We visited Italy in ’99, and spent a lot of time with locals muri_san and his wife in Milan. We met a few of their friends, and they took us to Gioca Modena, a games convention. I did my Amber Vikings game, and then we went for a walk around Modena with a very small Italian girl and a dog twice her size. Afterwards, I played in a ‘Four Musketeers’-game of OnStage as the Duke of Buckingham. (Note the ghastly not-quite-short hairdo I had at the time.)

A year later, we visited the sister of the small girl in Wageningen — she had gone there to study, I think. It was the first time we had home-made Tiramisu. There was talk of an RPG campaign, but due to the vaguaries of travel and time, that never got off the ground. I think we saw her one time later, because ingiechan had made her a pair of pants.

And yesterday, I got a mail in broken Dutch from an Italian mail adress. It was an invitation to attend Gioca Modena ’07, because they would also have part of the program in English. Quite a surprise — apparently we are still in the books there!

DM of the Rings

What would happen if you get a group of D&D players together to run them through this awesome fantasy campaign you designed, called ‘Lord of the Rings’?

Let me tell you: hilarity ensues.

This ‘comic’ is consistently funny. If you’re an RPG’er, you must check it out!

Play by VOIP?

Who would be interested in an RPG campaign (probably fantasy, because that’s “easiest”) by SkypeCast (or Gizmo conference call, whatever is easiest/more convenient)? Say, every tuesday, from 19:30 to 21:30?

Ars Magica

Yesterday, we have another session of the Ars Magica game. We had a very good time — it was fun to solve the mystery of the dissapearing sheep, even though we felt (a bit) sad for the poor deluded giant…

I had taken meticulous notes of the first session as well as of the second session – I had planned to write a campaign log from my characters’ perspective, but that takes time. I don’t have much time — or rather, I have more things I want to do than I have time available to do them.
I did write extensive logs of several RPG campaigns, but I never read those back. Most of that stuff is fun to read back within a few weeks’ time for all who were involved, but it’s not like an outsider would appreciate the fun we had while playing it (one of those ‘you had to be there’ things, I guess). As such, writing campaign logs is an activity with surprising little return on investment.

I have decided to keep taking notes but to not write the log.

Ars Magica

I decided to call it quits with respect to the Continuum campaign. Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but after some evaluation on how the campaign was working out I wanted to do something else.
When D. offered to run Ars Magica, the decision was quickly made to try that out. After a few sessions/scenarios we can switch to someone/something else, and get a wide variety of gaming done (at least, that is the theory).

Last thrusday we went to Eindhoven to create characters. Three characters: one grog, one companion and one mage. We never got around to creating the mage (next week thursday is set for that).
We have some great characters so far. My grog is the miller’s servant, a gossipy young lad who has trouble walking. My companion is the covenant’s blacksmith, who would rather be an ‘artiste’ than mending kettles. And I also have a great idea for the mage…
I’m really excited to play.

Also, for those intending to play along at home, Ars Magica 4th edition (which is what we will be using) is downloadable for free over here.

Wuxia‘ is the term used to describe over-the-top martial arts fantasy movies, set in some distant, vaguely Chinese past, where Kung Fu clans battle for supremacy and against the evil Manchurian oppressors.

There are two things important in the Wuxia genre: speed versus strength and concentration.
Speed versus strength means that you can either strike many times within a single combat action, or strike only once with much more force.
Concentration means that, if the character concentrates prior to battle, he can achieve much better results.

I propose an unholy union between Shadowrun 1st edition, Amber DRPG and Swords of the Middle Kingdom, to get a fast, light-weight system that supports this mode of play.

Only interesting if you're into RPG design, really

OK, so that was horribly written, and probably has all sorts of loose ends. Still, I think it has some sort of potential. Taking the good things out of all the RPGs available to you and making your own out of those fragments is fun. 🙂

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.