Tabletop – DFAE Playtest – Session 2 write-up

With the need to get at least 3 sessions in before November 20th and my DERPing out on the rules being in my inbox, we’re trying to pack the sessions in a little more snugly than I would usually do. So here’s the write-up of session 2.

Two players were absent at least part of the session, but the low-level, low-action, roll-lite pace I’m setting to keep my players sane (since they’re new to Fate and/or the Dresden Files) means it’s pretty easy for characters to come and go. It’s working. And as an aside, I’m really liking the Virtual Tabletop (in this case Roll20) experience. Sure, it’s not direct face-time tabletop, but it actually does work. More on that some other time. (In other words, probably never. My regular readers know what that means by now…)

DFAE Playtest – Session 2

Characters present:

Cieran Muldoon, Wyldfae Undertaker to the supes of Seattle (present for 2nd half of session)
Jeremiah Tooms, Small-Time Mortal Street Criminal
Sasha Travis, Streetwise EMT (and were-Crow)

Euphorium for the masses

We left our doughy doughty adventurers having just purchased a vial of Euphorium from Devlin MacNamara, the not overly bright trust-fund kid. Session 2 starts where session 1 left off.

Cieran gets a call from work and has to leave [the player was going to be late]. Similarly, Korbin is drawn away to deal with something off-camera. [We may play this as a flashback at some point because Korbin’s A WARDEN IS WATCHING ME trouble could use a little in-play definition and hate-building (if that’s what happens).]

Left to their own devices, Jeremiah and Sasha ponder what to do with this vial of swirly purple stuff. Jeremiah is about to chug it when he realizes (with Sasha’s help) that a) he doesn’t know what it’ll do to him, b) he might not want to bogart the only sample they have, c) it could kill him, it’s killed other people, d) it’s a pretty safe bet it’s got some supernatural mojo in it, and if it doesn’t then it’s got some pretty advanced chemical effects in it, which comes to the same not-good-news-thing (see c) and e) Korbin and Cieran might not be too happy, and they can both probably break him like a twig if he makes them mad enough.

What they can do, however, is try to climb up the dealer ladder to Devlin’s supplier and so on up. Sasha is keen to do this because she is concerned at the number of people Eurphorium could be killing (directly via the ‘embolisms’ and indirectly via the anger and violence it seems to cause). Jeremiah suggests stealing Devlin’s cellphone and trying to figure out which one of his contacts might be the supplier. After all, says Jeremiah, “He’s a dumb-ass trust-fund rich kid and he doesn’t strike me as overly bright. For all we know the supplier is in there as Joe Schmoe Euphorium Supplier!”

[Because I had portrayed Devlin as exactly what Jeremiah assessed him to be, I went with this being a compel of Devlin’s NOT OVERLY BRIGHT aspect and Jeremiah handed over a FP for Devlin.]

The pair thus decide to steal Devlin’s cellphone. However, since Jeremiah just lifted Devlin’s wallet not one half hour ago, J can’t exactly walk back up to him and try it on a second time – even someone as NOT OVERLY BRIGHT as Devlin would be suspicious.

Sasha decides to create a diversion while Jeremiah sneaks around to approach Devlin from behind. The diversion consists of Sasha loudly and vociferously playing pinball – this is mostly designed to attract the attention the Heckel & Jeckel and the bouncer twins, but as it turns out her Distraction Via Pinball roll is epic and ends up attracting most of the patrons in the Lanes. (As a side result, Sasha racks up the new high score for that machine and the player notes on her sheet that she seems to be quite competitive when it comes to games.)

Jeremiah successfully makes his unobtrusive way over to where Devlin was sitting, only to see that Sasha’s distraction is *so* good Devlin has left his seat to watch the game… and has left his cellphone lying unguarded on the table. Jeremiah grabs it. He ponders grabbing other stuff, only to realise it would be a little too obvious who the thief was, considering recent events.

Phone acquired, he ambles over to the bar, nonchalantly buys a drink (with his own money!) [It seems Jeremiah is a perpetual “I forgot my wallet” kind of guy], then signals Sasha that he’s got the goods. Sasha finishes her game and joins him outside.

Aware that Devlin is likely to figure out pretty quickly what might have happened to his phone, the pair leave the Lanes and head to a nearby coffee shop to examine the phone. As expected, one of the first entries was: Angel R – E sup.

Jeremiah decides to tap his contacts to see if he can find out where Angel might be found. He’s heard the name before, connected to a mid-level drug dealer in town, but that’s about all. The cover story agreed-upon by Jeremiah and Sasha is that they’re trying to get in on the Euphorium trade – which, given Jeremiah’s mantle, is not a bad idea. Cut to the PCs meeting up with one of his contacts on an outdoor basketball court.

It’s Jeremiah’s turn to roll epically and said contact, Ebenezer Duckworth (who clearly must hate his parents) [and which explains why the GM will never ask the players to name an NPC ever again], crumbles under the onslaught of a success with style. He not only tells the PCs exactly where Angel can be found that evening, but also calls Angel ahead of time to vouch for them.

So Jeremiah and Sasha make their way to the Hot Lips, a strip joint on the seedier side of town. It’s still early in the evening so there are few patrons, but those include several off-duty cops (bought and paid for, the PCs wonder? [Seattle has DIRTY COPS…]), a handful of average joes, and a flashily-dressed Hispanic man with a brace of muscle guys who can only be Angel.

[At this point Cieran’s player joins the session.] Cieran, meanwhile, has dealt with his work emergency. He’s also received a phonecall from one Rhonda McLaine, manager of the Hot Lips strip club, asking him to meet with her at the club. [Shocking coincidence!] Having taken care of a few problems and loose ends (i.e. corpses) for the White Court Vampires (WCVs) in town, he knows the Hot Lips is a WCV enterprise, belonging specifically to Portia Vermeer (aka Portia Starr, local ex-exotic dancer and porn idol), the daughter of Geoffrey Vermeer (head of the WCV in Seattle). One-on-one meets are not uncommon when dealing with not-entirely-legal business, so he agrees.

Jeremiah and Sasha have joined Angel at a table, with the muscle moving to a nearby table and paying close physical (if not mental) attention. Angel, primed by Ebenezer, is urbane and almost friendly. Almost. As he is asking what they’d like to drink, Cieran comes in and walks past their table on his way to the back of the club (where the offices are).

Jeremiah, with his DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD? flaw, is unable to repress a “Fuck me, what are you doing here Cieran?!” Angel notes this and looks suspicious, but the moment is smoothed over. Nonetheless, the muscle are now watching Jeremiah, Sasha and Cieran. The tension goes down quite a bit when Cieran is allowed into the rear part of the club (the door is guarded by a bouncer).

Angel, Jeremiah and Sasha make medium-talk based on their cover story (How did you hear about me? What do you want? How much can you actually sell? You do know I’m a dangerous drug dealer and can have your arms ripped off if you annoy me… etc.). Some rolls are made and passed.

Meanwhile, Cieran meets with Rhonda McLaine in her office. She gets straight to business – she knows what Cieran is, he knows what she is (a mortal working for the White Court), there’s no dancing around. Given their long and successful business relationship, she says, she would like to emphasise that the Euphorium project is a White Court thing and that other parties (namely Cieran and any ancillary Fae) should kindly keep their noses out of it.

[A little heavy-handedly, the GM points out that Cieran’s involvement in ‘the Euphorium thing’ is only 48 hours old and that all he did was ask around discreetly among his contacts.]

Cieran, not best pleased internally, smiles charmingly as Rhonda (or at least his glamoured face does) and assures her that he’ll take her request under advisement.

Knowing her limits (or not caring?), Rhonda nods and dismisses him from her attention, returning to her ledgers.

[It should be noted at this point that a number of Cieran’s customers in town have been known to refer to him as “The Cleaning Lady” – which does NOT sit well with Cieran. It’s looking as though Rhonda might be one of those people.]

Cieran leaves the office. As he does, he notices a neat pile of smallish cardboard boxes at the other end of the currently-empty hall and decides to investigate. When he sees that each box is sealed with biohazard tape, he decides to simply grab one, throw a quick veil over it and calmly walk out with it in his hand.

This is accomplished. Business concluded, Cieran leaves the club.

Meanwhile, Sasha and Jeremiah have concluded their negotiations with Angel, who has a few requirements for prospective dealers – one of them being quotas, and of course payment up front for the ‘product’. He expects them to move 200 units a week, but as their first week will be a trial period, he decides to let them have 40 units (by ‘have’ he means ‘buy’) and see how well they do.

As nonchalantly as they can, the PCs explain that they didn’t come armed with that much cash. This does not score any points with Angel, but he agrees to give them until the club closes to come back.

Somewhat panicked, Jeremiah and Sasha leave the club and explain their quandary to Cieran, who is waiting outside. Cieran, to whom four grand doesn’t mean much, simply nods and says he’ll be back (he’s Fae, he’s got a lucrative business, and he has the MONEY MEANS NOTHING TO ME (UNLESS IT’S GOLD) aspect). (There’s a fun moment when he un-veils the box he’s holding and says “Is this what you were trying to acquire?”).

Having figured out that making a deal with Angel only to fail to show up/pay up might not be the wisest course of action, the PCs get their money, which they hand over to the bartender at the Hot Lips just before closing time. (Angel is long gone, but the bartender knows what they’re there for.) In return, they get a box just like the one Cieran ‘acquired’.

The 3 PCs repair to Cieran’s funeral home (“Muldoon & Sons”) to check out the boxes. As expected, each box contains 40 vials of Euphorium, neatly packed in foam slots.

As Jeremiah nods off in his armchair, the other two discuss theories and next steps. Sasha is adamant that this drug enterprise needs to be stopped if at all possible and that finding out more about how it’s made, what it contains, what it does and whether there’s some kind of ‘antidote’ is absolutely essential. Cieran doesn’t really care one way or another (it only seems to be affecting mortals), but he sees that it’s important to Sasha and decides that makes it somewhat important to him too.

He remembers that one of his contacts told him a high muckety-muck White Court Vampire was in town to visit Geoffrey Vermeer (the local WCV head), and suddenly wonders whether this whole drug thing might not be one huge all-you-can-eat emotional buffet laid on in the muckety-muck’s honour. [Note: White Court vamps feed off emotions rather than blood, which would be much too crass for them. Not to mention that it goes right to the hips.]

In any case, given the fact that the Hot Lips is clearly one of the distribution centers for the Euphorium, it seems a fair bet that the White Court is involved somehow, whatever their motives may be.

Tired, the PCs retire to ponder their next move.

–End of Session 2–

 

Tabletop gaming – Fate and FAE and approaches, oh my!

If only I had read this post by Fred Hicks before I wrote this one a couple of days ago (and if only I weren’t so behind on my blog reading). I could just have linked it then, as I’m doing now, and said “Go read this. This is why I find Fate & variants exciting and playable and useful.”

It doesn’t deal with the same question and may even be apples v. oranges v. pears, but in the context of the discussion that ensued on my G+ post link, it does hopefully answer some questions regarding what Fate (and FAE) are and what they’re designed to do, and where that differs from what other systems are designed to do.

+Jens, this one’s for you. 🙂

Tabletop – DFAE Playtest – Session 1 write-up

I have no idea who might be interested in this other than my players, but 4 readers is equal to 4000 (ha! as if!) in my estimation.

At some point I’ll try to find a way to section this place off into more themely groups (MMO, Single-Player, Tabletop, Whatever), but don’t hold your breath. I am much better at wanting to be organised than at actually being it.

kira__were___crow__o_o_by_nagare_boshiDFAE Playtest – Session 1

Characters present:

Cieran Muldoon, Wyldfae Undertaker to the supes of Seattle

Korbin Stevens, Irascible Chaotic Good Wizard

Jeremiah Tooms, Small-Time Mortal Street Criminal

Sasha Travis, Streetwise EMT (and were-Crow)

Euphorium for the masses (Seattle)

It’s a quiet October Monday night in Seattle, apart from the fact that the weather has been unusually – some say unnaturally – hot and dry for months. A couple of cool days at the end of September raised hopes that the weather was breaking, but instead an Indian Summer of epic proportions has settled in. Daytime temps are in the 80s and no rain has fallen in months. Tempers are fraying among both the mortal and supernatural population of the city. Denizens of the Summer Court strenuously deny having any part in the weather (this time), while the local Native American population does the same (it’s not called an Indian Summer for nothing, right?)

Here 4 The Beer (H4B), a bowling team composed of a misfit crew of supernatural and supernatural-adjacent people (the PCs), is meeting at the Lois Lanes to play, as they do at least once a week almost every week of the year. [See The Lois Lanes venue at the end of the post.]

Also present on this Monday evening are the Gutter Girls, the Bowling Stones and the Holy Rollers. All three teams are in the league quarter-finals on Tuesday and all three are practicing hard. Here 4 The Beer is not in their league (at least in terms of skill) and was eliminated several rounds ago. As far as the PCs know, all three teams are made up of muggles.

Not bowling but occupying their usual table away from the lanes are four or five members of the “Chess Club”, which plays far more mobile and computer games than chess these days and spends a great deal of time arguing about nerdy things nobody else understands (or admits to understanding).

A few muggles have come in for a beer and some food.

As the PCs play they notice that the people around them seem to be especially short-tempered this evening. A couple of increasingly heated arguments are defused by liberal applications of mai-tais (thanks to Cieran) and threatening bouncers… after having been fanned by liberal applications of Jeremiah’s DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD and Korbin’s I DO NOT SUFFER FOOLS GLADLY. The especially cranky types include the Gutter Girls, the Bowling Stones (though that was almost entirely Korbin’s fault) and the Chess Club boys. The latter are arguing about who is the best Star Trek captain ever.

[This leads to a brief and fortunately not angry exchange among the PCs, who apparently all have a bit of a nerdy tinge to them, concerning who is really the best Star Trek captain.]

At any rate nobody comes to blows. The Gutter Girls finish their practice and go home.

Sasha is contacted by her work – she’s on call this evening, as she has been for weeks. The heat wave has predictably driven up the crime rate, and the EMT teams have had their hands full keeping up with a wave of physical injuries due to everything from domestic disputes to bar brawls and outright murder on the streets. The call location is not far from the Lanes and her colleagues will pick her up on the way.

While Sasha is gone, Korbin ponders the fact that Devlin, one of the Chess Club boys, appeared to remain calm – even happy – during the entire nerdy argument; in fact, the more his friends yelled at him, the happier and calmer he seemed. He mentions this, and Cieran remembers that Betty (one of the Gutter Girls) also seemed weirdly calm and happy while her three friends were arguing with each other.

Korbin decides to use the Sight on Devlin. [No roll called for, partly because the GM forgot to ask for one and partly because the GM was hoping the mage would do exactly that.] Sight-seen Devlin appears mostly normal, apart from the weird purple-black smoke coiled around his neck, tendrils drifting off into the ether. (Korbin sees a number of other things about the Lois Lanes and its denizens which aren’t currently relevant.)

Meanwhile, Sasha discovers that the victim the EMT team was called to is Betty, one of the Gutter Girls. She appears to be dead, although there are no obvious signs of trauma.

Sasha decides to invoke her STREETWISE EMT aspect to do what she can to save Betty, even though it seems to be too late. With the help of her team-mates [and a great roll], she manages to revive and then stabilize Betty, and her team-mates drive the unconscious Gutter Girl off to the hospital while Sasha returns to Lois Lanes to let her friends know what happened.

Back at the bowling alley, everyone is shocked to hear what happened to Betty but relieved to hear she is not dead. Sasha gets the number of another Gutter Girl from the contacts list maintained at the bar and informs the ladies. Cieran buys her a well-done beer.

At this point, shaken and tired, the PCs decide to head home.

[More was planned for this scene but the GM failed her prep roll. As it was, I think it worked out as an intro scene to let everyone get into character and meet each other.]

Over the next couple of days the PCs try to find out more about what is going on in the city, because they’re not sure this heat wave and violence thing is natural.

Sasha keeps tabs on Betty in the hospital but Betty remains comatose. Her doctor is stumped as to what might have caused her to collapse in the street – perhaps an embolism? Sasha does find out that ‘embolism’ and ‘heart failure’ seem to be common causes of death in the last few weeks, which implies to her that the medical examiners have no idea what’s causing the deaths.

Cieran, meanwhile, is tapping his Fae contacts just in case Summer is dissembling (not lying, of course) and does have a hand in the heat and crime-wave. The Summer fae repeat that as far as they know, nothing is going on. His rather more distant contacts among the vamps in town report that there’s a high muckety-muck from the White Court in town, visiting Geoffrey Vermeer (Seattle’s White Court head honcho), but that they don’t see how that could cause the heat or the violence.

For his part, Korbin hits the books to find out more about the purple-black smoke stuff he Saw around Devlin’s neck. The Sight being what it is, that could mean anything (anything bad, at any rate). He wonders if it has anything to do with possession, but Korbin tends to think in that direction and does not find direct confirmation in his books. However, he does establish that the color and the shape of what he saw does usually indicate some sort of symbolic (if not direct) control or possession, though it does not relate to any entity he can find. [He hit the Restricted Occult Collection at U-Dub and therefore owes Linda the Librarian a favor.]

Uneasy but unsure why, the PCs meet up at the Lois Lanes on Wednesday around lunchtime in order to discuss what’s been going on and compare notes.

As they eat they start to argue about the various theories that are being proposed, mostly egged on by Jeremiah who thinks these supernatural types are full of crap (clearly it’s the heat). Cieran suddenly leaves the table and disappears into the restrooms. (Cieran suspects the arguments might have something to do with him, so Cieran carefully inspects himself for signs of… anything weird, and then reapplies his Glamour.) [GM note – it would have been helpful, Fate-wise, if Cieran’s player had told the table where and why he was going, but it takes a while to realise that Fate expects/encourages players to play on both the meta- and the character level.]

When one of the PCs spots Sally (the waitress) leaning beatifically on the bar as she watches them yell at each other and points this out to the others, the group realizes that something weird is going on and that being inappropriately happy might be more than just a weird personality trait.

Sasha already mooted the theory that it might be some sort of drug, driving people to unusual levels of anger and subsequent violence, but the lack of marks on Betty sort of stymied that line of thinking.

Now, however, the theory is back on the table. Jeremiah steps away to call his contacts and see if a new drug has hit the streets. [Current table rule is that a wizard’s hex isn’t going to mess with all electronics around him unless it’s dramatically appropriate for that to happen, but the GM did rule that uneasy wizard + nearby cellphone wasn’t going to be good for the cellphone.]

Meanwhile, Korbin decides to use the Sight on Sally. [And the GM decides that using the sight on every Tom, Dick and Harry is eventually going to bite Korbin in the ass, if he’s not careful – I’m far more inclined to use the books as a guide than the rules, which turn a possible Cthulhu-esque SAN loss experience into a more watered-down skill roll.] Unsurprisingly she too has this wispy, tendril-releasing purple-black smoke around her neck. Other than that she is actually a rather pleasant sight – clearly not human, she appears as a sort of epitome of apple-pie, middle-aged, motherly concern, which is pretty much how she treats everyone who comes to the Lanes.

Jeremiah returns to the table, having discovered that yes, there’s a new drug on the streets, but it certainly can’t be having these effects. It’s called Euphorium and all it does is make the imbiber super happy. Not stoned, exactly, and certainly not trippy, just… happy. His contacts don’t know where it’s coming from, though they’re pretty sure it’s not coming through the usual distributors.

The group decides to head outside to discuss developments away from Sally’s smiling (and listening) presence. As they leave, Cieran stops to pay their tab – Jeremiah ‘forgot his wallet’ again – and, as nonchalantly as only a Fae can muster, asks: “Hey Sally, where does one go to buy drugs around here? I see you’re on something and it seems pretty cool!”

Fortunately Sally doesn’t seem to know drug protocol either, and happily tells him she got the stuff from Devlin, and that’s it’s awesome! She’s pretty sure Devlin will be around later – he’s there almost every evening.

The PCs theorise that a magically-altered drug might make the imbiber happy through some sort of funky magic, but that the cost for said effect is that everyone else around the imbiber is less happy, angry, violent, etc. That would explain the happy campers in the middle of the heated arguments.

They decide to reconvene later in the day to put the squeeze on Devlin.

This they do, having nominated Jeremiah (the criminal) as the most likely candidate for said squeezing. Sasha and Cieran wait over by the pinball machines at the other end of the building, while Korbin loiters incredibly un-subtly around the corner behind Jeremiah, ready to throw up a magical shield if Devlin turns out to be tougher than expected.

Jeremiah totally fails to impress Devlin with his criminal street chops [Rep stunt, no Heat used], but he does manage to lift Devlin’s wallet while they’re talking and that gets Devlin’s attention. Fortunately the kid isn’t exactly a hardened criminal himself. He explains that he usually only deals weed and Vicodin and stuff like that. (Judging by Devlin’s clothes and expensive gadgets, Jeremiah suspects he’s a trust-fund kid who got cut off and is trying to fund his expensive slacker lifestyle.)

At any rate, he recently started dealing this Euphorium and the stuff is awesome! He takes it himself, and it’s totally excellent and has no side-effects or anything!

Jeremiah rolls his eyes but asks Devlin if he has any on him for sale… then gulps when Devlin hands him a tiny vial (perfume-sample size, full of dark purple smoky, swirling liquid) and asks for $200. They dicker, and eventually settle on the return of Devlin’s wallet plus a stolen credit card (Jeremiah doesn’t usually have a lot of cash on him).

The transaction complete, Jeremiah strolls away, Korbin behind him (mocked by Devlin for his utter lack of sneakiness), and they rejoin the other two.

–End of Session 1–

The Lois Lanes (venue)

The Lois Lanes is an old bowling alley built sometime in the middle of the 20th century. It’s got space-evoking swoops of concrete outside and is decorated in vintage 50s red vinyl – and, of course, lots and lots of chrome. While it only boasts a dozen lanes, it does have a liquor license and the cook, Duke, makes one of the meanest burgers in town.

The Lois is the unofficial supernatural bowling venue in Seattle, for those who care for such pastimes, though muggles are allowed in to make up the numbers. The presence of muggles means the supernaturals are expected to behave themselves. This expectation is supported by the presence of the twin bouncers, Castor and Pollux, who are unnaturally large by mortal standards (and even larger by troll standards for those who know or can see through the glamour). Also somehow part of the enforcement team are Heckel and Jeckel, or Helter and Skelter, or whatever the patrons want to call the pair of mangy little yappy-type dogs that roam freely about the place. (No, they’re not dogs. But even the supernaturals aren’t sure what they are.) Heckel and Jeckel are apparently incredibly sensitive to any kind of non-friendly conflict, and Castor and Pollux are incredibly sensitive to H&J’s warnings.

As a result, people generally behave themselves at the Lois. Not behaving oneself results in a quick trip to the pavement out front. Repeated misbehavior results in banination, usually temporary. Those banned for good from the Lois Lanes are few in number and they are never spoken of.

DFAE RPG… where the D stands for DERP

Right. So.

On September 15th I posted with  much glee and anticipation that the Dresden Files Accelerated Edition playtesting had begun. Yay!

Then I waited for the download link to arrive. And waited. And waited. And thought wow, this is taking a while. And hosted my mum for a month, tried to keep my (not so) inner introvert sane, and waited.

And cleaned up  my inbox.

And found the download link, sent on September 16th.

Only one image is appropriate for how much of a moron I felt, just now, when I found that link.

stupidity

So now we have rather less than 60 days in which to complete 3 play sessions, but that’s ok. We’ll manage. I AM PREPARED TO BUY A VIRTUAL AI-POWERED CATTLE PROD, just so my players know I’m serious about this. But it does mean managing a session a week, pretty much.

Those of you who indicated interest, check your G+ community invites. I sent a few out that haven’t been accepted. If that was intentional, it’s all good — if not, remind me here and I’ll resend; seems I may need people’s G+ addresses since invites aren’t always getting received, even to people already in my circles (@BlueKae, e.g.?). It’s a private group so the invite is needed to get into the super-seekrit sanctum. Sessions are currently planned for this Friday (16th) and Sunday (18th), to include character creation and whatever else we manage to do.

There’s still time to get involved. Let me know here or mail me.

Timing is, as always, a bitch. And I guess that between parental visit (which happens once or twice a decade since we’re on different continents) does trump roleplaying playtest. Maybe. Le sigh.

 

Dresden Files Accelerated RPG

Eeeeee, we’re in we’re in we’re in! I haven’t been this excited about a beta for ages. And we must be super-ultra-mega special (okay, or just lucky with the RNG) because according to Mr. Hicks himself,

… with 50 slots for 850 applicants, even if everyone’s equally awesome (a possibility), there’s a less than 6% chance of getting in.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

I will be posting about this because it’s not only allowed but actually encouraged. What I can’t do, obviously, is discuss rules-y stuff and other stuff that’s in the materials we use to play. I’m sure that leaves a TON of room for frothing madly about how much fun we’re having. Because we will have fun. OR ELSE.

DFRPGA beta two

Now to make sure I can actually round up enough players at the right time to get some sessions going. If you’re reading this and interested, leave your contact email or G+ handle in the comments below so I can invite you to the Google+ community we made. Or mail me at ysharros -at- gmail -dot- com, or circle me on G+ and post on my wall or whatever it is the cool kidz do to hit each other up on G+. I am totally prepared to run multiple groups. I am only mildly manic at the prospect of not only running again, but running a game for an IP for which I am a self-admitted rabid fangirl.

HOW I plan to do this with work and the maternal unit here for the next month is a bridge I’ll burn when I get to it. I don’t have the super-seekrit rulez dokument yet anyway.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

 

Wot I'm Playing – September 2015

This is a total cop-out post because I’m not actually playing anything, hee hee, ho ho. So you’re about to be regaled with all the games I’m not playing, which has been a quarterly litany this year.

WARNING: Do not click the subheading links unless you want to watch extremely silly and definitely NSFW comedians on YouTube. YHBW.

A Compuder

I’m not playing WoW, even though the Draenor flying patch is in and whatnot. Not for lack of interest — well okay, partly for lack of interest — actually, wait, almost totally for lack of interest. And not just in Warcraft. Nothing is really calling my name these days. I’m also not playing TSW, though I keep both games up to date. I’ll have to log back into TSW soon, if only to take more screenshots. Easily the best game evar for moody and evocative screenshots — and for allowing me to make a character that looks the way I would totally love to look in that grindy-ass Real Life game.

It doesn’t help that MMOs are better with other people. But other people tend to play in the evenings, and in the last 6-36 months I’ve tended to conk out right around the time the sun goes down. (Turns out that’s almost certainly the medications I’m on and not just some weird mutation that’s turning me into a sloth, but that’s a whole other story for another time.)

I got all up in ARK‘s business for what, a week? … and haven’t fired it up since. (Playing alone probably didn’t help that one.) I played Shadowrun: Hong Kong and that was super fun, but when I thought I was about a third of  the way in it turns out I was almost at the end, and I finished it before I truly realised what was happening. Super fun but too damn short! Of course, it includes some sort of development platform so maybe there will be other adventures to play. It was never intended to be another Skyrim or Witcher, after all.

Speaking of the Witcher, been meaning to pick up the 3 that people are raving about but haven’t got round to that either yet. In fact, if you were to check my to-do list you’d notice I haven’t done a single item on it.

I haven’t played my new Sims 4 Legacy family in over a month — but there I’m not so worried, because I always go back to the Sims. After looking down my nose at that game for a number of years (and incarnations 1 and 2), I picked up Sims 3 on a whim in 2009 and have been pretty regularly hooked ever since. I don’t play it all the time, but I do play it several times a year for a month or so. So the Stylishes will be back, sooner or later, and I may even post about them someday.

What I have been doing is preparing for the impending parental visit. My mum will be staying with us for ONE. WHOLE. MONTH., so we have to brace ourselves and assume crash positions. And clean the house. Lots and lots and lots of cleaning the house.

airplane_crash_position

Me? Mobile games? With my reputation?

It’s also possible I’ve been *cough* playing a few mobile games. I never did get the point of those until I got a decent tablet; the only games I have on my phone are sudoku, crosswords and a Bejeweled clone and I hardly ever play those as it is. But on the iPad… hell, if it moves I’ve downloaded it. Well, not quite, but I’ve tried out a few games. And I spend a few moments every day doing whatever non-in-app-purchase moves I can do. Which isn’t many, but when you have about 6 games that’s about an hour’s worth.

I’m currently farting about with Happy Street (which fails to hook me but is super cute and so easy it hurts, and it’s all Syl’s fault), Paradise Bay (ditto with nice Disney-like graphics), Adventure Capitalist (seriously, making money to buy more stuff and make more money faster? I might as well be raiding), Best Fiends (which is super cute and kind of fun, since I like match-3 games), and the standard crosswords, sudoku and mahjongg.

Le tabletop game est sur la table

And of course there’s the attempt at a tabletop group and some games. There’s a G+ community going at the moment with a half-dozen folks, and we’ve met up a couple of times on Roll20. Yesterday we did some character creation with about half the group and will fit the other half in as and when schedules allow.

[Tangent-ish: speaking of which, because the schedules and time zones of the current dirty half-dozen are so hard to reconcile, I’d be happy to sort out two or even more groups – playing or GMing, I’m easy. So if you’re interested in playing something FATE-related, or even finding out what the big deal is about FATE, leave your Pathfinder books at home and holler at me in the comments, or on G+.]

Oddly enough it never occurred to me that scheduling is possibly even harder online than it is in person. I expected it to be the opposite… but we have 2 players from the UK, 4 from the US East Coast, and me in the US South-west, which gives us a 7-hour time-zone spread and makes things a little complicated. Add to that some odd work schedules (some folks have non-Sat/Sun weekeneds, some work rotating shifts, some have pretty hefty workloads, we all have other external commitments, etc. etc. etc.) and I swear it’s been harder getting us to our computers and keyboards than it would be to head down to my local game shop and kidnap a few callow youths.

Problem is, I don’t want callow youths. One of the best things about getting older and being an experienced gamer is that you get to play with other older and/or experienced gamers — gamers who don’t think a dungeon crawl with 10,000 gp as a reward is the best thing you can get out of tabletop games. (Not that I have anything against a good Monty Haul campaign, mind you, but I did outgrow those in the 90s.) Or, to be a bit more tolerant of the chronologically-challenged, I don’t want inflexible callow youths. I want to play with folks who don’t mind stretching their gaming comfort zone, as I am currently trying to do.

In fact, what I’m really doing is trying out systems that formalise how my RL friends and I played for years. We didn’t always play so-called storytelling or story-heavy systems, but we always played them as though they were. Character was paramount (possibly herded by a literature major who has very definite opinions about whether character drives plot or the other way around *cough*). And–

And so on. Since this is still nominally an MMO blog, at least until I change the tagline at the top of the page, I won’t froth about tabletop gaming. But the 2 semi-sessions that have been managed have been fun so far; here’s hoping we’ll manage a few more.

The Obligatory Comment-Inducing Question at the End

And you? What have you been playing or wishing you had time to play? Do you think the moon is made of cheese? Who really shot JR? And was the ending of LOST lame or what?

 

Blaugust Day 29 – Probably Foofery

So… I got nothin’.

Eh, that’s not entirely true. I got lots of stuff but I don’t want to write about it today. I have a post I want to do about how Blaugust was awesome (and exhausting) and how the community is awesome and about how EVERYTHING IS AWESOME. Even Princess YellowFeather thinks so*.

But that post is for next Monday (the 31st) or perhaps even for next Tuesday, as a post-mortem.

I have another post I want to do that’s all about frothing over tabletop RPGs, but that would take too much effort away from other things today — such as actually getting said tabletop RPG going. These things don’t write themselves, you know! (Posts or games.) I’m fairly certain this would only interest a small subset of my readership but, though I love you all, as always I also don’t care. You’ll read what I write and you’ll like it!

Or, you know, not read it. That’s cool too.

gaming geeks

I should do a post about my new Sims4 Legacy family, the Stylishes (pronounced Stye-LEESH with an outrrrrrageous French accent), because quite a few of the folks who have been reading here this last year are Sims4 players and I don’t want to completely ignore them — and because it’s been a fairly fun Legacy so far that hasn’t been plagued by Terminal Triplet syndrome or other mourning-excess or family-forgetting bugs. But I haven’t played the Sims all month and I’d rather write about it while I’m in it, so to speak. Maybe in September.

I want to do a post about how I have totally and utterly failed to live up to my Gaming To-Do List, because REASONS. Number one being that I usually totally ignore lists, so this was no surprise to me.

Hah! I just took a look at it and I haven’t done a single item on that list! To give myself a little bit of credit, I did try: I downloaded Torchlight II and was super keen to play that, but the Steam install keeps throwing out a Disk Write error and I absolutely cannot be arsed to jump through uninstalling and reinstalling Steam, as is their suggested solution. Screw that.

Well anyway, this was just to prove that I have tons of material, dammit! — I just choose not to use it today. And I bet I’m totally the best at writing about how I’m not writing out of all the Blaugustians out there. I said so on the internet so it must be true.

Last but not least, if you ever want to show support for a blog but don’t have time to say much or the words just won’t come, I refer you to @Wolfy’s suggestion, which I will adopt from now on. It’s friendly, cheerful, and super-positive:

I TOTES AGREE WITH YOU HIGH FIVE!

PS: Foofery is a word I thought I’d made up but apparently hadn’t. Not that I trust the Urban Dictionary to define shit (literally) as so many of the entries are entirely made up, but I can’t really throw stones there, now can I. I do come up a lot on Google searches for the word though, which I am quite unjustly proud of. On this blog, if nowhere else, it’s a word for general stuff-and-meaningless-nonsense — you know, like this post.

– – – – – – – – – –

* I sure hope that link works for people. As of yesterday I can no longer watch YouTube videos on my Windoze PCs. Only one in every 10 or 15 videos will load.

It’s not Windoze 10 as I suspected, because I have the issue on my Win 8.1 Laptop. It’s not Firefox, because I have the issue on Chrome and even on (*spit*) Edge. It’s not hardware acceleration, since turning that off has no effect on any browser. It doesn’t appear to be a Flash issue (my FF Flash has been broken for months but Chrome’s is not). It’s not AdBlock because I had the same issue on the iPad in Safari, which doesn’t run that extension — which means it’s not Windoze at all.

Oddly enough, the iPad YouTube app and the Android YouTube app appear quite healthy and unwilling to censor my binge-watching of Mishka and Laika videos. Anyway, I mention this only in case one of you delightful, smart and helpful people had the exact same problem and found a solution not already covered above. And to spread the Gospel of the Talking Husky, because CUTE-DOG.

Blaugust Day 27 – Game MMOver?

Well, at least by now I’ve learned how to type Blaugust and not Balugust, Blagaust, or Blasgut. Small victories, folks — small victories.

I’m careening full-speed ahead on my tabletop RPG kick. It’s energising me far more than the thought of any MMO has in the last [insert time span]. In fact, thinking about tabletop playing has energised me far more over the last 4 or 5 years than MMOs have; the fact that in half a decade I still haven’t managed to get myself a regular group with a regular game is entirely my fault and not that of the poor games I’ve perused, pondered and reminisced over. Like my writing (what writing, we ask?), it’s something I really, really want to do — in the case of tabletop gaming, because I actually enjoy it as a social activity and because it’s a great creative outlet… But, as with “proper” writing, I spend more time wanting to do than actually doing. Again, this is entirely my own fault. Time to stop QQing or going down nostalgia lane and DO SOMETHING about it. But for now, let’s talk about MMOs.

MMO QQ

Last night, as I lay wide-awake after too much coffee too late in the day and too many creative juices churning with no outlet (they should make a pill for that), I wondered once again whether I’ve finally outgrown MMOs. I’m not the only one to ponder this during Blaugust or indeed at any other time of year, so perhaps it’s simply part of growing up and growing older, this wondering whether we have outgrown the things we used to love so passionately.

Perhaps. But it’s been 15+ years since I played Ars Magica and I’d play it again like a shot given the chance, so clearly I haven’t outgrown that — or moved on from tabletop RPGs. Not playing because I lack the gorm to get a group together /= having outgrown it.

I think my problem with MMOs is that I have nobody to play them with. Which may seem like a rather sharp about-face given my usual stance on solo vs. group, but that’s playstyle, not playing. I’ve always preferred bimbling around by myself in MMOs — I don’t mind mine being the only butt I see onscreen… but up until a few years back there were always a bunch of other people also bimbling around at the same time, single-butted or otherwise, and I was in constant contact with them through chat.

alone together

In Asheron’s Call we had a large and active monarchy (guild) and loads of people to mess around with even using the incredibly primitive chat. A number of the AC monarchy people moved to Star Wars Galaxies when that came out, and we had friends both old and new cursing the not-so-primitive but also non-functioning chat. We moved from SWG to (City of Heroes, briefly, then to) World of Warcraft, so there again we had old-old friends, new-old friends from SWG, and new-new friends from WoW to chat with on various channels.

And that’s sort of where it ended. I moved on to EQ2 in 2006 or so, and while I made quite a few new friends there, it wasn’t the same either in quantity or in quality… and it only went downhill from there. In the last decade we’ve seen an explosion of MMOs, and while that’s a good thing in many ways, one of its less social effects is that it has diluted my pool of available friends and acquaintances when it comes to having people to play alone with, together. We’re all still playing, yes (albeit probably not as much as we did back in 2005), but we’re not playing the same games.

Or not at the same time, anyway. Many of us hop around from one game to another, myself included. In the last 5 years I’ve played more games than I care to count, but none of them for more than 3-6 months at a time. We try new games as they come out, and for a few weeks I’m back in the halcyon days of having plenty of folks I know in-game to talk and mess around with… and then I lose interest, or they lose interest, or for whatever reason we move on.

bored

I really thought I’d come home when I started playing the SWG Emulator, as my posts back then attest. There were only a dozen or so of us playing but it was enough to keep the social momentum going. And then… one by one, folks dropped away. Including me. My enthusiasm was in full fire in April this year… and by July it had petered out to nothing. I haven’t logged on in over a month and my houses are probably on fire (well, houses don’t burn, but you can be sure my harvesters are gone). The worst part of it is, I don’t really care.

Because MMOs simply aren’t as much fun when the O doesn’t stand for “Others”, whether their character is on your screen or whether it’s just the characters they type in guild or global chat.

You can never go home

The social aspect is by no means the only reason MMOs are going stale for me, even if it’s a large part of the reason. I know I can slaughter 10 foozles over and over again for ages in the right company, because — well, because I’ve been doing it for 15 years in 30 different games. But there’s another rub: the 2015 foozles have better graphics and perhaps slightly better AI, but the beast itself hasn’t changed substantively.

It’s undeniably another reason why MMOs are going stale for me — even I, with my enormous capacity for repeating content, might be reaching my limit. I stumbled across this post from 2011 just now while looking for links to something else, and it shows that the growing malaise with endlessly doing the same thing in MMOs isn’t exactly new. How quickly we forget the dawn of time when everything was shiny and fun, even after 10,000 foozles. Ah, 1999, those were the days.

But that’s human nature, I suspect.

Back to the beginning

And so we circle back to tabletop RPGs. I started playing MMOs in 2000 because a friend told me it was just like tabletop roleplaying, only online*! You could play with other people at any time of the day or night!! You didn’t have to wait for your half-dozen friends to have a free weekend and pile everyone into a small UK house for 72 hours every 3 to 4 months!!! You could even play alone if you had to and get eaten by a pixellated grue!!

I didn’t get into MMOs because I played computer games (although I played quite a few, including MUSHes). I got into MMOs because they were supposed to be just like tabletop gaming, only different.

Turns out they’re too different, at least for me. I can’t roleplay in an MMO, for various reasons described elsewhere — or rather, I can but I don’t enjoy it. And the thing about roleplaying is that you’ll never have the same experience twice. Sure, some events will resemble other events, some plots will be rather similar to other plots, but those just add to the RP lore and mythos in your mind and in the shared memories of the group.

That element of creation, permanence and effect on the world — even an imaginary one — coupled with the social aspect is what I’m missing in my MMOs. It’s not that MMOs have become crap, or worse than they were, because if anything they’re improving (even if the WoW model is getting a little stale); it’s just that I can no longer pretend I’m getting out of them what I got out of tabletop RPGs.

So while I may dabble in my usual MMOs for the foreseeable future, I’ll be turning my energies to the tabletop arena. It’ll recharge my batteries and who knows, it might even help me recover that sense of fun in online gaming.

dark side

You’re welcome to join me. I’m going to set up some kind of social phlumphty-phlump (AKA I have no idea what to use — Google Hangouts? Vent? Skype? Roll20?) to chat with anyone who’s interested in trying (or returning to) tabletop gaming.

 

* You did have to pay exorbitant phone fees in the era of minute-based internet connections, but we won’t go there.

 

 

 

 

Blaugust Day 26 – LFG PNP RPG

TL;DR: #Blaugust-ians, don’t give up! The end is nigh! (And this is a good thing for once.) Zen is tough. Cute red panda. Call for tabletop RPG players. Poll results = CHEESE WINS.

As #Blaugust wanes, so does the energy of the, err, at least 460(ish)* bloggers. I’m judging this from my traffic stats, which have taken a modest downward turn this week. Others have noted the same.

I can tell you from my own behaviour that I am browsing fewer blogs this week than I was through the first three weeks of the month, not because they’ve become any less interesting — quite the contrary in fact! — but because I am running out of energy. Social energy, for the most part, which is the part of me that reads and comments on blogs, writes and comments on my own (and cares about the comments), and posts/comments on social media. My social energy bucket is damn near empty, and conversely my introvert AUUGGHOTHERPEOPLE bucket is almost overflowing.

full bucket

[/tangent: re: traffic stats, even that’s not the whole story. I think I have people who are coming back more regularly — and who are more than welcome to keep doing so past Blaugust, ohai regular folks! — and who aren’t browsing several pages and/or posts every time. In the first two weeks of the month I had about twice the number of views as visitors, which I assume is partly people browsing and partly the usual dreaded bots.]

But we’re in the home stretch. Go team #Blaugust! And since I had to edit it into yesterday’s post, here’s a mo’ better proper-like link to Belghast’s post from yesterday. It resonated quite strongly with me.

As time passed, the guilt that I felt grew and the measure of that “epic comeback post” kept growing as well ultimately leading me to wait longer before posting it.

Yup. Hopefully Blaugust will have taught me that there is no epic comeback post. There’s just posting or not posting. I’m still trying to learn — beyond my rational mind, that is, which knows all sorts of things my less conscious mind just ignores — that guilt is entirely counter-productive and definitely destructive. But whole empires have been built on guilt, so it’s a tough one to shake. My mind struggles with the concept that I am not a perfect unique snowflake (forever falling short of the pinnacle of said perfection!) but rather a work in progress. Journey not destination, uphill in the snow, etc. and so on.

Zen is tough. That’s the whole point.

[Insert graceful segue to next section. Um. -mindblank- Ack! Quick, cute animal picture!]

redpanda

LFG PNP RPG

I am on the Evil Hat mailing list. Evil Hat are, among other things, responsible for the FATE Core tabletop RPG system and for the Dreaden Files rules, which are based on the eponymous series by Jim Butcher.

[/tangent: I am a rabid Dresden Files fangirl and will turn upon you the full weight of my two literature degrees – though even I fail to see how a French Lit. degree will help in this case – if you so much as cast an iota of the shadow of an aspersion upon those books. I am not rabid about many things. YHBW.]

Just as there is a FATE Accelerated ruleset, which is a slightly different, streamlined, more immediately accessible (‘grab & go’) version of the FATE Core rules, there will soon be a Dresden Files Accelerated ruleset. There has been an announcement. Said announcement includes a call for playtesters.

I AM SO THERE. I have already applied.

pickme

Unfortunately, it turns out that the spousal unit doesn’t have the head-space for tabletop RPGs at the moment. My single other player is, while a wonderful player, at best unreliable and at worst impossible to pin down for a facetime play session.

So I am left with an application in which I claim to have players I don’t, in fact, have (I should probably have checked with them first, huh?), and a tabletop gaming itch that hasn’t been properly scratched in a decade and a half.

I figure the quandary can be solved by finally selecting one of those newfangled virtual tabletop programs (as opposed to merely farting around with the idea as I did a year or two ago) and calling for players.

I am terrified of this. I like playing with people I know. I haven’t played tabletop games with strangers since Euro GenCon in 1993 or 4. But I figure most people here aren’t entirely strangers and some of them might actually be fellow Dresden fans, or players, or simply interested in the idea.

On the bright side, a) I likely won’t be picked anyway because there will be more applications than they need, and b) the decision isn’t made until the end of September, which gives me a little time. Playtesting would occur — I assume — during October and November (ish? guessing) and would require committing to 4-6 sessions over an 8-week period.

Deadlands

I’ve been wanting to run and/or play (but mostly run, I’ll admit, because I’m jonesing to write another campaign or three) for ages and have done nothing about it. I have a number of RL and e-friends in the same boat, some of whom read this. Let’s do something about it. Whether anything comes of the Dresden Files Accelerated testing or not, I have or can acquire any number of game systems including but not limited to FATE, Ars Magica (I’m a 2/3/4E + many house flanges girl for the most part), Deadlands (which I have never played but picked up on the Bundle of Holding a month or two ago and would love to try), Vampire and clones, AD&D, Shadowrun, Cthulhu etc. etc. etc.

As a GM I tend more towards cooperative story-telling than GM/Player competition. I heartily endorse this essential LOOK ROBOT post on being a great player, which applies just as much to GMs; here’s another very worthwhile post.

This is starting to sound rather painfully like I’m filling out an online dating site profile, so we’ll stop here.

And now for something completely different.

CHEESE

Cheese wins the poll so far, by a landslide 6 votes over 5 for pie. I knew I could count on the Dirty Half-Dozen. Yes, of course I forgot all about the poll until now. It’s not like it was important or anything. I live in a pie- and cake-tolerant world.

See you tomorrow, folks. (Also known as: Shooting Yourself In The Foot or Asking to Roll A Natural 1.)

– – – – – – – – –

* AKA I have no idea. It’s at least 60 based on counting new posts in my reader, and I still haven’t managed to add everyone.

Blaugust Day 24 – Shadowrun: Hong Kong – a brief review

You can get it on Steam.

It’s what I ended up playing the most this weekend, and although I’m only a little ways into it (I think) I figured a brief review wouldn’t hurt for those who are considering picking it up. Note that this, like any other review I might do, is entirely subjective and does not aim to offer anything but my own impressions.

I backed the Kickstarter campaign awhile back, not because I’m a Shadowrun PC game fan (I didn’t even know there had been any) but because I’m a Shadowrun the tabletop game fan. I had the first edition rules and a few modules, and for me Shadowrun is probably the tabletop game that got away — we played it a few times and I was keen to do more, but after the usual romp through D&D / AD&D our group went down the White Wolf path and into all things Vampire for a while before transitioning into Ars Magica, which is what we played for several years until I left for the States in 2001. (And what the group is still playing as far as I know. Without me. Bastards! I know some of you read this!)

Mr. Plastic-Face. Shouldn’t be creepy but is.

All of which is to explain that I approached the game as a tabletop role-player and not as a computer gamer. I had no particular expectations of the game other than that it would allow me to immerse myself in the rather fun Shadowrun mythos for a while. For an approach based more on having played the two previous PC games, check out Wot I Think on RPS; I agree with a lot of it from what I’ve played so far, but I wanted to add my own take on the tabletop or more RPG elements.

The intro is a rainy, grainy, typical cyberpunk/noir tale of things gone wrong shown through a series of moody and evocative semi-animated panels. Some will no doubt miss the grand and expensive full-action cinematic, but I loved the format because it leaves more room for my own imagination to fill in the blanks.

2015-08-21_00007

After that you’re thrown into a normal computer-RPG adventure where you track down mysteries, deal with NPCs good and bad, help the downtrodden or do the treading, and gradually unravel both your own main story and the stories of the group that’s decided to help you out.

RPS is right in saying that there’s a lot of text, but — though I didn’t know it when I started — that was exactly what I wanted from this game. It’s been like playing a tabletop adventure where I’m the only meatsack player and everyone else is computerised, including the GM. The descriptions are long, ornate, even florid on occasion… and they bring me right back to the grand old days of reading out boxed text from Castle Greyhawk or the Temple of Elemental Evil. (It didn’t take us long to grow up from purely parroting those out to doing our own flavour and descriptions, but still, boxed text is just one of those things you never forget.)

Heoi

I’ve even kept the music on, which is something I literally never do in games because no matter how long the loop may be, it’s always a loop. And it’s often way too rumpty-pumpty martial or deedly-wheedly fake-Medieval for me to be able to bear it scritching at my brain for more than a few minutes at a time. The SR:HK music is low-key for the most part and well-adapted to the environments, although it does go up and down in volume in certain locations with no apparent rhyme or reason. I can live with that – even though I’ve kept the music turned on, I’ve also got the volume for it down to about 30%.

The exploration gameplay is fairly standard – click to move, right-click to pan, click on things to interact with them – and the combat gameplay is probably nothing too new either (I wouldn’t know, I don’t play many of these games). It’s turn-based and was quite easy to pick up on. This is a plus for me, since I’m far more interested in the story than in the combat.

2015-08-22_00009

But it does lead me to one of the game’s failings, which is the utter lack of a tutorial. There are a few help screens that are more useful as a reminder than as an introduction, and basically that’s your lot. Fortunately I elected to play on Easy mode — because as I said, I’m far more interested in the story — and wasn’t penalised too badly for making the odd mistake; and after a few fights you pick up most of what you need to know. But still. There’s zero help on the Matrix and what you might want to do in there, or how, so it’s a good thing I’m a cyberpunk fan and could figure most of it out for myself.

2015-08-22_00002
In the Matrix

There’s no real help on how stats and skills work, what builds you might want to use and how you might want to develop your character, other than rather ironic warnings that you don’t want to mess up your own development or that of your crew, because you can’t go back and that would be bad!

In fact after a few hours of play I restarted with a new character, partly because I did mess up my xp allocation a bit and partly because the archetype I chose (Decker, i.e. hacker) was already far better covered by one of my crewmates. My second character is a shaman and although there’s one of those on the crew also, two shamans on the same mission crew isn’t as redundant as having two deckers.

I played quite a lot over the weekend so I’m probably a dozen hours in. Not being very well-versed in these games I’m not sure how far into things I am, but it feels like I’ve just hit the opening of the second act — not even, in fact, because I have a couple of missions I want to wrap up before I move on (and the game kindly reminded me to consider doing just that). I’m a very slow player in these games because I like to read everything, talk to everyone, and interact with every last object, so a super goal-oriented playstyle might have got to the same point in 2-3 hours if not faster.

My character choices throughout have been consistent with the persona I play in most games: street-smart, cynical, skimming on the border between legal and not, but generally a decent person. I give NPCs the benefit of the doubt and let people live when they surrender (including the rather fun ghoul crew-member you can get). I try to find non-violent solutions where possible, and the game gives you quite a few of these and fully supports not killing everything in sight. I don’t shoot my mouth off too much — just enough to exemplify my characters’ usual distaste for any kind of authority. And so on.

vamp queen

All in all I’m having a great time, as evidenced by the fact that I totally forgot that I’d invited folks to check out the ARK server I can fire up when needed. ARK didn’t get loaded up at all; nothing did, actually, since SR:HK was the only game I did play this weekend.

I’ll definitely play some more as soon as time allows, and this might be the one and only SRPG game of the last 10 years I actually finish. For some reason I usually lose steam about two-thirds of the way through (DA:O, DA2, DA:I…). But I have a feeling that SR:HK’s combination of screen-based running around and text-based depth is exactly what I’m looking for in a SRPG. Yes, it has a few flaws — the lack of newbie help, for one, and the rather unwieldy inventory and team UIs; for example, I can’t check my crew’s stats when trying to buy weapons or armour for them — is that because their gear updates (which it may do, but not in any way that’s been mentioned to me in game) or because they forgot to include that functionality?

But ultimately, when it came down to spending crowdfunding on tutorials or content — as I’m sure it did — I’m glad they opted for content. I’m at a little over a dollar an hour for my entertainment right now and that’s excellent value for money in my book.