Sunday, November 29, 2015

Make Mine Gameable!

I may have gotten a late start, but I seem to have caught the podcast listening bug.

First there was Welcome to Night Vale. Then came Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff. And now I bring you the latest in my playlist:

The Gameable Podcast!

It started life as the Gameable Disney Podcast, examining the Disney animated films for gaming inspiration. They would occasionally look at other works outside this narrow purview in their "bonus episodes," like the live action/animation hybrid Mary Poppins or the live action but cartoony Herbie the Love Bug films.

But it seems to have fulfilled its original mandate and has expanded its reach to the computer animated Pixar films. I'm still playing catchup (I'm currently on their Hunchback of Notre Dame episode), but I'm looking forward to seeing what they continue to come up with.

The typical episode gives a plot synopsis with occasional gaming asides, followed by I'd Play That (Each of the hosts picks a character from the story that they want to play. This can be a protagonist, but is as likely to be a side character with room to grow, or sometimes even a villain). Then comes Un-Disney-fication, a discussion of how to remove the kid-friendly elements from the story and make it more robust as a setting usable for multiple stories. After a discussion of the music of the movie, with each host picking a favorite and least favorite song, they move on to the Final Verdict: Does the movie provide a setting or story that you can easily present to your players?

As of Episode 31 (The Lion King) they make system recommendations as part of the Final Verdict. They had made reference to systems previously, including taking the "Mary Poppins is a Time Lord" to the logical conclusion of filling out character sheets for Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney Sweep using the latest Doctor Who RPG, but it was never a regular feature or a terribly strong recommendation until this point. Needless to sat, I was very jazzed that Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road was one of the system recommendation in Episode 32 (Pocahontas) due to its relationship mechanics.

DISCLOSURE: This podcast is hosted by Kris Newton, who is a very creative person who I used to game with some years ago. He wrote The Jaded City of Oz sample adventure for Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. I regrettably lost touch with him some time back, but I'm glad that there is still a way to bask in his gaming genius.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Out On Campaign?

This is a piece of a big idea my brain is chewing on right now, but I think there's at least something I can share right now.

I don't know how many people read this anymore, but a few months ago I posted the basic outline of my big idea here. For those who don't follow links, my idea is that a roleplaying game can be separated out into a number of separate levels. The System (the rules of the game), the Setting (the physical location of adventures), and the Campaign (What the characters are expected to do in play). If you want to be a stickler, you can even add a level below the Campaign which is the Adventure (specific scenario), but that's only useful in certain contexts.

My rant in the link above was mostly about how I felt sort of cheated by gaming products which use the word "setting" in their descriptions, but instead mostly speak to the Campaign level rather than my (more neutral) definition of Setting.

As I was working on explicating this idea, I had something of a realization: Successful gaming products are the ones that reach down to the Campaign level in some fashion.

Let's take the most popular and recognizable RPG out there: Dungeons & Dragons. The basic rulebooks touch on System, Setting and Campaign. They are rulebooks, so of course they provide System. They also communicate Setting through race and class choices and a pseudo-medieval equipment list. They answer the question of Campaign through details like reward structures (XP for killing monsters/gathering loot) and advancement benefits (hit points and combat powers are common gains when leveling up).

This is why you can say "Let's play D&D" and it's a meaningful statement.

It also explains why GURPS has not been as successful as some other games on the market. The basic rulebooks are full of System and only System. Their Setting books are largely Setting, leaving Campaign level alone. While there are those who love GURPS for this reason, it does stand in the way of broad market success.

Looking at this sort of model as a designer is actually kind of fun. But as a publisher, I've got to ask "Have the products I've published sufficiently addressed the Campaign level? How much work am I making the GM do before they play my game?"

While a couple of tweaks to the rules of Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road have suggested themselves since I released it, I can't help but wonder if the book's  Narrator advice needs punching up as well. Or maybe something more than that.

I don't know how many people actually read this anymore, but comments are welcome.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

For a long time, I was blogging weekly. Now it seems that I'm blogging weakly.

And that's something that I need to work through. I feel like I've been in the doldrums a lot lately. But I've forgotten the lesson of Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth. It's very easy to get lost in the Doldrums, but finding your way out takes effort.

I think at least part of that effort is blogging. Setting a rhythm for myself. Putting myself out there. Trying to say something new at least once a week.

As of right now, I do have something kind of cool to announce. DriveThruRPG and RPGNow are having their annual Teach Your Kids to Game Week and Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is there. Not only are they offering the usual 50% off of digital titles, they're also giving a 20% discount to print titles as well. I think this is the first time they've run a sale that included a discount on print books.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...