Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Honor+Intrigue: Siren Call-Post Game Report

For almost a year, most of my extra mental energy has gone into the pirate campaign I run using Honor+Intrigue for the last eleven months. The game started without a name initially, but I started referring to it as the Siren’s Call after about a month. Fittingly named after the ship the PC crewed the majority of the adventure. My ten-month voyage (technically nine since I started out as a player) began with the original GM realizing they really didn’t have a satisfactory direction for the game. I was into the idea of playing cutthroat pirates at that point and offered to take over, switching roles with the then GM. I had plenty of ideas for my character and had imagined how his story would unfold. More than that though, I didn't want to see the game end after only two sessions. With that in mind, I wrote my character out of the campaign (I hate DM PCs) and started focusing on telling a good story.

In October, I was going full throttle and was maybe too into the game as I decided I would participate in NaNoWriMo. It was the perfect excuse to flesh out the settings. I’ll be honest I was under no illusion that I would be able to write 50,000 words, plus I had done next to nothing to prepare for it. I did achieve my real goal which was to flesh out most of the setting stuff that needed to be written. Midway through October psyched about the game by the end of the month I felt like everything was perfect and I had all kinds of new ideas to take the game after this maiden voyage completed.

Then I realized that I hate it. I didn’t like the mood or the tone I set out for the game. More accurately, I failed to set. It felt like the players had very different ideas about the mood and tone of the game and it often felt like I was juggling 3+ different stories. 

I try to make a habit of asking for feedback even though very few of the people I game with want to offer any legitimate feedback other than it was “fun.” During one of the sessions, I got feedback that helped me so much and re-enforced why I should continue to ask. The players mentioned they it would be nice if I would be more descriptive.  I had held back on providing any significant descriptions out of fear that it would bore players. So many people complain about horror stories where GM-monologues dumped too much detail on suffering players and how you should show and not tell. To be fair, I occasionally take my interpretations to extremes.

One session, the group started having a conversation about their opinion of what type of game people felt we were playing which got some interesting answers. A player mentioned that it seemed like a straightforward monster of the week. I didn’t want to hear that at the time because I felt like the PCs didn't make much effort to even converse with the other pirates of the crew. After a week or two of thinking on it, I realized/accepted that wasn't part of my plan but was what they were expecting from the game. That was when I decided to embrace that instead of fighting it.

I went with the monster of the week concept and went with a more campy feel with each players side stories. I went with an overly stylized anime side-story for the former Spanish inquisitor, think Fullmetal Alchemist & Vampire Hunter D. A tragic "Cursed with Awesome" origin story for the African witch doctor. I just straight-up ripped off anything similar to Buffy for "the Chosen One" tropes I used for the German mercenary. The pirate queen which I had the most fun coming up with was a bizarre amalgam. It combined the urban myth version of the peddler from Disney’s Aladdin and Mephistopheles if the Devil was Tezcatlipoca.

The game turned around during the second arc. I was in a better place with the game and happy with the new the stories direction.  I still had a few inherited issues and hiccups in the second arc. The players didn't appear all that interested in the story hooks I provided. I dropped a few story hooks after deciding they were too ambiguous. After several attempts, the players were more consistently following the hooks.

A player went lone wolf and missed several things that other PCs would have likely noticed. Several players appeared to decide they would never share any information with other characters. I had to have a conversation with one player about how it was struggling because I had to tell separate stories because characters where avoid interaction with other.

El Dorado was the last story arc. I fully embraced the over the top nature the game had taken on. There were flat earth Jaguar men that pulled people through the ground to the Upside Down. I introduced a masochistic phoenix god that referred to being killed by heroes as its birthday present. The arc was topped off with a visit to El Dorado, a city created by South American neanderthals from the future. In the original timeline, Neanderthals become the dominant species on earth then they ruined the planet in true human fashion. They sent Time Vaults from the future to the past as their last desperate act to save themselves and correct their mistakes. They, of course, failed and the only functioning vault was El Dorado, a resort meant for the ultra-rich.

When it was all said in done, they had killed the “acting” CEO of El Dorado; released Tezcatlipoca from the God Machine powering El Dorado; made a deal with a gin to become a vampire and El Reina Dorado; made a getaway in a helicopter filled with gold jewels; endured fake product placement; and, in the case of one player, Was Never Heard From Again™.

All and all a successful campaign.

Friday, May 4, 2018

CofD:Willard Buss—"In the Spirit of Learning"

Willard Buss, Recorded Notes

With my continued research in the Contingent's R&D Laboratory, I have come up with a working theory, though, it will require additional data to confirm. I first thought of it when Junior was repairing that old car that had pinned Rebecca’s not so recently deceased spirit to a tree for 50+ years. The corsage that had anchored her to that place looked almost freshly picked. That made me think about the ghost flask which in turn led me to consider the Promethean arm. They were all remarkably well preserved; honestly, far better then they had any right to be. The arm could be somehow different, but the way it twitches so unnaturally of its own accord, I have yet to come up with another workable explanation. If what I hypothesize is true, then the small fragments of spirit imbued in, anchored to, these objects could be responsible for sustaining them.

Now if this theory of mine turns out to be true that brings me to a series of questions. Is death required for an anchor to exist? Could an anchor ever be reliably reproduced? Could this spiritual imbuement offer an explanation for why even the most compatible transplant organs get rejected? Could this lead to a solution?

The recent investigation in Eagle Bay, unfortunately, didn’t turn up any practical data. What it has done is demonstrate that materials of supernatural origin are not rejected as readily as tissue from other humans. More research is required, but potentially supernatural tissue may bypass rejection completely. More importantly, the introduction of supernatural elements to transplanted organs could have similar results.

[End of Recording]

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Boned" Recursion —Greco Mutant War State

The city-state of Boned is a debauched amalgam of ancient Greece with relatively modern technology. The people, when not in celebration for being alive another day, spend their time fending off besieging mutants. Wave after endless wave of carnivorous humanoid creatures with peculiar partially chitinous forms and glowing green eyes break against the walls of Boned adding to the city's unique charm.

Supplemented by the Gargantuan bones that regularly erupt from the earth, Boned's architecture is second to none, consisting of soaring arches and tall scrimshaw columns of bone. Thanks to the endless ravenous hordes, Boned owes much of its economy to the countless dead in and about the city, The wealth of bones contributes to the city's defense and lucrative textile industry.

Hope has returned to the city of Boned with the arrival of the three. The city has grown with the three's presence and their advance knowledge. Advance weaponry and fighting technique have improved the city's defense. With new advancements in food processing and culinary arts, Boned has tapped into the bounty of mutant flesh unique to the city.

Boned has entered a golden age and is a bastion of the recursion. Now is the best time to visit Boned. See your translation agent for details.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Steadfast Campaign—Bloodwolves

History of the Bloodwolf Mercenary Guild

Fall of Aureny, 790gcy (Gods Calendar)

Three years ago Theron recruited mercenaries claiming to want to hunt orc. He formed a band of mercenaries, which including Warren and Marc. Successfully leading the group during an orc ambush, thanks in part to Father Dominick, a traveling Paladin who happened upon them.

In a bizarre set of circumstances, the band managed to rescued dwarven slaves, defeat the Frowning Mountain orcs, kill devils summoned by a dwarf warlock, and delivered a succubus back to the abyss. A chain of events started because of a cambion's wager over the soul of a girl who claimed to be Marc's long dead child.

He discussed with Dominick the idea of hunting demons which Dominick quickly shot down, so he declared that they would instead hunt gnolls and possibly some orcs near his intended destination, but in truth, he continued to planned for a demon hunt into the Winterwoods. The expedition got off to a rocky start when Father Dominic offered a cold-iron necklace to Marc's daughter, Sasha, as a gift. Secretly, he meant to confirm if the girl was human with the cold-iron, but a drug induced Marc mistakenly thought the paladin was showing interest in his ten-year-old daughter. Things turned further disastrous after the expedition got underway and they tracking gnolls into the Winterwoods. Winter witches.

Father Dominick attempted to speak with a group of three Winterwood hags. Unfortunately, Marc attacked as Dominick talked to the leader of the witches when a lesser demands the elder allow her to kill the men encroaching on their territory. They defeated the three, but in the brief struggle, their ranks were reduced from fifteen to seven. The expedition ended less than an hour after it started.

In 791gcy, a year after the failed expedition and the departure of Marc, Theron, Father Dominick, and Sasha formed a much more successful mercenary group, now lead by Dominick, that called themselves the Bloodwolves. Theron claimed they were demon hunters, but encounter neither demon nor devil since the chance meeting at Hope Village.

Not until 794gcy, when they joined forces with a group of Winter's Haven refugees fleeing towards safety lead by Erik Bennett and a band of former bounty hunters.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Morgan Roberts—"Digging Your own Grave"

Journal Entry for Mysterious Tavern Campaign

After a few months break, the mysterious tavern has started up once again. A lot changed at the end of the last arc. and a lot has stayed the same. The Lich was defeated by the makeshift party, we freed lady Aimee from her centuries-old imprisonment in the ruby ring. Unfortunately, The lich wasn't destroyed completely and she escaped with little Lucy. Morgan reveals his feelings to Ichabod but not long into their journey they are separated after she was caught up in a magical portal. The remainder of the party has to continue on its journey with few clues and fewer options.

He had been digging for a while in the spot where the woman had been before she disappeared. The soil was cold and damp as it clung to Morgan's hands, face and the tunic he wore over his chain shirt.  Most of the grime that covered his muscular form were provided by the oversized fox that had recently joined them on their fool's errand. The smell of the musty unearthed soil put Morgan on edge because of his recent dreams, but desperation had a hold of him, and he couldn't imagine that he could stop knowing this was the last place she was before she disappeared. Even in the pirate's innermost thoughts, it was difficult to form the syllables of the sorceress's name. He had spent a great deal of his life cultivating his disdain for people who possessed magic. It pained him that he couldn't rid himself of his old animosity for the people he cared for; not Antoinette; not Lucy; and not her. He asked himself was his current efforts because he cared about them or an attempt to compensate for the guilt.

In short order—or maybe after a very long time, he was unable to recall just now—the little hole had become a small burrow in the corner of the cave room. The shaft descended beneath the floor at a sharp angle, still far enough to leave Morgan turban deep into the pit. As the hole expanded, Morgan tried to chase off the thought that his concern for Antoinette and Aimee were afterthoughts, a deception to convince himself that it wasn't insanity over the dark haired woman that gripped him.

He paused a moment mindlessly mixing the dirt on his hands with that on his leather leggings in a futile attempt to clean away the worse of the mud. His thoughts nagged at him as he again busied himself with his task. That the task was his duty wasn't at all true, wasn't even a worthwhile endeavor. Morgan figured if he thought it long enough it might become true enough for him to believe. It was a pleasant lie to himself as opposed to considering the similarities of his situation to his fathers.

Creeping up from its hiding place in the back of Morgan's mind came one of Ghalib sharp barbs delivered in his father's annoyingly amused raspy voice. "O'course it be an idjut like ye t'be diggin' y'own grave pursuin' a witch cunt ye sweet on."

Before he could start in on dear old dad's imaginary voice, he was thrown suddenly backward. Snapped out of his reverie, he realized he was being pulled by the scruff of his neck up and out of his recent excavation. Too exhausted to fend off whatever had likely made a snack of the halfling before sneaking up on him, he was dragged helplessly up and out of the small pit by the creature. The beast panted quietly, despite what appeared to be little effort on its part. His own breathing was still labored from his previous efforts, and he lay helpless and weary on his back awaiting his fate.

Moments later, two heads crowded his vision, one of a halfling, Vira or something like that, other of a fox, it had a silly name he'd failed to remember. They started telling him something, but it was drowned out by the sound of falling dirt and stone collapsing nearby and the gravelly mound of dirt he was pulled onto was distractingly comfortable as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

SW Age of Rebellion—Taraest Marlov

Character created for the quarterly Semi-Organized Play Starwars Firestorm.

Species: HumanGender: Female
Age: 28Height: 180 cmBuild: Bulky
Hair: BlondEyes: Green
Notable Feature: Speaks with a heavy accented

Career: EngineerSpecializations: Saboteur
Duty: Support
Motivation: Quest
Thrill. PC seeks out thrills and dangers, and war has it in great supply.


Taraest Marlov was born on her families farm on Lathol, one of two daughters and the youngest of all six siblings. She enjoyed helping her father when he repaired the equipment around the farm when she wasn’t rough-housing with the boys or other choirs around the farm. When her father heard news of the Empire seizing farmland, he sold their land to a neighbor who thought to ride it out. Their neighbor had been eyeing the property for years and paid enough for one of them to relocate to Garel. Her father made the decision to stay, sending off with the promise he would earn the money and soon re-join them. It was a promise he would never keep, soon after they left, he was shipped off to a resettlement camp where he would later die.

Despite being a frequented spaceport, Garel suffered economically under the Empire. In Taraest time on Garel, she demonstrated that what lacked in formal education she more than made up for with natural talent, tenacity, and questionable behavior. The aging spaceports became a nearly endless supply of old and broken electronic equipment for Taraest to hone her skills with computers and other mechanical equipment. Within several years she became proficient at creating and repairing things out of spare as well as dismantling valuable bits of technology. Unfortunately, the owners of said equipment were less than approving. Her crimes eventually caught up with her after she fell in with a group of thugs claiming they acted in support of the rebellion. She didn’t particularly care if they were or not; they were stealing, causing wanton destruction, and managing to stay one step ahead of trouble. That suited her just fine.

The gang eventual stirred up a loth-rat nest after rigging a transport ship to explode. It galled the local Imperial forces; they hunted down the entire group, and the survivors hauled in for questioning. The Empire likely intended to coerce a confession out of the would-be freedom fighters before putting put them to death. They would have if they hadn’t also drawn the attention of the actual rebel forces operating in the sector. A rebel agent aided their escape and then offered them the opportunity to truly join the rebellion against the Empire. That suited Taraest just fine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

CofD:Marshall Barsoom—"Tough Call"

Marshall picked up his phone. He recognized the number; answered it anyway.

(on phone)
Hello, This is Marshall with…(sigh.) Hi, Maya…No, I can talk now…Yeah, I took a few weeks leave…Yeah, Paris. I know I’m not in the Airforce anymore. You spoke to Matt..? I know he is your son-in-law too, that’s not the point…He didn’t need to tell you…I know he isn’t one of my airmen…What command voice?! (deep breath.)…Do you mind if I put you on speaker..?

Marshall tapped an icon on his phone. “Okay. I’m sure you didn’t call to have this argument again, so why did you call..?”

Maya answered, “No I didn’t. Matt sounded concern when he talked to you a few days ago. He said you were planning to go to Saudi Arabia after you left France.”

“That’s right,” he said crisply.

“Our son-in-law thought you sounded like you didn’t plan on coming back.” She spoke as if he’d already confirmed the notion. It was one of the things the aggravated him when they were married.

Marshall offered an explanation in a guileless voice, “I’ve taken a few language courses online, and I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to immerse myself.” He could sense his ex’s expression tighten after his lame attempt at levity. The corner of his lip uncurled from its smirk as his voice took on a serious tone, “I’m just looking for closure.”

In disbelief, Maya returned, “Closure? We lost our daughter, Marshall. Now you’re intent on wallowing in self-pity and wandering into the desert to die.” He couldn’t dispute what her words; Maya was right. She had a habit of being right more often than was absolutely necessary.

He spoke in a somber tone, “You don’t understand. That night, I lost everything. I saw…I did something terrible and haven’t been able to move on from that night in Khafji. I grasped a few of the crumbling pieces for a while, but everything else, everyone else…” he paused, “continued on without me.”

“You’re right,” the frustration evident in her voice. “I can’t understand. You wouldn’t tell me, remember? You just put on a brave face and tortured yourself for the last twenty-five years because of a lapse in judgment that got you a medal.”

“And, I still can’t tell you.” Marshall knew she would take it the wrong way, she always had, but he preferred her anger over whatever potential reaction she’d have to the truth. “I need to confront my demons, and I need closure.”

After a long silence, Maya replied in a flat voice, “Fine. Don’t talk to me, but think about our foundation, Whatever you think you did or didn’t do, there are others that have gone through what you have.” After a brief silence she added, “Marshall, talk to someone.”

“Yeah. I will. Say hello to Bill for me,” he said sounding exhausted.

He sat thinking about the last thing his ex-wife said; he’d met people who had also survived a similar experience. Unfortunately, He helped destroy a book they were after and was sure he had burned that bridge. The image of Shandi pop into his mind; he cringed visibly at the dark thought.

Marshall tapped the red hang up button on his cell then uncocked his sidearm before placing it on the desk in his hotel room. He looked down at the gun which now lay between the phone, his passport and the one-way ticket to Saudi Arabia. He thought, “Maybe I should iron the shirt for the flight in the morning.”

Marshall was halfway through ironing his clothes when his cell started buzzing. Unknown number; answered it anyway.

(on phone)
Hello, this is Marshall Barsoom with the Homefront Foundation…Oh! Hi,Natalie. No, I can talk now. I’m just doing a little ironing…