Monday, August 27, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: New Runaways #5

According to Doc, the next two sessions will be the two-part season finale for our 'MHR: New Runaways' mini-campaign. Until then, here's Jenny's account of the events from the most recent session...

The Cast
Alex Murphy (played by Blair) – Formerly the school’s resident drug dealer, Murphy is now attempting to establish himself as team leader in the fight against the forces of evil. He has the ability to manipulate air.
Blaine Burton (played by Elliot) – Teenage single dad with the ability to manipulate inanimate objects; his sympathies are currently leaning towards the Brotherhood’s ideology, in light of recent events.
Chad Hudson (played by Heather) – Earth manipulating jerkass jock.
Jenny Darkholme (played by me) – Orphan with a strong sense of responsibility and potentially destined to be one of the guardians of the multiverse. She has the ability to teleport, and to manipulate energy. One of the main antagonists so far appears to be an older, evil version of her.
TE Lawrence (played by Anna) – An undercover android created by SHIELD and sent to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus. As of episode two, his memory banks have been erased except for his cover identity and a single directive: ‘Save as many as you can.’
Disclaimer: The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.

After the shitstorm at the Sanctum Sanctorum, we were on our way back to the Xavier Mansion to pick up Blaine's pet animatronic T-Rex, Elpheba...oh, didn't I mention? Yeah, when Blaine found out about Ruth's abduction earlier, he kinda brought the animatronic T-Rex in the Toys R Us store at Times Square to life and went on a rampage through the city before meeting up with us at the mansion. We left it there because...well, it's a freaking T-Rex and we're fugitives. Not exactly the most low-key mode of transport, yo.

But like I was saying, we were on our way to pick up Elpheba with more of those green guys on our tail (according to Lawrence they're called Skrulls, though I'm not sure how he knew that), and we trashed our car trying to outrun them. Since our getaway wasn't working out so smooth, I decided to try teleporting us directly to the Xavier Mansion instead, seems the universe had other plans. Instead of arriving on the grounds of the Xavier Mansion, we appeared in the sky over the Baxter Building. Luckily for us, Susan Storm of the Fantastic Four was up on the roof, and managed to control our fall with her forcefields, while also beating back a couple'a Skrulls, all while looking pretty beat up. Is that seriously badass or what?

Turns out the bad guys were after Susan's kids, just like they'd gone after Beth, so we all headed down into the building to save the kids. We saw pieces'a rock lying around on the way, which seem to have been shed by the Thing. Susan outfitted Chad with a 'Thing Suit' after seeing his earth manipulation powers, and then we made our way to where the kids were being kept. Along the way, we passed through a dimensional door, and I got another flash of that white space with all the other versions of me in it. Someone threw She-Hulk into me, but I managed to separate myself from her before she went crashing through one of the walls by teleporting out. Good thing I did...that would have really hurt. I also fought off a Skrull who called me 'Master'. I can only assume he’d mistook me for 'evil older me'. Didn't much like that, so I ran the Skrull through with my sword and fried the sucker by channelling energy through it....what? He made me angry.

When I'd taken the Skrull down, more of the silver slug things I'd seen before started bleeding out of him. Which is when Lawrence showed up, tried to push me aside to get to the Skrull's body, but I moved out of the way. Lucky thing too, he took out a chunk of the wall while trying to swipe me outta the way; could have been my darned head. I noticed one of those slug things moving between his eyes, and before I could stop him he knelt down and started...absorbing these slugs into himself, calling them 'chums' (but then, he calls everyone and everything 'chum', so that's no big surprise or anything) and then started twitching and jerking in a sorta mechanical way.

Susan put Lawrence in some kind of stasis field, and then we all went into the main lab. She left him on a bed and went into the next room to go check on the kids. Except when she did, we heard the telltale sound of my teleportation power and then she was talking to somebody. No prizes for guessing who. We tried to get into the room, but Chad being the big idiot he is just stood there all slack-jawed, blocking the door, and I wasn't confident about teleporting with all the dimensional safeguards they had in the building. By the time we got into the room, Susan was unconscious, and her daughter Valeria was kneeling over her. Then she saw me, and demanded to know what 'I' had done to her mother and 'where was Franklin'? I tried telling her it wasn't me, but she wasn't listening. She took over control of Chad's Thing Suit - lucky for him he'd stepped out of it by this point - and zapped me with an electricity blast from the gadget she had on her arm while the Thing Suit got busy beating me down.

Luckily, she figured out I wasn't the same woman as the one who attacked her mom and took Franklin, and called off the Thing Suit. Between this and my collision with She-Hulk's earlier, I was feeling a little boneless by now. I got on a scanner bed thingy and Valeria stuck me with some dimensional needles which gave me another flash of that white room. Don't know what was in them, but they fixed me up pretty good.

Valeria's a bit of a whizz-kid, it turns out. She worked out that her mother had been injected with the same 'cure' that had robbed the X-Men of their powers - so it doesn't just work on mutants, apparently - and identified it as being a much more advanced version of some sort of nanotechnology that her father had been working on. She operated the computers to find out what happened to the rest of the Fantastic Four. Ben Grimm appeared to have reverted to his human form, and Reed Richards had been tied up around one of their vehicles in the hanger bay. Me and Murph went to untangle Richards, while Chad was sent to recover Grimm and She-Hulk, leaving Blaine to watch Beth and Valeria.

With Richards to assist - and Susan conscious again - we discovered more about the nanothings. The metal slugs that infested Lawrence seemed to be of similar design. Also, Richards ruled out the possibility of simply knocking out the nanothings with EMP or something; apparently they're programmed to attack the host if anyone tries something like that. Richards also said he was fairly sure that there was no 'time travel' involved here, so maybe Blaine will shut up about how I'm going to turn evil now. I also gave Richards the black box from the X-Men's jet - he called it the Blackbird - so that he could work out what happened to them, and Chad gave them a sample of the cure he'd picked up somewhere. 

We started forming a plan. Richards and Valeria figured they could put together some kind of doohickey to prevent Evil Me from being able to teleport, and then we could give her a dose of her own medicine to put her out of business. The sample Chad provided was incomplete though, so they'd need to work on it a bit to get it up to spec.

Of course, then we came under attack from a bunch of Iron Man suits. I headed up top to blast them from the roof, Blaine managed to commandeer one of the suits and got some tech support from some computerised voice and Tony Stark himself, as well as aerial support from a toy dragon he'd summoned and Elpheba, who he'd somehow managed to get rigged up with a freaking jet-pack! Meanwhile Murph gave Chad and She-Hulk a boost to help them get in the fight. Back in the lab, Valeria and Richards worked on the...the...anti-teleport doohickey - I forget the technical name - and tried to synthesize a version of the 'cure'. Some point during the fight, we lost contact with Stark. Not sure exactly what happened, but it sounded like my other self got to him.

We defeated the Iron Man suits and returned to the lab, where Richards and Valeria were just about finished. While working on the cure and the anti-teleport device, they'd also somehow found time to analyse the black box from the X-Men's Blackbird. All we saw was Beast and Cyclops talking, then we heard someone - Jean Grey apparently - screaming and the picture cut out. Richards seemed to think this had something to do with a thing called the 'Phoenix Force'. He wasn't real clear on what this thing was, except that it was inside of Jean Grey, and the last time it was destroyed entire planets. Richards also had a programme running which constantly assessed threat levels of different things in the universe, and right then 'Franklin's Power Set' was at the top of the list. According to Richards, Franklin had enough power to create whole new realities, powers which he had kept secret from his son.

It wasn’t real clear yet what Evil Me's ultimate plan was: implant the Phoenix into herself, or into Franklin? According to Richards, with the power that Evil Me has it would be bad enough if she took it into herself, but if she put it in Franklin...whatever the case, Richards seemed pretty sure she meant to destroy the universe.

He asked me where I would go if I were planning on doing that, but before I could answer I heard my own - psychotically grinning - voice coming from behind me: 'Oh, well, I wouldn't beat around the bush...'

To be continued...

New Runaways #6a will be online next Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

[Character Sheet] Technoir RPG: Hong Kong - Mei 'Lightfoot' Li

I've just joined a one-shot of Technoir over on the RPGnet PbP board and play is expected to commence on Monday, as the GM (kagechikara) and myself both have stuff going on over the weekend.

In the meantime, as I'm pretty excited about the upcoming game, I thought I'd post the character I've written up for it. So far, there's only one other player (Chronicler), but we're hoping more people will show an interest over the weekend. Even if we don't get anyone else though, I think we'll probably do okay with just two.

Mei 'Zephyr/Lightfoot' Li
(Anne Suzuki used as likeness)

A Chinese-Japanese orphan who used to run with the Outstanding Five until she got caught stealing from the 28K. The Triads recognised her talent after she led them a merry chase and decided to recruit her. However, to teach her a lesson, they broke her legs and then paid for cybernetic replacements, telling her that her 'light feet' belonged to them now.

Recently, she's befriended idealistic journalist Billie Ng, whose optimism she finds endearing. Billie's trying to find her a way out of the 28K, and she's more than willing to take it if he does.

Criminal (Hack, Prowl, Shoot)
Courier (Fight, Move, Prowl)
Courier (Fight, Move, Prowl)

Coax • Detect • Fight •••
Hack •• Move ••• Operate •
Prowl •••• Shoot •• Treat •

[+] Determined
[+] Agile
[+] Intuitive

Airmask (Face Mask, Toxin Filter)
Stinger (Small, Silencer)
Stealth Jumpsuit (Thermal Dampeners, Ballistic Armor, Impact Armor)
Goggles (Display, Gesture Input, Infrared, Linked, Mic, Sound)
Springheels (Implant, Nerve-linked, Matched pair, Spring-loaded, Strong, Tough)

Money: 2 Kreds

Bluetooth Koi - Fence (armor, weapons), Shark [Debt: 10 Kreds]
Tang Lam - Fence (cyberware, organs), Splice
Billie Ng - Date, Ride

Relationship Adjectives:
Bluetooth Koi - Respectful
Tang Lam - Dependent
Billie Ng - Affectionate
Max a.k.a. Cutter (Chronicler's PC) - Sympathetic

Used Shark favor from Bluetooth Koi.
Used Splice favor from Tang Lam.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: New Runaways #1-4

For a while now, I've been part of an ongoing X-Men RPG at GUGS. The main campaign is on hiatus over the summer holidays, but Doc (our GM) decided to run a side campaign those of us who were still around. As well as letting us continue to enjoy playing as superheroes, it would allow us to test out the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying system from Margaret Weis Productions, before we switched to it for the main campaign. 

What follows is an in-character account of the first four sessions of play, as experienced by my character, Jenny Darkholme. Before we start, I should mention that Jenny is based off of the open source character known as Jenny Everywhere and, as such, I should probably post the following disclaimer:
The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.
With that out of the way, I'll introduce you to the characters, and then leave the rest to Jenny. :)

The Cast
Alex Murphy (played by Blair) – Formerly the school’s resident drug dealer, Murphy is now attempting to establish himself as team leader in the fight against the forces of evil. He has the ability to manipulate air.
Blaine Burton (played by Elliot) – Teenage single dad with the ability to manipulate inanimate objects; his sympathies are currently leaning towards the Brotherhood’s ideology, in light of recent events.
Chad Hudson (played by Heather) – Earth manipulating jerkass jock.
Jenny Darkholme (played by me) – Orphan with a strong sense of responsibility and potentially destined to be one of the guardians of the multiverse. She has the ability to teleport, and to manipulate energy.
TE Lawrence (played by Anna) – An undercover android created by SHIELD and sent to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus. 
Note: As of episode two, Lawrence's memory banks have been erased except for his cover identity and a single directive: ‘Save as many as you can.’

Things had been going well. I was getting on great with my foster mother, even got used to calling her mom. I'd settled in okay at school, and my grades weren't half bad. Wasn't much, but it was better than what had come before. It couldn't last though.

It was the first day back at school after summer vacation, and shaping up as you'd expect. School bullies picking on the new kid and me stepping in to help and getting a trip to the principal's office for my troubles, because I just can't help sticking my nose in. What made things different this year though, was that there was a TV crew on campus, and during assembly me and five others were called up to the stage to be the 'lucky' new stars of the latest dumbass reality show. 'Way things worked out though, I almost wish that had been what we were really getting into.

Suppose some introductions are in order before we get started, huh?

I'm Jenny Darkholme, a senior at Midtown High School in, duh, Midtown Manhattan. I grew up at the Marcum Youth Institute, and stayed there for a lot longer than most, until Mrs Darkholme took me in a few years ago. Oh yeah, and I'm a mutant. It's sorta cool, except for the whole 'everybody hates you' deal. I found out I could shoot energy blasts when I was about thirteen and I'd kept quiet about it, practicing in secret...'til my first day as a senior.

My fellow 'star students' included: Alex Murphy, a nice enough guy, as long as you ignore him being the campus drug dealer; Blaine Burton, a single dad, and that's a long complicated story we won't get into right now; Chad Hudson, your typical Jock McDouche; Darren, who’s pretty bright for a jock and also much less of a jerk than you'd expect; and then there's T.E. Lawrence, a British exchange student with some seriously underdeveloped social skills.

So there we were, up on stage in front of this camera crew. Except it turns out they're not really a camera crew but a bunch of anti-mutant terrorists calling themselves the Purifiers, who somehow worked out that the six of us were mutants, and had marked us for a very public execution.

In the dust up that followed, a couple of us discovered some new powers. I learnt that I could teleport, and Chad learned that he was some kind of earth manipulator. He wasn't happy to find out that he's a 'freak' just like the rest of us. Well, serves him right.

What happened next is a long story, but I'll try to give you the short version. Basically, we're now fugitives from the law. The attack on the school was put down to a 'gang war' between the Purifiers and the X-Men, whose leader, Cyclops, showed up and saved our bacon.

In the aftermath, I discovered my foster mother is actually a shapeshifter called Mystique. Cyclops says she was probably just grooming me for recruitment into some 'mutant supremacist' terror organisation called the Brotherhood, but she claims she really does care about me. I'm not sure what to believe anymore, all I know is that I trusted her and she's been lying to me all this time.

We had to put all our differences aside though, because Blaine's daughter, Beth, had been kidnapped by the Purifiers and taken to the Raft, where the rest of the X-Men and the Brotherhood were being held. I don't think the rest of the Raft personnel knew about the secret lab in their lower levels, or about the experiments they were performing down there in an attempt to 'cure the mutant disease'. What I do know is, that the cure actually works, and the results ain't pretty. Just ask the X-Men and the Brotherhood, who we found had been stripped of their powers, and some of them were in a bad way because of it. That wasn't nearly as horrifying, though, as running into an older version of myself who broke open the Raft with some scary reality-bending powers - setting a whole bunch of supervillains loose on the city. Then she showed up again after we'd all barely got out alive, and injected Cyclops with the 'cure' before disappearing into thin air again.

After that, the Brotherhood went off by themselves, but Mystique stayed behind with us, and we met Doctor Strange, self-proclaimed 'Sorceror Supreme' - sounds to me like someone's on an ego-trip. Anyway, Strange asked us to 'step inside his cloak' to be transported to his Sanctum Sanctorum, where we could hide out safely. I had doubts, but I went along with it.

Something weird happened along the way though. Instead of going straight to the Sanctum...I'm just gonna call it the Sanctum because it's easier. Anyway, I found myself in this blank, misty space, filled from one end to the other - as far as my eyes could see - by different versions of me of varying age and build, and some guys as well, all dressed up like some kind of pulp ace pilot or something. They said that I wasn't supposed to be there, that it was 'too soon', but that if I could find my way back there, they would answer my questions about who they were, and who my evil older self was.

When I returned to the Sanctum, Doctor Strange seemed to have some idea about what was going on, but he wouldn't be able to answer my questions for an hour, as he had to tend to the X-Men's injuries and other matters. So the six of us passed our time in the Sanctum learning a valuable lesson: don't touch Doctor Strange's stuff, because it's, well...strange. There was this chair that kept following Chad around, a TV with a creepy clown on every channel (I think I might have set It loose, whatever It is), some weird book that only Blaine could read (it freaking burned me), and Chad kept 'upsetting' the Sanctum by swearing.

Anyway, once all that 'hilarity' was over with, Doctor Strange took me aside and told me that there is more than one of everything, and that each universe has a guardian who 'must protect the balance between the universes adjacent to theirs, and the universes adjacent to those'...and so on and so forth. It's always the same girl in each universe, but they're all different in their own ways. Big responsibility, and apparently I'm one of these 'chosen' guardians. Yay me. Story of my life, I'm always keeping the balance somehow.

We were just getting ready to leave. introduced me to her other foster daughter, Anna Marie AKA Rogue. She seemed nice enough, and we chatted briefly before she and Mystique left for Scotland with the X-Men in their jet, hoping to find a way of reversing the 'cure'. Mom left me a communicator in case I wanted to contact her.

But before we could make our way to the safe house that we'd been told to go to, the Avengers showed up. Except, they weren't really the Avengers, and they had a bunch of supervillains with them. I don't know what they were, but their faces were green and they weren't human. Doctor Strange held them off while we made a retreat through the back door, and as we were making tracks we heard news that a plane had crashed not far from where we were; it was the X-Men's jet.

I teleported to the scene, and checked the wreckage. There was no sign of survivors, or any casualties for that matter. I did find the black box though, thinking if I could just figure out a way to access it, I might be able to find out what happened. All I could tell from the wreckage was that it looked like someone set a bomb off from inside the jet.

I got back to the others, and they'd found us some wheels. Blaine made a huge speech about how we need to take the fight to 'them'. I kinda agree, but I'm not exactly sure that 'they' are who we think they are. Those guards at the Raft bled silver slugs, and those phony Avengers definitely weren't human. What the heck is going on here?

To be continued...

New Runaways #5 will be online next Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Los Angeles 1936: A Super Smash Bros Noir Fiasco

Yesterday, Doc, Blair and myself got together for a game of Fiasco before heading out to see Brave at the cinema. After I'd laid out six playsets to choose from, we eventually decided upon the Los Angeles 1936 playset. I explained the play structure of the game, and then we got started on the setup.

The Setup
Somehow, during the setup, we wound up going with a 'Super Smash Bros' theme, and ended up with the following arrangement:

Mario Forensca (Blair) - Part owner of the  L'Kingdoma Fungi bar and restaurant, and associate of the Kikong family a Hawaiian crime syndicate.
Luigi Forensca (Doc) - Mario's brother, and co-owner of the L'Kingdoma Fungi. Is being blackmailed by Detective Bowser, who has evidence of his involvement in some shady dealings. Through the nosy porter, Luigi has found out about a safe deposit box held by the Kirby family, and knows how to get it.
Detective Bowser Cooper (Me) - Bowser is as dirty a cop as they come, he's tiring of the cop life, and wants to get rich and make a new life for himself elsewhere. He aims to do this by bullying Luigi into helping him get his hands on the key to the Kirby family's safe deposit box.

Act One
Act one starts off with an argument between Bowser and Luigi. Luigi doesn't want to go through with the deed, but after Bowser assures him he can keep the heat off of him on the cops' side, Luigi gives in to his demands. Unfortunately, all of this has been overheard by the nosy porter, Shigeru Miyamoto, who goes to Mario and tells him about his brother's talk with Detective Bowser. Mario asks Miyamoto to set up a meeting with Don Kikong to see what they should do about this 'rat problem'. Meanwhile, Luigi is still undecided about whether to do what Bowser wants or not, but a run-in with a health inspector who is unsatisfied with the standards at the  L'Kingdoma Fungi, Luigi decides the money from the Kirbys safe deposit box might help get the inspector off their backs.

Detective Bowser finds himself under extra pressure, as Detectives 'Birdo' and Bob Omm get on his case, making thinly veiled accusations about his shady dealings, making him more desperate to get the cash and get the hell out of dodge than ever.
Meanwhile, Mario meets up with Don Kikong Jr, Diddy, to discuss the rat problem. Don Junior tells Mario not to worry, he'll see about getting the 'rat' (Bowser) exterminated. Don Junior calls up Luigi, tells him that he's been hearing troubling things about rats hanging around in the L'Kingdoma Fungi. Luigi doesn't immediately understand the metaphor, so Don Jr spells it out for him: get rid of that detective, or it's curtains for you both.

The Tilt
When it came to the Tilt, Doc and I rolled the highest, so we each picked a category based on the dice rolled in the centre of the table. I picked Paranoia, and Doc picked Innocence. We then defined each other's categories as suggested in the book, and wound up with the following Tilt elements: Collateral Damage and A Sudden Reversal (of status, of fortune, of sympathy).

Act Two
To shake things up a bit, we switched the direction of play for Act Two, and started with Luigi once again. Luigi decided to confront his brother about talking to the Don Jr behind his back, only for Mario to turn it around and give Luigi hell for having anything to do with Bowser, and Luigi lets slip that he was due to meet the detective in the kitchen tomorrow evening. Later on, Mario receives word from the Don Jr that he doesn't trust Luigi to handle the situation properly, so he's brought in a notorious hired gun from out of town, Samus Aran. Mario meets with Aran (who we decided to cast as Anna Torv) and tells her the situation, they decide that she will disguise herself as one of the kitchen staff and she'll take out Detective Bowser when he shows up tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, Detective Bowser meets with a snitch - Miyamoto once again - who reveals that Samus Aran has been hired by Don Kikong Jr to take him out. The detective is displeased by this, and assumes that Luigi has sold him out.

Later on Luigi is cornered by Detective Bowser, who expresses his displeasure at this new complication, and coerces Luigi into sticking to their agreement, and dealing with Aran. Luigi agrees, and says he'll lock Samus in the walk-in freezer in the kitchen and then they can meet as planned. Later on, Mario is in the kitchen, with Aran disguised as a member of kitchen staff. Luigi comes into the kitchen, meets Aran, and then asks to speak with his brother alone. He takes Mario by the arm, walks into the freezer with him, and closes the door behind them. He tells Mario that Bowser knows all about Aran, and that it's better for both of them if they hide out in the freezer until Bowser and Aran have duked it out with one another...assuming someone finds them afterwards, and they don't just freeze to death.

Bowser shows up, finding the kitchen deserted and, expecting to find Samus in the freezer, opens the freezer door and fires off a volley of bullets into the freezer. There's nobody there. He then feels the barrel of a gun pressed to the back of his neck. It's Samus. She reveals that after the two Forensca brothers got themselves stuck in here, she 'rescued' them, then tied them up and locked them in a room upstairs. Truth is, she's looking to retire, and is interested in the contents of Don Kirby's safe deposit box herself, she thinks the two of them can do business...if he'd like to come upstairs and help her interrogate the brothers. Bowser agrees.

The Aftermath
We decided to move on to the final stage of the game then, and rolled our dice to see how things would turn out for us. Surprisingly, only Doc got a bad result (Black 2: Brutal), while Blair (Black 13: Awesome) and me (White 10: Not too shabby) came out more or less unscathed. This is how we wrapped things up:

As soon as Bowser stepped inside the room where Luigi and Mario were being held, Samus brained him over the head. Turned out she wasn't all that interested in crossing the Kirbys after all, but since she liked Bowser, she was going to let him off with a warning. Stay out of the Kikong's business, keep his nose clean, go straight, even. Otherwise, he was a dead man.

After the mess he'd made of everything, Mario sent Luigi packing. Fearing that the Kikongs would make an example of him, Luigi fled in a boat, only to be caught in a storm, get thrown overboard, and lose his leg to a shark before being rescued by a fishing boat.

In a brief aside, Miyamoto is gunned down by Samus as she leaves the restaurant. The Kikong family apparently decided they'd had enough of his snitching.

Meanwhile, with Mario as sole owner of the restaurant, business started picking up significantly. Mario got the health inspector off his back, and even opened up a whole new chain of restaurants.

The game ends five years later, with Luigi returning to the Los Angeles branch of L'Kingdoma Fungi and asking for the manager, only to find that it's someone else. The new manager tells him: 'Luigi, your brother's in another restaurant!'

Closing Thoughts
I have to admit, there were a few minor issues with the game. We didn't perhaps keep the story as tight as we should have with only three players, and several plot elements were all but forgotten or weren't as important as they should have been. For instance, the Need between Bowser and Luigi was originally 'To Get Rich Through Murder' but that never really came up and so Bowser's goal got a bit fuzzy, I felt. I also had a bit of trouble reconciling my result on the aftermath table with how things were turning out for Bowser. (We'd already decided Samus was going to double cross him, having declared the final wild dice as a bad oucome.)

Most of the problems were because I had only played the game once or twice, and the others were playing it for the first time. With a little more experience, future games of Fiasco (and I intend to see about making this a monthly thing, if I can) should go much smoother. All in all though, we had lots of fun and got a lot of laughs milking the Smash Bros theme for all it was worth. It seems we've already decided on the next playset we're going to use: the Wuxia themed 'Quest For The Golden Panda'. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Reading Challenges

Hey all, long time no see. It's been a while since I last posted an update on here, and I've been pondering a bit about the pros and cons of reading challenges, so I figured I'd share my thoughts on here.

Reading challenges are a new thing for me, as I only started doing them this year. I blame this on two things: joining Goodreads and getting a Kindle for Christmas.

The point of reading challenges, as I understand it, is to add an extra element of fun to reading. But lately I've been wondering, do they really add more fun to it? Or do they actually suck the fun out of reading instead? I thought about it, and decided the answer really depends on what kind of challenge you're doing.

From what I've seen there are two types of reading challenge: there are 'speed reading' challenges, and themed challenges.

The themed challenges encourage you to read books according to a specific criteria. For example, the A-Z Reading Challenge I've been doing encourages you to read books with titles corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. Others might challenge you to read books which have been adapted to movies, collections of short stories, books translated from foreign languages, and so on.

These kinds of challenges might be fun to try out because they influence your reading choices, perhaps encouraging you to try something out that you'd never have considered reading otherwise. In my case, the A to Z Challenge even got me to check out books I'd been meaning to read for years, but just hadn't got round to it yet.

Speed reading challenges, like the Goodreads Reading Challenge which I've been participating in, encourage you to attempt to read a set amount of books within a certain amount of time.

The problem I've found with this kind of challenge is that if you take it too seriously, and if you try for a goal that's going to push you beyond your natural reading speed, you might find you're not enjoying the books you're reading as much as much as you ought to be. You're reading them faster than you're used to, so you're not absorbing them as much as you normally would. Also, you might find that the need to read a certain amount per day/week/month in order to make it to the finish line makes the act of reading stressful rather than enjoyable, which kind of defeats the point of reading in the first place, don't you think?

I challenged myself to read 75 books this year - I'd read Stephen King's comment in On Writing where he says he reads about 70 to 80 books a year, and made it a personal goal to match that - and I'm still on track to manage it. But as I've said, I feel that it's taken some of the fun away from reading for me, so I'm going to dial back to a more natural reading pace for myself and just enjoy reading, challenge be damned.

That said, it might be interesting next year to do the Goodreads Challenge again, set myself a lower goal, read at my normal pace, and see how many books I get through by the end of the year that way.

All in all, I think reading challenges can be fun, particularly the themed challenges, as they can help you add a little more randomness and variety to your reading choices. I'll definitely be signing up for a couple more of those myself next year, as well as doing the A to Z Challenge again. Even speed reading challenges can probably be fun as long as you don't get carried away and try to do too much like me. I guess I just have a masochistic competitive streak in me. Who knew?