#RPGaDay2019 11th August: ‘Examine’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 11: Examine

When it comes to preparing for games or writing adventures I am trying to make a point to proactively examine my biases, though it is an ongoing process. One of the first changes I made was to randomly assign genders (we’re gamers – put those random number generators to use!) after drafting character descriptions and then to go back to see if I have an excessively skewed distribution. For convention characters I’m still working out the best approach. I’ve long included male and female names but am moving towards the PbtA style of having multiple suggestions and a gap for the player to write in their preferred choice. That has taken longer than it should have and I still need to update the Project Cassandra character sheets to present that choice. As I’ve tried to include a piece of character art for each of those I’ll probably include a caption on the artwork that uses a given name and then refer to the character by surname in the background.

I take the same approach when it comes to ethnicities – draft the character before I include a physical description or assign a name. I rely on stock art for most of my work so the process can take a little more time to find the right image but that’s no excuse to fall back to just using white characters. If I ever get to the point where I could run a kickstarter hiring artists would be one of the key reasons that I’d do so and I’d want to ensure that the results were diverse and representative.

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#RPGaDay2019 10th August: ‘Focus’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 10: Focus

My focus for the rest of the year is releasing material. I’ve got a backlog that I need to get through before I can begin to focus on newer ideas. The Slice of Life Adventure Starters are top of the list. I’ve enjoyed producing them but I had wanted to have them all done well before now, as opposed to still having two of the five left to produce. Talentless Hacks, inspired by the bonus episode will follow the same approach as those that I have released before, a relatively traditional mission structure with clear antagonist. Clean-up Crew is a different kettle of fish though as I’d like to release a playset for Fiasco. I’ve started putting it together but am finding it a surprisingly difficult task. On the surface it should be simple, a playset is merely a series of lists but ensuring that they all work, are thematically useful and help build the type of story fiasco strives for is a challenge.

#RPGaDay2019 9th August: ‘Critical’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 9: Critical

I wish the success of Critical Role would expand out more into the hobby as a whole. I’ve come across so many new gamers in the last few years that have been drawn in by the show but know of virtually nothing outside of D&D. The hardest part is that many aren’t even interested in trying a different game, whether due to a lack of interest in non-fantasy settings or from the belief that you can just reskin D&D 5th edition ad infinitum. I had hoped we’d seen the back of that after the bubble burst on the 3.5/d20 market. It’s especially frustrating as somebody that got into gaming through a society where virtually every table was running a different system. This isn’t to say that I blame Critical Role or wish it didn’t exist. I think they have made tremendous strides in attracting new people to the hobby and showcasing what is possible. I just wonder what they could achieve if they started expanding out into other systems rather than sticking almost exclusively to D&D. They’ve got a fanbase that would leap onto anything that appeared on the show, to the point that even just discussing a smaller game would probably boost its sales significantly.

#RPGaDay2019 8th August: ‘Obscure’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 8: Obscure

With the explosion of self-publishing, story games and indie RPGs it’s difficult to define what an obscure RPG is these days. In the technical sense the majority are as, unsurprisingly, all too many fall by the wayside. I don’t get to play as many small, less well known games these days (I don’t get to play all that many well known games either!) but if I were wanting to get back into that side of gaming I’d probably do so via The Gauntlet, who embrace small games through both their Codex magazine and their highly organised online games calendar. I briefly subscribed to Codex via the Patreon and would recommend it to anybody wanting to explore games that really push the boundaries of the hobby (I stopped only because it was clear that the games weren’t what I was looking for right now). Head over to gauntlet-rpg.com to find the blog, community forums and more details or to www.patreon.com/gauntlet to subscribe.

#RPGaDay2019 7th August: ‘Familiar’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 7: Familiar

One of my big bugbears is when players refuse to take the time to become familiar with the rules of a game. I’m sure I’ve blogged about this before but as a GM it can become frustrating when six months into a campaign I am still having to explain basic rules to players. I should be clear here in that I’m not talking about system mastery or expecting new players to know the rulebook inside out by the second session. I just want players to put a little bit of effort in outside of the session. With traditional games as the GM I’m already prepping sessions/encounters, having to remind somebody of the basic dice roll for the umpteenth time is a distraction from that I could do without.

#RPGaDay2019 6th August: ‘Ancient’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 6: Ancient

Ancient dragons may be a classic creature for D&D but I’ve yet to actually use one in a game for the simple reason that I really hate playing beyond the first tier (Levels 1-10). Go above that and I tend to think the game just slows down too much, the PCs are overpowered and the chipping away at HP becomes excruciatingly slow. How anybody plays all the way to level 30 is beyond me. This means that I spend a lot of time reskinning monsters, using the stats from an established creature as a quick tool to help with balance. As has been pointed out to me in the past D&D stands for Dungeons and Dragons, so why aren’t both given proper spotlight? I need to look through the DMs Guild to see if it has been done but I would really like a compressed version of monsters, allowing for lower tier play without sacrificing the many iconic creatures that the game has developed over the years.

#RPGaDay2019 5th August: ‘Space’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 5: Space

I want to write an epic space opera setting using either Cortex Prime or Faith Corps (the Demon Hunters system). It’s only in the early stages but my current thoughts are centred on a single system that was colonised after the discovery of alien megastructures that appear to have been built specifically for humanity. I’m still trying to work out overarching details of the setting before I even think about the themes I want to explore but my current aesthetics are 70s/80s novel covers and various animated sci-fi shows. When coming up with scenarios I often start with a big picture mental image from a single scene. Whether it’s the setup to a fight, with an aging dragon prowling around the PCs or a setting overview, in this case a dysons array of synchronised orbital platforms with enormous solar collectors.

The trick will be going from that picture and building up the questions and details into a framework for a game. There needs to be a clear ‘this is what you do / what this game is about’ that I can then use to refocus the mechanics. I think part of the reason so many space games have failed is that they have made the assumption that ‘fly around, shenanagins happen’ is enough. If you look at the majority of space opera novels they tend to have this established, deep setting but the drive of the stories comes from an external change that pushes the characters forward. That’s what I want when I get around to writing my own setting, something people can pick up and say ‘I know what the author wants me to do here.’