Sunday, July 28, 2013

[Atomic Robo] San Diego Comic-Con Wrap-Up

So San Diego Comic-Con was last weekend, and it was an exhausting bunch of fun again, just like every year. But unlike every other year, this year I ran a couple of ARRPG games there in the open gaming room. Which was kinda maddening at first, because it's a big room with a lot of tables and a volunteer organizer who REALLY ENJOYS SHOUTING BELLIGERENTLY ALL THE TIME AS HIS DEFAULT MODE OF COMMUNICATION (we all know a gamer like that, right?), but we all got used to it and had a good time.

Anyway, I wanted to share a few pictures from the Sunday morning game I ran for Thursday Knights. Because I took some.

Her rocket, her rules.
This is Kaylee. (Yes, like that Kaylee.) She's seven. She played Helen McAllister, aka Nightingale. Her dad played Donovan McAllister, aka Jack Tarot. For those unfamiliar with Atomic Robo canon, Helen is a headstrong, resourceful, and smart gearhead, and Jack Tarot is her masked-vigilante father. They fight crime! In the '30s!

So yeah, as soon as I put those two PCs on the table, these two players naturally snatched 'em up. They were a great pair, as you might expect a real-life father-and-daughter duo to be playing those PCs. At one point, Kaylee decided that Helen had a rocket she'd secretly been working on stashed in the local dump, and when Jack Tarot tried to sit in the pilot's seat, Kaylee (and maybe Helen) snapped, "My rocket, my rules!" So that instantly became an aspect, obviously.

Ronnie Knox
Our AV recording engineer for the game was Cailin Laabs, and she did a couple of amazing character portraits while we played. This one, of Lt. Ronald Knox of the New Jersey State Militia, is a copy of a Scott Wegener piece that I swiped for this PC (played by her husband Greg Laabs), but man, it's a dead-on copy, and she also did it in what seemed like no time.

Prestigious Princeton Professor
And here's Cailin's portrait of Professor Richard Pierson, which she drew based solely on the character as played by Dan. The picture I used was one of circa-1938 Orson Welles, for what I hope are obvious reasons. I love this portrait because it looks great, of course, but also because stylistically, it fits right in with Ronnie Knox up there.

Arguably a robot.
Robo's player Lance drew a portrait too, and as you can see it's... Lance seems like a nice guy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

[Atomic Robo] Action. Science. San Diego Comic-Con. UPDATED!


Hey, it's Comic-Con week! San Diego Comic-Con, to be precise. I know there are a lot of other comic-cons out there, but as everyone knows, this one's the biggest and the worst!

At Emerald City Comic-Con back in March, I got to see what a real, honest-to-goodness, comics-only comic convention looks like, without the Hollywood invasion that plagues San Diego these days, and y'know what? It was pretty great. (The fact that it's in Seattle, a city I like an awful lot, doesn't hurt.) But SDCC has one big advantage over ECCC: It doesn't require airfare and a hotel. It's local. So while I'll hold out hope of going back to ECCC ASAP, I'll continue to attend SDCC, BBQWTF.

Anyway, I'm running a couple sessions of ARRPG at SDCC this year, so I thought I'd tell you about 'em in a bit more detail than I did before.

The first will be Thursday at 2:00 pm. I'm not sure what this one will be. If I can get this Tesla's Seven scenario ironed out before then -- it seems pretty cool, but it requires game prep in the form of creating four new PCs -- I'll run that. It's 1893 at the Chicago World's Columbia Fair, and the assassination of Mayor Carter Harrison is only the tip of a conspiratorial iceberg that, as it turns out, is pretty science-oriented. The PCs are Nikola Tesla, expert escapist Harry Houdini, secret agent Winfield Scott Lovecraft, martial-arts master Wong Kei-Ying, and, of course, celebrity sharpshooter Annie Oakley. If you try real hard, you can fit this into the continuity of the second volume of Real Science Adventures, but if not, enh, whatever.

If that one doesn't come together, though, I'll run, I dunno, something else.

The second will be Thursday at 8:00 pm SUNDAY AT 10:00 AM. This one, I'm running for the Thursday Knights, who'll be... podcasting it? Livestreaming it? Either way. They livestreamed a playtest of ARRPG back in March, right before I finished writing it and before it went through the editing wringer. It was a big success at the table (whew), and when they contacted me to ask if it'd be okay if they ran it again at SDCC, I was like, how about I just run it for you? So that's what's going on. That means that the five player-spots here will likely be taken up by the Thursday Knights crew, but maybe not, and I don't know the specifics anyway, so if you want to play come on out and maybe you'll get to do just that.

The scenario for this evening SUNDAY MORNING game will probably be Atomic Robo and the Invaders from Mars. I've run this one a few times (including one session at ECCC with Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener as players), and it's always been fun. AND IT WILL HAPPEN ON SUNDAY MORNING AT 10:00 AM.

Which reminds me, one of the issues in the next volume of Real Science Adventures may or may not be inspired by this very scenario, so just in case, play it now before Brian and Scott spoil it for everybody. In fact, was that spoiling something just by mentioning the possibility of it? Whatever -- it centers around one of my favorite Atomic Robo characters, so I'll be psyched for it either way.

Both of these games will take place in the open gaming area, which is in Mezzanine 15A. You can't miss it! It's right next to 15B!

"What about Gam3rcon?" Uh... I dunno. Maybe Saturday THURSDAY night? I'm playing this one by ear right now, which probably isn't very smart, but look man, I've got a lot of stuff going on.

Now if you'll excuse me, Harry Houdini isn't going to stat himself. See you at the thing!

Monday, July 8, 2013

[Atomic Robo] Various Updates

How I feel lately.
Man, it's been a while, right? I've just been too busy and/or tired to talk to you. You know how it is. But let's have a few updates to keep you in the loop.

What's Up With ARRPG?
I don't know why I was so excited that the edit punch-list was so short when it only takes three words to say "Rewrite this chapter."

To that end, I've enlisted the aid of Brian Engard to help get these Jeremy Keller-edited chapters revised and back to Jeremy Keller. Brian, of course, is part of the Fate Core team, so I have every confidence etc.

A big -- really big -- part of the revision process has been reformatting all of the examples in the book to align with the new aesthetic. We're still using panels from the pages of Atomic Robo to illustrate rules concepts and provide examples, which is great, but instead of just showing panels with captions (like the one above), we're providing a running dialogue between the GM and the players, all of whom happen to be Action Scientists. It's been a ton of work, I'll be honest with you, but the results are really satisfying, and it's going to result in a more engaging experience for the reader.

So, to sum up, it's coming along, and soon it will be out of my hands entirely, at which point we can talk about things like printer and shipping delays.

How Was Gamex?
Great! Two of the three games I ran were a lot of fun. The one that wasn't was an ambitious endeavor that didn't really come together the way I'd imagined.

I'm running the ARRPG scenario, "Robo Force," at GenCon. Wanna see the character sheets? Here.

I also ran a D&D-like Fate Core-based (based!) game called "Return to the Expedition to the Sinister Temple of the Reptile Cult on the Borderlands." There were blaster pistols and a froghemoth. Wanna see those character sheets? Look upon them and be confused!

As for the games I got to play, Morgan Ellis's really wacky way-out-there TMNT Fate Core game didn't involve any teenagers, ninjas, or turtles, although we did have a super-evolved marmot, a walrus from Ancient Egypt, a sentient hadrosaur from another dimension, and my character, Oreo Futurebaby, P.I. It was... pretty silly. And a lot of fun.

Respected TV critic and not-really-my-RPG-protege Todd VanDerWerff ran another Fate Core game based on the TV series Vikings. It was... well, look, there were some problems with the game, but still, it was gratifying to see Todd, a mere year and a bit after I introduced him to RPGs, running a game that I'd helped write. That was awesome. And I sure like that Vikings show. He promised me I'd have a chance to play Athelstan, and he did not lie about that, more or less.

Isn't San Diego Comic-Con Coming Up?
It is, yeah, and I'll be running ARRPG there, too, on Thursday at 2:00. I don't think the gaming schedule's up yet, but when it is, I'll be on it. (I'm also scheduled for a Saturday game, but I'll tell you right now, I'm going to have to bail on it to see this.) I'm also probably going to run a game at Gam3rcon that weekend, as is tradition, sort of.