With (nearing) two days done in May, I’m on target to complete my National Novel Writing Month (UofAEdition) novel by the end of the 31st day of the month.  If you don’t know what NaNoWrMo is, the basic premise is that a group of crazy people decide to attempt to write a 50,000 word novel within the confines of a single month.  Usually celebrated in November, some individuals at the University of Alberta decided that May was a better month to hold the event, for ‘religious reasons’.

Here’s a breakdown of the participation/completion rate.

2006 had 21 participants, of whom four finished.
2007 had 47 participants, of whom three finished.

I competed in 2007.  And by competed, I mean ‘failed miserably’.

While I’m currently on target, I don’t forseemuch (if any) work being done on any of the upcoming weekends this month.  I’ve got plans that should fill most of this weekend, I’m out of town (and without a laptop) next weekend, the third weekend is my wedding anniversary.  The other two weekends are currently clear, but…yea.  I need to get back to writing.

This weekend I’m going to be running Cold City for a new group of people.  I’m really excited about that, especially with some of the rules being clarified by the designer, Malcolm Craig.  He’s also provided me with a copy of the most recent version of the Hot War rules (a game that is the evolution of Cold City, bringing the world to a nuclear holocaust) to playtest.  I hope to be able to read through them and run it fairly soon so that I can forward my comments.

Finally, Emily and I booked a trip to Las Vegas for the summer.  We’re really excited about it.  It should be fun.  We were lucky enough to be able to score front row seats to the Penn and Teller show, which according to my good friend Paul, is awesome.  We’ve also got good seats for Cirque du Soliel’s O and the Blue Man Group.  We’ll be staying at the Planet Hollywood, which from what we can tell, should be an excellent hotel.

So, this has been around 375 words I could have dropped into my novel.  Oh well.

Pick-up and Campaign

After many months of listening to the podcast Fear the Boot, I finally caved and had Jay over at Happy Harbor Comics order me a copy of the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition (There’s a free Test Drive of the rules on the website). I don’t want to get into too much detail right now, but wow. I’m really excited to give this system a runthrough. I fully expect it to live up to the tagline “Fast, Furious and Fun”. The rules can be applied to pretty much any setting you’d like (and the community has already converted many popular settings), the Explorer’s Edition is a great value at $10.99. If you want to start playing in one of the really cool settings put out by Pinnacle, you’ll end up paying a pretty penny, but they all sound spectacular.

Onto some more pressing news!  I’m going to be running Cold City again on May 3rd for a different group of individuals.  I’m really excited about it, since I really enjoyed my last session.  The players will be generating their own characters, which should make for some better play.  I’m also looking forward to having the opportunity to run a full session without worrying about time.  The difficulty I’m having is preparing (or starting to prepare, to be more accurate) an adventure.  I don’t want to end up designing an encounter that the players are ill-equiped for, but at the same time, I don’t want to just make things up on the fly too much.  I also want to make sure that the adventure really gets into the details of the trust mechanics.  I’m likely going to use the Dossier again for some inspiration (have I mentioned how awesome that supplement is?).  While I only intend this game to be a one-shot, I will definately want to keep the characters ‘on-file’ for a follow up at some point.  I love this game, but I’ve already committed myself to another campaign.

What campaign is that?  It’s an all Jedi Star Wars Saga campaign.  As I think I’ve already stated, I think the SW:Saga rules for Jedi are non-retarded and easy to administer, so I’m willing to run a game featuring those kinds of characters.  Set in the Old Republic, the characters will be Jedi Padawans beginning their Trials of Knighthood.  I’ve taken a few liberties with the setting, mostly because I find most of the Expanded Universe stuff much too uninteresting for my purposes (and I don’t want to have 4-5 Jedi Masters running around with my players).  The first adventure is already scripted in my head, so I just need to focus and put some of that down on paper.  I also need to do some character design for the NPCs in the universe.  I’ll have a better idea of what sort of auxillary challenges to throw at my players once we hold a character generation session, hopefully sometime next month.

Its my intention to continue posting recaps of playsessions here, so keep checking back if you’re interested in hearing what has gone on!


Cold City: Actual Play

Last month, I gave my First Impressions of Cold City. At the EGA’s Horror Night, I had the pleasure of running it for the first time. I have to say, I really enjoyed myself and I think my players had a good time too. I’ll save my comments for the end of the review of my session. To aid in my adventure creation, I also purchased the Cold City Dossier (PDF from IPR) – I was really impressed with what I had received in this supplement, including details for distressing documents myself. A very exciting supplement indeed!

I’m going to follow Lakira’s example and put character information in first, followed by the actual events of the game. In my haste to finish everything, I did not take copies of the character sheets, so I am unable to post those for reference, but as trust did not really come into play, I don’t think seeing those details about the characters as being crucial.

Onto the: Continue reading

Cold City First Impressions

I’ve been buying alot of games recently, which is great, especially since I’ve actually started playing tabletop again.  I’m really wondering why it took me so long to get back into it.  My most recent purchase included Cold City, A|State, Don’t Rest Your Head, and Piledrivers and Powerbombs.  I purchased everything from IPR, and I was quite impressed with the shipping time (from the time I clicked to the time I had the product wasn’t the best, but that was due to the order date).  I also had the opportunity to run Spirit of the Century a few weekends ago, but I’d like to run another game before I put up a review (but so far, it’s double-plus-good).

Cold City

Cold City is published by Contested Ground Studios out of the United Kingdom.  The softcover book itself is very compact, measuring 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, with a mere 128 pages.  When I first held the book, I thought to myself “Is this it???”.  Don’t let the size of the book fool you.  There’s tons here.  Opening the matte black cover (complete with blood droplets!) brings you directly into the meat of the game.

The premise of the game is that you’re a agent of the Reserve Police Agency (RPA) in 1950s Berlin.  Each player is a different nationality and must consider a variety of issues in their actions.  These varying viewpoints must come together to fight the monsters developed by the Nazis, living in the forgotten areas of Berlin.

The layout of the book is wonderful and the type is easy to read.  Character generation sounds like alot of fun, and extremely simple.  First, you pick a nationality.  No two characters can have the same nationality.  You’ll select your name and your draw (how you became involved with the Reserve Police Agency), then you’ll begin your stats.  Each character has 3 attributes:

  • Action – To do physical things 
  •  Influence – To do things like intimidate, seduce, etc.
  • Reason – To use thought, willpower, etc.

After assigning values to these (between 1-5), you’ll begin to develop traits.  Your character has at least 5 traits, 3 positive and 2 negative.  These traits will come into play during conflict resolution.  You’ll pick your hidden agendas and finally, you’ll assign trust to the other agents.  I won’t get into alot of detail because I want to see it in action first (this is just first impressions you know)!

The conflict resolution mechanics are also quite simple (in my mind, at least).  You create dice pools from your attributes, traits, hidden agendas and trust.  Before rolling, each side must state their desired outcome from the roll, then the conflict resolution process begins.  You roll a number of d10s equal to the size of your pool, which is then compared to the opponents roll.  Successes are measured by how many dice beat the best result of your opponents pool.  So for example,

Ricky has a dicepool of 4.  He rolls and the dice come up: 4, 6, 8, 9.  The GM rolls the opponent’s dicepool of 3, resulting in: 5, 7, 10.  The GM succeeds with one success.

The really cool thing about this game is that whomever wins a particular conflict gets to narrate what happens.  It sounds cool, so I’m excited to see how it plays in practice.  The other thing I like is that the book tells GMs to only roll dice when dramatically important.

My first impression of the book is hugely positive.  I love pretty much everything about it (some of the art could be better, but really, its a minor thing) and I’m really excited about running a session, just to give the tires a kicking.  The book does leave alot of setting to personal imagination, which I like.  You’re given enough to see the basic idea, but you’re not confined to anything hugely specific.

On a personal note, I’m quite disapointed that I didn’t decide to buy the Dossier or the Companion – but I’m confident I’ll end up buying them in the future.  These books give some new areas to put in your games as well as adventure hooks. 

If you like what you hear so far, check out Contested Ground Studios for previews of the product, or just buy the game from IPR.