Friday, July 29, 2011

You say you want a resolution.... part 3

When taking an action in an RPG, there are five stages: intent, declaration, resolution, effect, and description.  We've already covered intent and declaration, so today is resolution.

There are a dozen ways to slice and dice types of actions and types of resolutions.  If the action is either obviously going to succeed, or failure is not interesting, the resolution should simply be the GM saying, "OK, it works."  If there is no way the action can succeed (e.g., the character attempts to leap across a forty foot gap with normal human abilities), the GM is well within his rights to give the player a dirty look and say, "Come on, play seriously."  But most of the tasks in an RPG fall in the big grey area between, in which both success and failure can lead to interesting stories, and it is not clear which path our hero will go down.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

You say you want a resolution.... part 2

Continued from part 1...

Yesterday we discussed intent.  Today, we'll discuss declaration.  For those joining us halfway through the woods, this is a series of posts of task resolution, breaking it down into five separate stages: intent, declaration, resolution, effect, and description.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You say you want a resolution.... part 1

Yesterday I talked about dice.  Today, I'm going to unpack task resolution in some detail.  Specifically, I'm going to look into the nooks and crannies between intent, declaration, resolution, effect, and description.  We make a lot of assumptions about how those all fit together, and I think the differences in those assumptions are largely responsible for the differences in our gaming styles.

[Ed. note - The words just kept pouring out of me.  I'm breaking this post up into several sections of its own.  This first one will deal with intent.]

Monday, July 25, 2011

The dice tell me ... nothing!

So, I have been chatting over in The Rhetorical Gamer's blog the last couple of weeks about dice and task resolution.  It became quickly obvious that we view gaming pretty radically differently.  So, he asked me to unpack some of my thoughts on this, with some concrete examples.  This is probably going to take me a couple of posts.

Today, why the heck do we even have dice in these games, anyway?

Friday, July 22, 2011

A bit of introspection

Wow.  I am a wordy bastard, aren't I?  I really want to try and do 500-word posts, but I just find it so hard.  Especially when I'm doing setting posts, where I want to have a paragraph on each of the Seven Kingdoms.  Would you believe that some of these posts have actually been trimmed down?  That's how thoroughly sick I am.

I think I'm getting the hang of blogging more frequently now.  Blogger is definitely better for me in this regard.  I don't think I can really articulate the reasons, but the UI just feels better to me.  I'm also actually finishing more blog posts, instead of ending up with a graveyard of a dozen partials.

My traffic numbers aren't great.  Much better than my old blog though, and that's entirely due to RPGBA.  Probably two-thirds of my traffic comes from there.  I'm trying to decide if I want to be "that guy" who spams every post to every social media site he can reach.  On the one hand, that seems rude.  On the other, it's not like an audience is just going to magically find me.

The numbers that I really want to get up, though, are the number of comments.  My most-visited post, the one on Women in Gaming, has zero comments.  (Admittedly, my second most visited post is also the one with the most comments, so there is some correlation.)  I'm curious as to why I get no comments.  Are my topics just not interesting?  Is my presentation too closed, in that it doesn't invite discussion?  Is my vocabulary off-putting?  Do people just get tired of reading before they make it all the way to the comment box?

Of course, I have noticed that many other blogs end up with zero comments.  So, it's more a problem with blogs and blog readers than with me.  To help combat that, I have been trying to employ the "Mark Meredith Method" of commenting on at least three blog posts every day.  It's not that hard, and I've actually gotten some good discussions going.  (I've also had another blogger challenge me to a post, or series of posts, on a particular topic, which you'll hopefully see next week.)

Brevity is the soul of wit.  My wit is clearly a soulless abomination.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

7K - Sexuality in the Seven Kingdoms

A very interesting, yet typically underdeveloped, aspect of any society is it's attitude towards sex.  This attitude flavors so many other situations, and can be the fodder for a wide range of story hooks.

Each of the Seven Kingdoms has a different attitude towards sex and sexuality.  This ranges from extremely permissive but debauched to extremely repressive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

System Wank - Core Mechanic of Edge of Midnight

"System Wank" is going to be a new feature/series here.  In a couple of discussions this week, I've found myself discussing particularly elegant or interesting mechanics from various games.  So, I'm going to starting calling them out fairly specifically.  Maybe one day I can collate all of these posts and make the perfect game.

As a logical place to start, I'm going with "core mechanic."  This is a particularly nifty way to roll the dice and get results, taken from Edge of Midnight.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7K - Magical Arms and Armor

My project of commenting on Shared Fantasy has pulled me away from the Seven Kingdoms project.  But, a post by WolfSamurai on Google+ has inspired me to do another 7K post.

In the Seven Kingdoms, there are three types of magic items.  The most common are essentially "spells in a bottle."  These are single-use items that just have a pre-cast spell stored in them.  You may recognize these better as the D&D items potions, scrolls, and, on a more powerful level, wands.  The least common are items of true power, akin to "artifacts" and "relics" in D&D.  In between are items of rare craftsmanship and exotic materials, the work of extremely gifted smiths.

This post is regarding that third category.

Monday, July 18, 2011

7K - So, who are these Seven Kingdoms anyway?

Oh, look, a Seven Kingdoms post!  I haven't abandoned this project.  I've just set aside the posts while I was working on the Shared Fantasy series.  I have a few in the backlog that I'll share over the next several days.

One thing I noticed while going over some of the older posts is that I've actually presented surprisingly little setting information.  I should catch everyone up on that.  We're going to start with the titular Seven Kingdoms themselves:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shared Fantasy - Conclusion

So, we have finally come to the end of this journey.  This is Chapter 8, where Dr. Fine reiterates all of his points, and presents his conclusions.  I was originally assuming that this wouldn't even require a post of its own, but his summary actually produced a number of really good quotes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shared Fantasy - Chapter 7

Chapter 7 of Dr. Fine's book is all about the relationship between the player and the character.  In other words, oddly enough, it's about playing your roles.  Most of the chapter is pretty straightforward, but there are a few rather lengthy passages that are worthy of comment and thought.

As a note, I discussed my reading of Shared Fantasy on RPG Circus last night.  You can catch the episode here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shared Fantasy - Chapter 6

This is the chapter where Dr. Fine pulls out his sociology chops.  It really is the meat of the book, and he does a strong job of making his points.

The essence of this chapter is about how gamers deal with shifting between "in character" and "out of character" perspectives.  As Goffman, a sociologist whose work on frame analysis strongly informed this chapter, says: "Fanciful words can speak about make-believe places, but these words can only be spoken in the real world."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shared Fantasy - Chapter 5

I'm up to Chapter 5 in Shared Fantasy.  Just to give you an idea, there are eight chapters all told.  This chapter starts to leave behind the "what is this 'gaming' thing?" territory and head into actual sociological issues.  So, I have less to say about it, having no background in sociology.

The topic of this chapter is Game Structure.  Mostly, it's all about status, leadership, cooperation, and how gamers can be real dicks to each other.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My First Time

"Dear Penthouse, I never thought it would happen to me..."

No, wait, wrong first time.  I'm talking about my first time in the GM chair.  That was the topic of last night's #RPGchat on Twitter.  (It was my first time making #RPGChat, and it was pretty awesome.  An hour of highly concentrated discussion.)  I told one of the participants that I could one-up him for the melodrama and disaster involved.

So, be duly warned.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Concept for a Convention Game

In reading chapter 5 of Shared Fantasy, he has an interesting anecdote about a con game.  The point of the anecdote is demonstrating what happens when intraparty cooperation breaks down.  But, I think it could also just be a neat idea.

Short description: The young baroness has been kidnapped by bandits. You have been hired to rescue her. But, are your companions what they appear to be?

Shared Fantasy - Chapter 4

So, we're up to chapter four of Shared Fantasy.  This is ostensibly about gaming culture.  However, it ends up being two very different topics oddly welded together.  First is a discussion of M.A.R. Barker and his famous Empire of the Petal Throne.  Second is a discussion of the shared culture that evolves from gaming together for weeks on end.  It ends up pairing the two subjects at the end in a vaguely creepy discussion of the intense group that games with Prof. Barker himself.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shared Fantasy - Cheating in RPGs

As I noted yesterday, there is a significant section in Shared Fantasy regarding the nature of cheating in RPGs.  Fine is very quick to point out that cheating in an RPG is not the same thing as cheating in, say, Monopoly or poker.  That is because it is a collaborative effort, not a competitive one.  It is much more analogous to cheating at a solitaire game.  The line between "cheating" and "rules exception" is a fine one (largely dependent on permission from the GM).  Also, ultimately, cheating in an RPG is more about "doing it wrong" than it is actually harmful to the game.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shared Fantasy, Chapter 3

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back to Shared Fantasy.  Chapter 3 is about how gamers come together to create a collective fantasy.  As anyone who's ever tried to explain an RPG to a mundane knows, it's a lot easier to demonstrate than discuss.  Fine does a pretty good job of breaking down the various issues involved and explaining them.

As a note, Chapter 3 also includes an interesting aside on "cheating" in RPGs.  As it includes some really interesting quotes, and is a fairly involved topic, I'm going to break it out into a separate post.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Google Plus First Thoughts

So, I managed to squeak in through one of the tiny holes Google has opened up and got my Google Plus account set up this morning.  I haven't done much with it due to that whole "being at work" thing.  But, here's a few initial observations: