2 December: Queen Margaret I

The effigy of Margaret in Roskilde Cathedral

Name: Margrete Valdemarsdatter

Tagline: Married off as a political bargaining chip, she became a major political figure in her own right, uniting Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and earning herself the nickname “The Lady King”.

Claim to fame: In an extremely male-dominated society, she managed to rise to the top, just like she forged a union of three nations with a quarrelsome history, the remnants of which still existed some 450 years later. Continue reading 2 December: Queen Margaret I

Advent Calendar 2016: Fantastic Tales and why to tell them

CC BY 2.0 Joel Bez

I am jumping on the Advent Calendar bandwagon again this year! This year’s theme: Fantastic Tales and Why To Tell Them! Throughout the month, I will be sharing some of the most interesting, fascinating, crazy stories from history, myths and maybe even a few from fiction!

 

[FTAWTTT]1 December – The Monkey King

The Monkey King brandishing his great metal staff, Compliant Golden-Hooped Rod.

Name: Sun Wukong – the Monkey King

Tagline: Magic monkey is spawned from an egg, achieves immortality, conquers heaven but is tricked by Buddha, who forces him to go with a pilgrim to India. Continue reading [FTAWTTT]1 December – The Monkey King

Book Review: Nine Princes in Amber

I sought out this book when I heard it might be turned into a tv-series – and from page one, I could see very clearly why someone would consider this material for a tv-series. This first book in The Chronicles of Amber is written very cinematically. It starts in medias res with a main character waking up in a hospital with amnesia, and progresses from there at full speed through the action. And there’s action aplenty! Continue reading Book Review: Nine Princes in Amber

Ashen Stars First Session – Off to Pleasure Planet

Laws-AshenStars

I’ve long had an urge to try out one of the GUMSHOE systems. I played a lot of investigation roleplaying as a teenager, and the genre still holds a certain appeal. That made me curious to see GUMSHOE in action, to see if it makes for fun and interesting roleplaying. There are two implementations of GUMSHOE I’ve been particularly interested in trying out. First and foremost Trail of Cthulhu, particularly in the Bookhounds of London setting. Trail of Cthulhu is, as the name implies, the GUMSHOE variant of Call of Cthulhu, and in Bookhounds, you play sellers and procurers of rare tomes and manuscripts in 1930’es London who get lured into the occult world of the Mythos by the hunt for old and valuable tomes.

The other is Ashen Stars, a space opera investigation game. In it, you play Lasers, lawmen-for-hire in the slightly lawless outer fringe of a galaxy that’s fallen into chaos after a great war. It has a feel that is too law-abiding for Firefly and not moral enough for Star Trek.

Now, while Trail and Bookhounds appeals more to my feelings of nostalgia, I have a soft spot for space opera. And so, when Niels asked me if I wanted to play Ashen Stars with him, I knew I had to say yes. Continue reading Ashen Stars First Session – Off to Pleasure Planet

Review of Midsummer

Most of the games that take part in the board game competition at Fastaval are unpublished prototypes. A fair number of them end up being published later on (one of them was recently on Kickstarter). However, one of this year’s crop, Midsummer by Nathan Hook, was already available on the print-on-demand service thegamecrafter.com by the time Fastaval rolled around. And if you like strategic hidden identity games, you might just want to give this one a look. Continue reading Review of Midsummer

Scenario ideas for Fastaval 2017

After coming home from Fastaval, I’m always filled with a great desire to write more roleplaying games. This year was no exception. In no time at all, I spurted out a number of scenario ideas. Now, the synopsis deadline is early this year, which means that I’d better get started on developing an idea for a scenario.

And so, in this post, I am going to sketch out some ideas for games. I would love to hear your feedback on them, so that I can tune my ideas. Continue reading Scenario ideas for Fastaval 2017

Fastaval 2016 Retrospective – The Board Games

Previously, I posted about my roleplaying experiences at Fastaval. Well, after discussing it with the other judges, I’ve decided to give you a look back at my board gaming experiences from Fastaval – that is, my experience playing some of the games designed for Fastaval. I played four very different games, at varying degrees of completeness. I also played two games before Fastaval, but I’ll skip those here. And so, I give you here below my four boardgaming experiences from Fastaval. Continue reading Fastaval 2016 Retrospective – The Board Games

Fastaval 2016 Retrospective

This year, I took a step down from being activities coordinator last year. Instead, I was “merely” a board game jury member. Plus, I wrote a scenario, Death of a Playwright. Being a member of the board game jury, I played more board games than roleplaying games – but again, being a jury member, I don’t feel like I should talk about my play experiences. In other words, I am only going to talk about my roleplaying experiences here. Continue reading Fastaval 2016 Retrospective

18th of December: Terminal X

Hillfolk-TerminalX

Please do not leave emotional baggage unattended at any time.

Author/Designer: Hal Mangold

From: Bundle of Hillfolk

I heard about Drama System, by Robin D. Laws, and decided to get this bundle, which included the Hillfolk implementation of the system (the primary implementation), along with several other “pitches” for the game. And since I’ve just flown in to Denver International Airport (DIA), I decided to go with the one that takes place there: Terminal X.

The premise of Terminal X is this: DIA is not just another soulless airport. It is a magically charged place, a botched ritual to harness magical energies. That’s why so many weird and unfortunate things happened during its construction (and they really did). Now the airport serves as a gateway, not only to the South-Eastern United States, but also to the world beyond through the otherworldly Terminal X. This means that loads of people “in the know” travel to DIA to transfer through Terminal X to magical destinations beyond this world.

This whole mess is overseen by the Gatekeepers, a cabal of mystics who have divided up the airport, and are exploiting the energy of the many people travelling through the airport. They on their part are opposed by the Movers, a group of adepts who get their energy from travelling, and who want to exploit the energies from Terminal X.

The document is only seven pages, and details the basic premise, ideas for characters and some possible ideas for issues, conflicts and themes to explore through play. The character ideas fall in three ranges, either regular people who have run into the mystical happenings by chance, mystically enlightened people trying to use the energies of the airport, or members of the Gatekeepers who run the place. The characters in the document are nameless ideas for characters, rather than actual characters, and it’s up to the group to flesh them out. The document is designed for Drama System, but through the very systems-light approach of Drama System, there is no actual system specific in the text, and it could easily be adapted for another system.

My impression: This is in many ways a fun little setup for a game. I do feel like it is a little generic, and I would want to spice it up a bit before actually running a game in it – though that can happen in character generation.

Ironically, from what I know of Drama System, I’m not sure it’s that good a fit for that system. Drama System seems best for people who have a close relationship with each other, while Terminal X features a more scattered group, each doing their own thing.

On the other hand, it seems like a good basis for a number of other games. The one that first springs to mind is Unknown Armies, using the three types of characters as ideas for the three power-levels in Unknown Armies (and you could actually combine it with Break Today to include a game of Mak Attax’ers in the Scotsman’s Steakhouse franchise in the airport).

Another good adaptation would be Mage: the Awakening, using the airport as an access point to beyond – the traditions perhaps represented by Native American Dreamspeakers, Sons of Ether aircraft engineers and Virtual Adepts running computer systems, or the Technocracy using it to ship out resources.

Finally, there might be a GUMSHOE game hidden in here in one of the occult mystery variations, like Trail of Cthulhu, Nights Black Agents, Esoterrorists or Fear Itself. This requires a substantially larger amount of work in order to adapt it, but it could be a fun campaign, centred around trying to figure out what is up with DIA. For Esoterrorists, the Gatekeepers and the Movers would obviously be turned into cabals of Esoterrorists.

How would I use this: I think this might be a fun starting point for a game of Unknown Armies. I think UA benefits from having some structure to it, and this could be a fun basis.