Wednesday, 31 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016: the complete series

#RPGaDay 2016

1: Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to “roll”?
2: Best game session since August 2015?
3: Character moment you are proudest of?
4: Most impressive thing another’s character did
5: What story does your group tell about your character?
6: Most Amazing Thing A Game Group Did For Their Community?
7: What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?
8: Hardcover, softcover, digital. What is your preference?
9: Beyond the game, what’s involved in an ideal session?
10: Largest in-game surprise you ever experienced?
11: Which gamer most affected the way you play?
12: What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?
13: What makes a successful campaign?
14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?
15: Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?
16: Historical person you’d like in your group? What game?
17: What fictional character would fit best in your group?
18: What innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?
19: Best way to learn a new game?
20: Most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?
21: Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?
22: Supposedly random game events that keep happening?
23: Share one of your best “Worst Luck” stories
24: What is the game you are most likely to give to others?
25: What makes a good character?
26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?
27: Most unusual circumstance or location in which you’ve gamed
28: Thing you’d be most surprised a friend had not seen or read?
29: You can game anywhere on Earth, where would you choose?
30: Describe the ideal game room if the budget were unlimited
31: Best advice you were ever given for your game of choice?

#RPGaDay 2015
#RPGaDay 2014

See you again in 2017! And here tomorrow.

#RPGaDay 2016 31: Best advice for and from games

#RPGaDay 2016

31: Best advice you were ever given for your game of choice?

So many games of choice...

Vampire: The Masquerade - don’t try to include everything from the World Of Darkness. Seriously. Don’t.

Adventure! - allow cross-type Knacks.

Buffy - cast the characters. It can help visualise the setting and keep lots of NPCs distinct, and let you sneak in a few jokes. And editing together a credits sequence makes a viable Christmas gift for the whole game group. And if you predict an actor’s future roles that’s always funny.

Vampire: The Requiem - Touchstones!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

First contact?

SETI is listening to something. Although the internet has exaggerated slightly.

What if it actually was a signal? What would that mean for us?

#RPGaDay 2016 30: At the table

#RPGaDay 2016

30: Describe the ideal game room if the budget were unlimited

Okay, I would love a table like this updated every week. And then we would still improv away from it.

A screen would be good for showing people things, but always on would be distracting.

Again, this is the kind of extra I think could be nice but really isn’t a big deal to how I play.

Or, obviously, a holodeck.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder has died. A moment of thanks for all the characters he gave us.

#RPGaDay 2016 29: Where it will take you

#RPGaDay 2016

29: You can game anywhere on Earth, where would you choose?

This weekend: New Orleans. (Damn my not being at The Grand Masquerade. Boo.)

Generally: indoors with a comfortable chair and access to WiFi and snacks. It’s about the people, not the places.

Gamer retreats (either for comfort and groupiness or for atmosphere as well) can get lots of good gaming done, or can equally not help all that much at all. Outside gaming in particular often adds distractions. This ain’t a LARP.

Sure, playing somewhere really out there could be fun - a Doctor Who game on the TARDIS set - but in the end it’s just set dressing for the Theatre of the Mind. Heavy.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 28: You've never seen...?

#RPGaDay 2016

28: Thing you’d be most surprised a friend had not seen or read?

Star Wars.

Star Wars has both the lowest bar of any geek media universe (one movie, and as of December you have two basic options for which one) and the highest profile, not coincidentally. The radio series about celebrities doing things they’ve missed or avoided before is called I’ve Never Seen Star Wars for a reason.

For reading, I guess The Hobbit. Lord Of The Rings takes time and effort - The Hobbit takes a couple hours. (Hence the joke that if you don’t have time to watch one of the films, just read the book.)

Not played would seem more relevant than not seen or read. So probably D&D, because it’s omnipresent. Even though its omnipresence and age made me personally avoid it for decades, up until 3rd edition, I still knew it well enough that I could have played it (at least as a Fighter) from about age twelve.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 27: Unusual places to play

#RPGaDay 2016

27: Most unusual circumstance or location in which you’ve gamed.

Discussing an ongoing game rather than actually playing it, but in a cab on the way back from hospital to confirm I’d broken my arm on the way to a session.

Location-wise, the impromptu WFRP adventure (complete with character generation) I ran on the coach back from the Nationals is the longest game I ever GMed... geographically.

Friday, 26 August 2016

How showrunning is like GMing

John Rogers, who has done both, talks to Rob Wieland about dungeons, dragons, thieves, Librarians and relationship charts.

(Obviously producing TV shows is not a hobby for him, but RPGs are a hobby that goes with it.)

And through a link when Rob posted this on RPG.net, a Dark*Matter AP from Mr. Rogers in 2002.

#RPGaDay 2016 26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?

#RPGaDay 2016

26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?

Reading, obviously, because RPGs mostly require a fair bit of recreational reading and often encourage reading setting material and attached fiction as well as rules sections.

Everything else that we often see connected to RPGs (other types of games, writing, art, acting, improv, consuming geek media, collecting collectables) is secondary. If I’m playing a board or card game there’s a good chance it means an RPG session fell through at the last minute.

Being able to come up with the right kind of stuff to fill a session on the fly gets easier with familiarity, and some knowledge of the ins and outs of both game and narrative structures helps.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Troublesome Character Types

Okay, answering the last RPGaDay question with three words wasn’t very content-rich. True, and (I think) funny, but I guess I can unpick it a little.

There are certain character types that are red flags for attracting disruptive players. Special Snowflakes for attention hogs, loners for those who want to go off and have solo adventures in the middle of a session, Chaotic Malkavians for those who want to act out when hey get bored, evil characters in basically good parties for those who want to kill other PCs when they get bored. The list goes on.

But none of this is the fault of the character type.

I’ve seen a loner PC whose player actively avoided the entire campaign, and a loner PC whose player came up with reasons to stick around and whose solo activities were kept short and to the point - in the same campaign.

It’s the difference between Wolverine in Wolverine and Wolverine in The X-Men - the archetypal brooding loner PC who cares about the team’s agenda and goals and (some of) its members as well as having personal plot hooks.

Heck, I have a Malkavian in my current Vampire: The Masquerade game, because I knew I could trust the player.

Likewise, I could list good points for characters - fitting the setting, offering some interesting hooks, having a reason to be at the table (even if the game isn’t about a party per se, we’re still gathering at the table) - but they all boil down to things I think a good player will do.

#RPGaDay 2016 25: What makes a good character?

#RPGaDay 2016

25: What makes a good character?

A good player.

BAM!
(I considered a President Obama GIF but I'm so much more of a Ben.)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 24: What is the game you are most likely to give to others?

#RPGaDay 2016

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

Adventure! as two people I know who I have given it to as a leaving gift can attest.

I should note that they were already gamers and members of my groups, so this isn’t an introductory gift to potential gamers, in case that was the intent. I dunno what I’d do there.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 23: Worst Luck stories

#RPGaDay 2016

23: Share one of your best “Worst Luck” stories.

Sometimes the 1s just keep coming. I once canned a game for this, as it had no mechanic to buy off the frankly alarming number of botches someone was rolling.

If you can bring it in-game, do so. Which is why an episode of The Watch House that was going to be about something else became about a capricious boggart dropping a luck-stealing curse on the group.

Monday, 22 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 22: "Random" game events

#RPGaDay 2016

22: Supposedly random game events that keep happening?

This could easily become a rant about dice pools giving me Advantage instead of any actual success at what I wanted to do in the FFG Star Wars system. Let’s just say I would like a different result spread.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 21: Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?

#RPGaDay 2016

21: Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?

Going outside RPGs to wargaming, and going back twenty-five years, the first time (possibly the only time) RM played BattleTech and we started to wonder why his lightly armoured Whitworth was shrugging off so much damage. The game uses a standard mech sheet, and the armour and damage tracks are represented by dots. And he was counting the lightly crossed out unarmoured dots rather than the blank armoured ones.

Still, good to learn this all together a year or so before Vampire: The Masquerade came out.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 20: Challenging system?

#RPGaDay 2016

20: Most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?

I don’t really want a system to challenge me. If a system keeps hogging my attention I’m liable to use something less obtrusive instead.

I’ll make an exception for games designed with specific purposes in mind. Leverage maybe? It’s about telling an entertaining crime story rather than simulating crime, so the authorial distance of encouraging players to put their characters in trouble for later payoffs (and getting them out with player narrated Flashbacks) isn’t interfering with regular player to character identification. It’s still more moving parts than many players like to deal with though.

Friday, 19 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 19: Best way to learn a new game?

#RPGaDay 2016

19: Best way to learn a new game?

At the table.

(Obviously depending on the GM and other players teaching it.)

Second best is sitting down and reading the book.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

For that much she better make point five past lightspeed

A 1/72 scale Millennium Falcon model kit? Ooh.

Only $299 and 904 parts.

#RPGaDay 2016 18: What innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?

#RPGaDay 2016

18: What innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?

Holodecks!

Perhaps a bit sooner, Apocalypse World style playbooks becoming common tools for partial pregens and starting players to put together a template character quickly based on a couple options every stage.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Firefly: The Animated Trailer

To celebrate 2100 posts (why not) and Can’t Stop The Serenity here on Saturday, Firefly: The Animated Trailer by Stephen Byrne.

Your soul will ache, But it’s a good ache.

#RPGaDay 2016 17: What fictional character would fit best in your group?

#RPGaDay 2016

17: What fictional character would fit best in your group?

Charlie from Supernatural would fit best in all gaming groups worthy of the name.

The question wasn’t who I’d want in my group. She’d still be welcome, but my first pick would be Scheherazade. Now there’s a GM...

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 16: Historical person you'd like in your group?

#RPGaDay 2016

16: Historical person you’d like in your group? What game?

Sir Terry Pratchett sadly now qualifies. Anything he feels like running would be good by me.

Going further back in history to people I haven’t personally met, the Brontë sisters’ fantasy world sounds like it could be fun to play in.

And Peter Cushing would be welcome though he was more into wargames. I’d love to have him in a Doctor Who game...

Monday, 15 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 15: Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?

#RPGaDay 2016

15: Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?

RPG books, I guess. And RPG websites. And regular books. And TV and films. And comics. And sometimes music. And history. And the news.

And the players. Very much the players.

Okay, less generally, I’ll watch and read a lot about the setting (or settings it draws from) while doing other things. I’ll immerse myself in it, rereading specific sourcebooks or watching a particular episode of Buffy or even just listening to the Star Wars theme before heading to a session, to get into the right headspace and get the rhythms of the language. This can result in my talking Buffyspeak for days on end.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?

#RPGaDay 2016

14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?

... would look a lot like the major cast of The Watch House, with some additions from The Door In Time. I have other likely candidates in current games, liable to join future games, and still in the country.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Kenny Baker, best known for performing R2-D2, has died, aged 81. Taking a moment to think of all the performers like him whose work we love and who we so rarely know by name or sight.

Crowdfund Steve D. Do it.

Give Steve D some money, and he will give you games.

#RPGaDay 2016 13: What makes a successful campaign?

#RPGaDay 2016

13: What makes a successful campaign?

The players. Probably the GM. Luck.

Okay, one element you can have some control over - what does and doesn’t go into the campaign. This can include tailoring to the group, who is at the table, but also in-campaign elements like the breadth of the setting, its Weird Level and so on. One of the reasons The Watch House lasted seven seasons (as did Buffy, and five for Angel) is that we could throw crazy high-concept adventures in with little or no warning or excuse. See above re Captain Rugged.

But it was ultimately the players and GM having fun at the table that kept them coming back.

(I’ll take “stating the obvious” for ten points.)

Part of that was the design of the game not to be high-risk in a way that can be stressful to play, with death and serious injury off the table unless the player in question found it interesting - so players could kick back, have their characters make jokes and be awesome in the face of horror, and some could bring the authorial distance and Whedon pain while others elected not to.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Rogue One, trailer two

December Sixteen.

I was already rather keen. I am now X much more rather keen.

#RPGaDay 2016 12: Next game?

#RPGaDay 2016

12: What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?

I have a regular group and a university games society (which contains some regulars who may constitute a group, some of whom are in my current game there).

Group: Dunno really. Hope we find out soon.

Society: Well, as ever I have a bunch of ideas. I’m nearly finished a two-year Vampire: The Masquerade game, which could continue but best to go out on a high. I’d like to get some use out of Leverage, ICONS, Night’s Black Agents, TimeWatch, although the ICONS campaign idea I have is probably the strongest of those... My always-there backup is Buffy. And my most viable idea is probably d6 Star Wars. Maybe classic Rebels, or maybe in the Resistance era. And remember that’s at most three slots, and I don’t want to GM in all of them. (Although the society currently encourages new games and/or re-recruiting every term, so technically it’s nine slots...) So, yeah.

Dunno really. Hope we find out soon.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 11: Which gamer most affected the way you play?

#RPGaDay 2016

11: Which gamer most affected the way you play?

I guess my brother, who did not go on to become a gamer, but despite this GMed my first session. And nearly TPKed the group in a side room encounter. I learned a lot in that one fight.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Monday, 8 August 2016

And this is why I don't use miniatures terrain

I would never be satisfied until it looked like this table setup.

#RPGaDay 2016 8: How I read

#RPGaDay 2016

8: Hardcover, softcover, digital. What is your preference?

Hardcover rulebook and core sourcebooks big enough to require it, softcover for most supplements and trade-size rulebooks, physical copies for initial reading and in the character generation stage and well-tabbed PDFs on my tablet for reference at most sessions.

So, er... yes.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 7: Effects of RPGs

#RPGaDay 2016

7: What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?

The other people involved. Second to that would be how much my writing has been seen as a result. (Hello other people who are seeing my writing right now!)

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Dracula Vs. Gen Con

The Dracula Dossier scored big in the ENnies awards, including Product Of The Year.

To celebrate, the add-on book of Dracula adaptation reviews The Thrill Of Dracula features Night’s Black Agents rules for one unusual power.

It’s from Dracula Untold.

Yes, it’s what you think it is.

FIST OF BATS

#RPGaDay 2016 6: Community service

#RPGaDay 2016

6: Most Amazing Thing A Game Group Did For Their Community?

There’s a reason Irish con charity auctions won the Diana Jones award. Auctions, raffles, rerolls, marathons.

Speaking personally, getting two years’ Conpulsion auction proceeds helped a group I suggested gain charity status.

Friday, 5 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 5: What story does your group tell about your character?

#RPGaDay 2016

5: What story does your group tell about your character?

Flattering answer - the time the starship captain interrupted an invading alien commando’s speech about having blocked all beam weapons by throwing his blaster at his face.

Less flattering answer - the time they spent four months looking for some missing scientists. In my defence, they did find them in the end, and the bad guys had been moving them...

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Promethean: The Created Second Edition

Promethean: The Created Second Edition is out in preview PDF, with physical books to follow.

#RPGaDay 2016 4: Most impressive thing another's character did

#RPGaDay 2016

4: Most impressive thing another’s character did

So many more options here.

The Watch House: Milli Versus Frankenstein! William The Dragon Slayer! Evil Jake! Natalie deciding not to be a princess! The accidental creation of Captain Rugged!

The Door In Time: Kai mending the universe! Effie talking down Trotsky from allying with the Cybermen!

The time in Adventure! that Rocket Man got thrown out of a zeppelin sans rocket pack and adventuring archaeologist Lexi Forbes knocked out the goon holding it, grabbed it and dived out after him!

The Star Wars pilot Tylla Vaatu who fired a Star Destroyer engine through the rest of the ship!

The time a group of Dark Ages Vampire PCs failed to solve a mystery and framed a convenient scapegoat! Okay, that one’s kind of mean...

And of course Mr. Bennett.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 3: Character moment you are proudest of?

#RPGaDay 2016

3: Character moment you are proudest of?

Being the first investigator to die in a Call Of Cthulhu convention game run by creator Sandy Petersen. Dracula stamped on me, with the description “his foot goes through you like fresh snow.” I was, and remain, delighted. :)

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 2: Best game session since August 2015?

#RPGaDay 2016

2: Best game session since August 2015?

Hmm. Well, the Nationals usually rates pretty high.

As a regular GM, the Christmas special of my Vampire: The Masquerade game.

(Day one aggregate, and, well, shucks.)

Monday, 1 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 1: How I roll

#RPGaDay 2016

1: Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to “roll”?

Calling them real, not physical? ;)

Anyway, let’s go with physical. On a surface they won’t bounce off and get lost. (I’ve known players who could lose dice before picking them up.)

Even though I hardly ever roll as a GM since Cinematic Unisystem.