Nationals 2012: Roundup and Recap

Earlier this month, the 14th-16th April to be exact, was the gaming Nationals, a yearly event bringing together teams from universities across the UK for a weekend of gaming, socialising and (for most) drinking. 2012 saw the honour of hosting fall to Cardiff RAWSOC for the first time, a remarkable feat given they had won the 2011 event on only their second year of attending. This year also marked a change for me personally as I attended not as a player but as an event GM, the first time I had done so at a large convention.

Overall, and personally, I feel like the weekend was a big success. Most of those I spoke to seemed to have enjoyed their weekend, the opening and closing ceremonies ran to time (a rarity at Nationals) and over £6000 was raised for the chosen charity (PDSA). Closer to home I was extremely pleased with the game and adventure I ran (a specially written Corporation scenario) and all of the players in my group seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves.

While overall the weekend was a success I was disappointed to hear that, once again the Nationals had the same major let down, poor / bad GMs, with the problem amplified by conditions unique to Cardiff*. Mostly this appeared to consider to GMs who had done little to no preparation or playtesting prior to the Nationals, at worst I heard of GMs who were still filling in the character sheets as the players arrived. Some GMs can get away with this most, however, cannot. It is especially aggravating to hear of this occuring when you consider the fact that most players have travelled long distances in order to attend and all were paying for the pleasure of doing so. The issue of bad GMs at Cardiff wasn’t, unfortunately, a one off, as I heard similar stories at Sheffield in 2011 and the reason I volunteered to GM this year was because of a bad GM almost ruining Sheffield for me (that and drum & bass but that’s another story).

Next year we’re back off to Sheffield, if they need GMs again I’ll volunteer once again, I much prefer being on that side of the table while I also know that my game, as it was this year, will be heavily playtested in advance.





*RAWSOC are a small society and for months prior to the Nationals had been advertising for GMs to fill the slots. Unfortunately it appears a number of those who had signed up to GM pulled out a week or two prior to the event, leaving RAWSOC scrambling to find people willing to GM at short notice. Some of the GMs didn’t know whether they would be needed until the weekend of the actual event.


DresNoir 03 – More training

The previous post covered the introduction of four new training programs, Cop, Wizard, Being and Spirit. It also alluded to a restructuring of the remaining trainings in order to associate each with different Verbs from those found in the core Technoir setting. Below is the new verb tables, grouped first by training and then secondly by verb.

Training Verb Verb Verb
Being Fight Prowl See
Bodyguard Fight Operate Treat
Cop Fight Operate Shoot
Criminal Move Prowl Shoot
Doctor Detect Operate Treat
Escort Coax Move Treat
Investigator Coax Detect Prowl
Spirit Coax Move See
Practitioner Detect See Shoot

and ordered by Verb

Verb Training Training Training
Coax Escort Investigator Spirit
Detect Doctor Investigator Practitioner
Fight Being Bodyguard Cop
Move Criminal Escort Spirit
Operate Bodyguard Cop Doctor
Prowl Being Criminal Investigator
See Being Spirit Practitioner
Shoot Criminal Cop Practitioner
Treat Bodyguard Doctor Escort

DresNoir 02 – Training programs

In Technoir training programs form the root of character attributes by allowing for the selection of verb. DresNoir takes the basic concept and then shakes things up a bit. First though we need to exchange the Hack verb for See. See is the supernatural equivalent of the Detect verb, allowing characters to utilise abilities such as a Wizards Sight, see the true form of entities and see through illusions.

I’ve included See as the new verb for a couple of reasons. Firstly because its not a verb which can be used for all magic based rolls in the way that Cast, my original choice, could. A verb focused solely on performing magic would have been over powered and over used simply because magic can be employed to achieve a wide range of outcomes. Tracking spells and fireballs are completely different and should therefore utilise different Verbs (Detect and Shoot in this example). The second reason is more subtle, having Detect and See allows for two very different types of perceptive characters, especially useful when it comes to mortals. As a cop Murphy is used to scouring a crime scene for clues but as a mortal has little chance of seeing through magical illusions. Separating Detect and See therefore allows for the creation these subtly different characters.

Now, onto the actual trainings programs. Four of the original programs, Engineer, Pilot, Solider and Courier are out, replaced by Cop, Practitioner, Being and Spirit.

A street cop, who over the years has had their eyes opened to the existence of the supernatural.
Verbs: Fight, Operate, Shoot

A practitioner is an individual possessing magical talent. In the mortal world this most commonly takes the form of witches, wizards and warlocks.
Verbs: See, Detect, Shoot

Supernatural entities with a leaning towards physical strengths such as werewolves, trolls and vampires
Verbs: See, Fight, Prowl

The second type of supernatural entity, these creatures are possessed of grace, beauty and raw emotions, favouring subtle means of tempting and ensnaring mortals. Fairies and White Court vampires are amongst the most common examples.
Verbs: See, Coax, Move

In addition to these new training programs each of the remaining original programs have been shuffled around and therefore do not match with the original verbs assigned to them. We’ll cover those programs in the next post.

DresNoir 01 – A Technoir hack

Technoir is a rather nifty tabletop RPG created and published by Jeremy Keller (the site for the game can be found at ). The game, in brief, is a mash up of two genres, near future cyberpunk and gritty hardboiled / film noir investigation. It’s a game where nothing is as simple as it first seems and where the protaginists will have to take a beating if they want to get solve the case. It is, therefore, ideally suited to a Dresden Files hack.

But wait, doesn’t the Dresden files already have an official RPG? Yes, it does (more details about it can be found here) and I own that as well.

Technoir however has something that the official RPG doesn’t, it’s lightweight, both in a physical sense (1 small book vs 2 large hardback books) and in the rules sense. This makes it well suited to running occasional one-shots and pick up games, especially with the availability of the Transmissions, a system for generating an adventure on the fly. Given my ‘regular’ gaming group is now ~500 miles away a lightweight and quick system is just what I need for the occassions when we get to game face to face.

Hence DresNoir, a hack of the Technoir for use in an urban fantasy setting, which I’ll be posting up in segments as I work on it.

Now for the legal bits. The Dresden Files is copyright Jim Butcher. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons as a derivative, noncommercial work. Technoir is copyright Jeremy Keller. The material included here and in subsequent posts consists of new rules and material to supplement the original game, which will still be required in order to use this hack.