Posts Tagged ‘Lost Days of Memories & Madness’

Well spring is firmly in the air and as the weather gets nicer, thoughts are turning to spending more time indoors playing games. I have a hard time just picking up and running a game as written – I much prefer to get under the bonnet and tinker with either the setting or the mechanics. So, these are the top 6 games I want to play, and the hacks I want to play with them.

1. Fiasco: Dick Head

Not so much a hack as a playset to vaguely recreate the stories of Philip K Dick, with all manner of weird and wonderful results on the situation tables and a tilt table to pull the curtain back for the second act. Why Fiasco? I dunno, there’s something about the way the situation generator that I think will produce great, weird, Dickesque stories.

2. Hot War: Ultraviolet/True Blood

I think Hot War might be the game I own with the most hackability. Its setup lends itself perfectly for tight-knit, character-driven conflicts and monsters. So what better way to represent one of my favourite settings, Ultraviolet, a show all about agents with mixed agendas hunting vampires, perhaps mashed liberally in with True Blood.

3. Empires of Alexander

Anyone who knows me will know I’m a big ancient history buff, especially when it comes to Alexander the Great. I reckon there’d be a lot of fun to be had playing Alexander’s various generals leading their own armies east alongside the Macedonian King, and for me there’s no better game when it comes to military campaigns – Duty & Honour/Beat to Quarters, collectively known as the Empire system. All it’d take would be a reskinning of skills and character creation bits and bobs and you’re ready to ride to the ends of the world!

4. Remember Tomorrow: Revelation Space

I’ve never got into cyberpunk beyond Ghost in the Shell, but love me some hard scifi, especially Alastair Reynolds and his oeuvre. I think the multi-protagonist, split narrative of his books would map brilliantly to Remember Tomorrow’s varied stories told from multiple perspectives. I’ve got a few tweaks to the situation tables to embed the setting in the game more, but RT does the job admirably out of the book.

5. Smallville: the Walking Dead

I’ve got a real yearning to run Smallville but no great desire to play in the published setting. Instead I want to use it to run a game reminiscent of the Walking Dead, as the relationship-focused nature of the game will capture the complicated character situations of the show. In actual fact I’m going to make the setting Unhallowed, but it’s similar enough, just swap zombies for demons.

6. Lost Days of Memories & Madness: Game of Thrones

This hack will almost certainly be the subject of a future post, but with the fantasy epic about go return for a second series I’ve got a hankering to run a high-stakes political game of intrigue, and would use my own Memories & Madness to pull it off. Instead of memories, you’d have subjects or power bases, and coins would become influence or power. Easy. I’ll dig into that one a bit more another time.

How about you? What are you jonesing to a) play and b) hack?

Here’s another of George’s stunning interiors for Lost Days of Memories & Madness to keep you busy whilst I talk about the mechanics at the centre of the game: memories, conflict and madness.

We talked about memories last time, so this time I’ll talk about how they fit in with the mechanics of the game when the dice hit the table. Remember in my last post I talked about bidding for memories, and how the amount bid for a memory was its value? Well, in a conflict, you get to roll a number of dice equal to the value of any related or relevant memories, so the more powerful a memory, the more potent it is when you draw upon it in a conflict.

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I thought I’d post up another of the stunning interiors for Lost Days of Memories & Madness by George Cotronis today and talk a little about another aspect of the game, this time the memories that make up the core of play. Once again it’s such a shame not to show the art off in colour, even though it’s in black and white in the book.

As I described last time, at the heart of elven culture are their memories, some of which are their own, some of which are stolen, traded or otherwise acquired from others. These memories make up the core of the game as well, defining your character and what he can do in a conflict in much the same way as a skill, trait or aspect might in other games. The difference is, memories are written on index cards and over the course of the game can be traded, stolen or lost, so not only do the elves change what they can and can’t do, they also change what they know and who they think they are.

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Yesterday I showed off the cover for Lost Days of Memories & Madness, my game of intrigue and insanity at the court of the elves. Today I thought I’d post up another piece of art and talk a little about the background for the game, as this piece forms the opener for Chapter 1: The Elves of the Eternal Court.

I’ve posted it up in full colour because I wanted to share George’s awesomeness, but the book is in black and white. You can see for yourself now – I’ve put the PDF up on RPGNow for sale.

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I got some copies of my latest game, Lost Days of Memories & Madness, to sell at Dragonmeet at the weekend and realised I’d barely posted about it here! So, with the game going on sale in the next week, I aim to put that straight!

First up, here is a look at the awesome cover – the picture is by George Cotronis, whilst the design is Paul Bourne, and combined they make for a very striking piece of art.

The interior art is all in the same vivid style, and Paul has used each of the pieces as chapter heads. I’ll post them up over the course of the week too.

Belatedly (I think I might have the dubious honour of being last) I’ve submitted my games for the excellent Sheffield rpg convention, Furnace, which is about 5 weeks away now. It’s all booked up already (and has been for months), so I’m afraid you can’t go even if you want to, but I thought I’d post the games all the same as they’re an insight into the goings on of my gaming world right now. So here they are, with added commentary.

Saturday morning – Lost Days of Memories & Madness

The immortal elves of the Eternal Court are masters of the world, enslaving the lesser races so that their most precious possessesions – their memories – can be harvested for the pleasure of the decadent elven lords. The greatest fear amongst the immortal elves is madness; the greatest taboo is the mention that the stolen memories of others is the path to insanity. When your civilisation is at its peak, the only way is down…

A GMless story game of intrigue and insanity at the end of the world, for 4 players.

Andrew says: you know the drill with this one – it’s a GMless (kinda) game about outscheming all the other players, stealing all their memories and being the last survivor when the world falls apart. All kinds of fun so long as players go for the throat.

Sunday morning – Dead of Night: Salford’s Lot

Salford’s Shadowgate Estate on a friday night, 4 of your best mates, 2 litres of cheap cider and a grimoire full of spells. But tonight there’s trouble brewing – magic that you didn’t call up, monsters that you can’t put down and a real, bonafide witch hunter new in town and with something to prove. Magic – it’ll get you killed. Or worse, grounded.

A horror game in the vein of the Craft, Salem’s Lot and the Covenant, for 5 players.

Andrew says: I’ve wanted to do a Dead of Night scenario with all the players as witches and warlocks for a while now, but as is often the case (and Scott Dorward is like this too, I gather) it’s not until I get a pun-filled name that the brain cells really start rubbing together. Should be fun, in any case, although sunday morning isn’t my preferred horror slot.

Sunday afternoon – Exiles (playtest)

Earth is a distant glimmer in a sea of a thousand stars, and all you’ve got on this alien shore is the close-knit crew you call family and barely enough supplies to last the month. In the face of adversity, can you survive – and more importantly, can your friendships?

A playtest of a game of family in crisis amongst the stars, in the vein of Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Universe et al, for 4 players.

This one’s new, and highly subject to change, but I’ve had a yearning to write a game that emulates all those close-knit family-esque sci-fi settings for a while now but – as is often the case – the particulars only unfolded on a recent long drive back from holiday. I’ll post the game itself up later this week.

Setting is characters, the rest is just color. Figure out how to express what you want from the period through the people.

- Rob Donoghue

That’s what Rob Donoghue posted over on twitter a while back in a discussion about historical settings and I’m kinda conflicted about it. I was trained as a historian, so I can see both sides – I appreciate how historical characters, traditionally kings but in recent times more common folk, are great at providing a lens through which we can examine an era. Conversely, I dig the historical events and setting themselves – the battles, as it were, or the colour as Rob puts it. To me, they’re more than just flavour, they are the setting.

Yet it’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of a setting, providing the readers with tons of needless details in the hope that you’ll bring the setting alive, but in reality running the risk of burying any sense of flavour or interest they might have had.But of course it’s possible to go too far the other way, instead of providing a setting overview just providing a series of character descriptions and hoping readers can infer what they need to for the biographies. I think the right mix will vary from game to game – to me games like Polaris and Hot War get it right, providing enough setting to spark my own imagination, and enough characters to give me an idea what to do with that setting.

Looking at the game I’m currently working on, Lost Days of Memories & Madness, I can see room for both styles. Consider these two takes on the same piece of background, about what happened to all the dragons. First up, battle style:

Here be Dragons

The once-noble creatures known as dragons were perhaps the first victims of elven conquest, for these great reptiles were no less arrogant and independent than the elves themselves and neither race would bow to the other. As mighty as the dragons were individually, they were few number and overpowered by the armies of the elves. Those rare creatures that still live are as shadows of their former selves, broken and bound by elven magic to serve as steed or pet, their memories of past glories long since stolen by the elves. But it is whispered that, somewhere in the hidden corners of the world, true dragons still live. For the memories of such a beast – full of simmering rage long harboured – to be harvested would be a treasure highly prized indeed.

And now from a ‘king’ perspective:

Kesar, the Last Dragon

The once-noble creatures known as dragons were perhaps the first victims of elven conquest, for these great reptiles were no less arrogant and independent than the elves themselves and neither race would bow to the other. Kesar is the last of his kind, saved from a life of slavery by the draconic magic that changed him from dragon to elf, allowing him to bide his time and plot his revenge from within the Eternal Court. That the elven memories that crowd his mind alongside his own threaten to drive him to madness is of no concern to Kesar – his thirst for revenge drove him insane long ago.

Now, both pieces have their own advantages and disadvantages. For me, I think the former just edges it, giving me a glimpse at the world and allowing me to fill in the blanks myself. The second piece offers me the same glimpse, but I find a little too focused, a little too ‘zoomed-in.’ In focusing the lens through the eyes of a single character, there’s the danger of it just saying something about that character, not the setting he inhabits.

Which do you prefer? Are you more a fan of ‘kings’ or ‘battles’ when it comes to background? And what settings have got that balance just right?

The game I’m hoping to publish next is Lost Days of Memories & Madness, which was my Game Chef entry back in 2007 (the same contest that Paul Tevis’ A Penny for My Thoughts came out of) that turned out to be rather fun in play. Rather unusually for me, I’ve not gone about commissioning art and then writing the game, but have written the game and am now commissioning art.

I’ve admired the art of George Cotronis for a while now, even since he did the cover for Don’t Lose Your Mind, in fact. There was something sinister, otherworldly and faintly insane lurking beneath the surface of his art that was unique, and a perfect fit for Memories & Madness.

Anyway, here’s the rambling art brief I sent him on Monday – hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the ensuing illustrations soon.

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