games, having very rough notes (if at all) and relying on player reactions to direct the story - I.e. winging it.
Gumshoe games require you to plot out a solid mystery, with the discovery of clues being central to the story progression.
I was terrified that I wouldn't have the discipline to follow a set path, or the vision to plot one out in the first place.

Turns out it's pretty easy...

For the main story, I decided to use an idea I'd had knocking around for a good few years, and adapt it to a horror mystery.
I tried to stick to the tropes of slow burn ghost stories and 'classic' horror, like Amityville, Dark Water, Blair Witch et al.

I sketched out a small Scottish village by a Loch, added a sleeping evil in the water, a murder, a growing number of missing people, some animate and aggressive water corpses and threw in a couple if Red Herrings.
I kept in mind what was actually happening and how to stop it, and tried to reveal one key clue or fact per scene.
This, it seems, is key...

I found that as long as I kept to this basic framework, I could still improvise and adapt. Just keep in mind where you're actually going, and how long you want to take getting there.

After about 3 sessions, the game was hovering over the Big Reveal... The players had pursued the Red Herring, refocused back on the initial murder, confronted the (suspected) murderer with the belief that he was behind all the weirdness going on, and just found out that he had killed his wife, but that was it. He knew nothing more.
They were starting to get the bigger pieces to the puzzle, I had an event lined up that would point them towards a solution and more questions....

Then I dropped my laptop, breaking the Motherboard.
As we were playing over Skype, this was a bit of a blow. Not only did I lose my ability to run the game, I also lost my notes.

My wife got a little pink netbook, which she allowed me to use for the game, however it appears incapable of disabling the internal speakers and mic when external ones are attached, which led to impenetrable echo and feedback, so I've had to abandon it for the time being.

On the upswing, some guys from my old face to face group got in contact, looking to get the band back together.
Our first session is tomorrow night, and I've volunteered to run a one shot Trail of Cthulhu game.

I've opted to focus on stuffy Miskatonic academics hunting Cultists and horrors through the University library stacks, and have knocked up some pregenerated investigators for immediate use.

Which leads me to the second technology fail.

My wife's netbook does not have DVD/CD drive, so we can't install the hard copy of Office we own, and have been using Google Docs instead.

Google Docs is generally fine, but has a habit of randomly changing a documents formatting if you attempt to mix text, pictures and tables.
Which is very frustrating.

Then, when I printed off the pdf character sheets and rules cheat sheet from Pelgrane Press' site, the printer missed off the last 6 lines of text.

Seeing as it took me some 25 minutes to print off 10 sides of A4, I've decided to just live with it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Zombie seeding / Armageddon Beta Test

Thinking on it, I've decided that the most likely cause of a world wide zombie plague is as a precursor to an alien invasion.
Seed the atmosphere with zombie virus, await for dominant species to decimate itself (well, maybe more than an order of ten) and then ride in and enslave / kill / farm the survivors.
It's what I'd do...