Thursday, January 29, 2009

Co-GMing

As I've mentioned, Angela and I are planning on jointly running a game. We've both been part of GM teams in LARPs, but neither of us has done this in a tabletop setting. In some ways, I expect this will be easier. Communication should be simple, since we'll both be around the same table. That said, I'm wary of pitfalls such as inconsistencies in rulings and such.

If anyone has any suggestions, tips, or warnings... well... we'd be grateful for them.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let Google create your NPCs

Over the weekend, Angela and I were working on developing our Woodstock game. We had some NPCs that we knew needed to exist, but neither of us had any immediate ideas for details to flesh them out.

Then, suddenly inspired, I fired up Googlism. This is a tool that lets you enter a name and spit out random facts associated with that name by Google. So, for example, let's say you have a policeman NPC named Simon that you want some details on. Googlism will give you:

simon is the best or the happy prozzak page
simon is being transformed ?
simon is back
simon is worthy of your vote
simon is named nlrb deputy
simon is hypocrital at
simon is surprisingly strong
simon is a god
simon is fighting for his life
simon is a
simon is threatening to
simon is
simon is a game
simon is smudge's brother
simon is in the room
simon is still at play
simon is ill
simon is easy
simon is new president of associated students of cuesta
simon is geboren deel twee
simon is geboren
simon is not like austin powers
simon is like austin powers
simon is one of
simon is funny
simon is blessed and hand the cross back to
simon is journalist
simon is a happy boy
simon is laying hands on this indian man for
simon is a doofus candidate
simon is '98 commencement speaker at centenary
simon is missing in a layer of the abyss
simon is terug
simon is the gladiator
simon is being transformed ? june 2002
simon is back ag russell continues to impress me
simon is back post a comment name
simon is worthy of your vote derrick j
simon is named nlrb deputy regional attorney in indianapolis
simon is at 35%
simon is hypocrital at times
simon is a god look
simon is much more than a flatmate
simon is enough of a kitten that his purrsonality
simon is still hot
simon is a rock band and you're not
simon is a killer on the loose
simon is not a well teddy
simon is here
simon is home
simon is new president of associated students of cuesta college
simon is a regular participant
simon is not like
simon is like
simon is one of the leaders of a young group of bulldogs looking to move to the forefront of the wac
simon is so simple and so small in fact that it could be built to fill up less space than a grocery
simon is still searching for an nba
simon is a very simple electronic game
simon is quick with his jab
simon is a megamillionaire
simon is not only a talented singer
simon is moved away from outside the bowers museum where
simon is gone
simon is on cue
simon is closer to god or simon has to rise above the rest of the world
simon is blessed and hand the cross back to jesus
simon is our first dog
simon is clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the george washington university in washington
simon is kimberly
simon is not a walrus
simon is amazed he could dance on stilts like stickney
simon is a guy who just has too much time on his hands and chooses to spend it bothering people through the mail
simon is laying hands on this man for healing
simon is modular and is flexible to configure
simon is the creator of "every icon
simon is 18
simon is the author of over 200 highly acclaimed science books
simon is" google search bandwagon
simon is a sophisticated multipurpose simulator for single
simon is even stronger and more featured filled than before
simon is located on the west bank of the lac
simon is the wise colleague who needs to be on every curriculum committee
simon is not so bad
simon is president of monitor group china ltd
simon is a free swinger who walked just 15 times in 256 at
simon is not a politician ? yet ? not even a citizen
simon is a conservative whose family
simon is characterized by acoustic and south american influenced reworks of many of his pre
simon is ‘the performer
simon is shot
simon is told that jack has been put in charge of the website and simon is in charge of the genetic research
simon is now
simon is er niet meer op woensdag 14 november 2001 is hij gestorven aan een maagkanteling
simon is a successful nebraska businessman with a strong record of creating jobs in the community
simon is wealthy
simon is a character actor with extensive experience across the whole spectrum of the industry
simon is back in chalk drawing land and is talking to the chalk land children about cars but they have never seen what a
simon is approached by the train driver who wants simon to extend the railway track
simon is a great composer in ambient/dub music too
simon is centenary college's commencement speaker on saturday
simon is more than just accommodation
Now, a lot of this is meaningless junk... but you can go through it and pull things out that aren't... and try to make sense of some of the things that are. For example:

simon is back
(where was he? we'll find out...)
simon is worthy of your vote
(he's running for office. maybe sheriff?)
simon is hypocrital at
(sure. he can be a hypocrite.)
simon is surprisingly strong
(that's fine. He's sort of lean looking, but wiry)
simon is smudge's brother
(his brother has a nickname. maybe his brother is a stoner who he covers up for? making him a hypocrite...)
simon is easy
(ummm... why not?)
simon is funny
simon is journalist
(he writes a humorous column for a local paper... or maybe the police newsletter?)
simon is a doofus candidate
(he's not really qualified for sheriff)
simon is at 35%
(that's the percentage of the vote he'll get)
simon is a killer on the loose
(he killed someone in the line of duty. it still haunts him and he thinks of himself as a murderer some nights)
simon is not a walrus
('Walrus' is departmental slang for overweight cops with shaggy facial hair. In Simon's department, there are a few of them)
simon is a conservative whose family
simon is wealthy
(He's from a wealthy, conservative family. OK.)

Now we have some details, not just about Simon, but about how he fits into the police station and his community.

Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Waiting for Harry

I've mentioned that Angela and I are going to be running a campaign now that her D&D game is over. The new game will be a modern-occult-investigation thing. Our inspirations include Hellboy, The X-Files, and Men In Black, among some other things. We have a ton of setting information already worked out. We'll be using a set of rules heavily based on FATE as developed for Spirit of the Century. It should be good.

The only thing that would make it better? If the Dresden Files RPG were available. For those that don't know, this is the RPG based on the Harry Dresden novels (which also spawned a TV show on Sci-Fi). The world is noir-ish, modern urban fantasy. The flavor is very similar to what we're shooting for. Also, it uses a version of the FATE system updated for that setting. It should be great. The game has been a long time coming. Evil Hat (the publishers, who also made Spirit of the Century and Don't Rest Your Head) are making sure they are getting it right. I appreciate that. I just wish I had it in my hands now. . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Five reasons why the Nobilis gam I am playing in is awesome

In Nobilis:
  1. My boss is an angel who wears robes with kitschy slogans on them. He is master of those things in the depths from beyond creation, laments the loss of his giant squid, and is responsible for creating Deep Ones.
  2. We pray to Google for information.
  3. My PC walks around with one of the most powerful weapons in the game (a sword from outside creation). He almost never bothers to use it and no one notices that he has it.
  4. One half of one of the PCs has a flirtation going on with Cain, who we freed from Hell (in exchange for OJ Simpson). Also, Cain might be an alien... sort of.
  5. Currently, our PCs are in Faerie, rescuing a teenaged boy (who happens to be one of our peers) from his own libido.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All good campaigns must come to an end. . .

On Sunday, Angela's campaign came to a conclusion. I didn't really expect it. Neither did she. I knew we were coming close, but I thought we'd have another 2-3 sessions. Fortunately, the ending was a good one. Here's why:
  • It involved major antagonists. Our last combat was actually against Malik, the wizard who cursed the PCs in the first session, starting off the campaign. He'd ordered us killed later on, and had been sequestered in a cave trying to free a mad god from the statue in which it was trapped. There was a race against time to find him and defeat him without actually coming into contact with the statue.
  • It involved paying back a patron in a big way. The early part of the campaign took place in a fairly bucolic, Shire-like area. It was protected by the world's oldest dragon, a Great Wyrm Bronze called The Mabon. The Mabon was going senile, but he served as an ally and a source of (spotty) historical knowledge for the PCs. In the last session, we found he had gone North to die. We gave him another option.
  • The answer was before us all along. The campaign's plot was a bit twisty. Essentially, 3,000 years ago, the archmage Mitra saved the world from an impending deluge by severing a link between the plane and the elemental plane of water. Unfortunately, the flood, and the link, was necessary to the plane's survival. In severing the link he had killed Tra, the plane's sun god (there was some treachery by other gods involved in this) and doomed the plane to crash into Mechanus. Mitra had been cursed with vampirism by Tra. We enlisted Mitra's help to undo what he'd done. He needed to retether the plane, but to do this, he needed a candidate for sun god who was capable of performing an arcane ritual that most archmages couldn't handle. He didn't want to do it himself (and had another part he needed to play in the ritual anyway). We'd spent time trying to find someone to do it. In the last session, we thought of The Mabon. In doing so, we saved him from death and he became a god.
  • It preserved the feel of the campaign. We generally solved problems through diversion and trickery. Our last challenge of the campaign came when Dawn's Wrath, the planar vampire-hunting organization from which we'd retrieved/stolen Mitra's ritual notes, tried to intervene in the ritual, thinking it would create a vampire-god. We'd framed another vampire, Trebonius, for the theft, so they thought that they were coming to stop him (and not the FAR more powerful Mitra). We got warning that they were coming through the portal from Sigil. Our side of the portal was located in a lich's lair. The lich, Dobriel, was gone at this point, but he was a collector of reptillian monsters. We blocked off the side door, so Dawn's Wrath had to go through the monster collection. Then, once they made it through, we mocked them heartily. First, we pointed out that a Bronze Dragon (not a vampire) was ascending. This cut down on their motivation. Then we pointed out that they hadn't done their research... that it was Mitra, and not Trebonius who was involved. This meant that they wouldn't survive if they continued. Then, we pointed out that Mitra was already a god anyway (something we'd figured out... he wasn't fully aware of it himself as far as we could tell). I tossed them a geode (portal key) and suggested they go back to Sigil.
  • It referenced many of our earlier adventures. In addition to the above, we heard about what was going on with the gnomes (who'd we'd clashed with), the bee-people of Death Island, and the Wayfarer's Guild (an early antagonist-turned-quasi-ally).
  • After the game, we had a question and answer session. I found out that The Mabon's well-dressed ogre majordomo was a reincarnated dragon. We learned the gritty details of the plan of the gods who had turned on Tra and used Mitra as an unwitting assassin. We learned the details of Malik's plan and why he really wanted to free the mad god from his curse. We speculated about what our PCs might do in the aftermath of the campaign (we were offered jobs as champions of The Mabon). This sort of decompression is, I think, important.
Now, Angela and I need to finish planning the campaign we're planning to co-GM (a modern fantasy game powered by FATE).

Friday, January 16, 2009

How to start a secret invasion-thing

I saw a bit of John Carpenter's The Thing last night. My favorite parts of the movie are the tensions that build up around people not knowing if their companions are impostors or not. I thought (because I'm a geek) about how to accomplish this in a RPG. It would be tricky.

My best suggestion (which wouldn't work with certain players) would be to wait until one of the PCs died or one of the players was interested in switching characters (and arrange a death scene). When the character dies, have it revealed to have been an impostor (perhaps its appearance shifts to that of a doppleganger/skrull/weird-protoplasmic-thing/whatever). Make sure the player acts surprised.

Suddenly, the other players don't even know if they are impostors...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some thoughts on moral perception and nonhuman races

Human moral psychology is weird.

In a game, most of us don't think twice about killing enemies in the moment. It doesn't really matter what that moment is, as long as it includes some danger (not necessarily to your PC) and/or urgency. On the other hand, if things are calmer (say, the enemies are captives, being reasonable and talkative, or are at home with their families), most of us feel at least some moral qualms about having our PCs kill them.

We might have empathy for them. We might feel badly for their family. We might feel responsible for them.

Are these things less justified in the heat of the moment? It isn't as if the person has less of a family. . . it is just less relevant to the situation in which you are seeing them. If you run into their family later, you'll probably feel some remorse or responsibility.

How might we characterize these moral inclinations? Humans see things relevant to the situation they are in. If an enemy is fighting them, they see it as a thing to be fought. If an enemy is a captive, they see it as something under their control. If an enemy is with its family, they see it as... well... a family member. If an enemy is interacting with them peaceably, they see it as a person. That's not to say that these things are mutually exclusive. You might still see your enemy as a thing you need to fight even when it is with its children, but you'll also see it as a parent. Also, strong beliefs a person possesses are going to be relevant across most situations.

This is all natural, but it is, arguably, a bit irrational. It is human nature. . . but is it elf nature? What about dwarf nature or orc nature? Sometimes, people complain that nonhuman characters are merely humans with funny ears. What if they have different ways in which they tend to look at situations morally? The treatment of enemies is only an example, but it isn't necessarily a bad one.

Here are a few possible variant (somewhat alien) inclinations that don't involve pure pacifism:
  • One always has responsibility for ones enemies. Death should come painlessly. The enemy should be given time to put affairs in order if he or she so chooses. If an enemy chooses you without warning, it is right to assume they have properly planned for their death. Enemies are never empathized with - to be an enemy is to be one with whom empathy is impossible. If you attack an enemy without warning - and fail to provide time for them to put affairs in order - you are responsible for their debts and responsibilities (including their family). This might be a good choice for long-lived or honor-bound races.
alternately:
  • Empathy, for you, is something that can be consciously turned off. One who has declared himself or herself to be your enemy (by word or action) has given you leave to abandon all empathy. Showing empathy to such an enemy is a sign of disrespect - a failure to take their enmity seriously. If you are the agressor, however, it is wrong to block your empathy for victims who have not declared themselves to be you enemies (though you should not expect it returned). This might be a good choice for fae-like races.
or (taking a version of the human view to an extreme):
  • You live in the moment. You do not judge others to be enemies. Sometimes you must fight. When you fight, you show no quarter or mercy. When you fight, you kill. That is what happens. If someone treats with you peaceably, you return the favor. That you tried to kill them an hour ago may not be relevant to your interaction with them now. You don't forget or forgive transgressions, but you treat interactions as separate. If you kill people who happen to be the parents of children, you won't spontaneously feel responsibility for the children... but if someone impresses that responsibility upon you, you may well feel it. This might be a good choice for short-lived or animalistic races.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Urban fantasy and collaborative world-building

In honor of Jenn starting her Exalted campaign up again, I'm going to revisit something Exalted-related that was once near and dear to my heart: The Exalted Wiki. I'm not talking about the one that White Wolf launched, but rather the earlier one that was fan-created. A number of authors and artists for the Exalted line actively participated in it. I was, for a while, a very active contributor. I lost my momentum right around the time that Exalted Second Edition came out.

One might see an parallel between that and the manner in which I mostly stopped posting d20 rules-things on this blog around the time 4e was released.

(The wiki eventually made the transition to 2e, and it is still active.)

Anyway, the Exalted wiki has a ton of stuff on it. I encourage you to take a look, even if you don't play Exalted. You doubt me? I suppose I will have to give you an example of one thing that I think is awesome and generally useful.

The city of Nexus is the down-and-dirty city that stands at the spiritual center of Exalted's setting. It is an anything-goes metropolis in the spirit of Greyhawk, Lankhmar, and Sigil. The Exalted books give a decent overview of the place, but what you really need to run a game in a city are details: shops, taverns, people you meet on the street, customs, and slang. That's the sort of thing that gaming books rarely give you. It is also the sort of thing that a distributed network of people with different interests and viewpoints excell at creating. Thus was born The Nexus Project. The Nexus Project is an attempt to flesh out some of the details of an insane metropolis in a world full of magic and spirits. It is almost all fluff, and little of it is intrinsically tied to Exalted's setting (though much of it is grounded in it). Take a look around. I'm sure that you'll find something useful in it that you can fit into just about any fantasy city.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Boredom and Undeath

Yesterday, Angela and I went out for brunch and had a chat about the undead. In her game, a minor theme that's continually crept up has been that undeath is boring. A necromancer had a recreation room for his ghouls (kept in a portable hole, which we stole... filled with ghouls. Yes... the same portable hole that now has an iron golem in it.). Liches and other intelligent/magic-using undead subscribe to a newsletter (which we refer to as Undead Home and Gardens).

It makes sense. If you are undead, you probably don't have a lot of friends. You probably don't actually sleep. You don't even have the ambient noise of your own heartbeat and breathing. Depending upon what, exactly, you are, you probably don't need any sort of sustenance... if you sit down in the corner and don't move, you'll just keep existing forever. . .

My thought?

Maybe intelligent undead aren't necessarily evil... they are just really bored - often to the point of insanity.

So, I posited some slightly-alternate motivations for intelligent undead:

Ghouls: They aren't really hungry. In fact, they can't normally smell or taste anything, but they can eat. . . and when they eat the tongues and brains of living things, they gain the ability to smell and taste like their victims could. Naturally, they prefer to taste things like they did when alive. . . and they have a tendency to get addicted to such things. They will cunningly eat something with a good sense of smell in order to track down their preferred meals.

Vampires: They can't normally sleep during the day. Instead, they involuntarily enter a numb, paralyzed state in which they are fully conscious. They don't actually need blood to survive, but drinking it allows them to sleep. It isn't as if they really have to kill anyone, either. . . and the value of being able to sleep for a day instead of staring at the same few inches of coffin lid is incalculable.

At this point, our conversation turned to mummies... and we began talking about how different the D&D/fantasy stereotype mummy is from Egyptian beliefs about mummies and the afterlife. That is a topic for another post, but I must ask you all about mummy rot. Don't mummies specifically, you know, not rot? Is there some sort of conservation of rot principle that allows the mummy to transfer its rot to others?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dungeon map doodle

As I've mentioned before, I have an arguably bad habit of doodling while gaming. I fidget. It gives my hands something to do. During Thusday night's Exalted game, I decided I would doodle dungeon maps. Here's one:


I obviously played with it in Photoshop. I think it turned out decently, though.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cave maps

The other day I was, as I often am, doodling. This time, though, I thought I'd turn my doodle into a map of a cave system.

A problem quickly developed. I wanted vertical tubes connecting small areas. I wanted those tubes to be interesting - have cutbacks and ledges and such. In order to do this on paper, I'd need many, many sublevels... and side-views from a variety of angles.

What are alternatives for mapping this sort of thing? I thought about a 3D program (like Google Sketchup)... but that has a learning curve. I also thought about using wire or (even better) thin metal tubing to create a 3D model in realspace. Any other thoughts?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

RPG minigames

As I've mentioned, I have been playing Fallout 3 a lot lately.

One thing I haven't mentioned is that I really like one of the minigames in it. For those who don't know, in videogames a minigame is a small, relatively simple game contained within a larger one. It usually focuses on a subsystem within the game, and is often puzzle-like.

Fallout 3 has two primary minigames. The first is to represent lockpicking. It isn't that exciting. It is a visual representation of a lock into which you insert a bobby pin. You move the pin back and forth to find the sweet spot (the size of which depends on your lockpicking skill and the lock's difficulty). Ideally, you do this without breaking too many bobby pins first.

The second minigame is the fun one. It is a logic puzzle used to represent breaking into a computer system. You get a monitor full of gibberish out of which you try to pick the admin password. There are a bunch of words in there. You get four attempts to get the right one. If you guess wrong, it will tell you how many of the characters in the word you picked were in the right place. You can also look for particular character strings that will remove some wrong words or replenish your attempts.

What works about this? Well, first, it is a logic puzzle - and I like those. It also does a decent job of thematically representing computer cracking - and uses skills that aren't wholly unrelated to it.

I see a lot of minigames in video games. Some are done well. Many aren't.

What I haven't seen are a lot of minigames being used by GMs in tabletop RPGs. I could see minigames being used in a variety of places - to replace things that might be drudgery such as (depending on your players) mapping out a labyrinth or bargaining with a merchant or to replace things that are normally decided by a die roll, but to which you might want to add a bit of extra tension such as disarming traps.

If you do this, I'd make two suggestions: (1) tie the nature of the minigame to the task it represents and (2) don't divorce the minigame from the PCs' abilities. As an example, I could see using a Jenga minigame to represent disarming a trap. In a d20 game, I might say that the pulls from the tower take the place of a d20 roll with each pull that occurs before the tower falls adding one to the player's disable device total. Another example? You want to see how accurate a map of the dungeon the PCs can come up with after having run through it quickly? Deal out 10 or so (possibly depending upon an appropriate intelligence-type check) playing cards face up, then quickly flip them over one by one. Have the players arrange them in numerical order from highest to lowest without peeking (based on their brief glimpse). Look at the order they put them in, but don't show it to the players. Now draw the map with one error for each out of place card and hand it over to them.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Evolution and creationism in fantasy

Where do monsters come from?

Many people won't care. Monsters are. Perhaps they should not be (and the PCs are dedicated to fixing the situation).

If you are running a particular sort of game - or designing your own setting - asking where the diversity of monsters comes from can be useful. Popular debates in our own world give us two obvious answers: evolution and creationism.

Evolution at first appears tricky for a fantasy world. Why do dragons have six limbs, but wyverns only four? How do we explain creatures that mix bits from different animal types, such as griffons or chimera?

Creationism appears to be the obvious choice, particularly for settings in which their are active gods. One problem with this, though, is that it can be difficult to come up with reasons for gods to have created some fairly strange things. This often leads to all sorts of niche gods, which some people don't like.

Fantasy worlds aren't limited to these two simple choices. There are, at the very least, variations on them. Evolution requires mutation - which can be generated via magical as well as natural effects. Chaos magic zones could create new, strange strands of a species. What happens to the fetus when a pregnant lion is turned into a sparrow by a wizard? What if it is turned back? What about magical breeding experiments?

Similarly, creationism requires creation, but it need not be from a divine source. What if powerful wizards can create life? You might not want a ton of crazy creator gods in your pantheon, but ancient, insane wizards might be another story.

There are also other options. Crossbreeding may well work differently in your world than it does in the actual one. Maybe a lion and an eagle can mate, and the result is a griffon. Perhaps the laws of sympathetic magic dictate that monsters are born to natural animals under certain conditions - a chicken egg incubated by a toad might hatch a cockatrice, for example. Planar migration is another possibility - many monsters might not be native to the world.

Is there a benefit to thinking about such things?

There can be. Knowing the origins of monsters can help you to come up with some interesting plot hooks or background/historical lore for your PCs to discover. Really, though, I just enjoy figuring this sort of thing out...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Making Magic Mysterious

I finally began reading the Black Company novels recently. I'm still early in them, so - while I'll say that I'm enjoying them so far - this isn't a review.

One minor thing I noticed is that the wizards of middling power who are part of the Black Company often use magic to produce horrors. These might be swarms of beasties that surge from underneath a table in a tavern... or tentacles looming from dark mists... or whatever. As far as I can tell, these are all illusions.

The operative phrase there is, "as far as I can tell." The narrator, so far, hasn't identified these as illusions or tested their reality. He just reports on what he sees. He certainly doesn't say, "...and then One-Eye cast Silent Image generating an illusion of a great, hairy arm reaching in through the window to grab at the barkeep, narrowly missing." Instead, he'd say something like, "One-Eye cackled at the barkeep and a great, hairy arm reached in through the window. The barkeep goggled and stumbled out of the arms way."

The difference here is important. The other characters (and the reader) aren't sure of the reality of the arm - or the wizard's power. To me, the application to RPGs is obvious: if you're playing a wizard-type character, you can get a similar effect by not telling the other players what spells you are casting. Instead, pass the GM a note and describe the spells effects.

What's cooler?

"I begin casting a spell, then glance at the doorway, eyes wide as an ogre grunts and crams his way through it," or "I cast Minor Image and an ogre appears to walk in through the doorway."

This isn't limited to just illusions, either. When you name a spell, it can lose some of its mystique (particularly if it is known to all the players). Instead of casting Burning Hands, which people might see as, 'that wimpy first level spell,' describe the effect of a sheet of flame bursting forth. People will tend to be more impressed.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Let me tell you about my characters... now

It has been a year and a half since I've done this. I think that's reasonable.

1) The only character I'm still actively playing on that list is Bart. Back then, I wrote:
Sunday, Angela's D&D Game: Bart Fliegenbart, Dwarven Chef (Rogue 2/Ranger 2)

Bart has become the de facto group leader... of a group of misfits. I enjoy playing him quite a bit. I knew that Angela would go into excruciating detail when describing flora and fauna, so I built a character who would care about that sort of thing... because he will probably want to eat it. The character is incredibly non-optimized for anything other than cooking (his feats include Skill Focus-Cooking and Negotiator), but - with two weapon fighting and sneak attack - he's still one of the more effective hand-to-hand combatants in the group.
Now? He's still a Dwarven chef (he keeps large amounts of cooking equipment in a portable hole). Classwise he's Rogue 3/Ranger 2/Duskblade 3/Abjurant Champion 3 (I think). He's still far from optimized (though between dual wielding, sneak attacks, and spell channelling he can occasionally deal a good bit of damage) - and he primarily depends on cleverness to solve problems.

2) Monday, Dwight's Morrow Project game using Storytelling/nWoD rules:

I'm playing Donald Carter, jerk. He's a social guy... an academic slacker who hooked up with the Project thinking it would be an easy way to get rich. He actually means well, but is so naturally manipulative that he tends to engender a bit of distrust among those who know him really well. He's turned into the group's tactician, which works well with his manipulative tendencies. He tends to have a bit of a nastier edge to his plans than Bart does, so the two manage to be pretty different. Also, he really likes force multipliers.

3) Tuesday, Jason's Nobilis game:

Comus, Lord of Misrule, Viscount of Masks. Comus is a spirit of controlled chaos, split between the dual aspects of celebration and ceremony, disorder and decorum. He serves an arguably insane angel alongside his familias: the Marquis of Discovery and the Duchess of the Subconscious. The game is weird, but a total blast. It can be hard for me to get into Comus' head sometimes since he's ultimately inhuman. His goals largely center around making the world more interesting by hiding or judiciously revealing secret knowledge.

4) Sundays (occasional), Mike's 3.5 game:

Spiridon Ganelinsadova, Gnomish Beguiler who was raised in a traveling caravan and then trained to be an adventurer by a dwarven wizard. I've only played him once, so we'll see. I really like beguilers. Spiridon has a lot of ideas about what it means to be an adventurer. Most of these are fairly naive. Angela's playing a Gnome warlock from the same caravan. We decided to use Greek-influenced Russian naming conventions for Gnomes. I'm not sure why.

6) Thursdays (alternating) Jenn's Exalted game:

Jenn is going to begin running her Exalted game again, which means I get to play Akadan Red Oak again. Red began as a plucky teenage stowaway from the Realm. Then he saw his friend killed by the Wild Hunt and killed one of the Dragonbloods responsible... then he sold his innocence to one of the Fair Folk (he was a teenager - he didn't think he had any innocence)... and might have fallen in love with a Dragonblood who has returned to the Realm to be abused and used as a political pawn. Character-wise, he's a blast. I need to do something about making him more effective in combat, though.