Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Solo Game: Improvisational World-Building

And once again I'm behind in updating my game log for the Supers campaign.

Setting that aside, tonight's solo game with my wife Lute was interesting. We're running a Star Trek campaign set in the Next Gen era where Lute's character is a civilian xenobiologist serving on a Galaxy-Class starship. She's wound up in a romantic relationship with the ship's Andorian Chief Science Officer, Arushek.

In the previous adventure, the ship had encountered a traveller from an unknown starfaring race, so it seemed logical for them to find out where it came from.

Now here is one of the challenges I have with this campaign. Lute's character is not a member of the bridge crew; she's not even a member of the crew. How do I get her involved with what's going on? In this case, where the ship is involved in a diplomatic First Contact mission, here character would be completely out of the loop.

So to give her something to do, I decided that the aliens, whom I named the Gloorni, had invited the Captain and his command crew to a formal dinner on their ship, and that Arushek would bring Lute's character along as a date. Why would Arushek need a date? Okay... I decided it was a cultural thing with the Gloorni. They have this big cultural ethos that both the male and the female is needed for a balanced whole, and that therefore each of the ships officers would be expected to have an opposite gendered partner.

The Captain is single. I had decided, although I hadn't yet established this in the game, that the Captain has an estranged wife and a college-aged daughter whom he writes to but rarely sees. As his date to the Gloorni dinner, I had him take the ship's Security Chief, T'Sarran. The Gloorni at the dinner commented on the fact that the two of them did not seem very compatible, forcing the Captain to admit his true marital status.

As I role-played out the dinner conversation, I was also sussing out the cultural ramifications of the Gloorni views on marriage. How would they regard divorce? How would they deal with the loss of a partner. (It embarasses me to realize that until I started typing this post, I didn't even think of the question of how the Gloorni handled homosexuality.) Lute and I decided that they probably have people undergo rigorous testing to determine which partners are most compatible.

Well, all this was very interesting, but I didn't have enough conflict to hang a plot on. Then I came up with something.

I had some of the Gloorni visit the Federation ship. One of them was a widow; a young woman whose husband had been killed in an accident. She kept asking questions about the Captain, which at first puzzled Lute. Then later on she learned that when the Gloorni delegation had returned to their own ship, the widow had stayed behind.

She was lonely; she needed a partner to complete her life; and she assumed that the Captain was the same. So, she snuck into the Captain's quarters to express her love...

Well, Lute was able to save the Captain's virtue; but it was interesting.

But the fun part was how the plot grew out of trying to logically work out a planet's culture, which in turn grew out of finding an excuse to involve Lute's character in the story.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Session Four and Five: Cover Blown!

Playing catch-up again. That's why I don't do this sort of thing; I keep falling behind.

Okay, as last we saw the Secret Heroes, Aqua and her friends had raided the headquarters of ANEK, a sinister research group associated with Nephilim. While there, they encountered the chilly Mister Berg, (whom Alanna promptly named "Frosty the Snowman")

Since Berg had met Aqua before, he was able to identify her. Nephilim's next logical move would be to take action against her. Problem: the girl playing Aqua was not at the next session.

So... I bent the rules of GM ethics.

The next session began with Python telling the rest of the team that Aqua had been abducted by Nephilim and organizing a rescue. It went pretty well, except that the team took out the opposition a little too easily. They managed to beat Berg and a lady ninja with teleport powers and humiliate them to boot. (Alanna squirted a tube of magenta paint at the ninja; now she calls her "Pinky McNinja.")

For session five, I decided it was time to bring back the vampires.

Fred the Vampire hunter gets a call from one of his street contacts asking to see him. When Fred meets him, the contact, apparently under some sort of mind control, draws a dagger and cuts his own throat. Suddenly Fred has a dead man lying on his feet and witnesses all around him calling for the police.

(Fred's player, recognizing how screwed he was, grinned and said, "I saw Blade III too!" Dang. And here I thought I was being so original.)

So Fred finds an abandoned building to be his new safe house and goes to the apartment where Python had the team bring Aqua. He discusses what to do with Python (who as always appears only on a TV monitor), Aqua and Alanna.

When he returns to the abandoned building, he finds company waiting: a scientist from Nephilim named Dr. Blake and three Nephilim goons including Pinky McNinja. The scientist tries to persude Fred to join them and that they can protect him from the vampires. She also tells him that the vampires themselves are nephilim, that is, genetically augmented metahumans; they just don't know it. Fred turns her down.

That's when the police show up outside. "We know you're in there! Come out with your hands up!"

Fred decides he's going to drag his motorcycle up to the roof and use it to jump to the next rooftop. Which would have been cool, had it worked. Unfortunately, the police have already started lobbing gas grenades through the windows and Fred (rolling a critical failure on his HT roll) gets an incapacitating whiff...


Back at Aqua's safehouse, she and Alanna get a message from Python. According to police scanners, the police have been tipped off as to Dave's location and are sending a SWAT team to get him. The girls hurry to the scene (Alanna cleverly suggests that Python set up some false alarms to distract and delay the cops) and arrive shortly after the police do. Aqua uses her water powers to burst a fire hydrant and under that distraction Alanna filches a couple gas masks so she and Aqua can sneak into the building.

They arrive just in time to see Dr. Blake and Pinky teleport away with Fred; although not before telling the other goons to take care of them. The girls and the Nephilim goons have a brief skirmish in which Alanna attempts to hop on board the motorcyle, (which you will remember, Fred had dragged halfway up the stairs), and ride off.

Rolling against her nonexistant Motorcycle skill, Alanna rolled a critical failure. The second of the day.

So I said that in her nervousness she accidentally activated her gravity powers, making the motocycle 150% heavier, causing it to crash through the rickety staircase.

In the chaos that ensued, the girls were able to get away from the goons, (who wound up getting arrested) but did have to make up a semi-plausible story for the cops. Which they did.

But what about Fred?

He wakes up in a Nephilim lab. Mister Berg is there and once again offers Fred the chance to join their organization. "What if I don't?" Fred asks. "Then Dr. Blake gets to experiment on you."

While Berg is briefly out of the room, Fred manages to break free from his bonds. He makes a McGuyver device out of stuff in the hospital room to create a distraction and flees through a back exit which leads him to a loading dock in the back of the building. There he encounters Pinky McNinja again and the two have a fight. Pinky actually does better than she did in her previous two encounters... until she rolled the third crit failure on the day.

Fred flees the building before further pursuit can catch up with him. It's a good thing Nephilim's security cameras don't seem to have captured any of his movements in the building. Funny that. I wonder if it will occur to Fred to wonder about that...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Solo Game: Star Trek Endevour

Lute and I wrapped up the fantasy campaign we were running this past week and so we started a new one. After some discussion, we decided to do a Star Trek campaign set in the Next Gen era. Lute didn't want to be a member of the crew, so I decided to make her a college grad student who has been placed as a civilian scientist on board a Galaxy Class starship as part of an Internship program. (This is one of the reasons why Lute wanted a Next Gen era campaign; because they permitted civilians on board)

I spent much of Saturday afternoon making up character cards for the crew of the Endevour. And I'm rather pleased with the result. We have:

Captain Casmir Bristol: The ship's captain. We haven't seen much of him yet, apart from an authorative, paternal figure.
First Officer J. Tyler: An anime-style slacker; laid back, easy-going, glib and relentlessly romantic. He also has a creative relationship with the truth. Everyone wonders how he ever made it into Starfleet. I'm having lots of fun with him.
Chief Science Officer Arushek: Lute's immedeate superior. An Andorian; calm, grave, mentoring.
Security Chief T'Srann: A Vulcan; very serious, by-the-book. She used to be Tyler's superior before he was promoted to First Officer. She has filed several recommendations that Tyler be demoted/court-martialed/flayed alive, but to no avail.
Chief Medical Officer Yukio Tanaka: Haven't seen much of her. Maternal.
Chief Engineer Clayton Delaponte: Cheery, good-natured; compulsive tinkerer. An accident involving a still he set up in the ship's port nacelle is why the ship is in repair dock as the game starts.
Counsellor Seth Carpenter: A nice guy, but so far a cipher. We'll see if he develops a personality.
Ensign Murray Gebotlick: Helmsman. Gawky, kind of nerdy.
Lt. Mrewlth: Operations Officer. A Caitian (from the animated series; remember M'ress?). Thinks of himself as a smooth ladies' man. We'll be seeing more of him.
Ensign Mina Parker: a microbiologist in the Science Department; one of the crew Lute will be working with.
Lt. Brendon Greensky: an ecologist in the Science Department. Kind of a neo-hippie.
Ensign Carl Blade: astrophysicist. Square-jawed and macho. No idea why he's in sciences; he just screams out to wear a red shirt.
Tohiro Tanaka: Planetologist. One of the civilian staff. He's married to the Chief Medical Officer, but that doesn't stop him from hitting on the ladies. I have no idea why Yukio puts up with him.
Dave Swenson: bartender. Every ship needs one. This one is a retired Starfleet security officer. He's friendly and generally knows all the shipboard gossip.

In the first session, Lute's character, Lauren Wojinski, learned that she was to be placed on board the Starship Endevour. She underwent some training and met some of the crew she'll be working with. First officer Tyler took a special interest in her and flirted with her. At one point he sent a bottle of wine to her cabin's replicator, just as Lt. T'Srann was giving Lauren a lecture on ship's regulations. Only some incredible fast-talking on Tyler's part saved Lauren from a stiff reprimand. And the fact that T'Srann obviously detests Tyler did much to reduce Lauren's original bad impression of him. Tyler took Lauren on a tour of the ship, including a stop in the holodeck to partake in a simulated French cafe.

In the second session, Lauren is doing some routine computer work supervising the download of data from the Starfleet central computer library. She comes across a suspicious file that seems to be full of giberish. Finding a couple other similar files, she brings the matter to Arushek's attention who has her tell T'Srann. It turns out that the files are pieces of a virus, which would not be a problem except that other pieces are already in the ship's computer and has assembled itself into an AI worm program. Lauren manages to corral the worm in the ship's holodeck, which naturally requires people to go into the holodeck to face the worm. I mean, it's just a holodeck; what could go wrong?

The campaign's off to a good start. I think this one is going to be fun

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Solo Game: Is This Any Way to Run a Railroad?

I also run a one-on-one "solo game" with my wife Lute which we run in the evenings after the kids are abed. Our current campaign is a D&D-style heroic fantasy one and right now her character and a couple companions are exploring an ancient temple that connects with myriad other universes.

Instead of mapping out the temple, I decided to run the exploration of it as a series of Random Encounters. I made a table of the kinds of monsters I wanted to show up and another of the different types of rooms that she would find.

On one of the first rooms she entered, the random room type came up "anachronism", meaning that the items and furnishings she found in the room belonged to a radically different setting than the one they were in. (I already had her encounter a group of sorcerous Nazis, I figured we needed a few more weirdities as well).

So off the top of my head, I described a Victorian Era gentleman's study, with leather backed chairs, fireplace, a globe, a snifter of brandy on a side table and a framed portrait of Queen Victoria.

Except that Queen Victoria had elf ears.

And the globe depicted a large continent in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

I intended for the room to be just a bit of local color and for Lute to move on to the next room, but she wanted to explore a bit. So I came up with a friendly retired colonel with bushy side whiskers and elf ears who met them and offered them tea and regaled them with tales of fighting flying monkeys in India.

And the more I improvised, the more I thought, "Dang! This would make a good campaign setting! I need to write this stuff down!"

And so I am.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Session Three: Save the Dolphins!

I didn't give Kitty's character, Aqua, much to do in the previous session, so last Sunday I let her be the focus. Aqua goes to the OceanWorld park where she works and learns that the park is selling one of its dolphins to a group called the Anak Foundation. This was the same organization that had tried to hire her in the previous session.

Aqua is suspicious of Anak and so tries to persuade her boss, the park's administrator, not to go through with the sale. After some pleading, he finally says that the sale must be confirmed by the Board of Directors. If she can find evidence that the Anak Foundation mistreats animals or uses them for unethical purposes, then he will bring that evidence before the Board.

So she goes to Anak, purportedly to talk with them about their job offer, but really to scope out the place. She meets a white-haired man named Mr. Berg, who happens to be the same white-haired man who met with Kurayami the previous night at the Club Cyba-Netsu. But she didn't see him there. Berg gives her a tour of the facilities and she gets to see how the dolphins are treated. It looks all very well, but with her Dolphin Empathy, she senses that they are not happy; they are stressed and fearful.

(Yes, her character has, among her powers, Animal Empathy (Cetaceans Only).)

Also, she spotted some files on Berg's desk suggesting that Anak has a connection with Nephilim, the sinister organization that Python warned the group about. (If her character had any Biblical Knowlege skills, I would have let her roll to see if she recognizes that the Anakites were descendants of the Nephilim).

This information, however is too vague to satisfy her boss, so Aqua contacts Alanna and Fred and (after some arguing) persuades them to help her break into the Anak Foundation that night.

They managed to get past Anak's security. (It's called the GM being generous to advance the plot). They were able to enter the building by virtue of Alanna botching a lockpicking roll on the skylight and falling through it and into one of the fish pools.

This is about when Mr. Berg showed up and released a shark into the pool the characters had fallen into. Aqua shoved Berg into the pool also and that was when we discoverd that Berg had cold-control powers; specifically an icy touch, which encased him in a block of ice!

The team escaped, and since it was getting late, I just said that in the process they got the photographic evidence Aqua needed.

But now Nephilim knows about them. And what will they do next...?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Second Session: Circus of the Darned

I didn't get around to posting about last week's game. Better do it quick before this week's game!

When we arrived at the game shop last Sunday, I only had two players: my daughter Gamera (playing Alanna the flying waitress) and Tim (playing Fred the Vampire Hunter). Only a few blocks from the shop I realized I'd left all my character sheets at home and so had to run back. In the intervening time, Gamera's friend Kitty (Aqua the water-controlling marine biologist) showed up.

I'm still feeling my way around this setting. They aren't a team that goes out on missions yet. I wanted to encounter some weirdness that would allow them to use their super-powers in their personal lives. Gamera reminded me that her character Alanna had a wacky roommate and that gave me my idea.

I lifted some plot from an online RPG I was involved with several years ago called "Dark Redemption" Dark Redemption One of the subplots of that game invovled a cyber-cafe run by a powerful vampire. Since Tim's character is a vampire hunter, I decided it was a logical place for him and Alanna to run into each other.


We started out with Fred the Vampire Hunter doing some detective work. He had stated the previous session that he wanted to search the thugs who had attacked the group in the warehouse to see what he could find out about them. So we wrangled that out and discussed what he learned.

Next, Alanna has a conversation with her wacky roommate, Daphne; who talks her into going out for the evening. Daphne is meeting her boyfriend Raoul at the Club Cyba-Netsu and thinks that Raoul can find a friend to be Alanna's date. They arrive at the club and I describe the atmosphere. Alanna meets Raoul, and quickly pegs him as a Drama Queen. Then she spots Fred coming into the club.

Fred has heard about the Cyba-Netsu, a kind of goth club with a computer theme. Although not all goths are really vampires, Fred knows that vampires like to hang around goths because (A) it's protective camoflague and (B) goths worship vampires and so it's like free lunch. The first vampire he spots is the one at the table with Alanna; so he goes over to chat a bit.

But before too long, a waiter comes up to tell Fred the Manager would like to see him. The manager is Miss Aoi Kuriyama, an evil vamipre babe who looks like Yoko Ono. Kuriyama gives Fred some "friendly advice" about giving up his vendetta against vampires. We have a nice little dance of polite menace and veiled threats. Tim loved it.

Meanwhile, what of Aqua? Well, earlier on I had planted some information. A co-worker at Ocean World told her about how he once worked for a group of researchers who it turned out was using electrical implants to turn dolphins into weapons or something like that. Shortly afterwards, Aqua gets a job offer from a foundation doing cetean research. She turned them down.

I didn't really have anything for her to get involved with. So I suggested that Alanna give Aqua a call and invite her to the club. It was a little contrived, but it got everyone together in time for the big scene.

Daphne had gone on the floor to dance with Raoul. Alanna suddenly realizes that they're both gone. Suspecting foul play, Fred goes to investigate and finds Raoul in the alley behind the club with his teeth in Daphne's neck. A fight ensues, which includes Alanna whacking Raoul with her sketchbook and calling him a loser. One of the bouncers shows up to break things up and he suggests that Fred leave. Fred smiles politely and leaves.

Then he hunts Raoul down and kills him.

Fallout from the game:

Those three characters have gotten to know each other a little better and are starting to actually establish social bonds.

The local vampire community is now aware of Fred's presence and will be taking steps to take him down.

The game is starting to take a supernatural bent which I hadn't wanted, but which I should have forseen when I let Tim play a vampire hunter. I need to moderate that.

Oh, and I introduced a potential future menace. Kuriyama had another visitor that evening; a tall, white-haired man who was not a vampire. Fred is curious as to his identity. Actually, the man is an agent of Nephilim, which wants to make its own deal with Kuriyama. We'll be seeing more of him in the future

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Session: Gathering the Team

It's Wednesday already, so I'd better get around to commenting on last Sunday's game.

We actually had all five players together for a change. I was able to shepherd Kitty into coming up with an idea for a character. She's going to be a marine biologist named "Aqua Marie" with water-based powers. Not really happy with the name; on the other hand, Tim decided to call his character "Fred the Vampire Hunter".

I started the plot out establishing that each of the characters has recently discovered that they have strange abilities. Each one receives a message from an unknown person claiming to know about their super powers and directing them to come to a certain address the next day at such and such a time. (Alanna: Are you a stalker? You're a stalker!")

I had the characters arrive at the location (an empty, abandoned warehouse with a television monitor set up in the middle of the room) and meet each other. We had a fun bit when Nina, the blind violinist with psychic powers, attempted to tap into Fred's mind to see through his eyes. I had Fred roll to see if he noticed the intrusion. He did.

I told him, "You've been fighting vampires long enough to recognize when someone's trying to mind control you."

"Wait, it's daytime; she can't be a vampire!" one of the players protested.

"It's dark inside the warehouse," I replied. "The windows are boarded up and Nina's not standing in any direct sunlight."

So Fred leaped to one of the windows and ripped off the plywood allowing the sun to shine directly on Nina! Ooo! Nice and dramatic!!!

Too bad she wasn't actually a vampire.

When everyone had arrived, the television flickered on and a shadowy figure appeared on the screen.

The unknown person is Python, an NPC I've set up to be the team's patron. I intended him to be mysterious and secretive, appearing only as a voice on a telephone or a digitally blurred image on a computer screen. I decided that he has machine control powers, which would allow him to operate machinery telepathicly and mentally hack into computer systems; an ideal power for a behind-the-scenes string-puller.

Python tells them about a shadowy organization called Nephilim, whose purpose is to find powered individuals like them and use them for their own nefarious purposes. Python offers to protect the characters from Nephilim and wants to help them fight the sinister conspiracy.

(What the players don't know yet is that I plan on pulling a Xanatos Gambit with Python. He is actually a member of Nephilim himself and is plotting against them as part of his own little game. But that's a development for the future).

Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in working on Python's character sheet that I never got around to defining his agenda. And when one of the players asked him, "So what exactly do you want us to do?" I didn't have a good answer for them.

So I had a bunch of thugs bust in carrying guns.

The fight was somewhat disorganized; I did not follow turn sequences as well as I should have; but the group held it's own. With a little coaching and suggestions from the GM, Aqua was able to do some effective things with her water powers. (Her player, Kitty, is the least experienced of the players and so I want to help her get a firm grasp on what she can do).

The thugs were defeated, and Python promised he would be in touch with the group. Fred the Vampire Hunter suggested they search the thugs for identification. A logical move. I distracted the group so that I wouldn't have to give them an answer, but I will need to decide who the thugs were working for and what ID they might be carrying before next game.

So, for next time: Finish Python's character sheet; polish up Aqua's character sheet; figure out identity of the thugs and what all working for Python is going to entail.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Assembling the Characters

Still haven't started the new Secret Heroes campaign. We spent last Sunday's session working out some of the characters.

Harold Howe (Michael): A garage mechanic with super-strength. I spent a lot of time with him getting the strength level right. He wanted to be able to lift a car over his head, like the cover of ACTION COMICS #1. But we also wanted to keep him within the 250 Character Point limit I established for this campaign. (GURPS recommends that four-color supers be built on at least 500 points, but this is supposed to be a more realistic campaign. Also, the characters are just starting out and learning about their powers. I plan to allow the players to boost their characters considerably once they have a few adventures under their belts).

Nina Thompson (Toeboi): A blind concert violinist with telekinetic powers. Wait, wait! You haven't heard the cool part yet! She also has a mind link with her seeing eye dog allowing her to see through his eyes! I had to ruthlessly cut out some of the Disadvantages the player wanted; (for example, Fearfulness and Agoraphobia); which I judged would be too crippling for her character.

Alanna Andersen (Gamera Rose): An aspiring artist who works a day job as a waitress and who can control gravity and fly. At first Gamera wasn't sure what kind of character she wanted. She had a vague idea about flight powers. Looking through the GURPS: Powers suppliment, I suggested she link flight with general Gravity Control powers. The weird thing is, when I tallied up the point cost of all the advantages, disads and skills she wanted, they totalled up almost exactly to 250 points.

(Tim's Character): Tim wasn't here this week, so we weren't able to finish his character and he still hasn't given him a name. He's a half vampire, possessing certain vampiric powers and weaknesses, but he's not actually undead. He also has an obsessive mission to destroy vampires. He's going to be an interesting character to work into my gameworld, because I'm kind of ambivalent about allowing magic in the campaign. I think I have an idea of how to make it work, though.

(Kitty's Character): Kitty, unfortunately, hasn't been to a gaming session in a while. About a month ago, she made noises about wanting a magical character, but I haven't heard any more since then. We'll see.

Now I have to start defining the campaign setting better and setting up some NPC's.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Secret Heroes: Getting Set Up

Hokay. I've discussed the general idea of the campaign with my group. Today, we're going to actually make some characters. This is currently where our group stands: my players are:

Lute: my wife, who likes to play amazonian combat monsters and nymphomaniacs. She can't do as much of the latter in our public game without grossing out our teenage daughter and her friends. Lute's planning on sitting this campaign out. She has only so much tolerance for squealing adolescents. Pity.

Tim the Enchanter: Apart from Lute and myself, he's the oldest member of our group. He's the quiet type, who usually plays clerics in D&D campaigns, but he has a wickedly dry, deadpan sense of humor. For some reason, his characters always seem to be the first ones to take damage in our games. I don't know why. It just happens that way. He says that for this campaign he'd like to play a half-human/half vampire vampire hunter. Don't know exactly how this will fit into the campaign, but since he's the first one to come up with a coherent concept, I certainly want to encourage him.

Zany Michael: He's a college student and he enjoys playing the wacky, goofball characters. He really enjoyed the Saturday Morning Rock 'n' Roll Band campaign. He's bounced the idea off me of playing a time traveller from the future, but I don't think that will work with my campaign. Some ideas work better in the context of a story than in a game, and I think this is one.

Gamera Rose: Our oldest daughter. She'll be turning 15 next week. She likes to play smart but impulsive characters. She says she'd like her character to be able to fly. Apart from that, she doesn't have a lot of clear ideas, although she says she wants her character to have some good combat skills. She feels that a lot of her characters in previous campaigns have been useless in fights and she wants to be able to kick butt with the rest of us.

Toeboi: One of Gamera's best friends and frequent co-conspiritor in her fanfics. She likes to play disturbed and twitchy. She's leaning towards a psionic character, which would fit well in the campaign. Whether or not I can get her to fit well in the party is another question.

Kitty: Another of Gamera's friends. She's a newbie, and started playing with us with the Saturday Morning campaign. She's very enthusiastic, though, and enjoys gaming. She's expressed interest in a magic-using character, but I haven't had the chance to talk with her about it in several weeks. I'm not sure if I want magic to work in this campaign. On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to banish it either. I suppose I can always handwave it with a touch of Clarke's Law, but that's something I'll need to know when I build her character.

What I want each player to come up with in today's session is:

(1) What kind of powers they want to have.
(2) Who the character is
(3) How the character first learned he/she has super-powers
(4) Why the character is with the group

The Group is going to be the key to making this work, I think. Last year I ran a Victorian Era monster hunting campaing with my players and had a Charles Dickens of a time keeping them together. The characters weren't a team; they were simply a group of people who happened to know each other. Getting them to work together was like hearding cats.

For this campaign, I'm going to say that each character has been contacted by a Mysterious Personage who invites them to join this Group. The identity of this Personage and his or her Agenda will be a major sub-plot of the campaign, at least to start with. But from the beginning, the characters are going to need to come together and be willing to work together.

We'll see how things go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Direction

It's been months since I've posted anything in this blog. My original intent was to stuff it full of autobiographical notes and comments about the creative process and how I do things. And maybe I will still do that if the spirit moves me.

But I think I'll try something else. I'd like to try writing a gaming blog, documenting an RPG that I'm planning to run. This is something I've tried before, a diary of a campaign; but this time instead of just writing up a synopsis of what happened, I want to write down my plans; what I intend to do with the game; what long-range plots I want to construct. And what the players do to my finely-considered plans.

I'm currently running two campaigns: a solo game in a heroic fantasy setting with my wife, Lute; and a public game loosely inspired by Josie and the Pussicats and other Saturday morning cartoons, that I run with our usual Sunday group. The Sunday game has been running out of steam and I was thinking of running a Supers campaign to replace it.

I gave the group a prospectus listing a half dozen different types of Supers settings and asked them to vote on which ones they would like to play, ranging from traditional Four Color Comic Book Heroes to Angstful Mutants to Dark-n-Gritty. The option that has the most support is one I called "Secret Heroes". In this setting, the existence of super-powers isn't generally known to the public. No code-names, no costumes, no capes; at least not to start with. The characters have recently discovered that they have Powers and Abilities above those of Mortal Men and that there are others like themselves. Now they must decide how they intend to use those powers.

I intend the campaign to be dark with lots of conspiracies and ulterior motives and things. Whether or not I can keep the tone serious is up for grabs. I have an unfortunate tendency towards farce in the best of situations, and this group skews Chaotic Silly in alignment.

We'll see how it goes...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Enter the Ditto

I have this blog and I'm neglecting it. It must feel lonely.

my original plan was to use it to relate some of my adventures as an artguy. I feel that I want it to have some sort of theme. I have another online journal where diary what I'm doing (when I get around to it). I have a couple other places where I write on various topics. I even once tried maintaining a blog to record the role-playing game I was then running.

Last time, lo these many months ago, I talked about mimeographs. It's time, I suppose to mention the next step in my technological evolution: the Ditto Master.

Anyone who went to school in the '70s is probably familiar with the lavender ink and distinctive smell of the Ditto. The stencil consisted of a piece of paper on top of a second sheet coated with a tacky purple ink. When typed on, the ink transferred to the back of the top sheet, making the stencil. The hand-cranked Ditto machine used alcohol transfer to put the ink on the paper, which gave the freshly-printed sheets an unmistakable odor.

Unlike the Mimeograph, the Ditto did not require a special stylus. You could draw on the stencil with an ordinary ballpoint pen; in fact, the ballpoint was the idea instrument for this. But it was an unforgiving medium. You could not make corrections, unless you tried scraping the ink off the back of the stencil with a razor blade. Even then, as like as not, you'd wind up with an ugly purple smudge.

When I was in the third grade, our teacher made a monthly class newsletter that the class contributed to. I came up with the name, "The Third Grade Super Goop" and drew the masthead. I was rather proud that I came up with original art for it every month. Sort of like Will Eisner and The Spirit, I suppose.

But I was not to become a Master of the Ditto Master until junior high...

(to be continued...)