muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I'm trying to do what I can to make sure this doesn't go down in my memory as the Weekend I Missed C2E2. (Rather counterproductive, I suppose, committing that to writing here.) Last year, I cared not a jot, but [ profile] monshu's relations were in town late in the summer exhibiting at Wizard World and that was a lark, so when they said they'd be back again, I made plans to stop by. But then we heard nothing from them until late Friday evening I got a message from his niece offering me passes.

But it'd been a long week and I'd already made plans to sleep in. I still felt like going, just...not then. But Sunday was set aside for gaming. As the hours crept by on Saturday, it became apparent that I'd made my choice and it was in direct opposition to my recent resolution to Do The Thing instead of sitting at home questioning whether I should've Done The Thing.

Still, I'd made my peace with this. Then Sunday came around, I walked to JB's...and found that as I was ordering my torta de pescado at the place on the corner, the only other player slated to be there had cancelled. At that moment, I considered cancelling, too, and making a desperate effort to see if I could still line up pass and make the long trek to McCormick. But JB was saying, "We'll find a game to play, don't you worry!" and it was too easy to avoid saying "no".

Ironically, the game he chose was a "two-player LARP" called 183, which is based on a short story about two clairvoyants falling in love. One can see several possible futures; the other only one--and it's one in which the couple separates 183 days after their first date. It makes for an intense two hours. There's a warm-up phase in which you discuss your past loves, and then you collaborate on a series of five scenes which together sketch the arch of the relationship from beginning to end.

Was it a better way to spend the afternoon than in a noisy hall surrounded by cosplayers and hawkers? I'd have to be the character who can see many futures to answer that, but I played the other. Honestly, the chief difference between the two possibilities is that with more stimulation around me I would've been less distracted by the notion of what the other choice would've been like. Maybe I'd be less melancholy-tired now and more plumb exhausted. Who's to say?
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I felt fine Saturday, just not much like doing anything. The weather wasn't inviting so I decided not to walk down to Andersonville after all. All I really needed was currants for the bread I was baking and golden raisins were just as good. For lunch, I just made scrambled eggs with a bit of leftover salmon.

The tesenn safron came out perfect, by the way:


We had a couple slices after dinner. (I was particularly gratified that the Old Man at first said he wouldn't have any, then agreed to one, and finally went back for a second.)

Cocktails were a bust, however. I was feeling pretty listless, but I tidied up anyway, set out the bread and some cheese, and looked up the recipe for the Royal Union. Nine o'clock came and went and no one came or called, so I cracked open a book and started to read. I struggled to keep my eyes open and gradually a pounding sinus headache was building on the left side of my head. I put The Mekons on to keep my spirits up.

I finally heard from one friends around ten. He asked when things were starting and I told him I was packing it in. Another pal texted shortly after and I told him the same. I stayed up a little longer in case one of the other invitees got in touch, then I carefully put every thing away and crawled into bed to read more of Hamilton's Speckled people.

I slept soundly until four a.m., when I was up for two hours. My sleep after that was punctuated by vivid dreams, concluding with one where I was an abdicated monarch packing up my dorm room with several college pals. Hidden in my closet I found an old jumper of my son's with his princely shield on it. A friend told me it was dangerous to keep it--you never knew what might be inspected in transit--but then I overheard someone travelling with us, a tall dark man who was a vampire and a wizard, explaining to one of our party how he could use his powers of illusion to change the appearance of some of her garments. I suggested he do the same for me, and he agreed. Then I had to find some place to pee and woke up.

I shortened the morning by sleeping in a bit and then had to be off to [ profile] vianegativa's for the game. It was a rousing session, with a Tarantino-esque setpiece ironically involving those characters with the least talent for violence. Ultimately, we succeeded in splitting the party four ways, which isn't going to backfire one anyone. JB says he can foresee ending in about three or four sessions, after which he'll take a break while he contemplates retirement. His recording device died so I agreed to send him a writeup from my notes (which I've kept fanatically ever since Fal*Ken*stein).
Jan. 24th, 2016 08:56 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I'm going to chalk down the limpness of last session to a combination of the absence of [ profile] vianegativa and everyone's need to reacquaint ourselves with the system and setting after such a long break, because today's session was terrific. I still feel like I'm not quite holding my own with the other players, but two of their characters are so OTT that I feel a certain responsibility to play someone, well, responsible. This has left me casting about a bit for a story arc, but now I'm thinking it could be Dante's in Clerks: the realisation that not everything rests on your shoulders just because you claim it does.

A few days ago, it had occurred to me that, at about this point in Necessary Evil, [ profile] vianegativa had found a way to make my skin crawl with he'd done with a character of mine whereas JB hasn't come close to that, so I began to question whether he really had that in him. I think I have my answer now, and I didn't have to wait for my character to get screwed over in order to find it. Enjoy your new body, Boo! Hope it suits you better than your last one.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Saturday was games at JB's birthday-anticipated party, followed by Nozze di Figaro at Lyric (review to follow).

Sunday was a return to JB's for the first session of our Apocalypse World game set at "Funfair, in the shadow of the Cathedral of St. Sebastian". We decided to situate our stronghold on a former trailer park on the outskirts of town called "Whispering Palm" and I chose to be the leader. I thought the first session would all be chargen, but that took us all about an hour and the rest was roleplay. And not just basic but necessary "getting-to-know-you" roleplay either. Apparently my second-in-command is conspiring with the evil clown overlords of Funfair to sell me out and go on the road, a plot uncovered by patrician madame Sauvignon Levay at her upscale brothel of "ninja hookers".

I'm having twinges of regret at not arriving with a more clever character concept, but after seeing some of the bizarreness the other players have come up with, it's probably best that I kept mine simple. Yes, the postmodern thing is to toss you in media res with no "normal" characters to identify with, but I've learned the hard way the perils of arriving with too rigid a concept at a game which keeps complexifying at every turn. Besides, while it can be fun to see how you can further twist the twisted, there's something even more irresistible about taking straight shooter and seeing how you can break him down.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
After the better part of a year, the end of Necessary Evil was, to say the least, anticlimactic. We seemed all primed for a final showdown which would determine the fate of the world when the GM suddenly changed his mind, brought in literally the biggest Deus Ex Machina available to him, and ended with a basically pointless combat that was as badly mismatched as anything could be.

For reasons mysterious to all, he pitted the three non-combat characters against an egregiously overpowered (someone figured out just how broken the rules were and exploited that to the hilt) and then seemed surprised when we were all killed in short order. ("You don't have Fighting at all?") In the end, it was one player playing their original character against two others reading stats off sheets with all the investment of someone watching the finale of a tv series they never followed.

JB was as put out by this turn of events as I was, but even so he admitted that it had been a good game up until then, with some surprising reveals and the resolution of several character arcs. Grergory shocked everyone with a completely unforeseen murder-suicide and one of the villains basically took over the world. Which made it all the more disappointing that [ profile] vianegativa pronounced it "the worst game I've ever run". He later hedged that a bit, but all my attempts to talk up our accomplishments fell flat before him.

Looking back, I had exactly the problems with my character that I foresaw at the beginning: she was a Dark Age persona in a Four-Color setting. I ignored this for as long as I could in the interests of group harmony and with the assumption that we were heading into a gory free-for-all at the end anyway. But then the GM forced a Heroic Redemption on everyone except for the character who became the Big Bad and there was no room for an independent actor to make her mark.

So it's a relief to leave behind a milieu I've never really embraced and get back to the gritty moral ambiguity of a street-level post-apocalyptic setting. JB will be running and everyone has signed on to play. There's no preset campaign goal, no "sides", and--best of all--no giant omnipotent alien intelligence waiting just outside frame to intervene at the last moment!
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
At Sunday's session, [ profile] vianegativa announced that he hoped to wrap up the current campaign in about 8-10 weeks. JB is willing to run Apocalypse World but won't have time until near the end of the year. So the question is how to entertain ourselves in the interim. Right now we're talking about doing some one-shots. These are particularly well-suited to horror, so Dread, Final Girl, and Zombie Cinema have all been mentioned. I'd like to try out the GUMSHOE system, so I'm looking at Fear Itself myself.

Whatever it is, I'm looking forward to the change since I've never been a fan of supers. To the extent that I read comics at all when I was younger, it was mainly less-conventional stuff like Sandman or Ralf König. The only honest-to-goodness four-colour superheroes comic I ever read was Uncanny X-men back when I was in high school.

Since we were playing later than usual, we planned to do dinner together afterwards, but in the end it was just three of us at Rocky's Tacos, known for their "super tortas futboleras". I had the Chicharito, not knowing at the time that he played for Man U. They also sell generous plates of meat and fixings which I gather from the name (huateque, Mexican slang for "party") are intended to be shared. These all bear the names of stadium catcalls, some of them rather rude. One of my companions had the Pinche Árbitro Ciego, essentially the native equivalent of the Spanglish Fack Ju Referi.

One thing we all agreed is, whatever game we end up with, we hope the group can hold together. Neither of them has had much luck staying with one longer term. I, of course, had something of the opposite problem: roughly a decade with my one gaming group, three years or so with another, and then nothing for another decade. (What is it they say about the recovery time for a breakup being roughly the length of the relationship itself?) It's interesting to see how that shapes you: I'm always prepared for the GM to be so much more punitive than either JB or VN have shown interest in being.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This was a banner weekend for gaming. First there was JB's one-shot on Friday night. He's been eager to run a game of something called Apocalypse World with this group and persevered despite lack of sleep and more players than he'd bargained for. Only one member of the six-person alternate Sundays group couldn't make it, but Grergory roped in two young friends, making it a mercy that both his and [ profile] vianegativa's partners ultimately took a pass.

I'll admit, I suppressed an eye-roll at the fact that we all started out in a bar. I cut JB slack since, after all, one-shots don't exactly leave a lot of time for the characters to get to know each other. The Powered by the Apocalypse system actually allows for an extensive amount of cooperative character-creation, but with time so short we skipped this stage and folded it into play.

I should know by now to have more confidence in this group. I learned a great deal playing with [ profile] princeofcairo, but one of the most important lessons is that, when you have good players, you can trust them with a lot of the creative work. Hmm, that comes across as a bit of a slam on players who are less skilled at improvisation. Let's say "the right kind of players" then. Munchkinism (or, to be polite about it, "powergaming") is a legitimate style of play. But it's boring to me compared to the mindset which first asks the question, "What would my character do?" and only then considers whether this is advantageous in the context of gameplay or not.

We actually had a terrific example of that in Sunday's game, where [ profile] dedos acquiesced to having his Atlantean lord possessed by demons because it furthered his goal of becoming Emperor of Atlantis. Of course, now he's in the difficult position of deciding whether or not to continue with the character (thus obligating all the other players to find some means of exorcising him and bringing him back to the fold) or switch to a new one halfway through. But that's how it works: the interesting choices spawn more interesting choices.

But back to AW. Within short order, we'd figured out that Grergory's go-go dancer was the bar's primary draw, that my bouncer and Bigboy's onsite healer (incongruously using a template named "Angel") had an organ-harvesting sideline, and that [ profile] vianegativa's florid Capote-esque mentalist was as ubiquitous as he was hated. The new boys, being both mercenaries, had a certain rapport with my character, a rapport which blossomed into the session's most unexpected romance. Oh, and JB had determined that the whole shebang was located on a former oil platform about to be attacked by marauders with jetskis.

There was at least one moment during play of pure magic (involving the touching apotheosis of [ profile] dedos's stammering vegatable-pedlar), aside from countless moments of hilarity. I honestly can't remember the last time I've laughed so much in such a compressed span of time. I encouraged Grergory to act out bits of his big dance number, and he not only obliged but sang snatches of the cub DJ's mix. "This is a world where Smashmouth is the greatest band ever," he informed us. After a moment of spectacular denseness on his part, one of the other players blurted out, "Oh my god, so basically, you're playing Zoolander."

Of course, this only made it harder to readjust to the unengaging unidimensionality of his character in Necessary Evil. I initially had the impression that our group divided naturally into half powergamers and half deep roleplayers. Now I see that, really, everyone has good roleplaying chops, some just haven't been exercising them as much. [ profile] vianegativa acknowledged as much in our post-game discussion of the next game. "This is a group that really likes character development," he said before suggesting perhaps something in the Storyteller range next time. If it brings out the full range of what the players are capable of, I'm all for it.

He did reassure us, however, that he wasn't getting bored yet with the current game thanks to our ingenuity at confounding his expectations. "As long as you guys keep doing things like possessing one of the other PCs with demons, I won't get tired of running this." Will I get tired of playing it, though? My character isn't much like I conceived of her and she's accomplished both more than she set out to do and much less. For the first several sessions, I was always bracing for the cutthroat endgame when the PCs inevitably turn on each other. It's still not clear that bloody climax will ever come.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It's been a long time since I did any gaming on a Monday night--since I regretfully left [ profile] princeofcairo's longrunning RPG, in fact. I'm just not good with late nights during the week, and that's without starting out still recovering from whatever fun I had on the weekend (which due to Pride was considerable). But JB was having us all over for a little distraction during his Bachelor Week and I couldn't refuse.

He'd originally planned a one-shot, but was himself too tired to pull it off, so we settled for card games. Now that I think about it, they were the same two games I played in the last time he had me over: 7 Wonders and slash. And I did about as good this time around as I did then, which is to say not well at all. I had an early coup in slash with Jaws/50-ft Woman, but whatever I learned in the way of strategy the last time I played the building game I managed to forget completely and wound up dead last.

But the point isn't to win, it's to have fun (as JB's husband reminded him per telephone during the proceedings, prompting us to punctuate every decision with, "But will it be more fun for JB?"). Which, by god, we did. JB "crossed the streams" by inviting a player from one of his other games. He's in an opposite-sex marriage, so everyone read him as straight, to the point that we joked he was "insurance" to prevent an orgy from breaking out. We stayed guarded only for a short while until it became clear he could hold his own at a game whose raison d'être is kinky non-hetero matchups.

The champion of these, however, was Grergory. Later, when the rump of us were dishing the alternative Sunday game we play it, we lamented that he didn't bring the same commitment and creativity to Necessary Evil, instead playing an aggressively one-dimensional character and resisting my attempts in particular to give him some depth. If [ profile] vianegativa goes ahead with the notion of D&D3.75 for the next game, that will definitely split the group, which as it stands is an unstable coalition of serious roleplayers and more munchkinny types.

I feel less bad about that than I once would have since I'm seeing more of the guys outside of gaming sessions. More than half of us were at the Big Bear Barbecue on Sunday, leading to the usual "long time no see" yestreen. I'm eager to host some more game nights at my place and dig deeper into JB's hoard of un- or little-played games. And who knows? Maybe without a token Kinsey 1 around, that orgy will break out after all.
muckefuck: (Default)
The one thing I can say for my disturbed sleep these days is that it's yielding some memorable dreams. Last night, for instance, I had a three-parter about [ profile] vianegativa's next RPG, which was a space game. I was a little late to our meeting spot, which seemed to be a poorly-lit quarry somewhere, and as I approached I overheard everyone speculating about what had become of me and wondering if they should send out a search party. "Or you could just, you know, call me," I thought. Then I looked at my phone and saw 65 unread text messages. Oops.

The oddest aspect to the whole affair is that we were LARPing with whole-body holograms. Somehow I'd missed a make-up session and arrived in media res to a surprise inspection of our Serenity-esque spaceship by this universe's answer to the Alliance. On top of that, [ profile] vianegativa was introducing two new players into the group. One was easily the ugliest woman I've ever seen in my life and her hologram wasn't working because she'd left it on too long in a game the day before. She was supposed to be playing an alien character of Hobbit-like cuteness.

And this was a game with a heavy slash element. From the start, two of my fellow players were already poised to make out. So I nervously made the rounds trying to establish the hierarchy of the ship. I knew I was the engineer and VN was the captain, but I knew we didn't have enough members to fill all the usual roles so I was trying to figure out who was doubling up as what. And the more I asked, the more confused I became.

The last part of the dream was a kind of epilogue during my last half-hour of sleep. I don't remember much beyond the realisation that [ profile] vianegativa's character was Trotsky to our friend JB's Lenin, and that made me Stalin. So I naturally began wondering who I should select as my Beria.
Apr. 26th, 2015 10:38 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
My blockbuster weekend of gaming almost became a bust. First, yesterday's big bear game night was cancelled on account of the host's health issues. Nothing that could be done about that (which nevertheless didn't stop one of the invitees from whining about how his weekend plans got screwed; people, I tell you). Then today's biweekly RPG got cancelled at quite literally the last minute. The GM had tried to cancel it on Friday, on account of his ex moving out of the apartment (a move, btw, that had been planned SIX MONTHS in advance), but I put forth our place as an alternative venue. Then one guy bagged on account of insomnia, another due to a work call, and he posted that it was becoming a "clusterfuck" before pulling the plug.

[ profile] monshu can testify to how put out I was about this. Fortunately, one of the invitees who was already on his way felt the same, and we were able to have a productive bitch session. It's not that I've been spoiled by my previous gaming groups (although I have); this one really does suffer from a critical lack of good scheduling. Even better, he agreed to be the bad guy and post the "can we get it together?" request to the rest of the group. No response from the GM so far, so we'll just have to see if that does anything.

But he stuck around. Add one other attendee, and we had quorum for tabletop games. Barely. We chose Betrayal in the House on the Hill, a haunted house game where one of your party turns traitor when the Big Bad shows up. After two very quick failures, we determined that it's broken with only three players. You just can't give the traitor one move for every two from the rest of the players and expect them to survive long enough to defeat it. Our solution was to give everyone two characters for the exploratory phase. When your man turned, we knocked one of his characters out of play.

This worked brilliantly. We had a little trouble keeping track of a our split personalities, but that got easier as the ghostly serial killer began picking them off. In the end, it was a nailbiting hand-to-hand between the BB and the tank (played by me) that determined the outcome. We all declared ourselves well-satisfied and the Old Man and I went out for a tasty supper at Antica Pizzeria. Yay! The weekend is saved!
Mar. 29th, 2015 09:35 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Rain wasn't forecast to begin until 3 p.m., but no sooner had I left the house than large cold drops start to fall. I got to the bus stop just as the Clark 22 did; a woman waiting even remarked on it. Middle Eastern Bakery seemed less full than usual, but the counterman was in the back making falafel, so the proprietor had his hands full running from the register to the back of the house and back. I waited only five minutes for the bus home but the driver ignored my signal and I walked an extra block in the frigid drizzle. At home, [ profile] monshu, who'd completed his own trip to Mariano's and back before I left the house, deplored the crappiness of the weather. I suggested he put the fire on and regretted that I couldn't simply stretch out in the bath reading a bad novel.

Today was a game day, but with two of the party out of town, we decided against having an RPG session and instead played other games--a streamlined, dice-based version of Pandemic and a deck-building superhero combat game. The latter seemed too easy after our struggle to beat the former. The dice were against us in the first two games, and remained against JB in the last, which landed him squarely in the barrel. He embraced it. At the end, it was all going to come down to his roll until we wisely took it out of the hands and passed it to the Ewok, who succeeded handsomely. JB insisted on having a roll anyway, to see what he would've gotten, and failed in a fashion so stunning I literally fell to the floor laughing.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Wasn't sure the game was going to come off today. Not due to weather (please, we're Chicagoans!) but because the GM's new roomies were moving in. I was prepared to host if need be--I was really counting on the diversion in advance of Tuesday's operation--but fortunately for [ profile] monshu it didn't come to that because one of the other players made the offer first. And not only that, I realise now that I think about it that it was the player most convenient to me. But although he's the same distance as [ profile] vianegativa, he lives closer to the Lake. Snow had been falling softly since the night before, but it wasn't until after noon that the winds began picking up force. Still, it was an easy walk over up until the last block. The winds through the alley paralleling the viaduct were nasty and had covered the path in about a foot of drifts.

For reasons never fully explained but apparently involving a shopping trip, the GM arrived late, which allowed us about 45 minutes of slightly awkward chat. His soon-to-be roomie (not one of the movers-in) had found a cellphone in the snow which he placed on the table. About ten minutes into the game, it rang and what should've been a terse exchange--"Here's the address, come pick it up" became ridiculously protracted. They were close enough it actually took less time for them to actually come and fetch the phone than for us to explain to them where the hell it was.

It was another satisfying session (although I do hope we have one soon which doesn't revolve almost entirely around a single combat) and we went an extra hour to compensate for the delayed start. We'd already agreed to have dinner together anyway, so no spousal negotiations were need. When bopNgrill didn't answer their phone, I volunteered to go out around the corner and check it out. The benjamin of the group volunteered to come with, and took the precaution of soliciting a Chipotle order as well.

Good thing, too; the burger place was closed and had been since 4 p.m. Next door--whether on account of the snow, the sportsball, or both--there were more employees than customers and the manager was out front finishing up a six-foot snowman. In what resembled a reality-show challenge, my companion dashed back and forth in the food line reading off orders for the group. Since he was worried about stumbling on the way home, I took both bags.

We came back to find the game on but no one paying it much mind. Until the halftime show, that is. ("I'll take 'Ways To Tell Everyone In the Room Is Gay' for $100, Alex".) There was so much to love, from the trippy H.R. Puffinstuff-inspired "California Girls" (does it count as jumping the shark if your backup dancers are but you don't actually leap over one?) to a totally respectable performance from Missy Elliott. Not long after, we girded ourselves against the elements and headed out.

The drifts were deeper and more frequent walking home, but at least the wind was at my back. It was eerie to see the streets so empty so early. Two or three times, I thought I might have to stop and help someone unstick their car, but they managed to rock themselves into forward motion. Our street was so changed, I was halfway across it before I recognised it. I knew I was back when I saw how clear the sidewalks were; Scooter's out there right now, in fact, giving them another pass.

But no snow day for me tomorrow. Can't really complain about that although the commute in is going to be no damn fun at all. But how disappointed would we be if we'd gone the whole winter without one really solid snowstorm?
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
First game session with the full complement and I'm full of good feeling. All of us (including the GM) seem equally new to the game which makes for a very forgiving and supportive environment. I expect it will grow less gentle with time, but for now we're getting plenty of good breaks. I can even quantify that thanks to a Savage Worlds mechanic called "bennies". You start each session with three of these little chits and the possibility of earning more if you roleplay well or otherwise impress the GM and you can spend them to redo a die roll or save yourself from dying. So far, everyone's ended the afternoon with at least three. (I spent one today to buy a spectacular finale but I'd earned one earlier for making myself a cell phone. Literally.) With so many tanks in the group, my strategy of "don't get hit--like ever" seems to be working out for me. Eventually I'm sure to draw a short straw, but maybe by then I'll be able to buy up some more protection.

Interestingly, no one seems to be in the barrel yet. I'm not sure if that's because we're all just such nice guys or if it's simply that we're not familiar enough for that sort of contempt. The natural choice would seem to be the sweet child playing Mastermind. He's the benjamin and the least-seasoned gamer (from what I can tell). He also has the fewest allies; the Ewok just met him online recently. (By way of comparison, he and the guy playing Dr Lazarus have known me nearly twenty years at this point.) It also doesn't help that his character is kind of annoying and apt to rush into things. But you never know: all this could just as easily evoke a protective response from the mother bears in the group.

I'm also pleased with how receptive the GM is to player input, since this was always one of my favourite features of the Kengame. With time, [ profile] princeofcairo trusted us enough not to be munchkins and we imbibed enough of his sensibilities (and his psychlims) to know what sort of suggestions would sit well with him. With the Ewok, we seem to have started off on that foot. Since this isn't a licenced game, the background is relatively unpopulated, encouraging Lazarus to spin out ideas for superhero teams which the GM eats up. In fact, at the game today, he had us toss all our character names into a pot and take turns drawing. Whoever you picked, you need to come up with a concept for his nemesis. How will they come into play? We don't know.
Jan. 13th, 2015 10:58 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
No RPGs before bedtime! Yesterday evening I was fiddling around with my character until late and it messed up my sleepytime. I thought it might be nice to have a blank book for this game--[ profile] princeofcairo's campaigns have put me in the habit of taking copious notes--so I stopped by my favourite independent bookstore today at lunchtime. But all they had were pricey Moleskin-equivalents imported from Germany. Then I got back to work and found a perfectly nice compact spiral notebook on the free table. Quelle aubaine!
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
First session of the new biweekly supers game I'm playing in and it seemed to go well. It was remarkable we played at all given the week the GM has had. As it was, I hadn't had a chance to meet with him ahead of time to work on my character. I'd done the best I could without the powers supplement, but I was very conscious of holding up the game, frantically trying to find some way to represent my character conception within the existing framework.

Essentially, my problem is that I've created a pulp villain for a four-colour milieu. It's not the "villain" part that's the problem--we're all villains. It's that her powers aren't the splashy kind and I don't want to play her as a caricature. The interesting fiends are those who have a complex worldview and a well-intentioned motivation--which just so happens to be completely immoral. I've worked hard to give her anarchism some philosophical underpinnings but being misunderstood just comes with the territory.

It doesn't help that I'm playing a system I've never heard of before (Savage Worlds) with a GM and players I've never gamed with before. On the positive side, I've known two of the guys a combined 38 years, give or take, and the rest seem like a decent bunch. It's also, as I admitted to JB, the humpiest gaming group I've ever been in. (That's no diss to the rest of y'all, but even at its best the bear ratio in those other games was never over 30%.) So it feels comfortable even if I don't know what the hell I'm doing when I roll the dice.

You also can't hardly beat it for convenience: four blocks from my house. The merits of that were immediately obvious today, as it was snowing furiously when I left (a little early in order to catch up with JB over lunch beforehand) and the mercury was plunging as I came back. It was light out, however. In fact, I even considered hiking a block up to Clark Street for a better view. Then I felt the wind whip into my face and decided doubtless there'll be other opportunities.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
The main reason I didn't get more sleep in St Louis, of course, was that I was trying to fit in as many games as possible. Dad and his wife won't be here for another hour? Time enough for a game! Half an hour before the roast goes into the oven? We can fit in a game! Kids all in bed? Time to play a complicated game!

Here's the roster for the week (new games in bold):
  • Settlers of Cataan: 1 for 3[*]
  • Ticket To Ride: 0 for 1
  • Tenzies: Impossible to say.
  • Tokaido: 1 for 2
  • Small World: 0 for 1
  • Roll Through the Ages: 1 for 1
  • Love Letters: 0 for 1
[*] Second game was aborted due to a combination of Crazy Older Brother bumping the table and general disinterest, but I had good shot at taking it.

The reason I put "impossible to say" for Tenzies is that it's so quick we played at least twenty or thirty games without really keeping track. I think I was winning anywhere from a third to a half of the time. The conception could hardly be simpler: Everyone rolls ten dice. Each picks what number they're going for, sets aside the dice which show that number, and keeps rerolling the rest until they match. In short order, we started trying out variations (e.g. "Splitzies", five of each) and inventing our own. For instance, "Tower Tenzies" was too difficult given the unstable card table, so we came up with some pyramid variants: four of one number topped by three of another, then two of another, and crowned by one of yet another number. Fun fun fun!

One game I wished we could've played more of was my Christmas present for my sister, Tokaido. In form, it resembles a race game, but the goal is actually to take as long as possible since you win by netting the most points and you get those from stopping at various points of interest along the way. Each character has a different special ability. For instance, I first played (and won with) Hiroshige the Artist who gets a bonus Panorama card every time he stops at an inn. (Each card has a point value plus a bonus for being the first to complete a panorama.) Sis generally tried to spend her way to victory by purchasing souvenirs. (Again, there's a point value for each card and a bonus for completing a set.) It paid off for her in second game. I'm sure there are many more possible strategies but we switched to something else at the request of COB just as we were beginning to discover them. For instance, my second character was a priest who had the ability to make donations to temples without expending his own money. BIL tried to squelch this by occupying temple spots before my turn came up, forcing me to halt elsewhere, but I still got the bonus for most generous donor in the end.

If I have one complaint about the game, it's that it's a little more generic than I'd expected. I understand the need to space out the various stops (temples, scenic spots, villages, hot springs, etc.) equitably in order to support a range of strategies, but still I couldn't figure out why only the endpoints of the route were named. How hard would it have been to choose nine of the most famous temples between Kyoto and Edo and label them? I can't help but feel that if the designers had been Japanese rather than French, there would've been more attention to that kind of evocative detail. But at least they weren't German so it doesn't feel like a mechanic fitted to a theme by whim rather than by design.

Love Letters was another quickie. I feel it's very similar to an existing card game whose name escapes me. In any case, the goal is to end up with the highest ranking card and there are various ways to force another player to discard theirs or otherwise fold. We nearly had time for a second game but one of an uncountable number of distractions intervened. I was happy to end on Small World. BIL was happy to play it, since he hadn't had a chance yet that year. We've played it my last night for three years running and I think this was the first time I didn't win. I did come second, which is much better than I expected given my sister's outstanding performance. (Damn those Spirit Pixies!)
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Game Night was okay. The new guys who made it a bit more interesting last month weren't there which meant that the haunted house game I played with them was absent as well. It was good that I passed on the Cards Against Humanity pre-game; apparently my pal neglected to ask his roommate for permission to use his deck and when he showed up he was well pissed off.

In any case, I insisted on playing something geekier than Catchphrase, so we banished most of the attendees to the bedroom so we could have the coffee table for Munchkin Cthulhu. A cute game, but not without its flaws. Keeping track of other players' boni so you know when to intervene in their combats is a job of work, something that cries out for an app. There is an official app--one of the players had it loaded on his phone--but all it keeps track of is your own character's advancement (something the rest of us were able to do with a ten-sided die), plus give you a "boon".

The whole idea of someone paying a fee to gain an advantage in an off-line game didn't sit well with a couple of us. I can see how it must seem perfectly normal to someone raised on MMORPGs rather than tabletop games and how it's a predictable outgrowth of the kind of crazy secondary market for cards spawn by Magic the Gathering and its imitators (not to mention capitalism in general). But when it reaches the point where you can buy t-shirts which confer a bonus to play when destroyed during a game session the cynicism in the face of antiquated notions of good sportsmanship is too much to bear.

I came close to winning but got hosed on a technicality--my fault for not reading the rules ahead of time, but I just wanted to get playing. After that, we called everyone back in for an all-inclusive game of Catchphrase which went better than expected, although the huge differences in background and ability are still an issue. At one point I got The scarlet letter and said, "It's by Nathaniel Hawthorne. You read it in high school." One of my teammates got it in two (first guessing Seven gables) and from some of the reactions you would've thought we'd used witchcraft. Same as when I got Gone with the wind from the clue of "Four words, a book and a movie" and someone blowing.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Last night was the first Game Night I've made it to in a while, and it was enjoyable if a bit odd. The serious gamers seem to have all drifted away at this point, which is fine--I understand that I'm now going more for the chance to socialise that anything else. But there are hazards to being the one teetotaler at a gathering (not by choice--I was taking naproxen for a bad back), one of them being that parts of the evening seemed to have been script by a gay disciple of Eugene O'Neill.

At one point we were talking politics near the bar and a small intense man tried to convince me that our next war would be with...Facebook. No, really. When I tried to gently communicate the absurdity of this notion, he shrugged and said, "Look back in twenty years, you'll see." Later, I happened to be in the room when he was conducting a rather strained interview with a rather young and very drunk potential trick who spilled vodka on an armchair while swigging it from a bottle.

Our host took this opportunity to mention the virtues of cheap vodka as a stain-remover. "Does it have to be cheap?" asked an awkward bearded man of about my age hovering nearby. This prompted me to strike up a conversation with him about carpets which within ten minutes had become a sob session about the heartbreak of his life. He was fixated on a glass left under the stained armchair, so I asked if he wanted me to pick it up, but he said, no, he wanted to stick this conversation in it so we could "pretend it never happened" and rejoin the others.

We did, and they were still getting high in one of the bedrooms, but the fug wasn't as stifling as it had been earlier (though I still managed to acquire a sore throat after about five minutes in the room). I picked up where I'd left off with one of the more interesting gents at the event, but what he wanted to talk about was one of the other guest's unhealthy obsession with his sister, who he was showing around photos of and talking about how much liked breasts. But we soon were distracted from that by talk of the sad situation of a man from Joliet still living with his ex because "someone needs to take care of him and he doesn't have any family or friends".

See what I mean?

But it was all okay, really. The Jolieteer gave me a ride home because it was late and "everything's out of the way for me anyway" and I really enjoyed chatting with the white-haired gent, who has wit and a son in college. The cookies I brought from Mughal Bakery went over well and I ended up on the winning team for both Catchphrase and Taboo. Most shambolic game of Catchphrase ever, by the way, though it did have a moment of sidesplitting humour when Joliet Bear misread the phrase "I am not a crook" as "I am not a cook".
muckefuck: (Default)
Just back from Game Night in the more obscure burbs. (So far, no one I've mentioned the name to has known that northern Illinois had a "Bloomingdale".) The place was crazy big; my first thought on seeing it was, "That's a lot to mow" and that was before we were shown the back forty. There's an entire pond on the property!

Getting out there went pretty smoothly despite the lack of anything resembling a direct route. You have to zig and zag up and down three different expressways, but at least the last mile is easy: one turn off a major thoroughfare and you're there. When the conversation flagged, the driver pulled out his iPod and treated us to Tim Minchin.

I played three games, two for the second time (Guillotine, Hex Hex) and one for the first (Quelf). Catchphrase was going in the den, but thanks to the sprawling split-level architecture, we hardly knew anyone else was in the house as we huddled around a card table in the master bedroom. We lost a couple people after Hex Hex--the rules were just a tad too "complicated" for the less-serious gamers--so we decided to go with a real "party game".

Quelf is Cranium-like in its combination of different challenges, but I think it tries too hard to be wacky. It's like they were aiming for the feel of a balls-out adolescent truth-or-dare session, but grafting on enough rules to encourage lawyering, which doesn't make for a happy marriage. Bizarrely, I made it through almost entirely unscathed while others were forced to sit on the floor or under furniture or observe various crazy taboos and geasa.

It ended up being one of those games which ends with exhalations of relief rather than paroxysms of joy; not sure how willing I'd be to play it again, even after 2+ drinks. I especially felt bad for the young woman who spent the evening in various stages of isolation from the rest of the players. "Please don't go back and tell all your friends that we're misogynists!" I begged her on her way out.
muckefuck: (Default)
This month's Game Night was at friends in Uptown whose apartment was just a tad cozy for the crowd gathered there. As per usual, I fell in with the Catchphrase crowd in the front room, but eventually I got annoyed enough with the distractions and interruptions that I made a friend sub for me and wandered off. Unfortunately, the other games going on at that point were Nuts in the dining room and elsewhere a game I was calling "Jackass Home Edition". Remember the first appearance of Dr. Marvin Monroe on The Simpsons? I kid you not, that's what it was. Sometimes it's convenient to be able to claim you kind of have a heart condition.

So I drifted back in and things got a little better. As I was telling Scruffy today, I started playing in the larger games because it was a good way of getting to know a lot of people. Now that I'm on nodding terms with most regulars, it may be time to start seeking out smaller ones with the people I really like. I sort of thought that's what I was doing when I agreed to play "Strip Twister", but once word carried throughout the apartment, we soon had quite a crowd in the living room baying for bare ass. To tell the truth, it made me a little uncomfortable and I was glad someone instituted the rule that anyone who interfered with the participants had to strip off as well.

Now we're dealing with the fallout from that on Facebook. Some people seem to think there's no place for that at Game Night, whose raison d'être is to provide a place to socialise away from the bars and bathhouses, others that it's all good clean fun. As a compromise, I proposed an "after hours" rule that what happens after the official ending time is the host's business and anyone who thinks that might be a problem for them is free to leave before then. Jury's still out on that.

In case anyone's curious, I ended up crashing out (literally) before I could get half my kit off, but I stayed undressed until the end out of solidarity with the players, who I didn't think should be the only unclothed people in the room. After that, my South Texan buddy showed up with something called Guesstures and we had a fairly successful game of that despite extreme drunkenness and some shuffling of the teams. Basically, it's speed charades, and once we got the hang of that it went very well. I also determined that one of my team members was (a) a librarian and (b) living very close to us, so I'm going to see what I can do to bring him and his partner into our little orbit.


muckefuck: (Default)

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