RP Rambles: What I love about roleplaying

Telling Stories

I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to my future and what I would like to be doing with my life, and however I look at it I keep returning to the idea of writing–and in particular storytelling–as something that I find both very gratifying and extremely important to me. Storytelling is one of the main reasons that I got into RP-ing and, no matter how my GM-ing abilities and gaming experience may have changed it’s that central desire to tell a story with other people that keeps bringing me back to the game time-after-time. Continue reading

Final Xsplit Layout for Storm and Sail Game

As you may know I’m preparing to run a pirate-style fantasy game using a version of the Fate rules that I have compiled, taking inspiration from several different sources. I’ve also been experimenting with the free version of Xsplit in an attempt to make the game more visual for those watching it and as a helpful aid to my players, I’m pretty happy with the layout I’ve now got and have uploaded a small video test of it (you can see this by clicking on the video link below).

Features I intend to use via Xsplit for this game:

  • Changeable backdrop images.
  • Gold coins as fate tokens that can be moved.
  • Screen capture of the players with their fate points below them and their characters name and aspects above them.
  • Overlay-able map of the New World.
  • I also have a second screen set up that can function as a whiteboard.

Starting the session already injured

We’ve got the next exciting instalment of Thashif’s Dresden Files game coming up this evening, I haven’t got around to doing a session write-up yet but basically we had to clear a nest of ghouls out of a warehouse as a favour we owed to someone, now my character Murdoch wields the powers of hellfire thanks to having a demon inhabiting his body and this power is great for licking out the damage, however it also puts a terrible mental strain on the character meaning that I can only use the power for so long before I’m pretty much useless. During the last session I used the power about as much as I could to take down these ghouls and promptly passed out at the end, not realising one of them was still going, the ghoul then through itself on me and did some serious injuries and well as pulling one of my characters eyes out.

My character has some increased healing abilities, but I’ll be starting this session still on some pretty heavy damage, this got me thinking about the way lasting damage is handled in Fate and some other games. I really love the way Fate handles healing, essentially you are at a disadvantage during the game until you reach your next milestone at which point (assuming you have IC justification) the wound (or consequence as it is called in Fate) is healed. That milestone might come at the end of your next session or even in a few sessions time depending on how the plot of your game develops.

This is a great way of doing it IMO and helps get rid of one of something I’ve often seen in other games, players rushing their characters in recklessly heedless of the vast amounts of damage they’re taking because they know that they can rest up for a day or two, heal up and then get back to doing what they are doing best. I’ve always thought that if you take damage it should have some actual lasting effect during the sessions, when it does people in my experience tend to be less willing to fling themselves heedlessly into danger or, if they do, they are at least aware of the potential cost.

So in tonights session I’ll be starting off pretty beaten up, but that’s fine, it’s the price I pay for taking down the ghouls last session, it gives the characters who are healthy more time to be in the spotlight, adds some interesting complications for the session and also, above all else, gives me something a bit different and interesting to roleplay. How does my character react to being injured? How is his mood affected? Does he still behave in the same way? Will this have affected how he views situations in the future?

All these questions and more both help you to play the character during the session whilst injured and even considering them means that you’re adding extra depth and richness to your character portrayal.

Whatever happened to the Fate guy?

Chatting with Rob Davis last night, helping him sort out a character for a forth-coming Star Wars one-shot that I’m running and generally shooting about roleplaying games, past campaigns and the normal sort of stuff that RP enthusiasts tend to do when they get together (or chat via the medium of the internet as we were doing), Rob bought up a very interesting point.  Continue reading

What is Adventures on the Outer Rim?

Adventures on the Outer Rim is the umbrella term that I’m using to refer to the loosely linked series of trilogies and one-shots for the FFG Star Wars RPGs that I’m going to be running over the next year and possibly beyond. When I first signed on with the Tides of Change FB group, a community dedicated to running Star Wars games Continue reading

Why I love droids in FFGs Star Wars games

When you make a character in one of the FFG Star Wars games (Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion or Force and Destiny) you receive a baseline of characteristics determined by your race and than an amount of experience points to spend on improving characteristics, buying specialisations and other such things. Droids start off with all of their characteristics at one and you have to spend to buy them up whereas other races generally have some slightly higher scores in that species area of expertise. I’ve seen a few forum posts decrying the droid build saying that you can only be as good as a non-droid character in a relatively narrow area of expertise, TBH I have no idea if this is true or not since my own choice of droids as a species has nothing whatsoever to do with the characteristics that you get. Continue reading

Vader’s on his Way

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be running the first session of an Edge of the Empire Star Wars game called Spirit of the Force, the game is going to be a trilogy, three sessions which cover a single plot arc, continuing the adventures of the characters from my previous (looser) Terror on the Outer Rim campaign. Continue reading

Letting People Down

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I’ve often bemoaned the fact that real-life has an increasing tendency to interfere with roleplaying; gone are the times when I could RP more than a couple of times a week, my gaming activities now have to be fit around other important activities with Tetris-like precision and, as is often the case with Tetris, all it takes is a single piece out of shape to mess up your entire game.

Nowhere is this more obvious than having to bow out of games, especially if it is last minute, this has happened a fair few times when I’ve been in the GM-ing seat as people’s work rotas change last minute or people are working on zero hour contracts, but recently I’ve also had to pull out of a couple of games with less notice that I would like. Most recently was a game run by Ian F. White, part of his Lady Yoko’s wedding saga, a loose grouping of games involving a shifting cast of protagonists, I’d played in one of these games before and greatly enjoyed it, however, I’ve had to pull out of the last session since I was asked to work late to cover the Christmas rush.

Tvader real lifehis is one of the annoying things about real-life priorities, with Christmas just round the corner and with the spectre of redundancy looming early next year (although I’m trying to stay positive about that, seeing as a chance to re-train and focus on doing something I actually enjoy), I can’t really afford to turn down extra money at the moment so I’ve had to pull out of the game, much as it galls me to do so since I don’t like letting people down, especially at the last minute.

Contrast this with my student days where I was playing in at least one game a night (often more at weekends) whereas now free time to just relax and game is a precious commodity. In an attempt to minimise the amount of pulling out of games I have to do, I’m going to start limiting myself to only signing up for games that run on weekends or when I know I’ve got time off work, it might mean that I get to play a bit less but hopefully it’ll minimise the amount of people I have to let down in this manner due to real-life priorities.

5 tips for Getting an Epic Death Scene

If you’ve ever gamed with me then you’ll know that my characters die in RPGs… a lot, probably more so in LARP and one-shots than in campaign tabletop games, although that might simply be down to the fact that I tend to play in less campaign games (although this is slowly changing); I certainly don’t go out of my way to get characters killed or place my PCs in ridiculous situations (unless that is part of that specific character’s MO of course), but death is always a possible outcome in RPGs, after all, if there is no chance of failure and consequences then it lessens the feeling of elation when you succeed at a task.

skull dice

That said, I’ve recently had a PC die in the Thousand Thrones 2E WFRP (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay) campaign that TheRogueDM is running for us; you can see the video of the session below:

In the campaign I played a young woman by the name of Ariadne who had been raised by her father like a son and went by the name Aidan of Carcasonne (although unfortunately I never really got a chance to reveal this in the game), masquerading as a man since only men can be knights in Bretonnia according to the book, she ventured out in the world as young Bretonnian nobles do to explore new lands and gain knowledge of new people. Being strong in her faith to the Lady of the Lake, Aidan was drawn to investigate the rumours of the God Sigmar being reborn in the body of a young boy, making the acquaintance of Gerhard a follower of Ulric and Weiss, a quiet but learned young monk, along the way.

To cut a long story short we ended up travelling with Karl, the supposed Scion of Sigmar in an attempt to get himself recognised by the Emperor and the Grand Theogonist at Altdorf, one player down and with both Gehard and Aiden injured from the previous session, when one of the Scions own men betrayed him we attempted to help save him and almost succeeded, but at the last second I was cut down by a dagger blow (the crit hit system is brutal in WFRP 2E) and died of blood loss.

Now some people find character death a little emotional or traumatic, but I find that, as long as you have a good death scene or go out in a memorable way that fits your character then it tends to make things more satisfying, so below are my five tips for getting an epic death scene.

1. Don’t be scared of death.
I cannot over-emphasise this enough, if your character is permanently scared of death or dying then they will never accomplish anything, you don’t have to actively court death or continually do ridiculously risky stuff but don’t become paranoid about potential risks to your character.

paranoia

2. Work out what your character’s shtick is and do it as much as possible.
It’s generally good practice for each of your characters to have a shtick or unique thing about them, this makes it easier to hook your roleplaying onto that and really focus on what is important to the character; if you want your character to have a dramatic death scene where they’re shown in their best light doing what they do, then you need to make sure they’re doing it as much as possible.

For example: My Bretonnian Knight was very much about fighting evil and protecting the weak, so I took every opportunity to be at the forefront of combat and attempt to save those in need; this meant that when my character eventually died it was whilst trying to save a child from the clutches of villainous mutants.

3. Make some arrangements regarding your death.
It seems logical that people whose occupations involve potential death on a regular basis would at least talk with their companions about it, after all, if a character dies then he relies on his companions to bury his body and recover his personal effects; having a conversation like this with other characters gives you an opportunity to add some additional interest to fairly mundane personal effects by giving them a bit of history, it also allows you to emphasise what is important to your character. Make sure you don’t overdo this though, no-one wants to be sat listening to a three hour monologue about your grandfather’s pocket watch.

For example: At the start of the last episode, already being injured, Aiden asked Gerhard to return her ancestral blade to the Bretonnian duchy of Carcasonne and her father should she die; this reinforced that martial power was important to the character and also allowed me to reveal some details about her father and life before the game in a more conversational manner.

4. Leave a legacy.
If you’ve followed the earlier steps then your character should have made an impression on your fellow PCs (for good or ill), this will help avoid the scenario that we see in too many TV shows where a character dies and is mourned for an episode and then never mentioned again; another good way to do this is to leave something behind or bequeath something to your fellows, whether this is a weapon or an item, telling another PC that you want them to have an item when and if you die serves as a good reminder of your previous character.

For example: Gerhard now carries Aiden’s sword, until it is returned to Carcasonne, he always has the option of using it, serving as a reminder that the group lost a comrade along the way.

5. When a character death does happen, accept it and move on.
If the unfortunate does happen and you lose a character then some people can find it quite difficult, especially if the character was a long-running or particularly treasured one; contrary to popular belief, most GMs (in my experience) also don’t take particular glee in killed off good characters, but the risk of dying is an inherent part of most RPGs. In my opinion one of the best ways to show a GM that you are fine with the character dying (and to help yourself) is to chat a bit after the fateful session about what your previous character accomplished (without dwelling on what they didn’t) and then focus on getting yourself excited about what you want to play next.

So there are five tips on how to make sure that you get an epic death scene, I’m sure there are more tips out that but these five should help you ensure that your character at least gets a memorable death scene; I’ve had a fair few characters that have died in various games and the only ones I really regret are the ones who had a boring death or that died due to sheer bad luck. It can be a bit gutting to lose a character before you have a chance to really fully explore them, but at least having a satisfactory end scene can help make it a bit easier to draw a line under that character and move on to the next.

Committing to a System

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about why I find certain new systems a little difficult to get into, it takes me a while to pick them up, whilst some older systems (like the OWOD system) are very firmly lodged in my mind; now this might not seem like much of a problem but it can be frustrating, since you tend to hit that point of fully understanding and mastering a new system fairly near the end of a campaign (or at least I do). As someone who hasn’t really tended to run a lot of consecutive games using the same system, by the time I swing around to running the same system again I normally have to brush up on the rules again, whereas with OWOD I went through a period in my student days where I was running and playing in many different games all using that system, so I really had a chance to get into it and learn how it worked.

So why am I rambling about this? Well I’m currently running a Star Wars campaign (you can see the videos of that by clicking here), I’m loving the system but, like most games it takes a little bit of mastering; myself and my players are starting to use the intricacies of the system a little more (we are running session 8 of the game in a couple of weeks), but again I fear we’re only going to hit that sweet spot where we’re all up to speed and really comfortable with the system a little further down the line. This seems a shame, and so I’ve decided that, rather than my normal behaviour, running a single game using the system and then moving on to something else, that when my current Edge of the Empire campaign game finishes (although that won’t be for some time yet) I’m going to follow it by running another Star Wars game. I may decide to run Age of Rebellion or Force and Destiny instead of Edge of Empire since these games use the same rules system, but I definitely want to master the system more.