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Martin Ralya
60% coffee. Mostly harmless.
60% coffee. Mostly harmless.

Martin's posts

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This is a pretty great premise for a time travel RPG.

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I can't remember the last time I preordered a board game -- Mouse Guard: Swords and Strongholds, maybe? -- but I've always wanted to try Richard Borg's Commands & Colors system, the mechanical weight seems about right for me, and the Revolutionary War is fascinating. This is a perfect mix in my book (at least on paper).

Commands & Colors: Tricorne can't come soon enough!

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Guy drops $25,000 on building an underground party bunker in his backyard . . . and accidentally creates a deathtrap. Before you read the post, or the succinct, detailed explanation of why it's a deathtrap (, here's a fun exercise: try to guess all the things wrong with it.

The thumbnail picture is the first hint.

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I snagged a copy of Twilight: 2000 in sterling condition, and have had a chance to read most of the Play Manual.

It's got one of my favorite hooks in gaming: The PCs, all soldiers, are stuck in the middle of Poland after five years of global war, including exchanges of nuclear and biological weapons, and then "As division headquarters was being overrun, the CO's last radio message was, 'You're on your own. Good luck.'"

From character creation (random stats balanced by time spent in combat) to coolness under fire, random encounters, and a deadly combat system that makes every firefight something to be wary of, the rules are delightfully old-school and spartan in their presentation. Combat is detailed, but my memory of playing T2K 15-20 years ago is that one firefight cements most of the basic rules nicely.

I want to run T2K as an alternate history sandbox, exactly as presented: In its version of reality, 17 years ago looks like 1984's take on what was then the future. "You're on your own. Good luck."

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Rest in peace, Loren Wiseman.

Twilight: 2000 made for one of the most memorable campaigns I've ever played, and classic Traveller has been high on my list to play for the past several years. His contributions to gaming as a hobby were manifold and enduring.

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Possible messages for the inside of this Valentine's Day card I saw at the store:

"Shack up with your kidnapper!"

"This Valentine's Day, enjoy some chocolates with your Stockholm Syndrome!"

"Thanks for taking my place in that monster's dungeon, kiddo!"

"This Valentine's Day, make some terrible life choices!"

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This looks fantastically useful for running Dwimmermount. Strong work!

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Play reports like this one -- thoughtful, long-term, concise, personal -- move games to the top of my run list.

I own Night Witches, and I'd love to play it. But running it requires more time and energy upfront, so up until now it wasn't near the top of that list.
Night Witches post mortem

So, I ran Night Witches locally for a year. Sessions were about once a month. I know this game's been out for a while, but here are my thoughts.

Shots on Target
For people accustomed to PbtA games, this one was very intuitive. Both for running it and playing it. It was a bit heavy to get going initially, but the play itself was very smooth.

Players focused heavily on interpersonal relationships. The night missions were more of a threat hanging over each session - a chance for everything to get thrown upside down.

A lot of the realities of life for these airwomen lent itself naturally to play. As the GM, hardships in their lives seemed expected. Poor leadership, lacking supplies, a dangerous and better prepared enemy, and (my personal favourite) NKVD, all put pressure on the PCs.

But success seems sweeter as well. My PCs loved to earn a medal or a promotion. Getting something they want in the fiction, despite the many forces against them, made the victory more meaningful. Even if it's just getting back the underwear one of the cooks stole.

I have also posted before about how I liked having leadership being a thing. That worked great for me.

"Training Accidents"
I found it a lot of work to get going on the game, and immediately after getting that work done, I found that +Jason Morningstar had already created a starting package to take care of it. Oops. Still, what we did worked, and the parts we created together made the first duty station a bit less top-down.

We did two different duty stations. We did not switch GMs, which I was fine with. The door was open, but not everyone is interested in or comfortable with the role. That's fine.

I'm not sure how effective I was in dealing with Reaching Out moves, particularly failed rolls when writing letters. Usually I just, a bit later in the fiction, wrote a letter back they would receive of some bad news. "Your brother has been send to Stalingrad. We're all praying for him."

We had quite a few airwomen perish as well. More most other games I've run. Regard gives some in-game consequence to death, but many left shock waves through the fiction. A friend is lost. The star pilot is proven mortal. A rivalry ends in a fiery wreak.

Wheels Down
I really liked Night Witches. It was a great game that had me often thinking about what was going to happen next session. Nothing was expected. Every session had the potential for surprises.

And the setting and play was rich enough to offer a bit of everything. Some historical details might appeal to one player, and the danger of a personal relationship might appeal to another.

It was never boring.

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"The American Civil Liberties Union says it has raised over $10 million since Saturday morning and gotten over 150,000 new members in what the group’s executive director calls an “unprecedented” response to President Trump’s executive order blocking entry into the United States from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries."

I joined the ACLU ( on the 19th. I opted in for email updates, and everything I've seen them do since then has been focused and meaningful.

If you're looking for a concrete, positive step to resisting Donald "grab them by the pussy" Trump, and you're financially able to do so, donating to the ACLU is an excellent option.

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Days to majority disapproval in Gallup public opinion polls, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1981:

Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): 727
George H.W. Bush (1989-1993): 1,336
Bill Clinton (1993-2001): 573
George W. Bush (2001-2009): 1,205
Barack Obama (2009-2017): 936
Donald "grab them by the pussy" Trump (2017): 8
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