Professor Jimbles Presents: “I play to win, baby.” 

Okay, so this is over a year overdue. I’m terrible, I know.

But let’s see this as an example of time teaching you, and making a fool of your past self.

In this time, I attended another Phenomenon in Canberra (And took away their drama Triptytch award with a group of people I had never met before.) and even ran my first game for the greater Canberra roleplaying community. All in all, another fantastic year.

Why competitive roleplaying? This genre is built around making a story as a team! Guiding these semi-real entities through trials both emotional and physical! Wouldn’t adding a competitive edge ruin it? Wouldn’t the ever present thought of “Am I doing this well enough to get an award?” ruin your immersion?

Well, no. First of all, your GM is likely to be running multiple sessions of their game (Even I did, and it was my first year.) and with premade characters, there is bound to be a player or a group who has an interpretation that matches their inital designs. Us GMs do enjoy a bit of ego stroking; if a player can find interest in characters we created enough to perfectly encapsulate them in their performance then it is only natural to have a preference.

On the other hand, if someone takes a character in a completely new direction that surprises and excites the GM, this could also endear the player to them. Surprising someone who has run a particular scenario up to 11 times already is a feat worthy of recognition. Especially if this interpretation is better than what they initially envisioned.

Let’s get something clear, you are never competing against the people you’re weaving a story with. These competitive games at Phenomenon are collaborative, so you are building a story with the GM and the other players, usually-but-not-always using a rules light or no rules system. Unlike a more rigid game like Pathfinder, the ever present urge for optimization and survivability is absent. If you can’t fail because someone isn’t pulling their weight, then you’re without THAT form of competition against your fellow players.

Lastly; and most importantly comes the phrase I hear most often when describing the Perpetual games.

“But that’s rediculous, how do you score a “Winner” of rules-light or systemless games?”

Easy! These are drama or comedy games. You can use a very simple “Who made me feel/laugh the most?” metric. You could add points for anyone who has a highly quotable line, and remove them for anyone who keeps breaking character. As well as the interpretation idea I explored above.

This does mean that it comes down to more Romanticism than Enlightenment, but I’m okay with that. The kind of games that flourish under plot and characterization heavy settings don’t often come with a clear mathematical “Winner” anyway. You’re gonna have an emotional favourite anyway.

Picture of the winning team: Shiny Things and me, from Cardgames on Motorcycles. 


Photo made publically available. Please ask before reproduction. Names withheld on request.

A Fistful of Roses, Part II: Fire and Blood (WIP)

Hey guys, welcome back to my campaign journal for A Fistful of Roses, the Savage Worlds cyberpunk campaign I’m playing in using the Interface Zero 2.0 setting. For anyone who hasn’t seen part one, you can check it out here: A Fistful of Roses, Part I: My Name Is Roxy

Alright. Posting part two of this, but as you might have noticed from the title, this is very much still a work in progress. Honestly it’s been a struggle to write this part, I haven’t been able to get it to a point I’m happy with. But it’s been a few weeks longer than I’d planned between posts, and I need to move on to other stuff. I’ll be coming back when I’ve had a chance to get some feedback so I can try to fix it up, but if I let myself dwell on it now I’ll never let it go.

A quick note. As is almost always the case, we’ve changed a few things about the setting, and made our own assumptions when something may not be perfectly clear in the book (or we’ve just missed it somehow). So we’ve assumed that the Tendril Access Processors (TAPs) that people have implanted in their heads act as general comms devices as well as providing augmented reality feeds and data access. We also changed the JUMP bikes a bit, neither the GM or I were a huge fan of the Formula One looking cars shown in the sourcebook for them, both of us had been picturing motorcycles that hover instead of having wheels, kind of halfway between a high end sports bike and an ATV. Actually I’m not even sure if they’re meant to hover or not, or are just able to leap into the air when needed. Either way, that’s how they look in our game.

All of that said, hope you enjoy it, and as always, feedback is very much appreciated.

NOTE: Profanity is a little more prevalent in this one than the first entry. I’m still working out Roxy’s character, and I’m leaning towards making her relatively foul mouthed and prone to bursts of anger.

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A Fistful of Roses, Part II: Fire and Blood

0015 Hours – The Strange Island, Korea Town

Shit. It’s after midnight, and I’m still sitting here, nursing another beer, waiting for Felix’s damn bartender to show up so we can get down to business. At least the night hasn’t been a total write-off. Turns out that hybrid couple those Bloody Hand gangers were hassling run the local hardware store. Said they’d have something for me in a few days, a thank you for running off the goons. I’ll have to try to keep ’em sweet, it’s always handy to be on friendly terms with gunrunners. Still, it doesn’t look like things are going to calm down here any time soon, and I’ve got other places to be. Felix and I’ll just have to have our chat another time.

I savour the last of my beer. It’s heavy and rich, bitter-sweet with undertones of chocolate and coffee. I push the glass away, the taste of  toasted hops and malted barley lingering on my tongue. Hell, forget about finding a fixer, I’d come back just for another glass. I stand, stretching, the leather of my impact suit hugging my body, a familiar, comfortable feeling. No point trying to say goodbye to Felix, he’s busy serving the crowd. A hand darts out from behind the bar, grabs my wrist as I turn to leave. Clawed and lightly furred … I follow the arm back to see Felix looking over my shoulder. He’s worried, I can see it. Slitted pupils wide, tufted ears laid flat against his skull. Something’s got him spooked good and proper.

“Trouble coming,” he hisses, leaning in close. “Your friends are back, and they’ve brought company. I figure this ain’t good for either of us, so what’s say we back each other up here. I turn to follow his gaze out to the street. The gangers from before are on approach to the bar, along with a group of their friends. Four of the others look like carbon copies of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, same shitty tatts and grubby gang colours. The last one though … looks like they went crying to their boss-man. Same sort of thug, just trussed up in a badly fitted suit instead of the leathers and muscle tops the street crew favour.

“Deal. But the drinks are on you after this,” I shoot back at him, a grin on my face. “And I’ll be expecting some extra consideration when we’re negotiating my cut for any jobs we might work together in the future.” I’m whistling in the dark, trying to hide the rising panic. Three, even four of these guys between us, easy. Seven … Well, I hope Felix has some heavy ordinance back there with him, ’cause all I’ve got is my revolver and a pair of stun-gloves. They’re just street trash, but a near four to one advantage is going to count for a lot. I pull the gloves out of my pocket and slip them on. There’s a faint buzzing in my palms as they hum to life, and I slide a hand behind my back, drawing my revolver and flicking off the safety, concealing it between my leg and the bar

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Painting Guide: Cybertronic Chasseurs (Warzone Resurrection)

Hey all, and welcome to what I hope is the first of many posts for the Grassy Gnoll. I’m Evan, and this month I’ll be running through the process of painting Cybertronic Chasseurs from Warzone Resurrection in a Martian/Frontier colour scheme. For anyone unfamiliar with it, Warzone Resurrection is a miniatures wargame based on the Mutant Chronicles RPG setting.

Some of you may be wondering “Evan, why are you using this colour scheme if your basing theme is Martian landscape?” Well, dear reader, I’m painting it like this because I like schemes with a stark contrast to them. For example the blue-steel of the armour plating and gun casing works well to contrast and tie together both the pallid and sickly looking pale flesh of the Chasseur and the earthy rich red-brown of the Martian hinterlands my various armies will be fighting over (You’ll see a terrain guide for building a similar set up in a future update).

Should I have gone for a red-metal look for my armour? Yeah, probably. But I think this scheme also works well to reflect the cold and calculating approach to warfare that the Cybertronic Megacorporation exemplifies so well.

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To sound less wanky. I think it looks dope and fits the faction’s image and theme nicely. As long as your own schemes fit that criteria (looks good, and suits the faction) I say go nuts.

I primarily use the Citadel Colours range of paints and washes and brushes from Games Workshop. If you use other brands it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out and match what colours I’m using, but I’ve included a list of colours used and their equivalents between the ranges at the end.

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Book Review – The First Tail by T.J. Burgin

Hey guys,

Took me a bit longer to finish this book than I hoped. Still, I got there in the end, so it’s time for the my review.

Full Disclosure: I was provided with an e-book of this novel by the author for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the work, and this review is a full, fair and honest accounting of my thoughts on it. 

The First Tail

T.J. Burgin

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The First Tail

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A Fistful of Roses, Part I: My Name is Roxy

Well, this is a few days later than I’d wanted, thanks to a weekend spent with my parents and some longer than anticipated days at work.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve joined a new cyberpunk game run by my friend Chris. We’re using Interface Zero 2.0,  for Savage Worlds. Great cyberpunk setting, has a few elements that veer more into transhumanism than cyberpunk (the human/animal hybrids and so on), but in the main it’s a very genre faithful setting. Lots of hacking, virtual reality, mechanical augmentations, people wired for augmented reality, and a lot of shiny chrome and bright neon contrasted with the filthy streets and gritty nature of day-to-day survival in the urban sprawl. Being Savage Worlds, it mostly conforms to the core rules, but adds some more complex rules for things like hacking (the Science Fiction companion for Savage Worlds actually recommends using these rules for any other games that need hacking rules), cybernetic augmentation and so on, as well as adding, removing or modifying Edges and Hindrances as appropriate for the genre. One of the bigger changes is the addition of occupations, where each character has to pick an occupation based on their concept. There’s a pretty extensive list, with everything from bartenders and pizza delivery guys right up the chain to the corporate executives and mob bosses. Your occupation provides certain benefits fitting the concept, as well as a regular source of extra income every time you received an Advance (every 5 experience points). The default setting for the game is North America, but there are supplements coming out for other locations, like the Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun sourcebook.

Given how much I enjoyed the character concept I came up with, especially after seeing how she ran in the first session of the game, I figured I may as well keep an in character campaign journal for her and chronicle the events of the game. Then I decided to make things difficult for myself and write it in first person perspective and present tense, because apparently I’m a masochist. So I asked Chris what the campaign was called, and was duly confused and curious when I was informed it has been named “A Fistful of Roses”. No, I don’t know why. But I can’t wait to find out.

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Sorry guys…

Sorry guys, I know I said that the first part of my campaign journal would be up Monday night at the latest, but I ended up busier with my parents than expected over the weekend. Thought I’d have it done tonight for sure, but ended up having to work a twelve hour shift today (I got home around 10:00 PM. Working on it right now though. I figure I’m about two thirds to three quarters of the way through. Soon as it’s ready I’ll post it. Hopefully tomorrow night.

A brief update

Hey hey,

So I know I said this week’s update would be a review of The First Tail by T.J. Burgin, but like the complete and utter forgetful chump that I am, I spaced out on the fact that I had a rather jam-packed week due to work and having to prepare for a visit from my parents this weekend. End result is that I spent most of my week running around like I was on fire, trying to get everything done, and I only managed to get to the halfway point of the novel. If I can get it finished before next weekend I’ll try to get a review up mid-week, but I have multiple extended shifts in the coming week (I’ve even had to postpone the fortnightly East Texas University game that I run, which makes for an unhappy Tinkergoth indeed), so I can’t guarantee anything there. Either way, next weekend I’ll have the review up for sure.

That said, I don’t want to miss a post the very first week after I started again, so something will be going up this weekend sometime. Most likely it’ll be a bit of an in character campaign journal for a new Interface Zero 2.0 (a Cyberpunk setting for Savage Worlds) game that I joined. At some point I’ll do an Unusual Suspects update for my character from the game as well, but I want to get some artwork done for her first.

While I’m writing this now though, I may as well make a few quick movie recommendations. If it’s showing near you, and you like thoughtful, intelligent science fiction that doesn’t just bombard you with pretty action sequences and call it a day, I highly recommend Ex Machina. Likewise, if you’re a fan of offbeat films with some dark humour thrown in, and don’t mind westerns, check out Slow West (Great performance from Michael Fassbender, and Ben Mendelsohn plays his role as a less than pleasant bounty hunter perfectly… I dunnot what it is about Mendelsohn, but he seems to be born to play nutcases and villains).

One other bit of news about potential upcoming stuff for the site. I’m talking with one of my friends about getting him to post a bit about tabletop wargaming (as he’s far more into it than I am, I only play Relic Knights, despite owning a Circle Orboros army for Hordes). There’d probably be a bit of news about upcoming events and releases, game reports, and some painting guides… he’s a damn fine painter, which is why I’ve handed him my primary Relic Knights faction, the Cerci Speed Circuit, so that they actually look good. Meanwhile I’ll practice on my backup faction, the Star Nebula Corsairs, and hope that they don’t end up looking like an army of blob people. I’ll post an update when I’ve got a better idea of what’s happening.

Right, that’s it from me for now, I need a decent night’s sleep so I can get up early and do everything I need to before the parental units arrive. Campaign journal will hopefully be up by Sunday night, but if worst comes to worst, Monday is a public holiday, so I can work on it then.

Til then, take it easy and keep the dice rolling.