Monday, December 28, 2015

Cave of Secrets: The Spiel (WtA)

Okay, so, after various things being put off and cancelled and what have you due to a variety of personal issues, we finally got to play Werewolf a little while back. (Not this past Friday, but the Friday before. I've been in the process of moving to a new house, which has delayed this write-up.)

And before I get into the meat of the write-up, I just want to say that I hope everyone's had a pleasant and safe holiday season.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cave of Secrets: The Child of Secrets Revealed (WtA)

So, at the risk of jinxing it, it looks like my group is starting to get back into its normal schedule/rotation for the moment. Which meant we got to play Werewolf this past weekend.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cave of Secrets: A Trip Into Town (WtA)

So okay, events away from the table continue to interfere with gaming and such. We didn't play this last week but we did play Werewolf the week before, and I've been so distracted I forgot to post the write-up for the session I did. (See, I do a lot of that writing out of the house on my iPad, and the interface for this site is an absolute pain in the ass for posting. So I usually write it out in plain text in another app and send it to myself.) Still, even with forgetting about it for a week, this still isn't a last-minute post so I'll take that as a win.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Personal Updates

Sorry things have been so quiet here. I honestly don't think there's anyone following this blog that doesn't already follow me elsewhere, but just in case I want to keep people updated as to why things have been so quiet.

Long story short, I've been trying to get moved into a new house and things are taking longer than I expected. In my defense, it's literally been 16 years since I've had to move and even then I was fully moving into a place I'd already been spending weekends at and I had some help that I don't quite have now. I also didn't have the sheer amount of stuff accumulated that I do now.

Regardless, between the anxiety around buying the house to begin with and everything that still needs done to get everything moved over there, it's taken up a lot of my headspace. The stress of it has largely wrecked my creative drive, which was already a little shaky after the conventions and other family stuff I had going on in the summer. In addition, a combination of home events and illness on the part of my tabletop players has left it such that I haven't been able to run a game in almost a month. And even then, while we should be playing this week (fingers crossed), next Friday we won't be able to play again.

Hoping that things will get back to normal in the near future.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cave of Secrets: Breather (WtA)

Hey, sorry this is so last-minute. But I've been in the process of buying a house and it's left me really tired and lacking in gaming-related headspace. Lots of little preparations, including cleaning my old apartment and getting rid of old junk and the like. In fact, I just recently made a drive up to Pittsburgh (an hour and a half away) to sell a bunch of my books to Half-Price Books because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of eBay.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cave of Secrets: Tests (WtA)

Okay, sorry this hasn't been all that timely, even by my standards. But lately I've been in the process of trying to buy a house and it's been stressful and distracting. So let's do this thing.

Monday, August 31, 2015

So I wrote a thing

So aside from my usual gaming stuff on this blog, I have on at least one other occasion promoted some of my non-gaming material. There's a mini-speech I'd give at this point about that, but it's already at the other post so you may as well give that a quick perusal.

But what I'm getting at here is that I've written a third part of the furry cyberpunk series I've been working at on. Parts one and two are at the appropriate links.

If you've got any feedback or suggestions, feel free to leave them here or hit me up on Twitter.

RPG a Day, Week 4-and-change

I decided, in the end, to go ahead and finish out the month before posting my round-up collection here. So here we go, the exciting(?) conclusion of my RPG a Day 2015 coverage!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cave of Secrets: Greetings (WtA)

Due to outside-of-game concerns, we had kind of a short session (issues on my part got us started a little late, and one of the players had to leave early), but we did in fact play Werewolf this past Friday.

RPG a Day, Week 3

Little behind on this one, but this is just meant to be sort of an archive post anyways. Still deciding whether or not to do a normal post after completing the fourth week, or have the fourth collection post encompass the entire rest of the month. I could go either way, really.

Anyhow, here we go...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

RPG a Day, Week 2

Here's my second collection of RPG a Day 2015 posts, in a single spot for easy linking. Again, remember, for the most part I'm not updating these from the original postings, so anything really time specific like 'most recent blah' might be out of date already.

And remember, if you want to follow these and other posts on a more real-time basis, you can do so at my Google+ page.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Did On My Gencon Vacation

Okay, so now that I've had some time to decompress, here's a run-down of what went on at Gencon. I'm obviously not going to get into all of the shopping and food trucks and stuff I spent money on while I was there. I also met lots of great folks, and couldn't possible rattle off a detailed inventory of all of them. This is mostly going to focus on games I ran and played, which was kind of a small number.

I'm actually still trying to get the hang of how many events I can handle at Gencon -- for many years, whenever I attended, I spent a lot of time orienting the convention around playing Legend of the Five Rings (and to a much lesser extent, Netrunner) with the occasional tabletop game. But over time, the return on investment of time and energy and money dropped. If I wanted to play the game to win, I'd have to schedule myself for at least one qualifier (either Thursday or Friday), probably two just to hedge my bets (both Thursday and Friday), and then leave most of Saturday free for the main event (and possibly Sunday). And of course, I'd get my ass kicked at both qualifiers and have very little to do on Saturday. And while I'm all for playing a card game for fun, if I'm going to go to the trouble at a convention I'm either going to try to go all the way or sign up for a smaller event that has some participation promos or something that I really want.

So, long story short -- too late -- I got tired of that bullshit. Last year, I ran a Mage: The Awakening game that I really enjoyed the hell out of so I put a bit more effort into setting up to run something this year. This year I ran two Monster of the Week games, one on Thursday and one on Friday, and played in a game of curse the darkness on Saturday. (I wanted to run something in the WoD, but nothing story-wise came to me so I'll just see what comes to me before next spring.)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Seven RPGs a Week, or something like that

Okay, so, as some of you know, there's an 'RPG a Day' project every year that goes on during August (hashtag for this year: #RPGaDay2015). A list of topics is presented and each day you're supposed to blog about one in some way. Here's this year's:

I've been trying to keep up with it this year, to varying levels of success. The first couple of days were during Gencon, which made it tricky, but for the most part I haven't been too late with any of the entries thus far. I've been writing them up on Google+, but wanted to also collect them here where I can post easy links. So I decided to do a weekly roundup post for these. I'm just copying and pasting for the most part, so if you've already seen my G+ entries you can move on.

(Also, in case it needs to be said, anything listed as 'most recent whatever' will be referring to recent as of the original post.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cave of Secrets: A Long Hike (WtA)

Okay, so, while I'm mostly packed for Gencon (I leave later tonight) -- there's just a couple more things left to throw in the luggage, but I haven't yet because it's stuff I'm still using -- I'm taking a bit of time to type up this blog post regarding this past Friday's Werewolf: The Apocalypse session.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Next Week (plus general update)

Okay, so, Werewolf posts have been a little thinner on the ground than intended. But that just comes down to player schedules, game location issues (for which a longer-term fix should be coming in the next few months), and other various little emergencies and such. Hopefully we should be able to play this coming Friday, if my saying so publicly doesn't jinx it.

(By the way, from here on out, assume most of these links are to Gen Con event pages that you can't see unless you sign up for the website.)

But this post is mostly a reminder that next week, I'll be attending Gen Con in Indianapolis. I won't be in any one fixed location, though I plan to at least make an effort to swing by the Onyx Path booth regularly. Unless something obnoxious happens I should also be at the What's Up With CWoD/NWoD panels on Friday, and I absolutely will be at the What's Up With Trinity/Scion/Scarred Lands panel on Saturday in case you want to track me down.

I am, as a reminder, running a couple of games. Like most things at Gen Con, they filled up very shortly after event registration opened but if you swing by with some generic tickets you might get lucky. Both are Monster of the Week Revised games.

First, on Thursday, from 4-8pm is The Department of Homeworld Security. (Note you will not be able to see this link unless you're registered with the Gen Con site.) The game's setup will focus on a government-based monster-hunter squad made up of intelligence agents and assets no longer suitable for 'traditional' work (and, if the right playbook is chosen, that one conspiracy nut that someone inexplicably decided to recruit rather than kill because that's the genre, folks). For thematic purposes I'm actually writing up some character background material for the playbooks I'll be using. I might do a preview of that on my blog here, and maybe post the backgrounds after the convention.

Then, on Friday, from 4-8pm is The Studio Crew. The premise is "What if all of the madness, drugs, and/or cult behavior from professional actors is a side-effect of exposure to monsters and magic drawn to or caused by the atmosphere of Hollywood?" I mean, it'd explain so much, wouldn't it? In any case, the studios quietly support a group of industry professionals (technicians, stuntmen, etc.) stuck with the thankless task of stopping monsters and other weirdness from eating and/or mutating the linchpins of the film and TV world.

I'll be doing other stuff over the course of the weekend, but that'll be the meat of it. I should be available via Twitter and Google+ if anyone wants to get in touch with me and/or meet up and you don't have my phone number or email address.

Hopefully I'll see some of you there!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cave of Secrets: The Sons of the Saga (WtA)

I hope everyone's been enjoying their summer so far. Mine's had alternating periods of boring nothingness where time flew by and some life-changing insanity. Much of the latter (combined with preparations for the summer convention season) has happened within the last couple of weeks, which is why I haven't found a good time to bang out this Werewolf write-up before now.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cave of Secrets: Session 'Zero' (WtA)

So this is a little overdue, but my gaming schedule's still coming back from a bit of a forced hiatus so I'm not too far behind. But Friday before last, my tabletop group got together and finished up characters for the Werewolf: The Apocalypse chronicle we're starting. We also got a bit of playing in, as my group wanted to start off as established as knowing each other beforehand, but are still formally forming a pack. So we decided to play through them undergoing a challenge from a prospective totem. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fiction: The Problem with Barbara

So this is something I threw together earlier. Wanted to just put together some mini-fiction in the continuity of my WoD games. Most of these characters have shown up in one or another of my various fictions and games.

Speaking of which, a while back I wrote a handful of vignettes that run alongside alongside the events of the write-up of the 'season finale' for my Vampire game. I just got around to uploading that to DA for ease of access and it can be found here.

And now, below the jump, you'll find my most recent bit of WoD fiction: "The Problem with Barbara."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Gencon 2015

For those of you attending Gencon who haven't noticed, the event catalog is live for perusal. Event registration isn't up until next Monday, but you can at least look up what'll be available.

I mention this because I'm running a couple of games. One on Thursday (RPG1572187), one on Friday (RPG1572194), both from 4-8, both of them Monster of the Week games.

The Thursday game is called "Department of Homeworld Security" and is about a government monster-hunter squad made up of intelligence agents/assets who've become, shall we say, no longer fit for traditional duty. Either they've seen too much and can't pass traditional psych evals any more, or they've been transformed or infected or cursed or what have you. So now they get put on this special 'doesn't officially exist' squad.

The Friday game is called "The Studio Crew," and is a riff on a concept I came up with a while back. The premise is that the actors that collapse into apparently insanity or drugs or weird religions or some combination of the three have in fact been driven to it by regular contact with terrifying forces from beyond this plane of existence. And the Studio Crew are the monster hunters whose job it is to keep it from getting worse than it is.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Morgantown Project: The Tunnels (VtR)

So this past Friday, I got the chance to wrap up the Requiem story I've been running since this past summer. Now, some things got a little rushed or glossed over because this was literally the last session we knew we'd get to play this particular game for the indeterminate future and circumstances outside my control made me a little late to game to get us started (and our windows for playing tend to be kind of short, because of work schedules and the like). I'd have liked to flesh out a few details some more, get the characters to do a little more of their own footwork (which has been a problem on and off), but we had to make do with the time we had. All in all, people seemed pretty satisfied with where we left off in the grand scheme of things and folks are eager to one day get an opportunity to revisit this particular setting/continuity in the future, so I'll take that as a win.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Morgantown Project: Challenges and Plans (VtR)

Okay, so as you may remember, my Vampire game has been on hiatus for a while. But one of my usual Friday players who wasn't a part of the Vampire game has had to take a couple of weeks off so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to try and get the game to a stopping point. (Apologies for this not being posted earlier in the week, BTW, I had some technical difficulties on my end.)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Something a little different

So here's something a little different from my usual here. I mean, so far I've posted stuff for my WoD games, related fiction, and a bit of angry venting. But I'm actually a little nervous about this post, because it's showing a side of me I don't often dig into.

Long story short, I'm a furry fan. Have been for a very long time. It's not something I often discuss outside of a few particular circles, primarily because I know the vast majority of people don't actually care. Which, honestly, is fine; I mean, I don't quiz all of you on your hobbies and fandoms, and I'm not the sort to force relevance into a subject just to discuss it. Mostly.

Regardless, I bring it up because on occasion I do a bit of writing with anthropomorphic characters. Not a substantial amount, for a handful of reasons, but from time to time I feel the itch. So I've got a couple of chapters of a larger cyberpunk story written and posted to the net, and I'd like to share them here.

So here's the first part, which I completed a couple of years ago and recently tweaked, and the second part, which is much more recent. Now, these are linked directly to the files, so you might wanna right-click and Save As. Again, as with my other stuff, it's not as polished as it could be, as I'm not exactly showing it off to professional editors or anything. I just do the best I can with it.

Anyhow, enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In which I vent (incoming wall of text)

I don't normally use my blogging for this purpose, but in the wake of Gencon taking a stance regarding SB101, I've seen a lot of just utterly asinine statements people make when taking issue with it to dance around their true motives. I'm too weary to pick an argument on Gencon's forums or wade directly into the bigotry shark tank elsewhere, but I still want to vent a bit and respond to some of the arguments I've seen out there. I'm not going to make a checklist of every one I've seen and address them all. I'm not here to present a legal case or win a debate. There will be picking and choosing of battles with this. Deal With It.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Update on Vampire

This'll be the end of my little flood, I swear. Long story short, Vampire's on hiatus. The day on which we played, Saturday, has become problematic for a couple of my players. This also screws up my friend Sean's Changeling: The Lost game.

All is not lost, though. Sometime in the near-ish future, we should be finishing up the Pathfinder adventure path we've been running on Fridays. I'm planning on proposing to the group that before jumping to the other stuff we had planned, that we move Vampire and Changeling to Fridays to at least get those games to a stopping point. The only speedbump -- and that's all it is, a speedbump -- would be working another player into those groups as the Friday game has one more player than the Saturday game (for reasons I don't feel like going into right here).

Compact: The Convoy

This is the third and final compact I came up with for the Hunter LARP I ran some years back. I never could find a good way to work it into the game, but I always had it somewhere in my own personal canon in case I wanted to play with it literally or metaphorically.

As a reminder, this is entirely unofficial and should be considered entirely fan-material unless someone with the authority to do so says otherwise (though I'm 99% sure that by posting it all I'm probably ruling it out as strictly canon, but eh). That said, feel free to swipe, fold, spindle, mutilate, and put to use in your own games.

Also, a note: While this is updated to the Mortal Remains supplement, it also incorporates systems from Compacts and Conspiracies. Neither book is strictly necessary as long as you're at least covered with the Hunter core and the GMC rules update. That said, Mortal Remains is an amazing read. Compacts and Conspiracies has its weak spots, but all in all it also has a lot of interesting and inspiring material.

And here we go:

Compact: The Asculum Consortium

This is the second of the three compacts I came up with for the Hunter LARP I ran some years back. This one's more of an 'antagonistic' organization, in line with the Hunt Club and the Promethean Brotherhood.

As a reminder, this is entirely unofficial and should be considered entirely fan-material unless someone with the authority to do so says otherwise (though I'm 99% sure that by posting it all I'm probably ruling it out as strictly canon, but eh). That said, feel free to swipe, fold, spindle, mutilate, and put to use in your own games.

Also, a note: While this is updated to the Mortal Remains supplement, it also incorporates systems from Compacts and Conspiracies. Neither book is strictly necessary as long as you're at least covered with the Hunter core and the GMC rules update. That said, Mortal Remains is an amazing read. Compacts and Conspiracies has its weak spots, but all in all it also has a lot of interesting and inspiring material.

And here we go:

Compact: The Mountain Line Preservation Society

So, as a lot of you should know from my occasional mentions of it, some years ago I ran a Hunter: The Vigil LARP. It lasted a couple of years and shared continuity with a Promethean: The Created game I ran some years ago and the Vampire: The Requiem game I've been running (which has just had to go on hiatus, which I'll explain later). For this LARP, I invented three new Hunter organizations to be part of my setting (two of which appeared in play, and the third I just liked having on the shelf but never got around to do anything with), and sometime after the LARP wrapped up I posted write-ups for the groups.

With the World of Darkness Second Edition renaissance going on, I've decided to dig up that old material, give it a quick once-over, and mechanically update it to the second edition rules (or at least to the rules patch in Mortal Remains). This is entirely unofficial and should be considered entirely fan-material unless someone with the authority to do so says otherwise (though I'm 99% sure that by posting it all I'm probably ruling it out as strictly canon, but eh). That said, feel free to swipe, fold, spindle, mutilate, and put to use in your own games.

Also, a note: While this is updated to the Mortal Remains supplement, it also incorporates systems from Compacts and ConspiraciesNeither book is strictly necessary as long as you're at least covered with the Hunter core and the GMC rules update. That said, Mortal Remains is an amazing read. Compacts and Conspiracies has its weak spots, but all in all it also has a lot of interesting and inspiring material.

And here we go:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Assorted Chronicles of Darkness fiction by yours truly

Over the years, I've run several Chronicles of Darkness games, LARPs and otherwise. In the case of games I ran as LARPs, I've had message boards where I would occasionally post fictions meant to highlight particular characters and depict events that might otherwise have gone entirely off-screen. For the sake of providing a little extra content between gaming posts, I'm including here a list of those fics I've done so far, as I've archived them somewhere for the heck of it. They're meant to be fast and loose so they're not heavily edited or polished. And most of them will refer to events in the games that I don't necessarily want to get into or recall strongly enough to do justice in doing so. That said, I tried to put whatever details seemed pertinent in the description for each fiction on the DA page where I keep them archived. (Yes, that's right, a lot of my fiction is stored on DeviantArt. Don't judge.) A lot of them are meant to lead-in to plot run in sessions, or representing fallout from previous sessions.

Also, all of the events in these fictions are canon to my current Vampire: The Requiem Second Edition game, as well as the story "Legacy" in The Idigam Chronicle Fiction Anthology (I can't remember if I've mentioned explicitly yet that the 'Wrong Alley' bar and the werewolves who run it are a part of my game's landscape). If it needs to be said, however, none of them should be considered canon to the CofD at large, and none of this is official fiction in any capacity (aside from "Legacy," of course).

Collectively, I've named this continuity of games and fiction and other things the "Woodburn Chronicles" setting for the sake of having something to call it.

For the most part, these'll be in order, but sometimes I'll group them if there are multiple stories in part of a larger arc.

The Ouroboros Journals
A fiction series I threw together back when Vampire: The Requiem was brand new. Recently given a fresh editing pass and updated to match with the new edition. Some of the seams and signs of my inexperience still show, but it's still a part of this setting and will occasionally influence newer stuff.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The Woodburn Compact

A Hunter: The Vigil game set in Morgantown, West Virginia. At first it was about a general alliance between a variety of different hunter organizations in the wake of the deaths of the hunter compact that served as the city's primary protectors (who also organized things with other hunters), the 'Mountain Line Preservation Society.' Ran from late 2008 to early 2011.

These first three involve a series of Changeling-related plots, focusing around the local Courts of the Sun and Moon (I thought they'd be more interesting with a limited Changeling population, and it let me riff on ideas and concepts from the Night Watch novels).
Longest Night of the Year
Out in the Cold
Trade Between Equals

And then the next two involve a Slasher created in a Cheiron Group-run sleep study gone horribly wrong. The Slasher, known as "The Night Terror Killer," protected himself from horrible nightmares by finding people who were asleep or otherwise unconscious and killing them to 'take their sleep' so he'd never have to sleep again.
Sleep of the Dead
Playing It By the Rules

These next three stories involve an NPC who'd caught a supernatural disease of sorts called "The False Awakening," from Night Horrors: The Unbidden (a book to which I contributed, though the False Awakening wasn't one of mine).
Flickering Light, Casting Shadows
Broken Arrow
Ominous Meetings

These next few fics are one-offs, each one tying into different story arcs. Further details are in individual stories' descriptions.
Oh Lord, Why Me? -- This one actually takes place in the middle of the earlier arc, as it was just meant to be foreshadowing.
Blood for Blood -- I'm actually pretty proud of this one, it centers around a group of Oberloch vampires who unleashed a bunch of larvae into Morgantown to get back at the Morgantown hunters for messing around in their territory. Probably the longest one of these that I did, and it features almost every NPC hunter I'd had featured up to that point.
1 Corinthians 13:11
Getting a Look at the Place

And this last story takes place after the LARP ended, showing the final stages of an off-camera conflict, to sort of emphasize that 'life' goes on even if the players aren't there to see it.
The Last Skirmishes

Child of the Machine -- A story inspired by the God-Machine Chronicle Anthology. It follows up on some stuff I established in a Promethean game I ran a long time ago.

The Morgantown Project

A Vampire: The Requiem Second Edition game I started a couple of years ago. It was originally intended as a LARP, but due to lack of interest I converted it into a tabletop with the players I could get. Still ongoing, described in other posts on this blog. Fiction details described on the info for each.

Checking In
Blackout Drinking

And then, following up on events from the Vampire game but not directly tied to it -- really, more setting up possible plots and stories I'll explore later -- we've got this:

The Problem with Barbara

And since then I've introduced a Beast: The Primordial character to my Woodburn Chronicles setting, wherein I also foreshadow some stuff for an upcoming CofD game I plan to run:


Prodigals of the Machine -- A sequel to Child of the Machine, wherein I correct an oversight of sorts from the original and advance the story of Evie and Richard.

I'll try to keep this post updated as I add new stuff or even write more side-stories of my own.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Morgantown Project: Pleasant Conversations (VtR)

Apologies for the gap, there. All of the weekend tabletop gaming got put on hold for a couple of weeks while one of my players recovered from having his gallbladder removed. But this past Saturday, we finally had a proper Requiem session again.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Morgantown Project: Something New (VtR)

While I've discussed the history of my Requiem game in broad strokes, I've got a little bit of more recent backstory to get into before jumping into events at the most recent session. So this'll be pretty much a two-fer on session write-ups.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The story so far (VtR)

So for a while, I've been running a Vampire: The Requiem second edition game. I originally started it as a twice-a-month LARP, but due to lack of attendance I've slowly transitioned it into a tabletop game for the three players I could actually retain. Later tonight I run the first session that isn't some sort of 'mostly-real-time' experience, and it's a natural transition between stories. But before that happens, I wanted to take a moment to summarize what the first big story arc was.

So here we go

So, unless you threw a bunch of darts at your computer keyboard and wound up here, you probably know who I am. But just for good measure: My name's Chris Shaffer, I'm a writer who occasionally gets to freelance for Onyx Path. So far I've contributed to Mage: The Awakening, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and Werewolf: The Forsaken. And in the near-ish future I'll be contributing to the Trinity Continuum line, particularly the Aeon core and hopefully more as time goes on.

Anyhow, while I've kept a Livejournal and I also have a Twitter account and a Google+ page, I wanted to have a separate page I could use for some of my own independent writing. In addition, I've wanted to get back into doing writeups of the tabletop games I've run. For the last couple of years, almost all I've run is Pathfinder -- and to be honest, so much of that is drawn-out combat that it's tough to write about. (Sometimes you just have to cultivate a gaming group using a system people know.) And before that, it was LARPing, which is sometimes difficult to sum up when you're the guy running it. But that said, the landscape is changing a bit so I'll be in a good position to share some tabletop gaming adventures.

If there's anything specific you'd like to see or otherwise have any questions, feel free to ask!