Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 1: What do you love about RPGs?

It's the 1st of August, which means the launch of this year's #RPGaDAY. Welcome aboard everyone! I hope you enjoy the ride, spreading the positive word of how cool tabletop roleplaying games are.



The first question for #RPGaDAY2018 was submitted by Josh Fox and Becky Annison. They've been supporters of #RPGaDAY for many years, joining in three years ago when I recruited people to contribute to the videos I was doing, and it's great to have them on board again this year - especially as they've taken the time out from promoting their awesome Kickstarter for Flotsam: Adrift Among The Stars, to submit a question.

Before I get onto today's question, I asked a few questions to Josh and Becky -

Dave: Would you like to introduce yourselves? Who are you and what do you do?

The cover for FLOTSAM: Adrift Amongst
the Stars, art by Anna Landin

Josh: Hello! I'm Josh Fox, co-designer of Lovecraftesque, designer of Flotsam: Adrift Amongst the Stars, and a whole bunch of smaller games. I'm one half of Black Armada Games (with Becky Annison). I like roleplaying.
Becky: And I'm Becky Annison, Award winning designer of When the Dark is Gone and co-designer of Lovecraftesque and the other half of Black Armada, I love games that provoke feelings and cement friendships.
 
Dave: How did you first get into tabletop roleplaying?

J: I started with the Red Box D&D set, which a new kid arrived at my school with and promptly started organising lunchtime play. I loved the game, and despite disapproval from parents and teachers, and an ongoing lack of local players after I left Primary school, I stuck with it through thick and thin.
B: I read a trashy satanic panic fantasy novel when I was 10, warning of the dangers of role-playing games.  Far from the desired effect I decided then and there that RPGs sounded AMAZING.  I saved up all my birthday money and bought D&D when I was 11.  I have never looked back.
 
D: What inspired you to take the leap from being a player/GM to what you do now?

J: Like a lot of people, I started tinkering with my games pretty much from day one. I vaguely recall attempting to hack D&D into a space opera game, probably my first design project. But I got into it more seriously prompted by two things. First, my discovery of indie games, and in particular Fiasco, which turned me on to the idea that there was something in between a traditional dice, stats and GM-style game and a freeform LARP. Second, I sat down with a couple of friends to discuss how we all loved roleplaying and surely we could make some money writing games? That's pretty much how Black Armada was born.
B: When I arrived at University there was a vibrant and thriving Role-playing society which organised 2-3 events a week.  One of these was called the society game, a large free-form LARP (attendance fluctuated from 10-60 people at a session) and every year the LARP organiser team would change and the new team would write a new world and a new system.  My first taste of design was joining one of those teams.  Much later I discovered Indie games at the same time as Josh and quickly starting designing table top games, drawing heavily on my LARP experience.

J: Oh yeah, I forgot about the society game. We did that together - so I guess for both of us our roots are in LARP design rather than tabletop.

D: What makes a game instantly appealing for you?

J: I mean, for *instant* appeal it's a cool, unusual concept that stands out from the crowd. But for more than skin-deep interest, I'm looking for a game that has been lovingly designed to fulfil that cool concept, with a rules system that will bring it to life at the table. And to really get me excited, it should have an interesting division of creative control, or interesting creative constraints, because that's going to make for a novel (hopefully fun!) experience.
B: I want a game that will give me feelings, a game with a good support and space at the table for developing interesting relationships and a game where the action and story changes those relationships.   Many years ago I just wanted system to get out of the way of the interesting story and the interesting conversations I wanted to have.  These days there are so many games which support, facilitate and make those stories and conversations even better that I feel spoiled for choice.
 
D: What is your favourite game of all time, and why?

J: That is a tough call, but as of right now it's Dream Askew. I am a huge fan of GMless games, because I love getting my greasy mitts all over the setting and having more levers than just one character, but also want the other people around the table to be doing the same with their greasy mitts. What I love about Dream Askew is, it lets you do that *and* have a single character of your own who you love and pour yourself into. It's kind of like having a favourite NPC, except nobody gives you any stick for it.

B: Amber Diceless by Erick Wujcik.  It is a game with so many flaws and I hack it to pieces when I run it.  But it was my first taste of experiencing a narrative in game which flowed like water, way back when I was 17. It has always stuck with me.  I have such fond memories of the game and the books on which it is based.  It is a very rich world for storytelling and a dream setting for telling a high-stakes, dysfunctional, family drama piece.

D: What are you working on at the moment, and where can we find it?
Art from FLOTSAM: Adrift Amongst the Stars
by Claudia Cangini

J: RIGHT NOW I have a game up on Kickstarter. It's called Flotsam: Adrift Amongst the Stars, and it's about outcasts, misfits and renegades living in the belly of a space station. It's focused on their everyday lives, interpersonal relationships and small-scale drama against the epic backdrop of spaaaaaace. If you've read this far it won't surprise you to learn that it's GMless, but it comes with a very clear set of rules and division of responsibilities, so it's not just a free-for-all. I've designed it to make it super-easy to learn and play even if you're new to GMless play.
B: I am coming to the end of playtesting Bite Me!  An emotional game of Werewolf Pack dynamics.  The playtests have gone really well and I'm really excited about it! I love the idea of Werewolves and their Packs - the dual nature of werewolves and the opportunities for creating interesting relationships and politics that a Pack situation presents.   I'm hoping to Kickstart it at the end of the year since it is very close to being done!
 
D: What do you have planned for the future?

J: I'm in the early stages of testing out a PBTA SF game about the last ragtag fleet of humanity, on the run from an implacable human foe that has also infiltrated the fleet. If that sounds familiar, *cough* you might be onto something. It's all about characters under extraordinary pressure, contending with deadly enemies, their own psychological limitations, and the internal panic and paranoia that threaten to rip the fleet apart. I'm very very excited about it.

B:  The Solarpunk or Ecopunk genre is really inspiring me at the moment.  Something set in a near future world, imagining greater harmony between nature, humanity and tech.  Re-imagining our social and economic systems to create something incredibly hope-filled.  It feels like the antidote we need at the moment.  Looking at how to bring that out in system and gameplay is occupying my mind a lot at the moment.

We're also looking at setting up a Patreon for our smaller games, and to share the design thinking behind our larger projects while we're working on them. Watch this space!

D: Finally, why do you take part in RPGaDAY?

J: I like talking and writing about roleplaying, and I like taking part in something the whole online RPG community is involved with. Plus I fall squarely in the group of people who don't get to go to Gen Con or the other big US cons, so it's nice to feel like I'm not entirely missing out!


B: I don't find it easy to come up with the 'right' things to say on social media.  But I often wish I was posting and engaging more with all the other Role-players out there.  RPGaDAY give me prompts that get me over my reticence for talking online, and sharing my story at the same time as everyone else means taking part in a month long celebration of my favourite thing.  And that is a brilliant feeling!

Fantastic, thank you for the interview. You can find the Kickstarter for Flotsam: Adrift Amongst the Stars here! Please head over and check it out. If it's as good as Lovecraftesque you seriously won't want to miss out. 

Josh and Becky submitted today's question for #RPGaDAY2018

"What do you love about RPGs (that no other media provides)?"

Good question! 

There are loads of great answers to this. Tabletop gaming is very social, which is great. At its core it involves getting together with a group of friends and sitting around a table or in a room, and actually interacting with people. Something we do very little of these days. Although I can't dismiss social media and technology completely, as thanks to Skype and G+, and Roll20 and things like that, people who have drifted apart geographically can still play - and you can join games on the other side of the world. Something we were never capable of doing short of PBM back in the 80's. 

They're great for making friends, and the friends I made back in school playing D&D are still my friends now. Thirty-five, nearly forty years later, we still meet up when we can and share stories of our ancient exploits. We've bonded into a group of friends who rush to each other's aid when one is in trouble. I'm eternally grateful for my old gaming group. I don't think I'd have made it through school, or beyond, without them. 

Some, but not all of the old gaming group. Still meeting up (though this was over ten years ago) decades after playing.
Also, there's a level of freedom and interaction you don't get from watching movies or playing video games. Video games are about as close as you could get, but a lot of them are really linear. Most of the games we've played have been pretty freeform and you can tackle the task at hand in any way you could imagine. You can't get that from anything else. 

I'll certainly be interested to see how everyone else answers this question!

Don't forget to share your response to this question online in any forum you fancy, just tag it #RPGaDAY2018

Come back tomorrow for day two!!




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