March 25, 2007: 1:48 pm: Miscellaneous

FindPlay has been down for a while now, but there’s a new site out there for those gamers looking to find more players in their area. It’s called NearbyGamers, and it uses functionality from Google Maps to provide a graphical display that I personally find more useful than the straight text that FindPlay provided. Right now there are plenty of indie gamers listed, as well as lots of more traditional D&D and White Wolf sorts.

March 12, 2007: 6:49 pm: Game systems

Today my copy of Spirit of the Century arrived in the mail!

March 7, 2007: 9:02 pm: Game systems, Game theory (or close enough)

Here are a couple of fairly recent items that may be of interest to Amber players/GMs (though the topics apply to other games too), in case you missed them.

Rob Donoghue talks about applying tags to Sorcery (and maybe other things too):

But suppose when the character picked up sorcery (or some other power – sorcery’s just an example) they chose a keyword like fire, shadow, travel, tarot, art, thunder, elemental, alchemy, atlantean, infernal or anything else. Maybe that keyword is picked from a (hopefully long) existing list, maybe it’s totally freeform, maybe it’s a player-built list, maybe there’s a whole set of sub-rules for keywords, like elemental dominance. Doesn’t really matter, though it definitely helps if the list of keywords is accessible.

So now they have a sorcerous style. They’re a fire mage, or an alchemist, or a demonologist or whatever. That’s color, and color is cool, and if we just left it at that it would be a nice reminder to players to choose a style. The real value comes, however, when we start introducing plots. Take something as mundane as a locked door. If it’s magically locked, it’s bypassed pretty quickly as we look up sorcerer’s in the yellow pages. If, however, we say that it’s trapped with Fire magic or bound with atlantean runes, then the number of people who can help is reduced. On some intuitive level that may seem like a dangerous thing, but practically it is far more motivating and it gives the guy whose keyword came up a much more clear-cut opportunity to be cool.

Tony Lower-Basch starts a Story Games thread about Amber and the tyranny of the blank page:

Then I took a break from it, and coming back I notice things. The very first thing I notice is that the game system says “You have the freedom to create any character, from anywhere, ever! Make the world from which he comes, and all of his supporting NPCs. The power is finally in your hands.”

God, I find that unhelpful. And, from the evidence of people I’ve played with, they find it unhelpful too. They immediately latch on to the few things that are rigidly defined in the setting, and build from there. Who is your character’s parent? Which of the elder Amberites do they know, and what are their relationships with them? Where do they stand relative to Amber, the Pattern, the Courts of Chaos, and so on?

Now … potentially … the freedom to create anything includes the freedom to create rigid anchor points that the other players can latch on to, as starting points for their own characters. But in practice, I find that people look to the GM to do that, no matter how much the GM asks them to do it themselves.

Both are worth a look.

March 5, 2007: 8:56 pm: Miscellaneous

In an attempt to make the conversations that have been taking place on Anyway easier to follow, Vincent Baker’s started up a forum (using Vanilla) that he calls I would knife fight a man: Sex, God and RPGs. This oughta be interesting….

: 8:51 pm: Game systems

So, one of the things I’m seriously considering running at this year’s The Black Road is Vincent Baker’s Afraid, which is a variant of his most excellent Dogs in the Vineyard. It’s still in the beta stage of things, but is apparently quite workable the way it is, so I’d like to give it a shot.

I was reminded of this desire by this cool post on Story Games. And now I want to run it even more.

February 26, 2007: 10:30 pm: Game systems

How are things coming along on the Dresden Files RPG? Fred gives us an update:

The conclusion there is that I’ll be startled if we have anything more than a proof by the time GenCon lands on our heads (it’s always a bit earlier in the year than I want it to be, I think), but y’never know, we may end up finding a printer who can do a good, sizable hardcover run in a short timeframe. I’m not holding my breath on that point.

I’m definitely in the camp of wanting it done well rather than quickly, but I’ll still hope that there’s a possibility of the game being ready in time for Gencon, without compromises in quality to make that happen.

: 9:01 pm: Game theory (or close enough)

I’m a big fan of story games, and of the communities that to some degree center around both Story Games and The Forge, but there are times when the discussions start to sound far too much like arguments that take place among the various factions of socialism or communism. A few people seem to be more interested in calling others out for not adhering to some version of doctrinal purity than they are in working together to advance the cause.

February 12, 2007: 8:45 pm: Game theory (or close enough), GMing

Better late than never (my link, I mean, not her post), I give you Mo’s Relationship Web Builder:

So I thunk this tool up a while back, and am looking to develop it further. It combines the Blood, Violence, Sex, Money ties that Brand tells me are from Sorcerer Soul into a process not unlike Dogs Town creation. I tested it out on Dave Cleaver, and he came up with something kinda nifty. For now it can be used to create a web in any game that has no explicit tools to build such a thing. Maybe at some point I’ll actually build it in to one of my games.

You can get some really interesting relationship maps by following the steps she lays out, and be sure to read the comments for even more ideas (and maybe offer some of your own).

And you should probably read the rest of her posts while you’re there.

February 4, 2007: 3:11 pm: Cons

In recent (and not quite so recent) con news:

Dreamation 2007 (January 25-28) was apparently quite a blast. I really need to make it to this (and/or Dexcon) one of these years.

Forge Midwest 2007 is working on preparations for this year’s con (which looks like it’ll happen in April).

Registration for the first full-fledged Camp Nerdly (a weekend of gaming and fun at a campground in Virginia with mostly SG folks, May 4-6) is now open.

The plan for the Forge booth at GenCon 2007 (August 16-19) was announced, and it seems like it may result in indie games being more spread around the dealer room.

Oh, and don’t forget about The Black Road 2007 (June 29-July 1) too!

January 31, 2007: 10:17 pm: Cons, Playing

There’s an interesting thread over on Story Games (and yes, I do realize how many of my posts are related to Story Games) about playing games at cons with people you know versus playing with people you don’t know.

Personally, when I play prefer a mix, as I’m more at ease socially if there are at least one or two people that I know, but playing with people I’ve never met (or only know from online) means getting to experience new styles of playing and new perspectives on games. When I GM I prefer the balance to lean more toward people I know, as I’m more comfortable running a game if I’m at least somewhat familiar with the players.

The thread’s also got interesting points about getting to know the people you’re playing with, so it’s well worth a read.

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