innocent_man: (cthulhu)
Tonight, my Trail of Cthulhu game came to an end. Only one fatality this time; I had hoped for at least three, but I'm satisfied with the ending and I think the story came out well. Sadly, the group decided to forgo starting anything else until January. We had initially talked about Promethean (and may again), but honestly, the break is OK. That'll give me time to do my current writing assignments for White Wolf (it actually feels weird to type that again!), and, of course, to work on curse the darkness.

So, anyway... )
innocent_man: (cthulhu)
Feeling weird. Good-weird, not clock tower-weird.

Played Trail of Cthulhu last night. The investigators have pretty much found all of the clues that they can (they leapfrogged over a couple of them), which means next time is going to be the Big Reveal and possibly some Fighting and Dying.

That in mind, I mentioned to the players that we'd need to consider what we wanted to do after this game. Glen made me a happy man by suggesting Promethean. I've run a chronicle and a couple of one-shots, but I've never done a one-story kind of dealie. I have some thoughts, but I know it's going to involve busting out Magnum Opus and checking out the guidelines on alternate milestone - getting traits rather than just Vitriol. But that's for another time.

Hey, hey, they're the monks! )
innocent_man: (cthulhu)
Last night was the next installment in Trail of Cthulhu. I really need to remember to print out, or at least carefully reread, the previous session's write-ups before running, since we're playing at [livejournal.com profile] hellgirl5's house and there's no Internet. No central air, either. There is, however, an awesomely cute puppy, and a more spacious gaming area, so on balance it's all good.

Oh, and I got this weird email purportedly from Blizzard Entertainment asking if I want to do something called "beta" for something called "Cataclysm." What the heck is that about?

Anyway, we lope along the trail of clues. )
innocent_man: (daeva)
I'm on vacation, which means I don't have the day-to-day drudgery of my job.

(Everyone who doesn't work in education just went, "Fuck you, Matt." I bask in it.)

Anyway, one of the things I want to do this week is some game prep, seeing as how I've got a bunch of awesome gaming coming down the pike. Let's review.

When I get back, I'm running It Came From the Late, Late, Late Show for [livejournal.com profile] affectionsedge, [livejournal.com profile] anaka, [livejournal.com profile] hellgirl5, and some other people who aren't women (fine, fine, [livejournal.com profile] docelboze and [livejournal.com profile] danieltallon). I've already decided that the movie is going to be Snakes on a Plane 2: Bears on a Boat, but that's as far as I've gotten. I've got some ideas, but that'll be a separate post.

And then I'm running Trail of Cthulhu, which is ongoing, but mostly I have my notes for that. I may need to stat the XXX XX XXXXXXXXXXX, but not just yet.

And then we're making characters for [livejournal.com profile] anaka's Dresden game. I'm thinking of making a kinet-omancer, someone who does magic with motion and energy transfer (actual energy, not the "energy" that New Age types talk about). But I dunno. City creation first. I'm looking forward to trying that system out.

(As an aside, Michelle's going to run that game every second week, and the plan is for me to run Mutant City Blues on the off weeks. Which, again, I'm very much looking forward to, because GUMSHOE is fun and because I've been wanting to do a supers game for a while now.)

Then what? Oh, Vampire, which gets discussed more below the cut thingie. Players stay out! )

And then Snowblind at the end of the month, which is also going to require some prep because we're adding in Michelle's character, but I can do that later.
innocent_man: (cthulhu)
Monday was our second session in my current Trail of Cthulhu story. Last time, Max and Mimi were looking into the murder of one Charles Mosley, Tamila was hitting the library to look up information on the mysterious tome called Las Costuras del Mundo, and Harvey, Herbert and Kyle were looking at a corpse chewed up by some kind of Bat...Man.

Tamila learned that the book had a reputation as a code book for sacred astrology and numerology, perhaps including numbers and geometric configurations that could be translated into coordinates. But as there was only one copy of the book, it was hard to say. The book had been in a small collection in Toledo (Spain, not Ohio) until a fire had closed the place down, and the book purchased by Gregory Himshaw.

Max and Mimi looked around the crime scene some more. Mimi noted that there was a Muni stop at the top of the hill, and that Charles had been facing down the hill when he was shot (point blank, in the chest). This suggested he wasn't the one who stole the book, as he'd have been running up the hill (in all probability) if that were the case. Mimi also realized that this neighborhood was one in which a fellow could enjoy the company of a young man for a short while, given certain monies, if he were so inclined, and they made a note to return later. Meantime, however, they went to the precinct to check up on the official report.

The report strengthened what they had already learned. Charles lived only a few blocks away from his death site. He was unmarried and worked downtown. He'd been facing down the hill when shot, and hadn't been robbed. Body wasn't moved, and no blood trail leading away. Max decided they should track down the driver who had been doing that Muni route that night.

They found him, and he told them that Mosley was a regular rider, and generally got off at that stop at 6:30. It definitely hadn't been the 9:30, though, because the driver remembered a man in his late 30s or early 40s, darker skin (maybe Mexican), black coat - or robe? no buttons - with something heavy and bulky under his coat getting on at 9:30. There, the investigators figured, was the thief and probably the murderer. Under some pressure, the driver also admitted he occasionally saw Mosley duck into alleyways furtively, and that led them to figure that they should check back once the boys come out to play.

But meanwhile, across town at Berkley, the doctors were examining the body. They found that the bones in the rib cage had been cracked and sucked dry of marrow, but the bite marks looked like it happened from the inside - so, what, this creature stuck its head into the hollowed-out chest cavity and nibbled into the ribs? All too damn peculiar. Also, this man had died by having his throat and neck crushed by something very strong. Gorilla-strong, according to Kyle. And then a phone call - Dr. Elmore was request at a crime scene in the city. A similar body.

Max and Mimi went to the medical examiner's office to see Mosley's body, but they met him coming out the door. He said he'd ride with them and give them the details on Mosley on the way, but he was needed at a crime scene. Mosley had been shot at point-blank range in the chest with a .38 handgun, and died instantly. The killer hadn't stopped moving, so probably hadn't gotten much or any blood on him. Mosley hadn't been robbed of his watch or his money, but only had about five dollars in his wallet.

The crime scene that both groups wound up at was a construction site. People from this (poorer neighborhood) were clustered around, and apparently two young boys had found the body. This was a woman, in much the same condition as the unfortunate man in the lab...except she had fallen or been thrown against something hard enough to kill her. The bite marks were the same, but slightly bigger, and her spine had been cracked and the fluid and marrow sucked out. And then something had carried her here using her broken spine as a handle...from the splatter pattern and footprints (which were oddly clawed), they figured on it being over seven feet tall. And there were those two odd drag marks on either side of the footprints...wing tips.

Tracking the trail back, they found an entrance to the same caverns that Kyle had seen earlier. Blood and fur around the entrance indicated that this was where the monster had come through.

Max found that the boys who found the body were good Irish kids, and talked to them about what they'd seen. It wasn't much on its own (they just found the body), but they also told Max that their cousin, Mikey, had seen strange things in other such sites, and that the rumor was that the ghosts of those who died in the Great Quake were returning. Max found Mikey's father in the crowd, and talked with him a bit. Mike Sr. said that folks were disappearing from construction sites, but the bosses just figured that the day laborers were taking other jobs. The police weren't taking it seriously; they were too busy with the Expo. But something was happening in the shadows of San Francisco, and folks were scared.

Max and Mimi promised to investigate, and told the others. Harvey opined that it was always the poor who got hit by this kind of thing first (in his experience, that's true). And then someone turned on a light and found another clue.

Scratched on the wall just over the body was a strange, spiraled, looping sigil. Harvey figured it for Irish in origin, but Max couldn't identify it. They needed someone who knew art...and Mimi knew just who to call. Next time, Tamila comes in, and the whole group is together.
innocent_man: (cthulhu)
I'm running Trail of Cthulhu again, at the request of [livejournal.com profile] hellgirl5, who just wanted more tentacles in her life.

If you don't know (perhaps because you didn't read the character I made for the game), one of the bits in Trail is "Sources of Stability." These are people that one's character knows that help him/her stay sane (or rather, stay stable, since Sanity is another stat entirely). I find it interesting that the last time I ran this game, most of the players chose spouses and children for their characters, and this time, only one of the players did. I have no idea what that indicates, beyond just a different focus for characters in the game.

But it did get me thinking about the notion of other people as sources of stability. I like people. Moreover, I think it's a point of, dare I say, almost spiritual correctness to like other people, or at the very least to be well-disposed towards them. One of the irritating stereotypes about atheists that I run into periodically is that we're grumpy, nihilistic or misanthropic. None of that is true in my case. I mean, I'm nihilistic in a kind of purist sense, insofar as I don't believe in intrinsic meaning to life, the universe and everything, but I believe very heavily that we can invest life etc. with enough meaning to make it all very worthwhile. And I've never particularly understood someone claiming to be Christian, where one of the core tenets of the faith is "Love your neighbor as yourself" (and don't give me that "I hate myself so I have everyone" bullshit; you know perfectly well what Josh meant) then turning around and expressing strong dislike for the whole of humanity.

Yes, humanity does awful things. Believe me, I know that as well as anyone. But if you're going to be a person of faith, if the ideal is of higher consequence than the immediate reality (or do I have this "faith" thing wrong again? Please, feel free to correct me), then shouldn't a love and respect for humanity be present regardless of all those horrible things? Shouldn't the instances of beauty, selflessness, love and courage outweigh the greed, violence and entitlement? More rejoicing for the one lamb who is saved than the millions served with mint jelly (again, I might be screwing that up. Oh, hell, it's Luke 15:7, in case you missed it).

Tonight, I took Cael up to bed and sat in his room with him, snuggled up to my chest, him staring off into the dark, his little baby heartbeat getting slow and restful as he got drowsy. It struck me, as I was holding him and rocking, that I was very close to state of no-mind there. I was nowhere else but in that moment, and I had no stress at all - nothing related to work, relationships, or life in general was in my mind. Only the gentle weight on my chest, and his little breaths, and the dark room.

Stability.

Now, the game. )
innocent_man: (centimani)
Last night was the exciting conclusion of my Trail of Cthulhu story. Before we get to specifics, a few words on the game itself.

Gotta say, it does exactly what it wants to. Running the game just requires making sure you know what Lovecraftian/Mythos style you're going for (I went Purist) and sticking to that. To wit, making sure that difficulty numbers don't get revealed ahead of time, and generally keeping folks in the dark. That's not hard, though I did find myself thinking that if I were going to run this kind of game Pulp style, I'd be more inclined to run Spirit of the Century instead.

One of my players commented that this system (GUMSHOE) was very much in keeping with the way I run games anyway. And that's true; it's been my policy when running horror/mystery games (which is what I do most of the time) to present the facts, let the players find clues, but leave the interpretation up to them. And I'll tell you why I like that: Because one of my biggest pet peeves when I'm playing a game (you paying attention, [livejournal.com profile] danieltallon?) is when the GM spends too much time butting in to the players' discussions. That's especially annoying when the dialog is happening in-character, and we're getting some momentum, and the GM jumps in to correct some point.

In some settings (like homebrews, or settings with a lot of backstory like Shadowrun), it's kind of unavoidable, but in settings like WoD or even Trail of Cthulhu, the players should know enough of the world at large to be able to sustain discussion. And, fuck it, if I'm the player I'm happy to just make shit up rather than take the time to ask the GM, "Wait, would my character know this?" or "What does my character know about this?" If I'm totally off base in a game-destroying way, then, yeah, it's appropriate to stop and set things straight. Mostly, though? Let the players play.

So, anyway, GUMSHOE is nice because not only does it play nice with my GM style, but it removes a lot of dice-rolling, since you don't roll to find clues. That speeds things up during play, at the possible expense of some of my improvisation, since I need to make clues up ahead of time.

Anyway, with all that in mind, on to the finale! )
innocent_man: (Default)
The tentacles get in the way.

Reasons to love Xbox Live:

  • Game demos. OMG. Being able to play a game without dropping $60 on it? Yes, please. I pretty much know within a few minutes of playing a game whether I'm going to really like it, and I've occasionally gotten roped into playing games that I don't really enjoy (looking at you, Iron Man) because I missed the return window because I thought the game might get better. Play the demo first, and I know that I want to buy WET, for instance, but not Dark Sector.
  • Add-Ons. I've played through Left 4 Dead, and wouldn't it be nice if there was another campaign you could buy? Wait, there is? (I admit I haven't actually bought it yet.)
  • Netflix. Oh, hell yes. I can idly decide to watch a good chunk of my queue, which to me is better than the DVDs, except that much of the library isn't available for streaming yet. But being able to call up an episode of Bullshit! anytime I want? Very cool.


Reasons not to love Xbox Live:

  • Other players. I would love, love, to be able to log on and have a friendly game of Left 4 Dead. But that isn't the way it works. You can log on with your friends (which is also doable, provided that I could find an agreed-upon time), but beyond that you're stuck with whoever the computer puts you with. And yeah, I'm not real chatty on the Xbox Live mic with people I don't know. Particularly mush-mouthed teenaged fuckwads.


Anyway, I promised a game update, and I'm tired of playing video games for now, so here we go )
innocent_man: (morbo)
In general news, Heather got her tattoo tonight. It looks beautiful, and I'll post or link to a picture at some point.

In other tat-related news, I want to get a snake tattoo. I've got [livejournal.com profile] gothicsquish working on the next design I want, and that's cool, but I've been thinking lately about getting a snake wrapped around my ankle.

See, I love snakes. They're lovely animals and they're fun to hold because they feel neat. But then there's the story about the snake that shows up in Natural Born Killers, and it's a fable that I relate to in a lot of ways. It seems kind of hostile the way it's told there, but I enjoy that hostility precisely because of the point of the story.

The story:



Now, again, that might seem hostile. But the point of the story, really, is this: I'm who I am. And I'm not hostile. I'm actually very friendly. But I do what it's in my nature to do. Now, the story assumes a kind of essentialism that I don't really buy into (to wit, people can and do change), but be that as it may, when you "pick me up," you'll know what kind of snake I am. Love me, hate me, leave me in the snow or put me by the fire, but don't be surprised by what I am.

Does that make sense?

In other news, I ran our first session of Trail of Cthulu on Saturday, and I quite enjoyed it. As I may have mentioned, I pretty much run games this way anyway. That is, investigative games with intricate plots, that require the players to assemble data and figure out what's going on, rather than being led from place to place.

So, check it out. )
innocent_man: (calvin)
No, not Dead Inside, which I don't own. Trail of Cthulhu.

Now, believe or not, I've never really played Call of Cthulhu. No, wait, I played once back in college, and the game didn't really go anywhere, sadly. I've read some Lovecraft (including the story about everyone's favorite squid-headed god), and I recently had a chance to see the silent film, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] anaka. And I'm honestly not sure how much I'd like a horror game in which the protagonists stand no real chance of turning back the tide of evil...

...except the World of Darkness is very much like that, isn't it? You might kill this vampire, but you'll never get them all. You might save your family, but that's about as far as your victory goes. You escape from the Gentry, but thousands more never will. I guess it's just a matter of focus.

Honestly, I bought this game because I was interested in the GUMSHOE system, since I run so many investigative games. Basically, the idea is that you spend points to find clues, rather than roll dice, because that way you don't run the risk of shit going off the rails because someone blew a dice roll. I agree that's an issue; my usual way around that in NWoD is a) I don't ask for rolls that I'm not prepared for the players to fail; b) I do a kind of "inevitable discovery" thing - if you'd find it eventually with persistence, screw the dice; and c) there are multiple ways to every lead. But GUMSHOE seems to have some merit, and I think maybe it'd be fun to play sometime.

Anyway:

The Game: Trail of Cthulhu
The publisher: Pelgrane Press.
Degree of familiarity: None. Just read the book is all. Oh, and I've played a lot of Arkham Horror.
Books required: Just the Trail of Cthulhu book.

The most merciful thing, I think, is the ability of Livejournal users to create cuts. )

Right, that's that, then. I'm out of town for a while, so no characters until I get back. I'm going to use the time away to read Hellas, though, so that's probably what I'll wind up doing next.

Actually, I'll be making Promethean characters while I'm gone, but that's for something different.

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