Sunday, August 18, 2019

RPGaDay Challenge 2019 - PLENTY

An interesting thing happened to me the other day that hasn't happened in a good, long while.

I was having dinner with my girlfriend and her friends and found out that two of them play Dungeons & Dragons. Pretty seriously too. They were a couple and the fellow made a D&D related joke, one only gamers would really get, so I knew they were the real deal. 

Apparently my girlfriend had told them about me and that I gamed as well. I said, "Yes I am a big RPG fan. Have been for a long time. I just don't really play Dungeons and Dragons".

To which the fellow inquired, "Oh, so more computer, video game RPGs?"

I chuckled, "No, no, definitely tabletop, just not D&D."

He seemed a little confused. " Warhammer? Miniatures?"

Here were two people well versed in the Dungeons and Dragons game who were largely unaware that there were other RPGs out there. I know this is a thing but I don't recall encountering this personally since the 80s I think. Just as they must have assumed D&D is the only game of its kind, so did I assume everyone who knew there was one RPG must automatically know there are many. 

And there are...many that is. One could say...Plenty.

The fact is we live in an amazing time in which there are Plenty of RPGs not only available for purchase and even for free, but covering Plenty of different genres and styles. With the internet as a resource you can buy and download PDFs or order physical copies of an absolute plethora of games.

RPGs new and old, serious and comedic, Fantasy to Modern, Superhero to Hard SF, one-shot party games to those designed for long term play are available to virtually anyone who has access to a computer. 

Why then would people only play or even know about only one game? 

It's a strange mirror to my last post that I can barely conceive of the idea of only playing one game and yet there are those that do just that. They do it and are happy and that's both infinitely wonderful and totally bizarre to me. 

There are Plenty of games out there, ipso facto I want to play Plenty of games.

Again, as before, I use a food analogy (because I am a bit of a foodie) and try to imagine eating the same meal over and over again. As much as I love Sushi (and I do LOVE Sushi), I don't think I could eat it for dinner 7 nights a week. I would get bored of it and then probably lose interest in having it again for a long, long time. 

Part of me is saddened by the possible realization that there indeed Plenty of RPGs but that Plenty aren't being played. Plenty are probably purchased but I wonder how often they are being brought to the table instead of tried and true games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and a few others. 

In response, and to some up this post, go play an RPG you haven't played before. Run one you've never run. Pass on to your fellow gamers the word that Plenty of games exist and as such we should each give Plenty of them a chance. 

You may not find any you like more than the one(s) you are currently playing. On the other hand you may find...Plenty.

Barking Alien

Saturday, August 17, 2019

RPGaDay Challenge 2019 - ONE


One is the loneliest number.

If there can be only One, it should be One in a million. One singular sensation.

Most of all, the One that you want. 

Let's go with the old, 'If you were stuck on a desert island with only One RPG, what would you want it to be'? Basically, if you could only play One game for the rest of your life, what is that game?


One game?! It's hard for me to picture myself not going bonkers with access to only One game. My personal opinion and outlook on the hobby is that each RPG should support a setting, genre, or style of play and therefore no one game can be the perfect game for every situation. 

It's not that I don't believe in the idea of generic or multi-genre systems. I have certainly run Hero System for more than Champions and used systems for subjects they weren't specifically designed for. At the same time, my preference is that the mechanics fit the game and the game the mechanics. I don't like it when my fluff and crunch feel like two separate things that aren't meshing together. 

Still, if I only have One RPG at my disposal, shouldn't it be a game that can do a variety of genres and setting decently well?

By my own logic and reasoning, I would choose One game that could do many things or at least most of the many things I would want to use it for. In other words, if I were stuck with but a single system, I would want it to be a system that could run Star Trek, Star Wars, other Spacefaring Sci-Fi, Superheroes, and maybe Giant Robots. So...some variant of the Interlock System by R. Talsorian Games? Mekton perhaps or Teenagers from Outer Space?

The other approach to this is to choose One's favorite game. If I am only able to play One RPG, why not have it be the RPG I love the most. Well friends and fans, that ain't so easy when you're Adam 'Barking Alien' Dickstein. 

I love Pork Ramen, especially if it's spicy, but I can't eat it every day. Nor could I eat Tacos every day and damn if they aren't a favorite as well. I'm just not wired that way. I want, nay need, variety. 

My favorite RPG at present is, well, ugh, that's another thing that makes this tough. I can't really decide. I am loving the Year Zero system variant I am using for my FRONTIER Sci-Fi campaign, but I am also having a blast with Modiphius Entertainment's Star Trek Adventures. Star Wars D6 by West End Games remains my all time fave rules wise of course, at least for the time being. 

In the end, I can't really decide. One of these, One thing will lead to another, and I'll give it One more try. 

Oh well. Another One bites the dust.

Barking Alien

Friday, August 16, 2019

RPGaDay Challenge 2019 - DREAM

Dream, huh?

Seriously? This is what I was referring to in my last post. Dream is so broad, so generic, and just so over used a word that it isn't really all that interesting. It could be, even should be, but it's heard so often as to become banal even as it implies aspects of thought, hope, aspiration, and imagination.

I Dream that the word prompts get more exciting. *Sigh*

The only thing I can think of at this point for Dream is describing my Dream game. 

You may have seen me tackle this before on my blog as the subject of one's Dream game has come up in the past, perhaps even several times. The thing of it is, one's Dream game can change and therefore it's worth considering again from time to time. 

A Dream game can go as far as being truly a Dream, with unrealistic parameters and criteria that one could never achieve. For example, I could Dream up the perfect Star Trek campaign and include my late, much loved friend Allen, but that is a game that will never come to pass. Incidentally, I miss that guy something fierce. 

Being more realistic in my Dreaming, what game would I run now, that I could run now, if I could run it?

Funny, I feel like I am currently running one of my Dream games. 

My Science Fiction/Horror Space Adventure FRONTIER, which has had but two sessions so far, is a game I've wanted to do for over 30 years. More accurately I've been thinking up ideas related to the concept for 30 plus years. 

In addition to the premise - A group of Scientists and Engineers on a distant Space Station working on Scientific Breakthroughs to save a Dying Earth - I have gathered what is turning out to be a near-perfect cast. A diverse group of smart players with quirk but believable characters who interact well and are immersed in the universe. If that isn't your Dream team what is, right?

Back to my Dream game...I really don't know. I am really happy with FRONTIER, content with Star Trek and Champions campaigns, and while I am looking to do one more, I don't feel like it qualifies as a Dream game. I view my next project, whatever it is, as 'What is the most I can get out of what I've got to work with'? If I can make that happen, I will be very happy. 

Maybe someday I will have an itch to run the perfect game, with the perfect group, and when the concept comes to me I'll definitely want to share it with all of you.

A fellow can Dream can't he? 

Barking Alien

Thursday, August 15, 2019

RPGaDay Challenge 2019 - DOOR


Maybe it's Challenge Fatigue, maybe it's my busy Real Life and offline Gaming Life, but I am finding the last few words less than inspiring. As I am trying to write posts based on the first thing the prompt word brings to mind I am stymied. Nothing immediately comes to mind with Guide, Door, and a few of the next ones. 

Personally I think my first posts for this year's RPGaDay event were darn good. I apologize if the next few are not up to par. I'm trying to do my best. I'm sure one I get past the week I'll be back on track. 

The only thing that pops into my head when I see the word Door is my old Door Test. 

In a nutshell, I used to think that I could tell whether or not a potential player would fit with my group and my GMing style just by giving them a little test. It went something like this...

I would say, "You walk down the rough, stone corridor of an ancient, underground dungeon. You come to a wooden door on the left side wall that is open just a tiny crack. From out in the corridor you can see a large, armored person in a long cloak looking at a glowing gem. The gem is about twice the size of a Human fist. It is floating five feet off the ground. It glows with a violet light, crackling periodically with pale pink electricity. 

What do you do?"

If the participant asks how big the door is, how far the door is open, what they themselves are carrying, what they can do, or anything like that, I am going to answer but mark a mental X. If they're first question is followed by yet another similar question, more strikes are marked until the buzzer sounds and the person is politely informed we're going a different way. 

Worse yet would be anyone who asks the same questions but needing exacting measurements or questioning what type of door it is. This people are excused immediately and likely security will be summoned to see them out. 

So what passes? Not only will I tell you, I'll tell you what passed with flying colors...

"I kick open the door, level my long sword at the armored fiend and call out, 'Foul Villain! Release the Heart of Vel'Var'Vos or be destroyed!"

"I draw my sword, pull up my hood to hide my face, and open the door. I say in a deep voice, "M'Lord! Thieves have entered the dungeon. Get to safety. I will protect the gem. I swear to guard it with my life!' (guy's eyes dart back and forth suspiciously)"

"Um...Can I take it? (said in a cute, upbeat voice)" Are you asking me or...the armored person? "I...I just take it. He won't mind." LOL

Basically, if you can fall right into it, invest, commit, get creative, yet also work with what you're given, you are very likely gonna fit right it. 

I haven't used this 'test' in a long time. It isn't scientific by any means and doesn't take a lot of other factors into consideration that might give someone who seems otherwise incompatible a fighting chance.

Still and all, it worked. It never steered me wrong. Not once. 

If you had a similar test let know. If you had a different approach to vetting new players, what was it? I am eager to find out. My Door is always open. 

Barking Alien

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

RPGaDay Challenge 2019 - GUIDE

Approaching this one as I have the others so far, 'Word Prompt via Word Association', is proving to be tricky. Nothing in really comes to mind. I wish I had someone or something, like a more experienced blogger or a manual, that could lead me in a particular direction. You know like a...wait a minute...

A Guide is a generally a person or book that directs you to a place or through a task. A Guide helps you accomplish something that would otherwise be difficult to do on your own. A model kit's painting Guide tells you the correct colors to use and where they go on the model. A tour Guide takes you along a path and shows you all the famous sites of a city or other famous location. 

These are great if you want to paint the model 'accurately' to match it's real world appearance or see the parts of a place you're visiting that you know already know from the brochures. 

What if you want a custom paint job? What if you want to eat where the locals eat in the cool neighborhoods the tourists done know about? Is there a Guide for that? If so, that's the Guide I want to hire. 

I am not much for Guides you see. Not really. I prefer to figure things out on my own. Give me the tools, maybe some suggestions, and I will figure it out. I don't mind help, it's not about pride or ego but rather I learn better by doing. I want to develop my own view points, my own opinions, and my own style. 

The rulebooks give you the rules and tell you how to play, and sure my first GM helped but he was younger than me and just as new at the hobby. His first game was mine as well. His older brother helped him understand the rules but didn't really 'Guide' him. We, he, the other players, and I developed our comprehension of the RPGing together. This is why, to this day, my style in the little different from the norm. 

My Guidance to others is this, let your conscience, creativity, and dedication be your Guide. 

Barking Alien