Mr. Turtle, How Many Links Does It Take: Cool Stuff From the Week of April 10

Cool Links Art and Media gming Improv Inspiration

Most of Intwischa’s best traffic is sent to us by other gaming blogs, and several bloggers have been kind enough to provide commentary or links to one of our articles (and, by extension, grant us a traffic bump). With that in mind, I’d like to share with you some articles that I bookmarked from the previous week, as well as some reflections I have on the posts.

Somehow I managed time this week to follow links from both fellow Intwischa contributors, related posts to those contributors, and articles that linked from those related posts.  I even got to game one night, using our tried & true Virtual Gamer setup.  All in all, I’m feeling pretty inspired thanks to all of these fellow members of the role playing community.  In the following links, you can read about GM angst, D&D art, and improv adventure tips.  Happy reading!

Musings on Moral Mutiny

I’ve written a couple posts to date on how in-game actions can cause real-life aggravation, so I could certainly sympathize with Chris Dias after reading his article below.  After months of planning as a GM, it’s frustrating when the party eschews your carefully crafted storyline for another thread altogether.  How much more angst is added when the players ignore not only the story, but the ethical consequences and considerations as well?

What I found interesting was the author’s surprise at his players’ attempt at justification and their attitude of moral relativity.  Most RPGs involve a sliding scale of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and even the strictest alignment or code will usually be sacrificed on the altar of good story-telling.  That a player, or group of players, would try to defend their actions, regardless of the harm they’ve caused, strikes me as pretty commonplace.  Human nature almost seems to demand it.

Strangely, I had an equal and opposite reaction take place during our last Cabin Trip game; that is, rather than remain ambivalent about in-game events, one of the characters/players was unexpectedly outraged at what transpired.  Their offense and indignation at what transpired was certainly understandable, but it also translated into a tense series of encounters for the party.  While it was possible to manipulate the in-game consequences of this visceral response, the real-life reactions around the table were less controlled.  That included my own reaction.

That fourth wall that exists between the role playing action and the reality of what the group has invested can be paper-thin sometimes.  When there’s a disparate gap between the two, things can become downright uncomfortable.  The mistake I almost made during that Cabin Trip encounter was to take the actions of a character personally, and translate them to real-life angst because they didn’t meet my approval or expectations.  Sadly, human nature sometimes seems to demand that too.

I’m happy to say the situation was resolved quickly, both for the characters and the players.  Still, sometimes it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who takes the game personally once in a while.

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Pull Up Your Gaming Trousers

Shortly after Intwischa launched, Charlie posted his thoughts about ‘GMing with pants on.’  His perplexing pants obsession in this article certainly gave me a chuckle when I read it, but it also let me see into the mind of someone who wasn’t a detail-obsessed neurotic plan-a-holic who had to map out every possible thread of the story to derive any enjoyment or satisfaction from a campaign.  In short, it was nice to see how the other half thinks.

When the title of the post below caught my eye last week, I thought someone else had linked to Charlie’s article on their site.  Instead, it turns out that Charlie isn’t the only one who thinks that it’s ok to improvise certain parts- or all the parts- of a role playing game.  What is this hobby coming to?!

The reason I bookmarked this post, and have read it several times since, is that Mike prefaces his ideas with the foundational truth that improvisation takes practice.  As with any other skill that one would like to develop, being creative on the fly requires some experience, both good and bad, at making it happen.  In other words, if you’re GMing by the seat of your pants you may want to wear several pair.

Especially relevant to any GM are the exercises in inspiration and creative thinking that he recommends.  Not only does he outline methods to get your creative juices flowing, he also provides a list of (highly stealable) examples for hooks, ideas, and story lines.  I tried the Newspaper Challenge over the holiday weekend, using the Detroit Free Press as my guide.  Needless to say, I’m still digging out great bits.  Thanks Detroit.

Oh, and you too Mike!

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WOTC Announces Artist Contest!

Ok, no real jokes to be had here.  If you’ve ever spent hours drawing your favorite cleric, or churning out renderings of your party’s campaign world, the link below is for you!  Wizards of the Coast have put out an open call for artist submissions, in an effort to recruit ‘prospective illustrators starting with the next iteration of the game.’

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for years!  And while I have realistic expectations about my odds for any tangible success, it should be a hell of a lot of fun to try.  I’ve already started working on a few sketches this weekend, so I have a head start on any of you who just learned about the contest from reading this post.  That said, I’m wildly out of practice and easily distracted, so best of luck to any of you who decide to submit some samples!

Be sure to update us on your progress if you enter.  We’d love to feature your efforts here at Intwischa!

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  1. [...] Assembly from Gamer Assembly, Chris Hackler’s “What’s Up With D&D?” at ENWorld, and BryanMD posted a great list of cool stuff at Intwischa as well. There’s definitely plenty of news go go [...]