Friday, May 26, 2017

Gods of the Fall - End of the End

"I told you not to feed it after midnight!"

When does the Apocalypse end? No, I'm not just asking a silly sounding question (though I agree at first blush it seems a bit much), but really, at what point does the Apocalypse transition into the Post-Apocalypse? In the case of the world of Gods of the Fall it seems that transition was about 42 years in the past, but who decided as much and what is it that signaled that change?

The timeline in the back of the book says that Elanehtar's Fall marked the first year AF (After the Fall). The Fall of the world lasted a bit longer however. War and strife and death as mortals bereft of the gods who once walked among them spun out of control. For me the end of the apocalypse and the beginning of what comes next is seven years after the Fall when Nulumriel comes to power. Nulumriel began the process of stabilizing the Nightlands and the rest of the world began to follow, slowly. For all of her apparent evil (maybe I'll get into that in another column) she did help stabilize the region by proclaiming herself empress, and having the power to back that claim up.

What's my point here? Well, much like how the end of the world takes time so too will the end of the post-apocalyptic.

Case in point: along come the players and depending on how things proceed they may well put in the effort to kill Nulumriel while proclaiming themselves gods. Doing so is likely to be the capstone of a campaign. The final event that fulfills prophecy of the Return. But what about what comes next? As GM you can wrap up the story with simple narration, you could leave it open to the imagination, you could even allow the players to take it in rounds to describe how their gods save the world thereafter.

Narration on your part isn't a bad thing, and leaving things open can be appealing for parties with varied views, but I think that a collaborative narration in the round is probably the wisest choice for many groups. It will give the players a chance to say goodbye to their characters by putting them through their paces. The player a of god of death can describe how they restore the underworld. A player of a god of crafts may describe how they build a new kind of seraph to serve their pantheon. This kind of open ended storytelling will bring out a richer ending than any single player could describe, and allow everybody at the table to put a touch of their own into the setting.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #120 - Review: Kamandi Challenge #4

Kamandi Challenge #5 is out today, so here are my thoughts on issue #4 from last month. Spoilers henceforth.


Published By: DC Comics • 31 pages • $3.99 • full color • Art: Carlos D'anda • Words: James Tynion IV

What's In It?

Spoilers ahead folks last warning!

Where were we? ...oh, right, in the claws of a giant Kong sized cat!

Kamandi and Vila were in a bad place. Our plucky hero fought back as best he could against the giant cat, finally jumping down its throat... and waking inside it's control center! This was no giant mutant, but instead a cleverly disguised giant robot! While Kamandi managed to enter the robot unharmed Vila was less lucky and once again the protagonist had to come to the rescue.

Honestly I was a bit disappointed with this. Kamandi is the hero, I get that, but Vila as a character has been little more than a half century old damsel trope. The last issue Kamandi rescued her and freed her, and it was, relatively, OK because he clearly had the agency last issue. But now would have been a good opportunity to give Vila her own agency and instead ... not so much.

So instead Kamandi confronts the two cat-scientists, or are they cat scientists?, that control the robot. Long story short, he grabs Vila and climbs back out the mouth of the robot and into the cockpit of the jet the robot wears around its neck. Activating the jet Kamandi and Vila escape while also serving their captors a little comeuppance.

Kamandi blacks out and the plane crashes elsewhere, in a rocky desert by a massive wall. In short order Kamandi and the unconscious Vila (see what I mean about no agency?) are captured and revived by the Kanga Rat Murder Society. They are to become the next participants in a blood sport hunt somewhere in the ravaged post-apocalypse Australia...

OK, so let's break it down. The writing is pretty good aside from the whole issue with Vila being stereotypical rescue bait. The story of the two scientists and their giant robot was actually pretty good, and a great way out of the prior issue's cliffhanger without feeling like a dodge at all. The transition into the second half was less abrupt than in prior issues and the cliffhanger has me wanting issue #5 now, which is a good thing.

The art this issue is more to my liking, with a less cart kiddie cartoon style. I'm not objectively rating the art here (or in any of these) as I am no artist, but I know what I like and this is probably right behind Neal Adams' art in issue #2 for this series thus far.

Lastly we come to world building, because ultimately the setting is as much a character in this series as Kamandi or any other. We get, through the robot builders, a good bit of exposition and background about the Jaguar Sun Cult, and it quickly fills in that culture in a way I feel like we sadly did not get for the God Watchers last issue. We also get, through art and words a good amount of information about the Kanga Rat Murder Society. There's an interesting mention about the giant wall holding back something, and visually we get a strong sense that the Society has access to some very high levels of technology, which should hopefully prove very interesting next issue.

Rating: 85% - I dock 15% for a cliched lack of agency in the sole female character in an otherwise great issue.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Story Seed - Regret

Image Source:

My final goodbye. I couldn't say how I knew. Pain wasn't new to me. Nor was weariness. I'd been walking the Walk for so long I can hardly remember anything before I began it. But today was different, my old body was wearing thin. Pains that I usually dismissed or ignored, caused me to wince and stifle groans. And for the first time in many months I woke tired; weary to the bone and feeling that this was more than just a bad night's sleep.

Looked up to the early morning sky, the moon rode low in the west, a gibbous egg shape belted in green and ragged along one edge where the the treeline broke the otherwise smooth shape. The stars shone in a blanket of deep blue that faded as I turned eastward. The horizon was already taking on the golden light of pre-dawn. I wondered for the ten thousandth time how it was that decades of walking the Path had seemingly brought me no closer to the end, or even a return to the beginning.

For the first time I found myself thinking that the Wandering Walk might be a futile lie; a path to nowhere walked by those hoping to find meaning in what none were willing to admit was a meaningless journey to nowhere. Was that a pain in my heart or in my soul that stirred in my breast? I don't know which.

I took my time to pack my meager belongings. My pack was light, but with time even a light pack becomes a heavy load. When at last I was ready I shrugged into my pack and found it heavy; the straps cut into my shoulders and the load seemed to drag me down. I grunted, settling the pack until I felt it sat as comfortably as it could.

At last I could delay no longer. The first unimpeded rays of dawn light were already lancing across the landscape and casting long golden limned shadows. I set out at last, a twinge of pain etching every movement with acid. After an hour I reached for the cypher I had carried for so many years and pressed it to my skull just behind my ear. I felt the pain slide away. "Farewell my home," I said.

I never felt it when my body collapsed to the ground. I never felt my body's passing. I never again set foot along the Wandering Walk. The datasphere has been my home ever since, and I feel neither pain nor want. I have learned the truth of many things, but the saddest truth of them all is this: I was almost at the end.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Last Week Today - May 15 - 21, 2017

Story Seed - After the Apocalypse

Nuts & Bolts - RPG Blog Carnival - Supah Seekrit

Gods of the Fall - Gods of the [blank] - Part 6 - Gods of the Apocalypse


As a note to my regular readers. Starting next week I am going to be putting Story Seeds on hiatus. In the duration I'll be posting some Cypher System characters for a game I'm planning to run at Gen Con, and maybe online ...


I'm running games at Gen Con! Want to play with me? Look for Numenera: Awakening the Jade Colossus in the Gen Con event schedule, I'll be running it three times during the con:
  • Date: 2017-08-18 (Fri 3:00PM - 7:00PM)
  • Date: 2017-08-19 (Sat 11:00AM - 3:00PM)
  • Date: 2017-08-20 (Sun 12:00PM - 4:00PM)