Night’s Black Agents – A Trip To Q-Branch

A couple of quick provisos before I launch in:

1:  This is my first GUMSHOE game and, as such, some errors may occur.  I’m happy to edit the article to address the mistakes once I learn of them but all this is by way of saying “Don’t treat this as gospel”.

2:  Some of my thinking is going to be vague as I haven’t playtested or run the game yet.  I’ll try to make some sense of the story in how it relates to the adventure design process but there is a paranoid part of me that doesn’t want to spoil everything here for fear of a potential player spotting it.  To be honest the viewing stats should disabuse me of that concern.

3:  I work in Android and don’t possess the knowledge to adequately provide an iOS alternative.

Onto the article!


The initial idea for this game emerged from Bill Murray’s Ask Me Anything on Reddit.  He was spruiking for his film – Monuments Men – and was discussing the concept of the film and the history that inspired it.  In particular, he talked about how the Nazis hid billions of dollars in gold, jewels, art and other precious things in a place called Merkers Mine.  The contents of the mine were discovered by Allied Forces and seized by Patton and Eisenhower until it was returned to the German people and those victimised by the Nazi Party. Continue reading


Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Screen: Vol 2 – Over And Over And Over…

The last article ‘Never Repeat a Task’ promised a report of ideas and techniques to cut down on repetition I’ve encountered when running a game. Specifically I would be looking at:

• Assembling Dice Pools,
• Referencing Rules; and
• Combat

This article will address these repetitive tasks in the systems of Marvel Heroic RPG and Exalted 2nd Edition – the two games I’m running – and will suggest tools to curb the repetition in order to allow the GM to concentrate on other tasks.  But first…

Continue reading

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind The Screen: Vol 2 – The Shadowrun Rule (Untested)

I’m trying to codify something for my future RPG efforts and it boils down to this:
Are you playing INSERT RPG HERE or are you playing Shadowrun?*

You can tell if you’re playing Shadowrun by answering the following questions:

1:  Do you take the job/quest because it’s the only thing on offer?
2:  Do you spend the majority of time afterward devising the perfect plan?
3:  Do you get frustrated when the plan fails?
4:  Do you do it all over again next game?

My thinking is that if you answer Yes to all questions then you’re playing (or I’m running) a Shadowrun game.  If you’re playing something other than Shadowrun, then its time to reevaluate what and why you’re playing .

*See Behind the Screen #19 for my love/hate relationship with Shadowrun and why I’m using it for this post.

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Screen: Volume 2

Reading a bit of John August’s blog about writer’s workspaces, as well as Lifehacker’s interviews with productive people, I’ve been thinking about my own.  Since the completion of the Behind the Screen book and my typing this, there have been some new games and new tools added and, while I’m waiting for an breakfast experiment of Raisin-French Toast with Maple syrup and bacon, now seems like the time to pick up one of those tools and write about it.

Continue reading

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Screen – Part 19: Shadowrun

First, a quick word from The Management:

At present, work has me away and training at God-Awful hours of the morning, which pretty much kills my general desire to do anything by the time I finish up in the afternoon. Add to this that I’m taking on a new hobby and trying my hand at NaNoWriMo (Also kicking my arse due to time constraints) I just haven’t had the time to update The Manifesto. I’ve got some bits of the next Colt Apollo, though barely enough for a Part 1 and nothing to follow up with a Part 2. Planning to get that done by next Tuesday.

The final kick in the shorts was the computer switching off for the last time, so I’m working off the Pocket Brain (mobile phone) until I can repurpose the old laptop to carry me through to the upgrade in December. Should have the data from the harddrive back by then.

Anyway, to recharge for NaNoWriMo and to keep The Manifesto going, let’s move onto the latest in Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Screen…


Yeah, you knew this one had to be coming… Continue reading

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Screen – Part 18: Space Opera

Space Opera. It’s a genre that I’ve used in games before, but haven’t dabbled with outside of that handful of occassions. This is due to, my knowledge anyway, a lack of systems capable of keeping up with the myriad possibilities that Space Opera involves. The planets, alien races, combat on a personal or spacecraft level, at best, it can give you as much view as the Hubble Telescope; beautiful focus, but limited range.

I mean, sure you can point to a couple of systems that are good at certain elements, but I’ve yet to find one that handles it all effeciently. There are finite numbers of pages that can be sold for profit and effort expended in a plethora of races, is time and energy taken from ship-to-ship combat, or technological weapons and equipment. And while, yes, supplement books offer more pages dedicated to specialist fields, I’m not going to buy them unless I’m convinced of the core rules. Continue reading