We have a wide ranging list of links for you this week. Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Gelatinous Cubes. Game of Thrones and world creation. How do they all come into the story? Where do zombie walks fit in? How do I manage to use the phrase “top heavy” and romantic dwarves together, aside from the way you’re thinking? Read on to find out!
Paying the Cost to be the Boss
Holmes and Watson, the Doctor and Mary Jane, the Skipper and Gilligan. As I’m sure you’ve noticed right away, there’s a certain power dynamic in all those relationships. Unfortunately, it’s one that’s often difficult to portray in a role playing game.
As Charlie recently noted, it’s difficult for a lot of us to relinquish power. This sometimes results in a competition for the spotlight, and control of the game. Thankfully, this seems to be less of a problem now that my group is well out of our angsty teen years (physically at least).
In Walt Ciechanowski’s recent post at Gnome Stew, he suggests a method for solving this problem. I’ll warn you, though, as so often seems to be the case in RPGs, it involves negotiation and sharing. I know, I was shocked too.
- Rotating Alphas
Live and Let Die
Charlie recently asked us how we thought a certain endeavor of his would turn out. My first reaction was that somebody would betray somebody else, and everybody would die horribly. That’s when I knew I was reading too much Game of Thrones.
As much as I love the series, though, I’m not especially good at intrigue and backstabbing in my own games. Luckily, Keith Baker was here (by which I mean “on the Internets”) to save the day with a timely Q&A post at Dungeon Mastering. He gives several suggestions for setting up a Game of Thrones-esque campaign in D&D. Of course, you could also just play Houses of the Blooded, which takes care of a lot of this for you, but to each his own.
Sympathy for the
If you’ve ever watched a “zombie walk”, you’ll know that it’s pretty darn creepy, even though you know it’s all fake. Why is it, then, that new minted adventurers are never creeped out by real zombies? It’s because, of course, we all know that (in many systems anyway) they’re relatively low level cannon fodder.
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and this is certainly true of the creatures of the Monster Manual. In a post this week, Steve Winter attempts to rehabilitate the lowly Gelatinous Cube. After his description, I certainly take his point, that’d be pretty darn creepy.
Whole Lotta Love?
I once played out my character’s courtship of a princess. Both the GM and I were hairy dudes, so, as you might imagine, it was significantly awkward. To top it off, both the characters were dwarves, so nobody wanted to touch that with a ten foot pole (so to speak). We made extremely judicious use of “ye olde fade away.”
In another appearance by Gnome Stew, though, Stacey Thompson urges us to play out those romances. She’s got a point too. How much of our lives do we spend seeking out a relationship, and how much of our games are spent doing the same? I’ll bet it’s a pretty top-heavy ratio.
I talk a lot about research and history, but probably my favorite aspect of gaming is the storytelling and imagination involved. Without those, we may as well be playing Diablo or a choose your own adventure. I think that the part of RPGs that involves the most imagination is world creation.
Of course, it’s necessary for character creation and coming up with a game plot. Each of those, though, are both inspired and constrained by the world in which they appear. When you create a setting, though, the possibilities are endless.
Back at the Howling Tower, Steve Winter linked to his article in Kobold Quarterly, a paean to world building. As it happens, he mentioned one of our own tricks: a world wiki, with someone curating each country/region. It may be a lost art these days, with systems more focused on a central setting, but the article is definitely worth a read.