Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Graphic Novel Challenge: Belladonna

I loved Pierre Alary's comic Sinbad, so Belladonna was a logical choice and I wasn't disappointed. It's a swashbuckling adventure story set in France in 1680. Marie, codename Belladonna, is part of a secret society protecting the king from all harm. But her past is going to come back to haunt her.

The art is gorgeous. I adore the composition here for example:
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and the way the story is driven forwards without a single word (okay, one) here:
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I had one problem, though, and that was with Maxim, leader of the Musketeers and would-be lover of Marie. He is very much the damsel in distress and Marie has to rescue him not once, but several times. The one time she doesn't, Maxim goes into full "I was betrayed"-mode without stopping to think that she might have had her reasons. I get it, he's her weak point, but there's no need to rub it in like that. Also, Marie is a strong character and there's no need to make other characters weaker to get that across.

But that didn't stop me from enjoying the series very much. And now I'm waiting for the next installment. The first three books are a complete story, but there are things left unanswered (some pretty big things, actually) and I really want to know what happens next.

Books 7-9 for the Graphic Novel Challenge
Books 11-13 for the Library Challenge
Reviews 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bittersweet Life

A disciple asked his master, "Do the leaves flow or is it the wind?" His master replied, "No, it is the heart and the mind."

The Bittersweet Life is a Korean action movie, although that label doesn't really fit right. The movie starts and ends with a Buddhist parable and that should tell you something about it. The story unfolds slowly and it's almost a meditation on honour, loyalty and morale. But one with gunfights, martial arts and lots of violence. The choreography of the fight scenes is brilliant, not polished Matrix-style, but a total chaos that probably needed a lot of rehearsing. The music is gorgeous, too, and adds a lot to the movie's melancholic mood.

You can do a hundred things right, but it takes only one mistake to destroy everything. - this quote by the main character's boss perfectly sums up the story.

Here's a scene that nicely shows how the movie switches from slow scenes to violence:



I love how he throws the car keys away... There's quite a lot of humour in The Bittersweet Life, but it's very, very dark. For me, it does everything just right and it's one of my favourite movies ever.


One late autumn night, the disciple awoke crying. So the master asked the disciple, "Did you have a nightmare?" "No." "Did you have a sad dream?" "No," said the disciple. "I had a sweet dream." "Then why are you crying so sadly?" The disciple wiped his tears away and quietly answered, "Because the dream I had can't come true."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rollins on Steubenville

What made these young people think that that what they did was ok? What was in their upbringing, the information and morals instilled in them that allowed them to do what they did, minute after minute, laughing, joking, documenting it and then calling it a night and going home? Out of all the people who were witness to what happened, why wasn’t there someone putting a stop to it?

Henry Rollins on the Steubenville rape case - the most level-headed, well thought-out comment I have read about this truly disgusting affair.
I am once again reminded why this man is one of my heroes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Artworks I'd Steal: Duchess of Alba

300px-Goya_alba2
source

The Duchess of Alba may or may not have been the model for Goya's famous Majas. Fact is that Goya has painted and sketched her many times and I like this version best of all. I think it conveys the charisma this unusual woman is said to have possessed.

She had been raised by her grandfather after her father died and he didn't try to shape her into the decorous creature women were supposed to be. Even after her marriage to the Duke of Alba didn't do much to change her free lifestyle, it only added considerable wealth.

There's a good chance that the Duchess and Goya had a relationship, at the very least they were close friends. In the painting, she points to the phrase "solo Goya" (Goya alone) written in the sand and her rings bear both her and his name. The rings were not that unusual and Goya did that in other paintings of other women, but the writing in the sand was painted over by him soon after he finished the painting. Whatever the truth, they are both fascinating people.

Oh, and I'll never complain about coming up with Castillian names in 7th Sea again. Take a look at the Duchess's full name on Wikipedia...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Neverwhere

“Richard wrote a mental diary in his head.
Dear Diary, he began. On Friday I had a job, a fiancé, a home, and a life that made sense. (Well, as much as an life makes sense). Then I found an injured girl bleeding on the pavement and I tried to be Good Samaritan. Now I've got no fiancé, no home, no job, and I'm walking around a couple of hundred feet under the streets of London with the projected life expectancy of a suicidal fruit fly.”


My favourite Neil Gaiman TV series/book "Neverwhere" has been turned into a six-part audio drama. The first two parts are now up on BBC radio and the brilliant thing is that you can listen to it where-ever you are, not just in the UK. In case you didn't know: there's also a free Neverwhere RPG. I've been meaning to play it for ages now.

If you need reasons to listen beyond it being Neverwhere and Neil Gaiman, let me give you some: James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Harewood, Natalie Dormer, Anthony Head, Bernard Cribbins and Christopher Lee (which made even Neil Gaiman geek out a bit).

Welcome to London Below.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cthulhu Gaslight: One Last Adventure

During their last evening at Florence House, Cat takes the chance to ask Dai about the things he wrote in his journal and about his past and, a bit to his own suprise, Dai freely talks about it all. He's not too fond of being reminded of his childhood, but Cat has always been able to get the answers she wants from him.
Cat tells him that, if things go on like this between them, he will have to talk to her father. Dai answers that he intends to, but that he'd rather hear her opinion first. He asks Cat to marry him and she agrees.

On their way to London in the morning, Dai asks about the family laywer of the Kincaids - he wants to make sure that Cat will continue to own Florence House and the rest of her possessions even when they are married. After all, he values Cat's independence almost as much as she does and he has no intentions of taking it away. They go their separate ways once they arrive in London each returning to their home. Dai finds a letter by Colonel Douglas Rankin, a friend of his from his army days who now is in charge of a regiment here in London. At least he was, the last time they met at the regiment's ball (here Dai introduced Rankin and his wife to Cat as well). Rankin asks for Dai's help, he's in trouble and he has been demoted to a administrative job. If Cat wants to come along, that would be find with Rankin...he knows at least a little bit about the detective work Cat and Dai do.

click for one last adventure


So, his things still unpacked, Dai once again leaves his flat and goes to see Cat to ask her if she wants to come along to Rankin. Of course she does. It's obvious from the first moment that things are not going too well between Rankin and his wife, usually a couple that gets along very well. Rakin beats around the bush for a while but then he tells them that he has for some reason or other made the Chief of the Imperial General Staff into his enemy and that the man would use any excuse to give Rankin a dishonourable discharge. And that excuse may just have come along now, with two soldiers dead under Rankin's command and no good explanation for it.

The three take a cab out to the barracks. Here, the army stores artefacts that were brought into the country from all over the world until they can be evaluated. This is the job of Lieutenant Acre, another acquaintance of Cat and Dai. But not one they much like. He tried to flirt with Cat at the regiment's ball and reacted badly when she remained disinterested.

On the way to the barracks, it becomes clear that Rankin is barely holding it all together, he is ignorant of even the most basic things going on under his command. When they arrive, Dai pulls him aside and gives him a royal dressing-down that Cat has to work hard to ignore. Once that is out of the way, they take a look at the bodies of the soldiers: the men look as if something pushed open their chests from the inside. There is little left of their internal organs and their eyes are missing. Dai discovers some oily substance on the bodies and takes a sample,

The soldiers were to guard a storeroom and they were found inside, so that's where the group is headed next. Astonishingly, there is no blood to be found on the floor. But a small chest seems to have been moved lately and a closer look reveals that someone jimmied the lock. Rankin cannot say where the chest came from and it cannot be found in the inventory. It has strange writing all around its edge that Cat copies - before they open the chest, she wants to know what those signs say. They decide to hide the chest in another box and put it somewhere else on the shelves among the clutter. And then they let the guards carry away another box to a room where it will be guarded day and night, to see who takes an interest. Since it's already late, they agree to meet again the next day.

In the morning, Cat and Dai have breakfast at their usual place, the Mason and Standers opposite the British Museum. Cat still hasn't been to the office (she got a telegram from there mentioning her brother...the one she doesn't have) and she asks Dai if he wants to accompany her. But first, they visit the museum to see if anyone can translate the writing on the chest. They meet Mr Fisher, who can be convinced with the help of a small bribe, to remember that he knows someone. They make an appointment for the afternoon and then go to the office of the newspaper Cat writes for.

And there they are met with the horror that is a surprise birthday party. Unfortunately, it's one day early, to the embarrassment of the editor who arranged it all and who brought up the story of Cat's brother to make sure she came. While they talk, Cat sees a headline about a body found in the East End, with the same 'symptoms' as the soldiers. For now, authorities are saying it's a disease, although an unknown one. So they make another stop before their appointment at the museum: Guy's Hospital. Doctor Francis Stern, the pathologist, meets them and frankly states that he has no idea how the man died. But it's interesting, very interesting. The doctor is more than a bit weird, to be frank he seems not quite sane and Cat and Dai are glad to leave him to his work. Before they do, they see something moving under the doctor's skin and a black shape moving in the white of his eyes.

At the museum, they are met by Mister Hurley of the Leopold's Society. Cat and Dai have come into contact with the society a few times before and they have not gone unnoticed. Hurley tells them that if they value their lives, they will leave London now. There will be a plague of a horrendous scale - Aboth's children have been freed and will consume countless human victims to return to their home. London will fall. There is a way to stop it, but not even the Leopold's Society is mad enough to try it. Also, cities and empires fall, it's the way of the world. The society knows that and accepts it. However, they would be willing to tell Cat and Dai everything they need to know if they are willing to try their luck stopping what is happening. Not that they have any chance of succeeding.
While they talk, a young student working near them begins to cough and they see a shape moving under his skin as well.

Neither Cat nor Dai could live with themselves if they just left now to save their own lives. So they asks Hurley to show them how to stop the catastrophe. It involves a spell that needs to be sung and a stone that needs to be thrown. At what, they will see when the time has come. For their protection, Mr Hurley shows them how to draw a circle on the ground that will keep things at bay. For a time. He leaves then and his coach takes Cat and Dai to the barracks. They hold hands the whole time - they both know that they will probably die before the day is over. Dai asks if Cat could be convinced to stay behind and let him do this alone. He is not surprised when she has nothing but scorn for the idea. Doing this with her makes things both harder and easier for him and he holds her, maybe for the last time, until they arrive at the barracks.

Almost against their better judgement they talk with Lieutenant Acre. The man denies knowing anything about what is happening, but he is clearly lying. They know they won't get anything further from him and so they leave, but Cat tells him that things will stop here and now. Acre only laughs and says that if she had been a bit more friendly, all this may never have happened. A comment that makes Dai wish that the lieutenant had actually been stupid enough to challenge him to a duel after the regiment's ball. They return to the storage room and a bit of exploration reveals a trapdoor that leads down into the tunnels beneath London. With a map and some equipment they gathered at the barracks, Cat and Dai start their search. The further they go, the more of the oily substance they see and down here, it moves, flowing together into puddles, forming tentacles and once even attacking them. But they can escape and continue their search. They hear footsteps, but with the echoes, there's no way of telling where they are coming from. Both draw their pistols, just in case.

After some time, they reach a huge cavern filled with the black oil and it immediately starts moving towards them. A basin in the floor is filled with it. Before they can do anything, they hear someone cock a gun behind them. Dai turns and shoots, almost blindly, without stopping to see what or who has followed them. Lieutenant Acre collapses with a bullet to the head. They start drawing the protective circle and finish just in time, the oil reaches them when they close the circle and immediately the chalk is being scraped at by the tentacles. The oil in the basin has started to writhe, shaping itself into a huge tentacled mass. After they chanted the spell, Dai throws the stone and in the same movement, he pulls Cat to the ground, protecting her with his body, although he knows fully well that it's of no use should the stone miss.

Unseen by both of them, the stone hits the monstrous shape in the basin and a silent explosion washes over them, for an eternity that lasts all of a couple of seconds. Once it's over, they look up to see that the oil has turned into grey stone. They return to the surface through the first manhole they find and see that many people on the street are coughing up some strange residue, while others are dead. The infection had already spread far and they couldn't save everyone. But without them, many more would have died. Mr Hurley gathers them up in his coach and congratulates them. Dai is not very talk-active, he thinks that the Leopold's Society have taken the easy way out. But he's not in the mood for a discussion. Cat asks for and gets a card that will allow them to enter the club of the Leopold's Society if they ever have need to.

It's late and, in unspoken agreement, they return to Dai's flat where they fall asleep in each other's arms. The day has taught them that reality is not as safe as it seems, that eventually, even the biggest empire will fall, the strongest foundations will crumble. It's not an easy lesson to learn. But they take comfort in the thought that whatever may come, they will face it together.
--------------------------

Cat and Dai started out as normal Cthulhu characters and neither of us expected to play them for long. But they not only stayed alive, but turned into such vivid characters that we played with such an intensity that we could not bear to let them die or go insane. So we said: let's have one more adventure and then we'll retire them.

When Hurley told them about Aboth's children and said that they will almost surely die, we, as players, hesitated for a long time. I think we took almost ten minutes to make our decision. We knew that the GM would not bat an eye at killing us if things went wrong. He always plays fair, but he doesn't do mercy. And yes, we could have just walked away. But that would have broken the characters and so we decided to see it all through to the end.

If Dai had missed when throwing the stone, they would have been dead. As it turned out, I rolled a 23 on a 25 chance and that saved them both. We won't be playing Cthulhu with them, but we will do some freeform roleplaying with them. They may not go in for supernatural adventures any longer, but neither of them is the type to lead a quiet life and they will travel. India will be their first goal and from there, we'll see.

This last session was one of the most intense I have ever played. After it was over, we had to take some time to talk it all over and when I got home, it was a while before I was able to sleep, even at 2am in the morning.

Doctor Francis Stern, by the way, is a recurring character in the adventures told by our GM. I think this is the third time I've met the good doctor and I have already killed him once. I would have gladly done so again. It's a great character - just from the way he talks you know right away that he wouldn't be able to see sanity with binoculars on a clear day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I Killed Adolf Hitler

I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason, on the one holds no surprises. A guy goes back in time and kills Adolf Hitler. Just what is says on the cover.
But the real story is about the killer and his girlfriend. I did not expect that and I found that story engaging and touching. I actually went "aaww..." out loud at the end of the book.

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(there's a minor spoiler in the next paragraph)
It took me a while to get used to Jason's style, but after a few pages I started to appreciate the clear lines and the way of telling the story with very little dialogue. There's a lot of bone-dry humour on both the dialogue and the art. I have this thing for Nazi satire and Hitler being saved by the Mein Kampf edition in his jacket was brilliant.

I'm going to check out more of Jason's work. His way of drawing characters has really grown on me, especially the long "silent" moments. I was absolutely not surprised that Jason considers Buster Keaton one of his influences.
IMG_5593_01

6th book for the Graphic Novel Challenge
8th book for the Library Challenge
Reviews 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Artist is Present



Start watching at the 2:00 mark. I saw this on Tumblr the other day and I can't get it out of my head.

Ulay and Marina Abramovic are performance artists and they had a long and intense relationship. When they broke up in 1988, they decided to each walk the Great Wall of China, starting at different ends and meeting in the middle. There, they said goodbye and agreed to never see each other again.
In 2010, Marina Abramovic performed a piece called The Artist is Present and shared a minute of silence with everyone who sat down in the chair opposite her. And this is the minute she shared with Ulay, without knowing that he would appear.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

7th Sea: Garden Party

Dear Isabel,

I remember that inn and I think we can arrange for an escort from there. I wish you hadn't told Alba - judging from her letter, she's too excited to get any sleep until you are finally leaving. Not that I feel much different.

The garden party in honour of the Jubilee of Queen Elaine was last night and gave us all a first taste of the parties at the Labyrinth. It was a lavish affair, lasting from midday until late into the night.

click for garden party

Logan got drafted into a competition in the honour of the Queen and fought in three trials against a Vendel who had, rather embarrassingly easy, defeated the Avalon champion last year. Looking at the man, I wasn't surprised. There's more than a bit of the Vesten in him. Nonetheless, we wagered some money on Logan's victory. He did win the tug of war, but lost the caber toss - no surprise there. The fistfight was again more suited to his talents and after a couple of bloody rounds, the Vendel forfeited the fight while he still could.

We were not the only people to bet on the competition and huge sums were won and lost. Not least by the Vodacce delegation who had actually betted trade rights with the Vendel. If I had to guess, I'd say that the Vendel lost a five-figure sum in that bet and they are not happy about it. It puts Logan in the Vodacce's good book and he intends to use that fact.

I spent a good deal of time with Raphael Nunez. I did wonder if the man only acted stupid, but no-one is that good an actor. And his master or rather mistress does not seem too happy with his ridiculous behaviour. Still, I cannot help but think that he is employed for a purpose. A conjuring trick maybe. Everyone looks at the idiot and no-one at the real spy. But if it is a trick, I have not discovered the truth so far.

However, I did deliver the information Javier gave me to Raphael and he was more than delighted to hear about them. I met Javier not much later and I have hopes that I will be introduced to his mistress, Donna de la Noche.

Ramon, as usual, attracted much attention from the young women present at the party and received an invitation in form of a dropped handkerchief from the daughter of the ambassador of the occupied part of Castille, Esmeralda Constanza de Montoya de Ochoa. The handkerchief contained a small stone with a sort of code engraved into it, a map to a certain room in the (occupied) Castille part of the Labyrinth. I do wonder what her motives are, she has to know that Ramon is loyal to Castille. And I have to admit, I do wonder about Ramon. He's going a bit far for a man with a fiancée, I think. But it is not my place to lecture him about it.

In any case, I spent the rest of the party in Logan's company, drinking and talking. We both mistrust the ambassador's daughter and Logan asked me to find out more about her. It seems that my talents to come in handy even for him at times. I just wish that I had not tried to keep up with Logan's drinking. And I wish that the others will sleep a bit longer so that I can suffer in silence. Please stop laughing at me - I know you do. You always did.

I think I will go back to bed. I will post this letter later, when I can stand the thought of going outside.

Love
Marcello

-----------------------------

So we are all playing our games at the Labyrinth, one way or the other. One thing I really like about this part of the campaign is that there is quite a lot of personal conflict between the characters. We are most definitely not one happy family. But we all know each other long enough to be able to solve those problems...I hope.

Marcello disapproves of Ramon's little adventure. Ramon is very much a ladies' man or at least he gets a lot of attention from women without even trying. But so far he never did much more than flirt a bit. Accepting the invitation of the ambassador's daughter - that's something else, as far as Marcello is concerned. He's not above a flirt if it serves his purpose himself, but for him, that's as far as he would go. And I'm not sure he will be able to keep his opinion to himself.

The campaign is now on Obsidian Portal, so you can look up characters and stuff there. Things may get confusing, at the latest when we arrive in Charouse.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Endland: Mines and Pilgrims

Here's what happened during the session and here's Nvidia's view of the whole thing.

I really liked how the Expedition worked out. I had it planned as something between a cult and an expedition like many others in Endland, just on a much bigger scale. The PCs were suitably impressed by the whole thing, but especially by the movie they saw. One of the players actually recognised Blade Runner from my description. At first I wanted the movie to be Metropolis, but Blade Runner has much longer scenes of its city. And it looks great even to us, who are used to all kinds of CGI, so imagine how it would look to someone who has never seen a movie.

Nvidia is freaking about about being pregnant. click unless you're one of my players

This is something that we didn't chose. Characters in Endland will eventually mutate, especially when they spend enough time in the desert or near Human ruins. Since Nvidia did just that for her whole life, I had her start the game with two mutations. One is obvious (her chest is much wider than it should be), but the other one was that she's sterile. I decided to make it into a story, so far it really pays off, with great roleplay and a couple of hooks for more stories.

Monday, March 11, 2013

GMing Links

Here's some stuff I came across that I found useful or interesting for running a game:

Solo Gaming by Tiny Solitary Soldier - how to play an adventure solo with 2d6 and not much else. Apart from solo gaming, I really like this for figuring out what NPCs do when the PCs are not around. For example, I have a NPC that got scammed badly by my PCs and I don't want to just decide what happens to him. So after five minutes with this, I have a little story that may give me some more story hooks as well.

Creating Meaningful Choices as a GM by DM Fiat - how to give your players a choice that actually means something for the outcome of the story. Love the example.

The Big List of RPG Plots - what is says on the box

Random Tables by Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque, not just for fantasy games. I like the Random Cabaret Generator in particular.

RoleplayingTips.com - again, exactly what it says on the box

Abdulafia Random Generators - anything from plots to places to names

Rory's Story Cubes by Black Vulmea - about using these nifty story dice as a storytelling help. I've used those cubes (just the standard set) to come up with adventure ideas and character concepts, they are a great help to get the imagination running.

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day: Isabella Bird

I recently came across Isabella Bird, a Victorian traveler and writer who defied the norms of her time and instead of marrying and settling down, she went out to see the world.

Isabella_Bird_Bishop_Manchurian
in a Manchurian gown

Since she wasn't very healthy, she was allowed to travel to the United States when she was 23 years old in 1854 in the hopes that this would improve her condition. It did and for the rest of her life, traveling always did. I cannot shake the suspicion that the stifling Victorian society made her ill - that being sick was her defense against the things expected of her. Bird almost never was sick when she traveled, only when she had to come back home.
Her travels seem adventurous even today and during her lifetime, she saw things very few Europeans had seen. She went to North America, Australia, Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Most of her travels were on horseback, like the 800 mile-journey across the Rocky Mountains.

Isabella Bird in Tibet
in Tibet

She did marry in 1880 and not surprisingly, it proved disastrous for her health. However, her husband died only six years later and once again, she traveled. 56 years old, she studied medicine and this time, she went to India. From there, she went to Tibet, Persia, Turkey, China again and North Africa. At the time of her death in 1904, she was busy planning another journey to China.

She was accepted as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and her books were bestsellers. You can download many of them for free from Gutenberg.org and they are still interesting to read - Bird is an author who writes an easily readable conversational tone and she tells vividly of her encounters with men and beasts in exotic countries that most of her readers would never see - and may never see even today.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Bad Reputation
University of Adelaide

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Endland: Adventures in Diplomacy

Here's the writeup of the latest session and here's a PC view-post on it.

The PCs were send to a small town a few days from Tavor because a copper mine had been re-opened there and the city council of Tavor wants to secure the trade rights - copper is extremely valuable.

Getting the two PCs together was fairly easy and I think they make a great team, even though they may get on each other's nerves. While one of them has experience as an adventurer, the grasslands north of Tavor were new to both of them. They were quite nervous about making camp for the night and very much creeped out by an encounter with a hedgehog-ish creature. If you have ever encountered a hedgehog at night, you know that they sound much, much bigger and fearsome than they actually are. From their snuffling and grunting you'd think there's a wild boar next to the tent.

The negotiations for the trade rights went quite well and both parties are quite content with the result. The treaty will be finalised in the morning, it had gotten late (both in-game and in real life). However, the PC never asked to see the actual mine. At first I thought, well, he's playing it cool. Then it dawned on me that the player just had not thought about it.

I was tempted not to say anything and just let them walk away with a pig in a poke. But I decided against it, it would have been a dick move. The character has enough common sense to remember eventually, especially since he has been told in particular to take a look at the mine. We decided that he will remember in the middle of the night and it will be awkward enough to bring the subject up when it looked like only the formalities were left the evening before.

In any case, we will keep playing with just two players. It works well and that particular combination of characters offers a lot of story hooks for me.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

RPG Blog Carnival: Epic GM Moments

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is hosted by Kobold enterprise and the theme is epig GM moments. When I think about epic GMing moments, a few come to mind.

The first one would be from my Shadowrun Rat's Nest game. The characters live in a squatter community at a waste dump and the GM put a LOT of work into the setting and prepared it for a long time. There are tons of NPCs to interact with (all with their own agenda and life) and the whole thing is very well thought out, very realistic. It's one of the best examples for a sandbox setting I know.

And then, one day, it all went to hell.. The Nest got raided by Knight Errant, we had to leave and when we tried to come back, another gang had taken over. There was a very real chance that we would not be able to re-take the Nest and we didn't get any help from the GM. He gave us the chance to really fuck things up and to basically destroy a huge part of the work he had done. That takes some guts and a lot of trust in the players. The whole episode remains one of my most epic roleplaying experiences ever.

As for epic fails, there was this one World of Darkness campaign where we played normal humans and the GM decided to do Evil under the Sun. It's a great book. However, to solve it, the players need to find one little, tiny detail and if they don't, it gets frustrating quickly. And we didn't. And we ran in circles for ages until someone finally remembered the detail. it may not be elegant, but a very broad hint or not having it all depend on one thing would have made this adventure a lot more fun.

The most epic storytelling happened at a con during a game of Call of Cthulhu. We played with four other groups in the room who played a lot less serious games and so the atmosphere was far from quiet and sombre. But once we had begun, none of us heard or saw anything else than the story that unfolded in our minds. I remember being genuinely frightened in a fairly well-lit room with at least twenty other people around. That particular GM has a real talent for creating total immersion in a game.

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