RPGaDay: Favourite non-rpg thing to come out of rpging

On August 31st and last day of RPGaDay, the topic is my favourite non-rpg thing to come out of rpging. I had to think a bit about this one. I have to say, my favourite would be all the contacts I’ve made over the decades.

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I’ve made many friends and acquaintances over the years. Some contacts are good and some were not so good. I find them valuable as they permitted me to learn and experience. Those contacts showed me that rpging is a social game. I find that very valuable.

As I started with “Livres dont vos êtes le héros” also known as Choose Your Own Adventure books, I find the social experience important. I’m not this nerdy kid with his nose in a book who rolls dice or makes a decision and then consults which paragraph to flip to. I still have my nose in a book or pdf most of the time but when the game start, I interact with friends.

These contacts also permitted me to experience various things. I travelled to various conventions or organized game days around the world to play with different folks. I play-tested various games which either game out with my input influencing it or never came out for various reasons. I got to participate in various competitions (ex: Game Chef) and receive feedback from folk who are passionate of rpgs like I am.

Through trying and meeting folks, I went from being a regular guest of the Tome Show Book Club to guest host and now co-host. A fun experience which combines my love of reading and practising to speak in public without really being in public.

I’ve helped organize local clubs, manage local D&D encounters group, and now I’m one of the organizers of CanGames, Canada’s longest running tabletop games convention, which is celebrating its 40th annual convention in 2016. I am hoping you can join us and celebrate.

My favourite non-rpg thing is the community and building it. It’s not a finished job and there is still work to improve it. I imagine a community where anything who wishes to play a game can do so comfortably. Unfortunately, there are many social and political issues which I see or don’t see which unfortunately prevents certain folks to enjoy participating in a game. I’m still learning to notice them and especially notice societal habits in me which can be problematic. I’m not perfect and I make mistakes. I feel bad when I do but I try to learn and improve. I’m always happy to learn new stuff.

What is your favorite non-rpg thing to come out of rpging? How has it changed you?

I’d like to thank Dave Chapman to organize RPGaDay. I had fun doing it and it got me back to writing every day. Now I’ll go get some new topics for later.

RPGaDay: Favourite RPG playing celebrity

On August 30th, the topic of the day is my favourite RPG playing celebrity. Honestly, I don’t follow many lives of celebrities. I view them as fellow folks who have their right of privacy. So, unless they announce it, I might not know they play rpgs. Of those celebrities who have announced it, I prefer Wil Wheaton.

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Even though my first experience of Wil Wheaton was in Star Trek: The Next Generation playing Wesley Crusher, I didn’t know he played games until his show Tabletop. By following Tabletop, I learned a few things about his loved on games. I learned his was on the Acquisitions Inc game a few years before I heard of it.

I love his passion he shows for games. His show, Tabletop, has done a great effect on the tabletop games industry. When he won the Diana Jones Award in 2013, I felt it deserved the win. I love his enthusiasm over games and how he encourages families to play games together.

As I grew up, my family played games together. I loved it and still do. Seeing Wil Wheaton play with his family on Tabletop brought a joy to my face.

At Ottawa Comiccon 2015, Brenda and I got to take a picture with Wil and Anne Wheaton. I wanted both because it show two couples who plays games together although I never played a game with Wil and Anne. Brenda plays a great game of Risk Lord of the Rings. We enjoy playing Settlers of Catan card game and Arkham Horror. For rpgs, she is creative and smart.

I found Wil Wheaton to be approachable at conventions even though I’m highly nervous. For rpgs, I enjoyed his style on his rpg show, Titansgrave. He encourages the other players ideas and makes them shine. He doesn’t focus too much on the rules although Fantasy Age is light on rules which permits such play. He appears to be a great improviser.

Which rpg playing celebrity do you enjoy? Why do you enjoy them?

RPGaDay: Favourite RPG website/blog

On August 29th, the topic of the day is my favourite rpg website/blog. I follow a variety of different gaming blogs. I’m not up to date on all of them. My favourite would have to be Gnome Stew.

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Gnome Stew is a site dedicated to help out folks who take on the role of GM. The blog is system agnostic. They share many ideas which can used for rpgs. They also review review a variety of rpgs. Being an eclectic gamer, I enjoy it since I can grab stuff to apply to any game.

They are also responsible for a series of books through their publishing house, Engine Publishing. For inspiration, they have the books, Masks and Eureka, for NPC ideas and scenarios respectively. For management tips, they released, Never Unprepared and The Odyssey, which tackle session preparation and campaign management. They have their latest books, Unframed and Focal Point, which deal with tips on improvisation and running great game sessions. Those last two, I have read yet.

When someone asks for tips on the GM role, I give some tips and add you can find more at the Gnome Stew site. Their advice helps from all players of various experience levels. A new player taking the GM role gets great lessons to learn how to best approach a game. An experience playing gets new tools or a refresher on their tools for the GM role.

Another blog site which I enjoy is G*M*S Magazine which delivers great reviews of a wide variety of games. They are not limited to rpg and delve into board games, card games and miniatures. Their associated podcasts are entertaining in following news in the hobby. As I love games in general, I enjoy reading their reviews and articles about latest news and upcoming products in the games industry.

What rpg site do you enjoy? What rpg blogs do you recommend I follow and why?

RPGaDay: Favourite game you no longer play

On August 28th, the topic of the day is my favourite game I no longer play. Since 1990, I have played many different games. I have enjoyed many of those games. Only one comes straight in my mind that I wish to play again but I haven’t played in several years. The game system is Fudge by Steffan O’Sullivan.

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Fudge is a universal system which uses a descriptive trait ladder. Yeah, a few years ago, I played a few sessions of Deryni Adventure Game which uses the Fudge system. In the late 1990s, I played a lot of the Fudge system. I played the role of GM for my own fantasy campaign, which I had modified from D&D. I was GM for one-shots at conventions.

In fact, at conventions (most notably CanGames), I would give out dice to players who participated in my adventures. I would either buy them or the wonderful Ann Dupuis of Grey Ghost Press, Inc would send me boxes of Fudge dice to give. Ann Dupuis was very generous of the amount of dice she would ship out. I stopped running Fudge at CanGames when I started having trouble mustering enough players for an adventure.

At conventions, my favourite Fudge game to play was Terra Incognita. I’ve spoken about it before over here.

For my Fudge campaign, I called it the Pheonix Experiment. It was trying to restore a world known as Beta Pictoris. I got the name from an article I read in high school of a potential discovered planet and their speculation on its conditions. I expanded on it and it was a world which was the source of magic in the universe. The setting was science fantasy with ether ships from Earth exploring the cosmos. The campaign started out in AD&D 2nd during my university years. I decided to return to the world and moved it 10 years later.

In Fudge setting, the world of Beta Pictoris was destroyed. The source of magic had shattered and various factions based on different schools of magic were trying to re-establish magic but on their own terms. If you were a magic user, the source of magic you tapped would fluctuate based on location and time. The amount of fluctuation was based on how far or close were the school from where you were. A narrative decision to determine a mechanical modifier. One major NPC returned from the original AD&D2nd camapgn, Norak, an elf illusionist who was now living through life support & interacting with the character as an illusion.

The group in that campaign were varied. Brenda played Sal, a human rogue who made pacts with shadow and go a shadow servant. A friend played a naga exiled princess with a manservant who had a shadowy past (he was an assassin sent by her family but we never got to finish that story). Another friend played a hobgoblin barbarian. Someone played a halfling healer and someone played a human necromancer with a sentient skeletal horse familiar. I played the skeletal horse family like Eeyore and one it got them into trouble.

Once, the horse remembered it hadn’t eaten in awhile so figured it must be hungry. It left the area near the dungeon entrance where it was left and went to the local village. It caused quite a stir in the village who had never seen this skeletal horse. Luckily, the party rescued the village from the skeletal horse who had been eating the horse feed and scaring the other horses.

I have other stories from that campaign like when the group decided to ignore the adventure and spent an evening at a dwarven tavern getting hilariously drunk. The player who was the shy halfling healer described how her drunk character was offering body shots by the end of the night. In the morning, the group had to rescue the hobgoblin from being dissected by the tavern owner’s daughter who had aspirations to enter the medical field.

I have fond memories of the Fudge system. I’d return to it in a heartbeat and I miss not playing it these days.

What game have you highly enjoyed playing and you miss? What fun stories do you have of your play?

RPGaDay: Favourite idea for merging two games into one.

On August 27th, the topic of the day is my favourite idea to merge two games into one. I love mash-ups. I love mixing two different products into one and imagine how they interact. I have an idea in my mind to merge Pendragon by Greg Stafford and Call of Cthulhu by Sandy Petersen.

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My idea comes more from a story sense. Since Pendragon involves generational play and the Cthulhu Mythos has some plots which spans a long amount of time. Additionally, you have generations of Deep Ones in the mythos. I imagine a player knight discovering their heir has the Innsmouth look because his wife is a glamoured deep one. I feel those two could possibly work together.

Pendragon involves passionate characters and strong emotions. In Call of Cthulhu, the sanity mechanic is a rather simplistic personality mechanic. In the Cthulhu Mythos stories, you see strong emotions from folks. I could see it work with Pendragon’s personality mechanics.

In Pendragon, you have various mystery cults which you make them cults from the Cthulhu mythos. The deities are worshipped secretly. I’d just have to make a list of personality traits to represent the various cults.

In a way, Pendragon and Basic Roleplaying are close. Both systems use a roll under system. The difference is Pendragon uses a d20 and Call of Cthulhu uses a d100. This is a multiple difference of 5. A quick modification would be to either divide Call of Cthulhu monsters skills by 5. For Pendragon, you can multiply by 5 to get into Call of Cthulhu. I would need to make more changes to make it work as the skill list are very different.

I’ve place notes for myself. It is a project which I plan to work on from time to time. I refer to the Cthulhu Britannica book, Avalon: The County of Somerset for some ideas. It has some cool links in that book.

What two games do you wish to merge together? How would you do it?

RPGaDay: Favourite inspiration for a game

On August 26th, the topic of the day is my favourite inspiration for a game. Over the decades, I’ve been inspired by many sources. I’ll talk my current inspiration which is fueling me, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.

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Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is a Japanese animated series inspired from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. The series follow a group of teens who try to uncover the secret of the jewel known as the Blue Water. Along the way, they becomes passengers of the Nautilus, friends with Captain Nemo and face the secret organization known as the Neo-Atlanteans.

I watched the series over a decade ago while I was in University. I have the DVDS and watch it again from time to time. I’ve used it several times for scenario inspiration for Terra Incognita by Scott Larson. I’ve had NAGS society members do an escort duty for bringing Nadia, the main character of the series, to a circus which she starts the series in..

I love the Neo-Atlanteans who wish to regain the lost power and rule of Atlantis. I’ve had ideas in mind to plan a campaign surrounding Atlantis for years.

Lately, I’ve been reading books about Atlantis as research for such a campaign. There many interesting ideas in what Occult Atlantologist think for a fictional campaign. There are several historical figures which studied Atlantology and have their own ideas. You can use them as characters in a campaign as either protagonists or antagonists.

Folks think Atlantis was in many areas of the world. This adds the mystery to a game and potentially make a group determine what is actually true. Honestly, it doesn’t matter which theories are true but what the characters believes and what they will do.

I still plan to organize it using Terra Incognita as a game. I find it appropriate having a secret society inspired from National Geographic Society exploring the secrets of Atlantis. Additions, NAGS society has submarines which means it can explore the underwater remains.

What inspires your games? What is currently inspiring you and what are you doing with it?

RPGaDay: Favourite revolutionary game mechanic

On August 25th, the topic of the day is my favourite revolutionary game mechanic. Game designers have thought up many new fascinating game mechanics over the decades. My favourite one is the leading questions which were first pointed out to me in Dread by  Epidiah Ravachol and Nathaniel Barmore.

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You ask a leading question in various different ways. In Dread, you will ask those questions during character creation. They help establish a skeleton of the scenario and permits players to fill in the details. I find it powerful as you easily get buy-in from the players as their answers contribute to the world or scenario you are playing.

I’ve seen leading questions used in the campaign of Night Witches by Jason Morningstar. In each duty station, the group gets a list of leading questions which helps form their current environment. I found it useful to bring familiarity of the region to the group. Instead of having exposition, you get the group think up ideas to fit in a certain situation. A player gets attached to their ideas and thus seeing in play forms a link.

In Microscope by Ben Robbins, you use leading questions to frame scenes in your history. You’ve already shaped the situation and now the group plays through a scene with the goal is the answer to the leading question. Instead of having a sentence as a goal, you have a question. Many of us are curious and dislike an unanswered question and thus the answer to the leading question is a great goal to strive for.

While playing Headspace by Mark Richardson, you get to ask a leading question while exploring a flashback scene. I managed to alter our mission by asking one question. Our widowed pilot had lost his wedding ring in a previous scene. His flashback was about his wife. When I got to ask a question, I asked “What is more important, getting your wedding ring back or finishing our mission?” His answer shaped the rest of the session.

In Dungeon World by Sage LaTorra & Adam Koebel., I see leading questions done differently through bonds. You see regular leading questions too. With bonds, you have a sentence with blank spots which the player fills with another PC’s name. I see this develop a discussion between both players on how the band formed.

As you see, I find leading question very versatile in games. They are easy to adapt and inspire cooperation within the group. I find the strongest leading question are open over closed. An open question had lots of details to game over just a simple yes or no. 

What is your favourite revolutionary game mechanic? How is it applied in your games?