Weekly Gaming News Redcap

Hello, Dear Readers, and welcome to our new weekly roundup of interesting tidbits from around the gaming world, and especially in the under-served communities, by attempting to highlight those stories. This week we have a couple of links to stories on new role-playing games for kids, so those of  you looking to get the family into gaming take heed!

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And finally, you can help us keep abreast of the latest news in the gaming world. We would love if you would send us any relevant links or information you might stumble upon, especially where it relates to women, families, and the LGBT communities. Thanks so much!

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The Importance of Tabletop

Today, I am going to write a rousing article today about the importance of tabletop gaming. I could simply tell you that nothing beats a night of gaming with your friends and family. That’s more than enough of an argument. No elaboration needed. But what kind of fun would that be? Let me take you on a trip down memory lane…

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When I was young, I was admittedly a video game junkie. I spent my days holed up in my room with my controller in hand and snacks nearby. Loud digital noises assailed my ears, bright pixels assaulted my eyes. And life was good. It was a solitary one though.

Jump ahead to high school, where I picked up Magic the Gathering. I found that there was a certain magic (forgive the pun) that came from spending my time in the school foyer playing with other social outcasts. (Magic was very much a niche thing back then.) It  was the gateway to a lifetime of tabletop experiences.

In college a certain little anime known as Dragonball Z was a big deal. This was the Toonami era. Students of all kinds stuffed themselves into lounges to watch the next exciting installment, and we usually hung around to talk about it afterwards. So, you can imagine my excitement when I visited a local game store down the street from campus, and found that they had a Dragonball Z role-playing game! I had never run an RPG before, but I figured that it would be time to learn. We got a group together and had a blast. And that was it. Tabletop gaming was now a passion rather than a hobby.

I still take time to play, as often as I can. Every week, my friends and I get together, head out to fill our bellies with local Kent cuisine, (Have you ever had a slice of Ramella’s pizza?) and we settle in for a night of gaming. We typically cycle through Dungeons and Dragons one week, and Scion the next, with a smattering of board games for good measure. It’s the thing I look forward to the most every week.

Why? Because there’s something just flat out magical about tabletop gaming, something you just can’t get from a video game or anything else. A group of people playing a board game aren’t just playing, they’re in a battle of wits. Resources are bought and sold, territories are conquered, and deals are made. It brings out our ruthless sides, as well as our benevolent sides. We eliminate our rivals, or we work together to defeat a malicious threat.

Togetherness is the point.  It’s all about being there, in the moment with your hearty band of adventurers. It’s about looking around the table and wondering which of your friends is going to go turncoat and knock you out of the game. It’s about an experience you just can’t get with a headset and an Xbox live account.

As long as there are people who want to play together, to have fun together, and maybe throw down some dice (together!), there will always be a place in the world for tabletop games.

Tales of Epic Gaming!

If you’re anything like us, your roleplaying adventures are full of some crazy and epic moments. I’ve been roleplaying for a long time, with so many different gamers, and we have so many epic memories of those games, some of which I’d like to share with you all. So sit back, and prepare yourself for ten of the most awesomely epic things we’ve experienced!

 

1.) Tanks for Everything!

Game: Dark Heresy, the Warhammer 40k roleplaying game by Fantasy Flight

IN THE GRIM DARKNESS OF THE FAR FUTURE THERE IS ONLY WAR. And that is the best way to describe the Warhammer universe. In Dark Heresy, Inquisitors roam the regions of space with their retinues, seeking out heresy and putting a stop to it, usually with lots of death. 

Our retinue found itself in the city on a desert world, with only our wits and sidearms. A lengthy investigation put us after the bad guy, a smuggler in leagues with some bad bad monsters. We found ourselves in pursuit in a commandeered tank, when a squad of Chaos Space Marine Terminators teleported in to kill us dead. We had no chance against these guys, so we did the only thing that made sense: We ran them down with our tank, and kept going. Yep, hit & run action at its finest!

2.) Drink it off

Game: Exalted, the game of awesome demigodlike powers by White Wolf

Our Exalted circle finds itself roaming through a dank sewer system, trying to sneak their way into a city. The slog is uneventful, until the group finds the exit guarded by a massive monster called a Spine Chain. This monster is a gigantic skeleton centipede, made up of the torsos of dozens of skeletons, and armed with a huge rusty blade. Acacia, the group’s fighter, leaps into the action, wearing down and finally defeating it. But in the action, the rusty blade managed to gravely wound her, nearly bifurcating her. Hanging on by mere skin and tissue, she climbs the dead monster like a ladder, leading her group to daylight. The first things she does afterwards? Heads to the local tavern to get drunk, ignoring her wounds completely. 

3.) Just Look Up

Game: Blue Rose, the game of romantic fantasy by Green Ronin

On an epic quest, our characters find themselves in a temple. They began to search it, looking for clues. But their patience wears thin as no clues present themselves. So they began to wreck the place. Smash everything, hope something turns up. This goes on for a while until the GM simply asks the group if they thought to look up. They do, and what they seek is scrawled all over the ceiling. Fail. 

4.) Tickle Tickle!

Game: World of Darkness Innocents, a game of childhood gone wrong by White Wolf

A group of children wake up in a room decorated with various christmas decorations. They each find a gift under the tree, ranging from BB guns to iPhones. The room opens up into a creepy old mansion in terrible shape. They explore the mansion, and eventually run afoul of a terrifying monster known as the Krampus. Krampus hunts them down as they scramble to hide, and all seems well. 

But one of the children, who is a mite irresponsible, decides to play a game on his cell phone while in hiding. The noises from the game alert Krampus quickly. 

Later on, the group meets a creepy old man, the owner of the mansion. The Krampus turned out to be a hired goon in a suit. One of the kids threatens the old man with a shovel full of hot coals. Our irresponsible young friend intervenes, tickling the coal wielding child. The coal is dropped, and the room, then mansion, go up in flames. 

5.) Scion: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

Game: Scion, the game of epic legends and gods, and the best game ever, by White Wolf

I can’t nail down just one epic moment in Scion, but I can share a few! Our current game sees our group trying to prevent Ragnarok from happening, and has been one amazing and wild ride that I’ll be sad to see end. Here are some of the things we’ve seen and done!

-Create a Loki Robot
-Beat up Hod, the blind Norse god. 
-Brough Baldur back to life
-Toss a pair of gods into outer space and Helheim
-One of our ranks became a living realm of flesh and pestilence!
-Actively Participate in Ragnarok 
-Piss off the Midgard Serpent, then blind it
-Take down Surtr
-Climbed into Fenris’ mouth, which is a portal to the Titan Realm of Fate 
-Had our minds transported into the future offspring of our characters, and kill an Aztec God. 
-Try to use scraps of leather on EVERYTHING.              

 

I ran a game a few years back, and here are a couple of highlights:                                                                                                          -Had a character jump rooftops and run up the side of buildings to beat a sniper to death with a fire extinguisher                                  -Same character had an anti-gravity dance-off against Baron Samedi                                                                                                      -Decapitated an Owl demon with a manhole cover                                                                                                                                      -Create a godrealm/workshop on a speeding comet                                                                                                                                  -Held an Enchantment Under the Sea dance for a lonely goddess 

And many more!

6.) Itzacoatl

Game: Scion, yet again

I would love to tell you what exactly makes Itzacoatl so epic, for good or ill. A demigod Cult Leader and deviant turned Aztec god of pestilence, 99% of his actions are the stuff of the most horrifying subject matter to date. Take every serial killer in history. He’s worse. Think of every deviant act ever recorded. He’s done them and more. Brainwash people into entering his “Carnarium”? Check. Put disease into people’s drinks? Check. Have a terrifying and mind scarring rendevous with a poor poor Sea Captain? Check and Mate. He’s epic for all the good and bad reasons, and I would be remiss not to mention him here. 

 

7.) Sunset on Saint Paul 

Game: World of Darkness

The sun shines over Saint Paul, Minnesota. A little too closely and a little too brightly. And it gets closer. And then BOOM. The city is engulfed in a massive burning death explosion, killing everyone who wasn’t smart enough to run. And if you think running will save you, the Mages behind the explosion are roaming the borders of the city to mop up survivors.

8.) Game of Thrones

Game: Exalted! 

Our intrepid Exalted circle has healed up, and gotten back to normal after their sewer encounter. They meet the big enemy bad in his palace, and their attacks are completely unable to scratch his armor. A stray flaming arrow strikes his throne, setting it ablaze. And the group’s weakest member 

9.) The Confessions of Nathaniel Dickens

Game: World of Darkness

One of the players in our World of Darkness game keeps a blog from his character’s perspective. It’s a spine chilling read, and worth your time. (Fair warning, it’s very graphic, so please keep that in mind.) 

http://theconfessionsofnathandickens.tumblr.com/

10.) Time Keeps on Slipping

Game: World of Darkness

A Radio DJ, her Tech Guy, and their Manager take a van trip to another city to transport an autographed guitar. 

Then all hell breaks loose. The van is attacked by a huge mothlike creature. It offroads their van, and the group is forced to seek shelter in a nearby small town, one that seems to be straight out of the 1940’s. The group is attacked by a homeless man, or rather, a homeless man floating inches off the ground. A blue glow emits from his eyes and mouth, and music from the 40’s comes from his mouth like a radio. And things only get weirder from there. The DJ wakes up later surrounded by colonial townspeople and a wicked preacher with an axe that wants to behead her for being a witch. A mysterious man in a white suit gives cryptic clues. Time seems to be shifting all over the place. The mothlike creature that assaulted them is the manager, from the future. The man in the white suit? The Tech Guy from the future. And the center of it all is an experiment in a government facility. At the end of the story, the DJ guns down her crew, and everything shifts back to the van ride, as if nothing ever happened. 

This was a tale run by our resident Storyteller, Jason (Who is trying to get a Hunter: The Vigil group together at Gaming Grounds on saturdays hinhint) and is full of creepy, mysterious, and epic events, and was one wild ride that was incredibly memorable

 

Things NOT to do in a Roleplaying Group

I talked about the coll ways to get into the game last time, and it was glorious.

But now, it’s time to ramp up our game, and talk about the dark side of roleplaying. The things you’ll want to avoid if you want your game to go well. It’s time to delve into….

Things to avoid when roleplaying!

We’ve all seen it, Mary Sue charactes, cruel DMs, railroading, and all sorts of awful things. And you’ve probably read tons of articles on this kind of thing before, but now its time to read mine. You poor unfortunate souls. :p

Okay! Let’s take my disjointed writing style and go!

UNDERSTAND YOUR SETTING! 

This is kind of the flipside to what I mentioned last time. I told you the best way to go is to get a handle on the setting you’re playing in, because it helps immersion. What completely ruins immersion however, is players who just don’t get what they’re playing in. Are you playing a game where you’re gods? Cool. Remember that. Remember your power level when doing mundane things. Don’t talk in modern slang when you exist in an era or place where it doesn’t exist. No, you can’t do that dungeon crawl with a GPS system. We’re in a fantasy setting. No, you can’t shoot a man with a sniper rifle that doesn’t exist.  Immersion just crumbles when this kind of thing happens, and your fellow players won’t care much for it. (Unless they think its hilarious, then cool.)

DON’T BE A MARY SUE! 

We all know what a Mary Sue is. And for those of us who don’t, it’s essentially the world’s worst character. They’ll always be related to the most important characters in the story, or somehow related to characters that don’t even exist in your world.

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They’re always super powerful, NPCs are in love with them, they’re beautiful and talented, probably have a katana, and might be able to shapeshift. The list goes on. Major story events MUST revolve around them, and they must be special snowflakes in a universe of already outstanding individuals. They have family members that are SUPER important, and must be brought up in game frequently, and used as plot devices WHENEVER POSSIBLE. By the way, did I mention they’re masters of art, song, dance, and every other mundane skill in the world?

Yeah, don’t do that. EVER. And don’t allow it in your game either. You’ll regret it forever.

MINUTIA IS BAD

Now this is where other GMs might disagree with me, but I find excessive amounts of minutia in game to be a major drawback. Rolling dice for every tiny thing ever gets INCREDIBLY frustrating and time consuming. Your character isn’t a vegetable. He can eat, bathe, and sleep with a chance die’s help. If he can’t, I worry about his capacity as a sentient being. Ditto for opening doors, picking up objects, and other mundane tasks. If a man has a strength of 10, and an epic strength of 10, don’t make him roll a die to flip a table. Dude can handle it. Really. I like to look at stats as more a level of competence than a number to roll. It makes games go smoothly if we all know what we CAN do. (Unless of course its a more difficult task, like resisting poisons, opening a castle gate, that kind of thing.) Detail is good. Detailed tasks and descriptions are awesome, minutia is not.

MIN-MAXING

Here is a point of contention for some gamers. Min-Maxing is basically the practice of maximizing your character’s stats and abilities, by getting rid of numbers and powers you won’t need. Who needs a high intellect when you need strength? Not the mightiest warrior in the galaxy!

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Well, whether or not this is a good thing is up to the game in question. If you’re playing a hardcore dungeon crawl, or a game where death is around every corner, maybe it’s beneficial, if you’re playing a story oriented game, it might be a bad idea, especially if it takes away from your character as a person. But again, this one can be up for debate, but it can be really frustrating when nobody else is doing it!

TEAMWORK

Oh. My. God. This is so freaking important. While a little party strife can be healthy for your group, creating characters specifically to fight other party members is what we call a “dick move.” I’ve seen this in so many games I’ve run, and it’s always redundant and stupid. Or, your character might be the “Mysterious Loner” who hates everyone and prefers to work alone.

Well then what the heck are you doing with a group in the first place?

Parties are just that. Parties. Groups of people working towards a common goal. You have to work together to solve your problems. Like I said earlier. strife isnt always bad. In fact, it can be an awesome storytelling tool. But if one of your players decides to antagonize the others, well let him be the loner. He can play outside. By himself.

CHOO CHOO!

Railroading. The single worst thing a GM can do to you. Railroading is the act of pushing your player in the direction you want them to go, with no consideration of their plans, goals, or skills. Does your character have an incredible driving skill, and wants to drive to the location of the next quest? Steal their car or have it break down. That’ll teach them to take points in driving when i need them in a helicopter.

Did they track down the big bad? Nope! no matter what clues they may have found, nope! Because I’m not READY for them to find him. In fact, it’s all a red herring! WHEE!

Pushing your players is not roleplaying. It’s telling a story and forcing them along for the ride. And that sucks. HARD. Nobody likes that. If choice doesn’t matter, why play at all?

Dangling the carrot CAN be a good motivator, and letting the bad guy escape once or twice is going to irritate your players, but not if the payoff is big. Do they finally corner and defeat the baddie in an epic fashion? Sweet. They’ll love it. Just don’t overdo it. Don’t dangle and take the carrot all the time, or you’ll have a group of unhappy players.

There are oh so many more, but keep some of these in mind when you play/run a game. Take my suggestions to heart, or don’t. But if a group is getting together to game is to have fun, so remember that’s what really matters in the end.

Getting Into the Game

So, It’s easy to assume most of our readers are gamers. And if you’re not, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!

Ahem….

Anyway, today I want to talk about getting into your game. Especially Roleplaying games. I know a lot of people PLAY games like Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons, but how many of you LIVE it? How many of you LARP Vampire or other games?

It’s all about immersion. A game is a lot of fun, but a game can be even better when you invest yourself into it. Yes, I’m sure that brings images to your head, like the Dungeon Master that wears robes to his games, or the rogue who inexplicably shows up in Jedi garb, despite the fact you’re playing D&D. Well, they can count too, I suppose.

I freaking LOVE roleplaying games. And I like to invest a good deal of myself into each character I play. We don’t do the dungeon crawling variety of game, but tales of epic adventure with an emphasis on storytelling. As such, I feel it’s very important to get into my character’s head. What do they think? How would they feel?

Of course, the common dungeon hack and slash isn’t prone to this kind of immersion. (But it totally can be! no limits!)

Here are a couple of cool ways I’ve found to do this:

Keep a blog!: Yep. Good old fashioned blogging and social networking. Try setting up an account on Tumblr, or another site of your choice, and keep track of your character’s thoughts! This is especially awesome if your character is in a game set in modern times. Write what they see, what they feel, keep track of their experiences! They can be fun to read later! If the game is a little more archaic, you can keep a mere journal, or do the blog anyway, and call it “Ye Olde Journal” or something. Still works. I personally keep a blog for my World of Darkness character, with the occasional photos and such. It really went a long way toward helping me with immersion.

ART ART ART: This one is easy. Draw your character! If you don’t have talent, ask a friend! Commission an artist! Visual representations of your character can be really awesome. Everybody likes a visual! If you’re a minis painter, find a mini that looks like your character, and mod/paint it! This is especially cool if your game uses minis for combat. I draw my characters out whenever I make a new one, because it’s something to do, and it’ fun! But it doesn’t stop there! Paint something! is your character a poet or bard? WRITE SONGS AND POEMS! It’s something I think everybody can do with some thought.

BE THE CHARACTER: This one might come naturally to some players, but get out of the habit of describing what your character is doing or saying in the third person. YOU are the character. Don’t say “Mary Sue investigates the brothel.” Say “I’m going to investigate this very innocent and family friendly brothel” Instead. It’s simple. Be you. I promise it will be more fun! I suppose you could dress up like them if you want to as well.

BELIEVABLE NPCS: This one doesn’t come up much, and it’s more of a Gamemaster tip, but try to create NPCs with real personality and attitude. This goes a long way with your players, and opens up dialogue options that can wind up being hilarious or meaningful. Part of this is the whole “Act like your character” thing I mentioned earlier, but a GM that can ” be” memorable NPCs enriches the game greatly. I typically write out little personality profiles for my NPCs when running a game, and it helps tremendously.

UNDERSTAND THE SETTING: This is a no-brainer for ANY RPG player. Research your setting! If you’re in 1920’s Chicago, act like it! Use some of the slang! Don’t try to use a cell phone! They don’t exist! If this is a fantasy setting, don’t ask the GM if you can have a giant mecha! Again, simple, but helpful. My wife ran a game based in the 20’s, and I really spent my time researching phrases from then. (That I still never used.)

Those are just a few hints and tips! In the end, remember its important to make your OWN fun! We’ll see you next time when I touch on roleplaying pet peeves!

Adventure of Mythic Proportions!

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Have you played Scion yet?

If you have, you know how awesome is. If you haven’t, we’d like to take a minute to tell you about it!

Scion is an RPG by White Wolf, makers of the World of Darkness line, as well as Exalted. (Another one of our favorites!) In Scion, you play the offspring of the gods, tasked with coming into your power and using it to defeat the mythical Titans and their minions, and save the world from certain doom!

There are a wealth of divine parents to choose from, ranging from Greek Pantheons to lesser known ones like the Persian gods. Your powers come from your chosen parent, manifested in the form of awesome relics! As you grow in power, you’ll eventually become a god yourself, and you can follow in your pantheon’s footsteps, or even forge a world of your own! That’s the beautiful thing about role playing games, it’s all up to you!

A small group of us are currently playing, and having a blast! It’s an adventure set in the 1920’s, full of intrigue, heroes, villains, and RAGNAROK! We’ve got Yurie; a scientist and Scion of Amaterasu, Itzacoatl; the murderous Scion of Tezcatlipoca, Ayla; The hard punching avenger of justice and Scion of Tyr, and Cillian, a detective and Scion of Mannanan Mac Lir.

Like any other RPG, you can tweak your character any way you like, and even create your character’s legendary relics to whatever suits them, be it a sword that calls down lightning, a gun that never runs out of ammunition, or a device that allows you to transform into a costumed avenger! The choices can be as wild as your imagination! There are an array of different purviews of power, such as darkness, magic, death, and more that your character can master as well!

I can’t say enough good things about Scion. If you haven’t picked it up, and want a fun RPG to really get into, you can’t go wrong with Scion!