Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Accidentally Awesome

Almost all of my best RPG adventures and campaigns have come about largely by accident.
Tell me you haven't been here...

Imagine a snowstorm prevents most of your players from arriving for a game. Perhaps you realize you left your bag with your game books and materials home when you arrive at the game site. One day, Murphy's Law goes all 'Judge Dread' on you and nearly everyone has to cancel at the last possible moment. Have you ever woken up burned out and wanted to try something different for a change? Maybe you found a new game and asked your players, "Hey can we give this a shot? I just want to see how it plays." Maybe you've always wanted to try game X and as you sit down to play game Y the group says, "You know that game you've always wanted to play. We talked about it and we want to give it a go. Today."

Well all of these things have indeed happened to me and my response is to tell everyone who showed up to grab a piece of paper, write down some numbers and see what happens.

Recently, it just so happened that I came across the game InSpectres around the same time that I was getting ready for the next season of Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International to start. Then I realized that it was the 25th Anniversary of Ghostbusters and a new video game had come out. All thisclicked in my head within the span of two weeks. Next thing I know, I'm contacting my friends and saying, "Hey would you guys like to try a Ghostbusters RPG one-shot?"

The answer was yes and the one-shot went over much better than anticipated. For one thing, I mixed the humor of Ghostbusters with a downright sad and scary ghost story, directly tied into actual New Jersey folklore. I've never liked 'Horror RPGs' but a merging of horror, humor and mystery is very fun indeed.

The group is not of the 'Shoot first/Trap later' variety but instead tries to figure out why the ghost is still hanging around and then sees if they can help it move on. This quickly developed a unique identity to the team and its members and I saw more roleplaying in that 8 hour session then I sometimes see in any other 3 or 4 sessions with other games and groups. The second adventure had a heavy dose of action and proton blasting as the ghost in that scenario was bent on revenge.

All in all, a pretty awesome game that happened largely on a lark. I wish all my games could be like that but if I try to make them so...well then it wouldn't be accidental would it. Sigh.

Barking Alien

Monday, August 24, 2009

In the Windmills of My Mind

Here's a little bit of what's been going on in my life and on my mind since last I was posting regularly.

I have had the pleasure of seeing my nephew more often then I expected and enjoyed every minute of it. He's awesome. Now if he would just hurry up and reach the age where he can understand an RPG rulebook...

I am taking apprenticeship classes to become a professional dog trainer. If I could do anything with my professional life outside of gaming it is this. I just love dogs.

My mention of Ace of Cakes last post reminded me that one of the things I've wanted to do for a very long time was, for my 40th birthday, get Charm City Cakes to do an 'in scale' Green Lantern 'Lantern' cake. Unfortunately, they were not taking orders during or even sometime before and after my birthday. And, you have to place the order 6 months to a year in advance (or at least you did at the time I checked). Damn. Well, there's always 50...

I am currently running two games, one regularly, the other slightly irregularly.

The first is a monthly, year long campaign of Mutants & Masterminds, destined to end this December. Like any true superhero rpg was have a cast of colorfully costumed do-gooders, numerous evil villains and a world conquering high tech organization, time travel, alternate histories, mystical menaces from the past and at the end an alien invasion.

The second and more "whenever we can pull it off" of the two, is a Ghostbusters game run using a homebrewed combo of the original Ghostbuster RPG by West End Games and Memento Mori's very sweet game, InSpectres.

Next year I want to run something else to replace my M&M game and for the life of me I can't decide what. Leading the charge of my idea cavalcade are The Wizarding World (a homebrew Harry Potter universe rpg), the new and ridiculously awesome sounding Eclipse Phase from Catalyst Game Labs, a Western with a just a touch a' steampunk and supernatural stuff to reckon with (system unknown) and maybe, just maybe, Ars Magica.

While I'd really love to get back to my favored gaming genre of Science Fiction/Space Adventure, only Eclipse Phase has really wowed me in the recent wave of SF games to come out. If anyone has any recommendations I'd be happen to listen.

Ok, that's all for now, hopefully you'll see a more regular contribution from me once again.

Later Days,

Barking Alien

There Are Always Possibilities

Greetings One and All,

So its been quite a while since I've posted anything to my blog and I'd like to start by apologizing for that. I really had intended on continuing with my 'How to Run a Star Trek RPG Campaign', not just for those who were interested but also for myself. It was a great way, I thought, to explore the how's and why's of my favorite subject within a favorite subject. It would be akin to "Duff" Goldman talking about making a bass guitar themed cake. How freakin' cool would that be for us and for him?

Then something unexpected happened...I ran my first Star Trek adventure in nearly 3 years for my new/current group, it went over really well and then I...I lost all interest in continuing it.

I'm not entirely certain I can tell you why. Partially, it was...off somehow. The players enjoyed it but I felt it was distinctly less amazing then previous attempts at running the game. It was missing heart, feeling somewhat hollow and empty. It was Star Trek with all its Phasers, Warp Drive and Transporter Beams but little of its depth, intelligence or soul. I had somehow failed to follow my own advice. I had made Voyager, or worse, the JJ Abrams film. Wow, where did that come from? Was that my outside voice?

Well, the latest movie did indeed dampen my enthusiasm and I wonder if perhaps I let it get to me more than I should have. Be that as it may, I know that I can't run a game if I'm not feeling it on a deep, core level. The campaign is just going to end up crappy and I don't want that. Better to nip it in the bud right away. Unfortunately, by deciding to cancel the new Star Trek campaign I felt almost embarrased coming back on here to my blog. I didn't know what to say, what to talk about next and honestly, wasn't excited about the prospect of admitting defeat.

So what does this mean for my blog? Well, it means owning up and saying, "Hey, I'm a damn good GM but I'm not perfect." It means accepting temporary defeat while I marshal my resources for another go later on. It means talking about something else for a while. It means using this as a way to discuss ideas that may eventually bring the magic back. I am not without other games, interests or ideas and therefore I am not without something to discuss on my blog.

I hope those who were coming here to learn more about Star Trek gaming don't feel cheated. Hopefully you'll keep coming back anyway.

Live Long and Prosper,

Barking Alien