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Decade of Deviations


It’s a week until Gen Con! We are doing the madness that is final prep and it dawned on me that I’ve been running this game for large cons for 10 years now. Ten years since my first run at Dragon*Con. Slave ship and what would become Darkmore Besieged. It wasn’t until 2010 I added the Siege at the end component. UPYztlznRHmIMH+IrlH6Yg

 

So the Above are some of the firsts. Some of the first people to ever take a chance on playing this crazy person’s 10 hour opus. You’ll see some of the original 3.5 character sheets that we just scratched out my changes on to the first sheets I made myself.

The players who I still talk to or see to this day, David ,Who stood on the table and yelled at his mother that he was in charge. Lex, Megan and Frank who came again and again to play, Eric, Rob and Gabe who came to my house weekly to help me playtest and sat with me in a shoddy hotel cafe and did a full 10 hour test run. And Justin. My Friend. My artist. Who gave me Gug’el. A wacky character that is seen in almost every game and in the game book itself.

These are the people who helped shape the beginning, mold the wave, Rolled the first 1s

Their awesome is anything is but misdirected.

So if you are playing next week and love what you experience they are a big part of the reason.

Ta for now

J

 

Thank the Maker (Game Maker that is)


Cam Banks. Cortex deity has purchased the license from MPW

https://margaretweis.com/blogs/news/cam-banks-acquires-cortex-license

To be honest I was very worried when I found out that a lot of the writers for the announced Cortex Plus kickstarter were no longer working on the project. Hopefully this also means more regular announcements about the game system than what I have been getting in the past.

I am psyched!

 

Back to reworking the Shaman for the next testing session. Got  lots of good feedback and Needs to alter its direction a bit,

Ta Ta for now

 

J

 

 

Unsocial Media 2 – The Legend of Curly’s Gold


It’s been 30 days since I decided to fast from social media. I didn’t abstain as I would have liked due to my use of it for social gathers but I didn’t post daily (or even weekly) to Facebook. I unfollowed everyone on my friends list and unsubscribed to any group that I had not actively participated in.

It is a joy. I took me about a week to not look everyday to see what new info wasn’t going to show up. Took a few more days to figure out what to do with my time. I wasn’t spending my nights reading over peoples constant complaining about the life they themselves chose. “News” that was fake but they were too lazy to check before posting. Preaching about their faith they love but don’t truly follow because they can’t give up bacon. The nonstop barrage of meaningless crap people post to seem funny or pious or happy being alone or happy being in the relationship they are in.

e.g.  Post #1 “Today I will not be around negative people” Post #2 “Fuck the haters” (this second one seems negative) or

Post #1 “Kicked him to the curb! I don’t need a man to be happy. The single life for me” Post #2 a week later “Found a real man. He is so perfect, we are moving in together”

Now I myself was a contributor to this. I bitched endlessly about whatever was annoying me. I thought it was cathartic. It wasn’t. It was making me angrier and angrier. I wasn’t helping myself with these I was just spouting vile. And thanks to Facebook’s “On this day” I discovered I was repeating myself!

So did I take this time to work on Nexus? Nope. I used my time to spend with family and friends. I talked on the phone, sometimes for hours. I texted people and had actual private conversations. I played games with friends. I cooked. I played Zelda. I had long conversations in the kitchen with my wife.

I enjoyed my life.

I didn’t watch what others were doing and either get angry at them or jealous of them. I just didn’t care. I focused on my own and I feel better for it.

Will I stay off of Facebook? I don’t know. I hope so. Maybe use it to share photos of my family for people who don’t get to see them as much as they’d like.

Now if you’ll excuse me. I have a newly modded Commodore 64 to play Might and Magic on.

TaTa

J

 

P.S. Next post will be Nexus game related. I have run a couple of sessions with the Cortex+ rules and am liking its new direction.

 

 

 

 

 

Unsocial Media and the Letting go of the familiar D20


Last Saturday I ran my first Into the Nexus game using the Cortex+ system. It was kind of nerve wracking. I have been working on this game for so long in the familiar D20 system that I was worried it wouldn’t go well or that my players wouldn’t be able to enjoy themselves as much. My fears were unfounded. It was a great night of gaming. I made some notes and will have to make some adjustments but I think this system will really work for the game. We had craziness abound and the the complication/opportunity mechanic adds some real depth and unpredictability to the story without it being as random and unruly as the D20 mechanics could be. Being able to add a D8 complication of Warrant for Arrest to each players dice pool is much cleaner than just having tons more encounters and fights that just take up the gameplay.

I think my favorite part of the Cortex+ conversion has been the Talents. No longer bound to tons of unnecessary math that feats and skills of D20 can yield, I was able to add some really fun and entertaining Talents for each of the Archetypes and some good generic ones that anyone can use. I was able to crank out 10 pages of Talents in about 3 hours and my players really enjoyed using them in game play.

One issue, and I hesitate to use the word “downside” , but it is kind of sad for me is that the dice pool mechanic does not lend itself to larger groups. I need to set a cap on players and I’m not used to having to do that. It will take some getting used to but I feel I will get a more robust game experience if I don’t have more that 6 players.  This will cause me to make some adjustments for the Con but I have some great GM’s that help me so I don’t think it will cause too many problems.

I ran a very small test mission after character creation and it went longer than expected but I fell that was due to too many players and some people still figuring out how to use the dice pool mechanic. I will adjust accordingly for the next session and see if the flow improves.

Lastly.

Monica Valentinelli, author of the Firefly RPG, wrote in her blog about taking the month of September off of social media (Facebook and Twitter) to focus on her creative works. I have been letting that idea rattle around in my head the last few days and I feel it is a really good idea. I am not a huge Twitter user but I do sometimes get lost in the mindlessness of Facebook. I feel my time would be better spent doing…almost anything. Facebook has devolved into a bunch of angry whining and protestations (without actually doing anything about it). I am guilty of it myself and have been finding myself more and more angry about something someone posted. Angry to the point of it ruining my day because of the shear stupidity of it.

I don’t need that in my life. I am a curmudgeon to begin with. I don’t that particular fire fueled. So, For the month of September I will not access Twitter at all and my Facebook will only be used for my game page and game related posts. I have unfollowed all of my friends and groups so my newsfeed is blank. I was going to deactivate the account to just have my wife change my password and not give it to me until a friend of mine reminded me that we only talk on Facebook Messenger. So I will keep the account active for that purpose and Nexus related material. My friends have my phone number, they know how to find me. I don’t need to spend my days yelling at gun nuts and people who take that toupee’d Presidential candidate seriously. My hope is that this will let me focus my time and needs on more creative pursuits.

My game needs to be finished…and that Commodore 64 won’t be modding itself.

Ta for now.

J

 

Gen Con 2015 – Debriefing


Back from Gen Con and fully decompressed. This year was an odd year for my Nexus games. It was the first year I ran with the Death Gate stuff removed and using all my own creations. It felt odd to not say “Based on the works of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman”. Better or worse, these were all my own doing.

Night 1

Slave Ship

This year we had fire. Last year no fire magickas. No fire meant no real action for almost 3 hours. This year, 8th person to act set the control ropes on fire.

No one tried to put them out.

No one.

Turn 4 they broke, sending the ship on an uncontrolled course that caused 19 people to reflex every single turn. It just got worse from there. Long story short (too late) After woken Ancients, Exploding water casks, All the barrel roles, Flipped ships, resurrected magickas, a slave who had a panic attack every time they saw ice, and they saw it a lot, about 50% of the crew survived. It was a great event of fun and chaos.

Night Two.

Darkmore

Here I would normally give a synopsis of the all the craziness but I can’t. We split into two groups and mine was the tame one. Too many Pathfinder purists who didn’t get the system. Not their fault at all just not what they expected so they didn’t know how to change what they knew. The final battle while fun was mired with complaining and further statements of just not getting it. Now this is on me, my game is about chaos and balance and the fight between the two. This seemingly random environment causes havoc with game players who need a constant number to hit and a constant way to get there. My best friend hates my system because his magic doesn’t work all the time and he thinks it should.

While good gaming sessions make me feel good and I’m always happy when they go well, a “not as good” session teaches me so much more. I’ve come to realize that my strength is as a storyteller. A spinner of yarns as it were. So while a d20 system can cater to the story, it isn’t the main focus of d20. The interactions are. How many +1’s and skill bonuses can I add to my roll. While this is good for hack, slash, and burn game play. I think Nexus is not about that.

So…. I have begun researching alternate systems. I was doing game demos for Margaret Weis this weekend as well and while showing people the Cortex+ system in Firefly I was able to see how it could be used with my magic system (Let’s be honest, it is the reason that most people play). I know Cortex Plus pretty well and think it might be my best option. I also played my first Fate based game this weekend and I enjoyed it, though it doesn’t cater to my magic like Cortex+ can. Cam Banks is making a game which is a combination of the two and is open source and I would love to see how I might be able to use that.

Exciting developments in the game I started in 1993 as a way to play Death Gate in 2nd edition D&D.

Stay Tuned

Ta

J

Everything changes – New Characters/ Classes


I’ve had to make some class changes. After over 15 years of making this game I realized that almost all of it was my creation and just a small portion was from the original Death Gate material. I have after some painful soul searching decided to remove the Death Gate references and make it all my own.  I love the world of Death Gate but it isn’t mine and it seems Into the Nexus will never see the light of day if I keep it in there.

So

The two new Characters are

The Heralds.

They are a religious sect that believe we only are truly equal in death. They strive to help all other make that transition as smoothly as possible. Willing or no.

The Ayans.

Named after my close friend Aya who at every game seemed to undo every spell the Magica’s cast. Whether it helped the group or not (Mostly not).

The group is also looking for balance. They do this by correcting the wave. Undoing any attempts to manipulate it.

They put right what once went wrong. Wrong is subjective.

 

These two classes will replace the Death Gate specific ones that I had originally used.

 

I will also start posting some short stories based in this new world. This is to let players get a feel for the environment and hopefully come to enjoy what has been a true labor of love for me for the last decade.

Take a look at the website and see the new changes.

Ta

J

 

PS

New artwork is forthcoming and I will unveil it at Gen Con 2015!

 

 

Musings of a Gen Con Gaming Man.


#GenCon 2014 has come and gone. The best four days in gaming flew by me way too fast. I had a lot of fun and learned some things about my game Into the Nexus that had not come up yet.

First the Nexus games. Thursday’s game was the Slave Ship Revolt. We started of rough due to the fact that Gen con put our twenty person group in the middle of the gaming hall. I was going to have to scream everything and that would be fun for no one. I had help this year from four friends who worked with Gen con people to get me into a better room. After we picked up everything and moved we were able to get the game going. This years revolt…ers? were the slowest I’ve had to actually start the escape. They are also the fastest to crash the ship. The last two years I have added plot twists to the players playing the crew so that they don’t get too bored playing the same old characters. One of the crew members this year was smuggling a person (River Tam Style) and in his infinite wisdom he decided to wake her up to help him. She did, by enthralling him. She was able to help get the ship landed but by then the captain had died (killed by a ronin who sacrificed himself) and her thrall had died. She and one of the remaining crew landed the ship and she went to wake more of her race. The remaining crew/slaves escaped to a rebel facility where they were all told they were now rebels, like it or not.

Stats:

6 Hours. 19 Players. 15 slaves. 4 crew.  – 3 casualties. 1 Escape on a magical broom.

Friday night went a different direction. We started with 15 players and broke them into three groups. Each group was given six missions that they were allowed to pick three to complete. Each mission had a pro and a con for the final event. If they failed a mission or skipped it, the con happened. The three they chose were, Reveal the Spy, Release/ Capture the Dragon, and Spring the Baron. Now 10 of these players came from the same gaming group. They were efficient, direct, and got the job done. They tackled each of their missions in a professional manner and they got results. They had killed/incapacitated 8 guards, released 3 dragons, and saved the Baron. My group (The Spy) did well, but they didn’t know each other. They argued and they went in different directions. I was able to corral them in but it took longer and I had to fudge the game in order for them to even come close to finishing their mission. After four hours all of the side missions were complete and we were going to begin. I let them have thirty minutes to plan their attack while my team set up the defenses. This group made a mockery of my team. My baroness was incapacitated in minutes. Her adviser was relegated to protection duties while they just kept coming at them. Even the dragon disciple with his dragon buddies only was able to do anything after most of the fighting had been done. The reason being that 15 players all working perfectly together are a hurricane force in one turn. After initiative was over they had done tons of damage and after another round they had the game pretty much in their control. After the third round it was all over.  The Baroness had been killed (Highlander style) and the remaining Big Bads were captured or converted.

Stats:

9 hours. 20 players. 16 rebels, 4 bad guys (20 or so troops), 1 casualty, and 2 people who were made into dragon’s familiars.

 

So now we get to the part of our story where our hero learns a valuable lesson. What did I learn from all of this?

I need to have a tempering agent on my magic system. Something other than “Rolling a 1 will kill you” I had only one 1 rolled all night. It was pretty tame.

I need to work on a better story line. Two reasons for this. One, good players tear apart your plot holes and they tear them apart fast. Two, players get bored waiting. One of my game runners said I should work on making my games more exciting because they were boring as hell. Now while I think he was just giving me a hard time I did notice a good deal of waiting and bored looks as people weren’t getting a chance to roll dice and kick ass. There needs to be more to do for everyone than just wait to swing. As I work on it this year I will try and fix these elements and make the game play more engaging. I do know that without my four friends helping me run both games, they would have been a huge hot mess. I am thankful they devoted so much time and effort into helping me.

 

Side note.

This year I was also given the chance to run #Firefly and run demos in the booth for MWP (Margaret Weis Productions). It was a great experience as I met the staff was able to learn more about the Cortex Plus gaming system which I have been wanting to learn to play better. It was also a chance for me to talk Into the Nexus with the people at MWP. I am happy to report they are still interested in the game but just need to allocate resources to it. I will keep working on it until such a time as they decide that I am an awesome resource to have working on it  or I have to publish it myself. Either way, I’ll keep working on it and making new adventures and missions for next year.

The Dragon Familiar is certainly going to be a new prestige class.

 

Ta

 

J

 

 

 

 

 

MTGBreak


I have never had anything sap my creativity and drive more than MTG. The last two years I played all the time while owning the shop, I didn’t work on Nexus hardly at all. To play it becomes all consuming. Deck building, deck creation, new sets every three months to make changes with your deck. I had to put it aside. It can take over your life.

After just a week of not playing, watching videos, or caring about Born of the Gods,  I have completed two new classes for Into the Nexus, I have sketched out and blueprinted a new campaign for Gen Con, and I have actually got work done around my house.

I think Magic is a fine game and I do enjoy playing it. I have 5 Commander/EDH decks and still enjoy that format. I just think trying to keep up with what is new in Standard and what new card is changing the Legacy format is just not for me anymore.

There are more important things that need my focus and drive. The silly little cardboard game will have to not be one of my spinning plates.

Sorry for not being entirely on topic. I hope my dozen readers can forgive the slight variance from Nexus Talk.

Ta

J

 

Gen Con 2013 – New games and Old friends.


Gen Con 2013 has come and gone and as tradition stipulates I am here with a summation.

I was scheduled for 3 games. Slave Ship Revolt, Mad Monk, and Lost Prince. Sadly I did not have enough people show up for Lost Prince so I had to cancel it. In retrospect I believe next year I will not schedule a 10 hour game for the last night of the con as most people have started to wind down.

This Year I also ran Firefly for Margaret Weis Productions. You should check it out if you are at all a Firefly fan. http://www.margaretweis.com/

Game One

Slave Ship Revolt.

As always this is a great deal of fun. I must confess I need to tweak the numbers a bit to get a good flow but I was only overloaded a bit.

Last year I had some return players play the ships crew for a slight PvP experience and the results were very good so I did the same thing this year with the same return players. They played the crew as Bebop, Rocksteady, Shredder and Krang. They added some Role Playing and interaction that would not be the same if I was playing all the characters. Hands down the person playing the ships captain played his part perfectly, drunk, but perfectly.

This group picked up the game plan immediately and started into the action. They immediately attempted to get free and make their escape. The mages as always causes more havoc than help but they still did a fair job.

Highlights.

1:47 minutes of gameplay before they set the ship on fire. A new record.

Water Magicka controlling the ship’s water supply to drown the captain. Just as he had brokered a peace deal.

Many skydiving attempts. Some worked others did not.

Ships Magicka pulling a Maverick and flipping the ship upside down and dumping the people onto the burning ship below.

Fire Magicka summoning a Red Dragon and being dominated into trying to kill the crew.

Having a knave fail 5 times to remove a buckle.

There were many more but these were the highlights of that night’s game. We played from 8 PM until almost 3 AM.

2013-08-15 22.12.28

(The Red Pencil is the 6′ wall of fire that was apparently needed to escape.)   (Yes, that is a unicorn)

Game Two

The Mad Monk.

Our heros were charged with figuring out the source of all the strange phenomena emanating from an old Kir monastery. They packed their gear, mounted the dragon, and flew as close as they could to the monastery.

They soon discovered that the forest surrounding the place was infested with many a strange creature. Some benign others were a bit more murdery. None as much as our crew. They dispatched all encounters with flair and savagery. Upon reaching the fortress they discovered (some of them the hard way) that they place was trapped with Rune Sigla and was nigh impenetrable.  The two Earth Magicka made their own entrance just as the the minion of the Mad Monk made his first appearance. The group was separated and in chaos. The Sentient Dire Bear that was the result of last year’s failed mission to save a dying island had been rescued and experimented on. And he was angry. He summoned his own legion of Dire Bears to tear through our band of misfits. Just as he was about to finish them off. His Master appeared. He was angrier. A Mensch who had tapped into the secret of the Rune Sigla and gone mad for his troubles began showing them what true power was. Until he was stabbed repeatedly by a 12 year old boy. He dominated them and destroyed most of the group. The rest fled.

One of my gaming weaknesses is game CR. I either make it too easy or way too hard. I will scale it back next year. In retrospect they never could have won this.

Highlights.

Two of the Earth Magicka joining their minds for a Magicka Possibility Bonus. This also made it so they couldn’t distinguish whose thoughts were whose. so they had to do everything as one. Wonder Twin powers activate

Upon walking into a camp of BugBears they immediately begin attacking them and blowing them up with fireballs. No warning, No sign of aggression from the bugbears. Just BOOM

Two summoned elementals that were dominated, made bigger, then lost the domination. Then came the pain.

A failed earth spell meant to shield them from falling trees that instead put them right up into the path of the destruction.

The skin being ripped off The Wonder Twins when they tried to de-ink the Monk’s Tattoos.

Summoning a girl bear to distract the raging Dire Bear.

Having to move the game not once but twice because of table scheduling mishaps

 

I may be missing a few because by the end I was exhausted.

We gamed from 6 PM to 3:30 AM

IMG_9909

(We are supposed to be up here….right?)   (Oh dear lord what is that flying towards us)

 

All in all a good time as always.

As I tweak and test Into the Nexus I make the games smaller and less scope. This way I can see the more subtle problems in the gaming system.

Next year will be more focused on interactions with PC’s and NPCs as opposed to all joining to kill the Big Bad.

Next year they will have to find the Prince.

 

Also Thank You to the players who had such a good time they went and told Margaret Weis about it. That makes me feel great and I appreciate it.

 

Till next time

Ta

J

 

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