Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Building my "Numenera" Beanstalk!

So ya. I've had the pdfs for Numenera for quite a while now. Well, I cleared out some old books in my collection and gave myself a very, VERY, happy early Birthday with all the current Numenera/The Strange books in print. (And the GM Screen.) So...ya.

I've got new toys to play with. And I must say they are quite awesome. But now that I have these books and tools it's about time I do something with them.

In my case I want to hit up the Planes of Kataru in the Beyond (think eastern frontier) and the massive enigmatic tower called the Beanstalk. Anyone savy with sci-fi tropes knows a Beanstalk is another name for a space elevator. Typically equatorial in design, but thanks to the techno-magic of the 9th World this one is located quite a distance south of the 9th's World Equator. This paradox is powerful enough to cause a number of small mountain sized rocks to float around it most likely to gravity distortions keeping it upright.Wicked!

Now I've read some stories of prior GM's playing up the whole Jack and The Beanstalk story as a place to mind ideas and quite a few sound awesome. Me however, I like the idea of playing with the concept of  "Giant" and instead cook up a more Norse inspired adventure. I'm going to call my proto-campaign "Mimir's Tears".

Now I don't want to talk too much about my general plans for the adventure to spoil it for potential players, but I did want to talk about my process of using the Beanstalk as a narrative adventure tool. First off the Beanstalk being a space elevator allows me to not only build the 'base' dungeon/lab/base of opreations and then detail out all the various stops along the way.

This allows me to build little micro dungeon/cities/locations the PC's can visit on their way upwards along the elevator. Think of it like Ronald Dahl's Charley and the Glass Elevator but with more blasters and mutant things. Waystations, space colonies, maybe even little asteroid bubble worlds tailed for lost civilizations now a half ruined and ripe for claiming? If you think about it the Beanstalk might be a more obvious entrance to an orbital Menzoberranzan full of mutant space colonists worshiping dark space goddesses.

And it allows me to play up the concept of Giants in all sorts of playful ways. I might be using Norse mythology for my current project but nothing is stopping me from peppering in Greco-Roman or perhaps Jinn, Formorians, Asuras, Hekatonkheires, or Nephilim if I like. I could build a pantheon of Giant themed things up there. Machine, Mutant, or even completely alien. How Stargate of me?

The final think to consider is this is one of the prefect jumping off points for a Numenera space game. Sometimes later this year Monte Cook Games is going to publish the "space book" and well, I'd love to lay the foundation and well..'camp' for the PC's to have access to this new realm and maybe give them something mind blowing like a old rogue spaceship that flies around the local system going to lost worlds, etc. Phantasy Star in all but name.

So you can see why I'm excited about this games potential. Later posts about it will cover exactly what I did with a 'Norse' themed game. And my personal review and experience with playing Numenera as the game goes on.

For those interested I plan on running it via (correction) Hangouts and Roll20 on Thursday nights around 8pm EST/EDT.

As well as: D20 LFG Listing For Mimir's Tears!

See ya then!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The change tech of my game space.

Hola Labyrinth Lovers,

This week I wanted to talk about the changing nature of my technology I'm using or allowing at my game tables. Were this a decade ago I'd nod my head at detractors who said they wouldn't allow cellphones to be on during game time...but these days that actually has turned into a liability for some players.

I'm not sure exactly when I happened at my tables, but the information age finally took over. We kept hearing about how RPGs were going to become an online only industry but as far as I'm concerned? It already happened. These days at games I seen half the players with a laptop or tablet up filled with their character sheets, game books, and notes. I personally was the hold out at my game tables until recently. Blame the ease of use of pdf or ebook format for searching, which then reduces the need for the 100~ pound bag of books for big games. And with internet access the ability to send notes, keep sheets updated, and share maps is amazing.

For me it was a gradual process but it started just after I got my first big (non-proprietary) tablet. Overnight I was catching up on a lot of smaller press books I would have normally never had as well as honestly picking up a pdf copy to share with potential players so they can look over the material as a reference. However a few things changed very quickly.

These days I have multiple folders of material up on my Google Drive and Dropbox dedicated to various game resources, pictures, maps, books, reference documents. I build shared folders for characters to pass back and forth updates and notes. I use IM services to send things like in character and out of character updates. The list goes on.

Roll20 and Skype tend to be my go-to for choice for online games. However I still attempt with the occasional IRC game. The biggest benefit I get is ease of access to information. However this new technological revolution at my table is not with out it's own drawbacks.

Recently I picked up a Google Chromebook to use as a word processor and game center. And it works, well enough but I have the issue of endless distraction. As a GM being distracted is dangerous, as a player, it's horrible. However life has thought me that most of those issues are related to stress and I would be distracted at the table even if I didn't have the PC or tablet in front of me. So that's more a case of 'find the root cause', than blame the technology.


The big push for online tool and technology upgrades is the add all end all of this little generation change. Online gaming! The catch is up until the last half decade (or less) the technology was not robust enough to run a full table experience. But we now have Virtual Tabletops dropping out on Steam, roll20, and various other online stores. I know of at least 3 decent ones in recent memory and the number grows based on the technology. All they need now is a friendly iPad/Android Tablet app top that plugs into Skype or Hangouts and you are golden!

Will I make the final transition from offline gaming to online? Kinda. I still think my offline table games are great social events and help me keep my in person skills flexible. That said, if I can find robust enough online tools to run my games I'm going to keep experimenting until I find that right mix of chat and play with folks. Heck...I'm looking into a series of online Exalted 3E and Numenera/The Strange games this summer into next year!

More on that soon.

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Domain, New Details, and New Focus

Hola folks, I'm not dead! But man I almost felt like it a few months there.

Let's just say I caught the funk and the funk did NOT want to let go. 2+ months of various bugs and viruses is not fun.

Also, I did post a blog updated a while back and deleted it. All I'm going to say about it is: It was a mistake. It was not fair to others and I didn't think it through. But it doesn't exist anymore and if you did see it then please don't mention it. However mistakes are life and I'm moving on. (Honest, it was a small thing, don't think too much of it folks.)

A bit of good news! I have an easier to use domain now! yep. Not a .com or .net sadly. But this time around just point your browsers at this domain for now and you can reach my blogger. Google's new domain service is quite handy. Now this WILL impact previous comments on my blog posts. However the comments still exist out there but only show up if you are on G+, which is what it is. Oh well.

So what's new? Not a lot in some ways, but plenty in others. I'm writing on projects I can't talk about because I'm going to submit them to gaming companies. I am however going to outline some of things this blog will feature down the road.

Exalted 3E Review - When the pdf drops I'll be talking about it.

Exalted 3E Combat Tips and Tricks - My take on a Combat 301 course for new Storytellers and Players. Stuff to make it run faster.

Exalted 3E Social Combat tricks - How to use the new social influence system and how to stage your NPCs and settings as a Storyteller

And a whole bunch of Exalted 3E Stuff...soon. But not until the PDF drops okay? I'm also going to do a massive random generation table update and try to get in touch with Urs Reupke to do a massive 3E update for the Exalted Random app. Sound cool? Ya, thought so!

But there will be updates to other systems as well. I've been focusing on Exalted a lot and well I feel a few other games need some serious loving. Numenera/The Strange, Dungeon World, 13th Age, and some of the bigger titles like D&D will get features. I'm also going to do a full court press for the upcoming Trinity lines and the Sardonyx system. I use to love playing Aeon/Aberrant/Adventure! and wish to support Onyx Path in this venture.

That said, I have other projects in the background, lots of writing to do and well, a daughter and life to deal with. So expect some weird delays. So follow the site and G+ for updates. I'll also try to post updates to Facebook down the line.

I hope later today/this week to have my first update in this new era.

Oh, as for the new Focus? The focus is going to be on just enjoying the games. Helping out new players and GMs and making sure folks understand this is a hobby to love and share with others. So I want to be a facilitator, not a critic.

Until then!