Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Some Questions About Settings

I have a number of projects taking up much of my time, and a lot of procrastination eating away at the rest. So, I think I'll just ask some questions. Feel free to answer, or don't, or talk about something that interests you right now.

Some setting materials are designed with a particular game system in mind, so that the magic system fits the physical structures in the game world (Hârn does this, where the places the magicians live are built around the Hârnic magic system; most games do the same for religious structures, of course). When you are using a product with a game other than the one it was designed in conjunction with, how do you handle that? If your game of choice has a magic system that centers on massive fireballs and lightning storms as the magicians' combat abilities, how do you fit that into a low-magic setting's products? Or whatever.

In general, how do you use setting products? Do you always take the setting and run it as it is written? Or do you modify it to suit your tastes? Or do you even just pull out small sections, or even single locations, and set them down in a setting of your own design (that's my general use, though some settings, like Oerth, are too good to break up like that)?

When you are designing your own setting, do you use the assumptions in your game of choice directly (encounter tables, price charts, etc)? Or do you carefully redesign those components of the game to better suit your vision?

What is your general process for designing a setting? Do you have ideas that you set down before even sitting down at the table with the players? Do you have some general ideas, but keep things loose so that ideas can come up in play? Do you just let it go and do all of your designing at the table? Some combination of these?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Goth of the Week

Aurelio Voltaire! Musician! Singer-songwriter! Animator! Author! Stand-up Comic! Roleplaying game designer! The multitalented Voltaire is well-known in goth circles, and not that unknown outside of them. He occasionally attempts to describe what "gothic" means to the subculture ("We almost never kill people").

Here, have some music:

Sorry I didn't get any gaming content written this week. I will try to get some in before the next Goth of the Week.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Goth of the Week

Gothic Lolita, or Loligoth, fashion is related to the rest of the gothic community, though it is mainly through crossover. Much of the Loligoth community is more closely associated with the general Lolita fashion community in Japan. These particular women dressed in Loligoth fashions are, I believe, in the Harajuku district in Tokyo. I wasn't able to find any further information about their names or the photographer. I found the picture here.

There is some crossover in musical taste between goth and loligoth, though those who follow loligoth fashion might just as easily listen to regular J-Pop. The fashion is not tied as tightly to the music as it is in the West. I'll put some music videos loosely associated with loligoth and other lolita fashion after the cut, one from Japan, one from the UK, and one from the US (the last put together by the musician from scenes in anime videos).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Games I'd Like To Play Redux

Yesterday, Douglas Cole at Gaming Ballistic wrote up some of the games that he'd like to play, and then today Peter V. Dell'Orto at Dungeon Fantastic did the same. Since I'm stuck in the review that I'm writing (for a recent game, of all things), I figured, "what the heck?" and decided to do the same. I've written things like this before, but I like the focus of limiting myself to three games (not a hard and fast rule, but that's what those two gentlemen did). And anyway, my list has changed slightly from those earlier lists.

1) Top Secret. I recently ran across the flowchart that Merle Rasmussen put together in Dragon magazine #40, and looked at my slowly growing draft of a TS retroclone. Then I remembered how much fun the game was, and how much fun it looks now. It's an odd game, occupying a niche closer to the Mission: Impossible TV series than the superheroics of Bond or Bourne (or the movie version of Mission: Impossible), more like Secret Agent/Danger Man or To Catch A Thief than Munich or Three Days of the Condor. And yet, it can manage to fill those other roles as well. Sometimes. When the dice fall right. The person running it would need to have access to a lot of the articles that appeared in Dragon magazine, especially "Pop the Clutch and Roll!" in Dragon #78, which gave a good, gameable system for car chases.

2) Flashing Blades. Especially using the High Seas supplement to play pirates in the Caribbean - but I wouldn't turn down playing in France either! There is still no better game for swashbuckling adventure. Character creation is as quick and breezy as the game system itself. Yeah, there are some clunky bits (weapon skills, notably), but they work without needing to be changed. The idea of having a goal in the form of the careers that a character can pursue is brilliant and quickly puts the players in the position of generating the adventures on their own as they maneuver and intrigue for power and position.

3) Traveller. Classic, Mega-, GURPS, Mongoose, I don't care. I'll even play New Era, T4, or T5 (though I won't be as happy). I do have a strong preference for Classic or Mega-, largely because I like the simplicity of the mechanics and clean feel of the gadgets and setting (Mongoose is a little too baroque for me, though the mechanics are good). GURPS is not a bad choice, though the system isn't as pristine. New Era is alright, but the system was not the best thing that GDW ever came up with. T4/T5 are pretty similar, and I don't like the way that the system has gone much, but at least it isn't SpaceMaster (I kid! I'm kidding! SpaceMaster is totally better than Space Opera. I'm kidding again!) I'd probably like any of them even more if the setting was the Referee's own, developed from the game assumptions, rather than the Imperium universe. Not that I dislike the Imperium, but ever since Virus it's kinda lost its appeal in all eras to me. Well, the GURPS "No Rebellion" alternate timeline is pretty cool. Too bad they had to go to the Interstellar Wars era in 4E, forcing everyone who just wanted to play the default setting to do a tonne of conversions. Easier to just roll up some subsectors and go. The point is, though, that Traveller is a pretty awesome game, maybe the best for me.

Of course, I'm not counting games that I'd run (well, I'd run Traveller). That is currently a fixed list: AD&D 1E (with small alterations), GURPS Fantasy Old West (which I am running for myself using a solo GM emulator), MegaTraveller, Fantasy Wargaming, Space 1889 (not the new one, the original GDW game), Chivalry & Sorcery. There are a couple of other games that I'd like to play, too, but not as seriously as the three I listed. Hârnmaster, D&D 5E, and RuneQuest 6E, notably, as well as any of those that I said I'd run.

What are you looking to play?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Goth of the Week

Aleksandra "Apsara" Kilczewska. There are many other beautiful shots and outfits that she has on her Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What Is This?

Over at Photoshop Disasters, there was this image of a four-eyed mountain sheep. It must have stats in some game or games. Share them with me! Is it a Gamma World mutant? A demon from the depths of AD&D's Abyss? Something else?