Archive for February, 2012

World Creation III: Introduction

23 Feb

The custom-brewed roleplaying game I’ve been running for the past six months is coming to a close. The players have just fought the three clones of Grigori Rasputin—commissioned by Josef Stalin, rendered from the pickled phallus of the deceased original—who had been the rulers of the city, and their employers, until they were betrayed over a conspiracy involving alien exiles and a Samoan vampire cult leader general. Currently, the party’s plan is to eradicate an army of hobo zombies, defuse the gang of WASP bloodsuckers lead by a psychotic analogue of June Cleaver, play in a rock concert with the aim of undermining an ancient ritual, make a deal with the Kraken, and maybe—if they get the time—survive a werewolf moon, find a missing (!) atomic bomb, kill the President of the United States of America, deal with their haunted handgun, track down a face-stealing serial killer stalker, and sort out the elder god literally, physically trapped inside one of their brains.

So what I’m saying is, following this up with a little Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk is probably out of the question. Which means it’s time to step once more into the grease-spattered unwashed filth of my World Creation kitchen, there to tinker with spices, bases, infusions, and experimental drug lacings until I get a mixture that tastes how I want it to without quite tasting like anything else out there. This series is going to be a little different than the last two, because this time I’m going into the project with a specific aim in mind. You may recall that the last two were strictly theoretical general-purpose constructs appropriate for multiple applications, but this time around, I’m actually cooking something I have plans on serving. I’m writing an RPG campaign setting, and once it’s done, I’m going to actually run it. This also means I’m playing with live ammo: I’m effectively staking the goodwill of my players and my reputation as a GM on this.*

When you’re designing a campaign setting for a roleplaying game, you’ve got two things you need to consider. First, you have to stop and think about what kind of gameplay you’d like to support. If you’ve got a group already, think about what they like to do. If you don’t, start with what you’d like to do–there’s not much point in starting anywhere else, all other things being equal. Secondly—but also simultaneously—you’re going to want to turn over in your head the sorts of things you’d like the finished project to feel sort of like. This is my favorite way to start a big project: think of a half-dozen things I like that I think would taste good together, and then start smushing them together. The resulting mess may not resemble the final product, but it’s a good starting point. The starting point for the current campaign was a rough blend of Saints Row, The Lost Boys, Eternal Darkness, Hitman, Pulp Fiction, Almost Famous, and Fallout: New Vegas. The resulting product doesn’t look much like any of those, but if you squint, blur out the specific details, and evaluate the thing based solely upon how the world feels to inhabit, it’s surprisingly close to an average of those elements.

In my case, I already have a group, as well as a waitlist of players who’d be joining in case I lose anyone. The group has three general types of player:

  1. Socializers: players who enjoy conversing with NPCs, particularly if these conversations can be put towards some form of tangible gain—interrogation, alliance brokering, etc.
  2. Investigators: players who enjoy gleaning, compiling, and analyzing clues, whether these connect to discrete incidents or overarching mysteries.
  3. Adventurers: players who enjoy putting their player in the line of danger. The actual mechanics of combat are secondary; these are not kick-in-door number cruncher types, but rather aspiring pulp heroes.

Ideally, any game I run would contain a healthy mixture of all three.

Here’s the genres, influences, and inspirations I feel inclined to work with:

  • Art Deco
  • Echo Bazaar
  • Richard Dadd
  • Downton Abbey
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Jekyll and Hyde (stage production)
  • The Circus
  • Alien
  • Dangerous Liasons
  • The Moonstone
  • Dracula
  • Brunelleschi’s Dome

There’s a definite theme here, which make sense—as soon as I consider a project, it starts to form around a few relevant nuclei. In fact, much of the trick will be using this stuff in a way that feels fresh for the players, most of whom have experienced anywhere from half to a quarter of the works on this list.

Also, just to get this out of the way: the system I’m going to use is heavily-customized Dresden Files (FATE 3). I’ll go into why later.

Next week, I’ll take the two elements I’ve got on hand, do a brainstorm, and outline the rough edges of the setting.

*I should get one thing out of the way: unless I later specify otherwise, everything posted in this series is finalized, or is depicted as being in a state of transition that has already concluded. For the most part, thanks to long experience and the positive feedback of my player base, I have absolute faith that I know what I’m doing. Know going in that by the time something is posted, it’s probably too late for suggestions, and that this is probably okay.


Dis Weak

21 Feb

1.) Mythweavers isn’t working for me, but the moment it is, I’ll get to posting the official start of the Blackchapel Revolutions RP–as in, the first event with everyone. So if you’re not in the game yet, and you’re supposed to be, get in there. I’d link, but Mythweavers isn’t working. Still. Just me?

2.) You know how that Dark God RPG planning thing never had a second post? There’s actually two reasons for that. First, I actually totally changed my direction on that midway through–my policy being that if it’s behind the GM screen, it’s subject to change at a moment’s notice. Secondly, I folded a lot of the ideas into plans for a new series I’m going to launch–a world creation series with tons of illustrations–that I’ve already got a huge backlog on, and that’s starting this Thursday. Since content had been spotty in the past, I wanted to get a shedload of legwork done on this before I announced it; I’ve already got about thirty pages of a big lab notebook full of notes and diagrams, so at this point, I think it’s fine to go forward on it. The series will focus on how to write Lovecraft without tentacles, Victorian without steampunk, and fairy tale without fairies, all at once. I’m looking forward to it.

3.)  Stream is totes planned for this Wednesday. It’s totes Saints Row the Third. The word “totes” is totes difficult to internally pronounce when you read it like this, and I don’t give a damn.

4.) No new full Payday episode, but we do have some best-of scraps lying around that we can’t make a full episode out of. Let’s just say they star everyone’s favorite incinerator transportation device, Josh “Dalmatian” Viel.


Stream Tomorrow

15 Feb

So, there’s been a spot of bother with capturing the audio off the computer using Procaster lately. I believe this is tied to a switch in headphones. Either way, I’ll be experimenting with it at streamtime tomorrow–5:00 PM PST–and you’re welcome to show up and heckle/give feedback if you’re so inclined. I’ll not be doing anything too exciting. Perhaps some more Hitman.

Anyway, those who are showing, see you there.


Payday 4

12 Feb

And this is where we start getting frustrated. Fun fact: episodes 2, 3, and 4 were recorded in one marathon session, and this is the part where tired free-association met the really, really tough firefights.


Invites Sent

12 Feb

I’ve sent out invites to all individuals who’ve messaged me on Mythweavers. To the one outstanding name change issue, I’m working on it.

To those who’ve speculated wrath-of-god delays, you’re not entirely wrong. I can’t actually go into all of it, but there’s been a bit of bother on this end–all strictly personal, you understand–that is sorted and defused, but did provide a bit of distraction. I have the Payday episode rendering as this is typed.

If you’re on the guest list and haven’t yet sent out for your invite, it’s certainly not too late. I’ve elected for a soft open, so even if you’re a week late into the game, you’ll be at no disadvantage. Perhaps you’ll miss the chance for a spot of incidental narration, but that’s the most of it.

And if you did send me a PM requesting an invite, keep in mind that I had to hand-process about fifty-five of them, and it’s quite possible I accidentally missed you. Just go ahead and send me a new PM and I’ll be right on it. I’ll be monitoring the game very closely over the next few days.

As always, if there are any problems, I can be contacted at


Blackchapel Preparedness/Upcoming Content

10 Feb

Blackchapel begins midday Sunday, so everyone gear up and get ready. If possible, add your character’s description (full name, nationality) to your profile. Check back in Sunday morning for your invite to the game proper.

An episode of Payday is popping up later on today. Here’s a spoiler: we shoot police officers.

That is all.



Name Changes/Headlines Game

09 Feb

For the Blackchapel Revolution, those of you who’ve had your names changed: I’d assumed people whose names were changed would get some sort of e-mail to that effect–or, failing at that, that my list of name changes would get saved in my “sent” folder–but queries regarding changed names suggest neither of these rash assumptions bore fruit. Not to worry, I can resolve things fairly quickly.

If your name has been changed:

Check to see if the name change you requested, to me, has been put into effect. Log on as this username. If this does not work, keep in mind that I removed any titles or first names in my alterations, usually boiling it down to the last bit only.

If this fiddling doesn’t work, don’t just comment–go ahead and e-mail me at Include as much detail about your situation as possible, and I’ll get right back to you.

And now, a minor diversion: the local live-action roleplay has as part of the rules that the host must come up with a unique diversion month-to-month. As I am hosting this coming weekend, I’ve prepared a few games, one of which involves writing headlines and new stories based on cryptic “artists’ depictions.” The images (particularly the barrel) are a little slapdash, but this evinces the established primitive nature of the local news while simultaneously allowing me to crap them out fast and get to work on the next bit.

The idea will be that players have an hour to write a headline and blurb for one, and then will vote on which one gets to be canonical within the LARP world. A similar principle will be adopted for a series of encrypted messages pulled of a spy executed last session.


Blackchapel Begins in Seven Days, so Here’s Everything

05 Feb

The Blackchapel Revolution officially launches on Sunday, February 12th, 2011, so let’s get ready to rock and roll. In this post, you’ll find:

1.) A link to the character creation rules

2.) A link to a revised copy of the general rules

3.) A response to all rules queries I’ve received so far

4.) A link to the Blackchapel user page, to send your private message requesting entry if you have not sent it already

Two quick notes to the most common questions: Yes, it is too late to join at this point, and yes, as long as your name was on the list at all, you’re in the game–bolded or not. Now get those character concepts ironed out and ready. I will actually not require your character’s stats and backstory messaged to me until a little bit after the game begins, so don’t worry yourselves too much about that.

Read the rest of this entry »


Rules Update/Payday/Stream

01 Feb

Here’s a schedule of upcoming content:

1.) Tonight, at 6:00 PM PST, I’ll be streaming SR3. Sorry for the sudden time-switch, but midterms are approaching–small reschedules are inevitable.


3.) The revised rules will be posted as soon as I get the notification that the player names have been changed. If, like some, you’ve been waiting for the errata before you create your character, that’s totally fine. I’ll provide a link to the comment thread for character creation when I throw the post up.