blades in the dark

Jacob Hall is Finally Ready to Get Blades in the Dark to the Table

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Blades in the Dark, the new tabletop roleplaying game from John Harper that had lit a fire under my imagination. Now, having finished reading the full book and printed (and laminated!) the various reference charts and studied the various maps and assembled a crew of willing players, my campaign through a haunted industrial fantasy city is about to begin.

Kind of. Plans to begin this weekend were scuttled by the news of a hurricane slamming into Texas and everyone decided to postpone rather than risk death on a watery road. Still, I’m choosing to look at this as an opportunity. Now I have an extra week to figure out exactly what this game is going to be. Or rather, now I have an extra week to figure out how to stay as loose as possible to let my players decide what kind of game this is going to be.

I previously wrote about how I love the Blades in the Dark system because it encourages storytelling and character-builing at all times while also finding ways to constantly snowball little problems into big problems. It’s a game designed to transform simple missions into clusterfucks…and stories are always more fun when everything goes wrong.

But one of my favorite things about designing a Blades in the Dark campaign has been the decision to not fill in every blank or even build a roadmap for my players. The lore of the game book specifically leaves a lot of key blanks, offering a sketch instead of a completed picture, and I intend to let the players fill those in themselves as they learn more and invent the truths of this world. And rather than send them on a quest, I’m building a sandbox: a collection of possible enemies and allies and a list of possible events, all of which could come into play if the players poke in the right direction. But it’s up to them to pursue the avenues that interest them.

For me, the best roleplaying games are conversations between the GM and the players. The players aren’t here to play my story – they’re here to create a story with me, using game mechanics as a basic structure to keep things from flying off the handle. I’m nervous about starting this game because I’m deliberately keeping myself from over-preparing. A large portion of the story we will tell, the adventure we will go on, will be decided in the moment by group of friends feeding on each other’s ideas.

And I can’t wait.

the magic castle

Peter Sciretta Auditioned For The Magic Castle

I first saw the Magic Castle in an old television special that I watched with my father. As a child, I became fascinated with magic and quickly became interested in performing some magic myself. My father (pictured above) would bring me to Hank Lee’s Magic Shop in downtown Boston and I’d buy a new trick from the allowance money I had saved up. I never really wanted to become a professional magician, but magic is something that has followed me throughout my life. If you’re one of my close friends, then you’ve probably seen a bunch of my card tricks over the years. I’ve even written about my passion for magic and its relation to movies on /Film in the past, and even about amazingly artful magic shows and visiting David Copperfield’s secret magic museum.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2010, I finally got my chance to visit The Magic Castle. For those of you who don’t know, The Magic Castle is a private club in Hollywood for Magicians and their invited guests, filled with magic shows, roaming magicians, enchanted areas and a nice restaurant. After first visiting the Castle, I vowed to find a way to become a member of this prestigious place. If you are a member, you can come anytime you want – no cover charges or expensive dinners. You get to invite people to experience the Castle. And you get access to the magician library, private lectures from touring magicians, the ability to perform magic in the common performance areas of the castle, and much more.

My internet searches about the audition process led me to forum posts which frightened me and kept me from trying. I’m not a professional magician, merely a hobbyist, and was afraid I might not have what it takes to make it pass the audition.

So for the last seven years, I visited the Castle. I was even able to bring my father to the castle a couple years back. Over the years I have become friends with Magician members, who would encourage me to join. I would swat it off as something I might do sometime in the future, putting it off at a safe distance. Because if it was at that safe distance, I didn’t need to worry about it.

But then I decided to go for it.

(You can read what happened next in Peter’s full article about his audition.)

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