Pick #86: Philip Glass as Inspiration

This may be a weird pick for an RPG blog, but music and videos can be very inspiring. This is one - edited by Ulises Tamez in 2007 - is  a video meddley on Underground Storm from the Truman Show soundtrack. Think it's pretty impressive, almost begging for its own setting or story.

Might try it this weekend.


Random RPG Thoughts #16: Gaming Shelves

James M. form Grognardia just started a meme I actually like. What's on your gaming shelves? It probably tells a lot about your gaming likes, dislikes, who and what you admire, and probably also what you'd like to play. And yet, you may have forgotten that this is so for your own shelves, just having left those books and games up there for so long. James has a lot of first edition D&D and AD&D - much what you'd expect, from him, or from Eric Holmes when he wrote Fantasy Role Playing Games in the early 1980s.

So what have I got? This is the top shelf:

And below it are some other shelves with Spirit of the Century, Arduin Grimoire, Maelstrom, Cyberpunk, and a host of other stuff. On the lowest shelf there's the bookcase boxes of Traveller, Runequest, and some very old ragged copies of oriental adventures, fiend folio and the like. And on top there's this :-)

So what does that say about me? ;-)


Random RPG Thoughts #15: World War I RPG

It's November 11th. At the 11th hour, this day 94 years ago, WWI ended for many countries. For some it did not. For some historians it was no more than the start of a twenty-one year armistice in a prolonged war between Germany and much of the rest of the world.

In my country we don't remember this day. My country (the Netherlands) was what is called neutral. All our direct neighbours, UK, Germany, and Belgium, all were in the Great War. They do remember.
And it always gets me thinking... could you capture the feel of this war in an enjoyable RPG?

Are you Serious? A WWI RPG??
Yep, I am. As far as I know, there is no successfull attempt at an WWI RPG as of yet. Unless you count Call of Cthulhu variants, where the battlefields are infested with ghouls and unspeakable horrors of another kind. And you might argue that the Great War was highly un-enjoyable, and so not fit for a Role Playing Game.

Yet, we do have games about horror, we even have spying and post-apocalyptic military role playing games... why not a WWI RPG? It does not need to be pro-militarist at all. It could be pacifist in spirit.
Death rates might not have to be a problem either. They aren't in DCC, nor were they in old old school games, nor in CoC. A highly random death rate might even add to the fatalistic feel, combined with an "every day that we live counts" mentality. Your epitaph, or farewell letter might also work out as a special part of the character.

Experimental Storytelling in WWI?
You could even do the story backward. Start with the epitaph, then do the dying scene, then do what went on before, in scenes back to where the war started. It would demand a special sort of role playing, but if Pinter can do it in Betrayal, or Nolen can do something likewise in Memento, why couldn't we? Reverse story telling. And we as a player know how it will end.

Or another way to give it more connection is by introducing something like "the Angel of the Battlefield", where you as a player are an angel, following all sorts of souls during the war, each time up to their point of death. And when the die, you pass to another, perhaps even on another front, or at another point in the war. Or hey, maybe the hero you follow stays alive? That would be cool too.

I'm sure I'll get myself to writing it in due time. My question is, would any of you like it? Are you at least intrigued by the idea? Don't be shy. Let me know.


Random RPG Thoughts #14: Planning Shining Moments

Do you remember that one time that something worked real well for your character in a session, when everything went like a flow,  and you felt like everybody cheered? Remember when you finally defeated that nasty rival, or humiliated him back? Remember when you solved that puzzle unexpectedly? Or that time your sneaking action saved the day?

Those are examples of shining moments for players. As a GM you can have these as well, when you really surprise the players, have a scene that really has the players glued to their seats, or whenever you feel you're really making the game flow great.

Here's a thought I had today about shining moments. Usually we wait for them to happen.

Then, if you're good at spotting them, you'll expand on them, by using more description, and making these moments last longer. One Game Master friend I know is really good at this. He can really make his players shine. But I suspect he also just waits for them to happen.

I figured: we don't have to wait. We can plan them. Maybe we cannot force them to happen, but we can make sure, that there are specific opportunities, for each single player, to make them happen.

Three Possible Ways to make Shining Moments Happen
1. You can plan them. Especially if you play old school, you'll know that there are some things that only one character class can do. A thief is better at traps or stealing, a fighter at killing something, a mage at solving a puzzle with spells. Make sure ahead, that there is at least one occasion in your session, where each one character class can shine. Do that for every player character you have in your party.

If you're playing newer style, or if there is less differentiation in your party, find the areas where each player character is special and different from the others. Focus on that skill, or asset, and make sure it needs to be used somewhere in the adventure. And once such a moment happens, and the player picks up on this, build on it. If a hero does well, give it some extra power. If not, extend the moment and give extra rolls, make it a tense moment. Fudge the dice if necessary, embellish, make the moment longer.

2. You can make shining moments more probable, by making sure the player characters need each other. When players are dependent on each others actions for success, it's also more likely that a rescue action, or team action, becomes a shining moment.

3. You could have a non-player-character, specifically aimed at one of the player characters. It can be a rival, an enemy, a friend, an admirer, a lover, anything. Anything that helps to get the player hero to have special attention, and generate a special moment. The non-player-character could need a rescue for example, or a duel, or a very romantic moment, and so on.

How about you? Did you ever plan your shining moments? Did that work? Or do you only pick up on when they happen?

Pick #85: Lone Wolf Relives!

Did you ever play Grey Star? Does the name Lone Wolf ring a bell? Missing it?

In the eighties, there was a phenomenon called "game books". Books full of numbered paragraphs through which you could follow your own adventure path. Before the time of computers in every teenage room, you could play without your friends, solo, in a full adventure. You just played on your own, with one of these books, and sometimes a pencil to make notes.

The Lone Wolf series was one of the better series. One of my friends even named his favorite character after one in the series: Greystar. For some time these books got lost in history, but now you can get them again. Joe Dever and a group of fellow writers decided to republish their books on the Aon Project, for free!

You can download a complete html or pdf, or even play an "online version" of many books, including the Kai, Magnakai and Lone Wolf series. You can play many of these, again.
Very recently there even are epub and kindle versions.

Actually you can even get some in Spanish, or buy special full color maps of the Lone Wolf World. Check it out.