Carnival of Mystery

Our friend Bryanna ran a game of Monster of the Week last night for two other friends, Edmund, and me. It’s a custom mystery but she used some of the tools we (Evil Hat Productions) included in the recently released Monster of the Week collection modules on Roll20. It was gratifying that she found a lot of use from the material even running a brand new mystery.

Our hunters were members of a travelling carnival that tries to bring wonder wherever they go and help the towns we visit. We played Chief, a Spooktacular carnival master (Edmund); Lydia,, a Constructed tattooed woman (me); Valentine, a Hex stage magician (Steve); and Violet, a Pararomantic fortune-teller (Dani). All of these are from the newer playbooks released by Generic Games.

A couple of screenshots from last night’s game:

The relationship map between our hunters using the template in Evil Hat’s Roll20 modules.
The playmat, as customized by Bryanna with images she chose but using the Evil Hat format and tools – right when I rolled that big juicy failure that advanced the countdown clock!

What I’ve been working on

Since mid-April, Evil Hat has been working hard on creating a lot of high-quality modules for the virtual tabletop Roll20 for gamers besieged by the pandemic and social distancing. I have put a ton of time and effort into these. A few more were published today so I wanted to give a view of the Wall of Awesome:

Hands-off game-mastering: Yes, this means you

The Big Adventure, by zazBI wrote a post recently about the single best way for game-masters to improve their role-playing games: Let go of the story in your head, shut your mouth, and listen to what the players are saying. I received a number of comments on this blog and in social media, essentially: “Yes, it’s true, except in this specific case when I do have to drive my players along the plot because X.” I wrote a second post about one of the values of X: “I’m using a module, how can I let go of the plot?

Today I would like to answer  a few more X objections. In all of these, I’m going to assume we are talking strictly about whether or not to give priority to the pre-determined plot over player ideas. I’m also going to point to my husband’s companion post, which addresses why GMs should rarely say “No” to player ideas. Continue reading “Hands-off game-mastering: Yes, this means you”

From Wild Hare to Epic

Fate Accelerated banner

Turning an Idea into a Game

I wrote about the Fate Accelerated system this week and how I think it’s a perfect tool to grab a crazy idea and turn it into a fully fleshed role-playing campaign.  I thought it might be fun to work through an example step-by-step, taking comments and questions, and showing how easy it can be.

So here is my plan: I’ll list a few ideas of setting pitches based on books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen and games I’ve played recently, and ask you to vote.  If you have a better idea, please add it; if we need to we can always have a run-off poll to settle ties.  I’ll start by giving the pitches, then you can vote below.

  1. Pacific Rim — Giant kaiju versus mech armour action.  Join the Pan-Pacific Defence Corps!  Based on Guillermo del Toro’s movie, of course.
  2. Breakfast of the Gods — A hard-boiled tale of sugary betrayal, featuring cereal cartoon mascots.  Dark humour and bitter-sweet drama.  Based on the free Webcomic by Brendan Douglas Jones, which is also available as a very nice print book.
  3. The Budayeen — Hard-boiled stories again, this time in an enclave of sin and vice in the Middle Eastern cyberpunk setting of George Alec Effinger’s “Marîd Audran” series.  Think Sin City + Casablanca + Neuromancer.
  4. Exodus II —   A hard scifi tale of Humanity’s first interstellar colonization effort against a backdrop of mass destruction.   Will it be our last gasp before final extinction, or the salvation of our home planet?  Based on the concept from a freeform game I played in several years ago, but easily reusable.

Vote here:

These are just ideas, feel free to comment.

Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die

The Big Adventure, by zazBWhen I was an engineering undergrad at École Polytechnique de Montréal back in the early to mid-1980s, I finally got to try role-playing games; I’d been reading about them but could not manage to get a game going in my quiet home town.  But Poly (as we call it) had a gaming club, cleverly called Polyhèdre (Polyhedron), which met every Thursday night.  With a school of 1600 engineering students at the time, it was super-busy — it was like a short convention every week.

Everyone once in a while we got students from outside the school; if they attended Université de Montréal, with which we were affiliated, it was sort-of OK, but if they were from outside the pale, it was against school rules for student clubs.  However, we generally pretended not to notice unless they behaved poorly.

At one point, we had some attendees that were clearly high-schoolers; there was this 14-year-old kid who was desperate to run Ravenloft so a couple of friends and I humoured him.  He was a terrible DM, but most of the club members were 18 to 25, so we could remember quite well what is was to be 14 and we put up with his learning curve.  (I still get a warm feeling nowadays, thinking about we could have been dicks but weren’t.)

However, last night it hit me like a ton of bricks that today, he would be about 44 and might have kids older than I was back when I felt so patient and mature for putting up with him.    FFFUUUUCCCK!  I’m OLD!

FAE: at the game table

Credits: The top picture is “The Big Adventure” by zazB, and the bottom one is an illustration by Claudia Cangini for Evil Hat Productions’ FATE Accelerated.