Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day Everyone!

Those of you in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving Day, hopefully with your families. I hope everyone has a wonderful day today and has something to be thankful for.

I'm personally thankful that I've been able to make the progress that I have on this game over the course of the last year.

I am coming to realize that most of my vocal readership is actually from the Oz side of the fence. I'm not sure how much my dithering about the word "campaign" last week really made sense to a number of you. So here's a little glossary of RPG terms with some discussion and explanation.

Player Character (or PC): a character played by a player. This term is also useful for conflating player and character. Although my writing tries to separate the player (the person sitting at the table eating all your Cheetos) from the character (who is running from kalidahs), it can get confusing sometimes. Alternate terms: character, hero.

Game Master (or GM): A player who takes on the role of the world that the rest of the characters adventure in. They are often responsible for catalyzing the story by presenting a situation that the player characters must respond to. They also have to portray every character that the other characters meet, both allies and enemies. This isn't as difficult as it sounds, since the adventurers will only interact with one or two people at any given time. Alternate terms: Dungeon Master (D&D), Storyteller (White Wolf), Narrator (numerous games), Producer, Director (these are mostly from games based on television and movies). I debated using Historian, since L. Frank Baum was the Royal Historian of Oz, but decided that there were enough terms out there. Mike Conway does use Historian as the term for Game Master in his "Heroes of Oz" RPG.

Non-Player Character (or NPC): A character portrayed by the Game Master. Alternate terms: Narrator Played Character (uses the same acronym), supporting cast

Adventure: A story created by the players of an RPG. Also, a story structured to be told in an RPG format. Alternate terms: story, scenario. Published adventures are occassionally also called modules.

Campaign: A series of adventures connected by common elements, typically the continuing adventures of the player/characters. Alternate terms: chronicle (White Wolf), series.

As you can see, there is some flexibility in the use of the terms.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Work on the Winkie Country document proceeds as time and life allow.

One thing that I've been having difficulties with is how to make people want to play the game. Raising the bar on the setting material is something that I hope will help. What I'm thinking of doing right now is coming up with a number of campaign frames.

For those readers who are not gamers, a campaign frame is much like the premise of a TV show. It tells the viewer (or player, in this case) what the game is about. This can help a player create a character that will be appropriate and also give them an idea of what kind of adventures to expect. Especially with a setting as expansive as Oz, it can be daunting for a Game Master to use even half of what is out there. Here are a few examples that I've thought of so far:

Princess Ozma's Exploratory Mission: After the troubles with the Skeezers and the Flatheads, Ozma decides that she cannot afford to have so much of her land unexplored and uncivilized. She has commissioned a band of explorers to make diplomatic contact with every community they find.

Notes: This is probably an optimum campaign frame for most games. It gives the characters a very good excuse to explore Oz and stick their noses into all sorts of things.

Over the Rainbow: The characters are from the outside world and find themselves in Oz or it's neighboring fairylands. At least early on, the quest will be to find a way home, though the players may decide to keep exploring the strange places they encounter, or settle down in the Emerald City, in which case it becomes a rather different campaign.

Notes: This is the kind of thing people typically expect of Oz, so it certainly has it's uses. Character types are somewhat limited, as a Crafted Person or Large Animal will typically not make sense as part of the initial party (Hank the Mule is something of an exception), but they could certainly be added to the group shortly after arrival. This campaign is generally of finite length. Either the heroes will return home and the story will end, or they will decide to stay, in which case it becomes a different sort of game.

Any other ideas?

I am actually somewhat leery of the use of the word "campaign" in this context. It comes from the war-gaming roots of RPGs, where a campaign was a series of battles. While it makes sense for a game like Dungeons & Dragons, where the game is built around battles, it makes less sense for a game like "Adventures in Oz". White Wolf's World of Darkness games tried to propogate the term "chronicle" for an extended story or connected series of stories, but that just seems a bit pretentious. So is the World of Darkness, so I suppose it works. I find myself preferring the term "series" or "game", but for some long time gamers, I'm sure old habits die hard.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The future will be Interactive!

There is now one more way to get in touch with me and let me know what you think about the game. New on the site is a "shoutbox". As soon as I figure it out, I'll have it linked here too, so whether you're a browser or a blogger, you can make your voice heard.

Also, if you help promote the game on your site, I've put together a banner ad.

And if you're thinking that I'm throwing these fancy toys your way to distract you from the fact that I haven't been working on the project, you'd be wrong. The Munchkin Country document is very nearly complete and will be going out to playtesters within the next 48 hours. Then it's off to Winkie Country.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!

Yes, today is my birthday. I have just turned 30 years old.

I'd like to apologize for my lack of progress on the project lately. It mostly has to do with the fact that I was robbed about 2 weeks ago. I left my leather satchel full of books unattended for about 10 minutes, came back and it was gone. No Oz stuff was in the bag. Just a bunch of roleplaying games, including the one that I am trying to run with my playgroup. So between trying to get replacements and just being mad at myself and the jerk who stole my bag, I haven't had much time to work on new material. That will hopefully change soon, and I will be able to devote enough time over the next week to have updated material sent out to my playtesters. Then the teaser for the Winkie Country, then the full Winkie Country. Then the beast itself, Quadling Country.

Quadling Country is the most explored country of Oz, and full of the strangest inhabitants. It's where Dorothy meets the Hammerheads and the China People in "Wizard", many curious communities were discovered there in "Emerald City", including the towns of Bunbury (full of animated baked goods) and Bunnybury (inhabited by rabbits). In "Patchwork Girl", the Quadling Country is home to the feuding Hoppers and Horners and the dreadful Mr. Yoop. And I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things as well.
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