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Fall Gaming Wrapup

Posted by Nathan P. on December 20, 2008

So here’s what I’ve been up to all fall.

Darkpages

Most of September and October were taken up with playing the ashcan of Darkpages with my Tuesday group. As has been documented here (check out the darkpages Category) we made a stable of characters and played two issues in our custom imprint, Pocket City.

I think the main feedback for Jared (which I’ll get around to sending you sometime, duder) is that the GM is still on a non-level field with the players in terms of having tools to impact the fiction. Over time, the characters outstrip the imprint in terms of having applicable advances to various conflicts (b/c the characters pretty much always have access to all of their stats, and unless every conflict is framed towards imprint things with advances on them, the characters have a creeping advantage over time that renders the GMs efforts to smack them around rather difficult).

The rest of the game is pure sexy, by the by.

GURPS FBI

I made a new character for the FBI/occult investigation game that occurs every so often on Thursday nights. My last character voluntarily sacrificed himself to greebly aliens which absorbed him into their gestalt conciousness, so I had a new guy hit the ground for this story arc. Caleb, a good ol’ boy from downhome Texas, suffering just a mite of PTSD from his two tours in Iraq – oh yeh, also with clairsentiance powers. He got his hand maimed by an undead horse possessed by an alien grub. And isn’t really on track to get any better with his issues stemming from his war experience. He’s actually been one of my least-like-me characters, and I’ve been enjoying playing him a lot, though he didn’t have a lot of screen time (he’s more of a scout/support kind of guy on the team).

Agon

As a palette-cleanser for all these hippy emo story games we play on Tuesday, we got our greek on throughout November. I don’t know if you know this, but Agon is a great game! I ran the Temple of Hera scenario for three intrepid heros, and it was a really fun time. We were all really blown away with the elegance of the system – there are really no wasteful bits to anything in the game. Anyway, the heroes ended up mopping up the Satyrs at the end of the quest, as I blew my wad of Strife on the witch character in the middle (who, to my credit, did almost take out one of the characters and seriously threatened all three of them – if I had remembered to use her Fear power, it would have gone differently!)

I’m looking forwards to running some Agon at conventions and such in the near future, and we’re keeping these characters to go on another quest sometime in the spring.

Vampire: The Requiem

Next up on the plate for Tuesdays: a game of the nWoD Vampire. My buddy Jesse has been champing at the bit to make this happen for a while, and all of us have, uh, fond memories of how poorly our early experiences with Vampire went to cleanse out of our gamer karma. The game is set in Baltimore, and at the end of the first session (which will be last until after the holidays) our characters were already in solid “the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” territory.

Oh! Also, I think the rules are good! So, almost the first thing my character did in the game was fail a Morality roll while feeding, go into a frenzy, and rip some poor dude apart in an alley because he couldn’t control his hunger. And I had made a point of saying that he was fairly young, still in denial about a lot of this Vampire stuff, and all that bullshit….and then the system of the game kicked in, basically shoving all of that into my guys face and making him face the nature of what he is. He’s already changing in really interesting ways, due both to that and his interactions with the other two characters, and it’s shaping up to be a rockin’ game.

Hunter: The Vigil

One of the triggers for the Vampire game is that I’ve been dying to run some of the nWoD Hunter since I got it. I always really dug the original Hunter, and the new one basically throws out all the crud I wasn’t really down with and focuses right on the gritty struggle-against-impossible-odds kind of themes that I’m into. So, I’m going to be running that for the Thursday group, which will be a challenge, but I think a good one. There’s six players, and it’s a group that isn’t used to changing systems between games (not that they can’t or are unwilling, it’s just going to be a longer learning curve than I’m used to, I think).

I’m really pumped about it, though. We finished characters before taking this holiday hiatus, and the cell is really, really interesting! If you know anything about the nWoD, you’ll be familier with the Virtue and Vice system (basically, every character has a Virtue and Vice, with the Virtue being difficult to uphold but rewarded handsomely when you do, and the Vice easy to give in to in order for a small benny). Of the 6 characters, they are evenly split on Vice – three have Wrath and three have Pride. But! All six of them, independently from each other, chose a different Virtue! We have every Virture except (of course) Prudence represented. I think it’s going to go terribly, terribly well.

And the other cool thing is that Jesse and I are doing a shared world thing for the two games. They’re both set in Baltimore at the same time, and while they won’t be directly interacting with one another, we plan to bring in background details, news, locations and so on from one game to the other. So that should be neat.

Publishing

Well, I finally got the PDF of Annalise out. Response has been good! I’m finally in a place where I can get started on the actual print run, so I hope to have that going fairly soon. Also, there’s another really exciting development with Annalise, but it’s still on the DL for now. Stay tuned.

Design

Secret project is going well. Non-secret-but-not-enough-there-to-talk-about project is on hold for now. Some notes have been scribbled for other things. I hope to be more design-y in the spring. Priorities, y’know?

So I feel like I’m ending the year strong. Who knows what the future will hold!

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Posted in Actual Play, Annalise, darkpages, Non-RPG Gaming, Playtesting | Leave a Comment »

Darkpages: Imprint Characters

Posted by Nathan P. on November 8, 2008

The Falls is the classy, well-bred part of town. Old money and nouveau riche alike mingle in the faux-villas and modern mansions scattered along the low foothills surrounding the city. Named for the spectacular waterfall that is the pride and joy of the cities tourism board, the Falls contains the most noble of ambitions and the darkest of human desires.

Signature Character: Bird of Prey
Concept: Beast
Archetype: Fool
Description: Mild-mannered private eye Gary Greene by day, Bird of Prey emerges after dark in order to hunt down the crooks, criminals and weirdos that harass and terrorize the good people of Pocket City. Both Greene and Bird of Prey share an intense commitment to the letter of the law, but where Greene is all about results, Bird of Prey is all about the chase.

Signature Character: Dr. Antonio Hodgkins
Concept: Adept
Archetype: Magician
Description: Hodgkins is both a medical doctor, and the boss of a thriving industrial empire that employs half of Pocket City. Now that his company is self-sufficient after years of hard work and elbow grease, Hodgkins has turned over day-to-day affairs to his son Anthony and now spends most of his time tinkering in his workshop on strange and arcane devices. He believes that it requires only the right application of science to make anything happen – even life. While he has yet to make a dead heart beat or a severed limb twitch, he has perfected the creation of automatons that eerily imitate the living to a substantial degree. The greatest of his creations now inhabits Pocket City’s highest office, to Hodgkins delight.

The Speakeasy
is the part of Pocket City that swings 24/7. Containing the posh downtown and entertainment district with the less wholesome red-light district and underground network of bootleggers and organized crime, the Speakeasy is where the action is.

Signature Character: Queer Johnny
Concept: Outsider
Archetype: Sun
Original Description: Nobody knows where Queer Johnny came from, but he arrived at the Jersey Club, the Speakeasys premiere underground club one night and decided to stay. His signature pink pinstripes are anything but subtle, but he instantly made such a reputation for himself of sheer brutality and violent effectiveness that he never, ever gets any guff for his sexual proclivities. Now the mob keeps him on retainer as an enforcer, and that combined with his constant flow of sexual conquests keep his temper in check – for now.

Now: After an obsessive chase after an enigmatic figure known only as The Collector, Queer Johnny has abandoned his former bosses. While the two biggest mob families battle for dominance, Johnny is shedding his mortal concerns and maybe trying to begin a rapprochement with his original Father. Maybe.

Signature Character: The Mean Green Machine
Concept: Vice Elemental
Archetype: Void
Description: Everyone knows the Mean Green Machine (affectionately referred to as “Greenie” by the drunk and simple). When he comes to a party, it’s a Party. When he stands up an event, it may as well never have happened. Wherever he goes, he leaves those around him with even more laughter, drinks, and good times – and all of the consequences that those generate. He’s never around for the consequences, though. In fact, nobody knows where or how to find him. The best you can hope for is put word out on the street that you want to see the Green Suit, and maybe he’ll show. Maybe.

The Wilderness is the part of the city the Tourism Board doesn’t advertise. Once an ambitious public works project, what was originally a planned neighborhood of broad streets, trees, parks and manmade streams has been abjectly neglected since the project was choked off by lack of funding and the tragic death of its major proponent. These days, it’s the home of vagrants, drifters, and small pockets of grim citizens determined to maintain their homes against all odds.

Signature Character: Freddy “The Shark” Grumelli
Concept: Vigilante
Archetype: Wheel
Description: Freddy came to this crummy town with 10 cents in his pocket and a knife in his shoe. Within a few short years, he rose to the top of the crime world on his own terms, sent money back to Italy, and brought his brothers and cousins over to help him run things. Within a few years after that, nobody dared cross the Grumelli’s, though Freddy magnanimously allows a couple of other families to operate the small stuff. Now he lives in a private mansion obscured by the overgrown trees of the Wilderness, pulling the strings of both the illegitimate and legal operations of Pocket City. He’s worked hard to get everything just the way he wants it, and he won’t let anyone disrupt his perpetual-money-machine.

Signature Character: Justine Franklin
Concept: Vigilante
Archetype: Hermit
Description: Justine and her new husband, Jack, were some of the first people to move to the community that would later become the Wilderness. As the money dried up, the trees began to overgrow their medians, and the rest of the city silently turned away, she decided that she was not going to abandon the life they had so recently began. With her determination binding them together, a small group of citizens refused to quit their cul-de-sac and still continue living as normal lives as they can manage. What they don’t know is that Justine, fueled by her vow, leaves Jack’s side at night to patrol her neighborhood, keeping the mad and the criminal at bay with fists, ropes and the occasional garbage bag.

The Metropolis
is the beating heart of civic life in Pocket City. All of the public administration buildings and most of the non-entertainment-industry employers are located in the Metropolis, and it’s honking taxis and one shining skyscraper hint at the ambitions of the cities leaders to grow from a few square blocks to a true metropolis to rival any on the East or West coast.

Signature Character: Mayor Maxine Maxwell
Concept: Construct
Archetype: Moon
Description: Mayor Maxwell came from nowhere to win the Mayoral race after the death of Leonard Weston, the eight-term mayor that oversaw Pocket Cities transition from backwater to modern progressive city. A local girl who went away to an Ivy League school back East, she returned with an apparent love for her place of birth and a zeal for progress. What the city doesn’t know is that it’s all a sham. Maxine Maxwell is a automaton, a creature of steel and false flesh created by Dr. Hodgkins in order to ensure that the agenda of Pocket City would always coincide with his own. While Maxwell has her own consciousness, it is focused almost exclusively on governance, with only occasional flashes of curiosity that only reveal more questions. Like why she has to dispose of all of her lovers after they experience her unreal flesh.

Signature Character: Lance Grayson, Reporter (Statted up as he was actually involved in the Collector/Queer Johnny series)

Concept: Vampire

Domination 5
I Know About You +1
Give Me The Story +0

Hunger 4
Can’t Keep Me Away +1
You Must Adore Me +1

Preternatural 3
Right Place, Right Time +0
Fade Away +1

Transformation 0

Archetype: Warrior 7
Nemesis: Queer Johnny +5
Nemesis: The Collector +5
Pain 3
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Description: If it’s news, Lance Grayson is there. A well-educated son of a prosperous family, Grayson got into the reporting biz right out of school and his natural talent and tenacious personality drove him right to the top. With a true love for Pocket City and an insatiable hunger for the scoop, Grayson isn’t afraid to venture into the darkest dens of iniquity or the most hallowed halls of civic virtue to find the truth. What feeds this passion? The respect and adoration of others, both the citizens who open the paper just to read his words, and the jealousy of his peers, few of whom are able to even approach his track record in reporting. Those few times that he gets scooped, he goes into such despondent depressions that he has to be coaxed out by his editor, who swears that “this is last time I’m going to molly-coddle you, Grayson.” He’s said that three or four times now. At the moment, things are pretty quiet in Pocket City, and Lance is on the prowl for a new story.

Posted in Actual Play, darkpages, Playtesting | Leave a Comment »

Darkpages: Our Heroes

Posted by Nathan P. on October 27, 2008

We’re playing two concurrent series set in Pocket City. In each one, one of the players has a protagonist character, and then we developed a primary antagonist character for the other player to play. I run the imprint, imprint characters, other antagonists, and so on.

One series is a pretty dark, internal-looking story that is about the struggle between a master thief/obsessive collector of things, and the mob enforcer/fallen angel who is determined not to let hiim get away.

The Collector
Protagonist, played by Can
Incarnation: Premier
Concept: Ghost
Archetype: Moon 4
Motifs & Powers:
Dread 2. Overlooked +1
Ectoplasm 5. Incorporeality +1, Ghost Key +1, Artistic Reproduction +2
Possession 0.
Relentless 5. Eidectic Memory +1, Eminent Domain +1
Bonds:
Curtis Smithson +5. Museum Curator. Metropolis.
Vicky Garrett +3. Taken-in child. Wilderness.
Vince Taglioni +2. Taglioni family underboss. Speakeasy. 1 Pain
Codes:
Issue: I will never pass up the opportunity to collect.
Drive: I will never reveal my Domain.
Obligation: I will never let Vicky Down.
Shadow: Does not know that he’s dead.
Advances:
1 – +1 to Artistic Reproduction

Queer Johnny

Antagonist to The Collector, played by Jesse

Incarnation: Premier
Concept: Outsider
Archetype: Sun 6
Motifs & Powers:
Aura 1. The Pink Suit +2
Birthright 4. Breaks Bones +1. Tough Skin +1.
Freedom 4. Break Down The Door +0. Get Out of Jail +0.
Insight 3. Ear To His Street +0. See into the hearts of men +2.
Nemesis:
The Collector +7. The Wilderness.
Vince Taglioni +4. Taglioni family underboss. Speakeasy.
Codes:
Issue: Never sleeps alone.
Drive: I will climb to the top.
Obligation: No crime in my neighborhood.
Advances:
1 – +1 See into the hearts of men
2 – +1 See into the hearts of men
The other series is a shorter one (we’ve played one issue, and there’s probably only one more issue’s worth of stuff to finish) that concerns a freakish outcast who’s determined to bring down the corrupt D.A. of Pocket City, and the PI/vigilante crimefighter who obeys the letter of the law to it’s fullest extent, and wants to bring in this creature that operates outside of the law.

The Geek
Protagonist, played by Jesse
Incarnation: Premier
Concept: Beast
Archetype: Warrior 7
Motifs & Powers:
Awareness 2. Smells if you are lying +0
Destruction 4. The Maw +0, Glare of the Bird +0, Corrosive Bile +0
Instinct 3. Stalk in Silence +0, Control Vermin +1
Survival 3. Everything is Food +1, Misdirect the chaser +0
Bonds:
Brother Patrick +5, Priest at the only church in the Wilderness. (4 Pain)
Mary Temperance Paige +4, closing librarian at the Falls Public Library
Codes:
Issue: Never forget that I am human.
Drive: Destroy the corrupt DA Hayden Fairchild.
Obligation: Never feed from the innocent.
Shadow: I am truly prey.
Advances:
1 advance to spend
1 – +1 Corrosive Bile

Bird of Prey
Antagonist, played by Can
Incarnation: Premier
Concept: Beast
Archetype: Fool 5
Motifs & Powers:
Awareness 4. Tastes your fear +1, Creature of the Night +2
Destruction 2. Paralyzing Glare +1
Instinct 4. Patient Hunter Gets The Prey +1, Relentless Chase +0
Survival 2. Nine Lives +1
Nemesis:
The Geek +6
Barry J. Hutchins, the nosy neighbor +4 (1 Pain)
Codes:
Issue: I will be a good citizen.
Drive: I will uphold the law.
Obligation: I will hunt the guilty.
Shadow: I break the law to serve the law.

Advances:
+1 to Creature of the Night

The characters are great. I don’t think I can do them justice in this medium – suffice it to say, they are universally engaging, fun to interact with, and just right for the genre. We’ve dug much more into the Collector/Queer Johnny story, and it’s been a really rewarding exploration of what makes these two guys tick. The Geek/Bird of Prey is a little more pulpy, and we’re having a lot of fun contrasting the two Beasts that approach the same basic questions from completely opposite sides.

Next up: other imprint characters!

Posted in Actual Play, darkpages | Leave a Comment »

Darkpages: Pocket City

Posted by Nathan P. on October 19, 2008

Pocket City is the imprint that my group created for Darkpages, and which we’ve been playing in since August.

Pocket City. A thriving midwestern metropolis nestled in the crotch of two small mountain ranges, Pocket City is a crossroads for the best and worst that the prohibition era has to offer. Bootleggers and gangsters mix with journalists, society girls and rising film stars in the red-light district known, with a wink and nod, as the Speakeasy. On the other side of the city, the local government constantly struggles to attract investment, rise the standard of living and keep the mobs happy – a bustling Metropolis of good intentions and easy solutions. The two are separated by the Wilderness, the remains of an ambitious urban beautification project gone bad, containing the castoffs of society, vagrants, drifters, and things even darker and more sinister. Encompassing them all is the Falls, named for a beautiful waterfall that feeds the small river dividing the city. The Falls is the home of the elite, the progressive and modern upper-middle class feeding off of the efforts and sacrifices of their unknowing subjects.

Pocket City is an imprint for Darkpages. It is inspired by the fictionalized Prohibition era, Film Noir, gritty detective stories and 20s pulp action stories and comics.

Spaces

The Spaces in Pocket City are both literal neighborhoods, and general themes. There are other areas of the city, but most action occurs in one of the Spaces. Other areas and sub-neighborhoods are as yet undefined.

The Falls is the classy, well-bred part of town. Old money and nouveau-riche alike mingle in the faux-villas and modern mansions scattered along the low foothills surrounding the city. Named for the spectacular waterfall that is the pride and joy of the city’s tourism board, the Falls contains the most noble of ambitions and the darkest of human desires.

The Speakeasy is the part of Pocket City that swings 24/7. Combining the posh downtown and entertainment district with the less wholesome red-light district and underground network of bootleggers and organized crime, the Speakeasy is where the action is.

The Wilderness is the part of the city the Tourism Board doesn’t advertise. Once an ambitious public works project, what was originally a planned neighborhood of broad streets, trees, parks and manmade streams has been abjectly neglected since the project was choked off by lack of funding and the tragic death of its major proponent. These days, it’s the home of vagrants, drifters, and small pockets of grim citizens determined to maintain their homes against all odds.

The Metropolis is the beating heart of civic life in Pocket City. All of the public administration buildings and most of the non-entertainment-industry employers are located in the Metropolis, and its honking taxis and one shining skyscraper hint at the ambitions of the city’s leaders to grow from a few square blocks to a true metropolis to rival any on the East or West coast.

Posted in Actual Play, darkpages | Leave a Comment »

darkpages – Mrs Might-Have-Been

Posted by Nathan P. on July 27, 2007

She has no face anymore. She did, once, and it was a pretty face. But now?

She remembers so clearly when Tony came home, that one day. Came home and literally dropped his breifcase in shock, staring at her in the kitchen.

“Martha?” he had asked, incredulously. “What the hell are you doing here? I haven’t seen you in….my wife must be home right now…how did you get in?”

And she just opened her mouth soundlessly, no words coming, seeing the look in his eye that she hadn’t seen since…well, since they got married, she has to admit. That look of desire, and of a little bit of fear, but the fear feeding the desire.

“Who’s Martha?” she has asked him, holding the cucumber she had been slicing, making a little quizzical motion with it.

Over the course of the conversation she came to realize that he couldn’t see her anymore.

Now she can’t go down the street without causing a double-take every step, a half-asked question, a raised hand from a stranger. She spends a lot of time alone. She would watch TV, but for that poor sad face half-reflected in the glass of the screen.

The face of the girl who decided not to throw her life away for the promise of love. The girl she might have been.

Posted in darkpages | Leave a Comment »