Saturday, February 04, 2006

Weekend Gaming


Something screwy is happening with the comments on my posts. At least two comments seem to have disappeared between the time that I went to reply and the time that the reply showed up. I don't mean "Deleted by the user" because that leaves a message to that effect.



As I predicted a few weeks ago, Google is starting to fall. We'll see how far this continues to go. Right now they are making one misstep after another: useless video search, untenable Ad-sense terms, Chinese censorship, poor concept for book search. Too much hubris.

Children of Fire

Friday night I went to friends - total non-game players, but into therapy, social discussion, religious left-wing spiritual types, bibliodrama, and so forth. They also had another family over, similar and also friends of ours. The hosts I had gotten to play Settlers of Catan, and they loved it, but I have never been able to convince them to play anything else. They will try some other games, but the only one they love to play is Settlers.

I described for them the RPG system that I wanted to play based on Children of Fire, and as soon they heard the words "role-playing angels" they went ballistic and wanted to play, wanted me to market it (I kept telling them it wasn't my idea, but they didn't listen), and were "all ababble" about it.

Before dinner I ran a few of them through an impromptu session to show them what it was like, making it up off the top of my head. Of course, when you do that, you lose a lot of the great vivid color descriptions that you would want to have prepared in advance.

I explained a little bit about the angel world, angel forms, and so on, and a bit about role-playing. The difficulty was in trying to get them to understand that I was the GM, and they were the players, as they kept trying to make up what happened in the world, instead of just telling me what they did themselves. Kind of amusing.

The story I made up:

They were newly born angels. Mike the archangel greets them and tells them that their purpose as angels is to gain grace, which they do by going on missions that he assigns. He immediately assigns them a mission to go to NYC, find someone named Herbert Smith, who is scheduled to die within 24 hours, and ensure that he regains his faith before dying, as he is right on the edge at this moment. He also warns them not to interfere with human's free will, and not appear in divine form (winged) unless absolutely necessary, as this appearance usually interferes with people's beliefs.

First they wanted to see Gabriel (I told them that this was impossible, as he was too high a rank). Then they tried to pester all of the other angels floating around to find out more info. I told them the clock was ticking and they would have to go already.

Then they said "We go straight to Howard Smith." I said "Where is he?" "In NYC" "Yes, but where?" "We're angels! We know everything!"

So I spent some more time explaining. This whole exercise doesn't really work very well unless your players have at least read some of the source material first.

They asked me some more questions: what can angels do (can't use the Internet)? How much do they know about Howard Smith (just his name)? and so on.

So they went down to NYC as humans and found it to be twilight. First they tried crying, hoping to attract attention, but then they weren't happy with the attention they attracted. So they tried getting a policeman to tell them where the library was, but the policeman, who was very busy, said that it would be closed right now.

They tried to pester him into using his policie ways to find someone for them at HQ, but the policeman firmly told them (ten times) that their best bet was a phone book, and eventually managed to get rid of them.

In a shop they found a phone book with twenty-six Howard Smiths. However, strangely near one of them was a black checkmark. They called this one and heard the message: "Hi! I'm probably out partying right now, so leave your name and number and I'll get back to you. BEEP!"

Then they tried calling all 25 other numbers and heard similar messages, no answer, hang-ups, and so forth. They argued about the checkmark for a while, and decided to go to that one's apartment.

Someone let them into the building, and they found this note on his door: "Howard, you bum! We came and you must have left already. We'll meet you down at the Manhattan club! See you, Paulie and Josie!"

More searching phone books, and down to the Manhattan club. Thump thumpa thumpa. They went inside and saw lots of people dancing around, and then they saw, headed toward them, a man with horns and fiery eyes.

At this point we had to stop for dinner, so I told them them rest: the man is a devil sent to stop them on their mission. They will have to tussle or otherwise occupy him and divide up. After entering the dance floor, they will see a man standing by himself by the side of the room. If they check closely, he is sweating and carrying explosives.

I asked them what they would do next. They said "Knock him down and cut the wire". I said "You just failed your mission". "Oh, because we interfered with free will?"

"Yes, which doesn't mean that you did the wrong thing." Herbert is one of the dancers, of course, and he is about to be killed without deciding once and for all if he has faith. If they convince Herbert before he dies, they fulfill their mission.

As far as stopping the explosives, this is a keen moral question for an angel, of course. On the one hand, your archangel is telling you that this is the will of god and that you are failing your mission. On the other hand, not stopping it would strike most people as immoral. What do you do? If you stop him, can you appeal the decision to a higher angelic court? And so on ...

I think those are interesting role-playing situations, which I would like to explore further. Unfortunately, my game players want to play Elves and Dwarves and bash Ogres. :-)


Lunch we went to somewhere else where I played a game of Rummikub with one of the kids before we started eating. It's a nice, quick game, albeit not a gamer's game.

I'm getting much better at not taking forever in passing. I just look at the board, go about two or three finagles deep, and if I haven't found a solution by then, I pass. Oh, I could probably win a few more games by looking deeper, but it isn't worth if, for me, to spend 80% more time to win 5% more often.

In any case, I accumulated first one, then the other joker, and finally found a way to put out all of my tiles at once using both of them. My opponent then could have gone out the next round.

Shul vote

Sat night my "old" shul, of which I'm still a member, had a long meeting about finally, finally building a shul. They have been renting this location for ten years, and the owners have been trying to get rid of them for about eight of those years. The latest plan is to build on the roof of this building. I wish them success, although I don't know if I should be voting, since I'm kind of involved in a new shul, now, and probably won't be participating, anyway.


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