Changeling Session Report 1 - Trolls in the Dark

Here we go, last night was our first session of our new Changeling game.  The cast again:
  • JJ (Fairest/Telluric) a beautiful clock.
  • Elizabeth "Madagascar" (Darkling/Hunterheart + Runnerswift) a cat .
  • Turnip Husk (Beast/Swimmerskin) a fish.
  • Yo-yo (Fairest/Muse) a statue.
  • Eric Vale (Fairest/Gameplayer) a chess set.
  • Crump the 16th (Ogre/Stonebones) an ogre made of stone.

The game opened with a long camera move that shows Washington DC during the summer, specifically the mall, Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial.  From there it goes through a grove of trees into the hedge, a huge mass of tangled brambles and thorns with strange fruits and strange creatures.  Lots of mood setting.

We cut to Crump the 16th smashing rocks in the bottom of a huge quarry.  A leprechaun, Lucky, all short and wearing green overalls, is sitting right next to him, whipping him with a huge vine of thorns and brambles and drinking a lemonade with a little straw umbrella in it.  This is how it has always been for Crump.  At one point Crump is given Lucky's lemonade to hold and just crushes it without thinking about it.

A trumpet blasts and a red carpet rolls down from the top of the quarry.  A little changeling servant with a trumpet announced the arrival of the all-poweful Fae Lord of this realm of Arcadia, the Leprechaun Baron.  And down comes a man in a very nice green Armani suit.  He tells Crump he needs him to pull his chariot.  So Crump for the first time ever puts his hammer down and goes to the top of the quarry to find a black Jaguar sports car, though it is fitted with a harness for Crump to pull.

Crump pulls it out of this little bubble of Arcadia into the hedge, staying on the path, before heading into another bubble that is completely different than the Leprechaun Baron's quarry.  It is a keep floating in the middle of space with the sun and moon spinning behind it like hands on a clock.  As he pulls the Jaguar up next to the keep, he sees two cats, one black and the other a strange wooden, six-legged cat with green stripes and exaggeratedly pointed ears and a statue of a man with a quill and a scroll.

As Crump pulls up the car, an incredibly beautiful blonde haired woman comes to the door.  Every time the "camera" switches to a new shot, she is in a new outfit, ranging from wedding dresses to bikinis to burkas.   As Crump follows the two fae and two changelings inside the keep, he keeps noticing the bits of lemonade on his hand.  He eventually sticks out his rock tongue to taste it, and suddenly gets a memory back to when he was human!  The shock has him lose basic motor skills and go crashing through a wall into a lost room filled with oddities, most importantly a beautiful clock made of stars, a fish in a fishbowl, and a chess set.

Through all of this, fireworks go off, and we see memories of 4 of the 6 changelings: the clock as it falls remembers being a high school gymnast and falling at a meet with talent scouts there, hurting her ankle; the black cat outside sees the fireworks that go off and remembers the same memory as Crump, though this is her as a human girl, homeless and being handcuffed for loitering; the statue's stone skin dusts off as he moves and remembers that same night as well, watching the fireworks with his wife.  As the changelings deal with their memories coming back to them, the fish gets on his back fins and tries to collect some gunpowder. "I'm going to need this."

The six-legged cat, Hobcat, tells them the basics of what is happening and suggests that everyone run before the Fae get there and just straight up murder them.  So all five of them plus hobcat (leaving the chess set, who was slightly mobile but did not make enough noise or motion for Crump to notice he was there) run out onto the path and leap off it into the nothing ... and fall through a hole at the bottom into the thorns landing in the Hedge Lake described in the opening.

The five of them introduce each other, and talk with Hobcat about some of the things going on as the fish, clock, and cat find themselves much more human than they were.  The fish goes swimming along the bottom and finds a big screen TV inexplicably plugged into the ground and showing static.  He swims back up and everyone swims down.  Hobcat throws some glamour into the tv and everyone drains out and finds themselves in the mall in Washington DC, wet and in the middle of a thunderstorm.  JJ, the clock now knows innately what time everything is, and tells everyone it is July 14th, 2012.  They all realize they've been gone for varying amount of times, from the few weeks for Crump to "Madagascar" alluding to perhaps decades.

As they argue, a taxi (actually a huge hobgoblin frog with seats in its belly) pulls up and an Ogre with a crazy third eye comes out, introduces himself as Boston Whipperwheel, and greets Turnip Husk (the fish) incredibly warmly.  He tells them they should all get in, and he will take them all to Hearthhome.

Back in Arcadia, the two Fae lords, the unnamed blonde and the Leprechaun Baron argue about their items being stolen and escaping and wanting them back as the little trumpet player looks at the chess set, whose pieces are spelling out the word go.  The little changeling unhappily wishes he could help, pulling out a stopwatch and showing the clock that time is all messed up here now that the walls are broken.  At one point, the hands on the clock (there are 6 hands: seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years) all line up for "5 years" and at moment, the chess set magically transforms back into a human in a very nice black suit ... but just briefly, as he turns back, scaring the little trumpeter and causing it to drop the watch.  The trumpeter puts the hands close to 5 years again, and the chess set becomes much more distinctly changeling, with a strange chessboard pattern covering his skin.  The trumpeter tells him he better run as he is forced to blow the trumpet.  The chess set, Eric Vale, pantomimes tipping his hat to the changeling, and leaps out the hole in the wall.



I like wrestling a lot.  There are moments and things I like more than others.  But when it comes down to it, I don't just like wrestling, I like the theory of wrestling.  What makes something work, what made something not, how to improve it, how to distill something down to its best.  As a writer and a wrestling fan who loves theory, this shows itself very well in fantasy booking.

"Booking" is the term for the basic setups of storylines and who wins and who loses what.  And I want to book a scenario for fun.  I'll do this every now and again, feel free to tell me I'm lame or wrong or right or whatever.

Heel Cena

The problem with Cena turning heel is that you have to make sure he doesn't just get cheered by all the people who want him to go heel.  Smart fans like me keep Cena face, which makes us angrier, and it doesn't matter.  So for this scenario to even begin to work, we need to find a way to make Cena heel to everyone.  Everyone has to hate him.

This job is way easier than I first thought.  Because half the fans (that's a generously low number I feel) already hate him.  The complaints against Cena are simple to understand:
 * He always acts like a dope with stupid jokey promos or EXTRA SERIOUS TIME promos
 * He never sells realistically
 * His matches don't get anyone over but himself
 * Every match he is treated like the underdog, even though he's one of the winningest "on top" guys ever, and has been on top forever.

Those things need to not change.  What needs to change is adding more things to make people hate him, and to make the fans that cheer start hating him too.  And that's where it clicked for me.  Come with me on this fantasy journey.

Let's say Cena holds the title for awhile then eventually gets in a predicament right around Summerslam where it is face v. face.  There are a handful of guys you can do that with for some real drama, and he performs as a heel in face v. face matches almost consistently  harking back to him v. Punk and both him v. Rock matches.  Daniel Bryan could work, though I suspect he'll be turning heel soon.  Sheamus is potential as well.  Punk again is possible.  But I think Undertaker would be a great choice.

So let's say Taker and Cena go mano-a-mano at Summerslam.  And the build to the whole thing is about crowd support, about the respect that Taker gets, and how Cena is about Hustle and Loyalty as well.  But things are wearing on him.  And walks in to Summerslam doubting himself.  This is a fairly standard build for Cena matches, and would put some doubt in who would win.  For our scenario, Undertaker wins.

Following that is Night of Champions.  Cena gets his rematch, but the fans are firmly on Taker's side.  The match is about Taker respecting Cena and Cena feeling bad about the whole thing.  His spirit is hurt.  Taker then says that Cena can choose any stipulation he wants for the match in a show of ultimate respect.  Cena takes a week and decides he wants it as a stipulation to clearly favors him.  Let's go with a cage match.

The match happens, and over the course of the match, Cena plays his role up, but Taker is veteran and the final spot comes where he finally almost has him beat.  AA, kick out.  Tombstone, kick out.  Give Taker a tombstone, kick out.  Cena musters up everything and finally plants Taker, then decides to climb.  As he gets to the top, he looks around, and the fans go nuts, because fan love spots from the top.  Taker gets up so Cena leaps down and does his guillotine leg drop, then pulls Taker up and gives him an AA ... but it breaks the side of the cage and throws Taker out.  Taker retains.  Cena is dumbfounded.

Cena demands another shot, and gets a "last chance" match at Over the Limits.  And there he loses super clean.  But gets up immediately after.  And is super pissed.

Next night, he delivers a promo.  He talks about how he spent years doing what the fans want.  But that's fine.  Because he knows what he company wants.  They want him as the face of the company.  They want him selling shirts and making movies like he always does.  So he's going to stay the face of the company.  He isn't allowed to challenge for the WWE title while Undertaker is champ.  But he can go after other titles.  So he will.  Cena is the WWE.

You have him debut a new shirt, Cena is the WWE, and then you have him start going for every belt.  At first, what's happening doesn't immediately catch on, and could be a while before they do.  But slowly and surely, Cena starts taking out and winning every belt.  He first goes for the US title, since that was his first title, and it is just competition at first.  Let's say Kofi has it again, because that's what they do, the put it on Kofi so he can lose it.  But he truly just destroys him on PPV like a jobber.  It goes maybe 4 minutes.  It was a crap match, but it firmly sets up heel Cena as the guy who no one beats.  He destroys a friend because he IS the company.

From there, he goes for the tag titles at Survivor Series.  If he eliminates both members, he wins.  And he totally does.

Then on to the IC at TLC in a ladder match, to give a fighting change.  But he takes it.

Then the Rumble, and he goes for the WHC and just absolutely is heel now and takes the WHC.  And is now holding everything except the WWE title.  At the Rumble, you set up someone, anyone really, who can be the next big guy, the next top guy.  Like Ryback COULD have been.  They win the Rumble, and immediately says that he is going to stop Cena.  Cena then destroys him.  Just out of nowhere, completely kills him, makes him tap out, AA through the announce table, just leaves him lying.  They set up a special Elimination Chamber where all of Cena's titles are on the line, and the current WWE title is in there too.  All titles on the line ... but Cena wins them all!  Cena now holds everything and IS the company!  So you have one heel Cena holding EVERY BELT ... but the next day as he celebrates and says he is the company, the rumble winner is back and leaves Cena lying!

They set up the match as if Cena loses, he is stripped of everything at Mania.  And it keeps getting bad.  You have the rest of the PPV set up contenders and finish other feuds that have been happening.  So it is all or nothing, Rumble winner v. Cena.  And there you crown a new WWE champ, strip Cena of everything, and now Cena is on a warpath, full heel mode.

That would be an amazing 6 months of story.  But, that's just my opinion.


Changeling: [untitled] - Setup and Session 0

I was previously running a Dungeons and Dragons game every monday for me and some of the good friends I had recently made through the theatre and their friends.  And that was a very fun game.  Dungeons and Dragons is a big destress for me as a DM, because it is about collaborative storytelling and watching characters interact in a world with elements I've created.  There is really nothing like table-top games.  We reached the end of the first book in our series of "novels" as I have set the plot out, with a lot of things happening, but mainly being a character leaving the group because a player moved away, another character dying and being replaced with a character that is incredibly well loved, and all the other characters hating each other and basically refusing to work together unless I give them "the sigh" and they all realize that I put together an actual something for them to do.

Some of that might sound bad, but really, it is a good group.  But I was ready for a change, a breather, a way to get all the characters on the same page, and time to give some separation for our buddy who moved. So I brought my other books up and gave two suggestions: a superhero game using a diceless system that, while not first-time-friendly, is still a very fun and good system; and a modern horror system, the World of Darkness.  We very luckily got three new people to join our group, one being my fiance, and what looked like it was going to be a group of guys all smashing things with super powers very quickly turned into everyone being really interested in doing the modern horror game.

From there it was picking a flavor, but we settled on Changeling.

I have run Changeling in the past.  I very much like Changeling.  And after a little bit of arm twisting, I'm positive all my players are super excited to play to.  Our first session is Monday, and it will start everything off, including teaching two new players how to even begin to play (but that'll be easy, I'm good there).

So I thought I would use this space to detail sessions, notes, and characters.  So lemme give a quick concept to the game, and a character breakdown.

The game will be Changeling: [untitled].  Yeah, I know, I don't have a title for the Chronicle yet.  But I do know the basics.

Our changelings will find themselves in Washington DC when they escape Arcadia and start their new lives.  They have all also given me plenty to work with for backstory, but I asked them to give me a story to mimic or homage over the course of the chronicle.  So there will be 7 or 8 "stories" - the opening one I use to get them together, then one of the ones they will pick will inform each story after, and then if I need it, a final story of my choosing to close the Chronicle.  I'm very excited for it.

Now, the characters:
  • JJ (Fairest/Telluric) was snatched and sold on the Goblin Market, transformed into a beautiful clock.
  • Elizabeth (Beast/undecided) was a homeless young girl taken by a creature in the dark and turned into a cat.
  • Turnip Husk (Beast/Swimmerskin) was a  lawyer who wanted an easy way out, responded to a "life of leisure" post on craigslist, and was taken into Arcadia and turned into a fish.
  • Yo-yo (Fairest/Muse) was an author whose rival sold him out and gave him to the fae, where he became a statue.
  • Eric Veil (Fairest/Gameplayer) was a gambler by trade, and knew a little of the occult, knowing one of his friends was a fae.  He made a wager.  And lost.  And became a game to be played.
  • Crump the 16th (Ogre/Stonebones) was a quarry worker and stone mason who was pestered by a Leprechaun and stolen away to become the Leprechaun Baron's 16th quarry miner after the last one crumbled to dust.

These six characters will together escape, form a motley, and try to find a way to survive in the real world, while avoiding the fae, dealing with other changelings, and other fairy tale weirdness.  It'll be a good game.

Tell me your thoughts.  I need a name for the chronicle as a whole, and I just generally am interested in hearing what any one of you is thinking.



IHAO ... on the Newsroom

Aaron Sorkin is not my cup of tea.

I know a lot of people like him.  I get that.  I also understand why ... I think.

Sorkin has a habit of taking sitcom situations and placing them in hour-long dramas based around a setting of politic or entertainment importance.  Studio 60 was a fake SNL.  Well, you know what, I have to take it back.  While most people, myself included, know Sorkin best for West Wing, he's done plenty of films and even an actual sitcom.  Which does not surprise.

The thing I do not care for Sorkin is that he doesn't write how people talk.  He writes how people think.  He crafts characters that do not have any actual realism.  They are people that exist in a purely intellectual state where all they do is talk and think deeply about things.  And looking at what I do, you'd think that'd be what I'd be into.  Except it isn't.  Because I care about characters.  Nuanced, flawed, talking like real people characters.  And Sorkin characters just are not realistic.  And are not nuanced.  Hell, I could make an argument from the Sorkin things I've watched that they aren't even truly flawed.  Sure, they have flaws, but things just go right for them anyway, despite their flaws.  They don't ever have to worry about their flaws, because the conflicts that come up are because of sit com scenarios that aren't character driven, but situation driven, hence the "sit" in "sitcom."

Anyway.  The Newsroom.

It was ok.  Olivia Munn was always a pleasure.  I think that's the only really good thing I have to say about it.  There were episodes where the drama of being in a newsroom and dealing with that stuff and the news and the troubles of ratings and all that was interesting.  But those were few and far between because the show is inherently flawed in its own premise.

It lives in a fictional past where this new network existed.  So every scenario is either about how this news network ALMOST said it the honest way everyone wishes the news did it, or they actually did but it didn't affect anything.  It is a show without an true consequences because it lives in the past.  Every decision and element is already decided.  And while there was some actual drama in a few episodes, none of that drama (except for the BEST episode which featured Olivia Munn having to take over at the desk for  day and while she knew the truth, her inexperience made her use off the record reporting to make a statement that her Japanese contact was too honorbound to actually say about the nuclear meltdown in Japan) was based on the actual workings of the news.

Look at the episode where they disgraced their "real news" credentials to talk about the Casey Anthony story so that they could make a new, hard-hitting debate style happen for the Republican Nominee Debate.  We, the audience, knows what happened here: they didn't host the debate.  Which means the entire crux of the episode, all the drama of them having to report the "disgraceful" news of Casey Anthony for ratings just to make sure they got the right to host the debate, the stupid blackout convienent excuse they use at one point to let a character express all their problems outloud intellectually with fake emotion that is immediately swept up because the power magically comes back on in a few minutes and they have to continue to report the Weiner Sexter pre-tape ... just every ounce of "drama" was pointless.  Because we knew what would happen.

If you cannot tell, I did not find the Newsroom good.  I understand why other people do, though.  I just prefer real drama with real characters with situations that make sense and have some mystery to them so that the choices the characters make actually have an effect.

But that's just my opinion.

I STILL have an opinion ...

Welp.  It has been ... yeesh, awhile.

Yeah, this site has been abandoned.  Because of a lot of reasons.  But mostly because I just got tired of it.  I got tired of trying to pump out content, trying to get off the ground, and having the rug continually ripped out from beneath me.

And that means I was doing it for the wrong reasons.

In the long run, if you are doing something just because you want to "have a go at it" or because you think you "can make a living" doing it, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.  You lose your spark.  You lose what you love.  You lose ... everything.  Very few people in the world actually have the ability to do something they want or are called to do.  And that's a shame.  I do not know why this is the case.  I just know it is.  But in the end that is neither here nor there.

So why am I back, posting on this blog that I started, and stopped almost exactly two years ago?  Because I have an opinion.  I have lots of them.  And they never went away.  I just did them elsewhere.  Whenever I had something I wanted to talk about, I went to facebook to talk about them.  And I probably will continue to do that.  But even facebook doesn't allow me to get as indepth as I like, because I don't want to irritate people (which is odd, considering I very much enjoy speaking strongly enough to make other people talk about their thoughts on the same subject).  But I never stopped.  So why not do that here?  And more indepth?  Why not try to just take what I love doing, being opinionated, and actually just put it to good use over here.

So that's what I'm going to try to do.  Update this blog continually with reviews, thoughts, concepts, all that.  I'm going to try to incorporate part of the tumblr concept of "ask" over here too.  I enjoy talking, I enjoying sharing my thoughts, and I enjoy screwing with people.  So why not do that here?  Well, there are a lot of reasons, like how I'm pretty certain doing so here would not get any traffic.  But in the end, that's not what I'm trying to do.  I'm trying to have a creative outlet.  Well, the same outlet I've always had, just a little more grandiose.

I'll probably backlog some of the things I've written on facebook over here, too.  Just to have records of them.

So yeah.  Stuff and things, things and stuff, all that is happening.  I'll see you soon.