07 #RPGaDay2020 Couple

I am striving to answer each day with a couple of answers, so far so good. J For my general RPG answer I wanted to write about my personal partnership. I got reacquainted with an old college friend, Tracey, at Lorien Trust LARP. We soon began dating, and years later we married. 😀 Over the years we have attended many LARP events together, plus some re-enactment events. Whilst we have played tabletop together, those games are sadly rare, like me, Tracey has many hobbies.

Since we had more time due to the lockdown, we discussed ideas for a tabletop game. Tracey preferred a one-on-one game, using a classic player & GM narrative, but crucially she wanted to draw upon Studio Ghibli. She loved the look of Ryuutama & Golden Sky Stories, and we decided to fuse them with Changeling: the Dreaming. It has been a lot of heart-warming fun, plus we very much appreciated being able to play as a couple. During a few of our walks we have chatted about the game and even role-played scenes.

SFRPG: Couples & Helpful Horde

Street Fighter is quite a quirky setting, drawing tropes from many places, resulting in a world that is both comedic and dark. I have a couple of thoughts on the setting, plus also on couples. 😉 One thing I appreciate about the setting is that any person can become a fighter, regardless of: culture, gender, size, etc. So, I love that the helpless romantic partners trope is easy to subvert in SFRPG.

Firstly, since the core of SFRPG did not include a Merit & Flaw system, why should any person in a PC’s life be helpless? Whilst most of my SFRPG games have been about a team of PCs fighting Shadaloo and other dark forces, a few PCs have had detailed families and/or romantic relationships. Even if an NPC is seemingly an average person, one that has not yet have demonstrated any fighting prowess, and they are about to be captured… then KAPOW!, the thugs are knocked out! The partner could be a: ninja, government agent, an ordinary person with a bit of training, secretly raised by a master, etc. The helpless trope is even subverted in a few movies, with weaker characters surprising the bad guys with some slick move that we saw the character learn earlier in the story.

Secondly regarding Couple and SFRPG, it is not rare for PCs to fight a horde of thugs, but sometimes a film/book has the villages rallying to help a PC, forming a Helpful Horde. In real life a motivated group of people, is quite dangerous even if they have no training, but especially if they throw things or use objects. Also whilst a well-trained person can defeat a group that attacks them one at a time, a group pile on would be a nightmare to deal with; of course SFRPG is not real life, so handle in a way you prefer. Maybe when the PCs are down, captured, etc., the players could even play/guide a Helpful Horde, this way the players don’t feel they are as powerless, that their IC relationships and their PC actions are what has helped to save them. The fanzine Warrior’s Fist 01 and WF11 explored Horde mechanics and ideas; Brazilian versions are here.

The advice about subverting tropes and Helpful Horde applies to other games. Whether citizens in Cyberpunk, a stellar colony, 40k Necromunda, Supes game, Dungeons & Dragons, etc.

Other Peoples’ Answers

Anthony Boyd @Runeslinger choose to explore Strange for day 7

https://castingshadowsblog.com/2020/08/07/rpgaday2020-day-7-strange/

ivanmike1968 on coupling of the ideas: make-believe & gambling

How many dice to use? A couple might be best?

Dancing Lights Press @LightsPress Lovely retconning.

https://dancinglightspress.com/rpgaday2020-couple/

Phil Viverito @philviverito@keksnase3000 Cute story

https://www.theseoldgames.com/2020/08/rpgaday-7-couple.html

Geek-Life Balance @cybogoblin

https://geeklifebalance.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/rpgaday-2020-couple/

Leojenicek @D_and_DHaiku

Kehaar @DissectingWrlds

https://clarkythecruel.wordpress.com/2020/07/07/rpgaday-7-couples/

M&B Liam @_Boganova_

Charles Etheridge-Nunn @charlie_en

https://fakedtales.com/2020/08/07/rpg-a-day-2020-part-seven-couples-roleplaying/

Paco from GMS Magazine @gmsmagazine

SM Hillman @smh_worlds

https://zer0meansyouredead.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/rpg-a-day-2020-couple/

Heather Fey @slapjellyfish

https://ko-fi.com/post/Couple–RPGaDay2020-F1F520YPQ

Shades of Vengeance @Shades_of_Venge

https://www.shadesofvengeance.com/rpgaday2020-day-7-couple/

John M. Kahane @jkahane1

https://jkahane.livejournal.com/2168473.html

Sue Savage @SavageSpiel

https://savagespiel.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday-couple.html

Bryon1187 @bryon1187 with a couple of videos 😉

https://matthewjconstantine.com/2020/08/16/rpg-a-day-2020-week-one/

This is a non-exhaustive list; I still have many posts to read today, so I might be adding more links. I’d recommend searching the hashtag and judge those great answers for yourself: #RPGaDay2020, some people use #RPGaDay.

Warrior’s Fist 12 Street Fighter Translation

I’ve finished translating another issue of Punho do Guerreiro, a Brazilian fanzine for Street Fighter RPG (SFRPG).

The last few issues have had some epic stuff, this issue maintains that level. I’ll start by mentioning the Mud Arena, it may sound straightforward, but this is a lot of mud; dirty and deadly! D&D Alignments is a complex topic, which sends many role-players off on epic rants at its mere mention, why on earth would we want Alignments in SFRPG… oh, this is quite a simple and nice adaption, adds flavour, not restrictions; definitely worth a read 😉

Rules for Traditional and Olympic Karate, sweet. More interesting strategy analysis with the School of Combos part 3. New options for Cyber characters. Rope Boost, what a fabulously simple, yet clever, maneuver, very thematic when tied with this issue’s examination of Professional Wrestling and how it fits into the Street Fighter universe.

All in all, an amazing issue 😀

Issue 12

Minor fixes have been made to prior Issues; here is a link to the folder. The whole folder can be downloaded as a Zip file 🙂

RPG Impact 6

Continuing with RPG Impact. The sixth RPG that had a big impact on me was Call of Cthulhu. When I was first told about the game, I was confused as to what all the fuss was about; although I was still a kid. I’d read horror stories, I’d run horror sessions of D&D and WFRP, well, what I thought was horror; the usual stuff: windy isolated locations, abandoned places, ghosts, spiders. Later I played and ran a lot of Cyberpunk and Vampire; I appreciated tragedy, personal horror, and the beast within that cannot be ignored.

I first played Call of Cthulhu (CoC) at 18 and it had a big impact upon me, because I played it wrong.

I don’t enjoy phrasing it that way, after all we can play RPGs in all manners of ways, but obviously there are ways to play something wrong; granted most of them are childish tantrums. Since the mid-90s, I’ve been open to different play styles. Whilst I still have my preferences, I am willing to play things I’m not keen on, to compromise with a group, etc. All part of growing up. When I play/run a game, I strive to play the genre and intent of the game, appreciating both players’ and characters’ goals. This has served me particularly well at conventions, or games clubs, because playing with strangers is always a big gamble. All of this came about partly because of my first CoC session and a lesson in role-playing.

I was playing a one-on-one session with someone who didn’t particularly like to run games. I had nagged them into running something. I rolled up a character, the Keeper laid out the scenario and of note I had an old character that was very rich. The character had purchased a bargain property, the plan was to renovate and flip it for profit, however, the workforce was refusing to complete the work, so my character went to inspect things. Several odd but low-key incidents occurred; eventually the foreman left, my character was left alone in a strange big house. They couldn’t find anything of note. Another strange and frightening incident occurred, so the character ran out of the house. My character tried to arrange for someone to investigate the house, using their vast wealth. The Keeper got frustrated, said time passed, that no one answered the call. I got frustrated and said that since my character could afford it, they’d write it off as a loss. We hit an impasse, neither of us seeing a way to realign our differences. The Keeper called an end to the game, I didn’t argue, nor did I present a workaround.

We didn’t fall out over the game, but sadly it reinforced my friend’s opinion that running games sucked. That night I relived the game events and came to some conclusions about how we could have played differently, I appreciated that the Keeper had likely become frustrated with me earlier, that I was playing CoC without keeping the genre and game goals in mind; yes I was playing a character, but I was not playing an investigator. At the time I’d mostly been GMing, I wanted to be a player, to explore someone else’s story; a particularly unhelpful approach for a one-on-one. Plus, nagging someone to do something they don’t like was the origin of this whole mess; obvious in hindsight.

Later that week I chatted with several players about why they loved CoC. We discussed the issues of IC and OOC goals, how these sorts of games were not so straightforward regarding the alignment of player and character goals. They also explained more about Chaosium, because despite having a lot RPG experiences, in many different systems, it was a company I had barely looked at.

My friends loaned me copies of Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon 🙂 It changed my opinion from: “Chaosium, maybe I should finally try one of their games.” To “Chaosium, there is something extra special about them.”

Part 7

RPG Impact 5

Continuing with RPG Impact. The fifth RPG that had a big impact on me was Champions / Hero System. In my first Vampire group, one player was obsessed with Champions and arranged to run a game. At that point I hadn’t played any Supes RPGs yet, nor looked at GURPS, so I was delighted to skim through the densely packed Champions rules and contemplate all the possibilities. Character creation was slow but fascinating, different to the simplicity of the games I’d predominately been playing: Cyberpunk & Vampire. I was somewhat reminded of Warhammer’s Realm of Chaos books, the key difference being those powers were random and unbalanced by design.

I made a few characters, then settled on a character inspired by Eldar Harlequin Solitaires. I thoroughly enjoyed the character creation process; I vaguely recall pondering solo RPG ideas, again somewhat inspired by Narrative Wargaming from the Realm of Chaos.

How was the game play? Well, the first session was messy, silly premise, and mostly it was one big team fight. It was fun, even a nice change from the serious sessions I predominately played. Sadly, the game faded away, it was a few years until I returned to the system.

In the mid-90s, I run a short campaign with the group I’d been playing with since high school. It was fun, but the players didn’t quite gel with the system. Roughly they felt that whilst it was fun, it was too much work, and that they could have fun more easily with other games; not helped that 2 players were not keen on Supes genre. We discussed whether they thought things would improve as their system expertise grew. They thought even if they thoroughly read the rules, that they’d still prefer other games. By this stage I had Marvel Super Heroes and D.C. Heroes, plus I had a lot of experience with Palladium games, none of which appealed to them. Instead, we returned to the World of Darkness, primarily Mage and Changeling.

One of regular players loved GURPS, they convinced me to look in to it, using the Hero System as a comparison; awesome, another system I liked yet didn’t do much with for years 😉 Some time passed… I managed a mini-game of Champions using the new Fuzion system; although easier to play, the players gave similar feedback to before. In the 2000s I ran Aberrant a lot, resulting in multiple chronicles, plus some smaller chronicles with other groups, so I eventually got some long-term Supes gameplay 😉

I have met people that played Hero for years. Whilst the system is dense, I’d argue that it is not much denser than various D&D editions. Did I pitch the game in awkward ways? Or was it simply a case of player preferences amidst an option rich field?

For me, Champions/Hero System is ‘the one that got away’.

Part 6

RPG Impact 4

Continuing on with RPG Impact. The fourth RPG that had a big impact on me was Vampire: the Masquerade, then later all the World of Darkness. In early 92 there were only a few VtM books out, so we had to fill in a lot of the blanks. The emphasis on storytelling was not a revelation for most of the people I played with, we’d embraced that aspect of RPGs from playing deadly systems like WFRP and Cyberpunk as kids. What impacted me was the atmosphere, the stronger focus on internal character struggle with their beast within, and the lore, both given and promised.

Rich lore was no stranger to us. At that point I had read enough RPG books, magazines, and novels. I had learned enough bits about the history of RPGs at my local games store and been told stories about Traveller, Paranoia, etc. I’d explored different game settings, delved in to the various D&D lore, visited the planes (pre-Planescape). The same with the scale of the lore for Warhammer and Cyberpunk. I think the key difference is the blending of real life and hidden lore; although, even then I recognised this was a great cliché. I’d read Interview with a Vampire just a few months before playing Vampire, so the setting felt familiar to me. I recall talking to players in other groups about this mix of real and imaginary history, power and monster, of the familiar and the urban myth, everybody was interested.

I’ll borrow from my last blog, the Cyberpunk tagline about Style over Substance, and my claim that it has both Style and Substance. Vampire, the World of Darkness has lots of both.

As much as I loved Vampire, playing/running many games a week, I found the later additions to the World of Darkness to be even better. Since I was buying all the books, I enjoyed adding bits from each game line into another, but I was careful not to swamp the core game being played. I rarely ran games with PCs from different supernatural types (Nightfolk), preferring to keep the focus within each game-line.

Considering how much D&D and Cyberpunk I’ve played/run, it still seems weird to me just how much of an impact the WoD has had on me. I’ve had countless hours of fun; it helped me get a job at a games company. But, over the years I have wondered whether the whole WoD is over-hyped, some people believe so.

  • The debates about power levels.
  • Debates about when to roll.
  • The arguments over Rule 0.
  • Whether pretentious people tarnished the rep?
  • Whether the sheer amount of books produced swamped things?
  • Whether the power creep ruined things?

I typically feel that I also need to acknowledge that the WoD has problems. Like with D&D, Palladium, etc., some become angry at the mere mention of these games. I’ve met a lot of people that hate the WoD, or hate the players they’ve encountered playing the games. I’ve certainly played with a few players who loved playing FangedMurderHobos or SuperFangs, plus encountered some at conventions and a lot more online; whilst not my preference, if the players prefer a silly/crazy/etc., type of game, then I’m all for it.

When the Forge debates over GNS started, I understood why Vampire in particular was in the crosshairs of some, especially regarding it being confusing in its design, or some being annoyed by the writing tone. I’d like to avoid arguments, but decades ago I concluded that the WoD setting being messy is partly because it is myth, plus there are in-game effects confusing things, and the mechanics are supposed to be of a mixed style. The game’s financial and critical popularity somewhat validates my P.o.V., but again I appreciate why many think this is a cop-out, or even nonsense. For those that hate Vampire/WoD, I get it, likewise for those that love Vampire/WoD. I have long since grown tired of these chats, but cannot help but dwell upon them…

Have I been building towards a joke about being an Elder Role-player who is suffering from ennui? An old injured Garou Galliard circling Harano? Somewhat 😉 I hope this response encapsulates a fraction of my passion for this game series, and I’ve not even touched on my love of Werewolf, Changeling or Mage being an order of magnitude more than for Vampire. Mummy, Hunter, and Demon are cool as well 😉

Wraith? Well, even though Mage is my favourite, I think Wraith deserves its own entry.

Part 5

RPG Impact 3

Continuing on with RPG Impact. The third RPG that had a big impact on me was Cyberpunk 2013. I’ve blogged about my early Cyberpunk days previously. As a kid I loved the Cyberpunk setting, the technology lists, discovering the genre books of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, etc., but despite how cool Netrunning was I hated how it disrupted gameplay, and other things about the system bugged me, yet …

Cyberpunk introduced me to the tagline: Style over Substance.

We took that tagline to heart, in part because of the great guidance of my first Cyberpunk Ref Pete. Much more than with Warhammer, the deadliness of Cyberpunk helped my fellow players and I appreciate why character, story, and intentionality mattered. When life was so fragile, why fight? Why argue? Why risk it? Etc. We always had the option of a quick blast via Friday Night Firefight. Instead, we choose to play characters, to explore motivations, to take risks.

Returning to my problem with the mechanics, yes the game has a high chance of a botch, yes the long shopping sessions could be a pain, yet it didn’t stop the fun. We played the game a lot, particularly in 1990, gaming almost every day, a few days 12 hour sessions. We had so many were great sessions. We have returned to the fun, again, and again 🙂

Of course the Cyberpunk tagline is wrong; it has both Style and Substance.

Cyberpunk_Bat_collection

Part 4

RPG Impact 2

Continuing on with RPG Impact. Around the same time I started tabletop RPG I was introduced to wargaming, starting with Warhammer Fantasy and the then brand new 40,000 (September 87). Later an older friend was selling painted Skaven models, which I started using in my D&D games. I think it was 88 when I came across a 2nd hand copy of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP); even 2nd hand, it still cost me more than I earned in a week delivering newspapers.

Whilst the players at my high school RPG club mostly played D&D, I saw other RPGs there, in particular Star Wars (West End Games), Palladium Fantasy, WFRP and later Cyberpunk. WFRP felt different to D&D and Palladium, not just because of the mechanical differences, but the grim rich setting. I was growing bored with the various D&D settings, which felt like a zoo, whilst WFRP lore seemed to be more cohesive, dare I say realistic; of course at that young age, and without the Web, I was not aware of how much stuff had been made for D&D. Also, I guess it was easy for me to get into WFRP due to the wargame and reading White Dwarf. Reading about famous battles and then getting to play our own battles, plus the obvious basis of real life to the ‘Old World’ went someway to giving the WFRP setting a relatable sense of gravitas.

WFRP was my first introduction to Fate Points (FP). Initially they seemed so obvious, but then the question of why other games didn’t have FP resulted in some interesting debates. My young mind needed to learn why genre expectations mattered, what a story promise was, plus how FP affected a game and player decision making. I’m all for taking little bits from different systems, even large-scale fusions, but FP are something I rarely use in games that weren’t designed with them in mind.

Another thing about WFRP was how much fun I had, in particular my Chaos Champions campaign. Two of my old time favourite RPG supplements are the Realm of Chaos books: Slaves to Darkness & The Lost and the Damned. I also learned about Narrative Wargaming from this game, which later helped me appreciate different types of Play-By-Mail.

Part 3

RPG Impact 1

On Facebook I was tagged by Runeslinger of Casting Shadows regarding:

Roleplaying Games which have had an impact on your gaming. Looking back, which ones stand out, changed your perceptions, are just plain fun, or in some other way left their mark on you? Go for 1d8+2 days, sharing thoughts on one game per day.

So many games have had an impact upon me and/or just plain fun 🙂 I rolled an 8, yikes 10 answers, that’s a lot of thinking and writing to commit to; so, was that roll a botch or a critical? I’ve had a busy week, so plenty of time for thinking.

My 1st Impact: D&D / D20

This group of games matter to me for two reasons:

  1. They matter so much to the hobby of RPG.
  2. My first RPG was AD&D 1st in 87, and I played it a lot.

I first come across interactive stories at about 8 years of age, via Gamebooks (Choose Your Own Adventure & Fighting Fantasy). My first D&D encounter was at 11, and it was quite the leap to go from a solo activity to collaborative play.  Maybe this is a boring or even controversial answer? But I reread the question and reminded myself the criteria included: just plain fun’. So many people have strong opinions about D&D, or D20 variations, I suspect people will debate the system forever. Personally, I have long since gotten over my love/hate relationship with D&D, and thus I have no problem acknowledging that it is a big deal to me.

Over the years I’ve returned to various editions of D&D / D20 many times, in particular at conventions and games clubs. Decades ago, I was sometimes surprised when I played in a great D&D game; I had expected some fun, but great? Why was that session in particular great? I’d return to pondering D&D, going over old debates/articles about the merits & flaws of the system, it led me to the conclusion that we often frame the debates in unhelpful extremes. Of course I’ve played in a lot of average D&D sessions, plus sadly some awful games, but that is also true of almost every system I’ve played.

So, given how many great D&D / D20 games I’ve played, and given how many players of D&D there are in the world, it wouldn’t surprise me if there have been more great games of D&D played, then there have been sessions in the entirety of many other systems! Also, if there was some magically point system and a high score table that could summarise peoples’ fun, anticipation, etc., that there would be a lot of highly ranked D&D / D20 sessions/campaigns. I suspect that would be an outrageous claim for some, but given the sheer numbers, is it really? My point is not to dismiss the value of a well-designed system, its clarity of explanation, intent, ease of learning, etc. , more of a constant reminder to myself that people value different things, plus that role-playing is more than the sum of its parts.

Batjutsu RPG Highscore

Whilst D20 is far from my favourite system, my old conclusions led me to stop caring about debating things so much. If players vote to play D&D, if the games I’d prefer to play at a convention are full, I appreciate that I might enjoy D&D. Likewise, even if I play one of my favourite systems, there could be many reasons it does not reach a hypothetical high rating. Returning to point 1, the impact of D&D on the hobby means it continually impacts upon me.

As always for me: systems matter, but players matter more.

Next: RPG Impact 2

#SecretRage Comic

Huzzah, I’ve just submitted a story for another writing competition; this one was for New Writers North. During my writing breaks I chatted with a few players about game ideas. Some more Play-By-eMail games have been preliminarily arranged. Besides tabletop games, I am currently running PBEM:

  • #FatefulMemories this is a fusion of Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, and the World of Darkness; plus bits from other games. This game has been slow but steady, so far it has been ‘mostly’ set in the Forgotten Realms, but is likely to go full Planescape soon 😀 If the player agrees, maybe in the future I will publish some of the game turns.
  • A Mage the Ascension freeform discovery game.
  • One of the World of Darkness games I had started in 2017 was #SecretRage; I had previously blogged about this as Prelude – Secret Rage PBM 6. This game led to a spin off game, set in modern days, which then metamorphised in World of Darkness Sliders. I am running Sliders primarily as a tabletop, but it still involves PBEM 🙂

I might now also be running

  • A Twin Peaks game, likely another freeform game. Probably using Esoterrorists, Mage and Cosmicism. I saw some recommendations for other games to look at, which focus on providing a Twin Peaks like experience #Lynchcraftian
  • I’ve touched on Satyros’s: Powerchords with a music friend.
  • I have big plans for an epic Reality War game. Sadly I’d need a lot of infrastructure to do that, I’m not healthy enough to tackle so much coding; speech recognition is so annoying with code.

I had put a lot into the primary #SecretRage chronicle. Originally it focused on Werewolf: the Apocalypse. The idea changed to allow the PC to be a spirit, and I also incorporated some of my designs and code from old PBM games. The game would span the whole World of Darkness, allowing for any time or place to be explored. Despite being quite ill at the time of planning this, I managed to do a lot of preparation. I even made a comic; not bad for a rubbish artist with hand problems. Sadly, #SecretRage faded away, but I kept tinkering with it, making new scenes, hoping it would get going again.

Motivated by various chats, as well as discussion tonight in the Mage the Podcast Discord server, I have tweaked the comic that I made and uploaded as a complete PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZKGqsu4Q6q42dvoNlUV7RjzxsI7U9fCH/view?usp=sharing

#SecretRage 0

Batjutsu Secret Rage p1

#RPGaDay2019 Summary

#RPGaDay this year was another interesting event, lots of participants and lots of different takes on the prompts. The team of Dave Chapman (@autocratik) Anthony Boyd (@Runeslinger) and wonderful graphic by Will Brooks (@willbrooks1989) made something a bit different with the prompts.

I read many comments appreciating the creative freedom the prompts provided. Of course it is not always easy to think of something; how best to sum up thoughts about the subject of RPGs, a hobby that is simultaneously complex and simple. Although it is time consuming reading/watching so many peoples’ contributions, as normal each day people said things I especially appreciated. I think this event nicely sums up the idea of ‘thinking out loud’, sometimes I think I come up with something interesting, whilst other times I am stating the obvious, or merely mentioning a preference. I am sure some contributors feel the same way, plus we never know what somebody might find interesting/inspiring regarding our subtly different phrasing. What is nice about even the simple answers is we can see commonalities, maybe useful to someone for a future sociology project. So, I wanted to highlight a few of the great contributors:

I think the lovely artwork and pithy answers by @CoronaTinoF wonderfully encapsulates the spirit of RPGaDay:

The fabulous written notes by @Catrinity were used to creatively present a personal play story:

Each prompt was used as a reminder of RPG stories:

https://www.youtube.com/user/JdrD30/videos

A great collection of videos and blogs by IvanMike1968:

Runeslinger’s videos, as normal some interesting thoughts and exceptional presentation variation. Dogs and RPG, what is not to like?

Each day Geek-Life Balance framed the prompts around their RPG plans:

https://geeklifebalance.wordpress.com/tag/rpgaday2019/

Roberto Micheri’s collection of videos:

Doc Perschon made some great videos. Due to time constraints, plus wanting to make higher production value, Doc decided to keep releasing videos over time:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC68SQ75PwAYebPWpdT8sHow

Last but not least the answers from Dave Chapman (@autocratik) himself:

https://www.autocratik.com/2019/08/