Posts Tagged ‘RPGs’

h1

Everything Thursday: The Aesthetics of Genre

June 20, 2019

“I think it is very important to be able to read media with a critical eye. To parse it in terms of what it is saying, both on its face, and in how it uses the language of its medium (film, TTRPG, whatever) to deliver its ideas. To make its statement.

Genre is not simply a set of aesthetics, full stop. It is aesthetics with a direction, an impetus.

Lots of folks like to forget the reason behind the aesthetic choices, and just sort of, eat and regurgitate them unthinkingly.”

Commuting Crow [Emphasis Mine]

I came across this and I like it a lot, and want to pass it forward for it is very important in storytelling, in gaming, and even in architecture.

The look and feel (ie aesthetics) of any genre is born from a philosophical place.  It was through the examination and exploration of certain ideas, theses, and ideologies, whether that be in support of them (we are interested in this  and think this is a good way to go, let’s explore and invent down that road), in question of them (we see this as a possible way things could go, let’s explore and see what the outcome(s) might be), or in opposition or critique of them (this is something we see happening, and think it is not productive, let’s explore and illustrate the harm).  Genre is more than the style of the world, it is about world building, and all of the aspects of world building.  The way society operates (or doesn’t), the way people think (or don’t), the prevailing truths (or untruths), the direction and inflections of humanity.  It is from there, from that baseline world building from which the aesthetics emerge and are developed into their final form.

So when you use the imagery and aesthetics of the genre as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the genre.  Your work is not of the genre.  It’s something else in different clothing.*

The same holds true in architecture.  The organization of the Beaux-Arts building, the hyper-detailed nature of the Baroque period, the classical orders, the bold planes of modernism, they all emerged out of philosophies about living (in all senses of that word).  There were values and convictions and ideas and ideologies beneath it all, and it was the exploration into form of all of those that informed and created the style, including how the building is laid out, how one approaches the building, how one travels from room to room, how the façade is proportioned, how and where ornamentation, etc.

So when you use the architectural pieces and aesthetics (the architectural language) of a ‘style’ (or genre) as just a stylistic choice, you aren’t operating in the true nature of the style.  Your work is not of the style.  It is something else in different clothing.

In this way, Using the words  “architectural style” to describe how a building looks turns out to be a misnomer.**

To reiterate, genres (and architectural ‘styles’***) are born of a specific context, in time and space and thought and vision.  From there emerges a look.  If you want your story, your game, or your work to be truthfully of that genre, it needs to engage with that context (again, whether it is to follow, to re-examine, to tweak, to refute, whatever, but it must engage with it), not just the look of it.

It is from there that richness arises and that great works emerge.

 

* Which BTW is fine… there’s some fun in playing around only with style.  Just be honest about it.

** It is also where many more recent buildings fall flat or feel terrible, because they’re importing architectural languages in a copy/paste mode without any thought or understanding of all the ideology and knowledge that underpinned the ‘style’ and so having little design sense poured into them.  Confusing architecture as just the “fancy looking bits” leaves behind the most important aspects that make up what architecture actually is.

*** We really need a better word.  Ok.  This is my game now, to find or come up with a new word for this.

 

h1

Gaming Thursday: RPG Page Up!

April 4, 2019

I played my first RPG when I was 11 years old.*  It was the Top Secret RPG, and I was instantly hooked. Since then there’s nary been a time when I haven’t been playing one RPG or another, and I’ve equally come to love various tactical tabletop games.

It’s likely no surprise then that over the years I’ve written and created a myriad of rules supplements, fiction, campaign ideas, accessories, and so much more for all the various games I play.  After much delay, I have finally begun to re-create a page that collects all that material to share it all.  You can find it at the top of the sidebar to the right, titled Kannik’s RPG Page.

Thus far I have linked my recent Star Trek Adventures and Mouse Guard materials, a gaggle of guns and equipment for Car Wars, and two big books I’d put out for the Renegade Legion line of games, the first being the (what was to have been the official) second edition rules for Interceptor, and the second being a collection of all the material I had created and placed on my old Renegade Legion website (which, delightfully, has been saved for posterity by archive.org).

I’ve still got plenty more!  I’ll keep adding to it in the coming months and leave a note when I do.

Happy gaming!

 

* Actual rules-based RPG that is – my friends and I had been doing essentially freeform RPG-esque storytelling for several years prior.

h1

Gaming Thursday

January 31, 2019

This is the kind of shenanigans we players get up to during our games… especially when the DM brings 3D printed magnet-edged tiles:

h1

Gaming Thursday

December 20, 2018

D&D humour!  (and a great pun to boot!)

h1

Gaming Thursday

December 6, 2018

In honour of both Ralph Breaks the Internet as well as our own just-started D&D campaign…

h1

Gaming Thursday: Conveying the Rules

November 8, 2018

Over the past 6 years or so, I’ve had fun trying out many new game systems.  From role playing to pure tactical, from the crunchy to the more narrative, they’ve run the gamut.  Through this all I’ve been reminded of two very big things:

  • Crafting a smooth, engaging, fun, and enabling game system is an art.
  • Conveying those rules with clarity and structure is an entirely separate art.

Neither of these are revelatory, of course.  But while most of these new systems I’ve come to enjoy and find quite well done, almost all of them suffer greatly in the second department.  Often, horribly so.

It’s a strange phenomenon to me, this consistency to which rulesets these days (in my experience, at any rate) are both poorly explained, with awkward, ambiguous, and poorly worded statements, and poorly laid out, with the most egregious (and, again, common) being interlocking rules elements that are strangely separated in the book by whole chapters and further compounded by meagre, or worse, no index so you can’t readily find things mid-game.  It is one reason I’ve been making so many cheat sheets – designing them allows me to see and learn how the game rules actually fit together*, with the in-play for quick reference being almost a bonus feature.

This may be starting to sound a bit like a rant, and truly I don’t mean it to be.  Instead, these two things have been great reminders for me of the importance of finding and trusting good editors and, even more importantly, being aware of what we’re good at, and what we’re not.  We may be brilliant at designing rules, but we may stink at writing them down (or vice versa).  Hiring people to aid us in those roles where we are weak can be the best thing for us and the game.

It is also a reminder that when I do find a game that excellently handles both bits, celebrate both the rules but even more so the authors/team who wrote them and laid out the book with such elegance.  For it is most certainly not a given.

 

* To which really allows one to see just how strange the organization can be by noting how many times, forty or sixty pages later in the book, you need to go back and add something to a part of the cheat sheet you thought you were done with.

h1

Gaming Thursday: STA Cheat Sheet Update

November 1, 2018

Just a quick post to note I updated my Star Trek Adventures cheat sheet to fix a few errors I had on there (oops!)…

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1k9AR8oRJ_qiSPoxW7QEVWZU50jQiIYOr

Happy gaming in the final frontier!