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Category: Gaming

WISHing on a web

Wish #87 asks:

What are three or more web sites you’ve used recently as a player or GM? Why do you use them? What do you get from them?

20’ by 20’ Room, of course!

But also:

  • ThePulp.Net, which is the best source for pulp info, plus links to lots of free pulp ebooks.
  • The FAS IRP, which is the Federation of American Scientists’ Intelligence Resource Program. Essential for modern-day espionage/technothriller games. And for Feng Shui.
  • Incunabula, hub site for the Ong’s Hat mythos, which I sprung on my superhero players recently.

Other tricks… if you search Google Images for “party pictures,” you’ll get a lot of candid shots. Great for pictures of NPCs who aren’t supposed to look like movie stars.

Oh, yeah, speaking of photographs: the Library of Congress put its Prints and Photographs Catalog online. For Boston-specific photos, I use this site. Yale’s Beinecke Library also has a very nice digital collection.

WISH combo

Since I’m hopelessly behind, I’m going to combine WISH 86:

What can the GM or other players do to help “midwife” the character creation process?

And WISH 85:

What inspires you to create characters? Do you have partially-developed characters in mind for use when you get into a new campaign? Do you shop characters around, or do you come up with new characters when you get into a campaign? Why? If you GM, are you bothered by receiving a solicitation for a “generic” character, or does it enthuse you to get a solid proposal even if it’s not closely tailored to your game?

And just ramble a lot.

I tend to go in cycles for my characters. I did a couple of travel-oriented characters in Reese and Cian, which I think is finished; I have a cycle of flippant competent noble Guy Gavriel Kay-esque characters which may or may not be complete. Probably not, since I think Mr. Wellstone was drawn from that model. Geoff Heortson is a recycled version of the character I came up with for the Arcana Unearthed game. And so on.

Sometimes I come up with completely new ideas, though. The PC I have in mind for the wuxia Charnel Gods game doesn’t match anything I’ve done recently. He may be the start of a new cycle, but I don’t think so — he’s too much a product of the background for the game. Stick was unique too, although he was generated for another abortive campaign a long time ago. But I won’t likely play him again.

So yeah, it really just depends. I do what catches my interest.

I tend to try and figure out where my character will find spotlight time. Competence is not necessary; hooks are. I always throw in hooks if I can. It’s OK if the GM doesn’t abuse them — if nothing else they’re a signal that I don’t mind hooks, after all.

As a GM, I could care less if someone recycles a character. I prefer to fit my world around the characters. This is my own personal style, of course; I don’t mind making a character closely tailored to someone else’s campaign. But if someone hands me a character that’s not tailored for my world, I see that as an indication of what the player wants out of the campaign, and I like trying to provide whatever’s wanted.

One player in my DoSS campaign was leery of writing up his PC’s Disadvantages, on the grounds that it would force me to put those elements into my plots. No! That’s the whole point of Disadvantages as far as I’m concerned: telling the GM what kinds of elements you want to see. But that’s me.

This is a hint as to what I think a GM (or other players) can do to midwife character creation. It’s a matter of listening to the quirks that a player puts into the characters, and building upon them. Kill Puppies For Satan has some very good material on this: during character creation, the GM goes around the room and says, to each player in turn, “OK, how do you know so-and-so?” So-and-so being the previous player’s PC, if I recall correctly. I think that’s great advice, and I think it could be adapted and made deeper. Perhaps having the players fill out a PC relationship map, in the strict Edwards style — only relatives and lovers get connections?

Monday Mashup #29: Hard Boiled

One tough cop. One tough killer. Ten thousand mashups.

Hard Boiled.

Gotta be one of the best action movies of all time. Tequila is the cop who accidentally killed an undercover cop and is wracked with guilt. Tony is another undercover cop who is torn between honor and duty. They team up to take down a gunrunner. Action sequences of rare and surpassing excitement, many of them set in a hospital, ensue.

Before I get into my concoction, a free offer (sounds better than a request): if you have subjects you’d like to see mashed up, by all means email me or post ‘em here. My choices are always shaped by my preferences and prejudices, which hardly seems fair. Confound and delight me.

Weird bar

Wednesday Weird #3 asks us to weirdify the classic bar scenario. It’s 6 AM and I’ve been up since like 4 AM, so I think I’m good to go on this one.

OK, so there’s a bar. I guess it’s a fantasy world, but it doesn’t really matter that much. Maybe it’s Shadowrun. It’s better if there’s not a lot of magical healing, though. The point is, there’s this bar, and you can’t die as long as you’re inside it. You also can’t get any better. It’s like you’re stuck at whatever age you were or with whatever wounds you had when you walked in.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of room.

So you have the regulars, and they’re really regular. Never leave the place. There’s the guy who took down an Emperor, and in the city outside there’s an entire clan of assassins that’s spent five hundred years waiting for him to come out. There’s the old adventurer who’s seen it all and knows a little bit about everything; good source of info if you can get to him when he’s not drunk. There’s a god with no worshippers. (Some people say he made the bar in the first place, to save himself from oblivion.) There’s the bartender, who is missing the lower half of his body, but he’s always cheerful anyhow. There are horrible injuries. There’s a gloomy albino with a big black sword which constantly begs its master to leave.

People like to have duels right outside, just in case. For a while, there was a guy who built a wall around the bar and charged admission. He got rich and moved to another city.

There’s a cult that worships the bar. Fat lot of good that does the forgotten god, though.

Hail Britannia

I take no responsibility for the following list of eight names, other than that they’re in a notebook I own. His fault.

  • Jack Dandy
  • Man of Steam
  • The Gurkha
  • Ironclad
  • The Boffin

    • Bright Young Lad, his robotic sidekick/assistant

  • Bulldog Jill
  • Diamond Jubilee

Monday Mashup #28: The Waste Land

Today, being a holiday, did not feel much like a Monday. Ooops.

Anyhow, I’m going to steal a mashup from Jere today. He says he’s seen a lot of campaigns that draw from T.S. Eliot’s "The Waste Land." I’ve never been lucky enough for that, although I did once play a paladin who drew religious inspiration from an old battered copy of Selected Poems. (Eric Hargan’s Catholicworld campaign. Eric is now writing policy studies for the Federalist Society, among other lawyerly pursuits.)

But I risk digressing into the treacherous political waters so evident in my previous post. Ladies and gentlemen, it is not yet April; it is not yet the cruellest month. Still, we may still breed lilacs before their time is come.

Charmed, I'm sure

The second Wednesday Weird invokes the Charm Other spell:

This spell shows up in several roleplaying games by many different names. Leaving the target charmed by the spellcaster, it can turn an enemy into a friend. Generally, the target will be susceptible to suggestion by the caster and will completely believe anything the caster says.

This effect is not restrained to the fantasy genre. A telepath might gain the same effect through mental powers and one of the most famous examples of this “spell” was in a certain film by George Lucas. “These are not the droids you are looking for.”

Now your job: How does this spell get weird?

This wouldn’t work in the straight D&D sense, but…

The Livid Dragon is a little tavern along one of the main trade routes in the region: gets a lot of merchants, a fair number of adventurers, plenty of problems but plenty of fun. And it’s very profitable for the owner.

It’s also where you spilled a Charm Person potion a couple of weeks ago. An honest mistake on your part; you were going to slip it into that suspected assassin’s drink, but someone bumped your elbow and you wound up wasting the thing. No great loss, since they aren’t that expensive.

Ever since then, your luck has been astounding — in the Livid Dragon. Nowhere else. In the Livid Dragon, there’s always a serving boy when you need one. You generally draw the card you need when you’re playing poker. You’re pretty sure you’re more charming there, judging by the number of people who make amorous advances. The owner forgets to charge you for dinner more often than not.

This wouldn’t be so bad, except that other taverns are getting jealous, and the good fortune you get in the Livid Dragon is balanced by bad fortune everywhere else.