Wednesday, May 20, 2015

[Actual Play] Inspectres: The Wight House

Nathanial Jones: CEO of The Wight House. Former janitor, his father was a cop. Some managerial experience. Did some study into the supernatural and decided to set up his own InSpectres franchise.

Zack Spenkman: CFO of The Wight House. A college athlete whose contribution to the company's start-up funds came from less than reputable sources. He now owes debts to the wrong people as a result.

Luke Fitch: CTO of The Wight House. A former computer engineer looking for a more exciting line of work.

The Case of the Bloody Dryer
The Wight House is based out of a rented office space in Washington DC. Nathaniel made sure to find them an office in a sturdy building, since they might have to contain some supernatural creatures there at some point. They've just got started and at the moment it's just them and Sally, their secretary. They don't have any fancy gear yet since they're low on funds, so they have to make do with basic magical rituals.

At the start of the session, Nathaniel is being interviewed by a reporter from the Washington Herald, who questions the qualifications and professionalism of the company. It's pretty clear he's looking to do a hatchet job on the fledgling company, so Nathaniel does his best to assure the reporter that they know what they're doing. His assurances are not helped by Zack and Luke, who are currently practicing a ritual with candles and using a homemade flamethrower to light the candles. Nathaniel suggests that the reporter can do a ridealong with them on one of their cases to see how they operate for himself, and the reporter agrees, leaving his card for them to get in touch.

Not long after the reporter leaves, Sally announces that they have a client. Emily Merkel is a student at a nearby university campus and she's pretty frantic. Her friend, Eric Hoyne, was with her at the campus laundromat the previous day when - right before her eyes - he was sucked into the dryer by a swirling portal of what appeared to be blood. She's contacted the police, but they won't listen to her and thought she was trying to pull a prank. The Wight House are the only people she can turn to in order to get Eric back. Nathaniel tells her to meet them at the campus security office tomorrow and show them where it happened, then they'll take a look and give her a quote.

After she leaves, they do a little research. Nathaniel finds out that a man called Charles Henry Forth III used to own the land that the university is now built upon, and he was known to dabble in the occult. He was last seen by a serving girl who reported him being sucked into a portal of blood much like the one Emily describes. A note was left behind at the scene which read 'in order to get back what is lost, you must put something else in'. Meanwhile, Zack is looking into Emily's background to figure how much money they can squeeze out of her for the job; it turns out that her father is Charles Henry Forth XVIII, and that the family has a history of mysterious deaths or disappearances. Charles XVIII is a very wealthy businessman, so they can probably make a good profit off his daughter's problem.

The next day, they meet Emily as arranged and she signs them in at the security office before leading them to the laundromat. Nathaniel gets her to point him towards the dryer in question, then pokes his head inside with a candle to light up the interior. At first there's no sign of anything, but then he catches a whiff of blood and runs away in terror as the bloody portal manifests inside the dryer. The dryer itself starts to vibrate with supernatural power, so much so that it pushes aside the other dryers and starts edging its way across the laundromat towards Emily.

Luke and Zack manage to contain it by quickly arranging a circle of candles around it and lighting them with the flamethrower while reciting a binding incantation. The dryer rumbles and turns on the spot inside the circle, but otherwise doesn't make any further progress. Zack sends Luke to go and track down Nathaniel, who has calmed down and returns to the laundromat. He theorises that the blood portal is somehow tied to the descendants of Charles Henry Forth III and that it needs something from them.

We briefly cut away to a confessional scene, where Zack expresses that this is not the first hare-brained, unfounded theory that Nathaniel has come up with and that he secretly believes that Nathaniel hasn't actually got a clue what he is doing and is just a crazy old coot. (Zack puts the characteristic 'Crazy Theorist' on Nathaniel.)

Back at the laundromat, Nathaniel is now standing in front of the dryer, talking to the portal and asking it what it wants while Luke and Zack exchange doubtful looks. Moments later, Nathaniel is thrown against the wall by a deluge of pink ectoplasm that is vomited by the portal. Plastered to the front of his shirt by the slime is a note with writing scrawled on it in an eldritch glowing light.

Luke reads the note - written in old English - and finds that it requires something given by its captive, a lock of hair from the loved one of the captive and something to quell fire. If none of these are available, it will accept souls.

They get a bracelet which was a gift from Eric to Emily, a lock of her hair, and manage to get a block of ice. They offer it to the blood portal, which sucks it in. The portal seems to grow, collapsing the dryer around it and pulling it into itself, before vanishing in an explosion of ectoplasmic residue. Where the dryer once stood a naked young man now sits, dripping ectoplasm. Recognising the young man as Eric, Emily almost runs to him but is held back by Zack who warns that they need to make sure that it's safe first.

In another confessional scene, Nathaniel talks about how he and Luke never realised before just how greedy Zack could be. Back in the laundromat, Zack explains that they'll need to keep Eric under observation to make sure he's not possessed and there are no further side effects. He also writes up a long invoice for her of service charges, even though she's clearly quite shaken and distraught by the whole ordeal.

The session ends with the three members of The Wight House doing a TV advert for their company using the money they made off of their first proper case, capping it off with their slogan: 'Washing tons of ghosts in the DC area!'


Sunday, May 17, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] Jhereg, Mad Max and other stuff...

Achievements Unlocked
Having finished the audiobook of Child of Fire (Twenty Palaces book 1) by Harry Connolly on Sunday morning, I moved on to Jhereg (Vlad Taltos book 1) by Steven Brust. I found out about the Vlad Taltos novels through the Blades In The Dark Kickstarter, since it was one of the primary influences for the game and a setting hack based on it was even one of the later stretch goals of the campaign. Seeing as how I like stories about assassins in fantasy settings, I decided to give it a go and got the audiobook of the first novel from Audible.

When I first started listening, I didn't much care for the narrator's delivery; it felt flat and boring when he was doing straight description, but he did put more feeling and effort into performing dialogue. As I continued listening though, I found that I didn't mind so much. Maybe it was just that I was getting into the story and was able to move past my issues with the narrator, but I think it was more that his delivery actually improved along the way. That might just be me being a bit easy-going though.

The book itself was pretty good though; I like 'problem-solving stories' like detective novels, and this is essentially a detective novel in reverse; instead of figuring out how the murder was committed and who did it, the protagonist spends much of the book trying to figure out how to pull off the murder and get away with it. There's also the odd action scene thrown in to add more danger and excitement. The book also drip-feeds details about the setting pretty nicely, while leaving enough room for exploration in future books. Plus, I really enjoyed the banter between Vlad and his various friends, acquaintances and rivals. This is definitely a series I'll be reading more of in the future.

As part of my effort to better familiarise myself with Arthurian legend in case I end up running Camelot Trigger setting for Fate Core in the near future, I started reading The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights by Sir James Knowles. It's a little hard for me to get into, but I tend to find that with any story told from a third-person omniscient perspective. It's probably a decent enough primer on the Arthurian myth, but really that's all it feels like: an academic textbook. Add to that the anti-Scottish sentiment that pops up in the narrative here and there, and...yeah, I'm finding it a bit of a difficult read.

On the subject of Arthurian stories, I finally started watching Merlin again after finding the complete series on Netflix. I know, it diverges pretty sharply from any of the usual mythology, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I finished series 1 a while ago, but never got around to picking it up again since I switched from Lovefilm to Netflix. Rather than start over again from the beginning, I started watching series 2 on Tuesday night and got halfway through it since then.

So far the only episodes I haven't really enjoyed - boy, is that an understatement - were the two parts of 'Beauty and the Beast'. They reminded me of the Doctor Who season one two-parter with the Slitheen and all the flatulence jokes, except this was worse than that. It goes further than flatulence to full-on gross out...'humour'. A younger me might have found it hilarious, but as it was I just found it really difficult to watch. And they made it a two-parter why exactly? Ugh.

With Mad Max: Fury Road being released this week, I decided to watch the trilogy boxset I got a while back, starting with Mad Max on Wednesday. This time I actually followed what was going on a bit better, though the film still doesn't do much to establish what exactly has happened to the world to cause society to break down the way it is (what I do know, I got off the film's synopsis). I still find it odd how the actors are re-dubbed in English on the DVD's default audio track, with the 'original Australian' as an optional alternative. I guess maybe it's in case the Australian slang goes over peoples' heads? Yeah, that's probably it. Anyway, Mad Max was...okay. It's a bit of an uncomfortable film to watch and, to be honest, it felt more like a prologue to the events of the later films. It was all about how Max becomes 'Mad Max', basically.

The next night I watched The Road Warrior and somehow I found it much more enjoyable than the first movie. It was still uncomfortable to watch at times, but it felt like it had much more going on in terms of an actual plot. Plus, I guess I just like a good old-fashioned siege defence story which is kinda what the movie was. Plus, I bought this trilogy boxset to expand my post-apocalyptic media knowledge and this film was much more clearly post-apocalyptic than the first.

I haven't got around to watching Beyond Thunderdome yet, I'll probably watch that tonight or tomorrow night, depending on whether I've got my writing done tonight or not.

Work In Progress
I'm pretty close to finishing the current draft of the first 'episode' of my Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic. I just have to address the feedback notes on part four of four, then re-read the whole thing for continuity issues and such. After that, it should be ready for another round of beta reading.

As for original fiction, I've started outlining the 'prequel' to my urban fantasy series using the Snowflake Method. So far, I've only done the first part - the elevator pitch - but I'll do more work on it this evening after I get home from my shift.

Roleplaying-wise, I'm still waiting for word on whether I'll be part of the Shadow of the Century playtest. In the meantime, I've been working on finalising my prospectus of potential game choices for the summer campaign in case that falls through. The list needed some serious narrowing down because I had twelve games on it; having already suspected that was too many, I asked on G+ for a second opinion and got a couple replies.

As I had thought, I was advised that three or four options is better; twelve would only lead to decision paralysis. One suggestion given was to split the twelve options into broader categories and then offer the games in whichever category the players chose. While I liked that idea, the twelve didn't break down equally into different genres. Well, not all of them.

They do, however, break down fairly equally into Fate Core settings and Powered by the Apocalypse games. After some consideration, I decided to dump the PbtA options. I can run PbtA games just as well online as offline, but with Fate Core I want to try out the Deck of Fate I recently bought and I can't use that with an online group. Besides, I'm not sure PbtA-style play is a good fit for all of my players.

That cut my list down by half, and I eliminated a few others because I'd decided whatever I'm gonna run it's going use Fate Core. That left six options which I managed to cut down to just four. So, I have options to present to my group if it comes to that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[Rob's RP Rambles] The Generation Game

This is something I've been pondering off and on again for a while, and got back on to thinking about it after dusting off my copy of Apotheosis Drive X recently (as well as thinking about Evil Hat's new Shadow of the Century game about to go into playtesting).

Up until now (with the exception of a short-lived continuation of my old Stargate SG-10 campaign) I've only run games that cover one period within a world's timeline and followed the adventures of one group of characters. Apotheosis Drive X suggests a different approach, in which campaign play can potentially progress over multiple generations. Spirit of the Century also suggests something similar, time skipping from early century adventures in the 1920s/1930s to the same characters later on in the century.

It's an ambitious idea for running a campaign but it's something I'd really like to try out at some point.

One of the main challenges of attempting an epic campaign of this sort is, of course, the players themselves. I'd be very lucky to get the same group of players to stick around for a multi-generation game, though it's not necessary - strictly speaking - for the whole group to be present from start to finish. It might be cool to keep one or two on board, playing as either older versions of their characters or their descendants, but for the most part the new generation's cast need not have any ties to the old. After all, none of the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation had any ties to the original series except that their adventures took place at a later point in the same universe's timeline. Then again, having players make callbacks to earlier events in the timeline would be part of the fun of running such a campaign.

Introducing new players to a multi-generation campaign also poses the danger of continuity lockout; the longer the campaign's history becomes, the more difficult it becomes to catch new players up on what has gone before. That assumes it is important for them to know the history though. It could be that they only need a basic knowledge of the setting and the current situation. If the events that led to it were part of the earlier generation of the campaign, those events can be referenced in-game, maybe in response to a Knowledge (History) roll or something. It would probably also help to maintain a campaign bible, recording the timeline of the game and biographies of the major participants as it progresses.

I have no idea if or when I'll actually get around to attempting this. I suspect that, if I do end up giving it a try, I'll run one 'season' of a campaign and propose a continuation into a later generation as a possibility for the next semester of play to the group when the game wraps up. It should be the players' choice, after all, not just the whim of the GM.

I know this isn't a new idea, so I'd like to hear from other GMs about their own experiences of running multi-generation campaigns. What challenges did you face? How did you tackle them? How did it work out overall? If there's anything you feel like sharing about those games, then please leave a comment below.

See you later!

Monday, May 11, 2015

[Rob's RP Rambles] How I Got Into Roleplaying and What I Get Out of It

Inspired by the latest episode of the Jank Cast, I thought I'd post my own story about how I got into gaming and why I'm still playing today.

I'd known about games like Dungeons & Dragons and Traveller in my childhood (without really understanding what they were) from playing computer games such as Westwood Studios' Eye of the Beholder and Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, and Paragon Software's Megatraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy on my brother's old Commodore Amiga. In my late teens, with the internet at my disposal, I stumbled across sourcebooks for tabletop roleplaying games (like GURPS: Time Travel), and I was intrigued by them, but had no idea how to actually get into the hobby. The closest I could get was various systemless play by post roleplaying games.

It wasn't until I joined the Glasgow Anime society shortly after high school that I met and befriended someone who actually knew about and played tabletop RPGs. He explained the hobby to me, introduced me to the friendly local gaming store (where I bought both Big Eyes Small Mouth and Rifts as my first ever RPGs) and even promised to run a Buffy game for me at some point. He kept promising to run something for a few months or maybe a year (I honestly can't say how long) until I finally got sick of waiting.

Having discovered SURGe (Strathclyde University Roleplaying, Games, etc) on the internet, I arranged to go in and check it out. My first day there, we started off played some board games - I can't remember which, but it was the first time I played a board game that was anything other than the traditional family games like Cluedo or Monopoly - and then, as luck would have it, one of the GMs ran character creation for a BESM game loosely based on the anime series Grenadier. The next week we played the first session.

Looking back, I was a pretty terrible roleplayer then. My character was a stereotypical avenger with dead parent issues and a reckless streak which almost got him killed in the very first session. All the same, I had a lot of fun. I'd always been a creative sort, enjoying acting in school plays and (halfway through high school) writing my own stories. Roleplaying was just like that, except I didn't need to learn any lines and I never knew what was going to happen in any session until it happened which made it even more fun.

It goes without saying that I still enjoy it to this day, for mostly the same reasons I enjoyed it starting out. I love the creative fun of creating a character, stepping into a persona that is different from my own and exploring fantastical worlds through those characters. I also enjoy the shared journey of building a story with my fellow players and GM. At it's best, it's almost like being an active participant in the events of a good TV series or novel. I've also found it to be, from time to time, more of a cathartic experience than playing videogames.

These days it's more the shared storytelling aspect of roleplaying that I enjoy than the actorly side of things (though that is still fun, as well), which is probably because I tend to run games more often than I play them myself. Still, I don't see myself getting bored with the hobby anytime soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing who I'll end up playing and what stories I'll be part of creating for at least the next five or ten years.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] Ultron, Child of Fire and other stuff...

Inevitably, I went ahead and preordered the Doctor Who Series 8 Soundtrack, so I should be getting that on or before the 20th of May. I've been able to listen to a few leaked tracks on Youtube (sadly taken down for copyright infringement) and I have to say I'm probably more excited about this album than I've been about some of the more recent Doctor Who albums. 'A Good Man' and all the variations of the Twelfth Doctor's theme I've heard in the leaked tracks are worth buying it for alone.

I also downloaded A Spark in Fate Core from DriveThruRPG for free. The booklet is an expanded version of the Game Creation from Fate Core which uses some of the methods from The Spark Roleplaying Game. I've never actually tried Spark myself but the way this handles setting creation is pretty clever; it starts with everybody listing their favourite media and builds from there, integrating the things they like about those media into the setting as it's created. One of the options I'm going to offer for our summer campaign is to just run a custom game of Fate Core, so if we end up doing that this is definitely how I'll be going about it.

Finally, I bought and downloaded Strange Tales of the Century (STotC) supplement for Spirit of the Century (SotC). I'm hoping to get in on the playtest for Shadow of the Century, but if I don't then I'll offer Spirit of the Century as one of the options for my group's summer campaign. If it comes to that, I want to run it in Fate Core, and STotC has an appendix on adapting SotC to Fate Core. That's not my only reason for getting it though, as it's also chock full of extra setting detail for use in SotC campaigns which will come in handy if I do end up running it.

Achievements Unlocked
I finished Crossroads of Twilight (Wheel of Time book 10) by Robert Jordan and, as I predicted, there wasn't much in the last three hours of audio to raise it above just being an average filler story. There was some foreshadowing of some dark goings on elsewhere, and some small excitement for Mat, but the only really interesting thing was a cliffhanger involving a major character. Hopefully this one doesn't take another book and a half to be resolved.

I watched the Dead of Winter episode of Wil Wheaton's Tabletop and that's definitely another game I'll be adding to my wishlist. Why? First of all: zombies! Second of all: I love co-operative play, but I don't have nearly enough co-op games in my collection. Last: hidden motives and betrayal, just to mix things up. Besides, all the best zombie movies have the real threat be human nature, so it's a nice reflection of that trope.

On Tuesday night, we had a couple of games of Red Dragon Inn, and a couple of games of Betrayal At House on the Hill. To my utter disappointment I wasn't the traitor in either game of the latter, and the explorers lost both games! I managed to win the second game of Red Dragon Inn as Gerki the Sneak; the first time round I wasn't really paying enough attention (I was busy eating), but in the second game I was more focused and thought about things more tactically as I played. Yeah, I was thinking tactically about how to drink my fellow players under the table (not literally, just in the game), strange as that sounds. Of course, it was just as much down to luck with the cards as anything else, but I still had a lot of fun playing.

On Thursday evening I did a bit of catching up with Agents of SHIELD, watching episodes fifteen through seventeen of the second season. I really don't want to say too much about the plot to avoid spoilers, but the pacing is still really tight compared to the series arc for last season and I'm still really enjoying it. Whereas the first season lacked a clear antagonist until pretty late on, Agents of SHIELD has kept things interesting with multiple opposing factions shifting in prominence throughout the season. Don't know how they're all going to collide in the end yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

On Friday afternoon, I went to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron and it was every bit as awesome as I'd been promised it was. Though, I can see why Black Widow/Scarlet Johansson fans were annoyed with a certain part of the movie. And the romance subplot between her and Banner felt like it came out of nowhere. Those points aside, the movie was a lot of fun and Ultron himself was pretty entertaining as a villain. I also loved that Hawkeye had more of a role in it than the first Avengers, and we even get a little more backstory on Black Widow which even ties in with some elements that were featured in Agent Carter. I haven't seen the last few episodes of Agents of SHIELD yet, so I don't know how they tie it in with that, but I'm sure there'll be something. (Though I doubt Age of Ultron will be as strongly tied to the show as The Winter Soldier wound up being.)

Yesterday, I listened to most of Child of Fire by Harry Connolly. I'd read the Kindle edition once before and, while I was still in my urban fantasy mood recently, decided I wanted to give it another go in audiobook format. I enjoyed the book the first time round, and it hasn't lost anything in translation to audio. In fact, the narrator does a pretty good job of giving voice to Ray Lilly, though his voices for the female characters comes across as a bit whiny, even with Annalise. This is not a book for the lighthearted reader or listener though; in fact, it's about as dark as urban fantasy gets. It's a shame that, from what I hear, the Twenty Palaces series got cancelled after three books. I haven't read the other two, but from this introductory novel I'm pretty sure it's a world I'd be interested in exploring further and just two more books is probably not enough to really dig into the setting if they're the same length as this one. Still, I'll probably check them out in due course all the same.
Works In Progress
I spent a good deal of time on Wednesday night writing up a Character Creation guide for Spirit of the Century using Fate Core. If I get accepted for the Shadow of the Century playtest it won't be necessary, but I though I'd get the prep done as a contingency plan all the same. Still, I'll try not to get too ahead of myself.

I did a bit more editing of the Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic; it's slow going, but I'm getting there. I still really need some beta readers to go over it once I'm finished resolving the notes I got on the previous draft, but for now I just need to get this draft out of the way. I also need to outline my plan for the rest of the 'season'; once that's done, I'll outline and then write the next 'episode'.

Listening to Child of Fire has got me thinking about my own urban fantasy idea again. The problem I've been having with the idea is that the plot I keep coming back to for the first novel is pretty much just an origin story for my protagonist, and one which I haven't even filled all the blanks for yet. Child of Fire kicks off post-origin story for Ray Lilly (and so did Storm Front for Harry Dresden), and that's what I want to do with my novel. Still, I keep thinking that writing out that origin story would help me get a handle on the character, and maybe give me a direction for the 'first' book. And yet, every time I start writing the damn thing, it doesn't feel right.

In my head, I know I need to stop worrying about getting it right; just write it first, worry about what's wrong with it when it's done. I just need to push myself harder, I guess. I'll start taking another crack at the urban fantasy story this week, alternating between that and editing the Doctor Who/Evangelion fic. So that's one editing project, one outlining project and one...well, I guess it's sort of an outlining project too. One thing I've learned for certain about myself as a writer is that I work better if I plan ahead at least a little bit.

So that's what I've been up to, and those are my plans for the week ahead. I'll post during the week if I have anything interesting to post. See you later folks!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

[RPG Fiction] Firefly - Adventures of the Water Lily: Destiny

The following is an epilogue written by Peter, one of the players from my Firefly campaign, featuring his character Jesse Weynlon. I thought I'd post it on here for folks to read.

Disclaimer: Firefly is the property of Mutant Enemy, Inc. and 20th Century Fox. Serenity is the property of Universal Pictures. This is a noncommercial piece of fanwork not associated with these entities and intended only to entertain and show appreciation for the source material.



A few months after the destruction of LRI's facility on Destiny.
Jesse sighed as she dragged herself through the field. It was a journey she was quite used to by now. Mick and Sharla had been a great help since she'd moved here but above all this brought her the most peace. The wind was gentle and the sun was warm on her back while the tall grass idly brushed her fingers. It reminded her of home or as close as she could get to it. Arriving at a small clearing in the field she brushed down her waistcoat and trousers before removing her hat and settling down on the ground.

"Well James, it's a nice day out, felt like goin' for a walk," she sighed stretching her arms out behind her to prop herself up "It's not been easy settling down here no sir. Too many people who don't like Browncoats, but whatever I'm not going anywhere because of them. It was good of Mick to give me a place to stay but Mick's always been good that way. Provided I help out with the children here and there, but that's not too difficult, Sharla's not quite as smart as I remember her being so she needs the occasional help in the class but she leads most of the way for it and I help out with the books here, like I used to do on the farm, so I earn my stay," she shrugged turning back to look at the Orphanage in the distance.

"It's a good thing those two are there for me...been awful lonely since Destiny. Last I heard of the crew was when Tammy visited the other week. She still seemed as...energetic as ever. Met up with Bea again, threw her hat in with them after that Miranda signal went out." Jesse shook her head disapprovingly "Can't say I approve but once she's set her mind to somethin' ain't nothin will make her change. That much is clear. Jus' so long as I don't need to arrest her next time she visits I'll be happy," she forced the joke. Tammy was a delight but her time back with the Captain had changed her, or so Jesse thought.

"Well...about the others...Tammy says Winston went back to working with his old crew. I suppose they'd know him better than anyone, so long as he keeps himself out of trouble. I don't know what the lad would do without someone to look after him." she sighed and reached up to rub her temples "Lord knows that fool worked my nerves somethin' awful at times but he was bright, that's for sure." she paused a moment thinking briefly "Wonder if he ever finished that fancy engine he was workin' on," she glanced at James knowingly, "Well if he does hope he learns to keep it quiet this time, didn't get him the best attention last time." she added with a smirk.

"At least Vanni is staying in the clear, from the sounds of it. Using the money from the bounty, seems she's started up a crew and business of her own. She's a smart girl for sure, probably well suited to being a captain once. Remember how we taught her how to shoot?" The memory brought a wide smile to Jesse’s face. “Yeah she was pretty terrible at first, but I’d like to think we made something of her.” 

A thought suddenly came to mind that made Jesse laugh aloud shattering the peace of the quiet field. "Reminds me...Tammy also told me apparently Vanni left that ship the Bonnie Mae out by the ruins of Destiny for her old friend to find. Now I don't much condone the theft but it's a pretty hilarious way to return it to people. I ain't above all humour." she said with a grin "Yeah she made some real progress, with a bit of time in a leading position she'll become a better Captain than John was. Not as much baggage on her." The grin slowly fell from Jesse's face as her memories of the Captain came back to her. Reaching up she idly rubbed her scar in thought.

"Yeah...the Captain sure had his share of baggage, almost got us killed on more than one occasion." she muttered quietly "I think I still hate him, he almost threw us all away in his grief. Had a negative effect on Tammy for sure, she's went on a darker path than life initially intended for her but..." Jesse wrapped her arms around her knees as her brow furrowed "...end of the day his example probably is what saved me. The Captain once asked me if I knew there was a chance you were still alive I'd do the same as him. At the time I...I thought he was right, I'd have done anything but I was still naive." Jesse gritted her teeth and looked away from James "I've seen now what that kind of path the Captain was walking, I know now there's no happy ending from that kind of...obsession. That's why I had to...I knew I had to change, because I didn't want to be the one responsible for dragging everyone close to me down with me. The Captain put us through hell, eventually I would most certainly have done the same and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It's why I came's why I let go," Jesse looked back across the clearing at the two fresh gravestones positioned there side by side without graves to mark.



A long browncoat was draped over one of them; James' old gun was laid in front of the other. Way out here, away from the town and the gangs, far enough away from the Orphanage that the kids wouldn't wander. This was a place she could watch over them. 

"So sorry if we aren't so close James but, it's better this way." she said apologetically to the gravestone as she got up and brushed herself down. She gave an irritated look to her father's marker "Ideally I'd have taken that coat back to his real grave on Whitefall, but you know how that place is. Not worth the trouble, assuming Patience hasn't razed the land or somethin' already," she muttered before sighing with satisfaction “But this'll do for now I think, I hope you both are having a good time." she bent over and scooped up her wide-brimmed hat from the ground. "Managed to get myself a small job as a deputy of the Sheriff here, pulling that favour before mighta helped a bit in the application process." she said placing the hat on her head "That said I'd best get back to work, ever since that Miranda signal went out, there's been word of riots in places at the Alliance for it, especially if you live close to the rim. Yep, could be dark days ahead but I ain't going to fly off the handle chasin' baddies like Tammy's chosen to do." she turned and looked at the Orphanage in the distance. She could almost make out Naomi and Russell helping ol' Sharla hanging out the washing. "I got something to protect now."  

Brushing herself down one last time she turned briefly to look back at the gravestones.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] Tabletop, Gurren Lagann, and other stuff...

My softcover copy of Primetime Adventures finally arrived on Thursday, despite the tracking information telling me that it hadn't met customs requirements and was being returned to the sender. Nice! Now all I need is a group to run it for. I'd hoped to run it for the Tears Of A Machine group as a follow-up game after our second season wrapped up, but Tales of the Arx Jericho is still on hiatus while Misha adjusts to his new circumstances. I could run a short season of PTA for my Firefly group, but I'm not sure it's the best fit for them.

Achievements Unlocked
As covered in my recent actual play post, on Tuesday I played a session of Fiasco using The Ice playset with the remaining members of the Firefly group who weren't buckling down to work on exam prep. Check out the post for more details.

I watched the Sheriff of Nottingham episode of Wil Wheaton's Tabletop on Thursday and the game looks like a lot of fun. Although, Wil Wheaton...spitting on the table? Ugh, shame on you! I'm all for a bit of roleplaying during tabletop board/card games, but there's such a thing as taking it too far. Anyway, Sheriff of Nottingham is definitely something I'd consider getting to play with friends. I've grown to enjoy bluffing/deception games over the past couple of years, ever since I started playing Coup and The Resistance, and Sheriff of Nottingham looks different enough from others I've played to make it worth checking out.

I also finished off Gurren Lagann and, while I really enjoyed the series, I have to say the shift in tone halfway through the series felt a bit jarring. The series goes from being mostly comedic with odd moments of drama, to nearly the exact opposite. It's not so much that I didn't enjoy the latter half of the show, but the shift in tone was pretty disorienting.

I'm about halfway through Odyssey: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management, and I'm still finding it filled with a lot of valuable advice for handling campaigns. A lot of it is stuff that good GMs will be aware of on an instinctual level, but having them stated explicitly helps cement these aspects of GMing in your mind so that you can actively work on maintaining them and, in doing so, run a smoother campaign. There are also some tips and techniques that had never occurred to me personally before. I'm not finished the book yet, but it's definitely a great resource for newbie and experienced GMs alike; even veterans need a refresher course every now and then, right?

I'm just about finished listening to Crossroads of Twilight (book ten of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and, if I'm being honest, I've been feeling a bit meh about this one. After the game-changing events of the previous book, it feels like this one is mostly filler; there's a definite build up towards the prophesied final battle between the Dragon Reborn and the Dark One, but nothing of great import along the way. I'll have finished the book during my shift by the time this post goes live, but I doubt much will happen in the last few hours to make it anything less than average - if that - compared to other books in the series.

Works In Progress
I'm working my way through editing the first episode of my Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic. I'm going to go over it a couple of times during the coming week to weed out any minor errors like typos and continuity blips, then I'll see if I can get someone to beta read it before I post online.

At the same time, I'm going to need to work on the outline for the season as a whole. I have a rough idea of an arc for it, but I need to figure out the finer details. As part of my 'research' for the season outline, I'm going to read up on the canon Evangelion backstory regarding the Angels' origins, because that'll play an important role in the arc I have in mind for the fic.

Yeah, yeah, I know, why am I putting such effort into a fanfic instead of applying it to my own original fiction? I dunno, I guess I'm considering it a practice run, trying to figure out a writing process for myself that works. You'd think I'd have that down by now, huh? To be honest, my writing output hasn't been the same since I graduated university, and I can't explain why. It's weird.

Anyway, I'm gonna wrap up the post here before it descends into a full-on rant. Later folks.

Friday, May 1, 2015

[Actual Play] Fiasco: The Ice - Ghost Cube

On Tuesday night, all but one of my Firefly group joined me for a one-shot of Fiasco (Honi needed to buckle down and study for the upcoming exams). We played The Ice playset and it took a bit of a turn towards the supernatural from the very first scene (Craig was apparently drawing inspiration from the film Thirteen Ghosts with the elements he brought in, but I've never seen the film myself). While there was certainly room for continuing the game using Trainwreck Mode, we decided to just leave it as a one-shot.

Instead of doing a Fiasco campaign, we'll be taking a break to do some tabletop card/board gaming next week, then I might try running Misspent Youth after that, depending on whether or not I can get a couple more players to join in (since Martin will be joining Honi in exam land starting next week).

Garry Fitch (played by Martin): Helicopter pilot for the outpost who smuggles contraband in for the employees there, such as the marijuana that JJ smokes.

Josh 'JJ' Jackson (played by me): A security guard with anger management issues who relies on the marijuana supplied by Fitch to keep him calm and controlled. Regularly works together with Burt as his patrol partner. He has a crush on Anne Marie, one of the researchers on the outpost.

Alfred 'Al' Lester (played by Craig): One of Anne Marie's fellow researchers and oldest friends. He came to the outpost to work alongside her because he has had a life-long crush on her and wanted to stay close to her. He's more than a little obsessed.

Burt Russell (played by Peter): A security guard who is secretly a corporate spy, working for a rival research company to steal secrets from the outpost.

The game starts with JJ in one of the huts, smoking some marijuana as he stands guard over the body of Anne Marie, whose body was found by Fitch and Russell in the underground cavern where she took ice core samples from. While guarding the body, JJ experiences an apparent hallucination in which Ann Marie gets up from her casket and tries to strangle him with an icy, life-draining grip. He manages to push her off and, when he does, he finds she's lying back in the casket as if nothing happened.

Shaken, he angrily drops and crushes his joint underfoot before going to give Fitch an earful for giving him bad weed. After doing so, he spies Lester out in the ice, talking to someone in research clothing who isn't wearing proper survival gear. It looks like Ann Marie. Russell also sees him talking to the figure, but doesn't recognise them from his position. The two guards confront Lester and ask who he was talking to and, when he denies talking to anyone, they decide to lock him in the storeroom for interrogation since he shouldn't be talking to unauthorised personnel. Russell takes him into custody, while JJ goes off in search of the figure he was talking to.

JJ eventually arrives at the research and storage hut, where he finds a mysterious puzzle-cube thingy that's rotating and glowing all by itself. He also hears voices whispering from inside it. Spooked by this discovery, he runs away.

Meanwhile, Russell locks Lester in the storeroom and leaves him there, after listening to him ramble on the way there about Ann Marie coming back and that she must have been there because both JJ and Russell say they saw him talking to her. Not long after leaving Lester in the storeroom, Russell hears a bang from that direction and finds the lock on the storage cage he left Lester in broken, and the man himself missing. Moments later, the power cuts out in the main outpost.

JJ runs into Fitch and tries to convince him to come back to the research and storage hut with him. Unfortunately, JJ is so rattled by what he's seen that Fitch thinks he might have been right about the bad weed after all. With Fitch trying to worm his way out of going anywhere with JJ, the unhinged security guard draws his gun and forces him to accompany him at gunpoint, needing someone else to see the cube to confirm that it's real.

When they arrive at the hut, they find Lester there with the cube, which is now spurting fire and setting the hut ablaze. Lester confesses that he killed Ann Marie to activate the cube so that he could 'be with her forever'. Enraged and already disturbed by the things he's seen and heard so far, JJ shoots Lester dead in an act of revenge. Unfortunately, all this does is allow the cube to consume and regurgitate Lester's soul, for which the newborn ghost thanks him because now he and Ann Marie could be together forever, just like he wanted. At this point, Fitch and JJ - both terrified - flee the hut, though Fitch splits off from JJ after having just seen him murder Lester.

Fitch flees to the main compound, where the power is down, because Lester embedded a fire axe in the generator after breaking out of the storeroom. The outpost is also now overrun with malevolent ghosts and there is screaming coming from all over the place. Fitch and Mitch (the engineer) are grabbed by Russell and locked in the generator room 'for their protection' while they try to fix the generator. He then decides to use the chaos breaking out throughout the base as cover while he gets the files his employers want. Having downloaded the files to a flash drive, he heads for the sub pen to make his escape.

Meanwhile, Lester's ghost finds Fitch and Mitch in the generator room, then freezes and shatters the lock with his ghosty powers, leaving them to fend for themselves. While they are trying to flee, Mitch is possessed by one of the ghosts and turns on Fitch with the fire axe they had pried loose from the generator. Fitch manages to dodge his attacks and flees to his helicopter. However, not daring to take off in the stormy weather, he instead opts to hide inside until the chaos dies down.

Down in the sub pen, Russell discovers a second sub docked there, when there should only be one. He recognises the markings on the second sub as the calling card of a rival operative who goes by the name Pierre and hides to avoid getting caught out in the open. JJ, who also had the same idea as Russell about escaping in the sub, shows up in the pen shortly afterwards. Unfortunately for him, the ghosts play with Russell's perceptions so that he sees his fellow guard only as a shadowy figure in combat gear. Russell shoots the apparent intruder and only realises who it really is afterwards. JJ stares at him incredulously before falling to the floor, dead.

Before Russell can fully process what just happened, he is attacked by Pierre, and a tense gunfight ensues in the pen. As Russell exchanges shots with Pierre from behind cover, he is taunted by the ghost of JJ, whose spirit had been trapped and twisted by the cube like the others. JJ eventually drives Russell to try and shoot him, but since he's just a ghost, the shots hit a gas tank instead, causing an explosion which takes out Pierre and traps Russell inside the pen with no other way out except the sub.

JJ uses his ghost powers to freeze the hatch open as Russell clambers inside, and then uses them to make the sub start diving on its own. Russell is able to pull the hatch shut in time so that the water only reaches to beneath his waist and pilots the sub away from the facility.

JJ's soul is sucked back into the cube to be tormented and twisted even further. Lester is reunited with Anne Marie's ghost, but she is not happy with him for killing her and does not reciprocate his feelings. He spends the rest of his time in the cube being torn apart by her, over and over again. Fitch is found by the rescue party, nearly frozen to death inside the helicopter and driven to insanity by the incessant wailing of the ghosts and the screams of their victims throughout the night. Russell is rescued in the sub and wakes up in a medical facility run by his secret employers. Unfortunately the flash drive he stored the files on did not survive exposure to the water that got inside the sub and his employers felt disinclined to give him more than basic medical care. As such, he finds that he has lost both of his legs to frostbite. The cube, dormant once again, is discovered by investigators after the incident and taken to an undisclosed location for study.