Getting Game Monday, Jun 27 2011 

Masks of NyarlathotepMim is the karaoke queen. Though her thyroid has nerfed her singing voice, she’s still managed to warble her way into Rising Star Karaoke’s grand final. But to get her there, we’ve been putting in long Friday nights in the tune mines at Chatswood RSL.

We usually don’t get home till around 4am, though, and that means that I’ve been too tired to play D&D4e at Blacktown Games Day this month. I probably won’t make it back until Winterfest, and of course, I haven’t been around to GM as I promised last post. Both suck greatly.

On the other hand, I’ve signed up for a weekly Call of Cthulhu game at Ministry of Game at St Ives, which is a hell of a long way to travel, but hey, it’s Call of Cthulhu.

What’s more, it’s the classic campaign Masks of Nyarlathotep. I ran the first scene for a group about a decade ago, before the group imploded, and I’ve been waiting on The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion before I try it again. But I’ve also longed to play the damn thing for almost 20 years, and it looks like I might finally get the chance. Understandably, I’m very, very excited at the prospect.

Apart from that, not much to report. I’ve been too busy running around and studying and settling in, sadly, to write the scenario I’d hoped to enter into Chaosium’s Halloween Adventure Contest. It’ll either have to wait for next year or find its way into a monograph to see the light of day; it’s pretty intrinsically tied into Chaosium’s Lovecraft Country supplements, and it’s not the kind of thing I could sell to another publisher like Miskatonic River Press.

I’m (glacially) gathering research materials for another monograph, but it’s such a huge undertaking that it could well be years before I can even start writing it. By then, though, Scrivener for Windows should be stable and feature-laden enough to take on the task.

And that’s about it. On the subject of games, though, I’d like point you towards Asylum: Exit Australia, a web-based simulation of the travails of a refugee suffers when seeking a safe, new home.

TV network SBS commissioned the game to support their series Go Back to Where You Came From (which I’ve not seen yet, but intend to as soon as I can make time). Design house Chocolate Liberation Front—how’s that for a name!—has obviously put a lot of thought and effort into the game’s design. Although its production quality is impeccable, I hesitate to call it good; I think harrowing is a more accurate assessment. Nevertheless, go play it now.

What’s Been Happening? Part II Sunday, May 1 2011 

Since the events of last post, it’s been relatively clear sailing.

Old friend Adam R rather nicely invited me to see Sir Terry Pratchett speak at the Sydney Opera House, and a good time was had by all and sundry. I’ve been meaning to catch Pratchett ever since I was wee lad in Canberra, and was glad to get the chance before his Alzheimer’s exacts too great a toll.

I’ve had a short story published in Issue 19 of The Unspeakable Oath, which you can pick up in PDF, or in PDF and in print. Look for Dying Sunlight at the back of the magazine. To my knowledge, it’s the only Call of Cthulhu-related magazine currently in print, so if you’re you’re a fan of the game, please give it a look.

(No word on the fate of God Wills It Thus, however. I’m not holding out too much hope, but stranger things have happened…)

I’m also bandying about an idea for Chaosium’s 2011 Halloween Adventure Contest. Hopefully, I can get something written and playtested before the July deadline. (I also have an idea-and-a-bit for one or more MULA Monographs, but they’ll be well down the track: I need to establish a regular gaming group first.)

In other gaming related news, I attended Eyecon 2011 on Easter/ANZAC Day weekend, in and around long train commutes and the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Martin Place. Not much sleep was to be had, but the games more than made up for it. Aside from my usual staple of D&D4e Living Forgotten Realms modules, I also played the vaguely OD&D-inspired Gencon 1976 and got my first taste of GUMSHOE-powered Mutant City Blues with Law & Order: Heightened Crimes Unit.

(Katana Geldar gives a good summary of the con over at Level 1 GM, incidentally. I played Law & Order and a D&D4e game or two with her, and yes, that is my shiny pate at the bottom left of her con photo. My male-pattern baldness is famous now.)

Starting from June, I’ll be helping run Living Forgotten Realms games at Blacktown Games Day. They’re running a little short of GMs at the moment, and well, it suddenly struck me that it’s been nearly six friggin’ years since the events of the Three Years of Sundays (here and here) burnt me out.

I need to hop back on that particular horse. And besides, I’d like to get a fortnightly group going. Playtest some stuff. Maybe even run an epic Warhammer FRP 2e campaign.

And that’s about it, so far. We still need to get the rest of our stuff from Young and Cowra, and now that there’s actually work available, I need to get myself a job. Mim needs to recover from her ailments. Charmaine needs to adjust to the madhouse she’s found herself in. And the cats need to settle into their new home.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog in the near future, but you can always keep track of me via Twitter.

What’s Been Happening? Part I Sunday, May 1 2011 

Blue Mountains

It’s been nearly two months since my last blog entry, but they’ve been a very busy two months indeed! Entirely too busy, in fact. And by busy, I mean stressful.

It became clear that Young wasn’t working out for us, so we resolved to move back towards Sydney. For a start, Mim couldn’t get her regular prescriptions written without paying a $65 consultation fee (for a $5.60 medication on the PBS), and we wanted to be closer to Mim’s daughter Charmaine.

So whilst we looked for new digs, Mim and I stayed with an old friend of hers in Blacktown, a harrowing experience to say the least. Our host’s driving talents nearly cost us our lives, and despite our near miss, I still came away with cracked ribs—which I wasn’t allowed to mention publicly, lest it jeopardise our accommodation. (Needless to say, our host wasn’t all there.)

Shortly thereafter, Charmaine broke up with her boyfriend, and moved in with us. And shortly after that, our erstwhile benefactor had some sort of mental shortout and tossed all three of us out onto the street, leaving us to live in our car. Via SMS. Via her daughter. For 36 very tense hours, she locked our cats—without food, water or ventilation—in her back room, and we weren’t even certain we’d ever get them back.

We’d just managed to secure a place in the Blue Mountains, and fortunately—I can honestly never express adequate gratitude—our friends Chris and Nikki let Mim, Charmaine and I sleep in the lounge room in the interim. Once we’d finally retrieved them, Arthur the Rabbit graciously allowed our babies to borrow his hutch. By the end of the week, though, we were headed up into the mists.

Meanwhile, the NSW state election raged, but Mim and I were powerless to help numerous old friends who ran for office. Although many succeeded—notably the new Members for Kiama, Menai, Oatley and Coogee—their fortune has done little to assuage our guilt. Sorry, guys. Next time.

For the next week, we lived on blankets and inflatable mattresses, which our friends Ali and Samara generously lent us. However, cats and inflatable mattresses don’t mix. Try telling that to six distressed moggies: rather than have them cry all night outside our door, I spent the week sleeping on the hardwood floor in the kitchen, huddled around the oven for warmth.

Chris and Nikki once again came to the rescue, donating their old lounge. Later that night, however, Mim found her leg trapped under our car’s rear tire and was rushed off to hospital. As painkillers helped Mim explore unplumbed corners of her consciousness, Chris and I dashed to Young and back to pick up a trailer load of essentials. Including our bed, which Mim serenaded on our return. At length.

I’m beginning to worry about Mim’s relationship with that bed.

To be continued…

“God Wills It Thus” Update Sunday, Mar 6 2011 

Well, the 2010 Delta Green Mailing List Shotgun Scenario Competition—which could really do with a spiffier name—is over, and my entry, God Wills It Thus, came third with 16.7% of the vote, behind Bret Kramer’s Special Agent (on 19.4%) and James Haughton’s superbly bizarre Let’s Learn Aklo (on 33.3%). Arc Dream and Pagan Publishing are now subjecting them all to rigorous playtesting for possible future publication.

Congratulations to James on his well-earned win and many thanks to the folks who voted for God Wills It Thus.

(I’d have probably been equal second-place had I done so, but seriously, who votes for themselves?)

Further Links from the Pile Thursday, Feb 24 2011 

Yes, even more links. I can feel my PageRank shrivelling away into a nub.

The Real World:

Roleplaying:

  • RPGNow has an earthquake relief bundle: $20 gets you over $330 worth of gaming PDFs, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross to assist victims in Christchurch. And Two Scooters Press offers this bundle to delay a single mother’s impending blindness from retinitis pigmentosa.
  • 2011 looks to be a busy year at Chaosium. Another edition of Call of Cthulhu is on the way. We’ll get a Cthulhu Invictus Companion and a new, expanded third edition of Cthulhu by Gaslight. We might even see the second edition of Beyond the Mountains of Madness in English! (They’re also looking for ideas for a hardback to be released later this year. I’d like to see a revised Shadows of Yog-Sothoth finally released.)
  • Miskatonic River Press’ epic Cthulhu Invictus campaign, The Legacy of Arrius Lurco, is on its way, too.
  • James Maliszewski looks to Chaosium’s new Call of Cthulhu as the very essence of how to release a new edition. And maybe he’s right: CoC players are uniquely placid about edition changes.
  • Campaign Mastery features a very in-depth, continuing series on pulp gaming, a must-read for fans of Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu.
  • Runeslinger (from Casting Shadows) looks at chases in Call of Cthulhu, and the value of running away.
  • If Call of Cthulhu (and Trail of Cthulhu) are a little too complex and rules-heavy for your tastes, KORPG Games offers Call of d6-lite, a simple, one-page alternative.
  • The blog Exchange of Realities certainly looks worth delving into, dealing as it does with the intersection between fiction and roleplaying techniques.
  • Geekcentricity defends mediaeval gaming, and shows the benefits of quasi-historical settings over pure high fantasy.
  • Planet Algol reveals the real reason why there are no Dwarf women.
  • JP Chapleau delivers a cogent opinion piece on the future of D&D 4e, the RPGA and the Living Forgotten Realms campaign.
  • The Red DM delivers an equally cogent plea for game designers to adhere to the KISS Principle, over at The Red Box Blog.
  • And in a similar vein to Inkwell Ideas’ link from Sunday, the awesome Chuck Wendig reiterates that worldbuilding is a kind of masturbation. (Oh, and I like italics, too.)

Of course, there aren’t many old links here, but I suppose that’s what you get for going from the top of the pile… So yes, there’s still plenty more to come. In the meantime, check out The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets’ 20 Minutes of Oxygen.

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