This episode I do some begging. I put out my virtual wooden bowl in hopes of attending Gen Con. I also begin design of an unnamed game, by taking the first step; defining the problem.
So there were a couple Skype disconnects, and I’m not sure we totally nailed this episode as a complete primer. Totally my fault, I needed to be more prepared… you know how that goes. Anyway, It opens the subject and Judd has said he’ll follow comments in this post, so ask away folks.
Hey, it’s a show. Yeah! I talk about where the podcast is traffic-wise, the terrible money word, needing help for interviews, and the upcoming shift to doing something rather than thinking about something. Most exciting twelve minutes of your life.
- Links for this show
- The Yellow Menace: RoboGeisha and Funimation
- The Yellow Menace: Sanshiro Sugata and Sony
- The Walking Eye: Lady Blackbird All-Stars
- The Walking Eye: GM-ing Discussion with Clyde
- Actual People Actual Play
We talk about the excellent movie RoboGeisha and the problems of Funimation. I say very few racist things.
We talk about one of my favorite movies Sanshiro Sugata, and the hacking of Sony. I say very few Nationalist things.
This is an actual recording of a play session that includes me, Walking Eye folks, Podgecast folks, and a Jankcast person. Recorded at Forge Midwest. I say very few racist things.
Kevin and I discuss the merits and flaws of Lady Blackbird, and I criticize Kevin’s GM-ing.
I think you should listen to this.
Also you should listen to this.
Try this. You may or may not like it.
I talked with Paul Czege in this Jams length shorts, about his explorations of alternates to Gen Con that might be useful for the crazy unknown designers out in the wilderness. Perhaps it might be helpful to uncrazy unknown designers, uncrazy known designers, and crazy known designers. It arose from this post.
I interviewed Mike Mearls about what the Essentials edition means for D&D 4E. This is that interview. Thanks to @ajgaming, @renatoram, and @bg_josh from Twitter. Also 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction for their Episode 54, which got me to reach out to Mike, and Wizards of the Coast.
Gabe Arcade joins the Brotherhood. This is the comic I reference at the beginning of the interview.
Once upon a time, Zarathustra lived in the woods with a cool religious dude, and things were good. Then Zarathustra had the strange idea that he needed to give man a gift; he left the woods and the cool religious dude, and things got weird.
This Gen Con saw the end of the Forge booth as a place where wild haired designers, who don’t have strong connections to our community, could come and sell their first game at the largest RPG convention in North America, maybe the world.
I place no blame on Ron, or Vincent. Ron has been saying that the Forge will slowly wind down, and eventually come to an end, for years now. It started with jettisoning the more established folks, and this year the less established folks got the George Jettsons.
I wonder though; Is this what we want to see happen? Do new designers need to go back to starting their own booth, or trying to befriend one of the successful cooperatives? Two of those collectives disappeared this year, Pirate Jenny, and Play Collective, and last year we lost the Ashcan Front booth. Maybe Pirate Jenny and Play Collective are due back in the future?
I wonder if our community can survive the attrition of established designers that is due to occur? Or have we done like Punk, and Alternative, and gotten large enough that like minded weirdos formed their own thing, and splitting is just going to happen. The Kumbaya is over, and I go back to being a scene traveler?
A few weeks ago I posted the conversation I had with Vincent Baker. In that conversation he talked about how he believed that a game master was in alignment or out of alignment with a game, and that the rules in Apocalypse World helped put a Gamemaster in alignment. I think we both agreed that perhaps more could be done to put players in alignment. Here’s the first three statements from Apocalypse World, page XX.
- Barf forth apocalyptica
- Address yourself to the characters, not the players.
- Make your move, but misdirect.
These are somewhat poetic, but not necessarily the standards to fly as a flag for general purpose use. Vincent breaks them down in the book, and the flowery nature will help to recall them in play, but it doesn’t suit for general purpose. Vincent makes clear that general purpose is not his goal. I’m not sure we can make a perfect general purpose set of instructions, but I do think these “alignment rules,”or “Barfers,” are an example that can be looked at broadly and set to other games. For instance Vincent’s barfing, plus Episode 16 of the D&D podcast have lead me to what I think is alignment with 4 ed Dungeons and Dragons. Let’s play with that and see what trying to make our own “Barfer” nets us.
- Make the Player Character’s heroes, by hitting the players where they aren’t looking. D&D is about creative combats. It’s exception based design leaves lots of room for you to introduce new rules. Your players should have to be constantly adapting to new tactics. Whether you introduce these problems through terrain, using minions differently, the numbers and tactics of monsters, or the abilities you give to monsters, the players need to have new problems to solve, or play will get stale. You can hear this in the ideas that are generated in Episode 16, looking at Gabe’s balls, or third example I need to add.
- Craft the field of battle. You need to create the terrain beforehand. Put in things like choke-points, debris, cover, high points, etc. The easiest way to do this is to create a dungeon.(Or buy a dungeon, like in a module)
- Dungeon is in the name, motherfucker! The dungeon is essentially a creative restraint. It makes it so the characters have a set of problems to deal with, and a sense of the scale. The moat-house, and the Temple of Elemental Evil, are dungeons in the same module. One likely fills players with more trepidation than the other. They are clearly of a different scale.
- If you can’t have a dungeon, bake with a set-piece. The second method is to make set-pieces. A set-piece is like a small dungeon, that doesn’t have a particular place. For instance, you might make a set-piece that has a road that curves around a boulder for when the players are traveling. A clearing in the woods, etc. This is the kind of thing where you can work in an interesting battle based on something the players are likely to do, like that trip to the city, or whatever.
- Bring the Player Characters to the fight. Use things the players want to get them to fight. If one player wants to be king, then there is a lead to where the orb of justice resides which will be used at the coronation of the one true king. (I would probably talk about different ways to use flags here, but I’ve already made shows like 009 through 012.)
Not too bad for a first draft I hope. It doesn’t quite hit the specificity of what Vincent has done, but it’s what I got done on my work breaks. Hopefully it took Vincent a bit longer for his. Smiley Face.
The point is start with a broad declaration of what the GM is supposed to do and narrow it down to explain what the GM does specifically. This is what Dog’s does, what Mouse Guard does, and what A.W. does. This isn’t fucking advice, it’s instruction. Advice talks about the whole probability set of Gamemastery, and leaves it to you to screw around and try to hit the right tact. Instruction is telling you how to play this game, right here, right fucking now, and helps to set a clear expectation of game play. It’s not the whole set of tools, it’s the tools you use now.
How about you folks? See this motherfucking gauntlet? I’m dropping it. You got better Barfers for 4E? How about other games?
This is the last of my Gen Con interviews. It was the second chronologically; occurring Friday morning. I’ll be interested to see how it’s received.
We talked about Marketing. Marketing versus Artistic merit, and how it is likely perceived in the Forgie / Story-games / Indie scene.
I spent so much time trying to fix the sound on this one… at least 24 hours total. It either can’t be done well, or is beyond my ability. Which sucks as this was the interview I was most excited about, from Gen Con. Major David Wesely, Ret., is the guy who Dave Arneson credits with inventing the idea of the Roleplaying Game. It was so very interesting to hear about stuff that was going on before I was born to make this thing I’m fascinated with today. It’s interesting to see how closely our beginning was tied to LARP.
I think it is worth the effort of having to concentrate to focus on what is being said over the background noise.