Hollowpoint Session Observations

First and foremost, we had a lot of fun playing the game.  Here are my prep notes.

First Observation

I need to take the time to frame scenes better.  This is generally something I need to do more of.  I also need to remember that I can cut the scene and fast forward the story without narrating the in between moments.

I found a hard time preparing for the game, in part because I can see that the whole story hinges on in play reactions.  I also need to include a bit more information in my Mission so as to allow the players to incorporate complications.

I believe making sure to read Apocalypse World’s MC moves is a good first step.

Second Observation

If you are the best at something, you will make use of it over and over.  Make sure that is what you want to do.  I believe you’ll want to make sure your 5 and 4 rank skill give you enough viable opportunities.  Of course, other players are likely going to be better at other skills than you and are going to ask for your help.

Third Observation

In this game, the action goes to 11.  Jumping cars into helicopters, lighting cats on fire with a martini and cigarette, jumping onto a tank to commandeer the crew, “casually” driving a hover combine up to a guard tower, using cool to buy everyone drinks all the while having another person take the unknowing victims access credentials, calmly disabling the detonation device with your favorite piece of bubblegum and that black paperclip.

Needless to say, we brought the gonzo.

Fourth Observation

Another thing to keep in mind is you’ve gotta keep the game going.  Don’t worry about optimizing action based on if help would be better or taking from the teamwork pool.  After all, if your character dies, you can so quickly make another one.  The point is to move the story forward.

Fifth Observation

The Catch is a wonderful mechanic providing a secondary goal for a scene that is just as important as the primary goal of the scene.  The first Catch sequence I rolled was 6,6,6 as the characters were driving up a mountain trail with a helicopter gunboat giving chase.  They had little chance of handling the catch, they were going to crash.  They instead opted to jump their car into the helicopter.

Sixth Observation

Bringing to bear 24 dice against three agents with full traits is an excellent final conflict.  Of course adding a catch made things all the more interesting.

How to Protect Your Geeky Treasures – A Step By Step Guide

I like to keep my books in excellent shape. I abhor seeing cracked spines or worn edges. Seeing my step-daughter dog ear one of her books almost causes me physical pain.

As I’ve delved into the realm of indie games, I’ve taken the time to protect my books. (This compulsion started earlier as I sought to better protect my Rolemaster books).  Below are the steps I take to protect the covers of my geeky treasures.

Step 1: Supplies you will need

First gather your supplies: A clean surface area, your book, an ink pen, scissors, and a roll of clear matte contact paper. I prefer matte to crystal as matte is more forgiving (i.e. less prone to unsightly hard creases).

I would highly recommend gently brushing the surface of your book. Nothing sucks worse than to entomb a potato chip crumb in your book.

Step 2: Measure the Height

The old adage applies. Measure twice, cut once. Lay the book on the contact paper giving about a 1 inch on the top, bottom and side.

Step 3: Flip the Book Along It's Spine

A packaging trick. Roll the book along its spine to insure you account for enough material to cover the spine.

Step 4: Mark the Max Width, Give Yourself an Inch on Each Side

Mark the max width, giving yourself an extra inch or so.

Step 5: Cut out the Measured Region

Cut the contact paper. I’d imagine you could use a knife and straight-edge for a truly straight cut. But the quality of the cut doesn’t matter too much.

Step 6: Peel Away the Contact Paper to a Little Less than Half-Way

Peel away the contact paper.  You’ll want to peel to just shy of the half-way point, depending on the thickness of the book.  I like to make sure that the non-adhesive covering paper creates a line that is roughly perpendicular to the  edge of the contact paper (though I don’t go so far as to break out the compass and protractor).

Step 7: Carefully Lay the Book Down Starting from the Spine

Carefully lower the book to make contact with the paper, ideally having the spine make first contact and slowly working towards the outer edge of the book. You’ll want to ensure that the book’s top and bottom is being place roughly paralel to the edges of the contact paper.  (I actually find doing this on a gaming mat with a square grid is easiest, just make sure the gaming mat is cleaned).

Step 8: Gently Apply Pressure along the Spine

Gently apply pressure along the spine to make sure that it has the best seal. Then gently apply pressure with your hands working away from the spine towards the edge of the book.

Step 9: With a Flat Surface, Smooth out the Contact Paper Moving out from the Spine

Now apply more direct pressure to the contact paper with a hard surface working away from the spine towards the edge of the book.

Step 10: Clip about 3/4" from the Spine on Each Side

Clip the contact paper at about 3/4″ from the spine.  The closer to the spine the better it is for protecting the book, but the harder Step 12 can be.  (Remember, you can always clip more, but never unclip).

Step 11: Clip the Corners of the Contact Paper

Clip the corners of the adhesive paper.  I typically will not cut a square, instead preferring to leave a less than 90 degree angle of contact paper.  If I leave to much it makes Step 12 a little ugly.

Step 12: Fold the Contact Paper Flaps Inward

Now fold the contact paper inward.  I prefer to fold the tops and bottoms first, as it makes sure that the other flap is anchored down and doesn’t accidentally catch a page that is opening and come undone.

Step 13: Flip the Book Along the Spine

Carefully flip the book along the spine.  As I’m flipping the book, I’m gently pushing the adhesive part of the contact paper away from me, and gently pulling the non-adhesive part away.  This ensures that the spine has a reasonably good seal.

Step 14: Gently Pull the Cover Paper Away and Slowly Lower the Book onto the Contact Paper

As I’m flipping I gently lower the book onto the adhesive paper, working from spine outward.

Step 15: With a Flat Surface, Smooth out the Contact Paper Moving out from the Spine

Repeat step 9, gently working the flat edge from spine to end.

Step 16: Clip the Sides

Again clip the corners as in Steps 10 and 11, and fold the adhesive flaps under as in Step 12.

Step 17: Slice off the Excess Contact Paper

Then cut off the excess contact paper that is near the spine.  I usually use my trusty swiss army knife, but I didn’t think to include that in my initial list of items.

Step 18: Put Your Mark On It

Optional Step: Put your Mark.  My wife bought be a book stamp for putting my embossed mark on it.  (Thank you Jenny)

Step 19: Be Proud! You're a Gamer

You are done.  Show off your work.

If you see me at GenCon, ask me to show you some of my results.  I’ll most definitely have Fiasco and Hollowpoint on hand, and possibly others.

Special thanks to my lovely wife for taking these wonderful pictures.

Using Hollowpoint to flesh out our Diaspora campaign

"Rounds" by Philip Clifford

The last Diaspora: The Precious Few session was June 5th and it looks like it’ll be at least another two weeks until we play again.  For me, it feels as though the energy and momentum of the campaign is in trouble.

This weekend would normally be our Precious Few session, but there are scheduling issues, so I’m going to be running something else — Hollowpoint to be exact.  Since I’ve volunteered to run Hollowpoint for a group of strangers at GenCon, I figured I’d better run it at least once.

I’ve been kicking around a few ideas on the Hollowpoint mission, and ultimately have settled on the idea of running a session in the Precious Few universe.

In the past, while other DMs were running long-standing campaigns, I would often run one-shots when we did not have quorum.  Most of these one-shots were set in the world of the long-running campaigns, and fleshed out tangentially related locations and situations.

So hopefully this brave endeavor will serve its many purposes: learn Hollowpoint, further flesh-out the universe, and reenergize interest in the campaign.  Heck, I even started writing up a Fiasco play set for the campaign.

Below is the mission that I will be running:

The Mission

Good morning Cercyons, you will be landing dirtside on Exxon shortly.  Your mission is to find and then secure the Dynamic Solutions data backup center.

The Forge has determined the data backup center is in the Emolument mountain range near the alpine village of Wachovia (34° 3′ 8″ N / 118° 14′ 34″ W).

Once the data center location has been determined and verified, use one of the two one-time orbital comm unit to relay the coordinates.  Then proceed in securing the data center. Once secure, notify the Forge via the final one-time orbital comm unit.

Should you need it, extraction information will be delivered upon completion.

Diaspora: The Precious Few, Session #5

I have long promised these notes, and I’m quickly writing them to get them out there.

Having found an implanted chip in Billy’s spinal column, the crew of the Precious needed to find a doctor to remove the it.  After a bit of research, it was determined that Dr. Evan Arnold was their man.  Serendipitously, he was speaking at a doctors conference on Orlando.

Billy remained on Precious and the rest went dirtside to check in at the Epcot; Timothy insisted on the Emperor Suite.  While loading their things Martin was eventually able to convince the concierge, Paul, to setup a meeting with Dr. Evan Arnold.

Mason, Martin, William, and Timothy had dinner and saddled up with Dr. Evan Arnold.  While Timothy was getting drunk on wine spritzers, the others convinced Dr. Evan Arnold to perform the surgery that evening, for a rather hefty price.

With an adrenaline shot, stomach pump, and coffee, he flew the crew and the doctor up to the Precious to perform the surgery.  Using the lab facilities on the Precious, Dr. Arnold was able to quickly help Billy.

During the surgery, William was helpful, providing procedures and information to assist Dr. Arnold, while simultaneously hacking into Dr. Arnold’s personal information.

Ultimately, William determined that Dr. Arnold knew who they were and what the chip was.  While returning to Orlando, William and Martin conspired with the AI to depressurize the ship and rig Dr. Arnold’s suit.  A little conflict arose as Mason and Timothy sought to safely land the ship and Martin and William sought to create an lethal accident.  Ultimately the ship landed and Dr. Arnold needed hospitalization (he had a moderate consequence).

The crew sent Dr. Arnold to the hospital, and returned to the hotel.  At the hotel, they learned that Dr. Arnold worked for Dynamic Solutions.  At which point Mason, William, and Martin began to conspire…They got the New Florida “ice cream company” to pick up Dr. Arnold.

As their actions began to catch up with them, they quickly fled the Epcot blasting into space.  At this point the compels were happening so fast and furious as players sought to steer the direction of the Precious and it’s crew.

Once in space, they received a broadcast indicating that Timothy was identified and wanted for questioning.  The severity of the situation was tempered by William hacking the news network and planting a few fake stories.

With a compel on Timothy to “clear his name” he deliberately botched the navigation roll…which was noted by Mason but not before the Precious was engaged in a space combat with four Bob Hope system defenders.

There was a tense moment, as negotiations were attempted.  Eventually hell broke loose, with one of the Bob Hope system defenders being completely shutdown, another destroyed, and the Precious escaping to New Memphis with a Moderate consequence…New Memphis (T-1, E-1, R0), the backwater godless hole of a planet.

Slipping to New Memphis, they were short on fuel and even shorter on friendly systems.  They signaled the lone space station in New Memphis, “His Majesties Eyes in Space” and brokered a landing.  They needed supplies and a place to perform repairs and the Emperor wished to talk with them.

Customer Service – Evil Hat Style – It is Fabulous

As I’ve previously posted, I proudly sponsored the Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple kickstarter project.  I followed the kickstarter while it was seeking funding assisting the the spell-checking/proof-reading.

Daniel Solis and Fred Hicks did an amazing job keeping the sponsors in the loop.  We saw proofs, artwork, etc.  All of which resulted in a wonderful sponsoring experience.

Once the funding wrapped up, Daniel continued to post updates regarding production.  And a few weeks ago, the books began to ship out of Fort Wayne from Alliance Games.  Living 50 minutes away, I received what was likely one of the first copies. And the production was borked.

The pages were in backwards and upside down.  I tweeted @DanielSolis and he pointed me to EvilHat.  @FredHicks got in the loop, and in short order with a snapped picture, a new book was shipped.

I don’t know if a wave of panic hit Fred and Daniel given that I was an early recipient of a mis-produced book, but their response was prompt, professional, extremely helpful.  And as it turns out, I likely have a one of a kind book.

Don’t get me wrong, the book that I received was functional, and I’d be just as happy with it as a properly produced game.

So thank you Daniel and Fred, and all of those that had a part in the creation of this quite interesting game.

Me with my new copy of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

Me with my new copy of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

Change of Plans – GenCon Edition

Originally, I had wrote what I’d like to play and run at GenCon, but since then things have changed.

First of all, I was really hoping to play Fiasco at FrieCon I, but due to a conflict of schedules (*cough* Mr. Falcón *cough*) no Fiasco was played.

Second, there have been a handful of game nights where we’ve talked about gaming, but ultimately we break out Race for the Galaxy or Dominion.  We certainly could try other games, but I get the general sense that there is some fatigue in others about learning new games.  After all, I have lots of games that we all already enjoy, so why learn a new one. (I think I’m editorializing here, so I’ll stop).

Third, and this is the kicker, I’m instead going to be running Hollowpoint at GenCon.  And all because of a thread on Google+.  One of the creators of Hollowpoint and Diaspora, Brad Murray posted the following:

Hollowpoint sales are rapid enough that I’ll start work on some skins this week for free download. If you have a favourite idea from past discussion somewhere, with or without (shame on you!) me, shout it out! Right now I’m looking at elaborating the bad-ass fallen angels from the book, but I’m prepared to go somewhere new too.

And that is where I stuck my neck out.  I proposed a skin — Fremen Jihadists. I also said I’d bring my copy of Hollowpoint and would meet in the Games on Demand area of the convention center.  Several people expressed immediate interest in playing, and with that I fully threw my hat in the ring saying: Thursday afternoon in the Games on Demand area, I’ll be running Hollowpoint.

I haven’t run the game yet, and have only read through it once.  So I’m a bit nervous.  The plan is to run a session this Sunday for the fragment of my gaming group that can make it.  Work out the kinks and be ready to run what looks to be a fantastic game for those at GenCon.

A Night of Race for the Galaxy

I just finished up 4 face-to-face three-player games and 2 face-to-face four-player games of Race for the Galaxy.

In all but the last game, it felt as though the game had the right pacing.  The last game felt like it ended too quickly; The difference for me was that I wasn’t aware that the end game had creeped up.

One of the early complaints I had (and my wife still has) about the game was that it ends too quickly.  You didn’t get to savor what was going on.

Now, having played Keldon’s AI quite a bit, where games can take 5 minutes or less, I feel as though a 20 minute face-to-face game feels just right.  It’s not that there are any less turns, but I more deliberately interact with the game.

In fact, as we were playing, I was taking a bit of time to look at the emerging story.  The Doomed World settled Dying Colony and then settled an Deserted Alien World; Those people just couldn’t catch a break.  Or the Separatist Colony that conquered  the Devolved Uplift Race, and leveraged their Galactic Advertising, to push into the Consumer Markets. And there was the Doomed World that developed Research Labs and funded the Pan-Galactic Research all in an attempt to find a new home.

Besides, playing games face-to-face with friends is much better than playing against a computer.