Tag Archives: culture

Open Play 52: Dog Eat Dog, Fiasco, Fanfic

30 Aug

Welcome to Ready, Set, Game PDX Open Play!

Ready, Set, Game PDX is an easy story gaming event. All you have to do is show up and play a game. You don’t need to bring anything other than the desire to play and the willingness to try something new. Absolutely everybody is welcome! No experience necessary! You are free to invite anybody and everybody; just make sure you RSVP. That helps us make sure everybody has a good time.

A story game is a game where the players create a narrative as a product of play. You might recognize a few things from other tabletop games, but the difference here is that you spontaneously make a collaborative story with the other players. There are always several different ones to choose from, so odds are good there will be one that’s just right. A description of each of the scheduled games will be posted as comments, so check ’em out!

At 6:00 we kind of loosely gather socialize for a bit. Please, just relax and chat! At 6:15 we all come together as a group and the facilitators introduce their games. At that point players sign up for whichever game they want and get down to business.

Last time we were in the back, and this seemed to work pretty well, but please share your thoughts!

Technically we have the space until 10:00, but we try to get games wrapped up around 9:30 or so. After the games, all who wish to do so go out for drinks and banter at the Speakeasy Tavern on 6th & Taylor. As usual, everybody is welcome!

Here is what we have this week!
Dog Eat Dog
Dog Eat Dog:
Dog Eat Dog is a game of colonialism and its consequences. As a group, you work together to describe one of the hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean, defining the customs of the natives and the mores of the outsiders arriving to claim it. One player then assumes the role of the Occupation force, playing their capable military, their quisling government, and whatever jaded tourists and shrewd businessmen are interested in a not quite pacified territory. All the others play individual Natives, each trying in their own ways to come to terms with the new regime. The game begins when the war ends. Through a series of scenes, you play out the inevitably conflicted relationship between the two parties, deciding what the colonizers do to maintain control, which natives assimilate and which run amok, and who ends up owning the island in the end.

Dog Eat Dog’s system is light and easy to learn, designed for play with people who may not have seen or heard of roleplaying games — but with a token economy that eventually reverberates through every action your character takes, charging every choice with the possibility of death or assimilation. At the end of each scene, the Occupation judges the Natives according to a set of Rules that describe the relationship between the two parties, fining them or paying out tokens; the Natives, in turn, determine how the Rules change according to the events that happen in play. The setting is defined during play with input from all players.

Maybe some dude from youth group talked you into boosting a case of motor oil, but now your cousin is dead in a swamp and you killed him. Maybe you and your girlfriend figured you could scare your wife into a divorce, but things went pear-shaped and now a gang of cranked-up Mexicans with latex gloves and a pit bull are looking for you.It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

Fiasco is inspired by cinematic tales of small time capers gone disastrously wrong – inspired by films like Blood Simple, Fargo, The Way of the Gun, Burn After Reading, and A Simple Plan. You’ll play ordinary people with powerful ambition and poor impulse control. There will be big dreams and flawed execution. It won’t go well for them, to put it mildly, and in the end it will probably all go south in a glorious heap of jealousy, murder, and recrimination. Lives and reputations will be lost, painful wisdom will be gained, and if you are really lucky, your guy just might end up back where he started.

Fiasco is an award-winning, GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It’s like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it’d take to watch one.

Playbook TBA!

Fanfic is a tabletop game for collaboratively creating erotic fan fiction – naughty fan-created stories inspired by existing works of fiction – and it aims to do it badly. You will explore the deepest sexual desires of characters from your favorite books, television shows, movies and video games.

Fanfic strives to emulate everything that is quirky and ultimately endearing about fan fiction. Bodice ripping. Stilted dialogue. Awkward turns of phrase. Improbable coupling. What better way to learn to do it right than to do it oh so wrong?


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.


XP: Kagematsu

29 Jun


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 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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Session 40: Shock: Social Science Fiction, Hellcats & Hockeysticks, A Penny For My Thoughts

6 Mar

6pm – 10pm
Tuesday, March 12
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St


Shock: Social Science Fiction:
Shock: Social Science Fiction is a fiction game of culture and future shock. Based on the works of Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Philip K. Dick, the game pushes the players to make stories that matter to them — stories about politics, philosophy, love, and death.

At the core of the world-creation system is the Grid, a method of world creation that uses social concerns and Shocks, to build a fictional world custom-built for the type of story the players want to experience. It cross-references concerns of the players with Shocks to create characters devised to confront those issues.

Players are responsible for both Protagonists and Antagonists, principles with motivation and resources: they represent what you care about as a player and act in a way that highlights and questions the things you care about.

Our Shock: death is cured.

The future is upon us: http://glyphpress.com/shock/

Hellcats & Hockeysticks:
St Erisian’s school for girls has stood for over a hundred years and survived war, plague, famine, demonic attack, strange explosions in the science block and countless attempts to get it closed by the government. However, to be fair, not all of these disasters were the fault of the girls who study there.

Hellcats and Hockeysticks is a Role-playing game in which your characters are among the most feared and disreputable creatures of all – Schoolgirls! At St Erisian’s the girls are taught to be curious, forthright, inventive and above all, what they want to be, and to give hell to anyone who tries to stop them. The game is designed to be fast paced and fun, with plenty of opportunities for chaos and destruction. Characters come from one of 9 ‘cliques’ each with their own special ability and selection of skills. The system uses only 6 sided dice and is both simple and innovative.

Hellcats and Hockeysticks is a stand alone RPG of chaos, anarchy and decidedly unladylike behavior. It includes rules for all kinds of mayhem, from falling out with your friends, to creating weird science devices to using magic and summoning demons and zombies. Are you ready for school adventures on the bad side of the tracks?

Welcome to St. Erisian’s: www.corone.co.uk/mainsite/hellcatsindex.htm

a penny
A Penny For My Thoughts:
Two women and a man, all dressed in white jumpsuits, sit around a table with a bowl of pennies in its center. Each of them has a small stack of pennies and a printed form. In front of the older woman sits a scrap of paper with the words “a taffy stretching machine” written on it. “… and my father looked down at me and said, ‘If you don’t want to ride the roller coaster, you don’t have to. You can wait here in the candy shop while your brother and I go,’” says the older woman. “I was scared.” As she speaks, the remembered terror creeps into her voice.

Her expression suddenly goes blank. She turns to the man. “What did I do or say then?” she asks, offering him the single penny in front of her.

The man considers for a moment, his brow furrowed. Staring at her, he replies, “You said, ‘No, I want to come with you.’”

She turns to the younger woman. “Or was it…” she begins, offering the same penny.

“You stayed there in the candy shop, chewing your taffy,” the other woman says.

She pauses before speaking again. “Yes, I remember now. I said, ‘No, I want to come with you.’” She hands her penny to the man. “And I had a fantastic time. It was so thrilling, so wonderful. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. And that is what I remember.”

She smiles as she writes on her sheet of paper, “When I think of taffy stretching machines, I remember how I discovered what I wanted to do with my life. I’d never felt such a sense of purpose before.” After she finishes, she takes a penny from the bowl.

“A penny for my thoughts,” she says.

Do you fear what you might find?: http://www.evilhat.com/home/a-penny-for-my-thoughts/

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.

Session 39: Durance, Sagas of the Icelanders, Cthulhu Dark

18 Feb

6pm – 10pm
Tuesday, February 26
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

durance big

On a remote planet far from civilization, the worst criminal scum from a dozen star systems have been dumped, charged with building new lives under the watchful eye of Authority. Within a brutal hierarchy of savagery and servility, convicts and guards alike must make hard choices. Every colonist has their own code of conduct and their own aspirations—aspirations that invariably come at the expense of others. This dangerous new world is too small for everyone to succeed. In fact, it may well be too small for anyone to succeed. Only the shrewdest, the toughest and the luckiest will get a chance to find out. Will you be among them?

Durance is the latest game from designer Jason Morningstar, author of the award-winning game Fiasco. It is a fast-paced, low-prep, highly collaborative game designed for 3-5 players and one or more sessions of play and includes a detailed, engaging science fiction setting.

Did you hear the news: http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/durance/


Sagas of the Icelanders:
Sagas of the Icelanders is a game about the lives of norse settlers in Iceland, 10th century A.D. The game deals with the trials and issues that the norse people had to deal with on the icelandic frontier. It takes a more accurate historical approach to vikings and their culture than is common in most games, but avoids excessive minutiae of attack rolls or damage, focusing instead on the turbulent relationships and strict cultural norms that make up their original sagas.

Listen to another time: http://www.indiegogo.com/soti-rpg


Cthulhu Dark:

Cthulhu Dark is a rules-light Lovecraftian game. (It gets its name because it’s essentially Cthulhu Light, but you can’t call a Cthulhu game that, so it’s Dark.)

The rules are fun and incredibly minimal: they fit on one sheet of paper. You don’t need a character sheet to play, so you can start playing after two minutes of prep.

Can you handle the truth: http://www.yog-sothoth.com/threads/20390-Cthulhu-Dark

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.

Session 36: Dog Eat Dog and Archipelago

8 Jan

6pm – 10pm
Tuesday, January 15
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

Dog Eat Dog
Dog Eat Dog:
Dog Eat Dog is a roleplaying game where you play out the colonization of a Pacific island, with the players taking on the roles of the Natives, while one embodies the Occupation forces. It’s designed to be fun and thought-provoking for experienced roleplayers, but easily accessible for people new to the hobby. A token economy tracks your decisions and determines whether you’ll go out fighting, assimilate, keep hold of the island, or lose it forever.

Hear the news: http://rpgkickstarters.tumblr.com/post/20167485265/dog-eat-dog-a-game-of-imperialism-and-assimilation

Archipelago (third edition):
Archipelago is a game styled after Ursula K. LeGuin’s «Earthsea» books. It is a game of grand destinies, that at the same time has time to dwell on the details of plants, words, everyday lives. It is a game that is about great conflicts, but at the same time treats its characters’ stories with respect. It is not a steel framework, but a spider web of thin threads creating subtler stories.

This game works best if you play it slow. Sometimes, the best thing to do is wait a little and see how things unfold. Ged stayed with Ogion for years, learning about the old language, the names of flower petals and bugs. There’s time to let the characters evolve.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Take your time.

Turn the page: http://norwegianstyle.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/archipelago-ii/

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.

Session 28: Ready, Set, Game PDX One Year Anniversary Extravaganza

16 Sep

5pm – 11pm
Tuesday, September 25
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

That’s right. There will be cake. Yeah, that’s a cake. No, that’s not our cake. Our cake exists in the future. How could I take a picture of a future cake?
So, uh, anyways come kick off a second year of story gaming with us! This special event will feature extended hours (a huge thank you to Guardian Games for this!), and a handful of games too large for the usual slot! Stay tuned for cake related details.
The games this week are Metrofinal Transantiago, FreeMarket, and a Dog Eat Dog/Bhaloidam Super Combo! That is to say, Bhalodam will follow Dog Eat Dog.
The Assassin has murdered the world of suffering, garroting it with the crimson thread called desire. As the world dies, the poarts worth saving depart along the Night Road, which pours from the fatal would toward the World to Come.

Since mortal minds cannot rightly conceive of the end times, we choose to imagine the hustle and bustle of those departing as a crowded day on the metro in Santiago, Chile.In these twilight hours eight chosen saints and bodisattvas – Those Who Tarry at the Door – scour Santiago’s subway stations, searching for those who will birth the next world and expose the mechanations of asuras and demons.Find enlightenment at: http://corvidsun.com/2011/11/05/metrofinal-beta-released/ImageFreeMarket by Jared Sorensen and Luke Crane is a transhuman science fiction game set aboard a space settlement in the Saturnian system. Several generations are living on FreeMarket Station: the sons, daughters and grandchildren of the Originals; immigrant travelers from elsewhere in our solar system; and designed-to-order humans fabricated in 3d matter printers. It’s a world without death, without poverty, without sickness and without any need for laws.

What will you do with forever? You could spend your days in blissful torpor browsing a universe of entertainment via your neural interface, oblivious to pain and hardship. But you’re not one of those baseliners, are you? You have hopes, dreams, fears, needs and passions. What will you do with forever?

Start a cult? Create new technologies or living creatures? Express yourself through art or violence? Make friends or Make enemies? Be human or become something else? You have more than a lifetime to discover who you really are.

For infovores: http://projectdonut.com/freemarket/

Dog Eat Dog by Liam Burke is a roleplaying game where you play out the colonization of a Pacific island, with the players taking on the roles of the Natives, while one embodies the Occupation forces. It’s designed to be fun and thought-provoking for experienced roleplayers, but easily accessible for people new to the hobby. A token economy tracks your decisions and determines whether you’ll go out fighting, assimilate, keep hold of the island, or lose it forever.

Explore: http://rpgkickstarters.tumblr.com/post/20167485265/dog-eat-dog-a-game-of-imperialism-and-assimilation

Bhaloidam by Corvus Elrod is a time, a person, a feeling. Bhaloidam is a language, an idea, a place, and a memory. Bhaloidam is a modern expression of three timeless cultural forces: bha to tell, loid to play, and dam the tribe. In other words, Bhaloidam is where Story, Play, and Community come together.

Bhaloidam is also an independently-published tabletop storytelling platform. With it you can spin character-driven stories and weave them together with the stories of your friends. Bhaloidam lets you exert your influence upon the storyworld you create together, shaping its future and controlling your characters’ destinies as you perform their successes and their failures.

Share the story here: http://zakelro.com/bhaloidam