Friday, January 30, 2009

And You Will Live in Terror

You're probably wondering what the hell is that "Blood!" that I list in the reading list in the right. In short: Blood! is a modern day horror rpg that simulates 80's schlock horror and all it's bombastic excesses. It's published by the good people at Postmortem Studios. 
I don't remember how I first discovered the Blood! RPG. It was probably surfing one of those PDF stores for new esoteric games. With a name like Blood!, I probably spotted it right out of the list of shitty D20 supplements that liter those websites. The cover convinced me that I had to buy it. I went on to buy every single sourcebook for the game, including a Runequest OGL thingy which I had no use for because I don't own Runequest.  I read the whole thing, even though there's nothing I hate more than reading off of my sluggish labtop. Then I put it away ( digitally) for a few months.

I figure that Blood! is a perfect game to in which to run simple one-shots. The author of the book says on many occasions that it's more than likely that the character advancement rules will not be used at all.

Currently the only players I have available to me are a bunch of fucking assholes (and I love them all) that don't care anything about RPGs, miniature gaming, or good storytelling. They are the type of guys that are willing to play RPGs when they don't have absolutely anything else to do. A long term multigenerational story set in a detailed world seems more fantastical than Tolkieen's Middle Earth itself. 

A hyperviolent session of Blood!, on the other hand, will probably fit the bill here.

Perhaps the only good thing about this shitty situation is that a group that doesn't care about RPGs won't ask me "why not just play Call of Cthulhu?" Some seasoned gamers I know aren't quite willing to spend their limited gaming time on indy games unknown by everybody in their FLGS.   

More than likely, the guys I know will tell me to fuck off. Maybe, just may be, a fast a furious (and gory) game of Blood! can make them a bit interested in RPGs. 

P.S. I'll detail the adventure on future posts. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

[Games that will never be] Black Company Campaign Setting by Green Ronin

"Games that will never be" is a series of very, very short essays I'll blog every once in a while. In it I will detail many of the role playing campaign ideas I played with at one time or the other, but eventually abandoned due to time constraints or lack of commitment.

The Black Company Campaign Setting

The Black Company Campaign Setting was published by Green Ronin for the D20 System. It's based on Glen Cook's popular fantasy series about an army of mercenaries during the waning years of their existence. The novels are grim and gritty affairs were soldiers live and die for dubious reasons. A friend described the series with the following analogy, "if Lord of the Rings is World War II, then The Black Company is Vietnam."
I had two big problems with the setting. First, it was a tough sell to my group. None of my players have even heard about the Black Company. To them it's just another hacked fantasy setting. I could never sell them on the "thing" with the names ( Goblin, One-Eye, Tom-Tom, Croacker, ect); or why is the world better than the Forgotten Realms or Ravenloft; and most importantly, why use use the tired-old D20 System when we could use the awesome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.
On my end, I could never get around how to portray the story that's faithful to the source material. I felt that just having the characters walking around as adventurers was a disservice to the campaign world because it ignores the soul of the setting: the company. I was afraid the storyline could degenerate into a railroaded, series of missions if the players were just footsoldiers in the company.
The best way to play the game, in my opinion, was to run a 17+ player group. The novels are about a mercenary army, so why not get an army of players to fill up it's rank. Ok, just ignore the organizational pandemonium that would be scheduling a game with 17 people with different schedules. Furthermore, lets also assume that those 17 players don't mind waiting for their turn in 3 hour long combat encounters. A huge group will simulate the platoon experience perfectly: friendships are forged, reputations are made, and "good guys" are lost. One of the players is made commanding officer: it's up to him to send the others into combat and maybe certain death. What would he do if the other characters lost faith in him? How do the other characters deal with a bad commanding officer?

A big part of each session will go towards inter-character relationship building. Running this type of game would be similar to running a Minds Eye Theater Live action game. The GM would just lurk in the background while the players go around the table politicking. Then, every once in a while, a mission will pop up for a group of players to head out and eliminate those that stand against the company.

It would be kind of hard to find 17 people to game with, so the idea was scratched.
Yesterday I stumbled into a post about Entourage gaming in Sham's Grog 'n Blog ( a much better blog than this one!). It got me thinking about my aborted Black Company game. The basic idea behind entourage gaming could easily be applied to a BC campaign. Entourage gaming calls the creation of a stable of characters for a player to develop during the campaign. A player could create three different characters ( Joker, Deafblind, and Stray Cat if he was to follow BC naming conversions). If five players joined, the campaign would have a pool of 15 characters. The gamemaster then divides the group into three different groups involved with different misadventures. This way the characters could explore the company from different perspectives. It would also give the story a grander scale as the different characters developed individual stories within the game world.
I would use Paizo's Pathfinder, because, to be quite frank, that's the only way to experience Dungeons and Dragons.
To run a Black Company D20 Game I only need:

1.Pathfinder Core Rules
2.A shitload of dice.
3. The Black Company Campaign Setting.
4.17 + players that are patient, do not desire to be in the spot light at all, and prefer to roleplay in MET fashion in a tabletop game rather than engaging in fast paced combat.
File:The Black Company.jpg

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Introduction...what the hell is this all about?

My Roleplaying History, a short summary.

I was introduced to Role Playing Games in a lunch line in middle school. I was talking to a friend about video games when he mentioned this weird sort of game that was like a boardgame without a board, just the dice. This game's name was Rifts. Intrigued, I asked him to bring it to school. I had never seen any book like it. It's not hard to imagine that a chill that ran down my spine when I saw that diabolical cover by Keith Parkinson. This off-beat grey colored tome contained a story of a post-apocalyptic world governed by magic, high technology, and the rules to play within that world. A few weeks later my friend and I started playing free-form game sessions during lunch before getting ambitious and starting a full game. But to be quite frank: I became totally hooked on RPGs that very first day I saw the Rifts rulebook.

We played regularly during middle school and high school.  Every once in a while I faintly remember fragments of different sessions I participated in.  The 3rd Edition of the Dungeons and Dragons game came out shortly before our first year of college. My friend, Juan, Dungeon Mastered an epic D&D game that lasted two years. The story, which he honestly refered to as "Beowulf," was a blatant ripoff of the anglo-saxon epic. Another player and I started out as two heroes defending our tribe from an enemy clan called Black Moon. After many battles we found out that the Black Moon clan was being manipulated by a powerful wizard called Kortren. After defeating the Black Moon we set out to find this exact revenge on the wizard for his crimes. Other players joined, eventually we became a small army of heroes fighting our way to Kortren. At one point our group had 13 members. Juan decided to move his homebrew game to the Forgotten Realms setting. We caught up to Kortren in a fortress ocuppied by demons. We defeated him at the cost of half of our adventuring party.  We went on other quests after the killed him. A year after his demise we decided to finish the game with the end of the third story arc. This game took place 8 years ago and time only makes it's memories sweeter. 
After "The Kortren Saga" I gamemastered a D20 Call of Cthulhu game titled "Those Who Hunt the Darkness" (which I ripped off a Barbara Hambly novel). I was totally unfamiliar with the Cthulhu Mythos, even going as far as skipping the eponymous story included in the rulebook. The only thing I knew about Lovecraft and his writtings was that one of his mayor themes was a thing someone called "cosmic nihilism." I decided to write a roleplay campaign around my interpretation of this concept. This D20 campaign ended up being one of the most idiosyncratic things I've ever produced. The game related the story of the Barbarosa family, whose patriarchs made a pact with a god to obtain immortality. The players became involved with the family while tracking a serial killer that was terrorizing the Boston area. The game involved a cult, an dubious group of monster hunters, black magic, distortions in the time and space. My goal during the game was to question the player's ideas of the afterlife during a moment when I questioned my own. The game ran for 6 sessions and it's the best fiction I've ever written.

After Cthulhu we the remants of our group played different game systems. I moved to the United States in 2006 to finish a bacheleors degree in Communications. I joined a fraternity on my first semester and got in a relationship on my second year in the University of North Florida. There was other stuff to do other than RPGs, so I put the hobby in the backburner ( as Rifts creator Kevin Simbieda often says) for those 2 years. I graduated college and went back to my family's new home in the small town of Waycross, Georgia. I really have the desire to return to the RPG hobby, but I don't have a group and the only people I can play with are a 2 hour drive away. 

This will hopefully be a blog about my return to the RPG hobby.