Friday, June 28, 2013

Volant - Merchants of Death

The Volant IRC game has come alive in the last week! We have developed the setting - here:

That is culture, religion, and the Association's POV of four different cultures, plus the culture the Association is part of. We are Merchants of Death,  selling trained war birds, siege engines, and clockwork devices to various customers, with a dreaded enemy due to show up at any time. The PCs live on a free fragment - the Cuckoo's Nest.

This enemy, the Raft, is made up of a single culture on hundreds of tiny fragments, which they steer by sails. Being much lighter than full skylands, the fragments whip around the world faster than the larger nations, lapping them every few years. Each time they come through, the nations in our local area get beat up. So, we have a hot commodity in a seller's market.

 Most of the PCs are done as well. Play begins on Wednesday, and we are all champing at the bit to play! My one worry? We couldn't possibly do more than scratch the surface of this rich, rich setting in the few weeks we have!   

Friday, June 21, 2013

Volant IRC

I will be starting up a game of Volant over IRC in place of our suspended Pigboats game. This game will have 3 players and be played on Wednesday nights. Currently, I am also running a Saturday face to face Outremer game and a Tuesday game of Look! Up In The Sky! over Google+ Hangout, and am setting up to GM In Harm's Way: Napoleonic Naval over IRC on Sundays starting next weekend.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

The End of an Era!

Today, I ran the conclusion of along, long story arc in my 11 year old StarCluster IRC campaign. We began it in 2003, with StarCluster 1, moved to StarCluster 2 and then StarCluster 3. The game has been fascinating, due entirely to my awesome group of players! But the story arc we started six years ago on landing on Glorianna is over. Where we go from here, I have no idea! :D

One of the players sent this around:

"Wow,  I don't believe it.  Clash mentioned before we left that the
Glorianna plot line has been on going for six years. Thanks to everyone for creating a truly awesome gaming experience."

Thank *you* guys! It was an incredible ride!


Lobsters Rule!

So, with two of my players out, we decided not to play our regularly scheduled Outremer game. Instead we played a one shot of Tools of Ignorance. One of the players missed the entire time we playtested it, so it was a new experience for him. They decided to play rookies, just up from the farms, and I brought them into the Maine Lobsters Baseball Club, the finest expansion team in the National League. Well.. after a visit to a strip club in San Diego, with hijinx and mayhem, and almost a fist fight between two rookies.

The game against the padres was.... amazing. The three Lobster rookies had hellacious games - The pitcher pitched a shutout and went four for five at the plate, with seven RBIs. The shortstop went 3 for four with a hit By Pitch after goading the Padre's pitcher, and four RBIs - and stole home. The rookie first baseman hit for the cycle with two more home runs to boot. I stopped the game after five innings with a rainstorm - we were running late and it was a mercy killing. Lobsters won 28 to 0. :D


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hangout Up In The Sky

Tuesday, I ran a session of Look! Up In The Sky! over Google Hangouts. Though I have participated in Hangouts before, this was the first game session I had ever run. I have been running various games for over a decade on IRC, which is a wonderful medium, and I will be comparing and contrasting the experience with both that and running face to face.

First, it was a struggle to get everyone together. The first session, where we built the City, the Association, and the Characters, went off fine, but this first game session was tough to get rolling. We tried and failed for two weeks to get people coordinated, but we would end up without a quorum. Anyway, we finally got started - late, but started. This is just a fact of life when you are getting together with adults who have Real Lives, and is no different than with IRC, though my older groups have no problem, having been committed for years to the game.

The city was New Haven, a new city built on seven hexagonal artificial islands arranged in a super hexagon and connected by bridges. It had been built on a seamount in the Pacific, off the coast of northern California, and was no more than fifteen years old. Each of the seven islands was a neighborhood, with its own topographic, ethnic, and cultural characteristics - all defined in the city building process.

Our Association was Captain Cook's School, a school for talented but poor kids, which ran a Grade School through High School program. The PCs were a school-supported and authorized club. They had after-school access to a clubhouse - a storage container with a garage and a single room, both with power - and a classroom in the school building, three school bus/minivans painted yellow and black with signs and lights, an old computer with internet access running Windows ME, and two poor databases.

The player characters were all seniors in the High School program - Nate, a geeky boy with Weird Science! skills and elastic limbs; Sigurd, a nice but oddly naive lad who claimed to be a reincarnation of the Germanic hero of the same name; Kilauea - AKA Kila - a mountainous Polynesian girl who could grow much larger and stronger; and Eric, a redneck kid with strange light powers.

The session went well as an introductory session. The characters were great and worked well together, and the setting was interesting. They came in after class to find their clubhouse door smashed in by a single blow from a giant fist, and evidence of a fight or other violent encounter inside. This led them to a search for a kidnapped girl, with glimpses of something bigger behind and beneath it.

Playing over Hangout was different from either face to face gaming, or IRC gaming. Hangout is a video+voice medium, and when several players were talking at once, things could get garbled. Only one voice source at a time can transmit, and the players' voices could be chopped and mixed, with whoever was loudest at that moment coming through. One of the players and I did not have video enabled. This is intentional on my part, as I think playing a dozen NPCs would be easier if the players only had the NPCs' distinctive voices to go by, and were not distracted by the old geezer face.

I have found IRC with its text over various channels to be superior for the roleplaying aspects of gaming. It's really good for immersion and for back-channel communication. The Hangout was more like a face to face session, though with the camera off and different voices, it was a little better than real life. Over IRC I have to do voices entirely with odd spelling mimicking an accent and/or peculiar methods of expression and stock phrases to give characters real shapes.The last thing that was tricky was that there is no log for sessions. You can record a hangout, but I had no wish to publish it. i have come to depend on a log for reference and AP reports later.

All in all, a very good start! Mix interesting characters, an interesting setting, and a cool situation is my tried and trusted ingredient for successful gaming.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

See the Conquering Hero Comes

Our new player couldn't make the game Monday, so we played out the return to normalcy in Fremantle of the Pike's officers. Having insulted Captain Quigley's intelligence with wild talk about sinking aircraft carriers, he had just left in a huff, when the XO, Bobby Vaugirard, was assaulted from behind as he spoke to his skipper. The red-haired assassin was none other than Galatea, Bobby's WREN driver and current romantic interest, and origin of the name of the late, lamented frigate Galatea.

"They said you were dead! Don't you ever do that t' me again, you sod!" were her affectionate words. Bobby found himself trapped in pretzel logic in the ensuing word storm, and, panicking, made several verbal blunders, including asking for her number, forgetting she had already given it to him, and thus implying she wasn't worth remembering concerning such petty details. He escaped with his skin intact, while his Skipper watched from the sidelines, vastly amused.

The Skipper, Ray Campbell, left for Captain Quigley's office with his report, while Bobby dived into the mountain of paperwork that awaited him as a reward for his station as Exec. Quigley left Campbell to cool his heels in the anteroom, while he read Ray's report - undoubtedly to get Ray nervous - but that strategy failed as he read Ray's report that the Pike had indeed sunk two carriers in the Surigao Strait, along with many other craft he had known nothing about. The last he had heard from the Pike was acknowledging the receipt of the "Ultra" message that had precipitated the entire encounter, as the Pike's radio antenna had been wiped out along with most of her upper works by the vicious depth charging following the attack.

He immediately called Ray into his office and told him that the report was ridiculous, crazy. Ray backed the report as nothing but the truth. Quigley growled that if Ray's report were not completely backed up by his officers, Quigley would throw him in the brig and cashier him from the service. Campbell maintained the report was the simple truth, and his officers would indeed back him up. Quigley read further. "I see you recommended Vaugirard, Rizzo, and Sanderson (the three volunteers on the Galatea's attack) for the Medal of Honor... If what you write is true, that doesn't sound too excessive." He hesitated at the end, looked at Ray, then signed the report. When he looked up, Ray was still there. "What do you want, a parade? Dismissed!" Ray's parting remark that a parade would only be fitting earned him a "DAMN YOU CAMPBELL!" for his pains.

That evening, Bobby called Gal's number and began with affectionate remarks, only to learn that the recipient was Ginny, Gal's roommate. They ended up going out for dancing and Swan beers at a club in a double date with Ray and Ginny. While the other two were dancing, Bobby learned that Gal was a widow, having been married for three days last year before her new husband Jimmy was shipped out to die in Egypt. Bobby told her he was married, but he and his wife had not touched each other since the birth of their daughter years ago. He told her that when he got back to the States, he'd divorce his wife and send for Gal. Gal told him not to make promises. They were hazardous things in wartime, and they should just enjoy the moment. The night proceeded. All in all, a sweet  session that was needed and wanted.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Next Patrol of the Pike Begins Tonight!

The USS Pike has made it back to Fremantle (mostly) intact. The sub will be undergoing intensive repairs after its pasting by Japanese escorts after an extraordinary patrol to the Philippines, so this will be a long layover.

Some notable departures - Lt. Windy Windham, the boat's Engineer, will be leaving, replaced by Lieutenant William Ashley, a 40 year old Seattle native with family problems. The boat's Diving Officer, Lt. jg Theron Yoder, will also be rotated out, replaced by Lieutenant jg Jackie Keene, a rich artist trapped in the Navy by the war. Lt. jg Sal Rizzo is also leaving for a War bond tour in the States followed by reassignment. He will be replaced by 26 year old Lt. jg Lawrence Foote, a newly minted jg from Savannah.

It will be impossible to top what the Pike did in the previous patrol, but I doubt there will be any slackening of action, as her Skipper is most intent on sailing In Harm's Way.