Thursday, March 28, 2013

Isle Imperium 1.41 -- Meet, Greet, and Compete!

Following the announcement of the Diamond Grey Legion’s new pride shard, a dinner reception is held, which is graced by visiting dignitaries from various other legions, such as:

TEL TIN TOR, Ivory Legate
RASELDAN, Ebon Rake Admiral (and some of his generals)
OJIN, Redstar Cloudstrike ChampionRISA, Frontline Sanctifier

SER ILDANE, Silver Thorn Scholar
SER RINALDO, Silver Thorn Champion
SER LORENS, Templar of the Order of the Gilden Drake
SER RAIMUNDO, Forsworn Blade Knight

as well as later arrivals, including:

PANDORA, Empathic Visionary 
ULBARICH, String Lyre Lyric             
KATSUMOTO, Esteemed Heavenly Court Martial 
RENJIN (3rd), Lost Warbound Celestial Shadow
AJI (4th), Crimson Blade Tempest Whirlwind
XOLXA, Helios Shield Commander                                                    
LOXTAS, Obsidian Jaguar Guardian                                                   

(Except where indicated, all dignitaries are members of the First Number of their respective legions, led by their Pride.)

In the course of the evening—encompassing the First’s obligatory mingling with each set—much occurs and is learned:
  • Neither Emerald nor Platin deign to eat our food!
  • The Sapphire contingent leaves early, relieved and gratified by VARIAN’S understanding of their need to do so.
  • Ulbarich is formerly of the Diamond, having transferred to Amber with the help of AUDEN.
  • The Amber pair probes gently into Diamond’s involvement in the fall of one of their opponent’s strongholds.
  • Katsumoto is KENJIRO’S elder brother; there is some tension between the two; and Katsumoto seems to hold ALECTO responsible for Kenjiro’s defection.
  • TERENTIUS has traveled extensively in Ruby territory on mission zeros, making friends and possibly more, in the case of Ojin. He is also said to have a brother, one Cardius, in the Diamond.
  • Raseldan is Elect, and recognizes ARCTURUS as Elect. CATALINA is recognized as a dragoon.
  • The Bejeweled Warder built the Tower of Spinels in the Caliphate; the embodied shard Djamoud invites him to “join again”, informs him that “Bone is on the verge of attracting legendaries”, and hints that he may be willing to transfer when Diones has constructed something worthy.
  • Crusis apparently has major issues with her “little sister” KHIMERE’S transfer, and needles her that the latter’s beloved shard is now embracing someone new. Kim replies that she is “no quidnunc”.
  • Tel Tin Tor narrowly escapes potential physical assault from ALOYSIUS, Terry, Kenjiro, OLIVERUS, ISAACUS, Ser Orlando, and the Silver contingent, due to perceived over-familiarity with the women of the First.
  • SER ORLANDO was involved in something from which Rinaldo thinks his heart needs to heal.
  • The Silver delegates invite the First to their upcoming competition of scholars; the delegates of Amber, Ruby, and Sapphire likewise issue cordial invitations.

ARSELUS ARTILIAN informs the First minutes prior that there will be contests between each of them and a representative of each visiting legion. After hasty scrambling (and consulting with LORD HANOR), these are held as follow:

archery: Cat vs. Pandora                                                                  footrace: Aly vs. Katsumoto
standing jump: Kim vs. Risa                                                            discus throw: MANTIUS vs. Crusis
javelin throw: Arc vs. Ser Lorens                                                     test of strength: Ian vs. Tel Tin Tor

After much struggle (and amiable cheating on virtually all sides), the First manage to win all their contests, with the exception of Aly, who ties with Katsumoto.

Much drinking follows, over the course of which the delegates gradually take their leave. Katsumoto admonishes Aly to try and make his brother happy. Ian gives a bottle of wine to Tel Tin Tor, who attempts to give him one of his chained girls in response. The Ruby mounts happily stay and drink with the Diamond’s Fifth until the wee hours of the morning.

At 4 a.m., the First, Second, and Third Numbers report for a briefing with Ollie, Terry, and Isaac on the mission Tabernacle Run, previously attempted by the Seventh and First, in succession, of the Diamond Red. This mission involves breaching the edifice known as the Tabernacle, in order to destroy the beacon which will eventually allow greater forces of Chaos to access the ten entry points corresponding to the ten legions. (Currently, only four of these are designated as front line.)

The mission is divided into three phases, each to be handled by one number and one ruling warder, as follows:
  1. The Third, led by ELINORA and Auden, will get the team to the first waypoint. They will hold the waypoint for six minutes and five seconds before returning to Peerdin, with or without their comrades.
  2. The Second, led by Lord Hanor and Terry, will open the 17 gates needed to access the Tabernacle. They will hold the gates for three minutes and five seconds before returning to the waypoint, with or without their comrades.
  3. The First, led by Ian and Kenjiro, will breach the tabernacle and destroy the beacon—which shifts position every three seconds—in under three minutes. They are not to return to Peerdin if they exceed this time.
Only elite-class and higher shards and actions are expected to function during this mission; empath and warrior taxonomies are judged detrimental, while dragoons and martials are recommended.

After hurried resharding, the mission commences. The Third and Second successfully deliver the First to the Tabernacle.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Week Posts: Transportation Adventure Seeds

It is Holy Week in the Philippines.

For those of you who've never worked here or visited here during this time, here are some things you might find interesting enough to mine for cultural variety in your RPG campaigns.


Holy Week stems from Catholic religious belief, primarily remembering and celebrating the Passion and Death of Christ. In the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country in Asia, it has several well-known expressions of faith (Visita Iglesia, Crucifixions, and significant days of Holy Week itself). It is also significant enough that Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are national holidays, with some people already leaving work as early as Monday.


 Because of this tradition, traffic takes on erratic patterns at certain times during this week. Because of those fortunate enough to leave early in the week, traffic becomes lighter along many minor roads and major thoroughfares. But then, some government projects take advantage of the reduce traffic and begin making repairs on some paths.

And then as Wednesday approaches, paths of traffic toward the provinces (main highways) become choked with cars and buses. Buses are, in fact, the main mode of travel back to provinces in Luzon -- and bus stops are often crazy places to be during this time. Imagine a seething mass of humanity suffering in the summer heat, sometimes dealing with inefficient transport lines, ticketing offices, and the ever-present threat of criminals preying on travelers at numerous bus stations of varying quality.

Those seeking to return to home provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao portions of the archipelago often take boats, ferries, and local flights to return home. And they deal with similar problems as those who opted for bus travel do.

Naturally, the police, along with local and national government services do their best to serve the public and keep a watchful eye over the welfare of the millions of citizens returning home.

Adventure Seed: PCs must travel to a far-off location, but are surprised find that they must contend with a horde of travelers also bound for the same place. Not adventurers or mercenaries, but people from various stations in life merely seeking to go home to observe religious rites and visit family at a critical time during the year. They may find themselves learning useful information about the locale and its delights and dangers, or may end up thwarting crime targeted at their fellow travelers.

Adventure Seed: Some monsters also come out to hunt during this time for very specific reasons. perhaps the Sigbin has come to take advantage of the confusion of travelers and hopes to steal the heart of a child during the pilgrimages of travelers through its hunting lands.

Adventure Seed: The local government, normally very permissive, is quite alert during this time of year. They search travelers gear, question suspicious individuals, and sometimes delay some groups for a time to ensure that they will not be a danger to the other pilgrims. Perhaps some secrets or dangerous, cursed items choose this unfortunate time to cause trouble for the PCs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ruminations RPGs and Adolescent Power Fantasy

I'm still reading up on the definition of the 'adolescent power fantasy', but I've seen it applied to some RPGs and other media (like super-hero comics) and trying to pull apart what it means. We tend to hear these phrases a lot, but we seldom ask what they mean -- and if they mean the same thing for everyone.

And do women with guns factor into that power fantasy? Is this part
of that monomyth that Joseph Campbell talks about?
Anyway, I removed 'male' from the phrase 'adolescent male power fantasy' because, surely, if men can have power fantasies, women have them too. But even limited to the male gender, surely that power fantasy isn't going to be the same for all male adolescents?

I've seen the phrase applied to D&D characters, often targeting characters who've achieved high power levels through gameplay. I've seen the phrase applied to superheroes in superheroic RPGs as well. These two don't strike me as the same.

The former often takes place in a lawless frontier, where might makes right, and where PCs tend to hold themselves apart from society -- except when they need to replenish supplies and sell treasure. The latter tends to take place in civilized society, where things like laws and public opinion tend to matter. Of course, in both, PCs have access to greater power than in real life and can abuse said power. But the scale and acceptance of human(ish) society in these two RPG genres is very different.

Surely they're not the same adolescent power fantasy?

When I play games like Call of Cthulhu, do I pat myself on the shoulder for not indulging in a childish endeavor? Because calling something not just a power fantasy, but an adolescent one, screams that it is an activity not worthy of adult attention. That perhaps I should pursue more adult hobbies, like bowling or knitting, which never seem to be accused of either the adolescent tag, nor the power fantasy one.

As gamers, we also have derogatory terms for styles of play -- like the cutely named Monty Haul and the disturbingly named Rules Rapist -- but surely this happens in sports and literature and other endeavors all the time.

And what is wrong with indulging in power fantasies, as opposed to fantasies?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Quick Hits - March 2013

Cubicle 7 is coming out with some neat Doctor Who stuff on all the incarnations of over favorite Timelord, starting with the First Doctor. Hope to do a review soon.

Also, because of some Transformers-related posts on GooglePlus, I've become interested in two ongoing IDW comics series:

  • Transformers: Robots In Disguise; and
  • Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye

primarily because there's a certain depth to the setting, a greying of the sides of the Cybertronian war (which has ended for now), and some fantastic, surprising, and shocking characterization of some Autobots and Decepticons that have become my favorites. The humor, and occasional light-hearted stories make a fine counterpoint to the dark past of Cybertron and the surprising history of some well-known heroes and villains.

I particularly liked the spotlight on Ratchet in this issue:

Lastly, I'm working on a Steampunk / Wuxia RPG ruleset -- tinkering with FUDGE, FATE, and (gasp) Fuzion for this Frankenstein system. It means I've been on a steady diet of Wuxia films. The big winners have been Wu Xia (with Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Reign of Assassins (with Michelle Yeoh).

The stories are good, there's some humor, great fight scenes, and some tragedy and drama and human moments strung together into satisfying films.

Of course, your mileage and taste may differ.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Life Is Tough, But Still Good

Sleep well, my son. Enjoy
it while you're young.
Work, writing, and welcome obligations to family and friends have been particularly demanding on my time.

Any time I try to put together a post on gaming, I do feel like I'm spending time on something less important, and I've had to prioritize.

But someday soon, beyond just reading the RPGs I have, keeping up to date on the industry news, and searching for stories about other peoples' game sessions. Right now, I just want to sleep one long night's sleep without work or family stress waking me up too frickin' early!

So, I tend to post a lot of these recorded game sessions from the past few years.