Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rescue on Tenebrae

My next convention game using the Fate rules for Trey Causey's Strange Stars setting is coming up in late April. This is a link to the write-up I am preparing for the game.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lady Blackbird

I've heard about John Harper's Lady Blackbird for a few years, but Thursday night was the first chance I had to play the game. Lady Blackbird is a steampunk Firefly space game with a baked-in "first chapter" set-up for adventures: Lady Blackbird is fleeing an arranged marriage with the help of the crew of the Owl (a small space freighter which looks more than a little like a Firefly-class ship). She and her crew have been captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, and they are stuck in the brig.

The adventure begins there, but groups can readily play out new adventures.

Lady Blackbird uses an extremely light, narrative-focused RPG system. One of our players, Eric, thought was derived from The Pool, an archetypal indy game mechanism from which many specific games took inspiration. Some of the terminology used in the game (particularly the Keys) reminded me of The Shadow of Yesterday/Solar System RPG, which I always thought was a neat game and world but have never had the chance to play.

We'll be doing at least one more session of Lady Blackbird this week. Thanks to our able GM Rachel for offering to run this for us!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Shadowcraft: The Glamour War

Ryan Danks' Kickstarter for Shadowcraft: the Glamour War is in its final day and a half.  It's still a few thousand away from its target, but making progress.

As it should! Ryan's a good designer. I really liked a number of features of the Jadepunk RPG design, and the playmat was a stroke of genius.  I'm sure this game will have lots of worthwhile innovations too.

There has been a fair amount of bickering about this KS over at RPG.net, and it really disappointed me to see it. So I thought I'd put in a brief letter of reference for Shadowcraft's designer.

Ryan and I don't agree on too many things politically. I don't really need us to either. All I am saying is we are not buddy-buddy types who see most things eye-to-eye.

On the internet, there is a cheap and easy grace in pointing out where and how other people have gotten it wrong. We see this every day, from just about every corner.

Ryan is one of the few people I have seen on the internet who has directly apologized for things he has said that had either offended others, or were based on misinformation.

He's not afraid to admit when he is wrong. That takes a lot of character. It's something I admire.

I can't participate in too many Kickstarters, and these comments are entirely unsolicited.

It's just something I felt it was important to say as the KS approaches it's finale.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Our Last Best Hope

Eric our GM, and Oscar

Don't be confused by the books in the foreground. Last night we played our second game of Our Last Best Hope, a SF storygame by Mark Diaz Truman. It's kind of like Fiasco, with lots scraps of paper and fiddly bits (and fiddly rules), but unlike Fiasco the characters need to cooperate to save the world from a disaster that will affect the entire planet.

With the really fiddly rule sets that storygames often have, I am really glad to have a player/GM like Eric, who doesn't get flustered by rules - or even by his own confusion about what is supposed to happen. He takes it all as a chance to explore something - as if he's running a scientific experiment - which is very appropriate for a game in which a disparate group have to work together to solve a desperate planetary threat.

If you keep in mind the kinds of plots and types of action that occur in Hollywood SF disaster movies you have the right idea about this game. Over the top threats, and only a handful of people in the world who can resolve the threat. The science does not matter too much: it's a movie.

In our case, we went with the Winter scenario, and decided that the cause of global winter was a Yellowstone eruption. We did the only thing intelligent people would do in such a situation: dive into the volcano with our lava sub, find our way around using deep penetrating lava radar, and use ice lasers to defend ourselves against the Lava Yetis living in the flows.

Our eventual plan was to release a nanite swarm that would "take care" of the volcano. We ran out of time in the game session (we play for 2-2.5 hours) to release the nanites but that would probably happen next scene. Maybe.

Friday, March 6, 2015

D6 Star Wars Game - Saturday Night

Saturday Night Space Opera

Come by the Source Comics & Games in Roseville on Saturday, March 7 from 6 PM-closing, for some pulse-pounding D6 Star Wars roleplaying! Our GM will be Jay MacBride of X-plorers and Rad Astra fame!

This event is part of our monthly Saturday Night Space Opera games at the Source. They happen the first Saturday evening of the month.

Stop by to play, or run your own space opera game!

This one is not to be missed. A group of heroes and mercenaries has been charged with stealing the plans for the Death Star!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Strange Stars: We're All Pirates Now

Rad Astra Galaxy Map

Our second game at Con of the North using Trey Causey's Strange Stars setting was a pick-up game. It was not on the event schedule for the convention. The session was an informal on-demand game requested by people who could not get into my scheduled Fate Strange Stars scenario -  as well as by one player who had been in that first scenario and wanted another dose of the Strange Stars

It was a Saturday night, just after a fun session of Jay MacBride's Rad Astra setting (you can see his awesome map of the six-armed Hexuba galaxy up above) using the old school X-plorers RPG. I was super-tired, so I asked my friend Bob Cook, a seasoned Fate Strange Stars GM to run an on-the-fly game.

I went out to the Crown Vic and got my Fate gear. I went to the hotel's service desk, and asked if they could point me to a copier so that I could run off some character sheets. The staff offered to do it for free on their copier (they will do this kind of thing if you are polite!), and I tipped to say thanks for their courtesy (this is essential).

Bob GMs Strange Stars

The players decided to create a group of space pirates. Jay wondered if he could make a PC that was a “one off” type not featured in any of the Clade Templates for the Fate Strange Stars. Bob and I answered “Sure!” 

Galaxy Laser Team Toy

Jay was looking at a big green space toy on the game table. The toy was a Star Wars knockoff. Imagine a Wookie, but with Yantran antennae, and a skull face like a demonic Ferengi! He decided that was his character’s exact appearance! Jay was also flipping through the character templates in a copy of the D6 Star Wars RPG. Then he said, “I’m a Chewie that lost his Han Solo”: that was a rocking High Concept for a Fate character! 

The GM created a Vokun space convoy for the players to raid. He figured that the Vokun fleet consisted of a very large transport vessel (think of Metamorphosis Alpha’s Warden) and a few very well-armed escorts. 

The GM also decided that the transport vessel contained all sorts of endangered and dangerous species destined to stock a Vokun safari tourism world. That set-up was about all that was needed for a great, really rip-roaring adventure! If you’ve seen the Doctor Who episode “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” you have an idea what the players encountered - plus giant purple worms and cyber apes! 

Add the transport's stoner "free-as-a-bird" AI to the mix, and you can imagine just how trippy and fun this game was!

What a great way to to wrap up a Saturday night at Con of the North! 

Monday, March 2, 2015


I should have taken a photo. When we took the Anubian Ambassador out on Sunday morning, something strange was waiting for us in the back yard. A small round object with a hole in it was sitting in the middle of the yard.

Sticking straight up in the snow.

At first I thought it was a huge toadstool (and how did this grow up through packed snow?), whose head had somehow been turned to face me.

I picked up the Anubian Ambassador so she would not be tempted to gobble up the Mystery.

On closer inspection, it was clear what we were seeing: a bagel.

Pennies from heaven? I haven't been able to figure out how it got there. There were no footprints (or paw prints) around it. The back yard is fenced off and it's a tall fence.

My guess is that a bird dropped it. We have a Bruggers maybe a half mile from home to the north, and a Cub Foods about a half mile to the south.

But it could have been the Nexialist casting Bread Torus.


Bread Torus (Evocation, Cost, Per Scene):  During the Nexialist Revolt, this formula sustained the besieged defenders of Nexialist Institutes. It became one of the 12 essential proofs of the "Miraculous Materialism" that undergirds the Nexialist tradition.

Bread Torus manifests as one or more dense white rings of a breadlike substance. One bread torus can sustain a person for a day. Sometimes also called a "carbohydrate brick", bread tori putrefy remarkably slowly compared to other bread substances. If left at room temperature for several days, however, a torus may become a knife-breaker or tooth-chipper.

The caster rolls WIS +2 to manifest Bread Torus. The number appearing is equal to the effort rolled.