Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Warren

Google Watership Down, and you get reviews of both the book by Richard Adams, and the film and animated series based upon it. A story of rabbits. It's slightly more than that, it is a story about anthropomorphised rabbits, and their mythic journey to a new home. A story of liberation and self-determination that strikes a chord with many diverse readers.

Google Watership Down Trauma, and you'll get another story. My story. Children who were taken to the cinema to watch a cartoon about bunnies (rated U for universal), who were subjected to a tale of death and horror. Rabbits are choked by snares, get into bloody battles, and are snatched by predators. This film was released in cinemas when I was 3, so that was the age I watched it. It is one of my earliest memories. It scarred me. That it was partly based on the author's experience with Operation Market Garden gives us an idea of what we're working with here.

Why am I talking about this on a gaming blog? Well, due to my recent purchase of The Warren, by Marshall Miller, released by Bully Pulpit games. This is a Powered by the Apocalypse game where you play a troop of rabbits in the style of Watership Down, or Peter Rabbit. For those paying attention, those are NOT the same genre, but the game can accommodate both styles.

The Warren is not the first game to be based on Watership Down of course, there is the classic 1972 (the same year the book was released) game Bunnies and Burrows, and the GURPS supplement based on the same.

On reading through the The Warren, I thought it might help my childhood trauma to play through the game, and maybe even watch Watership down again. This time knowing what I'm getting myself into, with an eye to working through some residual issues I may have. 

Games can be therapeutic that way, or so I hear.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

"They Grow up so Fast" Handout

Another Tales from the Loop blog post? In such quick succession after the last?

What is going on here?

The short answer might be that GMing in Face to face sessions leaves me with time in from of a computer with energy to share things. When GMing online, screen time is prep on Roll20 and in Discord. 

Another answer might be that in preparing offline handouts, I have artefacts I wish to share, whereas online games are just images snagged from the pdfs.

Whatever the answer is, I came here to share this pdf.

This is a trifold pamphlet style handout I game my players at the start of out Tales from the Loop campaign, "They Grow up so Fast". I doubles as a quick introduction to what the Loop is, MAFF, and also gives them access to the map that is in the book, as an in game artefact.

Of course, strip out the MAFF logo, and change the map, and you can use it for any of the three cannon settings for Tales from the Loop. Or indeed your very own setting.

Enjoy, and let me know if you use it!

Monday, October 30, 2023

Tales from the Loop

After Covid, it has taken us quite a while to return to a fully offline gaming group. Mainly because at the end of the lockdown, we were playing a game of Witchlight for 5e that required us to stay online, as the GM of that particular game was much more available online than off. 

That campaign ran for what was basically 2 years, but is now completed. 

Now that we are back to a face to face set-up, there are games that I did not want to run online that have now moved up to the front of the line. Some were because I didn't think online was the best interface to use: like Kids on Bikes; or Masks of Nyarlathotep (I have far to many props to waste on an online game), and some were because there were players that stepped back from online play that I wanted to include in the game. 

One game that I was putting off was Tales from the Loop, and that was because of both above reasons. Now we have started a campaign of this game, the UK based set of mysteries "They Grow up so Fast". We've had a session zero, and run the first 'Mystery' of the campaign. It is going well, but there are many subtleties to the game that I have not yet fully mastered. If this spurt of blogging lasts long enough, I may write an actual review. What I do want to include in this post, are some handouts and character sheets I've been working on.

I was looking for character sheets to print off, when I came across this blog post, with the insanely inspired idea or making a character sheet on the insert for a cassette. There were a couple of fixes to make on the pdf, where words had not been fully translated to English, so I fixed that, and I'm making the document available here (full credit to the original artist and creator, I only fixed spelling and a couple of text boxes that were inaccessible).

After this, a quick search online showed me there wasn't really anywhere in town selling empty cassette cases, however, the resurgence in cassettes as a medium means that for the very low price of 75 cents each, I was able to get some cases sent from an Ontario company. In orange no less. A perfect fit for Tales from the Loop.

One use of the coloured printer later, and here we go.

A golf pencil fits perfectly inside each box, as do the d6 required to play. Et voila, the perfect gift for each of my players.

And this, dear reader, is one of the reasons I'm happy to move from online to offline gaming.

Monday, October 23, 2023

The Watch House, 20 year anniversary

I am inspired to write this post, due to this recent post, recalling the 20 year anniversary of The Watch House.

This was more than just a game to many of us who were playing in it, but I can only say what it meant to me, and so, through the haze of time and aging memory, I will try to do so.

I first went to university in Glasgow (Strathclyde Uni), but in all my time there, I didn't look up any University role playing clubs. The are likely many reasons for this, but they're not really that interesting.

When I moved to Edinburgh, however, I did look up the local University Gaming club The Great Edinburgh Adventurers Society, GEAS. Still going strong. When I joined, I was, what I would consider now to be essentially a very trad gamer. I had played with the same group since Secondary school, and though we had played many different games, we mostly fell into the same routines with each game.

Geas was a real eye opener for me, and in my time there, I played in a number of games, and with a number of people, that really stretched me, and showed me different ways to play and run games. Not all games were great, some definitely showed me how not to do it. A couple I still remember, the Xena game with Shevaun, Izzy's long running L5R game (that game could have a similar post to this in many ways). I played many new games from the Forge, and games of that ilk, by the GMs and game designers that frequented the club (again, another post on it's own).

Even in this crowded list of genius, there was one stand out game. The Watch House.

Roll Credits...

I think there had been a couple of sessions when I joined in the game, but it was in season 1 of the game. I created Jake. A musician, sometime taker of illicit substances, and psychic. Sometimes possessed, sometimes a vampire. Always trying to do his best and not hurt his friends, especially Milli.

As Craig mentioned in his post, the way the game was played was so much more collaborative than anything I had played in before, and the type of sessions we could do because of this were unique. This really was the game where I can trace the turning point in my RPG career from a 'trad' gamer to someone who was willing to experiment. It really opened my eyes. I'm quite sure this was down to the LARPing influence of Cat, and the well, Joe... There was a real meeting of minds at that table. It was lightning in a bottle.

I left the game in 2005-06. Jake was dead, and I was moving to Canada. I know that the game had write-ups on RPG.net, but I could never really read them when I was a player, and once I left, well, I think there was a type of mourning for something lost that took over, and I didn't keep up with the game. 

For the time I was a player, it was before we all had camera phones, so the memories are all in my head, rather than in images. That is not to say that there is no evidence of my time there. I went into the RPG archives, and pulled out some artifacts of the game. Including bespoke artwork by Jamie.

There was even a soundtrack to the game, but I seem to have given away all the copies of the CDs I burned, as I couldn't find a copy. Maybe someone out there can send me the set list. I Know about 3 or 4 of the songs for sure, but not the rest.

The Buffy Archives from the Great RPG library

That character folio contained quite a hoard. Here are a few choice items.


Some of the artwork by Jamie. The best we can do for images of players.

Finally, the action figure of Jake. For some reason, this figure doesn't quite match with the one in this post. Maybe there are indeed two out there. One good and one bad, I'm sure! 

So I end with this. Thank you Craig, and all the other players, for creating a memorable gaming experience. One that we are still talking about 20 years later.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

A Year in Gaming 2022

 Hey look, it's that blog that posts once a year! Whoo, must be 2023!

This year was another bumper year for games. With a total of 17 session ran, and 76 sessions played. The trend of me getting to play more that I run, is continuing. As we seem to be coming out of the pandemic, more of the games I ran were actually face to face games. A trend I foresee continuing into the new year, however, the online gaming aspect, even for the local gaming group will remain something we fall back on, especially to allow everyone to play/run games.

In terms of what games I ran? Well, there were a total of 7 different games/systems (8 if you count Pulp Cthulhu as different from Call of Cthulhu, but let's just say it's the same thing).

All but one of these were one-shot games. Filling in space in the calendar, or allowing others to take a break in their schedules, with the exception of the One Ring (2e). This I ran as the mini-campaign in the boxed set, then a few sessions at the end of the year that constitute the beginning of a Lost Realms campaign that I plan to run into the next year.

New games that I ran this year, well not as many as I would have liked, but The One ring counts, as this was my first time with the 2e of the game. The only other being Agon. This is one that bears coming back to, but works very well as a one-shot, interspersing it with other games.

On to games played. This was another great year for games played, with a total of 77 sessions (thereabouts, there may be an accounting error in the number of sessions for Numenera), and 12 different games. Of that 12, exactly half of them were games I played for the first time!.

Highlights for me included playing a game (Kids on Bikes) at a new FLGS, although I have yet to wander over there for a second session, hopefully this year that will happen again. Another highlight was getting to game in a session of 3, 2, 1 Action!, ran by the writer of the game, through the Vintage RPG Podcast discord.

Lastly, I'm very happy to be getting to continue The Darkening of Mirkwood campaign. We're 3 years and 59 sessions deep in this campaign, and I'm not really sure we're even half way through! What a monster!

Lastly, do I have any gaming resolutions for this year? No, not really. I do know what I would like, and that is imply that this trend continues. More games in person, more games of the One Ring (both flavours), and more time spend playing with friends.

Happy New Year, and Happy Gaming to you all!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

A Year in Gaming 2021

 As with 2020, 2021, for all it's problems, was a bumper year for gaming. Even more so as the local gaming group I like to think I have fostered includes others willing to run games, meaning even more so than last year, I played more sessions than I ran (34 sessions ran, 63 session played). I like to think there is an increase in diversity too, as I moved away from regular Call of Cthulhu games that dominated last years tally

The year started with a few final sessions of the Mothership campaign, 'A Pound of Flesh', which I fully intend to return to with the new edition of the rules. Most sessions of the other games ran were one-shots, and space fillers (Mork Borg and SLA Industries, Call of Cthulhu: The Necropolis), which were player favourites. There was one longer Call of Cthulhu scenario, 'The Darkened Hermitage' which we ran as a play test. A solid scenario, based in Quebec. Most of this year's GMing was linked to the Bounty Hunters Campaign, using West End Game's Star Wars. A great fun campaign, that was in no small way influenced by the Mandalorian. Maybe The Book of Boba Fett will bring me back to this setting in the New Year.

On to games played. As mentioned, the number of sessions played this year was almost double that of those ran. Brilliant! Thanks to all those who GMed for me this year. Highlights include finally getting to try Cthulhu Dark, Blades in the Dark and Alien. Of course, I will never not play L5R if given the chance, so to run through the 'Code of Bushido' mini-campaign was also a delight. Unexpectedly, Star Frontiers was also a lot of fun (I say unexpectedly, as I didn't know how I would take to an explicitly '80's game which I had no emotional attachment to. As can be seen from the images below, not only more sessions played, but a much wider variety of games too. Win-win!

On the blogging front, things were much more... subdued.
Only one post written all year. Do I expect this to increase next year? I make absolutely no promises, nor do I foresee no great changes on that front.

So, looking forward, at the end of this year, we managed to have a grand total of two face-to-face sessions at the end of the year with the local gamers. Unfortunately, as we head into another lockdown, with curfew, those sessions have moved back online for the foreseeable future (at least till February by my reckoning). With that in mind, larger campaigns, like Masks, or 'Impossible Landscapes' have been shunted down the line, and shorter adventures moved forward.

So here's to another bumper year of (online?) gaming to you all!