ORC Edinburgh: Moving On

ORC Edinburgh Logo

ORC Edinburgh (Open Roleplaying Community Edinburgh) is the RPG community website I’ve been running for several years. It has been a challenge. The RPG scene in Edinburgh has grown exponentially, along with other tabletop games. Over the last few months, I’ve realised I can’t keep track of the various games and groups, not to mention the various venues. In the past, people have assumed things just happen.

Over the last year, there’s been a significant number of changes in my life. It’s impacting my ability to coordinate the activities. So, I’ve stepped back from trying to be a “Gaming Ambassador” for ORC Edinburgh. The community has built to such an extent I can’t keep track. This is a good thing. Like Lorien, the First One from Babylon 5, time for me to step aside. Last year, I “reached out” (urgh, hate that phrase!) – to the other gaming communities too, and made some inroads. But it’s just too much time to spend on it.

I’ve appointed a number of volunteer moderators for the ORC forums in this respect. This should alleviate the pressure to the extent I can concentrate on other things than RPGs. As well as running ORC Edinburgh, I also have a long daily workday which is becoming increasingly challenging. As well as doing the freelance work for Modiphius (which I love doing) and a few other personal changes, the time commitment just isn’t possible. I’ll still keep the site maintained and active. The training wheels have been removed, and ORC Edinburgh will now sink or swim on its own.

As I taught you and stepped aside, now you must do the same. Our age is past. This…belongs to the younger races now. They have learned to stand on their own. They have learned…to understand. Time to let them go – Lorien, Babylon 5: Into the Fire

Many of ORC’s members have moved on, yet many more have signed up. They’ve left Edinburgh, formed their own permanent groups, or just haven’t the time. It’s time for me to move on like the others before me. Do I think I’ve left a legacy? Well, so many groups wouldn’t exist for ORC. Some of ORC have formed permanent relationships – even dated – from their time in ORC: so, yes. Like Morgue and Dave before me, it’s time to expand my horizons.

… Now, like the others, I find I hate to leave. But none of us can stay behind this time. That was why it was necessary to find all the remaining First Ones. This…is yours now. And you have an obligation…to do as we have done. To teach the races that will follow you and, when your time comes, as ours has, to step aside and allow them to grow into their own destiny. If your races survive, if you do not kill yourselves, I look forward to the day when your people join us…beyond the Rim. – Lorien, Babylon 5: Into the Fire

So what’s next for me?

Despite the (slightly!) maudlin nature of the early part of this post, I look forward to the future. I remain committed to running Achtung! Cthulhu every fortnight. The extra time I now have allows me to focus more on my personal life. Plus, I will have a Saturday free. I can also find more time to concentrate on freelance work. It should be possible for me to catch up on running (and playing) demonstration games too. There’s the novel and all the other stuff I wanted to get done, but had no time. I’m not saying this is ALL going to happen, but it’s a start!

Damnation Dossier: NPCs for the Mutant Chronicles

As I’ve been working on Mutants & Heretics as well as the Dark Eden campaign, I’ve been having fun stat’ting up NPCs for the Mutant Chronicles. Here’s a couple of new NPCs:

Avena Reznik [NEMESIS]

“The pin-up of CEN” as she is known in Luna PD (although not to her face), Avena is a detective, first grade in Luna PD’s Homicide Division. No other detective in the division has such a high clear-up rate. She has featured in a number of high-profile media cases, but was once the subject of a case herself.

As a rookie Luna PD cop, Avena was captured and held prisoner for three weeks by Grigor Valentinov, the infamous “Rookery Raptor”. Starved and subjected to all manner of foul depredations, Avena somehow kept her sanity. At least, that is how the psych reports read. The autopsy reports of Valentinov state that he fell into the industrial machinery of the disused factory where Avena was being held. The post-mortem wounds were consistent with such injuries.

The truth is far darker. Chained to a a steel pipe, Avena was weak from starvation, but had worked a part of the pipe loose into a makeshift shiv she hid in her sleeve. Then Valentinov came to visit, looking forward to ending her life, whispering vile suggestions and atrocities into her ears. Unable to bear it any longer, Avena plunged her shiv into his neck.

Valentinov bled out in front of her and Avena couldn’t help but smile. Still chained to the pipe, Avena was still trapped, alone, and so very hungry… But there was fresh meat in front of her, and within reach. And at that point, Avena was lost to the Darkness, as the Black Hunger took hold. With the first bite, she was privy to Valentinov’s memories, and where the corpses of his victims were hidden.

Found staggering through the Nines by a routine patrol, she was the only survivor of the Rookery Raptor – and the press ate it up. Once she was cleared, she led Luna PD to every one of the graves of the Raptor’s victims with her “unique” psychological insights. Fast-tracked through the ranks, she quickly found her place in Homicide.

She has fallen under the sway of the Dark Apostle Algeroth, although she is unaware of it. The Black Hunger, her cannibalism, is quickly leading her down the path to damnation.  She has rationalised her behaviour by the ability to catch killers, often leading to a convenient fatality outcome. By consuming the flesh of the victims she gains insights into the identity of the killers. However, the growing urge to kill and feast on the flesh of killers is growing…

She often uses her Dark Gifts to conceal her kills, and her abilities mean she gains some insight into how an individual died. She is very careful to herself concealed from the Brotherhood and does everything by the book.

Avena is a statuesque 6′ 2” black woman, with dark-blonde hair (which she keeps close-cropped and short) and has striking blue eyes. She dresses like most of the Luna PD in functional clothing – although it is of the highest quality, owing to corporate sponsorship. She also fronts some CEN ads for beauty creams, appearing as a women of twenty-something years old. She is older than that, but no one has looked at her personnel file to affirm this. Her “diet” allows her to appear far younger than she is.

Avena can easily become part of the Investigators’ world. They may know her from the CEN broadcasts, or she takes a personal interest in their investigations. She is the ideal a rookie Luna PD looks up to. She may even be a mentor to one of them.

Avena works closely with Manny Leibovitz (see below) who knows her appetites and sees her as one of his best “customers”.

Attributes
StrengthPhysiqueAgilityAwareness
1091012
CoordinationIntelligenceMental StrengthPersonality
9888
Fields of Expertise
CombatFortitudeMovementSensesSocialTechnical
EXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOC
422221533122

Soak: Ballistic Nylon Trenchcoat, Heavy Civilian Shoulder Pads: (Head 0, Torso 1, Left Arm 2, Right Arm 2, Legs 1)

Wounds:

  • Head 3
  • Torso 8
  • Arms 4
  • Legs 6
  • Serious 6
  • Critical 4
  • Mental 8

Attacks:

  • Piranha Handgun (ranged): Range C, 4+[DS]3, Semi-Automatic, 1H, Close Quarters, Hidden 1
  • Dagger (melee): 3+[DS]4, 1H, Armour Piercing 1, Hidden 1

Special Abilities

  • Personal Dark Symmetry (4)
  • A pound of flesh: By consuming a pound or more of a corpse’s flesh as a standard action, Avena can learn who the corpse was and sees the last moments of the corpse’s life.
  • Black Hunger: After suffering a Repercussion in combat, Avena enters a berserk, cannibalistic fury, gaining the Braindead special ability. In this state, she gains one bonus Momentum on all Close Combat and Unarmed Combat skill tests, but all attacks against her gain one bonus Momentum as well. When in this berserk state, she must devour her foes as well. After killing a creature, Avena may stop to feed. She can feed for up to three turns, regaining [DS]3 wounds at the end of each turn. Under normal circumstances, this is voluntary, but if she has succumbed to the Hunger, she must feed as often as possible, for as long as possible, and it will only stop feeding if she is attacked – at which point, she will attack the creature that interrupted her feeding.

Dark Symmetry Spend

  • Dark Gifts: Avena can use the following Dark Gifts as a Heretic of Algeroth: Call Karnofage, Dark Curse, Dark Ward Painless, Summon Malignant, Swift Portal, Swift Shadows of Unrest.
  • Call Karnofage (Dark Soul): By spending two Dark Symmetry points, the Heretic summons a Karnofage, calling one lurking in the vicinity. The Karnofage appears within Close range of the Heretic, and may not act during the turn it is summoned. Multiple Karnofages may be summoned, increasing the Dark Symmetry point cost by two for each additional Malignant summoned. The Karnofages remain for as long as the Heretic concentrates on this Gift – as soon as he stops concentrating, the karnofages vanish, scuttling into shadows. See Dark Soul for more info on Karnofages.
  • Summon Malignant of Algeroth: By spending two Dark Symmetry points, the Heretic summons a Malignant, calling one lurking in the vicinity, or summoning one from one of Algeroth’s abyssal realms. The Malignant appears within Close range of the Heretic, and may not act during the turn it is summoned. Multiple Malignants may be summoned, increasing the Dark Symmetry point cost by two for each additional Malignant summoned. The Malignants remain for as long as the Heretic concentrates on this Gift – as soon as he stops concentrating, the Malignants vanish, scuttling into shadows or vanishing in a sulphurous cloud. See Dark Soul for more info on Malignants of Algeroth.
  • Swift Shadows of Unrest: This is one of the few Gifts in Algeroth’s pattern that is not directly martial in nature. It was given by Muawijhe, as a way of spreading discord, though Algeroth’s followers more commonly use it as a distraction before a battle. By spending one Dark Symmetry point. The Heretic produces a cacophony of screeching and terrifying murmurs, followed by a maelstrom of vaguely humanoid shadows. They can be directed to assail any the Heretic wishes to impair, so long as he is able to see them. The shadows are terrifying figments, appearing to claw at their victims, yet while their touch is chilling and uncomfortable, it inflicts no harm. While this Gift remains in effect, the Heretic can spend a Free Action to direct the shadows to assail a living, intelligent creature within Medium range. That creature must attempt a Willpower test with a difficulty equal to this Gift’s difficulty or suffer a mental assault.

Manny Leibovitz [Trooper]

Manny is a familiar sight to many of Luna PD, as he works for the Coroner’s office. He also maintains the nearby crematorium, where the bodies of homicide victims are disposed of after autopsy.

A cheery individual despite his vocation, Manny has a sunny disposition. Slightly overweight, he dresses smartly no matter the circumstances. He wears thick glasses, and is near-blind without them. He is a stickler for paperwork and procedure, almost to a fault, as many rookie PD officers find out.

Manny’s cheerfulness hides his dark and ghoulish side-line. He sells access to bodies. He doesn’t care what happens to a corpse as long as he gets paid. Over the years he’s been paid to alter autopsy records, lose forensic evidence, provide body parts to heretics, and cremate bodies without death a certificate. Some Luna PD Detectives have used him to frame would-be killers. Heretics may also use his services to dispose of their victims. There are also those like Avena Reznik whose appetites run to more sophisticated or depraved levels.

Manny is the kind of character the Investigators could encounter a lot in their investigations. He is the clean-up crew after the shoot-out, the pathologist on the scene. Discovering Manny’s secret will come as a shock to the Investigators.

Attributes
StrengthPhysiqueAgilityAwareness
8788
CoordinationIntelligenceMental StrengthPersonality
71088
Fields of Expertise
CombatFortitudeMovementSensesSocialTechnical
EXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOCEXPFOC
13111312121

Wounds: 5

Soak: None

Attacks:

  • Scalpel (melee): 1+[DS]3,1H, Armour Piercing 1

Special Abilities

  • First Responder: Manny is knowledgeable about human anatomy, and may re-roll a single d20 when making a Treatment or Medicine test, but must accept the new result.

Taking a breather!

It’s almost the end of summer here in Edinburgh. The leaves are already coming off the trees, and the Festival is finally ending. After a rotten personal start to the year, things have – by and large – sorted themselves out.

I’ve found it necessary to de-clutter, and got rid of some of my gaming collection earlier in the year. Thankfully, to people who will use them I hope. In a strange twist of fate this led indirectly to me being interviewed for a piece on RPG collecting, which I hope to see soon online.

ORC Edinburgh goes from strength-to-strength, although I find little time to organise things as much as I did. I’ve now lost count of the number of GMs running games. I am sticking to running both the Mutant Chronicles and Achtung! Cthulhu games. I’ve also set up some of the members as Moderators. Games Day was a great success with around 30 gamers turning up to play. We hope to repeat it again at some point but it’s not something I want to organise alone.

I went down to the Games Expo again this year. had a lot of fun working on the Modiphius stand, although I didn’t get to demo any Achtung! Cthulhu. It was far more focused on board games this year, with only a few RPG companies in attendance. I did get the chance to snag a slipcase of 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu there. I could have got it signed but it completely slipped my mind. AUGH!

I’ve pretty much gone off board and wargames for the time being. I don’t have enough space in the flat to store them, or to paint and assemble minis. I’m working longer hours and the freelance work I do eats up a lot of my time (but I love doing it).

I’m largely resigned to the fact that my days of being able to play games during the week are now over. Work has become pretty challenging, so I’m never really bored. Getting my work/life balance sorted has been a bit of a tightrope this year.

Mutant & Heretics
Mutant & Heretics

One of the high points of my year so far is getting my name on this little beauty of a book. Listed as a proof reader on most of the range and have also been logging the errors, writing the captions, doing the stats, and compiling the indexes.

Coming up

I’m working on the final book in the Mutant Chronicles Kickstarter, the “Dark Eden” campaign, which I hope to complete this week (or at least the bit I’m working on!).

I also plan to write up some sample Heretics and the adventure, “A Life in the Day” for the Mutant Chronicles.

Both Achtung! Cthulhu and Mutant Chronicles games will resume (I took some time off from MC). I’m hoping to begin converting Shadows of Atlantis to 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu soon.

I’m hoping to be at Dragonmeet this year too. Better get organised!

A Silent Spring!

It’s been pretty quiet here recently. There’s a number of reasons for this, and I’ll come to them shortly: it’s a mixture of good and bad news. Simply put: I’d had a lot of plans but some are going to have to take a back seat. I’ll be attending the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet conventions this year, but no other conventions.

Again it’s down to time – and sanity. I’ve pushed myself to the limit over the last six months, for a number of reasons, most of them personal. They’ve no place here, but suffice to say, I’ve had to compartmentalize things and take some steps.

The following is somewhat bullet-pointed, but it helps me get things ordered in my head.

So, gaming-wise…

I’m running two fortnightly campaigns at ORC now: Achtung! Cthulhu’s Shadows of Atlantis, and the Mutant Chronicles Dark Symmetry campaign (the latter of which I helped write in a tiny fashion). I’m enjoying running both. I’ve good players, decent attendance; and as they’re already published, easy to prep for.

I’m doing freelance work for Modiphius Publishing on the Mutant Chronicles line – the indexes and occasional demented captions in most of the supplements are mine (as well as some of the proofing!). I’ve also been helping stat up the Dark Eden Supplement. I’m hoping to pick up more freelance work in the months ahead. I’m finding it very rewarding, as well as giving me a creative challenge.

I didn’t make it to Conpulsion this year, sadly – nor will I make Q-CON owing to a prior commitment. I hope to, next year; if time and finances permit. I will be at the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet, of course! Looking forward to doing a bit more networking this year at them, plus I enjoy meeting other gamers. Not signed up to run anything this time, so I might get to actually play some games this time around.

My Edinburgh Gaming page still proves incredibly popular, so I’ve been keeping that updated! On the down side, I’d hoped to try to get the disparate gaming communities to talk to each other more, but I just haven’t had the time. I try to do it when I can though, but I step back from the politics now: it’s still very entrenched in old rifts and personal vendettas.

Over the years, I’ve been asked to review products or publicise Kickstarters and game launches. I’m of two minds about these. Often, it’s someone looking for free publicity or product evangelist for products that aren’t even ready. Also, getting time to do a playtest or demo review session can be tricky. On the other hand, it’s pretty good fun to do.

ORC’s Games day at the Kilderkin was a big success. There’s stuff we could do differently, and more effectively, and I/we’ve learnt from it. Not sure when we’ll do the next one, but next year I think! We had a lot of new visitors. The Kilderkin has also hosted the Conpulsion’s after-party and the Board Gamers took over the pub at one point. I like to think that I may have had something to do with that.

I ran a fun game of Conan (mid-Kickstarter) at Tabletop cafe , just up the road from the Kilderkin. I hope to run more demo games there soon, when time permits. Good food and drink, friendly staff, and a great atmosphere. I need to visit there more. As part of the Kickstarter, I’m going to be drawn in as a stat’ed NPC in Conan: Adventures in the Hyborian Age. I’ll also be appearing in art and as an NPC in the Infinity RPG.

The novel has been assigned as a secondary aim, along with any short fiction. I know I’m technically capable of writing them; just not temporally! It’s one of those things that I may revisit in future months, but for now, it’s on the back-burner.

I’m part of the Modiphius Silvershield scheme that allows GMs to get credit from running games – in my case, I ran a lot of games last year, so have built up some considerable credit. I also get points for referring new business. You can get 10% off Modiphius products in their store (both PDF and print) by using this link r.sloyalty.com/r/uc3wlqcchb8R

I’m taking my freelance work seriously enough to register with the Inland Revenue for Self-Assessment. Morally, and practically, it is the right thing to do. I’ve done it before, during my Nova Games era. There’s a chance I may or may not have to pay more tax; but I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough to get any tax rebate. I’m certainly not paying for an accountant to do it.

I’ve managed to ask some members of ORC Edinburgh (the gaming community I help run) to take on Moderator roles for the site, so I can start taking a step back from that side of things. It’s an easy transition to make, thankfully. I’ve lost count of the different groups now, or what games are currently running and/or looking for players. ORC is now so big, it’s become difficult to keep track of things, in that respect.

I’m not doing any war gaming or board gaming now, I’m afraid. I don’t have the time during the week, and need to maintain a “normal” life as it were. Plus, I seem to have trouble dealing with some of the more complex ones – I think it might be a side effect.

I’d hoped to get a chance to play some starter games of Cassus Belli’s Infinity game (the miniatures are absolutely amazing), and Battletech. I’d been thinking of trying to develop some of the Cthulhutech setting into the Battletech rules for some time now. I’ll get around to it at some point, I reckon.

I’m still awaiting the RAFM Cthulhu minis from their Kickstarter, and the Cthulhu FATE book, Into the Shadows. I’ve got doubts I’ll ever see these, as it seems anything Cthulhu-related on Kickstarter is doomed to “eternal lie”… but at least the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu shipped (which I should get from my FLGS)!

I’ve tried to do a lot over the last six months and it has caught up with me spectacularly, so I think it’s for the best that I “clear my head” of the extraneous clutter.

In other news…

I’m reducing my time on social media. It can easily consume a huge amount of free time or attention. I’m on Google+ and LinkedIn, but hardly use them. I am still on Twitter and Facebook. It’s easier if you spend 15 minutes on there, rather than getting involved in the minutiae! In moderation… I should probably update my profile on LinkedIn anyway to reflect the changes in my professional circumstances (and the About Me part of the site)!

I’m moving out of the flat (briefly) for renovation work, which could take a week or more. Had another aqueous insurgence (water ingress) in January! I can’t say it’s not a stressful place to be in (in every sense of the word), but things are moving forward. Looking ahead to getting it over with: every stage completed is one step forward. Still, it’s a bit of an “embuggerance”. I’ve got to get quotes for removal and storage and have to make it clear to the loss adjuster I’m NOT going to be staying in the flat while they rip down the plaster-and-lathe ceiling.

My day job has recently thrown up a number of challenges. I do a lot of work with virtualised machines (VMware) and field sites. The Chief Executive at my work has personally congratulated me on the work I do supporting the science. I’m becoming far more comfortable with the High Performance Cluster running Scientific Linux at my work. I’ve also manage to remove Flash Player and Quicktime from our PC estate of 1500+ computers. By the way, if you haven’t removed these, you should! Flash in Chrome is “sandboxed”, but not in other browsers like IE or Firefox. Quicktime is longer supported or patched by Apple, and is now insecure.

I need to reorganise this website: make it more simple. There’s too many pages, and this site has evolved, content-wise. It’s gone far beyond what was a simple RPG setting site. In fact, it’s been largely sidelined in recent years, as I’ve become more focussed on Edinburgh’s gaming community, conventions, and freelancing. That’s pretty easy to sort, thankfully. Not sure if I’ll keep using this site theme, though.

I’m also heading down south for the May Bank holiday, to Craster Tower, a 5* accommodation. It’s owned by my other half’s family, so I thought I’d give it a plug! Plus I’ve never really been anywhere 5* 🙂 My girlfriend used to work as an Archaeologist on Ernest Shackleton’s base camps in the Antarctic so we’re heading to London for the Shackleton Centennial service at Westminster Abbey. I’ve been reading up on him, and her experiences there might be very handy when I run Beyond the Mountains of Madness or Assault on the Mountains of Madness (Achtung! Cthulhu).

All in all, feeling I’m in a better place than six months ago!

Great RPG clearout begins!

I’ve got a number of books in my collection that are either duplicates or are of no use to me, so I’ve decided to give them away. As with the Pathfinder give-away recently, I’d rather these went to a decent home, and someone made a donation to charity. Alternatively, trade me something. Some of these books are worth a bit, but ebay is a hassle.

They consist of:

  1. 1x set of Edge of Empire Star Wars Dice
  2. Star Wars saga edition rpg rulebook
  3. Lamentations of the Flame princess bk 1: Rules & Magic
  4. Marvel Heroic roleplaying basic game (Weis productions)
  5. 2 x The Secret Fire RPG (one of the game systems I’ve worked on)
  6. Boxed Battletech 3rd ed, including plastic minis
  7. WFRP Empire in Flames – pages loose
  8. 2nd ed AD&D Dungeonmaster Guide
  9. 2nd ed AD&D Monster manual
  10. 2x 2nd ed Player’s Handbook
  11. Mindjammer (Starblazer adventures)
  12. Werewolf 2nd ed Caerns: places of power
  13. Werewolf 2nd ed Monkeywrench: Pentex
  14. Werewolf 2nd ed Umbra: The Velvet shadow
  15. Werewolf 2nd ed Book of the Wyrm
  16. Werewolf 2nd ed Rage Across Russia
  17. Call of Cthulhu Mansions of Madness
  18. Call of Cthulhu The Stars are Right
  19. Worlds of Cthulhu
  20. Cthulhu Invictus
  21. Cthulhu Invictus companion
  22. Shadows of Esteren bk.1 : Universe
  23. Babylon 5 RPG (2nd Ed)
  24. Babylon 5: The Drakh
  25. Dark Conspiracy rulebook
  26. Dark Conspiracy: Nightsider
  27. Dark Conspiracy: Hellsgate
  28. Dark Conspiracy: Heart of Darkness
  29. Dark Conspiracy: New Orleans
  30. Dark Conspiracy: Ice Daemon
  31. Dark Conspiracy: Among the Dead
  32. Dark Conspiracy: PC Booster kit
  33. Dark Conspiracy: Empathic Sourcebook
  34. Dark Conspiracy: Darktek Sourcebook
  35. Dark Conspiracy: Dark Races

Obviously I’d prefer they went to people that will actually use them, and not sell them. I won’t pay for postage, so you’ll either need to send me the cash or collect them yourself!!