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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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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!

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

Shreyas Style

Posted by Nathan P. on December 17, 2008

My dick is bigger.

That is all.

(Seriously guys….wtf?)

Posted in Non-RPG Gaming | 5 Comments »

Who Goes There?

Posted by Nathan P. on October 19, 2008

So there’s this thing HALT. It stands for “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.” Those being things you shouldn’t be when yer gaming, cuz it can be not fun.

Interestingly enough, I think some of my best gaming has occured while I’ve been angry and/or lonely. Annalise probably wouldn’t have happened, for example.

So that’s a funny thing about me.

Posted in Annalise, Non-RPG Gaming, Personal | 1 Comment »

Catching Up 1

Posted by Nathan P. on August 19, 2008

So, over Gen Con, an interview I did went out into the podcastosphere. I’m listening to it myself now, I hope I don’t sound like a schlub. Also, I rant about art! Check it out at Voice of Free Planet X here. Jared’s great, and a great host.

And you should add the podcast to yer feed, anyway.

Posted in Annalise, Artistry, carry. a game about war., Mission, Non-RPG Gaming, Personal, Promo, Timestream | 1 Comment »

JiffyCon Pictures: Greenfield 08 (part 1)

Posted by Nathan P. on June 23, 2008

It’s that time again!

Day 1

I headed out to the home of Shreyas & Elizabeth on Friday to hang out and participate in the nacho party/fight scene watching and analysis. It was sweet to have a social event before the Con, and I got to meet new friends and catch up with old ones.

We took a walk around the grounds of the house, which were extremely pastoral and farmlike.


Rob Bohl talks about politics, while Shreyas pretends to care. Elizabeth takes cover!

Time for the Nacho party. Everything was delicious, especially the variety of herbal teas.

There were some….interesting decorations in the house. My favorite: the creepy pheasant!

Day 2

aka “The First Day of JiffyCon”

Following my usual plan, I showed up and wandered around and hugged people and waited to see which games were still available. This is the first JiffyCon that I haven’t run a game, and I think we had a good density of folks for the games that were being run. I played The Tale of the Fishermans Wife in the morning, and It’s Complicated in the afternoon. Both were technically playtests, but both are pretty solid and were very fun to play. I see myself playing a lot of Fishermans Wife as a short pickup game (it only takes an hour or so), and I want to play It’s Complicated straight, without any gonzo wierdness (like our sexually explicit Unicorns). Also, best quote of the con:

Don: So, Nathan, what are you playing this afternoon?

Me: I think I’m gonna play…um….It’s Complicated.

Rachel: (coming into the conversation) What game?

Don: It’s about relationships, I think…

Me: (in response to Rachel) It’s Complicated.

Rachel: Ok, cool. So, what’s it called?

Me: It’s Complicated.

Rachel: Yeh, but what is the title of the game?

(Me and Don laugh our asses off)

Maybe you had to be there, but it was really funny.

Anyway, for dinner we managed to make some sane divisions and break out into little groups, which was nice. I ate with Meg and Matt Wilson, and had a really nice time chillin and chattin

Right-left: Shreyas, Joshua, Brennan (hidden), a gentleman that I was not introduced too, and Kat playtest Brennan’s new game, How We Came to Live Here. I’m really excited about this one, and it apparently went well.

Don runs the Mouse Guard board game for Elliot, Lillith, Sebatian and Crispin (I think…..apologies if I got anyones name wrong, doting parents!). I think they won!

Evan dresses appropriately to run 1001 nights for Saif (sp?), Wilson and a lady that I didn’t get the chance to meet. Evan also won the “Best Dressed GM” award of the convention. More on the awards below.

Crispin and Lillith rock out playing the 1988 (?) Rocky and Bullwinkle adventure game with Tom, Emily and Eppy. I’m told that this game pretty much contains all of the hot shit game techniques we’ve “invented” in the last 10 years.

I love stealing from cartoons.

Shreyas and Elizabeth have an expressive conversation with Kat.

Meghan and Don have an in-depth (like, seriously in-depth) conversation about 4th Ed D&D. The humorous part of this picture is that they were trying to do “wacky poses”, but I took the picture after they thought I did. So it looks like they were posing for this, but it was actually part of their returning-to-the-convo motion. Hilarious!

And after that, we broke for dinner and, uh, post-dinner revelry. Which will be another post.

A short note about the awards: a close friend of the Greenfield folks recently passed, and they were running an open “tournament” to award GM and player superlatives. People donated to enter, and the donations are going to the family. Halfway through the convention, they announced that everyone was eligible to enter, and then they gave out prizes at the end of the day. They raised a good amount of money, which was great, and I actually was awarded the prize for “Best Description of Action” for my narration of how my possessed Fishermans Wife devoured the Fisherman at the end of our first game of The Tale of the Fishermans Wife. I also won a custom illustration by Vincent Baker! So I need to decide what I want to call that in for.

So, one more post with the rest of the con, coming up soon!

Posted in Conventions, Non-RPG Gaming, Personal, Playtesting | Leave a Comment »

Game Design Challenge Update

Posted by Nathan P. on June 17, 2008

I have a prize now, for the winner of my Game Design Challenge. I will buy you this shirt.

Shirt Image

Technically, the deadline is still midnite this coming friday. I already have one entry. If more people actually enter, I’ll extend the deadline a week, though. Just to be fair.

Posted in Non-RPG Gaming, Promo | 1 Comment »


Posted by Nathan P. on April 1, 2008

April Fools is, like, the lamest thing ever. Google usually gets me, and Jared has had some good ones, but other than those? Gah. Please stop.

In productive news, some things I’ve been thinking of posting about!

– First Quarter play report.

– Useful technique: three-stage character jam.

– How I run InSpectres.

– Empires of Glass.

And finally, new Annalise stuff soon! I hope!

Posted in Actual Play, Non-RPG Gaming | 2 Comments »

Commercial Gaming!

Posted by Nathan P. on March 29, 2008

I dunno if Dev shared this with anyone else, but I think it’s hilarious.

SG Dunkin

(via Dev)

Posted in Actual Play, Conventions, Non-RPG Gaming | 4 Comments »

JiffyCon Boston 08

Posted by Nathan P. on March 11, 2008

Wow, what a great time!

This my first time co-sponsoring an event (along with Dev) and it went pretty darn smoothly. We had a good attendance of 30+, including peeps from far-flung NYC and New Jersey (thanks for making the trip, yo!) as well as locals and many representative from Western Mass. We even had more people than games in our morning slot, and Dev got to run a playtest of his game The Dance and the Dawn. So it was, like, Boston designer playtest day, between that, my Annalise, and Jonathon’s Geiger Counter.

I facilitated a very solid playtest game of Annalise in the morning, and played Misspent Youth (again, a playtest) in the afternoon. I think Rob got some good feedback out of that game, so that’s a nice feeling.

And I saw friends and had a good solid chunk of social time! Shreyas and Elizabeth were wonderful houseguests, and it’s always exciting to see the friends I’ve made since getting into this fragment of the hobby. Thanks everyone for coming!

And, without further ado, the pictures:

Annalise JiffyCon Boston 1

Jonathon and Shreyas have introspective moments while playing Annalise. Prominently displayed is our third sponsor and official morning fuel of JiffyCon, Dunkin’ Donuts. In the background are Melissa, Kat and someone I can’t make out playing the Dance and the Dawn.

SotC @ JiffyCon Boston

Adam Flynn winds up for another knockout punch while running Spirit of the Century! for a full and (from what I was overhearing at the time) enthusiastic table.

Videographers @ JiffyCon Boston

There were some kind folks present who have been filming a documentary on Pandemonium, the game store that graciously provided our venue for JiffyCon. They came by and filmed a couple games and did a couple of interviews, and were generally cool people. Yay, JiffyCon on film! I’ll be sure to put a link when the thing is available.

Eppy @ JiffyCon Boston

Two friendly fellows whose names I, unfortunately, don’t remember (sorry guys! though, they were playing characters by the names of Sam and Cornelius, respectively) flank Eppy as he poses for me. Ah, always posing for me, thats my Epidiah. We were playing Misspent Youth, by the way.

Misspent Youth @ JiffyCon Boston

My Misspent Youth character sheet and notes.

StM @ JiffyCon Boston

Emily Care Boss playing Shooting the Moon with John and Deanne Adams. John is aghast at the dastardly deeds of Emily’s shootin’ fingers.

Mist Robed Gate @ JiffyCon

Shreyas runs a playtest of Mist Robed Gate for a packed and super-boisterous table. There were tears AND Kung Fu. Most excellent.

So, again, thanks everyone for coming! It was a blast!

Posted in Actual Play, Annalise, Conventions, Non-RPG Gaming, Playtesting, Promo | 4 Comments »

Investigation Game Mechanic

Posted by Nathan P. on December 22, 2007

I had a dream about a game mechanic, and when I woke up, I (a) actually remembered it and (b) it didn’t turn out to be totally incoherent.

It’s pretty simple, and I’m sure someone has something like this in one of the bevy of investigation games that are out/coming out around now.

So, the GM (or whoever’s in charge) has a whole bunch of plot threads going on, and he or she writes down a number of discrete clues and/or information that has to do with finding out whats really going on. Either each clue has multiple levels of potential detail, or the clues themselves are ranked by how important/detailed they are. These levels have some kind of number associated with them.

When the investigators make a roll, or accumulate evidence points, or whatever they’re doing to actually get clues, they’re trying to meet or exceed one of those thresholds. If they do, they get the clue! Hooray!

Next time they’re making a roll (or whatever), they can do it like normal, or they can risk, and thus build on, their current clue(s). If they do this, the threshold of the clue they risk is the new floor for the roll (or whatever), but if they don’t make it to the next threshold, they lose that clue. The witness clams up, the evidence disappears, the investigation deadends suddenly, everyone has a case of amnesia, whatever.

I see this as being Agon-y, with the GM having a Strife-like budget that he or she divides among clues initially to set thresholds, and then can use to make things more difficult during the game as well.

Hrm. Maybe this would be a neat Agon hack.

Anyhow, I like the idea that you can be losing some clues as you gain others in a nonsequential manner, making finding everything out much less linear. A critical component would also be keeping clues on physical cards, and not allowing anyone to take separate notes about them. So, as the game progresses, there’s an effect of trying to fill in holes from memory.

Posted in Non-RPG Gaming | Leave a Comment »