Monday, 30 June 2008

Don't Rest Your Head Played

I played a game of DRYH on the weekend. It was a great experience, with lots of learning and improved game-play for all concerned. Thanks to Paul and Brendon for being so enthusiastic about it.

One of the interesting things that happened was a player-player conflict. Fred Hicks has said that this is really only implied in the text, rather than explicitly described. However, he has posted the following on Story Games (full thread here).

- If they're going at it with each other, they're making their own Pain. No need to get the GM in there, save that he could use the opportunity to spend some Despair to make the PvP fight go poorly. So no Pain dice as a factor.

- Players must combine their Exhaustion and Madness pools to determine what dominates. They do NOT combine their Discipline pools for this determination.

I approached it differently in the last game, and it worked, but I like Fred's idea better. If only I'd seen this before Saturday...

Nonetheless, this is a handy solution to a problem from the Saturday game.

Cookbooks as RPG books

Just read this, and laugh at yourself.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Game on!

I always get a little excited when I have a game coming up. This week it will be Don't Rest Your Head. It's such a tiny game, with mechanics that are intentionally in an internal conflict. Total success is rare. Partial success (that is, a success mitigated by pain, exhaustion or madness) is far more common. And, from all accounts, the exhaustion spiral is something terrible to behold.

And I see that Evil Hat is in the process of releasing a supplement for it too: Don't Lose Your Mind. Nice work.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Secret Gencon Oz Project Revealed!

If you will be at Gencon on Thursday night, come to this seminar.

Steal This Trick: The Indie Games You Should Play at Least Once
Small games often contain big ideas, pushing the boundaries and testing mechanics that more established games can't. Join our panelists as they discuss their favourite small-press/indie games and the fresh ideas that drive them. Featuring Robin Laws, Nathan Russell, Michael Wenman, Andrew Smith

Yes that's right. I will be sharing a stage with Robin Laws, talking about indie games. remember, it's Thursday night at 6pm in Seminar Room F1.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

IGE Games List

And the list of games for the IGE just keeps growing! This is where we're at right now, and I'm still waiting for the other few GMs to say what they're going to offer.

Primetime Adventures
Dust Devils
Cold City
With Great Power
Hero's Journey
Spirit of the Century
Don't Rest Your Head
Nobles - (yes, a playtest session for my own game!)
Vs Monsters / Vs Outlaws
Space Rat

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

R.I.P. Erick Wujcik

Erick Wujcik has died, after a prolonged illness. I first encountered his name with Ninjas and Superspies, a game book that still brings back fond memories. when I learned that he was the creative force behind Amber, I felt as though my world was getting smaller. I've never played Amber, but I know it as one of the primary games played by Fred Hicks, author of one of my favourite games, Spirit of the Century. Fred appears to be honouring Erick in his own unique way.

I got the joy of playing a game with Erick once. A mate of mine was being a kind stranger to him as he toured the world, allowing Erick to stay a few nights with him in Brisbane. Of course, he organised a game of Palladium Fantasy and invited me along. It was a whole heap of fun. I learnt a lot just by playing in that game.

I brought along my copies of Ninjas and Superspies, and Mystic China and asked Erick to sign them for me. They still sit on my game shelf, pride of place.

My friend (the hospitable one) told me later that Erick passed comment on my game style, saying (a paraphrase only) that I was a "pretty good roleplayer."

It's a small comment, but made by someone who knows his stuff, so I value it. Thanks, Erick. You will be missed.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Wizards are Magic Item Geeks

I was listening to the WOTC podcast of a pre-release session of D&D 4th edition with the guys from Penny Arcade. During the session, Gabe (who had never played a tabletop RPG before) asked about the motivations for his pre-gen wizard character. The WOTC DM said that motivations will come from various placed, but in general wizards tend to collect magic items (staves, wands, orbs, etc.).

It was at this point that I drew a connection between wizards and technology geeks. That is, you could create a wizard character who is not a Gandalf type, but rather is the kind of wizard who just has to have the latest magic gadget. He would rave about its features endlessly to anyone slow enough not to get away. Just think for a moment about the reaction of an iPod enthusiast when they talk about the latest release from Apple. Or a computer-building geek who just found out about a new motherboard.

I've never run into anyone who plays wizards that way, but I sure hope to. It makes for a more interesting character trait than a magic-powered adventurer. And to be honest, it probably wouldn't be much of a stretch for the average gamer to play.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The limits of gaming

I was recently confronted with a comment on a forum that suggested some stories are easy to adapt to roleplaying games, whereas others are not - implying that there are some stories that are not worth telling through RPGs. Let me unpack this as a comment on how people play games.

First of all, this comment was not made on an indie forum. I think it's safe to assume that the poster prefers to play mainstream games, with D&D probably at the top of the list. With that in mind I would suggest that the kind of play that this person enjoys involves building character stats, levelling up the character WoW-style. So, the appeal of RPGs is the same as the appeal of WoW. When it comes down to it, WoW is the new version of having the top score at the arcade. The characters in WoW can be compared against each other and engage in PvP. Therefore, it should be considered as a competitive game and provides enjoyment for people who like competitive games.

At the heart of a game like D&D is a sense of competitiveness. There is the drive to make one's own character better than the others, to inflict more damage, to neutralise more opponents. All to be done with more power than the other characters. To return to the prompted statement it is apparent that to suggest that a plot cannot be told in RPG actually reveals that this person only thinks of gaming as a competitive activity.

And that's fine, for a certain stable of games. However, it is not the limit of gaming and I'm happy about that. What it shows is that the depths of gaming have not yet been fully explored in Australia. Looks like a good opportunity, if you ask me.