Man, Gaming is Pretty Darn Good Right Now

I’m in something of a High Nirvana era of personal gaming enjoyment. I feel that there are more awesome gaming opportunities around me than ever before in my life. Tabletop, Video, Design, it’s a veritable cornucopia of exciting play. Let’s review!

As far as my table-topping goes, I’m in the middle of at least two games, with two more on the horizon. First is my Old School Palladium Fantasy sandbox game, which has had four gatherings so far and seems to be maintaining everyone’s excitement pretty nicely. This game is really doing a good job of reinvigorating me, both as an arbiter of events and as a creator of spontaneous content. I haven’t run this seat-of-the-pants in a long, long time, and it is quite simply titillating my gamer imagination. I go into each session with a mental picture of all the events happening in the world within a 20-mile radius of where the characters are, and as they move around, those events progress of their own accord. So far, the players have managed to hit up most of them quite nicely, and get themselves directly involved of their own volition. It’s wonderful.

Next is the Song of Ice and Fire game (loosely using the system, of the same name, by Green Ronin), for which the Torch of Arbitration has been passed on to my pal Sixten. We kicked of the new chunk of the campaign a coupla weekends back, and it looks like the next session is this coming weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Also this weekend is a meet-and-greet session for potentially starting up a new Unknown Armies game. I don’t have much to say about that one just yet, because we haven’t discussed it as a group, but I want to see a story of normal folks from different walks of life brought together by mutual exposure to the Occult Underground. More on this as it unfolds.

Further down the road, probably after the Palladium games comes to its natural end, I’ve got an idea to try a Shadowrun variant in which all the magic is removed, and replaced with simple conspiracy. Magic has always been my biggest complaint about Shadowrun, as it just never seemed to fit right. I was introduced to the setting during the transition from First to Second Edition, and the art back then (some by the always-amazing Tim Bradstreet) depicted a far grittier thing than the more fantasy-inspired Shadowrun of today. Old School Shadowrun was like Ghost in the Shell, while modern Shadowrun feels more like Cutey Honey. My thought now is to remove all the magic from the setting, and replace it with mostly-unexplained conspiracy. Like the Great Ghost Dance, for example, wasn’t a magical event. For some reason a call came in from High Command to just let them go, and the US forces complied – and to this day, no one knows why. And Saeder-Krupp isn’t ruled by lofwyr, but merely an entity known as The Dragon. Is it a person? An AI? A cabal of conspirators? Something else?

All this Shadowrun-minus-magic is in my head thanks to my current obsession with the new Deus Ex: Human Revolution game, of course. Very few games have ever affected me as deeply, or tickled that Fun Spot so furiously, as this one. I’ve been taking a primarily non-violent, stealth-based approach to this game, but the story is so good and the characters so realistically portrayed, that there have been moments where in-game narrative events have successfully swayed my decision. “Fuck. That.” I’d say aloud, before switching from trust stun-zapper to armor-piercing guns and brutally taking out every last motherfucker in the room as an act of revenge that I didn’t know I wanted until only seconds before. The character Jenson radiates this almost-tangible aura of cool boredom that personifies him as the ultimate Gibsonian cyberpunk bad-ass. Every inch of the game emanates a complimentary coolness and enforces a setting-appropriate dirty dismalness, creating what I feel is the most amazing cyberpunk gaming experience to date.

Going back to the subject of Tabletop gaming for a monent, I want to take a moment and talk about two services which have revolutionized my game-scheduling: Agree-a-Date and Doodle. These are online tools that allow you to send out a poll of sorts to a group of people, letting them pick which of the arrayed dates are best available for their attendance. As an adult with a full-time job, an active social life, budding romances, and other hobbies, this makes scheduling gaming sessions much, much less of a headache. I’m moving away from Agree-a-date towards Doodle, because it’s less restrictive and not constantly advertising itself to me. But aide from that, Agree-a-Date has served me very well for small-gathering social functions.

I’ve recently set up a profile on RPGGeek, and have begun posting my plays there. Feel free to friend me.

Finally, the current design project codenamed Hagakure 66 has had some great new developments. I can’t share them just, yet, however. I want the revelation to be damn awesome. It’s on its way, though, most definitely.

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