Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Thirtyone: Best Advice You were given?

And here we are on the final day of #RPGaDAY2016. It's been a blast, and first of all I must thank Anthony Boyd and the rest of the RPGBrigade for doing such a fantastic job of hosting #RPGaDAY this year, spreading the word of the initiative further than I could ever do alone. And I must also thank them for hosting while I was a little busy, just when I thought we'd have to skip #RPGaDAY altogether this year.

I'd also like to thank Will Brooks again for his awesome graphic design skills and patience in producing this year's #RPGaDAY image that has been seen far and wide.

And finally, I'd like to thank everyone who has taken it upon themselves to join in this year - who answered the questions in status updates, tweets, and images, right up to extensive blog posts and detailed videos. #RPGaDAY would be nothing without the participation of gamers everywhere, and with so many of you joining in this year it has become a significant success. Thank you.

Who knows, maybe next year it'll be even bigger!!

And so, onto the final question. What is the best advice you've been given about a game?

Initially, the advice I'd immediately recall was back when I started playing. Going to my first few gaming sessions I spent a lot of time simply observing, seeing how the game worked, and only chiming in when I was asked directly what my character was doing. It wasn't long before I was advised to just leap in, get involved, and not to be afraid to try something.

The other advice is more me giving advice from what I'd learned. After attending a couple of Dragonmeet conventions, I remember a great panel about indie games a couple of years ago that really opened my mind to different games. Being an oldie, I was brought up with the classics and it was a real revelation to see just how varied and exciting some of these indie games are, and just how revolutionary some of the game design is.

So, my advice, based on that I've been given, is give it a go, try new things, and free your mind.

Thank you again for joining in with #RPGaDAY. I'm sure it'll be back next year!

Until next blog post, stay multi-classy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#RPGaDAY Day Thirty: Your Ideal Game Room

Day Thirty of #RPGaDAY asks what your ideal gaming room would be like if budget was no option. I have to admit, I've stopped playing at the big, traditional table, preferring the more relaxed atmosphere of sitting in bigger comfy chairs. We have smaller tables if we need to roll dice, but the relaxed feel lets us get into character better.

I guess, if budget wasn't a problem, then the bridge of Enterprise D is a great start. If the front chairs swivelled around to face the others, that'd be great. Or it'd be ideal for running Star Trek - the GM could be where the viewscreen is...

Until tomorrow, for the final day - Peace, and Long Life...

Monday, August 29, 2016

#RPGaDAY Days 25-29: It kinda got away from me...

Yeah, time got in the way again. So let's catch up on the questions before we head into the final stretch!

Day 25: What makes a good character?

It's all down to the player. I've seen some really interesting characters get created at the table, and they just haven't been played very well. You have to like the character you have as well. If you don't like the character you've generated, you really can't get into the game and it takes you out of it.

I'm not saying I'm super immersive or anything - far from it. But you have to at least like the character you have. Too many times as a kid I generated D&D characters I didn't like and just didn't enjoy playing them... finding myself putting them at risk needlessly until it wasn't long before I was cracking open the rulebook to create another character.

Day 26: What Hobbies Go Well with RPGs?

You mean you have time for hobbies as well? Jeez, I must be doing something wrong. I guess that as RPG gaming is quite imaginative and creative, suitably creative hobbies probably go best, such as writing, art, crafting... Making stuff!! Make art, be it words, visual or more! Just do it!

Day 27: Most unusual circumstances or location you've gamed?

That'll probably echo back to the 6th response, raising money for the local church roof with a marathon RPG session. The last place you'd expect a 90 hour game of D&D to be played, especially in the 80's, would be a church hall. I'm sure that place was haunted as well...

Day 28: Thing you'd be most surprised if a friend hadn't seen or read?

It still surprises me when someone hasn't seen Star Wars. Any of them. What's wrong with you?

Day 29: If you could game anywhere on Earth, where would you choose?

That one's easy. J K Rowling's house. I'd run a game at J K Rowling's house to show how RPGs work - to prove that a game can be fun, exciting, creative and imaginative without changing or harming the source. I'd get her to join in on one of our current Star Wars games - a massive amount of fun, excitement and drama that doesn't lessen Star Wars at all. Doesn't destroy canon, doesn't ruin the films or the books, and hopefully, by the end of the game, she'd let me write the official Harry Potter RPG...

We can dream, can't we?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Days 19-24: Previously, on #RPGaDAY

There was a good reason why I didn't try to run #RPGaDAY this year, and it's a good job I did. Things got on top of me, dayjob, writing, and more... so I'm a little behind. That, and there are some questions this year that I really have no idea how to answer. Let's try to catch up ready for the final week...

Day Nineteen: Best Way to Learn a New Game?

When I first started playing RPGs, I played in other people's games. First of all it was JR's Traveller game, then Pete's AD&D and Runequest. The advantage there was that I was joining a game that other players already knew how to play, and they could guide me, help me with the rolls, and bring me up to speed.

The first game I bought to run was Star Frontiers, and by then I was more game savvy and after reading the rules multiple times before trying to run the game. But nothing actually beats playing. Playing gives you a real sense of how everything works.

I'd really like to experience FATE and how it works in play. It's all fine reading the rules over and over, but I haven't experienced it in action to see it actually underway. I think the only solution to that is watching "actual play" videos on Youtube.

Day Twenty: Most Challenging but Rewarding system you learned?

I guess the most challenging game has to be Nobilis. It really took a while to grok what was actually going on in the game, and it sat on the shelf for ages with me taking the "great white book" off of the shelf every so often to give it another try before giving up again with a resounding "I have no idea what's going on..."

Then I read the examples of play, and everything really clicked into place. While I still haven't played Nobilis, the realisation of how it works was excellent and really opened my eyes to a different way of playing games. One day, I hope to experience it in action.

Day Twenty-One: Funniest Misinterpretation of a Rule in Your Group?

That one I have no answer for. I don't think we've ever misinterpreted a rule and had a funny result. We've usually just realised that something wasn't making sense and ignored it, getting on with the game.

Day Twenty-Two: Supposedly Random events that keep recurring, and
Day Twenty-Three: Share one of your best "worst luck" stories.

I've merged these ones together, because the most recent "worst luck" story is mostly due to a "supposedly random event". We tried our hand at The One Ring recently, so that our usual Star Wars GM could get up to speed for running it at GenCon. However, I think were was something wrong with my set of dice for the game. Considering we must have rolled about 10-20 times each evening, easily over 50% of the time we were rolling the "Eye of Sauron" on the d12. Bad, bad, bad...

Especially in combat with a bunch of brigands.

Which brings us to today...

Day Twenty-Four: What is the game you are most likely to give to others?

The game I'm most likely to give to someone is going to be Conspiracy X 2.0. I loved that game, and very happy with how the new version came out. And, thanks to Eden, I have multiple copies as the author / line developer. It's a great example of a neat, compact, portable RPG book with everything in a series of small books.

Game I'd LIKE to be able to give to others, would probably be the old WEG Ghostbusters, or Eden's Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. Probably the finest examples of accessible and cool RPGs ever produced.

Right, that's it! I'll try to keep up for the last week!

Until then, LLAP and Stay Multiclassy!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Eighteen: What Innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?

Completely and utterly stumped on this one. I may have to pass today...

Be interested to see what everyone else says...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day 17: What Fictional Character?

What Fictional Character would you like to have join your group? That's another weird one, but at least I have a few answers for that. Especially as a lot of the gaming I do is based on licensed settings.

How about Mulder and Scully joining in a game of Conspiracy X?

Jar Jar Binks coming along to our current Star Wars game (that would be fun!).

Jacob the Pathfinder (from the movie Ink) to help playtest WILD?

The Doctor, joining in on a game of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space?

No, I think the one I'd have to go for would be Rupert Giles, playing the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. See how long it takes for him before he gets knocked out in a fight... Bloody priceless.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Sixteen: Historical Person you'd like in your group?

And what game?

No idea. I guess an interesting one would be Carl Jung, to come over and playtest WILD for me. Be interesting to see what he'd have to say about the use of Tarot and the dream imagery in the game.

Monday, August 15, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Fifteen: Best source of inspiration

Day Fifteen of #RPGaDAY 2016 asks what the best source of inspiration for my games? Definitely movies. I came away from watching Inception with a bizarre desire to write an RPG that captured the surreality of dreams. That allowed characters to use technology to dreamshare, and to experience each other's inner thoughts and conquer their personal demons.

Though it could be said that a lot of what came later to WILD was actual dream experiences, which would come a close second on the inspiration charts...

One day, I'll finish the WILD RPG.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Fourteen: Dream Team

Dream Team of people you used to game with. That's an easy one. I'd love to get the old band back together. We were The Eight. We were the Yorkshire equivalent of the Losers Club in a Stephen King novel. Together we could take on the world.

The Eight, or at least seven of us. Mole, Milo, Me, Bragi, Coop, JR and Fordy, at one of our reunions
(real names not used to protect the innocent)
(Ironically, missing two, John and Pete)
I haven't gamed with them since the early 90's, so it'd be interesting to see how gaming with them would compare.

Otherwise, I'd love to get the two groups I am in at the moment together. To see how the players of Star Wars and Changeling would work as a whole. They're all excellent gamers, and I'm sure it'd be amazing.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Thirteen: A Successful Campaign?

Day Thirteen of #RPGaDAY 2016 is about what makes a successful campaign? Personally, I have no idea, but I think a major contributing factor is the player's relationship with their characters. If the players really enjoy playing the characters, as I've found in a couple of games, it really seems to come together. If they can "get into character", the campaign planned can be almost completely improvised, as the characters themselves will lead the story with only a little guidance from the GM.

I remember a great Kult game we were playing, and I'd just bought a new supplement (The Judas Grail). The players remained in character, and they went off and did their own thing, dipping back into the plot of the scenario from time to time just to keep the story running. But, rather like a good serialised story, the characters and their relationships were what kept the players coming back week upon week, building an epic story that we remember even now, many years later.

Friday, August 12, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Twelve: What Game Next?

So, finishing off the first column of #RPGaDAY is "What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?"

Tricky, and the simple answer is "I have no idea". We seem to be pretty happy with the Star Wars game we have going at the moment, but I guess if we were to try something else I'd be tempted to suggest going back to our roots. The game group formed playing Mage and Kult, so I guess I'd suggest the new edition of Kult, or possibly Invisible Sun, which is very intriguing...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Eleven: Which gamer most affected the way you play?

I have no idea.

I'm going to go and change the question a little to be "which gamer changed the way I look at gaming?" so I can address Wil Wheaton.

Up until recently, I'd been a real "old school gamer". Not in the grumpy only-plays-1st-edition-D&D way of being an old school gamer, but more in the style of play. Then, I saw Titansgrave - The Ashes of Valkana. There was a moment early on where our team of intrepid adventurers find some treasure, and instead of rolling on a table, or looking it up in an adventure, the GM (Mr Wheaton) turns the tables and asks the players - "What do you find?"

What the hell? I mean, trusting your players with that kind of decision was a real revelation. My old gaming group when we were kids would have been - "Well, I find a +5 holy avenger, or a full set of magically enchanted full plate armour."

Certainly changed the way I looked at running a game.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Ten: Largest in-game surprise?

Going to have to be boring and refer to a couple of events that occurred during games this year, and ones I've already mentioned this #RPGaDAY.

Second biggest surprise has to be in the Changeling: The Lost game we've been playing, spotting someone at a crowded railway station in Victorian York who strangely looked exactly like one of our characters. We gave chase and I managed to catch up with her, only for her to fall into the path of a train that was coming into the station. It wasn't going very fast, but she shattered on impact like glass, which I think left all of the players sitting stunned for a bit, confused and surprised by what had happened. Very cool, but a bit wiggy as we used to say back in my hometown.

Biggest surprise came during our FFG Star Wars game - it was all going so well, playing apprentice Jedi during the Clone Wars. We'd been sent off (in completely the wrong direction thankfully) to track down some artefacts that General Grievous was looking for, and to find a missing group of apprentices that had been given the same mission. It was obviously going to be dangerous, so the Republic had sent us with three ships of clone troopers.

One ship was damaged and had to stay in orbit, but we landed with forty troops. Twenty stayed at the ships, and twenty came with us on the mission - which was a success. We found what was left of the previous group, and the dark Jedi that was causing the problems. However, on the way back to the ships, a message came over the communicators to the clone commander - Execute Order 66.

We were beaten, bruised, shot at, and knackered, only to have to fight the troops who had been assigned to protect us.

Needless to say, it was a tough fight, but we survived and escaped. Went into hiding and we've teamed back up again a year later to start the fight to take down the Empire.

Awesome. But Order 66 was a hell of a surprise to pull in the game.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Nine: Ideal session?

Day Nine's question is "Beyond the game, what's involved in the ideal session?"

Another fairly simple one. After many years of playing, the ideal session is purely dependent upon the players. It doesn't matter what game, where it is, it's all about the players. While I love the friends that came to be known as The Eight - the gamers I played with at school and beyond - I've found that any game played with my current groups are just about perfect.

The same group that used to play Mage, Werewolf, Kult, and WitchCraft, all those years ago, we managed to get back together again a few months ago, albeit slightly by remote (thanks to Skype), and started playtesting WILD, and playing FFG's Star Wars, and even managed a couple of sessions of The One Ring.

And Debs and I have a second group going via Skype to play Changeling, which has been strange and confusing and magical all at the same time, while still being immense fun too.

Some games I've been in have been weird and awkward, and some players just don't seem to gel with the rest of the group, or deliberately make things tricky. But getting the right people together, no matter how, is the key to game, no matter what you play.

Monday, August 8, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Eight: Hardcover, Softcover or Digital?

That one's an easy one. After the essay I wrote yesterday, this one boils down to a fairly simple answer. I'm not a fan of softcovers, because the covers end up curly or damaged after weeks of abuse of looking up detailed. I find PDFs handy for reference, and portability, but nothing beats a good hardcover!

Though it's always nice if you don't get a hernia lifting a super heavy tome like the latest Shadowrun.

I discussed this topic a long time ago in this seemingly timely video for my channel...

Some of that seems strangely apt now.

But it this question has raised an interesting thought. What about "apps"? Why hasn't anyone gone further with the digital route and done the book as an app?

While working on WILD, I really wanted the book's digital equivalent to be more than just pages. I wanted animations, tap to open new features or examples of play. That sort of thing.

One day.

Until tomorrow, Peace and Long Life, and stay multiclassy!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Seven: What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?

Wow, let's go for the big questions!

Okay. RPGs have been a part of my life for a long, long time. And RPGs have had a major impact on my life in four, very distinct and life changing ways.

First of all, I'll just get this out of the way, I was a nerd as a kid. Slightly dumpy, weird looking kid, and I didn't really have many friends. I had a couple of really close friends, and we hardly did anything without each other. But RPGs changed all of that. Thanks to the D&D group(s) I was in, which merged into a great RPG group, I had the best friends ever. Especially through those awkward teenage years when social standing is weird and bizarre, we stuck together - we gamed constantly, and now, thirty-plus years later, we're still the best of friends. We may be miles apart, spread across the world in different continents, we're always there for each other and rally to each other's aid if necessary.

We're like veterans of a war, only we were fighting orcs, sathar and broo. The bonds formed in those years of adventuring have made us the best of friends. To the Eight (and more) - Bragi, Mole, Milo, Cooper, John, Pete, JR, Fordy, and the extended family of Gladys, Norm, and more... You're all legends, and I'll always have your backs.

Secondly, I got my first job thanks to RPGs. Interviewing for a job in cartography working for the local council's Nature Conservation group, where I'd eventually end up amending Ordnance Survey maps to highlight sites of importance, I was my usual nervous self.

The interview went okay, and I got on well with the two who were doing the interviewing - Mark, and Doug. And I got the job! Hurrah!

Later, working with Doug, we were chatting and he revealed that the position came down to two finalists - me, and someone else. And I pipped the other to the post due to my playing tabletop roleplaying games. Doug said that thanks to RPGs, he knew that not only could I draw maps, but I knew how to work in a team (party) and could think my way out of problems.

Thirdly, the dumb response is that RPGs have certainly had a major effect on me as I now write RPGs. Livin' the dream!

Fourth, and probably most importantly, I met my wife at an RPG session. You can't have any bigger effect on your life than to meet your lifelong partner. So, thanks Debs, for being not only awesome, but also being a gamer.

Okay, much to do. Until tomorrow. Stay multi-classy!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Six: Most amazing thing a game group did for their community.

Clipping from the local paper in the late 80's. Names have been removed just in case anyone doesn't
want to be associated with me. I'm at the back on the right, grinning like a loon.
I'm taking the question as referring to a game group I've been in rather than one anywhere in the world who have done far more than our tiny effort, but it was quite an effort none-the-less.

I've written about it before on my blog, but back in the late 80's my little game group decided to play a marathon session of multiple games for 90 hours, sponsored to raise money for the local church roof. I know, D&D in the 80's raising money for a church?

Anyway, check out my earlier blog post as part of my "Roll Your Own Life" series to hear tales of muscle cramps, hallucinations, and strange visitors.

We may have only raised £150, but in converted to today's money, that's about £300, which isn't bad for sitting on our butts eating junk food for five days...

Until tomorrow, stay multi-classy and keep good friends.

Friday, August 5, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Five: What Story does your group tell of your character?

Another question about memorable moments in my gaming past. What story would people tell of my characters?

Besides the acts of stupidity that I've listed before, there's probably the tales of my D&D characters from days of yore. I always played Paladins, except once when I thought I'd try something different and I created a thief. A thief who liked to set off traps to see what they did. I mean, what's the point of a trap being created by the DM if you don't spring it after you've noticed it to see what it does?

I mean, Indiana Jones triggers every trap to show the effects, so why shouldn't I?

Well, maybe when the trap triggers a teleportation spell that removes you from the dungeon and places you into the sky, a mile above the pyramid you are investigating, leaving you to return to the scene under the natural speed of gravity. *splat*...

Didn't make it beyond level one.

Until tomorrow, stay multiclassy.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Four: Most Impressive thing another's character did?

A bit like yesterday's question only about someone else's character. What has impressed you during a game?


I really have no idea. I have distinct memories of my old WEG Star Wars game that I used to run, and the pilot of the "Ballistic Wombat", Deeko Smiggins, was so good at piloting that they used to cruise past Star Destroyers and jink around whole squadrons of TIE Fighters who didn't stand a chance of hitting the ship. There were so many dice being rolled, that it sounded like thunder.

The same group's Call of Cthulhu game, I remember my character sticking their head into a tent while we were camping out on the moors, hunting a werewolf. It was after an evening of camping booze, and everyone was a little drunk, and the poor soul stuck their head into the tent and one of the characters (I think it may have been Milo again, Deeko Smiggins' player from Star Wars) threw a bottle at them to discourage being disturbed from a night's sleep. The roll was so good, the bottle instantly killed him...  Ooops. I may be remembering it wrong (Milo will correct me), but that's what I remember anyway. It was a long, long, long time ago.

The lesson? Never throw anything at your team-mates. Especially weapons. Or fireballs.

Stay Multiclassy!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day Three: Character Moment you are most proud of?

Pride often comes before a fall, and I'm not usually very proud of anything my characters do. I always used to GM, so player moments are sparse for me.

It would have to be a close call between a Call of Cthulhu game where we discovered the cultists' house and managed to uncover their supply of gas for their beat up truck, being stored in metal drums in the loading bay of their estate. After finding nasty things surfacing in the basement, instead of standing and fighting, we ran, kicked over the gas drums, rolled them into the basement while they leaked and fled in their truck as the place exploded like an 80's action movie.

Not great, and certainly not as great as giving chase to a bounty hunter/dark jedi who had just stolen an item we were giving to a Hutt in FFG Star Wars. He jumped off the side of the building using a descender line, and I was suitably evil (after all, I am dark side trying to redeem himself) and shot out the line, before foolishly diving off of the building to try to land on an external lift in the complex.

Heroic and action packed, but actually pretty stupid and could have killed my character without a good roll... Everyone survived, and it was just the beginning of the chase that involved driving speeder bikes into lifts and getting trapped when the lightsabers came out.

Until tomorrow!

Stay Multiclassy!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 Day Two: Best Game Session since August 2015

Wow, that's a tricky one already. I thought the new guys were going to go easy on us!

This time last year I wouldn't have been able to answer this, as I was hardly playing anything. I spent all my time writing and hardly looking up to actually engage in a game.

Recently, however, I've actually played games! And played, rather than GM'd, which is also a miracle. As for "Best Game Session since August 2015"?

It could be moment when the doppelgänger we were chasing in our Victorian era Changeling game suddenly shattered into glass which left all of us stunned with our jaws hanging open.

Or flying a recently stolen Lambda class shuttle into the luxurious abode of the former Jedi classmate who had gone bad in our FFG Star Wars game?

No, I think the best game session involved the moment in our Clone Wars era FFG Star Wars game, where our party of apprentice Jedi were sent on a mission to find another group of apprentices who had gone missing. We'd found them, battled the bad guys, and lost a few of the clone troops that we had with us along the way...

We were just heading back to the ships, with the remaining sixteen or so clone troopers, victorious but badly beaten up, when the clone commander ahead of us at the ship receives a holographic message.

"Execute Order 66"...

And suddenly, our Clone Wars game becomes a Rebellion Era game...


Until next one, stay multiclassy.

Monday, August 1, 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016 - Day 1: How do you roll?

I know I said I was too busy for #RPGaDAY this year, and I am really, but I'm hoping I can squeeze in some blog posts for it - they are far less time consuming than the videos, and, let's face it, this way you don't have to look at my gormless face every day this month.

So, Day 1 of #RPGaDAY this year poses the following question...

Dice, Diceless, Dice App, how do you prefer to "roll"?

Basically, I've always been a dice person. I've never tried diceless, but would like to, but I find the randomness of some encounters and conflicts actually adds to the drama and action.

I've also tried the dice app route, but that was purely for FFG's Star Wars RPG. It's okay, but sometimes it's just easier to pick up the dice and roll.

I like what they were trying to do with the FFG Star Wars game - the advantages and threats, triumphs and despair, but all too often do we end up with rolls that are "I failed, but I got three advantages", giving the character a chance to regain stress or strain or whatever, or leaving the GM with a struggle to think of what can be gained during their massive failure. It puts a lot of pressure on the GM.

For WILD, I started looking into dice with simple "success or fail" pips on them, then scrapped the dice altogether to go purely card orientated, using the same Tarot decks that were used for character creation to resolve tasks. A simple "value of the card" with a bonus if it's the right suit or court card that relates to the attribute or skill being used.

Major Arcana cards worked just the same, but some divinatory meaning from the card should be incorporated into the result. That spices things up a bit!!

The WILD Tarot deck prototypes. (c) 2014 David F. Chapman

Don't worry, I'll get back to WILD soon. Meanwhile, I'd best get back to my current assignment...

Until next time, stay multiclassy!