Thursday, September 22, 2011

Building an Ozzy Sandbox

Latest results on the poll are a bit more encouraging. No one admits to having played the game (which sucks) but "No, but I really want to!" has 9 votes, beating the flat "No", which only got 5.

If you want to do a classic "Wandering Adventurers" campaign, that is totally doable (Just ask Woot) and there are tons of adventure seeds and ideas in the rulebook to support that. But what if you want to explore a single area in depth? That's when we start talking sandbox (or pinball, to use my preferred metaphor).

If you wanted to create a sandbox of original creations, both the Munchkin and Gillikin countries have plenty of unexplored space to put whatever you want. Or you could take advantage of the well-documented Quadling Country. The Emerald City is also a great setting for a campaign; Not only does it have immense variety within itself, but it can also lead to a variety of adventures in Oz at large.

The hard part about building a pinball machine from existing Oz material is that many of the countries exist by themselves, with no real relations to their neighbors. In fact some, like the Cuttenclip Village and Bunnybury, are strongly isolationist in order to protect their citizens. But there are some that can clearly benefit from connecting to other communities. For example, Bunbury and Utensia. Bunbury is populated by living baked goods, while the people of Utensia are living kitchen utensils. Perhaps, when a boy Bunn and a girl Bunn love each other very much, they take a trip over to Utensia. After much preparation, they are finally ready to put their little baby Bunn in the oven to be properly baked.

Suddenly, new adventures present themselves. What if Mayor Cinnamon Bunn's son fell in love with the daughter of his enemy, Herr Kaiser Roll and the lovebuns are dashing away to a honeymoon in Utensia? Worse yet, what if, in their hurry, they get terribly lost and head toward the Forest of Fighting Trees? Now, on top of the challenge of locating the lost couple, your players have to keep them from getting smashed into crumbs by the Fighting Trees.

Creating these sorts of connections will give your players plenty of pins and bumpers for their characters to bounce off of into all sorts of directions.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out

As part of the Speak Out With Your Geek Out event, I'd like to talk about something that really gets my geek engine revving. A lot of other people are taking on the really big subjects (RPGs, Star Trek, Doctor Who), so I have decided to take on a slightly lesser known subject: The Greatest American Hero.

I was only 3 years old or so when it first aired in 1981. In fact, I can't recall seeing a complete episode until I discovered the series last year on Youtube. I devoured every episode in a pretty short time.

The series stars William Katt as Ralph Hinkley, a teacher who is trying to make a difference to a class of miscreants and troublemakers. His life changes drastically (and not always for the better) when he gets a super-suit from an alien encounter and proceeds to lose the instructions. He is helped (somewhat) by an FBI agent named Bill Maxwell and his girlfriend (later wife) Pam Davidson.

I love this show because it combined two things that I love immensely: superheroes and comedy. Ralph never really got the hang of flying (or landing, for that matter). And in spite of the immense strength granted by the suit, he was never much in the muscles department.

My favorite episode was “Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory.” In this episode, Ralph teams up with Captain Bellybuster, a burger chain mascot who is working to topple the meth traffickers who are putting the squeeze on his boss. While many fans point to the first season's “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” as an episode with Ralph pondering what it means to be a hero, “Captain Bellybuster” is much the same, but with a bit more humor.

One thing I've wanted to do was run a roleplaying campaign using this series as inspiration. The main characters would be granted a super-suit, but no support in using it. It would be a sandbox/pinball campaign as the players try to balance saving the world, developing their (initially meager) powers and all the other priorities in their characters' lives.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How NOT To Promote Yourself On The Internet

Never heard of Drylor? You're not the only one. And that makes Ryan Tomasella one sad panda.

You see, Ryan wrote a fantasy novel called Drylor: The First Artifact. Then he self-published it. Now he expects to be viewed in the same light as J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks.

As some of you may know, I'm self-published. The key difference is that I am very aware of that fact. I don't assume that because some POD firm prints copies of something that I created, I'm now on a level with L. Frank Baum, Gary Gygax, or even Michael Stackpole.

Yesterday, he attempted to create a Wikipedia page about his fantasy world of Drylor. Within 20 minutes of the page's creation, it was flagged for speedy deletion because an editor presumed it was a hoax. Only after the page was deleted (and Tomasella made a few choice edits to a number of editors' talk pages) was it finally considered not a hoax. But the deletion stands because the content does not meet Wikipedia's notability criteria.

Word to the wise: Do not create Wikipedia articles if you are not notable. Stick to TVTropes, where there's no such thing as notability.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gaming in Oz

Looking at the poll over to the side, I'm finding the answers so far to be a little disheartening. 4 responses so far, all people who have never played Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. Only one of them selected something other than the flat "No" response.

Some of you might be telling yourselves that it's a kids' game, so you're saving it for when your kids are old enough to play. Or maybe you think it would be a hard sell with your regular gaming group. Or you can't think of any adventures that would suit the game particularly well.

Wrong on all counts. AiO has been played by grownups for as long as it's been played. If you think playing this game is going to make you have to burst into song or anything silly like that, you have really got the wrong impression. Sure, it's a game about friendship. But that doesn't mean it's all My Little Pony. (Unless you really want it to be.)

And with all the indie games out there that let you take a punch in the girlfriend or drag your character around by the Aspects, I can't see AiO being such a hard sell. Just tell your friends the origin of the Tin Woodman (Don't know it? Shame on you!) and they'll be all like "Dude, that's so cyberpunk but fairytale at the same time. I'm in."

If you can come up with adventures, you can come up with Oz adventures. In the campaign I ran, I had floating spaghetti, flying ninjas, and tea with the Cowardly Lion. Should another Oz campaign arise in my future, I expect even more awesome.

For the record, if that poll hadn't been so disappointing, this blog would have been about taverns in Oz and how you can all meet there.

So what are you waiting for? GET PLAYING!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cast an Ozzy Spell: The Witch's Kiss

First off, sorry about the late post. Work has been sucking the life out of me for a while now, and it's taking its toll.

You may have noticed that I have a new poll up. I want to know who's playing Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. So if you've ever earned, spent, or handed out an Oz Point, let us know!

Everyone who's read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz knows that the Good Witch of the North casts a spell of protection over Dorothy shortly after she arrives in Oz. But since the spell is never triggered in that story, or any other Baum Oz story, we never discover what it sort of protection it provided. Some later authors, including Eric Shanower, have provided explanations, so here's mine.

While it's easy for an author to say "spell of protection", as a game designer, I've got to figure out what that means. I ultimately decided that the spell is actually a Scrying effect. It lets the Good Witch of the North know when Dorothy is hurt or injured and allows her to use other magic wherever Dorothy is. Which is why no one dares to harm someone who has received the Witch's Kiss.

The Witch's Kiss

Power: Scrying (1)
Scope: Self/Person/Object (0)
Ritual: None (0)
Effect Power: 1

Although this spell does require the Witch to kiss the subject of the effect (a Simple Ritual), it does not require any activation once it is in place.

Remember, all this is only important if a player with a spellcasting character wants this effect. I consider this spell a perfect justification for putting the Good Witch of the North on Dorothy's Friends List. But if you've seen Dorothy's character sheet, her Friends List only has Ozma on it. What's going on?

Technically, Dorothy's Friends List is a mile long. But when I'm doing character stats, I build them according to the rules. Which means only 1 friend who isn't controlled by another player. Since Ozma is Dorothy's most powerful and iconic friend, she gets the spot. If you wanted to do a "Just Arrived" game with Dorothy controlled by a player, feel free to switch her out for the Good Witch of the North.
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