Big Bad Con is the best! – Part 2

(This is my continued recap of my weekend at Big Bad Con.)

Saturday Switcheroo

I woke up and showered groggily. Edmund got to the hotel to set up for the first instance of his Mutants & Masterminds game, “The League of Extraordinary Felines – 1854.” I went to get us coffee at the ad-hoc counter near the Big Bad Con registration desk ($4.00 for drip coffee… I know BBC offers free coffee but I was too groggy to find it!) and new buttons for completing playbooks in Big Bad World.

After taking his coffee and button to Edmund, I went to the Teens Room where my friend Christine’ Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game was scheduled. I so wanted to play this game! the premise was awesome: set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, you are trying to break the Avengers from their cells on the Raft, the mobile supermax prison. And Christine is a great GM. But unfortunately, she only had two players show up and that was just too few for the adventure to work.

Christine and I decided to go pick up boarding passes for Games on Demand, so we could at least play together. We ended up in Brian Williams’ game of Juggernaut (Bully Pulpit Games.) Brian played the bureaucratic Mr. Brasseau, Aaron was the visionary Dr. Takahashi, Ian play the detached Dr. Dörflinger, Tom played the shadowy Simms, Christine played the earnest Dr. Chandrakar, and I was the results-minded Major Van Der Meer. And of course Juggernaut was always right.

Christine and I met with folk, including my husband Edmund, Christine’s husband Alan, and our friend Adi, when we took a break for lunch. We were hurrying to get back to Games on Demand for the next time block and restaurant service was slow. Amidst the hustle and bustle thanks to the large number of people trying to sign up for GoD, we were unable to get Adi, Christine, Edmund, and I seated at the same game. Christine and Edmund decided to go home (Christine to her adorable three-year-old, Edmund to our elderly cats), and Adi and I landed in a game of Dungeon World (Sage Kobold Productions.)

Our party was composed of Simon, playing Thalian the elven fighter; Adi, playing Kaylin Moravis the elven ranger; William, playing Jez the vulpine (kitsune– or anthropomorphic fox-like) bard; [Name Withheld], playing Rikrakrok the gnome wizard; and me, playing Lynniel Bonebreaker the barbarian.

The game was run by Arthur Berman, a first-time visitor to Big Bad Con. I thought he was a great GM: considerate, clear, smart, quick to think on his feet, and well-versed about his game. I hope he will come back to Big Bad Con! He had a a difficult player to deal with but handled it well. [Name Withheld] was creative and enthusiastic but turned out to be uninterested in listening to anyone but himself. He did not play well with others.

[Name Withheld], this note is for you: I know this was your first time playing a game Powered by the Apocalypse, and I also suspect you’re pretty young (but I’m not good at guessing age.) You are smart and have a lot of fun ideas, and I hope you soon learn to listen to other people around the table—and not just in games, either. You will have much more fun and make friends when you start bouncing these ideas with others, and make others shine in the game as much you want to shine yourself.

In the mean time, my barbarian ended collapsing the cursed temple onto Rikrakrok the gnome wizard’s head and mine, rather than let its mojo fall into an enemy’s hands. I met Death and was turned into a paladin of Order!

After the game I said goodbye to Adi, who was going to have dinner with her husband and adorable kid, and went to my room for a nap before the game I was running from 8pm to midnight. I ordered room service so I could get dinner while reviewing my game notes.

Then I went to the scheduled room and ran Alas for the Awful Sea (Storybrewers Roleplaying) for three wonderful players: Manuel, who played Luther the old sea dog; Jacob, who played Captain Zacharias Nielsen; and Ariel, who played Mrs. Pleasance Houston, a merchant. I will post a detailed game summary later, but in short the game went well; I had a blast and I think the players enjoyed it too.

Tomorrow: Sunday Supers!

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RPG a Day: ‘Til Death Do Us Part

14. What is an awesome RPG for open-ended campaign play?

This is sort of the opposite of the Day 9 question. Most RPGs work for this, unless they are specifically designed for short play. What really matters is how engaged everyone at the table is, and whether you’re tracking what has gone on from episode to episode so dangling plot threads and interesting NPCs can be reincorporated in play, making the GM’s life easier (the adventures write themselves) and the players’ actions more important (they impact the game world.)

That said, some games make it particularly easy for me, because the mechanics are light enough that statting more NPCs and creating new locations and plots does not create a burden on the GM. I particularly like games based on Fate Accelerated (like War of Ashes or Dresden Files Accelerated), PDQ (like Truth & Justice, Jaws of the Six Serpents, or The Zorcerer of Zo), or Heroquest (like Mythic Russia or of course Glorantha.) Some (not all) games Powered by the Apocalypse work well for this style of play, like Dungeon World or Monster of the Week.

#RPGaDay2017

RPG a Day: What I’ve Been Playing

4. What’s an RPG item you have played a lot since August 2016?

The roleplaying game I most played since the last instance of #RPGaDay2016 is probably Dungeon World because my husband has been writing and playtesting a hack called “Land of Ten Thousand Gods.” I have been included in three different groups of adventurers, first playing Rahi the Relic-Bearer (~fighter), and more recently Jewel the Wilderness Guide (~ranger) and Sabitri the Shapeshifter (~druid).

All three groups met or are meeting online via Skype or Google Hangouts. I really hope Edmund gets the hack to a point where it can be released for general consumption because it’s such a rich setting, full of marvels and interesting monsters, with player characters that feel important to the story.

#RPGaDay2017

Our Heroes - Ram, Rahi, Merit, and Kanta. Art by Claudia Cangini.
Our Heroes – Ram, Rahi, Merit, and Kanta. Art by Claudia Cangini.

Dungeon World: Our Heroes!

Our Heroes - Ram, Rahi, Merit, and Kanta. Art by Claudia Cangini.
Our Heroes. Front: Ram the Holy Killer; behind him, from left to right: Rahi the Relic Bearer, Merit the Trickster, and Kanta the Mage. Art by Claudia Cangini, 2016.

We’ve been playing Dungeon World for over a year now, in Edmund’s own setting inspired by Southern Asia, “The Land of Ten Thousand Gods.” We’re nearing the epic conclusion of a big story arc so as a holiday present to the whole group, I commissioned a portrait of our four characters from the amazing Claudia Cangini. Tonight I unveiled it for the group and people sounded very happy — I know I am!

For those who, like me, enjoy seeing how a piece of art comes together, I will post the various steps of Claudia’s work. All images are in the slideshow at the bottom.

Continue reading “Dungeon World: Our Heroes!”

RPG a Day: Best game session this year

2. What is the best game session you have had since August 2015?

Tough one! Since then I’ve had great games at conventions like Dragonflight, CelestiCon, and Big Bad Con, as well as with friends in our semi-regular campaigns of Night Witches, Bloodshadows, and Dungeon World, and great one-offs of Monster of the Week, Fiasco, Kapow, Icons, and many more.

I think my top three are Christine’s Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game “We Are Iron Man” at Big Bad Con; an episode of Night Witches game-mastered by Alan where we had particularly intense drama last winter; and as overall winner, I think I’ll have to go with a recent episode of Edmund’s Dungeon World: Land of Ten Thousand Gods, “The Return of Ram,” which was so very good.

 

#RPGaDay2016

 

 

As the Dungeon World Turns

COver of Dungeon WorldDungeon World (Sage Kobold Productions 2011, 2012) is probably the best-known descendant of Apocalypse World, the family of games “Powered by the Apocalypse” (PbtA for short.) It owes its popularity not only to its use of the most popular trappings in the history of role-playing (the Gygaxian dungeon crawl and character roles) but also to the clarity of the writing and some simple but effective choices of mechanics.

One of its significant modifications to the AW model is the way characters gain experience and advance. In AW (including the second edition previews released so far) and several of the PbtA games based on it, one player and the GM each highlight a stat on your character sheet at the beginning of the session; your character gains experience by using (i.e., rolling dice based on) the highlighted stats. I really hate this; typically, the stats highlighted are not the ones that interest me as player. In addition, a few specific character moves may instruct you to mark experience under limited circumstances.

In Dungeon World, there are no highlighted stats; instead, you mark experience every time you roll a failure (6 or less on two six-sided dice.) In addition, the End of Session move rewards the behaviours typical to the Gygaxian inspiration: playing your character’s alignment, learning something new and important about the world, overcoming a notable monster or enemy, and looting a memorable treasure. Between these, you can expect characters to earn two to six experience points per session.

But there is one more thing that can earn you experience, and it’s very unexpected in light of the old-school model DW emulates: relationships between characters. Here is how it works: Continue reading “As the Dungeon World Turns”

The Land of Ten Thousand Gods: Map

I like making graphics!  My husband has written a hack of Dungeon World for a setting inspired by the mythologies of the Indian sub-continent and southeast Asia, called the Land of Ten Thousand Gods.  We play it twice a month over Google Hangouts, and fellow player Sean Nittner has posted the tale of the first few episodes here, here, and here.  Edmund created a hex map, which I re-interpreted in my own way.  (Right now, we’re in Fish-for-Dinner, the city on the coast at the lower edge of the big river delta.)

wet-plains

I wanted it to look a bit odd, like watercolours and ink by an NPC artist who doesn’t normally do maps, working on the direction of the adventurers.  I also wanted to keep it sketchy because in Dungeon World the players may keep adding locations in-between known sites.  I used MyPaint 1.1.0 because it offers an essentially infinite canvas, and added the symbols and labels in GIMP.  The font is Samarkan, obtained from fonthindi.blogspot.com; the symbols are primarily from StarRaven’s Sketchy Cartography Brushes on starraven.deviantart.com and a few other brush packs.

The Land of Ten Thousand Gods: Relationship Map

My husband has written a hack of Dungeon World for a setting inspired by the mythologies of the Indian sub-continent and southeast Asia, called the Land of Ten Thousand Gods.  We play it twice a month over Google Hangouts, and fellow player Sean Nittner has posted the tale of the first few episodes here, here, and here.  I made a relationship map of our four characters; naturally it evolves after every episode but I’m rather happy with the style.

Relationship map

The relationship map is created in GIMP; the pseudo-Sanskrit font is Samarkan, obtained from fonthindi.blogspot.com and the main text font is Gillius ADF No2 from Arkandis Digital Foundry; the arrow brushes are from SparklingTea on Project-GimpBC.  The background image is a Victorian engraving of the Pudhu Mandapam, Madurai, India.

The character pictures, well… Not so open source. Merit’s avatar is a pirate elf by Minttu; Kanta’s is a photo of Goddess Kali makeup by AllMadHera; Ram Jul’Rash’s is a Dwarf avatar created by Mike “Daarken” Lim for the online game The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age; and Rahi’s is a promo shot of Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris in the movie John Carter.  Used without permission, no copyright challenge intended.