The Stochastic Game

Ramblings of General Geekery

Actual Play: Realm Of Shadows

After the nice one-shot “The Murderer of Thomas Fell“, my new gaming group decided to continue with the 1930s horror genre and we played through roughly a third of the Realm of Shadows campaign for Call of Cthulhu.

It ended with a near-total-party-kill.

Realm of Shadows

You can read the actual-play for “Kith and Kin” (the first chapter) and “Provender of the God” (the second chapter) over in the RPG section.

One thing that I realize now that I’m writing those things up is how often I feel the need to explain why, as a GM, I’m doing this or that — making the bad guys attack here, adding some clues there, etc. Most of the “actual plays” out there only focus on what happened around the players’ side of the table. But I’m finding it more interesting to also include what’s happening behind the GM’s screen.

This is especially interesting because investigative adventures rely a lot on the GM improvising events and moving around clues to keep the story going, as opposed to, say, a dungeon crawl, where most of the design decisions can be done upfront during the preparation phase, and the improvisation is mostly about adjusting enemies to keep combat balanced.

Adding the GM side of the game makes it easier for me to see what I did right and what I did wrong, and may even get me some constructive feedback on some of those decisions. I’ll try to keep adding things like that in the future reports.


Fanexpo Vancouver 2015

This week-end in Vancouver was FanExpo, with the shopping frenzy, celebrity line-ups, cosplay contests, and friendly comic-book sketching that you’ve come to expect from such conventions, albeit at a smaller scale for our relatively young Vancouver edition.

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Here’s my artist-commission-focused loot this year:

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Nadia (from Kukuburi) by Ramon Perez, Conan by Cary Nord, and Iron Fist by Kaare Andrews. And a nice Thundercats t-shirt because I always need a new t-shirt.

After the jump you can see some cosplay pictures I took, although you can probably see better ones elsewhere on the internet.

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Design For South Paws

Sarah Baird talks about what us left-handed people have put up with all our lives, and all the way back through history:

Day in and day out, though, the biggest hurdle faced by lefties isn’t discrimination — it’s mundane, basic functioning. Almost all facets of society, from ink pens to urban design, are crafted and structured to support, abet and cater to the right-handed majority. For lefties, functioning means a constant, conscious consideration of how they can reverse or modify their natural behavior in order to most effectively move around in the world.

The funny thing is that most of the time, I’m not even thinking about it. I’ll be, say, getting hot air blowing all over me from holding the vacuum-cleaner “the wrong way”, and not really realize that this wouldn’t happen if I was right-handed. It’s just like living in a world that’s slightly less well-designed.

Generally speaking, I’ve probably encountered less hurdles growing up in France than most North-American lefties: spiral notebooks were not used a lot (we had properly bound notebooks) and student chair/tablet combinations were pretty much inexistent.

The last time I really felt the pain of being part of a market minority was when I was shopping for a new computer mouse. Being a palm gripper, I ideally need a so-called “ergonomic” mouse. But those mice are only ever manufactured for right-handed people. The only left-handed ergonomic mouse that I’ve been able to find is the Razer Death-Adder Left-Handed Edition. Many people dislike Razer for their annoying configuration software but I figured I still needed to vote with my money. And, you know, I needed a mouse.

Death-Adder

As expected, the configuration software is annoying, but the mouse is really nice.


Piecrust 2 Documentation Preview

I’ve been quite silent for the past few weeks because I’ve been mostly working on the PieCrust 2 documentation website — a lot of time spent writing stuff, trying out different layouts, figuring out how to organize the information, and coding the infrastructure tools that will generate separate documentations for each release.

Screenshot

Now at least I’ve got half of something to show, in case some of you want to provide feeback or — gasp — help! Head over to the PieCrust 2 documentation preview to see it in all its work-in-progress glory!

At this point, it’s only about a third done, so there’s probably another few weeks of work. But it’s interesting how writing documentation forces you to polish a product. This is not new — it’s really a variation of README-driven development — but that’s why it’s taking a long time: a good chunk of the documentation writing time is looking at what I just wrote, thinking that it’s completely stupid, writing what it should be like, and then fixing the code so it does exactly that.

Anyway, back to writing…


Actual Play: The Murderer Of Thomas Fell

To celebrate 2015 (happy new year!) I’m starting a new section on this website: actual play write-ups of RPG games. I got back into gaming a few months ago, GM’ing a few Call/Trail of Cthulhu games.

The Murderer of Thomas Fell

The first one is “The Murderer of Thomas Fell“, a simple, one-shot adventure that acted as an introductory adventure to my new group of players. If you’re the kind of person that reads actual-plays, or if you plan on running that adventure, you can head over here.