Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Band Played On

Looks like the new Black Canary is one of the casualties of DC Rebirth, which makes me grumpy. To be more positive, check out how far they went with the hook of the comic being about a band, resulting in the Black Canary EP.

Click the A Buffy Season tag to see how much thought I’ve put into a game about a band. Which is quite a bit. And that’s just a game that happens to be about a band where it becomes important sometimes, rather than a game focusing on touring, perhaps with performance rather than combat as the big mechanical feature that resolves the session. (I know someone working on this.)

Bands work as PC groups because they tend to be the right kind of size, and spend a lot of time on the road together, coming to unfamiliar towns where they might get in trouble. See Green Room for a more horror-y current example.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The reverse of an escape room...

... is a room you have an hour to break into.

Small Time Criminals, a puzzle room not-quite-LARP in Melbourne that lets you test that old adage about Shadowrun players planning heists for so long that they might as well start robbing banks for real. (Although not the other adage about how all that planning goes out the window as soon as they see a security guard and everybody starts shooting...)

Thanks to Patrick O’Duffy for the link.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Where is Star Trek Beyond going?

This article feels fairly spoilery in small specific ways, so I’ll lift out some relevant quotes:

“We liked the idea of, on the 50th anniversary, looking at Gene Roddenberry’s vision and questioning it,” Simon Pegg said. “The whole notion of the Federation and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. How productive is inclusivity? What is the true cost of expansion? That kind of stuff. So we went in with some big, philosophical questions to ask.”

New director Justin Lin agrees. “I feel like it’s important to try to deconstruct why Federation, Starfleet, and Star Trek is special,” he said. “And, hopefully, at the end of it, we can reaffirm why it’s been around [so] long and we can keep it going.”

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Two great tastes that don't necessarily taste great together

A post on the Future Wars section of Lead Adventure labelled “Classified information released!” turned out not to be about SF games featuring spies. But it accidentally sparked a terrible idea:

Delta Green Miniatures.

Use something like Black Ops from Osprey and add a massively debilitating sanity loss system in amongst the dingy and claustrophobic maps, and enemy miniatures that nobody wants to look at appearing in small numbers without warning and most opponents being pitiful and broken themselves.

This is why I don’t do miniatures much.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

RPG Blog Carnival: Apocalypse Not Now

Having lost track since the RPG Blogger Network went down, I see the RPG Blog Carnival is still going strong! And this month, Rising Phoenix Games suggested At World’s End - write about the (or an) apocalypse. So...

Apocalypse Not Now
How to present something that could be the end of the world but actually can’t be in the middle of a game

The Watch House started as the title of a six year and seven season Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG series, in which the PCs averted an apocalypse or at least a pretty disastrous supernatural event at least at the end of every season, like Buffy and the Scooby Gang did and Angel Investigations sometimes did too. Since the game was intended to be ongoing until Season Seven, and to tie in with the Buffyverse, obviously the world wasn’t really gonna end. So how to make a non-starter apocalypse still feel interesting?

Stakes besides everything ending
The obvious place to start is to set up some smaller stakes that can happen while the PCs are saving the day. Will they all survive? Will they lose allies? Will their enemies gain in power? Perhaps setting elements like the availability of magic could change as well.

In Memoriam
The big final fight should be a tough one, and it could well see some PCs and NPC losing their lives or taking grievous injuries. PCs died at the ends of TWH seasons two, four, and seven - and only one of them got better. It should be noted that these were player calls at jumping-off points, as PC death in Buffy is essentially optional, but a game with a less player-chosen body count can still ramp it up for a big finale. (Check out Our Last Best Hope, a storytelling game about stopping apocalypses where a well-placed PC death is a key tactic!)

Nothing will ever be the same
The PCs save the world, but not 100%. Smaller changes in the setting can show the impact of their actions and those of their enemies. Say the PCs stopped the Red King killing the sun god, but he still managed to conquer one PC’s homeland and oust another’s queen from her throne, and now his Red Orcs hunt the Free People through the land - the next run of adventures should feel different.

Choose what you lose
Maybe the PCs can save the world but can’t do everything on the way so they have to prioritise - do you save Kingdom X or Kingdom Y? Villains love making heroes do this - and of course players love finding a way to achieve both. But a change that the players will find interesting (and I’d discuss in advance) could become unavoidable, or something might arise from the PCs’ actions.

So, the world ends... and, uh... what next...?
Then again, in a setting with a high enough Weird Level, the apocalypse can happen mid-game. It could continue in a hellish future where everything sucks, if that’s fun for the players - it might not be if everybody the PCs liked is dead and it’s their fault! Alternatively, the PCs could find a way to travel back in time to undo the destruction. Good if you establish this possibility at least in passing in advance, less so if you drop it in abruptly after the players mess up the apocalypse-stopping adventure. You can also have your cake and eat it by running a Days Of Future Past adventure where someone flashes forwards to after an apocalypse somewhere in the PCs’ future, gaining a clue about how to stop it in the process. Yeah, I did that one in TWH as well...

Friday, 20 May 2016


Powers (the TV series) is based on Powers (the comic) about cops dealing with Powers (the type of people) who have powers (the... powers). Clear?

It played in the US on the Playstation but here it’s on a TV channel, and one I get no less.

It’s pretty closely based on the first run of the comics, though it’s a hybrid of a couple of the first stories. This is surprising as the original run felt like it could translate to TV pretty much head-on, although the end of the first story might be a bit deus ex machina away from the splash page. One substantial change is moving a big reveal up to the very start.

The basic setup also makes for a pretty workable game - non-superhuman police dealing with mostly-low-end superhumans. (Mutant City Blues has you covered for an investigative game about working out who did what with which superpower.)

Thursday, 19 May 2016


I’m currently catching up with the new TV version of The Flash. (See what I did there?) Nice, fun, lightish show, especially watching it back to back with Arrow. Being a solo TV show about a superhero with one easy-to-grasp power, the writing team are doing their best to show interesting and fun uses for super-speed. It’s one of those powers that you think about as a kid, so it can provide a lot of ideas.

In games, it can get a bit tricky. How you determine initiative, multiple actions and the like, when one of the PCs can run at the speed of sound, or even faster? Celerity in Vampire is enough trouble, and that only makes a PC two or three times faster than usual! How do you stop a PC from going X-movies-Quicksilver on a room full of people before the other PCs get a single action - fun on screen, maybe not at the table.

The TV version gives him super speed but only intermittently super reflexes, so he still has “lag” when reacting to things - he’d only have improved initiative when powered up, and can’t go at full speed all the time.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Star Trek 2017 has... a logo!

As part of a decidedly vague teaser.

And that teaser will probably make anti-Abrams people freak out with its resemblance to the closing credits of his Star Trek films...

New crews, plural...

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I have now watched all of The Clone Wars, all hundred-odd twenty-minute episodes. (As opposed to Clone Wars, all two hours.)

And I never did warm to the big wooden puppet head characters, but it worked well when moving away to them, to long shots, crowds and space battles.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Person Of Interest season four

Person Of Interest season four has how finished running here, just in time for season five to start in the US... with no sign of it showing here...

The setup of the show has changed... quite a bit.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The blood of patriots and tyrants

Turns out the Vampire PCs will trust the haunted tree over the local vampires...

Yes, admittedly, the local vampires are vampires...

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Henry VI (Shakespeare version)

Or the Prequel Trilogy for Richard III.

Pretty much everybody wants to be the king, expect the king, who wants to be a hermit.

For the non-Shakespeare version, Henry VI was by all accounts someone whose temperament was better suited to the role of hermit than king. Unfortunately it was a mostly hereditary position with occasional usurpation (which is how his grandfather got there, replacing another king depicted as insufficiently murderous for the gig) so just about everyone around him was after it, and being nobles they were also massively entitled and quick to take slight.

Most of the characters who come out of the Shakespeare version looking good are trying to keep the peace and keep the country stable, and they’re usually stabbed for their troubles.

As a rule, player like to have their characters depose bad kings and maybe follow good ones if they can’t get the job themselves. How would they deal with multiple would-be bad kings?

Friday, 13 May 2016

Agent Carter

Well, damn. Agent Carter gets two seasons and done. (As well as being buried on some obscure Sky derivative over here, meaning I only saw season one by DVD, as Channel 4 did not pick it up along with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. despite its enormous Britishness...)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

And now... a pun.

Secret Intelligence Gathering, Monitoring And Research protects the Empire from the cult of Chaos. They are...

Agents of SIGMAR

... I’ll get my coat.

(Seriously, an espionage game like Night’s Black Agents about fighting Chaos cultists... okay, going...)

Warhammer Quest returns

The new version The Silver Tower features the Age of Sigmar stuff but also has something pretty cool, a non-white non-Germanic priest of Sigmar. (And the elf means we have a female character in the core box as well. Not that you can really tell from the picture, admittedly.)