“DCI Huntley has the right to be questioned by an officer at least one rank senior”
Fans of the TV show Line of Duty will recognise that as the show’s de facto catchphrase and one of the many recurring soundbites that are embedded in the scripts and form the skeleton around which the hit show is built. What I find remarkable is that these noises and phrases are not the catchphrases of the characters or running jokes or puns, but rather procedural language that reflects the setting and adds to the authenticity of the show. This got me thinking about other instances where procedural language is embedded in the presentation of the media that inspires our games, and how can we use it to our advantage.
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It seems to have all gone quiet on the Omnihedron front, hasn’t it? Here’s a quick update on where I am with what, gaming-wise.
Blogging: Is going to start again – as the higher education year grinds down from the furore of final submissions and into exam boards, a little more headspace can be allocated to gaming and games design. Hurrah!
Duty & Honour: I’ve been slowly pulling my thoughts together for the revised edition and I have my long summer holidays pencilled in for some major work on it. I don’t have the original files anymore so I have someone typing them up for me, and then I can use that as the basis to expand and adapt for the new version. I’ll be looking for some playtesting around about Autumn 2018, I imagine with the main action coming next year.
Liminal: I’ve been doing a lot of work on Liminal, a game of British urban fantasy by Paul Mitchener. Liminal had a really tremendous Kickstarter and Paul entrusted me with not one, but two stretch goals (Liminal London and Novocastria) and a some extras for other books. The first draft of Liminal London was twice as long as expected – and I could have doubled that word count easily – and has been submitted. Why has this jumped the queue? Simple – the Omnihedron laptop is nearly 5 years old now and it’s showing. I need new hardware!
At the Table?: Our game of Symbaroum continues. We have completed the Copper Crown mini-campaign and are at the start of Wrath of the Warden at the moment. We don’t play too often and the game is continuing to deliver a rich, layered and dangerous experience. I’m also starting a short run of Traveller soon, because you know, after buying the original books some 32 years ago I should probably get around to running it. I’m also running a little D&D at the newly forged college D&D Club. More on that later…
Reading: A huge portion of my reading has been taken up with research for Liminal London, but I have needed a palette cleanser before I head into books new, so I have started reading the Starbuck books by Bernard Cornwell. I’ve very little knowledge of the American Civil War so its all new to me, and well, Cornwell rarely puts a foot wrong in my opinion, so I presume it’ll be good stuff.
I’ve recently just turned 47, which means I’m into my 35th year of gaming. Just thinking about that is mind-boggling really as some of the memories I have about those early games are as fresh and vivid as the ones I have about my Symbaroum game last night. I remember our epic ‘Summer of WFRP’, my first ever game of Runequest and that sodding 18% language skill, and complex games of DC Heroes, Golden Heroes and Superworld; we loved our superhero games! I also remember some of the less great moments – the persecution of one player with character death over and over again in the same scenario, people character suiciding to get a re-roll of poor stats, Cthulhu games that were all about shotguns and dynamite and, of course, many many great games that crashed and burned after one session.
In our gaming group, like so many gaming groups, we have a number of in-jokes. One of which involves the players turning to the GM just before the game starts and telling them to ‘bring the awesome’ followed by cries of ‘yes, entertain me!’ etc – with tongue firmly rammed into cheek, may I add. My oft-stated credo that the GM is a player too and that the state of the game is as much the responsibility of the players as it is the GM was borne from the highly egalitarian nature of my own home gaming environment. However, it is not always so – especially in the world of convention gaming, and this time of year convention gaming comes into mind a lot!
[Note: As well as posting about Duty & Honour development here, I’m also going to be writing about gaming matters in general.]
“Nothing is more frightening than a fear you cannot name.”
― Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
In my home group, we have been playing through the introductory campaign – the Copper Crown – for Symbaroum, and having a very good time with it. This is the first time we have played the system and we have settled into it well enough but the real take away has been the joy that we have taken from playing a game, and a setting, within which we have almost no frame of reference. The monsters are wholly alien, the spells are totally unexpected, the abilities are still unpredictable and the setting throws up a real sense of mistrust and shifting alliances.