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.
I know (or at least I hope) that our readership extends beyond the United States, which is observing its Independence Day tomorrow. As such, not everyone is on holiday this week. For those of you who are, however, let me wish you a Happy 4th of July- albeit slightly early. While I'll be observing it here at home, I still wanted to be sure to set aside the time to share what I've been reading the last few days. Much of it has revolved around the slew of new games for which I seem to be preparing; in no time at all, I've gone from complaining about my lack of playing options to being surrounded by them. This is exactly the kind of problem every gamer should hope to have! So let's begin with...
Role (Playing) Reversal
In all of these new gaming opportunities mentioned above, I've been asked to join as a player. Some groups I've played with before. Some have only one familiar face. Some are... well, the normal jokers I game with, but in an original campaign setting designed by one of our members. Yet, regardless of the group, my role will be the same. I'm a player at someone else's table. That brings to mind a topic that I suspect is experienced both in our group, and in the larger gaming community. Perhaps more accurately, I'm linking to a brave individual who addressed it first at Sniper D20, and then adding my thoughts. But I digress.
The transition of a gamer from Player to GM is sort of a big deal; the first time I was chosen to run a Cabin Trip campaign felt almost like a promotion. The other members of the group trusted me enough to run our annual RPG event, without ruining the whole weekend. This democratic atmosphere, of rotating GMs and their personal style of play, has made our Cabin Trip games unique and exciting endeavors. For many, they relished the opportunity to get on the other side of the screen for a change, and play instead of plan.
Still, making the switch back to "game player" from "game master" certainly possesses the potential for trouble sometimes. Sometimes showing up as a player may feel like something of a demotion, when one has gained the ability to run games. Along those lines, Bluetopian confesses to something that I joke about regularly: an addiction to control. My own affinity for having control always makes me a bit nervous. I'm so honored and excited that some dear friends want me as a part of their regular game. Yet there's always that glimmer of worry in the back of my mind, that I'll be "that guy." You know the one; that guy who wants to run the table, no matter what side of the screen he's on.
Normally, I'm just as happy as my friends to simply show up, roll dice, and help to tell a great story. However, it's been years since I've been committed to a regularly scheduled game with a limited amount of players included. The great friends who have seen fit to include me as one of those players are creative, knowledgeable, open-minded gamers who run solid, well-balanced games. So why am I worried that when the crit hits the fan I may display similar behavior to what Bluetopian laments in their post?
After reading the author's thoughts, I'm not all that worried anymore. In fact, I'm pretty darn geeked. In short, here are the two great reminders that I took from that post; I hope they encourage you like they did me!
- RPGs aren't just social events, they're collaborative events. Once you're involved in a game, you're part of the team- no matter your role at the table.
- Respect is the mutual transaction that binds games together; it flows between the players, from the players to the GM, and the GM back to the party. The respect, patience, and aid we've all been provided no matter where we've sat for games should be a continuous stream that we bring to any and every RPG experience.
- "Transitioning From DM to Player" by Bluetopian (Sniper D20)
- Nothing More Than Feelings
- How Do I Find a Gaming Group?
NeverEnding (Back) Story
So now that I've been lucky enough to be invited into these games, I need to create some new characters! Which means these characters need an interesting and compelling backstory. Which means I need to go back a re-read all of our Intwischa posts about evolving a character concept, because for the last few games I've been spoiled by the Group Template. Well, either that or I knew the GM was going to kill them off pretty darn quick so I only bothered to decided on a name and a catchy theme song for my new PCs.
In addition to the ideas we've presented here, I found a helpful read over at Reality Refracted that put me in the right frame of mind. In addition to their concise bullet points of wisdom, many of the Comments from other interested GMs point the way toward a successful, game-worthy backstory. An added perk is that many of them mirror suggestions we've presented at Intwischa, like "write from the character's view point" and "stick to one page in length." Vanity, thy name is NERD!
If, like me, you're beginning to build a character from the ground up, you should give it a thorough read!
- Writing Your Backstory by A.L. (Reality Refracted)
Tempting (& Playing) FATE
I can hear what you're thinking: "Oh no, not another gob-smacking article about FATE/Aspects/Houses of the Blooded!"
Well just quit it, because I didn't write this article. I'm simply linking to it!
That said, all three regular contributors here have stressed the importance of choosing the right Aspects for a character in a FATE-based campaign. Dresden Files RPG provides players a bit more freedom when it comes to employing this mechanic, while Houses of the Blooded has specific Aspects that lend specific aid in a specific set of circumstances. Our group, however, has agreed to attempt gaining the best from both worlds in our Houses of the Blooded campaign by widening the scope of the suggested Aspects to expand their in-game utility. That is, provided you can convince the GM that they should apply.
I recently took advantage of this in an HotB one-shot, writing a whole new Aspect for my socially gifted character. Because I was in a hurry- we were trying to begin play that evening- I stole the name of said Aspect. However, the Invoke, Tag, and Compel details had to come out of my head.
If I had read this post by A.L. at the Reality Refracted blog, things might have gone a little smoother. The biggest challenge I found with custom Aspects was trying to find clearly related yet uniquely defined qualities that would combine to form a new Aspect. As is mentioned in the post below, "[Aspects] are supposed to represent the defined traits of your character that can cut both ways." (Emphasis is my own.) In other words, it's not just creating a new power your PC wields; it's developing that power into a potential weakness as well.
See, that wasn't so bad- was it?
- Making Aspects by A.L. (Reality Refracted)
- Houses of the Blooded Aspect Library
- Houses of the Blooded : A Player's View
- The Value of Systems: FATE
Kickstarter Alert! "Tabletop Forge" for Google+
This cool concept couldn't have come along at a better time. Our Intwischa team is already making good use of technology in our gaming experiences: Google Video Chat has been our choice for the "Virtual Gamer" sessions we employ weekly, and another of the games I've been recently recruited for is using a different online server to create a virtual tabletop for their RPG endeavor. Then comes along, in the middle of writing this post, news of a new Kickstarter project that is specifically tailored to create a virtual RPG tabletop in Google+ Hangouts. It's called "Tabletop Forge."
So of course, I had to link to it! Not only does it fit my theme of getting back into regular games, and our frequent focus on 'virtual gaming', we've always attempted to be diligent in our reporting of awesome Kickstarter projects that you can support. It's customizable, affordable, and easy to access using the increasingly popular Google+ network. It also has an added advantage of allowing multiple remote/virtual players at the table, and allowing each of those players to customize their individual tabletop experience. (Our present "Virtual Gamer" setup only allows one: me!)
I can't speak for the rest of the group, but I will anyway: This is one that will see some of our dollars, and probably very soon.