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.
Of Mice & Men & Mice Again
Resident Intwischa design guru Matt recently posted a link on our group bulletin board about an article he had just finished. Ben Kuchera, “the guy who used to write about video games for Ars Technica and now writes about video games for Penny Arcade”, had just reviewed an RPG instead. Once I saw that the RPG in question was David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, I’ll admit I was skeptical.
Don’t you make the same mistake! By the end of the review, I wanted to play this game. (We’ll just go ahead and add it to the ever-expanding list.) Between the efficient playing time, the similarity to a favorite childhood book series (Redwall anyone?), and the FATE-style mechanics, I was hooked.
I think a lot of my intrigue has to do with our group’s new-found love for the FATE-style mechanics. It sounds like the combination of the “Dresden Files” RPG Aspect applications and the “Houses of the Blooded” dice pools dovetails nicely into our current fixation with games driven more by roleplaying than dice-rolling.
While the boxed set is certainly tempting, what with its cards, maps, and character sheets, I think I’m going to start off with the core rule book for around $30. That way, if my initial reaction proves to be right, I won’t feel bad wasting the cheese.
So I think I’ve hinted at this quite a bit in my posts here, but let’s just clear the air: I’m a control freak. I’m a ‘plan it all out, be prepared for every contingency, always know what’s going to happen’ kind of guy. While that has certainly helped some of my games, it’s also led to me feeling trapped in them sometimes. If I, as the GM, have felt this way, it really makes me worry about how players in those games have felt.
That’s why Keith Baker’s recent post about sandbox style games made me think about trying to reform some of those Type A tendencies when setting up a campaign. Specifically, it was this observation I really found compelling:
“One of the points of a sandbox game is to let the players have considerable control over the pacing. It’s an opportunity to do what they want to do.”
I know I made this observation once before, that my job as GM is not to make the players do what I want them to do. Sometimes, however, that’s how I end up feeling after a session. Much of that has to do with the strictly linear, overly outlined story I’ve fabricated months before. More often than not, the confines of such a structure leave me feeling weighed down. I think I’ve witnessed the evidence of similar feelings in the players during a recent game as well.
By contrast, I have a great deal of fun as a player when I’m in a game run by a “seat-of-my-pants” GM. Why? Because I like having control. And I’m an incurable control freak. Sometimes, however, I bet we’d all have more fun if I loosened up on the reins a bit. Thanks Keith!
Mad Tabletop Props
Finally, a combined ‘Cool Links’ and ‘Steal This Idea’ entry. Or at least I’m going to steal this idea.
The link below highlights one gamer’s efforts to build a 3D game tower to house the “Revenge of the Marauders” Dark Sun adventure in Dungeon #183. And I want one. It combines three of my favorite things, all at the same time: RPGs, model-building, and Dark Sun! As a recovering Warhammer junkie, I’ve spent my share (and your share and his share) of time building 28mm scale scenery for miniature combat. I even constructed a sailing vessel (complete with different decks and a mast) for our past nautical exploits, using clear stiff plastic to prop up the sides so players could see where they were fighting.
But this… This is something else. Four floors. Arcane sigils. Booby traps. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who would pay money for one of these. Or even to play on one of these. If you get one finished before I do, please email me so I can sneak into your game. Just amazing!