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The Elliquian Herald & Post
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Author Topic: Blog Essays on gaming  (Read 744 times)

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Offline Bishrook aka Fate sistersTopic starter

Blog Essays on gaming
« on: March 08, 2009, 08:57:22 PM »
Why I prefer Simple games
Tue, 09/30/2008 - 19:22 — bishrook aka fa...

I like simple games.
Rules light is the term often used.
Tastes in game rules and rules types vary of course . It is a matter of taste and it depends on what you are looking for in a game.
Those who want a competitive fighting game will want exact rules with an element of skill involved.
Those who want a structured story often prefer rules where distinctions between types (races and Classes) also will often go for complex rules.
For those of us looking for a narrative dominated game the choice is between rules light or some form of Free form.
Free form of course have rules as well. Usually the game master controls the course of the story by introducing NPC’s and setting up situations. In some cases the GM also settles fights or skills tests.
Most true form games let the players decide by mutual agreement the outcome of a fight. Skills are simply decided by the players themselves. Sometimes these are written down other times not.
I have simplified to caricature the way free form works but the core is that the players are given a great deal of leeway.
That is beautiful if you have good players who want to tell a story. My favorite way to do this is to hold a story planning conference among the players to plan out scenes and give everybody a plot role.
The problem is god moding both small and great when you have players used to other forms of games.

Rules light resolves some of problem without cluttering up the game. Character formation is often simple and the numbers limit godmoding and conflicts are easy to resolve.
So that’s why I like Rules light. There is still structure and the rules don’t get too much in the way of story telling.

Simple games continued

Thu, 10/23/2008 - 18:59 — bishrook aka fa...

So I've said I like simple games. I think I have said why I like them.
A good definition should inc;ude examples.
Example one.
Risus at it's most basic is no more then three pages.
Players define their characters by susing cliches then assign d6 dice among the cliches
for example
SwordFox 10 dice
Swashbuckler 4 -swords and other knives, swinging from chandalers and other acrobatics.
Gent and fop 3 - Great manners, dances great, knows everybody's name, will you look at that suit!!!
Horseman-3- ride fast, performs tricks, horses love him and will do what he wants.
Maybe ten minutes work with the the GM making sure cliches are not too broad or extravagant.
Battles are simple. Higher roll wins. Loser has to take a dice away from a cliches.
Skills tests are governed use a simple difficulty table.
I have set tabletop games over an hour lunch in ten minutes.
There are five more pages of optional rules and a huge online fandom with more optional rules and adventure ideas.
And it's all free.
Is also a simple game but is very different from most of the RPG's you've probably played. The players control outcomes far more then the ordinary game.
It also rewards detailed narratives.
The players define their characters in much the same way as in Risus.. They have four talents.
The roll is down (lower better) the talents are then ranked 5,4,3 and 2. These are difficulty rates.
The number of dice thrown is determined by the amount of detail the player uses in his post (or narrative)
So a one line post would get one dice. A five or six detail post might get five or six dice.
Those who narrate the most thus really control the game.
Again the basic rules are free. You can buy sets that adapt the game to various genre at cheap prices.
Not my favorite because it is a tactical game but it has rules that run exactly one page and can make for a good fighting game.
It's rules can learned over one gaming session but a little bit like chess the ramifications of the rules and how to use them can be quite multifold.
It's rules also resemble the more common RPG rules with set categories and multiple rolls during a round.

So if you have read this far you can see what I mean by simple games.
You may even be attracted to the charms of them.
I certainly hope so but then of course tastes differ.
Until next time

The problems of running games
Tue, 02/03/2009 - 20:54 — bishrook aka fa...

I have Game mastered (hereafter I will say 'GM-ed") now for about five years and it has been a steep learning curve. It one of those things that looks easy but isn't.
The reason are various. I want to talk about three problems I have seen popping up in the management of role playing games.
First" Running a game is a political process. While most players have trained themselves to let the GM control the flow of the game if the feel they are not be treated fair they will leave.
The GM is not god nor is she an autocrat. Players have to feel they are being treated equally and that the rules apply to all. They have to feel if they do have problems they can come to the GM and expect some consideration of their point of view.
There will always be players who make unreasonable demands or refuse to compromise but a GM should be
held to a higher standard.
Second: Attention. Aplayer is in the game both for a good story and for inter action with others. She wants to be able to develop her character and have somebody notice and to be involved. Properly played a text RPG is a way of each player having an audience for their work.
I have often found it surprisingly hard to get players to have their character to interact with other characters. Then when they do, it is often with just one member of the companions. The more players one has the more difficult this pattern often becomes.
I have tried all sorts of thing from 'rules' that require tagging people to jawboning in OOC urging players to pay attention to other players characters. It helps if players have worked together in the past but then a new player might join and get ignored.
I have to admit this one still stumps me. If anybody can suggest to me ways to resolve this problem please drop me a PM or make a blog entry of your own.
Third and this one is a curse I hate, In most play by forum text games it is the slowest player who rules. I've seem many a game die becuase everyone waits for the slowest player. The sower the player the less attractive the game becomes. Many GM's simply set a rate (once a week, once a day) but their will always be a 'slowest' player. Even more fatal is the slow player who become the center or a story and then slows it down to a crawl.

One drastic solution I have used is to assemble a set of One on Ones that exist within the same universe. I then supply the NPC's and often sidekicks or partners. Then when possible I run crossovers between player characters.
This allows players to move at their own rate. The are not going to be slowed by anyone but by me.
Thats the rub of course. The GM ends up being very busy indeed.
I run one of my Games that way here at Elliquiy (Century CIty Super hero) and have managed thereby to keep it alive and active for three years
Well there is my 19 cents on these problems of managing games. I have just scratched the surface of course and will came back and do more.
Thanks to those who have read this.

Some thoughts on Free form
Mon, 10/27/2008 - 14:14 — bishrook aka fa...

I like a good Freeform game but it does require more work for both Player and Game Master.

A pure Freeform is the hardest of all. In my opinion it should be played only by people who are friends or long term writing partners.
Simply put the Game masters role in pure free form is sharply reduced. The players have much more control over the narrative then in most games.

Part of that is that it isn't a game. It's an interactive story. Players both IC and OOC make many of the decisions. In many cases the distinction between PC and NPC even disappears as Players divide the task of running minor characters among themselves.

I've played this kind of game twice . We had five players. We began each session with a IM conference where we laid out the basics of the adventure: Who the antagonists were, what kind of obstacles would be encountered, what 'actors' would be included and roughly what their role would be. In some cases even where we wanted the scene to go and invented some twists and turns for the actors to encounter.

Then we played the scene. Like a good story the characters came on stage one by one and were properly introduced. They met each other (or not) and the Problem was presented or occurred. The characters made a plan and thyen set out to execute it. But the Plan failed! The characters were now in a pickle. They had to make up a plan quickly.
That plan of course works and the problem is solved but in many cases another problem is foreshadowed.
But as I said this level of trust and commitment is rare.

So we must then retreat to a system where the GM assumes a more familiar role and tells the story, runs NPC's and in many cases calls the shots.
That works well actually if the GM has the political skills to carry it through. Since the same political skills are present in more rules bound games a Free form game of this sort can work well.
I Run several games in this category and find certain formats work quite well.

I always ask players for a profiles of their character(s) and then I put it where other players can see it.
I do ask for a backgrounds description and a skills list. This a simple way of preventing a character being an expert in everything.

Sometimes I will ask players to compose a character with game rules but only use this as a reference in resolving skills and confrontation tests.

But the easiest way of limiting choice is to assign numbers. This of courses gives the game the appearance of a rules-Dice game but helps players and Gm in understanding the strengths, Skills and Weaknesses of the characters.
Some might object (and rightly so) that a freeform game's resolutions are done by players. Again this means that the players must trust each other and have some understanding of the game.
A immature player who always must win can ruin a game quickly forcing either the players ejection or education. The first can be ugly and the second can be time consuming.
A good Freeform game is the best game=story one can have. It approaches the fun of collaborating on a project without many of the worries and pressures of such a project.