Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Complex: Episode 3

Only two players again for yesterday's session - +Steve had scheduling issues, so Takeshi was apparently suddenly called away on a business trip or something.

This time around, I wrote up a basic time-table to remind myself when we needed to start heading towards the climax, and we actually managed to finish on time! I tried to keep my prep-work fairly minimal, but ended up extrapolating a few extra potential plot devices. In the end, one was only just introduced, and another didn't get a look-in at all. I'll definitely be looking to bring both of those to the fore in the next Episode (as foreshadowed in the Webilogue).

Episode 3: Going Deeper

Starring (in alphabetical order):
  • +Lloyd Gyan as Aki Enoki, graduate student of biological anthropology on a gap year.
  • +David Miessler-Kubanek as Tony Pearson, the apartment's maintenance man, and an ex-hacker from California.
Produced and Directed by Craig Judd

Aki receives a call from Blake Thompson, Odyssey Tech company man. He has the stolen whalebone statue to return to her, but wants her to give him something else first. She puts him on the back-foot by refusing, but they negotiate and he agrees to return the statue if she can find out the state of the prison site that lies underneath the building. That way, she doesn't actually have to steal anything.

Tony finds out that the building's been sold to the Yamamoto Historical Foundation, but that he still has his job and that it will continue to operate as an apartment building. He uses Aki's wi-fi balcony and his hacking skills to research the foundation, and discovers that while Michiru Hasegawa is the director, Takeshi is their major financial backer.

Normally this would have entailed a Contest against Takeshi, but as his player was absent and the investigation was being performed against an Extra by a former class-A hacker, I just ran it as a Test against the Trouble pool.

Tony visits Zoe, to check she's OK and hasn't had any more trouble with thugs. She tells him that she used to work for Odyssey Tech in the UK, but witnessed them performing a strange ritual which may have involved human sacrifice! She fled but has been trying to figure out what they're after in Australia so she can stop them from getting it. This completely endears her to Tony, and he tells her a little about Sheila and how special the complex is. Zoe asks if she could meet Sheila, and Tony asks how open she is to the supernatural. She claims to have had her share of experiences, so Tony invites her to dinner at his place this evening, which is totally not a date.

Aki visits Tony in the Dungeon while he's cleaning the place and preparing for dinner. It takes a few tries to get his attention, as he has a "Do Not Disturb" sign up - in the end, she has to call him "Warden" to get him to open the door. Aki asks Tony to show her the sub-basement. He refuses because he's busy, because it's dangerous and she could get hurt, and because it's not her 'jurisdiction' - but she's very insistent and wears down his morale. In the end, he tells her she needs to prove she can 'play with the big boys' by finding out what Michiru Hasegawa's intentions are with the building. If she can do so by 10am the next day, he'll take her into the sub-basement.

Aki immediately dashes off to investigate, recruiting Aomo to help with research. Aki finds out that Michiru is the director of the Yamamoto Historical Foundation which now owns the building, but Aomo manages to also uncover Takeshi's connection to the Foundation. Aki gets Aomo to drive her down to the Foundation's offices so she can grill Michiru.

Zoe arrives for dinner at The Dungeon, and is amazed at how neat and tidy Tony keeps the place! She seems a little taken aback by the meal that's been laid out, but Tony's set a third place for Sheila, with no food on the plate but a glass of wine poured. Once Zoe's taken a seat he turns off the music and puts the old TV onto a static station, asking Sheila if she'd like to meet Zoe. He feels some reluctance, but manages to coax her out. She actually manifests as an apparition, standing on the far side of Tony so she's hiding from Zoe, who's watching intently but anxiously. Sheila doesn't like Zoe, saying she's tainted, and connected to one of the 'bad ones.' At this, Zoe gets up and leaves the Dungeon.

Before Tony can question Sheila further, Aki turns up, catching the door before it swings shut. Tony invites her to sit down and share dinner with him, and they chat and de-stress each other. Tony tells Aki about Sheila. Aki tells Tony what she's found out about Michiru Hasegawa - that she doesn't really have any plans for the building, because she's a front for Takeshi. 

The next morning at 10am, Tony introduces Aki to Sheila. While she doesn't show herself this time, Aki senses her spiritual presence. Thankfully, Sheila takes a liking to Aki, so Tony consents to show her the sub-basement, with Sheila tagging along in spirit. They explore a maze of access tunnels, until they find a hatch in the wall secured by a colonial-era padlock. Tony manages to open the lock without breaking it, revealing a sandy floored hallway lined with old sandstone blocks. Aki starts taking pictures for research, but also mentions Odyssey. Tony's incredulous that he brought her this far when she's working for Odyssey, but she assures him the photos are for her personal research and she won't be passing on physical evidence. Tony confiscates her camera-phone, and makes sure to take the padlock with him as well. Further discussion is cut short by strange thudding noises and muffled sounds coming from inside the hatch, so they press on to investigate.

They found a series of tunnels, many of which have been sealed by concrete poured into the foundations, or by rock-falls. The floor is made of sand-covered flagstones. As they get closer to the sounds, Aki presses ahead. She rounds a corner and kicks a wooden cell number marker on the floor, quickly pocketing it before Tony arrives. It's a long corridor with cell doors lining the walls. An eerie sobbing comes from one of the far cells; Tony wants to leave whatever it is in the cell because it deserves to be there, but Aki thinks he's crazy to leave someone down here. They scuffle; Tony drops Aki's phone, but Aki drops the cell number tag and breaks her flashlight. In the confusion, Tony loses track of Aki, who grabs her phone and goes to the cell door. She discovers Alex Miller, the thief who dropped through the floor in Tony's workshop, trapped in the cell. He's exhausted and weakened, and has lost his ability to phase through solid objects. Aki manages to bust the cell door open and help him out of the basement (picking up the cell tag on the way). Tony closes the cell door behind them, and Sheila nods at the empty cell, saying "You stay in there!"

Tag Scenes

After getting Alex to a safe place, Aki returns to the prison and confronts Tony about trying to keep people locked up in this place. She thinks he's being crazy and irresponsible, and storms off after giving him a piece of her mind.

Lloyd changed Aki's Duty to "DUTY to those who have respect", her Power to "POWER is coming. I have to find out where", and her Relationship with Tony to "TONY is freaking crazy, watch for him".

Tony finds the Warden's office. Standing in the middle of the room, he opens his mind and hears the raucous yelling and banging of the convict souls still housed in the prison. He senses some are missing, and that others may soon break free...

David changed Tony's Truth to "You can't handle the TRUTH!" He also kept his Duty stepped down to d6, and stepped up his Justice to d8.



Crickets chirp in the heat. Business shoes crunch over a drying lawn. Brett Leeding, in a sweat-stained business shirt and braces, trenchcoat over one arm, looks up at the back of the apartment complex.

VOICE-OVER: "This building. It all leads here. Everything's coming together..."

He walks across the lawn and the camera pans up. Halfway up the building, on this sheer straight side, "The Lizard" has been scrawled in giant spray-painted letters.

Another good episode, although I'm looking forward to having all three players together soon. The meta-plot is advancing nicely.

I've noticed that Distinction Triggers aren't kicking in very often. I think there are probably too many of them, and you need to really know them well and keep them in mind. I don't think I've given out a Plot Point for an Earn trigger in two sessions. David did use his Shoulder To Cry On trigger to help erase his own Stress, though, and people are getting the hang of using Ability Special Effects.

>>> Episode 4

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Racing Game development

A few months ago I started thinking about writing a new roleplaying game. My current groups aren't so big on short games or one-shots, but I prefer those to very long campaigns. I decided to try for an episodic structure. This would guarantee closure by the end of a session no matter how short, but would also allow for an extended story to be told. In addition, it would make the game easier to pick up or put down at short notice.

Possibly inspired by the anime Redline, and by my years of playing WipeOut games on the PlayStation, I settled on the concept of a futuristic anti-grav racing league. The RPG currently has no name.

I'm currently in the middle of testing mechanical resolution methods for the race, which has been a major sticking point for a while now. I'm going to start blogging about the development process so I have a record of how things go.

Although I began brainstorming elements for a completely original game, the recent Kickstarter for the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide made me realise that a lot of my design goals and ideas are possible within the Cortex Plus framework. At the moment, I'm approaching the game as a Cortex Plus hack, using elements of both the Drama and Action versions.

Design Goals
  • Episodic - Each session contains character development and climaxes with a race.
  • Engaging - Something for all the players to do, both off-track and during a race.
  • Adaptable - Easily modified for various types of racing (A-G, car, bike, horse; circuit, rally, drag, street; combat).
  • Instructional - Game rules actually tell you HOW to play the game!
  • Simple - Fast resolution, and able to handle a dynamic field of NPC racers without slowing down.

Episode Structure
  • Arrive at next race location
    • Group designs the track
  • Prepare for the race
    • Develop relationships, mechanical work, adjust vehicle for local conditions, local colour, engage rivalries, subterfuge and sabotage.
    • Practice lap, qualifying?
  • Race Time!
    • Everyone engages with the racing mechanics.
Race Time would be determined by real-world time, given a known end-of-session time. Obviously I'll need to figure out how long the races actually tend to last.

It's very important to me that all the players have something to do at race time, to avoid people just sitting around watching the Driver roll dice for half an hour.

The Team

My initial thoughts included relationship mechanics - shifting attitudes towards people in the team, and rivalries with other teams. Now, I'm not so sure - largely because I think that during the race the Driver will be able to rely solely on their single highest Relationship.

Currently, I have a few ideas for the two "core" sets of Traits.
  • Roles
    • Driver, Navigator, Gunner, Mechanic, Pit Crew, Coach, Publicist.
    • Not all leagues would contain all these Roles; for example, only rallies need Navigators, and only Combat leagues need Gunners.
    • The GM would be cast as the Manager, as they handle most of the administrative and off-screen duties.
  • Relationships
    • Other Team members, rival Teams.
    • I think it would be good for people to get fired up and inspired by their Relationships, but I'm not sure I want to promote the sort of constant "Challenge and change" cycle that happens in Smallville
  • Approaches
    • Aggressive, Defensive, Indirect, Technical, Persistent.
I'll probably attach Talents (special dice tricks) to Roles, and maybe to Distinctions as well somehow. I have yet to figure those out, or write a list of Distinctions. I think Talents will be a big way that most characters will be able to help out during a Race; in fact, I may either make all Role Talents only work during a Race, or I may divide them into Race/Non-Race Talents, but maybe require at least one be a Race Talent. However, I can see Publicists and Mechanics needing off-track Talents too. It may be better just to say your first Role Talent must be applicable during a Race.

The Vehicle

I would like the Vehicle to have different performance ratings in different areas. At the moment I have:
  • Speed: Acceleration and top speed.
  • Handling: Cornering and agility.
  • Stability: Off-road handling, resistance to losing control.
  • Lift: Aerial manoeuvrability and jump performance.
  • Resilience: Resistance to physical damage.
The mechanical team will be able to tweak the Vehicle's performance to make it better suited for specific Tracks.

The Track

At the start of each Episode, the team arrives at a new race location and finds out what the Track's like. Currently, I plan to provide random tables of track segments. Random Tracks can then be quickly made by rolling for and combining four to twelve segments. The length will be determined by group consensus, probably largely influenced by the session length and how much time people want to spend on the race itself.

Different types of Track segments (straights, corners, offroad, jumps) may require the application of different Vehicle stats, and will most likely vary in difficulty and consequences of failure.

The Race

This is currently a developmental sticking point. I've tried a few different approaches, which all satisfy some design goals while rendering others more difficult or impossible.

Races are the climax of the Episode. The PCs are not guaranteed a win, or even a place, so the opponents need to be skilled and require luck, teamwork, and dedication to overcome.

At first I tried abstracting the "Field" of racers into a Trouble-like pool of dice, which works quite well against a single PC and keeps things simple. The main problem with this approach is that it's difficult to extract placement data for NPC racers, which would be handy for constructor leagues. It's also hard to compare the performance of individual racers during Rallies.

Next, I thought maybe it would be better to track each NPC racer separately, with a simple statblock giving them a consistent dice pool for ease of use. I re-cast the Field pool as the Track pool, representing the difficulty of the current Track Segment. Failure to beat the Track's roll would result in a slipping position and possible Stress from collisions. It would also work fairly well for Rallies. In practice, however, having to roll a separate dice pool for each racer is fiddly and time consuming, even for a field of three or four racers. The "handling time" for each Segment was too long, and I had to abandon this approach too.

Thinking about it though, I really like the escalating Cortex Plus Contests. In order to make a Contest deep and meaningful though, you really need at least some basic ratings for your NPC - it's a little dull to try and escalate against an abstract Field pool.

I haven't written anything down for my new idea yet, but in my headspace it's a hybrid of both the previous approaches. I'll go back to a Field pool, and have yet to decide whether to have a separate Track pool or combine the Field and Track pools. I'll have simple stats for each NPC racer, but they'll only come into play when the player's Vehicle is directly engaging them. I'll keep track of which NPC is in which place, but I'll use the interaction of the PC racer and the Field pool to decide what their relative situations are - do you have a chance to overtake, or do you need to fend off someone approaching from behind? To avoid having to overtake each NPC racer one at a time, I'd like to maybe have vehicles share the same placing so you can theoretically deal with maybe one, two, or three opponents at the same time.

Whatever I end up doing, I need to make sure the Race mechanics work for Rallies (no other Vehicles on the Track) and Combat leagues (using weapons to take Vehicles out).

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Skyship Islands 3

  • Alice plays Amarylis, a female Centaur barbarian with a warhammer and an attitude.
  • +Andrew is playing Inigo Yonez, a male Dwarven archaeologist.
  • +Melysa is playing Annona, a female Jungle Elf shaman.
  • Michael plays Engrin, a quiet male Human rogue armed with a crossbow.
  • I'm playing Zanne, the female Human captain of a small skyship. 

After routing the pirates in the canyon, we entered a back passage into the ruins, finding the impaled body of the fled pirate on a spiked wall trap. The first chamber had three doors and a spiked pit-trap. Two of the doors had the sounds of rattling bones behind them, and the centre one smelt of dessicated flesh. Inigo leapt the pit and opened the door, revealing a large room with three zombies inside.

Battle ensued! Engrin and I leapt across the pit to assist Inigo, while Annona fired her bow from across the pit and Amarylis threw rocks at them. The foul creatures were eventually defeated, and we examined our options - a portcullis or a door. Engrin picked the lock on the door, and we headed along a new corridor.

Around the next corner lay a hallway guarded by a strange magic-mechanical device armed with a cleaver and a brace of javelins. It kept trying to aim at living things that poke around the corner, but wouldn't fire if people didn't step completely into the corridor. After some thought, we got Inigo to shoot at it around the corner with his crossbow and knock the magical aiming crystal off the top of it. It stopped working when the crystal fell off.

We opened the next door, to discover a large chamber with several animated skeletons inside. On the far side was the statue of a yellow god with a large red crystal in its forehead - the journal fragment we seek is behind this gem. However, as we entered the chamber, the door on the other side opened and a gang of pirates swarmed in!

>>>Session 4

The Complex: Episode 2

We only had two Leads for yesterday's Episode, making for a very focussed and intimate - and at times intense - game. +David was attending a games convention this weekend. His Lead, Tony, was busy fixing up the building's plumbing this time around, with Rashida's reluctant help.

We had a little paperwork to clear up from the last session - both attending Leads had to pick new Extras. Takeshi gained Aomo, and Aki gained Brett Leeding. As both players consented in both cases, these two Extras immediately became Features.

I tried to do a bit less prep-work for this Session, but we still ended up going overtime.

Episode 2: A Japanese Story

Starring (in alphabetical order):
  • +Lloyd Gyan as Aki Enoki, graduate student of biological anthropology on a gap year.
  • +Steve Moore as Takeshi Sekiguchi, a retired hit-man trying to keep a low profile.
Produced and Directed by Craig Judd

Takeshi meets Brett Leeding in a private room of the Shogun Karaoke Restaurant. Brett tells him that, while investigating Odyssey Tech for various clients, he's discovered that the've also put in an offer on the apartment building Takeshi lives in and wants to buy himself.

The next morning in the lobby of a fancy hotel, Aomo introduces Aki to Blake Thompson, an Odyssey Tech representative whom Aomo's already done a little freelance work for. Blake is charming, and Aki's thrilled to be recruited by a major company to help them with their archaeological research. They have an interest in the apartment building, as it was built on the site of a colonial-era prison.

Takeshi gets a call from Alan Moss, to let him know the apartment building is going up for auction in a couple of days. Near the end of the call, Rashida wanders past and Takeshi's mobile reception is disrupted.

Aki's working at Coffee Cigarettes & Cake when Takeshi comes in to buy cigarettes and a cappuccino. She freezes up because her opinion of him has completely changed - he's not just "the nice old man upstairs" any more. Takeshi tries to talk to her about the building sale, but she just wants him to leave. He asks what's wrong, but she just wants him to go - to the point of using her force field to push him back, also knocking some stuff off the counter and making a mess. In the end, Takeshi eventually just turns and leaves.

This was a massive Contest, over five or six rounds, each one escalating until we reached a total of 24. Takeshi failed a roll and got Stressed Out of the scene. It was pretty much just repeated "Tell me what's wrong so I can help!" "No, just go away!" but the escalating dice mechanic really raised the tension.

Aki visits Brett Leeding to get some information, and discovers that Odyssey plans to buy the apartment building. She's worried about what this will mean for the residents if they decide to do a full archaeological dig, and whether they will still need her services if they acquire the building.

Aomo's tending the Penthouse garden when Takeshi wanders out and asks if he can think of any reason Aki would be upset. 
In a flashback, we see Aki telling Aomo about Takeshi's gun, and Aomo telling her he's already found Takeshi's secret gun cupboard, which he thinks is really cool.
Aomo says he can't think of anything, but Takeshi detects a certain nervousness and pressures him further. Aomo breaks down and confesses stealing a whalebone statue from the Penthouse garden and giving it to Blake Thompson. Takeshi questions him, and says that he'd better figure out how to get it back. After Aomo leaves, Takeshi calls Brett Leeding to get some information on Blake.

Aki calls Blake to get some assurance that, if Odyssey buys the apartment building, they won't knock it down or evict all the residents. He assures her he'll do everything in his power to keep the apartment running as it is, and that even if they manage to buy the building they'll still want Aki to do some work for them.

Aki meets Aomo in the stairway when she's heading up to apologise to Takeshi. He's obviously upset, so she calms him down and he tells her how he betrayed Takeshi's trust and stole the whalebone statue for Blake. Aki calls Blake and organises another meeting at his hotel.  She goes upstairs to apologise to Takeshi, but he's just left in his private elevator. They get out the front just in time to see him drive off.

Takeshi bursts into Blake's hotel room and threatens him at gunpoint, requesting he return the statue. Blake knows him by reputation and plays it cool, saying he might be able to get the statue back in a couple of days. Takeshi threatens to kill him if Odyssey doesn't withdraw from the auction, but Blake tells him he's past his prime and doesn't have it in him. He should leave things to those younger and more capable. Blake's assessment cuts a bit too close to home, and Takeshi leaves in great frustration.

Aki meets Takeshi in the hallway. She apologises for her earlier behaviour, but suggests it would be best for everyone if they agree to stay away from each other. 

Aki and Aomo go on to visit Blake, and she also demands the return of the statue. In return, Blake asks her to interfere with Takeshi's attempt to buy the apartment. Aki refuses; if Odyssey buys the apatment they'll have full access anyway, and if they lose the auction she'll get some other artefact to swap for the statue.

The Auction

The morning of the auction arrives! An excited crowd gathers on the patio, both to bid and to watch. Blake isn't present, but there's a fairly obvious businessman on a mobile phone passing on bids on Odyssey's behalf. Takeshi has arranged for his bid to be handled by a representative of a historical preservation trust he happens to own. Aki is watching from her balcony, but doesn't see any reason to help or interfere - whoever ends up owning the building, it will benefit her one way or another.

It was a bit of a shame that Lloyd ended up in this situation; with 7 Plot Points going begging, he figured that the best way to affect the situation was to do nothing, so he unfortunately spent the climactic auction scene as a spectator.

Seeing Rashida in the crowd, Takeshi persuaded her to go stand next to the guy calling in the phone bids for Odyssey, to interfere with his reception.

Takeshi started on the back foot as the full might of Odyssey's financial weight was brought to bear right out of the gate. He felt his anger rising as Blake obviously hadn't withdrawn from the bidding, and it looked like Odyssey might win.

However, Takeshi's resources stayed the course, while Odyssey's began to falter. In the second half of the bidding, Odyssey hit their limit and were forced to drop out. By a narrow margin, Takeshi's team won the auction and bought the apartment complex!

Tag Scenes

Blake returned to his hotel room late one night to discover the lights weren't working. He opened the curtains, the moonlight revealing Takeshi sitting on the couch with a pistol on his lap. Having demonstrated his ability to get to Blake no matter the situation, Takeshi tells him that next time he won't be so lucky, and leaves. Blake simply smirks to himself.

Takeshi changed his Justice to "JUSTICE can be achieved by peaceful means," and his Truth to "Some TRUTHS need to be shared."

Aki sits on her balcony and fills in another blog entry. Now that Takeshi indirectly owns the building, she has some freelance research work to do for Odyssey...

Aki changed her Duty to "To be useful in DUTY means to be useful to those that deserve it," and her Relationship with Takeshi to "Me and TAKESHI have an agreement, he stays away, and so do I."



The camera pans low across a carpeted floor as we hear a woman talking on the phone. "Yes, sir, it is unfortunate... No, everything else is still in place..." White curtains waft in the breeze. "Yes, I'm confident that our plans will come to fruition. Just leave it to me..."

The camera slowly pulls up, and we see the back of a woman's legs in stockings and a business skirt, standing on a balcony. The camera glides past her, and looks over the edge at the Complex's patio and pool area...

This time I only prepped one and a half plot elements (the auction, and Aomo's work for Odyssey), and we only had two players, but the game still went for an hour longer than it was meant to! At least I didn't over-prepare this time, and now I know I only have to come up with one really good idea for each Lead and they'll take care of the rest themselves. I just need to keep a more mindful eye on the clock.

My idea to exacerbate the conflict between Takeshi and Aki by putting them on opposite sides of a big issue worked pretty well, although Lloyd's starting to feel like Aki's working for the bad guys now, and he feels kind of bad for acting in direct opposition to another player's character. He's happy with having arguments between friends, and with confronting characters face-to-face, but doesn't feel good about outmanoeuvring other characters behind their backs.

We talked about it a bit after the session, and Steve was fine with everything Lloyd had done. I think even if Aki does end up working for the "bad guys" I need to make sure they're relatable and have justifiable reasons for their approach. Since David wasn't here this time, we decided to hold off on the Modus Operandi Pathways step until next Episode, so that will be a good theme as people figure out how they are most comfortable dealing with each other.

 I've noticed a couple of things when Extras become Features. Firstly, it makes Aid dice slightly harder to come by. You can't just say "I'm using this Extra as inspiration, or for assistance, or something I set up with them earlier" - you actually have to persuade the Feature to Aid you if you want to get a bonus die from them. In hindsight, I probably should have had Brett Leeding's investigation into Odyssey allow him to Aid Takeshi in the auction, rather than just giving Takeshi an excuse to buy a d6 Useful Detail to represent that information. Of course, I hadn't had time to write up a Feature sheet for Brett either...

Secondly, a lack of Extras tends to sideline the Trouble pool. Two Extras who were going to be involved in the Episode turned into Features right at the start, and even though there were a couple of minor GM Extras, none of them ended up in opposition to a Lead. I didn't make a single Trouble Pool roll for the whole Episode, although it did build up a nice collection of d6 and d8!

>>> Episode 3

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Complex: Preparing Episode 2

Since Episode 2 was only going to have two players, and because I'd prepped too much content for our first session, I cut back pretty dramatically on the amount of prep this time around. Even so, the players grabbed the plot and ran with it, and we still went overtime by an hour! It seems I'll have to learn to watch the clock more closely.

I started by listing out the Relationships and Values between the two participating Leads: Aki and Takeshi. Notes on potential conflicts are in italics.


TAKESHI: AKI is a pretty girl, the granddaughter I never had.
AKI might become closer to an estranged relative... She might even be getting into something dangerous.

AKI: TAKESHI has a good voice, he must be a good man.
This will be Challenged as soon as they have a Contest! No idea what it will become at end of episode, but there’s the opportunity for multiple Challenges.


AKI Everyone has a DUTY to be useful to their family and friends d12
TAKESHI My only Duty is to myself d4

AKI Keep to the shadows, GLORY brings trouble d4
TAKESHI I am too old to be a GLORY hound d6

AKI Grant JUSTICE where it’s needed d8
TAKESHI JUSTICE by any means d10

AKI There is no time for LOVE in my life d4
TAKESHI Some people are worthy of LOVE, but not me d6

AKI My POWER comes from others d6 - What about when she’s being self-powered?
TAKESHI Money is useful but it doesn’t buy happiness d6

AKI I must find my own TRUTH d8
TAKESHI The TRUTH is dangerous d10

  • BRETT LEEDING has been investigating ODYSSEY, which brings him to the apartment and TAKESHI. He reveals that ODYSSEY is manoeuvring to buy the building.
  • AKI is introduced to ODYSSEY representative BLAKE THOMPSON by AOMO, who has done a little field work for them at THE COMPLEX already by stealing the whalebone statue from the roof garden.
  • The owner decides to go for a sale by auction.
  • RASHIDA's Magnetism could interfere with phone bids. Have an early scene where she interferes with a Lead's reception (probably AKI - actually ended up being TAKESHI).

So I went into it with not much more than that. I had two or three definite scenes at the start where the basic premise was established (Odyssey and Takeshi both want to buy the building, Aki's recruited by Odyssey, the building is to be sold by auction). 

A few other Revelations could be scattered in wherever they seemed appropriate (Rashida interfering with phone reception, Aomo's theft for Odyssey). In the middle, I'd mostly let the players request specific scenes to let their Leads manoeuvre around the situation.

At the end, the climax would come in the form of the auction, based on a Contest between Takeshi and Blake Thompson.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Maid: The Dungeon of Silver and Gold

+Annette and I are between Acts in our Blood Hunter campaign, so we decided to mix things up a little and have a light-hearted interlude by playing a totally random Maid one-shot! We rolled up a random Maid, Master and Mansion last week, and sat down together to play on Saturday 2 March.

Annette created Zariah, a Cool Heroine Maid. She's a magical-girl android with cat-ears and a tail. Her Stress Explosion is shopping, and her reason for becoming a Maid stems from debts... Somehow we figured the two were related. She has a 1 in Athletics, Affection and Skill, but her strengths are Cunning 3, Luck 2, and Will 3. She has a rifle built into one arm, and she has the will to stand even when defeated in battle.

The Mansion was the world's most tastelessly gaudy fantasy dungeon, with a gold and silver colour scheme. I decided that the Mansion was the bottom level of the dungeon; basically, a vast treasure room using the loot from slain adventurers to line the very walls. All of this metal in one place meant that it was shielded from electronic or magical transmissions. A portrait of the Master also hung in the entry hall.

The Master was Geeves, the former henchman of an adventuring party, who was the sole survivor of a raid on the dungeon. The previous Master, a vampire, had cursed Geeves with vampirism and fled, leaving him to run the place. It was at this point that Zariah appeared from her magical dimension to serve him! Luckily, her robotic nature meant the Master was not able to use her as a source of blood! Geeves had inherited great magical powers, and was already a talented painter.

Zariah started the day well, rousing the Master as night fell and serving him a goblet of blood. She asked if he required help with dressing, which made him blush until she pointed out she was a robot, a golem-like creature. Unfortunately her poor Skill meant she botched the job, and he ended up wearing several items incorrectly, inside out or back to front - most notably, he had a pair of pants on his head like a floppy jester's cap. He didn't seem too bothered though.

Master Geeves is still a bit confused about his newfound state of being, and requested she cook him a full breakfast to be served in the dining hall. 

As she was making breakfast, a wounded demon pushed open the door and staggered inside, asking for help. Apparently there was a war going on between the forces of heaven and hell! Zariah called for the Master to come; thanks to her Will, he answered her summons even though it's not her place to boss him around. Geeves told her to see if she could aid the demon once breakfast was served, as he might be a useful addition to the lower levels of the dungeon. 

Thanks to her abysmal cooking skills, the breakfast was an inedible extravaganza. The Master decided he wasn't so hungry after all, and just asked for another cup of blood.

Zariah showed her cool side by instructing the demon (who had almost bled out by this stage) to follow her while bleeding into a bowl - partly so he wouldn't make more of a mess on the floor, and partly to collect more blood for the Master since supplies were starting to run low!

Her skill at medicine was fully the equal of her skill in the kitchen, and the demon died on the operating table. At that point, a lost angel knocked on the door, having wandered into the dungeon accidentally while looking for the demon she'd been fighting. Discovering he was now dead, she shouldered her massive sword and left, leaving Zariah to dispose of the body.

Zariah took the body outside and dug two graves, decapitating the demon with her shovel and burying his head and body separately to make sure he wouldn't come back from the dead. The shovel glowed with a white energy, which suffused into her body and increased her Skill!

The Master had been spending the evening working on a painting of the wall in his studio. Zariah served up a goblet of black demon blood, and Master Geeves began to glow with a dark aura... Then the whole room, except for the painting, seemed to shimmer and warp, reminding Zariah of her entry into this world. Everything settled down, but the Master felt a little faint, and Zariah escorted him back to his coffin for a bit of a lie-down. She then heard a strange roaring rumble through the wall, and went to investigate.

A door leading off the art studio now opened onto the bustling platform of Akihabara Subway Station! Zariah questioned a station attendant, then headed back inside to consult with the Master. Geeves suggested she check upstairs and see how the rest of the Dungeon was doing. Level 5 (the Level just above the Mansion) was still there, filled with a range of very nasty monsters and traps. She spoke to a troll, who told her that Level 5 was still OK, but access to Level 4 was cut off by a featureless grey stone ceiling capping the stairwell.

Zariah used her Magical Girl powers to teleport to Level 4, but instead ended up above the streets of Akihabara, surrounded by cars and towering skyscrapers! As she gazed in amazement at the changed landscape, she saw a passenger plane lose power and begin to dive towards the street - and the Mansion underneath! With Magical Girl power and a great force of will, she summoned a giant bouncy castle in the street! The plane hit it and bounced back into the sky, wobbling and recovering before continuing its flight. After this public miracle, Zariah simply teleported back to the Dungeon to attend to her other duties.

At this point I rolled another random Contemporary Event, and got another plane crash! I decided to veto that, and another result I couldn't work in very easily, leaving us with one final problem...

The next day while cleaning, Zariah encountered a young, overweight, stubbly guy with glasses who had entered the hall from the art studio. He claimed to be the President of her Fan Club, and begged her to accept his feelings! She was uncertain what to do about him, questioning him about the fan club... In the end, she said he could visit again if he'd bring her a pint of his own blood every day so she could keep the Master fed!

The otaku gladly accepted her terms, although I get the feeling that he'd turn up each day in slightly worse condition until he fainted... Lucky for him, we decided to end the session there!

This was a fun, light-hearted game that took a couple of hours (one we'd created Maid/Master/Mansion). I think this is about my limit for random-event fuelled games, as they start to feel a little stretched after a while. Short and punchy is good, and it's nice if you can arrive at some vague sort of conclusion.

We did end up with a vampire in our game again, but got to have a bit of fun with it instead of dealing with vengeance-fuelled angst as in Blood Hunter.

I'm hoping that soon Annette will get the chance to roleplay in a game with another player or two, since so far she's only tried a couple of one-on-one games with me.