Monday, August 27, 2012

Gamex 2012: Better Late Than Never

Our hero.
Hey, so Gateway is this weekend and I never even did a proper recap of Gamex. What can I say? I've been busy. In lieu of recapping -- and also because I'd like to recap GenCon sometime before November -- I'm just going to post some pictures of the Big Board and some props.

A brief recap of the storyline, though:

The Modron Hierarchy has decided that the Prime Material Plane, and specifically the plane-hopping adventurers therefrom, is a serious threat to Mechanus and the Hierarchy. They believe there's a correlation between extra-planar incursions from the Prime Material and the rising numbers of rogue modrons over the millennia. The obvious solution is to destroy the Prime Material, and thus preserve Order.

But you can't just destroy a plane of existence like that, not if you're a modron. There are procedures and protocols to follow. Forms to fill out, presumably. The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly. Plus, you have to be sure about these things, or the consequences could be dire. So Primus, the One, has decreed that representatives from the Prime Material [read: the PCs] will be subjected to a series of trials to determine whether the plane is worthy of continued existence.

The modrons have spent thousands of years getting this all in motion. A big part of it has been the creation of what I guess we can call "habitats" -- geographical areas designed to support, and then seeded with, certain lifeforms, or combinations thereof. In most cases, the lifeforms in question aren't even aware they're living in and perpetuating this weird experiment for the Hierarchy. [Read: A lot of wacky dungeons and stuff are actually artificial constructs built by the modrons as part of the trials. F'rinstance, one of the trials was White Plume Mountain.]

To make the Primes feel at home, the modrons have constructed a little town in Mechanus meant to emulate what they see as the adventurer's natural habitat. But the base modrons who created it are somewhat lacking creativity, so the illusion is... incomplete. It's called Town. There's an inn called Inn, a tavern called Tavern, a "general store" called Store, a temple labeled Temple, and so on. It's like putting a frog in a jar with a leaf and a stick and expecting him to feel like he's back in the forest. The Primes they've abducted and brought here form the pool of PCs (and most hirelings) for the weekend's five game sessions.

What with one thing and another, the finale Sunday night involves a massive war between the armies of the Hierarchy and those of the rogues (La Resistance), the latter of which are led by a PC (Ajax, the Halfling Fighter) and Rinaldo Two-Eyes, the charismatic tridrone leader of the rogues. Simultaneously, the other PCs, in an attempt to disable Primus' pool of positive energy from which new modrons are generated as quickly as they die, end up attracting the attention of a giant demonic owlbear named Isgoth, the Apocalypse Dragon, the sea-god Procan, and a formless elven life-force. All of these converge in the body of Hawthorn the Inconstant, a cleric of mercurial faiths and loyalties (who, during the course of the weekend, has served both Isgoth and Procan), as he drowns in the massive pool of positive energy.

The result is the creation of the Prime Material Plane. Or a Prime Material Plane, anyway.

Retroactively, we called the weekend's chronicle Deux Ex Mechanus.

Anyway, here are some pictures. (Looks like some of these need rotating -- sorry!)

The Big Board, recopied.

The size of OH MY GOD!

Sharp-eyed readers may recognize Pelanor and his order of paladins from
the first Living Dungeon World, back at OrcCon.

Bet you didn't know the Prime Material Plane experiences a constant, global Aurora Borealis.
You've lived with it so long you don't even notice it anymore!

Non-elven rangers don't speak with any particular conviction, I guess.


A bunch of props: magic items, hirelings, modron allies, and XP cards.
XP cards, doubling as postcards. Every player got one.

Three-Fingered Pete!
Wave, whose powers convinced Hawthorn to give Procan a try.

That's it! See you at Gateway!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gamex 2012: Some Pics of the Big Board

Finally got around to taking a few pictures of our Living Dungeon World Big Board o' Facts. Right now, those facts are still in sticky-note form. I'll recopy them on the board for improved legibility and post a recap of the weekend soon, but I thought I'd post some pictures just to give you an idea of what went on. (Disclaimer: They will give you no idea of what went on.)

An overview of the chaos.
Multiple Prime Material Planes, and my shameless AD&D cribbing.
Isgoth, an owlbear the size of "OH MY GOD!"
Halflings are boring homebodies who do parkour. "Boring" is a relative term here.
Bards : Narcotics :: Kobolds : Hot Oil.
Halflings are complicated. (Also, more S2 nonsense.)
Rinaldo, daring two-eyed leader of the Modron  Rebellion!
Shh! Don't tell the Protectors of Dragonmount their lives have lost all meaning.
 Confused yet? That makes three of us.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gamex 2012: LDW Change-Up

Little change of plans for Living Dungeon World at Gamex. It's still on. We're just trying something new.
I'd previously alluded to us doing something very much like what we did at OrcCon, but we've since decided to scale things back a bit. In part this is because two of our GMs from OrcCon won't be around for Gamex (Hamish has returned to his ancestral homeland of New Zealand for the summer, and Andrew recently relocated to the Bay Area), and while Colin will be around he'll be running the Houses LARP on Saturday night, so he'll have his hands full with that. So with our numbers thusly reduced, it seemed, shall we say, foolhardy to try to replicate what we did last time. New plan!

Jesse and I have recruited one Vernon Lingley into our ranks -- whom, if you are lucky, you already know -- and the three of us will be running a total of five Dungeon World sessions over the course of the weekend. Yes, that's cut down from the 10 previously scheduled, but we have an idea that turns the smaller scale to our advantage, story-wise. Please join me in hoping we're right.

The new schedule is as follows:
Saturday, 9:00 am
Saturday, 2:00 pm
Saturday, 8:00 pm
Sunday, 2:00 pm
Sunday, 8:00 pm

So nothing Friday night, and one game in each standard Saturday and Sunday slot except Sunday morning, because seriously. If the schedule doesn't currently reflect these changes, it will soon enough.

Did you know that pre-reg for Gamex starts tomorrow, Saturday the 5th, at about noon? I did not know that until last night! It's a good thing I didn't have to do any last-minute scrambling or anything to make sure I had enough hours to get a GM badge! HAHAHA.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Games Chef and Fu: Design Contest Updates

So hey, this happened: My Game Chef entry, The Eleventh Hour, is a Finalist. Pretty cool! I was more than a little surprised to discover that, to be honest -- not because I'm not proud of my work, but because seriously, there were 96 other entries this time around. And 15 of them were in Italian! How'm I gonna compete with that? Apparently, the answer is "Somehow."
The bell pepper symbolizes games.
Anyway, I'm pretty psyched about this turn of events, because it means I've made the Finals three years in a row now, which certainly feels like a feat. I kinda don't really count 2010's Action City, which may be unfair, but the Finals for that year didn't even involve any peer review or any real critical process. Still, I did get positive feedback about it, so I'm not dismissing it altogether.

I do not expect to win, nor do I care one way or the other about winning (honestly!). There were a ton of really interesting, innovative entries this year -- there always are, but the sheer volume of entries means that there were just more -- and I'm honored to be counted among them, competition or no. So... thanks, peers!

(And, obviously, "winning" Game Chef is... well, it's a thing that happens, sure, but simply entering -- sticking to the constraints and finishing a game by the deadline -- is where it's at. It's about learning and refining your skills, not scoring accolades.)

Right on the heels of Game Chef's conclusion comes another Game Fu competition! There hasn't been one of these in over two years, so it's cool that it's starting up again. The ingredients are interesting without being too limiting (which is good or bad, depending on your point of view), and from the time I saw it'd been announced I just assumed that I'd submit something.

But y'know... Game Chef just ended, and I have, like, paid game-design work to do*, not to mention music to write and games to plan, so I really do think I'll do the responsible thing and sit this one out. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't enter, if you're so inclined. Check out the ingredients and get something together by next Wednesday. It'll be fun, and you'll be glad you did it. I speak from experience!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gamex 2012: Living Dungeon World

Hey! We're bringing Living Dungeon World back for Gamex, this Memorial Day Weekend. What's Living Dungeon World? Glad you asked!


It is a world of monsters and heroes,
gods and demons,
swords and sorcery,
and Evil.

This is your world.

And it's alive.
Living Dungeon World is a weekend-long series of connected heroic-fantasy games. Play in as many or as few games as you like. Start as a lowly villager Friday afternoon and forge your legend over the course of the weekend, or drop in on one of the nine sessions just to see what this whole awesome thing's all about. 

Change the world, or just visit it. It's up to you.

New to Dungeon World? No problem! Dungeon World is a simple system based on Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World, but focused on action and adventure rather than interpersonal drama. No previous experience is required, and all GMs will be happy to have first-time players at the table.

Ten sessions. Many GMs. One world.

Unlimited adventure!

Two separate games in each of these time slots:
Friday 2:00 pm
Friday 8:00 pm
Saturday 2:00 pm
Sunday 2:00 pm
Sunday 8:00 pm


For those of you who participated in Living Dungeon World at OrcCon and are wondering what it's all going to be about this time (now that Orcus has been killed)... well, you'll find out at Gamex. But I will say that we're moving the timeline along a few decades. This lets us use the best of the Big Board for inspiration without making anyone feel like they're tied down to a bunch of setting information. And yes, we'll be bringing back the Big Board again (and every time, I imagine, because it's a lot of fun). 

Also, if you've been following the development of Dungeon World, you probably know it's gone through some significant changes since February, and may go through a bit more before Gamex is upon us. What does that mean for us? We'll likely put our own touches on it, like we did last time -- apparently, DW SoCal Style is kind of its own beast -- but it'll still cleave close to the current revision (which, as of this post, is Beta 2.2). 

Monday, April 16, 2012

[Game Chef] The Eleventh Hour

A number of readers wrote in about Game Chef, and both of them asked, "Hey, when does the next Game Chef start?"

The answer: Last week!

Next question: When's the submission deadline?

Answer: About 90 minutes ago!

Yeah, sorry I didn't mention anything about it until now. Honestly, I've just been busy with stuff, including my own Game Chef entry, and ended up not getting around to posting about it in time. So... I hope you found out about it on your own and submitted something, because I was useless in that regard.

Anyway, the theme was "Last Chance," in honor of the imminent demise of The Forge. I'm sure it'll produce a lot of lighthearted, fun little games. Like my game.

This is a game about four cultists working in the shadows to bring about the end of the world. The Grand Convergence – an alignment of heavenly bodies that only occurs once a millennium – approaches, and with it a rare opportunity to call forth an otherworldly entity of unimaginable power into the Earthly plane. Extradimensional portals don't just open themselves, though. It's going to take a lot of effort on the cultists' part to drown the world in blood and darkness. 
However, all is not what it seems. At the eleventh hour, one of the cultists is revealed to be an investigator in disguise, working from within to foil the cult's plans. But will it be enough to save the world? Or will the cultists make good on this last chance to summon their dark god?
The rules are here. The character sheets are here. The cult sheet is here.

Happy end-of-the-world!

Friday, March 16, 2012

OrcCon 2012: Living Dungeon World Pictures

So! I finally got around to taking some pictures of the Big Board at Living Dungeon World last month.

The Big Board was... well, it was the big board on which we tracked all of the emergent world-building stuff that came up during play. Whenever a player or GM came up with a detail about the world, like the name of a god or an important past event, or when something significant happened in play, like and outstanding warrant or a character death, we'd write it down on a Post-It and stick it on the board. At some point, I transcribed most of those notes onto the board itself.

Since we all had such a good time with Living Dungeon World at OrcCon, we're pretty set on doing it again for Gamex in May. The idea is that we'll have another Big Board, but the setting we collectively created at OrcCon will serve as a foundation on which to build. It should also be noted that none of us really knows what we're doing, and we're pretty much making it all up as we go.

Anyway. Here are a bunch of pictures!

The big picture of the Big Board.

They killed Orcus. Spoiler alert!

Elves have animal eyes. Goblins don't have toes. Advantage: elves.

It all started in the Hollows (and half-ended in Dusk's Harbor).

Chopps wins the prize for awesomest death.

Emory made... quite an impression.

What's worse: the rampaging colossal, corrupted water elemental or a place called the City of Skulls?

Steel cage match, Pelanor vs. Osgood! Two gods of mercy enter, two gods of mercy leave!

Yes, that does say "street wizards."

These are a little hard to read, but they're records of Boots' shrines to the Banshee Queen. That guy was crazy for shrines.