Jul 162014
 

So on July 10th players met at Sam’s place for our third AW session.  Astute readers of this record will note therefore that this implies an undocumented second session. If you are that reader you are correct.  If I had made a a post I know the title would have been: [Apocalypse World] You gotta know when to hold ’em. With such a precedent, the title for this report would make even more sense.  Action during that lost session revolved around the struggles of Vega’s hard hold: Iron Well. Iron well dealt with a refugee problem, shunting some weary and possibly sickly pilgrims off to work on the out-lying farms.  Now the pilgrims are gone or dead and the farms are abandoned.  Session three began with Iron Well sliding into want.  In the mean time Always and Crimson Beastie turned about at began heading back to the Hold. Crimson set on declaring his love for Plum and daring Vega’s wrath by inviting Plum to abscond together.

Always’s group of followers also finds themselves in want after giving up so much of their life energy to fuel Alway’s cryptic ritual in the swamp.  Going in to want seems to make them jumpy.  Just in sight of Iron Well the party is intercepted by Pyotr on a mission from Vega.  Crimson refuses to be deterred and sweeps Pytor up in his mad, all but headlong rush to destruction.

Before  the walls of Iron Well, Crimson makes his declaration at the top of his lungs demanding Plum be “set free” to follow eir heart and then makes an additional plea directly to Plum’s heart. Out of shear grandiosity Crimson hurls the precious lure, the hook in his heart that continuosly drew him back to Plum up into Vega’s face.  The logic being, if Vega didn’t respond they’d be storming the Hardhold anyways and would either reclaim the precious treasure or die in the attempt.  With Crimson, there really never is ever any ‘holding back’.

But the bloody climax was averted.  Ever pragmatic, Vega accepted the return of her stolen property and allowed Plum to make eir own choice.  Pyotr had earlier offered to take Plum on his far flung trading missions.  Crimson, battle lust sated (or at least distracted) resigns her temporary and tenuous command and offers to work for Pyotr so long as Plum is in his company.  Always does what Always always does…  But before the new party can depart, just before they’ve turned their back on Iron Well a sound from the wild lands captures everyone’s attention.    Some people are coming out of the woods.  They are coming this way.  And they don’t look like they’re coming to talk.

May 302014
 

This is a place holder, not  a report yet… some Halifax Indie gamers: Sam, Kevin, Alissa, Jake, Owen and Joshua met on May 29th at Sam’s house to commence an AW campaign.

Sam, I think you already have author or editor privileges on this blog.  If you care to report on the game play please edit this post.   Actually anyone who played is welcome to contribute to this blog.  Email me for an account.

Cheers!

 Posted by at 4:21 pm
May 302014
 

On the 8th of May, Carter, Alissa, and Joshua returned to the unassuming tables of gaming at Games People Play to continue the story of our Sorcerers.

Event’s at the end of our last session had lead most players to consider their need for greater demonic power.  I believe it ended with failed summoning attempts by both Vincent King and Stephen Demoine. On this day, Vincent gathered together a make-shift coven recruiting his pagan friends and relations from their commune out in Beaverbank to assist with a massive summoning.  They were seeking to call and contain the soul of an illustrious war hero in the King Family history. Since Nat wasn’t playing today the Professor Demoine did not re-attempt any summoning today but  Detective Constable Garien, on extended enforced leave with pay, set about seeking additional aid from beyond the grave.   It took us the rest of the session to resolve these two sorcerous endeavours.  It is a shame I didn’t get around to recording this entry more quickly because my memories of the details are quire fragmented. The following impressions are not likely to be complete or accurate.  Actually as I riff off those memories I’m liable to invent lots of detail that wasn’t discussed at the table. [Alissa’s note: confirmed. My commentary is below].

Tasha driven I think primarily by her hatred for the danger other demons posed for innocents sought to summon something to help her protect others from their powers.  Having seen both Kyoteh the shadowy strangler and Smythe in action she needed something that could interfere with those attacks. Frustrated by the limits of her own powers, she was none-the-less adamant in her refusal to dabble in the narcotic concoctions that other sorcerers often use to ‘open their mind’ to the Lore.  She relied as best as she could on hard cold historical research and managed (I believe)  to get her hands on a useful artifact.  The enabled her to make contact with the angry karma of a scientist, who died before his time, who had dedicated his life to the study of sound, sonic shocks and the like.  (I really hope you can flesh this out Alissa because I remember I quite liked the story).

[Clive Benjamin, a young man rendered permanently deaf by the Halifax Explosion in 1917. He became a driven scientist who studied the properties of sound as it relates to sonic booms. He had just made a major breakthrough in 1922, which would lead to revolutionary technology which could be used for defence (self explanatory) and industry (moving heavy objects). Before he could publish his work, he was murdered (strangled, he didn’t hear the threat behind him) by a jealous rival scientist, Stewart Linnon. To add insult to a dead body, Stewart Linnon intended to take credit for his work. Of course the murderer was a pretty poor scientist and he couldn’t make any sense of Benjamin’s research; so instead he destroyed everything he could find. Some small pieces of research did survive in the form of letters and related papers (Tasha found these in the NS Archives), but sadly these only point to what Mr. Benjamin had discovered. They are not enough to recover his original research. Of some note is the fact that Stewart Linnon mysteriously drowned one year later; after falling off the waterfront into the harbour on a completely calm day. Perhaps Clive Benjamin got some measure of revenge after all.]

(Despite successfully contacting this spirit, it would take something more than mere research to bring it back across…  Still eschewing the drugs, she allowed herself to dabble for the first time in animal sacrifice.  Recently  her home had been invaded by pigeons.  A mated pair had meticulously constructed a cozy nest up in the attic and had lost no time starting a family.  Several eggs had recently hatched and three adorable squabs (or ‘squeakers’ as baby pigeons are also called) [Alissa’s note: really? squabs? squeakers?] had begun to fill the air with their cries for food.  Their demands not only kept their parents in a constant flutter but of course also disturbed the Detective-Constables’s already fretful sleeps. So we can hardly be surprised, that upon recognizing the utility of spilling the blood of live, thriving creatures in the dark rituals in which twisted and tortured souls are invited to take form once again in our universe Tasha’s mind would immediately light upon a means of killing two birds with one stone… What happened next is so grim, gross, and soul-destroying I shall not describe in any detail. [Alissa’s note: that’s because you can’t remember. As I recall it wasn’t that gross or soul-destroying… but I’ll agree it sure wasn’t pretty and it made a big mess I had to clean up.]   Suffice to say, if Tasha lies awake, haunted and sleepless… it won’t be those birds fault any more.

The summoning and binding then proceeded without a hitch and Tasha now finds herself the proud mistress of yet another object demon.  This one resides in the physical form of a miniature glass bell jar complete with aircock and diaphragm like those used in early 20th century science experiments to demonstrate the lack of sound in a vacuum.  In bright natural light the jar appears perfectly empty, but at night or indoors, it is often possible to catch curious shadows: sometimes of mysterious mechanisms, other times a human figure or even the fluttering of bird wings appears for an instant.   Whenever you are looking directly at it, it is perfectly silent. But anyone who is deaf  will ‘hear’ a rapid whispering when its presence. [Alissa’s note: I think you “invented” this part Josh. I don’t remember anything about the thing whispering. It does sound kind of cool though.]  Any sort of deafness will do, so temporarily deafening oneself permits communication. It’s need is to be present and subjected to deafening bursts of high decibel noise [Alissa’s note: the sorcerer may wear earplugs].  In the immediate wake of subjecting oneself to such sound, a person can also ‘hear’ its whisperings.

[What about Vincent King? he did a sort of successful summoning but lost his humanity and is now possessed by his ancestor demon. Also what about him slitting the cow’s throat? After all, I got told off for pigeons. Nice pictures!]

To be continued…

bell-jar-soundexp

bell-jarperson

belljar

May 022014
 

The latest chapter of our Halifax-based sorcerer game unfolded last Thursday on April 29th. The action commenced down on the waterfront where we had left at least three of the sorcerers following the shoot-up from the previous session.

I admit my memory is getting foggy already, so I propose to start with a short snapshot of where each character was at the end of the session.  Then I’ll leave it to you to remind me about how they got there. And/or correct me regarding last known position.

Shake Finegan: last seen in the dead of night helping Marley launch her dubious vessel into the Bedford Basin.  Will he board and sail the seas as Marley’s 1st mate?  Will he debark at Point Pleasant Shoal, dig up his wealth and carry out his shceme of revenge?  Will he do something totally unpredictable?  We don’t know.  We only know that his name will live in infamy among the surviving blue devils who will look back on this as the year Shake shook us down.

Vincent King: Last seen with other members of his clan cow jacking or cattle rustling or something, presumably looking for blood to fuel some hideous pagan ritual in the woods of Beaverbank.  What are they summoning!?

Stephen Demoine: Malingering back in his favourite bed back in the Infirmary.  In kind of a reverse Münchausen syndrome, he’s feigning injury in the hopes of AVOIDING more attention.  Will he succeed?  Will he defeat his inner demons or will he succom…  oh wait no.    Dr. Demoine was last seen collapsed in his apartment, illuminated by a single guttering candle fame,  historical print outs scattered around him, oddities and artifacts, hand drawn sketches of things we were not meant to know…  His hunger for power and efficacy wracking his body. Will he find the physical strength he needs from somewhere beyond the grave?

Tasha Garien: Home, alone confronted with the dire choice… to let the other sorcerers in this city continue to run amok, leading to terror, human sacrifice, shoot outs down town… or will she embrace the power she needs to turn the tides and defeat them.  Suspended from work, isolated from her friends.  To whom, among the living, can she turn.

It turns out I remembered more than I thought despite my headache:

Starting off Vincent King was under arrest for being involved in last night’s stabbing and having a human toe in his pocket. He was shown to a room with a phone and called a very sleepy lawyer at 3:00 in the morning. The lawyer basically told him not to say anything, and Vincent was released pending trial that morning, told his court date, and left to walk home.

Our other characters were left off in front of the maritime museum. Shake kept swimming away and Stephen Demoine is unconscious and gravely injured from multiple bullet wounds. Kyla Mardine is also badly hurt and semi-conscious. This leaves Tasha Garien. She briefly checks on Kyla, who is closest, and props her up against the car, making sure she touches both her hands. Then she runs to Stephen Demoine and gives him first aid. Tasha is successful and Demoine is stabilized. Ambulances and police arrive to take them away. Sarge gets there and the first words out of his mouth are: “Garien, what the fuck happened?” Tasha tells him she was in the car with Kyla and saw the professor in an altercation with the stabbing suspect (Wimpy) and another suspect thought to be his accomplice (Shake). She continues by saying she got out and told Kyla to stay in the car (she didn’t) and got out. Tasha then says when the suspect/assailant (Wimpy) shot the professor, and she fired a shot herself at the suspect. Garien mentions she believes she hit the suspect, but it had little effect and he ran off around the corner of the museum, while his accomplice (Shake) jumped into the harbour and swam away. Finally, she says she (Tasha) heard Kyla go down behind her (doesn’t know why) and she didn’t chase the attacker because she had two civilians down.  Sarge believes the story but is still very ticked off and tells Tasha to go to the station and write up a report ASAP. Garien’s response: “Yes sir.”

Vincent gets home and decides he has to lose the sawed-off rifle. To do this, he walks (unarmed) into the local Blue Devils bar/dive (name?) and tells the bartender he has something to sell. The bartender tells him he should leave in no uncertain terms, and he does. He heads home, but he’s followed out of the bar by two Blue Devils. The knock on the door and Vincent opens it a crack to talk to them. Big mistake. The devils slam the door open; knocking the writer backwards. Vincent fights but is easily overpowered. The devils aggressively tell him he can’t go selling drugs on their turf; trying to take away their customers. Vincent says he wanted to sell a weapon, not drugs. The goons search his place and find his specialized sorcerer drugs and ask him “what the fuck is this shit”? Vincent has some concoction that includes, dope, E, and a feather. They take that. The devils then get high on Vincent’s drugs, eat his food, trash his place and laugh at him. Then they leave. They do not find the sawed-off rifle.

Stephen Demoine wakes up in hospital (again) and is making another miraculous recovery. He asks to give a video statement to police. He says “Two crazy ladies shot me”, one of whom is a coroner, and the other one who was wearing a police uniform. He’s talking to Vernon, who quickly kills the video recording and asks him to repeat himself, saying “Constable Garien shot you?” Demoine is adamant that yes, she did. Vernon leaves and Stephen goes home to feed his demon. He’s in for a loud three hours.

Shake manages to climb onto the passing Dartmouth ferry without being noticed; thanks to help with Dominic’s glamour. He pickpockets a student and sneaks off the ferry before it docks without raising the alarm. Shake climbs up a nearby wharf (near the small park) and has made it to Dartmouth, dripping wet, with $150, but with a hundred bill and a fifty bill. He needs change to call a cab from a payphone.

At the police office, Tasha presents her report to Sarge. Vernon suddenly arrives and asks to speak with Sarge in private for a moment. Tasha hears Sarge yelling in the hall. The two of them return and tell Tasha that Mr. Demoine is claiming she shot him. Garien seems surprised. Sarge tells Tasha she’s suspended with pay for a week during the investigation; she is not to talk to or have any contact with the people involved. This means Stephen Demoine, and Kyla Mardine. Kyla is still in the hospital. Tasha changes into plain clothes and calls Jeremy, but he tells her he has to report anything she says to the chief, so they can’t talk. She goes to Annabel’s office.

Vincent decides he wants to summon a demon, since he currently has none (the toe is still with the police). He calls his druid buddies and they decide to get together, take drugs and do a group summon (possibly there was something involving sacrificing cows?). The end result; the summoning does not work and they all wind up sick from failed summoning and dangerously losing willpower as a result of the drugs (permanently). I believe they were summoning in a field somewhere. They fail miserably and pass out en mass, in pretty bad shape.

Stephen has just finished a three hour horror screaming session to feed his demon; with Beethoven blaring to mask the noise from his neighbours. With his demon sated, a hoarse Stephen goes to the library and researches a demon he wants to contact (something involving armour). He goes home, takes drugs to boost his power (?) and tries to summon it. He fails miserably, throws up and passes out in a near death state; alone in his apartment.

Tasha Garien goes to her appointment with Annabel. Annabel has changed her mind about Simon Kim and wants him to go back to normal police custody; even though she thinks his condition could flare up at any time. Tasha thinks this is rather two faced of her; since the police officer risked her career to get him into Annabel’s hands in the first place. However there is very little a suspended officer can do, and she takes this news with resignation. After some questioning, Annabel reveals what she was hiding from Garien earlier—Peter Garien told her he had concerns Tasha was hiding something before he died. Tasha knows this is the truth and is stunned. After more discussion Annabel starts talking about “stress and paranoia” and writing a prescription; telling Garien she should tell her what she’s hiding because “I fix people and I can fix all your problems.” At this Tasha start laughing bitterly and says she will tell Annabel… but “Are you sure you want to know?” Annabel hesitates at first and then eventually says yes. Tasha goes to Delane’s computer and shows Annabel everything that Kyla complied. Annabel starts freaking out, saying both Tasha and Kyla Mardine are suffering from delusions. Tasha walks out of the office (taking Kyla’s evidence, leaving the presciption) with Annabel screaming her name. Tasha stops in the hallway as Annabel runs after her; but the doctor is hysterical and is saying something to the effect that Tasha and Kyla must be stopped from spreading this delusion and making other people believe it. Tasha responds “you’re pathetic. you’re in denial” and continues walking out of the office; ignoring Annabel’s screaming. As far as we know, Tasha is on her way home.

Shake walks up Queen Street in Dartmouth and finds a sketchy place to buy some food (making change) and eats. He gets to a payphone and calls a cab, and the cab takes him to see Marley. Marley demands to know what’s going on and he brings her up to speed. She asks why he is so eager to get a certain someone out of jail. Shake finally explains he wants to get him out of jail so he can kill him. Months ago, the criminal in question kidnapped Shake and kept him imprisoned in his house for days; where he was assulted/tortured. Shake wants revenge. Marley tells him that revenge could get him killed; he should just let it go, get out of town with her and be free. She’s finished her “boat” and wants to sail away out of Halifax and “live off the land and hunt whales.” Shake is intrigued and follows her to the boat.

 

 

Apr 152014
 

Pirates!Last Friday, April 11 a great number of gamers, I hope I don’t miss any (in order of appearance), Alissa, Jake, Carter, Richard, Travis, Sam, Stacy, and Tracy arrived at Joshua’s house.  We warmed up with a couple of rounds of Resistance.  I inadvertently played the traitor strategy of “draw maximum attention to myself and distract the resistance from thinking about who the other traitor is”.  This worked well, but possibly only because we weren’t playing exactly by the rules. (We thought team leaders couldn’t send themselves on missions.)  After two rounds of play and plenty of appropriate beverages we were all in a perfect frame of mind for Pirates!  Since neither Nat or Sebastian from the previous Pirates! game was present I recycled the plot from their game.  Actually, plot and story are so unimportant, I don’t think it would have mattered if they were here.  When people are drinking and playing role-playing games, silly over-the-top play is the norm.  So that isn’t what makes Pirates! special.  In my opinion the genius of the game is that it is designed to provide sustained enjoyment in such a state.  When other RPG’s start to break down into silliness I feel they enter a fairly brief death spiral of hilarity.  Perhaps its because another game might be designed to reward careful tactical thinking and great violence has to be done to the prepared material or the mechanics and system to tolerate the tomfoolery.   But with Pirates, since the foolish response is generally the correct one, the game’s integrity is unharmed and it can carry on.   We were up to eight players + gm, all very rowdy and talkative and it seemed that everyone was enjoying it right up until the end.  I resorted to a pretty strict turn-taking order with each player allowed to act, and roll dice, get consequences once before moving on.  People were allowed to invite others to join in on their turns ie.  to avoid “drinking alone”.   One thing that didn’t work well at all was PvP action.  I waffled between disallowing it completely, to allowing attempts to be made thought guaranteed to fail.  In retrospect I think it should vary between the tricks.  “Kill” will always fail, “Tease” should probably be subject to the will of the target player; Maraud and Devastate might work as expected (I interpret devastate v. a single target to always be non-lethal), Maraud however will always trigger the “don’t steal from friends” taboo (read broadly as don’t steal from friends or even fr-enemies).

Trying to play a game about pirates without tripping over racist or sexist or colonial tropes is tricky.  I’m sorry to say we were far from successful, however I was pleased with some stupid innovations. Whether the amount to sensitive or enlightened play, or not, is a question I’ll gracelessly duck.  When the pirates arrived on the island with the volcano, they fell afoul of the locals.  As soon as the word ‘cannibals’ escaped my lips I felt awkward so I attempted to patch it up by describing them as universally white, balding, middle-aged cannibals… a la Anthony Hopkins.   The island of Siren’s was merely populated by alluring and seductive ‘members of gender of your preference’, this worked well and seemed to provide something for everyone.

 

 Posted by at 1:35 pm
Apr 042014
 

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On March 27, 2014 Sam, Nat and Joshua gathered at the Board Room.  After the owner bullied us (hey we didn’t resist that hard) into playing a cool space board game (what was it called?), Joshua bullied the group into trying out “Shooting the Moon” by Emily Care Boss .

I required that I play the beloved and let Sam and Nat fight over the desirable rolls of ‘suitor 1’ or ‘suitor 2’.  After minimal bloodshed we agreed one some solution.  As much as I had hoped the night would turn into a session of ‘bros’ gender switching and pushing various role-playing boundaries 😉 we inadvertently all that excitement by concocting a fairly abstract romance in which I, as the beloved played a hot sexy new tech and gaming startup and the boys played large corporate interests both intent on winning me as “the prize”.  I was a company called Counterfate Revolution in partial homage to Sam’s latest prototype storytelling game (Counterfate) . Looking across the Boardroom my eyes lit upon some people at another table playing something called Revolution.

Sam’s character was meant to portray the dullest and oldest of tech behemoths with social media thrown in. Kinda if IBM, Microsoft and Facebook all merge  (if they haven’t already).  He was called V.A.T. Technologies, the joke is that V.A.T. stands for Value Added Technology but no one remembers, so they’ve grown another ‘technology”  I can see this turning latter into VATT Tech Corp down the road…  and so on and so on.  Trust me it feels good to think you’re as clever as I felt like I thought I was that night!

Nat played “the circle”  a kind of warmer and fuzzier version of Anonymous with only the most altruistic of goals.

Story? Yeah there was plenty of that.  Shooting the moon works by rewarding players for advancing the story with dice which they roll to gain points and add  positive aspects to their characters descriptions.  There are further incentives to accept certain setbacks and negative aspects in return for  more dice.  While the rules call for three complete rounds we wrapped up with only a single round.  Frankly by that point, due to aggressive play there was so little left of the main characters I’m curious about whether anyone would have survived 3 rounds.  Lots of fun was had.  Our reading of the game seemed to really open the door up to satire and smart-alecky play.  Perhaps with different settings and character choices one develops more intimate and authentic narratives.  But I doubt it.  Emily Care Boss has published other games including “Under My Skin” which I believe are more in that vein.   Shooting the Moon is prettly clearly marketted as light hearted fun.  And we definitely got what we expected.

 

 Posted by at 3:56 pm
Apr 042014
 

Present: Joshua, Alissa, Sebastian, Nat. Regrets: Carter.

 

Starting off where the last game ended; Tasha’s badge has just exploded and Ssss/Smith has been accepted and bound by the unconscious Stephen Demoine. The explosion created a loud bang and lots of shrapnel, some actually lodging in Tasha’s vest. The other cops turn around, guns drawn and see Tasha Garien, leaning against a tree with her hand clapped to her chest and genuine fear on her face (She believes she’s been shot). An unknown cop actually covers her to protect her and they tell her not to move (this is easy as she can’t breathe for a minute). Cops everywhere are called in and there is general pandemonium. Stephen Demoine is taken to the hospital with Sasheen, Vincent is carted off to jail.

Meanwhile, Shake has gone to his home on Brunswick Street to sleep. Sometime that night (3 or 4 in the morning) He is awakened by frantic knocking at his door. It’s Wimpy/Wilson who begs him to let him in, as it’s so cold outside and he needs help. Shake lets Dominic take over, who cheerfully lets Wimpy in and asks for some booze. Wimpy complies, tells him his story and offers to be his faithful first mate (a sailor must have a captain). The binding ritual is a drinking contest. Shake (back in control) agrees and they drink through the night until they pass out. That morning, Shake thoughtfully gives the odd looking sailor his coat, and they leave the apartment together in search of food.

Still unconscious, Stephen Demoine has a conversation with Sssss/Smith in a dream (or rather nightmare) state. This nightmare is extremely hellish and creepy, complete with wriggling, flesh covered books. The setting is similar to Stephen’s office, and the demon is a mirror image of himself…only… creepier. Sssss/Smith extols the virtues of his power and of his quest to rid Halifax of other “inferior” sorcerers (by killing them) and then rule the city. Also, the demon explains his powers and his need, and is knitting Stephen Demoine’s flesh together as they speak, enabling Stephen’s rapid recovery. Stephen feels drunk on this new power and is converted to the cause. First on the list of those who must die/be banished: Wimpy, the demon who stabbed Stephen; and Kyla Mardine, because she knows too much.

Things have now calmed down somewhat at public gardens; Police are searching the public gardens in vain for the cutlass and firearm welding assailant. Tasha sees Jason Greene, a rookie, hanging around looking distracted. She’s surprised to see him, as his wife had a brain aneurism last week and it’s the first time he’s been back since. She asked him how his wife is doing and how the surgery went (as well as can be expected, well) and suggests he relieve Jeremy so that he can be near his wife who is only a few rooms away from Kim. He agrees. She is sure to tell him as he leaves that if anyone asks, she sent him. Jeremy texts her asking if he should trust Jason, Tasha response yes and tells him to meet her at public gardens. When he comes down she fills him in and they decide to go home. On the way, Tasha gets frantic texts from Kyla saying they need to talk. Tasha agrees to meet her at her office at 12:30. Then she makes an omelette (she’s starving) to feed herself and her demon and collapses into bed.

Stephen Demoine makes a miraculous recovery and leaves the hospital that morning. Before he leaves; he calls Emily and leaves an awkward voicemail telling her things are getting crazy and maybe they should break up and she should leave. If not they can meet up later. He looks up Kyla Mardine’s work address and sets off to the coroner’s office in Dartmouth, arriving around 10 am.  He asks to see her, is told she is busy, and waits in the lobby for an hour. During this time he peruses the creepy demon book in the lobby, though he must look gingerly to keep from screaming. Across the water, Shake and Wimpy (who now looks a bit like a 17th century admiral with the new coat) sit down at Shake’s favourite cafe to eat. Shake babbles a lot of his sorcerer stories, but he’s too unintelligible for his friend, Delores Starbell, to understand him. She gives him coffee with vodka and organic muffins and all seems well, for now. Tasha is just getting up; she won’t arrive at Kyla’s office until 12:30.

It’s 11 am when Kyla comes out of the office and tells her admin assistant to go get a coffee so they can talk alone. Stephen Demoine threatens her and tells her she must not go blabbing to the police or journalists. He asks for all the information she has on other sorcerers so he can hunt them down and “run them out of town.” Kyla is reluctant, but frightened. She eventually promises to give him a list that evening in person, but he insists she send it to him by email using encryption software he’s going to send her. He leaves, heading for the ferry to return to Halifax. It’s sometime around noon.

Tasha Garien shows up and Kyla is clearly worried and is relieved to see her. She asks Tasha to come into the her office and shows her all the information she’s gathered on sorcery over the past 9 years; including her real notes on autopsies and a disc with images of the strange book she didn’t tell Tasha about earlier. The slide show includes images of a lot of corpses that have come across Kyla’s table with unusual, unexplained causes of death. She tells Tasha all she knows about sorcery and demons, and mentions that she first put this information in a report 9 years ago and was almost fired by the chief of police (then deputy), so now she keeps quiet. Kyla also shows Tasha the body of the dead sorcerer again and tells her another sorcerer killed him using a demon capable of killing by ripping the breath out of a person’s lungs. She says Tasha can probably guess why she, Kyla, is confiding in the police officer.

Tasha is unnerved by what she has seen and tells Kyla she’s right, and confesses she is a sorcerer, thanking Kyla for finally telling her the truth. She explains that, until recently, she believed she was the only sorcerer in the city and so attempted to protect other people; realizing she was likely the only cop who would recognize the work of demons. However, Tasha’s success has been limited, as sorcery is extremely dangerous. Tasha Garien would give anything to not have her power and walk away; but she’s stuck with the ability and can’t abandon the city with a clean conscience. At this, Kyla Mardine has decided she has seen enough sorcery and wants to get out of town. She gives Tasha all her notes and slides, including a list of suspected sorcerers. Stephen Demoine is on the list, as is Tasha Garien and Vincent King (Shake is not there). Tasha mentions that Vincent was arrested last night with a human toe in his pocket, and she saw Stephen last night, impaled and at death’s door heading for ICU.  This news is very disturbing for Kyla. Seeing how frightened she is, Tasha asks if she has told anyone else, and gets a ring from Petrus that she is lying when she evades the question. Kyla realizes Tasha can tell when she lies; so she pleads with her not to ask anymore as the coroner is worried about her own safety if she talks. Tasha doesn’t press her any farther but offers to stay with her to protect her until Kyla can safely get out of town. Kyla agrees, Tasha makes a quick call to Annabel Delane explaining she will be late for her 2:00 pm appointment due to crazy stuff at work, but will likely make it by 4:00 pm at the latest. Tasha and Kyla leave together on route to the hospital (Halifax) in her car.

At the cafe on Barrington Street, Shake and Wimpy/Wilson are still chowing down. Delores Starbell gives Shake a tarot reading. She tells him the blue devils are after him, something about a cage, and then she keeps drawing the hell card. This makes her very nervous. She asks to see Shake’s palm and notices his hands are messed up from fighting. She asks if Shake has killed anyone. At first he says “No”, then “I don’t think so” and then “I don’t know.” Delores is very alarmed now and says she will go to get more tea. She disappears into the kitchen and makes loud banging noises, as if someone is pretending to make tea. Then there is complete silence. Shake is very nervous and paces around the room. Wimpy/Wilson is fine and keeps eating and drinking. Delores sticks her head out of the kitchen to say tea will just be a minute. She’s obviously lying. Shake says they are going to leave now and Delores calls back to tell them to stay. Shake calls Wimpy and says they are leaving. They exit, but only get a few steps past the door when a cop car pulls up and a policeman known to Shake gets out. (Please correct me on the names, Joshua, I can only remember T. and M.) T is the kind of cop who likes to beat up homeless guys for fun, and M. will go along with whatever he proposes. T strides towards Shake, aggressively asking what he’s doing, who’s his friend (Willy) and then demands ID. M. is getting out of the car on the street side and walking around. “Willy” of course doesn’t have ID, and neither does Shake. Shake points out that T is well aware of this fact; please leave them alone, they aren’t causing trouble. T demands the two of them get in the car and come with them to the station for questioning. Shake says he will answer any questions right there and is still trying to talk his way out of this. M has just reached the sidewalk when things go from bad to worse. Wimpy stands protectively beside his captain and draws his sword. T. draws his gun and starts shooting Wimpy, M is pretty much useless in the fight and does very little. Shake tries in vain to tell the cops to get back in the car and leave. Wimpy takes four bullets but reacts as if he’s simply been slapped and the bullets disappear. He keeps on coming and stabs T. T. goes down and is incapacitated. M. gets off one shot but misses Wimpy. Then he cowers behind the car. Shake decides to make a run for it and Wimpy follows. M. shoots at them, missing Wimpy but hitting Shake (light damage, flesh wound) as they cross the street and make a break for it down Salter Street. M. Calls in for backup and Tasha hears it, already driving on Barrington. She speeds up and heads for the scene of recent action, Kyla still with her.

Shake and Wimpy run down to the waterfront, and in front of the maritime museum who should they run into but Stephen Demoine. He tries once again to banish Wimpy and this time, succeeds. Poor Wimpy apologizes to his captain as he is dragged back into the abyss by baby shadow demons. Shake continues running to the water to try and escape, but Stephen releases Sssss/Smith into the fray. Sssss brutally attacks Shake with a psychic force attack, Shake drops to his knees at the edge of the wharf, taking heavy damage. At this point Tasha and Kyla are driving by and Kyla screams “stop that’s him!” Tasha is very surprised to see Stephen Demoine; apparently unhurt; after seeing him impaled and being loaded into an ambulance less than 12 hours ago. Tasha already knows he’s a sorcerer; she can see him attacking Shake; and now she knows he’s met Kyla. Tasha Garien floors the gas and screeches to a halt in the parking lot, getting out of the car just as Shake collects a bit of stamina with sheer willpower and manages to pitch himself over the edge of the wharf into the harbour. Tasha yells at Kyla to stay in the car (she doesn’t) and runs toward the wharf as Stephen makes a wisecrack. Tasha tries to use a pain attack as she runs to knock Stephen down. It doesn’t work and he just raises an eyebrow. Stephen turns to Kyla and says “we meet again, I thought you weren’t going to talk to the police” Tasha overhears this, but keeps running to the edge of the wharf and looks over. She sees Shake (now Dominic) swimming away, in no danger of drowning.

After some threatening banter, Stephen brings out Kyoteh (I think, I’m not entirely sure about the order here) and Kyla draws a gun. Stephen uses Kyoteh to cloak himself, but Kyla’s aim is good and she hits him anyway (light damage?) Tasha whips around at the sound of gunshots and runs toward them both; drawing her own gun and screaming “Kyla what the hell are you doing? Put the gun down!” Kyla doesn’t listen and Stephen lets Sssss hit her with the psychic force attack. Kyla goes down with a lot of damage and attempts to crawl back to the car, Tasha knows she’s been attacked by a demon and stops running midway between Kyla and Stephen. Shake continues to swim away. The professor then sends Kyoteh to Kyla commanding him to hold her. Kyla gets off one more shot before being trapped under Kyoteh. (Stephen has medium damage?) All three of them are now in the presence of the same demon that killed the sorcerer on Kyla’s examination table (and by the way he’s hungry). Tasha shoots Stephen Demoine, doing considerably more damage than Kyla’s shots. He goes down with heavy damage and is unconscious and ready for ICU. Again. Unfortunately Kyoteh doesn’t disappear and instead can now make his own decisions. Tasha attempts to banish him and fails; but the demon leaves Kyla and is now moving towards her. Tasha tries to banish again. Kyoteh stops briefly to absorb the attempt but it fails. He is still gliding towards her. Tasha tries to banish the demon a third time, and again she only slows him down a bit. Kyoteh is now right in front of Tasha’s face as she tries to banish him one more time. This time she succeeds. Sirens sound, and Tasha has just enough time to grab Kyla’s gun and biff it into the harbour before police and ambulances arrive. Once again, it’s pandemonium.

 Posted by at 2:51 pm
Mar 292014
 

2014-03-17 19.17.25 Here’s an update from Geoffrey et al’s game.  I believe the played on St. Patrick’s Day, 2014.

Geoffrey writes:

After a slight delay, we played another session of QfR on Monday, accompanied by fresh oatmeal cookies, a not-at-all bad bottle of homemade white wine, and the requisite number of cats.

(Comments in italics)

The first session ended with the characters (Derek, Odette, and Joan) gathered together outside a convenience store in St. Collens, NB, in the company of a pair of strangers. The last lines of the evening were Odette asking, “Who are you folks?” and one of them answering, “We’re the Fair Folk.”

Monday’s game began with a monstrously huge man charging out from the alley next to the store and everyone piling into Odette’s car to drive away as fast as they could. The two strangers (who would later be introduced as Gabriel and Cobweb) weren’t very forthcoming with explanations, although they did tell them that the thing that was chasing them was called the Spriggan. Eventually, after they were fairly sure it was far behind them, they paused at a gas station to gather their wits (and, in Joan’s case, smoke a joint), whereupon they were joined by a third stranger, Corbin. Corbin merrily climbed into the car with them all, making it rather cramped, as they agreed to drive to Derek’s house for explanations.

It would be a night of much exposition: I would have preferred to avoid being quite so info-dumpy, but at the same time, it’s hard to avoid that in an introductory session.

The trio explained that they were emissaries from the Seelie Court, tasked with finding champions for an upcoming contest against the Unseelie. Their court, they said, brought happiness and prosperity to an area; the other one brought pain and misery. Whichever court won the contest would determine the fortune of the local lands for the next seven years, but the nobles needed mortals to compete—hence the recruitment of champions. In exchange, the champions would see wonders, be given gifts, and would know that their actions turned the luck of everyone around them.

Joan agreed immediately. Derek hesitated until he was sure that someone would take care of his father while he was off on the adventure. Odette was the last to decide; while she was thinking about it, she noticed that her brother (and Joan’s boyfriend) Travis had left her a message asking where Joan was. When she phoned him back, he told her that it was a mistake, that Joan was with him, and that he was going to come over to Odette’s place.

I think everyone decided at that point that Travis had been found by the Unseelie Court, and was either in danger or had been persuaded by them to join their team of champions.

In any case, Odette finally decided to join, but wanted to be assured that they could go back to find Travis once the three had gone through whatever formal induction ceremony they were supposed to. The Seelie emissaries agreed readily, then ushered them off into the Otherworld through a magical portal.

In the forest-like realm of the Seelie Court, each character was allowed to choose a patron from among the nobles of the court. Joan chose The Piper, a forest trickster who granted powers involving beasts and mischief. Derek chose Mother Coal, whose gifts are sanctuary, healing, and imbuing objects with emotion. Odette nearly followed the Blue Maiden, embodiment of ice and sorrow, but backed away to choose Father Stone—with powers of storms and mountains—instead.

The NPCs used the fact that Odette was an injured dancer to encourage her towards her eventual patron. While it wasn’t initially clear why a mountain fae could make her a better dancer, the nimble goat-legs of Father Stone’s representative may have made that clearer. I think she’s still suspicious, though.

While the evening was fun and I think the players enjoyed it, it was still a bit GM-heavy in terms of how we used our time. I’m hoping that the next session will give people more of a chance to take the reins, have their characters interact with each other more, and generally be active.

2014-03-17 19.47.44

Mar 102014
 

Nat and Sebastian arrived at Joshua’s house last Saturday (March 8th) and collectively we found we were in peaceful possession of a veritable ocean beer. This provided an ideal occasion upon which  to embark upon an rash and unplanned raid on Pirates! by Michaël Janod.

Pirates!, a free tabletop rpg inspired by the eponymous movie by Polanski. It’s a funny and lighthearted game that runs almost on its own, the game master doesn’t have a lot to do while the players perform all sort of foolishness, smiling from ear to ear

Looking at the diagram you see that the game absolutely wants you to roll! Almost everything leads to rolling more and more, this is what make the game going on(*). A successful roll means colourful actions (everybody loves them) and rewards, in terms of treasure points and possibly luck. A failure means epic fails (everybody loves them too) and possible loss of luck. Both are meant to give personal and social gratification.

I had long hesitated to play because I found it hard to believe that the GM had so little responsibility to make a story happen. But it is true.  The little rules booklet, happily contains “an adventure story” that one can use to a re-assuring crutch (peg leg?) to get things started.  But it only takes a few minutes of play to realize its unnecessary.  I wouldn’t say this game facilitates emergent narrative so much as emergent ludicrousity(sic). It most definitely achieves what it sets out to do, capturing the tone and colour of the Polanski movie of the same name.

To learn the rules we started with a dramatic reading of the booklet (since all rules are provided in character). As amusing as this was it got old soon and we switched to me just bringing the players through character creation … at some point that simply devolved straight into the adventure.  We used one of the provided scnario “The Pirate King”.  The best action occurred in the Port El Perfido where the pirates tried to stage a prison break to rescue Jack Pumpkin – the holder of the secret treature map. One pirate attempted to infiltrate the fortress by “swinging” over the ramparts. We pictured a Wile E. Coyote style catapult launch from a bent over palm tree.  The failed roll clearly indicated that he had splattered himself against the fortress walls. Meanwhile the other player thought to stake out the execution grounds, hoping to prolong the Jack Pumpkin’s life by blowing up the gallows.  His failed “devastate”  roll killed 4 important townsfolk and won him his own death sentence which put right in prison with Pumpkin.   Meanwhile the other pirate successfully ‘teased’ a scullery made into switching clothes with him allowing him to infiltrate the prison… he was stuck drag for the rest of the game which turned out to be of great assistance avoiding the ire of Big Melinda and her swarthy crew of lady-pirates later on.

 

 Posted by at 1:24 pm
Mar 062014
 

The ‘Hali-fatality’ campaign continued at Games People Play tonight.  Present: Joshua, Nat, Cater, and Alissa; regrets: Sebastian.

I really felt like tonight was a break through in terms of fun and excitement at the table. The stories started to develop.  Characters took off and crisis points started to bloom. In many ways I was less prepared than before but committed to really connecting with my NPCs and playing them for real on a moment by moment basis.  The players equally started to show me what their characters were like in a crisis and their humanity started to peek through.

Stephen Demoine

Play began with Stephen Demoine – Emily is at his apartment again. More distraught than ever as she relates a bizarre event during her data-gathering dive this morning. While in the depths of some pretty horrific shit in Tufts Cove out by the power plant, and significant depth she came face to face with a powerfully built naked mad, swimming freely in the frigid winter waters. after some awkward attempts to be soothing Stephen convinces her to get some sleep.  No sooner has she does so then Kyoteh starts fiending for her breath.  He want’s ‘just a little. She’s asleep and wont know. Stephen can’t allow this and agrees to take Kyoteh out into the city to stalk some victims.  They set up watch on South Park street and start following some drunken frat boys deeper into the South End through bad luck it takes some time before Stephen finds an ideal moment to attack.  Kyoteh’s first ‘hold’ attempt fails on the bro, sending him running in panic. Stephen deftly positions himself to trip the boy as he passes him and send him tumbling.  Kyoteh is then ordered/permitted to ‘feed’ doing his power in lethal damage against him.  This makes the punk pass out and Stephen feels obliged to call 911 for fear he’ll aspirate and die before waking up.

“911 what is your emergency”

The ensuing conversation becomes the first of several awkward calls to emergency services. Thinking fast, Stephen lies about his name and address and the circumstances of the injuries before cutting off the call and high tailing it.  Narrowly missing running into the first responders. Three boys end up in the drunk tank that night telling crazy stories about a night-stalking devil.

Tasha Garien

Back at the station, Tasha has to browbeat the Officer in Charge into releasing Simon Kim into her custody so she can take him for an emergency psych assessment in the hospital. She’s forced to comandeer her partner Jeremy and also the reluctant Vernon as security support since the suspect will need to be guarded at the hospital. At the hospital Annabel admits that although Simon is telling crazy stories of having been “possessed”, she doesn’t actually think he’s crazy.  She wants to keep him out of police custody in order to learn more.  Tasha wants Simon out of the Chief’s hands for as long as possible so they agree that by Annabel will not medically clear him for release.  Simon goes to sleep.  Vernon defects. Jeremy stands guard.  Tasha decides that this would be a good time to deal with the demon contained in her badge. He’s not ready to give up much about his agenda, demanding to be bound and offering to hand her the answer to Karla Strang’s murder. Tasha is too prudent to accept such an offer and puts him on hold.  While grabbing a couple hours of sleep the demon makes an attempt to break the contain, and against all the odds fails!

Vincent King

Vincent is in a bind. He’s summoned Wimpi into a fine antique bottle as a way of showing off to Sasheen, who so desperately wanted to see a demon. However the shock to her system of seeing sorcery in action put her into shock. Vincent scrambles to giver her first aid but she seems to be having a heart attack. (Two failures on an untrained first aid roll). He can either call 911 or try sorcery…

‘911 what is your emergency’

At least Vincent doesn’t need to lie about his name or location but while on the phone with dispatch he makes himself a meal for two, eats from both plates, and hides his recently acquired modified firearm. EHS is perfectly professional and determine that a pre-exisiting heart condition is threatening Sasheen’s life. Vince is invited to ride along. He opts to bring Wimpi in a bottle with him. Interesting.

Stephen Demoine

Kyoteh is now fat and happy and Stephen is relatively certain he hasn’t directly killed anyone tonight. Time to meet Kyla again. She said she’d wanted to see him again to discuss the book.  The book she says ‘called for him’. They meet at McDonalds on Spring Garden Road. The conversation quickly turns to Sorcery.  Kyla suspects.  She tells him she’s kept all mention of the Sorcerous book and the link to Stephen out of her report but in return she wants him to tell her a little about ‘what’s really going on’.  Stephen leads her outside and they walk along the dark side of the locked public gardens.  He explains his discovery of and mind shattering encounter with the demonic world and his summoning and binding of a demon. She wants to see it. He orders Kyoteh to appear. He refuses. He punishes and orders again.  Again Kyoteh disobeys.  (Binding contract favoured Kyoteh by 2).  Finally Stephen punishes Kyoteh down to 1 pt.  By this time Kyla is suspecting that she’s dealing with a delusional man.  But on the third try a severely weakened Kyoteh manifests as the haunting black spectre with burning blue eyes.  Kyla is reasonably disturbed and screams make him go…  Kyoteh rebels again but is successfully forced to comply.  Now Kyla has tons of questions and accusations.  She quickly deduces that this demon is responsible for the asphyxiated corpse on her examination table. She pegs Stephen as a twisted vigilante with delusions of grandeur. Finally she gives him the original book and leaves.  Stephen glances at it warily suspecting it might be a demon itself as he hobbles away Westward toward home.

Vincent, Stephen, Tasha et al

Enroute to the hospital, on board the ambulance Wimpi decides to make a break for it. With shattering success he burst out of his bottle manifesting as a full size passing demon in the shape of a 17th century able-bodied alcoholic seaman. This is too much of a shock for the EMT’s to handle and the ambulance drives off the road directly into the public garden,  just a few hundred meters from where Stephen and Kyla had been talking.  The van rolls, sending everyone flying bu miraculously no one is injured except for Wimpi himself who takes a light concussion.  The EMTs pile out of the ambulance, extricate and Sasheen while calling for a second ambulance.  They briefly question Vincent about what the fuck just happened and his answers do the exact opposite of what he hopes and instead of allaying their fears provokes them into calling police.

“911 what is your emergency…!”

“Some wise guy hijacked our ambulance and caused a nearly fatal accident… his accomplice appears to be armed with a… a sword or some kind of cutlass.!!

“Stay where you are help is on the way…”

Before police arrive, Stephen, hearing the noise and seeing the crash hobbles back, compelled or drawn to the crisis.  Upon arrival he instantly recognizes Wimpi as a demon and by deduction quickly determines that Vincent must be a sorcerer. Acting on a noble impulse he attempts to banish Wimpy. This doesn’t work. Wimpy response in rage and stabs Stephen deeply in the guts with his cutlass. Stephen drops and Wimpy disappears into the gardens.

Police arrive. Including Tasha who was wakened by Jeremy when the first general calls for back up started coming over the radio. ( The weirdness of the reports tweaked Jeremy intuitively that he should alert her. ) She quickly recognizes the stabbing victim as a Sorcerer as his clothes pulled back reveal his unnatural scarring.  She then turns her attention to the ambulance hi-jacker who’s been taken into custody.  Police searching his person found a severed human toe in his possession.  His explanations send Petrys into a ringing frenzy.

At this moment, sensing the presence of two sorcerers. Sss, the demon in Tasha’s badge starts reaching out.  He makes a fresh attempt to breach the containment, and he badge explodes into shrapnel.  Bind me! he hisses into the ears of Vincent.

No.

Sss turns to the unconscious (coma?) form of Stephen and approaches him in a dream.  Stephen readily agrees and snap-shot binds him.  Two victories favour the demon.

As everyone involved is debriefed, taken to cells, or hospital respectively Tasha is finally dismissed from emergency duty.  Before she decides where to go next she gets a text (its 3am) from Kyla Mardine.

‘Tasha, I need to talk to you’

 Posted by at 10:48 pm