[Serial] Playtesters wanted!

I finished recording the audio files for Serial, a game of the horrors of serial murder last night. Kat and I have a bit of sound-editing and form-creation yet to finish up, but by next week at the latest, I’ll be looking for some playtesters. This will be primarily a test of the sound files + playsheets presentation of the game. We’re confident that the game itself does what we want it to do. We need to be sure that the instructional method teaches the game as well as we hope it does. Therefore, I’m only looking for people who have never played Serial before.

WHAT’S THE GAME ABOUT: Serial is a game about the impact and investigation into a serial killer’s murder spree. All players will portray potential victims of the serial killer, and also the skilled investigators attempting to bring the killer to justice. No one plays the serial killer.

WHAT’S THE SHAPE OF THE GAME: A game of Serial handles 3 to 6 players, and generally takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours–about the same as a long board game. It requires some light role-playing and imagination in the same vein as popular law enforcement dramas (CSI, Law & Order, etc.). Good for giving non-gamers a taste of role-playing.

WHAT PLAYTESTERS WOULD NEED TO DO: I would send you .mp3 files of the game instructions, and PDFs of the forms. Before you play, you’d need to print out the forms, and make sure you have the equipment set up to play the mp3’s for the entire group. Also, you’ll need writing implements and 5d6 per player. During the game, you’ll need to listen to the mp3s as they explain the game, and keep note of any points of confusion that arise.

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED, reply in the comments, or send an e-mail to my gmail account: stalwartIP

Gay Rights

via ambersknave who got it from wickedthought
Why is that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” -Ernest Gaines

We would like to know who really believes in gay rights on livejournal. There is no bribe of a miracle or anything like that. If you truly believe in gay rights, then repost this and title the post as “Gay Rights.” If you don’t believe in gay rights, then just ignore this. Thanks.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

[By The Stars] The Secret of the Stalwartian Glaive

from the Miscellania Galactica, compiled by Gase Trimagus

Based on this author’s decoded readings of the venerable Proceedings of the Eighth Stalwart Conclave, as well as other sources, both ancient and contemporary, the enigma that is the Stalwartian glaive shall now be made clear.

It is well known to all learned persons that a Stalwart’s physical prowess derives from her complete and utter self-command. While even a novice might display feats astounding to the undisciplined crowd, such as slowing of the heart, focusing of the fist-strike to shatter ferrous alloys, or leaping distances seemingly impossible within gravity wells; the powers of self-command gained by better-trained Stalwarts boggle the imaginative faculty itself.

The will of a trained Stalwart—one who has passed his Rite of Ordeal—has been so focused by his exposure to and understanding of the very energies that make interstellar travel possible, that the exercise of that will can affect the very cells and molecules of the Stalwart’s physical body. Through repeated mental exertion, the Stalwart is able to draw the very iron and carbon from her blood and flesh and shape them into the form of their glaive. Over weeks and months, these weapons grow from a seed crystal invisible to the unaided eye to the modest dirk-sized glaive of a young initiate. As years pass, a Stalwart will repair, shape, and enhance his glaive, as the weapon serves as physical symbol of the spiritual path the Stalwart has traveled. It is not unknown for accomplished master Stalwarts to wield glaives taller than their own bodies.

As for the seemingly miraculous relationship repeated observed between Stalwarts and their glaives, its dynamic spark lies in the method of glaive craftsmanship divulged above. A Stalwart’s glaive is sprung from her own body through application of unyielding will and Interstellar energies. Even after it is forged, on a spiritual level, it remains a part of the Stalwart’s body–still subject to his will, still connected to the quickening of life within his veins. Thus, summoning a fallen glaive to hand is as simple as matter as raising a hand in celebration.

This, of course, is but the least of the mysteries of the Stalwarts. In my own travels, my own senses have beheld no less than—

Remainder of Fragment Irrevocably Datacorrupt

[By The Stars] The Ancient Order of Stalwarts and their Glaives

From the Miscellania Galactica, compiled by Gase Trimagus

Much has been written about the bond between a Stalwart and his glaive. Mystics and scientists, debunkers and demogouges on a hundreds of worlds have expended thousands upon millions of words probing the pressing questions: Why does an order devoted to inner peace arm itself with the weapons of war? Why are their weapons so antiquated–why a glaive rather than a plasma rifle? What craftsmen could turn out such detailed workmanship? What factory could create each glaive unique to its owner? Older Stalwarts wield larger, more intricate glaives–why do they change their weapons throughout their careers, or do the blades actually grown and age along with their wielder? And what of the miracles that Stalwarts have been known to perform with their glaives? How can a skilled Stalwart summon the hilt of her blade to her outstretched hand from vast distances, even across the dead vacuum of space itself? How can the touch of these sharpened implements of combat also bring healing and rejuvenation to those in need?

All those piles of words, and the only bit useful of them is the questions, never the answers. So it is with most things. But, herein, gentle reader, I shall divulge that most sacrosanct of Stalwarts’ secrets: the true nature of the glaive.

To Be Continued…

Am I really THAT caffiene-deprived?

I never developed a taste for coffee. (UnAmerican of me, I know.) But every now and then I’ll have a crappy night’s sleep and need a caffiene-boost. Sodas laden with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners threaten to aggrevate my gout, so I picked up some chocolate-covered coffee beans. I can eat one of them and get rid of the flavor with a piece of gum, and in 20 minutes or so, I can feel my heart speed up and my eyes open wider. Mission accomplished.

Today, I look at the lables. One of the “Shock-a-lots” packages claims “Caffeine equivalent: about 2+ cups of coffee.” The Starbucks box says “Serving size: 40 pieces” They expect you to eat FORTY of these things at a time? Is that like the equivalent of 80+ cups of coffee? Is my caffiene tolerance so low?

There’s my love-hate relationship with caffiene. What’s yours?

PoliCon 2008

Yesterday we went to PoliCon 2008 in Philadelphia. Every year, Don and Joanna Corcoran organize a convention as a birthday gift for their buddy, Joe Poli. Some years it’s invite-only due to space, some times its part of a larger convention. But I’ve had a good time every year I’ve gone.

Kat and I made a wrong turn and ended up being late. Thankfully, the games waited for us. Bill White ran his fantastic game Ganakagok for five of us–Pattie, Liz, me, Tali, and Will. In a fit of verisimilitude, Bill invited us to play outside in the crisp April air. It helped to evoke the spirit of our Nitu characters (eskimos) who had always lived upon an island of ice, but who knew that a change was coming–the sun was going to rise for the first time ever. We created the initial situation inspired by some draws from the game’s cool tarot-like deck, and determined that the Nitu were in the midst of a famine, and some of the sacred whales had beached themselves. Rather than help them back into the water, the Nitu had feasted upon the taboo whale meat. My character was hit with a vision in the contented, drowsy trance that siezes hungry people after a feast. He knew that superstitions and the old god-ways were nonsense, and the time had come for the people to abandon them. Most of the other characters were focused on returning us to the old ways, so I had lots of opposition. We ended up with many characters having bad endings, and, although the Nitu were no longer the Nitu after the womenfolk had moved to found a new village, it was a very fulfilling game.

Lunch was provided by many tasty sandwich fixings, and then it was on to With Great Power…

I had brought both “Mutant Academy” and “Monster Squad.” My players were Kat, Phil, and Amy. They chose monster Squad, and played Debris (the living statue and leader of the Monster Squad), Mudslide (oozy former supervillian, still in debt to the evil mad scientist) and Cerebus Prime (German Shepherd with a 500 IQ). Debris started the game being haunted/inspired by visions of Gaia, the earth-mother, tellingd Debris that she was meant to be the avatar of the earth. By the end, Debris was teetering on the brink of delusional madness from these visions. Mudslide was trying despately to ooze his way out of his obligations to Dr. Grotesque. Cerebus Prime was steadily souring on the stupidity of people and joined forces with his unrepentantly-misanthropic sister to take vengeance upon The Utopian for seemingly killing the third member of their litter. A good session, but I’ve really got to retool the game to make it fit in four hours. It’s always just a little fustrating to never get that sense of closure that I tend to have when I play other convention games lately.

Dinner was a quick trip to the Melrose dinner. Phenomenal cheesesteaks, fries, and milkshakes. So bad for the body, but so good for the tongue.

In the evening, I played Shock: with Dave Cleaver and Scott Lesher. It was my first time playing “that orange game” and it went really, really well. We decided on a Shock of “first contact” with Issues of “conspiracy,” “power politics,” and “xenophobia.” We decided to keep it near-future, and took an idea from Ursula LeGuin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness” and decided that exactly three aliens had landed. They would only speak to certain people about certain things, and were had never spoken about their advanced technology. Our praxis scales were Mass Media/Personal Contact and Impel/Inspire. Dave’s character was a priest trying to change the church’s “aliens have no souls” position to one of “god loves all beings.” Scott’s character was the U.S. Secretary of State, with whom the aliens liked to play poker. He was trying to form a working relationship with the aliens. My character was an aspiring science fiction writer whose book had been in-process of being published at the time of the aliens’ arrival. It had vanished, his computer was stolen, and he was on the run from a conspiracy. In the end, the priest changed the church AND kept his pulpit–his was story of reform within the church, perhaps a documentary on a civil rights leader or something. Scott’s Secretary of State had a story more like Contact or Childhood’s End, where the president was leaning on him for “results” and the aliens end up playing poker for items of advanced technology versus parts of his own soul. In the end, he wins the secrets of cold fusion, and is also “enlightened” into meaning on a higher plane. My guy ended up with a sort of Philip K. Dick ending, where it was revealed that my never-to-be published science fiction novel had actually been prophetic about the aliens and their landing, and somehow my subconscious mind had been transmitting the entire thing back to the alien homeworld. So, even though I was killed in the CEO’s office, I had just finished transmitting the last paragraph.

The game was very good, and particularly with my fellow players being so creative and invested, I had a great time. However, there were some parts of the game that seemed rough. It seemed a waste of potential that the only mechanical effect of links was to risk them for a re-roll. Plus, praxis scales were a pain. On many rolls, we felt out the scene to find the conflict, set our non-mutually-exclusive stakes, chose our assortment of d4s and d10s, rolled the dice, and said “crap, we forgot to set the praxis.” I think the game might work better if the audience decides on the praxis scale for both the protagonist and antagonist, based on the role-play they do in the scene. That notwithstanding, I was glad to finally get to play Shock:.

Thanks to all for making PoliCon such a great time.