City of Mist: Dead of Night

Fresh Start

New month, new year, new decade: I finally launched the City of Mist game I had been prepping since late November, running online via Roll20 and Discord. I’m not ready yet for a game review, but here is what’s going on with the campaign setup and launch.

I had backed this Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) game at the PDF-only level in the original Kickstarter funding campaign in 2016. Since then, I had received not only the materials covered by backer tier, but a goodly number of supplemental materials since publisher Son of Oak Game Studio was generous with free content to backers. But that bounty became daunting: there seemed to be so much reading to do that I kept pushing in back in the reading queue in favour of shorter games and fiction.

When I did start reading, however, I was soon swept away by the atmosphere in the setting portions, and delighted to finally see an interesting mashup of the PbtA structure with the narrative weight of Fate Core‘s Aspects under the guise of “tags.” But I will review the system in another post when I have played enough to be satisfied that I really grokk it. Suffice it to say that I soon found myself planning an online campaign.

Continue reading “City of Mist: Dead of Night”

My 2019 in Gaming

I’ve been neglecting my blog for all sorts of reasons I don’t want to get into right now, but it’s a new year and time for a fresh start. It’s time to once again look at the games I played in the year that just ended, and see if I accomplished some of my goals.

I played a total of 36, up from last year’s low of 29; this included 14 tactical and strategic games (board, card, and miniatures games), and 22 narrative game (role-playing games, story games, live-action role-playing). Some 23 of these (64%) were new to me, i.e., I had never played them before, including 7 playtests (19% of the total). But there were several repeat games thanks to a few recurring campaigns, particularly 13th Age, Agon 2e (playtest), Dragon Age, Journey Away, and Paladin, as well as perennial favourite Spirit Island.

With five years of data, here is what the breakdown looks like:

For the last four years I’ve also been keeping track of who I play with. It looks like this:

I have been trying to play with more new and diverse people, and that seems to be working, although there is room for improvement.

Here is what my list of games looked like in 2019:

Continue reading “My 2019 in Gaming”

My 2018 in gaming

[Updated to add the names of some women and enby game designers I had somehow failed to copy-paste from my spreadsheet.]

Once again, I review the list of games I played during the year we just said goodbye and good riddance to.

Despite having fewer health problems in 2018, the number of different games once again dropped, to only 28, down from 62 in 2015, 47 in 2016, and 44 in 2017. I had a lot of challenges this year again, plus little money to attend conventions (only Big Bad Con and one day at KublaCon), and no space to play at home.

As a result, I played only 7(!) different tactical and strategic games (board, card, and miniatures games), from 30 in 2015, 26 in 2016, and 18 in 2017. That makes up 25% of the titles I played.

On the narrative game front (role-playing games, story games, and live-action role-playing), I played 21 or 75% of my titles, compared to 32 in 2015, 21 in 2016, and 26 in 2017. Of these 21 games, I ran 7, or 33%: At the Stroke of Midnight, Blue Rose RPGFate of the InquisitorMisspent YouthThe Quiet YearThreadbare RPG, and Turn. Continue reading “My 2018 in gaming”

Play report: At the Stroke of Midnight

Continuing with play reports from Big Bad Con: Friday morning in Games on Demand, I ran Meguey Baker’s At the Stroke of Midnight (Night Sky Games). The premise:

The sun sinks in the sky, bringing long shadows and a wisp of cool air. In a handful of hours it will be midnight. The veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is growing thinner with each passing moment. At midnight it will open, and those who are able to stand unshaken before the Beloved Dead will be allowed a boon. You and your friends set out for the graveyard, each eager to meet the Beloved Dead and ask a favor from those who have gone before.

It felt perfect to play in October.

System and Setup

Meguey released it three years ago; the full version which I was using is on her Patreon site, but she also released a basic free version on her Medium blog, so you can take a look.

I had scheduled it as a two-hour game, but it’s hard to gauge how long a given episode will take: you can play with 2 to 6 players and the Yahtzee-like mechanics make it difficult to guess when the end is near. As play aids, I had created a cheat sheets for the Signs; and I used my dry-erase Noteboard so we could draw the elements we created. Continue reading “Play report: At the Stroke of Midnight”

Misspent Youth: Young, Gifted, and Black

Setup

Last week at Big Bad Con, I ran Robert Bohl’s role-playing game Misspent Youth. Because I was running in a four-hour time block and it’s always a challenge for me to stay within the scheduled time, I cut through setting and character creation by using Misha Bushyager’s playset “Young, Gifted, and Black” from the recent supplement Sell Out With Me. The premise:

“What happens when a group of students from a predominantly Black, inner city public school score highly on a test that propels us to a predominantly white private, suburban boarding school? Will the other students accept us for who we are or will they make stupid ass assumptions about us?

“Will we be able to fit in with them? Do we even want to? Will we have to sacrifice our identities to become more like them or can we plant the seeds of true multiculturalism and make them more like us?”

I had two players, Kai and Joshua, and they were fantastic. The two characters selected from the clique in Misha’s playset were Mike (played by Joshua) and Sandra (played by Kai):  Continue reading “Misspent Youth: Young, Gifted, and Black”

My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 4

Sunday

2018-10-14 10.05.32
Regional map
Initially I had not signed up for anything on Sunday morning because I feared con exhaustion might set in by then. But I woke up in plenty of time to make the 9AM games so I grabbed a free coffee at the registration table and signed up for Brian Vo’s “It Makes A Village,” which sounded like Dungeon World meets The Quiet Year. Spoiler alert: it was. Our characters were:
  • Tenrissa the gnome artificer and tinkerer (played by Joey);
  • Matais the human fighter and village carpenter (played by Matt);
  • Elizabeth “Lizzie” Silverstone the elf bard who lived above the bakery (played by Summer);
  • Odd Ev the human thief, secret Santa to the village, who did odd jobs (played by Jim); and
  • Ysolde the human mage and would-be schoolmistress (played by me).
Continue reading “My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 4”

My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 3

Saturday

For my Saturday I had scheduled an array of playtests, all games currently being designed by people I love. I started with (Abyssal), a game Forged in the Dark by my friends and colleagues Ash Cheshire and Edward Turner. The premise:
Whenever humans build cities, they create shadows… hidden, dark places beneath the surface, where creatures that aren’t human gather. Some might call them monsters, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But you? You don’t belong to the surface or the shadows. You are in-between… cursed, or infected, or bitten but not yet turned. You stand at the edge of the abyss. Will you hold on to your humanity at all costs, or will you embrace the change that is happening to you?
It was cool to be the first outside group ever to playtest this. There were three settings to explore: Paris, 1793; London, 1888; or Las Vegas, 1971, and the players were asked to pick. Continue reading “My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 3”

My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 2

Friday

My offerings for Games on Demand (2nd year in a row)
On Friday morning I was scheduled to run a shift at Games on Demand from 9AM to 1PM. Although GoD shifts are all four-hour time blocks, GMs are encouraged to run two-hour games twice because this is useful to attendees who have just a bit of time between events. I was offering the same two-hour games as last year: Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year and Meguey Baker’s At the Stroke of Midnight. It was a treat for me to get to run both: the first group chose to venture in a graveyard at midnight to get a boon from a departed loved one, and the second to follow a community’s preparation for the expected winter hardships. Both groups of players totally “got” the spirit of the games.  Continue reading “My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 2”

My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 1

Last weekend was the eighth edition of Big Bad Con. I have had the privilege of attending every single instance and even to be part of the staff for the last few ones. It’s my very favourite weekend of the year, my Christmas.

In the last 25 years I have worked for many other conventions (organized events, volunteered, or been on staff) and attended many more, but Big Bad Con is different. It launched in 2011 with a mission to build community among tabletop and live-action role-players. Within a few years, this expanded to mean more: to make the community welcoming to all and particularly to marginalized, vulnerable, under-represented groups. Here are a few of the practical steps taken: 

Continue reading “My Big Bad Con 2018: Part 1”

Is ENniebody listening?

The Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (the “ENnies”) are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop roleplaying gaming.
—ENnie Awards website

The 2018 ENnie award nominees were announced on July 4 and as of July 11 the public can vote for their candidates of choice.

Every year I am flabbergasted that some high-quality releases did not make it onto the list. I know one reason for their absence is that it’s a big job and expense for small press publishers to send the application package. But even so, some electronic releases must surely have been submitted?

Conversely, I am also surprised, every year, by how many names I don’t recognize. I live and breathe RPGs, I have made the majority of my friendships through gaming, I read RPGs like others read the Wall Street Journal. In social media, I mostly talk about RPGs, with other gamers.

This year is a little more striking than usual on both fronts, taking me back to the earlier days of the ENnies. And that’s when I remember…  Continue reading “Is ENniebody listening?”