The Dresden Files

I have a game to run in *counts on fingers* 6 days and I still cannot get my head around the system used in the Dresden Files. I know it’s based on the Fudge system and that your supposed to use special dice but that is my limit. I’m blaming this problem squarely on my dyslexia.

It’s not that the mechanics look hard or awkward it’s that it’s almost all written in character. Again not a bad thing but when it comes to remembering things having the source material being surrounded by bells, whistles and doodahs means I find it almost impossible to take it in. It’s not just with written work by the way. When I went on my first aid in the work place course a year ago we had a fantastic instructor but I couldn’t remember anything he taught us. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying or that I wasn’t taking notes it was that everything he did he backed it up with a real life example and found it extremely easy to spend more time telling the stories than actually teaching us. It meant that I had a hard time finding the info I needed for my notes in what he was saying but that I also had a hard time following my notes as his stories ended up in there as well. This works the same way with these rpg rules. Even with notes I’m struggling to get through it.

Let’s put it this way I’m considering running the game on the night using the old WOD Hunter rules and merging it with the Dresden setting just so that when the guys come over I can sit them down, have characters done in 10 minutes and be gaming within 20 minutes. We’ve went so long without running a game that I just want to play and I think I’m putting more into learning the rules than writing a decent storyline.

So far I have two returning players who have been with me almost since day one. I also have two completely new folk who’s entire experience is limited to playing Talisman although I was convinced one of them had played Paranoia before. I’m rereading all the novels again but the source of most of my material will be a secret until one of my players works it out.

So to the story-mobile!

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Hunter Journal – Day 3

Well I’m still here. Apart from one pissant speed cop the road back hame was pretty uneventful. Davy phoned us as we were nearly there so we headed for his parents. In his garage we transferred all the guns and armour to his van and departed for his house in Mauchline. We we’re getting settled in and had had to much time to think. Now we wanted our answers. In Mauchline we made a call from a phone box. Rab still had the map he found in the cabin so he dailed the EK number. Graeme must have pissed off whatever was at the other end cause even we heard the phone slam down. I waited five minutes and called back. I explained our situation and what had happened and got a snort of disgust in return. I heard someone shout on Leia. I’m such a dick. I should have asked to speak to her. DOH! She comes on the phone and I tell her everything. She takes my mobile number and hangs up. Looks like our answers would have to wait.

So we go back to Davy’s/ Big Rab tells us on the way back about the girl in the petrol station. She had some sort of spectre floating around her and it seemed to be causing her pain even though she was totally unaware of it. Another weird one. We get to Davy’s and Laura, Stuart’s girlfriend, calls us on the mobile. Apparently Stuart threw a fit in Hudsons and started screaming about monsters and shit. She needs us to help him. If only she knew she’d think we’re all crazy. So we pile into the the van and get back to EK as fast as we can.We pile out at the Town Centre, none of us packing any big weapons, and head for Hudsons. Laura is outside crying. The bouncers threw Stuart out and he took off. Some guy walked past with his girlfriend and we asked him if he’d seen Stuart. He takes an interest in why we want to know and that’s when it hits us, and I mean hits us, headache, tunnel vision, hurts like fuck. This guy is a vampire. He waved over a crowd of his friends, they were vampires. Inside Hudsons, four more vampires. The guy took Graeme aside and asked him some questions and he didn’t look to happy about the answers.

My mobile goes off. It’s Leia. She’s inside Hudsons and figured that was us outside. How she knew I still can’t say (something about powers). We walked in effectively cornering ourselves. Leia is pretty ute, earliy thirties, good figure. We bombarded her with questions but again she was vague. Yes they were vampires. Yes she saw Stuart. No she didn’t know where he went. Apparently we are the Imbuded or something. Blessed or cursed with the power to see evil, and boy is it everywhere! On the plus side we should get some cool powers. I hope wine is to become invisible cause that’s about all I want right now.

She sneaks us out the back way and we stop off at the security office. They seemed to buy our story about Stuart stealing my wallet but their tapes didn’t show Stuart ever leaving Hudsons. With all the vamps about I was pretty worried. That’s when Clare phoned to say Stuart was at our house. We piled into a taxi, hoping to avoid the vamps, and called Davy with instructions to meet us at my place.

Stuart’s in some state. He is wild eyed and swinging from hyperactive raving lunatic to a completely catatonic state. The door knocked and Clare went to answer it. I had to catch her in the hallway to stop her. I’m getting really fucking paranoid at this point! Through the glass I can make out the figure of a fairly big person. I drew my pistol just to be safe. The bedroom window burst in and I could see two of these fucking vampires trying to climb in. The vamp outside started slamming on the door trying to break his way in. I threw Clare into the living room and took a few pot shots at the vamp behind the front door. Big Rab slammed the living room door shut behind us and not a minute too soon as the fuckers burst the front door down. Davy was trying to hold the table against the big picture window as bottles and bricks were flung at us. Graeme shouted at us to get into the kitchen. I pushed Clare ahead of me when a vamp sails through the window at an impossible speed and lands right in front of me. I thought I was a fucking goner. He raised one big clawed and took a swipe but something really fucking odd happened. Graeme took a step forward and yelled ‘Stop!’ and it missed me. I don;t know how it could have but somehow it did. I wasn’t going to stand and worry about it though.

I ran through the kitchen and leant out the window with Graeme and Big Rab close behind. Our escape was only brief. Stuart started screaming and pointing as the vamps ran round the side of the building. We took off again running through all the flats. One of the fuckers moved like lightening again and almost got Big Rab before he stabbed it with a bit of wood. I pulled him back and the others knocked it on it’s ass. Wish we had the shotguns handy for that. It was then that I noticed Davy had joined us. Apparently he warned the others from the kitchen window just as the attack started. One more favour we owe him. We got our asses out of there. Ran till I felt I would burst or puke, nearly did both. Lucky for us Rab has an uncle that lived nearby. We basically went round and invites ourselves in. I’m currently sitting in his living room writing this. I’m gonna have to start carrying some crosses in this knapsack.

Outside the night is alive. Windows are smashing, cars and house alarms are wailing unattended. It’s like living in a warzone. Those fuckers outside must be pretty unhappy that they lost us. I know I’ll feel a lost better when daylight gets her.

——————————-
This was one of the weaker days. It’s always hard crossing over from the players knowing nothing to them starting to learn more and more about the enemy. In this case Willie kept us grounded in the surroundings that we knew intimately from the pub to the homes used in the story. Every location we could draw with our eyes closed.

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Hunter Journal – Day 2

Things went wrong almost as soon as I stopped writing last night. We were going to try and sleep in shifts, god knows we needed the rest. Big Rab was on the first shift although I didn’t get any sleep. There was a report on the radio about a murder in Waterside, a town just up the road. the police believe it was linked to a car theft earlier that evening. We’re gonna have to keep a watch out for the cops now. Big Rab had just lay on the bed to try and get to sleep when the door was knocked, He looked at the spyhole but nobody was there.

I heard movement outside and peeked out to see four or five well dressed guys getting out the back of a truck. They went straight for our borrowed flatbed. The door knocked again. I came up with the idea of storming out like in a movie. Rab was to pull the door open while me and Big Rab jumped out to surprise whoever was there. The hallway was clear apart from one big guy looking back at us as he turned the corner. I raced up the corridor and looked round. The motherfucker had been waiting for me. He waved his hand across his chest and walked off. I was having trouble moving like my breathing was restricted and my chest felt tight. He got about halfway down the stairs before turning back. He motioned as if he throwing something at me as sure as fuck felt like he had. Something smashed into my chest hurling me backwards, my ribs are bruised to fuck. By the time Big Rab got to me the guy had gone. The others joined us at the top of the stairs and Big Rab filled them in. We could only assume the whoever it was would be waiting with his buddies downstairs, we were as good as trapped. Grame and Rab set off the fire alarm to try and buy us some time and as people started flooding out One Punch Wonder and a couple of his henchmen were trying to push past them to get back up the stairs to us. We all pretty much decided the window was the best way.

Running back into our room I was shocked to find a head looking over our window ledge, especially as we were on the second floor. I grabbed a chair and rammed it legs first through the window and into the guys face. The guy screamed and dropped out of sight. I climbed the ledge and jumped, landing as I’d hoped onto the roof of a car below. The drop didn’t seem that high but try it sometime. It seems our peeper had been standing on a friends shoulders and when I hit his buddy they both fell. I scrambled over and held a gun to the guys head to cover everyone’s escape. Once they were all clear I smashed the guy in the face with my gun and ran for the truck. We hit the motorway and fled.

So who were these guys in the suits? I remember seeing a car further up the motorway when I was peeking out. We passed it as we fled and it looked empty but I’m sure it hadn’t been. They weren’t the cops. Highland patrol would never have done anything like that. They didn’t seem to look like the werewolf, I didn’t get the same feelings of revulsion or anything. And what the fuck did that guy do to me? It was like a psychic punch or something. This shit is just getting weirder and weirder.

cottage
Patrick Down @ Flickr

We wanted some answers, hell we needed some, so we decided to go back to where it began. Back to Shotgun Guys cottage. We pulled up outside. Didn’t look like anybody was home. Big Rab burst open the front door and the smell just rolled out. One of Shotgun Guys buddies had been pinned to the wall and gutted. There was blood everywhere. I almost threw up, had to fight with my stomach not to. Without anyone to give us answers we started looking about for the black bags Rab had claimed to see yesterday. In a few we found handguns but I know you can’t buy these to go hunting deer with. On the wall was a great looking longbow which Rab claimed for himself, no big loss, I’d be more likely to hurt myself with it. In the corner was a road map with lots of notes. Towns and villages were marked with names and phone numbers. There wasn’t any here but East Kilbride had a number and two names.

The smell was really starting to get to me. I was gonna step outside when another van came bouncing down the trail and screeched to a stop. Five guys piled out and ran for the cover of the tree lines. Before long their intent was clear when they started firing arrows at the house. Fucking trapped again! So we back ourselves, ready to make another last stand. Five of them storm in, straight into a hail of our gunfire. The first gets blown back out of the doorway, the other four leap towards us. I spy the one at the back has a gun while the others only have chunks of wood(I say only, still wouldn’t like to get thumped with one) so I level a shotgun and blow his head clean off, well not so much off as apart. One minute there was a head the nest it was just a cloud of blood. Someone else offed another, Big Rab smashed one unconscious with the butt of his gun and Rab got one in the leg with the bow. We grabbed our new captives under to have another arrow fired at us from the doorway. Our new attacker broke cover and ran to their van. Rab got him through the neck with the bow. It’s a good thing he wasn’t a decoy or Rab would have been an easy target. From the leaders body I recover a strange amulet shaped like a pentagram and looking all occulty. I take his wolfskin sash as well. Graeme tries to get some answers out of the arrow perforated captive but in a lapse of concentration the guy pulls a knife and swings for Graeme’s face. He was real lucky the butt of the handle hit him instead of the blade! I took the other hostage into the back of the van. I figured we could scare him a little. These guys think they know about werewolves, I figure if I poke him a little with the silver knife, a couple of shallow cuts could get him singing. I think I’m making some headway when Rab and Graeme drag the guy from the van and take aim at him.They were going to execute him. Just shoot him in cold blood. Now I know that with everything that’s happened we’re no angels but every crime we have committed has been in the interests of survival. They don’t seem to be bothered with my reasoning. While Graeme and I are arguing Rab just simply shot him. I actually puked. The whole thing was like a nightmare, worse than anything that has happened to us.

We stole their van and found a mobile in the glove compartment. They had been following us the whole time, had people keeping watch for us. Apparently Mr Monstro has a brother who’s heading this was. I for one don’t want to meet him.

Right now we are heading back to East Kilbride. Home sweet home. We took the van up to Inverness, ditched it and hired a car and we’re driving back down the east coast. Once we hit Edinburgh we can head back west. Better safe than sorry.

I’ve got a shitload of questions and no fucking answers. I’m bruised, cut, tired, sore, confused and worst of all scared. What the fuck did we get into? And why can we see these monsters now?

——————————-

I’ve always wondered how Willie does it. He managed to make combat feel like part of the story rather than a break away where we have to roll dice until folk run out of hit points.

I should point out that during all gun fights we missed far more than we hit but as with all things you only ever remember the successful attempts which this journal highlights.

Looking back on it I’m still a little confused as to who the bad guys were and who the good guys were. I know we found out in the end but I’ll be buggered if I can remember who they were.

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Hunter Journal – Day 1

Day one, the first day of my new life. Two fucking words = whole world of trouble. It started with the camping trip.  We were in a secluded spot, a short car  journey from Aviemore. Our plans reached about as far as getting drunk and stoned. About twelve hours ago our plans took a turn for the worst, it took us a further four hours to really notice it. It all started with the damn dog.

Werewolf
PSD @ Flickr

We had been walking by the river, acting like big drunk kids, pushing each other into the water, hitting each other with sticks, stupid childish things that drunken guys do. When the dog came out of the bushes it came as quite a shock. Now personally, I fucking hate dogs. I’m pretty scared of them and they don’t seem to like me much either. This was a dog from my nightmares. Fucking huge, looked like it could take a chunk from any of us. That stupid bugger Davy starts waving a stick at it. Fearless it was too, just kept coming towards us growling. forced us all back to into the river. Then it turned tail and ran off, but that sure as hell wasn’t our doing.

When we got back to the camp things didn’t get any better. Someone had been there, going through out things. Nothing was missing but nobody likes getting their shit disturbed. Me, Rab and Stuart jumped in Davy’s van and followed the tyre tracks. They led us to a little wooden cottage, falling apart with age. Rab started nosing about when the owners turned up. Five folk with shotguns (and that fucking dog again) tell Rab that it’s in our best interests to clear out. Wish I’d taken that advice.

So we hurry back to the others and get packed up. The campsite is cleared in five minutes, tents are just pulled up and thrown into the back of the van. We get turned around and the fucking van dies. Davy jumps out and starts tinkering with the engine. Stuarts getting really nervous by this point and climbs up on to the roof to keep lookout I suppose. Big Rab gives him some company. Then it starts to get dark in the middle of summer, late evening and it’s getting dark. Heavy clouds were rolling in and the wind was building up to a gale. You could just feel the change in the air, kinda like how you can feel a thunder storm coming. In fact it was exactly like that. From the inside of the van we all heard Stuart’s mobile phone beep. Now his phones loud but to hear it above all the wind and engine noise? Not possible. Next thing Stuarts phone hits the windscreen in pieces as Big Rab jumps from the roof of the van and takes off at a run up the road. We can only look on with a bemused ‘What the fuck?” Then the wind picked up, whipping all the bushes and trees into a frenzy. One of the shotgun welcoming committee bursts from the treeline screaming at us to run. He turns and lets off his shotgun into the trees, but we can’t see if it hits a damn thing. So I jump and start shouting at Davy. “Come on the fuck man, we need to get the fuck out of here.” Davy slams down the bonnet and runs around the back of the van. He jumps and gets a big fucking machete, sticks it in the ground and jumps underneath. All the phones start beeping and they sound very loud for small phones. One text message. RUN. Shotgun guy runs back into the trees , shooting at god knows what. More shots ring out from further up the road. I run to the front of the van to see Big Rab standing over a dead body shooting at some big fucking thing.

If I thought that mutt from earlier was the worst thing I would see today then I was very fucking wrong. This thing stood eight feet tall and was covered in black fur. It’s forearms were as think as my head, it’s claws were the length of my forearms. Big Rab let off a few more shots then this thing takes off heading for the bushes. Big Rab runs back towards us. The monster appears back on the path behind him. The whole time Day’s still under the van and I’m kicking him. Then Stuart takes off like a fucking bunny and flees into the woods. Shotgun guy bursts from cover and heads for the two Rabs at the front of the van and starts taking shots at the big fucking beast again. Davy jumps out from underneath, jumps in the van and guns the engine into life. I run off after Stuart I’m able to catch up with him. He was crying, just sitting by the river and crying. We gotta go I tell him as I drag him back. I throw him into the back of the van and the shotgun guy throws his knapsack in behind us. He shoots this thing in the chest at point blank range, I swear I could see right through it. It must have been knocked back about ten feet by the blast. Nothing could survive that. He grabbed the door to pull himself in and the beast spears him from behind with those big fucking claws.It was horrible, blood was pissing from the guys chest all over the back of the van. It ripped out his stomach. Davy floors the van and we spend the next ten minutes bouncing about like fuck before we hit the main road. We pull into a layby and breath a sigh of release. Then we take a collective ‘What eh fuck’ before letting loose with questions that none of us can answer. Rab tells us to wait there and runs off up the road. Stuarts found himself a bottle of vodka and is well on the way to unconsciousness which is probably for the best.

So Big Rab starts ripping the tents up and using the canvas to clean up the van as best we can. I grab Shotgun guys knapsack and start nosing about. There is a journal (my inspiration for this), a file of computer print outs from the net, some chocolate, some ammo, a few handguns and a big ornate silver knife. Flicking through the file one word jumps out at me, Werewolf. How the fuck are we supposed to accept that? What the fuck tried to warn us? Mostly I wanted to know what the fuck was going on.

We take some time to tally up and find that we now have three handguns, a shotgun, a machete and this big silver knife. A Fiesta comes flying up the roaf and screeches to a halt beside the van, out steps Rab. “I stole it” he proudly announced. So Big Rab and me jump in the back. Graeme and Rab up front. We tell Davy to take the van and meet us at the travel lodge in Aviemore. Then another car pulls up. It’s like a flatbed farmers truck. This big guy steps out and asks us “Is that your car?” So I get out the passenger seat and say “No mate, it’s a rental.” He walks over to me, grabs me by my collar and says “You only had a van!” He throws me over the car with one arm. Graeme jumps out the passenger seat and gets knocked aside. The guy starts changing, growing, sprouting hair. I’m back on my feet and rooting around in my (Shotgun Guys) knapsack for a weapon when I grab the big silver knife. Mr Monstro jumps in to the car making a grab at Rab who managed to get his door open and jump clear. The thing grabs the front seats and pulls himself round till he’s level with Big Rab. Big Rab levels the shotgun and fires. In the enclosed space the sound is immense. All the Fiestas windows blow out. Mr Monstro fires through the windscreen and collapses across the bonnet before sliding off in the blood. I jump forward and ram the knife through the back of his neck. He throws me back but I keep a grab of the knife, ripping it out as I fall. Rab jumps back in and guns the Fiestas engine, flooring it and pinning Mr Monstro between the fiesta and his own truck. Big Rab levels the shotgun at his head and blows it off. Before we can register any of this police lights appear further back, from the way that Rab came. We root around on the dead body for car keys. Davy Takes off in the van with Stuart and we follow in the flatbed.

We caught up with Davy,got out stuff and headed out to a more out of the way travel lodge on the motorway. We’ve booked in and barricaded the door with the bed. We’re all really tired but none of us reckon we can sleep. I had a bit of a look through Shotgun Guys journal and files, it’s all cray shit about werewolves and vampires. I hope none of this is real, but if you can’t trust your own eyes… I just want to go home. Some of us feel like we should go back to the cabin and find Shotgun Guys friends, they might need our help but then again what can we do? I just want to stop feeling like my head is up my arse.

————————————————

This game was run by Willie. He has never been the biggest fan of rules and if I recall correctly it was his first time running a World of Darkness game of any kind. I think the WOD system suited him perfectly as he is a very story led GM. He relied on Mark and myself for rules clarifications and didn’t worry about what you could and couldn’t do with the rules. It was a better game for it.

It should be noted that in this game I am known as Big Rab for those that haven’t known me in real life for the last 15 years. You can tell where someone knows me from by whether they call me Big Rab, Robert or Bob.

All our characters had the skills we ourselves had. When I fired that shotgun I was doing so at huge minus to my rolls where as Davy was doing really well fixing that van using his own experience and skills to give him bonus dice.

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The Journal

I know, I know. I said I’d not be blogging over here for a while but I managed to find a long lost manuscript in my desk at work today whilst clearing out pedestal.

Journal
Mollycakes @ Flickr

Many many moons ago when our group averaged six or seven players per game we decided to run a Hunter game where we played ourselves. Willie would be the storyteller and everyone else drew up a character as close to themselves as possible. It’s been one of the few times that I’ve gamed where the trip home at the end of the night still had me on edge.

As part of his character Mark wrote a journal detailing his findings and what had happened to us. Rereading it still gets the hairs on the back of my neck standing.

————————————————————

And God said “Let there be light” and there was light.
And God said that light was good and God separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light Day and the darkness Night.

To whoever finds this journal.

The entries in this journal may seem like a fantasy story, the ravings of a lunatic, nothing more than an imagination at wild. I can assure you that it is not.

I am fully expecting to die or disappear in strange or suspicious circumstances. Paranoia has become my watchword. If you are reading this then it is most likely that I already have. Perhaps what you read here may sound outrageous but stop and think. Do you know anyone who might be interested in this journal? Perhaps the strange guy at the office who talks about monsters. Perhaps your brother-in-law who attacked someone while shopping last week because the voices told him to. If you can pass them this journal you will be doing them a far greater service than you can ever imagine.

“There are more things on heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

I’m babbling now, so it’s best that I stop now. Be careful out there.

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Taking Fandom Just a Step Too Far?

When you get involved with specific games for any length of time and involve yourself with the world surrounding the creation of those games your bound to come across people in the industry at some point. Back in 1999 and 2000 I was quite involved with the WoD-L mailing list whilst at college. I’m not sure if I became that involved because I lived and breathed White Wolf at that point or because i wanted to waste time but either way quite a few of the authors involved with WW were active posters on the mailing list.

One in particular was Clayton Oliver who was just going through the final stages of the Revised Assamites Handbook. One day after Clayton posted one of his usual messages a few of use decided to start up an unofficial fan club. We loved his work that we had read on the Assamites to that point and as he seemed to be a fun guy, all be it a fun guy that had access to lots of guns, we decided to show our appreciation.

Over the course of the next few days we followed Clayton about the mailing list like a group of star struck teen pop fans following their idol about the shopping mall. We created a fake newsletter and came up with designs for a Claytonosaur plushie toy that would be available for members only. It was obviously all intended as a laugh and in good spirits but I get the impression that after a few days of this Clayton was getting a little annoyed with us. One person even created the fan site web page for us although I think that lasted half a day before we took it down.

Of course this is all coming from someone that used to sign off his posts to the mailing list as Ol’ Shuggie the ancient and decrepit keeper of Haqim’s half eaten ham sandwich. I was never someone that found humour easy at the best of times.

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Suffering For His Art

Apart from the occasional Discworld game I think most of our games have always been based on epic fantasy/scifi stories and so nine times out of ten humour would have been really out of place in game.

One game really stands out however.

Caution Tape
Picture Perfect Pose on Flickr

I would never call our World of Darkness games dark gothic horror or whatever the classic WoD games are usually described as. They are dark and they can be horrific but in all honesty they are usually on par with the Blade trilogy of films. We had however just gone through a couple of sessions where we had been going up against a Sabbat pack and in all honesty the game was starting to turn me off WoD. I’m not a gore and horror fan. Unfortunately a few of our players met their final death in this last session and so were due to bring in new characters for the next session.

This is where it gets a little weird. One of our D&D GM’s had been playing a bad ass Ventrue who had been wasted and decided it was time to lighten the game up a little. We never did find out just what clan his new character was from…

Picture the scene. It’s a Saturday night and I’ve just pulled a 12 hour shift in the supermarket stacking the shelves with beer, wines and spirits. A few of my friends had been in the pub beforehand and the game was due to start at 10pm sharp. With my shift ending just as the game was due to start I jumped in a taxi with a few cans of beer and arrived not long after the start time. I walked into the living room expecting to see everyone worked up and ready to play and instead everyone was sitting in deathly silence staring at the fireplace. It was at this point our friendly D&D GM walked into the room from the kitchen with our WoD Storyteller in toe.

Now before I go any further you should probably have your mental image of the aforementioned GM. Think of a guy around about six foot four inches tall that is overweight and has a beer gut. In fact think of the Tron guy and stick a creepy unshaven face onto him. That is roughly our man. Now dress him in a gold lamay dress, a blonde curly wig and makeup. Think of the worst transvestite you’ve ever seen and you might come close.

This guy sauntered into the room as if nothing was up, sat down and proceeded to get his gaming materials out of his handbag. He played the entire game dressed like that and no one said a word about it. It didn’t take long to work out why he was dressed like that once we found out what his character was like. We never did find out if he was a Malkavian or a Toreador but either way he suffered for his art.

It was certainly a break from the gore of the weeks before but I think it provided it’s own horror’s for us to work through.

A Butterfly Dreaming is hosting this months RPG Bloggers Carnival. Although you might not pick it up from my entry it’s topic for this month is actually Humour!

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I Want Fluff And Lots Of It!

I love reading rule books and I love reading campaign settings even more. I’ve went on before about how I write campaign settings just for myself even if no one else will ever actually play them so it comes as no surprise that I’ve got a little fed up rereading the D&D 4e books and that I’m looking for something ‘new’.

Coming home from my dyslexia testing on Monday I stopped by one of the larger book store chains in Glasgow to see if there was anything worth picking up. Usually I head in there just to see if they have a specific book but this day I decided just to have a look around the fiction areas as well. They have a small section for RPG books these days and it’s never really been stocked that well. They have the usual D&D books as well as the occasional TV related system such as the Firefly or Battlestar Galactica books but apart from the occasion WoD or Cthulu book thats it.

Scion : Hero

What they did have though was a few of the Scion books. I’d heard a little about them before and to be honest what I had heard didn’t tickle my fancy but after a quick flick through it is very similar to a setting I tried to write about 10 years ago using the old WoD system. I stood for a good 20 minutes reading the fluff that goes along with the Hero book. Why can’t games be released with a backstory this rich all the time? Needless to say I’ll be picking up the books on my next trip to the gaming store even if it is only to read them and never actually get my players into a game.

What other systems are there out there that go into the backstory in this much detail in the main rulebooks?

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Top Five Reasons To Not Upgrade To The Latest Version

Why do I have such a downer on updates to game systems?

books

1. It’s expensive.
I’ve spent thousands of pounds over the years on roleplay books. At least 90% of that was on supplements and campaign settings rather than rulebooks so you can understand when I get a little miffed when the publishers bring out a new version that makes all those supplements and settings worthless in the eyes the new system.

2. Same old story just different rules.
So when WOD went through a reboot very little changed. The mechanics where mixed up and ‘refined’ and that’s about it as the same basic story kept going. To be fair to White Wolf they basically shot themselves in the foot when they first published that Gehenna was on it’s way. Or were they just very shrewd people that knew exactly how many people would buy the new rules?

With Dungeons and Dragons 4ed  they’ve basically turned it into D&D lite. It’s not a refinement of the previous games or an expansion on the system. They’ve took the popular parts from online computer games and melded it together with the previous rules to create something that doesn’t feel, to me at least, like any D&D game I’ve seen before. Why not keep the old D&D line going or at least fix the bits that didn’t work and release 4ed as a new game line but one that uses the same world? Have it as an extension of the mini battles game and market it to the crowd of young gamers moving up from Pokemon and the other card games that seem to be morphing into spinnig top battles.

3. Did I say it was expensive?
Forget the cost of the books I’ve bought in the past that are now worthless. Lets look at how much it costs to get a Forgotten Realms game going now that 4ed is out. The DM/players guides come in at $60 for both of them and the setting books add another $60-70 onto that as well. Your talking over $120 just to play the basic setting and never mind any of the expansions they bring out in the future. What if you go to all that trouble and you find you really don’t like the new setting or you really don’t like the new 4ed rules?

4. Physical space
I live in a normal sized house in the UK. We have plenty of shelf space and yet I am forced to keep a sizable amount of my books in boxes in the attic. I cannot find anywhere to keep my almost complete collection of oWOD books never mind space for the new system should I ever give in and buy it.

5. Mental space
I’ve already memorised the rules and mechanics of 13 separate gaming systems over the years. Do I really need to squeeze another one in? At what point will my mind begin to fail and the AD&D equipment charts start to meld together and be mistaken for the Small Creatures Crit Table from Rolemaster?

The old games worked. Sure they had their flaws but so do the new versions. Pick one and stick with it but I just wish the old system I loved still had official work being published for them.

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The Dice Bag Goes Back To School

Do you know the last time I had to learn a completely new gaming system? I’m not talking about jumping between editions of games here but proper separate systems. The last time was fourteen years ago when I had to learn the WOD system after a ten hour shift and several cans of lager. Thankfully WOD is basically a very simple system but it would have been a totally different ball game if the system was any more complex.

As those that follow this blog may know I’m coming out of retirement as a gamesmaster very soon to run a Shadowrun game. Now those systems we play I know off by heart but I’ve only ever played SR once and it was as a player 18 years ago.

I’ve read through the rules several times now and its a fairly simple system but I cannot for the life of me retain any of it in my head. Have I reached my limit? Have I got to the same stage as Homer Simpson and for every new bit of information that goes in two bits fall out?

How do you go about learning a new system? Do you just go with a brute force attack and sit through your evening reading and rereading the rules and playing games regardless with the books in front of you or do you have a way of remembering the differences between systems and using those as hooks for learning the new rules?

At the moment I’m going with the brute force idea but it’s failing badly. I usually go through the character creation on my own to pick up the basics and repeatedly build the same generic character over and over again. Normally this will highlight those few areas I have trouble with or can’t quite get correct in my head but I’ve drawn up three characters so far and you’d think one was from WOD, one from D&D and the other from a completely homebrew game that is based on playing germs and living with the bleach under your kitchen sink.

I wonder if you can get any nanotech that make learning gaming rules easier?

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