Sunday, 22 January 2017

More on DramaAspects

I recently backed Ben Robbins’ collaborative story game Follow, and I was delighted to see that he uses the same “I need, but you won’t give me…” approach to inter-character drama that I’ve been using for DramaAspects (and wrote about here).

It’s interesting that Robbins’ uses “need” rather than “want” (which is from Hillfolk). I much prefer “need” as it’s stronger.

Follow also contains many more examples of needs, which I’ve harvested and will use as examples for my Fate games. The main lesson I’ve learned from Follow is to be more specific, though

Here’s my new list:

I need, but you won’t give me...

  • You to admit I’m: the better swordsman (pilot/sniper/sailor/leader…)/braver/the better warrior/a hero of legend...
  • Your respect as an artist/spouse/parent/swordsman...
  • Your support to: to put me in charge/get my agenda followed/convince others of something...
  • You to admit you were wrong about: strategy/a previous campaign/a colleague...
  • You to ask your friends/connections to: donate/provide support/provide information...
  • You to treat me as an equal.
  • A promotion/more responsibility. Put me in charge of fighting/food/repairs/navigation...
  • You to swear me in as a knight/priest/apprentice/retainer....
  • You to pardon me for past crimes/dishonors
  • You to do as you’re told/follow my orders.
  • Your protection. Keep me out of danger.
  • You to let me protect you.
  • You to renounce violence/pacificism/our traditions/your religion
  • You to embrace violence/pacificism/our traditions/my religion
  • Special treatment. More (money/food/protection/status) for me and my people.
  • A legal pardon for past misdeeds (what did you do?)
  • To know the truth about: why you volunteered/a previous mission/your background/my father/what happened that night...
  • You to trust me/tell what you’re planning/rely on me.
  • You to trust me: with your secret/to handle dangerous situations/to lead an attack/to pilot the ship...
  • You to stop: telling me what to do/thinking you know what’s best/protecting me...
  • You to teach me to: act/sing/pick up dates/control my powers/fight crime/be a leader/shoot/ride/be tough/not be afraid...
  • You to forgive me for: accidentally destroying property/letting a criminal get away/cheating you/stealing your true love/leaving you for dead/my mistake/giving you a scar/betraying you/leaving you behind/ratting you out/an act of violence/an act of cowardice/collaborating...
  • Your love/be my partner/be my best friend/get over me/marry me/divorce me/have my child.

Follow includes a need that I don’t like - and that’s revenge. “I need, but you won’t give me, revenge on you for…” doesn’t quite work for me as I don’t see how you can stop me from taking revenge on you. I think that’s better done as forgiveness - I’ve done something terrible and I need you to forgive me.

I’ve not played Follow yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Bundle of Holding

Sometimes, I forget I have a games company.

I run Freeform Games with Mo Holkar. We publish murder mystery games - but they’re actually larps in disguise. Our target market is ordinary people rather than gamers, so we don’t tell them that they’re roleplaying or larping.

Our games don’t involve polyhedral dice (or dice of any sort) or complex rules. Most of them are set in the real world. We do have a small number of games with magic in them, but our games don’t have elves or spaceships or vampires. (Yet - you never know.)

So when I’m hanging out at Continuum or Furnace and chatting to people like Dr Mitch, Graham W, Graham Spearing, Paul Baldowski and the many others forging their creative path in tabletop roleplaying, I sometimes feel a bit inadequate.

So please forgive me for being dead chuffed that the prestigious Bundle of Holding is currently running a murder party bundle featuring eight of our games!

As I type this, we’re only a few days in and already we’ve raised nearly $9,000 and sold over 280 bundles. Woo hoo!

We have no idea how this will impact on our regular sales, but given that our target market doesn’t really know what Bundle of Holding is, and two of our most popular games aren’t included in the bundle, then I’m hoping it won’t have a disastrous impact.

It might even be good for us as a new bunch of gamers discover a way to introduce their non-gamer friends into this glorious hobby.

1000+ person hours of fun

Marcus Rowland writes about our Bundle of Holding offer here.

I like the bit where Marcus notes that there's 1000+ person hours of fun in the package. (I think he's exaggerated slightly - at my estimate, assuming each game is full and entertains everyone for three hours, then you've got over 450 hours of person entertainment. But why quibble?)

He picks up on something I noticed on the main Bundle of Holding page - and that's the comment about printing lots of pages.

Well, I suppose so.

But it's possible I've just become used to printing out lots of paper - it's what these games do.

I don't remember any complaints about paper use from our customers. So perhaps that's just gamers.

Not very “polished”

Here’s a mildly enthusiastic discussion about the the murder party Bundle of Holding.

The comment about our games not being “most polished” is fair, but that’s because we’re aiming for the “readable by people with bad eyesight in dim lighting” look. Which isn’t a jazzy look compared to a modern full-colour RPG. (But then I think most RPG designs are, graphically, a mess. I prefer clean and simple for my RPG design.)

Each to their own - although I admit we could probably do with better covers.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

2016 in games

It appears that I am unable to refuse the seductive lure of reflecting on the past, so here is my 2016 in games. Along with a few plans for 2017.

Larp: 2016 was okay for me in terms of larp. Here’s what I ran/played/published:
  • I co-ran Once Upon a Time in Tombstone.
  • At Peaky I co-wrote Ex Nihilo (the new game for ReGenesis), played Trenches and Miss Maypole and the Case of the Missing Admiral.
  • Played Disaster! at Continuum.
  • Published Venice and Mars Attracts using a creative commons licence.
  • Started work on getting Sword Day ready for publication.
  • Started work on a collection of Peaky freeform larps.

Writing at Peaky 2016
The one thing I wish I’d done was run a freeform larp in Leeds or York, so that’s something I want to try and do in 2017, perhaps linked to GoPlayLeeds.

My other larp plans for 2017 are to get Sword Day published, which requires some help from the original authors, and finish the collection of Peaky freeforms (I’d like to include Sword Day in that, so these are linked)

Freeform Games: I’ve written about Freeform Games’ 2016 on the FFG blog, so no need to repeat that. My biggest job in 2017 is likely to be getting The Reality is Murder into shape.

Playing Pandemic: The Cure
Board Games: According to my boardgamegeek log, I played 208 board games in 2016. To my surprise, the game I’ve played most has been Rummikub, which I first played at Mum’s back at Easter and was such a hit with the family that we bought a copy as well. X-Wing was a close second (boosted by several solo games).

I didn’t play any Cosmic Encounter in 2016, so I will try and fix that in 2017. I also have an unopened copy of Pandemic Legacy, and I need to find someone to play that with. (Mrs H is ambivalent about Pandemic and doesn’t want to commit to it.)

Playing Monsterhearts
at Continuum
Tabletop RPGs: I played more tabletop roleplaying in 2016 than I have in a long time. That’s thanks to a semi-regular Google Hangouts group, GoPlayLeeds, Continuum and Furnace. One thing I haven’t done is more roleplaying with Megan, which I’d like to change (as she enjoys it very much).

I’ve also ran some scenarios - the first time I’ve run anything serious in a long, long time. I ran The Crasta Demon (Fate Accelerated) twice (once at Furnace and once online), and I ran In Whom We Trust (Call of Cthulhu) at Continuum. I also facilitated an online game of Microscope.

In 2017 I want to run more games (or at least run no fewer) - and I’d like to run something at GoPlayLeeds. I’ve also started preparing a London-based urban fantasy scenario using Fate Accelerated, which I will finish and run in 2017. I also want to get a bit further with my plans for an Orkney Neolithic game (so that probably means writing a scenario).

Tales of Terror: At the start of 2016 I restarted republishing Tales of Terror using Blogger. So far I’ve published 41 (which means it will be five or six years before I’ve got all the old tales uploaded). The nice thing about Blogger is that it’s easy to label the Tales, so that if you just want to see all the Tales involving, say, witches, you can do just that.

Even better, I wrote four completely new Tales of Terror: The Gibbet Frame, The Tower on Dulas Island, Gargoyle's Watch, and Homunculi. I think I did a really good job with The Gibbet Frame and Homunculi.

I will continue with Tales of Terror in 2017, and I might even see if I can create a print-on-demand collection using Lulu and/or Createspace. We’ll see how much time I get.

Videogames: On my tablet I’ve mostly been playing World of Tanks Blitz (which I find a bit too addictive, and reminds me why I stopped playing computer games), Star Realms, and Ticket to Ride.

I tried playing Sorcery #3 (Inkle’s highly praised version of the legendary Steve Jackson gamebook), but found it much too irritating. I quite liked the first two episodes, but I found #3’s sheer size and randomness a bit too much. I haven’t tried Sorcery #4, and I don’t know if I will.

I suspect 2017 will find me playing more World of Tanks Blitz, as I’m still addicted to it.

Garrison Hotel - home to
Games weekends: Games weekends in 2016 included: Co-running Once Upon A Time in Tombstone in Retford), Peaky, Continuum, and Furnace.

2017 should see me at Across the Universe (another weekend long freeform), Airecon (where I hope to run something), Peaky, and Furnace.

Other numbers: I read 67 books in 2016, 38 of them fiction. Yes, that’s more than one a week - but I’m counting audiobooks in that (that I listen to in the car and whilst doing chores). Favourites included: The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. Black Box Thinking: The Truth about Success by Matthew Syed. The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F Hamilton.

That’s my usual mix of business books and science-fiction/fantasy with a little bit of gentle humour thrown in. I don’t read too many RPG books (I tend to treat them as reference books and dip into them here and there rather than read them cover-to-cover, which is how I track my books), which is why there aren’t many listed here.

2017 will no doubt continue the trend - I’ve read/listened to two books already.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Jurassic World: disrespecting dinosaurs.

So I’ve finally seen Jurassic World, and I’m disappointed in how they treated the dinosaurs. I’ve always liked dinosaurs, and what I really liked about the first two Jurassic Park movies was that they treated the dinosaurs with respect. In those movies the dinosaurs behaved how I would expect such creatures to behave.

The rot started in Jurassic Park 3. First the pterosaurs - there was no way they could carry off the humans, and even if they could, why would they? Surely they’d be interested in easier prey? Such as fish? And why did the spinosaurus chase everyone all over the island? And why were the raptors so precious over a single egg taken from one of several nests, each full of eggs? When animals lay that number of eggs, they don’t expect them all to survive - so it made no sense for them to get all sentimental over a single egg.

(This article has more to say on the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park 3.)

Jurassic World again disrespects the dinosaurs. Why did the pterosaurs and pterodactyls attack the humans? Why didn’t they just fly off? In fact, why did they bother to leave the aviary at all, given that presumably it was safe and full of food?

I didn’t mind that the Jurassic World dinosaurs didn’t have feathers - they kind of covered that and hinted that they bred them to look like everyone expects dinosaurs to look like. (But maybe one day soon we’ll have a movie with feathered dinosaurs.)

I didn’t mind the trained raptors and the impressive (but over-sized) Mosasaur, and the Indominus Rex wasn’t dreadful, but why did it kill all those apatosauruses? For sport?

Mind you, Jurassic World didn’t treat the humans with much more respect. Surely a basic risk assessment would have the park equipped with tranquilliser guns powerful enough to penetrate dinosaur hide? And if you’re going to fit your raptors with head-cams, wouldn’t you also include a tranquilliser in case they turn on you?

So, bah. Some nice moments but mostly a disappointment.