The last two weeks have been nuts for me. Taxes. Prepping for Cub Scout Blue & Gold ceremony, doing the Blue & Gold, crazy Day Job, running amok like a general mad man, and trying to get some writing done. There’s probably more going on in life right now than I can catalog, but hopefully it calms down soon.
Time to drop loads of links to you folks for the past 2+ weeks. Because I’m so far behind, I’m afraid my comments might be a bit brief. Sorry.
Senda’s article about difficult decisions made me step back and reassess how I’m running certain games. Not all games need difficult decisions. However, enough do that I need to think about how to present them to my players. Most specifically, I’m thinking about my Dresden Files RPG games. If you’ve read the books, you know that Jim Butcher puts the screws to Harry Dresden by forcing him into picking the least evil choice that will bring high costs to himself and those around him. This is excellent writing, and following this idea can lead to excellent role playing.
I have a quote around here somewhere on my hard drive, and I used to use it my email signature. I can’t find the quote around now which makes me sad. It’s from Gary Gygax and goes something like this, “No computer game can approach the quality of tabletop role playing.” I’m certain I’ve mangled the quote, but the gist gets across. While computer-based RPGs have certainly advanced to higher levels in recent years, I still prefer having a human GM at the table who can extrapolate and improvise game rulings when weird situations come up. This is a tangental comment to the post which postulates that all games are becoming (or already are in some cases) RPGs. I can’t really argue with that. There’s even gamification of “to do lists” where you get rewards and such for completing your self-assigned tasks on time or by performing a certain daily action (like working out or writing) a certain amount of time each day.
I’ve tried to mashup genres in RPGs before (using GURPS and Hero System), but it’s always fallen flat for me. Too many choices. Too many options. Too much going on. I think the failing was on my behalf, not the game system or the genres chosen. I think a quality mashup effort will not open the doors wide open, but examine the Venn diagram and find where the genres overlap. Then focus in on that overlap and allow choices from that area of the overlapping circles. Huh. While typing up this comment, I think I figured out how to make my “Faeriepunk” genre mashups work properly. Maybe I’ll see about putting together a splatbook for Fate or Savage Worlds (both?) that incorporates these ideas. Thanks for the article, Taylor!
This is an interesting idea. Don’t assume wizards (or any other class, really) have recently graduated from their respective training institutions and start adventuring at level 1. This doesn’t accurately reflect the apprentice model, modern schooling, or just about any other educational system. Instead, people are released out into the world with adequate (sometimes barely adequate) training to go accomplish things with a decent chance of success. In the case of this post, the first 6 levels would involve school for wizarding. Once level 7 is obtained, then the real adventures start. I kind of like this approach, and I wonder how it could impact other character classes.
Spider caves! Need I say more? Oh. I guess I do. As usual, Dyson produced a beautiful map that’s also functional. Go have fun with it!
These types of lists are great to me. They get the creative juices flowing, and I think they can lead to many great ideas… and as the title of the post says, distractions as well.
Ooooohhh…..! Troy has put together a player’s dice box that is an absolute work of art! I dig this a great deal, and it’s made me want to attempt to replicate (but not duplicate) his results. Well done, Troy! Thanks for the great pictures of your creation as well.
Mike has a great article about intelligence (in and out of game) and IQ and the brain and creativity and how all of this interoperates. He’s proposed some game changes (based on D&D/d20, I assume) to introduce more refined stats beyond just “INT” for mental capacity, creativity, learning, and extrapolation. He also makes a great point in the intro material about IQ going up about 3 points every 10 years on average. That’s new information to me, so I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy things future generations dream up to do with their increased mental faculties.
Craig’s guest post over at Gnome Stew is a great one. He delves into the different levels a story (fiction or gaming) can be interpreted. He’s absolutely right. There are many different facets and angles to use at observing a story, and each person brings their own viewpoint. I’ve discovered in my many critique groups that different people will interpret the same words in completely different ways because they bring their own perspectives, insights, and histories with them to expressing what they see.
I recently had the “Are things fun?” conversation with my players. They say they’re having fun and engaged, but something’s still bothering me about the overall status of the game. I hope they are truly engaged and interested. We’ll see how the next session goes this Friday. This post speaks directly to my fears and worries. It’s a good post as well as timely. Even if you’re not having doubts now, I’m sure you will someday. It just happens. This is good reading for when that day comes.
Marty has an excellent post about metagaming. If you’re not sure what this is, then head over there for the explanation. It’s great. He also goes on to say that metagaming doesn’t have to ruin the game… to an extent. Yeah, as GMs, we hate it when players using their knowledge to influence what their more-or-less ignorant characters would do. It’s frustrating, but it happens. There are plenty of responses to this, and Marty outlines a few.
Tom has some great questions out there for aspiring adventure designers. It’s not an exhaustive list of questions, but the list is a great starting point. While answering these questions, don’t limit your answers to only those questions, but think up new ones as you jot down answers. One of the most powerful (yet kind of generic) questions you can ask about an answer you give is, “Why?” If the Dark Lord Necromancer wants to raise an army of undead to raze the neighboring nation… Why? He was spurned by a former lover who now resides in the nation, but he’s not sure where. A targeted attack can’t happen, but if he kills everyone in the nation, he’ll get to the lover eventually. Why did the lover leave the Dark Lord Necromancer? There’s some motivation (and great backstory) for an NPC. Keep digging through the “Why?” process until you’re satisfied with the amount of material you have. You’ll never run out of “Why?” but eventually you have to stop in order to complete the adventure or even run it.
I love the standing stones around what appears to be a small city or village. That’s the detail that caught my eye when I looked at this map, and there’s plenty of detail to go around! Go check it out.
Looking for some smaller presses in a small industry? Look no further than this list right here. Marty has an excellent list of publishers who just might provide that niche product you’re looking for. Thanks for the list, Marty!
This article ties in with the one several links above about adventure creation. It is different from prepping for an adventure. With prep, you know your players, their characters, their likes/dislikes/phobias/loves, and all those important details. You can tailor the adventure to them with high degrees of specificity. However, when writing an adventure, you’re most likely going to be throwing it out into the wild with no chance to know who is running it, let along who they are running it for. This article delves into the “writing” portion of things with great advice!
Okay. Confession time. I’m the dominant player. I was super shy as a child. I broke through that barrier in high school and gained tons of confidence in the intervening years. I don’t mind talking to strangers, making friends that way, acting my role at the convention RPG table, and generally being the center of attention. However, in recent years, I’ve learned that I don’t have to be the center of attention. I’ve tempered my outgoing nature, so to allow others to have their spotlight time. In more recent times than that, I’ve learned how to use my outgoing nature to include others in the spotlight. I don’t push or force, but I’ll gladly hand the baton to another player and allow them to run with it. By verbally including others in my actions, I take my outgoing and gregarious nature and wrap them in the embrace. Of course, this makes some people uncomfortable, and sometimes you can’t predict that at a con game until you’ve done it. If you sense someone just wants to sit back and be a wallflower, allow them to come out on their own. Don’t force it on them. In my experience, those wallflowers are waiting for the right moment, and you just need to provide it…. but that’s not always the case. In general, be nice to others and be inclusive all* others, and you’ll get along just fine. (There’s a “*” next to “all” in the “be inclusive” statement because there are some people that don’t need to be included in society like hate groups, bigots, misogynistic folks, and others that actively try to exclude or harm others.)