Hamsterprophecy: Prevision

It\’s All About Pen, Paper and People.

Archive for the ‘Playtesting’ Category

Annalise New Cover Preview

Posted by Nathan P. on March 22, 2009

Annalise White Cover

Annalise White Cover

Books available soon.

Posted in Annalise, Playtesting, Promo | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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

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 »

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 »

Moments In Annalise

Posted by Nathan P. on April 27, 2008

Here’s the (filled-out) play aid that I threw together for the JiffyCon Boston playtest of Annalise. Click for full size.

Moment Chart from AnnaliseWhenever you get into a moment in the game, the group generates an array of possible achievements and consequences that could come out of the moment. If you read down the paper, you can kinda see the flow of the game based on which achievements and consequences were on hand for the various moments. Which is hella cool!

I plan to revise it into something a little easier to parse at the table (probably with little circles or boxes for assigning dice, with the chart at the bottom that tells you which number means which either relegated to a different play aid kinda thing, or integrated into the sheet in a less obtrusive manner).

Anyway, something I’ve been meaning to post for awhile. In general life news, we’re at the end of the season at the shop I work at, so we’re in the big final build crunch. Lot’s of overtime in the next two weeks, but no free time a’tall. I am waiting on the proofs for the next printing of carry, though, so that is probably the next thing I’ll be posting about.

Also, news soon about my booth at Gen Con!

Posted in Actual Play, Annalise, Conventions, Personal, Playtesting, Promo | 2 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 »

Piecemeal Armor Rules for D&D

Posted by Nathan P. on February 17, 2008

So I’m playing D&D with my monday-then-tuesday-but-now-wednesday group. It’s fun. My character is badass and emo at the same time. She’s a rogue/cleric, and so far she’s exploded a skeleton (by turning it) and stabbed a dude in the lung, but then she healed it.

Anyway, the setting is a world that the DM has made up, based very loosely on Dark Sun and some other stuff. There a mountain with a dragon below it, and there’s 7 Giants who spend all their time keeping the Dragon asleep, cuz if it wakes up everythings gonna die, and this whole thing is surrounded by trackless desert, and so on. So, we geek out about cool stuff from Dark Sun that should exist in this world, and piecemeal armor kept on coming up. Like, gladiators with platemail arms and chunks of chainmail, elven nomads rockin’ layers of skins with metal sewn into them, whatever.

So, with some spare time in my weekend, I made up some piecemeal armor rules. I really like them! They’re only a little more complicated than armor already is in D&D, and I think they lend a lot of flavor to the whole endeavor. There’s also a system for piecemeal armor getting destroyed in combat, which is easily extensible to being a general armor destruction system that doesn’t involve any new mechanics beyond what you already use in combats. Which is pretty cool.

Anyway, pending DM approval, we’re gonna use ’em in my game. I’m posting the 5-page PDF here also, in case anyone is interested in checking them out, especially people with more experience with 3.5 than I have (which is anyone who’s played it for more than 2 sessions, at this point).

So, the D&D Piecemeal Armor Rules are linked right there. Lemme know whatcha think!

Posted in Actual Play, D&D, Playtesting | 2 Comments »

Exciting Things

Posted by Nathan P. on January 24, 2008

First: I played a 1001 Nights/Warhammer 40K mashup last nite. There’s a thread about it here at Story Games. It was an abnormal amount of fun. I think it was cuz we were using miniatures. Miniatures rule. I also got really excited about how Warp works. Anyhow, I look forwards to playing it more!

Second: In an hour or so I’m leaving for Dreamation. Unlike years past, I’m only there for a couple days, and I didn’t schedule anything. I’m looking forwards to treating it like a vacation, hanging out, playing informal games and seeing friends old and new. Yay Dreamation!

Third: Annalise is going well! I’m happy with the new new rules. The only problem is I’m having some language problems. I played with Shreyas over the weekend (oh, yeh, it’s actually really good as a two-player game, by the way. Super-exciting!) and was all “so, this thing I call a conflict, that’s not what it is, right?” and he’s all “yeh, that’s not at all what this is at all”. The best we could come up with is calling it an Event, because at least it’s not wrong, but I’m still trying to come up with something thats right to call it. Maybe this weekend will be helpful in that regard.

Anyhow, I need to clean up the text and rewrite some examples, but I think it’s almost in shape for sending off to people who aren’t me! I have some people specific I wanna send it to, but I’ll also be doing a public call (? ugh, such a gross word) for readers/playtesters in the near future. Stay tuned.

Posted in Actual Play, Annalise, Conventions, Playtesting | 3 Comments »

2007 Recap

Posted by Nathan P. on January 13, 2008

Guess it’s time for one of these, then.

2007 was interesting. I hated the internet a lot, so I think I dropped out of many of the web-based social circles that you, gentle reader, are involved with. I also had a lot of personal upheavals that severely impacted my leisure time, especially in the late-winter-spring-early-summer. Even now, I’m pretty gunshy about posting things to forums, and while I’ve been keeping contact with individuals, I’m pretty certain that my “online identity profile” is much lower than it was at, say, this time last year.

Which is totally fine with me, let me tell you what.

Umm, other than that, lesse…Hamsterprophet Productions did fine, overall. Due to aforementioned personal ish, carry was out of print for a couple of months that it really shouldn’t have been. I think that that killed any momentum it may have had left from Gen Con and Ron’s excellent AP at the Forge, and sales have pretty much flattened out since it’s been back. If I had the time and energy to proselytize for it, I’m sure it would do better, but hey, I am what I am.

I’m almost out of stock of the perfectbound version of Timestream, which is good.

And, while I started poking around with little projects off and on, I finally have traction on a game that I’m really excited about (Annalise), and which will be taking up most of my time for the next year or so, I think.

This has, however, been an EXCELLENT year for my actual play. I think I’ve logged the most hours playing games this year than ever before in my life, and the vast majority of those hours have been solid fun. My brain is bad at dates and remembering things, but to the best of my recollection:


  • Snow From Korea, at Dreamation. This was with Shreyas and Russell (and someone else? Adam Dray?), and it was really beautiful!
  • Misspent Youth, at DexCon. There’s a whole post that I need to make detailed how this game inspired me for Annalise.
  • In Frankenstein’s Wake, a game that came out of my BibliOdyssey Design Challenge, by Eric J. Boyd. It imploded!
  • Project Donut, two separate oneshots. Can’t talk about it.
  • Darkpages. A metric ton of Darkpages – it was my Monday groups game for most of the summer, in addition to a couple of oneshots at SGBoston, and then I ran a session at Gen Con. It’s been really satisfying to be doing longterm playtesting, and see the feedback work it’s way into Jared’s brain and back into the game.
  • Annalise, of course. I ran one complete game (5 sessions, I think) with my Monday group, and then I’ve done a couple of single sessions since then with evolving rules tweaks. Every time I play it I fall in love with it again.

Single Sessions/One-Shots

  • A couple games of carry, at Dreamation and DexCon. Good times had by all.
  • Dust Devils hacked to a space bounty hunter thing. Fun, but I still need to play Dust Devils straight and see if it works for me.
  • 1001 Nights, like, a thousand and one times. At least four times that I can remember, and I’m sure another one or two are in there.
  • Was my hardcore Primitive game in 2007? It may have been late 2006. Anyway, it was fun. I need to play more Primitive.
  • Giants, at JiffyCon. I’m hoping to get a multi-session game of this in, and soon.
  • Ganakagok, once at Dreamation and once at Origins, and ohmygodIlovethisgamesomuch. I mean, I don’t think it’ll replace InSpectres as my favorite game, but it is definitely the game that touches me the most in play.
  • Oh, yeh, InSpectres a couple times, both running and playing it. KaKAAAW!
  • Dogs In The Vineyard, finally. At Origins. Just the one town, and I kinda sucked at running it, but it was still cool.
  • Acts of Evil, at Gen Con. Umm, I dunno if I’m up to playing it on my own, but damn it’s a artistic game. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.
  • Roanoke, at Gen Con. It was sweet and educational to us brain-damaged story-gaming folk.
  • A one-session version of The Mountain Witch at DexCon, which worked out really well. I love running this game.
  • Agon. Eat my spear!
  • The Pool, finally. It’s really good.
  • Oh, and Unistat, finally. It’s also really good.
  • Best Hunter Squad, at Gen Con. I died!
  • Contenders, run by Malcolm on his Rock Star Tour. This is a good, good game. Maybe one of the best that’s come out in the last 1-2 years.
  • I’m sure something else is in there, but hey. That’s a good start!


  • Three-session arc of The Mountain Witch. It was REALLY good, despite some interpersonal issues among players. I was superhappy with it. I love running this game.
  • GURPS. That’s right, I’m playing GURPS weekly. I took a break in the fall, but I’m on my fourth arc (each arc takes about 3-6 weeks, and they revolve through different genres and characters). It’s been satisfying in the long-term-character-immersion way, and socially the game is awesome.
  • Darkpages, though it’s technically been playtesting, took up most of my summer.
  • Again, playtesting, but Annalise is a longer-form game, and it was really nice to play it out as such, though I’ve been evolving the rules like whoa since then.
  • Aberrant! My Monday group is on the second of three story arcs, and it’s been a blast running this game. We’re all on the same page about how fiddly we need to be with those silly rules, and there’s something that just feels right about using the character powers and such as written. There’s three characters, and each story is focusing primarily on one, and we’re right at the midpoint of the series. It’s fun and exhausting, sometimes – I have to do prep! Whoa!

So, playing lots of games is fun. And totally educational to me as a designer, and just as a fan of the genre. I’ve learned a lot this year.  And that’s what counts in my book.

Posted in Actual Play, Mission, Personal, Playtesting | Leave a Comment »

{Annalise} Changes & More Music

Posted by Nathan P. on December 9, 2007

So I think my issues with the Claim economy are mostly fixed, so now I have to concentrate on re-imagining the central resolution mechanic. I really liked the thing that I had, but it was something that seemed to either totally make sense or just not click at all with players. Like, if someone didn’t get it after going through the process once or twice, they didn’t end up really getting it at all. So, as long as I was at the table to walk through it every time, it was fine, but it’s obvious that without me there to do that, it’s not intuitive enough for what I want gameplay to flow like.

So I have this new thing now, that doesn’t break conflicts down as much, and has a different way of using the dice, and it inspired (like so many other things) by Otherkind. Basically, you’ll have some number of dice in a trait, and you’ll be rolling that many dice (say, 5) against some number of dice rolled by your Scene Guide (say, 6). You roll em and order them in ascending order, then match the orders to create pairs. So, like, if you roll 6,5,4,2,2 and the SG rolls 5,4,4,3,3,2, the pairs will be 6-5, 5-4, 4-3, 2-3, 2-2, naught-2.

Then, then owner of the higher die in each pair assigns the pair to either Victory or Growth.

Then, you get to use claims to reroll stuff and sometimes shift pairs from one pool to the other.

Then, whoever has the highest single die in Victory wins and gets to say how, and then the winner of each other pair in Victory gets to add additional stuff, complications, etc. Then all those dice go back to the traits and pools they came out of.

Then, each high dice in each pair in the Growth pool feeds into the individual characters experience economy, and the lower dice in each pair goes back to the general shared Scene Guide effectiveness pool.

I think this will be easier to grok. I hope it will, at least. It keeps all the dice on the table for the entirety of the conflict, which should help. It makes conflicts a little more totalizing that I know that I’m comfortable with, but at the same time, the pair-by-pair narration in the older system was something that often got skipped over in play, so maybe expanding the scope isn’t worst idea in the world.

* * *

Anyway, the interesting part: the Annalise soundtrack thus far tonite:

  • Healer – Falling Whispers
  • Orgy – Pure
  • Depeche Mode – Judas
  • Goldfrappe – Oompa Radar
  • Bush – Machinehead
  • Rammstein – Amerika
  • Depeche Mode – Only When I Lose Myself
  • Healer – Yailly
  • Bush – Chemicals Between Us
  • Lords Of Acid -Hey Ho!
  • She Wants Revenge – Sister

Posted in Annalise, Playtesting | Leave a Comment »