Archive for April, 2016


dread-rpg-cover

Dread has a great concept. It’s a horror RPG by Epidiah Ravachol where you pull blocks from a tower to perform actions. If you tower falls, you die. Pulling from an increasingly unstable tower is a great mechanic that simulates the escalating tension of the story.

I’ve played it a few times and I figured out that I prefer to run it faster, deadlier, and with a little twist to keep players more engaged after they die.

To see how that can be accomplished check out the video below. It contains several rules modifications that you can use as options to add some twists to a standard game of Dread.

Hack #1: Shorten the Questionnaire

Cut down the 13 question character creation system and instead focus on a the smallest amount of questions that accomplish two goals:

  • Giving the player a character concept to work with
  • Giving the character a reason to engage with the story

Hack #2: Speed up the game

I think 4+ hours is too long. Sure, a slow-burn sense of dread is really great if you can pull it off. But the mechanics are too simple and it takes too long to get the ball rolling. Playing a shorter 1-1.5 hour game really lets you ratchet up the tension and keep it up.

Hack #3: Make it Deadlier

Use the most unstable block tower you can possibly find. Barring that, pull more blocks before starting the game and after each player dies. Here is the one featured in the video:

0425162123a-1Tower and photography by Val Ballerini (Through a Cracked Lens)

 

Hack #4: My favorite!

You’ll have to watch the video for this one. I’ll just say that it has to do with the dead players messing with the living while they are trying to pull blocks.

For more gaming related materials check out the Games tab at the top of this page.

Cats
CATS

Before playing a game, or even introducing the rules, there needs to be a conversation at the table to set expectations. A game runs smoothly when all players understand what the group is striving for. But how do you do it? You use the CATS method! Everyone loves CATS.

This codified presentation will allow the facilitator to hit four essential topics quickly and easily. Just start from the top.

Concept

Pitch this game. At a high-level, what’s it about?

Aim

Explain what the players are trying to accomplish. Can someone win? Can everyone lose? Are we trying to tell a specific type of story?

Tone

Have a quick conversation about the tone of the game. What is the default? Are there different options for gameplay? (Serious vs. Gonzo, Action vs. Drama, etc.). Come to a consensus on what the group wants.

Subject Matter

Explain what ideas might be explored during gameplay. Do they make anyone uncomfortable? Discuss what boundaries need to be set, if any.

Afterwards, everyone should have the same expectations for the upcoming game. This discussion shouldn’t be long, but it is essential. To significantly improve your gaming experience, spend five minutes with CATS before you play!

I’ve made a few short films in the past, but it’s been a long time since I picked up a camera. Until recently, that is.

A few weeks ago I decided to set up my Youtube channel and post regular videos. Some short films will be forthcoming, but for now I’ve been posting various things that wouldn’t quite be considered films.

I broke them into categories:

Visual Dystopia

  • A catch-all for the random weird videos that I created and will continue to create. You never know what you are going to find!

Gaming

  • Reviews and actual plays of various story games, board games, and table top games

Patrick’s Antiques

  • I have been collecting weird things for years. This is where I get a chance to show some of them off.

Grandma Stories

  • My grandma is a cool old lady and she has stories to tell! Here is where you get to hear some of them.

Prose

  • Readings of my writings worthy of reading.

Other?!?

  • I have no idea what is here. Don’t go here.

And of course, you can always check out my Short Films at this playlist, or click on the link above.

I’ll keep you all updated on this site, but if you want to get regular updates you can subscribe to the channel here.

The below was an April Fool’s post.

It’s been some time since I posted about what I am currently writing. So I thought it might be a good idea to show you one of the chapters of my new novel in progress.

The novel is a short horror tale about an old women, the last of a line of monster hunters, who has to take on a unlikely apprentice. Since the chapters are short and sweet, I’m going to share three of my favorite ones.

Hellish Beings in Foul Places

Chapter 7: The Will of Mighty Fists

Charlotte smacked the boy on the back of the legs. “No!” she screamed. “Do not open your eyes!”

“But Granny-na-ma, how can I possible strike out at my foes without seeing them?” little Boris replied.

The way the little boy spoke, all prim and proper, really irked Charlotte, but what was she to do? He was the one foretold to take on the banner of the Conflagration of Forces Against Dark and Insidious Beings. She sighed, and smacked him across the face with her ironwood switch in frustration. A bead of blood appeared on his pale boy-skin.

They were in one of her many homes, a small grotto on the shores of Lake George. She had previously cleared the lake of those darn aqua-specters, so she thought this would be a good place to train. Boris didn’t know how to teleport yet, so she spent two days organizing a training area while he travelled by train and bus from Oregon.

When he arrived she had cleared three tons for dirt from under the house, lined the hole with bricks and sea glass, and covered it with one of her special hexes, a classic worm-brain teeth-rotter.

At first, the boy was a bit trepidatious about jumping into the training room, which Charlotte had to admit looked more like a serial killer’s pit than anything else. So she pushed him in and jumped down after him, gliding on her house coats to land gently on the dirt floor next to his splayed and bruised body.

Charlotte immediately started the lessons. She summoned some of the local spirits, telling them to come dressed as Dark Beings. Sebastian the tree fairy quickly arrived wearing what looked like a pile of lake-weed over his tiny perfect body. Charlotte told Boris to close his eyes and attack Sebastian.

He tried, but he obviously had no idea how to control his fourth sight yet, so he ended up smacking into the wall. When she was ten like him, Charlotte could easily knock out a minor specter with her eyes close, her ears plugged, and her taste-buds numbed! Kids these days…

And now, Boris stood before her, a bead of blood rolling down his cheek, his face hard. At least he wasn’t crying. But Charlotte knew that to get him into shape a lot more whips of that ironwood switch would be in order. She whipped it back and forth in the air, the loose-skin around her elderly arm flapping back and forth. Part of her was going to enjoy this.

Chapter 18: Deepest Darkest Fuji

The mountain rose above them. Charlotte hoped she had given Boris enough training in the past few weeks because this was going to be difficult. She looked over at him, his eyes wide and full of wonder. Until she met him in that bodega, Boris had never even left his home town. Now he was in Japan, at the base of Mount Fuji, with a line of Dark Beings descending down the wooded trail towards him.

Charlotte smiled with pride, revealing her dentures to the night air. The boy wasn’t scared. The initial awe at the spectacle before them had turned to a hard determination. He unwrapped the woven hemp rope from his belt and tied the Blue Marionette’s loop she had taught him onto the end of it. He reached for his belt and picked up dried corn husk, ready to tie it to the loop, but he hesitated, looked at her first.

The Privateer’s Husk was one of their most powerful components, capable of leveling a force of Dark Insidiousness as well as, if used incorrectly, any number of members of the Conflagration of Forces Against Dark and Insidious Beings.

Charlotte looked at the husk, and back to the young boy. The dangerous power of the husk verse the hard set of Boris’s tiny boy face. Piercing black eyes, downy skin, girlish hands clasping the husk.

She looked back at the approaching line of specters and demons, Tramplers and No-faces, Skin-gods and Pearl-eyes. She shook her head at Boris. No, he was not ready for the husk. They would have to defeat these foes with lesser powers. The husk would be needed later on when they faced Shaighoul. That was, of course, if they survived this one.

With a scream, Charlotte leaped into the air and started running up the trail in her slippers, Boris followed close behind, tucking the Privateer’s Husk back into his belt.

Chapter 29: Picking up the Pieces

Charlotte strode through what was left of Rio de Janeiro. Her elderly body barely had the strength to pull her over the fallen pieces of Christ the Redeemer. Not a single favela was left standing after the battle. How was she supposed to find Boris’s body in these multi-colored piles of rubble?

The poor kid had obviously died. There was no way he would have survived the struggle against Shaighoul. He was out of his league. Charlotte thought back on the battle, remembered Boris behind her as she stepped between him and the great beast, King of the Dark, Queen of the Insidious, Prince of Dread, the Handmaiden to Evil: Shaighoul. A great and hulking mass of tentacles and gore and shadows and teeth and flesh and putrid essence. She was almost out of power, having used the last of it to destroy The Puppets, his trio of dark and insidious cohorts.

With a last gasp of energy she pushed forward with her wrinkly hands, expelling every part of her essence directly as Shaighoul. The air shimmered around her and a great sweep of energy flew out towards the foul beast. In an explosion of magic, Shaighoul, and what remained of the city, was destroyed. Charlotte collapsed and didn’t awake until what felt like several days later.

She awoke with the warm sunlight on her face and knew she had won. Boris was nowhere to be found, but he could not have survived that magical blast. A blast far stronger than anything Charlotte had been capable of before.

“Great enemies make heroes of us all.” She said to no one in particular.

That was when she stumbled upon Boris. Or part of him at least. And she didn’t really stumble. More like slip on the shiny insides that had poured out of part of his torso. It was unmistakably his. She could tell by the pale white skin and the t-shirt with a carrot on it.

She found a leg a few yards away stuck under a burnt palm tree. Then, his head perched atop a pile of rubble like a sick trophy. Charlotte gagged. Only the thought of a world without Shaighoul kept her gullet from rising completely.

Then, she saw his arm. It was lying right where she had last seen him. Close to the magical blast, behind where she had been standing. Clutched in this tiny boy-fist was a dried corn husk.

The Privateer Husk.

It was blown open, it’s front end looked like an empty banana peel. That’s when she knew. Charlotte could never have created a magical blast big enough to destroy Shaighoul. It was Boris and this husk!

He had wielded it! He had killed Shaighoul and avoided destroying Charlotte in the process! He had wielded it like a knight wields a sword! Deadly and accurate like an extension of his own body. Boris was the one that destroyed Shaighoul. Not her. Boris. The young boy. The newest and final member of The Conflagration of Forces Against Dark and Insidious Beings.

Charlotte fell to her knees and wept. Wept tears of joy for the destruction of Shaighoul, and wept tears of sadness for Boris: a young boy who found the courage to use a husk to save humanity from a monster.


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