Monday, May 31, 2010

Why Role Playing Games?

Very few hobbies are as misunderstood as role playing games. The questions and accusations surrounding it suggest that we gamers are maladjusted escapists with no grasp on reality. Explaining our hobby to non-gamers can occasionally be frustrating and met with a certain amount of attitude suggesting we are only making excuses for ourselves.

Role playing games are no more escapist than reading a book or watching a movie but they are far more satisfying. Organized gaming groups are a socially creative activity and reinforce group dynamics. You can't succeed in most role playing games without a group, and since each character is as unique as the person playing them, motivations that differ come together in entertaining ways. It's more difficult than a video game where group dynamics is based solely on powers and weapon, in a role playing game characters of conflicting races, alignments and beliefs come together to escape traps, discover treasures or just survive a world that would destroy them all without prejudice.

In all honesty though, those aren't usually the things considered when a game is played. Usually they're just happy byproducts of a group of friends spending hours together while weaving an entertaining story together. Friends who game together have to be comfortable enough with each other to cut loose and enjoy themselves in character. We may have our stereotypes but they are the exception, not the rule. We're only human, and we feel just as awkward around the basement dwelling, energy drink guzzling recluse as the next person.

A Short Word on Story Development from the Desk of Jake.

If you have heard our original podcast you know Jake. If you haven't heard our show be prepared to hear a lot of this:

The [roleplaying] game should not revolve around whether a character wins combat, or not. The characters win, that's what they do. The point is to make an interesting conflict, this could be a simple as a unique combat with strange monsters, or it could be as deeply emotional as a fight on a flaming falling zeppelin over the last rocket pack. In general the more you can focus the battle on the consequences to winning rather than the winning itself, the better off your scenario is going to be. Creating these scenarios can be difficult as you cannot always predict the actions of players. The main thing to do here is to know what your players characters will driven towards. If you have a player who always kills the bad guy no matter what, ignoring everything save for the kill, then you know what motivates him. Understanding the motivations and drives of your player characters means that you can create a scenario that will challenge and entertain them.

I advise that the first two sessions of a game involve feeling out your players. Find out what they will do. Despite what some people will say, people usually fall into easy to identify patterns of behavior. The trick is to identify those actions, and plan for them. Give your players an opportunity to shine using the characters they have developed.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So You Want to Be a Gamer?

So you've decided you want to play one of those confounded Role Playing games you've heard so much/little about eh? Do you know what you're getting yourself into? Do you know what you need to get first in order to get a game going? Do you know where to get polyhedral dice?

  1. Other Gamers- This is probably the most important thing when trying to start gaming. Without other gamers you're just playing with yourself. Your first inclination will probably be to search the internet, but as with most things on the world wide web you probably want to keep the safe distance ensured by a monitor and CPU. Your next inclination will probably be to ask your RL friends. The problem here is that many people think of THIS :


    instead of THIS:

    ...when it comes to gamers.
    So if they need a little coaxing let them know that plenty of famous people play D&D and that if it's good enough for friggin' Jenny McCarthy Alice Cooper then they can shut up and roll a character.

  2. A Game to Play- There are a LOT of games out there and most likely your first game will be something you hold a torch for years after everyone stops playing choose wisely. Cause no one wants to hear about how upset you are that no one understood the "genius" behind F.A.T.A.L.

    There are a few good ways to find a game that suits you.
    . Skim through books- Sure sure don't judge a book by it's cover, but in all honesty when you're about to shell out $30+ dollars for a book you should definitely judge it before you buy it.
    . Download a free start-up from what do you know? There is a link on the main page of this website! Click it, enjoy some of their free games, then buy some out of sheer gratitude!
    . Ask Jake- Or Carol or the guy running the gaming store or anyone who has seen plenty of games

  3. A Story/Character idea- If you are running the game you need a story, if you are playing you need a character. Either way please put a little effort into the process. It makes the other gamers feel special. Also it makes others want to game with you more often.

  4. Dice- See the side bar? Great! Click the button that says "Gamer Stop" and buy yourself some dice, you'll be glad you did! Or go to your local gaming store. Polyhedral dice aren't HARD to find, you just have to know where to look. Gamers are occationally a strange brood and most of them don't like sharing dice. You'll understand if you ever lend your dice to someone who rolls better than you ever have with them.

  5. Have Fun- Seriously though, don't forget that the reason people play is to havefun if you can't remember that then you shouldn't be playing. Creating real life feuds out of in-game fights is a fast and stupid way to lose your gaming group. Role Playing Games are great... but they are GAMES.

Thanks for Reading!