Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Doctor Who:Night of the Jackal

I had planned to run a Doctor Who RPG session at my birthday party last year, but that never came to pass. However, we managed to do it this year and it was a lot of fun.

Our characters were:

Bob Ross: Soft-spoken be-afroed painter of public television fame. In this universe, he has some kind of a Dorian Gray kind of immortality (he keeps meaning to complete that self-portrait, but always gets distracted by all those happy little accidents)

A time-displaced Anne Boleyn: Rescued the day before her execution. She is not sure what to make of the futuristic world of Victorian London, but she is determined to live her life to its fullets.

Coraline Magnus: Apprentice Time Lady working who had heard from her friend Romana that earth was a pretty great place. She’s working at the Red Tavern.

We also had two characters who dropped out of the game after an hour. Both players were kids, and they were expecting something different than what they got.

Chrysanthemum “Chrissie”  Íroas: A gallfreyan Time Tot who was enrolled in Hogwarts and sorted into Ravenclaw. She graduated at fifteen, but was unable to go home, because the Time Lords weren’t scheduled to pick her up for three more years and there were no protocols in place to bring her back early. Her player decided that her parents had sent her to earth because Gallifrey was going to be destroyed, which was news to Coraline.

Reaper from Overwatch: Hilariously violent and inappropriate. The party was attending a funeral as part of their investigation. When asked by the dead man’s sister how he knew the deceased, Reaper(falsely) claimed, “I killed him.”

Also of note was the Terminator trying to pass (unsuccessfully) as Sherlock Holmes. He overshot his mark by about a hundred years and he's just killing time solving mysteries while he waits for Sarah Connor to be born.
I modified a published adventure, Night of the Jackals, from Cthulhu by Gaslight.  My original intent had been to run A Night in the Lonesome October game, but that idea fell by the wayside and the only vestige of it was that the two games happened to share the same Victorian London setting.

Of our three adult players, only one had ever played in a tabletop RPG, but they really took to it extremely well. Most people with whom I played began in adolescence.  They were great for first time role-players. They even came in costume!

We opened with Coraline receiving a message on her space-time telegraph.

Just then, Alan Paice, the owner of the Red Tavern (in this continuity) showed up and apologized to Coraline. He’d have to miss their weekly lunch because he had to attend the funeral of an old army buddy.

The party tagged along to the funeral and began investigating.  The kids disappeared at this point, and we all agreed that their characters were keeping an eye on Alan.

The other characters unraveled the mystery and the whole thing went very smoothly. I’m of the school of thought that players should never miss a vital clue due to a bad roll.  The trick shouldn’t be getting the information; the trick is putting it together correctly to reach the proper conclusion.

I think the biggest failure of the night was on me. I introduced the baddie later than I should have, and the scenario is set up to establish another character as a red herring. I didn’t want to lead them to the wrong conclusion by not giving them enough information. That’s not fair to do to new players and it’s a good way to sour them on the game. Unfortunately, I think I laid it on a little too thick. As soon as he showed up they called a sidebar and basically said, “This guy is obviously the villain.”

(In my defense, we were four hours by that point, and I think hurrying things along was probably the best choice, but it certainly could have been handled with a bit more finesse.)

We had some memorable moments, like the women putting on pants in order to pass as men to sneak into a gentleman’s club and the climax of the adventure came when Anne Boleyn chopped the head off the jackal-headed monster. Everybody was good, but Anne’s character was simply born to play that role.

It was all delightfully silly and everyone had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Lily asked me why I wasn't writing about her as much as I used to, and she was afraid that it was because I didn't think she was remarkable anymore, but that's not it at all.  The real reason is that I'm concerned for her privacy. Like a dummy, I'm blogging here under my very distinctive real name and I don't want to write anything that would embarrass her if her friends should find it.

But, because she asked me I'll relate this story.

Lily asked me about the song Believer, by Imagine Dragons. and what I thought the song represented. I wasn't familiar with it, but I listened to it and concluded that the artist had overcome some kind of hardship in his childhood and the act overcoming it shaped the person he became as an adult. Lily said that she had come to the same conclusion and then she added, "I like that I can get you to think about things you wouldn't otherwise consider."

I was overcome by affection for her just then. That's exactly the kind of thing I would say to her.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The perils and rewards of shaving

It's fairly well known that Zelazny came up with the idea for Lord of Light after he cut himself shaving and began free-associating about changing bodies and the impact that would have on a society.

I cut myself shaving this morning. I will begin work on my magnum opus as soon as I get this piece of tissue paper off my face.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Autumn Falls: Twilight Time

Don’t believe what the calendar tells you. Officially, Autumn begins with the September equinox, but around here we know it starts with October.

Or at least it feels that way.

It was my friend Jason who introduced me to the word “crepuscular”. It means pertaining to times of twilight. Dusk or dawn. October is that month, the twilight of the year.

We observed the occasion by drinking our first mug of apple cider, playing Munchkin Cthulhu and reading a chapter of A Night in the Lonesome October.

We intend to watch the first season of Stranger Things, in what will surely become its own October tradition, and I'm beginning to flesh out the ANILO role-playing session we have scheduled for the 28th.