31 July 2019
The word for RPGaDAY2019 Day 2 is: Unique.
Yeah, this one can go in so many directions. What is unique in gaming? There are a lot of ideas and systems and concepts and most of them get re-used and copied and altered and mangled. My friend Ross says good writers borrow, great writers steal. So, when there are so many variations on rules and genres and game worlds where things are borrowed and adapted from game to game, world to world, what is unique?
Thinking on it, I one thing keeps popping up in my head. It's a little book called Primetime Adventures. The version I own is the one on the left. The idea behind Primetime Adventures is to tell a story- any story, in any genre- as if it were a TV series. To this end, there's a very neat mechanic that I have not seen in any other game that I am rather fond of, and have adapted to other RPGs. The idea is that you lay out your game sessions as a season of a show, with a number of episodes determined by the game master. Then each character assigns numbers to each episode that reflect the prominence of their character to that episode. This has two effects- one, the game master focuses on the characters when their high number episodes show up, and two, the character has more cards to play for task resolution in episodes with a higher number. So, to use a Star Trek: TNG analogy, this is how you get the Data episodes and the Worf episodes- those would be the episodes where the players for Data and Worf had assigned their single maximum number for that season. In all other episodes they would have lower numbers, and smaller hands of cards for task resolution.
I found this to be a really neat way to make sure everyone has the spotlight at some point in a game campaign. It might exist in other games, but the only place I've seen it is in Primetime Adventures. So, there's my entry for Unique.
29 July 2019
It's funny that this year's RPGaDAY should begin just as we're considering selling our home in Round Rock, TX to move to Cedar Park, TX. I am known for being a very nostalgic person- particularly when the 80s and gaming are involved. So when I think First in relation to gaming there's a lot of things that pop immediately to mind that happened in the 80s. My first exposure to D&D was the Saturday morning cartoon, if you don't count the brief mention at the beginning of E.T. My first time reading a D&D book was sneaking peeks at the collection of my friend Eric's older brother the year I lived in Florida (1985-86) and then my first actual game during the summer of 1986. In the fall, I spent my money on the first game I ever bought for myself- Palladium's Robotech RPG. But in light of thinking of moving, here's a First that has to do with Round Rock, my home town, the place I used to think I would live for the rest of my life. Raise my kids here. They'd go to my old middle and high schools. Now, it seems, there are a lot of reasons that outweigh nostalgia for moving. But Round Rock will always be the place I consider my hometown, and it will always be the location of so many of my RPG "firsts" in those wonderful years where I had all the time in the world to game before adult concerns took over.
See this home? Thanks to Google Maps I can share this image. See the bedroom window on the right hand side of the picture? Inside that bedroom, late summer 1986, I was handed the Mentzer Expert book to page through while I waited my turn to roll up my first D&D character. As I've blogged before, the illustration of the cleric casting Speak With Dead caught my eye, and I was hooked. A few minutes later I rolled up my first Cleric, and my first character of any kind using the Red Box, and I was off.
I had no idea at that moment that the game I was about to play was going to be such a profound experience. Here I am, 33 years later, and the thing that most people would say defines me is the thing I picked up here, in this home, one summer afternoon with my new friends from Boy Scouts. This is why I identify so much with the kids from Stranger Things- I was their age. This was my experience, too. Just like the kids in E.T. and Cloak & Dagger, I had discovered a new way to express my imagination and bond with my friends.
As a middle-aged parent, I can honestly say I use gaming to teach my kids, my gamer family remain our closest support group and community. My oldest friends are my gamer friends. My closest friends are my gamer friends. This is why I chose the 1980s D&D ampersand for my first tattoo- if you're going to get something permanently inscribed upon your person, it should be something that has deep meaning for you. D&D saved me from being misunderstood by family and ostracized by schoolmates. I found my tribe, and they remain my tribe to this day.
So here's to firsts. And this is where it all began.