Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Five Out Of Ten on Bloodlines

Five Out Of Ten is a magazine of essays about computer and video games. The current issue, on the theme of identity, includes Jody McGregor talking about Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, humanity and Humanity.

(Jody was one of the stars of The Night Watch, Steve D’s legendary Buffy game that I stole the concept for The Watch House from, so this is Very Important.)

Monday, 30 November 2015

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A city much like London

Unmade London landmarks. The arched early prototype Tower Bridge would be a good first clue that you’re in a parallel world. The gigantic Metropolis thing that could have been the new Grosvenor Park hotel would suggest Airstrip One...

Saturday, 28 November 2015

One small action

Today I joined a global climate march. The showing in Edinburgh was a mile long, not a big deal compared to the sixty thousand or so in Melbourne, but enough to be seen. It went off peacefully, so you may not have heard about it in the news.

Have you ever included something like that in a game? A peaceful protest, a march, a sit-in? Maybe as background detail for an in-game issue, like mutant rights in the Marvel universe? Or just an obstacle in a chase? And did it achieve something?

Friday, 27 November 2015

Black Friday

The Spirit Of Black Friday Past can only show you three years ago.

But the Spirit Of Black Friday Yet To Come has such sights to show you...

Your savings will be legendary. Even in Hell.

Terror is Tales From Black Friday.

The gods are hangry.

Thursday, 26 November 2015


Happy Thanksgiving, to those for whom it is appropriate.

Thanksgiving has its roots in recorded history, but it’s still picking up odd sidebars. I’ve talked about weird holiday traditions and how they accrue before, like Hallowe’en for example. We’re seeing one being actively pushed at the moment with Thanksgiving, with Black Friday - it’s happening here and we don’t even have Thanksgiving to attach it to!

Which is a shame because a holiday all about communities coming together to help each other and looking at what you’re glad of in your life sounds nice.

Here in the UK, apparently we have National Cake Day. Which is nice, but...

Game-wise, does your setting have any major holidays specific to one nation? Something that visitors would find surprising, and travellers going the other way would celebrate in small ways.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Your Game: Civil War

The trailer for Captain America: Civil War came out last night (distracting Marvel fans from talking about Jessica Jones for a while) and revealed the basics of why MCU Cap and Iron Man are going to fall out. Empire talked to the directors the Russo brothers and they dropped some biggish hints here.

Two of the major players in the setting (PCs, if you will) disagree and it escalates to combat. As long as it’s PC v. PC and not player v. player, this can make for pretty interesting developments.

Hence not one but two seasons of The Watch House ending with PC heel turns - with the heel PCs set up by their players to provide a good fight and lose.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Overthrowing the setting

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II is now in cinemas, the conclusion of a YA SF trilogy/quadrilogy about revolution against injustice and overthrowing a dictatorship.

The setting has enough detail to be gameable, before and during Katniss’s revolt, with worldbuilding to spare in the little-seen Districts and the world beyond the redrawn borders.

(The 100 is I think the most game-friendly work to appear in its wake as it’s been adapted to TV with an expandable scope and a higher Weird Level.)

Have your characters ever toppled the system? And what, if anything, did they do afterwards?

CyberGeneration is an early example of YA dystopia and revolution in gaming, with the disenfranchised youth suddenly having the power literally in their hands to cause real change, and a run of adventures designed with this in mind - it starts with Bastille Day, dropping the PCs into a prison camp to rescue someone and, ideally, start a full-on breakout.

Vampire: The Masquerade started with the assumption that the PCs would be or become anarchs, the angry young vampires railing against the establishment with the storytelling advantage that the establishment was right there in the form of the Prince. Later editions focused more on the cold-ish war between the Camarilla and the Sabbat, but anarch play has seen more support in V20.

Midnight is a dystopian spin on Middle-Earth where the Dark Lord of the setting won, and a small resistance struggles against the forces of the Shadow.

And of course in Star Wars you are probably part of the Rebel Alliance.

There are also games about utopian settings in somewhat hostile worlds, like King Arthur Pendragon, where PCs are expected to support and defend the dream of Camelot, promote its ideals, and salvage what hope they can when it all comes crashing down.

Wraith: The Oblivion video interview

Ian Watson sits down to discuss Wraith: The Oblivion.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

You can't pick your clan...

An idea I’ve seen a few times - a Vampire game where players generate mortal characters and then have clan assigned randomly or by the Storyteller. It can work, as long as the choice doesn’t invalidate what the player wants to do. My example is a highly social character becoming a Nosferatu - which can happen in the Vampire: The Masquerade setting but probably isn’t what the player wanted when they filled in those Appearance dots. Most concepts can fit into most clans with work, but some are definitely more work than others.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Knights of a rusted future

What is the story behind the headline piece from concept artist Blake Rottinger? I don’t know, but I want to...

Friday, 20 November 2015

A comics anthology about and by women in gaming

Chainmail Bikini, launched on Kickstarter, is out now to all.

A Star Trek Wishlist

From SFX, these ten points are, I think, pretty good. Especially making it mainstream and non-fan-friendly. As noted, if Doctor Who can do it, so can Star Trek.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Should I rectify this...?

I realise, as I look back on Hallowe’en adventures and forward to Christmas adventures, that I’ve never run an adventure themed around St. Andrew’s Day...