Motobushido: Swords and Static

Motobushido coverWe played Motobushido (Alliterated  Games) today and it was a blast. First, the group at the table was in the right mood and everyone played their character beautifully. In descending order of precedence, we had:

  • Edmund as the Sensei (game-master);
  • Jacob playing the Taicho (pack leader), Haruna Tar-Face;
  • Fish playing the Shigaka (historian/chronicler), Nobuyoki;
  • Kit playing the Kusawake (scout), Shiro;
  • Matt playing the Migi Ude (enforcer), Haachi; and
  • Me playing the Shinmai (recruit), Michiko.

Everyone was so much fun, knew their chanbara tropes, and was a cooperative story game player. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have conflicts among the party — on the contrary, we had dramatic confrontations, but because the players wanted to bring twists, not because we were at odds as players. Everyone was delightfully wicked about needling each other’s motobushi and reviving old grudges. I would have loved to play a continuing series with this pack.

The setting is somewhat inspired by Apocalypse World;

In this game, your group will play a pack of motorcycle-riding samurai – motobushi – in the days after a great war ravaged the land. You were soldiers in that war, but your side ultimately lost. The how and why of what has come before are all up to you. You will work as a group to define your own aspects of that war, including any cross-genre story elements your group desires. You will then play out the lives of these motobushi as they travel around in a world which largely rejects their ideals, and tell the stories of their trials and adventures, their wins and their losses, and their inevitable grim fates.

MotobushiLike in AW, a lot of the characters’ and setting’s history is created by the players. You don’t use dice but two decks of playing cards, one for the Sensei and one for the players. Most actions can be merely narrated; you only use the cards when it’s time to take risks (“Gambit”) or fight (“Duels.”) At first, the system is disorienting for those of us used to dice; it looks like no other role-playing game I can think of.

Of all the RPGs I’ve played that used standard playing cards to resolve actions, this has the most enjoyable, tactical and interesting system. It blows the ones in Hillfolk/DramaSystem or Prime Time Adventures out of the water, for example. It’s not just a matter of having more cards, or higher cards; a lot of strategy can go into deciding when to escalate or concede, in order to save an advantage for later.

I’ll try to write more at some point when I have time, but I really enjoyed this game.

[Edit: Edmund posted a much more comprehensive review, from his perspective as GM.]

Thanks All Around

Autumn LeavesIt’s American Thanksgiving, a holiday that can only be properly celebrated by taking stock of the good things in your life, thanking family and friends, and being nice to people. Some of the recent years have been hard on my sense of gratitude, but this year I have plenty to be thankful for.

As usual, I’m most grateful for, and to, my husband, my family, and my friends. They make my life rich and interesting. They help me, cheer me, look out for me, make me laugh, make me think. Particular thanks to my husband Edmund, who’s been thinking up all sorts of little ways to make life easier and more fun for me; and my mom, who is a reliable source of friendship, affirmation, and morality.

More thanks for Paul and Hiro, who make it possible for us to live here, and to Dorene, Steve W., Maureen, and Steve P. for a variety of kindnesses. Thanks also to my online friends, who matter more than they know.

I’m grateful for my cats, entitled little brats that they are. I’m grateful that Valentine and Ubaid get along so well. I’m grateful to friend Brian Vo for attracting my attention to poor Phantom who was in need of rescue, about to be euthanized at a shelter, in time for us to rescue our newest cat. And I’m grateful that all three cats love cuddling, even when it’s untimely! Here’s a picture of Edmund with the beasts:

Cats on the Bed

I’m grateful for my new job, my new boss, my new colleagues, and having health insurance again. I’m grateful that my bosses believed in my abilities to tackle new challenges.

I’m grateful that I’ve been working with wonderful people for excellent companies in the gaming world, writing for Evil Hat Productions, Zombiesmith, and Atlas Games. I’m particularly grateful for project manager/creative director Sean Nittner and editor Karen Twelves on the War of Ashes RPG project.

I’m grateful that I once again had such a great time at Big Bad Con in October — it’s my Christmas, with amazing people all around.

I’m grateful for the people who became aware and active supporters of feminism this year in reaction to shameful displays of misogyny. I’m grateful to people who are waking up to the blatant scourge of racism, to the realities of privilege, to inequality, and are becoming Social Justice Warriors. Or wizards, ninja, clerics, paladins, rangers, rogues, or space marines. I’m grateful that marriage equality is advancing, that more people are starting to grasp that this shit in Ferguson can’t go on, and that turning a blind eye to bigotry isn’t acceptable.

I’m grateful to the scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff that have brought us some amazing, exciting moments in space exploration: Rosetta and Philae reaching comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the testing of Orion, great science on the International Space Station, the deployment of a plethora of CubeSats, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission a.k.a. Mangalyaan and NASA’s MAVEN both visiting Mars (the latter currently just beginning its science mission around the Red Planet), Curiosity roving around on Mars and Cassini sending amazing images of the Saturn neighbourhood little Jade Rabbit from China still sending signals from the Moon, SpaceX Dragon bringing supplies to the ISS including a 3D printer that makes spare parts, and so much more.