Monday, May 30, 2016

Character Creation: Unwritten

Got a little time before my players get here to play Chill, chili's in the crock pot, why not?

The Game: Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of MYST and Beyond
The Publisher: Inkworks Productions
Degree of Familiarity: Some. I've run it once, and it uses Fate, which I'm pretty familiar with.
Books Required: Just the one.

I played MYST once years ago, but there's a whole expanded universe that I'm now, like, slightly more familiar with. I just wrote a review of the game for RPG.net, and it'll be up in a couple of days, but it's pretty favorable - I like this game a lot.

Now, if we were actually playing a game of Unwritten, I would be creating a whole framework with my other players. Since it's just me, however, I'll just assume the same framework that we used when we played the game recently (though not necessarily the stuff specific to what we did). In order to make a character, I start, as usual, with a concept.

Well, if I were playing this game, I'd want to spend my time going through different Ages and chronicling things. Rather than playing an naturalist, though, I think I want to play someone who's obsessed with Yeesha (one of the important figures of the setting; she could do things with Writing that no one else could). My character is writing The Chronicle of Yeesha, and is convinced that by following her journey through a particular set of Ages, he can unlock her messianic message for the world. He's also superstitious about learning any Writing - he's happy to use Linking Books, but he doesn't believe he's worthy to go making Descriptive Books himself (that, I think, would be a fun character arc).

So my High Concept is "Chronicler of Yeesha." His name is Leslie Ruck.

Now I do my Journey. This would involve picking two prompts from a "steps along your path" list (formative experiences) and two from a "crossing paths" list (dealing with other PCs), but given that I have no PCs, I'll just have to make up other characters, I s'pose. And then there's an Aspect attached to each one.

Well, for the my steps bits, the obvious one is that he believes, above all else, that Yeesha can save the world. He believes that Yeesha's journey throughout the Ages was a pilgrimage, but he also believes that figuring out where she ended up won't help - the journey is just as important. I think this all came about the first time he went adventuring in an Age. He Linked into an Age called Hystek; it was dark and underground and at first he thought he was still in D'ni somewhere. And then he found it - a huge mural, carved (and signed!) by Yeesha. He copied it into his book, and that's what he references whenever he gets stuck. I think that book makes for a decent Aspect, so I'll take "My Magnum Opus, the Chronicle" as my first Journey Aspect.

Since I want Leslie to be experienced and enthused about jumping from Age to Age, I'll describe another Age he visited and what happened there. He visited an Age called Plateau, which, when he got there, was just a featureless expanse - no puzzles, no life, no nothing. And then he kept walking, for days and days, and reached the edge. The bit that he Linked to was the dead center of an immense plateau (hence the name), and over the edge was a pulley and lift that lowered him down into a lush jungle with amazing, vibrant plant life and plentiful food. This taught Leslie that if someone went to the trouble of making a Linking Book, there's something there to see. The Aspect is "Every Age Has Wonders."

Now I need a couple more Aspects. I could make up other characters to have Leslie have crossed paths with, but eh. I have a pretty good sense of his personality.

Well, he's definitely fit and clever, because he goes traipsing off into Ages alone. And he was willing to walk for days rather than Linking home, so he's dedicated as heck. I'll take Just A Little Further to represent his stamina and perseverance. Finally, I picture Leslie as being rootless. He owns very little, seldom stays in one place for long, and though he returns to D'ni often, it's mostly just to plot his next move. I'll make that Aspect You Own Nothing You Can't Carry.

Now, Skills! I get one at Great, two at Good, three at Fair, and four at Adequate. Well, Surveying is unquestionably my Great Skill. My Goods are Athletics and...hmm. My gut says Survival. That's probably wise.

My Fairs are Research (gotta learn about those Ages first!), Rapport (he's personable) and Craft. His Adequates are Empathy, Engineering, Will, and Notice.

Now, stunts. I get three, unless I want to lower my Refresh, which I don't.

Well, I know I want a stunt to boost my Research with regards to Yeesha's journey. So I'll call it Endless Search: I get +2 to Research using a Discovery action about an Age that shows up in the Chronicle.

I'll make one up called Trust the Journey: If I spend a Fate point to declare a Yeesha-related detail about a scene, I get a +1 to Create an Advantage based on it.

And finally, I am Extremely Dedicated: I get a +2 to oppose with Will if someone is trying to talk me out of going to an Age or something else related to my quest.

And I think that's it, actually.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Notes Black Agents

As usual, don't go readin' this if you're playin' this. Otherwise the cicadas will get you.

Look closer.
Last time, the characters made to Belgrade and the Tesla museum, which is exciting. And now, the jump break.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Unwritten, now written

Last night we played Unwritten. I think it went pretty well, and since I'm too restless and bored to do the work I should be doing, I'm-a do the write-up.

The characters start out doing their usual things: Principessa is skipping stones in the upside-down water in the unexplored area. Nick is taking readings on his equipment near the border, while Terra is sneaking around in places she oughtn't be. Eleni is following a mafia tough, while Saron is delivering a book (not a Book) to a patron.

And then a huge, powerful wind kicks up out of the unexplored version. Everyone manages to take cover except Saron; the wind blows the book right out of her hands. Principessa, thinking quickly, grabs a cable and flies up like a kite, catching the book. She returns it, and Saron gives her a pair of gloves in thanks. She also notices that the wind kicked up some residue that isn't native to the cavern - in fact, it looks like the dirt from Vilette, an Age marked by high winds and a cyclical 400-year destruction of civilization. She brings this to Nick, who analyzes the dirt and concurs. Nick, of course, is fascinated - weather systems from other Ages don't just pop up. He moves to cordon off the area and go exploring, but then Walleye, Principessa's mafia handler, warns him that he should just stay away.

Nick, however, is too experienced and dedicated an explorer to be dissuaded, so he decides he'll just go in anyway. Principessa tags along, concerned for his safety, and Saron goes, too, to take notes.

Meanwhile, Terra and Eleni, in the unexplored area from the other direction, meet up. The two groups eventually meet up with a tunnel opening up in a deep pit between them. Terra, after a quick compel to Leap Before You Look, tries to jump the pit, and fails...but she inverts and "falls" up, landing on the ceiling.

A little experimentation later, the characters realize that gravity inverts itself in the pit. Nick sinks pitons and starts climbing "up" into the pit (down?), and Terra uses her grapple gun and just zooms by him. At the bottom, the characters realize a couple of things. First, there are five tunnels, roughly equidistant from each other, leading back into the wall. Second, dozens of Linking Books are set into the floor, Linking Pages up.

With some trials and tribulations, the other characters make it to the bottom (top?) of the pit. Nick climbs down a tunnel and finds a lever, which he pulls. Half the books disappear. Eleni climbs into another tunnel, finds another lever, and gets a similar result (but with the other books). Saron notes that the books seem roughly divided into Ages with running water and ages with deserts or otherwise high heat. The other tunnels contain levers, but when flipped individually they cause hideous grinding sounds, as though immense gears were about to strip.

When those three levers are flipped together, though, the gravity rights itself (OOF). Now able to walk on the bottom of the pit, the characters check out the books. Saron recognizes some of the Ages depicted - Vilette, the Pearlescent Aeon, and others that the players came up with originally (and some that they didn't, of course).

At this point we used the deduction system to figure out the answer to the big question: "What is the purpose of this mechanism?" After a few rounds of deduction, they realized that this place was a D'ni cleansing apparatus; it could activate water and heat. As a side effect, many of the places the books link to were good for dumping bodies, which might be why the mafia was so interested...

At this point, Nick started trying to chisel out a Book. Saron objected, strenuously - the Archivists needed to document this and make sure that they weren't destroying some expensive bit of history. Nick agreed, but Terra didn't, and popped one out with a crowbar. She touched the screen, and pop, she disappeared. She was in Vilette.

Nick, concerned for her safety, Linked after her. The others looked at each other, shrugged, and followed. If nothing else, they were pretty sure Nick had a Linking Book to get back.

Noodles, Please

Lucy reached for the glass of water. Her hand stopped about halfway there. Dammit. She felt her breath catch in her throat, and she tried to breathe deep so that she wouldn't cry again. She hated it when her son saw her cry.

Bam-Bam was in the kitchen making dinner. She still thought of him as "Bam-Bam," but he'd stopped letting her call him that. He wanted to go by "Abe", which Lucy hated. To her it sounded like an old man's name. It made her think of Abraham Lincoln. What didn't help was that her brother had started calling her son "Honest Abe," which Bam-Bam loved for some stupid reason.

She reached for the water, and her hand stopped. She told her hand what to do, trying to imagine nerves firing and electricity jumping through her muscles. Nothing. "Goddammit," she whispered, more to test to see if she could speak than anything.

Bam-Bam came out of the kitchen. He was wearing the apron his uncle had bought him for his birthday. His uncle was a chef, and Bam-Bam thought that was the most amazing thing. "How you feeling, Mama?"

"Good," she said.

"You need more water or anything?"

Lucy shook her head. "I'm OK."

Bam-Bam looked back into the kitchen to check the sauce; it was simmering, but he could leave it a minute. He walked across the apartment to the table and sat down with his mother. The chair was too high and his feet didn't touch the floor, but he didn't mind. "Mama, you haven't drank any. You sure you're doing good?"

Lucy took another deep breath. "Yeah, baby. I just...I'm tired. My muscles are doing the weird thing again."

Bam-Bam nodded carefully. "I could help you." The sentence was quiet, matter-of-fact, and heavy.

"Oh, baby." She took his hand. It was small, but already had scars and burns like her brother's. Perils of cooking. "Baby, I don't want you to do that. What if the Agency-"

"They told me I could use my discretion." Bam-Bam stood up. "They told me, if it's an emergency, like if the invaders are about to kill someone or take someone or hurt someone, and I can stop them if I go forward, then I'm allowed to."

Lucy nearly started to cry, but stifled it enough that it just sounded like a cough. "But baby, they already hurt me. You can't help me now, they hurt my brain, and sometimes it's just like this now."

Bam-Bam sat back down. He knew she was right. The damage was done, and it wasn't bad, but it was bad enough. Sometimes Mama can't talk. Sometimes she can't move. His friend Leah said it was like when you streamed a video and the connection was bad. Sometimes it got jumbled, sometimes it stopped altogether until the system picked up again. All you could do was wait it out.

"Hey," she said. "You know what you could do? You could finish making us dinner, because I'm real hungry."

He smiled. "Ok. You want noodles or rice? This sauce is good on either."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Game Prep: Unwritten

I'm running Unwritten tonight. This was something I was running to review (I run games written/produced other other IGDN members and then review them), and normally that's just a one-shot, but we kinda ran out of time after chargen and I didn't want to rush. So!

If you're playing tonight, of course, don't read this.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Feng Shui: Into the Nethers!

So! Last night was Feng Shui. Kind of a truncated session, since Michelle wasn't feeling well, but still good. Yeah, still good. #stitch

Last time, the characters had meditated and claimed a feng shui site, and therefore got their first advancement. This led to Awesomeing Up, and discovering that the Feng Shui rulebook has a bunch of errors with regards to schticks, in the Gene Freak particularly. But having figured that out, on we went!

The characters were roused by their phones (well, three of them: Johnny, Tang, and Celeste). They got a message from Sylvan Master that read HHHEEEELLLLLPPPP!!!! Tang got on the computer and backtraced the message (that's totally a thing), and they all jumped in the van and followed the signal. It led to an old, dilapidated building. Johnny, being Johnny, charged in...and vanished with a blue crackle.

The others followed, and found themselves in a series of stone tunnels. They discovered they had wifi service, on a network called "IKTV," so they followed the bars, and came across a tall building that looked like a giant cable modem, surrounded by giant screens played cat videos. They walked around it and saw a door, and Celeste tried to sneak up to it, cop-style. But then the lights went on and people on top of it started shooting rockets at them.

They fought off the guards, but then the screens changed and showed two women, twins, who introduced themselves as Laurel and Columbia Towson. They had come to this place - the Netherworld - and started their own broadcasting station, IKTV. The Dragons found this a little weird, but whatever.

The twins invited them up ("just don't kill any more of our ickies") and talked to them about some of the various factions in the Chi War, and explained the junctures. They said that Sylvan Master had tried to get into the servers, and they trapped him on a floppy disk, but as long as he wasn't trying to censor them, it was all good. As they talked, one of the screens in the office showed footage of what looked like a work camp staffed mostly with Chinese folks; Celeste identified it as Utah in 1860-some, near the completion of the trans-continental railroad.

And then Do saw someone in the crowd that he recognized - the sorcerer they knew as Leon. The group figured that Leon might be there doing some Chi War related badness, but the twins told them that these "pop-up junctures" were unstable, sometimes only staying open for a short time. They offered to show the Dragons to a portal to take them there, however, and the Dragons agreed.

Some ickies led them to the portal, and they emerged from a cave up the side of a mountain. Down in the valley, they saw a stagecoach racing along, as masked men on horses approached. It seems their skills are needed...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Game Prep: Feng Shui

Meant to do this yesterday and then got completely sidetracked by life and so forth, so I'ma do this now.

RARRR SCARY MONSTER.

Last time, there was a fight (duh), the characters lost one PC but gained a new one, and then had visions. Said visions:

  • Bai had a vision of his sister, meditating with him in a garden in his own time, the chi war over. 
  • Celeste saw her sister, surrounded by glowing, magical mandalas.
  • Do saw Leon attacking him, just before he lost his memory!
  • Tang saw himself driving with his partner in the future, before said partner had died, and looking at a sketchbook detailing the chi war - had his partner been a Dragon?
  • Johnny saw his mother in the future, a survivor of the C-Bomb, fighting in the chi war.
And now, the notes you shouldn't read.