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tony dowler
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Fall of Magic is way cool, and you can now get it on Roll20.net!
 
Did you back Fall of Magic on Kickstarter? You get a free roll20.net module! You have until August 15th to sign up!
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Blood Red Sands Mega-session AP from Go Play NW
Four brave gamers (+Nate Marcel+David Fooden  +Dan Behlings, +Wilhelm Fitzpatrick) joined me for a double-slot of Blood Red Sands at Go Play NW this weekend.
 
Blood Red Sands is a rigorously competitive GM-less RPG that features deep group prep and crunchy, tactical dice mechanics to resolve the action. In each session or “Ordeal”, the players collaboratively create a group of rival factions balanced on the verge of war. One player takes the role of a Conan-like hero poised to disrupt the balance. Faction creation has a competitive element. The choices players make during setup partially determine if they will start with a competitive advantage or an advantageous position in the fiction.
 
When the dust settled, Wilhelm was the hero: a roc-riding Valkyrie straight out of Heavy Metal magazine. Nate played the lord of the cursed shard desert, surveying his lands from his glass tower, plotting revenge on the evil Witch King. Dan played a coven of deceitful witches who advised Dave’s character. Nate’s faction was an expedition from the Witch King, led by a sorcerer, scouting the land for allies. I played a monster from the wastes and a carrier of the dreaded Vitreous Plague. To win, Nate’s character needed to defeat the monster in single combat and Dan’s witches needed to stop him. The monster sought cleansing at a holy site, and Dave just had to find a good ally.
 
In BRS, the players take turns as the “Chronicler”, telling the story, GM-style, narrating great victories for their faction and pain for the others. The other players can contest this narration using a combination of bribery and negotiation backed by dice. This is by far my favorite part of the game. It’s what makes GM-less competitive play possible. For example, in one scene I narrated a tense standoff between the monster and Dave’s sorcerer, describing how the Sorcerer swore and oath to lead the monster to the sacred lake. Dave successfully contested my narration to take control of the story and narrate it in a way that left the monster sworn into the Sorcerer’s service!
 
You can also challenge any narration on the grounds that it’s not supported by the fiction, which sets off a voting mechanic designed to bring the narration back into line.
 
A player who is targeted by narration also has the option of initiating a “Clash”. This is a protracted dice contest in which both players can call on greater reserves of dice and cause significant damage to one another, gaining victory points. Characters in BRS have traits, each of which has a die and an “aspect” associated with it. For example, my monster had “Inhuman strength-1d10-force.” In our first three-hour slot, we finished prep and had time for a brief clash to see how the mechanics worked. We didn’t use aspects for our first clash, as we just wanted to learn the rules first before introducing more complexity. This is an approach I would suggest for anyone playing the game.
 
After lunch we came back and played another four-hour session to complete the ordeal. We had quite a bit of jockeying for position with oaths and counter-oaths, witches impersonating other characters, and a few pitched battles.
 
In BRS, your dice and traits also double as hit points. For example, a character might have the trait “Unnaturally strong 1d10”. This gives the character a d10 that can be rolled in the Clash. That die can also be damaged and removed from the game, meaning the character can no longer call on that trait. In addition, factions and characters can have components, which hold multiple dice. For example, Wilhelm’s hero rode on a Roc, which had several traits and dice associated with it. But when Wilhelm faced off against the sorcerer’s army, the Roc was killed, robbing Wilhelm of those dice.
 
Each faction has a goal. Achieving this goal grants a big bonus in victory points. Working the achievement of your goal into your narration (or bidding it as the stakes in a clash) is a good way to win points. For example, I tried multiple times to narrate the monster reaching the sacred lake (my goal), but was stymied when other players successfully contested my narration. Later, when Nate’s warlord cornered the monster, we both ended up bidding our goals as stakes in the clash, meaning one of us would get our goal and one would not. Dan, on the other hand, managed to achieve his goal (stop the Warlord), simply by virtue of me achieving mine.
 
I have some observations about BRS that I think are important to successfully enjoying the game:
BRS is not “fair”. You may be ganged up on and you may be unlucky. The other factions will kick you when you’re down. You do, however, get a lot of dice to play with, so even a defeated faction is rarely toothless. The most beat-up player also gets a reward at the start of the next session. Being cool with this at the outset is essential.
The game is competitive, but it’s a still a role-playing game. Do the things you do when you play an RPG—pay attention to the fiction, tell the story, add details, and honor your instincts regarding what’s both possible and cool in the fiction.
One place where the fiction is very important is when you’re entering a clash. Often the opening stakes of the clash will be clearly established by the story leading up to that point. Pay attention to what the fiction is telling you, and your clash will go much more smoothly.
Make sure that when a component is constrained, the constraint has a time limit. At one point my monster was imprisoned, and we forgot to set a time limit, which caused some problems moving the game ahead until we fixed it.
There are a lot of different skills that play into the competitive portion of this game, and you will make mistakes, and pay for them. You can still have fun (and even win) anyway. I managed to get myself sworn into service to the sorcerer, traded off into the dungeons of Nate’s warlord (who wanted to kill me) and I still ended up winning (with some luck at the end). The skills cut across the “competitive” and the “role-playing” buckets, which is, I think, one of the most interesting things about this game.
 
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Heh.
Not specifically. I think what I'd be looking for first is ergonomic stuff. How to keep all the current features but manage them with less brain investment...less fiddly. Second would probably be a payoff evaluation, which features aren't carrying their own weight and need to either up their game or be scrapped (like the refresh thing above), and finally, any holes or exploits I didn't catch the first time around.

But the first one is the big one for me.
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Our one-page event guide PDF is now available for download and printing. The guide contains useful information about check in, the venue, wifi, parking, and food. Note about parking: this year it's no longer free for overnight guests, all attendees who want to park in the campus garage will need to pay for a pass, $5 per day.
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This is my go-to air terror story!
 
Another oldie but goodie! The horrific tale of Air Canada Flight 143.
details here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimli_Glider
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You could not pay me enough!
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Hey Internets, I'm running a Mad Max/Car Wars apocalypse world thing at Go Play NW and I need some cool moves, tags, and equipment for vehicles.

I've got a bunch of pretty standard ones like "Rocket Launcher: blast effect, +1 when you take control using weapons" and "Nitrous: single use, when you burn rubber, take an automatic hit, even on a 6-".

Can you help me come up with some cool moves? We've got big-ass rockets, muscle cars, flamethrowers, and tons of other cools stuff.
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High powered magnet, giant car-mounted chainsaw, something that breaks/modifies roads, tank treads
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We fired up Blacktop, my inspired-by-the-apocalypse neo-Car Wars miniatures game last night on Roll20.net.

Nemesys Silva (@Twylightdawns), fresh from defeat in the arena is gunning for Stone Cold, a pro duelist who cheated her and Axel out of their arena winnings. Chopper, a gang leader and race promoter in
Fremont, will give her the info she needs if she can beat him in a race.

The scene is the ruins of the SR99 bridge. The course: over the potholes, through the minefield, then the choke point, out to the break in the bridge, around the ruined bus, and back to the starting line. Also, this race is no weapons! Nemesys and Chopper are joined in the race by some Frat boys from the U and a new racer named Static. Static (+John Powell ) is the son of a famous duelist who left him her car and a desire for glory.

The Frat Boys have rigged a solid rocket booster that gets them a quick start on the race, but it doesn’t really do much for them as Chopper and Nemesys surge out front, safely through the mines and toward the choke point.

Nemesys uses some debris and takes her souped up Austin Mini over the choke point and out towards the break. Chopper follows, but messes up the back left wheel of his apocalypse buggy. Static dodges the frat boys and keeps in third place.

Instead of slowing for the 360 turn before the break in the bridge, Nemesys punches it up 120 mph. Chopper does the same, using his harpoon gun and a tether to take the corner at amazing speed.. Nemesys, lacking such trickery, does the same through a miracle of driving skill.

The frat boys are in trouble from the mines and the potholes. They bear down on Chopper, now coming back towards the start line, going for a ram. Static’s close behind the Chopper.

Coming around the curve at high speed, Static clips the Chopper’s damaged wheel and the Chopper plummets off the bridge! Did we mention the Chopper was static’s mentor and friend? Static and the frat boys blow each other out of the race in a massive head-on collision while Nemesys crosses the finish line at 150 mph.

Nemesys managed to win her first race, but she lost her lead on Stone Cold. She’s got an idea who knows his secrets though—Static.
This draft of the rules introduced a bunch of driving rules—movement, cornering, initiative, and stunts. All in all I think they performed well, although there might be some disconnect between those rules and the apocalypse-world-style moves we’re using.
 
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I wish I could make it to GoPlayNW this year; do you plan to share the rules afterwards?
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Yesterday I found something on the Internet that kind of blew my mind. We've been playing a bit of a reboot of Car Wars with some updated rules and aesthetics. One thing on my list has been better-looking maps.
Apparently this dream has been around for a while, because searching the net I found this picture--which I posted to Story Games 8 years ago. Apparently I started working on this problem a long time ago, made some progress, and then forgot about it.
One of the reasons I abandoned the effort was the time and space required to physically produce maps on this scale and use them--a problem that's been solved by using the ROll20 digital platform for the game. Last night I dug up the old files for this and a couple of other maps on an old hard drive and uploaded them to Roll20 for my next session.
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I will call it brilliant once I am flamethrowering Tony's backend:)
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Pokemon Go helped this person's autistic child to actually socialize
It is an absolute shame that Satoru Iwata isn't here to see this. This was everything he worked so hard to achieve for decades. Vasco · 2h2 hours ago. Vasco @SilencingTrees. @Toadsanime Fun for everyone* *Unless your phone has less than 2GB memory. NO I'M NOT SALTY!!! Mimikkyu. 2h2 hours ago.
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OK, what happens when robo cars are common? Jan Chipchase has some good ideas about the second order effects. https://medium.com/hidden-in-plain-sight/15-more-concepts-in-autonomous-mobility-8fd1c794e466#.pzev5q8ds
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Latest Patreon release: post-apocalyptic cars and terrain markers.
Official Post from Tony Dowler: The Apocalypse World road warrior hack I'm running for one of my gaming groups has me obsessed with post-apocalyptic vehicles and terrain. Here are a bunch of cool rides, wrecks, and terrain I created for that game and for you all.Wouldn't it be great if there were rules to go with this? I'm running
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I love this so much. And I supported it without even knowing.
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This is a story about printing and print shops, possibly of interest to +Gray Pawn +Shuo Meng +Jay Loomis +John Aegard .

So there’s this little print shop near my place. When I need a quick coil-bound print of a 50-page PDF or something I email the guy and the next day I go pick it up. That’s where I get the one-page dungeon contest entries printed most years. The guy never answers my email, but it’s always there waiting for me the next day.

This time I went by and there was a big sign covering the door “I only do commercial jobs now. Call xxx-xxxx if you need to pick something up.” So I called the guy, and he came out the back door and around the side of the building to let me in.

Now the place is kind of in chaos. Where it used to be this friendly joint humming with activity and a slow but steady flow of students from the college next door, now it’s kind of jumbled mess of half-assembled equipment and packing boxes. It’s just the one guy and his wife now running the place, probably filling orders for a few long-time customers.

We chatted for a few minutes about the printing business and where it’s gone, about how the neighborhood has been cannibalized by condos and upscale eateries. I told him how me and a few friends have discussed setting up our own basement print shop to produce small print runs of our own books. He conceded that’s probably the way to go if you’re doing small orders and pointed at a printer he might sell me. Or he might move to a space he knows further out of the neighborhood. Or maybe he’ll just keep the business going in his basement. He doesn’t know yet.

This conversation touches on a bunch of threads of thought I’ve been following with myself and other artists, makers, and game designers I talk to.

Small print shops are dying out. The digital shops aren’t priced for us. Big print shops don’t care about little players like us. On the other hand, technology and obsolescence are putting a lot of equipment within financial reach for a guy like me (or maybe two or three guys like me). Patreon provides a steady cash flow for small print projects. Kickstarter opens up a potential audience for larger projects and print runs.

I’m not interested in starting a business. I’ve done that myself or worked with other people while they’re doing it. It’s a pain in the ass. I’m not good at it. For me, that kind of thinking is a trap.

On the other hand, I am all about applying business thinking to how I apply my own creativity. I’m all about developing the ability to dream, develop, fund, and ship my own artistic crap using my own tools. That’s why I negotiated a four-day work week at my new job—so I could work on this other half-baked dream.

So if I don’t jump at the opportunity to acquire a few thousand dollars’ worth of printer, am I letting the dream slip through my fingers? If do jump at it, am I going to get stuck with an unplayable misery burden of scrap metal in my basement?

Dreams can be very dangerous. Just when you’ve got things working, a dream can come along and derail you into an expensive and disappointing side quest.
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+Gregor Vuga I'm talking Kinkos and friends. In our market at least their target is a medium business or Microsoft employee who needs a small print job asap and is willing to pay a premium.
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Beat Stone Soup Dungeon Crawl, NaMo of Cheribriados.
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