Thursday, January 29, 2015

Promethean, late again, dammit

In my defense, I'm busy as hell this week.

So! Last time, the characters were leaving lunch with Devon Parker. They'd made arrangements to go to a Cubs game together, mostly at Feather's prompting (Feather is all about Community, and she wanted to show the characters what she was talking about). So they got bleacher seats, and watched people a bit.

Matt saw a woman in a boxed seat that he thought he recognized. He wandered around a bit, and she spotted him, and thought he was James Canaday (the actor who previously used his body). He wasn't, of course, so they just chatted a bit, and parted ways.

Avalon noted a drunk man having a great time; dancing and otherwise being loud and exuberant. She talked with the throng about people being drunk, and wondered if that was an option for her. Feather said it might be, but ball park beer wasn't the way to find out (it was too expensive, for one).

Grimm just missed a foul ball, but it fell down into the park, a few feet away from him.

Enoch noted Avalon and Grimm on the kiss-cam, and the throng razzed them until they smooched. The crowd cheered.

Feather did the wave, and at least some of the throng participated.

When the game let out, they shuffled out of Wrigley (Feather having regained Willpower through her Elpis of Community), and split up for the night. Matt, feeling his Torment (Uncertainty) building, decided to wander. Avalon had a date with Emil Handley, the artist, in his room at the Drake. Feather decided to go down into the subway tunnels and leave a note for Max Maury, and Enoch and Grimm joined her.

Avalon's Date: Avalon got into the suite at the Drake, and found that Emil had put sheets up and was painting, messily. He was also fairly high. He invited her to put on a smock and start painting. He looked at her work, and said that while her technique was pretty amazing (there's pointillism and then there's Avalon), he said she was painting things, not feelings or ideas. She wanted to know how to get away from that. His advice; mescaline. She wound up taking a lot, and eventually it hit her all at once (she finally failed the roll and took a Beat for a dramatic failure). Avalon didn't remember much of the following couple of hours, just that everything was colors. And then she was finished, and there was a painting there, something abstract that she didn't recognize.

Emil asked her about it, and she wasn't sure what it was...and then he turned it upside down, and there was Ysolde's face. Emil asked if she would sell that painting, and Avalon said she probably wouldn't sell it, but might gift it. Selling it would cheapen it, but giving it would be love. Emil offered her the bathtub to wash off the paint.

The Subway: Grimm, Feather, and Enoch went down into the tunnels, and found a gargoyle. Feather handed him the note for Max, and he scampered off into the dark. Grimm used the Chimera Distillation to turn into a rat and followed, stealthily keeping his distance, crawling through rooms with skeletal bodies, until they reached the entrance to the Undercity. Max peeled himself out of the wall, read the note, and then touched it and sniffed it. He hissed, and thousands of rats appeared, sitting in front of him. Grimm followed suit, and watched. Max asked the assembled rats (obviously aware that one of them wasn't a rat) if someone was there, in the Undercity looking for answers in the dark. Grimm did not reveal himself, but when Max dismissed the rats, he fled back to the others, and told them what he'd seen.

This, conveniently, fulfilled the milestone of Track a target without being seen, then report back to another party, which is also his milestone for the Stalker Role. He decided to switch to the Sage Role, and finish out Cuprum (which means I need a milestone for that before next session; mental note).

Matt's Wandering: Matt went wandering, and found an old, burned-out house. He thought about going in, then went back to the shelter, then changed his mind (when the player realized that I was only going to dangle so many hooks in front of his face before I switch over to the players that were biting). He entered the house, and realized that the place had been struck by lightning multiple times. He found a stone staircase and headed down, and found chains and shackles. He also found a man in the corner, completely unresponsive. He tried to rouse the guy, and heard people coming down the stairs. "He's in the k-hole, yo" one of them said. Matt tried to ask what that meant, and the dude punched him in the face.

Matt fought back, but these guys were flying on something and of course they had him outnumbered. He considered dropping back into Stannum (and thus getting immediate access to the Arc Alembic), but chose instead to jack his Strength up with Pyros. He grabbed a length of chain, wrapped it around his hand, and punched one, bursting his nose. One of the other guys pulled a knife and stabbed him, but he's a Promethean, so it didn't slow him. He socked that guy and dislocated his jaw, and they thugs ran off. But Matt had spent all his Pyros (which is a milestone for him)...and his fire went out.

Across the city, the other characters felt Matt's fire fail. Yes, he was still alive, but his Azoth guttered. Avalon got dressed and left Emil, explaining she had something to do. She called Feather, and Feather used her Unspoken Communication Distillation to find Avalon, and then Matt.

And we left off with the four of them standing in front of that house.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Promethean Notes

Holy cats. So busy. Very frazzle.

Space, space....

....space...

OK!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Board Game: Apples to Apples

The Game: Apples to Apples
The Publisher: Originally Out of the Box, now Mattel
Time: Depends how many players; 20 minutes to an hour
Players: Me, +Michelle Lyons-McFarland+Cheyenne Rae Grimes+Jonathan McFarland, Teagan, Cael, Morgan Lesch


Game Play: Simple enough. Everyone gets seven red cards, which have nouns on them: Charging Rhinos, JFK, Rain, Rust, Worms, My Prom (where "my" refers to the person taking the current turn). When it's your turn, you draw a green card (which has an adjective: Scary, Weird, etc.). Everyone picks a red card that exemplifies that adjective, and the judge for that turn determines which card (not knowing whose is whose) wins. The judge gives the green card to the winner, which acts as the score.

Lack of pop culture historical knowledge is somethings a hindrance to Cael. 
The judge can use whatever criteria they want to choose a card; strictly speaking you aren't supposed to pick antonyms, but whatever. Anyway, I think the official rules say you go until someone has five green cards, but that can take forever. We usually go X rounds and then highest score wins.

Teagan wins the "Cute" card. Cheyenne wins "Sno-cone."
Opinions: I like Apples to Apples well enough, but I've played with people who are just fucking tedious to play with. They either use the most slavishly literal methods of choosing cards, or they pick things based on the weirdest criteria. Weird is fine, but if you're picking "Ebola" for "Cute," something is wrong.

Fortunately, this game wasn't like that, though it was interesting how many cards Cael won by just randomly picking a red card, since he often didn't know who the people on the cards were.

It's a good game to get to know people, and a lot less likely to cause fistfights than its nasty clone, Cards Against Humanity (which I have not played and have no interest in playing), but once you do get to know people, you know their trumps. "Pigs" is one of mine.

What? Pigs are funny.

Keep? Sure.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Movie #299: Attack the Block

Attack the Block is a sci-fi horror movie starring John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, Franz Drameh, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway, and Nick Frost.

On Guy Fawkes' Day, a gang of kids from "the Ends," a fictional south London block, are roaming their neighborhood making trouble. They mug a nurse named Sam (Whittaker), and shortly thereafter what seems to be a meteor flattens a car nearby. They investigate, and their leader, Moses (Boyega) is attacked by a small but vicious alien creature.

They follow it and kick it to death, and stow it in the armor "weed room" of their friend Ron (Frost) and drug dealer Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter). But then more aliens land...and these aliens are gorilla-sized and full of nasty teeth.

The kids fight back as best they can, fall back into the building, and lose a couple of their number. They eventually figure it out; the first thing they killed was a female leave a scent trail for the larger males to follow.

I really enjoyed this movie. It's a well-done horror movie; there are some scenes with some nice tension, and the monsters are a nice mix between monstrous and alien. The protagonists are kids, and that's relevant to me, and the movie doesn't really pull punches with making the risk real - two of the kids die, and we don't have the "out" of having the kids that die be kids that were especially violent to Sam. Moses has a few poignant moments (he theorizes that the government sent these monsters in to kill black boys, since they weren't killing each other fast enough, which in light of current events is somewhat topical), and the Block and the surrounding area is well-realized and, by the end of the movie, familiar. Sam, also, acts as our POV character in some places, a voice of reason in others - she lives in the Block, but she's not from there, and she clearly doesn't get how it works.

But at the same time, "that's how it works here" isn't an out. Moses' friends point our that actions have consequences - Moses is arrested for mugging Sam, and he learns that it was his insistence on killing the first alien that made the rest of them attack.

All in all, good stuff, one of the better recent horror movies I've seen.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next Up: Idiocracy

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pro-freaking-methean

Upon reflection on Monday's game, two things are apparent.

First, I need to do the write-up on Tuesday. No fuckin' about. 

Second, I need to make shit happen in this story. There's a lot of cool stuff going on under the scenes, but this particular group is not the most pro-active in the world, and I know that, so it's time to have ninjas attack. 

Anyway! Last time was quite a while ago, and ended with the characters meeting up with the vampiric Prince of Chicago. They stated heading back to the apartment, but then figured that if they were being followed by vampiric agents (because they don't trust vampires, which is both a reasonable position and a change from the last time I ran Promethean), then maybe they should sleep in different areas. Enoch and Feather headed back to the apartment, while Matt hit up a church shelter and Grimm got a cheap motel room. Avalon broke into the Wrigley building and slept up in the clock tower, soaking up some sweet, sweet Pyros. 

At the apartment, Feather made use of her Autonomic Control Distillation to stay awake all night. She watched the door, and in the middle of the night heard something rattling. She lurked by the door, and it opened, but nothing happened - perhaps whatever had been trying to break in had heard her? 

In the morning, Feather informed Enoch of the events, and the throng met back up at a diner to plan their day. 

Grimm wanted to go find a garage and see if he could learn about fixing cars. Matt figured he'd head to the Pier and mingle a bit. Avalon wanted to go to the museum and meet Emil Handley, the artist. Enoch, of course, needed to make a lunch day with Devon Parker. Feather, trying to embrace her intended Role as Bodyguard, figured she'd guard one of the others, and chose Enoch. 

Matt went to the Pier and wandered amongst the teeming masses of humanity. He heard yells and saw a boy running with a purse, chased by a security guard. He tackled the kid and knocked him down, and gave the purse back to its owner. The kid was dirty and ragged, the woman clean and well-off.

Grimm found a garage that looked busy and understaffed. The owner agreed to show him some things if he could keep up. He managed, eventually, to learn a few things and buy a dot of Crafts (and fulfill an Aspiration of learning to fix a car), but it was a hard-fought battle; he failed a bunch of rolls and got a lot of oil in the face.

Avalon met Emil, the artist, and they chatted about techniques and she bought one of his prints. He revealed his inspiration - mescaline. He offered to show her later that night, and she agreed to meet him.

Enoch called Parker's secretary and both got added to the reservation at a high-end restaurant. Parker also sent a car for them. They arrived, got seated (with some looks, since Feather wasn't dressed appropriately), and talked with Parker. Once he ascertained that Feather knew something about alchemy, he proceeded to completely ignore her, but talked to Enoch about the Pristine Order, Charles Rivers, and the strange formulae that he had made.

Now, Enoch knew that this formula was to do alchemical preparations without Vitriol, but Parker didn't seem to know that term. Instead, he impressed upon Enoch the value of joining up, not just for the wealth and power that alchemy promised, but the ability to talk with other, like-minded and similarly educated folks.

During all this, Feather took note of his bodyguards, sitting at another table. At one point, a waiter took their glasses, and the bodyguard got up and followed the waiter. Feather followed him and watched as he paid off the waiter and took the glasses, presumably to run fingerprints.

The lunch ended, and Enoch said he'd think about joining - Parker invited him to join him as his club later. Feather, once they were outside, told him about the glasses. What would happen if they ran the Prometheans' prints? Neither were sure - they didn't know what these bodies had done pre-Divine Fire.

Next time, perhaps we'll find out. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Board Game: Cyclades

We were supposed to play Spark the other night, but schedules conflicted and we wound up playing a board game instead.

The Game: Cyclades
The Publisher: Asmodee
Time: An hour, more or less
Players: Me, +Michelle Lyons-McFarland+Cheyenne Rae Grimes+John Mathys+Matthew Karafa

Setting up Greece.
Cyclades has players trying to conquer the Greek island, currying the favor of the gods and building various structures toward making a Metropolis. First player to two Metropoli wins!

Every turn, you get some money based on how many island you own. You can then bid on how much money you want to spend sacrificing to a god of your choice, but other folks can outbid you. Money totals are kept hidden behind a screen, so you can't ever be sure how much money everyone is packing (unless, y'know, you pay close attention to what everyone spends and what they take in).

Different gods have different favors. Poseidon gives you ships and lets you move your fleet.

This Poseidon, though, just brings you shoes. 
Ares gives you troops, Athena gives you philosophers (which can be traded in for a Metropolis, if you get enough of them), Zeus gives you priests, and if you can't manage to bid on anyone else, you can make a sacrifice to Apollo, who doesn't cost anything and gives you more money back.

The Known World.
Into the mix we have monsters. Every turn, a new monster comes out, and during your turn you can "buy" them. They have various effects - some hang around and fight for you (more on that in a moment), some let you move troops or other resources. But the order of the gods changes every turn, so you've got to be aware of what the monsters are and whether you can buy them, and in what order you can act based on what god you bid on .

There's a lot that goes into this game, including battle - troops fight troops, ships fight ships, it works much like Risk. But you win by building (or conquering) Metropolis. Since what you can do on a given turn is limited by what god you can buy, though, what seems to be a forgone conclusion about victory really isn't. We thought John was going to win because he completed a Metropolis first, but then we didn't him build the second one and Matt and Michelle wound up tying for the win.

Our victors, the Thebans and the...Bingy-bangians. 
Opinions: This was actually a lot of fun. It's a game you have to pay attention to - lots of moving parts, and yet once you know the flow it goes very easily. In a less-than-five-player game, you don't get every god every turn, and it would be interesting to see how that changes the dynamic (can't just say "oh, well, I'll bid on Athena next turn" since she might not be there next turn).

The game itself is also really pretty - the troops and ships are little plastic figures, and some of the monsters (the ones that do things on the board) have plastic figures, too.

Look carefully, you'll see the Minotaur on my island in the top right.
Keep? Heck, yes. There's an expansion, too, that I might pick up.

Movie #298: The Island at the Top of the World

The Island at the Top of the World is a Disney film from the year I was born (1974, if you're interested). It's based on a novel by Ian Cameron (not Jules Verne, though it sure feels like it) and stars David Hartman, Donald Sinden, Mako, Jacques Marin, David Gwillim, and Agenta Eckemyr.

We open with Dr. Ivarsson (Hartman) being recruited by Sir Anthony Ross (Sinden) to join an expedition to find his missing son, Donald (Gwillim). Turns out Donald jumped on the chance to go on an expedition to find the titular island, but then he disappeared. Ivarsson, an archaeologist, is too intrigued to say no, so they set off in a dirigible piloted by Captain Brieux (Marin), and they're off!

They arrive in the Arctic Circle, and find a fort with a bunch of "Eskimos," including Donald's friend Oomilak (Mako), who says he was taken by evil spirits. They set off again in the airship (after tricking poor Oomilak aboard), and Oomilak, Ross, and Ivarsson get dumped into a strange paradise inhabited by Vikings.

Yeah, it's pretty weird.

So they find Donald and his lady-love, a local woman named Freya (Eckemyr), and they go about escaping, and then they drift back, and then they escape again but Ivarsson stays behind because he gets to observe history, because the Vikings haven't really progressed at all in 1200 years.

There are some good points to the movie. I like how Ross is ruthless in his quest to rescue his adult son, and the history between them is never really dwelt on, but obviously important enough to both of them that they need to hash it out. I like that Ross immediately approves of his son's girlfriend and is willing to stay in Viking-land to take his place so they can leave. In general the characters are capable and, if not entirely perfect, then relatable. There are no female characters worth talking about; Freya gets some lines and scenes, but she's mostly just Girlfriend, so that's a thing. Likewise, Oomilak is largely played for laughs, but Mako does a good job of having his fear and hurt upon being lured onto the airship come through.

The movie ends once, and then goes on for another 25 minutes, so that's kind of blah. But in general, it's a light and mostly harmless, and rather dated, kids' adventure movie. And my kids seemed to enjoy it, so that's cool.

My Grade: B
Rewatch Value: Low

Next up: Attack the Block