Friday, 27 May 2011
Episode 1- Part 2 – The Sins of the Past
Kheralin and Brilliant Light of the Woods (the player retconned the name resplendent trout) where outside the inn in Turg. They could hear the patrons shouting Dorn's name. Inside they found a packed crowd about a table where there were two men passed out surrounded with empty flagons. They spotted Falling Rain, Aisha and Red Echo. All were appalled by Dorn's behaviour. Together they carried the drunk barbarian out and to another inn where they were to stay. Kheralin explained that in the morning they had a meeting to attend with the mayor of Turg.
During the rest of the evening the group sat and talk at a bar, while Kheralin remained at the inn to watch over Dorn. It was agreed that the best way to make it to Khacin was under the guise of travellers going to the tournament.
It was while walking back to the inn that the group heard shouts from the mercantile quarter. On the way there they could see that the noise was coming from the Guild compound. But Rain spotted some large hulking figure with long arms leaping away from rooftop to rooftop. Rain chased after, free running up onto the rooftops, and started chasing the creature. But his chase ended quickly, as he stumbled, failed to grab the ledge, and plummeted down into a barrel of rain water run off. Some nearby children helped him out, and tipped over the barrel.
Meanwhile, Aisha and Light spoke to the guards of the compound, and were met by the old, bearded, merchant in charge who assured them it was just a thief. Light was unconvinced and so with Echo waited for Rain. Rain returned to them, soaking wet. Aisha had left to run to the inn to get Kheralin.
Rain and Light sneaked into the compound. They ran from shadow to shadow, but their footprints were spotted. In a flurry of slashes and thrusts, Light and Rain took out the guards. From outside the gate, Echo, who was not one for sneaking about, or running in without backup, noted that the lantern carried by the guards could not be spotted moving between the gaps in the wooden planks of the compound gate. Things had obviously gone wrong.
Rain and Light found where the animals were kept. They could here the whimpers of people and Light could see people in cages. This was illegal and disgusted him, especially considering his recent loss of family. Light strode forward and launched himself at on of the guards, who were sat playing dice. He drove his spear through the first, while the second fled. Rain released the animals while Light released the slaves. They learnt that a monster, or demon had attacked. And that it had metal claws and no eyes.
In the main courtyard of the Guild compound there was chaos as animals an slaves ran about. Light went to find the merchant while Rain went into the buildings looking for things of interest. He found the finance books and a few maps, of which a number of tombs were marked.
Outside Kheralin, Aisha and Dorn arrived. Echo nodded to the compound, shrugging as if he was not to blame. Kheralin leapt up onto the wall effortlessly, and balanced there with her bow at he ready. Dorn charged forward, smashing the gate of its hinges and causing the merchant and his men to look on in terror.
The group held the merchant to account for his actions, and they looked at his stock and his books. In exchange for all he knew and some goods they allowed his misdemeanor to slip. They found out a child had been stolen from the group of slaves, and so the group returned to their inn, now with a cart of swag. Rain suggested that they can now travel to Khacin as traders. Especially since Aisha was a member of the Guild. Rain also suggested they leave as soon as possible. However, Light, still fuming, demanded they save the missing child.
The group made their way out of the town, and out into the dark fields, heading towards the hills where the monster had headed towards. Dorn waited for his familiar, a large brown bear called Grunsen, to join them. With wagon hidden and scent marked by the bear, they headed further into the woods.
For an hour or more they walked over the rough terrain until the bear led them to a cliff face. Along the way they noted large pieces of metal were embedded in the ground and over grown with moss. They walked around to get to the bottom cliff. There the bear acted with caution, and Dorn noted the air was tinged with the smell of death. There was a breeze, and it seemed to come from the entrance of a cave. Going inside the cave mouth they could hear a metallic whirring with the near cyclic sucking and expulsion of air. Using his essence, Rain made his caste mark glow, and it was clear the cave mouth was only recently opened, and inside the cave was in fact a tube like tunnel, ending in a round portal, surrounded in a cog like bulkhead. Beyond was a stairway leading down.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
A player obviously has certain goals they wish to achieve in a game. Having fun is number 1. Feeling that they have participated in a good story is another. They also wish to see their character achieve certain milestones and follow a certain plot arc. But then some players like the challenge of just beating the game, or solving all the riddles etc.
However, there can be times when the objectives of the player can be in conflict or not in keeping with the character they are playing. Or when the player has bled over into the character. The player then starts to make decisions, or take actions that conflict with how the character was designed. The player has begun to metagame and is letting out of character knowledge or opinions influence the characters own actions.
What does this mean in play? Well it could mean that a character is acting too aggressively because of player frustration or opinion. Or it could mean that the character gets into too much action simply because the player chases any form of plot they percieve, simply because they believe they should. It can also mean that a character can act in ways such that they do not pursue risky behavior even though it is in the character's nature to do so.
How do we get around this? Well it means being more mindful of the character's nature. More mindful of the things they love, hate, fear, and find interesting. It means putting the character in harms way when as a player you know that it foolish to do so. Or even the opposite scenario, and having the character refuse certain actions even though you as a player are aware that doing so hinders the plot.
However, staying true to the character motivations enriches the story, and they are challanges that should be overcome through roleplay. So if a character has a fear then it should be roleplayed out can act as a milestone. Or perhaps they are an addict. Or may even socially inedpt and must learn to be at ease with others. And it may even mean the character coming close to or even dying. But then even a character death is rich with plot and should be properly explore so that the death has meaning. This envitable fate can in fact be a joy to roleplay out.
This ultimately means the goal post for the game. Winning is not about beating the bad guys, it's about telling a compelling story, even if it means putting the character through a hell you as a player would not even want.
The world has some sort of magic fueled industrial revolution. Some bad ass magitech has gone wrong and it's up to you to find out. There are rather wordy flashback dream sequences to explain more about your immortal (yes you are immortal but the reason hasn't been revealed yet). And of course there are the monsters that attack at random points.
Then there are little things like how skills are learnt by linking immortals to the mortal characters, or the creation of 'rings' which use different components that are collected, and are then used to modify combat i.e. elemental attacks etc. These rings appear in combat as a way to make the player more involved. You pull the trigger as the attack is played out. This causes a ring to shrink about another ring, all centred upon the target of the attack. The aim is to get a perfect overlay. So it is a bit like have a gun blade from Final Fantasy 8. Combat also allows for careful targeting of enemies to cause the enemy to be delayed in their action i.e. casting etc.
Now this could sound like a bit old and dated. I guess it is a little. But then there are a few things I like about the game.
The setting is well designed, and looks vibrant. The party is interesting. The turn based system is easy and more then just pressing A (fuck you FF13). There are enough bits of info to get from people standing around, but they are nice bite size chunks.
So it just plays as a good jrpg. Good mechanics, good setting, no annoying characters. It may not be revolutionary but I think in general rpgs such as this and Mass Effect, Fallout 3, FF13 etc haven't been that revolutionary or changed much in the last 10 years. But I still stand by the fact that I want to be rewarded for the right tatics, and not being hindered when mashing together game genres (you Mass Effect, I'm looking at you).
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Yeah.... this e-book has gone global.... and it isn't finished yet... gulp
Friday, 20 May 2011
Ummm so yeah... I think exalted is basically this.... without the cat people.
The Immaculate Order is the state religion of the Realm, a more formal and organized outgrowth of the Immaculate Faith that originated during the Shogunate era. The Immaculate Order grew hand in hand with the Realm, providing theological legitimacy to the Scarlet Empress rule .
The Immaculate Philosophy is a fatalist, caste-based theology. The central tenet of the faith is that everything inCreation has an assigned role ranked by its ability to control essence. Humans are superior to animals, andDragon Blooded are superior to human, and Dragon Blooded are themselves required to husband and expand their essence-manipulation abilities to achieve greater enlightenment. An individual who lives a virtuous life is consequently reincarnated as a progressively more powerful essence wielder until they emulate the lives of theImmaculate Dragons, the five heroic Exalted who deposed the Anathema.
The Immaculate Philosophy also emphasizes the same roles and obligations for Gods. Under Immaculate teachings, mortals do not speak to Gods, intercession and priestly duties are handled by the Dragon Blooded, who as essence-wielders are better equipped to do so.
Practically, the Immaculate philosophy encourages obedience and worship exclusively of the Dragon Blooded; by following their example and obeying their orders, a faithful follower ensures that he will eventually be reincarnated as one. Immaculate followers therefore do not worship Gods or their Ancestors, and the faith itself is strongly aniconic - Immaculate art frowns upon accurate representations of living things as that smacks of idolatry.
The Immaculate Order is a monastic faith, the basic visible arm of the religion are Immaculate Monks also called "immaculates". Monks, who can be either mortal or Dragon Blooded, study, train and meditate in communal monasteries. Immaculate monks also provide spiritual and social support for the community, they run religious services, and aid the poor and ill. Immaculate monks are required for a variety of rituals - from speaking a child's name to officiating marriages.
In addition to cloistered monks, the Immaculate order sponsors traveling monks. These monks will walk circuits among multiple villages, providing spiritual comfort and officiating over ceremonies as needed. The faith also sponsors special internal agents, called Itinerants who monitor the Order for heresy and criminal activity.
Rank within the order is ill-defined in Exalted supplements. The head of the order is the Mouth of Peace, below her are monastery abbots and other senior officials, although little is said about how they are promoted or recognized.
The Immaculate Order is an arm of the state, receiving a religious stipend from the Treasury every year. In addition, the order receives tithes and donations from the faithful which serve as the bulk of its operational funding.
While an arm of the state, the order operates semi-independently, often serving as the conscience of the Dragon Blooded. Immaculate monks will side with the peasantry over abuses by their lords, and the Order has a well deserved reputation for passive resistance. However, since the monks are also the finest practitioners of Terrestrial martial arts in the Realm, they are more than capable of defending themselves when necessary.
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Episode 1 – The Sins of the Past
The fires of Wai’hl still burned and the dead all lay about them. Falling Rain looked on at the metal dart, this thing that fell from the sky, and marvelled at its design and how it carried men within like some pod from a tree. The surface of the dark metal was now lifeless. But where essence had glowed he could make out what looked like writing not to different to the glyph language of Old Realm. Rain pointed it out to Red Echo, who noted that he had seen that language a lot on the on the magitech of Lookshy.
Rain and Echo were then alerted to sounds of people approaching behind them, and they were met by a number of surviving villagers who held makeshift spears. They also pushed forward Aisha, who like Echo and Rain was still surrounded by her glowing anima. All three were no longer glowing like they had before, but it was still present and taking time to die away. They also noted that they all bore the mark of the Sun on their foreheads.
The men before them demanded to know where their families and friends had been taken. They accused them of being demons, and that they had led the attackers here. They also called them Anathema and demanded that they leave. By this point the group of Exalts were joined by Dorn. The brute was unimpressed, and once more the villagers accused them of being demons. Dorn, sickened by this punched the man and sent him flying, leading to the man slamming to his death on the side of a house.
Drawn by the light and the sounds of arguing, Kheralin and Resplendent Trout joined the group of Exalts. Kheralin demanded to know why the villager was dead, and was horrified to hear that Dorn had killed him. Rain calmed the group and suggested that they come to terms with the fact that they seemed to have become Anathema, but that the legends of the Anathema must be lies since he did feel demonic, but in fact the complete opposite. He asked the others if they had seen the flying citadel, and Echo mentioned that the only places to have such flying ships were the Haslanti and their hot air balloons, and of course Lookshy and its collection of First Age sky ships. Dorn also mentioned that only in the far North that he had seen crossbows, but clearly their attackers were not from the Haslanti League. Rain explained that the attacker’s mode of arrival bore the same language, or a variant, of Old Realm. However, it was similar to that which Rain had seen on the ancient buildings of Khacin, in particular the arena known as the Circle of Blood.
It was as they were discussing this that some of the group noted a small bird made of crystal land upon the shrine made of twisted metal. The bird unfolded and formed a man with avian features and composed of blue crystal. This figure presented itself as Sapphire Talon, the local god of the village, and that he had been waiting for the Exalts for a long long time. He explained that he was once privy to the Loom of Fate and that he learnt that he must wait in the village for their arrival. Rain felt contempt for this god. How dare such a being put fate above the needs of the villagers. Sapphire Talon simply said that it was for a greater good and that even the Loom of Fate had not predicted everything. He commented that there were six of them, and that there should have just been 5. He also noted that they missing one of their circle, the Zenith caste.
Sapphire explained that the kingdom of Khacin has a prophecy concerning them, which was belived false, while another prophecy has formed the backbone of the Khacin faith. Rain knew of by hear the prophecy that Khacin clung to.
And cometh the times of the
Blackened Suns, the fears of the past.
And in the heart of the den shall
Blood shall pour, grey to crimson,
And the Tiger’s roar shall sing out
This prophecy was written by one of the first priest of the Grey Tiger when Khacin was founded. By this false prophecy now makes more sense if fate is being altered. The false prophecy was written by a son of the royal bloodline of Khacin. He was blinded and after this event had written many such prophecies in his madness.
For the ship is lost as the stars flow
The Sun shall rise in its path, its light will show,
And they cometh, the key piercing the loss
And it shall cometh, its maker, and with its host,
Shall the hunter weep with tears of
Grey silver, in the time of fears.
Sapphire Talon then handed over to Trout a disc of jade. It was made up of concentric rings and bore the language of the Old Realm upon it. Sapphire Talon said that it was theirs and that his task was done. As he crumbled to dust and nothing more the disc opened up to form a globe of these rings rotating. It glowed with essence and showed the stars as they were now, and for a moment flickered to show the stars as Rain knew they should be.
Rain asked for the others to help with the burial of the villagers, and the survivors looked on and eventually helped. Rain salted the bones and committed their bodies to the 5 Dragons and the Grey Tiger. With respect to the dead invaders Rain found that behind the masks they were human, but upon their foreheads were gems. Aisha pulled one out, noting how it had been attached by prongs that were driven in. Aisha was also able to tell that the crystal was similar to a Yasal crystal, and so as a test Rain suggested that they leave the body out while the others are salted and cremated. As night fell and passed they seemed to confirm their theory that somehow the crystal had captured the soul.
In the morning, the group gathered together to leave the village for the town of Turg. It was 2 days travel on horse. Arriving in Turg they found the town was in the grip of carnival fever as the excitement wa
s growing surrounding the annual martial arts tournament in Khacin. In the streets people were watching show fights, fire breathers and knife jugglers. There was much talk of the town heroes who would be going to take part in the tournament.
Dorn had gone into the town on his own, as it was thought a better option that the troupe split up for their own safety. Dorn was initially stopped by the guards but eventually let through as they recognized him as the once famous gladiator. Rain got Aisha and Echo in as Rain once more acted like the monk he once was, blessing the guards as they passed. Kheralin and Trout simply passed in as Kheralin showed the guards her badge of office. The two of them then made their way directly to the mayor’s house where she got an audience.
The rotund and belching mayor listened to her words in horror. He mentioned the beams of light that the night watch had seen a few nights back, and he said that he would dispatch scouts to go and see the village to confirm her news. But while they wait the mayor asked that they and any companions of theirs should remain in the town and so he gave her some money to pay for lodgings.
Meanwhile Echo was in a bar drinking and smoking. The last few days had been eventful and he had to write. But what should he write? It was while sitting there he heard something in the crowd. A voice. And it spoke as if right next to him. It spoke the word ‘Anathema’. But as he looked about he saw no one. Moments later he was joined by Aisha and Rain who had become concerned that their lumbering brute of a friend may be saying too much.
In another bar Dorn was engaged in a drinking game with a local god, Red Pelt. Both the god and Exalt were getting very very drunk. The others had found them and Rain called upon his anima powers to cloak himself and thus spike Red Pelt’s drink. The god collapsed and then soon after Dorn collapsed.
Overlooking the ruins of the city of Thorns watched a cloaked figure. It looked on with a mask of ice. In his obsidian chamber he was disturbed by the presence of another. His fingers cracked and turned in upon themselves, his hands inverting, and the mask upon the rear of his head came to life. The Mask of Winters beckoned his servant forward. His servant spoke and begged for forgiveness that they had not recovered the missing. But the servant offered something to the Mask. Into the Mask’s large hands the servant placed a gem, the same as that which Aisha had taken from the dead raiders. The Mask looked at the gem.
‘Interesting...’, and the Mask gave a long cackle.
Friday, 13 May 2011
World of Darkness Online and WoDNews.net
The first episode focused on World of Darkness Online!
Mike reveals that he's been cheating on the World of Darkness. Chris introduces listeners to City of the Damned: Manchester and Venice Unmasked. Mark tries to influence the Consensus and create Mage 20th Anniversary.
The triple threat goes through way too much news with more tangents than a Pooka on speed. Mark follows this up with a Secret Frequency about "The Hum," a strange phenomenon found throughout the entire world.
Following this our new WoD Online correspondent Harlequin of wodnews.net gives us all the facts about the upcoming MMO and some speculation. It's an exciting segment and the most comprehensive summary of World of Darkness online so far.
For the best World of Darkness Online info, check out www.wodnews.net/
Chris's NWoD work can be found on his blog: http://ethericlabs.posterous.com/#!/
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Prologue - Exalted
It is the Realm Year 769, the spring of Ascendant Wood. Near the northern edge of the Hundred Kingdoms, is the Kingdom of Khacin. This kingdom is one of warriors, and ruled by an elite family of warriors, Dragonblooded. The kingdom sits along a tributary to the Lesser Rock River, and is famous for its exports of Tiger’s Courage – a special brew of sake – and shards of the unbreakable metal known simply as Diamond Shards. The kingdom is so skilled in warfare that it holds an annual martial arts tournament, and its troops form some of the most famous mercenary armies.
Towards the mountains, where mystic monks make their home, is the village of Wai’hl. This village is lucky to be near the fresh water from the mountains, and its population is also safe from the predations of the Hyena men on the plains.
It was morning as the ragged traveller, Falling Rain, rode into town. Rain was hungry and in need of rest having fled his home in the capital of Khacin. More importantly he needed to keep a low profile. He led his horse in to the town past the villagers who were working. The smith’s forge was ringing out the sound of hammered metal, and in the town square the shop owners were selling their wares and preparing loads to be taken to the next town and onto the city. Rain tied up his horse at the inn and made his way in passing the other curious man in the village. Sat outside on the porch of the inn was Red Echo. He was dressed in military garb and was obviously not from Khacin but from the Lookshy. He had a shock of red spiky hair and was sat writing in his journal while smoking opium. He conducted himself with strict precision, both in how he smoked his pipe and how he wrote. Rain then returned to the porch and a table was set out before him where the inn keeper served him rice and meats for breakfast.
Elsewhere in the village Resplendent Trout was performing his sacred duties and preparing salves and ointments for sale from his family home. The town messenger Kheralin was taking it easy at her home, grooming her horse and polishing her riding gear. She had only returned from Khacin the other evening.
In the town market the guild trader, shaman and seer, Aisha, was once more peddling her wares and reading people’s fortunes. Aisha had also taken note of the curious arrangement of gods in the region. Khacin had its city god, the Grey Tiger Kha Alahan. This town had its own minor god, Sapphire Talon, another god of the hunt. Aisha had learnt that the shrine of Sapphire Talon was a collection of twisting metal pipes made of the same strange metal dug up in the region. The pipes would hum with the wind. Aisha had also concluded that it would be worth getting more trade for the Guild and that this find would make her a lot of money.
Another strange local was the northern barbarian, ex-gladiator, and now game keeper, Norn. Compared to the locals he stood an entire foot taller and had long white hair and a beard. He often would aid the villages in its defence against raiders and beastmen.
That evening in the inn Aisha was sat drinking with Echo. She already had got used to the one sided conversations she would have with the mercenary captain. Trout was sat, as usual, playing his harp, and Norn was engaged in arm wrestles. Kheralin spoke to the inn keeper and bought the bottle of apricot brandy he had recently been sold by traders.
Rain went to sit with Aisha, thinking it be better to sit with the outsiders, and was then joined by Kheralin. Rain asked her about the roads about the village and what route he could take next. He learnt that this was the most extreme part of the kingdom, and that to go on further would require scrambling up into the mountains.
Norn, somewhat intoxicated, wondered up to the group of strangers and challenged Echo by trying to steal his journal. Echo did not back down and after a tussle Norn had fallen on top of a table and sent drinks flying. The inn keeper broke the fight up and sent Norn home.
Later that night once everyone was home and asleep, Rain was sat watching the village. He could see the lanterns of the town watch patrolling. He looked up at the stars and spotted something amiss. The constellations of were somehow wrong, especially the Ships Wheel. It was then against the disc of the moon a floating citadel on a floating rock appeared. The air then hummed and soon the village erupted in chaos as large darts of dark metal crashed down.
One dart landed in the village square and Rain could see that the sides were etched with a language similar to that of Old Realm, and they glowed an eerie green. The sides of the dart opened and out stepped 5 men, dressed head to toe in dark leather, metal armour plates, and a full metal face mask and goggles (see above). They also carried strange weapons from which arrows were fired. Another carried a cylinder on his back and a hose, from which a flame flickered. Rain readied his two swords.
Woken by the screams, Echo leapt into action, donned his clothes and armour, and grabbed his swords and made his way down out of his room in the inn to find Rain standing there looking on. Echo asked what happened. ‘They came from the skies’ replied Rain. Echo readied his great sword.
Elsewhere in the village, practically naked save for his fighting gauntlets, Norn was already in the streets fighting, watching the attackers raid homes and taking people away. From the citadel a number of floating boats descended. Norn was easily able to crush heads with his fists.
Kheralin was also fighting, taking aim with h
er bow, covering the escape of some villagers, looking on in horror as gouts of flame engulfed homes.
Trout was charging raiders with his spear. He impaled and slashed at them, leaping forward to drive it through the next man.
Aisha had got out of the inn to find Rain and Echo cutting through the attackers. Rain was quick and slashing in all directions, while Echo hacked men in half and cleaved heads off. Aisha saw her chance to flee and help other villagers.
It was then that something stirred in all of them. Something erupted within their souls. They heard it speak. ‘I am the Unconquered Sun! You are my chosen. This path was not given but it is now yours. You are Exalted and this world’s heroes!’
All felt power course through themselves. The air shimmered about them, and their foreheads burned with the power of their caste mark. From each their anima banners exploded, sending up a column of light a mile into the night sky. The air about Trout exploded with light which deflected arrows. Norn caused soldier to flee in terror from his bear like anima banner. Both Rain and Kheralin felt their animas erupt and twist inwards, hiding them in shadows as they fought. Echo was now a lord of battle as his anima took shape as a roaring griffon. Aisha felt power flow through her and her hands knitted together the injuries of the villagers.
The raiders then fled, taking what slaves they had captured, and returned to the floating citadel on their flying skiffs. The last to leave was also crewed by an imposing figure in black. A monster of a man with burning purple eyes and a huge axe in the form of half a cog.
For Trout, Kheralin and Norn this was not the end as they saw friends and family taken away and killed.
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Womanimal: The Freaky Beauty of Half-Human, Half-Animal Creatures = Changelings #whitewolf #changeling
Cool, but equally ew!
So here is an exercise in episode design for a one shot game, in particular so that James, down on the Isle of White, can run a session for his new group of gamers.
So first up in episode design is the pitch. What is the concept of the episode and its aim? What is the Theme and Mood? What story element should be present? A pitch should be able to sum up the episode in a few sentances.
For this episode it is;
'On an island a group of people from various backgrounds must content with the horror of an entity from the seas and the mystery that surrounds its attacks on them. Help is not possible as they are alone and so must rely on each other and their wits, or worse, use each other selfishly in order to escape.'
With that pitch done we can now think of the structure of the episode.
The episode has around 5 to 7 scenes.
- This scene is the setup. Character introductions and the establishment of the location and any form of weirdness, but nothing to crazy, just something to spring on the more observant characters.
- Escalation of the plot.
- Further escalation and introduce the threat.
- Escalate the mystery and allow for a degree of investigation.
- Further threat, and now introduce a degree of urgency in the plot.
- Further investigations leading to finale
- Finale, final threat and conclusion.
So now we have an idea of scenes lets also remember that there are scenes here that can be skipped and altered mid game to suit our needs. This is merely a guide, not a set route.
So lets think about the entity. It is a creature of the sea. So lets make use of what is in the Book of Spirits.
Spirits embody the meaning a place, a creature and place. Spirits can effect the things that give them power even when on the other side of the Gauntlet. Spirits can then attempt to cross the Gauntlet where it is thin, or where there is some form of gateway, like a verge. Once on this side of the Gauntlet spirits can exist either materialized or in the state of Twilight (much like ghosts). Spirits also have access to other powers, such as numina. Spirits can also possess people to various degrees.
Spirits can also be strange things that are the amalgam of two spirits. These hybrids cause things to act irrationally due to the merging of different concepts into the spirits. Image what would happen if spirit was both of a tree and of a computer!
Spirits are often dangerous and appear at places where there is a locus (a hole between the worlds) or a verge. These places can be attuned to a particular resonance and so influence people in subtle ways when people are near to the loci and in its area of effect. Loci are also places where spirits can feed on essence and refuel themselves.
So what else can we consider? Well spirits can ebody the myths of old gods. So lets take for example Tethra, a sea goddess and Formori.
Another interesting feature is that some spirits can form broods (rather than just eating each other to gain power).
Also spirits suffer from bans, and from holy relics and exorcism.
What is in Book of Spirits we can use straight away? Well there are items and merits for mortal characters to use. Then there are the lists of premade spirits and rules to make your own.
There is an example spirit of a pool which with a rework could be a water spirit of the coastline of the island. There is also a crocodile spirit that can be modified. There is a Water Horse, who is an elemental spirit.
So how can we use all this?
Lets have it that the spirit is acting out due to something on the island being disturbed, or that the spirit is being manipulated by another human through magic or some relic.
Other books to consider. Second Sight, Reliquary, Mysterious Places, Ghost Stories, Inferno.
Monday, 9 May 2011
CIAO CIAO, this is a (very late) character backstory for Clio in Changeling. I started to write this before we started playing, but then I had a little (big) creative block with her and wanted to play a few sessions so I could get a better feel of the character... then I didn't have the time or motivation to finish this until now. I wanted to get it out of the way before we do a Changeling oneshot or start season two. Apologies for the epic... I wanted to write a decent story and then it became bloody Lord of the Rings... Still. HAVE FUN READING, IT'S GOOD I PROMISE
Signorina Katerina Rosa Zenarro was born into a middle-class life in Venice, in the year 1734. Her father, Signor Giovanni Zenarro, was a glassmaker and a widower; Katerina's mother had died giving birth to her second a child - a son who was stillborn.
Katerina was a pretty child, but she was also a tomboy, lacking in airs and graces. As a teenager, she was shy and awkward at social functions - her father despaired that she was not ladylike. He loved his daughter dearly, but worried for her future ability to find a good husband. From her 18th birthday, Katerina was forced to attend etiquette lessons, in an effort to mould her into a more acceptable marriage prospect. By 22, she was a fully-fledged young woman, at least by appearance, curtseying her way through parties and impressing the gentlemen. Katerina was always confused about her father's guidance - he wanted her to enjoy her life and be happy, but not to the extent that she would blindly follow her passions. He expected her to stand up for herself, but also obey her future husband's wishes, whatever they may be. This mass of contradictions caused Katerina to remain a quiet, almost passive individual, nodding and smiling to potential suitors and doing as she was told, afraid to take the wrong path. Despite this, no marriage proposals came to fruition, and Katerina's downfall came during a masquerade at Carnevale, thanks to an excess of wine and a strong sense of curiosity.
In the midst of the ball, Katerina was propositioned by a mysterious masked man, and escorted to a secluded room in the palazzo. The man, it transpired, was none other than Giacomo Casanova, who at the time was around age 32. The encounter, from Katerina's perspective, was mostly painful - she had assumed it would be, but knew that next time it would be different. Filled with a newfound excitement, she wondered if Casanova might call on her again. This did not happen, and Katerina felt dreadful for weeks, imagining how terrible she must have been for him not to visit her.
Two months or so later, Katerina was troubled in the night by agonising pain in her abdomen, and something wet soaking through her nightgown. Her father was working late, and alone in the house, she struggled to her feet. A shaft of light poured through the window; stepping forward, Katerina could see that her nightgown was stained red. Shaking, she reached to her writing desk, grasping a letter-opener, and tore the blade down the front of her skirt. The blood poured down her thighs, the pain escalating. Katerina cried in agony, the letter-opener clattering to the floor. She knelt down slowly, only vaguely aware of what was happening - she was with child, and suffering miscarriage. She clutched at her stomach as the blood continued to flow, and slowly lost consciousness.
She does not remember waking up; only the water, not surrounding her, licking over her limbs. But somehow filling her, even though she would never have imagined drowning to be like this. Her body felt... almost like nothing, like pins and needles all over. She could taste the water, salty, but she was not choking. Slowly, she regained feeling, starting with her toes and ending with the tips of her hair. She was soaked through - no, she WAS underwater. Her eyes opened, stinging through the murky depths, and it took her a few moments to realise she could hardly breathe. Instinct pushed her towards the surface, and finally her head rose above, oxygen reaching her lungs.
It happened this way every time from then on. Katerina was a nymph, created from the water itself. For much of the day she lay dormant, trapped, in the lagoon. At night, she would return to her human form and be watched by dozens of visitors through glass walls.
Her Keepers were a pair of twins with handsome, yet cruel faces and blue hair. They referred to her as The Siren, and she was instructed to perform for the visitors - that is, sit by the lagoon and sing for their pleasure. Katerina did not know she had an especially good singing voice, but here it sounded ethereal and majestic. The visitors would comment on this and her stunning looks.
She would beg her Keepers for release, sometimes crying tears during her siren song, but the onlookers would only say how much more beautiful it made her seem. She begged to at least be released from the water, even for a short period of time.
The twins, with their sympathetic expressions and soft voices, appeared to be understanding. They relented that yes, The Siren could be released from the water for three hours every night - but her body, during that time, would not belong to her.
Katerina was used as a whore during those three hours, by the Fae who had come to see her sing. The clients would drop coins into the lagoon, wishing for particular sexual acts or scenarios that Katerina would then be obliged to fulfil. First she would be sent to a secluded dressing room, provided with a wardrobe of beautiful gowns, and ordered to adorn herself fully, from corset and stockings up to powder and rouge. The wardrobe's contents may have felt familiar to her if not for the shimmering fabrics, the indescribable intricacy, the colours that she could not name. Sometimes she would be used by her Keepers - one of the twins was wild and vicious and wished her to lie there meekly, letting him do as he pleased. The other twin was gentler, instructing her to always be dominant over him. This was difficult for Katerina, being pulled this way and that, and she found it hard to keep up with these contradicting demands. Despite this, she still began to savour the evenings as her only time on dry land. The sensation of her body being violated for pleasure was ecstasy compared to swirling, inanimate, under the water. As time went on, she would look forward to the clients who paid for her - even looked forward to spending time with her captors. She developed a form of Stockholm Syndrome, forgetting who she was when part of the water, and knowing only that she was otherwise a whore. She gradually came to be completely unaware of where she originally came from, concerned only with her existence in this strange world. She never considered whether or not she truly belonged there - there seemed to be no question that she did.
One night, one of the visitors dropped a coin into her lagoon that triggered a long lost memory - the coin was a Venetian ducat, and suddenly Katerina felt a strong sense of something - recognition, familiarity, or deja-vu - that told her things were not as they seemed. Once the seed of doubt had been planted in her mind, it grew over the course of the evening - entertaining her guests, she knew that she was supposed to be somewhere else.
Escaping from her prison was surprisingly easy. She had only to wait until her last client had rolled over, asleep - she had at least half an hour until she had to go back to the water, and the twins did not watch her closely if she was with someone else. They had become complacent about her contentment in her new role, and her ability to adapt to it. She dressed herself quickly in the gown and shoes she had been wearing earlier - she had no other clothes. She crept up to at least a dozen doors, certain that at least one must lead to a place outside captivity. There had to be an outdoors, somewhere. Behind some doors, she could hear laughter and music - she did not open those. Other rooms revealed silent expa
nses of darkness, nothing visible to the naked eye. The last door Katerina found was different - it swung open to show an avenue of tangled bushes, strewn with red and white roses. But the light was dim there, the breeze was cold, and the flowers were wilting. It was not an inviting pathway, but she knew now that there was no other choice. She could hear sounds in the corridor behind her - she stepped through onto the path and closed the door after her.
She stumbled along, occasionally glancing behind her at the door, until it faded out of view and she turned a corner down another, almost identical avenue. The sky above her was black, without moon or stars, but the low light seemed to exist still, coming from an unknown source. The breeze had become a wind, whistling and getting colder by the minute. The tiny dirt roads didn't look like a maze but they felt like one, as though they might continue on and circle round until she came back to where she started. Though disturbed by the idea of this, Katerina hurried on until something gave her pause. There was a slight parting in the bushes, a space where the roses grew more sparsely than anywhere else. Beyond the browning leaves, she could see a slab of wood almost camoflauged; the size and shape of a door, though it didn't seem to be attached to anything. Still, she could make out a doorknob.
Katerina considered a moment, listening to the wind howling around her and feeling it blister her ears; she was sure she wouldn't find the way back to the twins now, even if she'd wanted to go. She pressed forward, trying to avoid the thorns - she protected her face, but they caught on her hands, dress, ankles. Twisting the doorknob, she felt her gown tear as she forced herself through the doorway.
She came out in a tiny street, the door slamming shut behind her and a blinding light suddenly hitting her retinas. She was in Venice, but it took her a while to realise it, squinting against the sunshine and then recognising the dry, crisp air that was the city in February. People could be heard round the corner on the pavements, speaking in the Venetian dialect, but there were just as many English voices. Katerina wandered out from the alley and found herself on Calle Frezzaria, and she knew she should remember it, but it wasn't the same. Some of the buildings looked familar, but their frontage was different and strange. One of them even heralded itself as 'Hotel Casanova,' which both struck a chord in her heart and puzzled her. She accidentally bumped into people as she passed and apologised in Italian; they were dressed strangely, many were bundled into warm coats, but in styles she'd never seen before. Conversely, and even more confusingly, she saw people dressed in more familiar fashions, but they didn't look quite right. They held themselves in an odd way. They were wearing Carnival masks, standing on corners, drinking hot chocolate or wine.
As Katerina looked down, she realised that her gown didn't look as it had a moment ago. It looked closer to the costumes of the revellers before her - imitation silk with a cheap thinness that caused her to shiver in the winter cold. The embellishments were mere shiny baubles. The colour was a pale green.
As she walked through the crowds it was easy for her to be noticed by other Changelings - despite the fact that she blended in with all the tourists in San Marco. Katerina was escorted to the House of Autumn with one of its members, the goblin-like Little John, and thus was given a lesson in what had happened to her. Although she stayed at the House of Autumn for a time, it was eventually suggested that she may belong better to the House of Spring. Katerina's new name became Clio, something she could remember from a Greek myth when she was young - the name of a water nymph. As she began to adjust to her new reality, she got a job at the Florian Caffe, and moved into a small apartment by herself.
Clio's appearance to mortals is the same as it was when she initially grew up in Venice, as she has only aged two years. She has lightly tanned skin, dark brown eyes and long, almost-black hair.
Her mien presents as silver-green scales all over her body, webbed fingers and toes, and bright scarlet hair with blue eyes.
She often dresses in something simple and black in a classic, yet demure cut, and stiletto boots or shoes, with minimal jewellery. She wears her hair tied back for work, and otherwise down.
Clio has retained some of her personality from before she was taken - somewhat quiet, though she will raise her voice if need be, and is still getting used to the fact that women are allowed to speak their mind these days. She is fairly comfortable at parties and displays a good sense of etiquette.
Aside from this, she keeps a lot of things to herself and does not often talk to anyone about her feelings.
Since arriving back from Arcadia, Clio has been trying to understand love, as opposed to lust, which she is already well versed in. She is aware that as a Changeling, she cannot become pregnant, and so she knows that a 'typical' family life is beyond her. This is especially saddening given the loss of her own child all those centuries ago. In lieu of this unconditional love from an infant, Clio began to dream of finding her true love, but she has started to realise the possible futility of this idea. She is hardly normal, and she fears that a mortal man might not be able to understand her, however much she can try to be who she once was.
Her decision to join the House of Spring was questioned for a while by its members, since she did not often attend parties or seek any indulgences. But as she has relented and decided to show her face more often, she has begun to feel more like she belongs. Believing that she has been scarred too much by her time in Arcadia, Clio is currently unsure whether she can ever change and discover a 'normal' life, and the thought of devoting herself more fully to the Spring Court may be a natural progression.
Months of travel and hiding have take their toll upon Rain's previously neat, monastic appearance, as well as upon what money he was able to take when he fled. He is a little leaner now. His hair is longer and his once fine robes now tattered; almost unrecognisable as robes of office at all. He has ritual tattoos upon his forearms and back. He still carries the paired short swords he trained with in the martial religion - they have seen more practical use of late. His bearing is still proud however.
He is driven and determined, although prone to overlooking the needs of others, in favour of what he believes they need. He is educcated and knowleable and unlikely to hold back his opinion on any matter. He aggressively pursues his agendas and can be driven to violence through this. He is angry about the loss of his former influence and comfortable life, and this is turning to thoughts of revenge. He doesn't realise that he was largely responsible for his own downfall.
He is not afraid of a fight, seeing it as a way of displaying determination and conviction. It is however just one tool. He is willing to take acts that need to be done. He has family and friends remaining in Kachin, as well as a small number of followers who have remained loyal, perhaps from a belief in him, or perhaps simply because his return to power would favour them. His family are distancing themselves from their wayward son, however, and if he returns, his reception amongst them would be cold.
Falling Rain now carries a cold hatred of spirits and demons, as well as priesthoods. He resents that mortals are seen as lower and less important, whilst entities use 'enlightenment' and 'spiritual purity' as covers for brute power, and institutions cower before them in hope of favour. He suspects that there is a better way that can be found.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Note: My character's appearance is based on Genesis Rhapsodos (above; a main character in Crisis Core, Final Fantasy VII), who in turn was based on the likeness of J-Rock musician Camui Gackt. Echo is a homage to both Genesis' personality and that of his friend/rival Sephiroth (including their perceived 'idiosyncrasies' in fandom circles).
This a short bio - I will likely add to it as we get further into the game as I get to know Echo better.
History: Born into the Gens Karal family in Lookshy, Echo's original name was 'Daichi.' When he did not Exalt as a Dragon Blooded, he was considered a failure to the family - but was still expected to train as a soldier in his home city, to somehow make up for his shortcomings. Frustrated with the treatment he received from his own flesh and blood, and the notion that he would never be good enough for them, Daichi fled his duties and travelled to Nexus to become a soldier there, going by the name Aka Hibiki (Red Echo). He has since gained some notoriety as a captain. Most enemies refer to him as Red Echo; those more acquainted with him call him 'Echo.'
Appearance: Echo has red hair, which was previously in dreadlocks - typical of where he was from. As part of his rebellion against his family, he chopped off the length of his hair before running away. It is now styled sleek and short. He is almost 6ft fall with pale olive-coloured skin, and is well built.
Personality: Echo is extremely anti-social and is not very comfortable in situations other than training or fighting. He finds it difficult to understand other people, thanks to his lack of socialising - he becomes easily impatient and often speaks harshly or unjustly. However, he appears to have a sensitive side. He prefers 'quiet time' above all other things, so that he can write - he writes poetry, and can often be seen scribbling in a notebook which he carries with him at all times. He also keeps a journal. He will write when in company, rather than contribute to the conversation. He does not like people to see what he writes.
Echo is fairly OCD about his appearance, and can often be seen fixing his hair, or adjusting his uniform, though it is less about vanity and more about him looking capable at all times. In battle, he is cold and uncompromising, often merciless towards his enemies.
He has what he refers to as a 'mild opium addiction.'
Personal life: Echo has no significant others as yet, he is far more concerned with being a soldier and otherwise keeping to himself. He is aware of the facts of life, but he does not see the merit in fraternising with the opposite sex, aside from procreation. It is likely that he has had sexual relations before, but feels that they are a distraction.
Mass Effect. A quick one word conclusion. Yawn. Yes really. In a galaxy where the pj jump suits of ST:TNG have been modified with armour but still make you look like you are just waiting for the Saturday morning toons to come on, our hero, a special operative, with freedom to do all that is needed to make the galaxy safe, is reduced to goddamn courier missions just to get stuff that by all rights everyone should be handing over (unless of course they are hiding it on purpose). It makes me cry. I thought we had left these types of games in the past with KOTOR.
Maybe I am being unfair? It has a star studded collection of voice actors, and a nice diversity in game play (roleplay investigation, fps and tanks). But it feels all too flat, cardboard, contrieved. Why do I have to take the pirates out on the ground? I have a ship in orbit ffs! And do not get me started on the fps bit where all my shots are meaning less because I am penalized twice (my aim and then my character's shooting stats). WTF! This is why I hated Fallout 3 but at least you could just go into turn based mode and queue up some shots and let the game do the rest.
Don't get me wrong, the game is pretty. But the atmosphere is flat, the voice actors sound bored, and the setting is essentially nothing original (take B5, mix in the Necrons and some twileks and what may aswell be the Narn) and there you have it. No wonder I am going 'Renegade' in the game. Every fucking turn some turd who has info on my targets is holding it back in exchange for some service I can render. If only all I needed to do was make Sheppard just give them all blow jobs. At least it would make the plot line speed up and feel more urgent.
I do like some stuff. I like the galaxy travel and surveying worlds and choosing if some shit hole is worth an away team (surely I should have some fucking red shirts rather than 2 incompetent twats). But I think if the game was reskinned, where you had a reason to do all the shitty courier jobs (like not being apparently important) then maybe, just maybe it might be better. May also get rid of the fps. I am lazy. I like my game styles separated as each gives a different experience. I want to feel that my investment in the game (xp or personal skill) means something. Perhaps have a setting more original or pay for the license for a better one (Mass Effect would be awesome as Fading Suns, because then you could have sword fights and it could be like Assassin's Creed in space).
Looks - 3/5
Gameplay - 2/5
Plot - 2/5
For reference AC:Brotherhood Looks 4/5, Gameplay 5/5, Plot 5/5
[actual play] Changeling: the Lost #changelingthelost #whitewolf #changeling #worldofdarkness @darkerdaysradio
Changeling: the Lost
Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams
Episode 5 - Shadow - part 3
Following her premonition, and her shocking view of her future, Else led the motley to the where her boat was docked and together with Stitches, Sonata and Freki they headed south and east towards the Lido.
Arriving on the scene of the most recent death the motley began to scope out the luxurious hotel. The film producer had fallen to his death from the balcony of the fourth floor suite. He had hit the ground near the fountain in the gardens. Police were on the scene and a police tent was up over the body. Sonata once more called on his contracts, allowing fog to mask his movement, and for shadows to become darker and for his passing to be only shown by a trail of cigarette smoke stains. He inhumanely crawled over the walls of the garden and up the walls of the hotel to the roof where he crept to the balcony of the apartment and from where he watched the police taking photos and samples from the scene.
Stitches meanwhile attempted to gain access more mundanely as he approached the officers on guard and attempted to convince them the he was a police investigator and doctor. However, the police soon asked such questions that Stitches could not respond to, and he quickly backed away into the crowd before the situation got any worse.
While waiting, Freki and Else spotted something unusual. Freki detected the hint of turpentine in the air, and Else witnessed a man pass through the crowd, and noted that with each step his form bled into the ground. But the figure was soon gone and untraceable. It was while looking that they both spotted another stranger talking to one of the few reporters already on the scene. She was wearing a large fur coat, and rose vines were wrapped about her figure. She was indeed one of the Lost, known as Madame Rose Blood. She explained that she has the ear of the media and took the motley elsewhere to talk. She revealed what little details she knew about the death from the reporters, and that she surprised that the House of Autumn had sent a motley so soon. Else revealed her prediction, and so in response Rose contacted Malvolio, her new superior since the death of the last Duke of Spring.
Malvolio was awoken by the knock on the door to his chambers. He took the message and woke Clio, and explained what had happened and that she was needed with her motley and that he would join her. Together they dressed and left for the Lido.
Meanwhile Sonata had made his way into the hotel suite and was having a good look round. He had found the man’s diary, which was certainly quite the read, as the last few weeks’ worth of pages had turned into the most horrific mad ramblings. He had also located the man’s receipts and accounts. Hopefully there would be some sign of the paintings being the cause of all this. It was while in the lounge of the suite, that Sonata was confronted by another. The man had seemingly come from the main door to the suite, and appeared to be another investigator. But then the man’s smile grew wide with pointed teeth, the room itself turned into the strange place of bleeding colours. The man dropped his brief case and from his ever growing darker form produced a bloody knife. ‘Time to cut your ribs out!’ it hissed.
Sonata made to steal the brief case, thinking he was the quicker, but as he ran he became dizzy, the figure flickered like a flame made of shadow, and Sonata found that his body could not run. He was tied down by the fear that wracked his body, and that it felt as though he was running though treacle. This nightmare had become real. Very real. The figure lashed out and the knife slashed across Sonata’s chest, causing a stream of crimson blood to trail out. Sonata turned to run away, but the distance to the balcony felt like a mile as the fiend cut at his back. Sonata flung himself over the balcony and ran, his feet sticking to the walls. He looked back and there was no sign of the creature, and the world was once more normal. He fled for the boat and the rest of his motley.
At the boat the motley were shocked to see Sonata, cut almost to ribbons. Stitches attended to his injuries and staunched the bleeding and eased the man’s pain. Eventually they were joined by Clio and Malvolio who were equally horrified by what Sonata told them. Malvolio called upon his contracts of Spring and breathed fresh life into the changeling, healing the wounds of Sonata. Stitches silently fumed as his rival had once more upstaged him.
Seeing the urgency of the situation Malvolio opened a gate into the Hedge and led the motley through, taking straight to the hotel, and from there up to the suite. Malvolio effortlessly removed the guards, calling on his Fairest contracts. Once within the suite they began to investigate further, revealing that the man had bought two painting. They found a locked room, and under his bed pillow there were signs of a vial of nightmare poison. Sonata was sure that the key lay in the mirrors of the room, but that was quickly dismissed as they motley made their way into the locked room. Inside they found the man’s art collection. There were many books but not the paintings they were looking for. It then dawn on them that the pillar in the middle of the room was in fact a secret room, and within were the two paintings and above a sky light.
The motley had figured that the clue was in ‘Sine Sole Sileo’, that without light the paintings did not work. That now that light had touched their surfaces that they were gateways to Arcadia. They had also discovered and concluded that the man who had painted them had done so as part of some pledge to save his wife, and that the cost had been his bloodline. It was a clever pledge but now finally enacted. They tore the paintings down and argued what to do. Some thought to destroy them, but realised to do so may well make things even worse. Others thought that they should just throw them to the depths of the Venetian lagoon. It was then that the fiend once more attacked. The painting flipped up from the floor and the clawed arms reached through to grab at Sonata’s legs. The others braced him and the fiend let go.
p; Malvolio told them to stay on guard as he went to call for help from the others of the Freehold. As he did so, they all looked on at the scene of the martyrdom of Saint Paul. In doing so Stitches was sure he could see deeper in to the painting. He could see the darkness if the forest, and then beyond the cave. Stitches looked about and realised the horrifying truth. He was in the painting on the path to the cave. Above him dark things shrieked and looked on with glowing eyes. And from the mouth of the cave came screams.
The rest of the motley looked on in disbelief as they saw that Stitches was no in the painting. Thinking quickly they searched the apartment for some sort of twine or ribbon and Freki and Else dived into the painting.
At the cave Stitches went in, and in the gloom of what little candle light there was he could see a man tied to a stone altar and behind him a large clock of bone. The dark fiend moved about the man. With its talon it etched out the Roman numeral for 12 on the man’s forehead and prepared to cut him open and take his ribs. Stitches rushed forward with, brandishing his iron dagger, and he was soon joined with Freki, the wolf like Beast snarling. They struck out at the fiend, even as the world around them swirled in madness as the fiend took control of his realm. Lashing out at the fiend it fled in terror as cold iron tore into it. Knowing that the clock was a device of evil Freki launched the random pebble the motley had made their pledge upon. It shown with fae light, more life an emerald than a pebble, and it struck the clock.
The clocked chimed. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. It then chimed out 13.
The clock crumbled, and fell to pieces. The group released the man and followed the ribbon all the way back to a pool where they saw Sonata and Clio, who had also fought hard not to fall into the other realm.
They escaped back into the real world and the painting fell silent. The gateways were closed. The nightmare was over and the rib killer gone.
On a sea of dreams, fear and nightmares the twisted galleon, the Leviathan, was battling against the elements. Onboard stomped the fearsome Fae Lord, Commodore Fathom. From his lobster liked mandibles he clicked and bellowed.
‘Come on you dogs! Full cover! To Venice!’
Friday, 6 May 2011
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Megatron wishes he had a touch screen surface!
OK. So I have a Sony Xperia X10. And I know some of you hated it when it came out.... boo hoo little phone. No Android 2.1, or 2.2 just lowly 1.6. Go away loser! Well anyway that is what some blogs basically said but then it got it's up grades and now is on 2.1, has multitouch and guess what? It will get an upgrade to 2.3 (fuck you HTC users).
Still better than any ugly HTC
Now I have had this phone for over a year, and my wife has had her iphone for the same amount of time. I like both really. I prefer mine as I can do a lot on it and the screen is a good size, it has expandable memory, I can write notes on it using Evernote, I can read pdfs on it which is good on the bus, I can tweet using tweet deck, I can watch any type of video on it. All great things. I use it as a main hub while my wife uses hers for the web, tweeting and well for phoning. She has an ipod so we use different things at different times.
But as much as I like reading on it, I want more, thus I have had the fortune of being able to order the new Asus Transformer. And I am excited. For starters it will make my life with pdfs easier by a mile. I read a lot of pdfs, and well using the phone for that at home is a bit stupid when the laptop is there. But the laptop doesn't feel natural for it, and it gets in the way of doing something creative, like writing on the laptop, or programming if I am at work. So the asus can be that other bit on the side, right next to me when writing, when making notes, so I can look at the files on it. It should come in great for both work and for roleplay. Plus the dock will make it even more useful when on a conference as it saves lugging the big ass laptop about, and makes it more fucntional for note taking and presentation making.
All in all quite excited. Just another 4 weeks to go... sigh.