curgoth: (Default)
( Mar. 5th, 2010 01:39 pm)
The full write-up for Sleepers is up, with all the rules and, most notably, sample characters.

Not only is Sleepers the game for spies and secret agents, it's also the game to find out what happens when Roy Batty fights River Tam while Echo from the Dollhouse teams up with Chuck Bartowski.
curgoth: (Default)
( Jan. 28th, 2010 03:10 pm)
part 1: fashion.

Last night, the belt I wear with my work pants broke. It has been getting worn, but I realised that I can put my finger through the hole that the buckle goes through. Since I was at work until 8:30 last night, this meant that shops were closed by the time I got back near home, leaving me beltless for today.

Since I had no belt, I wore suspenders to keep my pants up. I also added a grey vest over the standard black oxford shirt to cover up the suspenders and give me a pocket to keep my phone in. The pocket watch was a natural addition at that point. As was the grey silk brocade tie. I used my new skills and did a full windsor knot. I considered a fedora, but since I lack a good overcoat, the effect would have been wasted.

I need to go buy a new belt this weekend.

I'm not sure what to do about footwear - my combats have a big split in the leather, but I can't afford to replace or repair them right now.

part 2: medical.

A wheezy day today, despite the advair. I called off the planned gym experiment - I am concerned that if I have to leave classes gasping for air too often, they'll have to ban me from the gym. and that would upset me greatly.

part 3: gaming.

I've decided on running Nano-Victorian Futures and Sleepers at ACUS. The website has stymied my attempts to register games thus far. I have been mucking around the wiki adding more NVF character gneration examples and the skeleton of a section for Sleepers. I've got a plot seed for NVF that should grow into an actual plot before the con. Still not sure what Sleepers will be about plot-wise, but if all goes according to plan, I should just need to nudge the players a bit and sit back to watch the mayhem. I'm really hoping someone comes up with a Sleeper that is weirder than my sample ideas.

part 4: NOMs.

I really want chocolate right now. Instead, I have apples. I do not want apples.
curgoth: (Default)
( Jan. 25th, 2010 10:35 am)
ETA: I really need a catchy name for this system. Preferably one without my name in it so other folks won't feel weird using it once I get the kinks ironed out (and in). Meta-diceless?

I finally figured out how to polish the general set of diceless rules that I've been meddling with for a while (basically the rules set that Nano-Victorian Future is based off of).

You can get a general feel for the rules here.

Basically, it uses an Amber-ish diceless conflict resolution - whoever has more points wins. Characters are based on three types of properties: attributes, powers and knacks. Attributes are qualities that everyone has, and the primary focuses of conflict. Powers are qualities that some have, and some do not. Knacks are features unique to the character. Every character should also have a motivation, a couple words that sum up the main narrative drive for the character.

Exactly what the attributes, powers and knacks are is setting dependant.

While I haven't made it explicit in NVF, I've got a loose system for using powers and knacks in conflicts. Depending on how broadly usable a feature is, I either just add it in for the conflict, or double or (rarely) triple it. Moving forward I think it will be more clear if I let a player know up front if a given feature is straight-up, two-fold or three-fold. For example, a cloak of invisibility does only one thing, where "super-senses" is more broad, so the former would be two-fold and the latter straight-up. You would need to have more than twice the points to see past the invisibility cloak with your super senses.

In a fantasy setting, this would be pretty important if powers included being highly skilled at something (like fencing, say).

Finally, I've noodled before about the "Princess Bride problem" - how do you deal with Wesley and Inigo game-wise, letting Wesley win when they fence even though Inigo does nothing but fence? Previously, I figured that the solution was "fate points" in service of Motivation, but worried that the game would devolve into the players trying to game the fate point system.

My new idea is to simply not tell the player how many points they have. That introduces uncertianty into conflicts without overly eroding a PC's competancy. If you try to use a fate point and you're out, the action will either fail, or the player takes "damage" in one way or another.

It's probably a big PITA for the GM, so I'll have to work out some way to track this for myself during play, but I think it's worth a shot. I won't change the existing game I have running now, but I'll make the tweaks to any games I start up in the future, including convention games.
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curgoth: (Logrus)
( Jan. 24th, 2010 09:35 pm)
Presumably as a side-effect of the reg page going up a month later than usual, there's only about a week until the end of game submission for ACUS.

This means I have to start and finish thinking about which games I am going to run, and soon.

Ideas I have so far;


  • Another Nano-Victorian Future game. I'm pretty confident that the setting and system are holding up for this one, since it seems to be working in my F2F game. I just need to come up with a plot, but for NVF, that shouldn't be too hard.

  • A consensual world style fantasy game using a set of diceless rules similar to the ones for NVF. I'd have to a) come up with a plot on the fly, and b) go for one of the longer slots so we'd have time to build the world and still have a game. I'd be nervous about the pacing/timing, especially since I doubt I'd have a chance to playtest it before ACUS.

  • Sleepers, a game of spies and secret agents. As previously mentioned, this needs some smoothing out still.

  • I could try to run Blood Shadow again, but I'm still feeling deflated from how last year's went, and I haven't figured out how to fix the setting.

  • I could maybe throw together a set of rules for a Jim Butcher Codex Alera game? And come up with a plot? Perhaps better I don't.



I'm interested in Primetime Adventures and In a Wicked Age, but I don't know the rules well enough to run either as yet.

I will probably end up running two games this year. One of them will almost certainly be Nano-Victorian Future. Any comments from the peanut gallery on which of the others sound good?
curgoth: (Logrus)
( Jan. 24th, 2010 08:38 pm)
Friday night, I dreamed an RPG. Or, at least, the basic broad strokes of one.

Zil and I have been watching a lot of Chuck lately. This apparently triggered a dream about secret agents and spies with weird knacks, powers and features. As the dream progressed, it turned into a game design.

The game is called Sleepers. All the players are sleeper agents for an intelligence agency. They're all in deep cover doing spy things. You go from your basic undercover spy, to guys with Intersect type things in their heads, through brainwashed Dollhouse-esque characters who don't know they're agents until they hear their trigger phrase, and down into really weird stuff.

Each character would be made with a small number of points. To get more, the character takes negative features - things like being activated by a trigger phrase, being a double, or even triple agent, having arrival agency have your loved one hostage, etc. The GM would have to figure out how big a bonus to give for each drawback. The idea is to get characters with really odd situations. In return, they can use the points on either becoming super awesome in attributes, or (in my mind, better), coming up with wacky spy powers. I had more examples from the dream, but I've lost them now.

For attributes, since we're talking spies, I figure we should assume that they're all universally highly trained in all combat skills. Any spy can take out a non-spy, and spy on spy competition comes down to finding another edge. Strength and Dexterity would have to be on the table, as would something like Intelligence (for code cracking, hacking, etc.) and maybe some sort of social/lying/acting attribute.

Anyway, this more or less popped into my head when I woke up Saturday morning. I think I could make something out of it.

Of course, I just found out that the ACUS game submission deadline is this week, so the question is, can I fill in the gaps and smooth it out by the end of the week?
curgoth: (Default)
( Oct. 5th, 2009 09:41 am)
Friday )

Saturday )

sunday )

Sleep supply insufficient, but weekend good.
BTW, there have been some new pages with background put up on the Nano-Victorian Wiki.
curgoth: (Default)
( Jul. 23rd, 2009 08:38 pm)
This sunday at Beta Colony is random games day. There will be games. Maybe board games, maybe role-playing games that are not the Nano-Victorian Future. But, games of some description.

ETA:starting at 2pm, more or less.
curgoth: (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2009 08:58 pm)
Nanovictorian future dates;

August 30th
September 13th

Some sort of other games on July 26th
curgoth: (Default)
( Jun. 4th, 2009 12:55 pm)
I have been a mail-orderin' fool, of late.

I got a shipment of taboo absinthe from BC last week. Added to the new brand the LCBO carries, I now have three kinds. Some time in the fall, I think I need to have a Girls Gone Wilde party (tea and absinthe! Victorian/Steampunk dress encouraged) and do an absinthe tasting. And really, three glasses should be plenty for just about anyone.

I also finally got my copy of In A Wicked Age, an Indie RPG that I got to try out at ACUS.

Finally, I also got notice that the Freakangels stuff I order a month ago has finally shipped.
Just a reminder; this Sunday, June 7th at 1pm is Beta Colony Game Day. Drop by for another session of The Nano-Victorian Future.
I've got some sample characters up for the Nano-Victorian Future here. There will be more as time allows today, and hopefully also a sample combat.
Because ACUS always gets my brain going in a nerdly direction;

An idea for a character that would work either in an Amber game, or a superhero setting. Or, you know, the space opera she comes from.

The basic set up is a doctor in a far future space opera type setting - Star Trek, or Beta Colony from the Miles Vorkosigan books would work as a model. The Doctor (who I can't help but visually model on Promethea) is one of the galaxy's best physicians. While on a deep space mission of some kind, she encounters the Symbiotes. They're the larval stage of some sort of cosmic space wyrm - massively intelligent, god-like beings. In their larval stage, they bond with lower level intelligences to learn.

So, our doctor now has two of the things bonded to her. She needs them and they need her. They're shaped by their host, so on the doc, they become healers. They manifest as serpents of glowing light, and grant her the power to heal, but they have to feed on her life force to do it. They're intelligent, weird, and see the universe in odd ways. Fortunately, she's tougher than she has a right to be, due to the Futureness - in her time, old age and the diseases of cellular dysfunction (like cancer) have been cured by the simple expedient of making error proof cells - and mankind has been that way for generations in her time.

Given the future setting, I figure she'd have a name like Joon Singh O'Malley - she'd come from a post-racist, post-feminist, post-discrimination world. (and yes, I am aware of how problematic that is, but it's a trope) We then transplant her into an Amber game, or to modern Earth to play with the guys in spandex. Either way, she's still a genius physician who holds to her version of the Hippocratic Oath.

As an ADRPG character, she gets a high endurance to account for the toughness. Then she buys the serpents as named and numbered intelligent, slightly psychic critters with at least one alternate form. One of the snakes gets extraordinary psychic sense, the other gets confer regeneration. If there are enough points to go around, throw in sorcery (aka "sufficiently advanced technology") and make the psychic snake a 4-point spell-hanger. The super medical skills don't enter into the points part of it.

As a supers character, she gets something to cover the agelessness and immunity to disease, and maybe low-level regeneration. She gets some points in Science! to cover the future medical training. Then add in the snakes, which provide healing and a degree of Magic! since what they do is beyond science. That gives her two pools of MacGuffin power to throw around - one for medical stuff, the other for "psionic impressions" and "quantum observer effects" and the like.

In the silver age, she'd be called Dr. Caduceus. In the modern era, she'd lose the Dr. part of the name first, then eventually just go by her actual name. Definitely a low spandex factor. In the Amber version, the white lab coat is inevitable.
Yet more GameNerding.

As a player, I love getting involved in the setting of a game. It's one of the things that got me hooked with Amber - character journals, trumps, campaign logs. It all added up to me developing my connection with the setting, and having some influence on how the world looked.

As a GM, I'm a world-builder. I put a lot of time into working out the details of the setting - the politics, the hidden secrets, the cosmic underpinnings, etc. Which is fun for me on its own, but in game, it's pointless unless I can get the players invested in the setting I've built.

I have an idea for a game (I'm thinking fantasy, but it doesn't have to be), with an eye towards getting the players engaged in the setting, and interested in the other PCs.

The plan is, have players come up with some general idea of what they want to play. Then we come up with some kind of order (picking numbers out of a hat, whatever).

The first player introduces thier character. Thier name, where they come from, what they do, why they're adventuring (or whatever). The player invents the answers to all of these from whole cloth, adding as much detail as they like. Name your nation of origin, talk about the government, economics, whatever. The PC does magic? What kind? That sort of thing. Enough to lay down a character concept, without stats at this stage. Depending on the player, this can result in a detailed chunk of world, or just a few broad strokes. Either way works.

The second player does the same thing. This time, though, the player can add on to the stuff the first player presented about the world - if the first player didn't mention their King, the second player can fill that in. The second player has to tie themselves into the first player's story in some way. A connection between the two of them has to be established. Maybe they're both hunting the same evil dragon, maybe they're both from the same village, or they're long-lost twins. Something stronger than both being in the same tavern, anyway.

This progresses through all the players. By the end, a real image of a setting should be starting to form. The last player benefits by having the widest range of thigns to plug into, but has to deal with having a lot more of the setting already defined. The first player doesn't have to try to figure out how their PC fits into the others', but they have to start from scratch. I think this ends up being sufficiently close to fair.

Someone (the GM, or a volunteer), needs to keep notes during all of this. If your group is inclined to use technology (as I am), this would be a great time to set up a wiki that all players can edit. Then the players can fill in thier story and setting details, and the world can grow and develop as the game moves. It also forces the group to assign names to things, which I find tends to deepen player involvement in the setting. The GM will contribute as well, obviously, and sneak in secrets and details of thier own.

My hope with something like this is that it will result in the players being more engaged in the world, in the plot, and in the interaction of PCs as something more than minatures on a battlemap.

I like to think that it could work both in a con game setting (take a long slot, spend the first hour or two on generating characters and setting, then go), and in a face to face campaign.

There are some clear flaws in this idea. The first is that it assumes that everyone wants to be engaged and involved in the setting and the plot. Some people game just to roll dice and kill monsters, and get annoyed when the other stuff gets in the way. This sort of game wouldn't work for them. On the other hand, it means giving up a lot of control for the GM. The GM has to let go of the idea of the setting as thier masterpiece, and embrace the idea of it being "our" world.
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Two GameNerd bits: first, I am guestblogging again over at Mr. Topp and the Big Bad Blog.

Second, I have been thinking about The Princess Bride. It's one of those iconic pieces of fantastic media that gamers of my generation tend to keep in mind when coming up with ideas. It's got pirates, fencing, torture, twoo wuv - all the good stuff.

How can we model The Princess Bride as a game? Let's assume that we have Wesley, Inigo and Fezzick as our players (while Buttercup is important to the story, her lack of agency would imply that she's an NPC).

Inigo's stat niche is his mastery of fencing. His motivation is revenge.
For Fezzick, his stat niche is strength. His motivation is acceptance.
Wesley is harder to deal with, stat-wise - he's good at everything! In a balanced game, how do you end up with a character like Wesley who can beat the master fencer at fencing, out-wrestle the mighty giant, etc.?

Here's my thought - when Inigo and Fezzick fight Wesley, they're dealing with it as a random encounter - a standard amount of effort. For Wesley, this is a throw-everything-at-it kind of quest. My contention is that if Wesley and Inigo fought when something other than Buttercup's life was at stake, then Inigo would win.

How can we make a game mirror that kind of narrative imperative? One idea is having something like "fate points" or "miracle points". Some kind of finite resource that lets a character exceed thier limits temporarily. Wesley's burning through those like crazy. Inigo holds onto his until he meets Count Rugen. Characters use thier resources when the conflict directly impacts thier motivation.

A frequent model for regaining these kind of points is to a) have a character's flaw come into play (as in Nobilis), or b) when something bad happens to a charcter. It's not unreasonable to think of Wesley being tortured to death, and then coming back as severely weakened, as a good reason to refill his fate points.

This kind of thing has definite advantages for introducing a sort of narrative driven uncertainty - and I maintain that uncertainty creates excitement for the players. The down side is that it can lead to focussing the attention of the game onto management of the points, instead of the actual story. This is a criticism that I have seen levelled against Nobilis, for example. If players are using thier points in every battle, and contriving situations to gain back more, their attention may be focussed on gaming the system instead of playing the game.

Still, I like it as a way to have a Princess Bride style game. It's a better explanation than that Wesley's player just rolled better than everyone else, and works better in a game than just having Wesley be better than the other characters at thier specialties.
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