Sunday, January 10, 2016

[My Geeky Week] Shadow Police and other stuff...

Swag
On Monday, I received my Kickstarter copy of the Time Cellist RPG 'activity book'. Now all I need is a chance to run it and a face-to-face group (because this one really does need to be done in person, I feel) willing to play it with me.

The same day, I ordered a River Song-style TARDIS journal to keep notes on my work for the Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfiction with. Like with the handmade leather journal I got for my original writing, I figured I'd greet the new year with fresh journal to symbolise a fresh start with the story. Probably a bit of an over-investment for fanfiction but, well, what the heck?

On Tuesday, I spent some Audible credits on another couple of audiobooks, The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell and Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig.

Then yesterday, I got The 3AM Epiphany by Brian Kiteley, which is yet another writing advice book to try and help me with my current 'inspirationally challenged' nature.

I also bought some roleplaying books which included the digital edition of The Society of Dreamers by Matthijs Holter, the print and PDF bundle of Microscope by Ben Robbins, and a preorder of the upcoming Microscope expansion, Microscope Explorer.

I almost didn't get The Society of Dreamers because its subject matter bears some similarity to concepts that I'm looking to explore in my own novel idea and I didn't want to risk it influencing me. However, I decided that rather than worry about being influenced, I might look at the game as a potential source of inspiration. Besides, the game places players in the role of a 19th century society of occultists, and my own story is set in the present day.

As for Microscope, I've played it before, but never actually got around to buying it until now. With the new expansion book, Microscope Explorer, recently being released as a PDF and soon to appear in print, I decided I'd go ahead and order them together.

Achievements Unlocked
I had a bit of a lazy week this week, so I spent it mostly listening to London Falling by Paul Cornell. I decided to listen to these books, in part, to get me in the mood for running a London-based mini-campaign of Urban Shadows this coming Wednesday. I liked the book enough that I went ahead and got its sequel, The Severed Streets, which I read the bulk of in my first shift back at work yesterday.

These two books, part of Cornell's Shadow Police series (the third of which is due for release this June), are about a group of London coppers who stumble upon the supernatural underworld of London in the course of a murder inquiry and take upon themselves to investigate this strange, secret side to the city.

If you know me pretty well, you probably know I enjoy both police procedurals and urban fantasy, so that particular genre mashup was always going to appeal to me. And it is pretty well done here; if this were a TV show (and it should be), then I'd definitely watch it. It's dark, it's gritty, and the supernatural side of things has an air of authenticity about it. Also, while the series does touch on the subject of Hell, it largely avoids tying its mythology to any particular religious ideology. The supernatural world is tied more to the city, its history, and the collective views of its population. Plus, it features a team of protagonists who - despite being well-trained investigators - are very much out of their depth with all this weird crap, and I love stories about underdogs.

I also read the first issue of Worlds Without Master which I got as part of the Epimas bundle I ordered for myself and James, my nWoD GM. It was okay. The stories were interesting, the comic was somewhat amusing and the micro-RPG (Enter the Avenger) could be fun to try out sometime if I need a quick game to facilitate on the fly at some point. For the most part though, I suspect I'm not quite the right target audience for the e-zine. I didn't read a lot of the sword and sorcery stories that - according to the editorial - the 'zine was inspired by, so I don't have the nostalgia for it that the creators are working from. So I just found it okay, and not much beyond that, sadly.

Works In Progress
With my mini-campaign of Urban Shadows due to start this Wednesday, I've been reading through the book to familiarise myself with the rules and best practices before we get started. I've also been reading Julia Nienaber's blog post on 'How to run Urban Shadows' and been watching/listening to the mini-campaign she ran for Rich and the rest of his Intercontinental Group of Awesome on Youtube to help me get a feel for how it runs.

I've posed some worldbuilding questions to my group in advance of Wednesday's session, and got responses from all but one of my players, so I've already got a few NPCs to work with for a few factions. Looking forward to seeing how it all works out in-game.

That's about it for now, I'll be back later in the week with the Masks planning post and the Canon in Roleplaying post I originally wanted to post this week, and probably an actual play report from Wednesday's Urban Shadows session after it's done. See you later!

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