Sunday, April 26, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] Finales, campaign management tips, and other stuff...

Swag
After hearing about it on Google+, I decided to buy Fiasco: American Disasters, to have a look at the Trainwreck Mode which allows players to expand Fiasco into campaign play. I figure a Fiasco campaign might be a good filler game to try out while I decide what to run at GUGS for the summer break.

I also ordered myself a Deck Of Fate. I'd been considering it for a while, but was finally persuaded to order after reading this post about some neat ways of using the deck in play. If I'm still undecided about my next campaign after trying out Trainwreck Mode for Fiasco, I'll definitely need to run at least a one-shot or two of something in Fate Core, if only to justify this buy to myself.

Achievements Unlocked
I listened to Departure by A.G. Riddle. It's okay. It's got some nice sci-fi concepts in it and some interesting themes, but...I don't know, it just didn't sing. It had more a 'TV movie' feel to it, if you know what I mean; entertaining but ultimately unfulfiling. Maybe it was because the male protagonist was a bit of a Marty Stu. Maybe it was the way the romance between him and the female lead felt like the same old tired action movie 'love at first crisis' cliche. Or maybe it was how exaggerated the male narrator's performance was at times. It's not one particular thing; it just never felt anything more than average to me.

Anyway, having finished that, I've now moved on to Crossroads Of Twilight (Book 10 of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan. At the time I'm writing this, I've only listened to the prologue and the first chapter or two, so it's still too early to make any comments about it yet.

I ran the finale of my Firefly RPG campaign on Tuesday and, despite the crew going with an entirely different plan than I had prepared for, it went very well. I'd forgotten that they had procured LRI security uniforms in the previous episode, and that they were planning to sneak into the facility rather than attempt a direct assault. With their stolen access code and uniforms, using the borrowed Firefly-class Bonnie Mae (it wouldn't be recognised by LRI, unlike the Shuìlián), they docked in LRI's secret hangar and descended into the underground base.
Once they had gotten inside, they headed for the security office and - after a tense battle with the guards - activated the base's internal defenses and turned them on the security forces, before opening the hangar to let their allies in the New Resistance inside the base. While the resistance fighters kept the security forces busy, the crew infiltrated the R&D wing of the facility. They had to bypass a lockdown of the wing, which had sealed the doors and released the flesh-eating mist upon the personnel inside, ensuring LRI's secrets died with them.

Filtering out the air and overriding the lockdown, they headed inside and found their nemesis Dr Hartman in a secure lab deeper inside which had been sealed off from the rest of the R&D wing to keep the mist out. There, they found Captain Loretto's wife along with several other test subjects, cybernetically altered nearly beyond recognition and her mind wiped in the process. Hartman tries to set these 'cyberzombies' on the crew, but luckily they planned ahead and brought some one-shot handheld EMPs jerry-rigged from laser pistols found in the wreckage of the LRI pursuit craft last episode. Using these, they manage to incapacitate the cyberzombies before they can do any harm.

Utterly broken by the discovery of his wife's true fate, Loretto gave his crew a 30 second warning to grab Hartman and get out of the room as he straps a block of explosives to his wife's chest and hugs her to him in a final embrace; Loretto, his wife, the other cyberzombies and the lab are burnt to a crisp in the blast.

The rest of the crew and their allies escape with Hartman as a self-destruct protocol destroys the rest of the facility. Hartman is turned over to the Alliance - after being beaten into a brain-damaged state so he's of no use to them - and the crew all go their seperate ways. Several months later, the Miranda wave goes live, showing that the Alliance's meddling attempts to create a 'better world' continues despite the crew's efforts to bring down LRI. Tammy, disgusted by the revelation, choses to rejoin the New Resistance in their fight against the Alliance. Winston returns to work with his old maintenance crew, and decides to move their operations after the Miranda wave to avoid the inevitable troubles that will result. Vanni becomes the new captain of the Shuìlián and operates as a ferry pilot between worlds out in border space. Jesse settles down on Albion and helps out at the New Hope Orphanage for a while, before later finding employment as a sheriff. The End.

On Wednesday night, I watched the last three episodes of Daredevil. Everything comes together superbly in the finale and the mirroring between Fisk and Murdock's character arcs pays off beautifully. I've really enjoyed Fisk's portrayal in this series because, even though he is a violent and ruthless criminal mastermind, he's still a somewhat sympathetic character. Also, like many of the best villains, he doesn't think what he's doing is entirely wrong and that the ends justify the means. Meanwhile, throughout the series, Murdock struggles to come to terms with his own double life as a lawyer by day and a masked vigilante by night. In the end though, we watch both Fisk and Murdock embrace their roles as villain and hero respectively.

I don't know exactly how long my break from GMing will last, but to prepare for the inevitable moment when I decide to run another campaign I've started reading Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management. I've just finished off the first part of the book, focused on getting a campaign started, and so far it's packed with some good advice and encouragement for GMs. I have to say, though, the 'campaign concept by consensus' idea is...well, I won't say it's unfamiliar. I've played and run games where the group decides on the setting and story concept together, but in those cases that was part of that specific game system which I or another GM pitched to the table.

Sure, pitching the campaign concept is one of the methods mentioned in the book, but the 'Exploration' method - finding out what everyone is looking for in a game and then building from there - is a bit different for me, since the format I've been used to has been mostly to pitch the game at Fresher's week and then see who signs up for it. After that, we generally go straight to character creation with our signed up players. Still, since I have no plans to run anything for GUGS next semester, my next campaign is more likely to be run over G+ Hangouts or Skype, so maybe I can try a different approach there.

With my Netflix binge of Daredevil finished, I moved on to binging the first ten episodes of Gurren Lagann on Thursday and Friday night. I'm enjoying it but, boy, is it a weird show! It starts off with lots of gonzo humour and crazy awesome action with the occasional serious moment, then it takes a shift in tone towards more drama broken up by the usual batshit insanity. So yeah, it's fun, but weird.
I also watched the Geek Out episode of Wil Wheaton's Tabletop. I'll be honest, while Geek Out does look like it'd be fun to play, I'd be be nervous about getting it and playing it with friends because I'm not sure how well I'd do playing it. I suspect I'd end up suffering a bit of a geek shaming. Besides, it's looking like it'd be as difficult to get in the UK as Unspeakable Words seems to be, and it's probably not worth the effort.

Works In Progress
Again, I seem to have expended all of my writing time on blog posts or on planning for the Firefly campaign. But, without an RPG to run, I'll have more free time to dedicate to both blogging and writing. Plus, I've sorted out my timetable, so I'll be able to use that to manage my free time better.

Now, if I can just sort out my sleep pattern, I'll be able to stick to the schedule I've set for working on stuff.

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