When I was sitting in front of my computer this morning, drinking a cup of hot coffee, one email by Jonathan Jacobs grabbed my attention. He’s currently working hard to get the RPG Blog Anthology released and he sent me a draft of chapter eight which includes one of my posts.
And from what I’ve seen so far, the RPG Blog Anthology will be a must for players and GMs alike. The quality of the writing is excellent and the featured artwork is very nice, too. You can check out a few pieces of artwork in Johnathan’s latest update on the upcoming anthology.
The transition from online blog posts to printed publication seems to work out pretty well. Links are converted to footnotes at the end of the articles and they even added some comments from the original posts. The current layout is a simple two-column-layout and the fonts are easy to read, which is pretty nice in my book. It’s all about the content after all. And you’ll get a lot of that. Chapter 8, which is about D&D 4th Edition Classes, Equipment and Action Points is 30 pages long!
If you want to support the RPG Blog Anthology you can a) still donate money to the project (there’s a PayPal donate button at Johnathan’s blog) or b) help spread the word. If you are on good terms with your local gaming store, you can perhaps convince them to put some copies on the shelves when the anthology is finally out.
For more information on the RPG Blog Anthology please check out Jonathan Jacobs’ blog “The Core Mechanic“!
In my opinion there are a lot of people who mistake roleplaying games for miniature combat games. But what makes RPGs so much fun is the roleplaying part. When you do your job (as player or GM) right, the character you play truely comes to life. There are some simple tips that can help you improve your roleplaying skills.
- Give your character some background
You can of course roll up your character, write “Bob the Barbarian” at the top of your character sheet and be done with it. But to make things more interesting, think about your character’s background. Where did he come from? Who were his parents? What are his motivations? Give your character some quirks, think about the way he talks and what he loves, hates and fears. And while you’re at it, think about a proper name!
- Use direct speech
Sometimes using indirect speech can speed things up. But it should not be the preferred method in my opinion. Although indirect speech has its uses in roleplaying, I prefer direct speech. “Greetings, friend. May I ask thee where I can find the inn in this nice city?” is much better than just “I ask for directions to the inn”. Think about what your character would say something and even how he would say it. If you have any talent for dialects or accents, you can use this to spice up things. Some players really love to act their characters out and make heavy use of gestures while playing their character. And trust me, everything is better for your roleplaying than “My character says to your character…”
- Avoid clichés
Ok, roleplaying games are full of clichés. In most fantasy settings dwarves like beer, use axes, have long beards, et cetera. In one D&D campaign I decided to go against the cliché with a dwarven ranger that always had a close cropped beard, fought with a rapier and his means of transportation was a cart drawn by his trusty mule. I was probably violating every cliché imaginable but it was one of the more memorable characters I played.
Also, don’t let clichés control your characters actions. Remember that player characters are usually heroes, people that vary from the norm and that do exceptional things. Even when the race description tells you that Dwarves hate gobinoids you don’t have to attack every greenskin on sight. Just think about what your character would do.
- Make your weakness your strength
No character is be perfect in everything he or she does. But that’s actually a plus in my book. Playing a perfect character would be pretty boring. Most often the weaknesses define a character more than his strengths. When you check out superhero comics you’ll notice that every hero has his weakness. What’s your character’s Kryptonite?
This weakness can also be tied to your attributes. Imagine a wizard with an exceptional intelligence but low dexterity who tends to drop things, bump into other people. If you want to bring some fun to the table this clumsy mage is more interesting than any Elminster wannabe.
- Let your character evolve
Let me tell you the story of Bob the Barbarian. He starts off as a farmer’s son, defeats the evil lich Morg in his teens, travels the seven seas before his 30th year and in his last years he rules the kingdom of Akilon until his death. And you probably will agree that it would be very strange if Bob the King would still feel, think and act as he still was Bob the Farmboy. But that’s what happens often enough in roleplaying.
So let your character’s character evolve with his skills and abilities. Think about how the events he or she experienced changed his or her outlook on life. Perhaps the struggles and losses left some emotional scars or even made the character stronger. Take all this in consideration when you play your character and your 20th level fighter will be much more than just a character sheet with some numbers on it.
I hope these tips will help you to improve your roleplaying. Of course a lot depends on the style of play you prefer. Some groups are perfectly happy with Bob the Barbarian, Terry the Thief and Mick the Mage slaying monsters all day without even uttering a word (aside from the occasional “Booyah!”). But if you want more out of your roleplaying experience, these tips will probably help.
And please, give your characters proper names and avoild names like “Bob the Barbarian”! Thanks!
Behold the 101st post on Stargazer’s World. When I started that blog in August 2008 I had great plans and much greater hopes but of course nothing happens exactly as planned. There were some pleasant surprises and also some unpleasant ones. But all in all I am very happy with how Stargazer’s World has turned out. And I have the feeling that 2009 will be a great year for the RPG Bloggers community. But let’s talk a bit about the last 100 posts…
My most successful post is surely “D&D 4th Edition Firearms“. It was the most viewed post during the existence of this blog and quite a few people have been linking back to it. I have to admit that I haven’t actually have the time to playtest the firearms rules since we haven’t been playing D&D 4th Edition that often lately, so if you’ve done so, please let me know.
The most controversial post was probably “Some 4E myths“. When I wrote that article in October I thought that a lot of people were bashing D&D 4th Edition because they had some misconceptions about the game. The discussion got quite heated when 4E fans and 4E critics started to bash each other relentlessly. But luckily the whole controversy about D&D 4th Edition has calmed down a little since then and the 4E fans and critics peacefully coexist on the RPG Bloggers Network.
My personal favorite post is still “Roleplaying music – Five essential soundtrack albums“. I always use a lot of music in my gaming sessions and there are five soundtrack albums that I believe should be part of any GM’s collection. I also included some short audio snippets, so you can check out the music before you buy the CDs in your favorite shop. When I remember correctly it took me hours to complete this post, but it was worth every minute.
During the last two months of last year I suffered from some kind of winter slump and the quantity and quality of blogging declined. I am also not happy with how my steamfantasy campaign Asecia turned out so far. In November I posted about my ideas for a reboot of the setting but I haven’t had the opportunity to work everything out. Perhaps some of you have some ideas on how I can “save” Asecia. During the last weeks I started writing about the SF campaign idea that has been floating around in my head for some time. And I am really interested to see how it will turn out.
I also want to thank all my fellow RPG bloggers. I am always amazed about the quality and quantity of posts the Network is churning out every day. And I have special thanks to the Chatty DM who helped me a lot during these last months.
At the end of that post let me give you some statistics on “Stargazer’s Blog”:
- Total number of posts: 101 (including this one)
- Total number of approved comments: 370
- Number of (unique) visits: 8711
- Active WordPress plugins: 10
- Technorati authority: 4 (don’t let the widget fool you, and if you know how to fix that, let me know)
- Google Page Rank: 1
- Cups of coffee consumed by me during the writing of that post: 2
What are your thoughts on the last 100 posts? What did you like? What was not to your liking? What would you like to see more/less? As always I am interested in your comments! So please use the contact form on the About page or use the comment section of that post! Thanks!
The Dead Alewives were a comedy troupe from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although the troupe stopped performing in the late 1990′s they will always be recognized by roleplaying game fans all over the world for their “Dungeon and Dragons” sketch.
After a dangerous and exhausting trip to the dark and cold depths of the internet I was able to unearth two precious audio files for you to listen to:
Dead Alewives – Dungeons & Dragons Part 1
Dead Alewives – Dungeons & Dragons Part 2
This posts’ title is a quote from the Dead Alewives’ famous “Dungeons & Dragons” sketch. When I recently listened to the sketch again this line made me think. Usually when I run a game as GM I make sure I describe everything as meticulously as possible, especially when I want to set a special mood by this particular scene. But the Dead Alewives’ sketch reminded me that I often forget to describe what the player characters can smell (or even taste).
But smell can be a powerful tool in a GM’s arsenal (By the way, I advise against using smells as some kind of prop in gaming. Putting a piece of rotting flesh under the table will not set the mood but will probably make your players sick). But you should try to remember mentioning smells and sometimes even tastes in your descriptions. Smells are tied to emotions and memories like no other sense.
And as a GM you can use this fact to your advantage. In a scene where the players are operating in a modern day hospital mention the antiseptic smell. Or use the aforementioned smell of mildew (and other unpleasant odors) in underground dungeons. A bazaar will seem much more interesting if you describe all the exotic spices and how they smell. And if you remind your players that their characters have an olfactory sense, they will probably make more use of it, too. And this will add a lot to the atmosphere of your game in the long run.
I have quite a few roleplaying books including dozens of rulebooks, a plethora of sourcebooks, campaigns and even a few adventures. There are some games I am very fond of, although I haven’t played them yet. My favorite games I have never played are:
- FATE (www.faterpg.com)
FATE is a very impressive game. It completely does away with attributes and replaces it with aspects. To fully explain how aspects work would probably too much for the scope of this post, so you should check out the FATE website or my review of FATE for details. FATE doesn’t come with any setting and can be used for any genre you can imagine. It’s based on FUDGE and can be quite crunchy at times but it’s very fast to learn and it’s IMO a perfect game for roleplaying newbies. Having a character that is a “good swordsman” is much easier to grasp for the novice player than having a “base attack value of +1, and a martial weapons proficiency”.
IMHO it’s best suited for campaigns that are focussed on roleplaying and don’t feature a lot of combat, but perhaps that’s just me. I have some ideas for a detective campaign, that I would like to run using FATE, but that’s a topic for another day.
- True20 (www.true20.com)
True20 is one of my favorite rules systems based on Wizards’ d20 System. Instead of having dozens of classes, the game is built around the three classes of warrior, expert and adept. You can freely multiclass between theses classes. Another change from classic d20 is that the attributes were replaced by their bonusses and every roll (even damage rolls) now use the same mechanics.
True20 can be used for almost every genre out of the book especially if you own the revised edition of the rulebook which includes everything from the True20 Companion. In many ways True20 reminds me of Mutants & Masterminds, another great game from Green Ronin, although it’s probably a bit better suited for non-superheroes-games than M&M. I am currently thinking about using True20 with my two “campaigns under construction”: Asecia and Ad Astra!
If you are looking for converting your current campaign to True20 you should check out the official True20 forums. You’ll be surprised how many campaigns have been successfully translated to True20 already.
- Mutants & Masterminds (www.mutantsandmasterminds.com)
If you have followed the RPG Bloggers Network for some time, you probably have already read about Mutants & Masterminds. Our fellow blogger Greywulf is an expert on all things M&M and he has shown us that you can use the excellent M&M rules to play just about everything. Like True20 M&M is based on d20. But the Mutants & Mastermind rules have done away with classes altogether. Characters are created using a point-buy-method and although M&M was created for superhero campaigns you can use it for other genres too.
I am a fan of superhero comics, movies and games and I would LOVE to run (or even play) M&M some time in the future. I am not sure if my group would be interested in doing so too and since we haven’t that much time anyway, we will probably stick to our current campaigns. But a man can dream, can’t he?
- Monte Cook’s World of Darkness
MCWoD is what happens when you let an exceptional game designer like Monte Cook reinterpret a setting like White Wolf’s World of Darkness. It also uses a heavily-modified d20 System. In MCWoD Earth was almost destroyed by an attack of the otherworldly Iconnu. When they tried to devour our reality, a few humans called the Awakened uncounciously fought them back. So the Iconnu sent their agents to Earth to destroy the Awakened.
Players can choose to play Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, Demons or Awakened in that game. These are the available player types which are a mix of class and race. Vampires used to be common people until the inconnu forced the soul of a dead evil human into their bodies. This soul is in constant battle with the one from the host. Sometimes they cooperate, sometimes one of the souls has total control over the body. Werewolves are feral spirits from an alien world inside human bodies. Aside from the memories the human soul is totally oppressed and the newborn Werewolf is bent on destruction. Demons are pretty much what you expect them to be. Mages are ordinary humans that have found out that the old rituals and spells suddenly work. And the Awakened are the humans whose souls were strong enough to fend off the iconnu attack.
The MCWoD world gives a lot of opportunities for roleplaying and you can have adventures from different genres within one setting. Since a huge area in the american mid-west was utterly destroyed and the “Intrusion Point” is a place where the laws of reality break down you can have post-apocalyptic adventures there or you can run more “classic” urban horror adventures in Chicago or elsewhere on our world. I planned to run MCWoD on New Year’s Eve but we decided to play Dark Heresy instead. But MCWoD is still high on my favorite games list!
- Jovian Chronicles (www.dp9.com)
Jovian Chronicles is a SF RPG by Dreampod 9. JC combines “hard science” with influences from mecha anime like Gundam for example. JC uses DP9′s Silhoutte system. Instead of a lot of other SF settings out there, Jovian Chronicles doesn’t feature FTL travel, Psi or other un-scientific elements. That’s what made me interested in JC in the first place. The Silhuette rules are pretty easy to learn and include rule variants for roleplaying and miniature gaming.
Alas it’s pretty hard to get your hands on the JC books. There’s a 2nd edition of the rulebook that features updated rules but as far as I know there are no updated sourcebooks for the 2nd edition yet. From what I’ve seen, Jovian Chronicles is pretty much a dead game. Nevertheless I like the setting and the rules and would pretty much try it out sometime.
So, what are your favourite RPGs you never played? Or do you have some comments to the games I wrote about? Let your voices be heard and write down your comments below!
In my last Dungeoncraft post I promised some details on the history of the “Ad Astra!” universe. My initial idea was to present my players with a world not much different from we have today. Most of the major nations were still there and each super power had its own space program with space stations in earth’s orbit, minor colonies on Moon and Mars and mining operations in the asteroid belt. But then I decided that I wanted to do things differently.
The globular cluster Omega Centauri is about 18,300 lightyears away from our solar system and contains several generations of stars, so that some scientist believe that Omega Centauri could be the core of a former dwarf galaxy that has been captured by the Milky Way. In “Ad Astra!” this is the home of a human civilization. Several hundred years ago a colony ship crashed on an habitable world in the Omega Centauri cluster. When the 10,000 colonists awoke from their cryogenic chambers they at once found out that something was terribly wrong. Nobody could remember anything from their past – not even their own names. All other memories were still intact. When they started salvaging the crashed colony ship, they found out that the ship’s main computer was still mostly intact but all historical databases were blank and the navigational subprocessor was broken beyond repair. They were stranded and didn’t even know where they initially came from. So they decided to start picking up the pieces, building a city from the remains of the ship. They called their new home “Citadel” after their crashed vessel.
Brave New World
This concept allows me to shape the civilization from the ground up. And since most of the original space ship is still salvageable it’s plausible that the colonist would be ready to return to the stars after only a few centuries. The reason how they crashed on Citadel and why they have no memories of their past lives shall remain a mystery. This could even be an interesting hook for an “Ad Astra!” campaign.
The fact that the Omega Centauri cluster is so far away from Earth has several advantages, too: not much is know about that region of space so that even an astronomy-geek wouldn’t know that much about it. If you run an SF campaign closer to Earth there’s always the problem that one of your players may for example notice when you turned Betelgeuse into a dwarf star by mistake. If you choose a far away region of space you can just use some solar system creation rules (like the ones in GURPS Space or Traveller) and create your own stars, worlds, nebulae, etc.
This shall be enough for today. As always I am interested in your thoughts, so feel free to leave your comments!