Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The X Files episode I always wanted to write...

Actually there were several, summarised in this RPG.net thread jamming on ideas, but I had a few... a relatively isolated mythology story about how other countries deal with UFO crashes, a mutant MOTW that would try to eat Mulder instead of Scully... and a riff on this particular trope...

A lawyer’s office. Mr Lee, the solicitor, shuffles his papers.

“As you may know, Mr Graves died leaving no children, so his estate is to be divided between his nieces and nephews here present.”

Seven pairs of eyes dart around the room, most of them filled with greed and disdain.

“However, the proviso of the will is that those seeking to inherit must spend the longest night of the year in Mr Graves’s childhood home, Graves End.”
The haunted house?” asks Melanie Graves, one of the inheritors. Michael Torrance, an older cousin, snorts with derision.
“Those who are still within the house, and of sound mind and body, at sunrise, will divide the inheritance equally among themselves. Those were Mr Graves’s conditions. To ensure fair play, I have requested that two representatives of a suitable policing service be retained to stay in the house with you.”

All eyes turn on the man and woman standing by the door.

“Due to their expertise in this particular field, the FBI has sent Special Agents Mulder and Scully.”

Mulder grins sheepishly and Scully smirks at his discomfort.


A large Gothic manor perched on a hill surrounded by dense leafless woodland. As the line of cars draws up to the flat field at the bottom of the narrow drive, unseasonal lightning forks down and thunder crashes overhead.

“Nice touch...”
“Well Mulder, that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into...”

Monday, 8 February 2016

Conspiracies and credibility

The X Files is back, and the conspiracy to keep all its secrets is still terrible at keeping secrets.

Alone Against The Dark

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. does something different, even to the title card, as we see what happened to Simmons in those ominous blue shots in 4,722 Hours. As well as being steeped in references (NASA timing and names, and I think that Astronaut may be Impossible) it really runs with a solo premise and guest appearance.

Since I started with solo gamebooks, the one-on-one session never seemed like a particularly odd idea to me. I will note previously stated warnings about a single player tearing through plot at great speed due to lack of debates and distractions and multiple player turns in combat and the like. The time will pass... maybe not like 4,722 hours in one, but pretty fast.

Year Of The Monkey

It’s New Year in the Chinese Zodiac, and year of the Monkey. The monkey is a major feature in Chinese mythology, not least the anti-hero of Journey To The West, which to a certain generation in the UK was the basis for MONKEY and a long-term influence on us. I’ll talk more about this over on the Whoblog, where I at times ramble about this kind of thing.

Divided We Fall

Ever had inter-party conflict actually be awesome? PC versus PC, obviously, not player versus player - that only works if the game is meant to be antagonistic, like Fiasco, Paranoia, social LARPs and some tournament adventures.

Both times I’ve seen PC versus PC really work have perhaps inevitably been in The Watch House, with PCs temporarily going evil and having to be stopped. One was played straight, a creepy and tricky Angelus-style possession of Jake the psychic by an ancestor and his player showing why e often runs horror games, and the other for laughs with Andy the werewolf split into his beast and human halves and his player portraying both sides as rather hapless. In both cases everything played out in the open and the players all knew to make it as bad as possible for each other.

I’ve never seen a straight-up ideological conflict play out successfully. I’d be interested to give it a shot, but it would need the right motivation... as well as a chance for the PCs to fight each other and it be awesome.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

And this for the championship...

If Superbowl 50 were actually a fight between a bronco and a panther, I’d know who to bet on.

As this quiz shows, really big sporting events are now logistical nightmares and the biggest are laws unto themselves.

The BBC made a comedy about the 2012 Olympics that was often less absurd than reality, and that’s before you get to the security issues which are at times utterly terrifying. Throw in a side order of corruption in stadium building and sponsorships and you’ve got plenty of trouble even if the PCs never step onto the field. One of the first games I ever ran was about murder at the ancient Olympics...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Beowulf: Return To The Topic

Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands has proved to be less monster-of-the-week than I expected, with episodes that build on each other and the second MOTW being a monster-of-two-weeks instead.

It also doesn’t have Beowulf in it very much all things considered.

He’s the leader of the adventuring party that goes off and has adventures while the other half of the show is the Game Of Thrones bit about Rheda and her family and advisors being shifty and political at Heorot. Seems like a good fit for troupe-style play as the players make two different characters in two groups whose actions only affect each other a bit.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Really strange traditions

It’s Groundhog Day... again.

Resisting the temptation to just repost that link, I will observe that Groundhog Day the movie - magic time loop - is less weird than Groundhog Day the tradition - using whether an animal sees its shadow to predict the length of winter. (As Steve D notes, fiction has to make sense.) Which would you be more likely to put into one of your sessions?

Of course I could see it getting into a game with a high enough Weird Level that it actually works, and various interested parties fight over whether this happens or not.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Strike Force

An updated edition of one of the greatest supplements ever, Strike Force by Aaron Allston, is on its way, Kicking now.

I backed it for the PDFs of the new and original versions, $20 with a $10 add-on. The physical book is $30... and $52 shipping anywhere except the US. Some of the team are posting on RPGnet so I mentioned this concern there.

The response: "As much as we would like to charge less, if we hit our stretch goals and this book becomes hard-cover and full-color, that price represents what it's going to cost via First Class International (the least expensive international service) along with handling and packaging to all nations besides Canada and Mexico. We very much feel your pain: but don't have a realistic and better option."

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Apocalypse World 2

One of the most influential RPGs of the last decade, Apocalypse World is kicking a second edition. Do I love everything about it? No. Do I think Playbooks are nice way to deal with character classes and pregens? Sure.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Wargame design, by the author of Designing Board Wargames

Author and designer Professor George Phillies presents a series of lectures on how (board) wargames work, passing other games including RPGs as they come up, notably talking about adventures in part two.

Thanks to VictorVonDoom for the link.

The voices of Batman and the Joker are back!

A new Justice League animated series, eleven-minute episodes focusing on action, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as is only right.