Monthly Archives: January 2007

Everway: Window to the Soul

Thinking about Tim’s diceless Vamp game got me thinking about Karma, Drama, and Fortune.

These are terms from Everway, appropriated for use in pretentious theory discussions.  Essentially, Karma means resolution by comparing numbers and stats, Drama means resolution by what makes the most sense (either by explanations of plans and strategies, or story needs), and Fortune means resolution by random chance.

In the three sessions of Everway I ran, I suspect I leaned heavily on Fortune in the first one, the middle was practically resolutionless (and extremely Narrativist), and the last was very much Drama driven.

Why?  I had a fairly straightforward situation thought out, and was willing to say yes to pretty much anything the PCs did.  I wasn’t just letting them be awesome; I was letting them be too awesome.  There wasn’t any challenge.

Whereas the first situation was great.  There was a situation, and the cards came out, and stuff happened.  No one knew what to expect next!

The lesson here is: don’t run anything with a goal already in mind.  Let the situation speak for itself, and the events of play take their own direction.

And in addition to “say yes or roll the dice”, sometimes it’s important to remember the following: “say no and then roll the dice.”

When Do We Game?

I played diceless Vampire: the Masquerade earlier today.

Despite my hatred of all things oWoD, simulationist, or diceless, I played it.  Up until the last half-hour, (when I started pulling out all the stops) I was pretty much bored to pieces.

So sorry Tim, I won’t be playing in your game again.  It’s not for me, at all.

As one of Tim’s friends once said about Prime Time Adventures, “When are we going to actually roleplay?”  I ask:  “When are we going to actually play the game?”

(See to me, the meat of gaming is about conflict.  If there’s an omniscient, or close to it, narrator who can basically call any conflict as he sees it, there’s no challenge, and therefore absolutely no point.)

Veronica Mars: Season One

Warning: Minor Spoilers follow, and there’s bigger ones in the comments.

One thing VM has is the episode formula.  With a few exceptions, almost all the episodes follow this process:  Veronica finds out about case, Veronica finds obvious red herring, confronts red herring, finds real culprit, who was innocently introduced earlier in the episode, and solves the case.  Also, there’s metaplot in there someplace.

Watching over Season One again, I found it interesting that the season as a whole, the case of Lily’s murder follows this same pattern.

Battlestar Fujiyama

Take one part Mountain Witch and one part Battlestar Galactica, stir, and play.

Read all about it here.

Blood And Chocolate

…is a terrible name for a werewolf movie.  And if the preview is any indication (remember folks: they put the BEST SCENES of the whole movie in the previews!), it’s also a terrible movie.

The true tragedy here is not that a terrible werewolf movie with a terrible name is being made.  You fans of Underworld out there can have your poorly-named werewolf-schlock.

No, what gets me is that a perfectly good name for a romantic comedy about vampires will be forever unusable.

Let’s Party Like it’s 1861

Yup, it’s 1861 in Shadowfist’s 19th century juncture.  You know what that means!  A Marvel joke trivializing our nation’s history!

Civil War

One of THOSE Blogposts Again

I did a google search for quiz.  I got this one:

You are Red Hat Linux. You're tops among your peers, but still get no respect from them.  It's all right with you.  You have your sights set higher.
Which OS are You?

So I guess that’s good, right?  Not like I would know.

Splat is not Character

I’m tired of asking people what their character is, only to have them respond with a splat.

In D&D:  “What do you want to play?”  “I dunno, maybe a Rogue.”  This is understandable to a certain extent, given the tactical combat focus of the game, and the need to have a balanced party.  However, when you ask, “so what’s he like?” a little bit more of an explanation is hoped for.

I once had a player play two druid characters in a row who were practically identical in personality.  This is not uncommon with newer players; however it reached the realm of rather epic silliness when he said, “don’t worry, my next character will be completely different.  I’m looking at the Spirit Shaman class.”  For those of you who don’t have Complete Divine, it’s pretty much a variant- on the druid.

What makes a character?  I don’t know, but I know class isn’t it.

What’s the worst game for this?  Old World of Darkness, hands down.  You’ve got 13ish monolithic splats, each one with a preloaded stereotypical character ready to play- likes, dislikes, quirks, allies, and enemies, all completely predetermined.  For a so-called ‘story-telling’ game, the irony here is palpable.  I have difficultly putting my hate of oWoD splats into words and qualifing it; it is simultaneously a barrier to entry for new players, who are assaulted with a bevy of arcane terms that are oh-so-important, a creativity-stifler for those who have understood those terms and straightjacket the potential spectrum of character into a baker’s dozen of goth-enough, zeitgeist-approved cardboard cutout templates, and it serves as the sloppy, lazy vehicle for which the ‘splat-book’ system is designed.

Splat books!  A pox on the inventors of splat books!

It’s not enough to have what’s written in the book; each splat needs it’s own nifty powers, secret metaplot, ‘important’ NPCs, and extensive background information.  None of these things in and of themselves are necessarily bad- except perhaps secret metaplot only available in one odd book that if you miss out you won’t understand anything, and uberNPCs, but the presentation is typically assinine; a cop-out to get another book on the shelfs, print a couple powers so people will buy it to keep up on the power curve, and make some more money for the publishing machine.  Its just plain bad game design.

Let’s take a quick case study at the new World of Darkness.  The splats are still there, but there’s 1) less of them, which means that there’s less confusion for potential new players, and 2) they aren’t obvious.  You have to pick a combination, and ask yourself what that MEANS for your character.  Too often, in oWoD, “I’m Clan *, what does that mean?” is too often truncated into “I’m Clan *”  (We shall see however, what useless, stale sterotypes form of the covenants/orders/whatever.)

Let’s take another quick case study at 3rd Edition D&D.  Between 2nd and 3rd edition, the lines between the classes were muddied quite a bit.  Mutliclassing is easier and more sensible, and with feats and skills, it’s possible for two members of the same class, with the same ability scores, to have vastly different capabilities.  This is a good thing!  The Complete Books, rather than focusing on tricking out a specific class, have been more general-aspect based.  This is a big step up for D&D.  Will a future edition of D&D ever be classless?  I’m not sure what that would look like and still feel like D&D, but I suspect we’ll see a lot more in the area of character customization.

Random Rpg Article on ‘Flags’

I found this interesting, useful, and a general good checklist of what to do.

Linked for posterity.

What Genre Movie Would My Life Be?

 Yup, it’s one of THOSE blog posts.  Frankly, I was hoping for action/adventure.  You know, something with ninjas. 

***The Movie Of Your Life Is A Black Comedy***
In your life, things are so twisted that you just have to laugh.
You may end up insane, but you’ll have fun on the way to the asylum.

Your best movie matches: Being John Malkovich, The Royal Tenenbaums, American Psycho
If Your Life Was a Movie, What Genre Would It Be?