Thursday, July 28, 2011

GoW Depressing?

I thought this article from April was an accurate take on Gears of War. I'm not saying the author is correct, but that they make some sense. If you look at the setting from this standpoint, it's very depressing.

In thinking on the article, I was reminded of many of the games I tried to run in the late 1990s-early 2000s. They were very much like what the author describes. Given the group I was running for, I can see why the games failed. I don't think I knew how to phrase what I was trying to run and most of the audience would not have been receptive to this style of role playing game. You must sell it correctly, sell it to the right people, and make sure everyone (including yourself) understand the tone of the setting going in.

That said, I'm still more than willing to run a bleak setting like this in an rpg. It doesn't bother me one bit. I'm also looking forward to GoW3, reading more of the books, picking up the board game from Fantasy Flight Games, GoW4/Exile for the Kinect, and maybe even checking out the comic book series if it shows up in graphic novel format. I do love me some Gears.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


The city of Lanark was a small community until the end of World War II. At that time, the government installed housing for the returning men and women of the armed forces. With the influx of people came the need for work and food. Local farming communities, such as the Village, hired men from Lanark to work the very farms that were feeding their city. Manufacturers from Port City and River Town set up plants in the area to capitalize upon the need for employment. The small town soon became a city, complete with civil service departments and the problems that come with them.

The outward image of Lanark is one of freedom and the opportunity to make one’s mark in the world. The truth of the matter is that the city is filled with corruption and a lack of true leadership. The corruption is so deep that the chief of police has let a Eastern European criminal group set up a half-way house from bringing slaves into and out of the country. Sheriff Lucas has even gone so far as to bring the magistrate of the county in on the scandal, so that the magistrate can receive monies that allow him to stay in office.

For a town gripped in corruption, there is relatively little (reported) crime. The police are swift to crack down on any criminals operating independently and the courts are swift to look the other way when cries of police brutality are spoken. What crime that does get reported is low-end, usually non-life threatening: home burglaries, drugs, some prostitution (often with men from surrounding towns and cities), and the occasional barroom fight over a woman. What often is not reported upon are those crimes related to the Chakarova family.

What is hard for Sheriff Lucas to cover up are Markus Anthony’s gang bangers that drive up from Port City to hit Tiberius Chakarova’s family. Markus has learned he can’t take the family out when they are in their countryside homes, there is simply too much security. Instead, Markus has begun targeting Tiberius’ places of business within the city limits. These include prostitution dens with foreign girls working in them. Eventually, some of the girls are picked up by reporter s or police. They end up with the police if the reporters pick them up. The police will release them once Tiberius’ lawyer arrives to bail them out or simply represent them. Once released, the girls are taken to a country home and moved out of state to another community where they can be put back to work. Markus Anthony hopes that by attacking these locations, it will either scare Tiberius and his operation away or expose Tiberius to reporters who would dig into the background of the prostitution. Thus far, neither has occurred. In fact, Tiberius is in the process of bringing more muscle from Yugoslavia to America to help provide more muscle.

The Village

The Village is a tourist trap. It is essentially a quaint, one part New England-chic, one part Midwestern-quiet town. The town is mostly shops and a few bed and breakfasts, interspersed with homes. The last census ranked the town as a hamlet, with only 1574 living souls.

The Village began as a farming community at the turn of the century and never grew larger than a hamlet. In the 1990s and early ‘00s, moneyed individuals began buying up property and setting up businesses. After the stock market crash, many tried to sell their property before the banks began foreclosing. It didn’t work and most of the houses that once were summer homes to the rich in Port City, now stand empty.

Outside of the tourist seasons, the town is mostly empty. The only shops that remain open are owned by those who live in the Village. Once Halloween rolls around, it’s almost as bad as Ghost Town. Come Thanksgiving, the place opens again for the holiday season. By New Year’s Day, it’s as quiet as Snow White awaiting her spring apple.

You have probably seen parts of town on different travel and food programs. The Tree House B&B has won several awards for its design and use of natural elements in the building. Dave’s Diner is often featured as the best restaurant you’ve never visited. Angel’s is known for their award winning steaks that are “the best this side of the river.”

The library is a quiet building full of classical reads and a few of the more modern New York Times bestsellers. While there are fewer than 20,000 books on the shelves, the library contains town records going back to the founding of the Village. The genealogy section of the library contains birth records and family trees for all of the households that have lived in here for more than two or three generations. In fact, the stewards of the genealogy department are often requested as presenters to genealogy clubs, state universities, and other libraries in the area.

The center of town features Independence Park. It’s a classical park featuring a large green and gazebo that’s perfect for weddings. The town puts on a nice Fourth of July festival, complete with a grilling contest, games for the kids, and a fireworks display. It’s not as large or fancy as what you will find in Port City or Lanark, but it is a family tradition for many.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The new home for Runequest is . I haven't looked into it, yet, but I know a few of you are fans.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ideas for a Neuro Tarot

Taking an idea from Lowell Francis, I’m working through a neuro tarot as a means to help me with the games I run.  He defines it as, you could make a your own version of a tarot deck reflecting the ideas, images and concepts most important to you.” You can find his article here. There are two articles that go into the concept further here and here. I am probable to use it with the concepts presented in Microscope, as well. Lowell walks us through using it in a session here.

I’m not going with my own thoughts/ideas for this quite yet. Instead, I’m going to combine ideas of things I like. The major cards will be represented by the Tree of Life, as represented in various schools of thought…Gnosticism, Qabbalah, etc. The minor cards will be various ideas that I want to incorporate in some manner. These are largely just concept cards and represent the first stages of my own neural tarot. The suit cards are based on 5 of the angelic orders.

Please keep in mind that this is a work in progress and nothing is near finalization. I still have much work to do with the imagery and definitions of each card.

Card Count – 68
Major Cards – 10
Suits – 30 (5 suits of 6 cards each, could be expanded to 7 cards each using the concept word)
Minor Cards – 28 (4 sets of 6 cards each and 1 set of 4)

Major Cards
words in parenthesis are a current array of imagery

Kether/Thaumiel  (the king) – Unity, kingship/Duality, anarchy, corruption of leadership
Chokhmah/Chaigidiel (the queen) – Wisdom/Arrogance, confusion
Binah/Sathariel (the knight, female) – Understanding, revealing/Judgmental, concealment
Chesed/Gamichicoth (the page, male) – Kindness, mercy, youth/Ruthlessness, laziness
Geburah/Golab (the hardboiled man) – Severity, strength/Prideful destruction
Tipareth/Togarini (the femme fatale) – Beauty/Falsehood, the dead
Netzach/Harab-Seraph (the samurai) – Eternity, openness of love, victory through honor/Death, rejection, victory through betrayal
Hod/Sammael (the merchant) – Splendor/Rotten, barren, desolation
Yesod/Gamaliel (a group working together in a field) – The word, foundation/Misshapen and polluted, destruction
Malkuth/Nahemoth or Lilith (a group planning together around a table) – Kingdom, kingship/Lacking in unity or purpose; frightening sounds in strange places, causing strange desires

Suit name is in bold, concept of the suit is in italics, cards are plain-faced

peace & order
physical realm

organization/large groups
freedom to act

order (maintaining it)
freedom (of the soul)
balance (of the spirit and body)

justice and authority
stability amongst people
the planets

workers of miracles
heavenly bodies

Minor Cards
Alchemy (not sure about this one)

No movement



Life (can these be worked in somewhere else?)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fog Warren

Reality is changing

• Violent crime is on the rise
• Crimes that appear to start as non-violent, are becoming violent
• The number of criminal cases that remain open has increased just as much as violent crime's rise
• The inability to solve these crimes is due as much to law enforcement’s inability to determine whom are the sources of the attacks, as much as, the weapons of the attacks (missing body parts of the victims, bodies torn wide open, etc.)
• Neighbors either band together or turn on each other
• Neighborhood watch groups begin propping up the local law enforcement, casing the streets for criminals and perceived threats
• Gun sales are on the rise

The city is dying
• Ten years ago, the town was blooming into a real city
• Retail businesses were on the rise
• Manufacturing companies continuously poured money into the area
• Corporations looked at the town as a good place to set up small offices
• Population is now on the decline
• Retail struggles to make enough money to keep the lights on
• Manufacturing jobs are few and far between
• Corporations and other sponsors are leaving as quickly as they can
• Funding to the school corporations is drying up as the tax base leaves
• Police and fire employees are leaving due to poor wages

Welcome to the government town
• Government is now the largest employer in the county
• Micromanaging is the practice of the day in town hall
• Monies meant for school and police often go to initiate failed programs that “just need one more opportunity to be successful.” This includes joining the technology band-wagon after the tech-industry’s melt down
• The county-run penitentiary is now accepting criminals from state-wide in order to gain more funding
• One of two hospitals has closed.
• The first, privately owned, closed before it could not pay off all of its debts. The building now stands empty
• The second is partially funded by government grants
• The state university is doing all it can to attract students, including foreign students
• Tech colleges sprout up for a year and then disappear
• The local private university is struggling to keep its client base
• The local ports struggle with upkeep, jeapordizing future business

This isn’t my neighborhood
• The streets are more narrow and in disrepair
• The alleys are filled with debris and derelicts
• Long shadows stretch from the bad side of town into every nook and cranny
• Neighbors are missing or found in the local mental hospital
• Homes for sale don’t sell and often stand empty

Tooth and Claw
• The news showed the remains of a bear attack at the local grocery store.
• The little old lady that lives behind me was found with a bloody butcher knife and the remains of her daughter in law on the kitchen table. Bite marks were reported on the thighs. The grandchildren and father were found unconscious in another room
• Coyote attacks on local farms are increasing. Local ranchers speak of selling and moving down the coast
• Homeless are being found without their eyes
• Applications to own pit-bulls are increasing
• A pack of feral dogs just ran past chasing a small boy and no one is bothering to call for help

Other Towns have the same problem
• Hunger City
• Rain Town
• And now Fog Warren

Maybe it isn’t

edited July 23, 2011 by Derek to correct a city name and then I changed it back