Everybody Loves Cats on The Gauntlet Podcast

I recently wrote a small piece about how to introduce a story game to your group. I called it the CATS method.

The folks from The Gauntlet Podcast found it and they talked about it on a recent episode.

The Gauntlet Episode 53 – Everybody Loves Cats

This is very cool for me, because that podcast happens to be my favorite story game podcast out there. It’s concise, intelligent and filled with good information. You should listen to it if you enjoy the hobby.

Also, search Google+ for The Gauntlet and you can join their very active gaming community. They run story games online or in person in various places around the world.

They also have other podcasts with can be found at www.gauntlet-rpg.com

Happy listening!

RPG Review: Spirit of ’77

SpiritOf77

Spirit of ’77 is a powered-by-apocalypse RPG designed by David Kizzia and Bob Richardson. The goal of the game is to emulate the characters and stories found in the colorful grindhouse cinema and kooky TV of the era.

In that, it does a good job. The tone and and moves are very thematic. Combining two playbooks (A story, and a role), give you a variety of character options. That happens to also be the one problem with the game. More on that below.

Sketch155181414One of our characters was an actor.

I ran this game twice with two different groups. Both of them worked out really well and were a blast to play once we got over the initial hick-ups.

To illustrate the problem, here are the two groups of characters I ran through the same scenario:

Disco Ambulance Scenario Group 1
– An ex-cop sleuth
– An x-tech honeypot
– A glam magician

adonisThe X-Tech Honeypot

Disco Ambulance Scenario Group 2
– A glam Bopper
– An ex-con Stuntman
– An all-star Bounty Hunter
– An alien honeypot
– An ex-con Sleuth

The problem with the game is that each character is so unique that it is difficult to make their motivations align without railroading. And the included scenerios don’t really address this problem.

fortuneCookieAdonis’s hit TV Show

With some good players, that is easily rectified by working together to tell a good story. With some bad or inexperienced players, the game can get pulled a too many different directions.

Besides that, though, Spirit of ’77 is a well-designed game and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the setting.

IMG_2941Barnaby and McCracken, before things went bad.

If you want to see the session recaps from group 1, I put them together in this document here.

The CATS Method: A Story Game Opening Ritual

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!

Fun with Video

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.

An Excerpt From My New Novel: Hellish Beings in Foul Places

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.