Thursday, September 29, 2022

Blank White Cards

 I've decided to run a little bit of Blank White Cards at an upcoming convention, and needed a picture to put on the page for the sign-up sheet... and discovered that basically every picture I have of cards we've made includes either NSFW content, or some card with rules text that's probably going to be intimidating for new players, or cards with inside jokes you had to be there to understand. It's often a spread of 9 or 12 cards in a picture that are mostly usable except just one obscene drawing of goblin boobs in the middle of the spread, and one card with painfully difficult to parse rules text that's been scratched out and rewritten twice for clarity that it still lacks. Sadly, many of the best cards fall into one of these categories of "probably not the best picture for trying to entice a new player into the game". 

Anyway, here's a shot that's decidedly NOT my best foot forward (I have so many better cards than these in my giant bags of old cards), but also not going to get me in trouble for posting goblin boobs in the convention program book. It is what it is.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Is Ape Pagoda Dead?

Amusing silliness from the Feng Shui campaign tonight, as we went way off-script and into the weeds.

For context, The PCs were traveling in 690 AD and had managed to not screw up their chance to meet with Her Majesty Emperor Wu Zetian, Queen of Kings, Mistress and Commander of the Dragon Throne, Holder of the Mandate of Heaven, the Living Incarnation of the Devi of Pure Radiance, yadda yadda yadda.

When you introduce an NPC with that many titles, you never know if that's just going to trigger the PCs to mouth off and get into a battle in the middle of court. Instead, they impressed the Emperor by showing themselves to be knowledgeable worldly traders and explorers, and also via dramatic displays of horsemanship. 

She's the only reigning Emperess in Chinese History, but the word is gender-neutral in Chinese, so I'll be calling her Emperor below. The Emperor's a polo-playing athelete, so the horsemanship scores highly in her book.

There were three PCs present in the scene, two female westerners and one a supernatural fishman currently concealing his non-human nature behind a mourning veil. So the Emperor orders them taken to the bathhouse to be cleaned up and dressed more appropriately to have dinner with her. This was actually me putting a hurdle in their way, like how do you not piss off the Emperor but continue the charade that your fishman is a human woman? Instead, the fishman just strips down at the bath-house and dives right in, because he loves the water. I'm about to narrate servants and attendees screaming in terror, when a player points out ... and that amuses us all to no end.

A couple of interactions later, and the fishman is all the rage in Wu Zetian's court. Everything I'd planned for the second half of the session is thrown out the window in favor of wacky hijinks. Emperor Wu Zetian is in a power struggle with one of her children, whom various sexist ministers want to put on the throne in her place, and she's considering having her own child exiled or even executed, but to do so would mean no heir to the throne. "So Mr Fishman, can you please place your blessing of fertility upon her?"  *Long Pause* "To be clear, I am NOT asking you to have sex with the Emperor..." *Long Pause* "...unless that's how your magical blessing works." Etc.

There's a language barrier, as most of the PCs are from the modern day, and the Emperor is from 690 AD. Feng Shui encourages you to only worry briefly about language issues, and only if it's amusing or meaningful. So without thinking about it, I narrate the Emperor as understanding and even speaking fluent English. 

Then a player mentions that English as we know it doesn't even exist yet in the 7th Century. So I suddenly need an explanation for where she learned it. Off the top of my head I decide she was taught it by a previous time-traveler who had visited her court, but they needed to be dead or out of the picture, because more or less the point of this Juncture in Feng Shui is that whichever faction manages to win over Wu Zetian to their cause could gain control of the timeline. She's recently purged the Court Eunuchs (tools of the Lotus-Eaters faction) from the Palace, so her source is probably some other faction, and I want them to stand out as an obvious Chi Warrior... so maybe a Jammer or someone from the New Simian Army. Either of which, in the great tradition of Feng Shui uplifted cyberapes, would need a terrible monkey-themed pun for a name. (Canonical cyberapes include Furious George, Thrill Kill Mandrill, and Battlechimp Potemkin. Yep, Feng Shui is that kind of game.)

And thus was born (and retroactively killed off camera) the Emperor's dear friend Ape Pagoda. Which was amazing to riff off of, given that Abe Vigoda played the character Fish (on Barney Miller) and the existence of the "Is Abe Vigoda dead?" meme/site. The rest of the scene was laden with in-jokes and multi-leveled puns. It was amazing, and I'm so glad I just rolled with this nonsense instead of trying to stick to my plans for the big combat at the palace I'd initially envisioned. Good times.