#RPGaDay2018 Day19 RPG Music

Music that enhances your game

I sent the #RPGaDay organisers Autocratic and Runeslinger a lot of suggestions about music, understandable they converted to a simpler but broader question allowing people to answer what they will. The origins of those questions came from the entrance music used for some fight sport events, or musical kata, plus some old chats playing Street Fighter in the 90s. The idea of theme tunes for a character (PC/NPC), story, or even a whole campaign came to mind, since I have on occasion thought of something I felt nicely encapsulated an idea. Until podcasts and cheaper audiobooks came along I listened to a lot of music, I still manage a bit of music each week, so it’s nice to read/watch what other people think about RPGs and music.

Live music at LARP can be incredible, but not something I’ve experimented with for tabletop. As part of my communication with two friends that I used to do a lot of PBM with, we’d include references to the music we’d worked out our orders to, plus maybe something new we’d been listening to.

 

 

 

#RPGaDay2018 Day19 graph

Links to Hexen II soundtrack

 

Dune 1984 OST

 

 

Advertisements

#RPGaDay2018 Day18 RPG Art

Art that inspires your game

For day eighteen’s question I went into quite a deep dive, but I still managed to miss several things. I didn’t talk about movies, computer games, the art of gaming itself, writing, poetry, or the powerful access to imagery that the Internet provides; whether sites like Pinterest or character casting ideas from IMDb. Playing Cyberpunk 2013 and then 2020 helped highlight the importance of fashion to some characters, the settings tagline of Style over Substance helped emphasise this.

#RPGaDay2018 Day18 graph

I talk about maps and journeying in games multiple times in the video, but I’m not sure I did a good job of coherently summarising that my biggest source of art inspiration has always been maps. Lots of interesting post from the RPGaDay community, I link some of them below.

Mick Hand’s blog has a great list of art, and in particular cover art: https://igm4u.com/f/rpgaday2018-18

Nerdwriter1’s made a great video: “A look at the colorful history of sci-fi book covers”

IvanMike1968 particularly got my attention with this video:

Runeslinger giving an interesting overview.

Another interesting take on a question at Ede Sol Media channel:


Excellent UK costume designer Tom Roe runs WhiteStar Clothing.

The Wonderful writers, who are two of my favourites, are Ed McDonald and Gavin G Smith. I’ve posted reviews about their work on various sites, but I really should blog about them as well 😉

 

#RPGaDay2018 Day15 Tricky RPG XP

Describe a tricky RPG experience you enjoyed

Almost a brain-fog video today, but I think I managed to been coherent enough. I talk about anxiousness and the moment, LARP, Street Fighter and my Mage game; see #PieChartofIndecision below. I didn’t go with any thoughts about handling tricky experiences based around things like clashes of playing styles, system opinions or expectations. I’ve had a few tricky RPG encounters at Conventions in the Living D&D and Star Wars systems, thankfully those were rare. Not that those don’t count, but I went with experiences that were all positive, I think to better keep with the #RPGaDay focus, otherwise I might have descended into a confused rant about something negative; today has been a bad day! Keeping it positive, below is a bit more info about the L5R game event that I list.

#RPGaDay2018 Day15 graph

This story is when we were new to playing Legend of the Five Rings. The party were mostly Dragon Samurai, two had Kitsuki training so were odd in the setting. The group were Magistrates and as part of their travels came across a village with a murdered Samurai. Unless the guilty party was found the whole village was at stake. The Kitsuki trained individuals along with their Crab friend proceeded to investigate the murder of a Samurai. Meanwhile the cold-PC decided they did not approve of the methodology and found out who the murderer was using traditional methods.

Short-version: eventually both investigations uncover the truth, the murder was self-defence by the Chonin’s daughter who had been assaulted. The cold-PC is slightly ahead of the rest of the party, calls the village to hear the confession of the Chonin and immediately decapitates the Chonin; an innocent person. The rest of the party are quietly furious. During a drink break the others admit that they are a bit freaked out OCC, but appreciate Rokugan is different and complicated, but thankfully were loving the IC drama of it all.

A long IC awkward silence ensues, eventually the Kitsuki trained PC questions the cold-PC on their actions. The cold-PC is offended, but eventually gives in and explains that the Chonin was honourable, saved his daughter who would have been killed regardless of whether you believe her self-defence was warranted. The Chonin saved face for all, the Samurai’s family will not have their name tarnished, and the Chonin’s soul will gain from his honourable actions. Plus any parent sacrificing themselves for their child is understandable, and is worthy of respect. This way everyone won, whilst the Kitsuki’s methods would have revealed a truth, but would have undermined the Kami’s Order and Tradition. It was a wonderfully awkward session, both IC and OOC, and helped us all learn the tricky political and religious viewpoints about truth in the setting.

 

#RPGaDay2018 Day14 Failure Became Amazing

Describe a failure that became amazing

I go into some depth about a crazy game Vampire that I run back in the 90s, which become a disaster from a certain point of view, but most of the players loved it. It also led to an amazing game. No LARP stories, nor have I included tales about a critical dice roll radically altering a game, not that I have anything against those moments, just that the list I think I made is enough 🙂

Just realised I badly explain my point about high fantasy RPG, pesky sleep deprivation. I guess my foggy thinking was that high fantasy is typically about big failures and big successes, so many of the stories I know from others are the overly-epic type. Such as intentionally pushing scenarios to create guaranteed failures, invulnerable NPCs monologuing, which then requires Deus Ex Machina or there is a party wipe.

#RPGaDay2018 Day14 graph

#RPGaDay2018 Day07 GM & Stakes

How can a GM make the stakes important?

On the surface this is quite a straightforward question and therefore I could give a simple answer, but as like most of things in role-playing there are a lot subtleties lurking beneath the surface. I think the easy answer is personal, a perfectly valid answer. I just happened to take it a step further, since what is personal? Why do people care? Why is someone motivated or invested? I go in to more depth of my #PieChartofIndecision in my video, plus touching on my L5R and Aberrant campaigns.

#RPGaDay2018 Day07 graph

Following on from the time pressure point, when I was working at KJC Games running role-playing Play By Mail games (PBM) for a lot of customers, one of the big issues was players had a limited amount of things they could do each turn. Yep that sounds quite obvious, but since the players had in-game friends and enemies also trying to achieve things, gather resources, uncover mysteries, improve their alliance, undermine their enemies, time pressure really stood out. Thus the relationship between time and choice was emphasised.

A quick short story about being an NPC at the Lorien Trust LARP. As an NPC I created and ran out plots, potentially hundreds of players could interact with or at least hear about the plot; plots at the Gathering could affect thousands. Some of the players chatted with me about how surprised they were with my style of GMing, that I didn’t just run out big deadly plots that I also did several small things, or rather they seemed small to them, but then they wondered. Thus the players didn’t know whether somebody coming in to the guild was actually a threat or not. Then they had to determine what was important, made harder because there were so many things happening, which resulted in some plot being given to other players. Not that everyone was happy, nor everyone was involved, but a bunch of compliments was still great 😉

A common thing that I found at LARP, particularly festival LARP, is that a few proactive players were regularly resolving plots, whilst less physically capable or newer, less well-known/connected players struggled to be involved. This is partly a result of competency, understandably established characters had proven themselves.

The large scale LARP problems mentioned above are rarely a problem in tabletop, mostly because the players can discuss things directly with the GM; so much easier and appropriate to freeze game time than at LARP.

I think another thing to think about is with ComputerRPG (CRPG/JRPG), they are quite different than tabletop. Overwhelmingly with CRPG is that time is not an issue, with the main plots being put on indefinite hold whilst side-quests are carried out; daft when the main quest keeps emphasising how urgent something is. Elder Scrolls and Fallout in particular do this, but it is a core CRPG approach. Whilst I like the games the ignoring of time undermine my character and story immersion, time doesn’t really matter.

Coming back to this fusion of the #PieChartofIndecision, plus other things I’ve not mentioned, we are mortal players playing a game, time matters, time is our stake, the fact we are playing the game itself is part of our choice in life; any game is a stake of our life force.

#RPGaDay2018 Day03 RPG Staying Power

What gives a game “staying power”?

A system that has a good endurance and encumbrance rules probably help with this 😉 On a more serious note this is a good example about how this event asks questions that open to interpretation. Some in the community are answering this from the perspective of the product, which I think is quite a valid point; whilst the majority seem to be answering it more from the perspective of the group or individual, which is primarily what I interpreted it as, as well.

So as normal I’ve made a big of things that I thought were relevant and made my Pie Chart of Indecision.

#RPGaDay2018 Day03 graph

I rarely run or play in short campaigns/chronicles. When I do play something I want it to have depth, I don’t want it to be an ocean-sized puddle, which on the surface can look like it has depth there, but when you go into it you just barely get your feet wet. Now this can obviously be achieved in multiple different ways, which is sort of the purpose of this question, from a group/individual perspective I think you can achieve it:

Powers to explore, so when people are planning out their characters, they know sort of roughly where they want to go. I think the crucial answer is when a character has a reason to be invested in an event. For example: when a PC is doing an investigation in particular, why are they investigating?

When I worked at KJC Games, one of the expressions I came up with to explain my approach to the boss: to make the games less about them being a zoo, where players walking around exhibits, such as ‘wonderful’ story writing, or plot hooks, but actually the ability to change things, to do things, to interact with the ‘exhibits’. To make the game more of a sandbox approach.

If a system has not annoyed the group then, my main group tends to not care too much about system, it comes down to the fusion between the players and the game; as Runeslinger puts it “the alchemy of play”.

#RPGaDay2018 Day02 Look for in an RPG

What do you look for in an RPG?

I’ve read lots of interesting replies to today’s question. Before I give my answer I’ll quickly go over aspects that I initially considered via my Pie Chart of Indecision

#RPGaDay2018 Day 02 graph

The answer I decided upon is: Since so many games already exist I look for something new, whether it is mechanics or setting, innovation is definitely the most important factor for me. Besides reviews I find character sheets can help highlight that a game has something different to offer.