Monday, August 2, 2021

RPGaDay Challenge 2021 - MAP



I love Maps. I just don't love using them. 

Let me explain...








Maps are, for me at least, a very beautiful but very specific form of art.

They are [generally speaking] depictions of places, ranging from the interiors of buildings to the geological and topographical features of planetary bodies. The most wonderful thing about Maps in my humble, personal opinion is that these places need not exist. Since they are works of art, they rely primarily on the skill and imagination of their creators and therefore may be real or fictional.

This means that while they are certainly a useful tool for determining where one is and how to get where one want to go, Maps are equally impressive for showing use the relationship between several points that need not be anywhere in reality. Images showing us where the Misty Mountains are in relation to Hobbiton and how far Tatooine is from the Core Worlds of Coruscant and Kuat are of just as much interest to me as the GPS that tells me how to get from my apartment to my favorite restaurants in the Midtown Manhattan. Likely more so. 

When it comes to gaming, I don't use Maps for the purpose of showing my players where their PC is standing, how far the opponents is from them, how many 'spaces' or 'hexes' it is to the door or anything like that. My games aren't war games and I usually don't bother with range unless there is some narrative or dramatic reason to do so. 

I use Maps to say, 'Look at this World Building! Look how cool this place is!' I want you to see the setting in a way that intrinsically makes it more real because as Humans we are trained to understand that if there is a Map to it, it must be a place. I couldn't care less if a Map depicts how many weeks of overland travel it takes to get from one adventure to the next but I do want the visual that says, 'This is far. This is going to take some time and go through so spectacular terrain.'

Maps are fascinating to me but distances less so.

AD
Barking Alien






RPGaDay Challenge 2021 - SCENARIO




What an excellent first prompt.

A quintessential element of Tabletop Role-Playing Games and one about which I and likely many other gamers have definitive thoughts about. 

It's probably no surprise that I approach Scenarios a little differently from the majority of my fellow Gamemasters. Before I address exactly what goes into my Scenario design, I think it's helpful to define what a Scenario is.

First, what is the actual meaning of the word independent from its RPGaming connotations. According to Dictionary.com, Scenario means:

  • An outline of the plot of a dramatic work, giving particulars as to the scenes, characters, situations, etc.
  • The outline or the manuscript of a motion picture or television program, giving the action in the order in which it takes place, the description of scenes and characters, etc.
  • An imagined or projected sequence of events, especially any of several detailed plans or possibilities: 'One scenario calls for doubling profits by increasing our advertising, the other by reducing costs.'

What I find really interesting about these definitions is that all of them sort of relate to how RPGs use the term but there isn't a single one that nails it exactly. Don't get me wrong, that totally makes sense as these meaning weren't intended to be used by gamers. They were meant for normal speech by regular people. Game-Speak is a whole other animal. 

A gaming Scenario is essentially an Adventure intended to be played through by a GM and a group of players that consists of various combat encounters, discoveries, role-playing scenes,  and other bits that challenge all involved. 

The key thing for me is that all of the above definitions use terms like 'outline' or 'imagined or projected'. This fits with my idea of making sure Scenarios in my own campaigns aren't rigid, inflexible, or even overly specific. My Scenarios tend to have a more general, big picture overview, with the details and specifics being variable.

For many of my games I don't really write Adventures or Scenarios in the traditional sense. I have ideas as to which NPCs are up to what, where they are located now or where they are headed, and then sprinkle in various means and ways the PCs can find out about all this. As such, I am totally open to the players/PCs checking out other people, places, and ideas found in the world setting. PCs can go off script in my Scenarios because, simply put, there isn't a script. 

Entry 1 - Scenario

AD
Barking Alien. 






Thursday, July 29, 2021

August Rush

My series of blog posts dedicated to Japanese Tabletop RPGs has been delayed by my overactive but under performing brain. My head is in too many places as once and the next set of posts on Superhero RPGs in Japan has suffered because of it.

In addition, my business has been picking up considerably. I've starting going back to the gym and otherwise exercising more regularly. All positives to be sure but ones that have taken up a good deal of my energy and time. 

As July ends and August begins, my aforementioned analysis of Japanese TRPGS in general and Superhero ones specifically are going to have to remain on hold. At least for a while.

For August, I am once again going to be participating in the RPGaDay Challenge. This year - 2021 - will see my 7th annual outing with this initiative and while I have often teased it, taunted it, and even outright mocked it on various occasions...I have to admit I love it. I really enjoy challenging myself to complete the entire RPGaDay month, even when the prompts have been incredibly frustrating. 


This year, I am pretty happy with the primary prompt words. I find them simple, straightforward, and at the same time full of the capacity for expansive interpretation. Most notably the words this year seem a heck of a lot more interesting then last year. Maybe they saw how much difficulty a number of us had in 2020 and decided to go with terms that were more RPG oriented. 

Alternative words have also been included in case the main prompt doesn't do anything for you but I'll definitely be sticking with the primary ones. It just seems more sporting for some reason.




What I am especially pleased to see is that they have fixed my biggest complaint of last year: The early prompts - the first week or so - are good ones. In 2020 the few good prompts came towards the end. The first dozen or so words were kind of lame, dampening ones' enthusiasm for continuing. 

Yes, I can already see a few tough ones on this prompt calendar. There are certainly words that I will find difficult to write anything engaging about, at least at first glance. My hope is that the early ones will excite me and rev up my energy for tackling the trickier ones. We shall see.

Anywho, Japanese Tabletop Gaming shall return in September along with a variety of other bits and bobs. In the meantime, here's hoping you will join me and many other RPG fans for the RPGaDay 2021 Event this August. 

See you then,

AD
Barking Alien


PS: Don't forget that August 25th marks my 44th Year in the Hobby Anniversary! Woot!





 


Monday, July 5, 2021

VISIONS of The Force

Two of my biggest loves in the world of Pop Culture Entertainment and Role Playing Games are Star Wars and Anime/Manga as clearly evidenced by recent and past posts on both subjects. It's a shame that the two were never fully combined into one amazing Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of complimentary awesomeness. 

Wait...what's this? 


Whoah. I think I died and became a Force Ghost. Force Yokai? Are there Force Yokai? I suppose there could be now...

Star Wars Visions is an all new short form, animated anthology series set in that familiar galaxy far, far away, produced by Lucasfilms and featuring the work of seven different Japanese Anime studios. It is Star Wars through the eyes of some of the top creative teams in Japan, paying homage to both the legendary universe of Droids and Jedi and the cultural perspective of those artists involved. 

There will be nine shorts in total:

  • The Duel by Kamikaze Douga
  • Lop and Ocho by Geno Studio
  • Tatooine Rhapsody by Studio Colorido
  • The Twins by Trigger
  • The Elder by Trigger
  • The Village Bride by Kinema Citrus
  • Akakiri by Science Saru
  • TO-B1 by Science Saru
  • The Ninth Jedi by Production I.G.

After seeing the trailer, which is really more of a 'behind the scenes' look at the creation of some of these shorts, I am even more excited about this series than I was when the idea was first announced in December of last year. Already I am in love with some of the character designs and art styles and very eager to absorb the stories that will surround them. 

Sometime later this month, if all goes well, I will tackle Star Wars TRPG gaming in Japan and what Star Wars Visions might add to running that universe in my own games. Since much of my gaming is Anime influenced already (even when it isn't an 'Anime/Manga Game', I feel like this could inspire a whole new long term Star Wars campaign. 

Check out some of the concept art below...



From 'The Duel' by Kamikaze Douga



From 'Lop and Ocho' by Geno Studio



From 'Twins' by Trigger



From 'The Ninth Jedi' by Production I.G


.
From 'Tatooine Rhapsody' by Studio Colorido


Star Wars Visions will drop on Disney+ on September 22nd, 2021. According to current reports, the entire series will be available to stream on that day. You can see the trailer here.

More news and information as it becomes available.

フォースと共にあれ (Foosu to tomo ni are). 

May the Force be with you.

AD
Barking Alien






 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Fireworks

 Hi all,

Sorry for the long delay in getting back to my blog and coverage of Tabletop RPGs in Japan. I've been busy with some real world concerns, most of which have already been dealt with and the results have been positive. Although I am still struggling with some elements, things are generally looking up and so I can get back to doing what I love - jabbering about obscure subjects only a handful of people care about. Yay me!

While I have you here, I thought I'd update you on my 'State of Gaming' and where I and this blog are going in the near future...

These days I am only playing in one game and it's a great one. I am currently in year five of our bi-weekly Hogwarts/Wizarding World campaign. This game continues to be amazing and I am absolutely loving it. Kudos and thanks to my friend and Gamemaster Alex.

I am currently running my ongoing Star Trek: Prosperity campaign, a bi-weekly Star Trek Adventures game now in its fifth year of real time. 'Season 6' has had a bit of a 'Horror' feel to it and remains popular among all the players and myself. 

Additionally, I am running a weekly Mobile Suit Gundam game, UC 0079: The Siege of New York, using my homebrew Mecha System Variant game mechanics. I have decided they need more playtesting and so that is essentially what I am doing as I run this campaign. The campaign is likely to end soon and I am not entirely sure what the follow up will be. 

Later this month I will be starting a Champions 4th Edition campaign set in the my favorite milieu, the Champions Universe of my friend William Corpening's 10+ year campaign. Tentatively, this campaign has been titled 'Champions: UNITY'. I have not revisited this world or the Champions game since the passing of my friend Dave Cotton. It is a little melancholy to think about running a Champions game without Dave but I think it's time and I will be introducing the setting to a group largely if not completely unfamiliar with it which is very exciting. It's a 'Dedicated to Dave', spread the love kind of thing.

Finally, and this is big, we are tentatively set to run the final Episode/Session of our ALIEN FRONTIER campaign on August 7th. This will be an in-person game, not remote, with roughly 8 players and myself, at a public play location. More details as they become available. So excited for this I don't even have the words.

There is a lot more I'd like to talk about but most of it is not directly related to the games I'm currently playing in and running. Instead, my goal is to get back to the subject of Japanese TRPGs and so I'll end here with this...




Happy Fourth of July to the United States of America and all my friends and family who dwell within it. Though an imperfect work to put it mildly, it is nonetheless a grand experiment and a thing of beauty. As we celebrate, let us also contemplate how to truly progress and improve for the betterment of all people.

AD
Barking Alien