Archive for the ‘Fluff/Inspiration’ Category

M20 and a Syndicate Character Concept

June 10, 2015

Backers of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Mage: the Ascension have got their hands on the prerelease version of the PDF, and though I’m sure there’ll be updates, what backers (like myself) have is largely what the final game is going to look like. My own impression is, of course, mixed, as the reception of anything related to Mage inevitably will be given the nature of the game and its interminable edition wars, paradigm-related flamewars etc.

Overall, it’s well constructed with an eye towards giving fans of all three prior editions something to smile about, and it also embarks on the challenging task of updating the setting and Awakened society without stifling creativity, making the Spheres, Paradigm and Consensual Reality more accessible to players as well, with laudable aplomb and skill.

While I could do without it being “Mage: now with 500% more kung fu!” that last part’s easy enough to fix by dropping that superfluous Skill along with a couple of other similarly unnecessary additions and possibly tweaking how players can get access to those pages upon pages of martial arts-related special maneuvers. The addition of Martial Arts as a separate Ability from Brawl feels reminiscent of Kindred of the East, The Book of Combat and Exalted. Man, I feel dirty from having had to reference any of those three in my blog, let alone all three in one post. However, that particular (minor but noisy) gripe isn’t what got me writing tonight.

No, what got me writing tonight is a character concept that leapt all but full fledged into my brain while I was making catfish tacos with mango salsa for dinner tonight (they were awesome, incidentally). One of the great things about the rise of Onyx Path is that they finally made the (beautifully nuanced) Revised-era Technocracy convention books that White Wolf left hanging after the excellent Iteration X Convention book. Probably my favorite from that line was, of all things, The Syndicate (though I disagreed with cutting off the SPD, but hey… I just might be biased) for its very interesting exploration of an easily demonized and oft-caricatured Convention.

Anyhow, as I was cooking, I was thinking on the Syndicate and on the Management and Human Resources sidebar from M20 and extrapolating on that. I was also thinking of sympathetic Syndicate mages, and then a character concept occurred to me. Here’s a  breakdown of the concept below:


Healthcare Provider

You always felt the calling to be a healer. To nurture the growing, heal the hurting and comfort those whose loved ones are beyond help. Therefore, like many young people, you dreamed of becoming a doctor. Life has a funny way of kicking people right in the dreams sometimes. You had good grades in high school that gave you high hopes. Though you were a fine student, your real aptitudes were always people and groups and the “soft subjects” like debate and speech rather than biology or chemistry: you were the treasurer and student council rep for the Rotaract Club, and were a natural leader.

Still, you were determined to be a healer. Between your grades, extracurriculars, charm and skillfully leveraged family connections you entered a prestigious med school. That’s where your dreams started to crumble: while smart and competent, you just weren’t cut out to excel as a physician. Surrounded with driven, genuinely gifted med students, you rapidly fell into (and then below) the middle of the pack. Then you had to face the heartbreaking truth and find something else to do with your life. (more…)


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.

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. (more…)

Four Splat Poll # 1

May 16, 2011

I’m currently finishing up the Kinfolk Four Splat post, and am pondering what to do next.

Lemme know what you’d like to see, and maybe I’ll take your choice. 🙂

Once I’ve done a few more OWoD Four Splat posts, I’ll expand it into other systems such as nWoD or further afield. I’m open to suggestions on those systems, though I’m not going to buy a new system just for a blog post containing sample characters… but I’ve got a lot of games, so there’s that.

Action Bastard

May 13, 2011

This takes me way, way, waaay back to the old White Wolf HTML Chat days:

“The views and opinions of Action Bastard do not necessarily reflect those of White Wolf or the Werewolf fan community as a whole. Action Bastard is not for everyone. Some people who use Action Bastard may experience unpleasant side effects such as projectile vomiting, explosive diarrhea, loss of motor control, chronic flatulence, drooling, skin rash, an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, socialist political views and painful rectal itch. If you experience any of these side effects discontinue use and contact your physician or local poison control center immediately. Do not get Action Bastard wet, and do not feed him after midnight. Store Action Bastard in a cool dark place. Only your doctor, licensed psychiatric professional, or your mom may prescribe Action Bastard. Action Bastard should not be used by women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant due the the risk of certain birth defects such as incurable halitosis and a tendency to strike ridiculous comic-book-character poses, naked, in public. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling Action Bastard to lessen your risk of infection. For more information on Action Bastard see our website which doesn’t exist because we’re too lazy to create it and too cheap to hire someone else. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, pimp, Congressional representative, drug dealer, preacher, deadbeat dad or crack whore if Action Bastard is right for you!”

That’s right, Action Bastard is the WoD version of the Happy Fun Ball.

Four Ghouls

May 11, 2011

This edition of my “Four Splat” post series is about Vampire: the Masquerade’s answer to Renfield: the Ghouls. I’ve always had a soft spot for the little krevni oddats (blood addicts), which is fitting given that one of my favorite clans are the Tzimisce, the unquestioned masters of ghouldom. (more…)

Two Character Concepts

May 6, 2011

This post consists of two character concepts that I’ve been kicking around in my head for quite some time. They’re both fantasy concepts, for no particular game system. Either would work very well in a Capes or FATE variant (but then, what doesn’t?). Both of these are extremely… er… swordy girls but are quite different from one another beyond that detail. (more…)

On the Identity of Number Two

April 21, 2011

This is another of my hopelessly geeky posts about something that is probably almost ridiculously obscure. It’s about the identity of a particular villain from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and how I changed this little-known detail for my own purposes when I was running the Apocalypse scenario in New Bremen.

Both editions of the Book of the Wyrm mention a figure known as Number Two. This very unpleasant Bane Incarna is the ruler of Malfeas, the Near Realm generally considered the domain of the Wyrm (the Wyrm itself, as one of the Triat, is actually most commonly understood to reside in the Deep Umbra, though there is an Anchorhead connecting to its general location in the Deep Umbra from Malfeas). It is pointed out that Number Two was once a Black Spiral Dancer, and eventually ascended to his current status as an Incarna-level spirit. Along with this, the Book of the Wyrm notes that he keeps his old mortal identity a closely guarded secret to prevent his name from being used against him as a weapon. Apparently (though it’s not spelled out in detail) He’s got some sort of Ban that makes him vulnerable to folks that wield his former name. Neither edition of the Book of the Wyrm tells us who he was, however (I don’t recall if the MET version did, but off the top of my head I don’t think so). (more…)

Spirit of Misery

March 25, 2011

I realized recently, much to my surprise, that I had never really done a formal writeup for the Misery Spirit that inhabits my Fomor character Linda. That’s not right. So here is the first draft for that rather unpleasant Bane. Also, hopefully this will make it a bit easier to understand the woman inside whose soul this thing presently lives. Enjoy!

Misery Bane

Linda has dubbed this malevolent spirit “Jez”, a heavily contracted and less unwieldy yet more familiar form of its actual name. She uses feminine pronouns when speaking about Jez because it inhabits her body even though she’s well aware that gender isn’t particularly meaningful for the Bane itself. Many Epiphlings (concept or emotion-spirits) lack individual identities or names, but this spirit is a powerful enough Jaggling that it is personally distinct. (more…)

Why I Love The Umbra

March 20, 2011

Okay, it isn’t the only game system that allows this, but I’ll confess that it’s one of the charms of questing in the Umbra in the Old World of Darkness (Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Ascension).

I love the fact that in the Umbra, you can have a knife fight with Fear and Pain, and then literally grab your bootstraps and lift yourself into the heavens so you can make love to Moonlight.

Seriously. That’s epic, mythic and seriously cool. Gothic-Punk horror? Maybe not. Handled right, that sort of spirit adventure can really drive home the banality and desperation of the losing war for material reality all the more when they return home.