Sunday, August 28, 2016

RPGaDay 2016 #28 What Film Or Novel Would You Be Most Surprised That A Friend Had Not Seen or Read?

I am always surprised to find out that people haven't seen The Wizard of Oz. While I know a lot of people haven't read the book, the film seems like one of those cultural touchstones. "Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!" "We're off to see the Wizard!" "Ding Dong! The Witch is dead!" "I'll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too!"

Another supposed cultural touchstone that seems to be losing its luster is Star Trek. While the new film franchise might bring some of it back, Benedict Cumberbatch will never be Khan to me. Sorry, but a Sikh from India being presented as a genetic superman is way more interesting than Pasty White Prettyboy #49303238.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

RPGaDay 2016 #27 Describe The Most Unusual Circumstance Or Location In Which You Have Gamed.

I would have to say the most unusual location I've gamed it would have to be a shed. There was a table in the shed, but not quite enough chairs or perimeter for everyone to sit around it. We were playing D&D, but didn't have our map and minis out. There might not have been room at the table, but Kris was running the game and it was one of his more experimental sessions.

He didn't change systems on us or anything, but there was a trial going on for one character's soul. An NPC cleric of a good god had been corrupted to evil by the actions of one of the other PCs, but had died very soon after, so there was a question regarding the final dispensation of their soul. I don't think I played my regular character that session, but was called on to speak for the powers of Good in the trial.

Friday, August 26, 2016

RPGaDay 2016 #26 What hobbies go well with RPGs?

I think the best hobby for gamers is reading. Whether you're reading fact or fiction, a good book stimulates and engages the brain. It's also a good way to pick up ideas, which are the currency of gaming these days. It is possible to get inspirations and ideas from other media, like TV and movies, but those media encourage the analytical brain to shut down. You have to make an effort to keep that sort of thinking going as you're watching, but the rewards can be pretty awesome.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

RPGaDay 2016 #25 What makes for a good character?

A great character is one in motion. They've got something to do, somewhere to go. And that doesn't just mean in the broad sense of having a quest, mission or goal to pursue. It can also mean that the character has something to contribute to every scene they're in. The character isn't just following the GM's lead, and maybe not always the player's. They may actually be doing those things, but a good character is one that makes it look completely natural.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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

To be fully honest, the game that I have given as a gift is actually my own, Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. It was a Christmas gift for my niece, who I was also gifting with the Oz books at the time. So it wasn't totally self-aggrandizing.

Though Christmas is one of my high points for sales, so apparently other people think it's worth gifting as well.

The other game that I would be very likely to give as a gift would likely be Fate Accelerated. It's small, inexpensive and easily digestible. There are even a couple of settings made specifically for FAE, Aether Sea and Masters of Umdaar, that are pretty cool. Add some Fate Dice and you're ready to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

RPGaDay #23 Share One Of Your Best 'Worst Luck' Stories

That would have to be the sad yet hilarious tale of Bentley, a gnome illusionist from the early days of the old school megadungeon game.

Among the various rooms full of monsters, there was a 10 foot by 10 foot room with 3 or 4 skeletons in it. As we were playing, I drew out this room on my map as a square comprised of 4 grid squares. I then placed figures to represent the skeletons (they might have all been skeleton figures, but no guarantees).

Bentley moved into the room, eager to smash some skeletons. That's when our powerhouse, a ranger we all called Boots decided she wanted in on the skeleton smashing action. But there was only so much room in that room. So I, being the kind and generous GM that I am, told her that she could move into the space if she could kill the skeleton occupying it. She also had the highest Strength score in the group, so her bonuses made her success assured.

If only she hadn't rolled a 1. But she did. Then, to make things interesting, I told her to make another attack roll, Since she had missed the skeleton, I had decided that there was a chance she had hit Bentley. And what else would she roll but a natural 20. Critical hit. Without rolling for damage, her Strength bonuses were enough to drop poor little 1st level spellcaster Bentley into negative hit points. If I had made her roll damage, it would only have made him that much deader.

Monday, August 22, 2016

RPGaDay 2016 #22 What Are Some Random Events In Your Games That Keep Happening?

I don't really do random events outside of my D&D style games. When I am allowed to be my more story-centric self, I prefer that even the minor encounters have something to say about what's going on. Even if it's as simple as "This is dinosaur country!" I'm going to put effort into choosing cool dinosaurs to create neat encounters rather than building a more general purpose table. Also, most games aren't as bestiary-driven as D&D is. While D&D has pre-made stats for a lot of monsters, in another game, it ends up being the GM writing up monster stats. Prepping 3 scripted encounters is much easier than prepping a dozen of them and then writing a table. It's also more efficient, since I don't have to write content I won't use.

But in terms of elements that keep popping up even though they don't rise to the level of plot or theme or whatever, I could mention my desire to justify/redeem the trope of "You all meet in a tavern."

Back in the day, the dramatic elements that we associate with roleplaying today weren't really in place. Players spent more time on their character's equipment list rather than backstory. There are lots of ways to kick off a campaign, but the tavern opener has an interesting advantage that not many people think about: It gives players an opportunity to express their characters out of the gate.

Just putting them into a no-pressure situation and asking them "What do you do?" is a great way to get roleplaying started. Even if the response is as simple as "I order a drink,"  we just learned something about that character.

The spooky old man in the corner with the map to the Dungeons of Doom can wait until all of these actions are played out. This can be within a few minutes of opening the session or a coda ("Hey, you guys. There's also an adventure to do next session.")
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