Pick #83: More Hobbit Ponderings

Never guessed that the set of the Hobbit would be blessed by Maori.

But you all knew, didn't you? I just was slower to watch ;-)

I wonder if my family who went to live in Wellington NZ noticed anything of the filming there.

Here's a silly note to the teaser with alternative lyrics. No, it's not official, whatever it says.

Just to make sure, by now I do think it's a good idea to split the Hobbit into two parts, and not just because of increased funding opportunities - as in "two movies pay out more than one". The story is quite extensive for just two hours. Better to give it the length it needs.

On yet another note, if you could not get enough of the short eerie version... here's all 27 verses by ShaDoWCa7.


Free Download: SSN-589 USS SCORPION DOWN

I'm at it again! Instead of doing normal work, I've just finished an entry to the 24-hour RPG competition "Little Spaces". I'll put it here so you can download and play (test) it straight away!

SSN-589 DOWN is a role playing game written for the 24-hour RPG competition of May-June 2012. It's fast paced, game-master-less, cooperative and competitive at the same time, and best with three players or more. All you'll further need is these rules, a deck of playing cards, a different pawn for each player, and a coin.

It is late in May 1968, in the middle of the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict. Far out in the Atlantic, Nuclear Attack Sub Scorpion breaks all radio contact. Then, for reasons unknown, the vessel sinks to critical depth. Its hull cracks. 99 men and women are lost. What happened?

You are captain, crew and VIP guests on board, starting twenty-four hours earlier. Will you learn what went wrong? Can you change history, and save their lives?

You may download the 24-hour version for free here - or go to 1kM1kT to get it there.

Pick #82: The Hobbit on a darker note... through Dungeons Deep

Some time ago, I noted that the Hobbit teaser almost suggested a movie of horror - being much darker than the book. Now, some people who have spoken to people who spoke to the insiders suggest that I may be right.

The Hobbit will be a more grown up, darker movie than the book. As it seems, J.R.R. Tolkien tried to rewrite the Hobbit in the 1960s, to make it lead up more naturally to Lord of the Rings. Apparently, he abandoned the attempt, as the Hobbit would have changed too much.

Peter Jackson picked up this idea, and seems to be extending on it. The movie thus will not only contain elements from the Hobbit, but also from other, more mature Tolkien works. At least, for as far as copyrights allow, that is. To ponder on what this may mean... listen to the chilling Misty Mountains (Cold) and Dungeons Deep from the trailer. For twenty-five minutes.

Or take to this eerie enchanting version by ShaDowCa7. It's spine tingling, believe me.

Makes you look forward to the film after all, doesn't it? It does to me.


Real Flashing Blades Revisited

Looking for inspiration I flipped through some old posts about real fighting. And then I mean the flashing, fierce, furious kind, which we try to simulate in our role playing games.

Then I noticed one of my linked through videos about bucklers was gone (copyright reasons)... So I looked up a few other nice SCA and swordfighting ones. As food for thought.

Here they try to hit each other harder, with foam blades.

Guess that Armour Class, Hit Points and THACO don't really simulate this for me!

Or how about Pennsic, with a full scale battle? Notice how both parties don't seem to look forward to full contact for a while. Even if they carry foam blades.

And then there's this view of the 2011 Viking festival in Wolin, Poland... with more realistic weaponry.

How to get that kind of feeling in to your RPG? Would be nice eh?


Random RPG Thoughts #12: Could Players Build their own Contacts?

While revamping the Samaris booklet, I tried to think up a way to make a sourcebook more interesting to players. In general source books, like modules and adventure kits are game master eyes only. Which means that all the effort you put into it only reaches about 15 to 20% of its potential audience - at least in the form you put it. Sure, a Game Master will translate what you think up, and make it into his or her adventure. Probably he or she will show the artwork, once it comes in handy. But otherwise it stays secret.

That's a shame, most of the time, I think.

Lost Processing Power in the Role Play Group

Which brings me to another area where energy is often lost. Most role playing games are structured like an old style single core processor. When multitasking, all programs have to wait for their turn to be processed by that single core. The same happens when players wait for the Game Master to hear what happens with their actions. Players have to wait a lot. Even with fast GMs. And even when they play out partial scenes with eachother while waiting for the GM response.

Also a shame most of the time...

Shifting Power to the Players

And then there was this poll on a recent blog (sorry, forgot who you were - let me know ;-) about who plays the Henchmen in a traditional dungeoneering group. Do the players play the henchmen, or does the GM do so. Or something in between? Now Contacts could also be considered to be sort of Henchmen. Sort of. Players could play their own contacts, at least to a degree.

Now you might say that part of the fun of contacts is that they provide role playing opportunity for the GM. But if you're like me, you'll have ample role playing opportunity anyway - and players could add some colour of their own. You could also co-play a contact with the player and decide what the contact does.

Alternatively, players could play eachothers contacts, based on simple game master instructions. Then you could have small scenes played out between players while the game master busies him or herself with other players. This can add a lot to the game, as is already kind of demonstrated in more theatrical live action role playing games. The NPC will become much more special if played by a player - in general.

Making the Setting Part of the Player's Responsibility

Going a step further, players could build their own contacts - or flesh out contacts suggested by the game master. The game master could give a few ground rules, and the player would actually make the contact as if it were a player character, with skills and background and all. At least where the player is concerned.

Then making a final step... players could flesh out contacts suggested by a sourcebook. When you as a player have to choose, say two or three contacts from a sourcebook, and have to flesh them out, then the sourcebook also becomes more fun to read. And it becomes legitimate to read the sourcebook too. (That's another thing, as sourcebooks may be well kept hidden from the players by jealous game masters).

Players would thus become cocreators of the setting too. Some GM-power would shift to the players. And the single-core processing model of role playing would shift a bit to multi-core processing.

So... the upcoming commercial Samaris sourcebook will have over a hundred potential contacts, to be fleshed out by the players. It's their town of adventure too!