This is an exciting one for me. I haven’t gone much beyond re-skinning a thing or working within someone else’s framework, be it Savage Worlds, Fate, or some horror one-shot, in some time. And while yet another Apocalypse World hack may feel like a re-skin, my goal for Untamed Suburbia is to design a game that does something new for me: take a core idea from conception to fruition intact. I’ve pondered a number of projects over the years (one about school kids as an Encyclopedia Brown meets Bruce Colville supernatural adventure series, or something that scales out a bit like Reign as has you playing both PCs at ground level and the major players in the setting working behind the scenes at the same time), but none of them quite landed. There are notes, but few of them got the nudge they needed.
When I started talking about Untamed Suburbia, folks were interested. The opportunity to play animals, not anthropomorphic or magical or talking animals, but animals: four feet, eat off the ground, sleep in a nest animals as PCs resonated with folks. I have wanted to do a card-based selection for character creation for a little while and this seemed like a good time to put it together. So notes became a short rulebook became cards became a session at Midwest Gamefest!
more “Midwest GameFest 2018, Pt. 5 (Untamed Suburbia)”
This game was a first for me, a GM-less experience without specific PCs that functions as a world building exercise as well as an rpg experience.
The Quiet Year by Avery Alder follows a community after things have collapsed, in a lull between their conflict with a group known as The Jackals and before the arrival of the mysterious Frost Shepherds which ends the game on a random card during the winter. The game is available for download and can be run as a print-and-play or by buying the printed copy which has you looking fewer things up. Either way, you’ll need some paper and writing implements to plan your community. Hopefully, your community fares better than ours did… more “Midwest GameFest 2018, Pt. 4 (The Quiet Year)”
Ten Candles and I have a brief but passionate history: I have written about it twice before (at KantCon and when I ran my own variant), I barely missed a chance for a pickup game of it with some friends a few weeks ago, I’m quoted on the Ten Candles website and have emailed back and forth with Stephen Dewey about my Running on Empty build.
I’m super into this game, is what I’m saying. So it makes sense that when I had the chance to jump into another session at Midwest that I would do it. This might be my last time writing about it for a bit, but it definitely won’t be my last experience with it. Let’s get to the session, shall we? more “Midwest GameFest 2018, Pt. 3 (Ten Candles)”
Let me state for the record, I really wish I had some pictures of this one, since there was a lot going on in the middle of this table. Jenga blocks, board game tiles, a variety of pawns, glass gaming stones, and index cards with notes and numbers… For a guy who mostly runs theater of the mind or a simple white board, it was quite a shift.
Edit: One of my players snapped a shot of the island as it sank!
Photo Credit: Andria Osborne, 2018
Anyway, last weekend was Midwest GameFest. I discussed my experience with Bluebeard’s Bride yesterday, and today is about my Fate Core session, Rock Chambers & The Forbidden Island! more “Midwest GameFest 2018, Pt. 2 (Fate Core)”
Content Advisory: domestic and sexual abuse or trauma
This weekend was Midwest GameFest, the other tabletop convention here in town after KantCon in July. It’s a solid tabletop convention on the other side of the city and serves a somewhat different crowd of gamers. It also happens to be within a week of my birthday every year, so I usually take a day off work and treat myself to a gaming weekend before we head into the holiday season.
It’s a four day event, but Thursday can be a little sparse. I wasn’t planning on taking another day off work, but a friend of mine was running a game I have heard really good things about and I knew I would have to add an evening onto my schedule to make it happen. The game is Bluebeard’s Bride, a Powered by the Apocalypse system written by Whitney “Strix” Beltrán, Marissa Kelly, and Sarah Richardson. more “Midwest GameFest 2018 Pt. 1 (Bluebeard’s Bride)”
I’m working on a new project for the One-Shots which implements the Running on Empty setting as its background. Since Ten Candles happens in the dark, and Running on Empty is a survival horror setting where the sun never comes up, it made sense to me to figure out how they fit together.
more “Running on Empty: Tales from the Road (Ten Candles)”
I’ve had the highest number of games in the shortest amount of time recently, averaging a game of Heist every two days for a couple weeks. I’m about due for a new printing of this one, so I imagine it’s time to discuss what I’ve learned. I’ll start with a heartfelt thanks to my playtesters at KantCon, my household game nights, and visitors staying with us. I promise there’s a plan in development to make it easier to play a game if you are further than a short drive away from Kansas City.
The game itself is a card game about team and resource management where you take on the role of an international criminal competing with rivals to steal the most interesting things in the shortest amount of time. You hire a crew, buy gear, and play event cards from your hand (all of which are resource cards and can be spent as money) to make it easier to attempt one of the jobs face-up in the middle of the table. Each job has a number of complications which add to the difficulty, but can also add to the reward if completed successfully. The items themselves are a collection of (mostly real) objects stolen throughout the modern age, including famous works of art, classic cars, national icons, rare collectibles, and some local jobs like corner stores and small banks. By matching your crew’s skills to the jobs, you can avoid taking heat, which is the attention of the authorities. Gain too much heat on your crew and someone is going to jail. The player with the most prestige at the end of the game wins, but rivals don’t know if you are hiding extra prestige cards in with your resource cards. Victory is not a foregone conclusion just by having a lot of points showing. more “Heist Playtests (KantCon and Others)”
My last session was discussed here.
Horror is a very tricky thing at the game table. I’ve been wrestling with that mood since 2nd Edition Ravenloft. The players aren’t in the same situation as their characters. They have knowledge the PCs don’t and player characters by definition are better prepared to handle these situations than your usual horror protagonists. Plus, control over the environment to reinforce the unease, or descriptions that put you there, can too easily veer off into cheesy gimmicks that pull you out and insulate you from what’s happening. Horror, in my opinion, is best reinforced by a rules system that puts you there, ratchets up that tension and helplessness, and keeps things unpredictable. more “KantCon 2018, Pt. 5 (Dread)”
My previous sessions are discussed here.
When I pick sessions for a convention, I look for 1) a system I have never played, or 2) a system I like with an interesting hook for the session. If one of the players or GM is someone I know, all the better. In this case, Savage Worlds is my comfort food. A friend of mine turned me on to the system about 12 years ago and I have run campaigns in it ever since. It was a game changer for me, since it handled large combats smoothly and had some interesting takes on character creation, support characters contributing to combat, and an initiative system I fell in love with.
more “KantCon 2018, Pt. 4 (Savage Worlds)”
The previous session of KantCon 2018 was covered here.
The only RPG session I ran all weekend was this one, a Fate Accelerated romp called “Forget It, Jake. It’s ToonTown,” a mashup of film noir tropes and Looney Tunes antics. It was Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets L.A. Confidential. A toon ingenue hires a human private investigator to look into threats made against her while filming a movie in Hollywood, with a fox toon journalist on their heels looking for dirt and the detective’s old partner from the ToonTown police force, a pig cop yearning to get back out there and solve crimes. Rounding out the team is the actress’s bodyguard, assigned by the studio to make sure she makes it through the production. These five will hunt through the back alleys of Hollywood and ToonTown, up against kidnappers and the toon Mafia, the White Glove. Each character also has a secret on a slip of paper which affects how the story unfolds. Familiarity with Roger Rabbit helps, but isn’t necessary.
more “KantCon 2018, Pt. 3 (Fate Accelerated)”