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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 08:54 PM
    I think you mentioned teaching to kids before; I have trouble keeping track of all the different elements of this mongo thread! But, I'm glad you're bringing the next generation up to speed too. I agree that all of this is part of it, and I've included similar language in my pitches and budget requests at school. But there are pitfalls if I focus too heavily on performance/dramatic/narrative...
    1468 replies | 38569 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 07:40 PM
    Sure. Yes. My framing, narration, gaming conversation, etc., is probably, by some metrics, more "literary" than someone with less formal education, less experience with public speaking, etc. My point wasn't solely about my experience though. I teach RPGs to children ranging from ages 6-14 (and some older). Many of them do not have well-honed skill with language. Many of them succeed at...
    1468 replies | 38569 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Wednesday, 12th June, 2019, 03:10 PM
    I agree with this in terms of writing or public speaking. (I have often worked with students who somehow think that the good idea buried in their grammarless "paragraph" should exonerate them from a low grade.) With gaming, however, I am more forgiving. This ties into the concept of a game being collaborative, more like a conversation than a speech or a piece of writing. In conversations,...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Tuesday, 11th June, 2019, 07:10 PM
    A major challenge for this endeavor is that one's actual play experience is not always tightly linked to the rules. This is not to say that system doesn't matter — it definitely has an impact — but RPGs are so complicated and have so many aesthetic dimensions that different groups run them entirely differently. For example, I recall one of the great dungeon master's of my youth would ask...
    44 replies | 1181 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 05:19 PM
    For me, this depends a lot on context and what the other players like. There's a difference between fun role-playing flourishes and hogging the spotlight. If we're in the middle of a tense battle scene and a player decides to start reciting epic poetry on their turn, I'd get tired of it pretty soon. (Just like I get frustrated by players who haven't figured out their tactical maneuver in time for...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Monday, 10th June, 2019, 04:26 AM
    This weekend I have found myself in exactly this situation. We have a game scheduled for tomorrow and the usual GM bowed out. The group asked me to step in. I agreed, but prior plans have given me less prep time than I would have hoped for. I'm using a modified short adventure from an issue of Pyramid magazine that seemed to fit the current position of the campaign. My priorities have been the...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Saturday, 8th June, 2019, 11:25 PM
    Yeah, if the GM gives a player a stack of GURPS books with a zillion options, creating a character from scratch is daunting. The template system, however, makes this much easier. A template provides a list of options for a given archetype. A first-timer, as with most RPGs, will need to look up (or ask about) the details of features (advantages, disadvantages, skills, and spells) in order to...
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Friday, 7th June, 2019, 10:47 PM
    The story about Pope Gregory IX banning cats and thus exacerbating the black plague is rich for gaming plunder. The historical veracity of the story is disputed, but that shouldn't stop anybody. I could see an adventure about a ruler banning some kind of creature which then causes something worse to happen. Maybe the PCs learn about it and must try to stop it before its too late. Or maybe they...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th June, 2019, 04:17 AM
    I've stolen and reskinned many historical events but never used one specific event (or war) as the basis for a whole campaign or world. So I read a book about Krakatoa and then I have a massive eruption and devastating tsunami. I read an article about an archaeological dig somewhere and I base my next adventure loosely on that (or I steal the map and add a gelatinous cube). I am constantly...
    21 replies | 709 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Thursday, 6th June, 2019, 03:16 AM
    Over on the SJG GURPS forum, there's a current thread about low-powered campaigns posted by a guy who likes playing high-powered games. As these things tend to go, a lot of the debate is overly nit-picky, but Bill Stoddard posted a summary of GURPS campaigns that he's run in the past decade or two. Bill is the author of numerous GURPS books, including Fantasy, Supers, and Steampunk, among many...
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
    2 XP
  • uzirath's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th June, 2019, 06:03 PM
    Sigh. That's so disheartening, isn't it? How bizarre that so many of us in this quirky niche hobby spend so much energy arguing that our game about imaginary worlds is the best game and that all the other games about imaginary worlds are stupid. I appreciated your thoughtful list, even though GURPS ain't your thing.
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Wednesday, 5th June, 2019, 03:11 PM
    I played in a great DFRPG game last night that highlighted some of the strengths of the GURPS tactical combat system. It was a scene in a bar where we were trying to impress a sea captain who we wanted to book passage with. One of our characters volunteered to engage in a drinking game against a regular, a massive dwarf. Each of them removed any weapons and received a large tankard of ale, filled...
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
    2 XP
  • uzirath's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 08:29 PM
    I feel your pain. Totally. A potential silver lining here, though, is that by winging it, your monster powers will be more unique. As a player, I like to be surprised by a monster's spell working differently than the party wizard's spell. It's not like they all get their powers from the same vending machine. (Though, barring a fictional rationale, it is nice if a monster's powers stay...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 03:41 PM
    This seems like a sensible way to frame the issue and leads back to the ever-important need to have good lines of communication in the group. I have certainly erred (as GM) in both directions: being overly focused on adhering to RAW versus being too flip with the rules. I know this because players talk to me about it afterward. I am also mindful here of pemerton's reminders that aspects of...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 03:31 PM
    Yes, I'm sure this is true. I left D&D behind as my primary system because new players (without a gaming background) continually butted up against its baked-in assumptions. (This is not an attack on D&D... I have played and enjoyed every version, and still run 5e games sometimes.) Of course many would say that GURPS is even worse, with the immensity of its potential ruleset, but I've found it...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 03:10 AM
    I appreciate your thorough explanation. It doesn't match my own experience, but I certainly respect your preferred playstyle. The quote above had me chuckling because when I pitch RPGs to non-gamers, I explicitly tell them that there is no expectation that they read the rulebooks! (I don't imply that this is universal though... just my own table expectations.) To me, this seems to be a...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Monday, 3rd June, 2019, 02:53 AM
    I'm glad you did. It rippled over to my canoe where I have been pondering some related ideas. I'm largely with you here. Context is important if you want fictional elements to have emotional resonance. If you're departing from well-known genre territory, you need to build that context into the game so that it becomes familiar. This can be all the GM's job or it can be shared by everyone...
    1468 replies | 38569 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Sunday, 2nd June, 2019, 09:21 PM
    Wow. This is a very high bar! This would filter out any casual players, and I know many experienced gamers who don't know the rules subsystems for things they're not interested in (e.g., someone who loves playing martial characters and doesn't care to learn the spellcasting system). I'm not saying it's wrong, but it's nearly the opposite of my approach as a GM. But, then again, my approach is...
    50 replies | 1636 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Sunday, 2nd June, 2019, 02:05 PM
    Yes, my example was tailored to the games that I have the most experience with. I haven't played or read Apocalypse World, though I'm curious to check it out. I have a copy of Dungeon World, but haven't had a chance to play it. As a GM, I'm sure I would try to be on top of the rules too, because that's the way I do things. As a player, though, I have been surprised that I am not really bothered...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Sunday, 2nd June, 2019, 12:55 AM
    I, too, have observed this fixation, even at public store events. It's one reason that it is so important to diversify the hobby. Some of my all-male groups in high school (a very long time ago) made a lot of inappropriate sexual jokes. It got to the point at some tables that there were just running gags all the time. When I got to college and started playing in more diverse groups (gender,...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st June, 2019, 10:08 PM
    Solid list. We should all print this out and hang it in our GM lair.
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st June, 2019, 06:44 PM
    Like many others, I'd like to know more about the question. Most games that I run are based on the premise of a team working together to solve problems. In these cases, players are expected to build characters who can plausibly be part of the team. In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, this is often represented mechanically as having a 5-point disadvantage called Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions)....
    26 replies | 936 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Saturday, 1st June, 2019, 06:02 PM
    These quotes connect to a strand I've seen here about GM ego and how to handle mistakes. (I may have missed some.) I agree with this. It's been many years since I've played in a game where the GM made all the calls without any input. I didn't enjoy that feel. Indeed, I'm much more likely to be grumpy about GM mistakes when the GMs deify themselves. There is also the element here of etiquette...
    50 replies | 1636 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Friday, 31st May, 2019, 04:55 PM
    uzirath started a thread GM's Knowing the Rules
    In the How do you get to GURPS? thread, DMMike brought up an issue that intrigues me, but strays enough from the topic to deserve its own thread: As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right? For the purposes of this thread, I'm setting aside edge case horror stories of awful GMs who play favorites, break rules willy nilly for self-serving reasons, apply...
    50 replies | 1636 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Friday, 31st May, 2019, 04:22 PM
    I certainly do. Indeed, great material can come out of this sort of improv. I've had entire campaigns switch direction based on unexpected player choices and my off-the-cuff reactions. I love that element of RPGs. I experienced this as a player in a recent session of our DFRPG game. A few last-minute cancellations left us without a quorum. On the spur of the moment, the GM added a new section...
    62 replies | 5173 view(s)
    1 XP
  • uzirath's Avatar
    Friday, 31st May, 2019, 02:52 PM
    Definitely. I find that I don't care about players knowing the rules as long as they are playing ball: immersing themselves in the fiction, ready with an action declaration on their turn (even if it's sub-optimal), paying attention, making an effort to get the basics down, etc. If I have a newbie who won't even go that far, then it isn't going to work (might be the wrong hobby, wrong game system,...
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, 07:10 PM
    I would start off with GURPS because it's the system I know best. (I have done this exact thing many times over the years with different groups of coworkers.) If I'm going to be managing the rules behind the scenes, then I need a system that I know well. Most RPGs, GURPS included, have a very simple core mechanic of trying to roll higher or lower than a target number. With GURPS, you roll three...
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Tuesday, 28th May, 2019, 03:08 PM
    Yeah, me neither. GURPS has been my system of choice since the mid-'90s, though I've certainly played plenty of other systems. I long ago stopped expecting my players to completely digest the rules of whatever game I'm running. When I began recruiting new players (non-gamers) to join my RPG groups, I discovered that for most RPGs, the game rules form a real barrier to entry. I experimented...
    54 replies | 1923 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Sunday, 26th May, 2019, 06:20 AM
    While I mostly agree with this proposition for a mature game, I find that kids tend to TPK every other encounter. Some of them don’t understand how to balance encounters. Others think it’s GM vs PCs. So, for beginners I think it is useful to advise them to try to craft scenarios that don’t immediately risk rapid violent death for the whole group.
    1468 replies | 38569 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 05:18 PM
    This is helpful. As I looked over your specifics from other games systems, I see that my approach is actually quite similar, though I hadn't distilled it down to its essence. The main system I've GMed for the past 20 years has been GURPS, which provides tons of story hooks on the character sheet. I usually focus on disadvantages and quirks, but skills and advantages come into play too. As a...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Thursday, 23rd May, 2019, 03:32 AM
    This sounds more theatrical than literary to me. It may be worth considering how role-playing can be used outside of gaming. At school, for example, we (the teachers) use role-playing activities with students to help build empathy. I don't think of this as a literary endeavor. It's about considering the perspective of another person and how they might feel about a given situation. As modern,...
    1468 replies | 38569 view(s)
    4 XP
  • uzirath's Avatar
    Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019, 04:50 AM
    I looked up "literature" specifically, rather than "literary." (This was in response to Lanefan's statement: "If it's words on paper, it's literature.") Even for "literary," though, the "esp." qualifier suggests that the term is commonly used in a more selective fashion. It can certainly be used more broadly and often is (as is the word "literature"). My only point is that it's hardly new or...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 11:12 PM
    I completely sympathize with this position when it comes to resisting snooty academics* who might only grudgingly accept Lord of the Rings (for example) as real literature, but the fact is that the word "literature" has been used in a restrictive sense for at least as long as it has been used to mean anything printed. Ye olde OED lists "written work valued for superior or lasting artistic merit"...
    1468 replies | 38569 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 03:12 PM
    Yes. Always! Sure. And, depending on the nature of the fiction, I might let that be... the kobolds will be remembered as hungover dogmen. (Indeed, it may be that the bloodshot eyes were meant to indicate that they were tired or drugged or hungover.) If I felt that it was a misunderstanding that wouldn't likely happen within the fiction, then I would gently provide additional detail: "Hmm,...
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, 03:24 AM
    I'm intrigued by this conflict and how you think it should best be resolved. I am largely sold on the idea that crafting meaningful situations that draw the players in is more central to the activity of RPGs than working on descriptive language and whatnot. With that said, however, fantastic descriptions and unique details are often the things that I, as a player, latch onto and remember....
    1468 replies | 38569 view(s)
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  • uzirath's Avatar
    Saturday, 18th May, 2019, 10:15 PM
    I don't have much experience running store or con games, though I have played in both. I do run a middle-school RPG club where we work hard to be inclusive. Here are a few thoughts in no particular order: Include an inclusivity statement in your blurb. This may be especially inviting to those who have had bad experiences and would be fair warning to those who see such statements as a sign of...
    4 replies | 222 view(s)
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Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour? Wednesday, 12th June, 2019 08:54 PM

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Wednesday, 29th May, 2019

  • 01:47 AM - pemerton mentioned uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    And the author of the OP?What about me? Do you mean, what did I hope to get out of the thread? One's never sure in advance beyond "interesting conversation". But the discussion about storytelling and various modes, driven mostly by Aldarc and hawkeyefan, has been interesting. Hriston and darkbard have helped refine my framing of my point. That's helpful. And also led it in the direction of "advice to GMs", which led to some fruitful discussions with uzirath whom I've not engaged with very much before as a poster. And Manbearcat has pushed with some challenging posts about pacing that I haven't replied to yet. Ultimately, the reason I post on a discussion board is to have discussions.

Friday, 24th May, 2019

  • 05:13 AM - Hussar mentioned uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    That's not what the OP is about. REH isn't high art either, but clearly Tower of the Elephant and The Scarlet Citadel are literary endeavours. Read the recent posts from @hakweyefan or uzirath. Those engage with the theme of the thread. Here a quote from you from a way upthread: Assuming that you haven't changed your mind, then this is something that we disagree about. And it's something that, in the OP, I am denying. ROTFLMAO. Oh, goodie, we're right back to swirling around the rabbit hole of what does "literary" mean. Yay. See, folks, this is why this thread is 50 pages long, and you can talk about pemerton being clear with what he meant all you like, but, this is about as clear as mud. REH is "literary"? Seriously? A minor genre author who wasn't good enough to actually publish a novel and is virtually unheard of outside of genre circles is "literary"? CONAN qualifies as literature? So, until you actually define what you mean by literary, there's no point in this discussion. hawkeyefan or uzirath only "engage with the theme of the thread" because they apparently agree with you. Granted, I have no idea what they are agreeing to, since apparently,...
  • 12:38 AM - pemerton mentioned uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    Nope pemerton. I 100% agree with you. Any earlier disagreement was because of the misleading and vagueness of the OP. If you had simply said, Is RPGing high art?” This thread would be three posts long.That's not what the OP is about. REH isn't high art either, but clearly Tower of the Elephant and The Scarlet Citadel are literary endeavours. Read the recent posts from @hakweyefan or uzirath. Those engage with the theme of the thread. Here a quote from you from a way upthread: Frankly, I see the “performance “ side of dming as just as important as the “framing” side. One without the other leads to bad games.Assuming that you haven't changed your mind, then this is something that we disagree about. And it's something that, in the OP, I am denying.

Friday, 3rd May, 2019

  • 06:52 PM - pemerton mentioned uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    Just to follow up on what darkbard posted - I've found the discussion around the role of performance in RPGing interesting, as clearly there are different views about that. (Hopefully mine are clear.) But in some ways the most interesting response so far has been uzirath's, because of the connection drawn to teaching RPing/GMing. Part of the motivation for the OP was to respond to a trend in GM advice that I've noticed on-and-off for years (decades), and that seemed to be implicit in one or two recent threads, which emphasises the need for GMs to work on their performance skills. Whereas when I have (recently) been GMed by a new referee, the performances were fine (in the sense that sentences were produced without monotone, words were utterly clearly, etc) but the evident real demand on the GM (which he did a good job of meeting, I felt) was to manage situation and consequence. In fact when it came to consequences, he did a better job (I think) than I have done in GMing Burning Wheel, at least in appreciating the full range of consequences the system permits. I've been GMed by GMs who were better thespians, but who could have learned a thing or two from this guy whose GMed a handful of sessions!

Saturday, 27th April, 2019

  • 12:36 PM - pemerton mentioned uzirath in post Good, Evil, Nature, and Druids
    uzirath - my conception of druids for FRGP purposes is heavily shaped by the following passages from the 1st ed AD&D rulebooks (sblocked for space): PHB pp 20-21, 33: [Druids] are the only absolute neutrals . . . . viewing good and evil, law and chaos, as balancing forces of nature which are necessary for the continuation of all things. . . . They hold trees (particularly oak and ash), the sun, and the moon as deities. . . . They have an obligation to protect trees and wild plants, crops, and to a lesser extent, their human followers and animals. . . . The "true" neutral looks upon all other alignments as facets of the system of things. Thus, each aspect - evil and good, chaos and law - of things must be retained in balance to maintain the status quo; for things as they are cannot be improved upon except temporarily, and even then but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were meant to be, provided the "wheel" surrounding the hub of nature does not become unbalanc...

Wednesday, 10th April, 2019

  • 01:04 AM - pemerton mentioned uzirath in post How to deal with death in RPG?
    ...n the scene - off the table. Why should I both to play intelligently if I know I have plot armor? Where's the thrill of victory if my character can't lose? Yeah me too. Although I'm not keen on 'compulsory trivial death' - like the OSR game where I wasn't allowed hirelings & was told I had to put my 3hp Cleric on the front line vs the zombies, who inevitably killed me. I like a chance to survive, especially if I play smart.To make the move from I am putting life and limb on the line to do heroic things to if death is not on the table, I have plot armour and can't lose requires an extra premise - something like if I'm not dead then I'm not defeated. D&D's hp mechanic tends to make that premise true by default, but it's possible to have RPGs which rest on the same heroic premise but don't involve PC death as a significant risk and yet which make it possible for the PCs to lose. Cortex+ Heroic fantasy and Prince Valiant are two examples I've been playing fairly recently. EDIT: uzirath has ninja'd me a bit on some of the above.

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Wednesday, 12th June, 2019

  • 09:11 PM - lowkey13 quoted uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    I think you mentioned teaching to kids before; I have trouble keeping track of all the different elements of this mongo thread! But, I'm glad you're bringing the next generation up to speed too. I agree that all of this is part of it, and I've included similar language in my pitches and budget requests at school. But there are pitfalls if I focus too heavily on performance/dramatic/narrative techniques with students. More on this below. Yeah, it was a weak example. I agree with you that there is a lot more to "literary" (or "theatrical") technique than vocabulary. Sorry to trot that out here again. I used to give new players the same advice that I received as a beginning gamer: model your stories on fiction that you love (whether books, TV shows, movies, plays, etc.). This is not always terrible advice: I still get inspiration from all sorts of fiction. But there are many pitfalls for GMs: railroading, too much exposition, resistance to improvisation, plot armor for antagonists who are "...
  • 08:11 PM - Riley37 quoted uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    people are cutting each other off; etc. The participants in those conversations, however, may not even notice these rhetorical flaws, especially if they are deeply engaged with the content being discussed. "With all those idiots and maniacs on the road, it's a wonder we get anywhere at all!" - George Carlin It's a wonder; and it's humans actively working with each other, in speech just as on the freeways. It's possible for people to work with each other during less-conversational communication. If a DM is trying for a fancy description, and failing, it's often possible for a player to interrupt just long enough to ask a helpful guiding question. DM: "A squamous, amorphous entity inches towards you..." Player: "When you say inching, do you mean moving by extension and retraction, like a slime monster, or do you mean that its movement rate is less than ours?"
  • 07:53 PM - lowkey13 quoted uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    Sure. Yes. My framing, narration, gaming conversation, etc., is probably, by some metrics, more "literary" than someone with less formal education, less experience with public speaking, etc. My point wasn't solely about my experience though. I teach RPGs to children ranging from ages 6-14 (and some older). Many of them do not have well-honed skill with language. Many of them succeed at running (and playing in) awesome games, despite that weakness. I am not arguing that good narration can't help—skillful presentation matters in RPGs as in other mediums—but I've slowly come to accept @pemerton's basic premise that it is not the most significant element. I regularly see GMs with strong language skills struggling to attract players to their tables because they talk too much or only want the story to go their way. For the kids who stick with it, there is much to enjoy: the GMs may write great descriptions, have good voice control, use spooky foreshadowing, etc. But, often, the table nearby, with ...
  • 03:28 PM - lowkey13 quoted uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    I agree with this in terms of writing or public speaking. (I have often worked with students who somehow think that the good idea buried in their grammarless "paragraph" should exonerate them from a low grade.) With gaming, however, I am more forgiving. This ties into the concept of a game being collaborative, more like a conversation than a speech or a piece of writing. In conversations, people are also more forgiving about poor word choice and other delivery flaws. If you've ever suffered the peculiar torture of having to type up recordings of conversations, it's immediately apparent that live conversations are a bloody mess. Grammar is shoddy; vocabulary is used incorrectly; there are awkward pauses and unnecessary repetitions; people are cutting each other off; etc. The participants in those conversations, however, may not even notice these rhetorical flaws, especially if they are deeply engaged with the content being discussed. RPGs are, I think, closer to a conversation in this regar...

Wednesday, 5th June, 2019

  • 03:35 PM - ART! quoted uzirath in post How do you get to GURPS?
    I played in a great DFRPG game last night that highlighted some of the strengths of the GURPS tactical combat system. It was a scene in a bar where we were trying to impress a sea captain who we wanted to book passage with. One of our characters volunteered to engage in a drinking game against a regular, a massive dwarf. Each of them removed any weapons and received a large tankard of ale, filled to the brim. Then they faced off in a makeshift ring, the goal being to cause the other person to spill their beer before you spilled yours. The first empty tankard would lose. It was a remarkably fun scene, with the rest of the players acting as the audience (cheering and jeering) while the PC attempted various maneuvers to cause his opponent to slip up. It was the perfect scenario to drop into the "bullet time" of one-second turns, where every attack and defense mattered, feints were common, and hit locations were vital. The GM required DX checks after every maneuver, with applicable penalties d...

Tuesday, 4th June, 2019

  • 01:30 PM - pemerton quoted uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    World building, while certainly not limited to the literary, is a primarily story telling element. We don't do world building in a conversation. @pemerton talked about how getting a letter from a relative has a viceral element and it's true, it does. But, that's because it's part of the real world and all the context is built right in. In a second world, you need to create that context for the reader, or, in the case of an RPG, the player. And, you create that context through literary conceits like world building. Context is important if you want fictional elements to have emotional resonance. If you're departing from well-known genre territory, you need to build that context into the game so that it becomes familiar. This can be all the GM's job or it can be shared by everyone (collaborative world building).Well this certainly gets to the heart of it, or to the heart of something at least. I see two related questions. (1) Is worldbuilding done, and context established, for the players...

Monday, 3rd June, 2019

  • 11:33 PM - pemerton quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    I am also mindful here of pemerton's reminders that aspects of this are system dependent. I don't have enough experience with some of the games that he references to imagine how this maps to those systems.One example from Marvel Heroic RP/Cortex+ Heroic: if the Doom Pool has 2d12 in it, then the GM can spend those 2d12 to bring the scene to an end. The game will tolerate the GM "winging it" a bit when it comes to spending Doom Pool dice - for instance, the system has a notion of spending dice to introduce an additional threat into a scene, and the relationship between die size and threat capability is a bit flexible. (There are a number of published examples, but they don't necessarily present a fully coherent pattern.( But when it comes to growing the Doom Pool, and spending the 2d12 to end the scene, the GM departing from the rules is a bit of a big deal. Players are meant to be able to make decisions about the risk to their PCs, the degree of threat to the situation, etc, by keeping t...
  • 09:47 AM - pemerton quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    My goal is always to make gameplay about the dynamic story rather than the rules. But I've found that beyond a few basics, most players don't need to fully digest the rules in order to participate in building a collaborative story. Particularly if the genre expectations are understood, then it's just a matter of imagining your character in the fictional circumstances and describing what you'd like them to do. As GM, I can respond rapidly and adjust their sense of the fiction as neededI think this is very system-dependent. Some systems wear their genre on their sleeves and deliver genre-consistent outcomes. Examples I can think of that I've GMed recently: Prince Valiant, Cthulhu Dark). And both respond on good GM fiction-oriented responses and mechanically are relatively light (especially the latter). Some don't, though, and outcomes can depend on mechanical features that don't particularly track genre. I would put many versions of D&D in this category. Traveller also can sometimes be lik...
  • 01:10 AM - Man in the Funny Hat quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    Wow. This is a very high bar! This would filter out any casual players, and I know many experienced gamers who don't know the rules subsystems for things they're not interested in (e.g., someone who loves playing martial characters and doesn't care to learn the spellcasting system). I'm not saying it's wrong, but it's nearly the opposite of my approach as a GM. But, then again, my approach is focused on beginners and people who don't identify as gamers.It doesn't filter out casual players because, as I said, the point is all players are (or should be) entering the game accepting the obvious fact that there are hundreds of pages of rules to the game. They can't just show up week after week after week with no clue how to actually play. They need to read the rules. They need to become familiar with the rules. If they want it that way of not knowing more than a bare minimum of rules (and the GM actually doesn't care) then my perception is that is an intolerably LOW bar. All players should com...

Sunday, 2nd June, 2019

  • 11:28 PM - pemerton quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    I haven't played or read Apocalypse World, though I'm curious to check it out. I have a copy of Dungeon World, but haven't had a chance to play it. As a GM, I'm sure I would try to be on top of the rules too, because that's the way I do things. As a player, though, I have been surprised that I am not really bothered at all when the GM gets things wrong. I'd be happy to play Apocalypse World with a GM who had only had time to read through things once and was going to have to wing it quite a bit. After the session, we could all discuss the places where we got it wrong and I'd be good to give it another go. Unlike some who have posted, I don't care too much about rules consistency across sessions (within reason). I would be more frustrated if the fiction itself wasn't consistent or if the GM seemed to switch up genre expectations randomly.The AW rulebook has examples of "mistakes and corrections" in adjudication. The expectation, as modelled by those examples, is that the GM and players will corr...
  • 03:37 PM - Man in the Funny Hat quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    In the How do you get to GURPS? thread, @DMMike brought up an issue that intrigues me, but strays enough from the topic to deserve its own thread: There are also the players (like me) who will want to know and use the rules without GM assistance, because there's the possibility that the GM says he knows the rules, but doesn't. As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right?As important as it is to the GM that ANY player get all the rules right. Nobody gets a pass on learning the rules. As a player, even if your character is not a spellcaster you should be learning ALL the rules a player should know regarding spellcasting. As a player you don't have to know the GM's side of the game well enough to be the GM, but you damm skippy better be knowing it well enough to appreciate what the GM's job IS, how difficult it can be, and thus be ABLE to appreciate the effort DM's put into it. The point of knowing the rules isn't that the GM must stick to the rules (wheth...
  • 04:05 AM - Immortal Sun quoted uzirath in post Players 'distressed' by gang-rape role-playing game
    I, too, have observed this fixation, even at public store events. Yeah, it was quite disturbing how willing these people were to be public with their "fixations" like they got some kind of extra kick about doing it in public.
  • 02:11 AM - pemerton quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right? <snip> In my experience, when I play with a beginning GM, mistakes and errors don't usually bother me. <snip> If she handles situational modifiers differently than the book, I'm good as long as it doesn't shatter my suspension of disbelief.I think that last sentence makes more sense for an 80s-style game like D&D, RM, GURPS, HERO etc, than for some more modern games. I'm hoping/planning to run Apocalypse World some time soon. It doesn't use situational modifiers. I'll want to be on top of the rules before I run it, because they're pretty carefully designed to yield a particualr experience.

Saturday, 1st June, 2019

  • 09:57 AM - ccs quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right? (shrugs) It depends upon the amount of fun that was being had.

Friday, 31st May, 2019

  • 07:56 PM - Umbran quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right? Not very. I mean, really, that's it. I'm usually not playing games in fiddly-bit hardcore mechanics mode. A rules flub here or there, the occasional lookup, these things don't significantly impact my overall play experience.
  • 05:09 PM - lowkey13 quoted uzirath in post GM's Knowing the Rules
    In the How do you get to GURPS? thread, DMMike brought up an issue that intrigues me, but strays enough from the topic to deserve its own thread: As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right? For the purposes of this thread, I'm setting aside edge case horror stories of awful GMs who play favorites, break rules willy nilly for self-serving reasons, apply wildly different rules to their pet NPCs, etc. In my experience, when I play with a beginning GM, mistakes and errors don't usually bother me. I rarely interrupt play to make corrections—typically only if the GM is asking for help. After the game, I'll sometimes point things out, but usually more to let them know that there may be unexpected implications if they keep running things one way. Other than that, I just figure what the GM says goes. If she handles situational modifiers differently than the book, I'm good as long as it doesn't shatter my suspension of disbelief. Interesting concept fo...
  • 12:01 AM - DMMike quoted uzirath in post How do you get to GURPS?
    If the "fire" in this metaphor is "complex game mechanics," then I would say that my job as GM is akin to being the engineer who manages the ship's boilers. The rest of the crew have different jobs and should enjoy the voyage without getting burned. This is, stated in the rules or otherwise, a GM's job. But I think there's a turning point, when managing the rules FOR the players becomes counter-productive. There are also the players (like me) who will want to know and use the rules without GM assistance, because there's the possibility that the GM says he knows the rules, but doesn't. Still, that's another way to get to GURPS: hold the players' hands until they can make it on their own. I choose the system I want to play because it brings things to the table that other systems do not. It's a false choice to say complex versus simple, because once character creation is out of the way GURPS is no more complex for the player than any other system. The choice of system is what is the Gam...

Tuesday, 28th May, 2019

  • 04:13 PM - Michele quoted uzirath in post How do you get to GURPS?
    ...In response, I just pushed the rules completely into the background. This is still my go-to method. I work with new players to develop a character. If they're into the rules, I let them have free reign. If they aren't, I just ask them questions and build the character that they want to play. During the game, I simply ask people what they want to do and apply the rules that make sense. I always explain the mechanics that I'm applying in a conversational way, and I'll let a player back out of something that the mechanics don't support. Most players begin to learn the rules and end up borrowing or purchasing books themselves, but I don't expect or require this. Some people enjoy learning the details; others just want to enjoy the immersion and don't care about the books. This has been true with both GURPS and D&D (among other games), though I was surprised to find that GURPS, despite its potential complexity, makes it easier for me to keep the rules in the background because it is built on...

Saturday, 25th May, 2019

  • 11:48 PM - Lanefan quoted uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    I always focus on that as job #1 for the GM. But I don't know that I provide much specific advice on how to actually do that beyond the basics ( ... avoid TPK ... ). Side question: since when exactly is it the GM's job to avoid TPK? Avoiding TPK is the players' job. It's the GM's job to ensure that every now and then the players have to do this job.

Thursday, 23rd May, 2019

  • 12:15 PM - pemerton quoted uzirath in post Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?
    The interesting element of this thread, to me, is the notion that helping new GMs craft compelling situations may be more important than helping them craft evocative descriptions or memorable NPCs. <snip> I like evocative descriptions, whether or not they're "core" and whether or not they are "literary" by various definitions. I'm better at helping someone come up with better adjectives or more interesting costumes or neat NPC quirks than I am at helping them with the fundamentals of designing great situations to engage their players. I feel like I approach the idea when I talk to young GMs about the importance of keeping the game fun for everyone. I always focus on that as job #1 for the GM. But I don't know that I provide much specific advice on how to actually do that beyond the basics (spread the spotlight around, keep things moving, give hints when things stall, don't get too hung up on the rules, don't get too hung up on your vision of how the game ought to go, avoid TPK, etc.). ...


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