Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

Hacking Changeling To Play In Labyrinth

August 22, 2012 6 comments

For years I’ve wanted to run a game set in the world of Labyrinth, because it is awesome and the essence of faerie for this child of the 80s. At first I thought of using Changeling: The Dreaming (CtD) because of the obvious connection with faeries, but I never quite grasped what angle to approach this from.

When Changeling: The Lost (CtL) came out, I got the sense that this would be the right game to handle adventuring in the Labyrinth. The plot of the movie is, in essence, a classic changeling scenario, except that someone goes into faerie for the baby,[ref]We’ll leave the Labyrinth-as-sexual-coming-of-age discussion for another day[/ref] so we could use characters that had been taken to the Labyrinth, escaped and had to go back for whatever reason, or even use a regular human like Sarah.

I’ve never done either of those. CtD simply had a different vibe that was directly tied to the faeries in the mortal world, and CtL, though it was certainly dark enough, had a bit too much going on for my tastes.

CtL, however, has one bit that REALLY got me excited, the idea of Contracts as the source of changeling magic. Now we’re talking. I would strip that game of all the other simulationist stats and get down to a few essential pieces of game mechanics that truly speak to what a changeling is, highlighting the Contracts.

So this is what I would do for my Labyrinth game:

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Announcing CONcurrent, the online gaming con parallel to Gen Con

July 3, 2012 1 comment

I won’t be able to go to Gen Con this year, which makes me sad. I love the energy of the con, seeing friends I only get to see during the gathering of the tribe in Indy, and gaming. Shows like This Just In… From Gen Con do a great job of bringing me a bit of the con, I wanted to find a way to share in the inherent gaming energy of the best four days in gaming. So I created this:

CONcurrent is an online gaming convention held parallel to Gen Con, from August 15-19, 2012. It is being organized via Google+ and you can reach the page by visiting

The idea is simple: while thousands of gamers are gaming the days and nights away in Indy, we who can’t attend can partake of the best four days in gaming via events held online. Events can be games of any kind, or even seminars or hangouts. What’s more, if you wanna hold an event in a real-world location, it can be part of CONcurrent as well.

Adding events is simple and it’s designed to be self-maintained. Drop by to read the rules.

Be sure to add CONcurrent to your G+ Circles and follow on Twitter at @CONcurrent_con. See you online at CONcurrent!

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My Problem With Dungeons & Dragons (Only?)

I was pinning pics on my Pinterest boards and came across this image above, from a D&D 4th Edition sourcebook. It looks awesome but it made me think of what my problem with D&D is.

I see that image on the cover of a book–I see similar images on many D&D book covers–and I think to myself, I wanna be that guy in the game. I wanna be the warrior wielding a flaming sword, attacking a displacer beast, as we both free-fall, in a no-holds-barred fight! Yeah!

The problem is, when we play, this doesn’t happen.
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Support This Just In… From Gen Con 2012

This year I won’t be able to go to Gen Con. Though I will be off from nursing school during August, it will be my one break of the year and my wife and I are going on vacation to upstate New York, Niagara Falls and Toronto. I am super excited about that trip as I’ve never been up there. That said, a part of me is still sad I won’t be at Gen Con for the yearly gathering of the tribe. Fortunately for me, there’s This Just In… From Gen Con (TJI).

TJI is a podcast recorded and released daily during the four days of Gen Con which aims to bring the excitement of the con to its listeners. I was a host for the 2011 season and loved every second of it, but this year I go back to being a regular listener while my co-host Rich Rogers teams up with a new set of awesome folks committed to making sure those of us not attending still get to be a part of Gen Con.

Like last year, TJI is being crowdfunded via IndieGoGo. The hosts are committed to doing the show, but the financial support of the community is essential to make it even better. Last year I wrote about why TJI needs to be a financially-funded project and those reasons still stand.

Please drop by the TJI IndieGoGo page and consider backing the show’s 2012 season at any level. I can tell you without a doubt that every little bit helps, and to make it even sweeter, Rich and company have rounded up a great package of rewards to offer as incentives.

Thanks and let’s make it happen for This Just In… From Gen Con!

Random Kindness Encounter Charity Bundle

December 1, 2011 1 comment

If there’s one illness in this world I take personal it’s cancer. That shit took my mother and it owes me big for that. Unfortunately, it is a devastating disease that continues to threaten thousands, and it needs to be fought against with tooth and nail.

This here to the right, that’s Kelly Cline. She has just been diagnosed with cervical cancer and she has decided to fight that shit with a positive attitude. I used to wonder how anyone could remain upbeat when confronted with a diagnose of cancer, but I saw that firsthand with my mother. She also put on a smile and said, Let’s do this.

I don’t know Kelly, but my friend Ryan Macklin does, and my friend wants to help his friend in her hour of need. To that end him and some other game designers have put together a collection of roleplaying games to help raise funds that will go towards paying Kelly’s medical bills. They are calling it the Random Kindness Encounter Bundle and it includes 8 roleplaying games and some fiction, along with a chance to unlock a ninth game if the $4000 goal is met by the end of 2011.

Do a mitzvah and get great games in return? You cannot pass that up. I’m not. I know my mom would approve.

Follow the link, help out, get games. That simple. What are you waiting for?

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Princess, Jock & Nerd: Claire Standish

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Here is the next The Breakfast Club character converted into Lady Blackbird-style stats for my hack. As with Bender, if you are familiar with Lady Blackbird (and if you’re not, go get it now), you will see pieces work with each other. I’m hoping you can also start to see how the characters interact with each other a bit. It should be fairly obvious by looking at Bender and Claire that inter-player conflict is a big deal in this hack. Not all conflicts need to be problematic, but certainly it is the way in which the five kids challenge each other. Let me know if you have any feedback about Claire; she was fairly hard to figure out, game-stats wise, but I think I captured her essence.

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[Burning Realms] The Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm

September 21, 2011 2 comments

A funny thing happened after my last post on The One That Got Away, where I talked about my wanted-to-but-never-got-to-play character Hal Whitewyrm: Judd left one comment on my blog post that said, simply, “Let’s do it.” Before I knew it, I’d ordered Burning Wheel Gold, had it arrive at my house, read about 300 pages of it over a weekend and had my character made and ready to play.

For the past week and a few days, we have been playing via forum posts over at Obsidian Portal and we wrapped up Chapter 1 of our game. It has been a fantastic experience for me, and I am also glad to see that for Judd as well. Seriously, we went a whole chapter of play, about 10 pages of posts back and forth, in one week! I’ve known PbP games that take months to cover similar ground and here we did it in about 7 days. This can only be attributed to the fact that we’re both giddy about the game. As I told Judd, I feel 13 again: checking the game so I can post my reply, thinking about the story and characters, pulling out books and having them within easy reach for reference. It’s a wonderful experience.

Playing Burning Wheel in the Forgotten Realms has taught me a few things that I want to cover individually later on, about character creation, about how system defines setting and vice versa, about forum play. In general, I can state that my experience so far with Burning Wheel has been fantastic and I look forward to exploring this game more and more. That it is happening while I play my favorite character in my favorite setting with a dear friend at the GM helm just makes the experience all the better.

You can find our campaign at Obsidian Portal: The Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm. We play in the Forums, and you can read the Adventure Log for Chapter 1 and read through it in its entirety.

Princess, Jock & Nerd: John Bender

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Here you go, the draft character sheet for Bender. If you know how to play Lady Blackbird, you’ll understand how the pieces work. Of note, you’ll see there’s references to conflict between players; this will be a main feature of this hack, unlike in Lady Blackbird where there are no explicit rules for it. The conditions are also different to fit the theme and setting, and at least one of them can be suffered multiple times (in Bender’s case, 8 times – you figure which one out). I will keep working on the others; they are a bit harder to figure out than Bender.

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[Githyanki Therapy] The One (Character) That Got Away

September 2, 2011 3 comments

After my last post I am due for some Githyanki Therapy, a practice I am borrowing from my friend Judd Karlman.

Judd has been playing a game of Burning Wheel (which I’ve been wanting to play for a long time) set in the Forgotten Realms (which I love) and not an update of his goes by without me wishing we had Star Trek transporters, so I could go play with him in New York and then come back home to Miami. Judd asked me on G+ if we were to play a BW game in the Realms, where and what I would like to play. My reply to him took me a bit by surprise and it leads me to my therapy post.

Hal Whitewyrm is the character that got away, the one character I really wanted to play and never got the chance to.

Hal Whitewyrm is a half-elf bard living in Highmoon[ref]Yes, this is where my online nickname comes from.[/ref], in Deepingdale, in the area known as the Dalelands. He has somewhere in his heritage a trace of weredragon[ref]In the D&D 3e edition of the campaign setting, they were renamed Song Dragons.[/ref] blood which gives him orange eyes. He’s a joyful fellow who honestly loves adventuring.

Hal is the character I created back in the early 90s, when I first started to get into AD&D in high school. He’s the character I would constantly recreate during class, the one I would write short stories about, the one who was my avatar in the world of high adventure that are the Realms. He was a shallow character concept[ref]He was originally called Daniel Stephaln Whitewyrm–yeah, talk about transposition–which then changed to Daniel Whitewyrm, and eventually to Hal Whitewyrm.[/ref] with cool orange eyes and a weredragon girlfriend who existed mostly in my 5-subject spiral notebook in story after story. And I loved it.

I just never got to play Hal. My D&D group played Basic D&D/Rules Cyclopedia and we had a fairly regular schedule, so, little time to try out new ideas. Then we played less and less, then I moved, etc. Aside from the fact that I used the name as an email address for some time, I have not gone back to this character in over a decade. Which is why I surprised myself when I answered Judd’s question about what character I would play in a Burning Wheel Realms game as follows:

* I’d play the character I’ve carried with me for years, Hal Whitewyrm, a half-elven bard with weredragon blood in his ancestry (weredragons are a race of female-only shapeshifting wyrms from the Moonshaes – see the thread there?). He’s the guy I wrote stories about in my teens yet never got to play. Hal is all about the romantic journey (as in literary genre, not mass market Harlequin titles), facing adventure in a large world, ideally of the legendary danger kind, with fast friends at his side, a love life to look forward to, and death around him to put it all in perspective. Think Aragorn’s journey, but with a bard who also deals with issues of identity.”

Wow, I’d never really put those ideas into words before but yeah, that’s what Hal is all about for me: exploring the high fantasy romantic character arc; less about killing monsters and taking their stuff, more about zero-to-hero who saves the princess and loses friends along the way.

So, what about you? Which is your character that got away? The one you always wanted to play but didn’t? And what’s their story like?

Princess, Jock & Nerd: Late Night Musings

I’ve been swamped at work due to the start of the semester (I work at the university bookstore, so imagine the scenes of chaos) and applying to a new Nursing program, which means I’ve had little time to spend at home with my wife, let alone to write. Which isn’t to say I haven’t written, but it hasn’t been as much as I would like. What I have had time for, as I process endless textbook rentals and returns, is thinking, and that thinking has gone in great part towards the PJ&N Blackbird hack. It’s late, I’m half asleep and need to be up early in the morning, but I wanted to throw a couple of musings out there.

Building the characters continues to be the hardest part. I’ve managed to create more Keys for each character, but Secrets remain elusive. This actually ties to the other two thoughts I have to share now.

Sean Nittner, in a comment left in my previous post, brought up something that I also had noticed when I last saw the movie in prep for writing: there is very little action. The Breakfast Club is a talky movie, not an action movie, which means a lot of the events are conversation-based. That’s great for the movie, but it means there’s a distinct lack of external pressure to do anything in a game that needs to be addressed.

Lastly, I continue to vacillate between making this an actual The Breakfast Club game or an inspired one.

Answering those last two questions will make my job of building the characters easier. In terms of the external push to action, it is very easy to notice in the film how Bender is, essentially, an agent of plot: he has to find a way to keep things happening, keep the situation fluid, keep everyone moving. Bender gets a Key that rewards him for doing just this, and a clever player will use that ability to drive play and rack up advancements. In addition, I am toying with the idea of having an external force that opposes the characters and which they can only defeat by the use of advancement XPs. This could be used to simulate the overarching goal of “proving the stereotype wrong” the kids face during their day in detention.

Choosing whether I’m making a TBC game or an homage to the style will also help me in fleshing out the characters. At the moment I am leaning towards making it as close to the movie as possible and letting the players decide the events from the basic premise laid out in the film. I also would like the basic framework to allow groups to explore beyond the day of detention, like, what happens when they all meet again in school on Monday?

These are some thoughts that I have been mulling over and over in my head as I get ready to make final decisions and put the game together.

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