Kia Ora viewers

Today's Topic: Now what?!

Fingers crossed, my life is about to calm down a lot and finally allow me to be in and/or run an RPG campaign! My campaigning has been incredibly limited this year due to study taking over my life but I have been itching to run a whole load of games! Here's a quick run down of some of the games I've been desparate to play.

Cane Hill: A Monsterhearts campaign set in a (real) abandoned asylum in London. This is my second attempt at running this campaign, after a glorious beginning that was cut unfortunately short a few years ago. I ran the first session of the new game at Minicon (more on that later) and had an absolute blast. It will definitely be worthwhile to continue.

Ryuutama- Spring Adventure: I teased a second story arc for my Ryuutama players earlier this year that would involve a time skip and a new adventure. I had a lot of fun in the previous mini-campaign and would love to get the players together to try for a part two.

7th Sea: I don't know exactly what this one would be about. John Wick has been sending out a huuuge array of new content from the Kickstarter and it's now possible to set a game of 7th Sea almost anywhere in the (fictionalised) world.

Uncharted Worlds: This is another system with a huge range of new opportunities and content I am excited about. It is especially worth plugging the newly published Colonies supplement, which I was able to get early access to. This supplement provides a lot of ideas for running a game of Uncharted Worlds in a developing colony on a planet, rather than the standard starship type campaign.

With so many options, and my time still being fairly limited, I've been finding it pretty difficult to decide how to spend any newly acquired free time!

What I'm playing

Though I've been busy, I've not been playing nothing. I recently attended SAGA's third Minicon of the year and played in a number of games. This included session one of my Cane Hill Monsterhearts game. I really enjoyed finding ways to pit characters against each other in different ways. Especially with the five PCs we have, it can be difficult to juggle all of the characters' interests and desires, but I think by the end of the session we had managed to get all of the chips in place. I have newfound appreciation for the Unicorn skin (one of the Second Skins) as the table had a collective realisation moment that the Unicorn was a Disney Princess.
I also had a frustrating but enjoyable time in a very bamboozling LARP that I am not at liberty to say much about and a very fun, and perfectly written for a convention slot, one off D&D game run by my friend Christopher. We were the local law enforcement trying to deal with the fact that adventurers were in town and wreaking havoc. I had a blast informing a sinister wizard that, while necromancy wasn't illegal, he really would need a permit to be robbing those graves.

Here's a thing

I have been listening to the always excellent One Shot podcast and, though I am waaaay behind, I just listened to the amazing Feng Shui 2 episodes. The hilarious product placement in episode three, with characters "turning to camera" and talking about Pepsi and Lays potato chips gave me a very stupid idea. So, I have made a very small hack for one of my favourite games, Primetime Adventures, to mechanise product placement. It was also inspired by a "shipping" mechanic developed by Matteo Supo. Have fun with it if you dare! I have not tested it myself... and quite likely never will ha ha.

Primetime Products


Primetime Adventures

Kia Ora LARPers

Today's Topic: LARPy thoughts

Phoenix happened last weekend, the first time it has taken place at a campground and the result was pretty excellent. It was also the debut of S.W.I.P.E. (Symbiotes Will Inherit Planet Earth) the third instalment in my (rather arrogantly named, only barely thematically linked) Acronym Trilogy! With that game done and pretty well received, I will be looking to publish the set at some point in the future. There will definitely be some tweaking, especially to E.S.P.A., but I am excited to get them out there.

I have once again been reminded how crazy it is that more people don't LARP, having convinced a friend to come and try it for the first time at Phoenix. Though it is seen as a very geeky, almost antisocial hobby, it's one of the most social things you can do. It develops your skills in acting, costuming, negotiating, problem solving and much more. Sure, LARP can be about hitting each other with foam swords (and who doesn't want to do that?!), but most of the games I play are more about experiencing feelings and situations you otherwise wouldn't get to, and telling an interesting story with your friends. I was also excited to find out that the gender balance this year was 23 male, 19 female, 1 non-binary, so not just a bunch of dudes! Given how accepted video games have become as a hobby, it seems ludicrous to me that LARP often is not.

What I'm playing

Here is a (spoiler free) rundown of all the games I played at Phoenix this year:

Round 1: Baby It’s Cold Outside- Writer and GM Carla Bayard. This game was a fun and silly way to start off the convention. A huge turn of events resulted in me, (essentially Indiana Jones/Batman) feeling like the most sensible person there. Special thanks to Keegan for the hostility and the caring and Ella for really coming out swinging in your first game. You were insane. I recommend this game to anyone who likes a bit of a romp and some odd happenings.

Round 2: The Paragon’s Peril- Writer and GM Daniel Starky.
This game was a little heavier emotionally than I expected, which was excellent! It gave me a tale of crumbling dreams and rebuilding with what you’ve got. The moral of the story, never meet your heroes. Special thanks to Lee, for being the worst childhood idol ever. I recommend this to anyone who likes Masks (more on that later) and superheroes with feelings.

Round 3: Fool’s Gambit- Writer and GM Matt Swain.
Lord Charles Arthur Michael Barrington-Smythe was an interesting character study. I look forward to hearing about this game’s second run, as there is something great in there with some tweaks. My main recommendation is honing it down into a small group of highly focused characters. Special thanks to Mutu for the most intense three moves of chess I have played and Sally for making me really, really upset in the last five minutes. I recommend this to anyone who likes the Cold War and wants to see what it's like to be a part of it.

Round 4: The Beginner’s Guide to Buying and Selling Haunted Items. Writers and GMs- Chloe Sutherland and Robert Vincent. I’m not often much of a flagship person, but this was outstanding. Lots of clever and elegant mechanisms that didn’t bog down the game and an evocative range of props and other set items made this a real experience. Special thanks to Tayla for being just vicious and gullible enough and Jo for knocking me out at just the right time. I recommend this game to anyone who likes to have plenty to do in a game.

Round 5: Persephone’s Choice- Writer and GM Larp Wellington. I had a very, very difficult time trying to convince humans of my viewpoint, and my failure was truly rewarding. I definitely felt a lot of R. App Elby’s stress. Special thanks to William for trying extremely hard to keep me sane and Summer for nearly breaking through my programming and forcing a robotic tear. I recommend this to anyone who has a lot of Thoughts about robots, or wants to. For the truly unique experience I got out of it, I think this may have been my game of the weekend.

Round 6: S.W.I.P.E.- My own game.
I thiiiiiink everyone liked it. There was clear fatigue from a busy weekend but everyone gave it all they could and I
really appreciated that. Special thanks to Jeremy for voluntarily fainting at the strain of suppressing part of himself (might think about making a mechanic for that!) and spinning a whole tonne of BS and Izzy for bringing all of the emotional bleed. I'll let others recommend this. Hopefully they will.

Here's a thing

Apart from all the LARPing, I have also just finished playing in an excellent little Masks campaign. As a character with high "Superior", I found myself using the "Assess the Situation" move a lot and finding it somewhat... lacking. My main issues were that the question list seemed to mostly include questions that should be readily apparent/already known, eg "What here is the biggest threat?" or provide answers that the GM doesn't really want to give/ the players don't really want, eg "How could we best end this quickly?". Of course, your results may vary but here is a version of the move that I made that solves the issues I had I borrowed a little from Dungeon World, but not much. There are also now six questions instead of five, but I always found I ran out of options before when I could ask three.

Assess the Situation



Kia Ora friends

Today's Topic: Games online!

I currently have friends who are not only all over New Zealand, but spread out across the world. If I was more of a video gamer, then MMORPGs or other multiplayer video games would be a good way to connect with them, but I really do prefer traditionally analogue games. That being said, I am by no means opposed to bringing technology into play. I harbour dreams of screens built into tables or hidden speakers playing soundscapes to liven up a game session.
I still haven't fully experimented with Play by Post or attempted to run a traditional RPG via webcam, but I am certainly interested in the possibilities there.
In a number of the RPGs I've played, the games have continued their lives online between sessions. In a Primetime Adventures game I ran, the players and I cast every character in the game as a real actor, posting a picture of them to our facebook group in a growing album. My game club's Living Dungeon World projects featured players posting in character to the facebook group with reports of adventures and requests for aid. While this occasionally could become a little overwhelming, I think that it really added to the collective worldbuilding that made those games great.
While there are a few tools out there for helping you run tabletop RPGs online, I can't help but feel that the big step that will really make it easy and rewarding is still to come.

What I'm playing

Yesterday I finally got around to organising a game of Viewscream, which is a kind of larp system that is designed to be played through a group video chat, using Google Hangouts or Skype. I was fortunate enough to play with three of the most experienced and competent LARPers I know, which really contributed to the game being a success. The system gives you characters who are the last surviving members of a starship crew, separated and dealing with emergencies before they can make their escape. The system is also set up so that it is impossible for everyone to make it out alive.
I am looking forward to trying the game again with a different scenario to make the most of the webcam format. Other players were prepared with props such as lights and cables to be messing with and code that they would throw up onto the screen as damage reports. I struggled a bit myself with coming up with suitable technobabble, but the other players carried it well. I'm also excited at how easy it seems to write a scenario yourself.
Viewscream's design necessitates the use of technology, and I think this is a good direction for making online play better. When the technology is inherent to the design, it feels less like a barrier and more like a tool.

Here's a thing

This isn't exactly new, but it does relate well to the topic I ended up writing about today. A while ago, I got quite excited about the idea of creating hypertext fiction. Essentially, that's digital choose your own adventure books. This is one I made based on a Ryuutama scenario I ran. The tool I used was Twine and I highly recommend it if you are interested in creating these playable stories. I found it fairly easy to use and intend to use it as a teaching tool when I have my own English classes as a different approach to creative writing.



Viewscream cover

Kia Ora friends

Today's Topic: Space!

It's my holidays right now, which means this is the time for me to do any work on creative things for myself, without having to worry about students and lesson planning. I've been thinking a lot about space.
Firstly, I'm writing my LARP, S.W.I.P.E., for Phoenix 2017. It's about a group of energy based aliens who have possessed some humans and are readying for the invasion. However, it's been a while with no contact and... maybe they're having second thoughts. This game has been really challenging to write as the human sides and the alien sides of these beings are both involved. It's pretty weird (as you will have come to expect from my games).
I also was recently gifted a copy of the new "Far Beyond Humanity" supplement for Uncharted Worlds. Uncharted Worlds is the PbtA equivalent of Traveller. I had been looking for a simple sci-fi game (prefereably PbtA) for aaages and this was finally it! In its basic form, it can tell stories like Firefly, The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica (somewhat realistic and mainly about humans). I am excited that this supplement opens things up to include things you might like from Star Trek, Star Wars, Mass Effect and more. I am now pretty excited to attempt a campaign. Maybe I even have time for one!

What I'm playing

I've been playing more board games lately, which has been nice. To continue the space theme, Tiny Epic Galaxies with the new "Beyond the Black" expansion has hit the table a few times. I've also played quite a lot of Mystic Vale, which I really enjoy for its unique mechanic.
I played in a one-off guest role as part of a D&D campaign with some people I didn't know, which was rather fun. When I arrived, the GM presented me with a list of meta-rules about how he wants everyone to behave and the kind of stories he wanted to tell. I found this super useful! I immediately felt put at ease about playing with people I didn't know and knew what the expectations were. I will probably talk more about pre-game communication between GM and players in another entry because I think it's very important and I know I haven't always used this as well as I could in the past.
I have also now run two sessions of the game I am going to present to you in the next segment!

Here's a thing

There's a pretty good chance that you have come across the wonderful microsystem called Roll for Shoes. I have recently put together a scenario using the system to tell the story of a group of alien beings readying Earth for invasion. The premise of the game is similar to that of my LARP, S.W.I.P.E. but much lighter and sillier (no spoilers either). Both sessions I have run involved a lot of laughter and fun.

Roll for Invasion


Uncharted Worlds logo

Kia Ora exhausted people

Today's Topic: On Demand

Being in Christchurch as I am, this last weekend was our largest annual convention, Buckets of Dice! This was the 23rd year of the convention, and just as strong as ever. For those of you not in the know, Buckets includes board games, RPGs and LARP.
I oversaw the "Games on Demand" room, ours modelled after what I have seen at Kapcon in Wellington. Rather than submitting particular RPGs, this meant that I was taking an unknown number of players and GMs, pitching games and seeing what stuck. The room was never especially busy, but I did get to facilitate something in each of the four rounds I ran Games on Demand, with each of them being relatively successful.
As a GM who loves to improvise, I enjoy the unstructured feel of the GoD room and the ability to play what I feel like in the moment. However, this doesn't mean that a bit of prep can't go a long way. I got my first game of Monsterhearts 2 going, and really valued the new "Small Towns" pdf that came with it. Each town is a one page description that gives you everything you need to run a rich and interesting game.
I also love games that I would describe as "prepless". Games like Fiasco, A Taste for Murder and Enter the Avenger (the three other games I ran are, by necessity, games you cannot prepare for. I would say that most GMless games fit this category and few that aren't don't, however, I did GM or at least facilitate the game of Taste for Murder we played so it is not always the case.

What I'm playing

Buckets of Dice has been my main gaming intake recently, so I will talk about the three big games that I did not facilitate.
  1. The Storm- a LARP by Inveighed. I can't say too much about this one while avoiding spoilers, but I truly appreciated the human and emotional quality of many of the characters written, despite the wild mix of settings. I also got the feeling that the number of combinations of how things might end and who could work with who was staggering.
  2. The Lark Rises- a LARP by Jan-Yves Ruzicka. I've been excited about this one for quite some time and I am pleased to say that the hype did not fail. This was a lot more gamey than most LARPs I have been involved in, but rather than removing from the characters or emotional content, it struck home that all actions had consequences. A tense and thrilling game, which was surprisingly smooth given its complexity.
  3. The Colour of Credits- a grand strategy board game by Matthew Smith. I almost didn't play this as I was only roped in at the last minute, but I'm certainly glad I was. After assuring everyone I would have to leave partway through, I ended up staying through to the end. The production values were high and despite not even having seen the rulebook before the game, I managed to get a reasonable grasp on what I needed to do through play. I was astounded at just how asymmetrical the factions were and yet how smooth and balanced it all seemed. This was clearly a labour of love.

Here's a thing

Last week, I made a wee Dread hack that I hoped to maybe run at Buckets. It turns out I didn't have chance, so fair warning; this is entirely un-playtested. Let me know if it works!

Tower of Temptation



Dread logo

Kia Ora friends

Today's Topic: Dungeons & Dragons

In all honesty, I'm rather a hipster when it comes to games. Although I do have some favourite systems, I tend to get the most fun out of playing a variety of different systems and settings, most of which are on the more indie side of things.
In my local game group, D&D 5th Edition has become enormous and is essentially the only game that many people play. Some friends of mine are in upwards of three campaigns of D&D, each meeting once a week. The reason for its popularity is obvious, so I'm not even going to get into that. It's also a great game, doing a lot for the hobby.
Sometimes I wonder though, what is it that makes people stick to a particular game? I am somewhat puzzled by people who are able to play a game and decide 'This is the one. I don't need other RPGs.'
I am more like a fantail, flitting from system to system as whims take me, trying things out and then moving on.
I love that our hobby has so many people with different likes and desires from their gaming. I also love that when I do want to play some D&D (which is reasonably often) our local DMs are very practiced and I always have a great time.

What I'm playing

Over the Easter weekend, I got together with some of my old gaming buddies from high school for a D&D marathon. We essentially played 10am-5pm Friday and 10am-10pm Saturday (with some breaks). The game was expertly DMed by my friend Chris, with a strong focus on our characters' personal goals and backstories. I felt a strong investment in my character, a bar-tending bard and was genuinely upset for him when it was invaded by his arch-nemesis: the Guzzler.
D&D worked excellently for our epic combats, and fairly well for our negotiation sequences as well.
It didn't help us quite so much in out investigations, however. D&D is a great game, but I think most would admit that it can't do everything. Overall, it was a very rewarding time!

Here's a thing

Obviously I've had D&D on the brain for a while now, so this is for use as a unique set-up for a D&D campaign. It has an initial sequence of play where the GM rotates each session. A gaming goal for me this year has been to experiment with sharing the GM role, or getting rid of it in unexpected places, so I very much hope I can give this a try. If you end up testing it, please let me know!

D&D- Heroes of Tragedy



Dungeons & Dragons logo

Kia ora to anyone who is looking!

Today's Topic: What this is blog is for

This is a new blog I am starting at the request of a few friends. Lately I have been creating a few resources related to games, which means I need a place to make them accessible and to write about them. I have a few to put out over the next couple of weeks but thought that I ought to make a first post that explained a bit about why I've made a blog in the first place.

I'm an avid gamer living in Christchurch. I enjoy board games, tabletop RPGs and LARP.
My RPG tastes are more the indie/storygame style so I enjoy playing in games that have a narrative, improvisational feel and opportunities for the traditional GM role to be played with or gotten rid of altogether.

What I'm playing

Lately I have been running a lot of one off games for my game group's Theme Days initiative. The latest of these was Female Creators Day at which I ran "Deserting Paradise", a small game by Avery Alder about immortal punks sticking it to The Man. This game was a lot of fun, though the tone we created was rather gonzo, with a savage, blood-thirsty army of pomeranians becoming rather involved in the plot. I certainly had a lot of fun, and I believe that the other players round the table did too, though next time I would run it with less of a view to ramping up the action as quickly as possible to resolve everything in a single session.

Here's a thing

Not long ago, I ran a session of Ryuutama. I loved the system but wished there was a more defined way to use status effects in the game. There are six different kinds of status effect, which can be given at different levels. I wanted to have a guide in front of me to the levels and meaning of the status effects, so I had a think and put this together:

Ryuutama Status Effect Guide

Hope you find it useful!


Ryuutama dragon



October 2017

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