Friday, November 30, 2007

Thankfully I'm not playing Killer

By the rules of Killer, the player responsible for this may now declare my building "gassed", "consumed by arson", or "artsified by Christo", and count me amongst the dead.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

About those side trips in the past 6 posts

There were 8 PCs in the game. 2 had pissed off Izzy, their NPC mentor. Those were the two responsible for the Proclamation of Diswelcome. So, I wanted to do something nice for the other 6 PCs. And so did Izzy. So she took them traveling in Europe and in time.

Continuum has a pretty unique skill system. There is no such thing as experience points. Skills are earned via time and study, and via rolling the dice. The more you try something, the more the relevant skill and stat improve. This is true whether that's in-character and on-camera, or from the GM waving their hand and saying "6 months pass". And since PCs are time travelers, even the players can do the hand wave thing.

Different PCs got different numbers of skill clocks. Several factors went into that:
  • Some skills take longer than others to gain a clock. Like 15 days vs 120 days.
  • Izzy had the teaching skill. Any skill she possessed she could teach at a faster rate.
  • Skills were of course tailored to what the character had expressed an interest in, and whether they'd expressed the interest in front of Izzy.
  • If Izzy liked the PC, she spent more time with them. This isn't the same as the GM liking them. Liam was keeping me in stitches every session, but Izzy hated him. He didn't even get a vacation.
  • Rob's character was quite aged, and so she couldn't give him long - he might die of old age before reaching Span 2.
  • Sarah's character was in need of some time and resultant maturity, so Izzy forced herself to chaperone closely and spend as long as she could stand with her.
  • Eddie's character was a narcoleptic, and so learned the fewest new skills. He also ended up with a sloppy span book - which, trust me, his already was without the GM screwing him further.
Note that Continuum is an odd game, and this campaign was no doubt stranger than normal, even for it. Dancing and obscure Languages / History / Local Knowledge skills had the potential to pay off big. Few did after that point, but it wasn't outside the realm of possibility when I was writing up those cards. Had we stuck with this game instead of going to Amber...

This was a quite refreshing way to handle giving the PCs bonuses. In any other game, this would have been several sessions worth of experience, with no way for those who lagged behind to catch up. Accusations about favoritism and unfairness would have been warranted. But in Continuum, anyone can master any skill in a single session. All they need is the Time. Correction: All they need is the Age.

The one area I had to be careful with was Attribute clocks, since you can't fill those in automatically by spending time off-camera. To be realistic, at least 4 out of 8 PCs probably warranted a lot more Quick Clocks, but I didn't want to leave the others in the dust. This was intended to reward characters, not penalize players. (Strange distinction, eh?)

Side trips #6 - Calvin

This is also a handout from the Continuum campaign.
Eddie - Izzy takes Calvin on a whirlwind tour of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, Rennaissance and Reformation periods.It’s a smorgasbord of cultures, cities and eras. You frequently wake up in different places then where you fell asleep. Fun & enlightening, but boy did it tire you out... maybe a nap would help.
Attribute Upgrade:
Quick: mark off 8 small clocks

Skill Upgrade:
Anthropology: mark off 3 clocks
Bar & Windshield Surveying: mark off 3 clocks
Language: German: mark off 1 clock
Linguistics: mark off 2 clocks
History: mark off 3 clocks

New Skills:
Art: Courtly Dancing: write it down at Novice, based on Quick. Izzy insists you MUST go dancing with her.

Write this in your span log:
When: Where: Departure: Duration: Rested: Direction: Span:
1300-1700s European Vacation T.B.D. 90 days? Yes Down n/a

Side trips #5 - Aaron

Jeremy - Izzy takes Aaron to Spain, to the court of Phillip II. You spend 3 months touring private art collections, and have enlightening discussions with Rennaissance/Reformation Artists famous and obscure.

Attribute Upgrade:
Quick: mark off 10 small clocks

Skill Upgrade:
Observation: Artistic Details: mark off 2 clocks
Art: Sculpture: mark off 2 clocks

New Skills:
Art: Courtly Dancing: write it down at Novice, based on Quick. Izzy insists you MUST go dancing with her.
Ettiquette: Spanish Nobility: write it down at Novice, based on Mind
History: Spain write it down at Novice, based on Mind
Language: Spanish: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 2 clocks
Area Knowledge: Reformation-Era Spain: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 1 clock

Write this in your span log:
When: Where: Departure: Duration: Rested: Direction: Span:
4/15/1557 Spain Vacation 7/16/57 92 days Yes Down n/a

Side trips #4 - Elizabeth

And yet again...
Kristie - Izzy takes Elizabeth to Reformation-Era Spain, to the court of Phillip II. You spend 3 months vacationing, mostly among the nobility, but with a few exciting excursions to dangerous neighborhoods. Izzy arranges for personal tutoring for you from an incredible Violinist while you’re among the upper-class.

Attribute Upgrade:
Quick: mark off 10 small clocks

Skill Upgrade:
Acumen: Violin: mark off 3 clocks
Observation: mark off 1 clock

New Skills:
Art: Courtly Dancing: write it down at Novice, based on Quick.
Ettiquette: Spanish Nobility: write it down at Novice, based on Mind
Language: Spanish: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 2 clocks
Local Knowledge: Reformation-Era Spain: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 1 clock
Melee: Dagger: write it down at Novice, based on Body. She teaches you before you “go slumming”.

Write this in your span log:
When: Where: Departure: Duration: Rested: Direction: Span:
5/6/1558 Spain Vacation 8/9/57 95 days Yes Down n/a

Side trips #3 - Lee

And again...
Rob - Izzy takes Lee to Texas in 1721, during the brief Spanish occupation. There are two active versions of Izzy in the era - the one who’s being your tour guide, and presumably junior version going by the name Senorita Isabela Vasquez, who moves in prominent social circles. You spend a one month vacation there, getting to see a unique era, with complex transitions in the local legal system. It’s quite fascinating.

Attribute Upgrade:
Quick: mark off 4 small clocks

Skill Upgrade:
Job: Law: mark off 1 clock

New Skills:
Ettiquette: Spanish Colonial: write it down at Novice, based on Mind
Language: Spanish: Write it down at Novice, based on Mind
Locality Knowledge: Spanish-Occupied Texas: write it down at Novice, based on Mind

Write this in your span log:
When: Where: Departure: Duration: Rested: Direction: Span:
9/3/1721 Spanish Texas 10/01/1721 28 days Yes Down n/a

Side trips #2 - Emily

Another hand-out, from the same campaign and situation...
Amy - Izzy takes Emily to Spain. You hop up and down courtly Spain from 1500 to 1700 for 3 months of personal Age. Dancing every night, from formal Courtly Ballroom to Flamenco with the Gypsies. Incredible fun.

Attribute Upgrades:
Body: mark off 2 small clocks
Quick: mark off 12 small clocks

Skill Upgrade:
Acumen: Dancing: mark off 7 clocks

New Skills:
Athletics: Dancing: write it down at Novice, based on Body, then mark off 2 clocks
Ettiquette: Spanish Nobility: write it down at Novice, based on Mind
Ettiquette: Gypsy: write it down at Novice, based on Mind
History: Spain write it down at Novice, based on Mind
Language: Spanish: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 1 clock

Write this in your span log:
When: Where: Departure: Duration: Rested: Direction: Span:
1500-1700s Spain Vacation T.B.D. 94 days Yes Down n/a

Side trips #1 - Pam

A hand-out from the old continuum game...
Sarah - Izzy takes Pam to Italy. She introduces you to Evangelista Torricelli, who has just invented the Barometer. You meet a young man named Modesto, a year older than yourself, who is a student of Astronomy and Natural Physics. Modesto is a gentleman, he showers you with attention, but Izzy is always chaperoning.

Attribute Upgrades:
Quick: mark off 12 small clocks

Skill Upgrade:
Science: Physics: mark down 3 clocks

New Skills:
Art: Courtly Dancing: write it down at Novice, based on Quick.
Ettiquette: Italian Nobility: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 6 clocks
Language: Italian: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 4 clocks
Locality Knowledge: Baroque-Era Italy: write it down at Novice, based on Mind, then mark off 4 clocks
Science: Astronomy: write it down at Novice, based on Mind.

Write this in your span log:
When: Where: Departure: Duration: Rested: Direction: Span:
4/23/1643 Italian Vacation 10/15/1643 176 days Yes Down n/a

Broken Amber

The most broken character I ever saw in Amber had a Horde Quantity of Intelligent Items with "Rack and Use Spells". They were the buttons and adornments of his clothing, if I recall correctly. Cost all of 12 or 15 points, no doubt.

He once ended a fight with "I shout a command word and drop about 3 dozen fireballs on you." As you can imagine it wasn't fun for anyone else.

Trolling In Nomic

My behavior at nomiblog yesterday bordered on Trolling. It was an experiment in the power of lobbying, which I hope to never feel compelled to reproduce. This was really close to my Freebird gag. Similar design space, so-to-speak.

Interesting points that I learned yesterday:
  1. I now have a really good idea of why Internet Trolls exist. It's really scary that I found that to be fun. Suddenly I understand some of Zeev's motivations over at the Scion forums. *shudder*
  2. I hope I never do that again.
  3. Lobbying is an effective tactic in Nomic, but took a lot of energy to get that critical "no" vote. Probably not worth the effort or stress.
  4. Better to keep the game light and fanciful. Perspective is important. It's just a game, so only do that which makes it fun.
  5. It may have pissed Kevin off. I'd like to think he got the joke, but I won't know till tomorrow. If so, I owe him an apology.
  6. It really is a bad idea to make nomic rules that prevent people from voting.
  7. I think I now know why my last Nomic (this was years ago) eventually fell apart. Which means I can avoid it - provided yesterday didn't kill this one. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Take 3 Frag

It's really hard to explain how Frag and Rubber Chickens became so strongly associated in our minds... I blame Kevin.

Found these while looking for an image for My Barony yesterday.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Reincarnation in Gaming

Reincarnation is a theme I've explored several times in gaming. I keep coming back to it in RPGs every couple of years. I make sure I never hit on it in two back-to-back campaigns, because I don't want it to feel like a mandatory part of Rolfe's GMing.

That said, I really enjoy what it does to storylines. Here's some examples...

1) I once ran an Amber campaign once where the Amberite PCs were incarnations of Chaosites from the days before the Pattern was drawn. Certain NPCs were holding grudges from things that had happened in a whole different lifetime. It really got the plots moving quickly, though was perhaps a little heavy-handed, to tell players "You hate him from the moment you meet him, as though he'd already done something unforgivably horrible."

2) In 7th Sea, Sarah's character was the reincarnation of the wife of a Senator of the Old Republic. Her character was an archaeologist exploring the ruins of that Senator's villa. Her past self had engaged in a sorcery-creating bargain with things beyond the veil, would her latest incarnation make the same mistakes?

3) In my current Scion campaign, I just dropped a bombshell. One PC was captured by a Villain who didn't kill her because she looked so much like his wife who'd died two thousand years ago. I dropped just the right hints, and the player jumped at them. The villain had turned to evil to get revenge at things that had been done to that wife. He felt remorse at his own gradual corruption and dishonor over the centuries. He fell upon his sword, leaving the PC with a lot of issues to ponder.

4) In another Amber campaign way back in the day, we had one PC and one NPC who were both suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder and Shape-Shifting. When the NPC got hit with a pretty nasty metaphysical attack, she split into parts. Each healed as an incarnation of a different one of her personalities.

I'm really looking forward to one day running a game where the PCs are reincarnations of PCs or NPCs from another campaign. It'd be especially cool if they were reincarnations from multiple campaigns or a whole other setting/system. Very Moorcockian.

The future is now

40k Space Marines
Heinlein's Starship Troopers (but not the ones from the movie)
Cyberpunkers who need to go toe-to-toe with a full borg.

What do they have in common? Power Armor

Tip of the hat to Kevin for sending this video my way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Upside Down

Blogging is an artform I have yet to master. Mainly, I'm too damn prolific and wordy. The ideal blog post is short and clever. It features a single picture, preferably one unique to this post and unavailable elsewhere. Rarely do I manage such.

And even when I do, I mess it up by posting 8 times in one day. Often they're inter-related and you have to read bottom-up to make sense of them since the base concept is buried further down the page and only the odd derivations and corner-cases are at the top where you start.

Since originally posting this, I've learned more about blogging. The ideal blog post also ends with a question, to provoke comments. What question should this post have ended with?

soigne démasqué part 2

More notes from the old Continuum campaign. Same place as my last post, but far less creepy this time.

751 AD - March 12th at 12:00 noon - France - Piscean - soigne démasqué . Thespian-Midwife Corner in a Dark Ages lodge. Same as last place, couple months up. Playlist: 7th Sea Religious

Same place, but better weather. The only people here now are a couple of individuals from the dark-clothes crowd.

Fun Things:
1. Performance. They make you feel at home, put on some partly improvised plays in heavily accented almost-modern english. These are spanner dramas, never to be performed before levellers. They involve heavy use of anachronism, a few bits stolen from Bill & Ted, and an amazing multiple-gemini performance for the climax.

2. Individual Tutoring. Izzy sidesteps with certain individuals from L336 to reward them for not getting involved in the big violations. She takes them each individually to Spain for 3 months in the 1500s. It is purely a vacation, to make up for Verseilles.
Next two pages list everyone’s skill improvements and attribute upgrades
Give them all a brief explanation of societal space-time. Izzy also sketches out the time line for them in greater detail than previously.

Note: Under no circumstances does she do this for Kail or Kelley, they gain nothing. Probably, I should have Liam & Kevin step out on the porch for a few minutes while I tell everybody else about thier personal Spanish vacations.

Watched two plays - Mind and Quick rolls to understand them. Failure on either meant you just didn’t get it.

Before you leave: The Thespians help you get dressed for Rome in Togas or Stollas as appropriate.
They really get into it, explaining that only Roman Citizens may wear Togas.
While you are there, you will be Roman Citizens from a remote province. “key-wiss row mar-nuss sum” is “i am a roman citizen”.
Ladies are taught “my husband is citizen patrician”. The Thespians make them up via roman-era cosmetics, made from wood ash and red wine.

Soigne Démasqué part 1

Additional campaign notes from the old Continuum game. This played out to pretty creepy if memory serves correctly. But I also think it pissed Kevin off.

751 AD - September 8th at 12:00 noon - France - Piscean - Soigne Démasqué . Thespian-Midwife Corner in a Dark Ages lodge. This is on the same land as Versielles, but my the architecture will grow. Playlist: 7th Sea Religious

The room is lit by a fire pit on the other side of a heavy curtain. Arguing can be heard in multiple languages coming from the other side of the curtain. This side of the curtain, other than yourself is just a few crude beds.

Novice success in French or Linguistics identifies one of the two languages as old french.
Journeyman Success in Linguistics identifies the other as a now-dead Hebraic dialect you’ve never heard before.

Behind the Curtain - The room is full of people in Dark Ages attire. The style of the clothing is simple, and they seem to be split into two groups - those in light colors (greys and tans) and those in somewhat thicker material and dark colors (violet and blacks).
The arguing groups are in the center of the room, mostly on benches around a large fire pit.

Additional curtains cut off other parts of the room all along the walls. The building is a single large chamber with a thatch roof.

A cold breeze blows in the shutterless windows, bringing with it the sounds of Gregorian Chant in the distance.

Izzie steps out, and says something in old french. Everyone in light colors repeats it sound for sound. She talks briefly with the head of each color faction.

What Izzies fills the PCs in about:
This is the dark era just before the age of Charlemagne. Last of the Merovingians were just rescued from Church Assassins by the local corner of Thespians. They wished to preserve Christ’s bloodline. However, they did so without clear directives from the Exalted. This is actually the event that results in the Foxhorn Corner I’m friends with setting up in this area, and most of the Thespians and Midwives here never progress to higher spans.

Decidedly unfun things to do in the Cottage:
1. Watch a pronouncement of Paradoxical Annihilation. The worst offender of the dark-outfitted group is fragged out right before their eyes.
2. Listen to arguments
3. Shiver

So instead, she rounds the PCs up and hops several months earlier. Same place, but better weather and no discord.

Amber percentages on my brain

Wow, Jeremy, you really set me off. Okay, off the top of my head, I can name 20 players (Initials to make sure I'm counting right: AC, PL, SW, RB - not me, JM, HS, JL, C?, JD, SR, RL, EJ, EE, SB, LR, RD, AD, A?, GG, CJ) for whom one of my campaigns was their first Amber experience. There may even be more than that, but those are the ones I can think of.

This suggests to me that if you grab 100 random people with no Amber familiarity, and throw them in a campaign:
95 will make characters that have never been to Amber before.
90 will be an orphan or know for certain that at least one parent is dead
85 will choose that they've never knowingly met an Amberite before the first session
75 will play apparent shadowlings who don't know their Amber or Chaos Heritage
70 will take Sorcery and/or Shapeshifting but avoid Pattern and Logrus
60 will play characters taken directly from some other game, movie or TV show
50 will decide the other players are their enemies and try to kill their characters
45 will play a tech-based character despite the game providing no mechanics for it
40 will have Amber Devotees
35 will try to kill another PC no later than the 3rd session
30 will buy a ton of powers and relics they never learn to use
25 will make non-human characters
25 will take an item or follower with "danger sense" so the GM can't surprise them
20 will have Pattern - Only 20% of new players choose pattern at character creation!
15 will have Chaos Devotees
15 will have at least one Star Destroyer orbiting their homeworld
15 will choose to be an Amberite and have their Amberite heritage known publicly
10 will start with Advanced Shapeshifting
10 will have a PC twin
5 will be a Parachuting Narwhal. :)
0 will make a character that knows and loves both of their living (NPC) parents

80 will voice to me that they regret at least one of the decisions within 3 months.
60 of them will make one or more of those same decisions even if the GM says "I've been running Amber for 10 (or 15) years, and I've seen a lot of players do the same things, and I think you'll find you're going to be very unhappy with that decision. Would you please play an Amberite?"

I'm not including throne wars and store events in any of those figures, as that would at least double the count as well as force me to remember details on people I only gamed with for a few hours. Besides, in a Throne War I tend to give a lot fewer options for character creation and mandate every PC be part of the royal family.

Addendum Re: Amber Noobs

Additional thoughts stemming from this earlier post...

I'll go so far as to say there is a mathematical equation to determine what percent of new players drop out of a given Amber campaign in less than 2 months. That math is:
(Number of New Players in THIS campaign) squared, times 5.
So with 1 new player, they likely fall in love the game. (only 5% chance to drop)
With 2 new players, odds are still good. (20% chance of dropping each)
But once you hit 3 or more newbies in the campaign simultaneously, somebodies going home unhappy.
In fact if you start a campaign with 4 people who've never played Amber before, it's almost guaranteed that one of them won't come back for the second session, and you'll be damn lucky if you manage to salvage any of them for the long run. You just can't give them the attention and structure they (and the game) need.

This equation, and the entirety of the previous post, is talking about mid- to long- term Amber Campaigns. Throne Wars are their own animal. For a Throne War, theres nothing wrong with the chaos and shallowness-of-setting that goes with having multiple players who are unfamiliar with the game. If your point is to wrap up the entire storyline in less than 6 hours, you'll have to gloss over a lot of the details anyway.

Only play Amber with Amber fans

I am of the opinion now that all good Amber campaigns include no more than one player who has never: played the game before and/or read the first five novels of the series. That's the conclusion I've come to: "Only play Amber with Amber fans". Kinda sad in that it renders it nigh impossible to ever grow the game's following.

A long-term fan knows the world, and cares about the setting. When you mention Tir'Na'Nog'Th, they know how it works, even if they (like me) can't spell it. If forced to invade or defend Amber, they can dream up multiple plans. Fans of the books tend to spend their time in and around Amber, not deep in shadow. They have a vision in mind of what the place looks like and what makes it so intriguing. As a result, the richness of the existing setting is amplified, not suppressed.

When they do go wandering through shadow, they're looking for places that feel like Arthurian England, Upstate New York in the 70's, or that weird Tower that Brand is locked in. Maybe that gives way to Pharaohnic Eqypt, David Bowie's Labyrinth, and Los Angeles, but it doesn't clash much against the existing backdrop. They don't tend to go looking for Coruscant, Superman's Ice Cave, or that place where Marvin the Martian keeps his Eludium Pu-36 Space Modulator.

Most importantly, a fan of the novels cares about the Royal Family. They already hate and love Fiona, Julian, Corwin, Benedict, etc. Given a chance, they'll gladly chew-the-fat Zelazny-style (or at least Tarantino-style, which is close enough) with the existing NPCs. They've decided who's their favorites, and will approach them (of their own accord) with preconceived notions that are sometimes spot-0n and sometimes deathly dangerous. When a big NPC does something sinister, a long-term Amber fan doesn't kill them. The long-term Amber fan has them banished, imprisoned, tortured, dismembered, blinded, etc, so that proper villains can recur until what feels like it must be the final reel.

A new player, who hasn't read the books, tends to shy away from those NPCs. They never trump anyone but their fellow players, or MAYBE their Amberite Parent every 5th session or so. The first time someone stands in their way, they immediately go lethal like it's just another monster to kill in D&D. But if you don't mess with them, they'll spend all the time they can deep in shadow dallying and pursuing minor personal goals of minimal import completely unrelated to anyone else's plots. All this is acceptable if it's one person doing it. A single contrasting view point is great, it spices up the game and brings unique perspective.

But the Amber RPG is at it's best when everyone has an understanding of the setting and what makes the game tick. And that just doesn't happen with a bunch of new players. The difference is so pronounced it's between the most artful RPG experience of your life, and the worst chaotic "too many cooks" of a broth you've ever tasted.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An unfair but funny post

There's a debate raging over at the scion forums about minimum damage, Epic Stamina, and the soak rules. And I couldn't help myself, I just had to post this nonsense. The images were just too funny.

Minimum damage, in a nutshell (or a straw man)

King of the giants, Utgard-Loki (Soak of 32b),

faces off against

Lt. John McClane (Bruce Willis's character from Die-hard),

and 4-year-old child.

The battle begins...
John McClane punches Loki. 1 damage.

Utgard-Loki throws McClane out the window. Miraculously, he survives after landing on an SUV.

Utgard-Loki looks at the 4 year old. He gets out his cellphone and calls up his buddy. "Hey Vrykolakas. This is Utgard-Loki. You free for dinner tonight?"

Suddenly the SUV comes crashing through the window, interrupting the phone call. The SUV, driven by John McClane, crashes into Utgard Loki at 50 mph.
1 damage.

Utgard Loki crushes the car beneath his heel. Then he picks up the 4 year old, and hits redial.

The child flails their arms ineffectively. 1 damage.

They flail again, spazzing out in a glorious flurry of preschooler wrath. 1 damage. 1 damage. 1 damage.

updated on White Wolf Wiki

Today I did a little more editing and tweaking on my Improvised Weapon systems for Scion, and then posted them to the White Wolf Wiki. I keep toying with the idea of having them grant auto-successes instead of dice, but haven't made up my mind yet.

Wiki version:
Improvised Weapons
Squishing and Pinning

Blogger version:
Improvised Weapons
Squishing and Pinning

What Happened in Versailles

This was originally two pages in my Continuum campaign notes. They've been trimmed down to reduce redundancy...

What Happened in Versailles

Met Jeane D’Arc. Met 5 or 6 other members of La Tour Jetee. Invited to masquerade ball tonight, a hunt in the morning and a play in the afternoon.

Izzy revealed the past of her & Dale. Their child was aborted so that it wouldn’t unravel causality.

Carousing - Kelly, Pam, Kail, Sean, Absinthe. Minor altercation with Count St. Germaine. Saved by 2 Grace rolls, all is well. Left without a fight, or even really being marked by the Count.

Chess - Lee plays 2 killer games of Chess vs a Master from La Tour Jetee. Human Chess, like at the Renn Fair. Game one was a long stalemate with few pieces left. Game two the local won.
Viewed Art at Verseilles. Aaron, Emily, Izzy. Dancing Lessons. Emily, Izzy.

At the Ball, multiple St. Germaines are there, each seeking a chance to speak to a PC. One asks Kail to speak on his behalf with Joan & the Continuum. He tells him he’s willing to be a double-agent, if Jeanne would just tell him what she sees his future self do. Kail is rude, and walks away.

St. Germaine tries to talk to Pam, but Lee intervenes. He tries to talk to Lee, but the local corner intervenes. 3 geminid St Germaines walk up behind Kelly, but Aaron intervenes. He can’t speak privately with a PC. I was about to give up and let the players off the hook...

On the dance floor, it all comes to a head. Kail starts insulting St. Germaine. Germaine challenges him to a duel at sunrise. Kelly swings a bottle at him and misses. Germaine jumps back in a fencing pose. He sets a duel with Kelly for 20 minutes past sunrise. That St. Germaine leaves. Kail tries to unmask another one, and fails, but it’s clear Izzy’s trying to stop him. That St Germaine tries to leave. Kail calls him out, and a third duel is set for 40 minutes past sunrise.
That St. Germaine leaves. Izzy and Jeanne are very upset and a little fragged.

Emily steps outside, quite upset. Another, younger, St Germaine shows up outside, also in a devil mask. “I believe the phrase is, Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moon light?” Kelly sees them dancing, and rushes for a tackle. “Chelsey Scores!” he cries out with success. Multiple drunken yells about Chelsea scoring. Too bad that’s an anachronism.
This St Germaine just doesn’t get it. He asks Madame D’Arc, why does this keep happening to me? She replies, “Misseur Sant Germaine, further information is not available...” He leaves.

By 9:30, every PC is rounded up back in the room they first spanned too. Izzy chews them out until 4:00 am. She’s mad at Kail and Kelly. They’ve violated the 4th Maxim. Kail says “maybe you should just send me back, make me forget and take my spanning away.” Izzy offers to take him up on it.

She indicates that we are 100 years down from where St. Germaine betrays the continuum. Kelly tackled what is most likely a Span 1, totally loyal, Comte St Germaine. What he becomes eventually makes Kelly look like a well-mannered child, seen but never heard. Germaine becomes the worst Narcissist we ever know - outside Antedessertium, Germaine is THE enemy. Your actions may well have provoked his eventual betrayal.

This VACATION is cancelled. No King’s hunt, no theatre. We jump straight to 750’s. Kail says “Vacations don’t have itinerary.” Izzy counters “note that the itinerary does not say how long we spend there, or what we do, just when we arrive. Safe Havens & Welcoming Comittees. This could be all the vacation you ever dreamed of. Who here ever thought they’d guests of Joan of Arc or Louis XIV? But you blew it!”

Start Next Session In Versailles - Playlist: 7th Sea Courtly
Use previous page to recap for anyone who left early or missed the session.

By 9:30, every PC is rounded up back in the room they first spanned too. Izzy chews them out until 4:00 am.

At various points during their dressing-down, she is accompanied and assisted by:
Jeanne D’Arc. “You were my guests, but instead you acted like saboteurs.” She serves them with papers. See the file “Proclamation of Diswelcome.” Lee can appeal in Atlantis, if need be.

The guide who took them Carousing says “I told you, if St Germaine appears, just attempt to subtly leave the location without drawing his attention. I did not say provoke a duel and attempt to unmask his Geminis amongst a crowd of levellers.”

The Musician says “Dammit, Kail, you do this after I tried so hard to keep him from fucking with you at the Bar. I went out on a limb there, I could have been fragged or killed for that. Comte de Saint Fucking Germaine, of all people! You ungrateful bastard. That’s it, I’m cancelling the tour and the album contract. You’re out of the band, SuperCress.”

At 4:00, Izzy storms out of the room via the door. Her elder self, dressed differently and looking more refreshed, spans into the room seconds later. “Grab your things NOW. We’re leaving for 751 AD in 10 seconds. Proper attire will be waiting for us on the downside.”

Some elements I really enjoyed

The Rune RPG is a bloody game of viking mayhem. Specifically it's action-packed, horned-helmet-wearing, mead-swilling, Hollywood-inaccuracy-ridden, video-game-stylin', by-the-seat-of-your-pants bloody viking mayhem. It's very different from the style of RPG experience I typically prefer. But I really admire it.

Elements I like in Rune

Everyone GMs. You trade around GMing duties in a series of mini-adventures and set-piece encounters. In a standard session, every player will GM for an hour or so. As someone who enjoys GMing and also Playing, this is a big plus for me.

Competitive Roleplaying. Here's an RPG that actually declares a winner for the night. A game were you still need to cooperate with the other players, but you are rewarded for actively striving to one-up them. For Gamists and Social Gamers, there's a lot to love in Rune. Narrativists and Method Actors may not respond so well. I most strongly identify with those later categories, and yet I really enjoyed the game.

Tools for balancing scenarios. Rune has a really solid system for balancing encounters. That system works well for combat and less violent encounters. While it doesn't perfectly match my gaming style, I really have to admire the thought that went into that system. If you've ever had to pull your punches as a GM, or didn't and thus ended up with a TPK (total party kill), it'll be worth your time to read over Rune. Game designers and those who enjoy fiddling with mechanics and house-rules will find it an enjoyable (and thought-provoking) read, too.

They published my adventure. Hey, it doesn't hurt. I really liked those other three elements of the game long before Michelle Brown Nephew offered me a chance to see my work in print. I wrote a fun little adventure with goblinoid used car salesmen and mead-soaked undead, which can be found in Enter the Viking.

Here's some in-depth Rune RPG reviews from other folks:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another page in France

Here's another page of GM notes from my old Continuum campaign...

Adventure in Verseilles - Piscean - La Tour Jetee. Playlist: 7th Sea Courtly

Fun things to do in Verseilles and Paris:
1. Formal masked ball this evening. There’s just enough time to get ready without spanning.
2. Tomorrow daytime performance at Moliere’s Illustre Theatre in Paris. This one is optional, since your lack of lingual skills may adversely impact your enjoyment. The Puritans closed all theaters in England last year, so the Illustre is the finest drama house in all of Europe.
3. Hunting. That is the level point of the lodge, after all. You could go foxing or hare-ing.

The Dangers:
Each player must make a roll to not stand out during the festivities.
Roll of acting, disguise, etiquette, stealth, swindle, anthropology. - each PCs choice.
Roll for each activity they take part in:
Masked ball - difficulty is Novice due to the costumes.
Theatre - difficulty is Novice due to going as just a PC group
Hunting - difficulty is Journeyman due to NPCs leading and coordinating the hunt.
Other miscellaneous - difficulty Apprentice to Master depending on level of interaction with NPCs.

If anyone fails a roll, Izzy has to intervene to get them out of a minor social entanglement. If a man botches a roll, he is challenged to a duel.

Anyone who fails a roll ends up marked by Count St. Germaine. Regardless of what activity they fail at, he approaches them at the masked ball. A 40 year old man with dark hair and a devil mask. He’s wearing opulent clothing and bejeweled rings.

“I noticed you at the" (EVENT) "tomorrow. How rude of La Pucelle to fail to introduce us, hm? It’s as though she fears me. I often get the impression that there must be something horrible in my yet, the way everyone tiptoes about me. They’re forcing my idle hands to the very devilry they so dread.
If they’d just tell me what they see my future self do, perhaps I could figure out a way to be a double agent and not a true traitor. But they won’t give me that chance, will they?
You’ll talk to them on my behalf, won’t you? Tell them that Count St. Germaine is not such a bad man, he merely wears the mask of one.”

If there’s a lot of failed rolls, make comments about how there’s several men wearing identical costumes at the party. Then run the scene with more than one of them.

Should a duel with a random person commence from a botch, use these stats:
Body:4 Mind:2 Quick:3 (n/y/n/y/n)
Melee Weapon (Rapier): Apprentice:5 (so it's auto hit if target has no combat skills, but his graces fail) Dmg:1/3/4/6

Should a duel with St Germaine commence from uppity PCs, use stats on page 185 [of the Continuum RPG main book].

Before you leave: Jeanne provides you with a chest of clothing from a simpler era and a lower social caste.

My players know things got a bit out of hand during this. I'll post more sometime in the near future.

I am NOT Rebecca

I am writing this post, so that I can just link to it whenever somebody thinks I'm someone else (at least, one specific someone else). A few minutes spent now will save hours over time...

I am Rolfe B Bergstrom, NOT Rebecca S Borgstrom.

Rebecca Sean Borgstrom authored the Nobilis RPG, which is a very good game and a beautiful book. She penned it under the name R. Sean Borgstrom, which I presume she did to mask her gender on the covers of her earliest books in the largely male-dominated gaming industry. That's just a guess, though, as I've never met her. Could be she just really likes her middle name. In any event, her name appears frequently as R. S. Borgstrom, and shows up in enough different variants that some fans don't memorize her exact name.

It turns out she's also written some books for White Wolf in their Exalted game line. Exalted is the spiritual (well, at least mechanical) ancestor of Scion.

I've been posting on the Scion Forums and Wiki in the past few months. And I set up my account as r_b_bergstrom, to match my email, my blogs, several work-related accounts, etc. I had no idea Rebecca had written anything for WWP at the time I created my white-wolf account. Not that I'd automatically have done otherwise if I'd known - my name is my name, after all.

(As an aside: See the angry dude on the phone with the nasty scar on his shoulder? That's me. I hope, for her sake, that Rebecca looks nothing like me.)

As a result of this quasi-homonymic similarity, people keep calling me Rebecca when they respond to my posts on those forums, no matter how often I correct them. The last time I had this many feminine pronouns aimed at me was a Halloween party in '91.

I've even received a few posts and private messages from people who wanted to say something along the lines of "it means so much to me that a writer as talented as yourself liked my house rule" or "I've been a fan of your work for years" and chances are that few (if any) of them were referring to my little part of a book from Atlas Games or my old Amber pages from back in the day. And when I reply and shatter their misconception, I'm always worried that I come off as insult -ed/-ing.

Changing my profiles to list more data about me didn't help, as it turns out we both live in Seattle, and were born within 24 hours of each other. (Thanks to wikipedia for enlightening me about the parallels.) You'd think Gender would be enough, but people apparently see only what they want.

While the main point of this post is to end confusion, the secondary goal is to serve as multiple apologies.

Rebecca, if you are aware of any of this (which seems unlikely, but ya never know) I hope you find the situation mildly amusing, and don't think it's been in anyway intentional on my part. If you are aware of it, and it has vexed you, I'm sorry. I promise I've done nothing to promote this case of mistaken identities, and should our paths ever cross I hope you'll share a laugh with me about it instead of telling me to go somewhere unpleasant.

I'd also like to apologize to those who feel confused or misled. You're not alone in making this error, so don't feel too embarrassed. I'm certainly not insulted by your mistakes - 'cause frankly Nobilis rocks and I wish I had something that cool amongst my authorial credits.

And I'll try not to giggle the next time this happens. Instead, I'll just refer you to this post.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Arrival in Versielles

Straight from my prep notes for my Continuum Campaign, raw and unaltered: (though I added a classical portrait of Joan so it wouldn't be such a daunting wall of text)

1643 AD - September 8th at 12:00 noon - France - Piscean -
La Tour Jetee, Foxhorn Corner in a Castle. This the Hunting Lodge of Versielles. Playlist: 7th Sea Courtly

When you arrive: Kail has been here before, the small library in a European castle where Dale brought you when he was shot. The books on the shelves are less faded and aged now.

A variety of masks and odd accessories are hanging about the room, as though a pack of people had just undressed from a costume ball.

A young lady, perhaps 18 or 19 years old, is in the room. She is dressed as you would expect of a MALE servant.

Izzies courtsies to her, the girl bows as befits her odd attire.
“I am told we become close friends,” says the girl.
“Your older self is a mentor to my younger,” replies Izzy.

And that’s when Izzy introduces you all to the Maid of Orleans, Jeanne D’Arc.

Louis XIV is king, but he’s only 5 years old. His mother is Anne of Austria. 1st Minister is Cardinal Mazarin. We’ll be at the Hunting Lodge of Versielles, so it’s doubtful we’ll meet any of them.
Coffee drinking has recently become popular in Paris. Parcel post established in France. Things are just starting to feel modern in many ways.
However, nightgowns have not been introduced yet, and clothing in general is uncomfortable. We are at the transition between Cavalier and Baroque styles. Everything is layered, heavy satin and velvet with lace trim. Beautiful to behold, but a burden to wear. Louis XIV will be eventually known as the Sun King. In a matter of years this lodge will become the most impressive palace in Europe, and the center of Western Fashion.

“If you run into Dale, he probably hasn’t met you yet. We should be early enough to avoid him, but I know he spends a lot of time here in another decade or so. It is imperative he not meet me yet. He and I have a scandalous affair in the 1660’s here. We both thought the other to be levellers, and the Midwives have ordered us to have zero interaction. To be clear, if you mention me to him, it will frag us both. Your interactions in this matter will be considered when I vote on whether or not you ascend to Span 2.”

Jeanne D’Arc adds: “Galileo’s trial by Inquisition was just 10 years ago, so try not to appear as witches or sorcerors. Trust me, you don’t wish to battle the church. I know this from personal experience 200 down.”

Natural Selection

Back in the 80's and early 90's, especially when I was growing up in rural areas, gamers were few in number. So few, that we'd all game with anyone who was willing. It didn't matter how odious they or their habits were, or how much you hated their personal politics. When there's 4 gamers within a 20 mile radius of you, you can't afford to be picky.

Nowadays, I don't put up with that stuff. And, unless you're out in the boondocks, no one else has to either. Gamers are everywhere. Game stores are everywhere. Now we get to be elitist snobs if we want to. And I find my standards go up with every campaign.

(And if you haven't figured out the secret to finding gamers in your area, it's this - hang out at game stores. Find out what days they get new products in, and kill a few hours there and then.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blessed Internet

Would you believe that I was just contacted by Brendan Riley?
You didn't know that he was an old friend I used to game with?
When was that?
Did you even know me back when I was managing the movie theatre?
Was that in Minnesota?
Does the State really matter?
Well how'd he find you then?
How should I know?
Weren't you the one telling the story?
Are you suggesting I should have done more research before posting this?
Aren't you at least going to share what games you used to play with him?
Do you remember how much I loved Warhammer 40k back then?
Why should I?
Don't you think a true friend would keep that in mind?
Are you accusing me of something?
No - I mean - why should I?
Statement. Or repetition. Either way, it's 15-love.
Where were we?
Well what else did you play together in those days?
The Question Game, and sometimes Kevin Bacon.
Statement again. 30-love. Game point. Your serve.
Would you quit that?
Does that mean you have something against Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

Travel Itinerary for Corner L336

In Phase II of my Continuum campaign, the player-characters were to travel down the length of history. The intention had never really been to make the game a long-term campaign (though, since they enjoyed it, that's what it became). Rather, my goal was to try out the system (and more importantly the setting), see what it can do, and then go on to something else (as in a new campaign in a different RPG).

So after a couple months, I decided to move into an end-game that would show the players all the other, cooler, potentials to the game, above and beyond messing with one's immediate future and past. That meant History, Antedesertium, Crashers, the Fraternities, The Hunt of the Sun, Aliens, Inheritance, Atlantis. The entire Kit followed by the Kaboodle, all crunched into one rapid-fire time-trip. And so, Izzy (aka the Countess Isabela Vasquez) told the PCs to pack lightly as she gave them the following itinerary...

Travel Itinerary for Corner 336
Departing 6/3/2006 - USA - Piscean/Aquarian Cusp

6/3/2106 - Noon - USA - Piscean - Physician - Rochester Clinic

9/8/1643 - Noon - France - Piscean - Foxhorn - La Tour Jetee

9/8/751 - Noon - France - Piscean - Mentor Corner - Soigne Demasque

5/12/751 - Noon - France - Piscean - Mentor Corner - Soigne Demasque

5/12/-249 - 8am - Rome - Ariesian - Physician - Aedes Saluto.

5/12/-1248 - Noon - Illium - Midwife - Ariesian - Groeg Ydy Abar A Ognise Bod 'n Lladdedig Ail A Ail

5/12/-2244 - Noon - Norwegian Mountains - Tauran - Engineer Corner - Solfjellhytte

3/20/-3241 - 06:32 - Sumeria - Tauran - Dreamer Corner - The Womb - En Hakana, Travel Agent

3/20/-4238 - Noon - Pacific Northwest - Geminid - Quicker - Snomalshee Lodge

3/20/-5236 - Noon - Baltic - Geminid - Mentor Corner - Vadistokli Arkun

3/20/-6231 - 20:00 - France - Cancerean - Engineers - The French Resistance

5/22/-5582 - Noon - Africa - Geminid - The high cliffs of memory, overlooking Atlantis
Miss a session, and you'd miss an entire historical era.

My Dear Baron...

I have been recently named "Baron of All Nomiblog" by my fellow participants over at, and so I've begun posting in-character. As Baron, I'm being most snooty, "ande I doth speaketh like yon faux Middle-English-er".

But hauling around this title of Baron just reminds me of the Munchausen RPG. There's another one I really enjoyed but haven't played in forever. Not since 4th of July in 2001, I believe. It's more of a story-telling party game than an RPG. It has more in common with Once Upon A Time, Nanofictionary and The Rocky and Bullwinkle Role-Playing Party Game than it does with D&D or Scion.

"My dear Baron, would you please tell us about the time that you, whilst armed with nothing but a 2-day old halibut and a half-empty jar of goat's milk, defeated the entirety of the Spanish Armada and the Mongolian Hordes simultaneously?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Proclamation of Diswelcome

I had a situation. My PCs were being shuttled through an area by their mentor, on their way to a major plot point. En route, a couple of them had chosen to pick a fight with two very powerful NPCs. Proper in-character response would have killed the entire PC group instantly. Faster than instantly. While they certainly deserved that, it would have ruined my planned storyline, and abruptly ended the campaign. So, I chose to get creative instead....
Proclamation of Diswelcome

Petitioner: Jeanne D’Arc, Mentor to the Corner known as La Tour Jetee, residing in the area of Societal Spacetime recognized as France, during the years of Our Lord numbered 1555 to 1720.

Respondants: The Span 1 members of the corner known as Lab 336, originally located in the State of California, the Society of the United States of America, on the cusp of the Piscean and Aquarian.
Specifically, this proclamation extends to the individuals known to the Petitioner as:
Aaron Northbridge
Calvin Eckhardt III
Elizabeth (last name is included on the document, the PCs last name is unknown to the GM, but surely known to the Continuum)
Emily Moore
Lee Roberts Benjamin
Pamela Turner
Most Especially*: Kail “Supercress” McCrest
Most Especially*: Kelly Hanlan

Position: The Petitioner and her Corner maintain they have been slighted and affronted by the Respondants. They express that the Respondants are Poor Guests, having come to La Tour Jetee as friends, and having returned said hospitality with flagrant public violations of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Maxims of the Continuum within the time and territory of La Tour Jetee.
Be it clear that under normal circumstances, the Petitioner and her corner would have struck back with lethal or paradoxical force, and, under common interpretation of the Declarations of the 5th Council, would be entirely within their rights to frag the offending party out of existence. Several of Petitioners students, colleagues and charges experienced first-stage fragmentation resulting from the public As/As Not. Be it known that the Petitioner is also a yetted General in the war between Atlantis and Antedessertium, so such secondary strikes would likely be entirely one-sided distributions of justice.

Mitigating Circumstance: There is every reason to believe that the Comte de St. Germaine, suspected narcissicist and known sympathizer to the cause of Antedessertium, was present in Geminid disclosure at the time and space of the offense. History records that St. Germaine does not engage in war with the Continuum or Atlantis during the Piscean era, but his presence at this incident may be sign of covert manipulation intended to cause civil disrest between the Petitioner and Respondants. For this reason, and because of a Yetted appeal at the 23 council, Mercy is granted to the respondants. At least one of them has to live to Atlantis.

Exile: The respondants are declared Diswelcome, and banned entirely from the Petitioners Corner of Note, with the exception of the documented time when said offense was and shall be committed. This ban extends throughout the entirety of La Tour Jetee, being the area recognized as France, during the years of Our Lord numbered 1555 to 1720. The sole exception being from 9/8/1643, 11:59 to 9/9/1643 04:15, the Date of Violation resulting in Proclamation. Additional complication will be frowned upon. Willful violation of this proclamation shall be deemed as dishospitable and contemptuous, a probable act of Corner War, and a violation of the 2nd and 3rd Maxims with likely Narcissicistic intent.

*Additional Proclamation: Further, it is requested that punitive sanctions be leveled against the two prime violators involved, namely the Respondants Kelly Hanlan and Kail “Supercress” McCrest. The Petitioner requests that these two be rendered Graceless within all of Societal Spacetime until such Age as they attain Span Two or experience Second Death.

Respondant’s Options: This proclamation was and will be filed before the 16th Atlantean Council. It is recognized the Respondant’s have and shall appeal before the 23rd Atlantean Council. Further Information may be available There, but it is not Here.

I handed that document to the PC's lawyer (Lee Roberts Benjamin, as portrayed by Rob Daley) and told him to put the Appeal in his Yet.

I should mention also that "Graceless" has a mechanical meaning that Continuum players (and characters) will be familiar with. Effectively, this made them 10% less likely to succeed at every single die roll they made for the rest of the campaign, instead of needing to tie the difficulty of task rolls, they now had to beat it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hindsight is 20/20 and Amber-ranked

Counting off the top of my head, I've run 5 Amber Campaigns and 1 Amber-Everway CrossOver Campaign (and 5 one-shot ThroneWars) since first being exposed to the game in '92. Campaign #2 of 6 was pretty much the best campaign I've ever been involved in, or even heard of - and, with 5 years of gamestore retail under my belt, I've heard the details of more campaigns than you can shake a big glass dice cabinet at! That one had intense long-term plotlines, intricate mysteries, and character-development that transformed how individuals approached familial relationships in the real world.

Interestingly enough, the two most recent of those 6 Amber-related campaigns were the weakest. I've run excellent campaigns on either side of them, so I'm not sure why I'm having the issues I've been hitting recently. Perhaps I'm all-Ambered-out?

The Amber Campaign I ran in Albuquerque in early- to mid- 2007 was a major let-down after the Continuum campaign that went before it, and in hind-sight not at all the style of game I should have run just before moving away from that group of friends. I also did a very bad job of controlling the pacing. It was intended as a 6-session mini-campaign, but bogged down into 13 or 14 sessions and never wrapped up the major plot point. But, apparently it wasn't all bad, all the time. What Silence posted this list of memorable quotes from the game. Follow that link to read a few of the better moments.

In more upbeat news, all the throne wars have been immensely enjoyable, including 3 that had a dozen or more players. (If I recall correctly, participation was 12, 17 and 24 players at those three events, with 1, 3 and 4-and-a-half GMs respectively, myself being Head GM each time) I handled the crowd control and pacing elements just great those times.

I'd planned on running another large Throne War at the store before I moved, but I was so burned out from beating my head against that campaign (and in denial about moving until it was too late) that I just missed the opportunity. I really regret that. I was the biggest fish in Albuquerque's very small pond - here in Seattle, I have yet to establish myself outside a very select (and thus: small) group of friends.

Key to Continuum Campaign Notes

This will help you figure out who's who and what's happening in the other post. Consider this a Key to that post.

Those events are listed in level chronological order, covering the spans in 2005 and 2006, but mostly in the contested month of May, 2005. It may be hard to understand what's happening unless you bear in mind that sometimes the cause of something takes place at a later date than the event it caused. That's what happens when every PC can time-travel at will.

Guide to characters in my Continuum Campaign -

PCs Corner aka Lab 336 aka The Short-Bus Spanners:
Dale Dubois - NPC - PC's mentor - Span 3, but not terribly worthy, engaged in a long-running time combat with Brock that's keeping him from helping as much as he'd like with the PCs.
Pam - PC - Played by Sarah Bergstrom. Child prodigy. Nerd. Math-wiz. Unfortunate birth-mark.
Kelly - PC - Played by Liam Rapson. Ex-marine. Screw up. Flashbang! His Yet is a mess. He may be a Narcissist. The best unintentional villain ever. Liam, take a bow.
Elizabeth - PC - Played by Kristie Rice - Campus cop. Was police, but burned out over disturbing case.
Aaron Northbridge - PC - Played by Jeremy Rice - Art Professor. Chai Addict. Experiments with Drugs.
Lee - PC - Played by Rob Daley - Law Professor. Elderly southern gentleman. Think Matlock.
Emily - PC - Played by Amy Smith - Jock. Newest spanner in group, doesn't understand what's happening.
Kail - PC - Played by Kevin Smith - Slacker. Rocker. Secretly a murderer.
Calvin - PC - Played by Eddie Dethlefs - Narcoleptic. Cricket Player.
Shaun - NPC - Jock. Screw up. Member of PCs corner. Major plot device.

Major NPCs -
ProfG/E - NPC - Minor Villain - Narcissist, but incompetant - Being used by Brock - Math professor at the college. Had two names in campaign, one from when he fought Hitler, the other from when he hid from Continuum after killing Hitler. So, in one sense he's a good guy, and the Continuum is evil. He's now mostly hiding out, but runs afoul of the PCs when Kelly blows it trying to find out if he's a time-traveller.
Roger - NPC - Span 3+ - Investigating ProfG/E, Brock and Dale. Needs to know who the real villain is.
Brock - NPC - Real Villain - Next to zero screen time in Phase I - Real sicko - Using ProfG/E - Engaged in multi-century time combat with Dale
Izzy, aka Countess Isabella - NPC - PCs new mentor after Dale screws up. She's a Span 4, and acts quickly and decisively. She becomes instrumental in Phase II.

Minor NPCs and red-herrings:
Lana - NPC - Leveler - Grad student. Unaware her mentor (ProfG/E) can time-travel. She has a large role, but is mostly a red herring, and opportunity for Kelly to fail.
ProfG/E's TA - NPC - Leveler - Tool of ProfG/E. Teacher's Aide. Does his grading, unaware Prof is a villain.
Jennifer - NPC - Minor character. Friend of Emily. Tool of PCs for a scene or two.
Homeless Man - NPC - Poor drug-adled crazy man who keeps almost witnessing Spanning.
Pam's HighSchool Nemesis - NPC - Never occurs on-screen, but did horrible things to Pam the previous year that motivate certain actions.

L336 - Location - Restricted Access Laboratory that is PCs "Corner" or HQ. Whenever a scene is here, it includes all of the PCs corner (Dale, Shaun, + all PCs) unless otherwise specified.
Lab 337 - Location - Restricted Access Laboratory that is Brock's HQ - Junior (white-period) PCs are there, being experimented on by Brock. He's the one who taught them to Span, but most have Yet of being good spanners (Kelly's just a screw up). Nuclear isotopes and EM fields prevent spanning in.
Rochester Clinic - Corner in Aquarian Age that Izzy takes PCs to in an effort to get them away from Brock's influence. This starts Phase II.

Astute observers will note: Parts of this plot were taken from a scenario synopsis in the main Continuum RPG, but then fit into a larger more sinister context. To make it worse, that's a Span II scenario, and I threw it at newbies. I also played with an twisted subtheme of Continuum - the "good guys" are often immoral an unethical, but they survive to write the history books. Dirty, rotten, bastard GM. Phase II was even more ambitious, but I'll have to post it some other time...

I expect a lot from my players, and they did not disappoint. Kudos and applause to everyone who played.

Continuum Phase 1 GM's Notes

The following is my notes from Phase 1 of the Continuum Campaign I ran last year. They'll be of most interest if you played in that campaign, but anyone with an interest in Continuum or time-travel RPGs could find this entertaining or useful. I'd rather not take the time to edit it, so it'll be a really long post...

First session begins at 16:00 hours on Sunday 5/28/06. Everything goes crazy from there. Because they can time travel, 5/28/06 is actually the middle of the dates Phase 1 covered, and the plot was well underway before the game began.

Late spring 2005:
Pam’s high-school nemesis tricks her with the vandalized dress. Pam eventually destroys the dress in a great bonfire. Elder Pam comes back in time, steals it and replaces it with a fake, heads up to 5/27/06 with it, returns back to 2005 and puts it back so she can burn it frag-free.

August 2005:
Chairs recquisitioned for lab336 building for new year. ProfG/E places a hidden luger in each chair of the batch. Every chair in the lab has a gun hidden in it.

Monday, 5/15/06
8:33 - Kelly and Lana meet at a Bar. Hit it off. All goes really well. She likes his sense of humor.
Last call - Kelly and Lana go back to Lana’s place. Stay there all night, then all day on...

Tuesday, 5/16/06
Kelly & Lana at her place, all day. Lana skips all her classes. Gives Kelly a copy of her apartment key. Mention that Lana is an Insomniac - when she finally catches an hour of sleep, she has wierd dreams.

Friday, 5/19/06
9:00 to 13:00 - Lana in Prof G/E’s class. Determines final project about statistical polling.
14:00-15:00 - Pam takes a pop quiz in Prof G/E’s class. She’s very confident.
20:20 - Kelly meets Lana at a party, and doesn’t recognize her. In Lana’s timeline, they slept together recently, so she’s very upset with him.

Saturday, 5/20/06
9:00 - Kelly and Elizabeth arrive at L336, spanning from 5/29.
10:00 - Elizabeth arrives at Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall near campus. Spots likely tree, scopes out buildings, spans ahead to broom closet in said building on 5/21.
12:15 - Mailman drops off mail at Shaun’s dorm. Kelly is in lobby, interacts with Junior Shaun. Kelly claims stopped because of cramp. Shaun says: “That’s probably a side effect of your estrogen pills”. Kelly heads outside to observe from safer distance.
12:42 - Kelly observes student worker drop off envelope #1. Tails student worker to admin button, where student starts making copies and doing filing. Kelly heads to strip club.
15:30 - Shaun finds photo #1 rolled up and scrunched in his mailbox.
16:00 - Shaun throws envelope #1 in trash.

Sunday, 5/21/06
5:00 - Pam arrives L336, note inside kelly’s room. spans off for a nap.
7:55 - On way to class, Shaun takes out his trash.
8:30 - kelly arrives l336
10:30 - emily, Kail, arrives l336
11:00 - Elizabeth spans in to broom closet at Kingdom Hall, makes a racket, heads out to corner.
11:00 - Emily visits Jennifer at apartment (on floor below where the MG-42 shows up in a fragging action vs Shaun and PCs). Elder Kelly arrives at same apartment complex, gains roof access, waits with dartgun full of ketamine. Plants note from Pam for Prof G/E. Kail is waiting 2 blocks away in van. Emily commits to attending a party on friday.
11:30 - Kelly walks over to the Kingdom Hall, meets up with Elizabeth. Camera is already in the tree.
11:40 - Elder Prof G/E arrives on apartment roof with MG42. Falls off, spans home. Spans back, falls again. GM curses his dice. Spans back, falls again, but catches self. Misses seeing Pam’s note because of all the falling. Starts setting up MG, gets darted. Taken by Em, Kail & Elder Kelly.
In process of all this, a random sleezeball hits on emily, says he’ll be at the party.
11:45 - Prof G/E’s TA grades Pam’s Quiz - “A.” Prof G/E never looks at it or grade book.
12:05 - Shaun, looking haggard, drives up with map and flyers. 12:12 - Drops lots of cash to ice cream man, starts argument with him and church workers, photo snaps. Shaun clearly knows where the camera is. Shaun buys icecream for church workers, drives away.
12:15 - Emily, Kelly, Kail, Drugged Prof G/E, Roger arrive L336. Prof G/E handed off to Roger by Emily and Kelly. Tie him to chair in Dale’s office and span out. Roger spans 100 years forward with Prof G/E before he can recover from drugs.
12:30 - Lana walks past Kelly & Elizabeth, Elizabeth shouts “you gave me Syphalis” at Kelly. Kelly wanders off. Lana gets camera from tree, strikes up conversationwith Elizabeth. They trade stories about Kelly.
13:00 - Elizabeth and Lana part company. Lana heads into Math Department, Eliz heads around back of building.
13:15 - Lana catches Kelly following her in Math Department. Calls him a stalker, and a few nastier insults. He improvs visiting Prof G/E, but that’s where she’s heading too. Kelly time questions Lana, she tells him the actual time. G/E answers kelly’s bogus question, Elizabeth is outside window. Both PCs fail observation checks. G/E time questions Kelly, who blows it and reveals that he’s a spanner and suspicious of G/E. Kelly flees G/E’s office.
13:38 - Kelly and Elizabeth span to 5/26.
aprox 15:00 - shaun passes blood drive pamphlets, feels frag because he now knows he really did intentionally skip something in his Yet. He lets it build for most a week, getting worse and worse before he goes to Pam for help on 5/28 (starting the game)
16:00 - Pam fixes her test score, spans out.

Monday, 5/22/06
14:00 - Pam in Prof G/E’s class. Gets her quiz back, it’s an “A”.

Wednesday, 5/24/06
19:00 - Shaun finds photo #2 under his door. Alarmed ‘cause team will kick his butt if they think he’s a commie.

Thursday, 5/25/06
15:29 - Shaun appears outside senator’s office with commie sandwich board and hand-outs, is filmed. L.H.Oswald reference.

Friday, 5/26/06
2:00 - Kelly, Aaron & Elizabeth span to Park across from middle school. All blow roll, takes a few minutes to find each other.
2:15 - Pam spans to Park (she botched Quick roll). Lands on homeless man, who stabs her hand - superficial wound. Pam shouts “I am the Muffin Man! Muffins! Muffins! Muffins!” Group reunites, heads to convenience store for bandages and Chai. Homeless man shouts “You aliens won’t take me this time!”
2:35 - Kelly & Elizabeth span to 5/20.
2:50 - planned rendezvous time.
3:38 they get on the bus
3:42:30 - roger gets off the bus “Thanks for the Frune”.
3:48 - Kelly/Aaron/Pam/Eliz get off the bus - 23 minutes at starbucks - span out at 4:17
19:00 - party at jennifers apartment. Social commitment for elder Emily, but not guaranteed to be in her Yet. Jennifer will be there, so will random sleezeball who hit on Emily on 5/21.
22:15 - Shaun finds photo #3 under his door. The one he didn’t show to anyone but Pam and Dale. Checks hallway, it’s empty. Considers spanning back a few moments, but fears he’ll frag himself.

Saturday, 5/27/06
12:12 - Photo # 3 is taken. Shaun & Pam in foreground. Unclear location (just outside L336). Pam is wearing her prom dress, which took some serious efforts a year down to retrieve.

Sunday, 5/28/06
10:00 - photo 4 delivered. shaun doesn’t get home to find it for hours.
12:00 - kelly gets crowbar and plastique
15:00: Aaron Northridge arrives at Gallery Opening.
15:00 - Kelly spans into l336, delivers picture and heads out
16:00 - Shaun finds photo #4 under his door. He finally decides to do something. Dresses up as a mime. Brings photos 1, 2, and 4 to Pam, since she’s in photo 3 with him. Does not mention photo 3. Talks past 17:06, fragging himself.
17:06: Two Shauns are in the Gallery. One gets thrown out while trying to find a picture of a big black butt. The second uses the diversion to kiss butt while dressed as a mime. Photo snaps. Security descends and Shaun spans out. Somewhere in the midst of it, Aaron spans back 2 minutes to get a better view.
17:25 - Aaron arrrives at L336, where Kelly, Calvin and Dale already are. Dale attempts to explain span boxes, but frags himself - double slipshank, plus a note from himself. Aaron shares about mimeness. Agree to rendezvous 5/29 by 13:38:20.
18:00 - Aaron, Calvin, Kelly go to antagonize Shaun. Shaun hit in head with lacrosse puck - black eye. Gather Pam, who has made a complex mathematical chart. All head to a pizza place.
19:00 - Talk a lot about what’s happening over Pizza and Beer. Get Shaun drunk.
22:15 - Prof G/E spans to Lana’s apartment. Pushes the buzzer, but says nothing. Lana heads downstairs and checks it out. No one’s visible - Prof G/E is watching from across the street, with a stopwatch.
22:16-22:18 - Prof G/E spans into Lana’s apartment. Grabs photos. To cover theft, Prof G/E grabs her panty drawer and leaves a trail of panties out the window.
22:19 - Lana heads back upstairs, notices panties missing. Calls Kelly, but there’s no answer.
23:00 - Kelly walks Shaun home. Both drunk, they fail to notice picture is just inside doorway.

Monday, 5/29/06
8:00 - Pam spans in, checks photo 4 before Shaun affects it.
8:00 - Aaron replaces all laxatives at walgreens with chai.
11:00 - Dale Dubois arrives at L336
12:20 - Shaun Hanover gets up and discovers photo # 5 under his door
12:42 - Shaun Hanover arrives at L336. Brings photos # 1, 2, 4 and 5 with him.
12:45 - Prof G/E arrives at coffee shop on campus. Drinks standing near counter and interacting with staff so as to intercept Aaron’s Chai order.
12:54 - Calvin arrives at coffee shop on campus.
13:04 - Aaron calls in to-go order. Prof G/E and Calvin both hear and see it.
13:09 - Prof G/E distracts staff and puts laxatives in waiting chai. He then heads to bathroom, spans out. Aaron is just walking in, so Calvin now can’t spill it without fragging Aaron and himself.
13:18-13:28 - Prof G/E is outside the building that Lab 336 is in. Probes with Time Question, identifies Prof Aaron Northridge and Pam Turner. Doesn’t probe Kelly Hanlan.
13:24 - Aaron Northridge arrives in L336
13:25 - Kelly & Pam arrive L336
13:30 - Elizabeth arrives L336
13:38 - Roger, not Diane, arrives L336, with Dossier. “Further Info...”
13:25 - Prof G/E spans into Kelly’s dorm room. Throws Lana’s panties everywhere.
14:37 - Dale & Shaun step to side room, others decide what to do. Aaron, Kelly, Pam, Elizabeth span to 5/26 at 2 am.
14:40-14:45 - Aaron, Kelly, Pam, Elizabeth return. Dale was saying in side room to Shaun “And then she said ‘I can’t hear you, I’ve got a banana up my ass.’” Story about the Countess Isabela, love of his life who he never saw again.
14:58 - Shaun, Aaron, Kelly, Pam, Elizabeth at Crazy Phil’s used car lot. Picture snapped. Kelly is holding crowbar, Pam’s hand is bandaged. Shaun is in the open trunk of a car, naked. Written on his chest is “I kiss (unflattering term that clearly denotes Pam due to Prom dress episode)”.
15:00 - Lana will approach car lot - conflict with Kelly. “Did you take my panties? I knew I should have gotten my key back from you!” Conversation ends with her waving a taser at him, and taking his notebook.
15:18 - PCs scatter to start time combat.
15:30 PC rendezvous time for Elizabeth - everyone else ended up rerouted. Any who return level find ultimatum taped to door. Izzie is waiting, and she’ll direct her to 6/3/06 hotel in Santa Barbara.
15:45 - Lana goes to a bar to unwind.
16:00 - kelly spans down.
16:02 kelly spans in
18:00 - Lana gets home, decides to work on project. Finds pictures gone. Gives desperate phone calls to Kelly, and to Prof G/E’s office. No answers?

Tuesday, 5/30
6:00 - Rendezvous at L336 - Aaron, Calvin, Pam, Dale, Lee. Dale is NOT in buckskins.
6:15 - kail arrives L336
6:25 - Elder dale and emily arrive L336. Elder Dale says this is the last one to be dropped off, and that he has no more dossiers in his yet. He leaves to do battle in the 1800’s.
6:57 - break for first sweep, rendezvous set for 5/31 at 6:00
8:30 - Emily asks time of Prof G/E - Kail watches. Inconclusive.
8:30 - the time Kelly has promised to return Lana’s stuff to her. Missing items include Camera and all her panties. Also includes her pictures for her big project, because she hadn’t noticed them missing when last she saw Shaun. Kelly fails to return to span here and return the panties at any point in the campaign. Lana now REALLY hates him.

Wednesday, 5/31/06
6:00 - Rendezvous at L336 - Aaron, Calvin, Pam, Dale, Lee, Kail, Emily.
Everyone spans off seperately.
Lee goes to watch campus security videos.
Kail learns security, plants camera in L337 truck, tech problems ruin reception, but at least the camera isn’t found by badguys.
Dale stays level, and gets magnesium for Kelly’s breaching charge.
Shaun goes to 5/27/06 to kiss Pam
Pam heads down a year to get her promdress, then meets up with Shaun on 5/27/06.
Aaron went where? RIT? Fruning?

Thursday, 6/1/06
6:00 - Rendezvous at L336 - Dale, Lee, Kail, Emily, Kelly, lee
7:00 - emily, kelly & kail walk to get disposable cellphones, and check out the apartment building where Prof G/E tries the fragging trick with the machine gun.
Lee stays behind with recordings of Prof G/E on security cameras. Makes dossiers for everyone for proposed rubber chicken isolate.
12:00 - Kail arrives l336, drops off a dozen rubber chickens.
18:00 - Pam shows up at L336, is told “Oops, you missed the meeting 12 hours ago. Writes note for the rooftop, spans down to 5/21/06 at 5 am.
20:00 - Emily spans in L336.
21:00 - Lee heads home levelly to get a good nights rest.

Friday, 6/2/06
6:00 rendezvous - Dale, Kelly, Emily, Pam, Kail, Lee. Discuss how the rooftop played out.
6:15 - Roger shows up in Dale’s office. With him is Elder Kelly and at least one other unnamed Elder PC. Elder PCs are cleaning Dale’s office. Roger wheels out the rolly chair from 5/21/06 with Prof G/E tied to it.
Prof G/E is wearing a futuristic neural inhibitor - it slows down brain activity, prevents spanning, and forces him to tell the truth.
PCs begin interrogating, Lee starts a recorder taping on the table. ProfG/E can’t lie, but does surprise them by saying “further information is not available” about Lab337.
Kail steps out to the restroom, rigs up chicken toilet prank since they wont be needed for the Prof.
They ask questions about Brock, and learn that he abducts or abducted several of the PCs. That’s when Roger steps in and says “Further Info...”.
Roger puts neural inhibitor into sleep mode. Starts wheeling Prof G/E away. Door opened to reveal Elder Kelly was listening in.
Kelly shoots Roger with ketamine dart. Long mortified pause as Roger slumps to the ground.
Dale has little choice. He slipshanks a wheellock and tells Kelly to stand down. Kelly won’t. Emily steps between them. Elder Kelly draws gun, aims at Dale’s back, Dale is unaware.
Lee gets up to refill his tea. Flings scalding water at younger Kelly. Younger Kelly fires. Kail leaps to knock Dale to safety. Elder Kelly fires. Dale fires.
Dale spans, taking Elder Kelly’s bullet, Dale’s wheellock ball, and Kail with him.
Younger Kelly’s dart hits Emily. Ketamine drops her.
Lee panics, spans away. His tape recorder is still running on the table.
Elder Kelly closes door, tells everyone in other room it’s all okay, further info..., Elders get quiet, presumably spanning away.
Younger Kelly wheels Prof G/E back over. Unable to operate the inhibitor, he just pulls it off him. Prof G/E starts coming around. Tells Kelly, Pam and drugged Emily that Roger had tortured him, feels like he’d shoved something up his nose, too. Starts looking around. Asks where he is, but no one will tell him. Asks what time it is, gets him nowhere either. Tries to figure out how to Slipshank in a place he knows nothing about. Decides his best chance is the chair - there’ll be an invoice for it in the school’s system, and he knows it’s here on 5/21/06. Picks it up, rips the covering off the bottom, pulls out a luger and shoots drugged Roger in the head.
Pam spans out.
Now the conversation gets real. Prof G/E lays it all on the line for Kelly. Nazi’s, fake Hitlers, Brocks’ predations, Roger in an SS Uniform, Antedessertium, Continuum working for Aliens who enslave the earth, the whole paranoia-driven nine yards.
This talk of aliens impacts emily’s hallucination. She stands up, thinking she’s being helped by a little gray man with big black eyes. Maybe she really is, their tech is so good.
Kelly tells Prof how many and which photos have been delivered. Kelly and Prof G/E agree to a truce. Prof G/E says assuming that there’s no attacks from this corner for at least one month of his Age, he’ll deliver the remaining pictures on time and engage in no further fraggings. Prof G/E spans away, taking Roger’s coat, the Luger he shot him with, and the chair.
Kelly puts Emily in her room, then spans away. Lab is empty except passed out em by 8:30 am.
The tape recorder caught all of it, it’s sitting on the table still.
1:30 - emily sobers up, spans home, and drives to clubmed.

Friday, 6/3/06
5:00 - Kail spans in L336
6:00 - Pam & Lee spans in L336
6:30 - Emily spans in L336
6:50 - b0mb
Span out at 8:00
9:00 - bathrooms at smoky crater - er L336
10:00 - leave robs apt for 9:00
11:00 - After shutting off anti-spanning tech, PCs span out of L337, blowing it up behind them.
level span to 11:00 on 6/3/06 at Lee’s Apt in Santa Barbara. this is the new rendezvous
12:19 - out of hotel
13:00 - kelly to storage
13:03 -span to the van
13:05 - knock on storage door
13:48 - kail spans out
14:26 - Izzy & Pam solve Pams Frag (spans to 6/3/07, then to 5/21/06, then here).
Izzy & Aaron solve Aarons Frag (span to 6/10/07, then to 5/29/06, then here)
All span to 6/3/2106, to Rochester Clinic, courtesy of Izzy.

Beyond 2006:
After this the PCs span around in a much wider range of dates, going back thousands of years, and my notes for Phase II were kept in a different file, which I may post some other time.