Sunday, 29 March 2009

[Props] Gas Mask

Yesterday I went down to B&Q after finding some nice dust filters on their website.

Typically I couldn't find what I wanted so I went across the road to a plumbers' supply shop, where they had what I wanted - and cheaper, too.

There's something inherently amusing about a slightly camp, unshaven goth guy in a floor-length leather cassock-style coat reading a catalogue of mens' toys while surrounded by burly Eastern European construction workers.

But I have it. It cost £10.79 (inc. VAT), it's comfortable and has freakily large filters.

It also makes me look cross-eyed.

I am definitely going to paint this thing, although I'm not sure how yet. I may just go black for generic use with a little text on it, but I also like the idea of an Avestite mask carefully hand-painted with holy flame. Something like this, maybe.

Tomorrow I plan to get up early and go to Leisure Games, who seem to have a nice selection of branded paint lines, before going to uni.

Friday, 27 March 2009

[Props] I'm A Maverick!

I have a Maverick pistol!

It's bigger than I thought. It basically has the proportions of Hellboy's oversized pistol.

I like it. It has a nice heft to it, as well, in case I need to pistol whip somebody (I don't know why I'd need to pistolwhip anybody except when working on group projects at uni, but you never know).

Sites seem to suggest using proper plastic paints, but I want more attention to detail than that and think that I may try with typical acrylic miniature paints, as I know how to use them.

Time To Get Writing!

Well, my most recent deadlines have come and gone and I can now turn t0 the requests for essays at this point. So far the votes are for Game Theory, mechanics, prop/clothing advice and setting info.

While I obviously do have to go where inspiration takes me, I've already pondered a few options and have scribed them below. If any grab your attention, comment and I'll see what I can do to meet your requests.

Game Theory

  • Props - different methods and how they effect the game space.
  • How to get people to NPC/GM.
  • Explaining basic systems, one piece at a time (character generation, skill use, Wyrd, combat, social systems (20 questions and contracts) and other elements).
  • 'Peasants Revolt' - a system explained to me some time ago and designed to counter the super-powerful from making excessive contracts.
  • Alternative combat. I'm not too sure about this one (I feel ambivalent about trying to fit a boffer system for some reason), but it does have a certain synchronicity with John Wick's recent LJ vid about his Houses of the Blooded LARP combat system (it bears similarities and differences to Passion Play - I wonder how much he knows of it).
  • Downtime - statting up fiefs and assets and creating a mechanic where they can be used, conquered and lost in conflicts.
  • Making my Maverick - modding the nerf gun into something more FS.
  • Weapon props.
  • Basic clothing concepts, starting with Rampart's most influential factions.
  • Small props - minor props used to add flavour to the setting.
  • The Rampart Gazetteer (as sold by the local Charioteers Guild, only two talons guv'nor).
  • Introductory Catechism - explaining Church doctrine.
  • What To Do When Noble And In Town.
Does anyone have any preferences?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Poll Results

Well, the poll has ended. Out of the three who voted, all three prefer the new, Photoshopped banner and images.

And now for a new poll: what articles would you like to see more of?

EDIT: The poll has a deliberately long life to allow things to change as the project goes along, in case anyone wondered. It wasn't a slip of the mouse or anything.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Pimping My Game

With having a better idea of where things will be happening (UCL), I have been putting out some ads.

On Livejournal I've gone to: London Gamers and Larpers, as well as my own LJ (you never know).

Forum-wise, I've started a recruitment thread on and Shades Larp List as well as carrying details in my signatures.

Next I suppose is to hit up the local game shops.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Introductory Videos

Rather than trying to explain what LARP is, I'm going to turn it over to YouTube, which already has a number of videos on the subject. It would be nice to add to this with my own videos, but that's for the future, I think.

The first is a documentary trying to ask what is LARP?

But that's not quite the kind of LARP I will be running.

I found this link, which is for a trilogy of Vampire: The Masquerade games. The cool thing about it is that the GM is explaining things as they go along, so hopefully it should make more sense to non-gamers.

Here is a more interesting one, but sadly only if you can comprehend German.

And, lastly, here are two videos from Kettle of Fish Production's Fading Suns convention LARPs.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Prop Talk: Nerf Pistol

I've ordered a Nerf Maverick pistol after having it repeatedly crop up on steampunk sites as a favoured sidearm. More importantly, oversized weapons a la Chronicles of Riddick (get used to hearing about this film - you don't get many Byzantine-styled SF films) and Warhammer 40,000 are also an element of Fading Suns.

Here's what it looks like out of the box:

And here is an idea of what I might do with it: specifically I'm thinking of the rich colours and the worn look. An added bonus is that all I really need to do is give it a new paint job.

(Image from the very cool Terminally Incoherent blog).

Does anyone out there have personal experience of modding a Maverick and would like to share?

UPDATE: In a strange bit in internet synchronicity, I have just found links for a site about modding Nerf guns. Nice.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Prop Talk - Ammo Boxes

OK. I'm working on a props essay, but it's getting quite conceptual.

In the meantime, I wanted to show you something I picked up last weekend in town - one of two ammo boxes.

Here is a picture of the original, with the original text. Under that is a photoshop of what I want it to look like once I've figured out how to take off the original lettering.

(Click on the images to see a larger version.)

This is an example of what I call 'small proppage'. While big props (set dressing like statues, banners, etc.) help create a general feel, it's the small things that you can pick up and handle that add to the feeling of 'presence' - of being inside a setting. As well as littering a battle scene, a nice metal box like this could be used to pass on something very different inside, smuggled through the military bureaucracy.

Oh, and the bottom line of new text says 'use by non-Imperial forces is punishable by crucifixion'. It seemed like a nicely medieval touch and the fact that it will becovered in Imperial Phoenixes should be enough of a hint to keep the serfs away.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

See That Banner?

That wasn't my original choice - I wanted an animated banner.

Not knowing how to make animated .gifs and not having the time to learn, I made a slideshow of various backdrops to the text. Unfortunately, Blogger won't let me add a slideshow to the banner area.

As such, I never quite finished it beyond trying the slideshow out. But, if anyone's interested, the link is here. I know there's a problem with the text, but that comes from only having certain images on hand and, as I can't use it, there's not much point in my trying to fix it.

Making A Show Of It

This morning, in that wonderfully clear time between waking up and getting up, my mind turned to the honourable demo.

With UCL's sci-fi society suggestion that I should do a demo/howto for their fresher's week as a way of attracting folk (and getting them over their LARP-phobia) my mind threw up an alternative.

You see, Fading Suns has a very dense and well thought out setting, that can seem intimidating. After all, without understanding underpinning issues such as the sin of Technosophy(1) and the Doctrine of Martyrs(2) or even the names and virtues of the Prophet's (may He ever walk in light) seven followers.

You see, I don't think that a standard show (basically standing round in costume collecting interest, showing someone how to boffer fight and registering members) isn't going to work if people are already ucertain about LARP already.

I need to do something different. Fortunately, all I have to do is look at the setting.

You see, the Fading Suns setting is full of strange and interesting bits of colour. For example, the (mostly) illiterate Avestite sect distributes its doctrine not only through preaching but by the distribution of little comic books. The idea is based on the US's Chick tracts (I'm not going to link unless asked - they're disgustingly offensive little piles of dogma), although the Avestite ones are much less heinous in tone and mostly involve two boys. Basically, one is good and receives his rewards, while the other is bad and suffers appropriately for it. Very primary-school ethics.

This is their method of teaching basic dogma and morality, but it would be fun to invert that idea and make a small comic strip that shows the fun of LARPing. It takes the two boys from the dogma and has one LARPing with a lot of (morally OK) fun, while the other goes clubbing and gets the clap. OK, I'm being silly, but you get the idea. At the back is a page detailing how to get involved.

And I might have to distribute them as an Inquisitor, with flamer of holy purgation, gasmask, fireproof robes - the whole outfit.

Another idea is to actually give sermons illustrating certain points of the setting - the fading suns, the sin of technosophy, the life of the Prophet (may He ever walk in light) - little touches like that.

A third one would be to dress up as a member of the Town Crier's Guild and go round spreading the news of the LARP, interspersed with news items from the setting.

(1) Essentially the sin of 'Love of Technology'; relying too much on machines as opposed to the miracle of the human body/mind, use of cybernetics to enhance characteristics, etc.

(2) The doctrine that, as a certain level of technology must be mainted to keep insterstellar society, it is only right that the upper levels of society take on the sin of technosophy in order to prevent the masses sufering from sin. And they get to use the cool toys.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

What Happened And What's Next?

Where did it all go wrong?
  • Timeframe: While four weeks is possible (the last one started in a week, but already had players, location, etc), I hadn't counted on having to spend so much time looking for a place. London Metropolitan University doesn't have a sci-fi soc that I know of, which suggested that reaching out to Met students would be a timewaster. However, it was taking a full week to go from 'can I meet your group to talk about this?' to 'well, that's interesting, but we can't do much. Try these guys'. Once that repeated itself couple of times I ended up too short on time.

  • Bad risk assessment: I don't know London and its gamers as I haven't gotten out much (or at all) in term time. I thought that things would actually be easier to set up in as big a town as this (in fact, that was one of the few things I saw as good about moving to London. I was wrong in my unfamiliarity, basically, and lacking a basic network of people to help me get moving.
  • Ambition: I know this links to what I've said already, but I think that I was too ambitious in my plans. If I had run a World of Darkness or Call of Cthulhu game, I think that I would have found it a lot easier to get players; after all, both games are well known and have strong followers. Fading Suns...does not. Its fans are serious, but the overall numbers are small.
As I've already said, on an objective scale I could have done more but, subjectively speaking, if I'd been able to all that, then I would have.

Still, that doesn't matter. The question is what do I have?

  • I stirred up interest: UCL want me to turn up at the new year and basically do a stall showing the game as part of their union events. And there's others - I got an email from someone after the event, who wants to know if I ever do it again (she heard of it from the Maelstrom mailing list. News must have travelled, because I didn't put it there.

  • My ideas: They haven't gone away - and focusing on them has only made them better.

  • Timing: Once this semester is over, I have summer holidays to work on things at my own pace. I think that achieving a critical mass in interest will take longer than I ever anticipated and certainly more time than I had. As UCL and Imperial were saying that nothing could be done at short notice (roughly a month ahead), I have the luxury of not trying to get everything done at short notice.

  • My props: I got a call yesterday afternoon saying that they were ready to be shipped. The universe does have a sense of humour. But I can still get hold of them and I still have ideas for stuff. For example, our housemate threw out some polystyrene pillars on which I am going to do a post, but basically I'm turning them into alien markers.
What do I do now?

Despite the frustrations and, ultimately, failure, I do still think that I have something. While it's not a full game, it would seem that such an aim was too high anyway. I've still stirred up interest and I have people who want so see me succeed.

As such, I have decided to keep the blog beyond the project deadline and work on it over the summer with the aim of making presentations and running a game in Year 2.

Keep watching this space, I guess...

Saturday, 14 March 2009


Today's game isn't going ahead.

Out of the 10+ pledges of interest, I got 2 confirmations, which is a massive failure rate. I expected to get about 6 people in the end, which itself was a massive failure rate of over 50%.

Could I have done more to promote it? I'm not sure. On an objective scale yes, I could have done much more; more leaflets, hooking up with more universities and generally more aggressiveness. On a subjective scale though, taking into account the long hours and looming deadlines of other projects, I would say that there's so much I can do and I knew that I might be pushing it to get something done in four weeks when I simply don't have enough of a local support network (i.e. I barely know anyone in this town).

I'm going to post later today on this, mostly because I want to dissect this failure in anticipation of avoiding it in the future.

Monday, 9 March 2009

(Important) Game Details

OK, so:

This game will run from 11am-3pm (so be there before 11) on Saturday, 14th March. It will be at the London Metropolitan University North Campus.

I'm in the process of sorting out security procedures for non-university people.

To get to the campus, you come out of the Holloway Road underground station and turn right. Go across the side-road (there's a TESCO just up that side-road if you need anything), keep going along until you come to a crossing that leads to the universities' large entrance with a ramp and hole in the wall next to it.

London Metropolitan University
London Metropolitan University, 277 Holloway Rd
London, N7 8HN, United Kingdom

Comment if you need any more details or email me for my number.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

15 Days Remaining

Yes, as you can see, I have added a deadline image to the page. Just to be clear, this is the amount of days until the entire project is over, not the amount of days until the game.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

(Possible) Good News Everybody!

I've been invited to the Imperial College gaming society meet tonight to discuss running my game there.

I'll post once I have more on the subject.

Monday, 2 March 2009

To All Potential Players

Can all those who have voiced an interest so far please email me, so we can set things up.

Bad News Everybody!

So I took a site walk at UCL on Friday, discussing my game plans with the Sci-Fi society people who took me around.

Unfortunately, it looks like Student Union rules will prevent me from being able to set anything up without massive bureaucratic work.

I am going to explore other areas, but it is a setback because UCL was a very attractive site due to the varied architecture and central location.

I still plan to run the game, but things are getting tight. It doesn't help that I've been looking for affordable travel to Carlisle and back, without any luck. I need to go there to pick up two boxes of props, prop making equipment and clothing, but the railway is extortionately expensive and the buses would eat up about ten -twelve hours just travelling one way!