Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 16

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 16th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question alternate#16: What do you look for in an RPG review?
I’m using one of the alternate questions from the list today because I think my answer from yesterday also answers today’s question which was, “What RPG do you enjoy using as is?” Since that happened, I decide to go with one of the other questions today.
I think I’ve kind of answered this already but feel I can expand on it. I look for mechanics, I want to know how easy the system is to learn, I hate having to sit at the table and spend lots of time looking something up to make sure we’re doing it right or simply avoiding it all together, I’m looking at you D&D 3.5 grappling rules. At the same time I don’t want a system that’s so devoid of rules that it feels like nothing is going on. I admit there are exceptions to both of these, I love Shadowrun and Fiasco.
Knowing something about the world and the setting are always a nice thing. A good setting can make the difference between me wanting to try a game or not. If the world is interesting, something I’ve never considered, or a twist on an old favorite. The YouTuber Dodger has a RPG world she’s developed for Dungeon World that revolves around gourmet dungeon crawls and fashion based wilderness hunts that’s pretty fun sounding. The twist on the old setting was what attracted me to X-Crawl.
Finally, if I can see some gameplay I feel I can get a much better view of the game itself. I love decent play sessions that give a little focus on the mechanics. I don’t want them to stop every ten minutes to explain why they’re rolling the dice, but I do like being given enough information to figure out what’s going on. I saw a video of Star Trek Adventures recently where the DM, was texting the players the things they discovered and descriptions of their locations, so I wasn’t hearing them. They used roll 20 but weren’t showing the dice rolls only announcing success or failure. I found that frustrating. Without seeing those things it felt hard to follow and was a poor representation of the game. While I know that gameplay isn’t exactly a review, I think it’s a factor in how people view the game.

Anyway, that’s what I look for.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 15

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 15th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
While I’ve never adapted anything, I did look at some different systems last year during my year of gaming challenges and experiments. At one point I had decided to try and write my own rules set or adapt an existing one. I learned very quickly that creating your own rules system is a skill set I do not have. However, when it came to adapting an existing rules set to play my setting I came down to two different games that looked like they would suit my purposes.


The first was the Apocalypse World system. AW is a quick, character driven system that is built around the idea of being adapted to suit the purposes of the game. In fact there are a ton of different games available that use the Powered by Apocalypse system. It really struck a chord with me that made me want to look into it more. Unfortunately, my timing is awful. They had just started their Kickstarter for second edition and had discontinued the sale of first because of it. At the time I write this, it’s my understanding that second edition is still not out yet. Once it is I want to get a copy and look into it with a more critical eye. For right now, it has a promising light that shines on my project.


The second, was FATE Core. FATE is another fast, character driven game. It allows for the group, both players and game master, to sit and create a setting and system in a single session. You get your characters, ideas, and guide lines in place. Using this system I would have had to do significantly less work to create my own setting but much like AW I’ve never played it. This one I do own, and I’m trying to carve out time to play it with a couple of friends and see how it functions. But much like AW it also shines a promising light, just one of a different color. All I need to do now is decide between green and blue.
I realize that this isn’t a particularly satisfying answer. I have watched videos of both systems in action I just haven’t played either. I hope to fix that. I hope to attempt to get back to that unfinished project from last year.

Monday, August 14, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 14

What is RPGaDay2017?


I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 14th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
I two answers for this, one I love to run and one I love to play. I love running an open ended Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I like creating a setting and giving the group a couple of options and landmarks and letting them chose where to go next. I usually send out an email that tells them about major events like festivals or royal visits, local rumors, and new non player characters who have arrived. Occasionally, I will send a player a private email about something specific to their character. For example I once sent a character emails about a series of dreams they had over the course of a few sessions that eventually led to them figuring out where a lost tomb was. I always ask the players a bit ahead of time to tell me what they want to explore or follow up on and then prep that adventure. Though I usually have an idea of what I’m going to do with each one before they decide.
The one I love to play in was my friend Scot’s Shadowrun campaign. Early on Scot gave us a job and we did it. As the campaign went on he started telling us rumors about people looking for work or having multiple people reach out to us with jobs. We got to research the people looking for us or the jobs we’d heard about to find out about the people hiring us, how they’d worked in the past, what they typically paid, and how up front and honest they were with previous teams they’d hired.

Those are the things I’ve loved in the past.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 13

What is RPGaDay2017?
I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 13th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.
For a brief second I almost considered writing about my gallery show. I realized though that my experience, while life changing, had no effect on how I run or play games. To answer this question, I had to sort of figure out how I used to play, which was a psychotic murder hobo as a player and a confrontational douchebag as a DM. I’m not proud of that, but I understand where I came from. Now, I’m far more concerned with story and character. I love watching the players succeed, I love hearing their stories, and giving the players a ridiculous amount of choices. I designed a D&D game that was essentially a West Marches campaign for a single group without knowing what those were. I had to take both of those places and go back and forth until I narrowed it down to a game where I changed and then figure out what occurred that impacted me.
I came up with 2002ish and the Buckeye Crawl, aka my first game of X-Crawl at origins. Part of what affected me, was the game. I love X-Crawl and I enjoy playing it and singing its praises. It’s over the top, harder than hell, and deadly as all get out in all the best ways. However, as I thought about it the thing that showed me how to game better was not the setting but the GM.


Brendan LaSalle, who wrote the book and created the setting, ran the session I played in. The way he ran the game causes me to tell people that if you are at a convention where he is running X-Crawl, you need to play in it. In fact, in a few days from my writing this, he’ll be at Gencon, if you’re going and he’s running X-Crawl, get in that game. Everything about that experience was a new way of seeing things for me.
Before the game even started, he encouraged us to think of our characters, were we faces (good guys) or heels (bad guys). The game we were playing simulated a televised dungeon crawl, we were basically professional wrestlers with swords. Once we’d picked our characters, he asked us to pick our actors. He said, “If they make X-Crawl the movie, who’s playing your character and money, time, or availability don’t matter. If they’re dead, we’ll resurrect them and put them in the show.” I think I was a dwarf Sean Connery, I even did a bad accent. I’d never done that before. Until then, my characters had all been a version of me. They we’re dwarves, elves, wizards, rangers, or street samurai, but deep down, they were all me. They could physically do things I couldn’t, but they made the same decisions I would, said what I would say, and reacted the way I felt I would.
When the game started, Brendan stood up. He stood for the entire game. He was excited, vibrant, constantly moving, I’d never seen that before. Until then, I’d played in basements and at dinner tables with my friends, or at a convention where the DM was on their third or fourth day of running the same module. It’s a little thing and I get that, but the energy he brought to the table set the tone.
He also spent time describing our actions, and the monsters actions. He was genuinely happy when we did something good, laughed when we were amazing, and described the crowd cheering when we did something epic. When we won a fight, succeeded at a room, or got past a puzzle he congratulated us. He wanted us to be the stars of the show because that’s how TV works, but also it’s how a really fun session or campaign should work too.
I have tried to keep most of the things with me from that day. Whenever I run for new players, be it X-Crawl at my local game store or D&D at an established game day, I ask them to pick an actor to play their character. I don’t stand at the table, I’m not in that kind of shape, but I use my hands, change my voice, I try to make myself a presence at the table. I celebrate with the players. I’m going to say that again, I celebrate with the players. There are DM’s that don’t and I feel like they start to resent the players after a while; I know I used to.

I don’t think I’ve played me since then. Certainly, my characters have some of my character traits, I’m sarcastic as hell and it’s hard to get rid of that. Still, I’m very much a different player now. RPG’s used to be a puzzle to solve and now it’s an evening with my friends to tell stories.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 12

What is RPGaDay2017?
I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 12th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #12: Which RPG has the most inspiring art?
I don’t normally remember the art in games. I’ve been in this hobby since the ‘70s and I don’t remember a lot of the art used over the years. I will admit that in recent years the interior art has started standing out to me. I think to some degree this is due to the number of Kickstarter games vying for our attention. One of the ones that really stood out to me was Tales from the Loop.


I believe all of the art in Tales is done by Simon Stalenhag. The pieces are amazing. They all completely bring into focus the world of the game while at the same time just being beautiful. They all show a stark world where the technology has gotten a little too advanced a little too quickly.  Most of it mirrors the game by featuring children alone with some sort of monstrosity. There are rarely adults or authority figures in the pieces except for the occasional police officer of patrol car, which in themselves are not always reassuring, especially if you’ve seen a lot of old ‘80s movies.
I love the art in this book and it so perfectly captures a time that never happened anywhere but in the minds of millions of children who grew up in the 1980’s. Children like me.

Though the campaign is gone, you can see a lot of the art from the game here and I recommend going and taking a look.

Friday, August 11, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 11

What is RPGaDay2017?
I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 11th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #11: Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?
This was an easy one for me. I know that several people will disagree with it but my first choice was Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. I miss how heroic my characters felt at level one. You had so many options, powers, ideas, and actions you could do. I loved the way combat worked, the monsters felt dynamic, and the heroes felt like heroes.
I know that a lot of people felt it was D&D Warcraft. I don’t think that’s true, but I can understand the reasoning behind the beliefe. Still, I enjoyed it more than any other version of D&D I’ve ever played. Most of my D&D stories come from 4th edition. Everything from the time my elf barbarian with a sledge hammer leapt off a ship traveling through a bridge in space to charge an abolith to the time my hafling cleric of the god of trickery convinced a gathered crowd to turn on the Zentharim soldiers who were claiming responsibility for ‘saving’ the town from gnolls.
To further this school of thought there were two specific settings in D&D I loved and would love to see return. Planescape and Spell Jammer. Planescape had such wonderful factions, politics, and the mechanic of doors opening to anywhere, any setting or time that made it so much fun to run with. Your first level character could find themselves on the bottom level of the Abyss because he walked through the wrong door holding a copper ring. Admitidly, that’s an extreme example but still. It was a world where everyone belonged to factions, worked towards hidden goals, and went up against dark cults. It was a more espionage based D&D where players had the universe to play in. It gave us tieflings.

Spelljammer had a wonderful bravado that D&D misses most times. You’re space pirates, sailing ships, fighting mindflayers, and pulling off these crazy maneuvers. There was a mechanic in the game for throwing yourself off one side of the boat and using the gravity plane to slingshot yourself around the bottom and up onto the other side. That was a thing you could do. Spelljammer is the reason a gnome saying opps is scary.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 10

What is RPGaDay2017?
I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 10th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?
Some of the answer for this question is found back in question #3, where I learn about new RPG’s. I go to Geek & Sundry and Red Dice Diaries for the same reasons I learn about new games there. I also go to Drive Thru RPG for user reviews.
Mostly, I go to YouTube. I like to type in the name of an RPG I’m interested in and watch play sessions. Watching other people play the game gives me a good idea of how the game works and whether or not it will be a good fit for you and your friends.

I like watching play-throughs because it gives me a better idea of how the game works and what I’ll be looking for.