Cantrip Comprehensive: Notable Students

As well as the staff it’s worth noting particular personalities within the current student body at Cantrip Comprehensive, indeed they’re likely to have much more of an impact on the characters than even the staff.

The Circle of Smoke
Found lurking in the bathrooms and behind the sheds, wherever they’re – probably – out of sight and screened by anti-scrying charms, the Circle of Smoke gathers to inhale tobacco, marijuana and anything else that can be smoked or inhaled. If you want to score they’re the people to go to but they’re pretty secretive and like to hide. When they’re high they get up to hinjinx but most of the time they’re very, very careful, wary of being sent to the detention dimension for transgressing the written and unwritten laws of the school.

Of the circle the leader is Ross Gray, permanently high he’s lost in a fug of drug-induced stupor and lets off magic seemingly randomly in the midst of his giggle fits. There’s no drug or mythical substance he can’t get hold of from unicorn horns to troll blood and everything in between, if you can put up with his short term memory loss.

Ted the Exstrange Student
Controversial, but promoted by the government, the Exstrange program brings the semi-supernatural creatures from the rest of the Shadow World into the Wizkid education programme as a way of trying to understand them and bring them under control. Ted is a Sparkler Bloodsucker with emo-hair and many sets of identical black silk shirts and leather jackets. The girls love him and they love him so much he feels like he can’t let on that he’s gay for fear of losing his popularity, the only thing that’s stopping some students from turning him into a newt and tossing him into a cauldron.

Sharon Enchante
Half Nymph, Sharon has gorgeous waist-length chestnut hair and a figure that has inspired many male students to actually learn geometry in order to properly describe it. A brilliant student and a skilled athlete (gymnastics) this is all ignored due to the fact that there’s a school legend going around that she’ll show you her tits for a tenner. Nobody’s yet dared find out if that’s true but given that she’s in the second year of the sixth form if anyone is going to dare they’ll have to dare soon. Of course, her father is a warlock with the Department of Magic(k)al Justice, so that really may not be a good idea.

Kyan Stane
Kyan is utterly hopeless at magic but what he lacks in mystic power he makes up for in physical strength and borderline psychopathy.  To many it seems like Kyan’s almost been designed to be the perfect school bully and he takes an astounding amount of glee in spoiling people’s day, beating people up and making class and break time a living nightmare from which there’s no escape.

A half-demon, AntiChris is a shifty, shitty, obnoxious individual with all the social skills of a wolverine and the appeal of a baboon’s arse. That said, his dad is proud of his son and is more than willing to trade favours or make deals through AntiChris for anything you might want. Booze, porn, knives, guns, magic spells, curses, demonic pacts, you name it, he can get it. AntiChris is also the school encyclopaedia of sexist, racist and sick jokes, of which he always has two or three to hand.

The Bigpitch Team
Bigpitch isn’t as big a deal in the comprehensives as it is in the private wizarding schools. Indeed it’s thought of as a nerdy, girly sport and dismissed in favour of Magic Rules Football. Most schools still have a Bigpitch team anyway, but it’s regarded in much the same way Badminton or Polo are considered in the mundane world.

Cantrip Comprehensive fields a Bigpitch team but it’s made up of those who can’t or won’t play any ‘real’ sports and they don’t really play Bigpitch, save when invited to compete by another school. Mostly they just prance around a field pretending to practice and talking nonsense.

Jedamiah Wood is the captain of the Bigpitch team and has dreams of actually making the sport cool and taking his team to the top. He’s the only one out of the bookish, asthmatic or work-shy team that actually gives a damn and his enthusiasm, while not infectious, is indefatigable.

The Three Bitches
Tamara, Diana and Harriet are the Three Bitches, a trio of ‘reformed’ witches who play up their gothy, spooky image to out-emo the other brooding kids of the school. ‘When shall we three meet again’ is answered by ‘In room 102 every lunchtime’ which is where they hold meeting of their LGBTAP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Asexual and Parthenogenic) support society. They’re the only members and it’s really just a cover for gossip, hexing and reading prohibited magazines. Nonetheless, they have a scary image which they positively encourage to be spread around.

The Prefects
Sometimes good families fall on hard times. The kids from this families in good standing that lose money on the stock market or poorly thought out alchemical ventures are extended a sop by being made prefects, backing up the teachers to keep order in the halls and theoretically acting as the school’s first line of defence against supernatural threats.

The leader of the Prefects is Tarkers VanDerSnoot of the Merlinical VanDerSnoots. They took a financial pounding when the bottom fell out of unicorn futures and he’s the first and only VanDerSnoot to have to attend a comprehensive, something that he hates. Composed, collected, dignified, with floppy blonde hair and a Hugh Grant accent, Tarkers cuts a dashing figure but beneath that cool, calm, collected exterior is a seething ball of resentment waiting to explode when he’s pushed too far.

Top 5: Gaming Weapons

1) .666 Hellbringer
Nothing, NOTHING says ‘I have absolutely no penis’ than an enormous hand-cannon chambered to a humorous and humungous round size. You could just about use one without going full-borg if you had enough other boosts. One shot, one kill, whether you were aiming at a person or an AV-4. Delicious.

2) Orcish Double-Axe
An insight into orcish psychology. If one axe is good, two axes is better. Misunderstood noble savage my arse, if orcs know one thing it’s how to fuck shit up and if they can do it with something as ridiculous looking as two axes glued together at the hilt then there must be something to it.

3) Rockpipe
So Tales of Gargentihr is a bit of an obscure game but even with that considered a weapon that starts off as a mining tool, is made of stone, fires bullets of rock and is powered by alcohol is a) amazing and b) shows just how far players are willing to go to have a gun, even if it’s terribly inefficient and you’d be better off with magic or a crossbow. Crazy buggers, the lot of ’em.

4) Automatic Crossbow
The ones in games aren’t that cool, because they only let you do one shot at a time. It’s still better than a longbow and beats all that slow-reloading mularky from normal crossbows but really, really, all we wanted it to be was that chunka-chunka-chunka crossbow from Hawk the Slayer. Hard to get a pic of that, here’s the next best thing.

5) Chainsword
There could hardly be a more impractical weapon than a chainsword which, essentially, ruins the whole point of having something as simple and unbreakable as a sword and would pull itself out of your hand as often as it hurt anyone, needing a sustained hit to do any real damage. Damn it though, there’s just something cool about chain weapons, sword, axe or anything else.


Another imminentish release, since I’m trying to produce short products while I work on longer projects in the meantime, is IRREPRESSIBLE! My homage game to Monkey Magic (because nothing represents Journey to the West better than a Chinese legend, made into a TV series by the Japanese and dubbed into English by the BBC).

In the game you will take the part of pilgrims, seeking redemption for the crimes that saw you cast out of heaven. In order to earn your redemption and reach enlightenment you will wander a mythic China and India doing good, battling monsters, solving problems and trying to find ways to do such in an enlightened fashion without necessarily resorting to bashing things with sticks though, of course, that can be a lot of fun too.

Characters are defined by two traits from the I-Ching, the Six Virtues of Buddhism and a scattering of their own, self-chosen abilities which can be anything from magic powers and weapons to particular skills or proclivities. Characters are also defined by their transgression, whatever it is that made the Emperor of Heaven see fit to cast them down to the mortal realm as a monster in the first place.

The game is designed to be played in episodes and uses a dicepool similar to poker dice or Yahtzee. The more dice you have the more chance of getting a good result, doubles, triples, runs or more and the higher total you get. Whoever gets the highest, wins the challenge. It’s easier to act in a way that goes against enlightenment and easier to lose virtue than to gain it, but there are longer term rewards to acting enlightened, rather than succumbing to ease and violence. Ultimately, you may even achieve Nirvana or become a Bodhisattva.

As a quick little example of the system – which is still being shaken down:
Monkey is facing off against the Demon King Chen in a martial contest, despite Tripitaka’s protests that he not resort to violence. Monkey’s Passion is high, taking him deep into the Yin, he rolls 4 dice for Passion, plus 1 for Earth, plus 1 for Thunder, plus 1 for ‘I love to fight!’ and plus 1 for his Magic Wishing Staff. Monkey is damn good at fighting and this gives him a total of 8 dice, which is INSANELY good. Since he’s using his Yin he’ll beat anything using Yang on ties but the Demon King is very much a Yin kind of enemy so that’s not going to help.
Demon King Chen is ‘Gigantic’ and ‘Powerful’, has three dice of Passion and a Magic Fire Axe which gives him another dice for a total of 6. Not an enemy to be sniffed at.

Monkey rolls: 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6 – The run 3/4/5 is the highest total, for 12.
Demon King Chen rolls: 2, 2, 5, 5, 5, 6  – The triple 5/5/5 is the highest total for 15.

Monkey is set-back in this battle and may have to come up with something clever in the second phase to win out! 

At the end of battle, win or lose, Monkey will slide his Passion down one because he took the unenlightened path.

Ian’s Updates

Tough Justice
Shadow World

Normal Universes Will Be Resumed As Soon As Possible

Please bear with us. Due to the repeated Livejournal DDOS attacks we are shifting to WordPress from now on for the hosting of the blog. You shouldn’t need to update your bookmarks but if you want to you should link direct to the WordPress blog by clicking on the title.

Thank you for your patience.

Outbreak REVEALED!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter then you know that I’ve been working on two SECRET PROJECTS over the last few months. One of those has already been revealed, the other is this one, OUTBREAK.

Outbreak is a sort of updated ‘choose your own adventure’ for the age of the mobile phone and the iPad. It’s a textual adventure, albeit with many of the accoutrements of more modern game forms, creating a form of interactive fiction which we think combines the best aspects of games and stories.

I have worked hard in this project to bring a tabletop-gaming sensibility and a personal touch to the story, to make it about more than simple slaughter of the infected, with investigative elements, a thought out background and a plausible interpretation of what might happen in such an event and where it might stem from.

Six chapters have been turned in already and we’re aiming for at least three times as many as that for release but the game has the potential to go on in almost an unlimited fashion. There are many side-elements that reveal parts of the plot and many items and codes that you might miss on a single play-through of the story. Hopefully people will find it engaging, exciting, sinister and worthwhile.

The company is a new start-up and is looking to gather some of the funding for the project through Kickstarter.* If you pledge some money you COULD even get immortalised in the story 🙂

This is a big project for me and my second foray into social gaming, so I hope people will lend some support and help us get it off the ground.

Playing Dark Sun

So we finally started our Dark Sun game this last weekend and the first half went really well. I started us out with the characters being gladiators, slaves sold to fight in the arena in Draj before the Sorcerer King. Between the set-piece dramatic fights there was some good RP and in-house intrigue an in the end they managed to both embarrass the Jasuan Knights in the arena and to escape the city to a life of freedom in the wilderness.

This part of the adventure worked really well but the second half, derived from Marauders of the Dune Sea didn’t work at all. The adventure as written fell flat and while I did a lot of work to make it fit into my overall plan it just didn’t work. Dungeons as a string of fights just don’t see to go well in 4e for some reason, even though they worked fine in previous editions and even though that seems to be how many of the adventures are set up.

So that’s something to avoid in future adventures and something I’m doubly, triply, happy we’ve avoided in many of the adventures that Postmortem has produced. Less big fights – and boss fights – interspersed with intrigue, puzzle-solving etc. Less is most definitely more.
I haven’t gotten to try all my modifications to the rules  yet but of those mentioned in previous articles:
Off the Grid: is a massive success and works far better than anticipated. It makes manoeuvre characters and leader  characters much more useful in combat and allows for dramatic and effective teamwork. I can see some problems coming up on a team basis due to the size of the group and the size of enemy groups but I’ll deal with that when I come to it. The potential problem being powers that give whole teams shifts/slides etc.
Karma: hasn’t come up yet and while it’s a good way to formalise RP rewards it may not be necessary, at least for our group.
Crafting: rules are only just coming up and seem to work OK. I definitely prefer the idea and the depth to the existing rules.

Tough Justice: Grim & Gritty

Now you can murder each other in Tough Justice, just as though it were a PROPER RPG!

Get it HERE for the great price of FREE!

Kynn Bartlett/Caoimhe Ora Snow, Heartbreak & Heroines – and more genuine heartbreak

I will present this initially without comment, but only with context. Commentary will come later.
This is a serious issue only tangentially related to RPGs so if you’re drama averse you should probably skip it.
If you know Kynn (@dazedsaveends on twitter) you should probably read this.
If you backed or were thinking of backing Heartbreak & Heroines you should probably read this.

The sources are:

Comment later, but the context is that Kynn is a hyper-critical individual and a self-appointed net-warrior for feminist and LGBT issues in gaming (and elsewhere). These accusations may be false for all we know, but given the context it’s probably worth at least making people aware.

Item One