Friday, May 22, 2015

Discussion: If You Could Only Play One Game...

We have lots of questions about "if you could only take one thing" somewhere and people answer them all the time. Today I want to put a different spin on it. Think back over your history of gaming. Think of all the games you've played. All the campaigns you've been in. All the worlds you have visited. Which was your favorite? Which was your least favorite? Which added the most enrichment to your life?

Alright, now, if an all powerful being of some sort was going to retro-actively change your life so that your entire history of playing table top RPGs had all been focused around one singular game, which game would you want it to be? Which game would you want to have introduced you to the hobby and been used as the vehicle  for all the games you've played since then? Which game would you be still finding enjoyment in al these years later, and looking forward to more years of gaming?

For me it is a tough choice, but I think I would settle with Legend of the Five Rings. For one thing, I love east asian culture, the samurai, and L5R delivers that in a digestable way better than most other games I've seen. For another though, L5R is probably one of the most open systems I've seen for how the world, and the system, let you play the game. You can do so many different types of games in L5R. You can do single clan games. You can do mixed clan games.You can do ronin games. You can do political games. Your PCs can be nobodies out on adventure. Your PCs can be clan champions and the big movers and shakers of the world.

There are other games that offer similar depth and breadth. FATE and GURPS have infinite possibilities for games. Something about L5R though just grabs me.

How about you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Naming Conventions

When making a fantasy world one of the things a lot of people get hung up on is naming conventions. Not for characters. Generally most of us have an idea on how to do it - even if that idea is to use random breaks and apostrophes so that Luke Tilman becomes Lu'keti Lma'n. However, there is an easier way. A much easier way. How easy? So easy that you probably aren't even considering it though it is right in front of you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Spicing Up Combat With Incidental Damage

In the movies big fights tend to rage all over. The area the fight takes place in is changed by the fight. The brawl is almost always as destructive to the environment as it is to those fighting in it. In RPGs this is less the case. Whether due to being snapped to a grid or just because of the mechanical intensity a lot of groups have combats that leave the area the fight takes place in almost pristine. Heck, in some systems you could probably run small skirmishes (say 10 on 10 fights) in a china shop and not damage a single thing on the shelf unless someone deliberately started pushing them over. Today, I want to talk about that.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Discussion: What Kind Of Player Are You?

RPGs as a hobby draw different kinds of people to the table, and for vastly different reasons. Some people like the puzzles and some like the acting. Some like telling stories and others like the social experience. For some people it's the only way to hang out with their friends - and yes, that is different from the social aspect.

So what kind of player are you? What do you get from the table? Even better though, how did you get into the game?

For me, getting in it was just a game I played with my cousin. It was the thing we did, and kind of the thing that was done to hang out with him. From there though I started getting hooked on the stories and experiences. The games we played let me do stuff I couldn't do in other games. Then I tried running. I haven't stopped since.

At present I game for numerous reasons. I enjoy the stories, but that isn't the primary reason. If I just want to tell stories I can write. However, Role Playing lets me play and build worlds that otherwise don't exist. They let me participate in stories that aren't like other narrative endeavors. With that, I also get a kick out of solving puzzles and the other obstacles that RPGs put in front of you. Even better is mixing them, and not solving the puzzle in the optimal way but in the way a view point different than my own would do it.

What about you? What got you into the hobby? What's kept you around?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Behind The Rule: GMs Shouldn't Say No

We have a lot of unwritten rules in Table Top RPG land. Each group has their own collection, and various subgroups and niches have variations on them. In the land of GM advice, one of the most commonly bandied about tropes is that as the GM you should never say no to your PCs. You should say "yes, if...," "yes, and...," or "yes, but..." but you shouldn't say no. But what does that really mean? Can you really not say no? Today I want to look at this piece of advice a bit closer, break it down, and suss out the core wisdom it is trying to impart.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Standard Operating Procedures

Standard operating procedures are wonderful things, both in real life and in games. In real life they give us a script with which to complete certain actions to make sure we either do them right or in a way that will bring about similar results to previous endeavors. In game they serve as a great tool for reducing the amount of time that needs to be spent on important but highly mechanical/nuanced obstacles, or just for having an idea in mind as to what a character is or would be doing in a situation when they were not specifically doing something else.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Discussion: Creepiest Monster You've Made Recently?

GMs are frequently good at making demons and nightmare creatures that come way out of left field and do a great job of making a player shudder in revulsion. Sometimes the GM pulls from their own fears. Sometimes the GM pulls from a fear of the player's, or of the character in question. Today I want to ask what was the creepiest monster/encounter you've made recently, and how did it go over with your players?

For me I think it was a relatively small thing. In my L5R game the players were attacked by a corpse. They responded by cutting its head off. The head rolled towards someone and exploded while the body kept fighting. So they cut the limbs off. The limbs kept fighting indvidually.

However, while that was happening the head wasn't done yet. The explosion had impacted bits of bone against the back of one of the PCs. Which then became weird when the PC felt those bits of shrapnel crawling up her back. Then felt something long, warm, and slimy against her collarbone/neck gripping to pull it up. The corpse's mouth - jaws and tongue - was still moving and coming for her.

The player visibly squirmed. They continued to do so through the entire encounter as they had to deal with a corpse's mouth. Such a simple thing, but it went over very well.

How about with you?