Sunday, December 27, 2015

[My Geeky Week] Roleplaying, Star Wars and other stuff...

As I tend to do when I've got some extra credit in my Pay As You Go mobile balance, I bought a music album from the  Google Play store. This time it was the soundtrack for Continuum season one. One of the things I loved about the series when I was watching it was the background music, so I decided to go ahead and buy it.

I actually ordered Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner a week or so ago and forgot to mention it in my previous Geeky Week report. It arrived this week, just in time for Christmas. I heard about it from Andrea G in a Google+ conversation a while back, and only recently decided to go ahead and buy it. I have dabbled with tarot cards in the past, and I have a couple of decks (the Universal Waite deck and the Manga Tarot) which I've barely used over the years. The most use they've seen is for the occasional game of Hell 4 Leather. Hopefully, this book will help me get some more use out of them, and maybe even help me find some more inspiration for my writing projects.

Hoping that it would fill in some of the plot gaps that bugged me about the film, I bought the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster. Also, having lost hope that Audible UK will  get around to releasing Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig any time soon, I just went ahead and bought the Kindle edition instead. Sorry Audible, but with the new movie release coming up and this book supposedly being part of the 'Journey to the Force Awakens' you really should have sorted that out sooner.

Achievements Unlocked
Last Sunday, I ran the finale of our Masks: A New Generation playtest mini-campaign. The Infinity Five used the disembodied head of the 'Ski Mask Scrooge' robot decoy to track the villain, known as Anarch, to his hideout. After an unfortunate incident involving the robot head's self destruct sequence, Gadget Kid's fridge, and G being soaked by a watery shield created by the Splash, the team headed to the location indicated by the control signal for the robot decoy. During the ensuing battle, G had to break off from the main fight to rescue Gadget Kid's mentor, who was being held as leverage against them. The fight nearly proved fatal for the team, but they prevailed, capturing Anarch and his assistant Killswitch, a hacker that Gadget Kid had encountered before. The team celebrated Christmas together and exchanged gifts, and we wrapped  things up there.

I'm still polling the group for feedback about the game, and then I'll get to work on writing up a response to the playtest survey for Brendan. I'll likely be reviving the campaign in the new year, as I have several ideas for threats tied to the PCs in one way or another that should be enough to keep them busy for a 'season' of RP.

On Monday evening, I got to play in Masks as a PC, thanks to Lloyd Gyan. There was only one other player, so we ended up being an unlikely hero duo of a Doomed and Outsider, with myself as the Outsider. I originally intended to make my character an alien bounty hunter of sorts, but I ended up going with a teenage 'time lord' expy, running from a multiversal war and hiding one of several Keys to Reality.

Unfortunately, events conspired to bring the Reality War to Earth. The Doomed became the focal point of a plot to create a Key on Earth and use it to reboot the universe in the villain's image, the villain being an alternate universe version of the Doomed's nemesis, Nekron. It was a really epic one-shot, with Halcyon City caught inside a time bubble by the Outsider's people, an army of Revolutionists led by Alter Nekron seeking to rewrite reality, and just two teenage supers and their speedster ally standing in the way. In the end, it looked like the Doomed would become the Reality Key and bring about the end of reality as we know it but, in his Moment of Truth, he was able to control the power running through him and resist the transformation. With the threat having passed, the Outsider's people lifted the time bubble and time reset as if nothing ever happened. Of course, despite their victory, the Doomed and the Outsider found themselves locked up by the adult supers and berated for the mess they'd caused, mirroring an earlier scene where they were similarly detained and dressed down for accidentally blowing up the remains of a fire-damaged (and, luckily, evacuated) building level, having set off a booby trap while trying to investigate the cause of the fire. Long story short, it was great fun and I'd definitely love to play in another game run by Lloyd sometime.

On Tuesday evening, I was in a Christmas-themed session of Monster of the Week, run by Eadwin, who runs the Dungeon World campaign I'm currently in. I played Harmony Grier (the Spell-Slinger), a third-generation mage treated with disdain by mage society for her low-born heritage and lack of experience. She was originally supposed to be more of a grown-up, world-weary version of Hermoine, but I ended up mixing in a bit of Waver Velvet from Fate/Zero too.

The session itself was based on the movie Gremlins, with an escape by teleport (courtesy of the party's Divine) bringing us to the hometown of the Chosen and the Crooked, which was being terrorised by gremlin-like creatures being sold as toys by the local toy factory, run by Billy Peltzner. Billy Peltzner, in this case, was being hypnotically controlled by the deceptively cute Gizmos, who had been given to Billy as a Christmas present by his father. In the end, the Chosen raced to the Peltzner mansion to recover a puzzle box that held the key to defeating Gizmos. They had found the box earlier, but had left in the care of the Divine, who had gone to the mansion to awaken Billy's father from a spell-induced coma during which he was being used somehow to create more of the gremlins. Jacky (the Divine) had awoken Randall Peltzner, but drained himself in the process and had to retreat to the celestial plane to recover, leaving the puzzle box behind.

While Silas (the Chosen) raced to recover the puzzle box, Harmony and Matilda (the Crooked) confronted Gizmos. Unfortunately, Matilda fell under Gizmos' spell, leaving Harmony to fend off the gun-toting fuzzball by herself until help could arrive. Eventually, Silas returned with Randall, having retrieved some special bullets from the puzzle box which could be fired from his own enchanted pistol, and would kill Gizmos. With Harmony providing cover fire and defence with her combat magic, Silas was able to shoot Gizmos once in the chest and a second time in the head, ending his reign of terror. Unfortunately, while Gizmos' spell was broken, Matilda will always have a Gizmos-shaped hole in her heart following this adventure.

Then, on Wednesday night I joined Joshua Fox (co-creator of Lovecraftesque), Jason Cordova of the Gauntlet podcast, and Joshua Faller for a game of Rise and Fall. Rise and Fall is one of seven games that are part of the upcoming Seven Wonders anthology by Pelgrane Press. It's a GMless game where players create a dystopia, exploring its rise to power, what life is like at the height of that society, and how it's inevitable fall comes about.

Our game started in a near-future London, where the current xenophobic regime was building a wall to keep out refugees and other undesirables, while elsewhere a new mind-control chip was in its early human testing phases. As the dystopia developed, the wall had become a literal class divide, with citizens of 'low value' kept outside the wall, while those of greater utility were awarded citizenship. In the face of this inequality, a resistance movement is slowly gaining followers. Meanwhile, inside London, the mind-control chip had been adopted as a means of turning convicted criminals into loyal soldiers, but a corrupt politician also sought to use it to keep tabs on high-level government officials. The fall came about when the resistance were able to compromise the mind-control chip by bribing a security operative, and gained the ability to hijack or turn off the chips. Unfortunately, in bringing down the current regime, they also plunged London into a feudal state, with rival warlords vying for control.

It took us a bit of time to get into the flow of things with this game, but overall I think everyone was satisfied with the results. It has elements of Kingdom and Microscope to it, but seems to do a lot better in 'scene-level' roleplay than Microscope tends to do. I did feel it ended up leading to a lot of 'talking heads' scenes, with only two players controlling characters interacting with one another in each scene but, since I haven't read the rules, I'm not sure if that's a problem with the game itself or if it was just us limiting ourselves.

Earlier that day, I'd watched the mid-season finale of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. Things unfolded much as I'd expected they would but, in spite of that predictability, it never felt dull. In fact, the dramatic irony added even more tension to watching what was happening, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the consequences of this episode will be in the second half of the season.

As I mentioned earlier, I bought the Force Awakens novelization by Alan Dean Foster, hoping to fill in some of the gaps I felt were present in the movie's plot. It did so, for the most part, clarifying some points and confirming my own head canon about others. Also, while it didn't outright answer some of the questions left hanging at the end of the movie, it did provide a few more hints towards the possible answers. Finally, reading (or, rather, listening to) the book gives deeper insight into the characters, as we get to hear what thoughts are actually going through their heads as events unfold. All in all, I'm glad I picked up the novelization, because it's really enhanced my appreciation of the film.

Works In Progress
This being the Christmas week, I've just been taking things easy and not worrying too much about GM prep or writing projects. I have been working on a few New Year themed posts which will be going live mid-week, but that's about it.

I'll be getting back to work next week though, first by writing up my playtest survey for Masks, then writing down my 'fronts' for continuing the campaign in the new year.

For now, I hope you've all had a Merry Christmas. See you soon.

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