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News about the Congo coming in fast and furious (around all the news about Somalian pirates and Mexican drug gangs) and this makes me think about Pantellos. Pantellos was my Declare-style game about corporate spies in an occult world spinning out of control.

[ profile] peaseblossom and I we're just talking about this, and we both agree Esoterrorists could work, but we'd need more crunchy combat. Luckily, [ profile] robin_d_laws is coming out with the The Esoterror Fact Book, which is supposed to add some more crunch to combat to allow paramilitary games. Which might be perfect for this.

So, [ profile] seborn, [ profile] truthspeaker, what do you say? Interested in reuniting the band and doing a 7 years later? Many of the craziness in the world is still there. We have the Congo spiraling out of control; Craziness in Venezuela. Black prisons in the Balkans. Spice it with some Somalian pirates and Mexican drug gangs and we easily have the places. And the weirdness usually just writes itself.

A few nights back we had [ profile] jeffwik, [ profile] emilytheslayer, and Stefan over. And Jeff suggested we do a mission, which is from my more realistic spy game, Age of Paranoia. And it was a lot of fun. It got the old juices burning overtime. I'm also re-reading The Eight which may be the book that started it all 20 years ago for me. Couple all that with my lovecraftian-spy LARP that never happened and I have this burning desire to run a spy game. Again. But I'll be honest its something I do do well.

I still want to return, by the way, to my Supernatural done right game with [ profile] jeffwik and [ profile] peaseblossom as soon as they are ready.
jeregenest: (Default)
A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it. -- John Le Carre

Not running a game may be dangerous for me, I've been thinking of spy games again. Though not necessarily exclusively Age of Paranoia or any of the other games I've run (like Pantellos) though maybe a bit of both. Aybe a one-shot of some sort is called for. Or maybe I should rewatch some Sandbaggers, but that would probably get me more interested.

I wonder if I should have suggested a spy game.

Or maybe I should just buckle down and choose a game already. Last night we played some with Active Exploits and I must admit I really liked it. Needs some polishing to be setting specific but it works very nicely, and its diceless which is a big draw after playing HeroQuest.

Speaking of one-shots I really should try to get a regular group together again, there’s a lot of systems I want to experiment with and we don’t seem to have as much of that going on these days.
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A staple premise of much of genre fantasy and SF is that only through the iron will of heroes can the world be saved - and those heroes are not regular people, they are extraordinary beings. An extreme extent of this viewpoint is that we should all just do as they say, because they know best. While this is strongest of stock genre fantasy/SF (and rightly made fun of) its pretty standard in genre TV (Buffy anyone?), comic books and yes, gaming.

I’m not interested in arguing about wish-fulfillment and political messages and the rest. It’s enough for this post to acknowledge that it exists and then to think of my recent roleplaying, specifically Age of Paranoia and Tantaene Animis Caelestibus Irae.
Read more... )
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[ profile] jeffwik and I are running an extended contest for tantanea so he can find informaton mportant to the game. We're running this on the wiki and it is proving very interesting. HeroQuest exended contests lend themselves well to this sort of off-line info gathering. Snce this isn't the most dramatic it would be a dull point in the session (though wth Jeff you can never tell) but doing it offline is pretty interesting.

And of course since it as spy overtones we have Age of Paranoia name-dropping going on.
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Last night we ended up doing a Age of Paranoia style mission to provode some point or another that we were talking about in regards to games. It was cute. But now it has me thinking more about using missions for Tantaene Animis Caelestibus Irae as a way to resolve past life scenes that weren't handled as part of the prelude-arc (most of them).
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I've written some of my thoughts about Age of Paranoia going on hiatus on 20by20. I’m not as discouraged by this state as I could be. It has been a really good run and I’ve learned a lot and added several new tools to my gm box. But I do wish things had gone better and this game had gone on longer.

Of course this leaves me time to either run a new game or play in someone else’s.
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For my Age of Paranoia game we’ve recently jumped ahead in time 3 years from May 1971 to October 1974. This is important to us because one of the premises of this game is exploring the lives of these career intelligence officers over the later half of the Cold War and beyond. As the game is Tarot card based (using Chris Lehrich’s Shadows in the Fog) we decided that the best way to represent the passing of time was to have the players do readings of where they were in October and use that to flesh out background.

Most everyone used a traditional Celtic Cross, though one player used an astrological spread and the other a cabalistic spread. Out of this we got six readings, one for each character, which they in turn had a great deal of latitude to interpret.

Things went well, mostly. I was surprised by one player moving his character into a political arena as quickly as he did. This caused me to reshuffle a lot of my plot around to take in account the political side. Luckily I have the ramifications of the Church committee (and all the other committees of the post Watergate world) to draw upon so my up runneth over.

The other major difficulty was a player wanting to change history to an extreme extent. Which prompted a good discussion of theme and mood of the game, having changes in history serve a purpose to a character’s development, and player empowerment. Very productive for our social contract (which is on the wiki).

think we had a good example of play contract and system in play here. We ha a good understanding of tone and a good agreement on what t do if there was a disagreement in the case of player controlled narration. And from that everything else flowed. I was quite happy with the results.

I’m also happy that the spreads told me very clearly that everyone wants more personal time with their friends and relations (the last storyarch was very very claustrophobic focusing on a mole hunt). This sort of feedback is invaluable for e and will shape the course of the campaign. Many of the players gave specific things they want in the future that both they and I are now responsible for working towards. Which made this a valuable exercise and probably the best way I’ve seen to handle moving forward in time (and I’ve done both pendragaon and Ars Magica to death here)
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[ profile] jeffwik posted some thoughts recently about Age of Paranoia and I thought I should too.

I think the game is going well. I'm very happy with many aspects. It is, in my opinion, very much capturing the Sandbagger/Le Carre feel I was aiming for.

I'd like to see some better note taking on everyone's part. Including myself. I just don't think we've been very good at it. Also, I think folks aren't taking as much advantage of the Wiki as they could be.

I'd like to get [ profile] peaseblossom's character mroe integrated with the other players. But after enxt session I think thats inevitable. I'm just curious how thats going to transpire. We have a degree of tension now on whether Michael will defect or be rounded up. Elizabeth could be passive there or could really steer it in an amazing direction (and build herself a great career from doing so).

Will Mitch salvage his career and come up smelling like a rose (indication is yes, he's an oily bastard).

Will the Brits resolve the Sandmen, avoiding embarrassment and proetcting security?

Will anyone resolve the CASA/Boeing/British Aerospace concerns? (We need a codename for that).

We're having some mechanic concerns, [ profile] chrislehrich wrote over to the Forge explaning some of the system growth we're going through. Which in my opinion is all very natural in any game. I think we'll work it out.

And will [ profile] robotnik and [ profile] seborn actually ever join us?
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We had our first meeting for Age of Paranoia last night. [ profile] peaseblossom, [ profile] bluegargantua, [ profile] bryant, [ profile] chrislehrich, [ profile] jeffwik, [ profile] robotnik, and [ profile] seborn were there.

Chris has posted a nice summary at the Forge of some of the things that happened.

In many ways I found last night's session to run very smoothly. Perhaps due to my incessant blabberings here on Livejournal on the game in preparation for it, which gave everyone who showed up a very clear idea of my intent, and even more importantly more than ample opportunity to participate in developing the campaign framework. Which I am very grateful to all of you for.

This allowed us a nice comfort zone for talking frankly about the rules. So we were able to identify the few problem areas and remedy them. Particularly mission play, which Chris did an excellent job of summarizing. I do wish I had taken note of all the card play and interpretations during the example we ran. It would be valuable to type that up. I'm glad that both Chris and Bryant volunteered to take notes of missions, I think this game is going to live and die on note taking to some extent.

I was a little worried because I am, in some ways butchering Chris's baby, but he seemed very cool with the process and a very valuable addition to the game. We'll probably keep on trying to suck him deeper into our gaming circle as he seems like a good match.

The next step is to revise the rules set with everything that came up last night.
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[ profile] bluegargantua asks:

Due to a Concession, Assertion or other reality-warping event, it's declared that my character is a necrophiliac. This really doesn't fit with my character concept. Do I have any recourse to strike that from the record or make it untrue? I declare someone a racist alcoholic, can they invalidate that statement?

Tom's right, to a point. Thats pretty much what the rules do, in Shadows in the Fog, and thus Age of Paranoia, you can and usually should make forceful statements about other people’s characters. What you can’t do is explain how this will happen, or exactly what the details are. The principle is similar, but the differences are worth considering.

I think an important point is this only explains the outerworld, never the innerworld.

The other important part is you can only describe it in that scene. You can explain that in a given scene a character is acting forthright, but not why, nor are you saying that character is now forthright.
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One of the intents of Age of Paranoia is that it is to be a game played in the realm of geopolitics. With its structural road map being drawn by geography. The locus of action will be constantly changing, stretched out to represent the entire globe. The good thing is that the mission system seems to easily reflect that. The worry, brought up last night, is that this could very easily lead to major changes in the world, quickly branching out to a bizarre alternate history.

Which could be good, could be bad. I’m not sure yet. One of the issues for me is that the source material we’re borrowing from (Le Carré and The Sandbaggers) really show a world where all this intricate plotting usually results in not much happening. Just minor shifts. But that may not lead to good gaming. Things to ponder, like I don’t have enough already.
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[ profile] chrislehrich just send me his character for Age of Paranoia the spy game I will run. [ profile] peaseblossom is chortling in the background (while she feeds the baby) that I've met my match, but I declare I'm up to the challenge and I welcome it.

Chris's character )

Scheduling )

The Special Relationship )
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[ profile] chrislehrich asks about setting. A very good question. To which I have the following answer.

This game is the later part of the Cold War, basically lets say 1969 to 2004. My original intent was to let the characters choose the country and organization they were working for. While in my mind MI6 (the Circus) has figured prominently in a lot of my development, I’m quite comfortable playing just about anywhere. Okay, Red China might be hard for me, but I’m willing. I saw a neat book on their espionage practices recently that I’d love an excuse to buy.

Which probably means two prep sessions. One to discuss this sot of stuff and make sure everyone’s clear on the rules, and the second as outlined in the rules for character creation. Or is that too much? Folks know me, I’m a process monkey and also I love to get people over to our house. Especially if they’ll hold the baby or play trains with the boy.

Though we could probably iron out agency/country on-line. In which case this is the place to do it.
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Okay I made some changes to the draft based on comments so far. I still have some comments to address, but for now work from here. And eyah its the same location, no need to keep version control on the web (I don't believe I have version control on actully, I've been working in Risk Management too long)
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Shadows in the Fog basically require: “You must have ratings in the six interpersonal skills, the four combat skills, and the four general skills. You must also have a Knowledge, a Hobby, and a rating in Occult.”

Now obviously Occult won’t be a skill, though not sure to replace it with Tradecraft or not. And I’m unsure about the hobby/knowledge thing, though it does make a lot of sense.

I’m also unsure about those skill requirements.

Heck, the more I think about it I’m pretty sure I don’t want a skill list. Folks comfortable with doing their own and than assigning them to suits?

Or do folks need at least a bunch of “espionage” skills to choose from.

jeregenest: (Default)
As I struggle to nail down some rules, and in particular an idea on handling skills, I’m now thinking about Tradecraft. Tradecraft is those espionage techniques and tricks that make the occupation a craft. The operational skills include tricks of surveillance and running agents. Tradecraft, mentioned frequently in the novels of John Le Carré, appears frequently in the real espionage world. Practices are taught in training and are then handed down from one generation of agents to another.

Now I had originally intended to make Tradecraft a skill of its own, similar to Occult in Shadows of the Fog, but now I’m not to sure. Since many of the areas can be split between suites.

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I've decided after much soul searching to use Chris Lehrich's Shadows of the Fog as my baseline as it does much I wanted.

My first draft of the rules are here, boy do they need a lot of work. But please start commenting!

I need to get Jess to do a major edit on thes, especially to make sure they make sense.

I need to do an example of play.

And it seems I forgot my skill section! Woops.

Anyway, tell me if my translation from Shadows of the Fog makes sense. And more importantly if it makes sense for the game I'm envisioning.
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For my eventual espionage game.

Campaign Framework )


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