Saturday, April 30, 2011

Be a better player. Article two.

GM - “The bartender hands you your drinks and points your group over to the corner booth as an answer to your question. A lone figure sits there alone in the shadows, most likely the contact you are supposed to meet.”

Player 1 - “I take my glass and give the bartender a nod and start to make my way over to the table.”

Player 2 - “Doing the same, staying right up behind him.”

Player 3 - “Looking up at the bartender 'So how long have you worked here?'”

Player 4 - “Heading for the table... you're what?”

GM - “You three start making your way over as the bartender looks at you (points to player 3). 'Long enough man.' he says in a grumbling voice.”

Player 3 - “Really, several years I take it?”

GM - “The bartender looks around wondering why you're asking 'Yeah....'. Meanwhile the rest of you make it to the booth as the man in a business suit looks at you with a cutting glance.”

Player 3 - “I always thought about being a bartender myself. How hard is it to get a job at it?”

Player 1 - “Ah hell here we go again....”

Have you seen that before? The guy that just wants to roleplay conversations with nearly every single NPC they run across in the game. It doesn't matter just how throw away they are, how clear the GM makes it that they are not important, or how much everyone tells them to move on. For some reason they just have to have that conversation and nothing will keep them from it.

Yeah that's the subject for this article. 'I want to talk to them' or 'Shut up and move on'.

Now in most game worlds there is a large population of people. They are the backdrop, the added bit of realism, all going about around the PCs either in crowds doing jobs or just standing around. The GM will point them out from time to time to fill in some world detail, usually the ones the PCs come into contact will be the main ones. Shop owners, deal makers, waitresses and such. Others are simply flavor to fill spaces. The crowds dancing at the clubs, patrons in a bar with drinks in hand and shoppers milling through a mall.

The point to remember is that most of these are the faceless masses. They have no names, no faces, no background. Simply there to provide flavor, to fill the void so the characters aren't walking through an abandoned empty world. Some are there to sell the characters that monoknife or repair their armor.

So why do some folks feel the need to walk up and talk with everyone of them? I mean seriously I've had players do that. They decide their character wants a cup of coffee and they want to get all in depth with the person behind the counter. This is while the rest of the group is waiting for them... and waiting... and waiting some more.

Okay here is the deal most GMs will make it painfully obvious who you need to talk to and who is there to interact with. Just watch for the ones with the extra flavor in their description, that's usually a clear sign. Why else would they go through the trouble of coming up with it for no good reason. This is a lot of the time they will walk up and talk to you and start the exchange. Others are so obvious the GM might as well tell you to talk to them.

Don't forget to look for the clues that you need to shut up and get back on track. If the GM is basically feeding you two or three lines and then going back to the rest of the party for a while that's a big one. Especially if they are all leaving you behind and going on with the adventure. When the entire group starts bitching at you about it... yeah that's another sign. These sound like common sense but you would be surprised.

So don't expect to have a long extensive conversation with the swamp snails in Talislanta and not be left behind. Try not to bog down the game on meaningless talk with the lady selling Silverhand Tickets at the booth in Cyberpunk. Just don't...

That's my bit o' rant for this time. Next time maybe I'll cover something like 'Nothing freaks my character out' attitude, or the 'I'll be there and not show up' syndrome.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Be a better player

After years of seeing all sorts of GM advice floating around the web offering up advice on how to be a better GM I got a little tired of it. Yeah some it is helpful and some GMs may need to read it. But some of them approach it like they are always the problem and as a GM myself, that aggravates me a bit. I've had more problem players than I've ever had complaints about the way I run a game. Also I've played in more games where the players are the trouble while the GM is doing a good job.

So I've decided to make a series of articles for players to read. Things they may do to cause problems in a game that they need to watch out for. After all it's not always the fault of the game master.

Details don’t matter all that much.

GM – You manage to find a pick-up truck in the parking lot with the keys in the ignition. It looks like it’s in pretty good condition and should get you out of the town.

Player 1 – What kind of truck is it?

GM – A small blue one, nothing fancy about it.

Player 2 – I’m getting behind the wheel.

Player 3 – Let everyone else get in first while I keep an eye out for more zombies.

Player 4 – Getting in the passenger side.

Player 1 – Is it a Ford, Chevy, Dodge, what?

GM – You guys pile into the truck. It’s…um… a Dodge.

Player 1 – What kind of Dodge truck?

GM – I don’t… it’s a S10.

Player 1 – What? Dodge doesn’t make S10’s don’t you know anything about cars?

Ever seen this happen at the game table? Somebody in the group just keeps asking for more details on something that really isn’t important to the game? Have you been the person asking for all the details and getting aggravated that the GM couldn’t answer them all? If you answered yes to that last question chances are the problem isn’t the GM, the problem is you.

First asking a series of questions for details that will probably have no affect on gameplay slows down the pace of the game. It’s hard enough to get things rolling at an effective rate while dealing with system mechanics, NPCs and flavor text already. A game of twenty questions just makes it all that much harder.

Second, the GM cannot be an expert in everything. All because you know something on a specific topic doesn’t mean the GM does also. Showing off your knowledge by demonstrating their lack of it doesn’t go over well either. Generally this is frowned upon by all those involved in the game besides you.

Third, they just don’t matter. Really they don’t. Most of the time the GM will give you just the amount of details necessary for the game to continue, it’s when they don’t that you need to ask questions.

Now remember this doesn't apply to just vehicles. It also applies to all forms of weapons, machinery and just about anything else you can think up. Detail overkill just doesn't accomplish anything except cause problems. So you have a truck to get out of town, maybe something that may have importance should be asked. Is it a big or small truck? Can we all fit inside or are some of us going to have to be in the back? Things like this are normally fine especially if there is some sort of trouble expected down the line.

Next time I may bring up another problem that most players don't seem to get at times. Basically 'You don't need to roleplay with every npc you meet'.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rogue Television introduction

Playtest draft v1.0
By PeterAmthor

Rogue Television takes place in a world that is much like our own, but one that has gone radically wrong in the area of media control. It’s a world where the high rise media corporations that pump out endless amounts of television broadcasts set back and brainwash the public viewers with embedded messages and flashing images. Where the networks are the political power and they make the laws to fit them and their ratings. It’s a place where it’s illegal to turn off your television.

In the beginning…

The first steps that were taken into this direction occurred during the United States Presidential Elections. Both the Republicans and the Democrats put up candidates that the majority of the populace was immensely unhappy with. There were demonstrations, protests and sometime acts of outright violence towards the two parties. In an attempt to become more favorable to the people an increase of television adds was put into place. Doubling the number that were shown, literally, overnight. This did not go over well.

Anthony Slater, owner of three networks that all had gotten the increase of ads, took notice of this and was displeased. He watched as the rating plummeted on his stations, where the increase of political propaganda drove the audience away. This began costing him financially as other advertisers began to stop having their ads shown with the new glut. Only one action came to his mind that could solve this, that of giving the people another choice, so he decided to run for President as well.

On the very same day that he announced his candidacy in the race he pulled all of the ads for the other two political parties from his stations. In their place he put up support for his ‘Network Party’ but not nearly in the numbers that the others were using. His platform was based around change in the political world to better serve the people. By putting those in charge that know what they want because they’ve been providing it for them for decades. The reaction was overwhelming and almost completely positive.

A landslide victory was the gift received by Slater when he pulled over eighty percent of the vote. His stations were the leaders in ratings and watched worldwide now. This, of course, didn’t settle well with his competitors in the television business. Soon other networks began running their own people into other offices; senators, congressmen, mayors, you name it. With the precedent set there was nothing the former leading political parties could do as they slowly watched their power get pulled from underneath them.

Within the eight years that Slater was the in the Oval Office the entire spectrum of the political arena changed hands. The networks were now in control leaving only five percent still in the hands of the old parties. Due to the sheer amount of different networks this basically created dozens of political parties now. This lead to a change in the way the television media operated also for now they were the ones in charge of the very offices that restricted what they showed and how they showed it. The power was in their hands and, like all power; it corrupted those who held it.

They created and approved laws that helped them. Now subliminal messages were in and privacy rights were out. Technology that could create a competitor was buried under red tape and restrictions that crippled their development. Computer technology was suppressed and the home computer system has never really came to exist as it does now. While anything that could be used to enhance the televised media and strengthen its grip were given free reign.

Now twenty years after Slater’s victory in taking the Presidential Office of the United States things are very different, although disturbingly familiar at the same time. The Network Governments rule over the masses and feed them constants streams of mindless and mind numbing programming. This is the world of Rogue Television.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Astoria and Aedarius

Astoria, the Goddess of Life and her brother Aedarius, the God of Death. It makes sense for a Goddess to represent life since women are the ones who bring life into the world. All the while having a male represent death makes sense also since they are the ones who wage war and bring much death upon the world.

Astoria has the healers, the clerics and the caregivers. Commonly wearing white robes are very light armor that is polished to a mirror finish. The only weapon she carries is a dagger that is said to be used to cut the cord whenever a new progeny of the Gods is birthed. Clerics commonly carry two or three, each with a set purpose (child birth, defense and for eating).

Aedarius is usually shown as a hunter dressed in black leathers with a bow always in his hand. When one dies a common saying is to say they 'Caught the arrow of Aedarius'. Also at his side is a sword that is said to be used to issue his commands to his warriors.

The dress in white and black are to show the two sides of the world that no one can escape.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

System post...

I want a system that is simple. So a few things I won't be doing first.

No hit points by location. No armor coverage areas. Hell no hit loation chart at all. No Palladium style list of a ton of skills. No multple breakdowns of a skill so it become more than one skill. No multiplication or division of anything greater than single digit numbers.

I remember back when things like this weren't in the games I played. Then I kept creeping into complexity and 'realism'. I don't want that anymore. Now all I want is something that can take care of the random stuff pretty quick and get it over with so the game can move along. If I ever run another combat encounter in a game that lasts for an hour or more I'm gonna scream.

Not going to mire in endless little details. That arm is cybernetic now so it has a bit of an armor rating, a chance of messing up and some stat mods.... yeah I don't think so. If I run a cyberpunk game nearly all of the cyberware is going to be flash. All those ammo types and gun mods... yeah flash. Tripped out sword with serated edges and ... yeah flash also.

Basically I'm putting these blocks in my way so I have to build my system up to them. Not around, no sneaky system twist that works just like armor by location but isn't exactly it. These blocks are solid.

Magic and it's costs.

I always wanted to make a spell caster who sacrifices part of themselves for their magic. Usually by the way of making their casting cost them Hit Points or some such. Normally I referred to them as Blood Mages or Life Magic, not really sure on a good proper term for them.

Suggested it as an alternate system for the old boxed set D&D games I ran. It go howled down because they have so few hit points even though it would allow them to cast more than one spell during the game. Never bought the idea of you memorized it and then forget it when cast, the spells are a mages life, they never ever forget them. Well that's my view. So this also could be done a few other ways. Maybe make it pain magic and they actually have to injure themselves to cast it.

Anyways just my thoughts at the moment again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

twin gods

Religion idea for my fantasy world. Y'know the one I'm always working on in the back of my head. All the gods are twins. Some are the same sex and some are brother/sister pairs. Representing the dual nature of the world. Life and Death, war and peace, day and night, y'know stuff like that. Now with that in place anyone who is a twin born into the world would most likely be drafted into the church. They would end up being priests, clerics, palladins, etc. Most of the time they wouldn't really have a choice as they would start their education in the clergy early on and their parents would support the idea because it gives them a step up in the social circles. Just another random thought.