Tag Archives: RPG

“Who Would You Rather Be?”

6 Feb

As mentioned previously, I gave up being a DM, and now I’m merely a player. Which means creating a new character in D&D… which like blog posts, are a great way to exercise your creativity. It’s not always your idealized self–just a different shade of you.

When I went back to roleplaying, I really did it because I wanted my son to have the experience of playing with other people. So naturally, when my son wants to continue DM’ing, and needs another player, I’m along for the ride. So I created a lizardfolk monk–because let’s face it, non-human characters are far more interesting. So to make it seem more alien, the source book suggests not using “I” or pronouns in your speech, which I thought was pretty cool. So instead of “Let’s go to the store” you say, “Supplies are needed, store imperative.” However, lizardfolk are pretty rare, so I gave him a background of anthropologist, which I interpreted as “he was trained to kill humans, but instead, got fascinated by them and decided to join them.”

For those not conversant in 5th Edition, apart from your initial rolls for attribute scores, you get certain advantages for picking your character’s background, and once you hit third level, you get the choice to pick your class path… which is a way of customizing your character. So a monk can a traditional “I kick ass to promote peace” path, but can also be a monk who studied sword fighting, or a monk who does astral projection and other spell casting abilities. It allows the player to do what they want inside the class, instead of multi-classing, which means taking a level in another class (ranger, wizard, et al) to get to the goal you want.

So for my regular campaign, I thought about using the same character, but since the new DM wants the character on D&D Beyond, I didn’t have access to the “Anthropologist” background (because it’s in Tomb of Annihilation), and it loses a lot if I went with another. So I decided to go with an alternate monk character. [I really don’t like casting spells, so that cuts out a lot of character classes.] This time, I decided to go with the Drunken Master path, because a) I love the Drunken Master kung fu film series with Jackie Chan (1978, 1994) and b) because I thought having a drunken character might add to the fun of the character.

However, as I went through the background list, I found the Haunted One idea fascinating. Originally appearing in Curse of Strahd (which is the D&D vampire campaign–I didn’t like it much), I thought, “Maybe my character drinks to take away the pain.” Which then allowed me to write a great backstory that I love. Because we’re using a point buy system (instead of rolling for attributes), I decided to gain a couple points by lowering my intelligence to 6 (10 being average) but raising my wisdom. So this makes him street smart, but can’t learn complex concepts. He can do simple jobs, or complex ideas like martial art katas with a lot of repetition, and would probably talk in short sentences. I figured that he’d be a lot of like simpler Amos Burton in The Expanse, who is a streetwise tough guy, but doesn’t worry about… much at all.

What do you think? Have you had a really good character concept you’ve played with? Do you use RPG characters to generate story ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

Giving Up the DM Chair

3 Feb

After two years, I finally decided to give up the dungeon master’s role in our Monday night group and just be a player. Although I had been burned out for quite some time, I still feel sad letting it go. Why?

For those of you who’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, it’s a role playing game (the original RPG) where everyone takes a character and pretends to be them while walking around fantasy universes. The difference is that you’re telling a story–not showing them one. You have maps and miniatures, but in the end, it happens all in your mind. And the one who makes it happen is the dungeon master.

Two years ago, when my son Asher was 11, he got SUPER into D&D. So I figured the only way to slack his thirst was to actually go to someone else’s table and experience the game as a not-family activity. So the local game store had Adventurers’ League going (a system that allows folks to come in or out with characters and not dedicate themselves to a single campaign) and we sat down at a table.

Asher had a lot of fun for a couple weeks. The problem was–there got to be WAY too many people at the time and we needed several folks to break off and form a new table. Which meant, someone needed to run it, and I volunteered. In the end, it was a good move, because I enjoy running a game far more than I do playing a game. There’s too much downtime, whereas the DM never has any; always engaged.

I was able to build up a following of dedicated players at the game store and frequently had eight people around the table (about the max I could handle). A few came and left, but over time, there was about four or five core people I could count on. Then COVID happened last year (about this time) and I offered to move the game online to Roll20. We kept it going–lost three players, gained two more–but that was to be expected. Online is simply not the same as tabletop in person and it takes a different perspective.

But I was fading in my joy of this and I knew it. Part of me just wanted to keep the group going until the game store reopened–then the store decided it wasn’t going to stay open–at least, not with a gaming area. But I loved hanging with these folks, so I didn’t want to lose that. I just didn’t love running the game anymore. So I offered the DM’s chair to someone else and decided to simply play. True, it’s not as engaging, but I get to still hang out with my gaming friends, and I can simply enjoy being there… instead of dreading it until I actually get there. I might get the chair back at some time, but I should simply enjoy not having to do the prep work.

So it’s the right decision, but I don’t feel great about it. Have you had this situation? You keep something going even though your heart isn’t in it anymore? Share with me on the comments below!

Lines and Veils

16 Dec

I recently came across someone outlining the rules of a game and doing something rather odd. He asked his group “what actions are off-limits?” At first, I dismissed this as overly touchy and sensitive, but the more he talked, the more he made sense.

The game is Vampire: The Masquerade (5th Edition), which I last played in college under the first edition, so I didn’t even know that they made four more since then. This was also called a “session zero,” which again, is another term I never heard before. That’s a way to explain the game to a group of people who have never played it, which I have participated in before, but never heard the term.

I was watching Dice Friends, which is a recording of folks playing an RPG up in Victoria, British Columbia. Their group–Loading Ready Run–is a brilliant group of internet comedians that I’ve followed for years. So to have them play an RPG is great to watch. However, they are UBER-liberal, so to hear them talking about lines and veils immediately struck me with the same disdain I have for “what are your pronouns” (which are on their Twitter feeds) and putting “x” at the words to make them gender-neutral.

However, I gave it a listen, and the more they talked, the more the concept made sense. I play Dungeons and Dragons regularly, so this issue doesn’t come up very much. You know what you’re getting into with DnD–you’re going to weapon-up and kill monsters. This is the way. If you have a problem with that, this is not the game for you. On the other hand, when my son (13) runs a game, he likes to be overly descriptive when it comes to finishing off a creature, and his sister (10) really doesn’t like that. That’s her “line,” and given enough “Asher! Stop!” he eventually listens.

When you’re dealing with a horror game, what you’re in for is… not exactly clear. If you’re used to DnD, you’d be surprised just how different another RPG is. Vampire does have combat, but it also has negotiation, mind control, sex… and that gets into some oogie areas. What if you’re a vampire who only feeds on dogs? The most blood thirsty barbarian player in DnD may be iffy about gory details about killing dogs.

So lines made sense, but some things are part of the game, like drinking blood. You’re a vampire. You can’t get around the fact that you suck blood from someone. So if you have trouble with this, you create “veils:” this where you just say, “Okay, you do that.” No description, just move on.

The more I heard about this, the more I liked it. Just tell your players, “If at any point, you don’t like what I’m talking about, just say, ‘Stop. That’s a line for me,’ and I stop.” I don’t have to go into as much explanation as this particular GM did, but then again, I’m not playing an RPG that people haven’t played in before. This may or may not work in everyday conversations, depending how comfortable you are with that person, but it’s good in this context.

How does making your lines in conversation/gaming work for you? Is this a new concept for you? Is this a bunch of touchy/feely clap trap? Let me know in the comments below!

Mad at the Mad Mage

1 Jul

Published adventures can be wonderful things – they give the DM great ideas, and make the whole gaming experience a treat. Most of the time, traditional DM’s use bits of what they read and then use it in their own homegrown campaigns.

I am not like most dungeon masters.

First off, I’m lazy I run a weekly D&D campaign at my local gaming shop on Roll20, and up until this whole pandemic, we offered D&D Adventurers League. For those of you unfamiliar, it allows players to take their same characters from one game to the next, without having to have the same weekly schedule, and allows DM’s the opportunity to pull in new players without having to go through the arduous process of finding them. After a year and a half, I have a solid group of six players who come every week. Some have left, some have joined, but solidly six… which is amazing.

So my son buys Dungeon of the Mad Mage and tries it out… but after running it with his players, gives up after one session. But it is the ultimate dungeon crawl – 20 levels of dungeons, massive monster lists, great challenges – I had to try this out!

Yes, it is beautifully written, amazing art, and great scenarios. There’s just one major flaw… it has no plot! To be fair, it has several plot ideas, but these are pretty flimsy and they will last for several levels, and then you’re stuck. Travelling between the levels is fun the first time, but then dull as hell going back, because you have to then return to Waterdeep (Level 0) to collect on the mission. So my players finish the first, then third, then the fifth mission, but then I have just start making up goals.

To be fair to WotC, their more recent adventure books have been great, but man, has it been difficult to make the campaign fun for my players. We should wrap it up pretty soon… then I’ve gotta figure out what to do next. Do you think I can convince my D&D Diehards to play Albedo? How do you handle a campaign that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? Write your comments below!

Furries… in… Space!

28 Jun

This is why you keep those old gaming books on your bookshelf. After a year and a half of my son (12 going on 13) only wanting to play Dungeons and Dragons every blessed weekend, I finally got a break. The #$@& shutdown pushed our weekly dungeon crawl online. With his school online, the last thing my boy wanted to do after eight hours of Zoom classes was four more hours of Zoom gaming.

So with me being burnout of D&D, and his sister (9 going on 10) having about an hour limit before getting bored with his campaign, my boy was at an impasse. I suggested, “What about this old game I could never get anybody to play?”

Once you get past the fact that it’s furries in space (no really, it’s “anthropomorphics”), it’s a really neat universe. It’s based on an 80’s comic book called Albedo. You play an officer in sci-fi military, fighting Nazi rabbits (not making this up), but despite that, the action is good and really deadly for both sides. This war pulls no punches and your players are right in the middle of it.

What makes this game perfect for small gaming groups is that you’re not only an officer, but you command four “supporting characters.” So your fireteam lives and dies by your actions, and if one or two dies, your player feels the grief of characters dying without slowing down the plot to make a new character.

There’s a learning curve to figuring out the system (true with any new system), and there are some aspects of the game that STILL aren’t clear, but I’ve played four sessions with my kids and they have a great time. Of course, my son is playing a murder hobo and my daughter is only interesting in promotion (and not developing her skills to be able to perform her job), but they’re happy!

If you want to try this out, the publisher put out the gaming engine (sans furries) as open source and called it Magenta. So if you weren’t lucky enough to win this in a gaming store contest, you can read it here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/m/product/128371

Meanwhile, I’ll keep you posted on my kids’ new combat engineer company as they fight their way across another planet.

American Legion Post 138

Damn Straight 138!

Tales from a broken doll

Short stories, poetry, musings and rambling.

Crack On

We have this treasure in cracked pots

Poteci de dor

"Adevărul, pur şi simplu, e rareori pur şi aproape niciodată simplu" - Oscar Wilde

Struggle Street

Mental Health and Well Being

O Miau do Leão

Uma pequena voz da Flandres

A Life's Journey

Little things matter 🌼

Dreamy_parakeet

A dreamer, who loves to muse her world and penned it down✍️ Each words in this blog lay close to my soul🧡

Harley Reborn

♠️Rip It Up & Start Again♥️

Talkin' to Myself

I'm listening

Nature Whispering

From Sunset to Dawn

Riverside Peace

The Official Website of Australian Writer Chrissy Siggee

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

How to feel better

Another year, a decade or a lifetime - sooth your body eternally

Looking to God

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

We may see things that we don't even imagine.

Decaf White

No sugar