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Population: One

Chi to the City (Incomplete)

So yeah, I did a Patreon and then I ran out of steam. I figured now was as good a time as any to finish laying out the writing I completed: thus, I now have a 38 page Las Vegas Feng Shui sourcebook. I think it’s reasonably useful as is, although there’s a lot more to be done.

Enjoy! (PDF, 8 MB)

Hanging In There

If coronavirus isn’t gonna get me to start blogging regularly again, nothing will, huh?

To quote myself on Instagram: We’re doing just fine. We’re self-isolating — shopping once a week, not socializing at all, sane amount of food in the freezer, working from home. We drove down to Magnuson Park this morning and were happy to see it wasn’t crowded. Walked down to the water, admired a couple of ducks, waited for people to pass by on the main path, walked back to the car.

A few coping strategies have worked well for me. I am paying more attention to a couple of Discords I’m in. I figured out how to stream pro wrestling into Discord from my browser, that was fun. Sorry about the copyright, NJPW! I won’t make a habit of it post-pandemic. I’ve gamed online, um, twice now and I need to find a couple of people who want to try out Electric Bastionland. I finally made some sorbets to use up extra farm share fruits.

Stay safe out there, y’all.

Blog Merge: LFR 2010

Most of my hobby time in 2010 went to playing Living Forgotten Realms. I had a really good time doing it, for the most part. As I recall I’d been playing since early 2009; I know I started playing in Boston and it turned into our main gaming outlet once we moved down to the Baltimore area.

In 2010, I decided to try and play 50 LFR games over the course of the year, and further decided to blog them all in one of those occasional fits of organization I have. This was a wildly unambitious goal, as it turned out. I wound up playing or GMing 120 games. I’m pretty sure I pushed through one or two of those in December so that I could hit a round number.

I never did hit epic tier with Reed. I can’t imagine how I would dig up enough players to do that even informally now; kind of a pity. Man, he was a great character, though. I used to start out adventures by hiring a bunch of townsfolk to cheer him and Faral on their way out of town.

Anyhow! For some reason I did all that blogging on a Tumblr, and it occurred to me today that some day that’ll go away, so I spent an hour or so importing them back to WordPress and fixing up the tags. A few of the links will be broken unless I get around to fixing them eventually, but the whole insane year is now captured under the lfr2010 tag. Call it a very very small slice of gaming history.

Boy, either my cell phone camera was really terrible or Tumblr killed the resolution on my photos. Sorry about that.

A Face In The Crowd

I was perusing the Criterion Channel’s themed collections the other day and realized that the Caught on Tape collection was a) smack dab in my wheelhouse and b) mostly unseen by me. So in an effort to get my money’s worth out of my subscription, I decided to work through the whole collection. I’ve seen Diva and The Lives of Others before, but both are well worth revisiting.

The first movie was A Face in the Crowd, which doesn’t actually fit into the collection theme but never mind that. I’m a sucker for a good old-fashioned evil American populist movie, mostly because of my Huey Long obsession. This was that.

Andy Griffith was really awesome. Like everyone else in the world I think of him as the down to earth charming guy. His “Lonesome” Rhodes had all the charm plus a huge helping of self-centered evil, so that was great. He’s always just on the edge of over-acting which is a perfect fit for his kinda dumb drifter character.

His downfall is a great exemplar of the myth of exposure, which is particularly poignant lately. “Trump can’t possibly wriggle out of this one… ah, yes. Well. Nevertheless.” We know better than to believe that exposed contempt will strip away popularity these days; it’s wryly amusing to see one of the early expressions of that trope. To be fair the public turned against Nixon, so perhaps Kazan and Schulberg weren’t completely off-base.

They got the rest of it right, though. A billionaire and a Senator backing the populist for their own ends? Yep. Nativist sentiment as a political tool? Yep — and that was the most chilling scene of the movie.

Hexhounds Ephemera: Index

The point of all this isn’t that I did amazing prep. I wanted to push myself towards sandbox style improvised play and using index cards (total: 115) was an excellent way to keep myself from getting too wordy. I offer my illegible handwriting in hopes that other GMs with crappy handwriting will find the example useful.

Here’s the list of posts:

Hexhounds: Letter from Griggs

Almost forgot! I handed the players this letter towards the beginning of the last session. “The individual of whom we spoke” was Etty’s demon-possessed mom. Before Setarra possessed her and before she got engaged to Lord Scurlock (the aged child), she was stuck in Ironhook Prison as a result of the fall of their noble house.

Hexhounds: Plots & Setup

And our final chunk of index cards! For some reason I shuffled progress clocks drawn for heists in with the plots and setup stack; no harm done but I’d keep them with the session notes next time.

Most of the cards from the stack of plots I actually used are in fact clocks. Among the others are examples of my favorite prep technique; I used the random score generator table to generate three or four scores, which fit tidily on one card, and then mostly let actual play determine which one was interesting.

Amusingly enough, the more detailed notes I drew up almost never got used. Ulf Ironborn’s lair notes were the only ones that turned out to be relevant, and that was a total GM force — Ulf beat up their bartender pal Rigney for being a racist jerk. It’s not like I didn’t know how the Hexhounds would react to that.

Hexhounds: Factions

Let’s do the factions tonight as well, I’m on a roll.

These are split into two chunks for ease of reading: the Doskvol factions and the Skovland factions. For some reason I didn’t make a card for the Imperials. Those last couple of faction clocks both would have lived on the Imperials card, though.

I was not as diligent at establishing proper faction clocks as I might have been, and I mostly slacked on putting together new ones when the old ones were completed. They were still insanely handy. I mentioned this a few posts ago, but literally any game with NPC factions would benefit from faction clocks and the mechanic would graft cleanly onto just about anything.

The Skovland factions are a bit cleaner since I had a better idea of what I was doing. Still pretty simple, though! Here’s the faction, here’s some background, a couple of key NPCs, and evocative adjectives to remind me what the factions and NPCs are like.