When old posts jump into the RSS feed.

When I brought my livejournal blog over to wordpress, I must’ve hit a button three times or something because many of the comments in the old threads come up 3 and 4 times.  So, sometimes I go back and edit the comments, not deleting anything but trimming it down so that the comments that are repeated 4 times are in the comments just once.

That is why Kid Pulp Heroes is back in the feed, back from history.

“…a good RPG will talk back.”

Wrote something over at Story Games, on the thread, Keys, aspects, beliefs, etc. – are they really all that? that I wanted to save here and present for further discussion if the rest of you folks who decided not to take the geek pilgrimage this year:

There was an interview with Jared and Luke on a podcast recently and one of them said something really interesting. He said something about, “you can role-play or talk in funny voices with any type of game but a good RPG will talk back.”

Aspects, Beliefs, Keys are more than just incentives, more than just positive reinforcement for role-playing. They are a tool for communication, a way to let everyone at the table know what you want the game to be about, what kind of situations and choices you are looking for at the table. These things start a conversation. These things make that conversation as much a part of the game as a hit point, they put that conversation on the character sheet.

I am reminded one of the Evil Hat crew, I think, who said something like, “The character sheet should be a love letter to the GM.” But it is more than a letter, it is a dialog, a conversation that the mechanics can help along.

The Wheel Turns and Burns

Every once in a while I get all misty-eyed and I-love-you-man about the folks I game with.  This is such a time.

Look posted this up on the BW forum:

Five years ago today we released Burning Wheel Revised.
In five years we’ve sold over 7000 copies of BWR alone.
We’ve traveled the US and Europe promoting the game.
We’ve introduced thousands of gamers to the Burning games.
We’ve played incredibly games (that just keep getting better).
We’ve made amazing friends who will be with us for many years to come.

Thanks all for making this dream come true.
We hope to see you all at 10/10/10 so we can celebrate!

-Luke and BWHQ

And it got me thinking back on the past five years or so of gaming, looking back on AP threads.

Here is my first BW thread, I believe, 3 BW Games in 5 Days, in which I struggle with the rules, fuck up pre-game preparation, still manage to have a decent time here and there but I’m banging my head against the system. Some of my friends liked what they saw in the system and some hated the damned thing.

So, why and how did I continue playing the game and wrestling with it?

It is because, in Ithaca, I am blessed. I don’t have one group in this town. I am lucky to have a network of players and people interested in gaming, up for something new, game to try something. There are a few dozen games in this town whom I consider friends, people I’d be eager and happy to share a beverage with.

If I was gaming group monogamous, I’d never be able to play the game again as soon as one or two people hated it. I get to play games that I dig with people who are willing and eager to try them because when it comes to gaming groups, I lean polyamorous.

I don’t play PTA with Jim or Aaron because they tend to like more mechanics to sink their teeth into. I play Shock: with Pete and Janaki because we love making up worlds together and see how they turn out when we bang on them with anthropological hammers. The BW character sheets make Janaki dizzy but make Aaron sing with glee. And I full realize that I can do this because I have spent the last 10+ years gaming in this medium-smallish college town and rather than sinking one night a week into creating the perfect group of uber-gamers, I have flitted around, weaving webs and making networks of buddies.

Some I don’t game with at all, because their games don’t interest me and mine don’t interest them but we have fun IMing or having the occasional lunch to talk shop and geek out. Some are up for long campaigns, some aren’t. Some are down with the occasional one-shot once the kids are asleep, some want to game on Friday night have rocking a porch party. Some were strangers who PMed me on a forum (and some of those became great friends and others faded), some got dragged into a game I was playing with through a stagnant university gaming club and others have been friends we met under the mantle of Kryos over a decade ago.

My gaming privilege makes me wince when people post on forums how “their group would never play X game that they lust after.”

So, thank you, my friends who despite their busy lives, careers and families spend time playing games with me.

Thank you to my friends who played

the pirates,


revolutionary fast food workers rebelling against The Man,

the R&D exec and the Rogue Scientist,

the interstellar corporate agents,

the Patrol-men and Patrol-women,

the barber’s son from the Sangre,

the knight and the bastard,

the uncommon orcs,

the princess and the bodyguard,

the freebooter turned mercenary captain turned champion of humanity, the Herald of the Dawn, the Spider of the Book and the Chosen of Hell’s Honorable Brother,

the Horselord Prince, the Sheriff of Baal, the God-killers

the Elven Sword-singer and his loyal princeling apprentice,

the nobles and the jihadim,

the teen  samurai hostages to the sleeping emperor who dressed as ninja and went dancing at night,

the kids with magic out on the corner,

the Dragonborn Cleric, the Human Fighter, the Drow Ranger and the Elven Paladin,

the wolf pack traversing the World Tree in search of a new alpha,

the Barons whose lands surrounded the Hub of all Revenge,

the doomed samurai ascending a cold mountain for bloody reasons,

the cast and crew of Hare and Hound,

the Man in the Mountain,

the concubine and the dead god’s bride,

the Centurions,

Sharn’s Finest,

the cast and crew of Episode LV,

the Grey Legionnaires,

and many more.

Thank you, my friends for joining me in trying odd games, playtesting others and all in all making up cool shit.

SotC Idea: Change the Century

From this thread.

Okay, characters don’t get better over time. That is fine with me. We did some suggestions in the book for character advancement and they felt flat to me when we played. I suggest we ditch ’em.

You don’t change your character, you change the world.

After every game (or after each arc, if you don’t finish a pulp novel’s worth of adventure per session), you see who spent the most Fate Points in the course of play. That player gets to add an aspect to the world or change the wording of an existing aspect

This means that world aspects will quickly add up. But only a few are used in each game. At the beginning of each game, each player (GM included) can choose one world aspect that is in play in order to avoid ten world aspects just kind of falling on top of one another in a clutter.

World Aspects can be anything that is inspired from the game’s play, from anti-vigilante laws in Gotham to flying cars become affordable to Gorilla City’s first ambassador greets U.S. president. They work just like aspects.

Pulp characters do not change but dammit, at the gaming table, they should change the world.

So, here’s how I’d picture it working.

You have been playing for a while, a dozen adventures, a dozen different aspects.

Let’s say they are:

Flying cars
Ape City Embassy in NYC
Tyrian Deathlord Spies are EVERYWHERE!
Dracula’s Children want revenge
Cthulhu is no longer dreaming
Century Club has the Queen’s ear
The Hellfire Club controls the U.S. Government
Colonized Mars
Rocket-Packs for every Boy Scout
Vigilante-ism illegal in U.S.
Americans love science heroes!
Zeppelin City draws the finest scientists in the world

Okay, when you start play, you do not play with every single one of those Aspects in play. That’d be nuts.

Let’s say you are playing with four people, three PC’s and a GM. Each player (GM INCLUDED) chooses an aspect to go with the adventure. Hopefully, the players know the pitch.

The aspects might or might not play into the adventure but they are there to be tagged and such if it comes up.

So I tell the players, they will be playing Zombie Kong and the Lightning Zombies attack New York City.

They choose:

Dracula’s Children want revenge
Rocket-Packs for every Boy Scout
Ape City Embassy in NYC
Americans love science heroes!

See, they didn’t pick Vigilanteism Illegal in U.S., so it won’t be an issue in this game. Sure, it still exists but the cops look the other way, especially as Zombie Kong is rampaging through their city, on his way to the Empire State Building during a thunderstorm that could make him nigh invulnerable, plus, the guy who plays the Shadow-inspired character couldn’t make it that week.

Also, I’d want the players to be able to zone in on an Aspect and ask that it be the center of an adventure, resolving it somehow.

Kid Pulp Heroes

I have a hankering to make up half a dozen or so kid pulp heroes.

Here are my first thoughts:

Sherlock Holmes II, son of the sleuth

Born from the dalliances of his father during one of the famous detective’s cocaine benders, raised by his uncles Mycroft and Watson, moved to the U.S. in order to gain distance from his father’s enemies, can he solve the case-files his father left behind?

Aspects: Father’s enemies plague me, A letter from Uncle Mycroft, Father’s Strengths and his Weaknesses, Terrible Violinist

Rosie Riveter, strongest kid in the world

Before she was the WWII icon, she was the strongest kid in the world, able to life a Model T clear over her head or punch a charging bull.

Aspects: “I’m the strongest!”, Inspiring, “I’m always ready to do my part.”, “You can do it!”

Buck Bradley, Boy Scout Supreme

The finest Boy Scout in the United States with every merit badge imaginable and the ear of the President of the United States.

Aspects: Always Prepared, The Real World Ain’t a Merit Badge, Order of the Arrow, Bowie Knife

Nancy Atom, girl scientist!

Haunted by Madame Curie, the ghost from the future, this little girl is as brilliant as she is dangerous, using her acute knowledge of anatomy and sociology to decimate her foes when the need arises.

Aspect: Haunted by a Ghost from the Future, Stand Back – I’m going to do SCIENCE!, Anatomy Lessons

Kid Shadow, two-gun teen

When he picked up his father’s mystical .45’s, Crane Junior found himself in the body of a grown-up vigilante with a kid’s sense of justice and revenge.

Aspect: Kids’ Sense of Right and Wrong, Villains Deserve Bullets, My Father will be Avenged

Son of Khan

The talking gorilla son of the dastardly villain, Gorilla Khan, he has come to the man’s world due to the love of an anthropologist but is love enough to thwart his father’s cruel upbringing?

Aspects: Stronger than any man!, Law of the Jungle, My Father’s Son, In Love with Anthropologist


I forgot one

Jonesy, Captain of the Newsboy Legion

The kid on the street, ears to the tracks, fingers smudged with newsprint, unearthing the stories just beneath the busy sidewalks and just above the impossibly high skyscrapers.

Aspects: Ear to the Streets, “WUXTREE! WUXTREE! Read ALL ABOUT IT!”, “Who doesn’t this kid know?”, Not afraid to skin knuckles for the story.