Sunday, 21 May 2017

Demon: Trinity

Demon: The Descent three-shot ended tonight. Keeping Demonic Form back from the rest of character generation speeded it up a bit, I think. The option to do more is there.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Heartless

Heartless, the Danish not-quite-vampire drama, is the best Monsterhearts game I’ve ever seen.

I see something I don’t recognise in your eyes...

(Amusingly, Godric from True Blood plays one of the clueless humans.)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Star Trek Discovery Trailer

You can’t set a course without a star...

UK-friendly Twitter trailer.

They really should have gone with uniforms for the first photo from the series, not those desert outfits that look Wrath of Khan but also more than a little like Rey’s outfit when it was new... even if the uniforms are a tad Mass Effect.

Grand hall of Klingons!

Unknown objects in space!

Spacesuits!

Doug Jones in alien makeup!

Snooty Vulcan!

Fighting!

Lens flare!

They’re hitting quite a few familiar beats here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Person Of Interest

I have now seen the last episode of Person Of Interest.

I’m fine.

(sniff)

I’ll be watching the first episode tonight.

The series really ran with the danger that its premise suggested, and the second half made it vitally important. It snuck a cyberpunk dystopia into the gimmick for a modern crime drama. The final battle gave the villains a genuinely compelling argument, and refuted it.

Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country, a new HBO series adapted from the Matt Ruff book by Jordan Peele and Misha Green (with JJ Abrams as executive producer) has its protagonist dealing with the real horrors of racism in 1950s America as well as horrors from the Mythos.

(Did Chaosium coin the phrase Lovecraft Country for their series of Call Of Cthulhu regional sourcebooks, or was it already in use?)

13th Age Bundle Of Holding

13th Age from Pelgrane on PDF, for a good price for the starter set, and spend a bit more to get a lot of stuff including the barnstorming dungeon deconstruction adventure Eyes Of The Stone Thief and an exclusive collection of the organised play adventures.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sunday, 14 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day +1

Last night was the quiet wind down evening, where I hopefully somewhat amused some other guests, and discovered that one of them is Vicki Earland, the creator of OneDice Raptors, a game that one of my friends ran at Conpulsion. It’s a small strange world...

Also hi Joe and family!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day Three

The Vampire: The Masquerade 5 playtest. Some info is out in the world already, and an alpha playtest will go out online in due course. It will probably lack the charmingly last-minute hand-drawn maps of the Berlin pre-alpha, though.

In the meantime, I can say that Hunger Dice are a pretty interesting concept, though the game will have to nail down what a Scene means...

And that the pre-alpha included Disciplines with a pretty MET feel and Virtues and Vices in a very Chronicles way.

And panels, Justin Achilli on why we play games and Mark Rein-Hagen on where these particular games came from.

Friday, 12 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day Two

News!

Mostly on Vampire: The Masquerade Fifth Edition, announcing Ken Hite as lead designer as well as Karim Muammar on rules, and fashion designer and photographer Mary Lee as art director.

A first edition feel with isolated cities and tyrannical Princes inciting the War of Ages with the dispossessed anarchs and the Sabbat as some mysterious danger elsewhere, rather than global conspiracy sects fighting. And a mechanics focus on The Hunger.

Also substantial news - The Storytellers’ Vault, like D&D Beyond for this system. Plans to support all four previous editions of VtM to begin with. Hmm. Tempted to write adventures...

GMing! Because by cracky, I will have tabletop gaming happen!

LARP! Enlightenment In Blood took over eleven locations in East Berlin, mostly around an artist’s colony with clubs, installations, and lots of graffiti. As another participant says, “The RAW Gelände looks like a Tim Bradstreet sketchbook.” Fantastic location, if rather too spaced out for my shins’ liking. Interesting game too, though I deliberately stayed on the periphery and got the picaresque found-footage experience rather than driving much story. (Though one of the groups may have survived the night because I said hello to someone...)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day One

Greetings from a hotel somewhere in Berlin.

So far I've attended the screening of the World Of Darkness documentary, which is less “before White Wolf, RPGs were for neeeeerds!” than some feared, while still focusing on some areas and skipping over others. Lots of good stuff from Tim Bradstreet about the art, for one thing.

Relics

From Steve D of Tin Star Games, Relics, a game of fallen angels who don’t know why they fell. Hopefully a couple years out.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Judge Dredd on TV?

I am hopeful about the announcement of Judge Dredd: Mega-City One from Rebellion and IM Global, a newish company started by a producer with SyFy and with a lot of licences on the roster. Hopeful, but will wait and see...

Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow, the TV series, is to end after four seasons. And I just finished catching up on the first season and a half.

I was advised that the mid-season break there is the point to stop for those who want closure as the show goes downhill after season one. Which looks to be true from that half-season already.

When I started up after the fun pilot, I was expecting it to run at a higher consistent Weird Level than it did, more like Angel than mid-season The X Files, considering it’s about...

Ichabod Crane being a Revolutionary War hero mortally injured in 1781 while fighting the Headless Horseman (and indeed making him headless), put into suspended animation by his wife Katrina who is a witch and revived in the present to fight the Horseman, who is actually one of the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse, teaming up with an understandably sceptical police officer, Lieutenant Abbie Mills, who has her own issues with demons and madness plaguing her family and the town.

I was a bit let down right from the first regular episode, when the two regular cops who backed Abbie’s story after getting halfway through trying to get the Horseman to put his hands on his head were written out and didn’t become recurring characters. The precinct captain joined the crusade, so having a couple of comic relief guys on the team too would have worked for me.

Another group seemed to be set up as potential allies and got murdered offscreen the next episode. It helped emphasise the danger of the battle against evil... but made the setup episode feel a tad wasted.

And some the real-world occult history was clearly dropped in a blender. (Druids are Greek?)

To be fair, the Weird Level ramped up quite a bit. Fighting monsters on horseback! Zombie Redcoats! Portals made of fragmented reality! Animated suits of armour with flaming swords! This is what I was after!

Though the “more like Angel” thing went a bit too far...

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Playing a family

The Gifted, the new X-Men spinoff TV series, is about a family with mutant children. Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker play the parents, making it seem like they're the main characters.

Having kids is a big issue for protagonists to deal with. I've hardly ever done it or seen it done. It would need the right players.

A Hellboy reboot?

I think Guillermo Del Toro’s first film of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy was great, and the second was a good Del Toro film that Hellboy was also in. A third or more might have balanced things out nicely, because Hellboy Vs. Elric In Faerieland is a fine setup for one of three or four movies about him rather than one of two, but it was not to be.

Now, it looks like we’re getting a new Hellboy movie, starring David Harbour, directed by Neil Marshall. I am okay with this. Harbour isn’t the “of course!” casting level of Ron Perlman but seems like he could pull it off. Marshall’s a good bloke. He brought Dog Soldiers and Doomsday to my local horror festival, The Descent to the same cinema for a preview, and came to the festival another year just to hang out and watch some movies.

Hoping it learns from the previous films and doesn’t keep all their changes. Hellboy being secret didn’t add all that much to the first film, and being revealed took up time in the second, for example.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Local Superheroes

Having mentioned Cool French Comics earlier, I thought I’d highlight Photonik and friends, superheroes created to join French reprints of Marvel comics.

So are they part of the Marvel Universe? Apparently not.

Still, they’re a good example of borrowing characters from local fiction rather than creating them as needed. Although you’ll note that Photonik is set in New York...

See also International Hero.

And Superhero Girl Vs. Canadian-ness.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

France as a setting

Another nation that could provide a rich variety of adventures.

Paris has cropped up a few times in my games as a highly recognisable location for tourist-y adventures, much like its role in many world-spanning movies. In this it’s a bit like London, but not as familiar to players based in Britain.

My first run of a straight spy game started in Paris, inspired by The Bourne Identity and featuring the subway and district divisions as well as more touristy backdrops. I also had a more cinematic spy game feature a car and boat chase along the east bank of the Seine, though I resisted the temptation to include the Eiffel Tower.

It’s also been a setting for adventures like a Doctor Who game fighting Nazis and dinosaurs in the early 1940s, Arthurian knights and Crusade-era vampires wandering all over western Europe, globetrotting adventurers and superheroes with a tendency to get into fights at or around famous landmarks, and Buffy being teleported away from Sunnydale by a monster trying to open the Hellmouth and having to get back without a passport.

I’ve never used it as a location for more than a single adventure or arc in any games, but I have considered it at times, like a supers or SF game mining Cool French Comics for characters and setups, or fantasy or horror cribbing from this thread about The Guide To Mysterious France.

I’ve also played the American translation of a French RPG, In Nomine. The adventure wasn’t set in France, however.

There are also supplements for France (or just Paris) for various real-world-based RPGs, and sections in Europe sourcebooks as well. I’ve seen Dreamhounds Of Paris for Trail of Cthulhu in action too. (Paris is a crater in Trinity. Sorry...)

Swashbuckling RPGs often feature Musketeers or analogues. The Revolution may or may not be an issue.

Likewise, Bretonnia in Warhammer started as just before the Revolution in WFRP 1 and then slid back to Arthurian High Middle Ages in the later wargame setting, while the Empire stayed early Renaissance throughout...

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Grim And Perilous Lego Minifigure

The Battle Dwarf from the new Lego Minifigures set is absolutely not a Troll Slayer from Warhammer. Not at all. Nope.
“Five angry trolls and a rock giant? Hah, what else d’ya got?”
Okay, maybe a little.


The Battle Dwarf is a fierce warrior of the Boar Clan, a brave and proud family renowned throughout the land for their expert iron-forging. He carries the axe Gougetusk, crafted by his own hand, and the legendary war hammer Snoutsmasher, famed for its ability to flatten enemies with the force of a charging razorback.
The Battle Dwarf is as loyal a friend as he is ferocious an opponent, though his hearty back-slaps of comradery are almost as likely to knock you over as a blow from his hammer. The tattoo on his shoulder recounts the tale of how he once faced a fire-breathing sea dragon. He didn’t manage to slay it or anything, but just getting away in one piece was considered a great heroic achievement – and the encounter left him with his magnificent new hairstyle, too!
Possibly more than a little.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Mexico as a setting

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, where a Mexican force held off the invading French army who outnumbered them two to one. It’s become a general event celebrating Mexican culture at home and abroad, especially in the U.S. One of the Mexican restaurants in town has a tequila promotion and face painting...

I nearly visited Mexico as a child, but I got appendicitis the night before. I insisted on being carried out to see the Rio Grande before we left the campsite to drive a hundred miles to a hospital.

I don’t think I’ve ever run or played an adventure set in Mexico. The closest I’ve come is the border, as it was in real life. I’ve had a few Mexican NPCs in U.S.-set games.

My first thought when I notice something like this is to look at a country’s history and find a good event to use for a Doctor Who adventure, or dropping a modern adventure in there. Since they’re mobile and facing an international threat, maybe I’ll send my current game to Mexico City for a session or two...

There aren’t very many sourcebooks or adventures for the country. There’s South O’ The Border for Deadlands, Mexico City By Night for Vampire: The Masquerade and Shadows Over Mexico for Chronicles Of Darkness, some Call Of Cthulhu adventures and at least one for Trail of Cthulhu as well... and for the Mexican wrestling action movie subgenre there’s Lucha Libre HERO and Luchador; Way Of The Mask, and probably more.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

God Mode

The moment where you use a rare power-up. Trusting the Force in D6 Star Wars, Apocalyptic Form in Demon: The Fallen, Going Loud in Demon: The Descent and more.

In Person Of Interest, the Machine rarely guides the heroes directly, and the results of God Mode are awesome in both the modern and traditional meanings. (Spoiler: I just saw 5.13, where it happens again in a new way, and it’s quietly terrifying.)

Which games have something like this, where you can occasionally drop a massive bonus or hit an I Win button?

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Scrappers from Osprey

Scrappers is a post-apocalypse squad skirmish wargame, with mutants, robots, cultists and the like, a pretty Gamma World setup all round. It doesn’t appear to have vehicle rules which I really associate with PA gaming going back to Dark Future because of the Mad Max connection, but still looks fun.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 was fun, but not as good overall as the first, I think. It overplayed some of the jokes, and I’m not entirely happy about the developments required to defeat the villain.

Also, so many cameos, some of them distracting from the film itself. I was amused by some, puzzled by others. Looks like some of them will go on to matter in later films.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Your writing prompt for the day


“Passage” (2007) by German land artist Cornelia Konrads

Thanks to Alistair Stuart for the link from Women’s Art on Twitter.

Demon: The Descent

I decided to go for Descent.

Now I just have to figure out why a canning plant was closed six months ago by industrial waste leaking upriver and reopened overnight as a computer factory, why the workers sleepwalk through their shifts, why a local human with insight into angels and demons was struck blind when she investigated, and why the overseer is an angel that one of the Unchained characters last saw at the battle of Stalingrad...