Friday, February 27, 2009

FLGS: Armored Gopher Games

Last night I decided to check out the new location of one of my local game stores, Armored Gopher Games. They relocated about a month ago from a conveniently-located, but too-small store to a much larger space on the other side of town.

Even knowing where their store was, it was a bit tricky to find them. They are located at the end of a strip mall and don't have much in the way of signage yet. Hopefully that will change.

I was, as always, greeted in a friendly way when I came in... it helps that I've gamed with one of the owners. (Hi Dave!) There was a crowd in there, which was nice to see. One large group (about eight people?) was playing a 3.5 D&D game at a table in the front of the store. Another group was playing something else in the back. There was plenty of room and no one looked crowded. That was pretty impressive.

Dave pointed out that they now had a (small) used section. That was nice to see. A used section that constantly changes is one of the best ways to get me into your gaming store... because I'll want to see what shows up there. The general stock of the store was small, but varied. It had the essentials, plus a few weird things that I appreciated (including some indie rpgs).

I didn't end up buying any rpg stuff - I really just stopped in to see the place, but I did walk out with a board game I'd had my eye on....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Woodstock: Session Two

See Session One, here. Jason, who played Joan, had to drop out of the game due to time commitment issues.

* * *

Joan was quickly sent off to brief the other team on the McGee murder case. The other PCs were briefed by Terrence on their new assignment. There's a ghost in the train station. They need to keep it under surveillance. Make sure it doesn't leave the station. If it goes more than a block East or two blocks any other direction, report back. What's East? Something that won't react well to a ghost. (The warehouse district?) The PCs decide to take shifts. Ethan will start.

Evelyn hands each of the PCs a box of kosher salt. If the ghost gets violent, they should throw a handful at it. It should cause temporary dispersal. The PCs are skeptical. Evelyn has a cabinet full of kosher salt.

The ghost appears to be a middle-aged man. He's disheveled, but his clothes are a bit too nice for him to be homeless. He wanders around, showing people a picture of a teenage girl and asking them if they've seen her.

Upon first looking at him, it isn't obvious that he's a ghost... but his coloration appears a bit washed-out, and it is easy to lose track of him. Oh, and sometimes when people bump into him they sort of pass through...

Ethan doesn't like this. He's a scientist. The past day has been a bit much.

Lance and Rory take their turns. Lance talks to the guy. He's not very communicative, but he says the girl is his daughter and she's lost. Her name is Ashley Davidson. Lance looks up missing person records. Ethan looks up death records. Ashley was reported missing three years ago. She was 16 years old. She'd gotten on a train in Vermont (where she'd lived) and was traveling to visit her aunt and uncle who lived outside NYC. She never arrived. Her father was killed within the year. He was in jail at the time, arrested on suspicion of her disappearance.

Terrence calls the PCs in. The other team and Joan have disappeared. Had any of them heard from Joan? (No.) They should let him know if they do. In the meantime, see what they can find out about the ghost and try and resolve whatever issue is holding it here. Getting rid of the thing will be good for everyone.

They take shifts again. Lance takes matters into his own hands and hits the road. He shows up at McGee's house. There's a sign from the police on the door. The sign is covered in blood. He gets out of there, and tells Terrence... who isn't happy.

Ethan contacts Ashley's uncle. Thinking to force a confrontation with the ghost, he tells its brother that Ashley will be at the Woodstock station at 8am the next morning.

Rory follows the ghost as it heads out of the station... toward downtown. It stops people. It grabs at a girl from behind until it sees her face. It is getting a bit more disruptive. Rory tries to talk to it. When the ghost gets agitated, things in the area begin to shake. Rory backs off.

Following a hunch, Lance meets a pimp he knows at Taco Bell. He shows him a picture from a missing persons report. The pimp recognizes the girl as a dancer at a strip club from a few years back. Lance heads to the bar. The girl worked there for a bit around three years ago, but took up with a guy named Ned who worked at Circuit City.

The PCs find Ned's last name at Circuit City. He's the store manager. They look up his address and phone number. One of them calls. A girl answers. Ashley.

They accost Joe. They get him into Ethan's car with a promise of reuniting him with his daughter. The ghost sinks into the seat a bit. Ethan tries not to notice. His box of salt is sitting on the floor of the passenger side. The ghosts foot is partly inside it and there appears to be static around it.

They take the ghost to meet its daughter. It doesn't go well. Ashley freaks. Her father abused her. She's made a life for herself here. The ghost demands she come home with him. He's her father. He doesn't appear aware that he's dead, despite her yelling it at him. Things in the apartment start to spin around in the air. The PCs dodge it while trying to calm both of them down. Rory mediates between father and daughter until there is some acceptance.... and the ghost dissipates.

The PCs have a few days of downtime. They use it to check out the Flower Shop in Albany.

It isn't a flower shop. It's a house on the outskirts of town. It doesn't seem to be all that well-kept, either. There's an open window on the second floor. A big raven is sitting on the sill. The PCs approach the house. The mailbox has a credit card application in it. It's addressed to Charles Redford. The raven calls down to them, "Pizza time?"

Rory realizes that it isn't a raven. It's the world's biggest crow, and it wants pizza. It excitedly calls out for pizza again. It appears to identify itself as Munchie. There's another crow voice up there, too. Then it asks, "Munchie want an eyeball?" No one answers the door.

They go back to their cars. One of them notices that the window is now closed. They decide to get a pizza. Rory takes it to the front door. No one answers, but he can hear the scrabbling and fluttering of birds on the other side of the door with an occasional, "Pizza time!" thrown in. Looking at the door, he can see scratches on it that look like fingernail scratches... and he had a brief vision of a pizza deliverer being dragged inside...

He backed up, nervously.

Ethan went around back. He and Lance break in through the back door. Rory joins them. The kitchen has a stack of pizza boxes that reaches the ceiling. There's a room with a bloodstained tub. The basement is full of bodies buried in rock salt. There's a room upstairs that the crows are in. The door to it was closed. They seem friendly, if creepy. They have small animal bones that they've arranged in patterns. The window is closed. There's a human arm in the corner that's been pecked at. They ask the PCs for an eyeball. Their names are Hungry and Munchie.

The rest of the house is lived in, but minimally so.

They get out of there and report it to Terrence. He says he's heard of something similar out West and will do some research. He sounds exhausted and annoyed. He calls them in, saying he has another job for them.

When they get in, he tosses them a copy of the weekly Woodstock Moonbeam. It is opened to the Weird Woodstock column. This week, it is babbling about Bigfoot sightings. Terrence looks angry. He points to the grainy picture that supposedly shows a bigfoot. "Take care of that," he says.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Name This Dungeon

I make a map. You give it a name/theme. Then I'll fill in some details.

I drew this while roleplaying, and then edited it in photoshop. What does it look like to you?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nobilis Esoterica

I suspect that everything about Nobilis is esoterica.

We discussed live-action Nobilis last Tuesday, and decided that a proper resolution system would involve plucking flower petals in a "He loves me. He loves me not." sort of way.

This is more amusing if you know that flowers are central to the Nobilis cosmology. As far as I can tell, most angels are gardeners.

As I've mentioned before, I doodle when roleplaying. Sometimes, I scan these doodles and color them. Here are some I did while playing Nobilis:




This is a character sketch of my PC, Comus, the Power of Masks. His chalice is named Excess and his mask is Decorum. He secretly carries the Abhorrent Weapon known as Loss.

Nobilis being what it is and Comus having been a spirit before his enoblement, the sketch is less stylized than you might think.















This is a gobliny thing that I drew when our PCs went to Faerie. One of the members of our celestial family (Jake, Power of Loyalty) was captured by Gwendolyn, a Faerie Queen of Winter, and we went to fetch him... and make her regret her actions. Before that, though, we partied with some satyrs and hung out in a goblin house.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dresden Files RPG

Have I mentioned how much I am looking forward to the Dresden Files RPG?

Yeah, I know I have. If you haven't done so, you should check out the website for the game. It looks slick, plus it is being regularly updated with sneak previews focusing on possible character archetypes. I'm really curious to see how they are updating FATE for a modern/magic game.

On a related note, Angela and I ran our second Woodstock game using FATE last weekend. It went really well, though we lost a player due to scheduling. I'll post a recap of the session soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stranger than fiction

Want some inspiration for monsters? How about a graceful, translucent angel-looking-amorphous-thing that shoots tentacles out from the top of its head to catch prey. Want something more "traditional" than that? How about a 600 pound duck (realizing that a swan can break a person's limb with a wing buffet)?

Both of these (and more) are real creatures that Angela has posted about over on her blog. She also regularly features myths and legends surrounding various animals. There is a lot of stuff that is gameable (and she will sometimes point this out). She keeps the blog mostly to keep progress of time that she spends on art. The animal stuff is motivational fun.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Non-gaming Website for Gamers: WebUrbanist

WebUrbanist is one of my favorite blogs. It is great for:

...and a lot more. Check it out.

Tonight: Nobilis. Going to hell in a handbasket. Rather... going to hell in a friendly truck named Handbasket who happens to know the way. Cain is driving. Lucifer knows we're coming. We're dumb.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Great gaming tool: YourFonts

I saw YourFonts over at Cool Tools the other day and immediately thought about the applications for gaming. This is a free font generation software package. You download a template and either draw/write the font by hand or create it in an image editor. Scan and upload the template and it gets turned into a TrueType font. How is this useful? Do you have a runic or script alphabet that you use in your game? Make a font out of it. Do you have icons that you'd like to be able to add to a character sheet and your GM notes (like the 4e dice and attack icons and such)? You can create your own dingbat-style font full of them. Do you want to create some sort of arcane glyphs or code-symbols that show up repeatedly through a campaign? This is your tool.

I haven't played with it yet, but I plan to do so. If you try it out, let me know what you think - and what you use it for.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Woodstock: Session One

Character creation took up a good chunk of the evening.

The PCs:
  • Ethan: metrosexual M.D.
  • Rory: modern-day ranger
  • Lance: crooked(?) P.I.
  • Joan: Desert Storm veteran
The PCs are employed as troubleshooters by the Houdini Foundation, a non-profit which concerns itself primarily with end-of-life issues. The Foundation is involved in a number of charitable activities such as hospice care, medical research, and Make-A-Wish-style programs. The PCs, however, are part of its other area of activities. The Foundation employs divination and, among other things, sends the PCs out to prevent untimely deaths.

The PCs are called into the office of Terrence Brown, Director of Special Projects for the Foundation. He's their boss. He hands them a dossier for Robert McGee. No. He doesn't go by Bobby. He's a CPA who lives about an hour away. He'll die tomorrow. Sometime in the afternoon, probably. Brown usually has more information than this, and he's apologetic. The case is urgent, though.

The PCs begin surveillance. Lance finds out that McGee's accounting firm is squeaky clean. Almost surprisingly so. Ethan checks his mailbox. It has a business reply card from a men's fitness magazine in it. He sees movement in the house. Two figures? Rory poses as a meter reader. No one opens the door, but the curtain on the door window is swept aside by someone who is not McGee. He has silver-white hair and too-pale eyes. He smiles at Rory and lets the curtain fall.

The PCs regroup. They plan a bit. They continue their stake-out, and Lance and Joan head to the front door. Lance notices a vase of red roses through the window.

Then there's a blood-curdling scream. They're in the door, and Rory and Ethan aren't too far behind. The run through the house. Reach the bedroom. It is covered in blood. Blood and a Thing. The thing is like a wolf. They make this connection because it's the closest reference they have. It's like a wolf, but it is too big. Much too big. It has arms and legs and they both have too many joints in them. It has no eyes. Its sockets have been sewn shut. It has no ears, just gaping holes in its head, dripping blood. It has a mouth, though... pieces of McGee are in it. Pieces he needed. It also has a nose. The nose twitches, and it turns toward them.

There's a fight. Two of the PCs have guns. Lance doesn't, but he rushes in anyway. Ethan stands in the doorway, mostly in shock. None of them have ever seen anything like this. The thing practically fills the room, so it isn't hard to hit. The PCs manage to knock it off balance and take advantage of that fact. Soon it is so full of lead that it just dies.

They load the corpse into Rory's pickup. They search around the house. There's no sign of a struggle except in the bedroom. No sign of entry, either. Lance notices the flower vase. It's filled with wildflowers now. Not roses. They take the business card of the flower shop. It's odd.

They head back to the Foundation. Evelyn, Brown's secretary, comes out to check the corpse. She seems surprisingly unfazed by this. Brown is upset. McGee wasn't supposed to die until the next day. Something went awry. He's bothered by the beast they killed, but explains that the Foundation deals with these things from time to time. They have another team that deals with them explicitly. He's worried that this thing killed McGee before the PCs could intervene. Was it intentional? He'll send the other team to investigate. In the meantime, the PCs will have to take over its current assignment.

End of Session One

(We actually only got through about half of what we planned for session one here, but that's OK)

Monday, February 02, 2009

What I've been up to. . .

I realize I haven't been posting a lot of late. I've been pretty busy. Angela and I ran our first game session last night, a week earlier than we'd been planning. We had to cram a bit. I think it went well, even though I blanked on the FATE combat variant we were using halfway through the PCs' first combat. Still, FATE combat was pretty fun. PCs seemed to like invoking aspects - it kept the combat from being repetitive and gave an actual flow to the combat scene... something that most game systems seem to lack.

The co-GMing thing is tricky. It would be easier if we were telepathic.

I'll do a full write-up of the session in the next day or two.

Also keeping me busy has been a non-gaming project. I just launched http://kitchenhacker.com. Check it out if you like food and/or cooking.