#RPGaDAY 17: Funniest Game You’ve Played

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

Paranoia cover.Hands down, the funniest game I ever played was John Terra running Paranoia at OGC in New Hampshire. Which session of Paranoia, I cannot say, because I made it a point to play in his adventures year after year and they have run together in a glorious mish-mash of secret agendas, poorly understood prototype weaponry and keeping one worried eye on the number of clones remaining.

I was highly suspicious of Paranoia when I first played in one of John’s games. It seemed like a recipe for a miserable time of backstabbing and “ha ha, I win.” I forget how I got past that initial perception, but I did. The backstabbing still happened, but the community spirit at the table was persuasive, and John’s an amazing GM who does an amazing job of making player choices matter while including everyone who puts themselves forward to participate. And the adventures are littered with themed puns. I was puzzled by the year all the player characters were thinly veiled Red Sox team members, though.

#RPGaDAY 5: Most Old School RPG Owned

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

Before we go any further, I need you to brace yourself. We’ve already covered that the first role-playing game I ever played was third edition Dungeons & Dragons. That’s a simple defect, though, one that could be rectified by any right-thinking GM with their copy of the red box handy, right? Maybe someday, sure, but not yet. I’ve never played or owned an edition of Dungeons & Dragons prior to third. The vast majority of games I own date from the 1990s or later. I’m a true third wave player. That said, I do own a couple games that come from the old school, or at least grew up listening to stories from the good old days.

Ghostbusters RPG box cover.It should not surprise anyone that I treasure the original Ghostbusters box set from West End Games. I found it for a steal on eBay, misfiled in the art supplies category, or somewhere weird like that. Still in the original shrinkwrap, with pristine manuals inside, the equipment cards unpunched and, the most treasured of treasures, the ghost die — scroll down a bit to see Dungeon Mistress showing her die off. It’s old school in that it sprang forth in the heady days when anything seemed possible, and nothing had been done before, and it’s the prototype system that went on to power countless Star Wars campaigns.

I’ve never actually used it, mind, because I’ve always gone with GURPS and, more recently, Cinematic Unisystem for my Ghostbusters convention games, but I love going to the plot seeds section for ideas and characters to adapt to my needs.

Playing Labyrinth Lord with Lasoleg the Elf, Gringo the Halfling, Bob the Cleric and Pope the Dwarf. Fittingly, Dingus the Thief cannot be seen.

Left to right: Lasoleg the Elf, Gringo the Halfling, Bob the Cleric and Pope the Dwarf. Fittingly, Dingus the Thief cannot be seen.

The other old school title in my library is Labyrinth Lord. It’s a retroclone, rather than a vintage, but I maintain its heart is in the right place. I once ran a game of Labyrinth Lord, far longer ago than I realized until I dug up that post. It was . . . fine. Crunchier and fiddlier than I would want to deal with in a game system, but fine. And I say that recalling how Neil, the unpictured Dingus in the picture, remarked that style of rule set was really too simple for strategically interesting decisions. Neil is a 3.x/Pathfinder guru who published his own rules supplement, so you can make your own call on that.

Held Action Theatre 2: World’s Worst Dungeon Crawl Part 2

In episode 2 of Held Action Theatre, we present the second and altogether stranger half of the World’s Worst Dungeon Crawl. The most fateful, enraging words ever uttered in the history of fictional narratives intended to entertain pop up right where you expect them, so keep an ear out.

Also, Toby started tweeting @dungeonbastard during the game, and naturally, he had some pointers for the rest of the group:

Subscribe to Held Action Theatre in your favorite podcatcher with the podcast feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HeldActionTheatre. Look for the show in iTunes. Listen directly on the web at heldaction.wordpress.com.

“O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, performed by the MIT Concert Choir and made available by http://freemusicarchive.org/ under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/

Held Action Theatre 1: World’s Worst Dungeon Crawl Part 1

In episode 1 of Held Action Theatre, we kick off the show with the first part of the Dungeon Bastard’s World’s Worst Dungeon Crawl. It’s everything the title promises and more, as doughty Dungeon Master Dan leads the six of us into the depths of the death pits of the minotaur mage.

Hunter, Joey and Toby from Carrion Crown — two of whom you may have heard on Carnagecast — join forces with Jake, Clayton and yours truly to plumb the depths of railroad plotlines and undefeatable foes. Listen below!

Subscribe to Held Action Theatre in your favorite podcatcher with the podcast feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HeldActionTheatre. Look for the show in iTunes. Listen directly on the web at heldaction.wordpress.com.

“O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, performed by the MIT Concert Choir and made available by http://freemusicarchive.org/ under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/

Carnage Noir

Carnage Noir happened over the weekend. It was, in short, good. I ran my Ghostbusters adventure — more on that in a later post — played Igor in a Discworld game with a lisp deemed incomprehensible, hooted and hollered during the Cube of Death geek trivia game show in the theater, caught up with many friends I hadn’t seen in a while and generally had a very, very good time.

2012 was a little bittersweet for me. Carnage is leaving the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee to take up residence in Killington come November 2013. So all weekend, I had little “this is the last time” moments: the last breakfast at Gilman’s Diner, the last sprint through the hotel’s warren-like halls with its inexplicable nooks, zigs and zags, the last pick-up game in the lounge and many more. Conventions move from hotel to hotel all the time and I recognize there will be some new lounge in which to hang and play games, but Lake Morey will always be special to me.

The prospect of going to Carnage came completely out of the blue in 2005. Days beforehand, a friend asked, “Hey, do you want to go to this?” I had no idea what it was, but signed on. I’ve gone every year since, as a player, as a GM, as a staff member. Clearly I am stuck in deep with the Carnage culture and community.

And that’s where Carnage shines. It has an air of conviviality, the feeling of a far-flung clan of kindred souls — now flung as far as Arizona and British Columbia, thanks to Monk and Munk — gathering for three days out of which everyone’s going to wring what they love best. It’s not just about playing games. That’s the vehicle. What that vehicle transports is community, shared joy and a good time.

In my eight years at Carnage, I’ve watched lasting friendships form and children grow up. The kids playing in the pool a few years ago are now playing games and running them. The newest generation of Carnage GMs stepped up this year with Dungeons & Dragons and Clay-O-Rama. A couple of adults hovered nearby, but you know, they weren’t needed. Those young GMs knew exactly what they were doing. And that’s pretty awesome.

Here’s to Carnage on the Mountain at Killington next year. We’re going to help make it exceptional all over again.

[Green Mountain Game Days] Summer Game ‘n Grill 2011

Chuck (standing) checks in on the crew of the Burlington InSpectres franchise: Suri, Siobhan, Frank, Charlton, Joe and Andy (left to right).

Last Saturday at the Summer Game ‘n Grill, we got to play two, count ’em, two role-playing games. And I didn’t have a brain fart as embarrassing as at Lyndonville, so I’m counting the day as a complete win.

The early morning was spent setting up the grange — stocking the fridge and snack stand, shifting tables — and then waiting for a critical mass of role-players to arrive, namely the crew from central Vermont.

Once they rolled in, we got to business.
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Spilled Milk

Geek Mountain State just posted this: a Ghostbusters fan film, called Spilled Milk. Made by the Ghostbusters of New Hampshire costuming group, it stars the same as paranormal exterminators on their home turf, dealing with a pesky ghost in the local convenience store.

The thing that tickled my own brain about this short is a lot of it is how I picture GBI-Boston looking: the modernized Ectomobile with arcane equipment hanging off the top — though I still prefer the look of the Subaru wagon — and contemporary-styled people hauling the old school proton packs.

It’s a good chuckle during your lunch time.

On the Road to Raise Up the Ancient One

Here’s a quickie one-shot notion for you: a group of lifelong friends hop in the car to drive cross-country. They’re on the road to experience the event of a lifetime: their cult’s raising of an ancient one from the vasty deep of time and space.

Plot points of interest might include:

  • Racing fellow cultists from a rival lodge, competing to be the sacrificial offering that clinches the ceremony.
  • Staying ahead of the scattered agents of the Brotherhood of Argus, meddling do-gooders sworn to block the advances of the player character’s beloved ancient master.
  • Resisting the temptation of mutual deflowerment, making one unsuitable for sacrifice.
  • Living up to the expectations of one’s father or mother, a leading figure in the global cult organization.
  • Juggling the duties of the cult with one’s uninitiated significant other.

My friend Joe characterized it as a Call of Cthulhu / Ribbon Drive crossover. I couldn’t comment.

Gold: The DVD That Does Double Damage

The Gold DVD is now available for purchase through the official store.

Gold, tagline “the web series that does double damage,” is, depending on how you look at it, a comedy series, a cutting satire, a dramedy or even an exploration of what the world would be life if role-playing were a professional sport. It is also now out on DVD in a remastered presentation that also includes commentary tracks from the cast and crew. David Nett, executive producer of Gold, was kind enough to send me a review copy of the special edition to share with you all.

The first season of the series follows the members of the American team’s preparations for the World Goblins & Gold Role Playing Game Championship. The former leader of the Americans, Jonathan Drake, struggles to recover from an emotionally scarring incident during the semi-finals, while the team founders under the questionable training tactics of self-absorbed cad Richard Wright. Meanwhile, the rival British role-players have their own plans in motion to secure the gold in the tournament.

I followed Gold‘s starting about early 2009, a few episodes into its premiere release schedule. The series caught my attention then with its high production values, quirky premise — in essence, “what happens when role-players are exalted on the level of professional athletes?” — and best of all, straight-faced storytelling. Gold‘s a comedy, to be sure, but the laughs come from the absurdity of the situation when put in contrast with the sincerity of the characters. In that, it’s the same style of comedy you’ll find in a Ghostbusters or a This is Spinal Tap, where the characters remain earnest and believable throughout the story. That won me to Gold right away; the creators trusted their audience enough not to nod, wink and nudge their way through the season. They played the humor — and drama — straight instead of camping it up, making for a very satisfying series.

The DVD special edition of Gold is no less eye-catching than the show itself. The packaging looks every bit as professional as any DVD you might find on the shelves of your local media purveyor. And inside, there was even a couple feelies, a behind the scenes still from production and character Richard Wright’s card from the Gold Character Card Game, which is an actual factual game you can play, and no mere artifact from the universe of the series, as I first presumed.

On the disc itself, in addition to the prologue and six episodes of season one of Gold, you’ll find two sets of commentary tracks covering all seven parts of season one. The first track is with cast members, while the second is with the crew. As in any small production, the camaraderie that formed among the commentators shines through, making both tracks just as interesting and engaging as the series itself in their way. Other nifty features include a minisode, Palace of the Silver Princess, and a thank you from the cast and crew to donors, which is really touching, to see such a visible show of gratitude from creators to the people who made their DVD happen.

Combining the straight-faced absurdity of mockumentaries with the wry, self-reflexive perspective of creators who are hip deep in the role-playing hobby and love every bit of it, from critical hits to the funny little quirks and traditions of the players themselves, the first season of Gold is a solid success. It has real characters, drama and laughs. I can’t wait for the next season to begin streaming, whenever that may be.

The first season of Gold, including the teaser, trailer and prologue, is available for streaming from the series’ website, in addition to the DVD now up for sale in the official web store for $20 plus shipping, in addition to lots of other cool tidbits.

Additionally, I also happen to know that Gold‘s first season will screen in its entirety, prologue to final cliffhanger, at Carnage the 13th in Fairlee, Vermont, Saturday, November 6th at 11:30 PM. As the evening slot officially wraps up at 11:00, it’ll be a nice way to wind down from a hard day of gaming.