May 3, 2004: 10:36 pm: Game WISH

WISH 91: Appropriating From Fiction

How often do you appropriate bits from books, movies, comics, and other sources as a player or GM? Do you like to steal names or flavor or go more whole-hog? Is there a difference between stealing for background and stealing for in-game plot?

I may borrow specifically if the game is meant to be more humorous, while in more serious games I only use themes, attitudes and the like. I suppose this is because I see using such bits as somehow being disruptive to the flow or atmosphere of the game (assuming it’s a bit that isn’t from the same fictional universe), and that tends to be less of an issue in a game that’s supposed to be funny.

In any case, it’s something I do very rarely as a player in either sort of game. I find fiction to be a source of inspiration, but somehow it seems like a copout to simply steal things from another source and incorporate them into something that’s supposed to be my creation.

As a GM, I suppose it would come down to how well the fictional person or item fit in with the rest of the game, but I’d still be inclined not to do it (or to allow a player to do it). The exceptions would be those games where I’m purposely running in a borrowed setting (or a mashup of two or more settings).

: 9:04 pm: Game WISH

I’ve once again managed to fall behind on these, so I’m going to start working away at the backlog.

WISH 90: System Updates

What do you think about system updates (Paranoia XP, Amber 2.0, DnD 3.0/3.5) and conversions (d20 Silver Age Sentinels, GURPS Traveller)? What about world/setting updates that result in system reboots (the end of the Age of Darkness)? Do you buy them, run them, or use them for resources? Why or why not?

The answer, as with so many things, is that it depends. Normally I dislike buying the new version of a game, because it feels like I’m simply paying for the game twice. I only bought D&D 3.0 (and then 3.5) because I was going to be in a new campaign that used the newer rules, and I think what’s currently going on with White Wolf’s World of Darkness line is nonsense.

Having said that, I’m probably going to buy the new version of Amber DRPG when it’s eventually released by Guardians of Order, and may even buy the d20 version.

I suppose what it comes down to is how much I like the game, how much I think the new version will add to the game, and how much I mind giving a particular company my money.

March 21, 2004: 5:31 pm: Game WISH

As you’ve probably noticed from the last few posts, I’ve been catching up on Game WISHes this afternoon. Part of what prompted me to do this was Ginger’s announcement that the meme will be ending with the hundredth WISH. While I haven’t always gotten a lot out of each and every WISH, I’ll be sorry to see them go, because they usually made me think. Of course, that was the whole point.

WISH 89: All Good Things Must Come To An End

How do you handle character death, as a player and/or GM? What makes a good death or a bad death? Have you ever had a character die? What happened?

The thing that struck me when I read this question was just how long it had been since I’d had a character actually die (at least in any sort of permanent way). I’m in an occasional complete hack-n-slash game with some friends I’ve known since college, but death is almost never permanent there, and I hardly even consider that an RPG….it’s more like low-tech multi-player Diablo. Other than that (and maybe a few con games), my characters just don’t seem to die, and neither do the characters of other players in the game. Of course, I’ve likely just jinxed my monthly D&D 3.5 character by saying that.

In any case, I think that it’s important to make a character death either very meaningful or very senseless. I know those sound contradictory, but my point is that it should always lean toward one extreme or the other, and never just be mundane and ho-hum. A tragic and pointless death can be as much a catalyst for drama as a brave and inspiring one.

: 5:29 pm: Game WISH

WISH 88: In Your Wildest Dreams

Do you ever dream about games and characters? Do you incorporate the dreams into your games? How? Has it been successful or unsuccessful?

The answer to the first question is no, I don’t, which makes the rest of the questions moot. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing….

: 5:28 pm: Game WISH

WISH 87: Recommended Web Sites

What are three or more web sites you’ve used recently as a player or GM? Why do you use them? What do you get from them?

The first answer is always Google, since it’s the path to finding all sorts of other amazing resources. For advice that specific to gaming (as opposed to background or setting), I lean toward places like The Forge, The 20′ By 20′ Room, or the new The Masters’ Council. With those I find that I learn a lot from just lurking the discussions.

: 5:27 pm: Game WISH

WISH 85: Character Inspirations

What inspires you to create characters? Do you have partially-developed characters in mind for use when you get into a new campaign? Do you shop characters around, or do you come up with new characters when you get into a campaign? Why? If you GM, are you bothered by receiving a solicitation for a “generic” character, or does it enthuse you to get a solid proposal even if it’s not closely tailored to your game?

I think the inspiration for new characters comes from the same sort of influences that contribute to any sort of creativity. It’s a lame-sounding answer, I know, but I don’t see character creation as somehow being essentially different. As for re-using characters, I have sometimes taken a character from a short-lived game (usually meaning a one session con game) and used it again (usually in another con game), after the appropriate tweaks to make it better fit the new setting.

I am not, however, one of those people who tries to run one or two characters in nearly every game of the appropriate genre that they play. It’s not something I really understand the motivation for, and I’ve watched GMs (mainly at Ambercons) have to struggle with shoehorning these characters into their worlds.

I actually think that the whole idea of trying to bring an existing character into a new game is, on the whole, a flawed one. If the player is willing to be exceedingly flexible, it may be possible to make the character fit into it’s new home, but, imo, it will never fit as well as a character that was specifically created for that game.

February 18, 2004: 8:47 pm: Game WISH

After skipping the last couple of WISHes, I thought I’d try to get back into them with this one:

WISH 84: Five Games

What five games would you love to run/play if you had a willing group and a weekly time slot?

1) Buffy — My experience with this one consists of a scenario I ran at last year’s TBR, and that was done diceless, but this is still a game I’d definitely like to run/play more.

2) Nobilis — I still don’t own a copy, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to play in (or even run) a game.

3) Unknown Armies — I haven’t picked this one up yet either, but the premise and the good buzz make me want to give it a try.

4) Godlike — I bought this a while ago, and it’s a great take on the whole supers in WWII idea.

5) Amber — I miss being in a regular Amber ftf game.

There are a few close runners-up, like My Life With Master, Call of Cthulhu, Feng Shui and maybe Dead Inside, but those are the top five. At least for today.

January 19, 2004: 10:34 pm: Game WISH

WISH 81: My Favorite System

What’s your favorite game system, and why? What things don’t you like about it? How much do you have to “jigger” it from published rules and why?

Hmmm….I don’t really see myself as a system-oriented sort of player (or GM), so this is a tough one. There are quite a few games that I like, but that’s usually because of their ideas, atmosphere and world, rather than because of the specifics of their mechanics.

For the sake of the question though, I’ll pick the Amber Diceless RPG, only because it’s the one I’ve played the most over the past few years. Of course, that usually means tossing the auction, trashing the sorcery, fiddling with the artifact rules….okay, maybe this wasn’t the best choice, but it does illustrate my basic point. Even when a system is flawed, if I like the ideas behind it, I’ll tend to like the game. Near-perfect mechanics that are presented in a dry way just don’t arouse much enthusiasm, and, IMO, it’s easier to tweak rules than to fix a boring setting.

January 9, 2004: 9:49 pm: Game WISH

WISH 80: Finding a New Group

How do you go about finding a new gaming group?

That’s a good question. I think networking is the most important thing, as most gaming groups I’ve been in have involved just happening to know the right person at the right time.

The problem I’ve run into since I left college long ago is finding local gamers at all. Currently my friend Jenn and I are driving almost two hours (each way) to play in a once-a-month game, and I was making that drive for several years before I met her. That’s been my only steady source of gaming, and I like the people there, but it would be nice to not have to make that much of a journey for a game, in part because it might well mean playing in more games.

Finding a new group to game with, when you don’t live in an urban area with lots of local gamers to choose from, can be frustrating, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t know of any secrets to make it less so. Even once you find other gamers, there’s every possibilities that clashing personalities and tastes will result in only a short-lived gaming experience.

Hmmm….this answer is ending up being more depressing than I’d intended when I started writing it.

: 9:26 pm: Game WISH

WISH 79: Ideal Cast Size

What do you think is the best cast size for the games you’ve played? What are the factors that go into your answer: genre, play group, gaming system, etc.?

As a general rule, I think the way I look at the ratio is that less roleplaying allows more players, as long as their aren’t so many players that they make combat scenes unwieldy for the players or the GM.

Then there are all the other factors to take into account. Some GMs do better than others with larger groups, regardless of the system. Some players want or need more attention than others. Some systems work better with a certain number of characters.

I think this comes down to another, “It depends.”

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