Friday, December 26, 2014

Character Building: Swords Without Master, Christmas Edition!

First things first, if you haven't played Swords Without Master, you need to. It's a sword-and-sorcery RPG that draws on the roots of the genre, and it's the most evocative game I've played, fantasy or non-fantasy! Here's what you need to know, first and foremost: it's a game of perilous deeds, mighty Rogues, and wondrous adventures. And we're going to create a character for it, a very...special character. After all, it is the Christmas season...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Game Stories: Dungeon World

Surprise! I'm not just talking about board games in this series! As I write up these posts, I know that I don't want to stray from my RPG roots, and those roots are what this post is about. So welcome to Dungeon World, a game about something that I call "pulp fantasy", filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains in a fantastical setting. It's the Powered by the Apocalypse game which is the most widely-known in the RPG community, for good reason--it's a really fun game that riffs off of familiar fantasy adventuring with style.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Game Stories: Friday

Like I said previously, I'm going to be making more Game Stories posts about the big picture of a game. I want to talk about how all the mini-narratives of a game come together to create the overall experience, tying theme and gameplay together. This week, that means talking about Friedemann Friese's Friday, a solitaire game about helping Robinson Crusoe off of the deserted island so that you can get some peace and quiet.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Game Stories: First-Stage Recap

This week, Game Stories changes things up a little.


I've done six posts in the series, talking about the narrative elements of various games, and I think it's time for a bit of a refresher, because I want to move on to some big places here. Today, I'll go back over the first part of the series, summing up what we've learned so far about narrative in games. Then, I'll talk about where I hope to take this series.

Friday, December 5, 2014

At the Table: Edit Your RPG

Today, I'm going to come down with some pragmatic thoughts on roleplaying games. It's a topic that might seem odd to some RPG players: editing. Normally, that's a word you only see in the contexts of filmmaking or the great American novel, but I think it has a place when you're playing at the table. I also think that most groups engage in editing anyway, but they might not realize it. Read on, and you can learn how to use it better!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Game Stories: Betrayed by Turkey

I'd love to say that I just woke up from a massive turkey coma, but the reality is that I was wonderfully and willfully kidnapped for a fantastic weekend with one of my buddies and his extended family. (No, really. There were like 20 people in the house!) I was sorta too busy having a good holiday weekend to get a post out. Ah, well.

Stay tuned next week for another installment of Game Stories!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Game Stories: Shadowrun Crossfire

Magic! Metahumans! Cyber-hacking! Cyber-augments! Well, there's a reason there's a number of fans of the Shadowrun universe. Enough so that it spawned Shadowrun: Crossfire, a cooperative deckbuilding game with a campaign mode attached. You earn Karma points to give your character upgrades; it's really cool, but not the specific element of Crossfire that I'm talking about on this post. This week, I'm talking about the core system of the game, and how it gives a particular character to the obstacles you fight.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Girls Elsewhere (a Heroine RPG Supplement)

Upfront point: massive apologies to Josh, because I said I'd do this review a long time ago. But there's no time like the present to change that! Girls Elsewhere is a supplement to Josh Jordan's storytelling game Heroine, which I reviewed previously on this blog last year. It's a supplement that expands the types of stories that you might tell with Heroine, and it's a wonderful way to broaden your scope of storytelling for the game.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Game Stories: Carcassonne

So sometimes, you get story elements in games because there's distinctive characters, and sometimes it's because there's a particular mood around the table. Those aren't the only ways you can have a sort of story in the game, though. Sometimes, it isn't really about a flow of drama or pulling across specific themes. Sometimes, it's about nonsensically placing tiles on a map until they more or less make a weird world. Welcome to Carcassonne

Friday, November 14, 2014

At the Table: the Order of the Broken Flask

This one's a quick post, mostly to get you to check out an older blog post I just stumbled across. It's part of Quinn Murphy's ongoing New Rules of Fantasy series, which digs into bog-standard fantasy tropes and applies some creative thinking to them. The results are pretty fresh and cool! The post in particular is one about rethinking what it means to have "adventurer" as a profession, and figuring out cool ways to include adventurer professions that make sense. Check it out!

Thoughtcrime Games: On the Road

(And if you're curious, I'm reposting my sample writeup of the Order of the Broken Flask, from the comments section.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Game Stories: Countdowns of DOOM

Tick, tock, tick, tock...

The Doomsday Clock: an ever-popular tool of evil masterminds with nuclear launches impending. Also found alongside self-destruct buttons. It's a little silly, but the principle behind it is rather straightforward, and it's a principle that finds its way into a lot of game designs.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Game Stories: Hanabi

When I talk about games having story elements, I don't just mean having unique characters, like in my previous posts. I don't even necessarily mean an involved narrative. Sometimes, a story element in a game comes from the way it promotes a certain mood around the table. The classic parlor game Werewolf is one simple example of this, but it's not the only one. When it comes to games that use simple mechanics to create a particular mood, few do it as well as Hanabi, a hilariously bewildering game.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Firefly the Roleplaying Game


It's been out for a few months, people have been checking it out and doing things with it, but is the Firefly RPG the game you've been waiting for? Does it have any appeal even if you don't particularly like the show? (Spoiler: yes.) Buckle up; this is gonna move fast. I've got a lot of ground to cover, and I only have one blog post to do it in!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Game Stories: Coup

Brace yourselves, because I'm back with more thoughts and opinions and explorations of another boardgame. Well, card game. But cards are really just tiny boards. Whatever. Bear with me. We've got another game on our list of games that have interesting story-ish things! This time around, it's Coup, a game about deception, lots of backstabbing, and deception. Also, knowing when to lie through your teeth and when to be perfectly innocently truthful.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Game Stories: Marvel Legendary

Whoa, what's this? The blog is back??? Yes, friends, tremble in fear, for I am posting! I may or may not have nailed down what I want to do with this blog, but at least it's improving. Ultimately, I want to talk about all sorts of ways that games involve story and narrative and plot (yes, those words can mean the same thing, but I also think of them as different things...maybe sometime I'll explain). Not just roleplaying games, either, because in some ways...well, boardgames have the leg up on them, in terms of mechanical storytelling. (I promise not to point fingers.)

That's what I'm doing here. Today, I'm talking about some ways that Marvel Legendary tells you a sort of story as you play the game. It's not always the best story, but that doesn't mean you should overlook it. So let's go!