Sunday, December 2, 2018

Monster of the Week Season 2

We're back into Monster of the Week. It took us a bit to hit the stride of the game, plus we had a new player whose character we had to plug into the setting.

We ended the session with the PCs entering the bowels of a pharmaceutical lab overrun by a giant telepathic parasitic plant and its various people-absorbing minions. Good times.

The inclusion of this character also expands the lore: in addition to a Shadow World, there is a Bright World, but it's not a blissful heaven full of benevolent angels. Really, it's just Bad Guys Team A vs. Bad Guys Team B. Our resident Bright Worlder is a little more merciful than his brethren, and has been ousted for his troubles.

We have some PvP brewing, as the Spooky plans to open a gate to the Shadow World, which is probably going to land her square in the sights of the rest of the party. This player likes making antagonists, but she provides interesting antagonism that supplies good rp.

We have one character moving over from Monsterhearts 2 to Monster of the Week. The conversion was a lot more seamless than I could've imagined.

I'm not saying that all my gaming is pretty much PbtA now, but I'm not saying it isn't.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Monsterhearts 2 Season Finale

Ran a goddamn amazing session of Monsterhearts 2 on Saturday.

I think our group has finally figured out how to do this game.

I went into this with zero prep. I mean, I had established NPCs and things that were going on, but I didn't have to lift a finger- the players drove the entire session. It came together incredibly well.

With things neatly tied up, we're switching back to Monster of the Week now. We'll play out another season (which seems to mean 5-6 sessions for this particular group) before switching back to Monsterhearts 2, probably right around the new year.

While I'd still like to have some B/X in my life, my time is pretty limited during November-December from my activity coaching. Perhaps I can make it a goal for 2019.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Cleaning House

Today I divested myself of a chunk of my gaming collection.

On the chopping block:

Dungeons & Dragons, 5th edition. You know... D&D5e is fine. It's okay. To me, it's perfectly serviceable but bland as hell. Life is too short for games that are just okay. We had some laughs, we hooked up a few times, but ultimately I just can't see a future with 5e. I do wish 5e well, though. I think it's a far better game than 4e or 3.X, and I really like the art direction in this edition as compared to the two most recent editions (plus Cousin Pathfinder), and I hope the mainstream exposure it has right now continues to build a young and inclusive community. I'm just not part of that community.

Fate Core and Fate Accelerated. Evil Hat is kind of... yeah. I'm not a fan of the company. I also tried to get into this game, and I'm just not into it. Powered by the Apocalypse does what I wanted Fate do do for me. Mechanics-wise, Fate's oft-forgotten predecessor, Fudge, works out better and feels a good deal more organic.

Chronicles of Darkness, Beast: the Primordial and Promethean: the Created.  I don't like dice pools. I don't like social interaction mechanics. Beast is absurdly overwrought. Promethean is too narrow to appeal to me or most of the people I game with.
I have all of these books on PDF (I bought the print/PDF bundles) so if I ever have a change of heart, I still have access to the materials, but... eh.

OneDice Urban Fantasy. I only ever ran this once, and it was pretty fun, but I considered that to be in spite of the mechanics, not because of them. The math in this game just doesn't grok for me. We'll always have that one game I ran at KantCon back in 2016. I also have this (and all the other  OneDice books I've ditched) on PDF, as I am a bundle whore, so I suppose I can still use the material if I really want to.

The rest of the books were mostly just material for the above and some redundancies in my collection.

My bookshelves still teem with various systems of various genres. Some of these games I have because I play them or have and intend to play them again. Others have collector value for me. (Will I ever run any of the original TSR giants modules? Probably not. Do I like having the old white early versions of them sitting on my shelf? You bet.) Oh, and one or two books I keep because I find them aesthetically pleasing. Swords & Wizardry Complete and OpenQuest (the very first version with the wonderful cover.) I also have my entire, massive, swollen Palladium collection, because I've got a pretty big masochist streak inside me.

Currently running Monsterhearts 2 still, which is about as un-old school as you can possibly get. It's a lot of fun and I love the characters. I still want to start a B/X game to play here in town. (I drive 50 miles to play with my group, partially because they are awesome and mostly because I'm romantically involved with one of them.) Getting a B/X game in this town is no small feat. Most of the action around here is 5e or Pathfinder. Hey, a guy can dream.

I don't blog much anymore and what tiny readership I had in the past has since moved on. I have to admit I don't read most of the blogs I used to follow closely back in the day. I'm not going to shut it down, and I will still scribble the occasional missive into the void, but I think my blogging days are well behind me.

Carry on, gamers.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Back to the DUNGEON!

Just picked up a complete copy of TSR's classic DUNGEON! board game at a vintage toy store in my hometown.

Pretty stoked.

Granted, the game is probably a lot less cool IRL that it is in my memory, but it's now in my collection just the same.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Monsterhearts 2

Holy fuck am I stoked about this game.

MH2 is pretty much the antithesis of OSR style games. (Meanwhile, I have a freshly arrived copy of Runequest Classic Edition sitting on my coffee table... but that's a post for another time.)

MH2 is very, very different from any game I've run before, including Monster of the Week. This game changes some of my basic assumptions about the role of the GM, the concept of setting/lore, and the role of players. A little shared narrative control has turned out to be pretty awesome, as my players have some pretty dope ideas that I'd never have thought of.

An interesting flip from my usual GMing style is how I have to take notes on my game. NPCs are created on the fly, but with backstories tying them to the characters. The players sort of create the lore as they go. Instead of me starting with a bunch of stuff prepared and let the players loose on it, I have a blank piece of paper that gets filled in as the players have their characters do things, decide things, take interest in things.

A second flip is that there is no secret information in MH2. The players voice internal things about their characters. The players know secrets and misdeeds that the other characters do. There are no notes, there is no taking a player in another room to discuss secret info. This has not resulted in metagaming, but rather some cool narrative steering. There are still plenty of surprises. It sounds paradoxical, but it really works.

What we come up with together is far, far cooler than anything I'd have come up with entirely on my own.

The urge to prep is strong, but MH actually kind of proscribes preparation. I'm quickly embracing this principle.

A disclaimer: I would probably never run B/X D&D this way, nor Stars Without Number, nor Runequest, etc. This style is built into Monsterhearts 2.

We decided on a shared setting between MH2 and Monster of the Week. The two games are both "Powered by the Apocalypse," but they have different stats and different specialized mechanics. For now, the shared setting is entirely narrative. If mechanics come up, I'll sort something out. (I've already kicked around a few ideas in case a character should switch setting, but it's more art than science.)

The plan right now is to run a season of MH2 before going back to do the second season of MotW. My long game plan is to switch back and forth, at least until the MH characters graduate. (Or, you know, die or something.)

I'm tempted to start a campaign wiki of some kind, perhaps on Obsidian Portal. I've used OP in the past, but I usually end up falling off the wagon in terms of keeping it updated. I suppose I could enlist the players to help me out. Right now, I'm keeping notes for each session, and I find the idea of merging them and keeping any sort of organization to be a bit of a hassle. MH has a lot of side characters, a big ol' web of personal relationships/baggage, and lots of places generated on the fly.

Our next session is tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2018

MotW Season 1, Monsterhearts 2, the Empty Game Table in My Basement

So after six sessions and the utterly serendipitous convergence of a number of elements in the game, we decided to call "Season 1" of Monster of the Week wrapped. While I get ready to run Season 2, we're trying out Monsterhearts 2.

MH2 is very, very different from anything I've run thus far. I'm not sure it's going to be an ideal fit for the group. Still going to give it a shot.

For funsies, we decided that the high school that MH2 takes place in is in the neighboring town mentioned in the background of Monster of the Week. We've kicked around having an NPC in the game who is a shell-shocked transfer student from Harrison (that's the MotW town.)

In the meantime, I've been reading Urban Shadows, because apparently my jam is 100% urban fantasy/horror using the Apocalypse Engine rules these days.

I do year for a game of B/X or Stars Without Number, but that's not going to happen around here. My town is all 5e/Pathfinder all the time. As it is, I drive 50 miles to play MotW and MH2 with this group. Said group does play a lot of Pathfinder themselves, though, so it's fun to see them try games that are radically different. (I ran All of Their Strengths for them back during the summer.)

I like B/X, but I guess aside from that I've kind of cashed in my OSR membership card.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Suggestions, Please

I need new blogs to follow. Many of the blogs I now follow have either

a.) stopped blogging or are on extended indefinite hiatus
b.) have turned into podcasts or
c.) Blog about something I'm not interested in anymore

So, what are you reading and why should I read it?