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Showing posts from April, 2016

Night's Black Answers - a player's response to my questions for #NightsBlackAgents

In my last post I shared a short list of questions I'd asked the players in my Night's Black Agents campaign in the hope of generating some backstory details I could plunder for drama and complications.

Tonight Rowan's player replied - and instead of just answering the questions she copied me into a folder containing documents... a briefing document, an after action interview, and others with more game-related stuff.

I was blown away at the response anyway and then she pointed out that the group her character infiltrated was  real one, and the dates given corresponded to a real event of the type she described.  She did ask me to redact the name of the group just in case...     So I have.   But here is the response I got tonight.  I feel a very lucky GM indeed to be receiving campaign handouts from my players.

PDF Version

Night's Black Questions - quick backstory for #nightsblackagents characters

I'm a handful of adventures into my Night's Black Agents campaign and we're all getting a feel for the characters.    Having refreshed my exposure to the spy/thriller genre I've noticed that most protagonists have something lurking in their pasts that made a big impact on them.  

"He'd never been the same since Kiev" "Look, about that time in Madrid... " / "Never mention that again." "Miller dropped his hand, numb, this was too much like the failed extraction in Tokyo" Her thoughts drifted back to the moonless night camped near Petra, and the whispers that became roars.
So, following on from my recent use of directed questions in my Fate campaign I've just forwarded the following mini questionnaire to my NBA players.   Knowing them I'm sure they'll provide some interesting backstory and plot-hooks from their previous lives...
The One That Ended Badly
Where was the mission?
What was the objective?
Was the objective acc…

Red Shift episode 4: Calais - Night's Black Agents play report

Rowan and Hans regrouped after a few days of downtime during which Hans reminisced with an old special forces buddy back in Sweden and Rowan enjoyed an illicit few days of romance and hot funky adulterous action with her (married) lover, a former colleague of hers.   He floated the idea of her coming back to the group, telling her how her expertise at making and running networks of agents would be useful in the increasingly fragmented Middle East.  She declined.

The new job in Calais sounded straightforward enough.   There were rumours of a human trafficking operation there, and a local resident named Bernard Masson had enough money and sense of civic duty to want it stopped.  He was willing to pay good money, very good money, for evidence of what was going on and could point the team  toward a couple of good leads - a haulage company and a local gangster, both of whom were likely to be involved.

Rowan and Hans set watch on the haulage company and saw the local gangster, Danglars, ma…

The Saint's Hair?

Ethelflaeda was a pious woman, so they said.  Devoted to God and to his service.  And in those long ago days before the first millennium had come and emptily gone who was to say that the unorthodox methods of her worship were to be condemned?  They say she used to stand naked in the river in the heart of the night, in the coldest heart of the coldest night, and chant prayers to the Almighty.

She was a strong leader of the sisters under her rule and the abbey in the marshes, at Rum's Eg, flourished.   And she continued her private devotions in the heart of the night, in the river, in the only garments her God had given her.

History does not record what happened to her after her death, but the Church declared her a saint for her devotions and her leadership.

Eight hundred years later, a blink of the eye to some, a gravedigger named Mr Major was digging in the grounds of the abbey and discovered a coffin whose presence was previously unknown and unmarked.    What happened next is gi…

Gustav and Edward

School Hauntings

I saw an interesting article on the BBC news site today that was primarily focussed on the temporary closure of school in Kota Bharu, Malaysia following multiple sightings of an unexplained apparition.   There's even a photo which, showing an indistinct black shape which might be vaguely humanoid, is clear and incontrovertible proof of the supernatural (*coughs*).

The article then goes on to discuss other outbreaks of mass delusion/hallucination/hysteria at schools and posits some explanations for them.

Story Here

With my gamer/geek head on though I can't help but think that a boarding school environment could make for as good a pressure-cooker place of tension as any submarine or space station for an isolation horror game.

Maybe Hogwarts was a perfectly normal school with a particularly rich vein of shared delusion.   Or more interestingly maybe every perfectly normal school could be as dangerous and bizarre as Hogwarts given just a tiny push in the right direction and the right …

Red Shift - Episode 3 - Night's Black Agents play report

Episode Three of RedShift was played out on Sunday evening, and while lighter on the action than the opening two episodes was still pretty intense and we got to see the Heat mechanics close up.
Valiant freelance agents Rowan and Hans ended last session in a private room just off the ER of Casablanca’s main hospital.   Hans’ face and neck had been badly torn up by the mysterious Arab man who had punched through the windshield of his car and tried to break Hans’ neck during a high speed chase… until Rowan had blown the attacker’s brains all over the car with a point blank shot to the head.    The stability loss from seeing the man rise to his feet in the rear view mirror was the first big use of the Stability rules in the campaign but perfectly justified I think.

The Sundered Seven

In recent posts I've discussed the collaborative worldbuilding undertaken by myself and a couple of players new to Tabletop gaming and posted the questions I set them to outline the basics of the world, and the answers they came up with.

I'm attaching a link to the basic setting notes that resulted and hope they're an enjoyable read- we're adding more details as they come out in play of course so this was very much the first wide glance at the setting.   Every adventure has added more information of course as is inevitable, and now we know, for instance, why the abandoned city of Kalnathan is a haunt of ghouls and why the ageless librarians in the tower of that foul city do not venture into the windowless Westernmost tower of the library despite the wisdom that remains on those unlit shelves, and why books of magical lore disguised as collections of erotic poetry are so keenly sought by certain Orloi ladies.

Download PDF

Earworms of Y'Golonac

This is an adventure outline I worked up for a Trail of Cthulhu one-shot that I had planned, set in modern day Leeds.

It's not fully polished and lacks game related statistics etc, and is a brief framework for an adventure that I think would suit the Purist rather than Pulp mode of play.    Keepers can of course change the location and details to suit their campaign, and with a little bit of finagling can make it suitable for multiple investigators rather than the single character I had created it for (one of my regular sessions is me and a single player).

It's quite open ended after the first set-up scene which exists basically to show the investigator someone who had gone a long way down a particularly dark path... and then to set their own feet on that same path.    There are hints in there of investigative avenues that Keepers can flesh out as they wish and a variety of sketched out NPCs that can become allies, adversaries or some combination of the two as things go on.


Outsourced Worldbuilding - Part Two

Yesterday I posted some open-ended questions I gave to my two players for a new Fantasy Fate Core game, the purpose of the questions being to allow them to shape the world we'd be playing in.    They discussed things between them and sent back their answers as follows:

How many years is it since the great capitalcity was abandoned?
120 years WHat led to the fall of the royal house.
War What price do magicians have to pay for their magic?
Their eyesight How many of the noble houses of the realm fell into dark ways?   How did the others respond?
About 40%, the others are resisting more or less openly depending on their level of bravery. Why are priests shunned by wise folk?
Priests are not looked kindly upon by the powers that be, and so people don't want to associate with them and risk getting entangled. Which of the gods is still revered by the common folk and why?
A warm deity, often associated with harvest, mercy and peace Why is it hard to reach the elvish lands?
There is a large…

Outsourced Worldbuilding

One of the things I loved the most about Fate Core when I first picked it up was the emphasis on collaborative world-building - the creation of Aspects for the setting and attaching Faces and Places that the players come up with in concert with the GM.

I do most of my roleplaying online these days using Roll20, Hangouts and/or Skype and two of my players were interested in starting up a Fantasy campaign using Fate.   While they're both seasoned veterans of PlayByPost and even some magnificent LARPS with casts of hundreds and spanning years in the forests of Europe they've never done Tabletop before.   I figured that sitting them down and trying to explain Aspects and some of the rulesey stuff about Fate (even the approachable Fate) might not be the best way to start, but I did want to involve them in the creation process so I hit upon a compromise idea that turned out to pay dividends.

I created a questionnaire for them with a few leading questions in there - not leading in t…

Thoughts in the Depths

A creature for Trail of Cthulhu.

The shunned tribal elders called it Giaouchatnhon when they discovered it’s lair deep within the caves in what is now Vietnam. They saw the effects it had on the first unfortunates to be exposed to it, infected by it, and they studied the results.

The victims grew ill, pale and weak. They began to suffer delusions and terrifying visions of worlds and lives utterly beyond their comprehension. The elders recorded the babbling of the victims, restrained them when they tried in their delirium to seek out dark hiding places of their own, and after the inevitable final moment when the doomed man or woman collapsed into greasy grey dust they sifted through the powdery remains and they found the slug-like larva and roasted it over a flame. 

The charred thing, ingested, would grant visions to the elder who consumed it and grant them knowledge and magical gifts that helped the elders cement their rule over the tribe. But power is never enough power. Th…

Red Shift - the story so far

(I'm copying a couple of posts I made at Google+ for the sake of completeness and to avoid the Empty Blog syndrome that conjures the demons Blokk and Lackspiration)

First session of Red Shift my new Night's Black Agents campaign has just finished and I have to hand it to +Pelgrane Press Ltd and +Kenneth Hite - the system worked so well we had a blast. Highlights included an inventive use of Reassurance (after first providing an imaginary threat that the subject needed Reassurance against... "Fucking Liam Neeson bullshit" as he commented afterward), a Thriler car chase through the crowded Medina streets of Marrakech, and a brief encounter with a mysterious Arabic gentleman who for some reason didn't show up on the hidden cameras our surveillance expert had planted around the Saadian Tombs.

The Roll20 Incident board idea I implemented worked well... and is now looking a whole lot busier.

The second episode