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Showing posts from 2016

One Shot: Kimrath

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Character: Kimrath
Game: Epyllion
Episodes: 1
Theme Song: Responsibility by MxPX
Keywords: Loud, honest, derpy

On my one day off in the last month and a bit, I played Epyllion. If you're not familiar, Epyllion is Marissa Kelly's game of baby dragons. It touches on My Little Pony in terms of themes and content and is overall quite delightful. That being said, there are also mechanics that can push a darker theme. The game is awesome. I want to run a full campaign of it in the new year and you should go buy this game.

Moving on to my baby dragon. I played the Warrior playbook. Which in a normal PbtA game you would think "Hey, that baby dragon is violent!" Except dris is a baby dragon (dragon pronouns are dris/dre) who mostly functions to yell at older dragons. I found this mechanic kinda fascinating. The top score for a warrior is Courage, which is what you use to essentially be smarmy at older dragons who will find you amusing and pat your head. I didn't have a fight …

One Shot: Kenzi Novotná

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Character: Kenzi Novotná
Game: The Forgotten - Zombie expansion
Episodes: 1
Theme Song: Sick of Losing Soul Mates by dodie
Keywords: Patient, wise, authoritative

Recently a close friend had a birthday gathering and wanted to play a couple games. As you can probably tell, they settled on Epyllion by Marissa Kelly and The Forgotten by Andrew Medeiros. And we're just lucky enough to know and hang out with Andrew, so we had him join us to run a zombie-focused expansion of the Forgotten.

The Forgotten is a larp about folks who are in a city that's being hit during a war. You're just civilians though, and you're trying to survive by finding food, shelter, and medical supplies. You're not soldiers. You're all just folk. You start by choosing an occupation, and then get randomly assigned relationships to at least two people.

I chose cook, because it was so far from the truth about me that I found it interesting. My second choice was going to be cop, but I found myself stru…

Campaign: Donahue O'Kelly

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Character: Donahue O'Kelly
Game: Urban Shadows
Episodes: 6
Theme Song: Dark Days by The Phantoms
Keywords: Tired, Concerned, Old

The more I play Donahue, the more I come to understand that he's a tired old man who made a mistake, sees the errors of his ways, and is moving forward as best he can with his newfound knowledge. Partly, this has meant biding his time until he's ready to move forward, processing what he's learned, and opening himself again to new experiences.

It's the latter part of that which he struggles with the most. Finding out he has a daughter, an imbecile of a daughter, has given him food for thought. But as I play him, I notice he lingers on thoughts longer than even I would. He wants to sit and smoke a pipe and drink some cognac and think about the long term implications of everything he's experiencing. He thinks generationally. He thinks big picture and rarely glimpses at the small except to see how those ripples will impact the big.

Really, he…

Retired: Talis of the Otter Clan

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Character: Talis
Game: GURPS
Episodes: 25
Theme Song: Damp Animal Spirits by Tanya Tagaq
Keywords: Flighty, chaotic, twitchy

Years ago my friend James decided to run a game using GURPS (I still don't know why) based on Michelle Paver's great young adult novel series The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. It was a series I had read and had listened to on audiobook narrated by Ian McKellan. I was super excited to get into the game and make a character and see the world come to life. If anyone could do it, James could do it justice.

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness takes place in a pre-agrarian society in the Northern part of the world. When talking about her work, Paver notes that she researched the Lapplanders a lot for the books. There is magic in this world, but it's ritualistic and very based on spirits. There aren't magic healers or people who just touch you to make magic happen. It's slow. And requires a lot of thought and planning.

Within the world, there are clans, ea…

Campaign: Donahue O'Kelly

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Character: Donahue O'Kelly
Game: Urban Shadows
Episodes: 4
Theme Song:Glitter & Gold by Barns Courtney
Keywords: Patient, Sympathetic, Tired

After months away because our GM has been sick, we jumped back into Urban Shadows. To the Gm's credit, it didn't stall out, even though it did feel like an episode of pick on Donahue. This is, in part, because we had a new character and a passive character at the table and then Donahue, as half our table couldn't make it, and it is in part because when in doubt, I will drive the fiction if no one else is.

This time, with Donahue, we finally really got to see parts of his dragon. He spent most of his time on a legend of zelda-like quest, where he had to go to one person to get a thing, but to get that thing, he had to go see another person, etc, until I was about five people removed from my original intent. Nevertheless, Donahue persevered, saved several people, exchanged some flirtation with a paper angel, and managed to figure ou…

Campaign: Kadlin Ottardottir

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Character: Kadlin Ottardottir
Game: Sagas of the Icelanders
Episodes: 0
Theme Song: White Foxes by Susanne Sundfør
Keywords: Noble, True, Careless

Kadlin is a shield maiden and middle daughter of the Matriarch, Rannveig. Initially I wanted to play a shield maiden because I was tired of playing caretaker women. Now, upon reflection, I'm noticing this trend of playing really assertive and strong women after playing a lot of women who are sweet and lovely. I go in waves like that.

So after I noticed my swing right, I decided to land somewhere in the middle with Kadlin. She's a shield maiden because she was always a tomboy, and after her father died, she took over doing most of the farm duties at home for her mother. Her older sister was married, and so Kadlin became the one everything rested upon. When Rannveig remarried, she had another child, Oddrin, whom Kadlin didn't really get or understand much. The girl spent most of her time with Soren and his older brother, and eventuall…

Campaign: Warren Legacy AKA Amp

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Character: Warren Legacy aka Amp
Game: Masks
Episodes: 4
Theme Song: I Don't Wanna Know by Weathers
Keywords: Heroic, torn, confident

We returned to Masks after a month and a half hiatus. We lost a player in that madness and now it's just the four of us. When last we left our heroes, they had fallen apart and this issue started with everyone doing their own thing. Amp's thing was doing what no one else was: She was still being a hero. She was saving people. She was making public appearances. She was being a god damn hero.

But in this episode, we saw the team come back together. There was a moment when Rhea, the legacy, called Amp on her shit but she ignored it and flipped it back on Rhea instead. One thing I have noticed about Amp is that she's confident and assertive, which has lead to a lot of people saying she doesn't have emotions.

I played another female character recently, Lana, who was also assertive. She was also accused of having no emotions. Rosa Diaz, from B…

Metatopia: The Commander of the People of the Snow

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Character: The Commander
Game: Gather by Stephen Dewey
Episodes: 1
Theme song: Wolf by Fever Ray
Keywords: Devoted, Careful, Intense

Sunday, burnt out and ready to go home, Rob, Rach, and I decided to sign up for one more game by a designer we had enjoyed previous products from. Stephen Dewey is the creator of Ten Candles, which if you haven't played you should. It's awesome. Gather was the game we signed up for, and I'm so glad we did.

Gather is a freeform story game using tokens and cards where players take on the roles of representatives of the people of the world who come together to sit at council, air grievances, ask for help, or broker alliances. The Gather is done yearly, with the people coming together to hear each other (or not) and form a world as you play. The cards on the table ask important and pivotal questions about you and your world.

I played the Commander of the People of the Snow. Interestingly enough, we never gave a name. This anonymity allowed for a cert…

Metatopia: Lana McEwen from Zombie World

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Character: Alana McEwen, "Lana"
Game: Zombie World
Episodes: 2
ThemeSong: Castle by Halsey
Keywords: Ruthless, decisive, survivor

In every zombie apocalypse story, there's the strong, independent, fierce woman who's also capable of speaking to people like they're people and isn't afraid of men, right? Well, no. I mean, I have yet to really see that character who isn't in a position of care taker. Sarah Polly's character in Day of the Dead came close, but she was a nurse, and the caretaker.

Zombie World is an upcoming game from Mark Diaz Truman that is essentially Walking Dead PbtA. It's. So. Good. And I mean, I don't like the Walking Dead, but I love me zombie fictions and this game perfectly grasps the feel of drama and trauma and suspense in the Walking Dead television show. It does it almost flawlessly. So when it Kickstarts, I recommend backing the fuck out of it.

Now. Lana. In this game, you get three cards that tell you your past, your curre…

Metatopia: Jade the Problem Child

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Character: Jade
Game: NP by Matthew McFarland
Episodes: 1, playtest
Theme Song: The Greatest by Sia
Keywords: reactionary, emotional, intense

By the end of Saturday, I was sitting down with Mark Diaz Truman, Matt McFarland, my friend Rob, and a playtester named Lisa to play Matt's new game, called NP, which I was told means Neuroplasticity. The premise is aliens invade earth and kids can manipulate time, kinda, with their little plastic brains. Not actually plastic. Just flexible enough to learn something in the future and bring that knowledge back to the present.

That part was super cool. I really dug the idea that we were using skills we learned in the future, making us tiny, emotional, wannabe adults. Matt and I had talked before hand about the game, and when the time came to play it, I selected the Problem Child because of the discussions we had had. Initially I was gonna play baby Robin, because that's what Rach had done, but I decided I was gonna be the problem kid. I never …

One Shot: Doctor Val

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Character: Val, M.D.
Game: Life on Mars
Episodes: 1
Theme Song: Don't Fear the Reaper by Denmark + Winter
Keywords: Concerned, withdrawn, calculating

Tonight we played Life on Mars, a game by Ross Cowman that was pretty clearly a precursor to the amazing Fall of Magic. The game is about a trip to Mars, where you then set up a base of sorts, and then eventually decide whether you want to return or not. We didn't get all the way to the end, but we got far enough along I saw some dramatic changes in the character I made.

I chose a name, Val, and a position on the team. I was the last to choose and so I got Doctor. I made Val, a female doctor in her late 40's, who was also the psych on board because someone had to keep an eye on the sanity of the team. She mostly focused her practice on emergency medicine, and while she kept up with the records necessary to be the psych, she found little interest in the actual subject of the human mind.

In play, you're asked introspective ques…

One Shots: Levana

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Character: Levana Karpinski
Game: Hope Inhumanity, Ten Candles
Episodes: 2
Theme Song: Everybody Stand Up by Bombs Away, Lean On by Major Lazer
Keywords: Easy going, uncommitted, hopeful

A few months ago I decided I was gonna play the same character with different worlds in 2017. You may have noticed it's 2016. What I did instead was make an apocalypse character. I play a lot of horror games in one shots. Rach, Rob, and I went to Jiffycon and Rach and I played Ten Candles by Stephen Dewey.

In that game, you're given traits. But you get to kind of decide who you are before you get those traits. I made a character who was an EDM DJ by night and dog walker by day. So, she was mostly a stoner/MDMA-lover party girl who walked people's dogs to pay the bills while her DJing wasn't all that fruitful money wise.

Her mother lived in the same town as her, but didn't really approve of her party-filled lifestyle. She was stubborn, just like her daughter, and their conflicting relat…

One Shot: Allison Greening

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Character: Allison Greening
Game: As We Know It
Episodes: One
Theme Song: Atlantis by Seafret
Keywords: Anxious, Protective, Irritable

Andrew Medeiros and the ever awesome Angela Delong Andersson ran a larp game called As We Know It. I've never played a larp since the days of CyberGen larps at Dreamation that Jonathan Lavallee ran. I helped facilitate the few times I was there. It was never something I found much interest in. I mean, I enjoyed Dystopia Rising when I played for a few hours, also at Dreamation, but overall I didn't have the time, energy, or money for something as invested as a larp.

And then there were whispers in the gaming community (okay, not whispers, more like shouts) about this Nordic Style Larp business. It was explained to me as "people sitting around being sad together in a room." Naturally, with my romance of sadness, I was intrigued. I had backed a few intense sounding small scale larps including the Forgotten by Andrew Medeiros, mostly to show …

Inactive: Serina

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Character: Elizabeth Holland or Serina
Game: Monsterhearts, Urban Shadows
Episodes Played: ~15
Theme Song:Going to Hell by the Pretty Reckless, You Don't Get Me High Anymore by Phantogram, Fuck Like A Star by Porcelain and the Tramps
Keywords: Manipulative, scheming, dangerous

A long time ago, about the time of Henry VIII, there was this woman named Anne Boleyn, you might've heard of her. Well, her and Cromwell were mastermind witches called Ink Drinkers. They were the kind of people who wanted to fell the Catholic church, their true enemy, and sot hey put Anne in power beside Henry and convinced him to abandon the Catholic church. To protect Anne, they turned her ladies in waiting into a magical version of a vampire.

Thus, Elizabeth Holland became a vampire, with a magical tattoo that let her walk in the sun.

From there, shit went to hell and the vampire ran away. She escaped to the rest of Europe, eventually to the new world, and has been landed in North America ever since. In o…

Campaign: Warren Legacy AKA Amp

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Character: Warren Legacy aka Amp
Game: Masks
Episodes Played: 2
Theme Song: Good Girls by Elle King
Keywords: Disinterested, mean, provocative

It's pretty incredible sometimes. The difference between how you see your character, as you're in their head (or they're in yours) and the way others perceive the character. How I see Warren, or Ren as she's called, is very different from how she comes off to the party, and partly, I find that really fascinating.

So here's what's in my head. For a long time Ren has had her powers. She was born with them, and has been zapping people as a joke for a decade and a bit now. Her brother Atticus, "Atti", has decided she should be a hero. So for his stupid youtube channel no one really cared about, she'd go out with him and stop minor bad guys. This long-term heroing has resulted in her having really good control of her powers (I haven't failed a roll yet).

About a year ago, Ren got into a fight with a big league v…

Retired: Ellywyn Mirnug

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Character: Ellywyn Mirnug "Elly"
Game: Dungeons & Dragons 3.5
Episodes Played: ~50
Theme Song: King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men
Keywords: Hopeful, moral, amusing

Back when I was first living in Toronto, my then-partner started a group of gamers and called them the Association of Ryerson Roleplayers and Gamers... or... ARRG. It was a university gaming club and that's where I met Mina. Mina has been and continues to be my go-to for any game I want to play that's kinda crunchy. For years, that meant 3.5. Nowadays she dabbles in other games, and I'm super excited for Fate of the Norns in January.

But I joined a game of 3.5 D&D in the setting of Sandstorm. When asked what I wanted to play, I picked up where I had left off from my 2nd Ed game and wanted to play a gnome bard. Fuck I love bards. I love that there's a class designed to help keep the peace in a game most people play as murder hobos. I didn't know any of the players or the GM, except fo…

Retired: Oz

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Character: Oz
Game: Apocalypse World 1st Ed
Episodes Played: 12
Theme Song:Comin' Home by Murdered by Death
Keywords: Stoic, unflinching, indomitable

Can I let you in on a bit of a secret? Apocalypse World is, so far, my least favourite game that uses that system. I played it once for a few episodes as a Battlebabe when it first came out. I also playtested it back when the playbooks were tiny books. And then a few years and many hacks later, Rob said "let's play Apocalypse World!" because neither Rach nor I were into it.

It was a great game. But I had no idea what the hell I was doing. It was probably the game I floundered the most in, like, ever. When going over the playbooks, I decided on a Touchstone, because I wanted to play someone who brought hope and vision to the wasteland. That and Rob said it was his favourite, and since he and I are oddly similar at times, I went for it.

Despite circling all the things, Oz was a mystery to me. He started out as an androgynous,…