hola, me llamo blogpost

Wait I was gonna put together a list of some stuff for audio and animation
Lemme get right on that here we go suckaz gonna get so much onto this
And I’m gonna intersperse it with stuff I’ve done/like

By converting the audio to video, you lose elements of the sound (intimacy, and highlighting elements with imagery causes other aspects to change) – however this process also acts as a “bridge” for the extra information from the video to hopefully fill in those gaps with frog DNA. The “job” of most pieces of traditional video is to create a harmonious link between audio and visual components to create an experience for the viewer.

Okay so! Toolkit for creating short animations — creative commons music, sound effects and images. These are basically ideal unless you can create your own stuff. Can’t write? There are also creative commons scripts! (There are probably other sites out there for this stuff, these are just example links). Of course all this creative commons business is if you want to show this stuff off to a larger audience, to a degree you could probably get away with using licensed stuff for smaller projects but then you wouldn’t own the property so you have less rights to it (unless you can claim fair use etc, but, that’s a whole other thing).

YouTube is a pretty good resource for help creating your own music and sound effects (foley ideas etc – also google) but writing can be a little more difficult. Pretty much with all this stuff you have to practice as well as researching the material: Oh look here is a thing someone linked at me once!

Speaking of linking to things isn’t it time you linked to that 19 Nocturne Boulevard stuff you were gonna link to that has the stuff about writing and audio techniques etc? Sure okay. But let it also be said that there’s a bunch more on the iTunes feed or the RSS feed under Tone Didactic. And while we’re at it, some other good audio drama-type places: KWUR Theater of the Air, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, We’re Alive, and Our Fair City.

What else was I going to link to? Nobody knows. I do not remember. Maybe this John Hodgman Today In The Past thing.

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Tips for a Beginning Keeper (Call of Cthulhu)

edit: this post is super-old and still gets traffic – I made an updated version here!

So, yeah, it’s been kind of a long time since I posted anything on this thing. In the interim, I’ve got an almost-job (more work experience) at an online clothes-retailer company as a content administrator (ie copying and pasting stuff from a spreadsheet into a holding program to be transferred onto the main website later), I am not going to sit here and lie to you guys it is pretty dull. But it could be a lot worse! And the people are nice so it’s kind of fun overall.

But, also a lot during that time I have been working on the Cthulhu on Parade! podcast! Including helping to create a monstrous christmas song with some friends for a charity album which you can hear and donate for here: http://casttheworld.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/cthulhu-christmas/

However, this post is only marginally about either of those things! For the majority of this modern-day radiogram shall be to inform you of the things that I have learned with regard to hosting a game of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing system that I produce the Cthulhu on Parade! podcast’s content with, or in other words…

Tips for a Beginning Keeper!

See, I brought the heading of the post back into the body of the post for a kind of instant-callback.

One of the great things about the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game is its propensity for diverse settings and play-styles. Since a lot of the surface rules are fairly skeletal and easy to pick up, it’s a great system for beginning players and can be adapted to a wide variety of storytelling techniques ranging from stories of lighthearted pulp adventure to dark, bleak horror and most scenarios tend to land somewhere between the two.

From the position of a player, a game should be fun, exciting and engaging. First, they will come to terms with their character, becoming attached to how they fit into the world around them and interact with other players and non-player characters, and then they shall stumble upon a mishap or mystery that drives chaos into this order, ultimately leading to a story of their personal success or failure.

Good role-playing within a group is brought about by shared character history and interaction. Keepers should strive to nurture a spirit of group co-ordination amongst player characters, either by workshopping character back-stories with the players or building scenes into the story that bring characters closer together.

Essentially, this means that characters should have to (at some point in the story) work together to accomplish their goals. Whether this is by having a large rock in the way that requires multiple people to push aside, or by the ship’s deck needing co-ordination between the captain, navigator, look-out and gunman depends on what the story will allow, but collaboration and a close-knit team breeds good group role-playing.

This doesn’t mean that all interactions in the game should be a shared group experience, of course, as that would not allow for much individual character development. But deployed correctly, putting characters together in a tight spot that they can only get out of by working together will make for a much stronger team, and give characters a reason to keep hanging out together despite all this craziness.

Additional hints and tips for Keepers:

  • Learn and remember the combat rules.

Unstructured combat is chaotic and quickly becomes boring and confusing.
Highest DEX goes first, then second highest etc. If characters lose more than half their current hit-points in one attack, they have to make a CON x5 roll or pass out. Knock-out attacks and immobilizing with Grapple require the resistance table, and so on. Not every rule needs to be applied but you should be conscious of the rules you want to follow.

  • Remember to ask for skill checks and SAN rolls.

This doesn’t mean to constantly ask for skill checks for everything a player does, but if a character is constantly reading books (languages), lying to people (fast talk) and installing high-powered death traps (mechanical/electrical repair) without rolling for them and so without chance of failure, the actions will have less weight. Likewise, the sighting of a bloated-corpse-like, bat-winged amphibian horrorterror from beyond Mars, while scary-sounding enough, won’t actually affect the sanity of a character without calling for the sanity roll.

  • The unknown is scarier.

Players should never fully understand the mentality of cultists or monsters, or ideally ever get a good look at them. Strange rituals, undulating shapes and the suggestion of wings and teeth in the night is more disturbing than a cultist of Nyarlathotep calling up a Byakhee because the shopkeeper didn’t refund his money after he purchased a poorly translated copy of the Necronomicon.

  • Go with the players.

As a Keeper, it’s easy to feel the need to stick to the written rules of the scenario you’ve learned and want to cram in all the cool things you’ve thought of. This never works out. Players will want to throw the ornate headpiece into the ocean, melt down the golden statue that opens the door to the giant winged toads of infinite knowledge and sell it for a few hundred dollars, and they absolutely will not go visit the party of Elaine McPlotPoint and no amount of subtle placements of party invitations in the local newspaper will convince them otherwise (they just won’t read the newspaper).

Instead, your job is to merely present the situation and to know all the facts of all the possible outcomes (or at least be very confident when you make them up). Your scenario is the framework for what is roughly going to happen, but the players are going to decide how that turns out. And if they get too off course, just make them take an IDEA roll and “suggest” that maybe the golden statue might be connected to that statue-shaped hole they saw in the large stone door a few hours ago, and filled up with cement.

Unfortunately, the most important rule to remember is that the game is supposed to be fun for everybody. And your job, as the Keeper, is to make sure that happens. If you can fit in something approximating the actual story somewhere in there, and give some sense of satisfaction at the end that players have actually done something, then you’ve done a great job.

Good luck.

Also, here’s this video:

THINGS TO LOOK INTO (GO MORE INTO DETAIL LATER)

Bradford International Film Festival (March 17-27)
Games thing at wherever that was (February 5)
The Dunwich Horror Combo (Radio play etc, expensive though)
The Scarifyers (Radio plays, bit expensive but less so)
Blood Brothers (Call of Cthulhu RPG book)
At The Mountains of Madness (Comic book)
Hellboy trades (vol. IV onwards)
Horror on the Orient Express Trailer Animation (ongoing project)
Podcast Report (more reviews on podcasts etc)

Also I watched Rashomon and it was pretty good, wish I’d seen it before Seven Samurai though but what’re you going to do, didn’t entirely know what to expect so I think giving it another re-watch in a few months once it’s had time to settle in would be a good idea?

Re-watched No Country for Old Men last night, hadn’t seen it since the first time about a year or so (possibly two?) ago, definitely enjoyed it a lot more this time and picked up on a lot more of the subtleties (Anton checking to see how clean his shoes are, etc) and enjoyed the Sheriff role a lot more this time around, knowing that that was the real kind of, focus of the story?

Going to get drawing and inking up the map for the Horror on the Orient Express trailer animation tonight, hoping to have this one as kind of an extension of the last video, but obviously more of a complete experience. Ran into some problems with the map before when I tried doing it in Flash, went over the whole of the map of Europe, including all the annoying little islands, and then when I re-opened it, it had decided that there must’ve been too many lines, or something, and started getting rid of them at a geometric rate.

Guess that’s what you get for relying too much on technology, so, from now on just going to use it for shorter, complete segments that I can have finished in one session and then know that they’re done.

So, going to go back to working on more physical objects I think for a bit.

Had an idea for using some miniature figures maybe for a small something, so, shall see how that goes and hopefully will have a new video up before too long.

I’ll try and come back to this post later so that it’s less fragmented at the beginning, but, no promises. Might try and expand upon the initial list thing in further posts if not. Otherwise, it’s just there as an example of the spring-boarding process employed to jump-start the writing of this post.

Edit: Actually, reading one of the reviews on NeedCoffee.com has just made me remember about Miyazaki movies, and how I own Spirited Away upstairs but I’ve never watched the movie in the original Japanese track with subtitles. Guess I’ll have to fix that, soon… Whenever I’ve watched it previously, it’d been back when I was still unsure about subtitles, and hadn’t really wanted to see a subtitled film…

Also, anyone who thinks like that long term had better have some kind of trouble reading or something, because, what a crazy way to live your life! Well, I’d better get going now because otherwise this post is just going to run on forever. Bye!

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