Archive | June, 2013

Open Play 48: Crossroads, Into the Odd, Pickets & Blinds, Bhaloidam

30 Jun

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, July 2nd

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

The drill:
6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:15pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets. Then, game on!
9:30pm – Drinks at …? Where should we go guys?

And for the games!

crossroads

Crossroads:
There’s a man at the Crossroads Cafe who can give people what they want, if they do something specific in return. You are going to visit him. This is a ready-to-play story game for up to four players and a facilitator.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/per-fischer/crossroads/paperback/product-18789509.html

IntotheOdd
Into the Odd:
The world is too large for anyone to fully map and too old for academics to accurately record. Explorers return from every direction with tales of bizarre places, wondrous and horrific.

You are an Explorer, braving the unknown in search of riches, fame, knowledge or power.

Academics know that searching in places too dark or distant would show things too foul to be recorded. Even the most comprehensive references of wildlife are filled with apocryphal entries. Those that seek out monsters to slay will find death before long.

The setting of Into the Odd, by Chris McDowell, is filled with normality. Sure, there are revolutions, terrorists, murders and wars, but this is all very mundane stuff. The Odd is out there to be found, buried beneath the surface. Battles may be fought with guns instead of swords, power may be held by politicians instead of wizards, but down under it all, there is something terrible, something unknowable…something Odd.
This will be a variant of Into the Odd, set in more modern times. That will be all you will need to know…or all that you will EVER know…

http://soogagames.blogspot.com/2012/10/why-into-odd-is-horror-game.html

picketsblinds
Pickets & Blinds:
This is a game. It’s you against the other players. There will be winners and losers, but everyone is going to have to live with what they’ve done.

Some games have you move little metal dogs and race cars across a board. Other games make you throw dice, or run around, or make difficult strategic or diplomatic decisions. This game has none of that. This game is all about telling stories: stories about how normal people in normal American towns end up killing each other.

Every player is going to tell his own story. Each story will be a separate and unique tale of a murder in the suburbs. The stories are told one scene at a time as everyone takes turns. Every time your turn comes up, you tell a little more of your main character’s story, picking up where you left off, describing another scene. The stories are not scripted, and there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. You are trying to keep everyone else at the table entertained.

As you tell your story, you’ll try to include particularly
exciting moments (called Triggers). Once you work a
Trigger into your story, you get to play a simple, Memory- style card game, the goal of which is to capture pairs. As pairs are made, they are removed from play. Collecting these pairs earns you points, and when the cards run out, the player with the most points wins.

Successfully collecting pairs also allows you to mess with the other players’ stories, making things trickier for their characters, and generally heightening the tension. This leads to even more exciting stories.
But it’s not all that cut and dry. There is another factor
at play: which card that can’t be paired up? If at any time you’re able to guess what card is without its match, you greatly increase your chances of winning. Guess wrong, and you’ll lose the game. There’s a reason that odd card is called “The Downfall.”

http://www.picketsandblinds.com/

bhaloidam-logo-med
Bhaloidam “Super Dysfunctional”:
You’re a team of superheroes with a contract to protect Megaopolis. Sadly – between sky-high insurance premiums, inflated contractor budgets for repairing damages done by the team, and ever-increasing support-staff salaries – this highly-coveted contract barely covers operational expenses, let alone pays the supers a living wage. So, you’re forced to seek endorsements in order to live the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. Unfortunately, in order to land the good endorsements, you must stand out as an exceptional member of your team.

So now, with Megaopolis under threat, you must balance working _with_ your team to fulfill your contract, while making sure you grab enough of the limelight to pay your mortgage next month.

http://www.bhaloidam.com/

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

XP: Kagematsu

29 Jun

IMAG0447

Sorry it’s been a while since the last XP. I played Monsterhearts that week, and I’d already written about it, and I didn’t have anything to add. But I’ll make up for it now with a huge review of Kagematsu!

Kagematsu is a romance game set in feudal Japan. The most interesting thing about Kagematsu is not it’s subject matter, but rather the highly gendered lens through which that subject matter is viewed.

There isn’t much to say about the game’s mechanics, and there is a lot to say about the game’s process, so let’s get this out of the way. The mechanics are clear, coherent and simple. They do exactly what they mean to and nothing more. Even the slightest glance at the meaning of their implementation shows thematic insight (such as Charm vs. Innocence – as you lose Innocence you gain Charm, which is a statement about gender and sexuality). Elegant and practical! Moving on.

The killer app of Kagematsu is that the text asks a woman player to take the role of Kagematsu and everybody else to take the role of a Townswoman. The Kagematsu Player is “Scene Manager” and has the first and final say on scene framing, but can also delegate a portion of scene framing ability to the other players if they choose. Kagematsu can even frame the Townswomen into scenes, saying what they are doing and where they are doing it. On the flip side, the Townswomen may never speak for Kagematsu. Even if the Kagematsu player allows a Townswoman Player to set the scene, it is still up to the Kagematsu to enter that scene how he will. Finally, my reading of the texts suggests that it is not in the spirit of the game for Townswomen Players to offer suggestions on scene ideas until the Kagematsu Player asks for their input.

However, the Townswomen decide which affection they are going for, which is resolved by a die roll. Which means that Kagematsu has no say over that – only how it comes to pass (if it does) and what he thinks of it after.

There are a number of observations one can take from those data points.

First of all, it is a very gendered statement. Kagematsu has all the narrative power, and the Townswomen just have to fit it however they can. However, Kagematsu also has the responsibility to frame scenes. Let me tell you, Kagematsu is looking at framing probably forty to fifty scenes. Half that would be exhausting. Which means, that despite the asymmetry of power distribution between the genders here, actually it sucks for everybody. This is a play critique of gender inequality and how, by performing this form of oppression as a culture (which we certainly do) we do harm to the whole of our culture.

Second, it is also interesting to note that for all of his narrative power, Kagematsu does not have control over his fate. It’s dice rolls all the way down for him, and his success or failures are blind to his input. He may color his actions, but ultimately he will be ushered through his destiny with no choice and no voice. Even the Townswomen get to choose whether or not they die, but not Kagematsu.

The Townswomen, however, ultimately succeed not based on the die rolls, but based on Kagematsu’s Love for them, which is completely independant of the Townswomen’s success at the die rolls.

In fact, winning an Affection Roll has two mechanical effects, lowering Fear (which helps Kagematsu, not the Townswomen) and Acts of Desperation (which, if used to win a roll, are somewhat more likely to each Pity instead of Love for the Townswomen, and actually work against her), and neither directly help the Townswomen. The only was a success on a die roll helps a Townswoman is if the fiction described after changes the tone of the scene so that the Kagematsu Player chooses Love over Pity. But, since Kagematsu gets to say how that transpires, Kagematsu would be leading the conversation in which he convinces himself that he loves this woman. So I am going to maintain that the outcome of die rolls has only a small effect on the overall success for a Townswoman.

Which means that the Townswoman finds her success in her fictional actions and the actual roleplay by the player. Which means that her actions in game do have a direct impact on her success. For not having any voice in other parts of the game process, the Townswomen have the only voice here! This “judgement mechanic” that weds the fiction to the eventual outcome is super slick. That it is also used in the inverse of the rest of the mechanics to complete this gendered statement is quite remarkable.

I have only one gripe about this game – for a one shot, it takes quite a while to play through to it’s natural conclusion. if you hunker down for a full play, expect 6-ish hours. This is one of the rare cases where I think the constraints of the RSG event actually improved play. We effectively added a rule that at 9:25 Kagematsu abandons the town. This really encouraged the players to frame strong scenes and play right to the point. It was very tight and had more energy that the full “natural” play I was in a few nights later. It’s not exactly to the spirit of the game, but it did focus our play to a very beneficial end.

I would highly recommend this game. There is a reason Kagematsu has a legacy f influence in the story game world. This one is definitely staying in my bag as a go to game from here on out!

You can find information on Kagematsu here.

 

Open Play 47: Kagematsu, Hollowpoint, Wushu Open, Bhaloidam

17 Jun

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, June 18

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

 

I am sad to say that a long time member of our Community, Mark Wyler, will be leaving Portland at the end of this month. So, we are sending him off with style after the game. Even more reason to join us!

 

The drill:
6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:15pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets. Then, game on!
9:30pm – Drinks at Belmont Station, one last hurrah for Mark.

 

And for the games!

kagematsu_cover_jsh3

Kagematsu:
Kagematsu takes place in Japan, 1472, in and around a small unnamed village. This period was known as the Onin no Ran, and it was a time of internal strife. Most of the village’s men have gone off to war, leaving the women, children, elderly, and infirm to fend for themselves. Now a dangerous threat casts its shadow over the village, and without a defender, its people are almost certainly doomed.

Enter Kagematsu, a wayward samurai fleeing a troubled past. Here is a defender, if only he can be swayed from his course. So it is that several young women conspire among themselves to win his affections…

One player (a woman, by the text’s demands) will portray Kagematsu, and the remainder will play the women who seek Kagematsu’s attentions.

http://kagematsu.wordpress.com/
hollowpoint-title
Hollowpoint:
Hollowpoint is a role-playing game that uses a novel engine to generate fast on-the-fly violent action at the drop of a hat, brought to you by the award-winning developers of Diaspora. It’s ideally suited to a single evening’s play and encourages regular character death because, hey, this shit’s dangerous.

http://www.vsca.ca/Hollowpoint/
wushu_1024_jsh
Wushu Open:
Wushu Open is a game that would not take it anymore. A game that stood up against all these negative modifiers, penalty dice, fumbles and fun-killing limits. Here is a game that stood up. Wushu Open is not only able to cope with the wild over-the-top action of modern action movies, it encourages such stuff in a mechanical way. In this, Wushu Open is a rather generic game and rules set. You can as well apply it to western action as eastern action, military action, cartoon action, space action or whatever action.

Wushu Open is not about gear, character advancement, combat rounds, strategy, weapons, tactics, rules-lawyering, experience points, power-gaming, wound levels or fingernail-biting outcomes, that depend on a single die roll. And most of all it is not about emulating »realism« in role-playing games. Wushu Open doesn’t care about encumbrance, frost burn or falling damage, it deals with »realism« in the only way it knows, with reckless action. So really, it is about the fast moving action, man. It’s all about the action.

http://danielbayn.com/wushu/
bhaloidam-logo-med
Bhaloidam “Super Dysfunctional”:
You’re a team of superheroes with a contract to protect Megaopolis. Sadly – between sky-high insurance premiums, inflated contractor budgets for repairing damages done by the team, and ever-increasing support-staff salaries – this highly-coveted contract barely covers operational expenses, let alone pays the supers a living wage. So, you’re forced to seek endorsements in order to live the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. Unfortunately, in order to land the good endorsements, you must stand out as an exceptional member of your team.

So now, with Megaopolis under threat, you must balance working _with_ your team to fulfill your contract, while making sure you grab enough of the limelight to pay your mortgage next month.

http://www.bhaloidam.com/

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more athttp://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

Open Play 46: Nicotine Girls, Kobolds Ate My Baby, Out of the Blue

1 Jun

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, June 4

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

The drill:
6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:15pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets. Then, game on!
10:00pm – Any and and all who wish go out for drinks and/or banter, at one of the nearby establishments. Let’s talk about it.

And for the games! We are expecting one or two more games, but so far we have…

nicotinegirlslogo
Nicotine Girls:
Plain and simple, nicotine girls is a roleplaying game of teenage, lower-income girls looking for happiness. Each of you will play a girl with hopes, dreams, problems and fears. This will be a game about their chaotic and at times fair, but often totally unfair, lives.

You can find the complete rules through the link below.

http://www.halfmeme.com/nicotinegirls.html

512luylInEL._SL500_SS500_
Kobolds Ate My Baby:
It’s not your fault that Kobolds are gourmets. It’s not you fault that King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) is hungry. It’s not your fault that the tastiest thing a Kobold has ever eaten is sweet baby! And it’s defineatly, not your fault that Kobolds are the most incompetent, reckless, and accident prone race to ever crawl out of a cave. But it is your problem…

King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) needs you – yes, you – to go out to the nearby human town and bring back the freshest, tastiest, plumpest human babies you can find – or, the King will be eating you (and Kobold’s pretty darn tasty.)

Kobolds Ate My Baby! Super Deluxx Edition is the all new Beer and Pretzels Role-Playing Game! You and your friends take on the roles of Kobolds (short, furry cannon fodder with a penchant for gluttony and mayhem). Your mission is to raid towns and villages in search of the most delectable of Kobold treats – Babies! Along the way, you will learn forbidden magicks, face fearsome chickens, worship the Big Red God, die Random Horrible Deaths, and cook your friends for dinner!

http://www.koboldsatemybaby.com/

buddy cop
Out of the Blue:
‘Out of The Blue’ is a game designed for three players, designed to emulate a classic “buddy cop” movie. One player takes on the role of the Veteran, another plays the Rogue, while the third takes on the role of the city and its people: The Beat. The cops have one week to solve the case and prove the Rogue’s capabilities, while making sure that the Veteran survives long enough to retire.

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.