Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Surprise! A Guest Post

I'm honored and excited to have a guest post for you guys today! My buddy Tom (long time friend and sometimes commenter on my blog) has written up something that I hope you'll all enjoy. I love Tom's style, and I'm glad to share his stuff with you. Here it is:

An Innocent Bystander (or How I Got Sucked into a World of Darkness Campaign)

A while back (two years ago?) a friend of mine (K, who is playing in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer game that I GM) started playing in a local WOD (World of Darkness) campaign at the FLGS (friendly local game store) that a friend of mine owns. It didn’t take K long to declare that the WOD game was her most favorite game of all time (which piqued my interest).

Anyway, life went on with me blissfully unaware of what was creeping up behind me…until a few months ago, when Loq asked me if I would be interested in watching a WOD session. After looking at her Blog to try and get a feel for the game I decided to take Loq up on her offer to check out the game in person. A couple of weeks later I walked in the front door of the store to watch my first WOD session.

Let me just say that, as I entered the store,  the only thing I knew about WOD was from watching a bunch of guys play Werewolf about 20 years ago, and also hearing stories about a Vampire group in a nearby town. Let’s just say that I was more than a little apprehensive when I walked into the place.

(Please Note: this is all from memory, so I may have some stuff wrong.)
Upon entering the store I noticed several “pods” of people in various locations, some talking in hushed tones, some laughing and joking, and a couple scribbling in notebooks. A couple of tables were filled with food, as the group participates in a potluck on WOD nights.

Loq and a couple of other people were sitting at a nearby table. She was helping a new guy work on creating a Changeling character. Loq invited me to sit down and she started to tell me about the game.

The WOD game takes place in Austin, Texas. Most of the action takes place in a fictional area of the city depicted on a map I saw floating around. Some locations on the map are The Cemetery House (where the Mages hang out), The Hedgerow (a bar/meeting place) Jaks’ house (where the werewolves sleep) and a couple of others that I can’t remember.

I looked around the store, trying to figure out what was going on with the different groups of players. Loq told me that they were playing out various “scenes” (player characters interacting with each other). I noticed a small table in the back of the store where the Storyteller (ST, what I always called a GM) was talking to K.

After a few minutes the ST finished with K and left the table. Then he and took a couple of other players outside to talk to them. As it turns out, stuff that take place in indoor locations happens inside the store, and stuff that happens outside happens outside the store.

I wandered around the store, listening in on several different conversations, trying to understand what was going on. From what I could pick up it sounded like there were several different storylines going on at the same time. (This was later confirmed to me by the ST.)

Loq told me that the ST employed a couple of “deputies” to help run the game (one dealt mostly with the Vampires, one with the Lost/Changelings). The ST worked with the rest and was the guy who thinks up all of the storylines and is the final arbitrator of any major conflicts. (With a group numbering anywhere from 15 to 20 people, this was NO small task.)

A couple of players explained to me that this particular WOD game was a hybrid, partly live action, partly tabletop game adjudicated by die rolls when necessary.  Players were always “in character” unless they were holding a hand to their chest (which meant they were speaking out of character) or when they were watching the goings on of another group.

As I observed I found out that the game had a LOT of WOD character types. Loq and a couple of others were playing Changelings. Several guys at one table were talking about weird stuff I didn’t understand (turns out they were all Mages). Another very loud group of guys and one gal were involved in some sort of fight (Werewolves). One guy was sitting back and watching like I was (Hunter). Another guy was talking to himself…a lot (he was a Geist/sin eater, someone who can talk to and is haunted by Ghosts). Later on I would meet the lone Vampire of the group. Someone told me that the only character type not allowed in the game are the Promethean: the Created.

As the night went on I became more comfortable around the players. I talked to some of them about their characters and what storylines they were involved in. Some talked with me about other interests we shared. Some talked about what else was going on in the game. 

Then several of them, including Loq, K, and the ST, gathered around a large table in the back of the store. It seems that there was some stuff going down at the Hedgerow, a local meeting place for most of the characters (except the werewolves, whose territory didn’t cover that location anymore).

A couple of players were in an upstairs workroom. Another was trying to spy on them. As the characters interacted with each other something started to happen in the main room. Some sort of disturbance had developed into a tear in the middle of the air. Two sets of huge claws reached through and into the Hedgerow. They pulled at the tear, widening it until a large “snout” poked through and breathed fire! It was a dragon!

Things become hectic as vines shoot out of the opening and grab players. Some players run to their rescue and others start fighting the dragon, trying to force it back through the tear.  The ST describes how someone jumps out of the tear and into the room. Then he looks at the new guy and tells him he is IN the game and to go for it.

(All through this “scene” the ST and several players all tell me that this kind of major conflict rarely happens in the game. The ST later tells me that what happened was a consequence of certain things that had been building in the game for a long time.)

More craziness happened. The building catches fire. AND the cops show up. Then I find out this particular group of cops are all Werewolves. I think I hear someone call them “The Ghosts”. Who better to call when bad weirdness happens?  Then I find out that one of the Mages (who was also involved in the fight with the dragon) is also cop. He has several of the other players taken in for questioning.

As the final scene of the night ends the ST calls everyone together to discuss the evening’s events. Some players talk about their favorite things that happened. Others talk about who was fun to watch. The ST hands out experience points. Everyone gets two, a couple of players get an extra point for cool things they did in the game, and one player gets another for being the best or most entertaining player of the night.

As things wind down I talk about the game with the ST for a couple of minutes, say my goodbyes, and head out the door. I think it’s after 1am. I’m wasted physically but my mind is in overdrive, replaying everything that happened during the game. I had a great time. Everyone treated me just like one of the gang, and I got to know some of them a little bit better. I start to think about character ideas…

Friday, November 12, 2010

[WOD] The Hedge Tales, Week 3 - The Race

I look myself over one more time, checking to make sure I didn't miss anything or leave anything out. I pay special attention to my tail. It took me over a year to get used to- I kept tripping on it, or stepping on it, or finding it in my food. Over time, I was less and less surprised by my tail, with its shock of white at the end; and I began to accept it as part of myself.

I finally got accustomed to the thing when I started learning more about my adaptability and talent for fitting into new environments. The first few times I invoked the contract, I forgot my tail. Clarice tipped me off the first time. (Why I think of lambs when I see her, I don't know. She's a fiery efreet, with nothing gentle about her.) I wasn't so lucky after that. I spent a few nights in Ms. Wintour's cool embrace, learning to pay very careful attention to every detail around me. Even the slightest change might mean something important; or it might mean nothing and be her way of toying with me. Either way, I remember my tail now.

I wear my “suit” with pride. It's an important part of the race, and I play my part with purpose. The glittering diamond mantle, the white roses and the flowering dress give me a completely different look, much to the point.

I quietly trot over to the gathered throng. Some wear numbered placards and others hold old-fashioned racing forms. There's a starting line of sorts, and Mouse, the clockwork being, rustles around the group. Soon we divide into those racing and those observing. I slide into the group about to run at the line with a passive confidence. Mouse's metal gears squeak as he points us to our places. In a moment, we hear his precise little hammer bang, and we're off.

The point of the race is a nebulous thing at best. There is not always a specific end. There is not always a way to tell a winner from a loser. Sometimes, the idea is to lose rather than win. There are about five of us running and each of us is different. Often, the race is aimed to challenge one of our aspects in unexpected ways. Yet we run with purpose and sometimes pride, motivated by our own thoughts and concerns.

I keep pace with the group, running with a solid stride. My long legs are meant to run, and I work hard to rein them in. I am not intended to win this race, and I have to keep my personal tendencies firmly in check. I keep an eye on the others as I run, determined to give a good showing. If I'm going to throw the race I may as well look good doing it.

The finish line nears, and I shake my head to clear the visions from my eyes. I know what I see is not real (nothing in this place is real except denial and pain), but it's still hard to resist. I recognize the mirage for what it is; a test of my will and my submission to this world. It’s sitting on a small podium next to the finish line. I can’t take my eyes off it, but I know it is not for me. I grit my teeth and keep forging on to the line, careful to lag just a bit, but of course not in an obvious way.

We cross the line, with Terrance in the lead. The spectators mutter and tear apart their forms, while we patiently wait for the official announcements from Mouse. I chat with the others in the race, and Terrance is proclaimed as the winner. His puzzled look tells me everything I need to know as he is handed his prize. He holds a beautiful leather pump, with its red sole standing out against his obsidian facade. I drop the contract as I walk away, with a flash of white following behind me on my tail.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

[Mom Time] Teen Drama- Trying Again

Several months ago- conversation with TheGirl-
I referred to her as a "DramaMamma", which she did not like.
I told her no way can she be a Drama Queen, 'cause
--I-- am the queen in our house.
She pipes up: "Can I at least be a Drama PRINCESS?"

With teens in the house, drama is sure to follow. Most of the drama is pretty tame and easy for me to manage. I actually enjoy some of it, with some teasing and good natured humor thrown in as ammunition against the slings and arrows of angst in the hormone laden set.

The most recent drama in our home revolves around grades, with one child causing some consternation and eyebrow raising. I have given up any semblance of a social life in order to supervise the child in question, as well as administer chores to maximum effect against bad attitude.

The child has had a major schedule rework, with games totally removed until further notice. Games and music are pretty important in our household, and the revoking of such is done seriously and as a last resort.

I have little doubt the foundling will resume schoolwork in the expected fashion shortly, and all will be well soon. Until then, my house is getting very clean.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

[HS6E] Hawaii Action (Session 7)

It's only half past the point of no return
The tip of the iceberg, the sun before the burn
The thunder before lightning, the breath before the phrase
- Pink, Glitter In The Air -----------------------------------------------------------------

[I'm trying something a little different today. I'm not married to it- it's an experiment. Also, I think I have the order of some sequences mixed up; but have the general jist down.]

In the midst of a dark beach, a wide panning shot focuses on a long angular beachhouse. Formed of concrete and steel, at least two walls are cascading sheets of glass. The building is a fusion of stark modern design and sleek Japanese furnishings. Along a far wall, is a gleaming white surfboard, with the initials "LK" written in elaborate script across the surface. A smaller, deep red board, with ornate cherry blossoms stencilled onto it sits beside it. Sparsely appointed, with wide open spaces, very little of the living space is secluded.A simple folding screen guards the sleeping area, and a slight alcove seems to contain the facilities and utility room.

The sound of waves crashing and breaking lull in the background, drumming a dim pulse to the peaceful venue. Soft light, drifting ambiently from the moon filters in the space as the view moves into the area behind the screen. A traditional futon on a wooden frame, well stuffed and finely stitched is on the far left, nearest the wall. Nestled beside it, on the floor, is a simple futon mattress with Lisa, legs akimbo, sleeping soundly in her new getup.

The sun begins to rise, spreading amber into the room, and Lisa stirs with the beginning of the day. She retreats to the alcove for several moments, and emerges, a slightly befuddled look upon her face. She shakes it off, and moves into the main portion of the house.

Her tall form stretches as she dusts, washes the windows, sweeps and then cleans the open galley style kitchen. Lisa continues working around the house, doing chores and keeping busy. At some point during the day, she investigates the flashing light on an answering machine on a small table in a corner.

The heartbeat of water continues as the screen follows Lisa in her daily routine. We're immersed in her world, lulled by the deepening course of waves, beating like breaths.

As the day moves on, Lisa dresses in casual beach wear over her boots and other accouterments, and sits on the beach, watching the clear blue water and those that seek to tame or ride it. As evening turns, Lisa returns to the house, and investigates a well designed garage- empty. The inside of the house is bare as well. Lisa makes a brief telephone call, her voice muted by the waves drumming.

Lisa leaves the house, walking up the streets of Honolulu in the early evening. She travels to an office building and then to several malls. Lisa continues walking after each location, and heads towards the house on the beach.

Lisa's hand reaches into her pocket, and she seems to view a text message on a cell phone. A short exchange of messages occurs and Lisa changes direction. She heads towards a mountain in the distance. Lisa moves with more purpose, slightly picking up speed. Something bothers her, and she slows down. She stops at a park bench, and tentatively puts one of her boot clad feet against the seat. The bench supports her foot as she attempts to remove the boot, which won't unzip or come undone. Lisa sees another message on her phone, which causes her to continue towards the mountain.

The water driven pulse continues as Lisa jogs up the mountainside, headed into the darkening evening.

Lisa arrives, winded, upon a scene where several other "Ultras" and Agent Williams are standing, all admiring a grey & black 2010 Porsche 911 GT3. The driver's side door is open, but no one is in the car. A couple of the Ultras are gathered on the side of the road, looking at the gravel.

Lisa steps to the car, and her hand moves under the driver's seat to push it all the way back. Lisa gets in the car, closes the door, and turns on the radio. Devo's Mind Games blares, just slightly audible through the door and the water which continues drumming.

The shot opens up to see Freestyle looking under the car, and Jumpshot knocking on the window of the high-end sports car. Lisa gets out of the car, holding a small clutch. Her slightly anguished expression gives hint to heartbreak.

Lisa and Agent Williams appear to talk for a moment, with Agent Williams investigating something on his iPad. Lisa seems more perplexed and unsettled by whatever Agent Williams has said, as she pulls her blode hair away from her face in frustration.

Jumpshot and Freestyle approach Lisa to point to the roadside, and then up the mountain. Their conversation, aimed at Lisa, is drowned out by a crescendo of waves, the heartbeat deafening. Jumpshot wraps Lisa in his arm, and heads up the mountain, leaping to the beat of the water.

The group arrives to a culdera at the top of the now-dormant Diamondhead. Jerry and Steel Warrior are investigating a steam vent, and Syphon appears to be doing the same. Lisa stands to the side as the remainder of the group is seemingly grasping at straws in the steam vent flue. SteelWarrior backs up to take a running leap at the vent, and as he passes through, a piece of paper flitters out of the vent. Syphon hands the paper to Lisa, which she puts in the clutch.

In the long shot, Jumpshot, Steel Warrior, Jerry and Syphon all engage Lisa in a converstion after Freestyle heads down the mountain. After a while, Jumpshot takes Lisa back down the mountain, where she gets in the Porsche, and drives to the beach house, Jumpshot trailing behind. Once the car is inside the garage, Jumpshot leaves, headed another direction.

In the midst of a dark beach, a wide panning shot focuses on a long angular beachhouse. Formed of concrete and steel, at least two walls are cascading sheets of glass. The building is a fusion of stark modern design and sleek Japanese furnishings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

[40K] Update, Upsells, and Ugh- I don't get it

So it's time for a Mexi-Marines update! I've had them on the backburner- a lot of real life stuff got in the way, and the real truth: I got stuck.

TheDude had his brilliant color scheme in mind, I went at it like gangbusters. I did the jetpacks and they turned out absolutely brilliantly. Here's a good example of the final pack:

I painted happily along and got them all done. Things were pretty good until I got to the details. Things like: hoses, belts, weapons, helmets, etc. With the exception of eyes, TheDude is letting me do whatever I think works.

Finding a balance with this color scheme is pretty tricky- I don't want any one element to overwhelm the already schizophrenic look of these guys. I tried something subtle- grey hoses. They sucked. See?

TheBoy suggested a tan or leather look- something suggestive of having torn apart bandoliers to use as makeshift hoses until something else could be cobbled together.

Here's what I've got so far. I think it probably needs a light drybrush or highlight, but I like the look much better.

I have to figure the "hoods" and "housings" for the Termies- I've got them Astronomicon Grey right now to keep them neutral until I get a grip on what I want to do. My next problem is weapons, which look like crap.

I tried a light coat of Gunmetal with a Griffon Sepia Wash, and it looks terrible. I'm not sure where to go with it, but this isn't it.

You can see a bright spot on this guy- I didn't screw up the chest eagle!

I'm saving a lot of cleanup and finalization for after I get a better sense of how everything will "fit together" and have all the parts figured out if not painted. So, yes these guys are messy. I advertise myself that way!

So the update is over- now, for something completely different! A couple guys are trying to seel their armies and I figured I'd throw out a word to the masses and see what happens. 

There's an absolutely beautiful, wonderfully painted Eldar army up first (yes, it's the one I considered a while back). My buddy  is trying to find a home for the following force:

(All painted unless noted otherwise) $350.00, grav tanks, webspinner, and two Codexes (Eldar & Eye of Terror) for free, plus old rulebook

1 Avatar

4 Farseers with various weapons

8 Warlocks with various weapons

4 Dark Reapers

1 Dark Reaper Exarch

10 Rangers

5 Warp Spiders

7 Howling Banshees

Jain Zar, Howling Banshee Exarch

20 Guardians w Shuriken catapults

1 Lascannon & crew

1 Starcannon & crew

1 D-Cannon & crew

1 Webspinner (unassembled/unpainted)

10 Dire Avengers

2 Old school War walkers

2 Vyper jet bikes

6 Jet bikes

2 Falcon grav tanks (partially assembled/unpainted)

1 Fire prism (partially assembled/unpainted)

1 Resin Wave Serpent kit (turns a Falcon into a Wave Serpent)

His army is lovely! And a deal. Email with questions or interest.

This same buddy has a WHFB collection of goodies. They include:

Warhammer Fantasy Battles

Cult of Slaneesh Dark Elves (140 figures) $300.00

(All unpainted)

1 Dark Elf Champion

3 Dark Elf Sorceresses

24 Witch Elves

22 Dark Elves with repeater crossbows

40 Dark Elf Spearmen (2 regiments of 20, includes standard bearer, musician, and leader)

7 Dark Riders

2 Reaper Bolt Throwers & crews

7 Cold One Knights (unassembled)

6 Daeomanettes on Steeds of Slaneesh (unassembled)

Morathi on Dark Pegasus (unassembled)

10 Daemonettes of Slaneesh (unassembled)

Chaos Warriors Regiment (12 figures, unassembled)

All old Warhammer books (thrown in for free)

Again- let me know and I'll help you get in touch with him. 

Next up, a different  friend has a Tau "Cheese" Army to get rid of ASAP. No price listed- but if you're interested, let me know and I'll get you in touch with him. Most items are unpainted but are in various stages of completion.

List is as follows:

10 Crisis battlesuits

3 Broadsides

4 Skimmer bodies (enough to make 2 hammerheads and 2 devilfish)

9 Stealth suits

30+ firewarriors

24 Kroot

May also part with several Forgeworld Battlesuits as well:

2 XV-9 Battle suits

4 magnetized XV-84 Battlesuits

3 Forgeworld Broadsides

That's done, too. Next- 

I am trying to understand CSM. I don't like them. I think they are UGLY, UGLY, UGLY, and some more, UGLY. However, they get all the good bitz and the best conversions I've seen are CSM. I'm finding myself perhaps straying into just the slightest, oh so slightest, interest in those crazyed dudes of all directions.

Is there any cure? I don't want to like them- and honestly, I don't. But I love their TOYS!!!! What's a girl to do? I mean, really- they have the best accessories this side of the Warp. How can I resist? Help. Please; please, please help.

Maybe drooling over my Holy Exarchs will help. hm....Emperor's Chosen, I'm over here. Love that visor... Ok, that worked, for now.

Tell me all the bad stuff about CSM so I can make a file to reference while I wait for my dudes to arrive. I'll need it!

Be Well!

Monday, November 8, 2010

[Blogging] Comments Cause Content

I just have to give a big heartfelt thank you to you guys. You're great as readers and I've seen some fantastic comments in the past couple of weeks.

My Weekly Whimsy posts have truly been getting some great discussions going on, and I love it. I truly enjoy sharing ideas and thoughts, as well as listening to other people's viewpoints. At least one or two of you have brought up some things I just never considered, and that's been pretty darn cool.

Some of your comments have directly influenced me and my musings- and some of them have inspired others. I've done some impromptu schedule changes due to an inspiration hitting me out of the comments section in my blog (and now and then at other people's blogs as well). I really find you challenging and exciting to interact with.I have a couple of responses to comments up my sleeve pretty soon. (Harald and grumhelden- you've both given me something pretty cool to work on, thank you.)

While I have a list of topics and a fairly regular schedule I intend to stick to, I like hearing what you have to say. I'd love your opinions on future topics, questions, or suggestions on things I need to ditch.
You read that right- I said schedule. I finally have a good handle on what I'm doing when. It's generally going to be pretty close to this:

Monday- Blogging
Tuesday: 40K
Wed: RPG session write-ups
Thursday: Mom-related
Friday: Eile stories (for at least a couple more weeks; then I don't know)
Sat-? (maybe a day off?...)
Sunday- Weekly Whimsy

Let me know what you think of this- Does it suck?

In the spirit of this feedback oriented post; I'd like to ask Harald over at Book of Worlds to share more (if he can without spoiling for his players) about his GM style, his process and what he does when those 'guys with stones' push him against a wall.

Also, Nikephoros- MORE PICTURES! I loved your bike posts and would love to see more of that.

See? I know how to dish it out, and I can take it. I'm a work in progress, but I love improving.

Be Well.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

[Weekly Whimsy] The Girlfriend

Welcome to Weekly Whimsy! Meandering into more mature material, mumblings and missives maintenant. Guys, I'm gabbing on the glamorous, gorgeous, garrulous, gamine, gracious, and gratifying gender; germane to gaming and giving guys a gamble.

[One of these days I'll find a tougher letter. On to the subject at hand! As hinted to above, this is a little more serious. I still plan to be lighthearted and fun, but this is a slightly more adult topic today.]

Hey little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend

Ramones, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

over heard at the game store:

Gamer 1- “So, after 9 months of dating, I finally told my girlfriend I played [insert game title here]”

Gamer 2- “What was her response?”

Gamer 1- “ I still have a girlfriend.”

[remainder of conversation irrelevant]

Seen at the game store:

Gamer C brought his girlfriend to a MtG event. By all accounts, she wanted to play and was hanging out with C's friends A & K. C generously and willingly paid for her entry. A & K teased C mercilessly for paying and being a gentleman, but in a gentle, chiding sort of way.

Girlfriends. While as a rule, gamers seem to want them (a few notable exceptions come to mind); they seem to be a strange and compelling quandary for the men I know.