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Willow Palecek

Games I played in 2017

3:16: Carnage Amongst the Stars: I ran two 2-hour sessions of this back to back at Gencon. A great morning dumb shoot-em-up game with added military hilarity.

Apportionment: I ran this at Gencon for a total of six players, probably the theoretical minimum the game supports. Through a mistake that was totally my fault, I mishandled the delicate negotiations, turning what seemed like a done-deal for a peace settlement, and probably doomed Sirai to another generation of war.

Blades in the Dark: Ran a short two session game. This is a game that takes some getting used to. Certainly something I’d try again.

Burning Wheel: I ran a few sessions of a “Burning Italy” game set during the plague. It didn’t quite work out- a botched resources roll bankrupted the entire party.

Call of Cthulhu: I played a one-shot. I don’t particularly care for the BRP system, but the GM had done a lot of research and the characters were based on actual historical people, which was pretty cool.

Carolina Death Crawl: I facilitated a four player game of this at Gencon. It was totally brutal. I loved it.

Conclave: I ran two sessions, one at Forge Midwest and one at Gencon. This one is almost ready to go!

Crowdfund Dungeon: The annual Forge Midwest Crowdfund Dungeon, using the Itras By engine. In 3-D.

Deadlands Classic: I played in a several month campaign of this. The system has some very warty bits but more or less holds up- it’s still much more interesting than the rather bland Reloaded version. Good fun.

Dungeon Crawl Classics: I ran a oneshot of this (using the Scenic Dunnsmouth adventure), and played in a oneshot at Gameholecon. Always fun.

Dungeon World: At a Christmas get together with my family, my sister and I conspired to get my parents to play DW. It was a great success, with my mom saying “well if you’re not going to try to steal the ivory horn, I’m going to,” and “why don’t we play another hour?”

Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition: I ran a Tomb of Horrors one-shot. They won! (Because they didn’t find the final crypt.)

Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition: Played one session of this. Decided not to go back.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: Easily my most played game of the year- finished up a several months long Curse of Strahd game, and recently started running a Tomb of Annihilation game.

Ghost Court: At Gameholecon I ran a small session of this for a very small playgroup of four players (including myself), but we rotated roles of Judge, Court, Plaintiff and Defendant, and it worked very well.

Kagematsu: I ran Kagematsu at Games on Demand at Gencon. Great fun, introduced it to a bunch of new players.

Mermaid Loves Bigfoot: I played a Kappa looking for love in this LARP at Forge Midwest. I didn’t find it with the Nymph, but I hit it off with Old Shuck (a dog that kills pedophiles. Who doesn’t love dogs that kill pedophiles?)

Monsterhearts: At Minnesota Longcon, I played in an excellent multi-session game of Monsterhearts with a lot of really great people. One of the best games of the year.

NSDM: I played three sessions of the National Security Decision Making Game at Gencon. I got a prize for my play as one of the branches of the Pakistani Muslim League, using casual corruption to funnel government funds into my own wallet. I would have done better if I hadn’t gotten caught.

Powered by the Apocalypse World: I ran a session of my satirical game about game designers at Forge Midwest.

Ryuutama: Colin ran a short campaign of this- maybe four sessions or so? A very charming game. I played a jam maker.

SCUP: I ran a short game set in Medieval Italy during the Plague. A continuation of the Burning Italy campaign. Still didn’t quite work.

Shock: Social Science Fiction: I ran a very short one-shot at Gencon for Games on Demand, really more of a teaser of the game, and ran another one-shot for the Fastcast gang.

Sig: Manual of the Primes: I ran a two session game- character creation and adventure, that highlighted the weirdness of the setting, but didn’t quite come together.

Sign: The game where you play Nicaraguan children learning sign language. I played a one-shot at Gameholecon. One of my favorite games of the year.

Smellementary: I got to playtest Eric Farmer’s game about dog detectives wearing hats at Gameholecon. It is just what it sounds like.

Stars Without Number: I joined a campaign of this and played a few sessions at the end. We did the thing and got home!

Swords and Wizardry: I played in a multi-GM campaign for a few months. It was an interesting experience. I wish the groups and players were a little more fluid- it seemed like the subgroups ended up gelling together and there wasn’t a lot of movement from one party to another.

The End?: I played a T-Rex politician. We got to sing the National Anthem of Dinosauria. (Forge Midwest)

The Laundry Files: Colin ran a short game of this- I enjoyed it, playing a lawyer specializing in occult contract law, and the adventure turned out to be about a potential breach of contract between humanity and the deep ones, but any fun that was had was driven by interactions between the players and was in spite of the adventure and the system.

The Watch: Joe Beason ran a great oneshot at Chicago Games Day. Wish it were longer.

Timewatch: I played a oneshot of this at Gameholecon. I saved time. The GM was very excited about the game, which was great, but didn’t have the best ability to pace things for a con slot, so it really dragged in places, and we had some players who wanted to investigate every little thing, rather than move on to the next plot point.

Traveller, 1st Edition: I played in a several months long game of this. I did not die during character creation. I learned a few things about the system- attributes are pretty much worthless, skills are where it’s at. This is a game that started out very sandboxy, but narrowed into a railroad, possibly due to the fact that we had a limited number of sessions for the game.

Traverser: I got to playtest this game by Paul Czerge. Looking forward to more of this one!

Uncharted Worlds: I ran the first few sessions of a game that fell apart due to scheduling. Still, it was pretty cool.

Unknown Armies: I played a truly surreal session of this at Gameholecon, where all of the characters were children and trapped in some sort of time loop.

Verdant: I played Tim Koppang’s game in development at Chicago Games Day. It was like David Lynch presents The Scarlet Letter.
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A newspaper I created for a Deadlands game I'm playing in. (My character is Kitty Hutchins, the reporter.)
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#Fastcast #Podcast Episode 49: Tropical Diseases (feat. Misha Payne)

We talk about Tropical Diseases, and how to use them in fantasy roleplaying games.
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Spread the word! #Forgemidwest 2018 will be April 27-29 in Madison Wisconsin, at the Best Western East Towne Suites.
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Name- Vazz Dund
Rank- 3- Lt.
Position: Command
Background: Male Bolian Officer. He served in Starfleet during the Dominion War, and saw heavy combat duty. While defending an outpost in Cardassian space, served as field medic after his unit's doctor was killed by a Jem'Hadar weapon. Enjoys human food, as long as it is spicy. Has a wife and co-husband on Boleus.
Unlike most Boleans, who are known for their gregarity, Vazz Dund is rather terse, gruff even.

So prepping Tomb of Annihilation for the Eberron setting.

Some challenges:

Eberron doesn't have a great 5E port. There's the Unearthed Arcana article, but it seems they lowballed a lot of the power options for the races and the Artificer wizards. Anyway, that doesn't matter since none of my players picked those options.

In addition to familiarizing myself with a pretty complicated adventure, I have to re-familiarize myself with a setting, at least well enough to explain the basics of it.

The Realms is a great big generic kitchen-sink fantasy. If there's a trope, it's there. It's actually too-saturated with interesting stuff; everything has decades of back support and lore. The result is a sort of overstimulation; if anything is anything, then nothing has meaning. Also it seems each edition change used some sort of in-setting deus ex machina to explain rules changes. I think 3rd -> 4th was the Spellplague, and 5E just sorts of rolls with it? If something weird happened, the Spellplague did it.

Whereas Eberron is big and has a lot of stuff going on, but it's got a pretty consistent theme, and everything comes down to a few essential easy to understand tropes. Steampunk, Post-War Period, Magic is Technology, D&D Characters are Pulp Heroes. I don't even know how to categorize the Realms in just a few phrases like that.

ToA says you can just replace Port Nyanzaru with Stormreach and call it a day, but then you're throwing out a good chunk of the adventure, and a great level of detail. So I basically took the peninsula of Chult, dropped it on Xen'Drik (the north edge of Phoenix Basin, in case you're interested).

Easy right?

Not so fast. The adventure is still filled with a bunch of Realms/Adventurer's League NPCs. The Order of the Gauntlet. The Lord Alliance. The Druid Guys. The Zhentarim (it's always the fucking Zhents. If it's not the Zhents, it's the Red Wizards. Or the Red Wizards and the Zhents.) Some of these are easy swaps: Lord's Alliance -> Some dude working for a great power. Order of the Gauntlet -> Church of the Silver Flame. Zhents -> Ordinary criminal scumbags. Red Wizard? -> (SPOILERS). Others are harder. What the hell do I do with the Flaming Fist mercenaries? Do they work for a Nation-State (as they do in the Realms?) Someone else?

Well, one thing is to look at the setting. Think about the Dragonmarked Houses- how do they interact with Nyanzaru? Everyone wants a piece of it, but you've got these merchant princes who are as rich as you are, and even if they scheme against each other, they make a united front against outsiders.

So what do they do? Mostly prospect. So it makes sense for them to be House Tharashk mercenaries (they can even keep the Flaming Fist name, it's bad ass). Now it's not just some mercs threatening you, it's a trade-guild/megacorp.

The Harpers can just cease to be.

Also, religion. There's basically one human pantheon in Eberron, which also has some appropriation doctrines- your nine gods are the same as our nine gods! Oh you have fifteen gods? They are the same as our nine gods, with six extra special bonus gods.

So any diety who's name I recognized (Gond, Sune, Tyrmora, boring, boring, boring), got shifted straight to the Eberron counterpart. The local patron deity is Savras, which is obscure enough that it had to be summarized in the adventure. I assume it's an established Realms god, but I decided to keep it as a Temple of Savras, Khorvairans assume Savras is an aspect of Aureon, Chultans say no he isn't, both sides think the other is so cute in their ignorance.

(Without saying too much about the adventure, in case any of my players are reading this, some of this religion stuff will actually be important later. I'm already grinning in anticipation.)

That's about it. Syndar Silvane becomes a researcher with Morgrave University in Sharn. Somethings are easy to reskin, some it's worth it to put a little more effort in to individualize things. Other things are a bit more difficult, but fun to think about (Where can I put in warforged? How about this other thing...)
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Is it wrong of me that I want to write a D&D adventure that starts as a delve and ends with a Tarantino-esque/Mountain Witch style pvp free for all where all the player characters kill each other, and the survivor escapes with the loot?
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Wild idea- 1v1 roleplaying game- police detective interrogating the cunning serial killer. Each has information that they want from the other person- the detective wants to solve the crime, the criminal wants to dredge up the detective's unhappy past. Some sort of card play where the cards represent different conversational gambits that force a particular response?
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In which I talk about the new D&D: Tomb of Annihilation Board Game.
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