Don’t Play Video Games

The title of this might sound weird for this blog, especially given as how I have talked about video games in some of the most recent posts. However, I was re-reading “Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads” which is the writers from R. Talsorian Games giving advice to the players on ways to run better games. This was one of the articles under their Dirty Tricks for using on players and it got me thinking about how it basically says a lot of what I felt like saying and very succinctly, and its title was ‘Don’t Play Video Games’. (more…)

Character, I Do Not Choose You

In “By Your Powers Combined….”, I talked about the idea of how in a JRPG game the player plays as a party of heroes, and each of these characters are unique entities and the story is all about how these people came together to achieve a goal, while in a Western RPG it is a tale of ‘The One’ hero who is out to save the world. Elder Scrolls, The Witcher, and so forth borrow from the idea of there being ‘The One’, one special person selected to make things right. But here’s a thought…. What happens when The One isn’t you?

You see it in movies a lot, where you have a viewpoint character and then there’s the real protagonist. The key is that the protagonist is the one who the story revolves around and usually is changed by the experience, and sometimes you don’t get to see that right away. Star Wars prequels didn’t introduce Anakin Skywalker until about halfway through the first film, and the prequels and the original trilogy could be said to be about the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, in his quest to bring balance to the Force.


The Power Of One

To the tune of The Power of Love – by Huey Lewis

The power of one is a curious thing
Make a one man weep, make another man sing
Polymorphed to a little white dove
More than a failure that’s the power of one.

Tougher than diamonds, make you scream
Screw you harder than a teenager’s dream
Make a bad one good make a wrong one right
Power of one that makes you lose the fight

Chorus 1:
It’s just not funny, more quite lame
Don’t need know the odds to play this game
It’s strong and it’s sudden and it’s cruel sometimes
And it might just take your life
That’s the power of one
That’s the power of one

First time you feel it, it might make you sad
Next time you feel it it might make you mad
But you’ll be glad baby when you’ve found
That’s the power makes the world go’round

Chorus 2:
And It’s just not funny, more quite lame
Don’t need no math degree to play this game
It’s strong and it’s sudden it can be cruel sometimes
And it might just take your life

They say that all the dice are fair
Yeah, but you don’t care
But you know what to do
When it gets rolled by you
Ask for a little help from above
You feel the power of one
You feel the power of one

Can you feel it?


Chorus 3:
It’s just not funny, more quite lame
Don’t tell me the odds to play this game
Tougher than diamonds and you can’t appeal
You won’t feel nothin’ till you feel
You feel the power, just the power of one
That’s the power, that’s the power of one
You feel the power of one
You feel the power of one
Feel the power of one

Hard Facts About Soft-RP

I talk a lot about improv in some of my blog posts. The reason is because roleplaying is as much, if not more, an improv than it is a story writing. Still, so many people fall into the trap that they want to tell interesting stories, and they feel when they write stories that don’t seem to go anywhere they are failing. Just look at this writer’s advice blog entry as an example, as these could be reasons that people could do an RP scene in a game.

I do play in persistent worlds, worlds that have people from all around the globe on so there could be a story told at 2AM or 8PM or whatever, so you could find people interested in a scene but not interested in a full adventure. This is a godsend for those who like to get into their characters and react to scenes, as you can find scenes you can play from time. You’ll need to study some improv, especially the scene building bits like this, and they should help give you some ideas. The book Play Unsafe is a book about how to incorporate improv into the roleplaying game.


Let There Be Cakes

There is a picture about the internet I like to compare to when people complain about their ability to GM not being good enough:


I love it so much because people will ALWAYS find a reason to put themselves down when it comes to GMing or any ability, even if they’re good. There are some horrible GMs as any Internet search will be full of stories, and Knights of the Dinner Table magazine had occasionally featured stories where a character tried their hand at running a session and mostly it turned out humerously due to either player issues (the group was known to be hack n’ slash over RP) or GM ineptitude (such as not fully prepared, stealing plots direct from TV).

So, how come I joke about those examples but still try to get unprepared people in? Well, this attitude is because those comics were intended to be humorous, while in real life most people want a GM so they will work with you over rough patches. You just need to be willing to do the work.

On one place I used to play online would have 20 to 30 people on (unique players, no alts) and be asking “So, who is doing anything now” instead of offering a scene or plot or anything. That attitude can quickly make someone who runs plots bitter, because sure you get to GM but you don’t get to tell your character’s story. So, while I could rack up the experience gained being the GM and my character could  advance, I didn’t feel like my character had really done anything to warrant advance and I wasn’t being challenged so I didn’t see a need to advance yet.

I learned to GM in tabletop as a school kid, probably started in junior high, mostly because no one else wanted to do it. so, I would pick up skills on the fly, since this was back before the game really got the public attention it has today. Today, there is a glut of websites and Youtube channels and GM help books that will tell you how to do things. The problem with a lot of the information is that it can contradict other information or it can be stuff that is too general like ‘Learn to Improvise’. So, you can filter information that works for you and the rest, you can ignore because the idea of the game is to have fun and if something is making you not have fun, then avoid it.

So, to takeaway from this, the only way to get better at Gamemastering is to do it. Don’t be afraid to take some time behind the gaming screen, and if you stumble and fall the first few times just get yourself back up again. There is no specific criteria to be a Gamemaster other than the desire to be one and the will to put in the work, since you’ll need to prepare things and then learn to do off the cuff when the players decide to try something different.

Mashup Background

In the style of trying new things and being creative, I once tried to submit a background for a character on a RPG written purely as song lyrics. The lyrics were cut from a number of different songs to tell a story, and I figure it might be good to post them here and get people’s opinions. The character was a street level gang member, which should be evident from the lyrics.

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my life and realize there’s not much left
coz I’ve been blastin and laughin so long, that
even my mama thinks that my mind is gone…


Grotesque Encounter Design

I discovered a definition today that had really got me thinking. To take from Wikipedia;

In chess, a grotesque is a problem or endgame study which features a particularly unlikely initial position, especially one in which White fights with a very small force against a much larger black army. Grotesques are generally intended to be humorous.


Story Surgery Part 1

Stories thrive on specifics, the key elements that make this plot work and interest the audience. Look at Romeo and Juliet, that is a story of two lovers being kept apart by circumstances. That is Romeo and Juliet’s core, but it is also the core of West Side Story and many other stories ranging from Romantic Comedies to Tragedy to Action Thrillers. All that changes is the combination of the elements you use to make up your story.

Quoth the Secret, Evermore

Secret of Evermore was an RPG focusing on the American market specifically, as opposed to something designed in Japan and ported over. It was full of fictitious movie references due to the worry of licensing, but you could usually compare to some real movie and was a reference to the American connection to their media.

The story itself was about four people who were teleported to a created world of Evermore thirty years ago, and each created their own utopia inside based on their interests; Jurrassic dinos, Ancient Greece and Middle Ages before getting to what is essentialy ‘The Future’. However, the system running things decided to mess with things, sending monsters into the eras and essentially trapping the people there.