On the Pentex Board Nominees

July 16, 2014

Okay, most of you that would actually read my blog are already aware of the W20 Book of the Wyrm Kickstarter. One very interesting aspect of this kickstarter is the election to place three new members on the Pentex board of directors. There are some really interesting nominees, and some… whose existence I will cheerfully replace with preexisting canonical board members or new ones of my own devising should they win. I’ll break down my take on each nominee here, strictly based on their merits as a possible board member to be added to the World of Darkness’ canon, which the most important thing we’re doing with regards to these guys and what I’ve seen of their campaign thus far. None of this is a value judgment on the creator of said character, just what I think of having them appear in a Werewolf: the Apocalypse supplement as members of the Pentex Board. Read the rest of this entry »

Jumping Genres!

July 4, 2014

My last post was written mostly with humorous intent, but also was intended to get some thoughts churning. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, I wouldn’t derail an existing and relatively serious,steady game so wildly as to put something like the Deck of Many Genres into play. That would be a rather gross abuse of the social contract between GM and players, really.

I would, however, shift genres in a game as long as that made sense within the context of the game… and I would also run a game where the very premise revolves around shifting genres/layers of reality/alternate dimensions where the players move from one genre to the next and possibly back again. It might work best with a certain pre-determined number of predesigned genre/setting/layers where the players will run genre-shifted iterations of the same character/soul/self. I think that could be really, really fun.

Originally I was going to go back to the last post and edit it to that effect, but then after my friend Terry made a comment on his repost that was very much in line with my thinking, I decided this might be better suited if I post it by itself. I’ll share a few specific examples of times I’ve experimented with the genre-shifting concept already in games and found it a satisfying pursuit, point out a few narrative media where this technique or a variant has been used to good effect. I’ve never run a campaign where shifting realities and genres was a major part of the premise, though I have done individual adventures in a couple different systems that explored the concept either seriously or otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »

Deck of Many Genres

July 2, 2014

Mandatory Legal Disclaimer: side effects of bringing the magic item in this post into a game with a group that takes their games too seriously or that aren’t already expecting some serious weirdness may include rage quitting by players, blank stares, loose teeth, lost friendships or, in extreme cases, critical existence failure.

Recently while at my desk, an idea occurred to me for a magic item that might inspire far more dread in the hearts of players than even the infamous Deck of Many Things… as the title suggests, this is none other than The Deck of Many Genres. This is a magic item that is best reserved to particularly open-minded, experimental or creative play groups and GMs, and would clearly be much easier to use in a game like FATE, Wushu, Capes or Savage Worlds that can be retooled to new genres on the fly without hours of number-crunching misery. Alternately, a wily or enterprising GM might have stats generated for existing characters from your D20 or whatever game in FATE, Capes or something similarly fast and fluid that can be taken to hare off into crazy land with this thing as a side jaunt. Read the rest of this entry »

Awakening: Procedures

June 21, 2014

(This is a side bit from ACWoD/ The Awakening Chronicle, from Story 4: City of Angels. I’ll periodically post other side bits from the chronicle here as time goes on.)

Special Agent Luz Martinez pursed her lips as the tracking bullet embedded in the Superstitionists’ bumper failed to respond to its activation code. Her tracking Procedure was being jammed. She tried several applicable alternate frequencies, but was unable to sufficiently modulate it to penetrate interference and pick up a signal, and she finally acknowledged that her own apparatus was unlikely to get a fix on their location before they could find and dispose of the device. One smack to the dash of her service vehicle communicated her annoyance, and then she was once again the picture of operational professionalism.

“So we lost them,” Agent Sumner stated matter-of-factly. The Man in Black pulled the nondescript black sedan over and looked over to his senior partner, mirrorshades glinting in the late morning sunlight slanting in through the windshield.

“Yes,” she replied calmly. “They won’t flee the city again yet; they wouldn’t have risked returning here without a solid reason.”

“Agreed,” Sumner said and checked the radio, not picking up any reference to their quarry.

“We don’t know where they are or where they’re going right now,” Martinez said to herself, “But let’s see where they’ve been.” She called the display in her mirrorshades online and patched in to the vehicle’s onboard computer and communications array with a couple of subvocalized commands into her wireless headset,

Satellite Location, UID CZ411, timestamp 30032011-1106. Magnify. Isolate targets at 1200 and 1155. Magnify.

She regarded the vehicles and reviewed their information and the analysis she had already been sent by Bates, her Amalgam’s Watcher. The sports car first: 2007 Dodge Charger, red, NY license plate # ADL 4681, registered: Brennan, Rowena Brighid. Ms. Brennan’s driver’s license photo matched the woman Martinez and her partner had seen. Ident confirmed, she notated, adding Probable Reality Deviant.

Next, the battered van that she had picked up first, and which had been the reason for her picking up the pursuit: 1975 Dodge Ram Van, brown, CA license plate # 3LUE042, registered: Milton, Irene Ruby. The identification of its color as “brown” was certainly suspect as far as Agent Martinez was concerned, but she let that slide. The flag of what had initially caught her attention earlier when she ran the plates was much more interesting to her: Vehicle matches one identified via satellite departing facility at +35° 41′ 1.46″, -116° 50′ 11.05″ designation “Overwatch HQ” prior to said facility’s destruction via aerial strike. Vehicle believed to be operated by Reality Deviant designated “Eel,” wanted for reality crimes and for murder of Enlightened and UnEnlightened Personnel in connection to attack at US Bank Tower Dispatch Center. Last confirmed sighting: Las Vegas, NV. Detain and question operator. If positive identification is obtained, subject to be processed or terminated. Subject to be considered armed and dangerous. Known associates: probable Reality Deviant designated “Steve” [status: unknown]; Reality Deviant designated “Umbra” [status: unknown]… she noted that this “Umbra” fellow was probably the same man that had been the passenger in Brennan’s vehicle.

“Bates,” she said via comm to her Watcher, “What else have we got on file for these people?”

“Getting what I can now, Agent. There. There’s not much. Both ‘Umbra’ and ‘Eel’ have very sparse information, considering that both are known to have been part of Incident 05092010-B17,” Bates responded. Off the record the area’s Operatives had dubbed the prior year’s debacle “The Non Event” in a tongue in cheek reference to the Herculean lengths to which their Methodology and the NSC had been called upon to go to contain the outbreak of deviant anomalies and to maintain the ignorance of the Masses afterwards. “I suspect that there are further details that are classified,” he elaborated, though for a moment Martinez entertained a paranoid, niggling suspicion that perhaps the paucity of records might be due to tampering instead. Further inquiry and request for access to classified documents would be warranted. There would be time for that and a review of other known associates later.

“I need to trace the movements of the two suspect vehicles, Bates. Designate Suspect vehicle 3LUE042 as Primary, ADL 4681 Secondary.”

“On it,” he answered and she heard him talking with his staffers for a moment before he patched what he had been able to get through to her onboard computer. “The satellites didn’t get complete coverage of that space and period, but I think I can stitch most of it together by cross-referencing the traffic camera system where possible and extrapolating the rest,” he advised.

Collating, her display informed her. Plotting movements of suspect vehicles back to timestamp 1036. Looking at the map of their movements, she observed that they had at one point converged on a point in silverlake and parked there for a while, and so she had the system home in on the timestamp of their arrival and magnified the imagery to see what they had been doing there. Brennan and a pair of suspects that she felt she could confidently confirm as “Umbra” and “Eel” along with several other as-yet unidentified persons emerged from three vehicles and met with the occupants of two automobiles that had arrived shortly before them.

The tense confrontation between the two parties played out silently for her. Deviance detected: increased mass and bodily transformation, three subjects. UnEnlightened observers of Anomaly: 0. Luz shook her head, grateful that the RDs had at least had that much decency. The shroud-barreled, slabsided weapon that one of the deviants brandished caught her attention as well, and she commanded the system: Search records for pictured firearm. The results came back after a moment: IMI Vanguard pistol, chambering 12.7mm Sagittarius gyrojet ammunition. Hypertech, pending approval for insertion into Consensus.

“Where did our cowboy get hold of one of those beasts anyhow?” she asked rhetorically. That would bear further investigation, but she decided that he and his companions were not the primary targets just yet, and she added a notation to open up further lines of inquiry.

She noted how after the group including the wielder of the experimental firearm departed, the group of targets swapped from one vehicle to another before splitting up and she decided to stick with the primary target for the moment, and traced the battered old van back to a neighborhood in West LA. The imaging was too patchy at that point for some reason to pick out a specific house, but Bates advised her that he could readily pinpoint their stopping point to within a one block radius.

“Sumner, we’ve got them,” Martinez said with some satisfaction. “We’ve got some more due diligence to perform and some classified records to request access to, but we’ll find them. There are a couple of fish here that really need catching.”

“What were Hart’s instructions when you reported you’d spotted the van?” Sumner asked by way of reminder.

“To proceed with all caution,” Martinez replied firmly. “Let’s get the rest of the Amalgam involved and see if we can’t requisition a little more help. We’re going to need some backup.”

A Few Old NBish Bits

June 18, 2014

As a follow up to my last post, I thought that I would share a few old screenshots that I still had lying around somewhere from back in my old NB days or just following its demise. Most of the bits I’ll post here, I held on to for humor value, though a few I kept for more sentimental reasons. NB was a weird and wild place, and I enjoyed it… most of the time. Most but not all of the below are bits of out-of-character conversation. Due to the format of this blog, quite a few of these images are displayed at a smallish size. You should be able to right click on them and view their full size versions, however. None of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Below, the ever-awesome ST Keith shared with me something that a player (who was running a Demon: the Fallen character) had asked him via private message…

Image

Apparently, Georgia’s got some, ah, interesting rules regarding their driver’s licenses:

Image

Sometimes, a player would post in the wrong window, with embarrassing results:

Image Read the rest of this entry »

New Bremen, Closed For 10 Years?

June 17, 2014

Today is the 10th anniversary of the closure of the venerable New Bremen Moderated Chat, which for what few whippersnappers out there may actually stumble over this, was a Java-based chat environment that was a cousin to the venerable MUDs, something like a text-based MMO for roleplaying in White Wolf’s World of Darkness (now known as the cWoD, and revived a couple of years back thanks to Onyx Path). I played there from their opening on April 22, 2000, bringing the original iteration of Linda Lee in there from the get go, and I had the pleasure and honor to be the head of its Werewolf team that ran the final scene that closed the doors on its final day. A June 17th, 2004 closure was planned, but the final scene rolled over past midnight Pacific time and into the following day before we finally wrapped and pulled the plug, so I stick with the 18th and do the same with this post, on general principle.

On January 27, 2002 I became an assistant ST there, working with the inimitable Joy Nelson and covering Kinfolk and the Media in New Bremen’s Mortals team, then in May-June of that year I was promoted to full ST, kept Kinfolk as part of my portfolio and was moved over to the Werewolf team assigned to cover the SF, GoF and ShL tribes. By August I had been reassigned to open the door to the antagonists area of WtA (I kept Kinfolk for a while too, and coordinated the Broken Caves sept’s sub-team for a while. In September 2003, I picked up the mantle of head Werewolf ST and remained in that capacity for the duration. Looking back, I can see a great many things that I could have done better of course, but that is of course the nature of hindsight. For example, character creation was too restrictive by the end as an intended remedy to their wild and wooly early days’ utter havoc, and the way that Lore abilities worked was a bit much, and I’d like to have made PCs rather than plot more of a driver to the Malfean Quest storyline; though I did try to strike a balance there, I do think my approach was a bit off that center. Still, it was fun doing it and the players that participated in the quest as well as the last stand of the Mended Past sept did tell me that they enjoyed the experience, which I suppose is the final measure of my team’s efforts. That was also my departure from STing in a moderated chat environment, a decision that I do not regret. Still, fond and often bemusing or aggravating memories abound.

ImageYes, I still have that old GIF that served as the logo for my old and long-lost Geocities New Bremen ST page. That’s because I still am the Wyrm. And yes, of course I backed the BotW20 kickstarter. So should you, but only if you like cool things. You do like cool things, don’t you?

In honor of the closure of New Bremen, I will post a few items from the end, and over the next few days I’ll post some screenshots of particularly memorable or humorous moments from (or talking about) NB that either I or others felt the need to save, some old NB-related artwork and so on. Read the rest of this entry »

Mockery Breeds? Awesome, Wyrm20 Style

June 6, 2014

I hope that you’re already aware of the Book of the Wyrm W20 Kickstarter. Well, if you’re not, consider this your wake up call. Yes, I’m a backer. Come on. The Wyrm, with an updated treatment? You know I’m there. Very fortunately, this is not going to be just a retread of the first and second books of the Wyrm. Go on ahead and take a look; they’ve got a going-to-layout draft of most of the book’s text right there for free download on the kickstarter page, so you can get a look at what you’d be supporting. I haven’t had much time to go over that draft, but there are some very cool new concepts in there that have got me grinning. Here’s one of them, below. I take the text of this teaser from update #3 on the kickstarter.

Project Update #3: Preview: Yeren

Posted by Richard Thomas♥ Like

Hi folks, Rose here. Stew sent over one of the Mockery Breeds, with a few notes on how they came to be.

I love the sheer range of creatures that we could fit into the Book of the Wyrm 20. Holden came up with the idea of the Mockery Breeds, engineered creations that try to ape the Changing Breeds. (For those of you who’ve read ahead, the pun was indeed intended.)

The Yeren are one of those Mockery Breeds, that combine the best parts of human and ape into a greed-is-good corporate operator, Gordon Gekko turned up to eleven. Engineered to consider businesses and boardrooms their natural habitat, and with a natural urge to dominate and humiliate anyone who gets in their way, the Yeren are both perfect examples of what the Wyrm might create, and something I’d never have thought of in a million years.

Yeren are shapeshifters who take on the form of apes, designed to thrive in the modern city, and to hold an edge over the savage and primitive Garou. The Yeren’s instinctive domain is the halls of power. They’re naturally attracted to money and authority. Creatures of appetite and greed, the majority have nestled themselves into the upper-middle management of corporations, banks, and law firms, where they remain in sporadic contact with Pentex. A few Yeren have even begun climbing the corporate ranks of Pentex-owned companies, and most of those few have their eyes on a seat on the Board of Directors. They’re one of the major influences pushing Toads (see p. XX) out of their traditional niches, and they’re territorial to boot. Yeren bristle when they become aware of other supernaturals dipping their talons into a wereape’s self-proclaimed domain. This makes them natural rivals of the Glass Walkers, and they take a particular delight in using their mastery of political and financial influence to demolish, or re-zone Bone Gnawer septs. Of course, the wereapes’ rapacious greed and territorial instincts also bring them into conflict with vampires, urban Black Spiral hives, and other Wyrmspawn.

In the end, the Yeren want it all: all the money, all the power, all the respect; and they’ll happily backstab, undermine, and eat anyone who gets in their way. They may be the newest players on the battlefield of the Apocalypse, but they’ve already gone all-in. Let the Garou satisfy themselves with glorious, Pyrrhic final charges, and the Anurana with subsistence survival in toxic swamps, closers close, and winners win.

 

So that’s way, way cool. Whole new Changing Breeds, but creations of the Wyrm rather than Gaia? Please sir, can I have some more? The Yeren, for instance, are perfect for a good game of intrigue and influence and messing about with governments and corporations. Then of course we get more on the War Wolves, which of course are faux-Garou that we’ve seen before, but more details are always good to see (for a given value of ‘good’), and now we’ve got the Anurana swamp-stalkers (who are creepy, dangerous and at first glance seem absurd enough not to be a real threat…). So yeah, check the book out and back that bad boy to Luna. Speaking of, I’m gonna have to make up some new Mockery Breeds, ho yez….

A Passel of Collective Nouns

May 31, 2014

I find collective nouns fascinating, so I decided to compile a list of fun ones. Note that many of those below are of my own invention, and some I found in various sources on the interwebs. Some are pretty much legit, and others are me being, well, me. If you think you have a better one for one of these, hit me with it. There are several sites (such as this one and of course wictionary) where folks discuss these things endlessly.

On with the list!
a gaggle of gamers
a party of grognards
a guild of judges (related to the below)
a clatter of GMs
A crypt of keepers
a rage of nerds
a squad of geeks
a guild of neckbeards
a board of memetards
a conspiracy of theorists
a sameness of DJs
a poverty of artists (at least one source says it’s a colony, but I like mine better)
a pretension of poseurs
a crew of pirates
an absence of ninjas (note: this one’s highly controversial and there are many competing terms. I’ve seen “an apparently empty room full” posited, but while funny, I find that one objectionable for lack of convenient utility)
a team (or a legion) of super-heroes
a rumor of gossips
a horde of barbarians
a crew of hipsters (or an irony)
A forum of trolls
a clamor of twitards
a squee of otaku
a clowder of catgirls
a combat of shippers
an audience of fans
a convention of cosplayers
a yiffing of furries
an enterprise of trekkies
a collective of borg
a negging of PUAs
a band of robbers
a squad of feminazis
a march of activists
a parade of republicans
a herd of democrats
a rant of bloggers/podcasters
a prey of vegans
a desire of suitors
A flight of Elvii? (or Elvises, if you prefer)…
a congregation of hypocrites (same for worshipers. Hopefully they’re not equivalent…)
a companionship of mormons
a denunciation of atheists
an equivocation of politicians
a firm of lawyers
a congress of useless men

RPG things

I’m a longtime gamer, and this list above was partialy inspired by my mind running wild while thinking of the interesting collective nouns that get used for groups of various things in RPGs. Such as…

A party of adventurers
A coterie of Kindred
a pack of werewolves
a cabal of Mages
A circle of wraiths
a motley of Changelings
A coven of Verbenae
a society of Etherites
a covenant of Hermetics
a cult of Ecstatics
An amalgam of Technocrats

Dream Journal: Tile Puzzles and Dance Battle

March 18, 2014

Okay, last night I had a singular and vivid dream that I really felt the need to journal here. Fans of adventurous literature, RPGs and/or dream interpretation could potentially have a field day with this one. To begin with, I was in an old European palace, but the setting was definitely modern for reasons that will become clear, and the castle had glass-paned windows with those lean lines between the panes, and in one room there was stained glass too. Anyhow, for some reason, I had to pass through a series of chambers with different flavors of floor-tile puzzles.

The first of these had widely spaced tiles and I had to step between them in order to avoid a large and nasty sideways-angled pounder-purtcullis thingie. Those always ruin one’s day when they’re triggered, but I got through there safely. Read the rest of this entry »

Webcomic Discussions and String Theory

June 23, 2013

Okay, I know it’s been forever since I updated this thing. I’m thinking of starting to use it again to post excerpts from my ongoing and very extensive Argent Passage project and prolly putting more Awakening stuff up here again too. But that’s not what I’m writing about this morning. No, this morning I’m posting a bit of an amusing correspondence. Well, amusing to me. So make of that what you will.

On the Erfworld forum, which I read glance at every couple of days, I found this discussion: Magic As Six-Dimensional Space And String Theory, which tries to take this diagram of the axes and elements of Erfworld magic and… do something with it.

I read the thread and immediately remembered of this XKCD. Even if the model this guy is trying to build is correct, so what? As far as I can tell, it’s putting a lot of brain power into trying to build a theoretical model that, frankly, won’t actually tell us anything meaningful about Erfworld (a comic filled with pop culture references and deliberately arbitrary things about its bizarre setting’s internal physics) or its narrative. Okay, so what if these guys can build a model that illustrates the relationship between Erfworld disciplines of magic? Will we suddenly gain a comprehensive understanding of how Weirdomancy works on a metaphysical level, when the actual textual source of what we know, the comic itself, has only mentioned this discipline in passing and has never shown us an actual Weirdomancer that we know of, or reveal what direction Rob Balder’s narrative is going to go? I don’t think it will. I don’t think that Rob has put quite that level of physics work in on this, because what he’s doing is writing a webcomic. It’s a webcomic that has very interesting internal rules, strong characters and a fascinating narrative. Trying to use string theory on its magic system, which is mostly built on humor and puns, just seems like straining at a gnat to swallow a camel as far as I’m concerned.


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