WISH 64: Deities and Demigods

This week’s WISH 64: Deities and Demigods asks:

Name three gods or religions that have appeared in games you’ve played in. Were they good, bad, or indifferent? What made them so?

In my very first D&D campaign ever, we were on our way to the dungeon when we passed a statue dedicated to some god or another. Some of the party made appropriate offerings to the statue, others did not. However, when I walked past without an offering, the statues eyes suddenly flared red, and I found myself cursed… it took quite a while to get rid of that one!

The gods are quite active in our current campaigns. In Adanflaen", there is an ongoing battle between followers of the Old Religion, whose gods demand human sacrifice and give power to their followers, and the new kinder gentler Three. The Gods are active in this world, and one is advised to remember that (unlike my first character all those years ago).

Aedor also has an integral and active god in a strongly religious society, which makes me wonder why my aetheist/agnostic friends would want to create and/or play in highly religious fantasy worlds <grin>…

posted at 5:10 pm on Friday, September 12, 2003 in WISH | Comments Off on WISH 64: Deities and Demigods

WISH 59: Games for Non-Gamers

WISH 59: Games for Non-Gamers asks the question:

Name three games you might use to get someone who has never roleplayed before into roleplaying.

My experience with dragging non players into games so far has been consistent. It doesn’t matter what game system you use; what matters is insulating the new player from all of the complicated stuff. We have always done this by having the GM manage all of the game mechanics for the new player, giving the person only a high-level description of the character. The player describes to the GM what they want to accomplish, and the GM handles the details of die rolls, spell casting, etc.

It has worked very well for us in the past. It is a lot of extra work for the GM, but it makes the player’s early exposure to roleplaying fun and positive. As they come back for more, you can then introduce more game mechanics.

Since we’re supposed to mention games, I’ll say that we’ve done this in the past with original Traveller, AD&D, and 2300AD. What makes this work is having an imaginative player and a creative GM, not the specific rules or genre of the game.

posted at 8:25 pm on Saturday, August 09, 2003 in WISH | Comments Off on WISH 59: Games for Non-Gamers

WISH 54: Background Hooks

Perverse Access Memory: WISH 54: Background Hooks

Do you like to have bits and pieces from your characters’ backgrounds appear in the game? Do you write hooks into your character background for the GM to use in the campaign for your character? Do you like it when the GM gives you a background hook into an adventure or scenario with a previously unknown hook, such as creating an old friend of your character’s who is somehow involved? What are some examples of cases where hooks have worked or not worked for you?

I love background hooks; they make a campaign more interesting, more integrated. We’re not just a random bunch of adventurers going dungeon crawling; we’re part of, and integrated with, the whole campaign setting. I’ve played straight hack’n‘slash campaigns, and integrated campaigns, and I much prefer the latter.

My friend Gerry is particularly good at this. In our ongoing 2300AD campaign, every PC had interesting, complicated hooks into the world at large, usually more than one. For the first year or so, I had a secret so good I didn’t know what it was (brainwashing for fun and profit). We had a spy from a competing corporation; an alien; a british secret agent; a brain transplant victim (she used to be my grandfather, IIRC); and others that I never learned. These backgrounds may sound strange, but they worked in our universe, and we managed to work quite well together as a team (except, of course, for those times when it was more fun to do otherwise :-).

Our current GM likes background hooks too. All of us have some sort of connection with an umbrella organisation. For many, it is the church (the campaign is set in a religious world; see Adanflaen Nights for details). I’m employed by a powerful guild. We’re also a family, which gives us all spaces for “how we met” stories in the future.

I’m certainly open to having background stories added whenever necessary; long lost friends or relatives, for example, make a game more interesting (Oh no! Do I take the treasure, or rescue my mother’s cousin?).

I’ve seen this go to far, though. In our previous campaign, our characters were thrown together by outside forces, and our backgrounds were diverse enough that we were never a cohesive team. Character motives were being decided by background and temperament, not by the adventure or any group goals. Eventually, we gave up and rolled up our current characters (in the same world; in fact I think one of us is related to one of our old characters).

posted at 11:59 am on Thursday, July 03, 2003 in WISH | Comments (1)
  1. WISH 54: Background Hooks
    On character background and plot hocks.

WISH 47: Lessons Learned

Another WISH (WISH 47: Learning Your Lesson) has caught my attention:

Name one lesson you learned in gaming that you will (hopefully) never have to learn again.

I guess I’ve been fortunate; I’ve never experienced the kind of interpersonal conflicts that others described in their responses…

Instead, my biggest lesson has been a game-playing one. In many cases, combat means you’ve failed; all that’s left is damage control. Sure, sometimes you’re there to clear all of the monsters out of a dungeon; hack and slash away in those cases! But sometimes the opponent is bigger/better/stronger than you, and combat will get you killed (or worse, locked away by the city guard :-). With a good game master, shrewd negotiation will get you a better prize than death and destruction. Besides, it’s more fun!

My first experience with this was in my very first adventure, over a decade ago. The party was a group of (low level) outsiders recruited (conscripted?) to solve a murder; since some of the town officials were suspects, the local lord needed outsiders.

The local town council had been around for a long time, and they all knew and trusted each other. We had managed to figure out which ones were guilty, but didn’t have enough hard evidence to convince the others. However, we’d managed to spook them enough that one of the perps attacked us.

During the ensuing melee, the town guard showed up. One of the party turned and fired at them. We were slaughtered.

The DM told us later that if we hadn’t dragged the guard into the combat, they would not have interfered. We would have survived; they would have combined our findings with the evidence they already had, and arrested and convicted the bad guys.

Ever since then, I’ve had a bias towards shooting last, instead of first. You might notice this if you read Adanflaen Nights Alex tends to try to talk her way out of situations. She did that last week when she jumped out of a tree unarmed, instead of shooting from concealment. Of course, she’s not stupid; she never drops her guard, and is perfectly willing to remove someone’s throat when negotiation has failed :-)

posted at 8:36 pm on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 in WISH | Comments (2)
  1. Ginger says:

    I’ve also found it very interesting that so many people have posted meta answers. I didn’t intend for things to go that way despite the fact that I posted a meta lesson myself (and one that encapsulates several other lessons I’ve seen posted).

    I’m glad to see that some people are posting character/play-related lessons.

  2. Arref says:

    That’s a good answer.

WISH 44: Picking Games

Perverse Access Memory: WISH 44: Picking Games

I’ve been reading PAM (and its predecessor) Since about WISH 27. This week’s question prompted me to finally answer one. At some point I’ll go back and fill in other interesting ones.

How do you choose games to join or to run? What factors influence you: timing, people, system, genre, etc.? Do you weigh different factors for different kinds of games, e.g., online vs. tabletop vs. LARP? Is it a group decision or a decision you make on your own?

The overwhelming factor in my life is time, althought this manifests in several ways.

I’ve been gaming for about 17 years now. I’ve only played in a few ongoing games, because I can barely find the time for one campaign at a time; I’m forced to be selective. They’ve always been tabletop games; I’d love to try a PBeM game sometime, but I haven’t found one I think I’d like enough to commit regular (weekly or better) time to. LARP isn’t for me; I’m a technician, not an actor.

My current Rolemaster campaign has been running for 5 years, and the 2300AD campaign before that was longer. I like long running campaigns. If I’m going to commit the time to develop a character and explore a world, I want it to be a going concern, not a simple dungeon crawl or two (those are fun, but I prefer single day, tournament style for those). It takes a long time for me to develop and then flesh out a character, and I do that best inside a campaign, interacting with the world and my fellow characters.

I like games that meet regularly, but not too often. Both of my campaigns tried meeting weekly, but ended up with longer monthly sessions instead. My fellow gamers (and our spouses) are willing to commit one day per month to gaming, and schedule other things around Game Day. With a weekly meeting, we’d always have someone away, making continuity difficult.

I don’t have a strong preference for any particular system. I’ve played AD&D, Champions, Traveller, 2300, GuRPS, and now Rolemaster. There are two exceptions though; I like the magic system in Rolemaster much better than in any other system I’ve tried, and I love the simple task resolution system in MegaTraveller and 2300AD.

What this really means is that I’ll play whatever game system (and genre/setting) that the GM wants to play. That’s how I got into all of the games listed above; the GM wanted to run a particular game, and asked for players…

I’ve played several genres, but I like classic low-tech, fantasy realms with magic the best. When I play SF or superheros, I tend to play myself in a spacesuit (or in a cape) In fantasy worlds I can dtop into a character more easily.

People are the second most important factor for me. I strongly prefer gaming with people I know, and preferably people I know well. That limits my options, even though about half of the Gang are roleplayers. There are just too many opportunities for strife and discord in gaming environments; getting to know a new group of people is risky given my time restrictions.

In short, roleplaying done right is a large time commitment, and as I don’t have a lot of free time, I’m forced to be selective. A good GM and a good bunch of players (usually my friends) are the biggest consideration for me. After that, whatever the GM wants to run is fine by me!

posted at 4:02 pm on Friday, April 25, 2003 in Gaming, WISH | Comments (3)
  1. Arref says:

    Sounds like you are a “classic mature gamer”. Your point about “willing to commit one day per month to gaming” is one I neglected to talk about.

    Good show.

  2. Arref says:

    btw
    really like your clean blog design
    kudos

  3. RJ says:

    Harald in a spacesuit & cape.

    The mind boggles.