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Showing posts from September, 2014

Four Reasons "Playing" RPGs is Better than Game Mastering

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Last weekend, I hooked up with Rule of the Dice contributors Jason and John, as well as our resident kook Dave, to play a Google Hangouts version of John's D&D hack. (See Jason's post for more details about the game). I realized shortly after we sat down that this would be my first time PLAYING an RPG live at a table - not GMing and not play-by-post - literally in years.

About 4 years ago I played a bit of 4th Edition Encounters and Living Forgotten Realms, which... is not role-playing. It's rolling some dice, waiting twenty minutes for everyone else to argue about the interactions of their ridiculous powers, and then rolling a couple more dice when your turn comes around again. It was a grinding slog most of the time, but I played happily because it was my rare chance to sit on the other side of the screen and to create stupidly awesome (or is it awesomely stupid?) nonsensical rangers.

The last time I played before that was I believe in 2002 when Jason ran a one-off …

Characters Can Be Crazy

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Most of my posts here are about board games, but in the last couple of weeks I've had two new RPG's start, one as a PBEM and one as a live on-line experience.  This has me in an RPG frame of mind, so today I'm all about that bass our last live gaming session.

We played in google hangout, and the system and world are home-brew D&D knock-offs created by +John Williams.  A couple of weeks ago he sent us a slimmed down rule book, some world background info, and let us make our characters.  The rules have a lot of random generation tables, and all 3 of us PC's used those to a fairly large degree. 

This, in my mind is point #1 where things started to go really right. Whenever I've made a character in the past, it has involved things like "What does the party need?" and "What's something really cool I can do?"  This isn't a terrible way to make a character, but it does lead to me often making similar characters with similar traits that all…

Soundtrack to the Weird West

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So that game I was bewildered about last week is happening. I still don't know if it's going to work, but I come armed with all the great feedback and suggestions that I received on the topic. If it flops at this point I have no one to blame but myself.

Apparently we're running Deadlands without calling it Deadlands or even realizing we had chosen it. When we were deciding what kind of game to try I told my group that I was willing to run one of four types of games:
1. Sci-fi (more appropriately, space opera, a la Star Wars/BSG/Serenity) 2. Zombie survival/horror 3. Western 4. Pro-wrestling (knowing no one was going to do it)
Of course, we ended up with a sci-fi/zombie/western hybrid. Just couldn't shoehorn the wrestling in there. Through brainstorming (yay, FATE!) we ended up with a vaguely wild west setting with supernatural elements, heavy on steampunk and airships (so the one guy who wanted to play Firefly could still get to be Captain Reynolds). 
I didn't wan…

GM Advice Desperately Needed (I'm In Way Over My Head)

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What was I thinking?

I just had 14 people sign up to play a game I've never run, in a system I'm not familiar with, in a setting we just made up over the weekend. And Cthulhu help me, I think I'm going to go ahead with it.

It's a play by email game it not like I'm going to have 28 eyes staring at me. But it's still a lot of stuff over track of, and it will be impossible to keep everyone engaged with something to do. And because we'll be waiting for so many people to respond, we could be waiting ages between posts. So why am I considering going through with this?

Am I nuts, agreeing to do this? Should I have just cut the group off at 5, 6 or 7? I'm so bad at saying no...

I'm considering splitting it into 2 parties, which will make it more manageable, but then I will basically be running two games. Even if I run them through identical, mirrored scenarios and reuse as much material as I can, in a setting like this they're going to quickly wander off in…

With but a Whimper (The Death of Another Campaign)

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I am terrible at ending campaigns.

To be fair, this one did have a pretty good bang before the whimper. For reference, this is what I had as an outline for our final adventure (which I didn't know at the time would be our final adventure):

1. The party has to protect the actor during the performance. Hopefully some of them have to get on stage and take part.

2. The will be attacked by assassins trying to kill the actor, and wild mountain men on the way to the performance.

3. After the performance when they leave with their pay they will be attacked by pirates.

That was it. I thought it would take a couple of weeks of real-time and be a short and hopefully fun little scenario. I had no idea it would blow up into the huge drama that it did.

It turned into a major political insurgence. A king was killed, a princess kidnapped, a religious revolution instigated. Lost family members returned. One of the party betrayed his friends, and another died trying to be a hero. Yet another nearly d…

Alternate RPG settings

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I've been considering running a couple of new RPG games, one as a PBEM, and one with a live group.  I've mentioned in the past that I know I'm better at running PBEM's than live games, but I'm hoping they both work well. 
But that's putting the cart ahead of the horse.  What I need to do first  is find a system, a world setting, and a campaign.
While I have a bunch of 2e and 3.5e adventure modules, I know I prefer unique worlds in the games I play.  My usual GM has an extensive world he has created and sets most of his games in it, which I really enjoy.  I hope to be able to give my players a similarly satisfying experience.  I know I don't want to go the extreme route of creating my own system the way C.D. has with Splatter-Elf.  However I am considering adapting one of the systems I know well to a unique world.

Likely the system will be 2e or Advanced Labyrinth Lord (hooray for free!), or with a bit more work, I can make my ideas work with 3.5e.  The worl…

Sodor Stories: Thomas the Tank Engine RPG (Powered by FATE Accelerated)

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Why? Short answer: Because I can.

Long answer: Because I'm still learning FATE and the best way to learn a new system is to tear it apart and make something new with it. Of course, the cool thing about FATE is that's the whole point - you're expected to tinker with it and make it your own.

I chose Thomas specifically for a number of reasons. First, a cursory glance shows no other Thomas homebrews out there. (This is a pretty awesome list of other FATE hacks, though)

(Fun aside - someone tried to make a Thomas video game RPG on Kickstarter a few weeks ago, which was quickly shut down for copyright reasons. +John Williams - I apologize in advance Gullane Entertainment shuts down Rule of the Dice for this)

Secondly, I've been watching a lot of Thomas with my son lately so it's at the front of my mind. The trains of Sodor live in an incredibly detailed and expansive world (a world with an insane amount of railroad on an island only 60 miles across). Plus, Thomas seems …

Sometimes Simple Just Works

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I've been introduced to some new games in the last little while that I've really enjoyed, and they have one thing in common - They are incredibly simple.  Rather than a lot of the Euro style games, that are already quite accessible with rules like "Do 1 of 4 things on each turn" these come down to "play a card, pick a card."  With such simple instructions, they are great for introducing new players to the world of gaming, yet they are detailed enough within each move to hold the interest of seasoned players.

The first game I'll mention is Guillotine.  12 "nobles" are lined up to be beheaded, and players try to collect the more valuable cards.  Using rules on the cards themselves, and on the cards in their hands, they play with the order of the line to aid their own score, or to try to prevent other players from getting a good score.  After 3 rounds, the points are totaled.  The cards have simple actions to them, like "move 2 forward"…