June 22, 2017

Action Adventure During the Tokugawa Shogunate

Taking a break from the fourth Dunwich Committee on Student Safety story and trying to make a submission deadline with an action-adventure tale set in Japan during the Tokugawa Shogunate:

After two young children witness a brutal murder by a powerful gang, a komusō (wandering mendicate Zen monks known for wearing reed hoods and playing bamboo flutes) tries to see them safely through a dangerous forest to the Shrine at Nakazama for a secret rendezvous with the local magistrate and his men.

June 21, 2017

Third Dunwich Committee On Student Safety Story

Just your average day in Dunwich...
Finished the third Dunwich Committee on Student Safety story and sent it off to the first round readers. One more of these to knock out, then I'm going to take a short break from my version of Lovecraft Country.

June 15, 2017

Santa Clarita Diet

Last night, I finally gave Santa Clarita Diet a watch.

I loved it.

It's so good. It's funny. It's clever. It's a little absurd. It also manages to be sweet and accurately portray what it's like to be married for a long time and still like each other...well, except for the zombie thing...

June 14, 2017

The Free State of Jones

Watched The Free State of Jones last night.

Sometimes it was a little stiff and plodding. And it probably should have been a miniseries instead of trying to compress years of people, events, and material in 2 hours and 20 minutes. But I liked it a whole lot.

Even if exact reasons and circumstances of "The Free State of Jones" are still up for debate among historians, the film was incredibly fascinating. Anymore, I’m constantly struck by all the little bits of history that never come up in school and how what we are taught about history tends to be a contrived narrative with a very particular purpose.

May 31, 2017

Dunwich Committee on Student Safety

Just finished another story featuring my Dunwich Committee on Student Safety. It's with my beta readers now, then it hits the submission rounds. Now we move on to the next story...

May 24, 2017

Thoughts On Wraith: The Oblivion

Talking about World of Darkness Games from White Wolf always eventually leads me to Wraith.

I loved Wraith: The Oblivion—LOVED it! I have nearly all of the books released for that line. I think I might have been the only one because that game line never sold particularly well. Most of my friends either never played it or just didn’t like it. I think I only ever managed to play it three times (always had to run it) and never for very long because the players found it depressing.

As much as I loved it, here are the problems I saw with W:tO:

  • It can be relentless depressing and most people play a role-playing game for some kind of escape and to have fun.
  • The players also playing each other’s shadow was a great idea, but hard to do well and often lead to player-versus-player drama.
  • So much about Wraith is character-centered and character-driven that group play was very difficult to pull off or explain.
  • The whole flavor of the game with the Kingdom of Stygia, the Death Lords, Charon and the Ferryman, and the Tempest was all great great stuff but like so many of the games that came after Vampire, most people seemed to have a hard time grokking how all the pieces fit together with the real world, the Shadowlands, and the places out in the Tempest.

I think of all the classic game lines, Wraith could most benefit from a complete overall. Here’s what I’d do:

  • Not make the game so relentless bleak.
  • Instead, play up the creepiness and weirdness. GM to Wraith-Player: “When you go downstairs, there is now a brand-new door in the middle of the living room. The living family who inhabits the house you died in does not notice the door. A part of you wants to go over and open the door, but the other part of you that refused to submit to death knows you must never ever open that door.”
  • Release an initial supplement detailing one-on-one play.
  • Make it easier to affect the living world. “Oh yeah, this is so fun just standing here not being able to do anything, especially after playing as a vampire/werewolf/mage.”
  • Or structure the game different. Maybe instead of playing each other’s shadows, half the players are playing humans the wraith characters are connected to. You could make it so it’s the mutual play of unresolved passions and desires that leads to a wraith, both the wraith’s and their human’s.
  • Come up with a different central conceit to hang group play around that connects the players together. Maybe wraiths awaken in the underworld and need to find/fight their way back to the land of the Quick?
  • And/or release supplements that provide different structures/modules to hang group play on. I always had the best luck with that when I was trying to convince people to play Wraith. ("You're all victims of the same serial killer. You all haunt the same house, each of you having lived there in different time periods. You're all the ghosts enslaved to the same Giovanni.")

May 23, 2017

New World of Darkness Editions

There’s going to be new editions of the World of Darkness tabletop RPGs, or at least for right now a 5th Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade and a 5th Edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. (The anniversary editions from Onyx Path are the 4th editions)!

I played a ridiculous amount of WoD games—a ridiculous amount. And while I came to like other games from White Wolf more and discovered other games outside of White Wolf I probably like better overall, V:tM is what got me into tabletop RPGS. And a vampire LARP is even how I met the lovely wife.

So here are my main hopes and dreams for the new WoD lines as a whole:

  • Decide whether the meta-plot matters or not and stick to the decision
  • Decide whether the different game lines mesh or not and stick to the decision
  • If they do mesh, adjust the cosmology so the different worlds make sense together.
  • If they do mesh, publish rules for how the different powers interact and affect the different supernatural creatures
  • Free the other game lines up a bit from having to fit in the V:tM template --They all could have been slightly better games if they didn’t have to be: Group A has X number of whatevers and they are opposed by Group B with X number of whatevers
  • Make sure all parts of the central conceit of the game are understandable and don’t leave you shaking your head as to what’s the point again:
  • See most of Changeling the Dreaming
  • Wait? Hasn’t the Technocracy basically won already? Then why are we fighting them?
  • So as werewolves, we’re against the progress of man and society?
  • Back off on the incessant New Age, crunchy granola gobbledygook.
  • Axe all the terrible stuff that highlights the worst parts of gaming and being a gamer. 
  • No abominations ever
  • Never release anything like Dirty Little Secrets of the Black Hand—ever
  • Remember to keep some humans and some mystery in the world, so ease up on pumping out new “monster-of-the-week” bloodlines, etc.
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