An Ode to the O’Declan’s Brewing Company

In the midst of my game-fast, I’m thinking about games past, old friends, long gone.

Let’s be fair, they aren’t that far gone.  Pete is IMing me right now and Aaron is coming over this weekend to watch UFC 145 but not having a solid excuse to sit down with them and visit fictional places makes it feel like they are far gone.

O’Declan’s Brewing Company was a strange and amazing game based in the Mieville-inspired MoBu City. The rhythm of the campaign was somewhere between Perdido Street Station and Breaking Bad. It was about two dwarves who ran a brewing company in a mad, magical city with newly immigrated giant spiders, wolves coming in from out in the country, dwarves bringing their crafts and wares, orcs and roden (rat people) living in the under-city and a fading memory of elves.

Pete and Aaron made really brave, interesting choices with their characters that made the game sing.

Pete made his character incredibly talented and quite flawed but not broken. Cormac O’Declan was a roaring drunk artisan of fine dwarven nog. Cormac was a great artist but the other interesting choice Pete made was in his relationships. He used the MoBu City setting we created together to its fullest and had relationships with the head of the spider community.  Suddenly, he had a reason to go share nog with a giant orb weaver (the orb weaver would dip bits of web into the nog and suck on it, rather than drink).

Aaron made Nolan Quinn, who was a huge departure from Aaron’s usual paragon bad-asses; Nolan was an accountant with a gambling habit. Not only that but Aaron made a straight man to Pete’s roaring drunk artist.

The relationship between these business partners was glorious. The rhythm of the game was odd. We weren’t anywhere near the quasi-Tolkien, dungeon crawling of our Forgotten Realms game. Nolan Quinn was shot in the gut the first session and was laid up for close to a year. Violence was a huge decision as these characters were not made for violence; they were normal guys, thrown into an a violent city straining against conflicting species and cultures.

I miss that game like hell; it might be my favorite campaign in recent years.  I wish like hell we had gotten another few dozen sessions into it, to see what became of the gambler and the drunk, the accountant and the brewer, two guys trying to make their way in the big city.

I raise my nog, nectar of the gods, to the sky, spill a bit on the soil and toast the cool things we made up together that have instilled this strong desire to go back and visit them again.

State of the Table: Autumn 2011 Edition

It has been a late summer of transitions and the gaming reflects that.

My buddy, Pete moved out and that has rearranged the games I was in with him.

The O’Declan Brewing Company (Burning Wheel): If we pick this game up again, it’ll be when Pete is good and situated and me and Aaron find a night when we can head up north to get our games on.  From talking to Aaron, I have a feeling we might pick up something else; we might be able to get Aaron to GM something for me and Pete, which would be a hoot.

But I also really want to play a few more sessions with the O.B.C.  At the end of our last session, they paid a mercenary company to skulk into town and murder their enemies.  I want to play through the consequences of that, dammit.

The Hudson River Valley (Apocalypse World): This summer’s weekend scheduling made gaming with these folks all but impossible, so we haven’t gamed in months.  But we’re picking it up this Saturday.  I’m cooking up letters to the players that lead us into play five years after our last game.

Lights of Hoover:  Dammit, but I think this game is a fatal casualty of Pete moving out.  I’m not sure that any of us have the will to start it up without him here.

Cyberpunk Lunches: The half-hour format was rough but I think we were making it work.  A few weeks of consistent summer traveling put the kibosh on this one.  I’m beginning to think that Autumn and Spring are my gaming seasons.  Summer travels and the winter holidays tend to muss up gaming the other half of the year.

Lady Blackbird and then what?: Continuing with our house game tradition, we’re getting together with my housemates and a few friends to consider a Thursday night game.  Our first night will be Lady Blackbird and then we’ll figure it out from there.  I’m hungering for a campaign of Dogs in the Vineyard until I leave town but we’ll see…might be Dungeon World or somethin’ else.

The Surprising Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm:  I’m shocked at how much I am enjoying playing this play-by-post with Daniel.  During an online conversation about pbp someone had taught em the valuable lesson that the pace is glacial and they were right.  But there are advantages to that.  I can peruse books, character histories,  look over beliefs and take my sweet time.  That has been good fun and it has me writing regularly, which is a nice start for other things.

And medium of the game aside, Daniel has made this romantic, stuck-between-worlds character who has really charmed me.  Yeah, he is a fugitive from junior high daydreaming but there is passion in those daydreams and the burning up process has left its mark, veering it off from perfect reinventions.  I think that the restrictions of the lifepaths has helped and Daniel has embraced that, making the tough choices necessary to make this version of the character, rather than trying to hold on to an ideal version.  Burning Wheel demanded that he let some parts go and allowed him to accentuate other bits and its led to interesting choices.

And how about you?  How were your summer games and what is your autumn looking like?

Tangled Webs and Spilled Beer

Death of a Handmaiden:

World-breaker has 7 legs, a big under-nester who is on the outs since she destroyed a world, rendering it useless for the Matron Mother. By attempting to weaken the world through political manipulation, she precipitated an arcane apocalypse, causing a lush gem to become a sand-swept husk. Her political machinations were unusually subtle for the Matron’s forces and was a revolutionary method for an army known for swarming over walls and surprising/eating its enemies.

“Your failure on Athas still burns in the Matron’s heart, World-Breaker.”


The Many Failures of the O.B.C.:

I can’t tell you how many times this happened last night:

  1. Failed roll but there are some 6’s.
  2. They blow a Fate Artha
  3. Get a little closer.
  4. Comes down to one more die to roll.
  5. Nope, failed.

State of the Gaming Table: Summer ’11

Resumes are being hurtled at New York City until something sticks and I can join my lady-friend in the City that Never Sleeps.  Every game feels like it could be the last or could keep on keepin’ on for a good long while.

Burning Wheel, O’Declan Brewing Company: In which two dwarves, a gambler and a drunk, run a brewing company in MoBu City.

I love this game something terrible.  Dwarves are my favorite stock in Burning Wheel and I love the way MoBu City takes all of the stocks and tosses them into close quarters so that their Tolkien lineage is blurred with a pinch of potent New Crobuzon spice.  The whole rhythm of this game feels odd to me and I dig it.

Also, it is great to be back at weekly gaming with Aaron and Pete.  We were having real trouble finding momentum and ending the Forgotten Realms point at our fine stopping point and moving on helped, as did our schedules changing for the better.


Apocalypse World, Just Outside the City: In which mayhem and commerce are perpetrated in the Hudson River Valley.

Knowing that 2011 would be my last year in Ithaca, I wanted to get together and game with some friends I hadn’t seen regularly and hadn’t gamed with in a while.  It has been splendid to both see them again and raise a fictional ruckus alongside them.


Apocalypse World, Lights of Hoover: In which a doc, his ambulance driver and a psychic girl find their place in Hoover.

Our roommate game has been a victim of our hectic schedules and a real desire to only play when all four of us are at the table but when we do the game is amazing.  The group doesn’t have a go-to playbook for violence.  No Battlebabe, Gunlugger nor Chopper to shoot mofo’s in the head and it has led to an interesting campaign that is a fascinating contrast to the bullets in brains that has defined the Hudson River Valley.  The game’s still brutal but it doesn’t feel like a bulletocracy.


Houses of the Blooded, The Thousand Dooms of the Blood-smith: In which a young ven smith artisan schemes and crafts.

If there were 14 days in a week, I’d have a HotB game going with Pete and Aaron and probably the rest of my roommates.  As it was, I got a hankering to see chargen in action and hoped that it would become a game me and Pete could drag out when we both found ourselves up late at night.  Despite day-dreaming about the character a bit, we haven’t actually sat down to play yet.  This could have something to do with Pete being a hard-working single-dad and me being out of the house a whole lot.


Between conducting a long distance relationship, finishing my masters degree and just the lives of busy gamers with careers, school and kids the games have been sporadic.  It looks like there are 3 weekly games going but the Hudson River Valley game is more monthly than weekly and even our O’Declan brew is only sipped bi-weekly or so, though we’ve had a solid weekly run, which is nice.

Ending these games is going to be a sad thing; I’ll save my maudlin crap for when I depart.

What is on your summer gaming table?

The O’Declan Debate

From the thread:

They found an abandoned church of some extinct carpenter-god (Dead-god is a district of the city, all abandoned temples, mosques and churches). They watched for a while, watching the comings and goings. Dead-god is where the fading aristocracy mostly live. They watched squires buying for their knights, ladies in waiting buying for their ladies, knights buying for themselves, and so on. This was a higher end redcap dealer and once you knew what you were looking for, it was obvious the traffic in and out that drugs were being sold.