Archive for September, 2008


Unintended Hiatus

September 26, 2008

Yesterday, my motherboard decided to roast itself and, it’ll probably be a hot minute (aka, months) before I can pull the funds for a replacement machine. So expect posting to slow, drastically.

In the meantime, as the avatar-inspired game is coming together, I’ll probably have some neat things to say about Flag mechanics, creative vectors, etc. And a mostly done game, too.


Quick Update

September 22, 2008

Still alive- though work and school have been kicking my ass. Random updates:

– Got some inspiration down at the Asian Art Museum for the vague idea of “an Avatar inspired rpg”. Between the Ming Dynasty scroll of tribute bearers from The Kingdom of Women and Indian temple dancers, some neat ideas are growing.

– Fiddling with pacing/flagging/resolution mechanics. If you can’t come up with something better than drive to conflict/conflict resolution + a flag based reward system, you might as well play any of the 20 odd games that already do that. I’m focused on ways to control a game’s pacing in chapters rather than big endgames. Also, how to get tools for better signaling and buy-in from the group to direct stories.

– Saw Dark Knight again. Doesn’t hold up as well the second time, the sketchy gender/race stuff was more twitchy with a second viewing.

– Randomly thinking about how mechanics in rpgs can be intuitive/counterintuitive, simple/fiddly for system mastery, and how many degrees of separation are the mechanics from directly affecting the fiction.


Houses of the Blooded

September 13, 2008

I picked up John Wick’s Houses of the Blooded, and am still reading my way through it. So far:

What’s Good

The basic concept is that you play supernaturally empowered nobles (“The Ven”) in a time before history vying with each other for power.

An interesting twist is that they don’t die- they end up slumbering in a cocoon after a period of time – so they have no concept of an afterlife, which makes murder the worst thing you can do to someone… which sets up Revenge as the big thing of the game.

The system has some neat mechanics which tie together for an interesting combination. The basic Risk rolls has players narrating facts (similar to Universalis in a way) and there’s a bit of FATE’s Aspect system, tweaked a bit more specific. There’s a few larger subsystems- for managing your domains, Romance, Revenge, etc. which I have yet to read deeper into, but look interesting in terms of long term play and possibly doing generational games.

John’s voice is throughout the book- there’s lots of good commentary and advice on how to run the game, funny snarky remarks and stuff that makes it approachable. There’s also the all-important and crucial advice on the difference between playing a friendly player vs. player campaign vs. cutthroat one (It’ll be interesting to see how play in this compares to Burning Wheel or In a Wicked Age, in that regard).

Not so good

So far, the two issues I have are not to do with the game design itself, but rather, around the delivery of the game.

First, the PDF is $5. The book is $45 for a softcover. I’m usually the last to complain about rpg prices (as they have been woefully underpriced for YEARS) and mostly compare the price to an equivalent book in any other bookstore. Still, this felt a little too high and I’ve heard a couple of people put it back down after looking at the price. I’m sure a few folks might do the pricepoint themselves and figure out that printing the PDF at a copy shop might be less than half the price of buying the book. Assuming they actually know they can buy the PDF…

Second, representation wise, this kind of falls in the same category as Reign for me. The characters are described as POC, but… there’s no images of them, the homepage shows quite a different appearance, and the names of the Houses sound much more like pretty standard European names (Steele, Thorne, Burghe, etc.). It’s like the Chinese in Firefly: they’re ignorably there, blink, and maybe it was subliminal or your imagination.

It’s really disheartening to see games where the creators have complete control and authorship, not answering to any corporate PR or Marketing Department still refusing to actually depict characters of color in their games. Maybe the fear is like when Do the Right Thing released, “ZOMG! There’ll be riots in the game stores!”…

All in All

It looks like a really solid game for a blood opera, and I look forward to playing it with some folks. It’ll probably require some retooling and negotiation around the representation issues for the folks I play with, and some summarization, but I we’d have a good time with it.


KueiCon 2009: We Got This

September 10, 2008

What is KueiCon?

KueiCon is a small gaming mini-con for gamers of color who are into roleplaying games, boardgames, or CCGs and similarly geek gaming things. We’ll kick it, play games, and otherwise have a good time.

KueiCon 2009 is happening in Oakland, California, on the weekend of February 14th-16th, 2009 (Washington’s Birthday, the irony is deep, right?).

Why KueiCon?

When I first tried to launch KueiCon, 3 years ago, I wanted to have a mini-convention where I could invite my friends over to play games minus gamer asshat-ery like blackface elves, random groping and other wack shit. While I succeeded in not having the wackness, I also didn’t get most of the friends I wanted to swing through – I ended up with an apartment of 5-6 people I knew, and 20 something white guys who I didn’t know, and never saw again.

So, time to change tactics.

Luckily, over the last couple of years, there’s been an upsurge in sane geek and gaming networks which recognize that gamerdom really doesn’t give much about us, and it’s really up to us to build our own networks and spaces.

So there you go.

How’s KueiCon work?

1. It’s a friendly apartment convention.

This means it’s free, aside from your travel costs and food money. Assuming you don’t mind sleeping on the couch or the floor, you can crash here as well (There’s a couple of hotels nearby as well). Just respect the space is all. Bring yourself and a couple of games you’d like to play.

2. “Registration”

You need to let me know you’re interested in coming (also, what kinds of games are you into? That’s good to know). I have to confirm you (aka, I want to know how many people are showing up at my place). You’re “tenative” until I see an email with airline itinenary. I’ve had 25 people the last time I ran this, so I’m going to start with 25 slots as the maximum.

3. Playing Games

KueiCon breaks up games into 3 hour slots. Unlike most gaming conventions, you don’t preregister games- we get into a room, people say what they’re in the mood to run/teach/play and people break up into groups and go play. This usually means there’s 3-5 groups playing at the same time.

– Be ready to try new games
– Bring short games or scenarios that can be finished or dropped after 3 hours
– There’s lunch and dinner breaks. None of this no-sleep-no-eat marathon gaming BS. Be human.

Anything else?

Email me! yeloson at…. earthlink…dot net.


You cannot defeat my formless style!

September 9, 2008

Judd pointed out this thread about GMing and the expectations of railroading which, is both funny and a little sad.

It’s a pretty good sign of why deception based play is pretty much a bad idea and why games that recommend it are pretty much mixing an excellent cocktail for dysfunctional play.