Masks: Play report and review

Masks

A few weeks ago, our friend AW ran a one-off episode of the role-playing game Masks for me, my husband Edmund, and two more friends, SP and MP. I thought this was a good time to talk about this game since the PDF version just became available on DriveThruRPG. First, I share a play report that goes a bit long, but talks about the mechanics as well as the fiction generated in play. I follow with a review of the game. Continue reading “Masks: Play report and review”

RPG a Day: Next game?

12. What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?

MasksAside from the continuing ones (Dungeon World, Night Witches, and a Savage Worlds game based on a setting mashup of The Sixth Gun and Through the Breach), the next game we play should be a one-off episode of Masks (Magpie Games). Powered by the Apocalypse, Masks is a game of young superheroes.

It’s the most likely because it’s scheduled for tonight!

#RPGaDay2016

 

 

Women as Action Heroes: Supply and Demand

ST1

We’ve heard about a number of prodigiously insulting marketing decisions at the intersection of merchandising, pop culture and genre fiction, such as the disappearance of Black Widow from lines of Avengers merchandise and Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise. It’s been made clear that boys are the target market for toys. But do you ever wonder if it’s not also a deliberate ploy to manipulate supply and demand for price gouging?

We just learned that to mark the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series, CBS has licensed toy company Mattel to produce a line of Barbie-style dolls based on Lieutenant Uhura, Captain Kirk, and Commander Spock. I immediately checked on Amazon, because I want Lt. Uhura on my desk! But I discovered that she’s unavailable, even though the other two can be purchased just fine for $34.99 each.

Uhura-doll

StarTrek50th-dollsWhat gives?

But Amazon went on to offer me other lopsided-deals on memorabilia Barbie-like dolls. How about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman figures based on the recent movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Hey, good news: all three are available. And priced at…

Wait, what? Continue reading “Women as Action Heroes: Supply and Demand”

Fiasco: Nextwave comes crashing down!

Nextwave_issue_11Tonight we played the second act of a Fiasco (Bully Pulpit Games) episode using the Heroes of Pinnacle City playset written by Ryan Consell, Josh Hoey, Anna Kreider, and Kit Kreider, to simulate Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

We had as much fun as we had in the first act; let’s just say that the portal which the Bloodstone family had been supposed to guard re-opened in Daeseong-dong, bringing hordes of doppelgangers of The Captain, and Pulgasari himself! Despite Nextwave nearly starting World War III, and Monica very publicly insulting the Avengers, Aaron Stacks managed to end up on top as the Avengers’ new leader…

pulgasari

Fiasco: Nextwave!

Tonight we played a Fiasco (Bully Pulpit Games) episode using the Heroes of Pinnacle City playset written by Ryan Consell, Josh Hoey, Anna Kreider, and Kit Kreider, to simulate Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

We had a blast. Several, actually. The characters were Aaron Stack, Elsa Bloodstone, The Captain, and Monica Rambeau. Here is a shot of the Roll20 board as we reached the tilt phase; we’ll have the second half of the game in a couple of weeks. Roll20 works really well, you can set the colour of your dice and then drag them on the board.

That was game no. 21 of #61in16 for me, and 22 players out of #36in16.

Fiasco: Nextwave!

ICONS: Monster Mash!

I ran ICONS (1st edition) for Edmund, Karen and Jesse and had a fun time. They decided to play Spectre, Risk and Cheshire Cat (nemesis: Turbo-Cat) — a corporate-sponsored black ops industrial (counter-)espionage team working for Standard Industries. They stayed unknown and unappreciated, unlike Standard Industries’ public super team, the Standard-Bearers.

Two of the best moments were when Cheshire Cat, in her secret identity as mild-mannered teacher Mr. Myerson, met with his student Angel on the train and had to both save the train from a super-villain and protect his cover; and when Risk intimidated The Troll by sheer force of gumption, even though she was outclassed in terms of power.

I enjoyed the game but next time I run ICONS, I will hit the Fate-like elements harder.

Playing ICONS

 

Fault Lines: A Venture City story, coming up at KublaCon

EDIT: Cancelled due to illness.

Venture-City-Page-Header

This past weekend was DunDraCon but I didn’t attend because I couldn’t afford a hotel room (it’s too far from home to drive safely and still have time to game.) However, KublaCon is the next big tabletop gaming convention in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’s held only minutes from where I live. It’s not nearly as strong in the role-playing department as I’d like, so of course the thing to do is add a couple of games to the schedule!

My first choice of game is an adventure for 2 to 5 players set in Venture City, a Fate World created by Brian Engard for Evil Hat Productions’ Fate Core system. Venture City is a Fate Core implementation for supers, but whether they’re heroes or not is up to them. Here is the blurb for my adventure (I’m limited to 400 characters for the printed program):

Fault Lines

When a series of small earthquakes rock the city, are they foreshadowing the Big One or the work of some new super being? Either way, your group of low-rent unsanctioned supers may be the only help for the citizens of the sprawl… unless you accept a more lucrative offer from alarmed one-percenters.

Of course, in my version Venture City is just another name for “here.”

If you are a role-player in the Bay Area and you’re in need of some gaming on Memorial Day weekend, check out one my games, and consider adding one of your own to the schedule so I can play in yours!

tazio-bettin-venture-city-stories-art-4-by-taziobettin-d7b3og5
Credits: Illustrations by Tazio Bettin.

Convention Report: Big Bad Con 2015

Big Bad Con 2015 badge
Badged and proud of it.

I recently attended — and helped with — my favourite game convention in the world, Big Bad Con.  I can’t believe it was the fifth edition already!  And Edmund and I have been to every instance — and have a ton of souvenir pins to prove it.  (You can read Edmund’s description of this year’s event starting here.)

Every year has been better than the previous, an amazing feat of continuous improvement of an already superb convention.  But this year was also organized differently.  Because of a SNAFU with the hotel, negotiations were difficult and a contract did not get signed until mid-May 2015, for a convention that takes place in October.  If you have ever tried to put on an event of this scope, you know that they take the better part of a year to organize, so this was a challenge.  Plus, organizer Sean Nittner had been putting on the convention with a handful of staff for the first four years through sheer personal energy, and I think exhaustion was setting in.

The Big Bad Wolf and the Wolf Pack

So this year Sean started with a call for volunteers which Edmund and I answered, followed by a Kickstarter campaign to make up for the hotel’s increased fees. The KS campaign was a runaway success, with 205 backers pledging $14,050 or seven times the sum of $2,000 Sean was asking for.  He used the extra money to bring in a bevy of guests selected among enthusiastic community builders and diversity champions in our hobby.  Continue reading “Convention Report: Big Bad Con 2015”

RPG a Day: For great justice!

Truth & Justice cover19. Favourite supers RPG

Easy: if I’m game-mastering, then it’s Chad Underkoffler’s Truth & Justice (Atomic Sock Monkey Press) with a side of Tim Gray’s Legends Walk! (Silver Branch Games).

When it’s time to play, I also greatly enjoy Mutants & Masterminds, any edition (Green Ronin), Silver Age Sentinels (Guardians of Order), and Marvel Superheroic Roleplay (Margaret Weis Productions).  I’ve been eager to try Steve Kenson’s ICONS as well (Ad Infinitum Adventures). Finally, I always have a great big soft spot for Underground (Mayfair Games).

Edit: Here are my reviews for Truth & Justice and Legends Walk! on RPG.net.

#RPGaDay2015

Ant-Man: Spoiler-Free Mini-Review

Ant-Man posterWe saw Ant-Man and really enjoyed it. I would never have expected I would like this movie so much, but I had a great time. Viewers are advised to stay until the very, very end for the last Easter egg.

  • Visuals and special effects: 5. It’s as slick as all the previous movies in the franchise, and shows creativity in the visual use of the hero’s powers interacting with the sets.
  • Soundtrack: 4. Largely what you’d hope for in terms of score, plus some really fun choices of pop tunes.
  • Writing: 4. It’s a simple storyline told cleanly, with a great comic-book feel. (If you don’t like comic books, I advise not seeing Marvel Studios movies, just sayin’.) Snappy dialogue, good short-cuts through background materials.
  • Casting: 4. Good, endearing choices. I could do with a more charismatic villain; he wasn’t bad, just not as good as some. Then again, it’s tough being compared to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki or even Lee Pace’s Ronan.
  • Direction: 4. Snappy, generally injecting the right mood into various scenes, keeping everyone focused.
  • Editing: 4.5. Tight, cuts through unnecessary material, trusts the viewer to follow interpolations.
  • Superheroics: 4. Completely in genre with the action, drama, humour and histrionics. Of course it also has comic-book physics.
  • Diversity: 3.5. It has some persons of colour as fun characters but in support roles. I was also initially concerned that they would be just comic relief but they get more depth. I really hope we see them again with more spotlight time.
  • Feminism: 2.5. It fails the Bechdel test, and underplays Evangeline Lilly as far as technically feasible. On the other hand, the two most visible female characters are endearing, resilient, smart, likeable.
  • Reese’s Pieces Award for product placement goes to Baskin-Robbins, with a special mention to Apple’s iPhone.
  • The movie also earns the Academy Awards for Best Use of Tilt-Shift Photography and Best Use of Dialogue Dubbing. You’ll know what I mean when you get to these scenes.
  • Also, the award for most ill-advised target for a bit of “science-y” exposition.