Friday, May 29, 2015

Murderhobo Game Setting

So all this talk of murderhobos had me come up with a game setting...

The Land of Fallen Heroes

Alurence was a land blessed by the Allia, Goddess of Adventure as the home of heroes and adventurers. Young men and women, chosen by the Goddess would suddenly gain phenomenal abilities to wield blade and spell, and became champions of good and civilization, driving out monsters, defending villages on the frontier and ruling the population fairly and wisely.

Until they failed.

In the 113th invasion of Alurence, a horde of goblins, orcs and demons descended on the capital, defiled the temple to Allia and razed the city to the ground. Many Alurien heroes died repulsing the invasion, but those that survived... started to change. From stalwart defenders of the people they became selfish and cruel, barging into people's homes to steal their possessions, killing anyone who would defy them and wandering from place to place bringing death and robbery to the towns they once protected. New adventurers chosen by the Goddess suffer the same fate, their personalities changing, their selfishness ramped up while their restraint for violence toned down.

In this game, you play townsfolk who's just had about enough from these wandering, murdering ex-heroes. They are much stronger then you, but few. You must drive them away from your town, but do it cautiously, for doing a heroic deed attracts the attention of Allia, and her blessing is the last thing your town needs.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Too many games not enough writing

I have too many games.

Don't get me wrong, I really love playing roleplaying games. I like telling stories and creating challenging scenarios to challenge people with. Ulitmately though, they aren't writing. Writing will enable me to reach more people and entertain more people then any session at a roleplaying game table ever could.

I got some writing done last weekend, a good long 6 hour stretch which resulted in some 3000 words written. In that time, while I was writing, I became aware at how hard it was, and how much work I was going to have to put in to get really good at writing.

That work will take time, and unfortunately, that time will need to come from somewhere. I can't sacrifice work, since that is what enables me to live my current lifestyle, so it will have to be from my games.

I'll need to prioritize my games and my community building efforts. Ultimately they will have to be subservient to my writing. I have two writing projects I need to work on and one of them has a deadline.

So for skill, and for writing I'll need to limit my game time. I do this though with a heavy heart.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Magic of the Icons

I'm writing this entry for some of my players who'll be playing Icons in next month's game. It's to give them an idea of what sort of supernatural being the Icons are. Also it's to see how well I can explain the nature of the Icons in as brief a time as possible.

1. What are Icons?

 The Icons tap into the collective endless dreams and ideas of the world where ideas are formed. This is called the Mindforge. They bring these ideas into a brief, phantasmal existence inside a bubble of malleable reality called a Chimeric Flux. (Also known as a Flux Field)
The Chimeric Flux by default extends to the Icon and all she touches, but can be extended by the Icon using magical energy. All Mindforge powers work and are fully “real” inside the Chimeric Flux. Any effects that leave the Chimeric Flux become insubstantial illusions that can be disbelieved. Objects and creatures that are outside the Chimeric Flux disappear within about 10 minutes, becoming insubstantial immediately and fading away as the Mindforge energies sustaining them disappear.

2. What can Icons do?

Three things: 1. An Icon can manipulate our current reality to a limited extent. 2. An Icon can attune himself to a fictional reality, called a Mythos, and bring elements of that reality into our current reality.3. An Icon can attune herself to the Mindforge in a dreamlike trance to enter other worlds of possibility and the dreams of sleeping humans. 

3. Can Icons bring into existance anything they can imagine?

No. Icons have two limitations. The first limitation is that of scope. For the real world, Icons can only manipulate one aspect, depending on their type. There are 6 known types of Icons:
Conjurers - Who can create any object, as long as it is wholly within their Flux Field. 
Transporters - Who can create illusory terrain, and by using lots of magical energy teleport the contents of whole rooms to other locations. 
Connectors - Who can make or break relationships between objects and people. 
Thespians - Who can take on the body, trappings and clothes of a fictional person. 
Rouser - Who can create powerful emotions in the areas within their Flux Field.
Summoners - Who can create imaginary people and animals from thin air, who exist only within the Flux Field of the summoner. 

When channelling a Mythos, an Icon may use any three of the above powers, set at the time of attunement, but they can only bring ideas and concepts plausible to the Mythos into the real world. Furthermore, channelling a Mythos costs the Icon a lot more energy then normal uses of her magic. 

The second limitation is that of effect. When an Icon alters reality, she essentially declares something that is not real, as real. This is known as a Truth. Icons only have a limited number of truths that can operate in their minds at any one time. Beginning Icons have two. Experienced Icons can have up to four. When an Icon hits the number of truths that are active she will need to dismiss one of them, or tie off the Truth to a power source other then herself. 

4.  How do Icons power their magic?

Icons power their magic through energy from the Mindforge called Breath. Like the name implies, it is energy that is breathed in by the Icon from the collective mind of humanity. Icons can hold a vast amount of Breath, but the more Breath they hold, the more prone they are to hallucinations, violent emotional swings and poor impulse control. Icons who were educated by the Infinite Symphony are trained to resist the compulsions that having too much Breath will cause. 

While drawing Breath, Icons must shut down all manifestations of their power, and enter a meditative state to draw Breath. 

5. The Mindforge is tainted

Because of events in the Great War, the Mindforge is tainted. This manifests as a special Mythos that all Icons are attuned to. This Mythos is just like baseline reality, but you can use ALL powers of an Icon, and can use them to fulfill your every whim. However using this forbidden power in a selfish manner erodes your humanity. If you lose it you will become one of the monsters you are trying to protect the world from: A Wyrm. 

6. What else do I need to know about Icons?

Icons have spirit companions called Clarion Spirits that provide their power in exchange for a repetitive task that the Icon must do called a Contract. Clarion Spirits, depending on the type of Cantor, can be very talkative (as in the case of Summoners) or quite quiet (in the case of Conjurers). They follow the Icon around, usually in an incorporeal form. 

Icons can summon a spiritual weapon called a Mind edge. The Mind edge passes through anything material but does psychic damage to any living or sentient creature. Creatures "killed" by a Mind edge become unconscious if they are native to this reality, or really die if they are not. Like all magical effects, summoning the Mind edge requires a Truth to be active.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Short RPG Games in 2015

In the time since I last wrote this blog, I've got 2 active D&D groups, with 2 more groups in the forming stage. Now I love D&D and the fantasy setting but I believe a good gamer should have more game experiences then good old D&D, so for 2015 I'm putting together some short games using other systems. These will last from 1-3 sessions and hopefully people will enjoy them. I'll be posting these on different RPG web communities in the Philippines and interest in them will determine in which order I run these games.

Most of these are Fate system games,which is a testimony to how versatile the system is.  Where applicable, the background information for each setting have been copy pasted from the PDFs of each book that I own.

1. Apotheosis Drive X

What's it like: Science fiction giant robot war drama, primarily inspired by the Gundam 00 and Gundam Wing anime series.

System: Fate Core

Humanity lives on colonies in the stars, they have built super soldiers, clones, and giant machines of war, called Titans. They war with these machines in the mistaken opinion that there “isn’t enough” for everyone, despite the huge solar relay in the atmosphere that powers all of the Earth cleanly and endlessly.
The Great Clone War has ended, with the clones returning to their colonies off planet, earth ‘united’ under the One Earth Accord. Malcontents form the People’s Collective and demand attention and independence from the Accord. The Nation of Oya, genetically altered super humans and scientists, attempt to live as neutral peacekeepers despite political heat. And everyone, everyone wants to be the first to come up with the next big leap in Titan technology. The faction with the next advancement in Drive technology, will become the dominant faction.

Adventure Scenario: "Against the Ghost Titans"
In the aftermath of the Great Clone War, the four great factions of the Earth Sphere created a secret peacekeeping force code-named Radiant Helix. Captain Cornelia Black, formerly of Radiant Helix has gone rogue and it's up to the PCs to deal with her and her squad of rogue mechs called the Ghost Titans.

2. Angel's Song - The Infinite Symphony

What it's like - It's an anime themed urban fantasy like "the Matrix" meets Arkham Horror with a touch of psychological drama. This game setting is my original creation.

System: Fate Core

This story is set in the World of the Great Work, in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, which resembles modern day Earth except that magic is real and hidden from day to day view. This is because in reality this Earth is like a fortress under siege.

Invaders enter the cracks in the walls, some are benign but most are malicious. An organization of mortals known as the Symphony, wields magic and the world's built in defenses to contain and combat the invaders and repair the damage that they cause.

The Symphony is composed of two orders of magic users: The Cantors, who wield the elemental powers of reality, and the Icons, who have the ability to make mental concepts real. Their powers complement each other to protect reality
However in the last Great War, the Icons were corrupted. Most were killed and the Cantors now manage the magical defenses alone, but are having a difficult time doing it. The Icons are slowly returning, their spirits finding new humans to bless with power, but it is tainted power, and the Icons must fight not only the enemies without, but their own emerging selfishness, knowing that if they give in to it, they will birth one of the very monsters they are fighting to preserve the world from, a Wyrm.

You are playing an Icon, a member of the Infinite Symphony, you and your rag-tag group of fellow Icons have banded together to fight a guerrilla war against the invaders while avoiding the Cantors, who see your group as a dangerous threat.

Adventure Scenario: "Tears for the magical girl."
The PC's former leader, Ageha, aka "Silver Feather" has been assimilated by a powerful Wyrm and is using her in its siege of Shibuya. Can the PCs save her before she is taken out by the Cantors and stop the Wyrm from corrupting Shibuya?

3. Angel's Song - The Eternal Symphony

What it’s like – Men-In-Black meets the X Men with a healthy dose of anime tropes. This game setting is my original creation.

System: Fate Core

This game is also set in the World of the Great Work in the Shibuya District of Tokyo. You are playing a Cantor, a member of Squad 9-2 of the East Asia Bureau of the Eternal Symphony. You have newly graduated from the Academy and with your fellow new recruits, have been assigned to patrol the greater Kanto area with 2 other squads against supernatural threats.

Among the threats you are monitoring are the Reavers, fallen Cantors who possess and consume the bodies of innocent people in order to work their magic. Though their very existence is an affront to the Eternal Symphony, they are left alone for now since other threats exist and the Reavers also help protect the world, but eventually the Symphony will deal with them since the Reaver idea of helping mortals is by dominating them.

Adventure Scenario: "Only Mother."
A young boy develops the power to rewrite reality, abused the power and has hidden in the territory of the Reavers. The players must find him before he creates more orphans from the families of the city. But the Reavers will not take the invasion of their territory lightly, so the players must deal with the political ramifications of their mission.

4. Mindjammer

What it’s like – The Firefly TV show, but with posthuman elements (sentient starships, bioengineered humans etc)

System: Fate Core

Mindjammer is set in the New Commonality of Humankind, a vast interstellar civilisation centred on Old Earth. Following the invention of faster-than-light travel only two centuries ago, the Commonality is expanding to the stars, contacting lost worlds colonised in the distant past. The Expansionary Era is a time of turmoil; as the Commonality discovers and assimilates these lost colonies, it finds itself getting “colonised right back”, its cultures and stability shaken to the core. Agents of the Commonality battle constantly against cultural contamination, and everywhere the frontier flares in conflict and war.

Adventure Scenario: "Rim Justice"
The PCs are the crew of the sentient trading starship Windrunner. After a deal between a corporacy and a colony goes horribly wrong the PCs must transport key witnesses to the octant capital for trial. But in the lawless edge of civilized space, anything can happen and it's up to the players to ensure that the key witness survives to see his court appointment.

5. The Strange

What’s it like – Dr. Who or Quantum Leap, involving inter-dimensional travel and adventures within. In each new world, you become another “You” that can be very different from the world you came from!

System: Cypher System

The Strange is a network created by aliens several billion years ago. Estate researchers believe the Strange was built to allow intergalactic travel. It’s unknown at this time what went wrong, but the builders lost control of their creation.
In the course of passing aeons, the Strange became something wild, chaotic, and without rules or laws (which is why we also call it the Chaosphere).
Think of the Strange as its own boundless realm—as a separate universe underlying our own. The Chaosphere has no direct relationship to matter and space as we understand it: There is no up or down, there is no ground beneath a visitor’s feet in most places, and merely gazing into its lawless void damages the human brain (“alienation” is the preferred term for the pain and derangement most operatives experience upon visiting the Strange).

Stable regions called recursions exist within the Strange. Recursions are like tiny, self-contained universes. Each one operates under a particular set of rules, which means that planetovores have almost as difficult a time entering a recursion as they do entering Earth. In fact, a recursion can act as a barrier for preventing a planetovore from getting to Earth, thanks to the presence of the recursion’s rules.
Earth and the visible universe operate under a familiar set of rules, called Standard Physics. But different recursions often operate under alternate sets of rules.
The Estate has classified the following additional laws under which recursions operate:
Magic, Mad Science, Psionics, Substandard Physics, and [redacted].

Adventure Scenario: "The Curious Case of Tom Mallard"
The PCs work for the Estate, an agency that protects the Earth from the threat of alternate universes. Assigned to trail a certain Tom Mallard, to make sure that he isn't doing anything to undermine Earth's security, they soon discover that he is not what he seems.

6. Jadepunk - Tales from Kausao City

What it’s like – Wuxia meets Steampunk set in a huge corrupt city.

System: Fate Core

The world of Jadepunk is one of danger and wonder. Jade, a natural resource that takes on mystical properties once refined, grants near-modern technology while still keeping that old-world feel. With the help of white jade, ships (and even some cities) sail through the sky. Red jade explosives are used in construction, while the strength of green jade shores up skyscrapers.
Kausao City is the center of the economic world. Black jade, rare and once thought merely a legend, was found in the region in abundance. Now the city is a melting pot of different cultures, all vying to exploit the area’s rich veins of jade.
But despite the glamorous stories of the fabled city, all is not well within its high walls. The current governor of the Kausao region backs evil corporations, feeding off low-level workers who are perceived to be, at best, expendable. The rich care for nothing but personal gain, and the poor have had enough.
A rebellion has begun. The Jianghu, a loose society of warriors and Jadetech engineers, have risen up against the governor in open conflict to better the position of the people and free Kausao City from the clutches of evil officials.

The adventure in this setting is yet to be designed.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Why I am an Ally

I can actually care about fashion... and scents!

I am an ally because being straight is not a choice.

I'm a straight guy. I'm probably the last person you'd think who'll support the LGBT movement. I mean most of the "traditional" gender beliefs are biased towards my gender and orientation. Why should I support it?

It's because that I see there are benefits even to a straight guy like me.

Firstly, it's made me more confident in my own sexuality. Just like being gay isn't a choice, being straight isn't a choice either. There is absolutely zero chance of me turning gay by associating with gay people because... I can't turn gay!

This counteracts a fear of "contagion" that had been ingrained into my boyhood beliefs by my conservative society. This has allowed me to become comfortable with and empathize with the non-heteronormative orientations. It's like there's a whole class of people with different life experiences that I no longer feel fearful about.

Secondly, because of this, I can explore parts of my personality that lean away from heteronormativity. Like, for example, feeling more conscious about how I look and what clothes match with what, and men's grooming products, things that are not traditionally associated with "manly" concerns. I've also learned to be comfortable in finding men attractive. I'm not attracted to them sexually (I am straight after all) but I do appreciate them in an aesthetic manner and I've grown comfortable with the parts of me that enjoy looking.

Finally, it has really opened my eyes to the fact that the world is simply more complex then we ever imagined. There aren't just two genders, there's a whole spectrum of sexuality and it's very complicated and lots of people live in that spectrum. But despite all that, these are all PEOPLE and all deserving of love and respect regardless of who they are attracted to (or not attracted to). There is beauty in diversity that exists in harmony. An ideal world for me is a world that accepts this diversity.

This is why I am an Ally and why I support the rights of LGBT people to marry those they love, to live with dignity and to not suffer from discrimination. Straight people have nothing to fear from these people because being straight is not a choice.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pipay and her Palanquin

Manila is not a very friendly place for dogs.

No dog parks exist here. In fact it's against the law to have your dog out in public without a leash due to a national rabies control law. Many establishments don't allow dogs to enter. Many condominiums forbid dogs to live there.

I can't really blame them. The reason why this city is so dog-unfriendly is because of a lot of irresponsible dog owners.

I have seen dog owners who allow their pets to "go" in public places and not pick up after them. I have seen them just letting their dogs roam wild out in the street, to harass whomever passes. But mostly I believe this is because most dog owners aren't really aware of the responsibility that owning a dog really entails. They just think that they have a friendly animal that they feed, will come when called and stay out of sight when not needed. They are not aware that pets need companionship, proper nutrition, healthcare, exercise, stimulation... almost as much as a small child.

Fortunately things are getting better for dogs. With the advent of the internet and exposure to foreign dog care shows such as the Dog Whisperer, there's a growing awareness of the responsibilities that one has to a dog and increasing tolerance for dogs who have owners that are responsible enough to make sure that they aren't nuisances to other people. I'm actually quite grateful that this country's largest mall chain SM tolerates dogs inside their malls... provided they come in proper "packaging".

Hence my dog Pipay has her "palanquin"; a dog stroller. I actually bought her dog stroller for another reason, but inadvertently I realized that it had a side effect: it allowed us to get into shopping malls where normally dogs on leash are forbidden. I wonder if there's some kind of class thing going on because usually it's the well to do people that can afford a dog stroller, and it's usually those kinds of people who are aware of their social obligations when bringing their pet out in public.

In any case, despite the pet-unfriendly nature of the city, things are looking up. It definitely isn't up to first world standards but I think with time things will get there. In the meantime Pipay and I will just have to deal with the challenges of pet ownership in Manila.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


If only our trains looked like the Chicago ones...

When you say "Commuting" here in the Philippines, we don't mean hopping into a car and driving to work. We mean leaving your car behind and hopping into several forms of public transportation to get to work. Because cars are prohibitively expensive (in real terms, a decent mid-sized sedan costs 2 years of my salary to acquire) and parking an expensive pain in the posterior (when you can find parking at all!) I prefer to take public transportation.

When taking public transportation there are three considerations: Time, Comfort, Low Cost. and you can only pick two.

Time + Low Cost = The MRT3 - The cheapest and fastest way to get around Metro Manila. Unfortunately you will be packed into a car with the other human cattle and end up having to fight for your breathing space. Comfort is sacrificed.

Time + Comfort = Uber Black. - If you want to go around in a luxury car like some oligarch politician, you can hire a luxury sedan or SUV from Uber using it's premium Uber Black service. Thing is it's not cheap. Low Cost is sacrificed.

Comfort + Low Cost = Airconditioned Buses - If you can get the modern buses with wide seats, and are able to actually get seats. (In this country, buses are allowed to cram people into the aisle between seats.) you can actually get a comfortable, reasonably priced ride to the office. Thing is since Buses must pay a "boundary" (meaning if they net below a certain amount they get no salary) they must stop at each and every bus stop, and make improptu bus stops to herd as many people as possible into their buses to hit the boundary which means you'll get to your destination... eventually. Time is sacrificed.

This madhouse commuting system is compounded by the fact that our president initiated no public infrastructure projects for the first 4 years of his 6 year term, and is catching up by initiating them ALL AT ONCE.

Is it any wonder why lots of my countrymen dread the daily commute?