Thursday, September 29, 2016

The third set of Owen's questions!

Third installment in Owen KC Stephen's questionnaire.  Link here

21. Do players have a responsibility to the GM or other players to help them have fun? 

Yes.  Gaming is a collaborative effort.  If you want to be selfish or disruptive at my table, I feel no compunction in asking you to leave.  I am not obligated to entertain you, and the party members are not obligated to either.

22. If you knew an action your character was about to take would upset the GM or another player (not an NPC or PC, but the actual people at the table), and not taking that action would be out of character, would you still have your character act that way? Would you discuss the action with the people you thought it would upset, either before of after taking it.

That is a tough call.  I do believe in being true to a character.  However, it can be discussed beforehand.  There shouldn't be any 'surprises' with how you are acting.  A good GM should predict how events will transpire with the PCs as they are played.  Trying to avoid conflicts that will cause player to player conflict is part of the GM's role.

 23. If you like the idea of a campaign of evil characters, discuss reasons players in general might not enjoy such a game. If you dislike the idea of a campaign of evil characters, discuss reasons players in general might find such a game fun.

I like the idea of playing evil characters, but I can see why some wouldn't.  It takes a special brand of roleplayer to pull it off, especially because an evil party can disintegrate into a backstabbingfest quite easily.  There's too much chance of feeling being hurt, or boundaries being crossed.  Many people don't enjoy even imaginary descriptions of heinous acts.  You have to take the sensibilities of your group into consideration.  Personally I think you could paly an evil campaign if there was an external threat of pressure that could keep the party members allied in adversity.  Neil Litherland discusses a situation like this >here<.

24. Paper or plastic? Now defend the answer as a heroic champion of all that is good and right. Now answer as a conniving scoundrel. Now answer as a master scholar. Now answer as a violent antisocial psychopath. Explain why you answered as you did in those personas.


Champion:  Plastic is a scourge on our planet!  We must band together to rid ourselves of this heinous pollutant!

Scoundrel: WHy use those flimsy plastic rags?  Paper bags are sturdy, fashioned of natural products, and will do a better job!  Plastic is old hat, and a useless product.

Master scholar:  Studies show that plastic remains in the biosphere for over 500 years.  Paper is biodegradable.  Plastic also threatens wildlife with strangulation and accidental ingestion.

Psychopath:  You want to use plastic?  How would you like it if I wrapped that plastic bag around your head and strangled your worthless ass?  Not so keen on it now, are you scumbag?

25. If a player consistently and definitely has worse luck than any other player or the GM, and that makes the game less fun for them, should the GM or other players make any special rules to compensate for that player’s unluck?

Ohter than buy him some new dice, no.  That sets up a feeling of unfairness and a lack of impartiality.

26. If you knew another player was cheating, and it didn’t seem to impact the enjoyment anyone else was having, how would you handle that?

I would take them aside alone and discuss it.  I would note that cheating cheapens any success, and that if caught no one would trust them again and every critical they rolled, fair or no from that point on would be suspect.

27. If you knew the GM was altering die rolls or NPC statistics, how would you handle that? 

That would depend.  If the GM was trying to smooth the narrative I wouldn't have an issue.  If he was Mary-Sueing an NPC to keep them from being beaten, or trying to 'punish' a PC with some manufactured bad luck, that's another story all together.

28. If you found the out-of-character actions of another player was making the game not enjoyable for you, how would you handle that? What if it was the GM? How would you like other players or the GM to handle the situation if you are the one making a game unfun for someone else?

I'd bring it up to them.  If they persisted, I would no longer play with them.  Player and/or GM. Life is too short to have a bad time when you are trying to have a good time.  I'll go read a book or watch a TV show instead.  If I was doing it I would hope it would be brought to my attention.  Because it wouldn't be on purpose, and I would change the action.

29. If you found a character concept or the actions of another player’s character was making the game not enjoyable for you, how would you handle that? What if it was the GM and an NPC? How would you like other players or the GM to handle the situation if your character is the one making a game unfun for someone else?

I think I would handle this exactly as I had question 28.

30. Name one gaming-related pet peeve of yours that you admit is unreasonable.

I don't like gnomes.  I am also not a fan of the 'jokey' player, who breaks the fourth wall, or has his character quote movies and do anachronistic things.  It just irks me.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Next set of questions from Owen KC Stephens

Another set of interesting questions from the mind of Owen KC Stephens.Link Here

11-20 Hidden Genre Preferences

It’s easy to talk about our favorite movies and television programs, but there’s some useful information in other things we like as well.
  1. What is your favorite Saturday Morning Cartoon? What is your favorite animation you don’t consider a Saturday Morning Cartoon?
I grew up during the Golden Age of Saturday Morning cartoons.  My favorite hands down was Thundarr the Barbarian.  I got my love of the post-apocalyptic genre from that show.  I would say that these days I like Archer  or Rick and Morty.

12. What is your favorite commercial?

Hmm.. Tough one.  I'm not a big commercial guy, but you can't really go wrong with the Superbowl commercials.

13. What is your favorite book cover (fiction or nonfiction)?

The Years of Rice and Salt.  Also a kick-ass book. 

14. What is your favorite toy?

Growing up, my Legos.  They were just generic blocks back then, no kits, but I made a zillion things from them.

15. What is your favorite television show or movie that you think is objectively bad?

Hmm.  I have a taste for bad TV and movies. The Six-Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman,   most of the 50's horror films (including SciFi).
 16. What is your favorite book series with 6 or more books in it?

Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series.  He brings America from a Southern Victory all the way through to a bizarre alternate WWII with the USA and CSA at each other's throats the whole way. Eleven books in that series.

17. What is your favorite story (book, TV, movie, or otherwise) that you hate the ending to? What ending would you have preferred?

I didn't like the way Whedon wrapped up Firefly in the movie Serenity.  It felt kind of wrong to me.

18. What story (book, TV, movie, or otherwise) did you love when you were younger, but have since come to dislike? Why do you think your opinion changed?

I enjoyed the Hardy Boys when I was younger, but I tried rereading one of them a few years ago and found the stories very lame, even for a 'children's' series.  I think I just cant get past the writing.  It is really bad.

19. What RPG that you hate the rules for do you most love the setting of?

Vampire the Masquerade.  The setting is fantastic, but the rules are very hard to work with.  Of course the game is meant to be more roleplaying than anything else, but you do want to have a good firefight once in a while ..

20. What RPG that you hate the setting of do you most love the rules for?

I love Pathfinder, but I don't like their default world of Golarion.  It's a real 'kitchen sink' setting, with funhouse-mirror societies of Earth dotting the landscape.  It lacks verisimilitude IMO.

Owen KC Stephens' questions for your RPG group

Since I am having a bit of writers cramp right now, I thought I would answer some questions posed by one of my favorite game designers, Owen KC Stephens:  Link here

100 Questions for Your RPG Group
These questions are designed not to lead anyone to the “one true path to roleplaying,” nor even to find and excise undesirables. Instead, they are tools of conversation. Hopefully they’ll help members of an RPG group discuss some philosophy, some game theory, and some silly shit.
These are best handled in person, while feeling casual, likely with beer and pizza (or the age & culturally appropriate equivalent).
1-10; GMing
#1. Would you prefer a GM be entirely beholden to the game rules and die rolls, or secretly make changes if it leads to a more interesting, or more dramatic, or more fulfilling game session?  
Definitely the latter.  The dice are a harsh mistress.  Sometimes, an encounter can go pear shaped.  Also, sometimes an encounter is just too tough/not tough enough for the party.  I think a good GM should tweak the game as they go.  There is a fine line though.  If you meddle too much then it takes the excitement out of things.  A subtle deft touch when secretly changing things is the best way IMO.
#2. Give one concrete example of when a GM fudging die rolls or rules might lead to a more interesting, or more dramatic, or more fulfilling game session?
When the party is teetering on the edge of a TPK, and one of them manages a solid hit on the BBEG just before it is up again.  The hit might not have finished it off, maybe it has a few HP left.  However, if it goes again people are dying.  Fudging it so that last hit was the coup de grace makes for a cool conclusion and avoids all the added anger and stress party deaths bring.
#3. Does it make a difference to your preference if the GM is entirely open about making changes? What if the GM can hide any change so you never even suspect it?
I think it is better that the GM doesn't reveal any changes.  That's part of the mystery of the game.  If players get the idea that they can get away with stuff it makes them reckless.  Better to just keep it behind the curtain as it were.
#4. Do you consider altering NPC attitudes or personalities from their originally planned starting points, or changing the plot of a future game session based on interesting ideas that come up in play, to be GM fudging, or just normal GM activities, or both?
I think that is just normal GM activities.  I try to run NPCs as if they were real people.  Real people change, they have epiphanies, they suffer trauma.  Games should also be organic and change with player's actions.
#5. Should a GM be able to veto the color of a PC’s eyes? Or is that none of the GM’s business?
Tough question.  SHOULD a GM have the right to?  Probably yes.  It is their world.  SHOULD they just because?  Well, you have to remember that the players are playing to have fun, not to be props in your homebrew world.  A good GM works with his players.  Telling players no, especially on minor things like eye color is a good way not to have players.  Or at least to have disgruntled players who will defect to another table when the opportunity arises.
#6. Is the GM a player in an RPG session?
NO.. Flat out NO.  The GM is the GM.  They have a term for GM's who play PCs in their own game.  It's called "Mary-Sueing".  This holds for making old PCs from other games into NPCs.  Unless you can be objective, these NPC/PCs often start to have godlike powers and immunity to things.  And they are just cheezy.
#7. Should the GM roll dice in secret, roll dice in public view, or roll dice with varying secrecy as appropriate to the nature of the roll?
I like a mixture.  Some rolls I don't mind sharing.  Some need to be secret.
#8. Is being the GM a chore, or a privilege?
It's a chore that is a privilege.  There is nothing like the satisfaction of running a good game, one that people will talk about for years.  However, it is a lot of work.
#9. How much of the success of an RPG session is determined by the quality and actions of the GM? Would you prefer an awesome RPG ruleset with an awesome adventure and awesome other players run by a mediocre GM; or a mediocre RPG ruleset with a mediocre adventure and mediocre other players under an awesome GM?
The GM makes the game.  The best rules in the world mean nothing when the GM sucks.  I've seen this time and again.
#10. What is your pet peeve about GMs, expressed in a way that makes it generic and impossible to connect to any one specific GM?
Pet peeves:  Mary-Sueing (see above), revenge playing (where you 'punish' a PC because they did something you didn't like), railroading (sometimes it sucks when the players go off script, but you have to roll with the punches)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A bit of a desertion

Well, I have not graced this blog in a month.  There have been good reasons for this, mostly that I was on vacation to Cape Breton for a large part of August and then I began a new job, and the balance of September has been involved in training. Also, school is back in session, so I have been working on getting that elusive paralegal certificate. But, for those who might be following along, I will be attempting to get back on track with my writing now that I am more settled.