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Hewards Handy Haversack - GenCon Edition

not quite gaming

Wednesday after work, we are going to be heading to Indy to stay with some friends. Then from Thursday to Sunday, we are going to be at GenCon.

This is my first full weekend of GenCon, having twice previously went down for a single day. As such here is what I’m planning on bringing.

  • My Partner - She wants to make sure that she doesn’t get left behind in Northern Indiana. (She’s excited, but not nearly as much as I am. I will convert her to even more of a gamer. Right now she’s a level 2 gamer.)
  • Water Bottles - for without water there can be no life
  • Snacks - for without cheap food there is less money for games
  • Dice - lots of d6s as I’m going to be running Hollowpoint, hopefully playing Burning Wheel GoldDungeon World, and Lady Blackbird. I’ll have two sets of the non-d6ers, just in-case. And if I hold my breath, I might get a stab at TechNoir.
  • Books - Given that the Hollowpoint PDF is not yet available, and according to Brad Murray won’t be available, I’ll definitely need to bring my copy. I’m also going to bring my bungled copy of Do to see if I can track down a signature or two. I’ll probably bring the other one in case I the author is feeling generous.
  • Tablet - I don’t want to lug around all of the possible games I could play, so I’m going to load up my Xoom with as many game books as possible.
  • Index Cards - Gotta have them. They are so versatile.
  • Quarters - As I understand it, having a small supply of quarters can never hurt.
  • Ink Pen - In case I need someone to autograph something.
  • iPhone - Obviously I need to be able to check the emails. Don’t know if I’ll use that as my dice roller or not.
  • Clothes and Toiletries - Yes, I plan to bath and wear fresh clothes.
  • My Hat - I found that if I wear the same hat everyday, people can recognize me from afar. Plus, if I’m trying to meetup with people at Games on Demand, they should be able to spot me based on my recent blog post, or my Google+ profile pictureNote: I have since gotten a new pair of glasses.
  • A Gaming Budget - I’m not going to allow myself to buy every shiny game, but I’m eying Burning Wheel Gold, Dungeon World

If you aren’t going to be able to make it to GenCon, perhaps you can give the RPGGeek’s Dungeon of Doom a try. It’s running at the same time and looks to be very interesting.

Hollowpoint Session Observations

role-playing game

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

arts and crafts
not quite gaming

Step 1: Supplies you will Need

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: 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).

Step 2: Measure the Height

Step 2: 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. I highly recommend gently brushing the surface of your book. Nothing sucks worse than to entomb a potato chip crumb in your book.

Step 3: Flip the Book Along It’s Spine

Step 3: 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

Step 4: Mark the max width, giving yourself an extra inch or so.

Step 5: Cut out the Measured Region

Step 5: 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

Step 6: 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

Step 7: 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

Step 8: 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

Step 9: 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

Step 10: 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

Step 11: 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

Step 12: 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

Step 13: 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

Step 14: 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

Step 16: 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

Step 17: 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

Step 18 (Optional): 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

Step 19: 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

diaspora: the precious few
role-playing game
session report
the precious few

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

diaspora: the precious few
role-playing game
session report
the precious few

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.