Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Feeling, Ya Gotta Have Heart

A-to-Z Challenge - F

First (hey that starts with 'F' too! I'm on a roll...), I want to thank Deidre E. Coppel for my Best Sci-Fi Award. Check out her site for some interesting interviews and a type of fantasy fiction a bit different from what ye of the Conan/Elric/Fafrd and Gray Mouser set might be used to.

Following that (see what I did there? FFFollowing.) I've received a number of additional followers recently and I wanted to thank them for dropping by and staying for a spell. Will I reach the 100 mark soon? Only time will tell but I intend to celebrate if I do. I haven't decided how to celebrate though so I guess we'll find out together.

So what's this about 'Feeling' eh? A simple word that is not so simple when applied to RPGs. I'll begin by focusing on the feel of a setting or feeling you get when playing in a particular setting.
I've mentioned
before, atmosphere and 'feel' in my campaigns is nearly as important if not as important as NPCs, locations, challenge, treasure and plot, largely because it effects all of these elements. Before introducing a major NPCs, I take a look at him or her (or it in some cases) and ask myself, "Does this character fit the feel of the game." 'Mr. Moneypants' may not be right for a grimdark Shadowrun game but may fit a normal one. Likewise, a murderous outlaw bent on revenge is not quite the tone I want to set for a comical Supers game though it could be with adjustments. The bottom line is I spend a lot of time and mental effort getting the feel of the campaign right so players can just walk down a street and know the mood for the adventure.

Now another use of the world feeling is emotion and I'd like to briefy touch on that subject in gaming because I rarely see it mentioned much. Granted much of the gaming blogs you encounter these days are OSR related and emotion of the sort I'm talking about probably isn't a major concern. I would wager it isn't good form to have tender heartstrings when your major source of entertainment is busting into a dungeon, cold bloodedly slaying its inhabitants and stealing their things.

That said, familial and romantic relationships have been a staple in my campaigns since the mid-80's, especially in D&D, Star Trek and Superhero games. My campaigns are inspired by what I saw and read. Superheroes flirt with and date each other, especially in the books that were among my favorites (Teen Titans and Legion of Superheroes).

is one heck of a D&D movie, except that it really isn't in my opinion. It's an Ars Magica movie. As for Star Trek, well just watch the shows and you'll see it all the time. Love, fear, sorrow and angry are the motivatiors of nearly every major character is literature, yet the only motivations we see in most games are two-dimensional things like revenge or to get more gold and be rich. Wow. Deep.

Now granted, some don't want their gaming deep and that's cool but I for one like a little extra texture to my adventures, characters and plots. I've also (and bare with me as this is not exactly the commentary you think it's going to be) had a lot of female players in my groups over the years. Now, we know (at least the enlightened among us) that women can be cruel asskickers just as much as the next male player (sometimes more if Zak's group is in any way typical).

However, I have noticed that plots that leave out the possibility of any sort of angst, romance, regret or the like, don't often have enough depth for my gals (except Rebecca. Rebecca is there to kick ass). It's not to say female players need a romance novel. Not at all. What I've encountered is that they need a little more meaning in their plots. A little more purpose and character development. In this, I tend to agree.

So open your mind, think with your heart, reap the rewards and pay for it dearly. Now that's adventure!

Barking Alien



  1. Ha! I was your 100! I win! *cough*

    I'm not much of a gamer (understatement there) but have watched my son and yeah... low emotion. I can see that layer might make games more appealing to girls, actually. In writing, I love emotion, but it's tricky to SHOW it rather than telling... you need the expressions and gestures, but also the thinking AROUND the feeling so the reader feels it instead of just being told.

  2. Indeed. I have seen, been in and even run numerous games where the emotion was explained and duly noted. Part of that is of course the Gamemaster and his/her ability to immerse the players in the plot and characters of the story and part of it is on the part of the players and how willing they are to get immersed.

    That said, I've seen players cry real tears at the death of NPCs or over what one NPC will do for the love of another or a PC. The first session of my Ghostbusters N.J. campaign, designed to be a comedy, was especially moving when I revealed that the ghost, a teenage girl, was unaware of her undead status or that her Mother had also passed on (Mom didn't stay around as a ghost but instead went straight to...somewhere). It was the father, wracked with sorrow and guilt, who eventually helped the PCs put it all together.

  3. Congrats on the 100! whoohoo, break out the Frankfurts and XXXX (FourX - a Queensland beer).As a new follower from the A-Z challenge, I'm enjoying dipping into your blog.
    Sue@JumpingAground (alliteration & drabbles)
    Sue@traverselife(Workplace bullying)