Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Comfort Zones

Comfort Zones - everyone has them. Circles of activity that they do not normally venture out of, norms and habits that they often return to. The reasons for why a person's comfort zones I'm fairly sure differ depending on their life experiences and the multifarious things that build anyone's perceptions, thoughts, beliefs and whatnot.

As far as I'm concerned, my own comfort zones are lined by a mixture of sloth and pride. Pride, for the fear of being ridiculed in what I might attempt to do. And sloth, because I also know that to be good at anything, one must devote a certain level of time and effort into sharping the necessary skills for a particular activity. There are no born geniuses who are good at things out of the blue. All masters or even just adepts, attain their level of ability through a mixture of both talent and effort.

I am always uncertain what my talents actually are. And I know that I do not exert enough effort to sharpen my mind and body properly for many things, something which I both have a growing distaste and unease of spirit at. If I want to be at least half-decent at something, I need to exert a definite amount of effort and practice at it, no matter what activity this may be.

I hate it when the day goes by that I don't feel productive in some sense. And yet my sloth, my laziness, lets time flow through like sand. Too late do I rouse myself and simply feel disgust or annoyance at myself for letting a day go through without doing something that I should do, or could do. It eats at my heart, that part of me within that knows that this inactivity is of itself wrong because of the sheer waste and lack of meaning.

A few days ago I promised myself to be 'awesome', to use the word that many internet geeks so love to use. It is hard work to remind one's self to do things, to motivate one's self, with all the distractions that exist so easily around a person in this day and age. But that is the kind of person I need to force myself to become, to develop the habit and spirit of being forward moving, progressive, productive. Ever learning, ever doing, acting with purpose and meaning.

God help me, because I know alone this is well-nigh impossible to do. I will need reminders not only from myself, though I am the ultimate arbiter of my own fate and will, but from those around and close to me, because people learn and find strength from those who they chose to place close to their minds, hearts and souls. These variables are what I do pray for God's intervention in.

Strength and perseverance, discipline and humility.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

[Scion] Scrolls of Remembrance

Scion is a game of myth, a world of epic stories hidden beneath the veil of legend and set in the modern world. The name of my Scion series is titled, "Blood of Heroes" and originally consisted of four players, which grew to include 1 more. The sixth player will be joining in the second story arc. They are as follows:

[Original 4]

Toshi Oda - Scion of Hachiman (Louie de Guzman)
Nathan Suvari - Scion of Poseidon (Pepper Laforteza)
Rion Raios - Scion of Athena (Rob Ramos)
Bjorn Fuschild - Scion of Heimdall (Jacky Chan)

[New Blood]
Adolf -Scion of Loki (Monico)
Lightning Park - Scion of Tsuki-Yomi (John Benares)

The first Story Arc was divided into 3 Major Acts, loosely based on the canon Arc, 'Long Road to Heaven'. The 3 Major Acts, in summary, are as follows:

Act 1 - The Golden City

The Scions are brought by their respective parents to San Francisco, where an inter-pantheonic meeting to discuss matters of godly importance is taking place. The Scions are tasked to ensure that the city is free of Titanic presences. In the process of getting to know each other, the band stumbles on a cultist group hiding within the troupe, 'Artistes Titania', and tracks them to their ritual site beneath Alcatraz.

A clash between the heroes and the cultists ensues, aided by two shinobi guards. The Scions eventually win and destroy the cultist group, leaving the dark rite unfulfilled. The sacrificial victim, they soon discover, is a Scion of Loki who infiltrated the cult to attempt to expose them. They report this to their parents.

Act 2 - Birds by the Sea

The meetings continue, and the Scions are tasked to conduct various 'housekeeping' activities to ensure the smooth flow of godly business in San Francisco. Accompanied by their new companion, the Scions go about the cities to address the various minor tasks set upon them by their parents.

Hachiman tasks Toshi Oda to 'assist' one of their immigrant allies, while Nate Suvari is told by Poseidon to speak with a nereid who was tending a Shrine to his wife Amphitrite. Rion Raios is directed by Athena to oversee the transport of some gifts from the Russian Pantheon.

Eventually they discover a variety of connections between each task and resolve the problems of both the Tengu immigrant and Nereid Shrine-keeper in turn, finally tracking down the missing 'Faberge Eggs' to a warehouse guarded by wolfmen grunts. Adolf manages to swipe one of the eggs without being caught and with no one the wiser, sends it off to his parent, Loki.

Act 3 - Snakes on a Train (1 & 2)

The gods discover a 'twist' in the weaves of Fate and send their Scions north-east to investigate the region - which falls right on top of the Six Flags themepark and the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa. The band proceeds to conduct their investigation under various covers: Bjorn accompanies his company's business team for a security contract bidding at Six Flags, while Nate joins a PR/Investment pitch for a new theme park based of eco-friendly ideas. The others arrive as tourists or people on 'vacation' leave.

Their investigations soon discover recurring symbols and items pointing towards snakes. Although some hitches occur, with an accidental triggering of the hotel's fire alarms and systems included, they do dig up some initial leads - blood jars in the newly established Grotto of Gaia Church-extension and some metallic scale in the Medusa ride under repair.

In a short time they attempt to procure more evidence to support their theories - Toshi and Adolf infiltrate Six Flags to find more clues in the broken-down ride, the "Medusa", while Nate attempts to trick Lady Elizabeth Kyle, whom he met during the PR event, into divulging any information. Although the group as a whole confirms there is something strange about the Medusa, they are unable to find anything else. Nate becomes suspicious however that Elizabeth is more than she seems.

Later in the evening the band attempts to investigate the Grotto, which is closed for various private ceremonies. The band discovers a group of cultists worshipping a snake-being. The band makes plans to divide the group and take down the leader. However, things go slightly awry. Although Nate is able to distract and lead away the bulk of the cultists, Rion and Toshi run into the remaining fanatics, which slows them down enough for the leader to escape.

Adolf manages to bug the car that the leader is riding, and shortly after hotwires a Viper in the parking lot to allow them to chase him down - back towards Six Flags. A car chase ensues, ending up with them smashing into Six Flags. A combination of Rion's driving and Toshi's archery skill manages to force the cult leader into a crash into the underbelly of the Medusa superstructure.
Adolf's hacking equipment buys them a few minutes, making the guards investigate different sections of the park rather than the Medusa.

A massive snake erupts from the ground, devouring the cult leader and the vase of blood with him. The Scions fight back and attempt to bring the metal snake down, barely managing to keep it at bay. Nate soon arrives after throwing off the rest of the cultists, bringing Elizabeth with him in a gamble to confront her with supernatural scenery and expose her. His arrival into the battle and his delivery of shinobi shuriken to Toshi give them the edge they need to finally injure the snake-beast.

The group finally brings the snake down, which Rion identifies as Canopus. Its skin, gleaming with archaic greek text, is skinned from it in haste. Nate quickly moves out to distract the security guards, leaving the rest of his band to clean up the mess. Elizabeth, who had hid from the conflict, tells the rest of the band to leave quickly and promises them that she would be able to handle the rest of the clean-up.

The band reports their success on the mission to their parents, who congratulate their children, but tell them not to bother them for the next few days as they are reaching a critical stage in certain negotiations. On the trip back to San Francisco, while digging out the shuriken, Toshi discovers a familiar looking egg in snake's brain...

[Scion] Opening the Gates of Legend

Just the other night we finished the last major scene (maybe) of the Scion Story Arc - "Golden Gate of Destiny", which is my first actual GM/Storyteller-run game. It's a minor accomplishment for me, and I am quite pleased to know that my players enjoyed their time playing under me over the past month and a half.

From their initial meetings and antics with propane tanks to an epic battle with a roller-coaster sized snake, I've seen how my players and their characters moved and acted, running the gamut from frustrations and botches to sheer moments of epic awesome.

The experience has allowed me to polish how I run my games and ways to maximize everyone's screen time while keeping the pace flowing. I'm sure this is a long road to go - but I'll pick up things and learn as we continue. I hope to see my friends play their characters to their ultimate fruition, but that's a journey that'll last quite a long time into the future.

Here's to hoping that Fate allows me to continue watching and guiding their journey, and that the fires of imbas continues to burn brightly within me as I do so.