Saturday, 21 October 2017

What Makes A Good RPG Background

Backgrounds for RPGs are something I think about a lot. As a player and a referee I believe it is a strong background that makes a good RPG. The question I keeping asking myself is what then makes a good background.

The first thing that struck me when I started thinking about this was interconnectivity. A game needs all of it's background parts to connect. If the players are going along a linear scenario they support material needs to fit what the players are doing. In fantasy games there shouldn't be a lot of background information in the form of something like a gazetteer. Information was passed by word of mouth. Bards and skalds pass on local news, they know what is going on and where things are. Most importantly in history, bard and skalds pass on the legends of the culture.

Myths, legends and lore about gods would be a strong influence on the population even if there is little to back them up. In a world where gods manifest themselves and the warriors of legend have only been dead for a generation, their impact would be even greater. Most people would know the stories of the gods or saints during the middle ages. Such stories would be recounted by fathers to sons and from priests to their flocks. Just having a list of gods and their areas of interest is good but games like D&D don't venture much further unless you buy another book. In reality, stories of gods show that they are much more complicated that most people consider them to be.

Maps play an important part in most games. It is something that the players and the GM use as a storytelling prop as well as gauge how far the players have to travel to get where they want to be. A number of GMs that I know spend a lot of effort on a map. Whilst this is laudable it would unlikely to have happened in reality. Maps were few and far between and typically highly inaccurate. If the players have anything at all it would probably be little more than a rapidly drawn sketch. In the game I am working on at the moment, I have a number of maps in mind. The game is set in the London Underground. The Tube map is iconic. Every station has multiple copies and many diaries have a copy of the map in them. The trouble is, in a post apocalyptic game, such maps are massively out of date. The Tube map is symbolic. The gaps between stations have nothing to do with actual distance. Accurate maps are few an far between and are not available to the public. Then there are post ruin maps. These are made by the survivors. This means that inaccuracies are going to be everywhere whilst perhaps being more realistic that the symbolic maps.

Players need a good reason for their characters to work together. They need something that ties them together as individuals in the real world. Whatever goes on in the game has to mirror, in part at least, what the players see as the view of the real world. I think this in one of the reasons why evil campaigns don't work so well. Whilst I have been in purely military campaigns there are plenty of players to whom this does not really appeal. Following a dogmatic chain of command's orders can be hard to take. Playing rebels is much more fun for players than playing government forces.

Friday, 20 October 2017

I Had Forgotten How Much Fun Concussion Was

Yesterday I managed to trip up and knock myself up. Somewhere between the dog jumping up and my other half leaving her crocs in an unusual place, I ended up in A+E. Blurred vision, memory loss and seeing stars. I guess I should have counted my blessing at the time but I am cursing my other half at the moment.
Concussed? How could you tell?
So I missed out on posting, or doing pretty much anything else (including FabLab which I am especially annoyed about) yesterday but I am getting into it a bit more today. Today I am bit more into the real world. A much more productive day all round. I've done loads around the house, did a load of writing for the Underground game and then I've moved on to figure painting.

The  six zombie figures I am doing for this weeks Zomtober are moving along at a pace. Most are now pretty much complete and even some of last weeks figures have had a touch up. Nearly all of them have now had the basing done. I've even wandered off to a few of the background projects. Things are looking good all round.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Getting Close To Not Posting Today - Writing Is Fun

Giving yourself a goal is a good thing. It keeps you motivated. There is a reason for plodding on. The number of times I have heard from people in my family that when you retire you die for some reason hits me hard. I am a long way of retirement, unless things change, but I still like to have something to keep me going.

For years now I have been writing. It has always been my ambition to get something published. I mean properly published, not self published or something online. Now that I have something written down I am error checking it. As I am a either a little bit dsylexixic or I have a problem with typing (my fingers seldom seem to type what my brain tells them to do). So proofreading and error checking is mostly very entertaining.

So I am about twenty percent into error checking my first magnum opus (note the ego). It's a post apocalyptic bestiary for the UK, specifically London. It's only about five years in the making. Now I am looking at format and art. That is even more fun.

If anyone has any suggestions that might help, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

50 Shades Of Decay Or How I Paint Zombies

Have you ever seen a body that has been dead for a while? I have. More times than I care to think about. I'm thinking about it now, so that last sentence was probably counterproductive. It is the stuff of nightmares. One of the last ones I saw sticks in my memory very, very clearly. I didn't eat a baked potato for about two years afterwards. Now I still can't face a baked potato with cheese. I always expect the cheese to start wriggling. Maybe you catch my drift, maybe not. No more details on that score but you are bright people so I guess you can work it out.

My early zombie cinematic experiences are of Romero films. These low budget epics used simple ideas. Most zombies were usually had light green makeup unless they were African American, then you got a kind of pale blue makeover instead. Feature zombies had a bit more gore, but if you were in the long shot you were green or blue. For the most part I still stick with this colour scheme. I use a number of shades of green to give each model a bit of variation. There is always a bit of shading but it is mostly ink and blood that I use for zombie effects. There are usually several tones of ink in there to give the skin a bit of variety.

As time as gone on, brown, especially baked potato brown, has come in, for obvious reasons. When I use green paint, I vary it with a little light grey or brown paint and mix it poorly. Red and black ink usually still feature highly and whilst I use sepia-ish inks in the main, the green and often red creep in there too.

One of the things I keep meaning to do is some fresher zombies. Ones with either healthy or healthy ish skin tones. The thought had occured to have some unarmed civilian types that I can initially use as a crowd. Then, well the players have got used to the idea of having them around, use them as zombies.

Zombies should look pretty badly hammered for the most part. I like Tamiya Clear Red for this. When it isn't varnished it looks like fairly fresh blood. Older blood should be much darker. Too much really doesn't work. When choosing where to put the blood I think in terms of where it would probably end up. Anything on the hands would probably wear off quite quickly but there would always be some there. Around the face is another good place. It follows that most of the blood is going to be on the front with probably more on the chest than on the legs. Rather than paint the whole front side red, I think it would be more splatter and drips. Little bits here and there across the front on the body, none or almost none on the back and some on the floor.

To give them a really shabby appearance, I use a lot of inks. Mostly I do a base wash in the right colour for the paint colour below. Browns help to make them look dirty, especially brown over black ink. Green give a real sense of decay but maybe not use too much of it or the skin will look wrong. High traffic areas are probably a good bet, ower arms, knees and backside are good place for green. A mix of reds, ruddy skin tone, purples but mainly green make a good range for skin tones but experiment a little. Red ink is good on facial features and around wounds done with Tamiya Clear Red. I am not a fan of the GW paint, Blood For The Blood God, for this kind of work.

The best advice is go and watch your inspiration, later Romero and The Walking Dead for me. Look at what they do for their make-up. Emulate that in a more simple form as you will have a lot of zombies to do. Get on with it and don't be afraid to experiment, because with zombies you can usually cover up anything you hate quite easily.

Zomtober must bring out the worst in me.

Monday, 16 October 2017

The Start Of Zomtober Week 4

The good work continues. This is going to be another hard week.

More Mantic The Walking Dead: All Out War stuff. Zombies from a variety of sets.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Zomtober Week 3

Really the title of this post should be Zomtober Week 3 - as far as I got.
There is still a few bits to do on the paint work. Across all the figures, there is plenty I am not happy with. There are also a few bits that are just not done. The basing still needs to be dealt with to. This is probably going to be put off for a bit.
The New Cruelty is not happy. I am not happy.

Well except I am. I have had a bloody good day, a nice evening meal in a restaurant and I have managed to put as smile on one of the lads faces on his birthday.

Next week... Zombies.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Where Did That Day Go?

For the first time in a while I am worried that I am not going to make my painting goal for the week. My other half has been ill. Although she is up  now, I guess she has been upstairs for about sixteen hours. She did get out of bed to help me do some shopping but other than that I have been busy. Then there has been prep for one of the kid's birthdays tomorrow to do. Not to mention playing a bit of Fallout 4 and my latest purchase, Dead Rising 3. Did I mention the dog is ill too?

Settling down to painting has been out of the question. I would have spent more time cleaning brushes than I would have painting. It's been up and down kind of day.

Having played Fallout for a bit it has rekindled my love of  post apocalypse RPG. So I have been working on the Underground setting. I now have an idea, the very bare bones at least, for a campaign. I still kind of have an idea about publishing it so I am still proceeding in that direction with the writing.

Still, busy day tomorrow. Hope I can find some time for painting. The shortness of time might give me the push that I need.