“A man who dressed up as Buho, a female elf, has been convicted by a jury at Belfast Crown Court of taking underwear from a shop in a knifepoint raid.”
“He told the court he had been in a role-playing game at the time and may have blurred reality and fantasy.”
“In his defence, Boyd claimed that due to pressures that he was suffering in his work and marriage and his indulgence in a role-playing game called “Shadow Run”, he thought he may have been playing the part of criminal elf Buho when he threatened the lone female shop owner at knifepoint after asking for a discount.”

Well I’ve got quite a stack of gaming related blogging to catch up on, so I’ll start with Conception. Last week was of course everybody’s favourite convention, . Unfortunately, we booked late so we ended up squeezing five people into a three bed chalet. One slept on the sofa bed and another on a camp bed. But on the upside, we were close to the main building and had a spectacular see view! Photos soon!

The playing of games was definitely fun. I played two Cthulhu games (one set in the Vietnam war and the other inspired by Lost) and two Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which were excellent fun. I also played a game of SLA Industries. I had intended to play a freeform LARP or two after my experiences at , I even had some necessary clothes, but in the end it didn’t work out. Maybe next time.

I ran the customary Vampire game at Conception, which bizarrely involved taxidermy, but which also continued my use of Whimsies. “ are a near-universal role-playing accessories originally published by Lion Rampant in conjunction with their innovative and influential game, Ars Magica. This was a deck of cards with plot devices on them. Each player would get one at the beginning of the game, and would play them at some point during the game when it would make the story more interesting (or make the PC’s lives more difficult!). If the GM liked the use of the Whimsy Card, the player might get another one to replace the one she played. Use of Whimsy Cards is always subject to GM approval and/or modification. “
Players seem to enjoy messing with the plot, and each other, and so we’re keeping the Whimsies in.

I also ran a game of Mage the Awakening. I’ve always considered running Mage to be a bit daunting with it’s complex but open spell casting rules and I was never sure how a game of Mage should run. So I created some pregens (and monkey in a parka who throws shapes), threw the characters into London and then got them doing some treasure hunting as per Secrets of the Ruined Temple. I can now say I’m much wiser in the ways of Mage, though I still think the system is open to massive abuse by creative players willing to strain their character’s paradigm to achieve a magical aim. But it was good fun all round.

Some exciting things popping up on the , most specifically Urban Legends in May.

But the most exciting recent release from the mucky pup have been the adventures published as the , which are published as PDF only. So what, you might ask, it’s just another bunch of adventures, right? Right? Well, yes. But no. I must admit, these SAS’s are extremely well put together, masses of background, properly formatted, written in a way that you can split out, move around and otherwise alter the scenes in the module. The storylines are interesting and easy to adapt and fit into your own game. So, very impressed since so far WW’s adventures have never once survived contact with my players. Not once. We’ll see if SAS fares any better.

Gaming is going on a bit of a hiatus now due to work issues, but all that means is that I can do plenty of prep for the next game of Vampire. To degeneration! And beyond!

But first, the weather…

Snow!
Then panic, chaos, delayed and canceled trains, people bundled up like Nanuk of the North (minus the yellow snow) and advice to “stay at home unless absolutely necessary”.
Closely followed by melting of said snow, and knock on effects on the transport connections caused by said few flakes.
Same as every year.

But anyway!

Last weekend was the birthday celebration of Ibis and there were gamers amundo! The festivities began, from my perspective, on Friday evening when Penny and I went to eat curry in Reading with those of Alison’s guests who had arrived a day early at the hotel. Oh, and Alison was there too, which was a relief. This did mean that Penny and Alison have finally managed to meet after all this time.
The curry was good, the company was good and it was nice to meet at least some of the people before actually engaging in freeform roleplay with them and their 25 or so friends.

What is freeform roleplay? Well, it’s like LARP but without the rubber swords. Hmm.. Not quite doing it justice. Tabletop roleplaying without the table. Or the dice. Or a great many rules. And with more GMs. And costumes. How about improvisational acting but with a prose character sheet and objectives? I think you get the idea.

The freeform in question was held at the excellently appropriate venue of and was excellently organised by . This being my very first freeform roleplay I was fairly nervous to begin with, especially as I didn’t know the vast majority of the guests. But all were friendly and I was eased in gently, playing the Lord Sandberg, a cunning manipulator of the political scene. Or at least he would have been if I hadn’t been about half a plotline behind everyone else. I’m afraid I didn’t do Lord Sandberg sufficient justice, but I certainly had fun trying to influence the leadership contest of the Conservative party. And thereby miss an entirely different plotline (or three) of occult goings on.

A lot of people had put a spectacular amount of effort into their costumes and really looked great. I wussed out and stuck with the tuxedo rather than hiring/buying a whole outfit.

The dinner and speeches after the gaming event were great, particularly Alison’s half hour speech in which she spoke about everyone present, which was a nice touch. And then some very nice people gave me a lift home at the end of the night.

Happy Birthday Ibis and thanks, I enjoyed celebrating with you and your friends.

The last two weeks have been largely taken up with two things: work and pain. My quasi-annual back pains kicked in again and this time I was given no choice, no escape and no way to avoid my fate; It was the chiropractors for me. And I’m actually glad I’ve gone. My weekly appointments have helped and apparently I’ll hopefully be on track for going up to SnoZone in Milton Keynes in January.

Work has been busy, but in a good way. It’s been quite varied, what with calls from my previous client, support work and some presales thrown in there for good measure. It’s meant I’ve really been enjoying my job and makes me glad I stayed in the department I am.

A couple of weekends ago was a gaming weekend where we played Aberrant and Vampire. The Abberant was much enjoyed and the Vampire is really starting to pick up momentum. The next game is in January, followed by one at Conception.

And on the topic of Conception, I’ve decided to run a one-off Mage game there, inspired by 1920’s pulp adventures, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and Whacky Races. Hopefully I can pull it off!

I’ve finally settled on what my Christmas meal will be and we’ve tried making it to make sure it works: Venison steak with a port and juniper gravy. Mmmm… Bambi…

That’s it for now, hopefully more frequent and more interesting posts henceforth!

Now this was a bizarre announcement. Here the .

In brief, , the creators of , have merged with which will be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of CCP.

What does this really mean? Well, there’s nothing official out there, but there’s talk of an Eve RPG and either a , or MMORPG. But the truth is that the only people who know aren’t spilling the beans.

Of course that still hasn’t stopped the hivemind of net forums wibbling about Angst: The MMORPG or that one of the companies is the doom of the other (it doesn’t matter which way around).

What will it really mean? In truth I don’t even have any theories on this one, it’s still all too bizarre.

Update:
Just found this quote: “The merger will accelerate CCP’s brand development of EVE Online as White Wolf will bring their expertise to the creation of EVE Online strategy guides, collectible card games, role-playing games, novels, and miniatures.”

So, got released at GenCon last week (no reviews yet and I’m not sure I’m tempted), and decide to take the opportunity to make the following announcement:

White Wolf is proud to announce the “5th Game” for World of Darkness will be Changeling!

As envisioned by developer Ethan Skemp, fans can look forward to a complex setting where your character faces new challenges and dangers not seen before in the World of Darkness.

When asked to describe this latest addition to the White Wolf’s product line, Ethan said, “Changeling is a game of beauty and cruelty, of passion and loss, of dreams and madness. You have struggled your way back through the thorns only to find your life had been stolen from you. Now you make your way the best you can, attempting to piece together the fragments of your life or to forge a new one, chasing your ambition through the intrigues of the chageling courts and freeholds, and always looking over your shoulder lest the Others, the true Fae, return for you.”
As additional details are released in the next twelve months, information will be posted for fans and retailers to share at

There you have it, will be back in Summer 2007. While it had potential I never really got on spectacularly well. I thought it had holes you could drive trucks through, concept-wise, and never really properly fitted in to the World of Darkness concept. And now we have five ‘species’ of supernatural in the NWoD: Vampires, Mages, Werewolves, Prometheans and finally Changelings. And you just know the product for 2008 will be Wraith: The Relaunch. And then? Well, there’s still the Demon: The Fallen and Mummy range they launched and re-launched, respectively, just before canning the WoD. Does the world really need so much? Is it profitable for WW? One would hope that if they’re going to release so much product that they’re actually making some profit out of it.

Of all the products release recently the ones I liked most were actually generic or semi-generic products. Firstly there is , a WoD book dedicated to psychics and non-awakened mortal wielders of powers arcane. Quite well balanced and very easy for me to slot into . The second one is a recent release, namely . The ‘Shadows’ range is intended to be focussed on a region, with a weighting towards one supernatural group, but with lots of generic information and info about the activities about the other supernaturals. The title in question is, of course, dedicated to the UK and weighted towards the werewolf side of things. The little snippets of story ideas and info about the other supernaturals in here is very good and, highly unusually, good enough to at times lift it verbatim and only screw around with it a little bit. I think the next in the range will be Shadows of Mexico which will have a vampire weighting. Less use to my campaign, but probably worth a look anyway.

There are some very good name generators out there, most notably Seventh Sanctum, but generally I’ve found them useless for modern European names. These days the ethnic make-up of European metropoli are very diverse, but name generators are either Anglo-Saxon or French. They in no way reflect the cultural diversity of 21st century urbanites. The French name generator will spit forth no Algerian names and the British ones will generate no Pakistani names. Very frustrating when you’re at bas as coming up with names on the fly during roleplaying games as I am.

If anyone can prove me wrong and either point me towards such a program or even write one based on census data, I’ll be most thankful. In the meantime, I’ll just have to use ethnically cleansed names for NPCs.

Well, it’s been a busy week and a half, so it’s time for the obligatory ‘I haven’t posted in ages’ update!

Friday the 14th
Working in the home office. Blergh! Working on a bank holiday sucks, but doubly so when you have nothing to do.
Thought of the day: Zzzzz… Bored… Entertain me!

Saturday the 15th
Shopping for Penny and the ‘The Wolves in the Walls’ at the in Hammersmith, a cute little out-of-centre theatre. The piece was wonderful and all enjoyed it, from the kiddies right up to the adults, Penny and I included. The wolves themselves were excellently done.
Thought of the day: When the wolves come out of the walls, !

Sunday the 16th
Meeting the ‘rents was happily painless. The sacrifices we make just to make a good impression. Even drinking Hock.

Monday the 17th
Thought of the day: None. Total relaxation as I had the day off for a change and used it to do absolutely nothing.

Tuesday the 18th
Presentation in .
Thought of the day: If I just muscle my way through this presentation, all these people might not realise how nervous I am.
Motto of the day: Fake it ’til you make it.

Wednesday the 19th
Presentations, workshops, blah blah blah. The evening was a pirates themed night of entertainment at . Think five hour dinner show where the cast are also serving food and drinks (unlimited) and getting you to take part in the singing, dancing and the conga. After three congas (out of eight) I gave up and decided I’d had enough of enforced fun and it started to feel like an army of gaudily dressed Butlins animators were brainwashing us by singing at us in Dutch.
Thought of the night: You’d think with 40+ project team members on a stage, at least one of them would know the way to Amarillo?

Thursday the 20th
Presentations, workshops, blah blah blah.
Thought of the day: I’m so glad I didn’t abuse the ‘drink as much as you want’ at the show last night, and thankfully my delegates did.

Friday the 21st
Home vie Schiphol. Hurrah! Then pizza, beer and cocktails with Penny on a tour of Woking before collapsing, exhausted.
Thought of the day: Should I be worried that I know Schiphol so well that I can give directions despite not having been there for well over a year?

Saturday the 22nd – Salute
After grabbing some breakfast bagels in town, it was time tohead to London to meet up with Bryce and Tim at . Managed to play some games, generally catch up and avoid too much lead poisoning. Wizkids stand very dissapointing as there was no demo of High Stakes Drifter and a poor showing of the new demo. Looked okay though.
Afterwards, at exactly Beer O’Clock, off to the for coktails while we waited for Penny to show up.

Saturday the 22nd – Pirates & Wenches Party
Saturday night was ! (click for photos; ) The theme of the party was Pirates and Wenches and everyone, to differing degrees, dressed up accordingly. All good fun. By a stroke of luck Bryce and I caught a mysterious masked hoodlum who re-decorated Mandy’s beloved , and managed to scare him off before he/she managed to do any harm. We feel we deserve a good citizenship award at the very least.
Thought of the day: Yarr! (Of course!)

Sunday the 23rd
An early(-ish) start to head back home and nurse our hangovers doing boring unintellectual activities that wouldn’t tax our toxic brains. I watched , which was good, very different and powerful, And long. Also watched , a true rogue if ever I saw one.
Thought of the day: None. Thankfully.

Repost from here:

And now an update to the recent news about White Wolf’s forthcoming new World of Darkness product line, Promethean.

An ad in the back of World of Darkness: Chicago and World of Darkness: Armory contains the following quote from Chapter 4 of Frankenstein:

“Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay?”

Rumours, of course, abound about how this fourth main product line will develop. Personally, I would have thought that it would have worked better as a subset of World of Darkness, much like ‘Ghost Stories’ or ‘Antagonists’, which would make these created monsters into antagonists and protagonists. Instead, these Prometheans join Werewolves, Mages and Vampires as a player species. I guess that just leaves space for the resurrection of Wraith really.

So what kind of creatures are Prometheans? I guess the field is wide open, but it’s best to begin with Frankenstein’s Monster, as this is where all the teaser material is coming from. So, creations by mad scientists like sentient robots? Creations by occultists, like golems? Perhaps even spontaneously awakened inanimate objects, like the university in ‘Mysterious Places’ or the car in ‘Christine’? Or what about possessed items, like Ash’s hand in ‘The Evil Dead’ trilogy?

In short, nobody knows anything, and it’s all speculation. But it’s fun to speculate, isn’t it?


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No posts for over a week again, mostly due to going to Conception plus other reasons. All shall be detailed below.



Bryce described it quite fully here, but let me add the following observations:

  1. It was, as ever, a most excellent con. Easily the best and friendliest to go to and I will probably keep going until they stop running them or they bar me for conduct unbecoming.
  2. And on that last note, there was very little conduct unbecoming this time around as a whole. In fact it was wholly civilised (for us, anyway) and no acts of disrepute worth mentioning. Was this a glitch or is it just advancing age all round, plus the settling down of one of our number? Only time will tell.
  3. I would like to make it quite clear, in case there was any confusion, I did not partake in the act of… exercise down at the pool with Andy and Bryce. I took the time to prepare a game instead.
  4. More gaming for me than ever before! Including one day where I actually had filled every slot, instead of my normal act of leaving at least one slot free per day for hangovers, game prep or socialising. It made me remember that I do actually enjoy gaming and that one weekend ever 4-8 weeks probably isn’t enough.
  5. I really enjoyed runing the crossover a lot. Andy was hilarious, Bryce was well in character and Tim really was on fire. I’m so used to seeing players botch their dice rolls all the time that I actually often don’t have contingencies in place for when someone actually rolls stunning successes. Two things were learnt from this game:
    1. I’m crap at running convention games. I get too interested in the side “plots” the characters find and allow plenty of distractions to take place. I barely ever manage to stick to the four hour slot.
    2. I liked running Lethe and would like to run it a lot more so I can flesh the setting out properly. But I’m not giving up running Vampire for it.
  6. Chris Loizou, of , is a good GM in that his stories are engaging and fun and the CE setting is interesting. But the man is a sadist and loves killing characters off, I’m sure of it. And I’m fairly sure he likes it that way!

Sickness

I can be brief on this one. Basically I got what Bryce mentioned, and I had two days off. A few reasons:

  1. I fancied a couple of days off, project work has gotten boring as other teams are struggling to meet deadlines that I’m well ahead of
  2. Thinking was barely possible with a head that felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool (as opposed to sawdust like it normally is)
  3. I don’t believe in this heroic crap about coming in to work like death warmed up. Hurrah! You’ve dragged yourself off your deathbed to be only marginally productive at best, spread your germs and prolong your two day head cold into a full week! You genius!

Penny’s Birthday

A low key affair, as per her wishes. Gifts went down well, as did the meal I cooked. Result!
This weekends events could either include a cycle trek or a hike, plus some house hunting, but certainly no big party, so don’t feel bad that you weren’t invited. Nobody else was either.


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