Category Archives: Streaming

Staying home and playing games

So, what were we doing last year when we weren’t blogging? Apart from the obvious one, staying alive. We actually played a lot in 2020, more so than any year before including the old days. It was a great way to stay in touch with distant locked-down friends and take our mind off things. It was all over Zoom, which is nowhere near the table experience, but it was still nice to see everyone’s faces. Here’s what we played. (Next blog, we’ll talk about what we wrote.)

Fifth edition D&D games

Mark ran a lot of DnD. A lot. He ran Eberron for the nephews, played in a regular Acquisitions Inc game, and playtested the Barovian scenarios I have been writing for publication on the DMs Guild (more about those in a future post).

With our regular group he ran a scenario from the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount (I think so that he could geek out over the Deven Rue map), and then we journeyed to the Menagerie Coast where he located The Sea King’s Malice, a seagoing scenario by Alex Kammer. This was a cracking salty sea voyage of a book and just the tonic for troubled times.

I created a new character for the campaign, Meddy the Plague Doctor. She was all moody and seeking answers in death, but the fresh ocean breeze, fighting off sahuagin and meeting that strange elf who wanted to weave his sails from the hair of heroes, saw her change her tune. She turned into Meddy the Salty Sea Dog Doctor and was last seen at 10th level heading off into the Elemental Plane of Water, in the name of Science. I believe she has discovered meaning in life.

Meddy the Salty Sea Dog Plague Doctor

RuneQuest games

We’ve finally left the dragons in their dungeons and the sahuagin in the sea and returned to our roots, playing RuneQuest. Mark is running the new starting adventures as we all squint sadly at the tiny, tiny font on the character sheet for our armour and hit points. We are old. New RuneQuest characters are a lot more kick-arse than old Runequest characters. I’m kind of worried about that. Also, an alarming number of relatives seem to die during character generation. However I am looking forward to building a big name off a lost goddess, assuming Argrath doesn’t get us all killed first.

Fun fact: in the 1990s I wrote a Gloranthan novel called The Widow’s Tale, and a short story collection called Eurhol’s Vale, published by TradeTalk in Germany. There’s even a nice article about them on El Rune Blog.

Online events

Those were our home games, but Mark’s been streaming stuff too for all the virtual conventions last year.

Just before things closed down, Mark run a Reign of Terror live game at Arcanacon in Melbourne. The scenario was Le Berger by David Harris, and bad things happened at sea in 1793. He got to use Arkenforge, fancy virtual tabletop software.

For Gen Con Online, he was invited to run the 1980s Australian convention scenario “Black as Coal” originally written by John Coleman, and which Mark wrote up and set in Poland for Zew Cthulhu, the Polish edition of Call of Cthulhu from Black Monk Games. (The scenario will appear in English sometime down the road.) His players were the crew from the Ain’t Slayed Nobody podcast, including Rina Haenze from Poland who was able to correct his pronunciation! Things started well but ended… badly.

Speaking of monsters, Mark moderated a panel for PAX Online, “Describing the Indescribable: Keeping Your Monsters Fresh”, with amazing panellists Mike Mason (Call of Cthulhu editor, of course), Amanda Hamon (veteran of Paizo, Kobold Press, and now at Wizards of the Coast) and Becca Scott (who has been running marvellous Call of Cthulhu live plays on her Good Time Society channel). It was a great discussion on making monsters surprising and horrible, every time.

Despite all that DnD this year, Mark’s real D20 love is Shadow of the Demon Lord, a darker than dark fantasy RPG by Rob Schwalb. He ran a session of Demon Lord for The Saving Throw Show with hilarious players Tom Lommel, Steven Pope and Jameson McDaniel. Sooner or later, somebody’s bound to lose a kidney.

Beowulf stream

Mark’s got the streaming bug now, so after laying in a new lighting and mic setup, he’s starting his first ever regular stream this week – he is running Beowulf, a new monster-slaying roleplaying game in Anglo-Saxon times with the interesting twist that it is for one player and one GM. Jackson will be playing the hero, who will hopefully be the stuff of an epic saga and not monster bait. Catch it on the Campaign Coins Twitch stream, and later on YouTube in digestible one-hour episodes – much as the monster will probably digest Jackson.

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Filed under Chaosium, Conventions, Playtesting, Streaming

Gen Con 2018: Awards & Broadcasts

mad-mark

This is my happy face.

I’m at Gen Con 2018, about to run a special celebratory game of French Revolution Call of Cthulhu for my good friends Steven Marsh, Nikki Vrtis & Pedro Ziviani. Not shown, the tiny bottle of Moet & Chandon we just shared (everyone got a good thimble full, we were off the hook). We played “Love Eterne”, a new scenario by myself and Penny.

The celebration was because the night prior, our book Reign of Terror won Gold for Best Supplement award at the 2018 ENnie Awards. Mon dieu!

That was a major thrill for so many reasons: the awards were held at the Union Station Ballroom, a mere severed head’s throw from the Crowne Plaza pullman cars where the original scenario was played in 2013 with superbackers Jason, Tom, Thomas & Travis. I was also so pleased to have co-writer James Coquillat up on stage with me (speaking French, as he does), as the work that he, Penny and Darren Watson put into the book transformed it from being just my gruesome little tale into a fully-fledged supplement for playing French campaigns in the late 18th century. It was also a win for artist Victor Leza, cartographers Stephanie McAlea and Olivier Sanfilippo, editor Mike Mason, the playtesters and all at Chaosium who made the book what it is.

Our game was a blast, and good practice for me: one week later I ran the same scenario live on Saving Throw Show in Los Angeles, with friends Amy Vorpahl, Dom Zook, Jason Caves-Callarman & Tom Lommel. (And, to my left, Tom & Lyndsay’s greyhound Luigi, who plays the part of Lucky, a dog.)

“Why watch people play when you could be playing yourself?” some of my friends often say about streamed games, and that’s a fair statement I guess, but it’s like asking “Why ride an electric bike when you could ride a normal bike?” The answer is the same: it’s an alternative, not a replacement.

Streamed roleplaying game sessions have revolutionised our hobby. It shows everyone how much fun it is, how easy it is to do, and functions as good television in its own right: it’s like improv drama with occasional dice. There’s a massive new audience of people who like to watch, and it is directly inspiring a legion of new players who want to try it. The phenomenon of Actual Play won the Diana Jones award this year at Gen Con, and I think it is well deserved: now when we tell stories with each other, we can share them with the world, and get them to join in.

Saving Throw have a fantastic studio set up with a dedicated table, cameras and mikes. I’d been wanting to try running a streamed game for a long time, and it was even better than I hoped; with such amazing players and wonderful set up, everything was easy.

The whole game is now live on YouTube. It contains no spoilers for Reign of Terror, but it certainly does spoil (drum roll) Reign of Terror 2 – we are working on an all new book of scenarios for release from Chaosium in late 2019, and “Love Eterne” will be included.

I’ve got lots more to say about Gen Con, and everything else Cthulhu that’s been happening this year, but for now: here’s me running a game. What an age we live in that I can share such a thing. Sacre bleu !

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Filed under Conventions, Streaming, Travel, Writing