Continuum

Thursday, we had another Continuum session — the first proper session in nine months! It was hard to get into things again, and to recall what had happened. I had tasked the players with producing a sizable sum of money at the end of the period of the Corner — between 500.000 and 1.000.000 guilders. Of course, you can’t take that much money with you in cash without atracting suspicion, so the characters had to think of a way to invest some of their money (Simon is the richest with 6 million!) in order to ‘grow’ that capital.
Of course, they had to start their investment portfolio without attracting suspicion either. Simon may be stinking rich, but there is no way a dealer of antique furniture could have amassed that kind of capital in one go — so he could not just dump his money on the table and kick-start his investments.
Barry and Simon acquired some fix’er’upper houses on the Oranjesingel (meaning I had to decide where in Nijmegen real estate would be worth in excess of 1 million in 2001, and how much that would cost back in 1991), Diederick will start investing in the stock market, and Robin is going to bet on various sporting events.

I am increasingly dissapointed in my ability to run the Continuum campaign smoothly. When someone says: “I’ll be spanning all the way up to 2001”, all I can think of is saying: “Sure, you do that. Now what?” I can’t come up with intersting things that might happen along the way — assuming that the characters will keep their distance from their juniors spanning upwards. Maybe I, as the GM, am too worried about burdening my own Yet. Or maybe I am thinking too much 3D and not enough 4D — but I don’t know how to remedy that.

I couldn’t get the players to roleplay out the setting up of their investment portfolios. Sure, it’s not heroic or anything, but it is a very important excercise. This morning, when I thought back, I realised that the actuale roleplaying is few and far between. The minutiae of time travel keep us from actually just taking a story and rolling with it.
I wanted to look into Time Combat, but the rules of that are also pretty abstracted, making the characters more like play pieces than actual characters.

I’m starting to lose hope here. Perhaps I should scrap the Continuum campaign and just do something more accessible (and/or linear) like Nobilis or Amber or even straight fantasy.

Paranoia XP

I’ve finished reading through the Paranoia XP rulebook. I already owned the second edition of the traitorously fun RPG, but I did not hesitate that long before buying this updated version.

At its core, it is still the same: you’re a Troubleshooter in Alpha Complex, a Utopia ruled by a benevolent (but paranoid) Computer. The Computer is afraid of evil commies, and of mutants, and of members of secret societies — those traitors are everywhere! The Troubleshooters are sent on perfectly safe and fun missions to eradicate traitors — but they’re secretly all mutants and members of secret societies too! The best tactic of survival is to ensure your fellow Troubleshooters don’t survive — but because false accusations of treason are themselves treason, there is a frantic rush to prove the treason of others. And all this while trying to survive the other dangers of Alpha Complex… Luckily, each Troubleshooter has six identical clones at their disposal — so death need not be the end!

The new version does add quite a few nifty things. The differentiation of the three play styles (Classic, Straight and Zap) allows GMs to tailor their scenarios to their desired style of play.
Also, with the addition of PDCs (Personal Digital Companion), Paranoia has entered the Brave New World of ubiquitous computing — with spam, viruses, adware and malware to torture your players with! The sample scenario, “Mr. Bubbles” uses these elements in a wonderful way to create slightly more ‘up-to-date’ Fear and Ignorance.
And the idea of adding an economy is brilliant: the Service Firms add another layer of strife, the Service Services leave GMs a handy way out of the trusted-but-a-little-tired R&D testing runs, and credits allow for a huge clandestine market which allows the Troubleshooters to buy an extra advantage against their fellows.
And the Perversity Points are a nice touch too — encouraging the players to screw around with their peers even more!

The only thing I’m not too sure of, is MemoMax. This technology would transfer memories from one clone to the next in real time. This puts a large burden on sneaky and back-handed attacks: you don’t want your victim to see who fires the deadly shot, or their next clone will have proof of your treason!
Of course, the players know who killed them and why, but it is just the fact that the next clone enters the fray as a relatively clean slate that makes it amusing. A rivalry between players is to be expected (and even encouraged, up to a certain level), but you want to preserve the Fear and Ignorance! Maybe I should ask around on Paranoia XP fora how GMs handle that.

Also, the Mandatory Card Game looks like fun…

Also also, sometimes when people ask me to do something, I answer with: “At your service, citizen!” Most people think I make a feeble attempt of channeling Pim Fortuyn — but nothing could be further from the truth! I just want them to answer with “Thank you, Friend Computer!”, but no-one ever does. I need more RPG-geeks as colleagues.

Didn’t go to the rotational RPG thing. I got ill at work (sweating profusely, throbbing headache and feeling like I might throw up within the next five minutes or so). I tried to ride it out until 17:00, so that I could justify going after all, but at 16:40 I just gave up and went home.

I’m feeling slightly better, but in no form or shape to go there and socialise with other nerds. Oh well, there’s always three months later.

Rotational RPG

It works like this: GMs advertise their scenarios/campaigns, and players apply to join. Six bi-weekly sessions to wrap up the scenario, and then another choice of RPGs. All local (or semi-local) players.

I’m so there tomorrow to check it out.

RPG musings

In Antwerp, I bought the Secret of Zir’An RPG core book. It looked interesting: a mix of fantasy and technology — it advertises itself as ‘the future of fantasy’ — while not as bound to a certain time period like Castle Falkenstein.

But I’ll probably never play it — where would I find the players who are interested in and committed to a campaign? Wouldn’t it be great if I had a pool of local RPG players who would be willing to, say, attend a session ever two weeks on a wednesdag evening?

Via goldfired

RPG quiz-type of thing

RPG stuff

While browsing, I came across an (unofficial) Final Fantasy RPG. Might be a good candidate for running a geekfestnl RPG session, but it is quite mechanistic, and I’m not sure I want to inflict that on first-time players. Heck, I don’t want to inflict it on myself.
Also, it is probably a bad thing if your players know more about the style of a game than you do — so it’s unlikely that I will use that particular one.

There is, of course, the old RoleMaster 2nd edition standby, which is quite easy on the players (with pre-generated characters) and which I know inside-and-out (well, the relevant bits anyway). It also comes with a Tolkien-like (or, if you have the old Middle Earth modules, genuine Tolkien) world-view, which is easy for lovers of fantasy to slip into.
That might actually be my safest bet — I could concentrate on the story aspects and not on the rules.

That being said, something more rules-light might be even better suited, so as not to confuse the players with too much rules and stats and numbers. FUDGE might be that rules-light system, but there is also the exceedingly simple system from Over the Edge — but perhaps that has a too coarse granularity to be of much use.

Maybe I should check out chadu‘s PDQ system which he uses in his own projects. It sounds cool, and it might be a bit easier than FUDGE to use in a descriptive manner.

Paranoia

In between the install sessions on ingiechan‘s new machine, I started reading Paranoia XP. It’s hilarious, as any Paranoia rulebook should be.
The system has been very nicely updated, and has some great GM advice (which is, sadly, rated UltraViolet and thus off-limits to players).

Damn, I want to run something again.