Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Gaming bugbears - "It's what my character would do!" (video)

Talking about players who use this phrase as an excuse to disrupt play.

RPG questions - What is immersion? (video)

Talking about immersion in RPGs.

Serpents Fall - Overhauling Spirits & Sorcery

Following on from our first Serpents Fall game on G+, one of the aspects of the game that I wasn't particularly taken with was sorcery; it worked okay but whenever something involving spirits occurred it pretty much split the party into sorcerors and non-sorcerors with the two not really meeting until the matter was resolved.

After looking at an excellent conversion of a pulp hero by Garth Rose on Google+ I decided to make an attempt at using his rules to model the spirits and sorcery within my game.
* * *

Amended Rules

Spirits

It does not require any special Stunt or ability to perceive spirits any longer (unless they are specifically hiding themselves using their powers), all people can perceive and interact with spirits.

Sorcery

In order to use sorcery the character must have an appropriate High Concept or other Aspect that includes knowledge of sorcery.

There are a number of Sorcery Stunts (as shown below).

Bind Spirits: When in contact with a spirit the sorceror may engage them mentally (as per the Stunt - Mental Contact), instead of inflicting stress the sorceror may ask the spirit to perform one task (lasting no more than a few hours) for every two levels his roll beats the spirits; if the task is utterly against the spirits nature the GM can pay a fate point to veto the task and take the stress instead. If the sorceror loses then he takes the appropriate amount of stress himself due to psychic feedback.

If a spirit is Taken Out by psychic damage, the sorceror can bind it to a task for a year and a day (although if they want to take is as a companion then they will need to buy it as a new Stunt).

Mental Contact: The sorceror can make a Clever roll to make contact with someone (resisted by the same Approach) in the same zone; if the sorcerors roll is higher then he may ask (and receive honest answers) to 1 question per every two points that his roll beats his opponent or inflict levels of stress equal to the number of points his roll beat the opponent. If the sorceror loses then he takes the appropriate amount of stress himself due to psychic feedback (the opponent may only take information from the sorceror's mind if they are also a sorceror).

Sorcerors receive +2 to attack/defend against mental contact.

Being Taken Out by psychic damage generally means one's mind is completely open to one's opponent.  Post-hypnotic suggestions, compulsions, altered memories, and the like are all possible.

Unearthly Knowledge: Once per session, the sorceror can get the answer to a question he would have no earthly way of knowing the answer to.  This is generally accompanied by watching birds, or even having a raven land on his shoulder - it probably won't work indoors, unless maybe the spirits are really restless. 

* * *

Please note: Credit for the original work on these rules goes to Garth Rose, i've simply tweaked them a bit and done some small adaptions for use with Fate Accelerated.





Reflecting on the first Serpents Fall session

Well we made our first attempt at running an introductory session of Serpents Fall (our G+ Fate Accelerate Fantasy game) last night; i've just sent off messages to all of the players in it asking for feedback and thought i'd put my own views in this blog.

You can find a link to the video footage here.

For me the game was something of a mixed bag, consisting of both positives and negatives; since I was on a bit of a downer following the amount of work that myself and the players had put into the campaign setting only to have the first session so dogged by technical hitches I thought that i'd list some of the positive and negative points in an attempt to cheer myself up:

Positives
  • Everyone seemed to enjoy the session.
  • Character genning was fairly quick and I really loved how the players all grabbed hold of the story based idea of the Fate Accelerated rules system.
  • Was good to do some tabletop with friends whom I don't get chance to game with (in that format).
  • The player characters seemed to gel as a party with the first flickers of IC banter and relationships forming.
  • We managed to carry out a small introductory (since not all players are familiar with the Fate Accelerated rules) combat that went off fairly well.
  • The scene is now set for the next main session.
  • All of the players seemed willing and keen to do another session.


Negatives
  • Almost constant technical problems meant that we had people dropping out and jumping back in, I got booted from the hangout twice meaning that we ended up having to film it in three segments.
  • Due to the tech problems the game felt a little dis-jointed since we had to keep re-capping for people who had dropped out and re-joined.

In Summary

Despite feeling a little down about the campaign when I originally sat down to start writing this post, looking at the list of positives and negatives there are far more positives from the game than their were negatives, indeed the only negative points seem to stem from the technical issues that we had.

Writing this post has cheered me up no end and made me far more optimistic about the potential of Serpents Fall as a long running campaign; I'm now going to wait for the players to get back to me with their feedback and see where we go from there, our next session is scheduled for a couple of weeks time - hopefully we'll have a bit better luck on the technical side of things and we can just jump straight into the game :)



Monday, 21 October 2013

Serpents Fall - Session 1 (video)

This a series of links to the video footage of our first G+ Serpents Fallssession, unfortunately due to technical hitches we had to record it in three segments.

Part 1


Part 2



Part 3






God Machine Chronicle - The World According to Maggy Pike : Part Four


IC blog of fourth and final God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Kelly Grimshaw
Reproduced with permission from the author.




Ok, so now we are totally clear that Dr Who didn’t turn up to save the day. Oddly enough it was Brian and Joe, yep you did read right, Mr my mouth always gets into trouble Best and Mr I would rather knock your teeth out than talk to you Thompson came to our rescue, the most unconventional knights in battered and bloody armor ever.
Like I said before, I am writing this all down to try to make sense of it all but if I am completely honest I think it will take me more than this life time to achieve.
I left my last blog where I was about to answer a call. I really thought that my brains were going to be sucked out through the speaker or something else dreadful but I am also the kind of person that really cannot let a phone ring, you never know how much will cost to ignore in my line of business.

I took a very deep breath and pressed the answer button on my phone.
“Hello” Both I and Brian say together.
I have to pull the phone away from my ear, instead of a voice came a noise. Now, anyone under the age of about twenty five will have no idea what I’m talking about and by rights I shouldn’t know either but my father was not one to keep up with technology.
So, this noise was a banshee like screech of the sound when you pick up the home phone when the internet is plugged into the land line socket.
After the noise dies away I place the speaker next to my ear again and hear nothing but static. In the background a voice like a mouse shouting in a tin can I hear Hello? Hello?
I remembered what was said in the pub about they can hear you when you can hear static so I quickly hang up.
Brian from the sound of it though heard something and tries to engage the voice in conversation.
“Bartek? Is that you? What do you mean?
I guess that Bartek doesn’t answer, besides the fact that Brian said he was dead that is, he hangs up with a puzzled look on his face.
I presume our voices wake Catia because when I turn round she is sitting upright and has her laptop open and her fingers are furiously tapping across the keyboard.
She looks a little frustrated, there is no connection but again we hear the sound of static. This time it is coming from her speakers.
A voice sounding like Stephen Hawking’s mixed with the speaking clock is reciting numbers, the same numbers we came across a few hours earlier.
“Do you have a bible?” Brian casually asks.
“What type of question is that to ask a person? To be honest I have no idea. Go and have a look if you want.”
“Now there isn’t anything to get embarrassed about is there. Um you know, in your draws…” Brian asks, clearly uncomfortable about finding a ladies personal, battery powered devices.
“Nothing to be embarrassed about.” I smirk
“It’s not your embarrassment I am on about” He replies turning away.
“No, go ahead.”  I call to him in the bedroom, I know there are some Buddhist books and books on growing stuff but I am pretty sure there isn’t a Gideon’s in there although you can never be sure. They do seem to be popping up everywhere now.
While I am enjoying this mild form of entertainment Catia, with a look of panic turns off her laptop but the voice continues. She quickly removes the battery and stillit continues. In a desperate attempt to stop something from happening she runs over to my window and fights against the storm to open it. The laptop goes the same way my mirrors did and it turns end over end in the air before it disappears from view.
Our smack head friend looks upset seeing the laptop disappear out the window. You can clearly see I could have sold that flicker across his face before he shrugs and continues eating.
She turns back and goes to grab anything with a speaker.
Telly I am fine with loosing I am also fine with losing the land line, the only person who knows it besides the gas and electric people is my mother and I am totally fine with not hearing from her. However my stereo also has speakers and I am not letting them go. Ever.
“Don’t touch my stereo.” I warn her.
Catia is about to speak when there is a frantic banging on my door. I look through the spy hole to see the resident smack head pounding his fists on the wooden door.
My good nature overrides common sense and I open it.
He barges past me and bangs the door shut behind him, pushing all the locks into place as he goes.
“Do come in.” I say sarcastically
He leans back on the door and exhales.
“Sorry about that.” He replies to my sarcasm “but it has gone to shit out there.”
I am not sure if it is the ah-hem samples that Joe gave to him earlier or adrenalin that is making him shake but this lad is messed up. A second look at him and it is mainly adrenalin. Mainly.
He is terrified.
He sits down and tells me that he saw a group of Polish men kicking the shit out of someone on the stairs. It had all kicked off at the pub and when Joe went in to disperse the crowd it had just carried on all through the block. There was no way he could have helped the man. Although I didn’t say anything I am sure that he could have done something. so he panicked and ran to the only person he knew on this floor. Me. Lucky me.

“We cut your arm off.” Great bit of timing there from Joe informing Brian of the simple solution. The poor lad looks even more horrified.
“Cut whose arm off?” He asks, his pail completion slowly whitening more.
I tell him to make himself at home. There is food about the house and I am sure there is some beer left in the fridge and push the rolling stuff towards him in the hope it will distract him from the conversation that Joe and Brian are having about going back into the mirror world.
He grabs some left over vegetable chaw main off the table and commences shoveling it into his mouth.
“There’s a microwave in the kitchen.” I gesture with my hand. I would feel better if he nuked the hell out of it, I don’t want to add food poisoning to the lads list of problems.
“It’s working?” He asks surprised.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?” I ask, just as surprised.
The power keeps going, I think the generators on its last legs to be honest, it must have been going since, err well, since, erm since the storm began I suppose.”
There it is again, not knowing when the storm hit. Once you know what to look for it seems like the clues to whatever are bloody everywhere.
“No, we haven’t been hit yet.”
“Well you’re lucky then, all the floors lights keep going out.”
He ambles off clutching his leftovers into the kitchen where I hear a can being opened and the microwave bursting to life.
The two lads get up and arming themselves with what sharp cooking equipment is left on the draining board, a fairly serviceable carving knife for Brian and an innocent bread knife that just looks evil in Joe’s skilled hands they check the spy hole and make a brake for it.

I tell Catia that I am going to grab as much stuff as I can as there are possible black outs heading our way and while I am checking the contense of the medical cabinet she informs me that if we both go to her flat then she has a lot more medical supplies there and we can stock pile between us.
I quickly run around the flat grabbing blankets, torches, batters, candles, lighter fuel and a couple of lighters and pile them around the living room before we go over to hers.
“Look at me dude.” I ask our pet druggy. “Now I am trusting you to stay here for a few minutes while we nip over the road, cross me and I’ll hunt you down.” He nods but I think from the way he has downed the takeaway, two pot noodles and is currently necking a third as long as the food keeps coming there won’t be any problems but he shaking like the devil in a nunnery and who knows when the little medicated voices in his head will flip the switch.
We time our moment and run over to her place.
Shoes, clothes, dirty plates are all scattered over the room, bomb site style as she grabs a rucksack and begins grabbing everything she can find for a first aid bag, including a couple of small bottles that she stashes away in her pocket.
Honestly from the picture perfect style of this girl you really wouldn’t think she would let her place get so bogged down but then if she is spending all her time on hair, makeup, clothes and shoes something’s have to slide.
We get back to my flat and secretly surprised that he hasn’t cleaned me out Catia sits beside him and pulls out a couple of pills from her bag.
“Oi smack head!”
“I ain’ no smack head.” He answers slightly hurt
I have to laugh; it looks like the last few days have hardened our lass’s squeamish nature.
“I take base.” He continues under his breath.
“These are a little something that will get you high but will defiantly kill you. Do not take these if you until you are sure you want to die.”
Our resident junkie looks towards me, I shrug I honestly have no idea what they are. He then looks at Catia and gratefully takes them; he has suddenly stopped shaking so much and rediscovers his appetite.
“Come and help me find some sheets for bandages hon.” I ask Catia, well I can’t keep feeding everyone tea can I?
While we route around in the bedroom I ask Catia
“So what were these Devine pills then?”
“Devine?”
“Yeah, you know, get you so high you touch heaven and want to stay there.”
Oh. Yeah. Paracetamol, ‘bout 500mg.”
“Paracetamol?” I ask flatly.
“Yeah, I can see he’s twitchy, if he thinks he has something then he’ll stop worrying. Placebo effect” She smiles.
“Ah, I see. Clever. Here these will do.” I grab an old bed sheet, towel and a pair of sheers and we head back into the front room.

We have been working on or little makeshift hospital for about an hour when, trying very hard to ignore the sounds of gun fire and screams of the riot when someone begins to bang on the door.
“Who is it?” I yell.
“We’re squishy.” Joe’s voice yells back
They force the door open as I am undoing the locks and fall through in a rush to escape all the excitement.
Brian, who I am sure, has his brain wired directly to his jaw. It is either that or his head will explode if he stops talking for five minutes tells me begins to tell me what happened.
Joe sits on a free chair, he is looking thoughtful. That is never a good thing. It usually ends up painful for someone.
“We fight out way into the corridors; everyone was out there, all fighting. In some form of blood lust frenzy. This begins to peter out after the tenth floor and by the time we get to the thirteenth floor there is no one out there. It’s all quiet like. I go to jimmy the lock when I hear footsteps coming towards us. And blow me if Bartek opens the door. Alive, well and healthy looking. In a suit fresh from the cleaners, I say fresh from the cleaners. He invites us in all friendly like, and so’s I ask about the coffee table he sold to me when I was up there last. Bartek then tells me he doesn’t remember but they are welcome to it. I asks him to oblige us with a cuppa and while he is making tea I flips the table over and tries to push me hand through. And you’ll never believe it; it was solid. Just a normal mirror. He comes back a bit quicker than we expected so Jo asks him about some weapons. As they are chatting well blow me if a cat appears from the back room and sits down and stares at us. We make our excuses to leave and when Joe shakes his hand it is the same breezeblock feeling from Miles. So what I’m reckoning is that when we heard his voice on the phone, it was the real one being uploaded into this new copy of him. ”
While Brian is talking at me Catia sits down next to him and pokes the patch of skin on his arm that has been numbed since the mechanical bagpuss bit him. Until she began testing the area around the deadened area he hadn’t noticed that it had been very slowly spreading up his arm. Well logically he wouldn’t would he? It is a numb patch of skin so no, you wouldn’t feel it. But before I manage to get this point across a soft scratching comes from the lower half of my front door. Automatically I look to the door expecting to see Luna wanting a little privet time. Luna is not there.
Now that is strange. She never leaves my side; she is like a canine shadow only much harder to remove. As I go to find her Catia shouts “Have you got a cat?”
“Cat? No. Dog, yes. That is if I can find her.” I say the last part to myself. I am starting to panic. She has not left my sight since she was a pup and that was only because she got stuck in the air ducts. I still have no idea how that happened but I would rather think about that now than the possibility that they have got to her.
Even in the bedroom I can clearly hear two sets of claws frantically scratching the woodwork to get in. I hear Catia say leave it outside to the others.
I crouch down next to the bed and look under it.
A pair of very frightened eyes look back. Luna is spooked and is not leaving the safety of the bed. I pull her out by the scruff of her neck and it is a fight. She wines, twists and tries to squirm out of my grip, she really doesn’t want to come out. I have never sensed so much fear pouring of one animal. I place her on my lap and try to comfort her from whatever is scaring her and let’s be honest I can guess it is coming from my front door. After about five minutes I still can’t calm her down so I let her go and she immediately wriggles back to the safety of the space under my bed.

“If the mirror door to Bartek has closed, what’s to say that any are still open? We need to get down to the first floor flat with the huge wall mirror. But I do suggest that the girls stay here.” I hear Joe explain to the group as I use the bed frame to pull myself up.
“Well how are we to get back outside without letting the cat in?” Brian asks as I return to the front room I feel I have missed part of the conversation but there is no time for them to go over it again.
“Open the door.” Joe commands. I would really like to see what would happen if one brave soul were to ever say no to him. I may have to try it one day, just one where he is not looking so determined.
Brian looks to Joe to see if he is ready and nods. He flings the door open and before anyone can react Joe is booting the cat rugby style and is looking for the try.
As the airborne cat shrieks its argument its instincts kick in and manages to drag one set of claws down his shin before it disappears down the corridor an angry furry flying ball of death and vengeance.

By the look of the clock about two hours go by. I know for a fact that it is not the right time, my job doesn’t have set hours but the minuet hand goes round twice so it’s an educated assumption. Our resident base head has finished his fifth pot noodle and is now dozing, with the help of a blunt that is still resting in his mouth in the bean bag chair.
“Is there anything else we can do?”
The noise out in the hall is now so loud that it sounds like it is literally outside the door. Before the lads left it sounded like any other street fight, all shouts and screams but there are more and more gun shots being heard. It sounds like total bedlam and only thing going to subdue the riot is when they are all dead.
“I can honestly think of nothing more we can do. If the lads come back injured and expecting a M.A.S.H set up and find that we are off gallivanting down the halls then that won’t help anyone.” I answer, rescuing the smoke from falling onto the chair.

Another hour goes by and the ashtray begins to over flow. As the noise of the bloodshed gets closer still, if that is at all possible.  Someone bangs on the door hard enough to knock it down.
“Who is it?” I ask exhaling bluish smoke of a blunt at the same time.
“We’re squishy.” Comes Joe’s reply again, this time though it seems labored.
“And Joe’s bleeding.” Brian continues.
They fall through door open as I am undoing the locks and force it shut, pushing the locks home again in anurgency only seen by people in fear for their lives.
Joe is indeed bleeding. There is a hole through his shoulder.
I get him to lie on the sofa while Catia attends to him.
“Got caught by a stray bullet.” Joe mumbles while being patched up.
“We need to get out. Out of the block and away from the building.” Brian tells me, he looks scared. I have never seen him look so shaken, that and Luna petrified under the bed I am happy to get away from here for a while.
I nod and start packing a bag.
“We need five ounces of your strongest stuff” Joe looks at me. He speaks more clearly now he is bandaged; I presume over ride kicked in, it has to in his line of work.
“Have you got anything to make us happy in that little bag of yours?” He asks Catia.
“Happier? Look I am all for having a session but what the hell is going on?”  As they both look at me then to each other I realize that my internal dialog has shut down and I actually said that out loud.
“We will explain outside, we have to get to the bus stop.” Brian answers. I can now see that he has a rucksack on his back with a tent perched on top.
“You” Joe turns to the junkie. “Come with me.” He is followed to the back room where I hear the door to the growing room being unlocked. I head into my room and grab Luna out from under the bed. I wrap her in a blanket, hide her under my coat as best I can and go back to the living room
“Monkey, meet the plantation.”  I hear Joe say as he pulls the door open
“What, really?”
“Yeah, sure. Knock yourself out.”
“Come on, we haven’t got time for this.” Brian says, checking the hallway through the spy hole.
Timing it carefully we manage to make it through the now almost berserker frenzy madness of the block inhabitants and after what seems like a life time we manage to get to the lobby.
“We are going to have to hold hands to make sure we don’t get lost in the blizzard” Says Brian.
“Fine, but we are going boy girl.” Joe replies.
Really? At a time like this you are worried about holding another blokes hand?
“Fine.”
We manage to struggle to the bus stop where, like before there is a tiny tropical square in the middle of Siberia.
The tent is just big enough to fit in the snow vacant space and just about big enough for the four of us to sit, snuggly inside. Well at least we are warm.
I sit and roll four blunts, so big I feel Jimmy Hendrix would be proud and with the help with, Valium I think Joe and Brian tell us what they found.
Now what you have to remember is that we were really, really high at this point so I am writing this as best as I remember it.

“After we realize that Bartek's mirror either no longer worked or had been replaced somehow, Joe and I fought our way down to the first floor;  the abandoned flat, where we find the tall mirror, it feels like it was waiting for us; I don’t know how important it is but the door had been replaced. After Joe knock on the door, and when I mean knock I mean boot the thing off its hinges.  I pokes at the mirror and me hand goes through. I enters into the strange reflected world, where a strange iron-like smell fills the air, so thick it fills my nostrils and flows down into my lungs. After finding nothing in the flat Iwalks out into the corridor of the mirror-world. Odd red/black splotches are splattered along the walls, ceiled and floor of the corridor.

I am about to head upwards, as we agreed beforehand,when some movement outside the window catches me attention; looking outside through the flimsy, reflection of a window, they were as flimsy as the rest of the world, kinda like tracing paper. I sees a field of white with the strange black circle floating in it. Tearing the paper thin reflected window I pokes me head out and is confronted with a huge figure towering above the tenement, with pale white skin, colorless eyes, and a perfectly white suit; the hair of the figure is whipped about in the wind, but funnily enough there is none around me. It stares pitilessly down at the tower block.I waves at the humongous statue but there is no reaction and so I pulls my head back in and continues on me journey. “

Brian stops talking and motions with his hand to Joe to carry on with his part of the story.

“Not much to tell to be honest, in our world, well you have just seen how bad it was getting out of there.”

I can see that he is in a lot of pain, May be the Valium will kick in soon and he will feel like talking again.

Brian, sensing that that was all Joe wanted to say for now and continues, "Reaching the mirror world top floor, I sees that here the entire place is coated with the strange red/black substance, hell I can barely see any normal wall; I sees that there is a sky light in the ceiling but I need something to stand on. Irealize that none of the flimsy fake furniture in this mirror world will support my weight. And then I remembers that the furniture in the reflected version of my own place has been becoming progressively more solid since I had been bitten.”

“I make my way to the reflected version of my flat, I sees a shadowed figure sat watching the TV, and all too human for my liking and blow me if I don’t see my very own arm gripping the TV remote! Grabbing my mini-step ladder I attempted to leave without rousing the creature but the freakish scarecrow-like figure, with its horrible button eyes, crumbling straw and all too human arm rises from the chair and comes at me, stumbling like and hits me hard across the forehead with the remote. Thinking quickly I pin the thing to the wall using the ladder, sprays it with lighter fluid and flicks me lighter at it. The straw catches and begins to burn, flaming bits of grass and hessian falling to the ground, however the human arm burns like flesh and I feels the pain as though my own arm were catching fire and burning down to the bone. I grit my teeth against the pain and telling try to tell meself that it is not real, that was a challenge, I can tell you. I holds the scarecrow in place until it has burned completely, leaving just skeletal arm bones which crumble to dust when I touch it. After the adrenalin wears off a bit I poke at my own numb flesh and imagine my relief when it has all disappeared and back to its normal self.

I then go back to the skylight and use the ladder to pull meself up onto the roof. Coming face to face with the gigantic figure I wave and shout but I don’t think it can hear me as it just stands there staring. Care to try again Joe?”

Joe put the smoke to his lips and lit it with his zippo, he took a deep drag and then passed the still lit lighter to Catia who did the same and passed it down the line, “I had reached the top floor of the flats and after a while of talking to the door Mr Carlson eventually let me in. The pudgy man looked extremely scared, which I found rather odd as I had not spoken to him before.” Joe smirked. It wasn’t that funny but we laughed anyway.

“He was leaning on his cane hard as he let me in, as I followed him into the front room I could see he was limping. It took some persuading; after I shook his hand and I saw he was relieved to see it was a normal hand I told him that I was still squishy.” Again we laughed at something not very funny. I think the Valium was doing its thing.

“Carlson told me that he was only a middle manager. He was out of work with a sick mother and all sorts of bills piling up. A business group lead by Mr White approached him and offered to make him rich. The usual promises that would turn any man drowning in debt. They would take care of his mother and give him a place to live if he ran Spectro Vale for them.”

“Who is Mr White?”

“As I am speaking to Mr Carlson his phone rings. I pick it up and a restrained voice says our security is compromised, I would advise you to spend some time with your mother Mr Carlson. Your services will soon no longer be required.” Joe ignored the Mr White question; either that or he didn’t hear it.

“Carlson looked even more frightened on hearing the message and we head to his mother’s flat. The crazy cat lady of floor thirteen.  I have absolutely no idea how it happened as we were the only two out in the corridor but one moment he was fine the next he gave a shriek, clutched his chest and fell forward. At first I thought he had had a heart attack but when the claret started to leak through his figures I could see he had been shot. Seeing as there is nothing I can do for him, what with it being fatal and all I grab his ankles and carry on to his mother’s flat. Next thing I know the door of his dear mother flings open and Brian is standing there.”

Brian takes his queue without missing a beat.

“Ay, After I climbed back down the ladder I pushes open the door of the single top floor flat, the mirror of Mr Carlson’s and I comes face to face with a conglomeration of pipes and tubes emerging from the ceiling and pumping the red liquid into an eerily androgynous figure with a silver shine to its skin. It looked like a Giga version of a metallic angel, knife-like wings spread out behind it and its head hangs as though it was sleeping. I attempts to pull free one of the pipes but with startling speed the metallic angel’s hand, grasp mine in an effort to stop me. I pull my gun and shoot one of the pipes, at random like and, as the pipe flies free and the angel drops me. I dives to one side managing to avoid the spraying fluids. As I watch the pipe, snake like slithers back into the angels chest seemingly of its own accord and the figure goes back to sleep! I grab me can of lighter fluid and empties the tin all over the creature. I walk backwards drawing a trail back out to the corridor, I then flicks my lighter and tosses it onto the trail of fluid, watching as flame lanced out towards the, for want of a better word angel."

"Then it gets interesting. The metal angel drops from the wall as the pipes burnt away, seemingly unharmed by the fire and began to slowly walk across the floor, towards me. Folding its knife blade wings with a noise like the cutlery draw being dropped. I draw my gun and fired it into the creatures chest; as it moves the creature seemed to be absorbing the stains on the walls and ceiling, feeding on the violence, death and pain I am guessing and apparently unharmed by the bullet. Which, again I am only going by what Joe tells me will be where Mr Carlson keels over."

"It continues to absorb the stains of death and rage that now permeate the building, as it walks towards me and with each stain it absorbs it becomes progressively more human looking, until eventually I notice that the creature is not walking but hovers slightly above the ground. The angel seems to have no interest in me as it walks straight by me and continues to move down through the floors with me following until it reaches the 13th floor; a wave of its hand opens the flat that Irealize belongs to the crazy cat lady and I follow it inside. In the mirror version of the room, a strange metallic cockroach-like creature with a hugely distended abdomen lies squirming beneath a pile of fetid blankets, it convulses and one of the sack-headed cat things plops out of it with a sickening squelch; the angel waves its hand and the metallic cockroach begins to fall to pieces, I presume that it is no longer needed. The angel moves to the old woman's mirror and passes through it, I follows it through and finds meself in the real world of the flat; there is no sign of the angel but the crazy cat lady lies dead in the next room, one of her cats perched on her lifeless chest. I guess that the angel had gone through the front door and I pull it open and find Joe dragging the bloody corpse of Mr Carlson. After we had exchanged pleasantries, while dodging the violence around is which at this point has reached epic proportions.”

The group goes quiet for some time. I am completely speechless. I, we had no idea what was going on in the mirror world. I can now see why the boys didn’t want us to go with them.

“I rummage through Carlson’s pocket and finding a mobile I scrolled through the received call list until I found a number marked with Mr White’s name. I pressed the call button and the same voice I spoke to in Carlson’s office answers. He tells me that the experiment is reaching its conclusion and that the violence in the hearts of all men has been awakened. He also tells me that the block will soon be shut down as the experiment ends. He is in charge of making sure that the residents of Spectro remains there, thus creating the storm. Soon however it will not be needed and he will be recycled with details of a new program. So I tell him that I will find him and ram his head up Satan’s arse. He then tells me that Satan is a prehistoric ideal and does not exist. Winner.” Joe beams and holds his thumbs up. Does this Mr White know what telling someone like Joe that there is no retribution will do?

Ok, so now the herbs and prescription drugs have well and truly taken affect and for the next ten minutes we are helpless with laughter. To tell the truth, it was a good job we were high or I don’t think we could process this story that belongs in a horror film.

“After that we begin to figure out that as violence begets violence then how about love, peace and compassion? That was when we came back to your flat and ended up here.” Joe continued, still giggling to himself.

“So what…?” I begin to ask but, as we hoped would happen, after the adrenalin faded and the drug induced sleep took us to the next day

Joe is the first to wake by something rapping on the outside of the tent; he emerges blearily into the warmth of a sunny, snowless day and find himself face to face with a policeman. As the conversation filters through the canvas we all crawl out to see Joe talking to the constable.

“Sorry sir but you cannot squat at the bus stop. People are trying to use the service.”

And yes there are people looking confused and fed up with trying to get on and off the bus while trying to navigate round a bell tent.

“Sorry officer, stag night.” I hear Brian say.
“Oh, I see. Well, I’ll take a walk round the block and if you’re not gone by the time I get back I’ll have to ask you all to follow me to the station for obstruction.”
“Alright lad? Yes I know it’s been a while, three months, really? Looks like I have some catching up to do then. Send me a car to pick up four and a staffy. We’re all going back to mine. ASAP. Cheers."

Joe hangs up and pulls out his last cigar.
As much as we smoked last night, I really cannot be booked and searched for squatting at a bus stop, that’s how Hoover got found out. It will just open up a whole nest of vipers.
I look round to see where Luna is and I glance over in the direction of the block and all I see is an old, abandoned, burnt out shell of a building.

“Excuse me love but what happened to the block of flats over there?” I ask an old lady who is waiting for the next bus.
She looks at me slightly puzzled.
“What? Oh, Old Spectro Vale, some people went crazy in there and it burnt down when I was a girl, everyone died.”
I look at Brian, Catia and Joe while this timid octogenarian is speaking.
“When was this love?”
“Oh, it must have been fifty years ago…”
“Cars here.” I hear Joe yell and with her words echoing in my head I help Brian roughly pack up his tent and we all climb into the car and leave it all behind us.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Serpents Fall (Fate Fantasy Campaign) - Updated map

This is the updated map for my Fate Fantasy Campaign.

Map of Serpents Fall



RPG Blog Carnival - October 2013: Spooky Spots - THE MIST AT THE END OF THE WORLD


The RPG Blog Carnival is an idea to get groups of bloggers to all writing about a monthly topic, the aim being to build a dialogue across many different blogs, providing different viewpoints and ideas to the viewer. The way it works is that a blog discussing a monthly topic will post the RPG Carnival Logo and will link back to the 'hosters' post.


This month the topic is Spooky Spots; this actually the third one of these i've done - links to the others are given below:


The Mist at the End of the World

This entry is inspired by a facebook post made by Lorraine McKee prompted by the very foggy mornings we are experiencing at present in the United Kingdom and the following photo that accompanied the post (used with permission).



What if one morning you looked out of your window and all you could see was a hazy mass of dull grey vapour hanging in the air? A thick fog, the thickest you've seen in a while, veils almost all of the rest of the world from sight, muffling sounds and lending the air a biting chill. Normally the comforting outlines of buildings and larger man-made structures can be seen, providing you with at least some assurance that you are still part of the world that you know, and that out there, behind the shroud of the fog, life continues as normal, as it always has.

However this morning the fog is so thick that not even nearby buildings can be glimpsed and the shapes that can be dimly glimpsed through the haze appear strange and provide little comfort, the noise of pedestrians and passing traffic is completely absent and an eerie silence, like you were the only one alive in the world, hangs over the scene. Occasionally the quiet is broken everso briefly by a strange echo, an odd clicking or strange roar like that of a strong wing, but the sounds are alien and provide only brief respite as the silence washes in after them, becoming all the more noticable for their passing. Normally at about this time the refuse collectors or street cleaners would be busying themselves, chugging up and down the street in their vehicles, their clanking and bustling mixing with the huffing and puffing of the newspaper delivery man on his rounds as the first sounds that wait you from sleep; however, this morning none of these sounds comfort you and your alarm doesn't seem to have woken you either. Glancing across at your bedside table you grab hold of your alarm, but the LCD display is blank and unexpressive, feeling isolated and alone you shout out just to reassure yourself that you still have a voice and your shout sounds ragged, all too quickly fading away and being engulfed by the silence and the mist.

Running through the house you try first the television and the lights, none of them seem to work, the rational part of your brain tells you that it is no doubt just a power cut, but deep down inside you feels as though another connection between yourself and the outside world has been cut, isolating your once comfortable home and making it a lonely island amidst the sea of swirling grey outside; then, as you peer out of the window, straining to catch a glimpse of another human in the fog, one of the large, strange, cyclopean shapes begins to move.

New playlist, 3 stages of a game (videos)

New playlist offering hints & tips for running the 3 stages of an RPG.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Terror of the Unfinished Game

I'm terrible for starting games with long over-arcing plots and never actually getting them to a satisfactory conclusion (although I am getting better at this); the game might not get finished for numerous reasons, either I get writer's block or run out of ideas, most of the party dies, some RL reason gets in the way or any other number of factors could potential be the death knell of a game. In the wake of my God Machine game, which was one of the few games that i've created from the start with a definite goal and a finite finish in mind from the start (also one of the more satisfactorily wrapped up mini-campaigns that i've run), i've been thinking a lot about why so many of my games in the past have not gotten the finale that they deserved; some have puttered out due to factors beyond my control, but there must have been a fair few where, with a bit better planning or a little rescue work they could have reached a more engrossing conclusion?

For myself, it seems as though, I have no problem with concluding a game as long as I have a rough idea what the end conditions are when I go into a game; for example, in my God Machine game it would end when the people in the block of flats rioted and their violent anger awoke the God Angel, who would absorb their hatred and be activated, destroying the flats and those within, whether this included the player characters or not would be down to their own actions (in the actual game the players triggered the God Angel earlier than scheduled, but because it was weaker than it was supposed to be they actually escaped - full session write-up is available here). My main problem would seem to stem from when I start a long rambling game with no real idea of an end goal, when this occurs there is generally one main outcome, the game continues on until I run out of any ideas and then it gets wrapped up (too) quickly and we move on to the next game. This is often very unsatisfactory and it is obvious (from the quick wrap up) that the game has effectively run it's course or that I have become dis-illusioned with it and that my mind has already jumped onto the next concept.

However, recently, we've been running a number of one-offs where we've been taking it in turns to host a game for two sessions (one for character gen and prelude, and the next for the main session); this has been great fun and has really forced us to think about what elements are vital for an entertaining game and what can be safely jettisoned in order to fit an enjoyable game into a couple of sessions (really only a single full session). Something else that has been helping me recently has been my adoption of the Fate rules (in particular Fate Accelerated) since the focus on story through use of Aspects and Compels/Invoking makes it really easy to come up with plot based on stuff that the characters are interested in right of the bat, it also makes it very easy to see what a characters goals are and set the achievement of those goals as an end point for your campaign.

Going forward I think that my campaign planning is going to roughly conform to the following:

  1. Come up with idea for campaign.
  2. Design world & setting.
  3. Help players with character generation.
  4. Come up with an idea for first session based on characters.
  5. Help characters come up with concrete goals for their characters.
  6. Come up with a couple of end conditions for the game (in addition to the players achieving their goals).




Serpents Fall (Fate Fantasy Campaign) - Character Sheet - Amended

I have made some additional space on my character sheet and added an additional Aspect (Character Goal) to the sheet, this will be an Aspect reflecting what a character's driving passion or endgame is - once the goal is achieved the Aspect can be changed.




Sunday, 13 October 2013

Serpents Fall (Fate Fantasy Campaign) - Finished Handouts

Below are links to the two handouts that I have been working on for the G+ Fate Fantasy game that I am going to be running soon:


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Ages of the Known World

This contains the rough history of the world through the various ages up to a brief summary of the present day.



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Character Generation & Nation Handout

This handout contains a brief summary of character generation for the game in addition to a page of suggested general Stunts as well as a write-up of each nation and additional relevant suggestions.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3N7nFBlEi_7MWlwb282MjFYREU/edit?usp=sharing


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