Role Playing

I’m going on an adventure… and I’m bringing some ambiance!

I’m going on an adventure… and I’m bringing some ambiance!

That’s ambiance, not Ambien which is what my spell check keeps trying to correct it to. Go home spellcheck, you’re drunk.

I am a huge fan of the environment of an activity actually FITTING the activity, which is why I almost never play Tetris while snorkeling, and I have never attempted to learn Swedish at a rock concert, but I do find that a comfy couch and fuzzy blanket work for both.

A well set mood

A well set mood- Photo by Gustavo Fortunato

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Rock and Role: Magic and Technology

Mixing tech and magic can be a rough combination in a setting. There are a few settings that do it markedly well; Shadowrun from Catalyst Labs (and formerly FASA) is among a rare few that do it in an exceptional manner. Sometimes the mix is off-putting to players and GMs alike. It turns into a contest of “You got magic in my technology!” “No, you got technology in my magic!” In the end, perhaps it’s just not a good match for some game groups.

However, for those that want to try it, it can be done to great effect, but there have to be a few ground rules.

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Rock and Role: The Fighter, Part 2

Last week we touched on the different types of fighters that exist in the game environment, boiling them down to the attributes that suit them best. Last week I went over the classic physical attributes of Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. This week I’ll be hitting the lesser-used attributes of Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.

There might be some who consider these attributes to be a little more esoteric when it comes to your fighters. A lot of us will use these as our dump stats, and when we roll a great set of attributes…but it has an 8 in it…we use one of these three for that 8. Usually, it’s Charisma, and we justify it by the fighter being rough around the edges and scarred from years of combat. That makes solid sense, as does the fighter who fights because he’s big on brawn and little in the brains department, or an otherwise smart character who has just had his bell rung too many times and it’s affecting his IQ.

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Rock and Role: The Fighter

Fighters come in all shapes and sizes, but many of you have an iconic fighter that just came to mind when you read that word. For some of you, it’s a massive warrior in gothic plate mail, for others it could be a swashbuckler that is almost more rogue than fighter, others might have seen a lean brawler, and still others might have seen a mountain of muscle that makes pro-wrestlers look like 10-year-olds. Those are just the melee guys; that’s not even touching ranged fighters with bows, guns, or throwing weapons, and it doesn’t get into every other variant imaginable.

All of them are fighters; all of them have the job of being the damage-dealing brutalizers of the battlefield. However, each of them have a certain panache with how they do that, and that it largely determined by their statistics and attributes, not to mention the player’s playing style. I’ll run down a few of these; and I’m sticking with the old-school stats and not going into prestige classes or other specializations; just going through the list to see what role playing does for our simple fighter.

Today is all about the physical fighters.

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Rock and Role: Back in the Day

I started gaming in the early 90’s. That may seem like ancient history to some of you, might be nostalgic for others, and for the rest of you, that might make me just a rookie yet. Back in the day, we didn’t have all the flash and dazzle that are in games today, we didn’t have 1000 prestige classes, and we didn’t have scores of books of to use for player options. When I got into D&D 2nd Edition, there were handbooks for classes and races, but nothing unbalancing or broken were in their pages (except for the Elves Handbook). The biggest advantage was in kits, what was the predecessor of modern prestige classes.

I think games back then required more imagination than the mainstream games of today. You had to decide what you wanted your character to do and how your character reacts and the tactics to use. The role playing itself was much more involved, the game wasn’t as broken. There are still systems today that emulate this level of play; but most seem to gravitate toward being as broken in one direction as possible and hoping that the rest of the party balances that out.

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Rock and Role: When Good Role Playing Kills

Every once in a while you get a player who is seemingly punished for good role playing. They make decisions that are catastrophically bad for themselves or for the party, but it is what the character would do, so they do it. At times like that, it might feel almost like a heroic sacrifice or comedy relief, but either way, it moves the story forward. But what about the times it doesn’t? What about the times the player looks at his sheet and says “There is no way that this character would go along with this plan. It’s like jumping off a bridge onto sharp rocks!”

So the character does something else. Maybe it’s something seemingly innocuous like alternate travel plans; taking an overland route instead of using the make-shift boat to get down river. Maybe the boat seems like a horrible idea, maybe the player played “Oregon Trail” one too many times, maybe the character has a secret water phobia. Sure, traveling overland is about 10 times more dangerous and will take twice as long, but for whatever reason, it makes more sense to the character, the player, or both.

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Rock and Role: Adapting your Roleing to your Rolling

You did it. You created the perfect character for your playing style, and she’s exactly the type of character you want to play. From attributes to attitude, she’s the perfect incarnation of a character you’ve been dreaming of playing. You bring your new pride and joy to the table, sit down, let the GM have a look at her, and even the GM is impressed. The game starts to unfold; everyone is leaving the shackles of the real world behind them while they get into character for the game session.

Then it’s your turn. It’s your character’s time to shine. The GM practically crafted this situation specifically for you so everyone understands exactly why your character was made and why you wanted to play her. You state your action, everyone is impressed, and you have a huge smile on your face as you pick up your dice and drop them on the table.

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Rock and Role: The Con Hangover!

I’m taking a quick derivation today to talk about Nanocon. This is the convention that Silver Gryphon Games uses to end its con year on. Living in the midwest United States, the traveling weather gets dicey this time of year, so we don’t travel much between November and February. We go out on Nanocon for the year because it is one of our favorite conventions!

This small con in Madison, South Dakota is well worth the trip for anyone who wants to go. They have speakers from the RPG industry, and they have speakers from the video game design industry as well. The convention itself is held at the Dakota State University campus, which houses a reputable and growing game design major. The quality and organization of the convention is something that is usually not found in cons under 3000 people in attendance, and that is due largely to the convention staff having an attitude of constant improvement along with an unbridled passion for experimenting.

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Rock and Role: Welcoming new blood

Something magical happens when you have a player completely new to gaming sit down at your table. Usually, it grinds everything to a halt. Even with everyone’s best intentions at work, it usually turns into a situation of too many cooks in the kitchen. Too many people start giving what is ordinarily excellent advice, but with three people giving it, that advice becomes overwhelming in a big hurry. It is especially overwhelming for people who have never thrown dice before,

The easiest way to handle that situation is to isolate the new individual. Talk to the new gamer, make sure that the gamer is comfortable and talk about role playing, and give ideas if necessary. Most new gamers can readily relate to books and movies, but find out what the gamer enjoys and try to pull examples from those sources. Once the concept of role-playing is understood by the new gamer, it is time to get some basic mechanics explained.

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I’m going on an Adventure… and I have a pocketful of dice!

Even though  I know it’s a very small collection (so far) here is a picture of the dice I’ve already begun acquiring.

photoSo… the first time I looked at dice I thought “Ohhhhh shiny!!!” and they found a place of honor on my desk where I could look at them and admire them and I start making plans to buy more in other colors and variations.

This is the same principle I apply to shoes so it did not really shock me to find that  my mind went there…. BUT….. at least with shoes I knew what to do with them. The same could NOT be said for my knowledge of dice up until now.  My entire experience with dice had been the 6 sided cubes required for to play Trouble and Monopoly, where I knew you rolled it and moved your little game piece that number of squares.

So what DO I do with them?

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