Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Promethean: Chop, Sploosh, Gack, Pow

Anybody ever watch Harper's Island? Horror mini-series, basically a slasher movie played out over 13 episodes, which has the effect of making things really uncomfortable by the last couple because you've come to know the main characters well enough that it's hard to be densensitized to their deaths. Anyway, I mention it because the episode titles were all onomatopoeias, and pretty violent, MUCH LIKE LAST NIGHT'S GAME.

So! Skip heads out to the swamp with Jesse, and we'll learn what happened to them next time (Skip's player was absent). Avalon and Carroll head back towards town, but next a salvage yard there's a loud bang and then the car spins out and crashes. Both are mostly unhurt, but Avalon is worried - that sounded like a gunshot. She gets out of the car and is immediately struck by a blast of acidic blood that melts the flesh from her body...and there stands Red. She rushes forward and uses her knowledge of Alchemicus to turn him to stone, and Carroll's eyes go completely black. The darkness pours out of him and surrounds them, and Carroll and Red both vanish.

Avalon, realizing they're probably screwed without help, pulls Fluffy (Enoch's shabti, whom we haven't seen in a while) out of her backpack and tells him to alert Enoch, and then runs into the dark.

Avalon realizes they're in a maze, but she can, inexplicably, easily find her way through it. In the center of the maze, she sees a huge, monster-ghost thing erupting from Red's petrified body, and facing off against it is some horrible spindly-legged creature, shrouded in darkness. The creature is badly wounded, and the ghost turns the blood-torrent on Avalon again.

Avalon, enraged, switches to the Refinement of Tin and throws lightning at the creature. It cries out in pain, and Avalon gears up to fire again, but then Red de-petrifies and shoots her.

And in a cab, heading towards town, Feather and Enoch feel Avalon die. Grimm and Matt, walking back towards the city, feel it too. The folks in the cab see the boys on the side of the road and stop to get them, and based on what Enoch can see through Fluffy's eyes, finds the salvage yard. Grimm gets out of the car and sees the huge pocket of darkness, and rushes in (completing a milestone and his Daredevil Role for enter a gateway without knowing where it goes). Feather and Matt follow, telling the cab driver to wait.

Enoch, seeing them go, calls out "OK, I've sent them in, now come get me," trying to bait Red. It works - Red appears behind him. Enoch tells him that his quest for vengeance is going to get him killed; the other supernatural beings of New Orleans are looking for him. Red says that all he wants is "all of you at the River." Enoch asks why, and Red tells him "figure it out, you stupid sonofabitch, you killed my boys" and then hits him with an ax.

Enoch changes to barghest form and attacks, but the first hit took too much out of him, and Red blasts him with blood and then finishes him with a second stroke of the ax. Enoch dies, and the others feel it.

Inside the darkness, they find themselves isolated and lost in a maze. Matt and Feather make it to the center, though, and find the spindly creature slinking up in the dark. Feather sees that it has Carroll's eyes...but then those eyes go away and become the black, insect-like eyes of the creature. The maze walls start to collapse, and the Prometheans run. Outside, they find the cab gone and the cab driver dead.

They call DeVries for help, and moments later a car with the mages Sebek, Mort, and a third one named Cassie, arrive. Cassie looks around at all the death and gives an abbreviated version of what happened, but notes that it's like it all happened "in a nightmare." The Prometheans note that Red seems to have a thing for junkyards, and maybe he was holed up there - of course, he's not there now because he took the cab towards New Orleans. The mages decide to investigate the junkyard, and the Prometheans take their car (with the bodies of their friends in the trunk) and head for town. They call Sicky, who's terrified because he felt Avalon and Enoch die, too, and have him meet them at DuMonde.

In the Underworld, Avalon awakens on the shores of the River of Blood. She unleashes her rage in lightning form at the river, screaming in anger, and firmly cements herself as on Stannum, pursuing the Vigilante Role. Enoch appears behind her, and they talk a bit, and then start heading upriver. The river splits, and Avalon remembers that the River of Blood is about violence and passion, so she takes a drink and feels aggression and anger surge. She takes a little blood with her in her shoe. She figures she'll need it.

They find ghosts in the nearby tunnels, and Enoch asks where he might look to find a particular person (specifically he's looking to find Red's family to try and get them to calm him down). The ghost responds that Enoch should look in the Web of Names, and tells him to follow the River of Memory. They find said river (Lethe) and Enoch takes a couple of stones to work into his project back in the world of the living. Note, too, that all of this fulfills the projectio milestone for both Avalon and Enoch: Visit a River of Death.

Back in the world of the living, the Prometheans decide that maybe they should check out a local scrapyard (Sicky tells them that the one that the characters were near earlier has werewolves in it; they call the mages and warn them off. Grimm espouses a theory that every scrapyard has some kind of supernatural creature running it, which is now canon in my Chronicles of Darkness). There's one nearby, though, outside of the city, pretty small - some of it got destroyed by Katrina. The Prometheans decide to go check it out. If they can find Red while he's hurt, maybe they can kill him.

Grimm, meanwhile, adopts Ferrum and the Soldier Role. He also forces himself a little further along on the Pilgrimage, and achieves the fermentatio milestone (use Vitriol to increase Pilgrimage). Enoch uses Vitriol to fix Mutatus Aspiratus and Sanctus Aspiratus, and Matt uses Vitriol to fix Externalize, which is where we'll pick up next time.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chill: Layin' Old Ghosts to Rest

Yesterday was the end of a Chill case (beginning was here).

The envoys have Darnell come down from Boise, and he brings Dylan (Edward's player was out, so we figured Edward was out in LA doing movie-stuff) along. Dylan is still recovering from his last mission - still a little injured, still a little delicate mentally. They arrive at Stewart's house, and Darnell checks out Jordan. She's badly dehydrated and sick, so he puts a saline bag up and tells her to rest. He checks out Stewart, too, but he's not as bad, so Darnell just tells him to stay hydrated.

The envoys talk a little about what to do, and in a couple hours Jordan is walking again. They think about heading out to the site that evening, but decide it's better if they have everyone (and Jordan isn't really 100%), so they choose to sleep on it and gear up in the morning. Dee dreams of riding in a car with Bryan, the mysterious hitchhiker. The car stops and he follows a light into the woods, and then falls into a crevasse. Dee hears a crack when he lands, and then realizes something else is there with her. It chases her and she falls near the road, scrabbling for a foothold, and then the creature backs off. Before she wakes up, Dee realizes that her hands smell like carrots.

The envoys wake up and realizes that Stewart has gone to work, which is good - at least he's feeling better. Darnell, however, is not well; he's contracted the strange disease. Jordan draws a line of defense around his bed and he starts to feel better, but that of course means he's stuck in the circle.

Dylan realizes that he was going to hit the books last night, but forgot and passed out instead. The envoys get some breakfast at the diner and then make some plans. Dylan does a little research and learns that Unknown-caused diseases tend to be fast and acute, but if you can get through the initial sickness they're usually not fatal. They are, however, sometimes contagious, and often the only way to stop the spread is destroy the creature that caused it. Some ghosts can cause contagion, as can some undead creatures, but without knowing what the envoys are up against they can't really make a plan.

Dee mentions that she woke up craving carrots and that they might be significant. Carrots don't grow wild around her, but Queen Anne's Lace, which is also called a wild carrot (and smells like just carrots) does. The envoys figure that their best bet is to get down into the crevasse and see what they see, so they hit Wal-Mart and buy a rope ladder, some garbage bags, some rope a tarp, and some lights.

They head out to the site and see a man flagging their car down - Bryan. They pick him up and start driving him back to town. They ask him questions, but he's pretty uninformative; Willa realizes that he probably doesn't quite know what's happening and is just recreating a particular scene. She uses Voice of the Dead to channel him, and he reveals that his full name is Bryan Gill. He was visiting his brother in Mountain View, NV and on the way home when he pulled over because he saw a light in the woods. He felt compelled to follow it, and then fell, and then nothing. He asks that the envoys tell his brother what happened to him, and then he fades away, leaving some ectoplasm behind.

They head back out to the site, make some garlands out of Queen Anne's Lace, and rig the rope ladder to go down. Willa starts descending, and activates Eyes of the Dead. Sure enough, she sees a figure in the bottom of the crevasse, but it isn't approaching her. The bottom of the crevasse is covered in white mushrooms, which makes the envoys nervous - what if the spores cause the illness? Willa hangs on the ladder a minute, but when she goes to descend again she forgets how her hands work and lands on her ass in the shrooms.

She looks around and finds Bryan's body, and calls to the others. Jordan descends as well, and touches Willa, using Disrupt, which gives her back her coordination. Unfortunately, Willa looks off in the distance and sees lights...and wants nothing more than to touch them. She starts walking slowly towards them, but Jordan notices, darts in front of her, and uses Line of Defense to block her path. Willa comes to and sees the figure out in the dark...hovering over another level to the crevasse. They decide to head back, put Bryan's body in the tarp, and rig it so Dylan and Dee can pull it up.

They start to do that (some minor Trauma from Bryan's decomposing body later), and get the body hauled up. And then it starts raining blood. Dylan, a bit freaked out but not terribly, puts up a Sphere of Protection, which blocks the rain from him and Dee.

Willa goes up the ladder to assist, but then Jordan sees the lights. She walks right off the edge and falls into a lower area, but isn't seriously hurt. The others move the ladder, and Willa sees the figure standing directly in front of Jordan, pulling back as if to strike her. Thinking quickly, Willa uses Voice of the Dead and summons the creature into her own body. Dylan draws a Line of Defense around Willa to keep it trapped, and Dee rigs the ladder so Jordan can climb up.

Willa can sense that this creature was once human - a Chinese woman - but that she's been dead for so long that most of her humanity has gone. Jordan looks around in the lower crevasse and finds a skull, a fragment of a spine, and part of a femur - the last remains of the woman. She bags them, and climbs up.

The envoys engage in a bit of pantomime and nonverbal communication with the ghost to try and figure out what she wants, but finally they figure that burying her in a cemetery might do it. She's been dead long enough that the specific tradition doesn't matter anymore, just the recognition would be enough. They load up the bodies (like, 1.2 bodies) into the car and call ahead to Stewart for help. He says he'll meet them with the Reverend at the church, but they'll need to explain it.

The Reverend tells them that they'll need to call the police about Bryan, but allows himself to be convince that the other body could just be buried in the older part of the cemetery. The envoys dig a grave for the bones, and mark it with a stone labeled with the Chinese character for "daughter" (Jordan figures she had to be somebody's daughter, so that's accurate). They see mushrooms sprout in seconds, and then die, and the Unknown presence fades.

The police reprimand them a little for hauling Bryan's body out (this is technically illegal), but they let it go, presumably because they saved the police the trouble. Bryan's brother is notified, and the envoys collect Darnell (now recovered) and head back to Boise.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Character Creation: Synthicide

It's early in the morning, but I can't start doing inventory yet and I gotta take Sephi to the vet and no one else is up, so.

The Game: Synthicide
The Publisher: Will Power Games
Degree of Familiarity: Enough. I ran a session last night in preparation to write a review.
Books Required: Just the one.

So! Synthicide is billed as sci-fi noir, and that's not a bad description. You're playing "sharpers," mercenaries or hired help trying to survive in a universe that really doesn't give a shit what you do, as long as you don't fuck with the Church or its Synthetics.

Oh, this is sad. There's a PC generator here, but there's no way to print the sheet it creates. Boo. Guess I'll have to do this analog.

OK, so, the book has a bunch of random tables that you can roll on to generate an origin story. I enjoy such things, so I'm gonna use 'em. First roll: Birthplace. I was born on a ship. I have no home planet. Sounds OK.

Next roll: Why did I become a sharper? Restlessness. Wanderlust. Search for meaning. I can get behind that.

Next, connection to other players: Sworn to secrecy. My character and other sharper share a terrible secret. I get to roll on the mystery table to determine what we're hiding. Sounds good to me! Visions - I get visions of a terrible future...maybe past? Anyway, I start with three doses of Illuminix, which is cool, because that's the drug you need to take if you have psychic powers and I was thinking that'd be fun.

Now I choose a Motivation (there's a list). These are very broad, and help determine how I can regain Resolve in play. I'll say my guy's motivation is Don't Get Mad, Get Even, because I feel like making a character who's a little harder around the edges today. He gets Resolve if he denies an opponent mercy or settles a debt.

Step Three, I select a bioclass, which is basically whether I have or could have any cyber. You don't actually start with any cyber either way (which is kinda weaksauce). I think if I want to have psychic powers, my brain has to be organic. Yep, I can't be a scraphead or a rigfiend. I think I'll be a hardshell - got some work done in the body, but the brain is all meat. That sets my Attributes totals, but I don't fill them in yet because they'll be modified by Aspect. I also start with either Cyber Eyes or Serbs Limbs; I think I'll go with the eyes. I get +1 Awareness. I get 2 cybernetic slots for my body, but those don't matter at chargen.

Next up, Aspect. I already know I want to be a Bulbhead. I get +2 Influence but -1 to another Attribute of my choice. Hmm. I think I'll take it to Toughness; my rigged body was done on the cheap and it's prone to shorting out at bad times. Now I can fill in my Attributes. My Influence and Awareness are both pretty good, but my Toughness and Combat are sucky, so I'll need to rely on my psychic powers, which, speaking of, I get two.

Ooh, these are pretty baller. I'll take Psychic Barrier (I need a way to prevent damage), and...hmm. Do I want a movement power, or do I want a way to do damage? I think given my motivates I should take the latter. I'll take Mind Burst (there's a slot to write these on the back of the sheet, but I don't care that much, so I'll just jot 'em in on the front).

Now I pick a Natural Talent, which is the closest this system gets to skills. There are really only two types, Influence (which, perhaps ironically, let me use my highest Attribute instead of Influence to lie to or otherwise persuade certain types of people or in certain situations) or Operate, which let me use a higher Attribute than Operation to perform certain tasks. Since Influence is one of my highest Attributes, I'll take an Operate one. Since I grew up on a ship, let's make it Operate Vehicles.

And then, an equipment package. I appreciate these; you can just pick one and get stuff you might need without shopping. I'll take the Gutter Psych package; that gives me a gun and a combat vest, but more importantly, it gives me Illuminix, which I need to be all psychic. That means I have 10 doses total.

And that's all the number stuff. Now for a little backstory. Stelo (means "star" in Esperanto) was born on a colony ship bound for...parts unknown (turns out they were bound of Cruxian, which is a planet that doesn't realize that space travel exists - they're kept forcibly ignorant by the Church). Stelo was taken off the ship by his mother during an incident (she never told him about it, but he has visions of explosions and monsters), and she became crew on another transport ship. Stelo grew up in space.

He fell in with a crew of sharpers when he was 14, and on his first mission got caught between two huge cargo crates and crushed. The buyer, who was moderately wealthy, felt bad and paid for some augmentation to keep Stelo alive, but not, like top of the line. Stelo stayed with the crew for a while, though, and then met up his current crew (which would be the PCs). He revealed his occasional visions to another sharper, and they realized they both had similar visions. Stelo is curious about what he's really seeing, but up till now he figured it was just Illuminix side effects. Stelo also took to heart he lesson of the buyer fixing his body - if you wrong someone or are responsible for someone getting hurt, you balance the scales. He's toying with the notion that the reason he's seeing these visions is because something is out of balance, but that hasn't really crystalized yet.

OK, I think that does it!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Movie #424: Home

Home is an animated comedy starring Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin, and Matt Jones. It didn't do fantastic at the box office, but it's got a special place in my heart.

Oh (Parsons) is a member of an alien race called the Boov. They are the self-described "best at running away," and move from planet to planet, fleeing their world-destroying enemies, the Gorg. They find Earth and use their superior, bubble-based technology to move the world's population to Australia, where they arrange everyone in circular neighborhoods with Ask-a-Boov kiosks in the middle (side note: it's never revealed if they arrange people in any particular way, and Boov don't have families the way people understand them, so it's a good thing they took the time to learn all these peoples' names so they can find missing folks!. Further side note: Their relocation always makes me think of this).

Anyway, Oh is kind of a fuckup - he's enthusiastic about being with other Boov (most Boov aren't), and he's hyper enthused about his race and their cowardly leader, Captain Smek (Martin). In his haste to have everyone over for a warming-of-house party, he inadvertently broadcasts the invite to the whole universe...including the Gorg. Now a fugitive, he runs into a young girl named Tip (Rihanna), hiding out in her apartment after the Boov's technology missed her. After some highly amusing initial disagreements ("Can I come into the out now?"), they team up to find Tip's mother (Lopez) and try and clear Oh's name.

This movie is based on a book and diverges wildly, but that's normal. I like Oh's linguistic foibles (what they do with gerunds is fascinating), and I like that one of the main characters is a girl and a POC. I don't know if she's from Barbados in the book, too, but that was also a nice touch - she's assimilating to a new culture, and in the process winds up teaching Oh that he can't just steamroll in and take everything.

I think the fact that the Boov are pretty clear analogs for well-meaning white people could be underlined a little more heavily, but hey, this ain't a Pixar movie and we're not in it for the message. Home is funny and touching at points, and the voice acting is good.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Inglorious Basterds

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Character Creation: Blades in the Dark

I started running this game Monday. I'm really liking it, for a number of reasons. I love the notion of a criminal gang being all sneaky and stuff, I love the kinda Dishonored-ish setting, and I really am looking forward to playing with the system.

But, you know, I like to make characters for games that I run so let's fucking do that! (Woooo.)

The Game: Blades in the Dark
The Publisher: Evil Hat Productions
Degree of Familiarity: I've read it, and it uses a system that's kinda like PbtA.
Books Required: Just the one.

So, first thing I need to do is pick a playbook. It says to play a Lurk if you want to sneak around in the shadows, and boy-howdy, that sounds like fun. I'ma make a Lurk.

Next up, I choose a Heritage. I think I want to be Tycherosi, supposedly part-demon. My character gets a telltale, which in his case I'm gonna say are utterly black, slightly-too-large eyes. Neat! I get to add a detail, so I'll say he was adopted by a blind Iruvian, an old merchant who didn't care about his weird-ass unsettling eyes because he couldn't see them.

Now we choose a Background, which is what he did before becoming a professional scoundrel. I'm gonna go with trade. He was a shopkeeper; he ran a spice stand in Nightmarket. I'll add former spice dealer as the detail (presumably he inherited the shop from his adopted father).

Next, we assign four Action Dots. I already get Finesse and Prowl. I'm gonna take Hunt, Tinker, Sway, and...hmm. I kinda feel like Study might be appropriate, but then, Attune is useful, too, and that would give me two resistance dice in each area (see, it's different when you've played the game before you make the character). I'm gonna go with Study, actually.

Special ability! Ooh, I really like Ghost Field (which lets me become shadowy and insubstantial briefly), but then, Shadow is groovy, too - that would let me perform Kevin-like feats of leaping and silence. I think I'll do that.

Now I get a close friend and a rival. For my friend, I'll take Darmot, the Bluecoat. He was a friend of my adopted father and stopped by the shop every now and then to get a particular smoked salt that he liked. As a rival, I'll take Frake, a locksmith. She takes my skills as a burglar personally.

Choose my vice! My vice is Pleasure. He has very sensitive skin, so he goes to Madame Tesslyn at the Red Lamp (a brothel). He doesn't always indulge in sex, though - more often he pays the girls (or, y'know, whoever) to stroke him with various silks and textured things.

Name, alias, and look. OK, then! His name is Sesereth Karstas, but on the streets he's called Silk. He wears loose silks, soft boots, and pulls a scarf up over the lower half of his face when working. He speaks softly, and has a faint Iruvian accent. His eyes, as mentioned, are just a little too big, and are completely black.

That's it!




Movie #423: Heat

Heat is a crime drama directed by Michael Mann and starring (deeeeep breath) Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Dennis Haysbert, Jon Voight, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Mykelti Williamson, and Natalie Portman, plus a bunch of other fairly famous people.

There are a bunch of storylines going on, here, but the main thing is: Neil (de Niro) runs a crew of highly skilled thieves. On a job sticking up an armored car, new recruit Waingro (Kevin Gage) gets squirrely and shoots a guard, prompting the others to shoot the rest. Neil is pissed - they don't need any heat, and killing people brings that. He goes to shoot Waingro, but he manages to escape. File that away for now.

They start working on their next job, but Detective Hannah (Pacino) and his crew are in pursuit. They play a bunch of cat and mouse, and Hannah and Neil meet and express respect for each other. Neil, meanwhile, meets a woman (Brenneman) and falls in love, and when the last score goes south he looks to take her with him out of the country. At the last minute, he goes off plan to kill Waingro, and winds up getting pursued, and shot, by Hannah.

Into this mix, there are at least a half-dozen subplots. Chris (Kilmer) has a gambling problem that's pushing his wife Charlene (Judd) to canoodle with a Las Vegas bookie (Hank Azaria). Waingro is actually a serial killer knocking off prostitutes, which is something I missed the first time I saw this, somehow. Hannah's wife Justine (Venora) is deeply unhappy in their marriage, and her daughter (Portman) ultimately attempts suicide because of depression brought on in part by her own absentee father. Breedan (Haysbert) is just out of jail and trying to make ends meet, and winds up in the crew when Trejo (Danny Trejo) has to back out because he can't shake the cops, and winds up getting shot for his trouble.

Michael Mann sure knows how to put this kind of movie together, though, I'll tell you what. The characters each have strong motivations, and they're professional and competent, and the chemistry between the crews is great. The criminals are utterly ruthless - they're the bad guys, and they're not afraid to gun down cops and civilians to show it. There's no question about morality, here, it's a question of motivation and what someone is willing to risk - or abandon - for one's own interests. Hannah is absent from his family and it costs him his marriage very nearly his stepdaughter. Neil risks and loses for the chance for revenge after he loses his crew. They're very similar characters, and casting Pacino and de Niro just underlines that.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-low (long but well paced)

Next up: Home

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blades in the Dark: Widdershins

Monday night was our first session of our new game (replacing Feng Shui): Blades in the Dark!

We talked about playing Unhallowed Metropolis and...something else vaguely Victorian and scary (can't remember now), but landed on Blades because it sounded intriguing to all of us and since it's PbtA based, it's meant to be low-prep. So, without further ado, the characters!


  • Una Daava, aka "One Eye," played by Megan. One Eye is the Leech of the group, and is also a physicker (medic). She's an orphaned refugee; her parents died in the Unity War. She's from Skovlan, but has worked diligently to lose her Skovic accent. She's an enthusiastic user of all drugs and intoxicants.
  • Zamira Obedin, aka "Copper," played by Michelle. Copper is the Cutter, and specializes in punching ghosts as well as people. She's a pugilist and spirit guard for hire, and her family were mercenaries. She's from Severos, and enjoys betting on hound races. 
  • Vond Helker, aka "Cage," played by Toasty. Cage is the Whisper, and is Tycherosi - he has onyx scales on his body. He used to be a Spirit Warden, but left the organization for reasons yet unrevealed. He kept the mask, though. 
  • Cyrene Daava, aka "Siren," played by Amanda. Siren grew up on a leviathan hunter boat, and would stand on the bow and sing. The crew believes this led the beasts to them, hence the nickname. She's from Akoros, and is a practiced marksman. 
The crew is called Widdershins, and they're a group of Smugglers with their own boat. They have a reputation for being strange, and taking spirit and supernatural-related smuggling jobs in and around their home turf of Nightmarket. Tonight would be no different.

As we open, the crew has been arrested. Occasionally the Bluecoats just round up the usual suspects, as it were, and throw them in a carriage (pulled by immense goats) and cart them around. Once they've been taken in circles for a while, the carriage stops, and they find themselves face to face with Captain Vale. 

Vale tells them to look off yonder, and they see a Gondolier boat - the Gondoliers are pulling a body out of the water. As they watch, the body twitches and spits up water. A hollow, then. Vale informs them that the Gondoliers have been pulling these bodies out of the canals for a while now, but they aren't involving the Bluecoats and the Spirit Wardens are staying well away. If someone were to bring Vale one of these bodies, they would be rewarded. 

One Eye haggles a bit, and manages to get some cash up front out of Vale, but Vale clearly makes a mental note to remember these folks (bringing some Heat). The scoundrels start looking for intel. 

Copper follows the Gondoliers back to their hideout, and watches as the corpse is taken into a closed building. She isn't sure what happens then, but sees Griggs, a high-ranking Gondolier and a whisper, talking to another member. Griggs glances over and Copper realizes there's a ghost present, but manages to dodge it before she's made.

One Eye hits the Veil, a nightclub where she partakes of all the drugs. Nyelle, a spirit trafficker known to the crew, hangs out there, and lo, she is there, drinking a very sweet new drug. One Eye stays and learns a few things - the bodies are indeed being pulled out of the canals in a particular pattern, and the pattern forms a rune across Doskovol, but Nyelle isn't familiar with what the rune means. She also tells One Eye that the Gondoliers were once the go-to folks for helping normal people out with spirit issues, but the Spirit Wardens have been assuming that role, and the Gondoliers aren't happy about it. Nyelle isn't sure what, if anything, the Spirit Wardens know about all this, but so far they're steering clear. One Eye stays and gets very drunk on all this. 

Siren, meanwhile, decides that meeting with Eliese, the leader of the Gondoliers, would be worthwhile. She arranges a messenger and sends him out, bearing a special invitation (on which she spends the advance money the crew was given). The messenger returns, possessed, and informs Siren that Eliese doesn't have time to meet with her right now. The ghost leaves the messenger, who of course remembers nothing. 

One Eye returns to the lair and shares what she knows with the group, drawing the rune from memory...and it explodes in her face, frazzling her a bit. Cage tries to decipher it, but can't (it's an old symbol, not one he's seen before). The crew does know, however, where the next corpse should appear, so they head into Crow's Foot to scope out the location. 

They note that this is right near the orphanage, and there are a bunch of scamps watching out for weirdness (not uncommon to use these kids as lookouts). They find the place that the body went in, and then plan out their escape route. And then it's time to begin the score. 

We open on that as they're pulling the body out, and it's fighting them. Copper punches the ghost in the body into submission and One Eye ties it up, while Cage gets the boat moving. Gondoliers are en route - the kids are blowing little whistles and summoning them. Cage summons a bunch of scary ghosts to drive the kids away, and the scoundrels pull away from Crow's Foot, into the canal between Coalridge and Charterhall. They see a bunch of Gondolier boats, as well as Spirit Wardens and Bluecoats, but they try and fade into the background. 

They get stopped in a bit by a Gondolier boat that asks what they're transporting, and Siren gives us a brief flashback to when she got some manifest documents from Rolan, the proprietor of the Veil. She got them, but they're old (Rolan didn't have another use for them), so the Gondolier calls them out. One Eye hits him with a trance dart, making him stoned, but his co-boater sends up a flare, summoning the other Gondoliers. Copper splashes him in the face with rage essences, driving him berserk, and throws him overboard to slow down the Gondoliers, and the scoundrels take off. 

Realizing that they're still being pursued, though, they slip under a bridge and work together to blow it up. The bridge crashes down and the scoundrels escape into Nightmarket's canals...and next time, we'll finish up the score and have some downtime. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Tale of Two Kickstarters

OK, so check this out. We've got two superhero-themed RPG Kickstarters, launched within day of each other. I backed one of them. I think a little examination would be instructive. 

Kickstarter Number One: Superhero 2044

So, first, we have Superhero 2044. Now, this is a reboot, if you will, of the game first published in 1977, apparently the first professionally produced supers RPG, predating TSR's Marvel Superheroes. I never played (or even heard of, weirdly) Superhero 2044, but I love me some supers gaming, so I checked out this Kickstarter when it came across my feed. 

Well, anyway, when the first version did. See, it was launched with a goal of $100,000 (since it included miniatures) and...didn't take off like a shot, let's say. So the creator decided to cancel it and relaunched without the minis, just creating the book. Solid strategy, first go-round might have been too ambitious. So he relaunches...with a goal of $100. 

OK, look. Kickstarter is not a store, and yes, some folks (creators and backers) treat it that way. But if all that's standing between you and publishing a huge book (I don't see a page count on the KS page, but frankly the wall of text is a little hard to parse) is a fucking c-note, then, like, borrow a hundred bucks from a buddy and publish that puppy yourself. 

But that weird decision, and the horrible format of the KS text, and the just all-over-the-map artwork taken from multiple sources aren't the problem. Here's the problem. 


That's a screengrab from the RPG Kickstarter News Facebook group. The commenter (Mark Thompson) is the KS creator, who apparently bought the rights to Superhero 2044 from the original creator. The context here is that the person he's talking to raise the question of whether he was legally allowed to use the word "superhero" (since it's held as a trademark by Marvel and DC), and to use characters like "Thor" and "Black Panther" in the context of being superheroes (since, although "Thor" as the god of thunder is unlikely to be trademarked, "Thor" in this particular context might well raise an eyebrow). Thompson had similar questions raised on his initial Kickstarter, and responded similarly: 


Now, I'm not a lawyer. There's interesting discussion revolving around the trademark that Marvel and DC hold on the word "superhero", how it's applied, whether it can or has been successfully defended - I don't know and I don't much care. That alone probably wouldn't compel me not to back a Kickstarter. The disrespect shown to backers and to just random folks asking questions, though, that very much would put me off (and did). And that's before we get into use ableist slurs. 

Kickstarter Number Two: Metahumans Rising Redux

This one came to my notice yesterday when a friend backed it. It's called "Redux," I think, because the creators launched it once before and weren't successful. It looks like a supers game - there's very little info about the system on the KS page, which isn't a red flag per se but it's definitely a strike against. The artwork, though, is lovely, features some POC and some women, and the goal seems reasonable for what they're doing. 

This, to me, is what Kickstarter is meant to do - help creators who want to get a project off the ground and can do (or commission) the work but don't have the cash to make it happen. So, shit yeah, I backed this one. And I don't know, maybe it crashes and burns, or doesn't fund, or it funds and the product is meh. I don't know, but I'm willing to give it a shot, because more games is better than fewer games, and I like superheroes. 

And also because when I asked what the system was like, I got this response: 


See? Not hard to be respectful. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Promethean: Meeting of the Scary People

Last night was Promethean. The session involved playing a lot of NPCs, which is something I usually try to avoid (like, I don't mind NPCs but I don't like playing a bunch at once), but I think I manage to make them distinct. It also involved factions of various supernatural forces coming together, which can feel really corny (like, I've played in OWoD games where it's like "we're having a meeting at Elysium, and here's the rep from the fucking Technocracy, which is a totally normal thing!"), but I think it worked pretty well. I do try and keep city supernatural culture in mind, and New Orleans seems like the kind of place that would have more of a community.

Anyway! The characters meet up at the DeVries mansion for their meeting; Avalon was, of course, already there (in a sparkly dress!) having spent the day with DeVries. Folks arrive severally: Jesse "Burning-Bones" Cartwright, a werewolf. Pearl Chastain, a vampire. Anita Guiterrez, a Sin-Eater. Charon arrived with two other mages (Mort and Sebek). Carroll (whose last name is Zachary).

Skip talks with Jesse about ghosts and spirits, and Jesse gives him kind of a 101: Spirits get more powerful by eating others like them, but if they eat something else, they can become magath, weird hybrid spirits. Ghosts are basically people-spirits, which means that, like, people, they're unpredictable. A chaos-spirit like Nergal is acting chaotic because that's it's nature, but at least you can trust that it'll act that way reliably. He mentions, too, that every spirit has a Ban and a Bane, a way to repel it and a way to kill it. The more powerful the spirit, the more complicated or obscure its weakness. Jesse also asks Feather if the man she killed deserves it (Jesse has a sense about these things), and notes that Avalon is the only one of the throng who's "clean."

Pearl chatters happily (and flirtily) with Grimm and then Matt. She laments that New Orleans has moved away from the blossoming town it was back in "her day" (the 19th century). Anita warns Grimm that the tone of this meeting might turn ugly quickly - the throng might wind up exiled if things don't go well.

The whole party moves into the conference room, and since the throng is such a...well, a throng, the assemblage chooses one of the characters to speak for the throng: Skip. The others kind of look nervous, but Skip acquits himself well. He summarizes what happened with Red and answers their questions to the best of his knowledge, and while Enoch nearly blows the whole thing by being rude (DeVries shoots him a please don't fuck this up sort of look), by the end of it the other factions agree to help the throng in tracking down and killing this thing. Grimm, also, blurts out that Feather punched Skip off the mountain in Colorado, which led to him landing in the Hedge - this of course is the first time Skip has heard about that. Skip achieves a milestone for enduring social pressure without lashing out, achieving his Martyr Role.

Afterwards, the assemblage moves back into the front room for dessert. Skip hits the bar, and Matt tries to talk to Feather, but she's not in the mood. Pearl questions Grimm about what happens if a vampire tries to feed from one of them, and Grimm says he isn't sure but he's willing to find out. They go out into the garden, where Matt is wandering sulkily. Pearl bites Grimm...and then turns, wretches, spits out yellow bile (Frankensteins don't have blood) and lunges at him.

Meanwhile, Skip approaches Feather. She apologizes - she was in the midst of Torment when she punched him off the mountain and doesn't even remember doing it. Skip, who recently had his own bout with Torment, understands and forgives her, and achieves his ceratio milestone: Confront Feather.

Matt runs in to tell DeVries and bring the rest of the throng, but Pearl has already put Grimm in a headlock and starts ripping open his neck. The others arrive and pull them apart, and Pearl gets herself under control - she's terribly embarrassed. Grimm handles the situation nicely ("Lesson learned!") and they head back into the party. Pearl insists on replacing his shirt.

Jesse, meanwhile, talks with Matt. Matt claims to have died and that the end of the Pilgrimage shows a way "back" to the people they were, but Jesse talks him through this misconception - James Canaday died. Matt rose up, and is alive. The death that happened wasn't James', so the life that follows can't be his, either. Matt thanks him, and the party starts winding down.

The throng asks Jesse to check out the remains of the camp, to see if any lingering spiritual instability would make it unsuitable for baiting Red. Skip agrees to go with him. Avalon catches a ride back to town with Carroll, and the others wait for a cab. Matt decides to walk. It's a nice night.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Deadlands: Legacy of the Red Fist

Saturday I ran a session in my occasional Deadlands game. It was long (we didn't have multiple sessions so we devoted basically a whole day to it), so let's get into it.

So, the game as a whole is here, but most of these characters weren't present. Sheriff Mark has given up on his quest for vengeance and settled into his life in law enforcement in Novygrad. Lillie Carmicheal, likewise, has a schoolhouse to mind, and Nikolai's adventuring days are long behind him. But Sam Kelt - also known as "Shortstop" - still wants to find out what really happened to his parents and why (his master, Chen, died of cancer a few months back) and Suzi Love, the devotee of the loa Erzulie, is going with him to keep an eye on him. Deputy George, too, goes along in case they need something shot.

They first stop in Denver and take a meeting with Mina Devlin. Since the Black River Railroad was involved in the Kelts' death and Sam knows it, they figure she's got information for them. She agrees to talk to them, but only if Suzi returns her magic whip. Suzi doesn't exactly have pleasant memories of the thing, and agrees. Mina tells them that the answers they seek can be found in Shan Fan, far to the west on the edge of the Great Maze. Sam's parents worked for Union Blue railroad, but Iron Dragon Rail was the company that really orchestrated their deaths.

And so we cut to several weeks later when the three of them arrive Shan Fan. As they're putting their horses into the livery, they see a warehouse nearby, in which there's a bit of a scuffle - a bunch of tong are beating the shit out of a guy in gambler's garb. Shortstop, not liking the 8-to-1 odds and not wanting to watch someone get murdered, intervenes, whereupon the factory foreman squares off with him. Said foreman is a martial artist, too.

Suzi throws Fear at a bunch of them, but the characters aren't alone. A frontierswoman, there to sell ghost rocks, jumps in to help protect the gambler. A young kid, too, sneaks in out of curiosity and then throws a blast of energy from a weird gauntlet, stunning a bunch of the tong.

Shortstop trades kicks and punches with the foreman, and the foreman recognizes Shortstop's style. "You are a student of Red Fist Chen!" he says. "Killing you will bring honor and glory." Whereupon, he slices open Shortstop's neck with his fingers.

Problem is, Sam has Suzi on his side, and she heals him. The frontierswoman shoots the ghost rock lantern and it falls to the floor, setting the building on fire. The tong scatter, and Suzi calls up elemental magic and sucks the whole fire into one tiny burning feather (seriously, she rolled like five raises). The characters realize that the foreman has fled, leaving more questions. They head back to the inn that George was setting up rooms in to talk this over.

The frontierswoman introduces herself as Jolee Jessup; she was just there to sell ghost rock to the tong, as she does. The little kid calls himself "Specs," after the glasses he's always adjusting, and he has something of a fixation on ghost rock, too. The gambler, it turns out, is a Pinkerton named Harold Faire, here in town looking for a fugitive named Rattlesnake James (George offers to help find him, but Faire says he's happy to help out Sam first - he's not even sure James is in Shan Fan). The characters sit down to dinner at the Strangled Serpent and start eating, trying to figure out their next move. Shortstop is disconcerted by the fact that the foreman referred to Chen as "Red Fist;" he isn't sure what that means. Specs, having lived on the streets in Shan Fan, recognizes the name as something the tongs use with fear and reverence. Red Fist was a kind of bogeyman.

And then Jolee collapses, Sam and Harold get slurred and sleepy, and Suzi and Specs start blinking. Their food has been drugged (George isn't affected, but he arrived late).

They hear people being cleared out of the dining room (they're in a private room), and George goes to investigate and gets punched in the face for his trouble. It's the foreman, Wan, again, with his muscle, come back for Shortstop. A fight seems imminent, but Harold throws down a playing card and the whole room goes black, and Specs shows them a way out into the city and a place to hide. Seems Harold is a huckster.

They meet up at Specs' hovel, and realize that they're being watched. They decide to sleep on it.

The next morning, Shortstop goes up to the roof to do his exercises and clear his head. He talks to a crow and asks about Chen (showing the crow a picture), and the crow recognizes the old man. He was a brutal warrior and killer, the crow says, called "Red Fist" because he was capable of splitting a man's head with a single punch. Shortstop is taken aback - the Chen he knew was an old, humble, quiet man, capable of fighting, sure, but not at all violent. He talks to the others and they decide to go to the Iron Dragon railroad headquarters and ask about Shortstop's parents.

The assistant they talk to shows them into a boardroom, where they find one man waiting for them: Master Kang, the owner of Iron Dragon Rail. He admits to know Sam's parents, but taunts him, saying that Chen didn't teach him enough. He then says that he's face Sam in a fight - if he knocks Kang down, Kang will tell him everything. If he knocks Sam down, Sam agrees to leave Shan Fan forever (Suzi clarifies this means "leave unharmed"). Sam agrees. Suzi tells him he's going to lose (and Specs is terrified of Kang, and shows it), but Sam says "A warrior does not run."

Kang utterly demolishes him in less than a minute. Sam is unable to so much as land a blow, and Kang remains relaxed, flowing away from Sam's attacks like a branch in a breeze. Finally Kang gets bored and strikes so fast that the others can't see it, knocking the wind out of Sam and putting him on the ground.

The characters leave town and go to Jolee's camp outside the city. Sam is despondent, and asks Suzi for a big favor - he needs to talk to Chen. Suzi hesitates; Chen is dead, and communing with the dead is dangerous. First, they decide, Suzi and Harold will go to the trainyard and see if they find anything there.

They arrive and talk with the workers, but one them points to Harold and says, "Pinkerton! Your friends are here! I told them you were here!" Harold looks nervous...and then four Pinkertons show up and arrest him. They're about reading to shoot him right there (apparently "Harold" is actually a gambler named Jonathan Hart, who killed Harold Faire and took his badge). Suzi stops them from killing him, saying that they need to follow the law, and the Pinkertons agree. Suzi realizes, though, that they're just going to take him out of town and hang him.

She races to get the others, and Specs uses his tech to see through Hart's eyes. They find that the Pinkertons are at the edge of the Maze, and about to push Hart over the edge. The characters ride up and confront the Pinkertons; the lawmen fight them and Jolee has to shoot a couple, a couple get thrown over the edge, and the last one surrenders. Suzi dresses him down for being about to murder a suspect, and sends him and his wounded compatriots on their way. Clearly, though, Hart's not out of the woods.

The others are annoyed at Hart for lying to them and putting them in this position, but they fall back to the camp, and Suzi agrees to perform the ritual for Sam.

The ritual takes days, but they eventually sink into a trance, and Sam finds Chen washing clothes. "A shirt gets bloody," says Chen, "and it can never be not-bloody. It can be clean enough, so clean you can't see the blood, but the blood remains."

Sam asks about Chen's past, and Chen admits it - he was a violent, brutal man. He worked for Iron Dragon, and he was there when Sam's parents were driven into a canyon. He was there to make sure they were dead, but not to kill them - that was someone from Black River. He isn't sure of all of the particulars because that wasn't his job. But over the trip, he became friends with the Kelts. He was unable to save them, but their son, Sam, was riding with him when they were killed, and Chen left Iron Dragon and took up residence in what became Novygrad.

Sam says that he wants revenge, and asks who will teach him now that Chen is dead. Chen says that he didn't teach Sam everything he knew because what he knew was murder - he didn't want Sam to become the next Red Fist. Sam was something else - "Shortstop." Sam needs to find a way to become a master on his own, to find his own style. He tells Sam that while a warrior never quits, a wise man knows when to walk away.

Sam, says Chen, has a choice. He can pursue this matter and try to learn the truth, or he can go back to Novygrad and find peace. Sam asks how, and Chen tells him to ask Lillie, Mark, or Nikolai - all people with fraught and violent pasts who settled into fulfilling lives. Sam asks if Chen can find peace, and Chen says he found his peace the day he made a home with Sam.

Sam returns to the waking world, and tells the others than he can find answers with Chen's old rival, Steel Gaze...also known as Wan.

Suzi and Jolee go into town and talk with Wan, who agrees to meet Sam in a neutral place - the Seven Devils Plateau. Sounds benign enough. Specs, though, notes that it's not, it's down a big stone staircase and near the water, enough that sea beasts sometimes jump out. It's a treacherous place for a fight.

The two groups meet on the Plateau - the tong and the characters - and Sam talks with Wan. Wan reveals that the Iron Dragon and the Black River were feuding with the Union Blue railroad - the railroad that employed the Kelts as surveyors. They were scouting out land for a new Union Blue line, but if they died suddenly and did not send word back, Iron Dragon could sweep in and claim the land for its own line. Black River agreed to kill them, in exchange for use of the new line for a predetermined number of years (that time had just expired, in fact).

So who really killed the Kelts? Wan didn't know. He'd arranged their deaths, but it had never been personal. Probably the men who really did it were in Mina Devil's employ, and at that time such rough characters were probably based in the town of Coffin Rock, north of Denver. "Everything is complicated," says Wan. "You want it to be simple, but it never is simple." He tenses to fight.

"A warrior never quits," says Sam, "but a wise man knows when to walk away." And he and the others start up the staircase.

They have a long ride ahead of them back to Colorado. Hart decides to ride with them because he knows his days are number alone. Jolee figures it's time to go east for a while, and Specs has nothing better to do here in Shan Fan. Maybe he can find some interesting ghost rock to play with back there?

"Besides," says Suzi, "Nikolai would love you all."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Movie #422: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is, of course, the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautisa, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, and Elizabeth Debicki. And that's not even touching on the host of secondary characters.

So: Some time after the Guardians save the galaxy from Ronan, they're taking odd jobs and wind up crash-landing on a planet after pissing off the Sovereign, the high priestess of which (Debicki) takes shit like Rocket (Cooper) stealing their batteries very seriously. They then meet a celestial being called Ego (Russell) who turns out to be the father of Peter Quill (Pratt), and wants to show him how to manipulate the power cosmic (so that they can infect the universe together, but Ego doesn't lead with that information).

Meanwhile, Gamora (Saldana) runs afoul of her adopted sister Nebula (Gillan), who betrays the Guardians to Yondu (Rooker), the leader of the Ravagers, and everything kinda turns upside-down. Eventually Yondu kills the rest of the Ravagers following a mutiny (with the exception of Kraglin (Sean Gunn), who started said mutiny but has a change of heart), and assists the Guardians and Nebula in killing Ego before he can destroy the universe.

So, I know that most of that gibberish if you don't know the characters, but that's actually good - this movie builds on the first movie and you can see growth and movement in the characters. Groot (Diesel) is a literal child in this movie, impulsive and reckless and emotional, but the others treat him like one and all act as caregivers. Rocket in particular is willing to give himself up to save Groot; when the Ravagers capture him that's his only request. Drax (Bautisa) is still pretty awkward by human communication standards, but he's obviously learning about figurative language and other such concepts. Gamora and Peter are dealing with a mutual attraction, but Peter isn't creepy about it.

And then there's Yondu, holy shit. Spoiler alert: Yondu sacrifices himself to save Peter at the end, because he realizes that he thinks of himself as Peter's real father, even if Ego was his biological father. It's literally the first time in the MCU that a heroic death has meant anything (Coulson in Avengers came close, but then they had to bring him back for the show and it got weird; Groot in the first Guardians was good in-universe, but we watching the movie knew he wasn't going anywhere).

This movie is full of real emotional moments; two of my favorites are: Mantis (Klementieff) touching Drax while the latter is thinking about his family so that we get to see Drax' grief and love through Mantis, even if Drax is far too repressed to show it. And then Quill telling Yondu, "hell, yeah, he's cool" after telling Yondu he looks like Mary Poppins - it's meant as a joke at first, but then becomes a nod of respect and lover for his father.

I'm not saying the movie is perfect (the banter between Drax and Mantis never quite works for me), but in general I think this is a great sequel - it doesn't insult us by redefining characters and it introduces some new characters into the mix, but doesn't overdo it.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Heat

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Deadlands Prep: Into the Black River

So! Waaaaay back in 2011 when my stepsons were tweens, I started running a game of Deadlands. We played a few stories over the years, but never frequently (due to distance). Today, though, we are playing what might be the final story in the campaign (but you never know).

Michelle and Al feel that their characters' stories have kinda run down, so they made new characters. Teagan is joining us, so she made a character last night. Will and Sarah are sticking with their original characters, so today, we finally get to find out what really happened to Shortstop's parents.

Players, if you happen to be reading this, stop here.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Movie #421: Goodfellas

Goodfellas is a gangster flick directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco, and a lot of other folks, including a young-ish Samuel L. Jackson. It's one of the defining movies of the genre and earned Pesci an Oscar.

As far back as Henry Hill (Liotta) could remember, he wanted to be a gangster. The movie traces Hill's life from his childhood in New York to working for Paulie Cicero (Sorvino), meeting Jimmy "The Gent" Conway (DeNiro) and Tommy DeVito (Pesci), who become his partners in crime, and working his way up in the family. He marries and has kids, and the movie occasionally switches perspective to that of his wife Karen (Bracco), a Jewish woman who marries into this mob and comes to regard the insular nature of "the family" as normal.

Eventually Hill goes to prison for a few years and winds up hooked on, and dealing, cocaine, which brings down more heat than he can buy. He gets busted, sells out his friends, and winds up in witness protection, lamenting everything he lost. There's a whole lot more I'm skipping, but that's the guts of it. A lot of the more famous scenes involve Pesci (his "what am I, a clown? Here to fuckin' amuse you?" bit gets parodied all over the place), but Liotta holds the movie together. It's also kinda close to accurate, at least according to Hill himself (skips his military tenure, for example, but that really wouldn't have fit the tone of the movie).

The performances are pretty darned amazing; Pesci and Bracco are standouts, but DeNiro has all of the charm and intensity of his early, pre-Dirty Grandpa career and Sorvino, though he's not in too much of the movie, does a great job of conveying the power of a boss who "didn't move for anybody."

If I have a complaint, it's that the sections where Karen narrates never really go anywhere - she gets to relate her side of the story a little, but then about the time Hill sets his mistress up in an apartment we don't get her first-person perspective anymore, which is a shame. Beyond that, though, it's a fantastic movie - you can say it glamorizes the life, but really it comes off as Hill trying to glamorize it and looking like a dick in the process, which of course he was.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium (it's long, but paced really well)

Next up: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Character Creation: Orkworld

Wow, I actually haven't posted anything at all since before GenCon. Been busy with, well, GenCon, but also being back at work and doing writing n' stuff.

Anyway, I feel like making a character and I read this game recently, so!

The Game: Orkworld
The Publisher: Wicked Press (written by John Wick, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere that I can find with an easy Google)
Degree of Familiarity: None. I've read most of the book.
Books Required: Just the one.

So, the story behind this game, as told in the book, is that John was playing in a D&D game and asked to play an ork (orc?) bard, and the GM said no, orks are evil, and John, ever the contrarian, turned around and wrote a 4000 word essay on ork culture to justify the character when then mushroomed into this game.

Much of the book is about ork culture. The book falls into that category of games that I probably wouldn't run because it would require the players to read the book, and I don't have players that do that so much anymore. That said, the world-building is extensive and pretty interesting in a lot of places. So let's get to it!

Part of what you do here is build a household, but there's also a system for building lone orks, which is what I'm gonna do because I don't have a group. I also found an interactive sheet for this, so that's pretty neat.

So I start with...the character questions, I guess, which is technically under the household section? (This book isn't intuitively organized, which is a problem I've had before.)

What does your character look like? I'll say my ork is short and stocky. His front teeth are blunted and maybe a bit too big, and he's got a tinge of blue in his black hair. He's missing two toes from his left foot (bitten off by another ork in a fight).

Does your ork have any distinct habits or quirks? My ork favors clubs, but lighter ones that are balanced for throwing. He's always tossing them (or some other bulky object) up and catching it.

When does courage end and bravado begin? Odd question, and in context what it seems to mean is "do you really believe your soul lives on eternally after you die?" I think my ork believes it pretty much whole-heartedly; he jokes about what kind of spices he should be flavored with (orks eat their dead).

How will your ork die? He'd like to die in battle and be carried back and made into stew. He's afraid he'll die lost and alone in the wilds and no one will find his body.

OK, so now I skip ahead a few steps to step five, creating thraka (warriors, basically). I get 15 points if I'm an ork without a household, which is effectively what I'm doing here. I note that I'm rank 1.

Virtues! I get five (Courage, Cunning, Endurance, Prowess, Strength); one at 3, three at 2, one at 1. I can raise them with points, too.

So, I think I'll put my 3 in Prowess, my 2s in Courage, Cunning, and Strength, and my 1 in Endurance.

Skills, then. I guess I can put them under whatever Virtue? Oh, there it is, yep, whatever Virtue is appropriate. Okies. Skills are 1 point each and then 1 point to increase, to a max of 3.

Well, I want a "Throw Club" skill, which feels like it should go until Prowess. I'll put that at 2.

Oh, christ, there's "Overpowering Flatulence" listed as an example skill. FFS.

Anyway, I do like "That Didn't Hurt!" as a skill, so I'll take that and stick it under Endurance. I'll also spend four and raise my Endurance to 2. I have, therefore, spent 7 of my 15.

I sort of want to take some kind of social or mental skill, maybe something to do with reverence or prayer, which I guess would go under Cunning, but literally none of the examples listed have anything to do with that. Ork Lore, I guess. Maybe I'll be a bard someday.

I'll take Block as a Skill, I figure my guy is good at taking and deflecting shots. Unless some jerk bites his toes. 2 points there, 5 left.

I'll take SMASH as a Skill, since "Spear and Shield" doesn't really cover his fighting style. I'll put 3 in, why not. 2 left for a Charge! Skill under Courage.

And then I do my wound rating, which is 3 (Endurance + Rank) and my Trouble (which is 1).

Oh, I have names, too. I'll say his current name is Doodaykin. Seems pretty orky.

I think that's it, actually. The other stuff on the sheet is household related, which as I said, I'm not doing. I like the vaguely spiritual vibe from this ork; like, he's a believer but is more focused on being a warrior. I think it'd be fun to have a spiritual crisis with him.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Movie #420: Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror is a retelling/reimagining of the Snow White myth, starring Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, Armie Hammer, Martin Klebber, Danny Woodburn, and Lisa Robert Gillan.

The movie focuses more on the Queen (Roberts) than on Snow White (Collins) as far as POV goes, but it's really the same story: The evil queen wants to remain the fairest in the land, but as her stepdaughter grows up it becomes obvious that she's going to get outstripped. Meanwhile, she taxes her people into poverty, relying on vague attacks from a "beast" to keep people afraid. Snow White, meanwhile, is kept to her room, until one day she goes walkabout and gets ambushed by seven bandits, who turn out to be dwarves, led by Butcher (Klebber) and Grimm (Woodburn).

Said dwarves have previously ambushed and trussed an adventure-seeking prince (Hammer), who the queen promptly drugs with a love potion, attempts to marry, loses to Snow White (who frees him with a kiss, in a nice little subversion). The dwarves teach Snow to fight, and she eventually does confront the beast, who, it turns out, is her father (Sean Bean), enslaved by the queen.

There's a lot going on here, I realize as I write this up, and most of it works. There are other assorted bits - Nathan Lane plays the queen's scummy little assistant, the prince's love potion makes him think he's a puppy (serious props to Armie Hammer for committing to that), but the best part of this movie is Roberts as the queen. She's evil, no question - she's quite willing to have people killed and she's utterly remorseless - but she's not detached about it, either. She's excited on her wedding day to the prince, she's angry when Snow bests her, and she inhabits the role in a way that's a lot more visceral than such villains often get played.

A really interesting bit: When the queen uses the titular mirror, she enters a little pocket realm inhabited by her reflection, which you'd think would be played by Roberts. Instead, though, they cast her sister (Gillan), who looks really similar, but just different enough that she takes on this ethereal otherness next to the queen. Nice effect.

Also, the whole thing ends with a Bollywood number (it's directed by Tarsem Singh), which was a fun touch. If I have a complaint, it's that the beast doesn't show up until the very end, and up until then it's kind of an afterthought. Generally, though, it's funny and light and enjoyable.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Misery

Night's Black Agents! Whoa!

I ran this game on Saturday, and then GenCon prep got geared up and I completely forgot to do the write-up. Blah.

So! Last time, the agents ended an op and decided they'd head out Lithuania and see just what the conspiracy was hiding (part of the reasoning was that the last time they did this, it led them to the Isle of Man and they got some pretty useful intel, so). They set themselves up with a safehouse, and then MacAteer started taking low-level thug jobs using a connected cover, someone who knows Matis Bagdones (who, remember, was a merc/driver in the Isle of Man and is now in Budapest prison).

His first gig was just taking a bunch of stolen stuff out of a warehouse. Bringing his impressive array of skills to bear, he noted that one of the guys, Soulis, was being taciturn - he was deflecting questions and just generally not saying anything. They toughs all went out drinking after the job, and Soulis was using the same kinds of tricks MacAteer was to avoid getting drunk.

MacAteer contacted the others, managed to finagle a moment alone with Soulis, and punched him in the head, dazing him long enough to get him to a second site. There, he and Ess got to work on interrogation...

...and realized he was an undercover cop. Shit.

They salvaged the situation, though, with some quick use of Cover and some other skills. They claimed to be Interpol, looking into human trafficking out of Vilinus, and paid for Soulis' emergency dental work. He was glad to have the help, and was apparently reporting to just one CO (probably to avoid leaks getting him killed). That gave the agents an in, and potentially some backup.

Meanwhile, Parker wrote Sedillo a letter and asked about reproduction - the agents had learned that Hajnal supposedly had a son, which they thought gave them a timeline for when he was turned. But if Sedillo was right, if these vampires could reproduce, that didn't necessarily mean anything - he could be hundreds of years old. She wrote back and said that it might very well be possible for a vampire to have a child with a human, but she wasn't sure, genetically, what that would look like. Likewise, the child of two vampires would probably be a vampire from birth, but it was hard to know without experiments that she wasn't equipped to do.

The agents also noticed a lot of interference in wireless communication in Vilinus, which is weird because it's usually really good in Europe. They took a few days to build a device that could analyze and track the disturbance, and then drove around the city following the boops. This led them north, into a state park, and eventually down a disused dirt road. They concealed their van and waited. Hours later, a Hummer emerged and left.

They decided to check it out. Gambone and Ess posed as hikers (backpack to conceal the device) and sneaked through the woods. They saw a jeep with a couple of guards armed with assault rifles, but they weren't sure what was beyond that. We'll find that out next time.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Promethean in the Distant Mists of Monday

It's Friday, you see, and I kept meaning to do this write-up but I've been sick and at work.

Anydangway, last time, we had a bunch milestones. This time, we were missing Feather (because Michelle was sicker than me so she stayed home).

Skip is still at the hospital and Parris had whispered "Nergal" in her sleep. When she wakes up, Skip tries to ask her about it, just to see if she remembered something from a dream, but Skip is not the most socially adept of Prometheans at the best of time and winds up putting her into Disquiet. Parris kinda smiles and nods, asks for a nurse, and Skip gets the distinct feeling he's no longer welcome. He heads for home, calling ahead to have Enoch send Feather out to watch over Parris.

Meanwhile, Avalon, Matt, and Grimm are headed across the river with Charon to get some juice back. They ask about the meeting coming up with the various supernatural folks in the city, but Charon still doesn't know where it's going to be (lots of political nuance there he isn't privy to). They get to the power station and juice up, and then feel Azoth call to Azoth. They followed it back and meet an Osiran, also there for a top-off. Matt uses Heed the Call to take his Measure, and the man introduces himself as Paul DeVries.

The throng chats with him; he's been in New Orleans for a while and he's acquainted with Sicky, Barbara, and (formerly) Papillion. He owns a big house outside of the French Quarter and is a venture capitalist, which surprises the characters (they're used to Prometheans being poor). He talks with them, asking some rather probing questions, including asking Grimm which of the throng he finds the most troublesome (Skip, of course), but then points out that if the problem was really Nergal, and Nergal is gone, what's the trouble?

He gives them a lift in his boat and offers to take them back to his place for dessert. Avalon is game (she sees in him a direction for her Pilgrimage), but Matt wants to head back to the town to check on Parris. He puts it to Grimm to break the tie, and Grimm, uncomfortable, agrees with Matt. DeVries shrugs and drives them back. The Prometheans head back to the storefront (after Matt checks in with Feather).

Skip and Enoch are at the storefront with Sicky (Sicky is bouncing a ball against the wall like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape; turns out Sicky used to hole up in a Blockbuster store at night and watch movies). They talk and Skip reveals that he doesn't really know all that much about Nergal - where he came from, what he wanted, where he went, even what he was. They call Barbara to come over and she says that based on the description Skip gave, Nergal sounds like a spirit of chaos or mischief, but without seeing him it was hard to know. He might not have been able to follow Skip into the Hedge when he flew off the mountain, but again, who can say?

The others arrive in the midst of this, and Grimm wonders if Nergal might be the spirit that was now driving Red, but isn't sure if that was the kind of spirit that worked with "the Bound." It's late, so the Prometheans bed down for the night.

In the morning, Avalon calls DeVries to hang out, and he comes to get her and takes her out on his boat. They head out into the gulf to go swimming, and Avalon notes that DeVris is missing his genitals (it's traditional for some forms of the Osiran creation ritual; DeVries doesn't seem bothered). They swim and talk for a bit, and then DeVries gets a call. At first he refuses whatever it is the caller asks, but then something changes his mind. He informs Avalon that tonight, he'll be hosting a meeting, and she can just come back to the house with him and get ready. He's sure he has something she can wear.

The others spend the day doing...things. Enoch continues work on his Athanor, while Grimm pesters. Grimm also reflects that his choice not to go with DeVries was counter to his Refinement, and falters a bit on his Pilgrimage; he sticks with it, but is a little unsteady. Skip heads to the library to research spirit summoning and occult stuff, but isn't able to find much of real use. He calls Charon, who recommends he talk to Jesse Cartwright at the meeting - Jesse's a ghost and spirit hunter and a decent sort.

Sicky and Matt spend the day walking around the city noting any remaining Pilgrim Marks for Matt's atlas, and get back in time to learn that the meeting is tonight at DeVries' house. Sicky kind of blanches a little; last time it was there a werewolf kinda went nuts and ripped the place up a bit. His name was Jesse. "Cartwright?" asks Skip. "I don't know," says Sicky. "I just knew him as Jesse Burning-Bones." "Great."

(Sicky also mentions that while werewolves don't succumb to Disquiet the way human beings do, it does make them more edgy and angry.)

So with all of that mind, when we reconvene, we'll have this big meeting at the DeVries house.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Board Game: Evolution

Finished the Chill game a little early yesterday, so tried this game out.

The Game: Evolution
The Publisher: North Star Games
Time: About an hour
Players: Me, +Michelle+Dirty Heart+Jessica

Time for the fittest to do a little survivin'.
Game Play: The idea here is to guide your various species to dominance. This involves making sure they get enough to eat, and have the right combination of traits to survive whatever predators might be out there.

Players start off rounds playing one trait card into the middle (the watering hole). Then, they play trait cards on their species, taking them from nondescript lizards or whatever to, for instance, long-necked, hard-shelled, tree-climbing herbivores. Then the cards you played to the middle get flipped, and food gets added to the watering hole. Herbivores eat from that, while carnivores...well.

Sarah is not a carnivore but she's way too happy about punching out those tokens.
All species have Body Size and Population. Carnivores can only attack animals that are smaller than they are, and various traits also preclude being attacked (if you're Burrowing, for instance, you can't be attacked if you have food equal to your Population, while only a Climbing carnivore can attack a Climbing whatever). Population falls if you get attacked or if there's not enough food, and if a species' population falls to zero, it's extinct.

At the end of the game, you get points for surviving species (as measured by population), food that your animals ate (you keep all said food in a bag), and trait cards (diversity FTW).

Dinosaurs!
Opinions: This game is really pretty. The production values are off the charts, the rules were really easy to follow, and while they game does take some table space, it's a lot of fun (as compared to another game on the same subject, which was just meh).

Plus it's fun to imagine how exactly an animal with the various traits might have evolved and what cute sounds it makes.

My little menagerie. 
Keep? Yep.

Chill: Phantom Hitchhikers

Yesterday we played Chill. We were down a couple of players, but I wanted to play, and it was a good place for it.

Dylan, Edward, and Jeannie were recuperating from their last case, and BB went out to LA on business, so that leaves Dee and two heretofore unseen envoys to investigate this case. The envoys are Willa Lane (a woman from an abusive family who accidentally killed her father when he went after her mother) and Jordan Ramsey (a former EMT and now part time massage therapist who was attacked by a ghoul while on the job).

Dee had heard through her usual grapevine that a man down in Bruneau, ID (a town of about 550 people south of Boise) had had a paranormal experience, so the three of them hop in the car with Sweet Baby Jesus (the dog, remember) and head down there. They stop at the diner, run by Stewart Myers, the guy they're there to interview.

He tells them that he was on his way into town at night when a man ran out from the woods and flagged him down. The man - who said his name was Bryan - was black, mid-30s, and didn't seem injured, but was obviously scared. He told the envoys that Bryan got in the car and told him to drive, and then asked to use his phone. Stewart didn't hear what Bryan said on the phone, but when they broke the treeline and could see the town, he glanced over and Bryan was gone. His phone was on the seat, with some kind of milky gunk on it.

Stewart wasn't aware of any local legends about a phantom hitchhiker. Willa, pretty well-versed in ghost matters, notes that normally in these stories, the hitchhiker is a girl, and the fact that "Bryan" was frantic and scared might indicate something else. Stewart reports no after-effects; no harm came to him.

The envoys decide to head out to where Stewart picked Bryan up. They stop the car and wander in the woods a bit; Willa finds some stuff on a tree she identifies as ectoplasm, indicating they're on the right track. They have to be careful, though; the ground has multiple little crevasses, very easy to trip and break an ankle. Jordan senses the Unknown and follows the scent (that's how she perceives the Unknown, as a foul smell) back to a deep crevasse. They toss a road flare down, but can't see anything of interest. It looks about 25 feet deep; they'll need gear to get down there and out again.

They head back into town, and Jordan stars to feel ill. She uses Disrupt and feels better for a moment, indicating that something Unknown has touched her. They arrange with Stewart to stay overnight (there's no hotel in town and Stewart has a spare room), but Jordan is really under the weather, so Willa drops Dee at the diner to try and talk up some of the locals while she goes to buy supplies.

Dee talks with some unfriendly old-timers and the local pastor, but isn't able to learn anything about the hitchhiker. Apparently, it's not a local legend, suggesting it may be something more recent.

When Willa and Dee get back to the house, they see that Stewart is sick, too, though he's still ambulatory, just fluish. Jordan, though, is in bad shape. She's dehydrated and only barely conscious, and guess what, she's the medic. Willa calls Darnell at the bunker and has him head down, and bring whoever's handy.

Next session, we'll see who's handy.

Movie #419: Miracle on 34th Street

Miracle on 34th Street is a remake of the 1947 movie of the same name. This version stars Richard Attenborough, Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, James Remar, and Robert Prosky.

It's Christmas! And Macy's Cole's is on the verge of bankruptcy, but has managed to stave off doom for the time being. They're getting their annual parade going, and Dorey (Perkins) their...marketing person, I think fires their Santa because he's a drunk asshole. A bystander who believes he is Santa (Attenborough) steps in and kicks ass, and is subsequently hired as the Cole's department store Santa. He winds up driving a lot of consumer loyalty by telling customers that if they want a particular toy cheaper, they can find it elsewhere, which has the effect of breeding loyalty to Cole's. Which, like, that's glurgy because it's nonsense (the real response would be "OK, suckers, guess I'll buy everything at Shopper Express because I can get literally the same thing cheaper there"), but it's like the 100th most glurgy thing in the movie, so let's move on.

Dorey is an overworked single mom, but her neighbor and...boyfriend? Bryan (McDermott) is clearly in love with her and basically helps raise Dorey's precocious daughter Susan (Wilson). Much of the initial plot revolves are whether Susan believes in Santa; Dorey very reasonably tells her Santa isn't real, while Bryan insists that he is and hey, maybe that kindly old gent playing Santa at Cole's really is Santa, like he says!

Eventually, the eeeeeeevil representatives of Shopper Express (James Remar and Jane Leeves) conspire to get Santa arrested and then committed, and he winds up trial with the judge (Prosky) not really wanting say the old guy is nuts and sending him away, but not having a lot of choice (except that this being post-Reagan, if you're mentally ill but not an active threat they kick your ass straight out, so WHY IS THIS EVEN AN ISSUE), and then, I'm not kidding, he decides that since the words "in God we trust" are on money, that means the Federal Treasury recognizes the existence of God, even though there's no proof, and by that logic, the court can recognize the existence of Santa.

Fuck. You.

This movie is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the nuts. The CEO of Shopper Express is played by Joss Ackland, whom you know as Arjen Rudd, the evil bad guy from Lethal Weapon II. That's how on the nose this movie is. And while it's never explicitly proven that "Kris Kringle" is Santa for purposes of the movie's fiction, the ambiguity is never really addressed, either. Like, if he's Santa, why does he live in an old folks' home and his reindeer(?) are at a local petting zoo? Why the reference to him needing to make Susan and Dorey believe? If he's not, then where does he get his amazing Santa suit (that he's a polyglot is taken as evidence by Susan, but like, she's six)?

Add this to the weird romantic subplot where Bryan comes this close to saying he's entitled to Dorey marrying him for being such a Nice Guy when he fucking proposes out of nowhere, and the fact that "names by which I'm known" in other cultures that Kringle lists off are mostly wrong, and then there's the biggest Santa issue, which is: If Santa is real, does everyone get presents that no one bought? If so, why is believing in Santa an issue? There's proof. If not, why doesn't Santa delivery to poor kids?

I dunno. I know it's a holiday classic, I know it was fairly well-reviewed when it came out, but it just kinda leaves me rolling my eyes. I did, however, love Attenborough in the role. I love how his enthusiasm for dealing with children never dims, and of course the scene where he signs with a deaf girl (Samantha Krieger) is really sweet. I just could do without the clunky-ass faith themes, I guess.

My Grade: D+
Rewatch Value: Low

Next up: Mirror, Mirror

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Chill notes!

So, last time when I ran Chill, the characters kinda got their asses kicked. They headed back to the Boise HQ knowing that while no one died and they did save a man's life, they also inadvertently unleashed some Unknown beasties into the surrounding area, with no way to easily track them down.

Unfortunately, the Unknown is at work in other quarters as well...

(here's where players stop reading)


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Character Creation: Sins of the Father

I'm running a one-shot of this game on Friday, and y'know, I like to play with systems before I play with them.

The Game: Sins of the Father
The Publisher: Third Eye Games
Degree of Familiarity: None yet!
Books Required: Just the one, plus a deck of cards

So! Chargen in this game is mostly random, which I like (as I may have mentioned, I like random in my chargen as long as it's not randoms stats). We're making a character who has sold their soul to a Dark Lord (or whose ancestors did; I might not have had anything to do with it).

Step One: Primary Sin. Something of a misnomer because there's no secondary sin, but eh.

So I pick two cards, each of which indicates a sin, or I can default to Sloth because fuck it. King of diamonds and ace of hearts lets me choose between...oh, wait, ace means I pick. Um, OK. I guess I'll take Envy. Sounds like it'd be fun. I jot down my starting Sinful Gift (I get a bonus to take something from someone else).

Step Two: Traits & Attachments

Traits, like, personality traits. I draw four cards and pick two. 4 of clubs, 7 of hearts, ace of diamonds, 8 of hearts. Those translate to Breezy, Dramatic, Punctual (you kidding me?) and Familial, respectively.

Well, "punctual" is hella dumb, so no. I think Breezy and Dramatic sound fun. I'm starting to see this guy as kinda like Titus Abrasax in Jupiter Ascending; playboy looking to outdo his siblings (if any). That gives me ratings of 1 in Chaos and Passion. Sounds perfect.

Step Three: Relationships

Now, here I'd require a group, normally. You get four relationships, two of which have to be with other characters, but either way, you determine the type of relationship by drawing cards. So I'll just draw four cards and make up four relationships. Three of hearts (intimate friend of a friend), king of spades (devious mentor), 9 of spades (devious enemy) and 8 of clubs (hostile family).

Hang, I need a name, first. This guy feels like a Smythe. Oh, but I did a "Vaughn-Smythe" here. Hrm. OK, about how Slingham? (I want an s-blend.) Sure, Taylor Slingham.

OK, so, my intimate friend of a friend is Toni Shaw. Toni and Taylor hook up occasionally, but they've barely spoken. They know each other through some mutual acquaintance and wind up making out in the bathroom at the bar sometimes, but Taylor's hard-press to remember her last name.

My devious mentor is Danielle Aguilar. Danni is instructing Taylor in the fine art of taking what you want and leaving nothing behind. She's a professional trophy wife and sometime grifter. Presently she's widowed, but Taylor had nothing to do with that.

My devious enemy is Randal Richards. Richards also frequents the bar (where Toni works), and probably hooks up with Toni, too. I think Randal and Taylor are cordial to each other because they'd both lose if they lost their shit, but that's the game - pushing the other one far enough that he snaps without losing face. Randal's a dick.

Finally, my hostile family is Alexandra Slingham. Alex is Taylor's older sister, and Alex loves Taylor, but Taylor hates Alex - she got everything. She's got the best cars, the best job, and so forth (I think she's a Hellborn and her sin is Avarice).

Step Four: Skills. These are simple; I get one at 3, two at 2, and everything else at 1. Well, obviously my 3 should be Convince. My 2s can be Notice and Know, and that leaves everything else at 1. That was easy.

Step Five: Debt & Sinful Gifts. Well, I have one Sinful Gift already, but if I want another it adds 2 to my Debt (which measures how in deep to the Dark Lord I am). I've already got 2 Debt and I can't start over 5. I like Re-Gifting; it means I can mimic other folks' Sinful Gifts. I'll take on 2 more Debt to get it, and then I'll take one on more to raise my Occult to 2.

Step Six: Dark Lord. This is normally a full-group/GM thing, but since I'm my own grandpa GM, I'll just do it.

So first thing, I pick four cards and use them to pick the Dark Lord's traits. Maybe he's punctual (no, because I can't draw the same card twice). Well, the Lord could be Glamorous, Sentimental, Secretive, or Nihilistic. Oooh, Glamorous and Nihilistic, please.

Next, how does he communicate? He sends a minion. Cool.

What does he want for sacrifices? Contracts for more souls!

And what, ultimately, does he want? Conquering of a location. Hrm. I keep talking about this bar. I like it, actually. The bar is built over the remnants of a much more powerful demon, one our current Dark Lord can't enter (demon politics, darling, just forget it). He wants to take over the bar probably so he can raze it (nihilistic). The Dark Lord's name is...probably unknowable, but he goes by Demetrius. He's thin and dark and beautiful and just does not care, but normally he'll send someone into the bar to deliver messages to Taylor, Alex, and whoever else happens to be there.

And that's it! Kinda looking forward to running this on Friday, seems cool.