29 Dec

Games Games Games: 2008 Retrospective

So time has come to try and write a plan for gaming in 2009 which I can then fail to achieve, but which is fun in a kind of speculative daydreaming way. To do that I need to first mull over 2008 and see where I am coming from before I know where I am going to..

I tried in 2008 to focus on setting and not system, I am not so sure how well I succeeded.

In terms of purchases I tried to resist or at least go second hand. I bought quite a bit of Earthdawn second hand or very very cheap (when the USD-GBP rate was almost 2:1) since I loved the setting way back when but never ran it. I have sold a lot of Glorantha stuff and will continue to do so. I bought an AFMBE book, and I rather fell in love with the Paizo Pathfinder Chronicles and bought and read the first three even though they are D&D [I’d probably Savage them]. I avoided buying the new Basic Roleplaying book from Chaosium, which is fortunate since last week I saw a copy and realised that as a credited playtester I was entitled to a free copy.. it arrived today. I resisted the Battlestar Galactica rpg, but will succumb in 2009, I faced down the nostalgic pull of Dragon Warriors and despite resisting Trail of Cthulhu I did buy a few GUMSHOE games (same system) and enjoyed reading them. My ongoing love for the City of Freeport setting went wild as the setting went system free, but I haven’t fully read or played there. My purchase of the Blue Rose rpg must be put down to gspearing geeing me up, although it’s a very interesting setting.

Gwenthia, our shared world fantasy setting, has been getting me down all year. I can’t keep up the leadership role and the creative tensions have driven me away from the setting and all d100 game systems. My angst about this drove me into a cycle that meant I couldn’t face running any games at cons in 2007 or 2008, and as such I have done nothing with it all year.My

I ran Talislanta several times, which was a huge buzz for me since I’ve loved the setting for years, but somehow thought it was too big and weird for my friends. What nonense! It’s like Glorantha or The Forgotten Realms; you take a small area and just game away like it was 1976 and the idea of a huge game world didn’t exist yet.. I was delighted by how simple and smooth the system ran, and I think that all the games have been great successes, especially the one at a TomCon.

I don’t think I ran anything else this year until December when I ran Mean Streets, a noir rpg set in 1943 New York. Very much a settings led choice, since the system is very light and the setting/adventures very generously provided in the cheap pdfs.

My rpg BBS, The Tavern, has pootled along ok this year with only one php insertion attack and one migration between servers which my friend Simon managed well. The migration threw everyone’s cookies bonkers and I am still not sure everyone who wants auto login has it. We hosted the chat forum for the Continuum and Furnace cons, and people seem to enjoy hanging out there in a small cosy environment. I am grateful that when things get sticky Simon helps.

So, did I achieve much? Well for a year when I have been really quite unwell I have played a lot of great games, but not run many. So be it. I have greatly enjoyed playing Wordplay, lots of Savage Worlds, Traveller, Sufficiently Advanced, SCION, Atlantis, D&D 4e (!), Pathfinder Beta, SimpleQuest and many others so I think 2008 turned out to be the year of playing, and in fact it was great fun with great friends!

Next year.. or in a few days.. my 2009 plans!

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26 Apr

Facebook is shit, o2 arena and London was fun, had a bad week

IMHO Facebook is pointless shit full of viral crap that promises something and delivers nothing. Avoid. I have just deactivated my Facebook account. I can’t delete it and my friends can’t see that I am inactive (interesting twist eh?) but at least I never will get anything from that cesspool of tat again. [Do I sound cross?]

I have had some good productive chats about a route to market for Gwenthia. My chief wish is the get books into FLGS and get some people enjoying all the hard work of the Design Mechanism. I suspect that the world has legs but I think we also have to conclude that it might be a one-shot wonder, so hard choices need to be made on what to leave in or take out.

I am 75% through laying out the Exodus Matrix as our first ‘all in one’ playable scenario using just the core RuneQuest book. I am about 50% thorugh writing a classic ‘underground’ adventure in the same style. I want to finish them before Continuum, have them printed and sold to create some buzz, and then put them on rpgnow as pdfs.

Work is busy so I have only been able to feed back on the latest draft of Wordplay and not start to tackle the Secret Agent Man theme.

We saw Cirque de Soleil at the o2 arena (formerly the Millenium Dome) last Saturday. Great venue, always knew London could make good use of it. Show was okay but maybe not as ‘groundbreaking’ as all that. Was basically a melange of french graphic novels, pink floyd and a lot of weed. IMHO of course.

My steroid dose went down last week and 7 days later, this Tuesday, I crashed. Could bearly get out of bed I was so tired and unfocused. Looks like below 20mg a day I don’t work. 🙁 I changed my dose back and was fine by Friday.

I now have shedloads of work to catch up on.

Damn.

BTW.. my tests have all been deleted.. Jane knows what I mean.

27 Mar

Various

I am watching ‘Tales of Earthsea‘, the latest Studio Ghibli film based on some part of the Ursula K LeGuin books. I loved the books, they opened the doors to non-Tolkien fantasy in a much better way than Moorcock. Sad to say, 60 minutes in and I suspect this as duff a film as the IMDB reviews suggest and LeGuin hints herself on her webpages. It wasn’t made by Hayao Miyazaki and isn’t patch on other masterpieces such as Nausicaa, Laputa or Kiki’s Delivery Service. Very sad.

Over the last week I have realised that there is no way I can afford to heat my greenhouse, save to stop the frost. I have moved all the seedlings and propagation indoors. I have created and planted a bulb area in my borders, and realised that my problem is that we have no topsoil. Since I am building my raised beds soon and they will need topsoil, I shall order extra and layer it onto the back beds. I have fertilised my raspberries, planted rhubarb plants, popped in a blueberry and potted on my tomatoes and fuschias. I’ll need to get my veg. bed sorted soon so I can plant out cabbages and lettuces in a fortnight or so.

I have been working all week, and although my boss is very keen that I do not travel too far, I think I need to get out and start my wider job soon.

Gaming wise there is no sign of the promised Traveller game so I think I may run some Gwenthia on Tuesdays now we have a full ruleset to playtest. I have a planned Talislanta game next Thursday with my son and his friends, I shall run Scent of the Beast. I have found the pretty rare Sub-Men Rising campaign by robin-d-laws. Maybe I’ll get to run it all! I am implementing the more restricted magic rules from Codex Magicus to throttle back magic a little and give a reason to wizards to track down spells and artefacts. It looks like darransims may run some HeroQuest Tekumel at Continuum and that would be awesome.. I hope he knows how popular it will be..

09 Mar

Talislanta Gaming Weekend

We had our second gaming weekend session. Simon stayed over last night and today we played my first ever Talislanta game. I have adored Talislanta for years and years and (according to Simon and Graham) wittered about it but never run it. It’s been something I have been a little unsure of letting people see since it is so cosmopolitan and alien and a little silly.. and everyone loved the setting, the system, I managed to ft the whole scenario in and everyone had FUN! FUN is our objective and so success all round.

I am SO happy!

17 Feb

Gaming Weekend

Our gaming weekend has been going very well. We had a great game of Twilight Imperium on Saturday, although it would have gone much quicker if we had not had to clip out little spaceships for 90 minutes first. Once we got going we found the game runs quite smoothly and although the huge numbers of tokens did get a leetel unwieldy we enjoyed it. We played for about 7 hours but didn’t quite finish, next time we should complete a full 5-6 player game in about 7-8 hours. Mind you.. it may be some time before we get the chance. Dom and Simon and I then sat up with Ann until quite late putting the world to rights and talking about manufacturing and work..

From Twilight Impe…


Today Dom is running his Savage Worlds conversion of the classic 2300AD adventure “Mission Arcture”. Graham and I are playing Aussie Special Forces and sitting here with Billabong outback hats and Aussie T-shirts from when I was at Ayers Rock.. The game is running quite well.. I hope people enjoy it.

From Gaming Weeken…

I think that the Savage 2300AD game showed that 2300AD works fine with the Savage ruleset and indeed can cope with awesomely overpowered weapon systems and still run well. Sadly, having played the scenario twice it is basically a long corridor with an endless supply of Kafers to kill. We had fun but I think there may be better ways to enjoy 2300AD with any system. As I said, we had fun and big thanks to Dom..

Dom’s writeup is here.

From Gaming Weeken…
From Gaming Weeken…
From Gaming Weeken…

06 Feb

Leica M7 and Roleplaying Systems

My replacement Leica M7 has arrived. This replaces my dearly beloved M4 which was stolen in St.Petersburg (spit). I am very ambivalent about it. My wife doesn’t like it, and I am not sure I do. My M4 was silver, this is black. My M4 said “I understand and know about great cameras”, the M7 says “I have more money than you”. Still, I haven’t gone and shot pictures with it and I guess that’s when this new relationship will start to form. [I know this sounds terribly self-indulgent and spoiled, but this is LiveJournal and this is my obsession.]

Now as to my other obsession: roleplaying. I have decided that following my illness I need to declutter and focus. One thing I suffer from is that I chase, buy and read systems, when actually what I am interested in are settings. Settings are actually better described in source material, films, guides, etc. These are also cheaper than game systems since they are a little more mainstream (or even very mainstream in some cases). I do not need any other systems, I already have 3-4 that work fine. What I need to do is focus on settings.

So.. my first decision is that Glorantha and I are parting. Great though it is, I have Gwenthia and Taslislanta that offer me all that. If you also note that I love Tekumel then I have enough. So despite that fact that I will play and enjoy it at cons, my collection of books is all up for grabs.

Ah, that felt good..

08 Jun

Tom gets a TomTom

We setup our new TomTom satellite navigation system to guide us in the car. We previously have used the built-in system in the Volvo S60, but since we intend to sell that car, we bought a portable unit to use in the new Vectra. Oddly enough I have just finished editing a paper on the effects of using such wayfinding systems in freight vehicles, which will be presented at the Logistics Research Network conference in September.

Really enjoyed reading Deadlands Reloaded but I have decided that it changes enough of the Savage Worlds system that I will start with a 50 Fathoms game instead, which will be great fun and also get me up to speed enough on the rule system before trying the Weird West game. I do like the rpg a lot, it’s what I shall be playing this summer, apart from running Mongoose RuneQuest games set in Gwenthia for the summer cons: Continuum and Furnace.

Going to set up a friend’s wireless network this weekend, then I have to go and do the same for my son-in-law the week after. I have done this so many time you’d think I could do it in my sleep, but no. There is always some cute problem that comes along and makes it all so very different every time!

No recent photography.. 🙁