Archive for July, 2011

Skysplinter Nights

31 Jul

The RPG club at the university I go to has an excellent story-based LARP that they run year round. It’s a gritty backstabbing viper’s nest of a game in which ten to twenty nobles take turns hosting elaborate dinner parties, which are inevitably the sites of treason, adultery, betrayal, murder, and worse. I have the dubious distinction of ending the year with the most assassinations under my belt, and have been told very politely by multiple people that I’m an excellent asshole. My first character finally pissed off enough people that he got himself exiled (nearly executed, but he managed to wriggle out of it), only to seize power in a foreign territory and send an agent who managed to top off all the people responsible for his conviction and and drive his nemesis (actually just a spiteful warrior woman he was fond of tormenting) insane. And he actually got his exile lifted, but I didn’t bother to bring him back–there was only one session left, and I liked the new character enough that I decided to finish the arc with him instead.

LARPing gets a bad rap, and for good reason: if you want to play a standard swords-and-sorcery game focusing on a small group of characters, like the majority of roleplayers, there’s probably not a whole lot of nuance that can’t be replicated sitting around a table. But if you want to do the above kind of game, where there’s a bunch of characters all scheming and maneuvering around one another, there’s no better way to do it. And it’s kind of nice to spend the whole night in-character, especially if, like me, you’re fond of playing assholes.

Anyway, when the school year’s arc ended, we decided to do a one-off three-session arc in a Sci-Fi setting. I drafted up a campaign setting that I ended up calling Skysplinter Nights, which I may go over in a later post. At the moment, here’s an image I did for the event notifications:

Pictured is the bar the arc takes place in–the picture resembles the actual facade of the room we use for the LARP, which you see a lot of, because the area outside the building is where you go to threaten, scheme, blackmail, and murder other players–actions that, if not the meat of the game, are certainly obligatory courses. The bar is owned by my character, Nick Cavetti, who owes 42.5% of it to his loan shark gangster of a partner. The location of the bar is the Rotten Core, a section of the city that used to house the secondary power core. Emphasis on, “used to.” There was an incident in which the whole damn place melted down, and now the area is inhabited by squatters and crooks who want to get away from all those chafing “laws” and “peacekeepers” that burden the rest of the city. It’s a good place for gambling, prostitution, illegal substances, and the trade of extremely unlicensed body augments.

 

JaR: Icewind Dale 2, Part 2

28 Jul

EDIT: Stream’s moved to tomorrow. That’s Friday, same time, same place.

The video’s a tiny bit choppy, which is because all of this footage was actually lost. To recover it, I had to run it through a dozen different programs, some of which weren’t designed for handling video of any kind and at least two of which were Minesweeper clients. In the future, this is fixed.

Stream today at 5:00 PM PST, www.livestream.com/chocolatehammer.org. I’ll be uploading this and future episodes to YouTube–the audio was too messed up on the first FRAPS recording to bother, so I’ll re-record a YouTube version of the first half hour before I start putting up the new episodes. More info tomorrow.

 

Jibar vs. Rutskarn: Icewind Dale 2

21 Jul

Reminder: I’ll be streaming single-player Dark Messiah of Might and Magic at 5:00 PM PST today, Thursday 21. Stream location is www.livestream.com/chocolatehammer.

Yeah, bet you didn’t see this one coming.

Icewind Dale 2 is an RPG of the old Baldur’s Gate school: top-down, 2D graphics, dialog trees, no bloody cover mechanics. It’s not a work of art–but the story is fun in a cheesy way, the combat is entertaining, and the co-op mode is surprisingly engaging. That is, when Jibar isn’t being a complete goddamned turdfoot and filling up half the team with okay, you know what, just watch the video.

Caveat: I am aware that the video quality’s a little low and the FRAPS counter is rendered on top of the game in some parts. At least one of those things will be fixed in future recording sessions, and I’ll look into the other.

As promised, here are the omitted biographies:

Jibar:

Lost shortly after birth by a mother with a particularly short memory and raised in the forest by a pack of dire armadillos, the feral dwarf Grumblearse became a local legend for both his savagery in battle with invading bandits and his ability to smell like he had been dead for several long months. One day, when surprising a group of unwanted travelers, he was surprised to discover that they were in fact a knight and his herald. Befriending them, somehow, the knight swore to civilize the dwarf and bestowed upon him his first name: “Grumblearse.” Now he travels with them as a friend and useful ally.

Rutskarn:

Tea the Bearded Lady and Greyby the World’s Tallest Dwarf are bosom companions. As junior members of the world-famous Rynglyng Brothers One-Ring Dwarven Circus, Tea and Greyby lived piteous and miserable lives in the shadow of speedfreak strongmen and incontinent elephants—part of the Freak Exhibit, a sideshow to amuse patrons that had gotten lost between the privy and the stand that sold caramel-dipped turkey legs. Greyby and Tea found different ways of coping with their unpleasant existence: Greyby prayed to the god known as the Painbearer (“The only one who really understands me”), and Tea read whatever volumes she could get her slightly hairy hands on. One wonderful day, both realized they had unlocked gifts within themselves—rare, beautiful gifts that they could use to forge a better life. So they blew the circus owners to bloody bits and legged it to the nearest dock.

Reginald Cuftbert broke a bottle over the last guy who asked for his life’s story. The bottle was made of cast iron.

 

Santa Almart

20 Jul

The new Jibar vs. Rutskarn series has been successfully recorded, about an hour’s worth of it, and that’s all edited and ready to launch tomorrow night. I’ll also be using that post to talk about Bootlord, and what I have planned for that series. In the meantime: here’s some a rough sketch of the character art I’m working on for one of my Santa Alma RPG groups.

I’m running two groups of players through Santa Alma. Pictured here is the Monday group, whose campaign I refer to as Eyes on the Ball–hence the caption. From left to right: apparently-12-year-old vampire looking for his sister, chain-smoking smooth-talking former music industry executive, hair metal werewolf, one-eyed pothead made of cast iron, fishman private investigator, nameless goblin cowboy(girl?). Fun fact: the players in this group are 4/6 female, and the characters are an exactly equal blend of male, female, and who-the-hell-knows.

Also, here’s an in-universe poster for a vampire punk band that looks like it’ll end up being one of the party’s ultimate rivals. Don’t judge it too harshly: it was supposed to just be a doodle, and then it was finished, and I realized I had just doodled for a few hours without actually polishing anything or fixing anything. I’ll probably do up a final version that I’ll post later.

As a GM, it’s important to have a setting I can have fun with, and I’ve been having a blast running Santa Alma so far. It helps that I’ve got great players–players who can bring their own ideas and aspirations to the table. For example, one of the chief goals of the party is establishing themselves as a solid live music act, and their secondary goal–which they devised after getting a taste of the in-game radio station, which is run by a lunatic DJ that only plays salsa music–is to reform the radio as well. It will be interesting to see how this seemingly benign goal will dovetail with all of the scheming, gang activity, conspiracies, and murder that the rest of the party is perpetrating/getting involved with.

 
 

The Pig Girl

18 Jul

The story The Pig Girl, which I have published serially for many months (its length protracted by its irregular update schedule), has been a failure—one that is every bit as instructive as it is embarrassing. It’s a shame, because I think it had a lot of promise. There were some ideas and characters that I was very eager to work with, and some of them didn’t turn out too bad, but the final product just didn’t have the cohesion and momentum it needed to survive. There was no smooth, logical progression from interesting event to interesting event, only a sluggish jumble of things happening before other things happened to someone else, somewhere, at some indeterminate point on a timeline. As a result, I—and most probably the readers—lost interest before anything could be resolved, which, at this point, would discourage me from resolving them. Or at least, from writing another half-dozen chapters of it. I’ll do my best to wrap up who the characters were and what was going on below.

For those of you who liked the story, I’m sorry that I can’t provide a good ending for it, but I just feel that I’ve botched the wind-up so badly that it’s not worth making the pitch. For those of you who liked the characters, don’t be too upset about that—I’m sorting this under “Scrapped Project,” and I’ve got no compunctions about cannibalizing characters, jokes, and plot points from scrapped projects. For example, the character Trenchcoat from Vatsy and Bruno was originally one of several antagonists in a comic I did twenty to thirty pages of before abandoning. Actually, that project yielded a few other characters I plan to use at some point, so I shouldn’t talk too much about it. Anyway, regarding Pig Girl: Reginald and Victor will certainly be resurrected, perhaps even with those names, and I’ll keep the file on Lottie and her toy open as well.

Now, let’s resolve some of the story elements of Pig Girl. Some of this stuff is great big mystery territory, and some of it is, “should have just gone ahead and established this one day one,” material.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Cuftbrute

14 Jul

We found this guy putting grenades in the pockets of our ISP. This may or may not be related to our downtime, and is most definitely related to my sleeping with a gun under my pillow.

The good news is that the site is working again. The bad news is that oh god take cover the gods quake with anger begin the cutting that they may gorge themselves, and be satisfied, and turn their wrathful gaze from our unworthy hides

I’ll be putting down PG tomorrow night. Starting next week, it’ll be a suite of fresh series, including the new Dark Messiah stream/upload series and something to replace the serial fiction feature.

 

JvR: Dark Messiah

09 Jul

After recording this episode of JvR, Jibar made me a little promise. I didn’t get the chance to record his exact oath, so I’ll have to paraphrase a bit, but the soul of it was this:

“I am never, ever playing that again. If you try to make me, I will eat my own hands to escape. I will be like a coyote.”

After watching this video, perhaps you’ll see why. If you’ve ever wanted to see Jibar actually angry, now’s your opportunity.

Watched it? No? Then watch it. Then come back for the disclaimer. You need to experience it as Jibar and I did before you get to read the next part.

Okay, now that you’re done, Jibar’s old SR2 character naked and greasy sitting on your chest. There, that’s to punish the people skipping ahead without watching the video.

Anyway. After watching it a few times, I think maybe Jibar’s swift strikes didn’t hurt me because I was the soldier class. This is strange, because:

1.) In the single-player mode, regular attacks work fine against armored opponents

2.) It may actually work if you strike them from behind? Maybe?

3.) Look closely at the first engagement. There is clearly blood flying up from Jibar when I hit him head-on, even though I may or may nto be hurting him. So, mixed messages.

Also, to quote my own video description:

We didn’t quite do it justice, but trust me, even with a full server and players who know what they’re doing, the multiplayer in this game is wretched. I was peeling off successful stealth kills as an assassin for like ten minutes straight, and even THAT was about as rewarding as beating Akinator with “that woman from my Hitman stream.”

So naturally, once I’ve got the Dark Messiah stream going, I’m probably going to play a multiplayer game with viewers, and I’m going to try to con Jibar into playing as well. Yeah, wish me luck on that one, because it’s technically against my religion to grief a guy with no hands and I don’t want to give up that part of my culture.

 

 

Hitmens

08 Jul

Thought I’d post this–I uploaded my first two White House attempts to YouTube. The final attempts and last mission will also be uploaded shortly.

 
 

Website Works (?)

05 Jul

Okey-doke, the website is apparently functional again, so that’s the good news. The unprecedented second good news is that there’s going to be a major content overhaul coming soon. Hitman is (just about) over, World Creation is over–I just need to wrap up Pig Girl and the current stable of offerings will be finished. Which will allow me to announce a set of all-new series which I think you’re going to like.

Here’s the immediate plan: I get to work on resolving Pig Girl within the next week, week and a half, and Thursday I do a special Hitman episode at the usual time and place. After that, all sorts of brand-spankling, jaw-draping, head-slappin’ new stuff. Yeah, I’m excited.

Can’t talk right now–gotta get back to work. Stay tuned.