May 13, 2009: 9:16 pm: Miscellaneous

In case anyone still has Flaming Monkey on their RSS reader, or has followed a link and stopped by, I’ll make if official and say that this blog is effectively dead.

Right now I’m only occasionally reading gaming forums like Story Games and The Forge,  I haven’t bought a new game in more than a year, the RPG convention I helped run (TBR) has closed up shop, and I’m in one sporadic D&D3.5 game.  That doesn’t leave me with a lot to post about, which is probably why it’s been almost a year since my last entry.

While it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that I might start posting again in the future, for now I’m just leaving all of this up as an archive, with comments closed (or soon closing).  If you’d really like to offer a comment on something, just drop me an email.

Thanks for reading!

July 9, 2008: 8:42 pm: Cons, GMing, Playing

Last year I apparently never actually posted any sort of post-convention report for The Black Road, so this time around I’m going to do it before I forget.

Further details on the games I mention below can be found here.

Slot 1: Sons of Liberty
GM: Jack Gulick

Since this slot took place on the afternoon of the 4th of July, it was particularly appropriate that we were playing a session of Josh Roby’s Sons of Liberty. It’s a game which is described as “a roleplaying game where the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen play Dynasty Warriors during the American Revolution.”

None of us had played Sons of Liberty before (except perhaps the GM), and that may have effected some of the decisions we made while setting up our characters. I played Thomas Payne (who flies around on an ornithopter), and the other players chose Abigail Adams, Rachel and Grace Martin, The Marquis de Lafayette and John Stark. The actual adventure itself was created using a madlibs style form that resulted in some pretty odd objectives.

As for the system itself, I think the problem I (and some of the other players) had with it was that the card game aspect often got in the way of the storytelling. In order to play the most advantageous combinations of cards (something all of the Patriot players must strive to do in order to defeat the Tories) we had to come up with some rather contorted actions to match those cards, which led to ignoring the things that our characters might actually have done in a given situation.

Despite that, I think everyone had a good time, and the over-the-top Revolutionary War setting certainly was fun.

Slot 2: Nine Princes in Spaaace: Star Patrol vs. The Moon Baron
GM: Carolyn Lachance

This was the second installment of a game that takes the Amber archetypes, sets them in the world of serials (such as the original Flash Gordon films), and uses Spirit of the Century as the system.

I played Rick Random, the eternal sidekick, who was actually shockingly competent in a variety of useful skills. He also said, “Golly!” a lot.

More so than the last time we played, I think SotC got in the way, mainly because the GM was so disenchanted with the idea of actually playing through the combats that we mostly avoided them. This resulted in the game being rather short.

Slot 3: Fortune’s Fool: Jumping at Shadows
GM: me

This was the third installment of my pirate zeppelin game, which uses Spirit of the Century as a system. Or at least it did this year. If I run another round of this game next year, I’m probably going to switch to something else, as I’m apparently just not cut out to run SotC. I think the idea of Aspects is great, and I don’t have a problem with being a player in a SotC game, but there’s just too much crunch hidden under there for me to be able to run it effectively.

The session itself involved pirates, airships, ninjas, the Royal Air Navy, clockwork armor, and a giant steam-powered robot! It seemed like everyone had a good time, which is the point, really, though I wasn’t entirely happy with my efforts.

Slot 4: Roanoke: The Other Side of Fear is Freedom
GM: Jennifer Jackson

An interesting take on the fate of the Roanoke colony, using Clint Krause’s Wushu-inspired Roanoke system. The players go into things knowing that the colony is doomed, with the only question being the manner of its end.

In this game I played Cecily Barton, a 14-year old girl who was in an arranged marriage with a much older man, and was also pregnant by him. She wasn’t entirely happy about this. The other characters included the son of one of the colony’s leaders, a transported criminal, and two natives.

I enjoyed the fiction we created, but wasn’t entirely enamored of the Roanoke system, perhaps in part because sections of it seemed under-explained in the rulebook. Still, we managed to save the majority of the colonists, thanks to the brave sacrifice of Ezekiel Finch. Apparently even criminals can be redeemed in the end. My character didn’t even end up being burned for being a witch, which was good, since she in fact wasn’t one. She did, however, get to hit a demon with a stick.

Slot 5: Nine Princes in High School
GM: Jack Gulick

It was the third or fourth time I’d played in this game where Teenagers from Outer Space meets Amber, and it was as silly as ever, despite the amount of meetings and office supplies that ended up being involved in things. I once again played Caine, leader of the Pirate Club, who triumphed despite having his ship burned. By “triumphed” I mean that he got a new one, as he wasn’t really much help with the actual plot. Fortunately, there wasn’t very much plot anyway.

That was my con for this year. It was great seeing both those folks that I only see at TBR and those who I see more frequently, and I hope everyone will be back for TBR 2009. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of The Black Road, and likely my fourth year as con chair.

March 22, 2008: 7:50 pm: Cons, Game systems, GMing, Playing

No posts for almost two months? Argh!

Let’s see, right now I’m basically just playing in one monthly D&D 3.5 campaign (which has been going on for a few years now), with an occasional session of a D&D-like fantasy homebrew. To paraphrase someone else, you game with the gamers you have, not the gamers you wish you had.

Last weekend was Ambercon U.S., and it was the third year in a row of my not attending. Somehow it seems like longer. I think it’s probably unlikely that I’ll be going again, but it’s not impossible.

The Black Road 2007 is now about three-and-a-half months away (registration is still open), and so far it’s looking like this year we’ve got enough GMs that I’ll only need to run two games. Which is kind of a shame, since I’d like to run three! The ones I’m likely to actually run are another installment of Fortune’s Fool (my pirate zeppelin game using Spirit of the Century), and a game of Best Friends (the details/setting of which I still haven’t decided on). The one I’m unlikely to run, despite wanting to, is a session of In A Wicked Age.

That’s the status of my gaming at the moment.

January 27, 2008: 3:20 pm: Game theory (or close enough), GMing

Over on Knife Fight, Vincent “Lumpley” Baker offered some advice for how to change the way a group plays to a method that resembles the set-up that’s used for towns in Dogs in the Vineyard. It’s pretty cool stuff, and I’m going to reproduce it here so that you can see for yourself without having to join Knife Fight.


January 15, 2008: 10:06 pm: Game systems

This weekend, thanks to my preorder, I got a PDF copy of Vincent Baker’s newest game, In a Wicked Age.

In this wicked age…
…Gods, demons and mortals contend with one another for power…
…Law and civilization are new, and no one is their master…
…A simple midwife can set in motion the downfall of tyrants and great empires…
…Your birth is not yours to choose, but your fate is what you make it.

In a Wicked Age
sword & sorcery roleplaying

I’ve only had a chance to read through my copy once, and, as was the case with Dogs in the Vineyard, I’ll probably need to read the rules again, check some actual play threads, and then play some myself before I really get it. What I think I understand so far though, I really like.

For now, here’s Vincent’s Anyway post from 2006 that started the genesis of the game, and here is an AP thread. There’s also plenty of discussion going on about the game at the usual places, like Story Games and The Forge. Also impressive is the number of new Oracles that have been designed in the days since IaWA came out, moving it into realms other than the original swords and sorcery.

And yes, there’s every chance I’ll run a game of In a Wicked Age at TBR this year.

December 14, 2007: 9:58 pm: Game systems

Jonathan Walton has started putting together a list of Free Games That Deliver, which hopefully will keep growing over the next few days and weeks. You can read more about it in this thread on Story Games.

November 24, 2007: 11:36 am: GMing, Playing

There are a couple of fine blog posts here and here that were originally aimed at urban fantasy authors, and then expanded a bit to include authors in general. I’m posting them because they also look damned useful for designing both PCs and NPCs for RPGs.

September 10, 2007: 7:19 pm: Game systems

What’s that? A pirate game designed by Vincent Baker?!


The PDF is available now, and there’s supposed to be a print version in the not-too-distant future.

And, though Poison’d just came out at Gencon, there are already some actual play posts out there if you look for them, as well as discussion over at the lumpley games forum.

June 21, 2007: 8:32 pm: Cons, GMing

Self, if you decide to run two games at next year’s The Black Road, don’t pick two systems you’ve never run or even played before, and most definitely don’t have one of those systems still be in development. Coming up with good game ideas is hard enough without having to also learn two sets of rules and figure out how to teach them.

[For those who might be wondering, this year I’m running a pirate zeppelin game using Spirit of the Century rules and also running a game of Afraid.]

April 4, 2007: 7:36 pm: Cons

There’s a thread over on Story Games about The Black Road, which includes me commenting on possibly changing part of structure of the con for next year.

Right now we follow the standard Ambercon method of having people sign up for their games well in advance, but I’ve come to realize that this may discourage some new people from coming to the convention. With that in mind, I’m keeping a close eye on how a semi-scheduled thing works out for this year’s Camp Nerdly to see if it might be something that we could adopt for TBR 2008.

For this year’s con though, I’m considering having a Games On Demand type thing in each slot (in addition to the scheduled games), which would basically mean people showing up with shiny games and deciding what to play.

Any input on either idea is welcome.

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