Archive for May, 2005

May 8, 2005: 8:37 pm: Game systems, Playing

As I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to play in a Dogs in the Vineyard game last weekend. We were GMed by Michael Croft, with Ginger, Jennifer, Kevin, Deb and I as the players, and I’m pretty sure everyone had a darned good time. It was an interesting mix of Dogs experience, with Michael having played (but not GMed), Ginger having GMed (but not played), my having read the rules through a couple of times (but never played), Jennifer having given much of the rulebook a quick read, and then Kevin and Deb not having had much exposure to the game at all.

Since about half of us knew the system to some extent, it didn’t take too long to get started. My character was Brother Virgil, a reformed gunfighter who’d found the King of Life and was trying to learn not to settle every argument with the gun. Having the game start off with everyone going through their initiations is definitely the way to go, both for getting to know the characters and getting to know the conflict resolution system. At the suggestion of one of the players, Michael let some of the PCs be a part of each other’s initial conflicts. That worked out pretty well, and helped to get the relationships within the group of Dogs going.

We ended up playing Saddle Ridge, the town the GM had created, over two sessions (and still not finishing it), both because it was a big town with lots of deal with, and because we were overly shy about getting into conflicts during the first half of things. When the NPCs got coy about whatever was troubling them, we’d do the usual PC/NPC dance, instead of pushing things to conflict. I think this was just something that most of us had learned to do as players in lots of other RPGs, and it took us some time to get out of those habits, though by the second half of the weekend the dice were hitting the table on a regular basis. That really got the pace of the game going, and the system made every conflict, whether it involved talking, fighting, or both, a lot of fun to play through.

There are probably more details I could talk about, but those’d come to mind easier if I hadn’t waited a week to write this. I guess I’ll know better next time, and at least take better notes. Ginger has posted about the game and about our mix of characters, so you can check those out if you’d like to know more.

Now that I’ve had a chance to actually play DitV, I can tell you that all of the hype is true. Get this game, and get your friends to play it. You’ll be really glad you did.

: 5:18 pm: Game systems

Ain’t it great when Vincent gets all passionate about Dogs in the Vineyard?

There’s this thing that happens sometimes when people see Dogs. They go “holy FUCK, the characters are effective! I gotta put a stop to that! How can this possibly go well if the characters run around accomplishing all their goals all the time?”

It’s nonsense. The meaning of the game, now look I’m talking about the MEANING of the game, depends on the characters being effective and accomplishing their goals. Your job as a GM isn’t to keep them from accomplishing exactly what they want to accomplish, it’s to design good towns and then play the townspeople fully and with passion. I promise, the Dogs can win every single conflict easily and the game still works, it’s still challenging morally and it’ll still engage you and your players. Losing a conflict once in a while is a spice, not a staple.

It makes me want to just shout amen.

: 4:36 pm: Game systems, Miscellaneous

Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue, the guys behind Evil Hat, best known for FATE and the upcoming Dresden Files RPG, get interviewed over at RPG Blog. They have plenty to say about the future of FATE, about how things are looking for the Dresden Files game, and about how one of the games that has infuenced them the most is the Amber Diceless RPG….

May 6, 2005: 10:11 pm: Game systems, Miscellaneous

This year’s Iron Game Chef (now called simply Game Chef) competition has been moved off of The Forge, in hopes of getting more games from people other than the Forgites who usually comprise the majority of the entrants.

Design a tabletop roleplaying game, complete or as close to complete as possible, within just over one week. Make good use of the “Ingredients” provided, which will usually be a few concept words, a sentence, a genre, a theme, or a combination of all of the above (these will be provided on the first day of the contest, listed above). Work alone. At the same time, people will be posting about their game ideas on the Game Chef forums. Feel free to use those forums to post and refine your own ideas, while at the same time looking at other peoples’ ideas and providing feedback for them. Peer review and critique is a big part of the fun and challenge of this project.

The results will be completely read, reviewed and judged within six weeks of the close of the contest. The games will be judged solely on the text (not by layout, pictures, etc). The winner and runners-up receive a big round of kudos from their peers. This contest is fun, it’s challenging, and it’s filled with opportunities to give and receive warm feedback about your ideas, polishing them up as the week progresses.

The contest will run from May 21st-May29th, with the theme “ingredients” getting posted on the evening of May 20th.

: 7:33 pm: Miscellaneous

A new issue of Daedalus, edited by Matt Snyder, is up. This time the focus is superhero games, and it’s got a preview of Jared Sorenson’s Darkpages, an interview with Michael Miller about With Great Power…, a preview of Chad Underkoffler‘s Truth & Justice, and an essay by Michael Miller on running My Life With Master.

May 4, 2005: 9:49 pm: Game systems

Michael S. Miller, designer of With Great Power… and other games, had these thoughts about the Amber Diceless RPG:

It seems to me that ADRP is so very perfect for this *because* it is a dysfunctional game, as written. The attribute auction is there to promote competion and rivalry from the very beginning. The fact that scores are rated primarily by comparative value enhances this. The fact that the comparison value can be re-evaluated by the GM based on the real world players making appeals to “This is also a Strength contest because…” is aimed at making each game session into a series of squabbles and begging for GM indulgence. How beautifully dysfunctional! It even encourages you to suck up the the GM in the form of character portraits, journals, etc.

ADRP, Sorcerer and My Life with Master are games about dysfunctional relationships. Sorcerer & MLwM seek to set up a functional dynamic among the *players & GM* so that they can all explore the dysfunction of the *characters* from a better perspective. It seems that, as written, ADRP seeks to replicate the dysfunction of the *characters* in the relations of the *players & GM.* No wonder so few people play it as written, and so many drift it into something functional and fun.

I think this is an interesting insight, and one I pretty much agree with. Even if you ignore the flaws in the ADRPG that its GMs and players have long since pointed out, there’s still a general theme of competition between players (rather than between characters) that the rules seem to encourage. That hardly seems like a recipe for a fun gaming group.

May 2, 2005: 9:39 pm: Game systems, Playing

Over the weekend I got to actually play in a Dogs in the Vineyard game, courtesy of Michael Croft. It was a fun time, and I was as impressed by the system as I’d hoped I would be. I’ll try to get a longer writeup together sometime this week, but for now I just wanted to say thanks to Michael (and Ginger) for the game.