Friday, June 19, 2009


No Problemo running Paranoia on little sleep. No one knows anything anyway. Knowing the rules is treasonous. Disagreeing with the GM is treasonous. No wonder I love this game!

OK, ya gotta have some sleep. Todd had to catch a 8AM flight for some work thang. He took off around 6AM. I'd actually gotten to bed around 2:30. Tossed & turned as I was trying to work out an unresolved detail in the Paranoia game. About 3:30 it came to me to have the mission briefing on a roller coaster and be presented by an inspirational speaker type. 2.5 hrs later, woke up long enough to wish Todd good travels. Back to sleep...or not. Toss, turn, punch pillow, rinse, repeat... Not so much with the sleeping.

Arrived at the Paranoia game with a slack 2.5 hrs of sleep. Awesome! 5 Players for 6 slots. 2 of them had never played Paranoia. Awesome! They were both crashers. Awesome! Three Players had played with me before, Tom & Patrick Idleman & Mike Garcia. One registered Player came in & told me she was bailing as her husband had gotten into another game & they wanted to be together. Not so awesome. I told her I understood. (It's a game con. I don't really understand, unless she's a gamer girlfriend/wife. Hmmmm). After letting the con staff know that I had an opening, I assigned characters. In Paranoia, I've quit having Players pick characters. Instead I hand out the best combo of characters and have them pre-organized based on where they happen to sit down. Welcome to Alpha Complex.

I launched into the description of life in Alpha Complex. Ya gotta lay a lot of pipe to get folks to understand the world of Paranoia. But... launch isn't the right word. I stumbled, stammered, stuttered and struggled through the intro. Way less than awesome. Then a miracle occurred. I mentioned above that knowing the rules of Paranoia is treasonous. Experienced Paranoia Players know this - or should. I tried a trick which I try every time I run Paranoia. I paused to 'look something up' and asked young Patrick to explain how the die rolling works in Paranoia. He was kind enough to launch into it. After which I thanked him and then told him that he'd lost his 1st clone because he displayed knowledge of the rules. He looked shocked for a second, then pumped the air with both fists, shouted "awesome!" and marked the clone off on his character sheet. Now we were rolling!

I got the characters to the briefing room with minimal clone loss, but lots of whacky FunBot fun, when one of he Players got my attention. "Friend GM?" he asked. "Yes, friend Player?" He took a breath, "I don't think I'll have fun playing this game." Awkward silence... It was difficult for my sleep deprived brain to grasp the idea that anyone might not have fun playing Paranoia. Even later, I find it difficult. After what seemed to me like black hours of awkwardness, I recalled that there are some games that I'm not interested in playing. More importantly, I was glad to have someone realize that they weren't going to have fun early on rather than sit through hours of misery and make it less fun for everyone else. I thanked him. I really meant it.

The remaining Players had a great time. I had a great time. Patrick was stoked at having lost all of his clones even though one was lost in time. Afterward, I pitched the Dead of Winter event to them and the new Player pitched an idea to me. Sounded cool. I hope he submits it.

During check-out I lost the 3/4 case of energy drinks. Easy come. Easy go. I don't drink 'em anyway. I hope they weren't wasted. Wrapped Kubla by having an early dinner with Shannon McNamara. He's stoked on Dead of Winter. It was a great way to finish up. Can't wait til next year!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kubla Crasher

Sunday - Lazy day - unless you stay up 'til 4AM the night before and organize a pick-up game at noon. While some folks think it odd, I bring a 3-gallon water jug, an electric teapot, tea, trail mix and food bars to every con. This was breakfast Sunday AM in the room. Up at 10AM. Ready to go by 11. No game to run that day, so the day was wiiiiide open.

Jack Young's pick-up game was a continuation of a game that a bunch of us had started a few weeks prior. Jack guessed that it would take about 4 hours. Heck, he'd run the game Friday night, so he had a good handle on it. Ya know where this is goin doncha? I didn't get into a 3:30 horror game that I wanted, so no problem until 5:30 - Gil Trevizo's Cthulhu game. Jack's game went to the wire (totally worth it - I almost pulled off a brilliant finale, but the final die roll went against me) and I had to dash off to make it to Gil's. Since I didn't officially get in, I wanted a shot at crashing. Didn't think I had much of a chance as I'd had 8 people waiting to crash my game.

Gil uses a great system for dealing with crashers. I'm totally gonna use it for my games. He puts out a sign-in sheet for both 'registered' Players and crashers. I got lucky and signed as the 1st crasher. Luckier still, 3 registered Players didn't show. Half of the Players! Not quite as surprising as it sounds - there was a mix-up in the time of the game. One time in the program - 6PM. One on the eratta sheet - 8PM. A promise from the staff to fix it for 8PM. Didn't happen & it was set for 6PM.

At 6:10 Gil dispersed characters and seated everyone. He wanted specific seating based on the character relationships. Funny thing is, I'd done the same thing with my game the night before and Todd the same Friday night. Great minds thinkin alike? Well, maybe those two. He'd actually assigned seats and we were doin the musical chairs thing when two of the registered Players arrived. Awkward! One was the GM who had just run the horror game I'd failed to get in. The other was her hubby. Tough choice for Gil. I don't envy him. At first he was inclined to shuck the decision onto the crashers, but he finally GM'd up and told crashers #2 & #3 that they had to give up their seats. Brutal. I spent the next 15 minutes in fear that the Player I'd supplanted would show. He eventually did, but a coupla hours into the game. Whew!

The game rocked and in the end my character gave his life to rescue everyone else. He also got to do in the evil woman that got us into the horrible mess we got into. Very satisfying. Now, Gil scheduled the game for 6 hours. With delays caused by musical chairs +, and Players doin what they do, we wrapped at about 2AM. Hmmmm. I'm scheduled to run Paranoia, Monday at 9AM. Curse me for not trying to get a 10AM slot. No problem on 6 hours of sleep. Make that 5.5 hours. I gotta check out of the hotel Monday AM, so I needed to pack & be ready to do that during a break from the Paranoia. No problemo...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Kubla

Got some much needed sleep on Friday night. Saturday brunch with Todd Furler, Sean Nittner, and the This Modern Death duo. Great way to start the day. Then did some final polishes on the Monday Paranoia game and picked out mini's for Sat nite Cthulhu game. I ran out of time on Friday & just tossed a bunch of figures in a file box. Turns out I had just the right ones. Whew!

Actually got into Todd's Unknown Armies game at 3:30. Great set of Players. Much actual Role-Playing going on as opposed to mechanics operation or plot moving. As always I learned new things about running games, such as how to influence metagaming without pushing it. Was wowed by the way the story unfolded and how character interactions set themselves up by allowing an 'open' role-playing situation at the start of the game.

Now things got tricky. Several situations converged to make the next hour 'interesting'. 1. Todd's game ran until 7:30. My Cthulhu game was scheduled at 8PM & I didn't bring the stuff with me. 2. Our room was on the opposite side of the hotel and 5 floors up. 3. I had to get something to eat. 4. I pimped my Dead of Winter event after Todd's game. Sean Nittner offered to bring it to the Good Omens crew. Thanks Sean! 5. I ran into a well-meaning convention staffer, who runs horror games. He offered me a case of energy drinks to take to my game. Being an overly-helpful and nice guy (a freakin curse for a horror guy) I waited for him to get the case & bring it to the game room.

When I finally got to the room, there were 14 people there. This for a game of 6 Players! Daaaang! Freakin humbling. Good thing I had enough energy drinks for everyone. Typically there are folks who get into games who flake and I can accommodate a coupla crashers. One of the crashers, a teenaged guy, told me he'd arrived 1.5 hours before the game. He seemed cool enough, but this game was intended for 'seasoned' adults and I was, for the 1st time, hoping I wouldn't have to let someone in. Turns out all of the people who got in, showed. Whew! A few people chose to hang out & watch. This can be a drag, but they were respectful & I hardly noticed em.

I tried music for the 1st time. I'd spent weeks fine-tuning a Pandora station. Turns out the hotel charges to get online, so I passed on that. I'd loaded a bunch of dissonant music Thursday night (why I needed sleep Friday). I played it in the background & during a break was complimented on how well it worked with the game. In a conversation with Todd later, he mentioned that he's discovered that people tune into the music when it supports their mood at a given moment. So, for the most part, the music almost always seems perfect.

The scenario was designed for male characters. Turns out that I had two women Players, which I'm always glad to see. It's one reason I like running CoC. They both did great, getting into important aspects of the charcacters. Jill Stapleton was one of the Players. I'd played with her at DunDraCon and she was fun there as well. The other woman made a totally intersting choice with her character, the local outdoor giude. He was the strong silent type. She played the silent aspect to the hilt and created a phenomenal character. I'd scheduled the game for 7 hours, plotted it out at 6 and it came it at 6.5. Now I got going half an hour late, due to situations 1-5 above. So, the game wrapped at exactly the 7 hour mark. Amazing for me as I typically go into overtime.

Tired and satisfied with a game that went well, had great Players and went interesting places that I didn't expect, I stumbled back to the room with 3/4 case of energy drinks and Todd, who had stopped by & fallen asleep. Me running on a post-game high & him newly awake, we stayed up another hour chatting. Finally dropped off around 4AM. Forgot to mention that I had also organized a pick-up game for Sunday noon. Good thing I remembered to set the alarm.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kubla +

Such a long time since I posted. Where to start...Oh yeah - Kuuuuubla! KublaCon was last month and as usual it was a stellar time. Friday I was able to arrive at exactly the starting bell. I picked up my badge etc. and immediately began connecting with people. Sheesh I know a ton of people at Kubla! Saturday I ran into more folks and it struck me how many SF Bay gamers I know. I spent quite awhile with Justin Means. Great guy, who I've only recently met and it was great to get to know him better.

I didn't officially get into a game, but I was able to crash Todd Furler's Hollow Earth Expedition game. As always, top-notch.

At the end of the game I handed out postcards to an even I'm hosting in December - The Dead of Winter Horror Invitational. It's a weekend of horror RPG's at the haunted Brookdale Lodge in the Santa Cruz Mountains - just up the road from my house. Had a teriffic response. Got the website up for it last weekend. 2 Freakin weeks after Kubla, but at least it's up and folks I've invited are checking it out. A coupla guys on the GM Forum have indicated that they'll come and Gil Trevizo's already sent me ideas for two games. I wanna get games lined up as quickly as possible. Finally got details ironed out with the Brookdale Lodge last week, so now everything's current on the website.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Last night I rec'd a pckage from Chaosium. In it was a copy of BRP Adventures. It's a collection of adventures for the new BRP system. They held a contest for adventures. I wrote one of the adventures in the collection. I'm now a published game writer. I'm stoked!

My adventure is Terror At 6666 Feet. It's a B-movie adventure I've run a few times. I've since run another B-movie game. Now I'm now inspired to submit a collection of 13 B-movie adventures to Chaosium as a monograph. I figure I can write up my new B-movie game and convert several CoC adventures. Gotta figure out all 13 and submit a proposal to Chaosium. Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An A+!

The first session of C-Punk with Player generated characters went off rather well. The run-up to the event was interesting. I asked everyone to write up their character background based on their original idea and any input from the Lifepath portion of character creation. Gotta say that this has produced some veeeery interesting characters. I also had them do 2 things. The first borrowed from Don't Rest Your head.
1. What Just Happened? Tell me what happened to the character within the last 24 hours that's bringing them to the Forlorn Hope (bar) where the game's gonna kick off.
2. What/who connects you to the Hope?

This combo of things made me feel like a teacher. Some Players sent me their bio within a couple of days, complete with photos. I use photos to create 4X6 'standees' in acrylic stands, which the Players put on the table to remind the other Players how cool they look. Others sent them on the last day w/o pics. Lastly, some phoned it in, giving me an hour or so to wedge them into the opening scene. So, some people got A's, some B's and a coupla D-'s. The D-'s had 'reasons' of course. It was fun to get the bio's but kinda weird as people were asking for approval and making sure they didn't need to make any changes. I got to have interesting dialogue with those who turned in early. Mostly the bio's were very cool with only minor tweaks needed.

Once we sat down, (everyone brought food and we had quite a spread) I asked them what time they arrived at the bar - a spread from 8PM -1:30AM. Everyone got a little time in the spotlight when they came into the bar. I played some music to set the atmosphere for the bar. There was a little crossover and then their various connections hooked them up. The next day, I got the following Emails from the Players:
Just wanted to thank Matt for a great 1st Cyberpunk 2020 session with our own characters! I had fun and thought everyone did a grand job getting into character. I can't wait to go play in the Colombian consulate next week. :)
Indeed, thanks.

Kickin' good start. The grand job of getting into character was totally due to the backgrounds. Awesome! The rest of the backgrounds should come in this week. Overall, the opening session gets an A+! (if I do say so myself)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Plan Comes Together

Spent Monday evening working on the Cyberpunk characters. Everyone picked roles they like and it looks like a team will emerge. The plan of running a sample game to prep people for this process worked like a charm. Folks came with ideas and them tweaked them easily during the process. + it was fun! Character generation can be a drag, but we had a good time.

I asked for them to work up bios based on the Lifepath process. I've already had several Email exchanges on this. Everyone's going to have a connection to the Forlorn Hope, a bar from an supplement. I Emailed everyone the background on the bar. I also 'borrowed' from the game DON'T REST YOUR HEAD. The character generation process includes a series of questions. One of these questions is, "What just happened?" For the C-Punk game, this will tell me why the characters are going to the bar at this time.

It goes against my grain to start the game in a bar. It's so old school D&D. But then we're playing C-punk 2020. It's now a retro 80's game. Weird. One has to go with the tech as imagined then, as opposed to where it's actually gone. It's like original Traveller where ship's computers were figured in tons. Funky. Next week's the kickoff...