My friend Justin got a shout-out from Ars Ludi yesterday. Justin’s been getting back into role-playing games of late, and has taken a particular shine to Microscope, a world-building game. At Carnage this past weekend, he ran a Microscope session geared for kids, which it turns out has been a running thing for him, now that I see this photo of a game in Black Moon Games‘ Lunar Lounge.
I haven’t had the chance to try Microscope, but I think I’m going to have to make time for it, next time I cross paths with Justin. Maybe at one of Green Mountain Gamers’ events, like Winter Weirdness or the Spring Meltdown.
” . . . and it has tomatoes.”
“Tomatoes. Are those the soy or the lent in soylent?”
Another Carnage has come and gone. I spent most of the weekend working in the Snowshed, where the role-playing and card games were based, but I did manage to play some games:
Stetsons Are Cool was Robin Lea‘s Doctor Who-based adventure, in which we Time Agents tracked down a highly dangerous zygma beam device in ancient American west. I may have gone a little goofier with team leader Kip Brannigan than was appropriate, but I think he and medic Hanso had a good back and forth repartee going.
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game was a nice mid-slot game to play while working the information desk with Rod. He’s picked up the core set and Sleeper Below, so he played cultists and Cthulhu against the Syndicate’s tricks, and then Yog-Sothoth’s discard effects.
The Great Snowball Battle is a cute card game of little kids slinging snowballs at each other until everyone gets called inside for losing their hats, boots and gloves.
Ticket to Ride‘s Switzerland map is annoying.
Sentinels of the Multiverse was played with another old hand and two newcomers who originally thought we would play Citadels because I mumble; one of them dug it and the other one I probably ought to have handed a deck other than Bunker’s.
Gygax Magazine Pub Quiz, Saturday night in the bar, was a hoot. Our chief heckler of the last two years became the fill-in host, so the tables turned in a way. Next year, though, I look forward to James and Mary slipping back into the hosting duties.
The Game with No Name math trade netted me some great stuff, too. I turned HERO books, Gamma World and Revolution! into Netrunner cards — hello, Grimoire playset! — and a classic copy of Wiz-War, which I’ve wanted to try more of. Plus, after the trade concluded, I got to help a lady rebuild part of her Cheapass Games collection, after a tragic loss to fire. So this year’s trade was a win on multiple levels.
Our second year at Killington was good. We had a better idea of what to expect and how to do things. There were unanticipated questions, of course, with the resort and our attendees, but nothing outside the usual stretch. In the end, we had a great convention, and folks had fun. Mission accomplished!
The Illuminerdy has a nice post up called The Worm Latitudes, in which Nanouk synthesizes the Lambton Worm, European eels and the Sargasso Sea into a pleasing mix to add into your campaign, should it be running short on limbless squick. (Seriously, watch out for the lamprey photos. I hate those things.)
The Lambton Worm is a fine example of a Dragon or Wyrm or Sea Serpent that you can include in your game, and even features a built in tactic for slaying the beast at the climax.
And a death curse. Wow.
Who doesn’t love a death curse?
Click through for the full story of the Lambton Worm and how it might fit into your campaign. I’m currently trying to figure out to hook it into the Elder Worm mythos of the HERO universe. Two threads about immortal worms have to tie together eventually.
[*] Post title courtesy Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Fun fact: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner fits the theme tune of Gilligan’s Island pretty nicely.
Ray flies solo in Carnagecast this week as Andrew Valkauskas, designer of the Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok talks about his new card game Gulveig, what Carnage-goers can look forward to at the convention next month and plans for Fate of the Norns as a tabletop game property in 2015.
Maybe I shouldn’t break the fourth wall on this, but I don’t think it’s going to surprise anyone to learn that I ran the board on this episode. I made an inadvertent tribute to one of my favorite comedy personalities, Paul F. Tompkins, by blurt laughing off-mic when I was supposedly absent from the recording. We struggled with Skype on this as Andrew gamely kept shuffling his desktop arrangement to eliminate the issue, but I hope you’ll stick through the rocky audio.
Matt Golec of the Penny Press design team has hosted a no-ship math trade at Carnage for some years now, coming up with thematic names to make us grin as we figure out what games we don’t want to own anymore. This year, it’s the Game With No Name math trade.
A math trade is a method of swapping whereby people list what they don’t want, list what they would like to get in return from other swappers and a computer figures out the details. The “no ship” part means no one ships anything. Show up to Carnage, drop off what you’re swapping, pick up what you’re getting. Done!
This year, I staked claim to the entirety of the third page of the geek list. You will find a bevy of light, popcorn games like Chez Cthulhu and the Cheapass family. You will find thematic bundles of HERO and GURPS sourcebooks. You will find Werewolf: the Apocalypse and Spelljammer books because I’m acknowledging that I’m not going to get around to running games in most of these settings.
You will also find lots of good stuff for which to trade with other folks posting to the list. Check it out, and offer up what you’re not interested in playing anymore!
This week on Carnagecast, we talked with Al Spader from Jetpack Comics about Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, Wizards of the Coast’s new Adventurers League organized play structure and what Dungeons & Dragons-related fun folks can expect at A Fistful of Carnage in Killington this November.
Probably my favorite part of this episode was sitting more fully in the producer/engineer’s seat, which is my wheelhouse by trade and inclination. Ray leading the interview gave me the opportunity to focus more on making sure everyone sounded good. Sometimes this makes me feel hyper-critical, as I want to re-take every statement covered up by incidental noise, but having the freedom to watch the audio levels and listen for quality without also tracking the conversation and moving it forward was a rare treat for me, and greatly enjoyed.
I challenge you, the Superhero RPG GM, and/or player, to list between 5 and 10 Superhero comic books, and 5 to 10 Superhero live action or animated shows or films, that typify your style of Superhero RPG campaign.
Minimum is 5. Maximum is 10. This means you have to really think about the ones that best embody the type of Supers gaming you prefer. Who’s up for the challenge?
I feel like this could devolve into listing my favorite comics, rather than highlighting titles that convey the superhero ethos I want in the campaign I run, but let’s give it a try.
Starman: The Robinson and Harris series, in which Jack Knight is reluctant heir to his father’s legacy as Starman. One of the recurring motifs was a loving embrace of the goofiness of the Silver Age, and treating it straight-facedly. The straight face is key. The idea may be ludicrous, but the characters treat it as a credible threat all the same, not unlike a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
New Mutants: A school is always a useful campaign frame for superheroes. The player characters may not necessarily be students, but a school or training facility setting offers so many options for supporting characters, interwoven story lines and a home base to contrast the familiar with new locales.
Excalibur: The early days of the comic felt more like investigating weirdness with a sense of whimsy than the soap opera of the other X-Men books at the time. And whatever happened to W.H.O., the Weird Happenings Organization, led by Brigadier Alysande Stuart, speaking of useful frameworks that give the right mix of structure and leeway to player character groups?
TV Shows and Films
Heroes: It was riddled with plot holes and idiot balls, but the basic concept of every day people “breaking out” with astonishing powers is a solid hook, and puts the players on the ground floor of a new era in history.
X2: This was the X-Men film that had the right mix of the sensibility of heroes in the contemporary world and the sweet point in their development, beyond having just broken out, but still developing and making new allies
Paragons: Green Ronin’s toolkit setting book for Mutants & Masterminds needs a shout-out here. It includes so many different approaches to modern heroes, from the explorers of weirdness that early Excalibur exemplified to the classic superpowers appearing — or reappearing after an absence — in the everyday population. And it heavily influenced my Paragons of Freedom campaign.
Suppressed Transmission: Once weirdness is on the table, you have to deal in Suppressed Transmission. It’s a trove of McGuffins and sources of superpowers.
I desperately wish I had the time and energy to read the rules and conscript a playtest group, as I’ve been listening to people like Adam Scott Glancy, Kenneth Hite and Shane Ivey talk about the development of Delta Green‘s very own role-playing game for what seems like years now, on podcasts like Role Playing Public Radio and Unspeakable! I will settle for skimming the documents when I have a few minutes with a computer.
The rest of you, though, have until November 23rd to run some sessions using the beta rules and existing free Delta Green material like Night Floors and Music from a Darkened Room. and then get feedback to Arc Dream.
Our run-up to A Fistful of Carnage, Vermont’s tabletop game convention the first weekend in November on the slopes of Killington Peak, continues with a new episode of Carnagecast. We talk about the newly unveiled schedule of games, our first trips to Carnage and agree that, on reflection, taurine is not a meal.
The preparation for Carnage and professional commitments keeps me busy these days. After the convention, my plan is for the podcast will return to an every other Monday schedule. We’re on the final leg of 2014, but like winter, Carnage is always coming. It’s important to pace oneself through the winter and spring months in keeping the Carnage flame alive.