robotnik2004: (Robot 3)
Synopsis of our classic rock DramaSystem game, Part 3 of 3. (Here's Part 1, Part 2, and the podcast where we talked about it.)

Southern Rock Opera : Act Three

And I’m scared shitless / of what’s coming next / these angels I see in the trees


Episode 7: Back to Memphis )

Episode 8: Rock and Roll Suicide )

Episode 9: War )

Episode 10: Sympathy for the Devil )

"I ain’t saying I beat the Devil, but I drank his beer for nothing. And then I stole his song."

robotnik2004: (Robot 3)
Synopsis of our DramaSystem game about a hellbound 70s rock band, Part 2 of 3. (Here's Part 1, here's Part 3, and here's the podcast where we jawed about it.)

Southern Rock Opera : Act Two

Don’t sing with a fake British accent / don’t act like your family’s a joke

Episode 4: Hotel California )

Episode 5: I Wanna Be Sedated )

Episode 6: To Beat the Devil / Angels and Fuselage )

Interlude: Gimme Shelter )
robotnik2004: (Robot 3)
My gaming buddies have just posted an episode of their swell podcast, Shake Rattle and Roleplay, where I come on to talk about Southern Rock Opera, the DramaSystem game we recently played about a 70s rock band that sells its soul(s) to the Devil. A couple of people have asked, so I thought I'd post a synopsis of the game. It was pretty boss: maybe the best dramatic, character-driven gaming I've ever been part of.

(NB: [livejournal.com profile] athenalindia also posted full length summaries of each episode, which were invaluable to me in running the game and in writing up this shorter version. Her LJ is friends-only, but I'll bet she would answer a friend-request if you're really curious. Here I was trying to hit a sweet spot in length between "Facebook status update" and "comprehensive TWOP recap" that might be more accessible for people who didn't play in the game.)

This is part one of three. (Here's Part Two and Three.) (And here's the podcast where we talk about the game, the DramaSystem system, and Huey Lewis and the News.)

Southern Rock Opera : Act One

Rock and roll means well / but it can’t help telling young boys lies

Episode 1: Memphis Blues / Elvis Has Left The Building )

Episode 2: Born To Run )

Episode 3: You Can't Always Get What You Want )

robotnik2004: (Default)
(This is the Producer's Commentary for this, my most recent game session recap.)

So the thing about using Primetime Adventures for a supers game is Read more... )
robotnik2004: (Default)
Who's the mind controlling roach that don't fly coach?

T.H.E.M. Episode 3, "Take Us To Your Leader"

I've been away from these for a long time, but with the two-year cliffhanger from our post-apocalyptic Deadwoodlands game finally resolved, we're hoping to play the next couple of T.H.E.M. episodes in the coming weeks. Maybe we'll even finish the season!

This one's gonna be a bit sketchy, because it was some time ago and I did not take good notes. I'll highlight the "I wonder if this enigmatic conversation will prove to be relevant in the near future?" exposition and be more hand-wavey about the cool things the players actually did. I've split my "Producer's Commentary" on game procedure-y stuff to another post.

Previously: 
"Klaatu, as in, 'I come in peace'; Dalek, as in, 'exterminate!'"
"I'm sorry, what were you saying about the 25th dimension?"
You told me Oroboros was dead.

We start with a glimpse of Dimension Y, home to the parachronic mind-controlling insectile intelligences known variously in our dimension as the Qlippoth, the Time Eaters, and the Hive. (They just call themselves "us.") It looks like a photo-negative of outer space: white sky, black stars, and a huge hive of hexagonal cells, buzzing like the Hypnotoad.

Read more... )
robotnik2004: (Default)

Sheesh, this one is looooong. That's a great thing about PTA--a lot can happen in one session. But I need to be less prolix. And to stop using words like "prolix." As we say in academia, "I would have written something shorter, but I didn't have time."

(The Pitch) (Episode 1)

T.H.E.M.? More like T.L.; D.R., am I right? )

You can skip to the Producer's Commentary if you like. )

Next Time: Who's the fly guy from Dimension Y, the mind-controlling roach that don't fly coach? Klaatu Dalek is in the spotlight in episode 3, "Take Us To Your Leader." Will it be "klaatu barada nikto" or "exterminate"? Tune in and see, 3-dimensional meat puppets!
robotnik2004: (Default)

T.H.E.M. Episode 1.1, "Won't Get Foiled Again"

(For the perplexed.)

“Free will is a joke!”

Comic book caption box: “MIRACLE CITY, 2012 A.D.”

Miracle City at sunset, silhouetted against the Pacific Ocean and a flame-orange sky. Flying cars, and the occasional flying superhero, flit between the mile-high office-spires of the Overcity. Our show is sort of animated, sort of not, which is the only reason the FX budget doesn’t rival the national debt. I picture it looking like a cross between the Bruce Timm / DC Comics cartoons and the rotoscoping in A Scanner Darkly. Everything is drenched in lurid colors, like CGI Skittles.

Read more... )

Next: Sidney gets his shot at the big leagues, egregious Speedos of the Silver Age, and the unbearable sadness of the water-themed supervillain, in "Help Me, My Aquatic Friends!"

T.H.E.M.

Jul. 26th, 2010 08:46 pm
robotnik2004: (Default)

This is the Primetime Adventures game I’m running. It's called T.H.E.M. We’re coming back Friday night after a long hiatus (assuming I get my shit together), so I promised the players some detailed session recaps. This first post provides context for those of you watching at home.

The Pitch )

The Cast )

Producer's Commentary )

Next: Episode 1.1, "Won't Get Foiled Again!"
robotnik2004: (Default)
So I'm running a PTA game! My first game mastering, not counting one InSpectres 1889 romp, since Battle Without Honor or Game Balance five years ago. It's going well; we played the pilot in February and the second episode ("Help Me, My Aquatic Friends!") last night.

The show is called T.H.E.M. (it doesn't stand for anything), and it's about a team of kinda-sorta supervillains in a city controlled by shiny corporate superheroes. Which means I'm finally in compliance with the ten mention rule I broke in 2002 or something, plus I can steal liberally from myself, the Tatro-verse, even my notes for [livejournal.com profile] weirdotron (possibly my favorite never played game, although there's a lot of competition in that field). Not to mention a zillion comic books. 

The players ([livejournal.com profile] athenalindia[livejournal.com profile] theclevermonkey, and two guys who inexplicably don't have LJs) are great. I originally pitched the game as "Grant Morrison's Dr. Horrible" but it's turning out to be a bit more of a soapy superhero noir with X-Files-y elements. I may get an episode recap up, depending how long Eli naps for.
robotnik2004: (Default)
First, I need to apologize to those of you reading this LiveJournal for my wordy and shall we say remedial series of blog posts this week on Playful Historical Thinking. I'm writing those a) to figure out for myself what is worth saying about the topic and b) to find the language to talk about play with an audience whose playing muscles are a little more atrophied. But the people reading this LiveJournal, I'm pretty sure, already get the idea of playing with history without a whole lot of wordy hand holding. Several of you are black belt playful historical thinkers if not world masters.

Which is why I could use your input.

So I know that many of you are familiar with that thing that happens, that pattern recognition / apophenia / confirmation bias thing, when you're doing playful historical research, especially for an RPG you're playing or running or planning to run. You start flipping through books, and Google and Wikipedia, concocting some deranged historical theory, and then suddenly you start finding facts and evidence that are too perfect, that seem to confirm the very goofball theory you just yourself made up! [livejournal.com profile] princeofcairo  has written a bunch of "how to" columns on the subject, Umberto Eco built a whole novel around it, and [livejournal.com profile] mgrasso  seems to have it happen about once every three days.

What I'm trying to do is to concoct some kind of game, activity, or demonstration exercise for a group of, say, 6-12 academics that would in the space of 30 minutes or so let them have this experience themselves. Basically I want to turn sober professional historians into paranoid conspiracy theorists. Temporarily.

I thought about giving them a bunch of interesting and allusive historical sources and asking the group to come up with a theory connecting all of them, but I worry that if I choose the sources in advance it will seem like I'm stacking the deck, and they won't get that uncanny "nobody planned this and yet clearly somebody planned this" feeling. At the other extreme, I thought about hitting the Random Page link on Wikipedia a few times and asking them to connect all the things that come up--but the random pages on Wikipedia can be extremely random and farflung and it's quite possible they could not be connected. I also wonder if it would help to frame the exercise inside a mini-roleplaying game, but that's a level of artificiality that my audience just might not go for. Maybe I should just run a session of InSpectres?

Anyway, that's my current conundrum. And I know your playful historical kung fu is extremely advanced. Any ideas, suggestions, warnings, conjectures?
robotnik2004: (Default)

I don't think there will be many people reading this who are (a) gamers and (b) not already aware of Claw/Claw/Peck, [livejournal.com profile] head58's groovy new gaming blog, but it occurs to me there are a few.

(For instance: Ephemeral Circus, meet [livejournal.com profile] athenalindia and [livejournal.com profile] theclevermonkey--I've been gaming with them (among others) in London, at least until I had a baby and completely marooned our post-apocalypse Deadlands campaign at an excruciating cliffhanger; [livejournal.com profile] athenalindia  and [livejournal.com profile] theclevermonkey , meet the Boston circus (among others)--sorry for being AWOL so long.)

Claw/Claw is off to a nice start, with an admirable focus on praxis, both in the sense of "actual practical application" and also in the sense that that's the name of  one of [livejournal.com profile] editswlonghair's Agon hacks. So far I have contributed three Alternate Alpha Complexes, which isn't especially praxis-y, but hey, that's how we do.

(I think at one point the excellent Allen Varney and his merry band of traitors were working on a book of alternate worlds for PARANOIA, which is the sort of thing that could bring even me out of lurktirement. But I don't know what ever came of it. My understanding is that PARANOIA is now the work of one in-house writer, so Allen and the traitors' more glorious schemes have probably been shelved.)

Does the world need a new gaming blog? Perhaps not, but I'm more interested in what these particular guys have to say about gaming than I am in 90% of the gaming pundits out there. Plus the most recent post gives me credit for inventing the flashback, so I'm digging it.
robotnik2004: (Default)
Can't you hear that singing, sounds like gold
Maybe I can only hear it in my head
Five years ago, we owned that road
Now it's rolling over us instead
Waylon Beulay is dead


Five years ago tonight (same day of the week, too) was the final session of Unknown USA. I hope to post something longer to mark this little anniversary in the next few days, but I am packing the car just now for (appropriately enough) a long drive. Much love to my old and often missed road-tripping companions. Pancakes are on me.
robotnik2004: (Default)
Random idea I'm too busy/lazy to work up into a series of posts:

Anyone remember that "Just Imagine" series of comics where a wondering world "finally" got to see how Stan Lee would "re-imagine" the classic DC Heroes? So you had "Just Imagine... Stan Lee creating Superman," "Just Imagine... Stan Lee creates Batman," and so on. Insert Stan-bashing joke here, except it's just too easy, so instead I'll link to "Just Imagine... Stan Lee creating the Watchmen."

So I was thinking about how, in both good ways and bad, Gary Gygax was like the Stan Lee of gaming. And I started to amuse myself by "just imagining" Gary Gygax's Dogs in the Vineyard, or Gary Gygax's Unknown Armies, or any fairly non-Gygaxian game you have an affinity for, with all kinds of Gygaxian verbiage and random tables and anagrams of Gygax for all the place names.

And then [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik  and [livejournal.com profile] bryant  both posted postmortems on recent games they've run (and let me just say that you two may not be entirely happy with everything about them, but I'd have knifed a moderately-sized orangutan to play in either one) and that got me thinking about old games I've played in and old games I wish I'd played in, and that turned the Just Imagine idea into something where I'd mix and match the names of classic games from our circle onto the interests and obsessions of game masters from same.  In other words:
  • Just Imagine... [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik's Orlando Trash! (you know, because of Jeff's Disney thing)
  • Just Imagine... [livejournal.com profile] bryant's Airportation! (no idea what this would be - it's just a name with potential)
  • Just Imagine... [livejournal.com profile] robotnik's Uncanny Valley! (no idea what that would be about either - robots, presumably - I've just always been jealous of that as a name for a game)
  • Just Imagine... [livejournal.com profile] jeregenest's Through the Delbruek Gate! (dunno - the name just sounds like it could be Jeremiah's), that or else [livejournal.com profile] jeregenest's Unknown USA (that I'd dig).
  • Just Imagine... [livejournal.com profile] mgrasso 's Pantellos! (faeries, natch)
(I'm missing lots of key people, I know, but I'm coming up with these games off the top of my head. And the names of most of the cool [livejournal.com profile] head58 games I can remember reading about take the form "[adjective] Star Wars.")

So anyway: just imagine... I finished and fleshed out this post!
robotnik2004: (Default)
"Whoa, sounds like somebody's living in the past. Contemporize, man!"

P.S. I'm aware there's something sorta kinda sad about posting pages of text on a five year old roleplay campaign. Of course, I do live in the past, in more ways than one. But in the spirit of living in the now, I should note that I am still playing in that ridonkulous 30-year OD&D campaign I mentioned before and I've also hooked up with a promising bunch of local gamers whose style might be closer to what we had in Boston. I'm hoping to run a 4-5 session Cold City or PTA game with them. The beast, as always, is scheduling.
robotnik2004: (Default)
A few months ago I mentioned the film student who was interested in trying to turn Unknown USA into a screenplay. He and I have bounced a couple of emails back and forth since then with him asking for clarifications and elaborations of various things on the wiki. All y'all who have GM'ed before know how fun and rare and self-indulgent that is, somebody actually asking you to yammer on at length about some old game of yours. So that's fun.

The first question he hit me with was "what's the deal with Danny Greer?" and my answer turned into a frickin novel, which, among other things explains what the hell I thought was going on in that session with the Hollow Earth and the Silver Age Knights of the Road and the Oneiros. Which you sure didn't ask to read, but that's what LJ-cuts and the vertical scroll bar are for. )
robotnik2004: (Default)
I opened up my LiveJournal client to write about something else this afternoon and found this mostly finished post from a year ago, I think. I'm so out of practice on these Games I'd Like To-style posts anyway, rather than delete it or let it languish until such time as I get around to cleaning it up, I'mo just pull the trigger and post as is:

(Post title is, as is so often the case, an inside joke amusing only to me and maybe my older sister.)

Five half-baked settings for kooky indie games! Or vice versa... )

Adaptation

Apr. 28th, 2008 04:32 pm
robotnik2004: (Default)
So as the seven stalwart players (although not Chris F., with whom my only contact is occasional ghostly music on my car radio late at night) already heard, a film student emailed me the other day to ask if I was the person behind the game Unknown USA, and if so, if it would be OK for him to adapt it as a screenplay. I said it was up to the other players as well as me, but that if he wasn't doing anything commercial, I didn't have any problems with it, and indeed I'd love to see the finished project when it's done. (If any of you who played in the game do have reservations, let me know. It's your baby as well as mine.) It's just a student project, but it's flattering, and hey, who hasn't imagined a screenplay or a movie of one of their games?

But I'm already doubting if I have the equanimity for adaptation: I said in an email something about how big and sprawling the story was and that I wondered how it could be shaved down into a screenplay. The student said "oh, I know I'll have to cut things - for instance, I was thinking the Doc Lully subplot will have to go." And in my head I was instantly CUT DOC LULLY NO WAY HOW CAN YOU CUT DOC LULLY WITHOUT LULLY THERE'S NO IAM AND NO DERO AND NO WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN IV IN MEXICO AND DANNY'S STORY WON'T MAKE ANY SENSE AND DANNY'S LIKE DOROTHY, HE'S THE MORAL CENTER OF THE WHOLE THING!!! Even though intellectually I can see how one might cut the Lully-IAM-Monarch mind control/historical shift part of the story, the truth is my emotional response would be the same to any cut. The homicidal state trooper with the chimp? The Cuban cop with a walk-on part in the second session? The old couple selling frozen lima beans outside Ochopee Swamp? Deathless brilliance, I tell you! Remove the tiniest figment and the whole masterpiece collapses like a house of cards!

Would you be any different if it was your game?
robotnik2004: (Gilligan)
This is mostly directed to [livejournal.com profile] bryant, though maybe somebody else has answers also:

[livejournal.com profile] themoniker's post today, in which Umberto Eco weighs in on the great game between zeppelins and bicycles (!), inspires me to ask: are all the various wikis & lexicons lost when innocence.com exploded gone for good? Are recovery efforts truly "in progress"?

I know Unknown USA was retrieved and hermetically sealed and I'm grateful for that. But I don't have any other copy of my For Want Of A Nail contributions or any of the Dungeon Majesty wiki, and that makes me sad. Even if you don't want to repost/rehost all that stuff (and I can totally understand if you don't feel like weeding the spam off five-year-old wikis until the end of time) is it in any retrievable form that you could send to me? What I'd really like in the short term is "Gernsblack," but the other stuff would be nice to have too.

Will gladly repay with some kind of old-style nostalgic gaming post: an episode guide for the first season of that 1970s Warren Zevon inspired Buffy game you once proposed? five unknown deleted scenes from Unknown USA? my requisite Lost rip-off (nb: cannot guarantee it involves miniaturization)?
robotnik2004: (Skipper)
Many years ago, when [livejournal.com profile] jeffwik's AIRPORTATION was in flower, I had this idea that I would write up summaries of each session and then Photoshop them onto extremely boring postcards of airports with a dusty timeless-retro look. As if they were postcards by California from Hong Kong Airport, Stalingrad, Idlewild, and so on. I even found images of Soviet postmarks and Orson Welles stamps to doll them up with. ("Fun" fact: There are a LOT of extremely boring postcards on the internet.) But as you may have noticed, I never got around to it. Just as I never found her speaking voice, I couldn't figure out how to do California's handwriting.

Here instead, a mere two years after Goofy's betrayal and Jim(?)'s rocking demise, is a top secret apparently real life map from the Soviet archives (dated 1973 - détente? what détente?) depicting Yuri Andropov's top secret plan to wipe the continent of North America off the face of the earth. The world of AIRPORTATION, revealed:

And we gave Reagan shit about Star Wars?

“This is a scheme of assumed changes in geographical structure of Earth continents which may happen as a result of correction of gravity field of the Earth by the A-241/BIS device.” (Via Strange Maps.)

robotnik2004: (Default)
I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for Lions on the Precipice, [livejournal.com profile] foreign_devilry's notional Dogs in the Vineyard expansion. I'm still waiting, but in the meantime, this emo snippet of alterna-reverse Dogs occurred to me. I started out by thinking about that gloriously stupid bit of early D&D laser-sharking, the Anti-Paladin. Then I found myself actually sympathizing with these guys. (Oh, but if you've heard me mumbling about my "Dogs heartbreaker" lately, this isn't it.)

A Land of Thorns and Vice )

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