Carving runes on the inner sky of an empyeran, trying to make meaning and hoping that those from without understand as well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Burning Wheel AP - Episode 1 Dead of Night

This is crossposted at Luke's site. I have some of the night recorded (I hit the wrong button at one point) and will add that to my audioblog at some point).

So, our second session (first roleplaying session) of BW is complete and I wanted to come by and talk about it a bit. It's a time constrained game, with only five game-days allowed as the players vie for the head of the guild as their own.

Andy is taking Beliefs that point towards him getting revenge for the guildmaster's murder and redeeming the guild. Rick the bastard wants both the guild and his father's dukedom despite his lineage. Tim, the mad sorcerer, only wants to serve his demonic master and Travis, the forger, has kept his goals to himself for now. Everyone is hedging bets against each other and it is rocking.

The four lieutenants stood around the corpse of their leader and it was on. Schemes were flying and ideas working. We have decided that no one knows who killed him and that who did it will be revealed in play. Just when it got slow, bam! One of the characters heard someone in the room. A frightened slave girl had hidden in a closet. She stated that she couldn't see what happened but she was frightened out of her mind. Rick decided that the safest bet was to end her short life there with a knife to the throat. Andy's character reacted poorly if I remember and just then someone approaches the door!

It appears that Ilthmar's thieve's guildmaster has arrived at the party below with an entourage. I reveal to another player scrambling through some books that the Lankhmar guildmaster had invited them. Seems he was retiring and was making movements to retire in style. Was this the motive for his murder? We don't know yet.

As to the party, they are in a week of celebration in Lankhmar. I weave a tale of how one of the most famous guildmasters in the past had disguised his way out of capture again and again and even successfully impersonated the Emperor at one point. The guildmaster eventually reconciled with the Emperor and the two met in a public gesture to show that the Emperor was himself and the Guildmaster was separate. Thus, it is Day One of our game and Day One in a week of celebration. The most special days are 3-5:

Day 3: Chameleon Day - like Hallowe'en and Mardi Gras, except that everyone participates in the festivities all day, and participants come from far and wide - including Hell itself.

Day 4: Commoner's Day - Who can tell who is actually running the government? On this day, the commoner's get their own parliament, and if they can decide on anything as a group, it's put into law.

Day 5: Gretting Day - A guildmaster will have to meet the Emperor and prove again that the Emperor is himself. Who will be there? Will they survive the public meeting?

Anyway, back to the action. Tim, damn him, made me really think about my GM authority. But I rolled with it as he gave me a big in to screw him over. Dude summoned an imp to animate the guildmaster's corpse. Can you believe it? Luckily, he rolled a powerful one and I'll take my revenge on him soon.

Andy stepped up and came up with some cool ideas. Together we burnt up a cool story charcoal: The imp is demanding Tim take the Ilthmaran guildmaster's prized possesion and give it to him, and Tim accepts the bargain. What Tim's character doesn't know (but everybody at the table knows) is that the cask contains Tim's demon master's summoning tools!

Travis decides that there are too many players involved at this point and through a series of linked tests manages to three of his targeted four targets accidentally murdered: members of the Ilthmaran entourage. The fourth is virtually dead as he lay at the healer's hut with a severely broken leg.I'll have to use this little bugger somehow to complicate Travis' life.

Andy is, later on, going through the quarters of the Ilthmar guildmaster (who is completely absent, even the remainder of his entourage included). What he soon finds out is that Tim's imp is there too, sniffing out the cask just as Andy finds it. We left them on the rooftop, as Andy considers his options with the imp tracking him.

Travis decides to get a little supernatural back up. He successfully finds a 3/4 blind exorcist that has agreed to work for him. She assures him that Chameleon Day will allow for great results in regards to demons.

The final scene we played out was at Rick's house. I decided to go straight for the throat and bring his dad in. As soon as he was in the room his dad orders him to murder the guildmaster and hand over the guild to the Ilthmaran guildmaster. I knew this wasn't going to go well but Rich stepped up a notch and decided to whistle in his guards and attack his own dad! We used some bloody versus and Rich would have killed his father if it weren't for an awesomely successful spell on Tim's part which drew all of the swords out their owners' hands and even screwed with the metal in the door frame. Rich's dad is begging for his life as we end for the night.

We have four more game days to play out which may take less than four actual days, but we'll see. I'll keep everyone updated.


Tenra Banshou Zero

I got to play Tenra Banshou Zero yesterday, and I had an awesome time. That wasn't my character that I've got uploaded but I did want to showcase some of the over-the-top art from the game.

Remi, Eric, Lisa, Matt and I played residents (whether temporary, permanent, recently arrived or long lived) of a ninja village. That is, the village specialized in its training of ninja in their service to the Regent (daimyou).

Eric played Oldclaw, a ninja with a cybernetic arm and eye. His character qualities were patriotism and authority, and he did a good job acting like a right bastard.

Lisa played this annelid using ninja (think like you're implanted with gigantic roaches and centipedes!) with issues over what he'd become.

Matt played a straight-up powerful ninja, but he was going to betray us at some point.

Remi played a Samurai (a soulgem studded person that can hulk out like the image I've got posted (but not necessarily with all the cyber tech)) who had issues with being a warrior and was currently a farmer. You'd think from anime stereotypes that samurai and ninja wouldn't coexist well but it was all good.

I played an android (made of wood!) that could wrap illusions around herself to make her look human. I called her a tree geisha for lack of a good translation. She had the secret of her nature to protect and she couldn't kill. I played her as an emotion-phobic young girl that wanted people and things to 'be right'.

Remi and I had some great roleplay going on where I challenged all of his issues. Remi called me a bastard! It was TEH AWESOME. Lisa and I had a great scene as well. I really felt like a spotlight hog but I was having so much fun. To those of you reading that played, I do feel bad about it. If our session was longer, though, I'm sure it would have evened out, as I was ready to try pushing towards it; however, I still had machinations in my head for scenes with other characters!

Andy did an awesome job rolling with the flow of the game. He wasn't as prepared as he could have been but I was impressed with his handling of everything, specifically teaching us the game. There's so much to learn and it all points back in on itself that you can start at any point very easily. He did a good job with the scenes and concluding acts and all that pacing stuff and he forced us to think a little differently from some traditional gaming with jumping around time-wise and having scenes in the past. Andy is the roxxorz.

However, we all agreed that too much thought was put in to making the mooks in the big fight too much like PCs and that the fight slowed things down quite a bit. We all had trouble paying attention while waiting for our turns to come around. Thus, the only problems to be had with the game itself came from a lack of experience running it.

As for the game system and mechanics, it has some old school and some kabuki school and it came together well (but damn if it wasn't a mindbender).

First, the old school. It only uses d6s (in terms of dice). You have like 8 stats, HP and a wound chart (and some other HP style thing that I never used, MP maybe?) Under all that are skills, which are ranked from 1-5. When you do an action, you roll the number of dice in the stat, and sucesses are culled from the roll based on the skill (e.g. an Agility stat of 7 and Marksman skill of 4 would mean roll 7 dice and successes are any dice coming up 4 or below). There are only certain skills, so no hippy self-defined skills. When you get hit, you split things between your HP and your wound track. It's really neat because you don't get penalties with more grievous wounds but bonuses.

Okay, some of the new school. There is a relationship chart that you roll on whenever you want to know how it is you react to someone. If it comes up as completely off from what you expected, you can pay to move it around or the GM can pay you to move it around. It really encourages cool roleplay opportunities, despite it sounding like it hinders you. The qualities are vague but inspiring and you aren't prevented from changing your point of view.

The game is split into acts and seem to just note an organic end to the current set of scenes.

So, it has this fanmail-like system wherein a player takes some chits (or, in our case, poker chips) and distributes them to people when they do awesome things. The person responsible for this rotates around the group. These chits are called Harmony and they begin the Karma cycle. They're really valuable at the end of acts, but can be spent mid-act for some minor things (thus, the thought always is, can I make it to the end of the act and/or suffer to lose at this point?). The key thing that Harmony is spent on (in my limited opinion) is purchasing the ability to use your character qualities (Fates) to provide a new resource, Kiai. Kiai powers cool meta-options that are general and everyone can use them (not to be confused with other power fueling resources, like Soul-Glo, err Soul Points). Here's the kicker: once spent, the Kiai build to your Karma score. If your Karma score can't be reconciled below 108 by the beginning of the next act, you're freaking screwed. You lose your character, everything they hoped and dreamed for is destroyed by them, and you sit there as an audience for the rest of the game. So now you're in the middle of the act and you're wondering if you should use that kiai cuz it'll screw you over. There are methods of reducing Karma but they provoke great change in your character. And that it awesome cool unto itself. But all of this just scratches the surface of the uses of these cool resources.

Well, that's about it. I hope everyone gets a chance to play it once it gets released. It'll blow the water out of other anime games out there, in my opinion, and should be an anime gaming standard from now on.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cthulhu Movie

I've been waiting for this movie for a while now. I, in general, love Lovecraft's work and those that he impressed. They have a blog now, and it looks like it's soon to be released. I'm happy about that.

However, after looking over at IMDB, I can't help but think that some people are going to be upset that the locale isn't set in New England, but rather in Washington and Seattle.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fallen Idols

So, recently, I've played two games that are considered hallmark achievements in the Indie RPG community, Dogs in the Vineyard and Burning Wheel.

My heart sinks as I realize that I just don't like them. Burning Wheel is great for its principles, i.e., focusing on the problems with D&D style gaming and offering solutions. Dogs has a great mechanic which makes arguments and fights and description fluid and fun.

But I'm just not liking them. Burning Wheel is obvious to me: I don't need different systems to handle different events - a solid concept for dealing with all situations is ideal and expected by me at this point. But Dogs, though, Dogs ... I had a hard time last night, because I wanted to talk to Andy about it but I couldn't (and still can't) articulate it very well. Examining my morals sounded like a great idea at first, but now, after playing it, I'm not so sure.

I think I'm scared.


Monday, September 11, 2006


Odeo is nice enough to host my audio blog (and they have a much nicer interface!) Hopefully their advertisement won't be too annoying!

Look for this image on the bottom right of my blog:

My Odeo Podcast

Also, I realize that if I'm going to be serious about this, I'll have to be a little more serious with this page. I'm going to redo the images to make sure I own them or have permission to use them. So, anyway, look for more changes soon.


Infected has infected me

So, yeah, I've been playtesting Infected with Eric a couple of times, and I love it. It has a solid premise (zombie movies), enough flexibility for fun variation and room for imagination, awesome rules that have really worked from day one, and I just love it.

So much so that I've placed a custom order with Chessex for dice that match the rules and am running it at this NC Gameday. I hope my excitement is, well, infectious ...


Monday, September 04, 2006

Audioblog 1

Well, until I get something more professional or am willing to cough up money, this is the only way I know to get my audio recordings up.

Give it a listen!

Oh, it's a short analysis of what I did and didn't like about FFXI vs. WoW.


Friday, September 01, 2006

New Look

I've made some changes to the front page. The dust is flying! Come take a look.