Posts Tagged ‘RPGs’

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Gaming Thursday: Trail Maps

October 24, 2019

Back in 1990, TSR released a pair of maps:  one of the (western) Forgotten Realms, the other of Kara-Tur.  They called them Trail Maps, and these were no simple poster-sized map; much like the name suggests, they unfolded like a road map to massive size.  Put the two together and you got the whole of the realms some 72”+ wide.  It was epic.  I had them on my wall for quite some time.

One of the benefits of working at an architecture firm is access to a full-colour large-format roll scanner.  I think you know where this is leading… both trail maps, scanned and merged, with a bit of added continent to the south, all ready for your campaigning pleasure:

Enjoy!

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Gaming Thursday

October 10, 2019

Heroforge now has centaur models!  Rejoice!

As someone who has long enjoyed playing centaurs (and other taurs!) in D&D, this is exciting news for me.  And if you’re not familiar with Heroforge, well, consider this doubly great news, for now you’ve learned about a site that you can make and order customized 3D printed minis for your character.  It’s as awesome as it sounds.

And hey, if you like centaurs, wemics, and other taurs (or even yuan ti) as much as I do, I’ve written a supplement for D&D 5e so you can add them into your game:

Check it out!

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 10, 2019

“Fortune favors the prepared, dahhling.”

So says the inimitable Edna Mode.  And, on the whole, it’s a statement I very much subscribe to.  It is not enough to want something, or hope for something – we, quite likely, need to work for it.  Learning, creating, rehearsing, adapting, overcoming our barriers and then building the path step by step.  And when something goes awry, as things invariably seem to do, being prepared gives us the wherewithal to right the ship and get things back on course to what we want.

But in that quote, and similar ones like “Fortune favors the bold,” there’s something we often miss.  And it’s that second word: “Favors.”  It’s not guarantees, it’s not promises, it’s not even “agrees to help you.”    It’s favors.  Chance (and/or luck) always remains a factor.  A big factor.  And while being prepared can increase our chances, it’s still remains a roll of the dice.*

When we acknowledge and own that, we gain freedom.  We can be kinder and gentler to ourselves.  We can put aside our assessments of where we are versus where we wanted (or “should”) be, especially in comparison to others.  We can avoid sentencing ourselves to being a failure, and carry forth under that shame.**

More importantly, we can also judge others with greater grace and generosity.  We can set aside our dismissals and opinions on their lives and all the reasons why things aren’t going well for them, and we can forego all the ways we might treat them harshly because of it, be it shunning, punishing, ridiculing, or anything of the like. **

Even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and even a mouse sized setback or unexpected hindrance can spiral into another, and another, and another.  To be fortunate requires fortune to favor us, and that is never a certain thing.   Living into that context brings with it peace of mind, connection, and opens possibility, freeing us to pursue and to support each other in pursuing those things that call to us deeply.

 

*  Which is something many a tabletop gamer can relate to.  It doesn’t matter if you have +12 to hit… you may still miss.  And then there was the time where the DM, at the end of the campaign, after so many sessions, with the ultimate and final roll about to be made, and after long and theatrical preamble, told the player, “Look, basically just don’t roll a 1.”  By the very fact I’m using this as an example for how fortune can fail us, you and I both know I don’t need to describe what happened next…

** At the same time there is the flip side.  For ourselves, there is humility – acknowledging our fortune and that sometimes privilege gave us a boost – and not becoming conceited and hubristic.  When looking at others, we can remember that those who have accomplished much (or acquired a lot of wealth) are not necessarily or inherently better people, worthy of worship and imitation.

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Gaming Thursday

August 29, 2019

As an additional note, this library is doing it right… with a whole shelf dedicated to games (including RPGs!)

This was surprisingly (new to me, at any rate) common across the Nordic countries.  Plenty of games, especially in libraries.  Right on!

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Gaming Thursday: how2RP part 3

July 25, 2019

I’ve come across a sentiment lately (like this post on twitter, very much worth a read) that seems to be pointing to a view that is taking hold within the tabletop RPG community that there’s one right, or real, way to roleplay, and that is in a first person manner.

I do not subscribe to that sentiment.  To riff off the answer given in the twitter post above and to expand on this post of mine from a few years ago, I would instead invite this:

To roleplay is to direct the actions of your character such that they are appropriate to that person existing within, reacting to what’s happening within, and from the viewpoint and mind of that person within the fictional world.  In other words, you are ‘being’ this other person in this other world.  That’s the RP.

The how of it is not what makes good (or real, or true) RP versus not.  First person, third person, or switching between the two, doesn’t matter.  Detailing every minutia of an action or speaking in generalities, doesn’t matter.  The way the character is expressed at the table is not the important part – so long as the character is being expressed in a clear way, the specific method of it should not matter.

And I say this coming from a place of being very much a “method actor” when I RP.  I get subsumed within my characters when I play: my demeanor changes, I speak as would my character*, I gesticulate as would my character, and even my thinking patterns change to match the character.  When I describe actions (if not directly acting them out), I do so with plenty of “I do this” type statements.

I play this way because I enjoy it.  And I love interacting with others who RP in the same vein.  But I also won’t deny anyone who plays with a different style.  “Galen speaks to the queen about their shared past, reminding her of the time they forged a cunning gambit to win the Quadathalon Cup, and the sense of honour we felt that day” is just as valid to RP as saying “Remember, my queen, when we were caught up in pursuit of the Quadathalon Cup?  How the winds blew most foul that day, and we knew that should either one of us lose, the neighboring lord would… (proceed to wax poetic for five more minutes).”  They’re creating and expressing the same thing.

Not everyone feels comfortable to extemporaneously play their characters in the first person.  Others may have no interest in doing so.  Some want to but aren’t ready yet.  And sometimes even I am just not feeling it that day and choose to go third person.  It’s all good.  So long as the character is present (evidenced by acting and interacting appropriate to the fictional person being portrayed) then RP is present.

It’s wonderful that RPGs are flourishing right now, with scores and scores of new players coming into the hobby.  Everyone joins with different levels of experience, different personalities, and even different interests in what the games can provide for them.  It can be tough to get into the headspace of someone else, let alone a fictional character, and doubly let alone having to act like the person at the same time.  Letting everyone RP as they’re feeling it and comfortable gives the greatest freedom to develop that key ingredient.  No matter the how, being a character and weaving the shared story is what makes these games so magical.

 

* I once was playing in a game where my character didn’t have a good grasp on the local language, so I was speaking in very clipped and non-properly formatted English.  Midway through the game, I asked the GM a question, who proceeded to look at me like I had three heads.  “Do you realize what you just did?” they asked.  “No…”  “You just spoke to me, asking a game question, just like your character’s been speaking.”  “Oh!  Really?”  Apparently so!  And I didn’t mean to do that, and didn’t even realize I’d done it.  When I say I become enmeshed with my character, it goes that far…

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Gaming Thursday

July 18, 2019

Have an “artsy-style” gaming photo right from the table…

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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.