#RPGaDAY2019 ~ Noble (day 20)

IvanMike1968

I suppose I try to live a life that one could call noble. I try to do the best I can and to make a difference in my little corner of the world. That said, I don’t exactly jump on my white horse looking for damsels in distress or dragons to slay. Likewise, very often there is a cost to noble actions. Sometimes you have to weigh the potential downside because real life is filled with plenty of consequences and peril. This becomes more difficult when we have responsibilities to other people.

Role playing games offer us the opportunity to experience, witness, and participate in moments of extreme nobility. It’s my opinion that these are best when they are not contrived or engineered but emerge naturally due to the decisions the characters make in tough situations.

Some of my favorite moments in RPGs involve moments of sacrifice or heroism. Some…

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#RPGaDAY2019 ~ Critical (day 9)

A great overview of how to aproach constructive critical view of any RPG.

IvanMike1968

Doing a Google search on critical thinking I found something rather amusing in the suggested questions in my mobile device. One of the drop down menus said “what are the seven critical thinking skills?” ~ The list provided was observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem-solving, and decision-making.

I don’t know about you, but I counted nine. So much for critical thinking. Or maybe that was just a test to see if I could apply those skills to notice the discrepancy.

For a long time I have enjoyed taking Games apart. I like to see what makes them tick. I like to see how they work, what the mechanics actually do. I like to do this from a mathematical standpoint, but also in terms of how they interface with the fiction. What does it feel like when the mechanics are invoked? Is it easy to narrate from? What do…

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RPGaDay – In Preparation for 2019

Casting Shadows

#RPGaDay is returning for its sixth year, but in a whole new way that embraces the flexibility and creativity that make roleplaying games great.

The Infographic

Share this wherever people discuss roleplaying games~

Each day in August, RPGaDay invites gamers to share a positive example of the fun of RPGs. This year, the prompts have been presented as single word entries that participants can work with in any way that inspires them, both in terms of content and in terms of form. In the past most responses have been Tweets, YouTube videos, and Facebook comments. This does not begin to address all the different ways that gamers experience and express their creativity. The prompts invite participants to respond to them in any creative and positive way that suits and inspires them. Write, Draw, Act, Design, Dance, Compose, or… whatever comes to mind!

Despite a terribly busy schedule doing paid graphic…

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One Child’s Heart – RPG

It is wonderful that there are so many great role-playing games (RPG) available these days, an ever increasing collection of new ideas for settings and mechanics. Like many gamers I have too many games to play, crafting projects and models to paint, yet I was still thrilled when I came across the new Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/camdon/one-childs-heart/

One Child's Heart About

“One Child’s Heart is a tabletop roleplaying game about empathy, hope, and human connection in the face of childhood crisis.”

Quite an intriguing and inspiring summary of the game’s goals, and having listened to several actual plays I think the idea really holds up. The setting has an interesting premise:

 “There are pivotal moments in every child’s life that shape who they become. One Child’s Heart is a tabletop roleplaying game that invites players to take the role of child welfare professionals participating in a new mental health care memory exploration experiment. The Central Limbic Engagement Recovery System (CLERS – pronounced, “clears”) brings characters into the memories of these key moments to give support and guidance to a child who needs both.”

Whilst there are various media that have explored ideas of examining interacting with memories I think a quick mainstream reference to contrast with is this game is that it is not like Inception. The player characters are not invading a person’s mind to plant a memory seed. One Child’s Heart takes a professional and ethical approach to the concept of interacting with a child and their memories:

 “You are playing child welfare professionals who are going into the memories of a traumatised child to try and teach that child resilience and make emotional connections with them.”

One Child's Heart The Team

Camdon Wright, the creator, along with Kate Bullock, project manager, have assembled an impressive team for the game. Plus as multiple stretch goals have been unlocked even more people have joined the project, another reason to look at this games Kickstarter. After being hooked by the game’s premise, looking at the team members and stretch-goals sealed my interest. The Kickstarter has had regular updates, I have particularly appreciated reading about the people involved via the Meet the Team updates.

I’m sure most people would agree that memory is a fascinating and complex subject. For example memory is not a straightforward recording of events; each memory is heavily dependent on our moment to moment state of mind, as well as our beliefs, biases and emotions. Those are all dependent on a multitude of factors, and so on. Interestingly memory seems to be editable, when we recall something we might also alter it, we might not. How memories connect to each other are also important considerations. My own fiction and RPG writing is focused on mental health and memory. Besides studying psychology, I have some experience volunteering with assisting vulnerable youth, I’ve taught a variety of skills to people of all ages, and I used to work as an admin in social services and was studying to be a social worker before my health problems interrupted things. To make it clear I am not attempting an argument from authority, I am far from being an expert, I’m just trying to emphasis why I am so invested in this project and intrigued to see how it develops.

I appreciate that trauma and mental health are complex, diverse and sensitive topics, so anyone attempting this subject has an exceptionally difficult task in order to address things respectfully and with consideration. For example: the team has already taken on-board feedback regarding the game term “Permanent Damage Threshold”. I suspect this is a case of building upon the concept of health points, whilst this sort of tracking system is a classic game convention, the label does not quite fit this game’s intent. I do not know any of the designers, yet I still feel confident suggesting that I think the game’s explanation, as well clarifications, communicates the team’s sincerity. This can also been seen with this core game statement:

“This is not a game about trauma or an invitation to tragedy tourism. One Child’s Heart is intended to be an empathy-building experience with a message of hope and human connection. It’s a game where the characters’ only goal is to support and love an imaginary child who is struggling with their life circumstances.”

From a Rules Clarification post:

“At no time can the Professionals deliberately traumatize or harm the child.”

The artwork I’ve seen so far is beautiful. From the cover art, profession symbols, the section headers, to the dice and token examples, I love the aesthetic. Also a special mention for managing to make the heart symbol anatomical correct, but without making them seem shocking/nauseating.

One Child's Heart Art by Serena Verde

Mechanics? I think they nicely follow the idea of minimising tests, I like this nonintrusive approach and think it helps convey the game’s goals. If you really need to know more, then please check out the Kickstarter page.

Even if you are currently sure you are unlikely to play this game in the next few years I think it is still worth investing in. I’m always a fan of expanding my #RPGMentalToolKit. In other blogs posts for various Kickstarters I’ve explained how I approach each project with consideration as to how integrate ideas/mechanics into existing games. Very handy if you have players that prefer to play long campaigns/story arcs, prefer a specific system, etc. Besides playing the game unmixed, I am pondering ideas about adding CLERS to many games, such as Cyberpunk or World of Darkness, in particular Mage the Ascension or Changeling the Dreaming (no Edgelord nonsense of course, Mage 20th nicely emphasised the horror of abusing Mind Magick).

Please check-out this project, I urge you to become a backer as well. I think this another great example of the many innovative creators in #IndieRPG scene doing something thought-provoking and exciting.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/camdon/one-childs-heart/

I’m going to attempt a Vlog about this now. My usual pain and lack of sleep, so should be fun 🙂

One Child's Heart Kickstarter

Beard & Public Declaration

After several years of barely any healing, now I’m finally improving, so it is time to shave the beard. Check out the video below for my public declaration to finish and publish several projects this year. In association with The Bestseller Experiment https://bestsellerexperiment.com

UKSBS at Orion Sphere

I’ve uploaded the 2nd video about Orion Sphere LRP event 1, this time focusing on the wonderful UK Starship Bridge Simulator (UKSBS).

Focusing on the ship missions at Orion Sphere, the combined efforts of the Orion Sphere (Conan Daly, Michael Rees & Nathan McDonald) and UKSBS (Wayne Street, Raymond Toghill & James Balls) teams was very impressive. Like any creative project, creating the ideas for a new game universe can become a black hole, filled with constant research. Add to this the care of managing the inspiration of other universes, whilst giving things your own spin; all of course with the time pressure of: eek the event draws ever closer! It was revealed at the end of the event that the two teams had not worked together before, making things more impressive.

As a coder that has also dabbled with the Unreal Engine and Blender, I have an appreciation of how much effort & time it takes to design assets and populate a map, never mind the tweaking and playtesting that comes after that. This then leads back to the point I mention in the video about being able to moderate ship missions in real time, plus staying In Character (IC), bringing together a collection of ‘a very particular set of skills’ 😉

Of course there were teething problems, I don’t want to misrepresent things and imply perfection. Plus as I mention in the video the learning curve of the players. I think the foundations for this aspect of the LARP has been well established, providing a solid basis for future events. Another important part of both software development and world building is building up a library of assets to help speed up the creation of new assets easier. A quick reality check is that this is being done by small teams, so health, work, etc., can get in the way, so I remind myself not to demand excellence just appreciate it when it is there 🙂

Orion Sphere has been designed to be a living universe, to allow the players to add lore and their own stories, to strive to maximise player agency. The UKSBS has helped create and run a key part of that universe, setting a high bar, which technically was not required to make Orion Sphere event 1 so impressive. To repeat what I say in my video: amazing!

Check out this video for a tour of the system used in event 1:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/UKStarship/permalink/2204873423131460/

Orion Sphere Links

wikki.orionspherelrp.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/orionspherelrp/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/conan3994/boards/

https://www.facebook.com/SJEganPhotography/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/UKStarship/

http://daid.github.io/EmptyEpsilon/

https://www.facebook.com/WhiteStarClothing/

Orion Sphere LARP

The Live Action Role Playing  (LARP/LRP) event 1 of Orion Sphere was awesome. The next event is on the 21st September, you should join in 😀 (links below).

Unfortunately this review is a bit behind schedule, due to health and other priorities. When I returned to finalising my thoughts I was once again unsure how to condense the emotional high and overall fun that I had at Orion Sphere event 1, so I decided to record a stream of consciousness and see what came out. I also decided to go an extra step for my overview and put on some of my kit for Lucian Thomson; failed surgeon to space docker now scientific explorer. The root of the kit and character idea came from a fellow player’s obsession with dungarees.

As I mention in the video I think the game combines some of the scale of a festival LARP along with a smaller club / convention LARP was impressive. Considering the crew and players I am sure this spirit will be maintained, especially as the game grows.

Having a setting that brings classic Sci Fi like Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and so many others was a great starting point. As I mention in the video the four Factions help set the stage for player plot and tension, building upon a rich and growing lore. Like most people I’ve so many things to do, but I’d like to write some lore and after event 2 I’ll chat with the design team about this.

As mentioned above my kit had a silly root, but turned out okay, in part because of the wonderfully diverse Free Union fashion sense 😉

Orion Sphere E1
Preparing to fight/save the hive.

The variety of NERF designs being made by players was very impressive. I made 3 guns, here is one of them:

Orion Sphere Batjutsu NERF
Orion Sphere Batjutsu NERF

As I mentioned in the video the event was awesome. Besides the usual pre-event apprehension I am super excited for Event 2; although sadly my In Character (IC) nephew cannot attend. I am currently working on kit & prop ideas; given the kit standard at the first event was impressive, I imagine other people are going to be bringing some incredible designs. Lots of great kit can be seen at the Orion Sphere website and their Facebook page, but for example just look at this Reskan (sentient swarm) outfit:

Reclining Reskan Orion Sphere E1

Plus the ever incredible outfits of Tom Roe, owner of WhiteStar Clothing (link below):

Orion Sphere Tom Roe
Free Union NPC, played by Tom Roe of WhiteStar Clothing

The ship simulating setup added a great immersive aspect to the game. I am sure the game would have been good enough without the UK Starship Bridge Simulator (UKSBS), but what Wayne and Raymond brought uplifted the game to cosmic heights 😉  I will go into more detail about them in the next blog.

Orion Sphere UKSBS setup
Orion Sphere computer setup for ship missions, run by UKSBS

Thanks to Orion Sphere, SJEgan Photography and Andrew Forrest for some of the pictures. On the subject of pictures, during the run up to the first event a few of us started making memes. Here’s one of my lame attempts:

Orion Sphere skill choice
Lots of character creation options, including making mega specialists 😉

Orion Sphere Links

wikki.orionspherelrp.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/orionspherelrp/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/conan3994/boards/

https://www.facebook.com/SJEganPhotography/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/UKStarship/

https://www.facebook.com/WhiteStarClothing/