Monday, August 14, 2017

RPGaDay 2017, Week 2

Alright, here's my second week of #RPGaDay 2017, for those of you interested in such things.

Day 8: What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2 hours or less?

I've had some success in doing a quick Monsterhearts story in just this amount of time, actually. So if you're a fan of episodic play, it'd be easy enough to do short sessions of that.

I haven't tried running it (though I've played it a few times at conventions), but I think curse the darkness would also be good, as it would be easy enough to have each session build up to one massive Removal Test as kind of a highlight or climax. Or, alternately, the fact that it's good at one-shots also potentially makes it work for episodic play.

Day 9: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Honestly, pretty much any game that would benefit from a TV show-esque episodes/seasons model. It's a broad enough question with enough answers I can imagine that it's really hard for me to give a specific answer.

Day 10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?

Honestly, I don't do that as often as I used to, as when I find out about games it's usually in the context of a conversation among friends about said game. When I do actively seek out a review, I either:

1. Think 'Hey, didn't so-and-so say something about this game a while back' and look that up

2. Look up one of Matthew McFarland's 'character creation' posts, as those often have a pretty good snapshot of what the game is like

3. Just search

(Yes, I'm aware that DriveThru has reviews, and to be honest I couldn't tell you why I don't spend much time with those. It's probably just because I was in the habit of doing the three things above when DriveThru's reviews became a thing. I dunno.)

Day 11: Which 'dead' game would you like to see reborn?

That's easy, and perhaps cheating because it'll probably see something of a rebirth anyways, but that'd be the Legend of the Five Rings roleplaying game. It had a system that was very evocative of setting elements (the attributes being tied to the titular Five Rings, for instance) but allowed for a lot of flexibility. Between having schools in which you could gain levels but an advancement focused on buying individual skills and traits, it always felt to me like a blend of the classic D&D-style and WoD mechanics.

Fourth Edition, while not perfect, was probably the best expression of the basic systems (and the books are gorgeous, if you get the opportunity to see them).

As for the 'will likely see a rebirth,' since Fantasy Flight Games acquired the property to produce a new edition of the card game (which, heavens willing, I'll be able to get a copy of in a little under a week), they've also expressed interest in doing something with the RPG. Odds are extremely good that it'll be a setting book for their recently-announced Genesys generic system.

(On a related note, somewhere in my 'game mechanics tinkering I'll probably never actually finish' notes, I have a quick and dirty Fate Advanced hack for running L5R using the rings as Approaches, but I've also considered a hack of the Atomic Robo flavor of Fate as a way of mechanically representing clans and schools)

Day 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

Honestly, I've seen so many RPG books (and art in said books) that I'd literally have to dig through most of them to find which book has the most 'inspiring' art (whatever that means). So that means it's time for another alternate question.

Alternate Question: What do you look for in a review of an RPG?

Well, let's start with essentials. I need to know what sort of system it is. How fiddly, how broad, etc., because odds are I'm going to have to sell my friends on that system if I'm going to play or run it. I also need an idea of what the characters are going to be expected to do in a typical story. That's really sort of the linchpin on what I look for, because a lot of other stuff that people like to get into (specifics regarding layout, fonts, etc.) sort of go over my head -- I'm not proud of it or anything, but I'll openly admit that a lot of editing/layout stuff I only really notice if it's done badly, so I don't pay too much attention to that in reviews.

Day 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

It's not as much a singular game experience, but more a collection of them (mostly LARP-related) that basically soured me on games with GMPCs. It's the reason why I don't run them in my own games and when possible refuse to play in games that have them. Either they have to fill in gaps because someone screwed up when the whole group was supposed to be working together to build characters, or they exist so the GM doesn't feel like they're somehow missing out by 'just' running the game, or usually something self-indulgent like that.

I know that's not universally true, and I'm not saying it is. But regardless, as a result of my experiences, GMPCs are at best a red flag for me when it comes to a game.

Day 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended play?

I don't.

Alternate Question: What gives an RPG its 'replay value'?

A lot of it comes down to the ability to have different narrative experiences over time. Not just reskinning a handful of dungeons, but being able to explore different concepts and stories.

War Orphans: I, Sontaran

Okay, before I get into the Doctor Who write-up, just a couple of notes. Because of player scheduling issues (largely related to this weekend being the fall move-in for WVU), this will be the last session (and thus, the last write-up) until I get back from Gencon. I'm not sure what else to mention here; I think I had something in mind when I opened up the file to write this blog post but now that I get to it I'm blanking. So yeah.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RPGaDay 2017, Week 1

Alright, so, if you've followed this blog before you probably know the routine. For those that haven't, #RPGaDay is an exercise where every day in August, you answer a list of questions about role-playing games and how you play them. This year's questions are here. I do daily-ish posts at my Plus account, collected here, and here at the blog I do weekly recaps. And here is the first of them.

Day 1: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

Honestly, after adjusting for stuff I've played recently or am running (and getting a little sick of,) I think that might be Eclipse Phase. Like, straight-up, original system Eclipse Phase, not just the Fate version. Because that's a system I'd love to take for a spin, except I look at the character creation rules and just check out.

Maybe their second edition will be an improvement, but I couldn't tell you because it's been a while since I looked at the available playtest documents.

Day 2: What RPG would you like to see published?

Trinity Continuum and Trinity Continuum: Aeon, the new editions. I mean, it's going to come out, it's progressing closer and closer to being finished. So maybe this is cheating slightly. But, like Veruca Salt, I want it nooooowwwwww!

Day 3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

Word of mouth via social media, usually conversations on Plus but occasionally through a link to a Kickstarter on Twitter or something.

Day 4: Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

Well, there are a couple of ways to count this.

If you mean just playing, then it's a tie between Adventure! and Pathfinder, as one of my weekly groups alternates between those two and my Doctor Who game.

If you count running games as well as playing, then overall it would be Pathfinder because the group I run for alternates between Pathfinder and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. So I either run or play Pathfinder the most, followed by Werewolf, Adventure!, and Doctor Who.

Day 5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

Okay, so this is one of those 'I don't know how to answer this' ones, because it's so subjective and I can't even begin to imagine how I would rate one against another. So, into the Alternate Questions!

Alternate Question: Campaigns: do you prefer set-length or open-ended play?

I prefer set-length, for the most part. At the very least, a 'seasonal' structure so there are points where you can stop and step away. Games where there is no defined end in sight seem to be much more likely to run out of ideas and try to surge forward on momentum alone. If you don't know when you're going to be taking a break from the story, then you're more likely to get frustrated and fed up over time.

So yeah. Set-length.

Day 6: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do!

Okay, there are an absurd amount of potential variables. But if it were up to me, off the top of my head? I'd do a week of one-shots that I think people need to experience or I don't think I'll otherwise get to run/play.

Day 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

Well, I'd say it's a toss-up between two.

First, the Doctor Who RPG session where my player characters encountered the Doctor and learned about what happened to Gallifrey during the Time War, and later getting to witness the Berlin Wall opening up for the first time to let people freely pass through.

Second, one of my old Promethean sessions (I've had those on the brain because reasons) where my friend Shomo's character, a Promethean created to fight Nazi monsters in WWII, met the surviving family of the body that provided most of his parts, implying that the guy's ancient and somewhat senile mother recognized his face.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cave of Secrets: The Burial

Okay, so, quick reminder, Gencon's coming up. If you're gonna be there and want to hang out, you should know how/where to find me by now. I'll be busy Friday and Saturday evenings, lunchtime Sunday, and maybe through bits of Thursday. That said, my roommate Sean and I are arriving Wednesday (though at the moment I cannot guarantee an arrival time) and going home Monday, which means I should be available Sunday evening and maybe even Wednesday as well depending on a few factors.

Also, another reminder, we're closing in on the end of this story and the end of Cave of Secrets' first 'season.' At which point I'm going to take a break and run something else for a while. We'll figure that something else out eventually, but in the meantime we'll be focusing on trying to power through the rest of the Pathfinder Adventure Path I normally run on alternating weeks.

So here we go.

Monday, July 24, 2017

War Orphans: Mouth of the Void

I know I've mentioned this once or twice recently, but just in case you only follow these DWAITAS posts, I'm going to be at Gencon next month with my roommate. We should be getting in Wednesday the 16th and heading home Monday the 21st. If anyone wants to meet up and hang out or grab a bite to eat, feel free to get in touch either here or on Twitter (@mythicfox), but try to give me more than an hour or two's warning because we know how crazy and busy conventions can get.

And with that, because I can't think of any more preamble...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cave of Secrets: Closed Casket Funeral

Okay, so... not sure what to really add before getting to the post on this one, aside from mentioning that I'll be at Gencon this year with my roommate Sean. We'll be arriving at the convention on the 16th, and leaving on the 21st if anyone wants to hang out. Just keep in mind, y'know, normal convention levels of business and endeavor to get in touch with me with a little more than an hour's warning or something if you want to get a bite to eat or something. Feel free to reach out through comments on here, or Plus, or Twitter.

But anyhow, that's a few weeks away, and right now...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

War Orphans: Planet of the Cybermen

So I've been writing this in fits and spurts during quiet moments at Anthrocon to try and get it out there before I forget too many details. (You'll see how well that's worked out, which can probably be chalked up to all manner of distractions at said convention.) In addition, I'm posting this from a computer not my own just to get it out of the way. So if anything seems a little off, that's why. (And please let me know if anything looks really off)

Before I started the session, I did a couple of things with my group. First off, I passed out some index cards and had everyone write down three historical figures or creatures they'd like to see turn up. See, while I do have an overall plot, I also like the idea of doing a series of episodic short stories with a larger metaplot with some room for bouncing around the universe getting into trouble. So I decided to solicit suggestions from the group. And some interesting stuff came up (and only a couple of things I would have done something with anyways).

Second, this past week's episode of the series got me thinking about the evolution of the Cybermen over the years on the show and it made me realize that while I'd explained to my players that the newer 'armored' Cybermen would be new to them (as they entered the universe from another dimension after the Time War), it might be better to show rather than tell. So I dug up a clip from the old show giving the players a glimpse of just what they are used to with regards to the Cybermen. (Of course, I wish I'd known that was on Youtube first before doing a search during this write-up, because I actually dug out my DVD of The Five Doctors and spent 20 minutes the night before finding the clip in question.)

Ah well.