I’ve delved into both politics and review copies of RPGs in the subtlest way possible, by taking on Trump and Putin in a role-playing game about a fictional retelling of three meetings between them.
This is the first of the Tempest side-stories, about a family linked to Lightning but not currently part of the main plot. It’s a taster of the themes and concepts of Lightning, as well as being about an awkward teenager trying to impress a girl with fire. We’ve all been there, right?
Read the story here.
For the last few years there’s been an RPG contest about writing a role-playing game in 200 words or less. It’s a really interesting idea and the constraints have led to some great RPG concepts.
This year I had an idea for an RPG about two days before the deadline for the 2017 submissions wrapped.
My entry can be found here, but I’ve also presented it below for those of you who are interested:
The Paladin’s mind has been temporarily wiped and you play their well-meaning inventory who are guiding The Paladin safely out of the dungeon!
The Paladin can: Move and wield items with instruction.
The Paladin has: 5HP
The Sword: Attack x2, Cut, Parry, Threaten.
The Holy Symbol: Turn Undead x2, Inspire, Reflect Light, Summon Paladin’s Mount.
The Rations: Feed x2, Bribe, Distract Animals, Leave Trail.
The Shield: Defend x2, Dig, Deflect, Ride Shield.
Rope: Climb x2, Hang, Whip, Wrap.
Lantern: Light Area x2, Burn, Douse with Oil, Scare.
Create 2 rooms each on index cards, with 2 doorways and a challenge.
Shuffle and draw a room; its creator describes the challenge and rolls 1d4.
Between them, the players must cross off that many traits to solve it (+/-1 if it seems hard or easy). The Paladin loses 1HP if you can’t find a fitting trait or choose not to use one.
Move through each room to escape!
If the Paladin loses their last HP, they die and the goblins loot all the items. Narrate their grim fate!
If the Paladin escapes, narrate how he rewards you all for a job well done!
I realised that while I have mentioned the release of my short story collection on social media, I’ve not actually put anything up here.
Cuckoo is finally out!
In Cuckoo, a presence haunts a flat and the people who live there.
Do Not Read has streets flooded with strange pamphlets at the same time as people are vanishing.
The Old Woods explores generations of tales from a village about the haunted woods which surround it.
Finally White Noise has the occupants of a flat find a strange old box buried under the garden. It makes sounds like static, as do the people who are near it for too long. Then, it gets worse.
There is a preview of Lightning: Crash Day, to round things out and provide some levity after all that horror. The full novella of Crash Day will be released shortly.
The lovely Emma McDonald has provided me with the cover to the ebook. It’s currently only on Amazon, but depending on how things go, I may test out other formats in time.
You can buy the collection here!
I’ve been a fan of Nintendo for several years, it was fairly inevitable that I would pick up a Switch when it was released.
The launch lineup has been a little sparse, but the release everyone’s talking about is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. My brother played Link to the Past religiously on the SNES, which was how I first experienced the series. Then Ocarina, Wind Waker and the DS games. I’ve been going back from the start and playing them all, starting with the original Legend of Zelda which I’ll get to when I’m done. Right now, however, I’m all over Breath of the Wild. I thought that I’d rekindle some of that D+Pad fun by having a review of the game.
This is Link.
He’s a magic fairy boy who starts the game in his pants, then goes off to explore Hyrule and save it once he’s done exploring. He’s dressed like a ninja here, but only a little bit. The rest of his clothes make noise, which runs counter to the whole ‘stealth’ thing.
Here are the results of Link’s tour of Hyrule.
This is Shaggy.
It’s a little chilly where he’s at, so his thick coat’s very useful. Shaggy reckons that he’s a guard at the stable and side-eyed the cart in the background just in case anyone suspicious was hiding there.
This is Bernard.
He’s more happy-go-lucky than Shaggy, but the pair could be mistaken for each other on an overcast day. The sky was really broody here, ready to rain. Link slept in this stable, hoping the weather would clear up by morning. It did not.
This is Radish.
She’s possibly slightly too brave and not very smart. She cannot see the ninja who has crept right up to her. She would be ambush-petted if it was possible.
This is Dobbin.
Apparently he is a horse. Link was not convinced.
This is Karpo, who is apparently a fish. Link offered to throw Karpo back into the water, at which point Karpo decided they were fine being beached. Karpo is a rubbish fish.
This is Jennifer. Jennifer is a wolf and not a dog.
This is Manuel, who is an underhut dog. Link nearly missed him having a fun old time under the hut. He may have been spying on cooking going on inside.
So to sum up, the Switch itself is a good console, certainly something which I want to play more games on. To be honest, any multi-console releases I want on the Switch just for the portability and the adorable controllers. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game which caught my attention more than any other in a long time. It stuck in my mind after a session of play, making me think about it whenever the console was out of my hands.
That said, there is a glaring problem which has affected my final scoring of the game:
I worked for a bank for nearly a decade. For a time, I was part of a group for a project taking place in a mostly abandoned building. The bank was letting their contract with the office run out and had refused to remove any items from the premises. The thought was that it would be too pricy to take the stationary, computers and furniture out rather than pay folks to trash it all at the end of the contract.
This Marie Celeste of offices felt strange to exist in, just me and a handful of others in a small room on the top floor. There were so many signs of life and whenever we needed another desktop, a fan when it got hot, maybe some new pens, we would go hunting. I would spend my lunch in people’s offices, still surrounded by far too many things of theirs left behind. It was most disturbing when you’d find a personal item; holiday photos, personalised mugs. One office had a purple plastic box which was standard for people changing buildings, but it had been left there at foot level. There were some personal items, a lot of work-based paper and a pair of marbled green pens which were all I looted from there. They were beautiful, a little thin for my large hands to grip onto and they ran out very quickly.
The fourth floor was the best floor. There must have been some attempt to organise things before people were told to leave it. There was a wall of ring binders. This was during the sub-prime crisis, while things were starting and people were paranoid about spending any money. It got to the point where my team back in the building with people and lights and work weren’t able to order new stationary. A legal event had caused tons of people to write in with DPA requests, eager to loophole their way out of their debt. They went crazy for it, whole companies were built on trying to exploit people who wanted a way out of their credit card debt in this method. It was fended off because it wasn’t really all that valid, but it didn’t stop us needing tomes-worth of paper for all of these cases and places to store them in. At the same time, we weren’t allowed to buy plastic sleeves or ‘slippery fish’ to put the files in.
One day we grabbed a roll of bin bags and guided some of the temps from our old team through the back door where the security guard wouldn’t see. Our company wasn’t the main one in the building the security guard for our floors was in a small side room, watching Supernatural and reminiscing about his days as a guard in a mental hospital to anyone who would listen. It was easy enough to get half a dozen people past him. We snuck up, took all the slippery fish that we could fit in bin bags. We took replacement parts for several PCs which needed mice, monitors and keyboards back at the office, then fled.
The fourth floor became populated as our project for closer to release. No longer was it a weird haven of stationary flanking a large table filled with empty beer cans and signs of an impromptu leaving party. Programmers flocked in, creating PCs out of the trash around them and walls out of anything which wouldn’t work.
Things were alive, but only slightly and only on the fourth floor. Our floor and the one below still held enough mysteries to keep things interesting. One of the times we were on a stationary run in an abandoned floor, I found a table where it looked like people were half way through a coffee round before they vanished. An open jar of cheap coffee going mouldy, several cups nestled together on a tray in preparation. Right next to them was a cup on a desk which had been moved tactfully towards the others, still on a coaster. Someone hinting about being included in the coffee run. Someone who didn’t know they would all be mysteriously gone before anyone would get a drink.
The coaster the cup was on looked cool. It was green and a little tattered at the edges, like it belonged to an older time despite being here. There were faded rings from all the cups which had been on it before. No one who owned it before was here, no one would miss it. I took the green coaster to use with my drinks in our small room. A nicer coaster was found at one point, but I liked this one, so I took it to my desk back in the building where my old team were. When I did overtime, I could use it. A colleague and I had been chatting about whether the coaster itself was haunted and had caused the disappearance of all the workers. It looked out of place, after all. I told him that if we went back to the old office for overtime and everyone had vanished, leaving a large circle of human teeth and small piles of dust, I’d know not to disturb old looking objects in the future.
The security guard who loved Supernatural, the history of aircraft carriers and conversations about his former jobs had overheard these conversations between my colleague and I. One day he gave me a transparent plastic coaster with a clipart picture of a cup of coffee on it.
“That’s a real haunted coaster,” he said.
I looked at it, dubious. I generally avoided conversation with the guard. He was pleasant and his stories were entertainingly odd, but I would enter the building five minutes early and reach my desk fifteen minutes late after talking to him.
He was giggling. “Turn it round,” he said.
I did and the reverse of the coaster had a clipart ghost on it and the word, “BOO!” in a spooky font. He fell about laughing. I kept my own haunted coaster, but thanked him anyway.
My team were not consumed by the haunted coaster, although talking about this theory loudly in front of them led to some small resentment of it. When my team was disbanded and I was reassigned it followed me. It’s still in the office where I now work, a reminder of my experiences in that strange building.