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The Reservoir Dogs and Sad Dam (Who’s Sane?)

Friday, September 30th, 2011

An Essay From A Constructionalist Point Of View

I Play Jeff Moore’s HEX!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

I Play Games!

HEX is a one page solitaire game by Jeff Moore, an established game designer and author on HEX soon after it was created, inspired the author to issue The Character Sheet is the RPG Challenge, that has been on now for two years running, with 27: The Character Sheet Is The RPG Challenge II currently going, issued by Errin Famiglia. This game was one of the first that I ever downloaded from, and I’m glad I did. I was attracted by HEX as a solitaire one page dungeon adventure, featuring random dungeon generation, complete with encounters, treasures and goals. Its single page also holds a character sheet with XP advancements, all the rules needed for play and even the game’s dialogue: “A curse has infested an ancient keep near your town. The evil magic has filled the keep with monsters. Can you save your home from this Hex?” -a powerful hook.

HEX is an amazingly whole game, simple and clear in its one page presentation. The questions that are asked at the end of the game, should you roll 9 and Exit the Dungeon, along with the author’s encouragement to “Chronicle your adventures!” gave me the idea to write this review and include the following play record with my analysis.

So, I played HEX and after a few minutes of rolling dice and taking notes here is what I came up with:

Play Record 1

turn 1 Roll 5 Room Monster Corridor Action Fight Result H-1,E-1,X+1 HEX 5,5,1 lvl 1 Keys

turn 2 Roll 4 Room Monster Room Action Fight Result H-1,E-1,X+1 HEX 4,4,2 lvl 1 Keys

turn 3 Roll 6 Room Treasure Action Roll 2 Result get keys+1 HEX 4,4,2 lvl 1 Keys 1

turn 4 Roll 4+1 Room Monster Corridor Action Run Result move on HEX 4,4,2 lvl 1 Keys 1

turn 5 Roll 6+1 Room Stairs Down Action — Result lvl +1 HEX 4,4,2 lvl 2 Keys 1

turn 6 Roll 6+1 Room Stairs Down Action — Result lvl +1 HEX 4,4,2 lvl 2 Keys 1

turn 7 Roll 4+1 Room Monster Corridor Action Run Result move on HEX 4,4,2 lvl 2 Keys 1

turn 8 Roll 2+1 Room Empty Room Action Rest Result H+1,E+3 HEX 5,7,2 lvl 2 Keys 1

turn 9 Roll 5+1 Room Treasure Action Roll 1 Result get keys+1 HEX 5,7,2 lvl 2 Keys 2

turn 1 Roll 3+2 Room Monster Corridor Action Fight Result H-2,E-2,X+1 HEX 3,4,3 lvl 2 Keys 2

turn 11 Roll 5+2 Room Stairs Down Action — Result lvl +1 HEX 3,4,3 lvl 3 Keys 2

turn 12 Roll 3+3 Room Treasure Action Roll 5 Result get X+3 HEX 3,4,6 lvl 3 Keys 3

turn 13 Roll 5+3 Room Boss Action lose Result H-6,E-6,X-1/2 HEX -3,-2,3 lvl 3 Keys 3


I earned 3 experience points, I coudn’t buy any upgrades to magic weopon or magic armor.

I reached the 3rd level.

I found 3 keys.

I faced the level 3 boss. (evil Vampire)

I was forced to flee the dungeon after 13 turns of play.


Even though I lost, I enjoyed playing, and in real life I feel like I gained experience points, because I learned a few things and I was inspired by the concept. Now I am working on my own game Dungeoneers RPG! Unfortunately, the “Keys and Level” system for rolling on the Dungeon table, borrowed from Doom Semper Fidelis has a few small flaws as implemented in HEX. In order to have the opportunity to regain Health or Endurance, you must roll 1 or 3 on the Dungeon table. That means if you find a Key (meant to be a “Treasure”), you lose a chance to heal -and once you have a chance to roll a 9 and exit the Dungeon successfully (keys +3), you can’t heal at all. That could be a problem, because monsters always do damage if you fight them, and you can’t avoid taking damage from Traps or a Boss. If you gain even more Keys, it becomes possible to roll off the table. It also looks like it might be possible to roll too many 7’s and quickly reach way too high of a dungeon level, and therefore have the monsters, traps and boss become impossibly deadly. Making the “stairs down” optional until the character chooses to leave the level might help this last issue.


Monday, July 16th, 2007

I Play Games!

The game simulates some of the plot from BOGGY CREEK II: AND THE LEGEND CONTINUES a movie that can normally only be survived by watching it as an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3. The legend of the Fouke Monster aka the Big Foot of Arkansas aka the Creature continues and continues in the movies and you just want it all to end. The RPG took the hokey events of the movie and turned them into a “serious” game with out the humor of MST3K or the flaws that made the movie worthy of an MST3K episode. In the game, you want the search for the Creature to continue as you explore Murky County,gaining bonuses.This is because meeting the Creature is deadly, especially if you aren’t “prepared” with the various bonuses. Most of the places you search in Murky County will either send you on further along your search, present danger or provide opportunity and sometimes all of these. Many places are different depending on whether it is day or night. This increases both the amount of possible play and the length of time you could play this single page with out getting bored or seeing the same things happen.

Murky County’s creator, Errin Famiglia, is a prolific game designer on and the person responsible for The Character Sheet Is The RPG Challenge II 27. The one page game is growing into a new cutting edge genre of role playing games, and solo RPG games, such as THE CREATURE OF MURKY COUNTY RPG definitely have a place in it.

Here is my play records for two games:

Play Record 1

Physical 6 Mental 6 Spiritual 4 Class: Professor
Status: wounded twice, horrified
1 roll 3 Lone Stretch Of Road, roll 3 day, roll 4

2 roll 3 Lone Stretch of Road, roll 6 night, roll 6 Creature Encounter
Creature Encounter:
roll 3 + Physical 6 = 9 < 11 I am wounded, roll 6 + Mental 6 the Creature is Outsmarted, roll 4 + Spiritual 4 = 8 I am Horrified

3 roll 4 Desolate Farmhouse, roll 3 night, roll 5

4 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 1 Murky Creek Swamplands, I don’t camp here overnight

5 roll 4 Desolate Farmhouse, roll 1 day, roll 4

6roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 4 The River Bottoms, roll 6 Creature Encounter
Creature Encounter: roll 3 + Physical 6 = 9 < 11 I am wounded for the second time, so I lost.

Play Record 2

Physical 5 + 1 + 1 + 1 final 8 Mental 4 + 2 + 1 =final 7 Spiritual 6 + 1 = final 7 Class: Professor
Status: wounded, stop being wounded, horrified no longer horrified,
1 roll 3 Lone Stretch Of Road, roll 4 day, roll 2

2 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 5, Old Man Crenshaw’s Place, roll 1 I am wounded

3 roll 4 Desolate Farmhouse, roll 4 night, roll 3

4 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 5 Old Man Crenshaw’s Place, roll 2

5 roll 1 The Town Of Murky, roll 5, Post Office, roll a die the next time

6 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 2 Murky Creek Swamplands, camp here overnight, roll 3

7 roll 5 Murky Creek, roll 6 The Creature’s Den, roll 5

8 roll 5 Murky Creek, roll 4 The River Bottoms, roll 5

9 roll 1 The Town Of Murky, roll 2 General Store

1 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 3 The River Bottoms, roll 1, roll 4 + 1 physical

11 roll 2 The Town Of Murky, roll 1 Local Library, roll 3, Physical + 1

12 roll 4 Desolate Farmhouse, roll 1 day, roll 5

13 roll 5 Murky Creek, roll 3 The River Bottoms, roll 5

14 roll 1 The Town Of Murky, roll 5 Post Office, roll 6 Mental + 2, no more bonus here

15 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 3 The River Bottoms, roll 1, roll 4 < 6, Physical + 1

16 roll 2 The Town Of Murky ,roll 3 Police Station, roll 6 Search Old Man Crenshaw’s Place instead.
16 Search Old Man Crenshaw’s Place roll 6 search The Creature’s Den instead,The Creature’s Den roll 6
16 Creature Encounter: roll 4 + Physical 7 = 11, I end the Encounter

17 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 2 Murky Creek Swamplands, camp here overnight, roll 1 Physical + 1

18 roll 1 The Town Of Murky, roll 4 Doctor’s Office I stop being wounded

19 roll 4 Desolate Farmhouse, roll 3 night, roll 4

2 roll 3 Lone Stretch Of Road, roll 5 night, roll 6 Creature Encounter roll 5 + Physical 7 = 12 the Creature is beaten, roll 6 + Mental 6 the Creature is outsmarted, roll 4 + Spiritual 6 = 1 I am horrified

21 roll 1 The Town Of Murky,roll 6 Old Church I am no longer horrified

22 roll 2 The Town Of Murky, roll 3 Police Station,roll 4 search Desolate Farmhouse instead,
22 roll 5 night, roll 1,roll 4 < 6 Spiritual + 1

23 roll 6 Murky Creek, roll 5 Old Man Crenshaw’s Place, roll 4 Physical + 1 Mental + 1 Spiritual + 1, no more bonus here

24 roll 6 Murky Creek,roll 6 The Creature’s Den,roll 1 Creature Encounter
24 Creature Encounter roll Creature Encounter roll 6 + Physical 8 = 14 the Creature is beaten, roll 6 + Mental 7 = 13 the Creature is outsmarted, roll 5 + Spiritual 7 = 12 the Creature is dominated Victory!


The longer you survive in Murky County, the better your chances of gaining the sometimes required bonuses to beat the Creature. The higher your scores are the more likely it is that you can take advantage of an opportunity to gain bonuses.The Creature, Old Man Crenshaw and other dangers through out the game add a strong element of risk.The Creature is a powerful and elusive boss type since it takes above average scores in all areas obtained through game play to beat, outsmart and finally dominate the Creature, while as the Creature can easily wound,traumatize and horrify you with each failed rolled.

the game is copyright by Errin Famiglia, this review is copyright 27 John Lennon Goodwin, but please feel free to copy or repost unmodified

Know Thy Enemy: Preparing To Host Your First Game

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Let me begin by clearing a misconception I, myself, used in the title. If you are hosting a game and view the players as your enemy, you are already off on the wrong foot. Although it is your job to make them work for what they get; you are not their opponent and they are not yours. You may play the antagonist, plotting and planning how to undo the players at every turn, but you are not the antagonist. You just play one on TV.

Being a new host, game master (GM), dungeon master (DM), storyteller can be a daunting task, you run everything that is not the players, themselves. This is where the initial problems begin. You may be thinking to yourself: “This is my game.” You couldn’t be more wrong. I won’t say you won’t encounter the odd group willing to do as you please, but that is the exception not the norm.

So, where do you begin? I’ll assume you’ve acquired a game you and your players enjoy; hopefully you’ve played it as a player. I’ll further assume that the setting is built in or you are using one already developed. Now comes the hard part.

What do they players want to do? I don’t know and odds are you don’t either. You should begin by asking the players what type of stories they enjoy. Some players like combat, some like social maneuvering, some like thinking and analyzing, some like to rush in. You probably won’t be lucky enough to have a group who agrees. So, try to make note of what everyone wants and what they absolutely don’t want. One method I use, it gets the players thinking in character, is to ask them what they envision their character doing in the game. At first just ask and let them set the scene, if they seem at a loss for ideas, give them specific scenes.

Now that you know what the players expect, you are ready to start on the first story, right? Probably not. You are ready to start on what will most likely be a discarded draft of the first story but go ahead and write down your ideas. As you write, think of how you will position and manipulate the players so that they get what they want and you tell the story you want. If your draft is good, consider a writing career. Everything you just wrote will not work out how you planned. If it does, you are either a savant or you forced the players into specific actions, and they normally don’t like that. It really won’t matter though since that draft won’t be played.

Using the draft you just created, make a list of only the most important ideas and concepts. You will only need one or two important events in the first game. These events should not be “the thing” that you really want to make a part of the game. It should be mildly important people, knowledge, items, etc. You want to first game to be something other than fluff but you don’t want your dreams crushed in the first game. Remember, this should be fun for everyone.

You may fill the need to mention the secret information vaguely or let the players catch a glimpse of the main villain. Don’t. As your first game, you can’t be sure how things are going to go. Nothing will anger your players more than changing the rules in mid-game or obviously lying about some of your rolls. You should be prepared to treat the first game as a learning experience. Something, if not everything, will go wrong. That’s why you hold back the “good stuff.”

In closing, there are a few important ideas I want to re-enforce and few new ones. You and the players have the same goal: to enjoy yourselves. Your ideas will work far better in your imagination than they will in play. Your first game will most likely not go exactly as planned. There are no simple and easy solutions to problems you face as a host. Just because it is fair, doesn’t mean the players will think it is. I’m not an expert, no one is. There is always opportunity learn and what works for me may annoy you to no end. So, finally, get out and play, give it your best and everything should work out.

Ironwood Media Review of E-RPG

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

I received this email from Willie Santana of Ironwood Media. If you would be interested in writing a review of their product for a free copy of the game, please let me know.



Hi all, I first let me say that I have enjoyed reading your blogs for the past few months.

I am one of the founding members (sounds more impressive than it is) of Ironwood Omnimedia Company. We created the E-RPG system and we are ready to fully release the Fantasy Sagas (shortly).

Now, I was wondering if you’d like to get a crack at our game before we release it. No holds barred; good or bad (we hope is good) we want to hear your criticism and hopefully you’ll tell your readers about it.

I look forward to your response.


Willie Santana, MGRM
Chief Operations Officer
Ironwwood Omnimedia Company, LLC

RPG Laboratory: Free Tools for Role Playing Game Developers

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

The makers of 1KM1KT are proud to present the launch of our sister website, RPG Laboratory!

1KM1KT is all about free RPG games. We publish them online, we promote them, and we even have a forum for developers to chat back and forth. This is great, but we’ve come to realize that we’re really missing out on one of the coolest aspects of role playing – development.

RPG Laboratory is geared specifically for this aspect of gaming. So much so we felt a new site was in order (plus it gets old looking at that same orc picture day in and day out).

With RPG Laboratory, you own and maintain your own section of the website where you can write campaign material, flesh out game mechanics, or talk about your project. It’s yours to work on and yours to control with as little or as much assistance as you want.

Open Source

Role playing games are for sharing. A lot of people have already invented the wheel, and the same is true with RPGs. RPG Laboratory is based on the open source philosophy quickly becoming popular in the software industry that promotes idea sharing and community improvement. Unless you’re planning to make a profit, the work you find on RPG Laboratory is OK to use in your own creation. It can be modified to suit your needs or used as-is.

It’s Free

One of the things that’s made 1KM1KT so popular is that we don’t charge for anything. The same goes with RPG Laboratory. Show your support for 1KM1KT and sign up for an account now. We need as much feedback as possible, so please let us know what you think.

Panty Explosion Actual Play: Festival of Terror

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Panty Explosion published by Atarashi Games
Available at
Read the original article in .pdf format here.

Panty explosion is a psychic schoolgirl adventure game. Each player takes the role of a normal Japanese student. One of you, perhaps more then one of you, is a psychic with devastating and terrifying powers. You can find out more about the game on our site ( or by reading the discussion over the games development from earlier this year at the Forge.

Right before Gencon I got together with my younger brother Nick and some friends to play Panty Explosion. Nick had helped play test the game and was eager to take the role of Superintendent and set up a game. I was happy to take on the role of a Student, as were Woody and Gabe, who had never played before.

I’ve been telling people that a game of Panty Explosion can be played in just 2 hours, and for this game I wanted to put that to the test. Nick was also doubtful that Panty Explosions conflict resolution system could work well for a hard-core combat scene, so he decided he would try that out as well. We played just one session before I got to busy preparing for Gencon. We picked up the game again the week after I got back from Indy.

Creating Students

First off we sat down to create some Students. I’ve found that PE works best with 4-5 players (plus a Superintendent), but when our 4th player failed to show we decided to make do with three . Here’s who we came up with.

Chio Maeda Chio is well liked and athletic. Her highest Godai element is Air and her lowest is Fire. Chio chose Yumi as her best friend and Yoko as her rival. The agendas she choose for this game are “get revenge on Teacher”, and “steal a carton of cigarettes”.

Yumi Endo Yumi is quiet and reserved. She comes from a rich family and is allowed to indulge in her interests in clothing, games and doujinshi. Her highest Godai element is Water, while her lowest is Earth. Yumi chose Yoko as her best friend and Chio as her rival. The agendas she chose are “wants to get Yoko a new boyfriend” and “wants to kiss a psychic”.

Yoko Nakamura Yoko is tougher and stronger then her friends, but is often teased because of her weight. She’s on the championship winning girls softball team and isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies. She’s also a psychic, but doesn’t know it. Her highest Godai element is Fire, while her lowest is Void. Yoko chose Yumi as her best friend and Chio as her rival. The agenda she chose is “wants to get payback at Teacher for getting her suspended from the team”.

Character creating in PE was designed to be fairly fast and simple. Gabe and Woody breezed through creating their Students very quickly, but it took me quite awhile to decide what I wanted to do.

Nick had us draw to see which one of us would be psychic. The identity of the Psychic is supposed to be secret until it is revealed during the game, but it took us only a few minutes to realize that Yoko was the groups psychic.

After we finished our students we voted for popularity. Yoko was most popular and Yumi was least.

Creating the School

Nick described his ideas for the school to us, telling us that there was a big school festival coming up where our club (we had decided we were all in the board game club) had challenged another to both a cake eating contest and a 3-legged race. Nick also mentioned that a few girls from the swim team had gone missing over the last few days. We took this to be our first hint at the Demon that we would confront later.

We didn’t want to clutter up the school with a lot of characters, but we made sure to include our homeroom teacher, Ms. Kuji. We decide that Ms. Kuji was a real bitch, and openly despised all of our Students. We also create the Canadian exchange student Mark, the only male member of the board game club.

The Game

The game started just before the school festival. We discovered that the board game club needed to recruit some more members or we wouldn’t be allowed to compete in any of the festivals contests. Running around the festival recruiting members (often stealing them from other clubs) gave us plenty of opportunities to use both our Air and Void dice to convince Students to join our club. Chio failed at her role to recruit an attractive young man, and her rival described how Chio’s boyfriend Rafu spotted her talking to the good looking student and in a jealous rage came over and started yelling at her in front of the entire school. Chio had spent all her Air and Void dice convincing students to join the club, so she didn’t have any left to try to reason with Rafu. Instead of spending her one Fire die to try to argue with him Chio spent some Earth dice to ignore him and walk away. She failed, and her rival got to describe how Rafu yelled at her some more and slapped her hard across the face. This is when Yoko decided to enter the conflict. With her softball bat in hand Yoko pitched a softball to herself and took aim for the back of Rafu’s head. She decided to use her Psychic powers to enhance the action as well. She succeeds and her best friend described how she hit the ball out of the air and slammed it right into the back of Rau’s head. Because it’s a psychic action we also described how the air sizzled with static electricity and a ghostly trail of light followed the ball as it impacts against Rafu’s head. The crowd is stunned at this blatant display of psychic powers, as are our Students, who had no idea their friend was a psychic. Yoko herself is confused and disturbed by this first ever manifestation of the psychic powers she didn’t even know she had. Later that day we would participate in and win both the cake eating contest and the 3-legged race, but the students from other classes were wary of us, and we could here mutterings and rumors going around about Yoko being a psychic.

We ended our session at that point. It had been about 2 hours, and we all felt that was a good place to stop for the day. We had gotten caught up in the school festival and recruiting new members to join our club, and had never gotten around to completing our Agendas or discovering the Demon. We decided to save that for our next session.

The next session started up a few days later with a commotion in the hallway that drew both students and teachers out to investigate. The bloody remains of a student were found stuffed into her small locker. Later that evening our Students snuck into the school to investigate the locker and see if it was connected to the missing girls from the swim team. We had decided that there had been some nasty rumors going around since Yoko’s display of psychic powers the other day. Some of the students and teachers were blaming Yoko (and us!) for the disappearances. It was only a matter of time before the government showed up to haul us away, so we had to act fast and find out what was really going on.

This session had everything that makes Panty Explosion really exciting. A really scary confrontation with a demon possessed janitor in the dark school hallways was just a preview of the conflict that came later, an all out struggle in the locker room and showers with a dog like Yama-Inu demon that could travel between lockers. To everyone’s surprise (including my own) the fight with the Demon was incredibly rich and detailed, and the conflict resolution system worked very well for what was essentially an extended combat scene. Yoko used her powers to make the demons head explode, but that barely slowed the creature down, and its head quickly grew back. After suffering some truly terrifying wounds (the Demon locked its jaws around Yumi’s head and tried to swallow her, and also chewed much of the skin off Chio’s arm) we trapped the creature under a garbage can. It struggled for a while, but without a new body to posses and drag into a locker it eventually died and crumbled to dust. We called Chio’s asshole boyfriend Rafu, who grudgingly agreed to come and pick us up at the school and take us to the hospital.

During the confrontation we got a few chances to resolve some of our Agendas. Both Chio and Yoko found clues that led them to believe that our homeroom teacher was somehow connected with the Demon and the disappearance of the swim team. In the next game we play they’ll use that information to take their revenge on Ms. Kuji. Yumi was able to complete both of her agendas in one go. Now that she knew Yoko was a psychic she found herself very attracted to the other girl. In a quiet moment between the demons attacks she took a chance and kissed her friend. Yumi has decided to abandon her agenda to find Yoko a new boyfriend and now wants to become Yoko’s girlfriend. We’ll see how that goes over in our next game.


Over all I think the 2 sessions were a big success. Each was played out in about 2 hours, which I think is the perfect amount of time for a game of PE. We also discovered that combat in Panty Explosion could be really nasty and fulfilling, and I think we’ve forever banished the idea that PE is “just a relationship game”.

This game gave me a chance to address some of my own questions about the game. In past sessions I’ve done a poor job of using the scene creation and traits rules, so I made extra effort to use them in this game. The scene creation rules were quick and easy to use (as intended), with each player contributing elements to the scene that they wanted to explore. If a scene wasn’t creepy enough we made it creepier. If a scene needed another character we invented one on the spot. That was a lot of fun and a good reminder of how important those rules are to the game.

Overall I had a lot of fun, and I’m happy to have proven that you can play a fun game of panty Explosion in just 2 hours. Despite that, I think our future games may stretch a little longer. We’re growing more comfortable with our Students and we have a lot of neat scenes to explore and Agendas to follow up on. I think we’ll be playing these Students for awhile.

Here’s a look at some things that came up during our game.

Agendas: When you start a game of PE each player selects one or two Agendas. these are goals that the player works toward during the game. Completing your Agendas gives you the option of selecting a new Trait at the end of the session, while leaving your Agenda uncompleted empowers the Demon that you have to face. One of things I discovered with this game is that it’s really important to let new players know that they should be working toward their Agendas. As a result of this I was very focused on my Students Agendas, creating scenes and situations that I could take advantage of to see them completed. The other players became wrapped up in chasing down the Demon and ended up putting their Agendas aside or forgetting about them. Which is okay. But I think I let my friends who were unfamiliar with the game down because I didn’t explain why completing your Agendas is worthwhile. Because I was the only player really pushing their Agenda the game became very me-centric, with the Superintendent introducing his Demon stuff as seemed appropriate. If Woody and Gabe had known to persue their Agendas the game could have, and almost certainly would have gone in a different direction.

Conflict resolution: PE uses a simple success/failure die system to resolve conflicts. once success or failure is determined the result is described by the players Best Friend or Rival. In this game we were a little sluggish at this first. As our Students were hunting around and trying to convince their classmates to sign up for the board game club the descriptions of our successes and failures started to become more interesting. When Woody’s character Chio failed at an attempt to recruit a popular student her best friend (Gabe) got a chance to invent her jealous asshole of a boyfriend. I think this was the point where the idea of describing other players success and failure really clicked with everybody. Woody’s second failure, Chio’s attempt to get away from her boyfriend), gave Gabe a chance to escalate the scene from an argument to a fight by having the boyfriend slap Chio hard across the face in front of everyone. The description of the action didn’t just include the physical blow. Gabe went into detail about Chio’s embarrassment at being struck in front of the entire school, and how many of her friends turned away or stood by and did nothing. Our group latched on to humiliation as a theme for our game, and almost every description covered not just the physical act that was being performed but also the emotional and social impact of the action.

We definitely went for a style of play where the descriptions of actions led right into brand new conflicts. When Gabe brought his Student Yoko into the same scene and used her psychic powers on the boyfriend I got to describe not just the action but the crowds fear and revulsion. Based on that description we decided that the entire school would become suspicious of Yoko and her alleged psychic powers, and start accusing her of killing the missing swim team. This gave us a sense of urgency and direction. We had to discover what had actually happened to the swim team and clear Yoko’s name.

Best Friends and Rivals: For some reason in our first session we had a lot of trouble remembering who our best friends and rivals were. This led to a lot of confusion and a lot of bewildered looks when someone was asked to describe their best friend or rivals action. Early in the first session we had a lot of slow down because we kept having to check our notes to see who was supposed to be describing what. We chose new Best friends/rivals for our second session and almost immediately the problem went away. I know part of the confusion came from odd dice rolls. Woody kept failing at his roles and because of this the player playing his best friend never got a chance to describe one of his successes. When Woody finally did succeed we sat around the table for several seconds staring at the player who was supposed to describe his action before one of us had to nudge him and tell him he was on. Similarly, I kept succeeding at all my rolls and my Students best friend found himself describing my actions so often that he started describing every ones actions. I hadn’t encountered this kind of confusion with the best Friend/Rival mechanic before, and I think if this becomes a problem in future games (it didn’t happen in our 2nd session) then I’ll make name tags or something.

Building scenes: This was something that I wanted to focus on in these sessions, and I’m really glad I did. In PE players work together to build the 5 aspects of a scene. This is supposed to be a quick and easy process, but it took us awhile to warm up to it. The first few scenes were mostly created by myself or Nick, but Woody and Gabe started contributing soon enough, and by the second game we had adopted n alternative system where each of us suggested an aspect of the scene based on our most powerful Godai Element. This was an interesting alternative to the normal method and one that I think we’ll continue in future games. One of us (often the superintendent) would suggest a location for the scene. Woody would tell us about the people tat were in the scene, Gabe would describe what was happening and I’d finish up by designating the mood. We would then decide as a group if there scene had any supernatural or strange elements. By the middle of the second session we had become comfortable enough with the process as a group that we were able to create a scene in just a few seconds. This led to a number of interesting scenes, including the final confrontation with the demon that took place in the schools showers with the lights out. Scene creation very quickly became a series of attempts to out do each other, and as a result the scenes became more interesting, unconventional and bizarre. We also took advantage of scene creation to introduce new conflicts into existing situations. In one of the last scenes of the game, where the girls escaped from the school and headed for the hospital) we set the scene by having Chio’s call her asshole boyfriend and have him pick us up in his car. We hadn’t seen the boyfriend character since the first session so bringing him back in created a real nice conflict (Chio ended up breaking up with him in the hospital parking lot) and gave us a nice sense of closure.

Roleplaying: This was the tough part. Gabe didn’t actually want to play Panty Explosion. The idea of pretending to be a 15-year-old Japanese girl does nothing for him. So it was kind of a tough sell. Fortunately he warmed up to the idea that PE is an adventure game, with Demons and psychics and all that. But we still had a bit of trouble getting into character (myself included) and any scene that brought our students gender or sexuality to the forefront was a little strained. Of course this got better as we went along, but we kind of hit a wall when I suggested that Yumi had become attracted to Yoko once Yoko revealed her psychic powers (kissing a psychic was one of Yumi’s Agendas). This kind of situation can be difficult, and I didn’t want to push it and make anyone uncomfortable. I decided to play the scenes involving Yumi’s attraction to Yoko as comedy, and everybody seemed to respond fairly well to that. Woody didn’t have much trouble playing out Chio’s relationship with her boyfriend, which was mostly antagonistic. But as a group we ended up staying away from the “schoolgirl” part and stuck closer to the “psychic adventures” aspects of the game. Which is okay I guess. PE can be played a number of different ways, and certainly you want everyone in your group to be comfortable with the game. And there’s definitely a… taboo(?) with some people ( a lot of people) around playing girls, especially girls that do girly things. Or feminine things. Or express sexual interests. Or whatever. In future games I want to be able to show my fellow players that it’s okay to explore these parts of their characters, especially since these aspects are very big parts of the traditional psychic schoolgirl genre.

Combat: Nick didn’t think the PE resolution rules would work for combat. Or at least not for anything engaging or interesting. I’ve never taken a game in that direction myself so I was eager to see how it would go. A lot of people at Gencon wrote off Panty explosion as a :relationship game” (I wasn’t even aware that there was a stigma there, but apparently there is). Gabe was concerned that our characters would just sit around and talk to each other and nothing interesting would happen. Nick told us tat he would be focusing on combat for this game, but I think we were all a little surprised when the entire second session became essentially two long fight scenes. This was very enjoyable. We very quickly took advantage of our roles as Best Friends and Rivals to either inflict horrible wounds on other players or have them perform incredible acts of bravery and desperation. Every description of a success became a daring last minute save or a lucky hit with an unconventional weapon, while every failure was a near death experience. I had suspected that a good combat would rely on the players realizing that their only limits would be what they could describe, and Gabe and woody picked up on this almost immediately. we also put the scene creation rule to good use to create some really neat situations to fight the Demon in. For the final confrontation we described how a power outage had left the locker rooms showers in complete darkness. Water poured from both the shower heads and cracks in the walls as we stood in ankle deep water desperately waving our one flashlight around trying to spot the demon that was stalking us.

Of course the downside to combat was that in a life or death situation failure means death. It took a few minutes for everyone to see that improvisation was the key. Twice Gabe had the opportunity as my Students rival to describe how Yumi was brutally killed, but both times he chose instead to have her seriously wounded or thoroughly humiliated. Again, combat quickly became an attempt to out do each other in our descriptions.

Things we missed: We completely forgot about Traits. I think only one of us called on a Trait the entire game. This isn’t a big deal, but Traits are valuable and we had plenty of chances to use them. We also completely forgot that a known Psychic could not be the most popular girl, and as a result Yoko remained most popular for much of both sessions. We only took two popularity votes, one at the beginning of each session. Normally a game will have 2 or three votes, but i think this was okay because each session took place over a very short amount of time. this did mean that I was stuck being least popular for the entire game, but I rolled remarkably well and didn’t suffer for it.

Overall I am very pleased with these sessions. I think the other players enjoyed themselves, although I know Woody said he wished we had played longer. I like the simplicity of a 2 hour session. to me it gives the game a movie like quality. But I think most of the people I play with prefer a longer and more involved game. I’ve proposed that in the future we play 2 episodes a night. One before dinner and one after. That makes sense to me, although I think I may be working toward a personal aesthetic that no one else cares about.

Copyright Protection Questions and Answers

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

Copyright and copyright protection is a weird thing. Here’s how it works:

Once you create an original piece of work, you own the copyright until you sell those rights or die (lots of interesting details on the death part, but we won’t dwell on it).

Q: What guarantee do I have that I will receive credit for my own work?

None really. Although you can uphold a copyright claim in a court of law, the expense is almost never worth it. The movie and music industries are fighting this battle on a daily basis. However, before you put your work back on the shelf, I will tell you that the inherent goodness of people (or their overiding fear of prosecution) keeps most people from using your work and claiming ownership without your permission. At 1km1kt, one of the tenets of our site is actually to encourage people to take and republish elsewhere with the stipulation that they must give credit where it is due.

Q: Are there any preliminary steps I should take to secure my own work prior to submitting it to you?

You can put that little © thing and a date on it if you like (most people do), but it’s just a reminder for others – either way you still own the work. Owning a copryright to a piece of work means it’s illegal for someone else to copy it without your permission. That’s really all there is to claiming a copyright. If you really want to go crazy, you can do something to prove that you created the work first in case you ever go to court, like taking it to a notary.

These are just two of the high points – there’s more that goes on and this is not meant to be specific legal advice, but should be sufficient for most small press RPG game publishers. Theft of copyright is a fact of life, but I would encourage our readers to devote their time to making something worth stealing and showing it to the world rather than living in fear of having it taken from them. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that most of the time goodwill begets goodwill.

Cult of Cthulhu Press Presents: Satanis Unbound

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

A role-playing game with the potential for the characters to become horrible and unspeakable Gods, using their weird forms of black magic to enter the human universe and change it forever! This is a Lovecraft inspired RPG where the players have a lot of control over the story and their characters. Contains a Color Sphere of Influence system that determines a character’s personality, style, and spell domain. More than a dozen alien, demonic races – unique in the scifi/fantasy/horror genre. Innovative and dynamic mechanics for motivating characters to do evil and dark acts… also a new system called Story Alteration where players can directly influence the adventure’s path.

Get hardcopies or the free download here
Visit Cult of Cthulhu press

I Play The Battle Royale RPG

Sunday, January 1st, 2006

the Battle Royale RPG keeps to the spirit of the first movie and has most of the items found as “weapons” in the students’ survival packs.There aren’t any of the combo assault rifles/grenade launchers from BRII, though. For those who don’t know by now Battle Royale is about sending trouble high school students to an island to kill each other off, with a last man standing goal. That it was written by an actual high school student, Evil1 AKA Robbie Cousineau adds to the flavor of the game. Unfortunately there are a lot of spelling mistakes and the rules for character creation, skills and combat.The rules though simple, are not clearly expressed. These sorts of typos and errors found in other games are annoying, but they actually kind of add flavor to this game. Also, with a little work, the presentation could be improved and it doesn’t keep the game down. So, no big deal. The weapons list follows pretty closely to the first movie as does the suggested dangers and plot set up. Character creation should allow you to play most of the original students. That by itself makes this game worth playing! Especially if you can get a cut of the video that the students are shown in the first movie to have your players watch before the game. I checked and Evil1 is fortunately wrong about the availability of the movies and manga: Battle Royale and the sequel BR II are both in fact available to rent or buy in the United States as is the manga series! However due to “Community Standards” laws these and other fine movies and products may be banned within your local area of the USA. Watch these movies before playing the game for a wonderful time re enacting your favorite blood baths. This game is also a great outlet for playing out violent revenge fantasies on your class mates. Just make your class the one kidnapped into the BR program.(Because, of course in real life violence is wrong.) Battle Royale RPG also provides opportunities to create back stories, plot lines, relationships and all the drama to be found in the world of Battle Royale.