They say that one who likes sausage should never watch sausage being made. That’s never been a theory we’ve ascribed to at Intwischa. We’re fans of exploring both the fruits of the creative process and the process itself. We like looking at elements like archetypes and exploring how they can both help and hurt gaming. And we’ll even explore our own history for those “disgusting sausage” moments to think about the gamers we’ve become.
Today is links day, and I’ve been working very hard to come up with a connection between “sausage” and “links,” but I got nothing. Needless to say, here is a veritable skillet full of links for your perusal!
From the “Imagination is Healthy” Files
Over the last week or so, my RSS reader has been inundated with many cool links from outside the roleplaying blogosphere that have each got me thinking, “Huh, that’s a great idea for a game!” These links each have to do with some cutting-edge technology or product being executed in some practical way–from a tangible dynamic terrain map to a robotic dog-shaped pack mule for hauling Marines’ gear to a living cockroach being mind-controlled by his human overlords.
The first of these ideas, by the way, was directly inspired by the X-Men movie. And I’ve gotta think the people who came up with the robotic dog are at least aware of Tenser and his floating disk.
I don’t know whether I’ll use these ideas directly in games, but the spirit behind them will certainly permeate my games. This is what I love about gaming (and creativity in general); it is a blank slate from which the previously unthinkable emerges. For all those times Daddy said, “When you gonna live your life right,” these links are the clear response that gamers just gotta have fun.
- Make It So Draws Design Lessons From Science Fiction (Plus: Our 7 Favorite Sci-Fi-Inspired Products) from Wired
- DARPA’s Robotic ‘AlphaDog‘ Could Give Soldiers’ Gear a Lift from PC Magazine
- Researchers take full control of cockroach’s movement, turn it into a wireless sensor from Engadget
- The Benefits of Role Playing from Intwischa
- Playing outside the box from Intwischa
I have a love/hate relationship with archetypes. They’re insanely useful, but acknowledging them has always felt to me like opening Schrodinger’s box. In other words, once I have recognized or admitted an archetype, I feel trapped.
If this is why I hate archetypes, Dave’s Too Many Pillars article critiquing the race/class/background/specialty model of D&D Next explains why I love them. Dave describes the character possibility of the “Stout Halfling Cleric (War) Thief Dual Wielder.” You remember that one guy form Lord of the Rings, the hobbit who retired from the military to the clergy after the threat of a discharge for robbing from the quartermaster? You know, the one who carried two hammers?
Yeah, neither do I. While I don’t have the background in D&D Next to intelligently comment on Dave’s critique, I do feel like there needs to be a two adjective limit on character high concept. But it goes beyond that–if something isn’t accessible to the other players around the table, it’ll never fit in. (My current Dresden Files RPG “Arcane Arms Dealer” character unfortunately seems to fit this mold). And if it is too accessible, it’ll be no fun to play.
- Too Many Pillars: Background and Specialties in D&D Next from Critical Hits
- Jungian Archetype Generator from Intwischa
- Let’s Get This Party Started: Non-Mechanical Character Creation Ideas That Work from Intwischa
What’s Your Name, Who’s Your GM, is He Rich (is he rich) Like Me?
Walt’s article on remembering your first GM got me thinking about mine. I should say, it got me thinking about the set of early GMs, because much of what I did in fifth grade doesn’t really translate well to what I do today.
Much, but not all. I remember vividly sitting in my friend Brennan’s house (just the two of us, we hadn’t yet found anyone else who wanted to play D&D) running for the sixth time through the Keep on the Borderlands. One of us, I don’t remember who, had the brilliant realization that we could speak in character instead of saying “My character says this…” As someone who still possesses the instinct for the latter, I think of those early games frequently when I transition to the liberation of speaking in character.
John was another early GM who always threw armies of orcs at us. John and I got together a few years back to go geocaching, and he started recalling some of those early games. He told a story of something I did (which I’d forgotten): I convinced an orc to join us instead of fight us. He became an NPC that travelled with our party for many adventures, and represented a lesson to all of us that violence wasn’t the only solution to a problem. I owe a major debt to John for rolling with this and allowing player intent to drive the story–I hope that is one of the defining characteristics of my GMing style.
I’d love to hear stories of your early GMs. Tell us about them in the comments!