Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: If It Ain't Broke, You're Not Tryin'

Thanks Red.  Keep it comin'.
Amid the ruckus that comes with having 4 grandchildren in the house I take that short walk into 2014.  On the whole it was a decent year, with some gaming, DVD buying and Not Enough Convention Attendance.  Oh well.

The podcasts are rollin' along.  Save or Die got another host to fill the empty seat that was Vince.  Jim Wampler, author/artist of Marvin the Mage and All Around Swell Guy have joined Mike, Liz and myself on the mic.  In addition, Jim is also hosting a new podcast focusing on Dungeon Crawl 
Classics (not my favorite game, but very popular) called Spellburn.  Give a listen, it's pretty good.

Did some acting here at the end of '13, playing Scrooge in Jewel Box' version of A Christmas Carol.  With a fine script, great cast and masterful direction, I didn't want it to end.  Surely one of my favorite productions.

On the gaming front, we finished up our Basic/RC campaign and Matt decided to switch to Labyrinth Lord (with some stuff from the Advanced Edition Companion).  We're having a great time with it, as we try to clean out Dyson's Delve.  Lotsa luck with that.

I also managed to get in a bit of Tunnels and Trolls gaming in plus a raucous session of Ghostbusters (also managed to trade for a copy of T&T 7.5 - still waiting patiently for the release of Deluxe T&T).  I continue to be fascinated by the flexibility that is T&T (although I need to work on house-ruing it to allow for more player agency).

Got a lot to look forward to this coming year - NTRPG Con, more gaming, the usual.  As for resolutions, I'm inclined to just say that I resolve to Make It To This Time Next Year.  Some years are like that.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I've Been Chuckin' On The Railroad

Crazy train?
I've been hip-deep in the OSR for quite a while now and it has colored my thinking somewhat.  Actually, I like to think of it more as opening my mind to concepts I should have gotten long ago.  Things like simpler is better, the DM/GM can make stuff up, players should try stuff even if they don't have a skill for it, etc.

One of the most prevalent concepts is the Railroad, which is looked down upon as a Bad Thing.  The Sign of a Bad/Weak GM.  For the most part I agree with that but I am of the opinion that it needs to happen occasionally.  Lemme 'splain:

The DM writes up a plotline (or several).  His players show up and they all start playing.  Let's say the DM has Plot A, B and C.  The players (assuming they won't choose the non-existent Plot D) don't know what to do.  The DM gives them suggestions, so finally they choose, say, Plot B.  Okay, they took it, they're in the plot.  Now, they are perfectly within their rights to do whatever they want in the plot (even back out of it).  BUT, the Plot Will Move On Without Them.  This is a living world.  It rotates and folks do what they're gonna do.

Now some players are going to cry "Hey!  The caliph says he's going to cut off our heads if we don't kill the monster/we can't get out of the garden until we defeat the Big Bad/etc.  You're trying to railroad us into where you want to go or what to do!"

No, I'm not.  You're in the plot.  Don't go kill the monster.  It's up to you.  I'm not putting a knife in your character's back and telling him to go fight it.  But, like I said, it's a living world and actions have consequences.  Like in life, you made a choice, you deal with the fallout.  Also like in life, sometimes the choices suck but you pick one and keep going.

Anyway, that's how I feel about railroading.  I never like to do it, but sometimes you have to give the PCs a nudge.  JUST a nudge.

I started thinking about this because I recently got a copy of a game I had long ago - the Dream Park RPG, based on the Nivens/Barnes stories, produced by R. Talsorian Games.  It's always been one of my favorites, even though I only played it once.  The reason being, it taught me how to write RPG adventures.  
In the back of the book they have a section where it shows how to write sessions in Beats.  The Hook, alternate with Cliffhangers and Developments, lead up to the Climax and Resolution.  Simple.  "I can do this!", I thought.  And I did.

However, now looking back after all these years, I'm wondering; is it a railroad?  I look at the sample beat chart and think "sure looks like you're leading them by the nose, doesn't it?"

After some thought, I came to the conclusion that my desire to give the PCs free will still applies.  The mere nature of the game (they play players who are players in a VR adventure) assumes they're gonna go with the plot.  What they do once they get in it is their decision, for good or ill.  I then realized it's always been that way.

So once again, the Principle of Fun wins out.  Why else would we play?

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Mutants and Microphones

Here's a blast from my pesky past.  Made these when I was hip-deep in playing Mutants and Masterminds 2E and worked at KOKC.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Lower Deck

Seen better heads on a glass of beer...
Newest project for me: Character Trading Cards.  Quick and dirty portraits for the DM to whip out to show the players what exactly that NPC they're talking to or monster they're fighting looks like.  I made these blanks about a year ago and promptly forgot about them.  Now that I'm making an honest efftort to do more art, these'll come in handy.  I take a few with me to places to doodle on and when I finish one I toss it in an empty shoebox next to my desk.  I'd like to fill that shoebox before the next con, but I don't know, it's pretty big...

This kills a lot of birds with one pen.  It keeps me focused on the art and I can hand 'em out at conventions, game stores, etc.  My mini-goal within this lil' project is to draw more women.  I'm notoriously bad at depicting the softer gender because males lend themselves so much better to grotesquery (and me being a fan of cartoons has always appealed to me).

So if you see me and I have any on me, just ask and I can toss ya a few...