Thursday, December 31, 2009

State of the Game 2009

Fellow gamers, let us review the State of the Game here at These Dice Look Funny.

Actual (or Virtual) Dice Rolling:
In 2009, I ran only two games - a solo session for a couple friends in early January, and three games in the Necropolis universe for coworkers during the summer. I played in a Dungeons and Dragons game over webcam, and am currently involved in a PBP Gamma World game on Google Wave. Friends, this is a woeful state to be in - this hobby cannot exist in a vacuum. I need to play more shit, dammit.

Professional Writing:
In 2009, I wrote one full length adventure (currently in editing) and was contracted for a splatbook with adventure included, currently sitting around 12 pages (approximately 1/3 done). I also wrote two one-shot adventures. I gladly celebrate these opportunities - they mean my hobby is finally paying off, and I find the actual writing is a wonderful leisure activity.

Amateur Writing:
Short of a few new ideas (the Metagame) and some articles on this site, 2009 was not a good year for my non-professional writing. I chalk this up to the pressures of school and my rising stardom* in the professional world.

Computer Gaming:
With my machine a few years behind the times, most of the really captivating games are sadly denied me - my greatest feeling of loss is reserved for Dragon Age: Origins. I have, however, recently gotten into Half Life 2 (finally) which I am glad to say has withstood the test of time. I also got more involved with roguelikes, my new favorite being Triangle Wizard.

2009 was also a sad year for reading. I did not get the chance to read many books this year. I did read The World According To Garp and liked it very much.

Closing Thoughts:
I am happy to have had a chance to develop some professional cred this year and look forward to all the fortune and glory that entails. Though I wish dearly I could have done a lot more gaming, I'm happy for any opportunity at all, so I welcome Google Wave and its ability to bring people together.

In 2010, I should like to develop any one of my Five Good Ideas (Clock and Dagger, Eight Kingdoms, Zombies from Dimension X, Rig, and Bullets and Brimstone) at length. If nothing else, it would be a good year to move them from the "notebook" stage to the "actually written down in a Word document" stage.

Keep the dice rolling!

*I would not actually call myself a rising star...yet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

side note

Found an interesting and well-researched article about the history of role-playing, available here. Eventually, I'd like to write a book on the subject if I can.

Sanity in the Metagame: Finally, some crunch

I've long been considering how Sanity is handled in the Metagame universe (or "Eight Kingdoms," as I'm starting to call it).

SURELY if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back at you, right?

Right, but...haven't we seen that before? A few times? Call of Cthulhu and the World of Darkness are focused very much on retaining your sanity/sense of self/humanity in a fight against the darkness. Rippers and Tour of Darkness (two Savage Worlds settings) both tried to incorporate a sanity element into the game, neither one being successful in my opinion.

I considered for a while that perhaps channeling too much of your character would lead to them wandering around the steam tunnels under their college. Then I thought no, let's allow them to "cash in" sanity to channel, but then I realized that's just trading out Sanity for Power Points. Then I said, how about every time they gain an ability, they go a little crazier.

Finally, I said no. The game is not about a fight with sanity, really. The sanest thing to do in the Metagame is to accept the fight against the monsters. The darkness is real; the characters have a chance to do something about it; the crazy thing would be to deny all of it.

Sanity mechanics will come into play through the Fear table, which I am considering modifying, and through a checklist the GM will follow. I will probably also make the NPC Reaction Table more granular. RIght now, let's say that every item on the checklist subtracts 1 from encounter table results - which is not the same as Charisma. Finally, I will say that levels of Fatigue also subtract from NPC reactions.

Let's say your coworker Howard is a gamer. At work, you swap a couple stories about tabletop experiences, you crack the same Evil Dead jokes, and you have made a couple efforts to set Howard up with a boyfriend (NPC reaction: 10 on the table, so just this side of Friendly).
One day, you pass by Howard's cubicle and notice he's surfing eBay for firearms (GM checklist: The PC purchases a gun, so we're at 9). No biggie; in fact, you tell him that your uncle has a Smith and Wesson that needs a good home.
A month later, Howard hasn't been sleeping too well (Checklist: the PC gains a level of Fatigue from his "hobby," so now we're at 8. The Fatigue itself also subtracts one, and we'll assume Howard fails his Vigor rolls a lot to resist exhaustion - down to 7 on the table). You offer to cover for him so he can go take a nap, but you're a little annoyed that you feel you should do that.
A week after that, you tell Howard you met a guy at the game store that you think would be perfect for him. Howard tells you to go fuck yourself (No checklist entry, but the GM decides Howard's not keeping his friends these days - another -1 to the Reactions, so down to 6).
Three weeks later, Howard is putting an Ace bandage and gauze on his leg at work (GM checklist: Obvious injury, 5 on Reactions). You are getting weirded out by this guy.
Finally, one day you arrive late to work and pass by Howard's car. One window is smashed, it looks like someone keyed the hell out of one side, and you see what is obviously a pair of shotgun shells on the seat (Checklist: Signs of conflict or struggle, -1 to reactions, we're at 4 now).

Now, the thing is, that coworker NPC represents the entire workplace. With an Unfriendly result on the NPC reaction table, Howard is going to find his job in jeopardy. Howard is still completely sane (if stressed), but people look at him askance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Metagame thoughts

This is a continuation of the thought process that began with this post.

I thought of a framework to assemble PCs for Eight Kingdoms/The Metagame - a support group for gamers who have trouble determining the difference between what is real and fantastic. Except when they get there, the head of the support group tells them it's all real. As proof, he shows them the entrance to a goblin warren and says it's their responsibility to clear it out.

The man who runs the support group, who I'm calling Gary, acts as a mentor and contact for the group of PCs. I'd further thought about providing a questionnaire for people to fill out, assessing their condition and rounding out their characters a bit more.

Additional thoughts:
I'd love to publish this someday, of course, and Google Wave won't be required to play. It did inspire me a little.

There are eight character classes in the Eight Kingdoms, and each class represents the general outlook and history of a particular kingdom. The ruler of each kingdom is at the pinnacle of their character class progression - and yes, people in the Kingdoms themselves can comprehend things like one's level, hit points, and character stats.

The eight classes are:
Warrior - your barbarian, fighter, knight, and samurai classes are all Warriors. Warriors are a "tank" class.
Guardian - druids, paladins, rangers, and the like are all Guardians. Anyone who dedicates themselves to defending and advancing a cause or ideal is a Guardian. Guardians are a "pet" class with "tank" trappings.
Spellweaver - wizards, sorcerers, blood mages: anyone who uses arcane magic is a Spellweaver.
Blessed - Monks and clerics both count as Blessed...and so does the village shaman, the medicine woman, and the combat medic. Blessed dedicate their lives to a cause as Guardians do, but while a Guardian advances their cause through combat, the Blessed strive to lead by example.
Diplomat - advisors, tacticians, bards, and warlords are all considered Diplomats. They have command abilities and impressive knowledge about the world.
Artisan - Smiths, craftsmen, and Weird Science tinkerers are all Artisans. Within their world, Artisans are at the top of their craft. Within ours, they have the power to create magical devices, or to conjure useful tools from nowhere.
Conjurer - The pure "pet" class of EK, Conjurers are your necromancers, summoners, warlocks, and witches. They have access to magics taught them by their pets, and they can call creatures not of this world. Despite the dark trappings, conjuring is not evil in and of itself, but it is sometimes put to evil use. Then again, so are swords, spells, and words.
Shadow - Moving silently through the night, leaping amongst city towers, or concealing themselves amongst trees, Shadows are the thieves, rogues, assassins, and scouts of an EK group.

Like all things SW, it's all about trappings.

There are no playable races besides Human in the Eight Kingdoms, though I have it in mind that the backstory of the EK involves the misadventures of elves, dwarves, halflings, et al.

...and that's all he wrote? I have trouble ending blog posts.