Friday, March 30, 2012

How is this game different from all other games?

I recently submitted an invitation for an RPG I want to run to a group of people. It's part of the process of game management my co-author and I are developing. In this case, the game serves as a test not of a system, but of how to start and run a role-playing game. Response has been slow, for a few reasons, and my co-... John, okay? Let's call him John. I'm writing this book with a friend named John; that's so much easier to type and less awkward to work into a sentence.

So, John and I have been engaged in an ongoing discussion about what might be going on here. The individual reasons aren't important to this post. What is important is that role-playing games aren't like many other games, and it requires things from the participants that are sometimes overlooked. As my group moves through the initiating phase of this game, some of these requirements are coming into focus, and I'll be putting them up in posts as they do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's This Game Management Thing?

If you've been playing RPGs for any length of time at all, you've already read some advice on game mastering. Just about every role-playing core book has a section on it. Maybe it's just how to GM that particular game and work its quirks, maybe it's a whole treatise on game mastering in general. There's no shortage of material out there on how to be a game master. Some of it's okay, some of it is excellent. So why write another book on the subject?

I'm not. Game mastering is a well tread ground and it's a rare text these days that says something other than the same old tired, worn out common wisdom. The gaming community doesn't need more of that.

What I'm writing about is game management. This project isn't going to include anything about typing your players, creating decision trees or illusions of choice, how to make memorable NPCs or any of that. That's game mastering.

So what's game management? The basic premise is that if you treat the hobby a little more like work, you ramp up the fun quotient dramatically by sidestepping a host of common issues that routinely crop up because of the miscommunication and ambiguity that a traditional "let's just game" approach causes. From dealing with characters that don't fit your game to managing conflict at the table, game management shows how if you treat your campaign like a project and put yourself in the role of project manager, you can run a game much more likely to end because you want it to, not because a handful of players decide they can't deal with each other anymore and quit in a huff after swearing they won't talk to each other anymore.

More later. Though in the meantime, I welcome you to leave your gaming horror stories/sticking points in the comments section of this and subsequent posts.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vacation's Over

Hi everybody. It's been a while. It's been one hell of a time, filled with some really bad, but necessary stuff, and while that was going on I let this project of mine fall away.

But that's over with now, and I'm back, and I'm working on a new project. Playtesting is still an obstacle for the moment, so you won't see a whole lot of new mechanical development here for a while. Instead, I'm working on a new idea for how to run a table and manage a game. It draws on the ideas of project management (gotta use the new Masters degree for something, right?), and you might be surprised to find there's not much of a stretch in equating the two.

More to come as the ideas develop more fully.

Oh yeah, and the post schedule. Um... there isn't one. I'll put stuff up when I have something (though not more than once a day, just to spread it out a little), but there's no calendar of events right now. I'm just getting back into this, so it'll happen whenever the muse rattles my dice.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Game Findings: Mage (First Level)

The gang got together to make characters for the new Mage campaign starting up. We've not played yet, but we've got our group together. There was a lot of confusion and vagarity in discussing magick, which is to be expected when you've got a bunch of folks who have never played the game before. It's not mechanically difficult, but the broad philosophy of designing your own paradigm of reality is something of a mind bender when you try it the first time.

Sans actual play though, I'm not going to discuss any of that. Instead, I'm going to focus on the one thing that everyone seemed to agree on, even if they didn't use my exact words: first level sucks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Game Findings: Bad Attitudes

These are sad times for our gaming group. We're losing a core member to corporate relocation, and while we're all glad for him that he gets to move to a city he's always dreamed of living in and gets his moving costs covered, the table will just not be the same without him.

The show will go on, and the next campaign is already in the planning stages (run by someone else other than yours truly; I needed a little time off to deal with other things), but we collectively decided that it would be best not to start until our departing member actually finished packing and left the state. So in the meantime, I've been running some lighthearted, simple stuff. Extreme Vengeance, which I talked about earlier, was one of these forays. Last game, we tested out a different action movie system: Bad Attitudes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What We Play

As you may have guessed from all the writing I do about the games I've run and the games I seek to create, I'm ever on the quest for a better game experience for myself and my players. Now my players are a lot that are largely happy to show up and game, but I'm the sort who sees the "just show up and play" as settling for mediocrity. I want to run the kind of game that has people thinking about it in the time between sessions, that has them showing up early and rearing to go, that truly captivates them. This isn't an ego thing. I'm convinced that when you've got a player base that invested in the game, you're going to get better play, and from that you get a better game experience for everyone.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

HeroScape, bitches. Simple fun for jaded dice monkeys.

C'mon, you're intrigued!
Hi, I'm not Cliff.

I don't write simple, yet, inclusive out-of-the-box rules systems. I don't really run games. I don't strike stoic poses. I do, however, inspire insipid bullshit (A River Runs Through Hell!, Fly Fishing in a Post-Apocalyptic Nightmare) that gets run through the author of this blog to turn out far more palpable things like Another Day...although I assure you, I will author a splat book detailing proper fly usage after nuclear armageddon).

I also play his games, and I fuck them up. I take pride in fucking his shit up. The most amazing thing is he keeps asking me back. I don't know why. I also don't know why he asked me to do this, although I suspect it was because he usurped my GammaWorld 3E game so we could get back to his shit. This is the price I pay for loving the man.

No homo.

So, what this nonsense all about? I'm here to treat you to an overlooked nugget of Hasbro fun,  HeroScape. What's HeroScape, I hear you gnarled indie gamers ask... Its stupid fun, and as per most things touched by the hand of WoTC, its been cancelled. Well, ish. Cancelled-ish. But, we'll come back to that. First, let's make with the magic...