Wednesday, July 29

Champions United #5 The Sentence is Death! (audio edit for fast play)

My walk down memory lane continues with Champions, logging in a 6th episode last night. All in all still strange, the unfolding of events and complications for the PCs. Here is the edited edition of our 5th session two weeks ago. An audio edit makes the session replay faster, and the dialogue is stripped of most items unrelated to the adventure. From what I've seen, a two-hour game session can be cut down to one hour of adventure content. I'm working on the audio edit of Issue #6 Night of the Leeches as we speak!

Monday, July 27

So the game didn't happen but here is this cool video on styles for inDesign!

Rom'Myr Dying Earth game, last weekend didn't have enough players available so one of the players rocked out and demonstrated mechanics on your inDesign software and fielded some of my dumb questions... 

Sunday, July 26

Critical Hits & Dramatic Fumbles: A View

I love critical hits and dramatic fumbles in my rpg's. As a Game Master (DM) I enjoy the on-cue, flash card style prompt to the fighting dialogue these charts tend to provide, and as a player I enjoy the thrill of knowing any fight could be your last by a well-placed blow and the opportunity to totally nail my advisory with that devastating called shot I'm attempting to make. I also want, as Player or DM, the sheer swingy-ness of "crit" tables because it bakes exciting role-playing opportunities into the results. 

But they are horribly unfair to Players. Even if the Players enjoy the tables they will never escape the ultimate, grim conclusion of death at the hands of a crit table. All things being equal, there is only 1 PC and an endless amount of NPC's. After a while a long-lived hero dying at the hands of a rando critical from the town guard will grate on everybody's senses of dramatic play. Brand new adventurer, no problem, take that axe to the stomach and bleed out like a, a... hero! But the PC which has achieved great success at great cost, a meaningless death annoys me. 

Another inescapable fact was the more PCs engaged in mortal combat the more they cement the inevitable. The act of a fighter fighting becomes a sub-optimal play. 

My first stop on the train of reflection and thought was to appreciate the original parameters of the first critical hit and dramatic fumble mechanism in a rpg. A natural 1 is always a miss, and a natural 20 is always a hit. No bonus to damage, no increased penalties beyond the miss, kind of captures all the back and forth thinking I have on crits in a simple solution. But damn it, I love random, descriptive killer hits during combat when luck has prevailed in favor of the PCs! I have, in the past, modified tables in all sorts of ways to minimize the chance of an inappropriate crit coming up in the course of regular play. Qualifying the critical was an obvious choice for me, but in the end I came back to the facts of a closed system; just delaying the inevitable. A lucky shot which blows apart years of quality play. 

So my current solution is Critical Hits are only for Players. Only the PCs get those extra rolls on a critical hit table when the score that magic number. No NPC gets anything more than just a hit, no matter what combination of rare results they pile up. Same for Dramatic Fumbles, NPCs only. The dramatic fumble always makes an exciting turn in the events of a combat, and quick players will grab onto additional environmental "things" and make something interesting out of the action. And I don't think this is tilting things in the PCs favor all that much. The PC is always exposed to death during a game session. Eventually it will come when all is reduced to a single role. In a closed system with endless amounts of time the unwanted event will come about no matter how small a chance, and come often! So the PCs are going up a steep climb anyways. Why not make it vivid and colorful along the way?

Saturday, July 18

What OSR Means to Me

I have had a hard time finding a definition which works for me and my sensibilities. I get the logic behind Old School Rules and Old School Renaissance as terms and definitions, but it feels hidebound, locked in to a Dungeons & Dragons starting point, and maybe, on a bet, someone will define OSR as the early games which developed the hobby or a certain period of time ending in like December 30th, 1979. Like the way comic books are broken up into particular ages. These definitions are too limiting. They don't capture the essentials of the art or reduce the art to entertainment only. That the form of play should emulate the gospel, RAW.

I approach my role-play gaming the same way I immerse myself in any of my art projects. You will hear me talk about ttrpg's as an art, or refer to an artist's approach, alot. Let us clear up one thing right away; I have no schooling, training, track record or anything else to point to that my artistic education and experience is valid. I'm a dilettante, whatever catches my interest I dive in, deep. Obsessively until I burn out. So I have a valid process which rests on exploration, getting lost, and scaring myself. My artist process is basically an exploration of fear. Or working through fear to find the undiscovered country on the other side. So this puts me in conflict with rules. My thought currently on ttrpg game rules is that they are for the players, not the GM. Therefore I guide my efforts by an Old School Rational. A rational is flexible, looking for only a "truth" of a thing. Another way I put it is "Fantasy is the playground of the inappropriate." This popped into my mind during the current discussion on imaginary content disproportionally insulting people of color. I consider these positions rubbish and a lack of developed artistic and honest thought. 

So what is this Old School Rational then? The GM must have the freedom to explore and depict regardless of rules and players must accept the rules as a tool to force them to "not make shit up". I mean you can make shit up, we do it media res, but rules work for a player like choosing the size of canvas works for an artist. Every choice in an artistic project is a restriction of focus. Merely by choosing what rules to run a game begins the process of choosing canvas size. So the here and now can be experienced in its truest sense (as much as possible for puny humans). That which is cut away leaves only the essence of something, or should be the goal. Put another way, for the GM the choice of canvas size cuts away all that is possible and begins a reduction to a "what am I doing?" place. What will develop. This is counter-intuitive to me, but I believe each choice leads to the next choice, and the next. The more I reduce the closer I get to an answer.

My Old School Rational is rules don't matter, the intent of everyone at the table matters. My OSR is most of everything in the game is undescribed, does not exist yet and the participants need to start slicing away at everything to get to something. Not so much to describe surroundings to play in, but bring new things into being in which to own. The sum total of our experience My OSR is players challenged to expand their ideas on a rapidly shrinking iceberg to find a means to not drown. The GM is challenged to be drowned in the endless possibilities of "what if, what about" at the moment and land on the right response. Or make that response "right", and then pull something new out of that, again and again in response to the player's challenge of thinking in new ways to overcome abstract problems with no obvious way to solve. To reduce, comprehend, make useful knowledge and cultivate a juicy experience of fear. First impressions, initial reactions to visual and oral art, capturing what that means to you, how it informs your interpretation and belief and make your next choice as this new being. These experiences happen in an instance, but sometimes these experiences give you something to chew on for years. 

That is my OSR. And my definition is as meandering as a willful stream and as urgent as the violent waterfall coming up. 

Just so there is no misunderstanding, this is a post of subject matter I invite discussion on and there are no rules. You are going to have to take chances around here. I don't yet know which way is the right way to discuss the art of ttrpg's, but this is my opening cut.

PS: Just came across the band Tyranny of Imagination. That is another useful term for me in the artistic language I try to use when describing ttrpg's effect on me.

Saturday, July 11

Gamma World 1st Edition Episode

This is episode 7 in the Detroit Suck City Saga. Unedited. This cut will get replaced with an edited audio version in a week or less. Seems to be my turnaround time. This session is worth a listen because it includes Dalaks and a satchel full of grenades!

Wednesday, July 1

What is Everyone's Blood Type ???

It could happen. You may need this information. For my own games, I can see future blood-transfusions being attempted and the aforementioned question arising. For a more "realistic" bit I googled the overall percentage of blood types world wide. This simple bit of information has been turned into a specialized table. So the next time your game's players are trying to save someone's life with a timely transfusion, why not make it more iffy, more fraught with peril than the situation already has become?

Image result for blood transfusion

Rank   Blood Type     World Pop.%  1d100  Flat % 1d4

1          O Positive       38.67               01-39               1

2          A Positive       27.42               40-69               2

3          B Positive        22.02               70-90               3

4          AB Positive     5.88                 91-00               4