HinterBlog

July 10, 2010

The Practical Side of Brevity

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:51 am

There is a time and a place to go verbose and profound, and there are times when brevity is better. Brevity can drive a point home or fire the imagination. Let’s look at an example.

The forest is covered in a gloomy fog, forbidding to look upon, the trees dripping with moss. The darkness seems to cling to all areas as though made of molasses. A smell of a an ancient healthy forest gone to rot assaults your senses in waves declaring, “Leave this place or join us!”. At first, the forest seems quiet then you realize, in the back of your head, there is a screaming, a terror that speaks with your voice. You know this wood is evil and will be your end.

The above might be considered verbose and I would agree. However, it is to the point and appropriate. It would decrease the description, the art of setting the mood to shorten it too much. For example.

The woods are evil and will spell your end.

The above does nothing to fire the imagination. However, we could tighten a bit and spin a different feel.

The wood is dark and forbidding. You are not sure why, but it seems there is an eerie quality that warns you to stay out, to fear it. It warns that your fate will be met here.

Brief and it leaves much of the details to the player. Also, and this is important, it stimulate questions.

Hmm, you ask, why are questions important?

Simply, because it engages the players. It engages their curiosity. The first description engages their senses, describing each one by one. This is a valid means to describing interaction in your games, getting your players to ask questions, to mine for more detail. To build that imagery with their own questions int heir own way, makes for the players to make the setting their own.

So, the practical side of brevity:
1. engages the players in a DIALOGUE with the GM and allows them to be involved.
2. Gets the players thinking about the setting in terms of their interaction with it.
3. Helps them define how they can understand the setting through their own methods of doing so. For example, some folks may care little for “senses” and need hard measurements;i.e. how far from the forest are we, how tall are the trees, how long is the grass. This allows them to engage on their terms, not just the GMs.

Good Gaming!

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 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.

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