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Brian Ashford
Parent, husband, student, gamer, writer
Parent, husband, student, gamer, writer


Thanks to holidays and a wedding it's been six weeks since I got to run my Whitehack game. This Monday only two of my usual six players are available, so we are going to ruin a one-shot of D&D 5e. It seems that my players are planning to play two half-orc bards called Stan and Bush. Should be fun.
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The OSR espionage game White Lies by +Bill Logan is a great little game. Bill explains in his Admin Toolkit that he didn't include a hacker class because, similar to issues with deckers in cyberpunk games, they just didn't fit the dynamics of play. I've had this on my mind for a year or two now, and I think I've found the solution.


Sometimes called Ops, Tech Support or The Guy in the Chair, from a remote location the Controller guides the team to their objective, providing surveillance, updates, coordination between dispersed team members and, when necessary, hacking support. Rarely in the field they work from the team’s home base, or the back of a van with the Transporter, or even from a laptop in a nearby cafe. Controllers have a good knowledge of all computer, communication and security systems, also a working knowledge of operational protocols for most organisations the team might want to infiltrate.

Playing a Controller is quite different from playing the other classes. During missions Controllers will be aiding the groups progress with their skills, hacking surveillance systems and researching companies, individuals or any science or technical queries which might come up. During combat the Controller can still be a vital member of the team by providing a tactical overview of the situation.

Prime Attribute: Intelligence. A Controller must have a minimum intelligence score of 9.

Saving Throws: Controllers have a great wealth of knowledge and receive a +1 to any save to see through a deception.

Combat Training: Controllers are trained in knives, revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, Tasers, grenades and shotguns. They may wear light armour.

Skill Training: Controllers receive a bonus of +1 when attempting action checks related to computers, surveillance or research. This improves to +2 at 4th level and +3 at 8th level.

Omniscience: During combat the Controller can aid by monitoring the activity of the opposition and alerting the team to threats and opportunities. Each turn, as their action, the Controller’s player can reroll one ally’s initiative, attack or save roll, or one enemy’s successful attack roll against an ally. This does require that it is reasonable that a brief warning or piece of advice over the comms system can help.
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A little more information about the new Over The Edge just trickled out:

"One of the things that makes it interesting to watch another player roleplay their solo bit with the gamemaster is the character’s “question mark”. A question mark is the character’s potential pivot point. My latest character, Johnny Coup de Pied, has the question mark “cool-headed-?” He projects the image of serenity, but his serenity is the practice he uses to keep from losing his cool and flipping out. In traditional roleplaying, the other players know what your character is going to do because you are roleplaying your character to match a consistent personality or motivation. If the character is cool-headed, the other players know that they’re going to act in a cool-headed way. But with Johnny, everyone knew that he was probably going to be serene, but you could never know for sure. The “question mark” characteristic derives directly from the dramatic pole that Robin introduced in Hillfolk. Since Hillfolk focuses on interpersonal drama, the character’s dramatic pole is a central, defining feature. For Over the Edge, it’s as central or as peripheral as the player wants it to be."

Seriously? We are now supposed to track Unknown character traits?

There is an easier was to keep characters spontaneous you know, just don't define them. List a couple of things you do know and start playing.

That's always been my biggest problem with storygames (not that I'm saying this is how they all are, just that this is a thing I have seen); characters start with a bunch of defining moments in their past, and an accompanying list of motivations, fears and beliefs. As soon as you look at the character sheet you know, roughly, what's going to happen. Those fears will challenge the character but those motivations will push them through and in the end those beliefs will be reinforced (or replaced if the initial beliefs conflict with the themes of the story).

If your goal is "surprising roleplay", don't try and define how your character thinks. Just start playing and see what happens. We don't need a question mark descriptor for Cool-headed? or Honourable? or Trustworthy? because every character can be all of those things or none of them.
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This deal is well worth checking out. The OneDice system is about as simple as a generic system can be and I've found it to be pretty much perfect for one-shots and games with young kids.

Each book is a comprehensive run down of its genre, with everything you need to get going. Each genre is then further expanded with the skins for running games in different variations of that genre (for example OneDice Pulp, which defaults to 1930's action adventure, also includes skins for space, sword & sorcery and horror).

The system works around a core of d6+Stat+Skill vs Difficulty. There's rules for vehicles, magic, mooks, insanity, weapons & armour and stunt points for a more narrative style of play.

For $8 the starter collection gets you:
OneDice Universal (Revised)
OneDice Fantasy
OneDice Urban Fantasy
OneDice Cyberpunk
OneDice Steampunk and
OneDice Pulp

Which will be enough to run just about anything. Pulp and Urban Fantasy are particularly good.

The full deal is currently $15 and it adds:
OneDice Space
OneDice Pirates & Dragons
OneDice Airship Pirates
OneDice Supers
OneDice B Movies and
OneDice Robin Hood

I'm a big fan of Space, Airship Pirates and B Movies.
There is currently a great deal on a bundle of our OneDice games, courtesy of Bundle of Holding. OneDice is great for beginners and experienced rpgers alike.

The basic bundle includes 6 OneDice titles for $7.95 and the upgrade bonus collection adds a further 6.

I wouldn't normally make such a plea, but please share the bundle around social media as much as you can. This is a great opportunity to get some new folk into the worlds of OneDice!

(Of course, if it goes really well, it is also a great opportunity for me to buy myself a big gold throne. Wait, don't share that bit!)
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I love the original Over The Edge and when I'm putting together a new game to run, the OTE system is almost always a strong contender. It is versatile enough to handle just about anything you want to throw at it, players can create any pc they like and it still uses classic HP which enable me to add threat to all of this nebulous freeform narrative of I want to.

So I'm kind of torn on the new Over The Edge. I want it to be awesome, and it sounds awesome, but it's not like there's anything I want to change about the original.

So of what I've read about nOTE some of it sounds right up my alley, some of it less so.

+ 2d6 for all rolls. Cool, less maths = more game.
- Character traits re-roll one or both of your d6. Boo. Rerolls just slow down tests. As soon as the dice stop moving I want to know if I passed. This one's possibly just me though.

+ Each roll is more important. Great high stakes is good and fewer rolls to resolve a situation means fewer mechanical interruptions. Nice.

+ 3s and 4s give positive and negative side results. This is something I love about the dice in Edge of Empire/Genesys. Good job.

- The GM doesn't roll. Sadface. The dice help me think.

Suffice to say that I am very interested to see how the game flows in play. I'm sure I'll like it... There is a small chance that it will be the best thing ever.
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Am writing.
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Now this is how to evoke a setting.
Quiet night of writing.
Decided to throw this out there. When I post bits like this it helps me concentrate and keep it fresh.

I've got a half written southern Gothic Call of Cthulhu Mythos town called Dunham Vale, South Carolina.

Classic 1920's era: bootleggers, crime, hybrid deep-ones, ghosts, and other things in the night. Investigators can be rival bootleggers, cops/agents, poor souls with a broken car, etc.

⦁ Incest
⦁ Madness
⦁ Murder
⦁ Rape

Breakdown of norms behind closed doors
Not talking a about such things. Willfully ignoring, minding own business.

Superstition, fear, regression, rejection of science and modern ways
Insulation, Isolation, distrust of strangers/that which is different.

Southern 'Aristocracy'
Poor Blacks
Swampfolk (generations of breeding from escaped slaves, criminals, etc in the swamps)
White Trash


Diabolic, voodoo

swamp, frog and fish, wet rot
fried food, tobacco, wood smoke
fresh soil, manure
rain coming in
sweaty skin, wet fur

crickets, frogs, dogs barking, chickens clucking
rythems of animal noises
radios, blues, country, sermons
slithering in weeds, water lapping, spalshes

dust and salty sweat, tobacco smoke
cool well water, beer, cider, lemonade

rusty metal, rough wood
cool dirt between toes
slimy fish and frog, scummy water
dried parched plants
fevered flesh, sticky sweaty clothes
cool air after summer rain

old men on porches, watching eyes, smokers, card players
children and dogs running and playig in dust and dirt
overgrown trees, low hanging, thick weeds and grass
wet, green, natural
pond scum, lily pads, cattails
cotton and tobacco, dry, brown and yellow, crops and bales
decayed houses, rusty vehicles
blue, red, yellow sky. dust and haze

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I bought my daughter a owl at the falconry centre we just visited. We called it Burrito. Now on the bus home we are discussing the differences between tortillas, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas and enchiladas. Her response: "Why does Spanish have all the cool words?"
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My phone just spellchecked Whitehack to Whitehall, and how I have another campaign I want to run.
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You have to run a game for friends next week but it has to be a game from the 90's which you haven't played in years. What do you choose?
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