Sausage Daiquiri 2.0

I haven't made it for a while, but because someone requested the recipe, here it is:

1) Break up and fry the best sausage you can justify buying and putting in a cocktail. Avoid sausages with sawdust and flour as components. That's a rule for life, not part of the recipe.
2) Start with rum; add some. This is the booze. I use Bacardi because it's around. Dark rum might work well, but I've never tried it.
3) Add a bit of Cointreau or triple sec or some orange-based liqueur.
4) Top it up with tomato juice.
[Edit: 4a) I may also put a dash of hot sauce of some variety in there... I can't remember. I might just be getting crossover from Bloody Marys]
5) Drop a chunk of sausage into the glass and stick another chunk on the rim. Fucking garnish, yo.
6) Insert in face hole.

I really should have an evening where I just experiment with these and Marmitinis to really nail down the perfect mix.

OrcCon 2014: Game Registration

The Genehack Operation (The Sprawl, 2pm Friday)
The Sprawl is a game of mission-based action in a gritty neon-and-chrome Cyberpunk future. You are the extended assets of vast multinational corporations, operating in the criminal underground, and performing the tasks that those multinationals can’t do, or can’t be seen to, do. Deniable, professional, and ultimately disposable.

The Jones Recovery (The Sprawl, 9am Saturday)
The Sprawl is a game of mission-based action in a gritty neon-and-chrome Cyberpunk future. You are the extended assets of vast multinational corporations, operating in the criminal underground, and performing the tasks that those multinationals can’t do, or can’t be seen to, do. Deniable, professional, and ultimately disposable.

Dadeni Rises (The Silver Seas, 8pm Sunday)
One does not simply recover an artifact of the Greedy Dead. especially when it's a cauldron that reanimates the dead. In fact, it seems that the powers of this cursed cauldron are growing, changing... awakening? Did the Dread Pirate Anfeldt really steal it? What do the Spiral really want? Is that a crow circling your mast? Yeah... here they come. Cannons or sails, maties?

2014 Gaming Resolutions

Ah, January. A time to look back on failed resolutions of the past and make well-intentioned but soon-abandoned attempts to set new goals. I had four main avenues of gaming in 2013: conventions, Nerd SoCal game days, and regular games ("weekly" Pendragon nights and gothic Stars Without Numbers by Google Hangout). Lets review my gaming resolutions for 2012...
  1. Play one new RPG every month.
  2. Finish a complete draft of The Sprawl.
  3. Offer a game with pre-gens at every con.
  4. Submit a game to the 2014 Kapcon SDC.
  5. Offer a new game at every con.

Two of these failed and one succeeded; the other two will require some investigation. I completed two drafts of The Sprawl and created a web presence for it (#2). I definitely didn't run games with pre-gens at very many (if any?) cons (#3), but I did run a lot of high-prep games, mostly design prep. I also didn't submit an SDC entry (#4). From this vantage point, despite a greater range of gaming avenues this year, gaming seems to have been a generally lower priority than I can remember for a while because of the one-two punch of career and relationships. In truth it was patchy, with low ebs in March/April and right now.

Last year I almost managed a convention a month. This year I went through definite phases: retracted my commitments a bit. Here's what I ran at conventions:

January: Nothing.
February: OrcCon 1 2 (The Sprawl: The Flint Termination, The Regiment: Colonial Marines, Dungeonhearts) [All were new; Dungeonhearts had pregens.] I also played Sagas of the Icelanders for the first time.
March: Nothing.
April: Nothing.
May: Gamex (ΚΡΑΤΟΦΑΓΙΑ, Tonight We Slay a Dragon or Die in the Attempt) [Both were new, ΚΡΑΤΟΦΑΓΙΑ had pregens.] My personally new games at this con were all board games. The only RPG I played was FATE's Black Agents. Nerd SoCal May Game Day (I played Doctor Chaos for the first time.)
June: Nerd SoCal June Game Day: I ran The Sprawl (an on the fly game that became The Chen Conduminium)
July: Go Play NorthWest (The Sprawl: Bubble the Bay, Dungeon World) [The Sprawl scenario was a playtest of the Reporter, so was new and mostly on the fly. It almost had pregens in that I wrote the Reporter playbook for it.] My new game was the new diceless version of Undying.
August: Gateway (The Sprawl: The Dark Zone, Mission Boston, Call Me Brede) [All were new to me; Call Me Brede involved modular playbooks and a reasonable amount of system hacking, so was almost pregens.] I played tremulus and Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying (the MHRP hack). I also ran Undying and played The Sprawl, both for the first time at August Game Day.
September: Nerdly Beach Party (Tonight We Slay A Dragon Or Die in the Attempt, Dungeon World); I played Beat to Quarters... kind of.
October: I haven't even written up Big Bad Con yet. I ran The Regiment: Colonial Marines and The Sprawl twice: Dark Zone and an on the fly scenario that became The Swan Rescue. I played the Drama System (from Hillfolk) for the first time. I also ran Mike Sand's The Meddling Kids in: Too Many Draculas scenario for Monster of the Week and played Empire of Dust at the October Game Day.
November: Nerd SoCal November Game Day: I played Mike's Sparks Nevada playtest of Thrilling Fate.
December: Nothing.

So except for the month where I didn't do any gaming, I managed to play a new game every month. I almost averaged a new game every month with 11 total. So I'll call #1 a success. I offered a new-to-me game at just about every con as well, although many of those were scenarios for The Sprawl, so I'll call #5 a wash. I was actually doing okay on #3 and 5 until July, albeit with fewer conventions in all.

All in all, 2.5/5. Better than previously, I think.

So this year? I'm not sure yet. I'm in a low (rpg) gaming ebb right now as my mind is most definitely elsewhere. I'd like to have The Sprawl finished this year, so I'll just make one gaming resolution for 2014.
  1. Finish The Sprawl.

  2. Maybe two.
  3. Enter Game Chef 2014.

  4. Okay... three.
  5. Have fun.

Until next year!

November Top Ten

One of my friends posted his top ten for November on Facebook and since I've been listening to a lot of music this month, I felt like following suit.

1 The Killers (148)
2 CHVRCHES (105)
3 Shihad (78)
4 Frightened Rabbit (63)
5 Bloc Party (34)
6 Evanescence (31)
7 Fear Factory (22)
8 The Cars (17)
9 The Dresden Dolls (16)
9 Amanda Palmer (16)
9 Mumford & Sons (16)

Pretty top heavy, but there you go.

Overthinking it. Plus ça change.

You've probably seen the Facebook meme where you are given a band and have to answer a few questions about them.

I was given The Killers, who are among my favourite bands, but whom I have never seen in concert and had not listened to in a while. In fact, I missed their last album and just heard about the recently released greatest hits collection. The question of my favourite Killers song was tricky and prompted several rotations of the albums I have (Hot Fuss, Sam's Town, Sawdust, and Day and Age) as well as this post.

I quickly worked it down to a "shortlist" of 18 from which I arbitrarily eliminated the covers (although I love their covers of Romeo and Juliet and Shadowplay), then after several more listens, whittled it down to my favourites from each of those albums.

I was a little surprised that Somebody Told Me was still one of my favourites after almost a decade of life as an at-least-occasionally overplayed pop hit. Mr Brightside is my second favourite from that album, which is similarly surprising. I think what appeals about these is the blend of emotion and danceability.

With albums covering a decade of my life, there's plenty of opportunity for songs to be personally resonant and mnemonic. Hot Fuzz evokes nostalgia for bittersweet moments, Sam's Town evokes bittersweet memories of happy moments. It's hard for me to choose between Bones and When You Were Young, but it's probably in that order. The latter always reminds me of Rock Band though. My List is close to the conversation.

Bones may also have my favourite Killers video; and not just for Brandon Flowers' badass moustache.

So I disqualified Shadowplay from the running on the grounds that it was a cover, but I couldn't find a decent video for Move Away, so the video makes an appearance at least. Shamefully, I still haven't seen Control (2007). A couple of other favourites from Sawdust are Tranquilize and All The Pretty Faces.

I really like Day and Age. Sometimes it's the little things that distinguish a song for me, and for Spaceman it's the staccato drumbeats between lines in the chorus and their variations. Joy Ride, Neon Tiger and Losing Touch are my next favourites, but I love the entire first half of this album.

I guess I'll be picking up Battle Born in the near future.

And keeping my eye out for a gig.

Open the Envelope

CHVRCHES played at the Wiltern in Los Angeles last night and I was there. I almost wasn't. I'd never been to a Wiltern concert, so after a leisurely dinner at Beer Belly we wandered down to the venue, checked things out, discovered it was seated (odd) and no sooner had we sat down at 9pm or so than the band started. CHVRCHES. They played from just after nine until just after 10 (more odd). Someone mention to me this afternoon that the Wiltern has strict noise regulations, so this may have been a venue thing. Mind you, I did notice on Twitter today that their gig tonight in San Diego will be the same 9pm start.

CHVRCHES themselves were very good. They played just about all of the songs from their album and it lived up to that. Their songs had pretty much the same energy live as they do on the album, although the live experience did bring up a couple of the album's weaker tracks to the level of the best songs: Tether, for example, really benefits from the base that a set of concert-quality speakers provides. However, the superlative part of the show were the visuals. There were no fancy video displays; just a light show, but it was one of the best integrated I'd seen at a concert. I usually find concert lighting is just a bunch of spotlights kinda going along with the song, with the occasional track really meshing well, but I definitely got the sense that CHVRCHES cared about combining the audio and visual experience and had personally worked on the lighting design.

Of course this is my favourite video. Helloooo. Cyberpunk!

I wish the Wiltern had put the same level of attention to detail into the sound quality. At least Lauren Mayberry's voice was balanced well compared to the instruments, because the vocal mix alone was heavy on the treble. The sound was generally a bit quiet as well. Admittedly we were up in the nose bleeds (yet more odd), but if you book bands of a certain type to play in your venue, you're making a commitment to accommodate their sound.

Moaning about the venue aside. Lauren's inexperience as a frontperson came through a bit in her inter-song banter. In itself it was fine... when I could hear it. She needs to work out when to stop talking and wait for the cheering and yelling to die down a bit. I was a little disappointed to just get the album songs and only one song in the encore. Sure, they only have one album, but I would have loved to see them sneak a cover into the set somewhere: Duran Duran or Flock of Seagulls maybe?

I love CHVRCHES and I'd definitely see them again, especially with some more material under their belt, maybe another album. The only consequential problems with the show were with the venue, so if CHVRCHES were playing there again tomorrow, I'd be there there, but I don't think I could recommend it to a casual concertgoer; the experience isn't significantly better than listening to the album. Unless they were really into lighting.

Big Bad Con Schedule

Registration for Big Bad Con opened at noon today, I managed to get into everything I wanted, namely:

Friday 3-7: Slave Pits of the Undercity (Dungeon World; Adam Koebel)
Friday 8-12: Running The Dark Zone (The Sprawl)

Saturday 10-2: Running Operation Reservoir (The Regiment: Colonial Marines)
Saturday 3-7: Monster of the Week (John Kim)
Saturday 8-12: Colony Wars: We’ve Lost Contact with Epsilon-3… (Hillfolk/Drama System; Sophie Lagacé)

Sunday 10-2: Emerging Threats Unit (Ryan Macklin)
Sunday 3-7: Games on Demand offering Dungeon World, The Sprawl, and maybe other things.

Gateway 2013

I'd previously expressed my excitement both about the games I was going to run, and the games I was going to play at Gateway. I was not disappointed.


Friday Afternoon: The Lost Temple-City of Xtylos (Dungeon World; Christopher Stone-Bush)
In the first game of the con, The Glorious Barbozzar, slayer of the pacificist King Ironheart, forger of the pacifist king's heart into a weapon of strength, wise man from beyond King Hadrian's ice wall, and a teacher of unknown ways to the sowers of wheat (Barbarian) ventured forth with his faithful companion Singeon the Fighter, the creepy wizard Nyar, and a strange and confusing teller of the deeds of others, Broth, searched for a lost companion in the southern wastes, finding instead a massacred caravan, a race of men of the second age long since lost, an lost city arisen from the sands and crowned with a golden dome, a cult of animal-masked second-age zealots led by samite-clad prophetesses, until finally, side-by-side with his faithful companion Singeon, he bull-rushed an evil warrior into a demonic, blue, sacrificial flame, and faced the head prophetess. Freeze-frame-leaping-charge finish.

I love Dungeon World.

Friday Evening: The Dark Zone (The Sprawl; me)
Prank (Fixer) was contracted by a fellow fixer to find a defecting security executive who had gone to ground in The Slice, a corporate no-go zone. He in turn brought in Zeta Tovar (a cyber-wired Killer), Rook (a Hunter with prosthetic eyes) and Shammi Kapoor (a fiercely independent Soldier with cut-price cyberware) for the mission. The asked around The Slice, identifying the little crew the executive had put together, a general area in which she was hiding, and a hint that something weird was going down. After a firefight at a nightclub, half of her crew was dead, but she was still hidden. Prank sold a 40% interest in one of his operations to a local drone tech in exchange for some more solid intel on where she was. In the raid on her hideout, Shammi was killed, Zeta was hospitalised, Prank was badly fucked up, but Rook managed to put a bullet into the target and send photographic evidence to their employer.

Friday had been a long day, so this wasn't my best game, but it went pretty well despite that. I don't think this playtest inspired any changes in the rules, but there's still a bit of a list from when I had a chance to play for the first time on the previous Sunday.


Saturday Morning: Mission Boston (The Regiment; me)
This may have been my favourite game of the con. I love The Regiment! It's such great nostalgia for my primary and high school days of WWII wargaming. In this run through John Aegard's playset the stick went south and encountered the German forces at the airstrip, engaged the tanks successfully and secured a landing zone for a couple of gliders just before daybreak. A pretty successful operation, even if they lost half the stick doing so. No PC casualties though, so maybe I was too easy on them! This one will definitely be in some sort of rotation in my roster!

Saturday Afternoon: Monster of the Week (Christopher Stone-Bush)
Chris started us off in media re chasing a vampire through a parking building and finished off with a fight against a vampire in a tiny underground crawlspace. In between there were suspicious sorority girls, a campus murder, a creepy New Jersey forest, and punching a campus rent-a-cop. All in a day's work for Julian the creepy, burlap-stocking-masked Initiate of the ancient Brotherhood of Constantine; Agent Smith, the untrusting and untrustable Professional; his neice Tamara, the Chosen one foretold in the Brotherhood's prophecies; and Trenton the Expert, lay-member of the Brotherhood and some-time employee of the Agency.

Saturday Evening: Bad Publicity (Spelljammer/Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying; Mike Olson)
In the Plate Mail Games sound room, Mike took us on a journey through space and time to the world of Spelljammer, the first TSR product I owned, as seen through the lens of Fantasy Heroic (Cortex). I was Sneef the Faithful, the Invisible, the Lung, the Colourless, the Licker, the Tongue, mechanic, tinker and crafter on the smalljammer Mirza, the fastest, finest, and best ship in all the Crystal Spheres (+1xp). Between bantering with the Captain about the Qwandrell job (ship damaged by asteroids, +1xp) the Samson Sphere Caper (we didn't get paid, +1xp), the Tanis Job (the ship was covered in elf goo, +1xp) and the Bostin Job (for which we still owe the Beholder crime lord One Eye, +1xp), Sneef found time to attach a mining drill to the ship (+3xp), brag (+1xp), complain (+1xp) and express concern about (+1xp) the ship, suck the Helm connections clean (d12 asset) and prevent the evil elven mage from stealing her while we plundered an ancient Dwarven ghost Forge Ship (peeing on the Helm circuitry, d10 asset). A (series of) job(s) well done!

Cortex is a bit slow when no one knows the rules that well, but this was a fun game anyway. The ability to constantly whore oneself to the story for XP is right up my alley.


I stayed up late at Barcon and skipped the Sunday morning slot. Instead I wandered the dealer room, cast my eye over the rest of the con, and prepared the room for my game...

Sunday Afternoon: Call Me Brede (The Silver Seas, a Dungeon World hack for the world of Conquering Corsairs; me)
This time it was my turn behind the controls in the Plate Mail Games sound room as I took my new Dungeon World hack, The Silver Seas, out for a spin. The Silver Seas is a pirate-themed hack of Dungeon World with playbooks inspired by our deck-building game, Conquering Corsairs, and drawing inspiration and playbook moves from Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Asterisk World, Geiger World, The Sprawl, Inverse World and probably more.

Following a map found by the elven First Mate Cayla Red (a smuggler and lookout), the swashbuckling buccaneer, Southerner Captain Indique Fasir, and the disciplined crew of the Fool's Venture set out for the Seas of Gold and Jade following the migratory trail of the famed silver whales. Along with Calya's keen eye, the keen sailing of ghostly undead navigator Grace O'Malley (also a buccaneer and sawbones) allowed the Venture to out-maneuver the ship of a rival Northern pirate, running it aground in a treacherous reef. Navigator Gray Pete, a free islander, mage and general wise old codger, brought them safely to the distant archipelago where they encountered a trading port populated by undead! After many weeks at sea, the crew were eager for plunder and the hitherto lazy and rim-sodden Quartermaster Black Jack ran up the colours of mutiny, but Captain Fasir stared him down and laid him out, and a few lashes from Calya sorted out the rest of the trouble-makers. As the mutineers had slain several undead merchants, the Venture struck out for another island, and finding a much larger island marked with large, foreboding, wicker cages in the shape of men and covered in deep forests, they dropped anchor. Leaving a few men to effect repairs on the Venture (damaged when she strayed into a pod of silver whales), Captain Fasir led a party inland seeking to trade chickens for gold as the rumours had told. A strange zombie witch directed them inland to a once-elven King who accepted their chickens and bad them recover all the gold they could carry from his mine. They soon discovered that the mine was the centre of a terrible curse which fed their greed and slowly drained their life force. They fled with what gold they could carry! But not before Grace gained a small semblance of solidity and Gray Pete lost all vestiges of life, becoming a shadow-walker. They sailed back to the Silver Seas richer, though not as rich as they would have liked, but nevertheless satisfied thanks to their retention of life's sweet breath, and forthwith sold the treasure map to an eager young northern captain last seen buying up the island's stock of chickens.

This game also went really well. In particular, the sound loops were awesome, really enhancing the mood I set with the narrative. I'm eager to use these again, probably in my Regiment: Colonial Marines game at Big Bad Con.

Sunday Evening: Cthulhu Mythos (tremulus; Denys Mordred)
I was the psychic, Hellena Hollingsworth, trusted companion of the Dilettante, Clive Clavill IV. The game opened in the house which Clavill had rented for me where I was conducting a seance to contact the deceased daughter of one Alice Williams. In attendance were several friends and associates of Clavill, including Sebastian Wood, an actor of the silver screen, Perilous Wilkins, an amateur, a charlatan and a dreamer, Dr M. Harmsworth, a monstrous so-called-Alienist who had once attempted to inflict electro-shock therapy upon me after my parents had had me institutionalised, and Montana Chiriaco, an adventurer and explorer of Central American jungles. When Dr Harmsworth broke the circle, Mrs Williams disappeared from among us, leaving frosty residue and several mysterious signs of spiritual presence. Clavill bade me repeat the seance, having foresworn Dr Harmsworth not to repeat his error in most strident terms. We made contact with an gang of otherworldly creatures who gave every indication of presence within my very house. We explored the modest grounds, but soon exhausted all possibilities bar the unused cellar, accessible only through a chained exterior door. Or so I thought! Sebastian sent his man down the steep and rickety stairs, but when he and Montana followed, the stairs collapsed beneath them. They found a most frightful room, filled with strange skeletons, bones-saws, and a dumb-waiter into my very living room! Sebastian's man had been struck with a most unnatural sleep which resisted all attempt to rouse him. I touched his dreaming mind and saw visions of him pursued through the woods near Hollow Hill by ghastly exotic children with fierce teeth and malevolent intent. The party was unable to decide on a course of action until Dr Harmsworth precipitated events when upon revealing his knowledge of our shared past in a most frightful manner, and having been slapped for his ill-manners, he had the un-gentlemanly gall to slap me in return. In fled to my room. Perilous came to my to offer me comfort and we set up remaining in the house with Dr Harmsworth no more and going at once to the Hill. Montana had spied our conversation and followed us to my car and when the other men heard the sound of our departing engine, the took up the pursuit at once. We were soon at the accursed hill itself, where we discovered the ghastly children in physical form, draw, and perhaps spawned from, a terrible stela, emanating an sickly green light. Perilous and I attempted to bind the fell magicks, but the children devoured Sebastian and would have done so the rest of us also, had not Montana chanced to bring a stick of dynamite to the seance, with which he was able to destroy the stela. As we fled the blast, Perilous fell, and I could have saved her, had not Clive, with attempted, but misplaced gallantry, swept me from the scene and from the grip of woman who had given me comfort in my hour of need.

This was my first outing with tremulus. I backed the Kickstarter, but haven't yet had time to read the book. The game works fine for Cthulhu, but seems to suffer a little from some inelegant application of Apocalypse World principles. I'll reserve final judgement until I've read the book myself, but I suspect if I ran it myself I would want to make some tweaks to the rules.


I didn't play anything on Monday, but I did feel like I could have got up a bit earlier and made it to a 9am slot. Mook's D&D cartoon D&D game looked fun. This was also the first time I'd been aware of a 2pm slot on Monday, which would allow for potentially 10 games over the long weekend. That would make for a pretty epic OrcCon.

In the meantime, the wheels turn for the games I will run next...

Playtesting HERO: Gods Among Us

Last week, JiB ran a playtest for his Gateway game Gods Among Us. It was a fun night out at the Happy Jack's studio in Pasadena with good people (JiB, Gina, Rob, Morgan, Will and Megan, who was playing her first RPG), good beer, and a mythic Norse secret mission to avert the coming of Ragnarok.

Here's the recording: Gods Among Us.