2 for Tuesday #12: Interactive Stories Take 2 & Adventures in PbP Games

2-for-Tuesday-logoHi folks, I noticed that there weren’t any responses to my Interactive Story post, and I want to give you another chance to discover how cool they really are, so I’ll give you another shot at it. I know it’s a whole new concept, using blogs to collaborate on stories; this is an unusual way I don’t think is being done anywhere. And because not everyone is up on Play-by-Post games or PbP, I thought I’d spend Part 2 giving you a taste of that, to give you a sense for what you might be missing.

Part 1: Interactive Stories
Back in 2 for Tuesday #10, I introduced a very cool concept I’ve used many times to good effect and fun was had by all. Now, we’ve never done it on a blog before and since I got no responses at all here, I wondered if maybe it was because people aren’t used to the concept. Normally, we play this simple game on a forum, but you can play it on a blog too, using the comments section! During that previous blog post, I gave you the intro. Here it is again (be sure to check out 2 for Tuesday #10 if you missed it, or for a refresher):

Chapter One (Intro)

Michael Drosik awoke with a start to an ear-piercing scream only rivaled by his own terror, realizing he was staring out over the edge of a catwalk, some nine stories off the ground and about to plunge to his death. Everything was a blur; he had no idea what was going on, or how he got there. Quickly reaching out, he locked an elbow around one of the catwalk bars and pulled himself to his feet. Dizzy, his head pounding and wet with blood, all he could see were the burnt out husks of skyscrapers all around him, and moving slowly, awkwardly far below, what seemed like mannequins run by a drunken puppet master, or zombies out of some bad B-rated flick.

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That’s all I posted to kick off the story in the forum and on this blog. Then I opened it up to people taking turns writing a few sentences each and seeing where the story went from there. You see, it’s not just like writing a story, because the players don’t work together. They each have their own ideas on what’s going on and what they’d like to do with it. But no one knows what’s going to happen, so it can get really interesting and challenging!

I did get a couple players (so far) to join in and run with the story over on a forum here. But to give you another example of how these things run, I’ll copy some of that Interactive story below! If you’d like to join in, you can either join over there and start where we are currently at, or we can continue the intro above and go in a whole ‘nother direction with it, posting right here! Or start your own and let’s try it out. Never once had anyone regret doing it – they are always a blast from my experience! Ok, here’s a few posts that followed that intro:

martin321: The last thing he could remember was the party in the bar on Fifth Street, a private function that he’d gatecrashed by slipping in through a fire-exit left propped open by a smoker. The drinks, the loud thumping music, the girls in short skirts, it was all a muddle of impressions. And the man, he remembered now, the man dressed in black, offering him something with an outstretched hand.

Bob Whitely: What was it? Michael wondered, his mind racing, yet not getting anywhere, obviously the result of too much alcohol, and whatever the hell happened to his head. Reaching into his left pocket for his satellite phone, he found only a coin; no, not a coin, it was a black disk of unfamiliar material, larger than one of those old silver dollars, and displayed the image of a golden butterfly.

jastius: Then he remembered… the crash (if that’s what it was), with the thunder of metal slamming into metal, the screech of dragging sparking mass digging furrows through things never meant to move. And the flames rising into the night that suppurated them all in the ungodly smell of char-broiled human flesh. Why was it he could suddenly speak german, and had only one word of it foremost in his thoughts, Hindenburg..?

martin321: The fragments of memory whirled around in his mind, coalescing and fitting together like jigsaw pieces, and he had the feeling that once he could see the whole picture he wouldn’t like it, not one bit. The German immigrant in the bar, this whole mess had started with him, claimed to be some sort of scientist, talked a lot of nonsense that seemed almost plausible after a drink or six. He’d humoured the guy, who, as he got drunker, started babbling about secret experiments and conspiracies. Calling the scientist’s bluff had been a mistake, and now it didn’t seem like such nonsense, perched up here, looking down at the devastation below.

Bob Whitely: A sound behind him, monstrous, unearthly, shocked him out of his introspection and he whirled around, flashes of youthful nightmares awakening the same childlike response of so long ago: panic and the need to flee. He chased them away, reminding himself there were logical explanations for everything, and peered into the dust and debris-laden bedroom, the old stained wooden floorboards freshly streaked with blood, leading up the broken window before him.

Unhinging himself slowly from the catwalk, he strained an arm toward the window ledge, latched on, white knuckled, and eased himself inside, weary of the glass shards and whatever made those awful sounds.

Anyway, it continues on from there with many more posts! Fun stuff! Post in the Comments with questions or if you’d like to continue the story from the original intro above.
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Part 2: Adventures in PbP Games
Before 2008, I’d never even heard of PbP games, but I instantly fell in love when a friend told me about them and I gave it my first go. Since then, I’ve played in a few friend’s games and have run quite a few games of my own, on numerous sites, either with the Cosmothea game engine or with one version or another of uber-lite rules I’ve made up, always adventuring within the Cosmothea Campaign Setting (yeah, I’m a sucker for blended-genre adventures!)

Play-by-Post games can be played with most rules, though sometimes little changes need to be made if you are used to using miniatures, for example. Combat is slower as players take turns posting their actions when they are available to post. It’s a ton of fun when everyone gets in sync and can post frequently during the intense moments of an adventure.

The slower combat is offset by the fact that you can take your time posting, therefore many players wax poetic, think more carefully, and so you can often get a lot more coherent and thought-provoking action and better dialogue. This is perfect for writers and improves your writing skill. Those that aren’t keen on writing tend to write shorter posts. As with any game, if you are playing with a friendly bunch, you’ll have a lot more fun than playing with jerks.

I’ve been very fortunate to have a great group of gamers over at QT Games. We just need more of them! I know people are shy about trying new games, but from all the positive feedback I’ve gotten on Cosmothea, I’d have to say that people are robbing themselves if they don’t try new things, because you just never know when you’ll run across a gem! As for those that really want combat to roll along faster, there are some things you can do to speed that up. If anyone’s interested in some tricks, I can pass some along. Using uber-lite rules are one way, but there are many others.

I’ve run adventures on several worlds, some with a heavy science fiction focus, others with a heavy fantasy focus, several with thick blends and several in which the players either made up their own god characters or ran Cosmothean gods. Good times were had by all, and I miss those games. Currently, I’m having fun with the Interactive story I mentioned in Part 1, and also with a return to my ringworld, Cathor for our wild romp across that war-torn ringworld in a PbP called Secrets of Cathor 2.
You can find the “Out of Character Thread” here!

The story started with refuges fleeing a warring region during a storm. A human shadow runner Links up with a displaced orc shaper who was living for a time among orcs from another tribe in the ruined Iron City, a place mysteriously destroyed several years earlier. The city was strewn with the remnants of gnomish war machines, colossal steam and clockwork mechs, yet there is evidence that the mechs did not destroy the city or those defending it, but all were slain by a third, mysterious force. In the center of the city is a gate to another world, and while searching the ruins, the shadow runner and his orc companion witness a strange woman from a futuristic culture, crash through the gate on a hover cycle shaped to look like a legless horse. Soon, they find themselves on the run from some of the ruined city’s bigger predators, a T-Rex and other critters.

They also run across a strange construct unlike anything they’ve seen before and when something even bigger than a T-Rex shows up, the entire group finds themselves teleported hundreds of miles to the South.  Before they can sort out what happened, they wonder upon another city overrun by stiffs (walkin’ dead), and a powerful arcane shaper who is trying to activate ancient technology hidden in the city. Things are looking gloomy, for though they have managed to destroy many of the dead, they are about to be surrounded. That’s where we’re at now. If you would like to try your hand at a fun Play-by-Post, I’d love to teach you. Just let me know!

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About Bob Whitely/QT Games

Welcome to QT Games! Mission Never publish junk or waste people's time. Publish only high-quality fiction and games. 'Nuff said. Company Overview QT Games LLC was created to publish blended-genre (fantasy blended with sci-fi, etc.) fiction, board, card and roleplaying games for a discerning gaming community. Unlike most small press, we have very strict standards: Only pro writing, pro editing and pro art. That means that if we can't get it right, we find someone who can. We pay well for what we don't do in-house. We don't cut corners on quality. This means we stand to make less money than other small publishers, but that's okay with us. We value your time and money, so we're willing to take the bullet. We've designed a large number of games and written a pile of stories. Now we're polishing some of them and getting them out the door. 'Bout time, we know. Good stuff ahead!
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