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Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

20 Mar 2010, 06:52

D is for Dreaming;
You do it no more.
Yet whence comes this shade
Lurking at your front door?


When the clock strikes 13 and the Nightmares come out to hunt, the Mad City seals itself away from Sleeper and Awakened alike. In the sleeping world of reality, the moment passes in an instant of fugue or melancholy, and the clock ticks over as normal... but in the City, escape becomes impossible and for an hour the promise of home and safety becomes so distant as to seem a dream.

It's the hour of the wolf, the time when everything goes to hell and you can hear the feral bitch panting on the other side of the door. Sometimes it feels like it lasts a lot longer, and those times have been coming a lot more often. Last time, you heard the wolf whelp her pups while you waited, and she suckled them at her teats until the hour passed. This time, she's teaching them your scent, how to hunt and track you. Next time...

Well, let's just hope there isn't a next time. Let's hope that you're smart enough to get out of the damn City when 13 o'clock strikes, from now on. But just in case, make sure that dresser is nearby. Pushing it in front of the door won't help you any, but there's a good bottle of vodka inside. Just make sure you have enough glasses to serve all your guests, including a shot glass for each of the pups. Have to be a good host, after all.



Okay, so. I'm going to dive in head-first and attempt to run a game of Don't Rest Your Head. DRYH is an RPG from Evil Hat (the makers/publishers of other such delightful games as Spirit of the Century, Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, and the upcoming Dresden Files game), about insomnia and madness. Specifically, you are one of the Awake, people who have been fighting sleep so long that you've won -- for now -- and can see the secret world hiding behind the veil of dreams that keeps most of the rest of humanity asleep.

And on the other side of that veil? The Mad City, where Nightmares walk the streets and hunt those foolish or unfortunate enough to fall into their domain. They want to eat you alive, make you one of them, sending whatever fragments of your once-healthy mind spiraling into an endless dark. Death would be more merciful.

But you're not helpless. The Nightmares often have fantastic powers, but so do you. As one of the Awake, you can do things better than any Sleeper can -- and some things that are patently impossible. You can be the greatest gunman in the world, able to put a bullet through someone's brain without even looking, but even that pales in the face of the torrent of destruction you unleash when you open your mouth and sing a fragment of the song that will someday unmake the world. Or when you point and the cobblestones and brick around rise up on spidery legs to swarm upon and dash themselves against your chosen target. Or when you pull your eyes out to let loose the all-consuming shadows hiding in your broken mind.

A couple caveats: this'll be the first time I'll have played DRYH, if the game carries off. People who are more experienced are certainly welcome to play and call me on any of my errors; it's the only way I'll get better. As well, I've not run an online game before beyond one or two sessions, so I'm also painfully inexperienced in any of the little oddities of this medium as well. Same deal as before; if you've got suggestions on where I'm slipping up, please make them.

I don't have a firm plot as of yet, just some themes I want to play around with. That said, any DRYH plot is supposed to be at least as much about playing with the PCs backstories as anything the GM creates, and I do have some ideas, so I'm eager to see how this stuff meshes.

As it stands, I'll be able to pull off most nights and evenings other than Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Unless we look at playing at ridiculous o'clock (aka, after midnight, Eastern time), then those three nights are more open.

Anyway. More after I do rest my head, including an intro to character creation stuff. Most of it is fluff, with only a bare handful of hard stats.

The official page can be found here, with some useful resources like character sheets, a sample character, the wiki, and so on. The game itself can be found on IPR or DriveThru, and there's a supplemental book called Don't Lose Your Mind which focuses more on the Madness powers -- the outright impossible things that you can learn to do, which might be as utilitarian as flight or teleportation, or absurd as being able to call on endless legions of ninjas to do your bidding (they are individually frail, but there's always more of them). DLYM also started the use of the little rhymes, like I opened the post with, to describe powers or otherwise add to the nightmarish fairy-tale feel the game is meant to carry.
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

20 Mar 2010, 08:17

Color me interested. Been wanting to play DRYH for a good while.
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

20 Mar 2010, 10:02

Count me as interested as well. I've been looking to give this game a shot for quite some time now.
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

20 Mar 2010, 12:40

I'm interested, DRYH is in my pile of games that I can only play with strangers over the internet.
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

20 Mar 2010, 16:10

Interest. Awesome.

So. Most of character creation is the fluff. DRYH has some very narrative-focused mechanics, making elements like character backstory and personality fairly important. Given that, each character has to answer a few questions.

What's your name? Nickname, real name, however you prefer to be addressed.

And you are? Sum your character concept up in a few words, like "a failed rock musician" (the game's example character), or "a workaholic middle-manager."

What's been keeping you awake? Drugs? Anxiety? Work? Existential terror? Guys who'll put a bullet in your brain if they find you?

What just happened to you? Something stressful that sets the scene. This is actually your introduction into the game (though not into the Mad City itself), and you get to dictate it.

What's on the surface? What do you look like? What's the first impression people get when they see you? "Oh great, another college drop-out stoner," perhaps, or maybe "management drone who forgot to go home last night"?

What lies beneath? What are you really like, under that facade? What kind of things do you not show to anyone but your closest loved ones -- and then, what do you not show even to them? Quite simply, what don't you want people to know about you, and how does it contrast sharply with the image you put forward?

And finally, what's your path? To quote some guy that got mentioned in a Calvin & Hobbes strip, "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?" (Paul Gauguin, by the way.) In short, your motivation, your goals, where you've been and where you're headed. What are you set to doing when you don't have any other immediate concerns and why? It can be as simple as "I need to find my missing brother" or as complicated as "I want to be a good person."

Now, to finish things off, you also need to pick your Talents. It's a little like choosing a Forte in the PDQ system: come up with a word or phrase that describes something you can do, and write it down. Then apply it in the game whenever it comes up. You've got two types, and they scale within the game to lesser and greater effects.

The Exhaustion Talent is fueled by, well, your exhaustion. The closer you ride to the edge of collapse, the better you get at what you do. This is something that most people can sort of do, but you excel at -- maybe it's math, or fencing, or parkour. If martial arts is your thing, then compared to a normal person who's taken a self-defense course, you're the goddamn Batman.

Lastly, your Madness Talent is, appropriately enough, driven by your madness. Nobody stays awake as long as you have without consequences, unless they're on some really good drugs, and it means you're a little damaged. Or perhaps you managed to stay awake so long because you were already broken up top. Either way, you're just that much nuttier than the next person, and it means you can do something impossible. It might be something mad and beautiful, or insane and horrible -- though in a better world, you might be putting on tights and fighting crime. Just remember, though, that every time you pull this out of your bag of tricks, you're running the risk of cracking apart even worse. Sure, pyrokinesis is fun and all, but if you've run into a hungry Nightmare and have a gun, it might be wise to try filling 'em full of lead before you try to kill them with your mind. It makes it more likely you'll have a mind to keep intact.
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

21 Mar 2010, 15:57

Darn it, I don't have time for this...

I guess that means I'll have to join. If I can manage to be on at whatever time this will be held.
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

21 Mar 2010, 16:02

As an aside, a... delightful monologue from the primary antagonist of J. Michael Straczynski's "Midnight Nation," the comic cited as the primary influence on Don't Rest Your Head. Bear in mind that any dated matter (like the Christopher Reeve mention) comes from the comic being published back in mid-2001. It's really rather good, though the "other side of the metaphor" isn't quite as universally dark and horrible as the Mad City is. Mostly because there's only one real antagonist group, the Walkers. Still, it's a good idea to get a sense of the attitude going into the bastards who want to pick you and the world up off the slow slide into Hell just to get it done faster by dropping you off the side.


"Creation is built upon the promise of hope, that things will get better, that tomorrow will be better than the day before. But it's not true. Cities collapse. Populations expand. Environments decay. People get ruder. You can't go to a movie without getting in a fight with the guy in the third row who won't shut up.

"Filthy streets. Drive-by shootings. Irradiated corn. Permissible amounts of rat-droppings per hot dog. Bomb blasts and body counts. Terror in the streets, on camera, in your living room. AIDS and ebola and hepatitis B and you can't touch anyone because you're afraid you'll catch something besides love, and nothing tastes as good anymore, and Christopher Reeve is in a wheelchair, and love is statistically false.

"Pocket nukes and subway anthrax. You grow up frustrated, you live confused, you age frightened, and you die alone. Safe terrain moves from your city to your block to your yard to your home to your living room to the bedroom and all you want is to be allowed to live without somebody breaking in to steal your TV and shove an ice-pick in your ear.

"That sound like a better world to you? That sound to you like a promise kept?"
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

21 Mar 2010, 18:21

the Plushiemancer made me get an account to say that I am also interested in this!
"And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!"
-Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

21 Mar 2010, 18:34

Your enabling is moe. :awesome:
"And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!"
-Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

"Peaceful days are over. Let's Survive." --Naoya, Devil Survivor
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

21 Mar 2010, 18:38

:<3: :<3: :<3:
"And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!"
-Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

"Peaceful days are over. Let's Survive." --Naoya, Devil Survivor
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

21 Mar 2010, 22:06

...If I do get in this game, I should warn everyone that I have no experience whatsoever with DRYH. While our GM is in the same situation, I don't think I'll be helping the matter.

On the subject of time, ridiculous o'clock would be best for me (and appropriate for the game, I suppose), though I can work out other times.
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

22 Mar 2010, 02:40

Phoenix_Kensai wrote:
...If I do get in this game, I should warn everyone that I have no experience whatsoever with DRYH. While our GM is in the same situation, I don't think I'll be helping the matter.

On the subject of time, ridiculous o'clock would be best for me (and appropriate for the game, I suppose), though I can work out other times.


The system seems a little bewildering at first (or so it did for me), but it straightens out pretty easily eventually. The worst part, I imagine, is going to be keeping track of rolling from up to three different dice pools during tense situations. Each of the dice pools has a descriptor, and have to be rolled separately because whichever pool has dominance (low numbers are successes, while the pool with the most, highest numbers wins "dominance") dictates how the victory or failure is flavored. So, for example, a victory with the Discipline dice pool dominant goes just as planned. A victory with Pain dominant (the GM pool) makes it likely to be a very pyrrhic victory indeed. Heaven help you if you fail and Pain is dominant.

Confusing at first, yes (especially with that half-assed explanation I just gave, sorry), but ultimately a well-done balancing act between power and consequences, with lots of craziness potential when things get out of hand.

A lot of my biggest worries are actually that I'm going to screw up getting the attitude and tone right, and carrying bad ideas too far.

For example, I had an idea of a Nightmare that didn't look obviously like other Nightmares, and seemed like a helpful person... yet was, in some ways, usually just a little better than whoever she's helping. Not necessarily outdoing you in your Exhaustion and Madness talents, no, because those are things that should be unique to you, but generally someone who's a little more clearheaded and kind and almost "untouchable" by the horror and sorrow of the Mad City. Her thing was that she was a more subtle torment, there to "not be a better person than you, but for you to be a better person than," with the idea that she wins because too many people can't rise to be better when things are actually tough.

And then I realized that until the big reveal, unless I was really damn good at dropping hints, everyone would hate her and think she was a horrible Mary Sue GMPC, and likely by extension hate me. That wouldn't be worth the payoff, so I pretty much had to scrap her. So it goes. I just hope I catch all of that kind of bad idea before it hits the game.
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

22 Mar 2010, 10:02

I've been reading through the Don't Lose Your Mind book for some sample Madness talents, and I have to say, that's some messed up stuff. The idea of having that much absurd, uncontrollable, Screw-The-Rules-I-Have-Crazy sorta power at your character's fingertips does a lot to set DRYH apart from the other horror games I've tried. Gives me a lot to think about as far as character concepts go. I think I've got a handle on the system mechanics, though, so that helps.

As far as timing goes, I'm currently free just about anytime. I have a very flexible schedule for the foreseeable future, so I should be able to accommodate pretty much whatever.
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

22 Mar 2010, 17:15

Winter Wombat wrote:
I've been reading through the Don't Lose Your Mind book for some sample Madness talents, and I have to say, that's some messed up stuff. The idea of having that much absurd, uncontrollable, Screw-The-Rules-I-Have-Crazy sorta power at your character's fingertips does a lot to set DRYH apart from the other horror games I've tried. Gives me a lot to think about as far as character concepts go. I think I've got a handle on the system mechanics, though, so that helps.


Oh yeah, it's delightful. It's very narratively-focused and involves so many trade-offs, risking incredibly unpleasant results in exchange for power. Using a Madness talent all over the place will probably paste anything you come across, but you're taking a fast dive into insanity and becoming a Nightmare yourself. I love it.
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

26 Mar 2010, 16:30

Decided to set up a page on a wiki for the game, found here. This is if anyone wants to slap their characters up someplace central, as well as anything else they feel like adding, if anything. The password to join the wiki so you can add and edit is ludoofkir.

Feel free to ignore the rest of the wiki, though. It started late last year as someplace to organize my ideas for a PDQ# (as in, S7S) setting called "Stormborn." It's been woefully neglected, for various reasons. Technically, others are welcome to add and edit, but I wanted to work out more of the setting framework and atmosphere before opening it up. But that's neither here nor there.
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

27 Mar 2010, 19:49

I suppose I should start reading the rules, though... I can't really commit to playing until we decide on a time, so leave my slot open.
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

29 Mar 2010, 22:47

I took a stab at making a character, and posted it up on the above wiki. Hopefully the custom Madness Talent meets fits in properly. It's a bit difficult to gauge the sort of scope or power you're supposed to have with those things, so I sort of eyeballed it.

I quite enjoyed the other characters I saw there. I've been reading through the one of those "Dark re-imagining of Wonderland" books recently, so Eliane's concept especially has me quite thoroughly creeped out.
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

30 Mar 2010, 00:15

Winter Wombat wrote:
I quite enjoyed the other characters I saw there. I've been reading through the one of those "Dark re-imagining of Wonderland" books recently, so Eliane's concept especially has me quite thoroughly creeped out.


Aww, thanks. I just went and read Alex. I think he and Éliane will get along fabulously, don't you? I like the Book concept, even if my brain keeps going "YOU MUST NOT READ FROM THE BOOK!" That...that is merely because I am a dork. :B
"And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!"
-Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

"Peaceful days are over. Let's Survive." --Naoya, Devil Survivor
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

30 Mar 2010, 17:37

I've enjoyed all the concepts so far, just need to take the time to start mining them for ideas and threading things together. Also, the Book is a fun idea, and makes me jump immediately to "The Book of All Hours" duology by Hal Duncan. So the game may have to tap into those books...

And as far as Madness powers go, bear in mind that as far as raw mechanics go, it's strictly about how many dice you add to win out on the opposed checks. Unless I call for a minimum number of Madness dice on a roll, you decide what you want to use and then narrate an effect appropriate to the situation, your success or failure, and how many you're tossing into the fight.

Which isn't to say Alexander's power write-up is bad. It looks solid from here. Turning a crowd into a bunch of murderers or suicides, or making a guy's brain go explodey, is quite appropriate if not as outrageously flashy as some other powers. But who needs flashy when you can point and kill someone, and basically do the Darth Vader thing?

Probably my favorite thing about the game in general, and that took me a bit to wrap my brain around, is that most combat encounters are going to be about a single staggering blow that puts one of the combatants down or puts them off so much that it's a one-sided fight thereafter, because DRYH roots itself in noir. Not much in the way of protracted fights, there -- when the fight hangs on that one winning roll instead of getting a few good ones and tolerating some bad ones, every roll counts.
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

06 Apr 2010, 00:21

Okay. So. Long story short, I am a distractable fool. Now that that's out of the way, let us try to figure out a reasonable time to play.

As I said before, I'm open most evenings but Wednesday and Saturday. Friday is a little more probable now if it's something a little early-eveningish -- the game I was playing on Fridays got pushed back to 10pm (Eastern) for the time being. Otherwise, Wednesday and Saturday are perhaps-maybe-possible post-midnight (again, Eastern), as are other nights if people are so inclined.

So let us plan! Let us get things going! Let us see how viciously you can get screwed over much adventure there is to be had in the Mad City!
"You ask me what makes man great? That he re-created nature? That he has harnessed cosmic forces? That in a brief time he conquered the planet and opened a window on the universe? No! That, despite all this, he has survived and intends to survive in the future."
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

06 Apr 2010, 00:38

As I said, around midnight (on any day) would be best for me. As for other times... well, I'll address those as they come up, I suppose. My schedule isn't always consistent during the day, so if we'll be holding it then, I don't mind being left behind.

(I still need to read through the rules and create a character, but I don't think that will be too difficult. The game looks relatively simple.)
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

06 Apr 2010, 06:22

I'm still free just about any day, any time. I can't say yet whether later or earlier works better for me, so I'm just going to go with whatever fits everyone else.
 
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Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

07 Apr 2010, 19:02

Let's see...During the day/evening, Monday, Friday, and the weekend end up being the best. After midnight, the only day I couldn't is Monday, since I have to actually get up Tuesday morning.

The only foreseeable problem I could have with weekends is a monthly table-top campaign to which I am not allowed to bring my laptop and be distracting myself with eldritch horrors (People get funny when the healer is distractable, who knew?). It usually falls on a Sunday, and runs late.

Otherwise, I can generally work my already-bizarre sleeping schedule into something that works better for other people.
"And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!"
-Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

"Peaceful days are over. Let's Survive." --Naoya, Devil Survivor
 
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The Purples
Essence 5
Essence 5
Posts: 527
Joined: 06 May 2006, 22:39
Title: Goddamn Purples
Exalt: Solar
Fighting Style: The Purple.
Artifact: 800080
Location: The Purple.
Contact:

Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

08 Apr 2010, 05:28

I'm available most late evenings due to the fact I live on the west coast and thus the evenings aren't really that late for me most of the time. :buddy:
'So you say your name is Ulysses,
that you're wandering around the world.
Tell me sir, have you ever been arrested before?'

This is the worst thing. -bassist159

Here there be dragons.
 
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Phoenix_Kensai
Essence 2
Essence 2
Posts: 36
Joined: 04 Jun 2009, 18:36
Title: Not a Sidereal
Exalt: Lunar
Fighting Style: Stupid Useless Compassion

Re: Don't Rest Your Head - D is for Dreaming

10 Apr 2010, 02:38

I finally took the time to read through the rules. Hopefully I'll have a character up soon.

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