I’m GMing Zombie World @ Black Diamond Games in Concord, CA (Sat., Nov. 30th at 6pm)


Event Details:
Black Diamond Games
1950 Market St., Concord, CA 94520
Sat., Nov. 30 @ 6pm

Very pleased to be shining a little light on this nifty new title from Magpie Games (https://www.magpiegames.com/)

Zombie World is a card-based tabletop roleplaying game of survivors fighting against the living and the dead for their own place in the world. The game is designed for easy, quick, and intense play. ZW supports 2-8 players, making it ideal for an Indie Night one-shot. Character death can, and will, occur!

In Zombie World, you take on the roles of ordinary people caught up in a zombie apocalypse, struggling to survive day after day, month after month, year after year, in a world destroyed by the restless dead. Maybe you’re just an accountant who took up a machete to keep her friends and family safe. Maybe you’re an escaped inmate trying to keep your criminal past a secret from your fellow survivors. Maybe you’re a soldier trying to lead and protect your whole enclave in this ruined world.

Zombie World has its roots in the Powered by the Apocalypse system used by tabletop RPGs like Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, and Masks: A New Generation, but it takes that system in new directions, using special cards to generate characters, create situations, and resolve conflicts.

Important: priority will be given to folks who join the event on Facebook through the BDG Role Players group. I encourage all interested parties to come if you can’t sign up, but bring something along to play in case we need to accommodate more people! (Usually rules light stuff is best in these situations.)

As with other scheduled BDG events, on Indie Night there’s a $5 buy-in that is returned to you as store credit. (Always free to first timers, so come give it a try!)

I’m GMing Death of the Gilded Age @ Black Diamond Games in Concord, CA (Sat., Nov. 23th at 7pm)

GuildedAgePoster_FrontSmallEvent Details:
Black Diamond Games
1950 Market St., Concord, CA 94520
Sat., Nov. 23 @7pm

It’s the last great party, thrown by the last great host of the age. With sex, fame, wealth and reputation all in play, what will your host’s fate be when the last guest leaves?

The Death of the Gilded Age is an art nouveau fiction story-game for 2 or more players written by Nathan D. Paoletta (of World Wide Wrestling RPG fame).

The players attend the last great party of the age, thrown by a mysterious and complicated Host. During play, you use playing cards to guide the course of the party, ending up with the discovery of what happens to your Host and what memories of the Age he leaves behind. This game is casual and extremely easy to learn.

I’d say Gilded Age can comfortably support 5 or 6, but it is not complicated and I’ll bring the materials necessary to split tables.

If you’d like to check out Death of the Gilded Age or any of Nathan’s other games, feel free to check out his website: https://ndpdesign.com/

This is part of Black Diamond Games new Indie night. (They consider anything that’s not D&D to be Indie, so it’s a wide field of possible games.) I encourage all interested parties to come, but bring something along to play in case we need to split tables! Usually rules light stuff is best in these situations. As with other scheduled BDG events, on Indie Night there’s a $5 buy in that is returned to you as store credit. (Always free to first timers, so come give it a try!)

Priority goes to folks who sign up on the Black Diamond Games Facebook sub-page here: BDG Role Players.

Hope to see you there!

I’m GMing Fiasco @ Black Diamond Games in Concord, CA (Sat., Nov. 16th at 7pm)

fiasco-useEvent Details:
Black Diamond Games
1950 Market St., Concord, CA 94520
Sat., Nov. 16 @7pm

Fiasco, the game of poor impulse control, and even poorer decisions, is a great introduction to the world of indie games. Imagine getting to play inside the world of a Coen Brothers film like Fargo or Raising Arizona and you’ve got the right idea. Content is typically R-rated, although we’ll have tools at the table to keep things from getting too out of hand.

I am more than happy to teach beginners! The game mechanics are very light, so it’s super easy to pick up, and there’s nothing to get in the way of the story-telling. Also, it’s ideal for one-shot play.

As some of you know, Fiasco is “gm-less,” but I find it’s good to have a facilitator on hand for new or less experienced players. If we are a player light, I’ll throw my hat in the ring to make sure the game goes.


Has anyone seen this clown?

I’m currently leaning towards the Zany Town playset, which features the trials and tribulations of a troupe of circus clowns. It even comes with a cool handout where you get to draw your clown’s make-up!

This is part of Black Diamond Games new Indie night. (They consider anything that’s not D&D to be Indie, so it’s a wide field of possible games.) I encourage all interested parties to come, but bring something along to play in case we need to split tables! Usually rules light stuff is best in these situations. As with other scheduled BDG events, on Indie Night there’s a $5 buy in that is returned to you as store credit. (Always free to first timers, so come give it a try!)

Priority goes to folks who sign up on the Black Diamond Games Facebook sub-page, BDG Role Players.

Hope to see you there!

Neutral and Unfavorable Mutations: Adding Richness to Mutant Year Zero NPCs

myz_mutations_postIn a recent run at DunDraCon of Mutant: Year Zero I needed to create an NPC on the fly. I wanted a quick way to make her distinctive, but what to do? It popped into my head that she could have a mutation where hair covered her entire body. Hirsute isn’t something you need to write up mechanically, it’s just a detail about that particular character. And in a community where people have frog legs and wings growing out of their backs, her “difference” would simply be something that made her unique. In the end it worked perfectly… it fit right into the story arc the way I wanted it to.

After the session I thought about how interesting it would be to find opportunities to use this as a tool in ongoing play. Clearly Mutant: Year Zero is interested in how the broken, the weary, and the left behind struggle to survive even as they pursue sometimes wildly different agendas. What better way to lean into that than by having NPCs who haven’t been as fortunate in the genetic lottery as the PCs?

In the real world, most mutations are neutral or unfavorable for the organism that has them… it’s my understanding that only occasionally does chance offer up a mutation worth passing along. And while in a game of fantasy like M:YZ it’s totally appropriate to let players have cool mutations, what happens if we explore neutral or even unfavorable mutations in the NPCs that they know and care about? There are certainly reasons in the meta-plot (which I will not reveal here) that speak to why all these helpful mutations abound… but with the characters constantly mutating further, perhaps there are some genetic time bombs in the mix as well.

To my way of thinking, it would be very uplifting, and a positive reflection of reality, to show these other mutants using their less than ideal bodies to contribute to the community.

For example, one of my players mentioned the idea of a bespoke clothier in the Ark that disassembles and reassembles clothing for the various bosses. I loved the idea. Most mutants struggle to keep something on their backs, while the bosses actually look put together. And who could this NPC clothier be? The idea of Shia popped into my mind…

She (they?) has no legs, but six strong and flexible arms. Her den/shop is like a spider’s web of thread, buttons, zippers, and bits of old clothing. No rag is too small for her to work with. She does a lively trade in scrap with various Stalkers, and given her long hours, and general lack of mobility, she’s always happy for other people to stop by and chat. It’s said that Shia knows more secrets in the Ark than anyone, but getting her to tell them is a different story.

So there we already have a more interesting figure for the Ark than a few stats and book mutations would provide. And we see an individual that’s made a virtue of the body they’ve been given. There’s something wonderful, too, about peppering the Ark with a few NPCs that probably wouldn’t survive long in the Zone, but that can thrive in a community where everyone has a place. Doesn’t it make protecting the Ark that much more important if the characters know full well that it would be difficult or impossible to evacuate everyone if their community fell?

You can take this approach in lots of different directions. At our table we’ve already talked how the boss Jhammed could have a mutation where he/she cycles back and forth between male and female over the course of a month or two. (After all, such a mutation could be a huge advantage in a survival situation.)

If you are lucky enough to have a player that’s into this style, you could even work a neutral, or even unfavorable, mutation into the back story of their PC. In doing some research for this piece, I realized that one of the players at my convention run gave his character something a lot like Uner Tan Syndrome, so it might be worth exploring these ideas with your players.

Every table will have their own tolerance for the kind of exploration I’m proposing, but it could add real richness and nuance to life in the Ark, and allow for deeper investigations of sexuality and issues like ableism, that are already emergent in the way we play Mutant: Year Zero.

You Got Your Peanut Butter in My Chocolate! – A Brief Examination of the Mechanics of Mutant: Year Zero

NYCI’ll start this by saying that if you’ve made it this far you owe it to yourself to have a look at Mutant: Year Zero, the post-apocalypse RPG published by Modiphius a couple of years ago. Go online and find whatever preview freebie you can get, or (better yet) flip through a copy at your local game store. For my money it’s the most thoroughly enjoyable post-apocalyptic themed RPG to come out since D. Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World (about which more later).

Instead of writing a general review of M:YZ, I’m going to do something a little different. I want to talk about how M:YZ effortlessly blends new-school and old-school, story-game and traditional game, into a very tasty gaming treat.

In Mutant: Year Zero you play Mutants trying to eke out a living in a blasted post-apocalyptic landscape. You cling to life in a community, your Ark, where an Elder has guided the life of the community for as long as you can remember. But the Ark is no paradise, and not even that much of a safe haven. The Elder is on his last legs, the food’s running out, and the People (as you call yourselves) are dying off; there’s never been a single baby born in the Ark. It’s in that context that you and the other PCs brave the Zone, and all its myriad threats, to find resources and to dig up answers about your past.

If you want more context than that before you dive in here, please have a look at Lowell Francis’ thorough review on his blog Age of Ravens. (You might not want to come back, but that’s okay. Lowell’s work is topnotch.)

So about this traditional game and story-game business, why should I care?


Let’s say you’ve got a regular group with a lot of trad gamers and they’re not interested in anything that looks even remotely like it might be a story-game. Bring your big, lovingly produced copy of Mutant: Year Zero to your next session, and they might sing a different tune. Or maybe you’ve done a lot of traditional gaming over the years, but you’d like to test the waters out with something not as daunting and different as the trade paperback-sized games you see over in the cool kids’ rack at the game store.

Call it a gateway game, a Trojan Horse, or whatever, Mutant: Year Zero is one of the best games for bridging the narrative/traditional gamer divide that I’ve had the good fortune to come across. So, let’s get out there and build some bridges, people!

Okay, now that I’m off my soapbox, I’ll get down to some cases…

ark_wallPeanutty Narrative Game Goodness

[When I refer to narrative or story games, I’m talking about games that (and I’m speaking very broadly here) build their mechanics to focus on the unfolding story of the game, rather than mechanically simulating aspects of the game world. These sorts of games have steadily gained popularity in the hobby since the mid-2000s. If you’ve played Fiasco, Dread, Microscope, Dogs in the Vineyard, or any of the growing number of Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) titles, then you’ve played a story-game.]

On the sheets for the various character roles for M:YZ there are a number of things that will jump off the page if you’ve played any PbtA titles. There’s a list of names to choose from; various suggested descriptors for Face/Body/Clothing; and a block where you choose a special relationship with one other PC (and one NPC). While I don’t think this kind of narrative “pre-seeding” of names and relationships originated in the PbtA design space, I’m fairly certain it comes from the story-game side of things.

Getting Experience (XP), is part of playing M:YZ, so score one for the Trad Game side of things, but, BUT, you only get experience from the following: doing a Day’s Work for an Ark project, making progress towards realizing your character’s Big Dream, exploring at least one new Zone Sector, sacrificing or risking something for your PC buddy, and sacrificing or risking something for that special NPC you want to keep safe. So, you can kill Zone Ghouls, et al, all day long, but it’s not going to help your character advance in the game.

Tough Character Decisions

To me a hallmark of story-gaming is that your character can’t have it all. There’s no way to power-game your way to invulnerability. Many of the games that I like best come with difficult decisions and balancing acts baked right into the mechanics.

This is never more true, or more appropriate, than in a game that focuses on survival. In M:YZ you must:
– Decide whether to keep that cool artifact that you found, or contribute it to the dawnvault where it will improve the characteristics of the Ark;
– Use your powerful Mutant Powers to survive, knowing that they will eventually wear your body out;
– Choose whether to use the precious Bullets you have to shoot something (or someone), or use them to buy things like Grub and Fresh Water that will keep you alive. I doubt the M:YZ design team was thinking about this, but this mechanic is an excellent implementation of comedian Chris Rock’s “Bullet Control” concept.

Shadows of Apocalypse World

I can also see very specific strands of DNA from D. Vincent Baker’s groundbreaking design for Apocalypse World woven into Mutant: Year Zero.

The Ark, with its many potential conflicts and social entanglements, could easily be a Hardhold from Apocalypse World; the Ark’s many bosses trying to usurp the Elder’s power echo Apocalypse World’s NPCs trying to undermine, or knock off, a Hardholder. In fact, most of the things likely to go on in the Ark (jockeying for social position, NPCs playing characters off of each other, misfortunes that reshape the hierarchy) would be the bread and butter of an Apocalypse World session.

Even the implementation of some of the Mutant: Year Zero Skills reflects their counterparts in Apocalypse World’s Move structure.

Take, for example, the Go Aggro move from Apocalypse World (1st Edition)…

When you go aggro on someone, roll+hard. On a 10+, they have to choose: force your hand and suck it up, or cave and do what you want. On a 7–9, they can instead choose 1:
– get the hell out of your way
– barricade themselves securely in
– give you something they think you want
– back off calmly, hands where you can see
– tell you what you want to know (or what you want to hear)

Compare this to the Enforcer’s Intimidate skill from M:YZ.

Everyone in the Ark knows you’re bad news. Often you don’t even need to hit anyone to make them back down. You know exactly which buttons to push to subdue them – or provoke them. Roll for Intimidate when you use your sheer physical presence to get someone to do what you want.
Failure: He won’t be pushed around by a bully like you. He might even attack you now, or hold the grudge for the opportune moment.
Success: Your opponent must choose – either attack you right now (by Fighting, Shooting or using a mutation), or bow to your will.

Both mechanics carry the idea of pushing the story forward by forcing the subject of the action to fight right now or submit.


Chocolaty Trad Flavor

Fear not traditional gamer, there’s some crunch skillfully woven into Mutant: Year Zero, too. You’ll find much that’s familiar to you. You get Abilities, Talents, Gear, Mutations, etc., and a d6-based engine to make it all go. There’s even a light, but effective, encumbrance system. (Encumbrance as a game mechanic can be traced right back to the earliest iterations of D&D.) These kinds of systems are typically more honored in the breach than in the observance, but in M:YZ it fits perfectly with the theme. It asks the question: what’s really worth lugging around the wasteland?

If playing scenes in the Ark is analogous to the flavor and style of Apocalypse World, then the Zone fairly drips with the stuff of more traditional games, particularly TSR’s old school classic Gamma World. It takes the traditional Hexcrawl and streamlines it into an exciting sub-game that perfectly balances the social tension in the Ark. There are funky mutant creatures, cults, and environmental hazards that want to chew your characters up and spit them out. There are plenty of ways to die out in the Zone and lots of tough choices for characters to make along the way.

Mutant: Year Zero also has the high production values that the trad gamer has come to expect thanks to the likes of Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Fantasy Flight Games, and others. The M:YZ core book runs to 272 pages in the familiar 8.5 by 11 format that’s just dripping with full color theme. And you can trick your game out with a slickly produced GM screen, a box of cards to simplify in-game book-keeping, and a set of lovely (optional) dice.

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together? mutant_cup

Sadly, I still haven’t gotten to play M:YZ yet, but the carefully blended and balanced system is right there on the page. It’s got action, intrigue, social drama, high stakes, and high weirdness… everything I could want from a product at this point in my long gaming career.

Your mileage may vary, of course, when it comes to the actual play experience. In default mode, Mutant: Year Zero has a tone that’s roughly equivalent to The Walking Dead TV series. I’ll modulate that by saying that I don’t think it’s quite that bleak, but your players should be ready to see their characters die. If you’re using the game as designed, there’s almost no way every original character (or possibly any original character) will see the silver-lining of the game’s Metaplot come to fruition. As in a Call of Cthulhu campaign, it may take a few generations of brave and unlikely heroes to make it to the end.

If character death is the sort of thing your group gets all twisted up about, then this isn’t for them. But if it’s for you, find someone, somewhere to play with, because I think Mutant: Year Zero is just about the perfect flavor of grown-up fun.

I’m Back – For Now

It’s funny how often this happens. You commit to working on something for yourself, to getting yourself out there at all, and things in the universe start to shift in your direction.

When I started doing a little game blogging at the beginning of 2016, I had no idea what new directions I’d be headed in later in the year. Mere weeks after starting up (and writing a handful of posts that I think still hold up) I’d formed a writing partnership with my friend Brian.

We didn’t waste any time getting to work. In less than a year we’ve written a short film, a movie for a producer in the Chinese market, and a pilot that we’re hoping to pitch this spring and summer. All that work, along with looking after my son, ate up every minute of free time last year.

That brings me up to now. For various personal reasons Brian and I are taking a short break while we get our pitch materials in order for our big push. (Also, a project Brian pitched a couple of years ago is getting some traction, so I’m setting myself up to be able to help him with that.) I’ve got some down time, from hardcore writing at least, to pursue some gaming projects, and to write about my recent experiences in the hobby.

And, now that I think about it, this is going to be the model for working on the blog from now on… it’s going to be something I take up between deep dives on film/writing projects. The good news is I’m right in the middle of coming up for some air so expect a flurry of pieces over the next week or two! (Or not. If Brian gets the right news, we could be shifting right into development mode.)

But let’s say I’m going to get that week or two…

I’ve got some things to say about Mutant: Year Zero, which I very much want to get to the table this summer. (My wife teaches, so summertime is prime time for bigger game projects). Also, I’m just off of DunDraCon 41 where I ran Will Hindmarch’s intriguing Always / Never / Now, a deft cyperpunk reskinning of John Harper’s Lady Blackbird. I’ll share what happened at the game, and my thoughts on why it appears to be far less known than its inspiration.

Last Days of Disco playtest: The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Elvezio and Julian

Friendly warning (mature content): the few of you who read my blog will probably not be troubled by such things, but the session report below describes events that play out in the overheated world of the 1970s disco scene. So, if not-particularly-graphic depictions of gay sex, irresponsible drug use, etc., are not for you, please move on to one of my many other posts. 

WebShortly after my group’s lively first exposure to Nathan Paoletta’s excellent fiction game, Death of the Gilded Age, it occurred to me that its simple engine could be repurposed to other eras with different flavors. (It’s a neat little game. If you’re at all interested head over to ndpdesign.com and check it out.)

That idea went quickly into the “maybe someday” pile of projects, the one that rarely sees the light of day. Recently, though, Gilded Age has been back on my radar. My wife, a professor, has decided to put together a narrative/story games course for next winter. We both agree that the simple mechanics of Gilded Age make it very teachable, and so it was one of the first things she put on the syllabus.

Dusting it off also inspired me to contact Nathan about doing a reskin of Gilded Age called Last Days of Disco. Nathan is very generously allowing us to play with his toys.

A couple of nights ago I sat down with my ideas and whipped up a no-art “alpha” document heavily influenced by the mythology and history of the now infamous Studio 54. And last night my wife, my buddy Joe, and I put Last Days through its paces with a disco mix thumping away cheerfully in the background.

Last Days of Disco, like Gilded Age, will use a series of playmats that show all the rules and help the players to track the progress of the story. The first step is to randomize (within a fairly narrow set of constraints) the basic details of the party and the broad outlines of the host’s personality

Here’s what we ended up with after this step…
When: Halloween (after all Studio 54 had notorious Halloween bashes.)
Where: Torchsong Island (Fire Island with the serial numbers filed off.)
Who: A Wolf of Wall Street, cunning and callous
Reputation of the Host: Hopelessly Romantic

After knocking the ideas around for awhile we named our protagonist Julian Faulkner. We decided he was a brutal Wall Street wheeler dealer, who got his start bilking old ladies out of their savings. Eventually Julian, a poor hustler from the streets, made it to a kind of legitimacy by taking control of a Wall Street investment house. But he had a secret… he was gay in a time when that was a tough sell in the macho world of The Street. And he really, really liked to party.

His wife, Julia Sharpe, was happy to play along with the fiction that her husband was what he appeared to be, a conservative member of New York’s elite. He had his swinging lifestyle, and she had her long string of affairs with younger men. She, after all, was from money, and she understood that power couples (like Julia and Julian) ended up striking side deals so that they could have their cake and eat it to.

As befits a Halloween party among New York’s elite, we decided it would be a fancy bal masqué, filled with classical allusions. That way people could get their freak on while maintaining some hope (or at least pretense) of anonymity. Julia knew to stay well away from such an event, especially if Julian was going to be there. For his part, Julian was attending the party as Pluto, lord of the underworld. His costume consisted of a silver full face mask, made of actual silver, below a laurel wreath wrapped around his temples, his loose flowing robes leaving little to the imagination.

LDoD_clingstone_imageWe also worked out the the geography of the mansion and its surroundings; our set, if you will. The mansion, an old and sprawling wooden lodge from the ‘30s, was straight out of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The large deck featured a jacuzzi, a nod to the times, and a view of the rocky beach below. 

We were ready to begin…

We turned over our first Wrench card to discover that it was the King of Hearts. (Wrench cards represent problems/challenges the Host has to deal with. They also divide the story into a three act structure, and propel the action into each act.) Riffing on the idea that Hearts represent the theme of “sex” in Last Days, we decided that one of Julian’s old lovers, perhaps the love of his life, had appeared at the party. We knocked around ideas for a few minutes, played with a name generator on Joe’s phone, and came up with the stunningly handsome Elvezio Gaurini, “the one that got away.”

Elvezio, we decided, was the kind of person that just exuded sexuality every waking moment. Men and women were constantly throwing themselves at him… and for the brief time that they were together, they were the complete focus of his passion. It’s not that Elvezio was a bad guy, or even a slut, he just embodied the idea of living in the moment.

His arrival at the party electrifies the crowd and throws them into a frenzy. A provocative presence even at the most sedate of occasions, Elvezio is dressed to entice. He calls himself the Satyr of Capri and looks the part: bare chest, furry gold chaps, and a half-mask with horns. My wife came up with the best detail, though, custom-cobbled high-heeled shoes that made Elvezio look like he had little hooves.

Unable to contain themselves, the people in the crowd start pawing at him and ripping off his costume. Mab, the party’s organizer, manages to whisk him off to a private room. But, as we discover, it’s out of the frying pan into the fire for Elvezio.

When the lights come on he realizes he’s trapped in an expensive mock-up of a jail cell with Julian. Julian comes on to him still in costume as Pluto and plies him with pomegranate seeds. Elvezio, knowing full well it’s Julian, gets a kick out of the trouble his “host” has gone to and they have sex. Afterwards, Julian refuses to drop the Pluto bit claiming that Elvezio now “belongs” to him. Elvezio starts to get irritated, but then Julian plays his ace. He offers Elvezio, who is also an investment banker, a seat on the board at his company… but only if he’ll agree to an exclusive relationship with Julian.

Elvezio ponders his indecent proposal, and then agrees. Later they entertain the party goers with a mock-wedding between Pluto and the Satyr of Capri complete with a bit of ribbon tied between their hands to seal the deal.

With the stakes now appropriately raised, it was time for another Wrench. This time a Spade was revealed. One of the options under that suit is “contracts (broken or honored).” We decided that Elvezio wouldn’t be able to last an hour keeping up his end of the bargain.

At this point Brad Knight, Julian’s assistant, has seen enough. Unfortunately Julian doesn’t realized that Brad is Julia’s latest conquest and that he’s reporting back to her.

Brad creeps away and calls Julia, letting her know that things are starting to get out of hand and that Elvezio is involved. Julia tells him “to make sure Elvezio hooks up with someone else as soon as possible.”


My Dream Casting for Tawny – ’80s era Grace Jones

When Julian comes to Brad for some uppers, he slips him a few Quaaludes instead. With Julian wandering the halls in a daze, Brad contrives to have Elvezio meet Tawny, a beautiful black transwoman dressed up as the Statue of Liberty. The two have some very public sex on Pluto’s Throne, which sits at the edge of the dance floor, as the crowd eggs them on and showers them with glitter. Mab finds Julian almost passed out in one of the bathrooms. She takes pity on him and dabs his face and forehead with a cool washcloth. She tells him that he should stay away from Elvezio, that he’s only going to get his heart broken. From what she’s saying he can tell that something’s happened. He stumbles back toward the party with his mask off, and some of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd start asking him for investment tips. Realizing he’s exposed, he puts his mask back on.

As he makes it back to the dance floor someone yells, “Your new bride’s been cheating on you!” Humiliated, Julian stalks through the throbbing crowd. He follows the trail of glitter down to the rocks on the beach where he sees Elvezio and Tawny strolling in the moonlight.

At this point we could sense that this was the big final confrontation of our story, so we turned over our final Wrench card… revealing a Club. One of the narrative choices for that suit is “arrests” so we decided our story was going to have a dark final act.

Julian starts arguing with Elvezio. Tawny isn’t up for the drama so she tells the boys to work it out as she walks away. Elvezio tries to explain to Julian that it just isn’t in his nature to be tied down. With nothing left to say Elvezio turns to leave, but Julian is enraged. He picks up a beach rock and smashes Elvezio in the head. Elvezio collapses on to the rocks with Julian standing over him.

It only takes a few seconds for Julian’s self-preservation instinct to kick in. He hurls the rock into the ocean and runs back to the party, yelling that Elvezio has fallen and hit his head. This kills the vibe pretty quickly. An air ambulance comes for Elvezio, but he’s already slipped into a coma. By the time the cops from the Torchsong PD get there, the party has emptied out. Elvezio passes away a couple of days later, and the Torchsong cops end up begging the NYPD to take over, which they do. The NYPD do their best to untangle things now that the case is a homicide…

It was time to look at the final Fate of our host. As a result of the cards played we were left with this result for our protagonist: “Surprising everyone, they turn on the party people. How do the become a voice for the Moral Majority?”

So Julian gets away with it, but there’s a price to pay.

Julia uses the incident to force Julian to sign over the family assets to her. She also forces him to go out in public and repudiate his former life. He pretends to listen at his “deprogramming” sessions. In a high profile visit to the Phil Donahue Show he talks about the immoral and deplorable life he used to lead. The housewives of America soak up every salacious detail.

Eventually, the “reformed” Julian finds himself at Reagan rallies, where he makes out with other closeted Republicans when he can.


In the end I was tremendously pleased with how this re-theming played. I would never in a million years have ended up in the fictive territory suggested by Last Days, but the prompts led us down a really interesting, and frankly new, path. That fact by itself suggests that my take on the rules has merit. Also, the ending seemed beautifully fitting for a game called Last Days of Disco.

I’ve sent the text document off to Nathan, and I’ll send him a link to this play report as well. I’m very intrigued to hear what he has to say. Also, my friend Joe is starting to research various sources of disco imagery for the design of the Last Days playmats.

I can’t wait to see where this leads.