Saturday, December 28, 2013

Elvis the Son Of Kronos

Here it is the season of Saturn and I am already behind. Well, as anyone might've noticed, I am always behind. And on thing that being a David Bowie fan has taught me is that making classics is easy, but making gems requires a special angle. As in 1996, when Ziggy Stardust was the memory of a torch song while the murder mystery surrounding Nathan Alder, presented on the album Outside, was revving up the "alternative" rock artists of the day, an author needs to know when to work with strengths not glory.

Well when I am not shooting glory straight into my vein (vain glorious), I happen to be typing up a couple bits of composition. 

And Spacers (TM) has turned into Spacers: Universe. I am at about 35 pages of alien species after a dozen pages of "ship rules." I am proud of my reconstructions of popular media science fiction. From Tom Corbin: Space Cadet to Far Scape,  I think my notes have helped me craft a pretty comprehensive sci-fi RPG.

For all the brevity, the next rendition of my "role-playing game for Spacers" has like 49 alien species, random world and inhabitant generators, as well as space-navigating battleships.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

One Night In Parma

Well actually it was a noon until about midnight in Parma, but the effect was the same.

For some two years now, despite friends like Rook and JerryTel being there I have been unable to attend the Holiday Game Bash, which is sponsored by our North Coast Gamers--Cleveland Chapter every year in earlier December. Actually two years I did attend for a couple hours before having to go to work that night, I remember something a large picture of Christ looming over my shoulder and having to sit in a toddler-sized chair while playing in a play-test of early Qalidar. And last year, Pery and I met JerryTel for a brew and late dinner at Applebees after my then new day shift. This year, I resolved to just go ahead and take the day off of work and have someone cover my first 4 hours the next day, to allow for so real game day festivities.

Despite having bad dreams the night before of a homeless hippie wanting to look in my diaper, the 2013 Holiday Game Bash was a pretty awesome game festival. It started at 11am, but we arrived around 11:30 because my game went first at noon. After parking up the road a bit, we didn't see the big parking lot across the street for the Rock City Music Hall where the event was being held, we made our way. Staring as I walked in was an advertisement for my game Crawlspace 13 with a lovely picture of me chugging beer out of a pitcher from GenCon 2012 (actually one of my favorites). Wow, I've never been so promoted before, and I didn't even pay for the honor. We found JerryTel setting up for his run of the board game called Rheinlander, his kraut envy surprises me often. We talked him into having a quick beer, actually he might've had a coke, before things got started.

I set up for "Corporate Raiders" which is my introduction mostly for myself into the cross genre world of time and dimension travel role-playing. I use Robin's (Peryton's) Qalidar: Resistance setting as the scenarios excuse, and this time I even tried to know some of those darn D20 rules of hers. A friend of a friend, JohnM. came over and after a few minutes talked me into running the game that I was there to run. I was reluctant because he was the only player, but Pery jumped in as a Character as well a rules coach. And what a great time it was, I finished Raiders, finally after a false start moths earlier. And that false start has been bugging me because I've never did a time/space travel RPG before. I think everyone else in the game was bored, but I was having a ball. Finally my Pyramid-heads, Glam World special forces, and Sewer Monkeys were able to sing out in their own voices!

After the game we found JerryTel at the bar drowning his sorrows at having successfully sold five more poor souls on the game Rheinlander, who'd probably never be the same again. Actually he was having a coke and checking on English Premier League scores and checking out Trollhalla on his tablet. I was in a celebratory mood so I made everyone, JerryTel and Peryton, have a fermented sugar beverage with me. We had a couple hours to hang out and be dorky gamers, and game designers, as well get to know the bartenders who jumped right in on the fun.

My favorite moment of that afternoon is when I think the owner, or one of them, saw us and the staff having too much fun, so she felt she had to come over and tell the bartenders that "The Game was supposed to be on TV because everyone here are gamers." Everyone in the place had come from the game festival from next door, and no one cared about any of the college football games on the flat screens, though a couple folk had a penchant for heavy metal on the juke box-- the Ohio State game wouldn't be on until 7pm or so.

Robin's Qalidar scenario, "The Typhon Project" drew myself, a fellow who I believe is Ken, not Ben, and the late arriver JerryTel. Robin after getting the basic plot out where we the players had to figure things out, decided she was bored and threw antroids into the adventure just for laughs. I could tell she was improvising, but we still figured out what was going on and everyone at the table was still kind of awestruck.

My "late night" session, starting at 8:30 filled up before 8:10pm, and I had to make sure all minors, all one of them, were ready for r-rated role-playing, meaning his dad was playing as well. And with technicalities finished, my official "non-playtest" of Crawlspace 13's "Party Nights" was underway. It was a very good group of role-players, but to date, I can't say that I've had anything but when it comes to Crawlspace. One of my players, Mary had to slip out early because of family necessity, but I hope she shows at later sessions because she was as strong role-playing as the strongest characters there. Before I knew it, it was 11:30 and time to wrap things up. So things didn't get as gory horror movie-like as they were supposed to, but the players had done a great job. They'll have to see what what the Apogee story-arc for Crawlspace is going to be like.

We closed the evening with a late dinner with JerryTel at Applebees once again. I had a great time and though 14 hours straight and having to be at work the next day is kind of tough, this has to become a yearly tradition. Good job North Coast Gamers. Good job.

Monday, December 02, 2013

On Silly Comic Book Material And Our Current Media Dilemmas

I was hanging with Mik44 and Peryton last Saturday night, always one of the better moments in life to be sure, and we started to pass the time with discussion on superhero movies. We all smiled about the second Thor movie, which didn't mind being a Sphere Fantasy mixed into a Dr. Who season. And then we talked about the Iron Man movies, which are doing so great at showing how billionaires can be likeable guys as well being heavily-armored war machines when they feel threatened. A little tired with this line of thought (is there really going to be a second Avengers movie?), I brought up Batman movies.

The problem that DC (National Comics, err Time-Warner Communications) has is that they hired directors and writers of too much vision.

And while Zach Snyder and D.S. Goyer are most likely bristling at this statement, every reader here knows that both of them are regular subscribers to my blog-- I just know that Putin, Obama, and Danny Woodburn have sock puppets monitoring me-- we all know that Christopher Nolan is taking notes.

Marvel cranks out movies like they're video games, using video game technology anyway, and the producers are as astute throwing in "nods" to the fan boys, and Chinese viewers, as they are about making sure a couple different formula of popular movies are followed. which Marvel's writers and Stan Lee himself already wrote into their scripts of yesteryear. Boy lives at home, Boy meets girl, Boy loses girl, Smart Girls have to be killed... et al. But the folks working on the films like to add their own touches as well. Thor 2 got downright goofy and full of weird sci-fi, that the actual plot was something of a distraction. So much so that the movies makers had to throw in a minute of Chris Evans, to remind everyone that was an Avengers spin-off, not just a chick flik for the wives of Monty Python/Red Dwarf fans.

DC's vision has been much more experimental, with the exception of Superman Returns, which for all its homage to the 70s-80s Superman flix did not go anywhere. They tried Cat Woman as a non-Batman spin off. They did the Watchmen which was anti-hero perspective on the superhero take on things. They even went with Jonah Hex, which still just strikes me as a bad idea to the point I haven't been able to watch it. And Christopher Nolan was encouraged to work in epic-proportions of scale with his Batman works as he made the franchise shake off a score of TV writers and directors and Tim Burton to re-teach an old a trick it already knew. I am not sure who or what was behind the Green Lantern movie, but for some reason its makers decided that special effects and space opera should be toned down and its villains look like something from bad 50 movies.

Okay, I loved the latest incarnation of the Bat-man, Christopher Nolan's one. It was darkness reflected my views about the corruption of the society that I sometimes glimpse around me. It's grittiness has brought many characters from the comic books to life in a world that I can imagine being my own. But the "epicness" had a little more than enough room. The villains become too omniscient and too powerful.

The Dark Knight is my favorite superhero movie to date. But it had the two ferries moral dilemma which was supposed to be a tribute to The Killing Joke story line, but did nothing but put people to sleep by being way too preachy. The hostages and captors turnabout would've been a much better place to leave things at for the Joker and then watching the last bit could have wrapped up the horror of Two-Face as a villain and we can kick and scream for the next "gritty" Batman. From there The Dark Knight Rises only got more preachy while paying less and less tribute to the Aftermath and the ultimately pointless "Bane" subplots in the many pages of the Batman comics.

The latest Superman flik, Man of Steel, was Nolan's attempt at getting beyond the cheesiness of Superman to the real stuff. And once the real stuff was gotten to, he wanted to kill it so that the franchise could begin anew. Ummm... I liked the movie, but Superman doesn't kill. This movie is not going to be the basis for DC to start coming into the limelight of real actors in front of cameras silverscreen movie-going phenomena that the Marvels have been.

The folks at DC and the movie production companies wanting to make their movies should not be thinking about the Justice League movie just yet. They should be focusing on the name sakes getting movies that prep the audience watching not to be looking at DC's version of the Avengers movie.

Batman can use a couple "krimi flx" under his belt, maybe introducing Nightwing and the Huntress, facing against Poison Ivy and Hugo Strange. The comic series Gotham Underground, the comic series that showed me that Dr Freeze was a felon not a fop, should be airing on AMC right after the Walking Dead.

Superman could take a break after the predestined World's Finest, it's kind of Superman fits into the whole superhero picture anyway. Or heck, Superman facing off against the AI behind the Terminator movies would fill up space.

Green Lantern could re-start with science, space opera, as well as his love of Carol Ferris instead of Top Gun-meets-the Muppets.

Wonder Woman and her sisters actually won WII, and she's never lost her femininity. And her transistion into the modern age wouldn't have to be followed by as many apologies to everyone not in the Republican Party in 1957 as a certain captain that we all know of.

If nothing else the Flash and the Green Arrow can show in the AMC TV show.

Hawkman and Hawk Woman, come on. Does Thor get all the chick flik/sphere fantasy writers in the world? I don't think so. The first Thor should've been a web-series anyway, so this project could be the best meeting of Harry Potter and Wuthering Heights online to date.

There is just so much more to be done before the Justice League movie gets made. DC has always had better rounded characters and earth-shattering problems than Marvel. The latter was always more about friends fighting, then first kisses, then smart chicks dying, and then relatives in the hospital. DC had all the great archetypes and dilemmas and worked things out from there.

And don't get me started about getting a decent Shazam movie in there one of these days.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Drag of Gravity In Fall

I cannot go to Carnage this year. Peryton is depressed and looking at knots in trees instead of climbing them. Cohorts are distracted. If it weren't for bad news, I'd have no luck at all.

I think I am capable of handling things. I'll let you know later.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

And Now About Ben Affleck As the Bat-Man

As much as I love Christian Bale I have always loved Adam West. And as much as I hated Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck has the jaw. Don't expect a lot of rage out of me since I supported Heath Ledger as the Joker after I hated the choice of Jack Nicholson. Allow me my churlishness, but I am more surprised that the next big DC movie is based on World's Finest themes and the usual incoherent Frank Miller tripe, not the interesting stuff.

Okay, Frank Miller might really rock with his self-hating view of the world with works about Marvel comics Wolverine or three hundred scantily-clad Spartan warriors, but not everybody who likes DC comics agrees. Beyond looking to retarded views of the 1930s as the justification for your mindset in life, for Batman, and Superman, he sucks. He doesn't do much for any real Batman fan. And I am not sure where the man ever did anything for any Superman reader.

Now some Time Warner sponsored writer is going to point out the Miller theme of Superman and Batman fighting. These writers will point out that is always what superheroes do in the comic books of their youths. What they forget to point out is that they were reading Marvel Comics, and never really liked DC comics. Disagree? Prove me wrong? DC heroes tended to really like one another, and Superman and Batman never fought until they were both about 90 years old in a world that resembled Mitt Romney's version of a brave, new world.

It kind of pisses me off, even more, that everyone holds DC to a standard that they do not hold Marvel comics to when it's about films. Spider Man appeals to the 14 year-old movie goer, while the Iron Man appeals to ever shrinking crowd of casual comic readers with wives and kids, and daydreams of illicit affairs-- like James Bond, but silly. A franchise of really bad movies can culminate in a really spectacular marketing campaign that culminates in the Avengers being made. And we forgot about it the next year despite the best efforts of a bunch of PHDs thinking Iron Man 3 was awesome.

Do not talk to me about the money behind anything. Marvel comics' Electra was competing with DC's Cat Woman, and the production crews showed that they were out of touch not anything good to watch. But somehow DC character movies are either not the mainstream DC (The Watchmen and Jonah Hex) or are simplistically trying bad movie tricks. It worked for Batman but it hasn't worked for Superman nor anybody else. And this trend ignores the strength of the folks around the brand misplaced  conceptions based off of the last Marvel movie. And the Hollywood formula is only only providing us with substandard Green Lanterns and crap about Thor.

Now I have explained my problems, but if you want to hear what I think would be better, let me know. I do have some ideas.

GenCon '13: Aftwards

Bluebirds: Monday morning went smoothly. I was able to get the car and head out quickly. We had brunch with McLea and Power Girl. I used the morning to reacquaint with him. Peryton so loves hanging with her brother and sister-in-law. Amy turned her menu into a GM's shield and we played the last game of GenCon 2013. I am not making anything up here. And tamales, tacos, and pancakes were had. There was much rejoicing. We almost forgot that we were on parking-metered time.

On the way home, we stopped off at JerryTel's house for a sit down. The man was in his undies and sucking up air conditioning and soccer. Obviously, imploding a day before I could. The bastard.We made plans for Peryton's B-Day festivities in October.

And Upon the End of Things: I wasn't able to hang with friends like Ken St Andre, Todd Rooks, or Jeff Combos. But I'll work on that next year.

Many of my other friends don't get GenCon anymore it would seem. Monk no longer likes running into strangers. The Butkas are busy raising a family. The folks that I know that do come find the event's immensity rather daunting and detracting from me spending time with them. None of these situations I can answer to, except that, I'll make time for anyone on Sunday night after GenCon AT 7:30 PM AT THE BOURBON STREET RESTAURANT.

GenCon '13: Nooks and Crannies

The Hotel:  I keep having very favorable impressions of this place though there is some cognitive dissidence going on. Well, the place is trying to sell itself as the 1920s beset by the 21st Century that has happened to fall around its ears. For the most part I get it.
My room was nice single with a large-assed bed with a little room to move around because they were able to remove the TV cabinet for a flat screen. But if you opened the front door, people could stare at your wife stepping out of the shower... without her and you being paid first. And resort-style services, like towel replacement or someone nice at the front desk, was dependent upon the people on the clock whenever you thought to bother them.
The pub and grub joint was stepping up, even if they weren't quite certain who was supposed to be reading the menu that the hotel management was making them hand out. I speak to a certain chef, or cook, or whatever dude standing in front of an open flame with a spoon, who made a wait person walk back twice to show that the menu promised "Biscuits and Gravy All Day" on Sunday morning. Don't get me wrong here, the Canterbury's restaurant bar is wildly world class in essence. Luckily the staff doesn't know it, because it was one nice place to hang out for the likes of me. Even if I was the one guy who didn't order scrambled eggs for breakfast.

At the same, I'd be awoken at 5:15am by sulfur fumes from a dump truck outside after falling asleep at 4:10am. The maids liked to hide clocks after setting their alarms, while not picking up towels. And then there was a telephone in my bathroom. Hard core space utilization. Hard to say if I like the place or not. Apparently the hotel is still trying to figure things out.

The Bonfire: As parties go. I really have nothing to complain about. And in case that you haven't noticed, I'm into parties. Whether or not you're into them, I am not all that concerned. And if you haven't noticed yet, we need to make this clear (Sligo).

Old Home Eve (the night before the convention), was a success. Peryton wanted Cladagh as our spot, I ensured it. Bruce Wayne made sure that we got there. Eloy Lasanta, John Kenedy, Jerry Telehe, Robin Fenner (Caed) and about 18 other folk showed up to show how much fun can be had on the night before GenCon. This year, other folks friends added on about 6 others, I think the pictures are available elsewhere... . John the waiter mentioned that the table was reserved for 14, not 22 at the end of the night. I think I made things right.

The after party of Old Home Eve is worthy of mention. I was hanging with JerryTel, Caed, and Sligo (F. Scott Grant) after the big party and reconnecting with reconnecting with them. Luckily, when Sligo wasn't worried about about being burnt at the stake for being a Christian, he was trying to sell Amway through a game that he was designing, and then after that he was more than willing to hang out with debauchees. I frankly was being provocative. The other two friends waded through things with notable patience. But it was still a good after party.

By not running a "Cthulhu versus the Ratpack" scenario, a group of folk decided to not talk to me. I suspect this handful of folk were responsible for my no-shows on Friday for a game that was sold-out.  During the day before at the booth, I noticed each of you that scrambled by making sure to give me ominous stares. Well, I am working on something else these days. I've had you go up against Yog Sothoth, Dagon, and Glaaki. You've resurrected important personages and had a remake of The Highlander. What have you got in your pocket? I'll play in it, just let me know.

Two, no three times I held JerryTel up while I found things to party with him about. Running next to him was awesome for that. We definitely have to make this a tradition. I had the most fun when it was him, David, Cram and me discussing intricate T&T details after my Saturday night game.

That same evening, I got to know a lot of the bikers in Indy for the weekend. Jordan, Batman, pulled me to a bar about half a mile away from where I was running games. We didn't end up getting any beer because apparently bikers en mass don't drink beers darker than Bud. But hey, I didn't drink but I got to dance before getting back to my games.

Now the break on Saturday between 9-Midnight is notable. First off, it was a surprise. As you might have noted before, I dropped off a single player showing up at my game off at Peryton's Qalidar session. But I headed back to the Canterbury's bar. They had, according to the menu that got me into so much trouble over the weekend, "Live Jazz."

Michael, me, and the ever sexy Victoria.
And once again the restaurant-bar did not fail to provide . The live jazz was provided by a trio of music students, from probably the best of Indianapolis-based students of higher culture. How would I know this? Because I heard the best renditions ever of Blue Note records from 35 years ago, sticking to how the songs were originally played. I closed my eyes to hear how the trio was doing rendering some classics. But every time I peeked, certain people were watching me enjoy the music being played. Finally, I just opened my eyes. Though not anybody working the bar would've noticed that I was isolated. This is because people wanted to talk. 

From there, the party of Saturday night started creeping towards me. The band had stopped playing while gamer dorks thrust forward to work their magic on the female saxophone player and the cellist. The drummer had nothing else to do so he just drank. So, from my single chair in the bar, I ended up getting intimate with Steve Bergeron, his beautiful and learned wife Cait, Cameron MacDonald and the every sexy Ashley Dinning. And this group was hanging with Chris Birch of Achtung Cthulhu fame. I ran into Steve and Angelia Parenteau from Carnage, which only made matters worse. Now more people wanted to party because I was hip with gamer hepcats. Not a good night for music. And though I wanted to fall into the spiral that is the Ennie awards and being an insider gamer at the Canterbury, I had a midnight game to get to. Amazingly, my drinks and socializing worked right on schedule, as I went into radio news mode, a job I had in college. I was not late to the game.

The whole of Sunday was pretty much a party. Peryton made a point that it was her day to open the booth. I chatted up a fellow at Canterbury's restaurant while enjoying their Sunday special of "Gravy and Biscuits All Day". Then Jordan and I did lunch with James and Dawn Sutton, Sligo and Cram showed up just in time to come along as well. We did the lounge at the Crown, funny how popular that place is for folks trying to avoid the crowds.

The booth breakdown took all of 15 minutes, which took Colts Gal (Jordan's Amy) and Bruce Wayne by surprise, as they had ordered lunch at the Canterbury while waiting for us. Sligo and Jordan had some secret scheme that was going to make everyone very happy. Peryton threw her support in because she was on a buzz from her massive successes this year. So it was a "Let's make a non-Tom plan" kind of like party. When it entailed no one being able to rest or eat at a nice sit-down place without games in front of them, it mostly just annoyed everyone that was not Sligo or Jordan. But I did get to demo a game that was pretty awesome called Spark 500.

Back in the car I felt compelled to lecture Jordan that I didn't like being driven around to meet local friends of his who didn't feel compelled to go out of their way to meet me either, while sticking to some haphazard schedule that kept me busy after a long weekend of keeping to a strict schedule and talking to strangers who wanted to talk to me. Constantly maximizing potentials works with investment and in maybe in corporate social functions, not people on a vacation. If only Caed was around, she is very good at seeing these sorts of situations coming. She'd have whispered to me, "Go catch a nap" before I agreed to the group dynamics of earlier. She is my youngest sister for a reason.

At Bourbon Street, and on time, the place where I told a number of people that I was going to be that evening. It'd seem that none of my intimates wanted to be there, though no one had told me, except Cram. I had the pleasure of being dumped off on the corner with Peryton and McLea and his Amy, while the Indianapolis natives sped off for elsewhere. Mike and Amy were kind of the lost souls in all of this. They had just wanted to go out to eat, but the man's leg is a little gimpy and the restaurant is about a mile from our hotel. We thought that we were going to have to call a cab not having our own rides. Luckily Jordan swung by again, wanting to say good night properly. He gave the two a ride back to Canterbury, the spot that he had had his second lunch in three hours, watching them starve while waiting for him to drive them to where they thought they were going to get diner earlier. McLea and I would speak of the afternoon's events where he'd conclude, "You and I were the only two people that knew what we wanted, while everyone else drove."

Now able to sit back and enjoy the evening with Peryton, and a couple from Arizona and another from Kentucky, which I can't name for "game security" reasons, we were having fun again. Being out on the balcony was awesome. A bikers' party and our own blended together, and jokes about the structure collapsing commenced when a fellow named Alex expressed anxiety feeling a little bounce when rumbling vehicles, like his own motorcycle, went by.

After our new traditional walk from the Bourbon Street to where ever we are staying, we hooked up with McLea and his Amy, let's call her Power Girl from now on for obscure reasons. Cocktails were had, and I played butler with cheese and crackers. I got a kick when I realized that their bathroom had a window just meters away from a walkway to the mall. With the shades open the whole world could admire my awesomeness. Pity no one was there at that time. One has to love the Canterbury.

Friday, August 23, 2013

GenCon '13: Is it Satyrday Yet?

The Fireworks: Did you hear that I like to run games?

Well, I happened to run only eight of those this year. A measly 26 hours worth of labor at that. But these substitutions for having any real life seems to make up for everything else missing elsewhere in my life. Let's talk about these sessions for a bit.

I used T&T to get the blood flowing on Thursday night. Had a pretty good handful of players, three, jumping in to play "The Sorceress and the Chimera." A kid, below the age of not being protected by privacy traditions, if not actual laws, in Western culture, flattered me by figuring out the math that I was playing with. Yes the 8th grader might have not been doing calculus but she did make the gamer "geeks" around her look like posers. I am sure it's Obama's fault.

Smart kid, her dad, and guy nice enough to show up.

The late-night game "Bigger Than a Breadbox" for my Crawlspace 13 game went off well. Not only did I have a full table, I had my sister Caed Phaser, Robin Fenner, there. Zach is a DJ and one of the hosts of Rockin' Comics, both the podcast and a website domain. He brought a friend, Rob, who I am going to make a friend. Then a couple other players showed up while one of them happened to be distractingly beautiful. I had to remind myself not to stare at her more than anybody else. She would actually play with my avoiding gaze showing me how neurotic that I was being. After a few minutes, after I established that everyone there was important (TALK ABOUT A MASTER OF BRETCH, Dr. Nik). Then I got more casual.
Oddly enough, that looker was only going to be around for an hour before flitting elsewhere. The game ran 40 minutes over, the looker stayed for the whole BBQ and I was running around asking "What did I miss?" to the players. Even more stranger I did not need to rewrite my plot, because the players never went off the script that I had in head.
These players were so into their roles that even when they were hiding underneath tables, which I did not tell them to do, they'd stay in character as everyone else would hear the tones of the dialog going on, though nobody knew what was being said exactly. The players above the table would suddenly burst into a new scene.  For the second time in this rendition of Crawlspace's lifespan, I had to deal with tabletop role-players suddenly becoming actors.Once again, I was a GM looking at the unleashed results of Stanislavsky-influenced methods in his story, I kind of feel like Frankenstein when this happens. I think that I kept up admirably.
The next day I found out that the looker from Doug Jean, Zach, and Rob, that the rather stunning role-player was actually a working actress by the name of Jordan Trovillion. Well I am about to take a sudden interest in Tom Cruise films. Hopefully, Crawlspace 13 will be graced with her presence again. She can even show up at a Old Home Eve if she really has to.

On Friday I started out with my single entry for Spacers (TM), which is currently in transition, called "Attack Of the Androids." The three players that I had adapted better than most when they realized that I had baited and switched them. Instead of a battle against androids they got the moral and ethical considerations of their actions when dealing with fully articulated artificial intelligence. I really want to keep in touch with these three players. The evening's offering of T&T had another three players with "The Temple of Pan." I think I sucked as a GM, the players flatteringly added a lot to the story and showed themselves so awesome adventure gamers. I made a break through in a certain "bronze-age" work that I have been at for some time. And lest I forget, the quote "Is it Satyrday yet?"  came up at 11:30pm. No one showed up for my "Hopelessly Lost" scenario for Crawlspace 13 except a fellow from Philly named Mark. I, despite being worried about not having any players for a midnight game, told the young man, that he was invited back the next next night.

Saturday was an unexpected bag of fixings to say the least. My early evening T&T game "Who's that Demigod? " had five players show up with the their their preregistered tickets. Another showed up with his friend's ticket. Yet another three showed up with generics asking for admittance to my game. And I while I had three people that knew how to play the T&T game, I had three with pre-registered tickets that were sampling the game having never played it before. I Was a little stressed. But with well-worked GM techniques and three folk dropping out of the game from texts from close family or friends, I think I did marginally well. Only one person showed up for Glow's "Out of the Bubble" with which I tossed him over to Peryton's Qalidar scenario going on at the same time. I had a bit of a party that I'll talk about later.  Mark showed up for the Crawlspace 13 midnight session, and I cheated at the cards to make sure that he'd be significant character in the story. And though I was suffering from late players and a bit of Godzilla gut, not any ill effects from my three hour hard-drinking party minutes before, there was a decent scenario to be had.

The reader should note that all my impressions are subjective.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GenCon '13: Tie Me To the Length Of That

Our Time As a Piece of Wax: "Premier Group" status for Peryton Gamers at GenCon was for me a perk for doing what I'd be doing anyway. I run games. It is what I do. Others do other things. JerryTel has assumed a role of responsibility as a PeryPubber, he's basically what could be called a "Convention Event Organizer" for us. Peryton mostly bathes in steamy mud and eats bonbons.  Now Pery, Jerry, and me all get our badges elsewhere but because of all the games that we ran on top of our badge sources, identified members of our group, Tom's Admiring Horde (Look it up for yourself), could get their own badges for time rendered at the booth and/or as GMs.

Now the fact that those promised free GM badges came at a 67% success of showing up and doing what those wanting the badges said that they'd like to do does not escape me. Luckily, I was not staying up nights like JerryTel who was living with this everyday. So next year, we'll do more of a "Show Up, Do It, and get paid cash money" sort of strategy. Though there are six folk who are on the "Insider" track, if not "Blood Relative," for free badges next year.

To quote JerryTel over Guinness Dark Lagers at Champions on Saturday, "Let's celebrate the one and only year in the premier league." But considering our performances in the past before this year as well as this year, I bet, even despite changes as to what being a premier group means, that we didn't do that terrible. Lemme whisper something, "I know people who tell me things."

Whether or not we get "premier status" next year tends to be a bit beyond the likes of JerryTel, Robin, or myself. But statistic-wise, we did not worse than anyone else with fewer than a million bucks. And for the intangibles, we had plenty of them.

My main point is, is that a tagline for PeryPubbers should be, "We don't work the system. The system works us." But in truth, we never feel the tug. We tend to be already doing what makes folks happy and willing to give good feedback. Like us or Hate us, guess what!?! We are there.
All that said; if you yanked my chain, I don't really give a damn. But buck up if you want to be show up at GenCon as someone with privilege. Think about it, we got your real name, the one with the photo that you'd have had to show up someplace that you committed to being at. Or you can start talking to someone more hippy than us.

The Grind: Our games though, were going kind of spectacularly awesome.

This was Robin's year. Every running of Qalidar: The Resistance sold out. And the premier print version, available only at GenCon, damn nearly sold out. We have like three in a box with a dozen dibs on them. In shared wanderings, I heard that someone ( a "furry" ) offered her minutes to cuddle with him, and four others with pointy ears and tails to boot, for a copy. But one needs to make a commitment and have cash on hand. Sorry Dolitltes, the woman works hard and expects some respect.

Still, "We" had a very good year. And to translate to the I-Phone generation, we had a very good !!!!!! :-) year.

W. Scott Grant ran a wonderful T&T adventure, which from all feedback, two sources to date, did wonderful. Every one of Jerry Teleha's did rather awesome.  Michael C. Lea, MC Lea, rocked the house with superheroes, from three sources no less. Mine did well, and had a couple gems in the middle of the grind.

Mostly what I garnered from my lackluster performances was material for up-coming works.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Years As a Piece of Wax: GenCon '13

A Trip Through Cornfields

Last Tuesday night, about ninety minutes after I punched out at my day job, Peryton and I had the car packed and ready to go. So with an early night-feeding of the cats we were off. Having gone down to Indianapolis a couple weeks earlier we drove through Toledo and then towards Defiance and Forth Wayne to get there. Either the route is just new to us, or the loop around Columbus and then the crawl through the Dayton area just suck, but even 35 miles longer, the trip went by quickly and we weren't in rigor mortis by the time we arrived at Jordan's, Bruce Wayne's, house at 3:15 am or so. The door was open so we found our nooks after a a quick "Hello. Grab a beer!" scene with our host. He acted like he went to sleep, but I bet the Penguin was up to no good.

I think Robin was rearranging her purse until 7:30am or so.

And Let's Begin the Began

The Booth: Grabbing the badges, setting up the booth, checking in to the hotel, with a lunch break went rather efficiently. Last minute items like getting our posters hung and a couple cozy chairs I'd have to be a bit more patient with. The posters got taken care of about an hour after we opened and the chairs arrived sometime in Thursday afternoon. But overall we had more than enough help and friends willing to come by keep us company. I think on Friday I felt a little overworked but luckily James and Dawn Sutton were right next door. Eloy Lesanta, of Third Eye Games, and Jeff Combos, of Exile Games, both two game designers that I want to be when I grow up, would plop down in a chair and we'd chat a little shop as well as just talk. But overall, there was always some PeryPubber, or "Blood Relative" to coin a term I coined dragging James Sutton off for a drink, ready to jump aboard and help out at anytime.

As for sales and the general impression we were trying to make. Our spot had a general public book shelf right behind us, so we turned our book shelf inward to share a shopping aisle with the ever full Studio 2 shop. Our area was saved for a sit down area where spontaneous parties, as well as study halls, would break out. I joked with many people that "Last year we worked too hard sitting behind a table like we were recruiting Scientologists. This year we're raising the bar in laziness." I threatened that we'd shoo away anybody looking at our books.

That said what was really going on was that I've noticed that sales in the context of role-playing games is 89% name recognition, 10% art and/or shocking title, and 1% salesmanship.  We'd get busy on the game tables, usually after 1pm for me. No need to be uncomfortable when waiting for nibbles on top of being under-slept and usually hungover. And my own face-to-face sales percentage increased by 250-7,ooo% over last year. ...Peryton probably is thinking 'I told you so' as she reads this.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GenCon Is Never Going To Be Easy

About seven months ago I had close to 2K in American greenbacks as a bit of a nest egg for this year's GenCon. And even after paying for the PeryPub booth and the 2013 Dark Gather, including the bells and whistles, I had about about 1,400 left to play with. And then around April an insidious scheme to relieve me of my breathing space ensued.

Despite my measures, my bills and even my own projects, ensured that I'd once again be on a tight budget. And then there was the unexpected adventure with Jerry.

Well thanks to my Kindle Fire, all of my scenarios are in a carrier that fits into my front pocket. It's a little heavy and I should be staggering drunk every GenCon after my 45th birthday, but I'll survive. Or I won't. Trust me I am happy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We're Getting Too Good at This: Dark Gathering '13

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

To make up for missing so many calls and texts from the day before, I got myself out of bed around 9:45. And no one else was made any noise before noonish. I had forgotten that Peryton had brought my laptop with her for me to use, so it remained sitting in a corner while I mostly read some Emile Zola short story because it hurt my hands to type anything on my Kindle's typing program. Sitting out in the hotel's lobby was crowded and a bit over air-conditioned, so I ended up back in the room observing the the Rituals Peryton Awakening. There might've been some napping as well, who can say?

At noon, Hrothgar was running his signature game Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein with an aptly named scenario called "Roll Up! Roll Up!" Which I had to miss, I think the dude put his games where I couldn't get in them. Robin and I both had signed up for the Kruppa's "The Inheritance" using CoC. The point of Kruppa Hoot is indeed to get a chance to play in an Andre Kruppa game, after all. But it meant that I wouldn't get to play in any of his games this year. I think it was an indicator at how things are starting to mix and grow at these gatherings in Syracuse.

Inheritance was designed for Peryton though the author probably didn't know it. I don't want to give up much, but it was a daydream come true for her.  I think Ccrabb got a chance to say as little as possible as she had played in the session before. I got a chance to try my hand at more than one character. I took a look at my two characters and made some character decisions and hit the game running. The character that would've made things hard on Peryton died quickly trying to be a hero. The other, a bit of a narcissist and too clever for his own good, ended up helping out Peryton's character. The ending was ugly, not because of any bad GM technique. Not at all, but because we led it there. Andre was in awesome form acting out treants gone wrong and giving depth to minor characters. Well minor characters about to have their hearts ripped from their heaving chests. It was very gory and hopelessly depressing, Peryton was smiling.

All We Ever Got Was Tomato Sauce

Dinner at Tullys, because Carnegie's was closed. Having had the chicken everything else, I went for the whole nine yards and had the chicken Parmesan. As much as I dislike getting stuck in ruts, this last dinner to end all Dark Gathering 13 dinners was a success. Okay there is something said about comfort food in a cozy spot done repeatedly.And whatever Tully's is doing with their chicken is proof of that.

Hrothgar was running Crawlspace in a scenario called "Beer Run." This ran opposite of my own Crawlspace game "Cigarette," which had been posted months before David even thought of a game to run let alone what slot. So I really guess the man just hates having me as a player.

Then again, he knows of the Last Game Curse at the Hoots. The year before I was his Last Game Curse, I was really too tired to play so my character was an ass. Here I showed skill with characterization but I left all the major play to the players around me. And I was only being one of the things that make up the Last Game Curse in smaller gamer gatherings. But I am meandering here.

The Tomato In the Theater Revolution

Did I mention that Andre Kruppa, THE KRUPPA, decided not to run on Sunday night? And not only decide not to run on Sunday night, he decided to play in my game? This is a major coupe in the GM mile stones of my life. Last year I had Dr Nik and Dr Watts (Nik Palmer and Tyler Dion) both accomplished GMs jump in on my game last year. All of the GMs mentioned here are part of the reason why I have been impressed with the New England gaming scene since I stumbled upon it some five years ago. And the Kruppa is a rarer fish than most, and finicky in the extreme.

Since its rough draft, Cigarette was a good game to showcase as what I am going for with the Crawlspace horror RPG. Its title required a prop, if only as an eye piece. The story that would unfold could not be garnered from the scenarios name. And I had a good idea as to where it would go. Despite it being the last night of a Hoot, nothing was going to diminish that.

Just the cast of players was proof it. Rainbow, Peryton, and Wotan, probably the best "method role-players" I have met in two decades were there. And though she is too shy to admit it, CCrabb is as capable as the best of them. This is all with The Kruppa settling in to exercise his player muscles as well. At this point I should correct an error I have written earlier, Andre Kruppa has quite an extensive history in theatrical productions-- he just humors me as I rant about obscure stage movements. Along with a little lighting help, some Brecht-influenced RPG drama with players that practice Stanislavski's truths was going to unfold.

Now what happens in Crawlspace is that players assume the personalities of Actors trapped in a universe of B horror movies. Despite the obvious camp involved in the premise, I feel I have nothing to apologize for. Like humor is a helpful tool for getting a point across, a theatrical convention can be used to help getting repeat Characters from one horrifying and often fatal scenario to another. And most movie Actors would love to have the control of their Characters as most role-players do in any given scenario. Bringing two mindsets together, I think, will be just the thing for getting the best players and GMs together for some masterpieces of horror role-playing. And hopefully my handful of card tricks will provide a decent parlor game as the mechanics.

What can I say about how Cigarette turned out in play? Well, it went directions I never imagined. I was a tired and cranky by the end of the scenario. Because of the very capable and rule-twisting minds around me, the whole session made it worthwhile. And Wotan definitely understood what I was trying for. He is the biggest influence on many of my rule revisions. But I still want to complain to the Kruppa and Dr Nik for making me think that "play-testing" helps. It does, but sheesh. The hobby is like work sometimes.

I am playing. The evening's session was awesome. I am not sure how it gets done, but I know some of the best role-players ever.

The after-party started up as soon as I brought up the lights. Hrothgar's family was in town so he swung in for a second then slipped out. I was able to speak with the Sorrentinos. And things were jamming. Peryton got tired earlier, so I slipped out with her. Unlike our arrival, we left together. The keys to a happy marriage: write for the same magazines and like to spend some time together.

And so ended the 2013 Dark Gathering.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Way Things Should Be: Dark Gathering '13

The Promise of a New Day With Headaches

Though I kept waking about every 40 minutes from about 7:15am on, my phone wasn't buzzing at me so I made myself keep napping until about 10:30am. I then I realized, I had no idea where my phone actually was. So after a shower and an aspirin, more for old age than a hangover, I was wandering around the hotel and knocking on doors like a meth addict looking for a lighter. Probably not as dramatic as that, because most of the time I spent having morning tea with Wotan and Rainbow in their room. The phone was in Doc Time and Kalts' room. I had left it on the gaming table to not miss phone calls from Peryton the night before.

Returning to our room at noon, I kicked the bed where Peryton still slumbered as best she could and mentioned that she was running at 1pm. I am going to diverge a little here. One of the topics of catching up between Hrothgar and myself on Thursday was a bit about the ins and outs of being a drunk. I pointed out that Peryton just wasn't drinking all that much anymore.
"I think she's hinting at something." I told David with a sad aspect.
"She's telling you to pick up the slack of course." He replied with a wink and chuckle.

Apparently, he was right. I was pretty bright and chipper and having a beer at noon, and the poor woman was acting like I had just boiled essential salts and reconstituted her ashes from the wreckage Hindenburg. While she did have a couple drinks the night before, I don't remember her being as warm and toasty as I have seen her before. So it is true, I guess. Boy, she'll be sooo happy to hear this.

Tony and Stephanie Sorrentino around 12:30 or so. Maybe they were there earlier, I didn't see them until around that time. Peryton's Robinhoo game, "Secrets of the Silver Grove" and the Kruppa's "The Jazz Man" Lucid Dreams scenario both were moved back to later starting times. Sheesh 1pm is too early for us Hooters these days, boy we know how to party.

Shaking Hands and Soccer Updates

I played in Peryton's Silver Grove and was happier than I have been in a while with her sessions. She was extremely nervous, but when things got going, it turned out to be a rollicking adventure for of weirdness and special effects (figurative ones) fun. No really. I cannot tell you how much fun I was having, and I was playing a character I didn't even like. I got to beat up Ken-doll stormtroppers and watch sun flare sentients shred their skins all while saving my beloved Aunt Betty from kidney robbers. Now it would've been better with my Pyramid-heads and Sewer-Monkeys thrown in, but hey nothing is ever perfect. Of course, my role-playing style was complimented by the practiced naturalism of Wotan and Petra, and the quizzical nature of Hrothgar. It was a nice coming together of an interesting setting, and four high caliber role-players, well three and a half since I was involved. 

During the game, JerryTel was kind enough to text me commentary on the bayern Munchen versus Borussa Dortmund Champion's final. It was really kind of awesome. Monk jumped in asking for details on the get-together. I felt like Baron Munchhausen getting telegraphs from other far-off adventurers.

Dinner was at Tully's. I was not enjoying myself as much as I would've liked because of problems with the seating but the place's chicken made up for that. The Kruppa's group showed up after a while, but we couldn't really share a table, so we bid adieu until the after-party.

That evening I played in Wotan's "Lost on Echo Mountain- What Remains" for Call of Cthulhu. Now this man has been talking about crafting this scenario since I met him at Lake Morey last November. He always sounded to me a little insecure about GMing after so many years of not doing so. What I didn't know is that the man is a liar. Echo Mountain was an awesome game to play in. It was very much like when I was first exposed to CoC scenarios, in its detail and drama. And the plot flips, not twist or tilts. This was some pretty hardcore horror role-playing where Delta Green players would feel comfortable. I frankly liked everything about this yarn. The twist and the creatures involved, but mostly Scott's well handled action at the climax. We all died, but we never knew we were beat until we were beat. Very well handled "violence."

Andre's "Executive Meeting" Lucid Dream's session went fast, I hear, which for him means like five hours. Apparently Stephanie S. who I also hear is new to this adventure gaming thing, sat back, took notes, and then kicked ass. I have so little information on this game, or Tony and Stephanie S for that matter, I cannot say much. I did hear that rules worked "without a glitch" from someone in this game.

The after party ... well... it was "good." Actually it was great, we all pretty much had worked out our nervous energy the night before. Rainbow had provided us with a cheese and grapes platter, which was the best meal that I had had in a while. Total decadent indulgence there. Tony and Stephanie were there to say "hi" to a bit more. CCrabb, Hrothgar, and I started a game of musical chairs to start up conversations with everyone, but mostly to try and get the comfy chair. Everyone disappeared early, well 3:30, which gave me, the Kruppa, and Ccrabb a night cap together, which is always good for the soul.

At 4:45 I was back in my room, in its comfy chair, and had just finished reading Doc Time's Time Shredders. All was quite, even the wedding reception and the local kids partying away a Saturday night had died down. I was in a good place.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

40 Degrees Means Party Time: Dark Gathering '13

"In Russia Time is Travel and Distance Makes Rate"

Between 7:30 and 8:00, the Friday evening games took off, not on schedule by any means, but that is because it didn't matter. Gatherings, hoots, are like a retreat for conventioneers needing to relax from obsessive compulsion disorders. The Kruppa's "Mystery At Knobbe Hill," using his Lucid Dreams game engine, I believe, grabbed most of us. While Brandon and Don, Doc Time and Kalt from here on, pulled Ccrabb and me into "The Night Sculpture," for their Time Shredders RPG. At the same time Peryton was en route from Cleveland, and nice enough to call me at various points along the drive-- in case I got lucky with one of the housekeeping staff, I wanted plenty of warning after all.

I was really impressed with the Sculpture. It was a pretty horrific bang 'em up/shoot 'em up that us gamers love using an idiosyncratic but established time travel milieu, that I found seductive. I got to play a KGB agent from 1978 while everyone else played a veteran time traveler, so I had even more fun-- my fake Russian is awesome. And my agent already on the ragged edge of things, caught on quickly. The title to this section is a quote of which I am particularly proud of. Right around 9:30pm Peryton showed up, and watched the final quarter of the session.

You are going to hear more from me about this game. I intend on transferring about 90 pages of material to the Time Shredder system, after some of it goes to Qalidar first. I am thinking of a Time Travel hoot in 2014 in Rhode Island. Mind you, this will not replace the Dark Gathering. More on this other times.

Some time after midnight, Andre's game wrapped up. Everyone was quite impressed with his rules, I could tell by the beaming smiles. And the after-party ensued. Now in case you haven't heard, the Cleveland-New England connection is a bit famous, maybe even infamous, for our after-parties. And this one was no exception. The night's dancing horse was a "Levels: Love Them? Hate Them?" debate, performed with grand theatrics and high rhetoric. It's kind of a blur to me, but I do remember swearing that I could survive two heart attacks or something. Peryton was all smiles, and she was happy to be among our friends, which is what made me exceptionally happy.

I think the night wrapped up around 4:30 for me. Not sure.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Piecing the Dark Gathering 2013

Besides my need of a vacation the portents for this year's Dark Gathering indicated nothing but it being awesome.

Flight By Night

As some of you might've heard, I traveled by bus to Syracuse. Folks were showing up early, Hrothgar as early as Wednesday night. Peryton wasn't going to take any time off of work, heck she wasn't even going to leave town earlier than 4:30 on Friday.  I hadn't taken some time off of my schedule for long enough that I was going stir crazy. Staying in town for Thursday and Friday just wasn't an option for me though. I opted for a late Wednesday night departure, I always like night travel when I am not driving. Not much to speak of here, the trip wasn't unpleasant and chatted up and befriended, not the Facebook way, a couple kids. One was going to see her boyfriend while the other was coming home from seeing hers. It did reaffirm my dislike of the Amish, they tend to be rude and huddle in mobs-- don't they have horses or Mennonites or something to ride around on? Folks had to repeatedly have to ask them to move piles of their collective luggage from in front of cell-phone charging spots and water facets. Those that are on the same bus, also like to block off a whole section of seating for themselves. And then move around the bus looking to put their feet up after they realize how much they crowded themselves in earlier.

Thursday morning proved to be bit of fun and discovery. The bus routes to Syracuse go right past the Maplewood Hotel, and the bus station itself is only about three miles down the road. And there is a diner less than a quarter mile away from the terminal that opened early and had WiFi to amuse myself with. I phoned Hrothgar at the crack of dawn to let him know I was in town. While we electronically formulated plans, I figured out how to download free map and weather apps onto my Kindle, just in case I ended up having to hike it to the hotel. I was like living in a world of cyberpunk with omelets and coffee.

Hrothgar and wife, and one of their kids, showed up for breakfast in a bit. It was a pleasure meeting her. I thought I knew something about travel, but she's something of an action hero. After 10 am, the wife and kid departed leaving the two gamers at the front door of this year's Dark Gathering. We spent the afternoon developing characters for Crawlspace, and discussing the mechanics a bit. And there was some napping. Dude, it was the start of a vacation for both of us.

The Kahunas Gathering 

David, err Hrothgar and I were having a drink in the Carnegie bar, a part of the resort, when Wotan and Rainbow Chick showed up. Rainbow Chick stole some poor nine year-old's chair, and of course a party ensued. Contact with CCrabb and the Kruppa would prove problematic. Something to do with lighting arrays and too much luggage, so the four cool kids (us) ended up playing in Petra's Fiasco game on Thursday night. It was an awesome game, really a good krimi-tale starring Taye Diggs, Ray Liotta, Mark Wahlberg, and Linda Lohan (I dunno the exact spellings of the stars so bear with me).

Everyone was pretty well wiped out by midnight after a couple nightcaps.

Friday morning, I awoke wanting a breakfast. I actually just had a turkey sandwich the morning before. Hrothgar and I were both without a car or, amazingly, any cold weather clothing. It was brutal as we walked over to a Dennys. At least this year's weather had provided a good reason for us to stay inside, and some cases tape up the windows. Wotan texted me right as we were finishing up the meal. I replied, 'Just finishing up breakfast at Dennys. Come have some coffee.'

When Scott declined I sent another text, 'No seriously. It's frigging cold outside. Please come pick us up!'

The afternoon game was an impromptu Crawlspace scenario based off of a news tidbit that Wotan and Rainbow had supplied, Stonehenge was looking for a care-taker. And so the plot idea for 'The Monolith Keeper' was inspired, and the story ensued from there. The tone was pretty light and breezing, and the action was pretty R-rated, but a good tribute to Sandra Dee's The Dunwich Horror played itself out nicely I though. Wotan really helped me clarify the damage mechanics for the system. Just before the end of the session, Brandon Osorio, Don Winters, the Kruppa, and Ccrabb all walked into the room looking for a game. In quick order, pizza was ordered and everyone started working on the hard bits of the schedule for the weekend. Hrothgar, Wotan, Rainbow and I all looked at each other, because the weekend had started about 24 hours earlier.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Cthulhu. It's Not Cthulhu.

You've probably heard parts of today's blog before. But not because I am going senile... I think.

Last August during late night GenCon sessions, I had the misfortune to lose all my prepared material for them. As if as a metaphor coming to life, my very old, over 20 years-old, copy of the Call of Cthulhu rules book "ate" the material. Twice. Yes, two times. Really. The perfect binding has developed gaps where neatly arranged loose pages worked their way into the bulk and stayed connected. Those of you that have ever gamed with me, know that I was not going to go through the text and turn page by page looking for the work. I just figured the material fell out while I was hiking from the Dealer's Hall to the hotel conference room, so I improvised.

I had the players develop characters on a half sheet of paper, for four broad stats, or STATS as I like to type them, plus thought up a matrix to randomize their Sanity rating. I discussed with each of them what type of character that they wanted to play, and we mutually came up with three skills for them. I threw out three arbitrary percentages for the skills to be assigned by the player to those skills. I then gave them two minutes to write a list of important items that would be available to the character during the game. It worked well and the dice rolling resembled BRP.

These two incidents, out of the three late night games, I ran started a fire in the back of my brain. Now I already had a set of horror rules, Crawlspace. But these rules were basically written up to give actual form to an amorphous set of guidelines that Monk and myself were using for horror scenarios in our shared TAG d6 system. We hadn't done much with them because we haven't had anytime over the last few years to game together (a situation which we must amend).

At the same time, not literally, Andre Kruppa's and I have been corresponding, if FacetuBe comments count as such, about horror role-playing. Now, to me, the Kruppa is the master of horror role-playing. Besides his name invoking images of Dagon and a grouper in my fevered mind, which I mean as a compliment; he is a GMs' GM. He likes to turn his scenario sessions into little sit-down theaters through not going LARP with them-- knowing not to is a sign of refinement in my book for sure. He doesn't have a long background in theater, so I feel that I can provide some pointers here and there. But mostly I watching him "craft" master performances from the players in his parlor.

We share a common problem along with a common background as not typical CoC-dudes. We both love CoC, but don't want to craft all of our works around Lovecraft, its mythos, and its fans' canon. Doing generic horror for Chaosium is problematic, as the Cthulhu crowd likes a certain format and style of game session, which many of our separate works do not fit. Him and I have been discussing whether to craft our own individual horror systems or not.

These days, my horror TAG system is being made obsolete by JerryTel's Stay Alive. I shouldn't sell myself short, but I really want to give this little side project of his some room. He has some real practical solutions for grit and detail in a T&T-derived system, that I think are inspired.

I decided to rework my RPG settings this year, as you probably already know. A couple are very close to being ready for release. My TROTT system, Tom's Really Outstanding Table-Top game, Different dice, much more detail, but hopefully very efficient. But Crawlspace, MY horror system, poor hiding redheaded child that it is, just wasn't special enough to compete with other rule systems without a twist. I did mention that a fire had started burning in the back of my head though. Well, the cleared foliage had left some fertile soil for seeds.

Sometime in March or April, I did some impromptu Play-by-Posting with Tom Grimshaw over at the Peryton Publishing FacetuBe page. It was a fun day. I used a card-based randomization system that I developed to avoid numeric amounts. Using a playing cards and success being determined by closeness of the cards, it helps avoid cheating by the participants. And then later that night, I sat down to work on my horror scenario for this years Dark Gathering in Syracuse, NY. I looked at the computer screen for a second...

WALLAH! I took my old Crawlspace manuscript, and its mostly completed revision, and reworked it entirely. Applying the principles for my Play-by-Posting playing card conventions, and a joke used in the original writing and I had a very unique game. Catering to long-term players with a fresh, newer angle. Movie fans will get it and it will encourage theatricality in my own minimalistic GM way. And simple enough for rapid generation for late night crises. The cards themselves turn the play session into something resembling a parlor game, which is where I like horror role-playing to sit. A level of intimacy, always helpful with horror, with flexibility as to where and how it can be played out.

And then five days later, I completed my scenario for the Dark Gathering. I even felt confident enough to format my late night scenarios for this year's GenCon. Not confident enough to not put the word "Cthulhu" in the edition block, which is after all the official play-testing edition. Okay. Okay. A cheap  trick, but hey all is fair in table-top filling, at least for the first year. We'll see how the players feel about the scenarios as they step into my parlor.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

BASHCon 2013: Are the Mayans Dead Now?

The ride to BASHCon was a little hard on me. Both Peryton and Ken felt like being late for the final day of the convention, so I only worried about when we were going to be putting some gas in the car.

Before then, I was a little hungover on fun when I woke up. I am not certain of the time, but I stretched out for 40 minutes or so. And images of the BASHCon came rushing pass me.
There was Friday evening with Peryton (not pictured), G'noll, the Boy, Sigfried, Ken and myself.

Along with Jherri.

And Saturday went by in such a blur.

Getting to Jherri's "Darkshade Chronicles: Another Fine Mess" was a bit more fun for sure. I wasn't exactly ready for it. I was tired and kind of in a haze. But Sigfried poked me for a few minutes. Besides him, JerryTel and the Boy was there. As well as Gary, Peryton, and, introducing, The Girl.  Now the Girl, who proved to be very young for table-topping, actually hid one of JerryTel's best designed adventures for That Other Game ever. Really. I am suddenly trying to remember the previous games and come out with a "D&D PG13" campaign, with this one as the near climax. Really. It was that good of a game. And as for JerryTel's insecurities about his performance, everyone was amazed at how well he handled things.

Ken came over before he was driven to the airport so I insisted on a photo. And then as "Another Fine Mess" concluded I insisted on more.

Peryton and I drove home. This year's Hardee's lunch sucked, but onion rings were great. The house was cold upon our return, and I set about to write this blog entry.

This was my first vacation of the 2013 year. It was both humbling and awesome. I know about what most people can have and what any man can really do. And I have the most rewards that a hobby can grant to an individual. After this only law suits could justify any more fun.

Let's see what comes about with more special events at BASHCon.

After business expenses, I spent $1 for a personal victory lap. Thank one and all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

BASHCon 2013 pt 3: Twilight of the Gods Mis En Place

Just before dinner, or "cake and coffee" as I was calling it, on Saturday, Ken,  then G'noll, then JerryTel found Peryton and me sitting down in a rest area just off the massive ramps that make up the central area of the Student Union building. We lounged about for a bit. Ken taught us to play "Cthulhu Dice." When Jerry  showed up we talked a bit about zombie awareness levels for his T&T: Stay Alive. And then right at 5pm, I announced that I was buying drinks, my way of ringing the dinner bell. During dinner, Ken and G'noll were going in and out at separate times. Ken had started to get worried about his return flight out of Detroit on Sunday. We started talking about the weirder facts of 1945 through the mid 50s. This prompted a fellow sitting at the table to mention that he liked that period of history as well, so of course we invited him over. And we got to know Max, currently a philosophy student and a fan of Kurt Vonnegut. Really up on his Russian and Baltic history. He and I went pretty loopy.

At 6pm, Ken had a "How to T&T" panel, which JerryTel and I had been edited out of the description in the event program. Once again I didn't mind. But I came in to watch the festivities just in case I was needed. The Trollgod had things very well in hand, so while sitting in the back, I started thinking about the upcoming T&T supposedly mega-event "Ragnarok." You see, while I have a pretty good outline of the structure of "how to run" for about 12-20 ppl, and a pretty good knowledge of the Eddas, I hadn't really been working on it since I wasn't sure if Ken was going to be at BASHCon or not until a week before. My co-GM and scripter, that's Jerry, was getting sick with nervousness. G'noll, jumped in to play the third GM or the Death God. Providence snuck a peek into the room...

A fellow, an avid Pathfinder player, named Chris, that I had gotten to know the day before popped his head through the door for a second. I went out of the room and started kidding about d20-heads spying on six-sider meetings. He and his friend asked if I had heard anything about this Ragnarok thingy coming up. They heard that Ken was going to run it. I mentioned that I was helping out there.  I then described to them the theatrical structure, and mentioned Nordic villains like dark elves, fire giants, and gnomes that could turn into mist. Listening to myself, I not only sold them on it, I sold myself. Going back to the room, I alternately pulled G'noll and Jerry aside and threw out details that they'd could use. I slipped out and went to the room where the game was to take place.

Sigfried was already there, testing a solo scenario out of his new Level 7: Escape game.  And he was ready for the Ragnarok session as well, not knowing that I it was even a T&T thing or that I was involved. G'noll came in and set up his area as well, and started making notes. I was about finished with about 3/4 a page of notes myself when people started arriving. Becket from four years ago showed up. And a whole slough of other folk as well. A fellow, named Alex, who proved to be quite up on Norse mythology, mentioned that the description in the program, once again where I wasn't mentioned, had a lot of "key words" that told him it was going to be good. By 8:02pm I was up to my neck in having folk develop player-characters. Luckily we short of the 12-20 mark. Gnoll started helping out. Sigfried jumped in as a "Coach." I ended up having to send a messenger to JerryTel to get his butt over to the event, meaning that Ken's "How to T&T" was going awesome. About 9pm, JerryTel had a group of players off in Elfheim. I had a gaggle in the Middle Realms. And G'noll was quietly waiting for bodies to start coming in. I had a player assigned to be the World-Hopper, the reincarnation of Baldur with amnesia. I started the stop watch.

Sigfried was playing an elf Wizard, who had some awesome stats because of awesome rolls. He had a couple kindreds (species) of troll, a minotaur, and a dark elf in his group, so I went with Brother-Versus Brother for the Crown trope. After a bloody reception upon his homecoming, Sigfried's Character and his brother were told to knock it off with the feud by the island's elders. Instead the Characters were told about a giant monstrous goat that had fallen from the sky and was ravaging the elves' holy forests in the high mountain valley. Using some "lore" the party believed it was Tanngrisnir, one of Thor's goats, because it liked to bare its teeth by all accounts. What they didn't know was that it was GOATERDAMMUNG, and that it was accompanied by a horde of broos... err goat-heads (Sigfried is a fan of old school  Runequest). G'noll got some business in short order.

At 10:10pm, no matter where anybody was in the room, I sang, poorly, the Act's closing scene, Fenris devouring the sun and gulping down the moon.

Act Two began, with a back from death Sigfried rather smartly deciding that with the sky falling, the monster quest was over and that they should head back to his hometown. Of course that didn't stop the Shadow Kin from giving Gnoll some company. A Nissie in a stream tried to help out as well, but the remaining Characters got lucky. Back at home the elf was able to prove his brother's complicity in the eve of destruction, and was granted his place on his throne of his homeland. And with that, he went forth with the remaining armies of light to face the oncoming of invaders. What he didn't figure on was that Goaterdammung and his goat-heads would be waiting for them as well.

Because of a miscommunication between G'noll and myself, Hel was not opening the doors of the underworld any longer. So none of the Middle Worlders were coming back to my table. Sigfried and a wolf-troll, both champions of light mind you, and an army of elves were getting pretty tore up. But with luck, I drew the right card, I was able to pull the World-Hopper into the fray. And Becket, playing Baldur's reincarnation, was actually a champion of darkness, so he basically stabbed Sigfried in the back-- hence my nickname for Alex from MI. And so the wolf-troll, played by a fellow named Rob, had to rally the forces of goodness and milk, after killing the reborn Baldur of course, to fight on. The High Worlders, off in Elfheim, were a little bogged down themselves, so couldn't come help.

At 11:11pm, I sang the second Act's closing scene. The mutual killing of Loki and Heimdal as the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, collapsed. The two gods' blood rained down over what was left of creation, hitting players here and there for both good and bad consequences.

I then brought the worlds together, even those in Hel's realm, as the wolf-headed Garm is unable to stop them in the end of times. And since it was late, I had the ghost of Sigfried battle the ghost of his brother Lohr, using only their Luck attributes. Light prevailed, and the world was reborn. Becket became the moon, and Sigfried the sun. While the valkyries cleaned up the place, while Lif and Lyfvrasis, come out of the woods where the last two beings alive had been hiding.

Peryton and Ken strolled around the corner as everybody was clearing out. It was a good run for sure. We had a nice group of folk walking back to ours, and a lot of laughing. Ken, Peryton and I stopped at Del Taco, Pery and my Saturday night in Toledo tradition, for some take out back in the motel rooms before bed.

BASHCon 2013 pt 2: "The Only Game With an Attribute Without a Name"

Saturday morning, I rode into the convention with Sigfried. I had imposed a "Sleeping in at BASHCon" rule on Peryton and Ken a few months earlier. Knowing them as individuals, and for differing reasons, both of them coming in late to work at a convention would ' make my day a bit easier,' I had thought back in August. Well, they weren't exactly coming in late to work so to speak. Now, though, that things were rolling, a Saturday AM spent luxuriating wouldn't hurt either of them. And without having a booth to run, I had the morning free. And I happened to have a ticket for JerryTel's "T&T: Stay Alive "Out of the Frying Pan" worth $1 whole dollar burning a hole in my pocket.

JerryTel's still having fun with working out player-character generation for his horror rules. I think he's trying to it both realistic (as real as Art-Portraying-Life gets that is) and random. This year he let the players each roll a set of 8 unassigned stats and then the person across the table assign those stats. Sitting across from was G'noll. I assigned his Attributes as I saw fit, but in the "Occupation" slot I penciled in "porn film stunt man" before handing it back. During this time I got to know Mitch and Suzie from my area of Cleveland and also healthcare providers, like me. I hope to get to know them better, they jumped right into the game feet first and hit the ground running. Of course, I was kind of running rampant this AM so maybe they just coped _really_ well.

Shadows did appear just before noon. Those did not come from Ken and Peryton showing up all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Nor while spending time with those two as well Sigfried, G'noll, and Mutant (John of "John and Alan from Michigan" in year's past), a bit of the ties that bind us started to set in. Ken was a bit out of sorts. Peryton was mildly bored though glowing. Back in August, Ken was supposed to be able to sell some hand-carried wares from the PeryPub table, and Pery was supposed to be running that table from noon until 8 on Saturday, and 10-4(?) the next day.  Peryton had only scheduled one game to run of her Peryton RPG and that was after 8pm. While at 5:17 pm the day before, I had daydreamed of bucolic scenes of the three of us watching the zombie walk-thru LARP "Eaten Alive"  and eating ice cream cones while kicking sun-drenched beach sand at each other, consensual reality had other ideas. It was snowing outside, I teased Ken saying, "You're in luck, we'll get at least an inch before you fly home!"

I was not able to secure any booth that a more established vendor that had not shown up had left vacant. My morning was not all flowers and zombie movie enacting. Even while goofing off,  I was trying to be a good group organizer as well.

Ken had an impromptu workshop meeting with a handful of the more thought-filled gamers of UofT, with G'noll and myself only walking in to bear witness. I had to show up, as I heard that everyone had thought the T&T game on Friday night, the night before, was supposed to have been ran by Ken. Much later, I stood up to go for some walking about. Before I could do anything,  G'noll leaned over. I thought he was going to chide to me about talking too much the couple of times that I did-- nothing to dispel the rumor about Friday night, mind you. But what he said was "Porn Star: the RPG With an Attribute that Cannot Have a Name."