Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Tuesday Trailer - Summer Wars

Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) returns to direct one of her own short stories in "Summer Wars".

The virtual reality world of OZ is a huge and highly embedded social network, it has millions of account holders who have given it control of many aspects of their modern lives. Unfortunately "Love Machine" an AI starts to take over OZ with catastrophic results. As the boundary between reality and OZ becomes blurred, the only person who can stop Love Machine is a high school teen mathematician, Kenji Koiso.



Possibly more relevant to today's Social Generation than the Tron franchise with it's melange of different artwork styles reflecting the diversity of user generated content which inhabits todays social networks like flickr or myspace.  Is this the future of facebook... only time will tell...

Monday, 24 January 2011

Monday Motivations #4

Article #4 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class.  I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.

What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché.

ASSASSIN

1. Revenge from Within - A loved one was murdered by an Assassin, the only way you can wreak your revenge is to become an Assassin yourself, gain access to the Guild's records and find out who hired the killer and why your loved one had to die...

2. Assassins Orphanage - When your parents died in a tragic accident the city's council made you a ward of the city, as is the law, and placed you in the care of the city orphanage whilst a search for your relatives was undertaken.  Only a select few are aware that the orphanage is a front for the Guild of Assassins.  They select the brightest orphans to undergo the complex and arduous training to become a silent killer like yourself...

WIZARD

1.  Royal Edict - some people say that the King is paranoid, but most keep their tongues in their heads lest the tyrant pluck them out.  Worst still are the many heinous persecutions he has exacted on those who possess magic.  From the mere hedge wizard to the master of guild of wizards he has imprisoned , tortured and executed all those who show even the slightest sign of thaumaturgical ability.  What drives him is a mystery but his edict banning the practicing of magic on pain of death resulted in you being spirited away from your mother and father, as a child, by your crazy old grandfather to his tumbledown tower just outside the king's reach on the other side of the border.  Your life has been one long lesson interspersed with drudgery, your reward being able to bend arcane forces to your will...

2.  Power Awakened.  Your idyllic childhood on a smallholding in a peaceful part of the kingdom was shattered when you almost killed your brother with a lightning bolt.  When your magical powers were awakened, your families' attitude to you changed, where once there was love now you found fear.  One day your father brought a strange old man to the house who poked and prodded and waved his hands around you.  After a short discussion with the man your father took you aside and with tears in his eyes handed you a backpack full of  your things and told you to be good and do everything that azusul tells you.  And as your home disappeared from sight among the trees you knew that you would not see your family again for a very long time, until your training as a wizard was complete...

THIEF

5. Kleptomaniac - Some people say that even as a child you couldn't keep your hands out of other peoples pockets, but they don't know what they're talking about.  It's like there's a part of your brain which is autonomous and just picks up other peoples things which they've left lying around.  With that kind of natural ability it was only a matter of time before you started to actively looking for opportunities for profit...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Lands of Dual - Session 1: Ayfal and The Challenge of Champions

My often touted new campaign has finally started, we had our first real session last week, and I'm pleasantly suprised with how my new group of players have accepted the switch to CnC.  As my free time is limited by family and work commitments I am trying to get back to the core concept of TLOD with this campaign (ie: to try to string together as many published scenarios as I can with only minor location tweaks) and evolve the story arc out of the player's backgrounds.

Dungeon #58 Mar-Apr 1996For the first scenario I've chosen "Challenge of Champions" by Jonathan Richards (Dungeon #58) which pits the PCs against a series of artificial "tests" created by the Adventurer's Guild as an annual competition as part of a membership drive.  This choice has set me a few DMing challenges right from the off, namely:
  • The Scenario is designed for a party of 4 Level 1 PCs (1 of each class; Fighter, Mage, Cleric and Thief) who have entered as a team.  My party is 6 strong and none of them know each other at all, one is a Lizardman Cleric and another is a 2nd level Ranger!  Solution: divide the group of players along class lines and run two teams of three with NPCs filling the missing class slots.

  • The PCs have to surrender their equipment and are only able to use items which are provided as part of each test.  As some of the "clues" to completing the test are contained within the items themselves, the question is how to visualise this?  Solution: create Item Cards for each piece of equipment provided.  As it is my intention to provide my players with item cards during this and future campaigns, this was a bit of a no-brainer and I've had some fun finding appropriate images from google images to depict the various items.  More on that in a later post.
Without giving too much away in case they read this.  I was pleasantly surprised with the different approaches my players used to tackle the first three challenges.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Angry Birds the RPG?

May will see the release of Mattel's Angry Bird's the Boardgame which I'm sure will be a huge hit and a guaranteed money spinner for the company.  This is the first translation of an iOS app to a Boardgame rather than the other way round.  I'm sure that the suits at Hasbro are watching this space closely and having all sorts of covert app to game discussions. 

Of course the knock on question for our little niche interest group is "When will we see an official D&D product on iOS (or android, i'm not platformist)?".

Apps are the hot ticket in gaming right now, heck even Nintendo are scared that their next gen DS will lose market share to the iPod / iPhone / iPad / Android devices before it hits the streets.  Surely WotC should be concentrating on how to make D&D products work on these new devices and more importantly make oodles of cash!!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Monday Motivations #3

Article #3 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class.  I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.

What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché.

ANY CLASS

5. The Seven Saviours
- Your village has fallen under the spell of an evil Sorceror, only you were immune to his charm.  You decide to leave the village on a quest to find some heroes who can help you storm his tower and release your friends...

THIEF

5. Kleptomania
- Some people say that even as a child you couldn't keep your hands out of other peoples pockets, but they don't know what they're talking about.  It's like there's a part of your brain which is autonomous and just picks up other peoples things which they've left lying around.  With that kind of natural ability it was only a matter of time before you started to actively looking for opportunities for profit.

CLERIC

1. Plague Sister - When your little sister was struck down with the plague you asked your God to heal her and in return you would serve him for the rest of your life.  Her fever broke that very night and you knew that your plea had been heard.  The following day as you knocked on the heavy oak doors to the monastery you knew your new life of clerical servitude was about to begin...

2. Passing Healer - As a small child you had few worries in your life other than where the best place was to dig up worms for fishing.  It was on one of these bait finding trips that you were bitten by a poisonous snake, putting you into a deep coma.  At that same moment a Cleric was passing near by, heard your scream, and rushed to your aid.  Days later you awoke to find that the Cleric had saved your life.  You owe the Cleric a life debt and as is customary must serve him until the debt is paid in full, in return the Cleric has agreed to feed, clothe and teach you everything he knows...

Monday, 10 January 2011

Monday Motivations #2

Article #2 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class.  I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.

What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché

ANY CLASS

3. Spurned Love - You thought you had a chance of happiness when you're eyes met across the harvest banquet table. But those hopes were soon dashed when her gaze landed on your older brother's.  The following Spring they were married and as is the custom she moved into her husband's house, your home.  After a week you realized you couldn't face another day in the same house as her so you left for pastures new and possibly adventure...

4. Accidental Death - Your oldest and best friend was your rival for the attentions of the miller's daughter.  Even though you were exonerated by the Sheriff from any wrong doing, the villager's believed that you were not entirely blameless for his accidental death.  After month's of putting up with the furtive glances and the whispered rumours you decide that life would be better for everyone if you just left.  Perhaps in another village you'll be able to start a new and more interesting life...

BARBARIAN

1. Born into it - You don't really have a choice you're father was a tribal chief, as was your grandfather and his father before him stretching back across the ages into the time when the Legends were born.  It is the tradition that tribal chief sons go out into the world far beyond the boundaries of the tribal lands and embark on a great quest.  Perhaps you will find a beautiful wife like your father, or great riches like your grandfather, or perhaps like your brother you will not return at all...

THIEF

3. Brutal childhood - You had two choices after your Father died and your Mother remarried; either runaway or die at the hands of the brute she married.  You chose the former and ran away at the tender age of 12 eventually falling in with a kindly old thief from whom you learned the arts of the con, the distraction, the palm, how to pick a pocket and a lock and many, many more...

4. Middle Child - As a middle child you felt you always got the raw end of the deal.  Your older sibling got the praise for doing everything first and your younger sibling always being praised for just existing.  The only way you got any attention was when you did something bad.  Eventually your petty thievery caught the attention of what passes for the Thieves Guild in your town you were given three choices; join the Guild, leave town or take a beating...

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Mars Attacks! Bubblegum Cards on Flickr

Call me crazy but I do love a bit of pulp Sci-Fi every now and then, here's a Flickr set of the complete Mars Attacks! bubblegum cards.
36aMost of you will know that these cards were the original inspiration for Tim Burton's 1996 movie of the same name, But I've never seen the whole collection before or seen the card backs either so set the slideshow to play, sit back and enjoy a bit of nostalgia.

Monday Motivations #1

Article #1 in a regular series where I offer up some ideas for character backgrounds by class.  I aim to collect these ideas together for a future pdf publication.

What made your character decide to become a wizard? Why did they leave their home town? Did they leave family behind or are they looking for something? These are all questions players face when generating their characters, with the best will in the world it's tempting to rely on cliché.

ANY CLASS

1.  Slaughter - You were left for dead by the raiders who slaughtered everyone in your village.  You nursed your wounds and survived the cruel winter which followed fueled only by thoughts of revenge.  Now you must find out who orchestrated the raid and how you can destroy them. 

2.  Bastard offspring - On your mother's deathbed she told you that your father is a wealthy / powerful man who will never recognise you as his rightful heir.  You can't accept this and have vowed to either prove to him that you are a worthy heir or his equal.

RANGER

1. Track a foe beast  - You are the best tracker from your village and after a few of the villagers were killed by a savage beast you were tasked to hunt it down and slay it.  You have passed through many towns and villages along the way and have stopped to help the locals in exchange for food, lodgings and a little money.The beast's territory ranges for thousands of miles and you have been tracking it for months but it always seems to be one step ahead of you...

THIEF

1. Retrieve an heirloom - On your father's deathbed he gave you his signet ring, confiding in you that it was central to his fortune.  Stricken with grief you were drowning your sorrows in a local tavern where you were mugged.  After cursing your foolishness you returned home and in the following weeks creditors appeared from every corner claiming to be owed money.  It was not long before the business collapsed under the weight of it's debt.  Perhaps your father's ring held more significance than you originally thought so you vow to track it down and regain your family's fortunes...

2. Escape from poverty - After your family fell on hard times you decided to lessen the burden by going out on your own looking for work.  It was then that you realised how unfair the world is, the rich have far more than they'll ever need and are consumed with the need to gather more and more wealth whilst the poor go hungry and spend every waking moment trying to survive.  You decided to partake in a little wealth re-distribution of your own...

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year and Roleplaying Resolutions for 2011

Happy New Year to you all.

And, as sure as eggs follow bacon, the time has come to make some New Year Roleplay Resolutions:

1. Take more notes - Over the last few years, with respect to note taking, I have become just plain lazy and has often resulted in me taking a back seat in games as a player when I should be taking the lead. When DMing, I've been relying on my player's memories and notes way too much and I need to start driving the scenario rather than it driving me. This has got to stop!! My new campaign starts in a week's time and I want to start writting session resports again.  I find they invaluable in helping me record the improvised detail I generate in-game that you don't get during normal worldbuilding activities.  If I don't record it, type it up and publish it on the campaign website, it will be lost forever.

2. Build a weekly blog series - Frankly I'm jealous of the likes of Dyson Logos: Geomorphs and Land of Nod: Deviant Friday and thought it was about time I created a weekly(ish) series which might possibly be gathered together into some sort of publication perhaps.  Ideas so far are:
  • Monday Motivations: Inspired by the excellent Campaign Mastery: Character Hooks, this series of articles gives some suggestions for PC Background Motivations, why does a PC become an "adventurer" or embark on a "career class" in the first place?

  • Tuesday Trailer: I get a lot of my inspiration from movies and TV although I rarely lift a plot from a movie.  It might just be a single object or a character or it may even be something as intangible as the art direction which gets the creative juices going and I want to share that with you all.

  • Dramatis Pictura: I hate reading NPC descriptions which don't have a character portrait to go along with them, in fact I find it hard to visualise a fully rounded character without one.  Shouldn't be too hard to find some good NPC portraits in deviant art

  • Serious Locations: On my travels round the interweb I stumble across some amazing photographs many of which inspire RPG locations.
  • City Geomorphs: There's enough folks doing dungeon geomorphs to last me a lifetime and most of my adventures take place in urban environments so I'm going to take a crack at cities. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop
3. Blog in advance more regularly - At the moment I blog when I have an idea it's a cause and effect relationship.  I'd like to get in the habit of writing in advance and maybe even set articles to publish on a time delay.

Anyway, I think that's enough to be getting on with, if you have any preferences for series ideas let me know.