Archive for December, 2011

Site RP, Yew Nears, Necronomicon

31 Dec

As the holidays are wrapping up, and some off-site drama is settling down, I’m putting the finishing touches on the site-wide roleplaying game I mentioned. Right now, I’m thinking the format will almost be similar to a Werewolves game: turn-based, potentially asynchronous gameplay encompassing a large group of players. Rules-light is the order of the day, with more of an emphasis being placed on story development and interplayer coalitions than roll-style rules checks. I’m going back and forth on whether to have mechanics at all–it’d be a bit of a logistical trick for me to keep track of, because I anticipate a wide player base, but I’ve got a couple ideas I think bear further consideration.

It will be set in the same dark humor steampunk Europa of Von Rutskarn’s Magical Murder Tour; indeed, if you survived that game, you can play a continuation of the same character. There will be a central conflict that your character can enter into or ignore, as suits their temperament. The post with setting details will go up Sunday, and with any luck, I’ll have rules and character creation by then as well.

Two more quick things:

1.) I won’t be around on New Years’, but if you’re spoiling for something to do and/or watch, Josh is evidently streaming Saints Row the Third. He’ll kick off at 7PM PST; check it out right here.

2.) I received a Kindle, and may share my thoughts on the device eventually, but there’s one quick complaint I’d like to dash off about it: it speaks to me in a hundred dead and rotted tongues, promising the gift of oblivion in reward for my faithful service. I messaged tech support, and it’s apparently an issue with the cover I’m using:

(Actually, I just took a Sharpie and a sharp pen nib to the plain orange cover it came with. If I can get a better picture of the finished version, I’ll throw that up as well/instead–it really does look better in person. Most annoying part was getting out the non-Euclidean protractor to do the inside designs.)

 

Holmes for the Holidays

27 Dec

Finally got the next video up. It’s still uploading as I post this, but it should squak through shortly.

 
 

Lovecraftcraft, Part 1

23 Dec

If you’re in my Monday RPG, you’re not allowed to read this article. Stop it now. It does seem a bit wasteful to drop the bold text for the benefit of exactly six people, but there you go.

I’m not sure there’s any kind of media or storytelling that’s not improved by including evil, inscrutable godlike horrors. The internet meme brigade has long since discovered that Cthulhu is the universal seasoning for anything from children’s merchandising franchises to nerdy-ass card games to grilling sausages, and while they’ve managed to sort of ruin it the way they inevitably sort of ruin everything, the idea of twisted entities of great power beyond the comprehension of mortal beings is still pretty engaging.

I knew I wanted to include a few twisted dark pseudo-Lovecraftian godlike entities in my current roleplaying campaign, Santa Alma, with all the characteristics and tropes that entails: things with malign and uncaring personalities, forms that cause madness in those who behold them, armies of cult worshippers, designs that don’t exactly cheer the soul, etc. But as I sat down to write these, I was very conscious of a problem that comes up when you try to tap into that general mode: there’s a tendency to hew too close to the Lovecraftian clichés. There’s this image of the amorphous blob of tentacles, swirling vortices, lots of eyes, tendrils, slimy skin, elongated rubbery appendages, strange colors, rows of teeth, flagella, octopus arms, also tentacles, that pops into the mind as soon as you drop the words “cult” or “madness”. Those are all characteristics that immediately communicate cosmic horror to the audience, but they also make the influence, while worthy, a little too explicit. What I wanted was to get across the same dread and horrified wonderment Lovecraftian beasts provoke without bringing onboard any of the classic motifs. So I sat down with my campaign notebook and a pen and started writing.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Furlock Sholmes

22 Dec

EDIT: Yeah, it’s still uploading. Internet is slow here.

So, what’s the first bit of content after I announce my brand-spanking cash-banking kinder, gentler site direction with more of an emphasis on creative projects and less of an emphasis on Let’s Plays that I have to edit? An LP. That I had to edit.

See, we needed an interseason replacement for Spoiler Warning, and we weren’t sure if Josh was gonna show up, and someone suggested Sherlock Holmes, and…okay, bottom line is, I ended up kind of sort of starring in and then editing a Let’s Play after I said that was a thing I wasn’t gonna do so much. And here’s where it is.

(Or, rather, where it will be. I’m leaving it to upload overnight.)

So, that’s the bullsham we’re doing today. Tomorrow will be a post about creating a Cthulhu mythos without creating a Cthulhu mythos, and also, the second episode of this. See you then, I guess?

 
 

Fanart/Stream

21 Dec

EDIT: Been having some virus troubles. Stay tuned for updates.

The fanart from Aunty Paladin has been uploaded. The only thing left to upload is the GM retrospective, which is still being compiled.

I’ve got some content that’ll be ready to roll Thursday morning, but due to scheduling, there’ll be no official stream tomorrow. I might do a demo stream of SR3 to see if I can get it running at a decent framerate, but it’d be off an existing save and would probably be pretty brief.

I require additional sleep. So, time to do that.

 
 

Marathon Complete

19 Dec

Aunty Paladin’s RPGs and Kid-Helping Extravaganza has completed. Thanks to readers from here, Twenty Sided, Something Awful, and Reddit, we raised $5,645 for charity–and, consequentially, played RPGs for 112 hour straight, averaging about 3.66 hours of sleep per person per day for the core crew. So, yeah, when we do this next year, I’m thinking we’re going to need about twice as many volunteers. For many time slots it was physically impossible to get more than a skeleton crew on call at a time, which means that when we were finally compelled to step out to sleep, we felt like we were deserting and tended to wake up out of guilt after a couple fitful hours anyway. I myself was on camera for about 90 hours, and got somewhere around 18.5 hours of sleep over the course of the whole marathon.

Doing this kind of stunt messes with your head in a lot of ways. There’s the way you’re awake from sunset one day to noon two days later, which messes with your perception of days–actually, we had to put up a paper sign next to the clock that told us what day it was at any given time. There’s the way you feel like you’re being watched at all times, even when you’re sleeping. There’s the way you lose track of when you last ate, or showered, or went to the bathroom. There’s the tremendous burnout that comes at the odd hour long after the relief players had to go home when you bite the bullet and, among the two other on-call people who have also been awake for too damn long, volunteer to be the guy who has to improvise and maintain yet another extemporaneous adventure after you ran out of creativity two hours ago and energy ten. Also the cramps from sleeping in the closet, because that’s the only non-occupied sleeping space that’s got any sort of sound dampening.

Over the course of this week, we’ll be posting up links to .pdfs of some of the games we ran, along with some of the kickass fanart we received from our viewers. There’ll also be a little info on the RPG I designed for the marathon, as well as the RPG I plan to run for the website.

Right now, I’m going to go back to bed, because I’m still clearing out my considerable sleep deficit. Catch you later.

 

Aunty Paladin: Schedule of Fanservice

11 Dec

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ll be playing/GMing various games for a LiveStreamed Child’s Play charity marathon, found here. I’ll actually be kicking off at 8:00 AM PST Monday morning by GMing a rousing game of Maid: The RPG, and will be running many games for the week that follows. Throughout the gaming, I’m going to be running/playing stuff that’s relevant to the interests of longtime readers. You’ll get a heads-up on specific timeslots via Twitter as the situation develops, but here’s a rough breakdown:

Monday: Will be playing Cahmel as a 2nd Edition Fighter. Should be around 11AM PST.

Tuesday: Will be playing Kahdzbar. Game and time TBA.

Wednesday: Will be running a game set in the most recent World Creation series. Game and time TBA.

Thursday: Will be running a d20 Modern game set in the unnamed dystopia of Vatsy and Bruno. Time TBA.

Friday: Will be playing Reginald Cuftbert. Game and time TBA.

Of course, all of these plans are contingent on us actually making it to those days, which is contingent on how much money you guys give. To charity. To help sick children. Via the handy donation link on the sidebar. Check it out.

 

Aunty Paladin’s RPGs and Kid-Helping Extravaganza

07 Dec

I’m speaking to you now because there’s a good chance that you, the reader, falls into one of these camps:

-Likes watching jackasses play weird tabletop RPGs
-Likes watching me, king of jackasses, play and run weird tabletop RPGs
-Likes playing weird tabletop RPGs that they’ve never played before
-Likes helping sick children and stuff

If you’ve got at least one of those characteristics, then let me be the bearer of kickass news: I’m going to be on the crew of Aunty Paladin’s RPGs and Kid-Helping Extravaganza, a Livestreamed charity event that will see a crew of gamers playing increasingly weird (and a few homebrewed) roleplaying games. How long we play, and how weird the games will get, depends on how much you guys donate to Child’s Play through the direct donate button on the right side of our page. If you scroll past the Cast post, you’ll see the donation increments we’ve got set up. The event will run to Friday at the maximum (with possible voluntary continuations into Saturday and Sunday, if we’re kept afloat), which means we’ll be playing up to 112 hours of roleplaying games live.

An example of the some of the odd or awful games we’ll be playing (in addition to more standard fare, or some obscure but otherwise solid games):

  • Maid, a game in which you play a pastiche of an anime or manga maid who seriously just takes care of a master for the whole session. It’s actually a lot of fun.
  • Paranoia, a game of backstabbing, treachery, and <<CLEARANCE LEVEL INSUFFICIENT; PLEASE REPORT TO DEBRIEFING BOOTH FOR IMMEDIATE TERMINATION>>
  • Buck Rogers vs. The Han, published by TSR as part of its “we’re still slightly more relevant than this license” series of RPGs.
  • FATAL, the king of awful roleplaying games, a game that has caused literal physical discomfort in almost everyone I’ve explained it to. I’d almost recommend you don’t Google it. Not at work, anyway.

 

Plus: we’ll be demoing several homebrewed systems as the marathon continues and posting up the rules documents as .pdfs. I will be running, and subsequently posting, up to two games as long as the marathon continues long enough for me to get to them. They are:

Problem Solvers, an action-movie type RPG that has only two skills, Murder and Nonmurder.

M’aerie Suue, in which the players create a diverse team of reprehensible fanfic-esque Mary Sues on a quest to save the world, which will take them between their world–the world that revolves around their shenanigans and prestige–and another, parallel world that’s less inclined to put up with them.

Again, we’ll only be playing/posting up those games if we’re buoyed up by enough donations. The marathon starts on December 12th, 8:00 AM PST. I’ll field any questions you might have in the comments.

 

Dark Messiah Multiplayer Game

07 Dec

Now that the Dark Messiah stream is over (see here to watch the 1:40:00 long video), it’s time to finally plan that reader deatchmatch game. So the question is:

1.) Who here owns the game?

and

2.) When would they be free?

Discuss.

 

 
 

New Order

07 Dec

Exit November, enter December.

As I’d predicted, NaNoWriMo ate up most of the free time I had–but it was a success. I produced 50,000 words of original fiction that was both invaluable from a student writer standpoint and absolutely worthless from any other. I had originally intended to post the document in its entirety, but I scrapped that plan when it became clear that nothing I’d written was worth any of your time. It meanders, it’s bloated, it’s confusing, it’s occasionally contradictory, and it was edited only enough to make sure that I was typing in English, not Tongues. Oh, and it didn’t conclude neatly, which meant if you suffered through all 50,000 words you’d get the thrill of a nonclimax. Upshot is, I’m glad I did it, but I’m melting the manuscript down for scrap and keeping the ideas and characters for some other time

Now, to talk about what’s going to be happening with this website.

People who’ve been following the site for a while–and I’ve been running it for three years now–have noticed a pretty damn noticeable dropoff in the regularity of content posting. I’m not sure when output it hit its peak–I’m going to say probably about a year and a half ago–but ever since, posts have been getting squirrely with regards to when and how often they go up, and will often be delayed for weeks at a time. Entire series have been scrapped, with or without explanation. I think I’ve managed to get through maybe 30 Oblivion posts in the same time, or significantly more, than it took me to get through the run of 50 Morrowind ones.

Part of this is that I’ve gotten progressively busier, but of course, that’s not a complete explanation. I managed to crank out 50,000 words last month. That’s about 11,000 raw words per week, which, even accounting for editing, would boil down to a significant amount of site content. It seems like I have the physical and creative resources to maintain a good level of output. And here’s the thing: I want to.

So, yeah–just in case you thought this was leading up to a, “I’m abandoning the site,” announcement, it’s not. I’m keeping the site. Moving on.

In retrospect, it’s pretty ridiculous how long it took me to realize why content’s been dropping off. Perhaps I had, but I didn’t want to face it–or perhaps I just had the introspection of a cokefiend howler monkey, because it seems pretty obvious to me right now. It’s not because I’m getting burnt out on writing things–I wouldn’t have tried last month’s stunt if that had been the case. It’s that I’m getting burnt out on my brand of Let’s Plays.The cycle of play game, record stuff from game, write/edit stuff about game has been going on in some capacity since June 2009, constantly, usually with multiple games at a time, and for some reason it’s taken me months to figure out that I need a break from it.

Now, there’s been non-videogame content that’s also had a staggered development cycle, yes–and the insidious thing is, that’s because of the LPs too. Something like 2/3 of my stuff over the past few years has been some kind of LP or another, and when I’m putting that stuff off because I’m burned out on it, the whole development cycle goes off. I used to have a very rigid schedule of what got posted when, and I even managed to keep to it, although I’d usually have at least one delay a week. That went out the window around the time the burnout began, and it was the harbinger of the content sloth. Plus, when writing most of the content on your site is just a little bit of a drag, you tend to associate the “Add New Post” page with not having a good time, and that does not do miracles for your output.

To be clear, when I say that LPs are getting old, I really just mean the text stuff and the video editing–the streams are fine, Spoiler Warning is fine, and both can continue indefinitely as far as I’m concerned. But that other stuff? Cahmel, Dwarf Fortress? Is going to take a break. It’s not going to be a permanent break, but it’s going to be a little while, yeah. I need to not worry about that stuff for a while.

Of course, the question is, what am I going to do with the site if I’m freezing DF and Oblivion?

Answer is, a few things. I’m probably going to keep making those comics, because those are fun. I’m going to sit down and figure out how to do more of the Choose Your Own Adventure stuff. I’m probably going to try a few more one-off soapbox posts or creative projects. I’ve got an idea for a site-wide RP that I’m working on. I’m going to post art when I’ve got it. There’s something that looks like it’s almost certainly going to be happening next week that you’ll be hearing about, and I’m excited about that. But mostly, I’m just going to try to relax and post some stuff that’s fresh and interesting to do.

I know a lot of people like Cahmel, and Dwarf Fortress–and I like them, too. If I didn’t like them, I never would have started them. I’ve just gotten kinda sick of the process of making them, that’s all. If I don’t have to worry about doing them for a while, I’ll probably get to the point where I’ll be fine picking them up and finishing them, and even starting new ones–it’s just a matter of recharging my batteries. So if you like that stuff, hang on for a while. I’ll get back to it eventually.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say for now, except that there is a stream today at the usual place (www.livestream.com/chocolatehammer), at 5:00 PM PST. Might be finishing Dark Messiah, and I’ll be talking about my prospects for the next stream as soon as I’ve confirmed that it’ll work.