[Classic] Summary 4/5 session [4/6/2014]

March 28, 2018

I started running Rokugan 1600 (by running a session set in about 1504).  There are certain things I continue to find odd when I run stuff, but I don’t know if this the time to beat that expired pony.

Instead, let me cover a few things and then post my recap of what happened back when I was having lots of fun playing a bushi with an Awareness of 5.

In our Conan play, Brad would reward session writeups, fictions, bringing food, etc.  This group agrees that this sort of encouragement to write about the campaign or otherwise contribute should be done.  My current idea is to give people Destiny Marks (TM) [uh, sure, the game is out of print …].  These Destiny act as Void Points that can only be spent when a PC is out of Void.  They are one-use in case that wasn’t obvious.  I’m already thinking that I should clarify that they can be used as VPs for any character, including other PCs and NPCs.

Why this mechanic and not, say, a Destiny Mark is worth a Free Raise on a roll or a reroll?

Success versus survival.  L5R is not strong on ways to save your character when the explosions go off.  Typically, it’s the GM who saves you by just not keeping high damage dice.  VPs are a temporary defense through ATN increase or damage reduction that doesn’t break the game like having a 51 ATN in 4e breaks the game.  Meanwhile, FRs on rolls do jack on defense, being “offensive” in nature.  And, I’m pretty tired of rerolls luck and right.

Of course, I could do both, rewarding different contributions in different ways.

Of some possible interest to GMs is that I started this campaign off with a prologue session.  Rokugan 1600 is a sequel of sorts to all sorts of stuff but most directly to Heroes of Rokugan 2.  The first session was March Unto Death, one of the last mods in HoR2 and one that fed into the final battle interactive.  Not only am I a fan of MUD for some interesting mechanics and for incentivizing things I like doing (and, yet, things that my players don’t like doing for some reason that escapes me … let it go, dude … let it go), but it fits the theme of Rokugan 1600 really well with the Crab being screwed, Tattooed Folks getting in the action, et al.

Obviously, the players would not be playing the same characters in the prologue and the main campaign.  The intent was that their PCs in the past would through their actions or inaction or whatever inform some aspect of their real PCs.  For instance, a simple way to go would be that the past PC would be the ancestor to the 1600 PC.  But, all sorts of things could have been possible.  I thought it went okay, where a group more comfortable with the idea could get more out of such narrative tricks.

More to come on 1600, but let’s get to why this is a classic post.  I was trying to find a description of a Bayushi NPC from the Princess Police when I came across this session recap:

**     **     **     **     **

Players: Michele, Jackie, Ian

Because we had only the three players, it was a question whether to do some personal social stuff or reconvene 4/12. With Michele/Izumi enthusiastic about helping Shosuro Nanami get ball-and-chained, we were off.

According to Izumi, Nanami wanted Isawa Masusuke to breed with Hiruma Masami (rather than her), and Izumi thought Nanami and Seppun Nana would make a cute couple. To promote Nanami for tying the knot with the Emperor’s youngest son, Izumi went to the Lion Champion and called him out for ducking the far superior go player, Nanami. Kidai was hanging around some imperial types and marketed the match, which got the ole Compassionate One to witness this friendly between the Lion and the Scorpion. Nanami beat Akodo Kurojin 32 to 29 and Mirumoto Tomo backed up the carrot gallery’s comment about wondering what other hidden talents Nanami possessed.

Next up was showing off Nanami’s samisen skill. No, the rock duet with Bengi didn’t happen, but there was a tea party to reflect upon the ending of Winter and more Amaterasuish days ahead. Hantei got invited and knowing that it was the place to be for all of the cool folks, they showed up. Daniwa did the tea thing with a bunch of Hantei, the Master of Fire, and some other folks watching. Nanami nailed the muzak. End result? Nanami has some momentum for locking up Nana.

To get the two swimsuit models to notice each other, Kidai made a call out for models to help him work on painting humanoids. In a shocking coincidence, Masusuke and Masami happened to be at the same session and it was noted by someone how smoking hot their kids would end up being. A bit of work on the Crab and Phoenix followed up on the “pretty people deserve the pain that comes with being together” concept. End result? Progress but unknown how much.

Crab and Phoenix were kind of inclined to be helpful as the EC got this Hare-raising idea to create a special maho-hating taskforce within the Emerald Magistrates. The idea to call them Diamond Magistrates (PR move to make Unicorn happy) went over less well. Well, whether they get called Pearl Magistrates, Opal Magistrates, Crystal Magistrates, or whatever, who cares? The important thing was opening up some positions well-suited to Crab and Phoenix (also, maybe it gets Yasumi and Izumi and maybe even us nobodies a promotion). Now, the Phoenix were already right-thinking, but the Crab were persuaded to think about how suitable Bayushi Saya would be as 1st Imperial Legion Commander, seeing as how so many Crab would be busy being imperial magistrates. If someone could have come up with a good angle for getting the Unicorn to abandon Yoshi and go with Saya, that would have locked things up for Team Floppy Arthropods. But, Kidai needed some “nap” time.

We were done in a bit less than 3 hours.

The Best of … 2014

December 31, 2017

Our annual exercise in calling out what was notable from three years prior.


[Classic] Yu-Gi-Oh! meets V:TES [10/19/2002]

I never got much response to this as an email or as a blog post.  Every time I read it I’m reminded that sometimes I entertain myself in profound ways.  Lot of times I only write somewhat along the lines of what I want to; this is a case of writing just the way I wanted to.  This and old tournament reports help justify the [Classic] posts.

Is it better to watch episodes of YGO! first or read this first?  Note that I don’t think you need to know anything about V:TES besides that it’s a card game for this to have some level of meaning.

Might, Right, Or Contrite

I don’t feel strongly about this post, but, given how popular my L5R mechanics posts are, this seems like one that the 4e players might want to take a look at if they haven’t.



Profound?  Not so much.  I didn’t analyze courtier schools as much as analyzed them for my own interests, which has little application to others.  However, I did settle on my two HoR4 possibilities being a Miya Herald and an Asako Loremaster, with the latter maybe being a better choice in hindsight and the former working adequately.

Finish Line

A callout because I don’t think this got a lot of attention, though I may have lost so much of my old V:TES audience that anything V:TES is not going to get as much attention.  While I didn’t aim for solutions to other people’s problems, I thought I did a good job of pointing out reasons card floppers seem to struggle building V:TES decks more than they do other CCG decks.

Btw, while I’m fine with V:TES continuing as was, if I were going to reboot it, card limits.  Card limits produce a far more digestible game.

Orccon 2014

I was really getting to like how California decided to play with each other.  The reason to highlight this post was not only because it was a last hurrah of sorts but because it’s good balance for me to point out when I suck, even when it doesn’t involve wandering around Berlin.


That I may read Xanth novels or watch Inuyasha or whatever may not be touchstoney enough for my audience, but one hopes the audience knows something about Sherlock Holmes.  I thought this did tie together something important about gaming with an important observation about more mainstream entertainment.


Review – Book of Water

It’s long, therefore it must be good.  Insert banal joke.  Why call this out and not Book of Fire review in the previous Best of …?  Well, I did kind of call out Book of Fire by not calling it out.  My frustration with the rather poor series got me motivated to explain why I thought early 4e supplements were superior supplements.

Eject The Tape

If you understand why this report of casual V:TES play is … important? … interesting? … entertaining?, then I think you get more value out of my blog.  If you think this was dumb, especially the play reporting, then I’m going to disappoint at times.  If I beat a zombie pony with certain comments in various posts, this sort of post cuts to the heart of the matter (in a far more subtle and therefore geniusy way).

Bushi Analysis – Extended

Is it heartening or disheartening that so much of what gets read in my blog are posts like these?  Did I ask this question before?  I used to have an audience for V:TES, and I get why that doesn’t seem to be as important because I don’t play as much and, thus, spend less time talking about the game and people I used to play with don’t and, maybe, there are fewer people playing in general.  I wonder what V:TES players do consume.  Regional forums?

Anyway, I rated stuff.  I’m not aware of anyone else rating this sort of stuff, therefore I win the blogosphere?  I could try to clickbait by putting this sentence in my preview – Kim K. or Haifa Wehbe hotter in her prime?  I’ve never used a picture of the former for a NPC, I did use the latter (also Adriana Lima in a very different campaign).  All I got was comments about how HW wasn’t what people thought of as a “girl next door”.

I haven’t really changed my opinions on how bushi rank.  Maybe I’d get more argument from folks if I posted on forums instead of in a place where I can control the message.

Generic Bushi School

Speaking of winning.  Look, everybody has bad ideas and a lot of people have good ideas.  I just happen to have good ideas that occasionally get shared (when I’m not sharing bad ideas).  And, no, I don’t think the R-5 technique is overpowered compared to other R-5 techniques in 4e.

Strong Sorrows?

I had a coworker note that I was dead inside (recently).  Is that better than being dead outside?  Seems like it.  I enjoyed putting together this post.  Again, I got really, really tired of doing the Zodiac posts back in the day.  I should have fun on rare occasions.  Harkening back to yesteryear pleasures me (well, when it’s about things like gaming).

That aside, what’s the importance of this post?  Look, I have done things others haven’t.  Sure, I’m not likely to be a Hatamoto in the L5R LCG and I was never a World Champion at any CCG I was ranked in the top 10 in the world for and I’ve never been credited with breaking a non-playtest play environment and I have lots of opinions on things I don’t know jack and diane about.  But, I’ve also taken a number of CCGs seriously.  There’s some probability I may know something rather than just blogging made up words.

On another note, I stopped reading Magic articles because they became hard to read.  Why do people do that?  I may not particularly want to play Magic, but I find Magic interesting.


HoR Strategy

Is HoR important to me?  Right this last day of 2017?  Today, no.  Yesterday, no.  Day before that, no.  Pretty much since Gen Con 2017 ended, no.  And, that’s become the norm.  This post addresses why it’s so easy to lose the plasma on HoR play.

That being said, I’ve gotten a lot out of HoR.  I really like 3e/3r/4e basic mechanics.  I’ve had some great play experiences.  I’ve met some people I really enjoy doing things with.  I played in an epic home game because of HoR.  So, at some point, I’ll look to ramp up, again.  We might be able to play some missed mods next weekend.  It’s just brutal how disengaged I become during the months when there isn’t anything going on.




BattleTech Scenario Building

I did post stuff in May and June, in case you want to relive more of my 2014.  This post has to be great … cuz I’ve seen it get some continuous reads in 2017.  BattleTech is such an interesting game in that it’s often awful to play yet is so evocative.  Well, it can be fun … and I tell you how.


Sure, my Gen Con 2014 post was long.  They usually are.




Ah, a rant about gear.  Or, is it?  Maybe I just feel like calling out one of the easiest to read pieces of Statesish, ever.

The Road To Mana

This has very little to do with gaming.  But, it hints at something that I’ll mention because I doubt other people would make the same connections.  I’m quite fortunate to be able to have a variety of first-world problems.  Gaming in the form I consume it is a first-world activity.  Gaming can be really easy.  Bust out Advanced Squad Leader and make up some homebrew rules for simultaneous turns and you are platinum.  But, sometimes, you can run into problems of people having other things they need to do besides play games, like raise children or work.  Here, my problem was that I was getting closer to living an adventure yet couldn’t make a connection to improving my gaming experiences, something so ridiculously first-worldy that I get … amused.  Now, that’s not all downside since I get to Beware of Invisible Cows, keep it real, et al.  This is not the post to get much out of, unless you want something from this blog besides gaming thoughts, like tourist suggestions on the Islands.

I do seem to have some portion of audience who finds travel log stuff more interesting.  Btw, would you be shocked to hear that my ideal lifestyle would be “travel the world and play games”?


Exploring Villainy

It has been said that actors prefer villains because those are meatier roles.  While this post isn’t likely to be helpful to others, it does clarify why I’m a villain vegan.

Lo, The Fun

Do you play CCGs?  Do you enjoy them?  Why are CCGs the best form of competitive gaming ever?  The Fun.

L5R Campaigns

I believe there’s plenty of room for other types of L5R campaigns.  Now, I don’t see the people I play with being into some of the types, but they exist.  Where this has maybe a touch more value than it seems is that it was before I started running LBS – Black Water Lake [sigh], and it helped inform things I tried in that campaign, a campaign I was actually more happy with than most.  I’m still into the idea of LBS as a setting (well, part of a setting) because it addresses some of the problems Rokugan has a setting.  (Topic for another time?)


Clan Cards – Camarilla

I do try to use my analytical awesomeosity to be helpful, even if nobody cares.  *weep*

Note that there are two other posts in this series, but I don’t feel energetic enough to link them.

RPG Fiction Guide

You know what else my two long-running campaigns had?  My writing fics for them.  It adds so much to the experience.  So much of game time is spent on combat, rolling dice outside of combat, arguing about what to do, arguing about treasure splits [not really but sadly this has actually happened], looking up rules, etc.

Well, that was a lot of posts.  As much as I feel like I’ve lost some of the magic early on with more profundity, I also can see where I can keep going far, far into the future.  As long as I throw numbers into more posts.

The Story of O … -tomo Junhime and Usagi Kidai

March 20, 2016

I started writing that NPC post I alluded to.  Then, I had more urgent topics.  I was going to use this as an example, either tacked on to the end (possibly not ideal since reading lots of my posts is already so time consuming) or as a follow up.  But, I mentally inhabited a space that led me to start thinking about the campaign that ended last Summer, even wrote a fiction set after the campaign was over, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to post this to the playgroup for some time, just waiting to see if the GM wrote some sort of unexpected ending.

So, if I ever post the next NPC “here’s how PCs can interact with NPCs” post, can consider this an example of what I find to be the least effort – romance.

**     **     **

The Story of O … -tomo Junhime and Usagi Kidai

Usagi Kidai discovers that Otomo Junhime is one of the attendees of Winter Court spreading malicious gossip about Otomo Yasumi having an affair with Kaiu Hikosada.  [Session #32]

“I’m happy to observe your cousin, my lady.”  (Kidai to Yasumi)  [Session #34]

Junhime approaches group after Doji Shorai is outed as … Crane.  “Yasumi-chan, always surrounded by such handsome and virile gentlemen.”  Kidai replies, “Not just handsome and virile gentlement but also surrounded by beautiful women, including those who just visit.”  AWA/Sincerity.  Follows up with twinkling, AWA/Temptation.  <GM_Chris> You are certain you saw Junhime nod at you in appreciation.  [Session #34]

Later, Kidai chats with Junhime about her interests – “father always fascinated with sumai” – and some of the competitions.  Still later, while at the archery range to practice, write out the kanji for “sharumu” while Junhime is looking on, requires five rolls of Kyujutsu, all pass (ranging from 29 to 48).  Junhime talks up Kidai’s archery skill.  [Session #34]

Junhime approaches Kidai after opening ceremonies of WC.  Kidai talks about focusing his attention on her during the ceremonies and about making others happy, Junhime looks sad for a moment.  [Session #36]

Cousin of Isawa Daniwa wants assistance, eight days away from WC, Junhime seems sad when Kidai leaves.  [Session #37]

Junhime wants to go on a picnic at some nearby waterfalls.  Just Yasumi and Dove, Daniwa, Moshi Izumi, Bayushi Tanaka, and Kidai to go with her and one of her handmaidens.  Junhime wants to go swimming.  Yasumi, Izumi, Tanaka, and Kidai join her.  Junhime pulls Kidai’s leg, surfaces, and splashes him.  Yasumi finds the horseplay amusing.  Junhime dunks Kidai.  Junhime almost falls off cliff, Daniwa saves her.  Junhime offers battle formation plan while returning to Pale Oak Castle, Kidai takes interest.  After returning to WC, bit of flirting.  [Long OOC conversation about Kidai’s IC plans.]  [Session #38]

Kidai works on crafting a yumi as a gift for Junhime.  All five rolls (one to use workshop at Pale Oak Castle) are made and yumi is completed.  During fireworks display, Junhime and Kidai chat and arrange a walk in the woods, that ends up being chaperoned by a maid.  [Session #39]

Goose hunt.  Kidai presents the yumi as a gift.  Junhime and Kidai stay close together during the hunt.  Junhime gets some assistance from Kidai on murdering geese, she bags two.  Kidai bags … three.  Junhime is happy.  [Session #40]

Sumai competition.  Junhime is interested in that.  Kidai is interested in … something else.  A good, but not great, time is had while Junhime is still excited by the competition.  [Session #41]

<GM_Chris> So, are you going to focus your efforts on Junhime or Rin?
<Usagi_Kidai> Junhime is always the top … priority.
<GM_Chris> I figured as much.  [Session #41]

Shinjo Mikael knows how to ride a horse.  Kidai gains experience in horseless riding.  Junhime has some concern about being discovered.  Rumors of others doing naughty things helps cover for the two.  [Session #42]

Return from helping Jurojin out.  Junhime is quite excited by Kidai’s return as Kidai was gone for more than a week.  Kidai is quite excited at putting his Stamina of 3 to work.  [Session #44]

Riding competition.  Oh, and there’s the WC’s Riding event, as well.  There’s pillow talk, but Junhime never talks about her future.  [Session #45]

Kidai spends a lot of time thinking about the situation with Junhime when away from Pale Oak Castle.  His thinking is interrupted by the shameless Buttercup.  [Session #47]

Archery competition.  Kidai starts calling Junhime Kikujo-chan in private as a sign of affection.  Kidai tries to encourage Junhime to participate with her gift.  Junhime doesn’t think she’s good enough.  Suggestion that Junhime is interested in more than just Kidai’s well-used body.  [Session #48]

Bayushi Komaki implies that Kidai has an invitation for some private Scorpion time.  Junhime is displeased when Komaki talks to Kidai.  [Session #49]

Hantei Hanahime wants to talk with Junhime and thinks Kidai should tag along.  Stairway railing is unkind to Hanahime who grabs Junhime and both start to tumble.  Kidai has immense relief when neither plunge to their deaths.  [Session #50]

Polearms competition.  Junhime is unhappy about Kidai talking to Komaki.  Kidai points out that not flirting with Komaki would be suspicious … and that only supernatural possession or the like would cause him to be physically unfaithful with another woman at Winter Court.  Junhime calms down but doesn’t want Kidai seeking Komaki out.  The Emperor asks Kidai to sit with the family due to Junhime providing a reference (goose slayer, yumi crafter).  [Session #51]

Kidai starts working on his first novel as a gift to Junhime where the main character, a Rokugani Princess who ends up on another world, a world of monsters(!) and magic(!), one might say a fantasy world, portrays how he thinks of her as the best thing ever and how she should think of herself.  Seiji is confronted.  Attack on the Imperial Family.  Kidai rushes to assist Junhime while others focus on other family members.  Junhime is not under attack, Kidai borrows her yumi to use to fight off the metal kumo attacking the Emperor, Crown Prince, and Crown Princess since he doesn’t wander around the castle with either his yumi or a naginata/nagamaki.  [Session #53]

Because of Kidai’s promotion from helping save the Emperor’s family, Junhime works on making Kidai appear to be legit enough to be a suitor.  Kidai’s novel is still being illustrated by Shiba Toyoka and calligraphized by Tsugumi and Kidai is working on content.  Emperor gets attacked again, Kidai Guards Junhime.  Kidai almost dies fighting oni and friends when party separates Seppun Nana from an oni.  [Session #57]

Junhime expects Kidai to continue to do “amazing things” (of the socially acceptable sort) to enable everyone else to think of him as suitor material as she’s fallen for Kidai.  GM makes the rolls for the novel.  [Session #61]

First use of Kharmic Tie (Otomo Junhime) when fighting Gaijin assassins trying to kill the Imperials.  [Session #63]

Kidai suggests a farewell to WC picnic with Junhime, Yasumi, and Hanahime.  “Amazing thing” – the picnic happens.  Kidai has second novel’s story completed but needs Tsugumi to calligraphize before Junhime receives it.  Kidai leads escort duty for Junhime and others returning to Otosan Uchi, Yobanjin attack.  [Session #64]

Mantis Isles, time to shop for a present for Junhime – Kidai considers things he gives her are “presents” now and not “gifts”.  [Session #65]

In Tsuma, Kidai talks to Yasumi about Junhime; Yasumi wonders if she has fallen for someone and who that might be.  [Session #71]

Junhime finally makes it to Tsuma for the Topaz.  Kidai gives her the present he got for her on the Mantis Isles – Pachisi set.  When he returns to his room, U. Kidai finds a watercolor of maidens watching archers shoot at targets with geese flying in the background.  Junhime will be setting out for Ryoko Owari to end her mourning period.  [Session #76]

Junhime insists Kidai go play with his friends and murder some bandits for the “glory”.  Kidai has her and her entourage set up observing bandit murder way too close by.  Kidai tries to tap her for her knowledge of Battle, as she was Kidai’s inspiration … for learning about formations.  First use of second point in Kharmic Tie.  Junhime’s maids make sure that the two won’t be bothered when spending nights at inns on the way to Ryoko Owari.  [Session #77]

Junhime wants to check out the Licensed Quarter.  Junhime’s eyes narrow when Kidai speaks to Bayushi Aiko privately at dinner.  Kidai is “reasonably certain” that Junhime will be safe guarded by the governor’s guards.  Junhime is good with Kidai running off to find bombers and going out to do her ritual thingy if he isn’t back soon.  Junhime gets abducted by Shosuro Shinen while off to her ritual thingy.  [Session #78]

The party chases after Shinen, catches up to him, and recovers Junhime, who doesn’t appear to be a shapeshifting impersonator.  [Session #79]

Kidai thinks it’s better for him to guard Junhime’s body 12 hours out of every day.  Usagi Toshihiro – Emerald Champion, Clan Champion, Big Bunny, Righteous Rabbit, High Hare, “Dad” – meets with Kidai privately and imparts:

“His Imperial Majesty informs me he is aware his youngest daughter
looks kindly upon you. Also, he tells me the Crown Princess spoke
favorably of you. He wished me to know he would consider you an
acceptable suitor for his daughter, were you to prove yourself worthy
of her. I suggest you take advantage of this opportunity to both rid
the Empire of this foul creature and demonstrate why you deserve to be
chosen to marry Otomo Junhime-sama.”

He also takes over personally protecting Junhime.  Junhime and Kidai don’t make it to the Licensed Quarter before Kidai needs to continue on to the Plains Above Evil.  Kidai goes late into the last night in Ryoko Owari discussing how to protect Imperial family members with Aiko and the Big Bunny.  Kidai carries his notes for third novel with him, mentions to Usagi Taka that he has papers to go to Junhime or Hanahime if he can’t deliver them himself.  [Session #80]

GM:  As previously mentioned by the EC, your efforts to bring about a successful end to the situation with Diwe, including being in command of victorious forces of a detachment of the First Imperial Legion, combined with your previous service to the Empire and Emperor has earned you the right to petition to wed Otomo Junhime.  You would take the Otomo name and be assigned responsibilities commensurate with your station and talents.  [Campaign Denouement]

The Best of … 2012

December 31, 2015

It’s that time of year, again, where we look back three years and see what was worth highlighting.

Old Time Fan

Timely, in how mahjong seems to be something I’m getting back into.  Whether people care for more non-gaming info about what I do, I don’t know.


As an analyst, I’m concerned with what’s wrong with things.  Negativity is my roti and korma.  Not only was I trying to be positive, I wish I was inspired to write more of these sorts of posts.  I’m also not writing much about V:TES these days, when there’s always something that could be written.  Not building decks as often has a lot to do with that.  Well, and not playing as often.

You There, In The Woods

I’m still in January.  Interesting thing about 2012 – I had a lot of time as I was between office jobs.  This post came from working on designing a CCG and realizing a key aspect of having CCGs be fun.

Barsoom Or Bust

Good post?  Not necessarily.  Sometimes, I just like to call out things.  I’ve reread the John Carter books (again, half of them don’t even have JC do anything) many a time.  As a reader of the Extended Universe of Star Wars, let’s just say I was more finer with The Force Awakens than in watching a questionable effort to bring John Carter into the 21st Century.

Page Of Myth

I’m certainly not going for good posts, anymore, with these Best Of … posts.  I seem to be going for tying the present into the past.  I found an Indian Mythology game and am running it.  Progress.

Egalitarian Experiment #1 – First Thoughts

I should do more of this sort of stuff.  What does it hurt?  I just add variance to my CCG play.

Ultimate Techniques

I often feel like I haven’t played a lot of the in games, these days.  Maybe there are systems that manage this topic, but I don’t see them.  Don’t need to model fiction to have cool stuff happen, but it’s possible that doing something to model fiction better will have cool stuff happen, ironically, more often.

Decision: 3r or 4e or 3.5

I will occasionally use this as a reminder of what I miss from L5R’s previous edition.


Just your typical CCG tournament report.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the one post to read for that year.  Though, if you don’t know V:TES, you won’t understand a lot …  Note that the follow up post for the other three tournaments depends significantly on this one.


A major theme of 2012 for me was trying to explain a variety of different things about how I engage with V:TES.  People drone on and on about building decks, but that’s not what multiplayer CCGs are about.  Wait, this post was all about building decks – doh!!  Even though 2012 had our largest local tournament, I so often see frustration from my fellow players (also true of other CCGs).  Games, people.  Have some fun.  … and build more decks.

Riddle Me This …

The player cares little for combat, but the GM loves it?!?

L5R Combat Guide

This was likely the point when my blog really became a L5R 4e blog with some other posts about who knows what.  Indefatigable is still the post to read for the year … because so many people have already read this one.  It seems obvious that there’s a massive call for RPG analysis in the blogosphere, as this shows up in my stats as a top read post.


Tricky topic.  Another theme of 2012 was my trying to figure out how to be better at GMing.

Annual TWDA 2012

I no longer have the motivation to generate these sorts of posts.  I miss how much The Lasombra kept data for the game.  One would think a database wouldn’t be that hard, but did Precedence CCGs or Shadowfist ever come anywhere close to what was done with V:TES in terms of data collection and display?


The most important post was, of course, the L5R Combat Guide, no matter how much more the topic could have used (fortunately, I followed up with a party combat guide in the past’s future).  While I don’t know about brilliant posts during the year, there were a lot of thoughtful posts, reflecting both that I was designing a CCG during the year and had lots of gaming time.

Gen Con 2015

August 4, 2015

Once upon a time, two intrepid adventurers commenced upon an adventurous quest.  The first shall be identified as Warrior.  The second shall hold the title of Steakshaker.

Before the light of Odin’s Day, Steakshaker and relative arrive at Warrior’s manse and proceed to take on supplies upon the hybrid wagon.  Sky transportation is without meaningful incident and our weary band arrives in the fabled realm of Indianas, taking the prepaid caravan, stopping at the Omni.

From hence, an arduous journey upon the South Street takes our virtuous explorers to the hinterlands, whereupon they discover the artisan academy that will act as their shelter for the grand convocation.

A muggy time is had within the big house that many a contest will see in the coming days, though it serves little purpose to Steakshaker in most annums.  Rather than partake of hot pastrami at a New York style deli, Warrior and Steakshaker march across vast bike paths upon Virginia’s Avenue and arrive at their destination for Chicago style deep dish.  Exotic fruits in the form of green, bell-shaped peppers join the remains of a noble Pepperoni Beast to satiate our famished protagonists.  Sadly, the savaging of the Pepperoni Beast resulted in the thinnest of meat portions, such that though the beast’s sacrifices could be espied upon the pizza, its flavorful meats were hardly made aware.

Thor’s Day

As is Steakshaker’s wont, one might say compulsion, he seeks the practical break of fast of a triple steakburger with no cheese, everything, and fries, eschewing the many years addiction of Barq’s Root Beer in a quest to keep the toxin that is triglycerides from building within his fragile frame.  Thus begins a daily dance of the merits of the corner tavern vis-à-vis the plethora of other possibilities.

Where Warrior joins a War of Flames, some might term a Flames of War, Steakshaker begins his annual quest with a trek into Rokugan, where many Heroes display their dueling and sake prowess.  Coming upon a band of idle samurai, Steakshaker convinces an inexperienced crew to join the artisanal Tattooed Monk, Hoshi Takumi, in a mission to escort a monk of the Tenth Kami.  The lordly master of games begins the rite by asking those most disconcerting words “Are any of your characters engineers/architects?”  Steakshaker rues this day, as his IR-4 Moshi, Suzume Bushi, with the Construction Emphasis of Engineering and INT of 4 would be a most inappropriate companion to the union that Steakshaker gathered.

An Aftermath occurs.  For mighty inhabitants of Rokugan known as campaign admins’ PCs have left a village in dire need of assistance rebuilding.  Tool are recovered.  Shrines cleaned.  The Inn and Homes are made habitable.  Arsonists are tracked down.  Yet, all of this takes much movement of the local star that cannot be seen from within the dwelling known as the Hyatt.  A combat is joined with bandits.  A duel breaks out with the Heroes’ Daidoji Iron Warrior.  Her victory sees an end to the drama in a modular structure.

Steakshaker ponders.  In the past, he has dealt with accompanying those whose investment in campaigns of the living sort is less than his own.  The frustration of the structure of individual missions and how they may run long, with little engagement of particular characters’ abilities, or may run short with little role-play satisfaction becomes only exacerbated when the grander scope and lifelong pursuit is not clear.

Steakshaker dispenses with his revelry and rushes unnecessarily to his next adventure.  Within the dwelling known as the Marriott (not to be confused with the Courtyard, the JW, or the various others), there is a table that he must establish himself at, to engage in the defense of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt, to support the Sudanese leadership as they try to preserve the ancient nation from Assyrian conquest.  Fortunately for the princess, the party consists of characters from the Nefertiti Overdrive system.  For they are animesque or akin to those of whom have their stories told in books with comic panels.

Steakshaker has not perused the tome known as Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  However, the quick start handout for Nefertiti Overdrive credits it.  The system is one of composing four dice (to begin with), using narration to justify using more powerful (if less explosive) dice.  World features are challenges.  To Steakshaker, it is along the lines of Dogs in the Vineyard and its brethren.  As Steakshaker explains mechanics, Steakshaker takes a moment to express concern over the impossibility of PCs failing beyond their own interest in narrating failure.  Theoretical impotence can occur due to poor management of resources, but, in Steakshaker’s vision, only the loss of time in inevitable success is the cost of activity.

Yet, for a single venture, at a convocation, such concerns are fairly unconcerning.  As the narrative intent underlying the system caters to those who favor the telling of stories over the accumulation of power or the desire for immersion.

Even in the lack of success in a time increment known as a round, a protagonist can inflict permanent changes upon their allies and enemies.  Such changes only feed their prowess.  Steakshaker’s PC is Serpent, a “Child of the Streets”, “Assassin”, who “Protects the Innocents” and is “Empowered by Seeing Evil Prosper”.  This heroic assassin works to stop some chump merc assassins from striking at the princess.  Thus begins a battle in a supposed traitor’s residence.  “Blinded” and “Tarred and Feathered” enemies are made to be “Stumbling”, “Bawling”, and “Flaming” as evolutions of their existences that are removed only upon the whim of the godlike protagonists.

Gathering intelligence from the true traitor, the band seeks an encampment within the desert.  A separate and not so well hidden outpost contains refugees.  Using the banal resource that is the Deadly Clown mortar, the Judges of Ammit, Assyrian patronized assassins, must face the firebreathing and clever juggling skills of a defender of Egypt.  Serpent disappears within the enemy camp, bolstered by the “Oblivious”ness of his enemies.  He encounters a dark soul who must be sacrificed to Ammit (yes, some may find the tale confusing) to free his own soul from Set’s clutches.

The leadership of the enemy has fled to the Cave of Scorpions.  With great wisdom, the party uses a scorpion compass to follow their scorpion allies to where they seek mates to perpetuate their glorious race.  Within the Valley of the Kings, little used by the current dynasty, the arachnids mutate, gaining “Bioluminescence”, “Leashed Lightning”, and “Growing”.  The passé (ahistorical) camels are fed to these giant creatures.  Having mastered the art of floor punching, the Misfit graduate of Egyptian(?) clown college breaks the cave’s hidden trapdoor, yet Assyrian ninja burst from it!  Serpent engages in a long, wearying duel with his foe in the traditional Egyptian assassin way of pretending to be honorable one on one combat where instead you bring your Giant, Glowing, Lightning-fast scorpions with a “Sense of Achievement” and who “Devour Courage” as well as some human allies into the fray to advance to the den of iniquity that is the Eye of Ammit’s lair.  He and his lieutenant are dispensed with, and the princess’s entourage leaves their glorious scorpion allies to breed in peace.

Steakshaker has time to rendezvous with those who are primarily companions through the power of magic, the passing of electrons across a web.  Steakshaker needs meat.  His companions are much more of the Oreo Milkshake sort.  Johnny’s Rockets contain such payloads and some discussion is had before the parting of others to Witchhunter and AEG’s RPG event, where Steakshaker bides his time to face Kult.

Aye, verily.  Kult.  Steakshaker possesses a tome of Kult (as well as some cards acquired much later after the CCG, yes, there was a CCG, was kaput).  Yet, Steakshaker did not recall experiencing Kult.  Steakshaker quickly experienced Kult by randomly getting the character with a sexual neurosis that led to molesting members of the spaceships crew while they were in cryosleep.  Now, let us not distract from what passes for greater evil within the world.  For, my PC had only cut a deal with the true PC villain who accidentally slew his wife and, then, proceeded to cause an outbreak of high tech, demon vampires by mixing science with a resurrection spell.

Much humor was had.  Allow these words to be written:

The player of the captain was hilarious with his nervous, indecisive paranoia.  “I want you to find a buddy and stick with them.  No one does anything alone.  We are going to go to the armory as a tightknit group, nobody wander off.  Whoa, hold on, don’t open that door.”

The captain and Dr. Dieter Hahn pull guns on each other.  Steakshaker’s PC, Dr. Marcus Weenz, surrepticiously pulls a gun and shoots at the infected captain’s shoulder.  Of course, Marcus misses.  Marcus drops his gun and pulls out a syringe and begins to stab at the captain.  While the doctor spends a considerable amount of time stabbing at the captain, the captain and the scientist continue their armed standoff until finally they begin shooting at each other.  Before the violence breaks out, Marcus does keep accessorizing his syringe stabbing efforts with an invocation to the captain to “shoot him!”.  Finally, the captain is sedated after the scientist’s leg is shot out.

The prettier crew members and the youthful sorcerer that none of us were familiar with among the crew manage to contain matters and restore the captain to non-demon-vampireness, while also bringing back Dieter’s wife from the dead who sees us all as monsters.  Thus fades out Kult.

It is Warrior’s conclusion, which Steakshaker is largely in agreement with, that Kult is neither something to run nor to play, yet Steakshaker still sees some value in aspects of the world, just finding the playing of such things as psychological deviancy to be less than inspiring.

Upon Steakshaker’s return to the artisanal shelter, where Warrior educates himself upon some bound scrolls, his opening comment is “I just finished playing a character whose primary activity is molesting women in their sleep.  But, I wasn’t the PC villain.”

Freya’s Day

Warrior and Steakshaker quest together to discover A Moment of Truth, the precursor to the mighty battle that is the penultimate stage of Spirits of Bushido.  As is typically the case, the band’s efforts are championed in the social arena by the Hida Berserker, the only PC to actually have Awareness 4.

The true conspiracy, among various in the campaign, is detailed, and a TN of 80 is defeated through the power of Hida Berserker political adroitness and the use of meaningless Favors.

Less rushed, Warrior and Steakshaker go to the nearby Patachou, a place Steakshaker has always had some misgivings for, though not with coherent reason.  A tad too pretentious for he who consumes morning triple steakburgers.  Steakshaker finds an item that is tolerable and consumes his egg salad sandwich on toasted sourdough and his fruit without any more suffering than one who spends about a third more lucre on such things as one wishes.  Warrior, however, suffers mightily at attempting to consume the Brobdingnagian slices of wheat bread that have expelled his turkey sandwich’s innards.  Steakshaker, who was never enthused by places with menus that do not cater to his culinary needs, decides to no longer suggest the highly reviewed cafe.

Warrior and Steakshaker split up.  Steakshaker must Chill.  Where Steakshaker may notice a theme of horror in his Gen Con 2015 experience, Chill is quite at odds with Kult.  A deceased criminal escapes his grave and rampages towards the residence of a woman who showed kindness to him.  A lesson for all women within all realms – do not treat men well, for they will get murdered by federal marshalls and hunt you down as a regenerating, reality warping, throat-crushing revenant before the shackles they wear when executed are used to bind them.

Warrior engaged in Eclipse Phase, a realm that holds no appeal to Steakshaker, though he has ventured within it, once.

The two questors reunite, Warrior became disgusted with the tavern upon the corner where unpleasant odors emanated, where Steakshaker, who lacked a need for a triple steakburger, instead consumed a cookie dough shake, that was adequate.

These are the adventures of the starship Artemis, on a two hour mission to not lead invulnerable space monsters to the human space stations, to insult enemy captains who are unmarried and do not follow their races’ religions, to repeatedly ram into enemy starships before learning how to control helm, to nuke as often as possible, to constantly repair horribly damaged front sections due to engaging enemy convoys chaotically.

Steakshaker is not the type to feel such experiences as awesome, such as his crewmates might, though Steakshaker found it quite pleasing, with the science officer role being far more interesting to his predilections than comms or even tactical.  Warrior amused himself with parody of some space going series that involves a spaceship and pointy-eared first officers.  Some obscure thing from the ’60s.

Returning to the artisanal shelter, it is realized the convocation is more than 50% depleted.

Saturn’s Day

Once again, Steakshaker is able to consume the nutrient-related triple steakburger breaking of fast, being required to place Warrior’s order with the tavern lass to avoid the bitter, yet unspoken, enmity that must reside between Warrior and corner taverns.  Correct repast is attained, if not one to assuage Warrior’s undying hatred of Steakshaker’s fast breaking locale.

This morn sees our two intrepid samurai join a table of IR-3/4 servants of Rokugan to claim Otosan Uchi from the conspirator and his minions.  Once again, Steakshaker does not associate in a dice-rolling way with such as John D. and Kyle, for they do not seek out Steakshaker with advance notice to scheme how to employ his mechanical creations in entertaining ways.

It is not the grand hazard that Steakshaker imagines it could be for their table.  Steakshaker does make the face to face acquaintance of Ezra, whose PC, Shosuro Shoyu, burns through spells at an alacritous clip.  Warrior does prove that shugenja own bushi with simple attacks in a one on one contest.  Steakshaker as well as Hida sit out initial engagement as kyujutsu rules the engagement.  Moshi Shigeo, devotee of going last, blessed be O’Saigo, in fact, accomplishes so little agony that only a house exploding about him inflict scratches.  His Hida cousin, for Shigeo descends from Osano-Wo, continues forward to face the conspirator and his mentally enslaved minions, his non-mentally enslaved minions, and whatever.  Steakshaker, Warrior, and John are called to the hall of expending funds while the finale continues.

Steakshaker, upon hearing how the finale functioned realizes his failure.  For, while a Suzume Bushi striving against the Empire’s greatest threats amuses, it does not amuse sufficiently.  No, it is what could have occurred in some implausible distortion of reality.  For, you see, Steakshaker had already designed Shigeo’s replacement based upon realizing the Truest Test.  Such replacement was of a different nature, perhaps.  Of an Asako Loremaster nature.  An Asako Loremaster designed specifically for being in the heart of battle.  Though, in something of a limited way.  For, this Asako Loremaster, of IR-2, would be rolling 3k1 Initiative.  This Asako Loremaster would be ATN 0 in Full Attack Stance, a Stance he would merrily embrace.  Atsukikame, the ultimate villain of HoR3, would claim ranks of one’s Earth Ring in battle.  Isawa Fumetsu, IR-2 Asako Loremaster, would claim “You fight like a courtier.” against such a feeble foe who would have to deprive the humble Phoenix of six of his ranks in the Earth Ring before “My honor appears greater than your soul.” would no longer be an accurate taunt.

Alas, Steakshaker is but a minute speck within the HoR milieu.  Far better for those who deserve to be rewarded with commendations and memories.

Warrior, Steakshaker, and John return to participate in court.  Steakshaker is not motivated, typically, at such proceedings for he rarely has coherent goals and finds LARPing exhausting.  This event is something of an exception.  Returning to his more fun character, Hoshi Takumi, Steakshaker proceeds to pursue his own personal interests while occasionally reporting back what information he can glean to his soon to be erstwhile clan.  For Takumi was set upon a distinct path from the very first court he attended.  His artisanal ways were promoted, as he strove under the patronage of Kakita Yoshi.  A number of Crane maidens had been encountered, at least one of which had a career setback due to her father’s treachery.  Steakshaker used up some of Daidoji Unaju’s time to arrange a betrothal to that maiden that would see the Tattooed Monk depart the mountains for weal.

One Doji Sai sought out Takumi.  Takumi attempted to assuage any concerns the former Dragon had, but it was “I’m not concerned so much as I’m incredulous that you exist.”  Steakshaker attained the attention of his clan’s voice, played by one who knows Steakshaker’s character creations, and Steakshaker noted that “I do exist.”, which produced a hearty chortle.

Takumi did prop for Shigeo somewhat, though it hardly matters as Steakshaker was never relevant to the campaign.

Warrior had the possibility of an extraordinary character arc.  Tis better for him to tell the tale, which he could in making a comment upon this record.  Let us say that his *nearly* being the Empress’s consort suggests many meanings to the efficacy of the Phoenix.

Many HoR stalwarts were impressive.  The Emerald Championship (especially the winner and Ben), the resolution of the Shogunate, the second place finishing of the Jade Championship, Nine-Izo Sake, miscellaneous scenes were very welcome.  While Takumi (and Shigeo) are aghast that Okucheo got away with it and there was little that certain clans seemed to accomplish, it was a reasonable ending to the campaign.  Nightmare War will be a topic for another time.

Much time was available for Warrior and Steakshaker, such that they could accumulate script and partake of mediocre barbeque and, in Steakshaker’s case, syrup-light Dew from the Mountains.  Why Steakshaker returns to taverns he finds less than profound is a mystery, for numerous alternatives exist, though no particular tavern reaches Steakshaker’s profundity threshold.

No, such places must be addressed later in this record.

True Dungeon may have been something Steakshaker last engaged in in 2008.  Warrior had never been True in a Dungeon.  Warrior took upon the role of druid, for druid is sweet like maple syrup.  Steakshaker claimed wizard, for Steakshaker, who would find shuffleboard interesting normally, does not seek the responsibility of shuffleboard effectiveness but rather wishes to use his puzzle-poor mind to memorize planes of existence to maximize artillery support for his parties.  Of interest is that the wizard chart has been changed.  Where once it was possible to misremember the location of a particular plane, the latest chart is absurdly easier than the last and any failure should lead to wizard seppuku.

Our party was skilled in the ways of Dungeoning.  To the point where even the loss of the cleric’s soul was not considered a black mark upon the trouncing that our gifted crew gave to the forces of opposition.  Warrior enjoyed his experience.  Steakshaker was pleased that such a worthy band was available to eliminate the need for Steakshaker to use his puissant dearth of cleverness.

Bathrobe Day

The pursuit of happiness takes a dark turn.  For, the V:TES event that Steakshaker and Warrior were prepared to participate in was inconsequential.  To speak with Oscar, to meet Jason, such things have value.  But, neither Warrior nor Steakshaker has happy feelings for the Red Sign Storyline.  Yet, it was not so much lack of preparation, as it was that but a single game was played … in a six hour slot.  Steakshaker cannot justify such experiences when there is such a wealth of options per annum.  His reluctance to expend multiple RPG slots upon a CCG event was dispensed with in the year 2015 due to a wish to support those games he cherishes.  Yet, what was accomplished?  There was even little in the way of camaraderie established in the meager minutes spent endeavoring to flop cards.

Perhaps 2016’s events will enable Steakshaker to find a more fruitful card-flopping experience, but it is with trepidation that he approaches seeking out such festivities.  More inspiring would be a separate quest to the realm of Columbites where Origins may be written.

Silver lines all things, which is why they are so heavy and conductive.  Steakshaker seeks ODAM to be mesmerized by a Jersey bodybuilder into ordering a new RPG.  Despite Steakshaker’s contempt for pitching sales and though Steakshaker’s will is strong against certain influences, Steakshaker is eager to deprive himself through the power of credit of a batch of his earnings.

Steakshaker’s only other purchase is less soothing, being an odd bit of nostalgia, as he acquires Dice of the Dragon, with no intention to take back up the ten-sided monsters of former years to change the facing of eight-sided terrain dice.

Steakshaker and Warrior convene with Josh, and more of Johnny’s Rockets are fired.  The band follows Steakshaker upon his sketchy and bizarre endeavors to find gifts.  No such presents are purchased, though a card that will facilitate communication with an artisan may produce some result, and Warrior speaks an intriguing possibility.

The convocation ends with Steakshaker not present to its dying seconds.  Warrior and Steakshaker retire to the artisanal shelter, eschewing bathrobes as overly warm.

Review Day

Tis early when Warrior and Steakshaker traverse to the skytravel locale.  Steakshaker takes time to study the tavern distribution of the realm of Indianas.  He searches $ taverns as he is well aware that what he considers $ vs. $$ is quite different than what others do.  His first find is an establishment with over 100 reviews, 4.7 stars, and is Zagat rated.  Too far, he laments.

Then, he realizes his folly.  For the realm of Indianas has academies, with students.  Apparently, such must be catered to by only the finest chefs in the multiverse.  For, let us consider a tavern.

Big Mike’s Cafe Americana

28 reviews

5.0 stars

As we delve deeper into Big Mike’s we discover that there is an individual whose experience is so awful that she had no choice but to give the tavern only four stars.  Let us read her review that we may revel in the awfulness that Big Mike’s may inflict upon its customers.

The first time I went to Big Mike’s Café was a little over a month ago, and I was amazed at the taste and quality of the food as well as the friendliness of the staff. At first it looks like a little hole in the wall, but it’s really an undiscovered gem. *Food*I’ve spent a good deal of time in England, and I’m a huge fan of traditional fish ‘n’ chips. Every place I go to that offers them, I have to try them once and compare them to jolly ol’ England. Big Mike’s passed this test with flying colours. It’s obvious they took the care and effort to get fresh fish for this dish. The chips that came with it were equally amazing. No condiments needed, which is a first for me in America. The second time I went to Big Mike’s, I tried a burger and coleslaw. The burger was cooked to perfection, and all the condiments came on the side so I could as as much or as little sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion that I wanted to it. The burger tasted amazingly alone, but the whole thing was served on something called a pretzel bun, which was amazingly soft and not chewy, even though it looked very much like a pretzel. Big Mike took the simple burger and elevated it to a whole new level for me. One thing you should note is that if you go to Big Mike’s, save room for dessert or be prepared to take some home. It is made fresh, and it is *AMAZING*. My fiancée’s a huge fan of the Red Velvet Cheesecake cake. It’s a red velvet cake with a thin layer of cheese cake between the layers of cake, then topped with a soothe butter cream icing. They serve huge portions of it, though, so even when you share there is enough for both. *The staff*The place is family owned and operated. They are friendly, cheerful, and happy with their work, and it shows. Both times we’ve been there, we’ve been greeted with a smile and directed to sit where ever we wanted, then joined nearly immediately by a staff member to get our drink orders. They make sure every dish comes out well and that you’re satisfied, not just not grumbling. It’s a wonderful, home-like welcome while out to eat.

Obviously, suffering burger enlightenment and having to look askance at ever eating fish and chips in England again are the horrible consequences of this establishment.  As an epilogue to the tale of the greatest food conveyance place in all of creation, I found another tavern listed.

Taste of Europe

12 reviews

It is no wonder that this place is “permanently closed”.  For it had the misfortune of only having 4.9 stars.  (By the way, if anything unfortunate did happen to the owners or whatever that caused it to be closed, this joke is in poor taste, but c’mon … Warrior’s food woes, Steakshaker’s required breakfasts, then these reviews!)

Steakshaker will now depart, to return a year hence.

Man, that dude is pretentious.  Okay, hotel was nice but I don’t want to walk even seven blocks to get to the convention center as it discourages switching out stuff.  Plus, expensive.  The math is such that with two roommates, I’d be pretty happy with even the Conrad Hilton again through the passkey system, but I don’t expect to ever be able to get a room I want through GC’s housing block system, so we have alternative possibilities in mind.

I was thinking the con was a B-, but that was mostly due to the V:TES “event” pulling things down.  While an amazing waste of what is precious gaming time, Forge/Artemis, True Dungeon, even as costly as both of those are which is not really that much compared to wasting money in the exhibit hall or the logistics costs of Gen Con, everything else being decent if not necessarily spectacular really should outweigh one problematic game.  Then, logistics, ignoring cost, were just fine and without hiccups.  Food was a struggle, but that just means I need to find places other than the foul-smelling corner to tavernize since not everybody can live off ordering the exact same meal twice a day.  So, probably more like a B, with Artemis A/A-, True Dungeon A, battle interactive C, political interactive B.  I still feel bad that I can’t support Shadowfist more, but I talked to Daniel about changing the start time of events to not so badly overlap multiple RPG slots.

The last I saw, the Shadowfist Kickstarter needs a huge bump from Gen Con.


October 3, 2014

I got a taste of the new WordPress UI and it was horrors.  Why do companies feel like making their products hateworthy?  Is there something about the age of product managers that they want things to look like some awful ’80’s, Basic style where everything is hard to read?

I’ve seen it with Google.  I’ve seen it with GoToMeeting.  Yahoo made Yahoogroups absurd, if maybe not quite as pastel blocks with low contrast text ish.

Anyway, I was reading the L5R RPG forum and, since I’m part of the blogosphere, one might even say a blognoscenti, I have to respond to thissums:  John Wick Stealing Ian’s Favorite Conceptual Concept Thingamajig.  Yup, I totally ownerize talking about balancification and RPGs.  No one else has ever thought to spew their own brainheadedness vitriol upon their audience when it comes to balance and RPGs.

Since I already said all that needs saying on such topics, I will segway into weaponspeak, well, I guess gearspeak.

I find gear tedious.  I actually used to get gun magazines (for those young folksers, talking about products made of a slick, paperlike product known as paper).  Whether a Walther P-88 was the most accurate 9mm in the world (circa 1988) when comparing cluster sizes of silvertip hollowpoints was an article or I might be merging wordstuff into an amalgam of unregardableness.

But, as much as it’s possible to handwave differences in gear, there is some feel in gear that has nothing to do with mechanics.  I am swordmonstermasterdude, master of monsters with swords.  I happen to have left my lamia-rapier at home.  Shouldn’t I be countervantaged?

Which got me thinking that there’s three states to handle gearstate.  A character can be countervantaged, ambivantaged, or ultravantaged.  Those terms are way too long, let’s try these:  “screwed”, “normal”, “fully rocket-packed autogyro-ed”.  Mechanically, this matters.  How it matters is a matter for the system of game.  If the system of game is akin to L5R 4e, we say that normal is 3k2 damage, screwed is -2k0 to attack and damage, and fully rocket-packed autogyro-ed is +0k1 attack and damage.  Note that this thought is quite similar to the D&D 5e idea of roll twice and take better or take worse depending upon how rocket-packed you are.  Whatever floats your fully rocket-packed space yacht.

Time for another cegweigh.

I can totally play Vampire or Call of Cthulhu like D&D.  I am curious as to whether the way I approach multiplayer CCGs or various other competitive games is due to some attempt to turn competitive ventures into role-playing games.  If balance isn’t a concern with RPGs (though I would say spotlight time is within the realmosphere of balance), that suggests it is a concern of other games.  I intentionally nadirbalance things for myself, which could just be because both variety and challenge interest me more than firsting, or it could be because introducing thematicality to games is more goodly.

Why does it matter whether I’m screwed or normal?  Because, duh, story.  My story of stopping the ’08 invasion of the blueberry-givers of Arcturus Minor 9 with only a few Synchro Cannons and whatever Sunbeams I have lying around is way more profound and humblebraggable than if I had some decent energy weapons.

Some folksies are into gearstuff.  Heya, what is BattleTech but the gearthing being your character?  I’m less into saying “No, bad gamer, do not bring your weapons compendium to my table of RPA (role-playing art).  I don’t care that it goes zero to 60 in 3.42 seconds, it’s still not going to get a better speed rating than Doctor Wicked’s Yugo.” than I am how to make happy feelings with some folks who care that my clip only holds 17 rounds with one in the chamber versus those who are “If I fire a gold-tipped arrow at a castle-spaceship trying to achieve escape velocity, how long before it explodes outside of our atmosphere?”

Certainly, the spotlight is crucial, but does it need to be based on competence or just player decisions?  Is it sufficient to have a NPC relationship be as simple as “If I am nice to the NPC, the NPC is happy and likes me.  If I am jerkalicious to the NPC, the NPC is unhappy and dislikes me.”?  There’s no measure of success factor, just a decision.  Ah, but this is too much in the Fortress of Solitude.  We need to have more than one thing happening at a time.  I combat victims with my combat.  Dice rolled.  Smiting and stuff.  More to life than combat?  “Tis this be true, yonder stage manager?”  Okay, in this scenario, that might be fine.  Competence and results are managed through smitestuff, decisions without regard to measuring success rule social.  But, what if everything is social?  What if combat is largely dictated by decisions and not character sheetness?

I can see where having full control over things is less engaging than partial control.  Yes, I’ve played a bunch of one-shots where everything was a matter of decisions, but there’s a reason I don’t see those sort of games working so well for campaigns.  For one thing, control of your fate is wearying.  Having dice or card draw or whatever removes some level of responsibility and brings the game into RPG.  That may be why some folksies are totally into videogame roll-playing because it’s more relaxing, less work.

“The spotlight, forsooth, it comes right for you, monsieur.”

“I ready my fauchard-guisarme.”

“It’s an 8 hit die monster with a blinding attack.  Roll to save against Paralyzation, Wands, and Spotlight Breath.”

“13, does that make it?”

“You are a 2nd level marketing assistant.  I’m afraid your soul has been shredded so that only a 36th level Psionicist-Owlbear can cast Unincarnation on you and you will lose enough XP to drop to 1st level marketing assistant.”

“My next character is totally going to have Heart of Hatred: Spotlights.”

“Sure, sure.  Roll 1d4-3 for your stats and put the lowest number into Wisdom.”

[Classic] Yu-Gi-Oh! meets V:TES [10/19/2002]

January 4, 2014

As promised.  This even has relevance to a conversation I had last night.

*  *  *

Overheard at a game convention …

J:  YG, you shouldn’t have tapped all of your minions on your last turn.  Now, you can’t block my bleeds.  For my first action, Ozmo does a Scou-ting Mi-ssion bleed!!  You lose three pool YG.
YG:  J, you’ve fallen into my trap.
J:  What?
YG:  While it’s true that normally I couldn’t block you because all of my minions are tapped, I play this card – Wake With Evening’s Freshness!  Wake With Evening’s Freshness allows the chosen vampire to attempt to block and play reaction cards as if untapped.  And, I choose Aisling Sturbridge … who attempts to block.
J:  That’s a strong defensive card YG.  But, you haven’t successfully blocked my attack yet.  I play Swallowed by the Night to give Ozmo plus one stealth.  Now my vampire has one stealth and yours has zero intercept.  I guess my attack gets through and you take that three pool loss after all YG.
YG:  Not so fast J.  You forget that Aisling Sturbridge can also play reaction cards due to the Wake With Evening’s Freshness.  I play Enhanced Senses for intercept …
J:  Then, I’ll play Cloak the Gathering for more stealth.
YG:  J, you should have let me finish announcing the terms of my card before playing that Cloak the Gathering.  Aisling has superior Auspex, so I play Enhanced Senses at superior.  At inferior, Enhanced Senses adds only one intercept.  At superior, it gives plus two intercept to the reacting minion!  You’re going to have to raise your game to another level if you want to beat me J.
J:  Plus two?  That means Aisling’s intercept matches Ozmo’s stealth, which means that Ozmo will get blocked.
YG:  That’s right J, unless you have more stealth.
J:  No … The attack is blocked.  We go to combat.
YG:  Do you have any prerange cards J?
J:  No.
YG:  Neither do I.  Do you maneuver J?
J:  I don’t maneuver.  I strike …
YG:  Wait a moment J.  I play Apportation at superior!  At superior, Apportation provides my minion with a maneuver.  I maneuver to long range which means that Aisling Sturbridge won’t take any damage from a hand strike.
J:  Well YG, I wasn’t going to strike with hands, anyway.  I play Dodge!  A strike:  dodge means that Ozmo won’t be affected by Aisling Sturbridge’s strike.  As I’m sure you were planning to play a strike effective at long range, I think I win this one YG.
YG:  You’re right J but not about winning.  I *was* going to play a strike effective at long range.  I still am!  I play Theft of Vitae, a strike that can steal blood or life at long range.
J:  But, it won’t do anything because I played Dodge.  Seems like I’m not the only one who makes boneheaded rookie mistakes YG.
YG:  So, you think it’s a rookie mistake J?  It isn’t and you’ll soon see why.
J:  Uh, okay YG, whatever you say.  For my next action …
YG:  Hold on J, this combat isn’t over yet.
J:  It isn’t?
YG:  No.  During the press step, I play Apportation at inferior.  At inferior, Apportation provides a press only usable to continue combat.  If you don’t press to end combat, combat goes another round.  Do you press to end combat J?
J:  No.  I guess we go to another round of combat.  I have no prerange cards.
YG:  Nor do I.
J:  I don’t maneuver.
YG:  Nor do I.
J:  I strike …
YG:  Just a minute J, I have a card to play before strikes are declared.  I play Blood to Water at superior!
J:  Blood to Water?  What does that do?
YG:  Blood to Water, in this case, burns blood off of the opposing vampire.  At inferior, it would burn three blood off of Ozmo.  But, I’m playing it at superior, so it burns five blood off of Ozmo.  Because you moved one blood from Ozmo to your pool during your master phase using the Blood Doll you played on Ozmo earlier this turn, Ozmo is now empty of blood.
J:  Ouch!  I don’t have another Dodge, so I strike with hands.
YG:  Very well J.  Now, to complete the combo, with this card I just drew replacing the Blood to Water I just played, I play Walk of Flame! at superior!!
J:  Walk of Flame!  That does aggravated damage, doesn’t it?
YG:  Yes J, it does.  Walk of Flame at inferior wouldn’t have made a difference as the first point of aggravated damage would only send Ozmo to torpor and the point of damage from a hand strike would have done the same.  But, at superior, Walk of Flame does two points of aggravated damage.  Because your vampire is empty, the second point of damage will burn your vampire!  I’m sorry J, but Ozmo is … destroyed.

… After this action was completed, the remaining three players searched their libraries and collections for Garrote cards and proceeded to messily and slowly slit the throats of YG and J.

Everyone, trust in the heart of the cards [especially your ultrarares and watch an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! sometime if you haven’t to watch a show about playing a CCG].  Jim, archive if you want.