Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Plug and A Purchase

Firstly, for those of you who like things of a post-apocalyptic or Dystopian bent, check out my wife's blog. She's over at (you can also click on the sidebar.) Her blog deals mainly with young adult lit. Even if that isn't your thing, you should check out the last week's posts, as she is having a Dystopian-themed week, and really, who doesn't love Dystopia? (So long as it's someone else's Dystopia...)

In my latest bout of collecting-as-a-substitute-for-doing-something-productive, I acquired the first edition of Palladium's fantasy game for five bucks. (Most of which was shipping, mind you.) Ever since I picked up the Mechanoid Invasion Trilogy, I have been morbidly fascinated with the early iterations of the Palladium system, before it all went awry. Palladium Fantasy the First has no SDC, no jacked up physical attribute arms race, combat abilities are tied to your class and level (with the men-at-arms group of classes being better at it), and skills seem to be less of an enormous mess.

In other news...

-The D&D game at my kung-fu school seems to be waning. I'm down to about three players, though one of them has expressed interest in starting a Fantasy HERO campaign away from the school.
-My old AD&D group (most of them, anyway) want to get back together. They have almost unanimously expressed interest in a sci-fi game. I am leaning towards Mutant Future. My short list had also previously included Traveller (Mongoose version) and Shadowrun 4th edition, but I've been so busy with work that my brain does not seem keen on learning any new rules systems. I briefly entertained an idea involving Mini Six, but I don't know how familiar my players are with it.

That's all I got. Dystopia, the long lost reasonable iteration of Palladium, and swapping one game for another.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Brief Pondering on Player Character Conflict

Many times, I find the situations that bring PCs together to be artificial. In my experience, you often find groups of player characters who, personality, alignment, or goals-wise, are only sticking together because their players are seated together physically at a table playing the same game. I recall a horrible campaign a friend and I joined several years ago where one of the players immediately told us he would kill our characters if we made a paladin, because he refused to adventure with paladins. My buddy made a paladin immediately. Luckily, the guy was as much of a sniveling coward in game as he seemed to be in real life, and his wrath was limited to passive aggressive behavior towards my buddy's player.

Even among friends, I find that characters are often played with such opposing goals and personalities that the only reason they stay together is because their players are seated physically at the same table playing the same game. This is especially true in D&D type games when someone wants to play a cleric that is actually religious amongst the typical drinking, looting, whoring player character party. Crack open any White Wolf book from the Old World of Darkness and you're going to find that antagonism between character types is built into the setting, with most of the Clans/Tribes/Traditions disliking 90% of the other Clans/Tribes/Traditions in the same game.

Usually, when these sorts of conflicts come up, everyone is put in a slightly awkward situation. Usually one or both parties have to "look the other way," or the DM has to gloss over the conflict. After all, if it continues to be role-played out, one character is going to leave or even end up dead. The cleric will not abide the thief murdering townspeople. The witch hunter is going to have a hard time adventuring with the hedge mage. Nobody wants to back down, and the DM doesn't want to pick one character over the other, especially if both characters, individually, are suited to the campaign.

The new RIFTS game I'm in has some of this conflict already, and although I am having fun with the campaign, it bears examination.

Our party: Wired Gunslinger, Wild Psi-Stalker, Wild Dog Boy/Wilderness Scout, Body Fixer (me), Ley Line Walker, Elemental Fusionist (Fire/Water)
-The Psi-Stalker should constantly be salivating over the two spellcasters in the party, especially when he hasn't had a fix. This has been glossed over so far.
-The Psi-Stalker attacked one of the Body Fixer's patients while he was trying to perform surgery on said patient. This lead to PvP combat, with the Body Fixer tranquilizing the Psi-Stalker with drugs. Meanwhile, the Dog Boy got into a brawl with said patient's companion in the lobby of the Body Fixer's clinic. Logically, the Fixer would never work with these two again, but that would mean someone would have to make a new character, so the Stalker and Dog Boy are merely banned from the Fixer's clinic.

As I said earlier, I am having fun (I play the Body Fixer), but the incident has got my mind on just how artificial some of the relationships between player characters can be. Everyone wants to play their character, but there is a bit of a fourth wall holding the player characters together, no matter how at odds with one another they might get.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wrath of the Immortals: What Now, Son?!

Found Wrath of the Immortals boxed set at the used bookstore. (Yes, I broke my streak)

Bonus elements inside include:

1. Extra copy of Book 2
2. A very large, homemade dungeon laid out in pen on graph paper. I believe there are something like nine levels. As with many of the papers I find in used D&D products, they smell every so faintly of hash. Also, the last level of the dungeon is sadistic. Checkerboard floor consisting of alternating glyphs of warding and fire traps. Holler.

Oh, and the previous owner felt the need to make about one hundred copies of the Immortal Record Sheet, only one of which is filled in.

RIFTS Denver, Session 2 is tomorrow. So far, playing a Body Fixer has turned out all right for me, even when I had to tranquilize a fellow player character with extreme prejudice.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh, it's *that* post...

Hmm.... has it really been a week? That's unusual for me.
As I have mentioned in the past, I'm a teacher by trade. The first week of school concludes tomorrow. Most of the teachers in my building can attest that the first week or two is very mentally draining on the staff. I've been trying to write a blog entry, but I seem to lose much of my focus and higher cognitive abilities after around five p.m.

However, I think I can bang out a few updates.

1.) We have installed a new GM in our RIFTS game. I'll say it straight up: I had more fun in fifteen minutes of this game than in the rest of the campaign. There are myriad things to do other than throw down with endless squads of SAMAS pilots. We have a new player who is quite a lot of fun, too.

2.) Kung Fu D&D didn't happen last week due to a few last minute upsets. I don't know if it will happen tomorrow because we're having a going-away party for one of my fellow students (who does not play, actually) who is going off to become a fighter pilot. Seriously.
At the same time, it is apparent that this is going to be a pretty casual game, and that I'm going to need to shift my focus to something else.

3.) I was invited to play in a campaign of The Shadow of Yesterday, but I think I'm going to decline. The group seems to have a big problem with scheduling, and I sat down and reread TSOY and I just don't think it's the kind of thing I enjoy anymore.

4.)Three members of my defunct AD&D game have been encouraging me to get the band back together. A fourth has been asking me when I'm going to start a game, though he was less specific about picking up where we left off. In any case, I think I'd be ready to try something different with this crew. Who knows... maybe we could pick up the AD&D game again later.

5.) My wife, who had asked me if I would run Warhammer RPG again, has been quiet about the matter. She's quite busy with projects of her own (non-gaming stuff), but I think she's still somewhat interested.

6.) I've been feeling the urge to run the following games: Traveller (or something sci-fi), Mutant Future, and All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

7.) I managed to go a whole week without going to the used bookstore. I think this has less to do with me acquiring willpower and discipline as it does to do with my temporarily reduced supply of free time.

...and that's all I got. I'm still reading and commenting, and I will be posting very shortly.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and stare blankly at something for awhile. Fire bad. Tree pretty.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Little Gaming Curiosity

I was at ye old used book store the other day when I ran across a copy of AEon, better known as Trinity.

AEon was White Wolf's first sci-fi game, published in 1997. (I was a misguided high school kid at the time) It would later be complimented by two prequel games, Aberrant and Adventure! (Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title)

White Wolf was sued by MTV because at the time they were promoting the animated series Aeon Flux, which is pretty cool (I own it on DVD) but has really nothing to do with the premise of AEOn. Unfortunately, MTV had more money and more lawyers, so White Wolf changed the game to Trinity. As I recall, stickers were sent out and put on the first batch, with all subsequent batches having the new title printed on it from the get-go. I found a copy that still had AEon on the cover, so I snapped it up. (I also have Nightspawn before it was sued into Nightbane)

I always wanted to try Trinity, but I could never find anyone who played it, and my gaming friends at the time were either vehemently opposed to playing anything White Wolf, or vehemently refused to play anything other than White Wolf's "Big Three." (Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse, Mage the Ascension) I'm not sure I'll get to run it with my current gamer base, but at least I'll have the chance to check it out. I also dig on owning original versions of things that were later forcibly changed.

Another note about AEon: the book comes in a "folio" format; you have to "unbuckle" the cover to get to the game within, which is spiral bound. It's an odd duck, and for six bucks (less with my special discount) I could not resist adding it to my collection.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kung Fu D&D, Session 4

We played with a skeleton crew this week. The host and his wife had previously canceled this session, and one player was going to be training with sifu and his sifu out of state, but I did have one mysterious no-show. I decided to play anyway, because I'm no longer willing to let the schedules of others dictate my fun. I thought I was going to have to tone things down a bit since we were rolling with only two party members, but after befriending the gnomes and, oddly enough, a couple of hobogoblins, the party had enough bodies for me to run things pretty much as-is.

Now, although I previously mentioned that I don't like DMing outside my house, I have to say I have come to enjoy running the game at the school. Although it is technically a public place, we don't start playing until the non-playing students have departed for the evening and the school is locked up. We have a fridge, there are several eateries and convenience stores nearby, plenty of room to play, (and even some furniture we drug out this time) and none of the idiosyncrasies of someone's house (roommates, pets, family, etc.) There aren't any neighbors to bother, we can generally be as loud as we want, there's a stereo... you really cannot go wrong. Though I have my doubts that our host is going to return to the game, I think I'm just going to continue running it in the school regardless. It also gives us more playing time, because even though the (former) host lives nearby, you can't get any closer than already being there. Ah, I just remembered... while making a snack run, we discovered there is a Jimmy John's within delivering distance of the school... yes, I do believe we've found the perfect spot. It really is a unique situation; it's not my house, but it's not anyone else's house, and it isn't a public place by the time we start playing.

Anyway, the game...

One player nearly died of poison. I probably threw him a softball, which I regret... but once that pesky NPC cleric is gone, they'll have to step their game up a little bit. (And I will have to be a bit more impartial) We didn't get a whole lot done, but we didn't want to leave the two missing players too far behind.

At any rate, I am enjoying this experience immensely, because it isn't often I get to play a game that is completely free of my normal player base... not that I don't like my players, quite the contrary, I just think that it's nice to get some game in with new blood. I also think I am going to avoid mixing the two groups... I'm considering it a type of experiment.