Thursday, 12 September 2013

RPG Thinking

Ok, so there are many types of gaming that are all enthusiastically trying to take over my brain and that has got to be a good thing. Whether it be one of the myriad of computer game experience types which are vying for my affections - most notably at the moment Guild Wars 2, SimCity and maybe Civilization V. There are a mighty suite of tabletop boardgames that are doing a super job of bringing friends together. Whether they are large sweeping narrative epics like Arkham Horror, party-like in the vain of King of Tokyo and everything in between there is lots of fun to be had.

SIDE NOTE: 3 player game of Red November last night saw our little sub falling apart in the last few minutes before the rescue team arrived. While we had survived many near misses that could have destroyed the ship outright, the main threat seemed to be our continuing plunge into the murky depths. There were pipes and rubble blocking almost all the hatches as our hull creaked from the pressure. Two Gnomes were dispatched to the engine room yet again to try and stop the descent, lets just say the engines were no better for them staring at them blankly. The last Gnome was sitting holed up in near the front of the sub as the rescue crew arrived, they knocked loudly hoping we still lived, but right then the hull buckled, crushing rooms, corridors and machines - and slaying the last survivors at the very last moment...
(yep, drew an increase pressure track by 2 card as the last card in the game to slay us all!)

Anyhow, while there are a range of games that are exploring the space between the normal boardgame and a tabletop roleplaying game (Descent 2E or Mice and Mystics) I am keen to go the whole hog and try out this highly creative medium. I played and GM'd many moons ago and have very fond memories of those times. I played a few sessions of Dungeon World and while I didn't fully get this new style of game I am really keen to explore it further.

There are a few places this might lead. First off joining in a game of 13th Age as a player, let loose the mighty Tentacle Dwarf ready for the fight with hammer and shield. This group are very experienced RPGers and since they are DnD 4E veterans they can help me get up to speed with the 13A logics, though the Fighter in our playtest was simple enough.

Secondly there is a little swarm of interested people around here who are either like me who had played in the past and are looking at another go, or they are intrigued and willing to try this roleplaying thing. Game-wise I have two options I am toying with to run (is it possible to run two??). The first is Star Wars: Edge of the Empire which I have (plus lots of the cool dice and a box of miniatures) and then Dungeon World. Both look super fun and I am hoping I can run them in a largely collaborative storytelling fashion - as in minimal prep from me apart from glorious hosting.

Really, little or no prep? Yes, that is my goal, and both games come with some mechanics to make that possible whether it is the very logic of DW's question asking or the SWEotE obligations. On top of that the games I would like to run would encourage creativity from the players. Not just in the description of their actions, but in the details that flesh out the world or galaxy. Where did this new Merchant come from, why are they offering such a high price and why are the other merchants slowly pulling back out of the room...
Choosing between these two at present I love the collaboratively unfolding tale logic of Dungeon World and the artifacts (including narrative dice) of Star Wars. There is a strange disembodied voice coming from my left shoulder saying "try both, try both, try both" shhhhh. Gah!

Lets just sign off this rambling post with the latest Acquisitions Incorporated videos from PAX 2013 which is using DnD Next (also a somewhat tempting system). Note these vids probably should come with some sort of content warning, apart from that they are fun examples of mechanical roleplay and also players embellishing the drama through a willing GM (love the bard!).



I think it is worth mentioning how well the strong and stereotyped characters work in the context of a 'party' like this. The drama that flows from the contrast between warriors, clerics and casters, dwarves and elves, brutal, sneaky and charming. Having a strong decisive character can help everyone understand who they are and that they are different to the rest of the party in how they live through the game world.

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I should sneak in a comment at the end here that when trying to get to sleep ideas for campaign worlds keep pouring into my brain. Whether there is a large research corporation thrown into disarray where factions from everywhere are closing in to claim their piece of the fractured and all too secretive research facilities. Or is the famed Thousand Hands Inn which lines its walls with the severed hands of enemies claimed from far and wide, their mark of safety yet a red flag to evil if they wish to take this small corner of the land.

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