Saturday, October 24, 2009

In which geometry gives up


Well I'm on a train and had a couple of pretty fun games this week, so may even get two posts done today! Being the awful tease that I am, I'll probably save the Scion post and actually put it up tomorrow. I'll decide in a bit, but for now, Mage! After the break, Daniel will attempt to explain the rather confusing finale of the first Story in the campaign.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You gave it a what?



Scion! Would have been earlier but my weekend activities tired me out more than I'd expected. Anyway, on Thursday the Scion campaign started for proper, and a right good time we had too. Keep reading after the break for the first chapter in the Legend of Vincent Jones.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Of Minds and Men



Mage happened about a week ago now, but I was busy procrastinating on my Scion post. Tune in after the break for one of my most brain-melting experiences in gaming, and the rest of the most recent adventures of Daniel White-Heart, Swashbuckler Extraordinaire!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vincent Jones


Scion! The game happened Thursday, but not much happened in it, and then over the weekend IRC went down and I bought pokemon platinum... yeah. Anyway, we didn't do much actual *game* last week, and so I will meld what we did do into this week's story. But the Storyteller asked for some fluff and so after the break is the history and description of my Scion, Vincent Jones, and his Birthrights.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Aha! My Effects!


Mage game tonight, which was plenty of fun and progress and such. A summary of the story so far as told by my character, Daniel - who has only been present for two sessions because I used to have a different one (this is the same campaign as Susumu before Summer) follows the break.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Am Beating It

See, that's a dead horse. I used a title that you may have thought suggestive, but in actuality referred to a proverb (Wikipedia calls it something different, but meh). That's a literary device or something. Ahem. Anyway, I wanted to put a proper blog post up today, but had no original ideas. Thus, I'm falling back on a topic noone cares about any more. Well, noone who matters anyway. Hardcore vs Casual gamers! It's like the internet's equivalent of the existence of God(ess)(e)(s)! And it's now [EDIT] after the break!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Huburrr



Ok, so. I had a break over Summer. Only at the end of Summer, I locked myself out of my googlemail account, which is the same account as this blog... yeah. Anyway, back now, changed the locks and keys, put some spares in a few places, everything is hunky-dory. [TL;DR of what follows after the break: I didn't do much over Summer except be an idiot. I am now a busy moth. Stay tuned for more.]

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Computer Game Mods and the Issues Surrounding Them.

No picture for this one, this is an essay I wrote as part of the last year's coursework, and figured I'd put up here now it's been handed in (ie finished). Fun fact: this was the first essay I'd written in almost 2 years. It's also shorter than my last blog post ^^; [EDIT And now it's after the break!]

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inside what?

So... I've kinda mostly stopped blogging, at least over summer. I'll post summaries of the last sessions of Mage and Naruto over the next week or so, but the Exalted game is being compiled into its own logs (which I'll go over at the end of the campaign and put somewhere then) and I'm not playing any other RPGs. Still playing WoW, and might post occassionally about that. [EDIT Wall-o-text rant after the break]

Friday, May 15, 2009

I think we should call it your grave!

Not sure how well the above screenshot shows it, but I'm in a new guild! I wasn't raiding enough in my old one (which wasn't really their fault, and I'm not going over it here), so now I'm in one with some old friends from IRC. In a week and a bit, after I leave my job, I'll be a proper hardcore MC Raider! In Ulduar, though.

Anyway, Mage. So last week, we were told that we'd brought the attention of some bad guys called Technocrats to the area, and should go fix that. We headed out into the nearby town/suburb, and after Kase (our Virtual Adept) hacked into the local police station's network and planted a wild goose chase for the Technocrats' Agents to follow, we chased them down. While the rest of the cabal argued about whether or not to enter the shop we'd led/followed them to, I headed in anyway. They didn't actually notice me until Jenna (the rock chick Ecstatic) came in to drag me out, at which point they recognised me as the guy who'd exploded their pal in the last session, and scarpered.

After we (the Agents and I) got into their car - Did I mention that I have an absurdly high stealth roll thanks to my magical subtlety? Yeah - I unsuccessfully attempted to put them to sleep, then successfully made them angry at each other. Meanwhile, the rest of the cabal had noticed I was in the car too, and managed to stop it by puncturing the tyres. Anyway, thanks to some magical help from me, the driver reacted to his car stopping by punching his passenger, knocking the man unconscious and almost putting his head through the window.

A brawl ensued with some locals, and I escaped with the unconscious man to a local park where we all met up to interrogate him. I kept watch for people following us from the kid's roundabout in the park while they talked to the man. I didn't hear any of that, in character because I was elsewhere, out of character because I was reading Wolverine: Origins. The only thing I know is that there was a mobile involved, because I was told it was in front of me but had no reason to care, and then after a while it disappeared because one of the guys summoned it.

Anyway, after a while we were all compelled by our Avatars (the things that fuel our magic, kinda like souls) to walk into a cave that had just appeared in the woods, and once inside the cave to drown ourselves in a lake inside. We all fell unconscious, and when we woke up we were back outside, the cave was gone and we were all more powerful. Susumu can now stop bullets and give himself super-speed.

Anyway, this week, we were told to go and take out the chief Technocrat in the area (presumably based on last week's interrogation - shut up, it was a good comic) and so we traced him to a nearby farm where he was threatening a farmer's family for no explained reason. He saw us coming, shot tear gas at us, then got shot by John (the Hermetic gunslinger)'s bullets and Julius (the priest)'s holy light laser pulse thing. I ran out of the gas at super-speed, only to find he'd already been killed while I was gaining super-speed, and jumped through the window anyway to land in front of the rather surprised family. Kase stopped his gun exploding by exploiting the world's RNG, and apparently there'll be a conclusion next week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seriously guys, wtf?

This totally counts as Wednesday.

So yeah, Exalted. The campaign I'm running, that is. When last we left our heroes, they were about to decide whether or not to fight a Solar Exalt that had just appeared inside their ship. Well, they raced downstairs, and a stalemate ensued. Guns were aimed, swords were brandished, it was all very unpleasant. The Solar, who turned out to be Roja the cabin boy (think about it), was very confused as he'd just found out that in a previous life he'd created the very ship he was now the lowest-ranked person on. The band were very confused, as despite his rippling muscles and white glow, the person in front of them was clearly just a boy in his early-mid teens. After a while of shouting at each other about how they wouldn't put their weapons down because of how they'd probably get killed, the party whore, Lucrezia (for whom it took about a session to gain the nickname Lucy) slinked up to him, flashed a bit of skin, and abducted him to her cabin.

See, this is the great thing about RPGs. The players will almost never do what you expect them to. If they'd tried to kill the guy, he was weak enough in combat stats they probably could have done, but I also forgot to give him good social defenses, and so now he's the party mascot. Well, that and Lucy's booty call, which I'm determined to avoid as much as possible because yeah, cybering? Not really my thing. But in any case, I accidentally ended up with a GMPC (GM's player character, ie an NPC who's as powerful as or more powerful than the PCs and in their party) rather than a corpse. I'm keeping him around rather than railroading him out of here for a couple of reasons, the main one being he's damn useful for exposition.

After seducing him to their side, Roja revealed to the band that in a previous life he'd been a Twilight caste Solar Exalt, who'd made this ship. He also said that it wasn't at its full power, and that they should go and find a powerful hearthstone in the Western Ocean to power it. Then there was more commotion downstairs, and a sharkman jumped on board. Now, I went to look up the stats for the sharkman (a standard beastman) and accidentally started using the stats for  a siaki-man (a minor deity). So after almost killing one of the band in the first session, I positioned the enemy near a window and when Zasz hit him with a large ball of wind essence (think air-zooka, but magicker) he flew out of said window (which I'm sure has a special name on a ship, but what the hey) and didn't come back.

A week of RL time passed, and the next session picked up that night at dinner, with noone really caring that they'd just fought a sharkman, and Roja being very tired out thanks to an afternoon spent with Lucy (off-screen). Later that night, a Peleps (a house from whom Zasz had stolen the ship, head of the dragon-blooded navy) boat was spotted coming toward them. Naval combat rules were learnt as chase was given, and after Lucy blew up the boat's sail the band closed in on the boat to loot and plunder.

Unfortunately, the boat slipped around the back of the Strange Mountain, and a lovely couple appeared ready to get butchered. The man was shot off the back of the ship by Zasz and left unconscious in the ocean, and the woman was killed with a single slice from Revvie's sword. Then their two friends appeared, a large armoured fighter with a greataxe, and an Immaculate Monk (who are Exalted's equivalent of my Mage) with claws. Fong, Alindre and Alindre's bear Grumbles all charged straight at the monk, who redirected Fong's attack the the axe-wielder (who blocked it easily, just as Fire Emblem taught me) and Alindre's and the bear's to Zasz. Alindre did a bit of damage to Zasz, and then I left it on a cliffhanger.

Next session should see a conclusion to this combat (hopefully quickly, as the monk's used enough of his mystical energy that he's surrounded in an aura of lethal water.) and some NPCs who's template I'll get right.

Thousands wouldn't

A fact about me you may not know: I'm terrible at time-keeping. I just have a terrible internal clock, at least when it comes to estimating how much time has passed between two events. I cannot estimate journey times except for in relation to other journeys, and even then only by estimating the distances. "Well, it takes me 20 minutes to get to work, but uni's nearer to work, so... under 20 minutes?" (actually somewhere between 5 and 10).

This sometimes means I struggle to find the time for doing things, this blog being a prime example, that aren't on a fixed schedule. It hardly helps that I had a reasonably active last week. In addition to work, I:

-Ran another two sessions of Exalted (the second of which finished just before I typed this)

-Played a session of Mage

-Hunted down more pets in WoW and started getting reputation with some of the factions from the Burning Crusade who sell pets.

-Handed in my notice at work (come on, 23rd May)

-Applied for a new WoW guild run by some friends of friends in IRC

-Saw Star Trek, which was awesome (though I can't help but feel I missed a lot by not bein a Trekkie myself)

-Had my end-of-year interview at uni, which went alright. I think I'm going to have to redo an essay over the next month or so, and possibly polish up another couple bits of coursework, if I want to pass through into the next year.

Anyway, yeah, busy, albeit some of that stuff's frivolous, but hey, so am I =P

Coming soon: a summary of the first two proper episodes (full sessions) of the Exalted game, a summary of last week's Mage (probably on Thursday along with a summary of this week's), some WoW stuff, and a GMing rant about GMPCs (which I managed to miss last time round). One a day at least is my plan, but we'll see how it goes. Feel free to harass me if nothing appears on Wednesday proper.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It is a silly place

It can be hard picking the right title and picture for a blog post. Today I am going to write about WoW's 3.1 patch and the Argent Tournament, and - cliche that I am - I figured a picture of Camelot from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be apt. But google image search failed me (also I realised I should cut down on the cliche, I hear it's high in saturated fats) so you get a paladin's horse.

So, patch 3.1. Yes, it was a while back, but bear with me. Firstly, the class changes that affected me:

-Molten Armour now scales with Spirit instead of being a fixed value.

Ok, with that out of the way, why am I playing my mage so much nowadays? Because these past few weeks have been some of the best for "Casual" players in a very long time. The Argent Tournament, a small area in the far north of Icecrown, is a hub of daily quests, mostly revolving around getting on a horse, equipping a lance and hitting other people on horses with lances. There is a basic progression which goes as follows:

-For the first 3 days, you kill 10 undead nearby, go out to find swords, and fight with practice targets. For the right to fight in the tournament.

-For the next 5 days, you kill 10 undead nearby, a bunch of mounted lieutenants and their minions a bit further away, go out to find swords, and fight with easy-mode AI NPCs. For your city!

-For the next forever days, you kill 15 undead nearby, a larger bunch of mounted lieutenants and their bosses a bit further away, go out to kill a dragon that (debatedly) requires a group to kill, and fight with hard-mode AI NPCs. For gold! Also for a special currency used for awesome minipets!

-For the first 19 of those forever days, you repeat the previous 5 days (actually 4 on the last time round due to an amusing bug) for some other city. After that you are a champion of your faction, and this doesn't actually get you any more gold or currency, just a nice title.

Now, this sounds monotonous, and it sort of is, except that, being WoW, it's one of the most enjoyable bits of monotony out there. I have so far become a champion of two cities, am nearing my 3rd, and have got a very nice dagger (worth 1/2 a minpet) that was a weapon upgrade for me.

After the Argent Tournament was around long enough for us to get used to it, Noblegarden (WoW's denomination-free version of Easter) came along, inviting us all to run around finding eggs in our low-level villages, throw bunny ears onto female characters (only if they're over 18 though!) and plant flowers in deserts. Which was fun, and I got another new minipet (a cute bunny that hops after me) and a new version of my polymorph spell: bunny rabbit. This inspired me to go and hunt down the other two versions of polymorph available to me (I already had sheep and penguin): cat and pig. There's also turtle, but I was tired by this point and a raid boss drops it. Admittedly, a level 60 20-man boss, but still.

And just as Noblegarden was drawing to an end, everyone's favourite WoW holiday (mainly because it's nothing to do with any real holiday), Children's Week! That's right, time to pop down to the orphanages, grab a cute little kiddywink, and drag him/her around Azeroth showing her/him the sights. There are two orphans: A human who's very dull and gets laughed at by his heroine, and a draenei who, having been made a couple years later, is much more interesting, and has ominous foreshadowing covering her. After taking the little draenei girl through a few achievements with me (exposing her to the harshness of war, teleporting home leaving her behind, and showing her the grind that her future life would be), I turned both in and got another pair of minipets. And then decided I wanted even more minipets, so set about flying about buying and questing for all the easy ones. I'm 12 away from a free skunk, and starting to worry about how much I like this game >.>

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Never thought I'd see the day...

So, Exalted. I promised a friend this post would be about the campaign I recently started running, complete with the above picture/link (NSFW, though I'm sure you can find a clean version if you youtube search "I'm on a boat").

So, I hang out in an IRC channel with a group of friends who were enthusiastic about WAR a while before it came out and decided to make a guild for it. Needless to say, when it did finally come out, most of us left it for WoW about a month later, but by that point the channel wasn't really about that any more anyway. But I digress, a couple weeks back someone started asking, as he often does, if anyone wanted to run an Exalted campaign over IRC. Now, as Scion had recently finished, I said yes.

After a bit of brainstorming, we recruited some other people in the channel into the game and decided on the setting: a Dragonblooded campaign set on the high seas, a group of adventurers sailing about beating up bad guys, that sort of thing. Since then, it was decided that the boat they were on would be an artefact made of Jade, so that it wasn't flammable. And in fact, despite it being a possibility, none of the PCs were aspected with Water, indeed most of them chose Fire. The ship's captain is aspected with Earth "so I can use the crew as armour" (yes Exalted works that way), and there's an Air-aspect there as well. The other 3 are Fire.

The PCs in more detail:

-Cynis Lucrezia: Fire-Aspected daughter of a house renowned for its hedonism, this sorceress and demon-summoner has decided to go out and experience the world before coming back to the Isle and proving her family's credibility.

-Mnemon Zasz: Despite being an Earth-Aspected son of a house renowned for its powerful sorcerers and nobles, Zasz is a brutish fighter obsessed with big guns and the ocean. After being outcast by his family, he found a ship and has taken to the seas to claim the Isle's navy as his own.

-Alindre, Found Egg: Daughter of servants, noone expected Alindre to Exalt, but her family were the servants of a noble house, and so she was more prepared for the life of a Fire-Aspected Exalt than most "Lost Eggs" are. Now she's decided to head out into the Western Ocean to find her brother, a soldier in the army.

-Tepet Revvie Edalalaika: Favourite daughter of a proud military house, Revvie lost an arm and a hand in an assassination attempt about a year ago. She was taken in and cared for by peasants until she was well, and during this time her family's armies were decimated. Now calling herself "Tarnished Orchid," she goes out to take on the world with her swordsmanship, and track down the source of her would-be assassins.

-Sesus Fong: Originally a Lost Egg, Fong Exalted into the Fire Aspect early and was adopted into a house of cut-throat politicians. However, his humble beginnings meant that the world of politics never suited Fong, and now he's stowed away on a ship heading west to escape it all, even for a while.

The ship on which they sail is the Strange Mountain, a small battleship which can fold itself down to the size of a suitcase, and which needs no crew to sail it but a skilled captain. Zasz has armed it with a pair of Essence cannons and a pair of seige ballistae, and they were about to set sail when golden light and the sound of screams spilled out from downstairs. Apparently a Solar Exalt, or "Anathema" has appeared. As Dynasts of the Realm, the band should slay this person, but they tend to be rather powerful and 2 of the 5 of them lean toward the social aspect of the game... it's going to be an interesting 2nd session.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ludicrous Kill!


Mage last night was pretty cool. We'd just broken into a warehouse in the middlish of Glasgow, and found it to be full of educational textbooks, that most evil of products! Ok, so we later discovered they were full of subliminal messages that supressed magic in the minds of the young and so really were evil(ish), but still. Books. Anyway, the security guardwent for a piss as we were discussing how to deal with him, so we locked him in there through some nifty magic by one of the Hermetics.

Inside the security guard's office, we found nothing except for a tracking device (which none of us identified as such, and were about to leave when the Technocracy burst in! Snipers shot one of us unconscious immediately, and everyone dived for cover. Then Susumu realised they were all cowards with guns instead of real weapons, so ran out into the shelves to fight them properly. He surprised one of them and hit him so hard, his head disappeared into his torso and his legs crumpled. Which was cool. Also, it scared away the rest of them, so we were free to burn down the warehouse and escape to get our downed comrade healed up. There were some latin mutterings about god from the group's priest-mage, some ominous mutterings about karma from one of our superiors, and then we discovered just how evil those books were, and also that the fire we'd started in that one warehouse had spread to burn down the whole warehouse district. Oops.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stay. Enjoy Your Final Moments

Wooh, been a while. I blame that Easter thing, didn't have enough games on, so my week's only had structure at the weekends, when work keeps me busy/asleep.

Things that have happened since that last post:

-A variety of stuff in narutexalted. The 3-session fight ended, we got owned in the face by a couple of awesome super-ninja guys, and our debriefing when we got back home was carried out by an interrogator (one skilled in illusions -which Toshi wants). We then spent a session working on a bit of in-character downtime and relationships with NPCs and stuff. And most recently, we tracked down a Ninja of Sound (creepy ones) who'd abducted some merchants into a forest rather like a snowy version of the Lost Woods. Toshi had some fun torturing him and realised that he should learn to heal faster than he currently does.

-First session of Mage consisted of character intros and the Cabal being sent off to investigate some warehouses in centralish glasgow for signs of Technocrats. My character narrowed down which warehouse to investigate by tripping over an empty bottle of Buckfast, and proceeded to fail to smash through the door's lock with his bo.

-I started an Exalted campaign with some friends I know over the interwebs. We're playing over IRC (which meant I got to play around with owning a registered channel, yay) and the game is a naval-based Dynastic Dragonblood campaign. More details in a later post.

-WoW Patch 3.1 hit, affecting Jastanka only by way of a goldsink, and affecting Jielanka massively. Jori'd barely been logged onto >_<. Jiel's now a level 73 Blood(dps)/Blood(tank) DK who's still endlessly frustrated at how much her companion Nebri attracts the negative attentions of Shoveltusks. Jast is still Mono-spec, Arcane cookie cutterish (it's one of those cheap, slightly flexible ones you get from poundland).

-My 20th birthday happened. I got a bunch of cool stuff, including vouchers I haven't spent yet, a new watch, a new pencil and a G13. The last of those was just in time for patch 3.1 bringing Mac compatability for its LCD display of WoW stats.

-Finally, I discovered the joys of putting soundclips into WoW macros. Now, whenever Jast summons her A-Team, she also yells out (only to me) "There's plenty of me to go around!" in the voice of a Northrend boss.

Gods of the Internet willing, tomorrow I'll play Mage and then blog about it. I might also post something about either WoW 3.1 or my new exalted campaign, depending on how much free daytime I find myself with tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2009

And I Feel Fine

Tonight was a very fun finale to the Scion Story/Chronicle/Whatever. Realising that the Band were on his tail and about to catch up, Hitler took the initiative and started the confrontation. In under a second:

-Hitler took on his mighty War Form, a huge mass of bubbling black ooze with white lightning-hair (including the moustache) and golden clocks for eyes, then attacked Leon with no damage ensuing.

-2 Scions and 9 skeletons attacked Hitler fruitlessly, then another 2 Scions grazed him a bit.

-2 Scions got ready for their first attacks.

In the next few seconds, which took a couple hours of real-time (It's almost enough to make one understand why anime episodes spend so long covering so little time), there were some more blows exchanged and nerfs applied before Sazirk, electronic genius and demigod of Atlantis, declared he was ready. Olfus, big brutish son of Odin currently in his own War Form, was ready to act in concert, and the other 3 combat characters used a special power to become ready for this final attack.

-Sazirk shot Hitler in the chest with an explosive round from a railgun. He then used his powers of shielding and ice to freeze the blooming explosion before Hitler was ripped apart.

-Everyone else dived for this inflicted "weak spot" of Hitler, ignoring his massive armour value in order to deal (I think) 70 levels of damage, about 30 of which were to Hitler's soul itself. To put this in context, "poor" Adolf had only 21 total health levels.

-One of the attacks was an arrow made of solar energy from Daniel, adopted son of Bastet (formerly of Ra). One was a sword made of elemental Fire from Leon, son of Ares. One was Olfus (his War Form turned various of his body parts into melee weapons). One was just a strong kick from Val, russian daughter of Bastet. The introduction of Solar Energy and Elemental Fire into an explosion that had become an implosion created a Nuclear Fusion reaction. See picture above.

-Hitler was annihilated, and everyone else was blown out of the way by the masive concussive force (or teleported or flew their way out). Also blown away by the nuclear explosion was a section of the wall of Tartarus, prison of the Titans.

-Gods panicked, and the Band were sent into the World to rally the forces of the Gods there.

-"End of Book One"

Seriously, I couldn't have thought of anything even remotely that epic. Things just sort of... fell into place to make something awesome. It was the sort of thing that could only come out of a group of almost-like minds coming together and working toward one goal... that goal being Awesome.

And now Scion's over, Vampire's over and Mage hasn't *really* started yet. Naruto's tomorrow, but we were in a quiet lull between two stories when we last left off. It's kinda wierd not having myself built up to anything. Oh wait, it's Easter weekend tomorrow and I work in a kitchen. There goes that chillout >_<.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bricks

Yesterday, we created our characters and their home for the new campaign replacing Vampire, Mage (the Ascension). Everyone was a bit tired and the Chantry (mage-home) creation rules were a bit obtuse for a bunch of people that tired at that time of night, but we made our way through and are ready to start ^_^

I'll be playing Susumu, a mage of the Akashic Brotherhood, a group who are basically your classic oriental monks - martial arts, mystic chants, and "chi". He's not the sharpest katana in the box, but hits things very well, usually with a large blunt stick. He'll be joined by a virtual adept (they hack reality) called Kassandra, a rock chick from the cult of ecstasy (they take magic herbs, dude) called Jenna Side, a Celestial Chorister (they get their magic from God) called Julius, and two mages from the Order of Hermes (the nearest thing to the "classic" wizard, with magic languages and formulae and so forth): a gunslinger called John Preston and an almost stereotypical wizard(ess) called Persephone.

We all live in an underground castle hidden under a bunker near Glasgow, powered by a couple of magical "nodes" (sources) and protected by a magically-powered kitten. We all have servants, and are joined by a mysterious "master" mage and another group who are all from different magical traditions than us and will probably secretly turn out to be against us all along.

I played WoW earlier, did some quests in Howling Fjord with my brother on our DK-priest duo. We pilotted scrap-bots around evil robo-dorf mines, and shot falcons with hawks (might have been the other way round, actually). Was fun, if a little short-lived due to The Apprentice being on. My brother managed to get me interested last time round, and now I fear I'm forever going to be shouting at a bunch of ego-filled business-people to stop being idiots every Wednesday it's on.

Also, this week WoW's arena tournament's most recent (I think 3rd) phase ended, and with it the quest of my brother, my past flatmate and I to attain the in-game minipet prize - a baby murloc dressed in armour. We think we managed it, but won't find out for sure until the patch with that pet's model in it arrives in a week or two.

Arenae were cool, though the "grind" of having to do 200 matches in total got a bit tedious toward the end. Early on, however, it was fun playing the game in a way I hadn't before, getting to grips with the new playstyle alongside two of my friends (yes, I consider my brother a friend - not doing so would probably be a bad idea). Pitching my own skills against other players was exhilarating in a way I hadn't felt in a while from the game - the PvE content being universally agreed upon as the easiest endgame yet, the PvP challenge was a great one, especially when we found ourselves dropping low enough in the rankings that we could beat our opponents.

Now, off to level mining some more on my DK. She needs something she can make decent gold from, and for that to happen, she needs to max the skill.

Friday, April 3, 2009

No socks

Had fun at Scion last night, took the band full loop back to Hades where Hitler had managed to escape Helheim and head off to the walls of Tartarus. After run-ins with some of Hades' minions (Cerberus and some rather lacklustre guardian giants) they beat up two of Niddhogg's kids, Goin and Moin. There were some cool stunts, and they're ready for the showdown next week. If it sounds like not much actually happened, that's because we started late, finished early, and spent most of the time in complicated combat.

I missed most of the fun of April Fool's day on Wednesday, due to a mixture of my normal slightly-off sleeping pattern and rushing to finish coursework for today - the last day of the second semester, something that hadn't entirely set in until mid-week. Time sure does fly. On which note, I finished writing up my new Purview for Scion, Time. Therefore I'm going to spend the rest of the post typing it up, for future review by my players and myself.

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Time, Paradox & Linearity

Whenever someone is successfully targeted by any Time boon except for 1 and 10, they gain Paradox points equal to the rating of that boon. Paradox points represent a special type of Fatebinding - According to Fate, Time should be Linear, and those whose Timeline no longer fit this are a Paradox.

Every person has a maximum capacity for Paradox, which equals their Legend + Integrity. If anyone would ever be put above their Paradox Capacity, they are immediately Linearised until this is no longer the case (see below). If someone has 1 or less Legend, they instead are ignored by Paradox, as someone so insignificant cannot hope to unravel Time through lack of Linearity.

At any point, Fate (or a sufficiently powerful Scion) may Linearise a subject of Paradox, thus removing an amount of that person's Paradox but inflicting a suitable punishment. This punishment ranges mechanically from Bashing damage or loss of Legend Points, to having boons repeat or mirror themselves, to being removed from Time (and therefore existance) - this most extreme punishment only being possible if an amount of Paradox is being removed equal to the target's capacity.

It is possible, through the effect of Time 10 or the Avatar of Time, for someone to gain negative Paradox, referred to as Linearity, up to an amount equal to their normal Paradox capacity. Any Linearity over this capacity is ignored.

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Time (animal: white rabbit)

Associated With: Atum-Re, Apollo, Tezcatlipoca

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Time 1: Time Sense

Dice Pool: None, Cost: None

The first step on being able to manipulate Time is being able to perceive it. A Scion with this boon always knows exactly what time it is. They can also detect the use of any Time boon within Per+EPer+Time yards, rolling Per+Time to detect which one, and see the Paradox of anyone who doesn't have this boon. If two Scions with this boon meet each other, each will be able to see some indicator in the other's eyes that they are masters of Time.

Time 2: What If? (I)

Dice Pool: Man+Academics, Cost: 1L per dot moved

Nearly everyone alive sometimes wonders what life would be like if they'd made different decisions. This boon allows them to find out. The user chooses a target, then rolls Man+Academics. They may then move as many dots from the target's abilities to other abilities as they achieved successes on the roll, spending 1L for every dot moved in this way. Taking a dot out of a favoured ability, reducing an ability to 0 from 1 or putting a dot into an ability currently at 0 costs 2 successes and 2L. Reducing a favoured ability to 0 from 1 costs 3 successes and 3L. The effects of this boon last for 1 scene.

Time 3: Time Resistance

Dice Pool: Wit+Academics, Cost: 1WP+5L per extra tick

With increasing awareness of the flow of time, the Scion becomes able to gain or grant a limited ability to ignore - or be ignored by - its passage. This boon costs 1WP to activate. For the next (Wit+Academics) ticks, the target takes one tick for every 5L spent when the boon is activated. If only 5L are spent, the target instead takes only 1 tick for every 2 "normal" ticks that pass. 

A Scion who knows Time 3 may use any of their Time boons, including 3, at-1 speed.

Time 4: Time Loop

Dice Pool: Wit+Academics, Cost: 5L per loop (1WP to be retroactive)

As a demigod, it is a simple trick to take a small part of Time and have it repeat. This boon is applied to one arm, head, torso or set of legs. For every 5L spent, the target area repeats the next 4 ticks once more afterward. So if 5L were spent, those 4 ticks would happen twice, if 10L were spent, three times, and so on. This can be used to make a speed 5 punch every 4 ticks, or to shoot a speed 4 gun multiple times without reloading. The target's DV refreshes whenever they take an action, but they cannot use the affected area to parry. If an attack has already happened, DVs being applied against it are increased by +1 for each time it has happened. After the Legend has been spent, the Scion makes a contested roll of (Wit+Academics) against the target's (Wit+Integrity). If the target wins, the Legend is still spent but nothing happens. If the Scion wins, they may spend 1WP to have the boon affect the previous 3 ticks rather than the next 4. If the roll is a draw, the target may spend 1WP to force a re-roll that they take the second result of, or allow the boon to resolve normally.

Time 5: Peer Through Time

Dice Pool: Per+Time, Cost: 1WP (5L to prepare an item)

With this boon, the Scion learns that not only is Time not a straight line, it is possible to take a hold of normally distant parts and have a look further along the thread. At the cost of 1WP, once per session the Scion may look up to (Per+Time) years into the future or past. They may search anywhere within this time period for the answers to a number of simple questions equal to her Legend. At a cost of 5L, one of those questions may inform her of a specific item that she will need in the future, thus enabling her to attain it. This use of the boon gives the user 1 more Paradox above the normal 5 incurred by using the boon.

Time 6: Time Immunity

Dice Pool: Wit+Academics, Cost: 2WP+10L per target.

After much practice, the Scion learns to ignore Time completely, and to remove people from it. Activating this boon for 2WP + 10L per target allows the Scion to prevent those targets from taking any action for (Wit+Academics) ticks, or to allow those targets to take (Wit+Academics) ticks without anyone else taking any. It is possible to reduce the cost of this boon by half, this grants those targets prevented from taking action complete immunity to anything, and renders those targets given additional ticks unable to have any physical effect on those still inside Time.

A Scion who knows Time 6 may use any of their single-target Time boons on any number of targets at once with no multiple-action penalty, provided they spend the requisite cost as many times as they have targets.

Time 7: Time Overlap

Dice Pool: Wit+Academics, Cost: 15L per loop (1 WP to be retroactive)

By the time they are nearly gods, Scions of Time have learnt sufficient control that they can not only cause loops in Time, but can in fact have those loops occur simultaneously rather than in sequence. Every 15L spent causes any damage taken or dealt by the target in the next 4 ticks to be applied an additional time. So if 15L were spent, the damage would be doubled, if 30 were spent, tripled, and so on. After the Legend has been spent, the Scion makes a contested roll of (Wit+Academics) against the target's (Wit+Integrity). If the target wins, the Legend is still spent but nothing happens. If the Scion wins, they may spend 1WP to have the boon affect the previous 3 ticks rather than the next 4. If the roll is a draw, the target may spend 1WP to force a re-roll that they take the second result of, or allow the boon to resolve normally.

Time 8: What If? (II)

Dice Pool: Man+Academics, Cost: 5L per dot moved

Some people sometimes wonder what life would be like if they'd been born differently. This boon allows them to find out. The user chooses a target, then makes a contested roll of Man+Academics against that target's Legend+Integrity. If they win the roll, they may then move as many dots from the target's attributes to other attributes as they achieved successes over the target's, spending 5L for every dot moved in this way. Taking a dot out of a favoured attribute costs 2 successes and 5L. The effects of this boon last for 1 scene.

Time 9: Time Travel

Dice Pool: Per+Time, Cost: 1WP+10L+5L per passenger

A master of Time needs no prophet or historian to know of different times, he simply strides off to experience them himselves. At the cost of 1WP+10L, the Scion may travel up to (Per+Time) decades into the past or future. They may take up to his Legend in additional passengers, spending 5L for each one. They may only travel through time once per session, though when doing so they may spend for this boon multiple times in order to "bounce" through times, making as many rolls as he spent for and taking the total. If anyone meets themself through the use of this boon, their current Paradox is added to both their own current total and to that of themself that they met. This boon usually takes 5 ticks of concentration to use, however this may be skipped if the user doesn't care when they are going to and leave it to Fate.

Time 10: Channel Paradox

Dice Pool: Man+Willpower, Cost: 1WP

A complete master of the purview of Time must also be a master of Paradox. Possessing this boon allows the Scion to see the Paradox of all people in sight, even those with Time 1. By spending a 5-tick Guard action examining one target, they can also gauge that target's Paradox Capacity. Finally, he can spend 1WP and make a roll of (Man+Willpower) with a difficulty of a target's current Paradox to affect that target's Paradox in one of the following ways. None of these uses of the boon can be used upon the Scion themselves:

-Linearise the target for a number of Paradox equal to that target's permanent Legend.

-Move a number of Paradox equal to the target's permanent WP to another target, for whom that much Paradox cannot be enough to meet their Paradox Capacity.

-Immediately remove 1 Paradox without Linearising.

-Immediately add 1 Paradox.

-Linearise all of the target's current Paradox, with the punishment being the physical manfiestation of as many imps as the target had Paradox. These imps have Legend equal to the target, and will immediately attack either the target or the Scion.

---

Phew, there we go. No details for the Avatar of Time, Avatars being basically systemless. Apologies for the walloftext-ness, just needed to get this typed up and online before I lost the ability to read my own handwritten copy ^^;

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

...Honest

The Vampire game finished tonight. It was a pretty cool last session, makes me wish I hadn't missed the end of the Werewolf campaign last year (stupid work...). We went to go and "save" the Prince of Dundee, only to find he was now fully possessed by some sort of evil flamey shadow thing and had beaten up most of our rivals, a pack of the Sabbat. By this point, I had met in private with the Sabbat member who had infiltrated our Coterie, a Tzimisce (flesh-warping vampires with a penchant for being really creepy) called Laszlo, and arranged a deal - I'd support a Sabbat takeover of Dundee if they promised to let me do whatever I wanted. Turns out that was their plan anyway, but deal made.

On my way to the showdown with the Prince (now with Laszlo in tow) I picked up the Coterie's "punching bag", a Ravnos gypsy called Mickey (Ravnos are tricksters and all victims of their own vices - Mickey's being gambling) and persuaded him - through exploitation of his obsession with gambling and my own blood powers - to join the Sabbat and I in our takeover. After killing the Prince (we had to, honest!) and the thing possessing him, the Sabbat turned round and asked if we were going to fight them for the city. I was invisible at this point, having pretended to be killed by a fireball.

I slipped out of invisibility (not entirely on purpose) by saying that I would welcome them - and that I had the support of the city's Ravnos (all one of him), Malkavians (that clan's leader had earlier promised her support to the coterie in general on this matter, I was the first person to remember and claim it for the new guys), and my own clan, the Followers of Set. The Nosferatu (ugly sewer spies) leader then appeared at my shoulder to lend his own support. The Coterie was as followed:

-Me: Follower of Set, used to pretend to be a Ventrue, welcomes the new leadership but doesn't want to, strictly speaking, join the Sabbat - they have different religious views.

-Laszlo: Was with the Sabbat all along, also pretending to be a Ventrue.

-Mickey: Ravnos, was under magical compulsion from me to join the Sabbat, but thought it sounded like a good idea anyway.

-Richard: Lasombra Antitribu, had hated the Sabbat but now realised that he'd only dealt with the bad sides of it. Didn't join, but instead started working to weed out the weak among their ranks for them.

-Kristian: Malkavian, had his body taken over by a powerful Sabbat he ate and joined the Massive Malkavian Network - Is now making the already insane Malkavian clan super-violent too, by whispering orders to cut into every one of their heads. His body became Dundee's new Sheriff (only there's a special Sabbat name for it).

-Tony: "True" Brujah, thinks the Sabbat are stupid and so went to take over Perth. Is raising an army to come invade Dundee for the Camarilla later.

-Nina/Ezekiel: Less active players than the "core" 6, these two decided to stick with the majority of the Coterie and join the Sabbat.

Over the next year, Sheriti turned her ghoul Mandy into a vampire, and trained her to go infiltrate the Camarilla in Dundee, posing as a Malkavian. The cyclical thing is cool, also I like the idea that, now my character's an Elder in terms of power, she's willing to stay put, extend her influence over the Kine (vampirese for mortal) of Dundee, and send her Childe out to do some hard work bringing down the false society of the Aeons.

At some point over the Easter holidays, I intend to write up a "final" character sheet for Sheriti, and a starting one for Mandy (complete with a new name now she's a Setite vampire). These will likely serve no purpose, other than for me to gush about how awesome Sheriti is/was to future acquaintances, and possibly for Mandy to be a new character in a new game later on. The latter's not likely though, as the Vampire GM is going to be running a Wraith game over the 3rd semester and a Mage game next year (he'll be beaten if this changes).

A couple of off-topic notes: Firstly, one specifically to Dob: April Fools

Secondly, the shoe repair shop up the road needs better opening hours. Grr

Thirdly, time flies. The last two hours passed before I'd noticed, I meant to be in bed by now XD. To say nothing about how fast this semester passed.

Finally, a note to Scion players: Thursday 2nd April, the next session of Scion, will be the penultimate Episode of the Series. As such, I'll be trying to finish it a wee bit early so that everyone has time to work out how they'll spend their last bits of experience in such a way that they end up with little or no spare experience left - I'll not be rewarding any for the final Episode (on April 9th) of the Series. Characters taken to any later Series will not keep any leftover experience - and I'll mention this again at the beginning and end of both these remaining sessions.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Get off my lawn!

For WoW players who are concerned about lack of raid content in Wrath of the Lich King, see above. WoW Vanilla (US launch being 1.1) started with only 3 raid dungeons: Onyxia, Molten Core and (Upper) Blackrock Spire.

More important than more raids back then were:

-Maraudon, holidays and being able to hide your helmet (1.2)

-Getting to MC without going through BRD (!), limitting dungeons to 10 people, Dire Maul and Meeting Stones v1.0 (1.3)

-The Honor System v1.0, Children's Week, the Arena in STV and elementals to grind in level 60 areas (1.4)

-The first two battlegrounds, WSG and AV (1.5)

Now my first main, my priest, wasn't 60 until a good half year or more after release, so I can't be certain, but I *think* that Naxx-10 is harder than BWL-15 was. Naxx-25 is certainly more interesting than MC was, and 2 single-target bosses are better than 1. More to the point, anyone else remember when UBRS was the entry-level raid? Screw Kara, Leeroy's the *real* old-school.

Anyway, I've been levelling mining on Jielanka, my DK alt. It's about 10 times easier than it used to be, for two reasons: Mainly the fact that all the minerals in a vein come tumbling out in one hit rather than 5, but also at some point that I'm going to assume to be 3.0, smelting ores started giving full mining "experience" the same as digging itself.

I also met up with my Father earlier, as he was up in Scotland for a day. S'always good to see family when you're living away, so long as it's still clear that you don't live with them anymore. I feel sorry for people whose families are further afield, ie people I know from school who went to study in the USA, or people I know now who came from mainland Europe or Africa. Still, at least we all have internet I guess.

Scion last night was eugh. The plot ended up taking longer to roll itself out than I'd hoped, essentially leading to the whole session being a long cutscene. Not something I like doing on purpose, this one sort of happened by accident: I had to take the band through the Egyptian Underworld of Duat, but really don't like it (it's a big angry desert which you walk through. Seriously. There are 10 gates with rewards for surviving more and more desert, that's it. Least interesting Underworld by far). Naturally, this meant I had them ride through it on Baron Samedi's raft, with the Baron pointing out the gates on the way, and saying hi to Osiris and Ra. Then Bastet showed up and took them to Yggdrassil, from where they went down to Helheim, where they've found they'll be fighting Hitler again. Also I had to spend some time helping people upgrade their characters to Legend 6 (which they reached this week) and explaining my new purview of Time to the people who've decided to use it (in character as Atum-Re being possessed by Atum-Re from the future and feeling rather loopy because of it).

My least favourite session in a while, but the coming week will have actual stuff to do, and there's a fight with this guy called Adolf coming up. Yay.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On vampires and alts

Tonight's vampire game was interesting. After a long series of events, Sheriti and her coterie, favoured assistants of the Dundee Camarilla's Prince, rescued the Malkavian Primogen from torpor, and said primogen then led us to the site where all the city's Tremere had blown themselves up. While there, the coterie's "tank" Tony blew up his own sword and threw himself through one and a half walls by trying to break through a magical barrier. Clearly, Set did not wish for us to pass through it tonight. Instead, we've decided to go and confront the Prince himself over rumours we've heard, from the Sabbat bastards and from the Malkavian Primogen, that he's been possessed by a "Shard of Lilith", an artifact that the coterie's lore buff Richard thinks is properly called something else. Oh, and the coterie's Malkavian Kristian spotted Sheriti's forked tongue. Luckily, noone thought the loon knew what he was on about, because clearly I'm a Ventrue. Duh.

And now onto WoW. I originally meant to blog predominantly about this game, it just so happened that I started this blog at the same time as I've been playing WoW less and less. However, today I spent some time levelling my shaman alt, Jorianka.

Firstly, a note on my alts. In addition to my main character (main), Jastanka, I have a few alternate characters (alts): Jielanka the Death Knight (71), Jorianka the Shaman (23), and Sontanka the Priest (1, bank alt). When I get a chance, I'll start up Sarlanka the Paladin. The observant among you will notice a naming pattern there. That's on purpose. I am in a guild which consists of an awful lot of alts, none of whom I can ever remember the "real" identities of, and so I determined that my alts would all have some aspect of their name in common, specifically the last 4 letters "anka", and the name length being 8. All of my characters are female draenei. Draenei because they're my favourite alliance race, mainly for their starting area (it's newer and therefore better than the other 3) but also their racial power, a mana-free heal over time spell called Gift of the Naaru. Female because male draenei are ugly squid-faced meatcakes. :<

Anyway, I was playing Jorianka, the shaman, and running around in Ghost Wolf form (which I think of as Hoverdog form, in reference to the oWoD Werewolf game I played in last year) picking up flightpaths and doing killquests against orcs in Wetlands and skeletons in Duskwood. And really enjoying it, I guess just because there's a goal. Jielanka, the Death Knight, has no real reason to level higher, she's half a level behind my brother's priest, but because I'm a tank and he's a healer, I would like to just level those two characters together as much as possible. So while I might go and grind some xp to catch up to him occassionally, there's no *real* incentive to play Jiel. Jastanka has nothing to do except for the daily cooking quest when I remember, and enhancing some magical cloths every three days. She used to raid every week, but with the current arena tournament going on, I've stopped signing in order to grind out some fights for my £12 armoured baby murloc.

Jorianka, on the other hand, has a goal. She wants to be higher level. Specifically 30, for reasons I may spill later, but the point is that it's something I'm not yet. So that gives me a reason to play her, a reason to get on and do stuff. So yeah, I'm questing in Duskwood on her, and loving dropping totems and spamming shocks and all that. the playstyle is very different to both my mage and my DK, but isn't unenjoyable - if anything, I prefer it to my DK's playstyle of runic cooldowns and so forth.

For the time being then, it seems, I am the shaman king. Trying to be, at least.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Time for an introduction, of sorts...

I am Noelor, or Kirisu Noelor, and I spend most of my time on the internet. I spent a few months as Moth of Chaos, and still describe myself as such in some places.

I am Jastanka Ubramt, a character who has been reincarnated in several RPGs, mostly play-by-post forum RPs. A young girl from a rich family, I ran away to learn magic. Or train Pokemon, or whatever. The current incarnation of Jastanka is a level 80 arcane draenei mage in World of Warcraft.

I am Sheriti, alias Millicent O'Neill, a Follower of Set. A vampire who was only 8 when she was turned, I have a natural flair for using her blood to make other people do what she wants. I recently had an existential crisis which brought me closer to Set as I dedicated the rest of my unlife to the Path of Sutekh, the path taken by the most zealous priests of Set. I live in Dundee, and work for the Camarilla there under the pretense of being of the clan Ventrue, that most domineering of clans. I am struggling over whether or not to reveal my true nature to the other members of the Camarilla Prince's Investigation Squad.

I am Tanaka Toshi (Toshi Tanaka to westerners), a genin of the ninja village of hidden caves. I am an interrogator, specialising in torture and needle use. In combat, I throw my needles to paralyse opponents for questioning later. I hate death, especially when it is meaningless, and seek to prevent it wherever possible. Those who are alive are infinitely more useful for any number of reasons. I have an identical twin brother, Yasushi, who I compete with constantly. We practice our latest torure methods on each other when we have time off from missions.

CMS is an almost-20 English computer geek living in Eastern Scotland, studying Computer Games Technology at university. He plays World of Warcraft, Vampire: The Masquerade, Scion and Exalted (converted to a Naruto setting). He works in a kitchen at a pub-restaurant, but not as a chef. He is not active on facebook, myspace, nor any other social network site. Not even Twitter. He lives in a house with 3 other students, all male, and doesn't eat as varied a diet as his conscience insists he should.

I am not Ozymandias, King of Kings. But he's probably my favourite of the Watchmen (based purely on the movie, which I saw a couple weeks back).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Someone like that could never be a protagonist...

Today, I read the most recent issue of Naruto (most recent in Japan, in fact). This means I'm up-to-date with the "big 3" of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. That's triple the goodness of being given a small advance of plot followed by cliffhangers every week. Not that I'm cynical or anything.

Actually, on Friday night at the Naruto game, I was told that natural cynicism is what makes English comedians awesome. Naturally, this means I'm hilarious. Right?

On the subject of Naruto (the game), we're currently involved in a fight which is now rolling into its 3rd session. This is predominantly because we're all very easily distracted, so fighting does take a while, and I'm certainly not complaining, because it's a good fight. But on paper, it sounds awful.

A couple of GMing things I want to talk about related to that, and then I'll shut up about GMing for a while. Honest.

Firstly, how to break up sessions. As someone who got my first breaks into GMing from one-offs, I have an overwhelming compulsion to wrap up every session. I'll sometimes leave cliffhangers, but they'll be really obvious and introduced purely for that purpose. This means that I've learnt perfectly how much content to prepare for each session. *That* means that I'm screwed over by my group's once-in-a-blue-moon early starts. The GMs of both the games I'm running are more the type to be able to break off a session anywhere, including the middle of combat.

Ultimately, this is predominantly an issue for the players to decide. If they don't like having to remember what they were doing to the next week, it is up to you to try to help them not have to do so - remember, rule #1.5 of GMing is to listen to your players. (Rule #1, incidentally, is that everyone in the game should be having fun).

Secondly, missing players. All 3 games this week were missing one player, for different reasons none of which were bad - I've run Scion games with only half the players present before, which isn't something I'd like to do again. There are a few solutions to this, two of which are simply workarounds, and three of which are a source of true dilemma:

-The first workaround is to not run campaigns, and only do one-offs. As much as I like one-offs, campaigns are generally much better. That having been said, in future exam seasons I plan to suspend my Scion campaign and instead run (or let other people run) one-offs in its place.

-The second workaround is a bizarre thing that I call the "campaign of one-offs". Each session of a campaign is its own adventure, with a clear "return to base" at the end of each session. The most usual setting is some sort of (usually mercenary) "adventurers' guild" with a different mission each week, for which the characters of the players present are chosen. In this way, it is perfectly reasonable for the player's character (PC - can't remember if I've explained that one before) to not be present on certain weeks.

-The first true solution is to turn the missing player's character (MPC) into a NPC for those sessions for which the player isn't present. The GM controls that character, and has her take full part in the goings-on. This is the worst option, especially if it leads to character death, or if the GM doesn't understand the player's definitions of what would be "in-character".

-The second solution is to have the MPC take a back-seat, as it were. The character is there, and if there's a situation which desperately calls for her to act, the GM has her take that action, but describes it minimally. Otherwise, it is assumed - and sometimes explicitly mentioned - that she is performing some background activity such as keeping an eye out behind the party, or sniping from afar (kill an NPC at random occassionally, and attribute it to the absent PC). This is my preferred method, and worked especially well for Scion this week as the MPC was far, far slower in combat than the other PCs, and so wouldn't have had a chance to act anyway.

-The third solution, which is preferred by my Vampire GM, is to explain the PC's disappearance in-character. This is almost the same as a workaround, but more direct. Like a workover, if you will. It works with varying success, depending on what the situation was at the end of the last session - for instance, this week in vampire we were just about to start a combat (which never materialised anyway) when the MPC suddenly was called away into the sewers, and scuttled off. However, last year when I had to skip a week of the Werewolf game, it would have been somewhat more difficult to explain away my character's disapperance from the face of Mars.

All 5 solutions have their benefits and downsides, with the possible exception of the 3rd solution (1st "real" solution) - I can't think of any real benefits of that. It is up to the GM to decide (a) which they prefer, and (b) which best suits the current situation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

You there, check out that noise!

Sorry WoW people, despite the above quote, I'm going to talk about Scion again. It was to be expected really, as I ran a rather fun session tonight. For the first time since the band became demigods, it was basically all combat, and rather easy combat at that (I messed up the numbers of early opponents, and cheesed the maths for the boss due to time constraints). Still, it's always nice to rip giant two-mouthed sharks in half and shoot tentacles with lasers.

Having crashed into an iceberg last session, the band patched up their ship and were then "rescued" by Agwe, the Loa of the Ocean, who took them down to the Voodoo Underworld of Guinee. Once there, they started heading to meet with Baron Samedi, but were interrupted by a bunch of tentacles reaching out of the darkness. The darkness, in this case, being the edges of the Titans' prison of Tartarus. They beat off the tentacles, which were replaced by 3 giant sharks' faces, which were similarly dispatched. A larger-than-life slave trader then appeared, and was beaten off by our time at the union almost being up. Leon, the group's element-wielding warrior, picked up a gold doubloon from it for using as a relic later. Then Baron Samedi turned up and took them to his house for rum and cigars.

I'm finally wheeling the plot around, slowly, to where I want it. The Story (Scion-speak for campaign) started with some blockbuster action in WW2, which quickly snowballed its way toward killing Hitler with some time-warping help from Khronos, Titan of Time. After killing Hitler, the Niddhogg, who had been summoned by poor Adolf's death-gasp, nommed them. They then started wandering throught the various Underworlds more-or-less at random, looking for a way back to life. However, this was all getting them to this point.

In the core books of Scion, the plot is as follows: The Titans have broken out of Tartarus some time recently, and the Scions have been called forward to deal with it in the World while the Gods are running around panicking in the Overworld. The Band of my Story are going to be present when the Titans break out, and see my idea for how it happened. There will be legendary nemeses, evil Scions corrupted by Titans, and of course the PCs might be involved themselves. I'm not saying any more, but needless to say I'll be rushing through or maybe skipping the Egyptian Underworld (it's boring anyway) and getting the Band to Helheim fast for the "conclusion" of this Story.

Due to the nature of the group (a university club), I might well have to call a hiatus at that point. It'll be annoying, but not quite as much as, say, the gap between my first conceiving the Story around this time last year and the game actually starting in September '08. However, if I can I'll continue the Story into the Band's return into the modern-day world, and some crazy goings-on with their dislodgement from Time.

In summary, I'm loving the Story of my Scion game, and hope my players do too (they've said so, but I'm going to presume they're sparing my feelings), and would very much like to extend it past the point that the calendar is about to make it conclude with.

PS When it comes to player feedback, I do the following: Take the negative onboard and use it to try to improve, and ignore the positive as sycophancy. This is pessimistic to be sure, but I'd rather be pessimistic than complacent. It's just who I am.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I aim to misbehave

So the internet died last night, which was to say the least annoying. But hey, I watched Serenity and a bunch of Robot Chicken, so s'all good.

Tuesday was Vampire night, which I was going to write about yesterday. The campaign's been going for as long as the Scion one, which is to say since October '08. It's set in the city I live in, so naturally my character lives in the house next door to mine. She's also a very creepy vampire. She was an 8-year old girl when she died, and now she worships Set, who's a really powerful vampire and who she (along with the rest of her vampire clan) believes is an incarnation of the Egyptian God. She's a schemer, mainly, though she's recently gained a heavy religious streak which I'm enjoying playing out. Oh, and she's pretending to be a different type of vampire, and inspired half the rest of the group to do the same (to the extent that our "true brujah" is pretending to be a "brujah").

Recently, the group has inflated to 8 people, and we've all been sent off to beat up a mathuslei, which is a word I can't spell that means "really powerful vampire". Should be fun.

Now, time to talk about GMing a bit. Specifically, a GM's limit. Now, in basically anything, each person has their own individual limit as to what they can manage. A few things apply to the GM here:

-How many players are in your game?

-What is the product of your NPCs and their AI?

-How good are you at mental arithmetic?

These 3 things combine for your game of choice. For instance, I know through experimentation back in the days of Paranoia (a game I played online with some school friends and their web friends, which we played without any system) that I can run a game for 6 people, but not really 7 (though I might try 7 again someday soon, now I've GMed more). The GM of my Vampire game can, from my observations, cope well with 7, but starts to fall apart at 8.

A while back, I realised that I can't support much overall AI. I can run a whole bunch of "extra" NPCs, whose only decision is "I hit this person", but more complicated NPCs like Hitler, who had a whole bunch of different powers he could use, I was a bit swamped by. Needless to say, multiple complicated people I tend to lose track of easily (my players have occassionally had to remind me that one of the NPCs is missing, or has come back to life).

Mental Arithmetic plays the most into what game/system you use. Dungeons and Dragons, for instance, that classic of the PnP RPGs, the one which outsiders often think is the only one, is pretty maths-intensive. Less so in its newest, 4th edition, but certainly in previous editions there is at least a token amount of quick maths to do for everyone involved. Old World of Darkness games, on the other hand, have no maths more complicated than counting. New World of Darkness, Exalted and Scion, have a few specific static values in addition to the counting, but these don't often change.

Any maths done by the players, however, has to be done by the GM as well, more often in fact. In any game, for instance, any maths the player does for their character, the GM does for every NPC, and sometimes the PCs as well. In addition, the GM might have to do things like work out what's possible for players, what's challenging, etc. For instance, ensuring that if, say, an invisible NPC is meant to be "accidentally" discovered by the PCs, it is *actually* possible for at least one of them to pass the "see invisible bloke" test.

These 3 things are important, and if you're GMing, you should be aware of them. As a guideline to new GMs:

-Start with 4 players, and gradually increase if you're feeling that it's easy. If you're not sure about 1 more person, try and organise a one-off in which you can play with that many, and see how it goes. Every Paranoia game back in the day was a one-off, and that helped me out a lot.

-NPCs is a tough one, start with mob NPCs with simple choices (who to attack, not what attack to use) and individual bosses with more complicated choices, and try to work your way up to complicated groups.

-As for mental arithmetic, start with a simple system like DnD4, oWoD, or rules-free. Stick with one-offs at first when trying more complicated systems, and if possible be sure that you know that you can at least play in that system

-As you may have noticed, I like one-offs. In terms of "trying out" GMing, they're a wonderful thing and should be embraced. If you try to start a campaign and find out in the first session that you don't like it, that's potentially a lot worse than if noone was ever expecting more. So try for these as much as possible.

-Finally, *listen* to your players. After a game, set aside some time for asking people what they thought, and try to take it on board for next time. If they ask for something you don't think you can do, try to explain that and work out if there's a way the players can help you do more.

Anyway, talking of GMing, I have to go do some prep for my Scion game tonight, so that'll have to do for now. Will report on that later tonight!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

...But I'm still going to kill you all

Alternative titles: But I slept with your sister, But I'll invite you next time I promise.

Today I helped a friend with a project by starring in a fake (but professionally made) radio show. Hilarity ensued, naturally - as you won't be able to tell by the meme-licious "lyrics" above. Unfortunately, due to the time it was scheduled for, I am now so tired that I've forgotten how tired I am. It's been a while since I was at this point, but it's a fun place to be: I've actually become almost drunk upon tiredness.

I played in a Naruto game earlier tonight. To clarify on that point, this game is set in the same universe as the Naruto manga, but uses the system from Exalted, a truly epic game. It approaches Scion in terms of power level of PCs, and in this setting we're all ninja. It works quite well, but I think I'll save details for a future post (when I can think about it more).

Instead, I'm going to talk about WoW. I've played the game, with a few gaps of varying size, since its launch 4 years ago, and have passed through a few characters. My current, and longest-lasting character is my level 80 Mage, a lovely female Draenei (for the blissfully untouched, think sexy mind flayers with tails) who specialises in pure arcane magic. She's decked out in a decent set of gear, and joins 10-man raids every week for small upgrades to it. I love the playstyle of the arcane mage - a flexible system of being able to trade efficiency of mana for speed of damage at the drop of a cowl.

However, I'm also working on a couple of secondary characters. Both are the same race and gender (so that they can support and be supported by each other and the mage - gender isn't necessary for that, but male draenei are fugly), one is a mighty level 70 Death Knight while the other is a fledgling level 21 Shaman. The DK is being levelled slowly alongside my brother's healer, a priest. The Shaman is levelling alone.

WoW gets mixed reviews. Most people who play it love it to bits, most people who don't hate it more than Jews hate Hitler (or vice versa, whichever you feel is stronger). Myself, I think it's the best MMO game I've encountered for one reason only. This is that any MMO rises or falls based on the strength of the social ties between its players. What has always brought me back to WoW is the fact that my friends and family (well, my brother and father anyway - Mum's as technophobic as she can afford to be) play it, and it's a game that I can play with them. And of course, with a playerbase of over 11 million if you believe their statistics, WoW has that much more sticking power. If it weren't for my guild, my brother, my friends, or so on, I doubt I'd give it a second glance - It's not a good enough game to play for this long, by anyone's stretch of imagination.

So yeah, it's like alchohol or saturated fats. I know I shouldn't, but dammit I just can't stop.

P.S. Extremists (read: idiots) claim that MMOs are addictive. They are, but only because socialisation is the primary motivation of the human race as a whole - it is just as viable to say that MSN, phone lines or the pub are addictive. I know I'd be lost without the ability to IM people or go for drinks with them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More popular than a Goddess' plums

It's still early enough on Friday morning to be considered Thursday night, and for me that means I've been playing Scion. I say playing, there's much debate as to whether or not the "Storyteller" (or Dungeon/Game Master, if you prefer) is actually playing. In any case, that's my role in the game I'm in at my uni's roleplaying club. Every Thursday, I help 6 people pretend to be totally awesome for a few hours. And they at least tell me I do it well.

A bit of background on the Story so far: A bunch of British soldiers (two of whom were Englishmen, the rest being Scottish, Norwegian and a Kiwi) and one Russian woman in WWII found out they were the children of God(esse)s, and naturally went around beating up nazis, planes, tanks, and Hitler. Then Niddhogg appeared and killed them. Now these Demigods are making their way through the various Underworlds, trying to return to the land of the living. This week, and for the few weeks preceding, they've been in Yomi, land of the Japanese dead.

This week, they finally reached the mountain home of Yomi's queen, Izanami. But, she being a Goddess and they being Demigods, there were trials. I had each of them face an opponent tailored for them. James Mildenhall, Oxford Professor and son of Hades, beat a brilliant Japanese strategist at Go and Shogi (Japanese Checkers and Chess, respectively). Olfus Njordsen, Thor-like son of Odin, sparred with a mighty ronin who then shared some mead. And so forth. Then they got to the top of the mountain. 

Now, Gods are affected strongly by Fate. This is a sort of zeitgeist-like Will of the People, a force by which Gods become what people think they are. In Izanami's case, she *must* offer everyone who meets her a plum. These plums trap their consumers, Gods included, in Yomi. Izanami doesn't want people trapped here, but she must ask anyway. It was hard for me, as a GM, to portray that mixture of offering something while dissuading it. It didn't help that a couple of my players have a tendency to do "zany" things. Eventually I had everyone make easy rolls to realise that the plums were bad, and had Fate decree that those 2 who were going to do it anyway couldn't, because their Band-mates weren't doing so.

Rail-roading is an interesting word in roleplaying. As I've heard it used, it describes when a GM forces the players to take certain actions. In some ways, the Fate system of Scion can be seen this way. After all, it lets me say "no, you don't do that" or "you do this" in a way few other companies would (White Wolf games that I've been in before all tend to have a way of wrenching away players' control of their characters). However in this case, it certainly saved the players from a trap which I didn't want them to fall into. It's a thin line, and one I'm increasingly aware of as the Band increase their Legend, and with it Fate.

After the game, I treat the players to a drink in the Student Union. This is mainly so they get a chance to tell me how awesome my game was (I don't care if it's sycophancy, it feels good to get validation on a regular basis). However, it's also so a couple of players from the other games in the club can bitch about said games' GMs to the rest of us. This week, I realised that I was far from railroading. One of the other GMs has done the following:

-Killed players who were away from the table

-Had traps far beyond the party's capabilities to prevent in every direction but the "right" one

-Had 100-strong cults of cthulhu worshippers waiting around the corner for a party who decided to fight the first room of a couple cultists rather than talk to them

-Threatened parties with wizards several levels higher if they don't "behave"

This is the sort of thing that sends players running for the hills. If I didn't have enough on my plate already (GMing 6 players is my limit, I've found through a little experimentation), I'd let some of them play Scion. As it is, I've settled for encouraging one of them to start flexing his own GM muscles.

To conclude the side-tracked Scion story, the Band avoided getting stuck in Yomi, and instead were given a ship that will take them to the Voodoo Underworld, via a crash with an iceberg. I'd say what was going to happen there, but I think at least one of them is going to read this. Maybe later.

As a final note, my very good friend (certainly the friend I've known longest) Dobmeister has linked me on his own blog. As if I wasn't already feeling popular tonight :3

Thursday, March 12, 2009

WoW, you did what?

This is a topic that's been covered many times, I'm sure, but I'm going to talk about achievements, specifically in Activision-Blizzard's World of Warcraft. Right after I point out that Blactivision (pron. Black Division) would have been cooler.

Like many topics, this one doesn't seem divided, everyone dislikes them. This is an illusion, however. It's just that those who do like them, have them, so have no motivation to complain. Those who don't like them, have them, so complain. Often loudly.

Like everyone audible, I'm not a fan of achievements. The abritary system has its positive points, sure. Being able to tell with a glance whether or not this or that person actually has experience of this or that raid is useful to those recruiting for a guild or Pick-Up Group (PUG). And it is a brilliant way to gain aesthetic things like mounts or mini-pets, especially those achievements like Mountain o' Mounts.

It is also a fantastic way of distracting players from what's actually important. Heroics? Screw that, I'm busy trying to fall off a cliff! Kill this boss? Okay, but this time one of us has to stand outside. Now, I'm in favour of making things more difficult for myself, but only if I think I could do it easily without doing so. This system merely entices people to try things the hard way too early. I don't really see the difference in my exclaiming to a friend that "I was in a group yesterday that 3-manned OK, it was awesome!" and "Oh yeah, I got that achievement for 3-manning OK yesterday".

That last sentence is a lie. There is a difference, and it's the sense of "awesome". Back in school, when I was around 13, we spent a semester of our IT course doing web design, and the teacher went on and on about "Wow factor!". This is the same principle. I want to be different. I want to feel that I have achieved something, sure, but something I decided to do. This system spoon-feeds us stupid ideas we should be having ourselves. Prime example: I read earlier today about a raiding guild who decided to do Noth the Plaguebringer not in the conventional way of sending half the raid to deal with ghostly respawns, but instead have the whole raid deal with those ghosts together when they were released. This isn't an achievement Blizzard told them to do, this is something they decided to do themselves because they were bored. And I'd bet money that it was more fun than simply downing Patchwerk faster.

So, to conclude, the achievement system was brilliant, until they decided to make it any more than a quick way of checking statistics. Now it's just a silly, e-peen enhancing bag of bad ideas.

Dear Internet...

Well, this took me long enough. Here I am, stumbling into Web 2.0 like I'm back at school, catching onto the very end of the latest fad. It probably says something that I think the only scene I got into early was Pokémon.

I initially considered calling this blog "Dear Internet...", it seemed fitting for what I've always seen as a "public diary" of sorts. I decided instead upon Impotent Rants, which is what most blogs come out to be. Could it be considered pessimistic to call my own contribution to the ocean this? Probably, but as with all pessimists, I'll be thinking of it as merely realistic.

I'll be aiming to update at least 1 time a week to start with, probably more. Early posts will be easy. I have a few rants in store, and failing that I may even introduce myself.

May the Force be with me. Or the Light. Or Gaia. Or Odin. Or...