Tag Archives: RPG

How to be a Player

Oh God, no I mean like in role playing games. If you’re reading this you probably don’t have to worry about being a Player. Ooo burnnn, nerds. Anyways, being a RPG player is a sacred duty. Your job is to enjoy yourself and boost the self-esteem of your game master by pretending their plot twist is both original and not something stolen from The Avengers.

Contrary to popular belief, it can be hard to be a player. Not really the playing part, that’s easy. But being a GOOD player? That’s hard. Here’s some tips to help you stay in your GM’s good graces.

Continue reading How to be a Player

The Importance of Atmosphere

Okay, so now you’ve gotten a game off the ground. While your storytelling abilities are still going to be evolving, there is one thing you can handle right off the bat that will drastically change the experience for your players.

file9961269552655

Atmosphere.

Atmosphere is essential for role playing games. Since RPGs exist only in the mind’s eye of the players and the game master, anything that can add to that experience helps the immersion and ability to stay in character. Here’s five things that can help add a little something to your gaming session.

Basic things to help atmosphere

Music and Sound Effects

The right music can be something that is easily incorporated into the game without being distracting. With YouTube having 10 hr video’s of instrumental music, you should be able to find any type of backing track from Celtic themes, 1920’s jazz, or futuristic space-beats.

Any GM with access to a laptop, PC, or IPod should be able to work out some kind of music to play. For when I run Dragon Age for instance, I use a mixture of the Dragon Age soundtrack, and Skyrim’s soundtrack. Listen to some of the songs and find those that are mellow and perfect to play when the characters are in their downtime, or chaotic ones for hectic battles.

Ambient noise that can be tailored to your session is also a nice touch. One website I’d recommend checking out is tabletopaudio.com. They offer free ambient and music tracks for all sorts of genre’s, from dungeon crawlers to monster attacks to daily life on a space station. Just having the humming of starship engines in the background over a quiet music track can help more than any description of the engines rumbling underneath the player’s feet.

Finally, sound effects. If you want to get very theatrical, start using sound effects to punctuate things like a scream or bolt of lightning. If going for a horror game, realistic sound effects can help bridge the gap between cheesiness and horror.

PICT4196

Lighting

Your light situation can also influence the feel of a game. For instance, in college I would run Call of Cthulhu
strictly by the light of tea candles. Just get a dozen or more and keep them on a non-flammable surface (careful of wax too!) and make sure the table can read their character sheets. This is going to sound horrible of me, but I made my future wife cry after blowing out the lights at the end of the game.

If you have access to a fireplace, the crackling fire can be the perfect atmosphere adjuster for a dungeoneering adventurer’s inn or campsite.  Or, a barely screwed-in, flickering bulb among other harsh lighting can suggest a spacecraft with failing systems.

Tips on starting RPGs

So you finally decided that you want to try role playing games for yourself. Good! We are a very welcoming bunch and are hardly known to turn down players! I love RPGs because they encourage thinking on the fly, storytelling, and having fun.

I’d recommend joining an established RPG group to learn the ropes. They can be found among friends, local game shops, etc. However, if you want to be the pioneer among your friends you can be the one to pick it up. Here’s some tips.

Continue reading Tips on starting RPGs

Storytelling and RPGs

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a huge nerd. I absolutely love role playing games; both running them and playing in them.  I run into one problem though: I get sidetracked by other games.

The games I play in I have a blast with, so that’s not the problem. It’s when I run games that I get distracted. Lately I’ve been running Traveller. Traveller is a space opera, in which players generally find themselves moving across a subsector of space, scraping by and high-tailing it from one system to the next. In a word, it’s basically Firefly the RPG, more so than the original Firefly RPG.

Continue reading Storytelling and RPGs

H.P. Lovecraft and Podcast Update

Some things to watch out for: we officially launched the YouTube channel here the other week, and now we’re currently finishing up our second story.

One of the things we also plan on doing are some public domain stories, specifically H.P. Lovecraft coming up.

Continue reading H.P. Lovecraft and Podcast Update

A Writing Experiment: Results

So the experiment went well! My players didn’t get as far as expected, but that was due to 2 main factors: me shaking off that game mastering dust since I haven’t run a game in probably a year now, and the fact that I got tired before any of them.

See, even though I have been spending my time mainly writing, I.e., working on my own schedule, I still wake up at 5am every morning on the dot. It doesn’t matter if I fall asleep at 9:30pm or midnight or 2am, it just happens. Weird eh? Last night I kicked them out at 9:15pm and was asleep at 9:30pm. Very early for me but for some reason I was just hit by a wall. Probably a combination of the mental strain of keeping all the pieces juggling in the game, and the Guinness I claimed as my right as game master.

Anyways, it actually really did help me work out a few kinks in my world and as a storyteller. I found something interesting in the meantime, I get much more self conscious trying to explain my story to others in person instead of just as a written story. My story is basically a fish-out-of-water fantasy with a few spins on the genre. It’s been fun to write, but just trying to explain it to someone, I get lost stumbling over myself. How much do I give away? How much do I hold back?

Writing for the game itself became interesting since I had to lay the general story out on the line and more. No longer were the characters just speaking through me, but also interacting and responding to the player characters.

I, and I assume many others, have come to what can be looked at as the adventurer assumption. For instance, the world is threatened, you have the means to stop it through a mysterious item or quest, do you embark on it as soon as possible, or do you research? Can caution be thrown to the wind, or should it be trusted and steps measured. At what point do you say to hell with it and jump through the doorway or read the forbidden book or speak to the creepy old man?

As a game master, I see this a lot. The sections where I assume the players will selflessly throw themselves into a dangerous situation, they debate and research. When I assume they’ll act with caution, they will ride in like heroes, guns ablaze. This is more of an indictment of my abilities as a storyteller, and I’m extremely happy that I tried it. It helped point out the jumps in logic I make because I know what comes next. Not what the characters will do necessarily, but major events that are in the works and when they happen. I’m still working on making the world proactive. I need to remember that even though my POV characters may not be involved in a certain plot point, it still develops and is both proactive in it’s progression, and reactive to protagonist actions.

One of the best things I’ve learned from writing actually came from an RPG book for game masters. Remember that while the players have their goals and are seeking them out, the villain isn’t just sitting on his throne, bored, occasionally ordering minions to go bug the player characters. They have wants and needs of their own, and while the players are doing things so are the villains progressing in their goals. Maybe their goal is to be lazy, but if they’re developing a super weapon or rigging an economic system or whatever the case, they should still be making progress in the vacuum of the player characters. I need to remember that for my stories.

All in all, experiment a success, and it sounds like we might get back together next Sunday so I’m glad everyone enjoyed getting together enough to be up for having another go where we left off.

Also, shout out to Carla Doria M. of “Diaries of the happy loner” for recommending Microsoft OneNote. All my writing I still do in Scrivener, but OneNote was perfect for maps and documents on the fly for my group. Who doesn’t like a MS Paint hand-drawn map of a fantasy world? I made the castle orange so they knew it was special.

A writing experiment

In a few hours I’m going to try something interesting.

A bit of a writing experiment to test the usability and coherence of the world of my novel. I’m going to have my RPG group run through a section of it.

Now, I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a huge nerd and love Role Playing Games, while I don’t play Dungeons and Dragon’s or wander through the woods in a cloak, the image in your mind is probably true. A group of friends and I hang out, drink beer, and basically create collaborated, guided stories. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, we have a good time.

In this case, introducing my friends to the world of the novel as I close my world-building phase, I feel like it will be a stress test on how well the setting itself works before I commit myself to 80,000+ words. It feels like a focus group of people I trust, but in a good way.

Have any of you writer’s ever tried something similar before committing to a fiction setting? Or any other writer’s who play RPG’s and use that in their writing? Any system recommendations? I love Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness, Delta Green, Shadowrun, and Traveller for instance. And for all my other readers: next update will be about the follow up to my bachelor party. The trip where we went back to the Wisconsin River… Stay Tuned.