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Posts Tagged ‘Dungeons & Dragons’

#RPGaDay 19: Which RPG features the best writing?

Can I plead the 5th on this one? Truth is, I am not great at evaluating general writing, as a fiction writer.  I can evaluate the fiction parts in RPG source books and almost none of it is very good, in my opinion.  No offense.  It’s usually too short to actually accomplish more than adding some setting flavor, so I can’t fault it for that at all. And for what it aims to do, it’s usually great.  The ones I remember best are from the World of Darkness titles.

I think there are two RPGs that come to mind where I noticed the overall writing specifically:  5th edition Dungeons & Dragons and Monte Cook’s Numenera.  Numenera is written in a great, easy to read style and doesn’t get as dry as some games can.  5th edition D&D made a really interesting, inclusiveness attempt that I think modernizes the rulebooks.  Not only in the writing, but the artwork as well.  It makes D&D feel like a game for something other than teenaged male nerds, which makes me immensely happy.

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 18: Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

I’m trying really hard to figure out how I can spin the answer “Dungeons & Dragons” out into an entire blog post here.  The answer to this one came easy, but then I interrogated it. An entire decade went by without me touching D&D.  Until 3rd edition came out, I was entirely content to never play D&D again. College for me was an era of experimentation in different games, and I was happy to play World of Darkness, Earthdawn, Shadowrun, and so on until I turned old and gray.

But D&D’s revitalization has meant that post-college, it’s easily the most played game, which puts it back on top.  It’s just easier to get people together around a table for something like D&D, which has rooted itself so thoroughly in the mainstream that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who couldn’t give you at least a half-correct summary of what D&D is.  You can’t do the same thing with other RPGs. It’s the great grandaddy of them all.  And since I’ve lost my dedicated gaming groups since moving away from Colorado, what’s easiest to get going matters more to me than what I enjoy most.  A bad day playing D&D is better than a good day playing nothing at all!

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

I have no idea what this question really means.  I’m starting to question whether there was a lot of thought put into some of these.  I guess, maybe, this is asking which RPG do I enjoy tinkering with the rules of, or changing things about?

In D&D and other fantasy setting games, I almost never run anything in a set, establishing setting.  I’m perfectly capable of doing it, but I find reading up on an existing setting like Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk to feel a little bit like homework (Although I am tempted to try something Ravenloft-ish).  I struggle to keep the different pantheons clear and all the geographic information.  After I’ve been playing for so long, a lot of that stuff blends together.  What I find is, if I create my own settings from the ground up, it cements itself better, and I can weave some of the world building details into my narrative story elements.  Thematic resonance in the world building in the character arcs can be a really powerful tool.  If you have a world where the gods are dead or departed, for instance, that can have profound impacts on the culture, society, and the characters themselves.  Everything should grapple with those questions.

So for just about any non real world setting game, I like to adapt my own.  Even in real world setting games like the World of Darkness stuff, I like to tweak things. I don’t tend to run games set in big cities that almost none of us have visited, for instance.  Almost all of my World of Darkness games were set in Lawrence and Kansas City growing up.  Having actual real world geographic knowledge helps ground things so much more.  And if you don’t have that, then make up your own places, so you can fake it.  That’s how I roll.  How about you?

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 6: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!

If I could game every single day for a week, I would want to be the Dungeon Master and I would want to design an epic and sprawling dungeon using my rad dungeon tiles that I’ve featured here on the site previously.

I’d focus on classic encounters with new twists, at least at first.  Rust monsters, gelatinous cubes, goblins, and so on, but combined in some interesting ways that players don’t quite expect.  I’d build a narrative to tie things together, but the central loop of kicking open doors and killing would be the usual experience.   I’d really work at giving out the loot and experience points so that players would progress and level up at least once a day.  Each day, the dungeon would get progressively harder, more complex, more full of traps.  Each day, the PCs would get more experienced.  Over time, the encounters would become more esoteric and weird.  Combat would not always be the solution to things – good roleplaying and negotiation would be rewarded.

Basically, I’d want to run a mega-dungeon as a single campaign.  The PCs will not see the light of day for weeks, perhaps months.  But they will be epic heroes by the time they escape my Dungeon of Doom.

That’s what we would do in the mornings, anyway.  For the afternoons and evenings, we would play a series of one-shots in a variety of systems and settings that we’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t had time to experience.  Each player would try their hand at running a different game with pre-generated characters.  These could get goofy and fun, to release some of the tension that builds up during the Mega Dungeon play.

For players, I’d want to bring back the best and brightest players from my long life of playing games.  Friends from childhood, friends from college, friends from my time in Colorado.  I’d bring them all together to some rented haunted house or mansion in a remote location. We’d lock up all our devices and cellphones and we’d just focus on telling fun stories, epic stories that we’d talk about for years in that particular way that gamers do.  You know – stories that you just had to be there for, stories that would bore anyone else to hear, but stories that we made together, just for us.

That’s what I would do if I could game for a week.  How about you?

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#RPGaDay 5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

There can really be no contest here.  It has been and likely always will be this version of the Player’s Handbook for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

We have a dark and ominous room dominated by an enormous demonic statue with bejeweled eyes.  We’ve got player characters attempting to pry one of the gems out of the statue, and who knows what will happen if they succeed?  A slain monster lays in the middle ground, and a group of players discuss their next move in the foreground. We see wizards, fighters, and thieves.

Dungeons & Dragons covers these days are beautiful works of art, and they depict epic action against towering and horrible monsters.  The scale of everything, the coolness factor, is so much more than it was back in the olden days of yore.  Even still,  no piece of art captures the spirit of being a murder hobo better than this.  We’ve got dead monsters, looting, and planning what to kill and loot next.  That’s the core loop of D&D game play for me.  It’s not deep and it’s not especially elegant.  But it’s the core of what the game was to me in my youth, and this artwork captures that better than anything else for me.

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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