Published on 10/22/2009 Written by 3 comments

To Dave, Phil, Graham and Danny... Thanks for creating the RPGBN

I don't know any of you guys beyond the words on your blogs, but I wish I did - because, after all the shit you've put up with over the last little while I would take all of you out for a beer and some good food.

Thanks for creating the RPGBN and through it introducing me to so many blogs that I never would have known about. Thanks for making my blogging life better, easier and more fun. So thanks Dave, Phil, Graham and Danny, you guys rock!

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Published on 10/15/2009 Written by 3 comments

Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon

In case you haven't had your dose of 80's cartoon cheesiness you can watch every Dungeons and Dragons cartoon episode here. Don't watch them all at once or you'll go blind from consuming so much cheese.

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Published on 10/14/2009 Written by 18 comments

The Gender Swap

I was reading this post over at Critical Hits about gaming women. As I was scanning the comments I noticed a few people stating that although they didn't game with women, the men in their groups would often play women. In my twenty eight years of gaming, I have gamed with men and women, both straight and gay and no one has ever played their opposite gender. So I have to ask, does gender swapping in game matter?

To me gender in a game is a non-issue. A player can create and mold their character in whatever image they want within the bounds of the campaign we're playing. So if a man wanted to play a woman, or a woman a man because that was the vision they had for their character, I don't think I would have a problem with it. Unfortunately, this has never come up for me so I'll just have to wander into hypothetical land for a minute here.

If a player desired to play the opposite gender in a game I was running, I think I would immediately ask them, why? If they answered that it was part of the way they saw the character, or they think it would be interesting or it just feels right, then I don't think I would care. If they looked at me all creepy and said, she/he is hot, and then snickered while pressing their hands together, I might refuse... and probably not invite them back to play again.

That's really all I can say. Does gender swapping matter in your game? If you have some experience with this, let me know. I am really interested in hearing about it from both the players and gamemasters perspective. Please comment away.

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Published on 10/13/2009 Written by 0 comments

Awesome Pic of the Week

This weeks picture comes from artist John Howe. He is best known for his Tolkien art, but his other works are pretty awesome as well. His depictions of Middle Earth are some of my all time favorites. I find his vision of Tolkien's world somewhat darker than most artists, which is probably what I like most.

This is one of my favorite pictures of his, and also the current desktop picture on my computer:

Check out John Howe's art for yourself and get some good ol' inspiration for your game.

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Published on 10/12/2009 Written by 2 comments

Have your PC's suffered enough?

Suffering follows a hero like stink follows a Stench Kow. If you take a look at almost any hero from mythology you have the immediate realization that being a "hero", or for that matter anyone of consequence in history is a pretty shit deal. Not only are there terrible responsibilities and grave decisions to be made, but almost everyone you will ever meet is probably dependent on you in some way or another.

So, I guess this begs the question:  If being a hero is so damn shitty why would anyone want their characters to even bother with it?

Simple answer,  its a game. You don't have to suffer the travails of your character, but you get to reap all the fun from going through them. What, suffering is fun? Sure is, if its imaginary.Where real suffering sucks, imaginary suffering brings you closer to the character you're playing.

We are all bound by our suffering. It is a universal truth and the root of compassion and empathy. So it makes sense that if suffering evokes emotions in reality it will also evoke emotions in the imagination. When our characters suffer we feel it in some small way, and are drawn closer to them and the world they inhabit. We all know what it feels like to fight a crazy awesome battle in a game. You barely survive, but in the end you triumph over great adversity and the game is enriched by the shared experience. Real battles are awful, you never for one second want to be in one, especially one from the medieval era. But damn it feels good at the game table.
If imaginary suffering is good, and makes your players bond with their characters, how can it be utilized in a game?

I have to put in a disclaimer here:
In absolutely no way do I support gamemaster douchebaggery. Making your players characters suffer needlessly, ridiculously, or as some type of power play is not only despicable but hints at a pathology that left untreated will result in a sad lonely life bereft of friendship or love... and also fuck you for being a dick.
Moving along.

The kind of suffering that I'm talking about is meaningful suffering. After it happens you've grown in some way as person, or an imaginary person in the case of role playing. I typically use three ways to up the level of meaningful suffering in my campaign.

  1. A hopeless situation where loss is inevitable but some greater good is served. Example: The players must stay and fight to protect the city. They are hopelessly outnumbered, but if they can hold off the mad wizards hoard the people may have time to escape through an ancient tunnel system and get word out to the neighboring kingdoms. If the players manage to survive (and a good GM will give them at least a chance, and avoid pulling a Deus Ex Machina) they will have, to turn a phrase, been through the shit and come out shinning. This would also assume that the GM took a fair amount of time establishing the city and its populace as something the players wanted to save and actually cared about.
  2. Bad guys acting badly. You have to be careful with this one. You can't pull a "orc's ate your family, you better get out there and fight 'em." This one is best suited for individual characters. For example: Having the wizards beloved familiar killed by the henchmen of the big bad guy. Not only is the wizard saddened by the loss it also fuels his desire to defeat the antagonist. Real bad guys always strike us where they know it will hurt, so why wouldn't fictional ones. Just be careful not to go overboard or be to cliche with this one, or the only thing you'll succeed at is pissing off your players.
  3. Oh Tragedy. The granddaddy of suffering, tragedy is often the destiny of the hero, that is if if every Greek myth is to be believed. Example: The PC's rescued the beautiful priestess of Isis from the demon of  Set. They nurse her back to health, and one of the players starts a burgeoning romance with her. All is good until she is slain by a random arrow in a simple encounter with some goblins, nooooooooooooooooooooooooo...
Although there are many ways to help players bond with their characters, I have found suffering to be one of the most effective. What do you think?

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Published on 10/11/2009 Written by 5 comments

The Top Ten Ways to Know Your Campaign Sucks

The RPG top ten for this week is...

The Top Ten Ways to Know Your Campaign Sucks

10) Everyone meets in a tavern.

9) A dark robed man enters the tavern looking for "adventurers".

8) There's a fight in the tavern. Because every fantasy world has all of its taverns filled to the brim with mercenaries, thieves and assholes just looking to fight anyone who happens to be around, regardless of the consequences.

7) The only thing that the players remember from the last session is the pizza, and it wasn't that great.

6) Your NPC's are way more important than your PC's. Its your world by jebus, and you don't want "players" screwing it up.

5) Your Elf/Dwarf hybrid race the Dwelves are not well received. No one recognizes original ideas anymore.

4) You're using the world of Synnibarr for your campaign.

3) For dramatic effect you demand that players dress and speak as their characters when they enter the games room in your house... and by games room in your house, I mean the alcove under the stairs in your Mom's basement.

2) At the end of the night the table is obscured by a massive dice fort constructed during play.

1) You're this guy.

If you are guilty of any these RPG crimes you need to turn in your GM's badge and find your local division of  bad GM's anonymous and get some help.

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Published on 10/10/2009 Written by 0 comments

Is This A Good Idea - Part II

I have been working on the outline for a new campaign world and I will have the first drafts ready in about two weeks. I would like to thank  Zzarchov, Tyler and  seaofstarsrpg for their comments from my previous post. They helped a lot in gaining some perspective on a somewhat muddled idea.

I am looking for people to collaborate with on this project. I have plans to publish it, and already have a few other people on board and would love to have more. I don't want to go into too much detail here, but if you're interested email me at: jack(at)ruleofthedice(dot)com and we can talk.

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Published on 10/10/2009 Written by 1 comment

A Brand New Rule Of The Dice

I finally got around to updating the site. I was never really satisfied with any of its previous incarnations, I found them, well, kinda ugly. Not that aesthetics should take away from content, but a nice design certainly makes for a more enjoyable writing and viewing experience. Man, I sound like an interior designer, which is only half as bad as a graphic designer, which I actually am, and is what I do for a living. So as you can guess there is absolutely no excuse for shoddy design work here.

I also dumped the Jack Crow moniker, because I realized I'm not in grade 10 and people won't steal my soul through the internet. So from now on I will be known as "Super Cool Arch Awesome Amazing Monster Slaying Game Mastering Master of Disaster Dude of Awesomeville", or John L. Williams (my actual human name. My Elvish name is too cool for anyone to know) for short. I also had to drop the Jack Crow moniker when I realized it was James Woods character in this awful movie.

I will be posting regularly starting next week. I hope everyone likes the new site.

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