Archive for August, 2015


Summer moves into September

31 August, 2015

August draws to a close, leaving GenCon and most of Summer behind, hopefully seeing the last of Summer’s heatwave as well.  September, which is seventh month of the Roman calendar, does not seem to have any particular ties to myth or man among the Romans, however,  as Seven is usually viewed as a magical number, magic and spells will be our theme for this month.   Please let me know if there is anything you would like to see.

I will be out of town in early September to visit my mother and Washington, DC.   May or may not be able to reply much while I am there but I will certainly have news to share when I return.

If you like what you see, please consider supporting My Patreon.

July and August, 2015, saw the following posts here on the design journal:

Read the rest of this entry ?


PinkCat: Running in the Shade “Music Biz” (A different sort of SR campaign report)

30 August, 2015

To understand what is going on here, you had best read the first PinkCat: Running in the Shade post, but short summary, this is a campaign report for our Shadowrun campaign set in NorCal through the filter of a cartoon made by one of the team members.

Episode Thirteen: Music Biz

Music!Guest Starring: Bladez and DD.

The team is hired to rescue a musician from a sleazy music promoter who has lured them away with promises of nova stardom.  Lots of classic schtick of the team trying to get into the big concert to rescue them and having to try to outwit Gorillaz Security and avoid Officer Bloodhound.  Finally they get through and convince the musician to return back to where they are loved and making the music they love rather than becoming a corporate manufactured idol.  End scene of the musician playing a low key club gig with all of the team appearing in the crowd.

What really happened:

Read the rest of this entry ?


My Advice for Running Convention Games (August Blog Carnival)

29 August, 2015

Creative Mountain Games is hosting this month’s Blog Carnival on Convention Gaming and here is my contribution:

I have been working GenCon for AEG since 2000, missing two years along the way, mostly demoing games, and most recently back to Games Mastering.  I have run per-packaged modules before but for the last three years, I have been creating and GMing the adventures for GenCon.   So, this advice is primarily for GMs.

Be Prepared, have what you need (books, dice, notes) ready, but also have the minimum the players need as well: character sheets, dice, pencils, paper for name tents, and whatever else they may need for the adventure at hand.

For example: Legend of the Five Rings (L5R), which I GM, requires a fair number of D10s, so I have a bag of 30 for my own and the players’ use.  (Though I do usually manage to forget something, this year it was extra pencils.)

Let the Players Make Informed Choices, player do not know your style of play and (in some cases) the setting and rules, so do not be afraid to stop the game to explain the situation, risks and rewards to the players.  Start with making sure that the players are able to make an informed choice as to the characters they are playing, for something like Pathfinder Society where they build their own, this is not so much of a problem but when providing pre-generated characters it can be more of a challenge.

For example: Here are the cover sheets to the characters I used for my introductory L5R game, note especially the “Play this character if” section, that all of the advantages, disadvantages and school techniques are defined (so the player does not need to look at the rulebook), and, lastly, there are brief roleplaying hooks for the other characters.  The “Play this character if section” and defining the Ads/DisAds was new for this year and very well received so I highly recommend a similar build for other GMs as it allows the players to find a character they want to play easily and then have to tools to do so immediately.

Let the Players Set the Tone, now, my default mode for games is drama to action movie, trying to move the plot along and playing a fairly serious game.  But at a convention, you need to adapt to what the players are interested in, I start with my default setting and adjust from there.  If people want something light, play up the absurdities of the situation and let fun coincidences happens.  If they want something dark, the brutal combat system of L5R -for example- will help provide that.  Roll with the mood of the table and the game will be better for it.

Be sure that you have eaten before hand and have drinks to hand, being hungry will throw you off your game, so eat, and not being hydrated will be rough on your body and your voice (which you will be using, a lot, as a GM at GenCon, as it gets noisy), so have water or other drinkable to hand.  Throat drops can also be helpful.

Well, those are the big things that I have learned and that I think have made my games pretty successful over the years.  I hope they prove helpful to you as well.


History Resources for your Game

28 August, 2015

A variety of interesting articles and sites about history I have found recently and wish to share:

An amazing site that is a collection of thousand of aerial photographs of England taken between 1919 and 1953, Britain from Above.

A good article about the new display, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, at will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center.  The Victorian attitude toward death was so very different from ours.

While this bends into a political discussion, it still has interesting information on the history and development of dyes.

Ten apartment building floor plans from early 20th Century NYC (you can find the source for such and more at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery).

From Historic England,  an Introduction to Medieval Settlements, technical but short and packed with information.

One of the ways news was spread of judicial punishment in early modern Europe was through murder ballads, recount the crimes and (more importantly) punishment of those executed.  Your campaign needs these.

Any news of a historical nature catch your eye lately?


Tuesday Magic Item – Gaslighting Box

25 August, 2015

Plainer than this evenVoddick closed the door and then opened it again, it was a spartan, cell like room on the other side with narrow windows.  “That was a broom closet the last time I looked inside,” he said mostly to himself.

Gollaon peered over his shoulder and looked at the door frame.  “Close it again.”

Voddick did so and his friend traced a sigil on the door.  “Try now.”

Carefully, Voddick did so revealing . . . a broom closet with a plain gray box on the floor.

“Someone is playing nasty games,” said Gollaon, “and we need to find out who.”

Gaslighting Box

These odd items appear as nothing more than a plain metal box, careful examination will reveal that its lid is false and that it is in fact a sealed cube.  Polishing the box with oil will reveal the concealed symbols that must be traced to activate its magic.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Dark Future Ahead 12 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

20 August, 2015

There has to be an adventure in disrupting (or supporting) an internet troll factory, a place than manufactures opinion for a government, or megacorporation, by spamming social media with posts in support of this or against that.  Fascinating.

Listed to to soothing sounds of the BotNets,  MicroSoft is listening to the web, literally, to locate and analyze botnets.  Quite intriguing.

What will the skyscraper of the future look like?  Architect Ole Scheeren has some interesting ideas.

Transparent aluminum!  We can make transparent aluminum, a staple of early SF becomes reality.

Talor Swift’s video Bad Blood has the right sort of vibe for entertainment within the cyberpunk future.  I see it as a future video game trailer with each of the named characters available as playable options.

Make your own opiates from sugar with the right yeast.  More use for those biochemistry degrees.

And how about 3D-printed pills to go with your yeast grown opiates?

What signs of the coming dark future have you seen recently?


Tuesday Magic Item – Festival Bracelet

18 August, 2015

Sort of like this“Why are all those people flashing those bracelets?” asked Voddick.  “Is it a cult?  Because I do not need any more cults in my life.  It cannot be fashion as they are too . . . tacky.”

Gollaon laughed.  “If you find them so, it must be true.”

Voddick was about to defend his sartorial choices when a group of half-naked young folk, all wearing bracelets, chased each other around and through the pair.  “Wait . . . what?” said a dazed Voddick as they ran off laughing.

“They are to worn during such celebrations to prevent unwanted . . . complications arising from carnal pleasures,” explained Gollaon.  “When two or more of them are touched together they glow to prove they are still working.  That is important, as their magic usually does not last any longer than the festivals they are worn for.”

Voddick just shook his head.  “I find I am disturbed by the level of hedonism such magic implies.”

Festival Bracelet

These colorful bracelets are woven from brightly, but cheaply, dyed cloth or fibers, usefully in color associated with the festival being celebrated or the organization providing the bracelets or both.  Their magic is triggered by tying them around ones wrist or ankle with a special knot (that cannot be undone, only cut) and the bracelet glows for a few seconds when it is activated.

Read the rest of this entry ?


GenCon 2015, My Experience

15 August, 2015

AEG booth in progressAs is usual, AEG contacted me about working their demo team for GenCon and equally as usual, I accepted.  So my friend H, who also works GenCon for AEG, and I headed up when the time was right.  So, as we were required to help with setup starting on Tuesday, we left Monday, and drove to Cave City, spent the night and then into Indianapolis on Tuesday morning, arriving safely at the Crowne Plaza (conveniently located almost directly across from the dealers hall).  Dropped our stuff off in the room and then met up with the rest of the team and the mad setup began!  It was kind of fun but tiring, assembling displays, tables and shifting boxes and products for about seven hours.  Fun Fact, the convention center does not turn the air conditioning on in the dealers hall until Thursday.  Then, dinner at the Ram where they had War Machine-themed menus, cider on tap and delightful fish and chips.  I have tired to eat at the Ram for the last two years and I will make it back some time as I really enjoyed the experience. Read the rest of this entry ?


Rokugan SRIU Episode 5 “Promises Made” (L5R Campaign Report)

11 August, 2015

The characters have triumphantly return from their visit to Paper Street where upon they are dispatched North on an inspection tour through Lion and Phoenix lands, sans Otaku.  With very little time to prepare, but the Bayushi finds a package from Kiau Taura in her room, containing a new frog mask of steel to replace the heavy iron one she had been wearing.  Things are uneventful on the Lion side, though Akina does receive a letter . . . instructing her to assist Ikoma Masaji should she encounter him.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Tuesday Magic Item – Testing Wand

11 August, 2015

Something like thisVoddick frowned as the wooded top at the end of the wand fell off when he picked it up.  “Did I break it?”

Gollaon caught the top before it hit the ground.  “Not at all.  The magic that holds the two together as worn off.”

“But I just saw the scullery maid playing with it and it was working.”

“Indeed?  She may have a bright future ahead then.”

Testing Wand

These mass-produced items are not uncommon in places where magic schools or guilds operate, they are simply enchanted wooden wands with an attuned toy (usually a ball or top) that the wand can make spin or roll.

Read the rest of this entry ?

%d bloggers like this: