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Tag: game wish

WISH 99: Genreriffic

Impending WISH deficit! But this week:

Pick three to five genres and name the best RPG for that genre. Why do you think it’s the best? What makes it better than others? What are its downsides?

Pulp: Adventure! This is a very close race, because Feng Shui has better core mechanics which are better suited to the genre. Feng Shui really gets damage and fighting and stunts right, which is important for a pulp game… but it’s an action movie game rather than a pulp game, and while the genres are similar they aren’t the same. So the detailed and comprehensive power list brings Adventure! ahead by a hair.

Action Movies: Feng Shui. That’s a freebie. Feng Shui is a really significant milestone for genre-specific rules and it’s aged (and evolved) well.

TV Adventure: Unisystem Lite, as presented in Buffy and Angel. I was watching some Alias last night and marvelling at how well Unisystem Lite would work for a campaign in that setting. You could use it for Xena. The key is a) how quickly play flows — quickly enough to make play-by-IRC viable for me, and I don’t usually like play-by-IRC — and b) the clever use of Drama Points to channel themes. It is amazing how much better Unisystem became when all the excess crap was carved away.

Conspiracy: Over the Edge. Ginger said best RPG, not best rules! Over the Edge is mostly setting, with a nice minimalistic functional set of mechanics. At first glance it’s not obvious how the mechanics support the wild surrealistic genre, but I think the pioneering lack of a skill list is absolutely perfect for the world of Al Amarja; it makes it clear how open the setting really is. And the GMing advice is superb.

WISH 98: Neophile

The antepentultimate WISH asks:

What are three games or settings that you’ve bought or seen recently (in stores or previews) that you’d really like to try? What interests you about them and why?

Nocturnals from Green Ronin; I like the unique genre niche carved out by the creepy heros, and the sourcebook gives me so many details to play with. Just — cool. Pacific Northwest-feeling monsterpunk.

Dogs in the Vineyard, because I dig the clerical harshness of it all. I’ve played a lot of clerics and I usually enjoy it even though I never do it by choice. Religion in gaming fascinates me.

Hm, and I kind of want to play something really heroic — doesn’t have to be superheroes, could be heroic fantasy or heroic transhuman or whatever. But there’s nothing out there that’s grabbing me. HeroQuest, but that’s not a new release. Charnel Gods (which Rob will be running soon), but that’s not a new release either. Big heroes. Larger than life heroes. Maybe Fireborn? FFG is doing such good setting work these days.

Oh, speaking of which, honorable mention to the Horizon series. Grimm and Spellslinger whet my appetite for gaming something fierce.

WISH 93: Incoming!

I can answer these in any order I want! And I want to do WISH 93 right now.

Does joining a game with a lot of background thrill or intimidate you? What do you do to try to learn the background, or to compensate for not having it? If you GM, how do you help newcomers to a background-heavy game? What has worked for you as a player/GM, and what hasn’t?

I kind of like it as an opportunity to play supporting character. I always feel a bit of pressure, when starting a new game, to help establish group dynamics and character. As a newbie to a big game, I can play a supporting role and feel satisfied — I can be there to support someone else’s characterization happily. That’s a lot of fun for me.

It’s also convenient as a method of getting real newbie characterization. The other PCs know things which mine do not, which means I can play wide-eyed or naive effectively. “Look, there can’t possibly be UFOs.” That sort of thing. It’s a dynamic that’s hard to get in a new campaign because everyone’s on equal ground.

I guess in general I’m saying that it’s fun to leverage unequal OOC ground to provide good unequal ground roleplaying in character.

WISH burn

WISH #92 asks:

Have you ever gotten burned out as a gamer? What did you do to combat burnout? Which things you tried helped, and which ones didn’t? Which ones would you recommend to a gamer with burnout?

I actually feel a little burned out right now — not a lot, but a bit — so good timing. Hm.

I think that burnout is a life phenomenon for me, not a gaming-specific phenomenon. My work is keeping me too busy to think about gaming as much as I’d like, and there’re a bunch of other things swirling around, and I have trouble working up the enthusiasm to generate characters or think about GMing or anything. Which saddens me. (Yes, this is a typical symptom of depression; yes, I know.)

Mostly I just nudge myself to press on regardless. I don’t skip gaming even if I want to. I grind out character descriptions no matter how I feel about them, because I know they’re better than I give myself credit for. I read gaming material that’s given me joy in the past. I spent a while this week transcribing NPCs from Classic Organizations into Hero Designer, just to get myself back in the groove of thinking about HERO. And all that works pretty well.

WISH #90: 2.0

WISH #90 asks:

What do you think about system updates (Paranoia XP, Amber 2.0, DnD 3.0/3.5) and conversions (d20 Silver Age Sentinels, GURPS Traveller)? What about world/setting updates that result in system reboots (the end of the Age of Darkness)? Do you buy them, run them, or use them for resources? Why or why not?

I don’t have a generic answer. I really liked the D&D 3.0 update. I didn’t much care about the D&D 3.5 update. Many of the Traveller updates sucked. The Hero 5th Edition update was great. The Vampire Revised update was quite good, for entirely different reasons. Etc.

I like it when an update is a chance to fix real rules problems or to tighten up the setting. Otherwise I don’t like them. Vampire Revised did a brilliant job at making the setting better without invalidating a lot of old play. Hero Fifth fixed several rules problems and vastly improved the presentation of the rules.

I look forward to World of Darkness 2.0, or whatever it’s officially called, because I think they will do a good rules revamp with the example of the Aeon Trinity system and because I think the new setting may rock. If the new setting doesn’t rock, I will probably not so much care about the rules revamps, though — my interest in WoD is primarily setting-driven.

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?

WISHes for games

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes:

WISH 84 asks:

What five games would you love to run/play if you had a willing group and a weekly time slot?

I’m going to leave out games I’m in or running now, of course (yay, Champions and Buffy), and also games I expect to be able to play in soon — I’m looking at you, Star Wars and Charnel Gods and espionage game! You can also assume that I wish I could go back and play in Carl’s games again. Those disposed of:

  • Over the Edge, preferably with the dark edgy gritty aspects in full swing.
  • Vampire, and stop laughing. I haven’t played enough of this to be burned out on it. I’m thinking straight up Vampire Revised here, without all the various escalation bits. Or maybe the new version, if it resonates with me.
  • Dark Inheritance, which I will never ever get to play, but a guy can dream. I find the D20 Modern system to be fairly elegant and I really like the Dark Inheritance mythos. Also, it’s the best example of modular setting design ever.
  • The Dying Earth, so that I might properly indulge my inner Oscar Wilde.
  • Trinity, the best SF game ever, not that I’m biased or anything. Yeah, I know the political history is a bit wonky but you can fix most of that if you aren’t hampered by the need to shoehorn Aberrant in there.

Nobilis is a very strong runner-up.

Character WISH

This week’s Game WISH asks:

What are your characters’ mottoes, in ten words or less? Quotes and formal mottoes encouraged.

That’s fun! In no particular order:

Paul/Emoticon: For God, France, and humanity.

Reese: It’s all about the roads.

Mr. Wellstone: Fame follows fashion.

Cian: One must always journey to find wisdom.

Stick: Break dimensions, go to jail.

Clarice: Hail Britannia!

Constantine: Friends and family; blood and bone.

Jayson: Fortune follows.

(That last is a bit of a cheat, being my own family motto. But I like it.)