Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not-Roundup #4 -- Also, Changeling-Stylez.

So, haven't played much of anything for the past couple of weeks apart from Spiral Knights and Portal 2. I have a couple of larger projects in the works for this blog, both of which I've mentioned here and there, so we'll see if any of those actually get done.

In the meantime, I will post instead: The Kingdoms and basic synopsis for the Theoretical Changeling: The Lost game I've been considering and considering:

Players are all Changeling-types who live in a place of a Thousand-Thousand Kingdoms, all embodying some sort of idea. Seven of the Kingdoms are available to players, as they tend to be clustered in groups of seven neighbors, even though they don't all get along. For purposes of meshing with Changeling, the Kingdoms are all located in what is more-or-less the Hedge, with Arcadia, or Avalon, as an adjunct realm, and The Kingdom Right Proper, or the mortal world, on the other side. Belonging to a Kingdom will be more-or-less analogous to belonging to a Court in the Changeling rules.

More or less Below the Kingdoms are the Shadowcities, which are reflections of things in the Many Kingdoms, and in the Kingdoms right Proper, though among its many other differences, Arcadia casts no shadow.

The Adjacent Kingdoms:

The Kingdom of Thieves -- inhabited by sneak-thieves, traps rogues, confidence men, gamblers, ragpickers, safe-crackers, card sharps, Marks who've been conned into living there, and assassins. They are exactly what you expect, for the most part, and when talking to Marks they call their Kingdom Innisfreigh. They are best aligned with the Kingdoms of Masks and Manikins, are neutral with the Kingdoms of Mendicants and Wrights, and don't get on at all with the Kingdoms of Knightly Vows and Locks and Eyes.

The Kingdom of Masks -- Also known as the kingdom of Artifice, the Masks are liars, actors, dramatists, dancers, puppeteers, stage-duellists, quick-change comedians, tightrope walkers and acrobats. They are best at seeing things that are hidden, and understand lies better than truths. They get on fairly well with the Kingdom of Thieves and the Kingdom of Mendicants, they do frequent business with the Kingdoms of Manikins, somewhat less with that of the Anvils, and are violently opposed to the Kingdom of Knightly Vows and to a slightly lesser degree, the Kingdom of Locks and Eyes.

The Kingdom of Knightly Vows-- also known as the Kingdom of True-Spoken words. The Knights are Chivalric lords, paladins, champions, honest courtiers, statesmen, judges, keepers of records, poets, and idealists. They represent the perfect ideal of a Kingdom of Paragons, and deal fairly with those about them. They mislike deceit, save in service to an oath. As one might imagine, this puts them at odds with the Masks and the Thieves, and aligns them just fine with the Watchmen and the Mendicants. They have a great deal more use for the craftsmen in service to the Anvil than the makers of Manikins, but don't seriously object to either.

The Kingdom of the Anvil-- Also known as the Wrights, these are largely craftsmen, smiths in metals and workers in wood and stone. They build things for use-- they are carpenters and tinsmiths and blacksmiths and architects, makers of tools and builders of castles, miners and lumberjacks, sculptors and shapers of clay. They are very workmanlike and dream on grand scales. They are kin with the Kingdom of Manikins, though they consider them less useful than they. They have no real alliances or enemies, though they frequently receive custom from the Watchmen, the Knights, and the Thieves. Though in the case of the latter, they always check their purses after. They have little use for the Mendicants.

The Kingdom of Manikins-- Inhabited by makers of little crafts and clockworks, they shape things into man-shapes. They are scientists and theoreticians, inventors of gadgets, locksmiths, clothiers, dollmakers and toymakers, builders of simulacra, alchemists, witches, scroungers and carvers in wood and stone, they make idols and fetishes of straw, feather, and clay, the latter medium they share with their siblings of the Anvil. Like the Anvils, they have no real alliances or enemies, though they have a particular friendship with the Ragpickers of the Thieves. They welcome the patronage of the Kingdom of Masks and betimes the Mendicants, welcome the protection of the Watchmen, and are generally ignored by the Knights.

The Kingdom of Locks and Eyes-- Those who dwell here are called the Watchmen, and they are the vigilant protectors of the Kingdoms at large. They are spies and police officers, private investigators, clerks, builders of traps, marching soldiers and honest guardsmen, vigilantes, seekers of security, builders of walls, commanders of fortresses, and other seekers of justice. They are very good at ferreting out wrongdoing and, as one might imagine, are fundamentally opposed to the Kingdom of Thieves. Their best allies are the Knights, and they tend to offer their services to the Mendicants, the Kingdom of Manikins, and the Wrights, though in the latter case it is largely in trade. They don't really get the Masks, and as such, do not trust them at all.

The Kingdom of Mendicants-- Also known as the Kingdom of Seven Tongues, it is a Kingdom of superstition, myth, and many, many temples. Here might be found supplicants, pilgrims, lay brothers and sisters of a number of Orders from every Kingdom, oracles, tellers of fortunes, mystics, readers of cards, casters of runes, bishops and cardinals, acetic monks, vestal virgins, sacred prostitutes, storytellers, lore-keepers, dervishes, Ecstatics, revivalists, and other worshippers of one god, faith, tradition, superstition, word, or another. They are also the keepers of what little Lore which belongs to the Kingdoms alone, the Rules of Other Worlds, of which there are Seven. Every Kingdom has something to serve here, and something that makes them a bit uncomfortable. They frequently operate on gifts and offerings, which is pretty much all right with everyone but the servants of the Anvil, who trend against superstition, and dislike parting with the work of their hands except to receive coin.

The Kingdom of Shadows-- Beneath all of the Realms except Arcadia, where the Faeries live, there lie Shadowcities. That said, the people of the Kingdoms do not themselves cast shadows, by and large, when light is shone upon them. Only mortals cast shadows. In the Kingdoms, Shadows dwell in their cities when their light-halves in the mortal world are asleep, or away from light. There are ways to sever a Shadow from its light-half as well, but this "freedom" for the Shadow often leads to other, more unfortunate vulnerabilities. In many kingdoms, severed Shadows are kept as indentured servants.

Arcadia, where the faeries live-- The term fey or Faerie in the Kingdoms refer only to what in the Changeling rules are called 'True Fae'. These beings dwell in Arcadia, by and large, although they frequently come into the Kingdoms for revels, or to conduct business, or whatever other reason takes their fancy. They are ruled by one queen with two faces, called Mab on the dark side and Titania on the light side. She has seven daughters, seven sons, and any number of consorts.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Session Roundup #11

Now it is time to see if Das Kainenchen actually remembers what all she's played over the past er... two weeks? The main contenders are Mage: The Awakening, Eclipse, Spiral Knights, and Portal 2, the co-op in particular.

Thursday: Mage, "No Justice like Mob Justice." -- Good session... our crazy Russian Obrimos fell into a trap set by Banishers, traded some gunfire, and wound up calling the rest of us in to help check it out. We're still all getting used to this whole Being Mages thing, but I got to use quite a lot of my awesome mind magic, so that was cool and wicked for me. Last session, we had some complications with in-character conflict, and issues what arise when premise threat actually seems like the natural thing to do-- for example, when you've all just awakened, and you're not all sure how much of the "I've got powers now" people ought to buy into. Fortunately, it got worked out, so that was good.

Eclipse-- A very odd event for Eclipse; the combat was problematic and filled with safety/rules calls, but the political plot, especially for the Aliens (non-humans) was really good. Now, if only the Imperials (my culture) could find a way out of the various kinds (some of it self-induced) of bitchery we're all embroiled in...

...Which leads me to think about politics in LARPs, and how to keep the pressure on. It's really easy to have the goals be either too nebulous and disconnected with the local matters (hey, there's this political hoo-ha on some other planet that you might care about, except that it doesn't have anything to do with anything that will ever be on screen) or too huge (OMG, the Empire is collapsing). I am not yet sure what the solution is, except to mention that keeping the overall scale small is probably a good time. That is to say-- dozens of worlds, not hundreds, and certainly not We-Lose-Billions-In-A-Rounding-Error.

That all said, I had a lot of fun, and fought much better than I was afraid I would, after 3 months of being a lazy ass.

Spiral Knights: Episode One in Games To Play With the Boyfriend All Together And Stuff! Made by the Puzzle Pirates people (Three Rings); Spiral Knights is somewhere between Gauntlet and Legend of Zelda in gameplay style. You play-- surprise!-- a little cartoon knight running around these clockwork mazes looking for exits, and getting material to craft better gear. In the meantime, you can cut down all the grass and trees. There's hp for monsters, which makes it less Linklike, but dude, health is the familiar little heart icons. Up to 4 players can do a dungeon at once; teams are assigned first-come-first-served, or you can join a friend who has gone down before you. It's a little iffy on how to get like, one chosen person and a couple of extra random people; I am hoping they make this easier in future, because the higher levels SUCK. Also, this is another example of Microtransactions taking over the world-- their mechanic is called Energy, which you need in order to go down more levels, craft items, and resurrect inside a level. Though your buddies can rez you too, with half their own life. Neither Shieldhaven or I have actually spent Real Dollaz on this game yet; we'll see what happens, as we're having quite a lot of fun doing levels together.

Portal 2 (co-op): And here's Episode Two, Throwback Edition? Remember sitting on your couch with your buddies in front of the Nintendo back in the day, playing Contra or (in the N64 days) split-screen Goldeneye? Yeah, that. You play Atlas and P-Body, two robots performing tests at the whim of GLaDOS. The potential for griefing is there, but I think it'd be more tempting in the online, remote version, rather than when you're sitting next to the person you're playing with. And the emotes when you want to celebrate solving part of a test are really cool-- shame that they seriously piss off GLaDOS. And boy, does she do everything in her power to drive a wedge between the players... mostly praising one and shaming the other. Shieldhaven was somewhat unamused by her digs at his little blue robot guy.

Speaking of which, as of this writing, Shieldhaven has beaten the single player game, but I have not. And I'd better do something about that, because he's seriously starting to creep up on my gamerscore. Can't have that now, can we?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Not-Roundup #3

So, having completely failed at everything last Thursday, I am declaring this the Not!Roundup, and I'll resume regular updates on this Thursday. I have a few other projects for this blog that I want to work on too... not least of which is the next three rooms of Three Gates Prison for this project.

In the meantime, I recommend you check out Shieldhaven's second entry in the Dungeon of Three Deceits , and also Random Generators what rock and suck from D&D with Porn Stars. Yes, I am linking this here largely so that I can find it again later.

Oh yes... I wished to draw attention to one other of Haven's posts: The Strength of His Convictions, in which he puts a little more flesh on the psionic bones I maundered over in this post. I am also likely to maunder a bit more about how I want these things to work, and what systems I would base a psionic game on... I am a bit hesitant about using World of Darkness, although it is probably more suited, because I really don't like the way that one starts out at a lower base competency if they've got no dots in a given skill, than, say, in FATE. That is to say, in a modern game, I like to assume that people can do things like turn on a bloody computer and use google without having to go out of their way to spend build on same. I figure skill points should buy you real abilities, like-- I dunno, basic coding, or the ability to know your way around terminal, up to being able to build and maintain databases, program massive banks of servers, script the hell out of AI, or know like, Ternary.

Haven, Stands-in-Fire and I just got back from a LARP this weekend, so the thickness and fury of various design ideas was something to behold. Stay tuned for the off-chance that I am not a lazy ass.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Session Roundup #10

This week is notable for having been privy to the First Ever DtD World Event, and also session 2 of Mage: the Awakening

Saturday: Dust to Dust, Akathians vs. Ghuls-- So, this being the first event where I was, NoShitReally, a member of plot. The... circumstances of my arrival notwithstanding, it was really a lot of fun, and the players seemed to enjoy it quite a lot. We had some rough patches due to this being our first time working together, on the field, as a committee. However, it's really amazing to see something you've been working on for ages finally coming to life, and seeing what plays out as looked in your head, and what doesn't. I think Ritualism is the best example of, "OMG, that's just how it looked in my dream!" What is Ritualism, you ask?

Ritualism is how we do preparatory spellcasting in DtD. You have rituals that give you a number of charges of a given effect, which you can put in your focus. Each ritual has a rune, cost a certain amount of fatigue, and a backlash in case you fail the ritual. When you cast, you and up to 9 of your ritualist buddies pull dominoes (bones) from a bag, and attempt to make the sign of the ritual rune out of legal matches. As a wizard, you only have a certain number of bones you can pull from the bag when you begin the ritual. Fatigue reduces the number of bones that you can pull. So if you are working on a 5 bone ritual with a fatigue of 1, and you have 10 bones you can pull total, you've got 5 bones of leeway for matchmaking, and the next ritual you begin, you can only pull 9 bones total. Neat!

This encourages cooperative casting on one level, but also discourages it, based on how fatigue is divided amongst ritualists, and who actually gets the benefit of the effects. Plus, you have to have the ritual text prop to cast, so the text props are awesome treasure. Yay!

As for the parties themselves, Ghuls are nasty beasts-- horned human-looking dudes with very sharp teeth, who eat people and take their skills and memories. Bad times. a number of the Akathians did, in fact, get munched, including their leader, the Governor. Oops.

Our next event is on May 28th, at Indian Springs Pioneer camp in GA, and pretty much everyone should come, as it looks like it'll be a campover.Fun!

Thursday: Mage: The Awakening-- our Second Mage session, this was the one with the exposition. I think I want to think about this session more before I really post about it in detail, but I will say that picking up a second dot in Fate is def. on the table for things I want to do. Sometime after I go right for the fourth dot in Mind. I am not really familiar with World of Darkness advancement, so I don't know how hard it will be to get to Mind 5, but... omg, Mind 5. So awesome.

Also, I am looking forward to the next session of the game. Everyone's character feels very solid and real, which is unusual for a couple of sessions into a game. I don't think we've all figured out how we'll work with our abilities, and with each other, but that'll probably work itself out. Anyway. My gaming group is cool. And I'll talk more about mage... probably the Thursday after next, when we have our next session.