Friday, October 28, 2011

What I Find Horrific

Wednesday was my usual Deadlands game and I had a great time there, but it did cause me to realize something - I'm a horrible player for horror games (consonance for fun and profit!).

A lot of horror is built around disempowering the protagonist. And that doesn't make me feel afraid or nervous, it irritates me, rather than causing me to want to escape my deep-seated reaction is to turn and charge.

For me, the horror in games is the consequences of choices made - having to make horrible choices versus having gruesome things happen to my character, especially if there's no control over it. "This horrible thing happens to you." "Do I get to try to avoid it?" "No, there's no escape." "Oh, well fine then."

It is probably why I don't like horror movies much - they aren't scary - they can be startling and cause me to jump and react; they can be gruesome and cause me flinch or become nauseated; but horror? Fear? Scared? Not really.

For me horror are those moments when someone looks around them and say, "My god, what have I done?" That's horror. Shock gruesomeness doesn't horrify me, nor do bad things happening to me that I have no control over. But something horrible happening that I could have prevented? Now that's horrifying because then I'm an agent of the awfulness that on some level - it is my fault. Remove agency and you don't have horror, you have life.

This isn't to say anything bad about the GM, I'm the one who can't do horror games. But I've should have realized that, even in Call of Cthulhu games I tend to be a fighter, and I tend to make choices that interact with the plot versus avoiding it in an attempt to save my life/sanity.

Plus it is a game where the fun for me comes from interacting in the world. Sitting somewhere safe makes for a an alive protagonist, but not much fun. Just some sleepy, pre-work thoughts on horror.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Tale of Three Cities

So I've decided I am going to run a game of the Dresden Files, set in the Dresden Files world. Other than it being pre-Changes, I don't have a firm opinion of when it will be set in the continuity; other than to say that once the game starts continuity goes out the window. The rest is behind the break.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Greatest Hits: Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts

The following post is something that I wrote years ago after attending a conference at Dragon*Con.

* * *

Or other things every character needs. Nothing that I'm going to write about here is going to be shocking, or new to experienced writers or gamers, nor is it even going to be all that earth-shattering, the author and speaker, Debra Dixon, admits that readily. What she did was write it down. And occasionally, that's all it takes. The title of the book was the shocking and thrilling: Goal, Motivation, & Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction.

Please note that when I make statements about gaming, I am talking about my own insights, the ones regarding everything else are Dixon's.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I have to be insane...

Because I'm contemplating running a game, basically seven months after I feeling I was burnt out.

I want to try out Dresden Files - one because I enjoy modern urban fantasy; and two, the Fate system appeals to my theoretical preferences. It would be my first choice.

Eclipse Phase could be a lot of fun, I just worry about finding a group who wants to do the number crunching for  character creation. It would probably be the easiest to do episodically.

Smallville looks interesting for the creation mechanics, but I'm not sure what to do with drama-centric superhero themed game as a GM. It can do more, but I don't have it in me to generate enough stuff to do some other genre.

Basically I want to run some small group 3-4 players games, where the players have a lot authorial privilege to do stuff beyond the straight forward plot. I've been in a couple small games where it seems the smallness allows there to be a different interchange as people play off each other.

I'll probably return to this later, but I really should be focusing on doing work.

We'll see how 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Riffing off a theme: Experience Points

I apologize if this is something jargon rich/disjointed. I'm trying to capture ideas off a post-it note before I forget entirely what the coded phrases meant.

Rob Donoghue discussed a week and change ago a method for handing out roleplay and exploration rewards. It was a neat concept of ways to quantify what rewards a PC/party gets for doing stuff outside of beating things/people/animals up and taking their loot. While it has a strong D&D focus, at the end he mentions White Wolf and "I'd forgo levels in favor of rating things from 1-5 dots and just be a little more stringy about how they level up.

Historically, most of my gaming has been White Wolf in one form or another. However, I've always had issues with XP rewards, mostly because they scale too fast, and as my Exalted game demonstrated, my players are more than capable of slow playing to get more XP.

For every major plot element important to a particular character, group, campaign, etc, you write it down; and then you rate it from 1 to 5:
1 - Plot element is only important to a particularly character
2 - Plot element is only important to the group
3 - Plot element is lightly important to the campaign
4 - Plot element is moderately important to the campaign
5 - Plot element is critically important to the campaign

The five phrases are (and each one can only be accomplished once):
Opening (1xp) - The Plot Element is introduced into the game.
Trigger (2xp) - The Plot Element is afoot; first chance for the characters to delve into the plot.
Development (3xp) - Action is rising; further developments, investigations, and
Climax (4xp) - The decision is made to confront/vex/counter/fully engage the plot element
Resolution (5xp) - The plot element is brought to some sort of conclusion; for now.
The key element here is that the plot element is not a person/place or thing; it is something to be resolved; it is a challenge, a conflict, a mystery to be solved. It needs to be an action, so that if players want the more XP cookie, then they need to be moving stuff towards resolution.

As I look over this it looks like it would cause XP to given in large globs. The first 2-3 phrases can happen fairly quickly and grant anywhere from 6-30 experience points depending on how the session goes. However, one would presume that generally the Development phrase would last longer and be a bit of a dry spell for XP afterwards as they work through those phases.