Monday, 26 September 2016

Suicide By Cop---per Dragon & We All Need A Challenge

I was reading a blog which has an article by the RPG Pundit about using mechanics to substitute roleplay. It got me thinking about some of the advice about GMing that I have had and I was thinking specifically about Robin's Laws of Good Games Mastering. This is a great book and probably my go-to book for GMing skills. It's central piece of advice, "the great immutable ironclad law" is "role playing is entertainment, your goal as GM is to make the game as entertaining as possible". Pretty solid advice. I have had two players quote this too me over the years, usually when they want something that does not exist in the game.

I was struck by two things. Firstly that players do stupid things and that it usually the players that get themselves killed. Players, like movie watchers, want a challenge and giving them to much to easily is a lame way to game.

For me the problem comes around with a lot of players is that entertainment for them means getting what they want all the time. I know that role playing is sometimes about suspension of reality. We are not magic users, superheroes and psychics after all but our characters can be. Even of the powers can warp reality, the cannot change reality. I remember a psychic, who was a great martial artist, was locked up and medicated in a secure psychiatric unit who wanted to escape. Such places are designed to be difficult to get out of and if you are pumped full of tranquillizers, this should be even harder. The desire to escape was probably made worse by the fact that the other players were not rushing to get him out.

I remember a decision the group I was playing with made to attack a copper dragon as a way to get out of a dungeon. The call was not mine but the argument was repeated so often it became compulsive. The party was significantly outclassed. Four low level characters against a copper dragon was never going to end well. After the fight, the GM admitted that the dragon was there to scare off the players and in fairness, he dropped a number of hints to that effect. The plan was to get the "battle turtle" to sneak up on the dragon and stab it through the eye and into the brain whilst it slept. The warrior of course had a minimum of sneak skill that was totally offset by the plate mali and other gear that was making him encumbered.
I think the referee let a couple of rolls slide but when the warrior decided to shout at another player to get them to shut up. The dragon then woke up and started talking to the fighter asking him what he thought he was doing sneaking around a dragon's lair. The fighter said that he was here to kill the dragon...It was a bit like shouting allah al ackbar just whilst wielding a scimitar and wearing a bomb vest before charging police officer armed with a sub-machine gun. As I have come to call it, Suicide by Cop---per Dragon. Needless to say, ten minutes later we were talking about what classes would work out well for our new characters.

People mistake entertainment for getting what they want. My character lasted long enough to say I told you so three times, which was pretty entertaining for me.

I think “entertaining” it is more about making the players work for something rather than serving it to them on a plate. I encourage players to suggest what they might like to get hold of in the future. This helps me and them. It gives me ideas for “presents” and something that players can work to. It gives the players an interest in the game. Keeping them happy does not mean the next chest they find has a bunch of +4 weapons in it.

I tend to prefer a cinematic approach. Things are always going wrong in the movies and in most stories. These are challenges to be overcome. Problems are the driver to the next scene of the plot, from there to the next act and the eventual conclusion. For instance, one shot villains are never as much fun as a larger than life recurring villain. Where would the fun be if you had all the money in the world but were so jaded with life there was nothing interesting out there for you to do.

If you were interested in what the two things were that the players wanted, one wanted a robotic battle tank in a Fallout game. I declined this because robotic tanks were not part of the background. The other was a robotic sex slave. The person asking for that was an American who I think had been in the airforce. I declined the robotic sex slaves because it was the right thing to do.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Goblins - More Of Them

I finished these (well give or take) last month. I started the project over a year ago and have worked on them intermittently. After doing a few test figures I had a plan albiet a fairly long term one. Enough with the chat, here are the pics.
These were done as role playing figures, mainly for the viking game. Although they are not really Norse looking, they don't really look like they belong to any other period and hooded robes and weapons will do nicely for what I want. They may even make it into a Frostgrave game and maybe even Titansgrave.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Red Dwarf XI

There isn't much TV that I can quote almost word for word. The first six seasons of Red Dwarf are part of that limited range of shows for me. Thinking about it, Hitchhikers and Hyperdrive are two of the others so sci-fi comedy features quite highly. Red Dwarf took up a huge part of my life in my late teens and early twenties. It's odd that four characters that have a number of personal issues have managed to attract such a huge following over the years. I guess it is because there is a little of the characters in all of us. Or is it just me?
So it is back for another season. Next year it will be thirty years old and it's still going. You never know what to expect when shows have been going on for so long. Having watched the first episode of season XI I have to say it's still on form. If anything it has gotten slightly better than recent seasons. The production values seems to have gotten better, particularly the sets and the special effects. Where things are really noticeable is the scripts. After thirty years, it is expected that scripts should start to falter and plot lines seem to be consistently absent. No such problems are here. The script still seems fresh and there are a few lines, among the usual tropes, that make you laugh out loud.
The early seasons did of give me an education in many things that were really important, but gave me a bigger insight into the human condition. After all, it was Red Dwarf that taught me that hell really is being stuck in a room for eternity with your mates, not Sartre. I am proud to be one of the "boys from the dwarf" even after all this time.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Bitching Helps + 6mm Napoleonics

I spent some time bitching yesterday. It has to be said that I will be doing plenty of bitching today as well. On top of that, in the long term bitching forecast I can see the bitchathon continuing with a good chance of a severe weather warning, high UV and a pollen count that will make even the hardiest reach for the antihistamine. My other half has a number of suggestions to resolve my problems but the underlying problems remain regardless. Which is a shame because I thought the underlying problems were beginning to work themselves out. Instead of things getting better, things look like they are going to get significantly worse as my mum is now ill. At least it means I get to spend some time with her.

But I have some pictures. As a way of over compensating for a bad day, I did some painting the other day. After finishing off two units of French Napoleonic Dragoons, I moved on to some fantasy stuff. Then back to some more 6mm Napoleonics and have now all but finished my first unit of infantry. One down nineteen more to go. That's just the stuff that I own at the moment. There are about forty bases to do in the packs that I have. I have done about a third of them (in I think eight years of owning them.
Strictly speaking I would say this isn't my fault as we play a game, say we will do more and then nothing happens, I have a GHQ WW2 US army that cost £150 for Blitzkreig Commander that we agreed to play that has never been used ). I have plans to buy more French and some Spanish (and Wurtemburgers, Bavarians, Duchy of Warsaw and some Brunswickers) tor round out the stuff I have. Then maybe we will get round to playing a game over even a campaign.

I guess the fact that I buy all the stuff and then it just sits and festers is part of the problem. I like the idea of doing something, no one is interested in it so I have to buy all the armies and still have no opponents. I do what somebody else says is going to be the next big thing, spend a wad of cash and then they forget about it. It's a conspiracy.

As an extra bonus, the weight loss program starts in the morning.

However, I am now downloading the first episode of the new Red Dwarf so things could be a lot worse.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Titansgrave - Ashes of Valkana

I guess I am a little bit of a Wil Wheeton fanboy and Titansgrave, Ashes Of Valkana, a supplement for Fantasy Age has helped that along. This is more for what he has done for my hobby than it is because of his role in Star Trek. Someone who can promote us all to being just about normal is pretty good by me. The Tabletop channel on YouTube and international Tabletop Day have been big boons for me.
When I heard he was promoting an RPG called Titansgrave I thought I would take a look. The videos he produced for support for the game were perhaps the best gaming videos on the net. I think most players and GMs could learn a lot from them. I wasn't so sure about the first couple of episodes but the ones later on were all amazing.

This made me want to play the game. I imagined a fantasy/sci-fi game years before 40k came out and I always wanted someone to produce a playable game in this genre. So when Titansgrave came out I became a little bit moist.

So with a copy of the rules and the Fantasy Age rules as well, I went out and got some figures to add to all the twenty year of GW stuff I was planning on using. And I am still playing around with the ideas. I was Also planning in using the Star Wars: Imperial Assault/Descent terrain tiles for terrain and maybe do a few graphics for vehicles.

The problem is, that despite the glitz and the glamour of the videos,  the game is just badly supported. Throughout two rule books, there are only a couple of dozen monsters, some of which are character races. Titansgrave adds only six weapons to the sci-fi world and precious little equipment. The world of Titansgrave is little more than a map and a potted history. It hints at something bigger and better and leaves you wanting much more.

Whilst it could be argued that this gives players a lot of scope to develop their own ideas, my ideas would be helped along the way a lot better if there was just more to go on. Despite the noise it made at the time of release, there is a really limited amount of support online, both official and unofficial. I feel a little bit guilty about saying this as I want the game to do well so it can be played.

At the moment, I still plan to play the game. If I get lucky thy will release some more support material. If this doesn't happen? I guess I can see a Savage Worlds home brew in the offing.