In kicking off Speak Out With Your Geek Out week, I should start off with the reason behind it all- why I do what I do. Why I have been playing RPGs for over a decade and why I have jumped head-first into the world of independent game design. What is it that makes me spend hours pondering turn actions, crunching numbers to figure out how well a mechanic works, and spinning the cogs and wheels of the nitty gritty side of imagination?

For me the world of indie RPGs is much like a geeky, spontaneous parallel universe to theater. It’s improv with rules. It’s method acting without having to spend hours upon hours of prep. But the reason I indulge and work (and sometimes work quite hard!) in this world is that when it comes down to that moment- that magical, organic moment where an entire table of people is doubled over in laughter, or stark silent from a sudden turn of events, or perhaps sniffling from a heart-touching moment developed by their own devices… That moment where the essence of human connection and emotion is nearly tangible… THAT. That is what I do it for.

People may see gamers as introverted, antisocial types who rarely leave the basement more much else than a bag of Doritos and a two-liter of Mountain Dew, but that’s not true. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve gathered with a group of friends to sit down to artisan beers or good wine, a gourmet meal prepared by myself or another, and a night of intrigue and adventure awaiting us. Gaming for me has proved to be rewarding, both socially and emotionally. I’ve gotten to know my friends on a deeper and in some ways more intimate level. Through gaming with varied groups, I learn more about people, society, and humanity as a whole. It’s a beautiful world of imagination, creation, collaboration, and trust.

So that’s that. That’s why I game and have no intention of leaving the lifestyle anytime soon.

If you’re new to the idea of independent RPGs or to gaming in general, I highly recommend you check out the Story Games forum. It’s a pretty cool group of people with a lot of great advice on where to look for great ideas and gameplay!

For anyone interested in getting some cool games at a decent price with the added bonus of helping children, check out the Wayne Foundation Indie RPG Bundle!

I’m contributing with Social Observance, and you’ll see some neat stuff, like Time and Temp from Epidiah Ravachol. That game alone is worth more than the asking price for the bundle, and the Wayne Foundation is working for a very good cause.

I’m sorry I have been so out of touch on this thing. It has been an insanely busy month for me, with hardly any real free time. Whew!

Anyway, I’m gearing up for one of the greatest weeks of the year. This is a week where awesome ladies all over the geek spectrum post about their nerdery. There are some really fantastic women in the RPG/writing/design fields, and I’m greatly looking forward to hearing from them. You can bet I’ll be posting right along.

Hooray, solidarity!

Check it out here!

Hi all! A huge thanks to Wilper for pointing out something which needed a tad bit of clarification in Stage Four of SO:

In the beginning of the paragraph where it says “choose another character”, this is in reference to another player’s character. Don’t worry, you don’t have to create an entirely new character!

Something else that Wilper suggested, and I think is a fantastic idea, is to use newspaper spread photographs for character inspiration. This makes the game a bit more accessible should your group not have the opportunity to get out to a public area.

You should all check out his blog, by the way (linked above)! He does a great job of concisely reviewing some interesting games, and has his own PDF for Daughters of Verona up, which looks quite interesting!

A quick note about SO and the rules regarding points:

If a person does not have any points, they may choose to go into debt. If you frame another person’s scene and wish to take a point from them, they must agree to go into debt with you or you will not receive a point. You may only increase your debt one point at a time. When you go into debt, describe how your character owes the debtor’s character.

Yesterday marked the first session of play for our My Life With Master game. Off the bat the personalities of the players all seem to mesh well together, and I’m quite pleased with the MLwM system so far.

We begin the session with Boris stalking about his manor, just north of the village center Ingolstadt. Boris is a tall, bald man with large coke-bottle glasses. His face is not quite solemn, but devoid of emotion as he goes about his business. He calls his servants to attention and informs them that he is planning a dinner party for his former colleagues and plans to impress them with his hospitality and treat them to a demonstration of his radical ideas.

“Sergei!” he calls.”Yes, Master?” comes the reply.

Boris holds up a snifter of alcohol, dangling above Sergei’s head. Sergei shakes his head, not wishing to imbibe the liquid, asking the Master to give him another option. Boris is unphased by his minions protests and tells Sergei that for his meal he is in need of a Boar, whole and stuffed, roasted on a spit, and a cask of the finest lager the the bartender has on stock. Sergei takes the liquid, but does not drink it. He submits to his Master’s bidding and heads toward the town.

“Akita,” Boris beckons, “you know the town whore, Helga? She is known amongst the people for her vitality and enthusiasm.” Akita pauses, thinking of the people she had come into contact with and says “Oh… the woman with the large hips?”. “Yes, Helga. The whore. Bring her to me”. Akita unquestioningly nods and smiles, happy to please her Master

To Puce, Boris gave the task of collecting firewood, enough to fill Puce’s favorite wheelbarrow (a gift given her on her “second birthday”, the day she was reborn at Boris’ hand. It’s a rusty old thing, and potentially dangerous, but it is a token from the Master which Puce treasures.). Puce rather ambivalently agrees.

Sergei walks into the local bar. The regulars are a gnarly bunch, sour and torn from hard labor. They hardly glance up from their drinks as Sergei makes his way to the counter where Olaf is tending bar. Sergei steps up to him, realizing at that moment that Boris had not sent him with any money.

“O-O-O-Olaf, m-my g-g-good man, I-I-I require, re-require, s-some…” Olaf is noticeably annoyed at this unwelcome distraction and makes Sergei known that his presence is not desired in his establishment. “I’ll give you until the count of three to tell me what the hell you want”. Sergei stutters and stumbles over his words, attempting to get his point across, but Olaf will have none of it. He points to the door, “OUT!”. Sergei leaves the bar and eyes the alcohol his master had given him.

Akita nears the brothel on the other side of town. A pretty girl, probably about 17-years-old stands at the door. After an awkward exchange of hand gestures and incredibly broken German, the girl offers for Akita to find Helga upstairs. Akita walks up the rickety stairs to find Helga in a back room, being paid by a town official. The man nervously tips his hat and exits the room. Now alone with Helga, Akita attempts to convey her desire to bring Helga to Dr. Von Schnee’s manor. As Akita’s charades prove nearly useless, she grabs a bill from Helga’s hand and jots down the name “BORIS” with a nearby quill. Helga’s face twists with disgust, “Oh, him? That strange old doctor who lives up in the mansion? That creepy man?”. She is greeted with smiles “Yes! Up!”. “What does he need me for?”, she asks. “Four? Four, five, six! Come! Up!”. “Six men? Well…God… I’ll… I’ll come with you, but briefly.” and with that, Akita takes her hand and gently tugs, with a smile and a wink.

Puce makes her way to the local woodcutter. It is day out and she cannot directly interact with the villagers. Seeing as how she’s not very keen on talking to them anyway, she sets about taking the wood while Johanne, the woodcutter, is engaged in other business. This leads to the first roll of the evening! Puce is attempting Villainy, and rolls the Master’s Fear (3) plus her Self-Loathing (2). This gives her five dice verses three for Boris’ Reason. The dice roll in Puce’s favor (6 to 3), and she successfully loads her wheelbarrow with firewood.


Sergei downs the alcohol Dr. Von Schnee had provided him with and feels the familiar burning within his veins. He saunters back into the bar, a new vigor in his step. “Olaf, my good man, I believe you did not understand me a moment ago. I need a cask of the finest lager you have, immediately. My master requires it.” The bartender, now suddenly noticing just how large and intimidating Sergei is, attempts to collect money, “Well, if you have cash… I would be happy to sell you my lager”. “Master is not going to take NO for an answer!” Sergei emphasizes his point by hammering his large fist onto the counter, and due to Sergei’s stats being far above any hope of Olaf succeeding, Sergei is granted a free Villainy “roll”. His Self-Loathing increases by 1. “I… Well, I’m sure Von Schnee is good for the money. Please, here, there’s a cask of Golden Oak. Do you have a mule and cart to carry it?” Sergei pauses… “In a manner of speaking.”. With that, Sergei hoists the large cask over his shoulder and sets out to find his boar.

Akita walks hand in hand with Helga, smiling at her cheerfully. She passes by the Lutheran church where Father Klaus Hoyda is speaking with an elder outside. He comes up to Akita and asks “Akita, what are you doing with this woman?”. She smiles and says “Come! Up!”. The father doesn’t understand. “What- are you working with her? For her?”. “Yes! Four, five, six!”… the father now confused, looks at Akita with a concerned eye. In an attempted Overture roll to win favor with Father Hoyda, I roll the Master’s Fear minus Akita’s Self Loathing, which gives me two dice. Ian rolls the Master’s Fear minus Reason and has one die. We both end up with a score of two. A tie determines that the attempt is interrupted! (One point of love is still awarded in the connection between Akita and Klaus)

As Klaus begins to speak, a scream is heard from the bell-tower above. A little girl jumps and plummets down, landing with a sickening thud at the feet of Father Hoyda. He grabs the mangled child into his arms and weeps. Helga stands in shock, frozen. Akita looks on awkwardly, wondering if this is some strange ritual she is unaware of.

On her way home, Puce passes a carriage. Within the carriage an attractive woman sits, staring out at the countryside (players know that this is the woman with whom Puce’s male half had an affair with). Puce is strangely drawn to this woman. She keeps her head down and focused forward and asks telepathically “Where are you going?”. “Why, I’m going home!”, the woman replies and sits up, as though waking herself from a dream. She looks around, spooked. Here Puce attempts an Overture to with the woman, but a tie is rolled. The Overture is interrupted, but a point of love still gained. Behind her, Puce can hear the voice of a very upset Johanne, demanding she return his wood. She telepathically shouts “I miss you!”, nearly against her will, before running away from Johanne and into the woods, a bundle of wood under her arm.

Because Sergei’s Self-Loathing exceeded his love + reason, we cut to The Horror Revealed. This basically demands that Sergei’s player (D) loses a scene and instead narrates a scene of horror amongst NPCs which show the psychic vibrations from such evil bleeding into the world. Dave takes the stage. We see Henrick, the father of the little girl that jumped off of the bell-tower, in the bar, working the bottle with no regard. Olaf, concerned for the poor man, attempts to cut him off and reaches to take the bottle. In a drunken fit, Henrick engaged Olaf in a scuffle. Alcohol driving him, Henrick pushes Olaf harder and the searing surprise of pain shoots across Olaf’s face. Looking down, he has been impaled by the leg of a chair.

Akita stands silent amongst the murmuring townsfolk, now gathering around Father Hoyda and the little girl. The townsfolk seem to be whispering about her, the strange foreigner who has appeared at such an awful time as this freak accident. She understands that there is sadness and has seen people give others a kerchief in their distress. Using this reasoning, Akita removes her hip scarf and puts it into Helga’s hand and then up to her face. Another Overture roll proves successful for Akita and she gains a point of love in a new Connection with Helga. She is able to scurry off with Helga before the crowd got out of hand.</P

Puce calls out “It’s me! Help!” telepathically to her pseudo-former lover and is felled to the ground by Johanne. As he reaches back to swing at her with an axe, we move into a physical confrontation. Puce loses the roll by 1 and Johanne’s ax sinks into Puce’s shoulder. She is barely able to push him off and flees further into the woods.


Sergei decides that it is much easier to hunt a boar than to worry about interacting with the butcher and as such heads into a nearby thicket to hunt. He is able to track down a sow and her piglets. In moments, (and with an easy win in a physical confrontation) the sow’s neck has been snapped to the point that it has almost come completely detached from the its body. Pleased with his hunt, Sergei trudges off, cask over one shoulder, boar over the other. (Here we decided that due to the nature of this encounter, Sergei’s SL did not have to increase another point).

Akita and Helga have arrived at the door of the manor and make their way in. Akita is startled to see Boris standing near the door, arms clasped behind his back. He coldly smiles at Akita’s job well done. He notes that it was done in more time than preferred. Akita tells her Master of the little girl and the bell-tower and the murmuring crowd. “Is this a ritual?” She asks? “No, we’re not savages like your people”, he replies, “Now, you’ve done a good job, hand her over to me.” Boris speaks to Akita, wishing her to turn over Helga. “Is she going to clean for you?”, asks Akita, speaking of the other servants’ work around the manor. “Akita, don’t be silly, you know what happens in the study, now give her to me.” Boris stretches out his hand. “But.. but I LIKE her!”, Akita resists! Here Akita rolls her Love minus Weariness, and is granted 1d8 for sincerity. She wins (7 to 5), in building up a resistance against the Master. Boris looks at her sternly and roughly grabs Helga. “We will have a discussion about this later. I do not like this new attitude of yours.”


Puce has gained some distance on Johanne. She drops her wood and climbs into a nearby tree. When Johanne approaches, she drops from the tree, ambushing him. (She wins her roll). His back breaks from the impact. Puce grabs one of the nearby logs and bludgeons his head, sending blood and skull fragments spattering across her front. She retrieves her wheelbarrow and carts the wood- and Johanne- to the manor.


On his way back from his tasks, Sergei passes a stream. A little boy sits there, playing with a sailboat on a string. Still intoxicated from the Master’s drink, Sergei is mistaken and believes the boy to be Gregor, the son he murdered in a drunken rage. “The boat! How does the boat float? Gregor, how does it float?” Sergei approaches the boy. An Overture roll commences, which Sergei succeeds, and he gains a point of love in his connection with the little boy. The boy smiles up at Sergei “My name is Adolph, but you can call me Gregor if you’d like. That’s a fun game!”. The two spend time with the boat.

Boris emerges from his study, smiling and whistling. His face is noticeably more lively, as is his step. “Akita, have I ever told you… for a savage, and despite the tone of your skin, you’re actually quite lovely?” Boris brushed Akita’s cheek with his hand. Helga emerges from the study, ashen-faced and exhausted. Akita looks up at Boris, scowling, “I do not like what you did to her…”. Boris chuckles at her and tells her that this is the way it is. Besides, Helga was a dried up old whore, useless chattel at her age. He shakes his head and goes about, chirping orders to the others. Helga wobbles and Akita rushes to catch her. She cradles the woman in her arms for a moment, then runs into Boris’ study to fetch some of his favorite brandy with which to revive Helga. Another Overture roll ties! As Akita brushes Helga’s hair from her face and leans closer to peer into her eyes, Sergei busts in, walking between the women, blood from the boar spattering down on top of Akita’s face and blouse.


“Master!”, calls Sergei, excitedly, “Master, I found my son! How did you do this? How did you bring him back? Oh, Gregor! He lives!”. Boris comes in and looks Sergei up and down, “You’re an imbecile, and you’re drunk!” He laughs at Sergei, “You brutally murdered your son, you bashed his head in with your bare hands! He will never come back, he’s dead, you idiot!”. Sergei, speechless, hangs his shoulders a bit. “Now, put those in the kitchen.” Boris nods at the boar and the cask. “Yes, Master…”


Soon after this Puce returns to the manor. She comes across Helga, nearly lifeless, and Akita sitting on the floor with her, attempting to pour brandy into her mouth. “Why is the whore on the floor?” asks Puce, as she scratches at her crotch. She finds this woman vaguely familiar. Unable to understand Akita’s blatherings on, Puce loses interest quickly and, arm dangling from her shoulder, calls for her Master. “Fix me!”, she barks at Boris. “Is that Johanne?”, he asks, pointing to the body in the wheelbarrow. “FIX. ME”. Boris explains that he can stitch Puce’s arm back, but that she does not regenerate as she once did. In order to heal, she would have to ingest the flesh of Johanne. She looks up at Boris in disbelief. “I am NOT doing that”. A roll is made to resist the Master, in which Puce horrible fails. Boris gives Puce a foreboding look, “I’ll fix you while you eat. And don’t eat it in the foyer, go out back where nobody can see you.”. Puce grimaces and picks up a piece of Johanne. With a look of disdain she begins to gnaw on it in front of her Master. He kicks Puce swiftly in the ribs and points to the door to the back yard.


The dinner party has begun, and about 7-8 of Dr. Von Schnee’s former colleagues are in attendance. He stands to tell them of his work, of how far he has come, and calls Akita to bring Helga into the room. He tells of Helga’s reputation, how she is known as a woman of vigor, whom many of the men in that very room have enjoyed the likes of. He shares of how, even while in her forties, Helga kept a youthful energy about her and enjoyed every drop of life. The men, mildly flustered, wait to hear Boris’ point. “Look at Helga now! A husk of what she used to be. And me! Alive and well! This can be yours, you as well can take this and have it!” Boris attempts to sway the men, to chastise them for forcing him out from the Academy, and to allow him to practice once more. The men one by one stand to leave.


Frustrated and dejected, Boris looks around at the untouched food and at the servants standing and awaiting his orders. “Sergei…”. “Yes, Master?”. “I have no use for Helga anymore. Take her out behind the house and shoot her in the head.” Simultaneously, Sergei and Akita react with surprise. “What? But… No, I can’t…” Sergei protests. Akita rushes toward Sergei in an attempt to keep him back. Sergei rolls to resist the master, and Akita assists (she uses her Love minus her Self Loathing, which produces one helping die). The two fail in resisting. Boris grows cold and enunciates himself more clearly, “Sergei. Take her out behind the house. Shoot her in the head. Dump the body in the river. Now.” With his eyes seeming to tear, Sergei says “yes, Master”, and follows through with his bidding.

As some of you may know, I’m releasing a free game called Social Observance very soon. A rough first batch of printed “business cards” (cheat cards for on-the-go play) is on its way to me for distribution and the PDF is near completion. It’s a small game, but one that I’ve grown fond of. I’ve mentioned it on Google+ a few times that I would love to send out copies to anyone interested, but I feel that I’d be doing the public a disservice to put a product out there without a good explanation of what the game really is.

Simply put, Social Observance is a game about people-watching. Have you ever wondered what that passerby’s life is like? Are they a mentally unstable yoga instructor, a down-on-his-luck balloon animal artist, the next Timothy McVeigh? This game allows your imagination to run wild in a collaborative story-telling environment.

The game is best when played by 3+ people, though 5 is probably a better number to start with.

No dice. No GM. No setup. All you need are people, a place that allows for good people watching, and a way to keep track of points.

Aside from being fun in its own right, this can be a good group-building game and an interesting look into how your group operates. For those looking to play Burning Wheel or any other game with an artha/fate mechanic, I would recommend playing this as a lesson in point (artha/fate) distribution to keep the flow moving during your regular gaming sessions.

If you’d like to know more about the game, you can follow me on G+ (just search for Ally Nauss) and send me a personal message! I’m a pretty accessible person and am more than happy to answer your questions!

Creative Commons License
Social Observance by Alicia (Ally) Nauss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gamingally.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://gamingally.wordpress.com/.

As everyone has been gearing up for GenCon, I have been piggybacking on the creative social subconscious juices and have been working on finalizing the PDF for one of my games, Social Observance. In tweaking, reading, re-reading, and other editing, I’ve begun to think about all of the aspects of gaming that us veteran gamers tend to assume are common practice. It’s hard to gauge how well-known some of these aspects are short of shouting into the role playing aether and hoping for a reply.

Well, aether, here I go.

Lines and Veils
There has been a lot of talk in role playing communities over the past few years about lines and veils. Coined by Ron Edwards in his game Sex and Sorcery, lines and veils are our personal and group boundaries when role playing- what we are and aren’t comfortable in sharing and exploring with those around us in a role playing setting. There are some levels of sexuality, intimacy, violence, and even phobias that certain individuals are (rightfully so, in their respects) uncomfortable approaching. Each person in each group is different, and knowing where those boundaries lie can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. In every game I’ve played, it has been very clearly asked of the other players if there are any hot topics to stay away from. This is especially crucial in convention gaming, as many of the people you may be sitting down to play with are not people that you know particularly well, or at all. I’ve had people mention rape, politics, seagulls en mass, and many other things as role playing venues they would rather avoid. It comes second nature to me to bring this up before game play, and I’ve certainly seen the idea of lines and veils written out in many other games. You can see some good conversation about lines and veils in this thread at The Forge. Has it been long enough so that lines and veils are common practice? Personally, I still kept a clause in my game to remind players to talk about their comfort levels before play.

Turns
Is it just me, or does it seem like common sense to take turns? I’m talking about each player getting a portion of the spotlight. I tend to see turn-based scene framing as a basic GM skill; GMing 101: Juggling your Characters. Even though traditionally the grunt of making sure that all of the characters get equal scenes has fallen to the GM, you see the idea of sharing screen time a lot in GM-less games (look at Annalise, for example, or Fiasco, or Mist-Robed Gate). Every player gets a chance to rock the lime light and make their character (and hopefully the other characters) look interesting. Some people can be a bit shy about this, which can be curbed in a fun and simple way in Fiasco as a choice to either frame your scene or have someone else frame it. Annalise allows for role playing virgins and those less gung-ho individuals to participate without being put directly on the spot as well, with its “choose your scene narrator” bit. But I digress. The point is that, in all of the games I play, unless it’s specifically pointed out that the turns are to progress in a less-than-standard way (look at GM turns and Player Turns in Mouse Guard), it’s assumed that scenes will go back and forth from person to person, or at least from one couple-people group to another couple-people group. Still, when a friend of mine was looking over my game for me, he mentioned that I had not noted that each player receive a turn per stage. Another tweak to the PDF for me…

Legal Liability
Social Observance isn’t a typical role-playing game. It’s not something that can be played in your mom’s basement. This game requires players to actually observe the people around them, and imagine the hidden lives of those in their community. This involves a certain amount of people-watching. In creating this game, I had hardly thought of the potential for legal lines to be blurred. I’m now faced with the awkward position of deciding whether or not to include a sort of liability clause, in which I spell out that if anyone were to, say, get arrested for stalking or disrupting the public, or other such things, that I’m not in fact liable just because they were playing my game. It sounds ridiculous, but long has the heated debate of video games and violence been raging. Do violent video games promote or cause violence? From what I gather, there is no real proof that playing a violent game leads to violence (rather, violent people do and are drawn to violent things). I could assume from this that just because a game promotes watching people that it does not cause social disruption or stalking behaviors or the like. People choose to follow courses of action on their own volition. But still, it makes me wonder where the lines are and just how grayed they can be. To be on the safe side, I’ve put a couple of notations into my game to remind players to be respectful of their surroundings and to avoid legal fallout. That’s definitely not a fun way to end a game.

Do I expect answers to my questions? Not necessarily. I think common knowledge and guidelines within the gaming community tend to be rather fluid and as such there are no hard and defined answers.

Not too long ago a friend of mine, L, had mentioned that a couple of people she knew were interested in playing a story-game using the hangout feature of Google+. While a bit weary of online gaming, I have been curious to see how the hangout holds up. In the past I have used Skype and Google Chat with limited success. With the exception of an audio malfunction which caused one of the players to sound rather robotic, the hangout feature seemed to work pretty well for our set-up session.

Regarding the Google+ Hangout

Something I didn’t like:

The system automatically switches focus to the person who is talking. This is a really neat feature, except for when it picks up feedback as “the person talking” and switches to the wrong person. I also thought it was odd that L and I (sharing a webcam) were speaking, our picture didn’t show on our side as the focal picture. It stayed focused on the last person to talk. This wasn’t a major annoyance, and perhaps is only spawned by my own narcissism, but if I have the stage in a hangout, I would like to know that I have the stage.

Something I did like:

I love that Hangout integrates multiple cameras into the same chat. Skype had attempted a similar feature, but with my former gaming group it was a pain to use and tended to crash once we added the third camera. The hangout feature handled all three cameras well (there were a few glitches here and there, most likely because the G+ is still in the process of getting itself up and running), but for the most part the video was streaming clearly and the audio (save for poor D’s robot voice, a fault most likely of his microphone) worked quite well.

Now, on to the gaming

My Life with Master is an independent RPG by Paul Czege, put out by Half Meme Press. The premise of the game is rather simple. You have a Master (the GM, essentially), the Minions (your PCs), and the Village. The Master has a Want and a Need- something which they desire from the Village, but must be given willingly, and something that they must have in order to survive. The Need is to be collected by the minions. Minions are both partially inhuman and partially human. There is to be a constant struggle between their inhuman side (that which is obliged to do the Master’s bidding) and their human side (that which still allows them to function within society).

Given our choices for the Master (a bestial version, a physical terror, verses an intellectual version, a mind-fucking sociopath), we were more interested in exploring a psychological aspect and as such chose to have a highly intellectual Master. In choosing the Master’s style, we flirted with a couple of ideas, drawing inspiration from the White Court vampires in Dresden Files, Rainbow the Clown from Powerpuff Girls, and the I, Zombie comic from Vertigo. We settled on the Feeder type of Master. His info is as follows:


Boris Von Schnae (Will be utilized by IW, group facilitator/GM)

Fear: 4

Reason: 3 (or 4)

Boris is an anthropology professor at the local university. He is an incredibly intelligent, yet detached individual. Subjected to emotional trauma as a child, he slowly killed the emotional portion of his humanity, leaving himself a stoic and rigid man. He watches society from afar and is intrigued by their irrationality and passion. Though he hates intense emotions and the damage they caused him in his previous life, he longs to be accepted by the community around him. To satiate his need for emotions, he has set up an office for “case studies”. While “on the couch”, the individual’s emotions are drained from their bodies and absorbed by Boris. In the process, he gains memories and attributed from his victims, increasingly become more unstable.

Minions

Side note: There is a divergence of ideas when it comes to the creation of minions (or, characters generally). Some people prefer to brainstorm about their characters beforehand, prepare themselves for the session, and settle into a mindset. This can be great, and in a traditional setting can greatly enhance the “method acting” portion of game play. In more independent story-game styles, it can occur that in creation, the character ideas change drastically, meaning that all of the work done beforehand was for naught. My personal style is very improv-centric and in-the-moment, meaning that I rarely come to a game with much more than the basic tools needed and my own imagination. We saw both styles last night and they seemed to mesh relatively well. L had written up a brief overview of a character that she was interested in before coming to the game an ended up using her ideas to create her minion. The rest of us came up with our ideas on the spot. Both worked out very well (and to be honest, I think we have a pretty solid group of characters to work with).

Minions in this game are pretty simplistic. They have two stats and two traits. The stats are “Self-Loathing” and “Weariness”. These help or hinder in the interactions with the Master and interactions with the townsfolk. The traits are “More Than Human” and “Less than Human”. These traits give a spot of flavor to the characters, outlining any inhuman abilities and flaws, with modifiers. Examples are given in the playbook, and you’ll understand more when you read ours below. Minions also have two connections each to the town. These connections can be unaware of the minion’s presence, or their admiration can be unrequited. Our characters are as follows:

PUCE (L’s character)

Self-Loathing: 1

Weariness: 3

More than Human: Telepathic, but only with women

Less than Human: Cannot directly interact with townsfolk, except in complete darkness

Connection 1: Puce’s teenage daughter still lives in the town. She believes both parents are deceased.

Connection 2: Puce is enamored with a woman in the town, whom unbeknownst to Puce had engaged in an affair with Puce’s husband.

The victim of a horrible car accident, Puce was once a normal woman with an idyllic life. Married with children, her life drastically changed when she was rescued from the crash. Mutilated and facing death, Puce was reconstructed using pieces of her now-deceased husband. Not quite female and not quite male, Puce has become an interest of Boris, as he seeks to learn how the male and female aspects of Puce’s makeup interact with each other.

Sergi (D’s character)

Self-Loathing: 3

Weariness: 0

More than Human: Incredibly strong, except when sober.

Less than Human: Insufferable to others, unless imbibing Absinthe.

Connection 1: Little boy in town.

Connection 2: Lutheran Priest.

I didn’t catch much more information about Sergi- I’ll update this shortly!

Akita (Ally’s character)

Self-Loathing: 2

Weariness: 1

More than Human: Undeniably manipulative, unless interacting with children.

Less than Human: Cannot understand common language unless it is written.

Connection 1: The beekeeper in town reminds her of her brother. She watches him from a distance.

Connection 2: Akita wants to be converted by the Lutheran priest, but he sees her a foreign mongrel.

Akita was an anthropological/sociological case study, treated quite poorly by those at the university. Boris took her under his wing, the only other individual for more hundreds of miles who is even aware of her language.

So far, it looks like we have a good jumping point for game play. I’m interested in seeing how some of these interactions work out. For my own character, I intend on using the “Chat” function in the hangout for note-passing and such as a result of Akita’s inability to speak German. We’re all looking forward to exploring the characters and the village (which I’m assuming we will flush out more through play).


Feel free to offer insight, input, critiques, and ask questions!

I’m running short on time, but I’d like to give a very brief introduction to what you should expect to find here.

1) First and foremost, I love the world of role playing games. I’m particularly fond of story-gaming and the independent game design arena. Most of the games I play/read/review will of this ilk. Occasionally I will enjoy a board game or a more traditional table-top game, but these will be few and far between.

2) Game design and theory. I consider myself a newcomer to the game design field. I have enjoyed playing games, but not designing them for many many years. I look towards the “greats” for inspiration, and hope that I can involve them in some good conversation at some point, or at least reference them now and again in here.

3) I like to keep things simple. I will avoid specific terminology and jargon when possible so that I can offer an “introductory” feel to the public when addressing story games. You shouldn’t need an urban-gaming-dictionary to understand the concepts I’ll be talking about, and if anything doesn’t make sense to you, please contact me so that I can more clearly explain any of the verbiage that I utilize.

4) I love people, but sometimes people can be complicated! Our multifaceted-ness is a fantastic thing, but I’d like to keep some of the interpersonal complications away from my writing, so if you have a negative thing to say, please do so constructively, or at the very least, let me know beforehand if you’re going to be brutal.

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