Catching up on #RPGaDay 2016

RPGaDay 2016

Well time flies doesn’t it? And I’ve had my head down all week, totally missing the start of RPGaDay, the hashtag campaign created by David Chapman, to celebrate August and Gen Con happening and I guess to raise the profile of RPGs generally within the Twittersphere. Normally I tweet a line or two and I still may, but as I’m generating content for this site before launching it on the world, and because I’ve missed five days. I thought I might catch up here.

Day 1: Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to roll?

Who doesn’t love the clatter of dice on table? Diceless games are fun in their way but, well, kind of predictable, much like Fate (Fudge) dice and even the stalward 2d6 of Traveller. I love the chance of extraordinary success (or failure!) so my slight preference is for systems with “exploding” dice like Feng Shui, Savage Worlds or L5R’s Roll and Keep system.

As to whether its actual bones or digital dice, well I have a soft spot for one of the earliest iOS apps, MachDice which was not only a great random number generator, but also made great early use of the iPhone’s capabilities with shake to roll and  a tilt for 3D effect. Back in the days when not everybody had a smartphone, its was simple tricks like this on a decent looking app that convinced people that the phone could be more than a toy (ironically). A quick aside, another iOS dice app, Dicenomicon is apparently scriptable, but also dreadful – avoid.

I’m a patron of Roll20, but actually my online gaming is best serve with a simple Google Hangout, enhanced with Dicestream, and elegant on versatile dice roller for on-line games.

At the table with friends though, I’ll opt for real dice 99 times out of 100.

Day 2: Best Game Session since August 2015

I’ve been running Fate with my old school mates. We meet every other month or so (sometimes not even as often as that) and rotate between four different GMs (and systems) so we don’t play Fate all that often. It was our first go with Fate, and we did it by the book, creating the game-world on the fly in our first session. In short it’s World War One veterans vs. Flesh-eating body snatching aliens. The paranoia levels have been mounting with each session and the last one we played it all came boiling over, with the players agreeing that absolutely crazy ideas were entirely rational. In an effort to capture one of the aliens alive and prove their sanity, they decided in an entirely “rational” way to murder two superior officers, who might have proved useful allies, but they decided “knew too much”. Their system of proving that they had not been taken over involved cutting the skin of their forearms, which they made a point of doing after every time that any of them had been separated, and this was only one of the many analogues for real mental illness (two of them started the campaign with PTSD) that they created through their actions and choices.

As GM, I’d of course prepared a scenario that went nothing like I planned. But it was one of the easiest session I’ve ever had to run, all I had to do was sit back and watch the mayhem.

Day 3: What character moment are you proudest of?

This one is easy. After almost 40 years of roleplaying, all the feats of heroism and derring-do have merged into one. In fact only one stands out, from first edition Warhammer (proper first edition when it was still a Role Playing game with mass combat, rather than a Mass Combat game, with a WHFRP spin-off). I was of an age when I invested a lot emotionally in any character I played. My Warhammer one was called Mithcollo Kirris (I think that how I spelt it), and he’s done pretty well for himself over the course of a campaign that my mate Andy G was running. I can’t recall exactly the circumstances, but he died, staying behind to hald back an army of snotlings, while the rest of the party legged it. But that’s not the character moment I’m proudest of.

The one I’m proudest of comes from towards the end of  Serenity RPG campaign my mate Dave S was running. My character Bobby Rashid had a wife who had, in the course of the campaign been kidnapped (she was a valuable psychic) and used as leverage. But we’d done what was required of us, or rescued her, or whatever and I’d brought her back the the settlement around which the campaign was based, where we lived on small holding. A casino has opened, and she was spending time their gambling. I went to confront her and she told me how much she hated our married life, how I’d trapped in a marriage and on a farm that she resented. This conversation all happening sotto voce at the casino’s bar while she drank whisky and I sipped espresso (espresso was a quick my character had). A quiet and devastating conversation with real pathos. Made more impressive in that it was two fat forty-odd year old blokes actually saying the words.

Day 4: Most impressive thing another’s character did

I could talk about an amazing die roll, like the time when an archer in L5R pretty much one-shotted the Scorpion clan General in a battle the Hare Clan was not meant to win, making my version of Rokugan forever divergent with the published materials. But I’m more interested in what a player (not their roll) made their character do to impress me. And that has to be a small moment but an important one, back in the late 90s.

I was running the first edition of Feng Shui. I was a very different system from what we’d played before, relying a lot more on the players’ ability to narrate the action, rather than be led by the dice. I was worried that my players wouldn’t “get it,” but when Andy G described his Killer standing though the sun-roof of a limo, both guns blazing, while the driver performed a hand-brake turn having rammed the gates of the enemy’s compound, I knew they did.

Day 5: What story does your group tell about your character?

Most recently? My Pendragon character being killed in his bed by another PC! (gumble moan)




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