#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/

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#RPGaDAY2019 ~ Suspense (day 27)

So far this month there have been a lot of great tweets, videos and blog posts, sadly I cannot link them all. So, it feels weird singling out the following links, as well as reblogging IvanMike1968 great article. After checking out these links I highly recommend reading IvanMike1968’s blog, because I think he wonderfully sumarises why so many RPers not just enjoy but need to discuss rules and settings.

https://twitter.com/Catrinity/status/1166438752975314949

http://autocratik.blogspot.com/2019/08/rpgaday-2019-day-25-calamity-day-26.html

IvanMike1968

If you’re reading this instead of watching my video, congratulations. You get more content today. Taking the time to read ought to be rewarded every once in a while. But don’t get excited , it’s only a little bit more content.

The first thing I thought about when the topic of suspense came up were the dice. There’s nothing like crowding around the plastic gods seeing what will happen. I’m not super big on complicated and detailed systems but very often building a dice pool for ubiquity or FFG Star Wars can be a lot of fun and the suspense starts to build. Not that those systems are complicated but it’s a little bit different than just rolling a D20. No matter what system, the suspense starts to escalate once an action is declared and it’s obvious that the outcome depends upon the roll of the bones. When the dice…

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Bleak Spirit: Lost Lore + Adversaries

At the time of writing the RPG Kickstarter for Bleak Spirit has just over two days left to go. It is already funded, demonstrating the game has a market. I have several ideas about this game, both by itself, but also as an aid to other games. Before I talk about my plans, here is a quick overview:

Bleak Spirit is a tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the empty, haunted worlds of video games like Dark Souls, Hollow Knight, and Salt and Sanctuary. Using a rotating role system, two or more players collaborate to create the story of how a wanderer comes to a strange place, and leaves it forever changed in their wake.”

The game follows in the style of the collaborative storytelling game Lovecraftesque, a game that is inspired by Stealing Cthulhu (single player writing RPG). As noted in the quote above, players take in turns to play:

  1. The World describes the scene, which can be a danger, interaction, or feature scene. The tone of the game is that of melancholy, mystery, and faded glory. Lore is introduced, which in addition to providing a chance to explore the setting, also can be building towards the final Adversary.
  2. The Wanderer explores the scene, decides what action to take, uncovering lore as they travel. The person playing the Wanderer that turn chooses their actions, taking care to avoid describing the wanderer’s internal monologue.
  3. If there are more than 2 players than there is also a Chorus supporting the World. The Chorus can elaborate on events, suggest prices during danger scenes, or play a character that has been introduced.

The game is broken down into 3 sections (part 1 of 5 scenes, part 2 of between 1 to 3 scenes), allowing the wanderer to find lore and building the game towards part 3 and the story’s main Adversary. There are a set number of scenes classed as Interaction, Danger and Feature. The game has special cards that can be played altering the course of a scene. The cards do more than just mix things up, they can also add extra tension. You can read more about mechanics at the Kickstarter, such as why Leaping to Conclusions is part of the fun of the game 🙂

Bleak Spirit Card Samples

The wanderer is a stranger in a strange land, generally visiting bleak, run down locations. Other characters are eccentric, elusive and cryptic. Bleak Spirits approach allows for players to discover depth and complexity, without preloading the world, capturing for example how Dark Souls series achieves this. I think the method of alternating roles supports the game’s intent.

Bleak Spirit also strips away many of the common RPG mechanics and tropes, allowing for freer flowing storytelling. Also the power of a veteran Dark Soul’s player shines, with the exception of the final Adversary, the Wanderer can survive most encounters without issue. The interesting aspect is how the Wanderer moves forward/survives, what price is paid?

After a game, players may wish to discuss things about what occurred, their plans and Conclusion Leaps; maybe even add extra context. During play, the lack of information should be embraced. More gaming session could be set in the same story world, building up the setting lore. A long campaign could result in a very detailed world, so keeping things vague is likely the best way to proceed after each game.

Truth & Ambiguity

I’ll emphasis what is intriguing to me is that quintessentially Bleak Spirit, that it seeks to avoid setting clarity; there is no TruthTM, even about the Wanderer themselves. Whilst there are many RPGs that are easy for new players to access, particularly games set in modern day real world, many RPGs have a lot to learn upfront, particularly for the DM/GM. Even the massively popular D&D settings like Forgotten Realms have a lot of maps, lore and proper nouns to learn. Granted you can ignore everything, but I think a big part of what makes characters interesting in RPGs is figuring out how they fit in their world, as well as exploring social implications. Movie amnesia is one work around, but I think the fact Bleak Spirit intentionally integrates the lack of knowledge is great, the character’s lack of memory is not important. I think this further helps support the setting’s tone of faded glory.

This year I’ve blogged about two other Kickstarters that explore the subject of characters and memory, One Child’s Heart and Afterlife: Wandering Souls. I’ve been working on my own RPG settings and different fiction that explore my long-time obsession with memories and identity, as well as what those mean to characters in RPGs. Bleak Spirit is taking a different approach to those games, as well as my own, so I was very pleased to come across this project.

Aiding other games & #RPGMentalToolkit

I like to mention expanding my RPG Mental Toolkit in several of my RPG posts, so please indulge my thought process with this. Since I think Bleak Spirit manages to capture an important dilemma in RPGs: creating collaborative eerie cryptic complexity, without a lot of reading or preparation. Therefore I think it can be switched to as a mini-session for other games, when something unusual needs to be created, Bleak Spirit could be a more surreal and esoteric way to do so.

As a veteran gamer of many systems, I am aware that no matter the game system, a group of good players can discuss things, set a tone and embrace hidden depth. Whilst some role-players take the idea of a DMGM/Storyteller/etc. as meaning only they can decide what a setting’s contents are, plenty of other gamers allow any players to contribute. In addition players can use the Blue-booking or Play-by-mail (PBM/PBeM) methods to explore/build something away from a table session, but not everyone uses those methods.

Imagine one of the many RPGs that are out there, gaining from having a mini-session of Bleak Spirit. I think the mystery and melancholy of this game will excel when players want to explore something personal in an esoteric way in another game/setting. Particularly with any game that has weird lore (civilisations, magic, dreams, etc.). Here is a non-exhaustive list of games that includes a strange aspect to its reality, from different planes of existence to ways of altering/exploring mental states:

Any Cthulhu game, particularly if the Dreamlands are involved. The various different types of Umbra in the World of Darkness (in particular Mage, but also Wraith, Changeling, Werewolf, Vampire), similarly the Chronicles of Darkness, Unknown Armies, Kult, Exalted, D&D (explore more exotic places/planes and unknown societies in: Planescape, Scarred Lands, Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, Spell Jammer, etc.), Legend of the 5 Rings, GURPS, Warhammer Fantasy or 40k, et cetera.

Bleak Spirit could also be a way for a group to help players learn how to take the lead in a scene. An important baby step towards learning to be a GM and to gain confidence. Other collaborative storytelling games like Fiasco are worth exploring for this reason.

I had arranged a playtest game, but due to my ill health and busy friends those plans fell through. My plan was to offer either a totally unknown setting, the default for Bleak Spirit, or to explore a Realms of Chaos Champion within the Warhammer setting. However, you can check out another blog post about Bleak Spirit that also has an actual play:

https://allthethings123.blogspot.com/2019/06/bleak-spirit.html

https://allthethings123.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-war-sessions-zero-and-one.html

Check out the Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/179941520/bleak-spirit/

Afterlife: Wandering Souls

Elizabeth Chaipraditkul’s Afterlife: Wandering Souls is an intriguing game about self-rediscovery. The project’s Kickstarter is getting close to finishing and it already has many goals unlocked, so the impressive team of participants has grown. The following two quotes hooked me:

“Afterlife: Wandering Souls is a macabre fantasy game set in surreal plane known as the Tenebris. You take on the role of a Wanderer—someone who died, but didn’t end up in Heaven, Hell, or any other traditional afterlife.  Devoid of any memories of your life on earth, you find yourself in an endless desert filled with gateways. Search different planes of existence for clues of your former life – or a semblance of one. Along the way you’ll encounter strange inhabitants, alien cultures, and other humans who’ve lost all hope and are bent on destroying you.”

“Afterlife is Alice in Wonderland meets What Dreams May Come set in a world inspired by the works of Guillermo del Torro, Hayao Miyazaki, and surrealist artists.”

Please back this project, surely the above information has hooked you. Maybe come back here after you’ve joined in 😉 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1568822309/afterlife-wandering-souls

On a personal note I’m particularly interested in this project due to my long-time obsession with memories and identity, as well as what those mean to characters in role-playing games. I love the concept of the recently successful Kickstarter: One Child’s Heart, which I previously blogged about, and it was via that project that I came across Afterlife: Wandering Souls. Two quite different games focused on memories, I have a lot to look forward to!

I love many game systems and settings, it is difficult to allocate time to run/play even a fraction of what I already have, but I’ll definitely be running this game. Games that go into any detail about death and the afterlife are rare, for example Wraith: The Oblivion is one the few but I know a few players that refuse to play it. I doubt those players would have an issue with Afterlife: Wandering Souls. This is not to suggest that the Afterlife game could not be run as an ultra-bleak hopeless tale, Wraith can be run as an optimistic struggle to reach the Far Shores or similar, it’s just that Afterlife is designed around the idea of rebuilding. This quote beautifully summarises the game:

Having mentioned time issue, plus the fact that some players dislike certain settings/systems, or are more focused on their favourites, means I’ve run many fusion games over the years. I like to expand my #RPGMentalToolKit; this is my justification for buying too many RPGs. I’m currently running a fusion Mage the Ascension game and I plan on adding Afterlife: Wandering Souls to it. I feel that Afterlife manages to encapsulate the High and Low Umbras 🙂 For those that think the Low Umbra is too dark, then maybe replace it entirely with Tenebris. I’ll blog about this another time 🙂

Whether playing Changeling the Dreaming or the Lost, Mage the Ascension or Awakening, Werewolf the Apocalypse, in fact any of the classic WoD or Chronicles of Darkness games, I’m sure adding Afterlife will help inspire your creativity. Besides the dead soul focus of Afterlife, the surreal aspect of the Limbos could also help encourage groups with regards to the Dreamlands in Cthulhu Mythos.

Afterlife Water Escape

Quickly touching on practically every other game, it is rare to explore anything about the afterlife in say D&D, GURPS, or Champions, and almost unheard of for something like Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, etc. I feel Afterlife would fit what I imagine is the more cinematic playstyle of Ubiquity, FATE, or Savage Worlds.

RPGs, Death Penalties & Afterlife idea

Taking the fusion idea a stage further, maybe if a game has a character or full party death the group could switch to playing Afterlife. Granted the players likely know a fair bit about their PCs, since they’ve likely been playing them for a while, but maybe the Afterlife sessions focus on the unknowns, expanding the character and the party connections. If a PC succeed in restoring their soul’s memories, they are reincarnated; like an extra life system. I understand that PC death is typically seen as final in most games, but I also appreciate that some players do not want a particular character’s story to be over. So instead why not alter a PC death to be a Spirit Quest. Once completed the PCs return to the previous setting, but having undergone a near death experience and all that story potential that entails? Maybe in a game like D&D this is treated as divine intervention and the PCs are fully restored, but if you think that is too powerful/easy there is nothing stopping a DM from giving the PCs just a few extra HP and a tiny 2nd chance. Whatever way this is done, this could allow a PC to reconsider their lives, massively switch things up without losing their story.

Usually you cannot role-play a dead character, with Afterlife you can 😉

I’ll not turn this blog post in to my thoughts about PC deaths, raising issues about XP punishment, board game mechanics in contrast to the obviously important IC threat of PC death, repercussions matter. I think the topic of PC death is fascinating, but any debate how best to end a story needs to also acknowledge that real lives often end abruptly.

Given my interests and my own memory RPG project I started pondering about whether Afterlife will introduce false memories and uncertainty. After all memory is a complex thing and famously unreliable. I’m not suggesting that Afterlife needs false memories and the accompanying character doubt, after all the game is focusing on positive aspects. From what I’ve read I think Afterlife is an example of good game design, focus on what you are primaily trying to achieve, there are enough games already trying to do everything. This is why I’m confident my players and I will be playing Afterlife without needing to fuse it with other things.

Afterlife fragment

I love the art and style I’ve seen so far. Given the quote above, I look forward to seeing the completed project. I’m already trying to imagine art fusing images like: Studio Ghibli, Pan’s Labyrinth, Beetlejuice, Vanilla Sky, Dark City, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Igor Morski, etc.

Afterlife has familiar stats and is a rules lite game, which I am a fan of. The actual play I watched was not bogged down by rule queries 🙂 There is a pay what you want Quickstart for the game, if you are not hooked yet, then that should do the job 🙂

I hope I’ve inspired you enough to back Afterlife: Wandering Souls. With such a strong concept I look forward to seeing how this game progresses and hopefully future expansions for it. I was about to post this blog and I have found that more stretch goals have been unlocked, which includes Satyros of Mage the Ascension fame, so my ponderings about fusing this wonderful game with Mage may prove to be even more interesting.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1568822309/afterlife-wandering-souls

 

Prelude – Secret Rage PBM 6

This continues on from part 1 PBM Thanks & Secret Rage.

It has been a while since I blogged about my #SecretRage PBM campaign, Richie and I have been busy so it has been on the back burner. This at least allowed me to explore ways to link ideas about the potential psychology of spirits, something that relates to two other projects. I considered abandoning this campaign and playtesting my new setting, but since I’ve put a lot of preparation in to this campaign, plus Richie and I wanted to play Werewolf, I decided to stick with things. I participated in #RPGaDay again this year, I mentioned #SecretRage on several of the days. For Day 26 I talked about Ambitions.

This urge to keep changing projects is an ongoing problem for me, so I gave myself a deadline; following advice from The Bestseller Experiment. I finished up the comic pages and the introductory turn as well. Finalising everything for this project helped re-inspire my passion for #SecretRage, plus given me inspiration to run something else, Cyberpunk, D&D, Pendragon, Cthulhu, etc.

I won’t be posting the turn data since I’ve added another player, plus I am considering inviting other players to join in, maybe some of the people from the #RPGaDay community. Below are those comic pages, which once again I found the writing of to be an interesting puzzle to figure out, in part due to writing about a messed-up Luna, but also because comic writing is different.

#SecretRage 07#SecretRage 08#SecretRage 09+10#SecretRage 11#SecretRage 12#SecretRage 13#SecretRage 14#SecretRage 15+16

#RPGaDay2018 Day28 inspiring gaming excellence

Share whose inspiring gaming excellence you’re grateful for

As I mentioned in the video: anyone that puts effort into playing. I adore excellence, but I appreciate effort far more!

I forgot to mention the dedication of Ian A A Watson to get the Trinity universe back #TrinityContinuum

The Peter Austin blog I reference is 5 Positive Role-Play Lessons.

5 Positive Role-Play Lessons

I blogged about Richie Janukowicz: Inspirational Friends.

Inspirational Friends Richie

#RPGaDay2018 Day27 Value of Actual Play

Share a great stream / actual play

My video has a #RPGDeepDive (rant) that I think stays positive:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Summary of video: Initially I wasn’t going to answer this question, in part because I’m not a regular watcher of any Actual Plays. More importantly I assumed numerous people will be posting all sorts of interesting and obscure links, I’d have little to add in comparison. Additionally this subject is a touchy one with some players; unsurprisingly I have seen quite a few negative comments today. With this event being positive I didn’t want to feel compelled to do a #RPGDeepDive in which I’d be inclined to address negative things. Thankfully the RPGaDay positivity has won through for me, several good comments got me thinking, plus I decided something like this opening meant I was not ignoring the complexity of this subject 😉 (I’ve read a lot of posts and watched a lot of videos). Actual Play + Streams add to the hobby they don’t reduce or remove anything. Yes some people may have a narrow view, this was true of the RPG hobby previously with some anyway, also the hobby is not in threat like it was in the 80s.

Over the years I’ve thought about doing an Actual Play. My main group are not up for being recorded, I don’t have a decent setup, equipment, etc. Since over the years I generally play face-to-face at tabletop or LARP, or Play-by-Mail (also email), I’ve not needed to video anything. For my games there are generally detailed notes of the main events in the game, typically individual PC actions have private notes, so decades ago one of the players started making audio recordings of the sessions to help with group notes. Sadly we don’t keep any of the recordings. I’ve sat on a few ideas about an Actual Play for PBM, one day I’ll do that 😉

Runeslinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ivanmike1968

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sameøldji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roberto Micheri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ede Sol Media

 

 

 

Actual Plays (AP) / Streams

Bluebeard’s Bride by @RuffleJax https://www.twitch.tv/videos/297031373

Happy Jacks RPG The Darknet – GURPS

 

More AP recommendations in other peoples’ videos.