Monday, December 12, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

War Orphans: Shakedown Cruise (Doctor Who)

Alright, folks, so now we get to the first post of the new game I'm going to be running. This is, more or less, going to be a monthly game. A few friends and I are taking turns running a game on Wednesdays, and it's a way to sort of get this one off my 'games I want to run someday' notepad. Just for the record, I'm not planning on blogging any of the games I'm playing in, just the ones I'm running -- among other reasons, I just don't want to be too distracted taking notes and I definitely wouldn't be able to casually do this without taking notes, so there we are.

This is a game of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space from Cubicle7, using the default system in the books. Rather than the more traditional group models, this one is actually featuring an entire group of young Time Lords from pre-LGTW[0] Gallifrey who've taken it upon themselves to steal a TARDIS, go rogue, and have sweet adventures like the Doctor.

This game is going to start off in sort of a canon-friendly zone (so expect a lot of linking to fan-wikis and the like for context), and eventually kick canon square in the bollocks and do its own thing. You'll see. This is a game I've been planning on and off since David Tennant was the Doctor, and various episodes since I began have given me material to work with to graft things on and find anchoring points within the canon.[1]

Warning: There will be a little bit of fan-wankery here and there, name-dropping, canon characters guest-starring and stuff like that, either because it just makes sense for the scenario or to explicitly tie it to certain canon events. After all, how much fun would it be to participate in a Doctor Who-universe story and never meet The Doctor?

Anyhow, here we go with the first adventure in my Doctor Who: War Orphans story...

Fiction: Goodbyes

So this story has another story behind it.

Why yes, I do think I'm clever, why do you ask? Moving on.

A little over ten years ago, I started running my first CofD (then called NWoD) tabletop game, a Promethean: The Created chronicle. I had some vague ideas, a starting point spelled out in the back of the first edition Promethean core, and some players. A couple of players dropped out early, but a few more went the distance (for as long as the chronicle lasted, at least). Those players:

Brendan Sherlock played Ander, a Frankenstein created during WWII by a Promethean working with a Nazi mad scientist (who later used their work together to turn himself into a terrifying superhuman, and was the Big Bad of the chronicle).

Nick Shomo played Steve Rogers, a Frankenstein created during WWII by a Promethean working for the government to fight Nazi mad science. (Specifically, the Nazi mad science he helped create, as that same Promethean also created Ander)

(Just for the record: Brendan and Shomo created their characters separately, but I linked their backstories for stupidly-obvious reasons)

Zac Davis played Jack Turner, an Ulgan made from a high school kid who had been sacrificed by a cult.

Greg Gay played Father John, an Ulgan who tried to understand humanity by studying religion and passing himself off as a priest. (He once accidentally inflicted the Disquiet on Evie, and when she had the standard Disquiet-driven reaction it drove him into Torment and... yeah. That leg of the story ended in a bit of a mess.)

Sean Smith played Rudolf, a Tammuz who didn't know how he'd been made or by whom for the longest time, he only thought he was some sort of swamp zombie because of where he first awoke. He later discovered that his creator had regularly been stealing his memories to study humanity vicariously.

The game went on for about a year and a half-ish, and while we didn't get to finish the full story I had planned (though for the sake of continuity with later games, I had my players approve an outline of 'future events'), it remains one of the most satisfying Storytelling experiences I've ever had. If you're curious, you can dig through my old Livejournal updates for the write-ups or the old Promethean playtesting/actual play LJ community (though you'll have to do some actual digging to find the posts there, as I have no way to easily tag them). Anyone who's followed my Chronicles of Darkness fiction will recognize that this is where most of the cast of Child of the Machine came from.

With the second edition of Promethean having just come out, I decided to do something to go back and revisit those old characters. In particular, the new rules for how to handle the Pilgrimage and milestones inspired me to imagine a story in which Alexander finally completed his Pilgrimage and moved on with existence. And then I thought "What if I had a past character show up, having become human," and a few things clicked.

See, at about this time a year ago, Shomo (his friends called him by his last name, it was mostly family and older people who called him Nick) passed away due to complications from pneumonia. The last time I saw him, he helped me move a bunch of furniture into the house I'd just purchased. And I saw the opportunity to do something to honor him in my own particular idiom.

This story contains two scenes with his character, Steve, having successfully become human and earned a happy ending. Specifically, Steve earned the happy ending that Shomo should have gotten. A lot of Shomo has gone into this new human version of Steve.

I saw an opportunity to say goodbye to him as well as providing something of an epilogue for a wonderful game I ran a decade ago, and took it.

Before we get into the story, I want to take a second to thank everyone involved in this game and every other game I've run. You've all been wonderful in your own ways (with only one or two exceptions), and you are all why I do this. Why I write, why I run games. So thank you all for that opportunity. I also thank everyone who worked on Promethean, both editions, for making that chronicle (and thus this story) possible.

(I'm including the text of the story in this blog post, but you can also find it in PDF form over at my DA page.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Cannibalism, Skulls, and Bickering (WtA)

Sorry for the lateness of this post, but I've been busy with personal stuff (among other things, finishing a story that's got a bit of a deadline). This one picks up right where the last one left off, so while I will have some lead-in here it might behoove you to go check the last entry. This was a longer session thanks to some serendipity in schedules, so this will be a longer post than most of the recent ones.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Barking Up Family Trees (WtA)

Before I get into the next Cave of Secrets write-up, I've got a couple of updates.

First off, unless something goes completely off the rails by next session, Sean will be rejoining our game with a new character. I'll share more details when it comes up.

Second, a couple of my gaming buddies (including one outside the normal group) have been talking about doing another tabletop game, this time rotating between us, with each of us taking turns running something different. We're still hammering out the fine details, but once that gets started, this blog will also include write ups of a Doctor Who campaign I've been plotting out in my head since the days of David Tennant.

But that will be then. This will be now. Or something.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fiction: Prodigals of the Machine

I meant to have this up earlier this week, but with everything going on I just haven't been able to put the mental focus into getting it posted. Until now.

First, some commentary: This is a considerably-shorter sequel to Child of the Machine, a story that was pretty well-received by the half-dozen or so people who read it. The original story was inspired by the God-Machine Chronicle (later reworked into the Chronicles of Darkness Second Edition Rulebook) and its associated Anthology, drawing upon a history and not-quite-mythology I'd constructed in my past NWoD/CofD games. But one thing that never quite sat right with me is that there's something I'd have done with the ending if Demon: The Descent were out sooner, because that delves even deeper into the God-Machine 'mythos.'

Namely, if I'd had it to do over again, I'd have made Evie a stigmatic, one of the humans who's been 'touched' by the Machine and made a little different. But GMC didn't really get into stigmatics. So there's a part of me that wanted to follow up on that, and have her meet an actual Unchained Demon, and well... there's other stuff going on too. I don't want to spoil the whole thing here. Regardless, I found a way to kind of fix that oversight.

Sometime in the next few days I should have a separate PDF up with character sheets for the main characters, if anyone is curious to see those.

Also, I've talked to a few people privately (or otherwise mentioned obliquely) about another story in my 'Woodburn Chronicles' setting that's a much more personal story with a much more solemn tone. This is not that story. That story is still in the works and I plan to bust my ass to get it finished and polished by the end of the month. You'll hear more when that gets closer to completion.

But now, with no further adieu: Prodigals of the Machine

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Friendly Neighborhood Pattern-Spider (WtA)

So first off, some good news, it looks like things are lining up so that we might be able to get Sean back into the game. No promises yet, stuff is in the works, etc. But when the time comes, you'll know.

Also, this is another session that picked up mid-scene so you might want to refresh yourself with where things left off last time. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Old Photos (WtA)

Okay, so more than a little behind, but it’s been a busy and distracting couple of weeks. And then after I put together this write-up I forgot to post it. Last time we kind of left off mid-scene*, so it might not be a terrible idea to refresh your memory at the last post.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cave of Secrets: To The Books (WtA)

Okay, so this is slightly behind, but at least it's before the next gaming session.We played Werewolf last week, and thus here is the write-up. (Also, side-note, I've been setting these up to post in the afternoons where it might be easier for people to notice it. Does that help? Let me know.)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cave of Secrets: The Witch (WtA)

So after the by-now-traditional spate of OOC issues and scheduling problems, we managed to play Werewolf this past week. This session kind of took a dark turn, though, so consider this an official Content Warning for torture. (I’m actually listening to cheerful music while doing this write-up, to make it a little easier to recount. At least, I’m hoping it does that rather than create an unwelcome association.)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Some Old Writing of Mine

Okay, so this was supposed to come a month ago. Sorry about that. The reasons for this are twofold: One, I don't spend as much time at my desktop since my move (and when I do, I'm often tired or distracted or both) and there's stuff I needed to do for these I couldn't do from my tablet-and-keyboard combo. Two, the iOS version of Scrivener came out and so I've finally started toying around with that program in both portable and desktop formats, writing new stuff and importing old stuff into it and just generally getting the hang of it. (and loving it, by the way)

But anyhow, here's some old Vampire: The Requiem fiction I wrote in either late 2004 or early 2005 (I'm 90% sure this predates the first edition of Werewolf: The Forsaken), back when the setting was still very new. I was also a less experienced writer then, and despite making a couple of editing passes on it I'm sure it still shows. Also, while editing, I went back and tweaked a few things to retcon it into being more in-line with the new edition of Requiem. Not that anyone will notice, as I'm pretty sure this is the first time this has been posted anywhere publicly.

And why is it coming to light now? Well, first off, I was recently reminded it exists and was like "I should probably post that somewhere." Second, I'm working on a sequel to Child of the Machine and I decided to dust off one of the characters from this and put him in it. And figured it might help if I could reference the source of the character. (Sadly, I no longer have the first story I wrote in which Richard Marcus from CotM appears, at some point it was lost while still unfinished)

At some point I'll add links to these to my big honkin' post of CofD fiction, as this is part of my "Woodburn Chronicles" setting. But for now, I present The Ouroboros Journals:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Enjoy! I welcome any feedback, though keep in mind that some of this is still the product of a younger version of myself and I can only edit out so many of those rough edges.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

RPG a Day, Week Four And Then Some

Alright so now we come down to the final week and change of RPG-a-Day 2016. Before I get into it, here's links back to the prior weeks of this year.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

And now the rest of the month!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Picking up the pieces (WtA)

So this past session was kind of a short, talky one, primarily because we got kind of a late start and one of the players had to leave early for work. But we got to play, which is definitely something.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

RPG a Day Roundup, Week Three

Taking a moment to bang this out while I've got the opportunity and it's still timely. As usual, you can follow my #RPGaDay posts in daily-ish form (and other stuff) at my Google Plus page.

Monday, August 15, 2016

RPG a Day Roundup, Week Two

"Wait," you might be saying. "I thought that these were supposed to be weekly posts. And the last one was what? A couple of days ago?"

You would be correct, disembodied force manipulating my keyboard. That's because I was busy, and my schedule was thrown off a bit, and as a result the first week roundup was a little late.

"A little late? The first week went up the same day you posted days 11 and 12! Back in my--"

Okay, there we go. That exorcism put a stop to that. So. Where were we.

Right. The second week of RPG a Day posts.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Gencon 2016 Writeup

So the short version is that this year, I had a lot of fun playing and running a lot of tabletop. There's a few folks I wish I'd seen more of, but that's just how these things shake out at conventions. I also did way too much walking. I stayed at the Columbia Club hotel, which was on the further edge of the range of downtown hotels, and wound up with blisters on my feet from all of the walking back and forth. (Also, just as a quick review of the hotel, the Columbia Club is a beautiful old building and all that, but I personally found the rooms cramped and the shower was probably the worst hotel shower I've used. Their fitness center was to die for, though.)

So I'm trying to think if there's anything specific I want to say about Gencon this year that didn't come out in one of my many tweets over the course of the weekend. Not a lot comes to mind, though. So let's just go with stuff I ran and stuff I played.

(Sorry this is so late, by the way. My schedule has had a bit of an upheaval immediately following Gencon.)

RPG-a-Day 2016 First Week Roundup

This is the first of my #RPGaDay roundup posts for this year. Sorry this is so late, but Gencon really threw my schedule off and I'm only now getting things lined up enough to post various related blogs and such.

A more detailed description can be found here, but RPG a Day is a project where each day you answer a question/prompt about your gaming experiences. You can follow with my posts roughly daily-ish over at my Google Plus page.

Here's the basic list of questions/prompts:

And here we go, Week One of my posts for this year:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Breaking Point (WtA)

Okay, so here's what the situation has been with the Werewolf game. One of the players was frustrated with the game due to a misunderstanding, waited quietly for the problem to resolve itself, and got more frustrated when it didn't. This led to a bit of an outburst that left the game in limbo while we sorted it out. I could have written up the last session we played leading up to the outburst sooner, but there was a chance that 'sorting it out' would mean 'we don't play Werewolf again' and I didn't want to leave off on that sort of cliffhanger. And on top of that, we weren't able to get the group together for a few weeks, during which other stuff happened and just ugh. I'm not going to get into further details here, just for the record, but people deserved a 'broad strokes' explanation.

But the situation is more or less resolved. Let me take you through the session and then the resolution will follow. In context, it'll make more sense to leave that for last.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Quick Update

Okay, first off, for those of you who've missed the repeated memos, this week I'll be going to Gencon. Follow the 'convention' tag on this post if you need more details. I'll be there from Wednesday to Sunday if anyone wants to hang out.

Second, the hiatus on my Werewolf: The Apocalypse game will be much shorter than I'd feared. I've got a session that I still need to do a write-up for, and if I can do it before I leave for Gencon I will. Can't make any promises, partially due to the fact that posting to the blog from my iPad is an absolute chore. If not before Gencon, I'll have it ready to go when I get back, with a rough explanation as to what happened.

Also, I dug up some old Vampire: The Requiem fiction of mine from literally a decade ago. I've given it an editing pass and if I can find the time before the convention (I've been distracted with a number of things) I'll hit it with one more and then post it up. But, again, if I can't get it up before Gencon I'll definitely post it when I get back. It's some old fiction I don't think I've ever posted publicly before, and takes place in the same setting as the other games I run in the Chroncles of Darkness setting. You'll see it when I get a chance to post it.

Anyhow, that's the update for now. More information will come at the appropriate time.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The current sitch with gaming and also some writing

Okay, so two things.

First, I know it's been a while since my last Cave of Secrets update. This is because circumstances outside my control might be putting the game on an indefinite (possibly permanent) hiatus, but because my group has had trouble meeting for a couple of weeks we're having difficulty resolving that. I wish I could be more specific but this is all I feel comfortable saying in public at this time.

Second, I've got a new story up in my furry cyberpunk setting. I wrote it for an anthology that decided they didn't want it, so for lack of any better ideas I'm posting it independently. Unless I feel the need to clarify this down the road, assume it takes place before the main series picks up. Because of the anthology it was written for, it's a little more human-centric if that's been an issue for anyone. Regardless, here's the link: LINK

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Earworm (WtA)

And now, the second of my Werewolf: The Apocalypse posts.

Cave of Secrets: Crystals (WtA)

Apologies for the hiatus. Had a few things come up at once, including a freelancing deadline and some last minute difficulties, that made it difficult to focus and block out the time to go someplace where I could write these up. I'd put them both in the same post but there's actually a bit of an in-character time jump between sessions so for the sake of comprehension they're being split up.

Here's the first one. Apologies again for the delay.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Resolution? (WtA)

First, a quick convention-related update. The Gencon games I referenced in my prior post got filled up within a couple of hours of event registration opening. That said, if anyone who reads this wants to get in on them, past experience has suggested that showing up with some generics and hoping a registered player doesn't turn up isn't a terrible strategy. If anything changes, I'll keep folks updated here.

Second and more importantly, this past weekend we got the chance to play Werewolf for the first time in way too long. So here we go.

Monday, May 9, 2016


So as a lot of you in the gaming world should know, Gencon planning has begun. The event catalog is up and running and on May 15th you can start signing up for events. Out of the hojillion events in said event catalog, two of them are mine. That's right, I'm running two games this year at Gencon. Coincidentally, both of them involve government-based monster-hunter squads.

The first is a Monster of the Week game, re-using my "Department of Homeworld Security" setup from one of last year's games with a new story. It's Thursday at 5pm and runs for four hours. The full title is "Department of Homeworld Security: Good Old-Fashioned Mummy Hunt" and to find it in the event catalog you can go here or just search for Game ID RPG1687966.

The second is a Hunter: The Vigil game (using the rules patch in the Mortal Remains book) and a sequel to a game I ran a couple of years ago. The Inquisitor (a slasher with a magic sword who hunts mages) has managed to escape from custody, and Task Force: VALKYRIE and VASCU are teaming up to bring him in. It's Friday at 5pm and runs for four hours. The full title is "Return of the Inquisitor" and to find it in the event catalog you can go here or just search for Game ID RPG1687967.

(Note that links and event searching might not be available if you aren't signed up with the website.)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fiction: Gargoyle

So this is something I started on a while back, briefly lost track of (as I was working on paid stuff), and only recently got around to cleaning up to post. I've been thinking of possible future continuation of my "Woodburn Chronicles" games, and decided to throw something together that both foreshadows the next plot I plan to run and gives me an opportunity to introduce an NPC to the setting. I don't yet know how important he'll be to the plot itself or how prominent he'll be, but now that Beast: The Primordial is a thing I've wanted to introduce at least one Beast to Morgantown. And the concept I had for him dovetails nicely with... well, you'll see. For those of you unfamiliar with Beasts, they tend to see most other supernaturals as 'cousins' and often work with them.

Anyhow, here's the story below the break. Cheers.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Gaming and writing updates

So due to player illness and other commitments, the Friday gaming schedule has been spotty. As a result, it'll be another couple of weeks before we'll be able to play Werewolf again.

In the meantime, I've recently uploaded another chapter of my furry cyberpunk story Conversion. If that's something that might catch your interest, check it out!

Prior chapters:
Conversion Part 1
Conversion Part 2: Coming and Going
Conversion Part 3: The Light of Day

In other news, I'm currently working on some freelancing stuff alongside poking at a story for an anthology. Then, down the road, I plan on diving back into working on a sequel to Child of the Machine.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Reactions (WtA)

So, this past weekend we got to play Werewolf again. I don't really have a whole lot to say to lead into that, because certain parts of the session will speak for themselves.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Time Passes (WtA)

Okay, so, it's been a while. We went almost a month without meeting at all due to a combination of scheduling, health, and travel issues on the part of my players. But this past weekend, we finally got the chance to play Werewolf again, so here we go!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cave of Secrets: Loose Ends (WtA)

Okay, so we left off with the proper 'awakening' of the cave. From here, the game's going into a bit of a time jump with the occasional stop to take care of stuff during that period. Now, this one gets into some serious Garou ritual stuff, so if anyone reading has any questions feel free to ask.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cave of Secrets: The Cave Speaks (WtA)

So this past session, we wrapped up the first major story arc of the Chronicle. I'm not really sure what to add before getting into the meat of the write-up other than a brief warning that in the write-up I describe a thing using some... evocative imagery. The sort of imagery that's effective around the gaming table, but might be appetite-killing in the unprepared. You've been warned.