Still Not Dead! Gaming in the Last Month

From my last post:

That’s where we will pick up tonight, I might be too busy to get tonight’s session written up by the weekend, but I will try to get it done by monday.

Apparently that’s code for “You won’t here from me for a month”, sorry about that guys! I got out of the habit of writing, feels bad, I should have made time for it. I figured I can at least give a state of the union update.

Devil Survivor is actually going fairly well, even if I hadn’t written about it. My excitement levels have gone a bit down on it, and I don’t find myself thinking about it outside of game time as much, but given how long it has been running, I don’t think that’s really that unusual. It helps that the players are starting to surprise me more, so the sessions are needing to become more improvised anyway.

Plot wise, the two managed to make it out of the Cult’s sanctum without any real incidents, they can tell the cult wants something from them and so isn’t going to just kill them, but they can’t tell what that is yet. Overnight, it seems as though O’Connor’s group has kicked things off with a bang and assassinated one of the Admins. Security and the rebels are now at each other’s throats and not really willing to help the PCs deal with the cult, so they’ve been trying to play both sides to get shit to calm down. There were some scenes I really wish I was playing a game with good social mechanics for (like Burning Wheel), because the pure RP versions felt a little lacking.

Speaking of Burning Wheel, I am in the process of organizing a new game to finally replace my old Sunday night game! It is a pair of One on One games with a guy I met through the Burning Wheel G+ Community, I’ll GM one and be the player in the other. Session 0 for both games is this Sunday, so I’ll try to fill you in on all the details next week.

I still really want to do my Torchbearer West Marches game, and this feeling has only been hyped up even more by the fact that a playtest of the overland travel rules, was released today. It seems exactly like the missing piece I needed to pull this off mechanically, now I just need the real world time to put in the legwork to get a group together. Finding that might be tricky as there is some other, non-gaming obligations I am looking to take on as well (with a bit higher priority). But it is still on my mind.

In videogames, e3 happened recently. Personally, I thought it was a rather underwhelming year, but some of Nintendo’s stuff looks pretty sweet (Mario and Metroid). Rabbids Kingdom battle actually looks really fun which probably was the surprise of the show. I don’t think the e3s can all be winners, what with how long game development cycles are, and so I hope next year will be even better.

Personally, I have been playing Crusader Kings II, Story of Seasons Trio of Towns (Married Illuka), and have just dipped into Ever Oasis and Tropico 4 (which I picked up in the steam sale). I was a bit iffy on Ever Oasis, and still not sure if I like it, but I’ll play it a bit more and see. Tropico seems pretty fun so far, and I do love the occasional management game.

In board gaming, my buddies and I actually met for a game night on Sunday, which was the first in a while. We played a round of Dungeon Busters, which finally gave me an excuse to punch the cardboard bits out of it! I ended up playing too conservatively, and so while I never lost any gems, didn’t pull in enough to win. I also finally got to play the Betrayal at House on the Hill expansion. That game ended with a friend of a friend having the choice between a collective victory, and a victory for only him. I’ll leave it at that the rest of us were not happy with his decision. We rounded out the night with two games of Secret Hitler, a hidden identity game where I ended up on the bad team with the same partner both times. We managed to pull of a win twice in a row, which managed to annoy my other friends that we fooled them twice. I’m hoping we can have another one soon!

That about covers my last month in gaming, I’m not going to make any hard promises about writing more entries (because we’ve seen what those are worth), but I am going to at least try, especially with my new Burning Wheel game coming up. Either way, see you next time I hit that publish button!

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Sessions 14&15 – Tuesday (Parts 6 & 7)

Things have been busy at work lately, and I have been working on setting up a new laptop (which still doesn’t quite work the way I want it, it is what I get for picking a non-noob friendly distro of linux), and also have recently been getting into Crusader Kings 2 again, which is a huge time-sink.

Anyway, these last two sessions (and we have another tonight), were pretty good. Since Caine and Venkata split up at the end of last session, I ran a one on one for both of them simultaneously (which is an advantage of the text form).

Caine talked with Jake for a bit and asks about the men that attacked Chris and ruined his farm. Jake replies that the two men, to atone for their failure, are spending time in “reflection chambers”. It’s a funny little bit where Jake is trying to dress it up as nicely as possible for Caine, and it WORKS, except it just makes Caine MAD about the conditions they are in.

Caine asks to meet them, and I decide that it is more interesting than not allowing it, so Jake takes him to them. The “reflection chambers” are guarded, and, when he goes inside to talk to the first one, named Simon, he sees that they are completely dark inside and that this man has not had food or been out of here since the attack on the farm. Caine tries to get some information out of them, and it mostly seems to go along with Jake’s official story of things getting out of hand. Simon though, mistakes Caine for a cult member, reveals that the prophet is female. Before now I had been careful to either avoid pronouns, preferring ‘The Prophet’ when possible, or using a singular they/their when not. He realizes his mistake when Caine presses further and clams up.

Caine weighs his options and decides he is probably not getting any more out of these guys, and, while he would like the punish them somehow, he doesn’t think he can get away with it, and these guys are already in a bad spot for what they did anyway.

Meanwhile, Venkata changes into his robe, and goes in to find his girlfriend, Vanessa. She’s made a mess of this area and is munching on some snacks, but it seems like the room is a large magic circle of some kind. Venkata is on guard because it seems like she is here willingly, but at the very least she is happy to see him.

Venkata begins to ask her some questions, but she first asks him if he knows who the prophet is. He admits he doesn’t, and she tells him that means there is stuff she can not tell him. That naturally pisses him off, but she clarifies that she actually MEANS incapable, not merely will not. Still she can tell him about IG’s plan.

Summoning demons damages reality, and, in order to create their new world, IG will need to poke enough holes in the fabric of existence. Once that happens, they will consume the existing world and use it to make their new one, bringing a select few along for the ride.

Vanessa also confesses her role in all this, she is a demon, possessing a human body. It takes Venkata a while to get it, partly because she keeps beating around the bush. The key thing is though, that she has been a demon for as long as Venkata knew her. She is the goddess Mut and was summoned into an unborn baby as a means of her resurrection (the literal meaning of Shin Megami Tensei is “True Goddess Reincarnation”, and the rebirth of a goddess is a common theme in the series as a result). She will be the medium by which the Prophet will remake the world.

Venkata is not taking all this too well, but she manages to somewhat redeem herself in his eyes by saying that while she can not defy the Prophet due to their contract, she would be willing to let him kill her if he really wants to put a stop to it. He elects not to, and asks if there is an alternative. She tells him that IG can not proceed with their plan while the lockdown remains in place, and if he can gain control of the demon summoning programs before then and stop more demons from coming through, the world will eventually recover from the holes in reality on its own.

We call it there for both players. The week after ends up being a mostly player driven session, as the two of them mostly catch each other up IC. It’s a good session from a roleplaying point of view, and they did a good job coming up with their own next objective when I admitted OOC I didn’t have a “next step” planned for them.

They debate for a while, and decide that Ryan might be their best ally against the cult. He seems to have the demon summoning program already, and has an investment in the status quo which they are worried O’Connor’s people won’t have. Caine feels a bit torn, as he likes O’Connor and is a lower caste member himself, is pretty sympathetic to their plight. In the end though, he decides to trust Venkata’s judgement, and so they make plans for their next step to get out of here.

That’s where we will pick up tonight, I might be too busy to get tonight’s session written up by the weekend, but I will try to get it done by monday.

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Session 13 – Tuesday (Part 5)

Our sessions of Devil Survivor on Wednesday nights have pretty consistently become a single scene or two short ones a week. It’s the nature of the beast when we are playing text and only have about 2 to 3 hours to dedicate to it. I don’t think there is really anything wrong with this, but if these last few recaps (including this one) have seemed short, that’d be why.

Anyway, last time Caine and Venkata agree to basically be kidnapped in order to get access to the Cult’s sanctum. They get searched for weapons, Caine is unarmed, and Venkata willingly gives up most of his, but tries to sneak a stun gun by them. I call for a roll, his cover vs the guards will, and he just barely passes it. I describe it as a close call where the guard came THIS close to finding it.

They leave their demons behind, and Matthew asks them about their needs. The players are curious if there is a magical disadvantage to telling him this, and I tell them there isn’t (in fact, if anything it actually strengthens the binding), but it does mean that they’ll know what the demons want and could try to bribe them. They reply in vague terms and leave the demons behind

They get bags put over their head, since this game takes place inside a large building AND the elevators are out, the mode of transportation was being slung over these large men’s shoulders.

They are brought down to this area without much incident and are greeted by a man I tell Caine that he knows. His name is Jake (would have to check the logs for his last name), and he ran a greenhouse down the hall from Caine. Now, my original plan was to have this guy be someone Venkata knows, as the cult is the faction I tied most of his stuff to. I changed my mind at the last minute, because of how we’ve been lingering on Venkata stuff for a while, and I wanted to try to get Caine more involved.

Anyway, this Jake guy is NOT the Prophet either, who he says is “conserving their strength”, but says he is able to negotiate on the Prophet’s behalf. He apologizes for Caine’s farm, calling it “collateral damage”. He says they were trying to take Chris into their custody to contain the demon summoning program, and things got out of hand due to the people they sent jumping the gun. He comments that not only did those two fail in bringing him in, but they didn’t even take his COMP, inferring (since he knew Caine didn’t own one) that it was the same one Caine now had.

He offers Caine and Venkata a place to lay low as way of apology, and the two of them ask what the cult is planning. He replies, in fancier words, this world has gone to shit, so they are going to use demons to make a new one. When pressed for details he admits that the current world will be destroyed in the process, but he sees it as a necessary sacrifice.

Venkata wants to see his girlfriend, and so Jake has one of the cultists take him to her (I joke OOC that in the anime version this woman would be dressed as a Miko). He is lead down a hallway which has a dog-headed demon guarding the far door. The woman shows him a side door and asks him to go inside and bathe to “purify” himself. When he asks if that is really necessary, the demon insists.

We call it there, if I have time during the week we might try to do some one on one sessions for the split party so we can reunite come game day, but if not, I probably can just do both at once next Wednesday.

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Session 12 – Tuesday (Part 4)

The other night Caine and Venkata followed up on Ven’s mother’s information and made their way to a safe-house used by Immaculate Genesis, the cult they were pursuing. They didn’t quite know what to expect inside, but proceeded in with caution. Inside, they found a lobby area, with a pair of demons (Hathor and Horus) hanging out, and a man behind the desk.

The man greets Venkata by name, and says he has been expecting him. The man is Matthew Knox, the same Matthew that worked with Liam and Chris on the demon summoning program. For various reasons, the cult does not really want the PCs as their enemies at this point, and so Matthew is mostly cooperative with the two of them (although perhaps committing a few lies of omission).

The entirety of the session is taken up by the conversation with Matthew as he explains what he can, and the PCs are generally surprised at how reasonable he is, which is generally the result of two factors. First, in character, he is someone that IG specifically chose to make a good impression, there are raving zealots in it, but, that’s not who would be picked for something like this. Second, one of my goals for this game was to make all of the various factions (demons excluded), to have reasonable (from their point of view, at least) goals, the cult being no exception. I don’t honestly think that type of characterization is needed for EVERY RPG, sometimes the Lich just wants to take over the world because he can, but it was something I am going for here.

The conversation itself was a little disjointed, in my opinion. It wasn’t anything bad, it was just mostly two players both asking different questions of the same NPC at once, and sometimes changing subjects when they think of whatever new thing they want to ask, a lot like some Video Game dialog trees. I don’t think this is due to either of my players, as much as a result of the mediums. I’ve seen this a lot in RPGs in general, and text games tend to exagurate the issue when multiple players start typing a response to the same line of dialog before the other one posts.

Either way, they still get some good info out of Matthew:

  • He confirms that Chris was killed by some “overzealous” members of the cult
  • He will not let them meet/reveal the identity of the cult’s prophet, citing more security concerns than any religious reasons.
  • He claims that the cult has nothing to do with the lock-down/purges, and would generally rather that the lock down ended.
  • Finally, he admits that Vanessa is with them, and fine. He is willing to let Venkata meet her, but that involves taking them to their sanctum. which needs he has to take some security precautions.

We end with the group agreeing to be disarmed and blindfolded in exchange for being taken to the sanctum. I have to say I really do like that the pair of players I have in this game have the perfect mix of playing “smart”, but also are willing to jump into dangerous seeming situations like this when the situation demands it. Looking forward to the results next week!

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Session 11 – Tuesday (Part 3)

We started off the other night with the group heading off to visit Venkata’s mother, they very quickly discovered, as they approached a more populated area, that Frost Ace did not have the super natural ability to hide that Wendigo had. According to him “Hee-horos of justice don’t need to hide!”. Still, they were pretty confidant that Venkata’s had the information they needed, and so they threw a coat on him and called it good. It helps that the frost family line looks much more like mascot characters than dangerous beasts, so he mostly got weird looks.

They arrive at the hospital room where Arya is being treated to find her already meeting with someone. I did a poor job describing him, so I think the PCs just assumed he was a doctor, but that really wasn’t my intent. The illness that Arya has affects her mind, but, for various reasons (her being the PC’s only current lead among them), I had today be a lucid day for her.

Her cat, Bastet (which I don’t know if the PCs picked up on or not), seemed to want to get at Venkata’s rabbit demon, but eventually gave up and settled into Arya’s lap, and Ven asked the other people there for the room.

Him and his mom exchanged some pleasantries, and generally had a fairly nice moment, before Ven got down to business and asked her about the cult. Arya, didn’t really want her son getting involved with them, but did tell him what he wanted to know. She explained that Immaculate Genesis believed that there really wasn’t much of a chance of humans rebuilding the world in its current state, but believed that it could be remade anew. Further, they believed that their leader had the power to summon and command demons, and would use this power to lead them into the new world.

Arya has been out of the game for a while, but she did say that she heard that an area of the Arc was evacuated under rather suspicious, under orders of an engineer she suspected of being an IG member. Venkata decides to check it out and promises to come back soon, and goes outside to tell Caine what he learned.

We called it there. It was a bit short, and Caine didn’t get to do much (I didn’t want to run two parallel conversations at once), but it overall went over well. I’ve been feeling like this game has gotten a bit railroady, so I think I will want to try to put some more open situations out there in the next few sessions when they confront the cult!

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Session 10 – Tuesday (Part 2) (Plus recap for sessions 8&9)

As mentioned in my previous post, we have met twice in the last month. During which time, Caine and Venkata decided to swing by the protest, only to discover it had turned into a full blow riot, and the police were cracking down hard. The two of them managed to locate O’Connor, who had been injured, and managed to help him get off the promenade. They then retreated to a safe house that O’Connor knew about. They explained their situation and decided to give O’Connor the Demon summoning program, who in turn is likely to provide it to his resistance.

The next morning, they met Caine’s new Demon, Frost Ace. While O’Connor has managed to summon a lady in an american flag get up, who introduced herself as Columbia. They talked a bit more with O’Connor, who, while he didn’t know much about the information they were looking for, offered to set them up with one of his contacts in security who did. They agree to meet with him in an abandoned sector of the building, and after a period of their demons feeling like they were being watched, they hear a scream coming from their meeting point.

We start off session 10 there, with the two men kicking in the door to find their contact, and several demons eating through the walls to get at them. They decide that there are too many of them and decide to book it, when at the same time they get an email from the same source that informed them about the lockdown early on in the game.

The politely informs them that they have about 5 minutes to get out of that sector before it is “purged”, and provides them an outdated map of an evacuation route. Venkata manages to piece together their next best bet, and the three of them run, being pursued by demons (Mothmen). Caine, with Frost Ace’s help, manages to outrun the Mothmen, but Venkata rolls garbage and is almost caught. A few mothmen get through the exit right on their heels, as the sector is sealed off by a heavy iron door.

The PA system comes to life and a voice informs them to stand clear in case of “leakage”, and all the demons (friend and foe alike) double over in pain, while their contact doesn’t seem very comfortable either. The two player characters themselves though, are fine, although their COMPs seem to be working on overdrive. Caine tries to carry Frost Ace away while Venkata uses this chance to finish off the Mothmen.

They get to a space that they feel safe, and settle down to talk to their contact, who introduces himself as Jack Martin. He isn’t feeling too great after what happened, which Frost Ace calls a “Magnetite Burst”, but does teh best he can to answer their questions.

Ryan is trying to get control over the COMPs, and thereby, the Demon Summoning Program, supposedly there are some crazies out there who are summoning demons and letting them free, like the Mothmen they encountered previously. Further, Ryan certainly doesn’t want his enemies having those COMPs either. Still, Jack says that Caine and Venkata might be able to leverage their talents with the program to work with Ryan if they want to.

He doesn’t know much about the lockdown, nor does he really know much about the cult, but he does recommend that Venkata’s mother might know more, which Ven isn’t too happy about, but he doesn’t have much choice. They say their goodbyes and we call it there.

I was flying by the seat of my pants this session, and I didn’t give the PCs much opportunity to make many decisions, but overall I think it went alright. Looking forward to next week!

Not Quite Dead Yet! A Quick Recap of the Last Month

Wow, it has been almost a month since I posted anything here, that’s my bad. Been a bit hectic during my normal writing time and on top of that I was busy with some fun gaming stuff as well.

The Good Shepherds: We’ll start with the bad news. Since I last posted about the Shepherds a full month and a half ago we have played exactly twice. The second time being on the 26th, during which we finally all came out and admitted that we didn’t feel all that much investment in the game. It’s a solid group, and we wanted to keep playing with each other, so we decided to put the Shepherds away and try a different game for a while. Right now it is looking like we’re going to be playing some version of Mage, I’ll keep you posted.

Devil Survivor: We got 2 sessions in during the last 4 weeks, one I had to miss because of a dental appointment, and the one this week Caine’s player had a scheduling conflict. I’ll include a more detailed recap when I write up our next session, but the short version is that our pair of heroes have armed a rebel group with the demon summoning program and Caine got himself a new demon.

And here is a quick rundown of the fun stuff that kept me from writing about fun stuff.

Triforcebearer: A lot of the writing time I DID have was dedicated to this instead. It is a collection of Zelda races as classes for Luke Crane’s old school dungeon crawl game Torchbearer. It was a pretty fun exercise making them (even if a good chunk of the class abilities are just lifts from existing classes), not to mention I am happy I actually FINISHED a homebrew, instead of just stopping at the half-baked idea stage. I haven’t got a chance to playtest them yet, but I hope to do so in the future if I get a chance.

Video Games: Probably really my primary hobby, even if I blog about RPGs more often. The fact that you don’t have to schedule play time with several other busy people contributes to that a bit, I’d say. Eitehr way the last month or so has been a sweet time for gaming for me, with some highlights including:

  • Breath of the Wild – Probably an obvious one given the fact I just mentioned my Zelda homebrew above. It’s a high quality game, and the ability of the switch to play it on the go is pretty neat as well. I still actually have like 10 shrines left to get before I get all of them. Might not be my favorite Zelda game of all time, but it is really close.
  • Nier: Automata – Picked this up after hearing some really good things about it, and was not disappointed. is solid in both the story and gameplay department, something Platinum Games, does really well. Would highly recommend
  • Persona 5 – Just came out Tuesday, and I have had class and other things keeping me from diving deep into it, but I have been hyped about this game for a while, hopefully it lives up to it.

Gamestorm: Just this last weekend we had our local gaming convention here in the Portland/Vancouver area, focuses on boardgaming and RPGs and all around a good time. When I first went, I’d go with a huge group of friends and we’d just check out games from the game library and hang out together the whole con. As folks got busier and the price has gone up, less of my friends go, and this year it was just down to me and a few that were working the convention. I spent a lot of time in organized games with randoms this year, which has some of its own charms. Some highlights:

  • Twilight Imperium – Game was scheduled to start at 9am. I ended up leaving at 8:30pm. It took a while to set up and tear down (the game owner had been at it an hour before we were scheduled to start), but most of that time was just due to the fact that we were playing with 7 people. I generally don’t much care for “I have to wait for my turn” as a complaint in board-gaming, but it was a lot of downtime in the game, and there were so many people that you couldn’t really interact with them. I think it was worth the time investment, but I think I would prefer to try it with 3 to 5 players instead of 7. At least I get the gamer cred for having finished a game of it!
  • 5e – I wanted to get some D&D in, and they had a lot of slots open. I grabbed the wizard pregen and named him ‘Mizzerio the Great’ and spent my time speaking in the wizard voice. Not exactly a deep character but was fun for a big con game. I generally prefer 4e, but 5e isn’t really a bad edition altogether. Killed some Kobolds and lava demons, and had a good time all around.
  • 13th age – Killed more kobolds, AND a corrupted dragon! I hadn’t played 13th age before but it was pretty neat. Fun fact that in both this game and the 5e game the Kobolds attacked us immediately after my character tried to greet them. Not like you show up to con games expecting to talk your way out of a fight, but the parallels were pretty funny. GM did a good job getting some roleplaying in for everyone considering how many people we had, so that was nice.
  • Shadowrun: Anarchy – tried out Shadowrun’s new “lighter” version. Still a pretty big book, but it is noticeably smaller than the 5e one, so I guess that counts? This session was early morning on the last day of the convention, so there was literally only one other player for this game. Our goal was to kidnap this guy, and drop him off at another corp (who didn’t want him there). The kidnapping went smooth as it could go, we basically convinced the mark to walk right up to our van and my Troll gangleader just put him in a choke hold and off we went. The other place was guarded, and we thought we could try to talk our way past them, but then they asked for my ID (which I did in fact have a fake one, but it was in much smaller print than my characters real, criminal id). I pulled my gun on them and we got in a fight. I ended up arrested, and my partner ran away cause of some bad luck with dice on our parts. Mission failed, but still a fun time.
  • Battlestar Galactica – Got a chance to play this with about 5 people. There were no cylons in the first deal of the cards, so the human side did really well and had practically won by the time the cylons second set of ids were dealt. I and the other brand new player were both dealt Cylon cards at that time, and so we had no real chance. Still a neat game though.
  • Dungeon Busters – A cute tiny game about beating monsters in a dungeon. Play the lowest card and you get points if the group still beats the monster, but lose points if the group loses. Really small but I thought it was fun enough to grab after the convention.

I’ll try to keep you all more up to date in the future!