This post contains spoilers for the first five episodes of Season 7 of New Who. You have been warned.
Posted by Drew Shiel on October 1, 2012 at 11:46
This post contains spoilers about the Doctor Who episode entitled "Asylum of the Daleks", the first episode of the seventh new series.
Posted by Drew Shiel on September 4, 2012 at 13:15
I have a new deed in Wurm Online. I haven't really pulled up stakes as such; it's only slightly down the hill from my old place, which has now been handed over to Carawyn, as a character can only own one deed at a time. Importantly, however, the new deed is on the shore, and even more importantly, I don't need to farm it for food at the same time, so I can go about stripping it back to rock for terraforming and prospecting purposes.
Posted by Drew Shiel on July 9, 2012 at 14:07
I've been making use of relationship diagrams in tabletop games for years, at the campaign level. It's only recently that I've learned to make use of them at a session level.
Basically, the idea here is that any session must move toward revealing, exploring, or changing a relationship, or even more than one.
Consider this diagram, which describes the situation known to the player characters some way into a campaign. Or maybe even at the beginning.
Posted by Drew Shiel on July 3, 2012 at 16:31
I realise that television is rarely a fount of originality. I'm not saying the new shows coming out in the US in the autumn will be bad - I'll be quite interested to see how they go, and at least one of them is around one of my favourite characters. But they are derivative in the extreme.
Posted by Drew Shiel on May 21, 2012 at 16:14
The college term is over, and I have enough spare brain to write some blog entries again. The only game I've been playing for the past couple of months has been Wurm Online, mostly because it works very well as a background game. I click a few times to set some activity going, I do something else for a few minutes, and then I click things again. If I'm on my deed, it's a very rare thing to need to react to anything.
Posted by Drew Shiel on May 14, 2012 at 16:54
I am getting enormous enjoyment out of Wurm Online at the moment. I've established myself on a nice spot on the West Coast of Deliverance, and I'm slowly building toward having a solid deed there.
There have, of course, been problems. The main problem in Wurm tends to be that if you want to do thing X, then you need to back up and do things A, B, C, and so forth before you can get back to X. And I made some mistakes as well.
Posted by Drew Shiel on April 3, 2012 at 10:33
Apologies for the long break in posting; I've been away on holiday. However, before I went, I was inspired by Stargrace, posting about Wurm Online, to log in and have a look around again. I liked what I saw - there's been a graphics upgrade, new servers, and other improvements.
Posted by Drew Shiel on March 7, 2012 at 13:11
Question #24: Have you ever been to a game convention? What was it like to be surrounded by so many other gamers? If not, would you like to go to one? Why or why not?
I've stared at this question for a few minutes, and tried to get my head around the concept of gamers who wouldn't go to conventions. I mean, if you're new to the hobby and don't know about them, or live hundreds of miles from the nearest convention, or.. I don't know, suffer from a fear of crowds, then maybe. But otherwise, it's a games convention, you play games, it's full of games, why wouldn't you go?
So yes, I've been to conventions. Not as many as I would like, but time and money sometimes get in the way.
Posted by Drew Shiel on February 13, 2012 at 10:25
Question #22: Describe the worst game you've ever played in. What made it so bad? Did your fellow players help, or make it worse?
It was Gaelcon. 1995 or so. D&D. I was running it. There were six players. One of them couldn't string a sentence together, and seemed to hope that by rolling the dice, he'd convey his intentions. One of them drew on the paper tablecloth - drew very well, I might add - throughout the session, not really participating otherwise. And two of them appeared to know the entirety of Monty Python by heart, and took every single sentence I managed to get in as a cue to quote something, both of them in near perfect unison. Further, any time anyone mentioned horses, they'd sit there pretending to knock coconut halves together, and making clip-clop noises.
I didn't run a game at a convention for about a decade after that.
Posted by Drew Shiel on February 9, 2012 at 11:01
Question #21: What's the best bribe you've ever given (or received as) a GM? What did you get (give) for it?
My players don't really tend to attempt to bribe me. Or if they do so, they're subtle enough that I don't notice, or else they just say "Oi, Drew, I want more of this in the game", and then we get into the long discussion about what "this" is, which never seems to go quite right.
It is, however, a well-established fact that if you want something to happen in my games, give me some content to shape it around, and I'll happily do just that. This does mean that players from whom I get more material - be it character background, world material, or whatever - get more of what they want in the game, but that's as much a return on investment as anything else, so I don't feel bad about it.
Posted by Drew Shiel on February 8, 2012 at 12:18
I run long campaigns. I didn't think I ran long campaigns until well after I got online; the letters pages of Dragon convinced me early on that the average campaign was about ten years, and that assumption stuck with me for a long time. And if you look at the levelling rules for, say 2nd Ed AD&D, you'll see that unless you go completely mad, you'll be playing for about two years once a week to get characters from 1st to 20th level. So, I felt, the rules supported this, even if I was on a schedule more like a game a month.
It wasn't, I think, until I saw a poll on rpg.net about campaign length with the "1-3 months" option way ahead of everything else that I realised I was doing something different.
Part of this is personal preference, of course. Having put the work into a campaign setting, I'm not going to waste it by running six sessions and calling it done. And I'm physically incapable of not developing a campaign setting once I get started. But I also suffer from some confusion around the topic. Players are barely getting to know a character after, say, ten sessions. As the GM, I'm only getting a grasp on what they really want out of the game at that stage. How could you run anything shorter and have it turn out well?
So my campaigns tend to take years to complete, and to have enough plot threads to fill that span of time. My instinct isn't actually to have an end at all; my simulationist soul claims that endings are a narrativist trick, and not worthy of attention. I'd simply have the player characters continue through interesting lives for ever, given the chance - pursuing their own interests, and uncovering a conspiracy here, a small war there, a jaunt off into the planes for whatever reason, and have the return of old nemeses happen occasionally and organically. Players, however, demand coherent plot, and plot demands resolution.
At some point, I think I'd like to run the kind of game my instincts demand. It would need player buy-in from the beginning, of course, and no expectation of a resolution that won't be coming, nor indeed an expectation of an over-arching plot. It would also need characters carefully designed for it, with clear ambitions from the start which they can work toward over the very long run - and they should also be the kind of characters who generate a "things to do" list as they go, so that when that initial ambition is completed, they've more to get on with. And it would probably need to be run in a different area of my own cosmology, rather than on the main campaign world, because by its very nature, it would develop tendrils of story that would interfere with everything else. But I think all of those are surmountable.
I've an article brewing on the practicalities of "How to Run a Long RPG Campaign", or thereabouts, but it is - appropriately - taking a while to put together.
Posted by Drew Shiel on February 6, 2012 at 15:33
Question #20: What was the most memorable character death you've ever experienced? What makes it stick with you?
This, I think, is where the D&D rules and I parted ways. Character death - player character death, at least - is not usually interesting. There are two ways it happens: either the player is tired of the character, and opts to have them leave the campaign by dying, or the dice come out badly, and the character runs out of hit points. In the first case, all the interest is moving toward the new character that player will have, and in the second, well... there just ISN'T any interest.
Posted by Drew Shiel on February 6, 2012 at 11:42