28 August, 2016

#RPGaDay 26 and 27




Day 26 - What hobbies go well with RPGs?

My succinct answer...What hobbies don't go well with RPGs?

Drawing goes great with RPGs, drawing characters, drawing maps, drawing equipment, drawing strange symbols. In that whole field we can probably include calligraphy for writing in-character letters, or painting if more elaborate portaiture is required.

Reading goes great with RPGs because it can be used to find ideas to add into a story, or information to verify events that may occur during the course of play.

Sports and fitness pursuits go great with RPGs, especially LARP even if only for the physical fitness side of things. But at a wider level, having an intimate understanding of what the body can actually handle is good for allowing us to understand where character limits might lie, or might help us understand how alien our characters really are.

Amateur theatre goes great with RPGs, not only LARP where play acting the character activities is a part of play, but also on the tabletop where a bit of ad-lib can take things up a notch.

Woodwork and Leatherwork can be integrated well in the realm of prop making for games. (so can metalwork if you're that way inclined).

Sitting on a couch watching football probably doesn't go well with RPGs.

Day 27 - Most unusual circumstance or location in which you've gamed?

13 years ago, my wedding was one hell of a LARP.

But another great location was when we LARPed in a theme park, because half of the park's security team were gamers and in on the action. 50 players amongst 5,000 non-gamers, playing a subversive game where they weren't allowed to fight, but had to gain control of territories by placing markers and answering scavenger hunt styled questions throughout the day. This was in the late 90s, so well and truly before Ingress or anything like that which would now be considered "augmented reality" gaming.



27 August, 2016

#RPGaDay 24 and 25




Day 24 - What is the game you are most likely to give to others?

My own game FUBAR... that reminds me, I need to get printed copies of that game organised. So far I just keep directing people to the free download at RPGNow.

It's been a fun game with a wide range of players over the years at conventions, it's handled short form campaigns too. I just haven't had a whole lot of feedback from other people playing it (despite it   Being downloaded 5000 times, or more).

Day 25 - What makes for a good character?

5 things.
  1. A name. Something evocative, something that alludes to a past or a connection to a culture.
  2. A goal. something that the character wants now, or has wanted for a long time. This is great for hooking medium and long term stories to, and for learning how the character wants to affect the wider world.
  3. A hindrance. Something that is preventing the character from achieving their goal. This is great for hooking short term events to, a way to get to know the characters and how they have been affected by the world.
  4. A strength. This is the way the charcter finds it easiest to manipulate the world around them, it might be a special skill set, a supernatural power, an association of allies, it could be anything. It explains how the character has dealt with the world so far, but there is probably something about the hindrance that prevents the strength from being used to attain the goal.
  5. A weakness. This a regular thing that prevents the character from achiving their goals, it's more general than the specific hindrance (which is typically associated with a specific goal). It could be a supernatural mineral, a significant companion, a phobia, anything that's possible to come up multiple times ov the course of a story.

Everything else is just dressing, and falling short of these five things often makes a character seem aimless or incomplete.

#RPGaDay 22 and 23




Day 22 - Supposedly randomly game events that keep recurring?

I don't know that I've played any game long enough for this to occur. Similarly, as indicated previously in this year's questions I know a group of gamers who tend to play the player, rather than the scenario. I don't see random things happening, instead I see the same players riffing off against one another in the same ways, in different settings and genres, and under different sets of game mechanisms.

I really don't think this question is valid to my gaming experience.

Day 23 - Share one of your best "worst luck" stories.

In the classic "World of Darkness", werewolves would spontaneously throw up if they ever ingested vampire blood...unless they failed some kind of roll (it might have been Stamina or Gnosis), if they botched the roll they'd die. I understand that this was a mechanism put in place to stop certain types of players gaining access to a range of powers from both the Vampire and the Werewolf rule sets. If a werewolf were ever killed with Vampire blood in their veins (because they'd failed the earlier roll), there was a chance they'd become an "Abomination", a vampiric werewolf using their spiritual Gnosis to hold the bloodthirsty beast at bay rather than their humanity. Then there was the book "Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand", where the Vampiric discipline of "Vicissitude" was an infection that could be transmitted via the blood of the Tzimisce clan of Vampires, again if you failed the roll you'd become susceptible to the disease even if you normally shouldn't have.

This all goes back to +Klaus Teufel again. I didn't know much about this stuff at the time, when I was playing my first LARP werewolf character. I was playing a naive innocent in a dangerous world, and only really read the books in detail when I figured my character would be aware of what was happening. I kept failing my character's rolls, watching him falling further from innocence with each one. First to become a ghoul to a vampire, only to find that he was a "Sabbat infiltrator of the Camarilla", then to discover that he was a Tzimisce, not a Ventrue. Failing further rolls, my Werewolf (with natural shapeshifting potential) contracted the "Vicissitude infection" which made his form even more mutable. With the capability of generating massive combat stats in Crinos (half-man/half-beast) form, and eventually the capability of generating similar massive stats in the "Horrid Form" of Vicissitude, I remember asking if I could combine the two to become a savage creature of outright destruction. It was decided by certain members of the GM staff that if my spiritual side lost control, then this might be feasible, if my character's "horrid form" looked like Alien, then his "Horrid-Crinos-Hybrid-Form" was the Alien Queen.

I failed the roll and lost spiritual control. I don't remember if anyone in the local vicinity survived.

#RPGaDay 20 and 21




Day 20 - Most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?

Most challenging system that I never quite learned would have to be Rolemaster, but that would only be an answer if you include "learning" the system to mean memorising all of the tables off by heart. It's a savage beast, with incredibly complexity. But actually, everything in it is pretty formulaic. These days I'd love to program the tables into a webpage or app that would take care of all the page turning and referencing behind the scenes, just giving the interesting and quirky outcomes. If someone's already done that, a link would be much appreciated.

A challenging system in another way entirely is Rifts, I did learn that basically inside out back in the day, but gained most of my rewards in play by ignoring the vast majority of the game system as written. Strangely, reports about official games run by Kevin S at Palladium HQ indicate that he did the same thing... He seems to have written the game as a AD&D heartbreaker, but run it as a loose freeform, only occasionally referencing the rules when it suited him.

In the years since then, I've tended to become more attracted to systems that aren't challenging to get into. Such games have a barrier of entry that just doesn't do it for me... I can handle a game where layers of complexity can be added into the experience when needed, but I've made my disdain for ad-hoc complications and hodge-podge systems pretty clear on a few occasions here at the blog.

I'm told "Burning Wheel" can be tricky to master, but has a lot to offer... I might get into that some time in the future. But my uni studies prevent me getting to engrossed in new game sustems at the moment.

Day 21 - Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?

I know there have been some absolute doozies over the years, but when it comes to specifics, my mind is at a blank for the moment.

#RPGaDay 18 and 19




Day 18 - What innovation could RPG groups most benefit from?

Finally, a question that doesn't assume gaming groups are insular entities, and instead poses the notion that players might be aware of their own gaming group(s) and other gaming groups. But this question suddenly assumes that all gaming groups have the same issues and that specific forms of innovation are uniformed adopted by the entire community. So, needless to say, I think this is a flawed question too.

There are heaps of innovations in the community, with some groups adopting them and others preferring their "traditional approach". In my time I've seen the innovation of narrative driven games, minimalist rule sets, dice rolling apps, diceless roleplaying, roleplaying over live internet feed (first by text, through to current video chat feeds).

In some cases, I think the innovation is just gimmicky, in some cases it actually seems to contribute something positive to the experience.

(Having written this a few days ago, I've actually come up with an innovation across gaming that I'd like to see. I don't specifically know how it would manifest, but I'd love to see the technologies behind "Pokemon Go" utilised in a fantasy RPG overlaying our reality. Perhaps hunting creatures, gathering treasures, fighting other heroes...something like that.)

Day 19 - Best way to learn a new game

Honestly, the best way has to be playing it.

I understand that some people don't feel confident jumping right in, and in this case an observation of a session in play might be a good substitute, but I'd consider this a preliminary step toward playing it for themselves. It's only through direct experience that you feel the full nuances of the rules and how you can use them to interact with the unfolding stories.

20 August, 2016

#RPGaDay 16 and 17




Day 16 - Historical person you'd like in your group? What game?

This is a lot like the "Dream Team" of past players. It's a case of chicken and egg. Do you pick the game first, then find a historical person to match that game? Do you pick a historical person first, and then find a game to match them?

I'd love to play a historical miniatures battlegame against Napoleon or Genghis Khan. I'd love to engage in an elaborate costume LARP with Lord Byron (or even someone taken from us more recently, like Alan Rickman), or maybe a boffer LARP with Errol Flynn. I'd love to see how HP Lovecraft would see the way his mythos is portrayed in modern day RPGs.

There are so many possible answers to this question.

The way most of my groups tend to play, I could easily see someone like the comedian Robin Williams easily fitting into the loosely reined chaos, and I would be interested to see how far the envelope would be pushed, and whether it would end up breaking. I'd imagine we'd play something like HoL.  

Day 17 - What fictional character would best fit in your group?

This is also a lot like the "Dream Team" of past players. So again, there's no easy answer.

Perhaps the Librarian from the Unseen University (Discworld), especially if we were playing something that involved lots of tables and referencing, like Rolemaster.

Maybe, Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride) in a swashbuckling Boffer LARP, because it would be awesome to improve the group's collective swordplay skills, and witty banter is always a plus.

If I was running a game with investigation in it, I want someone like the world greatest detective Bruce Wayne / Batman added to the group (or possibly Sherlock Homes, but depending on the incarnation of Holmes it could be a odd fit), because the current mob can't even pick up on the most blatant trail of clues that I leave them.

19 August, 2016

#RPGaDay 14 and 15


Day 14 - Your dream team of people you used to game with

There are individual people who are absolutely awesome in their own ways...great sources of ad-lib story ideas, knowledgeable manipulators of rules, injectors of chaos, mediators...

The problem with awesome individuals is that sometimes they don't work well as a team. The US Olympic Basketball team might be filled with the best of the best, but they aren't trained to work together, and the sum is less than you'd expect from such premium parts. The same almost always works for the Prime Minister's 11 as a cricket team, awesome individuals used to getting the limelight and glory, sometimes rewsentful when they have to share it.

If I could pick a bunch of players, each specialists in their own type of gaming, contributing to a dream team, I'd have to tailor a few teams based on the type of game being played. I can think of a bunch of players who would be awesome at streamlining the crunch in a fiddly and complex game system, I can think of a completely different group of players who ad-lib really well and probably wouldn't open a game book at all through a short-run/six-session campaign. But I know full well that certain members of each "dream team" do not get on well with one another, and if I were to combine members from different dream teams, I know that the game would go downhill even quicker.

For me, the social aspect of roleplaying games is paramount. I enjoy diversity in games, and as I mentioned in an earlier question, I've learnt to instinctively play the player... I'm not necessarily proud of this, but I know how to react to most players I've dealt with in the past. That's why I like running games at conventions, and joining in games with other groups at conventions (where I might not kjnow everyone in the group). Thios means there are wildcards in the mix, new people to experience, new combinations of play that lead to new stories.

I try not to dwell in a past of "might have beens".  

Day 15 - Your best source of inspiration for RPGs

I love bad movies.

Actually, that's not completely accurate.

I love movies where there is clever worlbuilding, even if the major narrative and plot leaves a lot to be desired. Jupiter Ascending, Bounty Killer, Prometheus, the second and third Matrix movies ...a movie can be a great way to get everyone on the same page quickly with regard to a setting. You spend the first session a\watching it and coming up with character ideas while this happens, maybe even making the characters during the movie. Then you tell the stories of this world that didn't appear in the movie, perhaps using a specific scene as a launch point for the new story, perhaps simply encountering some of the places and lesser members of the cast. 

Movies are good because they're generally self contained, but if everyone is willing to sit down with a comic, or knows a particular historical period, the same idea can be applied. Use the common knowledge as a starting point and deviate the story on a tangent from there.