Jan 022014
 

The title of this blog – welcome back after the holidays by the way – is a small bit of an introductory paragraph to a game idea I’ve had rattling around in the old noggin for the past couple of weeks. I’ll go into detail about it a bit further down, but for now there’s going to be a bit of a catch up, and some ideas about where the blog’s going.

This was originally going to be a New Year’s Revolutions style of post, as I have a few ideas about things I want to do over the next few months. Sadly though, even though for the next month or so I’m expecting life to return to normal, there’s still a whole lot going on that’s outside of my control. After that I will hopefully be busier than I’ve ever been, and will be playing the whole writing thing by ear.

There’s a couple of things I won’t be doing though. Firstly, I won’t making any promises on when I’ll be posting on here. I’ll be continuing my Orbis RPG game write ups as my weekly post – the game starts again next Tuesday, and I can’t wait – but other than that, I have other things to concentrate on. Because of more important things, I’m also not going be able to review games. It’s not as if I get sent a butt-load of them to begin with, but the time it takes to read the entire rule book, and the struggle to get people together to play it, just makes it unfeasible at present.

One of the things that I will be working on though is my Steampunk robot RPG, Rise of the Automata. It got put on the back burner a few months before the holidays as work was getting crazy and I had other things on my plate too. I never stopped thinking about the game though, and have a few ideas about setting and narration that I want to get down, plus some fun new bits that should allow players to have more of a say in character development and making shiny gadgets.

This is obviously going to be a big project, writing wise, and means that my other cool idea may have to sit gestating a while longer before I get round to fleshing it out. What’s odd is that when I started the blog, I found myself worrying that I would run out of ideas and things to talk about, and was amazed when I would read other people’s blogs and see how they struggled to find the time and mental energy to keep up with everything that they wanted to concentrate on.

And here I find myself without the time to get going on a pretty cool idea. Actually, it’s not so much the lack of time, it’s the fact that I really want to see the Steampunk game finished. I had to put a fairly long term hold on the card game I was working on, simply because of the problems that come along with producing and play testing  game that requires so many physical components. I still lack the finds to create a working prototype and take myself along with it to gaming and Steampunk conventions.

I have a dear friend who has lamented that I have never finished the game as he’s a keen Steampunk creator and really liked it, but life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. An RPG has far fewer necessary components that are required to enjoy it. That’s kind of the reason why I decided to to try and create one, along with having a pretty nifty idea for a base system mechanic, that works really well with a Steampunk setting.

The new game though, I have approached slightly differently. I have no system in mind at all, and only a very vague idea about how the game would work. Depending on how much I want to get it done, it could very well end up being a setting for a modular system like Savage Worlds. I hope not, as designing the system for Rise… has been a damned fine experience.

This game – so far without a name – came about because I have been thinking about running a horror game again. Regular readers will know that I’m a bit of fan of the genre, and I always like to inject a little horror into games I run; so long as it doesn’t detract from the base theme and genre. What I have never done though, although I’m a huge fan, is run something Lovecraftian.

I love the Mythos, but have never been a huge fan of any of the systems. Call of Cthulhu does a good job of handling investigations, but I would prefer a more involved combat system, and Trail of Cthulhu doesn’t appeal at all I’m afraid. Not only that, but I’ve had it my mind for a while now that there’s scope out there for role playing in a world that has seen the investigators to have already lost to the cultists.

In the final month of the year 2013, the rituals were performed, at the right time in the right places. There was nothing that those who worked against the Elder Ones and their minions could do. Strange lights were seen in the skies, and the world awoke to find harbingers of the ancient and unspeakable evils that had lain dormant for so very long.

That was two hundred and thirty-seven years ago, and still the evil has not fully returned to our world. After all, what are mere centuries to beings from beyond time and space? Their cultists stalk to halls of power, sacrifices are made in their honour, fed to the other-worldly  creatures that are said to herald their arrival.

The world hasn’t stood still though, and for most people, their lives continued much as before, but with all permeating dread and fear as constant companions. Technology has marched on, both in the hands of those praying daily for the arrival of the Gods, and also those who use to try and thwart the will of these deluded fools.

The Gods are coming. Can they be stopped?

Oct 212013
 

7203642580_30aee2d0d7So I have recently started playing the Chronicles of Riddick on the Xbox 360 – I know, how current am I? – and it had me thinking about difficulty levels in console games and how they might translate to traditional table top RPGs. Basically because it’s a bloody hard game, and I’m not that great at first person shooters anyway. I have in fact come upon an impasse fairly early on in the game, and before I continue I’m going to have to lower the difficulty. To sum up, I am trying to break out of a prison, but there are guards and turret guns, and I’m at a point where I’m struggling to find cover while being shot at from three directions, by two turrets and one guard. I can take out one enemy, but then die before I can make it to cover.

This is not a complaint about the game, which I think is actually pretty damned good, in fact the way the level has been designed reminds me a lot of the way that a Games Master would approach a problem. What both the GM and the Games Designer (GD) want is to make the level feel as realistic and challenging to the player/s as possible. If it was me designing the level, I would almost certainly have done the same thing. The guards seem to have some kind of radio transmitter that means the turret guns don’t target them, but prisoners are fair game. They have also covered all corridors with fields of fire, and then had guards around too, just to make sure. What I wouldn’t do was drop a few convenient chest high walls into the place to offer some cover. I’m sorry to all level designers out there, but it doesn’t matter if they’re collapsed bits of rubble, fallen trees or the corpses of my enemies, they all look out of place and just serve to warn you that a gun fight is about to break out. So thank you to whoever rocked this level design for not making lazy choices and keeping the game challenging.

What the GD didn’t do though was give the player/s a chance to come up with different ways to approach the problem. I know that by now a lot of readers will be thinking that this is just another part of the continuing story of why table top RPGs will also be better than computer games. Although this is certainly true, I think it’s worth saying again, and looking at what we can learn from computer games about things that we shouldn’t do as GMs. The biggest of these is limiting the choices of your players.

If I was a player for instance, I would be doing my damnedest to drag a dead guard into cover somewhere to see if I could figure out why they weren’t getting peppered with holes from the sentry guns. There may very well be a reason why I couldn’t just rip it off the corpse and make myself a tiny bit less killable, but I would like to know that and have a chance to examine things and find a way round that wasn’t just about shooty death and his less popular cousin stabby death.

This to me is why no table top RPG ever needs a difficulty level. No matter how dangerous you make a scene or encounter, the players will have near limitless options in how they approach and deal with any problems you put in front of them. Quite often they will work ways round your little obstacles that you would never have thought of, and the game is richer for it. They also – in almost every game – have real reasons to fear death for more than the slight inconvenience of having to replay a few minutes of a level to get to the point that they perished. Dying in an RPG should mean something more than a slight pain in the rear, and that means players have even more reason to think about different ways to solve a problem other than the all guns blazing approach.

Jul 152013
 

Choose-Your-Weapon-Dice-TabletopOnce more I find myself taking inspiration from the writing process, as work continues apace on my Steampunk RPG: Rise of the Automata. I’m still chugging away nicely on it and have almost finished the section I will need to try a play test of the combat system out. I’m not going to go on at length about what this will entail, as I have a different blog for that, but it has made me think about the kind of combat system I wanted to create, as it would be the kind I also wanted to play.

In the past I have made note of how much I love the Cyberpunk 2020 role playing game, but still felt the need to tidy up the combat system a little bit, as it wasn’t quite what I wanted. There wasn’t a great deal wrong with it, but there was just a bit too much dice rolling for my mind. And that’s what this post boils down to, and what I want to talk about; I want a combat system that truly is fast and fun. In the CP 2020 combat rules, when you attack anyone in close combat, either with a weapon or without, both combatants roll off against each other. Since this should happen at the same time, it technically shouldn’t slow thing down, but it does. There’s an awful lot to take into account when making a combat roll in CP 2020 anyway, two people doing it just takes that little bit longer. And the fact that what you have is a fluid target number also means a heavy degree of unpredictability, so people spend a lot longer thinking about whether or not luck should play a role in this moment.

So I removed the need for people to roll against each other by creating a very basic way of characters to have a target number that represents their ability to either parry or dodge an attack. It worked pretty damned well; the only failing being my own as I forgot to write down what I had used to make this number, or tell the players how to do it either. It was based on a combat skill, and as they were putting points into it, the parry/dodge score should have been going up too. My bad. So in the game I’m working, I have done something similar, but made a special box for it on the character sheet, so that it should be easier to track.

Another combat system I generally like, but could do with streamlining, is Savage Worlds. For a system that claims to be Fast and furious, combat can sometimes drag. Mainly down to two reasons based on my experience: initiative order changing every round, and being Shaken. Initiative first; I understand that combat should be fluid, but changing the order each round by the draw of a card is not the best way to go about it. I have recently been involved in play test sessions for 6D6, and I love one of their ideas about initiative. If there is a narrative reason for one character to go first, then they do – as long as it is agreed upon by all participants – and then they nominate the next active character. This means that the order is fluid, and the players can make tactical decisions in how they operate. A lovely idea, and one I thoroughly enjoy. I’ll be sticking with good old fashioned rolling once then setting the order though, as it’s simple and quick.

Being Shaken in a combat round is a big pain in the ass. I know why the rule is there, but it just means that a player has the potential to be a damned big hero who just lays there for several rounds as they fail test after test to regain their senses. I personally would like to just ditch this rule, but it would make player characters a bit too powerful, and they really don’t need any help in that area. if anyone has any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.

So far then, it seems the best thing to do to speed up combat is to reduce the number of dice rolls. Before anyone points it out, I know that Amber does that job spectacularly well, but I’m still a bit too much of a fan of random chance to go full dice-less. So I have a parry/dodge mechanic to cut down on one set of dice rolls, and I am also trying out something that should do away with damage and hit location rolls. This idea has not yet been tested out, but it should be fun.

At its heart, the game uses a 2d10 system. So, you roll to hit, adding the two dice together and checking against the target number. If successful, you choose one of the results for hit location, and the other for damage. This works for all characters, so it isn’t just the players who get more control over how they deal damage. This could still be broken, and I may need to insist on different colour dice so that one will always be location, the other damage, but I’d like to try this out first, and see how it goes down.

So there you have it, some thoughts on speeding up the flow of combat, and a crazy idea i want to try. If you have any thoughts of your own, please feel free to share them below. If you think my ideas stink, please keep the raging torrent of bile down to about two paragraphs. I thank you.

Jul 082013
 

I have a game design blog that I’ll be cross posting this to, but since I have discussed money and keeping track of it in games before, I thought I’d pop this here first for people to take a look at. Expect the idea to be more refined by the time I put it into the actual game.

I have commented on forum threads, and other blogs on such subjects, and waxed lyrical about how much I enjoy the spending of money in games where it makes sense. My favourite example is from my most recent GMing history, and that was running Cyberpunk 2020. With the emphasis of the game being all style over substance, it makes sense for the shopping side of things to take a prominent role. There are splat books full of nothing but things to buy, and I think they’re great for adding flavour to the setting.

But in almost every other game, I would be happier if less time was devoted to the book keeping involved in keeping track of money and flicking through books to find things. In a game I have played in repeatedly – and hope to play again soon – they have a nice mechanism for dealing with day to day monetary spending while still allowing for shopping to take place for specialist items and the like. Basically, money is put to one side to cover your character’s living expenses. If you have little money then your lifestyle will be poor; living in a flop house and surviving on two cheap meals a day. This means more for buying fancy things like armour and weapons, but means you have a higher chance of picking up something contagious. Put more money aside, and you have a better lifestyle. Staying in a single room in a hotel, with meat in at least two of your three meals, plus a few pints of beer a night too.

This works for the game in question and adds to the flavour of it, which is one of the biggest things I look for. So with that in mind I have been thinking about how to handle it for my RPG. The Automata that the players will be taking on the role of  have just as much diversity of personality as do the Humans who made them. They are just as likely to be covetous of the belongings of others, and unwilling to share. As a society though, the Automata have sought to move away from the weaknesses of their creators. After the war the most valuable resource for them was fuel, but since it was necessary for the survival of the Automata, it is available to all, as long as there was enough supply.

I wanted this attitude to permeate most of their society. A socialist state as it were, especially with regard to trade. The only value of objects is how hard they are to create and how useful they are. What this means for the game is that each item has a score that modifies the dice roll required to convince the owner to part with it. This will make the Bargain skill a lot more useful to people, and hopefully stop the Interface Attribute being used as a dump stat quite so much. As a side effect it might also stop players thinking that treasure is so important. Unless something has a use, it has no value. As an example of play, the characters find themselves at an Automata settlement where they make an additive that prolongs the burn time of fossil fuels. One of the Automatons they meet has a lovely pneumatic sniper rifle, that one of the players could really use. This is a rare item, so the base chance to convince any Automaton to give it up would be pretty high, and the two characters would make opposed Bargain checks to see who can be the most convincing about who should own the weapon. If the NPC is a guard of the town, then he would get a bonus, as he has more use for it, but if it was a scientist or production worker who lacked the skills to use it, the player character would have the advantage as they were often in dangerous situations dealing with Human aggressors.

When it comes to character creation, each player character will have a set number of points which they can use to get access to items. Each item is worth a number of points equal to its Bargain modifier, and I’m playing around with the idea of allowing players to spend some of their character points to increase the number of points they’ll get for equipment. Based on a character creation session I ran, one player did ask of there was anything else they could spend their points on as they had picked up all the skills they wanted, and had a point left.

I’m not one hundred percent sure on any of this yet, but I would like to try it out. I know that a lot of gamers are happier without micromanaging equipment and money, and although this will not get rid of such concerns in their entirety, it should minimize them some what. As always sound off below with your own thoughts on the subject.

May 012013
 

Until I can get some more play testing done on Excitement and Adventure, there’s not much else I can do with that particular idea. Sadly it’s hard to convince people to take the time and money required to print and cut out an entire card game just so they can offer feedback to a blogger looking to make his first game. So it may surprise some of you to learn that for my next game design project, I’m still trying to get a card game idea off the ground.

The reason for this is simple: it’s the kind of game I love to play, and still massively easier than doing a whole board game that I’d need people to create and test out for me. And the benefit of a card game is that once I have a version of the second iteration that I’m happy with, I can make a proof of concept for a considerably cheaper than a board game. Also, as anyone who has checked out my DriveThruRPG offerings will know, I do not have a flair for graphic design.

undertakeranimateThe new idea is actually taking the basic system for the first card game, and with a few tweaks to fit the setting changes, reinventing it as a more short term combative game of land grabbing. The inspiration for it comes from an RPG campaign I ran a while back about reclaiming lost areas in a post apocalyptic Neo-Victorian England. For people unaware of it, the game took place in the world of Unhallowed Metropolis. In the game I ran the players were outside of London on a specific contract to reclaim a family estate that had been lost to not only a powerful spiritual entity, but also a horde of the undead.

For the card game though, the players would be staying within London, each taking on the role of a private Reclamation firm. The goal would be to travel to the various lost districts of London and destroy the various foul abominations that reside there. These include not only the Animate dead that are the prevalent threat in most ares of the city, but also Ghouls that dwell in the London Below, Vampires that haunt high society at night and nest in rookeries during the day. genetically enhanced super soldiers gone crazy and wolf like are also at large, along with Prometheans and other aberrations that occur when science and the supernatural collide.

The payers will have various tools at their disposal, such as hired goons and the latest in Aethric weaponry, along with spiritual aid in the form of mediums and ghostly containment devices. They will be limited on just how much they can take on any one job, so will need to plan carefully, but what can’t really be taken into account is the other players. They will have cards designed to slow down their opponents, with either random phenomena or targeted attacks when their rivals are at their weakest.

The only problem with this plan is that I will need the permission of  Atomic Overmind to actually make this game in any format other than a freebie fan made affair. Although this would be great for a lot of people, the only way it would work would be for the gamers who want to play it to print off their own cards, and as mentioned above, this is easier said than done. And if Atomic Overmind aren’t in the market for a kick ass card game based on a massively popular property they own – and if they take a look at just how well the Lovecraftian spin off games are doing for Fantasy Flight Games, they really should at least consider it – then I can always design my own world, and try again to get the play testing done and put the game out with DriveThruCards. Which at the moment is the what I expect to do once I have the first game ready to be launched upon the public.

So there you have it, a pitch that isn’t really a pitch, but I would be interested to know what people thought about the basic idea.

Apr 042013
 

Just a little bit of news for all of the blog fans out there. The first of my complete system neutral adventures is now available from DriveThroughRPG. This is considerably later than I would have liked, as it turns out I’m rubbish at maps. Sure, I could have asked for some help, but since I found out yesterday that the store I work for is closing this Christmas eve, I couldn’t really justify offering anyone any money to take that job away from me.

I do owe some thanks though, Namely to the blogger known as Cirsova, who offered some tips and proof reading for me, along with my good friend Mr. White who did similar. I also want to thank a whole bunch of people who helped out by playing the game in the first place. It went from a sprawling 6 week adventure to a seven hour game ran in two halves at the Student nationals, and changed every step of the way. I’m sorry that your characters never got used chaps and chapesses, but I hope you can see where I got the inspiration from.

So, head on over and check it out, and keep heading back as I take a Cyberpunk trip for the next one. Hopefully, I won’t leave you waiting quite so long, as the next one should have less maps…

Mar 012013
 

Today’s article is by a long time friend of mine who is looking to dip his toes into the waters of self publishing. This is just a little teaser he’s written for a product that will be available soon on DriveThruStuff. As soon as it’s up there, Ill update this post and let you all know. For now, take a read of what Ian has to say. As a point of interest, I was in the epic RPG finale he mentions below, and can attest to how much fun it was to take control of a ship in a full sized naval encounter.

I wrote the first version of the “England Expects…” Naval Wargame Rules back in 2005 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, and also to demonstrate them at various war games shows up and down the country.

They have progressed and developed through three versions over the years, to suit my requirements at the time; a hex-based system for ease of instant participation by novices, multiple dice and single dice systems as the whim took me, even as a multi-player three-ship finale to a pseudo-historical action and adventure RPG that I was running at the time. Now in their fourth incarnation and ready for promotion and sale to wargamers and Role-Players alike.

This is a fun set of ‘fast-play’ rules that allow you to re-fight larger size naval battles of the late 18th and early 19th century from six to thirty-six ships, or even more!

The rules are specifically designed to highlight the dilemmas of the higher echelons of command rather than deal with the complex intricacies of sailing such vessels, as faced by their crews. Nor are we concerned with the specific accuracy, ranges and size/type of ammunition used in cannon fire.

There are plenty of rule systems on the market which can provide you with this level of detail, but I feel it simply slows down the game thus deadening the ‘feel’ of a fraught and hard fought battle between huge wooden ships and iron men upon a harsh sea shrouded in the smoke of cannon fire, littered with floating wreckage of hull and sail, and the shattered bloody bodies of the dead. No, mine is a game for the imagination, not the slide-rule.

Each player will take command of a Squadron of at least three ships. A number of squadrons make up the Fleet, which the main player would ultimately command in the role of the Admiral.

Game play uses both dice (multiple regular d6), and a tailored sets of cards, in order to determine such aspects of the game as initiative, the results of broadside fire, boarding actions and crew morale, etc.

The Appendices to the main rules provide all of the ancillary components – counters and cards – required to play the “In the Spirit of Trafalgar” scenario which is a smaller version of the actual Battle of Trafalgar, using the derived statistics of half of the ships present on that day.

Examples of how the squadron/ship Log is filled in and marked off during the game as damage is accrued are also included within the text of the rules.

The Fate Cards were introduced to provide some additional degree of uncertainty (and control in some cases) to the game, beyond the Initiative Cards. Players may create their own tailored to suit specific nations and battles or events.

A series of Naval Expressions can be found at the end of the rules as an option to add fun and flavour to the game!

These are my own set of rules, used at my various club meetings, and were publicly demonstrated at the Pudsey Recon Kerriemuir Targe, and Newark Partizan wargame shows over a four-year period, using balsa and paper ships supplied by History Alive (info@historyalive.info). I have recently also used metal castings from the 1/1200 Navwar Napoleonic range available from Spirit Games, for play-testing purposes, which also work quite well with care. 

Here are the sections covered in the rules: Scales & measures, Game Set-Up, Random Encounters, Squadron Log Sheet, Officers, Warships, Crew, Basic Ship Data, The Game Turn, Sailing & Tacking, Broadside Fire, Officer Survival, Crew Morale Checks, Grappling, Boarding Actions, Prize Crews, End of Turn, Winning & Losing, Naval Expressions, Basic Markers, Commander Markers, National Flags, Fate Cards, Scenario Order of Battle, Scenario Battle Set-Up, Scenario Initiative Cards, and the Wind Direction Marker.

Thanks for your interest.

Ian F White 

Feb 222013
 

Well, if you’re going to keep coming back here, and I’m going to keep on talking! I left you yesterday with a decision I needed to make; what was I going to do to try and improve my lot in life and maybe even pay the bills? It swiftly occurred to me that the one commodity I possessed in a large quantity was time, so I just started to think of ways to fill it. I had always enjoyed writing, and thought I’d start there. I used to enjoy drawing too, but I was never excellent, and these days the most I do in that direction is a few basic tattoo designs, which were never of the kind of professional quality they’d need to be to make me any money.

Having spent a long time working in book shops I knew that the road to getting a book published was a lot longer than most people realised, but that there were ways to keep the mind busy on that long trek. I started looking into sci-fi and fantasy magazines that would take unsolicited submissions for fiction – of which there are plenty, you just need to spend the time looking for them – as this would be a great way to get a portfolio together to take to a literary agent. While doing so a friend suggested to me that starting a blog is a great way of honing your skill and testing the water for a potential audience.

I was very lucky indeed in that the friend in question was my best friend, who just happened to be a professional social media consultant. Stand up and take a bow, Mr. Richard Bassinder. (seriously, click the link for some great tips, and if you want to up your online profile, and can afford him, he’s very very good indeed) We sat down one afternoon in one of our favourite watering holes and over a few pints of ale worked out what I needed to do. It was from this conversation that the blog took shape. We are both gamers, and realised that talking about what I knew would be best, and once I got used to writing regularly I should expand the blog into fiction and other things.

Before I got round to the fiction thing though, I found myself having a great time as a role playing blogger. I quickly ended up with a sponsor, and a readership I could be proud of. All along I was also finding out just how nice a community the online role playing lot are. I started joining in a few community activities, one of which led to today’s announcement. The National Game Design Month – NaGa DeMon for short – was just too good an opportunity to pass up. I knew that I still didn’t have a novel in me just yet, and since – after a very strange dream – I had the bones of a card game idea in my head, I thought I’d go for it. So I spent all of November writing rules, formatting cards and expanding on a basic structure of the game I had in mind. By the end of the month I had even managed to play a couple of games of it.

The response was mostly positive, but I knew I still had a lot of work to do. So after the Christmas break I went back to it, fully armed with the feedback of several play tests and some ideas of my own about how to streamline the rules and speed up the play time. Yesterday I put the finishing touches to Version 2.0 of my Neo-Victorian game of Exploration and Glory, and if you want to take a look, it’s all available as .pdfs through the link. I present to you: Excitement and Adventure!

There’s a few files in there, but if you don’t have the time or printer ink to run off a full copy for yourselves, then any feedback on the rules would be great. This isn’t the final look of the cards, just a basic idea for another round of play testing. I do have someone working on making it all look much prettier, and as soon as we have that sorted out, I’ll post the details on this blog.

Well, the weeks almost up, and that does bring you pretty much up to speed. There are still a few other projects that I’m involved in that I haven’t had time to slot into this rambling history of me, but if you’ll indulge me, I’ll bring them all together for one final update at some point over the weekend. I make no promises as to when, as we have family visiting and a fiftieth birthday to attend.

Until then, I just want to say, to everyone who reads this blog, comments on it, talks about it to their friends, or just made me feel like I was part of this wonderful community I now belong to: Thank you. Deeply and truly, thank you. I don’t want to enter the realms of hyperbole and say that you’ve saved me, but you have instigated a massive and complete turn around in my life, and for that I think of you all as friends!

Dec 312012
 

I hope you have all had a great holiday so far. I’m not sure if I have, as I’m writing this early, as I’m fairly sure that the spirit of the season – in my case, rum – will affect my ability to maintain a blogging schedule. So what I have for anyone out there who decides to check up on me today is a short list of three things that I want to accomplish in the new year. Lets start with the one that concerns this blog shall we.

The last six months have been fabulous for me. I’ve been a gamer for a very long time, and most of my close friends have been brought into my life because of this hobby. The blog has given me the chance to make a whole bunch of new friends, digitally so far, but with luck I will meet some of you someday, and share a drink or two as we talk level based game play pros and cons. So, I am going to commit to maintaining my weekly schedule for the whole year. Every Monday a new RPG related post will pop up on this page for your reading pleasure, or your money back. I’m also going to reinvigorate my old WordPress page, for a slightly different purpose; I’m going to try my hand at prose fiction writing.

Having tried a few different things in the past, I think that designing role playing games and adventures might not be within my skill set. I still have plans for the card game – more on that later – but when it comes to creating role playing things, I much prefer a free form creative process which means the adventures make little to no sense when committed to paper. What I have always enjoyed doing though is writing stories. For a long while now I’ve been thinking about taking the plunge, so come the new year, I’ll be putting something up – hopefully once a week, but I may revise that later – over on the other page. A lot of what I write is role playing inspired, or at least genre fiction, so I hope a few of you will head on over on occasion for feedback. I mean that too, like it or not, I want to know what people think…

Secondly, and this is just for me, I want to get back into shape. I moved house recently, and shifting things out of the house was notably harder on me than moving it in a couple of years previously. I know that time marches on for us all, and I’m going to be 35 in less than a month (28th January, if you want to send me something ;p), but I think that with a bit of effort I can make some improvements, and that’s no bad thing.

Finally, and this one is a bit more of interest to my readers than my physique, I’m going to spend the year concentrating on getting my card game off the ground. I’ve made some good contacts over NaGa DeMon, and had universally positive feedback. That’s not enough though if I want to make a go of this. So, I’ll be getting a better working version of my game ready to print and play, along with forking out some dough to get a professionally made promo set for me to take on the road. I will be doing what I can to hit as many places as possible that will let me play my game, and with luck, putting copies of it into the hands of others who will do the same for me. By next November I hope to have my eye on a kickstarter project for it, or have it in the sights of an actual game design/development company, so I can start work on an expansion. This one is a lofty goal, but as the great one once said, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this little post, and if you’re a regular here, thank you so much for your continued support. I hope to keep providing content for you that you want to read, and are happy to share.

Happy holidays from the Shortymonster!

Dec 172012
 

This post is about an argument I’m having with myself. In a previous game, I’ve insisted on there being absolutely no Out-Of-Character (OOC) between any of the players/characters. This worked very well indeed and without it, I don’t think the game could have survived as long as it did. I’m thinking about how best to implement this in other games I’m going to run, or if I should. Or if I even need to. So, expect Pros, Cons, and examples and by the end, me pleading for other input, as I would love to know what other people think about this concept.

What do I mean by this rule? Well, simply put it means that any information possessed by a player in my game, is also known by the character. I find it safe to use this as a blanket statement, even though it’s not true. Does the character know the player’s mobile number? Of course not, I’m only talking about things in relation to the game.

The main reasons for this rule is to protect all the players and characters from people who choose to abuse trusts and play the game in what could be considered a less than fun way for everyone. A scenario that has happened in other live action games that lead to this rule being put in place, runs as follows: player one tells player two about this great idea they have to screw someone over. The conversation takes place away from the table, at a bar in a purely social situation, not even on the same day the game is going to run. Player two thinks it’s a killer idea, and they both have a laugh about it. Player one then uses his plan to dick over player two. When player two tries to prevent this plan from coming to fruition, player one bitches to an ST that player two is acting on out of character information and that they shouldn’t be able to do what they can to keep their character alive.

Now, a good Story-Teller should be able to sort this out, but in the middle of a frenetic game, it can be hard to King Solomon your way out of it in a way that keeps everyone happy. So, we drop one simple rule; if you tell anything to another player about your character, then you have also told their character. Get drunk and let something slip; same deal. It’s your best friend, and you’d happily trust them with your progeny? Same. Deal. With no OOC it means that everyone is on the same page, and there is no way to cheat your way into an advantage.

The game it worked in last time though, was a bit different from most other games I’ve run. I’ve spoken before about the live action Vampire game that me and my mate ran. One of the things that made it so much fun, was the intrigue and power plays between the players characters. Sure, NPCs were constantly trying their hands too, but the real struggle came from ‘blue on blue’ role playing, or PvP if you prefer. For this to work effectively, the players had to be careful about revealing their machinations – going so far as to keep certain things from the story tellers even – or at least revealing them to other characters. Now, outside of a PvP style game – and don’t get me wrong, there was also a ton of cooperation involved – I wonder if this level of secrecy is really justified. Would it matter what people were getting up to, if everyone was working on the same team for the same goals? Would it make the players suspicious if I instituted this rule?

In my experience, even a team of characters who all have the same driving goal, will on occasion butt heads over personal motivations for actions, and if this means a little bit of going behind the players backs then having this rule in place would protect everyone. If it’s in place right from the beginning, then if one player character suddenly gets turned against the rest, it won’t look as obvious as dropping it in after they’ve joined the dark side.

Pretty good reasons to have it in so far then, but not still not enough for me to push forward with it. On now to a very strong reason why it shouldn’t be included: Player Diaries. I love these things, as you will know from some previous posts from me, both about my own write-ups, and those of the players in my current game. All the write-ups I get are written in character and available to be read by all the players. I think this is great fun as it gives all the players a chance to look at their current situation from a few different angles, and they’re also usually just a blast to read. The no OOC rule would do away with these write-ups, or at least make them available only to myself and the player who wrote them, and that takes away a lot of the fun of writing them in the first place.

So, there you have it, some good reasons to do it, some questions as to whether or not it’s necessary in the first place, and some reasons to just not bother. What do you, my loyal and attractive readers think? Please sound off below with any ideas you may have.