Monday, August 31, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #31 Favorite Non-RPG Thing to Come Out of RPGing

This is probably the topic I've spent the most time just thinking about. Because a lot of things have gone into the RPG hobby, but not a lot has really exited the gravitational well of the hobby.

Typically, the things that do escape carry the D&D brand. D&D video and computer games. D&D novels. D&D board games. The list goes on.

The D&D movies were interesting. I was in a position to see the first film in its theatrical release. It was a fun movie. Not amazing, but a fine way to kill 2 hours. I saw the first sequel a number of years later, and thought it was actually better. A more modest budget, certainly, but I think it had better dungeoneering than the first one, on top of better writing. I have not seen the third film and am not sure I want to. There's talk of trying again and "doing it right" in the near future. We'll see.

But to answer the topic, I think my favorite non-RPG thing to come out of RPGs is the Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon show from the 80's. It was interesting in that, as much as it used D&D classes and monsters, the rules of children's TV at the time pushed it into becoming its own thing. They couldn't kill monsters with their magical weapons due to rules on violence and the need to keep each episode self-contained meant that the characters couldn't "level up" in any significant way. And that's really what makes it stand out in my book.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #30 Favorite RPG Playing Celebrity.

It's so hard to choose a favorite. Not because they're all so good, but because of my nigh impossible standards. My feeling about tired fantasy tropes kind of colors my view of the entire gaming hobby. So reading about this or that celebrity that "plays D&D" doesn't mean as much to me as the celebrity who's willing to talk about their broader gaming passion. I want to read about the celebrity who played Star Frontiers or Boot Hill back in the day. Who practiced their method acting skills in a Vampire game. That sort of thing.

And the only celebrity who really touches on that is Wil Wheaton. His Tabletop show has featured a couple of different RPGs, like Dread and Fiasco and his current Titansgrave: Ashes of Valkana show uses a non-D&D system in a setting that uses fantasy tropes without necessarily being beholden to them.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #29 Favorite RPG Website or Blog

The site I most typically visit when I want to see what's going on with RPGs as a whole is RPG.net. I think that's mostly because what's actually at RPG.com is not relevant to the gaming hobby. Maybe when I get bored, I'll check out RPG.org or RPG.gov (Wouldn't that be a hoot?) Which means, yes, I did find the site by putting "RPG" in front of standard internet suffixes until I got something relevant.

Everything else, I tend to check out rather intermittently. I follow a few blogs on blogspot, reading them as they interest me. I've got a Tumblr and check through the gaming relevant hashtags. Maybe one day, I'll kick the blahs I've got and become a creative social media machine. But that's a maybe.

Friday, August 28, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #28 Favorite Game You No Longer Play

This one is actually a little painful to write. You see, I used to run different campaigns using different systems all the time. They weren't always very good campaigns, but I had a lot of enthusiasm.

But the last 3-4 years have been something of a doldrums for me. While I have been gaming continuously through this period, I have not been as imaginative or enthusiastic as I have been in the past. I have been grateful for The Castle of the Mad Archmage, not just as an opportunity to learn about old school gaming, but also for having enough content that I didn't have to do very much to have a game ready to go every week.

My primary breaks from this routine have been DunDraCon, playing games that interest me there and running Adventures in Oz demos. But even those AiO demos use the Jaded City scenario from the core book. Another canned, low effort production.

So Favorite Game That I No Longer Play? Pretty much all of them.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #27 Favorite Idea For Merging Two Games Into One

This is a very interesting question and I'm not 100% sure I have an answer for it.

I once ran a couple of campaigns that were technically set in the same setting, but each one used a different generic system. The first one started in WEG D6 but finished using Cartoon Action Hour, the second used Savage Worlds, and the third used GURPS. It got especially fun when one player insisted on using the same character in each campaign, and so had to recreate him in each system. And not all generic RPGs are created equal, especially when it comes to magic using characters, so exactly what his magic could do varied the most.

The guy who ran the megadungeon game that I played in (that gave us the stories of Ted and Kyle), would sometimes mix things up in that campaign. One time, he broke out The Adventures of Baron Muchausen (a game of competitive storytelling) and told us that for this session, we would be the townspeople of the party's home base sharing rumors and tales we had heard about those dungeon-delving adventurers. At another point, some effect of the dungeon/the Outer Planes made things quite surreal, so we very quickly statted out our characters in Wushu (He didn't tell us it was Wushu. He just said "Describe your character in such and such a way" that I recognized as being the way Wushu does things) and played out the scene/confrontation under those rules.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #26 Favorite Inspiration For Your Game

I'm sure lots of people will tell you how much they plumb their vast collection of novels, TV shows, movies, or conspiracy theory paperbacks for gaming inspiration. My process is a little different. I tend to lean on the games themselves to inform my campaign building.

At least partly because an awesome game is one where the designer successfully communicates what is awesome about their game. So if I'm reading an awesome game, I'm already cooking up ideas of how I want to see it in action. And outside of licensed or historical settings, most of what is true about a setting is between the pages of the book itself.

One of my favorite sorts of inspiration is the No-Prize. I don't know if Marvel still awards No-Prizes, but for a while they gave out No-Prizes to fans who not only pointed continuity flaws in their comics, but also proposed explanations for how it wasn't really a continuity flaw after all. Is that character's energy blast the wrong color? Rather than blame it on the colorist, maybe it's a new application of that character's power and it makes sense for it to be that color.

So I look in my games for interesting questions that the setting proposes, but doesn't really answer.

One of my favorite adventures that I've come up with was for the GURPS Technomancer setting. The main idea of that setting is that magic replaces the atom as the force that changes the latter half of the 20th Century. In the book, they describe the effects of Ambulatory Necrotic Plague (aka zombie-ism), which is spread by an undead bacterium. It explains that zombie brains continually degrade, but that this can be forestalled by eating brains from other people.

But what if someone with a high IQ stat gets turned into a zombie? If their IQ was high enough, they might have several days before they even dropped below average intelligence. They might even be able to plan ahead and ensure a steady brain supply so that their intelligence will last longer.

I decided that this was going to be my villain. He was a doctor researching ANP who became infected and turned into a zombie. He began a program of abducting people both to keep his brain supply up and as test subjects to hopefully cure himself of the condition.

And that's when our heroes step in.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #25 Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

Meta-point bribery.

All those little story/drama/whatever points that bribe players into buying into your setting or genre. If the genre or theme you're trying to support with them is clear, they are a great addition. I use them myself to support the theme of friendship in Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.

Sometimes, I'll award them as "Make the GM Laugh Points." Especially if they're not there for a specific genre or theme, but as a form of "cinematic cushion" to give larger than life heroes an extra leg up.
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