RPG a Day: Can’t touch this

16. What is an awesome RPG you enjoy using as-is?

That’s a tricky question, since some games are meant to be tinkered with—all those “universal” systems from Hero to Fate Core, from GURPS to Savage Worlds, etc.. So if I say West End Games’ Masterbook, am I cheating? Although it’s a complex system, evolved from the original TORG and its follow-up Shatterzone, I really like the way it works. In all three games, I’m a big fan of the Master Deck/Drama Deck.


The Case of the Dead Client: A Damon Sainte, P.I. Adventure

Cityscape Snapshot by Atomhawk

From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class.  From 10 feet away she smelled like someone made up to be seen from 30 feet away.

— With apologies to Raymond Chandler

It was a very bad morning for Damon.  Sleeping on a half-broken couch in his office was old hat by now, as was the morning sound of a stone gargoyle landing outside the window at dawn, or a feline deity demanding breakfast.  Nothing that a bad cup of coffee or three wouldn’t fix, especially with some bourbon thrown in.  Memories of the previous night were fuzzy — something involving a beautiful woman, a fist fight, and alcohol.  Just like every night.  Through sheer force of will, the detective managed to keep one eyelid propped open as he rolled out of bed and onto his feet, fumbling for his coffee cup.

There was an angel sitting behind his battered desk.

She looked like a goddess, radiant and attractive beyond the understanding of mortal men – brunette hair worn off the shoulder, alabaster skin without a trace of imperfection, and blue eyes as wide and alluring as the sky on a summer day.  Full, red lips that were made by some deity for the very purpose of being kissed.  Looking up from the newspaper she was reading, she cocked her head to one side and gave Damon a smile full of hope and trust.  “Like a puppy hoping for a home,” he thought sourly.  His heart still skipped once.

Then he caught a whiff of the smell.  A smell he normally associated with back alleys, strays hit by a railrunner, and the city morgue on a warm day.

“Awake?” said the angel with a voice like honey and milk.  She tapped the newspaper.  “I was just reading the obituaries.  So strange to see my name there.”  She smiled again, all innocence and trust.  “Thank you for agreeing to find out who killed me.  It really means a lot.”

From the corner near the food bowl Ubaid piped up “And you complain about the things I drag home!”

Thus read the introduction we had received via a email: on Sunday we played a new episode of the adventures of Damon Sainte, P.I., an ensemble cast setting my husband wrote for the game Bloodshadows from West End Games.  The most recent episodes were posted here and here.  Our player characters this time were Damon Sainte himself (Steve P.), Cat the former pit fighter and current casino owner (Maureen), Chummie the newspaper boy with a not-so-imaginary friend (Adi), and Marycete the nurse, a worm collective animating a dead body (me).  Short descriptions of all character backgrounds are found here.

Damon Sainte

Damon questioned the dead dame, Dottie. She was sure she could not have died in her sleep has the obituary claimed. And she wanted Damon to investigate.

Her last memory was of having gone to sleep in her home in the wealthiest part of town, the Diamond Districts. She lived with her parents — and their twenty-five or thirty servants and employees of the art gallery. Dottie did not work or study but she painted and entertained many suitors. No pets, no enemies. But Alfram Gallery was known as the most prestigious in Galitia. Continue reading “The Case of the Dead Client: A Damon Sainte, P.I. Adventure”

Pyromaniacs and Paladins: A Damon Sainte, P.I. Adventure

A little over a week ago, we had friends over and played another episode of the adventures of Damon Sainte, P.I., an ensemble cast setting my husband wrote for the game Bloodshadows from West End Games.  I’m a bit late with this recap but I finally found my misplaced notebook.  The previous episode was posted here.  Our player characters this time were Damon Sainte himself (Paul), Cat the former pit fighter and current casino owner (Maureen again, like in last episode), Granite the gargoyle (Steve P.), and Ubaid the talking cat (me).  Character backgrounds are found here.


An hour or so after sundown in Galitia, three thugs with glowing, clearly magical submachine guns burst into the front door of the Cat’s Claw Casino.  Granite, on the lookout as usual, barely had time to yell a warning.  Cat rushed in from her office to intervene, and Granite flew down to help her.  The patrons ran in terror, the thugs peppered the casino with bullets, it was pandemonium.

Upstairs in Damon’s office, Ubaid dove under Damon’s couch then used his magic to reappear in the back alley behind the Cat’s Claw.  A fourth thug was there, lobbing an incendiary bomb towards the open back door, but Ubaid managed to confuse the thug and spoil his aim so the fire bomb splashed harmlessly onto a brick wall in the alley.

Damon, rushing out of his office, discovered that a first bomb had already set the upper floor on fire.  Continue reading “Pyromaniacs and Paladins: A Damon Sainte, P.I. Adventure”

The Case of the Cultist Cop

BloodshadowsSome years ago, my husband Edmund created an ensemble cast for the role-playing game Bloodshadows.  The premise of the game. which runs on West End Games’ Masterbook system (almost identical to their TORG and Shatterzone games) is a world that combines hard-boiled detective stories, pulp adventure and dark fantasy.

Tough detectives in weathered trenchcoats swap biting comments with vampires in evening gowns.  Humans walk down dark streets side by side with demonic breeds and long-dead ghouls. And death — or Undeath — waits around every corner.

The cast which Edmund created revolves around Damon Sainte, P.I. down on his luck, and ten of his friends and allies.  The goal was to have the regular cast of a book or television series and be able to run pick-up games with whatever players available, providing each player with ample choice of characters every episode.  In the past I have played Big Dan the burnt-out gun mage, Ubaid the talking cat ex-familiar (and possibly ex-god), etc.

Yesterday, Edmund ran a game for our friend Maureen and I; Maureen played Cat the former pit fighter who now owns the casino above which Damon has his office and sleeping quarters, and for the first time I played Damon Sainte himself.  We had a fun time; here is a summary of the episode.  Continue reading “The Case of the Cultist Cop”

Full Steam Ahead for 2008…

We had a pleasant holiday season. Technically, it’s not over until Sunday if you celebrate Twelfth Night / Epiphany. We used to in my family, but with just the two of us here, I think and I will pass on finding out who gets to be king. 🙂

On Monday, we got together with seven of our friends and played games. In the afternoon, Edmund ran a nifty game of Bloodshadows, a role-playing game that uses the Masterbook system. I played a cat… I’ve never been very fond of that particular setting, but Edmund had done a great job creating characters, and the game was a lot of fun. And I really, really love the Torg/Masterbook/Shatterzone system; yes, it has a bunch of little crunchy bits, but unlike most crunchy games, they feel like they are there to accomplish a purpose, not just because someone else had a similar bit in his game 30 years ago. They work, they provide value. Also, my cat character stood up to a God. ^_^

We had a gamer potluck dinner: Peter and Cindy brought a couple of large (and tasty!) Hogswatch pies they had made, and a bunch of vegetables, satsuma mandarins, cookies, crackers, and drinks the rest of us had brought. Then I ran Spirit of the Season in the Truth & Justice system. It was not as good as Edmund’s game because I was very tired by the time it ended at 11pm. Then most of us stayed on to play board games and toast the New Year in with bubbles (cider!)

Yesterday, we kind of vegetated: did a couple of loads of laundry, ordered Chinese food for dinner(!), and I finished a couple of things I’d let go for the last few weeks: the proposed front and back layouts for the Indie Tour 2008 t-shirt; and a draft poster for ConQuest NW’s role-playing section. I confess, after having had a very pleasant few days, I was feeling a lot more moody yesterday when thinking about a new year. Starting it with the blood bath in Kenya, and bad or lukewarm health news from several people I love, left me feeling sober.