RPGaDay 2018, Week Four: WHICH…

RPGaDay 2018 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying.

Week Four: WHICH…

  1. … game mechanic inspires your play the most?
  2. … dice mechanic appeals to you?
  3. … non-dice system appeals to you?
  4. … game do you hope to play again?
  5. … RPG do you think deserves greater recognition?

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RPGaDay 2018, Week Two: HOW…

RPGaDay 2018 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying.

Week Two: HOW…

  1. … can players make a world seem real?
  2. … can a GM make the stakes important?
  3. … can we get more people playing?
  4. … has a game surprised you?
  5. … has gaming changed you?

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Drama Dice: An advancement mod for Cortex Prime (with Benj Davis)

Drama dice are a variant advancement and reward mechanic in Cortex Prime, designed by Benj Davis originally as a hack for Smallville RPG. They combine elements from the existing Cortex Prime mods of growth and hero dice and, as the name suggests, they are intended mainly for dramatic games where relationships drive the plot and feelings change over time.

I’ve been aware of Benj’s rules for drama dice for a while (he mentioned them in the comments when I posted my own Smallville hack, for instance), but most recently he explained them in a thread at the Cortex System Roleplaying Google+ community (where there have been a ton of great conversations lately about Cortex stuff, check it out). With Benj’s latest explanation, I had a few realisations:

  1. These rules are great, and I hadn’t really understood how they worked before. It helped this time that I had done something similar with hero dice in my recent villain-themed Cortex Prime game, so now I can see just how good they are.
  2. Benj has explained the rules several times, for several people, in several different places, but there has never been a single place where they are all set out that people can just link to. Given that I have a blog, I offered to put the rules here and he agreed!
  3. Now that Cortex Prime playtest is just about over, and the publication of the actual game handbook is imminent, it seemed like an ideal time to update the terminology and present drama dice as a mod for Cortex Prime for maximum accessibility.

So, without further ado, how could you incorporate drama dice into your own dramatic Cortex Prime campaigns?

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32: A Step into RPGs Retrospective

Turtles, vanish... by Fatboy73 on DeviantArt
The piece of TMNT fanart I liked most but didn’t use in my TMNT RPG blog series.

This month is the 32nd since I started this blog. It is also, by a weird coincidence, the month of my 32nd birthday. I realised this too late to turn RPGaDay into “31 posts in month 31 while 31”, but nevertheless I’m feeling a bit reflective.

Here is a look back at some of my most popular blog posts, the top 11 posts on the blog based on average views per month (vpm) since publication.

There are a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in this list. You’ve been warned.

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RPGaDay 2017, Day 22: Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGaDay 2017 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying. This is the first year I’ve tried to do it.

Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

The RPGs that are easiest for me to run are the ones in which the players do all the hard work, particularly in being proactive and developing conflicts between each other instead of waiting for me to provide a problem for them to solve. For example, Smallville is a dramatically driven game in which, during a session, I could often sit back and just watch things unfold. The problem with Smallville, however, is that there was so much preparation needed at the start of the campaign (preparing NPCs and so on), and so much bookkeeping needed between sessions. That’s a significant barrier to me running it again.

Psi*Run is a game that also takes a lot of player input throughout and, being designed mostly for one-off sessions, has no prep work or bookkeeping to speak of. On balance, I think Psi*Run is the easiest RPG to run, although I wouldn’t be comfortable using it for a campaign.

RPGaDay 2017, Day 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

RPGaDay 2017 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying. This is the first year I’ve tried to do it.

What was your most impactful RPG session?

That’s a tough question. I’m really not sure. I’ve had a few campaign sessions that were meaningful to me, or to the group, or had long-term influence over the campaign. I could name a dozen incidents just from my various Unknown Armies campaigns, for instance, but I talked about them on Day 4.

Instead I’m going to go with one of the most cathartic sessions of the X-Men-themed Smallville campaign that I ran, the one set in a Hogwarts-style British boarding school where the students and teachers are all based on reinterpretations of canon X-Men characters.

Jason (PC, student, based on Mastermind) has just been freed of some empathic mind control that stopped him from feeling anger. Rather than lash out, the release in tension makes him super relaxed. His illusion powers go out of control, and he turns the entire school into a tropical beach at night. What’s more, the illusion has a mental component, so that everyone feels a-ok with being on a beach and stops worrying about anything.

Rogue (PC, student, based on Rogue), who is troubled for several reasons that I won’t go into, is finally able to reconnect with both her mother Erin (NPC, headmistress, based on Magneto) and her childhood friend/crush Piotr (PC, student, based on Colossus). Piotr’s sister Illyana (PC, student, based on Magik) was able to be around other students in a non-confrontational atmosphere for the first time since she disappeared into a dream dimension, aged 5 years in a day, and became part demonic. Alas, Illyana’s newfound peace did not last, as an accident made her display her demonic features and terrify the other students, making her teleport away all the way to Russia.

That’s just giving an impression of the main character arcs in the session. I’m honestly not even scratching the surface of what happened, or the context behind it. Smallville is a weird, cool game.

Good RPGs encourage good experiences—it doesn’t matter how!

Declaring that a game is “good” (or, worse, “bad”) is almost always a controversial prospect. In general, I prefer to say that I have liked or disliked a game rather than claim that it has an absolute or objective quality. “Good” is a subjective distinction, and opinion will vary from player to player.

That said, I feel pretty confident in defining what a good game is, as long as the definition itself leaves room for subjectivity.

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