Friday, September 29, 2006

somehow I missed this before

Vincent's post with two links (for different browsers) to the Dogs in the Vineyard flash animation.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Forge Vision

Awesome post by Ron on the Forge Vision, and why there will never be a Forge brand applied to games.

This bit --

It's hard enough as it is for me to preserve my focus on that vision I'm talking about. As far as I'm concerned, the Forge is actually a bit in the red in that regard, relative to its first couple years of existence. Clinton and I do have work to do with what the Forge "is," culturally. We've discussed it. It doesn't prioritize actively building the cultural brand into an institutional one to benefit established companies further. That work has to turn more grass-roots, more punky, and more toward those folks like Doug Bolden, James V. West, Jeff Diamond, and others, as they were back then. (I name these guys because the Forge ultimately failed them, unforgivably on my part, which I see as a far greater indictment of it than Vincent Baker's success is a vindication. Clinton has his own list of casualties. We remember them even if others don't.)

made me wonder: in what way did the Forge fail James V West? (I mention him over Jeff and Doug because I'm more familiar with his work.) He certainly hasn't been making any more games after Questing Beast, I guess... I'm really curious what Ron was thinking there.

And this bit, which followed immediately --

That's why the First Thoughts forum is key. I wish more of you guys would spend time there, and use your pride and success in getting your companies off the ground as a fuel for outreach to these guys as they appear or are invited ... and rediscover the chance to learn from them. 'Cause that's where the great ideas really are, out among the wacky little guys who think they're alone in the brush. Not in the modern blogspace and not in the (thank th'Lord defunct) theory forums.

That made me all kinds of happy.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Nine Worlds: The Venerean Gambit

Just a few quick notes about the game.

This is my second game of Nine Worlds -- the first one was almost two years ago!.

I was originally going to make a new character, but Joe had a copy of Max, including a printout of the writeup linked above, and I was tempted into picking him up again. Which I'm glad I did.

The game had four players -- James and Randy had played before, quite recently, and Jim was new to the game. Being selfish, I'm just going to report my character's part of the game. They all have computers and can write up their own (like Jim did). James ("Scopas") and Randy ("Cohen") had their characters knowing each other, and mostly at the same places at the same time. Jim ("Cyrus") and I ("Max") didn't happen to meet any other PCs during the course of the game, though we often came across the effects of each other's play. For example, Scopas and Cohen travelled to Jupiter and were handed an illustrated "Ten Most Wanted" list, with Max's clueless mug in #1 position. (His character concept, as listed on the sheet in my two year old handwriting, was "Patsy".)

Max was on Venus, and was expected to be debriefed by the Graces about the whole thing. ("Debriefed by the Graces" sounds like a fun way to spend an evening, but.... ) Max wasn't interested in being in the hands, however dainty and skilled, of another planetary faction. He escaped and decided to use his Archon powers to build up a nice little war chest to let him comfortably continue his investigations.

Segue to a private, high-stakes card game (poker or some equivalent) to which a few days of excellent winnings had won him entry.

His main rival in the game was a hooded and cloaked woman named Ivy. Conflict -- the card game, of course. Max won the first round and narrated the following: Some of the hairs at the back of his head started lengthening, then burrowed into his collar and slid down his body underneath his clothes. They snaked across the table, unnoticed, and slid up Ivy's cloak, skirt, and blouse, up her back, to the back of her head (concealed behind her hood). There they inflicted sudden zaps of fear, confusion, and forgetfulness, which, while they didn't last for long, confused her enough for him to win.

He got some points and made a quick Muse out of them -- the Muse was to use this poker game to establish himself as a cool high-roller on Venus.

(It occurs to me now that if I'd wanted to, I could have just said that Max Hubrissed himself up a big bag of money. But what would be the fun in that?...)

Anyway, I let the conflict continue, and in the ensuing rounds was able to use Metamorphosis to steal some points from her Power for my Hubris (leaving me at 10 Hubris! Yowza!) and then the round after that I was able to stasis both of those changes in place with locks. She was down three points, I was up three, victory was in my grasp.

Then she and I tied and she pulled the high card to break it. She handed my ass to me on a silver platter, with a side orders of Extreme Fajitas.

My muse was resolved as a failure.

Maxwell went on a feel-good drinking binge, reducing him to a hollow, sweaty, stinking shell of a man, over the next 24 or 48 hours (he didn't remember). He was walking aimlessly down one of the zillion miles of Venus's beaches -- a beach full, unaccountably, of nasty fog and drizzly rain, when he ran into-- Ivy.

Ivy embraced him and started kissing him deeply, which can't have been much fun for her because he was a disgusting piece of humanity at that point. Soon she had him on the ground, and then -- wait, something wasn't right here -- legs hobbled and hands tied behind his back with a tight cord? Was Ivy that kinky, or -- no, he saw in her smile that he was in big trouble. His brain's Fear Lobe reacted, and he began a Hubris-ful conflict, to get out of her what she knew, who she was working for.

First, all the alcohol disappeared out of his system instantly. He was utterly sober, strong, and with it in seconds. Then he rose up in the sky about 100 feet, and one of his arms became a black tentacle winding around Ivy. He had a pointed conversation with her, and got her to start to spill her guts (he having threatened to spill her guts for her), when I undercut my own victory and narrated the squad of Aegis agents which was following Max into showing up at that second, and unleashing a hail of some kind of gunfire from the ground. Max's current state put him beyond vulnerability to bullets, but they did hit her fairly bad -- she needed medical attention very soon.

New conflict -- and a chance to resolve a muse about these dudes.

This was a very long conflict, but fun. What happened was that Max killed agents each round while he (with his super pumped Hubris of 10, locked in) won round after round of conflict and whittled down their Power. It was, "play cards, narrate agents' horrible supernatural deaths, repeat." I slew some with black lightning, I buried some of them 50 feet down in the beach sand; I created an unkindness of demonic ravens which tore some apart like pirhanas; and the last one, I just faced him, locked eyes, and he died of a heart attack. Oh, the killing killing killing. Taste the power of my Hubris!

At that point he took Ivy and checked her into the local hospital. Where she disappeared. She was triaged and taken into the emergency room, but when Max tried to follow through the door, she was gone. Everyone there denied they had seen her, and her paperwork, which he had just filled out as best he could and handed it to a nurse, had vanished. It was as if she had never been.

And that was the game. It doesn't sound like a ton happened, but this was 1/4 of a game. And it was really fun watching it play out.

The rules, which had been a bit much for me before (2 years ago), seemed easy and cool. I think that a big part of it was watching Randy and James do their stuff with the rules, and absorbing how it all worked from their example. Joe (GMing) introduced "bidding for Trump" halfway through the game, after everyone had had a conflict or two, and that was easily absorbed as well. Joe had the rules down _pat_, and that helped a lot. I would almost feel confident running a game of it, despite not having actually read the rules.

that's all I have the brainpower for writing right now. Hit me with any questions.

Review of the game as it exists/was played last night? Suh-weet. Would play more, wouldn't really mind running it if I got a chance to read more of the rulebook first.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Moorcock Down on Chaosium?

So it would seem, according to this post (via Uncle Bear:

They have done little to honour the spirit of an agreement which essentially was made many years ago before RPG was big business. Around the same time I was asked by D&D if they could also use my characters and concepts and, as with Chaosium, I said 'sure'. It was as simple as that. The next thing I know is that Chaosium is threatening to sue D&D, who backed off (which is why the Elric mythos is only in the first D&D book).

Now that's a version of events I hadn't heard before.