Worlds to go back to

I haven’t been too productive of late, despite telling myself that once again I’d kick into gear following the New Year. It would be nice to say that this post will be the start of a new trend, but I’ve told myself that before, and I still quickly get sidetracked by something or other. I can hopefully make myself semi-productive for a while and maybe pull something together from all my draft posts (oh so many draft posts).

So, worlds I miss and want to go back to. Not ones I think about all the time, ones I work on more often. Mostly these are played experiences, ones I felt were never complete or I wish I could flesh out some more.


Legend of the Five Rings

So, I’ve managed a few times to put something together for this, as my incomplete play report from a few years ago might attest.

I did manage to round off a few plots that I had for my favourite character there. He was married off, above his station, into a new clan, which made sense from a story point-of-view but still felt at least one adventure too soon.

Always waiting in the wings was a backup character I made, a Centipede clan bushi who, after years of Phoenix clan training to master the art of attuning to the Void, had accidentally attuned himself to the Sun. He never had a chance to break out and do anything, and I doubt he ever will.

It would be cool to go back though. I always had great ideas for a Dragon shugenja, or to play a Scorpion how I felt he should be played, rather than how they inevitably were. With the new rules on the horizon, maybe I’ll get to try something out.


Dresden Files

The last time I played, my cryomancer had finally escaped his Doom as a Rulebreaker for naively reading a book on Outsiders, only to end up with a completely new Doom – never accept the help of the Genius Locum of a Leyline in order to trap a Necromancer inside an infinitely repeating second, no matter how good your intentions.

I had some ideas for pulling together a new game set in Las Vegas, with various clued in mobsters and the Lady Luck making several appearances, but I never got it off the ground. And with the Paranet Papers coming out with their own spin on Vegas, I was a little put off the idea.

More recently, I came up with a couple of ideas for other locations (Dublin with lots of Fae and Werewolf stuff going on, Hong Kong with Elemental Courts and probably Vampires and triads). I haven’t made any notes or anything on them yet.


The Goblin King

The Goblin King was a magic-powered supervillain in a game of Mutants and Masterminds. He was equal parts campy Batman villain and silly Venture Bros. villain, modelled in part on the Monarch.

But the game dried up just as I was starting to get the development going. Infiltrating the UN in order to have a conversation with the General Secretary, I had just let slip that the entire time we’d been playing, I’d been purposefully hamming up the ridiculous aspects of the character in order to avoid conflicts between Earth and the Goblin Dimension (which had been all but destroyed in a war under the previous, non-Human Goblin King).

I’m not sure how many other players picked up on the fact I’d been underplaying my abilities or motives, but I was enjoying it. I have a draft post sat around trying to rebuild the character in a few different superhero rules sets, but I’m not very happy with it.

One day, I might bring him back.



My A-Z of the setting as I had it imagined was written almost a year ago. It was heavily borrowed/stolen from a cyberpunk game I’d played in for months during 2011, which I enjoyed so much I attempted a not-so-subtle copy of it (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it).

I managed to run a game around 2014 or 2015 using some hastily cobbled together rules for cybernetics in FATE. One session in and I realised that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t the story the players were interested in, and I called it quits.

If I went back to it, I would probably move away from the Pacific-rooted story, maybe exploring the areas around the rival space elevators as I’d written them. That would drop the game into either Africa or South/Central America which would have a very different feel from the Black Lagoon/Marvel’s Madripoor, or maybe wouldn’t. I don’t know.

The big villain of course would still have to be globalism and global trade conglomerates, and so on. Nativism / Globalism, Cultural appropriation / Globalism or Cultural destruction / Globalism would all work in those settings, but I don’t have nearly as many ideas of how to pull it off.

More to ponder then.


Sands of Fate

My elemental Arabian Nights fantasy game was fun for the few sessions I played with it, but I was so focused at the time on the rules and how to make them work that I don’t know if my setting was as good. It certainly had a few parallels with the Old Crown, which I’d been working on at the time.

I’d like to try again, maybe sit down with it and work out some of the kinks, but I’m not in the place for it right now. I’ve been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Years of Rice and Salt and it’s certainly brought some of the ideas back to the fore of my mind.



And that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll actually manage to write something else up soon too!


Power cut-induced creativity

So due to Storm Ophelia, I had to stay home from work today, and then we lost power for a few hours. It’s back now, but it meant I actually found time to write. So here’s what I came up with at the time.


Since I find myself stuck in a house with a horrible storm outside, and without power inside, I thought I’d do something minimal like powering up my laptop and writing.

And after reading a few .pdfs saved in various places, I was all ready to go. Then I opened LibreOffice and was confronted with the dreaded enemy – the blank white page.

I’ve got a good few ideas on the go, but my problem is most of them are stored online somewhere, and I don’t even have a mobile signal to check where I am with them (yay storms!). So now I have to try and work out where I am with any of my ideas and work from there, and it’s painfully obvious that I don’t keep enough of them in my head.


So, what do I have the potentiality to think about?


I’m still fiddling away at my idea for the Ginnungagap – Space Vikings! – in D&D. I know it’s possible to brew together something from all the rules for magic and lasers in the game, even without more settings and rules coming out all of a sudden.

I have ideas for how Elves and Dwarves fit in, how magic works, why lasers aren’t as lethal as a phaser set to disintegrate, how to tie firearms in without getting bogged down in whether they fire bullets or laser beams or plasma bolts or dark energy disks. I’m still not much nearer to a story for a series of adventures.

I keep saying that I’ll puzzle something together if I sit down and get players, and then I delay that because I want to pull more of the rules together, rather than getting it going and fiddling and nerfing in play, which I know I should do.

I’ve more or less decided that I’ll finish my book on historical Vikings, read Neil Gaiman’s book on Norse Mythology, and then be in a place I’m ready to get going with it. We’ll see if I can manage that.


The Old Crown still twirls around in my head, but not with any real progress going on. Again, maybe I need to just sit down and write, or maybe I should through it at other people and see what sticks. I’m hoping Winter will give me an excuse to do more work on it, in the long dark nights where I don’t want to go anywhere, but we’ll see if I manage that.

I’m not happy with the name anymore, but I’m even less happy with any alternatives that I can come up with. I have more ideas for stories and games, but there are deliberately more hooks woven into the setting because I’ve been working at it for longer and wanted to explore, and it’s filled with different factions competing with each other.

I should probably work out if I can make a game out of it, or what game I’d want to. I’ve played with D&D (4th edition) and with FATE (using a reputation stress bar, which was odd), and I’m pretty happy I can make it work with the Cypher system quite easily, just to keep the rules very light.

Of those, I think I’d be most inclined to go with FATE though, maybe try with Fate Accelerated, because with 3 or 4 aspects it would work quite well.


And then, Fantasy Flight have released the beta of the new Legend of the Five Rings rules, so now I’m interested in that again (first glance – ugh, custom dice and no roll and keep?). I’m sure I’ll have a better review of the thing at some point, but based on the skim I read this morning, I like that the core rules have moved back to focussing on the same areas as in the first edition of the game, more or less.

The Samurai Wedding adventure recap, part 1

So, ignore the Topaz Championship that I ran a while ago. I’ll throw up a proper outcome of that later (none of the PCs won, though they did all come pretty high up in the rankings).

After the Topaz Championship, the three Crab PCs were given honour guard duty – the niece of Hida Kisada was a bride-to-be, and having well-known young Crab in her household whilst her wedding was organised would look good to those outside the clan. And being the high profile affair it was bound to be, having three Crab samurai who placed higher in the Championship than its Crane clan hosts would no doubt snub them in just the right way too!

In the mid-Autumn, Hida Hino-kansai and her escorted headed north from Shiro Hida, making their way to Shiro Kaosuki no Higashi – Face of the East Castle.

As this is the commercial hub for the Crab’s dealings with outsiders, and part of the way towards the groom’s family lands among the Unicorn, it seemed the best place to hold the wedding.

On the way, near the edges of Shinomen Forest, the group were attacked in the middle of the night by a small band of goblins. The bride and the Kuni shugenja used their magic whilst the Hiruma and Hida bushi fought hand-to-claw with the interlopers. Without taking any losses to their ashigaru escort, they defeated the goblins, and summised they had either somehow passed through the Twilight Mountains and headed south, or else they were some of the goblins said to haunt the Shinomen itself.

Arriving at Face of the East, the bride was given a house and servants for her stay, courtesy of her cousin, Yasuki Dofu, who would be the officiate of her wedding ceremony.

Reporting to the local watch commander about the goblins, nearby patrols were stepped up, but with little to show for it.

Meeting the groom’s younger brother, the PCs were given a tour of the town. Otaku Zhao wore a fur-lined kimono, and a necklace of ancient coins. Arriving at a sake house, he bought the group a bottle of fine sake and a private room, and while a geisha played her samisen nearby, he recounted the tale of the groom’s swords, and how the wedding came to be.

During one of his adventures, the groom found himself in the Shadowlands, helping to fight against the returning scourge of the Kesu-no-Oni, named for the stolen face of Hida Kesu which it wore.

Having found the ancient Hida Kesu bound to a tree and being forced to spawn the oni from himself with each of its rebirths, Otaku Kiyomaru offered to be his second, and Hida Kesu saw the honour in killing the oni before it could harm another again. As his second, and lacking any other heir, Kiyomaru took up the ornate sword of Kesu, and after returning to the Great Bear Kisada, he foretold it would one day return to the Hida family, in the traditional method. Being unwed, it would be easy to engineer this outcome, and coming from a matriarchy like the Otaku, it would even be traditional for him to join a new family and become a Hida.

After the story, Otaku Zhao explained that his family would see the wedding as further blessed if it could uphold a tradition of the wandering Unicorn clan, even if the groom himself was to leave them. The group would have to seek out and find a few items for the bride to wear about her person during the ceremony: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. As the first members of the bridal party to arrive (her family had not yet travelled north, and Yasuki Dofu was away on business), the PCs were asked to help boost the luck of the marriage and track down the items themselves.

Escorting the group back to their household, Zhao gave a gift of a lucky cricket to the bride, which he gave to her before returning to his lodgings.

Part 2 up soon!

L5R 4E Topaz Championship session 2

For part one, see here.

We started the session a little late, owing to using the gang to move some boxes over to my new house before we began. Also, pizza.

It might be very apparent that I’ve made the tournament a lot bigger. The players all decided they wanted to play as Crab, so increasing the numbers in attendance for all the clans made more sense than having the group only watch one contestant perform.
I decided the larger tournament was in honour of the 35th anniversary of the Emperor’s ascendency to the Emerald Throne.

The three Crab began to explore the town of Tsuma, signing in to the tournament registry over at the Kakita Duelling Academy and investigating as much of the grounds as they were allowed. Then they headed for the sake house, drank a cup of shochu with the other Crab contestant, Hida Fujizaka. They rented themselves a private room for the evening, anticipating coming back to mark the evening’s festivities!

Following their shochu with a quick cup of tea at the House of the Laughing Carp teahouse and inn, commotion about town meant that the Imperial Barge was close to the town docks. Moving to the street, they witnessed the Imperial entourage disembark, and meet the various dignitaries in attendance.
The Emperor and his son, Bayushi Shoju and Kachiko, Hida Kisada, even Ichiro Akitomo of the Badger Clan and Yoritomo of the Mantis.
One old veteran samurai whispered an insult to the heir to the throne into the ear of the young Hida bushi, but Crab being Crab, all the young samurai agreed wholeheartedly that signs of weakness were to be held in contempt.
They noticed a few oddities among the crowd. A young make in the black and red armour of the Scorpion would later turn out to be Bayushi Sugai, a late entrant into the tournament. Also, following beside Hida Kisada’s niece was a Unicorn carrying three swords – one wakizashi and two katana. The ornamentation along the saya of one of the katana was clearly in Crab colours. Among a small party of Phoenix stood a female shugenja who was ALSO carrying a katana, ornamented in the Phoenix colours, but the two swords looked so similar they were clearly made by the same person.

On the way back to the sake house, the group ran in to Ichiin, a wandered who gathers information. He offered them knowledge on the other contestants, for a price, which they seemed happy to pay. They found out that the Crane were also fielding four contestants, with most of the others fielding two, or three in the case of the Lion clan. Gaining some idea of the various strengths of each contestant, they also found out that a Mantis had been entered into the tournament, as had a ronin named Toku.

The private room helped them later on, when a drinking contest with Hida Fujizaka got out of hand, the group all eventually passing out, some after almost embarassing themselves!
Waking up some time later, they hauled themselves back to Megumi’s house to sleep off the worst of their drinking. Hida Fujizaka came too, although he had a room at the Laughing Carp.
When they woke, the Hiruma found a note hidden in his obi. Presumably left by the private geisha at the sake house, it read simply ‘help’.

Bleary-eyed and as well-groomed as they could make themselves, the group headed to the Kakita Academy for the start of the tournament.

More next week!

For lack of a better post

I had hoped I would be able to keep updating to this new blog without slowing down or missing opportunities, or not having much to say. Sadly, it seems I’m not in the most creative mood recently.

I’m moving house in the next couple of weeks, so maybe the fresh scenery will encourage me. Hopefully it will.

I’ve got the L5R game going finally, so I’m happy with that. I’ll see if I can keep the momentum up enough that I can run an actual homebrew adventure after the Topaz Championship. I have a few key elements planned out, and some characters done in my head if not in notes. Should be one hell of a wedding!

The Old Crown setting moves on slowly. I’ve been using any spare moments I have at work to brainstorm the magic system, or at least flavour, and how it interacts with everything. In the last week, the flavour of witches and seawitches has changed a little, as have arcanists, but I think for the better. Makes them much more separate and understandable in my head anyway.
Partly this was inspired by sitting down with the elemental nature L5R again, and partly from looking over old blog posts on my Sands of Fate setting when I moved them over to WordPress.
The original purpose of the arcanists was in emulating the benders in Nickelodeon’s Aang/Korra Avatar series’ and to a certain extent the magic users of the Malazan world of Erikson and Esslemont. The witches were more heavily inspired by the Malazan world again, and the various shaman and spirit-talkers in the setting.

I should really finish reading those books soon.

I finally got onto the last book in the Dresden Files, but after reading the previous six or seven in a row, Skin Game just didn’t grab me so much. I’m a little under a hundred pages in, about the time I usually start to get more caught up, but I felt myself drifting.
I went back to the John Carter/Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’ve got .epub editions of the series in collected volumes, and only finished the first volume of the first three books. Now I’m on to Carthoris’ life and loves, and it’s pulling me back into adventure/swashbuckling mode a bit.

Actually, that would probably help get me back on track with the Old Crown too.

And that’s a quick update on what I’m doing and where I’m at. I have an idea that I want to try, but it might have to wait until later in the year, October or November when I know I’m less busy and more capable of carrying it through. More details on that closer to the time!

L5R 4E Topaz Championship session 1

I think that went rather well.

So last night we all sat down, finished off some character creation issues (mostly the shugenja’s spells), and set off for Tsuma!

We didn’t get much further than the gates of the town, but on the way the characters ran into Megumi and brewed some lovely tea (although not that nice for the Hida bushi). They also encountered their first nemuranai in the form of Magumi’s clothes and teapot, and were very pleased to be addressed as young lords for the first time, rather than as the children they had been previously.

Oh, and the other bushi, a Hiruma, learned about gifts when he received one from Megumi: the sword of his lord! He didn’t buy any extra equipment, so instead handed over the only thing he could think had equal value – his own sword! The player was a little hesitant, thinking it would turn out to be cursed, but was happy in the end I think.

Then the Kuni shugenja got fleeced by their ‘cousin’, a Yasuki trader near the gates of Tsuma. Maybe the good luck charm will be useful though, who knows?


More next week!


Whilst I’m obviously very busy working in the dungeon of the local hospital, I’m also busy brainstorming the road to Tsuma for the start of the Topaz Championship tonight. Not sure what my three young Crab samurai will make of Megumi, but hopefully they’ll enjoy it.