April 30, 2010

Hate, Vitriol and Melodrama

Filed under: General — Tags: , — bilbo @ 8:53 pm

Well, if it has not been obvious I have been taking a break from the online community for a bit and I cannot tell you how it has given me perspective. On a personal level, I am just more happy (even though I am working harder than I ever have) and have a much better view on things. It has been a breath of fresh air.

On another level, I have reflected on the online RPG community. First, to call it a “community” is a misnomer. It is a diverse group of people across all manner of communities, countries and cultures tied together by interest in role-playing games. Second, it is a “community” drenched and reveling in vitriol and melodrama. It is a really negative place that it is difficult to see from within. I believe far too many people do not realize just how subtly draining and heartbreaking it is. From forum posts where people belittle others not based on what they have said but what broad type of game they play, making absurd claims that in any other area of interest would be laughed at or scorned as simplistic and inaccurate. Instead, you hear refrains of “You have to listen to WHAT he says, not how he says it” or merely the ba-ba of sheeple overwhelmed with their need to belong to yet another, different hate group. Now, I will most heartily agree that there are positive folks out there. Clash, Alan, Scott, Mike and several others you could possibly name. However, most often, it is like you are four guys at a KKK rally talking about racial tolerance while the several hundred white robed looks burn a cross and beat up a black guy. The RPG “community” is like that clan meeting. Tolerance, true tolerance of different games from what you play (note: if you don’t like it don’t talk about it) is just not the common ground of any forum, blog or community for RPGS.

Finally, I have to stress it again, if you are in it, you probably don’t even know it. You think that all is fine, all is great because you had a thread last month that did not devolve into an endless back and forth about the “right way to play”…well, except for that one guy and he was playing the game wrong.

Now, as far as this goes, it is something of a rant in that it should not be taken too seriously. If you are happy, then great. I have just found a few common threads and practices that leave me wondering, thinking that maybe, in a roundabout way, I might be onto something. It is backed up with having some great gaming over the past couple of weeks, meeting great folks who never logged onto RPG.FORUM.HATE.YOUR.GAME.com. Inevitably, the ones who were bitter, the few, were the ones who were avid members of one online community or several. Give yourself a break, play a game.

Good gaming everyone.

April 20, 2010

“You’re playing that wrong”

Filed under: Games — Tags: , — bilbo @ 8:36 pm

I have never, in my 30 some years of gaming, understood this as it applies to RPGs, especially in the context of “as the game was intended”. I have run WoD with super heroes, DND in sci-fi settings and monopoly as an RPG. I have yet to find a system that you cannot tweak to do what you want or even just play it out of the box but put a different setting to it. I have seen these, I have no good name for them, shall we try systemic zealot, who believes in some sort of holy grail of “as the designer intended” or “goals of the system”. No one has ever shown me a system that can enforce a type of play and short of a seriously broken system, I doubt there is one. All systems are universal. You may not like the elements that system produces or your opinion may be that the system does not support the elements that you believe are necessary for a setting/genre but those are highly subjective and far from a valid basis for declarations that someone is “playing the game wrong”.

Now, you might say, Bill, my demented game designer, what about the designer, surely, he must know the intended form of play!! First off, stop calling me surely. Second, no, not really. Once you have a game, especially an RPG, it is yours. The designer is irrelevant beyond possible comments or explanations of how he viewed it while writing and playing the game but [b]those views are equally as valid as yours or anyone who plays the game[/b]. I know, as a game designer, I am supposed to push the myth that we are somehow the authority. Somehow, we know what is right for our games and that they can never be played except in the manner we conceive. Sorry to disappoint but no dice…er, diceless…yeah.

So next time you have the urge to tell someone “Oh! you aren’t playing that game the way it was intended!!”, take a deep breath and don’t. Just say no.

Hint for those without a sense of humor: The above may be directed at you, but most likely it is not. If it is (and you would be a weird minority if it did) the good, and I hope it pissed you off.

April 9, 2010

Supers Inc and a 10 year old

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:40 am

I ran an intro at a neighborhood store the other night and had a range of folks at the table. Amongst them were a 40ish engineer, a 20 something comic fan, a 16 old store attendant and a 10 year old girl. I ran a pretty standard Supers Inc game where they had to do a high profile rescue of a Senator’s son. He was 20 and they were terrorists holding him for the release of a list of prisoners. The team did not know it at the time but their corporate sponsors were broke and were sending them to their deaths to recover the insurance money.

Engineer spent most of the time trying to convince me that my physics were wrong. Comic boy moaned about how this was not silver age and I had it all wrong. Store attendant would rather have been getting a root canal. But this little ten year old girl played it to the friggin hilt. She was playing a 10 year old much the same as here but with intangibility. She barely could grasp the system but it did not bother her, she would do stuff like “I want to go through that car and break the engine” and I would tell her what to roll and she would ask what she needed and get really excited about the outcome.

I want to stress, this is not about “getting Supers Inc” but about getting the game. She was having fun. I think there are just some gamers that don’t get that anymore. I cannot for the life of me understand why you would continue to play if you had lost that joie de vivre that games should give you. This is not work, it should be entertainment.

So, next time you are feeling down about your game, sit down with niece, nephew, son, friends kid, who ever of the appropriate age and get your game on. You may be surprised just how much they get, how much fun they have and how refreshing it is to just play.

April 6, 2010

Skills for AI

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:49 am

Skills for AI have been handled in two ways in Iridium. First, there was essentially spending XP in learning new skills. This was meant to mimic neural learning nets. Second, there were S.C.I.M. slots. There are basically computer programs as they could be swapped out. The basic bays could be upgraded to and added on to increase the total skills. Ranks in the skills would cost more credits but take the same slots. So, you could have Unarmed Combat a 1 or at rank 5 and it would skill only take 1 S.C.I.M. slot but would cost the difference between say, 1 KC and 25 KC.

I can see the argument for the first way but really favor the second. Thoughts?

April 1, 2010

Creating Races in Iridium

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 2:57 pm

This is taken from an article on the site. I will be updating it for Iridium V2 but surprisingly it probably will not change much.

The following is for people who might wish to create their own races for any of our settings. The process is very simple and can be accomplished in about half an hour.

Racial Concept
The first step is to form a mental concept of the new race. For example, a new, inoffensive race is needed to populate a newly discovered planet in a Nebuleon (Sci-Fi) campaign. Knowledge of the planet (a temperate water and swamp world) and what is needed for the campaign (primitive natives that can help or hinder the player characters, depending on how the first meeting goes) should help develop a racial concept. With that goal in mind, the following concept for the new race, called the Rihdahn, can be created.

The Rihdahn are amphibious and live on the many riverbanks of their word. They use tools but are not very dexterous. They stand between 1.4 and 1.8 m and weigh about 50-60 kg. The have rubbery skin like a dolphin but have a large number of tentacles for their base and an upper body with three primary tentacle stalks that they use as hands. Their heads are compact and they have no neck and shoulders to speak of. Their face is a mash of six eyes placed around their head and a central mouth filled with teeth. The Rihdahn appearance can be misleading, allowing one to believe they are ferocious hunters when they actually prefer a form of fresh water vegetation.

The Rihdahn are willing servants and love the chance to travel. They were first discovered by a RFW survey team and have since worked well in water environments as scouts. Unfortunately, they have little aptitude with technology and have had little success in the greater sense of the Nebuleos.
Racial Modifiers

Racial modifiers should reflect the nature of the race to be defined. Minor modifiers of plus one or two should reflect natural aptitudes, such as an increased agility for multi-legged creatures. Larger modifiers of plus three or more should be restricted to truly super-natural attributes beyond the ability of humans to attain. On rare occasions, a guaranteed above 20 stat may be appropriate, such as the appearance of elves in our fantasy setting. It is not necessary to have stat pluses and minuses balance out, but any obvious stat advantages need to be compensated with a social or physical restriction (race is discriminated against, or lacks a corporeal body, etc).

The Rihdahn have the following adjustments:
-5 +4 -1 +2 -2
+2 -4 +0
Spiritual LUC PIE WIL
+0 +2 +2

Remember, not every attribute needs a modifier.

Racial Abilities
Racial abilities are innate things like natural armor, spell casting capabilities, or flight. Abilities like night sight and extraordinary sense of smell can be defined in terms of percentage beyond normal sense or their chance to use it. For instance, extraordinary sense of sell of 40% means the race has a 40% chance of smelling a scent not normally available to humans. A race with 40% night sight would be able to see 40% as well in the dark as they would in daylight. Alternatively, the GM could make the character check on percentiles making them roll under the 40%.

The Rihdahn have a thin layer of blubber that gives them a small amount of protective armor. This equates to 10 points in all areas. They are also amphibious and can hold their breath under water for 20 minutes.

Racial weaknesses should also be included here. The Rihdahn dehydrate quickly and do not handle heat well. This translates into a CON check for every day they are away from water. If they fail, they will collapse and be unable to even walk. They will need to be immersed in water for one hour for every day of dryness.
Racial Skills

Racial skills are those skills that a race shares coming from a similar culture. In other words, elves from the woods might use and make bows but elves from the desert would more likely be able to find water. The number of racial skills depends on the general likelihood that all in the race would be exposed to learning it. Alternatively, it can be an indicator of cultural diversity within the race.
The Rihdahn are excellent swimmers and trackers. They also know a great deal about plants.

They receive the following skills:

* Two Tracking Skills
* Three Swimming Skills
* One Herbology Skill

And that’s an example of creating a new race for Nebuleon. This example was more detailed than necessary. A faster creation method merely requires an outline of Racial Modifiers, Abilities and Skills.

Here is a printable version of the Rihdahn
. Have fun creating races!

April Fools

Filed under: General — Tags: — bilbo @ 8:24 am

I really hate practical jokes. It just is not my thing. I mean, if you do, that’s great but I just find the whole thing annoying. I have never found how humiliating or belittling your customers was a good practice. That said, a joke product is fine (heck, one could argue that SA! is all about that) but that is not what I am talking about. It is more misinformation by a company and on a personal level.

Short version, you will not see HinterWelt or me celebrating April Fools. 😉

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