Random Thoughts

RPG-a-Day 2019 – Last

Finally, the last one. This was a tough month to do this RPG-a-Day thing. Not only am I busy trying to learn a new job, but I’m trying to finish revisions to my chronically-delayed next novel, Summer of Crows. I’ve found these single word prompts to be extremely difficult to deal with compared to previous years’ questions. Of course, I’ve always been bad at single word writing prompts, or writing prompts in general.

But, we are at the end of this year’s RPG-a-Day and no doubt, my blog will return to a post every-other-week. I always tell myself I’ll post more regularly. Maybe this will be the year that finally happens. Of course, most of this kind of content has moved to Twitter, though it is easily lost in the ever-moving content streams. We’ll see what the future holds as the year winds down. I do plan on making some changes, though I can’t say for certain what, exactly, that will look like.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Connection

I’ve already written about, perhaps even this month, how almost every social connection I have came about through gaming. Certainly, almost every person in my life who I consider a friend I met through gaming. Despite what bullies say, tabletop gaming is a social activity. Gamers make connections every day. Every convention, every public game is an opportunity to forge new friendships. While technology has made it possible to engage with the hobby in solitary ways (watching livestreams), it is almost impossible to actually play the games alone. Sure, you can spend hours creating characters, writing adventures, going through the motions of solo play, but the vast majority of gamers find that unsatisfying if they don’t also get to play the game with other people. Technology has made that easier, too. If you can’t find a group locally, there are several online tools to either help you find local gamers or game with people over the internet using virtual tabletops. Technophiles like to complain that technology is driving us apart, making people spend their time with their heads down, staring at their phones. They speak from a place of fear and ignorance, for many of those people are actually more engaged with their friends and family than they could have ever been 30 years ago.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Evolve

Over the vast number of years I’ve been gaming (35+), my games have evolved from simplistic read-the-adventures-aloud-to-each-other-and-kill-everything-there to more character-driven narratives with actual plots. I used to play only D&D (and its derivatives)… of course, when I started, there wasn’t much else available. I’ve seen the industry grow and change. I’ve seen Gen Con triple in size over the last ten years alone (from 22,000ish attendees to nearly 70,000). Change is constant. We have to evolve with the change or we risk being left behind, grumbling that people who play different games aren’t REALLY playing games and aren’t really gamers. I hope I live to see that manure-laden point-of-view confined to the compost heap of history.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Love

My love for RPGs is like a truck, Berzerker. Would you like some making… oh, that’s definitely NSFW and inappropriate for this post.

Love and romance is not something I’ve ever approached in my games. There have been some jokey interactions in that vein, but never a serious attempt at role-playing anything romantic, sexual, or otherwise. I understand some group incorporate these themes quite successfully in their games, and more power to them. It just doesn’t appeal to me to do so.

I do love me some RPGs, though. I have so many, I can’t even list them all from memory, though I did make an attempt to list them all here. I probably need to update that list, though.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Suspense

Suspense is not something I’m good at deliberately generating in my games. I’m sure there are instances where suspense has occurred in one of my games, but we keep things light-hearted enough that being deliberately suspenseful in a sustained way would be really jarring.

Of course, there’s always the suspense when success or failure comes down to one critical die roll. The kind of roll where everyone cheers when the player is successful or they collectively groan (or swear) when the player’s dice fail. Those moments make gaming memories.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Idea

I had an idea once. Several actually. I’ll randomly get ideas for adventures or campaign. Sometimes they come and go, but most of the time, I’ll add them to a file of campaign ideas and stash them in a folder for the game I was thinking about at the time. Sometimes they’ll sit there for years before I actually do anything with them. Often, if I implement the idea, it won’t even be for the original system which generated the idea in the first place.

Maybe I shouldn’t segregate them into folders based on game system?

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Calamity

I’ve had a couple of calamities as a GM. One was a game where I planned on having the villain break his Staff of the Magi in a retributive strike, but I miscalculated the average damage when I was designing the encounter and I ended killing not only him, but about 75% of the PCs in one, fell swoop. Oops. I didn’t intend to end the game on a TPK like that. Another was when I let two players (PLAYERS, not PCs) get into an argument over what they should do with a monster they captured and it devolved into a PvP situation that ended with one character dead and basically killed the campaign because they were pissed at each other after that. I should note that while they would have been justified in executing the unconscious medusa (as one PC preferred) taking her out of the “dungeon” to be rehabilitated was a perfectly cromulent option (and the other PC’s preference) made explicit in the setting. I should have stepped in sooner.

The only calamity I can think of right now as a player occurred in a tournament game at Gen Con, which also happened to be my first experience playing D&D 4E. We got into a combat with a gorgon almost immediately and my character (along with several others) rolled poorly and was petrified. Within 15 minutes of the game starting, my character was taken out. It would have been fine if someone could have unpetrified me, but the rest of the group took almost 3-1/2 hours to deal with the threat (and in 4E, Stone to Flesh was a ritual, meaning it could not be cast in combat). I got to sit there, watching other people play for almost the entire time slot. When I was finally able to play again, there was no time to make further progress. Thanks to that GM actually LETTING us sit there doing nothing for the majority of the game’s time, 4E did not make a good impression on me. I should have walked when it became clear that I wasn’t going to get to do anything again for the rest of the time slot and gone and went to do something more entertaining than nothing. Alas.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Triumph

Despite what my tease on Twitter indicated, I don’t really have anything cool to put here. I mostly GM games, so I don’t have a whole lot of stories from when I was a player. I’m just happy if a player enjoys a game I run. Though I missed the last two years, I run games regularly at Gary Con and they always fill up within minutes of event registration opening (except for that one game I put down on a Sunday). We’ll see if that holds true this next year when I return for the first time since 2016. I’ve already submitted 16 hours of events, but that might change if I can’t finish up the two big adventures I’m working on (I always have back-up plans). I still have a few months to make that decision though.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Surprise!!!

Surprise!!!

Today only, you can download the Kindle version of the first book of the Scars of the Sundering trilogy, Malediction ABSOLUTELY FREE!

 

Pancras thought trouble waited at the end of his journey.

Shadow demons, chaos rifts, and petty archmages all conspire to disrupt his quiet life. Summoned to face a Mage’s Guild inquest over minor grievances, the minotaur wizard leaves home and travels south with his companions, the twins Delilah and Kale.

Harsh winter weather traps them in an unfriendly city where a run-in with a drunken bully leaves him dead and the trio in jail. Fortunately, the opportunistic prince of the city needs a wizard to curse his unwanted wife. The only catch is Pancras’s sense of honor.

As he stalls for time, the twins involve themselves in an uprising in the city’s salt mines. Pancras left necromancy behind him, but it’s looking more and more like he’ll need to break his moral code–and further anger the Mage’s Guild–to get them out of the city in one piece.

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RPG-a-Day 2019 – Lost

Lost.

Not the TV show (which I’ve never seen), but lost cities. Lost treasures. Lost technology. A lot of lost things are found by PCs in role-playing games. It’s a staple of the genre. That magic sword you found in that lost tomb didn’t just appear about of thin air (probably). Maybe it didn’t even belong to the person whose tomb you’re robbing exploring. What if you go into a big city after that adventure and some random passerby realizes that you have their sword that they lost several years ago when they explored that same tomb? Lost items can serve as a springboard to almost infinite adventures. There are as many lost locations in a fantasy world as a GM desires (though at some point, one has to wonder if any place at all is known :p). Whole games are centered around lost “things” (Numenera comes to mind).

Ideally, however, after playing an RPG, the players should not feel like THEY lost. I’m not a fan of the Adversarial GM style of play. If that’s your thing and every player in the group is onboard with it, that’s fine and a perfectly legit way of playing. It should never be used as a “gotcha!” or sprung upon hapless, potentially first-time, players at a convention without being perfectly clear that’s the style of game in play. Obviously, I’m hugely against bait-and-switch events at conventions; if I sign up for a Scooby Doo mystery, don’t spring a torture-porn horror adventure on me as a surprise instead in an attempt to be “edgy,” ’cause that’s grade-A horseshit.

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