So it looks like Google+ is finally going the way of the dodo. As a general service it’s been on life support almost since its inception. It never built the user base that would a company like Google would require in order to continue maintaining it, but where it did succeed was with the gaming community. The communities, circles and collections allowed for a level of granularity that was ideal for sharing advice, thoughts and work in progress.
While I was never a heavy poster to G+ I use it frequently as a reader. There are multiple communities I follow, such as those for The Sprawl and Cortex Prime that have been invaluable. What will happen to them now is unknown. Discord, while popular, just doesn’t suit slower, in depth discussion and Facebook is just… Facebook.
Until that question is answered the best places to follow me are:
My blog – http://www.lunarshadow.net (which redirects to WordPress)
Twitter – @whodo_voodoo
I’m whodo on the HappyJacks Podcast forum – happyjacks.proboards.com and discord – happyjacks.org/discord
I’m also whodo on the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment / Dead Gentlemen discord – discord.gg/fhPckP7 and can mostly be found in the Demon Hunters sub-channel.
And as always you can find everything I release on DrivethruRPG
Unfortunately, every so often a game can fall flat. It may be a lack of player engagement, a bad system or a poorly prepared GM. Back in July I wrote in to HappyJacks RPG (season 22 episode 8) with a pseudo-horror story of GM mediocrity. That experience inspired my essential rules for con game prep (a topic for a follow-up post) but the discussion on the podcast has also inspired a mini-game!
My tale of bad GMing culminated peaked with the fact that I had spent much of the game building dice towers, going so far as to purposefully buy extra dice during the lunch break. Dave from MonkeyFun Studios took it upon himself to create a simple dice game that could be played at the table without disrupting the rest of the group. That game is DICE the Stacking and the simple rules can be found on the MonkeyFun website.
You can find MonkeyFun studios full range of games, such as Spirit of ’77 and Bedlam Hall, on their website and at drivethruRPG.
Of the three games I ran at Gateway 2015 the one I was most apprehensive about was Project Cassandra, most simply because it was the first time I’d run it for people I didn’t know. There are a number of steps between now and publishing it, the first of which is working out what needs changed so this summary will try and pull together my thoughts about how it went in order to get me thinking about edits.
Project Cassandra: 4 Minutes to Midnight
The Cold War. A time of spies, paranoia & fear. A top secret research project into ESP yields startling results, only to be betrayed from the inside after the subjects receive a shocking premonition: The President is due to be assassinated at an upcoming rally. Fleeing from the flames and with only their developing psychic abilities to aid them can the subjects stop the attack, or is the Cold War about to turn Hot?
All in all not too bad but a little on the short side and could have had more details, especially about the system given nobody would be familiar with it. Definitely something that I’ll need to work on a little.
Part of my aim with Project Cassandra was to give the players an element of control in determining the setup for the game. The characters are psychics after all. Prior to this I’d already decided on a number of elements, designed to frame the questions. Firstly it was 1969, Nixon is a year into his presidency and Apollo 12 has just returned from the moon with news of a startling discovery. The project members have learned of this through one of their visions and that President Nixon will announce the discovery to the world in 3 days during a speech at MIT. Unfortunately for the President they’ve also predicted that the President will be assassinated during said speech, spinning the world into the chaos of mutually assured nuclear destruction.
For the Gateway game this led to the following questions (and answers from the players):
- The assassin will strike during the President’s speech. What will be their primary method?
A prototype robot, unveiled by the President earlier in the speech.
- What did the Apollo missions discover that has led to the assassination attempt?
A clearly unnatural monolith, of unknown origin.
- How are the Russian’s involved? Or are they just scapegoats?
The Russian’s have reprogrammed the robot to stop the US from being able to claim the monolith first.
- Who do you need to find at the diner on Highway 29?
Yuri ‘the defector’ (We left details about Yuri deliberately vague)
- What is Senator Rickman’s role in the plot?
He is a spy for the Russian’s
All in all this provided a good setup, I already had ideas for a number of scenes lined up, such as the diner but until this point I didn’t know who they were meeting or why. The robot, well that threw me but that’s the point of the questions, to mix things up for the GM. All in all, a good start to the game.
Next up, the game itself.
This past weekend I ran Project Cassandra at a convention (Gateway 2015 in Los Angeles) for the first time using a scenario called 4 Minutes to Midnight (I’m thinking of incorporating that into the actual game title). It was the first time I’d brought together all the rules and complete character sheets into a single file, which can now be downloaded from the following link: Project Cassandra Gateway Beta Edition.
A full session report will follow shortly, as soon as I get past the jet lag. Suffice to say it highlighted a few things that worked really well and a few that didn’t. The biggest issue was the target numbers, characters typically had either too many applicable specialities or had virtually none. Coupled with the premonition mechanic whereby they were only rerolling failed dice and it ended up being harder than it should have to challenge the characters. I’ve already started incorporating some relatively simple fixes into the system which should sort these issues, the main changes being:
- Changing the specialities of each character to broaden their scope while reduce the number that can be easily combined
- Premonitions will now re-roll all the dice with the best result being kept
- Remove 1 premonition from each stack (essential for con games)
- Add suggestions for actions requiring multiple successes (such as tough opponents)
All in all the changes aren’t too major and hopefully I’ll be able to incorporate them relatively quickly, after that the next step is artwork and layout.
This is my initial character concept for my first L5R character, Doji Okimoto, a Crane bushi who has lived his life as a political hostage of the Lion clan. While he was still an infant Doji Nanako, Okimoto’s paternal grandmother and a Doji courtier was involved in negotiations between the Crane and Lion clans when she misjudged the temperament of the Lion representative. The resulting fallout led to a series of skirmishes between the clans, which ended with Nanako committing seppuku and her family being held by the Lion clan as living collateral. While the Doji family are typically a social / political family being raised within Lion territory has impacted significantly upon Okimoto’s world view, leaving him conflicted as to the nature of bushido and possessing many Lion values which conflict with his Crane heritage.
Air ring: 3, Awareness: 3, Reflexes: 3
Earth ring: 2, Willpower: 2,Stamina: 2
Fire ring: 2, Intelligence: 2, Agility: 3
Water ring: 2,Perception: 2, Strength: 3
Void ring: 2
Family: Doji (+1 awareness)
School: Matsu Berserker School (Lion)
School Benefit: +1 strength
School Skills: Battle, Jiujutsu, Kenjutsu (Katana), Kyujutsu, Lore: History, Polearms, Defence
Honor: 6.5 though I want to reduce this to 4.5 to fit with the hostage situation
Outfit: Light armour, sturdy clothing, daisho, naginata, travelling pack, 5 koku
Rank 1 technique: The Lion’s Roar. Add your honour rank to all damage rolls. when in full attack stance you may move an additional 5ft in addition to the bonus from the stance
Different school 5
Bad Fortune: Lingering misfortune 3
Doubt: Iaijutsu 4
Kenjutsu (Katana) 1
Polearms (Naginata) 3*
Lore: History 1
Artisan (drawing) 1
Tea ceremony 1
Points left: 2
The 2 Sides: 1 Epic collection is now out over at Happy Jacks, bringing together 50 different adventure outlines. It’s available for download over at the Happy Jacks website.
One of my favourite podcasts Happy Jacks RPG has been running a rather awesome contest recently. Two sides One epic is the challenge to write a full RPG adventure outline that takes up only 2 sides with the aim that all the submissions will be collected together and made available as both a pdf and dead tree book. Given I mostly GM and generally have a few ideas bouncing around my head I submitted two entries which I’m also making available here.
Carriers – A zombie survival adventure set on an isolated army base which is slowly being overrun. Download Carriers
Protocol: Morpheus – A cyberpunk themed murder investigation into a dead body with multiple identities, all of which are still alive. Download Protocol: Morpheus