24 #RPGaDay2020 Humour

One of my favourite chronicles was a Changeling: the Dreaming game, each session generally had from 7 to 9 players, most of them also played LARP, so there were used to staying IC for hours at a time and chatting. Changeling can easily bounce between a wonderful mix of colourful fun and dark sadness, often intercut with humour that matches the mood. Part of the secret to the fun for that campaign was, after the PCs resolved a bunch of problems I didn’t rush to introduce new plot threads, because they had shown a desire to dig into each other’s history, so. Several sessions later the PCs had a long journey to undertake, instead of redlining (Indiana Jones) or a random encounter to break the trip up and ‘prove’ it was a dangerous trip, instead it was a dysfunctional group road trip; lots of minibus dialogue and herding cat toilet breaks. Sadly most of the players moved away over the years, so were got to play another chronicle, but one of those PCs is still active.

Amongst my old various groups, three of those Changeling players were known for their comedy prowess. How they would sometimes frame their character actions and attire, the little details they would add, in addition to what they said, that did so much of the comedic heavy lifting. Over the decades chatting with those players in particular helped me appreciate more comedic RP, and how to change how I framed a game moment, to try and have more than a one-liner. I generally have to prepare a comedy scene in advance, still not an area that comes easy to me, but with practice I’ve improved a bit. Helpfully Tony Zhou made an Every Frame a Painting video explaining the power of visual comedy vs a one-line presented in a flat way:

Partly inspired by that chronicle, years ago I pondered having LT LARP character of many years become a stand-up comic. I tested some of the material and got a reasonable amount of laughter, granted in part because of how awful a few of the jokes intentionally were. I’d played this character on and off over 13 years by the time I considered it, the character had changed a lot, going from confused human, to part Sluagh, part Fate Elemental. Those plans got postponed as many things happened in game. My current Orion Sphere LARP character is sort of a joke, but I decided against trying to be a galactic comedian; maybe if this character dies… but they are fun to play, so I am not in a rush 😉

Street Fighter RPG

All the groups I’ve played with liked the optional rules for Activation Words. How we use breath is a major factor in exercise, and thus fighting. Grunts and other sound exertions have also been shown to be a factor, but that is a complex topic in real life. Back to SFRPG, character’s channelling their breath into particular sounds during special maneuvers is not too far from reality, for super powered individuals. 😉

The usefulness of energetic yells, kiai in Japanese, is itself a fascinating area of study. Whilst practicing various martial arts over the years I’ve come across a few novel shouts. I was told about my favourite kiai by a friend, one of their Taekwondo partners who would quickly shout “Get away!” whilst doing a front kick, although more like a Muay Thai teep; the speed and anger in that “Get away!” declaration was apparently shocking.

In my experience, Activation Words are generally seen as a fun comedic addition to the game. This is maybe why some of the players I’ve played with have used the old Batman TV series words, or utilised random generators to either use a gibberish word outright, or to modify real words.

https://www.66batmania.com/trivia/bat-fight-words/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_word

Various Gobbledygook or Gibberish languages

Using different maneuver names and tweaking them with random syllables was one method I’ve used. For example the old Warhammer Slaves to Darkness (Realms of Chaos) random daemon name generator was one method I used in the past to make up nonsensical words: rhoouuy phaoq’ wailash ulaa http://www.paper-dragon.com/fantasyland/daemon.html

Angelic/Demonic or made up colours generator https://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=adname https://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=color

A list of different shouts is collected at: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Kiai

I’m tempted to make a decent generator, but that will likely be a bit of work; I guess not a productive use of time. Besides some players are happy with a dull but slightly silly, “No!” for Block, which has been chosen by several groups I’ve played with. Whilst one creative player had all sorts of words, like “Waadooy!” for a fast/springy maneuver, like Jump or Kippup. I shall ask the SFRPG community as maybe someone has already made a list, or even a generator.

Other Peoples’ Answers

Kehaar @DissectingWrlds

https://clarkythecruel.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/rpgaday-24-humour/

Anthony Boyd @Runeslinger

https://castingshadowsblog.com/2020/08/24/rpgaday2020-day-24-rest/

Charles Etheridge-Nunn @charlie_en

https://fakedtales.com/2020/08/24/rpg-a-day-2020-part-twenty-four-the-tricky-art-of-humour-in-rpgs/

Craig Oxbrow @CraigOxbrow

https://thewatchhouserpg.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday2020-24-humour.html

https://thewatchhouserpg.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday2020-buffy-24b-humour.html

Gordon Cooper @Cuparius

https://appliedphantasticality.blogspot.com/2020/03/table-of-many-tables-contains-tables.html

@PPMGamer

https://www.ppmgames.co.uk/2020/08/24/rpgaday2020-day-24-humour/

Eric Jacobson @viscounteric

https://gamingwiththegnomies.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday2020-day-24-humour.html

John M. Kahane @jkahane1

https://jkahane.livejournal.com/2174168.html

Geek-Life Balance @cybogoblin

https://geeklifebalance.wordpress.com/2020/08/24/rpgaday-2020-humour/

Melestrua @Melestrua

https://melestrua.net/2020/08/24/rpgaday2020-day-24-humour/

Insomniac @1nsomniac13

https://1nsomniac.wordpress.com/2020/08/24/rpgaday-2020-day-24-humour-rpgaday2020/

This is a non-exhaustive list; I still have many posts to read today, so I might be adding more links. I’d recommend searching the hashtag and judge those great answers for yourself: #RPGaDay2020, some people use #RPGaDay.

09 #RPGaDay2020 Light

After a childhood full of Cyberpunk, WFRP, and D&D, it was not just rules light/lite that interested me, but unencumbered characters. Shopping can be fun, many RPGs provide escapist fun when it comes to planning and acquiring many different items for our characters, but obsession and greed can run things; both IC and OOC. Whilst still at high school I came to realise why some games felt like a struggle, the circular emphasis some had regarding loot and acquisition, how for some players it invited them to step on the murderhobo treadmill. Obviously a few clearly choose murderhobo treadmill, I could at least appreciate the clarity of preferences they provided, so we didn’t waste each other’s time.

Discovering V:tM in 92 helped me learn different things, in part because with much older adults. One bonus being that typically Vampires do not care about lists of items, no more PC shopping obsession; both as a player and a GM/ST. Playing various TTRPGs and Play-by-Mail helped me find peace with regards to PC shopping; obviously growing up and getting some maturity helped. 😉 Curiously being introduced to GURPS and Champions was interesting, both could feel encumbered due to all the options, but they could also be played in in a light way as well. I also liked that the old Storyteller was a bridge between detailed equipment lists and specialised explanations and the more minimalist systems. I appreciate that some see this as a half measure, or even categorise Storyteller as crunchy due to vast list of powers; well it is, but as always they are optional. People can of course play any as murderhobos … keeping this light 😉

Returning to Cyberpunk in 96 resulted in a very different game. 🙂 The vast lists of equipment were now appreciated for what they added to the setting and an individual’s style. The differences between the various firearms and armour barely mattered.

Not a separate Street Fighter answer today, just to explain this is one reason I love SFRPG, it is very minimalist in regards to equipment, focusing on character and martial arts. For its time it was quite revolutionary, showing how building a focused relationship between ‘Rules-Setting-Goals’ could enhance the game. Some people saw the game as a joke, a few I spoke with saw the minimalist setting as slapstick. The game was not helped by the company handling, the fast turnaround leading to the infamous Players Guide. Still the overall game was solid back in the 90s, just amend Cartwheel Kick many times and its golden; these days the community has hammered the problems out. 🙂

With SFRPG, whilst a few equipment lists exist, for most games they are irrelevant. Interestingly, for the people I have run games for, they have never complained about the depth of the Special Maneuver system, because it is clearly a part of the heart of the game. I was tempted to add a mechanic or maneuver for today, but I’ll keep to the Light prompt and reflect upon what will enhance, not overload.

Other Peoples’ Answers

Anthony Boyd @Runeslinger

https://castingshadowsblog.com/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-close/

Craig Oxbrow @CraigOxbrow on Rules-light RPGs.

https://thewatchhouserpg.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday2020-9-light.html

Sue Savage @SavageSpiel

https://savagespiel.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday-light.html

ivanmike1968

Bryon1187 @bryon1187 duration of light sources

Kehaar @DissectingWrlds

https://clarkythecruel.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/rpgaday-9-light/

Melestrua @Melestrua

https://melestrua.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-light/

Paco from GMS Magazine @gmsmagazine

Bob Freeman @OccultDetective

https://bordermengames.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-light-dark/

Roberto Micheri @Sunglar

@PPMGamer

https://www.ppmgames.co.uk/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-light/

Heather Fey @slapjellyfish

https://ko-fi.com/post/Light–RPGaDay2020-Z8Z3217ZJ

John M. Kahane @jkahane1

https://jkahane.livejournal.com/2168887.html

SM Hillman @smh_worlds

https://zer0meansyouredead.wordpress.com/2020/08/10/rpg-a-day-2020-light/

Paul Baldowski @deesanction

http://thedeesanction.com/light-rpgaday-9/

This is a non-exhaustive list; I still have many posts to read today, so I might be adding more links. I’d recommend searching the hashtag and judge those great answers for yourself: #RPGaDay2020, some people use #RPGaDay.

RPG Impact 5

Continuing with RPG Impact. The fifth RPG that had a big impact on me was Champions / Hero System. In my first Vampire group, one player was obsessed with Champions and arranged to run a game. At that point I hadn’t played any Supes RPGs yet, nor looked at GURPS, so I was delighted to skim through the densely packed Champions rules and contemplate all the possibilities. Character creation was slow but fascinating, different to the simplicity of the games I’d predominately been playing: Cyberpunk & Vampire. I was somewhat reminded of Warhammer’s Realm of Chaos books, the key difference being those powers were random and unbalanced by design.

I made a few characters, then settled on a character inspired by Eldar Harlequin Solitaires. I thoroughly enjoyed the character creation process; I vaguely recall pondering solo RPG ideas, again somewhat inspired by Narrative Wargaming from the Realm of Chaos.

How was the game play? Well, the first session was messy, silly premise, and mostly it was one big team fight. It was fun, even a nice change from the serious sessions I predominately played. Sadly, the game faded away, it was a few years until I returned to the system.

In the mid-90s, I run a short campaign with the group I’d been playing with since high school. It was fun, but the players didn’t quite gel with the system. Roughly they felt that whilst it was fun, it was too much work, and that they could have fun more easily with other games; not helped that 2 players were not keen on Supes genre. We discussed whether they thought things would improve as their system expertise grew. They thought even if they thoroughly read the rules, that they’d still prefer other games. By this stage I had Marvel Super Heroes and D.C. Heroes, plus I had a lot of experience with Palladium games, none of which appealed to them. Instead, we returned to the World of Darkness, primarily Mage and Changeling.

One of regular players loved GURPS, they convinced me to look in to it, using the Hero System as a comparison; awesome, another system I liked yet didn’t do much with for years 😉 Some time passed… I managed a mini-game of Champions using the new Fuzion system; although easier to play, the players gave similar feedback to before. In the 2000s I ran Aberrant a lot, resulting in multiple chronicles, plus some smaller chronicles with other groups, so I eventually got some long-term Supes gameplay 😉

I have met people that played Hero for years. Whilst the system is dense, I’d argue that it is not much denser than various D&D editions. Did I pitch the game in awkward ways? Or was it simply a case of player preferences amidst an option rich field?

For me, Champions/Hero System is ‘the one that got away’.

Part 6

RPG Impact 4

Continuing on with RPG Impact. The fourth RPG that had a big impact on me was Vampire: the Masquerade, then later all the World of Darkness. In early 92 there were only a few VtM books out, so we had to fill in a lot of the blanks. The emphasis on storytelling was not a revelation for most of the people I played with, we’d embraced that aspect of RPGs from playing deadly systems like WFRP and Cyberpunk as kids. What impacted me was the atmosphere, the stronger focus on internal character struggle with their beast within, and the lore, both given and promised.

Rich lore was no stranger to us. At that point I had read enough RPG books, magazines, and novels. I had learned enough bits about the history of RPGs at my local games store and been told stories about Traveller, Paranoia, etc. I’d explored different game settings, delved in to the various D&D lore, visited the planes (pre-Planescape). The same with the scale of the lore for Warhammer and Cyberpunk. I think the key difference is the blending of real life and hidden lore; although, even then I recognised this was a great cliché. I’d read Interview with a Vampire just a few months before playing Vampire, so the setting felt familiar to me. I recall talking to players in other groups about this mix of real and imaginary history, power and monster, of the familiar and the urban myth, everybody was interested.

I’ll borrow from my last blog, the Cyberpunk tagline about Style over Substance, and my claim that it has both Style and Substance. Vampire, the World of Darkness has lots of both.

As much as I loved Vampire, playing/running many games a week, I found the later additions to the World of Darkness to be even better. Since I was buying all the books, I enjoyed adding bits from each game line into another, but I was careful not to swamp the core game being played. I rarely ran games with PCs from different supernatural types (Nightfolk), preferring to keep the focus within each game-line.

Considering how much D&D and Cyberpunk I’ve played/run, it still seems weird to me just how much of an impact the WoD has had on me. I’ve had countless hours of fun; it helped me get a job at a games company. But, over the years I have wondered whether the whole WoD is over-hyped, some people believe so.

  • The debates about power levels.
  • Debates about when to roll.
  • The arguments over Rule 0.
  • Whether pretentious people tarnished the rep?
  • Whether the sheer amount of books produced swamped things?
  • Whether the power creep ruined things?

I typically feel that I also need to acknowledge that the WoD has problems. Like with D&D, Palladium, etc., some become angry at the mere mention of these games. I’ve met a lot of people that hate the WoD, or hate the players they’ve encountered playing the games. I’ve certainly played with a few players who loved playing FangedMurderHobos or SuperFangs, plus encountered some at conventions and a lot more online; whilst not my preference, if the players prefer a silly/crazy/etc., type of game, then I’m all for it.

When the Forge debates over GNS started, I understood why Vampire in particular was in the crosshairs of some, especially regarding it being confusing in its design, or some being annoyed by the writing tone. I’d like to avoid arguments, but decades ago I concluded that the WoD setting being messy is partly because it is myth, plus there are in-game effects confusing things, and the mechanics are supposed to be of a mixed style. The game’s financial and critical popularity somewhat validates my P.o.V., but again I appreciate why many think this is a cop-out, or even nonsense. For those that hate Vampire/WoD, I get it, likewise for those that love Vampire/WoD. I have long since grown tired of these chats, but cannot help but dwell upon them…

Have I been building towards a joke about being an Elder Role-player who is suffering from ennui? An old injured Garou Galliard circling Harano? Somewhat 😉 I hope this response encapsulates a fraction of my passion for this game series, and I’ve not even touched on my love of Werewolf, Changeling or Mage being an order of magnitude more than for Vampire. Mummy, Hunter, and Demon are cool as well 😉

Wraith? Well, even though Mage is my favourite, I think Wraith deserves its own entry.

Part 5

RPG Impact 2

Continuing on with RPG Impact. Around the same time I started tabletop RPG I was introduced to wargaming, starting with Warhammer Fantasy and the then brand new 40,000 (September 87). Later an older friend was selling painted Skaven models, which I started using in my D&D games. I think it was 88 when I came across a 2nd hand copy of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP); even 2nd hand, it still cost me more than I earned in a week delivering newspapers.

Whilst the players at my high school RPG club mostly played D&D, I saw other RPGs there, in particular Star Wars (West End Games), Palladium Fantasy, WFRP and later Cyberpunk. WFRP felt different to D&D and Palladium, not just because of the mechanical differences, but the grim rich setting. I was growing bored with the various D&D settings, which felt like a zoo, whilst WFRP lore seemed to be more cohesive, dare I say realistic; of course at that young age, and without the Web, I was not aware of how much stuff had been made for D&D. Also, I guess it was easy for me to get into WFRP due to the wargame and reading White Dwarf. Reading about famous battles and then getting to play our own battles, plus the obvious basis of real life to the ‘Old World’ went someway to giving the WFRP setting a relatable sense of gravitas.

WFRP was my first introduction to Fate Points (FP). Initially they seemed so obvious, but then the question of why other games didn’t have FP resulted in some interesting debates. My young mind needed to learn why genre expectations mattered, what a story promise was, plus how FP affected a game and player decision making. I’m all for taking little bits from different systems, even large-scale fusions, but FP are something I rarely use in games that weren’t designed with them in mind.

Another thing about WFRP was how much fun I had, in particular my Chaos Champions campaign. Two of my old time favourite RPG supplements are the Realm of Chaos books: Slaves to Darkness & The Lost and the Damned. I also learned about Narrative Wargaming from this game, which later helped me appreciate different types of Play-By-Mail.

Part 3

Bleak Spirit: Lost Lore + Adversaries

At the time of writing the RPG Kickstarter for Bleak Spirit has just over two days left to go. It is already funded, demonstrating the game has a market. I have several ideas about this game, both by itself, but also as an aid to other games. Before I talk about my plans, here is a quick overview:

Bleak Spirit is a tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the empty, haunted worlds of video games like Dark Souls, Hollow Knight, and Salt and Sanctuary. Using a rotating role system, two or more players collaborate to create the story of how a wanderer comes to a strange place, and leaves it forever changed in their wake.”

The game follows in the style of the collaborative storytelling game Lovecraftesque, a game that is inspired by Stealing Cthulhu (single player writing RPG). As noted in the quote above, players take in turns to play:

  1. The World describes the scene, which can be a danger, interaction, or feature scene. The tone of the game is that of melancholy, mystery, and faded glory. Lore is introduced, which in addition to providing a chance to explore the setting, also can be building towards the final Adversary.
  2. The Wanderer explores the scene, decides what action to take, uncovering lore as they travel. The person playing the Wanderer that turn chooses their actions, taking care to avoid describing the wanderer’s internal monologue.
  3. If there are more than 2 players than there is also a Chorus supporting the World. The Chorus can elaborate on events, suggest prices during danger scenes, or play a character that has been introduced.

The game is broken down into 3 sections (part 1 of 5 scenes, part 2 of between 1 to 3 scenes), allowing the wanderer to find lore and building the game towards part 3 and the story’s main Adversary. There are a set number of scenes classed as Interaction, Danger and Feature. The game has special cards that can be played altering the course of a scene. The cards do more than just mix things up, they can also add extra tension. You can read more about mechanics at the Kickstarter, such as why Leaping to Conclusions is part of the fun of the game 🙂

Bleak Spirit Card Samples

The wanderer is a stranger in a strange land, generally visiting bleak, run down locations. Other characters are eccentric, elusive and cryptic. Bleak Spirits approach allows for players to discover depth and complexity, without preloading the world, capturing for example how Dark Souls series achieves this. I think the method of alternating roles supports the game’s intent.

Bleak Spirit also strips away many of the common RPG mechanics and tropes, allowing for freer flowing storytelling. Also the power of a veteran Dark Soul’s player shines, with the exception of the final Adversary, the Wanderer can survive most encounters without issue. The interesting aspect is how the Wanderer moves forward/survives, what price is paid?

After a game, players may wish to discuss things about what occurred, their plans and Conclusion Leaps; maybe even add extra context. During play, the lack of information should be embraced. More gaming session could be set in the same story world, building up the setting lore. A long campaign could result in a very detailed world, so keeping things vague is likely the best way to proceed after each game.

Truth & Ambiguity

I’ll emphasis what is intriguing to me is that quintessentially Bleak Spirit, that it seeks to avoid setting clarity; there is no TruthTM, even about the Wanderer themselves. Whilst there are many RPGs that are easy for new players to access, particularly games set in modern day real world, many RPGs have a lot to learn upfront, particularly for the DM/GM. Even the massively popular D&D settings like Forgotten Realms have a lot of maps, lore and proper nouns to learn. Granted you can ignore everything, but I think a big part of what makes characters interesting in RPGs is figuring out how they fit in their world, as well as exploring social implications. Movie amnesia is one work around, but I think the fact Bleak Spirit intentionally integrates the lack of knowledge is great, the character’s lack of memory is not important. I think this further helps support the setting’s tone of faded glory.

This year I’ve blogged about two other Kickstarters that explore the subject of characters and memory, One Child’s Heart and Afterlife: Wandering Souls. I’ve been working on my own RPG settings and different fiction that explore my long-time obsession with memories and identity, as well as what those mean to characters in RPGs. Bleak Spirit is taking a different approach to those games, as well as my own, so I was very pleased to come across this project.

Aiding other games & #RPGMentalToolkit

I like to mention expanding my RPG Mental Toolkit in several of my RPG posts, so please indulge my thought process with this. Since I think Bleak Spirit manages to capture an important dilemma in RPGs: creating collaborative eerie cryptic complexity, without a lot of reading or preparation. Therefore I think it can be switched to as a mini-session for other games, when something unusual needs to be created, Bleak Spirit could be a more surreal and esoteric way to do so.

As a veteran gamer of many systems, I am aware that no matter the game system, a group of good players can discuss things, set a tone and embrace hidden depth. Whilst some role-players take the idea of a DMGM/Storyteller/etc. as meaning only they can decide what a setting’s contents are, plenty of other gamers allow any players to contribute. In addition players can use the Blue-booking or Play-by-mail (PBM/PBeM) methods to explore/build something away from a table session, but not everyone uses those methods.

Imagine one of the many RPGs that are out there, gaining from having a mini-session of Bleak Spirit. I think the mystery and melancholy of this game will excel when players want to explore something personal in an esoteric way in another game/setting. Particularly with any game that has weird lore (civilisations, magic, dreams, etc.). Here is a non-exhaustive list of games that includes a strange aspect to its reality, from different planes of existence to ways of altering/exploring mental states:

Any Cthulhu game, particularly if the Dreamlands are involved. The various different types of Umbra in the World of Darkness (in particular Mage, but also Wraith, Changeling, Werewolf, Vampire), similarly the Chronicles of Darkness, Unknown Armies, Kult, Exalted, D&D (explore more exotic places/planes and unknown societies in: Planescape, Scarred Lands, Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, Spell Jammer, etc.), Legend of the 5 Rings, GURPS, Warhammer Fantasy or 40k, et cetera.

Bleak Spirit could also be a way for a group to help players learn how to take the lead in a scene. An important baby step towards learning to be a GM and to gain confidence. Other collaborative storytelling games like Fiasco are worth exploring for this reason.

I had arranged a playtest game, but due to my ill health and busy friends those plans fell through. My plan was to offer either a totally unknown setting, the default for Bleak Spirit, or to explore a Realms of Chaos Champion within the Warhammer setting. However, you can check out another blog post about Bleak Spirit that also has an actual play:

https://allthethings123.blogspot.com/2019/06/bleak-spirit.html

https://allthethings123.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-war-sessions-zero-and-one.html

Check out the Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/179941520/bleak-spirit/

#RPGaDay2018 Day23 Play Again

Which game do you hope to play again?

So many choices, like most gamers. I kept my video short today, in part to avoid rambling about some of the long running campaigns/chronicles.

Besides my main group, currently playing Mage, I have a few 1 on 1 games being discussed, so there is a chance I might get to play several of these games soon. I bought a lot of terrain to help run a megadungeon, good chance the game will use either D&D 5th or GURPS Fantasy.

 

#RPGaDay2018 Day18 RPG Art

Art that inspires your game

For day eighteen’s question I went into quite a deep dive, but I still managed to miss several things. I didn’t talk about movies, computer games, the art of gaming itself, writing, poetry, or the powerful access to imagery that the Internet provides; whether sites like Pinterest or character casting ideas from IMDb. Playing Cyberpunk 2013 and then 2020 helped highlight the importance of fashion to some characters, the settings tagline of Style over Substance helped emphasise this.

#RPGaDay2018 Day18 graph

I talk about maps and journeying in games multiple times in the video, but I’m not sure I did a good job of coherently summarising that my biggest source of art inspiration has always been maps. Lots of interesting post from the RPGaDay community, I link some of them below.

Mick Hand’s blog has a great list of art, and in particular cover art: https://igm4u.com/f/rpgaday2018-18

Nerdwriter1’s made a great video: “A look at the colorful history of sci-fi book covers”

IvanMike1968 particularly got my attention with this video:

Runeslinger giving an interesting overview.

Another interesting take on a question at Ede Sol Media channel:


Excellent UK costume designer Tom Roe runs WhiteStar Clothing.

The Wonderful writers, who are two of my favourites, are Ed McDonald and Gavin G Smith. I’ve posted reviews about their work on various sites, but I really should blog about them as well 😉

 

#RPGaDay2018 Day05 Recurring NPC

Favourite recurring NPC?

Following on from question 4, the most memorable NPC, I got thinking about the word recurring and that led me down a different direction, which inspired me to think about time. So this is the reason why I’ve added a few more NPC’s to my Pie Chart of Indecision, plus the reason I didn’t choose Samuel Haight for my answer.

#RPGaDay2018 Day05 graph

I nearly went with Wrinkle from Mage: The Ascension, a Paradox Spirit of Time. Wrinkle is generally very polite to individuals and tries to persuade them to think about doing magick in a different way, or to resolve a problem in a different way and maybe not to use magick. If the if the character (PC or NPC) keep pushing things, vulgar magic it’s been utilised and in particular if blotches keep happening, then eventually Wrinkle might remove the character from time itself, they never existed.

Wrinkle reminded me of a Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play campaign that ran in 1995. The party consisted of independent Chaos Champions, who weren’t allowed to kill each other so group cohesion was maintained. As things occurred in the game the characters who marked by the Chaos Gods, which could include Chaos Attributes (not always a good thing). One of most common on Chaos Attributes D1000 roll was beast face, and eventually most of the characters had this. One of the players ended up with goat face which ended up becoming their nickname: Goatface, when they rolled up beast face again they were allowed to choose a Chaos Attribute, making them quite powerful compared to the other PCs. Unfortunately the player went away to University, but just before they did they rolled up Temporal Instability. Since their character was randomly dropping out of the time stream it become a bit annoying to RP, but the timing (sorry) coincided with them leaving so it was decided that their character would become an NPC.

Goatface continued to blink in and out existence, from the other PCs point of view. Goatface would typically appear during a quiet moment, just bleat something then disappearing. Occasionally Goatface would appear in combat and assist the party, a bit like the Mysterious Stranger in the Fallout series, appear make a bleating noise then decapitate something then disappear.

Goatface appearing became a bit rarer over the rest of the campaign, so the player’s anticipating its arrival become I thing of fun, a running joke of “Will Goatface save us?” Crucially it never take agency away from the other players, which I think is an important about any NPC. PCs should have the majority of the spotlight, to not have to listen to a five+ minute NPC monologue because the GM has made what they think is an ‘amazing scene’, so the NPC gives a speech with effectively godmode on.

So yeah Goatface!

 

Kickstarter Sigmata RPG p2

This follows on from Kickstarter Sigmata RPG.

I am currently playing about with campaign ideas for this game, as well as future ideas merging with other games. Chad’s previous game Cryptomancer included a suggestion about a mechanical bolt on approach for other games, hence my thinking along this line for Sigmata. If you’ve not checked out the Sigmata Kickstarter page yet, here is a quick overview. The game is linking together serious and silly ideas, drawing upon numerous political ideas, people movements like the Arab Spring, as well as 80s pop culture. Major influences include things like Synthwave, plus films like Akira along with Saturday morning cartoons like Transformers and G.I. Joe.

Sigmata is an RPG in the Cyberpunk genre of games, joining the likes of famous RPGs like Shadowrun and Cyberpunk. For a few people defining Cyberpunk is an almost religious process. My simple take on the subject is that Cyberpunk is a broad encapsulating term that includes all sorts of products; I agree with the following genre overview:

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on “a combination of low life and high tech” [1] featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.[2]

Sigmata allows players to play as Cybernetic badasses, who have access to diverse and interesting capabilities. Players (receivers) receive their powers via hearing signals, which are broadcast via radio towers. When the players have access to a very strong signal they are akin to superheroes in power level. The game includes a campaign tracking system, which in particular intrigues me.

I plan on running Sigmata by itself first, so I can get a good appreciation for the game and the practical experience of the rules. Additionally the Sigmata Kickstarter already has many goals unlocked, which includes alternate time periods to play in. This alone should keep the majority of gamers engaged for years to come. Lots of game options at launch, most impressive.

Merging with other RPGs

Whilst Sigmata is much more than just resistance tracking and signal towers giving powers, but these two ideas in particular are what I am very keen on exploring in other games. Following on from my previous post and my habit of mentioning RPG mental tool kit/belt, I’ll provide a list of ideas, like I wrote for my Changeling Kickstarter blog.

I love the idea of adding the Signal to a fantasy game, whether a high fantasy setting like D&D’s: Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, Planescape, etc., or a grim-dark setting like Warhammer. Part of my thinking is that Sigmata could provide Avatar-like potential, as well as an extra level of campaign goals, but with mechanics of how to track such things. Whilst I have run very politically and rebellion focused campaigns in D&D previously, it was a long-time ago, and I didn’t make any mechanics for tracking resistance movements.

Consider how many fantasy settings have tyrannical rulers, but not just mortal monarchs, but also Magocracy or Theocracy, etc. Many magical settings include abilities empowering communication, speed of travel, as well as divination, all of which would really mix things up. However, what if magic cannot be trusted, and the party has to travel to hand deliver importance evidence, trying to avoid a scrying government, relying more on individual power, charm and guile. In a world of rare powerful magic the Signal could provide the party a much needed edge. Whether playing Rokugan with the Legend of the 5 Rings system, or the D20 system, there is interesting potential for Sigmata crossover.


Cthulhu mythos could take the Sigmata into dimensional territory, as well as paranoia and insanity. Imagine a game with cults having infiltrated tyrannical governments, so not only do the players need to resist things, but the fate of the world is at stake. Players (receivers) wondering where the signal comes from, and whether their newfound power cost something like sanity, or worse!


The World of Darkness is a game setting has all sorts of potential. The Signal could be related to any one of the existing supernatural groups, or something new. A Changeling campaign based in the Dreaming could have tyrannical Sidhe ruling commoners with an ‘iron’ fist, maybe the Signal allows a commoner to overcome the increased power of their innate nobility that Sidhe have in the Dreaming. A Werewolf game could have Garou being empowered by the Signal, which could be a new techno-spirit, providing new tools in the fight against the Wyrm. The same applies to a Mage centric game, but the metaphysical debates and paranoia regarding the Signal would be what I would want to focus on. An interesting twist to the Jyhad, such as Anarch vampires fighting Camarilla Elders, or Hunters avoiding Kindred. This could also work with the Chronicle of Darkness games.


Although the Trinity Continuum is about to be relaunched in the near future, the Trinity, Aberrant, Adventure settings of old included a powerful signal altering people. I am currently running Trinity and will be for a while yet, so I may start including things.


GURPS Riverworld, this setting is based upon a great sci-fi novel, which has its own sort of towers and effects on the world. I will avoid spoilers here; I guess most of those that have read it will appreciate where I am going with my thoughts. For me the wonderful GURPS reference books epitomise the RPG mental tool kit, so there is easily infinite scope regarding Sigmata ideas added into the GURPS system.


Shadowrun or R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk games should be quite easy to merge with Sigmata due to the genre closeness and the typical adversarial nature of Corporations. Since powerful cybernetics already exist in these games, imagine if they were further empowered, which radically alters things. The magic in Shadowrun could also be enhanced, maybe in a way like with the D&D ideas I mention above.


I hope I’ve convinced you to at least check out the Kickstarter page for more information. Join in and #RepeatTheSignal.