Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 14: Describe a failure that became amazing!


Day fourteen of #RPGaDAY2018 asks us to describe a failure that became amazing. I'm expecting a whole host of epic tales of disaster to be shared today.

Today's question, however, was provided by Richard Brewster, who hosts a great blog Batjutsu that you should really check out! I particularly love the pie-charts!!!

Thank you Richard!

Like the other folk who submitted questions, I sent him some interview questions and he kindly responded with a video that you can see below - have a watch and subscribe!



I guess I'd better answer the question. I know I've already mentioned this, but the most epic failure I've had recently in gaming was the FFG Star Wars game we finished a few months ago. We'd prepared for days on a planet that was a key location to the rebellion's ship repair facilities, knowing that the Empire was soon to arrive. And they did. I had one of those Delta-7 Aethersprite ships and I decided to hang in orbit and take out a few fighters before the ground assault began. I managed to take out a few, and I continued shooting TIEs out of the sky as the main ground forces landed and started their way toward the base.

I rolled really badly, and the TIEs got lucky, blasting my ship into pieces. Luckily, I was in atmosphere, so I popped the cockpit and stood on the nose, using my Force powers to guide its descent - aiming the crashing ship straight at one of their huge, Imperial tanks. At the last minute, I jumped off (boosted by the Force), and landed on another tank - igniting the lightsaber and starting my attack on the troops as they emerged from the top hatch.

So epic, and probably impossible, but it made great Star Wars, and would have been great in an episode of Rebels...

Monday, August 13, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 13: Describe how your play has evolved.


Day thirteen of #RPGaDAY2018 and the start of the DESCRIBE week. The first question of the week is "Describe how your play has evolved".

I think it has evolved quite a lot as I've hopefully matured as a player, and as a person. As a teenager, all we really wanted to do was basically be murder-hobos as they call it. We'd go into dungeons and kill the monsters, take the treasure, get more powerful and do it all over again.

Even in the games I ran, that was basically all we did. I used to run Star Frontiers, and the group went into epic battles against the Sathar empire, powering up in suits like "Gavin the Walking Battleship" from the Travellers comic strip.

Ghostbusters and James Bond really saw the start of things starting to change, especially with Bond - there was a plot and a story... and most of the time the plot advanced whether the players intervened or not. The villains weren't going to wait around to be stopped. They had a schedule and if the players arrived too late, the villains succeeded. This was a hell of a revelation at the time.

After that, I had a break from gaming and it wasn't until I went to University that I got back into it through playing original Vampire: The Masquerade. It was certainly more story-driven than anything I'd played before and we quickly progressed through Mage, to Kult, then to WitchCraft.

Games we've been playing recently like FFG's Star Wars, Tales from the Loop, and so on, have all been very plot focused. We've lost the desire to "power up" our characters, and strive to tell a great story with exciting moments of action rather than just destroy the villains.

Part of me wishes I could go back to the old D&D games and say to myself "you know, this is how it could play..."


Sunday, August 12, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 12: WILDest Character Concept


Day twelve of #RPGaDAY2018 is the second half of WILD Weekend, asking "Wildest Character Concept". What is the weirdest character idea you've had for a game?

Most of the characters I've played have been pretty standard. I thought I was a bit radically different when we decided to play Tales from the Loop in its default setting of Sweden, but I deliberately went for an American character who knew very little Swedish...


Weirdest character concept I encountered was for a game of Kult I was GMing. All of the characters were goth-teenagers who hung around the goth clubs in London, getting drunk and messing with arcane forces. So, when a new player decided to create an eight-year-old orphan who'd escaped from a research facility and had psychic powers. I mean, interesting concept, but how a group of sulky, drunk, late teen goths would bring an eight-year-old into their group... a bit tricky. I'm sure we'd have made it work, but alas, the player generated the character and never returned, and the game never really got underway.

Oh well...

Thank you for humouring me for WILD Weekend, as a shameless way of keeping the name alive while I continue to work on WILD - the RPG of dreamshare and weirdness.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 11: WILDest Character Name


It's day eleven of #RPGaDAY2018 - and it's what I call "WILD Weekend" - yes, it's a shameless idea, but hell... why not? The question is "Wildest character name"...

I think most of my characters have had pretty normal names. In my youth I had very little imagination so a lot of my characters had names from movies and TV series. I remember both George McFly and "Wild Bill" Kelso were characters in various Call of Cthulhu games.

Names are always the hardest bit for me when it comes to characters.

Not very "wild" were they?

I remember a couple of character names from my old gaming group - especially Jock Duckbar-McClan-Fagwaters, and Squidroon Dirk.

Maybe it's a maturing of my gaming style but I find the hilarious and silly names of my youth destroy the suspension of disbelief and take you out of the "gaming moment".

I'd be interested to see what everyone else comes up with for this one!

Until tomorrow...

Friday, August 10, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 10: How has gaming changed you?


Day ten of #RPGaDAY2018 asks "How has gaming changed you?"

Blimey. Don't hold back at all with the questions, will you?

Well, if I hadn't been playing tabletop RPGs I wouldn't have as many friends as I do now. I'd have had my "best friends" that I had at school, who used to hang out and play video games, but I don't think our little circle would have been as close without sharing the epic stories of battle that bond a group together like playing D&D.

And, as I've mentioned before, I got my first job thanks to roleplaying. Sure it was working for Nature Conservation for the county council, doing their cartography. But the boss at the interview said it was down to me and one other chap, and I tipped the balance because he knew I roleplayed - which meant I could problem solve, think outside of the box, and work in a team.

So without tabletop games, I'd have probably been unemployed, have very few friends, but unimaginative and uncreative. I wouldn't have had the group of friends whose adventures in games inspired me to try drawing comics of their exploits, so I would never have tried to draw comics, so I would never have gone into comic publishing for a short while.

Which would have meant I would never have gone to University to study illustration/animation. I'd have not met my wife who I met through playing Vampire at that Uni...

I have no idea what I would be without gaming!!


Thursday, August 9, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 9: How has a game surprised you?


Day nine of #RPGaDAY2018 asks "How has a game surprised you?"

I love it when a movie or TV series I'm watching is unpredictable. So much entertainment these days is formulaic and rehashes the same old ideas over and over again. Luckily, tabletop gaming is very unpredictable. Players can go off on a tangent and before they realise it, they've gone down a path that they were not expecting leaving the other players sitting, staring in shock.

A recent game of Tales from the Loop exposed one of our players' darker sides when they captured a teenager who had been trying to join our little gang. When he started behaving weirdly, and violent, with arcs of lightning running over his arms, we knew we were in trouble. Luckily, one character had developed an EMP device to take him out. Captured, one of our players was sure this kid had been replaced by a robot - the only way they could tell was to check for an endoskeleton...

However, the biggest surprise we've had playing was a crafty bit of planning from the GM of our Star Wars game. We'd been told we were playing Jedi during the Clone Wars, and after a few months of playing we'd been researching cool ancient Jedi artefacts, and trying to stop the influence of the Dark Side on fellow Jedi apprentices. The GM had different ideas of course. Middle of a mission to an icy planet to rescue a few Jedi who had gone missing, the twenty clone troopers escorting us received an order from Coruscant. Order 66. Now we had twenty clone trooper turning on us, blocking our way off of the planet, with a further forty descending in ships. We were doomed.

We survived, but it was a close thing, but great proof of a cool plot twist that changed the dynamic of the game. That was cool.

I could probably list some more, or times when a game's actual content surprised me, but I think that'll do for today!

Until tomorrow -


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 8: How can we get more people playing?


Day eight of #RPGaDAY2018 asks "How can we get more people playing?"

That reminds me of a conversation I had over emails many, many, many years ago with Chris Birch, head of game publishing juggernaut Modiphius. This was way back when Conspiracy X 2.0 had just come out, and he hadn't started in game publishing. He dropped me an email about the game and we started chatting, and one of the questions he asked was "how do you think we could reach more people with the hobby?" How could we get more people, especially kids, playing roleplaying games?

Of course, this was before Dungeons & Dragons had its second (third?) renaissance and kids just weren't exposed to tabletop gaming like they are now.

The cover of the original printed pitch to the BBC.
Less than twenty were produced...
After a few emails, we decided that the best way to get kids playing was to produce a game that tied into something cool that the kids were enjoying at the moment - of course, I mentioned Doctor Who and Chris responded with "well, I know who to talk to at the BBC"... A few months later and we, along with Angus and Dom and their newly formed Cubicle 7 Entertainment were sitting nervously in the BBC's offices discussing our ideas and a new game was born.

Cut to today and kids are watching Critical Role, Shield of Tomorrow, and so many streams of cool games - and Dungeons & Dragons doesn't have the stigma it used to. The games industry seems to be growing again.

I honestly don't think there's much we need to do except to ensure that new players are welcome. Just like most fandoms, there is a negative element that we should be fighting. Anyone should be welcome to play.

Other than that, you know my views on Harry Potter and the need for a tabletop RPG already...

Until tomorrow, stay multi-classy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 7: How can a GM make the stakes important?


Day seven of #RPGaDAY2018 - a week in already! Today's question asks "How can a GM make the stakes important?"

I dunno if that's really a GM task. In my experience, it's about the players. If they've invested in their characters, really got into playing them, then any threat to them will feel real and make it feel more important. I've played a lot of games where I haven't really cared about my character, and found myself throwing the character into situations that seem dangerous - they've usually worked out in the end, and sometimes even saved other characters. But, as I didn't really care about the character to begin with, it didn't really matter. It didn't feel like there was a risk.

Thankfully, in the games we've been playing recently - especially the Star Wars and Tales from the Loop games, I've felt more attached to the characters. When they're in danger, I care about their survival and the survival of the rest of my group, and any threat they are under feels real. The danger is there, the stakes feel high as the town they're trying to save, the NPCs in danger, the information they need to retrieve that'll help the cause... they all feel urgent and important as we, the players, are invested.

Strangely, Loop is an odd case when it comes to this. We're having a few issues with the "you can't die" element of the characters (what with them all being kids). With the threats in the game escalating with the arrival of killer robots, velociraptors and mind-controlled enhanced thugs, we feel like we're in more danger than we really are. We keep forgetting that we can't actually be killed in the game, and wonder how a teenager can really hope to face these dangers.

I guess that's a roundabout way of saying that the players and their investment in the characters and the world will make the GM's job of making the stakes feel important ultimately pretty easy.

I hope that answers the question!

Until tomorrow - stay multi-classy!

Monday, August 6, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 6: How can players make the world seem real?


Day Six of #RPGaDAY2018 and it's a bit of a cryptic one. Starting off the week of HOWs, the question is "How can players make the world seem real?"

My advice is to have a totem, to check to see if you're in the real world. Also, keep an eye open for Déjà Vu, as that means they've changed something in your simulation.

Seriously though, I think it comes with time. The first couple of sessions you're bound to be finding your feet - this is probably why I really like licensed RPGs. You immediately know what you're dealing with when it comes to a familiar property. If you're in a random fantasy you can say "You're in a bar" and need to know what country, what the politics are like, what species are in the bar, etc. However, if you're playing Star Wars and say "You're in a bar on Coruscant" you can immediately picture what it looks like thanks to knowing the universe...

Otherwise, as I said, it comes with time. The players and GM will gradually build the world over time - filling in details, adding cool NPCs, and making the place feel more real over time.

It's like Dom Cobb was explaining in Inception...

Inception... But you knew that. Of course you've seen Inception...
It's a cycle of Creation and Perception. You create your world, perceive it, and create upon that perception. You'll gradually build a cool setting filled with awesome characters, locations and events that'll feel fully immersive as the games progress.

Hope that answers that one!

Until tomorrow! Stay Multi-classy!


Sunday, August 5, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 5: Favourite Recurring NPC?


It's Day Five of #RPGaDAY2018, and the second day of "NPC Weekend". Today's question is "Favourite Recurring NPC"

Hmmm. I've already mentioned Daraka and Lumsk from the Star Wars game, so it'd have to be someone different.

At the moment, we're in the middle of a Tales from the Loop game which is pretty darn epic and awesome. My character is American, and he's moved with his father to Sweden so that his dad can start work at The Loop. He's pretty out of place, doesn't know much Swedish, so was paired up with classmate Stefan, whose mother is the English teacher at the school.

She's kinda become Kyle's mother figure as he's usually left alone at home while his dad's at the Loop. It's just been nice to have an NPC who keeps an eye on my character, making sure he's got food, friends, transport to school, and so on.

As we're nearing the end of the game (just on the fourth season of mad science) I'm hoping she doesn't get replaced by a robot or turned into a werewolf or something.

There we go, short and sweet answer!

Until tomorrow when we start the HOW week, stay multi-classy!!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 4: Most Memorable NPC?


Day Four of #RPGaDAY2018 brings us the first question of "NPCs WEEKEND" - "Most memorable NPC".

Before I get to the answer, I'd like to thank T R Knight for supplying today's question. Remember when I first put the call out for questions, taking questions we'd had before a "remixing" them into new ones? Well, T R Knight has taken the question from the 3rd August 2016 - "Character moment you're proudest of..." and come back with today's question.

I asked T R Knight a few questions about his time in gaming...

Would you like to introduce yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

“Let me Explain, no there is too much. Let me sum up.” (quote from the movie The Princess Bride). I work at Taylor University as the Director of Academic Technology/Associate CIO and adjunct professor (teaching courses in Game Studies and Writing & Editing for Gaming) at Taylor University. I’m caregiver for my wife who has Multiple Sclerosis, father of twin daughters, gardener, cook, Christian, and long-time gamer. Oh, and I am also a freelance editor and proofreader in the game industry. What that entails is me spending hours staring at text on my screen, making grammatical, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, translation, formatting, layout, style, voice, and flow corrections. I also build indexes, write copy text, update style guides, compare documents, manage finances, read contracts, agree to NDAs, communicate with publishers, and constantly work to build and strengthen relationships. If that does not inform you enough, you can check out my blog http://www.freelanceknight.com/



How did you first get into tabletop roleplaying?

During high school, I rode the bus until my senior year. So many memories, not all of them wonderful, but there is one that I am thankful for. While riding home on the bus one afternoon, I noticed that the guy sitting in front of me was looking at a book with wonderful drawings of comic book heroes and he was taking notes. I was very intrigued, as I was a huge fan of the Super Friends cartoon and read a comic book here and there when I could afford one from the local Hook’s drug store. I leaned over the back of the seat and asked what kind of comic book he was reading. He turned around with a beaming smile and said it wasn’t a comic book but a new game he had found recently. He handed me the book, Villains and Vigilantes, and began to excitedly tell me about this superhero game. I was overwhelmed and confused. He was so excited and babbled on about characteristics, randomly rolling super powers, weaknesses, and something he called polyhedradice. I was like, whoa . . . slow down. Is this a board game of some kind? He just kept smiling and said it wasn’t but it was played at a table, with dice and paper, and your imagination. He asked if I would like to play it with him sometime. I barely knew him other than riding on the bus together, but he handed me the book and told me to read it. Why would this guy I don’t know at all trust me with his book and want to play a game with me? From the moment I started reading the book I was hooked and after one play session I knew tabletop roleplaying was my new passion. 

What inspired you to take the leap from being a player/GM to what you do now?

Not sure I was inspired as much as in the right place at the right time. I had developed a friendship with Angus Abranson over the year so when he left Cubicle 7 to start Chronicle City, he asked me if I would give him a hand setting up the website and storefront, and assisting with community development. I was passionate about games and wanted to help my friend, so I said sure. While assisting Angus with Chronicle City, he had a proofreader leave a project so he needed someone to complete the project quickly to keep it on schedule. He offered me the opportunity to proofread my first rpg which was Interface Zero 2.0 by Gun Metal Games and Chronicle City. I really enjoyed the project and Angus was please so he then followed up with Mindjammer 2.0 from Mindjammer Press and Chronicle City. These two challenging projects awakened a passion to help others with their creative endeavors, thus began my life as a freelance editor and proofreader in the game industry. Since then I have moved into editing board games and short fiction as well, loving my work as a freelancer. 

What makes a game instantly appealing for you?

Storytelling potential. It might be the theme, an IP, or the way the game system opens up opportunities, but ultimately I am attracted to rpgs that encourage the telling of tales. Building a story with friends, sharing the events of a growing narration, challenging our perceptions of the world around us, and building relationships with my fellow gamers are what I seek. A game upon seeing it or hearing about it that suddenly generates creative story ideas in my mind will grab my attention instantly. If the mere thought of the game makes me want to tell stories in that world appeals to me. 

What is your favourite game of all time, and why?

I might play many other RPGs and tabletop games, but Dungeons & Dragons will always be my favorite game. I started with first edition AD&D and now mostly play the new fifth edition. Through V&V as an introduction, and AD&D as my core roleplaying game experience, my understanding of games and their impact on my life expanded dramatically. Playing AD&D over the years has built some of my strongest and life long friendships. It was also while playing AD&D that I first took on the responsiblity as a game master. My years of roleplaying and being a game master have developed many skills and talents that have been so useful in life. I gained confidence in public speaking, my ability to improvise has grown, I learned to take detailed and organized notes, leading others has become natural, and I developed the ability to describe events, actions, places, and things in vivid details to help others visualize. Even though I enjoy D&D 5e (and many other RPGs), I will still return to AD&D 1e occasionally because of the nostalgia and memories that it brings back to my friends and I. 

What are you working on at the moment, and where can we find it?

I keep really busy as a freelance editor and proofreader. My most recently published projects include rpgs that were nominated for ENnie Awards including Down Darker Trails and Reign of Terror by Chaosium, Seven Worlds campaign by Intellistories, and City of Mist by Sons of Oak Studio. Most recently I have been working on a comprehensive index for Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition and numerous board game edits for Stronghold Games and Greenbrier Games. You can find links to all my published works on my blog http://www.freelanceknight.com/published-works/

What do you have planned for the future?

I have quite a few projects already on the upcoming freelancing schedule including more indexes with Onyx Path, numerous board games edits with Stronghold Games, and some other projects I cannot discuss yet. This Spring semester I will again be teaching Writing & Editing for Gaming at Taylor University. I am also hoping to make some further forays into writing for RPGs and not just editing. 

Why do you take part in RPGaDAY?

RPGaDAY provides two wonderful opportunities each year. First, it allows those of us who participate to share our hobby with others and open a conversation about a hobby we are so passionate about. Second, it strengthens the gaming community as we share with each other and learn more about our fellow gamers. Gaming to me is about storytelling and building relationships and RPGaDAY allows us to do both. 


-------

Thank you for the great interview, and for supplying us with a great question this year... 

I guess I'd better answer it. Most memorable NPC? 

It'd probably be from our FFG Star Wars game, but it'd be a close run thing between the lumbering and self-centred Lumsk - a Trandoshan who served as arms dealer and all round pain in the ass who sometimes helped us out of sticky situations (if the money was good) or would sell you to the Hutts or slavers if their money was better. He was played a bit like Arnie in Red Heat, or other 80's action movies. The other cool NPC we kept running into was a Rodian called Daraka who was our tech expert and slicer. He was captured by the Empire and given AJ^6 cyborg enhancements, but we rescued him and his knowledge of the Empire was almost as huge as his love of cheetos... yes, in our game, cheetos existed (or at least a Star Wars universe equivalent). He'd cover everything with orange powder...

That was a fun game. Did enjoy that Star Wars game. No wonder we're going back to playing Star Wars again soon once our Tales from the Loop game concludes!

Thanks again to T R Knight for the interview and today's question.

Until tomorrow, stay multi-classy!!

Friday, August 3, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 3: What gives a game "Staying Power"?


Day three of #RPGaDAY2018 asks "What gives a game 'staying power'?"

In this world of commercially driven games, it used to be that a game would "die" if it didn't have a regular stream of supplements being produced for it. I guess that started way back with the old D&D and Traveller, with their constant adventures and modules coming out, keeping you playing for months and months. That was cool, and even through to when I used to play Vampire: The Masquerade, there was a host of splatbooks and supplements that kept your game growing and evolving.

I don't think that's really the case any more. Games will keep going as long as you want to keep playing them. When it comes to games I love and want to play again, they are long, long gone... which is a shame. I'd love go back to the old WitchCraft game we used to play, or James Bond. And, going back to yesterday's post, the game I'd aspire to write had very few supplements (Nobilis).

I suppose, with me and our group, the games that we want to return to, and keep playing, are ones we've had the coolest experiences with. Probably Mage/Kult/WitchCraft which was one continuing campaign across multiple game engines, and Star Wars (which we're planning on returning to with new characters after a particularly epic two year campaign ended last year).

Now that we're not driven by the excitement of constant commercial releases for our games, if the game is cool and appeals to us, we'll keep playing it as long as we fancy. Of course if something new and fancy does come out for it, we're still excited by it. I just wish I could afford such things!!

Not really a very good answer there, sorry...

Hopefully tomorrow's will be better.

Until then, stay multi-classy!!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 2: What is the first thing you look for in an RPG?


Day Two of #RPGaDAY2018 asks "What is the first thing you look for in an RPG?"

Back when I was young and just getting into the hobby, the first thing I'd look at in an RPG would be the character sheet. It sounds shallow, but you could tell a lot about a game from the character sheet. Attributes, skills, whether it used Hit Points, and you could get a pretty good idea about how complicated it was.

The first game I ever bought was Star Frontiers, way back in the early 1980s. Possibly one of the simplest character sheets ever, and we ended up playing a heck of a lot of Star Frontiers. Back then I wasn't so fussed about complexity, or how the rules worked. If it was complicated, we'd sort it - and possibly just wing it. We were more interested in the game, the setting and how cool it was. And let's face it, Star Frontiers was pretty cool. Space fantasy that would tide us over until a real Star Wars game would come out.

I guess this is a roundabout way of saying that back in the 80s I didn't care about how complicated a game was, as long is it was cool.

Now, it's a different matter.

If the game looks cool, I'll still give it a look, but the first thing I look for is how complicated it is. At my ancient age I don't have the time, the inclination, or the attention span to dedicate hours to working out ranges, detailed encumbrances, the effects of dehydration on the average elf when left waiting in a car park. I want cinematic action and drama.

I know my chances of survival of jumping from the cockpit of a destroyed spacecraft entering atmosphere is almost zero, but I want to be able to ride that flaming carcass of a ship down, jumping at the last minute to land on the enemy vehicle and continue my struggle to free the oppressed planet from the grip of the evil empire. I want to be able to do that without looking at hundreds of tables trying to add "realism" to the game.

Again, this usually boils down to looking at the character sheet.

Numenera character sheet for 1st Edition

Above is the Numenera character sheet. It's a thing of beauty. At first glance it looks pretty complicated, but if you look closely it's really just the absolute basics and shows off the simplicity at the core of the Cypher system - 3 Attributes, 15 slots for Skills, and a few special abilities and cyphers. Pretty easy.

Must admit, I haven't played it yet, but it looks pretty simple though I know things can get more complex with that system (I'm looking at you Invisible Sun)...

Of course, I've been fooled by that in the past. Just look at the simplicity of the Nobilis character sheet below...

Nobilis 2nd Edition Character sheet from the "Big White Book"
Super simple, but I'm still trying to get to grips with how the game works... after fifteen-plus years of reading it. (That said, Nobilis (2nd edition) is everything I hope to produce in a game...)

So there you go. To "skip to the end" as they say in Spaced, I usually look for...
(a) a cool game - the concept, the art and the design has to make me want to open the book first,
(b) simplicity - if it's too complicated for my simple brain I will probably just put it back, and
(c) look at the character sheet - to gauge just how complex it is quickly, I'll just look at the character sheet.

That's it for day two! Hope to see you again tomorrow!

Until then, stay multi-classy!

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!!